Tag: Gaby Sanchez

Pittsburgh Pirates Make Two Smart Offseason Moves in One Day

General manager Neal Huntington and the Pittsburgh Pirates have been busy this offseason, making small moves for players they hope will play to their maximum potential in 2015.  

The smartest moves the Pirates have made occurred Monday when Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the Pirates acquired utility man Sean Rodriguez via trade with the Tampa Bay Rays and designated first baseman Gaby Sanchez for assignment.

The 29-year-old Rodriguez batted just .211 in 96 games for the Rays in 2014, which is nothing to write home about. However, his 12 home runs and 41 RBI were both career-highs.  

A seven-year veteran, Rodriguez owns a career batting average of .225 in 1,641 at-bats. His busiest season came in 2011, when he played in 131 games and batted .223 for the Rays.  

Primarily a middle infielder, Rodriguez gives the Pirates the opportunity to rest players such as Neil Walker and Jordy Mercer when they need a day off.

In reality, he can fill in at any position when a player needs a rest day for the Pirates in 2015, and manager Clint Hurdle can be confident with him in the lineup.  

What makes him so valuable as a backup or a utility man is the fact he can play any position in the field, as he has seen playing time at every position except catcher throughout his career.

If Rodriguez blasts 12 home runs as a utility man for them in 2015, they would gladly take that, but he is capable of achieving more given the right number of at-bats.  

Rodriguez collected 237 at-bats in 2014, and although he totaled just 50 hits, more than half of them went for extra bases (28 of them, to be exact).  

With the move for Rodriguez came another move to make room on the team’s roster: designating first baseman Gaby Sanchez for assignment.  

Sanchez was a promising player a few seasons ago when he was a member of the Miami Marlins, blasting 19 home runs in back-to-back seasons between 2010-2011.  

Sanchez has blasted just 21 home runs combined in the three seasons since, as his ineffectiveness against right-handed pitchers has led him to a role as a platoon player.  

This was a promising move for the Pirates because it now leaves just two first basemen on the roster: Pedro Alvarez and Andrew Lambo.  

Alvarez, who was the team’s everyday third baseman, will likely be the new everyday first baseman in 2015 while Josh Harrison takes over at the hot corner.  

Although he missed 40 games due to injuries in 2014, Alvarez possesses tremendous power in the heart of the Pirates’ lineup, which is what they need. Platooning him with Sanchez probably wouldn’t have been as effective as leaving Alvarez in the lineup on a consistent basis.  

Furthermore, Sanchez’s statistics even against left-handed pitchers were not impressive in 2014 like they were in 2013.  He batted .333 in 102 at-bats against southpaws in 2013 but just .256 in 133 at-bats against them in 2014.  

Sanchez’s numbers have consistently declined throughout his career, and as he is already 31 years old and set to become a free agent in 2016, the best option would be for the Pirates to trade him (the Pirates have 10 days to decide whether to trade or release him).  

The Pirates became a better team Monday, from an offensive standpoint. While Rodriguez is not a standout player, he has proven he can play at the big league level, while Sanchez’s declining numbers have to be considered a concern for the Pirates.  

*Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.

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Better Trade Option for the Pittsburgh Pirates: Pedro Alvarez or Gaby Sanchez?

There was a time when Gaby Sanchez was considered an offensive threat at the plate for opposing pitchers. 

That time was five seasons ago, as the young first baseman was coming off his second straight 19-home run season.  Between 2010-2011 as a member of the then-known-as Florida Marlins, Sanchez drove in 163 runs in 310 games.  

In the three seasons since, Sanchez’s power numbers and batting average have dropped off drastically.  

In 2014, Sanchez batted .229 with just seven home runs in 123 games.  Of course, he has not had nearly the number of at-bats he was given years ago, but that is due to the fact that he struggles mightily against right-handed pitchers.  

When the Pirates traded first baseman Ike Davis to the Oakland Athletics a little over a week ago, it still left three first basemen on the Pirates’ depth chart.  

