As much as any of us watch baseball, unless we write about it, it’s hard to keep track of the players that are performing below what we might have expected of them. We’ll pay attention to the players doing some incredible things, we celebrate those starts, and I like that. I’m sure some of these guys would rather not hear about their seasons at the dish since their own fanbase probably has been railing on them with almost two months in the books. Everybody’s list will be different, and you might lose respect for me that I didn’t know these guys might be weighing their team down offensively, but it is what it is. So, here are some of those guys:
- Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks — you’d think I could pay attention to guys playing in the same division as the Giants, but alas, I did not see MM’s .247 wOBA, 46 wRC+, and -0.4 fWAR. You don’t even need those advanced numbers to say “oh, yea, it’s not happening right now” as his .190/.280/.276 slash line in the first year of a five-year, sixty million dollar deal probably isn’t what the D-Backs expected.
- Jeff Francoeur, Royals — just kidding, we kinda expected this
- Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox — .275 wOBA, 63 wRC+, -0.4 fWAR for the 3B of Boston. 8 HR to his name, but the batting average hovering just over the Mendoza line coming into today. I see he is on the 15-day DL (back).
- Andrelton Simmons, Braves — .278 wOBA, 73 wRC+, 0.7 fWAR. Simmons’ defense has had scouts droolin’ for days, but I did not expect his offense to be that depressing. Coming into today, he was batting leadoff in 23/47 G he played in and had a .236 OBP. How much higher would this team be in runs scored if he would be batting lower in the order?
- Yuniesky Betancourt, Brewers — no foolin’ here, because the start he had where it seemed like he was homering every at bat off the Giants made everybody scratch their heads and wonder what was happening. Well, Yuni is at a .286 wOBA, a 78 wRC+, and is at the 0.0 fWAR mark with a .232/.264/.409 slash line with 8 HR, doing most of his damage in the month of April.
- Angel Pagan, Giants — I’m pretty familiar with his slash line, but his wOBA and wRC+ I was not at .303 and 95, respectively. His .314 OBP is also ninth on the team, which makes you wonder if someone else should be leading off (“but who will steal bases” <— I’m ignoring you)
- Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics — despite a 0.9 fWAR, the .221/.292/.456 with 9 HR and a .317 wOBA plus 98 wRC+ give you the impression that perhaps Cespedes is in need of making some adjustments. Yoenis also has a .229 BABIP, so perhaps things aren’t going his way after a .326 BABIP in 2012 and a .292/.356/.505 slash line (.368 wOBA, 136 wRC+) to go with it.
I think that’s a good list filled with some names that might or might not surprise you. I thought there might be more Eastern Division players in there, but there’s only two. Heck, there’s more Western Division players in there than that. Who’s surprised you this season thus far when you took a look at the leaderboards?
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.
40. Jimmy Rollins (23 HR, 30 SB, .322 wOBA, 4.9 fWAR, 2.3 rWAR) – You’ve got the picture now that I love HR and SB when put up in big bunches, and J-Roll, though 33 already, still’s puttin’ out.
39. Miguel Montero (15 HR, 25 2B, .364 wOBA, 5.0 fWAR, 3.7 rWAR) – Wouldn’t be surprised if Arizona fans feel MM is underappreciated. Definitely not talked about as much when we talk about “good catchers.”
38. Chris Sale (192.0 IP, 9 K/9, 4.06 tERA, 4.9 fWAR, 4.2 rWAR) – Turning 24 at the end of March, some scouts worry about this guy’s delivery, but hopefully Sale will continue to produce and not get injured.
37. Prince Fielder (30 HR, 33 2B, .398 wOBA, 4.9 fWAR, 4.4 rWAR) – Yea, defense kills him also, but that offense is just so hot, it’s no wonder he’s locked up through 2020.
36. Bryce Harper (22 HR, 18 SB, .352 wOBA, 4.9 fWAR, 5.0 rWAR) – Kid turned 20 in October. Really tried to not use his age to rank, but I might be guilty of that here.
