Tag:David Wright
Posted on: January 7, 2012 12:10 am
 

Under-30 players building Hall of Fame foundation



By Matt Snyder


T-minus two days until the Hall of Fame vote for the 2012 induction is unveiled, so we'll continue talking about the Hall of Fame in this relatively slow time of the year. This time around, we'll take a look at active players younger than 30 who have laid a foundation that makes a run to Cooperstown possible.

Now, make no mistake about it, none of these players are close to having completed their big-league careers nor are they currently close to being locks to the Hall of Fame. Still, some are well on their way and others have started a journey that may push them into the discussion in a decade or so.

Obviously things could change in just one season -- just take a look below at a certain catcher from Minnesota. Or think about how good it looked for Grady Sizemore three years ago at this time before injuries completely derailed him. And we have to understand that just a few seasons of being an elite player doesn't necessarily mean the longevity will be there -- take the cases of Fernando Valenzuela and Dwight Gooden, for example. For various reasons, careers can get off track. Still, it's fun to take a look at which young players have built a possible Hall-of-Fame foundation.

By no means is this an exhaustive list, but here are 20 under-30 guys who could be on the right track, in alphabetical order (age in parentheses):

Hall of Fame coverage
Miguel Cabrera (28) - The first name we list might well be the most impressive case on here. In eight full seasons (he appeared in 87 games as a rookie) Cabrera has been an All-Star six times and finished in the top five of MVP voting five times. He's hit .317/.395/.555, which is good for a 149 OPS-plus. Saying Cabrera is just about halfway through his career is probably reasonable and he already has 277 homers and 984 RBI.

Robinson Cano (29) - He wouldn't have appeared on this list until the past two seasons, but Cano has grown into one of the more dangerous hitters in baseball. He'd need to continue this pace for another six to eight years at least before being a Hall candidate, though.

Prince Fielder (27) - Six full seasons -- with 39 games in '05 -- have yielded 230 homers and 656 RBI. Fielder also has an impressive .390 on-base percentage and a whopping .929 OPS (143 OPS-plus). He's already finished in the top four of MVP voting three times. Can his robust body hold up long-term? If it does, he's probably headed to Cooperstown. Baseball-Reference.com's top similar statistical player through age 27 is Hall of Famer Eddie Murray.

Adrian Gonzalez (29) - Did he get started too late? Gonzalez didn't become a full-timer until '06 and wasn't a dominant force until '09. Still, four All-Star Games, three Gold Gloves and two Top 10 finishes in MVP voting. He also has a career .889 OPS (140 OPS-plus) and over 1,100 hits already.

Felix Hernandez (25) - We've seen so many pitchers flame out over the years after huge starts -- I mentioned two in the intro -- but King Felix basically only needs to stay healthy and keep his head on straight. He's already 85-67 with a 3.24 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 1,264 strikeouts. He has one Cy Young and also finished second once. And he could conceivably pitch 15 more seasons. Even conservatively -- assuming health -- you have to say he has 12 more in him.

Matt Kemp (27) - After a runner-up finish in MVP voting this past season, Kemp inked a huge contract with the Dodgers. He could be the face of the franchise for a decade. The power-speed combo (128 HR, 144 steals) along with a Gold Glove shows he can do it all.

Clayton Kershaw (23) - He went 21-5 with a 2.28 ERA, 248 strikeouts, an All-Star appearance and a Cy Young award last season. At 23. Enough said.

Tim Lincecum (27) - Two Cy Youngs, four All-Star appearances and a World Series ring so far. Not too shabby. Like Hernandez, Kershaw and all other great young pitchers, health and avoiding major off-field trouble are the biggest roadblocks. But there is serious foundation and talent here. I wouldn't bet against Lincecum. 

Evan Longoria (26) - He's going to be the face of the Rays for a long time and his arrival coincided with them shedding the laughingstock label. The 2008 AL Rookie of the Year has three All-Star appearances, two Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger. His 136 OPS-plus bodes well. But his average dropped 50 points last season. Harbinger or aberration? I'd guess the latter.

