Prince Fielder

2012 projections review: first base

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This is the second of a position-by-position review of my 2012 projections. Along with looking at my top preseason top 10 (for fantasy purposes) from each spot, I’m highlighting some other interesting players. Any requests for players not covered can be made in the comments.

1. Albert Pujols – Angels
Projection: .306/.414/.586, 43 HR, 114 R, 117 RBI, 9 SB in 601 AB
2012 stats: .285/.343/.516, 30 HR, 85 R, 105 RBI, 8 SB in 607 AB

After finally settling in above the Mendoza Line on May 15, Pujols came in at .312/.374/.589 the rest of the way. The most striking thing about Pujols’ decline is the huge drop in his walk rate. He drew at least 70 unintentional walks every year from 2004-09 before dropping to 65 in 2010, 46 in 2011 and 36 this year.

2. Joey Votto – Reds
Projection: .314/.426/.564, 33 HR, 105 R, 107 RBI, 9 SB in 567 AB
2012 stats: .337/.474/.567, 14 HR, 59 R, 56 RBI, 5 SB in 374 AB

3. Adrian Gonzalez – Red Sox/Dodgers
Projection: .318/.401/.551, 33 HR, 103 R, 118 RBI, 0 SB in 604 AB
2012 stats: .299/.344/.463, 18 HR, 75 R, 108 RBI, 2 SB in 629 AB

The move to Dodger Stadium will get Gonzalez a weaker projection next year, particularly in runs scored. I may have to ramp up the steals, though. Gonzalez had as many stolen bases in 36 games with the Dodgers (two) as he did in 1,140 career games previously.

4. Prince Fielder – Tigers
Projection: .278/.412/.515, 33 HR, 98 R, 113 RBI, 1 SB in 565 AB
2012 stats: .313/.412/.528, 30 HR, 83 R, 108 RBI, 1 SB in 581 AB

It figured that the move from Milwaukee to Detroit would take a chunk out of Fielder’s home run total. However, he made up for it by hitting .300 for the first time in his career. After such a quick adjustment to the AL, I’ll give him a somewhat better projection next year.

5. Eric Hosmer – Royals
Projection: .293/.365/.487, 24 HR, 89 R, 97 RBI, 8 SB in 598 AB
2012 stats: .232/.304/.359, 14 HR, 65 R, 60 RBI, 16 SB in 535 AB

Hosmer was such a huge disappointment after hitting .293/.334/.465 with 19 homers in 128 games as a rookie. All he seemed to do as a sophomore was hit grounders. The future is still bright, but the Royals need to bring in an alternative at first base and consider sending Hosmer back to Triple-A if he can’t fails to make adjustments next spring.

6. Mark Teixeira – Yankees
Projection: .260/.367/.504, 36 HR, 93 R, 108 RBI, 2 SB in 573 AB
2012 stats: .251/.332/.475, 24 HR, 66 R, 84 RBI, 2 SB in 451 AB

Teixeira’s OPS declined for the fifth straight season, and the Yankees are still on the hook for another four years. Orioles fans should stop booing him and start cheering the fact that their team isn’t the one paying him $22.5 million per year.

7. Ike Davis – Mets
Projection: .277/.363/.501, 29 HR, 81 R, 95 RBI, 1 SB in 553 AB
2012 stats: .227/.308/.462, 32 HR, 66 R, 90 RBI, 0 SB in 519 AB

I don’t know how much the Valley Fever had to do with Davis’s early struggles, but the fact is that he hit .158/.234/.273 with five homers in 183 at-bats through June 8 and then .265/.347/.565 with 27 homers in 336 at-bats the rest of the way. Regardless, he still needs to step up his game against lefties if he’s going to post quality batting averages from year to year.

8. Paul Konerko – White Sox
Projection: .278/.371/.480, 28 HR, 73 R, 98 RBI, 0 SB in 540 AB
2012 stats: .298/.371/.486, 26 HR, 66 R, 75 RBI, 0 SB in 533 AB

Hitting Konerko behind Adam Dunn didn’t really work out for the White Sox. He was still pretty good, but he lost 30 RBI from his 2011 total.

9. Freddie Freeman – Braves
Projection: .282/.348/.476, 24 HR, 73 R, 87 RBI, 3 SB in 561 AB
2012 stats: .259/.340/.456, 23 HR, 91 R, 94 RBI, 2 SB in 540 AB

10. Paul Goldschmidt – Diamondbacks
Projection: .246/.329/.485, 30 HR, 74 R, 85 RBI, 8 SB in 532 AB
2012 stats: .286/.359/.490, 20 HR, 82 R, 82 RBI, 18 SB in 514 AB

One of my most unusual misses: I was off by 40 points of average, 10 homers and 10 steals, yet by only 35 points of OPS and five runs+RBI.

11. Adam Dunn – White Sox
Projection: .230/.347/.489, 37 HR, 80 R, 92 RBI, 1 SB in 538 AB
2012 stats: .204/.333/.468, 41 HR, 87 R, 96 RBI, 2 SB in 539 AB

Dunn was a great story early on, but he was a below average DH over the final four months. In the end, his comeback ranked as only the White Sox’s third best behind Alex Rios and Jake Peavy. While my projection turned out OK, I’ll be going lower next year.

