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NL West: Midseason All-Stars
The pandering for All-Star Game votes has gotten a little out of control in parts of the country, don't you think? Just last week on the radio, Dodgers announcers Rick Monday and Jerry Reuss let us know about an official organizational bribe to get people to vote for the local boys -- coupons and discounts and such, with more of it coming your way the more you stuffed the ballot box. My current apathy toward voting (the opposite of how I felt a decade ago) is on the verge of turning into a boycott.
Nevertheless, I have been curious who the best players in the division closest to home have been this year. I thought it might be fun to see what an All-Star team just from the NL West would look like. Here's what I came up with:
Catcher: While playing in 71 of the Dodgers' 75 games -- almost unreal for a backstop -- Russell Martin of the Dodgers has been consistently above average as a hitter. Only the slightest dip has begun to register in June, but Martin has still produced an Equivalent Average of .293 according to Baseball Prospectus (where .260 is the norm). Martin is also on pace to steal a remarkable 28 bases in 32 attempts, while throwing out a third of those attempting to steal against him.
First base: In a close call with Colorado's Todd Helton, we'll give the slightest edge to Adrian Gonzalez of San Diego, mainly because the Padre has been mostly going it alone as a major offensive threat in his team's lineup. Certainly, a case could be made for Helton, who has a .443 on-base percentage and a .326 EQA. But when you factor in park effects, Gonzalez has been just about as productive, with a .317 EQA and a .512 slugging percentage playing in San Diego's offensively challenged Petco Park. For a team that relies on pitching, Gonzalez is the man that keeps the offense from disappearing.
Second base: Arizona's Orlando Hudson gets the nod over the Dodgers' Jeff Kent here. Hudson, with an on-base percentage of .383 and a slugging percentage of .469, has had the superior offensive season (a .300 EQA compared to Kent's .284). Defensively, Kent is still giving it his best shot at age 39, but it's hard to place him in Hudson's class.
Shortstop: Not the NL West's strongest category, especially with Rafael Furcal of the Dodgers dropping off offensively and Stephen Drew (Arizona) and Omar Vizquel (San Francisco) disappearing. Khalil Greene of San Diego has come on after a slow start with a June OPS of .898, but I'm giving Troy Tulowitzki of Colorado the midseason prize. The 22-year-old has an OPS+ of 95 while playing solid defense.
Third base: If Mark Reynolds (120 OPS+) and Chad Tracy (131) of Arizona were one person, this position would be a slam dunk. Each has turned in a nice offensive performance, with Reynolds a pleasant surprise filling in while Tracy missed four weeks worth of games. Arguably, Garret Atkins (85 OPS+) should get the honors here by default just from surviving the entire season at the position without being a total disaster, but even though Tracy has been playing some first base since his return from the disabled list, we'll pencil him in at the hot corner.
Left field: While Matt Holliday of the Rockies has positioned himself as a potential MVP candidate for the division (.399 on-base percentage, .599 slugging percentage, 154 OPS+), there isn't much avoiding the fact that Barry Bonds wins here. Even though the longtime Giant has had home-run droughts this year, pitchers still fear him more than perhaps any other hitter in the NL West. His on-base percentage is .500, his slugging percentage is .586 and he has 15 homers -- two more than Holliday. Bonds' OPS+ is 189. While Bonds' intentional walk total might go down if he batted in Colorado's lineup and his defense reveals his age, Bonds remains the division's scariest left fielder.
Center field: Always a top defensive center fielder, Mike Cameron of San Diego is holding his own offensively as well (although his best competition in the division, Willy Taveras of Colorado, isn't much to text home about). Cameron (104 OPS+) has an on-base percentage of .322 and a slugging percentage of .428 -- not impressive on the surface, but again, remember how San Diego's home park favors pitching.
Right field: The Rockies' Brad Hawpe is the easy choice here -- which is nice, because I've slighted the other big Colorado hitters, Helton and Holliday. The Third H has a 134 OPS+ (.383 on-base percentage, .532 slugging percentage). His stats don't match Holliday's, but there's no Bonds competing against him in right field; the best alternative is Andre Ethier of the Dodgers (102 OPS+). One of the annual leaders in outfield assists over the past couple of years, racking up 16 last season, Hawpe is on pace for nine this year. I can't confirm this, but I suspect word has spread not to test his arm.
