Golden Baseball League stats

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Aaron’s mention of Scott Spiezio signing to play in the Golden Baseball League got me curious, so here’s a look at the stats of the notable and semi-notable players participating in the league this year.
Walter Young – .329/.394/.482, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 15/5 K/BB, 0 SB in 85 AB
Hulking first baseman got a brief look with the Orioles in 2005, hitting .303/.378/.424 in 33 at-bats, but the team was never interested in giving him a real shot when they could go with over-the-hill players like Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Kevin Millar and Jeff Conine. He’s been drifting between indy leagues since 2007.
Kris Honel – 4-4, 4.30 ERA, 36 H, 45/43 K/BB in 46 IP
Honel, the 16th overall pick in the 2001 draft, was regarded as one of baseball’s top pitching prospects before blowing wrecking his arm in 2004. After Tommy John surgery at the end of 2005, he returned with decent stuff and no command in 2007. The numbers suggest that nothing has changed since.
Joey Gomes – .305/.343/.547, 10 HR, 43 RBI, 28/13 K/BB, 2 SB in 190 AB
Jonny’s older brother typically put up solid numbers, but never made it higher than Double-A after the Rays drafted him in the eighth round in 2002.
Jo Matumoto – 4-5, 4.62 ERA, 91 H, 74/25 K/BB in 78 IP
It was something of a big deal when the Jays signed Matumoto, the then 36-year-old ace of Brazil’s national team, in 2007, but mid-3.00 ERAs in both Double- and Triple-A weren’t enough to get him a look during his two years in the organization.
Jose Lima – 5-5, 2.93 ERA, 84 H, 51/10 K/BB in 83 IP
Lima will never see the majors again, but he can still get it done against lesser hitters.
Hideki Irabu – 5-3, 3.58 ERA, 62 H, 66/19 K/BB in 65 1/3 IP
Irabu was using the Golden League as a springboard for a comeback in Japan. He recently returned to his native land, though he’s pitching in a minor league at the moment.
Sergio Pedroza – .330/.443/.583, 14 HR, 60 RBI, 54/44 K/BB, 10 SB in 230 AB
It seems the scouts were right about Pedroza, who tore up A-ball pitching but flopped in Double-A last year. The 2005 third-round pick still has a career OPS of 883 in four minor league seasons, but it appears that he didn’t get any offers he liked after being let go by the Rays after last season.
Josh Karp – 0-1, 19.29 ERA, 20 H, 5/2 K/BB in 7 IP
Karp’s stay was a short one. The sixth overall pick in the 2001 draft hadn’t played in the minors since 2005 before staging his brief comeback.
Alexis Gomez – .340/.419/.698, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 8/8 K/BB, 8 SB in 53 AB
In his last major league action, Gomez hit .272/.318/.388 in 103 at-bats for the Tigers in 2006. He is still a pretty good Triple-A regular, so he’s rather overqualified for the Golden League.
Damian Jackson – .363/.412/.514, 4 HR, 28 RBI, 28/21 K/BB in 212 AB
Jackson’s 11-season major league career came to an end when he hit .198/.295/.371 for the Nationals in 2006. That said, he still might be a better player than most of the shortstops the Royals have trotted out in the three years since.
Robert Fick – .323/.378/.513, 5 HR, 38 RBI, 24/15 K/BB, 0 SB in 158 AB
Like Jackson, Fick is a former Padre playing for Phil Nevin on the Orange County squad. He last played in the majors with the Nationals in 2007.
Jonathan Rouwenhorst – 0-1, 2.13 ERA, 26 H, 23/7 K/BB in 25 1/3 IP
Rouwenhorst possesses one of my favorite deliveries in baseball, but after experiencing a great deal of success at lower levels, he stalled out in Triple-A and failed to reach the majors with the Angels or Braves.
Dustin Yount – .297/.380/.462, 7 HR, 39 RBI, 32/28 K/BB in 212 AB
Robin’s son was the Orioles’ ninth-round pick in 2001. He topped out in Double-A in 2006 and was released after hitting .228/.323/.347 in 167 at-bats at the level.
Emiliano Fruto – 0-2, 3.96 ERA, 22 H, 39/11 K/BB in 25 IP
Maybe the most talented hurler in the league, Fruto had a 4.36 ERA and a 549/299 K/BB ratio in 566 1/3 innings as a major leaguer. Last year, he fanned 102 and walked 59 in 89 innings for Triple-A Tucson. He’s still just 25 now, so odds are that he’ll return to affiliated ball at some point.
Other notables
Manny Ayala – 2-3, 8.23 ERA, 40 H, 12/20 K/BB in 27 1/3 IP
Lorenzo Barcelo – 6-5, 5.13 ERA, 97 H, 75/5 K/BB in 79 IP
Eude Brito – 3-0, 3.48 ERA, 34 H, 22/8 K/BB in 31 IP
Matt Durkin – 8-3, 3.77 ERA, 81 H, 34/46 K/BB in 83 2/3 IP
Bartolome Fortunato – 2-1, 2.63 ERA, 18 H, 33/6 K/BB in 24 IP
Mac Suzuki – 4-3, 5 Sv, 2.35 ERA, 31 H, 59/8 K/BB in 38 1/3 IP
Wayne Franklin – 1-2, 3.38 ERA, 38 H, 21/23 K/BB in 40 IP
Ismael Castro – .316/.330/.449, 4 HR, 34 RBI, 21/5 K/BB, 7 SB in 225 AB
Ben Johnson – .545/.583/1.091, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 3/1 K/BB, 0 SB in 11 AB
Angel Sanchez – .266/.412/.525, 11 HR, 33 RBI, 46/37 K/BB, 3 SB in 177 AB
Juan Senreiso – .284/.386/.403, 3 HR, 23 RBI, 21/20 K/BB, 11 SB in 134 AB
Junior Spivey – .326/.436/.478, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 7/9 K/BB, 0 SB in 46 AB
Ruddy Yan – .362/.438/.402, 0 HR, 30 RBI, 22/28 K/BB, 22 SB in 199 AB

