Posted on: November 29, 2012 8:12 pm

Why the Cubs should trade for Rick Porcello

The Cubs need pitching. Yes they added Scott Baker and Scott Feldman but those are still just short term assests. They need to build up their depth and bring in starters who can be on the team for the long haul. That is where Rick Porcello comes in. The Tigers have made it known that they are opening to trading their somewhat disappointing former top prospect this offseason and while I dont think he could be acquired for nothing, he should be fairly cheap considering the potential value he could bring. Lets look at what type of value he could provide.

An initial glance at his numbers and one might be inclined to dismiss him as being another back of the rotation starter. That is where I would have to disagree a bit. Before I even touch statistic lets first just look at the basics. Entering the 2013 season he will only be 24 with another 3 years of team control. He is arbitration eligible but due to his overall weak performance likely will remain fairly cheap. Considering his age, that he was a former top prospect in the Tigers organization and his experience relative to his age there is already reason to be intrigued. Now when looking at his stats there is even more to be interested in.

10- 4.92 ERA  4.31 FIP  4.65 K/9  2.10 BB/9  1.0 HR/9  65.9% LOB  50.3% GB
11- 4.75 ERA  4.06 FIP  5.14 K/9  2.27 BB/9  .89 HR/9  67.4% LOB  51.4% GB
12- 4.59 ERA  3.91 FIP  5.46 K/9  2.25 BB/9  .82 HR/9  69.0% LOB  53.2% GB

Looking at his performance over the past 3 seasons a clear trend can be noticed. He seems to be steadliy improving his peripheral stats as he learns how to pitch. When he first entered the league he was young relative to the league and he took his lumps but now has started to adjust. I also think that Detroit rushed him to the Major Leagues which has impacted his stuff, but he appears to be turning into a nice groundball pitcher and with a good infield defense (which Detroit is lacking) he could really improve.

That is partially why I think the Cubs would be a very good destination for him. The Cubs are puting a huge emphasis on improving defensively. The Cubs infield looks pretty good with Gold Glover Darwin Barney who was one of the best defensive players in baseball last season, Anthony Rizzo who looks to be a very good defensive first baseman, Starlin Castro who may be error prone but has all the range in the world and for the moment Luis Valbuena or Ian Stewart who are both solid to above average. If Rick Porcello had that behind him rather than the terrible defensive tandem of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera he could see a nice improvement.

Porcello seems like he could be the perfect buy low candidate as he seems poised for a breakout given the right circumstances. Not only does he appear ready for a breakout but he is young enough to potentially be apart of the next good Cubs team. The real question is not should the Cubs go after Porcello but how can they acquire him? Would they be interested in Marmol for Porcello if we footed most of the bill? Could he be a piece in a larger Matt Garza trade (unlikely at this point) or Darwin Barney trade? I dont have the answer to that question but I do think that Rick Porcello is worth going hard after because despite the Cubs recent free agent signings, they still need long term pitching help.

-Chris "Da Franchize" Hart
Posted on: November 29, 2012 8:12 pm
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Posted on: November 13, 2012 2:28 pm

Cubs Sign Scott Baker

Its been quite a while since I have written on this blog and I doubt there are many people who will read this that remember me, so I guess I will essentially be starting over. So just a quick statement, this is a blog that is 90 percent dedicated to writing about the Cubs but I will also spend a some time analyzing MLB and other teams occasionally (Primarily when it gets time to do Team Previews). Anyways lets start breaking down this Scott Baker deal. 

The Cubs enter the 2012 season a full season into the all out rebuilding mode instituted by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. They have already brought in a huge wave of new talent at the low levels of the minors but are still a while a way from contention at the Major League level. That being said they still need to field a "Competitive" team for the 2013 season and this signing was the first step in doing that. At the trade deadline last year the Rotation was decimated by trades as we lost both Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm who had helped put together a farily decent Cubs rotation up to that point. So coming into the 2013 season Starting Pitching will be the Cubs primary focus along with another OF and a 3B. With the addition of Scott Baker the Cubs rotation for 2013 looks like this.

1. Jeff Samardzija-R
2. Matt Garza-R
3. Travis Wood-L
4. Scott Baker-R
5. Minor Leaguers.......

Obviously there is still work to be done but on paper it is not as bad of a rotation as the Cubs were fielding at the end of the 2012 season. Now we have discussed how the rotation looks but we really need to focus on what Scott Baker brings to the table and what are the problems with this deal. Lets start with the good stuff first.

