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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 678

post #20311 of 73446

Mind blown.
post #20312 of 73446

chapman struck in the face and they stopped the game...

post #20313 of 73446
Originally Posted by JumpmanFromDaBay View Post

26$ for a F-ing Stuffed Corn Dog laugh.gifsick.gif

Paid $14.50 for a water and a sandwich at Citi Field.

post #20314 of 73446
@MLBONFOX: Good news. RT@m_sheldon: Chapman suffered laceration above left eye, Price said. Never lost consciousness and was talking, moving #reds

Scary ****.
post #20315 of 73446
Originally Posted by Franco23x View Post

Originally Posted by JumpmanFromDaBay View Post

26$ for a F-ing Stuffed Corn Dog laugh.gifsick.gif

Paid $14.50 for a water and a sandwich at Citi Field.


I know how that feels sick.gif I'm glad ATT Park has great places to eat around the ballpark
post #20316 of 73446
Scariest thing I have ever seen. Was sitting two rows from the field. That ball got on Chapman in a blink of the eye. Hope he is ok. Never heard a stadium so silent. Prayers are with Aroldis.

And poor Sal Perez. Was kneeling on the field the entire time medics were attending to Chapman. When the game was called and everyone walked off the field, Sal was walking slower than a 90 year old, crying his eyes out. Feel so bad for him.
post #20317 of 73446
Originally Posted by dland24 View Post

Scariest thing I have ever seen. Was sitting two rows from the field. That ball got on Chapman in a blink of the eye. Hope he is ok. Never heard a stadium so silent. Prayers are with Aroldis.

And poor Sal Perez. Was kneeling on the field the entire time medics were attending to Chapman. When the game was called and everyone walked off the field, Sal was walking slower than a 90 year old, crying his eyes out. Feel so bad for him.

Chapman suffered laceration above left eye, Price said. Never lost consciousness and was talking, moving #reds
post #20318 of 73446

Yeah, been reading all the tweets on my ride home from the stadium.  Although tthats good to hear, unfortunately that doesnt mean he is in the clear yet. 

post #20319 of 73446
post #20320 of 73446

That sound.  :x

Was even more loud/sickening in person.

post #20321 of 73446
That sound sick.gif

My prayers are with Chapman.
post #20322 of 73446
Thread Starter 
Ugh sick.gif hopefully he fully recovers from this, you hate to see it happen to anyone.
post #20323 of 73446
Thread Starter 
Yordano Ventura Profiles as a Reliever, Will Be a Starter.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is the old adage — things that appear one way may, in fact, be another way. We are taught this as children in an effort to curb prejudice and stereotypes. We should get to know people before creating an opinion of them. But, in reality, we pre-judge all the time. We make hasty decisions using a less-than-optimal set of data dozens of times a day. If we didn’t nothing would get done.

I hate grocery shopping. This strikes me as odd since I love food so much, but buying it is something I loathe. The crowds, the lists, the doubling back to grab something you passed — it’s all terrible. So when I’m done shopping, I want to get out of there as soon as I can. And when I make my way to the checkout, I’m scanning to find the line that will get me out of the store the fastest. The length of the line has something to do with it, but there are other factors I’ve come to discover. If I line has an elderly woman in it, I try to avoid it since they are most likely to search for coupons and write a check. Solo parents attempting to herd multiple children while checking out tend to take some time. I look at the baggers — do they seem to be working at a normal pace, or are they lagging? Would it be quicker to do self-checkout and bag everything myself? All these thoughts and more flood my brain when I make it to the front of the store.

This is just one example of my weird neurosis, but everyone does some version of this every day in order to decrease time spent, increase enjoyment, or save money in some sort of task. It’s how we’re wired. It’s how we decide whether to take the highway or surface streets, what toothpaste to buy, and what movie to watch when perusing Netflix. We make assumptions based on appearances — plain and simple.

Yodrano Ventura has been making his way around the news cycle as of late. He’s just been named as a member of the Royals rotation to start the season. He’s 22 years old, has been considered one the Kansas City’s more promising prospects, and the dude throws gas. In fact, he threw the hardest pitch by a starter in 2013. As Sullivan points out in that piece, other pitchers can throw that hard, but none of them had done it as a starter. And this is where Ventura becomes a little bit of an enigma. He may be a starter, but he sure looks like a reliever.

The top three starters, as far as fastball velocity is concerned, in 2013 were Matt Harvey, Stephen Strasburg, and Jose Fernandez. They are listed at 6’4”, 6’4”, and 6’2”, respectively. Yordano Ventura comes in at 5’11”. In a random crowd of men, he’d be tall. On a pitchers mound, perhaps not as much. Teams like tall starting pitchers due to the downward angle they can create on pitches, and the extra distance to the plate their long arms and torsos provide. In 2013, the average height of any starting pitcher who started five games or more was 6’2.5”. That’s 3.5” taller than Ventura.

Yet Ventura can throw with gas like the big boys. He averages 97 and has reached 101 last season. The thing of it is, even though he’s small and throws fast pitches, it doesn’t look like he’s trying all that hard — he has “easy” velocity, like you’d expect from a taller pitcher.

The median height for any pitcher that averaged 97 MPH or more on his fastball was also 6’2.5”. Kelvin Herrera, Ventura’s teammate, was the only one in 2013 who was 5’11” or shorter and had the same fastball velocity. If you broaden the scope just 1 MPH to a 96 MPH range, Fernando Rodney, Craig Kimbrel, and Greg Holland get added to the mix. And that’s it. Short dudes who throw that kind of heat are in small supply. Short starters who throw that hard are even rarer, in that Ventura is the only one.

The reliever profile also extends to the fact that Ventura really only throws three pitches, and barely that. He relies heavily on the fastball – using it 75% of the time. He’ll mix in a curve here and there, but used his changeup very sparingly in 2013 — only 6.6% of the time. Certainly three starts is not a great sample size from which to profile pitch usage, but Marc Hulet has mentioned a below-average changeup in regards to Ventura, which would explain a lack of usage this past season. Here’s the heatmap of Ventura’s changeups to right-handers in 2013.

This is to say, he didn’t throw one. His change has a bit of a tail to it, as does his fastball, and it seems as if he prefered testing his changeup as an away pitch to lefties rather than an in pitch to righties. Over the course of 2014, as the book on Ventura grows, it seems fairly obvious that this will change.

Yordano Ventura is a starter. He has been for almost his entire pro career, and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. While tall and lean are the trends for starters, there have certainly been some short ones. Pedro Martinez was short (by baseball standards), so was Greg Maddux, and I’m sure there have been non-Hall-of-Famers in that mix, too. But he’s still bucking the trend, at least by a handful of inches. He may look like a reliever, he may have the repertoire of a reliever, and the Royals are hoping his electric fastball can carry him as a starter, height be damned.

Q&A: Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles Pitcher.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Dylan Bundy is on his way back to being Dylan Bundy. That’s great news for the Orioles, as the 21-year-old right-hander was the game’s top pitching prospect heading into last season. He underwent Tommy John surgery in June.

Bundy’s story is well-known. Drafted fourth overall in 2011, out of an Oklahoma high school, his work ethic and training regimen were front-page news. So was his mid-to-high-90s fastball. He made just 23 professional appearances before reaching Baltimore late in the 2012 season. One year ago this month, his elbow began to ache.

Bundy continues to progress. Exactly when he’ll be game-ready is unknown, but a mid-summer return seems likely. Bundy talked about his injury status, and how he approaches the game, just over one week ago.

Bundy on his rehab status: “I’m about 8.5 months out. You can’t pinpoint exactly when you’re going to be on the mound, or when you’re going to throw in a game. That’s pretty hard to determine, even if you don’t have any setbacks. But I’m up to 180 feet. Throwing good, arm feels great. Hopefully I’ll soon be moving on to the half mound, and then progressing to the full mound.

“I’m not throwing extremely hard like I did in the past, for stuff like long toss, but my arm feels good. It’s partly the team holding me back and also my arm strength not being where it was pre-injury. That takes time and you can’t really rush time. You have to wait for it. I don’t want to rush things by trying to throw too hard, and have do this whole thing all over again.”

On his current workout routine: “[Rehabbing], you do a lot more shoulder exercises you probably hadn’t done in the past. That’s true for me. I hadn’t done a lot of the exercises I’ve been doing since surgery. The throwing progression …I think it’s going great.

“As far as lifting, running, conditioning, sprinting — a lot of that hasn’t changed much, except I don’t do as much upper body. I kind of hold back as much as I can. I don’t want to get too tight in my upper body and cause a change in my arm angle, and have to… or I get sore in a different area in my upper body. I don’t go as heavy as I used to, and take it easy after a while.”

On long toss: “I’ve always been [into long toss], but never as much as Trevor Bauer. I maybe went out as far as him a couple of times, right before I got into the game, but never consistently. I don’t really know how much of an advocate I am now, relative to pre-injury. We’ll see how my arm reacts to long toss when I start throwing in games.

“Workout-wise, I think I was pretty solid. I don’t think I’d have changed any of that. I did do some things differently mechanically. That may have led to my surgery. I don’t really know.”

On mechanical changes: “We were trying to get my arm in a higher position. They say your arm needs to be at a certain angle when your foot makes contact, and mine was at a lower angle. We tried to change that a little bit. I got my hands moving… really, I just got away from the things I did in high school. I changed throughout the course of my first full minor league season. and I don’t think I should have.

“That’s the only thing I really regretted — changing those minor things my first year in pro ball. I should have stuck to what I did best. I should have just picked up a ball and thrown it. I’m a big believer in that; pick up a ball and throw it. If that’s how you throw, don’t change it.”

On his repertoire: “Right now, in my rehab progression — again, I’m only 8.5 months out — I’m just throwing four-seams. The other day I threw a couple two-seams just to change the grip. It’s still a fastball, you’re not doing anything with your arm or your wrist. We’re not going to start doing any curveballs, cutters, or changeups until I get on a full mound. That should be in about three or four weeks. When healthy, my repertoire is fastball, cutter, curveball and change.

“[In the minors] they had me really focus on my curveball and changeup. I didn’t have a decent changeup, because I didn’t throw one much in high school. I didn’t know when to throw it, or how to throw it, so we started working on it. We also worked on my curveball. We set aside my cutter while we did that.”

On arm speed and grips: “I don’t do the circle change. I kind of just widen my fingers like a fastball. On my fastball I keep my fingers closed, and on my changeup I widen them a little bit. There’s about an eight- or nine-MPH difference in velocity. Maybe seven.

“With my curveball, arm speed is the main thing. That’s how it is with every pitch. You don’t want to slow your arm down, or your body down, whether you‘re in the windup or out of the stretch. You want to keep everything like your fastball. The fastball is going to be your go-to pitch, so I try to throw everything with the same arm speed.

“I throw the same curveball I did in high school. I just get off to the side of the ball — the side of the horseshoe — and keep the same arm speed as my fastball. When my arm speed is the same, that‘s when I‘m at my best.”

On developing as a pitcher: “In low-A, I was throwing mainly fastballs and a couple of changeups every now and then. I was mostly just throwing the ball. In High-A, I needed to pitch a bit. Once I got to [Double-A] Bowie, I really had to pitch. I finally figured out how to learn some stuff, like reading batters better. When I got called up to the big leagues, I didn’t get to pitch a whole lot, because I came out of the bullpen and only got to face a couple batters.

“You can still say I’m a power pitcher. I consider myself one, but you don’t know how long you’re going to be a power pitcher. It depends on how your arm works and how your body responds. I’m learning more about my body, how I go about workouts, and how my arm is feeling.”

Pick `Em: Arizona’s Shortstop Conundrum.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
There are some teams that wish they had more or better shortstops. With Jose Iglesias now missing an indeterminate amount of time in Detroit, the Tigers may now start Eugenio Suarez. Don’t feel bad if that name is new to you. The Twins and Marlins are poised to start pure fielders Pedro Florimon and Adeiny Hechavarria. The Mets have the never-ending Ruben Tejeda story, and that other New York team will start somebody who used to be Derek Jeter. At least the Yankees have Brendan Ryan in reserve; the rest of these teams lack viable backups beyond their own version of Suarez. On the other end of the spectrum are the Arizona Diamondbacks, which feature three or four viable shortstops.

This isn’t to say the Diamondbacks have an excellent situation at shortstop. Their options are well-defined, but our depth chart page ranks Arizona’s shortstops as the 24th best unit in baseball — immediately behind the Boras City Free Agents. What the D-backs do have is plenty of major-league depth, with Chris Owings, Didi Gregorius, Cliff Pennington and Nick Ahmed. The latter option is ticketed for the minors, but Owings, Gregorius and Pennington are in a race for playing time.

The fun part about this competition is we’ll get some insight into the organization’s preferences. There are clear choices for the club if they want a superior bat, glove or a combination of both. They could also punt a decision and platooning based on the starting pitcher or game state. Owings bats righty, Gregorius lefty and Pennington is a switch-hitter. Arizona can use any platoon imaginable.

Owings is the bat option. One insider I spoke with compared him to Michael Young — complete with a future move down the defensive spectrum. Young gave away about one or two wins per season when he started at shortstop, and my impression is Owings would be a little less damaging in 2014. I’m more interested in the bat comp, though. Young was a BABIP fiend, with a career .333 mark. He was especially good at finding a hittable pitch and barreling it up. Owings’ skill set at the plate looks remarkably similar, from plate discipline to quality of contact.

Gregorius is seen as the glove. Our defensive metrics haven’t exactly drooled over him, but scouts and players enjoy his work in the field. His bat showed some surprising pop last season, but nobody is ready to cry Jimmy Rollins. He projects to give away about a win with his bat in a full season. Owings sits right at league average. For the sake of argument, let’s say Gregorius is a win better in the field, which would mean both players are equal in overall value.

Option number three is Pennington. His past two seasons at the plate have been ugly, but back in 2011, he mixed a little bit of Owings’ high-contact game with a solid defensive reputation (UZR didn’t like him that year). If he can recover some of his bat, he would offer a little more glove than Owings and a little more bat than Gregorius. If you step away from the scouting reports and rely more on UZR, Pennington looks like the best defensive option.

We can argue all day about specific expectations. All three players have some range of possible outcomes from totally injured to a hypothetical 100th percentile performance. Let’s settle for saying Owings and Gregorius are about equal and both have value to the franchise. Pennington is maybe a couple hairs worse than the youngsters, and he’s also a short-term asset. The club has several options it can try.

Start Gregorius, bench Pennington and option Owings.
Start Owings, bench Pennington and option Gregorius.
Start Pennington and option either or both Owings and Gregorius.
Platoon Owings and Gregorius based on opposing pitcher-handedness.
Platoon Owings and Gregorius based on Diamondbacks’ pitcher ball-in-play tendencies.
Mix Pennington into either platoon scenario.
Make a trade.
Fail to commit to any obvious strategy.
Let’s first address the pros and cons of a platoon. The hitting platoon doesn’t appear warranted. Owings’ sample is too small, but he hit same-handed pitchers well. Gregorius has struggled mightily against left-handed pitching, but it’s probably harmful to his development to isolate him from lefties at 24 years old. Pennington has hit better against righties than lefties in his career, but his year-by-year splits are all over the place. In short, only Gregorius looks like a classic platoon player, and he still has time to develop.

