Miguel Cabrera

2011 Projection Review: First basemen

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What follows is a review of some of my 2011 projections for Rotoworld.com. I’m highlighting my preseason top five for each position and some other notables.

If you missed the catchers last week, click here. I hope to bang the rest of these out a lot more quickly.

First Basemen

Preseason Top 5

Albert Pujols – Cardinals – $41 – #1
Projection: .322/.435/.609, 40 HR, 112 R, 119 RBI, 11 SB in 562 AB
2011 stats: .299/.366/.541, 37 HR, 105 R, 99 RBI, 9 SB in 579 AB

That Pujols barely missed out on another .300 season got some attention, but it was his OBP that really tumbled. His previous low mark was a .394 back in 2002, and he had finished at .414 or better every year since. Pujols walked just 61 times this year after coming in over 100 each of the previous three years. As a result, he actually had more at-bats than my projection called for despite missing 15 games.

Miguel Cabrera – Tigers – $36 – #2
Projection: .315/.400/.586, 39 HR, 103 R, 117 RBI, 3 SB in 577 AB
2011 stats: .344/.448/.586, 30 HR, 111 R, 105 RBI, 2 SB in 572 AB

Cabrera’s remarkable season resulted in a mere 105 RBI because the Tigers got OBPs of .311, .329 and .317 from the top three spots in the order. It certainly wasn’t Cabrera’s fault: he hit .388 and slugged .673 with RISP.

Adrian Gonzalez – Red Sox – $31 – #3
Projection: .308/.394/.550, 35 HR, 104 R, 116 RBI, 0 SB in 607 AB
2011 stats: .338/.410/.548, 27 HR, 108 R, 117 RBI, 1 SB in 630 AB

Gonzalez’s shoulder problems sapped him of some power as the year went on, but he had an incredible season anyway. Plus, even though his swing was supposed to be tailor-made for Fenway Park, 17 of his 27 homers and 26 of his 45 doubles came on the road.

Joey Votto – Reds – $30 – #4
Projection: .296/.400/.545, 32 HR, 100 R, 103 RBI, 12 SB in 558 AB
2011 stats: .309/.416/.531, 29 HR, 101 R, 103 RBI, 8 SB in 599 AB

One of these years I’ll stop underestimating Votto’s ability to hit for average. Of course, Votto didn’t get a whole lot of help this season. He had to hit .339 with runners on and .383 with RISP just to get to 103 RBI.

Mark Teixeira – Yankees – $29 – #5
Projection: .289/.391/.545, 37 HR, 105 R, 118 RBI, 1 SB in 589 AB
2011 stats: .248/.341/.494, 39 HR, 90 R, 111 RBI, 4 SB in 589 AB

I’d be more optimistic about Teixeira going forward if it was some sort of lengthy slump that produced the poor average. However, the fact is that he was the same hitter all year long. He had a .264 average in his best month of 2011. He has some work to do on his swing this winter if he wants to get back to hitting more singles and doubles.

Others

Lance Berkman – Cardinals – $8 – #22
Projection: .271/.387/.442, 15 HR, 69 R, 75 RBI, 5 SB in 439 AB
2011 stats: .301/.412/.547, 31 HR, 90 R, 94 RBI, 2 SB in 488 AB

I’m not completely stunned that Berkman reemerged as one of the NL’s top hitters this year, but I never thought he’d manage to play in 145 games as an outfielder.

Adam Dunn – White Sox – $22 – #8
Projection: .247/.357/.516, 40 HR, 94 R, 111 RBI, 1 SB in 562 AB
2011 stats: .159/.292/.277, 11 HR, 36 R, 42 RBI, 0 SB in 415 AB

I believe this was my biggest OPS miss since Javy Lopez posted his crazy .328/.378/.687 season with the Braves in 2003.

Prince Fielder – Brewers – $27 – #6
Projection: .281/.400/.548, 39 HR, 94 R, 118 RBI, 2 SB in 566 AB
2011 stats: .299/.415/.566, 38 HR, 95 R, 120 RBI, 1 SB in 569 AB

Freddie Freeman – Braves – $4 – #29
Projection: .267/.329/.418, 13 HR, 54 R, 57 RBI, 3 SB in 479 AB
2011 stats: .282/.346/.448, 21 HR, 67 R, 76 RBI, 4 SB in 571 AB

I was down on Freeman in part because the Braves started off hitting him eighth. Fortunately for his owners, that lasted a mere 10 games. He ended up batting fifth more than anywhere else.

Ryan Howard – Phillies – $26 – #7
Projection: .272/.357/.528, 39 HR, 92 R, 120 RBI, 2 SB in 585 AB
2011 stats: .253/.346/.488, 33 HR, 81 R, 116 RBI, 1 SB in 557 AB

Howard bounced back a bit in the RBI department, but he posted a career-low OPS for the second straight season. He hit 105 homers in his first two full seasons, 93 the next two years and just 64 the last two.

Paul Konerko – White Sox – $14 – #13
Projection: .266/.352/.473, 29 HR, 76 R, 94 RBI, 0 SB in 545 AB
2011 stats: .300/.388/.518, 31 HR, 69 R, 105 RBI, 1 SB in 543 AB

Konerko had the best season of his career at age 34 in 2010 and now the second best at age 35. These kinds of things can happen without steroids, apparently.

David Ortiz – Red Sox – $13 – DH #3
Projection: .261/.358/.500, 27 HR, 78 R, 94 RBI, 0 SB in 490 AB
2011 stats: .309/.398/.554, 29 HR, 84 R, 96 RBI, 1 SB in 525 AB

Ortiz bouncing back to hit .309 definitely qualifies as one of the most surprising stats of the season. He came in at .264, .238 and .270 the previous three years, and the .270 season in 2010 came in spite of a career-high strikeout rate.

Carlos Pena – Cubs – $11 – #20
Projection: .231/.365/.480, 31 HR, 73 R, 88 RBI, 2 SB in 471 AB
2011 stats: .225/.357/.462, 28 HR, 72 R, 80 RBI, 2 SB in 493 AB

Gaby Sanchez – Marlins – $12 – #17
Projection: .276/.349/.442, 19 HR, 73 R, 86 RBI, 4 SB in 561 AB
2011 stats: .266/.352/.427, 19 HR, 72 R, 78 RBI, 3 SB in 572 AB

Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

Mariano Rivera
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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

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It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.

Yovani Gallardo and the Orioles are both “optimistic” about a deal

Yovani Gallardo
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Multiple reports Wednesday had the Orioles and free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo deep in negotiations on a multi-year deal. Nothing has been finalized yet, but Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com says “both sides appear to be pretty optimistic still.”

Ghiroli adds that the “ball is in the Orioles’ court,” although that may simply reveal her likely source to be Gallardo’s agent. Whatever the case, Baltimore is apparently now willing to forfeit their first-round draft pick to sign Galllardo and he may lead to a domino effect in which they also forfeit a second-round draft pick to sign outfielder Dexter Fowler.

The idea being that if you’re going to cough up the 14th overall pick to sign a mid-level free agent with spring training right around the corner you might as well cough up a lower draft pick to sign a second one. Gallardo has shown signs of decline, including a big dip in strikeout rate, but he logged 184 innings with a 3.42 ERA for the Rangers last season.