Robinson Cano, Al Alburquerque, Tony Randazzo, Alex Avila

2011 Projection Review: Second 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.

Catchers
First basemen

Second Basemen

Preseason Top 5

Robinson Cano – Yankees – $32 – #1
Projection: .313/.368/.518, 28 HR, 96 R, 113 RBI, 4 SB in 620 AB
2011 stats: .302/.349/.533, 28 HR, 104 R, 118 RBI, 8 SB in 623 AB

It was a little disappointing that Cano went from a 77/57 K/BB ratio in 2010 to a 96/38 K/BB ratio this year, but it certainly didn’t stop him from putting up outstanding numbers. Now that he’s the Yankees’ No. 3 hitter, he could crack 650 at-bats next year and finish with 30+ homers and 110+ runs scored.

Ian Kinsler – Rangers – $27 – #2
Projection: .283/.363/.478, 23 HR, 99 R, 73 RBI, 25 SB in 558 AB
2011 stats: .255/.355/.477, 32 HR, 121 R, 77 RBI, 30 SB in 620 AB

I wonder if Kinsler will ever put it together and have a truly monstrous year. He hit .319 in 121 games in 2008 and .286 in 103 games in 2010, but he’s finished in the .250s in his two healthiest seasons. Maybe the .320 was a fluke, but there’s no reason he can’t hit .290-.300 given his very modest strikeout rate.

Dustin Pedroia – Red Sox – $26 – #3
Projection: .300/.372/.463, 17 HR, 110 R, 75 RBI, 15 SB in 613 AB
2011 stats: .307/.387/.474, 21 HR, 102 R, 91 RBI, 26 SB in 635 AB

Since they’ll probably want to give Carl Crawford a chance to bat second, the Red Sox should just go ahead and make Pedroia their full-time cleanup hitter next year. He’s hit .397/.439/.678 with 28 RBI in 31 games in that spot.

Brandon Phillips – Reds – $25 – #4
Projection: .280/.335/.446, 20 HR, 90 R, 81 RBI, 22 SB in 599 AB
2011 stats: .300/.353/.457, 18 HR, 94 R, 92 RBI, 14 SB in 610 AB

Phillips turned in his best offensive season since 2007, but since the Reds as a whole were a disappointment, it didn’t result in 100 runs or RBI.

Dan Uggla – Braves – $21 – #5
Projection: .257/.351/.488, 32 HR, 92 R, 95 RBI, 3 SB in 553 AB
2011 stats: .233/.311/.453, 36 HR, 88 R, 82 RBI, 1 SB in 600 AB

Uggla simply took too long to get going. He hit .185 in the first half and .296 after the break.

Others

Dustin Ackley – Mariners – $3 – #28
Projection: .259/.334/.406, 7 HR, 46 R, 39 RBI, 8 SB in 340 AB
2011 stats: .273/.348/.417, 6 HR, 39 R, 36 RBI, 6 SB in 333 AB

It’s always nice to get a rookie pretty much right. The pathetic thing here is that Ackley had such mediocre run and RBI numbers even though he hit third in 71 of his 87 starts.

Gordon Beckham – White Sox – $15 – #12
Projection: .272/.344/.440, 18 HR, 86 R, 72 RBI, 10 SB in 577 AB
2011 stats: .230/.296/.337, 10 HR, 60 R, 44 RBI, 5 SB in 499 AB

I don’t know what to do with Beckham now. It doesn’t sound like he’ll be getting a change of scenery this winter, but maybe the switch from Ozzie Guillen to Robin Ventura in the dugout will serve the same function. I still believe the ability is there, but two years of such obvious regression at ages 23 and 24 is extremely discouraging.

