Tag Archives: reds

The Morning Edition (July 22, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Harvey dominates the Phils over 7 innings, allows 3 H and 10 K as Lee struggles
  • Masterson flirts with a no-hitter in a 7-1 win over the Twins
  • Giants waste a great start from Bumgarner
  • Colon drops a CGSO on the Angels
  • Wainwright’s 8 strong innings lead the Cards over the Padres
  • Felix turns in 6 solid inning as the Mariners thrash the Astros
  • Peralta and Alvarez throw gems, but it takes a Gindl walk off in the 13th to finalize the Crew and Fish
  • Kershaw throws well, Zimmermann gets rocked in Dodgers win at Nats
  • Bailey K’s 12 but the Reds fall to the Bucs
  • Rays win…again

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Darvish comes to Yankee Stadium (7p Eastern)
  • Scherzer and Sale (8p Eastern)
  • Garza showcase continues against Skaggs in AZ (930p Eastern)
  • Lincecum returns to the mound for the first time since his no-hitter (10p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Should the Rays scare you?

The answer is yes under certain conditions. First, if you cheer for the Rays, no the Rays should not scare you. Also, if you’re team is wildly out of the race, then you should just enjoy baseball and not sweat the standings. But everyone else should be worried because the Rays are dangerous. They probably won’t sustain a 17-2 pace for the rest of the season but they are putting the East on notice. On May 7th, the Rays were 14-18 and looked like they weren’t going to be able to provide their usually excellent starting pitching. Since then, they are 44-23, which is a 106 win pace. This is a good team that just had their rough stretch early, which is often a nice way to lull your opponents into a false sense of security. I picked the Rays to win the East and haven’t wavered. They are baseball’s 3rd best offense and 11th best pitching staff and have one of baseball’s best managers and easily the best GM. This is a team that should scare you. They have one of the game’s best in Longoria, an excellent super utility guy in Zobrist, the underrated Jennings, the young Myers, and the lightning in a bottle Loney. Not to mention the pitching is back. They Rays are hot and are only going to cool off a little.

The Morning Edition (July 20, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Brandon Barnes hits for the cycle in a loss to the Mariners
  • The Cards shell Marquis, but the Padres make it interesting
  • Holland goes 8, but gives up 3 runs in a loss to the O’s
  • The Phils pummel the Mets setting Kendrick up for a terrible start that still ends in a win
  • The Rays win an 8 HR slugfest with the Jays
  • Soriano coughs up a strong start for Strasburg

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Hamles versus Wheeler at Citi (1p Eastern)
  • Kuroda and Lackey (4p Eastern)
  • Burnett takes on Latos (4p Eastern)
  • Greinke goes against Gio (7p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Where does the cycle rank among cool baseball achievements?

Obviously the cycle is awesome for it’s value (at least four times on base) and it’s cool factor (getting each type of hit) but where does it rank among other cool things. No-hitters, perfect games, 4 HR games, CGSO? Let’s take a look at the numbers since 1916:

  • Perfect Games: 21
  • No-hitters: 204
  • Cycles: 240
  • Cycles w/a walk: 39
  • 4 HR: 14
  • 15 or more K: 232

If you asked me I’d most prefer to attend a perfect game, no question, but all of them would be a lot of fun. I’ve been to about 3-4 near no-hitters and a 14 K game.

The Morning Edition (July 14, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Greinke twirls a CGSO to beat the Rockies despite Chatwood’s CG, 1 ER gem.
  • Davis homers again, but Orioles fall to the Jays
  • Lincecum no hits the Padres, featuring 13 Ks. (Late out west, hence the lack of intense attention)
  • The White Sox tops the Phillies with 2 in the 11th
  • Hughes K’s 10, but gives up 4 as the Yanks fall to the Twins
  • Haren and Fernandez pitch well, Marlins win in 10

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Shields takes on the Indians (1p Eastern)
  • Hamels tries to stay on a role (1p Eastern)
  • Wainwright and Wood take the final stage before the break (8p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Who will replace the Sunday starters and injured players on the All-Star rosters?

