By RealGM Staff Report
The Opsera is a statistic RealGM Executive Editor Chris Reina created in order to objectively rank teams by how well they hit (OPS) and pitch (ERA).
In order to determine the Opsera rating for each, we take their OPS, multiply that number by 10 to move the decimal point over one place to the right and then subtract their ERA from that number.
All statistics are through Sunday, April 13.
Rankings from the end of the 2013 regular season are in parenthesizes.
1. (17) Milwaukee Brewers – 5.71
It's no surprise the Brewers hold the top spot in our first rankings of the season. They've won nine straight, including 6-0 on the road, and have the lowest ERA (1.80) in baseball.
2. (7) Oakland Athletics – 4.89
Sonny Gray has a 0.95 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched (three starts).
3. (3) Atlanta Braves – 4.67
A long-term deal hasn't ruined Freddie Freeman's drive. He's hitting .442/.519/.814 with four home runs and 10 RBI through 12 games.
4. (4) Los Angeles Dodgers – 4.23
Zack Greinke is nice to have when Clayton Kershaw is hurting. The right-hander has a 2.76 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 16.1 innings (three starts).
5. (11) Washington Nationals – 4.22
All five of Washington's losses have come against Atlanta in the early going.
6. (27) Seattle Mariners – 3.88
Robinson Cano has the Mariners in contention -- for now. The second baseman is hitting .333/.417/.381 without a home run in 11 games.
7. (20) San Francisco Giants – 3.82
The Giants have a .751 OPS, good for eighth in the game. Brandon Belt's five home runs (.577 slugging) have paced the offense.
T8. (10) Tampa Bay Rays – 3.56
If they decide to trade David Price, Chris Archer may be ready to assume his place atop the rotation. The young righty has a 1.38 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings.
-- (16) Los Angeles Angels – 3.56
Pujols has three home runs after hitting just 17 all of last season, but he still has a troubling slash line .240/.309/.500.
10. (1) Detroit Tigers – 3.54
Rajai Davis has been an underrated addition to the Tigers. He has five steals for the slow-footed club and is hitting .345/.412/.448 in eight games.
11. (26) Philadelphia Phillies – 3.47
12. (8) Pittsburgh Pirates – 3.45
13. (23) New York Yankees – 3.44
14. (5) Cincinnati Reds – 3.43
15. (19) Toronto Blue Jays – 3.33
16. (29) Miami Marlins – 3.30
17. (2) Boston Red Sox – 3.19
18. (18) Colorado Rockies – 3.15
19. (T24) San Diego Padres – 3.13
20. (12) Kansas City Royals – 2.78
21. (6) St. Louis Cardinals – 2.77
22. (T24) Chicago White Sox – 2.68
23. (13) Cleveland Indians – 2.67
24. (9) Texas Rangers – 2.58
25. (21) Chicago Cubs – 2.50
26. (15) Baltimore Orioles – 2.38
27. (28) Minnesota Twins – 1.95
28. (30) Houston Astros – 1.80
29. (22) New York Mets – 1.13
30. (14) Arizona Diamondbacks – 1.12
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By James Jackson
Miguel Cabrera made history before the 2014 MLB season even started with his historic 10-year, $300 million contract with the Detroit Tigers.
With reigning NL Cy Young winner Clay Kershaw ($215 million over seven seasons) and five-time AL All-Star Robinson Cano ($240 million over 10 seasons) already receiving sizable raises of their own, Cabrera’s new deal moved the bar for contracts even further.
Entering this season, 21 players are poised to earn at least $20 million, and 12 are position players. Among the group, Ryan Howard (62 missed games), Mark Texeira (147), Joe Mauer (49), Albert Pujols (63), Matt Kemp (56), Jacoby Ellsbury (28), Jayson Werth (33), Carl Crawford (46) and David Wright (50) missed extensive time last season. Lucrative multi-year MLB extensions hardly make for happy endings -- especially when said deals are signed when the player is in, or past, his prime.
Cabrera is nearing 31 and had two seasons remaining before becoming a free-agent, raising questions about the timing of his new deal. But despite Cabrera professing a desire to remain with Detroit, playing the waiting game can be risky -- especially for the first Triple Crown winner since 1967.
Of course, it also feels as though this is familiar territory with Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, and even Cabrera’s recently-traded teammate, Prince Fielder all signing huge deals only to make those teams regret the decision.
