Tag Archives: Albert Pujols

UPDATE: NL and AL All-Star Team Total WARs (now with B-R and Fangraphs!)

I was just having some fun with WAR numbers (Baseball-References’) and decided to add everything up. The results are pretty interesting.  You’re uh … you’re gonna wanna read to the bottom.




NATIONAL LEAGUE STARTING LINE-UP
Player            WAR
Hanley Ramirez:   2.3
Martin Prado:     2.2
Albert Pujols:    3.4
Ryan Howard:      1.3
Ryan Braun:       1.8
David Wright:     3.9
Andre Ethier:     1.2
Corey Hart:       2.5
Yadier Molina:    0.8

Ubaldo Jimenez:   4.7

AMERICAN LEAGUE STARTING LINE-UP
Player            WAR
Ichiro Suzuki:    2.2
Derek Jeter:      1.1
Miguel Cabrera:   3.7
Josh Hamilton:    2.9
Vladimir Guerrero 1.0
Evan Longoria:    3.9
Joe Mauer:        2.1
Robinson Cano:    4.6
Carl Crawford:    3.4

David Price:      3.1

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Filed under All-Star Game, MLB, Wins Above Replacement

The NL Line-Up Once More: Ideal vs. Realistic vs. What We Got

I like how this line-up went from sure-fire awesome to “eh” in about a week.

What the NL ASG starting line-up looked like from voting:

Hanley Ramirez, SS
Chase Utley, 2B
Albert Pujols, 1B
Ryan Braun, LF
Andre Ethier, RF
Jason Heyward, CF
David Wright, 3B
Yadier Molina, C

Not Charlie’s fault Utley and Heyward had to cancel because of injury, so here’s an ideal line-up with ideal replacements:

Hanley Ramirez, SS
Albert Pujols, 1B
Adrian Gonzalez, DH
Ryan Braun, LF
Colby Rasmus/Angel Pagan/Andrew McCutchen, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
David Wright, 3B
Martin Prado, 2B
Yadier Molina, C

And here’s an ideal line-up with the current replacements:

Hanley Ramirez, SS
Albert Pujols
, 1B
Adrian Gonzalez
, DH
Ryan Braun
, LF
Andre Ethier
, RF
David Wright
, 3B
Marlon Byrd/Chris Young, CF
Martin Prado, 2B
Yadier Molina, C

And now, just a reminder, here’s what we got:

Hanley Ramirez, SS
Martin Prado, 2B
Albert Pujols, 1B
Ryan Howard, DH
David Wright, 3B
Ryan Braun, LF
Andre Ethier, CF
Corey Hart, RF
Yadier Molina, C

Charlie Manuel is trolling us all.

E: I’d like to add I have no serious stake in the All-Star game, I find these decisions hilarious.  After all, it’s just an exhibition game.

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Damn! Can Jason Heyward keep this up?

Jason Heyward’s slash stats, as of this morning, are .293/.413/.624.  That’s a 1.037 OPS.  He’s 20 years old.  He’s not old enough to drink yet, but he can mash the crap out of the ball.

For your information, only nine players in MLB history have posted an OPS greater than .950 before their age 21 season (since 1901).

1911 Joe Jackson
1929 Jimmie Foxx
1929 Mel Ott
1930 Mel Ott
1930 Hal Trosky
1939 Ted Williams
1940 Ted Williams
1953 Eddie Mathews
1955 Al Kaline
1996 Albert Pujols

And only two did it in their first season: Pujols and Williams.  Williams and Pujols both started every day upon their first call-up and both OPS’d above .950.

Even if you lower the standards to first year and under age 21, you have to dip all the way down to 200 plate appearances before you see another player (Willie McCovey, 1959).

I’d say that it’s because Heyward’s on a hot streak, but looking over his game performance, is it?  He’s yet to post a multi-homer game; he’s yet to even post a multi-extra base hit game, aside from April 15 when he had two doubles.  His BABIP is in line.  In fact, the only thing that’s slightly skewed is his K-rate, which should lower as he learns the difference between AAA and majors pitching through the season.

You know, we get all in a huff about prospects, but every once in a while, there’s a really great prospect who’s talked about all the way up and performs to that ability.  I don’t know if Heyward is that prospect, but he’s making a good case for himself right now.

