Don’t ask me why, but the corner outfield slots do not hold my interest
nearly as much as the other positions that I have ranked. As I made
clear yesterday, these types of rankings, these types of lists are my
favorite ways to blog my ideas/opinions. It is more fun for me.
But for some reason the corners aren’t quite as fulfilling…
The much anticipated rankings (even though my comments aren’t filling up as much as I would like :)…
Suzuki: I remember when Ichiro first hit the scene here in America.
And for some reason, I didn’t really like him all that much, on a
personal level. I guess maybe it was me rebelling in my own way
against Ichiro’s greatness, but I never doubted that he was a good
player. Anyway, I was working at a local restaurant at the time, and
after I said “I don’t really like him.” A cook, Henry was his name,
responded with, “What’s not to like?” And there wasn’t much to
dislike. Ichiro is a very complete player. What he fails to do in the
power department, he makes up for by being the best defensive RF in
baseball, hitting for high averages, and getting on base enough (mostly
through hits and not walks). Ichiro has batted .350 or higher on three
different occasions, .372 one season. And when I say Ichiro “lacks
power” it isn’t lacking power in a sense that he hurts his team.
Ichiro’s career slugging percentage is still better than the league
average over the time he has spent here in America. Ichiro can also
steal close to 40 bases a year without getting caught much at all. So
speaking of Ichiro as a player, what’s not to like?
Markakis: Markakis was tops amongst RF’s in WARP1 if my research is
correct, in 2008. He is only 24 and the Orioles have locked him up
long-term. OPS+’s of 106, 121, and 134 in his first three seasons in
the Majors, and is only 24, so the improvement should continue.
Markakis may have been number one, but I felt that it was unfair to
Ichiro, after all he has done, and is still capable of. I do foresee
the Baltimore RF overtaking Ichiro this season for the number one spot,
if not this year then probably next. But Justin Upton might interfere
with that if he is what they say he is.
- Alex Rios:
Rios is the real deal. Alex struggled some early last season, but
finished 11% better than the average hitter. However, his OPS+’s of
120 and 122 during the two seasons before that indicate that he is
probably a better player hitter than that. I firmly believe that he
will bounce back. And his defense has been great in his young career,
and add in pretty good offense, too.
- Magglio Ordonez: Magglio had an incredible, and somewhat underrated year, at this point,
during the 2007 season. Magglio batted .363 and was the second best
player in the league behind only Alex Rodriguez. I know that Magglio
is not that good. That season is clearly an outlier and the
surrounding years were not even close to that. Rios is a much better
fielder and makes the comparison between the third and fourth spots
quite close. And it may also prove my inconsistencies in my rankings.
But these aren’t exactly easy to do. I could just run down a list of
players in order of WARP1, but that would not really be fun, now would
it? So my apologies to Carl Crawford…
Guerrero: Guerrero isn’t what he used to be. But he isn’t worthy of
being benched either. Guerrero is still a very good hitter, but his
days of being a great player are no longer. Vlad still swings as hard
as anyone, and as much as anyone. Vlad still avoids taking walks. But
he still hits for power, average, and gets on base enough. He would be
better served as being the Angels DH, but so wouldn’t Abreu. So the
Angels will probably rotate a few players in and out of that spot. But
Abreu doesn’t have any question marks with his health, Vlad does and
has. So having Abreu’s defense, which is worse, may be better if Vlad
is banged up again in 2008. Of course, Vlad is a better defender, but
it isn’t like we are talking about Ichiro-esque defense here.
Don’t let some ruin everything that you have loved for the last few decades…
Everyone has the right to be skeptical with anything that they have witnessed over the past two decades. Anyone and everyone that has played baseball is going to be associated, their cleanliness will be questioned.
So in no way am I dismissing anyone from cheating during a period where cheaters were so prevalent.
But there were clean players. Optimism is the way that I feel when saying that. There were plenty of players that did things “the right way.” Plenty of players that should not be “tainted,” yet are, unfortunately.
Which players you say? That I cannot say with any real conviction. But some had to say to themselves; is money worth going bald and breaking down physically at an earlier age? Once my career is over, am I going to be satisfied after abusing steroids and having my muscles deteriorate on me?
Watch “The Wrestler.” A very well made movie by the director of “Requiem For a Dream.” And Mickey Rourke gives a great performance, one that is well-deserved of all that praise that his playing of the character Rodney “The Ram” has received.
