Results tagged ‘ Ryan Braun ’
Joey Votto is one of the top players in all of baseball. The 2010 NL MVP was rewarded for his skills last spring when the Reds gave him a 10-year, $225 million extension, which could keep the Canadian-born first baseman in the Queen City through the 2024 season.
Since the start of the 2008 season, his first as a regular, Votto has posted a 27.7 WAR, 6th in MLB (Albert Pujols, Evan Longoria, Chase Utley, Miguel Cabrera, and Ryan Braun rank higher), and a .419 on-base percentage, 1st in MLB. He has been very productive, driving in 444 runs, but when you consider how often Votto is on base and his WAR value, you would think that he would produce more runs, as those 444 RBI rank 23rd since the start of the 2008 season.
Certainly part of the reason why Votto ranks lower in RBI is due to his extended absences, as he has missed 106 team games since the 2008 season due to general illnesses, depression, and surgery on his left knee, which cost him 51 games in 2012; however, what if he swung more?
So far in the 2013 season, Votto has a .500 OBP, inflated by his 30 percent walk rate, and his .264 batting average seems likely to rebound due to his .351 BABIP, which is in line with his career .359 BABIP. His hitting ability was outlined in a recent ESPN the Magazine feature, when Votto said:
I’ve stopped caring about runs and RBIs. I care more about how high a percentage of productive at-bats I can have, how consistently tough and competitive I can be for the opposing pitcher. That’s my goal every single time I go up there. If I drive in 90 runs, I don’t care. I know a lot of old-school people wouldn’t believe I’d say something like that.
The apparent way to be more productive is to not swing. Votto currently has a 32.1 percent swing rate (career 44.9 percent), while posting a 14.4 percent swing rate on pitches outside of the strike-zone (career 25.2 percent), and a 57.9 percent swing rate on pitches inside of the strike-zone (career 70.2 percent). Only Lucas Duda has a lower swing rate in 2013, at 29.9 percent, but Duda’s career swing rate has always been low, as he sports a career 40.9 percent swing rate.
How can you produce if you don’t swing the bat? Sure, Votto is getting on base, but he has scored just 11 runs in his 40 appearances on the base paths (14 hits, 24 walks, 2 hit-by-pitch), largely due to the ineffectiveness of Jay Bruce (who has struck out 10 times in 31 at-bats with runners on base this season), while driving in FOUR runs in 80 plate appearances. Luckily, Brandon Phillips, who took over the cleanup spot after Ryan Ludwick‘s shoulder injury, has done a fantastic job, posting a .405/.452/.649 line with 17 RBI in 37 at-bats with runners on base. With Shin-Soo Choo and Votto in front of him, it is likely that Phillips will continue to produce some impressive counting statistics in 2013, but why shouldn’t Votto?
A productive at-bat is when a ball is put in play and moves other runners. Sure, you’re Little League coach and Moneyball says that a walk is as good as a hit, but what if Phillips falters in the No.4 spot? What if Jay Bruce continues to strikeout with runners on? What if Todd Frazier, who is currently the 4th most valuable position player in baseball (based on WAR) goes through a drought?
The Cincinnati Reds need Joey Votto to swing the bat because he is such a special player. Getting on base has value, but when you are as capable with the bat as Votto is, there is more value in the contact that he does, or can, produce. After all, Votto has struck out 16 times, tied for 8th most in MLB, while he is waiting for his pitch.
Is Joey Votto the best pure hitter in baseball right now? Possibly, but striking out in 20 percent of your at-bats doesn’t seem like a reasonable statistic for a hitter, possibly a slugger. It is time for Votto to become a slugger again not only for fantasy baseball players, but because the Reds would be much more impressive and capable of winning more often if he was the 37-home-run-of- 2010-version of Votto than the one-home-run-in-80-plate-appearances-2013-version of Votto.
