Posted tagged ‘Chase Utley’

Robbie Cano knows BOOM!

November 28, 2010

After a stellar MVP-esque season from the New York Yankees star second baseman, Robinson Cano, I am obligated to reflect upon his monster season and look ahead to what we can expect from him in 2011, being that he’s my boy and all.

To many, 2010 was a coming out party for Robbie Cano. While Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Derek Jeter slumped for much of the season, Robbie put the team on his back- especially in the first half- posting a line of .319/.381/.534/.389/145 with a 6.4 fWAR over the span of 160 games and 696 PA. His bWAR was 6.1, giving him an aWAR (average WAR) of 6.3 (after you round up). He set career bests in OBP, SLG, wOBA, wRC+, HR, BB%, and WAR. When award season rolled around, Robbie swept the Gold Glove/Silver Slugger awards, implying he was the best second baseman in baseball this season, and finished third in AL MVP voting. It was quite the season for a kid who not too long ago had a pathetic 0.2 fWAR during a season in which he was benched for a lack of effort.

But was 2010 really a coming out party for Cano? In 2006, his second season in the majors, he posted a 2.9 fWAR in a shortened season, but his WAR/700 was 4.0 on the nose. In 2007 he posted a 4.7 fWAR and in 2009 he had a 4.4 fWAR. So before 2010, he already had great seasons before his 27th birthday. Thus, his 2010 really shouldn’t come as a surprise. He was simply developing. Granted, there was some luck involved, as is always the case when someone has a really good or really bad season. But as he is approaching his theoretical peak years, his true talent level is rising. Which is why with a little fortune on his side, he should have been expected to improve upon his 4-5 WAR seasons.

Moreover, the UZR scale that fangraphs uses hurts him. If one were to look at his bWAR, his career WAR total would jump from 18.7 to 23.9. His WAR totals from 2005-2009 would all increase. In fact, in the three seasons I highlighted in the previous paragraphs, his WAR, in order, would jump to 4.1, 5.6, and 5.1. That’s two near MVP level seasons instead of “simply” great seasons. The reason being defense.

UZR has Cano has a -36.8 fielder over the life of his career. Rally has him as a +31 fielder. I prefer UZR so I put more stock in those numbers, but DSR has him at -3 for his career. They say UZR needs to be paired with your eyes and the last two years, according to the FSR, he has been +13. UZR has him at -3.4 over the past two years and DSR has him at +14. I think it’s safe to say that Robbie has been and is an average-above average fielder, NOT the terrible fielder that UZR thinks he is. So his fWAR actually undermines Robbie’s defensive value, and thus, his overall value. If you to replace UZR with DSR, Robbie’s career WAR would climb from 18.7 to around 22.0. So yeah, Cano is probably even a little better than you would think by looking at his fWAR alone and not analyzing what comprises it. I mean, he has a career 18.7 fWAR which says his defensive value has been -36.8 runs. BUT, 21.5 of those runs are from his rookie season alone, when he was a terrible defender. I’m not saying those defensive runs allowed shouldn’t count, but they greatly skew his current totals, which conceals the fact that Robbie is actually decent fielder now.

That’s enough of a rant for now though. Let’s take a look at how Robbie put together his amazing season. The first thing I want to mention is PLATE DISCIPLINE. While it’s not a high mark, Robbie had a BB% of 8.2%, which was above his career 4.2% BB% entering the season. In fact, of his 186 career BB, 31% are from his 2010 season alone. What’s interesting though is that he didn’t actually seem to improve upon his plate discipline peripherals. His O-Swing% was a career high 36.5% while the rest of his peripherals are in line with his career averages. So this begs the question- what can we expect from Robbie in 2011?

Well, prior to the 2010 season, Robbie mentioned that A-Rod told him to take more “A-swings” in order to really drive the ball. Kevin Long also worked a ton with Robbie doing the “home-run drill” to help him pull the ball and develop, well, home-run power. The result was a career high ISO and SLG. In previous seasons, Robbie would show glimpses of greatness, but was often inconsistent because he would lose focus- whether it be defensively or offensively. That is not to be confused with work ethic. Whenever he slumped, the MSM would claim he was being lazy because of his laid back on-field demeanor. To me though, that’s lazy journalism. Anyone who follows the Yankees knows that, in large part due to Alex Rodriguez and Larry Bowa, Robbie is arguably the hardest working Yankee. He ALWAYS shows up for the optional BP. He gets to the park early, works his butt off in the off-season, and worked on his fielding so much that he went from TERRIBLE to above average with the glove in just a couple seasons.