A platoon based on the Arizona pitcher that day makes more sense, except they all share a similar profile. The Diamondbacks will probably allow lots of balls in play now that Patrick Corbin is out for the season. Of the current projected rotation, Wade Miley is the strikeout champ at 17.4% of hitters. With Corbin and Archie Bradley in the rotation, Owings could be used with the strikeout guys while a defensive option is used for Miley, Cahill and McCarthy. As it stands, this platoon doesn’t really work.

Another disadvantage to the platoon is it can be hard for players to perform at peak efficiency. If Owings is only facing lefties, then there will be periods where he sits for most of a week. To get top value out of Owings, he needs to be sharp at the plate. Both players would probably develop more slowly with fewer at bats, which hurts the club’s long-term outlook.

Rather than run a platoon, the club could trade one of its prospects and count on Ahmed if the injury bug bites. I’ve seen this scenario proposed many times, but I don’t see the advantage to the Diamondbacks. Certainly, the team should make a deal if its getting a strong return. The issue is the club has no obvious hole that can be fixed by trading either shortstop. Additionally, both youngsters have the upside to be average or better players. Will they both reach that ceiling? Probably not. The club can easily hedge their bets by standing pat.

The worst choice would be to juggle all three players without any coherent, long-term plan. If the players don’t know what to expect day-to-day, then it could interfere with their performance and development a lot more than a simple platoon. That’s based on purely on theory, since individual outcomes are unpredictable.

That leaves three options that boil down to “pick one player and go.” If we’re right to presume all three players have a similar value in 2014, then it’s up to the Diamondbacks to decide what they prefer this year and into the future. Is it a glove, a bat or a little of both?

2014 Positional Power Rankings: Introduction.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Over the last couple of years, we’ve previewed the upcoming season by going position by position around MLB, looking at the how teams stack up to their various competitors at each spot on the diamond. We’ve enjoyed doing these pieces, and we like that they provide an alternative to the team-by-team or division-by-division approach to other season previews. By starting at the position level, we can see exactly where a team’s strengths and weaknesses lie, and identify some areas of for potential upgrade as well.

Additionally, by not just focusing on the starter at each position, we’re able to compare and contrast different strategies for manning a particular position on the field. How will one team’s everyday player compare to a left/right platoon? Or is a team with a hot young prospect on the way up in line for a second half upgrade once the service time issues are out of the way? What teams have enough depth to sustain quality performance in case of an injury? These are the kinds of things we can readily identify through this series.

Keep in mind that this is a 2014 season preview series, so we are not taking into account any future value a player may produce, so even if a kid has a terrific future, players are only being judged based on what they are expected to produce this year. Those expectations come from our Depth Charts pages, which combine playing time forecasts based on manually updated rosters with a blend of the ZIPS and Steamer performance forecasts. Our depth charts include the most recent injury diagnoses and what we think we know about future playing time at present, though of course things will change as the season goes along. It’s always good to keep in mind that these are a snapshot of a point in time; things can and will change.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that some players will have their value spread across multiple positions, so don’t freak out if you see a guy like Ben Zobrist listed with only +1 or +2 WAR at a specific position; his overall value is derived from accumulating value at several spots on the field, and none of these posts will reflect his entire value to the Rays. It should also be noted that multi-position players present a little bit of a challenge for this format, because ZIPS and Steamer forecast individual defensive ratings for a player’s expected primary position, not for every possible position on the field. So, for a player who will primarily play second base but also get some at-bats at shortstop, his defensive rating — it is listed as FLD in the data boxes — will be his expected value at second base, and his value will be slightly overstated when he plays shortstop, as his defensive performance at that position would be expected to be a bit worse.

This is a minor flaw in the system, and should serve as a reminder that these forecasts are certainly not perfect. This is an outline, not a precise calculation, and you shouldn’t worry too much about decimal point differences in rankings like this. Even if one team is forecast for +3.4 WAR and another is forecast for +3.0, there’s little actual difference there, and you certainly shouldn’t get too up in arms about a couple of places of ordinal rank if the overall forecast is essentially even. At some positions, there won’t be a big gap between the #10 and #20 teams, so try not to react too strongly to the number associated with a team’s placement. The value forecast is what you really care about, not so much a team’s rank within a position.

That said, there are different baseline forecasts for different positions. Catchers are projected to produce more value than left fielders, for instance, so the rankings also help to align things within a team’s comparison to its peers at that position. Knowing how your team stacks up against the competition at a given spot is helpful, and it’s one of the reasons we like the positional preview format.

For those interested in a schedule, we’re tentatively planning on rolling out two posts per day, with catchers and first baseman to follow a little later on today. We hope you enjoy the series as our way of leading up to Opening Day.

2014 Positional Power Rankings: Catcher.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
What do we have here? For an explanation of this series, please read this introductory post. As noted in that introduction, the data is a hybrid projection of the ZIPS and Steamer systems with playing time determined through depth charts created by our team of authors. The rankings are based on aggregate projected WAR for each team at a given position. The author writing this post did not move your team down ten spots in order to make you angry. We don’t hate your team. I promise.

Dave’s hit you with the introduction, so it’s time to begin this series in earnest. And we’ll begin, as we always do, with the catchers, even though catching might be baseball’s most mysterious position. For an idea of the spread of what you’re going to see — which is more important than the rankings themselves — here’s a graph with green in it:

You’ll notice there’s a big gap between first and second. It’s a gap of 1.2 WAR. That’s as big as the gap between fifth and 24th. Let there be no question: by our system, there’s a clear first place, looking down upon the rest of the landscape.

But of course, our system isn’t all-encompassing or perfect, and not just because the projections are arguable and the playing time is arguable too. There are just things about catching that aren’t included, one invisible one being game-calling, and one visible one being pitch-receiving or pitch-framing. You’ve seen the pitch-framing research, and you’ve seen some of the numbers it suggests. Including those numbers would shake up these rankings. The market doesn’t seem to believe too heavily in the numbers, and conversations I’ve had suggest people in the game think the numbers are too extreme, but there’s little question there’s some kind of skill there, and so catchers should receive at least partial credit. I’ll take care to talk about pitch-framing below, for catchers where it makes sense. You can mentally shuffle that information into the rankings. Now it’s probably beyond time to proceed, from the top.

#1 Giants

Buster Posey 480 .295 .371 .469 .364 20.7 -1.3 4.4 5.1
Hector Sanchez 128 .249 .292 .363 .288 -2.1 -0.2 -0.7 0.4
Andrew Susac 32 .219 .298 .326 .282 -0.7 0.0 0.1 0.1
Total 640 .281 .352 .440 .345 17.9 -1.5 3.7 5.6
A year ago, the Giants ranked first, by almost a full win. This time around, they rank first, by more than a full win. There’s talk about how Buster Posey could end up a first baseman down the road, and last year he made 16 starts at that position, but for the time being he remains a backstop and an absolutely incredible one. The pessimist would say that Posey’s wRC+ just dropped 30 points. The optimist would say that Posey’s wRC+ was 33 points higher than average, and no one could’ve reasonably expected Posey to repeat what he did in 2012. All he was was an excellent hitter who’s more than capable of handling the load behind the plate, and that ought to remain the case for the coming season. Posey’s a gem, and he’s a major reason why the Giants should play like contenders.

Hector Sanchez, last year, swung at 40% of pitches outside of the strike zone. That’s the same as what he did the year before. But he did drop his swing rate at strikes by five percentage points. So, that’s Hector Sanchez for you.

#2 Indians

Yan Gomes 435 .257 .309 .423 .320 2.2 0.0 3.5 3.1
Carlos Santana 141 .254 .367 .444 .355 4.6 -0.4 -0.6 1.2
Matt Treanor 38 .203 .285 .294 .263 -1.5 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Roberto Perez 26 .220 .280 .330 .272 -0.8 0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 640 .251 .319 .416 .323 4.4 -0.6 2.8 4.4
When the Indians picked up Yan Gomes along with Mike Aviles for Esmil Rogers, they probably figured, “hey, we’re getting a neat guy.” They probably didn’t figure, “hey, we’re getting maybe a franchise catcher.” Gomes is 26, and in his first full season, he hit for power and average while displaying solidly above-average defensive skills. He gave the Indians their first quality pitch-framer in a number of years, and while Gomes probably isn’t going to sustain the numbers he just put up, he doesn’t have to do that to look plenty good. He’s already been good enough, in fact, to displace Carlos Santana. If Gomes is a league-average hitter, he’s a good regular. If he’s an above-average hitter, he’s a great regular. Santana will still catch some, so Indians pitchers will still have to deal with some Carlos Santana, but Gomes has to be a breath of fresh air. Good going, Brazil. Good going, Cleveland. Worse going, Toronto.

#3 Cardinals

Yadier Molina 429 .292 .342 .432 .337 8.1 -1.5 8.4 3.9
Tony Cruz 160 .234 .276 .337 .270 -5.4 -0.2 0.8 0.3
Rob Johnson 32 .217 .274 .326 .266 -1.2 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Audry Perez 19 .227 .260 .311 .253 -0.9 0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 640 .271 .320 .399 .314 0.7 -1.8 9.2 4.3
Yadier Molina does everything. He can even run a little bit, at least for a catcher. He hits for average. He gets on base. He hits for power. He blocks pitches in the dirt. He calls a good game. He has a terrifying, intimidating arm. He frames. He ages slowly, given that he’s still just 31. He leads. Molina is a dream of a regular catcher, and I expect him to exceed this playing time, as he hasn’t batted fewer than 518 times since 2008, when he reached 485. Because they’re a baseball team, the Cardinals have always carried a backup catcher. Because they’ve had Yadier Molina, they almost haven’t had to. Every few months, I’ll look over the Cardinals’ roster, and I’ll see Tony Cruz’s name, and I’ll think to myself, “what is that guy’s deal?” I’m probably never going to find out. Molina’s too durable, and Molina’s too good.

#4 Royals

Salvador Perez 480 .287 .320 .432 .327 2.1 -0.8 7.4 3.7
Brett Hayes 115 .228 .266 .378 .280 -3.7 0.0 -0.4 0.2
Francisco Pena 32 .220 .280 .330 .272 -1.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Ramon Hernandez 13 .238 .287 .368 .288 -0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 640 .272 .308 .416 .315 -3.3 -0.9 7.0 3.9
Perez has had his wRC+ drop two years in a row, but just because he hasn’t broken out and just because he’s easy to forget doesn’t mean he isn’t a hell of a player. He’s still just 23 years old, last year he played almost every day, and he blends a contact-heavy batting-average approach with standout defensive skills and improving pitch-receiving. As a rookie, Perez was 1.6 strikes below average per game, according to Matthew Carruth’s framing numbers. As a sophomore, he moved to -1.4. Last year, he jumped up to -0.3. Though he won’t walk, he also won’t strike out, and along the way he’ll hit for some power and help out the pitching staff. Perez is signed through 2019, and the Royals probably couldn’t be more thrilled. Brett Hayes isn’t much of anything, but he’d only have to be in the event of a disaster.

#5 Yankees

Brian McCann 480 .259 .339 .460 .346 8.6 -1.8 -1.5 3.3
Francisco Cervelli 96 .235 .314 .334 .293 -2.3 0.0 -0.5 0.2
Austin Romine 26 .238 .290 .349 .284 -0.8 0.0 -0.1 0.1
J.R. Murphy 19 .239 .296 .379 .298 -0.4 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Gary Sanchez 19 .235 .285 .397 .299 -0.4 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 640 .253 .331 .432 .332 4.8 -1.8 -2.2 3.7
The Yankees are coming off a season in which their catchers gave them excellent defense and excellent pitch-framing. The front office subsequently dipped into the free-agent market, and now their catchers stand to provide excellent defense, excellent pitch-framing, and really good hitting, too, in stark contrast to the 2013 out-apalooza. If you don’t believe much in framing, McCann looks like a good sign, as he’s a productive regular catcher with a few more years to spend behind the plate. If you do believe in framing, McCann could be a superstar bargain. As bridges to future youth go, McCann is second to few.

#6 Orioles

Matt Wieters 480 .250 .317 .425 .322 -0.2 -1.3 6.5 3.3
Chris Snyder 96 .221 .298 .364 .293 -2.3 -0.4 -0.7 0.2
Steve Clevenger 32 .256 .309 .365 .298 -0.6 -0.1 -0.3 0.1
Johnny Monell 32 .223 .296 .373 .296 -0.7 0.0 -0.2 0.1
Total 640 .245 .312 .410 .315 -3.8 -1.8 5.3 3.6
Compared to last year, Wieters’ projected OBP is down 16 points, and his projected SLG is down ten points, so his projected wOBA is down ten points. Not a whole lot changed about him, but he hit into more outs and put more balls in the air, and I think it’s safe to say Wieters isn’t blossoming into the superstar he was projected to become as a high-minors prospect. But if you’re feeling pessimistic, I’ll remind you of two things: one, he’s still one of the best catchers in baseball, and two, he’s still just 27 years old, and catchers tend to have their development proceed more slowly. Wieters is still a part of the Orioles’ core, and he’s still a guy who’s going to help determine whether or not the 2014 Orioles are gunning for the postseason. His future’s up in the air, but the same could be said for all of us.

#7 Nationals

Wilson Ramos 384 .269 .321 .443 .332 4.4 -0.7 2.1 2.7
Jose Lobaton 179 .243 .318 .375 .308 -1.3 -0.4 -1.0 0.7
Jhonatan Solano 38 .235 .270 .333 .265 -1.6 0.0 0.0 0.0
Sandy Leon 38 .221 .286 .311 .268 -1.5 0.0 0.3 0.1
Total 640 .257 .315 .410 .317 0.0 -1.1 1.4 3.5
Wilson Ramos’ initials are WAR. If he can ever stay healthy, he could be worth a lot of it. His defensive skills seem to be perfectly fine, he’s only 26, and he owns a career 109 wRC+ while last year he trimmed his strikeout rate while boosting his power. Staying on the field is the key for Ramos, and as long as he’s able to do that, the Nationals might well have a top-five backstop. Because of Ramos’ health concerns, the Nationals made it an offseason priority to land themselves a reliable reserve. Lobaton fits, as a guy who was squeezed out of Tampa Bay, and while Washington would obviously like for Ramos to play as much as he possibly can, Lobaton’s an all-right option if he’s forced to play a couple weeks in a row. He’s coming off a quietly good 311 plate appearances.

#8 Astros

Jason Castro 480 .250 .331 .416 .328 3.8 -0.2 -0.3 3.1
Carlos Corporan 64 .225 .281 .358 .281 -1.8 -0.1 -0.3 0.1
Max Stassi 64 .236 .286 .390 .297 -1.1 0.0 0.3 0.3
Cody Clark 32 .199 .241 .281 .233 -2.1 0.0 -0.1 -0.1
Total 640 .243 .317 .401 .315 -1.2 -0.4 -0.3 3.4
While the future might be Max Stassi, the present’s still Jason Castro, and Castro is one of the rare Astros players who could still be a starter on most of the other teams in major-league baseball. It’s been a delight to watch his progress. As a rookie, he fought his way to a 56 wRC+. The next time around, he pulled himself up to a strong 100. Last season, he finished at 130, with power and walks to offset the strikeouts. For good measure, Castro improved his blocking, and worked on his receiving. Castro’s turned himself into a well-rounded player, and even if his future might be with another organization, he’ll give the Astros value in 2014 and he’d bring the Astros value after that, if Stassi pushes his way through. Which, you know, he’s capable of, because the Astros are becoming increasingly loaded with quality youth.

