Results tagged ‘ Troy Tulowitzki ’
If 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:
These 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.
With 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.
Nolan Arenado was drafted out of a California high school in the 2nd round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies. Arenado played some catcher in high school, but he was drafted as an infielder, which seems to be a good choice by the Rockies, considering their top prospect’s quick ascension through the minors.
To see how productive Arenado has been, you need to look no further than his career minor league statistics:
Statistical Areas of Focus:
Arenado showed very good plate discipline as an 18-year-old in short-season ball, which didn’t hold in his first full season; however, while he didn’t take as many pitches in Asheville in 2010, he didn’t strikeout at an alarming rate and his gap power (41 doubles) was a nice preview for his 2011 breakout season. In 2011, Arenado’s statistics were aided by the bandbox stadiums of the California League, but he maintained a tremendous contact rate, while showing similar gap power (32 doubles) with a slight increase in home runs. His 122 RBI in 2011 are impressive on paper, but they don’t represent a number that can translate to the majors as a “normal” counting statistic. In 2012, Arenado was, in a way, a disappointment. He maintained his contact rates but his power dropped off. He seemed to miss the thin air of California in the Texas League in 2012, but his 36 doubles still showed a solid approach, and at the age of 21, Arenado still possessed some projection.
Arenado has 11 doubles and three home runs in just 44 total at-bats, which leads to an impressive .909 slugging percentage in the early going. Arenado’s statistics will likely take another leap forward in 2013 due to the thin air of the Pacific Coast League, particularly in Colorado Springs, the Rockies Triple-A affiliate. Arenado’s 18 RBI lead the minors right now, and it wouldn’t be crazy to think that he could become a huge producer in a very impressive lineup in Denver, as Dexter Fowler, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, and Wilin Rosario create a tremendously dangerous lineup.
Why the Rockies Need Arenado:
I’d be lying if I said that the Rockies GOTTA HAVE Arenado right now. Colorado’s third basemen (Chris Nelson and Reid Brignac) are hitting a combined .309/.361/.345 with two doubles, five RBI, and six runs scored, while posting an 11:5 K:BB over 55 at-bats. The only issue is that Nelson and Brignac have just the two extra-base hits, which is why the slugging percentage is so low. While that is one reason to clamor for Arenado’s immediate call-up, especially with his current production in Colorado Springs, the Rockies can allow their current third basemen to get on base at a solid clip, allowing their mashers to clear the bases later. Arenado would be a huge offensive upgrade to the Rockies lineup, though, so there is no shame in utilizing Nelson and/or Brignac in utility roles, as both players could get at bats at second base, spelling Josh Rutledge on occasion, as he is hitting just .226/.288/.358 in 53 at-bats for Colorado.
While it would be great to allow Arenado to get more experience in Triple-A, where veteran starters could possess better breaking balls than his lower-level opposition, Arenado could force the Rockies’ hand in the coming weeks. Chris Nelson, who has handled the majority of starts at third, was tremendous in the second half last season, posting a .344/.381/.500 line over 180 at-bats, but he doesn’t possess the power and skill-set that Arenado does. Nelson would still have a major role as a super-utility player, but Arenado could get the call to Coor’s Field by mid-June, and have an immediate impact on a suddenly strong Rockies team. They just need some health, especially with Tulowitzki, to be taken seriously.
Since this was announced on Monday, which was April 1st (aka April Fool’s Day), it feels like this isn’t happening; however, after it was made official, giving a career .275/.342/.353 line an eight-year, $120 million seems like a nightmare, especially after the club was unwilling to give Josh Hamilton an extension or make the first offer when he hit free agency this winter. After allowing a player who has averaged a .305/.363/.549 line to leave for their biggest rival, they gave Andrus $15 million per season on an extension, all while Jurickson Profar waits for a position to open up in Texas.
Andrus is a fine player. Since arriving in 2009, he has posted a 13.0 WAR, which is sixth among shortstops during that time. He leads shortstops in stolen bases (123), he is second to Derek Jeter in runs scores (341), and he is 21st among shortstops in OPS (.695). TWENTY-FIRST.
Andrus provides a solid batting eye (8.4 percent walk rate vs. 13.2 percent strikeout rate) to go along with his solid speed, which allows him to utilize his skills on the base paths to score runs in a very potent offense. While he can get on base and score runs, his defense is where his true value develops.
Andrus’ UZR/150 rating is 7.8, fourth among shortstops since 2009 behind Brendan Ryan, J.J. Hardy, and Alexei Ramirez. His .971 fielding percentage is 15th among shortstops since 2009. Of the three players above Andrus in zone fielding who have higher fielding percentages than Andrus, only Alexei Ramirez has a higher OPS. If Ramirez can field better and post better numbers at short, is he worth $15 million or more per season?
Ramirez is 31 and doesn’t have the favorable upside that Andrus possesses, but we’ve seen speed become useless several times before. In 2004, Cesar Izturis had his best season at the age of 24:
While he didn’t post numbers close to what Andrus did prior to his age-24 season, he displayed solid gap power, speed, and, of course, impressive defensive skills. He won his first and only Gold Glove in 2004, posting a .985 fielding percentage and a 3.8 WAR.
Compare that production to Andrus’ career stats:
Is there a whole lot of difference in the abilities of these players, outside of the fact that Andrus’ had four seasons completed prior to his age-24 season, which will be the 2013 season? Certainly, Andrus is better than Izturis, but would anyone have paid Izturis $15 million per season if every one of his seasons had been as solid as his 2004 season?
Luis Castillo was an excellent second baseman early in his career for the, then, Florida Marlins. Sure, he wasn’t a shortstop, but he had the same type of skill-set, possibly better, with more speed and on-base skills, while Andrus seems to have more gap power. Once Castillo hurt his feet, though, his 50+ steals potential was also hurt, and he became a 20 stolen base, empty .300-hitting middle infielder. If Andrus gets hurt or loses speed, where is his value? He can’t cover as much ground defensively and his ability to create runs with his legs is gone, as well.
Shortstop is a very tough position, but the value of defensive metrics have taken over the player’s ability to help the club in other ways, specifically with their bat. Cal Ripken, Jr., Barry Larkin, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, and Miguel Tejada did a dirty, dirty thing to the position, allowing solid contribution across the board to become a reasonable expectation. Today, only Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Reyes seem like those types of dynamic, offensive-minded shortstops, and for that reason, they appear to be worth exorbitant contracts.
