June 2008

I’ll Have What He’s Having…


     And by what, I mean to clearly to be talking about the hallucinogenic drugs that Tommy John happens to be on. 


     Read the link and agree…not necessarily to him being on the drugs, as that was obviously to make a point as to how ridiculous his claims to be:  Tommy John


     I am not dishonest, so I will admit that I found this link while reading Rob Neyer’s blog.  Nor do I care, as Neyer finds his links while reading others’ works as well.  And since I don’t get paid, I do not have the desire to be browse quite as many websites as Rob does.  It isn’t that I do not care, it is that I have another job.  But good for Rob, he does something he loves…AND GETS PAID FOR IT. 


     There are two things that intrigue me about this article regarding Tommy John.  One being the fact that Tommy John is adamant about the FACT, in his mind, that Pedro is not a Hall of Famer.  The second is less tangible.  It is assumed that through the way Tommy John is acting in the interview, that he feels he has a stronger case for the Hall than Schilling, Smoltz, and Pedro.  


     First, Pedro has the highest ERA+ and is arguably the most dominant pitcher of all time.  3rd in K/9, ever!  3rd in K/BB, ever!  Ok, he is 15th all time in total strikeouts with 3,051.  So his counting numbers are not quite as good as his rate numbers.  But last time I checked, 15th is really, really good.  He is a no doubt, first ballot Hall of Fame pitcher.  


     Just wanted to get that one out of the way.


     An explanation as to why John might not realize?  I don’t know how involved athletes stay within their respective sport, and I don’t know how involved John has been within the game of baseball.  But sometimes listening to former players speak about the game, they just seem out of touch with it.  And that is fine, they played the game, some may move on to enjoy other things.  But from experience, I have learned that some athletes drift away, at least somewhat, from whatever sport that they have played.  Maybe John has gone about it the same way.  And I am sure that they check in on ESPN sometimes, or watch a few games here and there.  But I doubt they hover over their computer, searching the BaseballReference archives like I do.  And again, I don’t know how much John has kept in touch with the game.  And again, also, I don’t disagree with not keeping up with the sport.  That is his/their choice.  But research should be done before making such claims, as John did.  And he apparently has not done the RIGHT research. 


     The second point that the artcicle made, was that it was “Clear” that John felt he was more worthy of induction than Smoltz, Schilling, and Pedro.  This is not set in stone.  I wasn’t at the interview, and John apparently did not actually SAY this.  So we are making assumptions here.  But let us assume that John does believe that for a second.  If it was true, than his ERA+ of 110, which was worse than all of the pitchers mentioned, by a minimum of 17%, would that somehow be justified by his extra innings and wins?  Exclude wins, I don’t care about them.  Innings I do care about.  And John totaled over 4,000 of them.  But the quality of innings matters most, and he just does not stack up to the other pitchers mentioned.  But again, this was assumed by the ones giving the interview.  The impression was not given that John actually said this. 


     I also do not doubt that Tommy John was a good pitcher.  But to put himself on a pedestal over three great pitchers is simply arrogant.  Either arrogant or just desperate for induction.  Tommy John pitched until the age of 46.  And he wasn’t all that good at the end, but it is still pretty cool that he could stand on the mound for that long.  But that isn’t enough to change my opinion about whether or not he was better than the Hall of Fame caliber pitchers above, because he wasn’t.  Tommy John needs to do research before making such claims.  It is disrespectul to players like Pedro and a little embarassing for himself.                








Johan The Very Good?


     One thing that I hate is when discussions occur about Hall of Famers.  And someone on the message board takes it upon his or her self to say, “It is the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Very Good.”  I’m sorry, maybe others find humor in this, but I cannot stand it.  The first time it might have been ok.  But after reading just about every one of Rob Neyer’s message boards for the past two years, I seem to see it ALL THE TIME now.  And it isn’t as if it’s not accurate either, just annoying. 


     But anyway, Johan was once nicknamed “Johan the Great.”  Or so I have heard.  But the Great Ship may have sailed away and his little canoe may not have the speed to catch up with it.  And unless he comes across a motor on one of the deserted islands he comes across, it is probably on its way, far, far away from Johan.  


