Sunday, December 30, 2012

2013 Hall of Fame "Ballot", Part I

This year's Baseball Writers' Association of America Hall of Fame ballot is the most crowded in over 65 years, when 95 players received votes in 1945.

Before we get to this year's fun, here's a glimps at the 1945 ballot:

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Exciting Times for the Mets and Blue Jays

It sounds more and more likely that this Travis d'Arnaud for R.A. Dickey trade is going to happen.

d'Arnaud: power and a strong arm
Travis d'Arnaud is a top quality prospect, and the Mets fans should be pleased to land him, provided they don't have to give up much more than Dickey to get him.

Before tearing his posterior cruciate ligament this past June, Travis d'Arnaud batted .333 with a .380 on base percentage and beastly .595 slugging. There are some great Major League seasons associated with a .595 Slugging Percentage.

It's roughly what Ryan Braun slugged this past season.

Edgar Martinez did it in 1996, when he had 80 extra-base hits.

Ernie Banks slugged .595 in 1955, with 44 home runs.

Carlos Beltran: Unappreciated Met
Right now, a .595 slugging percentage in the Major Leagues would rank in the top 350 of all time.

The current season ranked 350th, as Mets fans can appreciate, belongs to Carlos Beltran in 2006, his best season in Queens, and he slugged .594. That year, Beltran hit 80 extra-base hits, including 41 home runs.

Those are some good memories, but let's not overrate what d'Arnaud is ready to do right now. He spent last season in a notoriously hitter's friendly Pacific Coast League.

Travis d'Arnaud needs to improve. His Minor League Equivalency stats say that he is not ready for prime time. Calculating his 2012 stats with the Las Vegas 51s, to project what he would have done with the same opportunity on the Mets, yields a dreadful .300 on base percentage and lots of strike outs.

Injuries are of some concern with Travis d'Arnaud. Looking at his player page, it seems he's lost big chunks of time in even years of his career: 2008, 2010 and 2012. His Double-A numbers in 2011 were impressive, and scouts agree that he can hit and has a strong arm. d'Arnaud will turn 24 in february. With six years of team control left, if he can stay somewhat healthy during his 20's, he should deliver elusive, over-market value at a premium position.

He's never faced Major League pitching. Like all players, he'll have to adapt to the adjustments Major League teams make with each new time they face him.

The Mets are better equipped to take on a player learning on the job, than a team like Toronto that is trying to compete in 2013.

Yesterday, my intuition was telling me the Mets would regret dealing with Anthoupoulous.

Roy Halladay was awesome for
Toronto and Philadelphia.
After taking over for J.P. Ricciardi on October 3, 2009 AA's first trade took place about 10 weeks later, when he traded Roy Halladay and cash to the Philadelphia Phillies for Travis d'Arnaud, Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor, whom he swapped for Brett Wallace.

Since then, AA has had a handful of other significant deals that for the most part look defensible, if not advantageous on the Blue Jays' part.

For example, one of the trades that may not have worked out was trading Alex Gonzalez, Tyler Pastornicky, and Tim Collins to the Braves for Yunel Escobar and Jo-Jo Reyes in July 2010.

After increasing his value with a solid 2010 on the Las Vegas 51s, Brett Wallace was traded for Anthony Gose. Until this afternoon (Saturday), Gose was rumored to be included in the trade for R.A. Dickey.

Similar to the MLE's for d'Arnaud, in 189 plate appearances for the Blue Jays last season, Anthony Gose had a .303 OBP with lots of strike outs (31.2% K rate).

Anthopolous had a handful of low-cost moves that panned out in small ways, picking up players like Rajai Davis and Carlos Villanueva for players to be named later.

What Brett Lawrie lacks in makeup,
he makes up for in production.
The Blue Jays spectacularly won the Shaun Marcum for Brett Lawrie trade with Milwaukee.

The Colby Rasmus trade looks alright.

The miracle move of the last few years was getting the Angels to take Vernon Wells for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. It was such a great move that we forgive him for swapping Mike Napoli, a few days later, for less than he was worth.

The only other really big trade on AA's resume was his yard sale raiding of the Miami Marlins.

