Tuesday Morning Cram Session, 7/17

Michael Young, according to Sports Illustrated’s annual poll of MLBers is the most underrated player in the game today.  This is the guy who has played in the last two World Series and received tongue baths from every single announcer and scribe covering them.  The player who continues to be revered in the media as a team leader even as he’s balked at position changes and demanded trades.  The guy who’s making $14 million this season to play baseball.  The guy who is hitting .273/.304/.353 as a designated hitter/utility player for the Rangers.  The guy who finished 8th in the AL MVP voting. Essentially, what the players are saying, is that Michael Young is one of the seven most valuable players in the American League today.

That’s obviously ludicrous, as Michael Young isn’t even the 7th most valuable player on his own team.  Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre (in fact, Beltre has a much better case for being underrated than Young), Yu Darvish, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Colby Lewis, and Matt Harrison, to say nothing of Nelson Cruz, David Murphy, Mike Napoli, Joe Nathan, and Robbie Ross.  Or Young’s comically bad -1.8 WAR (according to Baseball Reference, -1.0 according to FanGraphs).  Any way you slice it, he has been horrible for the Rangers in 2012.

Michael Young was once a very good player.  He could hit at the top of a lineup and play a passable middle infield.  That had value at one point.  But, for now at least, he can’t do either.  He’s hurting his team.  And while there’s no real way to know just when this poll was taken, or what the voting spread was like, this remains a strong reminder that ballplayers are often no better equipped than the average fan to assess their brethren. They don’t watch every game.  They can’t keep abreast of everything that happens.  They have their own internal biases.  It’s not their job to understand what everything about the game.  It’s their job to play it; to apply their very specific skill set to their job.  When we get more than that, it’s wonderful.  Hearing an intelligent player engage in honest and respectful debate with fans and analysts is a wonderful side-effect of the Twitter age.  But we shouldn’t expect, en masse, for that same thoughtfulness.

Other ridiculous choices include Cliff Pennington, Jamey Carroll, and guys like Paul Konerko and Robbie Cano, both of whom seem very highly regarded by average fans.


Pitcher of the Night: Lance Lynn, 7 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 10 K, 1 R
No decision for Lynn, who drops his ERA to 3.27 on the year.  Aren’t pitcher wins fricking stupid?

Hitter of the Night: Miguel Montero, 3-4, HR, 2 2B, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB
Another one of the so-called underrated players on SI’s list.  Montero might have a legitimate beef, hitting .275/.377/.431 this year.  Then again, he signed a big contract extension, and so he won’t have his name bandied about in free agent rumors anytime soon, which does a lot to elevate a player in the public’s eyes.

Defensive Play of the Night: Ben Revere
Don’t speak.  Just watch:

Sublime. (GIF courtesy of NotGraphs)

Injuries of Note:
David Ortiz, Achilles tendon
This did not look bad. It looked more ridiculous than anything else. But it could also be a huge blow.

Brendan Ryan, foul off of knee
This looked really bad, but since it’s Brendan Ryan and the Mariners, it’s not nearly as traumatic.

Jose Bautista, wrist
This looked really bad, and could be incredibly devastating for the Blue Jays. MRIs to follow.

Trade Bait of the Night: Justin Upton, 3-4, RBI, SB
What a lazy, good for nothing, so and so.  Not even a single home run.


Tigers: Quentin Berry, 3-5, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 SB
Angels: Mark Trumbo, 1-4, HR
There comes a time to stop complaining that they’re not actually this good and start just enjoying their good play until they stop doing it.  Berry is at .297/.376/.400 on the year, with 14 steals without being caught and Trumbo is hitting .309/.361/.625 with 25 homers.

Blue Jays: Adam Lind, 1-3, HR, BB
Lind was hitting .186/.273/.314 when he got sent down to Las Vegas.  Since being recalled, he’s hitting .327/.393/.673 in 61 PAs. If Bautista’s going to be out for any length of time, Lind is going to have to stay hot for the Jays to remain in striking distance of the second Wild Card.

Diamondbacks: Willie Bloomquist, 3-5, 1 R
The Common Man is in love with Willie Bloomquist’s secretly terrible season, in which he’s hitting .295, but with a .323 OBP and a .393 slugging. It’s like the most Willie Bloomquist season ever.  He’s even got more caught stealings (8) than successful steals (6).

Red Sox: Aaron Cook, 7 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 R
Cook has just 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, and 2 homers allowed in 29.2 innings this year. He’s the anti-3-true-outcomes champion of the world.  God bless him and his continued ridiculousness.

Indians: Shin-Soo Choo, 2-4, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB
Speaking of being underrated, Shin-Soo Choo is again and all is right with the world.  He’s having a terrific unheralded season, hitting .297/.382/.489.

Marlins: Emilio Bonifacio, 1-2, RBI, 2 SB, 2 Sac
Those two sacrifice bunts perfectly epitomized what TCM loves and hates about the strategy.  The first was a sacrifice that moved Carlos Zambrano and Jose Reyes to 3B and 2B respectively with one out.  You can argue that at least Bonifacio didn’t hit into the double play there, but Bonifacio is a speed demon who has only hit into 7 of those in the last two seasons.  Three batters later, Hanley Ramirez hit a two run homer.  Out and potential baserunner wasted.  But his second bunt was beautiful.  A perfect suicide squeeze down the firstbase line.  Not far enough out that the 1B could get it quickly, and a perfect distance from the plate so that the catcher had to spring out and field it, rather than cover the dish.  It pushed the lead to two runs, and the Marlins held on.  He also had 2 SBs, which gives him 23 with just 1 caught stealing.

Royals: Jonathan Sanchez: 1.1 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 7 R
Children should not be allowed to watch Sanchez starts anymore, as they’re too scarring.  He has 44 walks and 36 strikeouts in 53.1 innings.  And he’s getting absolutely lit up.  He has allowed 6, 6, 4, and 7 runs in his last four starts with 27 hits and 16 walks in 17 innings.  His ERA on the season is 7.76.  There is either something physically wrong with Sanchez, or something wrong between the ears.  Either way, he seems unlikely to solve the problem in Kansas City.  A DL stint would be a good idea.

Brewers: John Axford, 0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 0 K, 3 R
Man, what’s wrong with John Axford?  Is this just typical reliever volatility?  He as a 5.35 ERA, and 6 blown saves in 22 chances.  As long as you’re making sure kids don’t get to see Sanchez, you might as well turn off Brewers games after the 8th inning.  At least K-Rod is around if the Brewers decide to make a change.

Twins: Justin Morneau, 4-5, 2 2B, 3 R, RBI and Trevor Plouffe, 2-4, 2B, 3 R, RBI, BB
Both in the middle of a 14 game hitting streak

Rockies: Dexter Fowler, 1-4, RBI
If he’s being honest, The Common Man doesn’t care about anybody on the Rockies at this point.  Congratulations on winning a game, guys.

Astros: Scott Moore, 1-2, 2 RBI, 2 SacFly
Again, in the interest of honesty, The Common Man has no idea who this is (Your 2012 Astros!). But his two sacrifice flies plated the only runs of this game.  So good for him.

Phillies: Chase Utley, 0-4
It’s only 13 games, but it’s hard not to feel a little discouraged about Chase Utley hitting .239/.265/.370, if only because so many have been rooting for him to recapture even a little of his former glory.  Incidentally, his full name, Chase Cameron Utley sounds like a really good independent film or a really bad Disney Channel sitcom from the early ’90s.