NL Central Smackdown: 1st Basemen
I was going to try and get this up before the season started, but that clearly didn't happen for a variety of reasons. But that's no excuse to let the work go to waste. Basically I thought it would be fun to go through each position player in the division and the starting pitchers and see how we rank them. Who’s the best now? Who will be the best over the next 3 years? I'll be using Baseball Prospectus's WARP-3 numbers for the most part, which includes both offense and defense and most importantly for this exercise, projections for the next three years. Once we get through the eight positions and the starting pitchers, I'll finish it off with a Bill Simmons inspired (ripped off) trade value chart.
Here are the ground rules. We're trying to figure out who you'd rather have on your team. Do your best to take your Cubs bias out of the equation if possible (that shouldn't be hard for some of you). But we're also trying to figure out who has the best players on the their team right now, so I'm going to use the players projected to get the most playing time this year. Sure, Jay Bruce will eventually take over center field duties in Cincinnati, but who knows when. The chart after the jump includes their 3-year WARP-3 averages (2005-2007) and their projected 2008-2010 averages.The final column, appropriately labeled "Rob's Rankings", are simply how I ranked them before looking at any stats. For the most part I was pretty close to what the numbers bear out. I should also note that I did my rankings before the season started.
We'll start off with the toughest and most talented position, the first basemen. Your gladiators after the jump....
|Player||3-Year Warp-3 Average
||3 Year Warp-3 Projection
|Prince Fielder||5.62 (2 Years)||5.77||3|
The Justification: I almost feel bad about ranking Lee fourth on the list with his hot start. Pujols at the one spot is a no-brainer, the best hitter in the game and his defense is vastly underrated. The 2-4 spots were then essentially coin flips. Berkman's about 6 months younger than Lee which doesn't mean much, but he can play a more than passable right field when needed. And personally, I just think he's a little better hitter. Lee certainly gets the edge on Fielder with the glove, but with Fielder just about to turn 24, I think most GM's would trade Fielder for Lee right now. Joey Votto is well on his way to making a name for himself, but he's still too much of a risk at this point. Adam Laroche fits right in with Pittsburgh and their long tradition of sucking ass.
I've put up a ranking poll and I hope all take a moment to put in their votes. What I'll do is add up everything once we get through all the positons and try to get a composite of who's the best team. I'm not exactly sure how I'll do the pitching. It would be pretty hard to rank 30 pitchers and then the bullpens. I might just do the bullpens as units or the whole staff and I'm open to suggestions.
You may be asking, am I ranking the best players for this year or for the next few years? Well that's a question that GM's face every day. Where's the line and where's the trade-off? So choose wisely...
Please note, you do have to register to vote. This isn't some scheme to solicit registrations, it's just an anomaly of the site and the poll software that's built in. Trust me, I'd love to fix it, but I haven't found another piece of integrated software that does these ranking polls which I really like. Plus if you register, you get a better user experience as I tend to test everything as a registered user and you get an uncached version of the site. You can also view the results of the poll after you vote, instead of having to wait until I close it. It takes all of two minutes to register and unlikes some sites, I'll be more than happy to cancel your account if you wish. You'll never receive any spam from us either...promise.
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2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.