Wednesday, August 31, 2011

2011 American League MVP Race

We had so much fun last week, checking in with the contenders of the 2011 National League MVP, that we couldn't resist checking the pulse of the American League MVP race. Lately, the AL MVP race has garnered more attention and discourse. Across the twitterverse and other Interweb chat rooms, Jose Bautista and Justin Verlander have faced off in numerous philosophical debates regarding the intent of the MVP award being open to Pitchers and Position Players. To choose sides on that debate, I'd say that pitchers are absolutely eligible for MVP awards, but to win one they have to be so outstanding that there is no discussion. If there are two players, a pitcher and a position player, who are almost equal in value, I'll side with the position player.

There's one month left in the season, which leaves plenty of room for one of the following players to distinguish themselves and run away with the award.

Just like last week, let's take a look at MVP's for each MLB franchise:

Strange Findings in WAR

While calculating the average Wins Above Replacement scores as research for our upcoming AL MVP race post, we stumbled across a peculiar comparison between Boston's ace, Josh Beckett, and former Boston pitcher, Justin Masterson.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Best Hitters Against Pitch Type

An occasional glance at a few numbers on Fangraphs can quickly freshen up your bar stool baseball talk tremendously. Case in point, let's look at the best hitters against certain pitch types.

20 under 20%

There's about a month left to this year's regular season, meaning it's crunch time for competitive owners of fantasy teams. The last time we dusted off the 20 under 20% gimmick was during the first week of the season. We were lucky enough to earmark a few undervalued players, included a pretty solid pitching rotation of Bud Norris, Ivan Nova, Alexi Ogando, Derek Holland, and Aaron Harang.

As we'll see in a few minutes, there are some intriguing long-shots out there on most waiver wires. Let's get right to it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

2011 National League MVP Race

So far this season, I haven't read an article discussing NL MVP candidates, but I've heard chatter for Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Troy Tulowitzki, Reyes, McCutchen, defending winner Votto, and... I guess that's about it. Maybe there was a Michael Morse mention here or there also.

As a different perspective of this usually trivial question, let's look at MVP candidates by team before checking any league stat boards.

The Cubs Opportunity

In the aftermath of Jim Hendry's dismissal, it's clear the Cubs are looking for a big name that is respected, from a winning background, and able to instill what he has learned into Cubs culture. Quite a few candidates qualify for the first two requirements on that list, while the third is the most vital and difficult to ascertain. The names of rumored candidates begin as a who's who among GM's of the past decade: Gillick, Cashman, Epstein, Friedman, and so on.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Prepping the Stove

Cubs fans have basically been stuck in Hot Stove forever, having not gone to the World Series in the past sixty-five years. As current fans have likely noticed, the team hasn't contended since being swept out of the first round of the playoffs in '07 and '08.

This year's pennant races may be spectacular in the end, but there are really only two playoff positions up for grabs. Taking a quick jaunt over to Coolstandings, we see that everything has basically been decided except for the AL Central and NL West champions.

2011 Playoff Probability

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rare and Coincidental

Speaking of rare triple plays*, makes me think of my old playing days. Let's go back 19 years, to 1992, in Highland Park, IL. I'm playing the unfamiliar position of catcher, mostly by default, but also because of the fact that I enjoyed calling the game. If you're a control freak who thinks pitching would be fun, try catching.

The Best of the Scrapheap

The month of August is a good time to keep tabs on Ben Nicholson Smith's continuously updated Players Who Cleared Waivers post.

Reading it on the Subway tonight after work, a handful of pitchers stood out:

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mentality of Zambrano

This story feels so familiar. We've been through this before with Carlos Zambrano. Heck, the cubs organization has went through something similar with Sammy Sosa and Milton Bradley. Of course, Carlos Zambrano will not retire. He's made a lot of money in his career, but certainly he will not walk away from another $22 million coming his way. This story feels like it's developed for the great blog It Is About the Money, Stupid.

Monday, August 8, 2011

2011 MLB Attendance Trends

The last time we took a look at Baseball-Reference's nifty "2010 vs. 2011 Attendance" page, the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays had the most improved attendance, while crowds for the LA Dodgers and Seattle Mariners dwindled.

Let's take a quick peek at how the teams are doing tonight, the 23rd anniversary of the Cubs' first night game, 8/8/88.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Our Return to Dontrelle's Bandwagon

Dontrelle Willis is four games into his comeback. Carrying a 3.52 ERA and 0-1 record into his start in Houston on Wednesday night, D-Train fans have reason for optimism.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Player of the Fortnight

The last time we checked player rankings for the past two weeks, on July 10th, our Players of the Fortnight were Jose Bautista, CC Sabathia, Aramis Ramirez, and Madison Bumgarner. Let's take another look now; on the Fangraphs...