Archive for February 8th, 2013

Friday: 02.8.2013

Top 10 Shortstops Right Now

Tonight MLB Network will continue the 2013 iteration of their “Top 10 Right Now” series at each position capped off with a “Top 100 Overall”. They will air both the third base and shortstop shows on Friday evening. I always enjoy this series and generally look forward to it after the New Year since I eat up just about any fresh baseball content I can as we wait for pitchers & catchers to report. Instead of putting up my lists after they air their selections, I’ll post mine ahead of time and then compare notes after the shows air.

Note: This is my last “Right Now” list. Next week they are doing Managers and starting the top 100, I’m not participating in either of those.

This is not a fantasy list!!

Shortstop wasn’t easy due in large part to the fact that the position is THIN. There were only eight shortstops who posted a wRC+ over 100 and you could squeeze a ninth in if you dropped the PA requirement to 300. I had trouble with some of the glove-only guys who are so good in the field, but just so bad at the dish. J.J. Hardy and Brendan Ryan can pick it like no other, but they give back the value at the plate, especially Ryan. Meanwhile, bat-only guys were much easier to justify, but still tough (looking at you, DJ).

THE LIST

10. Derek Jeter (NYY) – He is slated to be ready for Opening Day after his ugly injury in the playoffs so he definitely has to make the list, but I can’t ignore the fact that he is just NOT a good shortstop and really never has been. He’s going to be top 3 on every list on the show and I’ll vomit each time. Bill James will have him first.

9. Andrelton Simmons (ATL) – With only 49 games of major league experience, it’s hard to place him much higher than this and some will lose their minds at him over Jeter, but his defense is amazing and we’re talking about right now. It’s not hard to envision Simmons out WAR’ing Jeter in 2013 given his defensive edge.

8. Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE) – His being an offensive stalwart at the position by comparison to his peers definitely helped. The metrics don’t like his defense, but highlight shows do because he seemingly gives a gift nightly.

7. Starlin Castro (CHC) – I’m not sure the metrics can measure this defense. The precocious Castro seems to just be scratching the surface of his talent and three straight seasons of just above average work at the dish before age 23 portends upcoming greatness.

6. Ian Desmond (WAS) – I wish he’d walk more, but the rest of his game is pretty strong. He had a breakout year at the plate and he’s just entering his prime so it’s not out of bounds to expect more of the same. The metrics don’t love his defense, but I don’t feel like it’s ever been atrocious and last year it graded out well.

5. Hanley Ramirez (LAD) – There is some projection in this ranking because Desmond was better across the board last year, but I think Ramirez is going to have a nice year with Dodgers. His defense has never special, but his bat has been often.

4. Elvis Andrus (TEX) – The walk rate is going the wrong way, especially for a guy who brings zero power. He’s a great defender, but not even league average with the bat. That said, he’s 24 so I doubt we’ve seen his offensive peak.

3. Jose Reyes (TOR) – If Miami thought they were buying the 2011 version of Reyes, they are dumber than we all thought. Last year he topped 133 games for the first time in four years and played quite well, but he’ll be adjusting to a new team again in 2013 after being traded to the Jays. Still one of the best.

2. Jimmy Rollins (PHI) – He’s not quite the MVP-level Rollins, but still a really good player and I think he is somewhat underrated at this point. I’ll be very interested to see where the MLBN lists have him. On one hand, he has name value which they seem to lean toward, but on the other, there is a perception that he’s faded.

1. Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – Yes, he is coming off of a 47-game season, but he is just so good in every facet of the game that a full season of his game will lap the field. His best season is his 122-game 2010 so even if he doesn’t make it thought 2013 unscathed, he can still easily be the best SS in the game.

What do you think? Any major misses?

Friday: 02.8.2013

Top 10 Third Basemen Right Now

Tonight MLB Network will continue the 2013 iteration of their “Top 10 Right Now” series at each position capped off with a “Top 100 Overall”. They will air both the third base and shortstop shows on Friday evening. I always enjoy this series and generally look forward to it after the New Year since I eat up just about any fresh baseball content I can as we wait for pitchers & catchers to report. Instead of putting up my lists after they air their selections, I’ll post mine ahead of time and then compare notes after the shows air.

This is not a fantasy list!!

Both Kyle Seager and Brett Lawrie were heavily considered, but in the end they had to be left off this year. I think both will take a step forward in 2013, but not enough to merit a spot. Seager specifically has to combat Safeco Field where he was 200 OPS points worse last year (632 to 835) and I’m not sure the moved fences are going to make that much of a difference. Lawrie was just edged out by #10.

