Tag Archive | "Third Baseman"

The Mets Say Goodbye to Larry Wayne….Thank God!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Mets Say Goodbye to Larry Wayne….Thank God!

Posted on 09 September 2012 by Trish Vignola

New York Mets fans have been on a first-name basis with Larry Wayne “Chipper” Jones since 1995. It was then that Jones hit his first of many big league home runs at Shea Stadium. To make matters worse, it was a ninth inning game winner. Since that day in May, Jones has been readily identified by one name…kinda like Yogi, the Babe or Snooki.

Chipper Jones is one of the only visiting baseball players I can think of whose New York identity rose to the one-word level. A certain familiarity exists with him in these parts. It is one that has bred a degree of contempt for the Braves third baseman in Gotham. Jones has been a formidable foe, something it pains me to write. However, MLB.com says it better. “He has been the primary party pooper in the Mets’ recent history.”

Whether identified as Larry, Mets fans’ preferred way of taunting him, or Chipper, Jones has been synonymous with defeating the Mets since…I don’t know, forever? New York, as well as New York Mets fans, has come to regard Jones as they once regarded Pete Rose. They loathe him, but secretly would have given their right arm for him.

Few opposing players have battered the Mets during their 51 seasons as Jones has during 19 of them. Jones undermined the Mets at every turn. A shot at Shea, a sac-fly at Citi, and that doesn’t even touch what he did to them in Atlanta. Jones and Mike Schmidt have hit 49 home runs each against the Mets. Only Willie Stargell hit more has hit more. Only Stargell and Schmidt have driven in more runs against the Mets than Jones at 158 as well. Although Jones didn’t do much against the Mets last night, he is probably contemplating what lasting damage he can inflict on the Flushing faithful in his final five games against them.

Yes, it’s always been Larry Wayne against the entire borough of Queens.

Before the first pitch was thrown in last night’s game, the Mets saluted the player who so often has personified a wet blanket in Queens.
“After what Chipper did against us that year [1999], he had to be the MVP,” former Mets third baseman Robin Ventura said this summer to MLB.com. “If I was managing then, I probably would have held up four fingers [intentional walk] when he was on deck.” That’s a no brainer for even slowest armchair quarterback.

Ventura and some of his contemporaries recall vividly how Jones single-handedly created a path of destruction through the Mets’ September. The Braves led the Mets by one game with 12 games remaining for both teams. They played three games in Atlanta.

• Sept. 21: Jones hit home runs in the first and eighth innings against Rick Reed and Dennis Cook. The Braves won, 2-1. I had one helluva headache that night.

• Sept. 22: Jones hit a two-run home run in the first inning against Orel Hershiser and walked and scored the Braves’ final run in the eighth. The Braves won, 5-2. I think I threw a high heel at the wall.

• Sept. 23: Jones hit a three-run home run in the fifth inning against Al Leiter. The Braves scored four times in the inning and won, 6-3. I cried in the shower.

Sigh.

“It was the high point of my career,” Jones said earlier this season to MLB.com. You think?! “I had four hits in the series, all home runs. That was as good as it gets for one player. You know you’ve carried your team in a real important series.” If none of the other Braves showed up to the ballpark that series, it wouldn’t have mattered.

“Lots of guys have a big series, or they get real hot and you can’t get them out for two or three days,” Leiter said years afterward. “But Chipper was like a bomb that went off, only at the perfect moment. He just leveled us that series.”

Larry Wayne will not be missed, but he’ll never be forgotten.

Comments (0)

Official Scoring Change

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Official Scoring Change

Posted on 20 August 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Eye chart for official scorer’s eye exam…

That ball that bounced 14 times before being booted by the guy playing 3rd base?  Base knock.  Oh, he booted the ball into the 2nd deck where it caromed off of 2 nuns before dropping on the head of a baby 25 feet below?  Base knock plus 1 base error.  The bunt that the pitcher fielded cleanly off his noggin after 3 hops?  Infield hit.  At this point, a defender must basically kick a ball at rest into the opposing dugout and hit a camera operator to earn an actual error.

Honestly, baseball’s official scorers probably deserve to be classified as “invertebrate” for the lack of backbone shown in the face of overwhelming pressure to improve batting averages while simultaneously inflating fielding percentages.  The double laced down the left field line may show up as a line drive in the box score the next day, but all the credit really goes to the third baseman/matador who practically turned 2-dimensional while watching the ball shoot over/under/through his glove.

