Tag:Jacoby Ellsbury
Posted on: January 27, 2012 11:11 am
 

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?



By Matt Snyder


So here we are, the final entry in our series. For those who have enjoyed the series and taken part in the discussion, we thank you. For those who hate fun, remember to kick and scream about how it's absurd to "compare" the two when someone asks you if you would rather eat Mexican or Chinese food.

Anyway, we'll close the series with a meeting between MLB's two biggest rivals of the past decade. Maybe Rangers-Angels or something else supplants the Yankees-Red Sox intensity/hatred moving forward, but what we've seen in the recent past isn't paralleled.

So we'll check out the respective left-handed center fielders who each placed in the top four of AL MVP voting last season. Yes, it's Curtis Granderson vs. Jacoby Ellsbury.

The case for Granderson

Would You Rather Have
We've known Granderson could play for a while. Back in 2007, he had an insane stat-filling season, with 122 runs, 38 doubles, 23 triples, 23 homers and 26 stolen bases while hitting .302 with a .913 OPS. In 2009, however, his average dipped all the way down to .249 and, despite hitting 30 home runs, his inability to hit left-handers became a huge problem.

Now, we know that Granderson hit 41 homers last season while driving home 119 and scoring 136. But it's a myth that this power surge came from out of nowhere. He made major adjustments to his swing in August of 2010 and started the heavy hitting before that season ended. In the last 46 games of '10, Granderson hit 14 home runs, which prorates to a pace of 49 in a 162-game season.

In addition to that, he's cured his woes against lefties. In fact, Granderson hit for better rate stats against left-handers (.272/.347/.597) than against righties (.258/.372/.531) in 2011.

Also, if you wanna whine about Yankee Stadium being friendly to left-handed hitters -- which, yes, it is -- please at least note that Granderson hit 21 home runs at home and 20 on the road last year.

Finally, durability is in Granderson's favor. From 2006-11 he averaged 152 games per season while Ellsbury only played 18 games in all of 2010.

The case for Ellsbury

After a lost 2010 season, Ellsbury ended up being perhaps the best offensive player in the American League in 2011. He led the majors with 364 total bases while hitting .321/.376/.552 with 32 homers, 105 RBI, 119 runs, 46 doubles and 39 stolen bases. This guy was a fantasy baseball players' dream last season.

Similar to Granderson, Ellsbury has to fight the stigma that his power surge was either a fluke or "came from out of nowhere." With Ellsbury it pretty much did, though. He only hit 10 career home runs in 259 minor-league games. He entered 2011 with 20 home runs in 1,510 big-league plate appearances. The explanation is that Ellsbury's home runs per fly ball went all the way up to 16.7 percent. That's a large figure for a guy his size, but it's certainly possible he developed power while in the majors. He wouldn't be the first guy to do so.

Ellsbury also took home the Gold Glove in center, while most advanced defensive metrics scored him as one of the very best defensive players in baseball.

Age is in Ellsbury's favor, too, though it's not near as big a deal as one might think. Ellsbury turned 28 in September while Granderson will turn 31 in March. So it's a difference of 2 1/2 years.

Our call

I believe it comes down to if you believe Ellsbury's power in 2011 was real. He's superior everywhere else, but power was a huge reason Ellsbury had a far better WAR than Granderson in '11 and finished higher in MVP voting despite the Red Sox's collapse. Next year at this time it will be a much easier answer, but for now I'm rolling the dice and going Ellsbury.

Fan Vote:



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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 21, 2011 2:01 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 5:04 pm
 

Justin Verlander wins AL MVP



By Matt Snyder


Tigers ace pitcher Justin Verlander had a historic season for several reasons, and you can now add MVP and Cy Young in the same season to the list. He won the American League MVP, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced Monday afternoon. Verlander becomes the first starting pitcher to win MVP since Roger Clemens took home the honors all the way back in 1986. This also marks the first time any pitcher has won since 1992, when A's closer Dennis Eckersley won. This marks the 10th time a pitcher has won both the MVP and Cy Young in the same season.

