Friday, July 31, 2009

Tigers opt for pitching

As much as I thought the Tigers should have added hitting, adding Jarrod Washburn is a decent move. Of course you worry about the two pitchers they gave up becoming stars, but that doesn't happen that often. If they want to win this year, Washburn was one of the best pitchers available and didn't break the bank.

He has some of the most average career numbers imaginable: 106-106, 4.02 ERA

But, his 2009 season has been very good: 8-6, 2.64 ERA. (His ERA is 5th best in baseball among starters and 1st among left-handed starters).

They had to give up Luke French, a young left-handed starter, and Mauricio Robles. French performed well with the Tigers and Robles is supposed to be good too. Washburn will be a free-agent at the end of the season.

Any time the Detroit Tigers trade a young pitcher for a veteran pitcher to help them in a playoff run, everyone immediately thinks of John Smoltz and how they traded him to the Braves for Doyle Alexander in 1987. Alexander went 9-0 for the Tigers down the stretch and helped them win the division. Smoltz went to the Braves and won 210 games, saved 154 games and went 15-4 in the postseason on his probable way to Cooperstown.

If that happens again, it will hant them for a long time. Still, they can't make decisions based on what happened more than 20 years ago. They have a good shot at making the playoffs, but it will be tough. They're not going to score a lot of runs, but they can win with good pitching and decent offense. For this plan to work, Polanco and Guillen need to hit well for the rest of the season.


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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Power Outage in San Fran

Since the All-Star Break: Most Home Runs

1. Braves: 23

2. Angels: 20

10. Twins: 16

20: Pirates 12

30. Giants: 3

If they want to be a serious playoff contender, the Giants have to be able to hit more than 3 home runs over 14 games. Adding Ryan Garko and Freddy Sanchez is not going to solve that problem.

As long as Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum continue to do a pretty good Drysdale/Koufax impression, they could be ok for a while. If they can win the World Series with this lineup, that would be one of the great accomplishments (and anomalies) in history.


The Tigers should be adding offense

One of the Tigers best players this year was Brandon Inge. Recently, he has been in pain. and has not been playing well.

Batting Average, OPS

April: .319, .1114
May: .235, .709
June: .287, .908
July: .169, .585

Before All-Star Break: .268, .875
Since All-Star Break: .135, .408 (0 XBH)

He's not the only one who has struggled...

Team Batting Average, OPS

Pre All Star Break: .259, .750
Post All Star Break: .249, .722

Right now, they can count on...
Miguel Cabrera
Curtis Granderson

Reason to hope...
Carlos Guillen
Marcus Thames
Placido Polanco

Why aren't they trying to add offense? The Pirates are trading away their whole team, maybe they have someone.

It is going to be frustrating for the Tigers and their fans because they have such a good shot at the playoffs, but they might not be able to score enough runs. With Verlander and Edwin Jackson, they could match up with almost anyone in a short series.

The offense could turn around and be good enough, but it seems unlikely with the current lineup. They need to add offense, and it has not happened yet.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Verlander's 2 Seasons

Justin Verlander had another solid performance tonight in the Tigers 13-6 blowout of the Rangers: 7 IP, 3 ER, 13 SO, 0 BB. His overall numbers, while impressive, do not tell the story of season:

Overall: 12-5, 3.16 ERA, 172 SO, 43 BB

First 4 starts: 0-2, 9.00 ERA, 25 SO, 9 BB
Last 18 starts: 12-3, 2.26 ERA, 147 SO, 34 BB

Home: 7-0, 1.15 ERA (1st in baseball), 74 SO, 23 BB, .183 Opp. BA (1st in baseball)

Away: 5-5, 4.71 ERA (3.13 since April 22nd), 98 SO, 20 BB

His early struggles might cost him the Cy Young Award, although he is in the discussion right now and has time to put up the numbers to win it.

It's a great bounceback performance for Verlander, who was 11-17 with a 4.87 ERA in 2008. He has really improved his strikeout rate and lowered his walk rate this year over his previous performance.

SO/9
2005-2008: 7.2
2009: 10.7

BB/9
2005-2008: 3.28
2009: 2.7

WHIP
2005-2008: 1.33
2009: 1.17

The one thing he probably really wants to do is make up for his mediocre postseason performance in 2006: 1-2, 5.82 ERA and 2 errors.

How good was Cliff Lee's 2008 season?

Jayson Stark on ESPN.com is reporting that the Phillies might be trying to trade for him instead of Roy Halladay. The asking price might be a little lower on Cliff Lee than Roy Halladay. His 2008 season was historic:

Cliff Lee's masterful 2008 season:
22-3, 2.54 ERA, 223 IP, 170 SO, 34 BB, .880 W-L %

.880 W-L % (6th best since 1941)

Roy Face: Pirates 18-1 (1959)
Greg Maddux: Braves 19-2 (1995 )
Randy Johnson: Martiners 18-2 (1995)
Ron Guidry: Yankees 25-3 (1978)
Bob Stanley: Red Sox 15-2 (1978)
Cliff Lee: Indians 22-3 (2008)
Seasons with 22 wins, .700 W-L% and a sub-2.75 ERA since 1990:

Pedro Martinez (Red Sox) 1999
Randy Johnson (Diamondbacks) 2002
Cliff Lee (Indians) 2008

In 2009, Cliff Lee is 7-9 with a 3.14 ERA (3-0, 1.44 ERA in last 3 starts). He's still 29-12 with a 2.78 ERA since the beginning of 2008.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pujols, Fielder, Mauer...Willingham?

There are 6 Players currently over .1000 OPS (On Base % + Slugging %) - (Min. 200 Plate Appearances)

Albert Pujols (Cardinals) - .1132

Joey Votto (Reds) - .1040

Prince Fielder (Brewers) - .1022

Joe Mauer (Twins) -.1020

Raul Ibanez (Phillies) .1009

Josh Willingham (Nationals) .1007

Ok, 4 of them are legitimate MVP-candidates (or will at least receive a lot of votes): Pujols, Fielder, Mauer, Ibanez. Then, there is Joey Votto and...

