Sunday, June 1, 2014

Predictions for the National League

   So, I am quite a bit late on making this post, but I am going to make predictions about the National League nonetheless, and I will use the thought process I had thought of before the season started. Here are my predictions for the NL East, NL Central and NL West.

NL East: The Nationals should lock this division up, but anything can happen.

Washington National (92-70): The Nationals won the division back in 2012, which was a bit surprising, but failed to live up to expectations in 2013. They have what should be one of the best, if not the best rotation in baseball. Doug Fister, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman should form an overpowering quartet, and the offense the Nationals should receive should provide plenty of run support for the rotation. The bullpen is decent as well.

Atlanta Braves (88-74): The Braves probably would have been poised to repeat their success from last year, but with injuries to Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen, that now seems doubtful despite the signing of Ervin Santana. The offense does feature one of the games best first basemen in Freddie Freeman, and a powerful and athletic outfielder in Justin Upton, Chris Johnson is underrated, and Adrelton Simmons is a defensive wiz at short. The bullpen will dominate as always. I don't expect another division crown, but with the young talent of the Braves, anything is possible.

Miami Marlins (83-79): This prediction may seem far fetched, but the Marlins might have one of the most underrated yet best outfields in baseball, and they have brought veterans in to fill holes on their team. The bullpen should be good enough to keep them in games, and the starting rotation is full of young stars headlined by Jose Fernandez, and if everything goes well, this team could exceed many people's expectations, if there is a team that can pull an upset in the NL East, this is the one.

Philadelphia Phillies (80-82): Not much to be said, high payroll of under performing veterans with questions in the bullpen and rotation beyond Cliff Lee. The A.J. Burnett signing was a good move, but Cole Hammels is on the DL, and the team cannot afford anymore health issues. Plus, the team is banking on Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley to return to All-Star caliber players. Additionally, the team is counting on Dominic Brown to repeat his early 2013 success. Good luck with all of that.

New York Mets (73-89): David Wright seems to be on the DL every year, Bartolo Colon is 40, Curtis Granderson is coming off of injury, Matt Harvey is probably not going to pitch in 2014 and the bullpen and starting rotation honestly has a ton of question marks. This is not the year the Mets are going to turn it around.

NL Central: Pretty tough division to predict here.

St. Louis Cardinals (95-67): The team has a good rotation, headlined by Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and company, a bullpen that always seems to perform and an offense that knows how to perform with the likes of Matt Holiday, Johnny Peralta and Matt Adams in it. They should repeat their 2013 success.

Cincinnati Reds (88-74): They lost Choo, but they have one of the better rotations in baseball when healthy, one of the most disciplined hitters in the game in the form of Joey Votto, and they still have a formidable offense with stars like Jay Bruce in the lineup. The bullpen is solid as well, so the team should compete and could potentially get into the playoffs via the Wild Card.

Pittsburgh Pirates (84-78): The Pirates have an outstanding bullpen and offensive stars such as Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte, and the rotation should at least be decent with Gerrit Cole and veteran Wandy Rodriguez, but I do not quite buy the success they achieved last year, Francisco Lariano is a candidate to regress to being mediocre, and that makes the rotation questionable with a decent offense. They'll take a step back, but not a major one.

Milwaukee Brewers (80-84): This team should improve with Matt Garza in the fold, Kyle Loshe is consistent, and the offense should be good with Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, Aramis Ramirez, an underrated catcher in Jonathan Lucroy and perhaps Ryan Braun if he can put his recent issues behind him. The bullpen should be at least average, but this group faces tough competition and has a ways to go before challenging for the division crown.

Chicago Cubs (68-94): Poor Cubs, they still look to be a ways from contention, but Jeff Samardzija is one of the better pichers in baseball and perhaps Jason Hammel will be productive, but the bullpen has many holes and the offense may be decent with Anthony Rizzo and perhaps Mike Olt, but this team is just not good enough to compete. The future does look bright for the franchise though.

NL West: Dodgers should win this no problem, but this is baseball, and the Diamondbacks and Giants should challenge them.

Los Angeles Dodgers (94-68): They had a late season surge in 2013, but they should be more consistent this season and should have no trouble winning the division. The offense is solid all the way around, the rotation with Clayton Kershaw, Ryu and Grienke will be the strenghth of the club, plus there is veteran Josh Beckett. The bullpen knows how to pitch, and hey money can fix any of the problems they encounter, I suppose.