Enjoy the last day before the break. It’s going to be a slow few days!

The Morning Edition (July 13, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Price gives up 2 runs in a CG against the Astros and loses…to Jared Cosart in his MLB debut, who went 8 scoreless
  • Kluber twirls a fine outing, Indians beat the Royals
  • Marlins rough up Strasburg, chase him after two
  • Chris Davis homers, Orioles win, lather, rinse, repeat.
  • Pirates grab a walk off single in 11 against the Mets
  • Arroyo shuts down the Braves, Dusty listens and drops Cozart to 7th

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Burnett faces the Mets (7p Eastern)
  • Lynn and Garza in Chicago (7p Eastern)
  • Holland and Scherzer (7p Eastern)
  • Jose Fernandez faces the Nats (7p Eastern)
  • Felix against the Angels (10p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Who are your first half ROY?

Let’s break it down by position players and pitchers. For the NL position player, Puig is a pretty good choice with his 2.1 WAR and 198 wRC+, but he’s short on games. Pollack (2.1 WAR), Gattis (1.8 WAR), Gyrko (1.8 WAR) are also good choices. It’s tough to pick rookies because you have to balance overall value and rate stats. Probably Puig, but Pollack would be a good choice too. For the AL position player it’s slim pickens, to this point it’s probably Jose Iglesias (1.6 WAR), but Nick Franklin, Gomes, and Martin have a case and they all have Wil Myers charging. AL pitching is thin, but it’s probably Straily if you want a starter, but there are a lot of good relievers too. Many the AL rookie class is weak. The NL pitchers are much more fun. Miller, Fernandez, Ryu, and Teheran. I love Shelby Miller, but Fernandez right there.

The Morning Edition (July 12, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Salazar impresses and helps beat the Jays in his debut with the Indians
  • Reds lose to the Braves with Votto waiting on deck…again
  • Kendrick squeaks past Zimmermann and the Nationals
  • Both starters stumble, Red Sox beat the Mariners in 10
  • Jeter returns to the Yanks, national media doesn’t spend much time talking about it
  • Moore K’s 10 in 7.1 innings as he’s named to the ASG
  • Tulo’s back!

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Cosart makes his MLB debut against Price (7p Eastern)
  • Strasburg heads to Miami (7p Eastern)
  • Corbin goes against the Crew (930p Eastern)
  • Kershaw welcomes the Rockies to LA (10p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Does the media see the irony?

So recently there have been a number of things written about MLB’s problem getting good national TV ratings and some people have suggested more playoff teams and other stuff I don’t think will be a good idea, but today was the perfect example of how the media is responsible for the problem. Two shortstops came back from injuries today to help their clubs who are on the edge of the postseason race. 99% of the coverage was about Jeter and almost none was about Tulowitzki, who is one of the most dynamic players in the game. I don’t have anything against Jeter, and he’s had a wonderful career, but if you’re wondering why national ratings are down, it’s because the national media recycles the same tired stories about the same 3 or 4 teams. It’s time for Fox, ESPN, and MLB to plug players on smaller market clubs. Tulowitzki could easily be the face of MLB, but you don’t see many Rockies games on national TV.

Zack Cozart Can’t Hit Second


If you’re familiar at all with the program MLB Now, you know that it usually includes a segment in which Brian Kenny and Harold Reynolds argue about Dusty Baker. Sometimes it’s about how he uses his 9th inning reliever, Aroldis Chapman. Sometimes it’s about who should hit 4th in the Reds lineup. Thursday, it was about Zack Cozart and his time in the number two spot in the batting order.

During this edition, Eric Byrnes was filling in for Kenny, but he did a nice job making the point Kenny would have made. Zack Cozart cannot hit second. Reynolds provided three arguments for why he should hit second, including that he wants to hit his middle infielders at the top of the order to get them into the game early, Cozart can bunt, and that Cozart would be unsuccessful hitting anywhere else. I would like to address HR’s arguments and then make a very clear case of my own as to why Zack Cozart cannot hit second for the Reds.

