Posts Tagged ‘Jose Bautista’

With the news that Toronto Blue Jays slugger and all-time leading (one time) All-Star vote getter Jose Bautista (that was a mouthful) will be entering the 2011 All-Star Game Home Run Derby I have heard more than a few people mention the possibility of the dreaded “jinx”.  I am not sure where this started and there isn’t a worse crowd than the baseball world to bring out mostly unfounded superstition.

But I was bored and I thought I would give a lazy effort to see if there was any merit at all to this theory that a player will magically fall off after hitting in the derby.  For this exercise I must caution it is very rudimentary and doesn’t include a few things I was either not in the mood to look up like HR/FB ratio in the second half and overall FB% which would have given us a much better overall indicator of any supposed drop off.

Second a lot of players are just going to simply tire down the stretch and their homerun numbers suffer.  Third some of the players on this list aren’t really just homerun hitters and possibly had big first half numbers (hence, making the all-star game) that were never sustainable over a full season and thus the inevitable second half decline to bring their overall numbers back into line.

I included the past five HR derby’s and used the two finalists from each as presumably the longer you go in this competition the worse it will supposedly “wreck” your swing.  The “1st half” numbers are in bold and the “2nd half” or post all-star game numbers aren’t.

2010 HR AB/HR HR AB/HR
D.Ortiz 18 14 14 19
H.Ramirez 13 25 8 27
2009 HR AB/HR HR AB/HR
P.Fielder 22 14 24 12
N.Cruz 22 13 11 15
2008 HR AB/HR HR AB/HR
J.Morneau 14 26 9 28
J.Hamilton 21 18 11 22
2007 HR AB/HR HR AB/HR
V.Guerrero 14 26 13 20
A.Rios 17 20 7 41
2006 HR AB/HR HR AB/HR
R.Howard 28 11 30 8.8!
D.Wright 20 17 6 40
2005 HR AB/HR HR AB/HR
B.Abreu 18 18 6 44
I.Rodriguez 6 49 8 25

Again with a very basic look at the past five homerun derby finalists we see that of the twelve players involved seven had worse overall performances when considering AB/HR.  While it isn’t a comprehensive study I don’t feel that anything conclusive could be shown with the data presented nor did I expect it to. 

Some guys have hot second half’s like the unreal 2006 season by Ryan Howard (seriously, what a season!) and some guys were always going to fall off in terms of overall power (like David Wright in 2006). 

So for anybody thinking this could potentially ruin the best hitter in the game, think again.  If Jose Bautista goes on to a worse second half it will have nothing to do with a serious version of batting practise.  For those curious here are Jose Bautista’s current HR numbers heading into the all-star game. 

Bautista – 27 HRs, one every 10 ABs.

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As the Toronto Blue Jays embark on their 35th season in major league baseball there is a renewed sense of optimism and hope resonating through Blue Jays nation.  General Manager Alex Anthopoulos has taken the reigns as new leader of the team and has shown himself to be quite capable, even shrewd. 

The Blue Jays surprisingly finished the 2010 season with an 85 win season in the super tough AL East division and again showed they are one of the better teams in baseball when considering strength of schedule – a major crutch for the team over the past decade, and certainly an ongoing challenge going forward.

Heading into 2011 the optimism isn’t necessarily only for the current roster and chances for a playoff run but the overall direction of the team.  Simply put the Toronto Blue Jays are poised to join baseball’s elite in the next 2-3 seasons given the new commitment to player development, draft resources and controlling costs with young assets.

Ownership has given the team the needed resources to ensure the Blue Jays are competitive in the international free agent market and the Jays were among the final few teams to nearly land Cuban lefty Aroldis Chapman (and his 105.1 MPH fastball).  The Jays were able to land a Cuban of their own in 21-year old SS Adeiny Hechavarria.  It continued last summer when the Jays landed top Venezuelan teenage pitching prospect Adonis Cardona, a right handed pitcher signed for record 2.8 million dollar bonus (in Venezuela). 

The Blue Jays have told fans that money will not be an issue if and when the team is ready to compete at the highest level (playoffs) and have gone on record as saying the payroll will easily eclipse $100MM if needed.  With a few big name free agent hitters hitting the open market at the end of this season (including Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder) the Jays could be in a prime spot to land one of the big free agents.

This past offseason saw Alex Anthopoulos pull off one of the biggest heists in recent memory when he managed to unload the entire Vernon Wells contract to the Los Angeles Angels, saving nearly $90MM over the next few years.  Notice I do not even need to mention if a player was returned to the Jays for this to be an unbelievable deal for the Jays, Wells’ contract was that horrifying and crippling.

