June 18, 2007
Game #68: Mets 8, Twins 1
YEAR SO% K/BB OAVG
2004 32.4 3.4 .181
2005 26.3 3.1 .224
2006 20.6 3.0 .270
2007 19.3 1.8 .305
Rincon's strikeout rate, strikeout-to-walk ratio, and opponent's batting average have all steadily gotten worse on an annual basis, to the point that he's no longer pitching like a quality setup man. Rincon is just 28 years old, but high-workload relievers like him tend not to age particularly well and the above patterns are very discouraging. With Pat Neshek long since passing him as Joe Nathan's primary setup man, Rincon is the obvious choice should the Twins decide to deal a reliever for offensive help.
Jim Souhan's column in the Minneapolis Star Tribune carried the headline: "Twins' biggest need is a third baseman who can hit." In a piece that was surprisingly (and pleasantly) short on lame one-liners and forced pop-culture references, Shecky wrote that "the right third baseman would improve the Twins immediately and perhaps dramatically." Normally I'd say something like "great minds think alike," but that seems like a stretch on all fronts.
Kubel runs like someone who's suffered a significant knee injury and his bat has been disappointing thus far, but he's been solid defensively. He gets to more balls than his speed suggests he should, flashes a strong arm, and has come up with a handful of diving grabs in key spots. I'm hesitant to say that the diving catches suggest outstanding defense, because that can be incredibly misleading, but it seems relatively clear that Kubel has at the very least avoided being a weakness in left field.
In addition to looking capable, Kubel ranks 12th among all MLB left fielders in Zone Rating at .887 (Carl Crawford leads baseball at .960, while Manny Ramirez ranks dead last at .706). Beyond that, through 324.1 innings Baseball Prospectus, The Hardball Times, and Ultimate Zone Rating all show Kubel as safely above average compared to other left fielders. None of that will matter much unless he eventually starts hitting, of course, but he's slugging .457 since snapping a 0-for-13 slump on May 10.
Johan Santana is the most noticeable victim of the poor run support, going 6-6 despite a 3.19 ERA because the lineup has scored three runs or fewer in 10 of his 14 starts. However, Silva has perhaps gotten it even worse. While the Twins have been held to three runs or fewer in "only" eight of Silva's 14 starts, they've scored zero or one run in six of his outings. That's how he's 4-8 despite a 4.20 ERA that is far better than I ever expected.
Castillo is a good player having a good year, and he's among the best second basemen in the league. Toss in a .313 batting average and an MLB-record errorless streak, and there's plenty of evidence to use in making an All-Star case without resorting to extreme statements that have no basis in reality. First of all, a player with a .699 OPS who has missed 13 of 68 games is going to have a difficult time being the MVP of any team, let alone a team with the reigning MVP on it.
On a team with Justin Morneau, Santana, Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Joe Mauer, Nathan, and Neshek, Coomer expects us to believe that someone with a .313/.356/.343 hitting line is the MVP? The notion that Castillo is "the best leadoff hitter in the league" is equally as implausible. In fact, among the 10 AL hitters with at least 200 plate appearances in the leadoff spot, Castillo ranks fifth in on-base percentage, eighth in stolen bases, and ninth in OPS, GPA, and slugging percentage.
AVG OBP SLG OPS GPA SB
Curtis Granderson .295 .349 .579 .928 .302 8
Ichiro Suzuki .356 .408 .466 .874 .300 19
Grady Sizemore .285 .398 .468 .866 .296 20
Alex Rios .291 .340 .527 .867 .285 6
Brian Roberts .303 .392 .397 .789 .276 22
Kenny Lofton .278 .361 .387 .748 .259 16
David DeJesus .268 .346 .391 .737 .253 2
Johnny Damon .257 .348 .362 .710 .247 11
LUIS CASTILLO .313 .356 .343 .699 .246 7
Julio Lugo .207 .270 .309 .579 .199 19
Castillo's numbers pale in comparison to Ichiro Suzuki, Grady Sizemore, Curtis Granderson, Brian Roberts, and Alex Rios. Plus, he doesn't even stand out compared to Kenny Lofton, David DeJesus, and Johnny Damon. My point here isn't to bash Castillo, because he's having a good season and has been valuable. Rather, my point is that instead of getting me to think about Castillo's good season or how valuable he's been, all Coomer did was get me to think about how silly his "analysis" was.
In Coomer's defense, he once made the All-Star team in a season that saw him hit .263/.307/.424 as a first baseman, so it's perfectly understandable if his thoughts on who's deserving of a spot on the team are a little bit out of whack.
Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.