Joe Mauer (28) - Would've seemed a lot more firm here last year at this time. The disaster of a season doesn't erase the amazing good Mauer did through the first six-plus seasons in his career, but it raises health questions moving forward. His bat means a whole lot less if he's playing first base instead of catching.

Andrew McCutchen (25) - He already has 95 doubles, 19 triples, 51 homers and 78 stolen bases. He has an .822 OPS (123 OPS-plus). What if he gets even better and is the driving force behind a complete Pirates turnaround?

Dustin Pedroia (28) - The 2007 Rookie of the Year followed up that act with a 2008 MVP. He's hitting .305/.373/.463 in his six-year career, while he's also won a World Series ring, two Gold Gloves and been to the All-Star Game three times.

Hanley Ramirez (28) - He would've been one of the best bets two years ago, but he's now mired in a two-year decline. Goes to show how quickly things can change. Of course, there's plenty of time to get back to 2007-09 form.

Jose Reyes (28) - In six "full" seasons (we'll say at least 125 games played), Reyes has been among the best players in baseball. There's no questioning that. Can he stay on the diamond enough to make himself a viable Hall candidate? It doesn't look great, but the talent is there.

Troy Tulowitzki (27) - Tulowitzki brings in three straight top-eight finishes in MVP voting and is the premier defensive shortstop in the National League. He really only has four seasons worth counting toward a possible Hall induction so far, though, so he's gonna need about eight to 10 more.

Justin Upton (24) - The potential here is insane. He came in fourth in MVP voting last season and should only get better. Again, there are many ways for younger players to derail, but Upton has all the tools to one day hit Cooperstown. Consider me a believer.

Justin Verlander (28) - Yes, he's only 28. Verlander already has 107 wins, 1,215 strikeouts, four All-Star appearances (that is, he made the team, not pitched in the game), a Cy Young and, yes, an AL MVP. He was already one of the better aces in baseball, but then went into a new stratosphere last season. If that continues, he's a cinch to make the Hall. We'll see.

Joey Votto (28) - In just four full seasons, Votto has made a name for himself as a marquee slugger. He won the 2010 MVP and followed it up with a stellar 2011 campaign as well. His career .955 OPS (151 OPS-plus) is incredible and he added a Gold Glove last season, too.

Jered Weaver (29) - Weaver was quietly really good until last season, and you can now drop the "quietly." He was the All-Star Game starter and could have easily won the Cy Young Award, if Verlander didn't happen to be putting up a historic season in the same league. In six seasons, Weaver is 82-47 with a 3.31 ERA and 977 strikeouts. Considering his age, though, this is a pretty tall order. He'll need another eight years of dominance, I'd guess.

David Wright (29) - I think I would have felt pretty good about him after 2008, but he's fallen off a slight bit since then. Perhaps the change in the ballpark dimensions helps, in addition to some health -- for himself and teammates. Wright does already have five All-Star appearances and a .300/.380/.508 line with 183 homers and 151 steals.



I think my four best bets right now would be, in no particular order: Verlander, Cabrera, Hernandez and Upton. Could be a lot more, could be a lot less. All 20 of these guys have plenty of time to either build a resume or screw it up. History tells us there's no chance all 20 make the cut, and even guessing half of these guys getting to Cooperstown is a big stretch.

Feel free to add more names in the comments, as there definitely isn't a wrong answer in this department.

Coming Sunday: "Asterisk" guys with Hall-type resumes
Monday: 2012 Hall of Fame inductee(s) announced
Monday: Looking ahead at the 2013 first-year eligibles
Monday: Looking at the '14, '15 and '16 first-year eligibles

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: November 29, 2011 10:55 am
Edited on: November 29, 2011 2:01 pm
 

Homegrown Team: New York Mets



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule of this feature, click here.

Another day, another entry in our series. For this one, we'll stop over in Queens and meet the Mets. We know about Wright and Reyes, but what else is there? For one, a guy who just tied the postseason home run record. Knowing that the Mets traded him for Jorge Velandia has to be a bit painful for Mets fans (don't feel too bad, though, because the A's and Brewers gave up on Cruz, too). Anyway, let's dive in.

