Tag:Dustin Pedroia
Posted on: January 12, 2012 10:35 am
Edited on: January 13, 2012 10:50 pm
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Would You Rather Have: Cano or Pedroia?



By Matt Snyder


As we continue the final trek toward spring training, we also continue the series that's gonna get us there. Our first installment of Who Would You Rather Have got some pretty good discussion going, as it pitted Roy Halladay against Justin Verlander. I believe we have an equally tough decision in front of us this time around, too.

For this installment, we look to baseball's most intense rivalry ... specifically the second basemen: Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia. I feel compelled to point out that we seemed to get a lot of non-answers on Twitter and in the comments (like "Tim Lincecum" to the Verlander vs. Halladay question), and I'm thinking those people didn't understand that this is an ongoing series. I can assure you that many big names from across America -- like Lincecum -- will be included at some point. You'll also have a decision between two young NL West sluggers Saturday, for example. Patience ...

Anyhow, it's Cano vs. Pedroia now. Red Sox vs. Yankees. Beantown vs. the Bronx. Let's get it on.

The case for Cano

While he was already a very good hitter, Cano has developed into one of the most feared hitters in baseball over the past two seasons, finishing in the top six of MVP voting both times. His triple slash line of .311/.365/.533 from 2010-11 is a beauty for a second baseman, not to mention the 28 homers, 46 doubles, 118 RBI and 104 runs he posted last season. It was good enough for Cano to bring home the Silver Slugger for the second consecutive season.

A model of durability as well, Cano hasn't played in less than 159 games in any of the past five seasons. Pedroia only managed 75 games in an injury-plagued 2010 season, so that's a point for Cano.

The case for Pedroia

On the other hand, Pedroia played in 157, 154 and 159 games, respectively, in three of the past four seasons, so it's not like he's injury prone. Pedroia, the 2007 Rookie of the Year, also won the 2008 MVP. And Pedroia can do it all. He hit 21 home runs last season while stealing 26 bases and also winning a Gold Glove (his second). His .307/.387/.474 line is competitive with Cano's, too. Where Pedroia has a bit less home-run power, he makes up for it by getting on base. He holds a .373 to .347 advantage in career OBP.

Pedroia has one World Series ring, but so does Cano.

Cano will make $14 million in 2012 while Pedroia will make $8 million, but Pedroia's salary increases in the next several years while Cano is a free agent after a 2013 club option. Age is a veritable wash, as Cano is roughly 10 months older.

Really, any which way you can divide this up, it's a very close call. Many advanced defensive metrics show Pedroia with a significant edge in range, hence the 2011 Fielding Bible award -- meaning the stat crowd views him as the best defensive second baseman in all of baseball. Cano is viewed as no better than average defensively from that perspective. Cano did win the 2010 AL Gold Glove, but Gold Glove voting has produced dubious results at times -- like Rafael Palmeiro taking the honors in 1999 while playing only 28 games in the field. Unlike many younger bloggers and writers, I don't totally discount the Gold Glove, but I do trust the Fielding Bible awards more. Of course, using either one gives the defensive edge to Pedroia -- and you could argue Cano only won the 2010 Gold Glove because Pedroia was hurt anyway, which I would.

Our call

I'm going to go with Pedroia here in a photo finish, the closest of calls, based upon the defensive separation. The two are very close across the board. Just as with yesterday's pick, I could go either way and there definitely isn't a wrong answer. In fact, we have over 20 of these posts lined up, and this may well be the hardest choice among them.

But now it's your turn. Vote and comment away.

Fan Vote:



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Posted on: January 7, 2012 12:10 am
 

Under-30 players building Hall of Fame foundation



By Matt Snyder


T-minus two days until the Hall of Fame vote for the 2012 induction is unveiled, so we'll continue talking about the Hall of Fame in this relatively slow time of the year. This time around, we'll take a look at active players younger than 30 who have laid a foundation that makes a run to Cooperstown possible.

Now, make no mistake about it, none of these players are close to having completed their big-league careers nor are they currently close to being locks to the Hall of Fame. Still, some are well on their way and others have started a journey that may push them into the discussion in a decade or so.

Obviously things could change in just one season -- just take a look below at a certain catcher from Minnesota. Or think about how good it looked for Grady Sizemore three years ago at this time before injuries completely derailed him. And we have to understand that just a few seasons of being an elite player doesn't necessarily mean the longevity will be there -- take the cases of Fernando Valenzuela and Dwight Gooden, for example. For various reasons, careers can get off track. Still, it's fun to take a look at which young players have built a possible Hall-of-Fame foundation.

By no means is this an exhaustive list, but here are 20 under-30 guys who could be on the right track, in alphabetical order (age in parentheses):

Hall of Fame coverage
Miguel Cabrera (28) - The first name we list might well be the most impressive case on here. In eight full seasons (he appeared in 87 games as a rookie) Cabrera has been an All-Star six times and finished in the top five of MVP voting five times. He's hit .317/.395/.555, which is good for a 149 OPS-plus. Saying Cabrera is just about halfway through his career is probably reasonable and he already has 277 homers and 984 RBI.

Robinson Cano (29) - He wouldn't have appeared on this list until the past two seasons, but Cano has grown into one of the more dangerous hitters in baseball. He'd need to continue this pace for another six to eight years at least before being a Hall candidate, though.

