Potential Hall of Famers

 

 

While I was watching the All-Star game, I was thinking about how many potential Hall of Famers were on both rosters. Now I did not want to get crazy with making outrageous predictions about players who have only been in the league for 2 years so I decided to look at players with at least 5 years of MLB experience. I chose 5 years because Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are two players that I believe could become Hall of Famers and have been in the league for 5 years. So let’s take a look.

  1. David Ortiz: .286/.380/.552                   WAR: 54                               525 Home Runs

The 2016 All-Star game was another part of the David Ortiz farewell tour. The announcers were talking about David Ortiz in the same sentence as Derek Jeter and Mario Rivera as ambassadors of the game. If Ortiz would become a Hall of Famer, he would become the first designated hitter to be elected into the Hall of Fame.  With Big Papi’s regular season numbers and his clutch performances in the playoffs, Ortiz really should be a lock for the Hall of Fame. His 3 World Series titles and 500+ home runs is a hell of a career. Ortiz’s name has come up with steroids so it will be interesting to see how the voters vote for Ortiz in 5 years.

 

  1. Mike Trout: .306/.400/.560                   WAR: 43.6                           2014 MVP

Mike Trout is one of those once in a generation type of players and it is a shame that he plays on the West Coast. If Trout was on the East Coast, he would be one of the most talked about athletes in professional sports. Trout already has an MVP but what is remarkable is in his other 3 full MLB seasons, he was runner up for MVP. The average WAR of a Center Field Hall of Famer is 71.1 and Trout is already over half of the way there and he is only 24. As long as Mr. Trout can stay healthy, he will be a lock for the Hall of Fame.

 

  1. Bryce Harper: .284/.386/.514                   WAR:21.7                            2015 MVP

Harper’s career is off to a great start and he is still only 23.  He was one of those prospects that had outrageous projections and he is actually living up to be a superstar in the big leagues. His MVP last season will not be his last MVP he wins in his career. Trout is a 5 tool player and already has 116 career Home Runs. The average WAR of a Right Field Hall of Famer is 73.2 and Harper is well on his way towards adding his name to the list. Harper will be one of the faces of baseball for the next decade.

 

  1. Buster Posey: .309/.374/.483                   WAR: 31.6                           2012 MVP

In Posey’s first 8 seasons in the big leagues, he is a 3-time World Series champion. Posey is one of those glue guys that seems to hold everything together for a team. He is a fantastic player but he has the intangibles that can turn a good team into a great team. The average WAR of a Hall of Fame catcher is 52.7 and Posey’s career War right now is 31.6. By the time Posey’s career is over, he could be one of the most decorated catchers in MLB history.

 

  1. Jose Altuve: .309/.352/.429                   WAR: 18.4                           949 Hits

The 5’6” second baseman out of Venezuela has turned into one of the best players in all of baseball. Altuve is in his 6th big league season and he seems to get better every season. He has always been one of best average hitters in baseball but he continues to develop power as he is one shy of his career high in home runs at the All-Star break (14). Altuve is only 26 years-old and is only 51 hits shy of 1,000. He is almost a lock for 200+ hits every year and he could be a guy that could chase 3,000 hits towards the end of his career. The average career WAR of a Hall of Fame second baseman is 69.3 and Altuve is almost a third of the way there.

 

  1. Miguel Cabrera: .320/.398/.560                   WAR: 67                               2012-2013 MVP

Miggy could go down as a top 10 right-handed hitter of all-time. He is one of the rare hitters today that can hit for both average and power. In a few seasons, he will try to join both the 500 home run (426) and the 3,000 hit club (2429). His back-to-back MVP seasons were remarkable as he became the first player to hit for the Triple Crown since 1967. The average WAR of a Hall of Fame first baseman is 65.9 and Cabrera has already surpassed that total. Miggy is a lock for Cooperstown.