Lineup

1. Jose Reyes, SS
2. Daniel Murphy, 2B
3. David Wright, 3B
4. Nelson Cruz, RF
5. Ike Davis, 1B
6. Mike Carp, LF
7. Angel Pagan, CF
8. Josh Thole, C

Starting Rotation

1. Dillon Gee
2. Jonathon Niese
3. Philip Humber
4. Mike Pelfrey
5. A.J. Burnett

Bullpen

Closer - Heath Bell
Set up - Octavio Dotel, Jason Isringhausen, Matt Lindstrom, Bobby Parnell, Joe Smith, Guillermo Mota
Long - Aaron Heilman

Notable Bench Players

Drew Butera, Josh Satin, Ruben Tejada, Ty Wigginton, Lucas Duda, Fernando Martinez, Carlos Gomez and the imcomparable Wily Mo Pena. Also, Scott Kazmir is on this team. If he never left, would it have been possible that he was an upper-tier starter for years? We'll never know.

What's Good?

I like the bullpen. The bench is good, too. As a whole, one thing that stuck out to me is there aren't any really glaring holes. And assuming everyone is healthy, that's a pretty stout top four to five in the batting order. Reyes setting up for Wright and Cruz would be scary for opposing pitchers.

What's Not?

The starting rotation is a bunch of threes and fours. There's potential to better sure -- like if Burnett gets locked in for stretches -- but if we're looking at just the present, the lack of an ace would hurt as the season progressed, especially in terms of stopping modest losing streaks. The catcher and center field spots could be better as well, but, as I mentioned above, it's not like those are glaring holes. On the whole, while there aren't any real glaring holes, there's nothing that stands out as spectacular other than a healthy Reyes while Wright, Cruz and Bell are very good.

Comparison to real 2011

The real-life Mets were 77-85, and I think this bunch is a bit better than that. It's a team that would put up a winning record and maybe contend for a wild card. It's definitely not great, as the lack of an ace shows, but the weaknesses here are all pretty minor. I'm thinking mid-80s in wins with a ceiling of 90 and floor of high-70s? That sounds about right.

Next: Cincinnati Reds

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Posted on: November 9, 2011 9:58 am
 

Wright hopeful Reyes re-signs with Mets



By Matt Snyder


Admidst all the rumors on a destination for dynamic free agent shortstop Jose Reyes, Mets third baseman David Wright Tuesday evening expressed sentiment that he hopes his left-side-of-the-infield partner remains in New York.

"I know what I hope he's going to do," Wright said (MLB.com). "I don't know what he's going to do, but I know what I want him to do, and that's to be to my left next year. I've shot him a couple of texts here and there, we've kind of exchanged some messages, not really anything about baseball. I guess that's the eternal optimist side of me -- that he'll be to my left at Spring Training. You never really know. Hopefully the organization values Jose the way that maybe I do, and hopefully Jose can kind of reciprocate that, and hopefully they can work something out."

"Every day it's kind of something new, so you never know what is real and what is not," Wright continued (MLB.com). "It's probably too early to start judging which way we're going to go, which way Jose is going to go. I try not to pay too much attention to it at this moment. But with that being said, you see the kind of interest Jose is getting. You knew he was going to get it, but it finally kind of hits home. When you hear the reports of him speaking to different teams, you know that it's a possibility, that it could be real that he's not here."

The reports Wright may be referencing could include the one we passed along Tuesday morning, which was that Reyes is being heavily courted by the Marlins while the Brewers and Tigers are also in the mix. Also, Wednesday morning Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reported that he's heard the Marlins might be offering a shorter-term deal with a higher annual salary than other teams. If Reyes is confident he can stay healthy and play well, this is a better option because then he'd be a free agent again while still young enough to hit another big payday. Of course, that's the issue. If he can't stay healthy, he's not going to be in this position ever again. So it's a gamble.

Reyes, 28, is a four-time All-Star. He won the NL batting title in 2011 (.337) while leading the majors with 16 triples and adding a .384 on-base percentage, 39 steals and 101 runs. He averaged 158 games played per season in 2005-08, but has since not played more than 133 in a season due mostly to leg injuries.