Prince Fielder (27) - Six full seasons -- with 39 games in '05 -- have yielded 230 homers and 656 RBI. Fielder also has an impressive .390 on-base percentage and a whopping .929 OPS (143 OPS-plus). He's already finished in the top four of MVP voting three times. Can his robust body hold up long-term? If it does, he's probably headed to Cooperstown. Baseball-Reference.com's top similar statistical player through age 27 is Hall of Famer Eddie Murray.

Adrian Gonzalez (29) - Did he get started too late? Gonzalez didn't become a full-timer until '06 and wasn't a dominant force until '09. Still, four All-Star Games, three Gold Gloves and two Top 10 finishes in MVP voting. He also has a career .889 OPS (140 OPS-plus) and over 1,100 hits already.

Felix Hernandez (25) - We've seen so many pitchers flame out over the years after huge starts -- I mentioned two in the intro -- but King Felix basically only needs to stay healthy and keep his head on straight. He's already 85-67 with a 3.24 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 1,264 strikeouts. He has one Cy Young and also finished second once. And he could conceivably pitch 15 more seasons. Even conservatively -- assuming health -- you have to say he has 12 more in him.

Matt Kemp (27) - After a runner-up finish in MVP voting this past season, Kemp inked a huge contract with the Dodgers. He could be the face of the franchise for a decade. The power-speed combo (128 HR, 144 steals) along with a Gold Glove shows he can do it all.

Clayton Kershaw (23) - He went 21-5 with a 2.28 ERA, 248 strikeouts, an All-Star appearance and a Cy Young award last season. At 23. Enough said.

Tim Lincecum (27) - Two Cy Youngs, four All-Star appearances and a World Series ring so far. Not too shabby. Like Hernandez, Kershaw and all other great young pitchers, health and avoiding major off-field trouble are the biggest roadblocks. But there is serious foundation and talent here. I wouldn't bet against Lincecum. 

Evan Longoria (26) - He's going to be the face of the Rays for a long time and his arrival coincided with them shedding the laughingstock label. The 2008 AL Rookie of the Year has three All-Star appearances, two Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger. His 136 OPS-plus bodes well. But his average dropped 50 points last season. Harbinger or aberration? I'd guess the latter.

Joe Mauer (28) - Would've seemed a lot more firm here last year at this time. The disaster of a season doesn't erase the amazing good Mauer did through the first six-plus seasons in his career, but it raises health questions moving forward. His bat means a whole lot less if he's playing first base instead of catching.

Andrew McCutchen (25) - He already has 95 doubles, 19 triples, 51 homers and 78 stolen bases. He has an .822 OPS (123 OPS-plus). What if he gets even better and is the driving force behind a complete Pirates turnaround?

Dustin Pedroia (28) - The 2007 Rookie of the Year followed up that act with a 2008 MVP. He's hitting .305/.373/.463 in his six-year career, while he's also won a World Series ring, two Gold Gloves and been to the All-Star Game three times.

Hanley Ramirez (28) - He would've been one of the best bets two years ago, but he's now mired in a two-year decline. Goes to show how quickly things can change. Of course, there's plenty of time to get back to 2007-09 form.

Jose Reyes (28) - In six "full" seasons (we'll say at least 125 games played), Reyes has been among the best players in baseball. There's no questioning that. Can he stay on the diamond enough to make himself a viable Hall candidate? It doesn't look great, but the talent is there.

Troy Tulowitzki (27) - Tulowitzki brings in three straight top-eight finishes in MVP voting and is the premier defensive shortstop in the National League. He really only has four seasons worth counting toward a possible Hall induction so far, though, so he's gonna need about eight to 10 more.

Justin Upton (24) - The potential here is insane. He came in fourth in MVP voting last season and should only get better. Again, there are many ways for younger players to derail, but Upton has all the tools to one day hit Cooperstown. Consider me a believer.

Justin Verlander (28) - Yes, he's only 28. Verlander already has 107 wins, 1,215 strikeouts, four All-Star appearances (that is, he made the team, not pitched in the game), a Cy Young and, yes, an AL MVP. He was already one of the better aces in baseball, but then went into a new stratosphere last season. If that continues, he's a cinch to make the Hall. We'll see.

Joey Votto (28) - In just four full seasons, Votto has made a name for himself as a marquee slugger. He won the 2010 MVP and followed it up with a stellar 2011 campaign as well. His career .955 OPS (151 OPS-plus) is incredible and he added a Gold Glove last season, too.

Jered Weaver (29) - Weaver was quietly really good until last season, and you can now drop the "quietly." He was the All-Star Game starter and could have easily won the Cy Young Award, if Verlander didn't happen to be putting up a historic season in the same league. In six seasons, Weaver is 82-47 with a 3.31 ERA and 977 strikeouts. Considering his age, though, this is a pretty tall order. He'll need another eight years of dominance, I'd guess.

David Wright (29) - I think I would have felt pretty good about him after 2008, but he's fallen off a slight bit since then. Perhaps the change in the ballpark dimensions helps, in addition to some health -- for himself and teammates. Wright does already have five All-Star appearances and a .300/.380/.508 line with 183 homers and 151 steals.



