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  1. Chris Carter (A’s) is right-handed

    Comment by 44 — March 6, 2012 @ 10:21 am

  2. In the Orioles’ defense, Wieters only played 1game (8 innings) at first base last year and I haven’t heard anything from the local writers in Baltimore to suggest that they are planning on asking him to play first for a significant number of innings this year. I don’t think it sounds like they are acting particularly insane.

    Comment by Macek — March 6, 2012 @ 10:26 am

  3. Is Thome’s SLG a misprint?

    Comment by joetarring — March 6, 2012 @ 10:28 am

  4. Just a typo, I believe ZiPs has Thome with .494 SLG (not .393).

    Comment by schmenkman — March 6, 2012 @ 10:30 am

  5. Will there be a DH ranking?

    Comment by Erix — March 6, 2012 @ 10:34 am

  6. Brewers and Cubs seem way too high.

    Comment by Mike — March 6, 2012 @ 10:39 am

  7. I think this would have been an appropriate comment for tangotiger’s post as well, but isn’t there just a huge gap in forecasting young players with little or no MLB experience? Justin Smoak is dead last? With Carp, Montero, Guillen behind him on the depth chart? Even if Smoak is a bust, with which most prospect analysts disagree, one of the other three will hit. I dont think first base defense has really been given the proper weight, but given that it hasn’t, these four bats, healthy, are top 15.

    Comment by Malcolm — March 6, 2012 @ 10:45 am

  8. #20 isn’t great, but it’s a lot better than I expected from the Lind/EE combo. Seeing them place right in front of Philly’s $25 million per year train wreck also provided a nice giggle.

    It’s the little things in life that give the most pleasure.

    Comment by Eric — March 6, 2012 @ 10:46 am

  9. Just to follow up *cough*…Brian Lahair, Casey Kotchman, Adam Kennedy…. I think the Mariners front office knows something you don’t.

    Comment by Malcolm — March 6, 2012 @ 10:50 am

  10. “What is there to say about Pujols but a bunch of superlatives you have read about him before?”

    He’s 32.

    His WAR has dipped by 16% and 32% the last two years.

    He’s in the tougher league.

    He plays in a division full of pitchers parks, save Texas.

    He plays in a division full of good-pitching teams, with nary a Houston or Pittsburgh in site.

    A third of his HR last year, according to Hit Tracker, were “Just Enoughs.”

    He hasn’t been a significant defensive contributor the last two years.

    He’s on a two-year trend of swinging at more pitches, with all of that increase coming from swinging at pitches outside the zone.

    He has shown steadily declining value against the fastball for two years–in his prime he feasted on FB.

    The question really is “Why would we use all the same superlatives about Pujols now that we’ve used in the past?”

    Comment by themiddle54 — March 6, 2012 @ 10:53 am

  11. There seems to be an error in the Rockies projections, particularly Giambi’s WAR total.

    His numbers compare favorably to Thome’s (with the corrected SLG), but the WAR totals are quite divergent.

    I’m assuming there is a mistake on his fielding? Should it be lower than -1? Otherwise, it looks like Giambi’s WAR should be at least +0.2….

    Comment by Will — March 6, 2012 @ 10:58 am

  12. I didn’t realize there were so many teams whose best 1B is worse than Loney.

    Comment by Baltar — March 6, 2012 @ 11:10 am

  13. Nothing curious about Mark Kotsay sticking around when he brings Jamie Kotsay with him. (The woman on the left)

    Comment by Krog — March 6, 2012 @ 11:13 am

  14. “but when Chris Davis likely bombs (again, and not the good way),”

    We’ll see.

    Comment by John — March 6, 2012 @ 11:16 am

  15. Lucas Duda should probably be listed as a RF/1B or RF Relief instead of prospect as he is the Mets starting right fielder.

    Comment by Andrew — March 6, 2012 @ 11:17 am

  16. Not trying to ride you — I know this is free content — but just as general feedback, there are literally 10+ typographical errors in this piece (not including the projections), and a couple times it makes the sentence at hand legitimately confusing.

    Comment by Eminor3rd — March 6, 2012 @ 11:21 am

  17. “Mitch Moreland. Some are thinking that he was playing hurt last season, but I am always skeptical of that sort of analysis.”

    The guy had surgery to repair his wrist. What more proof do you need?

    Don’t lean so far in one direction to the point you become stupid.

    First 67 games, 290/353/482. Last 67 games, 229/287/350.