When superstar sluggers parlay their home runs and four digit OPS marks into expensive commitments, disappointment has too often loomed.
Pujols has been a shell of himself with the Angels, with his OPS dropping to .859 in 2012 and just .767 in 2013.
Despite winning a World Series in 2009 during his 10-year, $275 deal, Rodriguez has also seen his production fall off radically while also becoming an injury and suspension liability for the Yankees.
Fielder was overshadowed by Cabrera’s transcendence after signing with Detroit for nine seasons and $214 million before the 2012 season. Fielder played in all 324 available games during his two-year tenure with the Tigers, but hit just 30 homers in 2012 and 25 in 2013.
In Cabrera’s case, there was no precedent for the Tigers to negotiate this extension. In 2012, he won his aforementioned Triple Crown, the first since Carl Yastrzemski, along with his first of two consecutive MVPs. He’s only the ninth player in major league history with three-consecutive batting titles, becoming the first AL player since Wade Boggs (1985-87) and first Tiger since Ty Cobb (1917-19) to accomplish the feat.
On the surface, Cabrera seems poised to become another slugger full of historic relevance and promise only to show his mortal self as he gets further into his thirties. But Pujols and Rodriguez, among others, showed their mortality before their deals.
Pujols is already a relative bust for the Angels, but the contract was also signed after his worst statistical season with the St. Louis Cardinals. He had his fifth-lowest HR total (37), worst batting average (.299) and worst OPS (.906).
Unlike Pujols, Rodriguez's monster deal came after his third MVP (54 HR, 156 RBI, .314 BA) and before he was linked to performance enhancing drugs. But despite those numbers, Rodriguez never fully justified his monster contract and included bonuses for rising the all-time home run list as the Yankees planned to pay for value that went beyond the field.
Justifying a $30 million salary will be laborious for Cabera, especially without Fielder offering lineup protection. With age for most players, bat speed slows, power diminishes, and skills ultimately erode. Many become a lesser version of themselves, leaving their All-Star production a distant memory.
The Tigers are banking on Cabrera’s historic precedence outweighing contractual precedence, where 10-year deals are considered a death sentence. Fielder’s deal proved burdensome because pull-happy sluggers don’t age well and the Tigers traded him before the secret was out.
On the other hand, when Cabrera is 36 and halfway through his contract, a steep decline isn’t guaranteed -- especially compared to several all-time greats.
At age 38, Ted Williams batted .388, with 38 homers and recorded a .526 on-base percentage, even batting .328 the next year.
The former home run king, Hank Aaron, hit .301, 40 home runs, 96 RBI, recorded a .401 OBP and made the All-Star team at age 40.
Moreover, Barry Bonds, at age 36, started a run of four-straight MVPs, averaged 52 home runs, 110 RBI, 189 walks, never hit lower than .328 and averaged a .559 OBP, winning two batting titles. Even noting his alleged PED usage, those are numbers no one has ever recorded, especially during their “twilight” years.
As for Cabrera, he, too, can perform well into his mid-late thirties. He’s finished top-five in MVP voting seven of the past nine seasons, ranking top eight in batting average in eight of those years. Assuming his seasonal averages of 181 hits and 33 home runs hold for seven years, he’ll join Aaron as the only players ever with 3,700 hits and 500 home runs.
Just as impressive, Cabrera can join Williams, Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx as the only players with a career .320 average and 500 home runs.
Regardless of recent failed ten-year agreements, the Tigers were right to invest so heftily in Cabrera. The odds suggest his twilight years will entail an undeserved, $30 million salary, but he may just be exceptionally good enough to defy expectation.
Detroit Tigers, IQ
By Andrew Perna
The Tigers have won the last three division titles, but their stranglehold on the crown isn't as strong as it when their reign began. The Indians and Royals believe their time is now, while the Twins and White Sox are looking to put disappointing 2013 seasons behind them.
They will ride Miguel Cabrera and their pitching staff once again, but the Tigers did undergo some changes after losing to the Red Sox in the ALCS. Brad Ausmus has replaced longtime manager Jim Leyland, and Ian Kinsler came over from the Rangers in exchange for Prince Fielder. Despite all their experience, they have a stud rookie as well (Nick Castellanos) as they charge toward another fall run.
