Quick Note on Kevin Kouzmanoff

After the way he finished last season, I think a lot of fans were expecting big things from Kouzmanoff.  Through 312 plate appearances this season, I think he’s left most of us disappointed.  He has hit .263/.311/.419 which doesn’t quite match his season line of .275/.329/.457 from last year.  It seemed like he got off to a better start this year in April though, so I decided to see where this year’s line compares to last year’s through the same number of plate appearances.

He’s actually doing better, which is a little surprising and even a little encouraging.  Through 312 PA in 2007, he was hitting only .230/.288/.401.  23 points of OBP and 18 points of SLG isn’t half bad.  Should he finish the year with those increases holding, he’d have an OBP/SLG of .352/.475 at the end.  I don’t necessarily expect that, but honestly I don’t know what to expect, so that doesn’t mean much.

Debating the NL All-Star Team

The first thing I want to address is what merits an All-Star selection. Some will say it is whoever is having the best year. I’m somewhat partial to that argument despite its flaws. Others suggest that we should look at who has had the best career. I think that’s worth considering, too.

The way I intend to put together my preferred team is by first looking at who has had the best year thus far then looking at each player individually to see if their past accomplishments or future projections in the case of younger players match up with their current performance.

As for how we’ll measure performance, I’ll be using Runs Above Replacement as derived from wOBA and Baseball Reference’s multi-year park factors. My roster will be composed of starters at the 8 positions, back ups at each of those positions and the four best players not making it into one of those 16 spots.

Without further ado, my initial list of starters:

Pos Name, Team, RAR

C Brian McCann, ATL, 29.8

1B Lance Berkman, HOU, 41.8

2B Dan Uggla, FLO, 34.5

3B Chipper Jones, ATL, 48.1

SS Hanley Ramirez, FLO, 28.6

OF Nate McLouth, PIT, 32.2

OF Jason Bay, PIT, 28.8

OF Brian Giles, SDN, 26.2

It’s hard to argue with most of these guys making an All-Star team. All but two of them have appeared in at least one. Hanley Ramirez, one of the two without an appearance, was Rookie of the Year in 2006. So, that leaves Nate McLouth. McLouth is 26 years old and in the middle of what will likely be his first full season as a starter. I think there’s certainly an argument for leaving him at the least out of the starting lineup. The next guy in line for his spot is Aaron Rowand of San Francisco (25.1 RAR). Rowand is a former All-Star in his own right and is difficult to argue against including.

The initial list of back-ups then is:

C Russell Martin, LAN, 22.2

1B Albert Pujols, SLN, 35.5

2B Chase Utley, PHI, 34.4

3B Aramis Ramirez, CHN, 26.9

SS Jose Reyes, NYN, 21.2

OF Aaron Rowand, SFN, 25.1

OF Ryan Ludwick, SLN, 24.1

OF Pat Burrell, PHI, 23.6

All except Ludwick and Burrell are former All-Stars. Ludwick in five previous seasons has played in just over 220 games and is either a late bloomer or in the middle of a fluky 50-some game stretch. There’s an argument to be made not to include him. Burrell on the other hand is a veteran player who has had a very good career and just hasn’t received All-Star berth despite being deserving previously. I don’t think you can make a very good argument for keeping him home this year. Next in line for Ludwick’s spot is former All-Star Adam Dunn of the Reds (20.0 RAR).

The four floating best player available spots go to:

3B David Wright, NYN, 26.9

1B Adrian Gonzalez, SDN, 22.5

SS Rafael Furcal, LAN, 20.2

OF Adam Dunn, CIN, 20.0

Only Gonzalez has yet to be included on an All-Star team and I can’t think of a single argument to keep him out of this one. Now, if we go ahead and drop McLouth and Ludwick, that moves Rowand to a starter’s spot and Dunn to a back up role from best player available while leaving an empty spot at back up outfielder and fourth best player available.

Statistically this year the next in line for back up outfielder is Xavier Nady, but he suffers from the same problems as McLouth and Ludwick, so if we’re to include him, why not include them instead? Going further down the list we find Matt Holliday of Colorado (18.5 RAR). And looking to fill the spot vacated by Dunn we get Christian Guzman of Washington (19.3 RAR). Both are former All Stars, so they fit. As a bonus both play for teams until now not represented on our roster.

The lone remaining concern is that there is no representative of either Arizona or Milwaukee, but that can be taken care of on the pitching side of the equation, I suppose.

UPDATE: If you add last year’s numbers to this year’s, you get the following result:

C Russell Martin

1B Albert Pujols

2B Chase Utley

3B Chipper Jones

SS Hanley Ramirez

OF Matt Holliday

OF Aaron Rowand

OF Ryan Braun

C Brian McCann

1B Lance Berkman

2B Dan Uggla

3B David Wright

SS Jimmy Rollins

OF Adam Dunn

OF Carlos Beltran

OF Pat Burrell

3B Aramis Ramirez

1B Prince Fielder

1B Derrek Lee

1B Mark Teixeira

I am way too tired to comment on that, but I figured I’d at least post it.  What do you say?  Are those results more to your liking?