The Blue Jays also dealt their best pitcher from 2010 (stat wise) when they moved SP Shaun Marcum to the Milwaukee Brewers for their top prospect 2B/3B/OF Brett Lawrie.  His bat and being a Canadian are the makings of an instant fan favourite.  His suspect defence, lack of position and questionable facebook pictures are the detriments at this point. 

My money is on a solid, if not spectacular Blue Jays career and Lawrie was considered the best prospect moved in an offseason that also saw Zack Greinke and Matt Garza moved you have to be happy hearing that if you are a Jays fan.  Shaun Marcum will be missed mind you but on a pure talent basis he was likely our fourth or fifth best pitcher, and oldest to boot.

The Blue Jays decided that Jose Bautista was for real and signed him to a five year contract worth $65MM ensuring the top HR hitter in 2010 remains with the team.  I like the contract as Bautista is more than just empty HRs, he plays defence, gets on-base and has proven to be a solid clubhouse influence.  I reviewed his massive 2010 campaign against the best in Jays history, who had the best all-time Jays offensive season?

There have been more than a few reviews of this contract if you want a more thorough evaluation, here and here.  There is no trade clause attached so if the Blue Jays are so inclined, they could potentially move Bautista if the market dictates.

Other key departures:

RP Scott Downs, C John Buck, RP Kevin Gregg, LF Fred Lewis

Other key arrivals:

RP Frank Francisco, RP Jon Rauch, LF Juan Rivera, CF Rajai Davis, LF Scott Podsednick, RP Octavio Dotel.

The Blue Jays also said goodbye to a familiar face as manager Cito Gaston stepped aside as the team’s skipper and the Jays hired Boston Red Sox pitching Coach John Farrell to be the new manager.  The consensus around baseball is he will make an excellent manager and is a great leader for a young emerging ballclub like Toronto.  If only the Blue Jays could have brought back Dan Schulman to do their play-by-play on a nightly basis, this would have been a stellar offseason as opposed to only a good one.

Overall it is hard to argue against a solid offseason as the Jays saved a boatload of money, added a top Canadian prospect and really didn’t weaken their current team all that much in my mind.  The last bonus is with some of the shrewd moves made by AA the Blue Jays hold a ton of picks in the top 3 round of the upcoming 2011 Amateur MLB draft, one of the strongest drafts in recent memory.

Let’s take a look at the current 2011 team:

Catcher – JP Arencibia & Jose Molina.

Synopsis – There has been a lot of pressure placed on JP Arencibia heading into 2011 and more than a few people worried he might crack under it.  Arencibia lit up Las Vegas and AAA in the ultra-friendly hitters paradise (301/359/626 – .412 wOBA) and after Blue Jays fans enshrined him in Cooperstown after a 5-hit debut he struggled at the major league level. 

Arencibia is 25 years old and just sniffing the show now and unlike a lot of folks I am not sold that he is our catcher of the future.  I would give him every opportunity this year to prove me wrong but I am excited about the depth at catcher the organization has amassed with Travis D’Arnaud and Carlos Perez.  But he is a concern for me, as well as for Drew at Ghost Runner on First (great blog).

Jose Molina is our backup catcher with the required skills for that position.

This spot could be a real weakness for the Jays in 2011.

First Base – Adam Lind

Synopsis – Lind is hitting his prime offensive years (he will be 28 in July/2011) and after lighting up MLB pitchers in 2009 (.394 wOBA) he came back to earth hard in 2011 (.309 wOBA).  His BABIP was down 30 points compared to his career average, his HR/FB mark was down 6 percent but he also showed less patience and more hack-tastic tendencies at the plate.  I like the fans projection (at Fangraphs) of 278/333/487, around 25 HRs and below average defence.

Second Base – Aaron Hill

Synopsis – Hill is hitting his prime offensive years (turning 29 this month) and after lighting up MLB pitchers in 2009 (.357 wOBA) he came back to earth hard in 2011 (.291 wOBA).  His BABIP was down nearly 100 points compared to his career average, his HR/FB mark was down 5 percent but he also showed less patience and more hack-tastic tendencies at the plate.  I like the Bill James projection of 260/319/446, around 20 HRs and average defence.

Yes, eerily identical as both Hill and Lind struggled mightily in 2010 after tearing it up in 2009, both are being counted on to rebound in 2011 and both should.

Third Base – Jose Bautista

Synopsis – Possibly the most discussed player in baseball heading into 2011 with the widest range of projections and expectations.  One of the better seasons in Blue Jays history in 2010 the 30-year old Bautista heads into 2011 as the everyday third basemen and a guy the team will lean on heavily in the middle of its order.

