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What significance does a number carry? Obviously we know that a number carries a value of an item or items. They can hold a positive or negative connotation depending on what the number is referring to.
If you are talking about a bank account or an amount of money, the higher the number, the better. If you are dealing with a number of people who want to cause you physical harm, the lower the number the better.
What significance does the number 42 have for you? It can carry many meanings. 42 hours in your individual work week. 42 miles to the gallon that your vehicle gets. 42 miles that you will be walking after your car ran out of gas because you only got 40 miles to the gallon and not the 42 that you thought.
What does 42 mean in the world of baseball? 42 Home Runs in a contract year and you will probably be making 42 million dollars on your next contract. 42 Doubles is a good season.
42 wins by a team in a season is terrible but 42 wins in a row, and they are setting records. Perhaps the most significant use of the number 42 in the baseball realm was by a young 28-year-old Second Baseman named Jackie Robinson.
Movie Trailer for 42:
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Friday, March. 1/2013
By Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Writer): Follow @ryandana1
Ryan Howard and Chase Utley have played for the Philadelphia Phillies their entire careers to this point. They have been holding down the right side of the infield for the Phillies consistently since 2006 – and have been tearing apart pitching from the 3-4 slots in the lineup for equally as long. They each played in 100+ games every year since the 2006 season, until an injury plagued 2012 campaign for the duo.
Howard managed to play just 71 games, and Utley only 83. Maybe age is starting to catch up with the 33 year old Howard and 34 year old Utley, and if it is, that is a terrible sign for the Phillies playoff aspirations because their offense has been built around the two (plus standout Shortstop Jimmy Rollins). I think the Utley – Howard combo still has productive seasons left with in Philadelphia, and 2013 should prove that. I expect them to be bright spots in the lineup for a team that has become largely reliant on their starting pitching to achieve success.
Baseball Friends Utley and Howard:
Friday November 16th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: The final awards have been announced. Both races could have gone either way, with deserving candidates in each league. In the end, each winner won by a large margin (Cabrera 362-281 and Posey 422-285). There really were not any surprises in this year of MVP voting. Here’s my analysis for each league.
Thursday November 1st, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: What a great story it would be to see Josh Hamilton return to the team that drafted him. As a free agent this offseason, there is a possibility that this could be the case. Hamilton never played a Major League game with the “Devil Rays”. After he was drafted, he was the number one prospect in the Devil Rays’ organization. He had an extremely bright future, but unfortunately the money from the signing bonus combined with injuries sent Hamilton down the wrong path leading to his drug abuse and decline, eventually sending him out of baseball. Hamilton spent time on the restricted list and was suspended, and was eventually picked by the Chicago Cubs in the Rule 5 draft, subsequently being purchased by the Cincinnati Reds. Hamilton played part of a season with the Reds before being traded to the Rangers, where he was very successful, making the All Star team every year and winning the MVP in 2010.
The Rangers most likely will not pursue Hamilton, leaving him open for any other club. Hamilton would be great for the Rays. With B.J. Upton most likely leaving to free agency, the Rays will need to fill the center field position. Hamilton would bring a lot of excitement to Tampa Bay and would help bring the team back to the playoffs. A former MVP would tremendously improve the Rays’ potent lineup already including Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, and Carlos Pena. Acquiring Hamilton would make a large statement to the rest of the AL East. With the Yankees as the only real threat, the Rays would be sending the message that they are ready to win. The Red Sox are rebuilding, so they probably will not be of worry to the Rays, and the Blue Jays are coming off a disappointing season in 2011. The Orioles could be playoff bound, but with Hamilton, the Rays would have an advantage. With the new Wild Card in play, the Rays will have a good shot of reaching the playoffs even if they do not sign Hamilton. But, signing Hamilton would make the Rays a powerhouse and could give the Yankees a run for their money. Read the rest of this entry
Thursday October 11th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky:What a year it has been. With the extra Wild Card and a Triple Crown winner, there has been no shortage of excitement. As part of the BBA (Baseball Bloggers Alliance), we are to vote for awards including the Hall of Fame, All Star Game, end of the year awards, and a baseball writer with quality writing and a strong internet presence.