 

  1. Robinson Cano: .308/.356/.497                   WAR: 59.7                           2129 Hits

At the end of Cano’s career, he could go down as one of the greatest second baseman of all-time. Heading into the break, Cano has 2129 hits and could hit the 3,000 hit mark within the next 5 seasons. Cano did not put up typical Cano-like numbers in his first two seasons in Seattle but has really put together a good first half in the 2016 season. Despite leaving Yankee Stadium where he could have broken records as a second baseman, Cano is only 117 home runs behind Jeff Kent from being the best power-hitting second baseman of all-time. Right now, his WAR would suggest that Cano is already in the Hall of Fame discussion but he has plenty of time to improve his resume.

  1. Carlos Beltran: .281/.354/.492                   WAR: 69.5                           411 Home Runs

Beltran’s Hall of Fame case is an interesting one because I could see both cases being made for Beltran. Some fans would make the case that if he doesn’t get 3,000 hits or 500 home runs, he will come up just short. But Beltran was a top 5 outfielder in baseball from 2001-2008. I am not a huge fan of the advanced metrics of baseball but I think Beltran is a case where they really make sense. His WAR puts him in the discussion because his WAR is better than some members in Cooperstown. His JAWS is 56.9, which puts him right around the average of Hall of Fame center fielders. Beltran could continue to play a year or two to improve his Hall of Fame numbers but in my opinion, he deserves a spot in Cooperstown.

  1. Clayton Kershaw: 125-58, 2.39 ERA               WAR: 51.9                           2014 MVP

There is no question that Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball and I believe he is the best pitcher we have seen since Pedro Martinez. It seems like every year he gets better and he is still only 28 years-old. His 3 CY awards puts him with some of the all-time greats like Koufax, Maddux, Seaver, and Palmer. Anytime you are mentioned with that company, you are doing something right. The only thing that is missing from Kershaw’s resume is the postseason success. He is 2-6 with a 4.59 ERA in the postseason but I think it is just a matter of time before regular season Kershaw shows up in the playoffs. If Kershaw never pitched again in the big leagues, he would be a Hall of Famer in my book.

  1. Cole Hamels: 130-93, 3.31 ERA               WAR: 47.6                                           2009 WS MVP

Hamels has had a fantastic career and has been an ace for the majority of his career. He has been a reliable pitcher as he throws 200+ innings almost every season. The case for Hamels to be a future Hall of Famer is the longevity of his success and his WS MVP in 2008. But his highest finish in the CY award was 5th. I believe a Hall of Fame pitcher should have a few years where he dominates and has at least 1 CY award. Hamels is still a really good pitcher and has time to improve his resume.

  1. Jon Lester 136-83, 3.52 ERA               WAR: 37.6           2-time World Series Champion

Lester is in a very similar situation as Hamels. Like Hamels, Lester has been a reliable pitcher who has thrown 200+ innings all but once since he has become a regular starter in the big leagues. His numbers are solid but they are not dominating numbers like a guy like Kershaw. What Lester does have is consistent numbers over a 9 year period and he has postseason success. He played huge role in his second World Series title as he threw 15 innings in the World Series and was 2-0 and only gave up 1 run.  Lester will need to put together 4-5 solid seasons to be in the discussion as a Hall of Famer.

  1. Madison Bumgarner 95-62, 2.93 ERA                 WAR: 24.3           3-time World Series Champion

Bumgarner is right up there with Clayton Kershaw as the top left-hander in baseball. Bumgarner seems to be getting better each season and heading into the break has a 1.94 ERA in 19 starts. What makes Bumgarner so special is his dominance in the postseason. The Giants win the World Series every two years and he gets a lot of opportunities to shine when the lights shine the brightest. His career numbers in the playoffs are 7-3 with a 2.14 ERA but he went 2-0 with 21 innings pitched and 1 earned run in the 2014 World Series. My only concern with Bumgarner is what will his stuff be like in 5 year? His arm slot is very strange and his velocity is already starting to decline. But right now, Bumgarner’s career is off to a great start.

