At The Asking Price, Swisher is a Better Sign Than Hamilton

10 11 2012

Posted by Will

Hamilton is a stellar player, he’s just not worth his asking price.

Most consider outfielder Josh Hamilton to be the cream of the crop of this year’s free agent market. It’s certainly hard to argue with that statement; Hamilton hit more home runs in the first two months of last year than any one Seattle Mariner managed to post over the whole season. But in taking his seven year, $175 million asking price into consideration, I’d much rather have Nick Swisher at a much lighter asking price on my team than the overly expensive Hamilton.Hamilton is as talented as anybody in the game, but $175 million is too much. Way too much. His $25 million average annual salary would give him the third highest annual salary in the history of the game behind Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees ($27.5 million) and Albert Pujols of the Angels ($25.4 million), and tied with Ryan Howard of the Phillies. His overall asking price would make him the eighth richest player in the history of the game, behind Rodriguez ($275 million), Pujols ($254 million), Joey Votto ($225 million), Prince Fielder ($214 million), Derek Jeter ($189 million), Joe Mauer ($184 million) and Mark Teixeira ($180 million). Hamilton has a number of flaws, both on the field and off the field, that should prevent teams from breaking the bank on his services.Over the course of his career, Hamilton’s been suspended a number of times due to drug and alcohol abuse, dating back to the start of his career in 2003. He’s very injury prone, as he has only played in 148 or more games once in his six MLB seasons. He is also seen as an inconsistent player; after starting out the first two months of last season hitting .370/.422/.763 with 23 home runs and 57 runs batted in, he then proceeded to slug a whopping .200/.286/.395 with 8 home runs and 25 runs batted in the following two months, finishing out the season hitting .278/.349/.559 with 14 homers and 44 runs batted in. In other words, the first third of the season he looked like the clear MVP frontrunner, the next two months he looked no better than a bench player, and at the end of the season he wasn’t an MVP, but he wasn’t a benchwarmer either.

While Hamilton has loads of upside, I’d much rather have Nick Swisher, who isn’t nearly as talented as Hamilton, but also won’t cost nearly as much and offers a lot more consistency.

Swisher has been very consistent throughout his career.

Since the 2009 season kicked off, Swisher has posted no less than 3.2 WAR but no more than 4.1 WAR. He’s averaged 3.75 WAR over that time, and using the 1 WAR/$4.5 million rule, Swisher has essentially been close to a $17 million player. Early reports out of the GM meetings say that Swisher will likely have to settle for a three or four year deal at about $11-13 million a year, which certainly falls short of his asking price of Jayson Werth-esque money.

Let’s just say that Hamilton decides to settle for a 25% discount and ends up signing for a six year, $130 million deal. Since 2009, Hamilton’s been a $20.5 million/year player, so you’re still going to be overpaying for him, even at a hefty discount. Even if a team decided to sign Swisher for say, five years and $75 million, quite a bit more than the reported contract he’ll likely have to settle for, you’re still going to be saving yourself a good $10 million which could be utilized to acquire other useful assets for your ballclub.

You may think that Swisher’s stats have been inflated due to playing in the hitter’s bandbox in New York, but he’s actually posted nearly identical stats away from Yankee Stadium since 2009, when he was traded from the White Sox:

Home: .269/.372/.460
Away: .267/.362/.504

Swisher has been a model of consistency throughout his career, and if teams are looking to get the best out of their buck, he would be a solid sign. While Hamilton is an outstanding player, he is likely going to be overpayed by a desperate team that will be constrained by his contract for the better part of the next decade.

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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.





Pine Tar And Pocket Protectors Gives Out Annual Awards – American League Edition

17 10 2010

Posted by Brady

We all love the annual awards. Rookie Of The Year, MVP, and Cy Young. And this year has been a doozy for all 6 of them. Today, we are focusing on the American League.

American League Rookie of The Year: Austin Jackson


Austin Jackson posted a 5.4 UZR, and had a catch that saved Armando Galarraga's not-quite-perfect-game.

Is there any award that is more sewn up then the AL Rookie of The Year? A 3.7 WAR, batting .293. Sure, he was on pace to break the all time single season strikeout record set by Mark Reynolds. But, he didn’t. He still lead the AL in getting K’d. He tied for second in triples behind Twins centerfielder and lead off hitter, Denard Span, with 10 (Carl Crawford hit 13). He ended up hitting .293/.345/.400.  He walked 7% of the time, which is right in line with

his career in the minors. Sure, he has no power, but you don’t really need power out of the lead off spot. On the defensive side of the ball, Jackson has been very rangy. A 5.4 UZR, and a catch that saved Armando Gallaraga’s not-quite-perfect-game. Sure, his .396 BABIP is unsustainable, and while Jackson had a great year, look for him to have a major sophomore slump.

