Results tagged ‘ Buster Posey ’
Wins Above Replacement, better known as WAR, came to the forefront of MVP balloting last season for many voters. Mike Trout, who, according to Fangraphs.com had a 10.0 WAR lost the AL MVP award to the Triple Crown winning Miguel Cabrera, who had a 7.1 WAR.
WAR can be calculated in various ways, as there is not one, established way of calculating the statistic. Fangraphs and Baseball Reference (position players and pitchers) are my go-to sites for different statistics, and they both calculate WAR differently (click on the above hyperlinks to read how they do that).
Due to the inconsistency in the statistic and the inconsistency in the overall value of the statistic (as evidenced by the number of baseball writers that didn’t consider the difference in value in Trout and Cabrera in 2012), should fantasy baseball consider using WAR as a summative (end of season) statistic, adding it to a 5 X 5 league for additional player values, or should it be used as a way to value players as you approach your 2013 fantasy drafts?
I wanted to see what the 2012 ESPN Player Rater, the 2013 ESPN Player Projections, the 2012 Fangraphs.com WAR Rankings, and the 2013 ZiPS WAR Rankings could show based on player performance. Below is the table that I created:
|2012 ESPN Player Rater||2013 ESPN Rankings||2012 WAR||2013 ZiPS WAR|
|1||Mike Trout||Ryan Braun||Mike Trout, 10.0||Mike Trout, 7.4|
|2||Ryan Braun||Mike Trout||Buster Posey, 8.0||Miguel Cabrera, 6.5|
|3||Miguel Cabrera||Miguel Cabrera||Ryan Braun, 7.9||Giancarlo Stanton, 6.4|
|4||Andrew McCutchen||Robinson Cano||Robinson Cano, 7.8||Clayton Kershaw, 6.4|
|5||R.A. Dickey||Andrew McCutchen||David Wright, 7.8||Buster Posey, 6.2|
|6||Josh Hamilton||Matt Kemp||Chase Headley, 7.5||Robinson Cano, 6.1|
|7||Fernando Rodney||Albert Pujols||Andrew McCutchen, 7.4||Felix Hernandez, 6.1|
|8||Justin Verlander||Carlos Gonzalez||Miguel Cabrera, 7.1||Ryan Braun, 5.9|
|9||Clayton Kershaw||Joey Votto||Justin Verlander, 6.8||Justin Verlander, 5.7|
|10||Craig Kimbrel||Prince Fielder||Jason Heyward, 6.6||Cliff Lee, 5.7|
|11||Alex Rios||Troy Tulowitzki||Adrian Beltre, 6.5||Joey Votto, 5.6|
|12||Adrian Beltre||Justin Upton||Yadier Molina, 6.5||Troy Tulowitzki, 5.3|
|13||Edwin Encarnacion||Justin Verlander||Aramis Ramirez, 6.5||Andrew McCutchen, 5.3|
|14||Chase Headley||Clayton Kershaw||Michael Bourn, 6.4||Zack Greinke, 5.3|
|15||David Price||Giancarlo Stanton||Aaron Hill, 6.2||Adrian Beltre, 5.2|
|16||Aroldis Chapman||Buster Posey||Felix Hernandez, 6.1||Dustin Pedroia, 5.2|
|17||Robinson Cano||David Wright||Martin Prado, 5.9||Madison Bumgarner, 5.0|
|18||Adam Jones||Adrian Beltre||Ben Zobrist, 5.9||Carlos Gonzalez, 4.9|
|19||Matt Cain||Josh Hamilton||Alex Gordon, 5.9||Evan Longoria, 4.8|
|20||Gio Gonzalez||Jose Bautista||Clayton Kershaw, 5.5||David Price, 4.8|
|21||Aaron Hill||Evan Longoria||Austin Jackson, 5.5||Ben Zobrist, 4.7|
|22||Jered Weaver||Felix Hernandez||Gio Gonzalez, 5.4||Bryce Harper, 4.7|
|23||Aramis Ramirez||Hanley Ramirez||Ian Desmond, 5.4||Matt Kemp, 4.7|
|24||David Wright||Stephen Strasburg||Torii Hunter, 5.3||Matt Cain, 4.7|
|25||Carlos Gonzalez||David Price||Matt Holliday, 5.1||Jose Bautista, 4.6|
|26||Prince Fielder||Dustin Pedroia||David Price, 5.1||Yadier Molina, 4.6|
|27||Buster Posey||Ian Kinsler||Yu Darvish, 5.1||Gio Gonzalez, 4.6|
|28||Jose Reyes||Jason Heyward||Zack Greinke, 5.1||Matt Wieters, 4.5|
|29||Billy Butler||Jose Reyes||Joe Mauer, 5.0||Brett Lawrie, 4.5|
|30||Cole Hamels||Matt Cain||Miguel Montero, 5.0||Ian Kinsler, 4.5|
|31||Kris Medlen||Edwin Encarnacion||Jimmy Rollins, 4.9||Yu Darvish, 4.5|
|32||Albert Pujols||Cliff Lee||Prince Fielder, 4.9||Roy Halladay, 4.5|
|33||Matt Holliday||Cole Hamels||Bryce Harper, 4.9||Joe Mauer, 4.4|
|34||Michael Bourn||Adam Jones||Chris Sale, 4.9||Carlos Santana, 4.4|
|35||Johnny Cueto||Starlin Castro||Cliff Lee, 4.9||Stephen Strasburg, 4.4|
|36||Jason Motte||Jay Bruce||Josh Reddick, 4.8||Cole Hamels, 4.4|
|37||Jason Heyward||Bryce Harper||Angel Pagan, 4.8||Jered Weaver, 4.4|
|38||Ian Desmond||Billy Butler||Wade Miley, 4.8||Jason Heyward, 4.3|
|39||Felix Hernandez||Jered Weaver||Johnny Cueto, 4.8||CC Sabathia, 4.3|
|40||Kyle Lohse||Zack Greinke||CC Sabathia, 4.8||Ryan Zimmerman, 4.2|
|41||Carlos Beltran||Adrian Gonzalez||Adam Jones, 4.6||Adam Wainwright, 4.2|
|42||Jim Johnson||Brandon Phillips||R.A. Dickey, 4.6||Albert Pujols, 4.1|
|43||Chris Sale||Craig Kimbrel||Max Scherzer, 4.6||Prince Fielder, 4.1|
|44||Giancarlo Stanton||Chase Headley||Dustin Pedroia, 4.5||Austin Jackson, 4.1|
|45||Derek Jeter||Jacoby Ellsbury||Ryan Zimmerman, 4.5||Jose Reyes, 4.1|
|46||Curtis Granderson||Matt Holliday||Jose Reyes, 4.5||Anthony Rizzo, 4.0|
|47||B.J. Upton||B.J.Upton||Cole Hamels, 4.5||Starlin Castro, 3.9|
|48||Melky Cabrera||Yadier Molina||Edwin Encarnacion, 4.4||Dexter Fowler, 3.9|