I think my four best bets right now would be, in no particular order: Verlander, Cabrera, Hernandez and Upton. Could be a lot more, could be a lot less. All 20 of these guys have plenty of time to either build a resume or screw it up. History tells us there's no chance all 20 make the cut, and even guessing half of these guys getting to Cooperstown is a big stretch.

Feel free to add more names in the comments, as there definitely isn't a wrong answer in this department.

Coming Sunday: "Asterisk" guys with Hall-type resumes
Monday: 2012 Hall of Fame inductee(s) announced
Monday: Looking ahead at the 2013 first-year eligibles
Monday: Looking at the '14, '15 and '16 first-year eligibles

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Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:02 am
Edited on: December 13, 2011 12:24 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Boston Red Sox



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

One of the main reasons we came up with this exercise was because of the massive amount of fighting in the comments sections over who "buys" their teams instead of drafting and developing their own talent. In some cases, the accusations are true. In others, they aren't. While these Red Sox don't have Adrian Gonzalez or David Ortiz or Josh Beckett, you'll certainly see several key, familiar names.

Lineup

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
4. Hanley Ramirez, DH
5. David Murphy, LF
6. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
7. Jed Lowrie, SS
8. Kelly Shoppach, C
9. Josh Reddick, RF

Starting Rotation

1. Jon Lester
2. Clay Buchholz
3. Justin Masterson
4. Anibal Sanchez
5. Carl Pavano

Bullpen

Closer - Jonathan Papelbon
Set up - Daniel Bard, Rafael Betancourt, Frank Francisco, Hideki Okajima
Long - Kyle Weiland, Daisuke Matsuzaka? (Not sure I could stomach that ... )

Notable Bench Players

Ryan Lavarnway, Lars Anderson, Freddy Sanchez, Engel Beltre

What's Good?

The top of the order is sick. If Hanley Ramirez had one of his good years, that's a top four that few in baseball could match. The entire pitching staff is really, really strong, too. Lester as an ace works fine and Masterson and Sanchez are pretty darn good in those slots. There was one point last season (May) when Sanchez was almost as good as anyone. Then you move into the bullpen and the back-end is what it was in 2011, with Bard and Papelbon. Here, though, we get to add Betancourt and Francisco to the mix. That's quite a bridge to Papelbon, and remember, this with a good rotation.

What's Not?

The lineup thins out quickly. It's not awful by any stretch, because Lowrie, Shoppach and Reddick are a decent 7-9, but Murphy isn't good enough to be a fifth hitter in a great lineup and we still can't be sure how Rizzo pans out. Also, there is no depth, either on the bench or in the bullpen. The onus is entirely on the main guys to shoulder the entire workload.

Comparison to real 2011

Let's avoid all the off-field crap and just focus on the issue at hand. Is this team better than the one that was in the AL playoff race until the final out of the season? The offense isn't as good, that's for sure. Most of the other spots are at least close, but the Rizzo/Gonzalez gap at first base is gigantic. Pitching-wise, though, this group is better, top to bottom. There's no Josh Beckett, but there also isn't a full season of John Lackey with mixed in Dice-K and then the spare-part injury replacements they had to use for most of the season. The real-life Red Sox won 90 games and this group feels like a similar one in terms of wins. It's not elite, but it's pretty good.

Next: Detroit Tigers

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Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:05 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 7:07 pm
 

Rookie award may not predict future success

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Rookie of the Year awards are unique among baseball awards in that they are somewhat less about an individual year's performance as much as they are for the hope of better things to come. A Rookie of the Year win is a footnote on any Hall of Fame argument, not a bullet point. Meanwhile, any Hall of Fame argument will start with MVP wins for position players and Cy Young trophies for starting pitchers. If you have those, you have an argument, and if you won Rookie of the Year, that's nice.

Rookie of the Year
Miller
The Rookie of the Year award voting went exactly as Scott Miller predicted.
Read>>
Related links

No, Rookie of the Year is something to dream on -- there's the potential and what a player could become based upon a solid rookie year.

Jeremy Hellickson and Craig Kimbrel may end up being the best players of the 2010 rookie class, but it wouldn't be a real shock if they don't.

With that in mind, I wanted to look back on the past Rookie of the Year winners and what players had the best careers after winning the award and which ones peaked in their first year. Because this particular argument needs time for perspective, I've broken up the last 20 years in five-year increments. Below are the winners of the awards each year for both leagues, as well as their Wins Above Replacement (from Baseball-Reference.com) for both their rookie year and their career, as well as a decision on the best player in retrospect, the worst and the best duo from one year.

 

2006-2010 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
2010 Neftali Feliz 2.3 5.0 Buster Posey 3.1 4.4
2009 Andrew Bailey  3.9 7.2  Chris Coghlan 2.1 2.8
2008 Evan Longoria  3.8 24.1 Geovany Soto 4.1 10.1
2007 Dustin Pedroia  4.3 24.3 Ryan Braun  1.5 21.8
2006 Justin Verlander  3.7 27.2 Hanley Ramirez  5.2 29.3

Best: This is where we need perspective -- and time. Right now it looks like you could go with any of six candidates -- Justin Verlander (AL 2006), Hanley Ramirez (NL 2006), Dustin Pedroia (AL 2007), Ryan Braun (NL 2007), Evan Longoria (AL 2008) and Buster Posey (NL 2010). In 10 years this may be easier to pick, but right now it's just way too close to call. Of the group, Ramirez has the highest career WAR.

