Posts Tagged ‘Chase Utley’

Second base is always home to diverse spread of talents. From speedsters, to glove-first space swallowers and a few outright power conduits, there is something for everybody on second.

Cano14

 

With all things considered however, the position is experiencing a deeper than normal talent pool around the league. There will be several players that are both major award winners and even All-Stars from a year ago that struggled to make the final cut for this year’s top 10 or missed it altogether. Yet most likely, when I turn my attention to the overall Top 100 players in the game in March, there could be 10-13 second basemen that make it. It is just that deep of a talent pool right now.

So without any further delay, here are the top 10 second basemen in the game. With plenty of shake up, but still starting in the same place it annually does….

1. Robinson Cano, Mariners (#1 in 2014): He has been the best in the business at his position for the last half-decade, and one year into his tenure in Seattle and there are no signs of that changing yet. While his power numbers took the expected Safeco dip, Cano turned in his usual outstanding overall offering at the plate. He turned in his sixth-straight year over .300, while stealing a career high of 10 bases as well. He annually makes a 6+ level of Wins Above Replacement impact and shows no signs of wavering at age 32.

2-year average: .314 average/.868 OPS/20 HR/94 RBI/39 doubles/188 hits/.989 Fld%

2. Ian Kinsler, Tigers (#6 in ’14): He has long been one of the most productive second basemen in the game, but Kinsler turned in one of his finest performances to date in 2014. Atop the potent Tiger lineup, he set new career-highs in hits (188) and RBI (92), while scoring 100 runs, hitting 17 home runs and 40 doubles. Tack on a fantastic defensive campaign as well, and he solidly reaffirmed himself as the best non-Cano second sacker in the game.

2-year average: .276 average/.740 OPS/15 HR/82 RBI/36 doubles/15 stolen bases/.983 Fld%

3. Jose Altuve, Astros (#10 in ’14): The Houston’s mighty mite leader had a huge breakout campaign in 2014, leading the MLB in batting average (.341) and hits (225), while topping the AL in stolen bases with 56. He played a part in pulling the Astros out of the abyss they had sat in over the past three years and made his second All-Star Game over the span as well.

2-year average: .313 average/.756 OPS/6 HR/56 RBI/39 doubles/46 stolen bases/.986 Fld%

4. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox (#2 in ’14): While his offensive took a slide in ’14, he remains perhaps the best infield defender in the game today. The rangy and fearless Pedroia took home his second Gold Glove in as many years, raising the overall total to four for the former MVP, Rookie of the Year and two-time World Champ. If he can uptick his batting average back up closer to his career average of .299, the BoSox will be in a much better place.

2-year average: .290 average/.752 OPS/8 HR/68 RBI/38 doubles/12 stolen bases/.995 Fld%

zobrist-ben

5. Ben Zobrist, Athletics (#5 in ’14): The ultimate utility man has made his frequent home at second base over the past two years, so he’ll check in here once again. And while he does not have one particular area that he produces an eye popping result in, he does everything at a steady pace. He reached 150 hits, 30 doubles, 10 home runs, 50 RBI, 10 stolen bases and a .350 on-base percentage for the fourth straight year, and will bring a much needed steadying presence to his new home in Oakland.

2-year average: .273 average/.753 OPS/11 HR/62 RBI/35 doubles/10 stolen bases/.986 Fld%

6. Howie Kendrick, Dodgers (#8 in ’14): He will be switching sides of town from Anaheim to Chavez Ravine this summer, but it would be a safe bet to count on Kendrick to keep up the same steady—and annually underrated—level of play. He set a career-high in hits (181) and tied-RBI (75), while topping .290 for the second straight year.

2-year average: .295 average/.758 OPS/10 HR/64 RBI/27 doubles/10 stolen bases/.983 Fld%

7. Neil Walker, Pirates (Not Ranked): He swings a bat that is border line out of place at his position. Walker connected for 23 home runs and taking home the National League second base Silver Slugger. He became the Pirates cleanup hitter over the course of the year in response to his more powerful bat, and is also one of the most effective fielders in either league up the middle as well.

2-year average: .262 average/.784 OPS/20 HR/64 RBI/24 doubles/2 stolen bases/.990 Fld%

8. Chase Utley, Phillies (Not Ranked): He put the game on notice some a year ago that he still had it, and turned in the sort of well-rounded performance that is befitting of himself at this point in his career. Playing in the most games he has since 2009, Utley drove in 78 runs, posted 36 doubles and rebounded well from a horrendous 2013 in the field. In the process he reaffirmed the fact that while he no longer is the MVP-candidate he was early in his career, he still is at an All-Star caliber level.

2-year average: .276 average/.781 OPS/14 HR/74 RBI/30 doubles/9 stolen bases/.978 Fld%

9. Jason Kipnis, Indians (#4 in ’14):Injuries stole much of Kipnis’ thunder he carried coming in last season, but he remains a diverse talent capable of impacting a game in many ways. He has stolen 83 bases over the past three years and if he gets his power stroke back, Kipnis could be the final piece the emergent Indians need to return to the postseason.

