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.

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Benoit and the Tigers Changed the Relief Market

22 12 2010

Posted by BaconSlayer09

Benoit's great 2010 netted him a wealthy 3 year contract.

On November 19th, the Detroit Tigers made the first big free agent splash of the 2010-2011 off-season by signing 33 year old relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit to a 3 year $16.5 million deal with 3-plus million dollars in incentives, a deal that could possibly be worth around $20 million by its conclusion.

Benoit, who had a career year with Tampa in 2010, was coming off of surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2009 season when the Rays signed him to a minor league deal. The Dominican native rewarded the Rays with 60 innings of 1.34 ERA relief in 2010. Along with that, Benoit posted a high K rate of 11.19 per 9 innings and a freakishly low walk rate of 1.64 per 9 frames. Although his 1.34 ERA is unsustainable in the future, Benoit’s high K rate and low walk rate are reasons to be optimistic about Benoit’s next three years in the bullpen. However, just how optimistic should you be about a 33 year old relief pitcher with arm issues in the past that just came off a career year in which he was uncharacteristically lucky? Apparently, really optimistic if your name is Dave Dombrowski.

Matt Thornton has been baseball's most consistent setup man in the past three seasons.

I understand that the Tigers had around $70 million coming off the books and they can spend their money however they like, but that doesn’t mean you go out and overpay a reliever, especially one that is almost 35 who just came off an arm injury. Whether or not this deal made sense is one thing, but how it affects the rest of the market is another. Had Benoit signed a bit later, guys like Scott Downs, Matt Guerrier, and Jesse Crain might not have gotten 3 year deals in the 8 figure range. Nevertheless, the Benoit deal was a precedent and it gave the aforementioned guys a lot of bargaining chips, resulting in some fairly risky deals.

As most people know, middle and setup relief pitching always fluctuate on a year to year basis. The explanation is simple. Relief pitchers pitch less innings and one year, they may get lucky and the next, they may not. This is mostly because relievers are failed starters who have their faults and those faults could be exploited given the correct sample size. However, there are constants, albeit very few. Here the top 8 relief pitchers (non-closers) who have been consistent and efficient over the past three years (WAR dollar values are in parenthesis calculated at 4.33 million dollars per win).

  • Matt Thornton – 200 IP, 2.7 ERA, 2.46 FIP, 6.6 WAR ($28.6 MM).
  • Hong-Chih Kuo – 159 IP, 1.75 ERA, 2.18 FIP, 4.7 WAR ($20.4MM).
  • Grant Balfour – 181 IP, 2.98 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 4.2 WAR ($18.2 MM).
  • Darren Oliver – 203 IP, 2.71 ERA, 3.18 FIP, 4 WAR($17.3 MM).
  • Ryan Madson – 213 IP, 3 ERA, 3.11 FIP, 3.8 WAR ($16.5 MM).
  • Mike Adams – 169 IP, 1.81 ERA, 2.49 FIP, 3.8 WAR ($16.5 MM).
  • Rafael Betancourt – 189 IP, 3.9 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 3.6 WAR ($15.6 MM).
  • Scott Downs – 179 IP, 2.42 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 3.5 WAR ($15.2 MM).

From this list we can see only two relievers, Thornton and Kuo,  have been worth more than $20 million in WAR value over the past three seasons. Although the rest of the guys on the list are all very good relief pitchers, most of them don’t come all that close to the $20 million mark that Benoit will get if he gets all his incentives. This year, the estimate is that a win above replacement is worth around $5 million. If we don’t put inflation into the calculation (for simplicity sake), that pretty much says Benoit needs to put up at least 3-4 WAR over the next three seasons in order for the Tigers to break even on their contract. But what about all the other multi-year deals these other reliever signed? Here’s a breakdown.

  • Matt Guerrier – 3 years (2.4 WAR expected, 0.2 WAR over last three seasons).
  • Jesse Crain – 3 years (2.6 WAR expected, 1.7 WAR over last three seasons).
  • Bobby Jenks – 2 years (2.4 WAR expected, 1.9 WAR over last two seasons).
  • Scott Downs – 3 years (3 WAR expected, 3.5 WAR over last three seasons).
  • Joaquin Benoit – 3 years (3.3 WAR expected, 1.3 WAR over last three seasons).

Downs was the only free agent reliever who signed for a fair amount given his value in the past three seasons.

So from the looks of this, every team might have overpaid for their relief pitcher with the exception of the Angels with Downs. Although some of these figures are very, very close, we all have to realize that we must take regression into account for every one of these guys. None of the listed pitchers are all that young and they’re all starting to reach their 30s or mid 30s. So regression is not out of the picture at all. The inflation I didn’t take into account could possibly offset some of the regression (since each win will be worth more as time goes on), but in the end, the point is that most of these relievers got overpaid, mostly as a result of the precedent set by Benoit’s deal.

It’s very hard to find good, consistent, middle relievers and setup men these days. That was shown through the first set of relievers I listed. You’ll be hard pressed to find more than 15 non-closing relievers who can average a WAR of 1 or above in a three year period. Perhaps that’s why Dombrowski and the Tigers front office went all out to get Benoit. Maybe they saw how important a good back end of the bullpen is through teams like the Padres and Rays. Whatever they saw or thought, I still don’t think they made the best of moves by overpaying Benoit and setting a bad precedent. Because now a handful of other teams are stuck with some risky contracts as a result. Not to mention the Tigers are stuck with a $16.5-20 million commitment to a 33 year old reliever.