Looking at his numbers on Fangraphs.com there are several things to take away about Scott Baker. First he is a Flyball pitcher that is going to give up some Home Runs, that is not a terrible thing as Wrigley can both hurt and help you there depending on the weather (think Ted Lilly). He posts solid strikeout rates ( 7.23 k/9 career) along with solid walk rates ( 2.1 bb/9 carrer). Also an interesting factor to watch will be how he adjusts to the National League. He has pitched his entire career with the Twins so he could see a boost in numbers due to change in leagues.

The problem is he has not pitched since 2011 due to an elbow injury. If he sufers a setback in his rehab we may have to wait to see him till later in the season. He has also only pitched 200 IP once in his career so that coinciding with the Injury makes me ask questions about his durability. The flyball tendencys are a bit concerning as well but I think the major issue is injury concern. 

So for $5.5 mill the Cubs have brought on a buy low candidate who has the potential to be a solid middle/back of the rotation option. This is a smart move for the Cubs because worst case scenario he dosnt pitch and you lose 5 mill this year and thats it, but if he is succesfull he could be a solid starter on a weak pitching staff and could even fetch some good prospects in a trade. This is the kind of deal that will likely summarize this offseason for the Cubs. Dont expect them to sign Josh Hamilton but they should be very active this winter picking up lots of buy low candidates that could surprise us.


Posted on: February 21, 2012 2:51 pm

NL Central Preview

This is a division that has lost a lot of talent with the Free Agent departures of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. While both their former teams should be competitive in 2012, this has left both teams weakend and an opportunity for the Reds to claim their 2nd division title in 3 years. So lets jump right in and break down the weakened NL Central!


 C- Devin Mesoraco/Ryan Hannigan
1B- Joey Votto
2B- Brandon Phillips
SS- Zack Cozart
3B- Scott Rolen/Todd Frazier
LF- Ryan Ludwick/Chris Heisey
CF- Drew Stubbs
RF- Jay Bruce


1. Johnny Cueto
2. Matt Latos
3. Bronson Arroyo
4. Mike Leake
5. Homer Bailey/Jeff Francis
6. Aroldis Chapman

CL- Ryan Madson
SU- Sean Marshall
SU- Nick Masset

The Reds had a very good off-season, realizing that their window of opportunity is now. They bolstered their rotation with the additions of Matt Latos and Jeff Francis. They also fortefied their bullpen with the addition of former Phillies closer Ryan Madson and former Cubs set-up man Sean Marshall. The offense is led by a trio of stars in Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce with some nice complementary players in Drew Stubbs, Devin Mesoraco and recently acquired LF; Ryan Ludwick. There are question marks at third and short but they still have a top tier offense. I think the Reds are a solid playoff team but I still think they have too many holes to win a world series (but anything can happen in baseball).   

2. ST. LOUIS Cardinals

C- Yadier Molina
1B- Lance Berkman
2B- Daniel Descalso
SS- Rafael Furcal
3B- David Freese
LF- Matt Holliday
CF- Jon Jay
RF- Carlos Beltran


1. Chris Carpenter
2. Adam Wainwright
3. Jamie Garcia
4. Kyle Lohse
5. Jake Westbrook

CL- Jason Motte
SU- Fernando Salas
SU- Mitchell Boggs

The loss of Albert Pujols is devestating and the retiring of LaRussa is going to hurt as well, but I still think the Cardinals can be a competitive team in 2012.This could be the year of David Freese and they still have a solid core with Berkman, Holliday, Molina and Beltran. The key will be how Adam Wainwright's return goes as he could push the Cardinals into contention with the Reds. I still think in the end it will be tough for the Cardinals to win the division as they have taken too many losses in the offseason and the Reds have gotten exponentially better.

