Friday, December 24, 2010

More Dominant Pitching, 2010

3.75+ K/BB, 1.15 WHIP or lower, 160+ IP (2010)
Cliff Lee (Mariners/Rangers) 10.28 K/BB, 1.00 WHIP
Roy Halladay (Phillies) 7.30, 1.04
Jered Weaver (Angels) 4.31, 1.07
Josh Johnson (Marlins) 3.88, 1.11
Shaun Marcum (Blue Jays) 3.84, 1.15
Adam Wainwright (Cardinals) 3.80, 1.05
Mat Latos (Padres) 3.78, 1.08
Ted Lilly (Cubs/Dodgers) 3.77, 1.08

Not too many surprises, and it's one more reminder how great the Phillies' rotation should be next year.  Shaun Marcum was traded to the Brewers earlier this month, and he could be part of a good rotation in 2011 (with Zack Greinke and Yovani Gallardo).  He had missed all of 2009 after Tommy John surgery and had much better control (2 BB/9 from 3 BB/9 in 2008). 

Ted Lilly pitched even better after being traded to the Dodgers (5.13 K/BB, .991 WHIP; 3.07 K/BB, 1.14 WHIP with Cubs), which could bode well because he signed a 3 year contract with them (his ERA was much better at Dodger Stadium than Wrigley Field).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dominant Pitching, 2010

3.00 ERA or lower, 1.00 WHIP or lower (2010)

Pre All-Star Break, 50+ IP
Josh Johnson (Marlins)  1.70 ERA, .96 WHIP, 122 IP
Adam Wainwright (Cardinals) 2.11, 1.00, 136.1
Mat Latos (Padres) 2.45, .97, 106.2
Cliff Lee (Mariners/Rangers) 2.64, .95, 112.2

Post All-Star Break, 50+ IP
Felix Hernandez (Mariners) 1.53 ERA, .94 WHIP, 112 IP
Daniel Hudson (White Sox/D-Backs) 2.07, .94, 91.1
Cole Hamels (Phillies) 2.23, 1.00, 96.2
Roy Oswalt (Phillies) 2.36, .99, 91.2
Tommy Hanson (Braves) 2.51, .98, 100.1
Jeremy Guthrie (Orioles) 2.76, .99, 98
Hiroki Kuroda (Dodgers) 2.87, .94, 94
Matt Cain (Giants) 2.91, .93, 102

2010 Season, 70+ IP
Daniel Bard (Red Sox) 1.93 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 74.2 IP
Daniel Hudson (White Sox/D-Backs) 2.95, 1.00, 95.1

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lowest ERA in 1st Season

Lowest ERA, 20+ IP (1st Season, Since 1900)
0.00 Harry Coveleski (1907, Phillies)
0.38 Joba Chamberlain (2007, Yankees)
0.38 Buck O'Brien (1911, Red Sox)
0.39 Cliff Markle (1915, Yankees)
0.40 Joel Johnston (1991, Royals)
0.44 Craig Kimbrel (2010, Braves)
0.66 George McQuillan (1907, Phillies)
0.67 Kenley Jansen (2010, Dodgers)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Carl Crawford

.280+ BA, 100+ HR, 250+ SB (Age 29, 1900-2010)
Cesar Cedeno
Rickey Henderson
Ryne Sandberg
Barry Bonds
Roberto Alomar
Edgar Renteria
Carl Crawford

Carl Crawford is most similar to Roberto Alomar and Cesar Cedeno at his current age, which is excellent company, but neither of them played well into their mid or late 30's.  After having one of his best seasons in 1980, Cedeno (who turned 30 in 1981), began his decline and never stole more than 20 bases again.  Alomar had four more quality seasons in him, but he declined in 2002 and retired when he was 36.

Crawford is signed for 7 years with the Red Sox, through age 36, so he will have a chance to become the first player in ML history with 35+ SB and 15+ HR in a season after the age of 32.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mark Reynolds and the Orioles

Mark Reynolds may be a good acquisition for the Orioles, who haven't had anyone hit 35 HR since Albert Belle in 1999.  Mark Reynolds hit 32 HR in 2010 and 44 HR for the D-Backs in 2009, so he has power.  He is also one of the greatest (if not the greatest) strikeout machine in ML history.  The Orioles have been pretty good throughout their history at avoiding huge strikeout seasons, but that is going to end.

Orioles (1954-2010)
160 Mickey Tettleton (1990)
125 Boog Powell (1966)
119 Adam Jones (2010)
119 Lee May (1977)

ML History (1900-2010)
223 Mark Reynolds (2009)
211 Mark Reynolds (2010)
204 Mark Reynolds (2008)
199 Adam Dunn (2010)
199 Ryan Howard (2007)
199 Ryan Howard (2008)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Derek Jeter: The Next 3 Years

It looks like Derek Jeter will be returning to the Yankees for 3 more years, during which he will mostly be between the ages of 37 and 39.  While the Yankees are certainly hoping that he can bounce back from one of his least productive seasons ever (he did score 111 runs, but his OPS was .710). 

He's probably never going to put up MVP-type numbers like he did in 1998, 1999 or 2006, but he could hit around .300 over the course of his new contract.  Even if he has a decline, Jeter is a great candidate to join this list in a few years. 

He's a future Hall of Famer, and he'll be hitting at the top of one of the best lineups in baseball as long as he's a Yankee.  What this shows is how rare it is for players to continue to put up quality numbers in their late 30's, but Jeter and the Yankees must believe he will be one of them for $17 million a year.

.290+ BA, 240+ R, age 37-39 (RHB, 1900-2010)

Bob Johnson, 1943-45

Hank Aaron, 1971-73
Paul Molitor, 1994-96

.290+ BA, 240+ R, age 37-39 (LHB, 1900-2010)

Jake Daubert, 1921-23

Ty Cobb, 1924-26

Eddie Collins, 1924-26
Tris Speaker, 1925-27
Sam Rice, 1927-29
Babe Ruth, 1932-34

Ted Williams, 1956-58

Barry Bonds, 2002-04

.290+ BA, 240+ R, age 37-39 (SH, 1900-2010)
Pete Rose, 1978-1980

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jason Heyward's Rookie Season

.390+ OBP, 200+ PA, age 21 or lower, 1st season (since 1900)
1923 Heinie Manush (Tigers, Hall of Fame)
1927 Lloyd Waner (Pirates, Hall of Fame)
1939 Ted Williams (Red Sox, Hall of Fame)
1948 Richie Ashburn (Phillies, Hall of Fame)
1959 Willie McCovey (Giants, Hall of Fame)
2001 Albert Pujols (Cardinals)
2010 Jason Heyward (Braves)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Clay Buchholz's Bizarre 2010 Season

170+ IP, 2.35 ERA or lower, 1.20+ WHIP

1900-1918: 38 times by 36 different pitchers

1919 Allan Sothoron
1919 Dick Rudolph
1919 Sherry Smith
1943 Max Lanier
1945 Al Benton
1946 Dizzy Trout
2010 Clay Buchholz: 17-7, 2.33 ERA, 173.2 IP, 1.20 WHIP

To show just how old school this season was for Buchholz, 12 pitchers have combined for 24 instances of 170+ IP and a sub-2.35 ERA since 1990, and Buchholz is one of only 2 to have a WHIP over 1.10 (Josh Johnson, 2.30 ERA, 1.105 WHIP, 2010)

Clay Buchholz (2010)
April: 2.19 ERA, 1.32 WHIP
May: 3.08, 1.42
June: 1.84, 1.00
July: 4.91, 1.36
August: 1.03, 1.00
September: 3.00, 1.33

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Is Luke Scott on the verge of a breakout season?