#9 Brewers

Jonathan Lucroy 448 .273 .329 .431 .333 4.6 -0.6 0.1 2.8
Martin Maldonado 192 .222 .283 .352 .282 -5.6 -0.2 1.2 0.5
Total 640 .258 .316 .407 .317 -1.0 -0.9 1.3 3.4
A reminder of a quote from a couple weeks ago:

according to 1 gm, their team ranks brewers jonathan lucroy as 1 of top 2 catchers, along with yadier molina.

Framing. This is where we have to talk about framing. The numbers make Lucroy look outstanding. Maldonado, too, suggesting that the Brewers are doing something to teach this. As is, the Brewers’ catchers are at the bottom of the top 10. Include framing numbers and they jump all the way to the front, or at least close to it. If the framing ranges are true, then Jonathan Lucroy is baseball’s quietest superstar. If they’re exaggerated, Lucroy’s still better than he looks above, unless you believe it’s 100% completely made up.

And you know the funny thing? Lucroy can hit, too. He’s chopped his strikeouts, he’s boosted his power, and he’s turned himself into a legitimate threat. Without framing, Lucroy is underrated. With framing, Lucroy is one of the most valuable players in baseball. What percentage of baseball fans even know his name? Maybe you’re sick of people like me beating this drum, but Jonathan Lucroy deserves to have his drum beaten. I don’t think that came out right.

#10 Dodgers

A.J. Ellis 493 .242 .335 .361 .311 -0.2 -1.1 3.7 2.9
Tim Federowicz 115 .228 .292 .352 .284 -2.4 -0.1 0.2 0.4
Drew Butera 32 .203 .244 .291 .238 -1.8 0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 640 .238 .323 .356 .302 -4.5 -1.2 3.9 3.2
Really, Ellis’ 23-point drop in wRC+ was a 60-point drop in BABIP. That’s the main component, and though there were other changes, BABIP could be blamed for the bulk of it. This ought to be an easily projectable player. You know he’s not going to run much. He’ll walk, he’ll strike out some, and he’ll hit for very modest power. Despite being a Dodger, Ellis is the opposite of flashy, but he’s reliable and he might be developing his throwing arm. Last season he nabbed 28 of 63 runners, although it’s possible this had more to do with the pitching staff.

I’ll throw out some framing numbers again, for A.J. Ellis:

2010: -2.0 strikes/game
2011: -1.1
2012: -1.0
2013: -0.5

It stands to reason that pitch-framing could be coachable. It stands to reason that Ellis could be getting better in that department. It stands to reason the Dodgers are pretty happy with their catching situation, all things considered.

#11 Padres

Yasmani Grandal 384 .252 .345 .390 .326 4.7 -0.4 -1.5 2.4
Nick Hundley 224 .227 .287 .369 .287 -4.1 -0.6 0.8 0.8
Rene Rivera 32 .230 .275 .338 .271 -1.0 -0.1 0.3 0.1
Total 640 .242 .322 .380 .310 -0.4 -1.0 -0.4 3.2
Setting a minimum of 1,000 called pitches caught, last year’s best framer, according to Matthew Carruth, was Rene Rivera. In second was Yasmani Grandal. The season before, Grandal finished sixth, and I’ve had it relayed to me that the Padres do believe in this stuff, maybe because they have to but maybe also because they’re smart baseball men who are trying to take advantage of what remains an over-cautious market.

So Grandal’s a surprisingly capable receiver. The question, oddly, is his bat, which last year dropped 44 points to a 100 wRC+. People continue to wonder about his power on the other side of a PED suspension, but our system sees him as a threat. There’s little doubt about the walks and the strikeouts, and the power potential is still in there. Should Grandal end up slumping or hurt, there are worse backups around than Nick Hundley, who had a big bounceback 2013. Though he wasn’t extraordinary, he was clearly happy to have put his injury problems behind him.

#12 Pirates

Russell Martin 448 .231 .323 .374 .311 -0.8 -0.3 5.0 2.8
Chris Stewart 128 .232 .289 .307 .267 -4.6 0.0 0.2 0.2
Tony Sanchez 64 .234 .300 .361 .294 -1.0 -0.1 -0.3 0.2
Total 640 .232 .314 .359 .301 -6.5 -0.3 4.9 3.2
Behold, the position that in large part helped the Pirates finally return to the playoffs. Behold, the catcher that the Yankees probably missed every single day. Martin’s still hitting, even if he’s come down from what he was in 2007, and he was tremendously valuable behind the plate, blocking pitches and gunning down a whole lot of baserunners. And, yeah, Martin’s a quality pitch-receiver, which is something the Pirates hadn’t had in way too many years. Martin is the rare free-agent acquisition who looks like a bargain, and behind him, Stewart can at least approximate some of his skills. Tony Sanchez is of interest, and he makes for good depth, but Martin is one of those guys who makes the Pirates tick. So, he’s one of those guys the Pirates would prefer not to have to play without for too long a stretch.

#13 Braves

Evan Gattis 352 .252 .302 .464 .330 4.0 -0.4 -2.6 2.0
Gerald Laird 224 .243 .309 .348 .292 -4.1 -0.4 1.1 0.8
Ryan Doumit 64 .251 .311 .402 .312 -0.2 -0.2 -0.4 0.3
Christian Bethancourt 45 .253 .280 .376 .287 -1.0 -0.1 0.3 0.2
Steven Lerud 19 .193 .270 .273 .247 -1.0 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 704 .248 .303 .411 .311 -2.3 -1.0 -1.7 3.2
Gattis makes for a fascinating story and an intriguing power bat. Somewhat surprisingly, he seems to be a quality receiver, too. What he’s got are some other question marks, but one should hope those question marks don’t lead the Braves to play too much of someone else, because the alternatives to Gattis are lousy. Laird doesn’t really do anything well, and though Doumit can hit some, he gives everything back as a defender in a helmet. It’s going to be a big adjustment for the Braves to enter the post-McCann era, and it’s going to sting some, but Gattis has it in him to make the adjustment tolerable. Even exciting, once every handful of at-bats. After how bad the spring has gone so far, the Braves could use some Evan Gattis optimism.

#14 Diamondbacks

Miguel Montero 544 .251 .339 .398 .324 0.3 -1.5 3.0 3.1
Henry Blanco 51 .211 .275 .334 .272 -2.1 -0.2 0.0 0.0
Tuffy Gosewisch 45 .226 .267 .342 .269 -1.9 -0.1 0.2 0.0
Total 640 .246 .329 .388 .316 -3.7 -1.8 3.2 3.2
When did the decline begin? On the one hand, Miguel Montero’s wRC+ peaked in 2012 before plummeting in 2013. On the other hand, he was coming off a career-high BABIP and a career-low ISO, and then last season the BABIP regressed while the ISO dropped further. The result was that Montero was worth hardly anything, and even a better second half didn’t make the picture all the more rosy. Montero, now, is projected to bounce back. Our numbers put him solidly in between his last two seasons. But the downside potential exists, and I’m not sure about relief in the persons of Henry Blanco or Tuffy Gosewisch. By the way, Montero’s receiving numbers have also declined. This reads like an awful negative paragraph.

#15 Tigers

Alex Avila 416 .240 .340 .399 .328 1.9 -0.6 -0.8 2.4
Bryan Holaday 173 .239 .287 .342 .280 -5.8 -0.1 0.9 0.4
Victor Martinez 32 .290 .344 .426 .334 0.3 -0.2 0.0 0.2
Ramon Cabrera 19 .259 .315 .342 .293 -0.4 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 640 .243 .325 .382 .314 -4.0 -0.8 0.0 3.1
Between 2011 and 2012, Alex Avila lost a lot of power. Between 2012 and 2013, Avila lost a lot of OBP. This guy’s still just 27 years old, but it’s been quite the fall from his breakthrough year, which in some sense is reason for optimism. In that, it’s not too late for him to get back. Encouragingly, his numbers against right-handed pitchers stayed about the same, and he had a bigger second half after a miserable first half. So if you look closer, Avila is actually trending somewhat positively. He’s going to carry the load again, because he doesn’t have a lot of quality behind him, and it seems reasonable to me to project the Tigers in the middle of the pack. But if Avila’s strikeouts keep going up, that wRC+ will keep going down, and the Tigers can lose only so much value before they drop closer to their divisional rivals. They remain in a strong, dominant position, but throw enough rocks and you’ll bring down a lion.

#16 Athletics

Derek Norris 320 .221 .319 .385 .314 -0.3 0.3 -1.2 1.7
Stephen Vogt 160 .249 .299 .378 .297 -2.2 -0.1 -0.8 0.6
John Jaso 128 .250 .357 .375 .330 1.5 -0.1 -1.0 0.8
Chris Gimenez 32 .226 .305 .317 .281 -0.8 -0.1 -0.1 0.1
Total 640 .234 .321 .378 .311 -1.8 0.0 -3.1 3.1
Just to point something out: the A’s, here, rank 16th, while the Dodgers ranked 10th. But the Dodgers rank 10th with 3.2 WAR, while the A’s rank 16th with 3.1 WAR, so this is the part of the post where you shouldn’t care about the rankings too much. Many of these teams project more or less the same. The A’s continue to insist that John Jaso isn’t finished catching, despite his concussion trouble. What that means is that Jaso should get some playing time here. But he’ll also give some to Jaso-equivalent Stephen Vogt, and together they’ll probably platoon with Derek Norris, who’s young and good and fairly promising. Norris, also, has a little defensive skill, so he could be a quality regular down the road. For the time being, the A’s will leverage their all-around roster depth. As with many of their positions, this is neither a strength nor a weakness.

#17 Cubs

Welington Castillo 397 .250 .323 .400 .319 -1.1 -0.3 0.8 2.1
George Kottaras 218 .216 .330 .383 .318 -0.7 -0.2 -2.1 0.8
John Baker 26 .210 .288 .277 .258 -1.3 -0.1 -0.2 0.0
Total 640 .237 .324 .389 .316 -3.2 -0.5 -1.5 2.9
Now we’re making our way toward the lower tier, and in Welington Castillo, we have a catcher who’s posted a .346 BABIP with three times as many strikeouts as walks. Also, he doesn’t hit for big power, and also, he doesn’t seem to receive particularly well. But Castillo’s young and you can’t ignore a 103 wRC+, and last season he did manage to reduce his strikeouts a little bit. In the event Castillo has to miss some time, the Cubs can turn to a guy who can also hit a little without really contributing a lot as a defender. That’s not fair to Castillo, who can block and throw, but I’m biased toward pitch-framing numbers and if you didn’t already know that you haven’t been paying attention. You want me to sum this up? Castillo’s fine. Could be better, but, could be worse. Not the biggest problem the Cubs are going to have. Not going to represent the organization in the All-Star Game.

#18 Blue Jays

Dioner Navarro 320 .259 .321 .411 .320 -0.5 -1.4 -0.6 1.6
Erik Kratz 256 .234 .295 .415 .308 -2.8 -0.2 -0.5 1.1
Josh Thole 32 .249 .317 .356 .297 -0.6 -0.1 -0.3 0.1
A.J. Jimenez 32 .251 .289 .357 .285 -0.9 0.0 0.2 0.1
Total 640 .248 .309 .407 .312 -4.8 -1.8 -1.2 2.8
Look, I could write words, and if you’re reading these words, you would’ve read those words. I could tell you all about Dioner Navarro’s upside. I could tell you some things about Erik Kratz’s apparent defensive ability. I could tell you how Navarro’s deal could look like a real bargain, even though the Jays themselves claimed they paid more than they would’ve liked. But this section absolutely isn’t about Dioner Navarro and Erik Kratz. It’s about how the Blue Jays don’t have J.P. Arencibia anymore. Last season J.P. Arencibia posted a .227 OBP. Things are going to be better. Things are going to be better, you guys. You just have to believe. You don’t even have to believe. They just will be.

#19 Mets

Travis d’Arnaud 416 .243 .306 .396 .309 -0.8 -0.1 -1.0 2.0
Anthony Recker 173 .225 .296 .384 .300 -1.6 -0.2 -1.0 0.6
Juan Centeno 32 .252 .292 .315 .271 -1.0 0.0 0.2 0.1
Taylor Teagarden 19 .198 .256 .335 .263 -0.7 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 640 .238 .301 .387 .303 -4.1 -0.3 -1.8 2.7
While d’Arnaud is a question mark, it’s interesting that the projection systems are in agreement. Steamer projects a 99 wRC+. ZiPS projects a 97 wRC+. Oliver projects a 99 wRC+. The Fans project a 117 wRC+, but that’s about the same after you make the usual Fan adjustment. Everyone agrees that d’Arnaud will continue to walk, and everyone agrees that d’Arnaud will start to show some more of the power he’s only so far shown in hitter-friendly environments. It isn’t known whether d’Arnaud will end up all right or legitimately good, but this is a position of promise for an organization that needs more of them. In the short term, d’Arnaud will blend discipline with defensive skills. If he hits for this much power, the Mets will be happy. If he hits beyond this, the Mets will be thrilled.

#20 Phillies

Carlos Ruiz 416 .272 .340 .405 .326 2.3 -0.8 2.2 2.6
Wil Nieves 128 .240 .274 .319 .261 -5.7 -0.4 -0.8 -0.1
Cameron Rupp 96 .225 .277 .345 .276 -3.2 0.0 0.1 0.2
Total 640 .258 .318 .378 .305 -6.6 -1.2 1.5 2.7
Ruiz was absolutely outstanding in 2012. Then he served a suspension and, while his walks and strikeouts stayed the same, he gave away more than half his ISO along with a good chunk of his BABIP. Now Ruiz is just an aging catcher coming off the worst season he’s had since 2008, so this is a situation where you can see both the bounceback upside and the potential for the Phillies to have a nightmare on their hands. Not long ago, Ruiz was a quality regular. Sometimes, however, when catchers go, they just go. I guess it could be worse. All the projected teams below the Phillies project worse, after all. Here’s one of them!

#21 Rockies

Wilin Rosario 512 .272 .305 .481 .340 0.6 -0.1 -3.7 2.4
Michael McKenry 77 .250 .314 .417 .320 -1.1 -0.1 -0.5 0.2
Jordan Pacheco 51 .272 .316 .374 .305 -1.3 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 640 .270 .307 .465 .335 -1.8 -0.2 -4.3 2.7
The thing that makes me chuckle is that I’m writing about Wilin Rosario in a post about catchers. Rosario is as raw as it gets, defensively, and in a way, he’s about as raw as it gets offensively, too. A list of the things he doesn’t do: walk, block, frame, make contact, throw with consistent accuracy. A list of the things he does do: hit for power, hit for some average. Rosario is dangerous at the plate, some of the time, and he’s still young enough to become a real terror, but the likelihood is that if that happens, it’ll happen for him at another defensive position. He’s made some improvements as a catcher, but it seems to me he still has too far to go.

#22 Angels

Hank Conger 352 .243 .303 .380 .301 -3.5 -0.4 -2.3 1.3
Chris Iannetta 256 .217 .337 .361 .315 0.3 -0.6 -0.7 1.3
John Hester 32 .211 .270 .324 .265 -1.2 0.0 -0.3 0.0
Total 640 .232 .315 .370 .304 -4.4 -1.1 -3.2 2.7
This is a fairly unremarkable duo. The great separation: last season, as a receiver, Iannetta was about 1.1 strikes below average per game. Conger, meanwhile, was about 2.1 strikes above average per game, standing out as one of baseball’s premier pitch-framers. Whether or not Mike Scioscia’s aware of that, I can’t say, but the potential is there for Conger to have a lot more value and help to push the Angels toward the playoff race. Iannetta probably has more of the offensive upside, but neither guy is a slugger and neither guy is a star. John Hester is here, too. Say hi.

