Results tagged ‘ Texas Rangers ’

Minor League Report, 6/14

Cubs super-prospect 3B Kris Bryant

Cubs super-prospect 3B Kris Bryant

The 2014 season has been quite interesting to this point. With so many teams floating around contention due to unforeseen parity in a game that has had so little over the years, we haven’t seen many top talents reach the big leagues to assist their clubs compete. Gregory Polanco finally reached Pittsburgh, but the Cardinals just sent Oscar Taveras back to the minors following the activation of Matt Adams from the 15-day disabled list. With injuries to Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Archie Bradley, and Taijuan Walker, the elite level prospects haven’t provided a lot of positive material for minor league analysis. For that reason, you have to reach deeper. Here are some names that you may be familiar with, but, if you’re not, you should get to know a little better.

Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

Year Age AgeDif Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 21 -0.8 A–A+-Rk 36 146 128 22 43 14 2 9 32 1 11 35 .336 .390 .688 1.078 88
2013 21 1.3 Rk 2 7 6 0 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 1 .167 .143 .333 .476 2
2013 21 -0.2 A- 18 77 65 13 23 8 1 4 16 0 8 17 .354 .416 .692 1.108 45
2013 21 -1.8 A+ 16 62 57 9 19 5 1 5 14 1 3 17 .333 .387 .719 1.106 41
2014 22 -2.6 AA 66 286 240 60 86 19 0 22 57 8 41 75 .358 .462 .713 1.174 171
2 Seasons 102 432 368 82 129 33 2 31 89 9 52 110 .351 .438 .704 1.141 259
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2014.

Bryant is a one-man wrecking crew in the Double-A Southern League in 2014, and you should already be familiar with him, as Bryant was the No.2 overall pick out of San Diego in the 2013 MLB Draft. For all of the fears that went along with the holes in his swing, which is still present based on the 75 strikeouts, Bryant can still draw a walk while producing elite-level power from the right side. He may have to move to an outfield corner in the long run due to Starlin Castro being at short and Javier Baez likely moving to third, as the Cubs have Anthony Rizzo locked up through 2021 (including options) at first. Regardless of where he plays, he’ll be an All-Star talent. The Cubs don’t need to bring him up due to their 27-38 record and ongoing rebuild, but the scariest part of his numbers are the fact that they could only get larger with a move to Triple-A and the Pacific Coast League. He could break camp with the Cubs in 2015 and will likely get a nice audition this September.

Victor Sanchez, RHP, Seattle Mariners

Year Age AgeDif Lev W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2012 17 -4.3 A- 6 2 3.18 15 0 0 85.0 69 37 30 5 27 69 1.129 7.3 2.9 7.3 2.56
2013 18 -3.8 A 6 6 2.78 20 1 1 113.1 106 42 35 4 18 79 1.094 8.4 1.4 6.3 4.39
2014 19 -5.5 AA 3 2 4.06 9 1 1 44.1 45 26 20 10 12 39 1.286 9.1 2.4 7.9 3.25
3 Seasons 15 10 3.15 44 2 2 242.2 220 105 85 19 57 187 1.141 8.2 2.1 6.9 3.28
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2014.

The Mariners have a lot of young pitchers who get a lot of attention with Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and Erasmo Ramirez each earning some starts at the major league level over the last couple of seasons; however, with those names receiving so much attention, there is a sneaky exciting talent coming up who isn’t getting nearly as much recognition as most players with his skills would, and that is Victor Sanchez. At 19, Sanchez is already in Double-A, having skipped the horrific pitching environment of the California League, and he is pitching very well. Over his last two starts, Sanchez has allowed just two earned runs over 13.2 innings (1.32 ERA), striking out 13 and allowing 11 base runners (0.80 WHIP). Sanchez isn’t a dynamic strikeout pitcher, but he has plus command and, at his age, he may further develop his stuff to take another step forward. He could certainly give up fewer home runs, but when you consider that he is 5 1/2 years younger than the average player in the Southern League, he deserves a break. He’s a very mature pitcher given his age and deserves more attention than he is getting.

Astros OF Preston Tucker

Astros OF Preston Tucker

 

Preston Tucker, OF, Houston Astros

Year Age AgeDif Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 21 -0.1 A- 42 187 165 32 53 7 0 8 38 1 18 16 .321 .390 .509 .899 84
2013 22 -1.4 A+-AA 135 601 535 97 159 32 2 25 103 3 56 91 .297 .368 .505 .872 270
2013 22 -0.9 A+ 75 333 298 61 97 18 1 15 74 3 29 45 .326 .384 .544 .928 162
2013 22 -2.0 AA 60 268 237 36 62 14 1 10 29 0 27 46 .262 .347 .456 .803 108
2014 23 -1.2 AA-AAA 66 294 265 42 73 17 0 17 43 3 26 48 .275 .347 .532 .879 141
2014 23 -1.2 AA 65 290 261 41 72 17 0 17 43 3 26 46 .276 .348 .536 .885 140
2014 23 -3.7 AAA 1 4 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .250 .250 .250 .500 1
3 Seasons 243 1082 965 171 285 56 2 50 184 7 100 155 .295 .366 .513 .879 495
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2014.

Another Houston Astros prospect who is near ready to make an impact at the major league level, Tucker was just promoted to Triple-A after being near the top of the Texas League in doubles, home runs, and total bases. After thriving in 2013 between High-A and Double-A, Tucker has made the adjustments necessary to continue his progression to Houston to join Jon Singleton and George Springer, while the club waits for Carlos Correa and others in the lower minors to help make Houston a World Series contender in the next three seasons. Even thriving against left-handers, Tucker is capable of being more than just an average outfielder in the majors.

Christian Walker, 1B, Baltimore Orioles

Year Age AgeDif Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 21 -0.1 A- 22 93 81 12 23 5 0 2 9 2 10 14 .284 .376 .420 .796 34
2013 22 -0.7 A+-A-AA 103 439 393 51 118 27 0 11 56 2 34 67 .300 .362 .453 .815 178
2013 22 0.4 A 31 131 116 19 41 5 0 3 20 0 11 16 .353 .420 .474 .894 55
2013 22 -0.8 A+ 55 239 215 25 62 17 0 8 35 2 17 41 .288 .343 .479 .822 103
2013 22 -2.4 AA 17 69 62 7 15 5 0 0 1 0 6 10 .242 .319 .323 .641 20
2014 23 -1.6 AA 65 284 258 43 79 10 1 17 58 1 22 58 .306 .363 .550 .913 142
3 Seasons 190 816 732 106 220 42 1 30 123 5 66 139 .301 .364 .484 .848 354
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2014.

After being taken in the 4th round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of South Carolina, Christian Walker had a somewhat productive first full minor league season in 2013 (.815 OPS, just 67 strikeouts in 439 plate appearances), but it was also somewhat disappointing (11 home runs). Walker did play at three levels in 2013, so, perhaps, he wasn’t in one location long enough to make the adjustments necessary to showcase his power, but the 2014 season has been quite different. Walker already has 17 home runs and is sporting an OPS of .913 as of publishing. While his strikeout rate has increased, that is allowing him to produce at higher levels. With Chris Davis under team control through the 2015 season, could you be looking at the future first baseman in Baltimore? It could be the case, but Walker has to continue his offensive outburst if he is going to make it in the majors as a right-handed hitting first baseman.

Rymer Liriano, OF, San Diego Padres

Year Age AgeDif Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2008 17 -1.5 FRk 67 267 232 34 46 13 1 9 37 9 28 106 .198 .296 .379 .675 88
2009 18 -2.2 Rk 50 216 197 44 69 8 1 8 44 14 15 52 .350 .398 .523 .921 103
2010 19 -2.5 A–A-A+ 117 481 441 59 102 26 7 3 38 31 32 119 .231 .288 .342 .630 151
2010 19 -2.3 A- 53 225 203 35 55 13 6 0 12 17 17 53 .271 .335 .394 .729 80
2010 19 -2.4 A 50 201 188 21 36 11 1 2 20 11 10 54 .191 .234 .293 .526 55
2010 19 -3.8 A+ 14 55 50 3 11 2 0 1 6 3 5 12 .220 .291 .320 .611 16
2011 20 -1.7 A-A+ 131 580 510 89 152 31 9 12 68 66 53 108 .298 .365 .465 .830 237
2011 20 -1.6 A 116 519 455 81 145 30 8 12 62 65 47 95 .319 .383 .499 .882 227
2011 20 -2.7 A+ 15 61 55 8 7 1 1 0 6 1 6 13 .127 .213 .182 .395 10
2012 21 -2.2 A+-AA 127 520 465 65 130 32 4 8 61 32 41 119 .280 .350 .417 .767 194
2012 21 -1.6 A+ 74 314 282 41 84 22 2 5 41 22 21 69 .298 .360 .443 .803 125
2012 21 -3.1 AA 53 206 183 24 46 10 2 3 20 10 20 50 .251 .335 .377 .712 69
2014 23 -1.2 AA 66 282 252 38 69 14 2 11 40 10 25 73 .274 .344 .476 .820 120
6 Seasons 558 2346 2097 329 568 124 24 51 288 162 194 577 .271 .338 .426 .764 893
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2014.

Even after missing all of the 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery, Rymer Liriano is young for his league. The 22-year-old outfielder is back on track, showcasing all of his tools, though the swing and miss looks to be a bit larger than anticipated after his long layoff. Regardless, in 2011, Liriano showed the speed (66 steals) and power (50 extra-base hits) that make fantasy baseball fans salivate. He could probably make the Padres offense a little better if he were called up today, but he still has some work to do to become an All-Star level talent in the future.

Luke Jackson, RHP, Texas Rangers

Year Age AgeDif Lev W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2011 19 -2.8 A 5 6 5.64 19 0 0 75.0 83 57 47 9 48 78 1.747 10.0 5.8 9.4 1.63
2012 20 -2.3 A+-A 10 7 4.65 26 1 0 129.2 130 72 67 6 65 146 1.504 9.0 4.5 10.1 2.25
2012 20 -1.6 A 5 5 4.92 13 1 0 64.0 63 37 35 4 33 72 1.500 8.9 4.6 10.1 2.18
2012 20 -2.9 A+ 5 2 4.39 13 0 0 65.2 67 35 32 2 32 74 1.508 9.2 4.4 10.1 2.31
2013 21 -2.2 A+-AA 11 4 2.04 23 0 0 128.0 92 32 29 6 59 134 1.180 6.5 4.1 9.4 2.27
2013 21 -1.8 A+ 9 4 2.41 19 0 0 101.0 79 30 27 6 47 104 1.248 7.0 4.2 9.3 2.21
2013 21 -3.5 AA 2 0 0.67 4 0 0 27.0 13 2 2 0 12 30 0.926 4.3 4.0 10.0 2.50
2014 22 -2.5 AA 7 2 2.86 12 0 0 72.1 50 23 23 5 19 74 0.954 6.2 2.4 9.2 3.89
4 Seasons 33 19 3.69 80 1 0 405.0 355 184 166 26 191 432 1.348 7.9 4.2 9.6 2.26
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2014.

Prior to the 2013 season, Jackson was heading towards becoming an organizational arm, even though he was a first round draft pick in 2010. Then, it all seemed to click last year and over his last 200.1 innings he has a 2.34 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP, and 208 strikeouts. Now, with the Texas Rangers reeling and in need of pitching depth after injuries to Derek Holland, Martin Perez, and Matt Harrison, Luke Jackson has positioned himself for some time in Arlington at some point this summer.

