Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Picking the Leaders: AL Hitters

So, Charles and Cory engage in yet another bet, this time to see who is better at picking league leaders. Charles will project the AL league-leading total in a number of categories, and Cory will guess whether the actual leader will be over or under that total. We'll each take a stab at identifying the leader as well. Then we do the same for the NL, but with Cory setting the number and Charles guessing over/under.

No cash is being wagered, of course ;-)

By the way, Cory, if I hear you bidding up the guys I tout at our roto draft, I'm going to make sure that there are "problems" with your call-in line.
Without further ado, here's the AL from Charles (Cory's responses in italics):

Batting Average: It is surprising, but the AL batting title has tended to go to free-swinging types lately -- Ichiro, Young, Nomar, none is known as a particularly patient hitter. Mauer is a bit more so, but I am kind of surprised by this.
Anyway, I see batting average being a bit down this year, and AL batting crown won at .343. Even that might be a little high. I'm giving a title to another relatively free swinger, Vlad Guerrero.

I think you’re a bit high on this one – Mauer’s year last year was pretty special, and he’ll have his run again, but you’ll notice this category has been won in recent years by guys expected to do nothing but collect base hits. In the case of Mauer and Young it was “who is this guy” only to hang on to the title in the end. So who can rake and yet has no pressure on him this year? How about Robinson Cano, maybe (excuse me Twins’ fans), the best pure hitter in the AL. But will he get .343? No. .338 takes the prize.

Cano was my other consideration. Again, a free swinger.

Home Runs. I really wanted to set this at 50 -- since I cut my baseball teeth in the 70's and early 80's, that number still has some magic for me, conjuring up images of George Foster and Cecil Fielder. But who can really get there? Papi did it last year, of course, but I see a drop off there, and I'm thinking A. Rod left 50 behind in Arlington (Texas, not Virginia). Who else really could do it?
I say 48 homers wears the crown. Just to be different, I'll take Mark Teixeira to do it.

50 was pretty magical, wasn’t it? You’re right that Big George (Foster, not Bell) is the image that reigns supreme on this one – but 50 isn’t that tough anymore, especially with the most famous Non-Tender in Twins history swinging for the fences game after game. I think Papi repeats here and I think he pushes 50 – but only just. 51 wins it for David Ortiz.

RBI. How did Ortiz get only 137 RBI with those 54 dingers? That's the lowest leading total since the strike, even with an above-average HR total. I think Ortiz will have more guys on base ahead of him this year, but I give the title to Teixeira, with 143.

Ok, so Papi’s numbers were unimpressive considering the HR’s, but who am I to complain, they got the svelte Canadian a “cheap” MVP… They are also quite impressive when put up against McGwire’s 147 RBI’s and 70(!) HR’s of ’98! I think you are pretty darn close on the 143, and I will edge just under, but I have to go for a guy who’s going to be driving them in left right and center this season in the Bronx, Alex Rodriguez with 140 even.

Runs. This has been a pretty consistent category -- 124 exactly has won three of the last four years. I think we end up back in that neighborhood. A. Rod wins with a total of 124.

I cannot argue with the 124, and I can’t argue with A-Rod… but I will. I think the Yankees are going to explode offensively (and hopefully implode in every other respect), and A-Rod will be at the heart of it… but scoring in front of him more often than not will be Derek Jeter, who I peg at 127 runs.

Steals. Again, who could crack 50? Used to be this category was for slight fellows like Willie Wilson, Billy North, Frank Taveras, and Omar Moreno. I'm probably the only one reading this who even remembers any of those guys, though.
I can't help but see a drop-off for Figgins and Patterson, and I wonder if Carl Crawford won't start to focus on other things a little more sometime soon. Fifty steals wins this year, and Crawford is the only one to get there.

This category has gotten less and less interesting each year and now seems to matter only to fantasy folks. I mean what dominant team has a Rickey Henderson speed guy any more with the proliferation of bandbox parks? As a result, I have to agree with Carl Crawford even if I think you’re a little high on the number. I say 43.

Later this week: The AL Pitching Categories

Charles is a lawyer living in Chevy Chase, Maryland who makes a living at tweaking the noses of Twins' fans... but only when they deserve it.

Cory is also a lawyer living in San Diego, California who never misses a Twins game, even when they start at four in the afternoon.

No comments: