Cole Hamels to Texas: Can the Rangers Contend in 2016…or NOW

Courtesy: sportsworldreport.com
Rangers new LHP Hamels could be the ace the club needed to contend this year…or is it for next year? Courtesy: sportsworldreport.com

A year after losing 95 games, the Rangers have been solid in 2015. At 48-52, they sit just four games out of the second Wild Card in the American League. Needless to say, if they weren’t 14-26 against the AL West, they’d probably be in a better spot, but, even after dealing with major injuries and several changes within the organization, Jeff Banister has led the club to respectability.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels has done a solid job of acquiring talent without crippling the franchise with a Joey Votto-like contract, landing Prince Fielder, Yovani Gallardo, and Josh Hamilton in deals; however, he saved his best work in the deal that he made yesterday for LHP Cole Hamels.

The Rangers were able to acquire Hamels without giving up their top two prospects, 3B Joey Gallo and OF Nomar Mazara, while dumping the $28 million that LHP Matt Harrison was owed over the next two seasons (including his option buyout for 2018). Hamels, who is guaranteed $76.5 million between 2016 and 2019, will anchor a staff that will include the returning from Tommy John surgery RHP Yu Darvish, another several months removed from the same surgery LHP Martin Perez, and a healthy LHP Derek Holland.

Clearly, the pitching staff is loaded, if healthy, but Hamels could be enough to get the Rangers into the playoffs this season. The Rangers are getting some solid pitching – you just have to dig deeper to see it:

  • Courtesy: nolanwritin.com
    Texas RHP Gallardo has had an excellent season – just don’t ask his FIP Courtesy: nolanwritin.com

    If you take away the two starts that RHP Colby Lewis was obliterated in (9 ER on 5/27 vs. CLE, 10 ER on 7/5 vs. LAA), he would have a 3.29 ERA and 1.04 WHIP over 125.2 IP – NOT the inflated 4.42 ERA and 1.19 WHIP that he has in 132.1 IP. After leading the AL in losses in 2014 (14), Lewis is 11-4 in his 21 starts – not bad for a $4 million investment.

  • Gallardo, who was acquired for INF Luis Sardinas, RHP Corey Knebel, and distant RHP prospect Marcos Diplan, has revived his career in the unlikeliest of places. His 3.19 ERA, the best of his MLB career, is surprising, especially since he has posted the lowest strikeout rate of his career (6.2) and is walking 3.4 batters per nine this season. His 24.8% hard hit ball rate ranks 14th in MLB, but the 6.8% HR/FB is much lower than his career rate (10.9%) and would seem unsustainable as he heads towards free agency after the season. While he is providing a lot of value for the time being, he, much like free-agent-to-be Lewis, may not be a factor next season.

Adding Hamels to those performances could be enough to get the Rangers over the hump; however, it isn’t certain that those performances will continue to be enough, as youngsters Perez and RHP Nick Martinez have struggled of late.

Courtesy: hardballtalk.com
Rangers 3B Beltre has fallen on hard times, but can he rebound to avoid the worst OPS of his career? Courtesy: hardballtalk.com

As always, the Rangers have strong offensive parts. 1B Mitch Moreland is having a career-best season, Fielder has regained his stroke after missing most of the 2014 season after having neck surgery, and OF Delino DeShields, Jr. has provided solid speed and on-base skills, but the decline of 3B Adrian Beltre (career-worst .677 OPS) and the unpredictable nature of what to expect from Hamilton (.719 OPS), along with the collapse of CF Leonys Martin, has left the Rangers offense limping.

While Hamels is a tremendous addition, the Rangers need to get production out of the aforementioned players, as well as overpaid, glove-only SS Elvis Andrus, in order to become real competitors. If there was a roster spot for Gallo to step into, without him having to learn a new position, it would be ideal for the offense, who, despite their struggles, rank 8th in MLB in runs scored and 11th in MLB in OPS.

Perhaps the move for Hamels will light a fire under the team, but, even with Hamels as their ace in 2016, the Rangers have several question marks, namely aging players and health, to address prior to being labeled as favorites. On paper, however, giving up some talented-yet-flawed prospects in Jorge Alfaro and Nick Williams, was certainly worth the club’s major acquisition.

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Is There a Proper Resolution for Josh Hamilton?