    Comment by John — March 6, 2012 @ 11:23 am

  18. If you don’t believe Cabrera will stick at 3B, then the Tigers have to be #1. They have 2 of the 5 best 1B, including arguably the best hitter at the position in Cabrera.

    Comment by Natty G — March 6, 2012 @ 11:38 am

  19. Freeman is underrated. He’ll out perform guys like Ike and Goldschmidt

    Comment by Andrew — March 6, 2012 @ 11:40 am

  20. It’s interesting to compare these projections to the catcher projections from yesterday. For instance, 11 teams are projected to get at least 4 WAR from catcher, but only 5 are projected to reach that level at first. Not at all what I would have guessed. Interesting stuff.

    Comment by Jason461 — March 6, 2012 @ 11:43 am

  21. On the other hand, it looks like Cabrera is projected to get 600 PA at 3rd. And he’s so much better with the bat than any other 3B, he’d have to be -25 fielding not to be in the top 2.

    Comment by buddy — March 6, 2012 @ 11:50 am

  22. I was shocked to see how highly the Brewers were rated. It gives me more hope for the season. I was most afraid of the black hole on offense simpling moving from the left side to the right.

    Comment by Bob — March 6, 2012 @ 11:54 am

  23. not too fast.

    Comment by dont be cautious — March 6, 2012 @ 11:57 am

  24. Carlos Guillen retired today so the mariners should probably get dropped to #31

    Comment by Kyle — March 6, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

  25. The brewers have a ton of OF depth with Gomez and aoiki (someone they picked up). The offense would lack with Corey at 1B but the OF defense would be incredible.

    Comment by craig — March 6, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

  26. I agree. I really enjoy Matt’s work, but there seem to be more typos than usual here.

    Separately, there also seem to be a few cases where the narrative doesn’t really match up with the projections. For example, you note that the Reds edge out the Angels because Votto won’t spend time in the DH slot like Pujols, but you then project Votto for only 10 more PA at 1B than Pujols.

    Comment by steex — March 6, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

  27. Agreed. Smoak’s going to hit .280 with 25 dingers this year. Mark it down.

    Comment by Hutch — March 6, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

  28. Another good option would be to move Ramirez and his declining glove over to first and play Green at third.

    Comment by Dexter Bobo — March 6, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

  29. Because he has only hit lower than 0.500 two years of the last 10? or because those two years were 2009 and 2011 (0.480 ish in both years).

    Comment by Barkey Walker — March 6, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

  30. Did not realize how bad Morse is in the field. It looks to me like his glove only plays decently at 1B or DH (obviously, not an option for the Nationals).

    Comment by Barkey Walker — March 6, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

  31. You can only play one first baseman at a time, though.

    Comment by Jason461 — March 6, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

  32. “…talent trumps all, and if Huff start out of the gate slow, Belt could get time sooner rather than later”
    Clearly you haven’t seen Bruce Bochy manage before. Given the chance to play a hack veteran who can’t produce anymore over a promising prospect, Boch will run the vet out there every time. Huff is going to flounder for a good 2 months, minimum, before Belt gets the everyday playing time (then Huff will be back in the lineup at Belt’s first three-game-long slump).

    Comment by Brendan — March 6, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

  33. “Given the continued hilarity of James Loney, it is amazing that Dodgers are even this high on the list. The brilliant plan to back him up apparently involves two outfielders and Adam Kennedy, a classic aging utility man without utility. Loney still will get most of the at-bats, I think, as Rivera can only platoon for one guy at once. No word on what Ned Colletti offered Juan Pierre.”

    James Loney hit better than perhaps any other 1B in baseball last year from August 7th on (go back to August 1st if you’d like and he’s still top 3, if not better still) with 7 or 8 hr and 18 doubles from that point on. While it’s likely we see a Loney not much different from the last few years, I don’t see why we couldn’t see the Loney from Pre Allstar Break 2010 Loney (.300+/.375+/.460+) this year.

    Comment by Ivdown — March 6, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

  34. I assumed this was the most likely scenario.

    Comment by Nate — March 6, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

  35. “After that, the Pirates have Casey McGehee, a player whose bat really only plays at tird.”

    Wow, harsh!

    Comment by Ryan King — March 6, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

  36. Hell of a narrative you’re building for yourself there.

    He was pretty Pujolian post May last year. And that Houston / Pirates remark is pretty insulting, both to the teams themselves (I mean we’re talking about the As and the Mariners over here) and, more importantly, to The Machine himself.

    I get that he’s declining but let’s not try to outrun through curve on the guy.

