Monday, November 22, 2010

2010: A Year In Review

JMLs on the DL: that was the predominant theme in 2010.
Brad Ausmus - After making his debut all the way back in 1993 with the Padres, Brad Ausmus finally called it a career. For the season, he finished with a line of .222/.310/.254 for an OPS of .564 in 71 PAs. He found himself on the DL for the 1st time in 18 seasons. For most players, that would be a remarkable accomplishment. For a catcher, it's almost unheard of. Durability, thy name is Brad Ausmus. After undergoing lower back surgery in April, many doubted Ausmus would ever put on the gear again. But he felt obligated to return because he signed a contract, and he's old school. Gotta respect that. Looks like he retired at the right time, though. The 5th oldest active player in baseball didn't throw out any baserunners this year in 17 attempts. For a guy who threw out 35% or more baserunners 8 times in his career, that had to be a hard pill to swallow. He finished in the top 5 in caught stealing percentage 5 times; he led the NL in 1997. He threw out 42% in 1995, 49% in 1997, and 48% in 2000 and 2001. He won 3 Gold Gloves and was voted an All-Star in 1999 with the Tigers. That was his best offensive season; he posted a line of .275/.365/.415 for an OPS of .779 in 527 PAs. That season, he set or tied career-bests in HRs (9), doubles (25), triples (6), RBIs (54), runs scored (62), extra base hits (40), HBP (14), OBP, SLG, and OPS. Known more for his defense, he still did some impressive things on offense. He stole 102 bases, swiping 10 or more bags 5 times. He stole 16 bases (a career-best) in 1995 with the Padres. He had a BB/K ratio of 53/60 in 1998, 69/79 in 2000, and he actually walked more than he struck out in 2005 with a BB/K ratio of 51/48. His career line was .251/.325/.344 for an OPS of .669. That translates to an OPS+ of 75. He hit 80 HRs, 270 doubles, and 34 triples. He drove in 607 runs, scored 718 runs, drew 634 BBs, and amassed 1,579 hits. His postseason line was .245/.308/.377 for an OPS of .685 in 119 PAs. Among JMLs, he ranks 1st in games played (1,971), 4th in SBs, and 5th in hits and doubles. He was 1st in assists as a catcher in 1995 and 2000. He finished in the top 5 in assists 11 times. He was 1st in putouts as a catcher 4 times. He finished in the top 5 in putouts 12 times. He was 1st in fielding percentage as a catcher 4 times. He finished in the top 5 in fielding percentage 10 times. He was 1st in range factor as a catcher in 2002. He finished in the top 5 in range factor 9 times. He's 13th all-time in caught stealing percentage (35%). He led the AL or NL in games caught 3 times. He finished in the top 5 in games caught 9 times. In 2006, he caught 138 games, the 2nd most games ever caught by a catcher at the age of 37, trailing only Bob Boone's 147 games. Ausmus is 7th all-time in games caught and 2nd all-time in putouts as a catcher. Without a doubt, Ausmus was one of the greatest defensive catchers of all time.

Ryan Braun - Kind of an up and down season for Braun, who won his 3rd Silver Slugger Award and finished 15th in MVP voting. But a good season, nevertheless. Braun put up a line of .304/.366/.501 for an OPS of .866 in 684 PAs. His OPS+ was 133. He hit 25 HRs, 45 doubles, and 1 triple. He drove in 103 runs, scored 101 runs, and stole 14 bases. He set a career-high in doubles but also a career-low in HRs, triples, SLG, and ISO (extra base hits per AB). Since his rookie year in 2007, he has gradually walked more every season and struck out less every season. His BB% has gone from 5.9 to 6.3 to 8.1 to 8.2. And his K% has gone from 24.8 to 21.1 to 19.1 to 17. Those are great trends. His BB/K ratio (56/105) was a career-best. Unfortunately, his ISO has gradually gone down every year as well. It has gone from .310 to .268 to .231 to .197. That's not such a great trend. He also swiped 11 bags the first 2 months of the season. It looked like he was going to make a serious run at 30 stolen bases, but then he only swiped 3 bags the rest of the season. His 2nd half (.917 OPS) was significantly better than his 1st half (.827 OPS). He drove in 100 runs for the 3rd consecutive season and scored 100 runs for the 2nd consecutive season. He joined Cecil Cooper as the only other Brewer to have consecutive 100-RBI, 100-run seasons. He ranked 2nd in the NL in hits (188) and doubles, 5th in total bases (310), 6th in runs scored, 7th in RBIs and extra base hits (71), and 9th in batting average. He was selected as the starting NL All Star left fielder for the 3rd consecutive season. He also led all MLB outfielders in All Star balloting for the 3rd consecutive season. In the field, he had the most putouts (279) in left field for the 3rd consecutive season, the 4th most assists (6), and was 2nd in range factor.