Courtesy: chatsports.com
Courtesy: chatsports.com

By now, we all know Josh Hamilton‘s background and his story. We know how he overcame his demons to become a superstar, only to fall from grace when reports came out in February that he was involved in drugs and alcohol again. Today, there were reports that he filed for divorce from his wife around the same time. Things clearly aren’t going in the right direction for Hamilton, which is quite sad considering how long he was clean and how we, as fans, have seen him grow as a person – in the game and in his faith.

The Josh Hamilton story is difficult for many reasons. First and foremost, he needs to get the help that he needs to get his life back on track, whether that’s with counseling for his marriage, for the alcohol, or the drugs, something needs to be done. However, that doesn’t seem to be the biggest concern for the Los Angeles Angels.

Angels’ owner Arte Moreno hasn’t been shy about his distaste for Hamilton’s actions, and he seems to be on a warpath to protect his money, with little regard for the player:

It’s a tough situation to look at, but, is it fair for this to be a business decision for the Angels? Moreno, though coming off as selfish, is doing what is right for his business – no matter how awful he looks as a human being. With contracts being guaranteed in MLB, there is a need to look for loopholes in cases such as Hamilton’s, as the Yankees attempted to void Alex Rodriguez‘s contract due to his rampant PED use. Still, Moreno has run from Hamilton, providing no support, and the organization took to the microphones after an arbitrator ruled that Hamilton’s relapse wouldn’t require a suspension, as General Manager Jerry Dipoto told the L.A. Times:

“Do I agree with the decision made by the treatment board? Absolutely not. This is a disappointing moment, make no mistake. … We have a responsibility to the human being. We also have a responsibility to the product on the field, the organization, the fan base, the industry. It’s a complicated web.”

Now, the two sides are negotiating a way out of this mess, but a trade seems unlikely due to the remaining $90.2 million on Hamilton’s contract between 2015 and 2017. The same reasons that the Angels don’t want him would be the same reasons that others don’t as well, as the 33-year-old outfielder’s skill-set hasn’t been trending upward since he hit free agency after the 2012 season.

Courtesy: LA Times
Courtesy: LA Times

So, the sad case of the former No.1 overall pick continues. He has been put on public trial with information regarding his relapse that was supposed to be protected by the MLB Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, he could be losing his wife and four daughters, and he could be losing his career. Support him or not, he is a human being who is going through a devastating run. More than protecting the investment, it’s time that the Angels support the man. Let the other battles play out behind the scenes and get Josh Hamilton the help that he needs. Perhaps the Angels will be rewarded with production once they help Hamilton get his life back in order.

Sometimes business and the dollar aren’t as valuable as a soul. This is one of those cases.

2015 Season Previews: Los Angeles Angels

Over the next several weeks, The Baseball Haven will be creating season previews for all 30 MLB teams. You’ll find their projected records (based on PECOTA records from Baseball Prospectus, as of 2/15/2015), each team’s top three players (based on Steamer WAR projections from FanGraphs), and some valuable notes on each team, including likely bounce-back candidates, potential breakout players or fantasy sleepers, as well as a look back at offseason transactions which led to each team’s projections. Stop back frequently to see where your favorite team ranks!

Los Angeles Angels

Courtesy: MLB.com
Courtesy: MLB.com

2015 Projected Record: 90-72 (1st in AL West, 3rd in MLB)

Manager: Mike Scioscia (1,331-1099 in 15 seasons with the Angels)

Top Three Players: OF Mike Trout (8.6), OF Kole Calhoun, SS Erick Aybar (3.0)

Bounce-back Player: 3B David Freese

Freese is entering his age-32 season and has only had one “really good” season, which was 2012. It’s fair to wonder what he actually is, as he appears to be more of a 25 double, 10 home run, 60 RBI-guy than the 25 double, 20 home run, 80 RBI-guy that he was a few years back. Still, Freese has an excellent lineup around him, so he should see plenty of fastballs and be capable of a rebound, but what the ceiling of that rebound is…that’s the big question. A healthy Freese should get to 15 home runs and 75 RBI this season.

Is Calhoun capable of more than what he showed in 2014?  Courtesy: Zimbio.com
Is Calhoun capable of more than what he showed in 2014?
Courtesy: Zimbio.com

Fantasy Player to Watch: OF Kole Calhoun

In just 127 games, Calhoun reached 31 doubles and 17 home runs. Given an entire season of at-bats and entering his age-27 season, Calhoun may be capable of more. With Josh Hamilton‘s status for the season still uncertain, he may even move into a larger, run-producing role. Everyone drools over the opportunity to have Mike Trout on their team, but Calhoun isn’t chopped liver as far as Angels in the outfield.