Anthopolous couldn't control the fact that what may be his career-defining trade, Halladay, would be the first trade of his career. The jury is still out on the move. Kyle Drabek could suddenly figure it all out. Gose could improve, or be traded for someone more useful. Travis d'Arnoud is in the balance. If he becomes a star player for the Blue Jays, then it could be seen as a good trade for them. If he is traded for a Starting Pitcher that helps them to a World Series Championship, then the Halladay trade will be viewed as a success.

Syndergaard sweetens the pot.
The Dickey/d'Arnoud deal could be a great trade for both teams. The latest rumor from Mike Puma of the NY Post, is that one of the players going to the Mets is 20-year old pitching prospect, Noah Syndergaard. Last season, at 19, the 6'5" right-hander threw just over 100 innings striking out 122 batters, while walking just 31, good for an impressive 4-to-1 SO/BB ratio. Equally impressive was how he limited opponents to just 81 hits and 3 home runs.

It was fun while it lasted, R.A.
The Mets picked up R.A. Dickey for next-to-nothing, back when Omar Minaya was the General Manager. Sandy Alderson flipping 1 year of R.A. Dickey for 6 years of d'Arnaud and 6 years of a young pitching prospect, like Noah Syndergaard, would be a fabulous haul.

At the same time, the Blue Jays will be a force in the AL East with a rotation of R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow, and Ricky Romero. This move would presumably allow fringy left-handed starter J.A. Happ to work on his J.P. Howell impersonation in the bullpen, preparing to replace Darren Oliver as the primary lefty, whenever the 42-year old decides to hang them up.

R.A. Dickey is 38-years old, but he's a medical marvel - pitching without a UCL in his right arm. The knuckleball is not a highly-taxing pitch, and he is as good a bet as a 28-year old, maybe even better, to stay healthy over the next 2-3 years.

The question, still, is how much more will either team have to give up? Besides d'Arnoud and Dickey, who will all the other players be? Stay tuned to MLBtraderumors.com or their Twitter feed to not miss a thing.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ichiro's Next Stage

The day Ichiro Suzuki gets inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, will be a bright day for Baseball History. Ichiro has been a classy gentleman and ambassador for the game of baseball to millions of people around the globe. His meticulous and exuberant play put a spell on fans who were awed by his precision, athleticism, speed, and laser throwing arm. In Ichiro's heyday, his otherworldly combination of skills brought fans to the edge of their seats the moment he stepped on the field.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What's Up with Mike Scott?

Surely, there are others who woke up this Thanksgiving morning and started looking at pitching stats from 1982. I'm starting a pitching project from 1982-present, and thought I'd share some early morning musings.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Aramis and the Composition of Cano

Over the past few weeks, a bunch of stuff has been on my mind, and occasionally I'll try to document it somewhere, so that I won't forget it. Sometimes, it's a solitary tweet, like my shout out to Aramis Ramirez on Sunday morning.



Instead of testing the patience of our twitter followers, let's jot a few more ideas down here...

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Robinson Cano Dilemma

A debate among New York Yankees fans has been heating up over the past few days: the debate to trade Robinson Canó, or extend his contract, to a nine-figure deal, keeping him in the Bronx for the next several years.

Friday, November 2, 2012

2010 - 2012 All Defensive Teams

Last time around, we looked at the 2012 All Defensive Teams when ranking players by various defensive statistics, such as Fielding Percentage, Defensive Runs Save, Ultimate Zone Rating, and more.

Sadly and insatiably, much more.

This time, for brevity's sake, we're only using DRS and UZR.

Defensive stats should be reviewed with a larger sample size than just one year, hence the following:

2010-2012 All Defensive Teams
Min 1,500 innings

2010-2012 Ultimate Zone Rating
1b: Adrian Gonzalez 29.9
Sabathia should dump something cold
on Gardner for being mentioned here.
2b: Dustin Pedroia 32.7
3b: Adrian Beltre 33.7
SS: Brendan Ryan 33.8
LF: Brett Gardner 51.5
CF: Peter Bourjos 40
RF: Jason Heyward 35.7

Both UZR and DRS love them some Brett Gardner, the only player to sweep the four categories in this post.