     Of course perception does not intersect with reality…again!  I don’t remember which “expert” was talking about it the other day, but they referred to Johan’s performance in defense of his “struggles.”  And they were right!  An ERA+ of 140 going into today’s actions.  95 K’s in 107 IP.  28 walks!  I don’t deny that Santana has lost something.  After all the scouts say it is true.  But it isn’t as if he is some mediocre innings eater either.  And I am skeptical to sit here and say that he will end the year with an ERA+ of 140.  There is a period of adjustment that the hitters are going through, hitters in the NL that aren’t familiar with Santana.  So his numbers may come down just a little, they may not however.  The fact is that he is still a very good pitcher!  Santana is 7th in ERA+ in the NL.  He is 4th in K/BB.  12th in K/9.  Etc, etc, etc.  His ERA has actually gone down since May 10. 


     All of those stats indicate that Santana is still worthy to be mentioned among the top pitchers in the game.  And 107 innings since many of us declared him to be the best pitcher in the game isn’t enough to disqualify him from that status, or at least the status of being ONE of the best pitchers in baseball.  I know that he gives up more home runs nowadays.  And I don’t doubt that he will be closer to what he IS now than what he Was then.  But what he WAS was incredible, and what he IS is very good.  And most teams would love to have a “Very Good” starter anchoring their rotation.         

Pedro is the Daddy.


     “What can I say?  I tip my hat and call the Yankees my Daddy.”




     The greatest pitcher, at his peak, in the history of baseball, said this after yet another frustrating outing against the vaunted New York Yankees.  And Pedro hasn’t had much redemption on a personal level since, he hasn’t had many chances.  Because while Wins and Losses don’t mean much when evaluating a pitchers true performance.  I am almost positive they matter on a personal level.  I have a difficult time believing that a pitcher doesn’t enjoy earning a “W” next to his name, rather than a “no decision (ND),” or even worse, a “Loss.”  And Pedro has beaten the New York Yankees only once since that emotion-rattling 2004 season.  A 2-0 victory on April 25, 2004 was the last time that he (Pedro) walked off the mound victorious as a member of the Red Sox against the team that he personally declared to be his “Daddy” (But winning once as a member of the Mets). 


     We all know how that 2004 season played out.  The Red Sox had the last laugh and Pedro had the ultimate revenge.  Yet he never actually earned a “W” against them after he spit out the quote mentioned above, even though they won game 5 with him the starting pitcher that day.  And a World Series title means more than one win, no matter who the team is.  But on a small personal level, I have a strong feeling that Pedro really wants to beat those same Yankees.  And he gets another shot at it tonight.  With diminished velocity and an injury seemingly lingering just around the corner with every pitch, he GETS HIS CHANCE…again.  


     Pedro has had three chances to redeem himself on a personal level since he joined the New York Mets.  In 2005, Pedro pitched seven strong, giving up one earned, allowing five baserunners, and watching six Yankee hitters walk back to the dugout with their heads down.  But the Mets lost the game.  Later that season, Pedro finally earned a win against his biggest personal rival (on the baseball field):  Eight innings, eight runners occupying a base, and three K’s (not particularly impressive in the strikeout category).  But the Mets beat the Yankees.  And Pedro finally received some closure.  In 2006, the Yankees beat the Mets…again.  But Pedro was as good as he had been against the Yankees in a long time.  Not 17 K, one-hit good.  But good regardless:  7 innings, 4 hits, 1BB, and 8 K’s.  Oh, and ZERO runs, zero earned, and zero unearned.  But the Yankees rallied, off the good, but overrated Billy Wagner, to scored four in the ninth, and 1 more in the eleventh to earn a victory. 


     But Pedro has been pretty close to idle the past year and a half, making five appearences in 2007, and five more in 2008.  So he hasn’t had a chance to face them in a while.  I am sure that his emotions will be stirring a little.  He may end up saying that it is “Just another game.”  But it isn’t.  This was his greatest rival for many years, and he had some incidents against them.  I think that it is safe to say that, Martinez and the Yankees have a “history.” 


