By Dr. Rug
Before we get to this week’s peek into the trade value rankings I’d like to take a minute to invite all of my fantastic readers to sign up for the Wood Bat tournament that’s coming up July 7th and 8th (with the draft being held on the night of the 6th). This tournament is open to anyone that wants to play, not just players in the league. So if you’ve been thinking to yourself any of these thoughts…
“Hey, I’m at least as good of an athlete as Mitch Madsen”, or
“Al Cardinal’s been doing this for 50 years, it can’t be that hard”, or even
“I’m better than my both my brothers at everything in life, if Primetime and J-Rod can play this sport, so can I”
Now’s the time to do something about it!! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and a request to play in the Wood Bat tournament and you’ll be added to the draft list. Spaces are limited though so sign up now.
(YK Fastball players, you are also invited to sign up for the tourney too. It’s a fun tournament and the draft party should be a great time once again.)
With that out of the way, let’s get to the rankings. Last week you got a chance to check in on the chumps of the league as we covered some of the guys ranked #31 – #91, this week we’ll move on to some guys that actually make a positive difference when they’re on the field as we head into the top 30 in the league.
#30. Jon Whitford (2013 rank: 6)
A common trend for a lot of the guys that suffered drastic falls in the rankings was a lack of games played. Jon had a .700 OBP last year but with just 4 games played and 10 plate appearances, he didn’t have the volume needed to remain in the top ten. It didn’t help that he had 0 extra base hits and only 3 RBIs but his main issue was a lack of games.
#29. Andy Williams (2013 rank: 1)
However, there were also some players that fell drastically in the rankings because their numbers took a nosedive. From 2013 to 2016 Andy’s numbers were basically cut in half with his batting average falling by 0.308 and his slugging percentage by 0.778. That is how you drop from first overall to barely making the top 30. If Monday’s hitting display was any indication, this year looks like it’s going to be closer to 2013 than 2016.
#28. Ryan Strain (2013 rank: 4)
Returning to our theme from last week, Rhino is yet another of the Slades regulars who saw a sharp decline in his numbers. He was a top 5 player in both the 2012 and 2013 rankings but has fallen off in recent years. Perhaps age is finally catching up with him or perhaps it’s the pressure that goes along with trying to carry the once potent Slades offense all by himself… Nope. It’s definitely the age catching up with him.
#27. Bruce Waugh (2013 rank: 30)
I debated giving Bruce a few bonus points and sliding him further up the ranks solely for the fear factor that he instills in opposing batters thanks to once again leading the league in hit batters. He has to be the YK Fastball League career leader in batters hit, right? I mean he’s been leading the league year in and year out by a wide margin for the past decade at least. So yeah, I debated giving him a few bonus points but then I remembered, as Bruce himself likes to point out, it’s just a little ball. It’s not like it can hurt you. And with that, you’ll remain at 27 Bruce.
#26. Raymond Risk
I have to admit, I’m pretty happy right now that Bruce is thousands of miles away… otherwise I would fear for my safety after having Ray higher on the list than Bruce. However, the numbers don’t lie and my rankings are all based on the numbers.
In actual fact, in this case the numbers might be stretching the truth a little bit. All of the guys behind him in today’s rankings had better numbers than Ray across most of the major statistical categories. Unfortunately for them, Ray led the league in stolen bases last year with 3 which gave him the boost he needed to surpass them. If we start tracking Caught Stealing numbers this year, it would help my algorithm and allow me to penalize guys that run for no reason other than to rack up their SB numbers… but as it stands, we don’t have CS numbers so Ray Ray gets himself a nice little boost, propping himself up to almost making the top 25. Congrats Ray.
