Tag Archive | "Buster Posey"

Tis The Time For Bold Predictions Continued

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Tis The Time For Bold Predictions Continued

Posted on 30 March 2013 by Nick Schaeflein

How are those brackets holding up? Have they made it to the trash can yet? On the bright side, we are days away from Opening Day! Last week, the prediction jinx was placed on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to represent the American League in October’s Fall Classic. This week will be the National League 2013 preview.

TroyTulowitzki

There figures to be compelling season long races in both the National League East and West. The west features the defending World Series Champions, San Francisco Giants and also the new version of “Showtime”, the Los Angles Dodgers. While in the east, the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves both had very busy off seasons in the hopes of playing deep into October.

Starting out west, the rival Giants and Dodgers are expected to be in a season long two team race for the division championship. The Colorado Rockies are rebuilding and potentially experimenting with a new pitching model. Aside from Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies will have struggles and finish fifth with the campaign. The San Diego Padres will always compete with a solid bullpen and pitcher friendly park. However, in the end, the offense is not quite there to compete. They will finish just behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. The D-Backs, after making one of the impactful trades of the season will be a hard team to forecast. Ian Kennedy will have a nice season on the bump and Paul Goldschmidt is an emerging first baseman. Much like the Padres, they just do not have enough talent to compete.

The Giants and Dodgers have two very different philosophies. The Giants are a team first collective effort franchise. The sum of the parts is greater than one individual. Buster Posey is the offensive leader on the club and the pitching staff is one of the best in the league. On the other hand, the Dodgers brought in deep pockets to re-buy a new club. With one of the highest payrolls in all of baseball it will not quite be enough to overtake the champs in the divisional race. The Giants will be one, the Dodgers runners up.

For the first time in awhile, the Central Division has five teams competing. The division figures to be a one playoff team group with the Cincinnati Reds the favorites. The Reds have a balanced attack offensively and on the mound. How will Aroldis Chapman be utilized is the big question. The Pittsburgh Pirates have improved over the last two seasons. Led by MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates will continue to improve but fall short of the post season again.

With the remaining three teams in the Midwest, all will have very intriguing summers. The St. Louis Cardinals will compete. The offense under the arch has some pop. The club has two major downfalls however. The loss of Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse will have the starting rotation rely on young arms. Along with that, up the middle appears to be a weak spot and prevent a trip to the postseason. The Chicago Cubs have more questions then answers. The current outfield on the North side is not exactly Cooperstown bound but the Cubs however do have potential. They will be toward the bottom of the league in home runs, but quality of at bats will be a category they will be vastly improved in. The Milwaukee Brewers a week ago was a team that seemed to be viewed as an also ran. However, the surprise signing of Kyle Lohse makes the rotation much more improved. Can Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez carry the offense enough?

The National League East also figures to be a two team race as well between the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves. The Miami Marlins cleaned house again and figure to have fifth place locked up. The New York Mets have young arms that could keep them relevant but sadly, David Wright will not quite have the same protection he did during the World Baseball Classic. A very under the radar team, The Philadelphia Phillies could wedge themselves into the division race, and also compete for a Wild Card spot as well. Health will be the key for the Phillies. Can Ryan Howard and Chase Utley play 140 plus games? Can Roy Hallady and Cliff Lee get back to CY Young numbers?

The popular pick in the National League is the Nationals. Loaded with talent, Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez will lead the club all year. However, I expect even bigger things from the Braves. Chipper Jones is gone, but the law firm of Upton, Upton, and Heyward will be the “Big Three” in the ATL. The Braves lineup on paper is one of the best 1-7. The bullpen is top tier and the rotation will keep them in ball games. The Braves, not the Nationals win the East.

Once October hits the Wild Card match up will be east versus west as the Nationals will defeat the Dodgers and advance. Because of the weaker division, look for the Reds to be the team welcoming that wild card winner. However, the season will end there for the Reds as the Nationals will advance to the National League Championship. The other Divisional match up will pit the Braves versus the Giants. In an entertaining five games, the Braves will move on setting up an all east coast series.

With the two teams evenly matched in all categories, I am high on the Braves making a return trip to the Fall Classic to battle the Angels. An Angels versus Braves match up will be very entertaining to watch. The future of the game will be on display for both teams. In six games, I am giving the edge to the Angels to defeat the Braves in the World Series and make a short drive over to Disneyland to celebrate. Rally Monkeys welcomed.

