Tag: albert pujols

2009 Fantasy Projections – First Base

Kingman was doing dual position eligibility before it was fashionable

Kingman was doing dual position eligibility before it was fashionable

My name is John and I regret nothing… Except for that last burrito.

When last we met, I was telling you that Ramon Castro was worth a buck and Ronny Paulino might be working in a car wash by mid-August. Only time will tell…

First Base Rankings

If you’re not getting Pujols, try to grab Gonzalez on the cheap. I think you’ll be overpaying for Howard, Berkman and Fielder, in most cases. Let me explain…

Albert Pujols (.320-35-120) – One of the few positions where there is no doubt about who is the best offensive player.

Ryan Howard (.250-40-120) – His BA leaves alot to be desired, but I think it may be higher. You can’t argue with his HR/RBI totals.

Adrian Gonzalez (.300-30-100) – The most underrated of this bunch. His HR/RBI totals have increased each of the past 3 seasons and he has hit around .279 or above in each of those years. If he brings his Petco numbers up (only .269 last season), he could challenge Howard for the #2 spot.

Lance Berkman (.310-25-95) – I’ve been waiting for Berkman to fall off for a couple of years – his HR totals have fallen three consecutive years but he’s still a solid pick. Houston’s lineup could hold down his RBI totals

Prince Fielder (.275-28-100) – People are still drafting Fielder with hopes that he will return to the 50 HR slugger he was in 2007. I think those numbers will prove to be a statistical outlier. You can count on Fielder for something in the .280-30-100 ballpark for years to come. In future drafts, he may be a steal at those numbers, but not this season.

Sleeper – James Loney (.310-18-100) – I absolutely love watching Loney hit. I’m not sure if he’ll ever be more than a 20HR guy, but he drives the ball well into the gaps and he is only 24. The Dodgers lineup could provide plenty of RBI opportunities, depending on Manny’s willingness to play and Torre’s willingness to put Loney into the #5 hole. If it all comes together for him, this could be his breakout season.

NL East

A much better crop of players than we saw in the NL East catcher rankings… However, two of my top five guys will start the season at different positions.

Ryan Howard (.250-40-120) – See above

Adam Dunn (.240-40-100) – I expect him to gain 1B eligibility in most leagues at some point. If you need another 1B to cover for him, take a shot on a guy like James Loney or even Nick Johnson.

Carlos Delgado (.260-30-100) – People were calling for Delgado to be cut in May 2008. By the end of the year, he was on fire. He’s still got some pop, but he’s old and he has lost batspeed. He could end up outperforming Ryan Howard or falling out of the top 5 in the NL East… I think his HR/RBI numbers will be fine, somewhere between ’07 and ’08. Get him if he falls on draft day.

Jorge Cantu (.275-25-90) – Another guy who should wind up playing 1B before too long. I’m not sold on him repeating last season’s numbers – and those numbers don’t make him a good choice at 1B, but if you get him late he could end up being a nice reserve player with dual position eligibility.

Sleeper: Nick Johnson (.280-10-65) – If Johnson stays healthy (unlikely), he could have a nice season, but he’s hardly worth considering in anything other than a deep NL-only league. He plays the game the right way and that should count for something, but it doesn’t. Oh well.


Mets Spring Training Game 3

I’m not counting the game against the Italians, so game three is the one the Mets played against the Cardinals.

The final score was Cardinals 9, Mets 8, but we’re not concerned with the score prior to April. Once again, we’ll focus on specific players and other errata.

Livan Hernandez

I must admit I’m personally pulling hard for “Not-Duque” to make this club, so my analysis may be rose-colored. I liked the way his fastball was sinking and was inducing ground balls. His slow curve was a little scary, though, hanging up there like a balloon. Can he get a way with it? We’ll see. He had some command issues when he got lazy with his follow-through, but otherwise was hitting his spots — something he must do to be successful.

Freddy Garcia

Can I pull for two starters to take one rotation spot? Unfortunately for Freddy, he didn’t look so hot. His fastball was flat, at a very hittable velocity, and was all over the place. His curve — important to his success — had little bite and also was hard for him to spot. To me he looks like he’s not yet as strong as he needs to be — and a 100% healthy and strong shoulder is vitally important since he doesn’t use his legs or momentum at all to power the ball. Still, I like the Mets rolling the dice on him, provided he will accept a AAA demotion to build himself back up.

