Joe Mauer

2012 projections review: catcher

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I’ll be doing some projection reviews over the next couple of weeks, starting with catcher here. Along with running down my preseason top 10 (for fantasy purposes) from each position, I’ll also present a few more that are of interest. Requests of players not listed can be made in the comments.

1. Carlos Santana – Indians
Projection: .273/.382/.485, 25 HR, 85 R, 90 RBI, 4 SB in 524 AB
2012 stats: .252/.365/.420, 18 HR, 72 R, 76 RBI, 3 SB in 507 AB

Turned in a vastly improved second half (.281/.389/.498, 13 HR, 46 RBI) after a bad start.

2. Buster Posey – Giants
Projection: .307/.385/.493, 19 HR, 67 R, 78 RBI, 2 SB in 475 AB
2012 stats: .336/.398/.549, 24 HR, 78 R, 103 RBI, 1 SB in 530 AB

The likely NL MVP. I thought my projection was bold, all things considered.

3. Matt Wieters – Orioles
Projection: .285/.358/.494, 25 HR, 72 R, 81 RBI, 0 SB in 502 AB
2012 stats: .249/.329/.435, 23 HR, 67 R, 83 RBI, 3 SB in 526 AB

I kept looking at his modest strikeout totals and thinking a higher average was on the way. Unfortunately, he fanned 28 more times his year than last.

4. Joe Mauer – Twins
Projection: .317/.406/.444, 9 HR, 81 R, 70 RBI, 1 SB in 480 AB
2012 stats: .319/.416/.446, 10 HR, 81 R, 85 RBI, 8 SB in 545 AB

5. Brian McCann – Braves
Projection: .267/.353/.465, 23 HR, 65 R, 80 RBI, 3 SB in 490 AB
2012 stats: .230/.300/.399, 20 HR, 44 R, 67 RBI, 3 SB in 439 AB

McCann may well have peaked young. Injuries have been a factor, but even before 2012’s big drop off, his OPS fell slightly three straight seasons.

6. Mike Napoli – Rangers
Projection: .267/.358/.509, 24 HR, 66 R, 70 RBI, 3 SB in 401 AB
2012 stats: .227/.343/.469, 24 HR, 53 R, 56 RBI, 1 SB in 352 AB

I should have stuck with my 2011 projection, which called for Napoli to hit .251/.338/.475 with 20 homers and 57 RBI in 362 at-bats. Of course, he was a whole lot better that season.

7. Alex Avila – Tigers
Projection: .276/.358/.449, 16 HR, 63 R, 75 RBI, 2 SB in 468 AB
2012 stats: .243/.352/.384, 9 HR, 42 R, 48 RBI, 2 SB in 367 AB

8. Miguel Montero – Diamondbacks
Projection: .268/.339/.450, 18 HR, 61 R, 70 RBI, 1 SB in 473 AB
2012 stats: .286/.391/.438, 15 HR, 65 R, 88 RBI, 0 SB in 486 AB

Among the things I didn’t see coming this year: Montero finishing third (or fourth, if you want to slot in Joey Votto) in the National League in on-base percentage.

9. Yadier Molina – Cardinals
Projection: .286/.347/.402, 10 HR, 49 R, 60 RBI, 5 SB in 458 AB
2012 stats: .315/.373/.501, 22 HR, 65 R, 76 RBI, 12 SB in 505 AB

Molina added 60 points of OPS to a 2011 total that appeared to be the product of a career year. Unfortunately, the increased power was nowhere to be found in the postseason.

10. Geovany Soto – Cubs/Rangers
Projection: .263/.351/.448, 18 HR, 53 R, 65 RBI, 0 SB in 422 AB
2012 stats: .198/.270/.343, 11 HR, 45 R, 39 RBI, 1 SB in 324 AB

12. Russell Martin – Yankees
Projection: .258/.348/.383, 11 HR, 53 R, 50 RBI, 9 SB in 400 AB
2012 stats: .211/.311/.403, 21 HR, 50 R, 53 RBI, 6 SB in 422 AB

Martin’s isolated slugging percentages by year: .154, .176, .116, .079, .084, .171 and now .192. However, even with the career high in homers, he had just about his worst season for runs and RBI.

