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).

Are the current Collective Bargaining Agreement talks too friendly?

Scott Boras
Associated Press
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Baseball’s current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1. There have been comments from both commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA director Tony Clark suggesting that progress was being made and there has been no suggestion thus far that there are sticking points which could lead to a work stoppage. Heck, even a few acrimonious rounds of negotiation before it’s all said and done seem unlikely.

That’s good news for fans, but it’s not making certain agents happy. Smooth labor sailing likely means a new CBA that is pretty close in most terms to the current CBA. Agents — especially agents who represent veterans — don’t like that because they believe that the current rules regarding free agency, draft pick compensation, luxury taxes and qualifying offers penalize the players they represent. Today Ken Rosenthal has a story about that anger, talking to both anonymous agents and super agent Scott Boras about how baseball’s middle class is disappearing and baseball’s median salary goes lower and lower.

Major League Baseball counters that while the median salary is going down, the average salary is going up. And baseball is right about that. But it’s also the case that the average is propped up by a handful of superstar contracts while the somewhat less lucrative but still nice mid-level contracts for mid-level veterans are disappearing. The financial landscape of the game is morphing into one with a small upper class with nine-figure contracts and a large lower class of pre-arbitration players and veterans on shorter, smaller deals, squeezing the old veteran middle class out of existence.

Sound familiar?

Baseball, of course, is not the American economy. There are some good reasons why those mid-level contracts have gone away. Specifically, because they tended not to be very good deals for the teams who signed them. At the same time, baseball is far better able to tweak its rules to spread the wealth than the U.S. government can, and those rules — like the qualifying offer and luxury tax — have had a harsh impact on a lot of players.

There’s not a clear answer on what the best system is for free agents, draft pick compensation, draft bonus pools and the like actually is. I tend to favor the fewest restrictions on a player’s right to negotiate freely with teams, but I’ll also acknowledge that there is a less than perfect market at play in baseball given revenue disparities between teams and the need to maximize, within reason, competitive balance. It’s not an easy trick even before you get into the B.S. team owners tend to spew about pocketbook matters.

But it’s also the case that an all-too-friendly relationship between the union and the league — one in which a given set of rules is rubberstamped from CBA to CBA — is not an ideal situation. No one wants acrimony, but the fact is that the players and the union are slicing up a pie. If the person you’re slicing up a pie with is all-too-happy to keep slicing it the same way, it probably means that they’re getting a bigger piece than you. Maybe, if it’s your job to grab a bigger piece?

The agents Rosenthal talked to, who represent a good chunk of MLBPA membership, certainly think the union should be doing some more grabbing. I wonder if their clients do too.

Four baseballs autographed by Jose Fernandez wash ashore

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 03: Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins looks on during a game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on August 3, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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This is just . . . ugh.

WSVN-TV in Miami reports that a black bag containing Jose Fernandez’s checkbook and four baseballs signed by him washed ashore on Miami Beach. Probably a bag to keep stuff dry while out on the water.

The bag was given to a lifeguard. Hopefully the bag finds its way back to Fernandez’s family quickly.