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Posted on: November 6, 2011 6:44 pm
 

Wrong time for Mets to deal Wright

David Wright

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The hot stove sometimes takes a little while to warm up and the first couple of weeks of November are often more of a lukewarm stove -- and the kindling that is a David Wright rumor shouldn't stoke the flames too much.

On the surface, it's the type of rumor that should draw newspaper headlines -- the Mets "listening" to offers on Wright, the fallen star in New York. Sure, the Mets will obviously listen on offers for Wright, they'd be fools not to listen -- especially with a number of teams needing a third baseman.

The Angels, Cubs, Phillies and Rockies could all be searching for a new third baseman. So could the Brewers, Marlins and Tigers. Wright won't be 30 for another year and he already has four All-Star Games, two Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers on his mantle. There will always be a demand for a player like Wright -- especially in a free-agent market that has just one top-flight third baseman available.

The problem is, now is certainly not the time for the Mets to deal him -- listen, sure, but not pull the trigger. You don't sell low, and right now Wright is low, lower than he's ever been. He's coming off his worst offensive season of his career, hitting just .254/.345/.427 with 14 home runs and missed 58 games due to a stress fracture in his lower back. His 102 games played were the fewest since his rookie year of 2004 when he was called up after the All-Star break. Anyone taking Wright now is doing it for a steal -- and salary relief for the Mets.

A National League executive told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that Mets general manager Sandy Alderson would have to be "bowled over" to deal Wright this winter. That's unlikely to happen.

Wright will make $15 million in 2012 and the Mets have a $16 million option with a $1 million buyout for 2013. Wright can void that option if he's traded, making him little more than a rental if he's traded during the season. That would hurt his value at the deadline, but nothing like the questions surrounding his health and recent production coming off his pedestrian 2011.

Despite the talks of Wright being on the market, the Mets first move for 2012 was a giant flashing sign saying they'll keep Wright. Last week the team announced that not only will they move the walls in at Citi Field, they'll also lower them. The changes, whether the Mets will say so or not, are meant to help Wright.

In the three seasons since Citi Field opened, Wright has hit just .279/.377/.449 with an average of just more than seven home runs a season at home. At Shea Stadium. Wright hit .318/.403/.555 and averaged 29 homers per season from 2005-08, with at least half of those coming at home. The most he's hit in a season at Citi Field is 12, when he hit 29 total homers in 2010.

"You'd be lying if you said you enjoyed hitting at Citi Field," Wright told ESPNNewYork.com last week. "I don't think anybody would say they enjoyed hitting in such a pitchers' ballpark. I don't think we ever looked at the field and it intimidated us. But obviously it's frustrating at times when you hit a ball good and you don't see the results that you want to see." 

Of course it's not just Wright, Citi Field allowed just 1.43 home runs per game, the lowest in the majors over its first three years. Other Mets can benefit (notably Jason Bay), but the Mets could benefit the most from an increased offensive output from Wright. If Wright flourishes in the new park, then his stock could would be much higher than it is now. If he doesn't put up significantly better numbers, that trade value is unlikely to change from where it is now.

Wright can still be one of the premier third basemen in baseball, but right now he's a .254 hitter with 14 homers -- that with a $15 million price tag doesn't bring back elite prospects. If Wright finds the new Citi Field to his liking, he can be an impact player for the Mets -- and their future. Wright won't be a Met forever, but he should be one on opening day.

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Posted on: October 31, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 5:59 pm
 

Mets bringing in, lowering Citi Field wall



By Matt Snyder


Moving the outfield walls in to make Citi Field more hitter-friendly has been discussed pretty much since the ballpark opened and started sucking the power from the Mets' lineup. Whether it was among fans, sports talk radio or people who actual have decision-making power, the dearth of home runs has long been a subject when it comes to how Citi Field plays. And it's all about to change.

The Mets announced Monday they are moving in the walls in several areas and the new wall will be blue. Check out the graphic above, which was provided by the Mets. The blue lines are where the new walls will be, while the orange lines depict the position of the original walls.

From the press release:
The Mets will erect a new wall in leftfield starting between the New Era and Caesars signs and angled to the Citi sign in left-centerfield (see attached renderings). The new wall will be closer to home plate by approximately 4 feet in leftfield and up to approximately 12 feet in deep left-centerfield.