2010-2012 UZR/150
1b: Daric Barton 12.7
2b: Dustin Pedroia 14
3b: Adrian Beltre 14.6
SS: Clint Barmes 13.6
LF: Brett Gardner 35.9
CF: Peter Bourjos 23.9
RF: Ben Zobrist 20.9

Excellent Safeco fan reactions!
Peter Bourjos has consistently been a terrific defensive player for the Angels. Over the past three seasons, Bourjos has saved 13, 12, and 9 runs above the average Centerfielder. If he can imprive his offensive production, even getting to 2011 levels of suerficial production with a .271 batting average, 12 home runs, and 22 stolen bases, he could win a few Gold Gloves. What's odd is taht in 2012, he swung at fewer pitches outside of the strike zone, made more contact, but still couldn't improve his strikeout percentage. Peter Bourjos will be 26 years old on Opening Day. So, this is his time to shine.

2010-2012 Defensive Runs Saved
C: Yadier Molina 32
1b: Mark Teixeira/Albert Pujols 26
2b: Mark Ellis 35
3b: Adrian Beltre 45
SS: Brendan Ryan 67
LF: Brett Gardner 50
CF: Michael Bourn 51
RF: Jason Heyward 50
P: Mark Buehrle/Jake Westbrook 31

A.P. Photo
The brilliance of Brendan Ryan really shines with his 67 Defensive Runs Saved over the past three seasons.

By comparison, the nearest Shortstop is Alexei Ramírez with 41.

Pitchers and Catchers finally make an appearance. No surprises with Molina, Buehrle, or Westbrook, but there's a big surprise at catcher when DRS is converted to a rate stat, below.

2010-2012 DRS/1,200 innings
C: Humberto Quintero 13.1
Recognition like this surely
makes it all worthwhile
1b: Daric Barton 13
2b: Ben Zobrist 15.7
3b: Evan Longoria 18
SS: Brendan Ryan 23.9
LF: Brett Gardner 27.9
CF: Peter Bourjos 18.4
RF: Josh Reddick 21.4
P: Jake Westbrook 66.4

Josh Reddick had a really good season. He saved 22 runs above average in right field this year. The A's really benefited from having him in RF, with Coco Crisp in CF, the two of them covering a lot of ground.

An outfield of Gardner, Bourjos and Reddick sounds good

How about that Ben Zobrist? UZR/150 has him as the best Right Fielder, and DRS/1,200 innings recognizes his work at second.

Despite this bobble, Ben Zobrist is an
exceptional defender at multiple positions
It's surely bittersweet for some Astros fans who love Humberto Quintero, to see him succeed in Kansas City. The jury is still out on the trade to KC, because Kevin Chapman or D'Andre Toney could turn out to be really good. Quintero was on the Astros in 2010 and 2011, so his recognition here is mostly for his work on the Astros. In such, he pulls off an upset over Yadier Molina, worthy of Rulon Gardner over Alexander Karelin comparisons.

Where were you when Gardner beat Karelin?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2012 All Defensive Teams

Major League Baseball announced the 2012 Gold Glove award winners last night. As a suggested prerequisite to the information below, please check out Joe Posnanski's brilliant juxtaposition of the Gold Glove and Fielding Bible award winners.

The flaws of defensive record keeping are well known and, so far, inevitable. In fact, the safest way to measure defensive metrics is with a sample size no smaller than three seasons.

Unfortunately, fans like to reward greatness one year at a time. It would be great if we gave out fielding awards for the bulk of the past three seasons each year, like the 2010-2012 winners this year, the 2011-2013 award after next, and so on.

Before we crunch numbers pertaining to the past three years THIS LINK has the custom 2010-2012 MLB All Defensive Teams, and below are MLB All-Defensive Teams for this season, based on a variety of 2012 fielding metrics.