3. MILWAUKEE Brewers

C- Jonathan Lucroy
1B- Mat Gamel
2B- Rickie Weeks
SS- Alex Gonzalez
3B- Aramis Ramirez
LF- Norichika Aoki/Ryan Braun
CF- Njer Morgan/Carlos Gomez
RF- Corey Hart


1. Yovani Gallardo
2. Zack Grienke
3. Shaun Marcum
4. Randy Wolf
5. Chris Narveson

CL- John Axford
SU- Francisco Rodriguez
SU- Kameron Loe

Losing Prince Fielder and 50 games of Ryan Braun is HUGE! With Braun I might have still picked them to win the division as they have the best top of the rotation in the division. With the hit to the offense even with the additions of Aramis Ramirez, Norichika Aoki and a potential breakout season from Mat Gamel I dont think they can realistically win the division. The staff IS stacked and expect an even better season from Greinke as the stats show he was much better than his ERA indicated. The Brewers are still a very dangerous team that could sneak into contention as many people are counting them out. 


C- Geovany Soto
1B- Bryan LaHair/Anthony Rizzo
2B- Darwin Barney
SS- Starlin Castro
3B- Ian Stewart
LF- Alfonso Soriano
CF- Marlon Byrd
RF- David DeJesus


1. Matt Garza
2. Ryan Dempster
3. Paul Maholm
4. Travis Wood
5. Chris Volstad/Randy Wells

CL- Carlos Marmol
SU- Kerry Wood
SU- Jeff Samardzija

The Cubs are going through a complete rebuild and although you can never completely rule out a team they really have no chance to win the division (this coming from a Cubs Fan). The offense is going to be rough as they lack a true middle of the order hitter. The rotation is vastly improved from 2011 as they actual have a surplus of starters now, and while they might not all be top arms there is some upside for guys like Travis Wood and Chris Volstad. The Cubs may not be in the playoff hunt but they should be as good if not a little better than in 2011 and pretty exciting to watch.


C- Rod Barajas 
1B- Garrett Jones
2B- Neil Walker
SS- Clint Barmes
3B- Pedro Alvarez/Casey McGehee
LF- Alex Presley
CF- Andrew McCutchen
RF- Jose Tabata


1. Charlie Morton
2. Erik Bedard
3. A.J. Burnett
4. James McDonald
5. Jeff Karstens/Kevin Correia

CL- Joel Hanrahan
SU- Evan Meek
SU- Jason Grilli

The Pirates were the suprise first half team last season and at one point was winning the division. Eventually they collapsed due to their youth and a plethora of injuries but they got Pittsburgh excited about baseball again. The offense should be better this season with an upgrade at short and a couple of potential bounce back seasons. The rotation is also better with the addition of A.J. Burnett to eat some innings and Erik Bedard to get in some good starts. I still think the bullpen was very fluky last season and will regress but still the Pirates are no longer the worst team in baseball. I see a couple win improvement from last year and they could beat out the Cubs for fourth place. 

6. HOUSTON Astros

C- Jason Castro
1B- Carlos Lee/Brett Wallace
2B- Jose Altuve 
SS- Jed Lowrie/Angel Sanchez
3B- Jimmy Paredes
LF- J.D. Martinez
CF- Jordan Schafer/Jason Bourgeois
RF- Brian Boguesevic


1. Wandy Rodriguez
2. Brett Myers
3. Bud Norris
4. Livan Hernandez
5. Jordan Lyles/J.A. Happ

CL- Brandon Lyon
SU- Wilton Lopez
SU- Fernando Rodriguez

There should be no argument that the Astros are the worst team in the division and possibly in the National League. Luckily this is their last season in the NL Central before their jump to the AL West. The offense is full of names that few people outside of diehard baseball fans know and the bullpen looks rough. I actually think their rotation is pretty solid (Im a big fan of Bud Norris and Jordan Lyles) but I dont think its enough to carry them out of the division cellar. 

All in all the NL Central is weak in comparison to previous years but it always seems that when the division looks weak they produce a team that goes to the world series. This was a tough call for this spot between the NL Central and the AL West but I think the extra teams help put the NL Central above but not for long.

Posted on: January 24, 2012 1:15 pm

AL Central Preview

I have had a hard time keeping up with this blog the past year or so, but that does not mean i haven't kept up with baseball. I have vigoursly been working on my 2012 MLB Prediction and now that they have been completed I will start releasing them division by division in order of weakest to strongest division. So lets start with the division i think to be the weakest; the American League Central.

The AL Central has one dominant team that none of the other teams really come close to in the Detroit Tigers. The Indians are on the rise but i dont see them improving drastically over their 2011 season and the Royals don't have the pitching yet. Its also strange looking at these divison rankings as the two teams that used to be the class of the division are now securly in the bottom 2 slots. Here is a look at my rankings followed by each teams current depth chart and breif analysis of their strengths and weaknesses.


