A few days back I discussed who the three most logical 3B to build a team around were.
Now, I will dive head first into the shortstop position.
Remember though, these are the three Shortstops that I would build
around, based on contract, talent, performance–both offensively and
defensively–makeup, etc. They are not the three best SS. Well, I
guess they could be. But that is not the intention.
The three SS, in order:
- Hanley Ramirez: Is there anyone else? Sure, he may end up
at another position…but even that I am not sure about. According to
UZR, Ramirez has been okay with the glove this season. That UZR
currently stands at 0.5. And if you take out 2007, his defensive
numbers aren’t as atrocious as his reputation would lead you to
believe. Over the past two seasons, he’s actually been middle of the
pack as far as defensive shortstops go. But offensively is where he is
strongest. Currently, Ramirez is hitting .319/.398/.562, in a pitchers
park. Talk about production. Over the past two seasons, no shortstop
even comes close to Ramirez’s offensive production. Seriously, not
even close. His wOBA of .414 is so far from second place Derek Jeter
(.355) it is ridiculous. His contract is expensive…for the Marlins.
But he actually has a great contract, although somewhat expensive if
you are a small market team like Florida is. The last three years of
it he’s going ot make $15-$16.5 million per season. If he stays in a
Marlins uniform through that contract, it will be very surprising. But
they DO need to have the face of their franchise there for the fans if
they are going to have a new stadium. But there is no other viable
choice over Ramirez, as he is the most logical choice to build a team
around at the SS position.
- Jose Reyes: This is tough. Reyes is one of the most
talented players in the game. But his mentality is in question. He
makes base-running gaffes. He makes other mental mistakes along with
those. And right now he is hurt. But he will come back. And he will
play pretty well upon return. Over the past two seasons, he is still
second in WAR among SS’s, all this while playing in all of 36 games
this season. Reyes is still only 26 years old, so his prime is just
beginning–His supposed prime anyway. And he brings both sides of the
ball to the table, plus the ability to be a force on the base-paths.
Pre-injury, Reyes was batting .279/.355/.395, with a negative UZR. But
that UZR has been strong in the past, and there is no reason someone
would ever say Reyes is a poor fielder. Because he’s not. He is a
plus defender at the most coveted position on the pitchers side of the
catcher. Reyes is only under contract one more season–at $9 million.
But in 2011, there is an $11 million club option, which will definitely
be exercised. Reyes is a heck of a player, and I would gladly take him
as my SS if Ramirez was off the board. But…
- Troy Tulowitzki: …Tulo is hitting again. And there are no known questions about Tulo’s desire. And
there is no reason to believe that Tulowitzki will forget the situation
and make a blunder. So if he and Reyes were available, I would have to
think long and hard about which player I would take. The past three
years have Tulo seventh in WAR. And aside from his “sophomore slump”
there has been nothing but stellar play out of Colorado’s stud SS. But
just like every other Colorado player that has ever stepped into the
batters box, there are questions about the home/road splits. Tulo is
hitting .290/.369/.486 at home, and .257/.326/.403 on the road over his
short career. So there are definite questions there. However, his
defense is his biggest strength. An astounding UZR of 14.9 in 2007, a
sub-par 2008 all -around (injuries), and this season that UZR is back
up to 2.5. Tulo is under contract for a potential of five more seasons
after this year. Which may or may not be great for a given club.
Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer in the history of the
universe. In any universe, any galaxy, any planet, any day, Rivera is
the best option available.
My timing is impeccable, not unlike Mariano’s command. For Rivera
of course just recorded his 500th save, allowing him to stay second on
the all time list, however move up one unit. But had Rivera not
recorded that save last night against the Mets. And had he never
recorded another save in his life. He would still end up better than
any reliever we have ever seen.
As mentioned, impeccable control. The cutter is a great pitch, but
not alone. Mariano could put that cutter anywhere he wanted to, on any
given pitch. So if he couldn’t have commanded it like that, it
wouldn’t be as great-obviously. For there is more to pitching then
simply movement and velocity. There is also placement. And Rivera
probably could have hit a penny, floating in air, down and away to the
greatest left-handed hitter in the game. And then come back in,
hitting that same penny, inside to that same left-handed hitter.
