Saturday, July 31, 2010

Player of the Fortnight vol. 2

The All-Star Break ended two weeks ago, last night, which means we may welcome back one of Baseball's most prestegious awards: the BAseball Reality Tour Player of the Fortnight Awards.

The last time we handed out some hardware, July 9th, the awards went to Rafael Furcal, Josh Johnson, Ian Kinsler, and Jon Lester.

NL Hitter of the Fortnight
Rickie Weeks, Brewers

A few numbers: .326/.441/.837. Power and patience were present, as he only hit 6 singles, while clubbing 7 HR's in 49 AB's and drawing 8 BB's.

It gives us great pleasure to see Weeks here, since we traded for him during the All Star Break, thus benefiting from all of this production. What makes it extra sweet is that he was basically a throw-in, as we were targeting Miguel Cabrera in the swap.

Others receiving votes: Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Chris Johnson (!)*, and Joey Votto.

NL Pitcher of the Fortnight
Brett Myers, Astros

A couple of weeks ago, I wanted to write a post expoloring who's be a better trade target, Brett Myers or Ted Lilly. It still seems like an open debate, as Lilly has also had a great fortnight. Roy Halladay, Matt Cain, Tommy Hanson, Josh Johnson, and even R.A. Dickey deserve to be mentioned for their performances, but Myers get the hardware this time. Brett's FIP only trailed Tommy Hanson's in the NL, and by the slimmest of margins 1.99 to 1.98. His xFIP was by far the best in the league (2.03), when the 2nd best score was Josh Johnson's 2.84.

If you're partial to more standard numbers, Brett Myers started two games, went 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA, faced 60 batters, allowing 9 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 20. One of his starts was a Complete Game.

*What a fortnight it has been for the Astros! Everyone is talking about the trades of their two franchise players in Oswalt and Berkman, and rightfully so. Meanwhile, they could have been concentrating more on the great performances by Brett Myers and Chris Johnson.

AL Hitter of the Fortnight
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

With trade rumors swirling around him like a tornado swooping up Dominican Dorothy & Toto in Kansas, if Kansas were in Canada, Jose Bautista has continued to pound the ball and hit Homeruns. He leads all of baseball with 31 HR's, including 7 in the past fortnight. His slash line is a robust .434/.483/.962 (.962!) Bautista has been the best player in baseball since the ASB. For those of you who are inclined to use wOBA, his was an unheard of .604. (For comparison's sake, Rickie Weeks slugged .837, with a .529 wOBA.)

Others receiving votes: Nelson Cruz, Jack Cust, Danny Valencia, Delmon Young (what a crew!)

AL Pitcher of the Fortnight
Cliff Lee, Rangers

Let there be no doubt, the best pitcher in baseball since the break has been Cliff Lee. At this point, if I were an agent, I would want my pitching clients to get sent down to Triple-A Buffalo and go on the 2007 Cliff Lee regiment. What's really odd is that he wasn't even good during his stink in Buffalo. He went 1-3 with a 5.5 BB/9 inning mark that would make any pitching coach cringe. Yet, he's come back into our lives with the Indians, Phillies, Mariners, and Rangers as this generations Lefty Grove.

Okay, so he's not Lefty Grove, but the past three years, he's been a dead ringer for vintage Tom Glavine. One stat: the past two weeks, Lee's K/BB ratio has been 23/1.

Others receiving votes: Shaun Marcum, Gavin Floyd, Francisco Liriano, CJ Wilson, Carl Pavano, Neftali Feliz, and Felix Hernandez.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Yankee Puma & Austin's Power

The Yankee clubhouse just got a whole lot classier. If Lance Berkman does not fit in with the Yankees, it will be because there is something wrong with the Yankees. I think guys like Cap'n Jetes, Swish, AJ & CC, Granderson, Nick Johnson, and of course homeboy Andy Pettitte will help Lance feel nice and comfortable. He's a great hitter who's had some struggles due to injuries and mileage. We think he can brace himself and have a great run here in pinstripes.

Egads, I just looked at the bounty the Astros received for Berkman: Marc Melancon and Jimmy Paredes. Looking at their profiles does not instill great confidence in Houston's future. But hey, at least Brett Wallace can play everyday now that Berkman's off the team.

Woah, this just in: the Yankees also traded cash or a player to be named later to Cleveland for Austin Kearns. Kearns was a prized prospect for the Reds who battled injuries and hit well against the Cubs. He can still crush a fastball, and particularly lefties. He'll be an improvement over the Marcus Thameses of the world.

And wait, what's this? The Yankees aren't done? Buster Olney tweets that they are working on a third trade today, presumably for someone who can also play 3rd base. Ramiro Peña? You're not getting it done. I guess, I should start getting excited for another championship parade down the Canyon of Heroes in about three months.

So Long CD, Aloha Kila

The Jorge Cantu/Chris Davis platoon lasted zero days, as Davis was sent packing to Oklahoma City right after the trade with the Marlins. Chris Davis is stuck. He has nothing to prove in Triple A, but hasn't been able to do anything during his big league at bats. He's dangerously close to getting tagged with the dreaded Quadruple A label.

It's sad, but it happens every year. Prospects become minor league veterans. Sometimes, players shake the tag and succeed as late bloomers. Jack Cust is a recent success story, as a player who had been given up on more than once.

After hitting 1 Homerun for the Rockies in 2002, 4 HR's for the Orioles in 2003, and 200 Minor League Homeruns for various organizations, Jack Cust hit 26, 33, and 25 Homeruns for the Oakland A's in 2007, '08, and '09. Jack Cust was 28 years old when he took advantage of his opportunity in 2007.

Which brings us to the story of a young ballplayer who many believe is wasting his talents on Triple A fields for the Omaha Royals. The Scott Podsenik to Los Angeles trade may have opened up an everyday spot in the lineup for the Big Walking Hawaiian.

Kila Ka'aihue turned 26 years old during Spring Training this season. That is the prime age for hitters these days. He has compiled hall of fame minor league numbers, if there can be such a thing. In 2008, he triple slashed across two levels AA/AAA .314/.456/.628, with 37 Homeruns in 124 games. He followed that with a .252/.392/.433 in is first full season in Triple A. After a good spring training this year, he didn't make the big league club. His performance at Omaha has been a dominant .319/.462/.593, with 23 HR's. Since the start of the 2008 season, Kila Ka'aihue's strikeout to walk ration has been a stupendous to 220 K's to 292 BB's.

