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.





Derek Jeter and Gold Gloves: The Love Affair Continues

10 11 2010

The voters must have taken the number of Derek Jeter fist pumps into account when voting for Gold Glove awards over the past decade.

Posted by BaconSlayer09

It truly amazes me how much of a joke the Gold Glove awards have turned into. Maybe it’s because I’m biased since there’s sabermetric stats out there that can disprove the eye, but even some of the more traditional fans out there will agree that Derek Jeter shouldn’t be winning Gold Gloves anymore. I mean seriously, the guy hit .270 last year  with one of worst OPS figures in his career and he still wins a Gold Glove? If that’s all the offensive production you need to win one of these things, maybe Jhonny Peralta should be considered too. Sarcasm aside, the award has turned into a reputation contest. If Derek Jeter plays next year and puts up even worse numbers, my bet is that he somehow wins the damn thing again. Is there a way to fix it? Well, maybe we should start off by making Derek Jeter retire, that might be a good start. The good news here is that Franklin Gutierrez, UZR extraordinaire,  finally got awarded for being one of the best defenders in baseball. The voters do get some of these things right, like Evan Longoria, Ichiro, Franklin Gutierrez, Joe Mauer, etc. These guys are some of the best defensive players at their respective positions. However, even if you mess one of these up, people will complain. Are we, the people, being nitpicky? Maybe, but we just want to see justice served. To make myself, and hopefully you, feel better, I’m going to be handing out the Sabermetric Gold Glove Awards today, but don’t get too excited, this post will only contain the AL winners.

American League

Catcher: Matt Wieters (BAL) – You may be wondering, why not Joe Mauer? There is no easy answer to this question, as it’s truly hard to defend a catcher’s defense using statistics. There is one statistic though – Stolen Base Runs (rSB). John Dewan’s Plus/Minus (Defensive Runs Saved) keeps track of how many runs a catcher has saved by throwing out base runners. Wieters led the American League in this category in 2010. Mauer finished at -1 in rSB. I have nothing against Mauer, he’s also a very good defensive catcher. But from fan scouting reports and rSB, Wieters definitely had a very good season. Runner-ups:  Joe Mauer, Jose Molina, and A.J. Pierzynski.

First Base: Daric Barton (OAK) – Daric Barton led all of baseball in first base Ultimate Zone Rating at 12.1. Barton also made a dazzling 51 scoops at 1B, most likely saving Cliff Pennington, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Mark Ellis from committing numerous errors. He led the league in Zone Rating, as well as plays made out of his zone. With the combination of sure-handedness and range, Barton is one of the premiere defensive first basemen in baseball. Runner-ups: Justin Morneau, Justin Smoak, and Carlos Pena.

Kouzmanoff is far from a house-hold name, but statistically speaking, he is one of the best 3B in the AL.

Second Base: Orlando Hudson (MIN) – After numerous off-years defensively, the O-Dog stepped up his game after returning to the American League. Hudson and J.J. Hardy helped anchor the Minnesota Twins infield, one of the better best in all of baseball. Hudson’s 9.8 UZR and 17 defensive runs saved are both tops at his position in the American League. Hudson showed incredible range (9.6 range runs and 36 out of zone plays) while showcasing his reliability (2.3 error runs and a .824 zone rating). A close second was Mark Ellis, who actually topped Hudson in UZR. However, considering Ellis had one of the best defensive 1B in baseball to throw to while Hudson had to deal with Michael Cuddyer for half a season, it became apparent that Hudson was more deserving. Runner-ups: Mark Ellis, Dustin Pedroia, and Aaron Hill.

Third Base: Evan Longoria (TBR) – This was one of the hardest decisions to make while writing this article. The American League has three very, very, good defensive 3B. Those three are Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, and Kevin Kouzmanoff. To some of you, the first two names make sense, but who the hell is Kevin Kouzmanoff, you may ask. Kouzmanoff led all AL 3B in UZR, about 6 runs better than both Longoria and Beltre. However, DRS said that Longoria and Kouzmanoff were pretty much similar at 13 defensive runs saved. Here is where the reputation game starts. Kouzmanoff is a nobody, I haven’t seen many of his games and I don’t think many of you have either. Thus, I had to get some input. So I went to FanGraphs and found Tom Tango’s fan scouting reports. They read something like this – Longoria was the best of the 3 at a rating of 86 (extremely good), Beltre was second at 77 and Kouzmanoff went last at 58 (still a decent rating). So after some thought, I decided to give the award to Longoria. Slightly biased? Probably, but you can’t go wrong with either of the three. Runner-ups: Adrian Beltre, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Jose Lopez.

