My Projected American League All-Star Roster

23 06 2012

Posted by Will

MLB All Star GameWhen I vote for the All-Star team every season, I vote for the players that truly deserve to make it to the Midsummer Classic. But most people have a different mindset. The All-Star game has become a popularity contest, not a game that features the game’s best players. Hence the reason that Derek Jeter has essentially won the shortstop vote once again by a landslide despite the fact that he isn’t even top-5 in the AL in shortstop WAR produced thus far in 2012.

Every year, the manager of both leagues will tend to take a few of his players. That’s the way it’s always been. And chances are that the Royals will have a few representatives of their own considering that the game is being played in their home park. There is also the rule that every team must have at least one representative.

So, here’s my list. I mostly used WAR to determine the team. You may agree or disagree with what I have here but remember that this actually has a little logic behind it. I tried to put together a team that has put up the best numbers yet may also appeal to a normal fan that is only familiar with the big names.

Starting Lineup:
C – Joe Mauer (Twins)
1B – Paul Konerko (White Sox)
2B – Robinson Cano (Yankees)
3B – Brett Lawrie (Blue Jays)
SS – Elvis Andrus (Rangers)
OF – Josh Hamilton (Rangers)
OF – Adam Jones (Orioles)
OF – Mike Trout (Angels)
DH – David Ortiz (Red Sox)

Projected Lineup:
1. CF – Mike Trout
2. RF – Adam Jones
3. 2B – Robinson Cano
4. LF – Josh Hamilton
5. DH – David Ortiz
6. 1B – Paul Konerko
7. C – Joe Mauer
8. 3B – Brett Lawrie
9. SS – Elvis Andrus

Reserve Position Players:
C – A.J. Pierzynski (White Sox)
C – Matt Wieters (Orioles)
1B – Mark Teixeira (Yankees)
1B – Prince Fielder (Tigers)
2B – Ian Kinsler (Rangers)
2B – Jason Kipnis (Indians)
3B – Adrian Beltre (Rangers)
3B – Mike Moustakas (Royals)
SS – Asdrubal Cabrera (Indians)
SS – Derek Jeter (Yankees)
OF – Mark Trumbo (Angels)
OF – Jose Bautista (Blue Jays)
OF – Josh Reddick (Athletics)

Starting Pitchers:
RHP – Justin Verlander (Tigers)*
RHP – Jake Peavy (White Sox)
RHP – Jered Weaver (Angels)
RHP – Jason Hammel (Orioles)
LHP – David Price (Rays)
LHP – Chris Sale (White Sox)
LHP – C.J. Wilson (Angels)

Relievers:
RHP – Joe Nathan (Rangers)
RHP – Chris Perez (Indians)
RHP – Fernando Rodney (Rays)
LHP – Charlie Furbush (Mariners)
LHP – Tim Collins (Royals)

All-Stars By Team:
Angels (4) – Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson
Athletics (1) – Josh Reddick
Blue Jays (2) – Brett Lawrie, Jose Bautista
Indians (3) – Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera, Chris Perez
Mariners (1) – Charlie Furbush
Orioles (3) – Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Jason Hammel
Rangers (5) – Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre, Joe Nathan
Rays (2) – David Price, Fernando Rodney
Red Sox (1) – David Ortiz
Royals (2) – Mike Moustakas, Tim Collins
Tigers (2) – Prince Fielder, Justin Verlander
Twins (1) – Joe Mauer
White Sox (4) – Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, Jake Peavy, Chris Sale
Yankees (3) – Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter

Total All-Stars: 34
* = Projected Starting Pitcher

All-Star Almosts:
2B – Ben Zobrist (Rays)
3B – Kyle Seager (Mariners)
3B – Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
SS – Mike Aviles (Red Sox)
SS – J.J. Hardy (Orioles)
OF – Alex Gordon (Royals)
OF – Josh Willingham (Twins)
OF – Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners)
OF – Curtis Granderson (Yankees)
OF – Alejando De Aza (White Sox)
OF – Colby Rasmus (Blue Jays)
DH – Edwin Encarnacion (Blue Jays)
SP – C.C. Sabathia (Yankees)
SP – Felix Hernandez (Mariners)
SP – Yu Darvish (Rangers)
SP – Matt Harrison (Rangers)
SP – Brandon Morrow (Blue Jays)
RP – Joaquin Benoit (Tigers)
RP – Scott Downs (Angels)
RP – Alexi Ogando (Rangers)

After taking over an hour to thoroughly research everything FanGraphs has to offer, this is what I have decided on. There were some big time snubs left off the list, namely Cabrera, Hernandez, Sabathia, and Darvish, who would have made the team had the rule of every team must have a representative not been in order. Some surprises from this list include the Red Sox having just one representative in Ortiz and the AL West having as many representatives as the AL East. Overall, I like this list and I think it would make for an interesting ballgame. Let me know what you think in the comments.