35. Yu Darvish (191.1 IP, 10.4 K/9, 4.02 tERA, 5.1 fWAR, 4.0 rWAR) – Not a bad campaign for the “rookie” out of Sendai, and this is probably the guy I wish I would have watched more of. Maybe this year I’ll do that.
34. Joe Mauer (10 HR, 31 2B, .376 wOBA, 5.0 fWAR, 4.1 rWAR) – Just hoping Head & Shoulders is back in the game and ready to mash, especially with that monster contract of his.
33. Matt Holliday (27 HR, 36 2B, .378 wOBA, 5.1 fWAR, 3.9 rWAR) – Who’d have thunk that Holliday would be higher on this list than old buddy Pujols in 2013? Certainly not me.
32. Stephen Strasburg (159.1 IP, 11.13 K/9, 3.34 tERA, 4.3 fWAR, 2.7 rWAR) – Ranking SS was very tough because it’s not his fault the Nats shut him down, and I tried not to extrapolate what he was going to do and just take what he did and rank that. Could be too high, considering most everyone else got through the full season. Maybe it’s just right.
31. Carlos Ruiz (16 HR, 32 2B, .398 wOBA, 5.5 fWAR, 4.4 rWAR) – For how long he was using a substance to help him focus is unknown to me, and maybe it was helping him all year, but that’s not something I feel comfortable speculating on.
30. Torii Hunter (16 HR, 24 2B, .356 wOBA, 5.3 fWAR, 5.5 rWAR) – I do feel kind of bad for him with how things ended in Anaheim, but I think he’ll be happy in Detroit.
29. Austin Jackson (16 HR, 10 3B, .371 wOBA, 5.5 fWAR, 5.2 rWAR) – Someone said to me in the midst of the World Series the Tigers only had two guys in their lineup to fear. Austin Jackson then started his Rodney Dangerfield act, pointing to his regular season numbers.
28. Ian Desmond (25 HR, 21 SB, .362 wOBA, 5.4 fWAR, 3.2 rWAR) – Really difficult to decide between him, Jackson, and Hunter, but the 20-20 thing is just too sexy.
27. Giancarlo Stanton (37 HR, 30 2B, .405 wOBA, 5.8 fWAR, 5.4 rWAR) – He will enter his age 23 season in 2013, and he did all that in 501 plate appearances. Scary to think that he could get stronger.
26. Martin Prado (10 HR, 17 SB, .345 wOBA, 5.9 fWAR, 5.4 rWAR) – Often overlooked because he doesn’t clear the fence more often, Prado is a solid utility player that hasn’t quite seen his payday yet, but hopefully he will get his.
25. Alex Gordon (14 HR, 51 2B, .357 wOBA, 5.9 fWAR, 6.2 rWAR) – I could see people having a beef with me ranking Gordon too low, but if he gets stronger, those doubles might be going down and turning into dingers.
24. Zack Greinke (212.1 IP, 8.48 K/9, 3.58 tERA, 5.1 fWAR, 3.3 rWAR) – The lefty has a new home in LA, but made due with the Milwaukee and other “LA” team he worked for in 2012
23. Ben Zobrist (20 HR, 14 SB, .365 wOBA, 5.9 fWAR, 5.5 rWAR) – Another year of Ben playing multiple positions, and he still churns out the numbers that make him a solid attribute to the club. Good thing they have two team options on him for 2014 and 2015.
22. Joey Votto (44 2B, 19.80% BB%, .438 wOBA, 5.9 fWAR, 5.6 rWAR) – Even if he wasn’t 100%, he still ended up being a big contributor to the NL Central Champs.
21. Gio Gonzalez (199.1 IP, 9.35 K/9, 3.34 tERA, 5.4 fWAR, 4.5 rWAR) – Homey needs to bring that walk rate down, but to have this guy and him not be the #1 in your staff is pretty telling of what the Nationals have.