When awards season hits, the East will be the landing spot for all of the major awards. Look for the Rookie of the Year to be in New York with pitcher Zack Wheeler. The CY Young winner will be in D.C. No it is not Stephen Strasburg, but Gio Gonzalez who has found a home in the National League and is the award winner. Both the Manager of the Year and MVP will be found on the same team. Once again, Atlanta could have a magical season after difficult ends to the previous two seasons. Manager Fredie Gonzalez and newcomer Justin Upton will bring home hardware. In a new uniform Justin Upton is the pick to click in the National League.

Soon it will be time to Play Ball and in October these will be lead pipe locks!

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MVPosey? Not so fast

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MVPosey? Not so fast

Posted on 11 September 2012 by Dennis Lawson

C’mon man!?

Under normal circumstances, I would consider it ludicrous to argue against a guy hitting .327/.402/.531/.933 winning an MVP award.  The 20 HR and 87 RBI certainly strengthen the case for Buster Posey at least being in the conversation.  He plays the most demanding position on the field, and he accounts for 5.5 WAR this season on a team leading its division by 5.5 games.

Then again, an argument can be made that he does not even rate as the best catcher in the NL.  Yadier Molina has put together a career year, and he deserves as much consideration as Posey does (if not more).  Yadi’s line of .321/.373/.505/.877 with 18 HR and 65 RBI falls just short of the offensive pace set by Posey, but the debate does not end there.  Posey gives the Giants 5.8 oWAR but just 0.1 dWAR.  Molina gives the Cardinals a more balanced 4.1 oWAR and 2.2 dWAR.

One of these players provides a lot of offense and happens to play catcher.  The other plays catcher and happens to provide a lot of offense.  Say all you want about Posey, but you cannot avoid the incontrovertible truth that he has played 22 games at 1B for a total of  163.0 innings.  He also has 3 games as a DH under his belt.  Molina has 984.0 innings at catcher and just 9.0 innings at 1B.  Posey hits primarily from the #4 spot in the San Francisco lineup.  The bulk of Molina’s plate appearances come in the #6 spot – typically accompanied by a light hitting middle infielder as lineup “protection”.

Posey has already had 159 plate appearances with runners in scoring position.  Molina?  109.  To Posey’s credit he’s hitting .355/.447/.548/.995 with runners in scoring position.  Then again, Molina hits .340/.407/.532/.939 in the same situation.  With 2 outs and RISP, Posey bats just .208/.387/.354/.741, and he’s a .313 hitter “late and close”.  With 2 outs and ducks on the pond in scoring position, Molina gives the Cardinals .320/.393/.520/.913, and he’s a .338 in “late and close” situations.  Posey wins the battle in a tie game with an OPS of 1.164 to Molina’s .848.  The end result is a 33 to 19 RBI advantage for Posey who also happens to get far more opportunities in that situation (145 pa to 100).

One of these guys throws out base stealers at a 45% clip.  The other is Posey (29%).  The league average is 26%.  Molina has yielded just 32 stolen bases this season.  Posey has given away 80 bonus base passes.  Naturally, many more attempts have been made against him, but throwing out just 32 of 112 seems a bit low for an “elite catcher”.

Of course, the debate between Posey and Molina basically could amount to a moot point.  Andrew McCutchen has basically carried the Pirates all season and has given them a legitimate shot at finishing the season with a .500 record or better.  If you believe that the MVP must come from a playoff contender, then maybe you should just take your elitist attitude out of my sandbox.  If any player in the NL has been more “valuable” to a team than McCutchen, then I have yet to see him play.  Cutch carries a .966 OPS for a team that doesn’t have another regular within 100 points of that.

When the debate points bring you to a logical conclusion, I believe the following to be true:

  • Posey would not have quite the production numbers he has if not for Melky Cabrera hitting .363/.401/.547/.948 in the #3 spot this season (before getting suspended for being a really bad cheater).
  • Molina would not merit consideration without being in a stacked lineup with a bunch of .800+ OPS guys.
  • The Pirates would be on the way to the team’s 20th consecutive losing season if not for McCutchen accounting for 6.2 of the team’s 13.3 WAR provided by batters.

Maybe we should change the discourse to focus on Cutch instead of the guys who catch.

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chapman

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Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Aroldis Chapman

Posted on 14 August 2012 by Chris Caylor

Welcome to this week’s edition of Who’s Hot, Who’s Not. This week we appropriately feature a flamethrower and a repeat performer from last week (in a different category) plus a few others. Away we go…

Hottest of the Hot

Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds – Unhittable. That’s what Chapman has been virtually all season. Over the past two weeks, he has racked up 7 saves and 12 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings with no walks. So far this season, Chapman has punched out 106 batters in 57 innings versus a mere 14 walks. In 2012, he has decreased his BB/9 from 7.4 in 2011 to 2.2, while his K/BB ratio has improved from 1.73 in 2011 to an eye-popping 7.57. To give you a basis for comparison, Mariano Rivera pitched to a 7.50 K/BB ratio during his sterling 2011 campaign. That’s how good Chapman has been this year.

