Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw discuss whether or not the fans’ selections for the American League All-Star team were right and who should be starting the All-Star Game in Kansas City on July 10.
Mike Napoli of the Rangers was the fan choice, but White Sox backstop A.J. Pierzynski should be starting in the All-Star Game. Pierzynski is not one of the more popular players in baseball and was actually expected to lose his job coming into this season. However, he is hitting .285 this year with 14 home runs and 45 RBI.
Edwin Encarnacion of the Blue Jays should be starting instead of Prince Fielder. Encarnacion has always had great potential but has been inconsistent in the past. This season, however, he is deserving of a starting spot in Kansas City with a .291 average, 22 home runs, 55 RBI and eight stolen bases.
The fans got this one right, voting in Robinson Cano of the Yankees. He’s batting .310 with 20 home runs and 46 RBI. Not only is he an All-Star but he is clearly the Yankees’ MVP.
The fans chose Adrian Beltre of the Rangers, which is a good pick because he is one of the best defensive players in baseball. Miguel Cabrera, however, is the best third baseman in the American League with a .314 average, 16 home runs and 62 RBI.
Derek Jeter is having a good season, but Elvis Andrus of the Rangers is the best shortstop in the American League right now. He is not a power hitter with just one home run but he’s batting .307 with 32 RBI and 16 stolen bases. The fans should have voted in Andrus instead of Jeter.
Of the three outfielders voted in, only one was the right pick by the fans. It wasn’t a surprise that Josh Hamilton was selected, and he is the right choice. He’s on pace for more than 50 home runs and 140 RBI this season.
Angels rookie Mike Trout should be starting in place of Curtis Granderson. Trout is batting .339 with nine home runs, 33 RBI and 22 stolen bases, and keep in mind that he started this season in the minor leagues.
Adam Jones of the Orioles should have been selected in place of Jose Bautista. Jones has a .302 average, 19 home runs, 42 RBI and 11 stolen bases. He has a bright future and is likely one of the next big stars in baseball.
David Ortiz was the right pick by the fans. He continues to put up big numbers with a .302 average, 21 home runs and 54 RBI this season. This is Ortiz’s eighth All-Star selection.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw discuss players who may be on the road to the Hall of Fame.
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre may be a surprise on this list for some people, but the longeivty of his career could land him in the Hall of Fame. The 33-year-old currently has 2,113 hits and 322 home runs. In order to get to 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, he would need to average 127 hits and 25 home runs per season until the age of 40. Beltre has a good chance to reach those benchmarks, as he plays in one of the most homer-friendly stadiums in baseball and could benefit from the designated hitter position in the American League down the road.
Paul Konerko is certainly a surprise when it comes to potential Hall of Fame candidacy. The White Sox first baseman, who is 36 years old, has 409 career home runs, and 500 homers is definitely in reach. He would need to average 22 home runs per year until he is 40 to get to 500. That would put him in a good position to get into the Hall of Fame, as he also won a World Series in 2005.
Andy Pettitte has 243 wins and 2,297 strikeouts in his career. He has the most postseason wins in history with 19, including four World Series wins. If he can get another seven wins and 203 K’s in the next two seasons, he would have 250 wins and 2,500 K’s, good for 47th and 31st all-time. That should give him a good shot at the Hall of Fame.
Roy Halladay has 192 career wins and 1,990 strikeouts. The 35-year-old would need 21 wins per season until he is 40 to reach 300 wins. Though he has dominated during certain parts of his career, he doesn’t have the longevity to get the numbers he needs to make it into the Hall of Fame, especially as he is battling a shoulder injury this season that should keep him out for six to eight weeks.
The odds are against Johan Santana making it into the Hall of Fame, as he is 33 years old and only has 137 wins and 1,956 strikeouts. He would need another five standout years to rack up the numbers to earn a spot in Cooperstown. He has had major surgery and it is uncertain how many more dominant years he has left in the tank.
C.C. Sabathia is as durable as they come and he should definitely make the Hall of Fame. He has 185 wins and is already 58th all-time in strikeouts with 2,119. If he finishes this season with another 90 strikeouts and averages 170 K’s for the next four years, he will have 2,889 K’s by the age of 36, good for 17th all-time. He would be well on his way to 3,000 K’s, a feat which only 16 pitchers have accomplished, all of them in the Hall of Fame aside from ineligible players.