The 2011 Montreal Expos!

10 11 2010
Posted by WAMCO

The Montreal Expos moved to Washington DC in time to start the 2005 season. While the popular method to summarize their move was due to lack of support in Montreal, this does not really tell the whole story. The fans of the Expos did not have a chance. It is hard to be a fan of a team when you were more or less told, every year from 1995-onward, that your team was going to move. It is hard to support a team with an owner that abandoned them, and Major League Baseball had to take over. While MLB owned the team, they once famously refused to allow the team to make September call-ups while they were in a pennant race, putting them at a disadvantage. Like I say, the reasons for Montreal losing their team are far more complex than the attendance issues. However, this discussion is for another day.

As the 2011 season approaches, I got to thinking about some of the great players that played in Montreal. Every now and then, watching a ball game, I’ll see someone like Vladimir Guerrero or Carl Pavano and think, “he used to play in Montreal.”

Of course, if the Expos were re-formed, Youppi would be a big part of it. After the Expos moved to Washington, Youppi signed as a free agent with the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL, so he is still active in the community!

How many players who played in Montreal are still out there? I decided to attempt to construct an all-Expos line-up, comprised of active players who played for Montreal at some point (much thanks to baseball-reference.com for assistance with this research!). This includes guys who signed free agent contracts with the Expos, but does not include minor leaguers that were traded before they reached the majors (so, sadly, no Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore or Brandon Phillips for this team). Here goes:

Catcher – This position was a problem. Brian Schneider is the only active catcher to have played a game with the Expos, and quite obviously his best years are behind him. Gregg Zaun signed a free agent contract with the Expos in the offseason of 2003, so for now I am going to cheat a bit and include him as the backup catcher.

Infield – This group will need a lot of luck if they are to avoid the injuries that have plagued their careers. At first base, we have the made-of-glass Nick Johnson. When healthy, Johnson can still provide decent on-base numbers. At second base, Macier Izturis, currently of the Angels, who had a cup of coffee with Montreal in 2004. This team will need him to repeat his numbers from 2009. The shortstop will be Orlando Cabrera. Throughout his career, Cabrera has been mis-cast as a top of the order type. He will continue to be mis-cast in that role here. At third base, the much-traveled Fernando Tatis, who shows how much we are really scraping the bottom of the barrel here. Backup infielders include many serviceable players, such as Geoff Blum, Brendan Harris and Jamey Carroll, who will all be required to help out. Mark Grudzielanek is somehow still eligible for this team, as he had a handful of at bats in 2010, but for now he will be in AAA.

Outfield/DH – The Expos used to play in the National League, but they are getting a DH here, due to the age of the players. Outfield defence will be an issue for this team, but there are some decent hitters available. The left fielder will be Milton Bradley, who started his major league career with the Expos. In center field, Ryan Church will be called upon to make up for Milton’s lack of range. In right field, Juan Rivera, currently of the Angels, will be counted on for his solid bat. Finally, at designated hitter, we are smarter than Ron Washington, and will not subject Vladimir Guerrero to the field. He will be counted on for his productive bat, and will definitely be burning his glove. Fernando Tatis can back up at the outfield corners, and someone will need to emerge as the backup in center (I suppose it would have to be Bradley, that is unfortunate…..).

Starting Rotation – This is definitely the strength of this team. There are many decent-to-good starters currently in the majors that have played for the Expos. The number one starter will be Carl Pavano, who has really turned his career around after his terrible run in New York. The number two starter is Ted Lilly, who did not pitch long for Montreal, but has turned into a solid starter. The number three starter will be Javier Vasquez. Hopefully the 2009 Vasquez shows up, and not the 2010 version. The 4th starter for these Expos will be Livan Hernandez, who was actually good in 2010 (I didn’t believe it either, look it up). Rounding out the rotation will be Shawn Hill, giving the team some Canadian content. Hill pitched well down the stretch in Toronto last year, coming off major surgery.

Bullpen – Another strength for this team, there are several solid relievers for them to go to in the late innings. Jon Rauch, who spent time closing for Minnesota in 2010 will handle the closing duties. Scott Downs, the solid set-up man for Toronto, will handle the 8th inning, with assistance from Miguel Batista, who has had two solid years of relief in a row (I couldn’t believe it, but it appears to be true). Guillermo Mota, Chad Cordero and Gary Majewski are all on the downside of their careers, but can all be effective middle relievers for this team. And when the game gets out of hand, Claudio Vargas can be counted on in long relief.

In summary, here are your 2011 Montreal Expos. Obviously, the line-up has seen better days, but given perfect health, it’s not the worst pitching staff I’ve seen. I think they’d win 70 games with some luck….. what do you all think?

Batting Order:
SS Cabrera
2B Izturis
1B Johnson
DH Guerrero
RF Rivera
LF Bradley
CF Church
3B Tatis
C Schneider
Bench:
C Zaun
UT Harris
UT Carroll
UT Blum
Rotation:
SP Pavano
SP Lilly
SP Vasquez
SP Hernandez
SP Hill
Bullpen:
CL Rauch
SU Downs
SU Batista
MR Majewski
MR Cordero
MR Mota
LR Vargas