It is possible that the Pirates could keep Sanchez on the roster and go into the season with two backup first basemen, but there really is no need to, especially considering the likelihood of Pedro Alvarez becoming the everyday first baseman for the Pirates.  

Furthermore, the Pirates have a young and talented prospect named Andrew Lambo, who has seen limited playing time throughout his first two seasons in the majors.

According to a report from Baseball America, Lambo was listed as the best power hitter in the Pirates farm system heading into the 2014 regular season.  Lambo proved that he deserved that ranking by blasting 44 home runs over the last two seasons in the minors.

Realistically, though, when will Lambo be given a chance to play every day if there are two first baseman in front of him on the Pirates depth chart?  Unless either Alvarez or Sanchez is traded during the offseason, Lambo would have to have a tremendous spring training to win the starting job.  

Now, the Pirates could also offer Alvarez in a trade instead of Sanchez, and that would have its pros and cons.  

On the bright side, the Pirates could probably acquire some talented prospects for Alvarez, as he has shown that he has tremendous power at the plate when healthy.  In 2013 for the Pirates, Alvarez hit 36 home runs and drove in 100 runs in 152 games.  

Alvarez missed 40 games in 2014 due to injuries, but he still was able to total 18 home runs and collect 56 RBI.  

To put it nicely, Alvarez has been shaky in the field, committing 52 errors at third base over the last two seasons.  To me, Alvarez would best be suited on an American League team, where he could see a considerable amount of playing time as a designated hitter.  So, perhaps an A.L. team would be willing to trade for him.  

The major con of trading away a guy like Alvarez is that it would leave a power void in the heart of Pittsburgh’s lineup, which they probably cannot afford unless they go out and acquire solid starting pitchers.

Second baseman Neil Walker and center fielder Andrew McCutchen were the only two players to hit at least 20 home runs for the Pirates in 2014, so trading away Alvarez would negatively impact the power numbers for the Pirates in 2015.  

Playing the role of general manager Neal Huntington, here is my verdict: listen to any offers on both players, but try to get a decent offer for Sanchez, as trading away Alvarez at this point would not make much sense.  

Then, in spring training, allow Alvarez to become accustomed to playing first base.  In the worst-case scenario, Lambo and Alvarez could split time until one of them takes off and gets hot.  

Although his batting average is nothing to be excited about, it is hard to come across the level of power Alvarez possesses at the plate, and although the Pirates could get more in return for Alvarez, the lineup they currently have is set up to win now.  

Without Alvarez’s power in the middle of the lineup, however, the Pirates should expect to win less games than they did last season.  


*Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference

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MLB Trade Deadline 2012: Trades Will Keep Pittsburgh Pirates in Playoff Hunt

The Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t land any of this year’s most coveted trade chips, but they approached the July 31 deadline with a level head and the necessary poise.

Pittsburgh added four players either at, or prior, to this year’s trade deadline. Check out NBC Sports’ Matthew Pouliot‘s overview of the Pirates new acquisitions:

They certainly got more interesting with Travis Snider in right field and Sanchez replacing Casey McGehee in the first base platoon. Snider hasn’t been quite as much of a disappointment as everyone thinks—he has a .248/.306/.429 line and 31 homers in 835 at-bats—and he’s just 24 years old. Sanchez is a career .298/.390/.488 hitter against lefties. He’s been way off this year, but if the Pirates can get him straightened out, he’ll be a nice part-timer. Again, I’m not sold on the moves—Brad Lincoln was looking pretty good since a switch to the pen—but factor in the Wandy Rodriguez pickup last week and they belong in the winners category.

The only move he doesn’t touch on involves the Pirates flipping McGehee to the Yankees for Chad Qualls. Qualls has been designated for assignment once this year, and he probably would have fallen victim to the same fate in New York. He is carrying a 4.89 ERA into PNC Park, but his career ERA (3.84) suggests a possible turnaround. 

