Tag Archive | "Yadier Molina"

Salvador Perez-Molina

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Salvador Perez-Molina

Posted on 18 September 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Molina and….Molina?

Go ahead and call me a “birther” if you will, but I demand to see Salvador Perez‘s birth certificate.  Just pull back the facade of falsified documentation, and give it to me straight.  He’s a Molina.  I’m certain of this.  Allegedly, Perez was born in Venezuela, but Venezuela sits just a short popfly away from Puerto Rico on the global scale of things.  There must be someone out there who can help me prove that the Royals somehow found the “lost” Molina brother.  Granted, the family resemblance may not be striking, but half-brother would not be far-fetched.

How else can you explain the way Perez plays the game?

He has exactly 100 games of Major League Baseball experience under his belt, yet he shows many signs of baseball maturity befitting a man 10 years his elder.  For the love of all things Molina, the man just turned 22 at the beginning of this season.  In 2012 alone, Perez-Molina has accounted for 2.4 WAR which basically guarantees a solid return on the 5 yr / $7M investment the Royals made in him.  That’s the baseball equivalent of buying Apple at a discount to original opening price and selling right after an iPhone/iPad announcement.  Once you recoup that initial outlay, everything else basically represents pure gravy (minus capital gains taxes in the event you sell early).  Perez-Molina is Google, Microsoft, and Amazon all in one.

About that 2.4 WAR – it does not just come from competent work at the plate.  Given just 64 games (259 PAs), Perez-Molina boasts a line of .310/.336/.510/.846 with 11 HR and 36 RBI.  That helps explain the 2.0 oWAR.  His total DRS (defensive runs saved) stands at 7 which ties him for 2nd among all MLB catchers with Ryan Hanigan.  The difference between the 2 of them is that Hanigan has played 787.0 innings at catcher.  PM just reached 553.0 innings played.  The guy leading both of them?  Yadier Molina, of course.  Molina has a DRS total of 17.  Of course, Molina has built that number over the course of 1045.2 innings played.

PM does not simply save runs by blocking the plate or throwing out his share of would-be base stealers.  Nope.  He guns down would-be thieves at a rate of 44% against a league average of just 25%.  Not to be outdone, his older brother (or half-brother) throws out 46% of all potential base stealers (league avg of 27%).  So, if you happen to be keeping score at home, the summary goes….

  • Yadier Molina.320/.376/.502/.878, 139 OPS+, 27 doubles, 19 HR, 67 RBI in 125 games
  • Sal Perez-Molina – .310/.336/.510/.846, 128 OPS+, 16 doubles, 11 HR, 36 RBI in 64 games

Now, it might be a logical stretch to simply extrapolate Perez’s numbers to compare apples to apples, but that Perez-Molina guy still has a long way to go.  Molina’s 6.3 WAR (4.5 oWAR and 2.5 dWAR) places him among the top 5 most productive players in the NL (based on WAR).  He did not get to that point overnight, and he certainly was not a .300 hitter at age 22.

The more Perez produces over the next year or so, the more the long term signing appears to be a bargain for the Royals.  After all, Molina made $3.3M in his 5th year.  Perez is signed for $2.0M for his 5th year, and those numbers are not inflation adjusted.  However, the real kicker for the Perez deal gives the Royals team options that total $14.75M for Perez’s age 27-29 season.  Compare that to the $26.3M the Cardinals pay Molina for his 7th, 8th, and 9th seasons.

None of this gives me the confidence to project Sal Perez as the next Yadier Molina or Ivan Rodriguez, but he has gotten off to a great start.  Better yet, his work this year has already provided some justification for the move the Royals made to lock him down long term.  For a team that operates on a relatively small budget, the possibility of having an elite catcher for a relatively low price means an awful lot.  Maybe others will recognize Sal Perez-Molina for what he has already accomplished at the most demanding position in baseball.