15. Ryan Howard – Phillies
Projection: .261/.350/.499, 21 HR, 51 R, 65 RBI, 0 SB in 337 AB
2012 stats: .219/.295/.423, 14 HR, 28 R, 56 RBI, 0 SB in 260 AB

17. Justin Morneau – Twins
Projection: .269/.361/.473, 23 HR, 71 R, 82 RBI, 0 SB in 490 AB
2012 stats: .267/.333/.440, 19 HR, 63 R, 77 RBI, 1 SB in 505 AB

It’s great that Morneau was able to return from post-concussion syndrome and become a solid contributor. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite resemble the old Morneau at the plate. Even though he was limited to 134 games, he still set a new career high with 102 strikeouts, and he had his worst full season from a power perspective. I expect I’ll give him a similar projection next year.

18. Kendrys Morales – Angels
Projection: .293/.346/.497, 20 HR, 61 R, 73 RBI, 1 SB in 433 AB
2012 stats: .273/.320/.467, 22 HR, 61 R, 73 RBI, 0 SB in 484 AB

As a fantasy projection, this one is pretty great. As far as actually projecting production, it’s a little off; I expected Morales to reach those run and RBI totals in 50 fewer at-bats. Considering that I was projecting a guy who had missed 1 2/3 seasons with a busted leg, I’ll take it either way. Morales had his best two months in August and September, which would seem to be a good sign for next year.

19. Justin Smoak – Mariners
Projection: .258/.350/.440, 22 HR, 70 R, 74 RBI, 0 SB in 539 AB
2012 stats: .217/.290/.364, 19 HR, 49 R, 51 RBI, 1 SB in 483 AB

Smoak was sitting at .190/.258/.316 through the end of August. He hit .341/.426/.580 with five homers in September to seemingly guarantee himself another shot as the Mariners’ first baseman next year.

21. Adam LaRoche – Nationals
Projection: .257/.332/.442, 19 HR, 61 R, 73 RBI, 1 SB in 475 AB
2012 stats: .271/.343/.510, 33 HR, 76 R, 100 RBI, 1 SB in 571 AB

LaRoche hit .172 with three homers in 151 at-bats before undergoing shoulder surgery in 2011. All he did this year was come back with the best season of his career at age 32.

29. Mark Trumbo – Angels
Projection: .248/.297/.460, 16 HR, 39 R, 49 RBI, 4 SB in 315 AB
2012 stats: .268/.317/.491, 32 HR, 66 R, 95 RBI, 4 SB in 544 AB

I’ve been a big skeptic with Trumbo, and I was looking like a big fool with him hitting .307/.358/.630 with 27 homers through 85 games this year. Then he suddenly collapsed to .213/.258/.293 the rest of the way. My feeling is that the flaws in his approach were exposed, and he’s going to have to start laying off bad pitches to survive. That said, he has some of the best power in the league and he can still crush mistakes. He can’t be completely written off.

Previous 2012 projection reviews: catcher

Padres sign Trevor Cahill

Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Trevor Cahill (53) during the seventh inning of Game 3 in baseball's National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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The Padres have signed Trevor Cahill to a one-year, $1.75 million contract.

As recently as the middle of the 2015 season it looked like Cahill’s career would meet a premature end, but after being released by the Braves and signing with the Cubs in August of that season he has been a remarkably effective reliever. He has posted a 2.61 ERA in 61 games in Chicago and has posted a strikeout rate far above his career norms.

He’s not someone you necessarily want taking the hill when the leverage is high, but in San Diego the leverage won’t be all that high all that often.

Justin Verlander: “I’m too old to be part of a rebuilding process”

DETROIT, MI - JULY 20: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the eighth inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on July 20, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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The Tigers have sent some mixed signals this winter. The offseason began with widespread reports that GM Al Avila was going to break up the team. Indeed, it was reported that he was willing to field offers for any and all players, on up to Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera.

As the offseason has unfolded, however, a rebuild has not materialized.

Avila traded away outfielder Cameron Maybin. He signed old friends Omar Infante and Alex Avila. He made the usual sorts of minor league signings every team makes to fill out the roster. Detroit still needs a center fielder and there continue to be rumors that outfielder J.D. Martinez and second baseman Ian Kinsler could be had for the right price, but it’s been pretty quiet at 2100 Woodward Avenue.

If that changes, however, and the Tigers do start to rebuild, there’s one key member of the team who doesn’t really want a part of it. From the Detroit Free Press:

Justin Verlander is 33 years and 330 days old.

He’s not that old.

But the Detroit Tigers ace right-hander – a 12-year major league veteran – is old enough in baseball years to know that he doesn’t really want to be part of a rebuilding process.

“Would it have been upsetting for me if we started trading away everybody?” he told MLB Network Radio on Friday morning. “I’m too old to be part of a rebuilding process.”

Verlander will make $28 million a year for each of the next three seasons and has a vesting option for 2020 if he finishes in the top 5 of the 2019 Cy Young vote. He had an excellent return-to-form in 2016, but his contract is still pretty big for a pitcher with his mileage, making it seem unlikely that he would be moved absent the team eating a huge portion of his salary. The same could be said for Miguel Cabrera who, despite still being one of the best hitters in baseball, is making between $28-32 million between now and 2023. A wonderful player, but an extraordinarily difficult contract to move. Both superstars have full no-trade protection as 10-5 men as well.

At the moment the rebuild does not seem to be materializing and the Tigers — as I think they should, probably — will enter 2017 aiming for the AL Central crown, not aiming at restocking their farm system.

But what will Verlander think, however, if the Tigers find themselves out of contention come May? What will he think if Ian Kinsler — a valuable player on a tradable contract — is sold off? Or Justin Upton? Or J.D. Martinez?

It’s worth watching.