The Rangers aren’t the only team that feels that defense is very important, though. When the Cincinnati Reds turned Didi Gregorius and Drew Stubbs into Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Donald in their trade with the Cleveland Indians this offseason, that was one thing, as Choo is a free agent after the 2013 season, but when the Indians flipped Gregorius to the Arizona Diamondbacks with Lars Anderson and Tony Sipp for Matt Albers, Bryan Shaw, and, potential ace, Trevor Bauer, the new value of shortstops in baseball was apparent. Slap-hitting, defensively skilled middle infielders now have quite a bit of value.
So, if Gregorius, a career .265/.317/.370 hitter in the minor leagues, had that sort of value, then what is Xander Bogaerts worth? Bogaerts, a Boston Red Sox farm hand, hit .307/.373/.523 with a 4.13 range factor and .959 fielding percentage as a 19-year-old over High-A and Double-A in 2012. Gregorius had a range factor of 3.96 and a .964 fielding percentage as a 22-year-old over Double-A and Triple-A in 2012.
Furthermore, if Elvis Andrus is worth an eight-year, $120 million contract, then shouldn’t Troy Tulowitzki fire his agent? His extension for the 2015 to 2020 seasons gives him roughly $19.67 million per season, which isn’t nearly enough considering Andrus can’t carry his compression shorts with cup, since jock straps aren’t used anymore.
The good news for Andrus is that he has an opt-out clause after the 2018 season, allowing him to reach free agency during his prime, potentially earning more money if he reaches higher levels of production; however, if he under-performs or gets hurt, the Rangers don’t have an opt-out clause. The question now is: Was this a good contract for the Texas Rangers?
With Ian Kinsler signed through 2017 (with a 2018 team option) and Andrus locked up, where does Jurickson Profar go? What if Kinsler has another poor season, as his .749 OPS in 2012 was the worst of his career? Can they trade him? There have been leaks of Kinsler getting moved to left field or first base, but what happen to Mike Olt, another Rangers prospect, who is blocked through 2015 at third (possibly 2016, since Beltre has a vesting option)? Can Kinsler hit enough to play left? Do the Rangers trade Olt? Does Profar move to center even though Leonys Martin is hoping to prove himself there in 2013? Should they trade Profar?
The Rangers have committed to defense by signing Andrus and they have committed to spending a lot of money on mediocre offense. After letting Josh Hamilton walk, not addressing their No.5 starter situation this winter, and building excellent talent that they seem to be unwilling to commit to from their minor league system, the Rangers, who have made three straight playoff appearances, seem to have no clear direction to their roster makeup going forward.
I did this last year and it was interesting, as they were mostly useless guesses as opposed to valuable predictions. However, with days until real games begin, I figured that I would join in the fun of putting this out there so that we can all look back and see just how wrong I was when October rolls around. Let the incorrectness begin!
AL East Champion
I’m buying the upgrades to the Jays roster. A great improvement to the pitching staff, and just in time to pounce on an AL East division where the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox don’t look like major factors. While the Rays and Orioles look to maintain success without a huge payroll increase, the Jays will utilize their awesome blend of speed, power, and rotation depth to take the crown in the East.
AL Central Champion
Like the Jays, the Tigers will impress with their strong rotation, and while the club plays scetchy, at best, defense, the presence of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera is enough to make them strong contenders in a weak, yet improving, AL Central. The signing of Torii Hunter and the return of Victor Martinez will only improve the offense, while the club will hope that Austin Jackson continues his tremendous improvement and that Andy Dirks can hold down left until Nick Castellanos or Avisail Garcia prove themselves ready. The bullpen issues are something to be concerned about, but someone out of Bruce Rondon, Phil Coke, and Joaquin Benoit will step up.
AL West Champion
How do you improve a lineup that had Albert Pujols and Mike Trout in it a season ago? Well, by signing Josh Hamilton, of course! The Angels could be the best offensive team in baseball, but they’ll need to be, after seemingly taking the “we-will-outscore-your-team-because-we-don’t-have-pitching” way of building a roster. After losing out of Zack Greinke, the club traded for Tommy “my shoulder is gonna rip off of my body at any moment” Hanson, signing Joe Blanton, and trading for Jason Vargas, who could benefit from continuing his career in another pitcher-friendly ballpark. The Halos have enough offense to overcome their pitching shortcomings, though, and could easily manage to score about 6-8 runs per game.
AL Wild Cards
Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays
The Rangers may have lost Josh Hamilton, but they still have a dynamic offense, led by Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre. While it is highly unlikely that Lance Berkman can truly fill the shoes of Hamilton, he is just a season removed from revitalizing his career in St. Louis. Can he do it again? Well, if he can’t, the club will need more from their rotation, which is solid, but not nearly a lock to be great as others in the AL. Yu Darvish is the anchor, but with Matt Harrison‘s low strikeout rates, one has to wonder if he can maintain the 32 wins and 3.34 ERA that he has put up the last two seasons. Derek Holland needs to bounce back, as well, if Texas is to be taken seriously. If they don’t get the right breaks, this could easily be the Oakland Athletics, once again.
The Rays gambled on cashing in two seasons of James Shields for more young talent, acquiring a great haul from the Royals. While the rotation will miss the strength and innings that Shields brought, David Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, and Alex Cobb will be solid, while Roberto Hernandez and Jeff Niemann fight over the No.5 spot. The Rays have to get some production from Desmond Jennings and Yunel Escobar up the middle, while hoping that Evan Longoria stays healthy until Wil Myers can get called up. They need power in the lineup and on Opening Day, Longoria and Ben Zobrist seem like their only hope. Pitching and defense has worked for the last several years, and it will again in 2013.
Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
While everyone will focus on the huge trades that brought the club Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey, and others, Bautista will be the spark plug to the offense due to his tremendous power and ability to get on base. With his wrist fully recovered and a dynamic lineup around him, opposing clubs will be forced to pitch to the slugger, which will result is a season that should resemble his 2010 and 2011 seasons, with overwhelming power and run producing statistics.