"Not even in my wildest dreams had I thought of this," Verlander said. "I want to say this is a dream come true. I can't say that because my dream had already had come true ... to win a Cy Young. And the next dream is to win a World Series. This wasn't even on my radar until the talk started. And then all of a sudden it was a this-could-actually-happen type of thing."

Verlander, 28, was clearly the best pitcher in baseball in 2011. He went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 250 strikeouts in 251 innings. He had four complete games, two shutouts and one no-hitter. He led the American League in wins, winning percentage, starts, innings pitched, strikeouts, WHIP, ERA-plus and hits per nine innings.

Verlander racking up awards
The only real question as to whether or not Verlander would win the award was based upon his position. Pitchers only work once every fifth day, so many argued that they shouldn't be allowed to win an award that is traditionally given to players who are seen in the lineup every single game. But Verlander was so good it was tough to ignore. And he tied Jose Bautista with 8.5 wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

"I think that a starting pitcher has to do something special to be as valuable or more so than a position player," Verlander said. "Obviously, having the chance to play in 160-some games in the case of Miguel, they can obviously have a huge impact every day. That's why, I've talked about on my day, on a pitcher's day, the impact we have is tremendous on that game. So you have to have a great impact almost every time out to supersede (position players) and it happens on rare occasions, and I guess this year was one of those years."

This vote was probably the most intriguing of all the BBWAA votes this season because it felt wide open. Should pitchers be allowed to win? Can a player on a fourth-place team be considered valuable? Can a player on a team who had a historic collapse down the stretch win? There were arguments all over the place for the last six weeks of the season. Here's how the final vote stacked up, with the final points in parentheses:

1. Verlander (280)
2. Jacoby Ellsbury (242)
3. Bautista (231)
4. Curtis Granderson (215)
5. Miguel Cabrera (193)
6. Robinson Cano (112)
7. Adrian Gonzalez (105)
8. Michael Young (96)
9. Dustin Pedroia (48)
10. Evan Longoria (27)

In order: Ian Kinsler, Alex Avila, Paul Konerko, CC Sabathia, Adrian Beltre, Ben Zobrist, Victor Martinez, James Shields, Mark Teixeira, Asdrubal Cabrera, Alex Gordon, Josh Hamilton and David Robertson also received votes.

Verlander received 13 of the 28 first-place votes. Bautista got five, Ellsbury, four; Granderson, three; Miguel Cabrera, two and Young got one first-place vote. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News gave Young his lone MVP vote.

One voter, Jim Ingraham of the Lake Herald News (Cleveland) completely left Verlander off the ballot. Via the Associated Press, here was Ingraham's rationale:

"I'd wrestled with this for a long time. If I was ever going to vote for pitcher for MVP, it would be him this year," Ingraham said. "He hasn't appeared in 79 percent of their games, any starting pitcher really doesn't appear in 79 percent of his team's games in a year.

"Would you vote for an NFL quarterback for MVP if he only appeared in three of his team's 16 games, which would 21 percent? So that's part of it. Another part of it is I think they're apples and oranges. The guys that are in there every day, there's a grind to a season that a starting pitcher doesn't, I don't think, experience the way the everyday position players do playing 150, 160 games."

Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal gave Verlander an eighth-place vote while both Chad Jennings of the Journal News (New York) and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle voted him sixth.

Jacoby Ellsbury was hurt by a 10th place vote from Scot Gregor of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald (Chicago).

Other pitchers to win MVP and Cy Young in the same year were Don Newcombe (1956), Sandy Koufax (1963), Bob Gibson, Denny McLain (1968), Vida Blue (1971), Rollie Fingers (1981) and Willie Hernandez (1984).

This is the ninth time a Tigers player has won the MVP. The others: Mickey Cochrane (1934), Hank Greenberg (1935), Charlie Gehringer (1937), Greenberg (1940), Hal Newhouser (1944), Newhouser (1945), McLain (1968) and Hernandez (1984).