Adam Dunn is 32 years old and has 388 career home runs. He should get into the Hall of Fame if he can reach 500 homers, which is certainly in striking distance. He has 23 home runs in 289 plate appearances this season. If he can hit another 17 home runs this year and enter the 2013 season with 405 in his career, he would need to average just 19 home runs for the next five seasons to reach 500.
Miguel Cabrera‘s home-run total of 277 through age 28 was the 13th-highest of any player at that age. If he hits 19 more home runs this season, he will enter his age-30 season with 310 career homers. From there, it would take him less than six seasons to get to 500 at his career rate of 33 home runs per 162 games. If he keeps playing the way he is now, he’s a certain Hall of Famer.
Ryan Braun joins Willie Mays and Darryl Strawberry as the only players to hit at least 180 home runs and steal at least 100 bases in their first six seasons. If Braun can hit 20 more homers this season, he will be one of two players to hit at least 200 home runs and bat at least .310 in his first six seasons, joining Albert Pujols. Braun is definitely on his way to becoming a Hall of Famer but he may need to prove himself more than others after testing positive for PEDs, even though his suspension was overturned.
Matt Holliday‘s Hall of Fame candidacy is iffy right now. If the 32-year-old can keep his average above .300 and record 1,032 more hits and 136 more home runs, he will be one of only 12 players with a .300 average, at least 350 homers and at least 2,500 hits, joining eight Hall of Famers as well as Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Chipper Jones and Vladimir Guerrero. He is a very solid player, but not necessarily a player worthy of the Hall of Fame.
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By R.J. Anderson //
Eno Sarris already wrote about Adrian Beltre’s impact on the Texas Rangers’ offense. Due to the nature of fantasy scoring, Beltre’s individual defensive value will not result in points. Instead, the only way fantasy owners can reap the excellence of Beltre’s defense is to pick up the Rangers pitchers who seem most likely to benefit.
The recipe for a pitcher who stands to gain from Beltre’s presence includes a pitcher who gives up plenty of balls to the left side. A large ratio of those balls should be of the groundball variety. While Beltre is sure to make a snag or two on a liner and track down a fly pop-up here and there, he’s going to make his living off scooping and firing grounders at a prolific rate.
Using Baseball-Reference’s groundball-to-flyball ratio (which includes line drives as flyballs), it turns out that only three of the Rangers 2010 pitchers finished above the league average mark of 0.79. Oddly enough, each is a southpaw. Ageless set-up man Darren Oliver (0.90), swingman Matt Harrison (0.88), and starter C.J. Wilson (0.98) vary in fantasy value. There is no reason to ever own Harrison, Oliver is a nice get in leagues that value holds, and Wilson might be considered one of the better pitchers in the American League if he can continue the success he found in his first season of starting.
Therefore, Wilson is going to get the attention here.
In 2010, batters held a batting average of .090 against Wilson on balls hit inside the infield (well above the American League average of .078). Batters also managed a .206 batting average on groundballs hit against Wilson (AL average was .231) and .556 on bunts (AL average was .449). Since exact batted ball locations are unavailable, assumptions have to be made based on the infielders’ overall defensive value.
FanGraphs’ UZR suggests that the only below-average defender on the Rangers infield last year was (then) third baseman Michael Young, with Ian Kinsler, Mitch Moreland, and Elvis Andrus rating as either average or above-average at their positions. That’s not to say UZR is perfect or that Young is responsible for Wilson’s mishaps on grounders per se.
But it does indicate that in a vacuum, the Rangers defense should be improve, with Beltre the vacuum cleaner set to replace Young at third base. And that should help Wilson retain some of his strong 2010 value, which included a sparkling 3.35 ERA.
by Eno Sarris //
Look at the career statistics for Adrian Beltre, and you might be surprised to see how much money he’s made. After going to Texas and signing his newest five-year, $80 million contract (with a $16 million vesting option), Beltre will have earned close to $200 million (at least) by the time his career ends. And yet right now, his career batting average is a mere .275 and he’s averaged about 23 home runs per full year.
The truth is, he’s probably been worth the money (if not high fantasy picks most seasons) for two reasons: his glove and the offense-suppressing ballparks that have made his numbers look worse than they’d be most elsewhere. R.J. Anderson will take a look at the value of Beltre’s excellent glove later this week. For now, let’s take a look at Beltre and his relationship to his home parks over his career.