What the Beltre Signing Means for Texas

7 01 2011

After settling for a short-term deal last off-season, Beltre finally gets his big contract.

Posted by BaconSlayer09

You know that saying, “you learn something new every day”?  Well today, I learned that Adrian Beltre doesn’t like to be touched in certain places (don’t know what this is about? See this). And no, I’m not talking about down there. Although it might be interesting to know Beltre did get his left nut obliterated by a baseball once. See you learned two things today and both have to do with Adrian Beltre.

However, the majority of this post will have nothing to do with where Adrian Beltre prefers to get touched or whether or not he still has a testicle remaining. Instead, I’ll be breaking down that nice 5 year $80 million deal he just got from the Rangers and how Beltre will impact the Rangers this upcoming season. It looks like you’ll be learning more than just two things from me today.

Adrian Beltre is one of the premier third baseman in baseball and the contract he got doesn’t really surprise me. Here’s the breakdown of the contract – 2011: $14MM, 2012: $15MM, 2013: $16MM, 2014: $17MM, 2015: $18MM, and a $16 million vesting option for 2016 with a bunch of ways for the Rangers to avoid it. So there’s at least $80 million guaranteed in this deal. By today’s standards at $4.5 million per win, this expects Beltre to an 18 WAR player over the longevity of the contract. However, that’s a very inaccurate figure since we need to take inflation into account. Using Bill James and CAIRO projections for 2011, we can get an idea of how much Beltre will be worth this upcoming season. We will then regress his WAR by .5 each year (since he’s getting up there in age). At the same time, we will inflate the value of a win by 6% each year. This is a rough estimate of his value throughout the entirety of the contract.

2011: 5.0 WAR ($22.5MM)
2012: 4.5 WAR ($21.5MM)
2013: 4 WAR ($20.2MM)
2014: 3.5 WAR ($18.6MM)
2015: 3 WAR ($16.9MM)
2016: 2.5 WAR ($15MM)

From the looks of this rough estimate, Beltre’s value will exceed his contract every season until the last guaranteed year of his contract. He will likely not be worth his $16 million vesting option. Overall, Beltre brings $115 million of value in 6 years and $100 million in 5 years. So the Rangers’ net gain will be around $20 million in both scenarios. Now this is considering Beltre ages well and doesn’t suffer any crippling injuries. I can’t see into the future, but given Beltre’s pretty clean injury history, this should be a fairly accurate model. If these educated guesstimates are what’s going to happen, then the Rangers just got themselves a pretty good bargain on one of the best 3B in baseball.

Enough about five years down the road, the question now is how does he impact the Rangers in 2011? By combining CAIRO and Bill James projections for 2011, I took a look at just how good the Rangers’ lineup will be using Baseball Musing’s Lineup Analyzer.

1. SS Andrus
2. 2B Kinsler
3. LF Hamilton
4. RF Cruz
5. 3B Beltre
6. DH Young
7. 1B Moreland
8. C Torrealba
9. CF Borbon

This lineup averages 5.18 runs per game. If you replace Beltre with Guerrero and swap spots with Nelson Cruz, that lineup would produce 5.25 runs. The .07 run difference per game results in a difference of 11.3 runs per 162 games.

Beltre has been fairly inconsistent as a hitter. He seems to hit extremely well in contract years.

But that’s not all, you also have to take defense into consideration since Michael Young is now a DH and Beltre will be the starting 3B. No matter what the Gold Glove voters tell you, Michael Young is not a good fielder. Tom Tango’s fan scouting reports had Young as a -9 defender last season. Young’s total UZR in the past two seasons at 3B is -13. John Dewan’s DRS hates him the most, giving him a -31 rating over the past two seasons. If you combine these three, Young’s around a -9 defender at 3B.

On the other hand, pretty much everyone agrees that Adrian Beltre is one of the best defensive 3B around. Beltre’s total UZR in the past three seasons is 37.5, his DRS is a +55, and the fans say he’s saved 30 runs over the past two seasons. Put these three things together and Beltre averages out to be a +15 defender at 3B. Therefore, the difference between Young and Beltre on defense is around 24 runs.

