MLB’s Most Overrated and Underrated Players

Wainwright

Discussing the most over and underrated players in baseball is an annual exercise that creates a lot of spirited debate and reaction. There’s no scientific formula to determine or verify who falls where; just opinion, eye-tests and carefully manipulated stats to prove points. That being said, the best reason to do it is because it’s fun.

Here are some players I believe are among the most over and underrated in the game today. Continue reading

My 2012 Predictions: AL West

I am continuing my 2012 prediction series by revealing my AL West standings and a few positive and negative predictions for each time. In case you missed it, I have already revealed my AL East Predictions  and AL Central Predictions and we, as a staff, revealed some of our overall MLB predictions. Enjoy. Continue reading

2012 – The Year of the Laboratory?

There are a surprising number of experiments going on in Major League Baseball for this coming season. Players are trying out new positions, relief pitchers are trying to be starting pitchers. Heck, even the Yankees are trying to be cost conscious. Strange things are happening in a training camp near you. With all that is happening, you will need a scorecard to track all the goings on. We at MLB Dirt are happy to help. What follows are the experiments happening all over baseball plus this writer’s take on whether the lab results will be positive or negative. Here we go. Got your pencil handy?

Continue reading

Pujols Signs 10-year $250M deal with Angels

The Los Angeles Angels, who were a mystery team just two days ago, signed the best hitter on the planet in Albert Pujols to a 10 year deal worth $250M. The deal also has no opt out clauses like C.C. Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez deals did. He will likely be an Angel until the end and that is not a bad thing.

The Cardinals lost their icon. They lost possibly the best hitter we will see in our lifetime. But, David Pinto points out that the Cardinals already received roughly $300M in on-field production for roughly $100M. On top of that, the Cardinals had him as the face of the franchise and banked on his marketable face. This is a big loss but only after an astronomical gain.

The Angels might find it hard to recoup the entire $250M invested in on-field value but they should have no problem recouping the money when you include what they will make off the field.

Continue reading

Hellickson is a Deserving Rookie of the Year Winner

The BBWAA announced their Jackie Robinson award winners today and they named Atlanta Braves reliever Craig Kimbrel the National League rookie of the year and Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson the American League rookie of the year.

We will find little-to-no griping or complaining about Kimbrel’s name being announced for the Jackie Robinson award but we will hear some griping and complaining about Hellickson’s name being announced, and it will mostly be from my peers and fellow stat heads like me.

Continue reading

2011 American League Awards

First off, I would like to apologize for my disappearance over the last few weeks. I’ve just been very busy but a break should be coming soon!

Here are my American League regular season award winners for 2011:

Rookie of the Year: Michael Pineda

The top 5 candidates for me were Pineda, Jeremy Hellickson, Ivan Nova, Mark Trumbo, and Dustin Ackley. Ultimately Pineda had the edge and he really turned out an impressive rookie season. Pineda was second in theALamongst rookie pitchers in WAR with 3.4. He had a 3.74 ERA and a 3.42 FIP which ranked first amongst AL rookie starters. He had a very impressive 9.11 K/9 ranking first among rookie starters and third amongst all AL starters with at least 50 innings pitched. He proved to have one of the best (and fastballs in the entire league). It was a great year for Pineda and he is very deserving of this award.

Continue reading

2011 AL West Preview

1. Texas Rangers

The Good: The Rangers are a young talented team that has emphasized pitching over offense and this group has not hit the ceiling yet. They may have one of the best offenses in the game with MVP Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz (a MVP caliber player), Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and having 3 guys to play all 8 positions and DH with David Murphy, Mike Napoli and Mr. Ranger Michael Young. Adding Adrian Beltre was a smart move because he helps improve a shoddy Rangers defense and will benefit greatly from hitting in Texas with this lineup. The Rangers have talent on the mound as well with CJ Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Darren O’Day and Neftali Feliz.

The Bad: How does this team fare without Cliff Lee? Granted, Lee was average in the regular season with the Rangers but, he will be sorely missed. Asking to have CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis  replicate 2010, something they have never done before that, while also anchoring the rotation is the biggest key to the Rangers season. If this duo falters the Rangers are not winning this division. The bullpen has talent and plenty of nice numbers but, it needs to show more poise as they were occasionally hit up in big spots last season.

What to Look For: The balance of playing time and productivity of the Napoli-Murphy-Young trio will be interesting to watch. If RHP Tanner Scheppers and OF Engel Beltre continue to shine in the minors they could get a call up. Is Brandon Webb OK? Is he still the best sinker ball pitcher in the game? That is something to watch. Also, the learning curves of Tommy Hunter, Matt Harrison and most importantly, Derek Holland will be critical to the Rangers success.