And that is my point. It could have been Barry Bonds. Whoever was
at the plate, it didn’t matter. Rivera wasn’t intimidated. He knew
that he had control of the situation, and “command” of the results.
There is no closer that I have ever seen that is really close to
Mariano. Trevor Hoffman was great, but not quite on the same level.
Others came before, and while they were utilized quite differently,
they still don’t match up with Mo.
According to ERA+, you know who is at the top? Rivera, that is who. And that ERA+ is a remarkable 197.
That doesn’t mean that he’s the best pitcher ever, because
he isn’t. But simply being at the top of that list means that
greatness is what Rivera was made up of. Maybe even pixie dust, as his
magical ability to do what he wanted with the baseball was pretty
Speaking of unreal, have you seen his WARP1?
Now, I do not personally feel that WARP is good when comparing
relievers to starters and position players. But nevertheless, it
displays Rivera’s true greatness having a number like that.
What really impresses me are Rivera’s non-save numbers anyway. Not
numbers in non-save situations. but any number outside of the save.
Because the save is a pretty meaningless “metric,” sometimes.
Rivera, over 15 seasons so far, has 973 K’s, to only 247 walks. And
what is just as impressive is that Rivera has improved throughout his
career in the Bases on Balls category. Back in his first two seasons,
95′ and 96,’ Rivera allowed 30 and 34 free passes, respectively. In
2007, he walked 12 batters in 71 innings. And in 2008, only 6 walks.
6! That is something if I have ever known what “something” was.
Those K and BB numbers give Rivera a 4:1 BB ratio, which is clearly a great ratio for anyone.
And all that adds up to a Hall of Fame career. 499 saves would have
given the closer the same result. 400 saves would have given the same
And no I didn’t forget…
Rivera in the postseason. How could one forget? Do you know what
his ERA was? 0.77. And with that super-low Earned Run Average, was a
5.81 K to BB ratio. I guess if clutch exists, then this might be a
place where an argument can be made.
Mariano Rivera is a first ballot, no doubt Hall of Famer. And I would like to see anyone argue otherwise.
And this is coming from a Red Sox fan…
- Fire Brand: Over at Fire Brand
I search through the gamelogs and come to a conclusion about how the
Red Sox have done against pitchers they have yet to “see” this season.
- Will Billy Butler be great or what?: Butler is only 24,
but his power really hasn’t developed as planned. With a current line
of .286/.340/.443, and a wOBA of .342, he falls in at 13th in the AL in
that category. He’s tenth in WAR at the position (AL only), so it
doesn’t get much better when looking at overall value. I wish I could
find some improvements in the numbers, but there is really not much to
go on. A slight increase in wOBA, a slight decrease in laying off
pitches outside the strike zone. And a UZR that barely makes a
difference over the course of a season. Hopefully he will develop that
- The legend of Tommy Hanson: How many years did it take
Michael Jordan to have a dominating performance while having the flu?
Many, many years. But Tommy Hanson did it in his rookie season. Even
though Hanson was recovering from it, while Jordan may have been closer
to the middle of it. But Hanson’s velocity was down, as he generally
has thrown an average of 93 MPH on his fastball this season. But
yesterday, we saw a lot of 91 on the gun. Yet, he still shut down an
above-average lineup. So far in his young career, his control has been
a problem, 17 walks in 29 innings. He has impressive stuff though, and
should be a great pitcher…one day.
Sometimes I like to think outside the box.
Being inside the box all the time, well, it can get a tad boring.
Because being “inside the box” doesn’t have much creativity, much
adventure. It doesn’t always take many chances. I can sit there and
attempt to bring you the information through statistics, but it isn’t
always fun for me. Especially when I am writing a blog about Chad
Yes, Chad Gaudin.
Former A, Cub, and current Padre. I know, it does get that boring for me sometimes.
But here is a suggestion, an exploration.
How about trading Jonathan Papelbon?
Look, I understand the hesitance among many when discussing a
subject like this. Discussing a role that, really, is still valued in
a way that many feel uncomfortable with. But I, on this hand, this
hand right here in front of me, do not value the closer highly. Or at
least not as high as many that think a team’s success is so dependent
upon how great the closer is.
