This is Team Joy Squad for 2011, introduced a mere two hours ago.
#25 – Robinson Chirinos, C, Tampa Bay
Chirinos was one of five players who went Tampa-ward this past offseason — along with pitcher Chris Archer, outfielder Brandon Guyer, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, and Smartest Guy Sam Fuld — for Matt Garza and two prospects. If you ask this guy, the trade was a no-question win for the Rays. Archer and Lee are the prospects, but Chirinos’ story — combined with his talent — makes him the most notable. Chirinos converted to catcher in the middle of 2008 after stalling out as a middle infielder. For reasons that only Nostradamus and/or Robinson Chirinos know, the latter’s bat has been revived by the move. He posted a ZiPS Major League Equivalency (zMLE) of .271/.347/.451 (.289 BABIP) in 318 PA last season and, by conservative estimates, will be the best player in history.
#24 – Cameron Maybin, OF, San Diego
Rarely in my long and action-filled life have I seen a top prospect so dismissed with so little evidence as Cameron Maybin. A 10th-overall pick by the Tigers in the 2005 draft, Maybin appeared on Baseball America’s top-100 prospect list for the next four consecutive years, ranking 31st, 6th, 6th, and 8th. Just 24 this season, Maybin has played in 168 major-league games, amassing 610 PAs over that period and a 1.7 WAR — a.k.a. not bad at all, really. Yet, he’s apparently become the sort of player who the Marlins don’t mind trading to San Diego for relief pitchers. The contact rate is a problem, yes. But the glove is probably worth +5 runs in center and the bat is good enough. And, like I say, he’s only 24.
#23 – Jordan Zimmermann, RHP, Washington
What a lot of people don’t know, but what I’m prepared to inform you of now, is that that extra -n- in Jordan Zimmermann‘s surname is on account of all the nasty he possesses. What people may also not know is that, when he’s been healthy, Jordan Zimmermann has been one of the best pitchers in the baseball leagues. Regard: in 122.1 IP in the majors, Zimmermann has posted a 8.75 K/9, 2.87 BB/9, and 45.0 GB% — good for a 3.57 xFIP. Nor did he appear to suffer at all from a Tommy John surgery that saw him return to the mound — and pitch well — 11 months after the procedure. That his ERA is a less appealing 4.71 is actually an argument in favor of sabery types’ appreciation of Zimmermann.
(Note: Attentive readers will notice that Zimmermann appears below in what seems to be the area reserved for relief pitchers. It’s hard to explain why this is so; and yet, it is.)
Moreland and Sanchez occupy a similar space in the world of baseball — namely, as the sort of player who’s never failed at any level and yet, for one reason or another, has never captured the imagination of talent evaluators, either. Neither ever appeared on BA’s top-100 list and both seem to have been afterthoughts for the first base positions with their respective organizations. And yet, both Moreland and Sanchez (a) enter the season as their team’s starter at first and (b) appear entirely capable of posting a two- or three-win season in 2011. No, there’s probably no upside for anything greater than that, but two or three cost-controlled wins is nothing you should sneeze at (not that you should sneeze at anything, really).
Team Joy Squad 2011 (w/ Picks #21 – #25):
C 1B Gaby Sanchez, 1B, FLA 2B 3B SS LF CF RF DH B B B Mitch Moreland, 1B, TEX B Cameron Maybin, OF, SD B Robinson Chirinos, C, WAS SP SP SP SP SP P P P P P P Jordan Zimmermann, RHP, WAS
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