Welcome to "Chatter from the Pressbox", the website dedicated to the Pressbox of the Frisco RoughRiders, the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers.

Today's Matchups Around the Ranger's System

Today's (5/20) Match-Ups Around the Ranger's System

Round Rock: Martin Perez (3-3 5.27) vs. Fresno Grizzlies: Andrew Kown (3-1 2.61) @ 1:00 PM CT

Myrtle Beach: Kyle Hendricks (1-4 2.91) @ Wilmington Blue Rocks: Sugar Ray Marimon (3-0 2.65) @ 12:30 PM CT

Hickory : Santo Perez (2-2 6.19) @ Asheville Tourists: Daniel Winkler (4-2 6.06) @ 1:05 PM CT

Sunday, February 24, 2013

No Easy Out: A Look at Baseball's Most Underrated Offense

Talk to people about the best offenses in the game and people will probably start with teams like the Yankees, Angels, Tigers, and Cardinals. They might throw in the Blue Jays or Nationals if the mood strikes enough. And there are plenty of reasons to pick those teams. Big names, big game players, and they've been in plenty of big games over the last couple years. Some made big acquisitions this offseason, and others didn't need to. If they stay healthy, any of those teams could lead baseball in runs scored and each of them brings a different dynamic to the table.

But then there is another name I will throw into the argument... the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

Last year the Diamondbacks ranked eighth in baseball in runs scored per game with 4.53. So it's not exactly like suggesting the Seattle Mariners as the best. But, after dealing Justin Upton, I doubt many would give them any chance without looking at it. They certainly are not one that pops off the top of your head as one of the best. 

In terms of depth, the Arizona Diamondbacks can rival any lineup in the game. They literately don't have an easy out until their shortstop position and likely 8th hitter in the lineup. They have guys who can run, guys who can hit for power, and guys who can get on base in the lineup. 

Last year strikeouts were an issue for them, and they probably will still be an issue for them in 2013. Like the Braves, who I talked about before, the Diamondbacks do have players who are going to strikeout. 

But, let's look at their lineup individually. 

Projected Lineup: 

1. CF Adam Eaton (Bats LH)

2012 MLB Numbers: 103 PA .259 AVG .382 OBP .412 SLG .794 OPS
2013 Bill James Proj.: 582 PA .291 AVG .358 OBP .418 SLG .776 OPS

Not to be confused with the former San Diego Padres pitcher, you will find few players in baseball that have more energy on the field than the outfielder Adam Eaton. The 24 year old center fielder was recently written about by Jerry Crasnick on ESPN.com here. You will have an extremely difficult time finding a more productive player in minor league baseball over the last three years, in fact you probably won't be able to no matter what age or level. In 1,451 minor league plate appearances over the last three years, Eaton has hit a robust .355 with an incredible .456 on base percentage and .510 slugging percentage. Oh and did I mention that he can run? Adam has 98 steals in 131 attempts over those three seasons, including 44 in 55 attempts in 2012. 

In the 2012 season, Eaton hit .375 with a .456 on base percentage between Double-A and Triple-A. He had 47 doubles, 5 triples, and 7 home runs with 130 runs scored. To the point: Even if he drops 100 points in on base percentage points at the major league level, how valuable will he still be at the top of the order with very good speed and an all out playing style.

2. 3B Martin Prado (Bats RH)

2012 MLB Numbers: 690 PA .301 AVG .359 OBP .438 SLG .796 OPS
2013 Bill James Proj.: 621 PA .291 AVG .347 OBP .425 SLG .772 OPS

The key major league player that the Diamondbacks acquired in the Justin Upton blockbuster deal, Martin Prado is a good baseball player that is very good at knowing his job. One of the best #2 hitters in the game, Prado can do a lot of things when he's at the plate. And with 270 or more total bases in two of the last three years, Prado is not just a slap hitter with no power. Since becoming a regular in 2009, Prado has hit .294 with a .778 OPS over the time period. More balanced though, Prado has averaged 36 doubles, 3 triples, and 12 home runs. He has averaged 42 walks to just 66 strikeouts during the time frame as well. He is exactly what you look for in a prototypical #2 spot. A doubles hitter with a bit of pop, a high average, and tough to strikeout.

3. C Miguel Montero (Bats LH)

2012 MLB Numbers: .286 AVG .391 OBP .438 SLG .829 OPS
2013 Bill James Proj: .272 AVG .357 OBP .435 SLG .792 OPS

One of the best catchers in the game last season, Miguel Montero has continued to be consistent at the plate over the last four years. Montero topped 80 RBI for the second straight years in 2012 and set career bests in walks (73) and on base percentage (.391).  The left handed hitting catcher has hit at least 15 home runs in three of the last four years, including a career best 18 in 2011. I put him in the three spot due to his .283 average and .361 OBP over the last four seasons. 

