Posts Tagged ‘Jay Bruce’

Remember The Prospects: Baseball America’s Historical Number Ones

Since Extra P and I started Bus Leagues last year, I have found myself constantly fascinated by the idea of prospects and the way they perform when they reach the major league level. As I’m sure our readers have noticed by now, Baseball America’s Preseason Top 100 serves as my go-to list in this area – that’s where most of the “Now Batting/Pitching For” posts come from. On its web site, BA has a section that contains every Top 100 list since 1990. For a few weeks now, I’ve been playing around with the info, trying to figure out fun ways to present it. The following is the first in what I hope will be a sort of running “Prospect Retrospective” feature.

A logical starting point is with the top dogs: the players who have earned Baseball America’s number one ranking as the top player in minor league baseball. The seventeen players afforded this honor are ranked below according to their career accomplishments, with an eye toward possible future production. Originally, I had everyone grouped onto one big list – after tinkering for a bit, however, it made more sense to break them into two sections, one for position players and one for pitchers (plus one name that pops up on both lists).

Alex Rodriguez, ss, Mariners (1995) – Rodriguez was a “can’t miss” prospect – first overall pick in the draft, top rated – who absolutely has not missed, yet everyone is constantly looking for reasons to tear him down. Funny how that works. Bottom line: his Hall of Fame candidacy is a no-brainer – all that’s left is to wait and see where he lands on the list of history’s greatest players.

33 years old, 15 years, 2000 games, 7706 at-bats, 1572 runs, 2361 hits, 418 doubles, 543 homeruns, 1571 RBI, 281 stolen bases, 958 walks, .306/.389/.579, 148 OPS+, 4460 total bases, 12 All-Star appearances, 3 American League MVP awards, 2 Gold Glove awards, 9 Silver Slugger awards

Chipper Jones, ss, Braves (1993) – The first position player to be given the number one ranking, Jones has carved out a nice career for himself in Atlanta, winning a bunch of individual awards and picking up a World Series ring as a rookie in 1995.

36 years old, 15 years, 1985 games, 7219 at-bats, 1357 runs, 2236 hits, 441 doubles, 405 homeruns, 1356 RBI, 136 stolen bases, 1212 walks, .310/.406/.549, 145 OPS+, 3962 total bases, 6 All-Star appearances, 1 National League MVP award, 2 Silver Slugger awards

Andruw Jones, of, Braves (1996-97) – Noted for his excellent defense in centerfield, Jones was the first player to lead the Baseball America list for more than one year. Like Rodriguez, he broke into the majors as a teenager; unlike A-Rod, however, his career appears to be running out of gas well before he hits his mid-thirties.

31 years old, 13 years, 1834 games, 6612 at-bats, 1066 runs, 1716 hits, 338 doubles, 371 homeruns, 1131 RBI, 138 stolen bases, 744 walks, .260/.339/.490, 111 OPS+, 3237 total bases, 5 All-Star appearances, 10 Gold Glove awards, 1 Silver Slugger award

Joe Mauer c, Twins (2004-05) – Mauer could, maybe should, line up behind Teixeira, who tops him easily in every statistical category seen below. Right or wrong, though, I’m giving him some credit for being the best catcher in baseball.

25 years old, 5 years, 516 games, 1887 at-bats, 296 runs, 592 hits, 122 doubles, 42 homeruns, 270 RBI, 29 stolen bases, 268 walks, .314/.397/.457, 126 OPS+, 862 total bases, 2 All-Star appearances, 1 Silver Slugger award

Mark Teixeira, 3b, Rangers (2003) – It never fails to surprise me when a player as talented as Teixeira is forced to travel so much: three teams in the past two seasons alone. Fortunately for him, he’s a free agent after the season and should end up with a team that will hold onto him for the long haul.

28 years old, 6 years, 859 games, 3254 at-bats, 536 runs, 930 hits, 211 doubles, 191 homeruns, 640 RBI, 12 stolen bases, 418 walks, .286/.374/.535, 132 OPS+, 1740 total bases, 1 All-Star appearance, 2 Gold Gloves, 2 Silver Slugger awards

Cliff Floyd, 1b, Expos (1994) – I wasn’t sure about placing Floyd so far down on this list until I actually looked at his stats and found that they weren’t quite as impressive as previously thought. Still, a very solid career from the guy who has recently assumed a part-time leadership role with the young Tampa Bay Rays.

35 years old, 16 years, 1582 games, 5210 at-bats, 811 runs, 1449 hits, 332 doubles, 230 homeruns, 847 RBI, 148 stolen bases, 590 walks, .278/.359/.483, 119 OPS+, 2517 total bases, 1 All-Star appearance

J.D. Drew, of, Cardinals (1999) – When Drew was the game’s number one prospect in 1999, future teammate Rick Ankiel was number two. Like Floyd, he has never quite lived up to his early promise, but will still have a decent career to look back on when all is said and done.

