Robinson Cano

2012 projections review: second base


This is the third entry in 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. Robinson Cano – Yankees
Projection: .309/.362/.520, 30 HR, 110 R, 123 RBI, 4 SB in 638 AB
2012 stats: .313/.379/.550, 33 HR, 105 R, 94 RBI, 3 SB in 627 AB

I thought Cano would have a real shot at leading the league in RBI after moving up in the Yankee lineup, but he came in well shy of his 2010 and ’11 totals, even though he finished with a career-high slugging percentage. The biggest problem was hit .268/.393/.436 line with RISP, but it also didn’t help that Yankees’ No. 2 hitters weren’t on base as much as expected.

2. Ian Kinsler – Rangers
Projection: .285/.373/.490, 25 HR, 109 R, 74 RBI, 25 SB in 571 AB
2012 stats: .256/.326/.423, 19 HR, 105 R, 72 RBI, 21 SB in 655 AB

Kinsler spent most of the season hitting .270-.280 before really fading in the end. It hardly seems like a good sign that he went from a 71/89 K/BB ratio in 2011 to a 90/60 K/BB ratio this year.

3. Dustin Pedroia – Red Sox
Projection: .291/.371/.450, 17 HR, 103 R, 89 RBI, 17 SB in 598 AB
2012 stats: .290/.347/.449, 15 HR, 81 R, 65 RBI, 20 SB in 563 AB

Pedroia wasn’t the problem for Boston this year, but with all of the disappointments surrounding him in the lineup, he fell well short of the run and RBI projections.

4. Brandon Phillips – Reds
Projection: .277/.335/.446, 21 HR, 96 R, 76 RBI, 20 SB in 610 AB
2012 stats: .281/.321/.429, 18 HR, 86 R, 77 RBI, 15 SB in 580 AB

If only everyone were as easy to project as BP. He’s hit 18 homers three straight seasons now, and aside from his .810 mark in 2011, his OPS has been between .750-.770 each of the last five years.

5. Howie Kendrick – Angels
Projection: .299/.345/.455, 15 HR, 90 R, 73 RBI, 14 SB in 569 AB
2012 stats: .287/.325/.400, 8 HR, 57 R, 67 RBI, 14 SB in 550 AB

Kendrick didn’t hold on to 2011’s power spike, and he still hasn’t turned into the .300-.320 hitter it looked like he’d become when he was younger. Of course, he may yet turn in a career year come 2013 or ’14.

6. Ben Zobrist – Rays
Projection: .257/.356/.427, 18 HR, 85 R, 82 RBI, 21 SB in 557 AB
2012 stats: .270/.377/.471, 20 HR, 88 R, 74 RBI, 14 SB in 560 AB

Zobrist hit .203 for two months and then .299 the rest of the way. He should have driven in a few more runs, but three-quarters of his homers came with the bases empty, even though he spent most of the year hitting third or fifth.

7. Rickie Weeks – Brewers
Projection: .273/.361/.480, 25 HR, 87 R, 64 RBI, 11 SB in 523 AB
2012 stats: .230/.328/.400, 21 HR, 85 R, 63 RBI, 16 SB in 588 AB

And Zobrist still had nothing on Weeks’ start. Fortunately, Weeks recovered to hit .269/.350/.478 with 15 homers over the final three months.

8. Chase Utley – Phillies
Projection: .282/.380/.460, 18 HR, 78 R, 71 RBI, 11 SB in 465 AB
2012 stats: .256/.365/.429, 11 HR, 48 R, 45 RBI, 11 SB in 301 AB

Utley was still pretty darn good while healthy, but it was a far cry from the MVP candidate of old. He’ll play next season at 34 and knee problems are likely a fact of life for him now, so the Phillies should be hoping for similar production over 120-130 games. Anything more would be gravy.