Kila's ability to control the strike zone makes him a good bet to be a solid Major League hitter. His negatives are a lack of speed & raw power and an apparent inability to catch a moving baseball. If you're like me, and you had Chris Davis on your fantasy team (again), you'll want to find a replacement. It will not be hard to find someone who'll be able to outperform Davis, as he was one of the worst hitters in the American League.

Personally, I'd look at picking up Domonic Brown or Logan Morrison first. If they're gone, and your league uses OBP, then I'd definitely keep an eye out for a report that the Kansas City called up Kila Ka'aihue.

If Kila won't get a shot from KC, then make sure to take a look at Mike Moustakas. He's only 21 years old, and he batted .347, with a 1.100 OPS, and 21 HR's in just 66 Double-A games. As could be expected of a 21-year old, he has not dominated Triple-A pitching since being called up to Omaha a few weeks ago. If Dayton Moore's process doesn't get in the way, the Royals have a bright future in the perennially winnable AL Central. We were serious about that Royals bandwagon in 2013.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Fistfull of Trades

Roy Oswalt to the Phillies for J.A. Happ, Anthony Gose*, and Jonathan Villar

Our reaction is that Oswalt is more than capable of being an elite pitcher in the postseason. If they make it, the Phillies will be very strong in the postseason with Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels going 1-2-3. We're leaning towards thinking that's better than what St. Louis and San Francisco have to offer from their top 3 starters. We don't think the Phillies gave up too much, since they didn't have to include Domonic Brown. The Astros get extreme salary relief and some decent pieces that could help.

*Side deal: Anthony Gose to the Blue Jays for Brett Wallace

I've never been that high on Brett Wallace, but I tend to think it's a very good swap for Houston when Keith Law writes "He's twice as valuable a prospect as Gose."

Jorge Cantu to the Rangers for Double-A right-handed pitchers Omar Poveda and Evan Reed

Cantu's value gets a serious boost, when he's in the lineup. The question is whether he'll play everyday, or platoon with Chris Davis. Cantu's departure opens up complete more playing time for Logan Morrison in South Florida.

*Interestingly enough, for me and my fantasy stakeholders, Cantu, Davis, and Morrison (and the Marlins Gaby Sanchez) are all on our fantasy team. Will all four of these guys maintain their value?

Cantu and Davis are both on the bubble because it looks like they'll be competing for at bats, unless Michael Young needs a break or one of them can move to the outfield.

Miguel Tejada to the Padres for Double-A right-handed pitcher Wynn Pelzer

Tejada had a chance to add fantasy relevance with a trade to a contender. It also would have helped if his team had a good lineup around him and played half their games in a hitters' park. Unfortunately for Miggy and his fantasy owners, going to San Diego adds close to zero value.

Former Dodger prospect Josh Bell should get a chance at everyday at bats with the Orioles. What he does with them is anybody's guess. We're not as excited as some of the folks at Boog's BBQ.

Scott Podsednik to the Dodgers for Luke May and Elisaul Pimentel

Fantastic move for the process of Dayton Moore. Podsenik is fondly thought of around Fox Sports Net as Lisa Dergan's husband. He's also been a favorite of Batting Average and empty stolen base aficionados.

Based on his true talent and peripheral stats, salary relief and organizational depth should be sufficient return for Scotty Pods. Dayton Moore still has a lot of making up to do for his long and distinguished list of gaffes, but this time the Royals actually got two players with potential.

From MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith:
May, 25, is hitting .285/.344/.472 with 11 homers in the upper minors, mostly at Triple A. The Dodgers drafted him as a shortstop in the eighth round of the 2003 draft and current Royals scout Mitch Webster signed him. Moore says May is a "slam dunk MLB catcher" in some capacity, though he is still developing behind the plate.

Before the 2007 season, May became a full-time catcher. Baseball America said he was still an "inconsistent" receiver before this season, when they ranked May 17th among Dodgers prospects. BA noted his ability to square up fastballs and his struggles with off-speed and breaking pitches.

Pimentel, who was honored as the Topps Midwest League Player of the Month for June, has a 3.49 ERA in 16 starts this year. The 22-year-old Dominican native has, to borrow Moore's words, "eye-popping" minor league numbers: 9.7 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 with that tidy 3.49 ERA.
Bravo to the Royals. Let's get on that 2012 bandwagon while there are plenty of good seats available.

Jhonny Peralta to the Tigers for minor league pitcher Giovanni Soto

Peralta should help the Tigers. He's struggled for much of the past year and a half, but signs show that all hope is not lost for this versatile player with some pop.

It's been another great race in the AL Central this season. The White Sox, Twins, and Tigers will be battling until the last week of the season. Until then, the debate should be: Who's more valuable? Giovanni Soto, Astros' farmhand Jiovanni Mier, or the Cubs' Geovany Soto?

Right now, we'd rank them as:

1.) Jiovanni Mier
2.) Geovany Soto
3.) Giovanni Soto

Monday, July 26, 2010

Garza's No-No & Galarraga

Matt Garza just no-hit the Detroit Tigers in front a thrilled home faithful. There was another interesting spectator, a member of the Detroit Tigers: Armando Galarraga.

As you might recall, Galarraga almost threw a Perfect Game on June 2nd, but a bad call on the 27th out, blew it. Galarraga handled the adversity with Andre Dawson-esque class, and most people around the game conceded that he did indeed achieve a certain level of folk hero immortality.

Tonight, Matt Garza threw 120 pitches, 80 for strikes, walked only one batter, and faced the minimum 27 batters by following that walk with a double play to end the 2nd inning. Yes, Matt Garza retired the last 22 batters he faced. It's a classic performance, and he deserves all the praise he'll receive.

Part of me wonders, however, what was Armando Galarraga thinking as he watched the opposing Rays celebrating in a manner he couldn't?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Prospect Spotlight w/Reggie

Back in the glory days of Sports Talk radio in the mid-90s, we would sometimes try to make White Sox fans sound even more like complete morons than they really are. Before the days of caller ID, and thus before spoof, we would call a radio program repeatedly with different personas. Much of the background can be found. Our accents were key to characters like HP Bob, Jorge from LA, Christian, Tutti, Milk, Roheet, & Balfro, whom we described in our “What’s Up with Yonder Alonso?” post.

One time, I’ll never forget, Reggie from Gurnee called in as a Sox fan. This was during the apex of Cal Ripken fever, merely weeks before he’d break Lou Gehrig’s record. Cal was bringing people back to the game of baseball, with everyday class, signing autographs until everyone was satisfied, being available for the media, for the fans, for his team, and for Baseball.