    Comment by Daniel — March 6, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

  37. How is Miguel Cabrera going to be a -6 in the field with only 80 PA at 1B… maybe I don’t understand how you are doing the projections on defense but wouldn’t that put him on pace as a -45 fielder at 1B per 600 PA?

    Comment by Cody K — March 6, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

  38. You just chose Loney’s best 500 ABs out of a 3000+ PA career and legitimately suggested that its fair to project those 500 ABs for next season…?

    Comment by ZLS123 — March 6, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

  39. I’m generally not one to comment on typos, but this was ridiculous, there’s at least one in just about every blurb.

    Comment by ZLS123 — March 6, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

  40. Same here. I have no idea what the end of this sentence means:

    “Mark Kotsay continues his mysterious late-career run in the majors taking at-bats away frmo more worthy players (99 of the league).”

    Comment by Jay29 — March 6, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

  41. That’s not a narrative. A narrative is when you say stuff like clutch and change of environment and being protected by Matt Holliday and referring to him by a made-for-TV nickname and drawing arbitrary start-and-end points and stuff like that to rationalize your argument.

    When you take a player who’s factually on the wrong end of the aging curve, who has dropped in every single metric over a two-year sample, what you have is, objectively, a player on the back end of his career who is no longer worth the hyperbole of his youth.

    Comment by themiddle54 — March 6, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

  42. I like how EE is listed as a 2B there. That’d be quite the adventure.

    Comment by sc2gg — March 6, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

  43. You can, however, position your 3B over near the 1B side of the diamond, thus giving viewers the impression you have more than one 1B at a time.

    Comment by sc2gg — March 6, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

  44. Yeah, when I read that, I thought he must really stink.

    Comment by sc2gg — March 6, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

  45. If that is in fact the Mets’ plan, Duda as an every-day RF is the worst idea I’ve heard this spring outside of Miguel Cabrera playing 3B. Ideally, you’d want your RF to be able to run and/or throw better than an average MLB outfielder. In Duda’s case, you’d have a RF who is below average at both skills.

    Comment by reillocity — March 6, 2012 @ 2:40 pm

  46. It is a narrative. You’re telling a story about the decline of Albert Pujols and using advanced stats rather than nonsense doesn’t change that.

    Look, I’m not here in opposition to the idea that Pujols is most likely past the high point of his career. My question is why it has to receive so much emphasis. We have one of the best hitters in baseball history here, he’s still one of the very best hitters in the league, he’s producing WAR totals like he was 4 years ago but he’s still projected for a roughly 390 wOBA, just to give one example.

    This is not about his contract, this is not about the Angels’ decision to sign him, this is about how good Albert Pujols projects to be in 2012. And it’s really, really good. So why get hung up about the decline? Why demand something so good to just be over already?

    Also, you say “hyperbole” there – you need to spend more time looking at that man’s player page; pretty difficult to get hyperbolic about what he did over the last decade.

    Comment by Daniel — March 6, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

  47. as a Pirates fan, I am glad Pujols is out of the NL… in 171 career games (633 AB) vs. the Pirates, he has 48 HR and 145 RBI and is hitting .365/.451/.681.

    Comment by gonfalon — March 6, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

  48. Konerko is bad around the bag and on the bases,

    You listed Konerko’s fielding as -1.I take it that -1 is fielding runs and not fielding WAR.

    Otherwise, -1 is hardly “bad”, it’s average. Konerko is “average” around the bag.

    Not that it makes a difference, I just prefer words and metrics to match.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — March 6, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

  49. Frankly, I’m surprised the Pirates were ranked as high as they were.

    Thanks for nothing, Derrek Lee :mad: :mad: :mad:

    Comment by gonfalon — March 6, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

  50. As a Brewers fan, that sounds about right.

    Comment by icbeast — March 6, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

  51. More like -30 to not be #1.

    Comment by JG — March 6, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

  52. I seriously doubt Mayberry Jr. will play 2B this year.

    Comment by Brian — March 6, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

  53. This ranking system seems to suggest that Justin Smoak will play through a wrist injury again and that he is a big bust. This ranking seems to be ignoring reality, or at least imposing some kind of alternative reality in which only a small fraction of our collective Justin Smoak knowledge is applied.

    I know, I know, “some of these will look silly in retrospect, and perhaps even now.” But… that projected .702 OPS is borderline ignorant. Last year he was great at the start/end of the year and injured/playing through a debilitating injury for the 2-3 months in the middle. We know he is healthy now, not to mention a 25-year-old recent top prospect, so it’s only right to assume he’ll have a better 2012, right? Last year he OPSd .719. This projection seems to anticipate aging-slugger decline, which is just so, so ridiculous. Not to mention, Montero and Carp are more-than-capable backups and Carlos Guillen retired this morning. I’m a big fan of your writing/this series, but the M’s ranking here looks quite ill-considered.