- Joey Votto is not struggling (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Joey Votto appears as cartoon (wcpo.com)
- Reds’ Joey Votto named ‘Face of MLB’ (wcpo.com)
- Votto is still productive despite slow start (mlb.mlb.com)
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)
While I’ve already posted a top 10 fantasy baseball player at each position piece, I figured with drafts getting underway, that a more thorough ranking would be valuable. Here are the top 250 players in fantasy baseball for the 2013 season. (5X5 leagues, All MLB)
- Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers
- Mike Trout, OF, Angels
- Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Tigers,
- Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers
- Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates
- Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees
- Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Rockies
- Prince Fielder, 1B, Tigers
- Joey Votto, 1B, Reds
- Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels
- Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies
- Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers
- Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers
- Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins
- Josh Hamilton, OF, Angels
- Justin Upton, OF, Braves
- Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers
- David Price, SP, Rays
- Stephen Strasburg, SP, Nationals
- Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays
- Buster Posey, C, Giants
- David Wright, 3B, Mets
- Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners
- Jose Bautista, OF, Blue Jays
- Hanley Ramirez, 3B/SS, Dodgers
- Jason Heyward, OF, Braves
- Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox
- Jay Bruce, OF, Reds
- Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers
- Cliff Lee, SP, Phillies
- Matt Cain, SP, Giants
- Jose Reyes, SS, Blue Jays
- Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies
- Starlin Castro, SS, Cubs
- Adam Jones, OF, Orioles
- Jered Weaver, SP, Angels
- Billy Butler, 1B, Royals
- Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds
- Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Blue Jays
- Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
- Gio Gonzalez, SP, Nationals
- Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Athletics
- B.J. Upton, OF, Braves
- Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Dodgers
- Ben Zobrist, 2B/SS/OF, Rays
- Craig Kimbrel, RP, Braves
- Matt Holliday, OF, Cardinals
- Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals
- Chase Headley, 3B, Padres
- Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals
- Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox
- Yu Darvish, SP, Rangers
- Adam Wainwright, SP, Cardinals
- Madison Bumgarner, SP, Giants
- Zack Greinke, SP, Dodgers
- Matt Wieters, C, Orioles
- Michael Bourn, OF, Indians
- R.A. Dickey, SP, Blue Jays
- Allen Craig, 1B/OF, Cardinals
- Joe Mauer, C, Twins
- Brett Lawrie, 3B, Blue Jays
- CC Sabathia, SP, Yankees
- Johnny Cueto, SP, Reds
- Mat Latos, SP, Reds
- Chris Sale, SP, White Sox
- Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers
- Jason Kipnis, 2B, Indians
- Aaron Hill, 2B, Diamondbacks
- Ian Desmond, SS, Nationals
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks
- Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays
- Jordan Zimmerman, SP, Nationals
- Carlos Santana, C, Indians
- Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies
- Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Brewers
- Alex Rios, OF, White Sox
- Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants
- Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies
- Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Reds
- Aroldis Chapman, SP/RP, Reds
- Mark Teixiera, 1B, Yankees
- Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Phillies
- Jason Motte, RP, Cardinals
- Alex Gordon, OF, Royals
- Kris Medlen, SP/RP, Braves
- Matt Moore, SP, Rays
- James Shields, SP, Royals
- Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers
- Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros
- Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees (mid-May return leaves some value)
- Max Scherzer, SP, Tigers
- Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves
- Victor Martinez, C, Tigers
- Martin Prado, 3B/OF, Diamondbacks
- Ike Davis, 1B, Mets
- Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals
- Rafael Soriano, RP, Nationals
- Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers
- Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays
- Brandon Morrow, SP, Blue Jays
- Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Indians
- Melky Cabrera, OF, Blue Jays
- Mariano Rivera, RP, Yankees
- J.J. Putz, RP, Diamondbacks
- Doug Fister, SP, Tigers
- David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox
- Ian Kennedy, SP, Diamondbacks
- Jake Peavy, SP, White Sox
- Hunter Pence, OF, Giants
- Carlos Gomez, OF, Brewers
- Josh Willingham, OF, Twins
- Joe Nathan, RP, Rangers
- Joel Hanrahan, RP, Red Sox
- Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, Angels
- Josh Johnson, SP, Blue Jays
- Hiroki Kuroda, SP, Yankees
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs
- Angel Pagan, OF, Giants
- Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants
- Anibal Sanchez, SP, Tigers
- Dan Haren, SP, Nationals
- Jonathan Niese, SP, Mets
- Shane Victorino, OF, Red Sox
- Torii Hunter, OF, Tigers
- Erick Aybar, SS, Angels
- Neil Walker, 2B, Pirates
- John Axford, RP, Brewers
- Carl Crawford, OF, Dodgers
- Alejandro De Aza, OF, White Sox
- Carlos Beltran, OF, Cardinals
- David Freese, 3B, Cardinals
- Brett Anderson, SP, Athletics
- Jim Johnson, RP, Orioles
- Danny Espinosa, 2B/SS, Nationals
- Brett Gardner, OF, Yankees
- Lance Lynn, SP, Cardinals
- Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers
- Paul Konerko, 1B, White Sox
- Howie Kendrick, 2B, Angels
- Ben Revere, OF, Phillies
- Denard Span, OF, Nationals
- Jon Lester, SP, Red Sox
- Addison Reed, RP, White Sox
- Huston Street, RP, Padres
- Alcides Escobar, SS, Royals
- Sergio Romo, RP, Giants
- Jeff Samardzija, SP, Cubs
- Ryan Dempster, SP, Red Sox
- C.J. Wilson, SP, Angels
- Greg Holland, RP, Royals
- Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies
- Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals
- Adam LaRoche, 1B, Nationals
- Jason Kubel, OF, Diamondbacks
- Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers
- Wade Miley, SP, Diamondbacks
- Andre Ethier, OF, Dodgers
- Mike Napoli, C/1B, Red Sox
- Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies
- Michael Morse, OF, Mariners
- Jarrod Parker, SP, Athletics
- Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pirates
- J.J. Hardy, SS, Orioles
- Homer Bailey, SP, Reds
- Matt Harvey, SP, Mets
- Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Rays
- Manny Machado, 3B, Orioles
- Kyle Seager, 3B, Mariners
- Dexter Fowler, OF, Rockies
- Rafael Betancourt, RP, Rockies
- Tim Hudson, SP, Braves
- Dan Uggla, 2B, Braves
- Miguel Montero, C, Diamondbacks
- Josh Reddick, OF, Athletics
- Todd Frazier, 1B/3B, Reds
- Matt Harrison, SP, Rangers
- Jonathan Broxton, RP, Reds
- Chris Perez, RP, Indians
- Derek Holland, SP, Rangers
- Marco Scutaro, 2B/SS, Giants
- Wilin Rosario, C, Rockies
- Salvador Perez, C, Royals
- Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees
- Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants
- Chris Davis, 1B/OF, Orioles
- Grant Balfour, RP, Athletics
- Mike Minor, SP, Braves
- Alexei Ramirez, SS, White Sox
- Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Yankees
- Alexi Ogando, SP/RP, Rangers
- Nick Swisher, 1B/OF, Indians
- Tommy Milone, SP, Athletics
- Kendrys Morales, 1B/DH, Mariners
- Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Red Sox
- Colby Rasmus, OF, Blue Jays
- Adam Dunn, 1B/DH, White Sox
- Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs
- Phil Hughes, SP, Yankees
- Jaime Garcia, SP, Cardinals
- Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves
- Jesus Montero, C, Mariners
- Jason Grilli, RP, Pirates
- Cameron Maybin, OF, Padres
- Corey Hart, 1B, Brewers
- Norichika Aoki, OF, Brewers
- Lance Berkman, 1B/DH, Rangers
- Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Yankees
- Dayan Viciedo, OF, White Sox
- Brandon McCarthy, SP, Diamondbacks
- Kenley Jansen, RP, Dodgers
- Brandon League, RP, Dodgers
- Bobby Parnell, RP, Mets
- Michael Cuddyer, 1B/OF, Rockies
- Michael Young, 1B/3B, Phillies
- A.J. Burnett, SP, Pirates
- Jurickson Profar, 2B, Rangers (he should get enough time to have value)
