Idea: Rank the best individual seasons of the 2012 MLB regular season (Spring Training, Minor Leagues, and Postseason are not included), while considering offensive and defensive facets of the game.
Consider: Using the individual metrics to measure individual performance; full avoidance of projecting results for shortened seasons, and past years performance to justify or dictate standings.
This is not: “Most Valuable” anything. Rather, this is “best,” like Baseball America does, so there is no confusion as to what I am ranking. It is also not a “this is a ranking of who I want in 2013, or wanted in any other year.”
This is: My opinion, and will be disagreed with by many.
20. R.A. Dickey (233.2 IP, 8.86 K/9, 3.39 tERA, 4.6 fWAR, 5.6 rWAR) – Had I considered age in this ranking, maybe Dickey would have been higher, but I’ll let someone else do that ranking. I think it’s still cool that we could have some more years to experience his dominance over hitters though.
19. David Price (211.0 IP, 8.74 K/9, 3.23 tERA, 5.1 fWAR, 6.4 rWAR) – Really had trouble ranking 19-21 with the three pitchers, but in the end, I just liked Price’s numbers the best
18. Aaron Hill (26 HR, 14 SB, .375 wOBA, 6.2 fWAR, 4.6 rWAR) – What a change of scenery can do for you, Aaron Hill looks like he’s found his comfort zone in Phoenix after being traded from Toronto.
17. Cliff Lee (211.0 IP, 1.19 BB/9, 3.21 tERA, 4.9 fWAR, 4.2 rWAR) – Poor Clifton didn’t get a lot of love because of the W-L record he sported, but it’s not his fault his team didn’t score runs for him, even if he was on for most of the season.
16. Michael Bourn (26 2B, 42 SB, .326 wOBA, 6.4 fWAR, 6.0 rWAR) – The speedy center fielder does his job tearing up the basepaths and covering his part out in CF. Jim Bowman suggested the Giants could be a fit, I think not. ($)
15. Felix Hernandez (232.0 IP, 8.65 K/9, 3.21 tERA, 6.1 fWAR, 4.6 rWAR) – The King may be the only true royalty in Seattle now, but he should have an army of arms coming to help out soon.
14. Aramis Ramirez (27 HR, 50 2B, .384 wOBA, 6.5 fWAR, 5.4 rWAR) – May be the most underappreciated season of the guys listed in this top percentage, but the BBWAA recognized it, and he finished 9th in NL MVP voting.
13. Yadier Molina (22 HR, 12 SB, .375 wOBA, 6.5 fWAR, 6.7 rWAR) – I know what you’re thinking: A Molina that steals bases, not just prevents SB? Yea, he does that, too.
12. Adrian Beltre (36 HR, 33 2B, .388 wOBA, 6.5 fWAR, 6.7 rWAR) – I felt Heyward edged the 3B of Texas in the way he manned his position, and in the way he contributed on the bases, but still a great year for the guy that loves the headrubs.
11. Jason Heyward (27 HR, 21 SB, .351 wOBA, 6.6 fWAR, 5.5 rWAR) – Should Heyward be able to step up his game to another level in his age 23 season, he could get real scary.
10. Clayton Kershaw (227.2 IP, 9.05 K/9, 2.95 tERA, 5.5 fWAR, 6.2 rWAR) – I also struggled between JV vs. CK, but in the end, felt other peripherals not listed evened things out, giving the edge to Justin over Clayton with IP being the tiebreaker.
9. Justin Verlander (238.1 IP, 9.03 K/9, 3.43 tERA, 6.8 fWAR, 7.5 rWAR) – I really struggled where to start to include the pitchers, but here seemed like a good spot. Verlander is still good.
8. Chase Headley (31 HR, 17 SB, .378 wOBA, 7.5 fWAR, 6.0 rWAR) – If this were a “best second half of 2012” post, Headley might be #1.
7. David Wright (21 HR, 15 SB, .376 wOBA, 7.8 fWAR, 6.7 rWAR) – If this were a “best first half of 2012” post, Wright might be #1.
6. Miguel Cabrera (44 HR, 40 2B, .417 wOBA, 7.1 fWAR, 6.9 rWAR) – The dude’s just oozing power, and while the change of positions is a great story, the playing of the position itself must be considered in this ranking.
5. Andrew McCutchen (31 HR, 20 SB, .403 wOBA, 7.4 fWAR, 7.0 rWAR) – Worthy of being on the cover of a video game, I’m just glad Pittsburgh has had someone to cheer about.
3. Ryan Braun (41 HR, 30 SB, .413 wOBA, 7.9 fWAR, 6.8 rWAR) – Probably got a lot of flack for the PED-related stuff at the end of the season in 2011, but a 40-30 season will never stop being impressive.