Taylor

Nationals OF Michael Taylor

Michael Taylor, OF, Washington Nationals

Year Age AgeDif Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2010 19 -0.9 Rk-A 43 164 141 14 28 5 3 1 13 1 15 33 .199 .276 .298 .574 42
2010 19 -0.7 Rk 38 149 128 14 25 4 3 1 12 1 14 31 .195 .270 .297 .567 38
2010 19 -2.6 A 5 15 13 0 3 1 0 0 1 0 1 2 .231 .333 .308 .641 4
2011 20 -1.4 A 126 488 442 64 112 26 7 13 68 23 32 120 .253 .310 .432 .742 191
2012 21 -1.6 A+ 109 431 384 51 93 33 2 3 37 19 40 113 .242 .318 .362 .680 139
2013 22 -0.8 A+ 133 581 509 79 134 41 6 10 87 51 55 131 .263 .340 .426 .767 217
2014 23 -1.6 AA 62 271 233 50 77 11 2 16 49 17 32 83 .330 .416 .601 1.017 140
5 Seasons 473 1935 1709 258 444 116 20 43 254 111 174 480 .260 .333 .427 .759 729
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2014.

Michael Taylor is breaking out. After an impressive repeat of High-A in 2013 (57 extra-base hits and 51 stolen bases), Taylor has reached a career-high in home runs in just 62 games, while still showing tremendous speed (17 steals) in his first go-round in Double-A. There is a lot of swing and miss in his bat, but the power and speed skills that he possesses make him an intriguing prospect, especially when you consider that he could be in a pretty electric lineup with Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and company in the next couple of seasons. With Denard Span due a $9 million option or a $500,000 buyout in 2015, Taylor is likely leaving a lot of questions for Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo and Washington management about just what to do in center field in 2015. If nothing else, Taylor could spend some time in Triple-A next year, or even later this season, before earning a full-time role in 2016.

Jake Lamb, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks

Year Age AgeDif Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 21 0.1 Rk 67 315 280 47 92 22 5 9 57 8 24 51 .329 .390 .539 .930 151
2013 22 -0.7 A+-Rk 69 304 248 48 75 22 0 13 52 0 50 75 .302 .421 .548 .969 136
2013 22 2.3 Rk 5 21 17 4 5 2 0 0 5 0 2 5 .294 .381 .412 .793 7
2013 22 -0.9 A+ 64 283 231 44 70 20 0 13 47 0 48 70 .303 .424 .558 .982 129
2014 23 -1.6 AA 65 273 239 42 78 25 4 11 55 0 25 58 .326 .399 .603 1.002 144
3 Seasons 201 892 767 137 245 69 9 33 164 8 99 184 .319 .404 .562 .966 431
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2014.

Jake Lamb was a 6th round pick out of Washington in 2012, and all that he has done since getting drafted is hit. This season, his numbers in the Southern League are being mocked by Kris Bryant’s absurd outburst, but they are still very, very good. The doubles and home runs show the power potential in Lamb’s bat, and the .996 OPS in 59 at-bats against left-handed pitching shows that Lamb is quite capable of becoming a regular in Arizona. With Kevin Towers around, Lamb could be traded before ever reaching the desert, but he would be an extremely solid option to force Martin Prado off of the hot corner, and joining Paul Goldschmidt as a tremendous offensive threat in the Diamondbacks lineup in the near future.

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Minor League Report – Hot April Prospects

When I search minor league stats, I look for strikeouts and WHIP leaders out of guys with solid frames at pitcher, solid plate discipline, gap power, and speed out of hitters. I am not a scout that can go to games, but I tend to find some pretty interesting talent on numbers alone, and while you can’t judge projection much while just using numbers, players have to produce to move up. Working with numbers alone worked for Billy Beane, right? Here is a list of some players to get to know or keep an eye on based on their production.

Lively

Reds RHP Ben Lively


Ben Lively
, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

Not since Tony Cingrani dominated the California League to the tune of a 1.11 ERA and 0.92 WHIP over 10 starts in 2012 have the Reds had a pitcher doing what Lively is doing this season. Since being drafted out of Central Florida last season, the 6’4″ right-hander has done nothing but dominate at each stop. The control is legit and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him jump to Double-A Pensacola in the next couple of weeks, moving him on the fast tracks to the majors, while joining Robert Stephenson as a member of the Blue Wahoo rotation.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2013 21 -0.1 2 Teams Rk-A 0 4 0.88 13 41.0 23 9 4 0 13 56 0.878 5.0 2.9 12.3 4.31
2013 21 0.0 Billings Rk 0 3 0.73 12 37.0 21 7 3 0 12 49 0.892 5.1 2.9 11.9 4.08
2013 21 -0.8 Dayton A 0 1 2.25 1 4.0 2 2 1 0 1 7 0.750 4.5 2.2 15.8 7.00
2014 22 -1.2 Bakersfield A+ 5 0 0.31 5 29.0 13 1 1 1 1 40 0.483 4.0 0.3 12.4 40.00
2 Seasons 5 4 0.64 18 70.0 36 10 5 1 14 96 0.714 4.6 1.8 12.3 6.86
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Matthew Bowman, RHP, New York Mets

Bowman is a Princeton product and, if nothing else, his intelligence could lead to long-term success; however, he seems to have some talen, as well. He is creently dominating Double-A for the Mets and continuing in his ability to keep runners off the base paths at every stop. With his continued ability to throw strikes, the Mets could team Bowman with Rafael Montero in New York to have young, strike-throwing machines within the rotation.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev W L ERA GS GF IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 SO9 SO/W
2012 21 -0.2 Brooklyn A- 2 2 2.45 1 4 29.1 26 9 8 1 2 30 0.955 8.0 9.2 15.00
2013 22 -0.8 2 Teams A+-A 10 4 3.05 21 0 127.0 111 45 43 8 35 116 1.150 7.9 8.2 3.31
2013 22 0.3 Savannah A 4 0 2.64 5 0 30.2 28 9 9 0 4 26 1.043 8.2 7.6 6.50
2013 22 -1.1 St. Lucie A+ 6 4 3.18 16 0 96.1 83 36 34 8 31 90 1.183 7.8 8.4 2.90
2014 23 -1.7 Binghamton AA 3 0 1.04 3 0 17.1 12 2 2 0 5 17 0.981 6.2 8.8 3.40
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Matt Boyd, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays

He’s left-handed and breathing, so he will get a long look, but Boyd has posted some pretty impressive numbers in his brief professional career. The strikeout totals are impressive for a southpaw, and it will be interesting to see how quickly the Blue Jays move him considering his collegiate pedigree.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2013 22 -0.3 2 Teams A-A+ 0 3 2.62 5 24.0 14 7 7 2 4 23 0.750 5.2 1.5 8.6 5.75
2013 22 0.2 Lansing A 0 1 0.64 3 14.0 7 1 1 0 1 12 0.571 4.5 0.6 7.7 12.00
2013 22 -1.1 Dunedin A+ 0 2 5.40 2 10.0 7 6 6 2 3 11 1.000 6.3 2.7 9.9 3.67
2014 23 -0.3 Dunedin A+ 4 0 0.29 5 31.0 18 1 1 1 5 37 0.742 5.2 1.5 10.7 7.40
2 Seasons 4 3 1.31 10 55.0 32 8 8 3 9 60 0.745 5.2 1.5 9.8 6.67
A (1 season) A 0 1 0.64 3 14.0 7 1 1 0 1 12 0.571 4.5 0.6 7.7 12.00
A+ (2 seasons) A+ 4 2 1.54 7 41.0 25 7 7 3 8 48 0.805 5.5 1.8 10.5 6.00
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

 

Rockies RHP Daniel Winkler

Rockies RHP Daniel Winkler

Daniel Winkler, RHP, Colorado Rockies

Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler get a lot of hype for their abilities, results, and projection within the Rockies’ system, but Winkler continues to post solid strikeout totals and numbers in tough environments on his way up the organizational ladder. His early-season results have been quite impressive once again, as he gets a longer look at Double-A after making just five starts in Tulsa in 2013.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2011 21 -0.5 Casper Rk 4 3 3.92 12 57.1 64 31 25 6 19 65 1.448 10.0 3.0 10.2 3.42
2012 22 0.4 Asheville A 11 10 4.46 25 145.1 152 80 72 16 47 136 1.369 9.4 2.9 8.4 2.89
2013 23 -0.4 2 Teams A+-AA 13 7 2.98 27 157.0 107 59 52 18 47 175 0.981 6.1 2.7 10.0 3.72
2013 23 -0.2 Modesto A+ 12 5 2.97 22 130.1 84 48 43 15 37 152 0.928 5.8 2.6 10.5 4.11
2013 23 -1.5 Tulsa AA 1 2 3.04 5 26.2 23 11 9 3 10 23 1.238 7.8 3.4 7.8 2.30
2014 24 -0.4 Tulsa AA 3 1 0.90 5 30.0 13 3 3 1 9 33 0.733 3.9 2.7 9.9 3.67
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Seth Streich, RHP, Oakland A’s

A 6’3″ right-hander out of Ohio University, Streich has put up solid numbers in the challenging pitching environment of the California League in the early-going of 2014. Improved strikeout numbers are evident, but, most importantly, he is keeping the ball in the park. With the A’s having to deal with injuries to Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin this season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them push some of their college arms who are posting solid numbers.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2012 21 -0.1 2 Teams A–Rk 4 1 2.65 4 37.1 27 13 11 1 18 48 1.205 6.5 4.3 11.6 2.67
2012 21 0.5 Athletics Rk 0 0 3.38 0 2.2 1 1 1 0 1 6 0.750 3.4 3.4 20.2 6.00
2012 21 -0.2 Vermont A- 4 1 2.60 4 34.2 26 12 10 1 17 42 1.240 6.8 4.4 10.9 2.47
2013 22 0.2 Beloit A 10 6 3.82 21 110.2 114 56 47 2 41 82 1.401 9.3 3.3 6.7 2.00
2014 23 -0.2 Stockton A+ 3 1 2.36 5 26.2 18 7 7 0 7 30 0.938 6.1 2.4 10.1 4.29
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Ryan Merritt, LHP, Cleveland Indians

Merrit’s early-season success is very impressive, particularly the one earned run in 24.1 innings. He doesn’t miss enough bats to be considered an elite prospect within the Tribe system, but if he continues to keep runs off of the board, perhaps he could be a solid back-end of the rotation starter. You could view him as a Tommy Milone-like arm.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2011 19 -1.9 Indians Rk 0 0 1.08 0 8.1 10 3 1 0 2 10 1.440 10.8 2.2 10.8 5.00
2012 20 -1.2 Mahoning Valley A- 3 4 4.09 14 66.0 82 42 30 3 17 40 1.500 11.2 2.3 5.5 2.35
2013 21 -0.9 2 Teams A-A+ 6 9 3.52 25 135.1 149 67 53 11 19 97 1.241 9.9 1.3 6.5 5.11
2013 21 -0.8 Lake County A 6 9 3.42 23 126.1 142 62 48 10 18 91 1.266 10.1 1.3 6.5 5.06
2013 21 -1.8 Carolina A+ 0 0 5.00 2 9.0 7 5 5 1 1 6 0.889 7.0 1.0 6.0 6.00
2014 22 -0.8 Carolina A+ 3 0 0.37 4 24.1 14 2 1 0 6 18 0.822 5.2 2.2 6.7 3.00
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Marco Gonzales, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals

Another solid pitching prospect for an absolutely loaded system, Gonzales is a southpaw out of Gonzaga on the fast track to St. Louis. With a lack of left-handed options within the Cardinals’ rotation due to the constant shoulder woes of Jaime Garcia, his selection was a wise choice for the perennial contenders. Gonzales will be a solid addition to the Cardinal rotation, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the youngster end up making a dozen starts in Double-A this season.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2013 21 -1.4 2 Teams A+-Rk 0 0 2.70 6 23.1 18 8 7 1 8 23 1.114 6.9 3.1 8.9 2.88
2013 21 0.4 Cardinals Rk 0 0 5.40 2 6.2 8 5 4 0 3 10 1.650 10.8 4.0 13.5 3.33
2013 21 -2.1 Palm Beach A+ 0 0 1.62 4 16.2 10 3 3 1 5 13 0.900 5.4 2.7 7.0 2.60
2014 22 -1.3 Palm Beach A+ 1 1 1.90 4 23.2 22 7 5 1 6 23 1.183 8.4 2.3 8.7 3.83
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Stephen Landazuri, RHP, Seattle Mariners

At just 6′, 175 pounds, Landazuri is going to have to overcome the same “too short” labels that have landed upon Roy Oswalt, Johnny Cueto, Kris Medlen, and flame-throwing rookie Yordano Ventura. When he isn’t pitching in a challenging environment (like the Northwest League and the California League), Landazuri has posted very impressive numbers. Now, a younger-than-average starter in Double-A, the righty is striking out more than a batter per inning and keeping the opposition from getting on with just 4.7 hits per nine innings and a 0.65 WHIP after four starts. He’s someone to watch within the Mariners rotation in 2014, as they try to work through injuries to Hashashi Iwakuma, Taijuan Walker, and James Paxton.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2010 18 -2.6 Mariners Rk 1 2 3.60 3 20.0 20 9 8 0 7 11 1.350 9.0 3.2 5.0 1.57
2011 19 -2.1 Everett A- 5 4 4.35 14 72.1 73 39 35 5 29 72 1.410 9.1 3.6 9.0 2.48
2012 20 -1.7 2 Teams A-Rk 3 2 2.89 10 53.0 45 17 17 1 11 44 1.057 7.6 1.9 7.5 4.00
2012 20 -0.5 Mariners Rk 0 0 1.50 3 6.0 7 1 1 0 0 5 1.167 10.5 0.0 7.5
2012 20 -1.8 Clinton A 3 2 3.06 7 47.0 38 16 16 1 11 39 1.043 7.3 2.1 7.5 3.55
2013 21 -2.1 2 Teams A+-A 7 7 4.34 26 128.2 133 78 62 16 40 129 1.345 9.3 2.8 9.0 3.23
2013 21 -0.8 Clinton A 1 0 1.50 3 12.0 8 4 2 0 8 14 1.333 6.0 6.0 10.5 1.75
2013 21 -2.2 High Desert A+ 6 7 4.63 23 116.2 125 74 60 16 32 115 1.346 9.6 2.5 8.9 3.59
2014 22 -2.4 Jackson AA 3 1 1.96 4 23.0 12 7 5 2 3 30 0.652 4.7 1.2 11.7 10.00
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Chad Pinder, 2B, Oakland A’s

Pinder, a shortstop at Virginia Tech, has moved to second base this season and he has produced solid numbers in the early-going in the hitter-friendly Cal League. His 17 extra-base hits in just 24 games is impressive for anyone, let alone a middle infielder. With Eric Sogard occupying second at the major league level, Pinder could be a viable long-term option for the A’s in the next couple of seasons. Another few weeks of this type of production, and Pinder could be moved to Double-A very quickly.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 21 0.0 Vermont A- 42 161 140 14 28 4 0 3 8 1 12 41 .200 .286 .293 .579 41
2014 22 -0.7 Stockton A+ 24 108 102 16 33 7 3 7 21 3 5 22 .324 .361 .657 1.018 67
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

 

Rangers 3B Joey Gallo

Rangers 3B Joey Gallo

Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers

Everyone should already know his name thanks to his 40 home runs at the age of 19 in his first full season. The fact that he is showing some semblance of plate discipline this season while still showcasing his elite-level power makes Gallo one of the top prospects in the minor leagues right now. With so many slugging, elite prospects suffering through injuries this season (Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Javier Baez are all currently disabled), Gallo will shoot up mid-season prospect lists with similar months. His long-term outlook will only beam brighter due to his ballpark and offensive projection for the Rangers.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 18 -1.9 2 Teams Rk-A- 59 260 206 53 56 12 1 22 52 6 48 78 .272 .412 .660 1.072 136
2012 18 -1.4 Rangers Rk 43 193 150 44 44 10 1 18 43 6 37 52 .293 .435 .733 1.169 110
2012 18 -3.1 Spokane A- 16 67 56 9 12 2 0 4 9 0 11 26 .214 .343 .464 .808 26
2013 19 -2.5 2 Teams A-Rk 111 467 411 86 103 23 5 40 88 15 50 172 .251 .338 .623 .961 256
2013 19 -0.7 Rangers Rk 5 21 19 4 7 4 0 2 10 1 2 7 .368 .429 .895 1.323 17
2013 19 -2.6 Hickory A 106 446 392 82 96 19 5 38 78 14 48 165 .245 .334 .610 .944 239
2014 20 -3.0 Myrtle Beach A+ 24 106 82 24 26 4 2 9 22 0 20 28 .317 .434 .744 1.178 61
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Peter O’Brien, C, New York Yankees

Due to Gary Sanchez being in Double-A, O’Brien was forced to return to the Florida State League, but he hasn’t disappointed, posting solid power numbers in Tampa, though, he is a bit old for the league at this point. O’Brien’s ability to hit for power should make him a decent option for, at least, a backup catching spot. He’d likely have a better career than J.P. Arencibia, who could hit for power and couldn’t walk at the same clip that O’Brien has over his brief career. If he continues to hit like he has, the Yankees may move him off of catcher or use him as trade bait.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 21 -0.0 2 Teams A–Rk 52 227 212 29 45 10 0 10 34 0 10 62 .212 .256 .401 .656 85
2012 21 1.3 Yankees Rk 4 14 14 2 5 2 0 0 2 0 0 1 .357 .357 .500 .857 7
2012 21 -0.1 Staten Island A- 48 213 198 27 40 8 0 10 32 0 10 61 .202 .249 .394 .643 78
2013 22 -0.3 2 Teams A+-A 119 506 447 78 130 39 4 22 96 0 41 134 .291 .350 .544 .893 243
2013 22 0.4 Charleston A 53 226 194 47 63 22 1 11 41 0 22 58 .325 .394 .619 1.012 120
2013 22 -0.8 Tampa A+ 66 280 253 31 67 17 3 11 55 0 19 76 .265 .314 .486 .800 123
2014 23 0.3 Tampa A+ 24 97 91 16 30 8 1 8 16 0 4 22 .330 .361 .703 1.064 64
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Jonathan Rodriguez, 1B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals

Another solid hitter found by the St. Louis Cardinals scouting department out of the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, Rodriguez has handled the corner infield positions throughout his minor league career, but he has only played first in 2014. With Matt Adams ahead of him, another season of solid production will likely make him trade bait for St. Louis. Solid gap power, a solid approach, and good contact skills will make this right-handed bat a decent platoon player in a worst case scenario.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2009 19 -1.0 2 Teams Rk 54 197 165 21 51 13 1 2 22 4 29 32 .309 .421 .436 .858 72
2009 19 -0.6 Cardinals Rk 30 117 97 12 34 8 1 0 15 3 18 14 .351 .462 .454 .915 44
2009 19 -1.6 Johnson City Rk 24 80 68 9 17 5 0 2 7 1 11 18 .250 .363 .412 .774 28
2010 20 -1.1 Batavia A- 69 280 244 46 63 13 5 12 40 3 28 56 .258 .337 .500 .837 122
2011 21 -0.6 Quad Cities A 118 488 394 67 99 27 0 20 70 4 77 109 .251 .389 .472 .861 186
2012 22 -0.8 Palm Beach A+ 64 248 222 24 56 16 0 6 28 2 22 68 .252 .327 .405 .732 90
2013 23 0.2 Palm Beach A+ 126 523 455 71 129 34 1 18 72 21 60 101 .284 .373 .481 .854 219
2014 24 -0.1 Springfield AA 21 91 78 11 27 9 1 4 15 1 11 17 .346 .418 .641 1.059 50
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Ryan Rua, 3B, Texas Rangers

The Rangers system may not be as loaded as it was in years past due to the failure of so many elite prospects in 2013 in Hickory with their huge strikeout numbers, but Rua can’t be grouped in with those players any longer. He is raking in Double-A now, skipping the High-A level with his assignment this season and his brief promotion last year. There seems to be his continued power with early improvements in his plate discipline, and with Adrian Beltre potentially becoming a free agent after 2015 (he has a $16 million vesting option for 2016), Rua could be Gallo to the hot corner in Texas.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2011 21 0.7 2 Teams Rk-A- 52 214 188 43 57 12 5 4 37 10 21 40 .303 .376 .484 .860 91
2011 21 0.9 Rangers Rk 45 186 162 41 52 12 5 3 34 10 20 34 .321 .395 .512 .907 83
2011 21 -0.3 Spokane A- 7 28 26 2 5 0 0 1 3 0 1 6 .192 .250 .308 .558 8
2012 22 0.9 Spokane A- 74 320 280 40 82 16 1 7 43 4 29 64 .293 .368 .432 .800 121
2013 23 0.9 2 Teams A-AA 127 525 453 89 112 26 2 32 91 14 56 115 .247 .347 .525 .872 238
2013 23 1.4 Hickory A 104 430 367 70 92 24 1 29 82 13 49 91 .251 .356 .559 .914 205
2013 23 -1.0 Frisco AA 23 95 86 19 20 2 1 3 9 1 7 24 .233 .305 .384 .689 33
2014 24 -0.1 Frisco AA 24 93 81 12 29 6 0 6 15 1 11 13 .358 .441 .654 1.095 53
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Mookie Betts, 2B, Boston Red Sox

Betts is already nothing more than trade bait in Boston, given that he profiles as a second baseman and Dustin Pedroia has that spot locked down through 2021. Betts has incredible bat-to-ball skills, tremendous plate discipline, and solid speed. With his early-season production in Double-A at the age of 21, the Red Sox may be able to utilize this chip for an elite addition if they are making another playoff run in 2014.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2011 18 -2.0 Red Sox Rk 1 4 4 0 2 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 2
2012 19 -2.1 Lowell A- 71 292 251 34 67 8 1 0 31 20 32 30 .267 .352 .307 .658 77
2013 20 -2.1 2 Teams A-A+ 127 551 462 93 145 36 4 15 65 38 81 57 .314 .417 .506 .923 234
2013 20 -1.6 Greenville A 76 340 277 63 82 24 1 8 26 18 58 40 .296 .418 .477 .895 132
2013 20 -2.8 Salem A+ 51 211 185 30 63 12 3 7 39 20 23 17 .341 .414 .551 .966 102
2014 21 -3.6 Portland AA 22 106 93 30 40 10 1 4 13 10 11 8 .430 .481 .688 1.169 64
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.
Mariners OF Jabari Blash