Josh Willingham, who was a part-time outfielder for the Nationals most of the season, but has has really hit the last few months, and hit 2 grand slams tonight. He's had some good seasons before and shown promise, but I don't think anyone saw this coming.

2008 (Marlins): .254 (BA), .364 (OBP), .470 (SLG), .854 (OPS)
2009 (Nationals): .298, .410, .596, .1007

If the Nationals were going to trade Willingham, the price probably just keeps going up. He would probably be a good fit for the Tigers, but who knows if they would make that move. Even with his great numbers, they were brought down by a miserable April:

April: .143 Batting Average, 1 HR, .559 OPS
May-present: .326, 15 HR, .1079 OPS

Lefties vs. Lefties

The highest batting average against left-handed pitcher by a left-handed hitter (min. 75 plate appearances) is...

.367 - Denard Span (Minnesota Twins)

Following him:

2. Scott Posnesnik (White Sox) - .365

3. Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners) - .364

7. Justin Morneau (Twins) - .331

9, Bobby Abreu (Angels) - .323

He is only hitting .354 against righties, which explains his decent .285 average. In 2008, he hit .283 against lefties and .299 against righties. It's probably a good sign for him, because a lot of left-handed hitters have trouble hitting lefties.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A pitcher's E.R.A. can be deceiving (especially for relievers)

Jonathan Broxton, the L.A. Dodgers closer, by almost every measure, is one of the best pitchers in baseball this year. If you only looked at his ERA (Earned Run Average), he would not look as good:

He is 7-0 (most wins of any reliever) with 23 saves (tied for 9th) and only 2 blown saves.

MLB rank: 40 + Innings Pitched

Batting Average Against: 1st - .140

On Base %: 1st - .235

Slugging %: 1st - .191

OPS (On Base % + Slugging %): 1st - .426

Strikeouts/9 Innings: 1st - 14.39 (next closest: Rafael Soriano - Braves: 11.96)

WHIP (Walks + Hits per inning): 5th - .90

ERA: 34th - 2.76

He has allowed runs in only 8 in the 43 games he has appeared in:
0 runs allowed - 35 times
1 run allowed - 3
2 runs - 3
3 runs - 1

He has only allowed 1 home run this year.
Who hit it? Gary Matthews Jr. (Angels), who has been one the worst hitters in baseball this year (.228, 2 HR, .605 OPS). Strange.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hall of Fame's starting pitching gap

Here are the pitchers currently in the Hall of Fame that started their career after 1967:

Bruce Sutter (1976-1988)

Rich "Goose" Gossage (1972-1989, 1991-1994)

Dennis Eckersley (1975-1998)

Rollie Fingers (1968-1985)

They were all closers, and while Eckersley was a starter for the first decade of his career, he was not a good enough starter (generally around .500) to make the Hall of Fame from that.

Bert Blyleven (1970-1992) has 287 wins, and Jack Morris (1977-1994) has his supporters, but they're not close to getting in right now.

Greg Maddux (1986-2008) is probably a lock for 2014, but that would mean there are no starting pitchers that started their career between 1967 (Steve Carlton) and 1986 (Maddux). There were a lot of very good pitchers from this era (Fernando, Hersheiser, Saberhagen, Ron Guidry, Doc Gooden, Vida Blue), but none of them put together Hall of Fame careers.

In 2009 Hall of Fame voting, Bert Blyleven was at 62.9% and Jack Morris was at 44%. The last pitcher from this period to crack 10% other than Blyleven or Morris?
Orel Hersheiser (1983-2000) in 2006 (11.2%), which fell to 4.4% in 2007 and 0% in 2008.

Bill James, Steroids and the Hall of Fame

Bill James recently weighed in (PDF) with a somewhat stunning take on steroids and how in the future people won't think it was all that big of a deal because we will have drugs that allow us to live hundreds of years.

Baseball Crank also weighed in to agree that history will be forgiving and all the great players should be in the Hall, regardless of steroid use.

I guess you need to separate the debate over Bonds and Clemens making it into the Hall of Fame in 20 years and people living to be 1,000. Even if everyone is taking steroids in the future and wondering why all the fuss, I still wonder about about how this era will be viewed. There will also be the problem of not knowing exactly how many steroids certain players used (one time vs. entire season or career).

Read it if you haven't yet, it is thought-provoking and this is how it ends (he talks a lot about Will Clark throughout):


The end of the day here is about the year 2040, perhaps 2050. It will come upon us in a flash. And, at the end of the day, Mark McGwire is going to be in the Hall of Fame, and Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro, and probably even Barry Bonds. I am not especiallyadvocating this; I simply think that is the way it is. I only hope that, when all of these players are enshrined, they will extend a hand up to a few players from the Will Clark division of the game.

Friday, July 24, 2009

What should we expect of Holliday in St. Louis?

Matt Holliday must really enjoy returning to the National League (and a contender) after his trade to St. Louis. The runner-up to the 2007 NL MVP Award (narrowly lost to Jimmy Rollins), went 4-5 in his debut with the Cardinals.

I wouldn't expect the same production with the Cardinals that he had with the Rockies because Colorado always inflates the stats at least a little (more likely a lot).

Career Batting Average, OPS
Home: .349, .1047 (.357, .1068 at Coors Field)
Away: .281, .801

2009 w/ Athletics
.286, .831, 11 HR, 54 RBI

In a good environment like St. Louis he would seem to be a solid .300, 25-30 HR, 100 RBI middle of the lineup hitter.

Larry Walker, another good player who looked like a combination of Babe Ruth and Ted Williams when he played at Coors Field, played a key role with the 2004 Cardinals. Walker was a .381 career hitter (and a .710 slugging %) in 2500 at bats at Coors Field and a .278 hitter on the road.