I’m going to take Bill James projection again (251/355/509, 34 HRs) and I wish the Jays could play him in RF because his defence isn’t exactly stellar at the hot corner based on past reviews (-24 UZR for his career at 3B).  His patience will be highly valued in this line-up of mostly hackers, the Jays could be poised

Shortstop – Yunel Escobar

Synopsis – Another solid move by Alex Anthopoulos was managing to get a guy who some considered one of the best up-and-coming middle infielders in baseball only a few years ago.  Escobar is 28 years old and coming off a subpar offensive season in 2010 (.301 wOBA) but he plays an excellent SS (4.3 UZR in 2010) and should rebound with the stick.

Marcel projections look most reasonable (273/350/378, possibly 10 HRs) with excellent SS defence and a definite asset for the Jays in 2011.

Left Field – Juan Rivera

Synopsis – Though not often discussed Rivera does provide an intriguing option at the plate.  Looking at 2009, Rivera was basically Vernon Wells 2010 with a slash line of 287/332/478 to go with 25 HRs.  The 32-year old provides a veteran presence in the line-up who has a career .834 OPS versus left handed pitchers (an area the Jays struggled with last year).

He is below average defensively and provides little value outside of his bat, if that doesn’t rebound he could be one of the least valuable players in the game (WAR).

Centre Field – Rajai Davis

Synopsis – Acquired by the Blue Jays in the offseason the 30-year old Davis will be counted upon to play the majority of innings in centre field.  UZR was not kind to him last season (-7.1 in CF) however he has been an above average defender at the premium CF spot for most of his career, hopefully 2010 was the outlier.

Davis is another hacker in the sense he isn’t keen on taking the walk (career 5.9 BB%) like most of the Blue Jays line-up this year.  Davis biggest contribution will be on the base paths as the speedster has stolen 41 and 50 bases in the past two seasons.  Expect 280/325/390 with good CF defence and a lot of SBs as new manager John Farrell said he wanted to be more aggressive in this regard.

Right Field – Travis Snider

Synopsis – Here is the real wildcard for me heading into 2011.  Few remember that Snider is only 23-years old and was an extremely highly touted prospect – could this finally be the season he shows us why?  He’s another guy who won’t walk much but Bill James projects 274/338/499 with 22 HRs in 2011, numbers most Jay’s fans would accept.

Scott Podsednick and Corey Patterson could see some time in the outfield and each brings a little something to a team, whether it is speed, bench help or defence.

Designated Hitter – Edwin Encarnacion

Synopsis – If there ever was a candidate to not own a baseball glove, Encarnacion might be near the top (though in fairness it is his arm that is most erratic).  Say what you want about his porous defence but EE can do one thing well, hit for power.  He cranked out 21 HRs in only 367 PAs to go with a solid .482 SLG, .238 ISO and .339 wOBA. 

He fits right in with the rest of the Blue Jays hitters in the fact that he doesn’t appreciate ball four nearly enough (career 8.9 BB%) and this could be a real issue for the Jays again this season if the HR/FB ratio dries up.  EE will spell Lind at 1B occasionally and should provide some decent value as the teams DH this year.

Starting Rotation – Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Kyle Drabek, Jesse Litsch

This is a pretty solid group again for the Blue Jays with Romero anchoring the young rotation.  Brandon Morrow has to prove 2010 wasn’t a fluke and continue to build on his solid peripherals.  Brett Cecil might emerge as the ace of the staff by the end of this season if he continues to develop.  Kyle Drabek will be on a strict pitch/innings count but he has the promise to develop into a solid #2 or 3 pitcher.  Jesse Litsch isn’t flashy but when given the chance he has shown the ability to get hitters out consistently.

Here are the “Fans” (at Fangraphs) projections for each of our starting five for 2011:

  IP ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K/BB
R. Romero 212 3.75 3.77 7.5 3.4 2.2
B. Morrow 175 3.97 3.71 9.8 3.9 2.7
B. Cecil 186 4.16 4.11 6.6 2.7 2.2
K. Drabek 149 4.23 4.12 7.0 3.0 2.4
J. Litsch* 113 4.38 4.58 5.2 2.2 2.3

*Bill James projection (fans projection not available)

Marc  Rzepczynski  is another candidate for the fifth starter spot but I have to think that if Jesse Litsch is healthy the Jays will hand him the job.  Litsch could provide a decent trade return for a team looking for an arm at the deadline if he can establish his 2008 form (a league average starter).  With a staff as young as the Jays there are sure to be some hiccups along the way and health is always the big unknown from season to season.