Mariners OF Jabari Blash

 

Jabari Blash, OF, Seattle Mariners

I love this guy’s name and he has some intriguing tools that could even play in Seattle. His plate discipline isn’t elite, but there is enough there to be , and he has enough power and speed in his 6’5″ frame to be a very good producer, and, after being selected three times in the draft, he must have something in his game to make him an intriguing name to follow.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2010 20 -0.8 Pulaski Rk 32 127 109 21 29 6 1 5 20 1 13 44 .266 .362 .477 .839 52
2011 21 -0.4 2 Teams A–A 99 391 319 39 84 21 4 14 56 15 66 108 .263 .396 .486 .882 155
2011 21 -0.3 Everett A- 57 229 195 26 57 16 3 11 43 10 28 65 .292 .393 .574 .967 112
2011 21 -0.6 Clinton A 42 162 124 13 27 5 1 3 13 5 38 43 .218 .401 .347 .748 43
2012 22 0.4 Clinton A 113 471 400 71 98 20 5 15 50 13 60 134 .245 .355 .433 .787 173
2013 23 -0.2 2 Teams A+-AA 109 452 380 55 103 19 3 25 74 15 60 113 .271 .381 .534 .915 203
2013 23 0.1 High Desert A+ 80 332 283 42 73 16 3 16 53 14 40 85 .258 .358 .505 .864 143
2013 23 -1.2 Jackson AA 29 120 97 13 30 3 0 9 21 1 20 28 .309 .442 .619 1.060 60
2014 24 -0.6 2 Teams AA-AAA 26 115 89 19 22 6 0 5 20 4 22 25 .247 .400 .483 .883 43
2014 24 -0.5 Jackson AA 25 110 84 19 22 6 0 5 20 4 22 24 .262 .418 .512 .930 43
2014 24 -2.7 Tacoma AAA 1 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2014.

Vladimir Guerrero: Overlooked Greatness

Guerrero3Vladimir Guerrero arrived in Major League Baseball for good on May 3, 1997, after having a cup of coffee in September of 1996, becoming an instant success for the Montreal Expos at the age of 22, posting an .833 OPS over his first 354 plate appearances, finishing sixth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting (Scott Rolen won the award that season). In 1998, Guerrero became a superstar, posting a .960 OPS and a 150 OPS+, the first of ten straight years with an OPS above .900 and eleven straight years with an OPS+ of 130 or higher.

From 1998 through 2008, Guerrero was one of the top players in baseball, ranking 8th in baseball in WAR over those eleven seasons (53.5, courtesy of FanGraphs), ranking behind Hall of Fame worthy producers: Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Scott Rolen, and Derek Jeter. Guerrero made eight All-Star appearances, won seven Silver Slugger awards, and won the 2004 American League MVP, posting a .325/.392/.581 triple-slash (.972 OPS, 149 OPS+) while averaging 35 doubles, 35 home runs, and 112 RBI per season over those eleven seasons.

Guerrero2 ZimbioThe 2009 season seemed to bring the mid-30’s decline that is typical of many non-steroid using baseball players, as Guerrero’s final season with the Los Angeles Angels ended with a .794 OPS and a 107 OPS+ (both the lowest of his career to that point, outside of the 1996 September trial), although much of his sudden decline (Guerrero was 34 for the entire 2009 season) could be attributed to surgery on his right knee in late 2008, followed by two different stints on the disabled list (35 games due to a pectoral muscle strain and 21 games for a calf strain), which resulted in the weaker, end-of-season counting stats.

Suddenly, Guerrero, who was a superstar for a decade prior to the 2009, injury-plagued season, was a free agent at the age of 35, and he was offered a one-year contract for the 2010 season with the Texas Rangers (with an option for the 2011 season) to be the club’s primary designated hitter. Guerrero, a star for such a long period of time, had to wait until January for his one-year deal from Texas, and the Rangers were rewarded for their $5.5 million deal, as Guerrero posted a .300/.345/.496 triple-slash (.841 OPS) with 27 doubles, 29 home runs, and 115 RBI, earning his ninth and final All-Star appearance and his eighth and final Silver Slugger, helping to lead the Rangers to the World Series, where they would lose to the San Francisco Giants in five games.

You would think that the Rangers would pick up Guerrero’s 2011 option, but that was not the case. His $9 million option was declined, Guerrero received a $1 million buyout and he headed to free agency, as the Rangers rolled with Michael Young and Mike Napoli as options at designated hitter in 2011.

Guerrero would wait until February for a contract offer for 2011, inking a one-year, $8 million deal ($3 million of which was deferred) with the Baltimore Orioles. The 2011 season was quite a disappointment for Guerrero, as he posted a .733 OPS and a 98 OPS+ despite posting the highest contact rate since 2006 (82.1 percent). The ball just didn’t seem to drop right, or over the fence, as Guerrero finished with just 13 home runs and 63 RBI, and a career-low .126 ISO and 2.9 percent walk rate.

While Guerrero’s production had slipped, was it worthy of resulting in his career ending?

After not signing with a team over the winter, Guerrero eventually took a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays on May 11, 2012, earning a prorated $1.3 million deal (based on time spent in the majors). Guerrero spent all of one month and 12 games in the minors for Toronto, posting a .358/.364/.679 triple-slash with three doubles, four home runs, 12 RBI, and a 2:0 K:BB in 55 plate appearances, before his ultimatum to be promoted resulted in his release. Guerrero’s production wasn’t enough to force Edwin Encarnacion (who was enjoying a breakout season that ended with a career-high .941 OPS and 42 home runs) to first base and Adam Lind (who had a nice 2013 but had a .729 OPS in 2012) to the bench.

Since that point, Guerrero was rumored to be seeking employment, potentially with the independent Long Island Ducks, prior to announcing his retirement from baseball on September 13, 2013.

Guerrero4Guerrero’s career was basically over at the age of 36, which is shocking when you consider that Jason Giambi was still rostered by both the Colorado Rockies and the Cleveland Indians in 2012 and 2013, actually receiving over 300 plate appearances, combined, at the age of 41 and 42. There aren’t many who were or are expecting Guerrero to have a Raul Ibanez-like aging renaissance period, but even with negative defensive value, he would seem to be a more appropriate designated hitter than the likes of Travis Hafner, Luke Scott, and Carlos Pena, all of whom failed to produce while receiving over 150 plate appearances in 2013. Looking at Guerrero’s resume, you’d think that he would warrant a look more than those players. Perhaps it is the fact that he is a right-handed hitter and the others are left-handed bats? With so few players around Major League Baseball who are capable of reaching 25 to 30 home runs, someone with Guerrero’s ability to make contact and provide some right-handed power, even with the ugliest of swings, is worth something in the current swing and miss era of offensive production.

Jay Jaffe, a Hall of Fame guru who writes for Sports Illustrated’s MLB blog The Strike Zone, had this to say in a recent article after Guerrero’s retirement:

Given a ballot logjam that among outfielders could include Raines (who would be in his 10th year of eligibility), Walker (seventh year), Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa (both in their fifth year), Ken Griffey Jr. (if he doesn’t make it in on the first ballot in 2016), Luis Gonzalez (fourth year), Jim Edmonds (second year), Sheffield and Manny Ramirez (both also debuting) and more, Guerrero’s candidacy will have to battle for attention and space. Unlike many of the aforementioned, he has no known connection to performance-enhancing drugs, but like them, he put up his big numbers in an offense-happy era. As Raines and Walker have shown, the Expos’ disappearance is no boon to a candidate. On the other hand, like previously elected Montreal predecessors Andre Dawson and Gary Carter, Guerrero played the second half of his career in a larger media market, which could make up for some of that.

Ultimately, Guererro’s electrifying style went beyond sheer numbers, and I suspect he’ll build enough support among voters to attain his bronze plaque. As a player who made the hair on the back of peoples’ necks stand up, he won’t soon be forgotten.

Guerrero5Based on Baseball Reference’s Similarity Scores, Guerrero was most similar to Jeff Bagwell, Larry Walker, Albert Pujols, and Todd Helton, as well as Hall of Fame players Jim Rice, Willie Stargell, Billy Williams, and Duke Snider. His career was full of seasons that were most similar to those of Willie Mays, Manny Ramirez, Snider, Gary Sheffield, and Rafael Palmeiro as he aged, which should make you wonder how there is any doubt whatsoever as to whether or not he should be enshrined in Cooperstown. As Jaffe mentioned, Guerrero was not linked to performance-enhancing drug use, but with the PED-era being shutout of the Hall of Fame by many within the Baseball Writers Association of America, it could take several ballots for Guerrero to be seriously considered.

Jaffe is widely known for his JAWS system of ranking players. JAWS is described at Baseball-Reference.com, where the data is held and easily accessible, as a means to measure a player’s Hall of Fame worthiness by comparing him to the players at his position who are already enshrined, using advanced metrics to account for the wide variations in offensive levels that have occurred throughout the game’s history. I asked Jaffe a few questions in regards to his JAWS system and his thoughts on Guerrero when compared to similar players from his era, and how his body of work holds up comparatively.

Can you give a little bit of background on JAWS and how you came up with it or why? How long did you work on it before it was perfected?

Though it didn’t bear the name at the time, the system that became JAWS debuted at Baseball Prospectus in January 2004. The currency was BP’s Wins Above Replacement Player, and along with career WARP, I defined the peak as a player’s best five consecutive seasons, with allowances made for injuries and military service on a case-by-case basis. The JAWS name arrived in December 2004, as I looked at the 2005 ballot. By the time of the 2006 ballot, I had switched to defining peak as a player’s best seven seasons overall, which allowed for a more automated process (believe it or not, I hand-cranked the scores for all Hall of Famers in my first two years). 

For the 2013 ballot, I switched from BP’s WARP to Baseball-Reference.com’s version of Wins Above Replacement, in part because BP’s pre-1950 advanced stats remained unpublished, and in part because B-Ref’s Sean Forman agreed to feature it on his site, creating cool leaderboards and featuring the scores on every player page. Who could pass that up?

I was thinking about Vladimir Guerrero recently and I went to see where he ranks all-time in JAWS and I was surprised to see that he was the 22nd ranked RF in baseball history. His career ended pretty abruptly, although there haven’t been many rumors of PED use in his case, he could be getting lumped in with the whole Steroid Era, just as Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell seem to be. A big surprise, to me at least, was that Larry Walker ranked 10th among RF all-time. Obviously, with a very crowded ballot, Walker saw his Hall of Fame vote drop from 21.6% in 2013 to 10.2% in 2014. With Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and the other holdovers, it looks like it could be some time before Walker gets the nod, and Guerrero is likely to join him on the ballot during that time…In my observations, Guerrero seemed like the better player, and I wasn’t sure if Walker’s production was aided by the thin air of the pre-humidor Coor’s Field. What is it, in JAWS or your opinion that separates these two players?