C- Alex Avila
1B- Miguel Cabrera
2B- Ramon Santiago
SS- Jhonny Peralta
3B- Brandon Inge/Don Kelly
LF- Ryan Raburn
CF- Austin Jackson
RF- Brennan Boesch
DH- Delmon Young


1. Justin Verlander
2. Doug Fister
3. Max Scherzer
4. Rick Porcello
5. Jacob Turner/Andy Oliver

CL- Jose Valverde
SU- Joaquin Benoit
SU- Octavio Dotel

They have the strongest offense and rotation in the division although this is a relatively weak offensive division. The loss of Victor Martinez to injury is going to hurt, but they may be able to find a "servicable" replacement pretty cheap on the free agent market. The Rotation is solid across the board and they have a legitimate Ace but are they willing to role with Turner as their 5th starter or will they add another arm? All in all this is a solid playoff team although i dont think they are a world series contender.


C- Lou Marson/Carlos Santana
1B- Carlos Santana/Matt LaPorta
2B- Jason Kipnis
SS- Asdrubal Cabrera
3B- Jack Hannahan/Lonnie Chisenhall
LF- Michael Brantley
CF- Grady Sizemore
RF- Shin-Soo Choo
DH- Travis Hafner

1. Ubaldo Jimenez
2. Fausta Carmona?
3. Justin Masterson
4. Josh Tomlin
5. Derek Lowe

CL- Chris Perez
SU- Rafael Perez
SU- Tony Sipp

This is definitely a team on the rise. There are some intriguing rising stars in Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis and Justin Masterson that will keep this team in the playoff hunt. While there offense is close to the Tigers now with the loss of Victor Martinez, their starting rotation is a notch or two below that of the Tigers, Ubaldo is unpredictable and Fausta Carmona's status (and name) are in question. This is a team that if everything goes right for them could be in a tight race with the Tigers but in all likelyhood are just a .500 team.


C- Salvador Perez
1B- Eric Hosmer
2B- Johnny Giavotella
SS- Alcides Escobar
3B- Mike Moustakas
LF- Alex Gordon
CF- Lorenzo Cain
RF- Jeff Francoeur
DH- Billy Butler

1. Luke Hochevar
2. Bruce Chen
3. Jonathan Sanchez
4. Felipe Paulino
5. Danny Duffy

CL- Joakim Soria
SU- Jonathan Broxton
SU- Aaron Crow

We have been talking about the Royals farm system for several years now and the those prized prospects are finally starting to emerge. While the pitching prospects struggled last year, the offensive ones have begun to take their spots on the roster. The entire infield is made up of top prospects that all have all-star potential with the exeption of Alcides Escobar (although a gold glove may not be out of the question). As it was this was a very good offense in 2011, and I expect it to continue to improve in 2012 but the pitching staff is where this roster needs improvement. The addition of Sanchez provides depth but they still lack top of the rotation arms. With this pitching staff i doubt they can do better than sub .500 but if some of their prized arms come up and contribute they could be a .500 team. I still think this team is about 2 years away from true contention.


C- Joe Mauer/Ryan Doumit
1B- Justin Morneau/Ryan Doumit
2B- Alexi Casilla
SS- Jamey Carroll
3B- Danny Valencia
LF- Ben Revere
CF- Denard Span
RF- Josh Willingham
DH- Trevor Plouffe

1. Carl Pavano
2. Francisco Liriano
3. Scott Baker
4. Nick Blackburn
5. Brian Duensing/Jason Marquis

CL- Matt Capps
SU- Glen Perkins
SU- Alex Burnett

Once the class of the division the Twins now are struggling to get to .500. This is what happens when your top stars become injury prone and you have a poor supporting cast around them. The offense is weak unless Morneau and Mauer can return to MVP form and the pitching staff is mediocre to bad. They lack a top of the rotation starter and the bullpen is a mess as well. I dont think they will finish any lower than fourth but i dont think there is a lot of potential to finish better than that either.