|49||Jimmy Rollins||Gio Gonzalez||Josh Hamilton, 4.4||Chase Headley, 3.9|
|50||Jonathan Papelbon||Adam Wainwright||Jake Peavy, 4.4||Miguel Montero, 3.9|
|Adam Wainwright, 4.4||Adrian Gonzalez, 3.9|
When I was compiling this sheet, there were names within the top 50 players in baseball and several surprises. Furthermore, the lack of rhyme or reason when it comes to ranking players in fantasy baseball is evident through the ESPN rankings from the 2012 season compared to the sites rankings for the 2013 season. For example, R.A. Dickey went from 5th overall in 2012 to outside of the top 50 in 2013.
When looking at the WAR rankings for the 2012 season, names like Michael Bourn, Aaron Hill, Yadier Molina, Alex Gordon, Martin Prado, and Ben Zobrist popped into the top 20 spots in player value. Certainly, their defensive skills come into play here, but isn’t there value in defense that could be used within fantasy baseball? Would defensive zone ratings come into play and how would that destroy the value that Miguel Cabrera creates for himself on offense?
While fantasy baseball players would be apprehensive to the idea of bringing defensive value into their games, wouldn’t WAR be a better way to show true player values within fantasy sports, as it is in real-life baseball? How could you add WAR to your fantasy league – as a running statistic (similar to ERA and WHIP, which can change dramatically from game to game), or should it be a single counting statistic that can be added at the end of the regular season?
Shouldn’t a player like Ben Zobrist, who ranks as the 11th most valuable position player in baseball the last three seasons, be considered an asset in fantasy baseball due to his value on the real diamond? Sure, his .259 batting average brings down his value, but he is just one of nine players over the last three seasons to hit 50 home runs and steal 50 bases, while posting an OPS of .792 with solid on-base skills to go along with his multiple position eligibility (2B/SS/OF).
There is no perfect way to determine player values from year to year, especially when regression can come from aging, change of scenary, teammates moving to another club, or injuries. While you probably don’t want to draft a player like Chase Headley, Zobrist, or Alex Gordon in your first 20 picks, there is value in the consistency of overall production, as WAR grades out baserunning for position players, as well, which is why Trout and Braun have so much more value as the No.1 or No.2 pick than Cabrera.
WAR is valuable in fantasy preparation, and while it can be inconsistent, the same can be said for batting average, ERA, WHIP, wins, and any other statistic used in compiling player values.
The bigger challenge is how WAR can become an asset as a part of your fantasy league, and not just a method for determining the value of players over the course of the season.
- What If Mike Trout Stumbles? (thebaseballhaven.mlblogs.com)
- Why Mike Trout won’t regress in 2013 (espn.go.com)
- Posnanski on HBT: Revisiting Trout vs. Cabrera (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: Vital Tips to Drafting a Championship Team (bleacherreport.com)
Baseball nerds are looking at all kinds of statistics that weren’t listed on the back of a baseball card when we were growing up. With the newer FIP, BABIP, and WAR statistics that have become a part of analysis of player abilities, it seems to be easier to project rebound candidates, potential breakouts, or potential flops based on these newer, sabermetric-based statistics. After looking at pitchers, lets take at look at some hitters:
BABIP Winners and Losers for 2013
Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) is an interesting statistic. FanGraphs.com has some really useful information on BABIP in their glossary and Tristan H. Cockcroft (awesome name, bro) had an interesting piece on how to use BABIP when putting your fantasy team together. Both discuss variables in how the statistic can be flawed, as Fangraphs focused on defense, luck, and talent level, while Cockcroft focused on “raw hitting skills, raw pitching skills, type of contact, and quality of contact.”
Regardless of those variables, the fact remains that, as Cockcroft says, the league average in 2012 was .297, while Fangraphs goes further, stating:
The average BABIP for hitters is around .290 to .310. If you see any player that deviates from this average to an extreme, they’re likely due for regression.
However, hitters can influence their BABIPs to some extent. For example, speedy hitters typically have high career BABIP rates (like Ichiro and his .357 career BABIP), so don’t expect all players to regress to league average.
For the purpose of this piece, however, the extreme deviations from normal are taken into consideration.
