Moving right along to shortstop. I have four shortstops projected to top .800, which is the same number that did so last year.
.943 – Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies) – 545 AB – .916 in 2011
.891 – Hanley Ramirez (Marlins) – 538 AB – .712 in 2011
.823 – Jose Reyes (Marlins) – 546 AB – .877 in 2011
.808 – Starlin Castro (Cubs) – 631 AB – .773 in 2011
.783 – Asdrubal Cabrera (Indians) – 594 AB – .792 in 2011
.776 – Stephen Drew (Diamondbacks) – 539 AB – .713 in 2011
.775 – Jed Lowrie (Astros) – 468 AB – .685 in 2011
.772 – Yunel Escobar (Blue Jays) – 550 AB – .782 in 2011
.766 – Jhonny Peralta (Tigers) – 539 AB – .824 in 2011
.766 – Alexei Ramirez (White Sox) – 598 AB – .727 in 2011
– Along with Tulo, Reyes and Peralta, J.J. Hardy was the fourth shortstop to manage an .800 OPS last season. He’s 11th here at .765 for 2012.
– I have Elvis Andrus fourth among shortstops with a .364 OBP (and ranked third at the position in fantasy leagues), but his lack of power keeps him out of the top 10 in OPS.
– Derek Jeter comes in at .282/.353/.373. He bounced back to hit .297 last season, but his isolated slugging percentage went from .131 in 2009 to .100 in 2010 to .091 last year.
– At the bottom of the list is the Giants’ Brandon Crawford. He gets a .603 OPS in 432 at-bats. Of course, there are some backups and prospects even lower. Boston’s Jose Iglesias is one: he gets a .225/.258/.270 line in 111 at-bats.
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”