     But one thing that I kind of enjoy is the notion that Pedro hasn’t fared well against the New York Yankees.  Some want to remember what happened the last few seasons in Boston, when Pedro was very good, but not incredible as he was before.  In 31 career starts against the Yanks, Pedro has a 3.03 ERA in the regular season.  In 211 innings he has wiffed 257 Yankee hitters, while walking only 58.  Pedro has a WHIP of 1.00.  That is completely dominant.  This is not only the most successful franchise in the history of the sport, but is also the most successful of the past 12 seasons as well, seasons in which Pedro has taken the mound against them.  The fact is, Pedro Martinez has actually been the Yankees’ “Daddy.”  The Red Sox haven’t, but Pedro has.  He is only 11-10 against them, but those aforementioned numbers tell us how he has actually performed, and that is simply GREAT.


     Memories are stronger the later something occurs, or closer to the present.  Some fail to remember what he was, and what he did the majority of his career against the Yankees.  So remember 2004, if you wish.  But 1999 happened too.


     And Pedro takes the mound, against the Yankees tonight.  He may get shelled, he may not.  But it is Pedro against the Yankees, and I will be watching.       

Tonight I Will Be Watching…


     Josh Beckett vs. Dan Haren on ESPN.


     And casually watching…


     Felix Hernandez vs. Johan Santana via MLB.com


     Can’t ask for much better in terms of pitching matchups than that. 



Schilling > Hershiser < Smoltz


     The Prince of New York and I are in the midst of a friendly little discussion, brought up by the very possible retirement of the 41 year old Curt Schilling.  And of course it has inspired a blog, via The Statistician Magician.


     It isn’t so much that Schilling is a Hall of Famer or not, it is whether or not he is as deserving as a pitcher such as John Smoltz.  Although, just for the record, I am a “Schilling for the Hall” advocate.  Maybe it is because I have seen his best years, and some of the most memorable postseason performances a single pitcher can have.  But maybe, just maybe, it has a lot to do with the numbers too. 


     The fact is, is that Schilling and Smoltz may very well be finished with their careers, due to the fact that each has just suffered a significant injury at a very old baseball age.  So let us assume they never pitch again.  If they don’t, then their ERA+ of 127 are duplicated by one another.  They are EXACTLY the same!  And as the decent expert opinion of Rob Neyer suggests, each would probably only hurt their Hall chances if they did choose to come back and pitch another year, or more.  It wouldn’t be anything that would completely sway the Voters’ opinions one way or the other, but it almost definitely would be a year in which they would perform worse, than we as fans, are accustomed to.  Remember, coming off a significant injury at this stage in one’s career, is a very, very difficult task.  And to perform at a high level is even more difficult.  And I doubt that Schilling and/or Smoltz would try and come back if they knew failure was around the bend.  Each would have to think and know that they can be effective, not necessarily great, but effective.  Because neither of them will ever be able to duplicate what they did when they were Great pitchers. 


     But these two have have posted incredibly similiar numbers throughout their careers.  Careers which most would love to have.  A few stats stick out though.  One being the exact same in the ERA+ category over their careers, that I mentioned above.  The fact that they have done this over basically the same amount of innings makes it feel even more identical.  Schilling threw 3,261 innings over his career.  Smoltz pitched 3,395.  An almost irrelevant difference of 134 innings.  To jump off subject a little, just for a second, in 2002 when Smoltz had 55 saves, after being converted to Closer, he pitched a total of 80 innings.  Schilling that season pitched 259 innings on way to an ERA+ of 142.  Schilling, during that 2002 season, had a better ERA+, and a better WHIP as a starter than Smoltz did as a closer.  The following season Smoltz was absolutely incredible as a Closer, but Schilling was still very good as a starter.  And that 2003 campaign was the only season year where he was a Mariano Rivera-caliber Closer (the other two years he closed full time Smoltz was good, but not absolutely incredible as he was in 2003).  So what if he racked up some Saves?  Why should this matter in the voters eyes?  A great starter has more value than a great closer.  I am sorry, but that is the way I feel.


     On to a few others stats: 


     Strikeouts:  Curt Schilling had 3,116 K’s to Smoltz’s 3,011.  Again, basically the same.  There is nothing significant that separates the two in this category either.  Over the course of an entire career, 105 strikeouts means little, when comparing two pitchers. 