#23 Rays

Ryan Hanigan 352 .246 .336 .317 .289 -6.3 -0.4 4.4 1.7
Jose Molina 288 .225 .283 .319 .269 -9.7 -0.9 2.9 0.8
Total 640 .236 .312 .318 .280 -16.0 -1.4 7.3 2.5
Do I even need to tell you? The primary reason the Rays have both these guys isn’t included in the projection systems. So, as a result, the Rays seem underrated by the projection systems. It’s no secret that Jose Molina can’t really hit. Ryan Hanigan’s best days might be behind him. He certainly can’t hit for much power. But Molina’s here to catch borderline strikes, and the same goes for Hanigan, and if you believe strongly in those skills, the Rays ought to show up sooner in the list. A lot of teams are skeptical. The Rays aren’t skeptical. You choose who to trust, I can’t make up your mind.

#24 Twins

Kurt Suzuki 384 .247 .301 .372 .294 -7.3 -0.4 0.3 1.4
Josmil Pinto 192 .256 .316 .397 .314 -0.6 -0.1 -0.3 1.0
Chris Herrmann 64 .221 .288 .317 .272 -2.3 0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 640 .247 .304 .374 .298 -10.2 -0.5 0.1 2.5
It doesn’t get less exciting than Kurt Suzuki. From our standpoint, I mean. Pitchers love him, he’s a great guy, calls a good game, but he does nothing for me as a player and I’m guessing he does nothing for you. A fun thing I heard over the weekend: Suzuki is able enough as a receiver, but he’s hurt by his short arms, causing him to stab for pitches he shouldn’t have to stab or reach for. Consider him one of those guys who might be more valuable in real life than he seems to be on his FanGraphs page. Josmil Pinto is the real intrigue here, after hitting his way up the organizational ladder in 2013. The more he plays, the more interesting the Twins will be to non-Twins fans, and also to Twins fans. I should’ve led with “Twins fans”.

#25 Red Sox

A.J. Pierzynski 320 .268 .300 .417 .310 -3.5 -1.3 -0.1 1.3
David Ross 192 .220 .290 .377 .296 -4.3 -0.5 1.0 0.7
Christian Vazquez 51 .252 .314 .355 .299 -1.0 -0.1 0.1 0.2
Daniel Butler 51 .234 .303 .377 .301 -0.9 0.0 0.0 0.2
Ryan Lavarnway 26 .251 .315 .395 .313 -0.2 0.0 -0.3 0.1
Total 640 .249 .299 .396 .304 -10.1 -1.9 0.8 2.4
No one’s going to tell you the Red Sox found their solution in A.J. Pierzynski. But the Red Sox aren’t paying him to be the solution, and you’ll notice the guy they lost to free agency hasn’t shown up on the list yet. Pierzynski is perfectly fine, and a better fit for the clubhouse than he seems to be based on his Internet reputation. Behind Pierzynski, the Red Sox have maybe the best backup catcher in baseball, and if Ross had more stamina he’d have a lot more career plate appearances. This is all about buying time until the younger guys are ready, and Pierzynski makes sense as a one-year stopgap. He’s far from spectacular, but he’s reliably adequate, and the Sox are strong in other places. Expect Pierzynski to get a lot of the credit if the Sox succeed, and expect him to get a lot of the blame if they fall flat. For personality reasons, I mean.

#26 Reds

Devin Mesoraco 384 .247 .308 .413 .313 -1.9 -0.7 0.2 1.8
Brayan Pena 224 .259 .290 .368 .289 -5.4 -1.0 -1.2 0.4
Corky Miller 32 .218 .304 .338 .289 -0.8 -0.1 -0.1 0.1
Total 640 .250 .301 .393 .303 -8.1 -1.8 -1.1 2.2
At some point, bat-first catchers have to swing good bats, and Devin Mesoraco hasn’t done that yet. But the projections foresee improvement, with Steamer pegging a 92 wRC+ and ZiPS going as high as 99. For as much as Mesoraco’s career numbers so far are depressed, we’re talking about just 589 plate appearances over parts of three seasons, and the guy turns 26 in the middle of June. There is significant offensive upside, and Mesoraco’s defensive game seems to be tolerable. Consider the Reds lower-tier, with an asterisk. Do I have to write about Brayan Pena and Corky Miller? I was never told that I was, specifically, so I’m going to talk about the Mariners now. Oh, great.

#27 Mariners

Mike Zunino 448 .231 .295 .382 .298 -7.2 0.2 -0.8 1.7
John Buck 128 .219 .293 .358 .288 -3.1 -0.2 -0.2 0.4
Humberto Quintero 32 .224 .259 .320 .255 -1.6 -0.1 0.1 0.0
Jesus Sucre 32 .243 .278 .307 .261 -1.5 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 640 .229 .292 .370 .292 -13.3 -0.1 -1.0 2.1
The Mariners drew some criticism for promoting Mike Zunino awful aggressively. Mostly because that’s exactly what they did, but in their partial defense, they had an injury situation that all but forced their hand. Zunino didn’t do anything as a hitter in the bigs, and previous to his promotion he was in a slump in Triple-A, but there’s reason to believe for a better 2014. Zunino has fairly good power, and he’s one of those guys who’s revamped his swing, currently getting reps with it in camp. He’s now playing with experience, and his discipline isn’t a particular weakness. Elsewhere, Zunino features pretty good defensive skills. The elements are there for Zunino to be the long-term guy, like what the organization sells him as. Odds are, though, he won’t get really settled in until after 2014 is finished.

#28 Rangers

Geovany Soto 288 .225 .307 .399 .312 -3.6 -1.0 -0.5 1.1
J.P. Arencibia 288 .223 .269 .419 .299 -6.4 -0.4 -1.7 0.7
Robinson Chirinos 64 .239 .309 .363 .299 -1.4 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Total 640 .226 .290 .405 .305 -11.4 -1.5 -2.3 2.0
Well, I found J.P. Arencibia. And look, he’s projected for a big OBP improvement! I’ll say this for Arencibia: he seems to have made some dramatic steps forward with regard to framing. And Geovany Soto isn’t bad, either. Arencibia, in the past, has hit for just enough power to make himself something better than a disaster. Soto is coming off a strong offensive year as a backup, in which he hit for the power he had in 2010. It would be silly to suggest there’s no upside here. The Rangers like the way Soto catches and he could hit well enough to earn more than half the playing time. But the key is less about achieving upside, and more about avoiding downside. The Rangers just want for this to not be a problem. Anything more than that would be gravy.

#29 Marlins

Jarrod Saltalamacchia 416 .235 .303 .408 .311 -2.2 -0.1 -3.3 1.6
Jeff Mathis 160 .200 .253 .320 .252 -8.3 -0.2 0.5 0.0
Rob Brantly 32 .241 .287 .337 .276 -1.1 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 608 .226 .289 .381 .294 -11.6 -0.3 -2.8 1.7
The thing about Jarrod Saltalamacchia isn’t that he isn’t worth the contract he signed with the Marlins. He is worth the contract. The contract is fine. The thing about Jarrod Saltalamacchia is that he just isn’t that great. He was a two-win player a few years ago, he was a two-win player two years ago, and he was almost a four-win player last season in large part because of a .372 BABIP. Send that back down and Saltalamacchia goes back down, and we’re beyond the point at which we can still hope for him to stop striking out like a crazy person. What Saltalamacchia will do is give the Marlins a pinch of veteran adequacy. He probably won’t do much beyond that. At least he’s way better than Jeff Mathis. Just because he’s not great doesn’t mean he’s not a great improvement over the alternative.

#30 White Sox

Tyler Flowers 384 .206 .287 .372 .293 -9.4 -0.6 -1.8 0.9
Josh Phegley 160 .242 .281 .379 .289 -4.4 0.0 0.4 0.5
Adrian Nieto 32 .216 .286 .339 .280 -1.1 0.0 0.0 0.1
Hector Gimenez 32 .223 .285 .372 .289 -0.9 0.0 0.0 0.1
Bryan Anderson 32 .219 .285 .347 .281 -1.1 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Total 640 .217 .285 .371 .290 -16.9 -0.6 -1.6 1.6
Over the career equivalent of a full season, Tyler Flowers owns a 75 wRC+ with a strikeout for every three plate appearances. The strikeouts weren’t much better in Triple-A. Meanwhile, Josh Phegley, to his name, has 41 strikeouts, five walks, and four dingers. He showed some offensive promise in Triple-A but no one who watched him down the stretch last season can believe it. He chased way too often and made a habit of popping the ball in the air. Given the minor-league slash lines, the potential is there for the White Sox to actually have a pretty good catching situation. That would represent their 2014 ceiling, and the only point that would really make is that everybody in the majors is good and everybody in the majors has upside and downside. The projections have spoken: the White Sox aren’t in a good catching situation in 2014. Thankfully, for the White Sox, it isn’t about 2014. Maybe these guys will hit this year or maybe they won’t. At least then the White Sox will have their answers for when they think more about the future. It’s…it’s going to take time, for the White Sox.

2014 Positional Power Rankings: First Base.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Jeff’s already covered the catchers, so let’s move to the other end of the defensive spectrum, and look at the position on the field where teams expect the most offense.

There’s a clear top tier, with a few very great hitters at the high end before the drop-off. And then there’s the bottom. This is what the Marlins get for not spending any money. This is what the Phillies get for spending a lot of money very poorly.

#1 Tigers
Miguel Cabrera 560 .321 .409 .584 .420 42.7 -1.3 -2.7 5.1
Victor Martinez 56 .290 .344 .426 .334 0.5 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Don Kelly 49 .244 .312 .363 .301 -0.8 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Jordan Lennerton 35 .230 .305 .357 .295 -0.7 0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 700 .308 .392 .543 .398 41.7 -1.6 -2.7 5.2
Miguel Cabrera is so good that we docked him first base time for injury and some designated hitting, and he’s still number one. There’s some chance that he should be docked further — Victor Martinez shows up here as a better defender, and another year removed from knee surgery, he might actually show better glove at the position. That would dock Cabrera some positional value, but when you’re projected to have the best bat in the league again, you can afford to lose a run here or there. Let’s not talk about his 31-year-old hips, that’s no fun. If those do start to bark, and Martinez is also hurting, Don Kelley can slide over and replacement level at first maybe.

#2 Reds
Joey Votto 595 .292 .418 .505 .397 36.1 -1.2 4.4 5.0
Jack Hannahan 42 .227 .305 .341 .290 -1.0 -0.1 0.2 0.0
Neftali Soto 42 .237 .280 .400 .298 -0.7 0.0 -0.4 -0.1
Todd Frazier 21 .242 .312 .431 .325 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 700 .282 .400 .485 .382 34.5 -1.3 4.2 5.0
Joey Votto is projected for the third-best offense in baseball, and he’s had better years with the glove than he did last year, so betting on a bit of a bounce back in that department makes him the second-best first baseman in the game. Talking to him last week, he said that the knees feel better a couple years removed from double meniscus surgery, and he’s not yet definitively into the post-30 phase. He’s working hard to improve once again this offseason — more on this later — and he was already so good. If he needs a day off, it’s probably glove man Jack Hannahan either playing first or pushing Todd Frazier to first. If he takes a longer break, maybe Neftali Soto gets a look. He’s already 25 and a couple years removed from his breakout season, his patience doesn’t seem to be an asset and his defense might not be either, but he did once hit 30 homers in Double-A, so there’s something interesting about him.

#3 Diamondbacks
Paul Goldschmidt 665 .278 .369 .512 .378 28.2 0.3 4.6 4.5
Mark Trumbo 21 .261 .315 .497 .349 0.4 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Eric Chavez 14 .260 .316 .427 .321 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .277 .367 .510 .376 28.6 0.3 4.4 4.5
There were some questions about Paul Goldschmidt coming up in the minors. Would the right-hander hit right-handers enough? Would he strike out too much? Would his power translate? By not only being good enough in his rookie year, and then improving in all three of these categories in his subsequent years, the Arizona first baseman seems to have answered those questions by now. At 26, he’s the first pre-peaker, too, so if anything, he could move up the list, which is a scary thought. And having Mark Trumbo available as a backup makes this a pretty nice situation — they have some glove-first outfield replacements that would help them stay above water as a team even if Goldschmidt grabs a hammy.

#4 Dodgers
Adrian Gonzalez 658 .287 .347 .468 .350 20.0 -2.7 9.4 3.7
Scott Van Slyke 28 .245 .325 .411 .324 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.1
Justin Turner 14 .258 .310 .363 .298 -0.1 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .285 .345 .464 .348 20.2 -2.7 9.2 3.8
32-year-old Adrian Gonzalez has long combined good glove with plus contact and good power to be among the game’s best at the position, so it’s no surprise to see him here. Perhaps the projected power and defensive bounce backs are a bit much for you, that would be fine, but it’s hard to argue with his ability to stay on the field. Despite a shoulder injury in the meantime, he hasn’t gone to the plate fewer than 631 times since 2006. It looks like Scott Van Slyke is making the Dodgers as his backup and an extra outfielder — independent of the health of Matt Kemp or Carl Crawford — and he’s got some decent upside, particularly if he faces lefties most of the time. The righty is patient, powerful, and has good glove. The question is ho much contact he’ll make.

#5 Orioles
Chris Davis 595 .267 .340 .536 .373 23.4 -0.5 -0.5 3.4
Steve Pearce 56 .248 .333 .408 .326 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1
Cord Phelps 49 .240 .304 .365 .297 -1.0 -0.1 0.4 0.0
Total 700 .264 .337 .514 .364 22.6 -0.6 -0.1 3.5
Chris Davis had a great year, and nobody can take that away from him. But when it comes to projection systems, the numbers have to take into account the other 1600 or so plate appearances of his career. In those PA, he didn’t walk half as much as he did last year, and his power was more outstanding than Hall of Fame level. A little bit of regression still makes him a good player, and more time at first instead of the outfield should help his defensive value. Behind him, Steve Pearce can slide over from the outfield should the need arise (he has experience at the position), but he hasn’t had much success against right-handers (66 wRC+ against them so far). Perhaps Cord Phelps would come up and help in a platoon if Davis suffers an injury.

#6 White Sox
Jose Abreu 574 .271 .359 .514 .379 24.5 -1.2 -1.4 3.3
Paul Konerko 126 .261 .333 .408 .326 0.2 -0.8 -0.7 0.1
Total 700 .269 .354 .494 .369 24.7 -2.0 -2.1 3.4
The White Sox have two known entities on their way out and an unknown entity on his way in. Given that the team is most likely looking to build — if quickly, given the window Chris Sale’s amazing contract might provide — the projection for Paul Konerko might be a little aggressive in plate appearance terms. After all, he’s on a one-year deal that seems to be his swan song. Adam Dunn could play here, too, so they are set with backups. Now we get to see how Jose Abreu’s numbers — best in Cuban history — will translate to the big leagues. It’s not an easy thing to do, projecting Jose Abreu.