In this segment, I will outline the various end of the season awards (with their announcement dates) and who I believe will win them. Some selections were very, very close.
October 15th: Connie Mack Award (Manager of the Year): NL: Davey Johnson (Washington Nationals); AL: Bob Melvin (Oakland Athletics)
Johnson: This decision was a no-brainer. Johnson lead his young Nationals team to the first NL East title in Washington Nationals’ history with a 98-64 record—finishing four games better than the Braves—an early-season favorite for the title. Johnson and the Nats’ secured the number one seed in the playoffs and were the best team in baseball—winning 18 more games than in 2011. This was Johnson’s first full year with Washington and he made it a good one.
Melvin: This was one of the most remarkable stories in a very long time. The A’s were in the midst of rebuilding, trading away aces Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals and Trevor Cahill to the Diamondbacks. Oakland did not start off too well, having a mediocre first half, but really turned it on after the All Star Break. This was a tough decision because of Orioles manager Buck Showalter also putting up a strong case. The Orioles finished almost identically to the A’s with a 93-69 record (A’s finished at 94-68). In my opinion, Melvin had even less of a team to work with than Showalter, and still won one more game.
Saturday September 22nd, 2012
John Burns: As you all know, the almighty Chipper Jones will be retiring from baseball after this season. He is it calling it quits after 19 seasons in the Majors. The 40 year-old Chipper Jones has been one of the best players in baseball for a longtime. With his outstanding career numbers, it is no question that one day he will be inducted into Cooperstown. A lock to be a first-ballot inductee. Jones has been part of Atlanta’s organization for 22 years after being drafted number first overall to the Braves in the 1990 MLB Draft. That is a lot of years at the hot corner, as well as some time spent in the outfield.
How will Atlanta recover without Chipper playing third every day? Are there any possible replacements? Besides his play on the field, can his leadership be replaced? This might shock a lot of you… but could David Wright be the one to replace Chipper in Atlanta? Read the rest of this entry
Saturday September 15th, 2012
John Burns: The 2012 season has been anything but normal for the Philadelphia Phillies and Ryan Howard. The 32 year-old was out till June after tearing his Achilles in the postseason last year against the St. Louis Cardinals. Howard has consistently been one of the top first baseman in the league for a while now. This season has been a little different for him so far: First of all, his team the Philadelphia Phillies, are 16.5 behind the Washington Nationals for first place in the NL East, Second, Howard has only had a little over 200 at bats this season due to injury. The power is still there for Howard. In 58 games, played he has 41 RBIs and 10 homers. That might not be the numbers you expect from Howard, but you have to give the guy a break. He is coming back from arguably one of the worst injuries in sports. Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday September 11th, 2012
Jake Dal Porto: Mike Trout has arubably been the biggest difference maker in all of baseball. When the Angels began their season, the hype was focused on Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, their two big offseason acquisitions. But after enduring a miserable first month of the season, Trout was promoted, and the Angels took off. They went 18-12 in Trout’s first 30 games, and that excellent streak instantly put them back in the race. He was leading them, their 21year-old outfielder. Not Pujols, not Wilson, Trout. Most MVP voters would’ve handed him the award just after those first 30 games.
Nowadays, Trout isn’t quite as dominant. He has hit just .280/.350/.473 since August 15th. Obviously not bad, but they aren’t good under his standards. But if the season concluded today, he would still be the winner. Despite the mini rut, his numbers are still exceptional. As of Sunday, Trout leads the A.L. in batting average (.328), WOBA% (.423), stolen bases (44), and WAR (8.4). Read the rest of this entry
Saturday August 18th, 2012
Jake Dal Porto: Dustin Ackley has a lot to live up to with the Seattle Mariners. Anyone who is selected in the top five of any draft in any sport is expected to perform right from the get-go. The Mariners highly touted prospect was selected second in the 2009 draft, right behind Stephen Strasburg, and in the same draft class as the American League MVP frontrunner Mike Trout. Granted, Ackley barely has a year of experience under his belt, but it’s safe to say that the bar is set extremely high for him. And thus far, he’s crawling under that bar.