Fewest Errors
An antiquated stat that is still one of the Big Three kept in all box scores, with tiebreakers as games played.
C: Brian McCann 2
Brian McCann throws accurately
1b: Mark Teixeira 1 (GG)
2b: Darwin Barney 2 (GG)
3b: Aramis Ramirez 7
SS: J.J. Hardy 6 (GG)
LF: Desmond Jennings 0
CF: Curtis Granderson 0
RF: Ichiro Suzuki 1
P: Zack Greinke 0

Fielding Percentage
Switching our focus from "fewest errors" to "highest fielding percentage", only the 3rd baseman changes.
C: Brian McCann .998
1b: Mark Teixeira .999 (GG)
2b: Darwin Barney .997 (GG)
3b: Chase Headley .977 (GG)
SS: J.J. Hardy .992 (GG)
J.J. Hardy lead the upstart Orioles
LF: Desmond Jennings 1.000
CF: Curtis Granderson 1.000
RF: Ichiro Suzuki .996
P: Zack Greinke 1.000

A pleasant and thoughtful man, named Mitchel Lichtman, invented Ultimate Zone Rating about 10 years ago. As The Hardball Times' glossary notes:
Essentially, UZR looks at the trajectory and speed of every batted ball and, based on overall major league averages, assigns a probability that a certain position will field it. If a player at that position fields it, he gets credit above the overall major league average. If he doesn't, he gets negative credit.

Alex Gordon has a great arm
Ultimate Zone Rating
1b: Adrian Gonzalez 17.7
2b: Darwin Barney 13.1 (GG)
3b: Mike Moustakas 16.8
SS: Brendan Ryan 14.7
LF: Alex Gordon 14.1 (GG)
CF: Michael Bourn 22.4
RF: Jason Heyward 22.9 (GG)

We finally see a big difference in names from Henry Chadwick's traditional "Errors" and "Fielding %" Darwin Barney is the only player to appear on all three lists above.

UZR is a household name across the sabr community, but it often takes a backseat to its rate stat cousin...

Adrian Gonzalez is a favorite to win
the 2013 NL Gold Glove at 1st base 
UZR/150
1b: Adrian Gonzalez 16.6
2b: Mark Ellis 16.1
3b: David Wright 16.8
SS: Brendan Ryan 17.1
LF: Alex Gordon 11.7 (GG)
CF: Michael Bourn 22.5
RF: Jason Heyward 22.1 (GG)

The UZR team remains the same, except that Mark Ellis and David Wright joined the party.

Defensive Runs Saved
DRS is a personal favorite.
Yadier Molina's defense > All
C: Yadier Molina 16 (GG)
1b: Mark Teixeira 17 (GG)
2b: Darwin Barney 28 (GG)
3b: Brett Lawrie 20
SS: Brendan Ryan 27
LF: Alex Gordon 24 (GG)
CF: Michael Bourn 24
RF: Josh Reddick 22 (GG)
P: Mark Buehrle (GG)

Greetings to Molina, Lawrie, Reddick, and Buehrle. Darwin Barney regains his spot at the keystone from Mark Ellis.

Let's see Lawrie's numbers in 2 years
Brett Lawrie may have benefited from a statistical anomaly, Baseball-Reference's Sean Foreman alludes to in this comment. The Blue Jays would often position Lawrie defensively in an exaggerated shift. At times, he would make routine plays on balls hit right at him, while stationed well outside of his traditional zone. This could artificially inflate his Defensive Runs Saved and B-R dWAR.

David Wright was the second highest rated third baseman by DRS.

We converted Defensive Runs Saved to a per 9 inning rate...

DRS/9
Only Pitcher differs from raw Defensive Runs Saved, as Jake Westbrook scored a bit higher than Mark Buerhle.
C: Yadier Molina .12 (GG)
Brendan Ryan's DRS/9 was
the best for every position
1b: Mark Teixeira .15 (GG)
2b: Darwin Barney .20 (GG)
3b: Brett Lawrie .17
SS: Brendan Ryan .21
LF: Alex Gordon .15 (GG)
CF: Michael Bourn .17
RF: Josh Reddick .17 (GG)
P: Jake Westbrook .57

