Well, I didn't quite get the reader response I was hoping for, but here are my opinions on Thursday's quiz:
1. Who's more likely to "win" the Edinson Volquez-Josh Hamilton trade?
c. Too close to call
Given the choice between two young budding stars, the hitter is usually the safer bet, and I think that's definitely the case here. Volquez has probably been more valuable this year, but he's walking almost half a batter per inning. For every Randy Johnson who corrects that problem and goes on to dominate the league, there are five Oliver Perezes that never put it together consistently.
I also don't buy that Volquez has suddenly become a strong groundball pitcher; this seems more likely to regress than not. Furthermore, he's has been aided by lucky BABIP, LOB%, and HR/FB. Strip that luck away, and he has a 3.63 xFIP. That's still very good, but I'll take the young center fielder who can OPS over .900 and is one of MLB's most marketable players.
One point in Cincinnati's favor: they get Volquez for six years. Texas only has Hamilton for five.
2. What's the best non-Boston team in the AL from here on out?
c. White Sox
Aside from the Yankees, I can see an argument only for the Rays. The Angels, who would be a .500 team in a luck-neutral league, are out of the question. The White Sox have outplayed the Yankees this year, but that's very unlikely to continue. Their team ERA is .68 runs lower than New York's, but the gap in xFIP is less than one-third that. They're outscoring the Yankees offensively, but do you know anyone who would bet you that they repeat that feat in the second half?
Most importantly, though, the Yankees came into the year looking like a 95-win team, and the Sox a .500 team. To make that gap up requires more than the Sox have done so far.
Tampa is sure looking good, but their bullpen and defense are each due for a correction. I've pointed out before that this isn't the same Tampa team as last year's, but it's still worth remembering that they're only a year removed from being historically bad in both those departments.
3. Which of these teams has the best starting rotation?
a. White Sox
c. Red Sox
I'm glad no R-D readers picked the White Sox or A's, even though only two people responded. Top-to-bottom, the Rays staff is simply the strongest, especially if Andy Sonnanstine ever learns to get luckier.
4. Who's the best player in baseball?
a. Alex Rodriguez
b. Albert Pujols
c. Chase Utley
d. Chipper Jones
e. Hanley Ramirez
f. Lance Berkman
I'll accept an argument for Utley--who got 100% of the vote--but in my mind Pujols is still the best hitter in baseball. Combined with his excellent defense, that puts him on top, with Utley second. Hanley's defense is simply too bad to consider him here despite his skills with the bat.
5. What's the worst team in MLB?
Again, I can see why someone would pick the Mariners, but I think the Nats are in a league of their own right now. They looked like a 70-win team with Ryan Zimmerman and Nick Johnson healthy--relatively speaking for Johnson--and now they've lost both for an extended period, plus their best starting pitcher, Shawn Hill. Apparently not learning anything from signing Dmitri Young, they now want to extend Cristian Guzman for another two years.
If you're a Nats fan, it's about time to consider a new team if you want to see any playoff baseball before 2012.