Hitters to Target
Ike Davis, 1B, New York Mets: If you search this site, you’ll see that I have a bit of a man crush on Davis. In 2012, Davis managed to hit .227/3.08/.462 with 32 home runs and 90 RBI, all while posting a BABIP of just .246. The .271/.369/.460 line, 26 home runs, and 41 doubles over his first 750 plate appearances shows that Davis is quite capable of becoming an offensive force. The regression in batting average can be related to the Valley Fever that sapped his energy in spring training of last season, but with an increase in BABIP, Davis could become a .270 hitter with 35-40 home runs, even while playing half of his games at Citi Field for the Mets. Davis will turn 26 in late March and is well on his way to a huge rebound or breakout in 2013.
Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals: Sophomore slump…yeah right. Hosmer hit .232/.304/.359 with 14 home runs in 2012, while posting a .255 BABIP. He increased his walk rate from 6 percent in his rookies season to 9.4 percent last year, while maintaining a line drive percent (18.7 percent in 2011, 18.5 percent in 2012). It just seems like the ground ball percentage, which jumped from 49.7 to 53.6 percent, played a role in his huge decrease in BABIP, which was at .314 in 2011. Hosmer will play the entire 2013 season at the age of 23. With great plate discipline and tremendous athleticism, he is a tremendous name to grab in hopes of a potential All-Star campaign. His early spring results (.391/.462/.696) could be an indication of such a breakout, as Hosmer heads off to take Mark Teixiera’s place on Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Jemile Weeks, 2B, Oakland Athletics: Weeks is an interesting player, having thrived in 2011, much like Hosmer, posting a .303/.340/.421 line, before crashing to a .221/.305/.304 line last season. Weeks has tremendous speed, but he has been thrown out stealing 16 times in 54 attempts, a 70 percent success rate, which has been about the norm throughout his career, as he was 41 for 55 (74 percent) in the minors. Weeks had nine infield hits in 2011 but just eight in 2012 in 74 more plate appearances, while his BABIP fell from .350 in 2011 to .256 last season. With a drastic increase in his walk rate (from 4.8 percent in 2011 to 9.8 percent in 2012) and the potential for a rebound in his BABIP to even .290, Weeks would see a solid increase in overall production. However, the Athletics have reloaded their roster, trading for Jed Lowrie, signing Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, while welcoming back Scott Sizemore from injury. With so many options, Weeks needs to start quickly. If he can find a way to use the speed that he has with the ability to utilize slap the ball all over the field, as he did in 2011, Weeks will be valuable to the A’s and fantasy baseball owners.
Justin Smoak, 1B, Seattle Mariners: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but…this is the year that Justin Smoak breaks out!!! Smoak may be one of the most unlucky hitters in baseball, as his career BABIP is just .256. A career line of .223/.306/.377 in 1,421 plate appearances could say that Smoak is what he is…bad. However, over the last month of the season, Smoak hit .341/.426/.580 with five home runs, 11 RBI, and a 13:13 K:BB in 101 plate appearances. This spring, Smoak is hitting .500/.556/1.000 with two home runs in his first 16 at-bats. After posting another low BABIP in 2012, .242, while seeing his walk and strikeout rates hold to around his career norms. Smoak needs to stay hot after the Mariners added Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez, and Kendrys Morales to the club this winter, each of whom could slide into a DH/1B/LF role, which would limit Smoak’s playing time.
Hitters to Avoid
Dexter Fowler, OF, Colorado Rockies: Fowler turns 27 in late March, the magic number for a prime breakout. In 2012, Fowler posted an absurd .390 BABIP, while compiling a .300/.389/.474 line, 18 doubles, 11 triples, 13 home runs, and 12 stolen bases, the definition of a box score filler. He has always had solid plate discipline, as his 12.8 percent walk rate and .364 career on-base percentage show, so is he for real? Maybe this is just who he is, as he posted a .351 BABIP in 2009, .328 in 2010, and .354 in 2011 before the jump to .390 last season; however, .390 is so unrealistic and “lucky”, isn’t it? Even if Fowler manages to maintain his career .353 BABIP, he’ll see a slight decline in his overall numbers. I’m a big fan of Fowler’s, but expecting him to duplicate his BABIP is unreasonable, though he could add enough power with his on-base skills to be very useful for the Rockies and fantasy geeks alike.
Austin Jackson, OF, Detroit Tigers: Jackson is the poster boy for inflated BABIP and what they can do with inflation and deflation. Check out these statistics:
|162 Game Avg.||644||109||180||31||11||11||56||22||62||178||.280||.346||.416||.761|
In 2010, Jackson’s BABIP was: .396
In 2011, Jackson’s BABIP was: .340
In 2012, Jackson’s BABIP was .371
While Jackson has a career BABIP of .370, if he reverts to his undisciplined, free swinging ways of 2010 and 2011 (when he had strikeout rates of 25.2 and 27.1 percent), he could see a large decline in his overall numbers, similar to the drop-off in 2011. However, with his gains in power (career-high 16 home runs) and his walk rate (10.8 percent), he, too, will still have some value, especially hitting in front of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera.
Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants: Posey was the NL MVP, and with good reason, posting a .336/.408/.549 line in 2012. The only issue could be that batting average, which could have seen a huge bump from Posey’s .368 BABIP. Previously, he had posted BABIPs of .315 in 2010 and .326 in 2011. While Posey does have some speed, will he be a catcher capable of 17 infield hits every season? While he is a very special talent, Posey may not repeat his incredible 2012 totals, especially if Brandon Belt solidifies himself as an everyday first baseman. Will they sit Belt if he is having a breakout season so that Posey can take a day off behind the plate? Posey is still the top catcher available in fantasy leagues and the top offensive catcher in baseball, with the ability to post numbers that only Matt Wieters, Salvador Perez, or Carlos Santana seem capable of reaching, but can he continue to post an extremely high BABIP going forward? For that reason alone, be cautious in putting too much stock into the superstar catcher.