18. A.J. Pierzynski – White Sox
Projection: .277/.310/.387, 8 HR, 46 R, 47 RBI, 1 SB in 419 AB
2012 stats: .278/.326/.501, 27 HR, 68 R, 77 RBI, 0 SB in 479 AB

Pierzynski busting out with a 27-homer season at age 35 qualifies as one of the biggest stunners of the year. If it had happened five years ago, people would be crying steroids. His previous career high was 18 homers. He had nine homers in 2010 and eight in 2011.

24. Jonathan Lucroy – Brewers
Projection: .251/.324/.372, 9 HR, 44 R, 46 RBI, 3 SB in 403 AB
2012 stats: .320/.368/.513, 12 HR, 46 R, 58 RBI, 4 SB in 316 AB

With all of the surprising catcher seasons around, I wonder if anyone even noticed Lucroy’s .881 OPS. He struck out 99 times in 430 at-bats in 2011 and 44 times in 316 at-bats this year.

26. Carlos Ruiz – Phillies
Projection: .266/.363/.386, 7 HR, 43 R, 42 RBI, 1 SB in 376 AB
2012 stats: .325/.394/.540, 16 HR, 56 R, 68 RBI, 4 SB in 372 AB

33. Kelly Shoppach – Red Sox/Mets
Projection: .233/.327/.430, 8 HR, 24 R, 26 RBI, 0 SB in 172 AB
2012 stats: .233/.309/.425, 8 HR, 23 R, 27 RBI, 1 SB in 219 AB

Sorry, had to toot my own horn the once before finishing with a couple of ugly ones.

34. A.J. Ellis – Dodgers
Projection: .257/.361/.317, 2 HR, 30 R, 25 RBI, 1 SB in 265 AB
2012 stats: .270/.373/.414, 13 HR, 44 R, 52 RBI, 0 SB in 423 AB

35. Wilin Rosario – Rockies
Projection: .226/.259/.400, 7 HR, 22 R, 24 RBI, 1 SB in 190 AB
2012 stats: .270/.312/.530, 28 HR, 67 R, 71 RBI, 4 SB in 396 AB

Not that Rosario’s power was in doubt, but the .270 average was really encouraging. Also, his 25 walks were more than he had Double-A last year (19 in 405 AB).

Adams homers in 16th to lift Cardinals over Dodgers 4-3

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ST. LOUIS — Matt Adams homered in the 16th inning to lead the Cardinals to a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night for St. Louis’ season-best fifth straight victory.

It was the second consecutive game that the Cardinals won in their final at-bat. They beat the Padres on Thursday after scoring a run in the ninth inning.

Adams homer came with one out off Bud Norris (5-9), who gave up six runs as a starter in an 8-1 loss at Washington on Wednesday.

Seth Maness (1-2) picked up the win with a scoreless inning of relief for St. Louis, which was playing its longest game of the season.

Jedd Gyorko hit a two-out homer off closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth to tie the game 3-3.

Justin Turner and Howie Kendrick homered for the Dodgers. Los Angeles has lost four of six. The red-hot Turner has seven homers and 17 RBI this month. He hit two homers in a 6-3 win over Washington on Thursday.

Turner blasted his career-high 18th homer of the season off Seung Hwan Oh in the ninth to break a 2-2 tie.

Corey Seager had four hits and drove in the first run of the game. He had hit in seven successive at-bats before flying out in the ninth.

Kendrick’s solo shot in the sixth tied the game 2-2. He has hit in 14 successive games trying Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the longest current streak in the majors.

Los Angeles starter Brandon McCarthy allowed one hit and two runs over 6 1-3 innings, the longest of his four starts this season. He left with leg cramps. McCarthy struck out four and walked three.

St. Louis starter Michael Wacha allowed two runs on 10 hits in six innings. He struck out four and walked one.

Dodgers reliever Adam Liberatore recorded his 28th successive scoreless outing by retiring two of four batters in the seventh. He has not allowed a run in 41 of 42 appearances this season.

Minor League Players’ Wage Suit against Major League Baseball suffers a huge setback

The judge's gavel is seen in court room 422 of the New York Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street February 3, 2012. REUTERS/Chip East
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A judge handed minor leaguers looking to hold Major League Baseball liable for underpaying and exploiting them a huge setback today, ruling that the case cannot go forward as a class action. Minor leaguers who want to sue over their pay and treatment still can, but they’ll have to do it individually. The ruling saps the minor leaguers of their leverage, as Major League Baseball would likely be able to fend off individual cases which, by themselves, might only amount to several thousand dollars per claim.