Arizona Diamondbacks (88-74): They made many trades in the offseason to strengthen the club, Bronson Arroyo was added as a free agent to solidify the rotation at the backend, the bullpen is always serviceable, and Paul Goldschmidt is a major threat. The Dodgers cannot take this team lightly.    

San Francisco Giants (81-81): The Giants should be improved this season, they have great pitching, and have added veteran Tim Hudson. They also signed a power threat in Michael Morse. This team is going to rely on its pitching, but that should not be a concern with a stellar bullpen and starting rotation. The issue will be the streaky offense, but this team has recently been an every other year team, so by that logic, they could exceed expectations and my prediction above.

Colorado Rockies (78-84): The Rockies have one of the most potent offenses in the game if it can stay healthy, as it contains superstars Troy Tulowitski and Carlos Gonzalez and some potentially upcoming stars in Wilin Rosario and they have added veteran Justin Morneau. However, the starting staff and bullpen is nothing special, and the team will have to depend on its offense if it wants to compete.

San Diego Padres (74-88): The Padres have a good bullpen, and an underrated starting pitcher in Andrew Cashner, but in order to compete, the Padres will need Chase Headley to replicate his 2012 success and will need a number of other factors to go right, otherwise a last place finish for this team is inevitable.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Predictions for the American League 2014

   I still have yet to complete my best players in MLB series, and due to school work and other commitments, the series is taking a hiatus. However tonight is Opening Night for MLB in America, so I am going to take the time to predict the final standings of each MLB Division (First to Last) and give a brief explanation. This post will concern the American League and I will post about the National League tomorrow. (Here is a look at my predictions from last season on the AL and NL East, AL and NL Central and the AL West and NL West).

AL East: Hardest division to predict, it could go any way, the Orioles and Blue Jays are dark horses, but the other three should lock down this division.

Boston Red Sox (92-70): They lost Jacoby Ellsbury, but other than that the team is basically the same. The addition of Grady Sizemore could prove to be a huge bargain, plus if it ain't broke, don't fix it. They won the World Series last year so another division crown seems likely.

New York Yankees (90-72): They spent money like old times to construct their roster, health permitting they will be very competitive. They made key additions like Masahiro Tanaka and somehow still managed to get older, but money can fix that too...maybe.

Tampa Bay Rays (89-73): They picked up established closer Grant Balfour and they are the Rays, so they will compete with their pitching defense and superstar Evan Longoria.

Baltimore Orioles (86-76): They have good bullpen and a well constructed team, but even though they are talented, this is probably the toughest division to play in.

Toronto Blue Jays (76-86): Another last place finish, they got weaker over the off season, but they have productive bats in Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.

AL Central: The Tigers are still the class of the division, don't expect an upset.

Detroit Tigers (91-71): This is a good all around team, but should be weaker with the loss of Prince Fielder and Doug Fister. They still have a good pen and Miguel Cabrera, plus Justin Verlander put up an excellent spring.

Kansas City Royals (89-73): One of the more underrated teams, with one of the best bullpens and an offense that can produce. This one is more of a hunch.

Cleveland Indians (86-76): They lost Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimmenez, they got worse, but if Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn live up to their potential then they could finish second, but I see third place as their likely finish.

Minnesota Twins (75-87): They added a ton of starting pitching this off season and rumors say they tried to add some impact bats, while they seem to have improved a ton, they will not compete in this division.

Chicago White Sox (70-92): Jose Abreu should bring some much needed offense to the lineup, and perhaps Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko will exceed expectations. The rotation will be formidable led by lefty ace Chris Sale.

AL West: Tough division up top if everyone performs, the division is between the Angels, Rangers and Athletics, but don't count the Mariners out.

Oakland Athletics (95-67): By now everyone knows the A's are a well constructed team, not a fluke. They have won the division two years in a row, the team has an underrated bullpen, a platooned offense that seems to get things done and one of the smartest GM's in baseball.

Texas Rangers (93-69): They added Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder to give the offense a boost and they have Adrian Beltre who is an excellent third baseman, the early injuries to the pitching staff are not promising, but as long as that is not too detrimental, they could win the division.