Worst: Again, this is still way too early to call, but Chris Coghlan (NL 2009) may take this dubious honor. There's plenty of time for him to turn it around, but he finished 2011 hitting .230 at Triple-A New Orleans.

Best duo: Another toss-up -- 2006 had Ramirez and Verlander, while 2007 featured Pedroia and Braun. Check back in 10 years and this may seem to be an easier choice, but right now it's too close to call.



2001-2005 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
2005 Huston Street 3.2 10.7 Ryan Howard 2.4 23.1
2004 Bobby Crosby 1.4 5.0 Jason Bay  2.2 19.7
2003  Angel Berroa 4.0 3.3 Dontrelle Willis 3.7 13.0
2002 Eric Hinske  4.0 10.3 Jason Jennings 1.7 7.4
2001 Ichiro Suzuki 7.6 54.5 Albert Pujols 6.9 88.7

Best: Albert Pujols (NL 2001). He may be the best player of our generation and best right-handed hitter of all time. With apologies to Ichiro Suzuki (AL 2001) and Ryan Howard (NL 2005), it's Pujols and it's not close.

Worst: Oh, Angel Berroa (AL 2003). Acquired in the deal that sent Johnny Damon and Mark Ellis to Oakland, Berroa last appeared in the big leagues in 2009. The Royals shortstop won the award over Tampa Bay's Rocco Baldelli and Hideki Matsui, earning the scorn of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. 

Best duo: Pujols and Suzuki would be a heck of a Hall of Fame class, not to mention a rookie class. Suzuki won not only the Rookie of the Year in 2001, he also took home the American League MVP.

 

1996-2000 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
2000 Kazuhiro Sasaki 1.5 4.0 Rafael Furcal 3.6 33.1
1999 Carlos Beltran  4.4 60.8 Scott Williamson  2.7 8.2
1998  Ben Grieve 2.5 6.7 Kerry Wood 3.7 24.9
1997 Nomar Garciaparra  5.9 42.5  Scott Rolen 4.5 66.2
1996 Derek Jeter 2.6 70.4  Todd Hollandsworth 1.3 6.5

Best: Scott Rolen (NL 1997) and Carlos Beltran (AL 1999) have had fantastic careers, but Derek Jeter (AL 1996) is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and a baseball icon. Jeter also has the highest career WAR among the group of rookies.

Worst: This one is tough, if you guy by WAR, it's Kazuhiro Sasaki (AL 2000), who had just a 4.0 career WAR. However, Sasaki was 32 when he started in the United States and played just four seasons in the majors. In addition to his Rookie of the Year, he made the All-Star team in 2001 and 2002, recording 129 saves in four seasons. I'm going to take Ben Grieve (AL 1998) slightly over Todd Hollandsworth (NL 1996) based solely on Hollandsworth holding on longer (12 years to nine) and finding his late-career niche as a pinch hitter, while Grieve did appear in the majors after his 30th birthday -- and just 17 after his 29th birthday.

Best duo: How about Rolen and Nomar Garciaparra (AL 1997)? Garciapparra never quite lived up to the rival to Alex Rodriguez and Jeter as the greatest shortstop of his generation, but he was in the conversation for a time there. While each year from 1996-2000 had at least one pretty good pick, 1997 was the only one to produce two players that finished with double-digit career WAR.



1991-1996 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
1995 Marty Cordova 3.0 6.4 Hideo Nomo 4.5 50.6
1994  Bob Hamelin 2.5 2.4 Raul Mondesi  2.2 27.2
1993  Tim Salmon 5.2 37.6  Mike Piazza 7.0 59.1 
1992 Pat Listach  4.5 3.9  Eric Karros 0.3 9.0
1991  Chuck Knoblauch 2.3 41.2 Jeff Bagwell 4.7 79.9

Best: WAR likes Jeff Bagwell (NL 1991), the Hall of Fame will like Mike Piazza (1993). Either way, it's tough to go wrong. Unlike the Hall of Fame voters, I'll take Bagwell over Piazza, but can see both sides of the argument. I"m in the camp that Bagwell is one of the more underrated players of his generation. 

Worst: Yet again, the award goes to a Royal. Bob Hamelin (AL 1994) had a 2.5 WAR in his rookie year and 2.4 for his career. Pat Listach (AL 1992) also has a lower career WAR (3.9) than single-season WAR for his rookie season (3.9), but the be speckled Hamelin did less in his career than Listach, even if most of Listach's value came from his rookie season.

Best duo: Again it comes down to the 1993 choices (Piazza, Tim Salmon) and 1991 (Bagwell, Chuck Knoblauch), with 1991 taking the crown. Knoblauch and Salmon both had good careers, with Knoblauch winning four rings and Salmon one. Knoblacuh was a four-time All-Star, Salmon never appeared in the game. Knoblauch also won a Gold Glove, despite his woes throwing later in his career. Going by WAR, the 1991 duo beats the 1993 pair, 121.1-96.7.