Carlos Delgado

Carlos is looking great at the plate, waiting long on pitches, and keeping the hands back the way he did when he was in Toronto. He does this nearly every spring, though … will he keep this approach once April arrives? I said it last year, and I’ll say it again: Delgado is key to the Mets’ success.

David Wright

The only reason David made an error was because Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez made a point to talk about his defense and Gold Gloves. Jinxed!

Reese Havens

He didn’t play, but we were able to see him do an interview with Kevin Burkhardt. I’m very high on this kid, and think he can climb the ladder quickly if he can stay healthy. He’s an all-around ballplayer, and appears as though he’s already comfortable in front of the camera — a key to succeeding in NYC. The “step program”, though, didn’t sound particularly intriguing. Not that it needs to be.

Casey Fossum

The little lefty was effective, pitching a 1-2-3 inning in his first frame and allowing no runs and one hit over two innings. However his stuff looked ordinary and his fastball didn’t have much movement. His curveballs — he throws them at several speeds and angles — were always his forte, and I only saw him throw a handful, which were mostly the flat, low-80s, sideways, sweeping breaker (though, he did mix in one super-slow roundhouse that conjured memories of Ross Baumgartner). Hard to make an analysis on him just yet. I do like the way he uses momentum to power the baseball — very old school.

Connor Robertson

Robertson, like Fossum, was effective in the boxscore but didn’t throw enough to help make much of an evaluation. He reminded me of Jon Adkins — a below-average, straight fastball, average breaking ball. But his 1-2-3 inning consisted of about five pitches, so it’s impossible to make a judgment.

Adam Bostick

You can see why scouts have salivated over Bostick for years despite his persistently underwhelming performances. He’s big, tall, lefty, and comes from a low 3/4 angle with decent velocity, reminiscent of John Candelaria or even Ollie Perez. But his command is below average and his fastball looks like it stays on one plane (no downward movement). He’ll need to do two things to make the big leagues: concentrate on placing the fastball in one specific spot consistently and mixing it up with an average slider. Even then, his ceiling is as a LOOGY.

Albert Pujols

Keith Hernandez mentioned that “El Hombre” looked like he might have dropped a few pounds, and looked a little thinner in the face. I thought the same thing. Maybe he’s no longer taking those “B12” shots. Hmm.

Jason Motte

The Cardinals righty reminds me of a combination of Eric Gagne, Derrick Turnbow, and Keith Foulke. He throws pretty hard, and looks scary. But he only throws one pitch, so nothing to be concerned about. If he ever develops a split-fingered fastball, the Cards may have something.

Mike Shannon

Nice to hear that the Cardinals broadcaster has a fine restaurant with a great wine list. He certainly is among the worst baseball broadcasters in history — Tim McCarver and Joe Buck included (funny, all the awful announcers come from St. Louis).

Royce Ring’s Beard

Hmm … hard to figure how much his beard truly affects his performance. He’s had it now for at least two years, and he’s still not come close to the early comparisons to Randy Myers.

The Mets travel to Lakeland, Florida, to play the Tigers on Saturday at 1:10 pm. However it does not appear that the game will be televised, so instead, get your fill by posting your comments below.


Most Valuable What?

One of the latest headlines was the news that St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols was the recipient of the National League Most Valuable Player Award, as voted by the Baseball Writers Association. Was Pujols really the “most valuable”, however? Is it even arguable that he was the “best player” in the NL during the 2008 season?

From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

circa 1576

1 a: having monetary value b: worth a good price2 a: having desirable or esteemed characteristics or qualities b: of great use or service

Based on the above, it can absolutely be argued that Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols is valuable. He does have monetary value, after all, and is worth a good price. He definitely has desirable AND esteemed characteristics and qualities. And, yes, he is of great use or service. But is he MOST valuable?

It has always been my belief that a baseball MVP should be the player who is “most valuable” to their particular team. Further, that he should be as close to indispensable as possible. In other words, it should be assumed that his team would not have been able to manage its success without him. Lastly, it is my opinion that an MVP should almost always come from a team that participates in the postseason, or at the very least a team that surprisingly finished in second. And that player should be so valuable, that had he been removed from his team, his team probably would not have been able to finish as successfully as they did.

Again, this is my hard-boiled opinion on what the MVP should be. Many argue that it simply should be the player who had “the best year”, regardless of where his team finishes.