The problem with a lax attitude about scoring only covers the distance between “correct” and “no integrity”.  Batting averages (and subsequently OBP, OPS, and OPS+) get inflated artificially by E10′s which represent errors on the official scorer.  Sure, fielding percentage represents an outdated means of gauging defensive performance, but the statistic becomes entirely meaningless when officials err on the side of stupid.  More importantly, any defensive metric that uses an algorithm or formula that includes fielding percentage or errors becomes basically useless as well.  Bring rational thinking and a consistent approach back to official scoring, and watch fielding percentage gain back a modicum of respect.

While MLB considers this recommendation, maybe Emperor Bud and JT (Joe Torre) can rethink the way fielding errors on pitchers get treated as well.  If a pitcher fields a ball and proceeds to launch it into the right field bleachers, he gets charged with a fielding error, but then he basically gets a pass on earned runs for the remainder of the inning.  Why not rule the error an error but leave the “earned run” potential intact?  Who really gets hurt by this?  The pitcher who committed the heinous error, of course.  In that case, maybe he will spend a bit more time focusing on his fielding practice instead of starting on that 3rd bag of sunflower seeds in the shady dugout.

While Bud and Joe do that, maybe they can have a word with the rules committee about assuming the double play.  Maybe some broadcasters can’t make the determination about whether a double play should be assumed, but the thought that a good, impartial official scorer cannot differentiate remains an asinine, arcane approach.  Keep it simple, though.  If the runner at first base tackles the guy who touches 2nd base or violates any treaties with his slide, then all bets are off.  If the runner on first base barely makes it halfway to 2nd and the batter trips over his bat or home plate, the defender who receives the throw and bounces it off the first baseman and into the popcorn vendor deserves an error.

Maybe it is time for an official scoring change, and by that I mean change the official scorer.

Comments (0)

manny machado

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Finders Keepers/Welcome to the Bigs, Kid: Manny Machado (Special Double Edition)

Posted on 10 August 2012 by T.J. McDonald

Welcome to the special double edition of Finders Keepers/Welcome to the Bigs, Kid. Late Wednesday evening, the Baltimore Orioles shocked the baseball world and fantasy community, at large, by announcing the call up of their top position player prospect, 20 year old Manny Machado.  If you are familiar with either of this series of articles you know what will follow. But if not, here is what will. In this piece, I will give a little background on Machado, welcome him to the bigs and go into his long term fantasy value as well as give my overall keeper potential grade.

Manny Machado is a 20 year old shortstop prospect in the Baltimore Orioles organization.  He was drafted 3rd overall in the 2010 Major league draft, was Baseball America’s #11 prospect coming into the season and was ranked #9 in their mid-season rankings. He projects to be a potential All Star with plus grades for both hit tool and power from scouts. He hit .266 with 11Hrs and 59 RBIs in 19 games this year in AA.  While profiled as a shortstop, the Orioles plan to give him time at third upon his promotion as they are in the thick of the playoff race.

The Orioles are in a three way tie atop the wild card standings and only 4 and a half games back of the AL East leading New York Yankees.  It looks as if the Orioles are doing everything they can to make their first playoff appearance since 1997.  While Machado has not been lights out this year in AA, since the AllStar break, he has hit a .275 with four HRs, 11 BBs and 15 Ks in 104 plate appearances and was on a tear his last ten games hitting  .444 with three doubles, two triples, three HRs and seven RBIs.

If he can live up to even half the expectations most have for him it will not be hard to outperform the dismal production of the revolving door of Orioles third basemen this year who’ve hit a combined .245 with 13 HRs and 45 RBIs on the season. The one catch here may be his defense.  He has only played two career games at third with one error, so some could argue the O’s are throwing him into the fire at the hot corner without the proper minor league experience at this position.  However, the Orioles have struggled defensively at third, with Wilson Betemit making a team-high 13 errors at third and Mark Reynolds making six errors at the hot corner in 15 games and also the Orioles do not seem to overly concerned about the tranistion.

As Oriole’s vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette told the team’s official website,”Manny should be a plus defender, wherever we play him. He’s a five-tool player, and he can help our team. I think he improves our team, and it’s important here (for this club) to be strong.” When Manny himself was asked by the media before Thursday’s game about how comfortable he was playing third his response was, “I’m very comfortable out there. Every day I try to be proactive, I try to take a couple ground balls at third base after I catch my grounders at short. I am pretty comfortable out there. So, I’m really looking forward to it.” He started at third base Thursday night going 2-4 with a triple and one run scored.