Responding To Reynolds

Reynolds “next-level” argument about getting Cozart an at bat so that he is more ready in the field is actually the most persuasive because I can’t refute it with evidence. There might be something to this, but Cozart is a very good defensive player and I have a hard time believing that he isn’t prepared to make plays regardless of when his first at bat comes (plus Byrnes wanted to put the 2B there, so it seems like that should offset). I suppose we could do an analysis about the distribution of errors depending on lineup order, but I’m not going to bother because I think the rest of the argument is strong enough not to sweat it.

Second, HR wants Cozart there because he can bunt, which moves Choo over for Votto, so that Votto can drive him in. This is a silly argument. First of all, despite Choo’s great OBP, he’s still only on base 40% of the time and sometimes those hits are doubles and homers, so he’s on first even less often. Second, some of those cases will be with two outs and the sacrifice bunt will not be on the table. Third, if Choo gets on first with no outs, there is a higher chance you will score if you don’t bunt than if you move the runner over with one out. Finally, Zack Cozart is a below average bunter in his career. He’s only succeeded on 67% of sac bunt attempts, when MLB average is 69%.

Basically, there is a small subset of opportunities for Cozart to bunt Choo over, bunting rarely helps the offense score, and Cozart isn’t even great at it. That doesn’t sound like reason enough to bat him second when there are serious downsides.

His third argument is that Cozart wouldn’t succeed at the bottom of the order. That’s silly. Hitters do better when they hit in front of the pitcher. I don’t have complete data, but in 2012 NL 8th hitters had higher OBPs than AL 8th hitters because they hit in front of the pitcher. It would probably help Cozart, not hurt him. Second, you shouldn’t put a bad batter in the 2nd spot because he’d be worse in the 8 spot. That’s more bad at bats in more critical situations. That’s illogical in every way.

Why Cozart Can’t Hit Second

To start, Cozart is a below average hitter (.230/.261/.358, 64 wRC+ in 2013) this year and has been for his entire career. This isn’t a slump he has to work out of, it’s who he is as a hitter. He’s not the worst hitting shortstop in the league this season, but he’s not a good hitter overall. He’s got a great glove and runs the bases well and I have no problem with him hitting 8th and playing short for the Reds. He’s a valuable player if used correctly.

But not in the 2nd spot in the order.

First of all, many would argue the 2nd hitter should be your best hitter because the 2nd hitter will get the most at bats during a season except for the leadoff hitter and will bat with men on base more often than the leadoff hitter. This gets you the most at bats you can while not losing the opportunity to drive in runs by hitting 1st. Some say your fourth hitter should be your best, some say second, it doesn’t really matter. Your best hitters should hit 1-5. I really don’t care about the order very much, but you should bat your best guys up front because they will bat more often during the whole season and are more likely to come up in each individual game, therefore, maximizing the chances that they can provide a key hit that swings the outcome of the most games.

You also want good hitters in front of other good hitters. I don’t really care if Votto hits second, third, or fourth, but I do care that he bats with runners on base because he is an elite hitter and should be given the opportunity to hit with the bases occupied. Cozart makes the most outs of any regular Reds hitter, but he hits in front of the guy who makes the fewest.

That’s madness. You want guys on base for your best hitters and Cozart is the worst on the team at that. You’re giving Votto, Phillips, and Bruce fewer chances to drive in runs by putting a bad hitter second. There is no getting around that.

To win baseball games, you need to score more runs than the other team and the offense’s job is to maximize their run scoring output. To do that, they have to get on base and not make outs. Cozart makes the most outs of anyone on the Reds, so is therefore not on base for the guys who make the fewest outs. We can argue about who should hit 2nd, 3rd, and 4th based on who slugs what and who strikes out the least, but there is no question that you cannot have a terrible hitter in the middle of your offensive attack.

