Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw discuss whether the fans’ selections for the National League All-Star team were right and who should be starting the All-Star Game in Kansas City on July 10.
Buster Posey was not the right choice for the All-Star team. Phillies backstop Carlos Ruiz is having a sensational season, hitting .357 with 13 home runs, 46 RBI and a surprising three stolen bases. He has definitely been the best catcher in baseball this season.
The fans got this one right by selecting Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who is probably the MVP of the first half of the season. He’s batting .350 with 14 home runs and 47 RBI.
Brandon Phillips of the Reds should be starting rather than Dan Uggla. Phillips has a .279 average, 10 home runs and 47 RBI. He is also a good defensive player, which Uggla is not.
The fans made the wrong choice by selecting Pablo Sandoval, who has missed plenty of time this season due to injury. David Wright of the Mets should have been the pick, as he has been an MVP candidate so far this year with a .350 average, 10 home runs, 55 RBI and eight stolen bases.
Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro should be starting in place of Rafael Furcal. Castro is batting .291 with six home runs, 40 RBI and 16 stolen bases. Despite those numbers, he can be frustrating because he makes a lot of boneheaded plays but he is young and will hopefully grow out of that.
Not one of the three outfielders chosen by the fans was the right pick. Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies should be starting instead of Melky Cabrera. Gonzalez is batting .340 with 17 home runs, 58 RBI and 10 stolen bases, though he is helped out by playing at Coors Field.
Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun should have been selected over Matt Kemp. Braun is once again putting up MVP numbers with a .309 average, 23 home runs, 59 RBI and 13 stolen bases.
Finally, Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen should have been chosen rather than Carlos Beltran. McCutchen is batting .360 with 16 home runs, 54 RBI and 14 stolen bases. Beltran would have been a good selection if the National League had a designated hitter. He has a .304 average, 20 home runs, 63 RBI and eight stolen bases this season.
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By Eriq Gardner //
Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies is having a very charmed season. By season’s end, he’ll have roughly 35 HRs, 25 SBs, 120 RBIs, 110 Runs, and a .340 batting average. These numbers arguably earn him the title as the season’s Fantasy MVP and gain him consideration as one of the top few picks heading into next year. The case in his favor
Let’s start out with the obvious: CarGo has been the beneficiary of tremendous luck this season.
The biggest knock against Gonzalez is his plate discipline. He strikes out 23% of the time and only takes a walk 6% of the time. This has added up to a .389 BABIP, which puts him only behind Josh Hamilton and Austin Jackson among players with regular playing time who have benefited from better luck on balls hit in play. Certainly, we can expect a higher-than-normal BABIP considering Gonzalez’ great speed, but not this high. Expected regression could knock anywhere from 40 to 60 points off that lofty .340 batting average.
As for power, don’t expect 35 HRs again. Yes, he’s the beneficiary of playing in the tremendous hitting environment of Coors Field. But then again, CarGo is rather below-average in hitting for fly balls. His 37% rate is below average, roughly on par with Rajai Davis.or Alberto Callaspo. He’s knocked 35 out of the park this year thanks to the fact that nearly 21% of his fly balls have gone for HRs. Only Joey Votto, Carlos Pena, Jose Bautista, and Adam Dunn sport a higher percentage. At 6’1” and 210 pounds, Carlos Gonzalez carries less body mass than those other four to support such massive power.
Carlos Gonzalez’ great luck in average and power has contributed to him reaching triple digits in both runs and RBIs. The team has another excellent player in Troy Tulowitzki, but the decline of Todd Helton and the departure of Brad Hawpe leaves the lineup dependent on youngsters like Ian Stewart, Dexter Fowler, Eric Young Jr. and Seth Smith to get on base in front of CarGo or reciprocally drive him home. Any slippage in the ability to get on base or knock balls out of the park will erode his ability to post elite context stats in runs and RBIs like the production he’s given this season.
That’s part 1 of the case against Carlos Gonzalez.
All of which might be acceptable but for two more glaring facts about Carlos Gonzalez: First, to put it simply, he’s never done this before. And second, his price tag in fantasy leagues is going to be through the roof coming off such a stellar year.
Yes, he was a very fine prospect coming up through the minors, is only 24-years-old, and is still growing.
By Eno Sarris //
It’s a little tough to make the case for Carlos Gonzalez next year when you agree with many of the points made by the other side, in this case by Eriq Gardner. A lot of luck on the batted ball does go into most .340 batting averages, and Gonzalez has certainly seen a few balls clear the fence that haven’t before. He probably won’t put up the same season next year, that much we can grant.
But how much will he regress? If he regresses just a little bit, he could still be an outfielder with a .300 batting average and 25+/25+ numbers, which would probably make his owners happy even if they spent an early first-round pick on him.
The .389 BABIP is an eyesore to the sabremetrically-inclined fantasy fan. That number seems like it includes a lot of luck. But we also know that every player has their own ‘true’ BABIP level, based on their unique blend of speed and batted ball mix. Peter Bendix once created an xBABIP calculator to see what an expected BABIP might be, given these factors, and using that calculator we find that CarGo’s xBABIP this year is .349. The difference in hits would be 18 hits if he featured his xBABIP instead of his BABIP, and his batting average would instead be .308 instead of .341. Gonzalez could be a little less lucky and still have a strong batting average next year.
The fact that he is showing the best power in his career doesn’t necessarily mean that he won’t come close again next year. His ISO this year is .270, last year it was .241. In the minor leagues, it was .194 overall, but .291 in his final stop. If he retreats to an ISO between his last two major league numbers, he’ll be in among Mark Reynolds, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Quentin and Vernon Wells on the ISO leaderboard. His power likely won’t disappear completely in other words, especially if he still calls Coors Field home, since he has a career .292 ISO in 155 home games.
About his flyballs and the HR/FB rate, those numbers fluctuate from year to year. Last year, he hit 38.8% flyballs, and 16.7% HR/FB. This year, those numbers are 36.9% and 20.9%, respectively. In the minor leagues, his full-year flyball rates fluctuated from 30.7% to 43% at different stops. He could easily hit more flyballs next year, have fewer home runs per flyball, and not see a huge drop in his home run total.
One last note. Gardner mentions the lineup around Gonzalez as a negative, but it seems like more of a positive to this analyst. As Todd Helton and Clint Barmes have declined or shown their flaws, they have lost at-bats to younger players, and Ian Stewart, Dexter Fowler, Eric Young Jr. and Seth Smith all have upside beyond their current levels. Projecting an entire lineup is iffy either way, but let’s just say: Carlos Gonzalez is the number-three hitter for the Colorado Rockies. In 2009, the three-hitter for the Rockies accrued 92 runs and 100 RBI. As long as the offense stays somewhat similar and Gonzalez stays healthy, he will likely approach 100/100 numbers in those categories.
If you pro-rate out CarGo’s 2009 totals to 600 plate appearances – which is problematic considering he only accrued 317 PA, but let’s do this for the sake of comparison – he might have had 25 home runs and 30 stolen bases. Add a batting average close to .300, and you still have a very exciting young player worth a very high draft pick, especially in leagues that break out the outfielder positions and count CarGo as a center fielder.
Gonzalez’s numbers in 2011 might not look like 2010’s gaudy Triple Crown-contending statistics, but the power and speed are real, and there’s little reason to think that next year’s Rockies lineup won’t allow him to accrue 100 runs and 100 RBI yet again. He’s a great keeper and a great first-round investment next year. Auction managers should remember to temper their power expectations when bidding, but otherwise it’s all “go CarGo” here.
For more on Carlos Gonzalez and other power/speed outfielders, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Tools.