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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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moyer-papyrus copy

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Jamie Moyer is Old

Posted on 21 May 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Jamie Moyer - Pitcher, Hunter, and Gatherer

Quite frankly, the “Jamie Moyer is old” meme has replaced the “Yadier Molina is slow” meme which was preceded by the “Adam Dunn whiffs a lot” meme.  At age 49, Moyer seems relatively old by Major League Baseball standards.  As such, the jokes and one-liners aimed at Moyer have practically gone viral at this point.  Examples:

  • I am not saying that Jamie Moyer is old, but he started his career against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
  • Moyer actually began his career with a shutout against a lineup that included, Tinkers, Evers, and Chance.
  • Moyer has built a solid reputation despite the fact that his first career suspension was handed down by Kennesaw Mountain Landis.
  • The last time Moyer could throw 92 mph, the Cubs were just a few decades removed from a World Series victory.
  • In order to make Moyer more comfortable, the Rockies’ catchers simply yell out the pitch selection in the direction of his good ear.
  • In early 1998, Moyer became the first MLB pitcher to ever stumble out of the bullpen over his own walker sans tennis balls on the bottom.

In truth, the attitude that age is just a number merits some consideration.  One might even consider Moyer’s longevity a minor miracle that defies the norm.  In what so many people consider a young man’s game, Moyer represents the exception.  When you consider that many players received the “washed up” label prior to even turning 35, the presence of a pitcher almost 15 years older than that both bemuses and baffles onlookers.

The most amazing thing about the Moyer story may just be the fact that he has yet to become a 1-inning bullpen guy.  In fact, Moyer has managed to toss at least 5 innings in every start this season.  On 2 separate occasions, his pitch count reached 100 pitches or more with a season high of 112.  Despite pitching home games in Colorado, Moyer has a respectable 4.20 ERA which translates to an ERA+ of 107.  He certainly will not place himself in the running for the Cy Young Award, but he hasn’t embarrassed himself by any means, either.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Moyer remains hidden behind all the lame jokes and 140 character comedic jabs.  Consider just some of what the comedians leave out.

  • Moyer started his career with the Cubs and has pitched for the Rangers, Cardinals, Orioles, Red Sox, Mariners, Phillies, and the Rockies
  • Moyer made his major league debut 7 years before his current employer was even a franchise.
  • Despite missing all of 1992 and 2011 due to injury, Moyer has amassed a total of 268 wins in 25 seasons.  He has averaged double digit wins per season for his entire 2 1/2 decade career.
  • Among active pitchers, his 4.24 ERA ranks 40th.
  • His 4059 innings pitched puts him 40th all-time and 1st among active players.
  • Moyer ranks 36th in career strikeouts with 2,434.
  • Barring injury, Moyer could go another year or more.

Go ahead and poke fun all you like, but the joke is not on Moyer.  He continues to set down lineups filled with guys half his age, and he does it by pitching and not relying on a 98 mph fastball to blow people away.

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nolan-reimold

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The Waiver Wire: Nolan Reimold

Posted on 23 April 2012 by Daniel Aubain

Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold may be one of those early-season waiver finds savvy fantasy baseball owners salivate over grabbing in deeper mixed league formats. Virtually undrafted in most standard formats in ESPN, Yahoo! and CBS leagues, the window of opportunity to grab him off waivers is closing quickly.

Reimold has put up a robust standard 5×5 line of .370/9/5/10/1 in 11 games and is currently riding a 10-game hitting streak since opening the season 0-for-4. He’s missed the last two games with a neck injury but is still worth picking up off waivers if your outfield is in need of a spark. Just be sure not to overreact on which player to drop when deciding whether to pick him up or not. You surely don’t want to bail this early on a highly-ranked player simply off to a slow start.

ESPN’s Player Rater tool currently ranks him 18th overall while Yahoo! ranks him 22nd. His ownership numbers are rising to the tune of 69.7% in ESPN league, 69% in Yahoo! leagues and 80% in CBS leagues. Again, you may have missed your opportunity to pick him up in any quality fantasy baseball league worth participating in but double-check for sure.

Here are some other fantasy baseball players worth a look who may still be available on your league’s waiver wire:

OF Jordan Schafer, Houston Astros: Schafer has produced a .263/13/2/7/6 5×5 line and is worth owning for the stolen base potential alone if your team is lacking in this category already. As long as he stay healthy (big IF), there’s no reason to believe he won’t continue to be the Astros starting center fielder in 2012. His ownership numbers are on the rise to the tune of 54.5% in ESPN leagues, 51% in Yahoo! leagues and 59% in CBS leagues.