So, Reggie called in with what appeared to be a bit of slur in his speech, but passion in his voice. He wanted to vent at the media for – in his words – “Why everyone gotta always talk about ‘When Cal Ripken gonna break the streak? When Cal Ripken gonna break the streak?’ Why is no-one talkin’ about Frank Thomas, best player eber?”

Often times, our craziest outbursts would result in getting hung up on and having the last 5 seconds of our call dropped from the broadcast. On this blessed evening, though, the hosts decided to have a go at it. One of the guys shrieked, “Cal Ripken is single-handedly bringing fans back to baseball. He’s signing kids’ autographs for hours before and after every game!”

Reggie would have none of it, “I don’t think they should want him autograph! He no good, no more.”

Cal wasn’t really playing at his Hall of Fame peak, being 34 years old and presumably not on EPO. Still, he was in the midst of the 4.1 WAR season. The train sort of went off the track when Reggie started whining that not enough people talk about Harold Baines and Jack McDowell, who “everyone knows is the best pitcher ever!”

We got to the point where one of the hosts calmly, took a step back, and softly stated, “This is the most insane rhetoric I’ve ever heard.”

He was right. Reggie didn’t have a wobbly leg to stand on. Frank Thomas had just won his 2nd consecutive MVP award, which is voted on by the media.

As nonsequitorial introductions go, I’m pretty comfortable with that anecdote. We’re here to take a quick peek at another highly anticipated baseball prospect to get a grasp of how excited we should be for his debut & career. Today’s guest will be Toronto Blue Jays farmhand, Catcher, J.P. Arencibia.

We heard a couple of years ago that this guy was another version of the truth. A power hitter who wears the tools of ignorance will be valuable to some team, much like any left-hander who can basically throw strikes.

J.P. was the 21st overall pick in the 2007 draft, which when talking catchers will always be thought of as the Matt Wieters draft.

Since becoming a professional, he’s actually shown more power than in college. 27 HR's in 2008, 21 HR's in 2009, and 29 HR's already this year! We are here for the power, and it's trending very nicely for the Blue Jays. A common calamity that prospects suffer from, strikeouts, also afflicts Arencibia. His strikeout percentage coming into this year, by year and level…

2007 Low A: 22.5%
2008 High A: 17.6%
2008 AA: 20.0%
2009 AAA: 22.8%

This year in AAA, he’s improved his strikeout to a still to 18.7%, but his BB% is, albeit a career high, still only 7.8%.

Interestingly, looking at his Minor League Splits has shown that he hits lefties better in odd years, with better results versus righties in even years.

Staying on the very nice Minor League Splits website, we see that Arencibia’s stat line, adjusted for park effects and luck is a robust .316/.370/.633. His Major League equivalent numbers project 19 HR's, but a more pedestrian line of .251/.296/.488.

It looks like he could be a good catcher, but not an overall offensive force no matter where you play him. Maybe he's as good as Buster Posey. I don't think he'll be as good as Carlos Santana. Maybe Matt Napoli can be a comparable player, but that’s just a gut feeling. Who knows? Maybe he can be like Gary Carter and get inducted into the Hall of Fame like the other Expo, who’s going in today, Andre Dawson.

Congratulations, Andre. You’re the best. We can’t wait for the speech, from a man of few words.

50 Worst MLB'ers

Good friend and brilliant reader, Jason, comment on our Top 50 Baseball Player series: “Bad contracts can [be] almost as harmful as good contracts can be helpful.”

Since this will always be a place for the readers, we’ll deliver on his earlier request for “the opposite post, starring Alfonso Soriano [sic]”.

The following is our humble attempt to list the worst MLB players in the game.

Players included either do not perform well enough to merit their place on a Major League roster, or they are grossly overpaid.

There are subtle ways to consider the question “Who are the worst players in baseball?” I mean, are we asking who are the least valuable players in the Majors? We're obviously not talking about the worst players in the minors who could be working at Sears in a few months. But, are we asking who has the most untradeable contract? Who has the worst skills? Worst production?

This is a tough exercise because of the cost of dollars varies from team to team. Unless you’re a Yankee or Red Sox fan, if your team has an albatross contract assigned to someone playing below All Star levels, your team is going to suffer. (See: Chicago Cubs)

Usually, it’s about the money. Dave Cameron’s Negative Trade Value column concluded with Alex Rodriguez as the player with the most negative trade value. He’s certainly not the worst player in baseball.

Looking at production value calculators, like this sorted list on fangraphs, show Adam Lind is having a really bad year – 3rd worst among all active players. He’s not the 3rd worst player in the Majors.

Pedro Feliz and Brandon Wood are the two players who eclipse Lind in the futility of their production but I’m also not sure how terrible they are. They’ve had their moments, and Wood still presumably has a future. They rate so low because their teams gave them so many opportunities.

We’re going to try and look at the league’s players through the prism combining salary, skills, production, perceived value, opportunity cost, true talent, and perceived talent, and true talent – which, unfortunately, often takes a back seat to the other influences.

We do not like to be perceived as too negative here on the ol’ blog. Instead of focusing on who are the most overpaid, underperforming players, we can look at this as an exercise to see who the Best Agents are.

Which agents get teams to overpay their clients the most? Who is representing MLB players who aren’t much better than other veteran players who are out of jobs? Yeah, that’ll work. Let’s try to have some fun with this.

Based on popular demand, we present the BAseball Reality Tour 50 Worst MLB’ers:

50. Josh Beckett, Red Sox
49. Kosuke Fukudome, Cubs
48. Ryan Theroit, Cubs
47. Reggie Willits, Angels
46. David Eckstein, Padres
45. Ryan Rowland-Smith, Mariners
44. Craig Counsell, Brewers
43. Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks
42. Robb Quinlan, Angels
41. Garret Anderson, Dodgers
40. Todd Coffey, Brewers
39. Randy Wynn, Cardinals
38. John Grabow, Cubs
37. Ian Snell, Mariners
36. Todd Helton, Rockies
35. Jason Bay, Mets
34. Mike Jacobs, Mets
33. Wily Taveraz, Braves
32. Jason Kendall, Royals
31. Willie Bloomquist, Royals
30. Nate McLouth, Braves
29. Dontrelle Willis, Giants
28. Aaron Rowand, Giants
27. Jeff Suppan, Cardinals
26. Randy Wolf, Brewers
25. Latroy Hawkins, Brewers
24. Barry Zito, Giants
23. Matt Holliday, Cardinals
22. Aaron Miles, Cardinals
21. Kei Igawa, Yankees
20. Vernon Wells, Blue Jays
19. Chone Figgins, Mariners
18. Derek Lowe, Braves
17. Kyle Lohse, Cardinals
16. Gil Meche, Royals
15. Milton Bradley, Mariners
14. Garrett Atkins, Orioles
13. Pedro Feliz, Astros
12. Jeff Francouer, Mets
11. Brandon Lyon, Astros
10. Chad Qualls, Diamondbacks
9. Jason Marquis, Nationals
8. Carlos Lee, Astros
7. Oliver Perez, Mets
6. Yuniesky Betancourt, Royals
5. Gary Matthews, Jr., Reds/Angels
4. Travis Hafner, Indians
3. Eric Chavez, A’s
2. Carlos Zambrano, Cubs
1. Alfonso Soriano, Cubs

I don’t claim to know everything. In fact, I’m closer to knowing nothing. This has always been a forum for discussion. Please let us know who else should be on this list. Who are we underrating? Is Josh Beckett still a stud? Did we err by omitting the big contract club of Arod, Holliday, and Ryan Howard? Brandon Webb was only included because his $8.5 million option should never have picked up.

Overall, who’s bad? Who’s worse? Also, what does it say for your favorite franchise? Do they have a player, or two, or more on the list? What does it say about teams like the Rangers, who don’t have any players listed? The Reds, also should be excluded because Gary Matthews, Jr is still the Angels problem, financially.

It's upsetting to think of the Cubs future with Soriano and Zambrano eating up most of the budget and post game buffet for the next few years. Maybe I'm being to harsh on them, by including five Cubs on this list. They're lucky that I didn't also include Carlos Silva and Ryan Dempster. They were in the running the whole time. In fact, I had Silva as high as 14th on the list until I decided to formally acknowledge his useful first half.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

599*

Alex Rodriguez hit his 599th homerun tonight, but a couple of days ago, in his latest blog post, Ken Rosenthal raised an interesting point about Alex Rodriguez:
A-Rod, with each homer, gets closer to $30 million in potential bonuses: $6 million each for tying Willie Mays at 660 homers, Babe Ruth at 714 and Hank Aaron at 755, and tying and breaking Barry Bonds’ record of 762.

The late George Steinbrenner, in his heyday, might have attempted to void those suckers after A-Rod’s admission of steroid use. As it stands, the Yankees figure to receive little of the marketing benefit they anticipated when they included the milestone bonuses in A-Rod’s 10-year, $275 million contract.
Rosenthal goes on to elaborate on that last point with examples of how Arod has personally lost marketability.* Since signing his extension, he lost his standing as the best player on his team, in his division, and at his position. Lastly, Rosenthal shows ways fans have lost the fever to follow a home run chase. The entire post is worth a read.

*I wonder if Tiger had anything to do with that.

When Jason Giambi apologized for nothing in particular about five and a half years ago, there were whispers that the Yankees may try to void his salary because they were duped by a steroid using cheater.

For once, I agree whole heartedly with Ken Rosenthal. I would love to see the Yankees make an example of Afraud and file a grievance with the Commissioner's office. How else may we try to preserve our preferred view of the All-Time Homerun Leaders list?

Henry Aaron ~ 755
Babe Ruth ~ 714
Willie Mays ~ 660
Ken Griffey, Jr ~ 630
Frank Robinson ~ 586
Jim Thome ~ 575
Harmon Killebrew ~ 573
Reggie Jackson ~ 563
Mike Schmidt ~ 548
Mickey Mantle ~ 536
Jimmie Foxx ~ 534
Willie McCovey ~ 521
Frank Thomas ~ 521
Ted Williams ~ 521
Ernie Banks ~ 512
Eddie Matthews ~ 512
Mel Ott ~ 511
Eddie Murray ~ 504

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Top 50: Omissions & Revisions

Whenever sharing opinions of who’s better, who’s best in baseball, like in the very good reading & reference book: Elliot Kalb’s Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Baseball?, debate will be sparked.

Last night, at 11:40pm, we published our list of Top 50 Baseball Players. Three hours and nine minutes later, 2:49am, the slightly used comment board perked up with a post from good friend and reader, Jason, who said…
"I don't think you can have a pitcher in the top 10. Way to injury prone (Wood, Zambrano, Prior, Peavey, Beckett, etc.)

Longoria has to be 1 with that cheap contract. Also, where's Jason Heyward?

You need to do the opposite post too starring Alfonso Soriano."
Let’s forget, for a minute, the first point about pitchers being injury prone. Also, we’ll forget, for much longer than a minute, about the last suggestion of 50 least valuable players. Let’s focus on the “Also” part of the second line. Where’s Jason Heyward?

Reading those words made me grateful for our work environment around the ol’ blog being very forgiving with oversights, lack of adequate research, and the occasional disregard for basic journalistic fundamentals. An editor would have been handy on that. Heck, and editor RIGHT NOW would be handy to make sure this piece isn’t worth less than the paper it’s not being printed on. So please, kind readers, if you're a fan of anyone who should be listed here, please let us know. Be heard!

As I responded on the comment board, Heyward settled comfortably at #5 on our current Top 50 board. I’m also glad that we mentioned last night that the list “could change from day to day, or certainly month to month”.

It is in that spirit that we quickly share an updated snapshot of the list.

The only change is Heyward listed at #5. Sadly, this leaves prized prospect Logan Morrison off the list to #51. For those of you who’ve wondered, #52 is Pittsburgh Pirate, and former Vanderbilt Commodore, Pedro Alvarez.