Craig Breslow - One JML pitcher stood out for all the right reasons in 2010; that pitcher was Craig Breslow. In 74 2/3 innings (a career-high), he was 4-4 with 5 saves (a career-high), a 3.01 ERA, 1.098 WHIP, 71 Ks (a career-high), 6.4 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 3.5 BB/9 (a career-best), 8.6 K/9 (a career-best), and a 2.45 K/BB ratio (a career-best). He was 2nd in the AL in appearances for the 2nd consecutive season, appearing in 75 games. He held hitters to a .191 BAA (a career-best). Righties hit .201 against him while lefties hit only .181 (a career-best) against him. He left 80.7% of baserunners stranded (a career-best). Just a dominant season from start to finish. He gives the A's bullpen versatility, as he is able to come in the 7th, the 8th, or the 9th inning. For his humanitarian work with the Strike 3 Foundation, Breslow was nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award. The Sporting News named him the smartest athlete in all of sports. He recently turned 30, so age shouldn't catch up to him for awhile yet.

Ike Davis - Considered one of the top prospects in the minors coming into the season, there was a lot of hype around Ike. He definitely lived up to the hype, posting a line of .264/.351/.440 for an OPS of .791 in 601 PAs. His OPS+ was 115. He hit 19 HRs, 33 doubles, and 1 triple. He drove in 71 runs, scored 73 runs, and drew 72 BBs. He ranked 2nd among NL rookies in runs scored, doubles, BBs, and extra base hits. He ranked 3rd among NL rookies in HRs and RBIs. Given those numbers, he probably deserved to finish higher than he did in the NL RoY vote, but he ended up in 7th place. He set the Mets rookie record for total bases (230) and tied the Mets rookie record for BBs and extra base hits. He did all of this at the age of 23 surrounded by a bad lineup (.697 team OPS) and in a pitcher's park. He led all JMLs in BBs. He batted cleanup in 58 games and 5th in 45 games. He posted an OPS of .805 against lefties in 138 PAs and an OPS of .812 at Citi Field in 295 PAs. He struck out a lot, but he also showed good plate discipline with his 12% walk rate. His 1st HR traveled 450 feet onto Shea Bridge at Citi Field. He hit a walkoff HR against the Padres on June 8. Ike was equally impressive at first base. He ranked 1st in defensive runs saved in the NL at 14. His UZR/150 of 11.9 put him 2nd in all of baseball at first base behind Oakland's Daric Barton. He didn't win the Gold Glove Award, but you have to figure he'll be a strong candidate to win for years and years.

Scott Feldman - Believe it or not, Feldman was the Opening Day starter for the Rangers in 2010. It was all downhill from there. It really looked like Feldman had turned a corner last year as a starter. But perhaps the writing was on the wall with his mediocre peripherals. He finished this season with a 7-11 record, a 5.48 ERA, and a 1.599 WHIP in 141 1/3 innings (22 starts). The only area where he improved in 2010 was in BB/9, which was 2.9 (a career-best as a starter). Last season, he induced more groundballs (46.8%) and less flyballs (32.7%). The opposite was true in 2010 (42.6 % groundballs, 37.3% flyballs). His ERA at home was 4.90 while his ERA on the road was 6.07. That's somewhat odd, considering he was a road warrior last season. He had a little more success as a reliever (4.61 ERA in 13 2/3 innings) than as a starter (5.57 ERA in 127 2/3 innings). Not wanting to be excluded from all of the other JMLs who were hurt this year, Feldman was on the DL for about 2 weeks with a bone bruise in his right knee in late August and early September. Overall, it was a pretty bad season. He went from being the Rangers' Opening Day starter to their 5th starter to a mop-up reliever to being left off the postseason roster. He'll turn 28 in 2011, and he stands to make a lot more money in the next few years. Hopefully, he can redeem himself and earn some of it.