The fourth through sixth games of the month (out of nine) of September between these two clubs brings the Giants to Chase Field for the last time of the regular season, and the black + orange hope they can do better than the last series, where they were outscored 22-17, and lost two out of three from the Snakes. The Diamondbacks will be either 3.5 or 4.5 back of the Wild Card leaders tomorrow depending on how the Cardinals and Dodgers fare tonight, and are currently 10 back of the Giants for the West. For the Giants, the Diamondbacks are that annoying team that never seems to stop bothering you, and will throw three lefties at the Giants this weekend. The DBacks lead the season series 7-5, and with six to go, it actually would not surprise me if the Giants did not win the season series with Arizona.
Friday, September 14th: RHP Matt Cain vs. LHP Tyler Skaggs
One sentence summary: Tyler Skaggs’ starts have gotten shorter as his debut season has progressed — 6.2 IP, 5.2, 5.0, 3.2; Matt Cain has gone at least 7.0 IP in 5 of his last 6 starts.
Saturday, September 15th: LHP Barry Zito vs. LHP Wade Miley
One sentence summary: Miley has allowed 11 baserunners in his past two games, giving both teams a chance to win, while Zito hopes to strike out the Snakes like he did last time (6), but with better results for the team.
Sunday, September 16th: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. LHP Patrick Corbin
One sentence summary: Corbin hasn’t allowed less than 3 ER in a game since a little over a month ago; while Vogelsong still struggles to find what made him a 2011 sensation after only going 8.1 IP in his last two starts combined.
The Bats are Hot… But That’s the Phoenix Heat’s Fault
I mean, have you ever been to Phoenix in the summer months? It’s death outside. I realize it’s September, but that’s still a summer month for Arizona, as are seven to nine other months there. For a team that’s been slithering closer to playoff contention, they don’t have any super-stand-out-crazy-hot batters doing the work for them. Sure, Miguel Montero has been hitting (.404 wOBA L7, .362 wOBA overall), Jason Kubel has been mashing a little bit (.395 wOBA L7, 2 HR L7; .358 wOBA overall, 29 HR overall), but it’s also a point that outside of John McDonald (.063 wOBA L7, -80 wRC+ L7; . 275 wOBA overall, 63 wRC+ overall), nobody is particularly cold over the past week. Kubel (29) and Hill (22) are still the only 2 DBacks with 20+ HR, but Goldschmidt (18), Montero (15), Johnson (14), Young (14), Upton (13) are all legitimate power sources. Chris Young hasn’t appeared in a game since September 7th, as he’s healing from a quad strain. The primary base-stealers on the club are Goldschmidt (16), Hill (14), Upton (15), and Parra (13).
By averaging 6 runs/game in the last six game, you’d figure there might be some guys doing work, and there are. One of those guys leading the charge might have a new nickname of “MVP” when the regular season ends: Buster Posey (.588 wOBA L7, 2 HR L7; .402 wOBA overall, 21 HR overall) has been fantastic in the second half for the Giants. Not to be ignored, Gregor Blanco (.450 wOBA L7, 2 SB L7; .312 wOBA overall, 22 SB overall), and Angel Pagan (.443 wOBA L7, 2 SB L7; .337 wOBA, 25 SB overall) have been working to set the table up for Giants rallies. Marco Scutaro has also been a more than decent contributor to the offense (.385 wOBA L7, .316 wOBA overall) of late. It’s not lost on anybody who is ice cold: that of the Panda, Kung Fu (.098 wOBA L7, -50 wRC+; .319 wOBA overall, 101 wRC+ overall), who may be hurting more than we comprehend at the moment, or could just be tired because he’s so…. exhausted after playing a lot of games in a baseball season (I already wrote an article on fat, I don’t need to go back to it here).
How wild will it get in Arizona this weekend? Can the Giants finally put Arizona away for now so that they can focus on clinching the West? Arizona is the one team in the West that worries me the most, especially as the Dodgers continue to be of the LOLs Angeles variety.
Friday: Giants win (Skaggs tires, Cain rises)
Saturday: Giants win (Zito throws a gem because I’m not watching this game due to being at a separate baseball event)
Sunday: DBacks win (It’s not that Vogelsong will stink it up, it’s that the DBacks will do just enough)
Hopefully the Giants can come home with a single-digit magic number, giving them a chance to do some celebrating at AT&T like they did in 2010, but without the last game dramatics.