50. Aroldis Chapman, Reds, 6 years/$30.25M (2010-15)
49. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers, 5 years/$30.1M (2010-14), plus ‘15 club opt
48. Justin Smoak, Mariners, 1 year/$0.400M (2010)
47. Brian Matusz, Orioles, 4 years/$3,472,500 (2008-11)
46. Cliff Lee, Rangers, 1 year/$8M (2010)
45. Domonic Brown, Phillies (m)
44. Ian Kinsler, Rangers, 5 years/$22M (2008-12), plus ‘13 club opt
43. Brian McCann, Braves, 6 years/$26.8M (2007-12), plus ‘13 club opt
42. Josh Hamilton, Rangers, 1 year/$3.25M (2010)
41. Prince Fielder, Brewers, 2 year/$18M (2009-10)
40. Phil Hughes, Yankees, 1 year/$0.447M (2010)
39. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, 1 year/$0.4225M (2010)
38. Buster Posey, Giants, 1 year/$0.4M (2010)
37. Jay Bruce, Reds, 1 year/$0.44M (2010)
36. Colby Rasmus, Cardinals, 1 year/$0.418M (2010)
35. Matt Wieters, Orioles, 1 year/$0.4M (2010)
34. Shin-Soo Choo, Indians, 1 year/$0.4611M (2010)
33. Justin Morneau, Twins, 6 years/$80M (2008-13)
32. Mat Latos, Padres, 1 year/$0.4078M (2010)
31. Carlos Santana, Indians, 1 year/$0.4M (2010)
30. Tommy Hanson, Braves, 1 year/$0.435M (2010)
29. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, 1 year/$0.44M (2010)
28. Joe Mauer, Twins, 8 years/$184M (2011-18)
27. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals, 4 years/$15M (2008-11), plus ‘12-‘13 club opts
26. Carl Crawford, Rays, 1 year/$10M (2010 Option)
25. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox, 4 years/$41.125M (2009-12), plus ‘13 club opt
24. Justin Verlander, Tigers, 5 years/$80M (2010-14)
23. Chase Utley, Phillies, 7 years/$85M (2007-13)
22. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox, 6 years/$40.5M (2009-14), plus ‘15 club option
21. Francisco Liriano, Twins, 1 year/$1.6M (2010)
20. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres, 4 years/$9.5M (2007-10), plus ‘11 club option
19. Zack Greinke, Royals, 4 years/$38M (2009-12)
18. David Price, Rays, 6 years/$8.5M (2007-12)
17. Roy Halladay, Phillies, 3 years/$60M (2011-13), plus ‘14 option
16. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, 8 years/$152.3M (2008-15)
15. David Wright, Mets, 6 years/$55M (2007-2012), plus ‘13 club option
14. Robinson Cano, Yankees, 4 years/$30M (2008-11), plus ‘12-‘13 club options
13. Tim Lincecum, Giants, 2 years/$23M (2010-11)
12. Albert Pujols, Cardinals, 7 years/$100M (2004-10), plus ‘11 club option
11. Felix Hernandez, Mariners, 5 years/$78M (2010-14)
10. Jon Lester, Red Sox, 5 years/$30M (2009-13), plus ‘14 club option
9. Joey Votto, Reds, 1 year/$0.55M (2010)
8. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals, 5 years/$45M (2009-13)
7. Josh Johnson, Marlins, 4 years/$39M (2010-13)
6. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies, 4 years/$10M (2009-12), plus ‘13-14 club options
5. Jason Heyward, Braves, 1 year/$0.4M (2010)
4. Ryan Braun, Brewers, 8 years/$45M (2008-15)
3. Evan Longoria, Rays, 6 years/$17.5M (2008-13), plus ‘14-‘16 club options
2. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins, 6 years/$70M (2009-14)
1. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, 4 years/$15.1M (2009-12)


As Always, all contract numbers provided by Cot's Baseball Contracts.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Top 50 Baseball Players

ESPN.com's Bill Simmons does an NBA column like this every season. He calls it the NBA Trade Value column, and he decides to rank the Top 50 most valuable players in the NBA. Age, future performance, and contract status affect overall value. So, the key is that it’s not just who’s better, but overall whom would a team rather have on their roster. For example, Johan Santana is better than most pitchers in professional baseball, but his contract makes him unobtainable for some teams, so his trade value is not as high in comparison with his peers as his overall talent level.

As another example, CC Sabathia is probably considered a better pitcher than Yovani Gallardo by many talent evaluators. (Not us, but surely by many.) Anyway, due to the big difference in contract status, we think most teams would take Gallardo. As you’ll see in a few moments, Yovani is ranked 48th on our list.

Joe Posnanski has hinted, most recently in this post last week, that he will be getting to his “The 50 most valuable players in baseball” post. I thought it could be fun to beat him to it and later see how our lists compare. Not only that, I saw that the always awesome Dave Cameron started his Top 50 series this week. I purposely avoided reading his posts because I want to compare our lists after going through this exercise.

So, without further ado, here is our countdown of most valuable baseball players.

50. Logan Morrison, Marlins (minors)
49. Aroldis Chapman, Reds
48. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers
47. Justin Smoak, Mariners
46. Brian Matusz, Orioles
45. Cliff Lee, Rangers
44. Domonic Brown, Phillies (minors)
43. Ian Kinsler, Rangers
42. Brian McCann, Braves
41. Josh Hamilton, Rangers
40. Prince Fielder, Brewers
39. Phil Hughes, Yankees
38. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
37. Buster Posey, Giants
36. Jay Bruce, Reds
35. Colby Rasmus, Cardinals
34. Matt Wieters, Orioles
33. Shin-Soo Choo, Indians
32. Justin Morneau, Twins
31. Mat Latos, Padres
30. Carlos Santana, Indians
29. Tommy Hanson, Braves
28. Clayton Kershaw
27. Joe Mauer, Twins
26. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
25. Carl Crawford, Rays
24. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
23. Justin Verlander, Tigers
22. Chase Utley, Phillies
21. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
20. Francisco Liriano, Twins
19. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres
18. Zack Greinke, Royals
17. David Price, Rays
16. Roy Halladay, Phillies
15. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
14. David Wright, Mets
13. Robinson Cano, Yankees
12. Tim Lincecum, Giants
11. Albert Pujols, Cardinals
10. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
9. Jon Lester, Red Sox
8. Joey Votto, Reds
7. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
6. Josh Johnson, Marlins
5. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies
4. Ryan Braun, Brewers
3. Evan Longoria, Rays
2. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
1. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals


We talk about the AL East being the most competitive division in baseball. In the NL East, fans of the Phillies, Braves, and Mets argue for their team to win the division. Look at the other NL East teams, the Marlins and the Nationals, taking up four of the top seven players on this list. Sure, this list is just our list. Anyone can come up with this list.

The insane person in your neighborhood could have his, or her, own list. The fair weather fan from your office might have his own ideas. We fully acknowledge that this is, again, just a relatively meaningless list that could change from day to day, or certainly month to month. Still, looking at our list and seeing the Nationals and Marlins with 4 of the top 7 spots is incredible.

The list below is exactly the same, plus it includes contract details.