In 2012, the Reds 2nd spot came to the plate 108 more times than their 8th spot. Over the course of an entire season, you can bring Cozart to the plate 100 fewer times if you move him down. Let’s say he’s a .280 OBP guy. You’re talking about something like 80 fewer outs over a whole season. That’s one fewer out every other game. That can be the difference between winning and losing in some cases.

Even if you want someone who can bunt in the 2nd spot and think sacrifice bunting is great, surely you can appreciate that being able to bunt (which Cozart isn’t great at) doesn’t make up for how many outs you can save by moving Cozart down and replacing him with someone who makes fewer outs, and maybe even hits for extra bases. Even if you want to be able to bunt in the 2nd spot, no one on the Reds is significantly worse than Cozart at it that is makes up for the other outs he makes.

So allow me to summarize. Zack Cozart is the Reds worst hitter. This is clear. He’s costing the Reds scoring opportunities by making more outs than anyone else. The Reds can benefit from moving him into the 8th spot to get him fewer at bats and getting more at bats for their better hitters. Sacrifice bunts cost runs, and even if you choose not to believe that, Cozart isn’t great at it, so the small number of chances he gets to bunt combined with his success rate at it can be easily mimicked by anyone else.

Zack Cozart hits second because baseball tradition says you hit a contact hitter with who can bunt and run second. But that is not the best way to structure a lineup. It’s just wrong. The value in those skills is not best utilized in the 2nd spot. The two spot is for good hitters who extend innings and get on base. Moving runners over by bunting and giving yourself up is not a valuable skill if you cannot also get on base.

Cozart is a good player overall, but not a very good hitter. There is a place for a player like that in the major leagues, but he can’t hit second. Don’t accept conventional wisdom because it’s always been that way. There is no logical reason to hit Cozart second except that’s what we’ve always done. “What we’ve always done” is not a good reason to do something. If you deconstruct how runs are scored, you recognize that you need players who get on base to get on base ahead of other good hitters. If you put a bad hitter in that mix, you’re killing rallies plain and simple.

Zack Cozart cannot hit second and you shouldn’t accept the reasons given by Baker and Reynolds because they don’t make sense. Consider it for yourself. Would you rather get Choo to second with one out, or Votto batting with Choo on first and no outs. Think about Cozart coming to the plate with the game in the balance and making an out, leaving Votto on deck.

This is a problem all across MLB and it’s one of the easiest things to fix. Just start thinking differently.

The Morning Edition (July 9, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Lannan sharp before Papelbon tries to give it away to the Nats
  • 6 run 6th inning helps the Rangers and Holland top Feldman and the O’s
  • Colon out duels Locke
  • Gomez robs a Votto homerun to end the game in Milwaukee
  • Braves score 6 in the 14th to beat the Fish
  • Good starts on the west coast

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Shields and CC hook up in NY (7p Eastern)
  • Norris faces Wainwright in St. Louis (8p Eastern)
  • Nolasco makes his first start with LA (930p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Do you care about the homerun derby?

The HR Derby picks came out yesterday and NL features Wright, Cuddyer, Harper, and CarGo while the AL offers Cano, Fielder, Davis, and TBA (because apparently Cano can’t even get that right). A lot of people were upset with some of the picks because their hometown guy didn’t get picked or because someone strange (Cuddyer) or someone who was hurt (Harper) got picked. I don’t really care too much about the Derby, but someone people really seem to. It’s always seemed like a really weird publicity stunt that didn’t quite make sense. I’d like to see a reformatting. Thoughts?

The Morning Edition (July 8, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Corbin goes 8, strikes out 10 as the Snakes beat the Rockies
  • Price goes the distance to beat the White Sox
  • The Dodgers get 3 in the 9th to back Kershaw’s 8 strong innings
  • The Cubs walk off in 11
  • Fernandez looks ordinary in loss to the Cards
  • The Nats back Strasburg in a slugfest with the Padres
  • Rivera gives up a game winner to Jones and the O’s

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Derek Holland comes to Camden (7p Eastern)
  • Garza keeps on the trade audition tour against the weak hitting White Sox (8p Eastern)
  • Bailey takes the mound for the first time since the no hitter (8p Eastern)
  • Lester goes to Seattle to face Felix (10p Eastern)
  • Matt Harvey takes his show to SF (10p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Is this really happening again?