Sam Fuld - Fuld didn't do much in The Show this year, but then he didn't get much playing time. He put up a line of .143/.226/.179 for an OPS of .404 in 31 PAs. He only started 4 games. I think last season is more indicative of the type of player he is in a larger sample size. Oddly enough, his 3 RBIs in 2010 beat his total from last year. So, that's something.

John Grabow - Not what the Cubs were looking for when they signed him to a 2-year deal. Grabow was hampered by knee problems all season, and it showed. Just when it looked like he was finally getting it together in June, he went on the DL with a torn MCL. His 25 2/3 innings were the lowest single-season total since 2003 when he was a September call-up. Based on his age (32) and previous 2 seasons, I think we could be looking at a bounceback season in 2011.
Ryan Kalish - Called up on July 31, Kalish got a chance to play the last few months of the season for the Red Sox. He struggled out of the gate in August but was solid in September and October. He played in 53 games altogether, and in his last 26 games he put up a line of .274/.344/.464 for an OPS of .808 in 94 PAs. Overall, his line was .252/.305/.405 for an OPS of .710 in 179 PAs. His OPS+ was 88. He hit 4 HRs (2 grand slams), 11 doubles, and 1 triple. He drove in 24 runs, scored 26 runs, and stole 10 bases (only caught 1 time). Most of his starts were in center field. He'll turn 23 next season and should get a chance to battle for a roster spot. Kalish is considered one of the top prospects in the Red Sox organization and possesses all the tools. You've got to like the upside.

Gabe Kapler - Kapler played well for the Rays last year and the Brewers the year before. Not so much in 2010. He put up a line of .210/.288/.290 for an OPS of .578 in 140 PAs with the Rays. Definitely his worst season. Only had 6 extra base hits. He tied a career-best with 3 HBP. He's 35 now, so he may decide to hang 'em up soon - again. As a strong defensive outfielder who leaves it all on the field and has always hit well against lefties, Kapler should still have some value.

Ian Kinsler - It was an injury-riddled season for the 28-year old Kinsler. He missed most of April with an ankle injury and all of August with a groin injury. As a result, Kinsler played in only 103 games, the lowest single-season total of his career. He put up a line of .286/.382/.412 for an OPS of .794 in 460 PAs. His OPS+ was 113. He hit 9 HRs, 20 doubles, and 1 triple. He drove in 45 runs, scored 73 runs, and stole 15 bases. He set a career-high with his OBP and a career-low with his SLG. His BB/K ratio (56/57) was a career-best. He walked 12.2% of the time, also a career-best. However, his .125 ISO was a career-low. So while he was more patient at the plate, his power numbers were down. He posted an OPS of .957 in 110 PAs against lefties. According to the defensive metrics, his fielding was once again solid at second base. His UZR/150 was 4.1, putting him 4th in the AL in that category. His range factor was down a little, but given his injuries that was to be expected. He was selected to his 2nd All Star game. He reached 100 career stolen bases, and with 92 HRs he should reach 100 in 2011. Kinsler was also part of an historic Rangers team that reached the playoffs for the 1st time since 1999 and got to the Fall Classic for the 1st time in franchise history. Although Kinsler didn't have a great World Series, his overall postseason numbers were good. He posted a line of .296/.381/.537 for an OPS of .918 in 64 PAs. He hit 3 HRs, 2 doubles, 1 triple, and swiped 3 bags. His BB/K ratio was 8/7, he drove in 9 runs, and he scored 7 runs.