Los Angeles Angels (85-77): Well they have Mike Trout locked up for the next six years, so they have that going for them. Perhaps Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton can rebound to some extent, but don't count on near career years. The pitching staff is also improved with the likes of Tyler Skaggs. If they or the Rangers win the division however, it would be hard to consider it an upset.

Seattle Mariners (80-82): Well they spent a ton of money on Robinson Cano, but the starting pitching has taken a hit and they have an alright bullpen, some complementary pieces, but if they do not bring in another formidable bat don't count on an upset. The additions of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison could prove to be good moves.

Houston Astros (64-98): Believe it or not, they spent some money this offseason. They signed Scott Feldman and Jesse Crain. but they have an awful long way to go. Some of the young talent is looking impressive, but it is not 2018 yet.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Second(5) to None(1)

   It is time to reveal my top five second basemen in baseball as I continue to move forward with this series. My picks are listed below.

5)    Aaron Hill: Aaron Hill is one of the more underrated players in baseball, and perhaps it is because for a few seasons he struggled in Toronto mightily, which made him a "change of scenery candidate", and the change of scenery has been positive for Hill. Since the trade to Arizona in the middle of the 2011 season, Hill has posted a .302BA, 39HR, and has 142RBI. Hill took a step back in 2013 as he only hit 11HR, compiled a .291BA, and drove in only 41 runs. The numbers were a far cry from his 2012 production when he posted this stat line: .302BA, 26HR, and 85RBI. However, the drop in production can probably be explained by the fact that Hill played in less games in 2013 due to a fractured hand. After spending a significant amount of time on the Disabled List, Hill returned to play in a total 87 games, and it is worth mentioning that the fractured hand was not properly healed once he returned to game action. On the defensive side, Hill has fielded better than the league average second baseman, posting a fielding percentage of .996 compared to the league average of .984. Over his tenure with Arizona, Hill has neither saved nor cost the Diamondbacks any runs. Given his recent production, and solid fielding to go along with a Silver Slugger Award in 2012, Hill is a slots in nicely at the fifth spot on this list.

4)   Brandon Phillips: When baseball fans hear the name Brandon Phillips, they automatically begin thinking about his incredible and "flashy" defensive plays and rightfully so, seeing as Phillips has won four gold gloves over the course of his career. As a matter of fact, three of those gold gloves have been awarded to Phillips in the past four seasons. He won the award in 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2013. Phillips has saved the Cincinnati Reds a total of seventeen runs over the last three seasons. In addition to the seventeen runs saved, Phillips has averaged a fielding percentage of .990 in the last three years compared to the league percentage of .984. So, Phillips is a defensive whiz, but for some reason, Phillips is not known as one of the best hitting Second Basemen in the game. Over the course of his career, Phillips has compiled the following stat line: a .271BA, 166HR, and 704RBI in twelve seasons. So maybe Phillips is not well known for his production at the plate, but he should be. Consider that over the past three seasons, Phillips has compiled the following numbers: a .281BA, 54HR, and 262RBI. That is pretty impresve coming from a middle infielder and keep in mind that Phillips hits anywhere in the Red's lineup, as he fills in wherever he is needed. After looking over the statistics, the three time All-Star is deserving of the fourth spot on this list, and while Phillips is more durable than the next Second Baseman on this list (Phillips has played in at least 140 games or more every year since 2006), there are a few reasons why he places fourth on this list and not third.  

3)   Chase Utley: Chase Utley is my favorite player, so it is fair to consider him landing third on this list as biased. That's great, constructive debate/criticism is a good thing. People may point out that Utley has never won a gold glove glove, and he has not been an All-Star since 2010. Not to mention that Utley has battled a slew of injuries since 2011. In fact in 2013, Utley played in over 115 games for the first time since 2009. There is no disputing that evidence, but hear me out before deciding that Utley made this list (placing third nonetheless) only because he is my favorite player. So aside from winning four Silver Slugger Awards (2006-2009), and five All-Star selections, Utley has never won a Gold Glove or any other award. However, that does not mean that he has not been a deserving candidate at times. Consider that over the course of his career on the defensive side that Utley has saved the Phillies fourteen runs over the course of his career. Now, he did take a step back in 2013 as he cost the Phillies four runs and compiling an appalling .971 fielding percentage compared to the league's .984 as he committed seventeen errors. However over the course of his career he has graded out as just a tick below a league average Second Baseman. On the Offensive side, Utley's career line looks like this: a .287BA, 217HR, and 808RBI. Over the past three seasons Utley has compiled a .266BA, 40HR, and 158RBI. Those numbers are closer to Aaron Hill's production line over the past three seasons than they are to Brandon Phillips. However, consider that over the past three seasons, Utley has a higher OPS, SLG percentage and OBP. Add that to the fact that Utley plays every game as hard as he can and there is no doubt that Utley being third on this list is justifiable, because along with the stats, Utley is a gritty player, but he may not be as gritty as the next player on this list.  