5. CHICAGO White Sox

C- A.J. Pierzynski
1B- Paul Konerko
2B- Gordon Beckham
SS- Alexei Ramirez
3B- Brent Morel
LF- Alejandro De Aza
CF- Alex Rios
RF- Dayan Viciedo
DH- Adam Dunn

1. John Danks
2. Gavin Floyd
3. Phil Humber
4. Chris Sale
5. Jake Peavy

CL- Matt Thorton
SU- Jesse Crain
SU- Will Ohman

Another team that once dominated the division but has fallen on hard times. Unlike the Twins I think there is more room for improvement as the roster is younger and has more upside. That being said they have to prove it first, thats why have put them this low. It's not the roster that has changed but they have changed to a very inexperienced manager which could lead to some issues. The pitching staff is actually decent but the offense is what needs work. 5th place is a starting point for the White Sox but I could see them finishing ahead of the Twins and ahead of the Royals would be a best case scenario.

So there is my 2012 AL Central preview, look out for my next preview later this week.

Posted on: August 5, 2011 7:57 pm

NL Central Trade Deadline Analysis

Two days ago I posted my NL East Trade Deadline Analysis, as I took a look at how the teams in that division either got better or worse. Today we will take a look at the NL Central. There is technically a four team race for the NL Central crown but i feel we can realistically count out the Pirates and Reds as the Reds have been far too inconsistent and the Pirates are starting to putter out. 3 of those for teams made somewhat important moves and one sat quietly. The Cubs and the Astros are looking to rebuild but only one team has committed to a full rebuilding project. So let’s dive right in and analyze these deadline moves by the NL Central.

  Pittsburgh- Acquired 1B- Derrek Lee from Baltimore for 1B- Aaron Baker

                - Acquired OF- Ryan Ludwick from San Diego for A Player to be Named Later

 The Pirates are a fringe contender in the NL Central, they obviously realized this and made moves that improve the club without giving up top prospects. Neither player is going to push the Pirates to the post season but they still may be able to keep them over .500 for the first time in 18 years. Both players will likely only play on the Pirates for this season as they will be free agents next season, but the moves show to the players that Management believes in them. All in all these moves are more for PR rather than actually improving the club, as they are only marginal upgrades but are solid veterans who can boost morale.

  Chicago Cubs- Acquired OF- Abner Abreu and P- Carlton Smith from Cleveland for OF- Kosuke Fukudome

  I am a fan of Abner Abreu, and Carlton Smith may be a bullpen contributor in the near future so this is not a bad deal for the Cubs. Fukudome has never lived up to the hype that he received when he signed in 2008, his defense has eroded the past 2 seasons and his offensive numbers have probably been the worst of his career in 2011 so I am amazed the Cubs were able to get anybody interesting. The main complaint about the Cubs deadline is that they didn’t dump more of their overpaid under producing players and commit to a rebuild. Abner Abreu is an intriguing outfielder who has pop and speed with a strong arm in the outfield but lacks plate discipline, so he could be a hit or a miss type player. Carlton Smith is a very average reliever but has made it to AAA so an appearance at the Major League level either this year or next is not out of the question.

  Houston- Acquired P-Jarred Cosart, 1B/OF- Jonathan Singleton, P- Josh Zied from Philadelphia for OF- Hunter Pence

              -Acquired OF- Jordan Schafer, P- Brett Oberholtzer, P- Paul Clemens, P- Juan Abreu from Atlanta for OF- Michael Bourn

  Houston replenished their farm system by dealing their two best hitters, but many believe the Astros should have held out for more talented players. Cozart immediately becomes the Astros top pitching prospect, he is still a while away from the big leagues but he is above average to good in almost all aspects of his game. Singleton is another young player that is at the low level minors but has tremendous upside. He will hit for good average and power and has good plate discipline, and he instantly becomes the Astros top hitting prospect in my mind. Josh Zeid is a mediocre pitching prospect who is at the AA level but has struggled this year, if he makes the big leagues he will likely be a middle reliever. The return for Michael Bourn was a lot less exciting, especially if you look at the prospects Atlanta has. Jordan Schafer is the replacement for Bourn in center and he could be a serviceable one. He has great speed with some power, but lacks the ability to make consistent contact. He is still young and has room to improve so Schafer still has the potential to be a star but more likely he will be a solid major league starter. Brett Oberholtzer is a solid lefty pitching prospect with good command and good homerun suppression ability, just not a huge strikeout pitcher, but he will get his fair share. I am actually a fan of Oberholtzer and I think that he could be a solid middle of the rotation guy down the road. Paul Clemens is another decent prospect, but while his numbers look ok AA this year I’m just not a huge fan. He has decent strikeout ability but not as good of command as Oberholtzer or as good of a homerun suppression rate. He could be a back of the rotation starter or reliever down the road. Juan Abreu is one of those middle relievers who has great strikeout ability but lacks good command to be a starter. He has played well at AAA in 2011 so I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays an important role in the Astros 2012 bullpen. Overall they Astros have gotten some nice prospects but they should have been able to get better ones for the players they gave up.