Shortstop: Alexei Ramirez (CHW) – Contrary to the previous award, this decision was one of the easiest. In just one season, Alexei Ramirez transformed himself into one of the best defensive shortstops in all of baseball, if not the best. The Cuban Missile led the American League in Shortstop UZR (10.1) as well as Defensive Runs Saved (16). After being criticized for being inconsistent and somewhat “baseball-stupid”, Ramirez cut down his mental mistakes in 2010 and delivered some of the most amazing range I have ever seen (67 plays made out of his zone).  What about the glorious Derek Jeter? Let’s just say he made about half of the out of zone plays Ramirez did and had a UZR that was 15 runs worse. Runner-ups: Cliff Pennington, J.J. Hardy, and Elvis Andrus.

Ramirez's strong arm and great range make him one of the best shortstops in the game.

Left Field: Carl Crawford (TBR) – This was another tough decision. Gardner or Crawford? Crawford or Gardner? Thank goodness we have the stats on our side. Oh wait, they say these two are pretty much the same. Crawford did lag behind Gardner in UZR by about 4 runs, but DRS said they were virtually the same fielders. The great thing about Plus/Minus is that their components are easier to see and understand. Crawford had a lot more balls hit to him in his zone (263 as opposed to Gardner’s 168). Crawford also had a better zone rating, put two and two together and the answer is that Crawford had more chances and also capitalized on those chances at a better rate. Making him a lot more valuable to the Rays’ defense than Gardner was for the Yankees. Therefore, Crawford is the victor, but only by a tiny margin. Runner-ups: Brett Gardner, Juan Pierre, and Josh Hamilton.

Center Field: Franklin Gutierrez (SEA) – Like the case with Crawford and Gardner, Gutierrez did not lead the AL in center fielder’s UZR. Julio Borbon did and Coco Crisp was a close second. Gutierrez was third, but that’s not the entire story. Gutierrez was one of the best in DRS and he had by far the most amount of fly balls hit to him (Seattle had lots of fly ball pitchers). His zone rating and out of zone plays also weren’t extremely staggering. All in all, this was a great year for American League center fielders, but Gutierrez’s reputation and talent almost makes some of the UZR and DRS data pointless. For example, Coco Crisp was second in UZR in CF, but he only played about a half of the innings Gutierrez played. Julio Borbon led the AL in CF UZR and he only played there for 1000 innings. Therefore, some of that data could be flawed based on sample size. Say whatever you like, but I just have to give the award to Gutierrez. Runner-ups: Julio Borbon, Austin Jackson, and Alex Rios.

Austin Jackson's great rookie campaign was aided by his great defense in center field.

Right Field: Ichiro Suzuki (SEA) – We’re almost finished, but we’re not quite there yet. Can you imagine watching Gutierrez and Ichiro playing defense in the same outfield? I’m jealous of Seattle fans sometimes, but then I remember their inability to score runs and erase that idea completely out of my head. Ichiro, at the old age of 36, was still able to cover a lot of ground (17 range runs) and make a number of great plays (95 out of zone plays). The future hall-of-famer ended the season with an impressive 15.6 UZR and +12 DRS, both tops in the AL at his position. Runner-ups: Nelson Cruz, J.D. Drew, and Ben Zobrist.

There you have it. By my count, the actual voters got the entire outfield correct, but they definitely didn’t do a great job of evaluating the left side of the infield. Plus, let’s not forget about our buddy Derek Jeter. Hopefully, the Gold Glove awards can mean something again in the near future. Until then, I hope these selections can keep you sane. The NL edition will be coming up shortly.

Note: My opinions are not the opinions of every writer here at Pine Tar and Pocket Protectors. If you have hate mail or just want to make fun of me for using nerdy stats, please send all hate mail to BaconSlayer09.





Potential Hall of Famer: Joe Mauer

28 09 2010

This is the third installment of PTPP’s ongoing series about current players, who could one day be enshrined in Cooperstown. The greatest of this generation. We’re not talking about Albert Pujols, Derek Jeter or Ichiro. We’re

Right now, when Joe Mauer comes up to bat at Target Field, they play "What You Know About That?" but they could easily play the theme from "The Natural"

talking about Chase Utley, and Miguel Cabrera. And today, we’re going to focus on the man behind the dish. Four time All-Star, one time Most Valuable Player, who was also drafted number one, overall. Ahead of Mark Prior and Mark Teixeira. The face of the Minnesota Twins franchise Joe Mauer.