Who Else is Hot?

Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants – Posey has picked up where he left off in 2010, when he won NL Rookie of the Year. In the past week, he clubbed 6 home runs, drove in 16, and put together a.465/.586/.930 batting line. The catcher position is no longer the shallow fantasy baseball wasteland it used to be (unless you’re in a two-catcher league), but Posey is a Top 5 catcher, and his first base eligibility is handy too.

Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers – I think Kemp likes having Shane Victorino and Hanley Ramirez around him in the lineup. He has hit safely in 14 of his past 15 games, batting .443 in that stretch. Kemp sports a 1.067 OPS for the season and has approved proportionally in each category over last season. The Dodgers and fantasy owners are happy to have Kemp back and productive.

Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox – Look who’s finally heating up. After getting off to a miserable start, Gonzalez is punishing the ball the way we have become accustomed. In the past week, A-Gon has hit a pair of homers, driven in 14 runs and slugged .857. Although the home run numbers remain down, Gonzalez is on pace to drive in over 100 runs for a fourth season.

David Price, Tampa Bay Rays – Price’s stats this year are remarkable. Putting aside the 15 wins (on pace for 20), Price hasn’t lost a decision since June 13. Given how feeble the Rays lineup has been without Evan Longoria, I find that noteworthy. Price also is on pace for over 200 strikeouts, with a K/BB ratio of 3 to 1. Similar to Justin Verlander, Price is consistently able to throw in the mid to upper 90s late in ballgames. With the Rays’ exceptional pitching and the return of Longoria, the Rays will be a fascinating team to watch the rest of the season.

Who’s Not?

Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels. Last week, Pujols was leading the Who’s Hot list. This week, not so much. The big slugger has gone 1 for 23 the past week, good for a batting line of .043/.120/.043. Last week, I mentioned that the Angels were a scary team because of all the big names on the roster and how good they could be if they put it all together. However, they are 3-7 in their past 10 games and have fallen to third place, behind the amazing Oakland Athletics. Pujols’ up-and-down weeks illustrate the Angels’ enigmatic season perfectly.

John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers – Last year, he was the Ax Man, a long-haired, flame-throwing closer who led the NL in saves. This year, he has become the Wax Man, because opposing lineups are mopping the floor with him. Although his K/9 ratio has gone up this year, it is completely offset by drop-offs in his H/9, HR/9 and SO/BB ratios. In 2011, Axford was worth 2.4 WAR; this season, it’s -1.5. Yikes.

Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals – As sensational as 2011 was for the Big Puma, 2012 has been the polar opposite. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Sunday that Berkman suffered cartilage damage in his left knee, most likely due to overcompensating for his surgically-repaired right knee. He insists he will return in 2012, but you have to wonder how effective he would be. If he does return in 2013, Berkman may be better off doing so as a DH in the American League. I hope he is able to return. Baseball is a better game with guys like Berkman in uniform.

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RyanSeacrest

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R.A. Dickey is the best thing to happen to Fox since Ryan Seacrest

Posted on 12 July 2012 by Trish Vignola

As much as I hate to admit it, Tony La Russa’s decision not to start R.A. Dickey in Tuesday’s All-Star Game turned out to be a good one. Good for Fox. Good for Baseball.

I might have cursed La Russa for not starting Dickey. I might have questioned Buster Posey’s manhood for his ability (or lack there of) to catch a knuckleball. Nonetheless, ratings for the All-Star telecast peaked at a 9.0 between 10 p.m.-10:15 p.m. EST. That was when the Mets knuckler entered the game in the sixth inning. An entire inning after La Russa originally claimed he would use Dickey, but who’s keeping track? If you would like to keep track, follow my angry tweets starting from the top of the 5th (@trishvignola).

R.A. Dickey, a 37-year-old baseball lifer, apparently knows better than me that the National Pastime has no sense of urgency. (Ever watch a Yankees/Red Sox game?) So, when the pressure of starting the game was off for Dickey and my disappointment set in, Dickey did his best to keep things simple on the day of his first major league All-Star Game. I’m sure having four kids under 10 in a hotel room helped.

“Everybody came in first thing in the morning, climbing on the bed, like a normal day,” Dickey told The New York Daily News.

Looking down at the nails he uses to throw baseball’s only knuckleball, Dickey is now a star (and a bit feared) amongst All-Stars. He knew that morning he would shortly be standing on the Kauffman Stadium mound throwing his knuckleball against four American Leaguers. 