A new wall will start in right-centerfield and extend toward the bullpen, and be as much as approximately 11 feet closer to home plate. The fence in front of the Mo’s Zone/Modell’s Clubhouse will move in approximately 10 feet. The distances from home plate to centerfield and the foul poles in leftfield and rightfield will remain the same.

“We wanted to make Citi Field fair to both pitchers and hitters,” said Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson.

“After conferring with Sandy and all members of his staff, Ownership concurred with the recommendation to change the dimensions at Citi Field,” said Mets COO Jeff Wilpon. “We decided to change the outfield wall from black to Mets blue, which many of our fans have wanted.”

As a result of moving the walls in, the Mets will create a unique seating section in leftfield between the new and existing wall to accommodate about 100 fans. The club will also expand the Modell’s Clubhouse in rightfield to incorporate an outdoor seating area for approximately 40 additional fans.
Citi Field was last in the majors in home runs during its first three seasons with an average of 1.43 per game.

One player in particular has gotten tons of attention for his lack of power: All-Star third baseman David Wright.

Wright averaged 29 homers per year from 2005-2008. He hit just 10 home runs in 2009 and 14 last season (in just 102 games). He did hit 29 homers in 2010, but 17 of those came on the road. So he's seen a dip.

"Any time you talk to a hitter about making a park more hitter-friendly, it's a thing that we're all for," Wright said about the changes to ESPN New York. "I very briefly looked at the pictures and those dimensions and everything. It just looks, obviously, fair.

"You'd be lying if you said you enjoyed hitting at Citi Field," he added. "I don't think anybody would say they enjoyed hitting in such a pitchers' ballpark. I don't think we ever looked at the field and it intimidated us. But obviously it's frustrating at times when you hit a ball good and you don't see the results that you want to see."

It's not just Wright, though. What about Jason Bay, for example?

Since signing with the Mets as a free agent, Bay has fallen apart. He hit 36 home runs with 119 RBI and a .921 OPS for the Red Sox in 2009. For the Mets he has 18 home runs, 104 RBI and a .723 OPS in 218 games.

Obviously the move will alter the ballpark and benefit opposing hitters as well -- not to mention that there are other factors at play for the likes of Bay and Wright -- but I've got to believe this helps the psyche of the Mets' position players. It would be awfully hard to play in a park where fly balls go to die for 81 games a season. Just ask the Padres.

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Posted on: October 5, 2011 2:00 pm
 

Rockies to go hard after David Wright

WrightBy Evan Brunell

The Rockies had quite a disappointing season, missing 90 losses by one measly game and extending their postseason drought to two years. Colorado's serious about arresting its decline and ensuring that the team can contend with Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez under contract and to that end plan to be aggressive in its pursuit of third baseman David Wright of the Mets, the Denver Post writes.

Heralded prospect Ian Stewart failed spectacularly, Ty Wigginton left such a sour taste in Colorado's mouth they want to deal him even it means eating money, and Jordan Pachecho isn't anyone's idea of a viable player even if he could succeed in a platoon. None of these names are the slugging right-handed bat the club craves to protect Tulowitzki in the order and drop Todd Helton to sixth. Wright can be that man, but the Mets don't intend on dealing the face of the franchise, especially with fellow star player Jose Reyes set to hit free agency. (Read Eye on Baseball's R.I.P covering the Mets, in which it is recommended the team let Reyes walk.)

The Rockies would certainly have to give up some of their starting pitching depth in any deal with the Mets, as GM Sandy Alderson is keying in on those positions. Colorado could also theoretically ship Wigginton to New York as a temporary fill-in, and the team could also discuss top third-base prospect Nolan Arenado. If Wright is a no-go, the team could revisit a trade for the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez or San Diego's Chase Headley, whom the club attempted to get earlier in the season. The Rockies would trade away Stewart in that case, although the team is loathe to part with Stewart at the nadir of his value. Still, the club is sufficiently frustrated enough with Stewart and his lack of preparation for 2011 to be ready to move on.

"He has to make baseball his first priority from the start of the winter until the end of it," Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd said. "If he's willing to do that, we are willing to give him another opportunity."