.280+ BA, .60+ BB/K, .10+ BB/PA, 20 AB/HR or less (batting title qualifiers, 2010)
Albert Pujols
Miguel Cabrera
Adrian Gonzalez
Joey Votto
Paul Konerko
Luke Scott

On this list, we have 4 of the top 6 HR sluggers in baseball (Pujols, Cabrera, Votto, Konerko), 5 of the top 15 (add in Gonzalez), and Luke Scott (tied with 3 others for 28th).  Luke Scott finished with a respectable 27 HR (especially in only 131 games), and it was his career high (in his 6th year and 4th full season). 

How many players achieved this in 2009? 12
Pujols, Mauer, Zobrist, A-Rod, Utley, Fielder, Teixeira, Derrek Lee, Votto, Tulowitzki, Youkilis, Zimmerman

It was more common in 2009 (and probably past years as well), but the names make the point: it's something elite players so (Zobrist was the one fluke on the list).  Luke Scott is not an established star, but he also didn't come out of nowhere. 

His BA, power, walk and strikeout numbers have been good and improving over the past few years.  He is 32, so his trajectory isn't the same as Joey Votto, but he could be on the cusp of finally becoming an elite hitter.  To see a couple of late bloomers, just look at the 2010 Phillies with Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth.

If Scott can stay off the disabled list (1 stint in 2010), he'll probably hit more than 30 home runs for the first time in his career and maybe help lead the Orioles to their first .500 season since 1997.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Could the Astros contend in 2011?

40+ wins, .sub-4.00 ERA (Post-All Star Break, 2010)

Playoff Teams
Phillies: 50-25, 3.39 ERA
Twins: 48-26, 3.80
Giants: 45-29, 3.20
Reds: 42-30, 3.80
Rangers: 40-34, 3.89

Non-Playoff Teams
Astros: 40-33, 3.69

The Astros improved both their pitching (23rd to 8th in ERA) and hitting (28th to 19th in runs) from the 1st half to the 2nd half.  Their starting rotation changed and improved quite a bit, even though they traded away long-time ace Roy Oswalt at the end of July.

1st Half
Wandy Rodriguez: 6-11, 4.97 ERA
Brett Myers: 6-6, 3.41
Felipe Paulino (put on DL in June, in bullpen after he returned): 1-8, 4.40
Roy Oswalt (traded to Phillies in late July): 6-10, 3.08
Bud Norris: 2-6, 5.97

2nd Half
Wandy Rodriguez: 5-1, 1.87 ERA
Brett Myers (signed as free agent in January 2010 after 8 years with Phillies): 8-2, 2.81
Nelson Figueroa: (claimed off waivers from Phillies) 5-3, 3.22
J.A. Happ (acquired from Phillies in Oswalt trade): 5-4, 3.75
Bud Norris: 7-4, 4.18

Their 2nd half rotation, while effective, is not very intimidating, but does have a lot of potential.  None of them have proven themselves to be consistent over a long period of time, but Myers, Rodriguez and Happ have had success, and Norris proved that he could be an effective back of the rotation pitcher. 

If they could hit (even at a mediocre level like in the 2nd half) and avoid a slow start (0-8, 8-18, 17-34 in 2010), they could be a surprise player in the NL Central.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Best players to never make an All Star Team?

Position Players

150+ HR, .280 BA (since 1933)
Tim Salmon
Aubrey Huff
Hal Trosky
Travis Hafner

.290+ BA, 1500+ H
Shannon Stewart
Hal Trosky
Juan Pierre

.875+ OPS, 1000+ PA
Tim Salmon
Hal Trosky
Travis Hafner

1000+ RBI, .800+ OPS
Tim Salmon
Hal Trosky

100+ wins, 3.30 ERA or lower
John Tudor
Don Gullett

100+ saves, 3.00 ERA or lower
Ron Perranoski
Huston Street
Frank Linzy

1000+ IP, 7+ SO, 3BB or lower
Aaron Harang
Alejandro Pena

165+ wins
Mike Torrez
Danny Darwin
Bob Forsch

1750 SO
Bobby Witt
Danny Darwin
Rudy May

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pitchers to watch out for in 2011

.500+ W-L%, 80+ IP, sub-3.20 ERA, 26 years old or younger (Post All-Star Break, 2010)
Daniel Hudson (White Sox, D-Backs): 2.07 ERA
Clay Buchholz (Red Sox): 2.20
Cole Hamels (Phillies): 2.23
Max Scherzer (Tigers): 2.47
Gio Gonzalez (A's): 2.59
Matt Cain (Giants): 2.91
Brett Anderson (A's): 2.98
Trevor Cahill (A's): 3.01
David Price (Rays): 3.09
Madison Bumgarner (Giants): 3.14

Some of these pitchers are well known from the postseason (Hamels, Cain, Bumgarner) and three of them could plausibly be included in the AL Cy Young discussion (Price, Cahill, Buchholz).  

It looks like the A's (81-81 in 2010) are loaded with a ton of quality young pitching and if they could start scoring some runs (they dropped from 759 in 2009 to 663 in 2010), they could be very dangerous in 2011 (maybe another Bay Area surprise?)

The biggest surprise is Daniel Hudson (started in A ball at the beginning of 2009) who was traded from the White Sox to the D-Backs at the deadline for Edwin Jackson, and it might be a trade that the Sox will regret. 

He had been less then inspiring in three starts for the White Sox before being traded (1-1, 6.32), but was one of the best pitchers in baseball after joining the D-Backs in late July (7-1, 1.69).

Another interesting pitcher is Max Scherzer, who can be dazzling, but hasn't been consistent enough until the last few months.  If he becomes the type of pitcher that people have been predicting, it could be an important part of the AL Central race.  Scherzer was stronger in August (1.29 ERA) than September (3.14 ERA), but it looks like he may have turned the corner and could emerge as a dominant pitcher in 2011.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Can the Rangers come back from 3-1?

There have been 3 previous World Series where a team has come back from being down 3-1, winning the final 2 on the road: 1979, 1968, 1958.

Not surprisingly, a common thread running through all of those series is that the winning team allowed very few runs over the final three games.

1979 Pirates (Orioles): 2 R, 27 IP, .67 ERA
1968 Tigers (Cardinals): 5 R, 27 IP, 1.67 ERA
1958 Yankees (Braves): 5 R, 28 IP, 1.61 ERA

Can the Rangers pull this off?  Unlikely, but they have the right guy pitching in Game 5.  Even though Cliff Lee was knocked around in Game 1, he still has great career numbers in the postseason and it's easy to imagine him shutting down the Giants in Game 5, just like he did with the Rays and Yankees. 

C.J. Wilson would start Game 6, and he pitched decently against the Giants in Game 2 (6 IP, 2 ER) despite the 9-0 final score.  In Game 7, the scheduled matchup would be Jonathan Sanchez v. Colby Lewis, and it's hard to see how that favors the Giants too much.  They would be at home (the home team has won the last 8 Game 7s), but the Rangers would have the momentum, and Sanchez has struggled recently.

Even though the Giants have been hitting well in this series (especially at home), they're not a great offensive team, so it's not out of the question for the Rangers to keep the score low.  Unfortunately for the Rangers, they have to face Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain in Games 5 and 6, so they're going to have trouble scoring too. 

The Rangers will be lucky to send the series back to San Francisco, but they have the pieces to go deep into the series too, as long as Cliff Lee starts pitching like Cliff Lee again.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tommy Hunter

The Rangers gave themselves a chance by winning the must-win Game 3, and now they have to win Game 4 as well to have a legitimate shot at winning the series.  Unless Cliff Lee starts game 4, it's going to fall on Tommy Hunter.  Hunter went 13-4 in 2010, but he wasn't called up from AAA until June 5th.