Last season, Ackley, 24, bursted onto the scene in mid June. Of course, the Mariners were far out of contention at that point, but he brought a much-needed spark to the lineup. He was one of the few reasons that made Mariners’ fans look forward to the future of Seattle. And he still his.
However, he has hit a massive dry spell. After hitting .305/.366/.534 is his first 36 big league games last year, he went on a downhill slide that has continued into his second year in the majors. To be specific, the tumble began on the 1st of August in 2011. From that point, he would hit for a triple slash of just .252/.338/.342 for the remainder of the season. And 2012 has followed a similar script. For the season, he’s hitting .225/.296/.330 in 113 games. Thus far, his best month was May, although the numbers he posted were nothing to write home about (.255/.333/.402). Simply, he’s yet to find success for a consistent period of time. Sure, he gets a few hits here and there, then he hits a dry patch.
So what’s going on with Ackley? Read the rest of this entry
Wednesday August 15th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: Just a little while ago, Giants’ outfielder Melky Cabrera was announced suspended for 50 games due to testing positive for testosterone—a performance enhancer. This will put him out of action for the rest of the season.
For the Giants, this is catastrophic. They lost a .346 hitter in the middle of the lineup. They just acquired Hunter Pence and got Pablo Sandoval back from the DL, and the lineup was stacked. They got through one game with the best possible lineup, and then this. As a Giants fan, I can’t even think of the words to describe this situation. Apparently the testing was during the All Star Break. The Giants now have a tougher road to the playoffs, but I’m not sure their goose is cooked. Buster Posey has been on fire recently, and the return of Sandoval should provide a large boost. The major problem with Cabrera’s absence is the loss of a high-average hitter. Now the Giants will need to work harder in order to get runners on base for the power hitters. Cabrera was having his best season—even better than last. Now the Giants must hope to scrappily win enough games to snag a wild card. Gregor Blanco will be expected to fill in for Cabrera. The Giants recently signed Xavier Nady, so he might play a part too.
Saturday August 11th, 2012
Jake Dal Porto: The 2012 season has been full of surprising teams. From the Orioles to the Pirates, new teams that have always had the potential to be contenders appear to be taking the next step foward. However, no team has taken that vast step quite like the Washington Nationals. Led by a starting rotation that leads the National League in ERA (3.23), and opponents’ batting averages (.232), the Nationals have put together a magical season. Even though Washington’s offense hasn’t be as stellar as their pitching staff, a healthy lineup might change that. More importantly, a healthy Jayson Werth.
Jayson Werth, who was signed as a free agent by the Nationals prior to the 2011 campaign, has been a disappointed thus far. In his first year as a National he posted a 2.5 WAR. In three straight years with the Phillies before becoming a free agent, he posted WAR averages of plus five. Per FanGraphs, his 2011 season was worth about $11.5 million, compared to his actual salary $13 million. That $13 million will be the lowest mark of his contract, as his annual salary will steadily be on the rise over the next few years, eventually making the leap to the big $20 million plateau. However, the pressure will continue to amount if his production continues to slip. If he wants to prove his worth, there’s no better time for him to do so than now, when the Nats boast the best record in the National League and crave a veteran presence such as Werth. Read the rest of this entry
Wednesday August 8th, 2012
Jake Dal Porto (Baseball Intern Writer):
The Los Angeles Angels made two big splashes in the offseason. One obviously being Albert Pujols, the second C.J. Wilson who has helped stabilize their rotation this season. Jerry Dipoto wasn’t finished tweaking his already steady pitching staff yet, however. Instead of sticking with Garrett Richards or Jerome Williams to fill out a star-studded rotation, he went out and acquired former American League Cy Young award winner, Zack Greinke from the Brewers at the trade deadline. According to multiple insiders, the move was supposedly a steal for the Angels too. And the fact that Dipoto is willing to dangle a top prospect away for a rental pitcher, shows how committed the Angels are to winning this year.