None of these moves jump off of the page and shake you. None of these players are “star” players, and the Pirates didn’t improve exponentially, but each player provides stability to the Pirate roster.

Adding Snider allows Pittsburgh to move Alex Presley to a permanent bench role. This makes the Pirates’ lineup more versatile and adds more power to their home run-happy batting order.

Snider hasn’t proven himself this year. He’s hitting .250 with three home runs and eight RBI in 10 major-league games this season, but the potential is definitely there. His Triple-A numbers are excellent (.335, 13 home runs and 57 RBI in 61 games), and he gives the Pirates another piece for their future nucleus (under team control until 2016).

Sanchez doesn’t provide the same potential, but he is coming off two very solid seasons. He has the potential to hit 20 home runs, and he could flourish in a platoon role with Garrett Jones at first base. They only had to give up speed merchant and defensive outfielder Gorkys Hernandez who was no longer a valuable piece on the bench.

Qualls and Rodriguez both add stability to the stable of Pittsburgh’s overachieving arms. I mentioned Qualls’ struggles this season, but he’s a solid middle-innings option on a young squad. Rodriguez is an above-average lefty, and those don’t grow on trees.

Some Pittsburgh fans may groan at the thought of these moves. The Pirates didn’t make the big splash that everyone was hoping for, but they got the job done without sacrificing anything important for the future.

For this particular organization, that’s what’s important. They’ve worked too hard to get their farm system back to respectable status, and they’ve spent too much time developing their current nucleus, to blow it up in one year.

Small market clubs can’t throw dollars and prospects around like it’s nothing. Each move has to be calculated, and the future always has to be considered. 

Pittsburgh did an excellent job of making the moves necessary to continue their playoff run this year without diminishing their future plans. In Snider’s case, they actually added a potentially valuable piece.

Expect Pittsburgh’s new players to keep them in the thick of this year’s pennant race. They got stronger in important areas, and the added energy will give them the momentum they need down the stretch.

Neil Huntingdon was in unprecedented territory for any Pirate general manager in recent memory, but he showed an acuity that comes with experience.

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Pittsburgh Pirates Acquire Travis Snider and Gaby Sanchez, Take a Step Forward

Neal Huntington was active at the trade deadline, making two key moves to update the Pirates‘ offense as this team chases its first playoff berth in 20 years. He was able to improve the Bucs both in 2012 and down the road without parting with any key assets (via ESPN).

Many are criticizing Huntington for failing to acquire a big name bat like Hunter Pence or Shin-Soo Choo but, given the high prospect costs associated with those players, the Pirates’ decision to pursue younger, cheaper players was the right one.

In acquiring Travis Snider and Gaby Sanchez without giving up any major pieces, the Pirates immediately get somewhat better while potentially improving the team substantially in the short-term future.


The Pirates Add Another Young Power Bat

The Pirates’ more noteworthy trade saw them acquire outfielder Travis Snider from the Blue Jays in exchange for relief pitcher Brad Lincoln.

Both Snider and Lincoln have substantial pedigree, and neither has yet lived up to his lofty expectations. Yet, Snider is a 24-year-old power hitter, whereas Lincoln is a 27-year-old relief pitcher. Snider’s short- and long-term potential far exceeds Lincoln’s for that simple reason.

Snider will become an everyday player for the Pirates immediately. He is batting second tonight.

In Snider, Pedro Alvarez, and Garrett Jones, the Bucs suddenly have a substantial stable of left-handed power behind table setters Starling Marte and Neil Walker. Throw in National League MVP Andrew McCutchen, and this can be one of the best offenses in the league.

This offense has the potential to stick together for a long time, too.

Aside from Jones, all of the Pirates’ core offensive pieces have several years of team control remaining. Alvarez is starting to show his superstar potential, and Snider and Marte have just as much capability. McCutchen obviously is what he is at this point. Suddenly, the Pirates have the look of a future offensive juggernaut.