The National League MVP will be revealed Tuesday. It's likely to be either Ryan Braun or Matt Kemp, but a few others will factor heavily in the voting.

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Posted on: November 3, 2011 10:23 pm
 

Verlander tops at Players Choice awards

By Matt Snyder

Major League Baseball Players Association held its annual awards show Thursday night on MLB Network to reveal winners in 10 different categories. Tigers ace Justin Verlander was the big winner, taking home both the AL Pitcher of the Year and the MLB Player of the Year awards. This on the same night he announced he will grace the cover of a video game in the spring, so it was quite a night for Verlander.

Here's a complete list of the winners:

MLB Player of the Year: Verlander
Marvin Miller Man of the Year: Michael Young, Rangers

NL Outstanding Player: Matt Kemp, Dodgers
NL Outstanding Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
NL Outstanding Rookie: Craig Kimbrel, Braves
NL Comeback Player: Lance Berkman, Cardinals

AL Outstanding Player: Curtis Granderson, Yankees
AL Outstanding Pitcher: Verlander
AL Outstanding Rookie: Mark Trumbo, Angels
AL Comeback Player: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox

It's worth noting that this was the second time in three years Young has taken Man of the Year honors, which is given to a "player who inspires others to higher levels of achievement by his on-field performances and contributions to his community." The other nominees for that award were Paul Konerko of the White Sox and Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals.

Click here to view a complete list of the nominees on MLBPlayers.com.

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Posted on: November 2, 2011 6:37 pm
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Posted on: October 13, 2011 10:59 am
 

Berkman, Ellsbury win comeback player awards

By Matt Snyder

Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury has been named the American League comeback player of the year, while Cardinals right fielder Lance Berkman has won the NL award. The comeback player of the year is given to one player in each league who has "re-emerged on the baseball field" in each given season. It is voted upon by the 30 MLB.com team beat writers.

Berkman, 34, appeared to be pretty much cooked after last season. The five-time All-Star had hit .248 with only 14 home runs, but it wasn't just the stats. He was out of shape, slow and had lost tons of bat speed. Then the Cardinals signed him and told him he was going to play right field. That, in combination with reported embarrassment over his drastic loss in performance, caused Berkman to significantly step up his offseason training regimen. The result was his sixth All-Star Game and a return to being one of the more feared power hitters in baseball. He hit .301 with a .959 OPS, 31 home runs, 94 RBI and 90 runs.

Ellsbury, 28, played only 18 games last season after having led the AL in stolen bases the previous two seasons -- and he also led in triples in 2009. Injuries just killed his 2010 season. This one was a different story, as it's entirely possible he wins the AL MVP. Ellsbury hit .321 with a .376 on-base percentage and outstanding defense. He also added power to his arsenal, racking up 32 home runs, 105 RBI and 46 doubles. His speed and table-setting ability didn't go away, either, as he scored 119 runs and stole 39 bases.

Last season's winners were Tim Hudson of the Braves and Francisco Liriano of the Twins.

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Posted on: September 28, 2011 1:35 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Red Sox, Rays, Cards get it done



By Matt Snyder


Red Sox offense. They really, really needed this one. And you have to give the Red Sox credit, they came through when it mattered. They fell behind 1-0 in the first inning, but then Jacoby Ellsbury hit a two-run homer. Marco Scutaro would also hit a 2-run homer later in the game. Still, the Red Sox pitching staff allowed seven runs against the Orioles and a huge effort was needed from someone offensively. It was provided by an unlikely source, as emergency catcher Ryan Lavarnway hit two home runs and drove home four in the Red Sox's 8-4 victory. The two blasts were the first two of his career and he became the youngest Red Sox player to homer twice in the same game since Nomar Garciaparra did it in 1997 -- and they were the exact same ago to the day (Ian Browne via Twitter).