Baserunning and defense, mostly. You can actually see it itemized on each player’s B-Ref page, in the Player Value section. All numbers refer to runs above or below average (they’re converted relative to replacement level later on in the process):  

Rbat (batting): Walker 418, Vlad 433

Rbaser (baserunning): Walker 40, Vlad −3 

Rdp (avoiding double plays): Walker 10, Vlad −17

Rfield (fielding): Walker 94, Vlad 7 

Rpos (positional adjustments): Walker −75, Vlad −114 

Larry  Walker

Larry Walker

Purely as a hitter, Vlad was slightly more productive, albeit over 1,029 more career plate appearances — that’s even after adjusting for park and league scoring environments. Having said that, Walker’s 21-point edge in on-base percentage made him a slightly more productive hitter on a rate basis even after the air is taken out of his stats. 

Meanwhile, Walker has a 43-run edge on the bases, a 27-run edge when it came to avoiding GIDPs (thanks to his speed and situational hitting ability) and an 87-run edge as a fielder. What’s more, while both generally played right field, which requires a −7.5 run per year positional adjustment, Vlad’s time as a DH requires a requires a −15 run per year adjustment.  

In all, the two were of comparable offensive value in their careers (62.2 oWAR for Walker, 59.0 oWAR for Vlad), but the former’s defensive value (dWAR) was +1.5 wins, the latter’s was −10.7, in other words about a 12-win difference. 

Guerrero is also behind Ichiro Suzuki and Bobby Abreu in JAWS. How much of a player’s value comes from defensive skills and base-running here?

Well, it can differ greatly from player to player. Obviously, Vlad didn’t accumulate much positive value in those categories, while Abreu had some, and Ichiro had outstanding value there (+62 Rbase, +106 Rfield) but much less as a hitter (+119 Rbat).

Is Vlad Guerrero a HOFer? Larry Walker? Bobby Abreu? Ichiro?

I believe both Ichiro and Walker are worthy of the Hall of Fame. I’m less sold on Vlad than I think the general electorate may be. I wouldn’t be surprised if he eventually gets in, nor would I be disappointed – at least unless Walker doesn’t get in, which appears to be the way things are heading. I’m just not going to be the guy who waves the flag for Vlad. 

Why do you think that Guerrero isn’t receiving much interest over the last several years when Jason Giambi was rostered for a full season and produced in Cleveland after admitting his prior PED use? The same goes for Abreu…

Guerrero’s physical decline turned him into a part-time DH in his early 30s (208 games there from age 31-34, compared to 335 in the field) and a full-time DH by his mid-30s. Increasingly, we’ve seen fewer and fewer teams willing to roster such players because they tend to be high-salaried without contributing a whole lot. When you look at Vlad’s career, you can see that he was worth just 3.2 WAR over those final three years, that while making around $28 million. That’s not an acceptable return on investment for most teams, and in the drive towards rational spending, he became a victim. I’m not sure how much of his complete disappearance from the majors after his age 36 season owes to an unwillingness to accept a lower salary or a part-time role, but I’ll bet it was a big factor. Giambi, by comparison, has really embraced that role and become a managerial candidate.

From the standpoint of being a Hall of Fame candidate, guys whose careers end in their mid-30’s face an uphill climb because their career totals are generally low. Vlad’s less so – 2,590 hits and 449 homers are Hall of Fame numbers if they come from an earlier era — but had he stuck around a couple more years in better health, 3,000 and 500 might have been attainable.

As for Abreu, his defensive woes and declining power probably trimmed a couple of years off his career, too. Sadly, I don’t think he has an ice cube’s chance in hell of making the Hall because his plate discipline and speed were so under appreciated. Despite a very similar oWAR/dWAR breakdown to Vlad (60.4/-10.6), he only made two All-Star teams to Guerrero’s nine! 

Jaffe’s explanation was very valuable in showing the differences between the players, and the fact that he took time out of his schedule to answer those questions for me was really cool for a lowly blogger like myself and it is much appreciated. Regardless, something that wasn’t factored into the questions or responses that is another useful statistic in detailing the differences between Walker and Guerrero, specifically, was the player’s OPS+ and wRC+, which factors in park effects. Walker finished with a career OPS+ of 141 and wRC+ of 140 and Guerrero finished with a career OPS+ of 140 and wRC+ of 136, another example of their offensive resemblances. Guerrero and Walker will remain similar in production comparisons due to their numbers not reaching the Hall of Fame lock-in plateaus of 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, and despite the defensive and base running differences, the two may be lumped together for several years on the ballot while the writers pick apart their resumes.

Guerrero1Vladimir Guerrero was a tremendous player who passed the eye-test of this blogger. While he didn’t have the counting stats of the juicers, he was certainly no less gifted and talented. So many superstars will be bypassed for Cooperstown enshrinement over the next decade due to the actions of others during their playing careers, and, just as Jaffe predicted, there will likely be a day when Larry Walker, Ichiro Suzuki, and Vladimir Guerrero are rewarded with their plaques by the required vote. When the baseball writers begin picking apart the numbers, I hope that they don’t continue to overlook just how special Guerrero was during his career peak, as we look back on a career that was magnificent for so long and faded off to retirement largely unnoticed by many. No team. No press conferences. A sad goodbye to a great player.

Follow Jay Jaffe on Twitter

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Learn more about JAWS

Pretend GM: Signings and Trades That Should Be Made

With the big signing of Masahiro Tanaka by the New York Yankees on Wednesday, the market for free agency and trades could explode over the next several days. With that in mind, I was thinking about some deals that would make tremendous sense for several teams…although, they could just make sense to me. Regardless, here are some deals that I’d like to see made over the next few weeks before pitchers and catchers report.

Cincinnati Reds Trade Brandon Phillips to the New York Yankees for Brett Gardner

PhillipsWhy This Trade Makes Sense: The Yankees clearly want to get back to the top, as their $155 million investment in Tanaka showed. With Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson, and Scott Sizemore as the current options at second base, New York could use a more reliable name to replace Robinson Cano. While the Reds don’t have an immediate replacement ready for Phillips (outside of Henry Rodriguez or another position change for Billy Hamilton), they need to clear some payroll in order to lock up Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, and Mike Leake, all of whom are eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, as well as Homer Bailey, who will be a free agent after the 2014 season. Phillips, who is due $50 million over the next four years, could be a bargain based on the current market, while his ability to play defensively at an elite level will provide quite a bit of value, as well. Gardner is unlikely to provide the on-base skills that Shin-Soo Choo provided last season in Cincinnati, but he would provide elite-level defensive skills, speed, and solid on-base skills (career OBP of .352). Gardner, earning $5.6 million in 2014 prior to reaching free agency after the season, would be an upgrade over a 2014 version of Hamilton, while providing quite a bit of financial flexibility to shore up the rotation for the coming seasons in Cincinnati. Even if Cincinnati had to chip in $10 million in salary relief, it would be an interesting deal for both clubs.

Baltimore Orioles Sign A.J. Burnett to a one-year, $14 million deal

burnettWhy This Signing Makes Sense: In 2012, the Baltimore Orioles surprised the world by contending and finishing 2nd in the AL East with 93 wins. In 2013, there was a slight regression, as the team dipped to 85 wins after doing very little over the offseason. The Orioles have been very active in the minor league free agent market this winter, but they could use a splash, and Burnett would be a tremendous addition to the club’s rotation. Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Bud Norris, and Kevin Gausman make a good, young rotation, but Burnett would be the anchor for the staff, and his presence would allow the club to move Norris to a (more appropriate) bullpen role. Burnett is from Maryland and he has been rumored to be retiring if he doesn’t re-sign with Pittsburgh, but Baltimore is close to home and he can keep his wife happy, and the spare change for one year would be worth it for both sides. Burnett rebuilt his value with two tremendous seasons with the Pirates, and he is worth a one-year deal for Baltimore for another shot at the AL East for the tattooed right-hander. Sure, it seems like it is going to be Pittsburgh or bust, but the Orioles are contenders with a healthy Manny Machado and consistent production from Adam Jones, Chris Davis, and Matt Wieters – the O’s need to do their due diligence here.

Toronto Blue Jays Sign Matt Garza to a five-year, $60 million deal (I know he was rumored to have signed with Milwaukee for four-years, $52 million pending a physical, but it isn’t official…yet)

GarzaWhy This Signing Makes Sense: The Jays need another solid option in their rotation to compliment R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, and Brandon Morrow, so that their offense isn’t wasted on sloppy rotation options like Esmil Rogers, Ramon Ortiz, Aaron Laffey, and Rickey Romero, who combined to make 27 starts last season. While Garza has some injury concerns, the Blue Jays have already given him a dynamic weapon – Dioner Navarro. With Navarro as his catcher, Garza has logged 338.1 innings and managed a 3.25 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP, while Garza has posted a 4.07 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP with anyone else behind the dish. While there is risk involved due to Garza spending 170 team games on the disabled list the last three seasons with right shoulder and elbow injuries, the Jays need a pitcher who is capable of pitching in the AL East (Garza has done it before), can toss 180 or more innings (Garza has done it four times), and would be a significant upgrade over Rogers, Todd Redmond, and J.A. Happ, while the club waits for Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Alberto Tirado, Daniel Norris, and Sean Nolin to reach the majors. Garza may not be a number one starter, but he is a strong number two or three option on a club that should compete with an absolutely loaded offensive group.

Philadelphia Phillies Sign Ubaldo Jimenez to a five-year, $85 million deal

Why This Signing Makes Sense: The Phillies first round pick, seventh overall, is protected, so while Jimenez would require draft-pick compensation, it would only be a second round pick going to Cleveland for Jimenez. After a tremendous second half in 2013 (1.82 ERA, 1.14 WHIP over 84 innings), Jimenez rebuilt his value, and, at the age of 30, would be a solid right-handed option for the Phillies to place between Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. Jimenez has had some success during his career in the NL East:

I Split W L ERA GS GF CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
Atlanta Braves 3 5 3.79 9 0 1 1 54.2 47 25 23 6 28 66 1.372 10.9 2.36
Miami Marlins 1 2 4.07 5 0 0 0 24.1 23 19 11 1 16 31 1.603 11.5 1.94
New York Mets 2 3 3.40 6 0 0 0 39.2 27 15 15 4 21 29 1.210 6.6 1.38
Washington Nationals 5 1 2.61 7 0 0 0 48.1 39 14 14 1 16 36 1.138 6.7 2.25
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/22/2014.

For those who don’t want to do the math, Jimenez is 11-11 with a 3.39 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and a 162:81 K:BB over 167 innings and 27 starts, and while that isn’t perfect, especially in a ballpark that is more favorable to hitters, Jimenez should, at least, be worth the money as an innings eater if he isn’t elite like he was in the second half of 2013. The Phillies may not be contenders, but they’ll always be spenders. They don’t have any arms ready in their system and Jimenez would be a huge upgrade over Roberto Hernandez and Ethan Martin, who appear to be options for the rotation currently.

