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).

Cubs, Jake Arrieta avoid arbitration at $10.7 million

Jake Arrieta
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.

Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.

Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.

Giants sign Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Conor Gillaspie is unable to hold on to the ball after catching a grounder hit by Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
AP Photo/Colin E. Braley
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Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.

Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.

The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.

Joe Nathan plans to pitch in 2016

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan throws against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Detroit Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”

Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.

Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.

The Rays are considering reliever Tyler Clippard

New York Mets pitcher Tyler Clippard throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.