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Posted on: November 1, 2011 11:28 pm
 

Baseball reveals Gold Glove winners

Molina

By Evan Brunell


For the first time, the Gold Gloves were unveiled in a televised presentation on Tuesday night. Below, you can find the results of the awards. Winners are chosen by managers and coaches who vote for players in their leagues and can't pick players on their own teams.

Catcher
AL: Matt Wieters, Orioles -- Wieters became the first Orioles catcher to win the award. I predicted Wieters would win the award in late September saying that "Runners fear Wieters' arm -- he's only allowed 56 stolen bases all season, while the next-lowest total among catchers who qualify for the batting title is J.P. Arencibia's 77, achieved in 10 less starts. Oh, and Wieters has nabbed 32 runners for a caught-stealing rate of 36 percent, a high percentage for a catcher.

NL: Yadier Molina, Cardinals (pictured) -- Obviously. He wins the award for the fourth straight year, the first time since Charles Johnson from 1995-98.

First base
AL: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox -- Gonzalez wins his third Gold Glove and pairs with second baseman Dustin Pedroia to keep the right side of the infield to one team in the AL. The same goes for the NL.

NL: Joey Votto, Reds -- Votto takes home his first Gold Glove award to put on the mantel along with his MVP trophy from 2010.

Second base
AL: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox -- This is Pedroia's second Gold Glove and first since 2008. As one of the best second basemen in the league, this was a no-brainer. "It's fun playing alongside him," Gonzalez said of Pedroia on ESPN2, saying the communication is top-notch between the two players.

NL: Brandon Phillips, Reds -- The color red really dominated first and second, as the Reds in the NL take home the awards at each respective position. Same with the AL and Red Sox. Phillips wins his third Gold Glove.

Third base
AL: Adrian Beltre, Rangers -- What I said back in September: "Beltre somehow only has two Gold Gloves despite a career of success. That success continues in 2011 in Texas, as Beltre has tremendous range compared with soft hands. Evan Longoria is a fantastic defender as well, but in the AL there simply is no comparison to Beltre."

NL: Placido Polanco, Phillies -- Back in September, C. Trent Rosecrans picked Pablo Sandoval of the Giants. "There are players with better defensive reputations than the Kung Fu Panda, but nobody's had a better year," he wrote. Gold Glove voters disagreed, and Polanco gets his third Gold Glove -- first at third base. He becomes the second major leaguer to win a Gold Glove at two separate positions, following Darin Erstad nabbing one for first base and outfield.

Shortstop
AL: Erick Aybar, Angels -- It's Aybar's first Gold Glove, and he's as good a pick as any to dethrone Derek Jeter's undeserved Gold Glove last season.

NL: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies -- Trent may not have gotten Sandoval right, but he nailed Tulo. "The Rockies may know a little something about drafting defensive shortstops -- they picked two of the best in the league, Tulowitzki and the Astros' Clint Barmes. Finally healthy, Barmes was outstanding defensively for the Astros, while Tulowitzki seems like the second coming of Cal Ripken," he wrote.

Left field
AL: Alex Gordon, Royals -- Gordon racked up the assists this year, but how do you not give this to Brett Gardner?

NL: Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks -- Parra grabs his first Gold Glove. I haven't heard Parra as a name among the elite defenders, but there you go. He appears worthy.

Center field
AL: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox -- Ellsbury's victory gives the Red Sox three Gold Glovers. It must be sweet music for the center fielder too, after being moved to left field to start 2010 amid reports of poor defense. Frankly, this is a stretch -- Ellsbury still takes poor routes to the ball. But he's fast, so that helps. It's the first time since 1979 Boston has three winners.

NL: Matt Kemp, Dodgers -- Really? Kemp is a poor center fielder, and it's really difficult to imagine Kemp as a Gold Glove finalist, never mind a victor. But we all know that Gold Glove awards usually aren't worth much, and in this case...

Right field
AL: Nick Markakis, Orioles -- Markakis is not a very good defender. In fact, he made my list as the AL's worst defensive right fielder. I wouldn't go so far as to say that anymore, but a Gold Glove? Frankly, though, I have a hard time getting worked up about who wins the Gold Glove because it's such an irrelevant and inefficient award. For true honoring of defensive prowess, check out the Fielding Bible winners.

NL: Andre Ethier, Dodgers -- It's just the second time in the 21st centery that outfield teammates have won a Gold Glove award. Ethier wins his first. Not quite deserved.

Pitcher
AL: Mark Buerhle, White Sox -- It's his third straight Gold Glove.

NL: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers -- It's the first award for Kershaw, who said on ESPN2 during the unveiling that he did not expect to win the award. Kershaw spoke about how pitchers fielding practice in spring training can get old, but it provides the basis for good defense. "Once you get out on the field, repetition helps it sink in," he said.

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Posted on: October 31, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 7:12 pm
 

Gold Glove finalists, Fielding Bible champs

Utley

By Evan Brunell


Fielding is taking center stage in baseball, as Rawlings released their Gold Glove finalists on Monday, while The Fielding Bible came out with their winners.

ESPN2 will air the winners of the Gold Glove balloting in the first-ever televised Gold Glove results, which used to be sent out as morning press releases. The show will begin at 10 p.m. ET and last for an hour. There are three finalists per position, and the most notable omission is Derek Jeter from shortstop, and rightfully so. Jeter has long won Gold Gloves based more on the merits of popularity and offense, but that's nothing new across all of Gold Glove voting, as Gold Glove award voting has been that way for some time. Jeter has won five awards, including taking each of the last two seasons.