Losing Lincoln does sting a bit, as he was an important part of the current bullpen and has done a great job of reinventing himself as a late-inning reliever. But, he is already 27 and the Pirates have shown a knack for developing a good bullpen on the cheap—year after year. Trading Lincoln for a player like Snider is a no-brainer.


The Bucs Increase Their Offensive Depth

Travis Snider was not the only piece the Pirates added to their offense Tuesday. The Bucs also acquired Gaby Sanchez from the Marlins in exchange for Gorkys Hernandez and their competitive balance pick.

No offense to Hernandez, but the competitive balance pick was by far the more valuable piece here. Hernandez is an amazing defensive player, but his bat simply does not play in the outfield.

It is interesting to see the Pirates already utilizing the ability to trade picks and, while the draft pick certainly has some value, a player with recent success like Sanchez is more valuable than a sandwich pick.

While Sanchez will likely begin his Pittsburgh career as the odd man out of the lineup, he provides important insurance if any of Snider, Marte and Jones falters. Sanchez was an above-average hitter in his previous three seasons, so there is reason to believe he can overcome his 2012 struggles and provide the Pirates with no worse than a valuable bat off the bench.

Like Snider, Sanchez’ value is not confined to 2012. Though he is already 28, Sanchez can still contribute to this team for two to three incremental years. It seems likely that the Pirates would trade Victor Black or Barrett Barnes for this production, so trading their compensation pick makes perfect sense as well.

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Miami Marlins: A Look at Gaby Sanchez’s Struggles and Future Outlook

It’s no secret the Miami Marlins were in heavy pursuit of free agent slugger Albert Pujols this past offseason and dangled nearly $200 million for 10 years to get him signed, sealed and delivered to sunny South Beach. 

Fast forward to May 15 and the front office should be breathing a sign of relief they missed out on him, but maybe kicking themselves that they didn’t deal their own first baseman, Gaby Sanchez, after an All-Star season in 2011. 

Here is the tale of the tape on both Sanchez and Pujols this season (via ESPN): 



Sanchez, who had a 2.4 WAR (wins above replacement) in 2011, currently has a WAR of -0.8. And while Pujols is getting all the headlines—and with good reason after signing a massive contract with the Angels—Gaby’s struggles have gone under the radar. 

A deeper look reveals Sanchez’s struggles could be tied with an increased tendency to extend the strike zone. 

According to Fangraphs, his O-Swing percentage (percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone) has increased this season from 31.9 percent to 37.7 percent this season, and that’s when you take into consideration the average is 30 percent.

And while Sanchez has made more outside contact than last season (75 percent in 2011 versus 76.7 in 2012), you can tie that to his emergency swings down in the count that usually end up being fly ball or pop outs. 

So why the drastic change? Well, pitchers have been able to dominate Sanchez when ahead or even in the count (.181 batting average, 20 strikeouts in 84 plate appearances) as opposed to when Sanchez has gotten ahead in the count (.250 batting average, .400 on-base percentage in 35 plate appearances). 

Furthermore, Sanchez has not has much success with off-speed pitches.

According to Fangraphs, where a negative score indicates poor, if any success on a particular pitch, Sanchez has struggled on changeups (-2.20), sinkers (-5.88), and curveballs (-5.05). This has allowed pitchers to blow Sanchez away with their fastball in certain situations (-2.36). 

The Marlins will probably ride Sanchez a couple of more weeks before making a somewhat permanent change at the hot corner. At this point, Sanchez has little to no trade value. An injury-riddled team like the Brewers could use him, but he isn’t hitting better than what they have in Travis Ishikawa.

Perhaps a Francisco Rodriguez for Sanchez trade might not be far-fetched if Heath Bell continues to struggle (10.03 ERA). 