2010 was the culmination of all his hard work. He finally had a consistent season where he suffered few lapses- defensively and offensively. In past years with the glove, he would go four months without an error and then commit three in a week. That cold stretch never happened this past season. His future success will depend on consistency. Can he keep the focus for another 162 straight games? If so, then we’re looking at an annual MVP candidate who will provide reliable defense and maintain an average BB rate. If not, then we’re looking at a guy who is unpredictable- great defense and hot hitting for weeks or months at a time, but also long stretches of some terrible performance.

Cano’s salary will be $10mil in 2011 and then climb to $14mil in 2012 and $15mil in 2013 if his options are picked up. So he will no longer be a “cheap” player for the Yankees. Considering the rising average age of the team and what that average age will be in 2012-2013, the Yankees need Robinson Cano to maintain his focus and continue to get better. If so, he could emerge as the best player on baseball’s most recognizable team. Hell, he could supplant Chase Utley as the premiere second baseman of baseball. On the other hand, he could become another overpriced good-but-not-great Bronx Bomber.

2011 will be a pivotal year for Robinson Cano if he wants to truly prove his worth. Here’s hoping he goes BOOM.

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Phillies in trouble

June 30, 2010

Entering the season, the Phillies had been to back to back World Series in 2008 and 2009. Many people had them pegged as the best team in the National League. Add in the fact that they picked up Doc Halladay and you could forgetaboutit.

But with the half-way point of the season approaching, the Phillies sit in third place at 41-35, three games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. Meanwhile, Chase Utley, the Phillies best player, has been placed on the DL along with Placido Polanco.

The road ahead could be brutal to Philadelphia. Greg Dobbs, who is replacing Polanco, and Wilson Valdez, who is replacing Utley, are both below average players. Yes, Philly still has Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth, and Shane Victorino in the lineup, but they are missing out on two players who have combined for a 5.2 WAR so far. The drop off between that and their replacements is HUGE. If Utley and Polanco are out for an extended period of time, it could be Philly’s death sentence as the Braves do not look to be letting up, and the Mets will only be getting stronger with the addition of Carlos Beltran.

One break for Philly is the fact that the AS break is coming up shortly. If they can manage their way through the next twelve games, then they could be fine. But if Utley and Polanco aren’t back by the time the break ends, it could mean serious trouble. After opening the second half with four against the Cubs, the Phillies have four games with the Cardinals and four games with the Rockies- two solid ball clubs.

I never would have imagined this scenario back in March, but the Phillies appear likely to miss out on the postseason for the first time since 2006.

Funny NL MVP voting

November 24, 2009

The 2009 MLB award season has come and gone at last. The always dumb BBWAA had a surprisingly good season, but they couldn’t resist going out with a bang. Click here to see the ridiculousness that was the NL MVP voting results.

I mean, they were so close, SO CLOSE, to having a good season. They got both Cy Young’s AND MVP’s right. While there were some mistakes (i.e. Ben Zobrist not even making the top five), the mistakes weren’t so bad. That is, until, today.

Where oh where should I begin? How about with Chase Utley. He finished eighth. Let me repeat- he finished eighth. EIGHTH! Eighth. Eighth. Not second. Not third. Eighth. What a joke. Seriously. That’s all I can say. If there was ANY NL player that could even remotely challenge Pujols, it was Utley.  His 7.6 WAR was second best in the NL to Albert Pujols among position players. He won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. Outside Pujols, only three players were within a win of Chase Utley. His UZR/150 was also the fourth best in the NL. Some guy voted him tenth. It’s sad that while Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard got MVP’s, Chase Utley was only the second best player in the NL the past few seasons and still gets no recognition from the media.

Other jokes:

– Yunel Escobar got a fifth place vote. This is the worst vote of all time. Well, almost the worst of all time because…

– Jeremy Affeldt got a vote. This is not a typo. I mean it.

– Ryan Zimmerman was 27/30 with just one more vote than Jeremy Affeldt. I mean, he only had the best UZR/150 in the NL along with the fourth best WAR among position players.

– Tim Lincecum won the Cy Young but finished behind Chris Carpenter AND Adam Wainwright for MVP voting. Huh?