After being traded to the Cardinals in 2004, he hit .280 with 11 home runs in 44 games. He even hit .357 in the World Series. Walker was near the end of his career and 37 when he was traded, whereas Holliday is 29, but the same principal still applies.

In 1999, when Walker hit .379 and won the batting title, he hit:
Home - .461 (not a misprint)
Road - .286

When he played in Colorado, Holliday put up numbers comparable to Albert Pujols, such as his 2007 season (.340, 216 hits, 50 doubles, 36 home runs, 137 RBI). He's not Albert Pujols, and will almost certainly not put up numbers like that in St. Louis, but he will be a valuable addition to the Cardinals. He will have a lot of runners on base in front of him (especially Albert with his .450 OBP), so he could get a lot of RBI.

The Matt Holliday of his Colorado days might be able to somewhat protect Albert Pujols in the lineup, but no one can do that now. Hopefully fans know what to expect from Holliday, and that it's probably not Pujols-like numbers. It is constantly said that St. Louis fans are the most knowledgeable in all of baseball, so it shouldn't be a problem.

Halladay's last start for the Blue Jays? Another gem

Harry Leroy Halladay ("Roy" for short) had a very good game tonight against the Rays (9 IP, 1 ER, 10 SO), but he will not win because the game went into extra innings. If this was his final start for the Blue Jays, here are his final numbers for them since his debut on September 20th, 1998.

142 Wins
69 Losses
3.46 ERA
.673 Winning % (10th All-Time)
1939.2 IP
1400 SO
2 20-Win seasons (2003, 2008)
6 All-Star Games
2003 Cy Young Award
(2nd Place Finish) 2008 Cy Young Award

He is 10th all-time in winning percentage, for a team that has not made the playoffs and has basically been a .500 team over this decade.

As a baseball fan, I would like to see him have the opportunity to pitch in the playoffs. He could be a big-game pitcher in the playoffs like Josh Beckett or John Smoltz.

If he goes to the Phillies (as many have speculated), he has a good chance at that, and helping them repeat as World Champions. He could get another start even if he is traded because it's only the 23rd, but these trades can come at unpredictable times.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Could Mark Buehrle no-hit his way to the Hall of Fame?

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Chicago White Sox

Could Mark Buehrle pitch his way into the Hall of Fame with a few more no-hitters, or would he be seen as a really good pitcher with a strange ability to pitch no-hitters? He's on a good pace for wins, having just turned 30 and having 132 wins. If he stays healthy, it is easy to imagine him reaching 200 wins (or 250 if he stays past his retire-in-2012 pledge).

His ERA is a little high at 3.78 and has never been under 3.00. That would probably have to change, and he's never really competed for a Cy Young Award. It is a bit of a mystery how a guy that has a perfect game and a no-hitter isn't more dominant. Still, if he ends his career with 250 wins and 4 no-hitters, I wonder how much it would be factored in.

Most No-Hitters:

Nolan Ryan - 7
Sandy Koufax - 4
Bob Feller - 3
Cy Young - 3

Right now, he's tied with Hideo Nomo, Bob Forsch, Steve Busby, Bill Stoneman, Ken Holtzman, Jim Maloney, Don Wilson and others.

Looking at his numbers, there is no reason to think he would ever throw a no-hitter: he allows a lot of hits. But, apparently, he has a talent for it and it is interesting to think how it would affect his career if he threw 2 more. Remember, he's only 30 and could have 8-10 years left (or longer). He has said that he will retire at the end of his contract in 2012, at the age of 33, so that would be a serious impediment if he followed through. If he decided to stick around for a few years after that, this would be an interesting scenario.

Best Hitter of July 2009

Here is how good the Angels offense has been in July:

There has only been one month since 2000 that a team has scored more than 200 runs: July 2007 when the Yankees scored 202 runs.

In July, the Angels are hitting a ridiculous .316 as a team and have scored 128 runs through 18 games. That equals a little over 7 runs a game, which would put them at 199 runs if they play 28 games this month. They probably will not be able to top 200 runs because they will have fewer games due to the All-Star Game.

Pretty much everyone on the team has been hot this month, but one player stands out and its not who you would expect: Erick Aybar, the SS for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Erick Aybar is hitting .466 in July, by far the best in baseball during July of all players with at least 50 plate appearances. Entering July, he was a .264 career hitter (now he's up to .278). Out of 15 games, he has at least 2 hits in 10 games (including 3 3-hit games and a 4-hit game)

April .245
May .303
June .256
July .466

It's always fun to see players emerge who you wouldn't expect. This might the beginning of him being an offensive force, or he could revert to his old form. We'll just have to wait and see.

Buehrle an unlikely candidate for perfect game + no-hitter

It's interesting that Mark Buehrle has now thrown a no-hitter and a perfect game over a 3 year period while he has also led the AL in hits allowed 3 of the last 4 years (2005, 2007, 2008). He's a very good pitcher, but not the most likely candidate for a no-hitter and a perfect game.

Other modern pitchers who have thrown a perfect game and a no-hitter - Opponent's Batting Average for their careers:

Jim Bunning .242

Sandy Koufax .205

Randy Johnson .221

Mark Buehrle: .269

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Red Sox are slumping, but their next homestand is winnable

The struggling Red Sox fell out of first place, having lost 5 games in the standings in their last 5 games. Since the All-Star break, they went 1-5 on the road against the Blue Jays and Rangers. Now, they're going to have a 3 game series against the Orioles at Fenway, followed by a 4 game series against the A's at Fenway.

The A's and O's have a combined record of 81-106 (33-60 on the road), while the Sox are 31-14 at home (best in the league). Then they have a 9 game road trip to Baltimore, Tampa and New York. Obviously, they have to make the next 7 games count, because they are very winnable games. They've had a bad week, with some brutal numbers:

J.D. Drew: 0-18 (7-55 in July)
Jason Varitek: 1-13 (8-41)
Jason Bay: 2-16 (9-50)

They have had a minor (so far) shakeup involving acquiring Adam Laroche and trading Julio Lugo to the Cardinals for Chris Duncan that will probably give their offense a boost. They are lucky that they have a 7-game homestand against very beatable teams.





