Friday, December 16, 2011

Twins Replace Cuddyer With Willingham

The Minnesota Twins finalized a 3 year, $21 million dollar deal with outfielder Josh Willingham today, meaning that the Michael Cuddyer era is all but over in Minnesota. The Twins offer to Willingham was roughly $3 million dollars cheaper overall than the offer the Twins submitted to Cuddyer. Cuddyer was the longest tenured Twin but baseball is a business and in the end Willingham was the cheaper (and better) option. During the past three season Willingham has actually been the better player as well as the more valuable player even though he has roughly 400 less at-bats since 2009.


ISO: .189

OBP: .341

wOBA: .351

wRC+: 117

WAR: 6.8


ISO: .222

OBP: .360

wOBA: .366

wRC+: 128

WAR: 7.7

As you can see, Willingham has the advantage in every one of these statistical categories. He has much more power than Cuddyer while getting on-base at an impressive .360 clip. According to park factors the Coliseum makes it 20% harder for right handed hitters to hit home runs compared to league average, making Willingham's power numbers even more impressive last year. Willingham is also producing offensively 11% better than Cuddyer over that span. Both of them are ok defenders, slightly below league average but not much. If anything Cuddyer might have the stronger arm.

Willingham's contract on the other hand is pretty team friendly. For $7 million dollars a year he needs to average less than 2 WAR, that shouldn't be a problem given his past success. If he can average between 2.5 and 1.5 WAR during his contract he should be able to give the Twins roughly $28.14 million dollars in value. Moving from Oakland to Minnesota should be a big help in achieving that goal.

By not signing Cuddyer and signing Willingham the Twins also got two compensation picks when Cuddyer signed a 3 year deal with the Colorado Rockies. The Twins aren't really in re-build mode but when you can get two picks you take it.

Overall, I like this deal a lot for the Twins. They get a power hitting right-handed bat to hit behind Mauer and Morneau and they get him at the right price. If he can stay healthy and produce some pop than the Twins should be very pleased with this deal.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Brewers Add Aramis Ramirez

With Prince Fielder almost a sure bet to sign somewhere else this off-season the Brewers desperately needed someone to replace his production. Ramirez most likely won't be as good as Fielder was but he should be able to give some production. The contract is for 3 years for a total of $36 million dollars. The downside is that Ramirez is 33 and will be 36 when the deal is over.

Since 2001 Ramirez has been a really good player. He's had a WAR above four five times and has had a WAR above five twice. When Ramirez arrives in Milwaukee he will bring some above average talents with him. He's a power hitter and has an above average ISO. His career .358 wOBA is also league average and should help the Brewers much more than Casey McGhee's .272 from a season ago. Last year he showed that he still can be an offensive producer, his 133 wRC+ last year is a testament to that.  His defensive is horrible though, his career UZR is -30.1. Going back to McGhee, last year he was horrible. His ISO, OBP and wOBA were all about as bad as it gets. Ramirez should step in and be much better.

If Ramirez can have WARs of 3, 2.5 and 2 during the three years of the deal he'll give the Brewers $35.2 million dollars of value, which is essentially a push. With Ryan Braun also most likely being suspended this is a move that the Brewers desperately needed to make if they want to make the post-season for the second year in a row.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Diamondbacks, Athletics Swap Pitchers

The other day the Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland Athletics made a trade involving starting pitcher Trevor Cahill and Diamondbacks prospect Jarrod Parker and prospect Colin Cowgill.

From the Athletics perspective I really like this deal. Cahill really isn't that good. In 2010 many thought Cahill had a tremendous year, his 2.97 ERA and 18 wins are a big reason why people think that. Based on wins above replacement he actually had a better 2011 than 2010. In 2011 he had a 2.5 WAR compared to a 2.2 WAR in 2010. In reality Cahill really isn't that good though. His strikeout and walk rates are both below league average. Pitching in such a spacious ballpark like the Coliseum you would think that he would do his fair share of keeping the ball in the park but it's quite the opposite. For his career he gives up exactly 1 home run per 9 innings.

Using FIP- and xFIP- to see how good Cahill's  ERA should be compared to league average.  His career ERA-/FIP-xFIP- are 95/110/100. Based on that information Cahill is expected to be a below league average to league average pitcher. .He can always improve but I don't see him being worth more than 2.5 - 3 WAR during his best years.

Cahill really reminds me of Paul Maholm. Since 2009 Cahill and Maholm have had very similar careers.

[googleapps domain="docs" dir="spreadsheet/pub" query="hl=en_US&hl=en_US&key=0AiUFKGHpgzKddC1hMjBtSHVwV3k2YUEtQV9fZHIzX0E&output=html&widget=true" width="462" height="261" /]


Both Cahill and Maholm have extremely similar K% and BB%, both are also extreme ground ball pitchers. One thing that may surprise you is the difference in WAR during that span. Cahill may have the better W/L but it just goes to show you how irrelevant that statistic is. The Diamondbacks  and their fans will have to get used to the fact that they are getting Paul Maholm 2.0, a pretty much league average pitcher. If he can produce between 2-3 WAR he should be an ok investment though. He has a $30.5 million dollar 5 year deal, he should be able to provide enough value to make it ok.

It might have been in Arizona's best interest to sign Maholm seeing how he's pretty much the same pitcher and also would have been much cheaper. One other pitcher they could have looked at was Jeff Francis. Francis is also similar to Cahill. His career ERA-/FIP-/xFIP- is 104/95/102. He also would have been much, much cheaper than Cahill was.

The Athletics on the other hand got some nice pieces. The center piece, Jarrod Parker is a pretty good pitching prospect. Throughout his minor league years he's had a K% of 20%. He has some control problems, in 2009 when he got promoted to double a he walked over 9% of batters he faced but in A and A+ ball he walked under 7%. His FIP has been under 3.75 in every level he's been at, in A and A+ ball it was under 3.30. unfortunately he had Tommy John surgery in 2010 so he missed the whole season. He struggled somewhat this year but he has the potential to be a solid pitcher for the A's. The other main player is outfield prospect Colin Cowgill. He looks like has some power potential and the ability to draw walks but he's already 25 years old. If he's going to have a career in the majors this year may be now or never. Other throw ins are reliever Craig Breslow going to the Diamondbacks and reliever Ryan Cook going to the A's.

Like I said Arizona may have been better off with a rotation of Dan Hudson, Ian Kennedy, Paul Maholm/Jeff Francis, Jarrod Parker and a question mark (Trevor Bauer?) than a rotation of Dan Hudson, Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill and two question marks at the tail end.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

C.J. Wilson Makes Angels Rotation Even Better

Right after the Angels landed Albert Pujols, the best free agent of the off-season they went on and added the best starting pitcher, C.J. Wilson. Adding Wilson to the rotation makes the Angels' pitching even better than it was before the signing. Since converting to a starter in 2010 Wilson has totaled 10.5 WAR and a FIP- of 78, making him one of the best pitchers in baseball. The Angels rotation was already good enough before Wilson arrived. As a starting staff they had 17 WAR (.6 came from Chatwood, he was traded to Colorado in the Iannetta deal. Without Chatwood the starters had 16.4 WAR). Overall, they were 4th in all of baseball with 17.8 pitcher WAR. I didn't factor in pitchers who only pitched a few games. They were also 5th overall in FIP-, C.J. Wilson should only make them better.

The Angels should also expect to get good value from Wilson during his contract. In 2010 he posted 4.6 WAR and gave the Rangers $18.5 million dollars of value, last year he posted 5.9 WAR and was worth $26.5 million dollars of value. The Angels are paying him $15.5 million a year. Using $4.5/win and accounting for the 5% inflation per year we get the following value numbers for Wilson.

[googleapps domain="docs" dir="spreadsheet/pub" query="hl=en_US&hl=en_US&key=0Ag3vWE1mScVDdEx6TVZTVzRCVUlFVHpGbER3dVFma0E&output=html&widget=true" width="325" height="247" /]


Overall, Wilson should give the Angels $98.23 million dollars of value, meaning they get $20.73 million dollars in surplus value, a number like this extraordinary. Before free agency started it was rumored that Wilson was looking for 6 years and $100+, the Angels saved a ton of money while getting value out of Wilson. While Wilson will most likely be the Angels number three starter based on last years numbers he could be the number two, ahead of Haren and has the potential to be the number one.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pujols, Angels Agree to Blockbuster

Talk about surprising. Yesterday it was revealed that Albert Pujols will be joining the Los Angeles Angels and not the Miami Marlins or St. Louis Cardinals like many expected. The deal was for 10 years and $254 million dollars. The deal also comes with a full no trade clause so Pujols won't be going anywhere.

We all know how good Pujols is so there really isn't a need for a huge explanation. He's the best first basemen in baseball and one of the best overall players. He's coming off his worst year, posting an ISO of .242, a .385 wOBA, a 148 wRC+ and a 5.1 WAR. Not bad for your worst season. Pujols did suffer from some injuries this season so if he come's back healthy he should easily post 6.5+ WAR.

Over the first six years of the contract Pujols should be relatively solid, more so the first four. The last four probably won't be as good but with Pujols the good massively out ways the bad. Let's take a look at what kind of value Pujols should provide during his tenure with the Angels. The salary is in millions.

[googleapps domain="docs" dir="spreadsheet/pub" query="hl=en_US&hl=en_US&key=0Ag3vWE1mScVDdEYzb2xaVzc0R1d3OTFHaFlpX3owaHc&output=html&widget=true" width="455" height="302" /]

For the most part my prediction was fairly accurate. The first five years Pujols is giving the Angels some really good value. You could say he is his sixth year as well but after that he begins to declines, which is only natural. Overall I have Pujols giving the Angels roughly $240 million dollars worth of value, a number that's ridiculous and given the circumstances the Angels should be ecstatic to get that out of Albert. In Albert's case overpaying for him isn't as bad as overpaying for someone of much lesser talent because of how good he is and his potential, so in this case we can call his actual deal and his projected value a push.

Pujols does come with his share of injury concerns though. Even though he has the concerns he's still managed to play more than 150 games per season except two and has played 140+ games ever since.

Pujols will be a massive improvement over Trumbo next season as well.