Oakland Athletics Sign Nelson Cruz to a three-year, $27 million deal

Why This Signing Makes Sense: The Cruz market appears nearly dead after there was draft-pick compensation added to a PED suspension, but Cruz is still just 33 and he is coming off of an All-Star season with solid production (27 home runs and 76 RBI in just 109 games). With very little interest and risk involved, it’s the perfect opportunity for Oakland to swoop in and make an interesting signing. While the club has some solid right-handed pop in Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Donaldson, the remainder of the lineup is filled with left-handed hitters, including Josh Reddick, Eric Sogard, Brandon Moss, as well as switch-hitters Coco Crisp and Jed Lowrie. Another right-handed, middle-of-the-order bat would be a tremendous addition, as Reddick or Moss could sandwich between Cruz and Cespedes, providing quite a bit of value and production for a team that struggles to find offense in a cavernous home ballpark. However, Cruz has struggled in Oakland, posting a .192/.248/.352 triple-slash in 202 career plate appearances there. The late first round pick and discounted contract, though, could be enough to overlook his struggles, while providing a little more punch to the Oakland lineup.

Texas Rangers Sign Bronson Arroyo to a two-year, $24 million deal

ArroyoWhy This Signing Makes Sense: Arroyo has been homer prone in the past and doesn’t have the stuff to avoid bats, but he has averaged 211 innings pitched over the last nine seasons and is someone whom the Rangers could count on with Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison coming back from injuries and Derek Holland on the shelf until mid-2014. Arroyo survived in a bandbox in Cincinnati over the last eight seasons, so he would be just as likely to post 200-plus innings and an ERA around 4.00 in Texas, especially with spacious ballparks like those in Seattle, Oakland, and Anaheim within the division. There isn’t draft-pick compensation tied to Arroyo, and with Masahiro Tanaka gone and no real hope of acquiring David Price in a trade, the Rangers just need five starting pitchers, and Arroyo is a nice, reliable addition for the middle or back-end of the Texas rotation.

Atlanta Braves Trade Alex Wood to the New York Yankees for Gary Sanchez

Why This Trade Makes Sense: C.C. Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, and Hiroki Kuroda make a great top three and Ivan Nova showed drastic improvements last season, but the Yankees are relying on David Phelps, Michael Pineda, Adam Warren, and Manny Banuelos at the back of the rotation in 2014. While Alex Wood has one of the more violent deliveries you’ll ever see, he has solid stuff and is ready to be productive immediately in a major league rotation. With Brandon Beachy healthy and David Hale and Gavin Floyd capable of filling the back of the Braves rotation, Wood could be expendable for Atlanta to seek a long-term option at catcher with the departure of Brian McCann to the Yankees via free agency. Evan Gattis has a lot of power and Christian Bethancourt has tremendous defensive skills, but neither seem like strong options as an everyday catcher for Atlanta. While Sanchez still needs some seasoning and he could use a change of scenery due to his makeup and maturity concerns, the Braves have several upcoming arms, as usual, and they have a long-term need at catcher. Sanchez could be the answer and the eventual elbow surgery that Wood will need is worth this type of deal for Atlanta, and the production that the Yankees get out of Wood could be useful, as well.

The Hot Stove Has Caught On Fire

It certainly hasn’t taken long for teams to begin dishing out large contracts that they’ll probably regret in a couple of years with free agency well under way. However, the last 24 to 48 hours have supplied the greatest number of gifts, with a lot of examples of “huh”, “why”, “seriously”, and “come again” worthy reactions.

The Trades

The Doug Fister Trade

Detroit Tigers get: 2B Steve Lombardozzi, LHP Ian Krol, and LHP Robbie Ray

Washington Nationals get: RHP Doug Fister

FisterIt has to be called the Doug Fister trade because no one really cares about any of the players that the Tigers got back, right? If this wasn’t a total salary dump, I don’t know what it was, as the “prize” return for the Tigers is Ray, who was a 10th round pick in 2010 and had a 6.56 ERA in 2012 in his first attempt at High-A Potomac before bouncing back and having a solid season between High-A and Double-A in 2013, really doesn’t seem like a tremendous prospect; though, we have been proven wrong by Dave Dombrowski before. After the Tampa Bay Rays received one of the top young prospects in baseball, Wil Myers, in return for two controllable seasons of James Shields, you would think that the Tigers could have received more for Fister, who had managed to post an impressive 32-20 record to go along with a 3.29 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 440.2 innings with Detroit. Fister now joins Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, and Gio Gonzalez within the Washington rotation, making the Nationals strong contenders for first-year manager Matt Williams in 2014.

Winner: Washington Nationals.

Smelling Fowler

Houston Astros get: CF Dexter Fowler

Colorado Rockies get: RHP Jordan Lyles and OF Brandon Barnes

Fowler1Fowler seemed to be on the trading block for some time, but he was finally dealt on Tuesday. The Astros get two affordable seasons (two-years, $11.6 million) of Fowler while they wait for George Springer to prove himself ready, or…they just acquired a nicer trade chip than what they gave up. Jordan Lyles may still be just 23 years old, but he hasn’t put it together in 377 major league innings, posting a 5.35 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, and a 6.2 K/9, and it seems very unlikely that shifting to Coor’s Field is going to assist his progression to sudden success. Brandon Barnes has some ability, but it isn’t as an everyday player, as his atrocious 127:21 K:BB and .635 OPS over 445 plate appearances goes to show. Barnes could be a fourth outfielder for the Rockies, with Carlos Gonzalez sliding over to center and Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson battling it out for the left field job, or Colorado could look to free agency to upgrade in center. This deal didn’t make a whole lot of sense for the Rockies unless they saw something in Lyles and didn’t feel that Fowler would ever live up to his hot start from 2013, when he posted a 1.032 OPS and then fell off of the face of the earth. Even if Fowler doesn’t live up to those numbers, he is the most valuable piece in the deal.

Winner: Houston Astros.

The Unimpressive Three-Way

Cincinnati Reds get: LHP David Holmberg.

Tampa Bay Rays get: RHP Heath Bell and cash from Arizona, and C Ryan Hanigan from Cincinnati.

Arizona Diamondbacks get: RHP Justin Choate and a PTBNL

The Rays are always viewed as a smart club and they were able to land another potential closer after losing Fernando Rodney to free agency, leaving the club with Heath Bell and Juan Carlos Oviedo to battle it out for the gig. On top of that, they received an excellent framing catcher in Hanigan, who has proved to be quite valuable to Cincinnati over the last several years in game-calling, while inking the backstop to a three-year extension upon the completion of the deal. The bad part, though, is that both Bell and Hanigan weren’t very good last season, with Hanigan, in particular, looking like a nightmare offensively, posting a .198/.306/.261 line over 260 plate appearances, leading to the Reds leaning on Brayan Pena, who was signed to a two-year deal earlier this winter, and Devin Mesoraco, the young, power-hitting catcher who will finally get a full-time look in Cincinnati. The Diamondbacks dumped some salary while dealing Bell for a young, breathing body. Choate pitched in the New York-Penn League in 2013 at the age of 22 and he isn’t much of a prospect. The Reds dumped Hanigan, who was arbitration-eligible, while getting a 22-year-old left-handed starter, who posted a 2.75 ERA in 26 Double-A starts in 2013 with a 116:50 K:BB in 157.1 innings. While Holmberg wasn’t as sexy as Tyler Skaggs or Archie Bradley within the Diamondbacks system, he could become a solid back of the rotation arm or a Sean Marshall-like relief pitcher for the Reds. The good news for Cincinnati is that Mesoraco gets his shot and Holmberg adds some near-ready pitching depth after the likely departure of Bronson Arroyo via free agency.

Winner: Everyone looks like a winner here, as the deal worked well for all three teams, but the Rays received the most help in assisting the team win in 2013.

Why Did Beane Make That (Michael) Choice?

Texas Rangers get: OF Michael Choice and 2B Chris Bostick

Oakland A’s get: OF Craig Gentry and RHP Josh Lindblom

ChoiceThis seemed like an odd deal for Oakland and GM Billy Beane, as Gentry is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and Lindblom has been pretty terrible since being traded from the Dodgers to the Phillies in the 2012 Shane Victorino deal, as he has posted a 5.10 ERA and 1.50 WHIP over 54.2 innings since leaving Los Angeles (2.91 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 77.1 innings prior to the trade). Maybe a return to the west coast is what Lindblom needs to be a useful reliever, but by getting the elite defensive skills and increasing salary of the light-hitting (.280/.355/.366 in 763 plate appearances), 29-year-old Gentry, and giving up the potential that still exists in the bat of Michael Choice, who is 24 and isn’t arbitration-eligible until 2017, Beane showed that he may be looking beyond three years from now and that he could be putting the A’s in win-now mode. Bostick is a nice second base prospect, having posted a .282/.354/.452 line over 555 plate appearances as a 20-year-old in Low-A in 2013, but the Rangers have quite a few young, up-the-middle prospects (Rougned Odor, Jurickson Profar, and Luis Sardinas) and they don’t seem to have a need there, while the A’s have run Jemile Weeks out of town in a trade with Baltimore and Eric Sogard was very…meh…in 2013 at the major league level. Winning now is important, but it doesn’t seem like the A’s really acquired anyone who can really help them in 2014 to get over the hump.

Winner: Texas Rangers.

The Free Agent Splashes

The Yankees Spend Like Crazy…Again.

Who They Signed: C Brian McCann (five-years, $85 million); OF Jacoby Ellsbury (seven-years, $153 million);

McCannWhy It Matters: Notice that the Yankees have committed nearly $240 million after having been rumored to be on a mission to avoid the $189 million threshold of the payroll luxury tax, while not having signed their All-Star second baseman, Robinson Cano, just yet. And, don’t forget, the team is rumored to be interested in signing Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who could be had at a lesser amount after the posting fee was limited to a maximum $20 million bid on Wednesday. McCann is a huge upgrade over the combined .213/.289/.298 triple slash that Yankees’ catchers posted in 2013, while Ellsbury provides great defense and speed as the Yankees try to move on from all of the injuries that suffocated their success this past season. Even if the Yankees are done with the big name signings, including Cano, they should be a better team in 2014.

Twinkies Filled Their Rotation

Who Minnesota Signed: RHP Phil Hughes (three-year, $24 million); RHP Ricky Nolasco (four-year, $49 million);

Why It Matters: The Twins starting pitchers posted a 5.26 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP in 2013, worst in the majors, and the ERA was a whopping 0.45 points higher than the Toronto Blue Jays’ starters (4.81), who finished 29th. Hughes still has youth and potential, but he needs to start tapping into that potential after posting a horrific 5.19 ERA over 29 starts and 145.2 innings. Shockingly, Hughes’ numbers would have made him a solid number three starter for the Twins in 2013…they were that bad. Adding Nolasco was special, but he isn’t an ace. He will likely be the Twins’ Opening Day starter in 2014 by default and he should make the rotation slightly better; although, it couldn’t get much worse.

Kazmir Rejuvenates and Cashes In Athletically

Who Oakland Signed: LHP Scott Kazmir (two-year, $22 million)

Why It Matters: Signing Kazmir to a lucrative contract could lead to another movie about the Oakland A’s after the success of Moneyball. While Kazmir’s resurgence was quite surprising, an eight-figure deal, after making all of one total appearance in the majors in 2011 and 2012 due to severe shoulder woes, was even more surprising. Possessing a mid-90’s fastball and a left arm appears to be all that it took to find a big deal. Kazmir’s story is worthy of attention and praise, but it is a story that needs to be monitored to see if he can maintain the same success in Oakland over the next two seasons. His presence will allow the A’s and Beane to shop LHP Brett Anderson at the winter meetings next week, which could net the club some additional win-now resources.