Offseason Overview: The Angels added a solid young starter by acquiring LHP Andrew Heaney from the Dodgers for 2B Howie Kendrick, who was set for free agency after the 2015 season. Heaney doesn’t have top-of-the-rotation stuff, but he could be a nice mid-rotation option for a number of years, and the Angels aren’t known for developing talent, so it was a nice get. To fill the void at second, the Angels acquired Josh Rutledge from the Rockies and Johnny Giavotella from the Royals. Neither are offensive forces, but they’re solid defenders and with Trout and Pujols around, the pressure isn’t on them to produce. If Hamilton misses significant time due to his possible drug suspension, Grant Green, Colin Cowgill, or Matt Joyce, acquired from the Rays in December, could step into larger roles or a platoon situation.

The Verdict: Josh Hamilton’s suspension could be a huge issue for the Angels, and I’m betting against PECOTA on this one. The Mariners and the Athletics are in a better position to take the AL West. The Angels have plenty of talent, including the best player in baseball, but Mike Trout can’t carry an entire 25-man roster (this isn’t the NBA) and the Hamilton questions, the Pujols aging issue, and the lack of consistency from the remainder of the lineup leaves me thinking that this is an 83 to 85 win team. While that isn’t awful, it won’t be enough in 2015.

May I Have Another: Guys on Fire

Move over Alicia Keys, these boys are on fire in the month of May:

MorelandMitch Moreland, 1B, Texas Rangers

.347/.407/.796, 17-49, 11 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 8 RBI

Long overlooked as an asset in the Rangers order, Moreland appears to be establishing himself as a valuable piece to a Hamilton-less Rangers offense. His left-handed power is needed in the middle of an order that features Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz along with switch-hitting DH Lance Berkman. Moreland is 27 and in the midst of his prime. While he does feature a pretty ugly .662 career OPS against left-handed pitching, that number has bumped up to .789 in 2013, so he could still make an interesting career out of playing in Texas. He could certainly turn his recent hot streak into a total breakout.

Trout1Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

.340/.393/.720, 17-50, 10 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 3 SB

After taking the world by storm last season, Trout started the season slower than some fantasy nerds would have liked, posting a .261/.333/.432 triple slash in the first month of the season. He is picking things up, though, in May, displaying the power and speed that made baseball enthusiasts drool last season. Trout could be on his way to posting numbers like this over the rest of the season. Just imagine what he would be doing if Josh Hamilton was alive and breathing for the Angels…if only he could pitch, the Angels might not look like such an embarrassment.

TabataJose Tabata, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

.522/.542/.783, 12-23, 3 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB

Do you need a sleeper? The Pirates are pretty loaded in the outfield with Andrew McCutchen in center and Starling Marte in left; however, right field is a little…Travis Snider-y. Snider is still just 25 but he is under-performing, again, as the Pirates primary right fielder in 2013. His .267/.347/.356 is very weak and Tabata is heating up with the weather. Tabata, himself just 24, is another floundering former top prospect, but his ability to use the gaps and his speed would make him an asset in real-life and fantasy baseball. Clint Hurdle is an interesting manager, to say the least, so it will be interesting to see if he sticks with a strict platoon or gives Tabata a chance.

Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins

.447/.552/.660, 21-47, 13 R, 10 2B, 5 RBI

Mauer continues to prove that his 2009 power surge and MVP season was an anomaly. The Twins are floating around .500 due to Mauer’s production and a whole lot of crappy pitching. If the club was serious about contending, they probably would have done something about Vance Worley and Kevin Correia being their No.1 and No.2 starter prior to the season. With a lot of their talent in their 30’s, including Mauer, the club will be hard pressed for a quick recovery. Oswaldo Arcia has been a nice addition but to even float around being mediocre, Mauer may have to hit .447 over the rest of the 2013 season. He’s hot and he’s a hitting machine.