- Jayson Werth, OF, Nationals
- Trevor Cahill, SP, Diamondbacks
- Justin Masterson, SP, Indians
- Glen Perkins, RP, Twins
- Casey Janssen, RP, Blue Jays
- Tom Wilhelmsen, RP, Mariners
- Everth Cabrera, SS, Padres
- Trevor Plouffe, 3B, Twins
- Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins
- Tommy Hanson, SP, Angels
- James McDonald, SP, Pirates
- Josh Beckett, SP, Dodgers
- Marco Estrada, SP, Brewers
- Jason Vargas, SP, Angels
- Zack Cozart, SS, Reds
- Mark Reynolds, 1B, Indians
- Steve Cishek, RP, Marlins
- Daniel Murphy, 2B, Mets
- A.J. Pierzynski, C, Rangers
- Nick Markakis, OF, Orioles
- Garrett Jones, 1B/OF, Pirates
- Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, Dodgers
- Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Orioles
- Omar Infante, 2B, Tigers
- David Murphy, OF, Rangers
- Kelly Johnson, 2B, Rays
- Dustin Ackley, 2B, Mariners
- Lorenzo Cain, OF, Royals
- Carlos Marmol, RP, Cubs
- Kyuji Fujikawa, RP, Cubs
- Jon Jay, OF, Cardinals
- Brian McCann, C, Braves
- Wil Myers, OF, Rays
- Jean Segura, SS, Brewers
BALCO and Biogenesis have changed how players have tried to manipulate the game through the use of synthetic hormones to gain advantages over their counterparts; however, as more names come out in reports, including those of Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, and Ryan Braun, should Major League Baseball look into the actual advantages that come from the use of performance-enhancing drugs?
As football overlooked head injuries for nearly 85 years of the NFL, baseball turned a blind eye to the testosterone-infused, giant-headed record breakers in Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa, watching the revenue flow and the turnstiles rotate as attendance rebounded from the 1994 strike.
Once things retuned to normal, then, and only then, was it considered a crime in Major League Baseball to use steroids. After riding on the coat tails of their superstars, they then made them villains, not showing any support for the stars as they reached retirement and, now, eligibility for the Hall of Fame.
Certainly, possessing steroids without medical need or a prescription is a crime in the real world, so it shouldn’t have been overlooked, and the Mitchell Report changed the game and has made the attack of doping dopes in baseball a journalistic norm, as The Miami New Times joined The San Francisco Chronicle in the scooping business.
But…are performance-enhancing drugs bad for the game?
According to Livestrong.com, side effects from Human Growth Hormone (HGH)research states:
Several studies have tried to determine the efficacy of HGH and any potential side effects, with one of the most important being the 2002 JAMA study, conducted jointly by researchers from the National Institute on Aging and Johns Hopkins University over a period of 26 weeks. There were several common milder side effects from HGH supplements that included joint pain, swelling and carpal tunnel syndrome. The more serious side effects included an increase in glucose intolerance and diabetes among male subjects. None of the women developed those conditions, although they were more likely to suffer edema, a type of fluid retention that causes swelling. All side effects, even including diabetes, disappeared two to six weeks after treatment was discontinued.
Mike Trout had, possibly, the greatest season that any rookie could have ever had in 2012. Taking into consideration that Trout didn’t play in his first game with the Los Angeles Angels until April 28 and he only played in 139 games while compiling:
- 129 Runs (1st in MLB)
- 49 Stolen Bases (1st in MLB)
- 10.7 WAR (1st in MLB)
- .326 Batting Average (2nd in the AL)
- .564 Slugging Percentage (3rd in the AL)
- .399 On-Base Percentage (3rd in the AL)
- .963 OPS (2nd in the AL)
- 171 OPS+ (1st in the AL)
- 315 Total Bases (6th in the AL)
One All-Star Game, One Silver Slugger, One Rookie of the Year, and finishing 2nd in the AL MVP voting, if only because Miguel Cabrera won the first Triple Crown in 45 years, were just icing on the cake for Trout.
When you look at player ratings all over the internet, whether it’s ESPN, CBS Sports, or Sports Illustrated, Mike Trout is right at the top. Is he really a top five player in fantasy baseball? In “real” baseball?
