Sunday, June 05, 2005

NL VORP masters

Once thing I notice looking at all these National Leaguers is that the NL has much better players at the traditional "hitting" positions like first base and the corner outfield positions, while the AL has more stars up the middle. Even with that star advantage, the NL seems to be deeper than the AL, particularly at second base. This may have some deep meaning. Unfortunately, I have no idea what that might be. On we go...

C Ramon Hernandez, SD: .295/.333/.456/6 HR/31 RBI
Hernandez has quietly become one of the better-hitting catchers in baseball over the past few years. He never had a loud breakout year like Johnny Estrada or Victor Martinez, and never received much press. But while those players have regressed this year, Hernandez keeps on trucking. Doesn't hurt that he's been above-average defensively for his entire career either.

1B Derrek Lee, CHC: .380/.475/.710/17 HR/51 RBI
What a ridiculous line. It's a line that has belonged to Barry Bonds at various points during this decade, and a line that has obscured the immaculate hitting of Albert Pujols. Unlike Barry, we have no idea if Lee can actually keep this up. As it is, he is by far been the best player in the major leagues in 2005. Though the batting average will probably come down, he will probably end up leading in homers and ribbies.

2B Craig Counsell, ARI: .312/.425./.455/3 HR/20 RBI
Craig freakin Counsell? He was supposed to be one of those guys who drained runs out of the D-Back lineup. Instead, he could be the reason why they're doing so well. Getting on base at .425 in front of those big boppers ain't too shabby. Mark Grudzielanek in St. Louis has been another big surprise, putting up a .325/.364/.464 line, making Steinbrenner wish he'd left Womack in Cardinal red.

3B David Wright, NYM: .302/.395/.516/8 HR/30 RBI
The force is strong with this one. Such good plate discipline for someone 3 months younger than I am. It only bodes well for his future. He's got Scott Rolen written all over him, at least at the plate. Has to work on the defense a bit, but that will come with time. As it is, his bat far outweighs his glove deficit.

SS Clint Barmes, COL: .332/.374/.509/7 HR/33 RBI
He's cooled off a bit since April, but the hits are still dropping in at a pretty high rate. Of more concern are the 10 walks versus 22 strikeouts, meaning he might start sliding down the charts a bit. One of the only bright spots in Cincinnati's season has been the emergence of Felipe Lopez as heir to the throne of Barry Larkin. Lopez trails only Miguel Tejada in SLG for shortstops in the major leagues, and would surely lead this category had he been starting all season. If he keeps this up, this could prove to be one of Jim Bowden's best moves.

LF Miguel Cabrera, FLA: .354/.405/.591/10 HR/35 RBI
The other Miggie is at the top of an impressive list of NL left fielders, forming an impressive triumvirate with Jason Bay and Adam Dunn. Cabrera is the most well-rounded of all these players, and has shown it so far this season. He doesn't draw as many walks, but makes up for that with his sheer hitting ability, banging out singles where many other batters would strike out. And yes, he's only 22 as well. The Marlins look to be in good hands for a while.

CF Brady Clark, MIL: .338/.402/.470/6 HR/24 RBI
Clark always clamored for more playing time in Cincinnati, and he's showing they would've been better off keeping him and not trading for Junior. Well, not quite, but he's certainly one of the most cost-effective players in the majors so far. A perfect fit for Milwaukee. Too bad for them he's 32 and won't likely repeat this success again. His position says more about Jim Edmonds and Carlos Beltran dropping off than anything else.

RF Bobby Abreu, PHI: .335/.462/.600/14 HR/41 RBI
What a phenomenally good player. He's playing the way everyone thought Beltran would play, except Abreu's been doing this his whole career. The Phils have very quietly pulled to within 1 game of first, and Abreu deserves much of the credit. If not for Lee's otherworldly year, Abreu would be my MVP. Of course, what's impressive about Abreu is that we expected this of him.

Starting Pitchers

1. Roger Clemens, HOU
3-3/1.30 ERA/76 K/20 BB

The legend continues. Today's result isn't in this statline (the ERA goes up, but he gets another win), but my word, what a line that is. The Yankees had better hope he can pitch that well in the Bronx.

2. Dontrelle Willis, FLA
9-2/1.85 ERA/60 K/18 BB

The D-Train keeps chugging. The big question is whether he's build the stamina to avoid a collapse similar to his rookie season. The guess here is that he will make it through the whole season this time, but expect the ERA to go up to around 3.50. His big improvement this year has been reducing the number of home runs allowed.

3. Brett Myers, PHI
5-3/2.24 ERA/82 K/21 BB

Where would the Phillies be without this guy? Like Willis, he's got to show he can do it for an entire season. If he can make it and lead Philly to the playoffs, he has the potential to do something like Josh Beckett in '03; that's how good his stuff is.

4. Jake Peavy, SD
5-0/2.37 ERA/78 K/13 BB

That is one sexy K:BB ratio. Didn't get as much press as Ben Sheets last year, but he'll wind up being better. If he stays with the Padres and keeps pitching in that park, his career ERA is gonna take a nosedive toward 3.00.

5. Pedro Martinez, NYM
6-1/2.62 ERA/92 K/12 BB

*Cough cough* Did I say Peavy's K:BB was sexy? Pedro should be illegal. Not fit for human consumption. The only reason he's given up any runs at all has been his tendency to allow the odd homer or 6. That's about the only thing separating him from his glory years in Boston.

Relief Pitchers

1. Chad Cordero, WAS
14 SV/1.33 ERA/25 K/8 BB

This young pitcher will only get better. His walks are already way down over last year. With Washington's sometimes shaky starting staff, it's good to have a stopper of Cordero's caliber in the 'pen.

2. Jason Isringhausen, STL
17 SV/1.86 ERA/13 K/13 BB

Izzy has a pretty ugly line if you're talking baserunners, but fortunately, he's not allowed any of them to score. Zero homers allowed may be the best number of all. Still, the Cardinals had better hope he stops walking that tightrope before the playoffs start.

3. Trevor Hoffman, SD
16 SV/2.89 ERA/19 K/2 BB

Two walks...what a beautiful sight to behold for Padres fans. Hoffman continues to make his case as the best closer of his generation. It's a case he'll never win, thanks to Rivera's postseason heroics in New York, but Hoffman can at least lay claim to the National League. If he can stay healthy over the next couple seasons, he will make a push for Lee Smith's all-time saves record.

The quality of pitchers is striking in the NL. Obviously, NL pitchers will always put up better ERA numbers, but looking at the K:BB rates between the top 5 in the NL and AL, you can really see that there's a gap. There's also something poetic about three rising star pitchers like Willis, Myers, and Peavy being bookended by two of the ten greatest pitchers ever, Clemens and Pedro.

Now a quick look at the All Ignominy Team, NL edition:

C: J.D. Closser, COL
1B: Mike Lamb, HOU
2B: Jamey Carroll, WAS
3B: Mike Lowell, FLA (wha happened?)
SS: Cristian Guzman, WAS (GOLD STAR WINNER: worst player in NL!)
LF: Brian Jordan, ATL
CF: Marquis Grissom, SF
RF: Raul Mondesi, ATL

1. Eric Milton, CIN
2. Joe Kennedy, COL
3. Paul Wilson, CIN
4. Jamey Wright, COL
5. Oliver Perez, PIT (wha happened?)

1. Byung-Hyun Kim, COL
2. Dan Kolb, ATL
3. Dea-Sung Koo, NYM


Anonymous Dan said...

Man, remember when Byung Hyun Kim was good? A long, long time ago...

2:32 PM  

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