In order to evaluate the net impact, we subtract the 11.3 run difference between having Beltre on offense instead of Guerrero from the 24 run difference between Beltre and Young’s defense. In the end, we end up with a number of 12.7, or something around 1.3 wins. Those 1.3 wins are worth $5.85 million in value for 2011. Beltre’s salary is $14 million this upcoming season. Therefore, Beltre’s if we subtract Beltre’s surplus value from his salary, we then end up with the salary that Guerrero should sign for in order for the Rangers to break even for 2011. That specific number is $8.15 million. After Guerrero’s bounce-back season last year, it would not surprise me if a team gives Guerrero $8 million, if not more.

So technically, it’s a wash for this season in terms of money. The Rangers end up gaining 1 win in signing Beltre instead of Guerrero and they also don’t overspend a ridiculous amount this season. If Beltre performs like he is projected this season and then does not regress more than the model I posted above, this is a very good deal for the Rangers in the short term and the long term.

Now, if you didn’t click on the link I posted above, here’s part of what you missed.

Beltre's signing probably means Rangers players shouldn't try to touch his head...





2011 Chicago Cubs: First Base

10 09 2010

Two articles in, and I haven’t even discussed the team I’m here to represent, the Chicago Cubs! If I can’t do that, why am I even here?

So, let’s get down to business. The Cubs sent Derrek Lee off to Atlanta a few weeks back, gaining a return of a few pitching prospects that some minors expert can analyze.

Derrek Lee was traded to the Braves at the July trade deadline for Robinson Lopez and two other prospects.

What I want to focus on is how this will affect the Cubs for next season.

As of now, Cubs fans have been getting a steady diet of Xavier Nady at first, with a dash of Micah Hoffpauir on occasion. We’ll ignore the five games Captain Quad A has manned first and focus on Nady to start. Nady’s defense definitely hasn’t been great. He has posted a -0.8 UZR, not terrible, but bad considering he is replacing the +2.1 UZR Lee was posting this year (along with a career +7.3).

Nady has never been much of a defender (his career UZR at his primary position of RF is a -12.7). As a hitter, getting the regular playing time at first has helped him a bit. He’s hit .289, but his lack of pop (.141 ISO at first) makes putting him on a team as an everyday 1B is a mistake. Without a serviceable option in the minors, the Cubs are going to have to look outward into the free agent pool this winter, in the hopes of finding a new (or old?) 1B.

Rather than spend ten pages going through all of the mediocre free agents (Lyle Overbay, Mark Katosay, Troy Glaus) or covering the bases with every trade option (Yonder Alonso, Chris Davis, Alex Gordon, etc.), let’s stick to the big boys: Lance Berkman, Derrek Lee, Adam Dunn, and Carlos Pena. The Cubs have a lot of money coming off of the books from Derrek Lee and Ted Lilly, so those funds need to go somewhere. The question is: where do they go?

First up, we’ll tackle the former Cub Derrek Lee. While he has always been a fan favorite and an outstanding defender (see the aforementioned UZR totals), it would be tough to see him back. His numbers were way down after a strong 2009, and he vetoed a trade to the Angels once. It makes me wonder if Cubs management basically a) begged him to leave to get some return on their investment, or b) told him to get lost because they were letting him walk either way. The defense and clubhouse presence would be nice, but the team needs some offense, and I cannot help but wonder if the man exited on less than ideal terms (and he probably wants to play for a sure-fire contender at his age).

Lance Berkman has an option for next year. At $15 million, it is a very pricey chunk of change for a man who has put up a 97 OPS+ as a Yankee and has been in steady decline for a couple of years now. Instead, look for him to get bought out by the Yankees (and watch the $13 million saved go towards Jeter’s salary). Defensively, he could be the piece the Cubs need to replace Derrek Lee. His UZR this year is a +3.8, even higher than Derrek’s +2.1. Still, he is a less than reliable hitter now, and I have heard nothing to indicate that the Cubs are looking at him. Personally, I think going after a guy that plays solid defense and can hit around .280 with an OPS over .800 would be splendid, but–as I said before–there are no signs pointing to this match.

Then we have the cream of the infield crop, Adam Dunn. Dunn has always been known as a masher with a glove of stone, and he still is, but his defense is less like that of a black hole this year, raising his UZR from a -14.3 to a -1.9. His hitting is still fantastic, though. His SLG is up a bit, but his OBP is way down (due to a drop in walks from 116 to 67 thus far), leading to a 13-point drop in OPS. The problem in signing Dunn is the money. Even a deep-pocketed team with a lot of free money like the Cubs would struggle with taking his deal on.

