Sunday, April 22, 2012

MLB Facts and Opinions

Statistical observations of this young season should all be accompanied with a small sample size warning, and this exercise is no different. Today, we're checking the pulse of Major League Baseball, in power rankings form. For brevity's sake, we will include one fact and one opinion for each club.

30.) Houston Astros
Smile, Wandy!
Fact: Wandy Rodriguez is helping his trade stock, with a sub-2.00 ERA.
Opinion: After a surprising 4-4 start, the Astros have stumbled to a 5-10 record.

29.) Oakland A's
Fact: Team batting line: .206/.277/.326
Opinion: The A's will lead the league in vuvuzela attendance.

28.) Pittsburgh Pirates
Fact: Their team OPS+ is 52
Opinion: There are pieces here. The outfield looks good, Neil Walker can play, and once Gerrit Cole gets called up, they'll have an overpowering ace.

27.) Minnesota Twins
Fact: Josh Willingham is tied with Kirby Puckett for the longest hitting streak by a Twins player to start a season, with 15 games.
Opinion: The Twins need pitching, but aside from Glen Perkins, in the bullpen, they don't have any. It's sad that Francisco Liriano has been so dreadful (11.91 ERA after 3 starts).

26.) Seattle Mariners
Fact: The only American League team without receiving an intentional walk is the Mariners.
Opinion: If I could give one active player a fountain of youth, it would be Ichiro.

25.) New York Mets
Fact: Johan Santana has the worst BB/9 in the Mets rotation
Opinion: With a team above .500, Sandy Alderson continues to prove that he knows more about baseball than us.

24.) Chicago Cubs
Fact: Steve Clevenger is hitting .588
Opinion: Feeling better after trading Marlon Byrd

23.) Baltimore Orioles
Fact: 9 of the 10 regulars in Baltimore's lineup has at least 1 homerun this year. The lone exception is power hitting 3rd baseman Mark Reynolds.
Opinion: Their lineup is solid, top to bottom, but pitching wins, and they don't have enough to stay in first place much longer.

22.) San Diego Padres
Fact: Joe Thatcher has inherited 10 baserunners, only 1 has scored.
Opinion: I actually think the Padres have a chance in the wild west, yet they are just ahead of the utterly hopeless Cubs and Orioles. It's good to see there are over 20 good teams this year.

21.) Chicago White Sox
Fact: When scoring 4 or more runs, the White Sox are 8-1.
Opinion: Don't be surprised to see the White Sox raise the white flag relatively early this season.

20.) Cleveland Indians
Fact: The Indians are just 1-4 at home and 7-1 on the road.
Opinion: Johnny Damon? Please.

19.) Colorado Rockies
Jamie Moyer = best story of  2012 
Fact: Jamie Moyer, at 49 years of age, leads the rotation with a 2.55 ERA.
Opinion: The Rockies are known for incredible 2nd half runs. They, like every team, still has a chance in the wild NL West.

18.) San Francisco Giants
Fact: Buster Posey has returned from a gruesome injury to post a 170 OPS+
Opinion: Again, it's the wild west, the Giants have a chance

17.) Kansas City Royals
Fact: The Royals are 0-8 at home.
Opinion: "The process" will pay dividends. Stay thirsty, Royals fans. Stay thirsty. You will be rewarded.

16.) Boston Red Sox
Fact: With the worst pitching in baseball, the Red Sox have allowed 6.79 runs per game. No other team has allowed more than 5.43.
Opinion: Stranger things have happened, and the Red Sox could win the AL East. We just wouldn't count on it, as we currently have three division rivals ranked ahead of them.

15.) Toronto Blue Jays
Fact: Blue Jays pitchers have the highest GB% in baseball (52.3%). No other team is above 50%.
Opinion: In Peter King style of it could happen, maybe, how would FOX feel with the Blue Jays and Rays in the same postseason?