#7 Braves
Freddie Freeman 560 .286 .365 .483 .367 22.7 -0.8 0.9 3.2
Evan Gattis 70 .252 .302 .464 .330 0.8 -0.1 -0.5 0.1
Chris Johnson 70 .275 .318 .420 .321 0.3 -0.1 -1.2 0.0
Total 700 .281 .354 .474 .359 23.7 -0.9 -0.8 3.3
We can talk about Freddie Freeman’s power ceiling, and wonder about his batting average on balls in play, or we can just get Jeff Sullivan to write about both things for us. But he remains easily projectable. For the last two years, he’s had an isolated slugging percentages of .181 and .196, walk rates of 10.3% and 10.5%, strikeout rates of 19.2% and 20.8%, and line drive rates of 26% and 26.7%. Maybe he is who he is and that’s great. He’s also been fairly healthy, averaging over 620 plate appearances for three years. That means it’s most likely that the Braves won’t have to use their depth much and move Chris Johnson over to first or play Evan Gattis or Ryan Doumit at the position. As you can see, though, they’ve got decent backup options when it comes to bats — it’s the defense that will suffer the most when Freeman sits.

#8 Angels
Albert Pujols 490 .278 .348 .494 .357 17.0 -1.1 3.4 2.9
Kole Calhoun 140 .260 .323 .421 .326 1.5 0.1 -0.6 0.3
Howie Kendrick 35 .277 .318 .412 .319 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.1
Efren Navarro 35 .246 .296 .341 .283 -0.8 0.0 0.2 0.0
Total 700 .273 .339 .467 .345 17.8 -1.1 3.0 3.3
With weighted offense numbers that beat Adrian Gonzalez and positive defensive value, Albert Pujols drops in the ranking due to his projected playing time. It’s important to remember that Pujols is projected for some playing time at designated hitter, too, so these projections aren’t docking him down below 500 PA because he failed to reach 600 for the first time in his career. On the other hand, Pujols is post-peak at 34 years old, and he hasn’t looked especially athletic on the bases this spring, and he does suffer from various ailments that could prove to ail him this year as well. The team is capable of shifting Kole Calhoun to first from time to time to rest Pujols, but if he misses a bit more time, they may consider prospect C.J. Cron. Cron’s plate discipline is fairly Trumboian, but so was his power until last year. If Cron finds the power swing again, he may find himself in the big leagues, spelling the starters in the corner outfield, first base, and at DH. But with management saying that’s an ‘if’ not a ‘when,’ it’s hard to say how much time Cron should be alloted.

#9 Giants
Brandon Belt 560 .268 .352 .444 .347 16.8 -0.3 3.2 2.9
Buster Posey 70 .295 .371 .469 .364 3.0 -0.2 0.6 0.5
Michael Morse 49 .253 .305 .419 .316 0.3 -0.2 -0.9 0.0
Joaquin Arias 21 .254 .282 .344 .273 -0.6 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .269 .348 .441 .345 19.5 -0.7 3.0 3.3
At 26 years old, Belt is right in his peak age range. He’s made a couple adjustments to his swing and his grip over the past two years, and each time his numbers have taken off. The defensive numbers haven’t yet quite matched his apparent impact on the field, and maybe his good walk rate isn’t as appreciated as it should be, but the young man is an above-average producer at a tough position. So far his overall offense has been almost statistically indistinguishable against lefties and righties (121 LHP wRC+ vs 126 RHP), but his team has a great offensive catcher behind the plate that shifts to first against southpaws for the most part. Mike Morse moving over to first is a medium-term solution that fits Morse’s defensive skillset — the better defender in Gregor Blanco can then handle left field again — and Joaquin Arias will take over from Posey in the odd blowout, most likely.

#10 Cubs
Anthony Rizzo 651 .260 .341 .474 .353 15.7 -1.6 8.4 3.3
Mike Olt 49 .219 .300 .380 .301 -0.8 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .257 .338 .468 .350 14.8 -1.6 8.4 3.3
Once you adjust their offense for their home parks, and then take a look at their backup options, you realize quickly how Anthony Rizzo and the Cubs might end up behind Brandon Belt and the Giants despite some superior raw numbers. This is not meant to take away from the young man in Wrigley — his combination of nascent power and above-average walk and strikeout rates bodes really well for his future — but it is to point out that the Cubs, with all their future talent on the horizon, don’t boast a ton of current depth. That should change at some point, as the prospects turn into everyday players and the veterans are pushed into depth roles. But it’s hard to know when exactly that will happen. So for now, it’s Anthony Rizzo and player x — perhaps the patience-and-power former Ranger Olt will shift over from third to help back him up in that role.

#11 Yankees
Mark Teixeira 560 .246 .338 .461 .348 10.9 -1.5 7.5 2.8
Carlos Beltran 70 .274 .336 .481 .352 1.6 -0.2 -0.5 0.2
Kelly Johnson 35 .234 .316 .406 .319 -0.1 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Scott Sizemore 35 .238 .319 .383 .313 -0.3 0.0 -0.3 0.0
Total 700 .248 .336 .457 .345 12.1 -1.7 6.5 3.0
It’s important to remember here that the “fielding” value hasn’t been adjusted for position yet. So, yeah, Mark Teixeira is still a decent defender even as a 34-year-old first baseman. But once his positional value is returned to his overall line, he still won’t offer positive value from defense. And, as bad as last year looked, Teix still takes a walk and hits for power when he’s in there. When he’s not in there? It’ll be time for something new… for Carlos Beltran perhaps. Beltran has never played first, but as a 36-year-old with cranky knees and quickly dropping defensive numbers, maybe he’ll enjoy a break from the outfield. The backup plans behind Beltran are fine in short bursts, but they would also rob flexability from the positions that are bigger question marks for the Yankees. Kelly Johnson, at least, will be needed elsewhere.

#12 Twins
Joe Mauer 518 .296 .383 .426 .354 14.4 -0.4 3.5 2.7
Chris Colabello 105 .250 .314 .420 .323 0.3 -0.1 -0.1 0.2
Chris Parmelee 35 .243 .318 .380 .309 -0.3 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Kennys Vargas 42 .236 .293 .388 .299 -0.6 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .282 .364 .420 .344 13.8 -0.5 3.2 2.9
There’s a non-zero chance that Joe Mauer surpasses this WAR projection based on defensive value. Catching defense can be tough to measure, and Mauer’s 470 or so innings at first base can’t be terribly predictive. As a plus defensive catcher in most estimations, it seems likely even that he’ll be a good defender at first. In any case, we also don’t know how healthy he’ll be at his new position. Seems like a good idea to bake some time at designated hitter in, and to figure he’ll hit the disabled list for something. That’s why Chrises Colabello and Parmelee will have to make contributions at some point. Colabello will always have that 2013 in Rochester, and has overcome some odds, but dude was 29 in Triple-A. Parmelee probably has a little more upside if he can hit for power, so he could change this depth chart the most with this play.

#13 Royals
Eric Hosmer 665 .291 .351 .456 .350 15.1 0.8 -0.7 2.7
Billy Butler 35 .290 .366 .453 .355 0.9 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .291 .351 .455 .351 16.0 0.6 -0.7 2.9
Though Eric Hosmer is pre-peak and owns many standout tools, the overall package is left a bit wanting due to a few oddities in approach. For one, he hits a ton of ground balls and that saps his power potential. And for two, despite being an athletic player with some speed, his base running and defense aren’t quite what you might expect. Because of his age, there’s always the potential he figures certain aspects of his game out, but until he does, the projection systems will lag behind the faithcasting. Billy Butler’s best position is designated hitter, but at least he provides a good fall-back plan if Hosmer has to take a two-week (or longer) break sometime this season.

#14 Rangers
Prince Fielder 525 .283 .384 .502 .381 21.9 -2.4 -4.5 2.5
Mitch Moreland 140 .254 .317 .442 .329 0.2 -0.2 0.2 0.3
Robinson Chirinos 35 .239 .309 .363 .299 -0.8 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .275 .367 .482 .366 21.3 -2.7 -4.4 2.7
Prince Fielder’s new skin-tight approach to his uniform does not obscure the fact that he’s still a heavy player and that heavy players don’t seem to age as well as their more normally-bodied league mates. Perhaps that’s because a lack of speed can erode value with the glove and on the base paths. With Fielder, those were never strengths, though (a shame if just because of his name). Mitch Moreland could man the position if a short-term pain arises, but because of his more inferior work against left-handers so far in his career (74 wRC+), the team might need a platoon caddy for Moreland in the case of a longer absence by their new acquisition at first. Still, Moreland represents decent depth, and can even offer some defensive replacement value, or push Fielder to designated hitter for the odd game. That can help keep a small ache from turning into a 15-day vacation for the veteran.

#15 Blue Jays
Edwin Encarnacion 315 .272 .362 .510 .375 13.2 0.0 -1.3 1.8
Adam Lind 315 .264 .325 .458 .339 4.3 -0.7 -0.6 0.8
Moises Sierra 70 .243 .295 .391 .301 -1.1 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .265 .339 .474 .352 16.4 -0.8 -1.9 2.6
Speaking of injury, we have Edwin Encarnacion here, coming off of wrist surgery in the offseason. After a major change to his swing early in his Toronto career, Encarnacion has paired great power with exceptional contact for a power hitter. He’s been fairly durable over that time frame (no trips to the DL in 2011 or 2012) but he’s also missed time here and there with injuries to different body parts (142-game average since 2011). And, given his defensive range, it’s probably best if he turns in his glove more often than not. Unfortunately, Adam Lind is only marginally better with the glove and has platoon problems of his own. So, if Encarnacion takes a longer trip to the DL, the Blue Jays would need someone to face lefties and play first. Maybe Moises Sierra could do that. He has a little bit of power.

#16 Red Sox
Mike Napoli 490 .244 .343 .466 .353 10.7 -0.6 2.7 2.2
Mike Carp 140 .259 .322 .440 .333 0.9 -0.1 -0.8 0.2
Daniel Nava 70 .263 .347 .395 .330 0.3 -0.1 -0.4 0.1
Total 700 .249 .339 .454 .346 12.0 -0.8 1.4 2.5
Mike Napoli probably won’t see an .367 batting average on balls in play in 2014. And he may see his defense regress from those great heights, even if first base is easier than catching. Given his chronic hip concerns, he’s not a great bet for a ton of playing time. The reason that works for the Red Sox is that he’s really good when he’s in — if on power and patience alone — and also because their backups are palatable. A Mike Carp and Daniel Nava platoon wouldn’t miss too much of a beat should Napoli’s hip act up this coming season. Carp would provide power against right-handers while Nava’s balanced approach would be fine over a short stretch.

#17 Indians
Nick Swisher 490 .248 .342 .419 .336 8.4 -1.0 1.5 1.8
Carlos Santana 154 .254 .367 .444 .355 5.0 -0.4 -0.6 0.7
Jason Giambi 56 .214 .311 .369 .303 -0.5 -0.2 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .246 .345 .420 .337 12.9 -1.7 0.6 2.4
Some of Nick Swisher’s defensive numbers weren’t pretty last year, but most of those came in the outfield, too. Carlos Santana’s slow move from behind the plate might push Swisher to the outfield again, but at least when seen in the prism of first basemen, Swisher’s glove matches his bat: they’re both fine. Not “fine” like when you ask your significant other if you can go to the beer festival on Sunday even though you promised her to take care of the child that day, but more “fine” like when you ask him or her if you can pick up dinner on the way home instead of cooking. Swisher’s athleticism seemed to project a slow decline, and we’re seeing it. He’s still decent, and a healthy shoulder could help him be better than his projection this season. Could Santana be better in the full-time role there? That’s a question for Swisher’s outfield glove to answer, as well as the Indians’ depth pieces in right field. At least with the two of them in the fold, there won’t be too much of a need for Jason Giambi to play the field.

#18 Cardinals
Matt Adams 490 .265 .311 .462 .336 8.8 -0.5 -0.6 1.5
Allen Craig 140 .288 .343 .460 .350 4.1 -0.3 -0.4 0.6
Matt Carpenter 70 .278 .358 .418 .342 1.6 0.0 -0.1 0.3
Total 700 .271 .322 .458 .340 14.6 -0.7 -1.1 2.3
As fun as Matt Adams’ power is to watch, there are some questions about the overall value of his work. He hasn’t ever put up a league-average walk rate in the minor leagues, for example. He strikes out a fair bit. He’s also shown platoon splits, too. And, as Jeff Zimmerman showed in The Hardball Times Annual, he’s an extreme pull hitter that saw his batting average on balls in play fall as teams began to shift him in the second half of the season. All of this adds up to a non-zero chance that Allen Craig sees some time at first base this year — especially considering that the Cardinals’ best prospect is an outfielder and Allen Craig is not the fleetest of foot. It’ll probably be fine, since Adams really hit the tar out of the ball in a half-season sample last year and was supposed to do that, but you have to pencil in Matt Carpenter for a few games of backup ball at first base just in case the season turns out differently than expected for Adams.

#19 Mets
Ike Davis 420 .233 .332 .427 .332 6.9 -0.3 2.0 1.5
Lucas Duda 196 .235 .331 .402 .324 2.0 -0.4 -2.3 0.2
Josh Satin 49 .245 .328 .364 .310 -0.1 -0.1 0.1 0.1
Brandon Allen 35 .218 .295 .383 .298 -0.4 0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 700 .233 .330 .413 .327 8.4 -0.8 -0.1 1.7
Guaranteed double-takes for this ranking, I’m guessing. But instead of focusing on the faults, let’s look at the different things that the tandem at the top of this first base heap do right. Both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda put up plus walk rates on the regular. Maybe Davis has proven his power upside more than Duda, but both can put a charge into the ball. Davis has shown some up and down work with his glove over the past few years, but more often than not, he’s better than average at his position. Should either Duda or Davis make a bit more contact or make good on their power, they could easily better these projected numbers and eliminate the need for much of Josh Satin lesser power or (free) Brandon Allen and his high strikeout rates. This group is below average with a whiff of average, not quite the disasterpiece theater it has sometimes been made out to be.

#20 Padres
Yonder Alonso 560 .273 .341 .408 .327 7.3 -1.1 1.1 1.5
Kyle Blanks 105 .233 .301 .394 .306 -0.4 0.0 -0.4 0.1
Tommy Medica 35 .235 .303 .410 .314 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .265 .333 .406 .324 7.0 -1.1 0.8 1.6
The Cuban sprays the ball to all fields, has good walk and strikeout rates, and has the upside to better his work in the field. Alonso has also been hurt and his power has been inconsistent on the field, so he hasn’t quite made the statistical case for a better projection. It’s probably fair to say that scouts were higher on him than his production in the bigs so far might suggest, and at 27 years old, he’s (maybe) pre-peak. Putting his tools into better on-field results would push this ranking, but there’s also the risk that another injury pushes big Kyle Blanks and his big strikeout rates to the plate more often this year. If both of those things happen and Blanks doesn’t make good on some of the strides he made last year, maybe the team turns to Tommy Medica despite the fact that the non-prospect has been a bit old for his levels, has played in hitter’s parks most recently, and has seen his strikeout rate get worse as he’s ascended. Alonso still has the best upside of the crew.

#21 Rays
James Loney 553 .268 .321 .386 .309 -1.5 -0.7 5.1 1.2
Sean Rodriguez 105 .231 .305 .371 .300 -1.0 0.0 1.0 0.2
Ben Zobrist 42 .262 .352 .416 .338 0.9 0.0 0.4 0.2
Total 700 .262 .321 .385 .309 -1.6 -0.6 6.5 1.6
James Loney is cheap, and with a little platoon help, he can help the Rays get almost league-average production from a position that normally demands high free agent prices. Loney pairs good fielding with a lot of contact and has value above replacement most of the time. So that’s an accomplishment for the team and the player. But it can’t go without notice that Loney often puts up power numbers that would look more at home on the middle infield, and that he’s been worse against southpaws for his career (82 wRC+ vs LHP, 113 vs RHP). That could require some work from backup middle infielder Sean Rodriguez against lefties even when he’s healthy, and maybe occasional help from super utility man extraordinaire Ben Zobrist when he’s not.