Can they make a playoff push behind their rotation, however? Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday August 7th, 2012
John Burns: It is easy to say that Robinson Cano is the best all-around second baseman in baseball right now. Cano has been the top second baseman for a couple of years now. What makes Cano so great is his ability to just flat-out hit and his much improved defense at second base. Cano is having another great season with the Yankees. With a .316 average and 24 homers, Cano has been one of the most feared hitters in the stacked Yankees lineup.
At age 29, Cano has very impressive career numbers, including a .309 average with 168 career homers. Since being called up to the Yankees in 2005, Cano has been a 4x All-Star, 3x Silver Slugger Award Winner, 2009 World Series Champion, 2010 Gold Glove Winner, and he even won the 2011 Home Run Derby. Now that is a very impressive line for a 29-year-old 2nd baseman! There is much more in store for Cano in the future as well in my opinion. Cano is not only the best second baseman, but I strongly believe that he is the best player in baseball. He does it all: he will consistently 25-30 homers a season and is almost a lock to hit .300 every season. Combine his bat with gold glove defense and you have one of the best all-around players in the game. Cano has been criticized in the past about being “Lazy” which I find absurd; As Derek Jeter has said before: Robinson Cano plays the game very smoothly and has one of the best work ethics around. Personally, I will take Jeter’s word at face value. Read the rest of this entry
Washington Nationals-The Pitchers and Hitters: 2005-2012 Best 25 Man Roster (Part 5 of Expos/Nats Series)
Wednesday July 25, 2012
Note from Chuck Booth: I am attempting to bring the history for each of the 30 MLB Franchises into a 5 part series that will focus on 1. The teams history. 2. The hitters 3. The pitchers. 4. The Team’s Payroll going into in 2013 and 5. (The stadium articles will all be done next summer when I go to all of the parks in under a month again.) To follow all of the updates, be sure to check my author page with a list of all archived articles here.
Chuck Booth (Lead baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- I think it safe to say that the best days of the Washington Nationals are purely ahead of them. They have a great nucleus of young talent with Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Drew Storen, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Mike Morse and Gio Gonzalez. These guys are so good that they all made the ALL-Time 25 man roster for the 2005-2012 Washington Nationals. I am a firm believer that these guys will be the best team in the National League within 2 or 3 years. I like Ted Lerner’s attitude on spending for now. This will ensure the money will be spent on the team to keep competing for the city of Washington’s 1st World Series Title since 1924. I would venture to say that not many living fans of the old Washington Senators saw the club hoisting the trophy 88 years ago.
The Nationals Park went soaring up my ranks as a baseball venue to see in the 30 stadium circuit. This place is now electric. I was so elated when I was able to see Strasburg pitch and win for the Nationals back in April. Next year I hope to see Bryce Harper play ball when I go on another 30 park tour. Next year is when I will have the official rankings of all of the ballparks posted here. I can assure you that the President’s Race will probably be voted the most popular race of any in the Majors at the parks. My humblest of apologies to the sausage race fans in Milwaukee and racing legend heads in Arizona. I still follow the campaign to ‘Let Teddy Win’, however that may take all of the fun out of it if Teddy does win one of those races.
As a fan of the old Expos franchise, I have a soft spot in my heart for the Washington Nationals. Playing meaningful baseball in September and October this year would be incredible to witness. So without further speak, let us start with our 25 man roster for the best players in the last 8 years. I picked the roster based on longevity or utter greatness for a couple of players. If this team was to play an alumni game right now, all of the positions would be filled. I don’t think I excluded anyone entirely crucial here. Please feel free to let me know if I did on any social platform. If you make a solid case for someone for whom I may have omitted, I could always add them later.
For Part 1 of the Article Series, The Expos Hitters: click here
For Part 2 of the Article Series, The Expos Pitchers: click here
For Part 3 of the Article Series, The Demise of the Montreal Expos: click here
For Part 4 of the Article Series, The Washington Nationals Franchise 2005-2012: click here
For Part 6 of the Article Series, The Nationals 2013 Payroll and Contract Statuses click here
Here is the highlight reel from Stephen Strasburg’s debut at Nationals Park. 14 Strikeouts is amazing!