It isn’t that I don’t think Papelbon is great, and it’s not that I believe that he isn’t an important piece to the Red Sox success.
But since I may even undervalue the closer, and feel strongly that
some general manager out there will overpay for that dominant “Closer,”
that sense of late-inning security. Then this would be the reason that
I am exploring the subject to begin with. That and the fact that
Papelbon will eventually want huge dollars that would be considered
“overpayment for services rendered.”
And remember, this doesn’t have to take place right now. It could
be “explored” after the season concludes. Messing with success isn’t
always the best way to go about things.
But what could the Red Sox acquire in exchange for Jonathan
Papelbon? Their future catcher plus another good prospect? A young
starter and a position player prospect? Carlos Santana?
I really don’t know. But I have a feeling that someone can be duped
into thinking they need a dominant late inning guy, even if the cost be
too much from an outsiders view.
Again, “dominant late inning guy” is a great piece of the puzzle. But it isn’t worth what I feel Pap could retrieve.
I do however understand that doing anything with this right now
could be messing with the perfect formula. The Red Sox are playing
great, the bullpen is a strength (a serious strength), and
Papelbon–even though the walks are ridiculous right now (4.36/9)–will
eventually get his “stuff” together.
When Papelbon first came up, in 2005, he was decent enough. But as
many young pitchers struggle, so did Papelbon. And what he did then,
results wise, is eerily similar to what he is doing now.
In that 2005 season, Papelbon struck out 9.00 per nine, walked 4.50
per nine, and gave up 1.06 homers per game-frame. That results in an
FIP of 4.31.
Well, get this. His numbers are scary identical in 2009. 9.00 K’s
per nine, 4.50 BB’s per nine, 1.09 homers, and an FIP of 4.27.
Tell me that isn’t strange.
And for some reason, each year starting in 2006, we have seen a
decrease in the use of the split-finger fastball. It is now down to
being used 9.3%. As we are aware, the split has been demoted. But it
really isn’t for the slider. No, the slider is being used roughly the
same amount of time.
It is still–as you may have heard–being demoted for the fastball.
Papelbon throws his fastball 80% of the time. I know, a little too
much. He has good secondary stuff (split, slider), but he chooses not
to use it. Sure, the fastball is easily the best pitch. But he’s not
Marinao Rivera. he doesn’t have a devestating, near unhittable
cut-fastball. So the reliance on the fastball, which has been getting
harder this season, isn’t logical. It is not logical to rely on one
pitch so heavily. Not when the results aren’t there.
And commanding the fastball, controlling it, would help resolve this
situation some, help ease the numbers back to where they should be.
But don’t take this the wrong way. This isn’t written in subjective
fury. I am not simply suggesting a trade for the sake of doing it, or
for the sake of giving into my frustrations.
I am suggesting this because losing Papelbon would avoid having to
go through contract negotatiations with a player that will probably be
so far away from reality that the deal will probably never get done.
And I am suggesting it because it could very much “better” the team
down the road, addressing possibly two positions of need.
Jonathan Papelbon is a great closer. And his struggles will go away
assuming he’s in good health. But if you live by the theory that “no
one is untradeable.”
Then, how about exploring a trade of Papelbon?
Mark Derosa is not a great player. But he is a solid piece to the
puzzle. And the Cardinals needed that “piece” to improve their
Currently, Derosa is hitting .270/.342/.457. More than solid for a
middle infielder, decent enough for a 3B, and less than spectacular for
a corner outfielder. His ability to simply field multiple positions
however, increases his overall value. Derosa is basically a
below-average fielder all around the infield. But a positive
contributor, defensively, out in the outfield. But still, he is very
flexible, and will play anywhere the team asks him to play. And will do
that unselfishly. Plus, his fielding skills may be below-average, but
he isn’t so horrendous that he shouldn’t be out there at all.
So if the Cardinals do in fact play Derosa in the infield the
majority of the time–which seems likely. Then his bat projects well
enough to deem him worthy. Meaning that, since the Cardinals needed an
infielder, that maybe the Indians could have asked for a little more.
On the other side of the trade…
Chris Perez is a very good strikeout pitcher. A reliever with a K/9 of 11.41. However, Perez walks a ton
of batters. 5.70 per nine this season. And at least 4.26 everywhere
he’s been (Majors and Minors). So this must be corrected.