First 10 starts: 8-0, 2.31 ERA, 32 SO, 15 BB, 7 HR
Next 8 starts: 4-3, 6.39 ERA, 21 SO, 14 BB, 13 HR
Next 6 starts (including 2 postseason starts): 1-2, 3.45 ERA, 26 SO, 4 BB, 2 HR

Another important stat:

2010 (not including postseason)
Home: 7-0, 3.06 ERA, 41 SO, 13 BB
Away: 6-4, 4.48 ERA, 27 SO, 20 BB

Home: 6-3, 3.36 ERA 
Away: 3-3, 5.01 ERA

Despite his gaudy 13-4 record (he led the majors in W-L %), he has been inconsistent and probably won't shut down the Giants in Game 4.  The good news for the Rangers is that he is a much better pitcher at home and has dramatically cut down on allowing walks and home runs since mid-September. 

They probably can't expect more than about 5 or 6 innings out of him, but Hunter seems likely to keep the Rangers in the game and give their offense and bullpen a chance to win it.

World Series Sweeps

This might not be as relevant later tonight if the Rangers win, but the Giants have a chance to join an exclusive list of NL teams that have won the World Series via the sweep.

World Series Sweeps: National League Winner
1990 Cincinnati Reds (A's)
1976 Cincinnati Reds (Yankees)
1963 LA Dodgers (Yankees)
1954 NY Giants (Indians)
1922 NY Giants (Yankees)
1914 Boston Braves (A's)
1907 Chicago Cubs (Tigers)

World Series Sweeps: AL Winner (not Yankees)
2007 Boston Red Sox (Rockies)
2005 Chicago White Sox (Astros)
2004 Boston Red Sox (Cardinals)
1989 Oakland A's (Giants)
1966 Baltimore Orioles (Dodgers)

World Series Sweeps: (Yankees)
1999 (Braves)
1998 (Padres)
1950 (Phillies)
1939 (Reds)
1938 (Cubs)
1932 (Cubs)
1928 (Cardinals)
1927 (Pirates)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Franchises in their 1st World Series Appearance

Franchises in their 1st World Series Appearance (Since 1961)
1969 New York Mets: Won 4-0 (Orioles)
1980 Kansas City Royals: Lost 4-2 (Phillies)
1982 Milwaukee Brewers: Lost 4-3 (Cardinals)
1984 San Diego Padres: Lost 4-1 (Tigers)
1992 Toronto Blue Jays: Won 4-2 (Braves)
1997 Florida Marlins: Won 4-3 (Indians)
2001 Arizona Diamondbacks: Won 4-3 (Yankees)
2002 LA Angels: Won 4-3 (Giants)
2005 Houston Astros: Lost 4-0 (White Sox)
2007 Colorado Rockies: Lost 4-0 (Red Sox)
2008 Tampa Bay Rays: Lost 4-1 (Phillies)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Coming back from 3-1 (and winning the final 2 on the road)

Teams that have come back from 3-1, winning Games 6 & 7 on the Road
1958 Yankees - WS (Braves)
1968 Tigers - WS (Cardinals)
1979 Pirates - WS (Orioles)
1985 Royals - ALCS (Blue Jays)
2003 Marlins - NLCS (Cubs)
2004 Red Sox - ALCS (Yankees)

As rare as it is, the Yankees have a good shot at pulling it off.  Phil Hughes will face off against Colby Lewis again, and it's a toss-up.  The Rangers knocked Phil Hughes around a bit (7 ER, 4 IP), while Lewis was decent (2 ER, 5.2 IP), but the Yankees are unlikely to go quietly against Lewis. 

Then the only thing standing between the Yankees and a historic comeback and the Series is Sandy, Cliff Lee.  No, he's not Sandy Koufax, he's just a former Cy Young award winner who pitches like Koufax in October. 

The Rangers need to avoid feeling comfortable in Game 6 because Lee is waiting in the wings.  He's human, and he's bound to have a bad game eventually (he did allow 5 ER over 7 innings to the Yankees in Game 5 of the 2009 WS).  The Rangers are probably still going to the Series, but they need to get ahead early in Game 6 if they want to avoid being lumped in with the '03 Cubs and '04 Yankees.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Colby Lewis vs. Phil Hughes

The starters in Game 2 of the ALCS will be Phil Hughes (Yankees) and Colby Lewis (Rangers).  Phil Hughes did go 18-8, but he had a 4.19 ERA and inconsistent most of the season.  Colby Lewis was in his first season in the ML since 2007, after having played in Japan the last few seasons, and he had a rollercoaster season as well.

Lewis' final numbers (12-13, 3.72) were worse than you would have expected a few months into the season (8-5, 3.33 at All-Star Break).  He had some ugly outings late in the season, particularly against Minnesota on September 4th, when he allowed 9 ER over 3.2 IP.  The good news for the Rangers is that Lewis rebounded in his final 5 regular season starts, going 3-1 with a 2.39 ERA  He also pitched 5 scoreless innings against the Rays in game 3 of the ALDS.

Colby Lewis
Overall: 12-13, 3.72 ERA, 196 SO, 65 BB
Home: 6-4, 3.41 ERA, 30 SO, 7 BB

Phil Hughes had a sterling 18-8 record this season, but he struggled in the 2nd half, going 7-6 with a 4.90 ERA.  The Yankees have to be feeling good about Hughes now because of his excellent start against the Twins in the ALDS clincher, where he had 7 scoreless innings in his first postseason start (after 11 postseason relief appearances).  It was the first time he had at least 7 innings since July 9th, covering 13 starts.

Phil Hughes
Overall: 18-8, 4.19 ERA, 146 SO, 58 BB
Road: 7-4, 3.46 ERA, 63 SO, 19 BB

Who has the advantage?  They seem to be pretty even right now, but a lot of pressure would fall on Lewis after what might be a devastating loss tonight for the Rangers (it's not a good sign when you make 4 pitching changes in the 8th inning before getting an out, although they are still only down by 1 run). 

Lewis has gone through a lot in his career and succeeded (including a good postseason debut), but facing the Yankees in a must-win game in the ALCS is another story.  If the Rangers come back tonight, they'll still feel like it's must-win, but so will the Yankees (especially with Cliff Lee waiting for them in Game 3).  It should be a good battle between two pitchers with a lot to prove.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Former Playoff MVPs still in the 2010 Playoffs

Former LCS, World Series MVPs currently in the playoffs

Mariano Rivera, 1999 WS (Yankees)
Derek Jeter, 2000 WS (Yankees)
Andy Pettitte, 2001 ALCS (Yankees)
Mariano Rivera, 2003 ALCS (Yankees)
C.C. Sabathia, 2009 ALCS (Yankees)

Roy Oswalt, 2005 NLCS (Astros)
Placido Polanco, 2006 ALCS (Tigers)
Cole Hamels, 2008 WS (Phillies)
Ryan Howard, 2009 NLCS (Phillies)

Everyone Else
Troy Glaus, 2002 WS (Angels, Braves)
Matt Garza, 2008 ALCS (Rays, Rays)

Troy Glaus (Braves) might not be in the playoffs a few minutes from now (Giants up 3-2 going into the 9th), and Garza could be out if the Rangers win tomorrow.

Update: The Braves put up a good fight in the 9th, but ended up losing, so Glaus is out and Garza is the only player outside Philadelphia or New York left in the playoffs to have an LCS or WS MVP award.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Losing Game 1 to the Yankees

The Twins have lost Game 1 to the Yankees at home (they had a 3-0 lead in the 6th inning).  Add to this their dismal recent postseason history (losing in the ALDS to the Yankees in 2003, 2004 and 2009), and things are not looking good for the Twins (although if the Yankees revert to 2001-2007 postseason form, they'll have a shot).

Teams that have won series after losing Game 1 to Yankees at Home
NY Giants, 1921 WS (5-3)
Cardinals, 1942 WS (4-1)
LA Angels, 2005 ALDS (3-2)

Teams that have lost series after losing Game 1 to Yankees at Home
Pirates, 1927 WS (4-0)
Cubs, 1938 WS (4-0)
Phillies, 1950 WS (4-0)
Giants, 1962 WS (4-3)
Royals, 1976 ALCS (3-2)
Royals, 1978 ALCS (3-1)
Brewers, 1981 ALCS (3-2)
Braves, 1999 WS (4-0)
Mariners, 2001 ALCS (4-1)

This seems kind of short considering how many times the Yankees have been in the postseason, and the main reason is that the Yankees usually have had home field advantage in the Wild Card era..