Thursday July 12th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: Over the past few years, Twins fans have been disappointed with Justin Morneau’s performance. He’s been plagued by a concussion he sustained in Toronto two years ago after sliding into the leg of Aaron Hill. Before the injury, Morneau was hitting .345 through 81 games, hit .274 in the year before that (2009), finished second in MVP voting in 2008 after hitting .300 with 23 home runs and 129 RBIs, and won the AL MVP award in 2006 after hitting .321 with 34 homers and 130 RBIs. The big question is: Can he return to his original form? Read the rest of this entry
Reds Sunday Select: Is Dusty Baker the Right Manager in Cincy? And the Premiere of the Billy Hamilton Report
Ryan Ritchey (Baseball Writer, Reds Expert): Welcome to the premiere of Reds Sunday Select. This is going to be a segment on the Reports in which I post a weekly article on the Reds organization. At the end of each article, you will find an update on the up-and-coming star prospect for the Reds, Billy Hamilton. This week on the Reds Sunday Select is Dusty Baker and the job that he has done so far running this Reds team.
Dusty Baker has been in Cincinnati since ’08 and has yet to win a playoff game. He has made it to the playoffs once, in 2010 on the back of Joey Votto‘s MVP season. In Dusty’s 19 seasons as a manager, he has a 17-22 record in the playoffs, which in my opinion isn’t getting the job done. He has never won a World Series title, falling short back in ’02 with a 7-game series loss to the Angels. Do I believe Dusty Baker is a great manager? Yes I do. He has a strong career winning record as a manager. Which tells me he can win games, but just not get it done in the playoffs- which is where it really matters. Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday June 19, 2012
John Burns: What a comeback season it has been for Adam Dunn so far, as he leads all of baseball with 23 homers… and it’s not even July yet.
Dunn experienced a miserable 2011 campaign in his first season in Chicago, as he hit a career low .159 and was not showing his usual power numbers. After signing a 4-year, $56 Million deal with the White Sox in 2010, the expectations were huge for the slugger. 2011 was a season to forget for Dunn. After he underwent an appendectomy in April, Dunn’s productivity declined rapidly. Dunn broke the White Sox record for most strikeouts in a season by a hitter with 177 strikeouts in only 415 at-bats. Dunn’s 2011 campaign was by far the worst of his career. Read the rest of this entry
Friday June 15th, 2012
Bryan Sheehan (MLB Writer): For better or worse, Josh Hamilton has been one of the most talked about ballplayers in the past four seasons. He started out as an inspirational story for overcoming drug and alcohol addiction, returning to baseball after three years on the restricted list due to failed drug tests. His talent always peaked the interest of teams, going first overall to the Devil Rays in the 1999 draft and third overall in the 2006 Rule 5 draft to the Chicago Cubs, when he was “the biggest name in the Rule 5 in many years,” according to Baseball America. Immediately after he was traded to Cincinnati, where he spent most of the 2007 season in the Majors. Another team interested meant another trade, and Hamilton landed in Texas for the 2008 season. Since then, he has been an All Star every year, a Silver Slugger winner twice, and the American League MVP in 2010.
Hamilton will no doubt gain even more attention if he hits free agency after this season. Though he is eligible to file for free agency at the end of the year, there are rumors circulating that the Rangers may try to sign the tattooed center fielder to an extension. Age 31, Hamilton is in the prime of his career and he’s currently on pace to hit 60 home runs in 2012. That, along with a career .311 batting average that is only getting better, makes for a huge payoff in the near future. At the same time, Hamilton is in danger of relapsing, as he did when he was seen drinking at a Dallas bar in February, and some teams may not want to invest in a potential addict. Either way, this Fall and Winter will be very interesting for the star who has brought his team to the World Series twice in two years. Read the rest of this entry
Wednesday November 23, 2011
Sam Evans: Over the last two days, Major League Baseball announced their 2011 MVPs. Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers took home the award in the American League while Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers won the National League award. Now that the voting is over, we can look at who really deserved the awards.