Now, it will be either the Angels' Erick Aybar, J.J. Hardy of the Orioles, or the Indians' Asdrubal Cabrera who wins the AL Gold Glove. The full list of finalists can be found below, but first: The Fielding Bible.

“Quite simply,” said John Dewan, the founder of The Fielding Bible, “our intention is to stand up and say, ‘This is the best fielder at this position in the major leagues last season. Period.’”

Dewan uses a star-studded panel of voters that includes people such as Peter Gammons, former major-leaguer Doug Glanville and noted sabermetrician Bill James to determine the winners of each award, which more accurately reflect the best defenders in the league. The Bible differed from Gold Glove voting up until this season in that the Bible differentiated between left, center and right field while the Gold Glove used three generic "outfield" spots. That's changing this year, but another difference remains: if a player switches leagues during a season he is not considered for a Gold Glove. That's not the case for the Bible, which only makes one selection per position.

Below, you can find the winners of The Fielding Bible's defensive awards, plus Dewan's thoughts on each, as supplied in a news release. Only Albert Pujols, who won at first base, and Justin Upton in right field, were not finalists for a Gold Glove award.

C: Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles (first-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“After Yadier Molina of the Cardinals won the previous four Fielding Bible Awards, Matt Wieters wins his first. And it wasn’t even close in the voting -- Wieters' 97 points to Molina's 74. When you look at the numbers, it wasn’t close there either. Prior to 2011, Molina has thrown out 42 percent of baserunners. On top of that, he has picked off an average of six baserunners per year. In 2011, Yadier dropped to 25 percent caught stealing and only picked two runners off. Wieters threw out 36 percent of basestealers in 2011. But it was the pitcher handling department where Wieters really excelled. Nine of his 14 runs saved are estimated for his pitcher handling, while Molina also had a down year in this area, costing the Cardinals six runs.”

1B: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (five-time winner)

“It was no fluke,” Dewan says about a play in the NLDS, when Pujols gunned Chase Utley down at third base (pictured). “Since Baseball Info Solutions started tracking good fielding plays (GFP) in 2004, Albert Pujols has 37 GFPs on throws. The next best first basemen are Todd Helton of the Rockies with 16 and three others with 15 -- Mark Teixeira of the Yankees, Prince Fielder of the Brewers, and Lyle Overbay of the [Diamondbacks].”

2B: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox (first-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

"Dustin wins his first Fielding Bible Award with 97 of a possible 100 points. He took seven first-place votes (out of 10) and was voted second by the other three panelists. Pedroia has done well in voting in each of the last four years. He lost in a tie-breaker to Aaron Hill, then of the Blue Jays, in 2009 (each had 76 points), placed fourth in 2008, and seventh in 2010." Also, Pedroia had 44 GFP, best in baseball.

3B: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers (three-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“Adrian Beltre received eight first place votes beating last year’s winner, Evan Longoria of the Rays, 98 to 90. It doesn’t matter where he plays: Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, and now Texas. Beltre excels year after year. He has saved an estimated 156 runs defensively for his teams since 2003, an average of 17 runs prevented per year. That was his exact total for the Rangers in 2011, which translates into about two extra wins per year for his clubs, just on defense.”

SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies (three-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“Tulowitzki goes back-to-back, two Fielding Bible Awards in two years, and his third award of his five-year MLB career. Tulo is especially adept at making plays to his right. The Plus/Minus System credits him with 45 more plays in the shortstop hole compared to an average MLB shortstop over his five seasons. Tulowitzki also excels in another area. He had 67 GFP in 2011 compared to only 29 defensive misplays or errors. That +38 figure was tops in baseball.”

LF: Brett Gardner, New York Yankees (second-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“Brett Gardner is the new Carl Crawford. Gardner repeats as the Fielding Bible Award winner in left field after Crawford won three of the four previous years. It was nearly unanimous as Gardner took nine first-place votes and one second. Gardner’s 22 defensive runs saved tied him with center field winner Austin Jackson of the Tigers for the most runs saved by an outfielder in 2011. That’s an extraordinary total for a left fielder. Normally the best center fielders save significantly more runs defensively than the best left fielders. For Gardner, having a center fielder’s range gives him a tremendous advantage, but he has an excellent throwing arm as well. He has saved the Yankees 13 runs (out of his 35 total) with his arm over the last two years.”

CF: Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers (first-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“He topped all center fielders with 21 runs saved in 2010, but Austin Jackson had to do it even better (with 22 Runs Saved) in 2011 to earn his first Fielding Bible award. Jackson has made 63 more plays than an average center fielder over the last two years. That’s an incredible total. It’s on the plays over his head that AJ really excels (43 of the 63). Making 43 more catches than an average center fielder on balls hit deep is where those lofty runs saved totals come in, as he is saving doubles and triples when he makes these catches.”
 