The background: in 2014, former Miami Marlins player Aaron Senne sued Major League Baseball, Bud Selig, and three major league clubs claiming that minor leaguers are underpaid and exploited in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. He was later joined by former Royals minor leaguer Michael Liberto and Giants farmhand Oliver Odle. Eventually others joined and the suit had been expanded to 22 teams as defendants.

The upshot of the case is that, while the minor league season lasts only part of the year, players are required to do all sorts of things outside of merely playing games for which they are not compensated. Training, meetings, appearances and the like. When all of that time is added up, the players claim, their already low salaries are effectively far below minimum wage in violation of the law. Major League Baseball has countered this by claiming that minor leaguers are basically part time seasonal workers — like landscapers and pool boys — who are not subject to federal labor laws.

Last year the judge gave the case conditional certification, allowing the players to try to establish that it should go forward as a class action. This would streamline the case from the plaintiffs’ perspective and give them the power of collective action by asserting hundreds or more similar cases into one proceeding. The judge’s ruling today, however, was that the cases really weren’t factually similar and thus collective action was not appropriate because figuring out how many hours each player worked and what was required of him varied too greatly among the players.

From his order:

“The difficulties associated with determining what activities constitute ‘work’ in the context of winter training are compounded by the fact that there appear to be no official records documenting these activities. Because it may be impossible to determine from official records the types of conditioning activities in which the players engaged, membership in the state classes based on winter training would depend largely upon the players’ ability to remember, with a reasonable amount of detail, what they did during the off-season (often for multiple years and for many, several years in the past) to stay fit.”

The judge said that, in light of this, each case would be unique and would require “individualized inquiries” to find damages and liability. That phrase –“individualized inquiries” — constitutes magic words which sink would-be class actions. If a company overcharges all of its customers by $8 due to an error repeated a million times, it’s easy to look at one set of facts and judge them together. If you had to look at a million different wrongs, that’s no class action. And so it is not a class action for the players.

As many courts who have dealt with these sorts of cases have noted, for many plaintiffs, a class action is the only practical method of adjudicating Fair Labor Standards Act cases because individual plaintiffs are frequently unable to bear the costs of separate trials. They are, by definition, (allegedly) exploited workers. They’re not going to be able to pay legal costs and fight off a multi-billion dollar business in order to collect the few thousand dollars they were underpaid. At the same time, however, the defendants have rights too and, if the facts of each players’ treatment truly differ (e.g. the Yankees make their minor leaguers do more than the Brewers do) it’s not fair to bind one defendant’s defense to the acts of another.

So, where does this leave the players? Not dead. Not yet, at least. Their claims have not been dismissed on the merits. They have only been denied the right to act collectively. The individual plaintiffs can now file separate lawsuits against their former employers and Major League Baseball under the same theories. It would be harder to land a big blow in such a scenario, but if enough do, it could end up being death by a thousand cuts for the clubs and the league. Their legal fees might go up and, eventually, if they lose enough of these cases, more might be filed. There are a lot of former minor leaguers, after all, and once there’s some blood in the water, more of them — and their lawyers — may enter the frenzy. Decertification is certainly a win for the league right now, but it’s not necessarily a permanent win.

There are likewise some other quasi-collective forms this case could take such as multi-district litigation in which the cases, while individual, are coordinated in a loose fashion. That could lead to some efficiencies for suing players even if it’s not as robust as a class action.

We’ve written quite a bit about minor league pay and treatment in this space by now, so you probably know where we stand on it. We believe that minor leaguers are exploited and underpaid and we believe that Major League Baseball has been happy to exploit and underpay them for some time. Ultimately we believe that this state of affairs cannot and will not persist and that eventually, somehow, baseball will either see fit to pay its workers fairly or, more likely, will be forced to do so by a court or by collective bargaining of some fashion.

Today, however, was a big setback for the minor leaguers. Today’s ruling will give Major League Baseball and its clubs more time and more comfort in which to underpay them. There’s no doubt about it.