The San Francisco Giants won the NL West, won three straight games in Cincinnati in the NLDS to stave off elimination, then won three in a row to stave off elimination against St. Louis in the NLCS, before having an easy go of things while sweeping the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series. The Giants rode the wave of an amazing fan base (over 3.3 million at AT&T Park in 2012) and even more amazing pitching, developing a group of talented arms to lift them to their second championship in three seasons.
Looking ahead to 2013, the Giants have a few players that they may be concerned about as they reach free agency. Marco Scutaro, Angel Pagan, and Jeremy Affeldt played important roles in the playoffs, while Melky Cabrera (prior to his 50-game suspension) was a superstar and Ryan Theriot provided depth for the middle infield throughout the regular season.
Should the Giants bring back Cabrera, trusting that he can be an All-Star without synthetic testosterone, or should they count on the core that brought the team a title, re-signing Pagan and counting on Gregor Blanco in left in 2013? With Freddy Sanchez and his brittle body reaching free agency, can the Giants afford to let Scutaro, who hit .362/.385/.473 in 61 games with San Francisco, leave town?
While the champions have questions at second base and the outfield, they don’t have many elsewhere on the diamond. Hunter Pence struggled to a .219/.287/.384 line once he was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies, but he is under team control for one more season, he is a solid regular in right field, and his useful right-handed bat will complement the order, allowing Bruce Bochy to have a switch-hitting Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, Pence, and left-handed hitting Brandon Belt in the middle of the order. Belt finally has trust from Bochy, as well, taking over the first base job exclusively from Aubrey Huff and hitting .329/.401/.494 over the final two months of the season. Brandon Crawford showed that his slick glove can overcome his career .235/.299/.333 triple-slash, showcasing his powerful throwing arm and range for a national audience during the playoffs.
Beyond the everyday players, the Giants are absolutely loaded with pitching. Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito, and Tim Lincecum are all signed for next season. Some have wondered what Lincecum’s role will be, especially after he thrived out of the bullpen in October, but he’ll probably get a shot at the rotation before they pay him $22 million to be a relief pitcher in 2013. Speaking of money…Cain, Zito, and Lincecum combine to earn $62 million in 2013, while Vogelsong’s $5 million and Bumgarner’s $750,000 salaries are clearly bargains.
The bullpen is interesting, as well. Brian Wilson (aka “The Beard) is arbitration-eligible, so could he be non-tendered since Sergio Romo showed that he was capable of dominating as a closer in the playoffs and throughout the season? With Santiago Casilla as insurance in the closer role, it could be possible. Affeldt teamed with Javier Lopez as a dominating left-handed duo. If Affeldt is not re-signed, Jose Mijares, who posted a 2.56 ERA over 78 appearances (27 with the Giants), may see a bump in usage.
The San Francisco Giants are set up to be contenders again in 2013. While the team has a need in center or left field, depending on whether they try to re-sign Melky Cabrera or Angel Pagan, their most glaring hole will be the leadership and skills that second baseman Marco Scutaro brought to the club after being acquired from the Colorado Rockies. With a strong pitching staff from top to bottom, and a solid core of offensive talent, led by Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, and Hunter Pence, the Giants can and will continue to get by with very little offensive help from their other pieces. It is all because their rotation can be so dominant, as evidenced by their 71-49 record and 3.73 ERA in 2012.
Look for the Giants to find a way to keep both Scutaro and Pagan, their No.1 and No.2 hitters, and do very little else on the free agent market to keep the core of this talented group together. They really can’t afford to do much else due to the contracts to Zito and Lincecum, but selling out AT&T Park and the revenue that comes along with 3.3 million fans and a title could lead to a surprise signing.
Buster Posey had an MVP-type season in 2012, as I even picked him as the NL MVP for my own 2012 MLB Awards. Posey posted a .336/.408/.549 line, winning his first batting title, leading the majors in OPS+, and, obviously, leading the San Francisco Giants to the 2012 World Series.
Posey played shortstop at Florida State in his Freshman year, 2006, before moving to catcher in his Sophomore season, when he was a finalist for the 2007 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award, given to the top Division I catcher in college baseball. Not a bad start, and the fact that Posey gunned down 40.9 percent of potential base stealers in his first season behind the dish showed his defensive potential.
Posey was drafted by the Giants with the 5th overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft. He was up for good by 2010, having compiled 750 at-bats in the minors, helping the Giants win the World Series and winning the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year.
When Scott Cousins ripped up Posey’s ankle sliding into home plate on May 25, 2011, Posey would go on to miss the next 114 games and the Giants missed the playoffs. They won the World Series in 2010 and they are back there in 2012. Coincidence?
Buster Posey is fully aware of the injuries that can occur when catching, having lived through his disaster in 2011. It isn’t limited to the leg injury, though, as a collision could lead to a concussion, which could then lead to post-concussion syndromes whenever a foul ball rocks Posey’s hockey goalie-style mask. Look at Justin Morneau‘s spiraling career to see how quickly concussions can ruin everything you have worked for.
Buster Posey is a fantastic catcher. His career fielding percentage is .992, which is league average since he arrived in the bigs, but his range factor is above-average at catcher. He has thrown out 33 percent of would-be base stealers in his career (the league average in 27), while mashing to the tune of a .307/.374/.494 triple slash in 877 at-bats and 235 games as a catcher. Posey has 46 doubles, two triples, 38 home runs, and 152 RBI as a catcher.
Posey is a work in progress at first baseman. However, Posey has hit .355/.415/.571 in 217 at-bats and 61 games when playing first base. He has 21 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, and 37 RBI when playing first.
Buster Posey is an excellent catcher and he can handle the position, but can the Giants afford life without him? Should they protect their star player and the face of the Giants’ franchise by moving him now?
