Joe Posnanski’s 32-Best in 2011

Joe Posnanski, the Ted Williams of baseball scribes, offered his list of baseball’s 32-best players in 2011. Why 32?

I have little doubt that the following list is also a mess … but at least I know what I want: I am putting together my prediction for the 32 best players in baseball in 2011. That’s all. I’m not considering seasons beyond. I’m not thinking about who is best to build my team around in 2014. Everything is built around 2011.

Cliff Lee came in at #16, Chase Utley at #12, and Roy Halladay at #2. Three players in the top-32? Not too shabby. I was surprised to see Poz rank Utley between Troy Tulowitzki (#11) and Tim Lincecum (#13) since the list is focused only on the short-term, and Utley’s short-term future is very much unknown. I’m also surprised Cole Hamels didn’t make the list, but Matt Cain did.

I have a few other minor quibbles but generally speaking I think Poz did a fantastic job ranking the top-32. Tango offers a good way to look at these types of lists:

Are his top 5 in my top 10? Are his top 10 in my top 30? Are his top 20 in my top 50? Are his top 30 in my top 80? Are his top 40 in my top 100?
Because that is really how the talent is spread out.

The Phillies’ NL East foes each had one player make the list: Brian McCann (#24) for the Atlanta Braves; David Wright (#21) for the New York Mets; Ryan Zimmerman (#18) for the Washington Nationals; and Hanley Ramirez (#7) for the Florida Marlins.

. . .

Elsewhere, Justin Bopp looked at the infield components for Ultimate Zone Rating from 2006-10, the popular defensive metric created by Mitchel Lichtman, found at FanGraphs. Range runs accounted for 65 percent of all defensive runs saved, while error runs came in at 26 percent and nine percent for double play runs.

Luckily for us, he created an example graphic for an individual player and he just so happened to be a Phillie. Click to view the full-scale version at Beyond the Box Score.

Phillies Opening Day 2011

It’s Christmas morning, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve all rolled into one: it’s Opening Day at Citizens Bank Park. If you’re not stoked, you are a soulless, heartless being. Roy Halladay will attempt to start the Phillies off on the right foot and defend his 2010 National League Cy Young award against the Houston Astros. Brett Myers will toe the rubber for the Astros, looking to exact revenge against his former team.

Despite a continued battle with injuries, the Phillies are much more optimistic than the Astros going into 2011. They are looking to earn a division title for the fifth year in a row with what may become the greatest starting rotation in baseball history. The Astros are coming off of their second consecutive sub-.500 season and don’t have too much to look forward to this year. Their second-highest paid player actually plays for the Phillies: Roy Oswalt.

Lots of tables to follow to help preview the series, including both a look into the past and a look into the future. Use the comments below as an open thread for today’s game and this series in general. If you’re going to the game today, bring a space heater!

2010 Overall W-L RS RA Pythag Finish
Houston Astros 76-86 611 729 68-94 5th, NLC
Philadelphia Phillies 97-65 772 640 95-67 1st, NLE

 

2010 Offense AVG OBP SLG ISO wOBA
Houston Astros .247 .303 .362 .115 .296
Philadelphia Phillies .260 .332 .413 .153 .328

 

2010 Pitching SP ERA SP K/9 SP BB/9 RP ERA RP K/9 RP BB/9
Houston Astros 3.90 7.9 3.5 4.49 6.9 3.3
Philadelphia Phillies 3.55 7.0 2.1 4.02 8.1 3.8

 

2011 PECOTA Projections
Player AVG OBP SLG
Michael Bourn .250 .317 .332
Angel Sanchez .253 .301 .325
Hunter Pence .272 .324 .453
Carlos Lee .268 .318 .448
Chris Johnson .266 .300 .422
Brett Wallace .249 .311 .403
Bill Hall .223 .290 .391
Humberto Quintero .235 .271 .334

 

2011 PECOTA Projections
Player AVG OBP SLG
Shane Victorino .273 .336 .423
Placido Polanco .282 .325 .375
Jimmy Rollins .257 .316 .417
Ryan Howard .262 .351 .528
Raul Ibanez .260 .330 .439
Ben Francisco .259 .324 .423
Carlos Ruiz .259 .349 .391
Wilson Valdez .258 .309 .333

 

2011 PECOTA Projections
Player IP ERA K/9 BB/9 GB%
Brett Myers 159.1 3.99 7.4 2.9 48%
Wandy Rodriguez 181.2 3.87 7.7 3.0 46%
J.A. Happ 144.2 4.35 7.2 4.0 42%

 

2011 PECOTA Projections
Player IP ERA K/9 BB/9 GB%
Roy Halladay 239.2 3.05 6.9 1.4 51%
Cliff Lee 211.1 3.17 6.8 1.6 44%
Roy Oswalt 209.1 3.44 6.7 2.2 48%
  • Friday, April 1: Brett Myers @ Roy Halladay, 1:05 PM ET
    • Myers career vs. PHI: 7 IP, 2.57 ERA, 9 K, 1 BB, 1 HR
    • Halladay career vs. HOU: 16 IP, 1.69 ERA, 14 K, 0 BB, 2 HR
  • Saturday, April 2: Wandy Rodriguez @ Cliff Lee, 7:05 PM ET
    • Rodriguez career vs. PHI: 20.2 IP, 3.05 ERA, 20 K, 4 BB, 3 HR
    • Lee career vs. HOU: 8.2 IP, 9.35 ERA, 9 K, 1 BB, 2 HR
  • Sunday, April 3: J.A. Happ @ Roy Oswalt, 1:35 PM ET
    • Happ career vs. PHI: 6.1 IP, 2.84 ERA, 4 K, 2 BB, 1 HR
    • Oswalt career vs. HOU: N/A

If you’re interested in information from behind enemy lines, check out Austin’s Astros 290 Blog, a fellow member of ESPN’s Sweet Spot blog network.