American League MVP: In August, Buster Olney sparked discussion on the AL MVP, when he said on Twitter that if he had a vote it would go to Verlander. At the time, I thought that the award was Jose Bautista‘s to lose. However, after watching Verlander dominate team after team, it became clear to me that this was the most valuable player in the American League. He meant more to his team than any other player in the league. Verlander finished with a with a 2.40 ERA in 251 innings. Verlander threw more innings than any other pitcher in the majors, and to have that strong of numbers in those innings makes it even more impressive.
Verlander also threw his second career no-hitter this year, and led the majors in strikeouts. Jacoby Ellsbury and Jose Bautista are not shabby candidates either, but they didn’t have the effect Verlander did on his team. The Tigers expected to win every single time that Verlander was on the mound. Overall, even if the BBWAA made this decision based on Verlander’s twenty-four wins, it was the right choice. Verlander became the first pitcher to win the MVP since Dennis Eckersley in 1992.
National League MVP: In somewhat of a surprising decision, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was awarded the NL MVP award, receiving 20 out of 32 first place votes, and a total of 388 points. Finishing a close second was Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who received 10 first place votes, and a total of 332 points.
First of all, these were obviously the top two candidates. They both had amazing years that should not go unnoticed despite who actually won the award. What I think it came down to was that Braun made the playoffs and Kemp didn’t. This is somewhat understandable because you can make the argument that if a certain player had such a big impact on their team then they should have made the playoffs. The real question is did Braun really make his team that much better, or did he just play on a much better team? Also, did the distractions surrounding the Dodgers and its ownership affect Kemp’s chances of winning the MVP? It definitely did not help his case.
To truly compare these players first you have to evaluate their defense. Kemp played a much harder position then Braun and he had to cover more ground. Kemp had a UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating, a stat used to show how much ground a player covers) of -4.6. Braun had a UZR of -3.8. Neither of these is very impressive, so I guess we can just call this comparison a draw.
As for offense, in my own opinion, Kemp had a stronger year. Both players were very similar in normal statistics. Braun hit .332 with 33 HR and 111 RBI. Kemp hit .324 with 39 HR and 126 RBI. What impresses me is that Kemp scored more runs than Braun despite not having Prince Fielder batting behind him. Also, Kemp had a harder ballpark to hit in, and plays in a stronger pitching division. Kemp was really the only dangerous hitter in the Dodgers lineup, so pitchers could avoid him more than Braun.
According to Baseball-Reference WAR, Kemp was by far the more valuable player. Kemp led the NL with 10.0 WAR, which make Braun’s 7.7 seem miniscule. Kemp also led the National League in total bases, with 353, and Adjusted OPS + with 171.
These two players had almost identical years. If I had a vote, it would have gone to Kemp. But I don’t think Braun winning is anything to get worked up about. A strong case could have been made for him, as shown by Braun being the winner of the 2012 NL MVP award.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***
Sunday July 17, 2011
Rob Bland (Intern- MLB Reports): January 21, 2011 is seen as a bit of a turning point in the history of the Toronto Blue Jays. General Manager Alex Anthopolous traded away long-time face of the franchise, Vernon Wells. Wells had been with the Blue Jays since he was drafted in the first round, fifth overall by the Jays in the 1997 amateur draft. After making his debut in 1999, he played in a Toronto uniform through the 2010 season. His name is littered across franchise record books, and he was a beloved figure in the clubhouse. On December 15, 2006, Wells signed a seven-year, $126 million contract extension, which at the time was the 6th largest contract in MLB history. Over the next few years, Wells’ lack of production and time spent on the disabled list, made his contract “unmoveable”.
That was of course until Alex Anthopolous took the helm as Jays GM, and was able to find a taker for Wells and the four years and $86 million remaining on the contract. Into the picture came Tony Reagins, GM of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. It has been said that Reagins approached Anthopolous about Wells. One would think that in order for a deal to work, the Blue Jays would have had to send a large sum of cash to the Angels in order for the deal to go through.