The 2011 season shows what the Giants are without Buster Posey. The injury to Posey could, eventually, lead to arthritis in his left knee and ankle due to the breaking of bones and the tear of ligaments.
Hector Sanchez is ready to play regularly. He turns 23 years old on November 17 and he is a switch-hitter. Sanchez jumped from High-A to Triple-A in 2011, receiving 31 at-bats in San Francisco that year. However, Sanchez isn’t going to develop into the hitter that he could be, the same one who hit 12 home runs and drove in 84 runs in the 2011 minor league season, if he doesn’t get regular playing time.
Buster Posey doesn’t need to move off of catcher to make room for Hector Sanchez. Buster Posey needs to move off of catcher to produce even bigger numbers, to win more MVP awards, and to continue to make the Giants World Series contenders for the next several seasons.
Posey could even play catcher sporadically, as Victor Martinez did in 2011 with Alex Avila taking over the regular catching duties in Detroit. You could even make the argument that Posey is better off in the outfield than first base, due to the presence of Brandon Belt, who plays a Gold Glove level defense at first, and the athletic ability that Posey possesses.
Whatever happens, Posey is a superstar and he needs to stay on the field for the San Francisco Giants to be legitimate World Series contenders. Moving him off of catcher is a choice that could keep him on the field, prolong his career, and continue to allow the Giants to reap the benefits of having Posey in their lineup for more games, which allows him to impact the whole 162-game season.
With the Giants Game 7 win on Monday night in San Francisco, the world prepares for its series, with Game 1 on Wednesday night at AT&T Park. The Giants get home-field advantage with that awesome Bud Selig, All-Star Game idea, as the National League won the mid-summer classic in July.
Some things to look forward to:
The Tigers’ starting pitchers are 5-1 with a 1.02 ERA in nine postseason games, covering 62 innings, while posting a 66:19 K:BB. That stat includes the absolute domination of the New York Yankees in the ALCS, where Tigers’ starters were 3-0 with a 0.66 ERA. The Tigers have the luxury of setting up their rotation for Game 1, which would allow them to start Justin Verlander in Game 1, 4, and 7; however, Jim Leyland has penciled in a four-man rotation in the World Series, with Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez, and Max Scherzer slated to toe the rubber for the Tigers.
The Giants taking the St. Louis Cardinals to seven games and losing Matt Cain is sort of devastating for the outlook on the series. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy could surprise people with what he does, especially after moving Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum around from the rotation to the bullpen already within this postseason. If Bochy keeps his NLCS roster, the Giants could start Tim Lincecum in Game 1, followed by Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong, and Cain in Game 4. Due to Lincecum’s struggles in Game 4 of the NLCS, could the “rest” that Bumgarner received allow him to jump back into the rotation, after Bochy said he was “tired” after his Game 1 loss to the Cardinals?
However the Giants rotation shapes up, the spacious ballparks involved in this series will allow for success from the least likely of candidates. The power that lies in the arms of the Tigers’ starting pitchers could make for some high strikeout totals, while the blend of power and finesse in the Giants rotation could lead to some very low scoring games.
Power in the throwing arms is evident but the greatest asset that the Tigers possess are the two bats in the middle of their order, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. Those two are capable of changing the game with one swing, and while the Giants have power in the bats of Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, and Buster Posey, they aren’t nearly as productive, historically and recently, as the portly sluggers on the Tigers.
While Comerica Park and AT&T Park can sap the power in both lineups, both teams have enough on-base and speed guys (see Austin Jackson and Marco Scutaro) to manufacture runs. However, one swing of the bat can change everything, just ask Cincinnati fans, who saw the grand slam by Posey in Game 5 of the NLDS destroy their lives. While the advantage lies with Fielder and Cabrera, the Giants, so long thought to be ineffective offensively, have enough to win this series.
There is nothing better than postseason baseball. Watching the fans in San Francisco the last two nights is what makes baseball special. While they were there for all of the 81 home games in the 2012 regular season, the fire and excitement over the last two nights fueled the Giants to an amazing comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the NLCS.
The Tigers are showing the passion of a city in the middle of a rebirth. While there were times of weakness, the strengths of Detroit came out to conquer those moments, establishing the franchise as a legitimate juggernaut, just as Detroit has done with the rebound of the American car manufacturing companies.
The pitching is going to make the “normal baseball fan” bored, but this series is exactly what the die-hard fans enjoy. The team that makes the first mistake in each game will lose, and the scores will look lower than a Tiger Woods scorecard before his man-whorishness was made public.
What to Expect:
The Giants will enjoy their home-field advantage in Game 1, continuing the momentum that drove them to a tremendous comeback over the Tigers, but due to the opening game loss, Jim Leyland will run Justin Verlander out for Game 4 and again in Game 7, which the Tigers will win with another Verlander shutout. Max Scherzer becomes the Tigers’ version of Trevor Rosenthal, making several appearances but totally shutting down the opposition.
The Second Annual Baseball Haven “I’m Always Right Before the Media Figures It Out” Awards are officially ready, just one day after the season. These guys may not win the awards below, but they certainly SHOULD.
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers
.330/.393/.606, 109 R, 40 2B, 44 HR, 139 RBI, 4 SB
Cabrera gets the award because he won the first Triple Crown in MLB since Carl Yastrzemski won it in 1967, AND because he carried the Tigers into the postseason in September and early October, blasting 11 home runs, driving in 30 runs and posting a 1.071 OPS in 31 games. He moved to a position, third base, to accommodate the acquisition of Prince Fielder. No one ever said that he would make a difference there defensively, but his .966 fielding percentage was still better than the league average for third baseman, .952. Sure, his WAR was lower than Mike Trout, but Mike Trout is at home and Cabrera proved his worth in 2012.