AL Cy Young
Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit Tigers
To say that Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball would be an understatement. He turned 30 years old in February and since 2008, he has gone 89-48 with a 3.28 ERA over 1,154.2 innings, and while those numbers have been outmatched by only CC Sabathia in the American League (91-39 with a 3.11 ERA), Verlander seems to have a pretty tight grip on the best pitcher in MLB title for the moment. While Yu Darvish and David Price begin to catch up to him, Verlander will hold control it for another season, with another 20-win season and an ERA under 3.00 for the Tigers.
AL Manager of the Year
Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians
While he actually has very little to do with the drastic changes that the Indians have undergone this offseason (that honor belongs to GM Chris Antonetti), Terry Francona will get a lot of credit for the Indians posting their first winning season since their 2007 ALCS appearance. Manny Acta never seemed capable of keeping successful starts going over the 162-game season, but Francona’s resume proves that he is capable of that, regardless of the 2011 Boston Red Sox collapse. While the Tribe won’t make the playoffs, they will be very competitive and, possibly, be a nuisance to the Tigers in the AL Central for most of the season. For that, Francona will deserve the honor for making a Cleveland sports franchise matter again.
AL Rookie of the Year
Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
He won’t start the season with the major league club, but Myers will be up in June, once the Rays can guarantee that he won’t gain Super Two arbitration eligibility, taking over the left field job from Matt Joyce, while manning right field when Ben Zobrist goes to second or short. Myers exploded in the minors last season, hitting an absurd .314/.387/.600 with 37 home runs between the Royals’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates. While he could work on his contact rate (he struck out 140 times in 522 at-bats), Myers is a much needed offensive force for the Rays, who need someone besides Evan Longoria and Zobrist to produce consistently. Expect a .260/.320/.460 line with nearly 20 home runs if Myers gets the call in June, which should be good enough to win the AL ROY with Jurickson Profar waiting for a shot in Triple-A for the Rangers and so few players getting an opportunity early in the 2013 season.
NL East Champion
Bryce Harper will be better than he was in 2012 and Stephen Strasburg won’t have an innings limit. Really, this is all that you need to know, but with the addition of a leadoff hitter in Denard Span and another fantastic arm in Rafael Soriano to add to Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, the Nationals are about as good as it gets in MLB for a lock to go to the playoffs. Add in Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Ryan Zimmerman, and Adam LaRoche, and you have a team capable of winning 95-100 games. Yes…they’re that good.
NL Central Champion
What do you get when you take an outstanding team without a leadoff hitter and you add a guy with a lifetime .386 on-base percentage in that spot? You get a team with a very bad defensive outfield that plays in a hitters paradise and the 2013 version of the Cincinnati Reds. Shin-Soo Choo could be a liability in center, but his offensive skills fit perfectly into the Reds lineup. Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto will need some help from Choo and Ryan Ludwick, but with a very good starting rotation and great depth in the bullpen with the move of Aroldis Chapman back to closer, the Reds will battle the Nationals for the best record in MLB in 2013.
NL West Champion
Los Angeles Dodgers
Like the Dodgers, I’m buying. The addition of Zack Greinke was huge, but the trade with the Boston Red Sox that brought Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez, along with their massive contracts, to the Dodgers will begin paying dividends this season. While the Hanley Ramirez thumb injury is a slight issue to start the season, Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw are the right kind of awesome to overcome any issues like that. The Dodgers have great pitching depth, unless they make a trade in the next few days, to overcome any further arm issues for Chad Billingsley, and their bullpen is lights out, with flame-thrower Kenley Jansen sharing end-game duties with Brandon League…until Don Mattingley sees what everyone else does and puts Jansen there full-time. This team is dangerous if they stay healthy. The pitching is deep, but an injury to Crawford, Kemp, or Andre Ethier will cost them the division to the San Francisco Giants.
NL Wild Cards
Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals
The Atlanta Braves have an incredible roster. If Chipper Jones had hung around one more season, they may have had a chance at another World Series title for the old man. Unfortunately, Jones finally retired and third could be the clubs only weak spot, as Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson will share the job in 2013. The addition of B.J. Upton and Justin Upton will make the offense even more dangerous, as Jason Heyward continues to become one of the best players in baseball. Freddie Freeman got his eye issues worked out, so he will also improve in 2013, while the club will rely on a deep rotation, that will only get better when Brandon Beachy returns in June or July. By then, the Braves could have a very difficult choice, especially after seeing Julio Teheran thrive this spring, as someone will have to be removed from the rotation if the club is healthy. As far as the bullpen goes, one name is all you need: Craig Kimbrel.
The Cardinals continue to stick around and be contenders, even after losing Albert Pujols a season ago and, potentially, losing Chris Carpenter for the entire 2013 season. Adam Wainwright should re-establish himself as an ace this season, while Allen Craig will show that he is an MVP-caliber player if he would just stay healthy. Speaking of health, could fantasy baseball nerds be any more excited for the first of Carlos Beltran‘s injuries in 2013? If you don’t know why, you need to look up super-prospect Oscar Taveras. The Cards seem to have an endless supply of young arms, as well, as Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Michael Wacha, and Carlos Martinez arrive and establish themselves in the majors.
Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
Votto will do one of two things: 1) Post an on-base percentage approaching .500 (.474 in 2012) while never seeing a pitch worth hitting, or 2) Post numbers close to his 2010 MVP season (.324/.424/.600, 37 home runs) while earning his 2nd MVP. The Reds are going to have Votto hitting No.3 again, and with Shin-Soo Choo and Brandon Phillips hitting in front of him, Votto will easily exceed his career-high 113 RBI this season. With his knee healthy and a tremendous lineup and hitter’s paradise as a home ballpark, Joey Votto will win the NL MVP in 2013.
NL Cy Young
Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
You can take Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw, while I go off the board (or rocker) to choose Madison Bumgarner for NL Cy Young. After tiring at the end of the 2012 season, Bumgarner knows that he has a lot to prove. Add on the fact that his WHIP fell from 1.21 in 2011 to 1.11 in 2012, and you can see that the 23-year-old left-hander can not only miss bats (191 K’s in each of the last two seasons), but he isn’t allowing many hits or walks. With a pitcher-friendly ballpark and loads of expectations on him due to his fall-off late last season, Bumgarner will show that he shouldn’t be overlooked due to Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum being on the same roster.