32 years old, 11 years, 1199 games, 3966 at-bats, 760 runs, 1127 hits, 212 doubles, 192 homeruns, 633 RBI, 81 stolen bases, 678 walks, .284/.392/.503, 129 OPS+, 1995 total bases, 1 All-Star appearance

Josh Hamilton, of, Devil Rays (2001) – So, who is this Hamilton guy? What’s his story? I haven’t heard a thing about him. Seriously, here’s an interesting project: predict Hamilton’s career numbers if he hadn’t thrown away all those years on drugs and alcohol. It might be the biggest “what-if?” in sports.

27 years old, 2 years, 203 games, 751 at-bats, 127 runs, 223 hits, 42 doubles, 46 homeruns, 155 RBI, 10 stolen bases, 79 walks, .297/.366/.550, 136 OPS+, 413 total bases

Rick Ankiel, lhp, Cardinals (2000) – It’s probably cheating a little to put Ankiel on this list as a position player when he made the original list as a pitcher, but I’m doing it because his offensive production makes up a portion of his legacy as a player, too. I wouldn’t feel comfortable discussing the guy’s one-time status as a top prospect without looking at all available angles.

29 years old, 6 years, 199 games, 612 at-bats, 97 runs, 166 hits, 30 doubles, 35 homeruns, 108 RBI, 3 stolen bases, 53 walks, .271/.330/.505, 115 OPS+, 309 total bases

Ben Grieve, of, Athletics (1998 ) – Thanks to the resurgence of Josh Hamilton and Rick Ankiel’s ability to swing a bat, Grieve is the only top ranked position player who is no longer active.

32 years old, 9 years (retired), 976 games, 3215 at-bats, 471 runs, 864 hits, 192 doubles, 118 homeruns, 492 RBI, 24 stolen bases, 466 walks, .269/.367/.442, 113 OPS+, 1420 total bases, 1 All-Star appearance, 1 Rookie of the Year award

Jay Bruce, of, Reds (2008 ) – Bruce is down this far only because he has yet to accomplish a whole lot at the major league level (aside from a remarkable first week or so). Check back at this time next year and he should have moved past Grieve, at least.

21 years old, 1 year, 65 games, 252 at-bats, 38 runs, 69 hits, 12 doubles, 11 homeruns, 32 RBI, 2 stolen bases, 17 walks, .274/.322/.452, 99 OPS+, 114 total bases

Delmon Young, of, Devil Rays (2006) – I didn’t realize Young is only 22; it seems like he’s been around forever. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting last season, but still has yet to live up to the hype.

22 years old, 3 years, 299 games, 1177 at-bats, 136 runs, 343 hits, 67 doubles, 20 homeruns, 147 RBI, 24 stolen bases, 53 walks, .291/.325/.408, 95 OPS+, 480 total bases

Pitchers

Josh Beckett, rhp, Marlins (2002) – The year after he topped the list, Beckett was the World Series MVP, shutting out the Yankees in Yankee Stadium to clinch the Fall Classic for the Marlins. He might be the best postseason pitcher of his generation.

28 years old, 8 years, 190 games, 187 starts, 87-60 won-lost, 1153.3 innings, 3.78 ERA, 1093 strikeouts, 115 ERA+, 1 All-Star appearance, 1 World Series MVP award, 1 ALCS MVP award

Daisuke Matsuzaka, rhp, Red Sox (2007) – The only Japanese import to make the top five, Matsuzaka is following up an okay 2007 with a very good 2008, although he struggles greatly with his control at times.

27 years old, 2 years, 51 games, 51 starts, 27-14 won-lost, 311.3 innings, 3.93 ERA, 295 strikeouts, 118 ERA+

Steve Avery, lhp, Braves (1990) – I’m just barely old enough to remember when Avery was one of the most promising young lefthanders in the game, a kid who won the NLCS MVP in 1991 and was part of the best starting foursome in recent memory in 1993. He won 47 games from 1991-93, but only 46 over his final seven seasons.

38 years old, 11 years (retired), 297 games, 261starts, 96-83 won-lost, 1554.7 innings, 4.19 ERA, 980 strikeouts, 100 ERA+, 1 NLCS MVP award

Rick Ankiel, lhp, Cardinals (2000) – I was looking through my old Sports Illustrated magazines last night and found an article on Ankiel, written after his disastrous performance in the 2000 playoffs. Adam Kennedy had the best quote in the piece, saying that Ankiel was the most confident person he knew and if he had to choose a pitcher who would dominate the game for the next fifteen years, he would put all his money on Ankiel. In retrospect, this would not have been a good bet.