But as it stands, the Marlins face a tough decision with Sanchez as he enters his first year of arbitration. Logan Morrison, whose defense has been iffy at times in the outfield this season, looks certain to make first base his immediate future if the front office declines to offer Sanchez a contract. Morrison came up through the farm system as a first baseman, but Sanchez derailed that possibility.

The Marlins could explore signing a bat in free agency, and it should be interesting since there is somewhat of a deep market for outfielders this offseason.  

The front office could choose among the likes of switch-hitting Shane Victorino (32 years old at time of free agency), Melky Cabrera (28 years old), or Nick Swisher (32 years old). The Marlins could also target B.J. Upton (28 years old), or if they want to take a shot at the best free agent on the market, Josh Hamilton (31 years old). 

For now, Sanchez has to get better for the Marlins sake and his own. Ever since donning the All-Star jersey, Sanchez is hitting a miserable .216 (74-for-342) and has slugged nine home runs as opposed to the 11 the first half of 2011. 

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MLB Fantasy Baseball 2011 Projection: Will Gaby Sanchez Hold Value?

Gaby Sanchez hit .302 over 1,753 minor league at-bats. The Marlins gave him cups of coffee in the major leagues in 2008 (eight AB) and 2009 (21 AB), before finally handing the former fourth-round draft pick the full-time first base job in 2010. He did deliver, posting the following line:

572 At Bats
.273 Batting Average (156 Hits)
19 Home Runs
85 RBI
72 Runs
5 Stolen Bases
.341 On Base Percentage
.448 Slugging Percentage
.299 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Now the question for fantasy owners is if he cannot only replicate those numbers, but if he can expand on them. Let’s be honest, for as nice as the numbers are, they are far from what we are expecting from a first baseman. Where’s the power? Where’s the big-time average?

Over his minor league career, Sanchez hit just 62 HR, or a home run once every 28.3 at-bats (only slightly better than his 30.1 mark in ’10). In 2009, he had 318 AB in the Pacific Coast League, hitting just 16 HR.

While he did post a nice 46.1 percent fly ball rate, his HR/FB was just 8.7 percent. He had 37 doubles and three triples so, at 27 years old, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him add a little bit of power and see some of those extra base hits fly over the fence. However, given his track record, it’s impossible to expect a huge increase. Putting him in the low 20s seems like a good bet, but that’s far from your prototypical first baseman.

There is room for growth in his average, given his minor league career and a .299 BABIP in ‘10. Throw in a good contact rate (17.7 percent in ’10, but he was at 13.7 percent mark at Triple-A), and there is reason to believe. Like the power, I’m not sure that you can expect a huge increase, but improving to .280 or .290? Sure, why not. 

Again, however, is it enough?

Throw in the fact that he’ll likely be hitting fifth or sixth, and there is actually a lot of reasons to stay away from him. Sure, he’ll be in a position to drive in some runs, but it doesn’t seem like the lineup will allow him to drive in 100, especially if he’s hitting sixth. Scoring runs? I don’t think so. Not hitting that late in the Marlins order.

The whole thing adds up to the following projection:

.285 (164-575), 23 HR, 80 RBI, 90 R, 6 SB, .311 BABIP, .362 OBP, .470 SLG

Those numbers are fine and dandy but not from a first baseman. You need someone who is going to hit a lot of home runs, or at least, hit for a great average and drive in some runs. Without that, you are going to be significantly behind the competition.

As a corner infielder? Absolutely, there’s nothing wrong with him. He’s a solid option and certainly stacks up with the low-end 1B or the majority of 3B as well. If you are in a shallower format, however, there are better options you can look towards.

What are your thoughts on Sanchez? Is he someone you would target? Why or why not?

Make sure to order your copy of the Rotoprofessor 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here.