NL Manager of the Year
Bud Black, San Diego Padres
There isn’t a whole lot to like about the Padres roster. They don’t have a superstar on the front of a video game, they don’t have a player that shows up to the MLB Fan Cave with an infamous twitter account, but they have an interesting team and a better manager. Bud Black can get a lot out of the club that he has. While the team will continue to struggle to score runs, at times, Chase Headley could provide enough power to get runs in bunches, and Yonder Alonso could thrive with the fences being moved in at Petco. Solid speed and gap power throughout the lineup will make the Padres a surprise team in 2013, and while the rotation is more patchwork than well thought out, the bullpen is tremendous, as it always seems to be. If the Friars can get anything out of Andrew Cashner, Clayton Richard, and Eric Stults, they’ll be a team capable of 82-85 wins, which isn’t playoff worthy, but worth giving Bud Black an award for.
NL Rookie of the Year
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
You don’t get called a left-handed version of Vladimir Guerrero and get overlooked, and Taveras is that special of a talent. Like I mentioned above, once Carlos Beltran gets hurt (as in it IS going to happen), Taveras would, more than likely, get the call. Not only a Beltran injury, but an under performing Jon Jay could even be replaced by the super-prospect, as Taveras played 93 games in center for the Cards Double-A affiliate in 2012. Taveras will get enough at-bats to be valuable and he could do that as a fourth outfielder once June rolls around, but once he is in St. Louis, he won’t be leaving town for several years. A pure hitter in every sense of the label.
World Series Prediction
Washington Nationals defeat Los Angeles Angels, 4-2
Random, Bold Predictions
There is no rhyme or reason here, just as the title says:
- Bryce Harper will hit over 30 home runs in 2013, while posting an OPS near .940.
- Mike Trout won’t hit 30 home runs again, but he will steal 50 bases.
- Jose Reyes will stay healthy, even while playing on turf, and terrorize the AL East while stealing over 50 bases.
- Ike Davis will hit over 40 home runs after hitting 32 in 2012 while hitting just .227.
- Mat Latos will become the ace of the Cincinnati Reds, posting better overall numbers than Johnny Cueto and winning 20 games in 2013.
- Mike Minor proves that his second half from 2012 (6-4, 2.16 ERA, 0.87 WHIP over 87.1 IP) wasn’ a fluke, as he becomes the Braves best starting pitcher in 2013.
- Jordan Zimmerman has a more impressive 2013 season than Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez and he will no longer be overlooked in a fantastic Washington rotation.
- Brandon Belt continues hitting like he has all spring, ripping 25 home runs after having a power outage in the earlier stages of his career (16 in 598 at-bats).
- Troy Tulowitzki stays healthy and benefits from Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler having All Star seasons to hit 40 home runs, making all of those fantasy baseball players that took him in the first round feel like the smartest men alive.
- Allen Craig becomes an All Star and hits over .300 with 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI.
- Carlos Santana hits 30+ home runs and will have the kind of hype that Buster Posey has right now during the 2013-2014 offseason.
- Jason Heyward finishes 2nd in NL MVP voting to Joey Votto, posting his first 30 HR/30 SB season for Atlanta.
- Domonic Brown keeps the Phillies left field job all season and posts a .270/.380/.450 line with solid production across the board. Philly fans hit Ruben Amaro, Jr. with batteries for not trusting in him sooner.
- Zack Greinke can’t handle the Los Angeles pressure and spotlight and misses time due to his anxiety disorder.
- Chris Sale pitches 200 innings and proves doubters about his bony frame and drastic innings increase in 2012 wrong.
- Drew Stubbs (remember him?) hits 20 home runs and steals 50 bases, revitalizing his career.
- Rick Porcello wins 17 games with a 3.20 ERA while striking out 180 batters…all because he began using his four-seam fastball for the first time in his career.
These guys are about to go bonkers in 2013. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…(obvious names not listed, i.e. Harper, Brown, Braun, Ike Davis)
Alex Cobb, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Matt Moore, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Brett Anderson, LHP, Oakland Athletics
Andrelton Simmons, SS, Atlanta Braves
Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Oakland Athletics
Greg Holland, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals
Chris Parmelee, OF, Minnesota Twins
Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs
Dayan Viciedo, OF, Chicago White Sox
Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals
Michael Saunders, OF, Seattle Mariners
Prospects to Watch
This has nothing to do with the Top 100 Prospects that I put out in December, but you will find some familiar names and others that will be players to keep an eye on, especially if they’re on your favorite team or if you’re in a keeper fantasy baseball league.
Jonathan Schoop, INF, Baltimore Orioles
Dorssys Paulino, INF, Cleveland Indians
J.R. Graham, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals
Yasel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros
Xander Bogaerts, INF, Boston Red Sox
Austin Hedges, C, San Diego Padres
Joey Gallo, INF, Texas Rangers
While I’ve already posted a top 10 fantasy baseball player at each position piece, I figured with drafts getting underway, that a more thorough ranking would be valuable. Here are the top 250 players in fantasy baseball for the 2013 season. (5X5 leagues, All MLB)
- Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers
- Mike Trout, OF, Angels
- Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Tigers,
- Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers
- Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates
- Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees
- Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Rockies
- Prince Fielder, 1B, Tigers
- Joey Votto, 1B, Reds
- Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels
- Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies
- Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers
- Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers
- Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins
- Josh Hamilton, OF, Angels
- Justin Upton, OF, Braves
- Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers
- David Price, SP, Rays
- Stephen Strasburg, SP, Nationals
- Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays
- Buster Posey, C, Giants
- David Wright, 3B, Mets
- Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners
- Jose Bautista, OF, Blue Jays
- Hanley Ramirez, 3B/SS, Dodgers
- Jason Heyward, OF, Braves
- Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox
- Jay Bruce, OF, Reds
- Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers
- Cliff Lee, SP, Phillies
- Matt Cain, SP, Giants
- Jose Reyes, SS, Blue Jays
- Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies
- Starlin Castro, SS, Cubs
- Adam Jones, OF, Orioles
- Jered Weaver, SP, Angels
- Billy Butler, 1B, Royals
- Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds
- Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Blue Jays
- Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
- Gio Gonzalez, SP, Nationals
- Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Athletics
- B.J. Upton, OF, Braves
- Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Dodgers
- Ben Zobrist, 2B/SS/OF, Rays
- Craig Kimbrel, RP, Braves