ZimmermanAces on Fire 

Felix Hernandez, RHP, Seattle Mariners: 2-0, 3 GS, 0.82 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 22 IP, 20:3 K:BB

Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers: 1-0, 3 GS, 0.79 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 22.2 IP, 20:5 K:BB

Chris Sale, LHP, Chicago White Sox: 2-0, 3 GS, 1.16 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 23.1 IP, 19:2 K:BB

Jordan Zimmerman, RHP, Washington Nationals: 3-0, 3 GS, 1.19 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 22.2 IP, 20:2 K:BB

CorbinShutdown Surprises

Patrick Corbin, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks: 3-0, 3 GS, 0.89 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 20.1 IP, 16:10 K:BB

Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals: 2-0, 2 GS, 0.60 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 15 IP, 18:1 K:BB

Scott Feldman, RHP, Chicago Cubs: 2-0, 3 GS, 1.23 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 22 IP, 21:5 K:BB

Is This Real Life? The Rangers and Their Bad Contract

Andrus1Since this was announced on Monday, which was April 1st (aka April Fool’s Day), it feels like this isn’t happening; however, after it was made official, giving a career .275/.342/.353 line an eight-year, $120 million seems like a nightmare, especially after the club was unwilling to give Josh Hamilton an extension or make the first offer when he hit free agency this winter. After allowing a player who has averaged a .305/.363/.549 line to leave for their biggest rival, they gave Andrus $15 million per season on an extension, all while Jurickson Profar waits for a position to open up in Texas.

Andrus is a fine player. Since arriving in 2009, he has posted a 13.0 WAR, which is sixth among shortstops during that time. He leads shortstops in stolen bases (123), he is second to Derek Jeter in runs scores (341), and he is 21st among shortstops in OPS (.695). TWENTY-FIRST.

Andrus provides a solid batting eye (8.4 percent walk rate vs. 13.2 percent strikeout rate) to go along with his solid speed, which allows him to utilize his skills on the base paths to score runs in a very potent offense. While he can get on base and score runs, his defense is where his true value develops.

Andrus’ UZR/150 rating is 7.8, fourth among shortstops since 2009 behind Brendan Ryan, J.J. Hardy, and Alexei Ramirez. His .971 fielding percentage is 15th among shortstops since 2009. Of the three players above Andrus in zone fielding who have higher fielding percentages than Andrus, only Alexei Ramirez has a higher OPS. If Ramirez can field better and post better numbers at short, is he worth $15 million or more per season?Andrus2

Ramirez is 31 and doesn’t have the favorable upside that Andrus possesses, but we’ve seen speed become useless several times before. In 2004, Cesar Izturis had his best season at the age of 24:

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2004 24 LAD NL 159 728 670 90 193 32 9 4 62 25 43 70 .288 .330 .381 .710 255
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/4/2013.

While he didn’t post numbers close to what Andrus did prior to his age-24 season, he displayed solid gap power, speed, and, of course, impressive defensive skills. He won his first and only Gold Glove in 2004, posting a .985 fielding percentage and a 3.8 WAR.

Compare that production to Andrus’ career stats:

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2009 20 TEX 145 541 480 72 128 17 8 6 40 33 40 77 .267 .329 .373 .702 179
2010 21 TEX 148 674 588 88 156 15 3 0 35 32 64 96 .265 .342 .301 .643 177
2011 22 TEX 150 665 587 96 164 27 3 5 60 37 56 74 .279 .347 .361 .708 212
2012 23 TEX 158 711 629 85 180 31 9 3 62 21 57 96 .286 .349 .378 .727 238
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/4/2013.

Is there a whole lot of difference in the abilities of these players, outside of the fact that Andrus’ had four seasons completed prior to his age-24 season, which will be the 2013 season? Certainly, Andrus is better than Izturis, but would anyone have paid Izturis $15 million per season if every one of his seasons had been as solid as his 2004 season?

Luis Castillo was an excellent second baseman early in his career for the, then, Florida Marlins. Sure, he wasn’t a shortstop, but he had the same type of skill-set, possibly better, with more speed and on-base skills, while Andrus seems to have more gap power. Once Castillo hurt his feet, though, his 50+ steals potential was also hurt, and he became a 20 stolen base, empty .300-hitting middle infielder. If Andrus gets hurt or loses speed, where is his value? He can’t cover as much ground defensively and his ability to create runs with his legs is gone, as well.

Shortstop is a very tough position, but the value of defensive metrics have taken over the player’s ability to help the club in other ways, specifically with their bat. Cal Ripken, Jr., Barry Larkin, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, and Miguel Tejada did a dirty, dirty thing to the position, allowing solid contribution across the board to become a reasonable expectation. Today, only Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Reyes seem like those types of dynamic, offensive-minded shortstops, and for that reason, they appear to be worth exorbitant contracts.