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Regular Season Wins: World Series Champs

Regular Season Wins: World Series Champions: Since 1962 (after both leagues switched to the 162 game schedule)
  • 63: 1981 Dodgers
  • 83: 2006 Cardinals
  • 85: 1987 Twins
  • 87: 2000 Yankees
  • 90: 1974 A's, 1995 Braves
    • 2010 Rangers, 2010 Braves, 2010 Reds
  • 91: 1980 Phillies, 1985 Royals, 1990 Reds, 2003 Marlins 
  • 92: 1982 Cardinals, 1996 Yankees, 1997 Marlins, 2001 D-Backs, 2008 Phillies
    • 2010 Giants
  • 93: 1964 Cardinals, 1972 A's (*1981 Dodgers)
  • 94: 1973 A's, 1988 Dodgers
    • 2010 Twins
  • 95: 1991 Twins, 1993 Blue Jays
    • 2010 Yankees, 2010 Rays
  • 96: 1962 Yankees, 1992 Blue Jays, 2007 Red Sox
  • 97: 1965 Dodgers, 1966 O's, 1971 Pirates, (*1972 A's)
    • 2010 Phillies
  • 98: 1979 Pirates, 1983 O's, 1999 Yankees, 2004 Red Sox
  • 99: 1963 Dodgers, 1989 A's, 2002 Angels, 2005 White Sox
  • 100: 1969 Mets, 1977 Yankees, 1978 Yankees
  • 101: 1967 Cardinals, (*1995 Braves)
  • 102: 1976 Reds
  • 103: 1968 Tigers, 2009 Yankees
  • 104: 1984 Tigers
  • 108: 1970 O's, 1975 Reds, 1986 Mets
  • 114: 1998 Yankees
*1972 A's (93-62), 1981 Dodgers (63-47), 1995 Braves (90-54) played in strike shortened seasons; adjusted win totals based on W-L% over 162 game season

With their division-clinching win today, the Giants moved into the most prevelant win slot on this chart with 92 wins.  The Phillies (97 wins) are also in a good position, but that position is slightly worse than the Giants' based on one of those teams (1972 A's) having their W-L% adjusted in a strike shortened season and the fact that it hasn't happened at 97 wins since the early 70's. 

It's not much, but the Giants need everything going in their favor to win their first World Series since moving to San Francisco in 1958.

The 2010 Padres' Incredible Bullpen

5+ Pitchers, 30+ IP, 2.00 ERA or lower (Since 1880)
  • 2010 Padres
    • Mike Adams, Heath Bell, Ernesto Frieri, Tim Stauffer, Joe Thatcher
  • 1906 Cubs
    • Mordecai Brown, Orval Overall, Jack Pfiester, Ed Reulbach, Jack Taylor
  • 1907 Cubs
    • Mordecai Brown, Orval Overall, Jack Pfiester, Ed Reulbach, Carl Lundgren
  • 1909 Cubs
    • Mordecai Brown, Orval Overall, Jack Pfiester, Ed Ruelbach, Rip Hagerman
This is subject to change because not only do the Padres play today, but there is the possibility of playing not just 1, but 2 (!) tiebreakers if they win and the Braves also win today, and then they also lose against the Giants on Monday.  All five of them are susceptible to going over 2.00 with one bad inning, but it's amazing they're gotten to this point.

The comparison isn't exact either, because the early 1900's Cubs' pitchers had at least 100 IP, and often more than 200.  Even with evolution of the modern bullpen, the Padres might still be the first with 5 such pitchers since 1909.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Who should win the NL MVP Award?

There's a very good chance that Albert Pujols will not win the NL MVP Award for the for time since 2007.  It's probably going to be Joey Votto, and it will be well-deserved. 

Jayson Stark picked Votto in his recent year-end awards article, and after going through all of his excellent stats, put that one of the key reasons is that Votto has carried the Reds to the playoffs.  The Reds, as in the franchise that hasn't made the playoffs since 1995 and shocked the baseball world by winning the NL Central this year.

Despite a relatively low batting average (for him), Albert Pujols leads the NL in R, RBI and HR, and he would be the first NL player to do that since Mike Schmidt in 1981.

Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies) has amazing numbers too, but in a year when it's this close, it's probably going to someone on a playoff team.  That's not entirely fair (a team could falter down the stretch because of pitching while the MVP candidate is scorching), but it's a factor. 

               Votto    Pujols    Gonzalez
BA        #2 (NL)    6              1
OPS          1          2              3
OBP          1          2              14
SLG          1          1              1
HR            3          1              4
RBI           3          1              2
R               4          1              2
H               6          5             1
BB            3           2             79
RC            2           1             3 
TB             3          2              1
SB             26        29           11
RISP         2           4             3
BA: RO     1          14            6     

It could go to any one of these three players and be deserved, but it's probably going to be Votto.  He'll be seen as the key player in resurrecting one of baseball's great franchises, and he's the only one of the three that will be heading to the playoffs. 

Should he win? All three of them have the numbers, but Votto was also in the right place at the right time and took advantage.  It'll be tough for Pujols to lose if he leads the NL in R, HR and RBI, but he'll still be the favorite to win it next year.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Managers and the Hall of Fame

2400+ Games Managed (32)
  • Hall of Fame (20)
    • Connie Mack, John McGraw, Bucky Harris, Sparky Anderson, Casey Stengel, Leo Durocher, Walter Alston, Bill McKechnie, Joe McCarthy, Tom Lasorda, Dick Williams, Clark Griffith, Fred Clarke, Wilbert Robinson, Miller Huggins, Earl Weaver, Ned Hanlon, Al Lopez, Whitey Herzog, Lou Boudreau 
  • Active (6)
    • Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, Jim Leyland, Dusty Baker, Bruce Bochy
  • Elgible, never elected (5)
    • Gene Mauch
      • sub-.500 record, 0 Pennants
    • Jimmy Dykes
      • sub-.500 record, 0 Pennants
    • Bill Rigney
      • sub-.500 record, 0 Pennants
    • Chuck Tanner
      • sub-.500 record, 1 Playoff Appearance, 1 Pennant, 1 World Series (1979 Pirates)
    • Ralph Houk
      • .514 W-L%, 3 Pennants, 2 World Series (1961, '62 Yankees)
  • Retired, not yet eligible (1)
    • Lou Piniella
There are a number of other managers in the Hall of Fame with less than 2400 games managed, but almost all of them are in for their playing careers (Frank Robinson, Rogers Hornsby, Billy Terry) and probably the only modern manager in primarily for managing is Billy Southworth (managed the Cardinals from 1940-1945 and Braves from 1946-1951 with a .597 W-L% and 2 WS; elected in 2008).

As of today, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa are the only active (or recently retired) managers that are definite Hall of Famers.  Lou Piniella might be elected eventually, but his overall lack of postseason success will make it more difficult. 

Jim Leyland has a career W-L% under .500 and some agonizing postseason losses (1991, 1992, 2006), so he will probably have trouble too.  Dusty Baker needs a World Series win (it might be weeks away) in order to have a shot.  Bruce Bochy also needs multiple World Series titles to get into the discussion (his first might also be weeks away).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Year of the Pitcher

150+ IP, 3.00 ERA or lower (since 1979)

Top 6
1989 - 23
1992 - 22
1988 - 21
1985 - 17
2010 - 16
1981 - 16

Bottom 8
2000 - 5
1995 - 5
1999 - 5
1994 - 5
1987 - 5
2006 - 2
2001 - 2
2007 - 1 (Jake Peavy)

The current 2010 list: Felix Hernandez, Josh Johnson, Clay Buchholz, Adam Wainwright, Roy Halladay, Jaime Garcia, David Price, Roy Oswalt, Tim Hudson, Brett Myers, Clayton Kershaw, Mat Latos, R.A. Dickey, Matt Cain, Jon Lester, Johan Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez.