One of the reasons I love the midsummer classic so much is due to the fact that I get the opportunity to watch the game’s best players on the same field. The 2016 All-Star was a treat to watch with many special players.

Recapping the 1st Half

 

July 4th weekend marks the halfway point in the season and I wanted to look at the top stories of the first half and going into the second half and reveal my first half awards.

  1. The division races are not close. The American League East is the only division that is separated by less than 5 games. Two division already see the leaders with at least an 8 game lead. I believe the second half will see two more races become close like the A.L East. I would be surprised if the American League East did not come down to the final week of the season because every team in the division has a serious flaw. Right now the Nationals have a 5.5 game lead in the National League East but both the Nationals and the Mets have been streaky this season. The Mets have a dynamic pitching rotation that has not quite clicked this season and are due to make a run. The other division that I think is still up for grabs is the American League Central. The Indians used a 14 game win streak to propel themselves into first place but Detroit and Kansas City are still in striking range to make a push at the division.
  2. Clayton Kershaw’s health. This week Kershaw went on the disabled list with a herniated disk in his back and will likely be out until after the all-star break. Kershaw may be the most valuable player in all of baseball. When he pitches, the Dodgers are 14-2. When he is sitting in the dugout, the Dodgers are 33-35. I do not like their rotation besides Kershaw. Kenta Maeda has had a strong first half with a 2.82 ERA but the more games he pitches, the more scouting reports teams can build against him. In my opinion, their rotation is full of 4 and 5 starters. If Kershaw is not healthy in the second half, the Dodgers could easily find themselves out of the wild card race.
  3. The trade deadline will be interesting. This year there are so many teams that are already out of contention. That means that there could be more teams that are willing to trade some of their trade chips than most seasons. There will not be any aces on the trade deadline but guys like Rich Hill, Julio Tehran, and Sunny Gray could help some rotations if teams are willing to part with prospects. A lot of chips will depend on the New York Yankees and if they decide to become sellers at the deadline. Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman could help bolster some bullpens like the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers. Some hitters that could be dealt are Melvin Upton, Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy, and Carlos Beltran. I also think the Minnesota Twins would be smart to listen to offers on Eduardo Nunez. Nunez is having a huge season and is hitting .322/.348/.491 with 11 home runs and 18 stolen bases. The Twins are having a disappointing season and should be trying to restock for the next few seasons.
  4. 1st half Award Winners:

 

A.L. ROY: Nomar Mazara: .287/.337/.433

A.L. CY: Chris Sale: 14-2, 2.93 ERA, 8.9 K/9

A.L. MVP: Jose Altuve:

N.L. ROY: Corey Seager: .303/.362/.536

N.L CY: Clayton Kershaw: 11-2, 1.79 ERA, 10.8 K/9

N.L MVP: Kris Bryant: .277/.367/.564, 23 HR

 

In my pre-season picks, I took the Giants over the Rangers in the World Series. I feel pretty confident about that pick at the midway point in the season.

The PED Problem

 

 

It’s hard to believe that another 2015 breakout performer is being suspended for taking an illegal substance as Dee Gordon has been suspended for the next 80 games. He will also be ineligible for the post-season if the Marlins were to get there. Gordon won the N.L. batting title last season (.333). Earlier this month, Toronto’s Chris Colabello got caught as well.

I feel absolutely zero sympathy for these guys as they are responsible for what they put into their bodies. I don’t know if Gordon will deny it but Colabello continues to deny taking an illegal substance. Whether or not they took something knowingly or not, they are still responsible. These two reports are proving that the MLB drug testing program is no joke. Players are not going to get away with cheating.