 St. Louis- Acquired P- Edwin Jackson, OF- Corey Patterson, P- Marc Rzepcynski, P- Octavio Dotel from Chicago White Sox and Toronto     for OF- Colby Rasmus, P- Trever Miller, P- Brian Tallet, P- P.J. Walters

               Acquired SS- Rafael Furcal from Los Angeles Dodgers for OF- Alex Castellanos

 I think the Cardinals made the most surprising moves near the deadline. I had heard rumors that Rasmus was going to get shipped out of St. Louis but then they were always quickly denied. The Cardinals gave up on a very talented CF but acquired a well traveled but effective starter who should help them make a post-season push. The rest of the players are pretty good as well, Corey Patterson can still be a solid 4th outfielder and Rzepcynski and Dotel should both be solid middle relievers for the Cardnials. I was not crazy about the Rafael Furcal trade, he really has been bad this year, but the benefit is having another veteran starter for the stretch run i guess. The problem is his bat has been abysmal, he is injury prone and he is only playing average defense at best this year. All in all the Cardinals did make a big splash bringing in (can i call him a journey man at 27?) Edwin Jackson along with some smaller pieces and it should be a close battle for the NL Central crown.

 Cincinnati- Acquired OF- Bill Rhinehart and P- Chris Manno from the Nationals for OF- Jonny Gomes

 This trade really has no impact on the season or down the road besides the fact the Reds were smart enough to get rid of Gomes. Rhinehart seems like he will be a Quad A type player or at best a 4<sup>th</sup> outfield type. Manno is a young reliever sitting at High A who has good strikeout ability but is mediocre besides that. He is too young right now for me to make a prediction of what he might do at the majors because he could still not make it. Surprisingly the Reds got something for Gomes but again this trade really does nothing for the Reds.


Overall Summary- If you noticed I did not include the Francisco Rodriguez trade because it did not happen as close to the deadline. The Cardinals and Astros made the biggest moves of the deadline, but for very different reasons and the Pirates made 2 smaller moves. The Cubs and Reds did the least and both needed to do more. Overall I think the Cardinals are the winners of the Central at the deadline but I’m not sure they have enough to beat the Brewers for the division.

Posted on: July 20, 2011 5:42 pm

Top 20 Players by Position- Shortstop

I have finished my 3rd entry in the top 20 by position series and today we will take a look at shortstop. This position was almost as challenging as Catcher, as the divisions in talent are not as clear. Again remember these rankings are based on current, past and future production not the current season alone. Also remember that the specific rankings are not as important as getting the players in the correct tiers, so many players are interchangable at specific rankings within a tier. Now lets dive right into the Shortstop rankings.

Tier 1- These guys are truly the elite players at their position and are MVP candidates year in and year out.

1. Troy Tulowitzki (COL)- Clearly the best all around shortsop in the game, provides average, power, speed and superb defense and always an MVP candidate.

2. Jose Reyes (NYM)- An excellent hitter who provides a lethal combo of average and speed with some power. The reason he is 2nd is only because his defense just does not matchup to Tulowitzki's.

3. Hanley Ramirez (FLA)- He may be having a down year and people may question his motivation but when he is on he is one of the best ballplayers in the game. He provides a great combo of power and speed and can easily hit over .300 but lacks good defensive play.

Tier 2- These guys are some of the best shortstops in the game today and are good ballplayers. But they are not the superstars like the guys in the top tier.

4. Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE)- Has really put it all together in a breakout campaign in 2011. He hits for a solid average, has good pop and speed. He is also just 25 so the sky is the limit for Cabrera.

5. J.J. Hardy (BAL)- While he may not have the speed of the guys above him, he may be one of the better hitters of the bunch. He hits for a solid average with good power and is a good defender. He is just entering his prime years so there is several more years of excellent production ahead.

6. Yunel Escobar (TOR)- Being traded Toronto seems to have been a good thing for Escobar as he has become better than ever. He can hit for a good average with solid power and is a solid defender. He is yet another player entering his prime years so there are several seasons of good production ahead.

