Results tagged ‘ Aramis Ramirez ’

How Angels’ ‘Big 3′ stacks up in 2013 …

Josh Hamilton

I wrote recently about the Angels’ own prestigious “Big Three” of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton — how they could potentially hold up historically and in this era.

But how do they hold up in 2013? There’s little debate that the Angels now have the most talented and celebrated lineup trio in baseball, giving them arguably the game’s most potent offense. But I was a little stunned that their 2012 stats didn’t show it.

In fact, when combining each of their OPS from 2012, the Angels’ trio ranked third, behind those of the Tigers and Reds. Below is the top 15, based on combined OPS of the top three current players in each lineup (minimum is 400 plate appearances) …

  • Tigers (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson): 2.795
  • Reds (Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick, Jay Bruce): 2.759
  • Angels (Trout, Pujols, Hamilton): 2.752
  • Brewers (Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart): 2.729
  • Red Sox (David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli*): 2.635
  • Blue Jays (Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera): 2.627
  • Cardinals (Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina): 2.627
  • Rangers (Adrian Beltre, David Murphy, A.J. Pierzynski): 2.607
  • Rockies (Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Tyler Colvin): 2.602
  • Pirates (Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Pedro Alvarez): 2.569
  • D-backs (Aaron Hill, Paul Goldschmidt, Jason Kubel): 2.565
  • Yankees (Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira): 2.547
  • Twins (Josh Willingham, Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit): 2.532
  • Giants (Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt): 2.527
  • Dodgers (Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez): 2.524

* Napoli’s deal still hasn’t been finalized. 

** A special thanks to all of you for making this blog the 10th-most popular among MLB.com beat writers in 2012. You’re the whipped cream on my sundae. 

Alden 

6 Divisions in 6 Days, Day 3 …

Leading up to Opening Day, I’ll roll out an All-Star team for each of the six divisions in baseball — that includes a manager, a starting nine (with a DH also for the National League), three starters and two relievers. One catch: Each team must have at least one representative, and the skipper doesn’t count. Feel free to submit your own lineups below. I’d love to see how yours differ.

Day 3: NL Central
Probably the most wide-open division in baseball (except you can probably count out the Astros).

Manager: Dusty Baker, CIN

Lineup

Andrew McCutchen, CF (PIT)
Starlin Castro, SS (CHC)
Ryan Braun, LF (MIL)
Joey Votto, 1B (CIN)
Matt Holliday, RF (STL)
Aramis Ramirez, 3B (MIL)
Carlos Lee, DH (HOU)
Yadier Molina, C (STL)
Brandon Phillips, 2B (CIN)

Rotation

Chris Carpenter, STL (if healthy)
Yovani Gallardo, MIL
Adam Wainwright, STL

Bullpen

Joel Hanrahan, PIT
John Axford, MIL

Alden

Now for those UNpleasant surprises …

Earlier this week, I wrote about baseball’s most pleasant surprises of the season. Now I thought I should take a look at the other end of that spectrum; the guys we didn’t expect to have down seasons. Take a step back, and you’ll find there’s a lot of star (or star-ish) players that are having bad years.

Here’s a look at the five of the best (or, worst) …

Not-so-great signings: Jayson Werth — $126 million; .230 batting average, .713 OPS. Adam Dunn — $56 million; .165 batting average, 11 homers. Carl Crawford — $142 million; .290 on-base percentage. All were signed in order to get their respective teams over the hump, all have been nothing besides a hindrance so far. If not for a 33-game, season-saving hitting streak, Dan Uggla would’ve been a part of this group, too. Regardless, the cases of Werth (pictured right by The Associated Press), Dunn and Crawford are all head-scratching, and the most troubling is perhaps the situation of Dunn (an unfathomable 3-for-81 versus lefties).

Still not ready?: That’s probably what we can say about Kyle Drabek and Zach Britton, two young guns we thought would compete for the American League Cy Young Award but have struggled this year. Drabek posted a 5.70 ERA through his first 14 starts, prompting a demotion to the Minor Leagues. Now, he has a 6.51 ERA in 13 Triple-A starts. Britton is 7-9 with a 4.54 ERA, was demoted once and missed about two weeks with a shoulder injury recently.

We thought they were on the rise: But Jason Heyward, Carlos Santana, Pedro Alvarez and Brett Wallace only took steps back this year. Heyward, we thought, was a can’t-miss prospect, and he can of course still be a star. But right now, he’s the definition of “sophomore slump.” He’s been mired by injuries, he’s hitting only .220 with 13 homers, and now he’s been supplanted by a man named Costanza (no, not this one). Wallace won the Astros’ starting first base job with a great spring, but hit just .268 with four homers in 101 games before being sent down. He’s 25 now, and has played for four organizations. Will he ever produce like a first baseman should?  Santana, one of baseball’s best young catchers before missing the final two months of last year with a concussion, has 19 homers but is only hitting .241 and can’t even be considered the AL’s best catcher in a year when Joe Mauer is struggling (that title belongs to Alex Avila). And Alvarez not only doesn’t look too adept defensively at the hot corner, but he’s hitting .196 with three homers in 56 games in a struggle- and injury-filled second year.