***Let’s pause for a moment to reflect on the fact that the league leader had three steals last year. Three. I realize that this is one of those stats that Jimmy often overlooks (understatement), but still, three is sad. In fact, only Ray and Sam Bedard had more than one steal on the year last year. Looking further into this and it appears that the league leader in 2015 also only had three steals. And that person was none other than Bruce Waugh!!! If only he’d done that last year too, he wouldn’t be stuck behind Ray Ray in the rankings.***
(Cut to Rick Morrison reaching for his phone right now, trying to figure out which team is going to give him his comeback opportunity.)
Since we’re taking a break from the rankings for a minute, a trivia question for you my dear readers…
Who wore it better?
The correct answer to this trivia question will be revealed at the end of the column. And now, back to our regularly scheduled countdown.
#25. Sean Couvrette
Have the Couvrettes officially surpassed the Strains as the second best brother combination in YK Fastball? Judging by the rankings this year, the answer to that question is a resounding yes! Somewhere Bill is hanging his head in shame.
#24. Todd “Dad” Moran
He’s a legend whether he’s behind the plate, working the crowd at Chase the Ace, or with the ladies on the D floor at the Range. Todd brings a well-rounded game to all aspects of life. He may not have as much pop in his bat as some of the sluggers in the league but Todd is one of the most consistent hitters on the O’s and has, without a doubt, the most consistent temperament on the team. Emotion may be useful at times, but there are a few players on the O’s squad that take that a little too far (perhaps one of the reasons they’re 0 for forever in finals?), thankfully, Todd is not one of them.
#23. Mike Dove (2013 rank: 32)
Another of the most consistent players in the League, Dover again slots into the rankings in his typical 20-30 range. In the last 5 years, Dove’s average batting average has been .494, this year he hit .480. The guy does what he does year in and year out. Crushes the ball about 50% of the time, and whiffs on change-ups the other 50% of the time.
#22. Carter Stirling
Carter was #2 in batting average, #3 in on base percentage, #16 in slugging percentage, #50 in RBIs and tied for #60 in extra base hits with 1. Those numbers are extraordinary. Second overall in the league in batting average and tied for 60th in extra base hits. And it’s not like it was because of a lack of plate appearances, the average player in the rankings had 23 PAs last season, Carter had 27. In fact, Josh Brown appeared in only one game, had three at bats, and still finished the year with more extra base hits than Carter. I guess that’s what your numbers look like when you can bunt for a base hit any time you want but have “limited” other skills with the bat.
#21. Brad Waugh
Perhaps this is the real reason that Bruce decided to leave town this offseason. Brad has finally surpassed him on the fastball field. Interesting factoids for you guys:
- Bruce led the league in most hit batters in 2016
- Brad led the league in most times hit by pitch in 2016
I wonder if these two facts are in any way related?
#20. Brent Hinchey
The first of the Hinchey clan and the only one of the crew to appear in part 2 of the rankings. To see where the boys show up, you’re going to have to wait until next week. But with the fourth best Hinchey showing up at #20 in the rankings, it’s safe to say that the Hincheys are the top family in town. If you have any doubts about that, just ask them. Any one of them will be happy to go on for hours about how great all of their family members are.
#19. Brad Mueller
Since joining the Cardinals at the start of 2014, Mueller has 53 regular season at bats with the team. He’s hit 15 singles, 12 doubles, 1 triple and 8 home runs in those ABs. That’s equates to a .679 batting average, .717 on base percentage, and a 1.396 slugging percentage (with 27 runs scored and 37 RBIs). Those numbers are ridiculously good and would easily have Mueller in the #1 spot if he put them up over the course of one season. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, he’s also averaged only 5 games played per season over those three years and has yet to appear in a game in 2017. Tracey, any chance you can let him out to play this weekend?
#18. Brian Couvrette (2013 rank: 17)
After debuting at #9 in the rankings in 2012, the Vette is continuing his downward trend as he falls to number 18. The reason for the fall from the top 10 is his declining power numbers. Last season, for the first time ever, Brian didn’t hit a single home run. Unfortunately for his teammates this did absolutely nothing to stop him telling them all about every play he did make after each and every game. This year he’s already made his way back into the HR column on the stat sheet with a shot that (according to him) he chose to perfectly place at that exact spot 3.5 feet over the fence in left field. A great decision Vette! Of course he then had to congratulate himself so he gave himself an ovation, clapping his hands the entire way around the bases. Classic.