We’re still a ways off from the end of the season.  That’s a testament to just how great Pujols and Williams were, but maybe we’re in the midst of watching something great.

—————————-

Since last writing about the possibility of the Marlins breaking the all-time team strikeout record, the Marlins have fallen a little bit in the race. They’re still averaging 8.1 Ks per game, but a new contender has risen.  They have 260 strikeouts in 29 games, good for a 8.96 K-rate and that would put them well above the 1,400 mark.

They are the Arizona Diamondbacks.  And in their division is Ubaldo Jimenez, Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum.  Gonna be hard to not get K’d a lot.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Can Dodgers afford to be patient with Loney?

I’m not gonna put a pretty picture on this.  James Loney put up a sub-.400 slugging percentage last season.

To put that into perspective, there have been 216 seasons of first basemen with more than 502 plate appearances between 2000 and 2009.  The median slugging percentage is .500.  Ryan Garko, despite being such a sub-par hitter for the position, has put up a better SLG% every year of his career than Loney put up last year. Only 16 first basemen since 2000 have had a sub-.400 slugging that (min. 502 AB), Loney and Aubrey Huff were the two to do it in 2009.  Loney did it in the second-most plate appearances (651), with Darin Erstad’s horrendous .371 slugging in 663 plate appearances in 2005 beating him.

Yes, Loney was above average compared to the rest of the league last year  But he was very bad given his position.  In fact, he was the second-worst offensive 1B last year, only ahead of Huff.  Even though he had an above-average on-base percentage for the league, 14 every day starting first basemen (out of 23) had a better on-base percentage.  Even in the one thing that gives him offensive value, he’s below league average for the position.

His one saving grace, and the one reason why fans haven’t turned on him, is that he has potential. Also that the team is winning, but that’s a blanketing statement.

Meanwhile, the core of the Dodgers is getting older and more expensive and this may be their best opportunity for a serious run before the major 2012-2015 crash from the lack of prospects in the minors.

Fangraphs had a very good post about Loney.  I don’t see what other people see in Loney’s swing.  It’s very smooth, but it doesn’t look like he’s loading power.  It looks like he’s deliberately not swinging for power most times.  As the Fangraphs article points out, he’s actually very good at spraying the ball to the opposite field, but he’s not swinging for pull as much as he should be–that’s where his power is.

I always try to keep things in perspective.  Big Klu didn’t come around immediately either.  That’s how it works with prospects.  It’s up to them to reach their potential.

Ted Kluszewski, however, had one above-average power year before his age 28 season. At first base, no less.

Now I’m not saying Loney will turn into Klu. Klu is a comparable, but he didn’t have Loney’s patience and patience is associated with a lot of good things in hitting.  The problem is, if Loney’s best years are still ahead of him, or even three years ahead of him, can the Dodgers afford to wait for that?

First base is a premiere hitter’s position.  Basically you want your best power hitters with no redeeming defensive qualities in these positions, by order: LF, 1B, RF, 3B, 2B, CF, C/SS.  That’s kind of old school theory, but it’s correct. Maybe you’d rather have your worst fielder in RF because fewer balls go there (now there’s a cool study), but 1B is a great position because it doesn’t require much fielding and throwing.

The Dodgers right now are fortunate enough to have the best center fielder hitter in the game.  Take his production and put it at 1B and it’s still valuable. They also have solid to above-average hitting (compared to other players in position) from third base, second base right field, left field and catcher.

Originally I thought maybe moving Ethier to first base and signing a free agent outfielder would be the best, since Ethier is such an awful outfielder. But Manny leaving next year means there’s already going to be one hole in the outfield and there is, right now, no outfielder in the minors that’s prepared to jump to the majors.

There’s a number of decent free agents available in the 2011 free agency pool at 1B and OF: Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn, Derrek Lee, Carlos Pena, Lyle Overbay and the potentially awesome return to Los Angeles of Jayson Werth.  (There’s also the potential of the Cardinals not paying Pujols’ option, and same with the Astros and Berkman, but both ideas are laughable).

The team will also have a number of their players going through huge arbitration hearings over the next three years and will need to value their money properly.  This goes for Kemp, Kershaw, Martin, Billingsley, Broxton and Sherrill, in addition to Loney.