The Tigers No Longer on the Prowl for a Closer

Who Detroit Signed: RHP Joe Nathan (two-year, $20 million)

Why It Matters: Detroit needed a lockdown closer after shuffling through Jose Valverde, Phil Coke, Jose Veras, and Bruce Rondon at closer before Joaquin Benoit took over and did a nice job over the rest of the season. They got their man after signing Joe Nathan away from the Texas Rangers. Nathan closed 80 games out the last two seasons, while posting a 2.09 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, and at 38 years of age, he doesn’t look to be slowing down after missing the 2010 season due to Tommy John surgery. After dealing Prince Fielder to improve at second base with Ian Kinsler, moving Miguel Cabrera back to first, and plugging Drew Smyly into the rotation (after dealing Fister), the Tigers will have a completely new look in 2014. With their strong rotation, Nathan’s shutdown ability makes them quite dangerous.

Fish Hook Their Catcher and the Red Sox Snag Another

Who Miami Signed: C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (three-year, $21 million)

Who Boston Signed: C A.J. Pierzynski (one-year, $8.25 million)

Why It Matters: With a lot of focus heading towards catcher defense and framing, highlighted by the Rays commitments to Jose Molina and Ryan Hanigan this winter, other clubs continue to look towards offensive-minded catchers, and the Miami Marlins and Boston Red Sox locked down their backstops this week. The Marlins seem to have very little hope for a quick turnaround and Saltalamacchia isn’t going to be the other piece to help Giancarlo Stanton and Miami to an NL East title, but it is a start…as long as they don’t trade him before the 2014 season starts. Pierzynski will be on his fifth organization and, despite being hated by some of his competition, he could be a tremendous asset to the character and chemistry that existed within the Boston World Series clubhouse. I guess he is better to have on your team than to play against him.

 

 

Who “Deserves” a Foul Ball?

I’ve been a baseball fan all of my life and I have attended several dozen games over my 32 years, but I’ve never gone to a game and assumed that I was going to catch a foul ball, a home run ball, or have a ball tossed to me from the ball boy or a player. I don’t leave a game disappointed by not taking home a souvenir, and, even when I was younger, I wasn’t ever upset by not acquiring an autograph after waiting near the field prior to the game. I don’t really understand why anyone would feel so entitled to count on getting a single baseball, let alone several baseballs, when going to a baseball game.

Perhaps that idea was ruined by Zack Hample, who has his own blog with MLBlogs and has written several books, a man who has collected over 7,000 baseballs since 1990, and, while he does collect them for charity and gives them to children, the fact that he got 16 balls and gave away four of them at the 9/25 Yankees game shows the selfishness of our culture…charity or not. With all due respect to Hample (which according to Ricky Bobby allows me to say anything here), if I saw someone leaving a game with 12 baseballs, I’d: a) consider him a total tool, b) want to throat punch him, and c) assume that he is douchier than a Costco box of Summer’s Eve.

But I digress. Americans and baseball fans have long left baseball games empty-handed, so why should this happen:


If you’d rather not watch the video, an adult fan caught a baseball and a toddler cried because he didn’t get it. The parents went on ABC’s Good Morning America because of the uproar, encouraged by the audacity of “ball stealers” by the YES Network‘s Michael Kay (if you listen closely to the video), and the kid was rewarded with a jersey AND a baseball signed by the entire Texas Rangers club for his tearful self-loathing over the situation. Do you know what would have happened to my daughter there…we would have left the game because she was crying (because she was obviously acting tired or spoiled rotten, which we may cope with differently than other parents) and she would have understood, through a nice chat, that we were one of 30,000 or more people in the crowd and that not everyone gets a ball. Why should she be any more special than anyone else?

It gets better, though. If you look for reactions from losing foul balls online, you’ll find several fantastic examples. This is another good one:


The child immediately pouts and eventually gets a ball tossed to her mother as she looks on in Milwaukee. Again, the adult was bastardized for “taking” a ball while being in the same location.
But now, this week, we have a fine example of adults going a bit too far:

The evil, evil woman from Houston who stole the ball right out of the little girls hands…and I do mean out of her hands. This one is a legitimate claim to being entitled, as the ball was in her hands and snatched by the adult woman.

Courtesy: Zack Hample, zackhample.mlblogs.com

Courtesy: Zack Hample, zackhample.mlblogs.com

Sure, I may have an issue with how “The Baseball Collector” goes about his business, as he says that he doesn’t run into anyone to get a ball but his own website depicts otherwise, but maybe that man that “took the ball” from that girl in Milwaukee didn’t see her or had been to as many games as I have without ever leaving with a ball. That kid has more time left on this planet to get it done than her elder! Deal with it and try again next time…maybe it won’t take her another 20 years like it did that poor man that apparently has character flaws for intercepting a baseball that he didn’t know was meant for someone else.

All I know is that my child wouldn’t be crying over not getting a baseball. If she did, I would have been embarrassed to go on national television to describe the situation because I would have thought that my kid was acting like a spoiled brat. I want tremendous things for my daughter, but sometimes it is best to let your child actually earn those things. In a society that seems to demand so much for the future of our children, teaching kids that they are entitled to have things such as trophies for participating in a sport and not actually winning or guaranteeing a foul ball when they show up to any baseball game seems to be the wrong approach. They’ll assume they can just ask for everything that they need for the rest of their lives.

Then again…I wouldn’t want my kid to be Zack Hample when they grow up, either.

No one deserves a ball at a baseball game and while the lady in Houston is taking a lot of heat for snatching that ball out of the hands of that little girl, more power to her. Maybe that kid learned a great lesson during that moment…work on your grip strength and know that others could work harder to get what they want.

In Case You Haven’t Noticed…

It’s late in the baseball season and there are a lot of things that could be distracting you, such as following up on Johnny Manziel’s battle with the NCAA, completing your 21 fantasy football drafts, and wondering who will be Ace or Gary when you attend a Halloween party as the Incredibly Gay Duo. While all of those things are important, I present to you the world of baseball that you may have missed due to your fascination of Miley twerking.

  • SorianoYankees’ left fielder Alfonso Soriano leads MLB with 42 RBI and is tied with Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera for the lead in home runs (13) since the All-Star break. The Yankees are 21-16 since Soriano returned to New York and the Yanks are 2.5 games behind Tampa for the second Wild Card spot with 23 games remaining, including seven games against Boston (a four-game series begins today in New York) and three against the Rays.
  • New Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Marlon Byrd is leading the majors in total bases since the All-Star break with 101 (he is tied with teammate Andrew McCutchen and San Diego outfielder Will Venable), and he is tied with Minnesota Twins shortstop Brian Dozier for extra-base hits since the break with 26. Byrd will look to continue his torrid pace in helping lead the Pirates to the NL Central title after the Buccos have already guaranteed their fans with the club’s first winning season since 1992.
  • Washington Nationals’ outfielder Jayson Werth looked like a total waste of a seven-year, $126 million deal after his horrendous first season, 2011, in the nation’s capital, but he has hit .311/.392/.487 over the last two seasons while battling various injuries. If Werth continues his production next season and the Nats get a full, healthy season out of Bryce Harper and their very good pitching staff, the letdown from 2013 will be all forgiven in 2014 with an improved season. Werth, by the way, is 8th in MLB in OPS (.920).
  • Toronto outfielder Rajai Davis doesn’t receive a lot of praise or playing time, but he has 40 stolen bases in just 93 games. With his .313 OBP, Davis has made an appearance on the bases just 93 times in 301 plate appearances. When you take away the two triples and four home runs (since he hasn’t stolen home and he can’t steal a base after a home run), it means that Davis has successfully stolen a base in 46 percent of his appearances on base. With his speed, who needed to wait for Billy Hamilton for an impact base runner?
  • Davis2There are only six players with 30 or more home runs (Chris Davis, Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Pedro Alvarez, Paul Goldschmidt, and Adam Dunn) after 22 players reached the tier in 2012 and 24 players reached in 2011. With 17 players within six homers or reaching 30, and several within that group unlikely to do so (I’m looking at you J.J. Hardy and the injured Domonic Brown), the top-tier of sluggers appears to be a very rare breed with pitching being so dominant.

Speaking of pitching…

  • Max Scherzer is sitting at 19-2, but the names of other starting pitchers ranked near the top in wins is quite surprising: Jorge De La Rosa (16), Francisco Liriano (15), Chris Tillman (15), and Bartolo Colon (14) rank in the top eight in the strange statistic. While some writers will look at the win as valuable in determining who should win the Cy Young, it clearly has little use in determining who has been the best pitcher.
  • It’s somewhat disappointing to see numbers fall with the drop in velocity, but that is exactly what has happened to former Cy Young favorites like Justin Verlander (12-10, 3.59 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) and C.C. Sabathia (13-11, 4.86 ERA, 1.35 WHIP). With the fall from grace, though, has come exciting young arms like Jose Fernandez, Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, and Matt Harvey (R.I.P.). Unfortunately for the aging arms, it doesn’t appear to be getting better, as Sabathia has a 6.88 ERA in the second half, while Verlander has a more respectable 3.77 ERA since the break.
  • FernandezSpeaking of those young arms and specifically Jose Fernandez, the young, Cuban-born right-hander has been filthy in the second half. His 0.83 WHIP is tops among all starting pitchers and the 70:13 K:BB in 54 innings is downright nasty. With the Marlins possibly looking to deal their only source of offense, Giancarlo Stanton, this winter, Fernandez will likely continue to post ridiculous numbers without wins going forward, although he has won five games since the break.
  • For all of those still sitting back and waiting for Chris Sale‘s arm to explode, it hasn’t happened. The White Sox ace has been even better in 2013 than he was last season, posting a 2.97 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP while improving his strikeout rate AND his walk rate on a per nine inning basis. After being locked up for five-years, $32.5 million (with team options totalling $26 million over 2018 and 2019), the Pale Hose look very wise in their string-bean investment.
  • R.A. Dickey‘s knuckleball didn’t carry over to the AL East. The veteran right-hander has a 4.30 ERA and 1.27 WHIP after posting a 2.95 ERA and 1.15 WHIP from 2010 through 2012 with the New York Mets. The small parks, the strong teams, and the patient hitters are all a factor in the decline, but when you don’t really know which way the ball is going when using a trick pitch, that kind of makes things difficult, too.
  • DarvishYu Darvish is having an absolutely stupid season. He leads MLB with his 12.0 K/9 and he has struck out 240 of the 722 batters that he has faced (33.2 percent). While some Cy Young voters will look at Scherzer’s 19 wins and look stupid years from now, it is the unhittable Darvish, who has allowed 124 hits in 179.2 innings and a .192 BAA, who deserves the award.

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

MAGDanny Knobler of CBS Sports reported that 45 scouts were on hand for the start by Cuban defector Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez in the Mexican League for the Tijuana Toros. Knobler added that Gonzalez could get anywhere from $40 million to $60 million once he is cleared by the US Treasury Department, which will allow him to negotiate; although, he is already a free agent.

After watching the offensive explosions of Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig, several MLB teams will likely be leaping at the chance to find the next Cuban sensation, and the fact that Gonzalez won’t count against team’s International signing pool will lead to a bidding war. This is due to the fact that Gonzalez is older than 23  and he has played in Cuba‘s top league for three seasons.