#17. Lorne Gerwing
Lorne is the third of eight entries for the Home Building Centre Cardinals in the top 20 of this year’s rankings. That’s easily the most of any team and probably the reason why the Cards finished first in the league standings and were the only team to finish in the top three in each one of the standings last year. On top of that, Lorne is the only player in the league with a pizza named after him. For those of you that haven’t tasted it, you need to try the Lorne Special from Bruno’s. Pizza doesn’t get much better than that (it might be partially due to the fact that I’m always at least 10 beer deep when I have a Lorne Special but nonetheless, they are always delicious).
#16. Kevin Valillee (2013 rank: 21)
I say it every year but that doesn’t make it any less true, Kevin is the most frustrating batter in the league to have to face. The way he fouls off pitch after pitch after pitch is annoying beyond belief. Once again he led the league in walks last season, taking a free pass ten times to bring his 5 year total to 54 BBs in 263 PAs. Which breaks down to about one walk every five times he comes to the plate. I don’t even need to look at anyone else’s numbers to know that that mark is far and away the best in the league. It’s also the reason Ishii slots in at 16th despite being the only guy in the top 25 with a batting average below .400. When your OBP is 150 points higher than your Average, it makes up for having a down year hitting the ball. Oh, and he’s pretty decent on the defensive side as well.
#15. Fraser Oliver
Fraser may not have had the best averages of our top players in 2016 but he more than made up for it with volume. Despite the shortened season, Fraser still managed to play in 15 games last season (tops in the league) and had the third most plate appearances (behind two other Trappers… I guess when you’ve got that many old guys, the young guys get a lot of playing time).
#14. Jordan Griffin
Griffin is the first newcomer to the league (besides Ray Ray who doesn’t really count) that we’ve seen in the top 30 so far but he certainly won’t be the last. Each of the next four guys on the list weren’t playing in the league the last time the rankings came out, but they all made a name for themselves in 2016. Jordan did his best to replace the power that the Cards lost with the departure of Ooms after the 2015 season, slugging an impressive 1.045 in his first season. He would have easily walked away with the rookie of the year trophy if not for the next man on the list.
#13. Scott Blacklock
Scott rolled into town halfway through the season last year, put up stellar numbers at the plate (0.600/0.750/1.100), and pitched the Rockies to the league title, their first ever tournament win.
No big deal.
He also made it to the #14 spot in the rankings despite having fewer plate appearances than anyone in the top 25 not named Mueller. It’s unfortunate for the Rockies that he’s gone already but they’ll always have their fond memories of the 2016 league championship.
#12. Ian Farrer
The man with the last name that no one can spell (did I get it right?) or pronounce correctly came into his own last season. The reason for his vast improvement was simple; from the 2015 season to the 2016 season Ian cut his strikeouts down from 12 to 4. The result? A 165 point jump in batting average, a 210 point jump in on-base, and a 288 point jump in slugging percentage. That was enough to have him knocking on the door of the top 10 in the league.
#11. Paul Rivard
We started off Part 1 of these rankings talking about the precipitous decline for the Slades regulars, and now we are finishing off Part 2 of the rankings with three straight Rockies making their debuts. That, my friends, goes a long way to explaining why the Rockies finished ahead of (or tied with) Slades in every single list on the 2016 standings page.
And with that, I thank you all for joining me on this journey up the Fastball rankings. As always, if you have any questions or comments about the rankings or about fastball or about life in general, I can always be reached at email@example.com. Stay tuned next week as we find out who the best of the best are!!
Oh, and the answer to the trivia question is…
Me. I wore it best.