Baseball-Reference dWAR
The defensive composite score that accounts for a players defensive contribution to their Wins Above Replacement score on Baseball-Reference is actually based on Baseball Info Solutions' Defensive Runs Saved, so the carbon copy below makes sense.
C: Yadier Molina 2.6 (GG)
Jason Heyward is still improving.
1b: Mark Teixeira 1.0 (GG)
2b: Darwin Barney 3.6 (GG)
3b: Brett Lawrie 2.4
SS: Brendan Ryan 3.6
LF: Alex Gordon 1.9 (GG)
CF: Michael Bourn 3.0
RF: Jason Heyward 1.5 (GG)
P: 20 tied with 0.1

Fangraphs dWAR (Fld)
C: Yadier Molina 10.3 (GG)
1b: Adrian Gonzalez 13.8
2b: Danny Espinosa 13
3b: Mike Moustakas 16.8
SS: J.J. Hardy 11.4 (GG)
LF: Martin Prado 17.8
CF: Michael Bourn 22.4
RF:Jason Heyward 21.5 (GG)

Espinosa and Prado make it on the squad for the first time. J.J. Hardy surprisingly reappears for the first time since Fielding %.

Some of the finest sabr crowd sourcing around is readily available at Tom Tango's blog.

Results from the 2012 edition of his annual fans' scouting report bring up a few interesting new names...

Tango's Fans Scouting Report 2012
The Eye Test Lineup
C: Yadier Molina 77 (GG)
1b: Albert Pujols/Brandon Belt 65
2b: Brandon Phillips 81
3b: Adrian Beltre 82 (GG)
SS: Brendan Ryan 87
LF: Alex Gordon (GG)/Starling Marte 75
CF: Franklin Gutierrez/Peter Bourjos 78
RF: Jason Heyward (GG)/Ichiro Suzuki 77

Some of these players get votes due to their reputations, but personally, I like when young players are recognized. I've seen Starling Marte play on TV a little bit, but not yet in person.

Defense really needs to be seen in person.

If Starling Marte's game is as exciting as it sounds, Pirates fans are in for a treat the next half decade. In this article, Marte, through his interpreter, tells Tom Singer: "The player I've always looked up to was Vladimir Guerrero. I followed him, and he's the type of player I wanted to grow up to be."


Our next and final group, John Dewan's Fielding Bible Awards, are compiled from the thoughtful votes of a hand-picked panel of writers, fans, and statistical gurus like the aforementioned Joe Posnanski, Tango, John Dewan, Bill James, Peter Gammons, Rob Neyer, Doug Glanville, and more.

Posnanski calls Buehrle
"a defense savant"
Fielding Bible Awards
C: Yadier Molina (GG)
1b: Mark Teixeira (GG)
2b: Darwin Barney (GG)
3b: Adrian Beltre (GG)
SS: Brendan Ryan
LF: Alex Gordon (GG)
CF: Mike Trout
RF: Jason Heyward (GG)
P: Mark Buehrle (GG)

It took this long to get to Mike Trout, partially due to an April on the farm.

Mike Trout will be collecting a lot of hardware in the future

All stats from Fangraphs or Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted. Rate stats only include "Qualified" fielders.

What is your All Defensive team? Tell us in a comment below!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pitching Under the Radar in 2012

Armed with a 97 mph fastball, Pedro Strop achieved the 2nd highest Groundball rate and 3rd highest GB/FB rate ratio among 263 pitchers who threw over 1,000 pitches in 2012. His fortunate-to-lucky 83.2% LOB% and .275 BABIP, brought together the unlikely marriage of a 5.02 BB/9 and 2.44 ERA.

In this sample, only the Dodgers' Jamey Wright had a higher GB%.

2012 Ground Ball Percentage
min 1,000 pitches thrown
Jamey Wright, Dodgers 67.3%
Pedro Strop, Orioles 64.8%
Ronald Belisario, Dodgers 64.5%
Robbie Ross, Rangers 62.4%
Jim Johnson, Orioles 62.3%

***

A bright spot for the 2012 Red Sox was Junichi Tazawa, who hardly walked anyone (2.9% BB%) and avoided Homeruns (0.2 HR/9 from a low 26.9% Flyball % and minuscule 3.1% HR/FB).

***

553 pitchers threw at least 10 innings in the Big Leagues this year.

Alberto Cabrera ranked 6th in that group, by missing approximately 2.87 bats per inning pitched.