Beltre didn’t like hitting in Safeco field. He’s a right-handed pull hitter and the park factor for home runs by a right-hander in that park is just 84 (100 is average). That kept him to a .253/.307/.409 line in 363 games in Seattle – 1406 at-bats that helped suppress his overall value in fantasy leagues. That modest work came after 489 games and a .253/.316/.423 line in spacious Dodger Stadium (which had a 92 park factor for right-handed home runs last year).
What happens to his overall numbers when you take out those 3076 at-bats? Away from Safeco and Dodger Stadium, Beltre has hit .293 with 26 home runs per 600 at-bats. And, as he showed with his .325 batting average and 28 home runs in Fenway, Beltre can be even better if given an extra boost by his home park.
Fenway had a 95 park factor for right-handed home runs – and a 130 park factor for right-handed doubles. That helped Beltre put together his second-best batting average and clear his previous high in doubles by eight in a great year for the Red Sox. His new stadium in Arlington has a 105 park factor for right-handed home runs (105 for doubles), and Beltre will surely enjoy calling such a park home.
The .331 batting average on balls in play in 2010, in the face of his career .294 BABIP, probably means that his batting average will fall in 2011. His new park won’t allow him to pepper the Green Monster with doubles any more. But while the batting average falls, the power might surge. A home park that is 10% friendlier for home runs will help his case.
Bill James projects a .283 batting average and 24 home runs for Beltre in 2011. Up the home run total since his new home stadium is now determined, and that looks about right. Take Beltre in the early rounds of your draft (especially given the position scarcity at third base) and profit off owners that put too much credence in his overall career numbers.
By R.J. Anderson //
Nobody could blame Adrian Beltre if he wanted to distance himself from the 2009 season as much as possible. Not only did he endure a horrendous offensive season in which he posted a .683 OPS, he also suffered an injury to a certain male region that should never be used in the same sentence as the term “ruptured”. Nonetheless, Beltre became eligible for free agency and joined the Boston Red Sox. A stronger supporting cast figured to help his counting stats, while a far friendlier ballpark for hitters figured to boost his overall offensive production.
Thus far, Beltre is hitting .343 AVG/.375 OBP/.467 SLG. Previously, Beltre posted a batting average above .300 exactly once in his 12-season career. Meanwhile, his career Isolated Slugging (ISO, slugging average minus batting average) is .182, much higher than this season’s .124.
Beltre’s .386 BABIP is certainly the highest of his career, and miles away from his .292 career mark. Of Beltre’s 36 hits, only nine have been of the extra base variety. Putting up 75% singles looks more like a Nick Punto season, not the kind of numbers you expect from a player who hit at least 25 home runs each season from 2006 through 2008, with 252 career homers.
What gives? Beltre’s 4% HR/FB ratio is a career low, even worse than his 5.6% in 2009. This seems unlikely to continue to be the case. In past seasons at Safeco Field – a park that strongly curbs extra-base hits by right-handed batters – Beltre was still able to launch more than 10% of his fly balls over the wall. A move to Fenway Park – an extra-base hit paradise for righties who can get the ball up in the air and deep – Beltre should not see his power disappear.
As it stands, Beltre is second among third baseman in hits and second in batting average, behind division rival Evan Longoria. The season is a month old and odds are Beltre is going to finish with a higher batting average than originally expected. But there’s little reason to believe Beltre’s skill set has completely morphed from hulking slugger to Ichiro Suzuki clone. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
For more on Adrian Beltre, check out Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Tools.
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By Tommy Rancel
The Boston Red Sox made a conscious effort this off-season to improve the team in terms of run prevention. The highlights of the Red Sox off-season include the signings of respected defenders Mike Cameron in center field and Adrian Beltre at third base.
While Epstein is on record as saying he doesn’t agree with some publicly found defensive metrics (presumably Ultimate Zone Rating aka UZR, which rated Jacoby Ellsbury as one of the league’s worst center fielders last year), his actions suggest otherwise. Even before Jason Bay signed with the Mets, leaving a void in the Boston outfield, Epstein saw the need to sign an able defender like Cameron as an upgrade.
Despite Epstein’s support for Ellsbury as a center fielder, and the fact that Cameron is 10 years older than Ellsbury, it is Cameron who is patrolling center field for Boston this season.