[googleapps domain="docs" dir="spreadsheet/pub" query="key=0Ag3vWE1mScVDdGJXRDk5czhCWW9QTGZNUVRRYkV3cGc&output=html&widget=true" width="430" height="342" /]

While traditional statistics may show that Trumbo had a good rookie campaign, if we dive deeper we realize that he's essentially league average. His offensive production was only 5% better than league average, his WAR was pretty much league average as was his wOBA. Pujols was obviously much better, something that shouldn't come as a surprise.

I could keep going on and posting statistics but it would be a waste of time, you all should know (I hope) that Pujols is pretty much a machine. The Angels are easily the winner of the off-seasons, oh yeah they also got C.J. Wilson. The Angels will be a force to be reckoned with next season and shouldn't be taken lightly at all.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Huston Street on the Move

The Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres agreed to a trade that will send closer Huston Street to the San Diego Padres. For the most part I like the deal. The one downside in the deal is Street's salary. This upcoming season he's due to make $7.5 million, the Rockies will pay $1 million of that. In 2013 he's set to make $9 million dollars but there's a $500k buyout.

Since Street came up in 2005 he's totaled 10 WAR, averaging 1.67 WAR per season. His ERA-/FIP-/xFIP- since he's come up is 71/72/80.  This past season he should have been better then his ERA- and FIP- suggest. This year they were 92/91 but his xFIP- was 81 so he should expect a bounce back year. The statistic SIERA (situational ERA) likes him even better, it was 2.94. Much of this can be contributed to him pitching at Coors which is known to hurt pitchers. One indication of this is if you look at the spike in his HR/9 since he came to Coors. Previously he gave up .9/9 in 2007 when he was still with the A's. This past season he gave up 1.54 HR/9, his highest of his career.

For his career he's always had an above average strikeout percentage as well as an above average walk percentage. I see no reason why that should change next year at PETCO.

Contract wise Street shouldn't have a problem giving the Padres a return on their investment. He's due to make $7.5 million this season so he needs to get roughly 1.75 WAR, something he shouldn't have a problem doing. In 2013 he's due to make $9 million meaning he'd have to get 2 WAR, again something he should be able to achieve especially since he's going to PETCO. If he isn't that good the Padres can always cut him.

Finally, he is already joining a solid bullpen. With Heath Bell and Mike Adams gone, the three other relievers who pitched at least 40 innings last year averaged a 3.53 FIP, which is very solid. With Street coming it should be even better. If he isn't what the Padres imagined they can also trade him at the deadline before or during the end of July.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Introducing New Miami Marlin: Jose Reyes

Yesterday it was announced that the Marlins made their first big splash before moving into Sun Life stadium for 2012 and beyond. The Marlins and Reyes agreed to a 6 year deal worth $106 million dollars. The Marlins headed into the off-season ready to spend money. Reyes, just happens to be one of the best players available and quite frankly one of the best players in all of baseball. Right from the start the Marlins set their eyes on Reyes and in the end got their guy. Why would they want a star shortstop when they already have one though? Like I said, he's one of the best players in baseball.He's also had a very similar career to Hanley Ramirez.

[googleapps domain="docs" dir="spreadsheet/pub" query="hl=en_US&hl=en_US&key=0Ag3vWE1mScVDdFpWMEVXR05qbm5XbUNnQk01YllvcHc&output=html&widget=true" width="456" height="334" /]

Since 2005 Ramirez has had the slightly better walk rate but Reyes is striking out at a better rate then Ramirez. Hanley's power is much better then Reyes' as well but Reyes still has above average power. Overall it looks like Hanley is better offensively but their WARs since 2005 (Hanley's rookie year) are pretty much the same. The slight difference in WAR comes from Hanley's poor defensive play and Reyes' above average play at shortstop. For his career Ramirez has a career UZR of -44.1, which is horrible to say the least. On the other hand Reyes is a much better defender, his career UZR is 13.5.

Reyes does come with his share fair of injury concerns though. The last three seasons he's played in only only 265 games but in those 265 games he has totaled 9.9 WAR, the majority of that came from this past season where he totaled 6.2 WAR. The last time he played over 150 games was in 2008. Dispite the injury concerns he's been worth $134.5 million dollars since he came up in 2003, meaning he should be able to have a good shot at being worth his $106 million dollar deal, especially since he's only had one season of his prime. This past season 1 WAR was worth roughly $4.5 million dollars. Let's take a look at this chart to see the potential value the Marlins should get out of Reyes.

[googleapps domain="docs" dir="spreadsheet/pub" query="key=0Ag3vWE1mScVDdEJpVVFTTElLQm1QbXNYU2thd0NhSmc&output=html&widget=true" width="419" height="315" /]

Assuming Reyes plays up to his potential he should give the Marlins $8.75 million dollars of extra value during the life of his contract.

The Marlins line-up was already pretty solid before Reyes arrived. Stanton, Bonafacio, Morrison and Sanchez all had wOBAs over .340. If Ramirez was healthy he also would be on that list. With Reyes they get more speed in the line-up, a potential .360-.370 wOBA player and a stud on defense. Ramirez will more than likely move to third base but with the upgrade Reyes gives you defensively it's a smart move.

The Marlins offense seems ready for a good year, especially if prospect Matt Dominguez is ready to contribute during the year although it seems much more likely that he'll be ready for 2013. If the Marlins add a starting pitcher or two (They offered Mark Buehrle a 3 year deal worth $36-$39 mil) they could be ready to content in the NL East. The Marlins are for sure ready for a new era to start in Sun Life stadium.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Marlins, Reyes Agree to Deal.

There are reports everywhere that Reyes are on the cusp of a 6 year deal worth between $109 and $111 million dollars, if the reports are indeed true this is a great deal for the Miami Marlins. Look out for a post in the coming days.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Angels, Rockies Swap Players.

Yesterday the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Angels swapped Chris Iannetta and Tyler Chatwood. On the surface it looks like a really good deal for the Angels. They badly needed a catcher after getting .191/.253/.301 out of their catchers last year which is terrible. Iannetta on the other hand posted much better statistics, during the season, he had .248/.370/.417. If we dig deeper and look at some splits as well as some advanced statistics we realize that Iannetta was horrible on the road. This shouldn't come as a total surpise, Coors inflates offensive even if it isn't as much since the humidor at Coors got implemented.

Throughout his career Iannetta has performed much better at home. Since 2006 you can see how he has performed at home and away from home in this spreadsheet.

[googleapps domain="docs" dir="spreadsheet/pub" query="hl=en_US&hl=en_US&key=0AoxdCp-sqCG3dFhfSS1mWWhMVk82alV4ZGc0MjQ0Nnc&output=html&widget=true" width="437" height="302" /]


The two big things that really jump out at you are Iannetta's big drop offs in power and his wRC+. Coors is one to increase power but when he's away from Coors he's hardly above average power wise. When he's away from home he's also creating runs 19% worse then league average, Angel fans don't want to see that. Iannetta can do damage at Coors but when he's away he's just not as good.

The Angels got 21 year old Tyler Chatwood. Last year was his first taste of big league experience and he wasn't that impressive.

In 27 games last year, 25 starts, Chatwood had an unimpressive 4.89 FP and 4.90 xFIP. He doesn't strike out batters and has a problem walking them. He struck out 11.7% of the batters he faced and walked 11.2% he faced. If he wants to stay in the big leagues he needs to cut down walks by a big margin. He has the potential to be a 3 or 4 in the big leagues but it might be in Colorado's best interest to let Chatwood start the year in the minors.

In the end, both teams got what they needed. Whether it pays off or not remains to be seen though. If I had to I'd say Colorado got the better deal. They got a young pitcher with potential and signed former Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez to fill their void. I didn't talk about Hernandez but look out for a post in the near future.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cubs Ink DeJesus.

Theo Epstein made his first move as the Cubs president of baseball operations today. He went out and signed free agent outfielder David DeJesus to a two year, $10 million dollar deal and a team option for 2014. Needless to say this was a very good signing.

Since 2005 DeJesus has been very productive, posting roughly 3 WAR per season. His triple slash for his career is .284/.356/.421. His .339 wOBA is slightly above average for his career. He won't bring the Cubs a ton of power, his ISO is ,137 for his career but he will bring some other solid abilities with him. DeJesus has a really good eye at the plate, he only strikes out 13.4% for his career and walks 8.3% of the time. His 17 K% last year can be considered an outlier becaue his 24 O-Swing% was 3.5% higher than his career average. There's also reason to expect that he hasn't fallen off much either.

Last year he was worth -3.8 against the fastball but that was the first year that he was worth negative runs against the fastball so it's reasonable to expect a bounce back. This leads us right to the next thing. His .274 BABIP was .042 points beneath his career BABIP so a bounce back year is almost certain. He's also a solid defender, the last 3 years he's had a UZR of 16, 2.5 and 7.5.

DeJesus will also gives the Cubs a good left handed bat in a line-up where most of their production comes from the right side. Chicago could still get another lefty bat or two but DeJesus helps the problem a little at least.

At $4.25 million per season ($1.5 million dollar buyout for 2014) DeJesus should easily outperform his salary. He needs to produce roughly 2 WAR per season, something that shouldn't be overly difficult for him. Theo Epstein has always gotten good players with good deals but he's also gotten some bad deals (Carl Crawford, Daisuke Matsuzaka) but as it stands right now Epstein got a good deal.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Texas Rangers Take a Gamble on Joe Nathan.

Yesterday it was announced that the Texas Rangers came to terms with former Twins closer Joe Nathan. The deal was for 2 years with $7 million annually. There also was a team option for 2014.

$7 million dollars is a lot of money to pay a closer, it's especially a lot for a closer who's 37 years old and who had a down year after coming off of Tommy John Surgery. In 44 games last year Joe Nathan was worthe a wopping 0 WAR. That's right, 0 WAR. His ERA, FIP and xFIP were 4.84, 4.28 and 3.96. Not exactly good numbers. His 22.5 K% was 4.1% below career average but his BB% wasn't affected as a result. One thing that is concerning though was the spike in HR/9 that he gave up. For his career he gave up .86 HR/9 but this past year he gave up 1.41, not a number you want to see. Next season Bill James sees Nathan having a bounce back year, posting a 2.35 ERA and 2.97 FIP. While Nathan could do that I think it's more more reasonable to see an ERA north of 3.