2-year average: .263 average/.735 OPS/12 HR/62 RBI/30 doubles/26 stolen bases/.985 Fld%

10. Brian Dozier, Twins (Not Ranked): Dozier followed up a noticeable jump forward in his second season with a major one in year three. He joined the 20/20 club by taking 23 balls over the fence and swiping 21 bases, while scoring 112 runs as well. All in all, he is on the verge of beginning to push for All-Star notice, even within the current crowded second base scene in the AL.

2-year average: .243 average/.745 OPS/20 HR/68 RBI/33 doubles/18 stolen bases/.986 Fld%

 

Runners Up: Dee Gordon, D.J. LeMahieu, Brandon Phillips, Daniel Murphy

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Chase_Utley

It’s spring training, and it’s time to break in the season with the greatest debate in any sport: Who’s the best at it? And in the case of Major League Baseball, which has the longest marathon to crowning its champ, there are a lot of players to consider.

Who’s truly trending up, holding their places and standing among the rest in the game of baseball right now? This week, I’ll be working my way from the 100th best down to who is the best of all 750 players from all 30 MLB clubs today. The challenge is justifying and explaining it all along the way. The point is to determine the best player in baseball, not who had the best season or best career currently. It’s about finding the balance between statistics, talent, performance, consistency and potential impact on the upcoming year as well. Not an easy task, but I’m going for it.

We will get to breakdowns by position, who’s taken the biggest steps forward, and backward, as well as which teams have the most representation on this countdown as the week goes on, but for now … let’s get to it: the top 100 players in baseball for 2013.

 

100. Allen Craig – First Base – St. Louis Cardinals: After returning from a knee injury in early May, Craig went on a tear. He hit .400 with runners in scoring position for the season and added 35 doubles while driving in 92 runs in 119 games.

99. Miguel Montero – Catcher – Arizona Diamondbacks: The D’Backs backstop is one of the more underrated catchers in the game. He set career highs in batting average (.286), RBI (88) and on-base percentage (.391, third best in the National League) last summer.

98. Chase Utley – Second Base – Philadelphia Phillies: Utley proved he may have finally shaken off knee woes that had slowed him since 2010. The five-time all-star put up nearly identical 2012 totals as he did in 2011, only in 20 fewer games.

97. Victor Martinez – Designated Hitter – Detroit Tigers: V-Mart will return from an ACL injury that sidelined him for the Tigers’ entire 2012 season. A .303 career hitter who drove in 103 runs in 2011, he will join with the Cabrera-Fielder duo to form potentially the best heart of any lineup in baseball.

96. Dan Haren – Pitcher – Washington Nationals: There were few workhorses who have pulled a heavier load than him, but it caught up a year ago. The six-time winner of 14 games or more wore down in Anaheim last summer and couldn’t be himself. Now well-rested and back in the National League, he’ll be a part of the best rotation in baseball….

 

That’s just the beginning, and the best (literally) is yet to come. The rest of the #100-76 part 1, head over the Sports Fan Journal to get the low down here: http://www.thesportsfanjournal.com/sports/baseball/the-2013-top-100-players-in-baseball-part-1/

 

And for the debate in real time, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan

Welcome back to the CHEAP.SEATS’ week that was around the MLB. As usual, the lineup reads as power poll (with comparison to last week’s poll), the THREE UP/DOWN of the news around the each league, followed by a brief look at the best, the new and a bit of the worst in the around the game headed into the new week.

 

THE MLB 1-30 POWER POLL (Division Leaders in Bold)

Chase Utley and the Phillies are getting healthier...while already having the league's best mark.

1. Philadelphia Phillies (same)

2. Boston Red Sox (same)

3. New York Yankees (same)

4. Texas Rangers (same)

5. Atlanta Braves (6)

6. Milwaukee Brewers (9)

7. San Francisco Giants (5)

8. Los Angeles Angels (13)

9. Arizona D’Backs (11)

10. Detroit Tigers (7)

11. St. Louis Cardinals (8)

12. Tampa Bay Rays (10)

13. New York Mets (17)

14. Toronto Blue Jays (16)

15. Pittsburgh Pirates (12)

16. Cleveland Indians (14)

17. Cincinnati Reds (15)

18. Florida Marlins (19)

19. Chicago White Sox (18)

20. Colorado Rockies (22)

21. Washington Nationals (20)

22. Minnesota Twins (21)

23. Los Angeles Dodgers (same)

24. Oakland A’s (same)

25. San Diego Padres (same)

26. Kansas City Royals (27)

27. Chicago Cubs (26)

28. Baltimore Orioles (same)

29. Seattle Mariners (same)

30. Houston Astros (same)

 

This week in THREE UP/THREE DOWN, the biggest winners and losers among the playoff contenders are singled out for what they walked away from the trade deadline with. Who made the moves to play catch up or to further protect their spot, as well as who wasted opportunities to get stronger for a push over the last two months of the year.

