Yesterday, ESPN unveiled the 2013 edition of the ESPN 500. It's so fresh and new that it has a new name. This year they have christened it the BBTN 500, for Baseball Tonight. You know what they say about a rose by any other name. Today, players 301-400 have been revealed.
If there's anything I delight in pointing out, it's when the national media is completely wrong about something when the Orioles turn out to be good. I didn't get to experience that feeling before last year very much and I may not get to enjoy it this year. Who knows? Last year, the following players were left unranked: Chris Davis, Wei-Yin Chen, Pedro Strop, Darren O'Day, Luis Ayala, and Troy Patton. That was an Oxford comma just now, and I'm sorry if that offends anyone.
Remember, there are 750 players across 30 teams' 25-man rosters at any given moment, so does being ranked here really say much about a player? Probably not. In fact, if you're below 375, you are in the bottom half of players in MLB. It's all relative, of course, because you'd rather have the 376th-best player in baseball than the 700th-best, if you had to choose.
Orioles who ranked 301-400 on the list last year are Zach Britton (318) and Jim Johnson (311). Future Oriole Jim Thome - which, really, how could any of us have guessed that on March 21 of last year? - was ranked 353 for 2012.
The 2013 edition of the list features three Orioles ranked 301-400:
Last year: Not ranked
Sandwiched between: Kyle Farnsworth (RHP - TB, 393rd), Kyle Kendrick (RHP - PHI, 395th)
Long-time readers of Camden Chat know that Stacey and I once came up with the plot of a movie about Nolan Reimold. We like Nolan and we want him to be good, but there's a reason why a player has less than 1,000 plate appearances at the age of 29. Some of that, for Nolan, is that he was a bit of a late-bloomer as a prospect, some of it was due to injuries, and some due to inconsistency even once he debuted. He will miss time and he may not be good when he plays.
I think that when the season draws to a close, Nolan will either vastly exceed this ranking or have been hurt/ineffective so much as to not be worth ranking at all. There isn't much in between - which is why Nate McLouth (seen yesterday at 487) was retained.
Last year: Not ranked
Sandwiched between: Ryan Doumit (C/DH - MIN, 373rd), Marco Estrada (RHP - MIL, 375th)
There was one of those boring early spring training games last year where like seven guys were scheduled to pitch an inning. I made some comment about how if any of these guys throw for the Orioles this year, I'll be shocked and it's probably a bad sign. One of those guys was Miguel Gonzalez.
The secret about baseball writers is that nobody knows anything. Some are more honest with you about this fact than others. I do not know anything.
Gonzalez had a remarkable story. From the Mexican League in March to MLB in June, ultimately with the starting rotation in the playoffs. The odds are against him keeping a 3.25 ERA if he gets to pitch a full season, but if he can start 30 games and have a 3.80-4.00 ERA for the O's, that'll be a pretty good sign, and probably mean he's outperformed his ranking here. He could also turn back into a pumpkin. As Avon Barksdale once said, "Be a little slow, a little late..."
Last year: Not ranked
Sandwiched between: Wilson Ramos (C - WAS, 332nd), Zach Cozart (SS - CIN, 334th)
Strop led a charmed life last year. He walked men like it was going out of style. He walked more than one batter for every two innings he pitched. Cap at a slight tilt, he did not care. Between strikeouts and ground balls he made up for the walks and managed a 2.44 ERA and was one of the best relievers in baseball. He was shaky against the Yankees in September, but he came back and threw high-leverage innings in the playoffs and got the job done.
That he's still ranked only 333rd probably reflects that the panel of experts doesn't trust his peripherals. His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) was 3.59, suggesting he may be due for regression. The optimist could say that with Manny Machado at third base all year and with a real second baseman, Strop's ground ball tendencies will play even better than they did last year.
The pessimist could say that Strop is the reincarnation of Armando Benitez, and that he will continually provide traumatic flashbacks to Mike Bordick in the MASN booth, who has real pain in his voice every time he recalls the 1997 playoffs.
FORMER ORIOLES THUS FAR
Previously: Bruce Chen (493), Luke Scott (475), Jerry Hairston Jr. (453), Matt Lindstrom (449)
Today: Jeremy Guthrie (379), Joe Saunders (368), Mark Reynolds (318)
ORIOLES THUS FAR
Previously: Nate McLouth (487), Brian Roberts (472)
Today: Reimold (394), Gonzalez (374), Strop (333)
Michael Young (326) was one of the worst players in baseball last year. He doesn't look like he can play in the field any more, and he batted .277/.312/.370. He was traded from a playoff team to a flawed, injury-riddled team with a GM who seems to be in love with overrated veterans. He will make $16 million in the NL, where he can't even DH. He is ranked above every Orioles player who has appeared on the rankings so far and every player who is not ranked at all. He is 36 years old.
This ranking says more about the quality of ESPN's panel of 34 experts than it says about the quality of the players ranked behind him. I am not impressed.
Friday, the rankings from 201-300 will be revealed. The best players of the Orioles are still to come. Who will get snubbed entirely? Will the ones yet to appear be given the right amount of respect? We'll have to find out together.