4PARL end of season awards

October 8, 2009

It’s that time of the year again where people start mentioning their official votes for MLB season awards. If we had a vote, this is how it’d go down:

AL MVP:

Disco- Joe Mauer

Bballer- Zack Greinke

Trekker- Joe Mauer

Twaco- Joe Mauer

NL MVP:

Disco- Albert Pujols

Bballer- Albert Pujols

Trekker- Albert Pujols

Twaco- Albert Pujols

AL Cy Young:

Disco- Zack Greinke

Bballer- Zack Greinke

Trekker- Zack Greinke

Twaco- Zack Greinke

NL Cy Young:

Disco- Tim Lincecum

Bballer- Tim Lincecum

Trekker- Chris Carpenter

Twaco- Tim Lincecum

AL Rookie of Year:

Disco- Brett Anderson

Bballer- Elvis Andrus

Trekker- Jeff Niemann

Twaco- Brett Anderson

NL Rookie of Year:

Disco- Andrew McCutchen

Bballer- Garret Jones

Trekker- Andrew McCutchen

Twaco- Andrew McCutchen

AL DHL Delivery Man of Year:

Disco- Mariano Rivera

Bballer- Andrew Bailey

Trekker- Mariano Rivera

Twaco- Mariano Rivera

NL DHL Delivery Man of Year:

Disco- Jon Broxton

Bballer- Jon Broxton

Trekker- Jon Broxton

Twaco- Jon Broxton

Disco’s Silver Sluggers:

C- Joe Mauer; Brian McCann

1b- Miguel Cabrera; Albert Pujols

2b- Ben Zobrist; Chase Utley

3b- Alex Rodriguez; Pablo Sandoval

SS- Derek Jeter; Hanley Ramirez

OF- Jason Bay, JD Drew, Shin-soo Choo; Ryan Braun, Adam Dunn, Justin Upton

DH- Adam Lind

*Kevin Youkilis deserves props. He split between 1b/3b so I didn’t give him the benefit at 1b or 3b.

Bballer’s Silver Sluggers:

C- Joe Mauer; Brian McCann

1b- Miguel Cabrera; Albert Pujols

2b- Ben Zobrist; Chase Utley

3b- Kevin Youkilis; Ryan Zimmerman

SS- Derek Jeter; Hanley Ramirez

OF- Jason Bay, JD Drew, Adam Lind; Justin Upton, Jayson Werth, Ryan Braun

DH- Hideki Matsui

Trekker’s Silver Sluggers:

C- Joe Mauer; Brian McCann

1b- Miguel Cabrera; Albert Pujols

2b- Ben Zobrist; Chase Utley

3b- Alex Rodriguez; Pablo Sandoval

SS- Derek Jeter; Hanley Ramirez

OF- Jason Bay, Adam Lind, Shin-Soo Choo; Justin Upton, Adam Dunn, Ryan Braun

DH- Jason Kubel

Twaco’s Silver Sluggers:

C- Joe Mauer; Brian McCann

1b- Kevin Youkilis; Albert Pujols

2b- Ben Zobrist; Chase Utley

3B- Alex Rodriguez; Pablo Sandoval

SS- Derek Jeter; Hanley Ramirez

OF- Jason Bay, Adam Lind, JD Drew; Justin Upton, Ryan Braun, Adam Dunn

DH- Hideki Matsui

Disco’s Gold Gloves:

C- Kurt Suzuki; Yadier Molina

1b- Mark Teixeira; James Loney

2b- Chase Utley; Dustin Pedroia

3B- Evan Longoria; Ryan Zimmerman

SS- Elvis Andrus; Troy Tulowitzki

OF- Franklin Guitierez, Ryan Sweeney, David DeJesus; Nyjer Morgan, Mike Cameron, Randy Winn

Bballer’s Gold Glovers:

C- Joe Mauer; Yadier Molina

1b- Kevin Youkilis; Adrian Gonzalez

2b- Placido Polanco; Chase Utley

3b- Evan Longoria; Ryan Zimmerman

SS- Jason Bartlett; JJ Hardy

OF- Franklin Guitierez, Carl Crawford, BJ Upton; Mike Cameron, Colby Rasmus, Raul Ibanez

Trekker’s Gold Glovers:

C- Joe Mauer; Yadier Molina

1b- Mark Teixeira; Adrian Gonzalez

2b- Dustin Pedroia; Chase Utley

3b- Evan Longoria; Ryan Zimmerman

SS- Elvis Andrus; Rafael Furcal

OF- Ichiro, Franklin Guitierez, Carl Crawford; Nyjer Morgan, Mike Cameron, Colby Rasmus

Twaco’s Gold Glovers:

C- Joe Mauer; Yadier Molina

1b- Mark Teixeira; Albert Pujols

2b- Dustin Pedroia; Chase Utley

3B- Evan Longoria; Ryan Zimmerman

SS- Elvis Andrus; Rafael Furcal

OF- Nelson Cruz, Franklin Guitierez, David DeJesus; Justin Upton, Mike Cameron, Raul Ibanez

Handicapping the Awards – NL MVP Version

July 17, 2009

There are certain players that come around seemingly once a generation that have the ability to command the MVP award every single season. Unfortunately for every other player in the National League we are currently in the prime years of one of those players. That man of course, Albert Pujols, 1st baseman of the St. Louis Cardinals.