50. Logan Morrison, Marlins (m)
49. Aroldis Chapman, Reds, 6 years/$30.25M (2010-15)
48. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers, 5 years/$30.1M (2010-14), plus ‘15 club option
47. Justin Smoak, Mariners, 1 year/$0.400M (2010)
46. Brian Matusz, Orioles, 4 years/$3,472,500 (2008-11)
45. Cliff Lee, Rangers, 1 year/$8M (2010)
44. Domonic Brown, Phillies (m)
43. Ian Kinsler, Rangers, 5 years/$22M (2008-12), plus ‘13 club option
42. Brian McCann, Braves, 6 years/$26.8M (2007-12), plus ‘13 club option
41. Josh Hamilton, Rangers, 1 year/$3.25M (2010)
40. Prince Fielder, Brewers, 2 year/$18M (2009-10)
39. Phil Hughes, Yankees, 1 year/$0.447M (2010)
38. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, 1 year/$0.4225M (2010)
37. Buster Posey, Giants, 1 year/$0.4M (2010)
36. Jay Bruce, Reds, 1 year/$0.44M (2010)
35. Colby Rasmus, Cardinals, 1 year/$0.418M (2010)
34. Matt Wieters, Orioles, 1 year/$0.4M (2010)
33. Shin-Soo Choo, Indians, 1 year/$0.4611M (2010)
32. Justin Morneau, Twins, 6 years/$80M (2008-13)
31. Mat Latos, Padres, 1 year/$0.4078M (2010)
30. Carlos Santana, Indians, 1 year/$0.4M (2010)
29. Tommy Hanson, Braves, 1 year/$0.435M (2010)
28. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, 1 year/$0.44M (2010)
27. Joe Mauer, Twins, 8 years/$184M (2011-18)
26. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals, 4 years/$15M (2008-11), plus ‘12-‘13 club options
25. Carl Crawford, Rays, 1 year/$10M (2010 Option)
24. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox, 4 years/$41.125M (2009-12), plus ‘13 club option
23. Justin Verlander, Tigers, 5 years/$80M (2010-14)
22. Chase Utley, Phillies, 7 years/$85M (2007-13)
21. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox, 6 years/$40.5M (2009-14), plus ‘15 club option
20. Francisco Liriano, Twins, 1 year/$1.6M (2010)
19. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres, 4 years/$9.5M (2007-10), plus ‘11 club option
18. Zack Greinke, Royals, 4 years/$38M (2009-12)
17. David Price, Rays, 6 years/$8.5M (2007-12)
16. Roy Halladay, Phillies, 3 years/$60M (2011-13), plus ‘14 option
15. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, 8 years/$152.3M (2008-15)
14. David Wright, Mets, 6 years/$55M (2007-2012), plus ‘13 club option
13. Robinson Cano, Yankees, 4 years/$30M (2008-11), plus ‘12-‘13 club options
12. Tim Lincecum, Giants, 2 years/$23M (2010-11)
11. Albert Pujols, Cardinals, 7 years/$100M (2004-10), plus ‘11 club option
10. Felix Hernandez, Mariners, 5 years/$78M (2010-14)
9. Jon Lester, Red Sox, 5 years/$30M (2009-13), plus ‘14 club option
8. Joey Votto, Reds, 1 year/$0.55M (2010)
7. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals, 5 years/$45M (2009-13)
6. Josh Johnson, Marlins, 4 years/$39M (2010-13)
5. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies, 4 years/$10M (2009-12), plus ‘13-14 club options
4. Ryan Braun, Brewers, 8 years/$45M (2008-15)
3. Evan Longoria, Rays, 6 years/$17.5M (2008-13), plus ‘14-‘16 club options
2. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins, 6 years/$70M (2009-14)
1. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, 4 years/$15.1M (2009-12)


Thanks again to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the salary info.

Fun Trading with rZIP's

This morning, we glanced at a couple of guys' Rest-of-Season ZIPS Projection numbers from the invaluable Fangraphs site. One player we looked at is in his prime, the other appears to be having more of a renaissance.

In some time circa 2006-2007 a good number of people started thinking that Hanley Ramirez could become the best all around player in baseball.

Before the 2008 Season, Buster Olney said he could be the next $200 million dollar man.

Here are some numbers from Hanley's first 3 seasons in the Show, starting with his triple/slash lines of BA/OBP/SLG.

2006: .292/.353/.480, 17 HR, 119 R, 59 RBI, 51 SB
2007: .332/.386/.562, 29 HR, 125 R, 81 RBI, 51 SB
2008: .301/.400/.540, 33 HR, 125 R, 67 RBI, 35 SB

The BABIP numbers for each season were remarkable (.343, .353, and .329, respectively). There was some ill-advised chatter before the 2009 season that Hanley Ramirez was going to change his game. He wouldn't be able to steal as many basses, he'd become more of a power hitter, move to the #3 spot in the order, and bulk up. He would presumably not utilize his speed as much as a leadoff hitter.

In 2009, Hanley Ramirez won the National League batting championship and put together this monster line:

.342/.410/.543, 24 HR, 101 R, 106 RBI, 27 SB

The loss in SB's was more than compensated for by the increase in RBI, and improved lineup protection gave him better pitches to hit to a .342 average. Those are two stats I usually ignore to attempt to predict future performance, but for revisionist history it works.

So, why did we look at rZIP's this morning? Is Hanley Ramirez someone we would want to trade for in rotisserie baseball? He's not a keeper, so let's just see how his projections look for the rest of 2010.

Hanley Ramirez 2010 rZIP
12 HR, 16 SB, .392 OBP, .528 SLG, .402 wOBA

The computer is probably expecting him to have a better 2nd half than 1st half. Hanley's 2010 line drive percentage is 15.7%, but his career average is 18.6%. His popup number has also been really high this season, IFFB% 14% (Career 11%).

Magglio Ordoñez is the other guy we looked up. The trade deadline for MLB is about two weeks away, and rotisserie league trading blocks are heating up, as well. We were offered a trade of Hanley Ramirez & Magglio Ordoñez for a few of our guys. Magglio was a beast in Chicago. He was a Cub killer in the cross town classic, and a preposterously good hitter for five seasons from 1999-2003. The White Sox traded him to the division rival Tigers after an injury riddled '04 season made the organization wary of signing him to a lucrative extension. It was actually the alternative surgery he seeked out in Europe for his knee that scared White Sox management from throwing bags of money at the Venezuelan Pauly Shore.