Now for his fantasy value in yearly leagues. I wouldn’t drop anyone of good to decent value for him. As @FantasyRundown stated yesterday on Twitter, “Human nature to get excited about the latest and greatest, but I would not drop anyone of significance for Manny Machado.”  However, I suggest if you have a bench spot or start the Logan Forsythe and Willie Bloomquists of the world, pick him up.  Just keep in mind, many top prospects struggle when they first get called up.  Case in point, Mike Trout struggled in his first tour in the big leagues prior to this season.

Once Machado gains his dual eligibility (3b/SS), it will be a major asset going forward and since he will be playing third primarily depending on your leagues rules it shouldn’t take long to add 3rd base eligibility to go along with his short stop eligibility. With this dual eligibility he could be a valuable asset onany yearly league owners bench.

Now for keeper leagues. Pick him up as he is a very highly rated prospect and a highly rated prospect can be very valuable keeper and or trade asset. Keep him for the rest of the season and go from there or even flip him immediately to the owner in your league who is enamored with prospects. Either way it is a win/win. At worst, he can be dropped come keeper time and at best, you have either flipped him for valuable pieces and/or have the next big thing on your fantasy roster come keeper time. He may lose shortstop for next year but if he does not, having dual eligibility will make him that much more valuable. When a prospect is called up prior to the expanded rosters in September it gives you a larger sample size than just the normal September callup small sample size. This enables you to have that much more of a look at the player. Allowing you to make an even better asset of him as a player and potential keeper, come keeper time. Percent owned as of Thursday August 9th: 2% ESPN, 8% Yahoo and 35% CBS. He is currently only shortstop eligible. I grade his keeper potential as an A.

Will you be picking up Manny Machado or did you happen to have have him already rostered?  Let me know in the comments and, as always, be sure to follow me on Twitter @FantasyzrTJ for all your fantasy baseball needs.

Comments (0)

Prediction: The Pirates will finish .500 or better in 2012

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Prediction: The Pirates will finish .500 or better in 2012

Posted on 11 April 2012 by Graham Womack

In this space last week, I wrote that I wasn’t buying the steadfast hype this offseason for the Washington Nationals. I wrote that in the densely-packed National League East, the Nationals would be hard-pressed to reign supreme over the Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, and Philadelphia Phillies. I wrote that if the Nationals played in the NL Central, like the Pittsburgh Pirates, I might project them to win 90 games. Accordingly, it’s time for another prediction.

It’s been 20 years since the Pirates last had a winning season. In the two decades since Francisco Cabrera dumped a bloop single in front of Barry Bonds that sent the Braves to the World Series, Pittsburgh fans have gotten to know a special kind of futility. They’ve had at least 90 losses ten times. Not once in 20 years have they scored 800 runs, though they’ve allowed that many eight times. And Pittsburgh has more or less served as an assembly line for sending talented young players to other teams.

Few teams in baseball history have stayed this bad for this long. The Boston Red Sox had a similar run after Babe Ruth left town. The Philadelphia Phillies had one winning season between 1918 and 1948. But eventually, those teams made it out of their ruts, and this year, I see the Pirates doing likewise. In 2012, I predict the Pirates will finish .500 or better.

It has to happen at some point, right? I see a few reasons why this could be the year. First, the Pirates have assembled a solid, young core. Their pitching staff, while nondescript, managed a 4.04 staff ERA last season and will have A.J. Burnett this year. On offense, Pittsburgh has Neil Walker, Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez, and others. Alvarez is a power-hitting third baseman who struggled last year but is still young and comes highly touted. If Tabata can stay healthy, he looks like a potential .300 hitter. And Walker could be among the best second basemen in the National League if he builds on his 2.5 WAR, 12 home runs, and 83 RBI from 2011.

The Pirates also showed they may have learned from their past, giving a six-year, $51 million extension to budding superstar Andrew McCutchen who, after three seasons, looks a lot like a young Barry Bonds. As it was with Bonds, McCutchen’s an All Star outfielder with speed and power, and like Bonds, he posted a 123 OPS+ over his first three seasons. Unlike Bonds, McCutchen may not be going anywhere through his prime years. It’ll be interesting to see if the Pirates continue to build around him.

All of this is moot, though, save for the most important fact here: The Pirates play in the NL Central, baseball’s most dysfunctional division, the Sarajevo of the MLB. It certainly looks to have all the order this year of a post-Soviet kleptocracy. Consider: The Cardinals and Brewers have gone forward without  Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, respectively. The Reds have much of a team in tact that won 91 games in 2010, but never underestimate Dusty Baker’s potential to create chaos. And as for the Cubs and the Astros, they might not even have a winning season in Triple-A.

So mark my words, good things should be happening in Pittsburgh this year, and for what’s it worth, at least one positive already has occurred. The Pirates kicked their season off taking two of three at home against the Phillies.