Advanced statics, such as WAR, don’t really illustrate a catcher’s value. His career WAR comes solely from his offensive numbers, as there is not yet a reliable defensive metric for catchers. That being said, Mauer could end up being the greatest hitting catcher of all time. Take a guess as to which of the following four catchers is who.

Catcher A: .308/.377/.545

Catcher B: .267/.342/.476

Catcher C: .327/.408/.428

Catcher D: .285/.348/.482

Catcher A is Mike Piazza, B is Johnny Bench, C is Mauer, and D is Yogi Berra. As we can plainly see, Mauer gets on base more than any of them, but he has less power than all of them. But his raw hitting, is superior to all of them. Which makes sense. He does have three batting titles.

Mauer has been said to have the greatest left handed swing since Ken Griffey Jr.'s.

Only 2 catchers in history have a batting title. Bubbles Hargrave in 1926, and Ernie Lombardi won two. One in 1938 and one in 1942.  Mauer has been said to have the greatest left handed swing since Ken Griffey Jr.’s. Sports Illustrated said he’s the best bet to be next player to hit over .400.  His 2009 season proved that he is capable of Roy Hobbs-esque feats.

The only thing that has derailed him are a few injuries, but he’s always come better than before.

Right now, when Joe Mauer comes up to bat at Target Field, they play “What You Know About That?” but they could easily play the theme from “The Natural” like they do in Texas for Josh Hamilton, and I don’t think anyone could blame them.

In Minnesota, you can say to anybody on the street, and say “What did Joe do last night?” And you’ll get one of two responses. It will either be “I don’t watch baseball.” Or “3-4 with a double and 2 RBIs.” He’s truly loved here. Any baseball fan knows how much Twins fans swoon over Kirby Puckett. Kirby has nothing on Joe. He’s just a local St. Paul boy, making good.





Back to the Future: Mark Prior

6 09 2010

Posted by cubs223425

My procrastination occasionally causes me great stress. Then there are those occasional times that it benefits me. This time is the latter. I have been meaning to post another article on the 2011 1B option for the Cubs (and I will…eventually!), but I’ve been thinking about school and being lazy. Then, I saw that the Texas Rangers had signed Mark Prior. I knew immediately that the aforementioned Cubs article would have to wait (a bit more on that shortly).

So, I was set to start an article on the reappearance of Mark Prior. Of course, though, I was too lazy. I played Call of Duty. I managed my fantasy baseball teams. I banned TrueBlue (I’m sure there were cheers). Well, it all worked out in the end, because now that I shook off the apathy, I started this article on the perfect day.

If Prior can return to his dominant form and stay healthy out of the bullpen, he could possibly snag himself a deal with another big league club this offseason.

Why is today the perfect day? Because Mark Prior made his debut for the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the PCL (AAA) affiliate of the Texas Rangers last night. When I started following baseball, Prior was the guy I latched onto. He was my favorite player, and will always be, whether he comes back on a white stallion or flames out in the minors and gets hurt again. In his one inning of work, Prior threw 16 of his 28 pitches for strikes, allowing two hits, walking one, and striking out a pair of Omaha Royals (he lucked out of facing Mike Moustakas, thankfully). While the RedHawks ultimately lost 9-1, it was a rare occurrence where you could legitimately claim a moral victory.

Anybody who has followed baseball for more than a couple of years knows the story of Mark Prior. #2 pick (behind Joe Mauer). Can’t-miss prospect (leading to that record bonus; a record Stephen Strasburg broke last year). Savior of the Cubs. Well, it seemed to be that way back then.

Prior came onto the scene in Chicago in 2002, after making the AA and AAA hitters he faced to start the year look like children. He posted a  solid 3.32 ERA in 19 starts, good for a  122 ERA+. The following season, there was no minor league stop to make. It was his time, and everyone knew it.

Working off of his previous season’s success, Prior was a dominant ace for the Cubs, as they worked their way into the playoffs behind a deadly pitching staff (anchored by what was thought to be an unstoppable force of Carlos Zambrano, Prior, and Kerry Wood–plus Matt Clement and Shawn Estes). Even looking now, I wonder how he managed the numbers: 211 1/3 IP, 18-6, 2.43 ERA, 1.103 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 4.9 K/BB, 179 ERA+*

*Looking into the 2003 Cy Young voting, I saw Prior finished 3rd. Who won that year? Eric Gagne, and his 337 ERA+, 337! Seriously, what happened to him? You don’t forget how to pitch like that.