Although Adam Dunn would be the Cubs' #1 choice, his asking price is too steep for their taste.

His demands will likely sit in the 3+ years and $15 million+ range, and the Cubs are already trying to fix the messes of Carlos Zambrano and Kosuke Fukudome. To pile on, they will still be stuck with Alfonso Soriano’s ugly mistake until 2014, so taking an aging hitting machine is a risk, even one as consistently powerful as Dunn.

This leads us to my personal preference, Carlos Pena. That’s right, folks, I prefer the 33-tear old first baseman with a sub-.200 average. Why? Several reasons. First off, the walks. He may sport a saddening .203 average, buy his on-base percentage is still a useful .330, crazy for a guy to manage that, huh? His power is another bonus as well. Fans and critics have begged for a power bat from the lefty side for years (Dunn could work, but the money hurts).

Although Pena sports a mediocre .203 batting average, his power numbers and and strong BB% could help the Cubs in 2011.

He should be good for about 30-35 home runs for a few more years, and that would help to break up the monotony of Byrd, Ramirez, and Soriano.

Of course, the man is far from flawless. His average is a mess. Even his career average is a weak .242. His defense has been suspect for a couple of years now, and one does not typically have a spiritual awakening with the glove at age 33. The final reasoning I prefer Pena to the other options is probably the most important: the commitment.

I expect Carlos Pena to take the Adrian Beltre route next year. He will look for a reasonably priced deal for 2011, and will in turn try to restore some value to his stock before looking for one last multi-year deal before 2012. His price tag should sit in the $5-8 million range, and that is more than reasonable for a power bat at a position the Cubs desperately need production. Grabbing Pena would allow them to look for a prospect to groom for a year or two (maybe the Red Sox would send them Lars Anderson?), while not costing them the entirety of their offseason budget.

This way, the Cubs can look to fill the other holes they have this offseason: the back-end of their rotation and the bullpen.





2011: The Class of Carl Crawford

26 08 2010

Posted by cubs223425

In the offseason following the Yankees’ return to the top of the baseball world, the free agent hitting class lacked a sort of pizzazz (or as the bland may call it, depth).  Granted, there were a few secondary names on the market (Jason Bay, Chone Figgins–both who have flamed out), along with a few surprises (Adrian Beltre’s remembering what sport this is, Marlon Byrd’s anti-Bradley impact). Whether you were in favor of the contract he got or not (I was not), Matt Holliday was the clear-cut prize among the free agent bats last winter.

Holliday turned a stellar stint with the Cardinals (168 OPS+) into a ludicrous 7-year deal worth $120 million guaranteed (that can become 8/$136 million). Maybe this deal doesn’t look so puzzling in a market other than this past one, but the man had one legitimate suitor that would realistically fork over the money. The St. Louis Cardinals paid a premium for a premium talent in a not-so-premium market. Many teams were unable to spend big money, and even fewer had a desire to spend that much money on Holliday. Now, this deal has set the table for the biggest free agent hitter on the market after the 2010 season, Carl Crawford.

Like Holliday, Crawford is an elite left fielder, with the only other left fielder that can hold his own with Crawford’s astounding numbers being Texas’ Josh Hamilton, who we have seen can get hurt or fall on his face almost at will. Unlike Holliday, Crawford is a top-of-the-order hitter with super-human speed and an even better glove (a +22.1 UZR this season). So, how will Crawford’s contract stack up to that of Matt Holliday? Well, let’s compare the two:

Matt Holliday: Holliday was originally seen as a product of Coors Field, and not a whole lot more. The rugged start to his tenure in Oakland did little to quell the naysayers, and he was sent packing to St. Louis for a package centered around Brett Wallace (who was then sent to Toronto, then to Houston). That’s when it all changed. His defense was kind of rough at times (see: 2009 playoffs, 2010 All-Star game), but his bat was unquestionably destructive. What he did for the RedBirds put most of his Colorado work to shame, blasting 13 homers and rounding almost as many bases in 63 games with St. Louis (142) as he did with Oakland in 93 games (157). His .353/.419/.604 slash was monstrous, good for a 1.023 OPS.

Thanks to a stellar second half after being traded to the Cardinals in 2009, Matt Holliday was able to score a mega deal with the Cardinals, despite being a part of a relatively weak free agent class.

Now, in 2010, his numbers have simmered. His 168 OPS+ has dropped to 139 (his 2009 total, near his 133 career OPS+). At the time, though, he did more than enough to earn the big bucks as a free agent, and he definitely squeezed the Cardinals (who still have to worry about the Pujols negotiation) for every penny.