Clearly, it was hard to see many flaws in the 2012 season that Trout completed, but consider this:
- Trout’s BABIP was .383. Considering that the “normal” BABIP is .300, this figure is highly inflated.
- Trout’s strikeout rate was 21.8 percent. When you look at Albert Pujols and his career 9.6 percent career rate, Ryan Braun and his 17.9 percent career rate, Miguel Cabrera and his 17.1 percent career rate, or Josh Hamilton and his 19.7 percent career rate, and you have to wonder if Trout can maintain success if he isn’t getting lucky with where the ball lands (see his inflated BABIP) and he isn’t making contact.
- Can his speed last a full season and can he stay healthy in a full season, based on how everyone has seen him play? Trout managed 22 infield hits in 2012. If you take those away, due to a leg or foot injury, Trout would have hit .286.
It seems very unrealistic to expect that Trout will only improve on his numbers from 2012 going forward. The last Rookie of the Year to win the MVP, Fred Lynn, had some struggles in his career. Take a look at his first three seasons:
Lynn was a tremendous talent, returning to glory in 1979, when he posted a .333/.423/.637 line, with 42 doubles, 39 home runs, and 122 RBI for Boston, but prior to that, he regressed significantly from his rookie year production.
Fred Lynn never lived up to the hype that he created in his dynamic rookie season, despite being a very productive player, being eliminated from the Hall of Fame ballot after his second year of eligibility, after receiving just 4.7 percent of the vote in 1997.
Calling Mike Trout the next Fred Lynn is not an insult, as anyone who plays 17 seasons and is a part of nine All-Star games is a fantastic player. The issue is that Mike Trout has unrealistic expectations being placed on him going into the 2013 season. Bill James has Trout going:
.325/.402/.564 with 122 runs, 30 home runs, 87 RBI, and 53 stolen bases, while maintaining an inflated .379 BABIP.
Ryan Braun, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton, Derek Jeter, and Robinson Cano should be expected to maintain their career norms, but fantasy baseball players could be making a huge mistake by taking Trout 1st overall in 2013. While the skills and tools are there for the 21-year-old to continue thriving and become a future Hall of Famer, he will need to repeat his 2012 numbers for several seasons before being labeled the top player in baseball.
Is he the most exciting player in baseball…absolutely. Should everyone subscribe to MLB.TV to have an opportunity to tune in a few times per season…definitely. Are we asking too much for a 21-year-old to become the face of an entire league…without question.
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;
Mike Trout just turned 21 years old on August 7. He has given baseball fans plenty of gifts this season with an incredible rookie season, which has led to some speculation that he could win the American League MVP, along with the Rookie of the Year award. His season still has some time to play out, but his .345/.409/.597 line with 21 doubles, five triples, 21 home runs, 60 RBI, and a league leading 36 steals has already left the youngster with a 7.0 WAR. He already ranks among the greatest rookies ever and he could be on his way to becoming the best player in baseball very soon, if he isn’t already.
Looking at his incredible season led me to wonder who had the best rookie year ever. Here are my top ten rookie seasons since the Rookie of the Year was established in 1947:
1) Jackie Robinson, 1947, 5th in MVP Voting
.297/.383/.427, 151 G, 175 H, 31 2B, 5 3B, 12 HR, 48 RBI, 29 SB, 3.0 WAR
Jackie Robinson gets the No.1 spot for more than just his results. Not only did he break the color barrier in MLB, but he posted these numbers with teammates that wouldn’t speak to him and opposing players and fans who slandered him on and off of the field.
2) Fred Lynn, 1975, AL MVP
.331/.401/.566, 145 G, 175 H, 47 2B, 7 3B, 21 HR, 105 RBI, 10 SB, 7.1 WAR
Lynn led the Red Sox to the World Series in his rookie year and was the first rookie to win an MVP, as well. Lynn’s rookie season would have to rate as his second best season in his career, though he never won another MVP while making nine All-Star teams.