Stars? Not this year: Hanley Ramirez, Ubaldo JimenezChase Utley and Mauer have all had uncommon struggles. By his lofty standards, Hanley’s 2010 season — .300 batting average, 21 homers, 32 steals — was a down one. This one — .243 batting average, 10 homers and 20 steals through 92 games — is flat-out mystifying. He has caught flak from teammates — particularly Logan Morrison – and now, he’s in Class A Jupiter rehabbing. Mauer missed time with leg weakness, has just one home run in his 70 games this year and has been tried out first base and right field this year. The Twins must obviously consider moving Mauer to a different position so they can keep him on the field, but does his bat play elsewhere? For the last six years, Utley has been one of baseball’s most consistent players and arguably its best second baseman. But knee tendinitis put him on the shelf at the start, and now he sits with just a .278 batting average and nine homers in 78 games. And one year after placing third in National League Cy Young Award voting, Ubaldo  has a 4.71 ERA in 26 starts this season. Many felt his head simply wasn’t in it in Colorado after frustrations over his contract situation, but he has a 5.79 ERA in his first five starts in Cleveland (though he did pitch seven innings of one-run ball on Friday night).

The lukewarm corner: So, who’s baseball’s best third baseman this year? Not Ryan Zimmerman; he has a .299 batting average but only nine homers and has been limited to 72 games. Not Alex Rodriguez; he has solid numbers for anyone else (.292 batting average and 14 homers) but was set back by a recent stint to the disabled list. Not David Wright; he missed almost 60 games with a back injury. Not Evan Longoria; he’s hitting just .237 after also missing time with injury. Nope, it’s none of those guys. Baseball’s best third baseman this year is … Aramis Ramirez, owner of a .311 batting average, 24 homers and 83 RBIs.

Honorable mentions: Ichiro Suzuki (.331 batting average and 224 hits per season in his first 10 years. This year? Career-low .273 batting average and .313 on-base percentage). … Rafael Soriano (Given $35 million to be a setup man; now has a 4.94 ERA as a middle reliever). … Shin-Soo Choo (One of baseball’s best-kept secrets while hitting .302 with 56 homers and 47 steals from 2008-10. This year, he’s hitting just .261 with eight homers in 83 games).

– Alden 

* Also filed this week: Aces’ contract decisions deliver parity

My AL & NL lineups differ from yours …

… But only slightly.

See, I never expect perfection when so many fans from so many different places and with so many different biases vote so many times. But, I gotta say, the 32.5 million of you who voted this year didn’t do half-bad. Of course, I would’ve made a few changes.

Here’s my lineup …

American League 

Catcher- Alex Avila, Tigers: Easy choice. Joe Mauer has barely played, Carlos Santana has struggled, and Russell Martin‘s production at the plate went south after a hot start.

First base- Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox: Another no-brainer. He’s fitting in perfectly at Fenway, and if not for a man named Bautista, he’s the best hitter going.

Second base- Robinson Cano, Yankees: Something tells me he’ll be dominating this position for years to come.

Third base- Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: Solid, healthy year — and you can’t say the same about Evan Longoria.

Shortstop- Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians: I’m sorry, but you can’t pick Derek Jeter (pictured above by The Associated Press). I could understand if this was his final year and you want to send him out a la Cal Ripken Jr. But Cabrera has been an offensive and defensive key for the thriving Indians.

Outfield- Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: Um, yeah, he’s good.

Outfield- Curtis Granderson, Yankees: Off to one of his best starts while looking very good in that 2 hole.

Outfield- Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: He’s providing what Boston needs from him — getting on base, stealing bases and serving as a steady presence at the top of the order — while putting up power numbers to boot.

Designated hitter- David Ortiz, Red Sox: “Big Papi” needed a good start in his walk year, and he has it.

National League 

Catcher- Brian McCann, Braves: Unreal that he’s made it to six straight All-Star Games and hadn’t started one until this year. Glad that will change.

First base- Joey Votto, Reds: He’s the reigning NL MVP and is off to another great start even if the power numbers aren’t where they were at this point last year. (I know what you’re thinking, but keep reading.)

Second base- Rickie Weeks, Brewers: All-around solid year, and Chase Utley is still working his way back.

Third base- Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: Having a solid year, and for some reason very few realize it.

Shortstop- Jose Reyes, Mets: No doubt about this one. Not sure why it took him so long to pass Troy Tulowitzki.

Outfield- Ryan Braun, Brewers: One of baseball’s best keeps getting better.

Outfield- Matt Kemp, Dodgers: He’s the first half’s NL MVP if not for a guy named Reyes. Looks like a change in managers has done him well, for whatever reason.

Outfield- Lance Berkman, Cardinals: Didn’t expect him to have the first half he’s had, but glad to see I was wrong.

Designated hitter- Prince Fielder, Brewers: Not fair? Hey, it’s my lineup!

– Alden 

** What I wrote this week: Fielder at ease in his walk year; Yankees haven’t stopped winning since being swept by the Red Sox. 