9. Jemile Weeks – Athletics
Projection: .287/.354/.401, 5 HR, 80 R, 51 RBI, 32 SB in 579 AB
2012 stats: .221/.305/.304, 2 HR, 54 R, 20 RBI, 16 SB in 444 AB

At least his big brother bounced back as the year went on. There was nothing encouraging to take from Jemile’s season. He didn’t hit the ball with authority, and he didn’t even turn his grounders into hits with any regularity. He’ll face an uphill climb to win his job back next spring.

10. Dustin Ackley – Mariners
Projection: .279/.357/.443, 15 HR, 83 R, 77 RBI, 13 SB in 594 AB
2012 stats: .226/.294/.328, 12 HR, 84 R, 50 RBI, 13 SB in 607 AB

I didn’t think I was that high on Ackley, but that was just a dreadful season. Still, there’s better reason for optimism here than with Jemile. For one thing, the Mariners are firmly in his corner, and he’ll almost certainly be the Opening Day starter again, even if bringing in some competition would be a good idea. For another, he did lower his strikeout rate some from his rookie season. I still think he’ll settle in as an above average offensive second baseman next year. However, he doesn’t project as a star.

11. Dan Uggla – Braves
Projection: .252/.343/.470, 31 HR, 82 R, 90 RBI, 2 SB in 560 AB
2012 stats: .220/.348/.384, 19 HR, 86 R, 78 RBI, 4 SB in 523 AB

Uggla had 36 homers in 600 at-bats in 2011 and finished with 88 runs scored and 82 RBI. In 2012, he had 17 fewer homers and still essentially matched those run and RBI totals, taking off three or four of each to account for the fact that he played in seven fewer games. Anyway, his contract is looking really, really lousy at the moment. Still three years and $39 million to go.

12. Aaron Hill – Diamondbacks
Projection: .267/.319/.456, 24 HR, 75 R, 71 RBI, 13 SB in 570 AB
2012 stats: .302/.360/.522, 26 HR, 93 R, 85 RBI, 14 SB in 609 AB

Hill is maybe baseball’s most inconsistent player. His career OPS is an average enough .759, but he hasn’t finished with 70 points of that mark since 2007. His last five years: .685, .829, .665, .655 and now .882.

13. Neil Walker – Pirates
Projection: .281/.341/.438, 16 HR, 77 R, 83 RBI, 6 SB in 566 AB
2012 stats: .280/.341/.426, 14 HR, 62 R, 69 RBI, 7 SB in 472 AB

14. Jason Kipnis – Indians
Projection: .265/.337/.440, 17 HR, 73 R, 78 RBI, 13 SB in 532 AB
2012 stats: .257/.335/.379, 14 HR, 86 R, 76 RBI, 31 SB in 591 AB

I had Kipnis ranked ahead of Walker most of the spring, only to make the change at the last minute because the Indians decided to start off the season with Kipnis hitting eighth. Of course, that ended up lasting for all of a week. Kipnis’ season actually ended up being a bit of a disappointment thanks to the second-half swoon, but that wasn’t the case for fantasy purposes, as all of those steals made him very valuable.

15. Danny Espinosa – Nationals
Projection: .244/.325/.416, 22 HR, 78 R, 67 RBI, 17 SB in 579 AB
2012 stats: .247/.315/.402, 17 HR, 82 R, 56 RBI, 20 SB in 594 AB

With RISP and none or one out this year, Espinosa hit .182 with one double, no homers and 12 RBI in 77 at-bats. With RISP and two outs, he hit .246 with four doubles, five homers and 23 RBI in 57 at-bats. That’s a .453 OPS versus a .937 OPS. In 2011, he was basically the opposite, struggling with two outs and doing a terrific job with none or one out.

I’m not sure I have a point here, except that I’m sick of Joe Buck harping on a guy’s RISP stats like it really tells us something about the player.

17. Jose Altuve – Astros
Projection: .287/.327/.385, 6 HR, 71 R, 50 RBI, 20 SB in 571 AB
2012 stats: .290/.340/.399, 7 HR, 80 R, 37 RBI, 33 SB in 576 AB

Altuve’s OPS dropped pretty steadily after his strong April, and I’m guessing fatigue played a role. If not for the league switch, I’d project him to hit a bit over .300 next year. The AL West makes for quite a bit tougher competition than the NL Central, though.

