2012 OPS projections: top 10 center fielders

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It’s an AL East-heavy top 10 in the center field projections:

.903 – Matt Kemp (Dodgers) – 597 AB – .986 in 2011
.847 – Curtis Granderson (Yankees) – 574 AB – .916 in 2011
.845 – Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox) – 612 AB – .928 in 2011
.845 – Andrew McCutchen (Pirates) – 560 AB – .820 in 2011
.825 – Colby Rasmus (Blue Jays) – 525 AB – .688 in 2011
.808 – Adam Jones (Orioles) – 571 AB – .785 in 2011
.794 – B.J. Upton (Rays) – 572 AB – .759 in 2011
.790 – Chris Young (D-backs) – 545 AB – .751 in 2011
.787 – Grady Sizemore (Indians) – 471 AB – .706 in 2011
.780 – Shane Victorino (Phillies) – 541 AB –  .847 in 2011

– All five AL East teams are represented in the top seven here. I’m guessing people will have reservations about me placing Rasmus so high, but he did come in at .859 in 2010 and he’s in a better environment for offense now. Of course, I’m not applying much weight to the fact that he was terrible after being traded to Toronto last year (.173/.201/.316 in 133 at-bats).

– Melky Cabrera and Dexter Fowler cracked the top 10 in 2011, but I don’t see encores coming up. I have Cabrera dropping from .805 to .738 in San Francisco. Fowler’s fall isn’t quite so severe;  I have him at .755, down from .795 last year. I’m not sure he can continue to maintain a .260-.270 average as often as he strikes out.

– The low man among regular center fielders is Houston’s Jordan Schafer at .680. Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez checks in at .653 in 335 at-bats.

Matthew Stafford audibles with “Kershaw! Kershaw!”

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Last night the Detroit Lions played the New York Giants. During the game Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford called an audible. The call itself referenced Stafford’s childhood friend and high school baseball teammate, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. From the Freep:

Matthew Stafford stepped to the line of scrimmage late in the third quarter and surveyed the Giants defense.

With five pass rushers across the front and three Giants cornerbacks showing a press-man look, Stafford looked at his two receivers to the left and invoked the name of his childhood friend, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

“Give me Kershaw here, Kershaw,” Stafford said, repeating his friend’s name two more times as he spun around at the line of scrimmage.

The audible did not result in a pick-4 to Aaron Altherr. It called for a run up the middle. And it worked nicely, gaining eight yards.

You may suggest the results of other starting pitcher-themed audibles in the comments. I’ll start: “Harvey! Harvey!” is where the QB fakes a handoff, drops back, looks deep and then his arm falls completely off. Damndest thing.

Matt Harvey has a 13.19 ERA since coming back from the disabled list

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Matt Harvey‘s season was mostly a loss due to extended time on the disabled list. He’s been given a chance, however, to end the season strong and make a case for himself in the Mets’ future plans. Unfortunately, he has been unable to make that case. He was shelled again last night, and his late season opportunity has been a disaster.

Last night Harvey gave up seven runs on 12 hits and struck out only two batters in four innings against a Marlins team that, until facing him anyway, had been reeling. It was his fourth start since going on the shelf in mid-June and in those four starts he’s allowed 21 runs, all earned, on 32 hits in 14.2 innings, for an ERA of 13.19. In that time he’s struck out only eight batters while walking seven. His average fastball velocity, while ticking up slightly in each of his past four starts, is still below 95. Back when he was an ace he was consistently above that. His command has been terrible.

Injury is clearly the culprit. He had Tommy John surgery just as he was reaching his maximum level of dominance in 2013. While he came back strong in 2015, he was used pretty heavily for a guy with a brand new ligament. Last year he was felled by thoracic outlet syndrome and this year a stress injury to his shoulder. Any one of those ailments have ended pitchers’ careers and even among those who bounce back from them, many are diminished. To go through all three and remain dominant is practically unheard of.

Yet this is where Matt Harvey is. He’s 28. He’s still arbitration eligible, for a team that is, to put it politely, sensitive to large financial outlays. While his 4-5 start opportunity to end the year may very well have been seen as a chance to shop Harvey to another team, his trade value is at an all-time low. It would not be shocking if, on the basis of his recent ineffectiveness, the Mets considered non-tendering him this offseason, making him a free agent.

Someone would probably take a chance on him because famous names who once showed tremendous promise are often given multiple chances in the big leagues (See, Willis, Dontrelle). But at the moment, there is nothing in Harvey’s game to suggest that he is capable of taking advantage of such a chance. All one can hope is that an offseason of rest and conditioning will allow Harvey to reclaim at least a portion of his old form.