3) Ichiro Suzuki, 2001, AL MVP
.350/.381/.457, 157 G, 242 H, 34 2B, 8 3B, 8 HR, 69 RBI, 56 SB, 7.5 WAR
Ichiro was not your typical, young rookie, having arrived in the United States at the age of 27 from Japan. His speed and powerful arm in right field changed the Mariners for years. He would easily have 3,000 hits and would be closing in or beyond 4,000 hits for his career if he had played his whole career in the States, but 2,548 isn’t bad for now! The second Rookie of the Year to win the MVP, Ichiro led the Mariners to 116 wins in 2001 before they lost to the New York Yankees in the ALCS.
4) Frank Robinson, 1956, 7th in MVP Voting
.290/.379/.558, 152 G, 166 H, 27 2B, 6 3B, 38 HR, 83 RBI, 8 SB, 6.2 WAR
The future Hall of Famer came into the league with a bang. He immediately became a force to be wreckoned with in Cincinnati.
5) Albert Pujols, 2001, 4th in MVP Voting
.329/.403/.610, 161 G, 194 H, 47 2B, 4 3B, 37 HR, 130 RBI, 1 SB, 6.3 WAR
Pujols jumped from Low-A Peoria in 2000 to the majors in 2001. He hasn’t had to look back. Pujols has established himself as one of the greatest sluggers in the history of baseball. He struggled at the start of the 2012 season for his new club, the Los Angeles Angels, but he has his stats back to their typically mind-blowing status. He is a three-time MVP, and I may be selling his first season short at No.5.
6) Ryan Braun, 2007, 24th in MVP Voting
.324/.370/.634, 113 G, 146 H, 26 2B, 6 3B, 34 HR, 97 RBI, 15 SB, 1.8 WAR
If Braun wasn’t such an attrocious fielder in his rookie year, his WAR would have been much higher. He had an .895 fielding percentage at third base, which was just a touch lower than the league average of .954. Braun, juicing or not, has established himself as a superstar, and he will be in Milwaukee longer than the Miller Brewing Company with his current contract.
7) Nomar Garciaparra, 1997, 8th in MVP Voting
.306/.342/.534, 153 G, 209 H, 44 2B, 11 3B, 30 HR, 98 RBI, 22 SB, 6.5 WAR
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOMAH!!! The man could fill up a box score in his rookie year, and he was a beloved figure in Boston due to his name being awesome to say with a Boston accent, and his ability. He came into the league around the same time as Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Miguel Tejada, and Barry Larkin’s 1995 MVP season made the shortstop position a sexy offensive position. Together with Cal Ripken and the others, Nomar helped change the shortstop position, and his rookie year was statistically magical.
8) Mike Piazza, 1993, 9th in MVP Voting
.318/.370/.561, 149 G, 174 H, 24 2B, 2 3B, 35 HR, 112 RBI, 3 SB, 6.8 WAR
Piazza was selected by the Dodgers as a favor to Tommy LaSorda, his godfather. Sometimes, lightening strikes. Piazza was one of the greatest hitting catchers of all time. His rookie season was outstanding and the 62nd round pick only made 11 All-Star games. Nice find. Great season.
9) Mark McGwire, 1987, 6th in MVP Voting
.289/.370/.618, 151 G, 161 H, 28 2B, 4 3B, 49 HR, 118 RBI, 1 SB, 4.8 WAR
Before the reporters snooped into his locker and before McGwire and Sammy Sosa made baseball cool again after the 1994 player’s strike, “Big Mac” was a skinny, 23-year-old who hit 49 bombs in his rookie year. It is scary to think of the numbers he would have finished with if he wasn’t hurt so often during his career, playing in 1874 games over 16 years (117 games played per year).
10) Fernando Valenzuela, 1981, 5th in MVP Voting and NL Cy Young Winner
13-7, 2.48 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 11 CG, 8 SHO, 192.1 IP, 180:61 K:BB, 4.6 WAR
Fernando-mania! The hefty-lefty took the baseball world by storm in 1981, winning the NL Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young. Eight SHUTOUT! 11 COMPLETE GAMES! Was Dusty Baker the manager of the Dodgers then!? The good ol’ days, where innings and pitch counts were just as overlooked as amphetamene use. Good stuff.