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Cubs-Phillies: Round 3 - Cubs break out

The Cubs scored had 13 hits, 9 walks and scored 10 runs. Their 2-5 hitters (Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Milton Bradley) went 8-16 with 7 runs, 4 RBI and 8 BB off of Jamie Moyer, and a bunch of relievers (including Brad Lidge). They did not hit a home run, but still scored a lot of runs, which is really good sign.

The Phillies can be forgiven for losing a game, but they need to watch out for the Braves, who are red-hot (beat Tim Lincecum tonight) and only 5.5 games out. The Mets probably don't pose a threat, but the Marlins and Braves are both very talented and could do very well in the 2nd half.

How good is Roy Oswalt?

Everyone knows he is very good. But, he's never won a Cy Young Award (or even come in 2nd) and seems to get forgotten about a little when the best pitchers in baseball are discussed. He plays in a smaller market and "only" makes $14 million, about $5 million less than Johan Santana.

Of all pitchers to start their careers since 1930, only 4 pitchers have matched the following numbers:

.650 Winning %, 130 Wins, Sub-3.20 ERA

Whitey Ford (Hall of Fame)
Roger Clemens (uhhh...never mind)
Sandy Koufax (Hall of Fame)
Roy Oswalt (?)

If you add in 3.00 Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio, the list is reduced to 1 pitcher...

Roy Oswalt

He is at it again right now, having turned around a down (for him, anyway) season by going 3-0 with a 1.65 ERA in his last 5 starts.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cubs-Phillies: Round 2 - Good game, but Cubs still lose

The losing pitcher in this 13 inning game was Jeff Samardzija, the former star wide receiver from Notre Dame. He pitched well last year (26 games, 2.28 ERA), but tonight was not his night, giving up a walk-off 3 run homer to Jayson Werth in the 13th.

It's the Phillies first 10 game winning streak since 1991 and they can do no wrong right now. They got 3 perfect innings (3 IN, 0 hits, 0 BB, 5 SO) from Chan Ho Park (!). Yes, he kind of re-invented himself as a decent reliever last year with the Dodgers, but he had struggled this year. If they can get quality work out of Chan Ho Park, then they are really rolling.

As for the Cubs, they still aren't hitting. They hit the Nationals pretty hard, but that doesn't really count. Getting rid of Mark DeRosa and adding Milton Bradley was obviously a bad decision, at least in hindsight. Alfonso Soriano has become Rob Deer this season (Soriano 2009 - .243, 16 HR, 38 RBI, 88 SO, 7 SB) (Rob Deer 1992 - .247, 32 HR, 64 RBI, 131 SO, 4 SB). Ok, he's scored 53 runs, but that's still still only 44th in the league. He has hit pretty well the last few weeks, so maybe that's a start.

They are really counting on Aramis Ramirez, who has been back from injury after missing a few months. If he's healthy, he'll hit. He has always put up good numbers, but it is unclear whether he could bring the rest of the lineup along with him if he does heat up. They have a talented lineup, but they haven't put it together yet this year. Luckily for them, the NL is weak this year beyond the Dodgers and Phillies, so they have a chance.

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Braves might be turning back into a contender

Braves ahead 8-1 over the Giants. Prado is 3-3 with 3 runs and 3 RBI as of the 5th inning. The way they're hitting now, I am beginning to think the Braves can legitimately be considered a contender in the Wild Card race. The Braves' pitching is even coming back, currently ranked at 5th in the Majors in ERA with 3.80.

The starting rotation is ranked 2nd: Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Javier Vasquez, Jair Jurrjens (think the Tigers regret trading him Edgar Renteria?) and Tommy Hanson. That might be as deep, experienced and talented as any rotation in baseball.
It might not be Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz, but it'll do. The bullpen is good too: Rafael Soriano (traded by the Mariners for Horacio Ramirez in 2006, ouch) might be having the best season of any reliever in baseball (44 IP, 1.41 ERA, 23 H, 15 BB, 60 SO, 13 SV).

Bobby Cox is pushing 70, but he might have another playoff run in him.

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Prado has become catalyst for Braves' resurgence

During July, who leads the NL in hits and doubles and is tied for third in runs?

Martin Prado (of course), 2nd baseman for the Braves: .351, 9 doubles, 26 hits, 14 runs.

The only other players in baseball who have .350, with 20 hits, 12 runs and 5 doubles in July:

Dustin Pedroia
Shane Victorino
Jimmy Rollins

Also, among all players with at least 100 plate appearances hitting 2nd in the lineup, he is second best, at .357 with a .988 OPS. Almost all of those at-bats have come since the end of June.

He's played well in the past, hitting .320 with over 200 at-bats in 2008, but had not settled into a starting role until recently. It seems like he has settled in there very nicely, in between Nate McLouth and Chipper Jones.

Prado took over the 2nd spot in the lineup in late June when Yunel Escobar was dropped down in the lineup and Prado replaced Kelly Johnson as starting 2nd baseman after Johnson struggled mightily in June.

It's worked very nicely: In July, the Braves have scored the 2nd most runs in baseball, behind only the Angels. In June, they were ranked 26th in runs. They are 13-6 since June 28th and only 4 games out in the weak NL Wild Race. It was not a blockbuster move, but it has had a huge effect on the Braves.

Blog Carnival 07.21.09

I would like to thank everyone who submitted entries this week. I received 4 entries this week and hope for that number to grow in the future. It is a good way to promote your articles and will be even better as time goes by. If you know someone else who has an interesting blog or article, please direct them here. Thank you, and enjoy.


Surfer Sam presents New !! Famous Baseball Players and Their Teams posted at Surfer Sam and Friends.

Bill Mckillop presents NO-Omar Minaya posted at The Fair Ball.

Brian Akin presents Trade Theory for Professional Baseball posted at Dear (Tommy) John Letters.