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Posted on: October 5, 2011 12:38 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 12:48 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 New York Mets

MetsBy Evan Brunell

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: New York Mets
Record: 77-85, 4th place, 25 GB
Manager: Terry Collins
Best hitter: Jose Reyes -- .337/.384/.493, 101 R, 39 SB
Best pitcher: R.A. Dickey -- 8-13, 208 2/3 IP, 3.28 ERA, 134 K, 54 BB

2011 SEASON RECAP

Coming into the season, no one expected the Mets to contend and the team did fans a favor by starting out 11-16 and setting expectations. The club rebounded to post three straight winning months largely on the strength of Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Dickey. There was some noise in the summer months about how New York could potentially finish .500, which would have been a resounding success, but once Beltran was traded and Reyes battled hamstring problems, New York quickly fell out of the race, with a season-worst 10-16 August and by then, it was just playing the string out.

2012 AUDIT

The Mets are still a couple of years away from contending, and 2012 will be much like 2011 in that GM Sandy Alderson needs to get the team in order moving forward to win. That means wiggling out of poor contracts (looking at you, Jason Bay) or finding players who can fit in New York. The free-agent market isn't robust, so for any significant changes, the Mets will need to turn to the trade market. Don't expect them to deal any of their heralded prospects, though, as these players are the future of New York. The club could use more pitching, but what team doesn't? Alderson will have a tough call on his hands this winter, deciding whether or not to bring back Jose Reyes as well as trade the face of the franchise, David Wright.

FREE AGENTS

Chris Capuano, SP
Scott Hairston, OF
Willie Harris, UTIL
Jason Isringhausen, RP
Jose Reyes, SS
Chris Young, SP

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • It'll be difficult for fans to accept it, but Jose Reyes needs to walk. The amount of money that would be otherwise tied up in Reyes would be astronomical given his checkered injury history. In addition, as great a year as he had, it was also a career season, and he's only had two other seasons in which his OPS has been greater than .800. It's not the right investment for Alderson to make, especially since Reyes would fetch compensatory draft picks that can stock the Mets' farm system. To replace Reyes, the team shouldn't go for a silver bullet. No one can replace Reyes in the minds of fans, so they shouldn't even try. Instead, sign defensive wizard Clint Barmes, whom pitchers will love.
  • Keep David Wright. There's been scuttlebutt that the Mets might consider trading him, but New York needs to give fans at least one reason to come to the park. Deleting Wright wouldn't provide enough of a return coming off an injury-plagued and poor year. Start the year with Wright in the lineup and make him available in July.
  • Resign Chris Capuano. The lefty wants to be with the Mets, and he was more than capable in the back of the rotation. Someone who clearly wants to be with the Mets is a good thing right now.
  • Go with Ruben Tejada at second base permanently. The Mets need to figure out if they have a long-term answer at the position with Tejada, and playing him is the only way to find out. Daniel Murphy could also stick at the position if and when Ike Davis returns from his injuries.
  • Do nothing else. Yes, really. Look, this isn't a team that can contend in 2012. It just can't, and Alderson is not the type of GM who will trade away prospects important to the future just to slap a band-aid on the major league team. There is a significant crop of free agents coming in 2012, and the Mets need to save their money for then as well as work through the remaining questions on the roster. Jason Bay is entering a put-up or shut-up season for the Mets, Angel Pagan is looking to rebound, and there are two outfielders close to the majors that need to break in and get at-bats in Fernando Martinez and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. By this time next year, the Mets will have a clearer picture as to the future of the team, its top prospects will be that much closer to the majors,  a bountiful free-agent crop will await, and the Phillies will be another year older. It will take time, but Alderson can and will get the Mets back to relevancy.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 22, 2011 9:10 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 1:46 pm
 

Who are the NL's worst defenders?

Wright

By Evan Brunell

Over the past week, Eye on Baseball has taken a look at the AL Gold Glove award winners, along with the deserving NL candidates. In addition, the AL's worst defenders were scoured, and now comes the senior circuit's recipients of tin gloves...