Dustin Pedroia, 2007; Jason Bay, 2004; Scott Rolen, 1997; Derek Jeter, 1996; Raul Mondesi, 1994; Jeff Bagwell, 1991; David Justice, 1990; Vince Coleman, 1985; Dwight Gooden, 1984; Mark Fidrych, 1976; Carlton Fisk, 1972; Johnny Bench, 1968; Tony Oliva, 1964; Willie McCovey, 1959; Orlando Cepeda, 1958; Willie Mays, 1951;
As the NBA dealt with vetoed trades and lockouts and the NFL is recovering from a near work stoppage, MLB was basking in the glory of a fantastic postseason and happy labor negotiations. The end of a weeklong Winter Meetings with, quite possibly, the biggest Free Agent signing ever just wasn’t enough for them.
Ryan Braun has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PED) and is appealing a 50-game suspension. A source told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that “the positive result was triggered by elevated levels of testosterone in Braun’s system.” Further, a more comprehensive test revealed the testosterone was synthetic. Now Braun will go through the process of appeal, something that no one has ever been successful in overturning.
Braun won the NL MVP in 2011 after hitting .332/.397/.597 with 38 2B, 33 HR, 111 RBI and 33 SB. He signed a five-year, $105 million extension that will keep him with the Brewers through 2021 last offseason. Clearly, if the Brewers lose Prince Fielder to Free Agency, which they have basically admitted was going to happen, they’ll take a major hit over a 50-game absence from Braun.
You have to hope that this is an error but all signs point to MLB losing a well-respected, previously untarnished star. Braun was in the Minors when drug-testing started and has had to pass tests every season up to this point, or he at least knew that he could have been tested. Since Manny Ramirez was actually a part of the “Steroid Era” and only was suspended as an old, shell of his former self, it didn’t mean as much. This is a devastating blow to the Brewers and to MLB. Braun has had a track record that had him heading to Cooperstown, too, even if he is just 28 and played just five seasons. He’ll just be a part of the crop that baseball writers choose to ignore once he gets to that point unless something drastically changes. Though, he still has time and the appeal process to try to clean his legacy.
Starting Eduardo Nunez, Brandon Laird and Dellin Betances against the David Price led Rays as they battle for their playoff lives is one thing, but taking Jose Reyes out of, what could be, his last game as a Met to help him win a batting title, that’s another. New York had some interesting approaches to the game of baseball today, a game that is so honorably held by some as a gentleman’s game. As the Baseball Writer’s Association sinks their feet into the “holier-than-thou” approach to the Steroid Era and the likes of Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, and Mark McGwire, you probably won’t see a whole lot of outrage over these moves today.
Certainly, Boston fans are questioning the so-called effort that the Yankees are making, but what about the Mets move to Ryan Braun? Braun has played all season, not taking a couple of stops on the Disabled List like Jose Reyes always seems to do. Braun’s possible percentage point shortage to Reyes is disgusting, especially when you see that Braun had 625 plate appearances to Reyes’ 585. Braun’s overall production had him in the top of the National League in average (2nd, .335), homers (6th, 33) and RBI (4th, 111). Now, Reyes, who was pulled from the game after getting a hit in his first at bat (ya gotta pad those stats, right?) is the front-runner for the title.
As a fan of baseball, I enjoy the Rays run to the Wild Card. I wouldn’t mind seeing the small market beat out Boston, but baseball and ESPN would hate that, as would the ratings. New York and the other major markets suck the life out of fans in Tampa, Kansas City, and Oakland with their spending, but they shouldn’t suck the life out of the game. Minor injuries aside, the Yankees should be doing everything they could to knock the Rays out of the playoffs. They should WANT Boston in the playoffs after they have been choking themselves for the entire month and will be entering the playoffs with no pulse. You want to get at the Red Sox fan base? Let them into the playoffs to get swept! You don’t want any part of a hot Tampa team in the playoffs. The same goes for Reyes. It will be interesting if Braun goes 3 for 4 tonight and wins the batting title all because Reyes and the Mets didn’t pad the stats enough. Cheap ways to end the season. Cheap shots to the gentleman’s game. We’ll see if anyone has the balls to rip New York apart on the major networks, though. It wouldn’t be good for ratings.