In either case, it’s hard to understand the choice of Albert Pujols as the NL 2008 MVP.

Let’s get this out of the way: I hate Albert Pujols, while simultaneously respecting the fact that he is the second-most talented all-around ballplayer on the planet, next to A-Rod. He may even transcend A-Rod at this point in each player’s career. But, talent alone does not make him “most valuable”, and doesn’t make him “best” in a particular year. His performance in 2008 was very good — it was borderline outstanding. But it wasn’t the “best” of 2008, and it certainly wasn’t “most valuable”.

First of all, his basic, non-SABR numbers: .357 AVG., 37 HRs, 116 RBI, 100 Runs. I focus on the non-SABR numbers because these have been the ultimate, final distillation of the value of a player, in every era going back a hundred years. You want to know who is most valuable based on VORP, Runs Created, etc., go to Hardball Times or Baseball Prospectus (both fine resources) — we don’t do that here, and I’m openly willing to admit the atrocity of my old-school, hard-headed ignorance.

But I digress … back to the Pujols story.

Pujols’ .357 batting average is indeed outstanding. But it wasn’t the best. His 37 homers were also a strong output, but it was far from the best. The 116 RBI are good, but again, not the best. To score 100 runs is a great and unusual feat, but, not the best. What Pujols did better than anyone else in the NL was collect total bases, which led to his leading the league in slugging, and when combined with his high walk rate allowed him to lead the NL in OPS. So from the single-minded perspective of the Billy Beane worshipping sabermetrician, Pujols’ NL-leading 1.114 On-Base-Plus-Slugging percentage was enough to deem him the “best” player, or perhaps “player of the year”. But if that OPS is also evidence that he is the “most valuable”, I have a bone to pick.

The main reason for my argument is this: in spite of this monstrous OPS, the St. Louis Cardinals finished in fourth place. FOURTH PLACE. Say all you want about the value of getting on base — bottom line is, Pujols’ individual performance meant zilch to the Cardinals’ final win total. I don’t care that he also led the league in “batting wins” — those didn’t help the Cardinals smell the wild card. I may be going out on a limb here, but I believe sincerely that St. Louis would have finished in fourth place even if they didn’t have Albert Pujols. Crazy, I know, but I just don’t see either the Pirates or the Reds being much of a threat last year.

On the other hand, there is Ryan Howard, who led the NL in homeruns and in RBI. For those unaware, RBI stands for “runs batted in”. When a player bats in a run, that means his team scores. When his team scores more than the other team, it results in a “win”. The more “wins” a team has, the closer it gets to being the “world champion”.

In addition to batting in 146 runs (30 more than Pujols), Howard also scored 105 (5 more than Pujols). So it can be argued that Howard was 35 runs better than Pujols.

The knock against Howard was his low batting average — only .251. Well, nobody’s perfect. The point is, when Howard DID hit safely, he usually either drove in a run, or eventually scored one.

Those 146 RBI and 105 runs scored helped his team finish in first place, and win the World Series. Anyone who witnessed Howard’s barrage on NL pitching in September, when he mashed at .352 clip and drove in 32 runs in 25 games, can account for his “value” in propelling the Phillies over the Mets in the final weeks of the season. Yes, Pujols also had an outstanding finish, but all he did was help his team get a little closer to third place. I’m sorry but the drama leaves something to be desired.

And when it comes right down to it, Pujols wasn’t even the second-most valuable player in the NL. I’d give that to Manny Ramirez, hands-down. Anyone who thinks the Dodgers would have made their way to the postseason without Manny, either wasn’t paying attention or doesn’t understand baseball. No Manny = no playoffs for the Dodgers. That in itself makes Ramirez more valuable than Pujols — he singlehandedly carried a .500 team to the NLCS.

Finally, there’s enough argument to suggest that Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, David Wright, Carlos Delgado, and C.C. Sabathia were more valuable to their teams than Albert Pujols.

But in the end, it appears that this year’s vote had very little to do with a player’s value to his team, and more about the player with the most INDIVIDUAL value. Hooray to the number-crunching SABR crowd — you’ve won this round. Maybe that’s why I’m getting more and more disgusted with MLB with each passing year. At every turn, it’s trying to be the NBA, focused on promoting individual players and the stats and awards they can accumulate, rather than the concept of team. Which is too bad, because it’s with a cohesive team that the best things get done in both sport and society.