Some of these pitchers could be out with one bad start, especially the 7 between 2.90 and 3.00: Kershaw, Latos, Dickey, Cain, Lester, Santana, Jimenez.  Several pitchers could pitch their way into it it with a great start (between 3.00 and 3.10): Jared Weaver, Trevor Cahill, Cole Hamels.  There are no pitchers that are just under 150 IP and close to a 3.00 ERA.  With only 5 days left in the season, there shouldn't be too much change in the number of pitchers.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

AL Cy Young Race

All the contenders (Sabathia, Price, Hernandez) pitched tonight, and they were all superb.  A good case can be made for each of them to win the award, and it could end up being quite close.  A lot of people have been making the case for Felix Hernandez, and for good reason.  He leads the AL in ERA, IP and SO.  He is also on a terrible team that doesn't score any runs (Mariners are last in runs scored by a mile), so he's only 13-12. 

Normally, 13 wins would not be enough for a starting pitcher to be considered for the Cy Young Award nor would being only 1 game over .500 be good enough.  It's not like there isn't anyone else to consider: CC Sabathia (21-7, 3.18) and David Price (19-6, 2.73) have had great seasons, and so have Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. 

King Felix has had an unbelievable season and might have 25 wins if he were on the Yankees or Rays, so the desire to give him the award even though he has 13 wins is understandable.  There is one interesting stat to consider in evaluating King Felix: he has given up far more runs that Sabathia or Price that are not earned.  If you just look at their RA (not ERA), Price and Hernandez aren't that far apart. 

Should that matter?  I mean, they're unearned runs for a reason.  Every situation is different, but sometimes pitchers can get away with some bad pitching because of the ERA rules. 

One case is from August 15th, when Hernandez allowed 6 runs to the Indians, all unearned.  He got the first 2 outs, then his defense committed an error, and he gave up 6 runs in the blink of an eye, capped by a grand slam from Travis Hafner.  Hernandez did get the loss, but his ERA was helped by 6.2 "scoreless" innings. 

Didn't Sabathia and Price also have unearned runs?  Yes, but they combined for 16 (8 apiece), while Hernandez had 17 on his own.  It (like his W-L record) is probably the result of playing on a crummy team that commits a lot of errors, but that always plays a role in these decisions.  It's not clear whether Sabathia or Price will pitch again in the regular season, but they both finish strong enough to be legitimate Cy Young contenders. 

One wild card in this is that Hernandez will probably start in the final game of the season, while the other two might not.  He could pick up another win, pitch a shutout (imagine a no-hitter!), take a loss or have his worst game of the season.  I find it a little hard to believe that he'll win the Cy Young award with only 13 wins when Sabathia has 21, but a shutout on the final day of the season to bring him to 14-12 with a 2.20 ERA might be enough.

Monday, September 27, 2010

September Pitching (World Champions)

September Pitching (World Champions)
2000 Yankees: 27th in ML (5.67 ERA)
2001 D-Backs: 18th (4.62)
2002 Angels: 4th (3.21)
2003 Marlins: 11th (3.78)
2004 Red Sox: 18th (4.71)
2005 White Sox: 5th (3.50)
2006 Cardinals: 12th (4.27)
2007 Red Sox: 11th (4.31)
2008 Phillies: 7th (4.03)
2009 Yankees: 12th (3.96)

2010 (Teams in contention)
#1 Giants
#5 Phillies
#6 Twins
#8 Braves
#t-13 Reds
#16 Padres
#17 Rangers
#25 Yankees
#27 Rays

The average of the ten champions from 2000-2009 was 12.5, and the median was 11.5.  The Reds are the team closest to that right now because they are tied for 13th with the Mets (3.99) and they are very close to #12 (Mariners - 3.98 ERA). 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Evan Longoria

Evan Longoria was one of the trendiest pre-season picks for AL MVP.  He's had a very good year, but he's not going to win the MVP.  Compared to the lofty expectations, his season (.294, 22 HR, 104 RBI) seems like a bit of a disappointment.  The primary reason for the disappointment is that he had 33 HR last year and regressed to only 22 (and counting) this year. 

In other respects, (BA, 2B, SB, SO), he has improved over last year.  Considering all of that, I was a little surprised to see that he has the highest WAR (wins above replacement) of any player in baseball by a fairly wide margin.

WAR (100+ PA) 2010
7.6 Evan Longoria (Rays)
6.7 Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
6.6 Shin-Soo Choo (Indians)
6.5 Albert Pujols (Cardinals)
6.2 Adrian Gonzalez (Padres)

45+ 2B, 6.5+ WAR, 3B (100+ G), (1900-present)
Red Rolfe 1939
Wade Boggs 1986, 1988, 1989
Scott Rolen 1998
Miguel Cabrera 2006
Evan Longoria 2010

If he gets hot (although he'll miss the rest of the weekend with a quad injury), he could finish with a .300 BA, 25 HR, 100 RBI, 100 R and 50 2B, in addition to possibly another Gold Glove.  The Rays might be worried that he's becoming another David Wright, who continues to be productive, but who have seen a decline in power (26, 30, 33, 10, 25). 

It will be interesting to see if the experts pick him as the preseason MVP again or if they're scared away by the weak power numbers.  Everything else is still trending in the right direction, but everyone will be watching for the power to come back. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Will there be any 30/30 seasons in 2010?

Between 1900 and 1986, 30 HR/30 SB seasons were rare:

30 HR/30 SB (1900-1986)
1922 Ken Williams
1956, 1957 Willie Mays
1963 Hank Aaron
1969, 1973, 1975, 1978, 1977 Bobby Bonds
1970 Tommy Harper
1983 Dale Murphy

Starting in 1987, when there were 4 players (Joe Carter, Eric Davis, Howard Johnson, Darryl Strawberry), it become much more common.  From 1987-2009, 28 players combined to accomplish it 43 different times.  The only season that did not have a 30/30 season from 1987-2009 was the strike-shortened 1994 season, and that was exceedingly close (Barry Bonds had 37 HR and 29 SB).

As of today, there are no players with 30/30.  There are 2 players that still have a shot: Carlos Gonzalez and Chris Young.

25 HR/25 BB (2010)
Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies): 33 HR, 25 SB
Chris Young (D-Backs): 26 HR, 27 SB

Gonzalez only has 5 SB since August 24th, and he only has 1 game in 2010 with multiple stolen bases, so this is unlikely.  Chris Young has struggled in September (.194, 4 HR, 1 SB), but he is close, and that might give him the incentive to try stealing more bases in the final week.  It could end up being very close, but it looks like this could be the first non-strike season since 1986 without a 30/30 season.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

AL Cy Young Award - Update

Just when you think you know how the Cy Young races will shake out, everything changes.  Tonight was no different.  C.C. Sabathia looked like he had the inside track in the AL because he had 20 wins and the next highest win total was 18.  If he reached 21 or 22 wins, he'd be a lock. Tonight,  Sabathia faced off with Cy Young contender David Price in New York, and Sabathia ended up hurting his case.

Rays 10 - Yankees 3
Sabathia: L, 5 IP, 10 H, 7 ER
Price: W, 6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER

Not exactly a dazzling outing for Price, but he's now 18-6 with a 2.84 ERA while Sabathia is 20-7 with a 3.26 ERA.  He is also having a great September (3-0, 2.05 ERA), which voters will remember, while Sabathia's September ERA is close to 4.00.

A lot of people have been making the case for Felix Hernandez, and he pitched tonight too.  Tonight, King Felix had a stellar performance: 8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER...and he lost, because the Mariners were shut out.  His record is now 12-12, which has never been good enough for the Cy Young.  He has 2 more starts, so it isn't over, and 14-12 with an ERA around 2.30 could win it this year. 