    Comment by Ray — March 6, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

  54. You’re absolutely right, Daniel. It’s not about contract, or the Angels decision to sign him. Those are things that would fall into ‘narrative.’ Like playing the “poor Pittsburgh and Houston” card, as if the emotions of the fans are more relevant than the fact that 4 of the 9 worst team FIPs last year resided in the NL Central, while the SEA and OAK teams you mention were 2nd and 3rd in the tougher league in team FIP. In cases where we make objective performance analysis take a backseat to fan emotion we are typically crafting narrative and reaching false conclusions.

    What it’s about is the notion that Pujols is still the guy that we shrug and say “well, what else can you say about him?” He’s not that guy anymore.

    Comment by themiddle54 — March 6, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

  55. Thome is a first ballot Hall of famer to me and I never rooted for any of his teams. A very rare hitter in the history of the game.

    Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — March 6, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

  56. Yeah, there was a slew of injuries there at one point last year and they wanted to get his bat in the lineup day game after night game; it was during the stretch where his bat really came alive. Markakis also played a game or two at first in similar circumstances. Wieters is probably not actually in the top 5 options they’d use at first this season (Davis, Reynolds, Johnson, Betemit, Mahoney).

    Comment by Bonzi — March 6, 2012 @ 5:30 pm

  57. Zips is being unkind to Adam LaRoche. He was very hurt last year. I do not seeing him matching his numbers from 2010, but a slash line of .255/.332/.435 is more likely and slugging .450 would not shock me. Plus a +2 defense is very pessimistic. He is a +5 more likely. His last two UZR/150s have been 13.4 in 2011 and 4.8 in 2010. A WAR of 1.5 is about right. That makes the Nationals Rank #13 with nothing else changing.

    Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — March 6, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

  58. “He was pretty Pujolian post May last year”

    A .400 wOBA is great, but isn’t Pujolsian.

    Comment by NS — March 6, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

  59. Correlation = causation…..boom.

    Comment by colin — March 6, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

  60. Agree this makes no sense. Miguel has a -2.7 career UZR/150 mark at 1B, he’s no where close to -6. In addition, even if he were in the amount of time it takes him to get 80 PA he wouldn’t come close to that mark.

    Either 1. That -6 is not only a seasonal UZR/150 ranking at both 1b AND 3b or more likely 2. This is a stat contrived from the “Cabrera is bad at defense” narrative without actually checking the stats for oneself.

    Comment by colin — March 6, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

  61. Giambi and Helton were good for almost 4 WAR together last year in 640 PAs. I know they’re both old as dirt and declining quickly, but if they combine for 560 PAs in 2012 and only rack up 1.2 WAR, I’ll eat a hat.

    Comment by Kyle K. — March 6, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

  62. The big thing you’re missing about the Pirates is that they’ll be platooning Jones at 1B (either with McGehee or Nick Evans, probably), which should give them significantly better production than just running Jones out there for 570 PA. That probably doesn’t change the overall ranking much, though.

    Comment by epoc — March 6, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

  63. Reynolds’ SLG is off.

    Comment by jsp2014 — March 6, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  64. also, Carlos Guillen retired.

    Comment by jsp2014 — March 6, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  65. But are the limits of that point not really boring? So he’s not Albert Pujols at his peak, but he’s still excellent. Pointing out that he’s in decline is fine, but let’s not act like he’s done, like he’s no longer deserving of conversation, like everything that’s was said about him before is suddenly passe because he’s not the absolute monster he once was.

    And I take your point about the Mariners and oakland, that’s fair enough. I was just taking exception to the idea that he is what he is because of the NL Central, though I’m sure you weren’t trying to say that.

    Comment by Daniel — March 6, 2012 @ 7:29 pm

  66. Re: themiddle54 citing Sea/Oak 2011 FIP – that was with Cahill, Gio, Pineda and most of Fister making it irrelevant for conversation about the present-day. Seattle is garbage behind Felix while Oakland has potential with Parker, Peacock and Milone, but hardly proven commodities.

    So he’s in a division with one good pitching team… the Rangers. The best pitching team in that division is his own.

    Also, you are building a narrative just as Daniel suggested.