Relievers are never a sure thing though. In 2011 the top 5 relievers were as follows:

Craig Kimbrel: 2.10 ERA, 1.52 FIP, 1.94 xFIP

Jonathan Papelbon: 2.94 ERA, 1.53 FIP, 2.16 xFIP

Sean Marshall: 2.26 ERA, 1.86 FIP, 2.50 xFIP

David Robertson: 1.08 ERA, 1.84 FIP, 2.46 xFIP

Mariano Rivera: 1.91 ERA, 2.19 FIP, 2.64 xFIP


Carlos Marmol: 2.55 ERA, 2.01 FIP, 2.83 xFIP

Brian Wilson: 1.81 ERA, 2.19 FIP, 2.85 xFIP

Heath Bell: 1.93 ERA, 2.05 FIP, 2.98 xFIP

Matt Belisle: 2.93 ERA, 2.68 FIP, 2.78 xFIP

Sean Marshall: 2.68 ERA, 2.28 FIP, 2.50 xFIP


Jonathan Broxton: 2.61 ERA, 1.97 FIP, 2.02 xFIP

Matt Thornton: 2.74 ERA, 2.46 FIP, 2.74 xFIP

Michael Wuertz: 2.63 ERA, 2.37 FIP, 2.57 xFIP

Andrew Bailey: 1.84 ERA, 2.56 FIP, 3.20 xFIP

Brian Wilson: 2.74 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 3.18 xFIP

I could keep going but as you can see the top 5 relief pitchers vary year by year for the most part. There are some pitchers that did repeat, in this 3 year span it was Brian Wilson and Sean Marshall. Nathan didn't even crack the top 5 in 2009 in 2011. I'll give him see leeway for 2011 but in 2009 he was totally healthy and didn't crack the top 10.

If the Rangers were that desperate for a closer they should have looked at other options. Some think Jonathan Broxton may be burnt out but on an incentive laden deal he probably would have been a much better option.

$14 million dollars is a ridiculous amount of money for a relief pitcher, especially a pitcher who performed as poorly as Nathan did last year. The Rangers pretty much expect Nathan to return to his early days as a Twin and I just don't think that's possible at this point. The one good thing that comes out of this situation is that Neftali Feliz will finally join the rotation.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Justin Verlander didn't Deserve the MVP

Today it was announced that Justin Verlander is the American League MVP. Many people that aren't in the sabermetric community pegged Verlander as their MVP based on statistics that don't tell us as much as sabermetrics. His 24 wins and 2.40 ERA are nice but he might not have even been the best pitcher in the American League. More on that later though. The other two main competitors for the award were Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista.

Both Bautista and Ellsbury had great years. Bautista continued right where he left off from last seasona and Ellsbury was out to prove that he wasn't an injury prone outfielder.

Offensively Ellsbury had his best season to date. His WAR was 9.4 but there are other factors that should be taken into account besides WAR. He was never regarded as someone with a lot of power, his previous career highs in home runs and ISO were 9 and .114 which was in 2008. He did have a .155 ISO in 2007 but that was in 33 games. This year, out of nowhere, he had a .230 ISO to go along with 32 home runs. There a few statistics that could be a contributing factor to the increasing power. First is his GB%. In 2008 his GB% was 51.7%, then in 2009 it was 50.1%. This year it dropped by roughly 7%, dropping to 43%. He also saw an increase in his LD%. In 2008 he had a 20.3% and in 2009 it was 17.7%. Fast forward to this year and it was 22.9%. His BB% and K% didn't change much but his OBP was 14 points better than his career average. For the year he had a .376 OBP compared to a .362 for his career. His wOBA was also a career high, .402, .033 better than career average. One thing that really sets Ellsbury apart from everyone else is his defense. This past season Ellsbury had a 15.6 UZR, only behind his 2008 season where he had a 21.2 UZR. The point is Ellsbury is a really good defender.

The other player who had a great season was Jose Bautista. Check out my article I did earlier in the season about why I believe he's the best player in baseball. It may not seem possible but Jose Bautista had an even better season then 2010. He posted an 8.3 WAR and developed into a well rounded offensive player. He saw a sharp spike in his BB% percentage, something to be expected after his crazy power outburst the year before. His BB% jumped from 14.6% to 20.2%. Due to the spike in his walks he saw a sharp increase in his OBP, going from .378 to .447. His ISO went from .357 to .306 but that doesn't take away anything, .306 is ridiculous in it's own right. An observation on why he saw a power drop could be contributed to the increase in GB% that he saw. His GB% went from 31.1% to 36.9%. Despite all of that he actually created runs 15% better then last year. In 2010 his wRC+ was 166 and this past season it was 181. Unlike Ellsbury, Bautista isn't known as a defender. He played the majority of the year in RF where his UZR was -8.6.

Based on the information I have provided Ellsbury is the better MVP candidate, a big advantage Ellsbury that Ellsbury has is his defense.

We're not done though, we still have to look at Justin Verlander. Verlander had an amazing season, I won't take that away from him but he still didn't deserve the MVP. Some would argue that he wasn't even the best pitcher in the American League. At seasons end Verlander had compiled a 7 WAR and 2.99 FIP. One pitcher who was arguably better was Yankee pitcher C.C. Sabathia. Besides ERA C.C. Sabathia had a better FIP- as well as xFIP-. Sabathia's FIP - was 69 and his xFIP- was 75. Verlander on the other hand had a FIP- of 73 and an xFIP- of 77. Besides the FIP and xFIP differentials Sabathia and Verlander were close in a bunch of other stats. Verlander struck out batters 2.4% more of the time. 25.8% to 23.4%. Their walk rates as well as HR/9 were similar as well. One thing that Verlander did have was an extremely low BABIP. Verlander's was .236 compared to Sabathia's .318 BABIP. Verlander was defientely more luck then Sabathia this season. Verlander also has the luxury of pitching in the must easier division.

The AL Central is much, much more easier to pitch in than the AL East. The AL East had three teams that would have been in the playoffs in any other division and a fourth team that could've won a division like the AL Central. Out of 24 of Verlander's wins only 4 came against teams with above .500 records. Verlander also only played in roughly 22% of his teams games, not nearly enough to be considered the MVP. Based on how good the AL East is it should be even more impressive what Sabathia did during the course of the season. If that weren't enough Sabathia had .1 more WAR than Verlander. Sabathia was at 7.1 and Verlander had 7. WAR shouldn't be the only stat you use but it shows how good Sabathia was.

Based on all the information I presented you I would have to say Jacoby Ellsbury should have been MVP. He had an amazing offensive season as well as an amazing defensive season. The most valuable player is the player who gave his team the most value, and this year that was Boston Red Sox center fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Andrew McCutchen: Extension Candidate

In 2009 Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen made his major league debut. Since then he's been one of the game's better outfielders. Last year he began taking the steps towards being one of the games elite.

In 2009 McCutchen gave the league a glimpse of what his potential is. Right off the bat he showed plate disapline, power, the ability to get on base and speed. In the minors McCutchen had what would be a league average BB% for the majority of the time he spent down there. Only once did he have a BB% greater than 10%, most of the time it was in the 8% range. In 493 plate appearances McCutchen walked 11% of the time, a nice surprise for the Pirates. He displayed power throughout the minors but in over 120 games per minor league level he never had an ISO higher than .155. He had a 189 ISO over 49 triple A games in 2009 but that's a pretty small sample size. In his rookie season he posted a .189 ISO and has continued to post ISO numbers over .160. He did and still does do a good job at getting on base. When he came into the league he posted a .365 OBP, right around what he did in the minors. Finally, speed. McCutchen has brought some much-needed speed to a poor Pirates line-up, something he's always had. To top it all off he produced 3.5 WAR that year, for a rookie I'll take that any day of the week.

Looking at this past season McCutchen has kept improving. He posted career highs in BB%, ISO, WAR and wRC+. His BB% was up to 13.1%, his K% did increase to 18.6 % though. Previously he's posted K%'s of 16.8% and 13.6%, but sometimes you gotta take the good with the bad. His ISO was at .198 this year, his previous best was his rookie season. He also saw a 4% increase in his wRC+ from his 2009 and 2010 seasons. His .360 wOBA is generally around the 75th percentile, if he could improve that number he'd be even better. He also had a wRC+ of 125, this past season he had a 129. If that wasn't a testament to how good he was he had 5.7 WAR, a 2.2 WAR increase over the last two seasons. Each season he had a 3.5 WAR.

I couldn't find a great comparison for McCutchen but I did take a look at how he compared to free agent shortstop Jose Reyes. If we look at Jose Reyes and Andrew McCuthen from 2008-2011 you'll realize they're hardly different. I choose 2008 because Reyes was hurt in '09.

[googleapps domain="docs" dir="spreadsheet/pub" query="hl=en_US&hl=en_US&key=0AoxdCp-sqCG3dC12cUd4T2hDS19OUGVFc2xnVjBDYWc&output=html&widget=true" width="406" height="311" /]

During that span McCutchen has the better BB%, ISO, OBP, OPS, wOBA and wRC+. While the differences aren't huge they are still differences. Both are quite similar players and if Reyes is rumored to want over $100 million and he gets that $100 million that could be a baseline of what McCutchen may be worth in the next year or so.

Now the question is do the Pirates give him that money or do they trade him. This past season the Pirates had a nice run and they were leading the division at one point. In the end they finished 24 games back from first place. In the draft though they got future ace Garrett Cole in the draft last year along with Josh Bell, a really good outfield prospect. They also have pitcher Jameson Tallion from last years draft. The Pirates have their share of prospects but will they pan out in time to show the McCutchen that the Pirates are about winning?

If I'm Pittsburg I sign him in a heart beat. He's 25 years old and still hasn't entered his prime. If they can lock him up for a 5-6 year deal at $14 million a year or so then they have to do it. McCutchen will only improve and as he gets better he'll just keep getting more expensive and as Pittsburg as showed recently, they don't like spending money on their players.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Josh Willingham, not Cuddyer Should be Teams Focus

This off-season the outfield free agents aren't that great. There are some solid ones though like Carlos Beltran, Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham. While the two players are nearly identical Willingham is the better player. They both hit from the right side of the plate. Both are in their lower 30s, they both can hit for power. For the most part Willingham has been the more successful player, posting WARs between 2-3 for 5 seasons. Cuddyer has posted WARs between 2 and 3 himself but between those years he's had a ,8 WAR season and 0 WAR season. The 0 WAR season was due to injury but he still played 70+ games that year.

Since 2006 both players have been nearly identical.

Josh Willingham 7713109696   2911.3 %21.0 %.   14.8
Michael Cuddyer 8143446848   409.0 %16.9 %.184.307.275.347.459.351   12.3

Cuddyer has been the slightly more durable player but during the 2004 and 2005 seasons Willingham only played a combined 28 games. Willingham has shown better power, the ISO differential is .032. Willingham also has a higher OBP and BB%. Cuddyer's plate discapline is much better then Willingham's, he struck out 4.1% during that span. The BABIP results aren't that signifacant at all, Cuddyer's .307 BABIP is a sustainable number so nothing can be taken from that. Willingham has also produced more WAR over that time span. Besides Cuddyer's SB, K% and PA Willingham has proven to be the better player.

Why are teams more interested in Cuddyer then? Cuddyer is a much more versatile player then Willingham. Since 2009 Cuddyer has played 1,370 innings at first base, he played 140 innings at second base last season and 107 innings at third base in 2010. He did play 1,154 innings at third baseb between 2004 and 2005 but I doubt he'd play third unless needed. His normal position is right field so he's gotten a ton of innings in the outfield. Besides the offensive production that right there is a big reason why teams may be more interested in Cuddyer.

Willingham will probably prove to be the cheaper option though. In 2011 Willingham made $6 million dollars, Cuddyer made $10.5 million. Cuddyer is rumored to be looking for a 3 year deal worth more than $30 million dollars. Willingham should be able to be had for a 2-3 year deal at $8 million annually. Neither player will transfrom whatever team they go to but both will be solid players who should be able to produce between 2 and 3 WAR a season. Teams that are looking to get a solid outfield option should defiantly take a look at Willingham.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Twins Sign Ryan Doumit

Today it was announced that the Minnesota Twins and free agent Ryan Doumit came to terms to a one year, three million dollar deal. Doumit can play a variety of positions. He can catch, play first, play the outfield and DH. Doumit will be able to give Morneau and Mauer days off during the the season or fill be able to fill in for someone if an injury occurs.

Doumit is known more for his offense rather then his defense. The Twins didn't sign him for his defense but going to the AL which has the DH should help give him a little boost in the offensive category. The Twins will take all of the offensive help they can get. Besides Joe Mauer the Twins got awful production from their catchers last year.

Doumit out produced Drew Butera and Rene Rivera in K%, BB/K, OBP, SLG, OPS, ISO, BABIP, wRAA, wOBA and wRC+. If you look at this table you'll be able to see that Doumit destroyed those categories. Rivera and Butera were really pathetic.

Ryan DoumitPirates2366.8 %14.8 %0.46.303.353.477.830.174 .331 8.3.360129
Drew ButeraTwins2544.3 %16.5 % .194 -23.0.20220
Rene RiveraTwins1147.0 %28.1 % .194 -11.2.19213 

For his career Doumit has been a solid player when healthy. He has decent power, posting a .174 ISO. He does a good job at getting on base, his career OBP is .334. His 104 wRC+ is slightly above league average but Doumit is a slightly above league average player. Like I stated earlier he isn't a good defensive player but makes up for it offensively. Doumit should be able to put up at least 2 WAR this season giving the Twins $10 million dollars of value. If Doumit can come into Minnesota and do what he's good at which is getting on base, hitting for some power and being a versatile player then Minnesota got a good deal.

So far I've liked what the Twins have done this off-season. They got a quality shortstop in Jamey Carroll and a solid versatile offensive player in Ryan Doumit. With about $20 million dollars left to spend they should be able to at least get an outfielder and a decent pitcher.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Did Nick Markakis Peak too Early?

3 seasons ago Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis was regarded as one of the games best players. Since then he's been a little bit better then average. Did he hit his peak early and is now declining or is there something else going on?

In 2008 Markakis had his best season in the majors. He had 6.3 WAR and a .389 wOBA. He also showed that he had solid power, putting up a .185 wOBA. He showed that he also has a good eye at the plate, walking 14.2% of the time. Thanks to his good eye at the plate, among other factors Markakis had a slash line of .306/.406/.491. In 2008 his .350 BABIP was unusually high so there's evidence to suggest that he just wasn't that good. He was seeing the fastball really well, he was worth 25 runs against it. If Markakis was doing so good what caused the decline?

[googleapps domain="docs" dir="spreadsheet/pub" query="hl=en_US&hl=en_US&key=0AoxdCp-sqCG3dEd3UXZCN1RTd2FXNnB4UTFzOEc4dlE&output=html&widget=true" width="500" height="300" /]

The first thing that jumps out at you is the declining ISO numbers that Marakis experiences. One of the main factors that can indicate a player is on the decline is if a player's power numbers are down. For Markakis that's been the outcome the last three seasons. In 2008 Markakis' .350 BABIP was highly unsustainable. The second highest BABIP Markakis posted was .331. He did that two times. In 2007 he had a 4.3 WAR and .185 ISO. In 2010 he did it again but only posted a .138 ISO and 2.6 WAR.

If you look even closer you'll notice two stats that could point directly to Markakis' struggles. Those stats are O-Swing% and O-Contact%. These stats tell us how often a batter swings at pitches outside the strike zone and how often he makes contact with pitches outside the zone. Markakis' O-Contact is the disturbing one. For 2010 league average for O-Contact% was 66.5%. The 2011 average shouldn't be too far off. As you can tell Markakis has steadily increased his O-Contact% the last three years. As a result statistics like ISO, OBP and wOBA have declined. I haven't done any tests but I imagine there must be some sort of correlation there. If Markakis can stop making contact with bad pitches he might be able to be back to being a productive hitter.

xBABIP projects Markakis to have a .320 BABIP next season which is right at his .323 career norm. xH (Expected hits) says he'll get 193 hits next season. His xAVG, xOBP and xSLG are .301/.366/.423. Besides the SLG that's right around career average. If he keeps swinging at bad pitches and never gets his power back Markakis will never be a 4 WAR player again. While he could be a servicable player it would be a shame if he peaked too early, he could have been one of the games better outfielders.



Monday, November 14, 2011

Matt Kemp, Dodgers Agree to 8 year, $160 million dollar deal.

Today the baseball world learned that the Los Angeles Dodgers locked up their premiere outfielder Matt Kemp. The Dodgers aren't in the greatest situation at the moment, they currently are looking for a new owner but in the midst of all that they decided to lock up Kemp.

Matt Kemp is a really good baseball player but in the past he has lost motivation and didn't perform to the best of his abilities. 2010 is a prime example. In 602 at-bats last season Kemp managed to post a .323 wOBA and only .4 WAR. There was no reason to suspect that he was declining because his .201 ISO was actually better than the .193 ISO that he posted in 2009. What was the reason for the down year then?

A few possible reasons are his K% and his BABIP. Throughout his career Kemp has posted a higher career BABIP then most. Generally the major league average for BABIP is between .290-.300. In 2010 Kemp posted a .295 BABIP. His career BABIP is .352. That's a .057 differential which is pretty substantial. Kemp was almost guaranteed to regress towards the mean, meaning his 2011 BABIP should return to around his career average. That low BABIP could be due to Kemp facing some tough defenses, luck or general adjustment during the season. Naturally Kemp or any baseball player for that matter can only control where they hit it to a certain extent. In Kemp's case he could have been hitting it right at the defenders. He also could have just had bad luck last season.

Kemp also struck out 2% more than average in 2010. Kemp does get his share of strikeouts but 25.4% is quite a bit. One final thing that Kemp wasn't doing so well with in 2010 was seeing the fastball. Kemp was only worth 6.5 runs against the fastball so there was obviously some problems regarding it.

Fast forward to the 2011 season and Kemp was an all new player. He posted 8.7 WAR and a 4.19 wOBA showing that he was right where he left off in 2009. He continued his power surge, putting up a ridiculous .262 ISO further showing that a we don't have to worry about a decline just yet. His .380 BABIP is not something that will be sustainable but it shows that whatever the problem Kemp had he solved it. That isn't a number you should expect to see every season but you won't see a sub .300 BABIP with Kemp unless something goes wrong. Kemp also fixed his strikeout problem, striking out 23.1% of the time which is right at his career norm. He also had no problem adjusting to the fastball as he was worth 37.9 runs against it this season.

One thing that Kemp will never be good at during the life of the contract is playing defense. In 2010 UZR had him at -25.7 runs and UZR/150 had him at -27.5 runs. He was slightly better in 2011, UZR had him at -4.6 runs and UZR/150 had him at -4.7 runs. Matt Kemp has never been known as a defender anyway.

One player that Matt Kemp compares similarly with his Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. They both came up around the same time, Kemp in 2006 and Braun in 2007. Both have a ton of power, have speed and aren't known for their defense. With this link you can see a WAR graph from fangraphs, both have had surprisingly similar starts to their careers. WAR Graph.

They also both got ridiculous contracts. Braun signed an 8 year, $45 million dollar deal in 2008 locking him up until 2015 then last year he signed a 5 year, $105 million dollar extension locking him up until 2020. To sum it all up Braun has a $150 million dollar deal, only $10 million dollars less then Kemp. Braun does have the more consistent track record but both are studs.

Looking ahead to next season xBABIP says Matt Kemp should post a BABIP around .345 which is just shy of his career norm. Matt Kemp may never post a WAR over 8 again but during the contract he should post a few 5-6 WAR seasons. The Dodgers may not have wanted to give Kemp $160 million dollars over 8 years which is a huge investment but it was one they had to do. If Kemp even comes close to what he did this past season then the Dodgers did a good job.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Phillies Vastly Overpay for Papelbon.

Yesterday we learned that the Phillies and all-star closer Jonathan Papelbon agreed to a 4 year, $50 million dollar contract with a vesting option in 2016 worth $10 million dollars giving him the potential to earn $60 million dollars making him the richest relief pitcher ever in baseball. Papelbon is a good closer but no closer, no reliever for that matter is worth $50 million dollars.

Last year Papelbon did have one of his best seasons posting 3 WAR and a 2.16 xFIP. Papelbon's .309 BABIP was slightly above his career .275 BABIP, the other two years where his WAR was at 3 or above he had BABIPs of .224 and .293 so he might not be a 3 WAR closer. It wouldn't be surprising to see Papelbon regress and post a BABIP similar to his career BABIP next season. In 2009 when Papelbon posted a .278 BABIP he had a 3.91 xFIP and when he had a .287 BABIP in 2010 his xFIP was 3.56. Just two seasons ago Papelbon posted his highest HR/9 and BB% of his career. .94 per 9 and 9.8% respectively.  

Over the life of the contract I expect Papelbon to post WARs of 1.5, 2, 1.5 and 1 making him worth $30 million dollars. That doesn't mean Papelbon should get that big of a deal but it does mean the Phillies could lose $20 million dollars in this deal if not more.

In 2005 the Toronto Blue Jays made B.J. Ryan the highest paid reliever in baseball paying him $47 million dollars over 5 years. His first season he did very good posting 2.9 WAR and a 2.94 xFIP. After that it went downhill. And fast. In May of 2007 B.J. Ryan got Tommy John Surgery and missed the rest of the year. In 2008 he had a 4.26 xFIP and only .9 WAR. In 2009 he pitched in only 25 games and had a 6.48 xFIP and -.6 WAR. The Blue Jays thought they were getting a premium closer but in the end they got nothing. In fact the Blue Jays actually lost $35.3 million dollars in that deal. Ryan only gave the Blue Jays $11.7 million dollars in value.

Last off-season the Yankees signed Rafael Soriano to a 3 year, $35 million dollar deal and Soriano hasn't lived up to that either. In 2010 Soriano had a 3.62 xFIP and only 1.5 WAR. In 2011 Soriano's xFIP was 4.18 and he posted an abysmal .3 WAR.

As you can see giving big dollars to closers can be a big problem. With that $50 million dollars the Phillies could have improved an area of need such as third base or their outfield. The Phillies are rumored to be interested in Michael Cuddyer, with some of that $50 million and a cheaper closer such as Jonathan Broxton. The Phillies will hope that Papelbon will help anchor a bullpen that probably won't need to work as much due to their amazing rotation but history is defiantly not on their side.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Twins Should Trade for Martin Prado

After signing SS/2B Jeremy Carroll to a two year deal the Twins now need to make a trade for Atlanta Braves 2B/3B Martin Prado. The Twins were decimated with injuries last season and suffered from poor play in the infield, particularly the middle infield. He may not be the prototypical Minnesota infielder but he can make the team much better by being put into their offense.

Last year the Twins got horrible production from second base. From second base they got a .287 OBP and a total of 1.3 WAR which is pretty pathetic. Prado would add a nice right handed bat to the line-up sliding either behind Justin Morneau or behind Denard Span, he wouldn't contribute much defensively though. Before last year Prado put up WARs of 4.4 and 3.2 showing that last year was most likely a fluke. Prado did have a down year but that was mainly due to a case of bad luck. His slash line last year was .260/.302/.385 and his power seemingly went away, he only had a .125 ISO compared to his .141 career ISO. His .296 wOBA was also well below his .337 career wOBA. Compared to his career BABIP of .315 last year's .266 was a dissapointment. The .049 differential is pretty significant and he should see that climb.

 Normally Prado is a pretty good line drive hitter but last year he really struggled with hitting line drives. His career LD% is 18.9% and last year it was only 14.6%. Those line drives turned into ground balls and flyballs. His GB% increased 2.3%, going from 48.5% to 50.8% and his FB% went from 30.5 % to 34.6%.

Let's take a look at what Prado could do next season assuming his BABIP returns to his career average or close to it with this spreadsheet that I made.

[googleapps domain="docs" dir="spreadsheet/pub" query="hl=en_US&hl=en_US&key=0AoxdCp-sqCG3dHhpUHFnamRqbGM3RWIxS3RxTHE5NGc&single=true&gid=0&output=html&widget=true" width="500" height="300" /]

xBABIP has him returning to his normal BABIP of .315 making a bounce back season all the more likely. xAVG, xOBP and xSLG have him at .303/.343/.428 putting him at the production he was giving in 2010.

Financially Prado is projected to make $4.4 million dollars next season and for what he can do that's not very expensive at all. The next two seasons Prado should be able to produce WARs of 3 and 3.5 respectively making him worth $32.5 million dollars in value. For what he's getting paid he'd be a steal. Prado wouldn't be too expensive, probably costing a tier two prospect and possibly a tier three. With only $7.9 million tied up with Carroll and Prado Minnesota would still have a little over $20 million dollars to sign a back-up catcher, outfielder and possibly two pitchers.

In the end, if Minnesota can get Martin Prado, possibly with a package involving one of their outfield prospects they should pull the trigger. xBABIP shows that Prado should make a comeback and if Minnesota can get him when his value is low they need to do it.

Twins, Jamey Carroll Closing in on Deal

The Minnesota Twins and Jamey Carroll are close to agreeing to a multi-year deal. Full details haven't been given yet but I imagine it won't be more then $2-4 million annually. If/when the deal happens I actually like this for Minnesota. Carroll would start at shortstop right away and with Nishioka'a struggles last year it would be a nice upgrade. Jamey Carroll doesn't have any power, totaling 12 home runs in 11 years but does other things very well.

Carroll is a better ball player then he gets credit for. Last year he posted 2.2 WAR. He does have a 3.1 WAR season to his credit as well a 2.5 WAR season which he posted in 2010. Carroll does a good job on getting on base, last season he posted a .359 OBP and a .321 wOBA. For his career he has a .356 OBP and .318 wOBA. He has a good eye at the plate, walking 9.9% of the time for his career and striking out only 13.9% of the time. He even has some speed, stealing 10 bases last year.

Last season his BABIP was .332 in comparison to his career BABIP is .325 so it wasn't too far off his career average. xBABIP says that Carroll will post a .331 xBABIP next season meaning he should have a pretty similar season.

He's also a solid defender, he has a career total 16.4 UZR. If he can be a slightly above average defender for Minnesota they can easily get their money's worth throughout the life of the deal.

I suspect Carroll will post WARs of 2.0 and 1.5 assuming it's a 2 year deal. That means Carroll should be worth roughly $17.5 million dollars. Not bad for a deal that shouldn't be more then $6 million. Carroll does turn 38 in February but he's still a nice player to have.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Giants, Royals Swap Players

Yesterday the San Fransisco Giants and Kansas City Royals swapped players. The Giants sent starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez and minor league starter Ryan Verdugo to Kansas City for outfielder Milkey Cabrera. In short this is a meh trade for both sides. The Royals got a league average starter and the Giants got an average outfielder.

I will admit Cabrera had a solid season last year. He did post a 4.2 WAR and .349 wOBA, both career highs. Let's take a look at what he did this past season and his career statistics.

[googleapps domain="docs" dir="spreadsheet/pub" query="hl=en_US&hl=en_US&key=0AoxdCp-sqCG3dERHNUF6cVo4ZXExMk8ydGZuYlg1S3c&output=html&widget=true" width="500" height="300" /]

As you can see Cabrera is having a career year all across the board. One reason that can be attributed to this was his high BABIP. it was .33 points above his career average. His high BABIP could either be due to luck or the fact that the defense was really bad. The point is Cabrera shouldn't be nearly as good in the National League. If you think otherwise check out how he did when he was in Atlanta. This was with 509 plate appearances.

-1 WAR, .294 wOBA, 79 wRC+, .98 ISO, .288 BABIP. His BABIP was pretty close to his career .299 BABIP. Meaning that Cabrera just isn't that good. Since he isn't that good of a defender in the first place spacious AT&T Park shouldn't help. For the Giants fans who think they got someone good I'm sorry to say you didn't.

The Royals didn't do much better themselves. Jonathan Sanchez can strike guys out. That's pretty much it. He struck out 23% of the batters he faced, good for top 5 in baseball. After that, well it's pretty ugly. He has a huge problem with walks, he walked 14.9% of batters he faced.

His FIP was 4.30 and his xFIP was 4.36. His FIP- and ERA- were exactly the same, 114 to be exact meaning both his FIP- and ERA- were 14% worse then league average. His .272 BABIP was slightly below his .287 BABIP but not low enough to make a huge difference. The disturbing thing was that his xFIP was much better at home on the road meaning he could struggle away from AT&T Park. His xFIP at home was 3.82 and is xFIP on the road was 4.94, over a whole run worse. That isn't what Royals fans want to see. I recommend reading this article by Dave Cameron from Fangraphs about Sanchez's struggles.

In the end neither team really gained anything, they each got average to below average players. The Royals did need a pitcher but Sanchez wasn't the one they should have pursued. Like wise the Giants needed an outfielder but Melky Cabrera won't solve that issue.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Jim Thome signs with Phillies

It's a one year deal and I imagine it's no more then 3 million dollars. He's one of the best power hitters of all time and had some of his best seasons in Philedelphia. He'll mainly come off the bench as a power lefty when needed. Even though he's 41 he still has massive power. Overall it should work out well for Philedelphia.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Top 50 Free Agents

Instead of doing an off-season outlook for a team today I am going to post the top 50 free agents and where I think they will sign.


Albert Pujols: St. Louis Cardinals Others: Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals

Jose Reyes: Milwaukee Brewers Others: Detroit Tigers

Prince Fielder: Texas Rangers Others: Seattle Mariners

C.J. Wilson: Texas Rangers Others: New York Yankees, New York Mets, Washington Nationals

Good Players:

Carlos Beltran: Boston Red Sox

Jimmy Rollins: Philedelphia Phillies

Hiroki Kuroda: Los Angeles Dodgers

Roy Oswalt: Washington Nationals

Edwin Jackson: Boston Red Sox

David Ortiz: Toronto Blue Jays

Aramis Ramirez: Colorado Rockies


Mark Buehrle: Chicago White Sox

Coco Crisp: Toronto Blue Jays

Michael Cuddyer: Atlanta Braves

Jonathan Papelbon: Texas Rangers

Josh Willingham: Minnesota Twins

Javier Vasquez: Retire

Carlos Pena: Chicago Cubs

Kelly Johnson: Toronto Blue Jays

Role Players:

Ryan Madson: Philedelphia Phillies

Grady Sizemore: Tampa Bay Rays

David DeJesus: Baltimore Orioles

Erik Bedard: Boston Red Sox

Heath Bell: San Diego Padres

Ramon Hernandez: Minnesota Twins

Raefal Furcal: St. Louis Cardinals

Chris Capuano: New York Mets

Clint Barmes: Chicago White Sox

Fransisco Rodriguez: Milwaukee Brewers

Paul Maholm: Washington Nationals

The Rest:

Jason Kubel: Los Angeles Dodgers

Freddy Garcia: New York Yankees

Cody Ross: Florida Marlins

Aaron Hill: Arizona Diamondbacks

Darren Oliver: Texas Rangers

Jamey Carrol: Los Angeles Dodgers

Casey Kotchmen: Tampa Bay Rays

Johnny Damon: Retire

Jeff Francis: Houston Astros

Jim Thome: Retire

Ramon Santiago: New York Mets

Bartolo Colon: Los Angeles Angels

Nick Punto: St. Louis Cardinals

Joe Nathan: New York Mets

Mark Ellis: Colorado Rockies

Jason Marquis: Pittsburgh Pirates

Frank Fransisco: Cleveland Indians

Bruce Chen: Kansas City Royals

Andruw Jones: New York Yankees

Jon Garland: Minnesota Twins

List taken from Fangraphs.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Off-Season: Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers came within one strike of winning their first world series two times. Going into free agency they don't need to do a lot if they want to get back. Two things they could improve on though are starting pitching and first base.