Starting pitcher: The battle between Jake Peavy of the Padres and Brad Penny of the Dodgers have been neck-and-neck all season, but provisionally, we'll leave it to Peaver. That's true even though Brad Penny slipped ahead of Peavy in park-adjusted ERA, according to Baseball-Reference.com, 205 to 187, after Peavy allowed three runs in a five-inning start against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday -- Peavy's shortest outing of the season. In fact, Peavy even trails teammate Chris Young in ERA now, 2.14 to 2.08. But Peavy has been the dominant starter in the division if not the league, striking out 113 batters in 105 innings while allowing 116 baserunners and just one home run. Penny just misses out in this battle of the superb.
Set-up man: Heath Bell of the Padres began the season with one run allowed in his first 20 2/3 innings. His idea of a slump has been for his ERA since that time to be 2.49. For the year, he has struck out 47 in 42 1/3 innings while allowing 38 baserunners, and has stranded 12 of 16 inherited runners. In 35 appearances, he has one blown save and one loss.
Closer: The Dodgers' Takashi Saito is still working in the shadow of Padres closer Trevor Hoffman -- and still outpitching him. While Hoffman has had another fine season, Saito has actually done the unthinkable -- make Los Angeles fans not miss Eric Gagne. In 31 innings, Saito has struck out 40 and walked three. He has allowed 26 baserunners and five runs for a 1.45 ERA, converting 20 of 21 save opportunities.
Labels: NL West
posted by SI.com | View comments |
Ridiculous! You picked three outfielders and Eric Byrnes doesn't even get an honorable mention? Yet, you still manage plug Barry Bonds who's fielding is laughable and has generally worse hitting stats than Byrnes.
Umm, Barry has an OBP of .500. He's played ridiculous this year.
andrew, Matt Holliday is beating out Eric Byrnes no matter what.
Don't forget about Scott Linebrink and Kevin Cameron too in that packed Padres bullpen.
In what way does Bonds have worse hitting stats than Byrnes?
I am pretty sure Brad Penny's ERA is actually straight up lower than Peavy, ball park adjusted or otherwise. Additionally, Penny has only one loss and ten wins- the only pitcher in the NL with ten wins, and the one loss being against the Angles, obviously a quality team. Say what you want about peavy, they are both deserving, but Penny should be the starter.
Um, Byrnes is leading the D'backs in home runs(13), RBIs(43), runs scored(48), hits(98), stolen bases(14), triples(5), batting average(.312), OBP(.363), and slugging(.516), for an OPS of .878. Byrnes is also 2nd in the NL among outfielders with 98 hits. He hasn't even grounded into a double play all year. Byrnes is leading the NL West-leading D-backs in EVERY OFFENSIVE CATEGORY except for walks and doubles.
Bonds has a lower BA(.294), fewer runs scored(38), fewer hits(55), no triples, fewer doubles, two more homers(15), fewer RBIs(35), but a higher OBP(.504) and higher slugging(.578) for an overall higher OPS of 1.081. He also has fewer stolen bases(5) and has grounded into 7 double plays. Besides, he doesn't play every game the way he used to.
Part of his high OBP is the fact that there's nobody else scary batting for San Fran, so it doesn't hurt to walk him.
Bonds has the advantage in HRs, OBP, slugging, walks, and OPS. Byrnes has the advantage in BA, RBIs, runs scored, hits, doubles,(8 for Barry vs 15 for Byrnes) triples, stolen bags, and GDPs.
Bonds is playing on a last place team. Byrnes is on a first place team. I don't know that either should be chosen over the other based on raw numbers, but Byrnes is also a sparkplug and a wizard that can seemingly create runs out of thin air. If you want to put Barry in your outfield, fine, but Eric Byrnes deserves at least a mention.
Not sure about Byrnes, but I would have put Chris Young in Center.
RIDICULOUS!!! I don't understand how you have the choice between Todd Helton & Adrian Gonzalez @ 1B here. Have you not heard of Prince Fielder this year?? Or how about a guy named Chase Utley @ 2B?? UUUUNBELIEVABLE!! @ SS you put a ROOKIE passing up Jose Reyes & Sophomore sensation Hanley Ramirez!! I'm die hard Yankee fan but anyone with baseball sense knows Reyes & Hanley hit the ball, run & play defense better then any rookie! C'mon guy!! I won't even touch on the fact that you Mike Cameron in the OF. When's the last time anyone got to play in the all-star game hitting a sub .265 batting average & decent defense?!?!? Yon don't mention Byrnes, Griffey, Carlos Lee, Soriano or rookies Hunter Pence or Corey Hart!! Get some baseball sense & learn some #'s will ya? Geeze..
As it clearly states, this was for the NL West only.
AL East blog (Monday)
NL West blog (Monday)
AL Central blog (Tuesday)
NL Central blog (Wednesday)
AL West blog (Thursday)
NL East blog (Thursday)
Wild Card (Friday)