- Matt Holliday, OF, Cardinals
- Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals
- Chase Headley, 3B, Padres
- Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals
- Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox
- Yu Darvish, SP, Rangers
- Adam Wainwright, SP, Cardinals
- Madison Bumgarner, SP, Giants
- Zack Greinke, SP, Dodgers
- Matt Wieters, C, Orioles
- Michael Bourn, OF, Indians
- R.A. Dickey, SP, Blue Jays
- Allen Craig, 1B/OF, Cardinals
- Joe Mauer, C, Twins
- Brett Lawrie, 3B, Blue Jays
- CC Sabathia, SP, Yankees
- Johnny Cueto, SP, Reds
- Mat Latos, SP, Reds
- Chris Sale, SP, White Sox
- Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers
- Jason Kipnis, 2B, Indians
- Aaron Hill, 2B, Diamondbacks
- Ian Desmond, SS, Nationals
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks
- Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays
- Jordan Zimmerman, SP, Nationals
- Carlos Santana, C, Indians
- Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies
- Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Brewers
- Alex Rios, OF, White Sox
- Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants
- Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies
- Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Reds
- Aroldis Chapman, SP/RP, Reds
- Mark Teixiera, 1B, Yankees
- Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Phillies
- Jason Motte, RP, Cardinals
- Alex Gordon, OF, Royals
- Kris Medlen, SP/RP, Braves
- Matt Moore, SP, Rays
- James Shields, SP, Royals
- Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers
- Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros
- Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees (mid-May return leaves some value)
- Max Scherzer, SP, Tigers
- Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves
- Victor Martinez, C, Tigers
- Martin Prado, 3B/OF, Diamondbacks
- Ike Davis, 1B, Mets
- Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals
- Rafael Soriano, RP, Nationals
- Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers
- Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays
- Brandon Morrow, SP, Blue Jays
- Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Indians
- Melky Cabrera, OF, Blue Jays
- Mariano Rivera, RP, Yankees
- J.J. Putz, RP, Diamondbacks
- Doug Fister, SP, Tigers
- David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox
- Ian Kennedy, SP, Diamondbacks
- Jake Peavy, SP, White Sox
- Hunter Pence, OF, Giants
- Carlos Gomez, OF, Brewers
- Josh Willingham, OF, Twins
- Joe Nathan, RP, Rangers
- Joel Hanrahan, RP, Red Sox
- Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, Angels
- Josh Johnson, SP, Blue Jays
- Hiroki Kuroda, SP, Yankees
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs
- Angel Pagan, OF, Giants
- Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants
- Anibal Sanchez, SP, Tigers
- Dan Haren, SP, Nationals
- Jonathan Niese, SP, Mets
- Shane Victorino, OF, Red Sox
- Torii Hunter, OF, Tigers
- Erick Aybar, SS, Angels
- Neil Walker, 2B, Pirates
- John Axford, RP, Brewers
- Carl Crawford, OF, Dodgers
- Alejandro De Aza, OF, White Sox
- Carlos Beltran, OF, Cardinals
- David Freese, 3B, Cardinals
- Brett Anderson, SP, Athletics
- Jim Johnson, RP, Orioles
- Danny Espinosa, 2B/SS, Nationals
- Brett Gardner, OF, Yankees
- Lance Lynn, SP, Cardinals
- Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers
- Paul Konerko, 1B, White Sox
- Howie Kendrick, 2B, Angels
- Ben Revere, OF, Phillies
- Denard Span, OF, Nationals
- Jon Lester, SP, Red Sox
- Addison Reed, RP, White Sox
- Huston Street, RP, Padres
- Alcides Escobar, SS, Royals
- Sergio Romo, RP, Giants
- Jeff Samardzija, SP, Cubs
- Ryan Dempster, SP, Red Sox
- C.J. Wilson, SP, Angels
- Greg Holland, RP, Royals
- Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies
- Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals
- Adam LaRoche, 1B, Nationals
- Jason Kubel, OF, Diamondbacks
- Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers
- Wade Miley, SP, Diamondbacks
- Andre Ethier, OF, Dodgers
- Mike Napoli, C/1B, Red Sox
- Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies
- Michael Morse, OF, Mariners
- Jarrod Parker, SP, Athletics
- Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pirates
- J.J. Hardy, SS, Orioles
- Homer Bailey, SP, Reds
- Matt Harvey, SP, Mets
- Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Rays
- Manny Machado, 3B, Orioles
- Kyle Seager, 3B, Mariners
- Dexter Fowler, OF, Rockies
- Rafael Betancourt, RP, Rockies
- Tim Hudson, SP, Braves
- Dan Uggla, 2B, Braves
- Miguel Montero, C, Diamondbacks
- Josh Reddick, OF, Athletics
- Todd Frazier, 1B/3B, Reds
- Matt Harrison, SP, Rangers
- Jonathan Broxton, RP, Reds
- Chris Perez, RP, Indians
- Derek Holland, SP, Rangers
- Marco Scutaro, 2B/SS, Giants
- Wilin Rosario, C, Rockies
- Salvador Perez, C, Royals
- Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees
- Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants
- Chris Davis, 1B/OF, Orioles
- Grant Balfour, RP, Athletics
- Mike Minor, SP, Braves
- Alexei Ramirez, SS, White Sox
- Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Yankees
- Alexi Ogando, SP/RP, Rangers
- Nick Swisher, 1B/OF, Indians
- Tommy Milone, SP, Athletics
- Kendrys Morales, 1B/DH, Mariners
- Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Red Sox
- Colby Rasmus, OF, Blue Jays
- Adam Dunn, 1B/DH, White Sox
- Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs
- Phil Hughes, SP, Yankees
- Jaime Garcia, SP, Cardinals
- Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves
- Jesus Montero, C, Mariners
- Jason Grilli, RP, Pirates
- Cameron Maybin, OF, Padres
- Corey Hart, 1B, Brewers
- Norichika Aoki, OF, Brewers
- Lance Berkman, 1B/DH, Rangers
- Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Yankees
- Dayan Viciedo, OF, White Sox
- Brandon McCarthy, SP, Diamondbacks
- Kenley Jansen, RP, Dodgers
- Brandon League, RP, Dodgers
- Bobby Parnell, RP, Mets
- Michael Cuddyer, 1B/OF, Rockies
- Michael Young, 1B/3B, Phillies
- A.J. Burnett, SP, Pirates
- Jurickson Profar, 2B, Rangers (he should get enough time to have value)
- Jayson Werth, OF, Nationals
- Trevor Cahill, SP, Diamondbacks
- Justin Masterson, SP, Indians
- Glen Perkins, RP, Twins
- Casey Janssen, RP, Blue Jays
- Tom Wilhelmsen, RP, Mariners
- Everth Cabrera, SS, Padres
- Trevor Plouffe, 3B, Twins
- Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins
- Tommy Hanson, SP, Angels
- James McDonald, SP, Pirates
- Josh Beckett, SP, Dodgers
- Marco Estrada, SP, Brewers
- Jason Vargas, SP, Angels
- Zack Cozart, SS, Reds
- Mark Reynolds, 1B, Indians
- Steve Cishek, RP, Marlins
- Daniel Murphy, 2B, Mets
- A.J. Pierzynski, C, Rangers
- Nick Markakis, OF, Orioles
- Garrett Jones, 1B/OF, Pirates
- Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, Dodgers
- Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Orioles
- Omar Infante, 2B, Tigers
- David Murphy, OF, Rangers
- Kelly Johnson, 2B, Rays
- Dustin Ackley, 2B, Mariners
- Lorenzo Cain, OF, Royals
- Carlos Marmol, RP, Cubs
- Kyuji Fujikawa, RP, Cubs
- Jon Jay, OF, Cardinals
- Brian McCann, C, Braves
- Wil Myers, OF, Rays
- Jean Segura, SS, Brewers
Some writers for the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) have picked sides on whether certain players are worthy of the Hall of Fame based on their willingness, or lack thereof, to interview, how they were treated by the player, and whether or not the player did anything illegal during their playing days. While the Steroid Era players are eligible for the Hall of Fame in droves right now, how Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, and Mark McGwire perform once ballot results are released will be very interesting news.