Perez has been somewhat homer prone as well, giving up over a home
run per nine. Something which will drive a manager–and the
fans–crazy. Relievers tend to have their home runs magnified, since
they occur in the later innings.
He does throw hard, with an average velocity of 94 MPH this season,
95 last season. And with a slider, thrown roughly 33% of the time, he
is known as a two pitch pitcher. Two pitches are sufficient for a
reliever, assuming the pitches are effective of course. And he does
have a curve too. But he rarely throws that curve, leading me to
believe that it isn’t any good.
There seems to be some potential with Perez, especially with that ability to sit batters down. But the walks must be fixed.
I still wonder though if the “player to be named later” will be
enough to make this trade worthwhile for the Indians. Because a
reliever that needs to be corrected, seems to be less than they could
have received had they held out a little longer.
Shapiro corrected a flaw in the team. But personally, I feel like
he could have gotten more. Although that unknown player included will
give us more of an understanding once he is named.
When one is asked, “Which 3B would you most like to build your team
around.” It is not the same question as, “Who is the best 3B in
For example: Alex Rodriguez is easily one of the five best 3B in the
game. But no one wants to build a team around a player on the wrong
side of 30, who is under contract for ten more years at a salary
between $20 and $32 million per year. Even the Yankees wouldn’t want
that if they were able to choose some of the other younger, cheaper 3B
that would be available in this scenario. And that applies even if
Rodriguez was not trying to play while avoiding a future surgery that
must be had.
So remember, the three 3B that a team would build around is not necessarily the three best 3B. Money, age, and the quality of player matter a lot.
On to the three best building blocks at 3B, in order:
- Evan Longoria: Longoria is only 24 and has already
established himself as one of the absolute best 3B in the game. His
offense may be what he is most known for among the casual fan. But
Evan is adept with the glove to go along with that amazing ability to
hit. Over the past two seasons, Longoria has the best UZR among all
third baseman, in both leagues, at 23.4. Adding to his
reputation as an astute student of defense, he also finished sixth in
John Dewan’s +/-. But we cannot ignore that offense. His mannerisms
at the plate have always reminded me a bit of the great Edgar
Martinez. And his offense hasn’t been too far behind either. Adding
in the fact that Longoria plays defense, and plays it well, he actually
has the potential to be better than Edgar. Although, those are some
lofty expectations that really shouldn’t be placed on the kid.
Longoria is currently hitting .312/.391/.588, and his WAR is currently
number one in the bigs, right ahead of teammate Ben Zobrist. The
contract is very team friendly as well. Since Longoria is already
great, the six year, $17.5 million deal looks to be absolute genius.
Add in three additional years of club options, albeit at a more
expensive price, and the Rays have the best bargain at the position in
all of baseball. A 3B that can rake, play great defense, and is rather
cheap. Hmmm, sounds like the best choice to build around, at least to
me. Not to forget, but Evan’s been doing all of this right smack-dab
in the middle of the AL East as well.
- David Wright: Wright is one of the ten best position players
in baseball, easily. His Gold Glove gives us a feeling that he is a
great defender, but above-average seems more of an accurate
description. Wright, over the past two years, falls well below
Longoria in UZR, but Wright is a great player regardless. His current
line sits at .351/.439/.500. And although he has been lucky on
groundballs, as Fangraphs has pointed out, Wright is still a great
hitter and very well could have had an MVP to his name by now. Over
the past three seasons, David Wright has been the third best hitter
among 3B, behind Chipper Jones and Alex Rodriguez (acording to wOBA).
And his WAR is actually the best among the position over that
three-year period. One could make a strong case that Wright has been
the best 3B in baseball over recent years, although that is debatable
with Rodriguez, Jones, and Miguel Cabrera having been around. His
contract is a little more expensive than Longoria’s. So that is an
obvious reason why he falls in number two, rather than number one.
Wright is still owed $39 million over the next three seasons, which is
still under his value, however, not exactly cheap. And his contract
has a team option for $16 million in 2013, something that should almost
definitely be exercised. Wright may not be great defensively, but he
is adequate. And that offensive prowess more than extends his overall
value virtually through the stratosphere.