It is. Mike Trout is back on the chase after a homerun on Sunday night and now ranks 3rd among all MLB qualifiers with 161 wRC+, trailing only Cabrera and Davis. Mix in his great baserunning and better defense along with playing a more important defensive position and he’s only looking up at Miguel Cabrera on the WAR leaderboard. It’s Cabrera at 5.8 and Trout at 5.1. It’s happening again and I love it. Trout is essentially on pace to match his 2012 campaign, which would put him on some sort of ridiculous career trajectory. Think about this, Miguel Cabrera became the best hitter in the sport in his late 20s. Trout is 21. He’s probably at his peak defensively and on the bases, but he’s going to get better at the plate. What could this guy do? In the last 365 days, Trout (10.5) and Cabrera (9.2) are 1 and 2 in WAR and Trout already has more than 15 WAR in his career. Since 1901, only 2 players have accumulated more WAR through age 21: Mel Ott and Ty Cobb. That’s a list for ya.

Revisiting The Nine Best First Basemen for 2013

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In the weeks leading up to the 2013 season, I unveiled my predictions for The Nine best players at each position. Some of the lists look good, some look terrible at this point, but that’s all part of the fun. Over the next two weeks leading up to the All-Star Game I will be revisiting these lists to see how things are going so far, around the halfway mark.

Obviously, the early evaluations will feature fewer than half a season and the later lists will feature a bit more, but try to think of these as the state of the position at the halfway mark. I’ll be using Wins Above Replacement (WAR) to generate the rankings because it is the number that best captures the entire value of a player. It isn’t perfect, so don’t take the precise values too seriously, but it’s certainly the best way to make any type of holistic list. WAR values offense, defense, baserunning, and playing time, so it represents exactly what I was trying to capture when I made the rankings during Spring Training.

Here’s how this will work. Below, you’ll see all nine players I ranked in the preseason and any player who currently ranks in the top 9 at that position. The current ranking drives the order and the preseason ranking and their current WAR is noted. Hit, miss, and push distinctions are based on where their first half places them going forward. For example, I can miss on a player even if I expect them to play much better in the second half if their first half was so poor that it is impossible to make up the ground overall.

We’ve already covered the catchers, so let’s move on to first base. Here’s The Nine Best First Basemen for 2013. Numbers reflect start of play on July 6.

56. Mark Teixeira, Yankees (Preseason Rank: 6, 2013 WAR: -0.2)

Teixeira was more hurt than I knew when I wrote the original list. Nothing you can do about a guy who only plays 15 games during a season due to injury. MISS

49. Albert Pujols, Angels (Preseason Rank: 2, 2013 WAR: -0.1)

Albert Pujols stated slow last season and came on strong in the second half. I’m not sure if that’s going to happen again or if his foot and ankle injury will improve enough that he can contribute the way he should. Granted, I knew Pujols was on the wrong side of 30 when I wrote the list, so maybe I should have been more cautious about his decline, but it’s safe to say one shouldn’t assume an all-time great player will simply cease being valuable out of nowhere. He’s producing at league average with a 99 wRC+ from a position that demands offense and is below average on defense and on the bases. Pujols likely won’t be this bad all season, but there is no way he can recover enough to save the prediction. MISS

31. Adam LaRoche, Nationals (Preseason Rank: 4, 2013 WAR: 0.5)

He’s lost some power from his career year in 2012, but the OBP is nearly identical. LaRoche was my bold, wild card type pick, so I’m fine with being off the mark a bit. He’s defense rates below average this year despite being good each of the last three seasons. I assume that will turn around because 1B defensive skills shouldn’t deteriorate that quickly, so he’s probably more of a 2.5 WAR player than a 3.5 WAR player and that’s not a huge whiff. He’s probably a 10-13 1B for the whole season, so this is a miss, but not a huge one. MISS