4. 1B Paul Goldschmidt (Bats RH)

2012 MLB Numbers: .286 AVG .359 OBP .490 SLG .850 OPS 
2013 Bill James Proj: .283 AVG .375 OBP .501 SLG .876 OPS   

A star in the making in the middle of the Diamondbacks lineup, Paul Goldschmidt burst onto the radar late in the 2011 season and during the playoffs with his prodigious power. Few question whether Goldschmidt will hit for power at the big league level. The 25 year old first baseman hit 20 home runs in 2012 and added in 43 doubles and a triple for good measure. He also fell two steals short of being baseball's first first baseman to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in a season since Derrek Lee hit 31 home runs and stole 21 bases in 2003.

5. 2B Aaron Hill (Bats RH)
2012 MLB Numbers: .302 AVG .360 OBP .522 SLG .882 OPS
2013 Bill James Proj: .270 AVG .327 OBP .444 SLG .771 OPS

Coming off one of the quietest stellar seasons in baseball in 2012, Aaron Hill will have to once again prove that his 2012 season was no "fluke". An interesting career thus far, Hill has had two very good seasons and another quality season in his career. Yet, he's also put together some seasons where you aren't sure if he even showed up to the park. The second baseman had quality years in 2007 (.291 avg., 41 doubles, 17 HR), 2009 (.286 avg., 36 home runs, and 108 RBI), and 2012 (.302 avg., 44 doubles, 6 triples, 26 HR, and 85 RBI). Even still, though, the two time Silver Slugger award winner has flown under the radar due to his other not so good years. In 810 plate appearances since coming over to Arizona in a trade in 2011 though, the 30 year old has hit .304 with 56 doubles, 8 triples, 28 home runs, and an .881 OPS.

6. LF Jason Kubel (Bats LH)

2012 MLB Numbers:
.253 AVG .327 OBP .506 SLG .833 OPS

2013 Bill James Proj.: .259 AVG .333 OBP .465 SLG .798 OPS

Another player in the line up that has been pretty consistent at what he adds to a club. Jason Kubel set a career best with 30 home runs in 2012 and drove in 90 runs as well for Arizona. His 64 extra base hits were the second most for his career in a season, as were his 90 RBI and .506 slugging percentage. Since 2008, Kubel has put together a .269 batting average and averaged 22 home runs and 84 RBI a season. He also has averaged an .815 OPS and 117 OPS+ during the same time frame.

7. RF Cody Ross (Bats RH)

2012 MLB Numbers: .267 AVG .326 OBP .481 SLG .807 OPS
2013 Bill James Proj.: .254 AVG .321 OBP .444 SLG .765 OPS

When the Arizona Diamondbacks signed Cody Ross to a three year deal this offseason, many people in baseball were wondering what the Diamondbacks were doing. Even if they were going to trade Upton, they had plenty of outfield depth in their organization and adding an outfielder was one of the last things they needed to do. Still, Cody Ross brings a quality veteran and a potential veteran leader to the clubhouse. He's a good, hard nosed player that has put together some solid seasons throughout his career and has playoff experience after leading the San Francisco Giants to the 2010 World Series title. In 528 plate appearances for the Boston Red Sox in 2012, Ross hit .267 with 34 doubles, 22 home runs, and 81 RBI. His 113 OPS+ was the best of his career with at least 200 plate appearances. Still, Ross has been consistently around there since 2008 and he has three 20 home runs seasons to his credit. Even more important though, Ross has had at least 50 extra base hits in three of the last five years. Ross is also one of baseball's best hitters against left handed pitching, as he has a .284 batting average and .928 OPS against southpaws throughout his career.

8. SS Didi Gregorius (Bats LH)

2012 MLB Numbers: .300 AVG .300 OBP .300 SLG .600 OPS
2013 Bill James Proj.: N/A

The likely starting shortstop, although that's not set yet, Didi Gregorius was the center piece that the Diamondbacks acquired in the three team deal that sent pitcher Trevor Bauer to Cleveland and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo from Cleveland to Cincinnati. Gregorius is the only non-pitching spot in the lineup that looks like a possible "easy" out. What he lacks with the bat, however, the Curacao native more than makes up for with his defense. Between Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville, Didi hit .265 with 21 doubles, 11 triples, and seven home runs. It marked his second consecutive season with an OPS above .700 in the minor leagues.

As you can see, there is no real superstar in the Arizona Diamondbacks lineup. Justin Upton won't be in their lineup anymore. They aren't going to be the easy pick to be the best offense in baseball and they aren't going to jump out at you on paper. However, as the games are played, the Diamondbacks feature a lineup that could very well have seven players in their lineup with an OPS around or above .800. They have plenty of power with four players capable of hitting 20-25 home runs or more. They feature a potential star in Paul Goldschmidt and an underrated star in Miguel Montero. They have players with big time experience and they have players who are going to give their all out everyday.

In other words, they have baseball's most underrated lineup.

1 comment:

  1. I think goldy has a jump, but turning a few doubles into homers won't add a ton of production. The next two years should be the high hopes for montero offense. Says a lot about eaton that young and upton go and parra stays stuck as a David Murphy. I mite have forgone Ross and let parra start and pollock be the new parra, but 5 pure lefties in an 8 man lineup has its risks. I don't see massive upside anywhere here, but combine goldy and montero with rocks like prado Ross and kubel and the chances of a massive disappointment are really really slim.