Of course, if you know the success, you know the failure. No need to go through the stats, but here’s basically how it went:

Steve Bartman robbed Moises Alou of a catch (that he said he couldn’t get, then said he could). Prior and the Cubs imploded in Game 6 after that, then in Game 7. The Florida Marlins won the World Series, one that Chicago could have gotten if they went into a matchup with the New York Yankees with Prior, Wood, and Zambrano. Then the injuries came.

Honestly, I was too young to remember it all. It was just a constant, depressing blur. The shoulder went. Prior came back. It went again. There was the collision that started it all. There was a liner off of his elbow–the one thing I can still vividly remember; seeing it slam off his elbow. Watching Aramis Ramirez dive into foul territory to make the catch (yeah, he was hit so hard he produced a line out in foul territory to third). Knowing he was gone for a LONG time (even someone as young as I was knew elbows don’t survive that).

This was my guy. I followed him almost religiously. He was my first baseball jersey. Heck, he was baseball to me. I watched all of this, and I didn’t wonder if the baseball gods hated him. I wondered if they hated ME.

He made a few attempts to come back in Chicago, but he kept ending up under the knife. Over. And over. And over. Eventually, the magic was gone, and Prior was, too. He made a couple of attempts with the San Diego Padres, but to the same disastrous ends. But he got an indie league to sign him this season.

Prior made a few appearances, totaling 11 innings. He struck out 22 of the 44 batters he faced. His fastball sat in the 90-92 range, close to what he typically threw pre-injuries (according to him; I was too young to care for MPH when I watched him). Apparently, that domination was enough to convince Texas to take a chance. So far, so good.

Now, here we are, more than 9 years after Prior was Stephen Strasburg. He’s turning 30 tomorrow (September 7th), older than the 21 he was when he made his MLB debut, but nowhere near Jamie Moyer.

Sadly, though, he was signed a few days short of the postseason deadline, but that may be for the best. He can finish up the AAA season and throw some side sessions, all at his own pace. Then, next year, he can show up to Spring Training with the chance to earn a roster spot.

He said himself he doesn’t care about where he gets slotted. Of course, he’s not going to be made a starter (maybe in a year or so, he could, but unlikely). He talks of taking a middle reliever’s job, hoping to be given an occasional 8th inning job. Who know? Maybe he can follow in his former rotation-mate Kerry Wood’s footsteps and become a closer.

But no matter what happens, I’ll still be here–awaiting this rehab as eagerly as the first.





Joe Mauer’s Defense

18 08 2010

This article was written on August 4th, after a game against Tampa Bay.

In Twins Territory this year, there has been a lot of talk about people moving Joe (Baby Jesus) Mauer from catcher to another position. Third? Right field? Who knows. Mainly due to Mauer’s pre-All-Star Break Slump. And this year, I’ve sat in amazement as people complain about Joe Mauer. And, I’ve yet to see why. Is he hitting .365 with 28 home runs this year? No. He’ll end up around .325, with 10 home runs. Prior to tonight’s marathon game with Tampa Bay, our boy Joe is hitting .318/.387/.472. He’s second in MLB with 34 doubles, and he’s striking out less than he did last year. His batting average on balls in play is .339, And while he doesn’t possess Carl Crawford speed, he can steal a base if he needs to. Joe Mauer can do it all. And if he didn’t have to deal with the rigors of catching, he’d hit for power as well.

The only problem with that, is Joe Mauer is an elite defensive catcher. The Gold Standard, of course is Yadier Molina. Yadi has thrown out almost half of would be base stealers, and holds his pitchers to an ERA of 2.99, though it should be stated his pitchers are Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and rookie sensation, Yadier Molina. Compared to Joe’s 4.30, with a rather pedestrian starting staff. Though, Yadi has had more opportunities to pick off thieves than Joe. Molina has caught 43% of thieves to Joe’s 27%. Molina is clearly better policing the bathpaths than Joe is.

But, when you look at F20% (percentage of balls fielded that resulted in an out) Mauer is at a spotless 100%. Molina is at 91% (full disclosure: Mauer has had 20 chances, Molina has had 34).

BF20% (percentage of bunts fielded that have resulted in an out) tells a similar story. Mauer is once again perfect, with Molina at 87%. Once again, full disclosure Mauer has had 6 chances this season, to Molina’s 15.

Throughout their careers, however it still stands that Mauer is the superior fielder to Molina. Molina’s career F20% and BF20% is 88% and 80% respectively, to Mauer’s 97% and 86%.

On blocking balls, they are mirror images of each other, with Mauer and Molina both having 4 passed balls and 21 wild pitches.

When you look at the limited amount of catching metrics out there, Mauer and Molina are rather close when it comes to just about everything apart from preventing larceny.

That is why Joe isn’t getting moved from catcher anytime soon.