THREE UP

Pence is a the perfect example of the rich getting richer and the Phils intent to go for it all.

1. Philadelphia Phillies – The rich continue to get richer. In adding Hunter Pence to their outfield, the Phillies now start a current or former All-Star at seven of their eight starting spots, and put a dangerous right handed bat behind Ryan Howard, a season-long need after the departure of Jayson Werth. This acquisition just makes their lineup potentially just as dangerous as their pitching, and furthers their standing as the games most complete team.

2. Texas Rangers – The club was committed to digging into the Padres treasure chest of relievers, and especially at Heath Bell. In the end they landed his former setup man, and arguably, the more desirable target. Mike Adams was stated as being off the trade block earlier in the week, but the Rangers upped the ante as the deadline drew closer and netted what could be their closer of the future. Along with the acquisition of Koji Uehara to the end of games, the Rangers are now a six inning proposition if they are ahead.

3. Cleveland Indians – The Indians said they were going to go for it during the deadline, and nobody going in expected them to be as serious as they came out being. Landing Ubaldo Jimenez to add a frontline starter to their rotation and Kosuke Fukodome for outfield depth shows that they were more ready to stay in the race than any other club that has lost ground over the last month. In the process, they kept both of their top two young talents in Jason Kepnis and Lonnie Chisenhall as well.

 

THREE DOWN

Verlander narrowly missed his second no-hitter of the season on Sunday.

1. Los Angeles Angels – Their terrible year on the personnel front continues, first taking on the burden of Vernon Wells’ contract last winter, and now within striking range of the Rangers (who were far from quiet) they failed to make any upgrades to either their anemic offense or back end of their bullpen.

2. Cincinnati Reds – Declared as “definite buyers” by GM Walt Jocketty, the only move they mustered was grabbing some minor prospects for Jonny Gomes. In a very much still to be decided NL Central, this failure to act could guarantee them to be onlookers the rest of the way.

3. Arizona Diamondbacks – They are still very much in the picture in the NL West race, but only managing to land Jason Marquis and Brad Zeigler aren’t exact moves that scream “takeover coming soon.”

 

 

HITS AND RUNS – AUGUST 1

Biggest Lead: Phillies – 6 games, NL East

Smallest Lead: 3 teams tied at 2

Leading Hitter: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox (.357)

Top 3 Sluggers: Jose Bautista –Blue Jays (31), Mark Teixeira –Yankees (29), Lance Berkman –Cardinals, Curtis Granderson –Yankees (28)

Most Wins: Justin Verlander –Tigers & CC Sabathia –Yankees (15)

Top Stopper: Brian Wilson –Giants (33)

Biggest Debut: Jacob Turner –Tigers (July 30th)

Best/Worst Record: Phillies (68-39, .636%)/Astros (35-75, .324%)

 

For more on the day-to-day hit and misses on the MLB, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan and @STLSport 360.

It’s All-Star Time again in Major League Baseball, and the votes are in the rosters released. Actually, last year, this was the first baseball article I ever wrote for the CHEAP.SEATS, back in the original Tumblr format. I went on to expand that idea over here as well, picking both league’s best players for the 2010 game, which is always an experience in both “I told you so” and it’s rival reaction, “Are you serious??”

This year was no different in either league, with some varying extremes along the way. Many of the National League’s foremost players have been crippled by injuries, and are either out for the season, sidelined or just getting back into the swing of things now. So the outlook for that side of the diamond is much different by force of nature. The American League has taken on a more familiar look than it’s opponent does, however it has become far more competitive across the board in 2011 and has a raise in newly qualified players that are challenging the standard bearers at many positions.

Chase Utley has managed only 36 games due to injury this year, is one of several All-Star regulars to miss this year's contest.

So what is new and what has changed? Where did the fans get it right and where did the usual pitfalls of voting for the most familiar name, over the most production for THIS season, go wrong? For the answers to those issues and my picks for each league’s best, head over to my column on ST. Louis Sports 360 and check out my columns and analysis on how each league’s roster SHOULD look, as well as my picks for the most qualified Final Vote candidates from what’s left. As the ASG approaches, and the replacements are picked for pitching opt-outs and injuries, I’ll give my complete analysis on the biggest snubs of for this year’s Midsummer Classic (I want to at least give Bruce Bochy and Ron Washington a chance to right their wrongs).

For the National League click here

and…

For the American League click here

 

Enjoy, comment and check back for more original CSP and STL 360 content from me here on the daily.

 

Follow me on Twitter for more on the takes and mistakes of the baseball world (and the general world as well) at @CheapSeatFan and @STLSport360