C A.J. Pierzynski, Chicago White Sox: Pierzynski has a history of being a decent enough offensive catcher to be owned in most fantasy baseball leagues (career .285 BA with 14 HR per 162 games played), so I was surprised to see how widely available he is this season especially since he’s off to a hot .348/6/4/14/0 start. With all the talk about Yadier Molina and Matt Wieters hot starts, A.J. is actually the 2nd-ranked catcher behind Mike Napoli on ESPN’s Player Rater tool.

SP Bartolo Colon, Oakland Athletics: Colon is off to a hot start with a 3-1 record, 2.63 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and three quality starts. His 6.26 K/9 ratio isn’t much to get excited about unless you look at his 19/2 K/BB ratio. At one point in his last start against the Los Angeles Angels, he threw 38 consecutive strikes. If you’re looking for a pitcher to fill an early-season void on your staff, give Colon a serious look. He’s only owned in 38.8% of ESPN leagues, 55% of Yahoo! leagues and surprisingly, 85% of CBS leagues. Oh, and be ready to bail if things go south quickly.

RP Henry Rodriguez, Washington Nationals: Rodriguez is currently sharing save opportunities with Brad Lidge (yes, THAT Lidge) but it’s hard to imagine that last much longer if Lidge continues to have shaky outings. HROD is now 4-for-4 is save opportunities and hasn’t allowed an earned run in 7.1 innings. Oh, by the way, he’s only allowed one hit and batters are hitting just .o43 against him with 9 strikeouts for a 11.05 K/9 ratio. Negatively, he’s issued six walks in just those 7.1 innings but the overall results are hard to ignore. Grab him now if you are in need of saves and maybe even holds, if your league uses this stat as a scoring category. He’s only owned in 32.7% of ESPN leagues, 55% of Yahoo! leagues and 51% of CBS leagues.

That’s all I have for you now. Be sure to stay aware and active on your leagues waiver wire as this is the time of year owners make foolish decisions on which players to drop when making a move. I was able to grab B.J. Upton in one league just days before he was to be activated from the DL and promptly scooped him up and clipped him in a trade.

Be sure to leave a comment below and follow me on Twitter @DJAubain to continue the conversation.

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Buy and Sell: Contract Year Players

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Buy and Sell: Contract Year Players

Posted on 27 February 2012 by Dennis Lawson

(image courtesy of Topps)

Contract year.  Walk year.  Opt-out year.  Whatever the year, we have it covered for anybody having trouble keeping score at home.  Some really big name players may very well be playing their final seasons with their respective teams, and you just might find that information useful.  If you happen to play in a keeper league (or 6), then you may find that information especially useful when thinking long term.  Here is a list of 10 players who are potentially just months away from free agency.

