I hope this is a weekly column moving forward, but we will see. Maybe a little more often, maybe a little less, but we still would love to hear some feedback.
I am a Cleveland Indians homer. Sometimes it is hard for me to be objective about the guys on my team, but this is not a case like that. In this case, I am here to shout down and curb stomp all who stand in my way on this issue. The stats are on my side, most of the advanced metrics are on my side, and common sense is on my side. If you are on the opposite side, I am going to steamroll you with piping hot logic. Enjoy your last moments.
If Asdrubal Cabrera is not the starting shortstop for the AL All-Star team, there is something beyond wrong.
Batting Average: .295 (2nd among those who have played 50 games)
Slugging Pct: .498 (2nd among those who have played 50 games)
OBP: .339 (3rd among those who have played 50 games)
SB: 11 (4th)
HR: 12 (1st)
RBI: 43 (1st)
Total Bases: 147 (1st by a landslide)
Line Drive Pct: almost 20%
Jhonny Peralta is the only guy having a better offensive season than Asdrubal, and he doesn’t play SS sometimes because he is god awful in the field. Asdrubal is a monster in the field, and while his range is not the tops in the leagues, he is still very good defensively and is so so smooth. Notice Derek Jeter isn’t even in this discussion. Why? Because he is mediocre at best defensively, hitting .260, an OPS a mile below Asdrubal’s, and is really not better in any way. Now Asdrubal will probably end up starting anyway because of Jeter’s injury, but that is not enough for me. That no one would just freely vote for this man is an absolute crime.
Alright, let’s talk about the other things that matter, statistically measurable or not. For about the last 20 days, Asdrubal Cabrera has been the only Indian hitting in the midst of a team-wide slump. He has been single-handedly responsible for a good deal of the wins during that stretch, and a few statistics show it. His WAR (an accumulated statistic meaning Wins Above Replacement) is 2.6 already (Jeter’s is 0.5). Just as a reference point, Albert Pujols’ WAR is 2.3 this year. Oh, and this doesn’t really matter to All-Star voting, but more so just to because it shocked me when I heard it: HE IS ONLY 25!
Rant over, go vote on MLB.com and don’t be the anti-christ by voting on years past and not this year’s stats.
There is not really any context for this one that naturally came up in a game, so let me set a scene for you. The 3-4-5 hitters are coming up against you in the 8th, and you are up 5-3. Their 6-7-8-9 hitters are nothing special, and basically just about what you would expect. Would you bring the closer in for the 8th to face the better hitters and let your setup man take the 9th with the weaker hitters? If not, why not? You usually give the closer the 9th because it is the biggest pressure inning for the team and he can handle the heat, but how is the 9th not the real pressure inning there? Let;s go Indians-Tigers just for the example here. My Tribe up a couple runs, Boesch-Miggy-VMart coming up, and I just pulled Josh Tomlin. Some combination of Raburn, Ordonez, and Avila will follow. I could see going with Tony Sipp (a lefty) to mess with Miggy a little and turn Victor around to the right side, but I still think I like bringing in closer Chris Perez right then and there. THAT is the moment you need to shut them down, not in the 9th when the big bats are already done. I am not sure who will do it, but there has got to be some MLB manager who would do this, no? The lefty-righty difference matters a lot here, but just generally speaking, isn’t it hard to consider not bringing in your shutdown guy for the inning you need shut down most? I get it if you have the Astros bullpen or something, but given the situation I gave you, wouldn’t you bring in the closer?
Even as a bit of an old-timer, that seems like a move I cannot really argue with. Anyone have a counter-argument for me? Comment!
The Marlin Mash
This is pretty incredible futility, but let’s not get crazy here. during this horrible stretch, they have faced the following pitchers: Gallardo, Greinke, Hanson, Jurrjens, Hamels, Halladay, Lee, Shields, Weaver, and a handful of over-achieving Arizona pitchers (sorry D-Backs fans). That is beyond brutal, and they are still losing close games (a Leo Nunez blown save seems to stick out in particular). Hanley Ramirez is playing like Andy Marte, Josh Johnson is on the 60 day DL, and very little is going right for the Fightin’ Fish. Even the McKeon hire seemed a little panicked.
The point? The Marlins are not as dead as they seem, but were never going to make the playoffs in that division anyway. Stanton and Morrison are still up-and-coming stars, Hanley can’t really be this bad, and as long as McKeon doesn’t drop dead in the dugout, there is hope for this team moving forward.
Originally, I was going to tell Marlins fans to calm down about the skid, which is pretty horrendous, but then I realized something important. I am not sure if there is such a thing as a Marlins fan. Ok, maybe there is a “Marlins Fan” but I am not sure about them collectively. The top Google search for “Marlins Blog” leads you to the SportsBlog Nation page Fish Stripes and the second is Marlins Diehards, who has fewer Facebook Likes than this humble blog. I am not going to pile on here, I am just saying that unless the fans dress up as orange seats, there are never any fans there and few in Florida seem to have eyes for baseball. The point is that the Marlins are ok, they are just having an incredible run of bad luck and a little bad play that is snowballing on them like few teams have ever seen. If you are in Miami and care about baseball, calm down and go for a walk on the beach.
Well, except this loser clown. Ok, he isn’t a loser AND a clown, but when you wear a Yankees hat at an Indians game, you had better never wear another hat or else Indians fans, such as myself, will spit roast you like a doner kebab. I’m not even going to joke around about not being bitter, because I am. Teal is ugly and the letter F is for Fail, LeBron.
Aaaaaanyway, let’s move on so we can stay somewhat on topic.
The best team in baseball is the Boston Red Sox. The highest paid team right now is the New York Yankees. The most interesting? The Seattle Mariners. We all knew about King Felix, and most of us knew about Michael Pineda. We knew Justin Smoak could hit, knew Dustin Ackley (Utley 2.0?) would make an appearance in the bigs, and that there were some solid contributors on the roster, but they “missed the train”. They were supposed to break through last year with Felix and Cliff Lee and new addition Chone Figgins, but they didn’t have anyone to drive in runs other than asylum-patient, Mr. Boardgame, Milton Bradley. That just doesn’t work. However, for whatever reason, we assumed that because that year passed that they would be done for a while and that has turned out to be completely false. With the pressure off, and the light still on, the Mariners are suddenly right in the race for the AL West as the Rangers have struggled to put it all together. Felix is even under-achieving right now, and they still have Pineda, Bedard, Fister and Vargas posting low ERAs to keep them in every game despite a less-than-star-studded lineup. All their FIPs indicate they might be in for a bit of a tough run, but if they find a way to add a bat, this team could get even more interesting. The fans are turning out in droves and a little bit of excitement and energy in a ballpark can go a long long way. We know they are willing to spend a little dough (signing Cliff Lee comes to mind) so go find that bat and see where it takes you. Hell, just take a chance, your city is suffering. Do something. Anything. Too early to really know who is available or unavailable because so many teams are still in the running, but if Jack Zduriencik (Seattle’s GM and now the answer to a trivia question, is not looking for a bat as I write this, he deserves to be chopped up like fish at Pike’s Place.
Alright that is all for this week. Suggestions? Comments? We want to hear them all! Let us know.