- Ryan Zimmerman: I must start by saying that Ryan Zimmerman
is a pleasure to watch with the glove. Having seen him in Spring
Training, and against the Red Sox recently, that only increases my
interest in seeing his glove-work. Zimmerman has finished second to
only Fielding Bible award winner Pedro Feliz over the last three
seasons combined (UZR). And over that same stretch, he has come in
sixth among third baseman in +/-. I know that Zimmerman had an
incredible thirty game hitting streak, we all know. But since then his
bat has cooled off a ton, as he has hit only .232/.333/.364 since the
incredible stretch. So the jury is still out on how good of a hitter
Zimmerman actually is. With that being said, we know he is
above-average. And we know his glove is very good. So what we have is
a good player overall. And the Nationals just locked Zimmerman up to a
very reasonable contract extension: 5 years, $45 million. $9 million a
year is probably going to be well under what he could get on the open
market. Even if his bat is simply “better than average.”
There you have it, the three 3B I would build a team around. Evan
Longoria, David Wright, then Ryan Zimmerman. All three are great
players, and all three are being paid below what the market would
suggest they be paid, if of course, they all hit free agency.
His peripherals are all slightly worse. But Cain’s ERA sits at 2.57
Now, I don’t doubt the guy’s stuff. Or his potential. But his FIP
is higher this season, his HR’s/9 are higher, his K’s are lower, his
BB’s roughly the same.
And his LOB% is an unsustainable 86.7%. Meaning that allowing base-runners will eventually lead to more runs.
Oh, and the BABIP is .266. Meaning that balls will fall in more
often moving forward, while those base-runners are making homes on the
base-paths. Nothing great is being shown by Cain in the numbers. Not that I see anyway.
Good? Why yes. But his ERA suggests that he’s been great. And
while Cain has a great fastball that retrieves very good results. His
slider and curve have not been effective this season. Although to be
fair, his change-up has been solid.
Matt Cain is a great talent, any scout will tell you that. But I am
not so sure that he’s a great pitcher just yet. The numbers show that
struggles will begin to take place for the youngster.
But don’t get me wrong, for this guy has all the potential in the world.
- Eric Byrnes may be fun to watch…But he was never
worth that huge contract. And now he is hurt. I dont want to place
the organization at fault for the injury, but I do place them at fault
for doling out the contract to begin with. In 2007, Byrnes had a
career year, a year in which he was most likely to never have again.
Then, a somewhat financially constricted team, with a surplus of
outfielders, chose to ink a deal for three years, $30 million. And
they are regretting it. Granted, the “surplus” of young outfielders
turned into other players, as they chose to trade a few of them. But
this is exactly what teams with financial constraints should avoid,
dishing out contracts to players that aren’t worthy. Especially
contracts that are given to a player that has never done much, then all
of a sudden comes out and does something. That, my friends, we would
call a career year. Since Byrnes can play center field, he isn’t a
terrible player. But with the crop of players the Diamondbacks had on
the farm, it just didn’t make sense for them to lock him up for a bunch
- Kevin Millwood isn’t good: Once upon a
time, Millwood led the league in ERA. I give credit to “league
adjustment” for that occurrence. Right now, his ERA sits at 2.62, in a
hitters park. But here’s the thing: Millwood is striking out fewer
batters per nine, and walking just as many as in previous seasons. His
FIP is pretty high for that ERA, at 4.47. And his BABIP is very low,
at .263. The reason for the low ERA? Improved defense. The Rangers
finished dead last in “Defensive Efficiency” last season. Well, this
season they are currently fifth. That is why Millwood looks good.
That, and luck.
- The Angels apparently made a good decision: On the
offensive side of the ball. Which is crazy, I know. But Juan Rivera
is batting .306/.351/.504. And not only that, but according to UZR,
Rivera is valuable defensively too. Which may or may not mean much.
Let the season play out before we establish whether or not Rivera is
all of a sudden a great defensive left fielder. For that matter, I
need more time on the offensive side of the ball too. And those
offensive numbers, for a corner, are nothing special anyway. Yet,
still pretty good. Rivera isn’t expensive, so right now he looks like
a bargain. But there are still two years+ left on the contract.