NL MVP: Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants
.336/.408/.549, 78 R, 39 2B, 1 3B, 24 HR, 103 RBI, 1 SB
Posey led MLB in batting average and OPS+, handling catching duties and occasionally playing first base to give his reconfigured knee together after a devastating injury in 2011. Posey’s absence from the Giants 2011 season may have had a lot to do with their inability to make the playoffs after winning the 2010 World Series over the Texas Rangers. Posey’s transformation from a collegiate shortstop to a top-level offensive catcher has gone about as smoothly as anyone could have anticipated. Even while playing in an extreme pitcher’s park, AT&T Park, Posey is one of the most dangerous hitters in the game.
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit Tigers
17-8, 2.64 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 238.1 IP, 239:60 K:BB
Verlander’s statistics in 2012 were not as impressive as his totals in 2011, but that doesn’t make him any less impressive. Verlander was the lone consistent starter for most of the 2012 season for the AL Central champion Tigers, and he scored a relationship with Kate Upton on top of that. The man is just a winner. The filth that he possesses rivals only Larry Flynt.
NL Cy Young: Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds
19-9, 2.78 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 217 IP, 170:49 K:BB
He pitches in an awful park for pitchers, he is on one of the best teams in the National League, and he has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last two seasons, so Cueto deserves this award. While he doesn’t pitch in a major market and he did have a few stretches where he seemed to “lose it”, Cueto finally tossed over 200 innings, and, after suffering through a rough spot, he dominated late in the season. If you put the ballpark factor into play here, Cueto would garner many more votes. He should win, but it is unlikely thanks to the New York bias and the cool story that comes along with R.A. Dickey.
AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics and Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles
Who says you can’t share an award? These two managers deserve some sort of plaque and a key from their respective city’s mayors for the work that they did this season. With the high spending Angels and Rangers out west for the A’s and the Red Sox and Yankees in the east with the O’s, the teams found creative ways to maintain a solid group of players on their rosters through trading and drafting well over the last several seasons. As both teams head into the ALDS, thanks to Friday’s victory over Texas for Baltimore, this could only be the beginning for one of these teams.
Honorable Mention:Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays; Robin Ventura, Chicago White Sox;
NL Manager of the Year: Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants
With his All-Star outfielder banned 50-games for a positive drug test, his one-time ace, Tim Lincecum, posting a 5.18 ERA over 33 starts, and injuries to Pablo Sandoval throughout the season, Bochy managed to lead the Giants over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. While you can question him for his lack of faith in Brandon Belt during most of the season, he seemed to make the right decision more often than not with his club.
Honorable Mention:Dusty Baker, Cincinnati Reds; Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals; Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates; Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals;
AL Rookie of the Year: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
.326/.399/.564, 129 R, 27 2B, 8 3B, 30 HR, 83 RBI, 49 SB
A WAR of 10.7 in his rookie season, which led the league, shows just how special Trout is going to continue to be. Having just turned 21 years old in early August, the future is as bright as a supernova, as Trout’s power, speed, on-base skills, and fielding ability will continue to make him a perennial MVP candidate. You can certainly argue that he should win the award this season over Miguel Cabrera, but due to the Tigers landing in the playoffs and the first Triple Crown in 45 years, it has to go with the Tigers chubby third baseman.
NL Rookie of the Year: Todd Frazier, INF/OF, Cincinnati Reds
Frazier was a monster while the Cincinnati Reds went two months without their best player, Joey Votto. He finished the 2012 season with an .829 OPS was second to Colorado catcher Wilin Rosario amongst NL rookies…I see you thought I was going to say Bryce Harper there, but he posted an .817 OPS. While Harper energized his club upon his callup and had one of the best quotes of the year (“That’s a clown question, bro), it was Frazier’s bat and versatility that helped the Cincinnati Reds win the NL Central.
Comeback Player of the Year: Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres
2011: .289/.374/.399, 43 R, 28 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 44 RBI, 13 SB
2012: .286/.376/.498, 95 R, 31 2B, 2 3B, 31 HR, 115 RBI, 17 SB
Petco can put bats to sleep like the vets that work out of the back of actual Petco stores can do to your pet; however, Headley was one of the few bright spots for the rebuilding San Diego Padres, delivering MVP-like numbers for the Friars. At the age of 28 and with two years of arbitration eligibility, you have to wonder if the Padres are going to trade him this offseason for more prospects, especially after his surprising season and how often Headley’s name came up at the trade deadline.
Honorable Mention: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees;
Here are some guys who have been playing extremely well since the All-Star break:
Buster Posey, C, Giants
.443/.485/.705, 7 2B, 3 HR, 18 RBI in 61 AB
David Freese, 3B, Cardinals
.468/.583/.702, 5 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI in 47 AB
Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Athletics
.423/.461/.718, 4 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 2 SB in 71 AB
Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates
.424/.513/.667, 4 2B, 4 HR, 6 RBI in 66 AB
Mike Trout, OF, Angels
.394/.463/.775, 5 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 5 SB in 71 AB
Josh Rutledge, SS, Rockies
.381/.394/.683, 6 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 3 SB in 63 AB
Josh Willingham, OF, Twins
.300/.402/.657, 1 2B, 8 HR, 19 RBI in 70 AB
Ryan Ludwick, OF, Reds
.321/.387/.768, 5 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 18 RBI in 56 AB
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals
.384/.444/.753, 6 2B, 7 HR, 15 RBI in 73 AB
Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Reds
12 G, 11 SV, 11.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 5 H, 24:2 K:BB
David Price, LHP, Rays
3-0 in 4 starts, 1.91 ERA, 28.1 IP, 36:8 K:BB
Jason Vargas, LHP, Mariners
4-0 in 4 starts, 2.00 ERA, 27 IP, 14:10 K:BB
Ben Sheets, RHP, Braves
3-0 in 3 starts, 0.50 ERA, 18 IP, 15:5 K:BB
I’ll be compiling lists of the top players at each position for 2012 Fantasy Baseball in the coming weeks. Overall rankings will consist of their value in a points format, earning points for each H, R, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, basically a formula of Total Bases + RBI + Runs = Total Value. I’ll begin with catchers. You’ll see their stats for 2011 below their names with 2012 Projections in ITALICS
1. Mike Napoli, Texas
.320/.414/.631, 25 2B, 30 HR, 75 RBI, 85/58 K/BB in 369 AB
.295/.389/.560, 30 2B, 27 HR, 81 RBI, 101/68 K/BB in 446 AB
Napoli has always had power but he sat so often for the AMAZING Jeff Mathis on the Angels that he never got a chance to truly breakout. He finally got a chance and became a near-MVP talent in Texas in 2011. He may not repeat the AVG, but the power is real, especially in that lineup and ballpark.