2011 N/A 103 11 44 N/AN/AN/AN/A .259 .344 .425 .769
2012 N/A 83 11 45 N/AN/A N/AN/A .256 .365 .429 .793
2013 N/A131 18 69 N/AN/AN/AN/A .284 .348 .475 .823
11 Yrs    N/A 1323 217 808 N/AN/AN/AN/A .287 .373 .498 .871
162 Game Avg. 162 27 99 16 2 67 103 .287 .373 .498 .871
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2013.

2011 150 18 82 .300 .353 .457 .810
2012 147 18 77 .281 .321 .429 .750
2013 151 18 103 .261 .310 .396 .706
12 Yrs 1339 166 704 .271 .320 .429 .749
162 Game Avg. 162 20 85 .271 .320 .429 .749

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2013.

2)   Dustin Pedroia: As gritty as Chase Utley is, Dustin Pedroia is possibly more gritty. Pedroia played all of the 2013 season with a torn ligament in his thumb. Played through a torn thumb ligament as in 160 games out of a total of 162 possible games. That in itself gives Pedroia merit to be on this list, but that is only a small reason as to why he is ranked second. In the "injury-plagued" 2013 season for Pedroia (if it can even be called that), the All-Star Second Baseman accumulated the following stats: a .301BA, 9HR and 84RBI. For a Second Baseman that is typically a good season, sure he does not display as much power as the others on this list, but he potentially could have hit as many if not more Home Runs than the other Second Basemen had it not been for the injury. Consider that over the past three seasons, Pedroia's combined stat line looks like this: a .299BA, 45HR, and 240RBI. Across the board he shows the capability to match or exceed the numbers of the aforementioned Second Basemen at this point in his career as he has age on his side (Pedroia is 29, compared to all the other Second Basemen on this list who are in their early to mid-thirties). Aside from his offense and gritty game play, Pedroia is a solid fielding Second Baseman as he has won three Gold Glove Awards throughout the course of his eight year career with the Red Sox (winning the award in 2008, 2011, and 2013). Pedroia has saved the Red Sox ten runs throughout his career and he has saved them an impressive 40 runs in the last three seasons combined. Along with the runs saved throughout the course of his career, Pedroia has posted a fielding percentage of .991 compared to the league average of .985. He has been as equally impressive in the past three seasons (an average fielding percentage of .992 compared to the league's .984). Pedroia was the Rookie of the Year in 2007, the American League Most Valuable player in 2008 when he was also a Silver Slugger, and Pedroia is a four time All-Star. Honestly if I were to have my pick as a General Manager or Manager, Pedroia is the Second Baseman I would want because of his solid production, work ethic, loyalty to his organization, reasonable contract, leadership and tenacity. However, production wise, no second baseman can stack up to the number one on this list, and the production was so impressive that the number one Second Baseman on this list is clearly....    

1)   Robinson Cano: With this career slash line: .309BA, 204HR, and 822RBI, it is tough to deny that Robinson Cano is the top Second Baseman in Major League Baseball currently. Now, the Mariners are more than likely going to regret the back end of that ten year $240 million contract they awarded him this off season, but the mariners did sign the best Second Baseman in baseball. Over the course of the past three seasons, Cano's stat line looks like this: .310BA, 88HR, and 319RBI. Given the stat line, overall, Cano has been the superior offensive Second Baseman for a few years now. Despite the strong offensive output, Cano (unlike Pedroia) has never won a Rookie of the Year Award or an MVP trophy. Cano has however won five Silver Slugger Awards, four of which have come in the last four seasons (2006 and 2010-2013). On the offensive side, it is also worth noting that Cano won the 2012 Home Run Derby. On the defensive side, Cano has also been serviceable, he has won two Gold Gloves (2010 and 2012). During his career, Cano has posted a fielding percentage of .986 compared to the league average of .985. Over the past three seasons, Cano has posted a .990 fielding percentage compared to the league's .984. Being an above average fielder, Cano has saved the New York Yankees two runs over the course of his career, which is nothing to write home about, but over the past three years, he has saved the Yankees nineteen runs. Given the offensive output, solid defensive play and durability (Cano has played in at least 159 games since 2007), the five time All-Star is more than deserving of the number one spot on this list.