30. Prince Fielder, Tigers (Preseason Rank: 3, 2013 WAR: 0.5)

Fielder, currently at 123 wRC+, is performing well on offensive relative to league average, but not compared to the bar he set for himself. At this pace, he’s like to finish near the 8-10 mark, but he could easily snap out of it and start hitting for more power at any moment. There’s nothing physically wrong with him and he’s had the occasional season in his career that was just pretty good instead of great at the plate, so he could easily slug .550 the rest of the way and no one would find it strange. He’s costly on defense, but that’s a constant. He’s a top 9 1B on offense right now, but not comfortably enough to make up for his defense. MISS

15. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs (Preseason Rank: 8, 2013 WAR: 1.3)

Despite some recent slumping Rizzo is only a bit off the pace he set in 2012 on which I based my evaluation. He’s 0.3 WAR back of 8th place, so I’m feeling pretty good right now. He’s playing strong defense and has a 110 wRC+. With a little better second half, he’s dead on. HIT

12. Freddie Freeman, Braves (Preseason Rank: 5, 2013 WAR: 1.4)

Freeman spent 15 days on the DL early in the season, but while he’s been on the field during the 70+ other games, he’s been right on pace for 5th. He’s the 6th best 1B by wRC+ and is hovering just below average on defense. Assuming he’s healthy and plays 140 games or so this season, he’s perfectly on track for the middle of the top 9. HIT

10. Allen Craig, Cardinals (Preseason Rank: 7, 2013 WAR: 1.5 WAR)

Craig is having essentially the exact season I’d have expected from him. In the initial ranking I said he was a phenomenal hitter (he’s 5th in wRC+) and nothing special with the glove (-2.2 UZR). His only issue would be health, which hasn’t bitten him yet and is just 0.1 WAR away from 7th on the list. If he doesn’t miss much time, this one looks great. HIT

9. Eric Hosmer, Royals (Preseason Rank: 9, 2013 WAR: 1.5)

Ha! Nailed it. He started a bit slow but things are picking up nicely and he has added value with the glove too. I’m a fan of his skills and think he can be a great player despite 2012’s disappointment. I’m not going to say much more and just bask in this precisely accurate ranking while it lasts. HIT

8. Brandon Belt, Giants (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR:1.6)

I like Belt, but the Giants have been screwing with his swing and playing time so much over the years it’s hard to feel good about any sort of prediction. He’s a patient hitter with a solid glove and I like him a lot as a player, I just didn’t think it was a good idea to rank him in the top 9 because I couldn’t predict the playing time. MISS

7. Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR: 1.6)

Someone asked about him when I posted the original piece and I said he’d have been 10 or 11 for me, so finding him at 7, just ahead of that spot isn’t surprising. He’s hitting for a little more power than I thought, but other than that is right on track for the season I thought he’d have. HIT

6. Mark Trumbo, Angels (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR: 1.9)

Trumbo wasn’t ranked in the preseason because I expected him to get most of his reps at DH. Nothing you can really do about that one, but he’s a lowish OBP, high power guy who tends to run hot and cold. He’s actually be solid with the glove in Pujols’ stead, so I’m comfortable expecting him to finish near the back half of the list. PUSH

5. James Loney, Rays (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR: 2.3)

I saw this coming. Not this exactly, but I did. Go to #30 on this list of bold predictions and you’ll see. I didn’t think he’d be a top 9 guy, but I’m taking credit for this because so few people had good things to say abut Loney going into the year. He’s always been a guy who could play defense and hit for average, but he was caught in between while looking to add power in LA, so arriving in Tampa and being told not to worry about it seems to have helped. HIT.