According to our math, the winner in missed bats per IP is, no surprise, Aroldis Chapman at 3.062.

There are some interesting names at the tops and bottoms of this list, when increasing the minimum number of innings pitched. At a minimum of 100 ip, the lowest missed bats per 9 innings were Bartolo Colon (.67) and Henderson Alvarez (.79)

Missed bats per inning
min 180 innings thrown
Max Scherzer 2.18
Tim Lincecum 2.08
Yu Darvish 2.03
Cole Hamels 2.01
Edwin Jackson 1.95

For all his troubles this season, giving up runs, Tim Lincecum still missed bats at an elite level, as we can see when we change per inning to per pitches.

Missed bats / average number of pitches* / inning
min 2,500 pitches thrown
Francisco Liriano 2.16
Max Scherzer 1.99
Tim Lincecum 1.87
Matt Moore 1.91
Yu Darvish 1.96
Cole Hamels 2.09
Jeff Samardzija 1.97
Edwin Jackson 1.99
Justin Verlander 1.91
Edinson Volquez 1.875

*Per each pitcher's unique number of pitches per inning

Tim Lincecum's troubles this season included a career high 23 home runs allowed. Tim Lincecum's resurgence out of the bullpen this postseason has been inspiring. We hope the Good Lincecum returns in 2013, but his value trends over the past 5 years don't look too promising...

Year Age WAR Salary Awards
2008 24 7.6 $405,000 AS,CYA-1,MVP-23
2009 25 7.1 $650,000 AS,CYA-1,MVP-18
2010 26 3.0 $9,000,000 AS,CYA-10
2011 27 3.9 $14,000,000 AS,CYA-6
2012 28 -2.1 $18,000,000
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2012.

***

The cost of an aging arm rises while its effectiveness decreases.

The outspoken Vinnie Pestano ranked 5th, among the 553 pitchers who threw at least 10 innings, in Win Probability Added.

Heath Bell had the 548th highest WPA.

Heath Bell will made $6 million this season, with another $9 million in each of the next two seasons. Vinnie Pestano made $491,200 in 2012, and is arbitration eligible in 2014. Depending on if he signs a long-term deal or goes through arbitration, he should make about $4 million over the next 2 years.

Heath Bell had some really great seasons in San Diego when he was at Pestano's pay scale. This isn't to knock Heath Bell, just marveling at them having 543 pitchers between them in WPA, with disproportionate expenses of $24 million or $5 million, across 2012-2014. Along with Tim Lincecum's trends, the Heath Bell and Vinne Pestano comparisons perfectly exemplify the value young, cheap talent.

***

Here's a quick salute to Yu Darvish, as he exceeded lofty, worldwide expectations.

In his first season away from Japan, in the American League, Yu Darvish made the All-Star team and ranked 2nd in K/9, 3rd in H/9 and HR/9, 5th in Strikeouts, and did not commit an error.

Darvish is just shy of real contention for the AL Cy Young award. The finalists for that hardware are David Price, Felix Hernandez or Justin Verlander, with Chris Sale as the dark-horse candidate.

***

Something found in Excel while writing this that became tweets:

and

***

Who are Donnie Veal and Tom Layne?

Long time, first time, Donnie Veal
The former is a bit easier for me to answer because he's a former Cub farmhand, whom they lost in the Rule 5 draft a few years ago to the Pirates.

I'm, however, no Donnie Veal expert. I knew he was a reliever, but I also thought he was a white guy. His Google Image search certainly points out that I am no Donnie Veal expert. Tom Layne, I've never even heard of.