Others who were Considered:

Dan Uggla- Massive power, but it has slipped in recent seasons, and he has never hit for much of an average.
Ben Zobrist- Very underrated, but he plays all over the field. He'll make a different list I am compiling. Daniel Murphy- Up and coming underrated Second Baseman for the New York Mets, solid numbers but not strong enough to crack this list.
Neil Walker- Same story as Murphy with slightly weaker numbers.
Jose Altuve- Solid player
Darwin Barney- Defensive whiz, and that is about it.
Ian Kinsler- Another solid player like Murphy.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Whose First on First?

   Late August was the last time that I updated my best at each position series. Now that another MLB season has passed, some more players are now under consideration that previously were not. Before I dive into the best first basemen, here is a reminder of the qualifications to make my list. Also, please remember that just because a player does not make my top five, does not mean they are a bad player, it is hard to narrow the list down sometimes, especially at first base. A player must have played in the league a minimum of three season, and spent the majority of that time at the stated position, except in rare instances where it is reasonably justifiable. My list seeks to to recognize the top position players over the past few seasons, as well as give a potential preview of what may be to come from a given player. Anyhow, here are my top five first basemen:

5)    Freddie Freeman: Freddie Freeman appears to be a quick rising star at first base. Freeman is probably currently the face of the Atlanta Braves franchise, and he is definitely a fan favorite. In 2011, Freeman was the runner up for rookie of the year to teammate Craig Kimbrel. Freeman has posted three consecutive seasons of over twenty homeruns from 2011-2013 (posting 21,23, and 23 respectively). At age 23, Freeman has already compiled 68HR. Aside from the power numbers, Freeman has also produced a batting average of .285 over his short career, and entering his prime while coming off a season where he batted .319, hit 23 HR, and compiled 109 RBI shows that he has great potential in the future. Over his career Freeman has accumulated the following stat line: 68 HR, 280 RBI, and a .285 BA. Aside from his batting, Freeman grades out around as an average fielding first baseman as evidenced by his fielding percentage of .993 fielding percentage compared to the league's .994 fielding percentage. Freeman also made his first All-Star appearance in 2013, which along with his short but productive career stats, as well as his potential going forward is what lands Freeman fifth on this list ahead of other potential candidates.
4)    Albert Pujols: So, Albert Pujols has not lived up to that lucrative contract that he signed with the Los Angeles Angels in the 2011-2012 off season, and he probably is not going to. However, that does not mean that Pujols is not a valuable first baseman. Over the past three seasons, Pujols has compiled a BA of .281, amassed 84 HR, and had 268 RBI. Last year was an injury shortened season for Pujols. It was a dismal season at that, as the 33 year old slugger hit a meager .258 with only 17 HR and 64 RBI. However, if healthy, it is conceivable that Pujols will rebound in 2014, after all his career line looks like this: .321BA, 492HR and 1,498 RBI. Aside from his batting, Pujols has also won a few Gold Glove Awards, compiled nine All-Star appearances and last year was the first time ever that he did not finish in the top twenty in MVP voting. Pujols has scuffled to find his way after leaving the St. Louis Cardinals after the 2011 season, but he is still an elite first baseman who should hit at least hit 600HR in his career and maybe just maybe even break the all time HR record.
3)    Prince Fielder: Prince Fielder took a step back in 2013, but he is still very much a productive first baseman. This season, Fielder posted a respectable .279BA, with 25HR and 106RBI. The aforementioned numbers are still good, but they were a step back from Fielder's 2012 season in which he posted a .313BA, 30HR, and tallied 108RBI. Over the past three seasons, Fielder has a BA of .297, amassed 93HR, and totaled 334RBI. Fielder gets knocked for  his defense and rightfully so as according to advanced stats, Fielder has cost his team 10 runs defensively, but the eye test says that is a bit harsh. Fielder is a five time All-Star and has appeared each of the past three years. Put that with his career line of a .286BA, 285HR, and 870RBI, he is deserving of a spot on this list and since Fielder has been more consistent than Pujols recently and has a longer productive track record than Freeman he slots in front of them on this list. Fielder will be a good productive pick-up for the Texas Rangers and should have five or more productive years left.

