Results tagged ‘ Jason Kubel ’

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 

Postseason breakdown: American League

MINNESOTA — The Rays, Yankees, Twins and Rangers are all different heading into the postseason, but they all have a lefty at the top of their rotations, solid eight- and ninth-inning guys and, come Wednesday, they’ll all be 0-0 and 11 wins away from World Series glory. 

With the start of the American League Division Series now less than two days away, here’s a team-by-team glance at what we’ve got. 

(And a prediction that’s hopefully more successful than my regular-season picks.) 
Rays (96-66)

Potential lineup

John Jaso, Cap-price-rays-celebrates-playoff-berth.jpg

Ben Zobrist, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Carlos Pena, 1B
B.J. Upton, CF
Willy Aybar, DH
Jason Bartlett, SS
Sean Rodriguez, 2B

Potential rotation

David Price, LH

James Shields, RH
Matt Garza, RH
Wade Davis, RH
Key relievers

Rafael Soriano, RH (CL)
Joaquin Benoit, RH
Randy Choate, LH 
Grant Balfour, RH

Key reserves

Kelly Shoppach, C
Dan Johnson, 1B
Reid Brignac, INF
Matt Joyce, OF

Why they’ll win: The Rays have a potential (or favorite?) Cy Young winner in Price, they have a back end of the bullpen that makes the late innings a nightmare — with Benoit in the eighth and Soriano in the ninth — and their speed element — led by Crawford and Upton — is as unique as it is excruciating to defend. Tampa Bay finished 2010 first in the AL in relief pitcher ERA, third in fielding percentage and, despite an inconsistent offense, third in runs. All big keys to success in my book. 

Why they won’t: As threatening as they are on the basepaths, the Rays’ offense has been rather inconsistent this season, because those surrounding Longoria (fully recovered) and Crawford have been very streaky. The big key will be Pena, the power-hitting first baseman who hit just .122 since the start of September. The importance of Pena to the offense is matched by the importance of Shields to the rotation. Joe Maddon surprised me by naming him the No. 2 starter behind Price, despite his 7.59 ERA in his last six starts. He’ll need to be “Big Game James” and give this up-and-down rotation another solid option if the Rays are to make a return trip to the World Series. 

Yankees (95-67)

Potential lineup

Derek Jeter, SSalg_yankee_stadium_crew.jpg

Nick Swisher, RF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Lance Berkman, DH
Jorge Posada, C
Curtis Granderson, CF
Brett Gardner, LF

Potential rotation

CC Sabathia, LH
Andy Pettitte, LH
Phil Hughes, RH
A.J. Burnett, RH

Key relievers

Mariano Rivera, RH (CL)
Kerry Wood, RH
Joba Chamberlain, RH
Boone Logan, LH

Key reserves

Francisco Cervelli, C
Ramiro Pena, INF
Marcus Thames, OF
Austin Kearns, OF

Why they’ll win: Because they’re the Yankees. They’re the defending champions, the payroll monsters and the ones with all the mystique. Their lineup is loaded with dangerous hitters from top to bottom and sprinkled throughout with gritty postseason performers who know what it takes to win this month. So does their ace, Sabathia, and their closer, Rivera. With names like those, along with A-Rod, Jeter, Teixeira, Posada and Cano, the potential MVP, it’s hard to ever bet against the Yankees. Wood has also been a key addition and makes the Bombers yet another team in these playoffs with the eighth and ninth pretty much locked down. 

Why they won’t: Because the starting rotation won’t let them. That’s the only glaring weakness I see for the Yankees in this postseason (though, granted, it’s a big one). Joe Giradi has been mum on who follows CC in the rotation — and maybe he doesn’t even want to think about it. Seriously, who do you go with? Burnett has been awful this season, especially lately. Hughes has been up-and-down and has far-exceeded his previous career-high innings mark. Pettitte isn’t far removed from a long stint on the shelf (and he’s 38). And Vazquez’s struggles have pretty much exiled him from the postseason rotation. 