2. Buster Posey (24 HR, .406 wOBA, 8.0 fWAR, 7.2 rWAR) – It’s no secret that the catcher position is an incredibly important one, and when your backstop is producing at the levels Posey is, well that warrants some respect. Bias possible.
1. Mike Trout (30 HR, 49 SB, .409 wOBA, 10.0 fWAR, 10.7 rWAR) – If 21 year olds are just getting started, in the Majors, it’s difficult to fathom where he goes from here.
After a huge sweep of the formerly-first place Los Angeles Dodgers in their own park happened, the Giants rode a happy flight home to being a series today and square off against a team that finally savaged a win against their biggest division rival in the Washington Nationals. A big series for both teams, Fred Owens from Tomahawk Take at Fansided reached out to me and asked about doing a collaboration preview. An awesome request and a great chance to work with other writers, we set out to do work. You can check out my contribution to his article here, and I’ll put his thoughts in quotes on this site because who’s going to know the Braves better: me, or a guy that blogs about them? Yea, I’d say the latter as well.
“Braves coming into the series:
After Tuesday’s meeting with the Nationals the Braves have lost four in a row and six of their last ten. Our lineup has essentially been the first five hitters, three pitching level hitters and Paul Janish who has hit really well filling in for Andrelton Simmons since his arrival. Our starting pitching has been sold and dependable with the exception of the enigmatic Tommy Hanson and our bullpen solid as a rock. The return of Jonny Venters to near last year’s form mean that a lead after six is probably a win as Eric O’Flaherty and Chad Durbin have filled the eighth inning role well and Craig Kimbrel is – with apologies to the young man in Cincinnati – the best closer in the game right now. Kimbrel has unfortunately not had many chances to save games of late but even when getting his work in he’s been virtually unhittable.”
Thursday, August 23rd: RHP Tommy Hanson vs. LHP Barry Zito
One sentence summary: Ben Sheets hasn’t allowed less than 3 ER to a team not named “Miami” since mid-June, while Zito has to hope his offense offsets the amount of runs he’ll give up if his recent 4 streak continues.
Friday, August 24th: RHP Ben Sheets vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong
One sentence summary: The fairy tale of a great comeback may be ending for Sheets with 10 ER & 5 HR allowed in his last two starts, and interesting to note RHH are hitting far better against him at the moment; Vogelsong looks to go beyond the 4th inning for the first time in 3 starts.
Saturday, August 25th: LHP Mike Minor vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner
One sentence summary: Minor’s home/away splits aren’t as drastic as Lincecum’s, but they’re noticeable as he does far better at home, which may spell danger for the Braves against a Cy Young-candidate in the fabulous Bumgarner.
Sunday, August 26th: RHP Tim Hudson vs. RHP Tim Lincecum
One sentence summary: In 41.1 IP at AT&T Park, Tim Hudson has allowed 1 HR in his career, but it’s not like the Giants hit those anyway; Timmy looks to use that anti-Dodger adrenaline in another start — especially to keep the four-ball counts away.
Offenses Bound for the Playoffs?
“Who’s hot: Jason Heyward is having the year everyone expected him to have last year when injury interrupted his rising star and the Braves post season chances along with it. In the last seven days Heyward’s line of .375/.483/.833 with 2 homers, 3 doubles a triple and 7 RBI has been the hottest spot in the lineup. Paul Janish with a .304/.385/.348 line including a double and 3 RBI hitting out of the eighth spot in the lineup [and his] RBI have been key factors in our rallies and his defense is up there with the best I’ve seen lately. Chipper Jones [who will be honored in a pre-game ceremony today by the Giants to celebrate his career] may be 40 years old but Battle Axe is having a himself a superb farewell tour. His line for the last week of .294/.400/. 882 with 3 homers, a double and 4 RBI. Few make the play coming in on a bunt as well as the 40 year old future Hall of Famer.
Who’s not: This list is far too long and begins with our most expensive liability, Dan Uggla.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Uggla stinks. His .143/.308/.381 line for the last week is the one of the worst on the team. All season long I’ve waited for him to find a groove and start making opposing pitchers fear his bat again. Right now the only reason to fear the bat is if it slips out of his hand and flies towards your seat in the stands. Brian McCann is hurt. His right shoulder has a cyst and a “frayed labrum.” His line of .154/.353/.154 consists of 2 hits. Because he can’t follow through; he tries to start the bat early and is often fooled by pitches with late movement. Two weeks ago Freddie Freeman was scalding hot, since then he’s cooled considerably mostly due I think to facing a seemingly unending string of lefties followed by Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg. He has not fared well against Barry Zito (0-6) so his cold snap is likely to continue until at least Friday. The series of lefties and the high velocity offerings of Strasburg have cooled Michael Bourn off as well. Though his line of .240/.367/.727 isn’t awful it’s not great for a leadoff man and down considerably from the .375/.474/.594 of the prior seven game stretch. He too has had no luck against Zito. He may well run out and hug Volgesong just for being right handed and not throwing 99 on the outside corner at the knees.”