And take it from me, I have never watched wrestling in my life. Never–other than flicking by it. I dislike it. And I dislike having the outcome already established. But the wrestling part of it should not turn anyone away. The film is greater than just some guys throwing each other around in a pre-determined fashion.
Anyway, it is a good example of what can happen after steroid use. The abusing of PED’s are just a part of the downfall of Rourke’s character, but nevertheless, part of the reason wrestlers lives decline at an earlier age.
Back to baseball…
Some think that everyone used, that it was a “level-playing field.”
Adding in amphetamines—which IS cheating, believe it or not. And it is just as much cheating as steroids are, whether one agrees or not–increases the percentage of “cheaters,” definitely.
Focusing on positives in the era is what we naturally seem to avoid doing, when surrounded by negativity.
However, leave it to me to throw some optimism in your faces, as you willingly listen.
There are two players that seem to stick out in an era of questions, to me, that I would be very, VERY surprised if they injected needles into their bodies to try and hit more home runs.
Amphetamines, maybe, but how can I suggest anything like that without knowing?
And there are plenty of other players that were most likely clean, but since these two carry star-power, then I will use them as examples of what I believe to be positive outliers during a negative time
Again, I am not sure, so I am not dismissing them entirely simply because I believe their body types were not changed, while others physique’s DID change.
And the two chosen candidates are…
Ichiro Suzuki: For everyone who questions his motives, who questions how much of a team player he is. At least understand that Ichiro plays the game in a way that should be modeled after. Ichiro plays defense, very well at the corner. Ichiro steals bases, although not enough for everyone to be happy. But Ichiro refrains from “taking off” so much because he doesn’t want to be caught.
Believe me, followers of “Sabermetrics” understand how valuable this is. Now maybe Ichiro doesn’t want to be caught, simply because he does not want to fail. But it seems like anyone who steals bases and succeeds over 80% of the time, is looked upon negatively (see: Tim Raines). Getting caught takes a man off the base-paths. If a player is going to steal, then they better be pretty confident that they will make it.
And everyone also negatively points out that Ichiro could hit for more power. Could? Well, what kind of power are we referring to? Are we talking about 35-40 home runs power? Because I doubt that. I doubt Ichiro would eliminate the power from his swing so that he could “succeed” a higher percentage of the time by trying to hit more singles.
I mean, maybe he could hit for more power, but come on. If Ichiro thought that he could do significantly more damage hitting more home runs, wouldn’t he have changed his approach? Maybe the increase in power and decrease in average/OBP would kind of cancel each other out.
Because even Ichiro understands that the glamour of the home run is what a lot of players strive for. And why wouldn’t Ichiro partake in the “dinger fest” that fans seems to love?
So, maybe Ichiro is arrogant. Maybe he “tries not to fail as often as possible,” rather than “failing more, but doing more damage when succeeding.”
If “trying not to fail” were the objective, which it normally is, wouldn’t Ichiro take more walks?
Ichiro may be be a terrible teammate, I really don’t know. But I am confident that he has not abused steroids, and hopefully people will glance at that, rather than focusing on all of his negatives—which I am sure he has–just as everyone does, and every baseball player, too.
Hopefully I am right in thinking that Ichiro was clean.
The other player that I want to “call out” in a positive light, and hope to be right about is…
Anyone who reads my blog knows how much respect I have for this guy. And that is simply because I have said multiple times that I have so much respect for him. I don’t do this to garner respect from Yankee fans. I do this because I believe it. I believe he plays the game in a way that should be commended, emulated.
I don’t want to go into it all that much as to why I like the way Jeter plays the game. I just do. His mental prowess. His “respect” for the game. His ability, and understanding, as to why a batter should hit to all fields. Etc, etc, etc. Derek Jeter has had a great career, period.
Both he and Ichrio play hard, and play with a sense of pride, a sense that they can do anything on a baseball diamond. These are players that hopefully subscribed to ARod’s “never felt overmatched on the baseball field” theory. And hopefully the aforementioned duo of players subscribed and held up to that standard regarding PED’s (refraining from partaking in the unnatural enhancement).
Again, no one is dismissing anyone. But I like to believe that Ichiro Suzuki and Derke Jeter went about things the right way, in an era when many chose to do it the wrong way.