This is an unfortunate event in two ways. The first is Gordon is one of the most exciting players in the game. His speed is a lost element in today’s game and he has been fun to watch develop over that past few years. The game needs more players like Gordon, not the cheater. The second way this is unfortunate for baseball is cheaters are being rewarded. In the offseason, Gordon signed a 5 yr / 50 million dollar deal through 2020. This suspension will only cost Gordon about 3 percent of his contract, which comes out to like 2 million dollars. Gordon is an example of a guy who benefited from taking steroids. He will never have to worry about money again. Ryan Braun is another name that comes to mind that got a huge contact after taking steroids. I do not know what can be done in the future but it is not right for these players who get caught using steroids and are able to keep their large contracts. Being a baseball player myself, I would never take steroids because I have too much respect for the game. But if a player knows he has a chance to make millions of dollars and he may get caught and have to sit out 80 games, that does not sound so bad to me.

Baseball has made great strides in their drug testing program but I think they can continue to improve it, especially with harsher penalties.

Who are the Yankees?



Since I have been following baseball, the Yankees have always been the most aggressive team when it comes to signing free agents. The price of the player or the total salary of the team was never a thought. The only thing that mattered was winning. Players like C.C. Sabathia, Mark Texiera, and Alex Rodriguez all took top dollar to play for the Yankees. The 2013 offseason saw the Yankees act like the Yankees of old with Steinbrenner at the helm. They signed Jacoby Ellsbury (7/153), Masahiro Tanaka (7/155), Brian McCann (5/85), and Carlos Beltran (3/45). Despite all of these signings, the Yankees missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season. I know baseball has change a little with teams worrying about having to pay the Luxury Tax, but this is the New York Yankees we are talking about. 

Many thought with a lot of big names hitting the free agent market, the Yankees would be aggressive. Names like Scherzer, Lester, Shields, Sandoval, and Ramirez (who could have replaced Jeter) all signed with different teams including their rival Boston. On Monday, the Red Sox signed Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada to a 31.5 million dollar signing bonus. Many believed the Yankees were the favorite to sign Moncada but supposedly the Yankees would not go higher than 27 million. Giving the lack of top prospects in the Yankees farm system, it was surprising to see the Yankees not get more aggressive for a player who many scouts believe has star potential. 

Heading into 2015, the Yankees have many questions marks regarding their roster. Will the Yanks regret not getting one of the big name free agents that could have helped bolster their staff or lineup? Have times changed in New York?

Boston Red Sox Preview

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be looking at each team and their biggest offseason move, their biggest question heading into the season, their prospect to watch, and their 2015 outlook. I will be starting in the American League East and because I am a Sox fan, I will start with them.

Boston Red Sox

Biggest Off-Season Move: Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez

I could not pick just one of these players because both were signed to fix the offensive woes that the Red Sox faced in 2014. In the 2013 season, the Red Sox lead the American League in runs scored with 853. In 2014, they finished in the bottom half of the American League with 634 runs. 200 + runs are a big difference and one of the reasons why the Red Sox finished in last place in the A.L. East.  One way to fix the 2014 offensive struggles is to go out and sign the two best free agent bats and that is exactly what Boston did. Sandoval, .279/.324/.415, is a consistent hitter that the Red Sox are looking for despite the fact that he appears to be a couple of pounds overweight. It will be interesting to see how Sandoval’s aggressive approach fits in with Boston’s approach to drive the opposing pitcher’s pitch count up. An argument could be made that when Hanley Ramirez is healthy and on the field, he is one of the most valuable players in the league. In 86 games in 2013 he was in MVP conversations and in 128 games last year he produced .283/.369/.448. The big question for Hanley is health but if healthy he could have a big year in his return to Fenway Park.

