2013 MLB Free Agents: Determining the Best Fits for Winter's Top 5 Free Agents
The 2012 Major League Baseball winter meetings are already underway in Indian Wells, California, and the landscape of free-agent chatter has been rumbling like a California earthquake.
It appears that every major free agent on the market is being courted by multiple suitors in a unified front of baseball operations across the league jockeying to land their guy.
For players, this is an extremely good thing.
There will likely be inflated contracts and extended years beyond the likes of what most free agents not named Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder or Alex Rodriguez could have fathomed in recent memory.
While money will ultimately be the driving force behind where a player signs, here is a look at where he would actually have the most impact among his suitors if money were no object.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers and the Milwaukee Brewers.
NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are actually the worst fit for Zack Greinke statistically.
While it is a fairly small sample size, Greinke has played 17 games against the National League West and owns a 4-4 record with a 4.08 ERA and a 1.430 WHIP.
He has managed 105 strikeouts versus 27 walks in 91.1 innings of work.
Going to the Dodgers would be a huge gamble both for the team and for Greinke considering his limited exposure.
AL West: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and The Texas Rangers
Next in line are the teams of the AL West. While the performance is better than the NL West, there is still room for improvement.
In 49 career games against the AL West, Greinke is 15-11 with a 2.98 ERA and a 1.197 WHIP. If we were to factor in the Houston Astros, his win total would increase, but surprisingly, so would his ERA and WHIP.
Greinke has struck out 232 batters while walking 64 in his 275.1 innings of work. While he could make an immediate impact on either club, there is still one place that makes for an even better fit...
NL Central: Milwaukee Brewers
Having already dominated the NL Central, it should come as no surprise that Greinke would be a fantastic fit back in Milwaukee.
Against the NL Central, he is 22-7 in 35 career games with a 2.58 ERA and a 0.989 WHIP.
He has 213 strikeouts and 47 walks in his 204 innings of work.
While the conversations between the Brewers and Greinke have been minimal, the results of bringing him back to Milwaukee would be tremendous.
Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves,Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers.
AL West: Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners
While Hamilton has performed extremely well during his time in the AL West and for the Rangers, going back to Texas would actually be the worst move he could make among his suitors.
Staying in the division and heading up the western coast to Seattle would be next.
Against the AL West, Hamilton has played in 228 games with 883 career at-bats. From that, he has managed 265 hits with 46 home runs and 163 RBI.
His batting line against the AL West is .308/.367/.510/.877. By going to the Mariners, Seattle could steal that type of production right out from under Texas within the division.
AL East: Baltimore Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles were an amazing story in 2012, and they'd like to continue with that success in 2013. The addition of Josh Hamilton would certainly expedite that trend.
In his career, Hamilton has played the AL East 179 times, managing 685 at-bats resulting in 201 hits, 37 home runs and 146 RBI.
His batting line against the AL East is .288/.355/.523/.878. While he may not get as many hits in the AL East as he does out west, he does tend to slug better there.
NL East: Atlanta Braves
Initially I thought Atlanta would be the best fit for Hamilton. However, he has only played 37 career games against the NL East, resulting in 201 at-bats, 48 hits, 10 home runs and 31 RBI.
His batting line is still very impressive, though: .316/.373/.541/.915.
In Atlanta alone, he posts a line of .371/.476/.771/1.248 in 10 career games.
NL Central: Milwaukee Brewers
Once again, if money were limitless, the Milwaukee Brewers would be the ideal landing spot for another big-name free agent in Hamilton.
In 64 career games against the NL Central, he has 262 at-bats with 87 hits, 17 home runs and 49 RBI while posting a .323/.380/.607/.987 batting line.
He can absolutely feast on NL Central pitching and could add some serious protection behind Ryan Braun in the middle of that Brewers lineup.
Known Suitors: Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies
Unlike the previous two free agents, all known suitors of Michael Bourn hail from the National League East. That said, the best way to establish his worth is to compare his figures against each team individually.
Bourn has played 34 career games against the Braves, accumulating 116 career at-bats with 33 hits, 16 runs scored, four RBI and nine stolen bases.
He owns a .284/.303/.405/.708 career batting line in Atlanta. In short, he's been exactly what the team has needed out of him.
While the public perception is that the Nationals are the favorites to land Bourn, this is actually his (statistically) worst landing spot.
In 62 career games against the Nationals, Bourn has had 189 at-bats with 46 hits, 33 runs scored, 18 RBI and 17 stolen bases.
He has posted a .243/.321/.354/.675 career batting line in the Nations capital.
While the Phillies appear to be leaning more towards signing B.J. Upton, they would be quite successful with Bourn in their lineup once again.
In 44 career games against the Phillies, he has had 194 at-bats with 60 hits, 31 runs scored, 15 RBI and 22 stolen bases.
On top of that, his hitting has been much better, with a .309/.371/.397/768 career batting line.
Broken down a bit further, this is what Bourn's numbers look like while playing in each respective ballpark:
|Citizens Bank Park||.307||.383||.429||.812|
Tampa Bay Rays, Philadelphia Phillies
B.J. Upton has spent his entire career in Tampa Bay and has only played three games at Citizens Bank Park with less-than-favorable stats there.
Therefore, the best way to compare his value to each team would be to see how he stacks up against the AL East versus the NL East.
Against the Rays' AL East opponents, Upton has played in 430 career games with 1,595 at-bats, 253 runs, 408 hits, 62 home runs and 94 stolen bases.
In addition, he has a .256/.333/.440/.773 batting line.
Upton has only played 58 career games against the NL East, but in that time, he has racked up 220 at-bats with 35 runs, 55 hits, three home runs and 23 stolen bases.
In that same time, he's posted a .267/.337/.364/.701 batting line.
If OPS is the deciding factor, Upton should stay in Tampa Bay. The reality is, money will be the factor, and while the Rays made a qualifying offer to Upton, he will likely move on to Philly.
Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers
AL East: Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays
The AL East has been far from kind to Anibal Sanchez over the years. In 11 career games, he owns a 4-4 record with a 7.52 ERA and a 1.673 WHIP.
In that same time, he has managed 42 strikeouts in 61.2 innings of work.
AL Central: Detroit Tigers
A return to the Detroit Tigers would be a seemingly perfect fit. Sanchez has performed admirably well during his time in the Motor City.
In eight games against the AL Central, he is 3-3 with a 2.46 ERA and a 1.167 WHIP.
He has posted 56.1 innings of work while striking out 42 batters.
The best fit across the board for Sanchez has to be the Los Angeles Dodgers.
First of all, he's familiar with the National League. He's played the NL West 23 times and posted a 2.86 ERA and a 1.106 WHIP.
While yes, he has a slightly higher ERA in the NL West, he has a lower WHIP with a 9-5 record on the heels of 152.1 innings of work and 135 strikeouts.
Sanchez thrived in the NL; it would only make sense for him to head out west.