Monday, July 7, 2008

What About Reyes/Wright/Beltran/Church/Santana?

It was a mild surprise to see only one Met make the National League All-Star team, although only Jose Reyes has a legitimate gripe against his exclusion. The Mets are still a mediocre team, whose best players have either underperformed or have missed significant time due to injury.

Reyes has the best case for inclusion, although Hanley Ramirez deservedly won the fan vote and will be starting at shortstop next Tuesday. Cristian Guzman and Miguel Tejada were chosen ahead of Reyes as reserves, however, and that's just wrong. The All-Star Game's arcane rules insist that at least one player from every team make the squad, which explains Guzman's selection. But with Lance Berkman starting at first for the NL All-Stars, the Astros were already represented. Why, then, is Tejada on the team over Reyes? The Mets' shortstop outshines his counterpart in every offensive category except home runs and RBI. Even there, Tejada's slight advantage (10-44 to 9-38) hardly outweighs Reyes's overall offensive presence.

Wright is still in the running for the final spot on the National League team and will probably win the vote, if for no other reason than name recognition. Chipper Jones won the initial fan vote ahead of Wright and deservedly so. Aramis Ramirez was chosen as Chipper's backup, even though his stats are remarkably similar to Wright's. Ramirez has done a better job in the field (7 errors to Wright's 12) and Wright's stats are artifically higher because of the way he has tatooed left-handers this season (a .416/.520/.714 clip). It's close, but Ramirez is a worthy pick.

Beltran, in contrast, doesn't have a particularly strong argument. The fans passed on him and both Matt Holliday and Ryan Ludwick have an OPS at least 100 points higher than Beltran. Nate McLouth is a bit of a reach, but he is still having a better season at the plate than Beltran and is the only Pirate to make the team. In the end, at least five other National League outfielders have more to complain about today than Carlos Beltran.

Ryan Church might've had a better shot at an All-Star nod, but his concussion woes caused him to miss too much time to merit serious consideration. His torrid early season pace was nearly enough to get me to vote for him, but I ultimately went for Xavier Nady instead. (Nady deserved to go more than Church, even though he also missed some time due to injury.)

That brings us to Johan Santana. He hasn't had a bad season, obviously, but Santana has failed to live up to expectations, which I think is what ultimately doomed him here. I think Santana would've been a better choice than Aaron Cook, but the mediocre won-loss total was too much to overcome.


tim said...

If you're choosing someone other than Wright out of that list why not Hart. His numbers are the only ones comparable to Wright's. Burrell's rbi numbers are kind of low for a guy with 21 hrs.

Judge Roughneck said...

That's not Burrell's fault. RBIs are dependent on at-bats with runners on base. With Utley driving in guys at the top of the order and Howard making outs or hitting home runs, the fifth spot in the Phillies' lineup is not a good place for driving in runs.

Brian said...

Wright is now to be punished for being too good against lefties? That's one I haven't heard before!
Wright has killed lefties for his entire career, so his current dominance against left-handers should not be seen as flukeish or "artificiial".

The entire difference between his MVP year last year and this year's pace is about 15 singles last year turned into outs this year--all against right-handed breaking balls, but whatever. All of his other rates--save stolen bases--are astoundingly similar. As his consistency has been aptly described by Tim Marchman as "freakish", it's a pretty safe bet that he'll up his average to his career norm of about .310. He's already raised it about 16 points just in these last 2 weeks--from .272 on June 23 to .288 today.

My point is we've been through this before with DW. He's earned some cred with his fans by now.

(BTW talking about freakish consistency)


Forgive me for sounding like a homer, but come on!

tim said...

Brian, Jack is a self-hating Burrell lover. Burrell might as well be his daddy.

Judge Roughneck said...

Brian: I didn't do a good job of fully explaining my point. Their overall numbers may look superficially similar, but Wright's has been sustained by abnormally high production against left-handers (even for him).

There is a stark difference between Ramirez's and Wright's numbers against right-handers this season, one that clearly favors Ramirez. Both players have faced right-handed pitchers in about 75 percent of their plate appearances. Look at the difference in production:

Ramirez: .293/.388/.534
Wright: .249/.337/.442

In three out of every four at-bats this season, Ramirez has had an OPS nearly 150 points higher than Wright. That's why it's hard for me to strongly advocate for Wright over Ramirez.

I agree that Wright is incredibly consistent and will likely end the season with numbers similar to his previous campaigns. However, this season will be more dependent on production against left-handers than ever before.

Tim: You're lucky I'm such a Burrell fan. Otherwise you would've passed on him in the expansion draft and been kicking yourself today. I should've asked for Burrell instead of Abreu in the Harden deal.

tim said...

But I'm not kicking myself and you are. A sign of a great manager is one who can take advice from others for the greater good.

Brian said...

Nice argument...however, there are also two sides to this coin. While Wright's production against Lefties has been absurdly high, his production against righties has been abnormally low. (I believe he is a career .300 hitter against righties.) There is every reason to believe that his number against both will settle in closer to their long term norms, particularly factoring in Wright's baffling consistency and the fact that the process is already underway. (His numbers against lefties are falling slightly and his numbers against righties are rising briskly.)

Thus, my contention is that Wright's chances of finishing the year with All-Star numbers are high, and since we've seen exactly the same thing last year from him, and he put on an MVP campaign last year with a freakishly torrid 2nd half (he was by far the MVP of the post-All-Star-Game 2007), he's earned the benefit of the doubt, especially from Met fans.

It will look foolish, IMO if Wright puts up, say, .314/.410/.550/31HR/133RBI, in a year where he is not elected to the All Star Team.

tim said...

Jack is used to looking foolish.