No more mystery who the hottest Giant is right now after his massacre-ing of the Dodgers last night: Joaquin Arias has hit 2 of his season’s 3 HR in the past week and is hitting an unconscious .646 wOBA in the L7 (.302 wOBA overall), so you can bet you’ll see Bochy try to fit him in the lineup somewhere. Welcome back, Angel Pagan, and your… .502 wOBA in the last week? Yea, that’s right. That’s also pretty unconscious. As good as they’ve been for Arias and Pagan, they have been bad for Justin Christian (.063 wOBA L7 in 11 PA) despite his great catch last night and Hector Sanchez (.000 wOBA in 10 PA) recently. Brandon Belt also seems to be off his hot streak (.202 wOBA L7, .331 wOBA overall — same as Pagan) so with a trio of RHP this weekend, we’ll see how the baby giraffe holds up and how he looks as well.
I won’t spoil Fred’s series prediction here, as he put his in his article on Fansided, but here’s mine with a little more detail than what I contributed to Tomahawk Take:
Thursday: Braves win (I’m not betting on Zito putting it together against the Braves)
Friday: Giants win (Ryan Vogelsong may not be back, but Ben Sheets isn’t the Sheets of old)
Saturday: Giants win (The legend of Bumgarner continues even as Posey takes a breather)
Sunday: Braves win (Velocity back to normal, Lincecum unable to blow by Braves bats)
Big thanks to Fred again for reaching out and allowing me to help out, as well as for him helping me out in giving the readers a better look at the Braves!
Two teams with very different winning streaks — the Giants at 3, and the Braves at 7 — meet up in Hotlanta in what’s a battle between two teams with very similar post-season aspirations, and only a one game apart in the loss column. All winning streaks have to come to an end sometime, right? So why not force them to start a brand new one after they leave Georgia? Problem is obviously, this team is much better than the Houston squad that got swept by the Giants. Leaving 26 men on base in the last two games of the series like the Giants did will not likely warrant positive results in the Win column should that continue on this roadtrip.
Tuesday, July 17th: LHP Barry Zito vs. RHP Jair Jurrjens
One sentence summary: Two guys with a tERA over 5 means this game could have both fanbases putting their hands to their heads for five to six innings at the very most.
Wednesday, July 18th: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. LHP Mike Minor
One sentence summary: 19 HRA for Mike Minor and the count for those HR and the pitches they were hit on: fastball (10), changeup (5), slider (3), and the curveball (1).
Thursday, July 19th: LHP Madison Bumgarner vs. RHP Tim Hudson
One sentence summary: Tim Hudson really can give you a bunch of different looks and the sinkerballer should be the biggest challenge of a starting pitcher the Giants see in the Southeast.
A pretty decent team the Braves are, as they’ve shown this season with four guys (assuming qualified PA) with over a .350 wOBA (Giants have three), but you may hear the broadcast booth talk about three of them have batting averages over .300, which is also impressive. Chipper (.383 wOBA), Martin Prado (.363), Jason Heyward (.363), and Michael Bourn (.359) are the wOBA guys, and the Braves also have four guys with double digit HRs. Heyward actually leads all with 14, McCann has 13, and Uggla along with Freeman both have 12. Three — Bourn (25), JHey (12), and Prado (11) — have double digit steals. So a team that hits, can hit for power, and can run. Any questions as to why they’re in the hunt?
Sure, the Giants have their own speed in Pagan (16), Blanco (15), and Melky (10), and two different guys from Melky (.387 wOBA) have high wOBA like the Braves gang in Pablo (.367), and Buster (.364), but still only have Buster (11) as a representative from the double digit big bomb club. A lot of talk has also come about the Giants hitting with RISP, and it gets your attention because they’re one of the worst in the league. The most AB with RISP coming into tonight’s games at 805 AB for the Giants, yet they have the 2nd lowest batting average (.225, Padres lowest at .209), the lowest OBP (.302), the 2nd lowest SLG% (.328, Padres lowest at .300), the 2nd lowest BABIP (.260, Yankees the lowest at .241) and the 2nd lowest wOBA (.270, Padres at .268). Leaves you to wonder how many close games can be avoided if the RISP will come in at a higher rate this second half of the season.
I’m not going to predict better RISP batting, although you’d think it should happen since it’s been so bad so far. The Giants can win this series, but will they let the heat get to them like they let it last time?
Tuesday: Giants win (Jurrjens gets hit harder than Zito)
Wednesday: Giants win (Hit Mike Minor hard)
Thursday: Braves win (RISP problems)