Carl Crawford: Crawford has seen his overall numbers take a rather odd turn. His slugging is up .021 (.452 to .473), but his OBP is down .015 (.364 to .349), meaning just a .006 rise in OPS+. But one must also account for the fact that his team has been on the losing end of 2 no-hitters this season, along with the league-wide dominance of pitchers this season. Now, that Crawford’s numbers have changed is not so much odd as that a #2 hitter is putting more over the wall and stealing fewer bases (though he’s still on a 162-game pace of 53.3).

According to UZR, Carl Crawford is the best defensive player in all of baseball.

Crawford has kept one thing consistent, though–his stellar defense. He is by far the best fielder in the game this season, with a +22.1 UZR (yes, that’s his UZR, not his UZR/150!). It is a 9.3 drop to second place, which belongs to Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce. The second-highest UZR among left fielder is an enormous drop to Juan Pierre’s +9.4 (a 12.7 drop). So, his UZR doubles that of the next-closest competition in left.

Where does all of this put Crawford in terms of a payday? It can be hard to say.

On one hand, you can argue that his bat doesn’t qualify him for as big of a payday as Holliday got. While the latter has a career 133 OPS+, Crawford’s got a somewhat surprisingly low 105 OPS+ for his career (though it sits at 120 this season). His place in the batting order does keep him from hitting in a lot of RBI situations, but he scores a lot of runs.

On the flip side, you have easily the best position player on the market. It just so happens he is the best fielder in baseball as well. You are getting an elite defender and base stealer, and while he may not be the masher Holliday is, he fits into either the 1- or 2-hole just fine, due to a high batting average, OBP, and buckets of steals. Either way, what he brings to the table is not the only deciding factor.

Last offseason, Holliday was it. Sure, you had Jason Bay there as well, but he was older, on bad knees, and a butcher in the field (that was masked by the Green Moster, which kept his lack of range from showing). After those two, you were staring into the abyss of Mark DeRosa and Mike Cameron, two players that have fallen well short of expectations. Now, after the 2010 season, the options are much better.

Crawford is still the cream of the crop, but you take a look immediately down, and you still have a dangerous Jayson Werth as a more than capable consolation prize. Even the next tier in this class is better. Some of the other outfielders available include Manny Ramirez, Aubrey Huff, Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez (who was hitting well before injury), Austin Kearns, and Jose Guillen. This crop of talent could keep Crawford from getting an insane deal, as could teams’ unwillingness to spend big like in the past. But with these added free agents comes an added need to fill those spots, and the list of suitors for Crawford is long.

Yankees: They always have money, even when you think they don’t.

Rays: Who know? Maybe they actually give out a big contract for once, since they are slashing Pena’s money from the payroll.

Angels: Seen as the favorite to sign him in many circles, even with Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu there, plus the up-and-coming Peter Bourjos.

Red Sox: Mike Cameron hasn’t worked out, and Mike Lowell and David Ortiz could both be off of the books

Those are just the beginning. All of these things–his production, Holliday’s production, the production of other free agents, money, and need–are all major factors in this contract. What will he get? Who knows? What should he get? I have a reasonable idea.

If I am Crawford, I do not even consider taking less money than Holliday. With so many big market teams in the hunt for him (Yankees, Red Sox, Angels), Crawford should not be afraid to call a team’s bluff. Even if he were to do so and strike out with one, you have at least two other teams with deep pockets to go to.

To be more specific, I think he should start at one of three places:

1. Take Holliday’s deal, and add $1 million on for each of the seven season, plus the option year and buyout. This takes the deal to 7 years at $18 million annually, plus another $18 million option for 2018, with a $2 million buyout. So, this adds up to a deal worth $128 million guaranteed, which is fair if you consider Holliday got near that in a relatively barren market. Otherwise:

2. Take the same deal as Holliday–including the $17 million annual salary–and tack on another year. Make it a deal with eight guaranteed years and an option for a ninth.  The deal is guaranteed eight years and $137 million, with the potential for nine years and $153 million. What’s behind door number 3?

3. Keep the same deal as option two, but without the option year. It is still a solid eight years and $136 million, more than enough to feed his family.

Crawford’s camp likely would want the second option, because it guarantees the most money, but teams would likely prefer the first option, because it contains the least amount of money. So, take the middle ground and choose option three. The team gets a good hitter, a great runner, and a transcendent fielder, and Crawford gets the biggest deal any outfielder will be offered in free agency for a while.

So, there it is–my first topic covered and a way Crawford gets the cheddar he deserves.