Sunday, August 18, 2013

Suspensions Stall Career Years

The MLB suspended 14 players for their involvement with the now-infamous Biogenesis clinic. Alex Rodriguez got hit with a 211-game ban, far and away the harshest punishment handed down, but he's allowed to play as he appeals his ridculously (and unfairly) long suspension. Ryan Braun was slapped with a 65 game ban and didn't fight it. Neither did the other 12, who were given standard 50 game suspensions as first time offenders under baseball's drug policy (A-Rod and Braun were also technically first-time offenders even though they had failed drug tests before. Therefore, they should've been suspended 50 games like everyone else).

Of those dozen, three were All-Stars this year on their way to big seasons. For fun, I projected out some of their numbers to see what they would've looked like at the end of the year:

Everth Cabrera (no relation to Miguel Cabrera)
The 2012 NL stolen base leader was in the midst of a breakout campaign. Not only was Cabrera leading the league in steals again, but he was also hitting .283 and posting a 113 OPS+. Furthermore, the first-time All-Star had been worth three wins for the Padres despite spending three weeks on the Disabled List with a hamstring injury. Seeing as how he didn't miss any games outside of his DL stint, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assumed he wouldn't have taken anymore days off.

145 games, 82 runs, 165 hits, 56 stolen bases--all career highs

Nelson Cruz
With Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, and Michael Young gone, Cruz stepped up and provided big-time power numbers for the Texas Rangers. Adrian Beltre is the team's best hitter and undisputed MVP, but it's Cruz who leads the Rangers in home runs and runs batted in. Health permitting, the slugging rightfielder was on pace to play 156 games and crush his previous career highs in big flies, RBI, and total bases. His first 40 homer/100 RBI season was well within reach, and it couldn't have come at a better time for the free-agent-to-be. Needless to say, Cruz's suspension deals a big blow to Texas, currently clinging to a 1.5 game lead over the A's for first place in the AL West.

159 hits, 39 homers, 110 RBI, 302 total bases--all career highs

Jhonny Peralta
Coming off a disappointing season in which he batted just .239/.305/.384, Peralta (playing for a contract) righted the ship with a strong bounce back performance (.305/.361/.461 and his second All-Star selection). In fact, he was the American League's top shortstop. He'd already accumulated 3.5 bWAR of value for the Tigers and was poised to continue his success in the second half, batting .316/.361/.544 post-All-Star Break. Normally, losing a key player like that for the rest of the season would spell trouble for a team trying to win its division, but Detroit mitigated his loss by acquiring shortstop-of-the-future Jose Iglesias from Boston in the Jake Peavy trade. Iglesias can't come close to matching his predecessor's impact on offense, but he's a much better defender than Peralta, who's an average fielder at best. Bottom line: the Tigers will be fine.

155 games, 180 hits (career high), 43 doubles (career high), 16 homers, 80 RBI, 273 total bases

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