RF: Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks (first-time winner)

“Justin Upton wins his first Fielding Bible award in 2011, unseating three-time winner Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners. With Ichiro’s down year defensively (he finished 10th in the voting), panelists were divided in their balloting with seven different right fielders receiving first place votes. Upton received three first-place votes, Jason Heyward of the Braves two, with one apiece for Mike Stanton of the Marlins, Torii Hunter of the Angels, Andre Ethier of the Dodgers, Jay Bruce of the Reds, and Nate Schierholtz of the Giants. Like Austin Jackson of the Tigers in center field, Upton excels on deeply hit balls, where he fielded 18 more balls in 2011 than the average right fielder would have, based on the depth, angle and velocity of those hit to him.”

P: Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox (three-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“It’s a third consecutive Fielding Bible Award for Mark Buehrle. It is remarkable how Buehrle puts up excellent defensive runs saved numbers year after year. He saved an estimated nine runs defensively for the White Sox in 2011, tops among all pitchers in baseball. He had eight saved runs in 2010, 11 in 2009, and has averaged about eight per year going back to 2004. His control of the running game is uncanny. Only three baserunners were successful stealing bases in 2011 with Buehrle on the mound, while nine of them were caught stealing or picked off by Buehrle. He covers his position as well, with 15 of his Runs Saved guarding the territory around the mound over the last three years.”

And now, your Gold Glove finalists:

Gold Glove Finalists
Pos. American League National League
C Matt Wieters, BAL
A.J. Pierzynski, CWS
Alex Avila, DET
Yadier Molina, STL
Brian McCann, ATL
Carlos Ruiz, PHI
1B Adrian Gonzalez, BOS
Casey Kotchman, TB
Mark Teixeira, NYY
Joey Votto, CIN
Gaby Sanchez, FLA
James Loney, LAD
2B Dustin Pedroia , BOS
Robinson Cano, NYY
Ian Kinsler, TEX
Brandon Phillips, CIN
Neil Walker, PIT
Omar Infante, FLA
SS Erick Aybar, LAA
J.J. Hardy, BAL
Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE
Troy Tulowitzki, COL
Ronny Cedeno, PIT
Alex Gonzalez, ATL
3B Adrian Beltre, TEX
Kevin Youkilis, BOS
Evan Longoria, TB
Placido Polanco, PHI
Daniel Descalso, STL
Pablo Sandoval, SF
LF Alex Gordon, KC
Brett Gardner, NYY
Sam Fuld, TB
Gerardo Parra, ARI
Ryan Braun, MIL
Matt Holliday, STL
CF Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
Austin Jackson, DET
Peter Bourjos, LAA
Matt Kemp, LAD
Shane Victorino, PHI
Chris Young, ARI
RF Nick Markakis, BAL
Torii Hunter, LAA
Jeff Francoeur, KC
Andre Ethier, LAD
Carlos Beltran, NYM/SF
Jay Bruce, CIN
C Mark Buerhle, CHW
Dan Haren, LAA
Fausto Carmona, CLE
Clayton Kershaw, LAD
Hiroki Kuroda, LAD
Kyle Lohse, STL

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Posted on: October 29, 2011 12:03 am
Edited on: October 29, 2011 12:26 am
 

2011 World Series best in a decade

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals are the World Series champions, but for one of the few times in recent memory, baseball fans were rewarded with an exciting, entertaining World Series. Looking over the last 10 World Series, there have been some stinkers -- good storylines, but often better storylines than games. Here's looking at the last 10 World Series and ranking them by what happened on the field and on the field only, with 2011, of course, leading the way in a landslide.

1. 2011: Cardinals over Rangers in 7

MVP: David Freese
What it's remembered for: Well, we'll see -- it could be Chris Carpenter's gutty Game 7 effort, Albert Pujols' historic Game 3 performance, David Freese's Game 6 heroics, Tony La Russa's Game 5 blunders, the Cardinals' rally from being down to their last strike twice in Game 6 or even Mike Napoli's amazing series. It's probably too early to tell -- just like it's to early to tell where this one will fall in the list of all-time great series, but we do know for sure right now that it's the best we've seen in a while.



2. 2002: Angels over Giants in 7
MVP: Troy Glaus
What it's remembered for: With the Giants just eight outs from the title, manager Dusty Baker pulled Russ Ortiz with one out in the seventh after back-to-back singles. Baker handed Ortiz the game ball before sending him back to the dugout before Scott Spiezio hit a three-run homer off of Felix Rodriguez. The Angeles rallied for three more runs in the eighth inning to win 6-5 and went on to win Game 7 behind John Lackey.



3. 2003:
Marlins over Yankees in 6
MVP: Josh Beckett
What it's remembered for: Beckett started Game 6 on three days' rest and shutout the Yankees on five hits to clinch the title at Yankee Stadium.


4. 2009:
Yankees over Phillies in 6
MVP: Hideki Matsui
What it's remembered for: Long-time Yankee nemesis Pedro Martinez started Game 6 for the Phillies, but was taken out of the game after giving up four runs in the first four innings and took the loss, while Andy Pettitte recorded his record 18th career postseason victory. It was the last game Martinez would pitch in the majors.



5. 2010: Giants over Rangers in 5
MVP: Edgar Renteria
What its' remembered for: After missing most of the season with several injuries, Edgar Renteria hit a three-run home run off of Cliff Lee in the seventh inning of Game 5 that was enough for a 3-1 victory, clinching the Giants title. Renteria joined Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig to have two series-winning hits.



