Tuesday, May 12, 2009
MLB '09 So Far - The Good
We're about 20% of the way through the baseball season, and I figured it would be a decent time to see who's doing what so far. We'll start with "the good" today. Here are the guys I think have had the most impressive '09 so far, by position (numbers prior to Monday's action):
C – Victor Martinez (Indians)
Sure he splits time between catcher and first base, but he has logged 65 AB so far behind the plate. Overall, he’s hitting .376 6/19 with an impressive .456 OBP. His numbers are pretty even across the board at both positions, but his BA “drops” to .369 as a catcher.
(Worth mentioning – Kurt Suzuki (A’s) – His 11 doubles leads all ML catchers.)
1B – Albert Pujols (Cardinals)
This one is pretty close, but I’ve got to go with the best hitter in the game. He’s the most dangerous AB in the baseball, every pitcher knows it, yet he’s still second in the game with 12 homers. (At 1B) He’s tops in runs scored (by 9), first in RBI, and has a whopping 5 steals already.
(Worth mentioning – Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox) – Before going out with oblique and back issues, Youkilis compiled .393/.505/.719 (BA/OBP/SLG) numbers which are tops in each category.)
2B – Aaron Hill (Blue Jays)
He came into the year a bit underrated IMO, but he’s shed that label for good. After missing most of last year recovering from a pretty rough concussion, Hill leads all second basemen with a .353 BA and is third in homers (8). Although this year’s numbers don’t show it, he’s a fine fielder as well. He’s a big reason the Blue Jays lead the AL in wins.
(Worth mentioning – Ian Kinzler (Rangers) – He started off blazing but has only 2 homers and 8 RBI so far in May. Still, he’s second in homers, RBI, and steals.)
SS – Hanley Ramirez (Marlins)
It’s a two man race here, and Ramirez comes out on top. His .348/.421/.598 split along with 6 homers and 19 RBI are very impressive numbers for one of the game’s best youngsters. I guess he doesn’t mind hitting third. He may not see 50 steals this year, but he’ll hit well over .300 and smash his career RBI high (81).
(Worth mentioning – Jason Bartlett (Rays) – He’s the only SS with a higher BA (.351) and is an impressive bottom of the order catalyst for the Rays.)
3B – Evan Longoria (Rays)
No contest. The guy has a .358/.410/.748 split (the latter blasting the rest of the field by at least .150). Add in his 11 homers and 44 RBI which dwarf the rest of the field, and you’re looking at the future AL MVP (IMO). I think he wins it running away this year.
(Worth mentioning – Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) – He’s riding a solid 28 game hitting streak and is well on the way to smashing his career power and average numbers.)
LF – Ryan Braun (Brewers)
You lose points when you’re suspended for cheating, so sorry Manram. Braun’s numbers are just as impressive as Ramirez’s anyways, with a .345/.463/.627 split. He also has two more homers (8 vs. 6) and 8 more RBI (28 vs. 20). Imagine how good he’d be if he had a decent BB/K ratio.
(Worth mentioning – Carl Crawford (Rays) – His 22 steals lead the majors by 7 (a real lost art of the game if you ask me); he’ll put up 100 this year if he feels like it. Getting on base nearly 40% of the time helps.)
CF – Adam Jones (Orioles)
He’s tied for the ML lead in runs scored (33) with his teammate, Nick Markaikis, and has taken his game to a level a lot of people thought he could reach. It’s still early, but a .358 BA at the age of 23 is something to keep your eyes on. I smell perennial All Star. Jones is in a great spot in the O’s lineup, hitting between Brian Roberts and Markaikis. I seriously think he’ll be a 30-30 guy in a year. That .358 BA will be tough to maintain, but he’s off to a great start.
(Worth mentioning – Carlos Beltran (Mets) – He’s scored 14 less times than Jones, but a .371 BA and .463 OBP are hard to ignore. That and his 6 homers and 24 RBI tell me he’s adapting quite well to Citi Field.)
RF – Nick Markaikis (Orioles)
Surprised? He leads all RF in RBI with 30 and his .352 BA has given him a comfortable lead in that category. He’s another young (25) Oriole slugger who didn’t quite make the leap many expected last season. Though like Zimmerman, Markaikis is well on his way to setting career highs this year. Now, if only the Orioles didn’t have the AL’s 3rd worst ERA (starters and bullpen well over 5), 2nd fewest quality starts (11; KC has 18), and worst BA against (.294), they might not be in the AL East’s cellar.
(Worth mentioning – Justin Upton (Diamondbacks) – He might not be a popular pick, but after a .250 April BA, Upton’s hitting over .400 and getting on base literally half the time in the month of May. I expected a big year from him, and he’s definitely getting on track.)
Starting Pitcher – Zack Greinke (Royals)
It took a 1-0 loss against the Angels to break up his undefeated (6-0) start. He was expected to take it up a notch this year, but no one expected him to jump out to a 0.51 ERA in his first 7 starts. That’s nuts. He seems like a lock to top his career high of 13 wins, could make a serious run at 25 if he keeps this up, and has early dibs on the 1st inning of the All Star game.
(Worth mentioning – Johan Santana (Mets) – Prior to Monday’s game, all 6 of Santana’s previous starts on the season were 1 run contests, with the Mets never scoring any more than 3. He’s 4-1, but with a little support, he would have numbers approaching Grienke’s fabulous start.)
Closer – Frank Francisco (Rangers)
He’s 9 for 9 in save chances and has yet to give up a run on the year. That’s quite an accomplishment on its own, but it means even more when you consider he’s pitched half of those innings in Arlington. Those numbers should come back to earth a bit, but no one can argue with his start. They’ll need him to maintain if they want to continue leading the AL West.
(Worth mentioning – Jonathan Broxton (Dodgers) – Gotta mention Johnny Double D. Dude throws 100 mph and doesn’t mind telling you it’s coming. He has 8 saves and one slip up on the year and is far and away the leader in strikeouts with 27.)
How would that lineup look?
1) Hanley Ramirez, SS
2) Adam Jones, CF
3) Albert Pujols, 1B
4) Evan Longoria, 3B
5) Ryan Braun, LF
6) Nick Markaikis, RF
7) Victor Martinez, C
8) Aaron Hill, 2B
I think that 8 could win a few games. Got a better lineup?