The Rangers aren’t the only team that feels that defense is very important, though. When the Cincinnati Reds turned Didi Gregorius and Drew Stubbs into Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Donald in their trade with the Cleveland Indians this offseason, that was one thing, as Choo is a free agent after the 2013 season, but when the Indians flipped Gregorius to the Arizona Diamondbacks with Lars Anderson and Tony Sipp for Matt Albers, Bryan Shaw, and, potential ace, Trevor Bauer, the new value of shortstops in baseball was apparent. Slap-hitting, defensively skilled middle infielders now have quite a bit of value.

So, if Gregorius, a career .265/.317/.370 hitter in the minor leagues, had that sort of value, then what is Xander Bogaerts worth? Bogaerts, a Boston Red Sox farm hand, hit .307/.373/.523 with a 4.13 range factor and .959 fielding percentage as a 19-year-old over High-A and Double-A in 2012. Gregorius had a range factor of 3.96 and a .964 fielding percentage as a 22-year-old over Double-A and Triple-A in 2012.

TuloFurthermore, if Elvis Andrus is worth an eight-year, $120 million contract, then shouldn’t Troy Tulowitzki fire his agent? His extension for the 2015 to 2020 seasons gives him roughly $19.67 million per season, which isn’t nearly enough considering Andrus can’t carry his compression shorts with cup, since jock straps aren’t used anymore.

The good news for Andrus is that he has an opt-out clause after the 2018 season, allowing him to reach free agency during his prime, potentially earning more money if he reaches higher levels of production; however, if he under-performs or gets hurt, the Rangers don’t have an opt-out clause. The question now is: Was this a good contract for the Texas Rangers?

Kinsler1With Ian Kinsler signed through 2017 (with a 2018 team option) and Andrus locked up, where does Jurickson Profar go? What if Kinsler has another poor season, as his .749 OPS in 2012 was the worst of his career? Can they trade him?  There have been leaks of Kinsler getting moved to left field or first base, but what happen to Mike Olt, another Rangers prospect, who is blocked through 2015 at third (possibly 2016, since Beltre has a vesting option)? Can Kinsler hit enough to play left? Do the Rangers trade Olt? Does Profar move to center even though Leonys Martin is hoping to prove himself there in 2013? Should they trade Profar?

The Rangers have committed to defense by signing Andrus and they have committed to spending a lot of money on mediocre offense. After letting Josh Hamilton walk, not addressing their No.5 starter situation this winter, and building excellent talent that they seem to be unwilling to commit to from their minor league system, the Rangers, who have made three straight playoff appearances, seem to have no clear direction to their roster makeup going forward.

Top 250: 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings

While I’ve already posted a top 10 fantasy baseball player at each position piece, I figured with drafts getting underway, that a more thorough ranking would be valuable. Here are the top 250 players in fantasy baseball for the 2013 season. (5X5 leagues, All MLB)