#22 Nationals
Adam LaRoche 490 .246 .328 .432 .330 4.9 -1.7 2.7 1.3
Tyler Moore 175 .242 .292 .433 .315 -0.3 -0.1 -0.1 0.2
Ryan Zimmerman 35 .275 .344 .463 .351 0.9 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .246 .320 .434 .327 5.6 -1.7 2.5 1.6
Adam LaRoche used to be good for 25 home runs, an above-average walk rate, and some value-stealing strikeouts every year. But he’s 34 years old now, so it’s no surprise that there’s been some erosion on many fronts over the past two years. Most worrisome, maybe, have been his worsening platoon splits. His swing and stance may not ever have been great against lefties, but he’s been worse than league average against southpaws five out of the last six years. That means work for right-handed 27-year-old Tyler Moore even when LaRoche is going well. Moore has some promising power perhaps, but plate discipline problems make him a worse option for the future. This might be a position in transition for the Nationals — Ryan Zimmerman brought his first-base glove to camp and was told he might get ten starts at the position over the course of the year. His throws to first seem to suggest that this is a good long-term idea.

#23 Athletics
Brandon Moss 490 .240 .316 .456 .335 7.9 -0.9 -2.5 1.3
Nate Freiman 105 .246 .302 .386 .303 -1.0 -0.2 -0.3 0.0
Daric Barton 70 .242 .349 .354 .318 0.2 -0.1 0.9 0.2
Shane Peterson 35 .228 .312 .340 .293 -0.6 0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 700 .241 .317 .430 .327 6.5 -1.1 -1.8 1.5
Brandon Moss changed his approach with the help of Chili Davis. He opened up his front foot and starting selling out to become the power hitter he was always meant to be, not the fourth outfielder with contact and patience his last two teams wanted him to be. And now he’s adjusting again, working on his bunting in case teams continue to shift him so very hard core. It’s really a great story. But with late career power breakouts like his, the statistical projections are going to take a skeptical approach. And the 30-year-old isn’t a great fielder, and he usually sits against lefties on his platoon-heavy team. Freiman’s numbers should be a bit better if adjusted for the fact that he’ll probably only ever see lefties (he hit .304/.352/.453 against them last year), but once again he’s a flawed option. Daric Barton has good glove and patience, but he’s not going to develop the power to make him more relevant. Since he bats left-handed, he’s going to have a harder time making this team when everyone is healthy.

#24 Rockies
Justin Morneau 490 .280 .345 .468 .353 5.5 -1.3 0.8 1.2
Michael Cuddyer 105 .288 .347 .482 .358 1.7 0.0 -1.7 0.1
Ryan Wheeler 35 .273 .315 .415 .318 -0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0
Jordan Pacheco 35 .272 .316 .374 .305 -0.9 0.0 0.0 -0.1
Total 665 .281 .343 .462 .349 5.7 -1.4 -1.0 1.2
Justin Morneau’s weighted on-base average seems to suggest his position should rank about seven spots higher, but once you correct for his home park, it’s a lot less exciting. Then you add in the injury risk — it’s not just concussions, he’s suffered from wrist, neck and back issues over the last three years — and the declining glove, and it makes sense that the projection systems are a little skeptical that he’ll put up average value at first base. Would Michael Cuddyer be a better option? That depends a little on Morneau’s health and production in 2014, but also a little on how the various non-Carlos-Gonzalez outfielders do with their playing time. If Morneau ends up on the shelf, Cuddyer is no spring chicken himself (35 years old), and so the Rockies will eventually find themselves turning to Ryan Wheeler’s poor plate discipline, Jordan Pacheco’s light stick, and probably a bottle of antacid.

#25 Astros
Jesus Guzman 350 .251 .319 .409 .320 0.6 -0.2 -0.1 0.6
Jon Singleton 175 .230 .321 .384 .313 -0.7 0.0 -0.3 0.2
Japhet Amador 70 .250 .301 .411 .312 -0.3 -0.1 -0.1 0.1
Chris Carter 70 .227 .320 .454 .338 1.1 -0.1 -0.3 0.2
Marc Krauss 35 .224 .309 .381 .306 -0.3 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .242 .317 .406 .319 0.4 -0.4 -1.0 1.0
Jesus Guzman is a low-ceiling righty that should probably only face lefties, but with Chris Carter playing elsewhere as the team cycles through possible in-house first basemen, Guzman is the one that might end up with the most playing time of the crew. Since Japhet Amador is older and not really a prospect, maybe he gets the Opening Day nod and the first 150 plate appearances against right-handers at first base. But a family issue kept the big first baseman away from the team for a chunk of spring, and so it might be Marc Krauss getting first crack at proving his contact rate. In any case, Guzman’s going to be the guy that spends all season taking your ballots in the Jon Singleton Waiting Game. What Singleton does with his time (in the mid-season call-up? late-season call-up?) is also a matter of debate, as his strikeout rate hasn’t improved with more seasoning. Chris Carter may eventually take this job, and that’s why he shows up in the bunch.

#26 Mariners
Justin Smoak 525 .236 .325 .406 .323 1.9 -1.9 -0.7 0.8
Logan Morrison 105 .245 .331 .413 .326 0.6 -0.1 -0.4 0.2
Nick Franklin 35 .246 .318 .391 .313 -0.2 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Willie Bloomquist 35 .263 .304 .338 .284 -0.9 -0.1 -0.2 -0.1
Total 700 .239 .324 .403 .321 1.4 -2.0 -1.5 0.9
If it’s really true that Smoak is better against righties (101 career wRC+) than lefties (82), then that’ll make for an awkward platoon with the newcoming lefty Logan Morrison, who has also been better against righties than lefties. Morrison is 26, Smoak is 27, but both have under-shot their expectations. Morrison might have shown better plate discipline, but his power and health have been more inconsistent. Maybe with the power of platoons, these two can outperform their overall batting lines and do better than this projection. It requires some good health not only here, but also in the corner outfield and DH. Given the older guys that are at the other positions, it makes sense that a backup infielder will have to step in and help the crew at first at some point.

#27 Brewers
Juan Francisco 420 .241 .293 .449 .321 0.5 -0.4 -1.4 0.4
Mark Reynolds 210 .227 .329 .457 .344 4.0 -0.3 -1.5 0.5
Lyle Overbay 28 .238 .299 .388 .302 -0.4 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Sean Halton 21 .243 .298 .392 .303 -0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Hunter Morris 21 .242 .286 .425 .309 -0.2 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .237 .304 .447 .326 3.6 -0.8 -3.0 0.9
Juan Francisco’s one tool and left-handedness puts him in the catbird seat for one of the worst first base groups in baseball. He can put a charge into the ball, but he doesn’t add value anywhere else. Mark Reynolds just hit his first homer of the spring, but his right-handedness and power/patience package — as well as his age compared to Lyle Overbay — probably makes him the backup/platoon first baseman most of the year. Lyle Overbay is still in camp, but at 37, and with his recent track record, he probably makes more sense on a contender’s taxi squad if he decides to stay in baseball. There’s a decent chance neither of the veterans makes it out of April, in which case it would be time to give more plate appearances to the recently outrighted Sean Halton or Hunter Morris. Neither of the younger guys really has the upside to be league average at first, most likely, and that’s how you end up with a group like this. Probably fine for a team that’s looking to build, but it doesn’t really look like it will produce a long-term solution without help.

#28 Pirates
Gaby Sanchez 280 .252 .334 .399 .324 2.3 -0.2 1.0 0.7
Andrew Lambo 203 .231 .288 .404 .302 -1.8 0.0 -0.7 0.0
Travis Snider 154 .246 .307 .392 .306 -0.9 -0.2 -0.2 0.1
Chris McGuiness 28 .222 .300 .345 .289 -0.5 0.0 0.2 0.0
Travis Ishikawa 35 .238 .306 .362 .295 -0.5 0.0 0.2 0.0
Total 700 .242 .312 .395 .311 -1.4 -0.4 0.4 0.8
For a team that’s looking to win now, this is one terrible depth chart. Travis Snider is past the pooping or getting off the pottie moment, most likely, but he’ll get another shot at playing time perhaps. Andrew Lambo has some promise (his power has risen in recent years in the minor leagues) but with every step forward, he seems to bring a step backward (his strikeout rates have also jumped). If he beats his projections, maybe he can form a decent platoon with Gaby Sanchez and push this overall number closer to two wins and an average rating. But if he doesn’t, behind them there’s only a Rule 5 acquisition with questionable power and contact skills (Chris McGuinness) and an 30-year-old lefty with a revamped swing looking at one of his final chances. This is why the Ike Davis trade rumors won’t go away.

#29 Phillies
Ryan Howard 490 .238 .312 .446 .324 2.2 -2.8 -4.4 0.1
Darin Ruf 175 .244 .317 .410 .320 0.2 -0.3 -1.2 0.1
Kevin Frandsen 35 .265 .309 .363 .297 -0.6 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .241 .313 .433 .322 1.9 -3.1 -5.6 0.2
This is probably not the projection Ruben Amaro, Jr was hoping out of year three of Howard’s five-year $125 million-dollar extension when he signed the first baseman before his original contract was up. The last few years have seen Howard’s contact rate, platoon splits and power all get worse, and the first two of those were already questionable when he inked that contract. Darin Ruf is an old rookie without a ton of projection, but he’s cheaper and and has some power of his own. At 33 old, a mini-resurgence from Howard isn’t impossible, but it might only be enough for management to find a way to jettison some piece of his contract and move the youngster in. Either way, we’re all hoping that Kevin Frandsen mostly plays at other infield positions despite some of his nicer (small sample) numbers over the past two years.

#30 Marlins
Garrett Jones 420 .244 .306 .426 .319 0.4 -1.1 -2.4 0.2
Greg Dobbs 175 .245 .295 .345 .279 -5.4 -0.3 -1.4 -0.5
Jeff Baker 56 .245 .300 .389 .302 -0.7 -0.1 0.1 0.0
Justin Bour 49 .227 .287 .351 .279 -1.5 0.0 0.0 -0.1
Total 700 .243 .301 .397 .305 -7.2 -1.4 -3.6 -0.4
This list is not great. It could be worse, though. If we listed some of the other players that might get time at first, it would look worse. Ty Wigginton, though, is needed at third base and Jordany Valdespin was headed this way at some point. So this is your list of replacement level first basemen, all in camp on tiny deals, flaws and all. Maybe Garret Jones and Jeff Baker can form a platoon that pushes this WAR total over zero! They both have power and can hit opposite-handed pitchers! That’s something to look forward to! Right?

Nick Franklin as a Shortstop.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I don’t have much insight into the mind of the average baseball fan, but thanks to the chats that we host on this website, I’ve gotten some glimpses into the mind of the average FanGraphs reader. And, it seems to me, the average FanGraphs reader at present is wondering about two questions:

(1) Why is literally every single pitcher in baseball literally dying?
(2) Who the heck is finally going to trade for Nick Franklin?

Franklin has taken over the chat section, and for every Franklin question or comment we accept, I’d say we reject another five. Franklin’s is an unusual and compelling situation: he’s a young player, fairly highly rated, who’s all but certain to be moved because there’s nowhere for him to play. Young players aren’t often such obvious trade bait, and everyone wants to know if their team can get a new young player in a deal.

Now, this isn’t going to speculate about potential destinations. There are several potential destinations, given the number of teams that would like to acquire a cheap bat with years of control. But there’s a big flashing question regarding Franklin’s trade value: is he, or is he not, a shortstop? See, if Franklin’s a shortstop, he’d be worth more than if he were just a second baseman for the years ahead. The Mets have been scouting Franklin to see about his defense. Presumably, they’re not alone. If Franklin’s a shortstop, he’s more appealing to more teams.

And on Franklin as a shortstop, plenty of people have opinions. The goal here is to figure out what Franklin is. It’s not like he has a long big-league track record of playing the position. He’s been there for just under 21 innings. So, what we can’t do is just point to the numbers, but what we can do is try to consider all of the evidence that we do have. What are the numbers and what are the thoughts? Might we be able to establish some sort of range?

Let’s start blending. And we’ll begin with the more flattering evaluations. Here’s John Sickels from last May, when Franklin was promoted to Seattle:

All told, as a shortstop I would describe him as “adequate, has a chance to improve, workable if he hits enough.” On the other hand, I have no doubts at all about his ability to be an above-average, even excellent, gloveman at second base.

The evaluation there seems to be that Franklin is maybe a 0 shortstop, but more likely something along the lines of a -5 shortstop. Perhaps -10 — I don’t know what Sickels means by “adequate”. Let’s say somewhere between -10 and 0.

How about Keith Law? Asked whether he thinks Franklin can play short:

I actually do. Maybe somewhere between 0 to -5 runs a year on defense, but with his bat, that will work – and I won’t rule out the possibility that he can be more than that. He has unusually good instincts out there.

Law spells out the range, and hints at potential improvement down the road. “Unusually good instincts” is the best comment you’re going to read about Franklin’s defense in this post.

Now Marc Hulet, from before last season:

Franklin is reliable at shortstop, fielding everything hit to him, and has good actions but both his range and arm are fringe-average for the position. Second base would probably be his best position but Dustin Ackley is far more secure in his job than Ryan.

Hulet describes Franklin as something kind of like a Jhonny Peralta. Again, Franklin seems no better than league average, and likely a little below.

Baseball Prospectus, also last May upon Franklin’s promotion:

He is limited at shortstop, offering only modest range and an arm that earns below-average to fringe-average grades. He has decent hands and solid instincts but they are not enough to make him a palatable defender on the left side of the infield long term. If he is shifted to second base permanently, a position he has played extensively in the minor leagues, Franklin could be an average defender with an average arm for the position.

There’s a little more praise of Franklin’s instincts, but this evaluation would seem to describe Franklin as more of a -10 shortstop or so. Maybe -5 right now with decline on the way. Describing him as maybe an average defensive second baseman establishes a low ceiling for ability at short.

Do we have anything else? There is a little bit. Our own Dave Cameron has described Franklin in the recent past as not a shortstop. Through my own conversations I’ve heard expressed skepticism that Franklin is even a second baseman. Last year, in more than 800 innings, Franklin was at -7 as a second baseman by UZR, but he was at 0 by DRS. He emerged with a very low Fan Scouting Report rating. The Mariners themselves liked Franklin as a shortstop less than Brad Miller, and it seems they still think that way, despite reports that Franklin and Miller continue to compete in camp for the starting job.

But! Franklin says he played with some injuries last year. Tangotiger has demonstrated in the past that shortstops, on average, improve a little in the field until an early-career defensive peak. Franklin’s only 23 years old. And for the record, it’s not like Franklin is incapable of making a difficult play as a shortstop in the bigs. This play he made against Kole Calhoun is a play many shortstops would’ve had trouble with:

It’s interesting how much Franklin looks like Derek Jeter in that clip. Jeter, for a very long time, has been a below-average defensive shortstop. The Yankees haven’t exactly struggled to win on a consistent basis because of it. Jeter’s been good enough to play the position, and he’s offset the defense with his hitting, which is the expectation for Franklin, as well.