Projection: While maybe a tick below last year’s bunch the Rangers are plenty good and could be even better. The pitching has to fall into place, like any team. It would be a wise choice not to bet against this bunch.

89-73 (1st Place)

2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Good: The Angels can go toe to toe with anyone with starting pitching. Dan Haren, Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana and Joel Pineiro are a pretty safe quartet to keep you in games. Although it had some problems last year the bullpen has promise too considering it added Hisanori Takahashi and Scott Downs to go along with Fernando Rodney and Kevin Jepsen.

The Bad: The Angels were embarrassed in free agency this past winter and had to take on the overly bloated Vernon Wells contract. The Halos have major question marks with C Jeff Mathis and 3B Maicer Izturis. Both guys are usually bench guys with little power and are being forced into everyday roles. While it is good that the Angels are giving kids 1B Mark Trumbo and CF Peter Burjos shots at the big leagues they also need these kids to produce right away which maybe too much to ask. The Halos can only hope and wonder when 1B Kendry Morales can come back and contribute after ankle surgery. Morales is the most vital cog to the Angels offense.

What to Watch For: The Angels need top prospect C Hank Conger to make the break through to the Show sooner rather than later. The same can be said for OF Mike Trout. The outfield trio of Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu gets another year older with the same measure of offensive expectation to produce. Can they all still do it? Can Erick Aybar replicate his 2009 season or is the player we all saw last year? The bullpen while upgraded, has major issues.

Projection: Age, bullpen problems and consistent offense, not something you are used to hearing with a Mike Scioscia team. The Angels have plenty of questions but, they also have plenty of starting pitching and a good manager. If the Rangers falter don’t be too surprised to see the Angels somehow in the mix to take the AL West flag.

86-76 (2nd Place)

3. Oakland A’s

The Good: The A’s have one of the  best starting rotations in the AL when all healthy. Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden and Gio Gonzalez can confound and hold down offenses most nights. The great thing about the staff is there aren’t all the same type of pitcher each one is different and has a different wrinkle throwing offenses off.  Adding OF’s David DeJesus, Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui was a major boost to a punchless offense. The A’s also have a very good bullpen as well with Grant Balfour, Brian Fuentes, Mike Wuertz, Brad Ziegler and closer Andrew Bailey.

The Bad: The A’s offense got off the hook in 2010 because the Mariners offense was so historically bad. This team needs home runs desperately because it was powerless in 2010. The A’s have to hope the additions of Matsui, Willingham and DeJesus pay off. Also, having OF prospects Chris Carter and Michael Taylor break through to the MLB Level full time would help too.

What to Look For: If the A’s stay healthy and pitch to their potential and possibly get Rich Harden healthy throwing strikes out of the bullpen then look out, this team could win the division their pitching is that good.

Projection: A down year for the AL West means the time is ripe for the A’s to strike. This is a good team that just needs more runs to be scored. Billy Beane did a solid job upgrading this team and while they are picked here at 3rd place I think if Texas loses this division it’s more likely because the A’s win it not the Angels.

85-77 (3rd Place)

The Good: A very limited selection here. The Mariners do have the reigning CY Young Award winner who is soon to be 25 in Felix Hernandez. The Marniers also have a future Hall of Famer in Ichiro Suzuki who is good for a .310 plus batting average, 30 plus steals, 200 hundred plus hits and a Gold Glove in rightfield. The Mariners boast a pretty good defensive team as well.

The Bad: The offense was so bad last year it was epically and historically atrocious. Scary thing is the only thing the Mariners did was add Jack Cust to the everyday lineup which means a lot more of unneeded strikeouts but, some much need walks and homeruns. The Mariners desperately need 2009 years from Franklin Gutierrez and Chone Figgins not the bad 2010 years they had. The bullpen had its problems last year as well. You can add David Aardsma as a guy needed to have a year like he did in 2009 not last year. Jason Vargas and Doug Fister were OK for this rotation in 2010. It would be nice to see Erik Bedard just get on the mound in 2011 doing his Carl Pavano Yankees impression for the Mariners. This staff doesn’t have a real compliment to Felix Hernandez which is a problem.

What to Look For: The Mariners desperately need 1B Justin Smoak and LF Michael Saunders to figure it out and impact the everyday lineup immediately if this team has any expectation to be decent. You better add prospects LHP Mauricio Robles, RHP Michael Pineda and 2B Dustin Ackley to that list as well. That’s a lot of things that have to happen for things to be good this year in Seattle.

Projection: The offense couldn’t be much worse than it was in 2010 could it? Or could it be?  This is an odd year and the book says the Mariners will be 85 plus win team if you follow their past 5 years. I don’t know how they will pull that off this year but, then again no else saw them being good in 2007 and 2009 either. I don’t forsee them being a .500 or better team this year. But, then again I have been wrong many times before.

65-97 (4th Place)