Robert Galway presents Weight Loss posted at Robs Sports and Fitness.


Thank you to those who submitted this week and please submit more articles for the upcoming editions. If anyone would like to submit, please use the Carnival Submission Form. For future info, please consult the Baseball In-Depth Carnival Index Page.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cubs-Phillies: Round 1 - not even close

I thought I was looking forward to the Phillies-Cubs grudge match, but the Phillies defeated the Cubs 10-1. The Cubs were coming off of a 4 game sweep of the Nationals. They had a nice series, but the Nationals are a lot different than the Phillies. The Phillies are now 13-1 since July 2nd, have won 9 in a row and have a 6.5 game lead over the Braves (9 games over the Mets).

There are 20 players in baseball with at least 20 home runs and 4 of them are on the Phillies (Raul Ibanez, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth). During July, they are 3rd in runs scored, 4th in home runs and 3rd in ERA (24th for the whole season).

Who knows whether Pedro Martinez will help (or even pitch) or about any other acquisitions, but they look really good. The NLCS was between the Phillies and the Dodgers last year, and it doesn't look like there is any reason that will not happen again.
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About (Jason) Schmidt

Jason Schmidt (Dodgers) is starting tonight against the Reds, his first since June 16th, 2007. The monster contract he signed before the 2007 season (3 years, $47 million) is almost over, but it is possible that he could be a key component in the postseason this year for the Dodgers. The Dodgers have a comfortable lead in the NL West (7.5 games over the Giants) and don't need him to be an ace right now.

In 2 postseasons with the Giants in 2002-2003, he pitched well, going 3-1 with a 3.06 ERA. He was certainly paid like a big game pitcher by the Dodgers, so it should be interesting to see what happens with him. The Dodgers can take it slowly and see if he has anything left. He could provide a really good veteran presence in their rotation if things work out right.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Angels' pitching should improve in 2nd half

This is related to something I wrote about when I had first started this blog, from about a month ago. It was about Brian Fuentes and the Angels resurgence. At the time, Fuentes had started to rebound from a bad start and the Angels were playing better.

Over his last 16 appearances, he has 15 saves and a 0.00 ERA. That followed right after he allowed a 9th-inning, 3-run homer to Jose Lopez that really seemed to deflate the Angels at the time. His ERA has dropped from 5.30 to 3.03 and leads the Majors in saves.

Interestingly, the Angels are 10-5 in July and have the worst team ERA in baseball in July, while also scoring the most runs. They had a good sign today, with John Lackey pitching 9 scoreless innings, in their 10 inning 1-0 victory over the A's. He can be one of the best pitchers in baseball, and he can help lead their pitching back to health.
Their pitching is too good to be this bad, and I expect it to turn around. Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana (his 8-inning, 1-run performance against Oakland on Thursday might be a good start) should turn it around as well. They both pitched really well last year: 16 wins (Santana) and 17 wins (Saunders).

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Since when do pitchers revive their careers in Colorado?

After his win today against the Padres, Jason Marquis is 3-1 with a 1.56 ERA over his last 4 starts. He is leading the Major Leagues in wins with 12.

He's got a good chance at 20 wins, which would be an amazing accomplishment for a pitcher on the Colorado Rockies. He's had a decent career, but he was only 37-34 with a 5.08 ERA in 2006-2008 with the Cardinals and Cubs.

His other stats aren't overwhelming (61 Strikeouts in 131 innings) and he's not winning the Cy Young Award, but he is having a really good year, and has a decent shot at being the ace on a postseason team.

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Home Runs by month

Since the beginning of 2004, here are the leaders in home runs by month:

2004
April - Miguel Cabrera (Marlins) 9
May - Ken Griffey Jr. (Reds) 10
June - Jim Thome (Phillies) 15
July - Jim Edmonds (Cardinals), Carlos Lee (White Sox), Mark Teixeira (Rangers) 13
August - Adrian Beltre (Dodgers) 13
September - Vladimir Guerrero (Angels) 10

2005
April - Alex Rodriguez (Yankees) 9
May - Bobby Abreu (Phillies) 11
June - Andruw Jones (Braves) 13
July - Jason Giambi (Yankees) 14
August - Alex Rodriguez (Yankees) 12
September - David Ortiz (Red Sox), Randy Winn (Mariners/Giants), Lance Berkman (Astros), Travis Hafner (Indians) 11

2006
April - Albert Pujols (Cardinals) 14
May - Ryan Howard (Phillies) 13
June - Jason Giambi (Yankees) 11
July - David Ortiz (Red Sox) 14
August - Ryan Howard (Phillies) 14
September - Frank Thomas (A's), Chase Utley (Phillies), Matt Holliday (Rockies) 10

2007
April - Alex Rodriguez (Yankees) 14
May - Prince Fielder (Brewers) 13
June - Alfonso Soriano (Cubs) 11
July - Hideki Matsui (Yankees) 13
August - Miguel Tejada (Orioles), Magglio Ordonez (Tigers), Pat Burrell (Phillies), Mark Teixeria (Rangers/Braves) 10
September - Alfonso Soriano (Cubs) 14

2008
April - Chase Utley (Phillies) 10
May - Dan Uggla (Marlins) 12
June - JD Drew (Red Sox) 12
July - Adam Dunn (Reds) 12
August - Ty Wiggington (Astros) 12
September - Ryan Howard (Phillies) 11

2009
April - Carlos Pena (Rays), Adrian Gonzalez (Padres) 9
May - Mark Teixeira (Yankees) 13
June - Albert Pujols (Cardinals) 14
July - Derrek Lee (Cubs), Garrett Jones (Pirates) 7

Multiple Times: Alex Rogriguez (3), Ryan Howard (3), Mark Teixeira (3), Chase Utley (2), Jason Giambi (2), Albert Pujols (2), Alfonso Soriano (2), David Ortiz (2)
Highest: 15 - June 2004, Jim Thome (Phillies)
Most Surprising: Garrett Jones (July 2009), Ty Wigginton (August 2008), Randy Winn (September 2005)
Teams: Phillies (8), Yankees (6), Cardinals (3), Red Sox (3), Cubs (3)
Most Impressive Performance: Jason Giambi - July 2005: 14 HR in 76 at bats
How did he miss it? Manny Ramirez
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Greg Maddux is in a class by himself

Greg Maddux is retired and his career numbers appear set:

355 wins
3.16 ERA
4 Cy Young Awards
17 straight 15-win seasons
5008 Innings
3371 Strikeouts with only 999 walks

Yeah, 999 walks. Despite pitching in the Majors for 23 years and over 5000 innings, he did not walk that 1000th hitter and become the 111th pitcher to "accomplish" that feat.