The point here, though, is that longtime shortstop Omar Vizquel shouldn’t ever be considered for the Hall of Fame.
Vizquel was a great defensive shortstop, posting an incredible .985 career fielding percentage over 24 seasons and 22,960.2 innings at short. Some, like NESN’s Tim Culverhouse, think that Vizquel is a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer. I disagree, and this is why:
- Vizquel played in 24 seasons and finished his career with 2,877 hits. He failed to reach the 3,000 milestone. Not that nearly 2,900 hits is a bad career, but the only players to participate in more seasons than Vizquel with 24 or more seasons were Rickey Henderson, Eddie Collins, Cap Anson, Ty Cobb, and Pete Rose, all of whom accumulated more than 3,000 hits. Vizquel only reached 2,877 due to his longevity and he only had that longevity on one tool – his glove – which wasn’t enough to make him an asset for at least the final seven years of his career.
- Vizquel only posted a WAR above two in 10 of his 24 seasons. Why is the number two important for WAR? Anything less than a two is considered a reserve and anything less than zero is a replacement level player. Vizquel posted 10 seasons below a two WAR and four seasons with a NEGATIVE WAR. He literally cost his team games, even with his stellar defense.
- Vizquel’s career WAR was only 40.5 over his 24 seasons. Barry Larkin, a 2012 Cooperstown inductee, had a 67.1 WAR and Alan Trammell, who also had a 67.1 WAR and won a World Series MVP, is still waiting and on his 12th ballot this year. His WAR7, which are his best seven seasons, was just 24.8, 61st among shortstops, below such stars as Tony Fernandez, Scott Fletcher, and the great Dave Concepcion (who should probably get in for accomplishing as much or more than Luis Aparicio and Vizquel).
- Vizquel’s career slash of .272/.336/.352 would leave him 16th out of 22 shortstops, if he were to be enshrined, in batting average, 17th in on-base percentage, and 20th in slugging percentage.
- Using Total Zone Runs (the number of runs above or below average the player was worth based on the number of plays made), Vizquel was the 5th best shortstop in baseball since 1951, when the stat started being used. He was behind Ozzie Smith (239), Mark Belanger (238), Cal Ripken (176), and Luis Aparicio (149), with his 134 mark. If defense is the deciding factor on the value that Vizquel provided, why isn’t Mark Belanger in the Hall of Fame? Because he hit .228/.300/.280 and posted a 37.6 WAR, not too far behind Vizquel’s 40.5, right?
- The only players with more hits than Vizquel who are not currently in the Hall of Fame are: Pete Rose, Derek Jeter, Craig Biggio, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds, and Alex Rodriguez. A couple of those guys are still active, obviously, and Biggio looks like the only inactive who is going to be a lock due to the asterisk-ridden nature of the Steroid Era and its players (Jeter will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, while others will rely on the whims of the voters from year to year).
- The only shortstop with a higher career fielding percentage is Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies, whose .9851 fielding percentage is just a tick higher than Vizquel’s .9847. Vizquel’s 11 Gold Gloves are a bit more impressive than Tulowitzki’s two, but Tulo is just 27 and has several years left. Whether he maintains his fielding abilities is yet to be seen, but Vizquel was, clearly, one of the best, if not the best, defensive shortstops in the history of the game.
Omar Vizquel was a fine player and a great asset defensively; however, his longevity (24 seasons) was the only reason why he was able to accumulate so many hits.
Take, for example, Juan Pierre. The slap-hitting outfielder has a career .297/.346/.363 line with 2,141 career hits. If he plays 10 more seasons and retires after his age-44 season, receiving 300 at-bats per year and posting a .297 average, he’ll finish his career with 3,032 career hits. Is Juan Pierre a Hall of Famer due to longevity?
For all of the Gold Gloves and 2,877 hits, Omar Vizquel wasn’t special enough to be a Hall of Famer. If players who accumulated more statistics, championships, and glory aren’t in, why should Vizquel be?
Overall rankings will consist of the player’s value in a points format, earning points for each H, R, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, basically a formula of Total Bases + RBI + Runs = Total Value. Here are the rankings for 2B, projections are italicized:
Shortstop is getting to be extremely shallow in fantasy. It is filled with injury risks and aging veterans. Gone are the days of several superstars, which has been gone since ARod moved to third and Nomar was traded to the Cubs.
1. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
.302/.372/.544, 36 2B, 2 3B, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 9 SB in 537 AB
.313/.394/.559, 38 2B, 3 3B, 34 HR, 112 RBI, 4 SB in 589 AB
There is one elite player at this position and Tulowitzki is it. For all of the hype that has gone to Jose Reyes and his mega-Free Agency this offseason, he isn’t the difference maker that Tulo is. He is a power-hitting SS and he will be the only SS with 100 RBI in 2012. If you don’t get him, you’re going to settle for the rest.
