Tuesday, July 12, 2011

MLB All Star Game 2.0 part 2

If you missed Part-1 of my version of the 2011 MLB All-star game, click here. Here is Part 2.

ATLANTA BRAVES
Player: Jair Jurrjens
Age/Position: 25/Starting Pitcher
2011 Stats: ERA 1.87, SO 65, WHIP 1.07

Pronounced j-I-air jur-jins, I like to call him Triple J or TJ for short. At the end of the first half of the season, TJ is leading the National League with wins (12) and ERA. It is intriguing that TJ has the most wins because, on paper, he does not dominate hitters. Sixty-five strikeouts are good for 91st in league. He is not the type of pitcher that goes out there and dominates you with a 98 MPH fastball. Jurrjens 2-seam and 4-seam fastball, at a maximum, hit 89-90 MPH. With Jair, he does not need to have an overpowering fastball, because he is so effective with how he uses his pitches overall; getting hitters to fly out or hit in double plays. He also does not walk very many batters. With pitchers that have thrown at least 100 innings, Jurrjens in 12th best in league, only giving out 25 free passes to the hitters.

FLORIDA MARLINS
Player: Gaby Sanchez
Age/Position: 27/First Base
2011 Stats: BA .293, HR 13, RBI 50

Who is Gaby Sanchez? No one is quite sure, but I can certainly tell you he is not Hanley Ramirez, who is batting .242 and with only 8 HRs. The state of the Marlins is in shambles; nobody knows what is happening down there.

Gaby Sanchez is the only one I see keeping it together. He makes this All Stat selection with almost identical numbers, that Hanley Ramirez had last season. Technically, Gaby has been in the league since 2008, but he only played 5 games that season. In 2009 he appeared 21 times. Last year was the first full season for Sanchez. Posting a modest .273, tallying 165 hits, and showing OK power and production with 19 homeruns and 85 RBIs, Gaby could be developing in to a gamer. It is not out of reach for this Marlins first baseman to cap the season off with a .295/25/95 year. For the Marlins sake, I he does.

NEW YORK METS
Player: Jose Reyes
Age/Position: 29/Short Stop
2011 Stats: BA .354, HR 3, RBI 32

Whoa whoa whoa… Ms. Lippy. The part of the story, that I didn’t like, was when the little boy tried to put Jose Reyes in a fake All Star game when he cannot even play due to a hamstring injury.

Can I bend the made up rules a little…? Should I bend the rules? Could one, not argue, that by allowing a player who is hurt to play, that it opens the door to ‘wouldas’ and ‘couldas’ if ‘this’ and ‘thats’ had or had not happened?

Sure, but I do not really care because A) Four people read this column and B) I do not have the patience or the brainpower to convince my four readers that Carlos Beltran is the Mets best player, when Jose Reyes is playing out of his mind in a contract year.

Jose “mama says, ‘shut yo mouth’” Reyes is so very anomalous. In July of last year, I wrote:

“If you had asked me who the best player on the Mets was, my knee-jerk reaction would have been Jose Reyes. “Jose Reyes, that guy is SO good.” But in reality… not so much.”

David Wright was the Mets representative last year. I would like to amend my statement and proclaim that Jose Reyes is pretty good, but he scares me the same way Vince Carter used to. You know? They sting together these amazing and sexy statistical athletic performances and production, but then two weeks later, as you manage your fantasy team, you talk to your computer screen and say things like, “Why are you always getting hurt?” and “Really? Again?”. You want this person on your team and you draft them somewhat high, but they always eat up allowable-games-played, by missing too often with injury.

I acknowledge what you are doing Jose Reyes, but would I want the Red Sox to throw tons of cash at you in the offseason? I mean, I know I hate Marco Suck-a-ro, but how would you fit in our lineup? You are a leadoff guy and we already have Carl Crawford—who hopefully bounces back—and Jacoby Ellsbury who is already do a fantastic job. There is nowhere to put you. The Mariners are out. They will never pay the undetermined-but-certainly-super-high asking price Peter Greenberg and Co. will be asking come November. The most the M’s ever doled out, was a 6-year $90 million dollar contract extension for Ichiro… and that is for Irchiro—one of the greatest hitters of all-time.

I do not know what to make of you Reyes, other than the fact that you will be representing the Mets—injury free—in my made up All Star game.

PHILIDELPHIA PHILLIES
Player: Cole Hamels
Age/Position: 27/Starting Pitcher
2011 Stats: ERA 2.32, SO 121, WHIP 0.93

I finally get to stick to my guns and go pitcher with the Phillies rep. Ryan Howard edged Roy Halladay a year ago on his gangsterness. And, even though Howard is putting the power 18 homeruns and 71 RBIs whilst hitting a Ryan-Howard-like .257 like he did last year, the batting average is just low enough for me to take a pitcher. Ryan was batting .295 at the break.

Now let me explain why I did not choose Roy Halladay.

First and foremost, their numbers are almost mirrors of one another. Both have eleven wins. Halladay has more strikeouts (137) but his ERA is also a bit higher—by a teensy 0.13 difference to be precise. They basically wash one another out in my opinion. So my choice came down to the age difference between the two. Cole Hamels is playing like Roy Halladay, but is also 7 years his junior. That spells longevity for me, and thereby makes him more valuable. Do not feel bad for Halladay. He starts the real All Star game tonight.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Player: Michael Morse
Age/Position: 29/First Base
2011 Stats: BA .306, HR 15, RBI 49

Michael Morse is guy who seems like he is coming in to his own. He spent his first four seasons with the Seattle Mariners, playing as a back up. In his four year stint there he only saw 107 games of action before he was acquired by the Nationals in 2009.

Morse’s 2010 season produced 77 hits, 15 home runs and 41 runs batted in a 98 game time span. Through just the 81 games he has played up to the All Star break, Morse has surpassed his career best. Like Gaby Sanchez in Florida, perhaps Michael Morse could become one of their better, more reliable players. Unlike a certain right fielder the Nationals signed in December of 2010.

Did you know the Washington Nationals have paid Jayson Werth $2,982,857 dollars and fourteen cents, for the 87 times he has struck out this year? That is a half a million dollars MORE they have paid him for his 70 hits.

That is right folks, Jayson Werth is making $34,285 dollars per at bat… and the guy is batting .214 on the year. Gulp. Did I mention they are going to paying him this amount for the next six and half seasons? Oh, I never mentioned that? Well, yeah… they are.

CHICAGO CUBS
Player: Starlin Castro
Age/Position: 21/Short Stop
2011 Stats: BA .307, HR 2, RBI 39

He is the real deal. I have been able to watch a handful of the Cubs games, and their watching Starlin hit in the two hole for the Cubbies, kind of reminds me of Hanley Ramirez first two seasons with the Marlins. You can just see that this guy has it. So much raw talent and all at the young age of 21. He played 125 games for the Cubs in 2010 and batted .300 so you can see the consistency. He does not hit for the power like Ramirez, but is still solid. An easy decision to make.

CINCINATTI REDS
Player: Joey Votto
Age/Position: 27/First Base
2011 Stats: BA .324, HR 13, RBI 55

Going two for two, in fake All Star selections, Joey Votto again will represent the Reds. His power has dropped off with just the 13 home runs this time around. At the end of last years break Votto had pounded 22 yaks for 60 RBI, but with the drop in home runs, Votto has show a rise in batting average and on base percentage. I am glad Joey is performing well again, because in last year’s column I said to watch him over the next couple of seasons. Thank you Mr. Ro-Votto for making me, in nothing but appearance, look smart.

HOUSTON ASTROS
Player: Hunter Pence
Age/Position: 28/Right Field
2011 Stats: BA .323, HR 11, RBI 60

Last year’s paragraph leading in to the Roy Oswalt selection:

“The Astros only have a better record than the Indians, Pirates and Orioles if that tells you anything. Nobody on that team is good. Their best hitter is batting .273, has one home run, and has 25 RBIs.”

Fast forward 365 days and the Astros have a better record than… nobody. They are the league’s worst baseball team. However, one person on the team is good. In case you are wondering if Hunter Pence was the guy who was batting .273 last year—he was not. Hunter took a .263 batting average in the All Star break. It is worth noting hunter finished that season with a nice .282 batting average—the same average he finished with in 2009—and 25 home runs and 91 runs batted.

2011 seems to be a breakout year for him and I will paying extra close attention to pence, to see if he can keep his .300+ average and eclipse the 100 RBI mark, for the worst team in baseball. We shall see.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Player: Prince Fielder
Age/Position: 27/First Base
2011 Stats: BA .297, HR 22, RBI 72

A quick non-Prince-Fielder-prior-to-looking-at-the-stats-rant:

How the freak is Rickie Weeks a real life All Star selection? The last Brewers game I watched, they played the Cubs and Rickey Weeks tried to stretch, not one, not two, but three averagely driven base hits—all hit in front of Cubs right fielder Kosuke Fukudome—in to doubles. Guess what? Homeboy was thrown out easily all three times! The first time it happened, I was like, “OK, maybe he is trying to make a play.” Second time I thought, “Are freaking kidding me?” The third time it transpired, “Oh… my… gosh. What at dumb ----.” If I am Brewers manager, Ron Roenicke, I am pulling Weeks’ slow ass out of the game, and then benching him another game just to make my point that much more. And what was even worse, nobody on the team seemed pissed about it. No shots of the dugout with the team holding their arms in the air because what Rickie Weeks did was indefensible or shaking their heads in disgust. They went about as if it had not happened. THREE TIMES IN ROW! You suck Rickie Weeks. You are batting .273 and are magically the starting the real life All Star game, in the leadoff role!! WHAT THE *#%^*# %(#* ^ !&#@ IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?!!?!??