2)    Joey Votto:Joey Votto sets himself apart from the other first basemen on this list in that he bats for a high average and has power, but his underrated asset is his ability to get on base. Over the past three seasons, Votto has accumulated a BA of .317 hit 67HR, and tallied 232RBI. Here is Votto's real value though, he has lead the National League in walks each of the past three seasons (110, 94, and 135) and in OBP the past four (.424,.416,.474, and.435). While he does not drive in as many runs as other first basemen, he gets on base a ton and is a huge power threat all while sustaining a batting average well over .300. Over the course of his career, Votto has compiled these stats: a .314BA, a .419OBP, 157HR, and 530RBI. Votto is a league average fielder, but he has a gold glove to his credit. As long as he stays healthy, Votto will be a productive first base slugger and OBP machine for years to come.
1)    Miguel Cabrera: Miguel Cabrera falls under my exception rule. He was moved to third base two seasons ago in order to accommodate the signing of Prince Fielder, but now that Fielder is with the Rangers, Cabrera will most likely be moving back across the diamond to play first base. Seeing as he will be playing at first going forward and that he has played there primarily throughout his career is why I am classifying him as a first baseman. So other than explaining why he is on this list, the only other thing that I should have to say is Miguel Cabrera. Seriously though, everyone knows that Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown in 2102, and had he not played injured for a good portion of the 2013 season, he may have repeated as a Triple Crown winner. However, the best hitter in baseball had to settle for his second consecutive American League MVP Award. Over the past three seasons, Cabrera has posted a BA of .341, hit 118HR, and amassed 381RBI. For his career, Cabrera is a .321 hitter, has compiled 365HR, and has accumulated 1,260RBI. Along with the two MVP Awards, he has appeared in eight All-Star games, and has always placed on the MVP ballot in each of his eleven seasons. Cabrera is serviceable with the glove, but since he is such an outstanding hitter, that is easy to overlook. Hopefully Miggy is back to full health for 2014, if so, he should be productive for many years to come, and at age 30, he may even have the chance to set/shatter some of Major League Baseball's Records.

Others who were under consideration (No particular order):

Paul Konerko- Konerko is getting some age on him, and had it not been for his injury plagued 2013, he probably would have made this list at number five.
Paul Goldschmidt- Not quite enough service time, but an underrated young player who is a major power threat for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and looks to be a solid all around player going forward.
Anthony Rizzo- The power and affordable contract are there, the average may never be however, but has good power nonetheless.
Mark Texeria- Great switch hitter with power, but injuries are troubling.
Adrian Gonzalez-Could have potentially replaced Freeman and been ahead of Pujols on this list, and rightfully so, but as mentioned above ranking the top five first baseman in the MLB is no easy task.
Ryan Howard-Sorry, could not pass this opportunity up, but maybe The Big Piece will have a big 2014.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Best Halladay

    It is diheartening that Roy Halladay has retired from Major Leauge Baseball. However, his legacy will be remembered not only as a pitcher but as a person as well.

   I knew there was a possibility that Roy Halladay would retire after the 2013 season, but I honestly did not think that he would. I figured Roy Halladay would try to pitch at least one more year, if for no other reason than just to attempt to prove to himself one more time that he could still compete. I figured he would get around a $5 million deal for a year with incentives that could escalate the value of the deal to $10 million or more. So when I read that Halladay would be retiring, I was a little shocked. I quickly got on my laptop and pulled up the live video stream to watch Halladay's live press conference(some highlights can be seen here). As I sat watching the press conference, I felt a sense of sadness, because it seemed like Roy Halladay of all players deserved a better ending than this, but upon hearing Halladay's comments, I could not help but smile, because it sounded as if for the first time in a long time he was at peace with himself. Roy Halladay deserved a World Series Ring and maybe one day he will be in the Hall of Fame, but make no mistake about it, Halladay went out on his own terms.

   Halladay was described by other players as a fierce competitor, and his workouts and preparation for games were known for being legendary. That competitive edge combined with skill is what made Roy Halladay the best pitcher of the past decade, it's why he deserved a ring, and it is why Halladay was a pitcher/player people rooted for no matter what.