The deal that was finally consummated was to send Wells and approximately $5 million to the Angels in exchange for OF Juan Rivera, and C/1B Mike Napoli. Rivera was seen as a throw-in, as his $4M contract was more than the Angels wanted to pay. Napoli had fallen out of favour in manager Mike Scioscia’s eyes; despite hitting at least 20 home runs in each of the three previous seasons despite receiving limited playing time. Toronto then flipped Napoli to the Texas Rangers for standout reliever Frank Francisco. The Rangers received the powerful, right-handed versatile hitter they coveted, and the Blue Jays thought they received the closer they needed.
It is quite obvious that no matter how any of those players perform, the Blue Jays are the big winner because of the payroll space they have cleared and can use to extend their star players, see Jose Bautista. However, this deal has not been so cut and dry. While Napoli has swung the bat with authority, Juan Rivera has been traded to the LA Dodgers, and Francisco has been awful out of the Jays bullpen.
Let’s take a quick look at each player’s production and how their respective teams have fared so far.
Again performing as a part-time player at three positions, Napoli has been very solid for the Rangers. He has hit 13 home runs and driven in 34 RBI in only 187 plate appearances. While his average leaves something to be desired, he makes up for it in his ability to take walks and hit the ball to the gaps. With his OPS at .906, he has proven that he is a tremendously underrated player. His WAR through half the season is at 1.7, and he is on pace to break his career high of 2.6.
Because he was seen as a salary dump for the Angels, the Blue Jays took him on and saw him as the everyday left fielder and DH out of spring training. He was never able to get it going, and quickly fell out of favour in Toronto. His OPS sat at .666 when traded, with a limited ability to get on base and very little power. This on top of the fact that he played atrocious defense led to his -1.2 WAR. He was traded to the LA Dodgers for a player to be named later or cash considerations on July 12, 2011.
Seen as a pretty successful power arm for the late innings, Francisco was picked up from the Texas Rangers along with cash. He continues to strike out a ton of batters, (10.1 K/9), but he is giving up more hits than he has in the past. However, part of this is due to a batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .359. His xFIP is actually almost two runs lower than his ERA, 3.56 as opposed to 5.40. I think that Francisco has been unlucky, and when it all evens out, it will show that he is at least a competent late inning reliever.
Wells was obviously the big fish in this trade. He has the ability to be an MVP-caliber player (see his 2003 and 2006 seasons). He has two gold gloves in center field, as well as three All-Star appearances in his career. He has hit 30 home runs three times and driven in 100 RBI three times. Wells’ production in 2011 has been nothing short of horrendous. He has 14 home runs so far, but other than that, hasn’t done anything particularly well. His OPS is .671 with an OBP of .254. Wells is striking out in over 20% of his plate appearances, and walking in less than 4%. Now, you could look at his BABIP (.228) and think he has been unlucky, but it is that low because of his awful 10% line drive rate. With a flyball rate of 47% and by hitting a ton of infield flies, his BABIP won’t likely rise much. It is unlikely that Wells will ever return to being the player he once was.
Taking a look at these stats, we can see that the Rangers were an instant winner. They gave up an expendable reliever, and gained a valuable bat off the bench. The Angels are the big losers in the deal, as they owe Wells over $60M over the next 3.5 years. That kind of production out of a left fielder is unacceptable for a team trying to contend for the playoffs. Toronto knew that with the trades they made, they would not be as good of a team without Wells. They are in a rebuilding mode, and the money they save can be used on drafting and developing young talent. Francisco could be a Type B free agent at the end of the year, so another draft pick could be theirs.
**The grand winner in this series of moves is the Blue Jays, as with the departure of Wells, they have been able to extend Jose Bautista with a five-year, $65M contract. They have been aggressive in international signings this month as well, and look to pour more resources into the draft. ***
***Thank you to Rob Bland for preparing today’s article on the Vernon Wells trade. You can follow Rob on Twitter.***
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