Astros vs. Dodgers is a match made in heaven

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A lot of people who work at the league office or who take paychecks from the Fox network probably wanted to see the Yankees and the Cubs in the World Series. They won’t admit it, of course, but I suspect that many did, as the ratings for a Cubs-Yankees Series might’ve broken modern records. If they are at all disappointed by the Astros and Dodgers winning the pennant, however, they should let that go because they’ve been gifted by a wonderful matchup from a purely baseball perspective. Indeed, it’s one of the best on-paper matchups we’ve had in the Fall Classic in many years.

Before the Dodgers went on their late-August, early-September swoon, this was the potential World Series pairing most folks who know a thing or two wanted to see. At least I did, and I don’t think I was alone. It was certainly the matchup which represented the teams with the two best regular season records and storylines at the time. While Cleveland ended up winning more games than Houston did, for the first time since 1970 we have a World Series pitting two 100-win teams against each other.

Like that Orioles-Reds series in 1970, which featured Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson and a host of other All-Stars, the Dodgers-Astros provide us with an embarrassment of big names and future Hall of Famers. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw and Astros DH/OF Carlos Beltran are destined for induction already. Astros ace Justin Verlander may very well join them, especially if his late 2017 surge is evidence of a second career peak. Houston second baseman Jose Altuve‘s first seven years and Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen‘s first eight are the stuff upon which Cooperstown resumes are made as well. People will be arguing Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley‘s Hall of Fame case for years once he retires.

Youth is served as well in this matchup, with each club featuring a handful of the game’s best young players to accompany their big name veteran stars.

The Dodgers will bat their no-doubt N.L. Rookie of the Year first baseman Cody Bellinger second or third in the lineup every game. 2016 Rookie of the Year Corey Seager, who sat out the NLCS with a bad back, is expected to be activated for the Series where he’ll be the Dodgers shortstop. The Astros are actually an old team on paper — Verlander, catcher Brian McCann, starter Charlie Morton, first baseman Yuli Gurriel, outfielder Josh Reddick and DH Evan Gattis are all over 30 while Beltran is 40 — but young players are essential to their attack as well. Shortstop Carlos Correa just turned 23 and he’s one of the game’s brightest stars. Third baseman Alex Bregman, also 23, made the play that may very well have broken the Yankees’ back during Saturday night’s pennant clincher. Age aside, the Astros are the product of a major, multi-year rebuild and many of their players are making their first national splash this postseason.

Beyond just the names and resumes, though, the Dodgers and Astros represent a fantastic strategic matchup. The Dodgers attack this postseason has featured admirable plate discipline, with third baseman Justin Turner, right fielder Yasiel Puig and center fielder Chris Taylor all letting balls out of the zone pass them by while abusing pitches left out over the plate. Astros pitchers not named Justin Verlander, however, have lived by getting the opposition to chase bad balls. Game one starter Dallas Keuchel did this by relying on his very fast sinker. Lance McCullers pitched well starting Game 4 of the ALCS and pitched spectacularly closing out the final four innings of Game 7 mostly by virtue of his curveball, which Yankees pitchers could simply not lay off. Indeed, his final 24 pitches of Game 7 were all curves, many of them low and away. Who will give in first in this series?

On the side of things, Dodgers relievers have made a living by pumping in strikes. Particularly strikes high in the zone from Jansen and Brandon Morrow. There may be no better fastball hitter in all of baseball than Jose Altuve, however, and the team as a whole was one of the best in the bigs in dealing with gas in the zone. This was a big reason why the Astros struck out less than any team in baseball this year while simultaneously boasting the best offense in the game. The Dodgers throw strikes. The Astros make you pay when you throw them strikes. Again, something’s gotta give.

Maybe the suits in New York wanted the Yankees and Cubs. But everyone else is getting exactly what we want: a matchup of the two best teams in the game. A matchup of strength against strength. What is, from a purely baseball perspective, the best World Series we could’ve possibly hoped for.