The bullpen should be fairly strong again even with the loss of Scott Downs who has been consistently our best reliever during his Blue Jays career.

The group should consist of Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel, Jason Frasor, Shawn Camp, David Purcey and Jo-Jo Reyes.  AA is apparently enamoured with Reyes, enough so to keep Reyes on the roster as opposed to losing him to waivers as he is out of options (thank you reader Adam, Reyes was acquired in the Escobar trade from the Braves).  The Blue Jays have a ton of depth in the pen and this should serve them well come trade deadline day or again qualifying them and hopefully receiving compensatory draft picks.

Final Outlook:

It appears 2011 will be a year of transition as we prepare and groom some of our minor league prospect (more on that below) to hopefully turn the Blue Jays into full fledged contender in 2012.  This season won’t be embarrassing and the Jays have some surprise to the upside this year but I think Jays fans are willing to take a step back in the win column when considering how much long term ground is starting to be gained.

I think the Jays will be a .500 baseball club.

Join the ongoing conversation about the Toronto Blue Jays, Kyle Drabek and the world of baseball on TWITTER, follow me @tdotsports1

Up next: Top 10 Toronto Blue Jays Prospects

Most (or all) of the top prospect guru’s and sites and ranked or handed out grades to the Blue Jays group of prospects including Baseball America, Keith Law, John Sickels, Fangraphs and B-Pro and I have read nearly every scouting report, ranking and grade known to man.  I have participated in deep minor league drafts, have a keen interest in the top young ballplayers due to my active role in a DMB based simulation league and have basically been addicted to prospect porn for the past decade or so.

Food for thought? Will the Jays kick tires on acquiring Prince Fielder?

Check out the new Toronto Blue Jays blog AL Eastbound & Down!

I was reading a piece at Fangraphs regarding Prince Fielder and his imminent departure from the Milwaukee Brewers in the offseason given the impasse between management and Fielder’s agent, the vaunted Scott Boras.  Rumours peg the asking price for Fielder’s next contract between 120-150 million over 6-8 years and I am not going to argue that a defensively challenged overweight first basemen is worth that type of long term investment because very clearly he is not and even more clear is the Jays would never be able to sign a player to that type of contract.

My argument today is that Alex Anthopoulos and the Toronto Blue Jays should at the very least inquire into the asking price (from the Brewers) to bring in the powerful left handed hitting home run machine for the 2011 season.  I am not sure what the cost would be but one would have to assume it would likely be fairly high and it could ultimately cost the team their top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek.  Although everybody is extremely high on this kid I think this could be a move worth considering.

Consider me a contrarian in the valuation of Drabek but I am not a huge buyer of his stock and I think his value will never be higher coming off a successful (at first glance) minor league season.  The 23 year old posted a 2.94 ERA in 162 ‘AA’ innings in 2010 allowing 126 hits, walking 68 and striking out 132 while improving his ground ball tendencies slightly.  Like I said, at first glance it appears to be one heck of a season for a kid his age.

But glancing beyond the shiny ERA there are some red flags underneath the surface in terms of future success, at least for me.  Drabek posted a pedestrian 7.3 K/9 (for a top rated pitching prospect) while his BB/9 rose to nearly 4 walks per nine (3.78 BB/9) giving him a mediocre 1.9 K/BB.  Drabek was slightly aided by a low BABIP (.260) and his FIP was a more telling number of his actual season, coming in at a respectable but not spectacular 3.87. 

Now you would have to be a fool to think he is even close to a finished product and chances are he will improve, and could possibly improve a lot but at this point I don’t feel the peripherals match the expectations or scream ‘future star’.  Not that every pitcher requires a strikeout an inning to be successful (think Halladay, Roy) but the minor league strikeout numbers for a young pitcher are normally one of the indicators of future success in the big leagues and I think the jury is out on Drabek developing into a true number one or two starter.

Another reason I wouldn’t be too hesitant if Milwaukee were warm to this type of deal is the Jays would be dealing 100% from a point of strength as they are currently fairly loaded with a plethora of major league ready arms under the age of 28.  Their current rotation is among the best in the game with Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil and whoever they decide to slot in at the number five spot.  There is a chance Drabek never develops into the type of big league starter who is capable of usurping one of the top 4-5 starters the Jays currently possess and the more he is exposed at the big league level without a lot of success the more his overall value takes a dive.

Another motivation for a move like this is Prince Fielder would instantly give the Jays there first legit power threat at 1B since Carlos Delgado left town, no offense to Lyle Overbay but he is barely a league average bat at this point in his career.  Fielder will be entering his 27 year old season (historically one of a hitter’s best overall years career wise) and even with a slightly off year (for his standards) Prince has still been a beast in 2010.  Currently slashing 267/403/486 with 32 HRs, 80 RBI and a cool 106 BBs, Fielder has still managed a .388 wOBA and .218 ISO.  For those curious Lyle Overbay in 2010 currently has a .335 wOBA.

Fielder’s career slash line is impressive to say the least at 281/385/538, to go with a career .258 ISO and .389 wOBA.  Fielder has patience (career 12.9 BB %), power and could help energize a city that is slowly starting to come around on the young and promising Blue Jays.  I liken this situation to what Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s did when they traded for outfielder Matt Holliday at the beginning of 2009. 

The A’s hoped Holliday would be the answer for a moribund offense and place them squarely in contention in the AL West, however when it didn’t quite work that way, they flipped him again to St. Louis to recoup some of their losses in prospects (unfortunately they dealt Carlos Gonzalez to acquire him) though they could have just let Holliday (like the Jays could with Fielder) play out the season and leave in the winter and receive two highly valuable compensation draft picks for the next Amateur draft.

The A’s got unlucky that they dealt a big package of Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street and Greg Smith and Holliday’s value took a hit (only due to playing in one of the worse offensive environment’s in baseball) but I have no doubt that Fielder would flourish at the Roger’s Centre in an improving and powerful Jays line-up.   I am not sure what the price would be but if it is only the cost of a player who is not a guarantee (say a Kyle Drabek) and a couple additional fringe prospects I might be intrigued.

Worst case scenario Fielder doesn’t put the Jays over the top in the AL East in 2011 and Kyle Drabek develops into an ace starter, seems unlikely but nothing in baseball is guaranteed.  However, the Jays would at least be able to start over with the two strong draft picks or attempt to flip Fielder to a contending team looking for a 2 month rental and regaining some of the lost youth and prospects it took to acquire the Prince.

On the flip side the potential upside to having one of the top young 1B/DH in your line-up for 162 games and rolling into Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park with another powerful left handed slugger is truly appealing.  Renting Prince Fielder for 2011 could be a win-win for the Toronto Blue Jays and I wonder if it has sparked any curiosity or interest within the Blue Jays brain trust and the wonder kid Alex Anthopoulos?

Join the ongoing conversation about the Toronto Blue Jays, trade rumours and the world of baseball at TWITTER, follow me @tdotsports1

The Jays would still need to address a longer term solution at third base (preferably not E5) although it doesn’t appear they have any real in-house candidates (Jose Bautista should remain in the outfield) and as much as I would love to see Adrian Beltre bring his magic glove and trusty bat (and strange quirk of killing any man who dares touch the top of his head!) the competition for his services will likely be fierce and I see the Boston Red Sox doing everything in their power to retain him.

Jose Bautista has easily been baseball’s biggest surprise in 2010, going from a relatively useful yet unknown commodity to the game’s premier homerun hitter in the span of one season.  In 2009 the 30 year old veteran Bautista was a 1.9 win player (1.9 WAR) and slashed a rather pedestrian 235/349/408 and in 404 PAs he belted 13 HRs while posting a .173 ISO and .339 wOBA.  He provided value with his versatility (able to play multiple positions) and league average defense but all in all was likely considered expendable by Toronto Blue Jays brass heading into the season if his numbers didn’t improve.

Bautista’s unprecedented 2010 season has been well documented by a lot of great sources on the net but to quickly recap Bautista has been a revelation with the bat and is already a near 7 win player (6.9 WAR) and has slashed 260/378/617 with 35 2Bs, 54 HRs, 124 RBIs, 100 BBs and has even chipped in 9 SBs.  He has a ridiculous .357 ISO (career .207) and a .422 wOBA (career .346), he has been aided by an inflated 21.7% HR/FB (career 13.8%) but not a ridiculous rate and he has even been hindered by a low .233 BABIP.  Any way you slice it and whatever your preferred method of stat-ology might be it has been a huge year for Jose Bautista.

This piece is to do a little comparative action to compare Bautista’s giant 2010 and any past big time Jays seasons to see exactly where this season fits in terms of greatest seasons (offensively) for a Blue Jay.  As I scoured the books to see who I would compare his season to I stopped no further than a man who ranks as the greatest Blue Jays hitter of all time, our old friend Carlos Delgado.  Oh there were some nice years from a few other sources, the usual suspects of John Olerud, Roberto Alomar, George Bell, Joe Carter, Jose Canseco’s juice filled comeback season and the like but I figured it would come down to a showdown between Bautista and Delgado. 

