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

What the Kris Bryant Draft Means for The Cubs

Kris

Thursday, at the Major League Baseball draft, the Chicago Cubs made a surprising move by not drafting the power arm of Jonathan Gray from Oklahoma after the Houston Astros chose Mark Appel from Stanford with their first overall pick. It was assumed by many that they would pick whomever the Astros would not take. They instead chose Kris Bryant from San Diego with their second pick.

I like them taking Bryant once Appel was off the board. While Gray is a great power arm that hits 100 mph with his fastball, Bryant has huge power and out homered a majority of the other Division I colleges by himself as he hit 31 home runs in only 228 ABs that will have an immediate impact in the middle of the lineup when his time is to be in Chicago.

It’s no secret the Cubs need some better arms in the organization. They’ve made some pretty picks in the last two years with Pierce Johnson and Duane Underwood last year and Dillon Maples in 2011. If you take out Maples couple of real bad starts, both he and Johnson have been pitching well. Underwood will be pitching for the short season Boise Hawks later this summer. It should be known that after the Bryant pick they did pick up pitchers with 19 of their draft picks this year. I haven’t had a lot of time to delve into those picks yet to see if there were any good arms in those picks, though it is worth noting a lot of these kids are college pitchers rather than kids being drafted out of high school. I like this move too.

What does this move mean for the Cubs? Continue reading

By The Numbers

Konerko

Just a few interesting numbers: Continue reading

Callup Spotlight: Adrian Cardenas

Yes, Anthony Rizzo is raking at Iowa right now and Brett Jackson is the OF of the Cubs very near future, but Adrian Cardenas needs to be called up now and replace either Ian Stewart or Blake DeWitt on the active roster, and get a lions share of the time as a three-bagger.

Stewart is picking up where he left off last season with a triple slash line of .188/.258/.318. This is compared to .333/.376/.544 of Cardenas at AAA Iowa right now. Cardenas been playing mostly second base but has also seen action at shortstop and third base. Continue reading

2012 Chicago Cubs Outlook: Infield

In our third installment, we’ll take a look at what options the Cubs have an the infield while they work to build their 25 man roster.

Key Departures

Aramis Ramirez: The longest tenured third baseman since Ron Santo has left Chicago and now plays for the rival Brewers. It’s going to take a lot to replace his production in the lineup, but I really think it’s time for Ramirez to move on. He’s not a clubhouse and team leader. With a younger team taking the field, veteran leaders are going to be more important than ever.

Carlos Pena: In a typical Scott Boras move, Pena signed a one year deal with the Cubs last season in hopes to boost this worth for a long term contract. It didn’t work out with him batting .225 but hitting a team leading 28 home runs. Between Pena and Ramirez that’s 54 HRs and over 170 RBIs gone from the previous season. We might see an increase in Starlin Castro‘s throwing errors without Pena scooping everything he can reach. He’s back on the Rays. Continue reading

Epstein Should Trade for Crawford

Everybody has a plan for Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs. Some of the better ones involve filling the front office and almost all of them involve trading Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano.

There is an overwhelming feeling that Epstein will almost forego the 2012 season to perform a minor rebuilding effort and take a shot at 2013 and beyond. If that happens, Cubs fans can kiss goodbye to Carlos Pena, Aramis Ramirez, and possibly Marlon Byrd while bidding a fond farewell to the aforementioned Zambrano and Soriano.

I, for one, think Epstein can put a solid team out there in 2012 while doing a minor rebuilding effort at the same time and I think his first move should be to acquire Carl Crawford from the Boston Red Sox. That’s right, the same Carl Crawford that is due $122M over the next six seasons.

Acquiring Crawford from the Red Sox would fill two potential agendas at the same time. The first would be the acquisition of a top talent that can help now and in the near future. The second would be the trading of Alfonso Soriano.

Continue reading

Odd League Leaders and Trailers

As I was looking through the league leaders this morning I kept noticing the same names at the top of most stats. Matt Kemp, Roy Halladay, Clayton Kershaw, Jose Bautista, Justin Verlander, yada-yada-yada. But a few names jumped out at me that I had no clue how good, or bad of a season they were having. Here are a few of those names and their stats and ranks:

Hitters

Hits: Adrian Gonzalez leads the AL in hits and Starlin Castro the NL. It surprised me because Gonzalez has walked in over 15% of his plate appearances the past two seasons and hit leaders don’t walk that much. He is down to 9.6% this year. Castro, on the other hand, never walks (4.4% this year and 5.0% for his career) and he hits at the top of the order with a .300+ average. I was simply shocked to see a Cubs player at the top of any good stat.

RBI: Ryan Howard is usually at the top but I was surprised to see him there this year with his .249 average and Chase Utley and Shane Victorino missing time getting on base in front of him. Jamey Carroll has the fewest RBI for a qualified batting title leader with 13 in 477 PAs. Next lowest was Kosuke Fukudome with 30. You have to have people on in front of you to get RBI.

BB%: Another Cub is at the top and this time it is Carlos Pena with a 15.9% walk rate, just ahead of Joey Votto. I guess when you bat behind Castro and Darwin Barney pitchers have only used about 4 pitches and they can work around the power hitting Pena.

UZR: Remember, this is a counting stat like hits and RBI. I was shocked to see Placido Polanco leading the NL with a +11.9 in only 109 games. At the bottom of the AL was a recognizable name in Mark Reynolds but his -26.6 UZR was shockingly bad.

Games Played: Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera top their league’s games played list. Those are some big names but a bit shocking, to be quite honest.

Doubles: Tied at the top of the AL are Alex Gordon and Ben Zobrist with 45 apiece. Zobrist never had more than 28 in a season. At the bottom of the NL, among batting title qualifiers, was Polanco with 12. It struck me as odd because he has averaged 32 the past four seasons.

Strikeouts: I knew Drew Stubbs struck out a lot but 191 times so far is insane and 26 more than Ryan Howard. No surprise in the AL with Mark Reynolds at the top with 182.

Pitchers

HBP: Shaun Marcum is the only pitcher qualified for the ERA title to not hit a single batter with a pitch. He hit 6 last year and 8 the year before. Tim Hudson, who displays solid control with a 2.45 BB/9 rate, leads the NL with 14 hit batters.

Wild Pitches: Nationals reliever Henry Rodriguez leads the NL with 13 in only 59.1 innings pitched. That’s right, a reliever! Hiroki Kuroda is 2nd with 12 but in 183 innings. A.J. Burnett is not a surprise at the top of the AL but the 25 wild pitches in made me say “wow!” and in only 178.1 innings. Still not even close to Rodriguez’s wild pitch rate, though.

Intentional Walks: Chris Resop and Shawn Camp lead their respected leagues with 9 intentional walks and neither has eclipsed 70 innings pitched. Bad timing, I guess.

Fastball Velocity: Alexi Ogando is tied with Verlander in fastball velocity (among ERA title qualifiers) with 95.0 mph. Livan Hernandez‘s fastball at 83.9 mph is slower than knuckleballer R.A. Dickey‘s fastball.

Fastball ValueIan Kennedy leads the majors with a +30.7 wFB. Who would’ve known?! A.J. Burnett, who averages nearly 93 mph on his fastball, is dead last with a -28.3 wFB.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at DRaysBay and you can follow him on twitter at @FigureFilbert and follow MLBdirt at @MLBdirt