Make sure to check out some of our 2011 projections:

Barmes, Clint
Buchholz, Clay

Butler, Billy

Choo, Shin-Soo

Ethier, Andre

Freese, David

Hudson, Tim

Hughes, Phil

Jaso, John

Johnson, Chris

Uggla, Dan

Morrow, Brandon

Reyes, Jose

Rios, Alex

Stanton, Mike

Suzuki, Kurt

Wieters, Matt

Willingham, Josh

Young, Michael


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Hitter’s Paradise: Why Marlins’ Batting Practice at New Stadium Reveals Flaw

We are still a little over a year away from the Florida Marlins entering their new stadium; however, noteworthy is their recent trip which involved members of the Marlins brass (Jeffrey Loria and David Samson) and players Hanley Ramirez, John Buck, Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison, Chris Coghlan and Mike Stanton who took the unofficial first batting practice at the new stadium while being on hand for the first seat installation. 

Now it was just batting practice, but a few home runs throughout the process may have forecasted a potential flaw with the plans of the stadium. Of note: a few baseballs came close to leaving the stadium, specifically one hit by Mike Stanton which cleared the stadium by essentially shooting through the invisible glass panels in left field and exiting the building. 

Even Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria felt worried his “Pitcher Park” would end up being something else, perhaps being a repeat of what happened to the Yankees in their first season at Yankee Stadium.

“Some of those fly balls—I’m not sure this is a pitcher’s ballpark anymore,” Loria said. “The building is gorgeous.”

Let’s examine the future home of the Marlins and current one for a second, shall we? Sun Life Stadium, while mostly considered a pitcher’s park is really a neutral park. 

According to ESPN’s Park Factor, which measures a stadium’s ability to be a hitters paradise or a pitcher’s park, the Marlins’ Sun Life Stadium ranked 10th in runs scored but 24th in home runs per game with 0.822. 

In terms of dimensions, the Marlins new stadium will be 10 feet further in left field (340 feet), 23 feet further in left center (384), 12 feet further in center (416 feet), 17 feet further in right center (392 feet), and 10 feet less in right field (335 feet). 

Nevertheless, dimensions aren’t the full cause of a stadium’s ability to be hitter-friendly or pitcher-friendly. The Marlins haven’t truly played baseball in South Florida indoors, so only time will tell how playing indoors and outdoors in the stadium will effect playing conditions come 2012.

Last season the Minnesota Twins opened their new stadium, Target Field, and ranked last of all 30 Major league ballparks in home runs per game, with 0.641 per game. Target Field’s dimensions are a bit closer to home plate than the Marlins’ new ballpark, but again, only time will tell whether the Marlins’ new stadium is truly a hitter’s or pitchers paradise in South Beach. 

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MLB Fantasy Baseball Profile: Can Gaby Sanchez Be Productive Again This Year?

Gaby Sanchez did a great Jorge Cantu impression last year, hitting .273 with 72 runs, 19 HRs, 85 RBI and five SBs.

The Marlins have essentially had that line from their first basemen for the past three seasons.

Sanchez did not excel in any particular category, but he was solid enough to be a useful fantasy option. I wouldn’t dare use him as a starting first basemen, but he has use in the corner infield slot.

Don’t expect raw power from Sanchez—that’s just not his strength.

He hit 62 in 1753 at bats (28.3 AB/HR) in the minors. Last year for the Marlins he hit 19 HRs in 572 at bats (30.1 HR/AB). However, with 16 HRs in 318 ABs (19.9 AB/HR) in 2009 for Triple-A New Orleans, there is potential to improve in that category.

What he has done well is hit for average and drive in runs. He hit .314 for Double-A Carolina with 92 RBI in 478 at bats. He followed that up by hitting .289 with 56 RBI in 318 ABs.

Sanchez was particularly effective when there were runners on base. He hit .237 with the bases empty and .310 with runners on. He hit .291 with runners in scoring position, knocking in 64 in 165 at bats.

The splits weren’t all favorable for Sanchez though, as he hit .302 before the All-Star Game and .237 after the break. He had nine HRs with 38 RBI before the break in 315 ABs.

Despite the big difference in average, Sanchez hit 10 HRs with 47 RBI in 257 ABs after the break.