2. Carlos Santana, Cleveland
.239/.351/.457, 35 2B, 27 HR, 79 RBI, 133/97 K/BB in 552 AB
.279/.401/.531, 31 2B, 33 HR, 91 RBI, 123/101 K/BB in 549 AB
I may be higher on Santana than most, but he’ll make more contact in 2012 and he posted these numbers in his first full season. The sky is the limit and the value in Santana is that he plays 1B and DH when he isn’t behind the plate.
3. Alex Avila, Detroit
.295/.389/.506, 33 2B, 19 HR, 82 RBI, 131/73 K/BB in 464 AB
.286/.391/.511, 35 2B, 21 HR, 86 RBI, 124/76 K/BB in 471 AB
4. Yadier Molina, St. Louis
.305/.349/.465, 32 2B, 16 HR, 65 RBI, 44/33 K/BB in 475 AB
.301/.342/.437, 29 2B, 14 HR, 63 RBI, 46/36 K/BB in 461 AB
5. Buster Posey, San Francisco
.311/.374/.521, 31 2B, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 83/65 K/BB in 476 AB
We all know about his injury last year, but reports show he is ready. His 2010 stats were: .305/.357/.505, 23 2B, 18 HR, 67 RBI, 55/30 K/BB in 406 AB. Expect the same, maybe more.
6. Miguel Montero, Arizona
.282/.351/.469, 36 2B, 18 HR, 86 RBI, 97/47 K/BB in 493 AB
.276/.349/.471, 33 2B, 20 HR, 84 RBI, 101/56 K/BB in 489 AB
7. Brian McCann, Atlanta
.270/.351/466, 19 2B, 24 HR, 71 RBI, 89/57 K/BB in 466 AB
.281/.363/.485, 21 2B, 22 HR, 79 RBI, 81/71 K/BB in 483 AB
8. Matt Wieters, Baltimore
.262/.328/.450, 28 2B, 22 HR, 68 RBI, 84/48 K/BB in 500 AB
.276/.339/.490, 29 2B, 27 HR, 84 RBI, 97/61 K/BB in 506 AB
9. Joe Mauer, Minnesota
.287/.360/.368, 15 2B, 3 HR, 30 RBI, 38/32 K/BB in 296 AB
.313/.394/.411, 31 2B, 8 HR, 71 RBI, 79/76 K/BB in 496 AB
It’s well documented about Mauer’s knee issues last season. I can see him taking a Carlos Santana/Victor Martinez approach to stay in the lineup. He won’t ever come close to his 2009 power outburst, but he can have value due to the ability to drive the ball in the gaps of Target Field.
10. Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati
.180/.226/.360, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 10/3 K/BB in 50 AB
.265/.329/.449, 18 2B, 14 HR, 59 RBI, 72/21 K/BB in 374 AB
Mesoraco will be a top catcher once he isn’t sharing the position. He’s capable of hitting 15 homers in about 350 AB, and will settle into the Cincinnati lineup near Votto and Bruce to see plenty of good pitches. He’s someone to watch in Keeper Leagues, but he’ll have value right away.
11. Geovany Soto, Chicago (N.L.)
.228/.310/.411, 26 2B, 17 HR, 54 RBI, 124/45 K/BB in 421 AB
.268/.335/.445, 28 2B, 23 HR, 73 RBI, 147/56 K/BB in 447 AB
Shoulder woes have sapped Soto’s value and possibly led to some offensive struggles, particularly with strikeouts, in 2011. He may become a trade chip for the rebuilding Cubs in 2012, but he needs to build his value and show that he is healthy. He can still hit, but can he do it consistently?
12. Jonathan LuCroy, Milwaukee
.265/.313/.391, 16 2B, 12 HR, 59 RBI, 99/29 K/BB in 430 AB
.269/.318/.401, 21 2B, 13 HR, 54 RBI, 112/41 K/BB in 456 AB
13. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston
.235/.288/.450, 23 2B, 16 HR, 56 RBI, 119/24 K/BB in 358 AB
.251/.301/.450, 27 2B, 19 HR, 62 RBI, 126/38 K/BB in 438 AB
It wasn’t always pretty last year for “Salty,” but he shows enough power and plays in the right lineup, so he has value. He has always been huge and awkward behind the plate, but the Red Sox only have Ryan Lavarnway ready, and he isn’t ready defensively, and may never be ready defensively, to steal time from him.
