December 16, 2003

Road Warriors and a trade that will happen

Adding to my Mike Cameron article from Monday (if you haven't read it already, please do so), here are the top hitters among center fielders, using their performances on the road from 2001-2003:

                          AVG      OBP      SLG      GPA

Jim Edmonds .302 .403 .580 .326
Bernie Williams .316 .398 .488 .301
Mike Cameron .278 .364 .510 .291
Vernon Wells .306 .339 .519 .282
Andruw Jones .262 .344 .504 .281
Ken Griffey Jr. .242 .347 .486 .278
Milton Bradley .281 .363 .451 .276
Carlos Beltran .271 .337 .498 .276
Torii Hunter .265 .324 .482 .266
Steve Finley .266 .337 .441 .262
Preston Wilson .257 .315 .477 .261
Mark Kotsay .272 .337 .421 .257
Craig Biggio .259 .343 .410 .257
Gary Matthews Jr. .257 .342 .400 .254
Marquis Grissom .273 .300 .469 .252
Johnny Damon .269 .328 .414 .251
Carl Everett .250 .322 .421 .250
Kenny Lofton .264 .329 .406 .250
Corey Patterson .273 .305 .444 .248
Darin Erstad .269 .326 .386 .243
Juan Pierre .288 .337 .360 .242
Alex Sanchez .293 .333 .363 .241
Chris Singleton .268 .315 .398 .241
Luis Matos .243 .299 .414 .238
Dave Roberts .263 .329 .352 .236
Endy Chavez .256 .287 .337 .213

What that list tells you is basically who the best hitters are, stripped of whatever help or hinderance they get as a result of their home ballparks. The results are pretty interesting.

First of all, Jim Edmonds is in a class by himself. Edmonds' .326 GPA on the road over the last three years is 8.3% better than the next guy on the list, Bernie Williams. Edmonds has led all MLB center fielders in GPA for each of the last three seasons.

Edmonds' home/road splits over the last three years are essentially identical:

           AVG      OBP      SLG      GPA

Home .292 .408 .579 .328
Road .302 .403 .580 .326

In addition to the great offense, Edmonds' defense, although probably a bit overrated, is pretty damn good too. Edmonds is a more than a little injury-prone (he's missed 65 games in four years with St. Louis), but when he's on the field there is little doubt in my mind that he's the best center fielder in baseball.

After Edmonds, Bernie Williams is the next guy on the list and the only other center fielder with a three-year road GPA above .300. Of course, a lot of Bernie's offense is only making up for the runs he gives up on defense, which is why he'll probably be DHing for the Yankees this year. Still, Bernie's offense on the road over the last three years has been great, even this year, when he overall numbers were sub par.

After Bernie comes the man of the hour, Mike Cameron. Over the last three years, only looking at what they have done outside the friendly (and sometimes not so friendly) confines of their home ballparks, Mike Cameron was the third-best offensive center fielder in baseball.

Better than Andruw Jones, better than Carlos Beltran, better than Vernon Wells, better than Torii Hunter. Throw in the fact that Cameron is, without a doubt, one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball (and, in my opinion, the best) and I think it's safe to say, in a neutral environment (ie one that doesn't destroy his offense like Safeco Field), he is one of the top handful of center fielders in all of baseball.

In fact, judging them solely by their performances on the road, I think Cameron has been the second-best center fielder in the baseball over the last three years, behind only Jim Edmonds. His offense is third-best and his defense is on a whole different planet than Bernie Williams', so I think he moves up into the #2 spot.

Anyway, I've talked enough about Mike Cameron and how great I think he will be to last a lifetime, but I just wanted to make my point one final time. The Mets just got a top-5 center fielder for $6.5 million a year and Mike Cameron is going to have an extremely impressive season in 2004.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

At this point I'm sure almost everyone is sick of reading about the long-rumored Alex Rodriguez/Manny Ramirez trade and whether or not it's going to happen.

Let me just say that it is going to happen. I don't have any inside information from any secret sources or anything like that, but I saw Boston first baseman Kevin Millar interviewed by Dan Patrick on SportsCenter last night and what he said convinced me that this is going to get done very very soon.

Patrick asked Millar a bunch of stuff about ARod and Manny and Nomar. One of his questions was, "You have to choose, you can have Alex Rodriguez or you can have Manny and Nomar, who are you taking?"

I was expecting Millar to give some double-talk filled answer that completely avoided the question, but actually said, "Alex Rodriguez." Then, at the end of the interview, Patrick asked him, "When the season begins, who's going to be throwing the ball from shortstop to you?" Millar again wasted no time and answered, "Alex Rodriguez."

This, to me, says that the deal is done. There is just no way Kevin Millar goes on a national TV show and says that he'd rather have Alex Rodriguez than two of his teammates, unless they are no longer his teammates. I'm not saying Theo Epstein and Boston's front office is keeping Kevin Millar up-to-speed on everything they are doing, but there is no way Millar says something like that unless he knows for sure he won't have Manny and Nomar as teammates next year.

I, for one, am very excited about ARod joining the Red Sox. For one thing, I am a big fan or Alex Rodriguez's and it is going to be nice no longer having to listen to the nonsense about him not being valuable because his team stinks. It's going to be fun to see everyone suddenly come to the realization that he is the MVP, just because the Red Sox are going to win plenty of games every year.

In addition to that, an Alex Rodriguez-for-Manny Ramirez swap has to be among the biggest exchanges of talent in the history of sports. They are two elite, Hall of Fame-level players, right in the middle of their primes. It's not often you see a trade like this and it's also not often you see the best overall player in baseball (with appologies to Superman) get traded when he's 28 years old.

I'm itching to give my thoughts on the big trade, but I think it is best to wait for it to actually happen, not because I have any doubt that it will take place, but because I want to know all the specifics before I form my opinion. I don't think we'll have to wait very long. It should be an interesting week.

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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