Here are some pitchers that did walk over 1000 batters:
Al Leiter
Tim Wakefield
Mark Langston
Dave Steib
Rick Sutcliffe

What do these pitcher all have in common?
They were all good pitchers who pitched less than 3000 innings in their career, while walking over 1000. They walked over 1000 hitters in less than 3000 innings and Maddux walked under 1000 in over 5000 innings.

5000 innings pitched is 13th best all time and 6th of the modern era, behind Phil Neikro, (5404 IP, 1809 BB), Nolan Ryan (5386, 2795), Gaylord Perry (5350, 1379), Don Sutton (5282, 1343), Warren Spahn (5243, 1434) and Steve Carlton (5217, 1833).

A few surprises on this list of top pitchers

2009 Season: Sub-3.00 ERA, 100 Strikeouts
Dan Haren - Diamondbacks (2.01, 129)
Zack Greinke - Royals (2.12, 129)
Tim Lincecum - Giants (2.27 159)
Felix Hernandez - Mariners (2.51, 129)
Josh Johnson - Marlins (2.74, 109)
Wandy Rodriguez - Astros (2.81, 112)
Roy Halladay - Blue Jays (2.85, 106)
Javier Vasquez - Braves (2.95, 136)

A few surprises here. If you heard there was a list of 8 pitchers in all of baseball with these numbers, I doubt most people would think of Wandy Rodriguez or Javier Vazquez immediately. Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay were the All-Star Game Starting Pitchers. Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez, Josh Johnson and Dan Haren were All-Star Reserves. Wandy Rodriguez and Javier Vasquez were left off of the teams entirely and there wasn't much of a public uproar over it.

Some of that is probably a product of the every-team-must-have-a-player requirement, which got Zach Duke of the Pirates (8-8, 3.29, 65 SO) onto the team as their only selection. Ted Lilly, who is on the Cubs and was an All-Star Reserve, has had a very similar season to Wandy Rodriguez, only with a higher ERA (9-6, 3.18, 101 SO). The win-loss records are often used to determine who the best pitchers are too. Take a look at their Win-Loss records:

Wins-Losses
Tim Lincecum (10-2)
Roy Halladay (10-3)
Felix Hernandez (10-3)
Zack Greinke (10-5)
Dan Haren (9-5)
Wandy Rodriguez (9-6)
Josh Johnson (8-2)
Javier Vasquez (6-7)

Vasquez has been a bit of a tough-luck pitcher: His ERA in June was 1.98 and his record 1-3. He lost a game against Tim Wakefield and Boston where he allowed 1 run over 7 innings, because the Braves lost 1-0. Haren might be having the best season of any of them, but his record is not that great, although Arizona is one of the worst teams in baseball.

Yankees to begin the Sergio Mitre era next week

Sergio Mitre is going to become the Yankees no. 5 starter while Chen Ming Wang is on the DL. He was 10-23 with a 5.36 ERA in 5 seasons and hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2007 when he was with the Marlins. What's the connection? He pitched forJoe Girardi in 2006 when Girardi was Manager for the Marlins.

Maybe they're hoping for a recreation of Aaron Small (remember him?) from 2005, when he came out of nowhere to go 10-0 with a 3.20 as a mid-season replacement. When the Yankees brought him up in 2005, he hadn't started a Major League game since 1996 (!).

They won't need much from Mitre, just some decent starts until Chen-Ming Wang is off the disabled list. If he turns into Aaron Small, all the better. If not, they'll probably trade for another starter decent no. 5 starter: Roy Halladay?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bobby Abreu: Hall of Famer?

Surprisingly, there is only 1 instance of a player putting up these numbers in a season, ever:

30 HR, 40 SB, 40 2B, 100 BB

It was Bobby Abreu in 2004, who finished 23rd in the MVP voting on a 2nd place Phillies team.

Barry Bonds equaled him several times (1991, 1996) on the stolen bases, homers and walks, but never on doubles.

Abreu's numbers from 2004
30 HR, 40 SB, 47 2B, 127 BB, along with 117 Runs, .301 BA and 105 RBI

It is understandable that the MVP voting rewarded the players with huge home run and RBI totals, but for having a really good, all-around game, Abreu has had one of the more productive and unappreciated careers in recent history.

He is the only player in Major League History with these numbers:
.300 BA, 200 HR, 300 SB, .400 OBP.
The only other players who were close were Willie Mays, Rickie Henderson and Barry Bonds.

Can Abreu make it into the Hall of Fame?
I wouldn't have thought so before, but they are very impressive numbers. Generally, steady production across many offensive categories will not be enough. The voters want to be blown away and see MVP awards, and that's not him. The way things are going, though, there might not be too many decent options left when he comes up years from now.

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Read this if you really like arcane baseball research

From the Wall Street Journal: An article about how the study of baseball stats, including a tidbit about players with nicknames living longer than those without.

Other interesting studies related to about political views and the DH and whether players with K in their initials strike out more than those without. Some of the studies relate to baseball, but would even have more "real-world" applications, such as circadian rhythm and worker productivity.