  1. Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers
  2. Mike Trout, OF, Angels
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Tigers,
  4. Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers
  5. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates
  6. Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees
  7. Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Rockies
  8. Prince Fielder, 1B, Tigers
  9. Joey Votto, 1B, Reds
  10. Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels
  11. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies
  12. Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers
  13. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers
  14. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins
  15. Josh Hamilton, OF, Angels
  16. Justin Upton, OF, Braves
  17. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers
  18. David Price, SP, Rays
  19. Stephen Strasburg, SP, Nationals
  20. Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays
  21. Buster Posey, C, Giants
  22. David Wright, 3B, Mets
  23. Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners
  24. Jose Bautista, OF, Blue Jays
  25. Hanley Ramirez, 3B/SS, Dodgers
  26. Jason Heyward, OF, Braves
  27. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox
  28. Jay Bruce, OF, Reds
  29. Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers
  30. Cliff Lee, SP, Phillies
  31. Matt Cain, SP, Giants
  32. Jose Reyes, SS, Blue Jays
  33. Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies
  34. Starlin Castro, SS, Cubs
  35. Adam Jones, OF, Orioles
  36. Jered Weaver, SP, Angels
  37. Billy Butler, 1B, Royals
  38. Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds
  39. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Blue Jays
  40. Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
  41. Gio Gonzalez, SP, Nationals
  42. Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Athletics
  43. B.J. Upton, OF, Braves
  44. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Dodgers
  45. Ben Zobrist, 2B/SS/OF, Rays
  46. Craig Kimbrel, RP, Braves
  47. Matt Holliday, OF, Cardinals
  48. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals
  49. Chase Headley, 3B, Padres
  50. Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals
  51. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox
  52. Yu Darvish, SP, Rangers
  53. Adam Wainwright, SP, Cardinals
  54. Madison Bumgarner, SP, Giants
  55. Zack Greinke, SP, Dodgers
  56. Matt Wieters, C, Orioles
  57. Michael Bourn, OF, Indians
  58. R.A. Dickey, SP, Blue Jays
  59. Allen Craig, 1B/OF, Cardinals
  60. Joe Mauer, C, Twins
  61. Brett Lawrie, 3B, Blue Jays
  62. CC Sabathia, SP, Yankees
  63. Johnny Cueto, SP, Reds
  64. Mat Latos, SP, Reds
  65. Chris Sale, SP, White Sox
  66. Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers
  67. Jason Kipnis, 2B, Indians
  68. Aaron Hill, 2B, Diamondbacks
  69. Ian Desmond, SS, Nationals
  70. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks
  71. Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays
  72. Jordan Zimmerman, SP, Nationals
  73. Carlos Santana, C, Indians
  74. Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies
  75. Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Brewers
  76. Alex Rios, OF, White Sox
  77. Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants
  78. Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies
  79. Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Reds
  80. Aroldis Chapman, SP/RP, Reds
  81. Mark Teixiera, 1B, Yankees
  82. Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Phillies
  83. Jason Motte, RP, Cardinals
  84. Alex Gordon, OF, Royals
  85. Kris Medlen, SP/RP, Braves
  86. Matt Moore, SP, Rays
  87. James Shields, SP, Royals
  88. Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers
  89. Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros
  90. Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees (mid-May return leaves some value)
  91. Max Scherzer, SP, Tigers
  92. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves
  93. Victor Martinez, C, Tigers
  94. Martin Prado, 3B/OF, Diamondbacks
  95. Ike Davis, 1B, Mets
  96. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals
  97. Rafael Soriano, RP, Nationals
  98. Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers
  99. Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays
  100. Brandon Morrow, SP, Blue Jays
  101. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Indians
  102. Melky Cabrera, OF, Blue Jays
  103. Mariano Rivera, RP, Yankees
  104. J.J. Putz, RP, Diamondbacks
  105. Doug Fister, SP, Tigers
  106. David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox
  107. Ian Kennedy, SP, Diamondbacks
  108. Jake Peavy, SP, White Sox
  109. Hunter Pence, OF, Giants
  110. Carlos Gomez, OF, Brewers
  111. Josh Willingham, OF, Twins
  112. Joe Nathan, RP, Rangers
  113. Joel Hanrahan, RP, Red Sox
  114. Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, Angels
  115. Josh Johnson, SP, Blue Jays
  116. Hiroki Kuroda, SP, Yankees