So here is the matchup:  in one corner we have 2010 Jose Bautista (season still continuing of course, so counting stats will improve but rates shouldn’t move much) and in the other corner all the way from Puerto Rico it’s the 2000 Carlos Delgado.

First, we will start with some standard counting stats:

  PA H 2B HR RBI R BB K IBB
’10 JB* 683 148 35 54 124 109 100 116 2
’00 CD 711 196 57 41 137 115 123 104 18

Let’s now look at some more advanced numbers:

  AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB/K wRC+ wOBA WAR
’10 JB .260 .378 .618 .995 .357 0.86 167 .422 6.9
’00 CD .344 .470 .664 1.134 .320 1.18 182 .471 7.5

 Considering Jose Bautista leads the league in HRs this season, has 100+ RBIs, 100 BBs and basically having a once in a lifetime season yet his numbers still pale in comparison to Carlos Delgado’s 2000 I have to ask a couple questions:

1)      Should Delgado not be given the MVP considering that hack writer from Chicago left Delgado off his MVP ballot entirely, costing him the award?

2)      If Jose Bautista has been accused of potentially using PEDs how has Delgado managed to avoid the same scrutiny even ten years later?

3)      Should the Jays be actively looking to maximize Bautista’s value on the trade market?

It’s a shame this amazing season by Jose Bautista (and Delgado’s 2000 season) has basically been for naught in terms of the teams overall success, it would be nice to hot-tub time machine this beast of a year about two years into the future when the exciting and potentially dynamic rebuild is hopefully starting to really blossom in the highly competitive AL East landscape.  Either way, kudos and a big hat tip goes to Jose Bautista who has put up one of the better Blue Jays offensive seasons of all time, and definitely one of the most surprising in Major League Baseball history.

Here is the introduction to the DMB (Diamond Mind Baseball) Trade Value series.

2010 DMB Trade Value: #50 -#41

40) 2B Ian Kinsler (R) – Age:  28

Quick Take:  One of the best hitters at a thin position (2B) when healthy, which has been a major factor over his entire career.  His career high in games was in 2009 with 144 and in 2010 he has provided solid overall value with his stick (.359 wOBA) and glove (0.2 UZR).  His power is way down (.235 ISO in 2009, .120 in 2010) but can injuries be to blame for the power outage?  Another guy who needs to prove he can stay healthy and put up consistent power numbers.

DMB PRO: good bat and glove at a weak position

DMB CON: injury prone, declining power

39) 3B/RF Jose Bautista (R) – Age:  30

Quick Take:  Having a career year with his first real fulltime gig with the Toronto Blue Jays, his power has been massive (.351 ISO!!) and he leads the league in HRs (42) and even walks a ton (14.9 BB %), bonus is the positional value as he is rated at 1B, 3B and RF.  Not a great defender at any position, questions are already being raised whether he can produce anywhere near the same level in 2011, my guess is not, but until that is proven otherwise, given his power and positional versatility he is a valuable player going forward.

DMB PRO: huge power/patience, plays multiple positions

DMB CON: low average, a fluke season?  Skydome has been launching pad this year.

38) C Matt Wieters (S) – Age: 24

Quick Take:  So obviously he can’t walk on water as we were led to believe however the kid is only in his first full season at the major league level at 24 years of age and playing the toughest position in the sport in the toughest division in the game.  While some of the prospect lustre is firmly off Wieters, there is still a lot of time left for him to develop and we can’t just forget the 600 or so god like PAs from the minor leagues.  This is purely a speculative play for a weak position over the next 5-6 years and though I am still buying stock in this guy we will need to see marked improvement next year.

DMB PRO: switch hitting catcher, solid potential at the thinnest position in the game

DMB CON: lacklustre overall offensive numbers thus far.

37) SP Justin Verlander (R) – Age: 27

Quick Take: His K-rate has normalized in 2010 (8.5 K/9) after a sensational 2009 (10.0 K/9) and his walks are also slightly up, but I am still a huge believer in Verlander going forward and he is still among the game’s best starting pitchers and is only now entering his prime seasons.  Armed with one of the game’s best arsenal of pitchers, all of his pitches (fastball, curve, change and slider) show a positive run value (per 100 pitches thrown).