Catcher: John Buck, Marlins -- One of the most important things a catcher can do is to throw out baserunners. To be sure, it's a total package -- calling pitches, acting as the general on the field, blocking pitches, framing pitches... but that pesky baserunner problem is also an issue, and Buck scores very low here. Out of 95 would-be basestealers, Buck only caught 17 of them, or 17.9 percent. Of all catchers who qualify for the batting title in the game -- not just the NL -- Buck's posted the worst caught-stealing rate. His reputation in all other aspects of catching are muted at best.

First base: Prince Fielder, Brewers -- Fielder looks as if he should easily clear $150 million in a new contract this offseason and $200 million is not out of reach given the right motivated bidder. Whoever is acquiring him, though, will be doing so for his home-run bat as opposed his defense, which has been consistently awful. This is a player who would have been shoved into the DH spot in the AL had he come up with an American League team, but the Brewers have had to live with his glove at first. Fielder offers nothing at first beyond a human blob that can block the occasional grounder.

Second base: Dan Uggla, Braves -- Uggla battled Jeff Keppinger for this honor, but Uggla takes the cake here by leading all NL second basemen in errors with 15, flashing both awful range and stone hands. It's surprising the Marlins didn't move him to third a while ago, and the Braves will certainly try to shift Uggla to third base once Chipper Jones retires. Until then, Atlanta's going to have to hope that Freddie Freeman at first and their shortstop can cover enough ground for Uggla to make his mark with the bat.

Third base: David Wright, Mets -- If David Wright's .929 fielding percentage holds, it will be the lowest mark by a third baseman since  2007, excluding Mark Reynolds who has "bested" Wright's fielding percentage twice in 2011 and 2008. In 2007, Ryan Braun tallied a .895 fielding percentage and was moved to left, which was always inevitable. Before that, you have to go to Edwin Encarnacion in 2006. Errors aren't always an indication of how good a fielder is, but in Wright's case, he's making them in such copious amounts without the benefit of superlative range.

Shortstop: Yuniesky Betancourt, Brewers -- Was there any doubt? The Brewers knew that they would have a horrendous left side of the infield, but the club could only hope that Betancourt and third baseman Casey McGehee's offensive production outstripped what they lost on defense. That hasn't been the case, and Betancourt remains the worst shortstop by a mile in the game. Really, there's no excuse for his still being considered a shortstop.

Left field: Raul Ibanez, Phillies -- There isn't much that left fielders are asked to do. Stand out there with a glove, catch the balls coming your way and smash lots of home runs. Well, Ibanez hasn't quite delivered on these fronts, especially defensively where he combines a noodle of an arm with a lack of speed or quickness, making him a statue. He's fortunate he doesn't play for the Cubs, otherwise the ivy on the outfield walls would already have overtaken him.

Canter field: Angel Pagan, Mets -- Pagan came out of nowhere to be a solid contributor to the Mets the last two seasons, but things have fallen apart this year. He leads all NL center fielders in erorrs and while he has good reaction time, his hands just aren't soft enough and his arm is a wash, too. Pagan may well have lost any shot at starting again after the year he's had.

Right field: Lance Berkman, Cardinals -- As I keep bringing up, a right fielder's arm is more valuable than a left fielder or center fielder. Thus, a player's defense in right should be judged with a bit more notice as to the player's arm. Well, one of the worst arms in the league belongs to Berkman, playing right consistently for the first time in his career. The verdict? The Cardinal has a lousy arm and lousy range. Maybe Berkman should stick to first base.

Pitcher: Matt Garza, Cubs -- A pitcher's job on defense basically comes down to this: field the grounders back to you and act as an irrelevant fly-ball pointer-outer. So when you make seven errors in just 191 innings for a fielding percentage of .774, you aren't doing too well. That's Garza, who has made five throwing errors while muffing two grounders. Garza's only made 10 putouts and 14 assists, so 22.5 percent of his involvement in fielding plays have resulted in an error. That's not good.

You'll notice no NL West players landed on the list. That's not surprising. With San Diego and Los Angeles playing in pitcher's parks and San Francisco's stadium rather spacious as well, defense is at a premium. Colorado also needs to emphasize defense as well to take away hits and patrol Coors Fields' cavernous gaps.

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