Assuming the core of young talent becomes expensive, a cheap alternative wherever it can be found is necessary.  So Loney, even though he’s not that great offensively, becomes remarkably valuable in dollar terms.

The OF market won’t be so strong that the Dodgers can pick up two valuable outfielders for reasonable prices. The only reasonable solution would be to sign both Crawford and Werth or maybe sign Dunn to play 1B and Crawford or Werth, with Ethier remaining in the outfield.  In that latter one, you’re giving up A LOT on defense.  And that’s assuming the bidding war for those players’ services doesn’t exceed the Dodgers’ budget.

Long story short, the drop in the level of production from

Ethier OF-Loney 1B-replacement OF
to
Ethier 1B-replacement OF-replacement OF

would be too great, and that’s made even worse if the Dodgers’ money woes continue into next year.  The Dodgers would then have to trade Loney, and they’d have to give up more than they get in that.  The only suitable replacement would have to be someone so great, he supercedes Loney and the replacement outfielder’s production–and that’s basically just Pujols.

Alternatively, every free agent 1B on the market has had serious injury issues or just isn’t that good.  The only one I would consider a bigger gain than loss over Loney would be either Carlos Pena or Adam Dunn, though those two aren’t so great to warrant replacing Loney.  (Dunn, fyi, is such a bad outfielder that he almost literally negates his offensive value).

So yeah.  Maybe Loney’s not the best offensive 1B, but he’s the Dodgers’ 1B.  Hopefully he develops into his full potential, but if he doesn’t, he’s still a valuable asset to the Dodgers.

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Who are you looking forward to seeing this year?

Man.  We’re so close to the season right now, it’s just so awesome.

As per usual, since I go to 30 games, I get about 5 or so in really good seats to watch the players I’ve wanted to see or like to see the most.  Here’s who I’m looking forward to seeing this year:

  • Tim Lincecum: The obvious choice. A two-time NL Cy Young winner, his delivery is a magnificent thing.  Since he plays for San Francisco, I get to see him a lot at Dodger Stadium and he’s yet to disappoint.
  • Albert Pujols: Another obvious choice.  This man is, without a doubt, the best hitter of our time.  I thought I read somewhere that he swung and missed at a pitch fewer times last season than some people struck out, but I can’t seem to find it now.  The man is just amazing.
  • Justin Upton: Yes, I follow Keith Law’s blog.  Upton had a great year last year (.300/.366/.532 with 26 homers in 588 PAs) and he’s still only 22.  I can’t wait to see what he does in 162 games.
  • Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun: I’m not saying this just ’cause I drafted Braun in my fantasy draft this year. This pair is probably the best pair of hitters in a line-up today and I’m looking forward to the early-May match up.
  • Miguel Cabrera: Maybe the most underrated player in the game today. Detroit plays the Dodgers for the first time in a few years and they’re coming to Los Angeles May 21-22.  Cabrera had a phenomenal year last year (.324/.396/.547) and he’ll be 27 on April 18. Not bad for a guy with 200 career home runs already.
  • Jason Heyward: You can probably tell I keep up with Baseball America and a lot of prospect rankings and Heyward was unanimously No. 1 or 2.  Word came today he’s officially starting in right field on opening day, so great for him.
  • Alex Rodriguez: Hey, if you haven’t heard, the Yankees are playing the Dodgers in LA May 25-27.  The consummate professional, A-Rod basically does his thing every year.  Problems these days are if he’s going to stay healthy through the end of his career–he’s missed 60 games the last two seasons.  But he’s still the second-best hitter of our generation.
  • Stephen Strasburg: Another case of following the hype. I’m always interested in seeing what scouts see in players, this being one of those times.  Fortunately, the Dodgers host the Nationals late in the season (Aug. 6-8), so there’s a good chance I get to check him out.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez: I’ve had a crush on this guy for years and it was great to see him finally put together such an amazing year last year after all he’s done.  Can’t wait to see what he does this coming year.
  • Chase Utley: Yet another consummate professional, he does every part of hitting well and he’s a fantastic defensive second baseman to boot.
  • Tommy Hanson: No doubt a legit starter for the Braves, he pitched 127 innings last season and posted a damn-fine 2.89 ERA. He’ll be 23 at the start of the season.

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