Biggest Question: Starting Pitching

When the Red Sox lost Jon Lester to the Cubs, there was a big gap to be filled. Did the Red Sox do enough to bolster their rotation? Adding Porcello could be huge because his ERA has dropped in each of his last five seasons, 3.43 in 2014. The Red Sox added two more pitchers in Justin Masterson and Wade Miley and both had solid 2013 seasons but subpar 2014 campaigns. Masterson had a 3.45 ERA in 29 starts in 2013 but pitched through injuries last year and his ERA showed at 5.88. Miley is moving to the American League East which can be difficult for pitchers to do. In 2013, he had a 3.55 ERA but last season he saw his ERA climb to 4.34. The biggest question mark for this rotation is Clay Buchholz. Buchholz has shown that he can be a top of the rotation pitcher but he has struggled at times where he doesn’t look like he could get outs in AA. Boston appears to be going into Spring Training content with their rotation but a move for Cole Hamels could be made if things do not go as planned.

Prospect to Watch: Rusney Castillo

I know a lot of Boston writers would pick Blake Swihart as their prospect to watch but I am very interested to see Castillo for a full 162 game season. In only 36 games, he produced .333/.400/.528. His unique skill set of speed and power could be a huge part of the Red Sox’s offense this season. One concern for every young player is if he can produce for an entire season and if he can make adjustments once pitchers make an adjustment on him. There is no question Castillo has the tools to be successful but can he produce at the major league level in the city of Boston at a high level is still a question that must be answered.

2015 Outlook:

There is no question that the 2015 Boston team will have a better season than the 2014 team but there are a lot of pieces that have to fall into place for this team to compete for a division title. The offense will be much improved from last season but Pedroia will need to stay healthy and Ortiz is entering his age 39 season. The starting pitching is definitely a cause for concern and I do feel a move must be made if this team has expectations of making the postseason. If all the pieces fall in place, this team can compete for the division but I see this team competing for a Wild Card spot rather than a division title with the roster they have right now.

Some are Late Bloomers

 

 

It seems like when starting pitching prospects get called up to the big leagues, they are expected to be successful almost immediately upon their arrival no matter how young they are. If they don’t figure it out within two or three years, organizations often lock them in their farm system until they figure it out or look to trade them. Not every pitching prospect has the make up to be a starter in the big leagues, whether it is repeating mechanics for 7 innings, or the ability to navigate through the opponent’s lineup more than twice without becoming predictable. Relievers Andrew Miller and Wade Davis are prime examples of being top starting pitching prospects but taking more than a couple of years to figure things out at the big league level.

Andrew Miller has figured it out as a reliever for the Boston red sox but it has not been an easy road for the former 6th overall pick in the 2006 draft. The Tigers drafted the former North Carolina Tar Heel with the hope of finding a dominant starter for years in the big leagues and it didn’t work out and was traded to Florida in the Miguel Cabrera deal. Unfortunately for Miller, he did not see any success in Florida as his lowest era in his 3 years in Florida was 4.84. The Red Sox acquired Miller in 2010 for pitcher Dustin Richardson, turning out to be a great deal. In 2011, Miller was starting with the Sox and went 6-3 with 5.54 ERA and a 5.68 walk rate.  I remember Miller would have innings where he could dominate and then innings where he couldn’t find the strike zone. For Miller, it all came down to the ability to repeat a herky jerky motion, something that if you watch miller pitch is difficult for him to do. 2012 was Miller’s first time relieving and made 53 appearances with a 3.35 ERA and a walk rate of 4.46. The results were starting to show and now Miller is one of the best left handed relievers in baseball. Not only do lefties struggle against him (.161 avg.) but righties struggle just as much (.181 avg.). In 45 appearances this season, Miller has a 2.13 ERA and has a 14.45 strikeout percentage but only a 2.84 walk percentage. Miller isn’t that front end starter that many believed he could have been but the Red Sox took a gamble on him and the gamble has paid off.