Looking at UZR, Cameron is a perennial favorite of the metric. Even at his advanced age of 37, he is rated well above average (10.0 UZR in 2009). Ellsbury on the other hand has bounced around the spectrum, rating well above average in 2008 (+16.5) to well below in 2009 (-18.6).
The Ellsbury/Cameron moves highlight the outfield changes, but Beltre at third base is another gift to Boston’s pitching staff. Regardless of your fielding metric of choice, Beltre is a consensus top defender at the hot corner. His 14.3 UZR ranked fourth-best among major league third basemen, and he was runner-up at the position to Ryan Zimmerman in the 2009 Fielding Bible Awards. His plus/minus, a defensive statistic created by John Dewan, is also second to Zimmerman at third base over the past three seasons.
Looking at the Red Sox third basemen in 2009, Beltre will be a welcome addition to the left side of the infield – Mike Lowell (-10.4 UZR in 895 innings) and Kevin Youkilis (-1.6 UZR in 494.1 innings) were both below-average defenders in 2009. The Red Sox will also welcome Marco Scutaro to the left side. In his first full season at the position in 2009, Scutaro rated just above average at shortstop.
It is easy to pick out a few positions and point out the flaws, but the Red Sox as a team posted a UZR of -16.3 last year. This led to a highest-in-MLB batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .320. For comparison’s sake, the Seattle Mariners led the league in team UZR with 85.5 runs above average. Not surprisingly, they also had the lowest team BABIP in the majors at .280. The design of Fenway Park leads to some quirky BABIP in itself, but the Red Sox maintained a .297 team BABIP in 2008, and .292 while winning the World Series in 2007.
The Red Sox staff as a unit should benefit greatly from the improved defense, but Jon Lester especially. Fans of other AL East teams might want to close their eyes, but with a .323 BABIP in 2009, Lester was still good enough to maintain a 3.41 ERA. As a pitcher who yields comparable numbers of groundballs and flyballs, Lester should benefit from all the additions, and could see his BABIP fall this season. This could mean an improvement in his numbers, across the board.
Beyond Lester, young righty Clay Buchholz and his career groundball percentage of nearly 49.9% should greatly benefit from the above-average infield defense of Beltre, Scutaro, Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia.
Feel confident in Boston pitchers not only for their individual abilities, but also because of the imported vacuum cleaners brought in to upgrade the defense. That those pitchers figure to benefit from solid run support won’t hurt either.
For more on the Boston Red Sox pitching staff, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kits.
By Erik Hahmann
The third base position is one of the more top-heavy in fantasy baseball this season. Alex Rodriguez, David Wright, and Evan Longoria lead the charge with B-Ranks (Bloomberg Sports’ proprietary fantasy ranking of all players) of 3rd, 14th, and 16th respectively. Those three should be off the board early, and shouldn’t be available after the mid-second round in standard 12-team mixed leagues.
Seeing these players disappear quickly might make you rush to select a third basemen before you need to. Have no fear, here are a few third basemen who could present great value deeper into your draft.
Adrian Beltre: The move to Boston and Fenway Park should be a boon for Beltre. Last season, playing 81 games in cavernous Safeco Field – a pitcher-friendly park that’s especially tough on right-handed power hitters – Beltre posted a home/road OPS split of .646/.717. Compare that with Fenway, where the only Red Sox player to have a lower OPS at home than on the road was Victor Martinez (minimum 200 AB).
Joining a Red Sox offense that ranked in the top three in runs scored and OPS last season should also provide Beltre with ample opportunities to pad his offensive numbers. The 2009 season was the worst of Beltre’s career at the plate; a shoulder injury sapped his power, caused him to miss 30 games and hit just eight homers all season. If fully healthy, playing in Fenway and flanked by multiple good hitters, Beltre could easily approach his 2005-2008 numbers, when he averaged 25 home runs and 83 RBI a year.
Ian Stewart: At just 24, Ian Stewart enjoyed a breakout year in his first full season, hitting 25 homers and driving in 70 runs in just 425 ABs. However, things could, and probably should, have been much better. Stewart’s batting average on balls in play (which is like regular batting average, only stripping strikeouts from the equation) was just .270 – 35 points below his career average. Stewart’s fantasy value is centered entirely around his power numbers, as you can see in his spider chart below. His BABIP should rebound, making him a cheap power source who won’t kill your batting average as he ascends to full-time duty.
For more information on Adrian Beltre, Ian Stewart, Troy Glaus and hundreds of other players check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy tools.