2. Starlin Castro, Cubs
.307/.341/.432, 36 2B, 9 3B, 10 HR, 66 RBI, 22 SB in 674 AB
.298/.347/.461, 38 2B, 7 3B, 16 HR, 71 RBI, 18 SB in 647 AB
Castro only had 207 hits in his first full season. He is probably not going to be a long-term hit machine, as he is going to fill into a player with more power, possibly even moving to third base. He is more of a certainty than others who come after him, like…
3. Jose Reyes, Marlins
.337/.384/.493, 31 2B, 16 3B, 7 HR, 44 RBI, 39 SB in 537 AB
.301/.365/.449, 29 2B, 8 3B, 4 HR, 36 RBI, 21 SB in 467 AB
Reyes is an excellent player and a game-changing talent, but he isn’t on the field enough to be taken seriously. While he’s been on the field more than someone like Rickie Weeks in his career, you have to wonder how his speed game is going to hold up as he ages, as it hasn’t held up in his youth. The constant nagging injuries will take away from his value, as will the spacious ballpark that he is going to be playing in from his already non-Tulo power stats. With that being said, he could prove me wrong and repeat what he did in 2011 for several years and be elite…but why would you count on that?
4. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
.273/.332/.460, 32 2B, 3 3B, 25 HR, 92 RBI, 17 SB in 604 AB
.281/.341/.459, 36 2B, 2 3B, 18 HR, 81 RBI, 13 SB in 587 AB
Well…that came out of nowhere. You have to wonder if this power-hitting, team carrying type of player is here to stay. He was injured for the previous couple of seasons. Can he make adjustments, though? He hit just .244/.310/.419 in the 2nd half of 2011. He’s still well-above average with a decline, but it won’t be as drastic as some believe.
5. J.J. Hardy, Orioles
.269/.310/.491, 27 2B, 30 HR, 80 RBI in 527 AB
.259/.314/.486, 24 2B, 29 HR, 76 RBi in 564 AB
Remember the scoring. He isn’t a top five SS in most leagues due to the average and lack of running ability; however, his power is very, very valuable at his position. Hardy is playing in a bandbox still and he will continue to hit homeruns, post low averages, and strikeout with Mark Reynolds.
6. Jhonny Peralta, Tigers
.299/.345/.478, 25 2B, 3 3B, 21 HR, 86 RBI in 525 AB
.287/.338/.479, 28 2B, 2 3B, 22 HR, 86 RBI in 563 AB
Peralta isn’t a SS…but the Tigers gave up on defense for the offensive power. They may have the worst left side of the infield in the history of baseball in 2012, but fantasy baseball doesn’t count range factor and errors. He’ll have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs and should build on his successful 2011 season.
7. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
.268/.338/.399, 22 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 63 RBI, 30 SB in 567 AB
.280/.340/.411, 26 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 68 RBI, 24 SB in 584 AB
J-Roll still has another good year in him, but he is of the same pedigree as Jose Reyes – speed + injuries = worthlessness. Buyer beware, but the Phillies are counting on him to build off of 2011 as the age of their offensive core increases quicker than the National debt.
8. Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays
.290/.369/.413, 24 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 48 RBI, 3 SB in 513 AB
.284/.376/.422, 27 2B, 4 3B, 14 HR, 56 RBI, 5 SB in 562 AB
Escobar is a real pain in the ass. He got traded from Atlanta due to attitude issues and seems to not care at times. If he bothered putting out maximum effort, he could rank as high as 3rd on this list. He has quite a lineup around him, so if he puts it all together, don’t be shocked.
9. Derek Jeter, Yankees
.297/.355/.388, 24 2B, 4 3B, 6 HR, 61 RBI, 16 sB in 546 AB
.307/.364/.408, 29 2B, 4 3B, 11 HR, 65 RBI, 13 SB in 573 AB
The Captain isn’t as bad as people think. He still posted a decent AVG and OBP last season, though the SLG got ugly quick. He isn’t getting any younger, but he still has the lineup around him and the ability to play every day. He should rebound a bit.
10. Elvis Andrus, Rangers
.279/.347/.361, 27 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 60 RBI, 37 SB in 587 AB
.287/.356/.394, 32 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 64 RBI, 42 SB in 593 AB
Andrus is still very young and is in a fantastic lineup and ballpark. He has a solid eye and should improve upon his 75.5% SB rate. The power is lacking, but he does enough small things to get you points.
11. Erick Aybar, Angels
.279/.322/.421, 33 2B, 8 3B, 10 HR, 59 RBI, 30 SB in 556 AB
.268/.313/.406, 29 2B, 5 3B, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 24 SB in 498 AB
If Trumbo is going to play third and Mike Scoscia is still in charge, Maicer Izturis is going to steal Aybar’s playing time from time to time. Slight drop-off due to that decrease.
12. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
.269/.328/.399, 31 2B, 2 3B, 15 HR, 70 RBI, 7 SB in 614 AB
.264/.325/.403, 30 2B, 1 3B, 18 HR, 67 RBI, 5 SB in 598 AB
13. Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks
.252/.317/.396, 21 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR, 45 RBI, 4 SB in 321 AB
.269/.328/.403, 24 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 61 RBI, 3 SB in 461 AB
Those Drew boys never stay healthy. If he comes back healthy, he could post solid numbers, but he may have issues staying in the lineup due to his last name.
14. Zack Cozart, Reds
.324/.324/.486, 2 HR, 3 RBI in 37 AB
.259/.327/.403, 21 2B, 4 3B, 14 HR, 49 RBI, 6 SB in 498 AB
Sleeper like crazy here. He isn’t going to post an incredible average, but Cozart has some pop and plays in a great offense and ballpark. He could do even more than the numbers listed above…or…Dusty Baker’s veteran-loving-ass could play Paul Janish over him…ugh.