14. J.P. Arencibia, Toronto
.219/.282/.438, 20 2B, 23 HR, 78 RBI, 133/36 K/BB in 443 AB
.231/.313/.479, 25 2B, 24 HR, 83 RBI, 145/31 K/BB in 471 AB
Arencibia doesn’t have a whole lot of time to hold down this job. If he doesn’t show that he can make consistent contact in 2012, he may lose time to Travis d’Arnaud really soon. Even being young, he may find himself as trade bait or moved off of the position. We’ll see if that is enough motivation for him.
15. Russell Martin, New York (A.L.)
.237/.324/.408, 17 2B, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 81/50 K/BB in 417 AB
.249/.337/.415, 19 2B, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 80/61 K/BB in 443 AB
16. Wilson Ramos, Washington
.267/.334/.445, 22 2B, 15 HR, 52 RBI, 76/38 K/BB in 389 AB
.271/.339/.456, 24 2B, 19 HR, 68 RBI, 91/49 K/BB in 467 AB
17. Chris Ianetta, Los Angeles (A.L.)
.238/.370/.414, 17 2B, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 89/70 K/BB in 345 AB
.242/.359/.408, 19 2B, 12 HR, 57 RBI, 91/76 K/BB in 453 AB
18. Kurt Suzuki, Oakland
.237/.301/.385, 26 2B, 14 HR, 44 RBI, 64/38 K/BB in 460 AB
.229/.291/.376, 21 2B, 10 HR, 38 RBI, 71/31 K/BB in 398 AB
19. Miguel Olivo, Seattle
.224/.253/.388, 19 2B, 19 HR, 62 RBI, 140/20 K/BB in 477 AB
.212/.239/.371, 17 2B, 12 HR, 39 RBI, 131/16 K/BB in 348 AB
20. John Buck, Miami
.227/.316/.367, 16 2B, 15 HR, 57 RBI, 115/54 K/BB in 466 AB
.234/.327/.381, 18 2B, 16 HR, 54 RBI, 111/58 K/BB in 439 AB
KEEPER LEAGUE PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Travis d’Arnaud – TOR
Wilin Rosario – COL
Jesus Monter0 – SEA: He’d be a top 10 talent “IF” he gets Catcher Eligibility
Yasmani Grandal – SD
Christian Bethancourt – ATL
Sebastian Valle – PHI
Gary Sanchez - NY (A.L.)
Derek Norris – OAK
Andrew Susac – SF
After winning the World Series in 2010, the Giants finished 86-76, good for 2nd in the NL West. The team was still made up of veterans, but they did see a couple of new faces, like SS Brandon Crawford and 1B/LF Brandon Belt. The Giants are in an interesting period in the coming seasons. They are working on locking up Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, while still trying to develop some offensive talent. They have drafted well in recent seasons and they’ll be getting Buster Posey back in 2012, they still have some incredible pitching, but do they have what it takes to get back to the top? The current 25-man roster:
2 Catchers: Buster Posey and Eli Whiteside
1B: Aubrey Huff
2B: Freddy Sanchez
3B: Pablo Sandoval
SS: Brandon Crawford
LF: Melky Cabrera
CF: Angel Pagan
RF: Nate Schierholtz
Bench: Mike Fontenot (INF), Emmanuel Burriss (INF), Justin Christian (OF) and Brett Pill (1B)
Starting Pitching: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito
Relief Pitching: Brian Wilson, Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Dan Runzler and Steve Edlefsen
The Giants have an interesting roster. They could do better at short than Crawford and still may. If they’re looking to upgrade there, good luck. They’re better off hoping that Crawford’s glove makes up for his lack of hitting skills until Joe Panik, a college bat who could move quickly, is ready. What would have been better? Putting Nate Schierholtz and Angel Pagan on the pine, moving Aubrey Huff to RF, Brandon Belt to LF, and signing Prince Fielder to make some splashes in the bay. This team has been in desperate need of a bat since Barry Bonds took his gigantic head home, not by choice, of course. Honestly, I know they had good pitching, but how in THE HELL did the Giants beat the Rangers 4-1 in the 2010 World Series? Pablo Sandoval could become the bat that the Giants need. He’ll be 25 in 2012 and he hit 23 homers, even after breaking his wrist in 2011, in just 117 games. He should approach 30 and become one of the few solid 3B in baseball in 2012. The Giants would be the favorites in the NL if they got Prince Fielder, though. I know I had Fielder going to the Cubs and I know that he is talking to the Nationals, but they could probably afford him and one of their aces, Cain or Lincecum.
I know that having a great 1-2 punch in Lincecum and Cain is fantastic, but Bumgarner is going to be capable of becoming that 2nd ace in the next couple of years and Eric Surkamp is ready to slide into the rotation. The Giants have had great pitching for years. The home ballpark has helped, even Ryan Vogelsong rejuvenated his career last year. The rotation is loaded still. They should be unbeatable in the playoffs with Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner in 2012, so why not go for it…if that’s what it’s all about.
If the Giants made a huge splash and signed Fielder and moved their lot of first baseman to the outfield, they’d become a little less effective defensively, but they’d still have their pitching and now they have an offense. Buster Posey is a star, Sandoval is a star, Belt could be a star, Melky Cabrera is not a star but he’ll do in center, and Aubrey Huff is only good in years ending in an even number. Look it up. I wouldn’t lie to you. What do you think of a 25-man roster with a little more depth?
2 Catchers: Buster Posey and Eli Whiteside
1B: Prince Fielder
2B: Freddy Sanchez
3B: Pablo Sandoval
SS: Brandon Crawford
LF: Brandon Belt
CF: Melky Cabrera
RF: Aubrey Huff
Bench: Nate Schierholtz (OF), Angel Pagan (OF), Emmanuel Burriss (INF), Mike Fontenot (INF)
Starting Pitching: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito
Relief Pitching: Brian Wilson, Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Dan Runzler and Steve Edlefsen