Cardinals' offense. Starting pitcher Jake Westbrook was awful, and the Cardinals trailed 5-0 after three innings. It was of no matter in the end, though, because they'd piece together 13 runs in the final six frames to win the game. On the whole, the Cardinals pounded out 17 hits, including four doubles, a triple and two home runs. The biggest hits were Skip Schumaker's three-run double in the fourth, Ryan Theriot's go-ahead, two-run triple in the seventh and Allen Craig's three-run homer in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

Matt Joyce, Rays. Ben Zobrist hit a two-run homer earlier in the game and the Rays bailed themselves out with a huge triple play, but neither would have mattered if Joyce didn't come through with a pivotal three-run bomb in the bottom of the seventh to put the Rays on top 5-3. That was the eventual final score.

Bonus Up No. 1, Prince Fielder: Three home runs is a pretty decent night, don't you think? He hits home runs a lot (230 in his career now and he's only 27), but this was the first three-homer game of his big-league career.

Bonus Up No. 2, Jose Reyes: He went deep twice and maintained his percentage-point lead for the batting title.

Bonus Up No. 3, Jarrod Parker: The 22-year-old Diamondbacks' prospect made his major-league debut against the Dodgers. He went 5 2/3 shutout innings and allowed just four hits. If you don't take the D-Backs seriously yet, imagine them with Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Parker, Trevor Bauer (third overall pick this past June) and Archie Bradley (seventh overall pick this past June) in the rotation a few years from now. Oh, and Justin Upton's only 24. That's a strong foundation. And while we're here ... a walk-off grand slam after trailing 6-1 in the 10th? C'mon. Big ups to Ryan Roberts for imitating Kirk Gibson as he rounded the bases, too.



Derek Lowe, Braves. Four innings, six hits, five earned runs, a loss and the Braves are now tied in the NL wild-card race. Oh, and Lowe makes over $15 million a year.

Bronson Arroyo, Reds. How about this one? According to Elias Sports Bureau -- via a Reds' press release -- Arroyo is now the second pitcher in major-league history to have allowed at least 40 home runs and less than 50 walks in the same season. We've all heard the phrase "trust your stuff" when pitchers walk too many hitters. Maybe Arroyo should trust his stuff a bit less. Trade some of the bombs for free passes.

Russell Martin, Yankees. He hit into a huge triple play, but that's just a ground ball with bad timing. My issue came when he tried to beat the throw by diving into first base. See last night's 3 Up 3 Down -- the Nick Punto entry -- for the rant relating to that. (What, is it spreading?)

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Posted on: September 27, 2011 2:40 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2011 12:59 pm
 

Breakout of Year Awards: Ellsbury, Morse shine

Ellsbury, Morse

By Evan Brunell

There's been plenty of discussion recently on who should win the awards baseball will hand out after the postseason. There are no shortage of opinions on who should grab the MVP or the Cy Young Award, to say nothing of Rookie of the Years, Gold Gloves and Comeback Player of the Year. But where's the category that rewards players who broke out? There hasn't one ... until now. Here's a top three, followed by two others.

MLB Awards
  • MVP candidates: AL | NL
  • Cy Young Award: AL | NL
  • Rookie of the YearAL | NL 
  • Comeback players: AL | NL
  • Gold Gloves: AL | NL
  • Tin Gloves: AL | NL
  • Manager of the Year: AL | NL
Eye on Baseball will chronicle the five top candidates per league for the Breakout Player of the Year. It's important to keep in mind the separation between a breakout and a comeback. By its very name, to win the Comeback Player of the Year, you have to have "come back" from something. Breaking out has no such restrictions. Who had a season for the ages that has most adjusted a player's value for the better? Last season, Jose Bautista would have ran away with this award in the AL. Who takes the top spot this year?