Twins (94-68)
Potential lineup
Denard Span, CF

alg_gardenhire.jpg

Orlando Hudson, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Delmon Young, LF
Jim Thome, DH
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Jason Kubel, RF
Danny Valencia, 3B
J.J. Hardy, SS
Potential rotation
Francisco Liriano, LH
Carl Pavano, RH
Brian Duensing, LH
Nick Blackburn, RH
Key relievers
Matt Capps, RH (CL)
Brian Fuentes, LH
Jon Rauch, RH
Jesse Crain, RH
Key reserves
Drew Butera, C
Nick Punto, INF
Alexi Casilla, INF
Jason Repko, OF
Why they’ll win: In their previous five appearances in the postseason, the Twins have advanced past the first round just once. But this time, they’ll start with home-field advantage in their beautiful, brand-new ballpark — Target Field — and a resilient team will play on it. Their bullpen is one of the best in the bigs, and though the starting pitching and offense isn’t flashy, the Twins find a way to get the job done in those areas, too. 

Why they won’t: Because the injuries will just be too much to stomach. The Twins have already dealt with the long-term losses of closer Joe Nathan and main run producer Justin Morneau. But Ron Gardenhire‘s club may have to overcome more, if Mauer’s knee and Thome’s back prove troublesome throughout the playoffs. Also, is Liriano the type of ace that can match up with the front-line lefty starters of the other three teams? 

Rangers (90-72)

Potential lineup


josh_hamilton.jpg
Michael Young, 3B
Josh Hamilton, LF
Vladimir Guerrero, DH
Nelson Cruz, RF
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Mitch Moreland, 1B
Bengie Molina, C
Julio Borbon, CF

Potential rotation

Cliff Lee, LH
C.J. Wilson, RH
Colby Lewis, RH
Tommy Hunter, RH

Key relievers

Neftali Feliz, RH (CL)
Darren Oliver, LH
Darren O’Day, RH
Alexi Ogando, RH

Key reserves

Matt Treanor, C
Jorge Cantu, INF
David Murphy, OF
Jeff Francoeur, OF

Why they’ll win: The Rangers have it all in this postseason — a potent lineup, a solid rotation, a deadly relief corps and a wealth of depth. The biggest cause for concern heading in was the health of Hamilton, but the MVP candidate dismissed that by looking good in the regular season’s final weekend. Now, he can nestle into a lineup that boasts Guerrero, Young, Cruz and Kinsler. Rotation-wise, the Rangers knew they’d have an ace in Lee — who proved last year his regular season success translates to the playoffs, too — but it would’ve been hard to predict the rotation behind him would be as solid as it has been. 

Why they won’t: I think the Rangers are the best, most complete AL team in this postseason. But that’s only if Hamilton and Lee are performing the way we all expect. Can we be sure they will? Hamilton, as you know, missed about a month with two fractured ribs. Lee, as you may not, struggled mightily in August, a month that saw him post a 6.35 ERA in seven starts. Also, Ron Washington is the only skipper in these playoffs with no previous postseason managing experience. 
AL CHAMPION: Rangers. 

– Alden Gonzalez

* Look for the NL version tomorrow, and follow @Alden_Gonzalez for coverage of the Yankees-Twins ALDS. 

6 Divisions in 6 Days: AL 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 3, we look at the American League Central …