    Comment by pjs24 — March 7, 2012 @ 2:52 am

  67. Constructive criticism: this piece could’ve used a once-over proofread before posting. Several typos that made it a tough read. Not trying to hate, just trying to help.

    Comment by pjs24 — March 7, 2012 @ 2:55 am

  68. you project giambi for -0.2 WAR in 60 PAs, which is less than half as many as he’s had in any season in his entire career. last year he was 1.3 WAR in 152 PAs. i think projecting such a dropoff is a little unrealistic.

    Also michael cuddyer is the 3rd string 1B, not pacheco

    Comment by jim — March 7, 2012 @ 3:36 am

  69. 99%** of the league being more worthy of big league at bats than mark kotsay

    Comment by Bridgemaster — March 7, 2012 @ 8:22 am

  70. He’s not THAT bad in the OF – a little of that is that Nats CFs tend to cover extra range, so he doesn’t show as much range – but his natural position is definitely 1B. Funny, since he was drafted as a SS.

    Comment by jorgath — March 7, 2012 @ 10:21 am

  71. I agree. Eric Hosmer was given a pass for his bad UZR defensive ranking last year but Freddie wasn’t. Just from watching Freddie last year he doesn’t have great range but he has a tremendous glove and great arm. There is no way that the Braves should be ranked below teams like the Giants, Diamondbacks, Marlins, Mets, etc. I would rank them 8th, directly behind the Royals. Expect Freddie to surprise some people this year….just as he did last season.

    Comment by JT Grace — March 7, 2012 @ 10:29 am

  72. His bat is too good to keep him out of the lineup. Where else would he play?

    Comment by 20389438 — March 7, 2012 @ 12:38 pm

  73. I don’t understand how you can have the Tigers not ranked #1. No other team could have their starting 1B, who is an elite hitter, get injured and immediately replace him with a hitter who is as good, if not better, offensively. Where would they be ranked if they hadn’t signed Fielder?

    Comment by Randy — March 7, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

  74. “Crafting a narrative” in the traditional “I don’t agree and would like to dismiss what is being said” way, is a means of explaining the world the way you want it to be, or an opinion, using whatever evidence you can find to tell the story you want to tell. It usually means you’re working backwards from a conclusion (Albert is still Albert) instead of asking a question and being honest about the answer once you find it.

    If I work forward and ask “who projects to be the best 1B in baseball next year?” and look objectively at Pujols (and everyone else) I find a guy who’s 32 with two consecutive steep decline years. And I rank him behind Votto and A-Gonz for sure, Miggy without a doubt if I consider Miggy a 1B (I do), and Fielder if I think Fielder remains at his peak this year (he should) and Pujols declines more since he’s 33 (he should.) Or, Pujols is something like the 3rd-5th best 1B in baseball. . Pretty good. But a far far cry from what he was a few years ago. That’s not narrative. That’s an objective measure of the 1B in the game. For Pujols to be the 1st or 2nd best 1B in the game this year he will need to have what at this point we should consider an outlier year for him, probably coupled with an outlier from A-Gonz or Votto or Miggy or Fielder.

    FWIW, I’ll take OAK 2012’s rotation over OAK 2011’s every day. And with Hultzen, Paxton, Walker coming soon enough to support Felix, in the last 18 years of the Pujols contract a trip to Seattle won’t be a walk in the park.

    Comment by themiddle54 — March 7, 2012 @ 2:22 pm


    Comment by he changed his mechanics — March 7, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

  76. Justin Smoak blows, don’t kid yourself.

    Comment by Shaun Catron — March 7, 2012 @ 6:41 pm

  77. Everyone who comments on this site is smarter than everyone else who comments on this site, imo

    Comment by Big time timmy jim — March 7, 2012 @ 6:47 pm

  78. Regardless of how good Smoak actually is, ZIPS is crazy for projecting him to produce less WAR this year than he did last year, given that he was badly injured for three months of 2011.

    Comment by ThirteenOfTwo — March 7, 2012 @ 9:00 pm

  79. gotta find some way at FG to boof the Tigers in every piece, that’s how he is -6 in 80 PAs….laughable….Peralta is the #20 SS? AJax the #20 CF? Happens in every article, there is no logic rhyme or reason….Prince Fielder will have a full 1.2 WAR less than Youkilis in 40 MORE games based on 3 yr games played history?

    and the beat goes on….

    Comment by Tim — March 8, 2012 @ 12:38 am

  80. Edwin Encarnacion= .361 BA

    Hooray for more typos!!!

    Comment by Anthony — March 8, 2012 @ 2:11 am

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