6. 2005: White Sox over Astros in 4
MVP: Jermaine Dye
What it's remembered for: Like the other Sox, the White version had a long drought of its own broken, but White Sox fans never really whined as much as Red Sox fans so it was less celebrated. Although the White Sox swept the series, no game was decided by more than two runs, with Scott Podsednik hitting a walk-off homer in Game 2 off of Brad Lidge after the Astros rallied to tied the game with two runs in the ninth. Podsednik hadn't hit a home run in the entire 2005 regular season, but it was his second of the postseason.



7: 2008: Phillies over Rays in 5
MVP: Cole Hamels
What it's remembered for: Rain. Game 3 was delayed for an hour and a half, while Game 5 was started on Oct. 27 and suspended in the top of the sixth inning with the score tied at 2. The game was completed two days later with the Phillies winning 4-3. It was the first suspended game in World Series history.


8. 2004:
Red Sox over Cardinals in 4
MVP: Manny Ramirez
What it's remembered for: Because the Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino, the series itself is remembered more fondly than the play on the field merited. Despite Boston's complete domination of the series and an early 3-0 lead in Game 4 (to go along with the 3-0 series lead at the time), for many Red Sox fans, it wasn't until Keith Foulke flipped the ball to Doug Mientkiewicz for the final out did they believe the Red Sox would actually win the series. (There's also the whole Curt Schilling bloody sock episode that would be in this spot if it weren't for that whole curse thing).


9. 2007:
Red Sox over Rockies in 4
MVP: Mike Lowell
What it's remembered for: Dustin Pedroia led off Game 1 in Boston with a home run and the series kind of followed suit from there. Boston trailed only once in the entire series -- falling behind 1-0 in the first of Game 2, only to win that game 2-1.



10. 2006:  Cardinals over Tigers in 5
MVP: David Eckstein
What it's remembered for: How bad was this series on the field? Well, there were 12 errors committed in the five games and three of the five games featured errors by both teams. There was a game pushed back by rain and the most memorable moment was probably a guy washing his hands. In Game 2, the drama (aided by Tim McCarver's yapping) was the mystery of a mixture of dirt and rosin on Kenny Rogers' hand in the first inning. He went on to pitch eight shutout innings and allowed just two hits in the Tigers' only victory of the series.

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Posted on: October 12, 2011 11:00 am
Edited on: October 12, 2011 5:38 pm
 

Report: Red Sox pitchers drank beer during games

By Matt Snyder

The collapse of the 2011 Boston Red Sox has had significant fallout already, as manager Terry Francona is gone and general manager Theo Epstein appears to be on his way out as well.

And, since it's Boston -- just as would be the case in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc. -- the local crowd is ready to place blame. Things unraveled on a team that was expected by many to win the World Series, so it's someone's fault. Well, you have Francona and Epstein. Carl Crawford was awful after signing a huge contract. John Lackey was terrible again. But there's more ...

The Boston Globe has given us several scapegoats. Let's try to sum it up -- again, this is all via Boston.com:

• Francona reportedly lost control of the team amidst problems with his health and marriage, though he took exception to the claims.

Red Sox dysfunction
“It makes me angry that people say these things because I’ve busted my [butt] to be the best manager I can be,’’ Francona said (Boston.com). “I wasn’t terribly successful this year, but I worked harder and spent more time at the ballpark this year than I ever did.’’

On the "health" front, the report painted a picture of Francona's reliance on pain-killers.

• Reportedly the Red Sox players were angry that, in late August, they were forced to play a day-night doubleheader due to Hurricane Irene and complained to management that it cared more about money than winning. After that doubleheader, the Red Sox would not win two straight games again all season.

Tim Wakefield reportedly cared more about getting his 200th win than the team overall doing well. “I think the fans deserve an opportunity to watch me chase that record,’’ Wakefield told Fox Sports.

• Team captain Jason Varitek reportedly stopped exerting leadership in the clubhouse, while only Dustin Pedroia "and a few other players" remained fully committed to winning.

• And now the big one. The starting rotation, specifically Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey and occasionally Clay Buchholz have been accused of regularly drinking beer and eating fast-food fried chicken while playing video games in the clubhouse during games. From the Boston.comarticle:
Drinking beer in the Sox clubhouse is permissible. So is ordering take-out chicken and biscuits. Playing video games on one of the clubhouse’s flat-screen televisions is OK, too. But for the Sox pitching trio to do all three during games, rather than show solidarity with their teammates in the dugout, violated an unwritten rule that players support each other, especially in times of crisis.

Sources said Beckett, Lester, and Lackey, who were joined at times by Buchholz, began the practice late in 2010. The pitchers not only continued the routine this year, sources said, but they joined a number of teammates in cutting back on their exercise regimens despite appeals from the team’s strength and conditioning coach Dave Page.

“It’ s hard for a guy making $80,000 to tell a $15 million pitcher he needs to get off his butt and do some work,’’ one source said.

For Beckett, Lester, and Lackey, the consequences were apparent as their body fat appeared to increase and pitching skills eroded. When the team needed them in September, they posted a combined 2-7 record with a 6.45 earned run average, the Sox losing 11 of their 15 starts.
Needless to say, this isn't going to sit well with Red Sox Nation.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com