Sunday, February 28, 2010

AL West Preview--Part One

So with the Spring Training games starting Today, I felt it was time to preview the season and make some predictions for the upcoming season. I also devised a system for doing this. Starting with this post i'm going to look at each division and see how they stack on a position by position basis from top to bottom. The point system for this will be golf-style (i.e. the lower the score the better i.e. the strongest team by position gets 1 point, 2 points for second, etc......this will be the scoring system for position players......)

For Pitching (Part Two of each divisional post) the scoring will be adjusted to equalize for hitting and pitching. For the AL, the scoring will go 4.5, 9, 13.5, etc. from best to worst for starting rotation and the bullpens (Note: In the NL it will be 4, 8, 12......)

With Further Ado, here are my rankings for the AL West


Kurt Suzuki-1
Jarod Saltalamacchia-2
Jeff Mathis-3
Rob Johnson-4

By far the weakest position area division wide. Ironically, this is also the only position where the A's stand out offensively. Out of the only three the only thing memorable is how long Saltalamacchia's last name is. Kurt Suzuki will have a solid year for the other 3 teams, a glaring weakness.

First Base:

Kendry Morales-1
Daric Barton-2
Chris Davis-3
Mike Carp-4

Not sure if Morales is going to repeat last year (my prediction: about .300 hitter still but homers in the low 20s) but he's still the class of the AL West first basemen. Daric Barton is never going to be a power threat but he's a solid candidate for having a bounce-back season. Chris Davis, is an entirely different story.

As i've mentioned earlier, I received Ron Shandler's baseball forecaster in the mail about a month ago and have taken a look at the numbers for various players that have piqued my interest. I've also came up with an All-Star team that no player want's to be a part of, The Bill Hall All-Stars.

Named after former Brewer Bill Hall. Back in 2006, I was convinced Bill Hall was going to be a star player for the Brewers for years to come. He had a massive power surge (went yard 35 times) sure he struck out a lot (even then) but the sky seemed the limit. If I knew then what I knew know I would have known better. Obscured in his power spike was the fact that his Contact % went from 79 to 70 from 2005 to 2006. After a slight bump up in 2007, the contact rate has crashed to 64% (15% drop in a 5 year stretch).

Based on this info, I invented the Bill Hall All-Star team for players whose contact % dropped 10% or more in a five year period as a way to predict other players whose production is sadly going to spiral downwards.

What does this have to do with Chris Davis? Well factoring in the data in the Baseball Forecaster (which factors in Major League Equivalent numbers with actual MLB numbers) plus data from AA and above shows a 13% drop in contact rate in the last few years. Translation: I'm not buying on Chris Davis having a breakout season now or ever.

Second Base:

Ian Kinsler-1
Jose Lopez-2
Howie Kendrick-3
Mark Ellis-4

Position-wise, the toughest call to make as these players are fairly close from top to bottom. Kinsler has the best combination of upside and proven track record which allowed him to be above his competition.


Erick Aybar-1
Elvis Andrus-2
Jack Wilson-3
Cliff Pennington-4

Aybar, Andrus and Wilson are all players who strike me as more valuable to an actual team than a fantasy baseball team. While Andrus will probably be the best of these players within 2 or 3 years, I still think Aybar is a slighty better player until proven otherwise. Pennington is a distant 4th here as I wouldn't be surprised if he's one of the leagues weakest hitters this year.

Third Base

Michael Young-1
Chone Figgins-2
Kevin Kouzmanoff-3
Brandon Wood-4

The ranking for Third Base was amongst the more difficult one to make (primarily because of Brandon Wood). On talent alone, he would be in the top-2 but on the same token it's hard to justify ranking him above proven players like Young and Figgins before he even sheds the AAAA label. I wouldn't be surprised to see him go deep 25-30 times but we don't know whether he'll actually do it. While Wood's ceiling is higher than Kouzmanoff, he gets bumped to last as unlike Kouzmanoff, Wood has yet to prove he can produce at a big-league level.

Left Field

Juan Rivera-1
Milton Bradley-2
Josh Hamilton-3
Rajai Davis-4

On talent alone this Bradley or Hamilton would have gotten the nod but injury concerns bumped both of them down. I originally though Hamilton was going to bounce back in '10 but the fact that he's already dealing with injury issues gives me second thoughts. On pure talent alone, Bradley would have a good shot at #1 but it's a given he's going to either get injured, suspended and/or incite a brawl to the level of the 1984 Padres/Braves fight and get banned for life.

Center Field

Torii Hunter-1
Franklin Gutierrez-2
Julio Borbon-3
Coco Crisp-4

Torii Hunter far and away stands out amongst this group......he's an asset with both the glove and at the plate. Gutierrez is an asset with the glove but his offensive numbers will likely regress in 2010.

Right Field

Ichiro Suzuki-1
Nelson Cruz-2
Bobby Abreu-3
Ryan Sweeney-4

Went back and forth on this one. Ichiro may not have the power of Cruz and Abreu but is a better all-around player. Despite not placing him number 1, I still see Nelson Cruz having a nice follow-up to his breakout season.

Designated Hitter

Hideki Matsui-1
Jake Fox-2
Ken Griffey Jr.-3
David Murphy-4

I still think Matsui has a couple strong years in his bat. Jake Fox going to Oakland was one of the more under-rated signings this winter and I think he'll be one of the dark-horse signings.
Griffey Jr. has had a great career but he's definitely on the down side of his career.

Well, we have the offensive players ranked by position for each team in the AL the half way point of the AL West preview, the rankings are as follows (Note: The Lower the score the better)



  1. I knew Vladamir Guerrero was in decline, but I didn't know he was behind David Murphy on the Rangers DH depth chart! I also still like Coco Crisp, and attribute the Royals decline last year to when he became injured for the year.

  2. The Vlad thing was an oversight on my part.....I blame the Royals decline on them making bad baseball decision after bad baseball decision