Maicer Izturis – Angels – $4 – #25
Projection: .271/.337/.382, 5 HR, 53 R, 39 RBI, 11 SB in 343 AB
2011 stats: .276/.334/.388, 5 HR, 51 R, 38 RBI, 9 SB in 449 AB

Perfect projections just aren’t easy to come by. This one looks flat-out awesome until one notices the at-bats. Of course, if I had projected Izturis for 450 at-bats, then I also would have given him seven homers, 70 runs scored and 50 RBI.

Kelly Johnson – Diamondbacks/Blue Jays – $18 – #9
Projection: .275/.356/.478, 22 HR, 89 R, 74 RBI, 11 SB in 559 AB
2011 stats: .222/.304/.413, 21 HR, 75 R, 58 RBI, 16 SB in 545 AB

The Aaron Hill-Johnson swap came too late for either to salvage the season, but Johnson did hit .270/.364/.417 in 115 at-bats after the deal.

Howie Kendrick – Angels – $18 – #7
Projection: .304/.344/.442, 11 HR, 75 R, 74 RBI, 17 SB in 565 AB
2011 stats: .285/.338/.464, 18 HR, 86 R, 63 RBI, 14 SB in 537 AB

Kendrick finally turned in a really good season in his sixth year in the bigs, but it wasn’t the kind of campaign I thought it’d be. I figured the breakthrough would come in average, not power.

Chase Utley – Phillies – $19 – #6
Projection: .281/.389/.480, 19 HR, 77 R, 67 RBI, 10 SB in 427 AB
2011 stats: .259/.344/.425, 11 HR, 54 R, 44 RBI, 14 SB in 398 AB

Neil Walker – Pirates – $12 – #16
Projection: .278/.330/.434, 16 HR, 78 R, 76 RBI, 5 SB in 572 AB
2011 stats: .273/.334/.408, 12 HR, 76 R, 83 RBI, 9 SB in 596 AB

Rickie Weeks – Brewers – $17 – #10
Projection: .260/.360/.446, 22 HR, 91 R, 63 RBI, 16 SB in 534 AB
2011 stats: .269/.350/.468, 20 HR, 77 R, 49 RBI, 9 SB in 453 AB

I don’t imagine that Weeks will stay in the middle of the order following Prince Fielder’s likely departure this winter. Even with all of his power, he makes a lot more sense as a leadoff man, particularly since it gets him an extra at-bat every other game.

Ben Zobrist – Rays – $14 – #14
Projection: .251/.353/.399, 15 HR, 87 R, 64 RBI, 22 SB in 562 AB
2011 stats: .269/.353/.469, 20 HR, 99 R, 91 RBI, 19 SB in 588 AB

Zobrist rebounded a lot further than I thought he would after going from hitting .297/.405/.543 in 2009 to .238/.346/.353 in 2010.

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.

Mets unhappy with Dodgers’ request to make outfield markings to position fielders

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  The 1986 New York Mets are honored before the game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on May 28, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The New York Mets are honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1986 championship season.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Mets have asked MLB for clarification on the Dodgers’ use of a laser rangefinder for defensive positioning over this weekend’s series at Citi Field. The Dodgers notified the Mets’ ground crew that they wanted to mark certain positions in the outfield grass after determining positions with the rangefinder. The grounds crew said they could leave two marks in center field and one in left field.

However, the grounds crew then went to their superiors and told them that the Dodgers threatened to dig holes in the outfield grass with their cleats, so the grounds crew was then instructed to “erase or obliterate” any of the Dodgers’ markings.

According to Rosenthal, Major League Baseball reinforced a few weeks ago that teams aren’t allowed to use markers to aid defensive positioning. The Dodgers haven’t been accused of doing anything nefarious during a game. Howie Kendrick was seen pulling something out of his pocket in the outfield, but Brett Anderson clarified on Twitter that it was just a piece of paper with notes for defensive positioning.

The series between the Mets and Dodgers has been heated, as Noah Syndergaard was ejected for throwing at Chase Utley on Saturday. Utley then responded by hitting two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. The Mets may have a legitimate concern, or it may just be gamesmanship.