W. Christopher Winter, medical director of the Martha Jefferson Hospital Sleep Medicine Center, led a soon-to-be-published study, funded by Major League Baseball, showing that teams that are adjusted to their time zone have a “circadian advantage” over teams that have just traveled across the country. “Baseball is a great way to raise awareness,” says Dr. Winter, who notes that findings can apply to shift-workers. “It’s a sexy topic and it gets a lot of attention.”


Even with so many people studying baseball numbers for so long, it sounds like there is a lot left to study. With "baseball quirkologists" like Ernest Abel and Michael Kruger, both of Wayne State University, which is located in Detroit, there should be more unusual baseball studies coming in years to come.

Who do you want up with runners in scoring position and 2 outs?

The answer might surprise you. According to the numbers:

Min. 50 PA - Batting Average - Runners in Scoring Position, 2 Outs

1. Edgar Renteria (Giants) .405

2. Brad Hawpe (Rockies) .313

3. Shin-Shoo Choo (Indians) .308

4. Jeff Francoeur (Braves/Mets) .300

5. Jayson Werth (Phillies) .297


In overall Batting Average, they rank:

206. Edgar Renteria .260

24. Brad Hawpe .320

92. Shin-Shoo Choo .292

248. Jeff Francoeur .252

206. Jayson Werth .260

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jamie Moyer: Maybe he'll reach 300 wins when he's 51

Jamie Moyer is 46 years old and entered tonight with an ERA of about 6.00. Of course he went on the road and threw 7 shutout innings against the Marlins allowing only 1 hit. Tonight, he won his 255th game of his career, passing Jack Morris and Red Faber.

Now, within shouting distance (maybe not this year, but possible) are Bob Feller and Jim Palmer at 266 and 268. Amazing for a guy who was offered a coaching position in the Cubs minor league system after they released him, in 1992(!).

1st Half - Top Offensive Players

50 RBI, 50 Runs, .300 BA, 15 HR, 100 Hits
Albert Pujols (Cardinals)
Ryan Braun (Brewers)
Justin Morneau (Twins)
Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
Adam Lind (Blue Jays)

50 RBI, 50 Runs, .300 BA, 10 SB, 15 HR
Albert Pujols (Cardinals)
Justin Upton (Diamondbacks)
Torii Hunter (Angels)

Nothing is really surprising, except for Adam Lind coming out of nowhere to break into a list full of former MVPs and perennial MVP-candidates. The #1 overall pick of the 2005 draft and predicted phenom Justin Upton is starting to live up the hype at 21 years old. He's not quite a superstar, but he's getting there.

A Truly Amazin' Streak

In this article from the NY Times, a Mets fan describes how to he went to 5 Mets games in 18 days, and the Mets were shut out every time. In the article, it is estimated that it was almost literally a 1-in-a-million event.

Worst of the Decade: Striking Out

The team that had the most hitters strike out this decade: 2001 Milwaukee Brewers with 1399 strikeouts. They did hit 209 home runs, which is a lot, but it was only 6th in the league.

In 2001, they actually "won" this stat by well over 100 strikeouts over the next highest team. The most prolific strikeouts artists in 2009, the Florida Marlins, are only on pace for 1267.

Top Performers
Jose Hernandez 185
Richie Sexson 178
Jeromy Burnitz 150
Geoff Jenkins 120

Other teams with 1300+ strikeouts:
2008 Florida Marlins 1371
2004 Cincinnati Reds 1335
2007 Florida Marlins 1332
2003 Cincinnati Reds 1326
2007 Tampa Bay Rays 1324
2004 Milwaukee Brewers 1312
2005 Cincinnati Reds 1303

Best of the Decade: Opponents' Batting Average

The lowest batting average that any pitching staff has allowed this decade was .232 by the 2003 L.A. Dodgers. The 116-win 2001 Mariners finished 2nd at .236.

Don't remember the 2003 Dodgers? They won 85 games, but finished 15 games behind the Giants.

Starting Rotation: Hideo Nomo, Kevin Brown, Odalis Perez, Kaz Ishii with some Wilson Alverez, Darren Dreifort and Andy Ashy mixed in.

Bullpen: Guillermo Mota, Paul Quantrill and Eric Gagne. All had 75+ appearance and a sub .200 ERA. Also, Paul Shuey and Tom Martin.

The best in 2009 is... the Dodgers, with .232, a number that would be the best of the decade if they keep it up.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Most Dominant Regular Season Teams


The measure of dominance is run differential for a team (runs scored -runs allowed). I will compare these to historical teams in the future. I will also break down the numbers even further, looking beyond the top teams. One interesting stat is that the 2007 Diamondbacks won the NL West with a -20, while the Rockies finished behind them at +102.

2001 Seattle Mariners +300

2001 Oakland A's 239

2007 Boston Red Sox 210 (W.S. Champs)

2002 Anaheim Angels 207 (W.S. Champs)

2002 New York Yankees 200

2004 St. Louis Cardinals 196 (W.S. runner-up)

2002 Boston Red Sox 194

2007 New York Yankees 191

2008 Chicago Cubs 184

2004 Boston Red Sox 180 (W.S. Champs)

1st Half - Leaders in several offensive categories


Grounding Into Double Plays: Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) - 16

Sacrifice Flies: Bengine Molina (Giants) - 10

Sacrifice Hits: Dexter Fowler (Rockies) - 11

# of pitches per plate appearance: Jayson Werth (Phillies) - 4.54

Hit by Pitch: Kelly Shoppach (Indians) - 14

Intentional Walks: Albert Pujols (Cardinals) - 32, Chipper Jones (Braves) - 13, Adrian Gonzalez (Padres) -13

At Bats: Aaron Hill (Blue Jays) - 390, Vernon Wells (Blue Jays) - 365, Alex Rios (Blue Jays) - 363, Marco Scutaro (Blue Jays) - 357

All-Star Game

You kind of knew what was going to happen once Carl Crawford took away that home run. With the AL running out Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan and Mariano Rivera, it seemed unlikely the NL would score any more runs, especially since they only had 1 hit after the 2nd inning, and that was an infield single by Orlando Hudson.