Sometimes, though, life isn't fair and he could have 2 more great starts and get 2 more losses because the Mariners can't score any runs.  Would he win the Cy Young Award if he was 12-13 or 12-14?  Probably not.  With other plausible candidates, he'll probably need to be 14-12, which is still a possibility.

Sabathia, with 20 wins, would be a suitable choice if he doesn't get lit up again.  David Price (18-6, 2.84), Clay Buchholz (16-7, 2.39), Jon Lester (18-8, 3.06) and Trevor Cahill (17-7, 2.81) would all be reasonable choices as well, depending on how they finish the season. 

If Felix Hernandez and C.C. Sabathia finish strong, one of them will probably win it.  If they both struggle (or even just continue to lose), David Price could end up with the award at the last second.

It could come down to the final day of the season, and it might matter greatly whether Price gets 2 more starts.  He is scheduled to make his final start in the final game, but the Rays could get him extra rest for the playoffs.  If they have a chance of winning the division as opposed to the Wild Card, that could factor into whether he starts.

Top Starting Pitchers on Contenders in the 2nd Half (one team is dominating)

3.00 ERA or lower, 25+ IP (August, September), Contenders (Yankees, Rays, Twins, Rangers, Phillies, Braves, Reds, Padres, Giants, Rockies)
Cole Hamels (Phillies)
Roy Oswalt (Phillies)
Matt Cain (Giants)

This doesn't even include Roy Halladay, who might be the front-runner for the NL Cy Young Award right now (he's 4-0 in September, but he has a 4.55 ERA).  This is one of the main reasons why the Phillies are probably the only plausible World Series contender from the NL right now. 

Not only do they have the playoff experience and the offensive firepower (unlike the Giants or Padres), the front of their rotation is scary. 

Cole Hamels (2008 NLCS and WS MVP) and Roy Oswalt (2005 NLCS MVP) have been great in the postseason.  Roy Halladay has never pitched in the postseason, but does anyone think he won't rise to the occasion? 

The Phillies won the World Series in 2008 with a starting rotation of Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton.  With NL (finally) having home field advantage, the Phillies might be the favorite to win it all right now.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Update: NL Cy Young Race

Whether he deserves it or not, it looked earlier tonight like Ubaldo Jimenez was going to pull away with the NL Cy Young Award, because the Rockies had a 4-1 lead, and he would go to 20-6 with a win.  In the 5th inning, the Rockies are now down 5-4 and he could easily get the loss or a no-decision.  

His main competitor, Roy Halladay, won last night with a solid performance (3 ER over 7 IP), and he is now 20-10.  His ERA is 2.53, while Jimenez is climbing above 3.00. 

With his excellent record, Jimenez still has a shot even with a bad outing tonight, but he wasted a golden opportunity against the D-Backs.  Another competitor, Adam Wainwright, is 19-11 with a 2.45 ERA, and is still in the mix.  Jimenez could have lept ahead tonight, but he'll probably be lucky to get out of it with a no-decision and not a ton of damage to his ERA.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Daric Barton: Old School

100+ BB, sub-10 HR, sub-10 SB
1900-1925: 2 times (Jack Graney in 1916 and 1919)

1926-1953: 33 times

1962 Joe Cunningham
1074 Pete Rose
1978, 1982  Mike Hargrove
1986, 1988, 1989 Wade Boggs
2010 Daric Barton (A's): 103 BB, 8 HR, 7 SB

(Career) Sub-.265 BA, .365+ OBP, Sub-.400 SLG 1400+ PA (1900-2010)
1904-1916 Miller Huggins
1919-1929 Pat Collins
1936-1945 Larry Rosenthal
1939-1950 Eddie Lake
1944-1962 Eddie Yost
1971-1981 Bill North
1969-1986 Toby Harrah
1985-1999 John Cangelosi
2007-2010 Daric Barton

Monday, September 20, 2010

2010: A good season for closers

If Joakim Soria gets another save, and the 3 top closers (at least in total saves) continue to pitch well, this could be a record-tying year for closers.  The three top closers (Rafael Soriano, Brian Wilson, Heath Bell) all have 40+ saves an ERA under 2.00.  The only closer with 40+ saves and an ERA over 2.00 is Matt Capps, at 2.61. 

They're all perilously closer to 2.00, though,  with ERAs all between 1.82 and 1.87.  If Rafael Soriano gave up only 1 run without recording an out, his ERA would jump up to 1.98.  They've all come this far, so it's not a stretch to think they could all end up with an ERA under 2.00.  Soria is at 39 saves, and has a 1.61 ERA, so he would be safe even with a bad outing (he could give up 2 runs without recording an out and still be barely above 1.90).

If all 4 of them finished with 40+ saves, and a sub-2.00 ERA, it would only be the 2nd time that has happened in ML history.  A few bad innings could easily take it down from 3 or 4 closers to 0 or 1, but they've all pitched so well that seems unlikely.

40+ SV, 2.00 ERA or lower
4 2003 (Eric Gagne, Armando Benitez, John Smoltz, Billy Wagner)
3 2004 (Armando Benitez, Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera)
3 1998 (Trevor Hoffman, Michael Jackson, Robb Nenn)
2 1990, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2005, 2008
1 1983, 1984, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2007, 2009)
0 1900-1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1994, 1996, 2001

Could there be 5 this year? Yes, it's possible.  The only realistic (Mariano Rivera has the ERA, but he's only at 31 saves) chance is Billy Wagner, who has 35 saves, and a 1.43 ERA.  With 12 games left, that's possible if the Braves play well and have some tight games. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

September Giants?

I realize there are still 12 days left in September (so comparing their September pitching to other teams from completed months is a little premature), but the Giants pitching this month has been unbelieveable.  The bullpen, in particular, has been dominating, allowing only 2 ER in 39.2 IP (0.45 ERA; starters have a 1.45 ERA).

Top 2 teams, ERA, by month (2010)

Cardinals 2.65
Giants 2.75

Padres 3.08
Phillies 3.16

Padres 3.30
Rangers 3.40

White Sox 2.94
Reds 3.06

A's 2.83
Phillies 2.98

Giants 1.64
Indians 2.58

Despite their pitching, they are only 10-6 because they have the 3rd worst offense in September.  They are capable of scoring runs (2nd in July with 149 runs), but it's usually a struggle.  The good news is that their season will likely come down to the final weekend, with a 3 game series at home against another offensively-challenged team: San Diego.  Of course, the Rockies could blow past both of them, but at least the Giants will have a say in it with a series next weekend at Coors.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pitchers - Great performances through the 1st 4 years of their career

Best ERA, Through first 4 seasons of career, 200+ IP (since 1910)
2005-08 Jonathan Papelbon 1.84 ERA, 230 IP (Red Sox)
2007-10 Joakim Soria 1.99, 249.1 (Royals)
1913-16 Dutch Leonard 2.04, 941.1 (Red Sox)
2006-09 Takashi Saito 2.05, 245.1 (Dodgers, Red Sox)
1914-17 Babe Ruth 2.07, 890.2 (Red Sox)
1914-17 Mellie Wolfgang 2.10, 317.2 (White Sox)
1912-16 Ernie Shore 2.13, 613.2 (Giants, Red Sox)
1941-46 Howie Pollet 2.16, 563.2 (Cardinals)
1911-15 Jeff Pfeffer 2.16, 641 (Browns, Dodgers)
1915-18 Carl Mays 2.17, 959 (Red Sox)

What jumps out is that Joakim Soria is quietly having an amazing career, and could legitimately be considered a possibility for the Hall of Fame someday.  That will obviously be made easier if gets to play on some winning teams, either with an improved Royals team or somewhere else.  There are only 5 closers in the Hall of Fame right now (Bruce Sutter, Rollie Fingers, Googe Gossage, Dennis Eckersley and Hoyt Wilhelm). 