THE LIST

10. Pablo Sandoval (SF) – Two straight years shortened by injury is worrisome, but he looked plenty healthy in the World Series (that jerk!).

9. David Freese (StL) – More than adequately followed up the World Series generated hype with his best season yet. It also happened to be his first full season. There probably isn’t much growth left at 30 years old, but he should sustain in 2013.

8. Chase Headley (SD) – A jump from 4 to 31 home runs is excellent, but how sustainable is it? The power surge came out of nowhere, but Headley as a remarkably talented player isn’t new. He completely understands what Seager is dealing with in Safeco.

7. Martin Prado (ARI) – He was inexplicably included in MLBN’s LF list given the precedent they set with Shin-Soo Choo as he will be a third baseman this year with the D’Backs. A bit underrated because he doesn’t do any one thing extremely well, but instead holds his own in every facet of the game adding up to a damn fine player.

6. Ryan Zimmerman (WAS) – Essentially lost the first three months to injury. Sure, he was playing, but he wasn’t himself carrying a sub-700 OPS through June and even a week into July. That he ended at 824 tells you how great he was the rest of the way.

5. Aramis Ramirez (MIL) – One of the more underrated players in the game in my opinion. He is a fantastic hitter who has been below league average just twice since becoming a full-time player in 2001. He’s a capable third baseman, too.

4. David Wright (NYM) – Simply one of the best in the game. He does it all and he’s still just 30. He really cut into his strikeout rate last year, too, hopefully that’s a skill that has returned because the three years of 20+ percent wasn’t serving him too well.

3. Evan Longoria (TB) – We know he’s a superstar, we’ve seen it, but we haven’t seen that transcendent year yet as his last two have been cut short by injuries. It’s coming.

2. Adrian Beltre (TEX) – It’s so close, but his defense doesn’t do enough to make up the gap between he and #1. My little love letter to him was part of the Spring Training Countdown.

1. Miguel Cabrera (DET) – Far from the best defender at the position, but easily the best hitter. Plus he wasn’t the overwhelming disaster on defense that most people expected. There may be no finer hitter in all of baseball.

What do you think? Any major misses?

Friday: 02.8.2013

Top 10 C – Review

Last Friday night, MLB Network unleashed their Top 10 First Basemen Right Now along with input from host Brian Kenny, former MLB catcher Dave Valle, and special guest Bill James. There was no list from Kenny this time around because he usually shares his on his show Clubhouse Confidential and unless I missed an episode, I haven’t seen one from him. So we’ve got the two guests and The Shredder, which is MLBN’s “objective” system that allegedly just uses the raw data of recent history to project 2013. The Starting Pitcher list for 2013 told me all I needed to know about its objectivity, though. There’s no way it’s simply processing data to come up with its list.

Here are all three lists from MLB Network-related folks and then I’ll address them separately:

top10Clists

The Shredder

There is no real way to justify Carlos Ruiz at three prior to his offseason news, but then when you factor in his 25-game suspension, it just makes no sense. As with first base, there isn’t too much disagreement among the actual guys who belong in the top 10, just slotting. At some positions, I had three or four different than some of the lists, but the max is two at catcher. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Buster Posey swept first place, but he really shouldn’t have since we are judging the best catcher. Yadier Molina is a significantly better catcher than Posey and he played nearly 200 more innings at the position than him. Posey outdid him offensively, but part of that advantage is mitigated by the fact that he played 29 games at first (and raked). In fairness, he still outhit Yadi in his catcher-only numbers, but that’s where the defense comes in.

Salvador Perez at six and more importantly ahead of Matt Wieters makes little sense to me, too. Wieters hasn’t hit like we expected when he was in the minors, but he’s better than Perez at this juncture.

My inclusion they didn’t have: Brian McCann

Dave Valle

I thought he too overrated Ruiz and not including Carlos Santana annoyed me a bit (though he isn’t particularly good at actually catching which I’m sure bothers Valle a good bit as a former catcher himself), but NO JOE MAUER???? Not at all? OK, his caught stealing rate was awful this year at 14 percent and he only played half of his games at catcher, but doesn’t the offense as a catcher at least merit a top 10 slotting?

My inclusions he didn’t have: Mauer, Santana

Bill James

This might be the first James list that didn’t have at least one head-scratcher selection. Well actually, A.J. Pierzynski is pretty close to that. He’s terrible at catching and James of all people can’t possibly believe his 2012 is a new level of performance that will be maintained. And he obviously cares about defense because I’m assuming Ryan Hanigan’s MLB-best 48 percent CS rate is the only reason he made the list.

My inclusions he didn’t have: Perez, Alex Avila

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