In limited action, these two relievers flourished:

2012 Best RAR/9 (min 10 ip)
Craig Kimbrel, 62.2 ip, 4.70 RAR/9
Aroldis Chapman, 71.2 ip, 3.86 RAR/9
Donnie Veal, 13 ip, 3.67 RAR/9
Tom Layne, 16.2 ip, 3.61 RAR/9
Jake McGee, 55.1 ip, 3.17 RAR/9
Sean Doolittle, 47.1 ip, 2.85 RAR/9
Al Alburquerque, 13.1 ip, 2.82 RAR/9
Fernando Rodney, 74.2 ip, 2.80 RAR/9
Greg Holland, 67 ip, 2.78 RAR/9
Jim Henderson, 30.2 ip, 2.74 RAR/9

Forget Donnie Veal. Who's Jim Henderson? I must have missed at least 36 Brewers games this year.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Justin Verlander's Velocity Chart

Courtesy of Brooks Baseball, via the essential Getting Blanked, we present Justin Verlander's velocity chart from last night:

While this may not be out of the ordinary for the bionic Justin Verlander, please keep in mind this is after throwing over 200 innings for seven straight seasons, including more than 270 innings last season and 250 this year.



Imagine Verlander's career numbers if the Padres had drafted him, and Petco was his home park the past eight years.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Hunter Pence and the RBI

Entering the 2012 campaign, Hunter Pence had been around a 3 to 5 Wins Above Replacement guy, throughout his five year career.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

So What's the Scenario?

"Funny how falling feels like flying, even for a little while."
- Bad Blake

Bud Selig should be ashamed of himself.

Losing the One Game Playoff is cruel to emotionally invested baseball fans.

If what happened to the Braves had happened to the Yankees, Billy Crystal would be in Bud Selig's office shouting that this isn't fun, and it isn't funny.

As better writers have expressed, baseball is a game of quirks and oddities, where even the most superior teams do not exceed 65% winning percentages.

For camparison's sake, here are last season's Top winning percentages in...

Basketball
2012 Bulls/Spurs 75.8%
2011 Bulls 75.6%
2010 Cavs 74.4%
2009 Cavs 80.5%
2008 Celtics 80.5%

The 1995-96 Bulls won 87.8% of their games.

Football
2011 Packers 93.8%
2010 Patriots 87.5%
2009 Colts 87.5%
2008 Titans 81.3%
2007 Patriots 100%

Of course, Professional Football brought sports fans a perfect season 40 years ago, by the 1972 Dolphins.

Baseball
2012 Nationals 60.5%
2011 Phillies 63%
2010 Phillies 59.9%
2009 Yankees 63.6%
2008 Angels 61.7%

The 2001 Mariners had the highest wining percentage in the history of Major League Baseball, winning 71.6% of their games.

I'd love to sit with some fans and try to come up with philosophies why Baseball is this way. Is it rare that it's a team non-contact sport? In football it's easy to see if a team is noticeably bigger and stronger, they'll very likely win. Some very ugly baseball teams can go far with solid pitching and on base skills.

Long boring story short, baseball has a long season. I don't want to write "loooooong" or using all caps, but it's a long season.

The World Series was always just that, "a series" because a one-game championship would not provide enough opportunities to ensure fairness in the competition.

This stinks because this current scenario that punishes wild card teams with the anomaly of a one game "playoff", suits the purposes of purists who want to see division winners rewarded.

The biggest fear is that a great Cubs team will get hosed one way or another. They'll have a once-in-a-lifetime 70% winning percentage club that gets knocked out by a Wild Card team. Or, they'll get in as a Wild Card for a few years and just never get over that hump, as Bills and Rangers fans can empathize.

In the olden days, only the regular season winner of each league would go to the World Series. That's it. The 1954 Yankees won 103 games, and that's it because the Indians won 111.

Getting back at the absurdity of what a one-game playoff signifies, even in 1962, when bitter rivals, the Giants and Dodgers, finished with identical 101-61 records, they was a 3-game series to decide the National League representative in the World Series.

Side note: the deciding Game #165 had 4 strikeouts and 7 errors

Until baseball flexes their greed once more, by expanding the Wild Card round to 3 games, the trade deadline decisions for potential wild card teams will be noticeably affected by the absurd quirkiness of the current system.