     Walks:  Or bases on balls if one prefers.  Schilling let 711 batters walk down to first base for free, Smoltz 992.  Schilling actually wins that category. 


     WHIP:  Schilling has a very slight edge in this category too.  He wins by an almost meaningless margin of 1.137, to Smoltz’s 1.170.  Not meaningless, but very close. 


     Where does Orel Hershiser come into play?  Well, “The Prince of New York” agreed with Orestes Destrade that Schilling and Hershiser had similiar careers.  I don’t agree with this.  Nothing against Paul (Prince), or Orestes, but Schilling was a better pitcher.  Period.  One can say what they want about what Hershiser would have been had he not “blown out his shoulder” as Paul puts it, but that is baseball.  I cannot compare what Hershiser might have been, with what Schilling WAS.  That is simply not something that is valid.  Hershiser may have gone on to be better, as his early years indicated, but he didn’t, and he wasn’t.  His ERA+ is 15% lower than Schillings, he struck out 1,000 fewer batters, and walked 300 more than Schilling, in roughly the same amount of innings.  I don’t see how he is all that comparable.  Good, yes.  Hershiser WAS good, but while Schilling and Smoltz are more “borderline” Hall of Famer’s, Hershiser is simply not worthy. 


     “And just one more thing,” to quote the great Ace Ventura.  All three posted GREAT postseason numbers.  Schilling a 2.23 ERA.  Hershiser a 2.59 ERA.  Smoltz a 2.65 ERA.  Not much debate that all three were great in the playoffs, they were, that cannot be argued.  And naturally Smoltz’s ERA was slightly higher because he threw more innings.  So leaving it at all three being great is probably the best bet when comparing what they did in October.  


     So while all three were good, Smoltz and Schilling were clearly better, leaving Hershiser behind.  But some voters may go on the fact that Smoltz added 154 saves, while Schilling simply did not.  The fact of the matter is, is that Schilling and Smoltz do not separate themselves from one another.  They are so close that if one goes in, the other must too.  I believe they both should get in.  But if one gets in because he added a different element to his game, even though it actually had less individual value, then there is something seriously wrong. 


     Oh, and in case you are wondering, I avoided “Wins” for a reason.  Too many variables.  But my readers know that I feel that way about the very overrated, and untelling stat that is “Wins and Losses.”      

A “Victorino” in the Number Two Hole?


     Shane Victorino seems to have been a little more built up than what his actual perfomance indicates.  Batting him in the number two hole excited the Phillies…or so I heard via some expert within the past year or so.  But what is he really?  Coco Crisp?  Melky Cabrera?  A decent at best offensive threat who plays the most meaningful outfield position?  Which has value, but that doesn’t always warrant him to be viewed as a positive offensive contributor.  The Phillies may not have anyone else to fill that number two spot, so that is understandable, but that doesn’t mean that Victorino is a good number two hitter.  Jayson Werth has batted in the two hole a total of fourteen games this season.  And I assume that most of those have been against lefties, as he has hit pretty well against them throughout his career.  But Werth isn’t really all that much worse against righties than Victorino is, even though Victorino is a switch hitter, giving him a well-earned advantage.  So I would suggest the Phillies continue to bat Werth in the two hole against left handers, if, they have in fact been doing that already.  But in a lineup where there are above average offensive contributors in the leadoff spot, and in the 3, 4, and 5 spots, Victorino seems a little out of place.  They could move Utley up, but that would give him a few less opportunites to drive in runs, but in turn give him a few more at bats.  So it probably wouldn’t matter all that much.  But I just feel that what I have heard about Victorino supercedes what he actually is.  He is a decent player, but is below average offensively.  So I am not suggesting that he is not warranted a starting job, but I AM suggesting that the Phillies should try and have him bat lower in the order than he has been, if possible.  Because I wouldn’t want Coco Crisp batting in the two-hole if I were a serious contender.


     And nothing against the guy personally, as he may be a great guy.  I have no idea.  And this doesn’t mean that he is a bad player to start either, because he is not.      

The 5 Best Second Baseman in Baseball.