  117. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs
  118. Angel Pagan, OF, Giants
  119. Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants
  120. Anibal Sanchez, SP, Tigers
  121. Dan Haren, SP, Nationals
  122. Jonathan Niese, SP, Mets
  123. Shane Victorino, OF, Red Sox
  124. Torii Hunter, OF, Tigers
  125. Erick Aybar, SS, Angels
  126. Neil Walker, 2B, Pirates
  127. John Axford, RP, Brewers
  128. Carl Crawford, OF, Dodgers
  129. Alejandro De Aza, OF, White Sox
  130. Carlos Beltran, OF, Cardinals
  131. David Freese, 3B, Cardinals
  132. Brett Anderson, SP, Athletics
  133. Jim Johnson, RP, Orioles
  134. Danny Espinosa, 2B/SS, Nationals
  135. Brett Gardner, OF, Yankees
  136. Lance Lynn, SP, Cardinals
  137. Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers
  138. Paul Konerko, 1B, White Sox
  139. Howie Kendrick, 2B, Angels
  140. Ben Revere, OF, Phillies
  141. Denard Span, OF, Nationals
  142. Jon Lester, SP, Red Sox
  143. Addison Reed, RP, White Sox
  144. Huston Street, RP, Padres
  145. Alcides Escobar, SS, Royals
  146. Sergio Romo, RP, Giants
  147. Jeff Samardzija, SP, Cubs
  148. Ryan Dempster, SP, Red Sox
  149. C.J. Wilson, SP, Angels
  150. Greg Holland, RP, Royals
  151. Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies
  152. Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals
  153. Adam LaRoche, 1B, Nationals
  154. Jason Kubel, OF, Diamondbacks
  155. Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers
  156. Wade Miley, SP, Diamondbacks
  157. Andre Ethier, OF, Dodgers
  158. Mike Napoli, C/1B, Red Sox
  159. Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies
  160. Michael Morse, OF, Mariners
  161. Jarrod Parker, SP, Athletics
  162. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pirates
  163. J.J. Hardy, SS, Orioles
  164. Homer Bailey, SP, Reds
  165. Matt Harvey, SP, Mets
  166. Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Rays
  167. Manny Machado, 3B, Orioles
  168. Kyle Seager, 3B, Mariners
  169. Dexter Fowler, OF, Rockies
  170. Rafael Betancourt, RP, Rockies
  171. Tim Hudson, SP, Braves
  172. Dan Uggla, 2B, Braves
  173. Miguel Montero, C, Diamondbacks
  174. Josh Reddick, OF, Athletics
  175. Todd Frazier, 1B/3B, Reds
  176. Matt Harrison, SP, Rangers
  177. Jonathan Broxton, RP, Reds
  178. Chris Perez, RP, Indians
  179. Derek Holland, SP, Rangers
  180. Marco Scutaro, 2B/SS, Giants
  181. Wilin Rosario, C, Rockies
  182. Salvador Perez, C, Royals
  183. Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees
  184. Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants
  185. Chris Davis, 1B/OF, Orioles
  186. Grant Balfour, RP, Athletics
  187. Mike Minor, SP, Braves
  188. Alexei Ramirez, SS, White Sox
  189. Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Yankees
  190. Alexi Ogando, SP/RP, Rangers
  191. Nick Swisher, 1B/OF, Indians
  192. Tommy Milone, SP, Athletics
  193. Kendrys Morales, 1B/DH, Mariners
  194. Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Red Sox
  195. Colby Rasmus, OF, Blue Jays
  196. Adam Dunn, 1B/DH, White Sox
  197. Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs
  198. Phil Hughes, SP, Yankees
  199. Jaime Garcia, SP, Cardinals
  200. Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves
  201. Jesus Montero, C, Mariners
  202. Jason Grilli, RP, Pirates
  203. Cameron Maybin, OF, Padres
  204. Corey Hart, 1B, Brewers
  205. Norichika Aoki, OF, Brewers
  206. Lance Berkman, 1B/DH, Rangers
  207. Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Yankees
  208. Dayan Viciedo, OF, White Sox
  209. Brandon McCarthy, SP, Diamondbacks
  210. Kenley Jansen, RP, Dodgers
  211. Brandon League, RP, Dodgers
  212. Bobby Parnell, RP, Mets
  213. Michael Cuddyer, 1B/OF, Rockies
  214. Michael Young, 1B/3B, Phillies
  215. A.J. Burnett, SP, Pirates
  216. Jurickson Profar, 2B, Rangers (he should get enough time to have value)
  217. Jayson Werth, OF, Nationals
  218. Trevor Cahill, SP, Diamondbacks
  219. Justin Masterson, SP, Indians
  220. Glen Perkins, RP, Twins
  221. Casey Janssen, RP, Blue Jays
  222. Tom Wilhelmsen, RP, Mariners
  223. Everth Cabrera, SS, Padres
  224. Trevor Plouffe, 3B, Twins
  225. Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins
  226. Tommy Hanson, SP, Angels
  227. James McDonald, SP, Pirates
  228. Josh Beckett, SP, Dodgers
  229. Marco Estrada, SP, Brewers
  230. Jason Vargas, SP, Angels
  231. Zack Cozart, SS, Reds
  232. Mark Reynolds, 1B, Indians
  233. Steve Cishek, RP, Marlins
  234. Daniel Murphy, 2B, Mets
  235. A.J. Pierzynski, C, Rangers
  236. Nick Markakis, OF, Orioles
  237. Garrett Jones, 1B/OF, Pirates
  238. Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, Dodgers
  239. Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Orioles
  240. Omar Infante, 2B, Tigers
  241. David Murphy, OF, Rangers
  242. Kelly Johnson, 2B, Rays
  243. Dustin Ackley, 2B, Mariners
  244. Lorenzo Cain, OF, Royals
  245. Carlos Marmol, RP, Cubs
  246. Kyuji Fujikawa, RP, Cubs
  247. Jon Jay, OF, Cardinals
  248. Brian McCann, C, Braves
  249. Wil Myers, OF, Rays
  250. Jean Segura, SS, Brewers