29 years old, 4 years (converted to outfield), 51 games, 41 starts, 13-10 won-lost, 242 innings, 3.90 ERA, 269 strikeouts, 118 ERA+

Todd Van Poppel, rhp, Athletics (1991) – Maybe the most over-hyped draft pick in baseball history. I always forget that Van Poppel was not the first overall pick in the draft, falling to Oakland in the middle of the first round.

36 years old, 11 years (retired), 359 games, 98 starts, 40-52 won-lost, 907 innings, 5.58 ERA, 711 strikeouts, 80 ERA+

Brien Taylor, lhp, Yankees (1992) – One of only three first overall draft choices not to make the majors (not counting David Price and Tim Beckham, the 2007 and 2008 top picks, respectively), Taylor had the talent to be Alex Rodriguez’s pitching counterpart on this list, a guaranteed Hall of Famer and all-time great. Then came a fight, a shoulder injury, and irrelevance. At least Taylor gets to be the answer to a trivia question.

No MLB stats (retired)

The Best and the Brightest: Prospects Who Are Friggin’ Awesome In The Majors, Part 2

Many of Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects continue to see steady playing time in the major leagues; unofficially, I count 40 who have gotten themselves into a game this season.  Some, like Geovany Soto, have performed admirably for long stretches at a time; others, like Homer Bailey, got a shot but proved that they weren’t quite ready for The Show.

In keeping with the tradition started in early May, I’ve run through the game logs of every Top 100 prospect who has played in the majors this season and highlighted the best outings (one caveat: players are only allowed one entry on the list).  The first seven are holdovers from the previous list, in chronologial order; the bottom three are newcomers, the best prospect games since May 9.

Kosuke Fukudome (Cubs): March 31 – 3-3, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
Johnny Cueto (Reds): April 3 – 7 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 10 SO
Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox): April 22 – 3-5, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 RS
Max Scherzer (Diamondbacks): April 29 – 4.1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 7 SO
Geovany Soto (Cubs): April 30 – 2-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 RS
Carlos Gomez (Twins): May 7 – 4-6, 2B, 3B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 RS
Joey Votto (Reds): May 7 – 3-4, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 3 RS

Evan Longoria (Rays): May 24 – 2-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 RS
Jay Bruce (Reds): May 31 – 3-5, HR, RBI, 3 RS, walk-off homerun
Ian Stewart (Rockies): June 13 – 2-3, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 RS

I’m still not sure what will happen with these as the season progresses.  If the interest is there, we might put it to a vote at the end of the year and determine the best Major League Performance By A Top 100 Prospect, or something of that nature (I like the idea of year-end awards, now that I mention it…).  Thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

Jay Bruce Is The Next WHO?

In baseball circles, the name “Kevin Maas” is legend, representative of a highly touted player who bursts onto the scene and fizzles out just quickly.  Joe Charbonneau pulled a Maas; so did Bob Hamelin, I’m inclined to say without looking at his numbers.

But this, people…this is just naked aggression toward the man who remains our hero despite having been in the major leagues and theoretically off our radar for a month. 

Jay, what do you think of the fact that somebody dared even suggest that you and Kevin Maas might have a connection:

Yeah, can’t say I blame you.  Nothing less than mild outrage is to be expected here.

Fortunately the blog post writer came to a very important conclusion: Jay Bruce does NOT equal Kevin Maas.  Thank God.

Jerks!

It’s official: Walt Jocketty and Dusty Baker are dead to me.

Hardcore fans of Bus Leagues will recall that up until a few weeks ago, I planned to make a pilgrimmage to the Holy Land of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, to see the Louisville Bats take on the Pawtucket Red Sox.  Louisville was, at the time, home to a pair of guys I wanted to see up close and person: outfielder Jay Bruce, the official man-crush of this blog, and Homer Bailey, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. 

As the story goes, Bruce was called up two weeks before said trip, Bailey about a week later.  Just like that, there was no reason to go to Pawtucket (aside from the chance to see Clay Buchholz or Daisuke Matsuzaka in action).

I can accept that they were called up to The Show.  That’s the reality of minor league baseball, and it’s a good one.  It’s hard to be upset when a young man’s dreams come true.  But when one of those young men is returned to the minors just two weeks later, soon after the Bats left town, that makes me mad (even if his 0-3 record and 8.76 ERA necessitated such a move).  You hear that, Walt Jocketty and Dusty Baker?  I’m mad, and it’s your fault.  Grrrrr!