   Excluding the first three years and last two years of his career, Halladay was the best pitcher of the past decade, and there is little in the way of disputing that. Consider that from 2001-2011 Halladay led the league in the following categories at least once: wins(twice:2003 & 2010), winning percentage(2006), games started(2003), complete games(seven times:2003,2005, & 2007-2011), Shut-Outs(four times:2003,& 2008-2010), Innings Pitched(four times:2002,2003, 2008 & 2010), Whip(1.053) and SO/BB(five times:2003 & 2008-2011). Halladay also led various other categories, was an eight time All-Star, finished as a top ten MVP twice and collected two CY Young awards. He won the American League CY Young in 2003, and he won the National League CY Young award in 2010. Counting the two CY Young award wins, Halladay also finished in the top five seven times within the span of the decade. Also noteworthy is the fact that Halladay threw a Perfect Game against the Florida Marlins in 2010, and he threw a no-hitter in his first play-off start against the Cincinnati Reds in 2010 as well.

   Over the span of those eleven years, Halladay compiled the following stats: 175 wins, a 2.97 ERA, 64 Complete Games, 19 Shut-Outs, Pitched an even 3,000 Innings, Struck Out 1,790 batters, a WHIP of 1.121, and a SO/BB of 4.815. Halladay no doubt has an impressive resume, especially over that eleven year span. However, because Halladay only won 203 games during his career, many have speculated he may not be a first ballot Hall of Famer, or a HOF at all, but he at least deserves consideration. Based on the eleven year dominance though, one day Halladay should be enshrined in Cooperstown, in baseball illustrious HOF group, where he belongs.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Top Catchers in MLB Right Now

   I have finally gotten back to my series of blog posts which feature the top five players in baseball at each position respectively. When it comes to the catching position, defense and game calling are the most important aspects. If a catcher can hit for average and/or power, that is a bonus. So, below are my top five catchers:

5)    Carlos Ruiz: Ruiz had a career year in 2012. The Philadelphia Phillies catcher hit .325 with a 16HR. Both of which were career best for the then 33 year old catcher. However, to begin the 2013 season, Ruiz was suspended 25 games for reportedly testing positive for a banned stimulant a second time. The stimulant was believed to be Aderall. So far this year in 62 games for the Phillies, Ruiz has hit .265, and  he has hit three home runs this season. Despite the down season, Ruiz has been a fairly good hitter throughout his career, batting .274, with 313 RBI and 55HR over a career spanning parts of eight seasons. Despite Ruiz's respectable hitting, he makes my list basically because of his defense. He has caught 28% of base stealers throughout his career and has a career .995 fielding percentage. While there are no stats for such a thing, Ruiz's most valuable asset is his game calling which make arguably the best in the Majors.

4)    Brian McCann: McCann had a down season in 2012 as he battled shoulder issues throughout the season. In 2012, McCann hit a meager .230, but he also still managed to hit 20HR with 67 RBI. Typically, these are good power numbers for a catcher, but the 20HR were the fewest McCann had hit since 2007, when he hit 18HR. Additionally, the 67 RBI's were the fewest of McCann's career in a full season. Fortunately, McCann is having an excellent bounce back season thus far. He is currently batting .272 with 18HR and 47 RBI in 76 games. McCann has never been regarded as an excellent defender, but he has caught 24% of base stealers(28% league average), while posting a .991 fielding percentage. McCann's career fielding percentage is just a tick below the league average of .992. Regardless, McCann is one of the best catchers in all of baseball.

3)   Joe Mauer: Mauer is one of the best, if not the best hitting catcher in baseball period. Mauer bounced back in a huge way in 2012 as he hit .319 with 10HR and 47RBI. He played in 147 games last season(not all as a catcher), and he led the American League in On Base Percentage, posting a .416 clip. For his career, Mauer has posted a .323BA, 105HR and 634RBI. Mauer is a great defender as well. Mauer, has thrown out 33% of base stealers throughout his career(27% league average), while putting up a fielding percentage of .995 for his career which exceeds the league average of a .991 fielding percentage. Mauer for some reason seems to be largely underrated throughout the game of baseball, despite the fact that he won the American League MVP Award in 2009 and being a six time All-Star.