  1. Cole Hamels – Hamels just turned 28, and he is coming off of arguably his best season ever (2.79 ERA and 0.986 WHIP).  While most sources in the rumor mill have Hamels staying put in Philadelphia, just the thought of him moving to a team that does not win 90+ games every season may be a concern for some fantasy players.  Then again, there are some who are already penalizing Hamels for the loss of Ryan Howard at 1B.  Seems like a terrible way to run a railroad, but it is not my railroad.
  2. Daisuke Matsuzaka – If Dice is completely healthy and has all of his pitches, then he could be both a comeback story and a late round pickup with a lot of upside.  The problem with this scenario could be that Dice has not a top shelf guy since 2008.  Maybe a contract year will motivate him enough to do all the little things that some people previously stated that he was disinterested in doing.  At 31, he could certainly have a few good years left.
  3. Jose Valverde – Imagine having a top 10 closer in the final year of a 3 year deal that pays him $9M for 2012.  Then imagine that your closer will turn 34 shortly before the season starts, and he could reasonable ask for a $10M/season deal after 2012.  If the Tigers fail to sign him, then you can bet that someone will.  Then again, Valverde seems like pretty much the same guy whether he cashes huge paychecks or relatively small ones.
  4. Yadier Molina – Molina has reportedly set the asking price at 5 years / $50M which seems expensive, unless he and one of his brothers are offering some 2-for-1 special on Molinas.  On the other hand, Molina did explode offensively last year (by Molina standards) for a 3.9 WAR year.  A couple more years like 2011 would certainly make him worth the asking price.  What are the odds that he has another 3.0+ WAR season?  Hard to say, but he has shown up at spring training dropping the “BSOML” line on everybody within shouting distance.  That “BSOML” stands for “best shape of my life”.
  5. Brandon Phillips – Phillips is just about to start the final year of a contract that pays him $38M over 5 years, and this final year is worth $12M.  Consider the extension that Rickie Weeks signed with the Brewers as a starting point for Phillips.  To earn that kind of deal, he may have to duplicate his 2011 numbers at the plate.  With something like $10M+ per season as potential motivation, I cannot imagine that Tony Plush won’t at least try to deliver an encore performance in 2012.
  6. Matt Cain – The Giants are built around great pitching and the hope that Barry Zito‘s contract expires eventually.  Cain is an integral part of that plan, but imagine his open market value in free agency.  At age 27, Cain has compiled a career ERA of 3.35 and a 1.196 WHIP while pitching 200 or more innings every season for the last 5 years.  For 2012, Cain is playing out the back end of a 3 yr / $27.25M contract that was back loaded with a $15M salary for 2012.  Unless Cain falters, that might be the starting point in discussions for a guy who may command a 6-7 year deal.
  7. Ubaldo Jimenez – Tricky situation.  If Ubaldo returns to his old form, his $5.275M option for 2013 is a no brainer.  If he doesn’t look good, then the $1M buyout would be money well spent.  Here is the catch, though.  Jimenez should be motivated both in 2012 and 2013 to see that option exercised and to possibly see his $8M option for 2014 picked up as well.  Will the additional motivation of job and contract security be enough to get him back to the dominant force he once was.  Maybe.  Keep in mind that he’s only a few years removed from being a  top 3 Cy Young candidate.
  8. Zach Greinke – Greinke posted a ridiculous 10.5 strikeouts per 9 innings rate in 2011.  If any of his other numbers improve to that level, he will be able to basically hold a press conference, show his stat line, and drop the mic as he walks off the stage.  The problem is that his ERA+ for the past 2 years is 102 and 100 respectively.  Greinke held his WHIP to 1.200 in 2011, but that is actually lower than his career WHIP.  The issue is not about how good Greinke can be.  The issue is whether or not he can catch lightning in a bottle again.
  9. Shaun Marcum – If somebody told you that Shaun Marcum had outpitched Greinke for the past 2 years, would you believe them.  Well, you are being told right now.  Marcum 2010 numbers (115 ERA+, 1.147 WHIP, 3.84 SO/BB) and 2011 numbers (110 ERA+, 1.156 WHIP, 2.77 SO/BB) compare favorably to Greinke’s numbers over the same time period.  Greinke’s 2010 numbers (100 ERA+, 1.245 WHIP, 3.29 SO/BB) and 2011 numbers (102 ERA+, 1.200 WHIP, 4.47 SO/BB) are obviously not quite as good.  While I may be guilt of cherry picking the stats here a bit, I am fairly confident that you will not find too many counting stats that make Greinke look like the winner of this match race.  If you are not convinced, then maybe the 6.9 WAR to 4.0 WAR advantage for 2010-11 held by Marcum will convince you.  Marcum really is good, and he deserves to be paid like the solid front line starter that he is.
  10. Josh Hamilton – Hamilton may not break the bank with his next deal due to concerns about his age and ability to stay on the field, but he is not likely to be an afterthought, either.  Hamilton once posted a 1.536 OPS against the Yankees (2010 ALCS).  That alone might be enough reason to keep him in Texas, although the 20.2 WAR in 5 seasons does not hurt, either.

Obviously, not every player on this list will have a “career year”, but at least most will be motivated to have a great season right out of the gate.  You could say that is the case for all players, but we already know that is not exactly true.

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