Gonzalez is a 26-year-old right-handed pitcher. At 6’3″, he has a solid build to go with his mid-90’s fastball, hard curve, forkball, and changeup. He had been suspended the last two seasons for trying to defect once before from Cuba, so his level of competition and total readiness may become a factor in his final offer.

MAG1

Gonzalez seems like a legitimate prospect that has the tools to thrive in MLB. While the investment required would seem to be overwhelming for many in the baseball community, having seen the recent success of Aroldis Chapman, Puig, Cespedes, Cubs minor leaguer Jorge Soler, and Orioles minor leaguer Henry Urrutia, the teams capable of making the financial commitment (Dodgers, Cubs, Rangers, and Red Sox) will find this as a risk worth taking.

dollarsigneyesGonzalez struck out six of the nine batters he faced over three innings in his first start for Tijuana. With continued success in his throwing showcases, it will be easy to see the dollar signs in the eyes of teams and the agent.

 
//

Promotion Worthy Prospects

After Miguel Sano was promoted to Double-A on Sunday by the Minnesota Twins, it brought to mind several other prospects who deserve a promotion due to their dominance at their current level. Below, you’ll find ten prospects who need or deserve a bigger challenge:

StephensonRobert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

Year Age Tm Lg Aff W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2013 20 Dayton MIDW CIN 5 3 2.97 12 66.2 52 25 22 4 17 85 1.035 7.0 2.3 11.5 5.00
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/12/2013.

When you see that 2.97 ERA, some would say that isn’t as dominant as what guys like Dylan Bundy or Archie Bradley have posted over the last two seasons; however, Stephenson has been absolutely dominant over his last six starts, posting a 0.98 ERA, a 0.65 WHIP, and a 50:5 K:BB over 36.2 innings. That is redefining dominance. Stephenson has now made 20 starts for Low-A Dayton and the only thing holding him back from a promotion seems to be the fact that he would be heading to the California League if he was promoted to the next level. The Reds could challenge him and see how he does, they did put Tony Cingrani there in 2012 (where he dominated), or move him straight to Double-A next year, similar to what they did with Daniel Corcino in 2012. Regardless, Stephenson looks like the Reds new top prospect, posting numbers that would make Cy Young winners blush.

BaezJavier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs

Year Age Tm Lg Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 20 Daytona FLOR CHC 57 254 230 45 67 17 4 13 44 6 11 60 .291 .339 .570 .908 131
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/12/2013.

Blame it on the four home runs that Baez hit on June 10th or blame it on the fact that his numbers are absolutely insane for a middle infielder…truly, you can blame it on the fact that Starlin Castro looks like a lost puppy, but the Chicago Cubs need to move Javier Baez up to Double-A. Certainly, Baez isn’t perfect. His plate discipline leaves a lot to be desired and he has made 26 errors in 56 games for Daytona, but what he lacks in harnessing moving balls, he makes up for with his tremendous bat speed, power, and overall skills when he actually connects. In eight June games, Baez is hitting .500/.559/1.167 with five home runs and 15 RBI. He’s on fire and he has the talent to be moved quickly. Baez needs to be challenged in Double-A and the Cubs need to see how he handles advanced pitching to help determine whether he could stay at short or move to an outfield corner.

DePaula1Rafael De Paula, RHP, New York Yankees

Year Age Tm Lg Aff W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2013 22 Charleston SALL NYY 6 2 2.43 12 59.1 36 16 16 3 22 91 0.978 5.5 3.3 13.8 4.14
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/12/2013.

The only thing dumber than the Yankees still having De Paula in Low-A at this point, is the fact that society didn’t find a way to stop Kanye West and Kim Kardashian from procreating. De Paula has dominated all season for Charleston, and at the age of 22, he is a man among boys in the Sally League. His 13.8 K:9 is absurd and his mid-90’s fastball is nearly unfair to the over-matched teenagers and organizational depth cesspools of the lower minors. With Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda nearing the end of the road, it is time for the Yankees to be aggressive with another prospect. De Paula needs to be moved to Tampa (High-A) as soon as possible, and, due to his stuff, early dominance, and age, an attempt at Double-A shouldn’t be out of the question.

BuxtonByron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins

Year Age Tm Lg Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 19 Cedar Rapids MIDW MIN 59 274 228 60 78 14 8 7 47 26 39 46 .342 .435 .566 1.001 129
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/12/2013.

It isn’t very often that a 19-year-old in his first full season of professional ball would get moved up a level by July, but the No.2 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft is creating quite a stir in the prospect world. His power, speed, and plate discipline are beyond his years and Buxton appears to be ready for and worthy of a different challenge. The Twins are typically very patient and slow with their prospects, but they’ve already promoted Sano and their major league team (28-33) continues to tread water.

Preston Tucker, OF, Houston Astros

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 22 Lancaster CALL A+ HOU 64 284 253 52 79 17 1 11 58 3 25 37 .312 .373 .518 .891 131
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/12/2013.

The Astros are in a pretty miserable place when it comes to their ability to contend, but they seem to have a tremendous rebuilding plan in place and their recent drafts and trades are perfect examples of what Jeff Luhnow has taken to Houston. They appear to have a nice player in their 2012 7th round pick, a senior signing out of Florida that is showing an excellent approach at the plate in High-A. While Lancaster is a notorious hitter’s paradise, as is most of the California League, the plate discipline, gap power, and consistency (.328 vs. LHP, .307 RHP) are impressive, and he would be a nice addition to Double-A, where he could join…

George Springer, OF, Houston Astros

Year Age Tm Lg Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 23 Corpus Christi TL HOU 61 271 228 51 69 18 0 18 50 18 35 77 .303 .405 .618 1.024 141
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/12/2013.

Springer is also worthy of a promotion within the Houston organization and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he is wearing an Astros’ jersey by the end of the 2013 season; however, with Justin Maxwell coming back from his injury, a promotion to Triple-A is likely Springer’s first stop. The 36 extra-base hits and 18 stolen bases show the tools that he possesses, but his long swing could continue to cause outrageous strikeout totals, especially once he reaches the show. The No.11 overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft out of UConn will be an asset to the Astros at some point.

PuelloCesar Puello, OF, New York Mets

Year Age Tm Lg Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 22 Binghamton EL NYM 53 221 197 40 65 11 2 13 46 17 14 46 .330 .403 .604 1.007 119
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/12/2013.

There are four simple words why Puello needs promoted: The Mets Offense Sucks. The slugging right fielder has been on fire over the last ten games, hitting .463/.500/.976 with three doubles, six home runs, 17 RBI, and five stolen bases. There is one issue that may become huge within his development: he was listed on the Biogenesis documents; however, the time it will take between appeals and court cases will make that an unlikely scenario in harming his prospect status, which is getting more impressive with each swing.

myersWil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

Year Age Tm Lg Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 22 Durham IL TBR 60 274 237 41 67 12 2 13 54 7 29 67 .283 .358 .515 .872 122
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/12/2013.

Call me Captain Obvious but the Rays would be a better team by plugging Myers into a lineup that has won 11 of their last 16 and are slowly creeping up the AL East standings, even while their ace, David Price, is recovering from an extended absence due to tricep soreness. After struggling with his plate discipline in the early part of the season, Myers has improved his numbers in June (albeit in just 10 games), while increasing his power, having hit four home runs in just 41 at-bats this month. With seven players with 25 or more RBI already this season, who would go to make room for Myers? Myers will make an impact at some point this season, regardless of the current roster’s success.

Arismendy Alcantara, 2B/SS, Chicago Cubs

Year Age Tm Lg Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 21 Tennessee SOUL CHC 63 265 228 30 66 14 1 9 30 16 26 54 .289 .364 .478 .842 109
5 Seasons 371 1542 1405 195 399 57 27 24 174 76 101 291 .284 .332 .414 .747 582
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/12/2013.

Alcantara is another good middle infield prospect within the Cubs organization. He is playing second and short in Double-A right now, but regardless of where he ends up, Alcantara will provide a little punch and speed for the rebuilding lovable losers. After having success at every stop during his minor league career, Alcantara should move up to see how he can handle Triple-A pitching, getting him that much closer to helping a starved Cubs lineup.

PimentelCarlos Pimentel, RHP, Texas Rangers

Year Age Tm Lg Aff W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2013 23 Frisco TL TEX 7 2 2.96 12 70.0 49 25 23 8 21 80 1.000 6.3 2.7 10.3 3.81
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/12/2013.

This is Pimentel’s third season in Double-A and he appears to finally mastered it, this time as a starter, after pitching well in a relief role in 2012 for Frisco. Still just 23 years old, Pimentel looks like another solid prospect again for a Rangers team that seems to always be in need of pitching help, whether due to ineffectiveness or injuries on the major league roster. Pimentel is posting excellent strikeout numbers and appears to be very difficult to hit. At 6’3″, 180 pounds, he has the frame to be a useful body in Texas, and he deserves a look in Triple-A before he gets a spot start of a longer look in Arlington.

How Roy Oswalt Could Save Your Fantasy Season

Oswalt3If you’re like me, you’re constantly looking for a sneaky good move with your fantasy baseball teams. Using statistics to look into trends allowed for smart trades for Matt Moore, Manny Machado, and Dexter Fowler in one league. Now, I’m looking at Roy Oswalt.

Yes, that Roy Oswalt. I know that he is 37 and his experience with the Texas Rangers in 2012 was an absolute disaster, but this is what you need to know:

I Split W L ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
COL-Coors Fld 4 0 2.25 5 5 1 1 36.0 30 9 9 4 8 31 1.056 7.8 3.88
LAD-Dodger Stad 4 3 3.46 7 6 1 0 41.2 32 17 16 0 19 33 1.224 7.1 1.74
ARI-Chase Field 2 2 5.28 5 5 0 0 29.0 38 18 17 3 9 18 1.621 5.6 2.00
SDP-PetCo Pk 4 1 1.69 8 8 1 0 53.1 38 10 10 1 14 49 0.975 8.3 3.50
SFG-AT&T Pk 3 7 4.21 11 11 0 0 66.1 83 34 31 5 17 44 1.508 6.0 2.59
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/22/2013.

Oswalt2These are Oswalt’s career numbers pitching in the NL West. Granted, a lot of those totals came in his “younger years” with the Houston Astros, but outside of his struggles at Chase Field, a notorious hitter’s park, Oswalt has been very solid. A career 14-13 record with a 3.30 ERA over 226.1 innings with a 1.27 WHIP and a 175:67 K:BB over 36 games (35 starts) is the overall line.

Heading to Coors Field could be a little troubling, but as you can see from the table above, Oswalt has handled the unfriendly confines pretty well over a small five game sample; however, even doubling his ERA to 4.50 (a quality start if he goes six innings), would allow Oswalt to win several games for the Rockies this season. The Rockies offense is very impressive, as Dexter Fowler, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, and Wilin Rosario are all thriving this season, and the club hopes that Nolen Arenado can take his place as the next Vinny Castilla for the club.

In Oswalt’s recent extended spring training start (Saturday, May 18), he struck out nine and allowed just a bunt single in five innings. Needless to say, the competition was probably pretty weak, but Rotoworld.com reported that Oswalt’s fastball is already sitting in the low 90’s.

Oswalt1With a club looking to surprise in the NL West and a lively offense, don’t be shocked if Roy Oswalt shocks the world and creates value for himself in the 2013 season while pitching for the Colorado Rockies.


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