- JD Drew playing great in June?: Seriously?
Really? I wasn’t aware that he was playing so well this month.
Adequately? Yes, I can see that. But .291/.466/.509 with a .438 wOBA
(which is 10th in baseball). This is why this guy is
under-appreciated. Sure, the numbers are not everything, but he just
goes about his business and does his job. I watch almost every game,
and I didn’t realize he was hitting so well in the month of June. Not this well
anyway. It isn’t like last years June, as I have seen very few
stretches comparable to that. But Drew is quietly having a nice little
season, again, albeit it is not spectacular, just nice.
- The Green Monster: Dave Allen over at The Baseball Analysts
attempts to explain whether or not the Red Sox utilize the Monster
enough for that to explain their dominance at home. But his conclusion
presents this interesting tidbit: No. It seems that opposing teams
change their swing more than the Red Sox do to try to get the most out
of that giant wall in left field. Odd, I know.
Why do the Marlins insist on batting Emilio Bonifacio at the top of the lineup?
Tonight, they had him batting second. Again, why? Why would you
want to give that many AB’s to such a poor hitter. The only
explanation could be that they want to stay out of the double play by
having a fast runner in the two-hole. And that is not a worthy
explanation. Not even close.
Sure, that matters. It is nice to have a hitter that isn’t doubled
up easily, but the said player needs to get on base often first. And
second, they need to flash at least a little power if a team is going
to invest so much in them throughout the course a season.
But Emilio Bonifacio, as fun as he is to watch when he is playing
well, just doesn’t play “well” often enough. His current line is
.240/.289/.290. This isn’t a scenario where the Marlins don’t have the
personnel do bat anyone else in that spot either. A hitter hitting
like that, with a bad track record, simply does not deserve to hit
there, or at all.
If Bonifacio is on the roster, he should only pinch run and play
defense when needed, prefereably at second where he is best, or seems
to be best according to UZR. And since Uggla is defensively
challenged, Emilio could be called upon when the Marlins have a lead,
for defensive purposes.
But for some reason he gets these AB’s high in the order. I know
that they don’t bat him leadoff anymore, which is a step in the right
direction. But they batted him second tonight, and I saw it for my own
…Which would make him five years away from Cooperstown. Or it
better anyway, as the guy is a clear-cut first ballot Hall of Famer.
my greater understanding, has come my appreciation of a player such as
Craig Biggio. And now I understand why Bill James ranked him ahead of
Frank Thomas, as far as the greatest players of the 90’s are
The list, which I have referred to before, looks like this:
1) Barry Bonds
2) Craig Biggio
3) Ken Griffey Jr.
4) Frank Thomas
Number one cannot be disputed unless PED’s are brought up.
Number two can
be disputed. And I personally have him fourth on my non-existent
list. Although do appreciate him much more so–a middle infielder with
a good set of offensive skills.
Three and four move up a slot, but stay in the same order (Griffey then Thomas).
anyway, Frank Thomas was as great a hitter as most will ever see. His
WARP is better than both Griffey’s and Biggio’s, at 95 wins above a
replacement player. And that shows how great he really was, as the Big
Hurt didn’t offer, or contribute really anything of value on the
defensive side of the ball.
Thomas, if his career is in fact
finished, will have an OPS+ of 156. Over 19 seasons, well, that is
just incredible. A line of .301/.419/.555 is just as astonishing. And
he hit well every.single.year of his career with the exception of a 20
game, injury riddled season in 2001. And in a 71 game season in 2008,
in which he was released by the Blue Jays, at the age of 40.
Two MVP’s to his name, and Thomas was well-deserving of both. Very well deserving.
OPS+ of 156 falls in at 19th all time, tied with Manny Ramirez, Dick
Allen, and Willie Mays. Not bad company, not at all.
was great at helping his team reach the bullpen as quickly as possible
too. Thomas reached base a ton, as mentioned, and took well over four
pitches per plate appearance. The guy was a patient beast. He
wouldn’t beat himself often by putting himself into pitchers counts.
And when he did swing, he mashed.
Simply put, a great, great
hitter. And there is no reason that any voter should not vote for him
during the first year of eligibility.
And yes, Bill James, I do believe that Thomas was better than Biggio :)