It's kind of the way it used to be with the Red Sox whenever they were in the postseason before 2004. Everyone knew something bad would happen to prevent them from winning, and it always did.

The NL is coming close every year, so they should have a good shot next year. They just need a really big inning, like the AL had in 1983 when they jumped out to the 9-1 lead behind Fred Lynn's Grand Slam to break the NL's 11-game winning streak.

It was an exciting game, but now it's over. Time for the 2nd half.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Trivia: Who's still playing from the last time NL won the All-Star Game?

The last time the NL won the All-Star Game was 1996, when it was played in Philadelphia and Mike Piazza was the MVP (also the last shutout).

Just for fun, I look at how many players in the starting lineups are still active:

Out of 18 players, there are 3:
John Smoltz, Ivan Rodriguez and Chipper Jones.

What about reserves?

Out of 41 players, there are 6 players still active.

Ken Griffey, A-Rod, Andy Pettitte, Jason Kendall, Gary Sheffield, Pedro Martinez (Yes, Pedro, because it looks like he's coming back).

That makes 9 out of 59 players since the last time the NL won the All-Star Game.

How many of their players are with the same team?
Andy Pettitte and Chipper Jones, with Chipper Jones being the only one with uninterrupted service to the same team (Pettitte went to the Astros for a few years).

Blog Carnival 07.13.09

I would like to thank everyone who submitted this week, the first carnival at Baseball In-Depth. I received 4 entries this week and hope for that number to grow in the future. It is a good way to promote your articles and will be even better as time goes by. If you know someone else who has an interesting blog or article, please direct them here. Thank you, and enjoy.

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Colin Timberlake presents Training Log: The Anvil of Crom - Day 10 posted at colintimberlake.com.

He uses Lou Gehrig as an inspiration for his workout routine on this day.

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Sean Cochran presents Baseball as theology? posted at A Greater Glory.

This is an article in response to another article (read the article he based this post on, too) which discusses Field of Dreams and whether baseball can be considered a secular religion. The response takes on how baseball might be a great game, but it is not sufficient as a religion.

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Jack Perconte presents Rambling On About My Glory Days: Toughest Pitchers I Faced posted at Jack Perconte.

This is a really interesting article if you want to read about baseball by someone who actually played it at the Major League level. You've heard of all of the pitchers he's discussing, such a Nolan Ryan (in a no-hitter) and Jack Morris. They are all either in the Hall of Fame or are in the discussion for it.

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Brian Akin presents Dear (Tommy) John Letters: Sunk Costs and Signing Bonuses posted at Dear (Tommy) John Letters.

This is a blog posting by a minor league athlete who is blogging while rehabbing and takes an interesting look at the economics of organizations keeping minor league athletes in the system.


Thank you to those who submitted this week and please submit more articles for the upcoming editions.

If anyone would like to submit, please use the Carnival Submission Form. For future info, please consult the Baseball In-Depth Carnival Index Page.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Halfway Awards, Part 2

Having a really good season with a horrible batting average: Carlos Pena

Ignore his Win-Loss Record, his numbers are great: Javier Vasquez

Best Bouncebacks: Robinson Cano and Scott Podsednik

Best Breakout speedster: Michael Bourn

Most dominant pitcher: Joe Nathan

Best we-know-he'll-have-a-high-ERA-but-he's-cheap-and-has-at-least-been-around-before: Sidney Ponson

Best late career transition from mediocre starter and decent set-up guy to sensational closer: Ryan Franklin

Still questionable on paper, but maybe they're for real: San Francisco Giants

Best rollercoaster ride: Colorado Rockies

Will Pujols outhomer them? NY Mets

Luckiest "contender" in a weak division: Chicago Cubs

Stealthiest historic season: Dan Haren

Freakiest Stat: Mariano Rivera - 43 K, 3 BB

Dodgers with/without Manny

Dodgers Record
26-10 with Manny Ramirez;
29-21 during Manny's suspension

Team Batting Average
April .290
May .286
June .241
July .309

Runs Scored by Month
April 131
May 156
June 93
July 53


The Dodgers are enjoying having his bat in the lineup, having scored over 10 runs each of the last two games after not scoring over 10 runs in a game for over 40 games. The team did have good offensive numbers in May after he was suspended (only played in 5 of 29 games), but fell off in June.

The Next Dale Murphy gets shipped to the Mets

Jeff Francoeur, an outfielder for the Braves for last 5 years, was traded to the Mets for Ryan Church. The Mets really really need offense, having been shut out 5 of their last 17 games. Franceour was productive early in career, but his numbers have been ugly the last two seasons, really ugly:

2005-2007

1550 AB: 62 HR, 253 RBI, .280 avg.
HR/25 AB, RBI/6.12 AB

2008-2009

903 AB: 16 HR, 106 RBI, .242 avg.

HR/56 AB, RBI/8.5 AB

________________________________________________

In 2008, out of 147 players who qualified for the batting title, his OPS of .653 (On Base + Slugging) was 142nd, 6th worst in the league. For a player compared to Dale Murphy early in his career, this is a stunning fall (he also grew up in the Atlanta area).

In 2009, out of 167 players who currently qualify, he is again 6th worst in OPS at .634. If he can regain his home run stroke of 2006 and learn to walk a little, he might be ok again. Considering the Mets are dead last in the league in Home Runs, if he could provide any power at all, this might be considered a good trade. Maybe.

The player he was traded for, Ryan Church, is more steady, but probably has less upside.

His batting average the last 5 years: .287, .276, .272, .276, .280. He's only had one season with more than 102 games played and never hit more than 15 home runs, but he is solid.

Basically, the Mets are desperate for offense and they could get Franceour without giving up much. He has been one of the worst hitters in the league the last two years, so it would be shocking for him to revert back to his form in 2006-7 immediately. He clearly has talent; he wasn't compared by so many people to Dale Murphy for nothing. In his favor is that he is only 25, has proven success and a new team that apparently believes in him.





 
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