Key Additions (2013 Stats):
Ian Kinsler: .277/.344/.413 with 13 HRs, 72 RBIs in 614 PAs
Joe Nathan: 1.39 ERA, 0.897 WHIP, 73 Ks in 64.2 IP
Rajai Davis: .260/.312/.375 with 6 HRs, 24 RBIs in 360 PAs
Joba Chamberlain: 4.93 ERA, 1.738 WHIP, 38 Ks in 42 IP
Cleveland didn't make any huge splashes, instead hoping to build on their success in 2013. Terry Francona has a nice mix of veterans and rookies on his roster with Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Carlos Santana and Justin Masterson balancing out the unproven talent that needs to produce for them to threaten the Tigers. The Indians are hoping John Axford will fix the late-inning problems Chris Perez suffered from last season.
Key Additions (2013 Stats):
David Murphy: .220/.282/.374 with 13 HRs, 45 RBIs in 476 PAs
John Axford: 4.02 ERA, 1.523 WHIP, 65 Ks in 65 IP
Shaun Marcum: 5.29 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 60 Ks in 78.1 IP
Kansas City Royals
The Royals won 86 games last season, their largest total since 1989 when they won 92 games. It's been nearly 30 years since they made the playoffs, but Ned Yost and his crew have lofty goals. Kansas City had the sixth-lowest ERA (3.45) in baseball last season, but an anemic offense (.694, 21st in OPS) held them back. They actually played well enough to end their postseason drought last year, but a very poor May (8-20) but them in too large a hole. The AL is deep, but playing meaningful games in September aren't out of the question.
Key Additions (2013 Stats):
Jason Vargas: 4.02 ERA, 1.387 WHIP, 109 Ks in 150 IP
Omar Infante: .318/.345/.450 with 10 HRs, 51 RBIs in 476 PAs
Ramon Hernandez: .208/.291/.438 with 3 HRs, 6 RBIs in 55 PAs
After ranking second-to-last in ERA (4.55) last season, the front office placed a premium on fortifying the pitching staff. They signed Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes for a total of $73 million to make up two-fifths of their rotation. They aren't sure-fire solutions, especially Hughes, and the offense wasn't exactly strong either. They have quite a few prospects on the cusp, but the word playoffs won't be whispered for a while.
Key Additions (2013 Stats):
Ricky Nolasco: 3.70 ERA, 1.209 WHIP, 165 Ks in 199.1 IP
Phil Hughes: 5.19 ERA, 1.455 WHIP, 121 Ks in 145.2 IP
Kurt Suzuki: .232/.290/.337 with 5 HRs, 32 RBIs in 316 PAs
Chicago White Sox
Only two teams (Houston, Miami) had fewer wins than the White Sox last season, just a year after they won 85 games and finished just three games back of the Tigers. Jake Peavy, Addison Reed and Adam Dunn were all on the top of their game that season. Peavy and Reed are gone and Dunn, 34, is coming off a .219/.320/.442 season. A youth movement will bring some growing pains, but this rebuild shouldn't take quite as long.
Key Additions (2013 Stats):
Jose Abreu: .322/.527/.735 with 13 HRs, 37 BB in 136
Adam Eaton: .252/.314/.360, 3 HRs, 22 RBIs in 277 PAs
Felipe Paulino: 1.67 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 39 Ks in 37.2 IP
How We Think They'll Stack Up:
1. Tigers: They aren't as unbeatable as they once were, but the division still belongs in Detroit.
2. Royals: They'll be in the Wild Card race over the season's final week.
3. Indians: The 92 games they won last season are this roster's ceiling.
4. White Sox: Robin Ventura has work to do, but the front office has faith.
5. Twins: Joe Mauer won't be around to benefit from a strong farm system.
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Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins
The Yankees, who have now spent close to $500 million on free agents, landed Masahiro Tanaka.
Stephen Drew was awful at the plate in the ALCS, but John Farrell stuck with the shortstop because of his experience on defense.
The Tigers may have to consider trading Max Scherzer before he becomes too expensive, but perhaps moving another star makes more sense.
You might expect guys like David Ortiz, Miguel Cabrera and Adrian Gonzalez to deliver in clutch moments, but look out for Omar Infante, Mark Ellis and Pete Kozma as well.
The Tigers finished the regular season atop our rankings, followed by the Red Sox, Braves, Dodgers and Cardinals.
As our rankings continue to settle for the 2013 season, the top is littered with World Series contenders.