Jason Marquis - Definitely a lost season for Marquis. A few streaks ended for him. His 10 consecutive postseason appearances dating back to 2000 was broken. That one didn't take any of us by surprise, given the team he played for. Dating back to 2004, he also had 11+ wins and 28+ starts every year - until 2010. His first 3 outings in April were disastrous, probably because he needed elbow surgery. He came off the DL in August and pitched fairly well the rest of the way, posting a 4.29 ERA in 10 starts the last 2 months of the season. He was particularly sharp in his last 8 starts, where he posted a 3.61 ERA, a 1.417 WHIP, and 5 quality starts. During that stretch, he didn't receive much run support, as his 2-4 record suggests. With 1 year left on his contract with the Nationals and 96 career wins, he should reach 100 wins next year.
Scott Schoeneweis - I think it's safe to say Schoeneweis has thrown his last pitch as a JML. He was so ineffective with the Red Sox that they only allowed him to pitch 13 2/3 innings, by far the lowest single-season total of his career. He did have 13 Ks, though. On a sad note, the Sox let him go on the anniversary of his wife's death from drug overdose. Wow, bad timing much? If his career is indeed over, he finished with a 47-57 record, 9 saves, a 5.01 ERA (92 ERA+), and a 1.474 WHIP in 972 innings pitched. Righties had him figured out to the tune of an .838 OPS. However, he held lefties to a line of .229/.304/.309 for an OPS of .612. And that's why he will be remembered as a lefty specialist.

Adam Stern - Not much to say, except he played in The Show for the 1st time since 2007. Only had 8 PAs with Braun's Brew Crew. No hits to speak of, but he drove in a run. Stern will be 31 next season, so he could still find a job somewhere. Now that steroids are being removed from the game, speedburners like Stern have a lot more value.

Danny Valencia - Valencia made his MLB debut on June 3. He led all rookies and JMLs with his .311 BA, putting up a line of .311/.351/.448 for an OPS of .799 in 322 PAs. His OPS+ was 116. His .448 SLG and .799 OPS were the highest among AL rookies with 300 or more PAs. He also came in 3rd among AL rookies in hits (93) and total bases (134). As a result, he finished in 3rd place in the AL RoY vote. He displayed his power potential in September when he hit 5 HRs in 8 games. His 1st HR was a grand slam off Zack Greinke. Altogether, he hit 7 HRs, 18 doubles, and 1 triple. He drove in 40 runs and scored 30 runs. He mashed against lefties (.967 OPS in 111 PAs) and did surprisingly well at Target Field (.979 OPS in 141 PAs). His defense at third base was also quite good. His UZR/150 was an impressive 10.2, putting him 4th in the AL in that category. The Twins have been looking to fill a gaping hole at the hot corner for years. At 25, Valencia looks like he could fill that hole rather nicely. In fact, he looks like the best Jewish third baseman since Al Rosen.

Kevin Youkilis - Youk was having another excellent season until he went down on August 3 with a muscle tear in his right thumb. He played in only 102 games, his lowest single-season total since 2005 when he was a part-time player. He put up a line of .307/.411/.564 for an OPS of .975 (a career-high) in 435 PAs. His OPS+ was 157 (a career-high). He hit 19 HRs, 26 doubles, and 5 triples (a career-high). He drove in 62 runs and scored 77 runs. Despite missing much of the season, he ranked 9th in the AL in triples and 10th in HBP (10). He struck out only 18.5% of the time, beating the 19.9% mark he set in 2007. His .257 ISO tied the career-high he set in 2008. His BB/K ratio (58/67) was a career-best. He also hit his 100th career HR off C.C. Sabathia, his 200th double, and scored his 500th run. Against lefties, he posted a line of .404/.513/.798 for an OPS of 1.311 in 113 PAs. Youk will turn 32 in 2011, so he's on the outskirts of his prime. Still, there's no reason to think he can't be just as productive next season. He has begun working out at third base, in anticipation that he may be moved back to the hot corner if the Sox and Adrian Beltre can't reach an agreement.

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