Wade Davis is another pitcher who took a few extra years and a change of scenery to figure it out at the big league level. Davis was selected to his first all-star team this season and has become one of baseball’s best setup men. Davis broke into the big leagues with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2004 as a 3rd round draft pick. He made his debut 5 years later and made 6 starts in 2009. In those 6 starts, he had a 3.72 ERA to put him in 4th place in the ROY voting. Davis saw his ERA jump each of the next 3 years as a starter and in 2013, he had a 5.32 Earned Run Average. Davis was a part of the Will Myers and James Shields trade and the Royals tried him as a starter in 2013 but saw him really struggle over the course of the season. This season the Royals moved him to the pen and the move helped his velocity jump up to 97-99 and his strikeout percentage went from 7.58 in 2013 to 13.72 this season to go along with his 1.11 ERA. Davis is 7th in the big leagues in holds with 17, which sometimes those setup men have tougher tasks than the closers depending on who they face in the order. The move to Kansas City played an important role in the transformation of Wade Davis but moving to the bullpen has made him a valuable pitcher.

There will always be those top pitching prospects that don’t turn out to be the pitchers that everyone predicted they would be but there are also a handful of young pitchers that may take more time to learn how to be successful in the big leagues. Not every pitcher has the makeup to be successful as a starter but sometime it takes a few rough years to figure out where they are most valuable. Andrew Miller and Wade Davis are two recent examples of pitchers who took a few extra years to discover themselves and have turned out to be outstanding relievers. Teams may want to look at these 2 pitchers as examples of what young prospects can become even if they do not succeed as starter.

Red Sox Finally Sign Drew.

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Yesterday, the Boston Red Sox decided to sign last year’s shortstop Stephen Drew to a 1 yr / 10 M dollar deal. The Red Sox have not been solid defensively and have not gotten any production from the third base spot, which I would assume Xander Bogaerts would take over once Stephen Drew is ready.

The Sox decided that Stephen Drew was not worth the long term contract in the offseason as they offered him a qualiftying offer that they knew he would not accept. The Red Sox were fine with letting Drew go because they felt that Bogaerts was ready for shortstop and they would receive a compensation pick from the team that signed him. It was clear that once Spring Training started and Drew was still without an employer, that he would not sign until after the 2014 MLB Draft so that the team who signs him will not lose a draft pick.

Things have not gone as expected in Boston through the first 44 games as the team has struggled offensively and defensively. In Bogaerts first full season in the big leagues and first season at shortstop, his fielding percentage is 22nd among shortstops in the big leagues. If you are a Sox fan like I am, you have noticed that his range seems limited as he cannot get to a lot of balls to his glove side. Looking at last season, Stephen Drew had the 3rd best fielding percentage among shortstops and was a vacuum at shortstop in the postseason.

The most surprising aspect of this year’s Red Sox has been their offense. Last season, the Red Sox had baseball’s best offense as they led of all baseball with 853 runs. This season, they rank just 16th in runs scored. The Sox have been dreadful against RHP this season hitting .242 as a team. Last season, Drew hit .284 against RHP with a .377 OBP. A big factor in the decision to sign Drew was the production from Will Middlebrooks. Middlebrooks had a solid rookie season but has not been able to find his swing in the past two seasons and is hitting .197 with 23 strikeouts in 71 at-bats. Middlebrooks is also on the DL for the second time this season and the Sox cannot afford going another 15 games with back-ups at third base. The one-year deal with Drew does not mean that the Sox are giving up on Middlebrooks and Bogaerts as a MLB shortstop but with the Sox on their first 5 game losing streak since 2012, something had to be done.

Stephen Drew will be placed on the Red Sox 40 man roster today and will go to AAA Pawtucket to get a couple of games before joining the big league team. It could be 7-10 days until Drew is ready but if the Sox continue to struggle, look for Drew to be forced into action.

 

Other Sox Notes:

Felix Doubront left Tuesday’s start with should fatigue and could land on the disabled list. Doubront has struggled this season as he is 2-4 with a 5.12 ERA. The Red Sox have a plethora of young arms in their minor league system and I expect Allen Webster or Ruby De La Rosa to get the nod for Sunday’s start.