     Chase Utley has some work to do, but as Rob Neyer pointed out, he may end up being one of the best to ever play the position.  The late start is really the only thing holding him back at this point, because the numbers he is putting up now are incredible for any up-the-middle position.  Jeff Kent may get into the Hall of Fame simply for his offensive numbers, but a player like Utley not only hits with just about everyone in baseball, at any position, but plays a good second base as well.  Kent of course is now on the downside of his career, probably only playing another year, if that.  And the postion isn’t as top heavy as the SS position is.  So this probably isn’t going to be as interesting a read, nor was it as interesting to write (still fun though).  Here is the list, and once again I am taking into account past AND present performance.  Because one does not become the best at a position in a 70 game sample. 


  1. Chase Utley:  Not even a contest.  Most positions can be debated as to who is actually the number one player at the position.  Not this time though.  Utley’s OPS+ is currently 158, which is freakish for the position.  Joe Morgan, arguably the best at 2B ever, had three seasons better than this, so it will be very difficult for Utley to surpass a guy like that, at least on the field.  The Broadcast booth is a different story however, as Utley would only need to show up on time to take the job away.  But Utley is so well-rounded at this point.  He is one of the best fielders at the position, leading all second baseman during the 2005-2007 seasons in Dewan’s plus/minus system.  Defensive stats are not “say all/end all” or however that phrase is worded, but it’s much more accurate than not watching the player nearly enough to make a judgement on how good there is range/arm/glove are.  That I know for sure.  But Utley has 22 home runs, and the All Star break hasn’t even arrived yet.  Unbelievable!
  2. Dan Uggla:  This was difficult for me to decide.  But Uggla has been very, very good this season.  Comparable to Utley, not really on a what they actually are, but they have been through this season.  As far as I know, Uggla isn’t a good defensive 2B.  Actually, he isn’t even average.  His “Plus/Minus” was dead last among all 2B during the 2007 campaign, and his reputation hasn’t fared much better.  But he has been a beast offensively this season, with a 156 OPS+, 19 homers, and a .613 Slugging in a pitchers park.  And it isn’t as if he wasn’t above average the last few seasons either, as far as 2B as concerned, posting OPS+’s of 112 and 108.  He is 28 and I don’t know that he will improve on what has been pretty horrendous defense, but he more than makes up for it with his current mashing. 
  3. Robinson Cano:  Great talent, but what is wrong with him this season?  I have no doubt that he will have a good second half, unless there is some underlying problem that we do not know of.  An OPS+ of 60 is miserable, but the last two years sat at 126 and 120.  Very good years for a middle infielder.  Do not be surprised when he bats .380 in the second half of the year.  But his patience is pretty terrible, and that NEEDS to improve a little for him to move up.  Especially since the entire Yankee philosophy happens to have adopted the exact area of a hitters game that Cano needs to work on.  So why can’t he adjust and take a few more pitches when he is surrounded by eight players, in a great lineup, who do it so well?  But he is only 25, and a very probable batting title candidate going forward (next year and beyond). 
  4. Brian Roberts:  Mitchell Report or not, he has found a way to continue to hit the ball well.  Meaning once again that the effects of PED’s are exaggerated, or that he is secretly beating the drug testing system that the MLB has in place.  OPS+ 123.  And three of the past four years Roberts has been a good player, but had one down year in 2006, where he ended up being pretty close to an average offensive player (OPS+96).  He is an above average defender according to Dewan’s omnipotent defensive metric (hyperbole).  And he gets on base, hits for power, plays defense, etc.  Can’t ask for any more than that. 
  5. Placido Polanco:  Polanco is a little underrated, especially on such a loaded team.  Two of the past three years he has had an OPS+ of 120 or higher, with one down year in between the two stellar seasons.  He is a sure handed defenseman, and is actually good in the plus/minus system two.  His Slugging is down this year, but his OPS+ is still at 106, which is of course above average.  I don’t know that anyone else could fill this spot.  


     There you have it, the “say all/end all” list of the five best 2B in the game.  A few may have been worthy, but I just chose these guys.  Dustin Pedroia needs to show me more than one good year.  Mark Ellis, I had in mind, but just couldn’t separate him from Polanco.  Ian Kinsler is having a very good year, but I need to see more of that.  And Brandon Phillips hits a lot of homers but his park helps him out A LOT.  


