Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spring Training Infielders Analysis

So far Andruw Jones has struggled and if this continues he has no chance of making the team. So far he is 1-for-7 with 6 strikeouts. Also, Josh Hamilton is tearing it up and is 4-for-8 with 2 home runs and 3 RBI’s (one in each of the three games so far). Scott Feldman allowed 9 hits, 7 runs, and 4 earned runs in only 1.2 innings pitched in his first game of the spring. Kevin Millwood had three strikeouts and allowed only one hit in 2 innings of work on Thursday.

The Rangers have 11 infielders in major league camp. This week, I analyzed the infielders in big league camp and gave their chances of making the team at the end of Spring Training. I also gave my prediction for what the Opening Day infield roster will look like.


Elvis Andrus: Elvis Andrus was part of the Mark Teixeira trade in ’07 and has played well since then. He hit .300 in Bakersfield in 2007 after hitting only .244 for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (the Braves’ High-A team) before the trade. Last year he hit .295 with 4 home runs and 65 RBI’s, but only had 38 walks the whole year in Frisco. With Michael Young moving to third, that opens up the shortstop for Andrus and he will probably be the starting shortstop.
Percentage chance of making the team out of Spring Training: 89.7%

Joaquin Arias: Joaquin Arias had 110 at-bats in the majors last year and hit .291 with 0 HR’s and only 9 RBI’s. He stole four bases out of five attempts. With runners in scoring position and two outs he only hit .133 and he only hit .200 with runners on base. He has struggled to regain his arm strength after his injury a couple of years ago. He has a chance to be the utility guy on this team, but that role will probably go to Omar Vizquel.
Percentage: 25.6%

Hank Blalock: Blalock has gotten injured each of the past two years and hasn’t gotten 260 at-bats since ’06. In 2007, he hit .293 with 10 HR’s and 33 RBI’s in 208 AB’s. In 2008, he hit .287 with 12 HR’s and 38 RBI’s in just 258 at-bats. But he only had .475 walks (19) for every strikeout (40). His fielding percentage was only .951 last year when he played third base, significantly worse than his .996 fielding percentage at first base. He really struggled last year with runners in scoring position as he only hit .239, and with runners in scoring position and two outs he only hit .158. With two outs he only hit .200 and he hit .358 with no outs. He also hit way better at home than on the road, hitting .343 at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and hitting .248 on the road. He only had a .14 point difference between facing right-handed pitchers (.291 AVG) and facing left-handed pitchers (.277 AVG). He will probably break camp as the DH unless he is traded or released.
Percentage: 97.8%

Chris Davis: Last year Chris Davis made his MLB debut, and he had a great one. He hit .285 with 17 HR’s and 55 RBI’s in 295 at-bats. If you double his stats (which would equal about 148 games with 4 AB’s in each of them) he would have had 34 HR’s and 110 RBI’s in a season’s worth of at-bats. That’s pretty good for a rookie year. He hit .325 in September. He is almost a lock for the starting first baseman on Opening Day.
Percentage: 99.4%

German Duran: German also made his major league debut last season and played in 60 major league games. He hit .231 with 3 HR’s and 16 RBI’s in 143 AB’s. He played 2B, 3B, SS, and OF and that flexibility is what gives him a chance at being the utility guy out of Spring Training. But, with the acquisition of Omar Vizquel, he’s most likely to start the season in the minors.
Percentage: 41.3%

Ian Kinsler: Before getting injured last season, Ian Kinsler was an MVP candidate. He had a .319 AVG with 18 HR’s and 71 RBI’s in 518 AB’s and most of those from the lead-off spot. He still got a tenth place MVP vote, even after missing all of September and some of August. He also had 26 stolen bases and will be the starting second baseman out of camp.
Percentage: 100%

Travis Metcalf: Last year Travis Metcalf only had 56 at-bats in the majors and 265 in Oklahoma City due to injuries. He only hit .253 with 5 HR’s and 37 RBI’s at Oklahoma City and he wasn’t as great at defense as he normally is, as he had 12 errors. In the majors, Metcalf hit only .232 with 6 HR’s and 14 RBI’s. He was hoping to be the team’s regular third baseman this year, but with Michael Young’s move to third, he probably will not make the team out of Spring Training. But he has a good chance of being called up later on in the year. He is currently spending some time at first base in order to increase his usefulness as a utility player.
Percentage: 29.9%

Justin Smoak: After being drafted in the 1st round by the Rangers last year, Smoak went straight up to Clinton. In 14 games and 56 at-bats Smoak hit .304 with 2 HR’s and 18 RBI’s. He is a huge prospect and will probably be great soon, but he has no shot out of Spring Training this year and he is in major league camp just so he can get used to it.
Percentage: 0.2%

Jose Vallejo: Jose Vallejo played well last year in the minors. In High-A Bakersfield, Jose hit .287 with 9 HR’s, 50 RBI’s, and 27 stolen bases. In Double-A Frisco, Vallejo hit .297 with 2 HR’s, 31 RBI’s, and 15 stolen bases. He probably will not make the team out of Spring Training, but could take a step forward and start off at Oklahoma City.
Percentage: 11.6%

Omar Vizquel: Omar Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove winner, was signed by the Rangers over the offseason to a minor league deal. Last year he only hit .222, but only had 5 more strikeouts (29) than walks (24) in 266 at-bats. In 2007 he hit .246 with 4 HR’s and 51 RBI’s. 2006 was his last really good year at the plate, although he’s always a stud defensively, as he hit .295 that year. The Rangers hope he will mentor Elvis Andrus and be the utility guy out of Spring Training, but could play himself out of that role.
Percentage: 81.9%

Michael Young: After five straight years of getting 200 hits and hitting over .300, Michael did neither one of those last year, hitting only.284 (which is low for him, not for most people) and 183 hits. He will be the starting third baseman for the Rangers as long as he’s healthy.
Percentage: 100%

Predicted Infield Roster:
1B: Chris Davis
2B: Ian Kinsler
3B: Michael Young
SS: Elvis Andrus
DH: Hank Blalock
Utility: Omar Vizquel

Next in line:
German Duran
Travis Metcalf

Come back next week for Part 1 of an interview with former Rangers pitcher Jeff Zimmerman. I will come back and do my analysis of the catchers in camp in two weeks, but here are my predictions for the Rangers’ roster on Opening Day:

Starter #1: Kevin Millwood
Starter #2: Vicente Padilla
Starter #3: Matt Harrison
Starter #4: Scott Feldman
Starter #5: Brandon McCarthy
Long Reliever: Dustin Nippert
Long Reliever/Middle Reliever: Doug Mathis
Long Reliever/Middle Reliever: Josh Rupe
Middle Reliever: CJ Wilson
Middle Reliever: Warner Madrigal
Set-up Man: Eddie Guardado
Closer: Frankie Francisco
Starting Catcher: Taylor Teagarden
Back-up Catcher: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
1B: Chris Davis
2B: Ian Kinsler
3B: Michael Young
SS: Elvis Andrus
DH: Hank Blalock
Utility: Omar Vizquel
Center Field: Josh Hamilton
Right Field: Nelson Cruz
Left Field vs. Righties: David Murphy
Left Field vs. Lefties: Marlon Byrd
Back-up Outfielder: Frank Catalanotto

Results of last week’s poll:
Who do you think will be the 5th man in the starting rotation?
Brandon McCarthy – 38%
Kris Benson – 19%
Matt Harrison – 14%
Jason Jennings – 14%
Scott Feldman – 9%
Dustin Nippert – 4%
Doug Mathis – 0%
Other – 0%

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