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

Indians’ postseason rotation is still up in the air

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 16: Starting pitcher Corey Kluber #28 of the Cleveland Indians pitches during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field on September 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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With Game 1 of the Red Sox-Indians ALDS set to commence on Thursday, there’s no better starter for the job than Corey Kluber. The only question is whether or not the right-hander will be up to the task after sustaining a mild quadriceps strain earlier this week.

Indians’ manager Terry Francona appeared optimistic about Kluber’s chances of recovering in time for the Division Series, but admitted that he doesn’t have his rotation set in stone for the first couple of postseason games. Complicating matters is Monday’s potential make-up game between the Indians and the Tigers, which they’ll be forced to play if the outcome has bearing on playoff seeding.

Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Francona doesn’t have a starter for the make-up game, either, though he clarified that rehabbing right-hander Danny Salazar would not be eligible. Salazar is still working his way back from a forearm injury in hopes of joining the Indians for their postseason run, and needs to toss another simulated game before he can be expected to return to the mound. Kluber, meanwhile, will throw off the mound on Sunday.

With Kluber or Salazar limping out of the gate, the Indians will likely have to fall back on right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Bauer is slated for Saturday’s face-off against the Royals and confirmed his willingness to pitch on short rest through the playoffs. The 25-year-old also spoke to the Indians about his ability to pitch out of the bullpen, though it’s an option they appear unlikely to exercise. While Francona’s comments on Friday stressed the club’s patient approach toward their rotation, Bauer appeared revved and ready to go:

If it was up to me, […] I’d pitch and be ready to start or be available out of the ‘pen every game. In the playoffs, there’s really no reason to save anything. So, whenever I can get in there, whenever they want me to get in there, I’ll be ready.

Matt Holliday wants to return in 2017

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 30: Manager Mike Matheny #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals congratulates Matt Holliday #7 of the St. Louis Cardinals after he hit a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on September 30, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Matt Holliday might not have a landing spot with the Cardinals in 2017, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to hang his cleats up just yet. Prior to the Cardinals’ afternoon set against the Pirates on Saturday, the 36-year-old expressed his desire to further his career elsewhere, even if staying in St. Louis is not a possibility.

It’s been a down year for the outfielder, who batted .242/.318/.450 through 107 games before landing on the disabled list with a fractured right thumb. His 0.6 fWAR is the lowest mark of his career to date. Notwithstanding two injury-riddled seasons (he was sidelined through most of 2015 with a right quadriceps strain), he’s performed admirably for the Cardinals over the past eight years, putting up a .292/.379/.494 batting line, 156 home runs, and 26.8 fWAR with the club. With a return to full health, he might not be on the market for long.