A second quick non-Prince-Fielder-post-looking-at-the-stats-rant:

The people playing second base in the National League, are so terrible, some how Rickie Weeks is the best player at the position. It is uncanny how bad NL second basemen are. Logic dictates that Rickie Weeks must be the starting first baseman. If you have dreams of playing in The Show someday, I firmly—repeat FIRMLY—suggests you abandon whatever position you are trying to perfect now, if you have not already, for second base. You are pretty much guaranteed to make it. Apparently, any ordinary, sub par player can make the All Star game. I am not kidding. Some random person in the street can now say the following sentence because of the deplorable state of second base in the NL:

“Aw, daaaaamnnnnnnnn. There goes All Star second baseman Rickie Weeks!!! Doo dat is sick!!”

I am so pissed right now.

(deep breath, count to 10)

In a battle of sabermetrics, Prince Fielder bested Ryan Bruan in 2010 with following

Fielder: BA is .262, but his SECA (secondary average) is .396
Braun: BA is .287, but his SECA only .308

A discrepancy of 0.63 going in the favor of Prince Fielder. In 2011, mind you, the margins have dwindled.

Fielder: BA of .297 and SECA of .463
Braun: BA of .320 and SECA of .416

Both players have improved in both categories, but the margin is now at 0.22 between the two. Also a year ago, Fielders’ RC27 (runs created per 27 innings) proved to better than Braun’s. This year the two are tied with 8.56 a piece.
Prince has 6 more home runs and 10 more RBIs than Braun, and is trailing Ryan only three total hits and four runs. For a second time again, Prince retains his crown.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Player: Andrew McCutchen
Age/Position: 24/Center Field
2011 Stats: BA .291, HR 14, RBI 54

Congratulations are in order for Andrew McCutchen going back to back in fake All Star selections, showing that he was not a fluke in 2010. McCutchen doing the same things he did last year with his bat and speed. Fifteen stolen bases and .892 OPS. Way to go Andrew.

Also, how about big pirate-hats off to Pittsburgh for being one game out of first place, right behind two very good Cardinals and Brewers teams? How crazy would it be if the Pirates were representing the NL Central in October?

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Player: Lance Berkman
Age/Position: 35/Left Field
2011 Stats: BA .290, HR 24, RBI 63

What-the-what-the-what-the-what-the what the what? As far as I am concerned, Albert Puljos walks on baseball water, but Albert, at .280 batting average? Come on. Do not scare me like this. I need to you to get it back together so you can crush Barry Bonds gigantically asterisk’d home run record. Stop scaring me.

Now, Lance Berkman… I thought you retired like three seasons ago. How are you hitting better than Albert Puljos at 35-years of age? You and Paul Konerko are blowing my mind. Go on with your bad self, and enjoy sneaking the Cardinals All Star pick out of the hands of AP.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Player: Justin Upton
Age/Position 22/Right Field
2010 Stats: BA .293, HR 15, RBI 46

Peter Gammons made me put Justin Upton against Mariner hero, Ken Griffey Junior, a year ago and I must admit the numbers were closer than I thought. If you want to the recap then you can read last year's column. Basically, if Justin got the go ahead last time with .260/14/40, then he is certainly getting it again with better numbers. If you want to talk Diamondbacks ball, then hit up my boy Joey on Twitter: @joeytnelson.

COLORADO ROCKIES
Player: Todd Helton
Age/Position: 37/First Base
2011 Stats: BA .321, HR 10, RBI 41

How about Todd Helton, at age 37, still gaming in Colorado like he has for the last 14 straight seasons. Check it:

1998 – BA .315
1999 – BA .320
2000 – BA .372
2001 – BA .336
2002 – BA .329
2003 – BA .358
2004 – BA .347
2005 – BA .320
2006 – BA .302
2007 – BA .320
2008 – BA .264 (injured, only play 83 games)
2009 – BA .325
2010 – BA. 256 (his first official bad year)

And now he is right back up to his .320 batting average in 2011. It is incredible. Say what you will about the size of the ball park and altitude—that discussion only is applicable when talking home runs. Hits are hits, and batting average reflects that. Todd Helton gets the award for being my favorite selection this year.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Player: Matt Kemp
Age/Position: 26/Center Field
2011 Stats: BA .313, HR 22, RBI 67

Kemp is third in home runs for the National League, third is runs batted in and has the sixth best batting average. I recently got back from a two week vacation in California and was able to catch the first of a three game series between the Angels and Dodgers. Watching the fan interaction was way better than the actual game. Dodgers won 5-0, and Kemp was 1-for-4 with and RBI. Watching him at the plate you can see the confidence, mind set, and rhythm he is in. This was an easy selection to make.