19. Gordon Beckham – White Sox
Projection: .262/.330/.414, 15 HR, 67 R, 64 RBI, 7 SB in 512 AB
2012 stats: .234/.296/.371, 16 HR, 62 R, 60 RBI, 5 SB in 525 AB

Beckham was able to cut back on the strikeouts this year, but it didn’t result in any more hits. A change of scenery seems like a must after three straight disappointing seasons, but he has little trade value remaining and the White Sox don’t have a replacement in house. Plus, he’ll still be pretty cheap, even though he’s off to arbitration for the first time. Maybe he’ll stay.

36. Jeff Keppinger – Rays
Projection: .282/.335/.382, 4 HR, 37 R, 32 RBI, 1 SB in 280 AB
2012 stats: .325/.367/.439, 9 HR, 46 R, 40 RBI, 1 SB in 385 AB


Previous 2012 projection reviews: catcher / first base

Jessica Mendoza and Chris Archer were great in the booth

Jessica Mendoza

Not news: Jessica Mendoza, who has been excellent on all of the ESPN broadcasts she has done since taking over for Curt Schilling, was excellent last night too.

She was great on the nuts and bolts, continued to show that she can describe hitting mechanics better than most color commentators — way more of them seem to be more comfortable talking about pitching — and was a seamless presence in the booth in terms of flow, timbre and all of the aesthetic aspects of broadcasting. If she has a fault thus far it’s that she leans on some cliches about hitters’ mindsets and desire to win sometimes. This puts her in with approximately 100% of all other color commentators in baseball now and throughout the history of baseball, of course, so it’s not really a demerit.

Ultimately, the true test of a good commentator is whether they (a) add insight; and (b) do so without distracting or upstaging the game. In this Mendoza is superior to most commentators in baseball and clearly superior to the “stop and listen to me” brand of analysts the major networks have employed on national broadcasts in recent years.

Indeed, the best compliment I think I can give Mendoza is that she was — in the literal sense, not the judgmental sense — unremarkable. Meaning: during the game and after there was nothing she said or did that was worthy of the highly-critical remarks almost every broadcaster gets, going back through Schilling, Kruk, Harold Reynolds Tim McCarver, Joe Morgan and everyone else ESPN and Fox have forced upon us in their history doing playoff baseball. I’m on Twitter during most playoff games and sometimes the broadcaster bashing is more interesting than the game. Mendoza gives the would-be bashers very little material.

At least those who would bash on the actual merits. There remains a group of deadenders who are irked by her very presence in the booth because she is a woman. The New York times rounds up some of the less mouth-breathery types today, but God knows there are many, many worse. Some of them even in professional media. At least for now. Whether you choose to ignore those people or choose to engage them — which, their dead end opinions notwithstanding can be a useful exercise in my view — know that they are out there being miserable and sexist as God and the First Amendment intended them to be.

While there are many who slam Mendoza on the faulty premise that she lacks credentials and experience in the booth, there was one person in the ESPN booth last night, at least for a while, who was a total TV noob. His name was Chris Archer. He pitches a bit for the Tampa Bay Rays. And lo and behold, he was pretty damn good himself.

Archer needs some polish for style — he has a lot of “ummms” and “uhhhs” about him — but his analysis is both sharp and quick. Meaning he was RIGHT ON the points when he needed to be without any of the usual prompting guests in the booth need from the play-by-play guy. At one point he even flowed into play-by-play and did a pretty good job of it.  Chris: if that pitching stuff doesn’t work out, you have a bright, bright future in television.

So, on the first night of the playoffs, there were no complaints about the broadcast. Mostly because the broadcasters weren’t the stars of the show. The game was. And it was complemented nicely by a couple of good voices.

And John Kruk.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.