4. Edwin Encarnacion, Jays (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR: 2.5)

I had Encarnacion figured in for a lot of games at DH, which has sort of happened. 45 games at 1B, 29 at DH, 10 at 3B so I didn’t expect him to add as much value because of the DH positional adjustment in WAR. I expected him to mash, but not to add this kind of overall value. I’m calling it a push because it was more of a playing time mistake than a production one. PUSH

3. Joey Votto, Reds (Preseason Rank: 1, 2013 WAR: 3.4)

Joey Votto is great and I said he would be great. His defensive rating is below average, which I don’t think will continue and that is the only think keeping him from another MVP type season. Votto is right on track for the 6.5-7.5 WAR season that I figured for him. HIT

2. Paul Goldschmidt, Dbacks (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR: 3.4)

Goldy was someone I agonized over and left him off with A-Gon right on the cusp. He’s been good enough to make that prediction a miss, but I do want to make clear I liked him a lot coming in, just not quite as much as I should have. He has amazingly gotten better from year to year across the board since coming to the big leagues and is very much in the MVP conversation with Votto and several other guys who will appear on other lists. I’m a Goldy fan and regret not putting him on the preseason list. MISS

1. Chris Davis, Orioles (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR: 4.6)

Yeah, didn’t see this coming. No one did. Not even Chris Davis’ mother expected him to elevated his game to near-Cabreraian levels. He’s mashing and is right in the thick of the AL MVP race. He’s not this good, but he’s also clearly good enough to hang on this list the rest of the way and I wouldn’t have put him in the top 12. Easily a miss and pretty darn impressive. I’m not buying him to finish #1, but he’s earned it for now. MISS

Check back for more The Nine updates featuring the other positions. How will these lists look come October? Sounds off in the comments section.

Picking the National League All-Stars

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

With the All-Star rosters looming ahead this weekend, New English D weighs into the fray with these picks. We covered the AL yesterday. A few notes up front. First, I’ve conformed the roster size to the official requirements and have selected starters I feel are most deserving based on their 2013 seasons and have given no deference to the voting up through this point. My view is that the All-Star Game should showcase the game’s standout performers from the first half of 2013, not the best players over the last year or the best players by talent even if they haven’t performed. I think the game should highlight the players who play well, not the players MLB thinks are “marketable.” Every team is represented and I’ve given a list of players who are the first replacements for injuries and such. As you know, this site appreciates advanced statistics, so should you choose to comment on these selections, please do so without using “RBI” or “Wins.” Finally, I watch a ton of baseball, but I watch fewer NL games by function of being a Tigers fan, so some of the down ballot selections are a bit less sure footed.

And I just couldn’t leave Puig out. He has to play in this game.

Yadier Molina Cardinals C
Joey Votto Reds 1B
Matt Carpenter Cardinals 2B
Jean Segura Brewers SS
David Wright Mets 3B
Carlos Gomez Brewers OF
Andrew McCutchen Pirates OF
Carlos Gonzalez Rockies OF
Buster Posey Giants DH
Matt Harvey Mets SP
Russell Martin Pirates C
Paul Goldschmidt Dbacks 1B
Allen Craig Cardinals 1B
Chase Utley Phillies 2B
Ian Desmond Nationals SS
Pedro Alvarez Pirates 3B
Starling Marte Pirates OF
Bryce Harper Nationals OF
Shin Soo Choo Reds OF
Yasiel Puig Dodgers OF
Michael Cuddyer Rockies OF
Todd Frazier Reds 3B
Adam Wainwright Cardinals SP
Cliff Lee Phillies SP
Clayton Kershaw Dodgers SP
Homer Bailey Reds SP
Mat Latos Reds SP
Jeff Samardzija Cubs SP
Jordan Zimmermann Nationals SP
Jose Fernandez Marlins SP
Craig Kimbrel Braves RP
Sergio Romo Giants RP
Mark Melancon Pirates RP
Jason Grilli Pirates RP
Ryan Braun* Brewers OF
Troy Tulowitzki* Rockies SS
Evereth Cabrera* Padres SS
Jhoulys Chacin Rockies SP
Patrick Corbin Dbacks SP
Shelby Miller Cardinals SP
Stephen Strasburg Nationals SP
Chris Johnson Braves 3B
Carlos Beltran Cardinals OF
Dominic Brown Phillies OF
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