My Take on ARod and Steroids
Instead, how about a quick look at the effects of yesterday’s suspensions on the 2013 baseball season? Seven players who were on major league rosters as of Sunday were suspended for 50 games each. After the jump, we’ll look at those players, their year-to-date WAR (per baseball-reference), and their teams’ positions in the standings as of this morning. In ascending order of potential playoff race impact:
Jordany Valdespin, Mets, -0.6 WAR, 11.5 games behind 2nd Wild Card
Jesus Montero, Mariners, -0.4 WAR, 10.5 games out
The Mets and Mariners get a little bit better, for what that’s worth.
Francisco Cervelli, Yankees, 0.8 WAR, 5 games out
Antonio Bastardo, Phillies, 1.2 WAR, 10.5 games out
Everth Cabrera, Padres, 2.8 WAR, 9 games out
These teams each lost something, but their absences won’t affect a pennant race. The Yankees are on the outskirts of the AL Wild Card race, trailing the Rangers, Indians, Orioles, and Royals for the last spot, but it’s hard to imagine the loss of their backup catcher playing any role in a potential comeback. Cabrera was enjoying a breakout year, leading the Padres in WAR and making his first All-Star Game.
Jhonny Peralta, Tigers, 3.5 WAR, 4 games ahead in AL Central
Nelson Cruz, Rangers, 2.1 WAR, 2 games behind in AL West, in position for 2nd Wild Card
Setting aside the likelihood that replacement shortstop Jose Iglesias plays above replacement level and mitigates Detroit’s most glaring weakness (infield defense), losing Peralta will, in theory, cost the Tigers a win or two over their last 53 games. It’s possible that the Indians, or even the Royals, make a run for the division, but it seems far more likely that Detroit sails to the division title on the backs of its stellar rotation, rendering this suspension less relevant than that of Cruz.
If there’s one story worth talking about in connection with all of yesterday’s nonsense, it’s the one about Cruz and the Rangers, who are clawing for position in the wide-open AL playoff race. Nine teams are within ten games of the league’s best record. Seven are within a game and a half of a playoff spot right now. Texas is trying to fend off at least the Indians and Orioles, while chasing Oakland at the same time.
Cruz had been the team’s second-best hitter, wielding a wRC+ of 123 through his first 108 games. The Rangers have three more better-than-replacement-level outfielders in David Murphy, Leonys Martin, and Craig Gentry, though Martin and Gentry are both defense-first outfielders better suited for center than right. Rookie Engel Beltre seems like the most likely candidate to gain playing time in Cruz’s absence. Beltre has hit a miserable .273/.294/.303 in his first 14 games, and his minor league walk and home run rates don’t suggest much room to grow in the latter two numbers. He is a base-stealing threat and batted .302 in AAA this year, but his presence will weaken an already uninspiring lineup. Utilityman Jeff Baker should see more playing time as well, but shouldn’t be trusted in right field in key situations.
The Rangers may lose a game as a result of Cruz’s suspension. That game may be critical to their playoff hopes. And of course, facing a slightly weaker Rangers offense might affect some of the many teams that will play Texas over the remainder of the season, so a small ripple may be felt. But all in all, the 2013 baseball season looks a lot like it did this weekend.
Now back to ARod…
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