Since then, I pretty much wrote off Magglio as too much of an injury risk to count on in fantasy baseball. Still, this chance to get Hanley makes it look like we might be chanting Oh-eeh-oh, Maaaaagglio while rooting for our team. To the rZIP numbers...

Magglio Ordoñez 2010 rZIP
8 HR, 1 SB, .369 OBP, .472 SLG, .368 wOBA

We'll accept the trade. We'll give Mags a chance. Even if he totally tanks, we'll just drop him. It's not every day that you have a chance to acquire a 26-year-old Shortstop who can do it all. It's not even every decade, when you may get a chance like this. The price? Keepers Ian Stewart & Alexei Ramirez, and fellow non-keeper Stephen Strasburg. Anyone think we paid too much? Let the discussion begin.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Trades in the Balance

Is this a fair rotisserie baseball trade?

The league scoring is standard 5x5, except we use onbase percentage rather than batting average.

The Randy Randos trade:

Clay Buchholz
Brandon Phillips
Hunter Pence
Desmond Jennings


Blow Me Where the Pampers Is trade:

Matt Holliday
Alex Rodriguez
Jimmy Rollins


Here is a transcript of a few back and forth emails or league message board posts. Names may be changed to protect the guilty. (Please keep in mind, the following is extremely childish. Thanks.)

From Us:

I would like to officially challenge the Randy Randos and
Blow Me Where the Pampers Is trade.

It is clearly a lopsided white flag trade by Pampers. If he
weren't being lazy, he'd be able to trade each of those guys
individually for a better bounty than Desmond Jennings and
no-one else worth keeping.

Josh (Pampers), I'm sorry, but your response of "have a nice
season" showed that you're throwing in the towel way before
the trade deadline.

Why wouldn't you at least try to shop these guys around a
little? Buchholz is hurt. Phillips and Hunter Pence are
average, to slightly above average, at best.

It tilts power in the league unfairly, unjustly, and un-you
know it's not right-ly.

This sets a bad precedent to try and trade for any teams top
3 picks by offering one good keeper and a few other okay
guys.


From Randy Randos Management:

This deal was negotiated at arms length. I received two players that have serious injury risk attached to them, in Arod and Rollins. In addition, Rollins, while drafted in the first 3 rounds, is nothing more than an 8th round pick. If the Yankees get any distance in the standings, which is possible, he will begin to rest on a regular basis. As for Holiday, while over the last two and half weeks, he's played expceptionally well, overall he has been very mediocre...I have him in another league so I can personally attest to that.

On the other hand, Phillips, while you discount due to your normal and obvkous [sic] prejudice, is a top keeper. Rant all you want, he is on pace for well over 100 runs 25 hrs, 20+ sb's and a .370 obs. This also not the first season he has put up these numbers. Year in year out, he ends up with excellent numbers and well worth being a keeper. Buccholz is on the same path as Lester was. So again, discounting your normal prejudice, Bucholz is a top pitcher in the league. His injury is irrelevant. First, he's now healthy. And Second, Richman can and should keep him. He is going to be a super star and is already worth keeper status...just like Lester, and Jiminez. Pence is incredibly consistent and again a great keeper. You don't like him, that's what your protest boils down to. He is a very good player that puts up excellent numbers. There's a reason I'm in first place...my players are good. Richman got 2 top tier keepers, 1 very good keeper and Jennings could be a sleeper keeper or a great player to trade to another team.

You want to cry, go ahead, but this deal wasn't him folding over...he got very very good players in return.


And, then again, from us:

That'll be the day.

Looking at their 3 year averages, shows Arod as the 3rd best player in the league, Holliday as 4th, and J-Ro as 14th.

Arod "resting" is when he's the DH.

Your Phillips numbers are skewed, as can be expected. He's more likely on pace for less than 20 Homers, less than 20 SB's, and he's only OBP'ing at .350, not .370. In fact, Phillips' 3-year avg OBP is .326. Regression strongly suggests that he'll have a poorer 2nd Half as he trends towards that average.

Hunter Pence is just okay. He's like David De Jesus, in that he has some pop and some speed, but not a lot of either. His lineup table setting and protection blows, on the Astros. Oh yeah, and his OBP is .316.

Holliday, Arod, and Rollins' OBPs are .373, .345, and .353, respectively. They also bring power and good lineup protection to your team. Spare me the "injury risk" talk. These guys are not any more brittle than the average player.

Buchholz is not close to being Jon Lester. Plus, he's on the DL.

Stop arguing as if this is the best Richman could do. He could have actually gotten 3 really good potential keepers, and I protest the unfair shift in league balance this off the level trade has caused.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


This story will continue, as the league commissioner has yet to respond. We also expect Randy Randos Management to respond at least one more time.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

2014 Future Star: Aaron Hicks

According to this report from Minneapolis, the Twins offered Seattle Wilson Ramos and Aaron Hicks for Cliff Lee.
Twins prospect Wilson Ramos, a major league-ready catcher with Joe Mauer ahead of him, is the name most often mentioned in any deal, and certainly he is expendable. But what about outfielder Aaron Hicks? Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse, citing an unidentified major league source, said the Twins offered him to Seattle, as well.

Those are the team's top two prospects — Hicks is No. 1 — as ranked by Baseball America.
Lee was traded on July 9th. It probably killed the Twins' chances that Hicks sprained his wrist "diving for a ball on July 7."

Wrist injuries can be devastating. Cliff Floyd, for one, lost some superstar years because of wrist trouble.

Hicks, at least, did not break his wrist. Plus, he's still just 20 years old, meaning he is more likely to recover completely than a player at least a few years older. After all, it seems like players' prime years are age 24 to 28. Even if it takes Hicks 2+ years to completely recover to this sprain, which is awfully pessimistic, he's be back to full strength in time for his prime years.

Preseason reports, like this one from MLB.com says...
Scouting report: Hicks has the kind of raw tools scouts love to dream about. He's got terrific speed that he'll be able to use on both sides of the ball (defensively, he already does, but he's got to learn the nuances of baserunning). He's got great bat speed which should generate plenty of power as he matures. A former pitcher who could crank it up into the upper 90s, Hicks has one of the best outfield arms in the Minors. One thing Hicks has above some other raw, toolsy types is an advanced knowledge of the strike zone. All he needs is experience for the performance to catch up with the tools.

Upside potential: When all is said and done, Hicks could be a franchise type player, a power-speed combination who will provide Gold Glove caliber defense in center field.