Twins: I feel for this team. I really do. They’re some of the best group of guys I’ve ever dealt with, and — after a storybook division win last year and some nice offseason moves — they looked like strong contenders heading into Spring Training. But it won’t be easy recovering from the loss of one of the greatest — and, like most of the guys on this team, most underrated — closers in baseball, as Joe Nathan will miss the entire season with Tommy John surgery. Still, they’re a great defensive club, the bullpen is strong, and I love that offense. Orlando Hudson was a nice addition to the two-hole, and Jim Thome makes that a very formidable bench. And you already have Denard Span leading off, and Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel in the middle of the order. But Nathan or not, I’m not a big fan of that rotation composed of basically a bunch of No. 3 and 4 starters. There simply is no legitimate top-of-the-rotation guy among Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Carl Pavano or Nick Blackburn. Perhaps Francisco Liriano can capture some of that old magic, but that remains to be seen. So does this team. 
ozzie-guillen-choke.jpg
Tigers: The Tigers waited until the start of Spring Training to acquire the services of Johnny Damon. But boy do they need him. I didn’t see any way they can go into the season with youngsters Austin Jackson and Scott Sizemore and still expect to compete in the division. But they’re right up there now, and they have as good a shot to win it as the Twins or White Sox do. Miguel Cabrera is always a force in the middle of the order, and the talk of camp has been how good Magglio Ordonez has looked thus far. The guy who needs to produce is Carlos Guillen, who went into Thursday batting just .236 this spring and hit just .242 with 11 homers in 81 games in 2009. Pitching wise, Justin Verlander is one of the top arms in the game, and Rick Porcello is close to being that, too. But they’ll feel the loss of Edwin Jackson, as three question marks, as Max Scherzer, Jeremy Bonderman and Dontrelle Willis bring their fair share of questions to the rest of that starting staff. In the bullpen, Jose Valverde was a nice addition, and there are some other nice pieces that make it a formidable bunch. All in all, I think the Tigers did pretty well this offseason considering they expected a fire sale with the economic climate Detroit currently faces. 

White Sox: I really don’t know what to make of this group, to be honest. I have no real read. I’m sure cooky manager Ozzie Guillen has something to do with that. But it has more to do with the uncertainty of some of their most important players. Guys like Alex Rios, Jake Peavy, J.J. Putz, Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones. With those guys, you could strike gold or come away with coal. That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if this team loses 100 or wins 100. They’re that much of an enigma. That starting rotation has a chance to be great with Mark Buerhle and Peavy at the top. But Peavy was limited to 20 innings last year after Tommy John surgery. The lineup could be great, but Rios, Jones and Pierre will have to produce in order to complement Carlos Quentin, Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez. Who knows if that’s going to happen? And the bullpen could be solid, but that could hinge on a bounce-back year from Putz as the bridge to Bobby Jenks. South Siders = Big Mystery. 

Indians: Just like when he took over as the Nationals’ skipper in 2007, it’s going to be a trying first year in Cleveland for new manager Manny Acta. Frankly, the Indians are just not a contender yet. But Acta will at least have some nice pieces to work with. Keep your eyes on speedy left fielder Michael Brantley and power-hitting first baseman Matt LaPorta. (Not just because he’s a former Gator; though that’s reason enough, right?) Also, right fielder Shin-Soo Choo — he of a .300 batting average, .394 on-base percentage and 20 homers last year — is one of the more underrated players in baseball. And the big boys, Grady Sizemore, Jake Westbrook, Travis Hafner and Fausto Carmona have looked good this spring. Besides Westbrook and Carmona, though, there isn’t much else in that rotation, and Kerry Wood – probably out for the first two months of the season — can’t really be counted on to close games out. So, the Indians are still a ways away. But they’ll be exciting to see offensively. 

Royals: Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke joins a team heading into the 2010 season with … well, not much else. That rotation is up in the air after Greinke, as Gil Meche, Kyle Davies and Brian Bannister were all shut down late last season with shoulder fatigue. One look at this roster, and you’d swear you’re gazing at the recycling bin sitting on the side of your house. Rick Ankiel, Scott Podsednik and Jason Kendall were the big offseason additions for the Royals, so we’re using the term “big” loosely here. Perhaps what’s most important, though, is for Alex Gordon — Kansas City’s No. 2 overall Draft pick in ’05 — to finally realize his potential. Since they won’t compete, watch for the Royals’ future in Gordon, right-hander Aaron Crow and lefty Noel Arguelles.  

AL Central champion: White Sox

– Alden Gonzalez
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 128 other followers