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: Surprised? Don't be. Ellsbury is by all accounts one of the three top candidates to win the AL MVP award alongside Bautista and Justin Verlander. Just a year ago, Ellsbury played in just 18 games, struggling with fractured ribs suffered in an early-April crash. His commitment and toughness were called into question, and the 28-year-old was entering a make-or-break year. Safe to say he made it, with a .323/.378/.552 line with 31 homers and 38 steals, becoming Boston's first-ever 30/30 man. By Wins Above Replacement, Ellsbury has more than doubled his previous best season of 2008, his first full season in the bigs.

2. Doug Fister, Tigers: Last season, I picked up Fister in a fantasy baseball league midway through the season. That's how poorly he was thought of -- he was an injury replacement halfway through the year, even though he finished the season with 28 starts and a 4.11 ERA. While Fister displayed strong command, he didn't strike out many batters and averaged 88-mph on his fastball without a true out pitch. He wasn't considered a pitcher worth caring about. Except this year, his fastball velocity has ticked up and his slider has developed into a weapon. Then, he got traded to Detroit where he's gone bananas, giving Fister a total season ERA of 2.83 in 216 1/3 innings. Now, Fister is Detroit's No. 2 starter in October and no one thinks that's odd. So, yeah: Breakout.

3. Alex Avila, Tigers
: Fister's new batterymate in Detroit had a season truly out of nowhere. At least Ellsbury was a former first-round pick dripping with talent while Fister had previous success in the majors. Avila, though, struggled to a .228/.316/.340 line in 333 plate appearances last season. Certainly lower than his minor-league average line of .280/.373/.424, but even that didn't portend what was coming. In 2011, Avila was one of the best catchers -- strike that, one of the best players -- with a .298/.391/.513 mark in 543 PA, banging 33 doubles and 19 HR.

Also deserving:

Alex Gordon, Royals: One compared to George Brett, it took Gordon five years and a position switch, but he's finally delivering on his promise with a .303/.376/.502 figure.

Brandon McCarthy, Ahtletics: McCarthy had one of the best seasons a pitcher could have, dodging his way through a couple bumps and bruises to post a 3.32 ERA in 25 starts, allowing just 1.5 walks per nine and striking out 6.5. That's Doug Fister-ian. And just like that, the A's have yet another good pitcher.



1. Michael Morse, Nationals: Morse followed in Jose Bautista's footsteps by hinting toward a breakout season, slamming 15 homers in part-time duty. But a 30-homer season? That was tough to envision, and yet the 29-year-old broke out this year with just that and added to it by hitting .303. Now the Nationals have a fearsome middle-of-the-order bat at minimal charge and the ability to play either first base or left field. Morse's development is for real, and his power is here to stay.

2. Ryan Vogelsong, Giants: You had to know Vogelsong would land on this list. And why not? Vogelsong didn't throw one major-league pitch for four years before casually throwing up a 2.71 ERA over 179 2/3 innings this season. From 2000-06, Vogelsong was nothing short of an awful pitcher, so this is absolutely a breakout in every sense of the word ... and he began the year as a 33-year-old. His peripherals are strong enough that you can expect the fun to continue next season.

3. Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks: The former Yankees top prospect has found a home in Arizona, following up a solid 2010 with a sublime 2011 that should get him some Cy Young Award votes. Kennedy's soaked up 222 innings, posted a 21-4 record and a pristine 2.88 ERA, striking out 198 while at it. That's a fantastic pitcher through and through. While Kennedy may not have been ready for the AL East when he was with the Yankees, he'd certainly do just fine anywhere the way he's come along.

Also deserving:

Cameron Maybin, Padres: Maybin struggled for consistent playing time for years in Florida and finally got his chance with San Diego. His overall numbers are depressed because he plays in Petco Park, but his defense more than makes up for it. To give you an idea of how good he has been offensively, here are his road numbers: .294/.349/.457. Safe to say the Pads picked the pocket of Florida here.

Yadier Molina, Cardinals: Molina is a great defender with a fantastic arm. We all know that. He's also, for the first time in his career, been a significant contributor on offense with a .306/.349/.469 line, punching 32 doubles and 14 homers. It's power never seen before from Yadier.

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