2)   Buster Posey: In just three seasons, Posey has already been named NL MVP(2012), NL Rookie of the Year(2010); not only has Posey earned these prestigious honors, but he has already been part of two World Series Championship Teams(2010 & 2012) with the San Francisco Giants. After rebounding from a season ending injury in 2011, Posey posted astounding numbers in 2012. In 2012, Posey hit .336(leading the NL), smashing 24HR and driving in 103 runners. For his career, Posey has posted a .303BA, hit 60HR and accumulated 252 RBI. Posey possesses a strong throwing arm, catching 32% of base runners in his short career. He has however been knocked for his defensive ability and plays pretty reguarly at first base, but Posey is one of the best backstops in the game, and at the age of 26 he has plenty of time to add to his already promising career.

1)   Yadier Molina: There is no better all-around catcher in baseball than Yadier Molina. Molina has a phenomenal throwing arm, is a great game-caller, and he has figured out how to hit to top it all off. In 2012, Molina hit a robust .315, notching 22HR and knocking in 76 runners. For his career, Molina has hit .284 with 86HR while accumulating 522RBI. Unlike Posey, Molina does not have an MVP Award to his credit, but he does have two World Series Rings(2006 & 2011). He has managed to throw out an astounding 45% of would be base stealers in his ten year career, and he has five consecutive gold gloves to show for his incredible catching skills. Put it all together and Molina is on his way to being one of the better catchers to ever play the game, and that is why he tops this list.


A.J. Pierzynski, Matt Wieters, J.P. Arencibia, Etc.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A link between Derek Jeter and Chase Utley

   It's been awhile since I have updated my blog, and I am currently working on a post about the top five catchers in the game right now, but with the trade deadline quickly approaching, I wanted to take the time to talk about that. This is not one of my typical blog posts with lots of stats/predictions/comparisons. This post has a specific purpose, I am not going to focus much on trades that have happened and how the market is shaping up. I mean in essence, Matt Garza has been traded to the Rangers, Jesse Crain to the Rays, Scott Downs to the Braves, Alfonso Soriano to the Yankees and so on. I am not saying that these trades are minute; the trades will all clearly help determine games down the stretch and during the playoffs. However, I posted about the Phillies last year and will do the same this year. Unlike last year though, I am not going to focus on the whole team, but rather on my favorite player, Chase Utley.
   Derek Jeter was the player who really got me into baseball, as I watched him play stellar defense and hit with the best of them. Despite the fact that Jeter got me into watching MLB heavily in 2006, it was ultimately Utley who made me appreciate baseball even more. Utley was the one player that I learned the most from by watching, and the player that I realized played baseball the way that it should be played. As cliche as it sounds, Utley hustles during every play no matter the score or inning, never gives up an at bat and is a leader not only on the field but off the field as well. The Phillies have become sellers as they have lost eight straight and fallen seven games below .500 and fallen back to third in the NL East. As a fan of the Phillies I realize that it is time to sale anyone who may not be a fit for this team over the next few seasons. If the price is right, I am not against the Phillies trading Cliff Lee or anyone else for that matter. I would except whatever they could get for Delmon Young or Michael Young, because this team needs to be restructured. However, selfishly, I want the Phillies to hang onto Utley for the rest of his career. The reason simply being that Utley is the player I modeled my own game after, a player I have tons of respect for, and the reason I became a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies in the first place. 

   At the same time, if the Phillies cannot reach a reasonable extension with Utley, say 2 or 3 years/12million per year(at most) with a club or vesting option, then they should entertain offers for their All-Star Second Baseman. I mean, Utley will be 35 in December, and he has a chronic knee condition. Now the condition has not hampered him this year as he has hit 13HR, has 36RBI and a .274BA, which are solid numbers. But, his leg condition is not going away, it may even get worse and he is not getting any younger. If the Phillies were to trade Utley, they would need to get at least the value of a compensation pick back in next years draft if not more. The Phillies should not just "give" Utley away. 
   If Utley wants to stay, be traded or walk at the end of the season, he has earned the right. A trade may even be in Utley's best interest as well. I know the Phillies are currently working on an extension for Utley, but who knows what the outcome may be. Utley may have played his last game as a Phillie yesterday afternoon or may have many more to come. Either way, Utley will always be a Phillie to me  my favorite player, and I will follow his career no matter what the outcome is.