“Maybe that’s when he’ll be able to appreciate where he is, and how far he’s come,” said Leslie Wheeler, R.A. Dickey’s mother, to the Daily News. I sure hope he did. Most are now pointing to Dickey, for Fox’s ratings boon. The network recorded an 8.1 overnight All-Star Game rating. That was 2.5% better than the 7.9 overnight rating in 2011.

Viewers apparently stayed with the blowout, which was won by the National League 8-0, to watch Dickey. Opting to not make a strong comment regarding La Russa’s decision to start San Francisco’s Matt Cain instead of Dickey (for that, friend me on Facebook), Joe Buck and Tim McCarver pushed Dickey’s story beginning in the first inning. By the 4th, the anticipation for Dickey was event television.

“R.A. Dickey’s story is one of the best in the game, one of the best you’ll hear about anywhere,” Terry Collins told the News.

Dickey was finally summoned by Tony La Russa to start the bottom of the sixth, which is five innings later than I thought he should’ve pitched. The score by then was 8-0. Although the drama was low, Dickey ran in from the bullpen to the sounds of triumphant cheers. (Trust me, Royals fans don’t throw their cheers around lightly. Ask Robinson Cano.)

“I felt like I was on stage at a Broadway musical,” Dickey said outside the National League clubhouse after a clean, 15-pitch inning. “It was well worth the wait.” Hello! That performance was Book of Mormon worth the wait.

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Finding Keepers:San Francisco Giants

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Finding Keepers:San Francisco Giants

Posted on 26 March 2012 by Gary Marchese

The Giants won their first World Series in a long time in 2010.  They were looking at having a good season in 2011 and a chance to repeat.  They failed to even make the playoffs last year and are looking to bounce back this season.  They haven’t made too many dramatic changes since their World Title.  They basically have the same core of their team.  Here is a look at their team and some of the guys I would keep on my team if I was picking from their roster.

SP Tim Lincecum is a no brainer as a keeper.  He is one of the best in the game and he is a young pitcher that should keep on going for a long time.  He was 13-14 last year but had a 2.74 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.  He is 69-41 in his career with a 2.98 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.  Lincecum is one of the best in the game and it should stay that way for many years.

SP Matt Cain is another good young pitcher.  Matt Cain can become a free agent after this season so I would expect a huge year from him.  He was 12-11 with a 2.88 ERA last season.  He is 69-73 in his career with an ERA of 3.35 and a 1.20 WHIP.  I am not sure if Cain will be with the Giants or another team next year but he is a good pitcher who could thrive anywhere.

SP Madison Baumgarner is another good young pitcher that the Giants have on their team.  He was 13-13 last season with a 3.21 ERA.  He was 7-6 in 2010 with a 3.00 ERA.  He is 20-19 in his major league career with a 3.10 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP.  He is one of the good young pitchers that they have.  The reason you see such records is because the offense of their team has really struggled but their pitching is tops in the league.

Closer Brian Wilson, fear the beard.  He is a good closer who had 36 saves last season, the year before he had 48.  He had 41 saves in 2008 and 38 in 2009.  He is a guy that gets  you 35+ saves a year.  He might not be my first choice for closer but if he was on my team I wouldn’t get rid of him too easily.

C Buster Posey is coming off an injury but he should be fine and ready to go.  Posey burst onto the scene in 2010.  He hit 305 with 18 homeruns and 67 RBI in 108 games.  He only played in 45 games last season before getting injured.  He was hitting 284 with four homeruns and 21 RBI at the time of his injury.  He should be a good catcher for many years to come and I wouldn’t want to give up a guy with his talent.

1B Brandon Belt came up last year as the top Giants prospect.  He only hit 225 but did have nine homeruns and 18 RBI in 187 at bats.  He also three bases.  He isn’t a guy I would want to get rid of just yet especially in a keeper league.  He should continue to get better and has the tools to be a very good major league player.

CF Melky Cabrera is a pretty good player.  I don’t know if I would keep him around as a starter but I like to have him on the bench.  I have always liked him as a player.  He has a 275 career average and has some pop and could steal some bases.  I think he is a very useful player.  He played last year in Kansas City and hit 305 with 18 homeruns and 87 RBI.

3B Pablo Sandoval, the Kung Fu Panda.  He is a good young player.  He had a down year two years ago but bounced back nicely last year.  He hit 315 with 23 homeruns and 70 RBI last year.  The year before he hit 268 with 13 homeruns and 63 RBI.  He is a power hitter who usually hits for a pretty high average as well.  I would like him as my third baseman if he was on my team.

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