Sanchez has the 17th highest ADP among first basemen according to Mock Draft Central, and 195th overall, which puts him in the 17th round. Not a bad spot for a solid corner infielder and 1B insurance.

I’m not going to make a point to target Sanchez, but I won’t shy away from him when the time is right.

What are your thoughts on Sanchez in 2011?


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Ryan Howard: Despite a Shorter 2010 Season, Reigns Above the NL East Offensively

In the 2010 season, the first basemen of the Philadelphia Phillies, Ryan Howard, spent a great deal of time on the disabled list.  When doing the math by analyzing the innings played, it shows that Howard played in about seventeen fewer games in 2010 than he did in 2009. 

Of 162 games, missing seventeen games does not sound like that much. Howard usually plays well over 150 games per year.  In 2008, Howard started 156 games and 155 in 2009.  With the injury, Howard only started 139 games in 2010.

Even with missing so much time during the 2010 season, he still produced numbers better than most other players in baseball.  Of 1000+ baseball players, Howard produced numbers good enough for him being tied at 14th rank with the number of home runs. He was 11th in the number of runs batted-in. 

Howard was also ranked 49th for on-base percentage, 25th in slugging percentage and 29th in OPS.

Howard had a very productive season in 2010, although it was certainly not his peak year, that we can blame on the time he missed from injury. 

He did hit for an average of .276 with 31 home runs and 108 runs batted-in.  His on-base percentage was .353 and his slugging percentage was .505 with 152 hits and 59 walks.  He also had 157 strikeouts, which is at a ratio of about a two-percent improvement.

Howard’s numbers were good enough, even with missing all of the time from injury, to be the best and most productive first basemen in the NL East Division.  When comparing Howard to the other first basemen in the NL East, the only player that can actually challenge Howard’s numbers, according to the stats of 2010, is Adam LaRoche.

LaRoche, who was not in the NL East in 2010, batted for an average of .261 with 25 home runs and 100 runs batted-in.  His on-base percentage was .320 with a slugging percentage of .468.

However, LaRoche was still lagging behind the numbers of Howard even though Howard started about 17 less games than usual and less games than LaRoche had played. 

When comparing Howard to LaRoche, it is easy to see that Howard will provide more offense to the team.  Howard beats LaRoche in batting average, home runs, RBIs, on base percentage, slugging percentage and stolen bases. Although neither are particularly a threat to run. 

On the defensive side of the field, they were both credited with the same number of double plays.  LaRoche had a few less errors, but you can expect the same from these two players defensively.

Howard and LaRoche produced similar numbers in 2010.  Although Howard did not beat LaRoche’s numbers all that significantly, that wouldn’t have been true if we were talking about a season that Howard played the entirety of. 

Either way, Howard is the most productive first basemen of the NL East, followed by LaRoche.  The other three first basemen follow these two further down the line.

The New York Mets have Ike Davis and the Florida Marlins have Gaby Sanchez for their role in first base.  These two players are coming off of productive 2010 seasons, but they cannot compare to the top, Howard or LaRoche. 

The Atlanta Braves have Freddie Freeman for first base, but it is hard to speculate how he will fair in 2011 since he is only 21-years-old and has only had 24 major league at bats. 

In those at bats, he had four hits including a double and home run, but only an average of .167. Seeing how Freeman will fare in 2011 will be interesting, but as of right now, I will predict that he will not produce numbers that can compare to Howard, which I think is a pretty safe prediction.

Davis batted for an average of .264 with 19 home runs and 71 RBIs.  He had an on-base percentage of .351 and a slugging average of .440.  Sanchez had an average of .273 with 19 home runs and 85 RBIs.  He had an on-base percentage of .341 and a slugging average of .448.

As these numbers show and Howard continues to prove, he is one of the best offensive producers in baseball, and he is, undoubtedly, the best first basemen that will be found in the NL East for at least the 2011 MLB season. 

