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It's Barajas, Braden (Looper) and Belliard -- in that order -- at the top of the mid-season Andujar rankings, sponsored by Batter's Box. In a non-binding vote by 16 members of The Roster, Jeff Suppan and former Jay Jose Cruz Jr. also cracked the top five.

Our first look at the 2004 Andujar rankings back on May 1 showed Marlon Anderson with a healthy lead on the field ... but in true Andujar "youneverknow" fashion, the erstwhile St. Louis infielder found his way onto just one of the 16 ballots cast at midseason.

In fact, just one player -- Rod Barajas -- made it onto all 16 ballots, but six players were on at least 10, while 23 players were named at least once each. So it's still a wide-open field and of course ... youneverknow.

Not familiar with the Andujars? Meet the '03 winner and catch up on how it works.

Mid-Season Voting
1. Rod Barajas: 16 votes, 144 points (8 firsts)
2. Braden Looper: 15, 107 (3)
3. Ronnie Belliard: 12, 101 (3)
4. Jeff Suppan: 8, 57 (1)
5. Jose Cruz Jr.: 11, 56 (1)
6. Jose Lima: 10, 55
7. Danys Baez: 11, 54
8. Todd Walker: 9, 54
9. Pokey Reese: 8, 38
10. Matt Stairs: 9, 36

Others Receiving Votes: Royce Clayton (34), Todd Hollandsworth (31), John Halama (29), Dave Burba (28), Shane Spencer (15), Todd Jones (12), Marlon Anderson (6), Miguel Batista (5), Ismael Valdez (4), Todd Zeile (3), Brad Fullmer (2), Mike Myers (2), Lou Merloni (1).

Barajas inherited the backstop role full-time for the surprising Texas Rangers when early rookie of the year smash Gerald Laird was injured, and has maintained an OPS of nearly .840 with a dozen homers -- one more than his previous career total. Looper has an ERA below 2.00 and 16 saves for the surprising New York Mets.

Belliard has maintained a batting average of better than .310 and an OPS of more than .830 as the everyday second baseman for the initially surprising Cleveland Indians. In fact, Belliard's totals have gone up across the board since he left Colorado and Coors Field.

Off the radar for good is Paul Abbott, who has been traded, and Mark Bellhorn, who was erroneously listed as eligible in the first place. Falling fast are Scott Spiezio, John Thomson, Cory Lidle and Henry Blanco, who all were in the May 1 "Top 10" -- but all of whom failed to receive so much as a single mention in the midseason balloting.

If you're looking for an omen about the eventual winner, last year just one Andujar candidate made it to the 2003 All-Star game -- A.L. starter and eventual Andujar recipient Esteban Loaiza. This year, just one Andujar candidate -- Ronnie Belliard -- is headed to the mid-season classic in Houston.

So is Belliard the odds-on favorite? Well, as great as Barajas has been, he'll likely be shunted back to a reserve role when Laird returns, while Looper will suffer in final post-season balloting from an obvious Box prejudice against "closers."

Looking Back: May 1 Voting
1. Marlon Anderson: 83 (2 firsts)
2. Paul Abbott: 58 (1)
3. Todd Walker: 56 (2)
4. Scott Spiezio: 52
5. John Thomson: 48 (2)
6. Braden Looper: 34
7. Ronnie Belliard: 28 (2)
8. Matt Stairs: 24
9. Cory Lidle: 22
10t. Henry Blanco: 17 (1)
10t. Brad Fullmer: 17
10t. Dave Burba: 17

Looking Back: Pre-Season Top 10
1. Jay Payton
2. John Thomson
3. Brett Tomko
4. Brad Fullmer
5. Todd Greene
6. Jeff Suppan
7. Kerry Ligtenberg
8. Danys Baez
9. Jason Johnson
10. Matt Stairs

There it is, Boxers. Fire away.
Killer B's Dominate Mid-Season Andujar Rankings | 5 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Spicol - Tuesday, July 06 2004 @ 06:54 PM EDT (#32230) #
So, the basic premise of the Andujar is a low-risk, high-reward free agent signing, right? Well, check out these contracts:

Jose Cruz - 2 years, $6.0M
Jeff Suppan - 2 years, $6.0M
Danys Baez - 2 years, $6.5M
Braden Looper - 2 years, $6.5M

How can any of these be considered low-risk? Any sort of one-year salary that ends in 'million' is pretty high risk, don't you think?

I voted, but to absolutely honest, did so off the top of my head and didn't research the actual salaries when I did. I protest my vote!

As far as the Blue Jays are concerned, Miguel Batista got some Andujar lovin' here but I have to think that Gregg Zaun deserves a little more attention, n'est pas? He's cooled as of late and shouldn't be starting ahead of Cash but he's been a hell of a third catcher.
Coach - Tuesday, July 06 2004 @ 07:40 PM EDT (#32231) #
I know what you mean, Spicol, but I had all those guys on my list. That was a very popular contract range last winter, and you have to draw the line somewhere. Somehow, three years and eight figures seems like considerably more risk, so after considering Batista, I didn't vote for him. Still, compared to Kelvim Escobar or Sidney Ponson, Miguel looks like a bargain, and technically, they are all eligible.
_Jonny German - Tuesday, July 06 2004 @ 09:12 PM EDT (#32232) #
Say, Spicol, where'd you get those numbers so neatly gathered together? Okay, I guess rather than whining I should be happy that at least one person is coming around to my way of seeing it. Yes, I am the one guy who did not vote for Braden Looper. I choose to draw the line somewhere around $2M, which I figure is getting towards league average salary. If you're paying a guy better than the the league average, you're expecting him to play better than the league average, right?

I believe Zaun is ineligible as he was not an off-season signing.
_Spicol - Tuesday, July 06 2004 @ 09:33 PM EDT (#32233) #
Jonny...your assist was the key play, leading to my easy bucket. Better? Your email enlightened me, shall we say.

Can we get the expert's call on the Zaun issue? Oh, Mick? Mick?
_Mick - Wednesday, July 07 2004 @ 11:50 AM EDT (#32234) #
That is correct, Spicol. Only players acquired in the off-season are eligible. In May, we had to make a call on Mark McLemore's eligibility because he signed with the A's after Opening Day in Japan but before Oakland started play ... we decided since it was still "Oakland's off-season," he was eligible, though that didn't exactly put a bullet next to his name on the chart.

I had Barajas first, as did most of us, but what's interesting to me is that after a few years of this, we'll be able to identify the "perennial" Andujar eligibles ... so far, John Halama, Matt Stairs and Shane Spencer look good for that label. I wouldn't kick any one of those guys off my team, but who's to say they'll be in Tampa, KC and NY next year, respectively?
Killer B's Dominate Mid-Season Andujar Rankings | 5 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.