7. Jhonny Peralta (DET)- Very similar to Hardy and Escobar in terms of production, provides a good average with good power and solid defense.

8. Elvis Andrus (TEX)- Only 22 years old and already one of the best in the game. He provides solid average with blazing speed and great defense.

9. Starlin Castro (CHC)- At 21 years old and his potential he should eventually be a top tier guy. But already he easily is in the top 15 among shortstops. He provides a great average with good speed and power potential (doubles and triples that could turn into homeruns) but his defense is very raw which holds him back.

10. Alexei Ramirez (CHW)- An all around solid talent but is not outstanding in any one category. He is in his prime years so we should se several more good seasons out of him.

11. Jimmy Rollins (PHI)- Age has regressed his talents somewhat but he is still easily in the second tier in terms of talent. He provides a decent average with a solid power, speed combination and good defense.

12. Erick Aybar (LAA)- He seems to be on the way up and is now in his prime years. He hits for a solid average, has good speed and average power along with average defense.

13. Stephen Drew (ARI)- He's regressed some from last year but he is still in his prime years. He can put up a solid average with decent power and a little speed to go along with above average to good defense.

Tier 3- There were only 2 guys that i thought fit into this teir. Both are young guys who were top prospects and are on the rise. They still have a lot of work to do but have potential to move up into the next tier soon.

14. Alcides Escobar (KCR)- His offense has been a liability for most of the season although he has started to hit better as of late but his defense is phenominal. He is an average contact hitter with virtualy no power but good speed. But as I said his defense is where his value lies, i would not be surprised to see him win some gold gloves in the future.

15. Ian Desmond (WAS)- He has taken a major step back on the offensive side but has improved his defense in his sophmore campaign. He should be able to provide a decent batting average with above average power and good speed to go along with his average defense. 

Tier 4- These are the old guys who may have once been higher on the list but due to age and declining production have been knocked to the last tier.

16. Clint Barmes (HOU)- In terms of onfield production he is much better than the guys in this tier. But he is reaching the end of his prime years and his history is somewhat eratic. But he has provided good defense to compliment league average hitting with little basestealing ability.

17. Brendan Ryan (SEA)- His value lies in his defense where he can be a great defender. But his hitting leaves something to be desired with average hitting with no power and average basestealing ability.

18. Derek Jeter (NYY)- He may have gotten his 3,000th hit this season but he is clearly at the tail end of his career. He is now an average hitter in terms of both power and contact but still provides decent basestealing ability. The defense is pretty average as well and with little upside he has nowhere to go but down.

19. Marco Scutaro (BOS)- Another example of an old guy with little left in his bat. He can still hit for a respectable average with some power but virtualy no basestealing ability and his defense has been ok this year, but his career numbers have been eratic.

20. Jamey Carrol (LAD)- As usual there were a number of candidates that could fit in this spot. I decided to go with the most valuable in terms of WAR. He has no upside as he is already 37 years old but he has performed consistently over the past few seasons that he may still put up solid numbers for a few more years.

Summary- There are only a few Superstars at shortstop right now, but the second tier is filled with a lot of very talented players that standout because of the position they play. Look for guys such as Starlin Castro, Elvis Andrus, Alcides Escobar and Ian Desmond to rise to the upper tiers of the position.
Posted on: July 19, 2011 4:47 pm

Top 20 Players by Position- Second Base

I have finally finished the second entry in my Top 20 Players by Position series. Today we will take a look at second base. This list was much easier to develop in comparison to the Catcher list. I think that is partly due to it being the second list so i have a better feel for what i want to do with it, but also because i think there is a much more defined crop of players at second base. Remember the players are not ranked only on their current performance but on past and future performance as well. So lets dive right into the top 20 Second Basemen.

Tier 1- These are the superstars at the position, who generally are good in almost every aspect of the game and can stack up against the best at any position.

1. Dustin Pedroia (BOS)- Clearly the top choice as he does everything, hit for average, some power, has good speed and plays good defense. Has contributed to winning a world series and winning an MVP also help him rank as the top at his position.

2. Ian Kinsler (TEX)- Has turned into a multi category stud as he provides excellent power, speed and defense. He is still in his prime so there are likely several more years of solid production ahead.