SAN DIEGO PADRES
Player: Tim Stauffer
Age/Position: 29/Starting Pitcher
2011 Stats: ERA 2.97, SO 90, WHIP 1.21

There are only nine pitchers in the National League who have an ERA lower than 3.00 and Tim Stauffer is the last of them. It sucks for Stauffer that the Padres are not good on the offensive side of things, second to last actually and only one spot better than my beloved Seattle Mariners. In 19 starts Tim Stauffer has put for 14 quality starts for a .74 win percentage, not bad for a person who is in his third season as a starting pitcher. With Adrian Gonzalez playing for the Red Sox now, the San Diego Padres seriously downgrade their All Star contribution this year.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Player: Tim Lincecum
Age/Position 26/Starting Pitcher
2011 Stats: ERA 3.06, SO 132, WHIP 1.20

I am fine with putting Lincecum back for the second time, but if I am honest with myself, and revert back to the Jose Reyes selection rule bending, Buster Posey would likely have been the selection here. I just feel it for some reason. But with Buster’s injury being a season ending one, and Reyes only being put on the 15-day DL, I cannot in good conscience make a case for him.

Besides, Tim Lincecum is The Freak. Even though he did not three-peat on the Cy Young award last year, he still is playing like a Cy Young award winner this season. He is 7th in strikeouts and has shutout under his belt.

It is strange to think, that with a mediocre offensive output, the Giants are currently in 1st place with a three game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks. If they were a little bit better, or maybe had Buster there, I am curious to how well they would be doing and if Tim’s record would be better than the 7-7 it is. The sabermetics adjust Lincecum’s record from 7-7 to a nice 10-4 with three TLOSS’s (tough loss) so far.

ROSTER NATURALLY FILLED

C
1B Prince Fielder
2B
3B
SS Jose Reyes
RF Hunter Pence
CF Matt Kemp
LF Lance Berkman
DH
P Jair Jurrjens
MR
MR
MR
CL

Remaining players: SP Cole Hamels, SP Tim Lincecum, SP Tim Stauffer, 1B Todd Helton, 1B Joey Votto, 1B Michael Morse, 1B Gaby Sanchez, SS Starlin Castro, CF Andrew McCutchen, RF Justin Upton

ROSTER WITH ADJUSTMENTS

C Joey Votto
1B Prince Fielder
2B Starlin Castro
3B Michael Morse
SS Jose Reyes
RF Hunter Pence
CF Matt Kemp
LF Lance Berkman
DH Todd Helton
P Jair Jurrjens
MR Cole Hamels
MR Tim Stauffer
MR Gaby Sanchez
CL Tim Lincecum

Reserves: CF Andrew McCutchen and Justin Upton

This is the second year in a row the National League has failed to produce a catcher, and since Joey Votto filled in last season—based solely on the sound of his name—there is nobody else with any catching experience. Moving Starlin Castro to second base from his natural short stop should not be a problem. Michael Morse could show so problems at third, but in baseball third basemen and first basemen seem to go hand in hand. The only person, besides Votto, playing in a random spot is Marlins’ first basemen Gaby Sanchez. But given his mental capacity to even function well at first, in such a tumultuous Florida organization shows me that he, more so than anybody, could fake it in a middle relieving role.

My 2010 version featured a best of five game series between the American League and National League, but doing that again calls for more pomp than circumstance can allow this year. Plus, I am already 8000 words deep in to this column, and I lost my four readers 6000 words ago. Here are your two teams:

AL REPS
C Joe Mauer
1B Adrian Gonzalez
2B Gio Gonzalez
3B Travis Hafner
SS Nick Markakis
RF Jose Bautista
CF Alex Gordon
LF Josh Hamilton
DH Paul Konerko
P Justin Verlander
MR Jered Weaver
MR CC Sabathia
MR James Shields
CL Felix Hernandez

vs

NL REPS
C Joey Votto
1B Prince Fielder
2B Starlin Castro
3B Michael Morse
SS Jose Reyes
RF Hunter Pence
CF Matt Kemp
LF Lance Berkman
DH Todd Helton
P Jair Jurrjens
MR Cole Hamels
MR Tim Stauffer
MR Gaby Sanchez
CL Tim Lincecum

Having these made up All Star teams going for five games or just one, it all boils down to one thing: and that thing is pitching. This year the American League has more of it than the National League, and shuts them down. AL wins again.

Score that two years in a row with the AL besting the NL.

Prediction for the real All Star Game tonight however? I will take the American League again. With Rickie Weeks as the National League selection at second base, look for either Curtis Granderson, Jose Bautista or Josh Hamilton to throw him out when he tries to turn a single in to a double time and time again.

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