Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Big Signings Winners and Losers

Carlos Beltran, signed by the Cardinals to try to fill the big gap left by Albert Pujols' departure, had a great May, hitting .326 with ten home runs and 31 RBIs. He did well in June too - .337 with five homers and 19 ribbies. And we're done. He hit just .200 in July and .211 in August with a total of eight homers for the two months. Though he leads the team with 29 home runs (18 of them at home) his .267 average is well below his .282 career mark. He ranks eighth among Cardinal regulars in OBP and fifth in OPS.  St. Louis won five out of six in late August but have been 6-13 since and are now eleven games out. They could have used a bit more of the the normal Carlos Beltran.

As for Pujols, everybody knows he got off to a horrible start, .217 with no home runs and just four runs batted in for April. May was much better though - just .263,  but eight home runs and 24 RBIs. In June he upped his average to a Pujols type .326 with four home runs and 19 RBIs and was his old self again in July - .330, 8, 20. He hit another nine bombs in August and hit .312. September was not so good (.226 and just one home run). 

Pujols ranks a disappointing 27th in the majors in OPS but he is fifteenth in Slugging Percentage and tenth in RBIs. So Albert had made up for his lousy start and the Angels, who were 5-13 in the first half of August, recovered nicely and lost just three of eighteen games from then 'til September 9. They're at 80-67 now and Albert has certainly been a big part of that - until the last few days at least.

Detroit signed Prince Fielder, who is tied for 30th in the AL with just 26 home runs. But when you think back to  the years when he hit 50 and 46 home runs in Milwaukee you also need to think of the years he hit 28 and 32. His average has been consistent throughout the season (months of .330, 315,.305, and .370). His OPS is 9th best in the AL but he's 21st in slugging and not even in the top 40 in WAR (Wins against Replacement).

The Twins grabbed Josh Willingham from the A's for 21 million over three years. He hit .246 with 29 home runs in 2011.  Willingham's having his best year yet - 34 home runs - and trails only Miguel Cabrera and Josh Hamilton in runs batted in with 105.

The A's signed Yoennis Cespedes out of Cuba after he hit a (Cuban) record 33 home runs in 2011. A terrific center fielder, Cespedes has nineteen home runs this year and is batting .292 with an .842 OPS.

The Orioles got Wei-Yin Chen for $3 million. Though his stats are not all that impressive, he has been an important part of the Orioles' rotation, winning twelve against nine losses and using up lots of innings.

One of the big moves made in the off season was by Tampa Bay, who got Carlos Pena back from the Cubs after he hit 28 homers in 2011 (though he hit just .225). Pena had hit 46, 31, then 39 home runs from 2007 to 2009 with the Devil Rays, but this year he has just 17 and is batting a lowly .194 with 170 strikeouts.

The Rays have fared much better with Fernando Rodney. Though it may not be a shock considering how well closers do in Tampa Bay. They signed him for $2 million even though he had not posted an ERA or FIP (fielding independent pitching) under four since 2007 and last year with the Angles his walk ratio was higher than his strikeout ratio. But eliminating the high leg kick at the start of his delivery seems to have delivered results. This year his strikeout to walk ratio has gone from 0.93 to 5.00. He's saved 43 games (tied for best), his ERA is 0.66, and opponents are hitting just .167.

Hiroki Kuroda, who is earning a cool $10 mill with the Yankees (which probably makes him about average on the team) is 14-10 and among the league leaders (fifth) in WAR. His ERA and WHIP rank seventh in the AL.

Smart re-signings include St. Louis re-inking Yadier Molina. He was 14, 65, .305 in 2011 and is 19, 67, .320  so far this year. The Phillies kept Jimmy Rollins who hit 16 dingers in 2011 and is nearing his career high with 21 this year. Perhaps the smartest of all was the Blue Jays' retention of  Edwin Encarnacion. He had 17 homers and 55 RBIs in 2011 and already has 40 home runs and 102 ribbies this season. His .947 OPS is third best in the AL. Of course laying out big bucks to keep a player is a bit more of a challenge for Toronto than it it is for some teams.


Rick Blechta said...

Great overview, Will! I wonder how some of the more smaller monetary signings worked out for teams.

Will Braund said...

Good question, I looked at and was going to write about some of the tiny, MLB cab fare (one or two million) signings and there were no remarkable ones. Jim Thome would be an example of one who hasn't been brutal, but hasn't set the world on fire either. I didn't want the article to be too long so I had to edit myself - which I hate.