That doesn’t mean the 2009 National League MVP vote is guaranteed after 90 games but Prince Albert certainly seems to be running away with the award. None the less here is a breakdown with a review of the 1st half and 2nd half projections.

The Man, the Future Legend, and the MVP Favorite:

Albert Pujols – 1B – St. Louis Cardinals (5.1 WAR)

As stated above the 2009 NL MVP is seemingly Albert Pujols to lose after a little more than half the season. It no longer seems like a question of Pujols being the MVP favorite but rather if he can actually win the Triple Crown. Posting a line of .332/.456/.723 with a major league leading 32 home runs and 87 RBI lead people to believe he can accomplish this feat. More amazing though is that ZIPS projects an almost equally good 2nd half leading to a final line of .332/.450/.690 with 51 home runs and 144 RBI. Regardless is Albert delivers the fans of St. Louis a division title that stat line would almost assuredly bring home his third NL MVP.

2nd Tier…Those in contention if Albert Falters

Chase Utley – 2B – Philadelphia Phillies (4.8 WAR)

“Nothing is certain but death and taxes”…Chase Utley being the best 2nd baseman in baseball and not getting the MVP recognition come the end of September is close to adding itself to that short list. With a line of .312/.429/.572 his usual stellar defense (albeit with only a 1.6 UZR to this point in the season) Utley has once again been the best player on a very good Phillies team. If he can match the ZIPS projections for the rest of the season of .300/.395/.587 to finish at .307/.413/.562 with 35 homeruns and 114 RBI there is no doubt he will once again deserve to win an MVP but it’s almost as certain that he will finish behind his own not so deserving team mates.

Prince Fielder – 1B – Milwaukee Brewers (4.0 WAR)

When it comes to the MVP vote the BBWAA whether right or wrong wants to attach team success to an individual award and in the case of Prince Fielder along with our remaining nominees MVP hopes could sink or float with the success or failures of their team. In almost any other year a 4.0 WAR with a line of .315/.444/.621 would have any 1B in MVP contention (but with Pujols in the league it’s not like every other year). A final projection of .304/.426/.605 with 43 Homeruns and 140+ RBI and a Milwaukee division title or wild card spot could vault the big man up many voters’ ballots.

Hanley Ramirez – SS – Florida Marlins (3.9 WAR)

The young short stop of the Marlins seems destined to compete with Mauer as the best post Pujols player in a few years but his performance in 2009 should not be discounted. With improved defense and his annual electrifying offensive production Hanley Ramirez should once again be in the mix for NL MVP at season’s end. With a first half of .346/.408/.562 and 61 RBI, Ramirez like Fielder and Utley would be serious MVP threats in almost any other season. If the Marlins centerpiece can increase that 65% stolen base percentage to a more respectable level and continue to improve his defense along with matching his final line projection of .333/.402/.553 he could be the most serious threat to Pujols for the MVP and stand in his way of the triple crown by winning the NL batting title.

The Long Shot

Pablo Sandoval – 1B/3B – San Francisco Giants (3.1 WAR)

Every baseball season a team seemingly comes out of nowhere to make a charge for the playoffs. In the 2009 National League it is the pitching heavy San Francisco Giants. Luckily for Sandoval the media could fall in love with the loveable ‘Kung Fu Panda’ whom if he could match his first half of .333/.385/.578      15 home runs and 55 RBI and lead the anemic Giants offense to a wild card spot his name could be that out of nowhere candidate we seem to find every October. Sandoval’s 2nd half ZIPS projections of .298/.333/.488 don’t indicate that we’re in for an MVP run but weirder things have happened.

Predictions

I realize that I left off the Dodgers superstar CF Matt Kemp, but almost half his value is in his defense (10.2 UZR) and I would be surprised if he maintained his Andruw Jones like defensive performance for the entire season. As for Raul Ibanez he has been magnificent but with Utley and Ryan Howard destined for another big Homerun and RBI second half I can’t find the way he actually wins the NL MVP 2009. With all that said, I have to go with the most boring route possible. Unless something dramatic happens Albert Pujols is going to win his 3rd National League MVP and officially supplant himself as one of the true legends of the game.