If Howard stays healthy, which would be safe to presume about this season, he will certainly shine above the rest of the NL East at first base and most other players in baseball like he has in seasons past.  Howard can afford to play less then 15 games than usual, and still reign towards the top of offensive productivity.

Not only is Howard the most productive first basemen, but he is also the top producer of those who remain in the NL East Division. With the rosters currently set the way they are in the NL East, with all players included, Howard was second with the number of home runs and first with RBIs.

In the NL East, Howard is one of only three players with over 100 RBIs, where the rest of the RBI leaders did not cross 85 RBIs last season.

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Fantasy Baseball 2011: 5 Florida Marlins to Consider

Everybody knows about Hanley Ramirez: 2009 batting champ, five-tool stud and perennial first rounder.

Everybody should know about Josh Johnson: Cy Young contender, career ERA of 3.10, a ton of potential.

But what else, if anything, do the Marlins have to offer fantasy owners?

In spite of the organization’s everlasting dedication to penny pinching, the Marlins have a handful of players that are sure to impact this year’s fantasy season.

Here they are, by order of importance, along with their 2011 projection:


1. Michael Stanton—.265 BA, 36 HR, 93 RBI 

The first thing you notice when you watch Michael Stanton is how hard he hits the ball. He is listed at 6’5″, 235 pounds, and he’s only 21-years-old. The guy is like an athletic version of Adam Dunn. However, his plate discipline is abysmal. He’s going to challenge Mark Reynolds for the major league lead in strikeouts. Nevertheless, his upside is still tremendous. He’s going to hit his fair share of home runs this year, but it’ll just be the tip of the iceberg. If you’re in a keeper league, Stanton is your guy. 


2. Javier Vazquez—15 W, 3.65 ERA, 194 K 

So the guy with a 4.41 ERA in three years with the White Sox wasn’t a success as a Yankee? Big shocker there! Yes, he was coming off of a career year with the Braves, but let’s face it, no one expected much out of him, and the NL is a pitcher’s league. I’m not counting on Javy to replicate his superb 2009 season, but he will be successful as a Marlin. He won’t have to worry about New York City expectations or intense media scrutiny. He will get comfortable in front of embarrassingly small crowds and become the No. 2 starter. 


3. Chris Coghlan—90 R, .283 BA, 11 HR, 62 RBI, 13 SB

The party was over very quickly for the 2009 Rookie of the Year as he hit .195 to start 2010. His 2009 batting average was impressive, .321, but he only hit nine HR and stole eight bases in 128 games. We know that he has the potential to hit for big average, as confirmed by his .377 average last June, but his season ended in July because of a torn meniscus (it’s hard to throw a pie sometimes, you know). His erratic performance makes it hard to predict how he will do long-term, but he is an extremely hard worker, so don’t count him out. He will likely be a top of the order staple, in front of three powerful hitters (Ramirez/Stanton/Sanchez). I’d look to steal him in the mid-to-late rounds because he has the potential to contribute in multiple stat categories. 


4. Gaby Sanchez—.278 BA, 23 HR, 88 RBI

Everybody in South Florida fell in love with Gaby Sanchez when he rushed to Chris Volstad’s defense and violently clothes-lined Nyger Morgan (MLB villain and 2010 fantasy disappointment). Aside from his WWF moves, Sanchez had a productive rookie year (.273/19/85). He likely will bat cleanup or fifth, behind three players with the potential to consistently be on base (Prado/Coghlan/Ramirez). He represents a favorable option for those teams who were unable to secure a top 1B. 


5. Ricky Nolasco—14 W, 4.41 ERA, 182 K

Some people picked Nolasco over Josh Johnson in last year’s draft. That would not be a good idea this year, to say the least. Nolasco is very streaky as he usually puts together a string of good starts, but he will similarly devastate you with a few awful starts here and there. Depending on where he is projected, fantasy owners may pay a high price for a largely over-rated pitcher. I’d steer clear unless you can pick him up late. 

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