What If Mike Trout Stumbles?

TroutMike Trout had, possibly, the greatest season that any rookie could have ever had in 2012. Taking into consideration that Trout didn’t play in his first game with the Los Angeles Angels until April 28 and he only played in 139 games while compiling:

  • 129 Runs (1st in MLB)
  • 49 Stolen Bases (1st in MLB)
  • 10.7 WAR (1st in MLB)
  • .326 Batting Average (2nd in the AL)
  • .564 Slugging Percentage (3rd in the AL)
  • .399 On-Base Percentage (3rd in the AL)
  • .963 OPS (2nd in the AL)
  • 171 OPS+ (1st in the AL)
  • 315 Total Bases (6th in the AL)

Trout1One All-Star Game, One Silver Slugger, One Rookie of the Year, and finishing 2nd in the AL MVP voting, if only because Miguel Cabrera won the first Triple Crown in 45 years, were just icing on the cake for Trout.

But…what if this is the peak? What if something happens to hold back his career? An injury, like Tony Conigliaro? A failure to live up to his own hype, like Fred Lynn?

When you look at player ratings all over the internet, whether it’s ESPN, CBS Sports, or Sports Illustrated, Mike Trout is right at the top. Is he really a top five player in fantasy baseball? In “real” baseball?

Clearly, it was hard to see many flaws in the 2012 season that Trout completed, but consider this:

  • Trout’s BABIP was .383. Considering that the “normal” BABIP is .300, this figure is highly inflated.
  • Trout’s strikeout rate was 21.8 percent. When you look at Albert Pujols and his career 9.6 percent career rate, Ryan Braun and his 17.9 percent career rate, Miguel Cabrera and his 17.1 percent career rate, or Josh Hamilton and his 19.7 percent career rate, and you have to wonder if Trout can maintain success if he isn’t getting lucky with where the ball lands (see his inflated BABIP) and he isn’t making contact.
  • Can his speed last a full season and can he stay healthy in a full season, based on how everyone has seen him play? Trout managed 22 infield hits in 2012. If you take those away, due to a leg or foot injury, Trout would have hit .286.

It seems very unrealistic to expect that Trout will only improve on his numbers from 2012 going forward. The last Rookie of the Year to win the MVP, Fred Lynn, had some struggles in his career. Take a look at his first three seasons:

Year Age G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1975 23 145 528 103 175 47 7 21 105 10 62 90 .331 .401 .566 .967
1976 24 132 507 76 159 32 8 10 65 14 48 67 .314 .367 .467 .835
1977 25 129 497 81 129 29 5 18 76 2 51 63 .260 .327 .447 .774
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/13/2013.

Lynn was a tremendous talent, returning to glory in 1979, when he posted a .333/.423/.637 line, with 42 doubles, 39 home runs, and 122 RBI for Boston, but prior to that, he regressed significantly from his rookie year production.

Fred Lynn never lived up to the hype that he created in his dynamic rookie season, despite being a very productive player, being eliminated from the Hall of Fame ballot after his second year of eligibility, after receiving just 4.7 percent of the vote in 1997.

Calling Mike Trout the next Fred Lynn is not an insult, as anyone who plays 17 seasons and is a part of nine All-Star games is a fantastic player. The issue is that Mike Trout has unrealistic expectations being placed on him going into the 2013 season. Bill James has Trout going:

.325/.402/.564 with 122 runs, 30 home runs, 87 RBI, and 53 stolen bases, while maintaining an inflated .379 BABIP.

Trout2Ryan Braun, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton, Derek Jeter, and Robinson Cano should be expected to maintain their career norms, but fantasy baseball players could be making a huge mistake by taking Trout 1st overall in 2013. While the skills and tools are there for the 21-year-old to continue thriving and become a future Hall of Famer, he will need to repeat his 2012 numbers for several seasons before being labeled the top player in baseball.

Is he the most exciting player in baseball…absolutely. Should everyone subscribe to MLB.TV to have an opportunity to tune in a few times per season…definitely. Are we asking too much for a 21-year-old to become the face of an entire league…without question.