They said it: "There are a number of things that come to mind with Aaron. He has a lot of talent. With patience and the skills he has, [there's] a chance to be that five tool, complete All Star player." --
Twins farm director, Jim Rantz
This one from something called TwinsTarget.com also praises Hicks' athletic ability and tools...
Hicks was blessed with an incredible set of athletic abilities available to him. He was a successful golfer before he chose to pursue baseball as a career, and his speed is also extremely good. Assuming there are no set backs in his development, Hicks should be able to swipe 30 bases a season once he reaches the major leagues.

In the batter’s box, Hicks stands almost unrivaled in terms of raw power and tools. He has a quick swing that will most likely translate to a solid batting average in the major leagues, as well as superior arm strength, which could lead to around 30 home runs per season once he has fully developed.

The arm strength of Hicks has never been questioned. Both at the plate and in the field, power is not a problem for the young outfielder. Hicks is a well above-average defensive outfielder, but still has plenty of room for improvement. In center field, Hicks has drawn comparisons to Torii Hunter.

Perhaps the biggest downside to Hicks is his occasional lack of focus. Scouts say that because the game comes so easy for Hicks, he simply loses focus and stops paying complete attention. Once he advances to tougher leagues, though, this will surely change.

While the 20-year-old Hicks is far from a sure thing, it is difficult to over-state his ceiling. Hicks has the potential to become a perennial All-Star and hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases at a position that requires immense defensive skill.
Sleep well, Twins fans.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Player of the Fortnight Awards

A couple of weeks ago, in this post, we tried differentiating the ol' BAseball Reality Tour by awarding Midweek Players of the Week.

On July 4th, in between exasperating moments of heat and isolation on Governors Island, I thought it could still be novel, and less constraining, to actually give Player of the Fortnight Awards.

That way, we can do it any day of the week and still be unique since everyone else does players of the week or month.

Sorry, I cannot remember where I read it, or who said it. However, I do remember a scout being quoted in a story, about a year ago, who said something to the effect of, "The only stats I need to look at to tell me how a player is doing are his stats from the past two weeks. That'll tell you how a guy is doing."

I remember it vividly because ever since then, I routinely checked "past 14 days" stats for Free Agents under consideration for our roto team, Good Friends.

Before checking the stats for the subject of this column, I have to ask, is anyone else thinking about adding Jason Nix? He's always had power, will play every day for the next couple of weeks - minimum, and he's as hot as an Alabama Manhole. We thought about picking him up two days ago and finally pulled the trigger last night, releasing that weirdo, Felipe Lopez.

Before we get to the award winners, can we also take a moment to share in the utter disgust of watching the Cubs become sellers for the next seven weeks?

Ted Lilly, Carlos Zambrano, Tom Gorzelanny, Xavier Nady, Kosuke Fukudome, and even fan favorite Derek Lee are some high-profile Cubs who could get moved. It seems, however, that everyone else is available, too. The problem is no-one wants any of the other overpriced, under producing, and lovable losers. The team really stinks.

Well, on that inspiring note of optimism, we present our Player of the Fortnight Awards

NL Hitter of the Fortnight
Rafael Furcal, Dodgers
We were surprised to see Furcal’s recent performance rise to the top of NL hitter rankings. Looking at his standard stats, we see he hit .472, with 4 Homers, 18 runs scored, 15 RBI, and 5 stolen bases. Raffy also led the league in with a 1.328 OPS and .569 wOBA.

Of the four awards we're giving out today, this was the only one where there was pretty much one clear winner.

Dexter Fowler, Joey Votto, and Lance Berkman, Buster Posey, David Wright, and Martin Prado were the only other NL hitters to OPS over 1.000*

NL Pitcher of the Fortnight
Josh Johnson, Marlins
Looking at standard stats, we would probably be deciding between Mat Latos and Adam Wainwright, who each went 2-0 with respective ERAs of 0.44 and 0.59. When looking a little deeper, the recipient of the award actually came down to a virtual toss up between Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 1.74) and our eventual choice, Josh Johnson (1-1, 1.23). Both, Kershaw and Johnson, had a 12.50 K:BB ratio, but Johnson's 1.23 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) put him over the top.

Other guys who should be mentioned for their excellence are a trip of NL Cetralers: Johnny Cueto, Ross Ohlendorf, and Wandy Rodriguez. They each had an ERA under 1.30 the past 14 days. WayRod's FIP was actually second best in the NL at 1.48.

AL Hitter of the Fortnight
Ian Kinsler, Rangers
There is a very compelling argument to make for one of our favorite players, Miguel Cabrera. In fact, looking at the numbers, it really could go either way.

The award goes to Kinsler because he plays a premium defensive position, which adds more value to your team than if he's doing it as your first baseman.

Speaking of Rangers' first basemen, how about that Cliff Lee for Justin Smoak and some prospects trade? That's great for the Rangers, and I think, ultimately, great for baseball. The league needs more teams that haven't been cometitive for years to make the lead into serious contender. They could still use a better #2 starter for the playoffs, since Rich Harden is a shadow of his former self, and none of the kids are at #2 level yet.

Anyway, if you want the Kinlser/Cabrera numbers, here they are:

Ian Kinsler
.425/.558/.675, 2 HR, 8 Runs, 8 RBI, 12 BB, 4 K, 2 nSB, 15 wRC

Miguel Cabrera
.463/.532/.805, 2 HR, 11 Runs, 12 RBI, 6 BB, 8 K, -1 nSB, 14 wRC

AL Pitcher of the Fortnight
Jon Lester, Red Sox
This wasn't as much of a toss up as the NL, but still a very close competition. I wanted to pick Francisco Liriano because he has the best xFIP during the time period (2.11). Remarkable, his ERA was an unsightly 4.85. Liriano will not take this award home with him because he’s the victim of the double whammy high BABIP (.386) and low strand rate (58.8%). Max Sherzer (2-0, 0.87 ERA) and C.C. Sabathia (3-0, 1.14 ERA) had very good fortnights by traditional standards, but their xFIP were more pedestrian: 3.52 and 3.58, respectively.

Jon Lester, on the other hand, satisfies traditional box score readers and advanced statheads. During the past fortnight, Lester went 2-0, with a 1.13 ERA, 16 innings pitched, with 10 hits allowed, 2 walks, and 16 strikeouts (2.69 xFIP). He's certainly doing his part to get the Red Sox back to the postseason.

*All Stats from Fangraphs