Runner ups: Netali Feliz (TEX), Danny Valencia (MIN)

American League Cy Young Award: Felix Hernandez (SEA)


Hernandez was the picture of domination. He's one of the few pitchers in the league that I will watch to just watch.

The AL Cy Young Award is by far the most controversial. And you have two basic schools of thought when it comes to this award. Ability versus results. What should’ve been versus what was.  Here at Pine Tar and Pocket Protectors we tend to throw things like “wins” and “losses” to the wind. We let that old, senile, Hall of Famer, 2 time MVP, and 2 time World Series champion, who has Jon Miller as a broadcast partner talk about it. He shall remain nameless.

We here at PTAPP we like to believe that ability makes you the best. And the best gets the award. Is there anyone who out pitched King Felix this year? A 6.2 WAR, a 2.27 ERA, and he pitched 249.2 innings. Sure, his win-loss record is rather lackluster, but so was Zack Grienke’s last year. Hernandez was the picture of domination. He’s one of the few pitchers in the league that I will watch to just watch.

Runner ups: Cliff Lee (TEX/SEA) David Price (TBR)

American League MVP: Josh Hamilton (TEX)


Josh Hamilton put on the illusion that he was just hitting off a tee this year.

Just like the 2009 MVP, Joe Mauer, Josh Hamilton put on the illusion that he was just hitting off a tee this year. When Hamilton came up to the plate, if he didn’t get a hit, I was in shock. He hit .359 and had an OBP of .411. But he did it with power, posting an ISO of .273. Which ranked 3rd in the AL behind Jose Bautista and Miguel Cabrera. Hamilton got it done with more than just his big bat. He gave Texas solid defense in the outfield with a 7.9 UZR, and an ARM rating of 6.3.  Hamilton was the man this year, and with a WAR of 8.0. He lead baseball with that mark. Hamilton is the MVP this year. No question.

Runner ups: Miguel Cabrera (DET), Joe Mauer (MIN).





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.





Is Josh Hamilton The Next Willie Mays? Nolan Ryan Thinks So…

26 08 2010

Posted by Brady

Mays accumulated 9 or more WAR 9 times, en route to 163 WAR.

Tonight, while watching the Twins and Rangers game, ESPN kept on cutting to segments of an interview with new Rangers owner, Nolan Ryan. And me, not particularly interested in the boring, predictable things he was probably saying (we’re going to be competitive for a long time, I love this franchise, I hate pitch counts!), I used this time to go get a bowl of ice cream, or a can of coke. I did however her Nolan Ryan say something very interesting. “Josh Hamilton is the closest thing to Willie Mays we’ve seen.” That statement absolutely floored me. This is no slight to Josh Hamilton, the man is a very impressive player, with power for days, and he has a fantastic glove in the outfield, but…Willie Mays?

Now, when comparing a player from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, keep in mind that a lot of data just isn’t available. No UZR, no plate discipline information, there is a lot of stuff that just isn’t available.

The man who owns 660 home runs, and 3283 hits. Or, in other words, one out of every five of his hits left the yard. He walked more than he struck out 10 times, he was successful in stealing a base 338 times out of an attempted 441 times. 77% of the time he was successful.

Mays posted ISO (a personal favorite statistic) of .300 or more on 4 separate occasions. Keep in mind he didn’t play in a bandbox by any means. The Polo Grounds, Candlestick Park, and Shea Stadium were all cavernous. In short, Willie Mays did whatever Willie Mays wanted, and nobody was going to stop him from doing it. Mays accumulated 163 WAR over his career. Essentialy, he could’ve gone undefeated in your standard AL Central season. A beast in every since of the word.

Josh Hamilton is having a great year, but Willie Mays he is not.

Now…Josh Hamilton? The man is a great ballplayer, and had he gotten to the league quicker, had not abused drugs, maybe this could be a conversation. It took him 7 years to make it to the bigs. His career started in Cincinnati in 2007. And in those 4 years, he has absolutely raked. 537 hits and 90 home runs. Six hits per home run, and while that is only one more hit than Mays, if you stretch that out over as long of a career as Mays had, one hit makes all the difference. Over his career, Hamilton has stolen 28 bases, and has been caught only 8 times. Thirty-six attempts, which is great, but Mays stole 40 in his age 25 season. Where was Hamilton in his age 25 season? Not in the Major Leagues. Hamilton has yet to post an ISO of .300. By the time Mays was 29, which is how old Hamilton is now, he had don it twice, and once had a .292 season.

And I understand that Nolan Ryan was trying to pump his player up, like any front office does, but, honestly. That was a little extreme.

How does ESPN counter Ryan’s claim? “I don’t see the Willie Mays comparison. He’s much more like Mickey Mantle.”