It makes sense to extend the Wild Card round to 3 or 5 games right away because:

A. It is fairer, or more fair, if you prefer
B. It makes baseball more $$$, through TV, tickets, etc
C. It still puts the Wild Card at a disadvantage, by making them work harder to face a rested #1 seed

At one point yesterday, in what amounts to some very light lifting of numbers, no math at all, we compared the team statistics of the eight remaining postseason teams in the following categories:

Run Differential
Pythagorean Win-Loss %

Defense
Defensive Runs Save

Robinson Cano has had a great year
Offense
On Base Percentage
Adjusted OPS+
wRC+
wOBA

Pitching
Starters FIP
Bullpen FIP
Starters SIERA
Bullpen SIERA

Ranking all eight teams in each category, and adding up all the rankings showed the following results:

New York Yankees 28
St. Louis Cardinals 31
Washington Nationals 40
Detroit Tigers 45
San Francisco Giants 46
Cincinnati Reds 47
Baltimore Orioles 62
Oakland A's 62


Of course, there are more holes in this "formula" than Manual Noriaga's face 25 years ago. That Nationals also cannot be considered as strong as their Regular Season averages because of a fellow named Strasburg, wasting away again with a case of precious arm syndrome.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Postseason Brackets

Sitting in my office, minding my own business, and messing around with 2012 Park Factors, my colleague asks me for help filling out his MLB playoff brackets for a pool he's in.

Not many people do baseball brackets, and with the new Wild Card round, I don't even know them by heart.

Quickly talking through it, here were our picks:

NL WC: Braves over Cardinals
Betting on the better bullpen here.

AL WC: Rangers over Orioles Tough pick, really could go either way, but I think the Rangers are the bet team.

NL DS: Reds over Giants
Here's the perfect example why, as Peter Gammons tweeted this morning "Predictions are silly." If you ask me in an hour, the Giants might be my pick to win the World Series.

NL DS: Braves over Nationals
Another coin toss, but who do the Nationals think they are, going into the postseason with their best pitcher healthy and on the shelf? (Also going with the better bullpen.)

AL DS: Tigers over A's
It took a while for the baseball machine of Motown to get going this year, but the talent is there for a long postseason run.

AL DS: Yankees over Rangers
This is a pure "gambling" pick. I believe the Rangers are a better team, but with their roughly 50% chance of getting knocked out tonight, combined with the Yankees chances of defeating Texas or Baltimore, it's a safer pick.

NLCS: Reds over Braves

ALCS: Tigers over Yankees

2012 World Series
Tigers over Reds

Imagine the glamour of a Detroit-Cincinnati World Series.

Miguel Cabrera on night he won Triple Crown
- photo by Fink

Monday, September 10, 2012

Wins Above Replacement / 600 Plate Appearances

Look in the mirror. You'll see a person who would click on an article titled: Wins Above Replacement / 600 Plate Appearances.

Anyone with an opinion on what it is "to blog" will say that readership numbers vary drastically from post to post, based on the quality of the title. Yet, here we are.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Who Should Win the MVP?

Buster Olney got it started early this morning...
Though few people are happy to see Summer turn into Fall, at least we're finally at a good part of the year to have one of Baseball's most fun discussions.

As regular readers know, we particularly enjoy talking about prospects, pitching, hitting with patience and power, defense, and the Hall of Fame. The MVP or Cy Young discussion typically is open to casual fans. Sitting on any stoop, bus stop, or bar stool in America, you should be able to commiserate with a pal, or a stranger, over who should win the MVP or Cy Young Award.

Our opinions are below. Please leave your comments in the, um, comment sections.

American League Cy Young
Everybody Loves Raymond Felix
1. Felix Hernandez
2. David Price
3. Chris Sale
4. Justin Verlander
5. Jake Peavy

National League Cy Young
1. Stephen Strasburg
2. Clayton Kershaw
3. Matt Cain
4. Madison Bumgarner
5. R.A. Dickey

American League MVP
1. Mike Trout
2. Miguel Cabrera
3. Paul Konerko
4. Robinson Cano
5. Felix Hernandez
6. Austin Jackson
7. Adrian Beltre
8. David Price
9. Joe Mauer
Buster Posey is leading the Giants
10. Josh Hamilton

National League MVP
1. Andrew McCutchen
2. David Wright
3. Buster Posey
4. Ryan Braun
5. Matt Holliday
6. Matt Cain
7. Clayton Kershaw
8. Stephen Strasburg
9. Jason Heyward
10. Craig Kimbrel

Tell us what you think below, or let's discuss over a beer.