Of that group, only Eckerlsey closed into the 90's, and Sutter failed 12 years in a row before being elected in 2006.  Lee Smith and John Franco (#3 and 4 on the all-time) are not in the Hall of Fame yet either.  Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman should be first ballot locks, but the certainty ends there. 

Soria will have to continue this incredible pace for a long time, but a sub-2.00 through 4 full seasons shows that he has what it takes.

Best ERA, Through first 4 seasons of career, 200+ IP (since 1950)2005-08 Jonathan Papelbon 1.84 ERA, 230 IP (Red Sox)
2007-10 Joakim Soria 1.99, 249.1 (Royals)
2006-09 Takashi Saito 2.05, 245.1 (Dodgers, Red Sox)
1963-67 Frank Linzy 2.17, 294.1 (Giants)
1980-83 Steve Howe 2.17, 306.2 (Dodgers)
1988-91 Rob Dibble 2.21, 338.2 (Reds)
1979-82 Jeff Reardon 2.26, 310.2 (Mets, Expos)
1976-79 Bruce Sutter 2.33, 390.2 (Cubs)
1964-67 Bob Lee 2.34, 427.1 (Angels)
1988-91 Greg Harris 2.34, 403.1 (Padres)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Will Omar Infante qualify for the batting title?

Omar Infante (Braves) went into today's game hitting .340, the same average as NL league leader Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies).  He does not have enough plate appearances to qualify for the title now because he missed too many games earlier in the season (he's only appeared in 118 games so far).

He needs 503 plate appearances at the end of the season (3.1 PA for each scheduled game).  With 16 games to go, he is at 434 plate appearances, leaving him 69 short.  That would mean that he needs 4.31 PA/game. 

The good news is that he's hitting leadoff and hasn't missed a game since July 27th.  Unless he gets hurt, he probably won't miss another game because the Braves are in the middle of a tough playoff race and he is one of their best hitters.  Can he do it?

In his 14 games in September, he has averaged 4.57 PA/game.  At that pace, he would finish with 507 PA, so he probably won't be able to qualify until the final series of the year.  He needs a 20 inning game, where he gets 9 or 10 PA and at least a few hits.  He has been very consistent over the last few months (his average was .339 on July 31st), so he has a good chance of winning the crown if he can qualify.

If he plays in every game, he should clear the necessary number of the PA in the final sexries, which could make the NL batting race very exciting.

NL Batting Leaders, 400+ PA
Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies) .340
Omar Infante (Braves) .340
Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies) .322
Joey Votto (Reds) .321
Starlin Castro (Cubs) .312

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

NL Cy Young Award - 2010

With a few weeks to go in the season, it's down to 3 pitchers in the NL: Ubaldo Jimenez, Adam Wainwright and Roy Halladay.  Other pitchers in the NL are having great seasons, such as Mat Latos and Tim Hudson, but there's not enough time for them to catch up.

NL - Wins
18 W: Ubaldo Jimenez, Adam Wainwright, Roy Halladay
15 W: Tim Hudson, Chris Carpenter, Bronson Arroyo

If the pitchers with 18 had high ERAs or one of the pitchers with 15 wins had 1 or 0 losses or a historically low ERA, that would be different.  As it is, all three of the pitchers with 18 wins have low ERAs (between 2.44 and 2.75), and none of the pitchers with 15 are having incredible seasons.

Top 3
Ubaldo Jimenez: 18-6, 2.75
Roy Halladay: 18-10, 2.44
Adam Wainwright: 18-11, 2.50

There are many stats that could be examined in deciding a Cy Young Award, but here is something to consider: Since 1995, out of 30 possible awards, only 1 (!) winner had over 9 losses: Pat Hentgen, who won it playing with the Blue Jays in 1996 after going 20-10.  In fact, only one other pitcher had more than 8: Randy Johnson (17-9) in 1999 for the D-Backs, but he had 364 SO.

Yes, it happened 5 times between 1991 and 1993, but that was a long time ago, and the last 15 years are probably more telling.  That's not to say that Roy Halladay shouldn't win it because he'll have at least 10 losses, but any pitcher trying to win the award with that many losses is swimming upstream, and, obviously, the same goes for Adam Wainwright. 

Halladay is going to beat Jimenez on a number of fronts (WHIP, innings pitched, strikeouts, ERA, SO/BB.  Jimenez could get credit for pitching so well as a member of the Rockies, which has not happened very often. 

Prior to 2010, the all-time record for most wins by a Rockies pitcher in a single season was 17, held by Pedro Astacio (1999), Kevin Ritz (1996) and Jeff Francis (2007).  Francis was the only one with an ERA under 5.00 and it was still 4.22. 

Fair or not, Jimenez is probably in the driver's seat.  He has at least 3 more starts, and he could easily finish 20-6 with an ERA around 2.65.  It could be very difficult for Halladay to win the award if he's 19-11 and Jimenez is 20-6 if their ERAs are similar. 

That said, one bad outing could destroy Jimenez's chance if his ERA goes way up and he had to take another loss. If Jimenez slips, Halladay is next in line, and he'll have a strong case.  He leads the NL in IP and he has 201 SO vs. only 28 BB. 

The Cardinals are playing the Rockies at the end of the season, and while it doesn't look like Wainwright and Jimenez will face off, it's possible.  Any of these 3 pitchers can win it, and none of them can afford a misstep.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Update: AL Cy Young Award - 2010

David Price and C.C. Sabathia had their big duel tonight in Tampa and it lived up to expectations, although neither of them went home with another win.  The Yankees won 1-0 in 11 innings, with both Sabthia and Price went 8 scoreless innings.  Sabathia lowered his ERA to 3.03, while Price lowered his to 2.75.

Strangely enough, the other serious contenders, Trevor Cahill and Clay Buchholz, also faced off.  Last Friday, they went up against each other in Oakland and went in completely opposite directions.  Cahill went 7 scoreless innings, and got the win, while Bucholtz allowed 5 ER in 1 inning, and his ERA skyrocketed. 

That outing cost Bucholtz dearly, as it leaves him with a more pedestrian ERA (2.53) and still only has 15 wins.  Cahill has a slightly higher ERA than Buchholz (2.61), but he is 16-6 now.  His WHIP is almost much better then any of them, an impressive 1.05. 

With only 15 wins, it would be very difficult for Bucholtz even if everyone else implodes, and he also only has 152 innings pitched, 20 fewer than Cahill, 33 fewer than Price and 65 (!) fewer than Sabathia.

The list of serious contenders is down to 3 (Sabathia, Price, Cahill), with Cahill as the dark horse who needs to be exceptional the rest of the year and for the frontrunners to both falter.  Cahill should have 4 more starts, so he could end up with 19 or 20 wins, which could give him a shot if Sabathia doesn't get any more wins (he's currently at 19). 

If Sabathia can get 2 more wins and keep his ERA around 3.00, the award should be his.  If he has a couple of bad outings, and fails to get more than 1 win, then Price or Cahill could sneak in.

Top Contenders
C.C. Sabathia: 19-6, 3.03 ERA, 217 IP, 1.18 WHIP
David Price: 17-6. 2.75, 186, 1.21
Trevor Cahill: 16-6, 2.61, 172.2, 1.05

Sunday, September 12, 2010

NL West

The Padres are ice-cold (4-13 in their last 17 games), the Rockies are red-hot (10 game winning streak), and the Giants are playing solid baseball (9-3 in their last 12).  The Padres had a six game lead over their Giants 2 weeks ago, and they are now tied after the Giants beat the Padres today.  The Rockies were 10 games back as recently as a few weeks ago, and are now only 1.5 games out. 

It would seem that the Padres have no chance and are about to be cast aside by the Rockies juggernaut, but things can change quickly.  The Padres could remember how to hit or an injury could disrupt the momentum of the Rockies or Giants.  Even if a giant reset button were pressed tomorrow for every team, their schedules could still end up determining whether they make the playoffs or not.