Putting everything together, I don’t see any reason to believe Franklin is above-average at short, right now. He might be best described as somewhere between -15 and -5, or maybe -10 and 0. If you believe in early-career defensive improvement, and if you put stock in Franklin’s offseason workouts with Barry Larkin, you might prefer the latter description. Really, we’re just talking about a handful of runs. Franklin would be expected to peak soon, and then he’d start to decline, and it wouldn’t take much of a decline to turn him into a defensive mess. So even if he’s a shortstop today, he’s probably not a shortstop further down the road.

That’s the best evaluation I can come up with. Could Franklin be a shortstop on a winning team? Shin-Soo Choo was a center fielder on a winning team. Anything’s possible. Franklin would probably end up more comfortable at second, and while he’s most familiar with short, the same goes for most players who get drafted there and end up changing to go somewhere else. If a team trades for Nick Franklin and sticks him at short, he could probably stay there without being a catastrophe for a few seasons. But he’s unlikely to be a long-term solution at the position, however important that might be. Trade for Franklin as a shortstop and you could still use some shortstop security.

The big question’s been about Nick Franklin’s defense. Seems to me the big question ought to be about Nick Franklin’s offense. He’s demonstrated that he can walk, and he’s demonstrated that he can probably hit about 15 dingers a season. To what extent are strikeouts going to remain a part of his game going forward? He struck out almost a third of the time down the stretch as a rookie. In his first exposure to Triple-A, he struck out 23% of the time. In his second exposure to Triple-A, he cut that rate in half. It’s the bat that’s going to determine whether Franklin’s a regular, and his being special depends on whether he makes more contact now that he’s gained considerable experience.

One way or another, Nick Franklin, for the next several seasons, ought to be a middle infielder. Whether he’s a good one will probably have more to do with his bat than with his glove. One question is whether Franklin’s a major-league shortstop. A more important question is whether Franklin’s a major-league regular.

How the Best, Most Disciplined Hitting Prospects Have Fared.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Last week in these electronic pages — for reasons that remain opaque even to the author himself — I plumbed the depths of the 2005 edition of Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook with a view towards identifying how players distinguished for possessing certain tools (hitting for average, hitting for power, etc.) have eventually fared after graduating to the majors (or, alternatively, not graduating to the majors, from lack of opportunity/talent).

The precise method and relevant data for that small exercise are available here. The results are relatively easy to summarize, however: prospects noted within their respective organizations for their ability to hit for average and control the strike zone fared well, on the whole; prospects noted for power, footspeed, and athleticism fared markedly less well.

The table below illustrates that point further. It provides the median-level career production for each group of 30 prospects (one for each organization in 2005) corresponding to the relevant tool.
Tool PA BB% K% HRC% wRC+ WAR
ATH 401 5.5% 27.7% 1.0% 72 0.0
AVG 3092 8.5% 16.9% 3.3% 96 5.4
DIS 2128 8.6% 18.5% 2.7% 93 3.3
POW 414 7.9% 24.4% 3.7% 82 -0.1
RUN 54 3.9% 25.0% 0.0% 30 -0.5
The reader will note that, while the best-hitting and most-disciplined prospects have recorded nearly average park-adjusted hitting lines and positive WAR figures, this isn’t the case for players from the other three groups. As also noted in that post from last week, prospects from the first two groups have both graduated to the majors at a higher rate and also recorded more career marks of 5.0 WAR or higher up to the present.

Merely one season’s worth of prospects isn’t enough to render such a study exhaustive, of course. A more enterprising author than myself would certainly endeavor to collect a larger sample of data before moving on to further considerations. The present, less enterprising author, however — largely owing to his Considerable Sloth — has no interest at the moment in endeavoring to do such a thing.

A question which did present some interest, however, in the wake of that post last week concerns the future performance of prospects who were recognized as possessing both the best hit tool and best plate discipline within their respective organization. If prospects who possess one or the other were reliably able to produce competent numbers (the reasoning went), then prospects recognized for possessing both tools would likely produce even better numbers.

With a view towards addressing that question, then, what I proceeded to do was find the career numbers of all such players as had been named both their organization’s best and also most disciplined hitter by the editors of Baseball America between 2005 and -09.

Before we consider that data, I’ll note once again that there are a number of caveats that ought to be made regarding this exercise. For one: BA’s Best Tool lists represent a distillation of opinions from scouts and other industry contacts. Educated opinions, of course, but opinions nonetheless. Accordingly, there’s a lack of absolute precision. For two: talent isn’t now, and wasn’t 10 years ago, distributed evenly among all 30 organizations. The best-hitting prospect in one organization might be the fifth-best in another. The value of the Best Tool designations, for our purposes here, is that they function as a proxy for more sophisticated data that isn’t available publicly.

A table featuring the best-hitting and most disciplined prospects from 2005 to -09 is presented below. Of the 29 prospects who met the aforementioned criteria, 27 (93%) of them have recorded at least one major-league plate appearances. Of those, 12 (41%) have recorded at least 5.0 WAR over the course of their respective career — comparable rates to the hitting and discipline groups from 2005 on their own. HRC% denotes home runs on contact (that is, home runs per ball batted into fair play). WAR550 denotes WAR for every 550 plate appearances of a player’s career. Because we’re concerned with tools related exclusively to hitting, players are sorted by career wRC+ to date (as opposed to WAR, which includes defensive considerations, obviously).
Name PA BB% K% HRC% BABIP wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR WAR550
Joey Votto 3790 14.9% 18.5% 6.2% .359 156 -11.4 240.1 -44.1 33.0 4.8
Andrew McCutchen 3171 11.4% 16.7% 4.5% .332 139 17.9 161.2 -2.5 27.2 4.7
Billy Butler 4208 9.2% 14.3% 3.7% .327 120 -37.0 62.2 -108.8 9.8 1.3
Jason Heyward 2170 11.4% 20.6% 4.9% .303 119 10.6 60.1 28.1 16.5 4.2
Dustin Pedroia 4548 9.3% 8.9% 2.7% .314 119 3.8 105.7 75.6 34.4 4.2
Curtis Granderson 5044 10.2% 23.1% 6.4% .305 118 27.6 136.4 22.3 33.2 3.6
Alex Gordon 3753 9.4% 20.8% 3.9% .321 110 14.2 55.6 12.7 20.1 2.9
Yonder Alonso 1121 9.3% 16.0% 2.4% .319 108 -6.2 4.2 -16.5 2.4 1.2
Chris Snelling 273 12.5% 21.6% 3.9% .300 107 -2.9 -0.5 -6.9 0.2 0.4
Jason Kubel 3707 9.1% 20.9% 5.4% .302 107 -14.5 17.6 -113.7 2.7 0.4
Gaby Sanchez 1981 10.2% 15.6% 3.7% .283 106 0.2 13.6 -23.9 5.5 1.5
Daric Barton 2021 14.1% 16.5% 2.1% .293 105 2.5 14.4 -8.2 7.6 2.1
Matt Murton 1058 8.8% 14.1% 3.6% .312 101 1.7 3.4 16.3 5.4 2.8
Scott Sizemore 598 11.4% 25.8% 3.7% .311 98 0.5 -1.0 -7.1 1.2 1.1
Conor Jackson 2485 10.1% 11.7% 2.7% .290 98 2.6 -3.7 -45.8 3.3 0.7
Matt Wieters 2610 8.7% 18.4% 4.6% .283 96 -16.2 -27.2 77.9 14.4 3.0
Jeremy Hermida 2261 9.6% 22.9% 4.3% .314 96 -9.4 -18.6 -38.6 1.8 0.4
Chris Coghlan 1582 8.5% 16.8% 1.8% .317 96 2.3 -4.8 -33.5 1.1 0.4
Michael Aubrey 145 6.9% 10.3% 5.0% .254 96 -1.0 -1.8 -2.5 0.1 0.4
Casey Kotchman 3412 7.8% 9.9% 2.5% .271 93 -25.1 -54.9 -31.9 2.7 0.4
Michael Bourn 3941 8.5% 20.6% 1.0% .342 92 53.4 14.9 66.5 21.7 3.0
Steve Pearce 847 9.4% 20.1% 2.8% .283 87 0.9 -12.1 -13.5 0.2 0.1
Jeremy Reed 1376 7.3% 14.2% 1.1% .289 78 0.1 -36.8 10.4 2.0 0.8
Trevor Crowe 894 6.7% 17.9% 0.6% .292 69 3.6 -29.4 -5.5 -0.5 -0.3
Chris Getz 1546 7.1% 10.9% 0.2% .283 67 11.1 -48.8 9.3 1.2 0.4
Jordan Brown 109 4.6% 10.1% 0.0% .250 56 0.6 -5.0 -0.8 -0.2 -1.0
Nick Noonan 111 5.4% 21.6% 0.0% .284 35 0.6 -7.6 1.7 -0.3 -1.5
Average 2176 9.3% 17.0% 3.1% .301 99 1.1 23.6 -6.8 9.1 2.3
Here’s a second a table — in this case, comparing the median performances of the prospects from 2005 recognized for hitting (AVG 2005) and discipline (DIS 2005) to the median performances from this second group of prospects, the ones from between 2005 and -09 recognized for possessing the best of both tools within their respective organizations.
Tool PA* BB% K% HRC% wRC+ WAR* WAR550
AVG 2005 3092 8.5% 16.9% 3.3% 96 5.4 1.2
DIS 2005 2128 8.6% 18.5% 2.7% 93 3.3 0.8
BOTH 05-09 1981 9.2% 17.9% 2.8% 98 2.7 0.8
*Prospects from 2005 to -09 have had fewer years to accrue career totals, naturally. Their totals are understandably lower than those which belong to the prospects from 2005 alone.

Some observations and half-conclusions:

As the final table above illustrates, the prospects recognized both for their hitting and discipline from 2005 to -09 have so far produced a slightly higher — although, not substantially so — park-adjusted batting line than the prospects from 2005 considered in last week’s post who were recognized (in most cases) for just one or the other tool. Recognition for both tools, in other words, doesn’t appear to greatly amplify a hitter’s future major-league production. In either case, however, this appears to be a population of competent future hitters, on the whole.
To that last point: of the 29 prospects considered in this particular study, over half (15) have produced a park-adjusted batting line within 10% (on either side) of major-league average. Rephrased: a prospect recognized for demonstrating both the best hit tool and best plate discipline in his organization has, more often than not, become something very much like a major-league hitter.
The two players of the 29 matching the relevant criteria not to have recorded a major-league plate appearance are former San Francisco outfield prospect Eddy Martinez-Esteve (2006) and Houston middle-infield prospect Jonny Ash (2008). Martinez-Esteve played affiliated ball through 2011 and has spent the last two seasons in the independent Atlantic League. Ash, somewhat curiously, was out of affiliated ball only a season after being named the Astros’ best and most disciplined hitter. One possible explanation for that: as a member of the club ranked 29th in terms of organizational talent, Ash’s “best tools” were probably less impressive than those belonging to more talented organizations overall.
As noted above, the players featured on the table here are sorted by wRC+, on account of how the tools being considered relate exclusively to hitting. “What,” the author wondered, “what if one were to reduce the list further — in this case to include only those players who were recognized for possessing their respective organizations best hit tool, best plate discipline, and then also best defensive skills, as well, at either catcher, the infield, or the outfield, such as the case may be?” In fact, using that more refined criteria one finds a small collection of excellent players: Michael Bourn, Andrew McCutchen, Dustin Pedroia, Matt Wieters. That group has averaged 3.7 WAR per every 550 plate appearances over their respective (and all still very active) major-league careers.
Of note regarding that last point: in fact, three players are designated in the 2014 Prospect Handbook as possessing their organization’s best hit tool, best discipline, and best defensive skills at the relevant position. That brief list: shortstop Francisco Lindor (Cleveland), shortstop J.P. Crawford (Philadelphia), and shortstop Jace Peterson (San Diego).

The Most Interesting AL Contender: Boston Red Sox.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Over the next couple of weeks, let’s take a look at some of the most interesting teams in baseball – one contender and one rebuilder from each league. What makes a team “interesting”? Taking advantage of the extreme nature of its ballpark, for a couple of clubs. Bucking some of the game’s most prevalent current trends and having success, for another. Or almost completely breaking from every pattern displayed in a club’s fairly successful recent past. To kick it off, let’s look at our AL contender, the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox, who a little more than a year and a half ago, were considered by most to be the single most underachieving team in the game.

As August 25, 2012, ended, the Boston Red Sox were 60-67, in 4th place in the AL East, 13.5 games out of first. This was the ill-fated Bobby Valentine year, that followed the fried chicken and beer in the clubhouse season. The Sox had missed the playoffs in spectacular fashion on the last day of that season in 2011, after a calendar year full of transactions that enthralled just about every pundit and prognosticator – you know, like the Philadelphia Eagles “Dream Team” of a couple years back. They had landed Adrian Gonzalez in late 2010, and extended him for seven years and $154M the next season. They had also signed Carl Crawford for seven years and $142M during the 2010-11 offseason. As the 2012 season slipped away, the heady days of 2004 and 2007 seemed long gone, as the Gonzalez-Crawford centered club was headed nowhere, and had seemingly very limited financial flexibility.

Enter the Los Angeles Dodgers, freshly buoyed by an aggressive new ownership group apparently unencumbered by any semblance of financial restraint. The Sox sent Gonzalez, Crawford and Josh Beckett (along with Nick Punto) to L.A., along with the over one quarter billion dollars they were owed. If the deal was simply those three players in exchange for the associated salary relief, it would have favored the Red Sox. However, the Sox were also able to acquire two significant pitching prospects, RHPs Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, in the five-player package they received in return.

The bottom fell out of the remainder of the Sox’ 2012 season, as they lost 26 of their last 35 games after the trade to finish 69-93, buried in last place. The club now had the financial flexibility, however, to enter the 2012-13 offseason and build around their still considerable core moving forward.


The Red Sox avoided the temptation to invest in a single big-name star, instead spreading the wealth to an eclectic group of veterans, among them 1B Mike Napoli, SS Stephen Drew, LF Jonny Gomes, RF Shane Victorino and RHP Koji Uehara. They also added 1B Mike Carp in a waiver deal after he was removed from the Mariners’ 40-man roster. Obviously, in retrospect these appear to be spectacular moves, as most of these guys were bearded and delirious at the end of last season. Why this group, however? Let’s take a step back and examine some of the nuances of the Red Sox’ home, Fenway Park. Its’ unique configuration yields some unusual park factors, especially on fly balls.