14.) Milwaukee Brewers
Fact: Starting Rotation ERA's: Shaun Marcum 3.79, Yovani Gallardo 4.58, Zack Greinke 5.09, Randy Wolf 8.80, Chris Narverson 7.00
Opinion: Their lineup needs a little more left-handedness. The heart of their lineup is currently Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, and Corey Hart. Can Mat Gamel get into the mix?

13.) Miami Marlins
Fact: While the names look good on paper, the Marlins offense has been below league avereage. One bright spot for superficial fans is Emilio Bonifacio leading the Majors with 9 stolen bases.
Opinion: They have some likable players, but with a detestable owner and empty seats in a brand new ballpark, the likability sometimes fades.

12.) Philadelphia Phillies
Fact: Phillies have scored 2 runs or fewer in 9 of 15 games.
Opinion: Starting Pitching will keep them in the hunt. The return of Chase Utley and overpaid platoon man Ryan Howard will determine their finish and postseason run.

11.) St. Louis Cardinals
Fact: Lance Berkman has a triple, a stolen base, and a .500 OBP
Opinion: If Chris Carpenter comes back healthy, a doubtful if, the Cardinals should be the favorites in the National League.

10.) Los Angeles Dodgers
Fact: For all the talk of the Dodgers barely being a .500 team with the Cy Young winner and a legitimate MVP candidate, they've won 36 of their last 49 games.
Opinion: The Dodgers are one of the two teams with the steepest uphill trend in this young season. The other one is the...

9.) Washington Nationals
Manny Acta's got something
good going on in Washington
Fact: The Nationals have four starting pitchers with an ERA below 2.05
Opinion: The Nationals have shown depth within all aspects of their roster construction.

8.) Atlanta Braves
Fact: Brandon Beachy has a 0.47 ERA
Opinion: I'm thoroughly enjoying the Jason Heyward bounce back tour.

7.) Cincinnati Reds
Fact: Aroldis Chapman: 9 IP, 0 Runs, 17 strikeouts, 0 walks
Opinion: When will Aroldis Chapman get a chance to shine as a starter? He's a peacock!

6.) Arizona Diamondbacks
Fact: Joe Saunders has a 1.29 ERA
Opinion: If possible, the Angels, and fantasy owners, should sell high on Joe Saunders.

5.) NY Yankees
Fact: Of all "small sample size" warnings to go for this entire post, this one may have the most need for a warning... The Yankees defense has allowed the worst BABIP in all of baseball: .345
Opinion: It's a new game, when budgetary constraints are evident in the Bronx. The passion of the fans remains as high as any in baseball, but we haven't seen the younger generation of Steinbrenners throw financial caution to the wind to ensure competitiveness.

4.) LA Angels
Fact: Kendrys Morales still hasn't walked, after 50 plate appearances.
Opinion: It's too early to panic and let the Angels tumble too far. While we're glad we predicted the Rangers would be better than Anaheim's club, the Angels still have enough starting pitching to be competitive in September.

3.) Tampa Bay Rays
Fact: Carlos Pena has a 1.003 OPS
Opinion: Matt Moore enthusiasts, like myself, are patiently waiting for him to put it all together. Until then, it's TOO MANY WALKS.

2.) Detroit Tigers
Fact: Good: Justin Verlander has a .798 WHIP, Bad: Max Scherzer has a 7.98 ERA, Ugly: Ryan Raburn has 4 total bases in 46 plate appearances
Opinion: The Tigers need to reach base at a higher rate, and should look to upgrade at 2nd base or corner outfield.

1.) Texas Rangers
Neftali Feliz has taken to starting
Fact: The Rangers have scored the most runs per game in baseball (6.07) and allowed the fewest (2.67).
Opinion: Ron Washington would enter the Marv Levy discussion if the Rangers lose another World Series this year. We still think they're going to win it all.

All stats provided by Baseball-Reference or Fangraphs, through games up to Sunday, April 22nd action.

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