15. Sean Rodriguez, Rays
.223/.323/.357, 20 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 36 RBI, 11 SB in 373 AB
.241/.336/.374, 26 2B, 5 3B, 12 HR, 51 RBI, 19 SB in 471 AB
The Rest: Ian Desmond, Nationals; Alex Gonzalez, Brewers; Alcides Escobar, Royals; Jed Lowrie, Astros; Dee Gordon, Dodgers; Jason Bartlett, Padres; Ryan Theriot, Giants; Rafael Furcal, Cardinals; Cliff Pennington, A’s; Mike Aviles, Red Sox;
After winning the NL Wild Card in 2009, the Rockies have slipped the last two seasons, compiling a 156-168 record (.481), including a 4th place finish in NL West in 2011. The team dealt one of the most dominating arms in baseball, Ubaldo Jimenez, to Cleveland for quite a nice package of prospects, a couple of which will help out the club by the end of the 2012 season, if they don’t start on Opening Day. The team has a solid, young core still, built around shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who was the main piece in the Matt Holliday deal with Oakland. What and who do they have to work with? Let’s take a look at the current roster:
2 Catchers: Ramon Hernandez and Jordan Pacheco
1B: Todd Helton
2B: Jonathan Herrera
3B: Chris Nelson
SS: Troy Tulowitzki
LF: Carlos Gonzalez
CF: Dexter Fowler
RF: Michael Cuddyer
Bench: Tyler Colvin (1B/OF), Seth Smith (LF/RF), Jason Giambi (1B/PH), Charlie Blackmon (OF)
Starting Pitchers: Jhoulys Chacin, Jason Hammel, Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Chatwood and Alex White
Relief Pitchers: Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle, Matt Lindstrom, Matt Reynolds, Rex Brothers, Edgmer Escalona and Kevin Slowey
The Rockies are loaded in the outfield and that is why they have been dangling Seth Smith all winter. Smith is a solid hitter if you use him right. He has smashed right-handed pitching to an .878 OPS since the start of the 2009 season, while posting a measly .616 OPS against lefties in the same time frame. The fact that he is 29 and arbitration-eligible (estimated to make $2.6 million) makes him a great candidate to be moved, especially when you could use some help in the rotation and/or infield. Recent reports have Smith linked to Oakland, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Atlanta, the Mets and Cincinnati. Even trading Smith, they’ll have five outfielders, but I would look at third base, where Chris Nelson is currently listed as the starter. Nelson is a second baseman and is not a typical third baseman as far as offensive production. He could do a lot more as the second baseman than Jonathan Herrara, who could move to a utility role and play up the middle to give Nelson and Tulo a night off here and there. You have to make a deal for a third baseman unless you’re going to put Cuddyer there (he’s played 171 games there in his career) until Nolan Arenado is ready, which should or could be by July. The Rockies can use Colvin and Blackmon in the outfield and hope that Fowler doesn’t falter in center again. If he does, Blackmon can handle center or Tim Wheeler, another solid prospect, could get the call for Colorado. Todd Helton is still very productive and you can probably count on him for about 120-130 games. Jason Giambi signed on again as the backup, but it would be nice to see Colvin get some at bats there, too, especially if Helton misses any significant time due to injury.
The starting rotation is full of potential but may be an issue. Jason Hammel shouldn’t get much of a look if he continues pitching the way he has since he came up in 2006, as he holds a career 34-45 with a 4.99 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. Chacin is very nice at the top and should only improve. Pomeranz was the prize of the Jimenez deal with Cleveland and should fit nicely in the middle of the rotation right now. Chatwood is more of a thrower than a pitcher, possessing a tremendous fastball with the results that aren’t typical of a power pitcher (142 IP, 74/71 K/BB). He could use more seasoning, yet, he could have some success in the NL West. Alex White is another work in progress, part of the deal with the Indians for Jimenez, who has a high ceiling. Juan Nicasio should be ready by Spring Training after having surgery due to being hit in the neck by a line drive last year, and Jorge De La Rosa should be returning in May from Tommy John surgery, so if any of the youngsters or Hammel struggle, they have help on the way. If Nicasio is ready in Spring Training, they should probably put him in the rotation and send either White or Chatwood to Triple-A. Chad Bettis is a name to watch, a RHP with great numbers in High-A last year. He could get a look in September as a former college arm if he succeeds at Double-A.
The bullpen is solid. Betancourt is the new closer after Huston Street was traded to San Diego. He was spectacular last season in a short stint as closer, but has been very good since arriving in Colorado in 2009.
Colorado could use an upgrade in the rotation but they appear to be heading towards a rebuilding mode. Todd Helton will be retiring and the face of the franchise is now Troy Tulowitzki, who is signed through 2021. Nolan Arenado looks like a superstar in the making, but he probably won’t be a huge factor until 2013, though he could make an appearance if he continues hitting like he did last year. Drew Pomeranz won’t be the only rookie that will make an impact, as Tim Wheeler should get a look at some point and Wilin Rosario could hit his way into the starting catcher position. Since the team isn’t far off but has some holes, they could see if adding Jeff Francis would be a nice reunion. Francis spent six seasons with the Rockies and was originally drafted in the first round by the team in 2002. He’ll be 31 in January and proved last season that his shoulder is still functioning, though his 6-16 record and 4.82 ERA is scary. He could be a good gamble if he comes cheap enough.
I would start Wilin Rosario at catcher, splitting the position with Ramon Hernandez 50/50, as Hernandez is getting older and his split with Ryan Hanigan in Cincinnati the last few years showed what that type of rotation can do for your team. Rosario is a potential superstar at catcher with huge offensive upside. Trade Seth Smith and Tim Wheeler or Charlie Blackmon to the Braves for Martin Prado and Zeke Spruill, a mid-level pitching prospect in the Braves system. This improves the team’s roster and allows the club to have flexibility with the roster, as Prado can play 2B/3B/LF. Let’s look at what we have now:
2 Catchers: Wilin Rosario and Ramon Hernandez
1B: Todd Helton
2B: Chris Nelson
3B: Martin Prado
SS: Troy Tulowitzki
LF: Carlos Gonzalez
CF: Dexter Fowler
RF: Michael Cuddyer
Bench: Jason Giambi (1B/PH), Jonathan Herrara (2B/3B/SS), Tyler Colvin (1B/OF) and Charlie Blackmon (OF)
Starting Pitchers: Jhoulys Chacin, Drew Pomeranz, Juan Nicasio, Jeff Francis and Jason Hammel (give White and Chatwood more time in Triple-A, if Francis and/or Hammel stink, bring up the top performer)
Relief Pitchers: Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle, Matt Lindstrom, Matt Reynolds, Rex Brothers, Edgmer Escalona and Kevin Slowey