3. Rickie Weeks (MIL)- It took him a little while to get his career going but now he has figured it out and turned into one of the best in the game. He provides excellent power, has decent speed and has turned into an above average defender on a good team.

4. Robinson Cano (NYY)- Cano gets in this tier on his hitting prowess alone, he may be the best hitter in this tier and is just now in his prime years. But he cannot rank at the top of the tier because he lacks the speed and defensive ability of the guys above him on the list.

5. Chase Utley (PHI)- He gets one here based on his past performance and the hope that he can put a couple more healthy seasons together. Because when healthy he can be one of the best in the game providing power, contact, speed and defense.

6. Ben Zobrist (TB)- While he may not hit for as high of an average as the guys above him he provides solid power and speed to compliment excellent defense and versatility.

Tier 2
- With the exception of Brandon Phillips everyone in this tier is on the way up. These are guys who are missing a thing or two from their game that keeps them from being one of the elite players in the league.

7. Howie Kendrick (LAA)- While his numbers this season matchup with those in the top tier his career numbers dont matchup with the guys above him. He may be in the top tier next year if he keeps up this pace of solid average, power, speed and great defense.

8. Brandon Phillips (CIN)- He still provides excellent defense but his offensive numbers are on the decline. He is no longer a 30-30 threat but he can still hit for a nice average and provide a 15-15 season with outstanding defense.

9. Danny Espinosa (WAS)- If he continues his pace he will win Rookie of the year and has helped lead the Nationals to a respectable record thus far. While his average is not great, its skewed by a rough start of the season and he provides excellent power and speed with plus defense.

10. Neil Walker (PIT)- One of the contributers to the turn around in Pittsburgh, he provides a solid average and power with some speed. At age 25 he still has room for growth and could move his way up the list.

Tier 3
-This tier contains 3 young guys who have been considered top prospects that are now producing at the major league level along with 2 veterans that have dissapointed thus far.

11. Gordon Beckham (CHW)- Still has the potential to be a star at the age of 24 but has not lived up to it yet. While he may not be the star some thought he would be already he is a solid second baseman. He is mediocre all around with above average defense based on his UZR.

12. Dustin Ackley (SEA) He moved very quickly through the Marniers farm system and has already looked at home at the major league level. He should provide a good average with solid power and some speed to compliment solid defense. His age of 23 leaves plenty of time to improve on his already good production.

13. Kelly Johnson (ARI)- Has regressed from his outstanding 2010 season, but while his average and OBP have dipped he is still providing excellent power and has some speed.

14. Dan Uggla (ATL)- Another all star who has seen his batting average plummet. But he is still providing some pop with a .175 ISO (Isolated Power). I am being extemely generous with this spot based on his performance this season but i have a feeling he can turn it around and when he does he can be one of the best hitting second basemen in the game.

15. Jemile Weeks (OAK)- Another interesting prospect who has made it to the majors and performed very well. While he may provide little to no power he should hit for a good average and provide tremendous speed on the base paths.

Tier 4- These guys may be every day startes but none of them will every be much more than that.

16. Darwin Barney (CHC)- In terms of actual production in 2011, Barney has been one of the best second basemen in the game. But in terms of his skill set he does not matchup with the guys ahead of him. Barney is a grind it out type player who will hit for a good average and play solid defense but he wont hit for much power and wont steal many bases.

17. Mark Ellis (COL)- Ellis looked to be on his way down but after being traded to Colorado has shown some new life. When he is performing he can hit for a solid batting average with decent power and speed and above average defense. But his age and overall declining performance push him to this spot.

18. Alexi Casilla (MIN)- He is a decent young second basemen who's best attribute thus far in terms of production has been stolen bases. He can hit for an OK average and play average defense but provides little power. His age and speed are what push him to this spot.

19. Jeff Keppinger (HOU)- After missing some time due to injury Keppinger has played fairly well. He is already over 30 and will never produce the numbers to get out of this tier but he is a usefull starter.

20. Robert Andino (BAL)- This was the toughest spot to fill, there were a number of guys i could have gone with here but decided to go with the youngest one. Again he is the definition of an average players as are most of the guys at this point on the list.

Summary- The top 3 tiers were the easiest to rate, but when i got to the 4th tier there was a significant dropoff in talent. Again as i said in my last post the specific ranking is not as important as getting the guys in the right tier. Many of the guys within tiers are interchangable at a specific number ranking. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.
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