DMB PRO: solid K rate, consistent, doesn’t possess huge splits (good vs. L and R)

DMB CON: plays in a pitcher’s park, decreasing K’s a slight concern

36) LF Ryan Braun (R) – Age: 27

Quick Take: The Hebrew Hammer is having his worst statistical season in the big leagues and still possesses a .370 wOBA and .843 OPS.  His power is down across the board but he is still young, has shown massive power in the past and is entering his prime hitting years, consider me still on board the bandwagon for one more season in hopes that the power returns or his value will take a serious hit.

DMB PRO: destroys left handed pitchers

DMB CON: only a LF, lack of patience at plate, hitter’s park, decreasing power output

35) SS Elvis Andrus (R) – Age: 22

Quick Take:  What does it say about the current state of the shortstop position when a guy with a sub .700 OPS ranks among the most valuable players in the game?  Andrus is still an exciting (young) prospect and the Rangers still have hopes that his bat continues to improve.  He already plays one of the better defensive shortstops in baseball and adds a speed element offensively, hopefully he can hit for more power going forward.

DMB PRO: provides valuable PAs and is a great defensive player at very shallow position, speed

DMB CON: very little power and plays in hitter’s park

34) 3B David Wright (R) – Age: 28

Quick Take:  While no longer in the discussion for one of the game’s best players Wright still provides good pop (.207 ISO, 499 SLG) from a premium position.

DMB PRO: plays in pitchers park

DMB CON: declining patience/OBP affects overall value

33) CF Colby Rasmus (L) – Age:  24

Quick Take:  A slick fielding centre fielder with power gives you a valuable asset going forward.  Rasmus has massive power potential (.232 ISO) and should settle in as an average defensive centre fielder when all is said and done, plus at only 24 years of age can still improve.  His lack of plate discipline has given him a shockingly high K rate (32.6 K %) and he can’t hit lefties at all, but with time hopefully these improve or his value will definitely take a hit.

DMB PRO: good power, good defense

DMB CON: cannot hit lefties, way too many strikeouts

32) SS Starlin Castro (R) – Age: 20

Quick Take: Anytime a 20 year old more than holds his own with the stick (.338 wOBA), plays a solid position that is dying for talent (SS, -0.5 UZR) and is still growing and maturing physically is definitely a player worth owning.  Castro has given Cubbies fans something to cheer for in 2010 with a pretty decent rookie season overall.  There are a ton of holes in his offensive game (patience mostly) but he is 20 years old and this is to be expected, the future could be bright for this kid and another speculative buy at an ultra thin position.

DMB PRO: shortstop with upside, solid defender

DMB CON: growing pains of youth

31) RF/CF Jayson Werth (R) – Age:  31

Quick Take:  One of the more underrated players in the game, Werth has power (.222 ISO), patience (12.9 BB % and .390 OBP), speed (normally good for 20 SBs) and plays solid defense at all three outfield spots.  He strikes out a bit much and he plays in a hitter’s park but at just 31 years old should have some solid years left, he is a free agent at season’s end so keep an eye on where he lands (ballpark factors).  Werth also normally has extreme platoon splits and struggles against righties in DMB, has hit righties better in 2010.

DMB PRO: solid defensively (rated at CF), good power/patience

DMB CON: strikes out a lot, has heavy platoon splits (awesome vs. L, average to bad vs. R), good hitter’s park

I decided to embark on a new five part series in which we will debate and argue the merits of the top five Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Blue Jays as well as the top five overall athletes in Toronto sports history and finally as a contrast we will do the top ten athletes currently residing in the ‘Big Smoke’.  Feel free to comment and please post your own opinion on any of the top five lists, I am sure there will be seriously differing opinions across the board and people definitely place a different emphasis on things like winning, personal stats and overall impact on the city.

Part I – Top 5 Maple Leafs of all time

Part II – Top 5 Raptors of all time

Part III – Top 5 Blue Jays of all time

Part IV – Top 5 Toronto Sports Athletes of all time

Part V – Top Ten Current Athletes in Toronto

This will be a quick breakdown of the top athletes currently residing in Toronto and it is a down and dirty look at the athlete’s ready to contribute on the Toronto sports scene.  This certainly won’t be referred to as the golden era in Toronto’s sports history, but I’d say the scene is definitely on the up-swing and improving almost daily.  The Jays are looking to be competitive in the next 1-2 seasons, the Leafs look to be in good hands with Brian Burke and the Raptors aren’t as bad as most think, though they are looking lottery bound in 2010/11 (not such a bad thing though?).  Well, here is my list for the top ten current Toronto athletes.

10) SP Brandon Morrow – Toronto Blue Jays

-A hugely talented arm with untapped potential, he might have the most upside of any of the current Blue Jays arms.  Putting together a great first season in Toronto, the future is bright and price to acquire him was right.