Comments (1)

The 2012 Spring Training All-Star Team

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The 2012 Spring Training All-Star Team

Posted on 30 March 2012 by Daniel Aubain

There’s nothing more useless than putting too much emphasis on the statistics players are putting up in Spring Training. Just ask Jake Fox. He hit 10 Spring Training home runs in 2011 and accumulated just 15 HITS in the regular season and found his way onto many a fantasy baseball squad for his catcher eligibility. How’d that work out for those managers?

Some Spring Training statistics are worth paying attention to, like a hitters walk rate (positively) or strikeout rate (negatively). Stolen bases are also a nice statistic to keep an eye on, especially for players fighting for a roster spot. A pitcher’s K%, K/9 and K/BB ratios are nice to keep an eye on. They’ll let you know if they are in the zone or struggling with their command. So just keep Spring Training numbers in perspective when scrolling through the box scores or stat web sites.

That all being said, let’s celebrate the 2012 Spring Training All-Star Team, by position:

Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy leads all catchers with 20 hits and sports a gaudy .513 batting average. Of those 20 hits, seven have gone for extra bases (five doubles and two home runs). He’s also only struck out two times in 39 at bats but hasn’t walked. I also like to see that he stole a base in three attempts. He’s virtually gone undrafted in ESPN leagues (ADP 260+) and only owned in 7.4% of their leagues. Now might be a good time to reassess your catching depth chart.

Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer leads the majors with 25 hits and 23 RBI  in just 22 games played this Spring and looks primed for a monster sophomore season. He’s also stolen three bases, so the 11 he swiped in 2011 don’t seem like a fluke.

Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler has 20 hits, a .408 batting average and has scored 14 runs in 15 Spring Training games. His four doubles and four home runs prove he’s ready for the season to get underway.

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie is proving to be the real deal. He’s gone 17-for-30 (.567 BA) in just 12 games this Spring with seven doubles and two triples. Oh, and he’s stolen five bases, too. If you own him in your fantasy baseball league, the season can’t start soon enough.

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon is showing us all his speed is the real deal. He’s stolen 10 bases in 12 attempts in 17 games to go along with 20 hits for a .417 batting average. His two triples and six walks are also great signs of things to come.

Detroit Tigers left fielder Delmon Young has 10 extra base hits (five doubles and five home runs) and 19 RBI in 18 games this Spring and will be a steady fixture in the middle of the Tigers lineup for 2012. Somehow he’s only owned in 91.4% of ESPN leagues. Check your waivers.

Kansas City Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain has 14 extra base hits and a 1.345 OPS in 54 Spring at bats. He’ll be a fixture at the top of what seems to be an explosive offense for 2012, so pay attention. With an ADP of 224.7 in ESPN leagues and a mind-numbingly low ownership percentage of 28.7%, now is the time to check to see if he’s sitting out there on your league’s waiver wire and POUNCE!

Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier is showing he’s healthy by clubbing 13 extra base hits (eight doubles, three triples, two home runs) in 15 games for a 1.412 OPS. He’s also scored 11 runs while driving in 12. It will be interesting to see where contract extension talks go if he gets off to a hot start now that the Dodgers’ ownership situation is heading towards a resolution.

Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Kendrys Morales seems to be back in form his 22-month layoff from injury. As of today (Thursday, March 29th, 2012), he’s gone 10-for-16 (.625 BA) with two home runs with 16 total bases. He’s up to 87.7% owned in ESPN leagues, so your window of opportunity to grab him off waivers has probably closed. Those owners who drafted him with an ADP of 201.1 should see an extremely high return on investment.

Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Zack Greinke has pitched 19.1 innings this Spring and struck out 28 batters while walking only two. That’s right, TWO. That’s a 14:1 K:BB ratio with a 13.03 K/9. He had a 0.93ERA with a 0.83 WHIP and batters hit just .197 against him. These are the kinds of statistics that matter in Spring Training and should translate into a very dominant season for Greinke in 2012.

This team doesn’t have a closer because no one is truly closing out games yet as relievers are simply trying to get their work in to be prepared to go once the games start to count on April 4th.

Which players would you like nominate to this year’s Spring Training All-Star Team and why? Are you basing your decisions in support of your favorite team and players or from a fantasy baseball perspective (or both)? Use the comments section below to nominate your players and be sure to engage me in a conversation on Twitter @DJAubain.

NOTE: All Spring Training statistics quoted are from MLB.com and are through games played as of March 28, 2012, unless otherwise noted.

Comments (0)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here
BBA