COL 0.335 0.829 0.256 0.617 176.4
BOS 0.342 0.858 0.273 0.707 151.1
SD 0.282 0.744 0.254 0.614 136.7
MIL 0.305 0.806 0.275 0.698 129.3
BAL 0.314 0.870 0.292 0.759 124.9
NYY 0.270 0.736 0.264 0.658 116.5
MIN 0.285 0.725 0.264 0.672 116.3
NYM 0.272 0.686 0.260 0.631 114.7
CWS 0.269 0.751 0.270 0.672 114.3
CIN 0.280 0.790 0.279 0.735 109.6
CUB 0.284 0.770 0.279 0.729 108.2
TEX 0.271 0.713 0.270 0.694 103.7
LAD 0.259 0.657 0.260 0.642 102.7
DET 0.286 0.731 0.281 0.726 102.3
HOU 0.310 0.877 0.313 0.873 99.8
TOR 0.294 0.844 0.304 0.829 99.8
TB 0.284 0.753 0.291 0.768 95.9
OAK 0.251 0.666 0.264 0.685 92.9
CLE 0.294 0.792 0.303 0.828 92.4
PHL 0.319 0.859 0.322 0.913 91.9
WAS 0.273 0.698 0.287 0.745 88.8
LAA 0.292 0.771 0.307 0.854 84.9
AZ 0.284 0.745 0.302 0.833 83.2
ATL 0.303 0.768 0.326 0.902 77.7
STL 0.249 0.620 0.278 0.719 76.5
MIA 0.243 0.569 0.269 0.669 76.1
PIT 0.261 0.641 0.286 0.757 76.1
SF 0.261 0.626 0.283 0.744 76.0
SEA 0.283 0.757 0.323 0.913 71.8
KC 0.254 0.615 0.291 0.755 70.0
MLB 0.284 0.743 0.284 0.743 100.0
The above table list my fly ball park factors for all 30 major league ballparks — based on my own calculations and information available from my time in a front office — from most to least hitter-friendly. The first two columns indicate the actual AVG and SLG generated on fly balls, while the next two indicate what the AVG and SLG “should have been” if balls hit at the actual mix of speeds and angles would have resulted into singles, doubles, triples and homers at major league average rates. The fifth column, the park factor, reflects the run value inflation or deflation caused by the difference between the two. As you see, Fenway inflates run-scoring on fly balls at a rate (151.1) second only to Coors Field.

In arriving at that 151.1 figure, one might inquire as to how Fenway inflates fly ball singles, doubles, triples and homers specifically. Well……1B = 101, 2B = 181, 3B = 128, HR = 104. Since the raw number of actual and projected triples is relatively low, the run value inflation is by far most attributable to the inflation of fly ball doubles.

Let’s also look at this another way, and break down Fenway’s fly ball park factor by outfield sector:

LF = 205.4 LCF = 179.1 CF = 200.2 RCF = 89.5 RF = 81.7 OVERALL = 151.1

We are now beginning to localize and quantify the Fenway fly ball factor – it is largely attributable to fly balls that would be outs almost anywhere else, that instead become doubles off of the high LF, LCF and CF fences. Now, to find some position players who hit more such fly balls than other players do, as well as some pitchers who can minimize such damage. (For the record, Fenway’s line drive and ground ball park factors for 2013 were 95.6 and 98.8, respectively.)

How did the Sox’ position players take advantage of their confines in 2013? Here are some Sox regular and semi-regular personnel from last season and their respective fly ball frequencies, expressed in percentile rank form (99 = maximum, 50 = average, 1 = minimum): Jarrod Saltalamacchia 97, Daniel Nava 96, Will Middlebrooks 79, Carp 78, Gomes 75, Napoli 73, Drew 71, David Ortiz 53. That’s a critical mass of some extreme fly ball hitting right there.

Even the two key 2013 Sox regulars with low fly ball frequencies (Jacoby Ellsbury 27, Dustin Pedroia 25) got some points added to their batting average from the Fenway fly ball factor. Ellsbury actually hit .364 on fly balls compared to a projected .295 based on his hard/soft fly ball rate, while Pedroia batted .248 compared to a projected .210 – for both, the difference was almost entirely attributable to wall-balls that would have been outs almost anywhere else. Let’s take an even closer look at batted-ball production by type for a couple of the 2013 Sox’ complementary players.

FLY 0.429 1.102 223 107
LD 0.735 1.059 136 105
GB 0.271 0.322 141 110
ALL BIP 0.416 0.732 186 120
ALL PA 0.287 0.353 0.505 139 96
— — — — — —
FLY 0.324 0.972 154 88
LD 0.667 0.844 100 93
GB 0.386 0.404 258 168
ALL BIP 0.339 0.586 122 88
ALL PA 0.244 0.334 0.421 111 86
The above table shows batted-ball production by type for Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes. The “REL PRD” column shows the run value of their actual production relative to league average for each batted-ball type, scaled to 100. The “ADJ PRD” column adjusts for ballpark, luck, etc., to give a better insight to the player’s true talent level. The next to last row indicates actual production on all balls in play, and the K’s and BB’s are added back to the last row, which measures overall performance. SH and SF are included as outs, and HBP are not included in OBP for purposes of this exercise.

As you can see, Carp and Gomes’ 2013 performances were primarily driven by inflated production on fly balls. Carp’s .429 AVG and 1.102 SLG on fly balls “should have been” only .289-.774, and Gomes’ actual .324-.972 “should have been” only .274-.683. Instead of productive part-timers, both Carp and Gomes should have been near replacement-level performers, with ADJ PRD figures of 96 and 86, respectively, with little to no defensive value, if the balls they had hit would have been converted into outs at MLB average rates for their speed and angle off of the bat. With Gomes specifically, let’s take a step back and look at the whole picture – a massive K rate (84 percentile rank), an even more massive popup rate (99 percentile rank, highest in baseball), and an extreme pull profile, even in the air. In most parks, this is a recipe for the end of a career – in Fenway, it’s the profile of a solid complementary piece.

Napoli and Drew’s offensive contributions were also upsized by Fenway – note Napoli’s nine doubles as a Ranger in 2012 compared to his total of 38 in 2013. The Red Sox also recognized the need for a second center fielder to patrol their spacious RF area when they signed Victorino, and identified the relief stud within when they signed Uehara and his outlandish combination of K, BB and popup rates. Their 2013 roster construction work was done, and they accomplished their goals while retaining significant financial flexibility, thanks both to the short-term nature of their newer financial commitments, as well as the Pedroia Factor.


Dustin Pedroia has eight years and $109M left on his contract. Robinson Cano has 10 years and $240M left on his. Cano is the best second baseman in baseball – but he’s not $131M in guaranteed money better, or even close to that. Pedroia too is helped by Fenway, though not nearly as much as most of his teammates. He outperforms his generally solid but unspectacular batted ball profile annually by minimizing his K’s, maximizing his BB’s, and outperforming his hard/soft groundball rates, often on sheer will and hustle. As much value as Pedroia brings on the field, however, it can be argued that he delivers even more in less tangible ways. When one of your core stars consciously takes a long-term discount in the interest of the big picture – of long-term championship contention – players throughout the game notice, and are often eager to get in on the fun. Many of the Sox Class of 2013 free agent signees left money on the table to come to Boston, and they got one hell of a baseball and life experience as a result. As bad as the clubhouse dynamic might have been at the 2012 low point, it was that good and better in 2013.

Ryan Dempster, one of the Sox’ few personnel misfires of the 2012-13 offseason, had $13.25M coming to him in 2014 if he just showed up and went through the motions, even if he wound up spending the entire season on the DL. Instead, he stepped back from the game for a combination of physical and family reasons, forfeited his salary, and even mentioned the best interests of the club in his statement. Might he have done the same if he pitched for another club? Perhaps – but while his actions speak most loudly about the character of Dempster, they also speak to the high regard in which he held the organization. What did the Red Sox do with the savings resulting from this decision?


You always hear about clubs being right up against their budget number, especially late in the offseason. Well, if most clubs were to suddenly receive $13M in salary relief, they would be inclined to race out and address immediate needs, including those created by the player whose self-removal created the relief. Not this version of the Red Sox. Though their projected 2014 rotation is solid (Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jake Peavy, John Lackey, Felix Doubront), the Sox know as well as anyone that your original five generally isn’t enough to get you through the season. They even more logically could have used the funds to bring back Stephen Drew, one of the perfect Fenway fly ball fits of 2013.

They chose not to, however, instead signing Chris Capuano out of the bargain bin for rotation insurance, and entrusting the shortstop position to rookie phenom Xander Bogaerts. Beyond this, they resisted the temptation to make a big-ticket move to replace the departed Jacoby Ellsbury, instead entrusting the center field position to another talented youngster, Jackie Bradley, Jr., with reclamation project Grady Sizemore brought in as insurance on a make-good deal that offers little risk and potentially sizeable reward. Behind Capuano in the rotation pecking order stand the two prospects obtained in “the trade”, Webster and De La Rosa, along with high-end prospects Henry Owens and Matt Barnes. Catching depth, a sore spot in almost all organizations, is plentiful, with Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart not too far away, and the recently untouchable Ryan Lavarnway supposedly available for trade. Yes, the Red Sox, along with the Cardinals, Rangers and possibly the Pirates, are the only clubs in the game who currently boast well above average major and minor league talent, with no signs of an imminent downturn on either front. Most contenders pushed all of their chips toward the center over the winter, but the Sox held many in reserve, both in the form of dollars and prospects, retaining maximum flexibility to enhance their club on the fly.

Everything went right for the Boston Red Sox last season, and there are no guarantees for a repeat performance in 2014. Luck is the residue of design, however, and this organization currently is very well designed. The major league club is talented throughout, with young talent sprinkled around a core of proven but ever-motivated veterans. The club fits their ballpark impeccably, and most of its members appear to be proud to wear the uniform. When the inevitable roadblocks present themselves after the season begins, their combination of minor league strength and financial power and flexibility should still give them the ability to be squarely in the conversation for the AL pennant. They aren’t going away anytime soon.
post #20324 of 73446
Shut that Chapman liner hit vid real quick mean.gif . Prayers are with him to be back in a few weeks.
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New York Yankees | New York Jets
post #20325 of 73446
I believe he is out 6-8 weeks.
post #20326 of 73446

Whats going on with Jason Heyward? Just caught the Braves/Mets game and he was still wearing that special helmet that protects his jaw. Figured that injury would be healed by now. Or is it just a comfort thing for him?


And since we can't go months without hearing about A-Rod, he's back in the news. According to Heyman, he hasn't paid his lawyers. 



Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
When Alex Rodriguez was lambasting baseball's powers and his own bosses with theYankees --suing his Yankees doctor, criticizing beloved late union chief Michael Weiner in court papers and at one point reportedly even leaking damaging information about Ryan Braun and teammate Francisco Cervelli --folks around baseball were speculating that A-Rod's only remaining friends may be his own lawyers.
Now even some of them presumably don't like him much.
A-Rod has refused to pay a large part of his legal bill, sources said, confirming a report in the New York Daily News.
Those sources estimate that he has refused to pay about $3 million out of an estimated $5 million or more in legal fees. Those sources further say he has refused to even return phone calls on the matter, making it clear he has no interest in paying.
Beyond the fact that $3 million is a pittance to him -- he is said to have a lot of money keft, plus $61 million more to come from the Yankees -- if he tries claiming malpractice, his lawyer-client privilege will be waived, with the possibility of damaging testimony becoming public. Perhaps at this point A-Rod believes his rep is so bad that he can't be harmed, and he only has his money left.
This conjures up a sorry image, a once great Miami man cuddled up with only cash in one of a beautiful seaside abode.
Whatever you think of A-Rod's case, or even the outcome that saw him suspended for the 2014 season by the MLB arbitrator, his lawyers did get his original suspension reduced from 211 games, meaning they saved him about $6 million.
Unfortunately for him, most of that money should have gone to the lawyers. But sources suggest A-Rod has tried to keep most of it for himself.
Sad to say, this is par for the course for the man who looked at one like an heir apparent to both Cal Ripken and Hank Aaron for shortstop and home run greatness but now will be recalled almost exclusively for his misdeeds. He will forever be known as the guy who was the most egregious steroid cheat among all the cheats, long after the "loosey-goosey" days of Texas, as he called them. He is a guy who clearly warranted his unprecedented suspension.
But more than that, he's also the guy who won't take responsibility. His attempt at a comeback with the Yankees, who still owe him $61 million for years 2015-17, may depend on him finally owning up to his transgressions, something he seems loathe to do.
Not only won't he own up, he won't pay up.
For A-Rod to get back on the field as a Yankee, he may have to finally admit and apologize for what he did, or at least the cheating part of the story. (The lying goes without saying.) He will probably have to drop his lawsuit against team doctor Chris Ahmad, of course, and stop blaming Ahmad and everyone else for what he has wrought.
Rodriguez was the one who took the "Boli," who cavorted with convicted HGH peddler Anthony Galea and who was Tony Bosch's best steroid customer, before Bosch brought him down. He was the one who lied on 60 Minutes to Katie Couric and elsewhere. He was the one who not only refused to take the stand in his own arbitration hearing but stormed out of the hearing with unkind words for MLB COO Rob Manfred, who headed the successful Biogenesis investigation.
A-Rod, once famous for looking lovingly into a mirror on a magazine cover, badly needs to really understand what looking into a mirror means. He has to get the fact his predicament isn't the fault of Ahmad, Weiner, Manfred, Cervelli, Braun, Bosch, Randy Levine or anyone else. He is the one who did it to himself.
It's a Greek tragedy really. He held the promise to be an alltime great, with baseball ability seen once in a generation, to charm us forever. Instead, he fooled us for a while, but no longer.
Rodriguez could be charming, and for a time seemed to be best friends with Derek Jeter. That lasted until A-Rod inexplicably diminished Jeter's vast abilities in a famous 2001 Esquirearticle in which he said Jeter never had to lead and wasn't the guy you feared in the Yankee lineup. Rodriguez drove to Jeter's house, offering a teary-eyed explanation, but never really won Jeter's trust back.
Now everyone has caught on. A-Rod is a man who can't be trusted.
A-Rod's been behaving badly for years, though of course it'll be tough to top him blaming Weiner, the extraordinary many who helped overturn Braun's first suspension and guided A-Rod throughout his own mess, at a time Weiner was dying of cancer.
On A-Rod's hit parade of bad acts, the criticism of Weiner is the winner for worst. But leaking the involvement of Braun and even teammate Cervelli in Biogenesis, as 60 Minutes reported, is a distant second.
Compared to those two bad acts, though, the non-payment of legal bills is small potatoes. But it's just another piece of the sorry story of a man born with many skills but without a trace of integrity.
A-Rod lawyers Joseph Tacopina and David Cornwell didn't return calls regarding the matter of non-payment of bills. Tacopina denied that A-Rod was in arrears in the Daily News story, saying, "I have absolutely no fee dispute with Alex." Cornwell, who along with Weiner successfully got Ryan Braun's original 50-game suspension overturned by the previous MLB arbitrator, wasn't quoted in the News story.
A-Rod was represented in the case at different times by Tacopina, Reed Smith, Cornwell of Gordon and Rees, baseball lawyer Jay Reisinger, noted Miami defense attorney Roy Black and Washington lawyers Jim Sharpe and Lanny Davis, plus investigators.
A-Rod p.r. man Ron Berkowitz didn't return messages, either.
What is there to say, really?
post #20327 of 73446
Chapman. tired.gif
post #20328 of 73446

Goddamn man he had no time to react to that. Hope he bounces back quick. 




post #20329 of 73446

hope he bounces back and can pitch the same....

post #20330 of 73446

post #20331 of 73446

A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

post #20332 of 73446



Here's to a speedy recovery for Chapman.

post #20333 of 73446
“@markasaxon: Rough start to this series for the D'backs. They lost 5-0 to Team Australia last night and they got a flat tire today and had to walk 5 blks”
post #20334 of 73446
I am very tempted to stay up and watch Dodgers-DBacks.
A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

post #20335 of 73446
I'm going to DVR it laugh.gif
post #20336 of 73446
It's a joke the season is starting at 3 am central time in a foreign country.
post #20337 of 73446
Didn't Oakland start the regular season in japan and flew back to finish the preseason a few years ago?
post #20338 of 73446
I think so. That sounds familiar, at least.
A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

post #20339 of 73446
Yea I believe it was 2012! I remember seeing Cespedes 1st MLB HR in Japan laugh.gif
post #20340 of 73446
A rain delay....Great.
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