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.
As I was lying in my bed, drifting to sleep–and by drifting to sleep I mean thinking about baseball, which happens from time to time–I was reminded, by my own thoughts, of something Bill James wrote in what I believe was his 2008 abstract. James said “I’m not saying that Magglio Ordonez was the MVP, I am simply saying that I am surprised that he did not get more support.” That is not an exact quote, I read those abstracts at Barnes and Noble, rather than actually buying them. But it is a little bit odd that Magglio Ordonez only received two first place votes after the 2007 season. Alex Rodriguez was the more deserving candidate; A 3B with an OPS+ 10% better than that of a corner OF, well, you do the math, and don’t forget to make the positional adjustment while you are at it. But Magglio batted .363 and won the batting title that season. And to add to that, the Tigers were a good team and weren’t far from the playoffs. Granted, the Yankees actually made the playoffs, so the voters gave bonus points to Rodriguez for that, but it wasn’t as though Magglio played great on a poor team.
Alex Rodriguez was the best player in baseball that season, all of baseball, not just the league in which he played in. But two things: Magglio Ordonez was actually a better candidate than some people made him out to be. It wasn’t as though they created Magglio as a “bad” candidate, just that the separation between he and Rodriguez seemed to be probably more than it should have been, in regards to reputation and voting. The second thing is that any stats that take into account all-around game, offense and defense, show that Ordonez and Rodriguez weren’t really that far apart. They were apart, but not so far that it was as clear-cut as everyone seemed to think.
Bill James was on to something though, as he typically is. As he thinks and I think too, Alex Rdoriguez WAS the MVP of that season. But a hitter who bats .363 and hits for plenty of power on a winning team isn’t exactly unworthy. And it is even more confusing why MVP voters who have always taken into account batting average, seemingly, all of a sudden ignored it. And it isn’t helping Joe Mauer any, if they keep this philosophy up, that is for sure. But then again, voters have always been enthralled with the Home Run, too, so maybe it isn’t that confusing to begin with.