And to make matters worse, you know what the corresponding move was?  Outfielder Norris Hopper was activated from the disabled list.  Good for Norris, he’s probably anxious to get back on the field and play ball.  But you know what this means, don’t you?  (Attention: you are now entering the land of wild conjecture and illogical opinions.  Do not, repeat, DO NOT, take any of this seriously.  Unless I turn out to be right, in which case you are free to regard me as a God).  This means that Reds management is paving the way to rid itself of our hero, the incomparable Mr. Bruce.

The timing has never been better: after a mind numbingly amazing start, Bruce is currently mired in a dreadful 1-for-18 slump, which proves that he doesn’t yet belong at the major league level.  (Damn rookies.)  Clearly, Hopper’s reactivation is a signal that The Deal will soon rejoin Bailey in Louisville, or worse, relegated to fourth outfielder status.  (Yes, I know Norris Hopper has only appeared in 15 games this season, none since mid-April.)  I’m onto you, Baker.  I’m onto you. 

Be strong, Jay.

Affirmed.

What In The World Is Jay Bruce Doing!?

Nooooooo, Jay, nooooooo!  Stop!  Not against THAT team!  AAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!

Bruce, Dunn homers lead Reds over Red Sox 3-1 (Yahoo! Sports)

The Price Is Right

We’ve tried hard to ignore the facts here at Bus Leagues, but it can’t be overlooked anymore: Jay Bruce, our first blog-crush, is gone for good, never to return.  And while we couldn’t be happier to observe his early success in The Show from afar, his career growth has left an obvious void in our lives. 

Who will we discuss in hushed tones over Gmail Chat?  Whose name will grow exponentially in the tag cloud as we pen seven posts a week about his most recent exploits?  Which top prospect will become our new blog-crush?

I’ve thought about it for a couple days now, and while I can’t speak for my man Extra P, I think I’ve found the new object of my blogging affection: Rays lefthander David Price.

Price missed the first several weeks of the season while recovering from a muscle strain in his left elbow, but has dominated since, striking out 19 and walking only two in 18 innings for Vero Beach (High A – Florida State League).  In his second start, he squared off against Pedro Martinez, in town for a rehab assignment before heading back to the Mets.  And after the game, Petey – a guy who never got enough credit for the mental side of his pitching – had the highest praise for the 23-year-old Price:

“That kid did a hell of a job of throwing first-pitch strikes and pounding the strike zone and jamming hitters…I was watching that. He did it like a big leaguer. He had such a command. Right there, I’m challenging you. I’m going to do what I gotta do without any fear. That’s the kind of talent you love to see.”

Oddly enough, one of the knocks on Price has been that he doesn’t command his pitches well in the strike zone.  Obviously, Martinez saw something different, which either means he doesn’t have a future as a scout or he looks from things from a perspective no one else can see.

Though Price should receive a promotion at some point – as a college-tested pitcher, he was probably too good for High A ball without the elbow injury – I never expected him to make an appearance in Tampa Bay in 2008…until this item at the top of an MiLB.com mailbag on Tuesday:

Now that [Rays prospect] David Price has finally pitched for the first time in almost a year, how long do you think it will take him to reach the Majors? Do you think the Rays will let him develop? Does he even need that much developing?
— Curtis S., Lake Placid, Fla.

Based on what I saw during Spring Training — including his stuff and composure — and how he’s pitched thus far, I think he has a good chance to be with the team in the second half of the season. He came to the Rays well-polished, so I think the Rays are receptive to the idea that he doesn’t need a lot of seasoning before putting on a Major League uniform.

I’m not a trained professional sportswriter, but my gut tells me that the Rays won’t rush Price along if they don’t feel it is necessary.  Barring injury, the current rotation is solid, featuring James Shields, Scott Kazmir, Edwin Jackson, Andy Sonnanstine, and Matt Garza (none of whom is older than 26).  Of course, they could always throw him in the bullpen, a la Jonathan Papelbon or Joba Chamberlain, especially if the Rays stick around in the race and make a run at the East divsion title.  Still seems a bit early to make predictions like that, though, considering he has three career professional games under his belt.

It is so totally NOT early, however, to begin following the big guy’s progress through the minor leagues.  I think 18 consecutive scoreless innings at the start of a career is reason enough.

Video: Jay Bruce’s First Major League Homerun

I once hit a walkoff homerun. It was in Little League. We were trailing, 8-7, in the last inning when I came up to bat with the bases loaded. I ripped a line drive just inside the first base line and managed to touch ’em all before they got the ball in for a game-winning, inside-the-park grand slam*.

*Truth be told, it was Little League, and I wasn’t the World’s Fastest Kid.  There were probably about six errors on the play that allowed me to score.  I like my version better.

So yeah, I know EXACTLY how Jay Bruce felt when he crushed this game-winner last Saturday for his first major league homer.