Starting Pitching:

The Rangers had four really good starting pitchers this season. They were C.J. Wilson, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Derek Holland. Combined all four pitchers posted 17.3 WAR. The problem is Alexi Ogando probably won't be that good next season and C.J. Wilson may not even be on the team. Wilson has stated that he would like to return to the Rangers but who knows if that will turn out if the Yankees start throwing cash at him. If he leaves the Rangers wouldn't have a ton of options.

They could look at Roy Oswalt but he's stated in the past that he's a National League guy. Or they could look at Japanese-Iranian sensation Yu Darvish. Darvish is a 25-year-old pitcher who pitches for the Japanese team Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Darvish is 6'5" and weighs 220 lbs, he can easily put on some pounds. Darvish throws five pitches. He has a 4 seam fastball that is usually between 91-94 mph but can top out at 97 mph. He has a slurve, two seam, cutter, curve, splitter and a change-up as well. In his six year career Darvish has 974 strike outs and 247 walks. For what it's worth he's had an ERA under 2 for the last four seasons. He'll be expensive as well and the Rangers have money to spend. Check out this article by Dave Cameron of Fangraphs about how much Darvish should get paid.  After those two there aren't really ace like pitchers on the market and that's what Texas would need if they lost Wilson. They could also ask Tampa Bay about Shields but he would come at a cost.

First Base:

Texas also could use a first basemen going into next year. Mitch Moreland showed he has power potential (.155 ISO) But his .317 wOBA is dreadful. There just happens to be two very good fist basemen on the market this season. I don't think they'll sign Albert Pujols but I do believe they have a legitmate shot at Prince Fielder. With Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz, Michael Young and Mike Napoli all right handed Prince Fielder could slide right in with Josh Hamilton and supply power from the left side. The past 6 years Fielder has totaled 23.4 WAR but one year he only had 62 PA with .1 WAR and the other two he had a combied 3 WAR. This past season he posted 5.5 WAR which was his second highest in his career. His highest was in 2009 when he posted 6.4 WAR. If Fielder posted 5.5 WAR, 6 WAR, 5.5 WAR, 5 WAR, 4.5 WAR over the next five years he'd be worth he would be worth $106 million dollars in value. If the Rangers could get him for 5 years $100 million they'd have themselves a nice deal. At 28 years old Fielder still is well in his prime and should still put up huge numbers. It would probably cost the Rangers 5-6 years at a little over $130 million dollars though.

Overall the Rangers are a really good team and don't have to make a ton of changes. I fthey could get C.J. Wilson back and sign Fielder they'd be right in the mix for a third world series appearance.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Off-Season: Washington Nationals.

The Washington Nationals are on the cusp of being really, really good. Their farm system is ridiculous but don't be surprised if they open up the checkbook this off-season. Last season they finished in third place with an 80-82 record, a huge improvement from past seasons. Going into free agency their biggest needs are a center fielder and pitching. There's two players you shouldn't be surprised that aren't pitchers or outfielders that they may go after. I'll address that soon.


The Washington Nationals have two really good starting pitchers. Those two starting pitchers are Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. Strasburg is now over a year removed from Tommy John surgery. The time that he did pitch this season he was absolutely ridiculous. He had a 1.28 FIP and a 2.43 xFIP. He struck out 9 per 9 innings and only walked .75 per 9. He also already had a 1.1 WAR. All of this was only in 5 starts so it's a small sample but I believe it's safe to say that he's back. Zimmermann also had a nice season, posting a 3.16 FIP and 3.78 xFIP. He doesn't strike out as much as Strasburg, he only had 6.92 strikeouts per 9 innings but his walk rate was just as impressive. 1.73 per 9 innings.

After those two their starters aren't the best. I don't expect them to sign C.J. Wilson but some other players they may look at are Hiroki Kuroda, Roy Oswalt and possibly Paul Maholm. Kuroda would be the one out of this group that wouldn't surprise me if he signed there. He's a very solid pitcher, two seasons ago he posted a 3.43 xFIP and 4.1 WAR. This past season he only posted a 2.4 WAR and 3.56 xFIP. He saw a 5% decrease in ground balls and a 3% increase in HR/9. If he can get back to being a ground ball pitcher and cut back on the home runs he could easily be a 3-4 win a season pitcher for a few years.


I don't see the Nationals making a run at any of the free agent outfielders this year. After signing Jayson Werth to that contract and only getting 2.5 WAR out of him I'm not sure they want to hand out another deal to Beltran or Cuddyer.

Instead, I see them making a run at B.J. Upton of the Tampa Bay Rays. The past five years Upton has posted 20 WAR. In 2009 he posted his worse, only 2.4. Other then that he's an exceptional player. He has power, speed, and ok outfielder. The Rays have been wanting to move him for a while but they haven't found the right match yet. The Nationals have also wanted him for a while so it seems like this deal only makes sense. I'm not the best with prospects so I'm not sure what TB would exactly require but they could get themselves a nice little haul.


I got a WAR graph from Fangraphs comparing B.J. Upton with some of the young outfielders of day. Out of the three he has the highest WAR, still only 28 he's only into his second year of his prime and should be productive for years to come.

The rest of their roster is pretty solid. Danny Espinosa had a very good rookie year posting a 3.5 WAR and Michael Morse had a break out season posting a 3.4 WAR. Wilson Ramos looks like he will be a solid catcher,  if Ian Desmond wants to start he'll have to work on some things but it looks like Danny Espinosa may shift over to shortstop and Stephen Lombardozzi will get a chance at second base. There are two players they probably will have their eyes on though...

...and they are

That's right. Don't be surprised if Washington makes a run at one of these two. While I'd be surprised if they got one they have shown that they will spend money in order to improve the team. If they got one of these two and with Bryce Harper on the way the Nationals could be scary. Even if they don't they will be much better heading into the 2012 season.

With that my off-season outlook on the Washington Nationals comes to end. Keep checking in periodically for more off-season write-ups.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Off-Season: Minnesota Twins

It's that time of year again. Teams lose guys to free agency, sign guys to fill holes and trade for players. The Minnesota Twins could be doing all of that. The three main players the Twins are losing in free agency are Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Joe Nathan. All together the Twins will have roughly $35 million dollars to spend this off-season. That money needs to be spent on at least one starting pitcher, a catcher, a reliever or two and an outfielder. If there is money left over it could go to a third basemen.

Minnesota's pitching this past season was abysmal. As a staff they had a 4.30 FIP and a 4.33 xFIP. They only struck out 5.95 K/9 but only walked 3.04, which isn't awful. Their 1.02 HR/9 was the sixth worst in baseball. Target Field is regarded as a pitcher's park making 1.02 HR/9 all the more worse. Brian Duensing doesn't cut it as a starter. He's much better used when coming out of the bull-pen and when used as a spot starter. After having such a good 2010 season Liriano struggled mightily during the 2011 campaign.

[googleapps domain="docs" dir="spreadsheet/pub" query="hl=en_US&hl=en_US&key=0AoxdCp-sqCG3dExxUmItamp0amF6bDhDWDNpOHBuNWc&output=html&widget=true" width="500" height="300" /]

As you can see his BB/9 increased almost three walks which is a big problem. His K/9 went down two which is another problem. In 2010 Liriano was getting a lot of ground balls, this past season that went down 5%. His decrease in ground balls lead to more fly balls, something that contributes to more home runs. Two seasons ago Liriano was doing a terrific job at getting first pitch strikes but really struggled with that this past season. Liriano needs to get back to his '10 performance if the Twins' want to have a much better rotation.

The rest of the Twins' rotation is decent at best. Blackburn is inconsistent, Pavano is a solid number 3 as is Baker.  The Twins won't be signing C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish but three pitchers that they could possibly take a look at are Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland or Edwin Jackson. None of these are number one guys but all are solid. Edwin Jackson may be inconsistent at times but he started doing much better when he got dealt to St. Louis. He ended the season with a 3.73 xFIP. Buehrle is a guy I'd like to see come to Minnesota but I'm not sure if he'll leave Chicago. Jon Garland is another solid pitcher but he isn't a number one or two or three. He had his struggles in the National League but was much better when he was with the Chicago White Sox. Ideally it'd be nice if the Twins made a splash by signing C.J. Wilson or making a trade but that most likely won't happen. On the bright side they have the number two pick in the draft so maybe they can find a nice pitcher.

The bull-pen was awful. Just awful. Guys were either hurt or underperforming. Some guys they could possibly look at are Joel Zumaya, LaTroy Hawkins, Jon Rauch (if he get's bought out) and Darren Oliver. All of those guys are solid when healthy and shouldn't cost too much if Minnesota wanted to take a bargain on one or two.

With Mauer not playing catcher as much Minnesota will need to sign one since Butera is awful. Ramon Hernandez wouldn't be a bad catcher to look at, he can hit for power (.164 ISO) and had a .339 wOBA. His WAR was right at 2.0 making him a league average catcher. For the right price he could be a nice catcher for a season or so.

The Twins also need at least one outfielder. Ben Revere really isn't that good, Joe Benson should get playing time and Aaron Hicks is a year or so away. I don't think Cuddyer or Kubel come back simply because they will cost more than they are worth. Cuddyer in particular. He isn't worth a 3 year $36 million dollar deal that I've been hearing he could get. In the meantime here are a few guys they could look at. Josh Willingham, Cody Ross and Ryan Ludwick are all solid outfielders who wouldn't cost too much. Willingham and Ludwick in particular would give Minnesota some added pop to the line-up. If I was Minnesota I would strongly look at Willingham. This past season he had a .232 ISO and .350 wOBA. He's someone who could slide in the middle of the lineup and have the potential to do some good things.

Finally, if there was any money left I would take a look at Wilson Betemit or Jose Lopez. Betemit also has some pop in his bat but he can play a variety of positions. Lopez also is a decent player and with what the Twins have he could step it at 2B/SS and get some good playing time and show the Twins what he has. Nishioka is an unknown and Casilla isn't that good, Lopez could step in and start right away and Betemit could come off the bench or play 3B if Valencia continues his struggles.

Finally, Minnesota could look into some trades. Guys like James Shields and Gio Gonzalez should be on the market but won't be cheap. The Twins might be able to get Stephen Lombardozzi from the Nationals but he would cost Denard Span and that wouldn't be worth it.

With that my off-season plans for what the Minnesota Twins should do comes to an end. Stay tuned for other teams as the off-season goes on as well as analysis when free agents sign, players get traded and other baseball news.

[polldaddy poll=5627206]

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The New Blog

Hey guys! This is Alex from The Homerun Porch. Like I said I moved the blog here because I wanted a better url and title for the blog. I'm gonna make this the best baseball blog that I possibly can and I hope you enjoy it. Also, from now on I will have my first name which is Alex as my username. Again, thanks for checking out the blog!

Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Last night the St. Louis Cardinals clinched their 11th world series title. The series was nothing short of awesome. Game 6 was perhaps the most exciting baseball game of all time. Hometown kid David Freese had a heck of a game, hitting the game tying triple in the ninth and then the walkoff two innings later. Overall, he had a great world series and playoffs in general. His NLCS and world series MVP are a testament to that.

In game two Derek Holland pitched one of the best games that I've ever seen in a playoff game. He went 8.1 innings, walked 2, struck out 7 and had a 2.07 FIP. Keep in mind I'm only 18 but still he pitched a gem.

How can we forget about Pujols? He had one of the best games ever in the world series. He went 5-6 with three home runs. He is only the third player ever to do that in the game. The other two are Babe Ruth (twice) and Mr. October himself, Reggie Jackson. Not a bad class to be in.

The other four games were really good as well but those two really stuck out to me.

In the end this series came down to both bullpens due to the struggles of both team's starting pitchers. C.J. Wilson had a really rough series but going in to free agency it shouldn't affect him to much because of the small sample size. Chris Carpenter really stepped up when he was needed last night. He pitched 6 strong innings with 2 walks, 6 strike outs and only 2 earned runs all on three days rest.

All in all this was a great series. Both teams played very well but in the end only one team can win and last night it was the St. Louis Cardinals.

In the mean time I will try and put some posts up about free agency and as we get closer to the season I will do some team evaluations. In the mean time, The St. Louis Cardinals are the champions of major league baseball.

Until next time,


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Game Three Preview

Tonight in the third game of the World Series Kyle Lohse is set to face off against Matt Harrison. The line-up for the visiting St. Louis Cardinals is:

Furcal Bats Both, as R vs L:

8.5 BB%

 9.6 K%

.115 ISO 

.237 BABIP

84 wRC+

Craig Bats R vs L:

4.3 BB%

17.1 K%

.343 ISO

.320 BABIP

.424 wOBA

175 wRC+ (SSS)

Pujols Bats R vs L:

7.3 BB%

9.7 K%

.313 ISO

 .255 BABIP

 .392 wOBA

153 wRC+

Holliday Bats R vs L:

20 BB%

18.2 K%

 .209 ISO

 .290 BABIP

 .387 wOBA

 149 wRC+

Berkman Bats Both, as L vs R:

 8 BB%

18.8 K%

.178 ISO

 .316 BABIP

 .353 wOBA

 126 wRC+

Freese Bats R vs L:

 7.1 BB%

16.7 K%

 .160 ISO

 .383 BABIP

 .389 wOBA

 150 wRC+

Molina Bats R vs L:

13.4 BB%

10.1 K%

.176 ISO

 .291 BABIP

 .366 wOBA

 135 wRC+

Jay Bats L vs L:

 5.8 BB%

 15.4 K%

.106 ISO

 .333 BABIP

 .320 wOBA

103 wRC+

Theriot Bats R vs L:

5.8 BB%

 5.8 K%

.103 ISO

.331 BABIP

.339 wOBA

116 wRC+

When Harrison is facing lefties he posts much better stats. He has a 3.38 FIP, 19.8 K%, 5.8 BB% but he also gives up more home runs, .84 HR/9. When facing lefties he has a higher GB%, 51.3% and a lower FB%, 26.9%.  Against righties he struggles a little more. His FIP is 3.57 he has a 15 K% and 8 BB%. He does give up less home runs though, .54 HR/9. His 46 GB% is lower then when he faces lefties but his 34.3 FB% is higher.  The Cardinals line-up is stacked with right handed hitters who mash lefties so it wouldn't be surprising to see if he struggled tonight.

The line-up for the Texas Rangers is:

Kinsler Bats R vs R:

11.6 BB%

9.9 K%

.213 ISO

.245 BABIP

.357 wOBA

 119 wRC+

Andrus Bats R vs R:

8.2 BB%

11.5 K%

.083 ISO

.314 BABIP

 .316 wOBA

 92 wRC+

Hamilton Bats L vs R:

8.6 BB%

15.4 K%

.220 ISO

 .336 BABIP

 .377 wOBA

 133 wRC+ 

Young Bats R vs R:

 6.9 BB%

11.2 K%

.135 ISO

 .354 BABIP

 .362 wOBA

 122 wRC+

Beltre Bats R vs R:

 3.3 BB%

10.8 K%

.234 ISO

 .274 BABIP

 .357 wOBA

119 wRC+

Cruz Bats R vs R:

 5.7 BB%

 24.3 K%

 .216 ISO

 .268 BABIP

 .323 wOBA

 96 wRC+

Napoli Bats R vs R:

 12.1 BB%

18.5 K%

 .316 ISO

 .335 BABIP

.443 wOBA

178 wRC+

Murphy Bats L vs R:

7.5 BB%

13.4 K%

 .165 ISO

 .316 BABIP

 .350 wOBA

115 wRC+

Torrealba Bats R vs R:

 4.4 BB%

 16.7 K%

 .154 ISO

 .317 BABIP

 .324 wOBA

 96 wRC+

Kyle Lohse is a pretty solid pitcher. Against righties and lefties he posts pretty similar stats. Against righties he posts a 3.66 FIP and a 3.68 FIP against lefties. His xFIP against righties is 3.98 and against lefties it's 4.10. Against righties he has a 13.5 K% and a 5 BB%. He can give up home runs, he had a .78 HR/9 versus righties. Against lefties he has a 15.3 K% and a 5.9 BB%, almost identical when he faces righties. Against lefties he gives up .75 HR/9, again almost identical to righties. Cruz really struggles against righties and Hamilton is hurt so Lohse might have a slight advantage but Young, Cruz, Beltre and Napoli crush righties. Lohse is a solid pitcher but Texas' line-up doesn't struggle too bad against right handed pitchers.

I think the low scoring affair ends tonight, the bullpens should have a big factor. I'm not sure if Ogando is available tonight but he may be needed if Harrison blows up. Same goes for Jake Westbrook of the Cardinals.

If you want you can follow a WPA graph that I will try to get up around game time. You can use these to see how certain moments in the game affect the probability of the Rangers or Cardinals winning. It's pretty cool, if I don't get it up in time you can see them at Fangraphs under the scoreboard tab.

New Blog Name

Lately I've been trying to think of a new name for the blog because I feel like "The Homerun Porch" isn't the best. If anyone has any ideas feel free to put a comment with your idea.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

World Series: Final Evaluation

Overall, I think the Rangers will win the World Series. I believe their line-up and bullpen are better then the Cardinals. 1-9 the Rangers are deeper, the last few batters in the Cardinals line-up aren't that good and can't be counted on when it matters. Plus the Rangers have the better bench. Ogando and Feliz give the Rangers' bullpen the edge over St. Louis.

While I do think the Cardinals have the better pitching rotation I'm not sure they can keep the Rangers in check.  Carpenter should do solid against the Rangers but the other three worry me.

As a team the Rangers had a 60.6 WAR, only the second team since the '98 Yankees to have a team WAR over 60 and make the World Series. When it's all said and done I think the Rangers win the series 4-1, with the Cardinals winning game one with Carpenter on the hill and then losing the second time he pitches.

World Series: Rotation and Bullpen

Tonight the Texas Rangers will send out C.J. Wilson to face off against Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals. Let's take a look at each team's rotation.

First off, the Texas Rangers.

1) C.J. Wilson 3.24 FIP, 22.5 K%, 8.1 BB%, .64 HR/9 5.9 WAR

This season C.J. Wilson was one of the games better pitchers. He can pile up the strikeouts, almost striking out 25% of the batters he sees. He doesn't walk much either. He also does a very good job at keeping the ball in the ballpark. His 3.24 FIP was one of the better ones in the league as well.

2) Derek Holland 3.94 FIP, 19.2 K% 8.0 BB% 1 HR/9 3.6 WAR

Holland is a solid pitcher, he's always been very good at striking people out. The thing that concerned people were the walks. His walks will probably always be high but if he can keep his strikeouts high and his FIP relatively low he should be alright.

3) Colby Lewis 4.54 FIP 20.1 K% 6.1 BB% 1.57 HR/9 2.3 WAR

Lewis is a solid pitcher, last year he was one of the games more surprising comeback stories. This year he struggled a little. His problem isn't walking to many batters, it's giving up the long ball. With Pujols, Berkman and Holliday playing for St. Louis those home runs problems probably won't get solved.

4) Matt Harrison 3.52 FIP 16.3 K% 7.4 BB% .63 HR/9 4.2 WAR

Harrison finally put together a solid season for the Rangers. There really isn't much that he did bad this season. His 3.52 FIP is solid. He's a groundball pitcher for the most part so he doesn't give up many home runs.


Scott Feldman 3.99 FIP 17.1 K% 7.8 BB% .84 HR/9

Alexi Ogando 3.65 FIP 18.2 K% 6.2 BB% .85 HR/9 4.4 WAR

Mike Adams 2.47 FIP 26.7 K% 5.1 BB% .61 HR/9 1.8 WAR

Neftali Feliz 3.57 FIP 21.4 K% 11.9 BB% .58 HR/9 1 WAR

The Rangers have some really good members in their bullpen, Ogando was a starter for most of the year so that's why his numbers are so different. Adam's K% is really nice to see but Feliz's BB% is somewhat disturbing. Overall their bullpen is really solid.