     Until next time…       

Giambi Having Very Underrated Year.


     Jason Giambi once held a press conference for the media and admitted to using “something,” which was steroids of course.  And he came forward for making this mistake, even if he left the door open a little while doing it…in more ways than one.  Then, after everyone counted him, including myself, to an extent, he started performing again.  I never thought that he was going to be a bad player though.  As a matter of fact, I defended Giambi’s starting role last season when people were calling for Mientkiewicz because he had such a good glove, at, “cough,” first base.  The point was that Giambi could always get on base, and always hit for power while he was doing it.  Doug Mient, only had one thing to offer, and that was the ability to turn a few plays into outs over Giambi (I also felt that Mient could benefit from the short porch, something that Giambi benefits from anyway though).  But Giambi’s offensive contribution at the position was always more valuable then what Mient brought, and it wasn’t all that close.  Now I admit, I felt that the Yankees should have tried to find a way to rid of Giambi because he was being payed an absurd amount of money.  And I still believe that, although just letting him walk after the season is the most logical move at this point, as they don’t have anyone to produce like he has for the rest of the season.  But he has been good this season, and some people don’t seem to be paying attention.


     At the beginning of the year when he was batting like .191, he still had a .350 OBP or so, if I recall correctly.  So he was taking his walks, while he was struggling swinging the bat.  Another Jamesian defined quality (walks help alleviate slumps).  And there was little doubt that his average would jump up, at least some.  But of course there were skeptics.  No one knows for sure how much steroids helps performance in baseball, so naturally we all felt that he may be suffering the natural effects of not being on them.  But then Giambi was all of a sudden back on track.  His average is only .258, but more importantly his OBP is a very good .392.  He has walked one more time than he has struck out.  And has slugged a percentage of .560!  OPS+ 57% better than the league average. 


     The slugger has a few flaws.  He isn’t a good first baseman on the defensive side of the ball, and regardless of what he has done this year defensively, is never going to be.  Giambi has had trouble against “power” pitchers this year, leading us to believe that maybe he has lost some bat speed?  At the age of 37, I wouldn’t doubt it.  But even against the power pitchers in the league he has still found a way to get on base, it is just that his slugging is much lower against these types of pitchers, naturally.  He has performed poorly with runners in scoring position, but doing this poorly is more of the deficiency in a small sample size.  With runners on in general, Giambi has good numbers in about twice as many plate appearences. 


     But when all is said and done this year, Giambi will have a good enough year.  He may not finish like this, but one can almost guarantee he stays above average all year.  Of course, no one, no matter which team they watch on a daily basis, can deny the fact they have thought that Giambi is back on some kind of PED, whether it be some new undetectable substance or whatever.  It is just our nature.  But Hopefully he is not.        

Harang Bests The Masterson.


     Aaron Harang had a chance to show me what he was made of tonight, and he did not disappoint.  Well…He created a little disappointment within because he defeated the Red Sox, but objectively speaking, he lived up to his underrated hype.  His fastball has some distinctive movement on it, and he throws hard which makes it that much harder to pick up on.  The Red Sox lineup was not familiar with Harang, so he had that going for him.  But Drew had faced him seven times going into tonight, and Harang still made him look bad on two occasions, and not particularly good on the other one either.  Mike Lowell, also coming from the NL, did have one hit but it was only a single.  He made three outs to go along with that one bagger  Seven strikeouts, zero walks, and four hits for Harang, not bad, not bad at all.  He is much better than his meaningless record indicates, and is a better pitcher than what his ERA represented coming into the game. 


     On the other side of the hill, Masterson did not disappoint either.  Allowed seven baserunners, three earned, in just one out short of seven innings.  But he struck out nine, and his ERA now sits at 2.90.  There is no such thing as too much pitching, trust me on that, and depth in general.  And although Masterson may end up in the pen, and almost definitely will down the stretch run for this season, he has shown that he can be an effective starter (some signs of it anyway).  That is if the organization chooses to pursue that direction for him down the road.  