9) LW Kris Versteeg – Toronto Maple Leafs

-Coming over from the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks (thank you salary cap) in which he was a key third line member and a heart and soul type player described as having a wicked wrist shot.  Only 24 years old and coming off back to back 20 goal seasons, I think Toronto fans are going to really like this kid.

#8) SP Shaun Marcum – Toronto Blue Jays

-Looks to be completely back after undergoing TJ surgery and has been the Jays best pitcher this season with 151 IPs, 3.70 ERA, 3.83 FIP and an impressive 3.8 K/BB.  Marcum will look to score a longer term contract in the next year or so and will hopefully continue to put hitters away with that nasty changeup for many more seasons.

7) SG Demar Derozan – Toronto Raptors

-The 7th overall pick out of Compton, California and USC University, the sky is the limit for Derozan and the ‘Young Gunz’ (along with Sonny Weems and Amir Johnson), fans are hoping for a big breakout year for Demar to give them some (any) hope for a Toronto Raptors eventual resurgence.  The kid has all the talent and skills you could want and just needs seasoning and some refinements to certain aspects of the game (mid range jumper and handle) to really take that next step.

6) RF Jose Bautista – Toronto Blue Jays

-Bautista leads the majors in homeruns and has been a total beast for the Blue Jays this season (41 HRs, 607 SLG%, .416 wOBA – 4.9 WAR), he has been so good there is some talk the Jays might be best served dealing their top slugger while the getting is good and his value is at an all-time high.  The most debated/discussed Blue Jay player this season, mixed opinions on whether or not he should be around long term.

5) D Tomas Kaberle – Toronto Maple Leafs

-What would a Toronto article be without Kaberle, fact remains he is still one of the best defensemen to suit up for the Leafs and if he remains this season will be counted upon to contribute a huge season. 

4) PF Andrea Bargnani – Toronto Raptors

-The smooth, sharp shooting 7-footer was the 1st overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft and has shown steady improvement each season (in scoring) over the past three years scoring 10.2, 15.4 and 17.2 PPG.  He still needs to improve his overall game, with more focus on rebounding and weak side help defense, however a big man with the ability to drive and dish the rock who will likely average 20.0+ PPG, shoot around 48-49% from the field, 37-38% from 3-point land and hopefully average 7-8 rebounds and 1.5-2 blocks per game don’t exactly grow on trees.  Andrea doesn’t get enough credit for the player he has become, expect that opinion and sentiment to change with a huge 2010/11 season as the Raptors go to guy.

3) SP Ricky Romero – Toronto Blue Jays

-JP Ricciardi envisioned this type of success for his first pick (6th overall) in the 2005 MLB Amateur Draft but it took Ricky a few seasons in the minors to finally flourish and make it to the big leagues (too little, too late for our old buddy JP though) but flourish he has.  The Jays lefty recently signed a contract extension that will keep in Toronto for the next 5 seasons, hopefully his prime years are still to come.  In 2010, Romero has been great, in 172.2 IPS he has a 3.54 ERA, 3.59 FIP, solid ground ball rate and a pretty good 7.7 K/9.

2) D Dion Phaneuf – Toronto Maple Leafs

-When you are the new captain of the most popular team in town, you are going to get some attention and since entering the league Phaneuf has definitely drawn his fair share.  The top scoring defensemen since joining the league, the hard hitting Alberta native is being counted upon to lead the Brian Burke era in team history and fans are excited and anxious to see what a full season of a motivated Dion Phaneuf can bring to the team. 

1) RW Phil Kessel – Toronto Maple Leafs

-There haven’t been many better skilled Leafs than Phil the Thrill in the team’s long history and the slight forward will again be counted upon to lead the woeful Maple Leafs forward core to the hopeful goal of making the playoffs.  Playing with a relatively unknown (and rookie) centre in Tyler Bozak, Kessel still managed 30 goals in 70 games and fans are hoping he can take his game to the next level and become a 40-45 goal scorer with a full season to come in 2010/11.

Drafted in the first round (5th overall) in 2006, he has been called the ‘American’ Sydney Crosby with his unbelievable level of skill and shooting ability.  Kessel will only be 23 at the start of the season and though the trade and cost to acquire Kessel is hotly debated, the player we received certainly cannot be, Kessel is legit and one of the most skilled players in the game.

This concludes my five part series looking back at some of the greatest players to ever play for our beloved Toronto sports franchises and also a quick glimpse at who is currently leading the charge for hopeful future success. 

Hope you enjoyed it.