6 Divisions in 6 Days: NL Central

With this being the final week of Spring Training (crazy, right?), I figured it’d be justified to take a look at all 30 clubs and examine where they stand, what they need and where it looks like they’ll finish heading into the 2010 season. So, leading up to Opening Night between the Red Sox and Yankees, I’ll touch on one of the six divisions each day Monday-Saturday. Today, Day 4, we look at the National League Central …


Cardinals: They will enter the season without a big lefty bat off the bench. That starting rotation is shaky 3-5. I’m having trouble identifying a true setup man in that bullpen. And I don’t know how much I trust Ryan Franklin to do it all over again as the closer. But baseball can be a simple game sometimes, so I’m not going to complicate the Cardinals’ situation. They have arguably the best 1-2 combination at the top of the rotation with Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, and arguably the best 3-4 combination in the middle of the lineup in Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. Questions answered. The Cardinals are the best team in the division. It’s not just because of that, though. They have a great manager in Tony La Russa, and they have some nice pieces around those four studs. All those other problems, they can be addressed through in-season trades, as general manager John Mozeliak has proven he’s capable of pulling off (see: Holliday). La Russa admitted Thursday his club is a little thin heading into the season — especially with some of their Spring Training injuries — but they’ve been “thin” before and won. This year should be no different. 

holliday-pujols.jpg
Cubs: Lou Piniella basically has one more shot to turn those lovable Cubbies into champions. Can he do it? I don’t think so. I know last year’s team was severely hurt, but I just don’t see enough on that club to be able to compete in this division. Main power threats are Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee and an Alfonso Soriano who could barely bend over anymore? Rotation aces are Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster? Closer is Carlos Marmol? I just don’t see enough. There’s a lot of question marks among those names. If healthy, though, I do think they’ll stay in contention, mainly for the Wild Card, and I like the fact they essentially swapped Milton Bradley for Marlon Byrd. But Soriano’s contract — he’s got $18 million coming annually through 2014 — is eating away at them, and they’re relying on too many unproven and/or volatile guys for me to be a believer. Maybe year 103 is the lucky one, Cubs fans. 

Brewers: I don’t feel like they have enough to be legitimate factors, but I sure like this team. They’ll be fun to watch, and it isn’t just because of their choreographed celebrations after Prince Fielder home runs (though that of course plays a factor). Fielder and Ryan Braun is one of the best middle-of-the-order combinations in baseball, and one nobody really ever talks about. And I like that rotation. Sure, they overpaid for Randy Wolf (proud owner of a three-year, $29.75 million contract). But you have to overpay in that market to get arms like that. Wolf, along with Yovani Gallardo, Doug Davis, Dave Bush and Manny Parra make this a more-than-formidable bunch. The back end of that bullpen is pretty set with LaTroy Hawkins and Trevor Hoffman. And keep your eyes on new shortstop Alcides Escobar and new center fielder Carlos Gomez. It amazes me how general manager Doug Melvin can keep fielding competitive teams while facing the elements each offseason. Nice (though not great) team. 

Reds: Many are picking the Reds to be the surprise team of baseball, and I can see why. But I don’t think they have enough to get past the Cardinals in this division. Still, that starting rotation is nice with Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey. The bullpen isn’t bad, either, with guys like Arthur RhodesFrancisco Cordero and Nick Masset in the back end. There are questions in that starting lineup, though. Scott Rolen and Orlando Cabrera will have to turn back the clock, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips need to keep producing, Jay Bruce needs ;to be better, and somebody needs to step up and become a reliable leadoff man. That’s too many things that have to go right. Aroldis Chapman will eventually play a big factor in that starting rotation — or maybe the bullpen? — but he needs more time. 

Astros: In every sense of the word, the Astros are your run-of-the-mill average ballclub. Bullpen? Average. Starting rotation? Average. Offense? Average. Defense? Average. I like the hiring of Brad Mills, who will run a tighter ship while being more well-liked than Cecil Cooper (it’s hard not to be, frankly), and I’ve already seen first-hand the impact new pitching coach Brad Arnsberg has had on the staff. The additions of Brett Myers, Matt Lindstrom, Brandon Lyon and Pedro Feliz were fine, but nothing that’s going to put this team over the top. I love Ed Wade, but I think the Astros are going to have to pick a direction soon. Are they going to push all their chips to the middle of the table and push to be a World Series contender now? Or are they a club that will look to build up its farm system to really contend down the line? Right now, it seems they’re stuck in the middle, and that will reflect on their record. 81-81 finish? Probably a good gauge. 

Pirates: It goes without saying that the Pirates will struggle. They did a nice job last season of ridding themselves of salary and getting some nice pieces in return before the Trade Deadline, as they strive to make the playoffs for the first time since 1992. (Wow, has it really been that long?) They have a lot of work to do before they’re back on top, though. It is going to be fun to watch Andrew McCutchen for a full season, and Garrett Jones could be poised for a big year. But I don’t know about Jeff Clement at first base and Ryan Doumit catching, nobody else in that lineup really sticks out at me, and the rotation and bullpen is very weak. Keep your eyes peeled on two prospects, though: third baseman Pedro Alvarez and catcher Tony Sanchez

– Alden Gonzalez
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