     I knew that this would be a tough series going in.  Harang is a good pitcher.  I didn’t count this as a loss, but it ended up being one.  Tomorrow they get Edinson Volquez, a pitcher they have never seen who is pitching “lights out” baseball and that may be an understatement.  Let me reiterate that, it is definitely an understatement.  Granted, the Reds aren’t very familiar with Wake’s knuckler, but if it isn’t doing much in the dancing department, then it won’t matter too much.  And Sunday they get “Doh” Bailey.  A promising young starter who hasn’t fulfilled that promise yet, just needs some time.  I am not too worried about facing Bailey, but I am Volquez.  96 strikeouts in 81 innings doesn’t build up my confidence, that is for sure.      



5 best Shortstops in baseball.


     The shortstop position is one that has switched leagues in terms of strength.  Nomar Garciaparra declined through numerous injuries and of course moved to the DL on an NL team, taking away what was a great SS from the American League.  Miguel Tejada was traded to the NL and in return the Orioles acquired the bat of Luke Scott and ridded of Tejada as he was not needed in Baltimore (rebuilding).  Of course Alex Rodriguez shifted positions, even though he shouldn’t have for the good of the team, but nevertheless is no longer ****.  Derek Jeter is still one of the best, but the NL is now where it’s at, in terms of the SS.  Hanley Ramirez was nearly an AL stud as well, but was moved to Florida for Josh Beckett.  Now Ramirez is tearing the cover off of the ball, and apparently tearing a hole in his glove.  He along with a few others have helped the NL become the premier place for the “6.”  


     When ranking the five best at the position of SS, or any position for that matter, I will take into account what is happening right now, but will put a lot of stock into what has happened in the past too.  Using Jeter as an example:  He isn’t what he once was, but he is still good.  I know that he is a better hitter than he has displayed this season, but he is also not what he was in 99′ either.  I must keep all of this in mind, because Christian Guzman is not making this list, even though he somehow leads all Shortstops in “Win Shares.”  And the five best SS in baseball are…


  1. Hanley Ramirez:  I know, I know, he doesn’t know how to use a glove, nor does he know how to manipulate John Dewan’s “Plus/Minus” system.  But the kid can hit.  Can ABSOLUTELY hit, with the best at any position.  His OPS+ his rookie season of 116 was only 2% lower than Jimmy Rollins’ career year last year (118).  I’ve heard much about Ramirez maybe needing a position switch sometime in his career, but right now his bat makes up for his lack of glove.  Current OPS+ of 145 duplicates what is was at the end of last season.
  2. Derek Jeter:  It is time for a position change for him.  But the thing about Jeter is that there may be no one in baseball who I would trust to come through in a meaningful situation.  I know his slugging is terrible right now, close to 100 percentage points below his career average, but I have a hard time believing that this will continue.  I know that Jimmy Rollins is coming off an “MVP” season, and I know that Jose Reyes would be a better option for the future.  But Jeter’s OPS+ last season was better than Rollins’ best year, and was better than Reyes’ best also.  I just have a hard time placing those guys in front of Jeter right now, even with his terrible up-the-middle range. 
  3. Jose Reyes:  The potential is limitless.  But he seems to be lacking something.  Good enough with the glove, and has tons of power, but maybe mentally is just not quite there.  I wouldn’t know for sure, as most of what I know of this is secondhand.  But he has a lot of power for ****, and gets on base enough, but maybe not ENOUGH for how good he is supposed to be.  There will be more from him, and eventually he may be number one on this list, but for now this is accurate I would think. 
  4. Jimmy Rollins:  Personally, I think Rollins is good, but I think that last year was kind of a fluke year.  He will be among the best SS’s, but I don’t think that he will be in any serious MVP discussions again.  He knows how to field the position, and can hit fairly well too, but last year he hit better than ever.  I just cannot put him any higher than this.
  5. Miguel Tejada:  Tejada is still hitting.  He may not be the Tejada of the past, but he is still pretty good, offensively of course.  I honestly don’t even know that Tejada would be on the list if I did it later in the year, as the others featured here most likely would.  And I don’t know that Tejada should even be at SS at this point.  But not every team has a replacement at the position, so there are always going to be bad defensive players at each position, in relation to the rest of the league.  He is still producing though.  OPS+ 113.  His career OPS+ is 114, so he hasn’t lost much with the bat, although has lost some if this season is compared strictly to his prime years.