Now, the St. Louis Cardinals

1) Chris Carpenter  3.06 FIP 19.2 K% 5.5 BB% .61 HR/9 5 WAR

Chris Carpenter is a stud. After being hurt the last two years have been really good, there's not much to say. He's really good.

2) Jaime Garcia 3.23 FIP 18.9 K% 6.1 BB% .69 HR/9 3.6 WAR

After coming out of nowhere last season Garcia put together another nice season. He will have a challenge versus the Rangers but he has the talent to have a good outing or two.

3) Edwin Jackson 3.55 FIP 17.2 K% 7.2 BB% .72 HR/9 3.8 WAR

He may not be the most consistent pitcher but Edwin Jackson is pretty solid. Maybe getting traded to the Cardinals and working with one of the game's best pitching coaches in Dave Duncan helped. Who knows but posted some solid numbers this season.

4) Kyle Lohse 3.67 FIP 14.3 K% 5.4 BB% .76 HR/9 2.5 WAR

Lohse is a nice pitcher in his own right. He isn't a star but he does some good things. His 3.67 FIP is solid and he doesn't give up home runs. Assuming he's the fourth pitcher in their rotation that's really good.


Octavio Dotel: 3.23 FIP 28.4 K% 7.8 BB% 1 HR/9 .9 WAR

Mitchel Boggs: 3.44 FIP 18.5 K% 8.1 BB% .59 HR/9 .3 WAR

Jake Westbrook: 4.25 FIP 12.9 K% 9 BB% .79 HR/9 1.1 WAR

Fernando Salas: 3.16 FIP 25.4 K% 7.1 BB% .84 HR/9 1 WAR

Salas had a very good season, striking out over 25% of the batters he faced. Dotel has been amazing this postseason and had a good regular season. I didn't post everyone in the bullpen but they do have a solid one.

Overall, I'd take the Cardinals rotation. The deciding factor was Lohse and Lewis for me. Lohse had the better FIP  and he was better overall but if the Cardinals want to win the World Series their rotation will have to do much better then they did last series.

I'd take Texas' bullpen over St. Louis because it's deeper in my opinion and has better options.

Stay tuned for my final overall evaluation!

World Series: Line-ups.

Tonight at 7:05 PM central time the World Series begins. And I can't wait. Facing off in the World Series are the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals. Both top offenses in the league this year. In this article I will be comparing the two teams and giving my opinion on who I think has the better line-up. My slash lines will consist of ISO, wOBA and wRC+. I will also include WAR.

First off the Texas Rangers.

Ian Kinsler: .233/.370/128 7.7 WAR

Ian Kinsler is not your prototypical lead-off man. He hits for power which you normally don't see in a lead-off guy. He has solid speed, he stole 30 bases throughout the year. He has an above average eye at the plate, walking 12.3% of the time and striking out only 9.8% of the time. As you can see in his slash line he also gets on base an exceptional amount of the time. While he isn't what you think of when you hear lead-off hitter he's very good at what he does.

Elvis Andrus: .082/.323/96 4.5 WAR

Andrus' stats don't exactly jump out at you. He has very good speed, stealing 37 bases. His eye at the plate is above average. He walks 8.4% of the time and strikes out 11.1% of the time. Like I said, he isn't really a producer on offense, his value comes mostly from his defense but for hitting number two he does somethings well.

Josh Hamilton: .238/.371/129 4.2 WAR

What's there to say?  Hamilton is a straight beast. He hits for power, he gets on base, he defends, he has a good eye. The only thing he doesn't do is run but he doesn't need to.

Michael Young: .136/.369/127 3.8 WAR

Young is one of the underrated offensive players in baseball in my mind. He isn't a star but he's one of those guys that knows how to play baseball. He doesn't strike out a lot, only 11.3% this year, has modest power, .136 and can get on base. What more can you ask for?

Adrian Beltre: .265/.379/134 5.7 WAR

So much for only performing in contract years. After signing a long term deal with the Rangers in the off-season Beltre has been wrecking the baseball. Not only does he have ridiculous power but he also has patience at the plate walking 4.8% of the time, a little low but he only struck out 10.1% of the time. Just what you want for a fifth hitter.

Mike Napoli: .312/.444/178 5.6 WAR

This year was a breakout year for Napoli for sure. He's always had good power but this year he really flashed it. He has a great eye, walking 13.4% of the time and striking out only 19.7% of the time. His OBP was a career best, .414. I bet the Angels are pretty upset that they traded him.

Nelson "Nellie" Cruz: .246/.352/116 1.6 WAR

On offense Cruz is a beast, one thing that is a problem is that he strikes out a lot, 22.6% of the time. He has power but could bring his OBP up a bit. His defense is pretty poor, hurting his WAR. This postseason he's been a beast though so don't be surprised if he moves up.

David Murphy: .196/.319/96 1.1 WAR

Murphy is pretty much the prototypical replacement player. He's an average offensive player and sub-average defensive player. He doesn't strike out and gets his share of walks. He doesn't do anything great but he's someone who can come off the bench.

Endy Chavez: .125/.325/98 1.5 WAR

Chavez, like Murphy is also a basic replacement player. He can get on much, hit for some power, play league average defense. He isn't an everyday player but someone I'd take without complaining.

Some other players to watch in the series: Mitch Moreland, Yorvit Torrealba.

Now for the home team, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Rafael Furcal: .117/.288/84 .5 WAR

Furcal has been injury plagued the last couple of seasons and has been a shell of his formal self. He's really not that good anymore.

Jon Jay: .127/.333/112 2.8 WAR

A lot of people like Jay in St. Louis. He can be a solid OF in the majors if he can keep the job. He can get on base and doesn't strike out. His defensive hasn't proven to be the best but that's a SSS. He isn't quite as good as his numbers suggest due to his .340 BABIP but he has the potential to be decent.

Albert Pujols .242/.385/148 5.1 WAR

He wasn't even completely healthy all year and he a really good. He's a machine. Need I say more?

Lance Berkman: .246/.402/159 5 WAR

Talk about a comeback year. After the end of last season everyone thought he was done. Guess we were wrong. Berkman always had a good eye at the plate and an exceptional OBP. He also has always had amazing strength, but you should know that already. With Pujols and Berkman hitting 3-4 I'd be nervous if I was Texas.

Matt Holliday:.226/.398/140 5 WAR

What's there to say? He's one of the game's better OF. He gets on base, has power, can defend, the only thing he can't do is run. With Pujols, Berkman and Holliday 3-4-5 the Rangers will have their hands full for sure.

David Freese: .144/348/122 2.7 WAR

Freese is one of those guys that can do a variety of things for your club. For a bottom of the line-up guy he can hit for some power, get on base and play league average defense. He'll never be a star but for a bottom half of the line-up guy he isn't bad.

Yadier Molina: .160/.349/123 4.1

Molina is one of the game's better catchers. While he isn't known for his offense as much as his glove he's still a very solid hitter. He does a good job at getting on base and has above average power. Most of the teams in baseball would take this guy in a heartbeat.

Nick Punto: .143/.350/123 1.8 WAR

No, Punto isn't that good of an offensive player. He only played in 66 games. If you don't already know, he's a horrible offensive player. Horrible may be an understatement. Most of his value comes from his defense. He's one of those guys that you put in during the 8th or 9th inning with a slim lead.

Allan Craig: .240/.399/158 2.6 WAR

Craig may look like he's really good, but again SSS. His .344 BABIP was also ridiculously high. He may be a solid player but I don't know enough about him. As a bench player though he looks good.

Others to watch: Skip Schumaker

I know I did not include a pitcher in the line-ups but honestly you all should know that pitchers don't do anything of significance really at the plate.

Overall I believe that Texas has the better line-up. Their 1-9 is much more balanced and they have some other bench players who are really solid. St. Louis has some really good players hitting 3-5 but again 1-9 I'd take Texas. Stay tuned for my evaluation of the pitching staffs and my overall team evaluation!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Does Ichiro Belong in the Hall of Fame?

In 2001 Ichiro came over from Japan and immediately took over the MLB by storm. He doesn't have power but what he does contribute is amazing. He has incredible speed, gets on base and has an amazing arm. Has he done enough to get into one of the most prestigous clubs ever though? Let's find out.

In his first season as a Mariner he was about as good as you can be. His OBP was .381 which is just what you want for your leadoff hitter. His .369 wOBA was also excellent. Ichiro demonstrated a great eye at the plate, striking out only 7.2% of the time but only walking 4.1% of the time. His .102 ISO wasn't a big deal because well that wasn't his game. His .369 BABIP was very high but Ichiro is an extreme groundball hitter and groundball hitters tend to have higher BABIPs. His GB% for his rookie year was 55.1%. He had an exceptional 130 wRC+ which would actually be the second highest of his career so far. His highest is 134 which he posted in 2004. Once Ichiro gets on base you can bet he'll steal, in his first season he swiped 56 bags. Not only did all of that result in a 6.1 WAR, he also received rookie of the year honors and MVP.

His career numbers are just as good. He walks 6.2% of the time for his career and strikes out only 9.2% of the time. His .371 OBP and .349 wOBA are both solid career numbers as well. Like I've said he doesn't hit for much power, he only has a .095 ISO but he more then makes up for it. His career BABIP is unusually high, .352 but that can be contributed by his career 55.9 GB%. His career WAR is 52.4, I doubt he'll reach 60 WAR but he came when he was 26 years old. If he played an extra 3-5 years earlier he would easily have been past 60 WAR by now.

Ichiro's defense is what's really remarkable. His career UZR is 103.6! He's had 5 years where he's had more then 10 UZR.  If you've ever seen him play you would know those numbers are no fluke.

Some of you still may be wondering if those are hall of fame numbers. Let's take a look at two hall of famers and one potential hall of famer. Here's a WAR graph comparing Ichiro to Kenny Lofton, Tony Gwynn and George Sisler.

Besides struggling this year, Ichiro compares pretty well to all of those guys. By looking it looks like he compares the best to Kenny Lofton. I made a spreadsheet on google docs comparing all of four of them as well. I can't figure out how to get it on here so you'll have to click this link.

Ichiro vs Others

Based on all of this information even though Ichiro has only played for 10 years and has accumulated under 60 WAR he still should be honored in the hall of fame. He is truly a unique player but also an excellent one and should be honored as such.