It's not looking that good for the Padres on this front either.  They've been a good road team this season, although they have lost 5 of their last 6.  The fact that most of their final games are on the road wouldn't be such a big deal, but they are playing some of the best home teams in the league. 

The Giants, meanwhile, have most of their final games at home, and the teams they're playing aren't great road teams (and being a great road team almost always results in fewer wins than being a great home team anyway).

You have to wonder how much longer the Rockies can keep this up.  In 2007, they played well in late August and early September (although they were barely over .500 on September 1st), but didn't really turn on the jets until September 16th, when they began an 11 game winning streak (following a three game losing streak), eventually winning 14 of their final 15 and making it to the World Series. 

Even during their recent hot streak, almost all of their winning has come at home (only 6 of their last 20 games have come on the road).  If they have any problems at home, they could be in trouble.  It looks like it's coming down to the wire, and the Padres-Giants series in San Francisco from October 1-3 to close out the season could be the series of the year.
San Diego Padres:

43-32 Home (#17 in ML); 38-30 Road (#2)
7 home (Reds, Cubs); 13 road (Rockies, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants)

Home Record Ranking: #2 Rockies, #5 Cardinals, #10 Giants, #16 Dodgers
Road: #4 Reds, #16 Cubs
San Francisco Giants
42-27 Home (#10); 39-36 Road (#7)
12 home (Dodgers, Brewers, D-Backs, Padres); 6 road (Cubs, Rockies)

Home: #2 Rockies, #28 Cubs
Road: #2 Padres, #14 Brewers, #18 Dodgers, #28 D-Backs
Colorado Rockies
50-22 Home (#2); 29-42 Road (#19)
9 home (Padres, Giants, Dodgers); 11 road (Dodgers, D-Backs, Cardinals)

Home: #4 Cardinals, #16 Dodgers, #23 D-Backs
Road: #2 Padres, #7 Giants, #19 Dodgers

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Edward Mujica

20+ IP, 1 BB/9 or lower, 8+ SO/9 (Since 1900)
1989 Dennis Eckerlsey (A's): 57.2 IP, .47 BB/9, 8.58 SO/9
1990 Dennis Eckersley (A's): 73.1, .49, 8.96
2006 Ben Sheets (Brewers): 106, .93, 9.85
2008 Mariano Rivera (Yankees): 70.2, .76, 9.81
2010 Edward Mujica (Padres): 63, .86, 9.43

Edward Mujica (who pitched poorly for the Indians from 2006-08) was traded by the Indians to the Padres in April 2009 for either a player to be named later or cash.  He has the best WHIP of any pitcher with at least 56 IP and his ERA (a solid 3.14), like many relievers, was affected heavily by one bad outing (5 ER in IP on August 4). 

The Padres have a knack for finding quality relievers (Joe Thatcher, Heath Bell, Mike Adams, Ryan Webb), but with his amazing walk and strikeout totals, Mujica might end up being better than any of them.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

AL Cy Young Award - 2010

As of today, there are only 4 serious contenders for the AL Cy Young Award.  Things can change quickly, of course, and there are several pitchers who would be at the fringes of the debate (C.J. Wilson, John Lester, Carl Pavano) who could theoretically work their way into the debate with multiple shutouts in a row, but it's unlikely. 

There are several relievers (closers) who are having great seasons in the AL (Rafael Soriano, Mariano Rivera, Joakim Soria), but the last time an AL reliever won the Cy Young Award was 1992 (Dennis Eckersley), and none of them are dominating enough to be a part of the discussion. 

How their team does matters in the MVP discussion, but not in the Cy Young debate, so all of these pitchers have a chance.  People differ about how much wins/losses vs. ERA vs. sabermetrics, but Felix Hernandez (11-10, 2.30 ERA, 209 SO) still isn't winning.  It's possible to win it with a low win total (Tim Lincecum had 15 wins and Zack Greinke had 16 in 2009), but that seems to be much more likely when there is no 20 game winner (such as in 2009). 

It's likely that Sabathia will win 20, and have a decent ERA, probably making him the favorite.  Sabathia is also leading all of these contenders in SO (7th in the AL with 170).  He also had the best SO/BB ratio (2.58), but it's not extraordinary.  Cahill has the best WHIP (1.06 vs. about 1.12 for the other 3).  Other factors that might come into play are that Sabathia has already won a Cy Young Award (2007), and Cahill is only 22.

Unless Price or Sabathia have their ERAs skyrocket, it's probably too late for Buchholz or Cahill.  They're not going to get close enough to 20 wins to compete with Sabathia, but Price can.  Price won his start last night, so that gives him 4 or 5 more starts (probably 4 because the Rays are going to make the playoffs somehow). 

In 2007, Sabathia won the Cy Young with 19 wins, while Josh Beckett came in 2nd with 20.  Their ERA's were similar, but Sabathia had 40 more innings pitched.  Price is 30 innings behind Sabathia, but he ERA is significantly better, which would make it a close call. 

One really bad outing can change all of this (10 ER in 2 innings for Sabathia or Price), but barring that, it's shaping up to be a close race to the end.  Based on the schedule, it looks like they'll be facing each other in Tampa on the 13th.  Another thing to consider is that Sabathia will likely be pitching on the road (he's much better at home), while Price will be pitching at home (8-2, 2.16 ERA at home), which could give Price the advantage.

Serious contenders:
Clay Buchholz (Red Sox): 15-6, 2.25 ERA
Trevor Cahill (A's): 15-6, 2.72 ERA
David Price (Rays): 17-6, 2.87 ERA
C.C. Sabathia (Yankees): 19-6, 3.14 ERA

Likely opponents
David Price: (Yankees, Angels, Mariners, Orioles)
C.C. Sabathia: (@ Rays, @ Orioles, Boston, @ Toronto)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Middle of the order is a problem for the Braves

The Braves are 2-4 in September, after going 18-11 in August.  Their pitching is fine (6th best team ERA in September), but their lineup isn't producing any runs.  They finished August strong, winning their last 4 games (outscoring opponents 37-14 in the process), but they've only hit 1 HR as a team in September. 

If they don't come out of their team-wide power slump soon, it's hard to see how they hold off the Phillies (.5 game lead, down from 3 games at the beginning of September.

When you look at their lineup, the problems are obvious, especially the middle of the order.  As an example, I'll use their 3-1 loss to the Pirates on Monday, September 6th:
  • #3 Martin Prado
    • He's having a good year (.313, 13 HR, 61 RBI) and he is a reliable .300 hitter.  He's not a prototypcial #3 hitter, and for most of the year he's hit either #1 or #2 in the lineup. 
    • They are obviously missing Chipper Jones a lot, who has owned the 3 spot in the Braves lineup for many years.  It seems like it would make more sense to put Jason Heyward at #3, but he's only 21, and his power has been erratic.
  • #4 Derrek Lee
    • Lee is a great hitter, but he's having a down year, and he has not hit a HR since he was traded to the Braves on August 19th.  Troy Glaus put up good numbers early in the season playing first, but struggled and was sent to the minors. 
    • When Glaus a few days ago, he got a chance to start at first because Lee needed a day off to rest.  It seems unlikely that either of their aging veterans will give them a lot of power between now and the end of the season.
  • #5 Matt Diaz
    • Diaz has played sporatically this season, and is hitting .240 with 7 HR and 28 RBI.
In fairness, Brian McCann was getting the day off, and he usually would be hitting in the middle of the lineup.  He is a solid, consistent hitter that they can count on, but he's not in the lineup every day.  He was the cleanup hitter most of the year, though, and it might make sense to move him back there.  They have other players who can get hot and produce runs (Jason Heyward, Alex Gonzalez), but the middle of their lineup is weak right now.

They've also tried out Eric Hinske at #5, who is also not ideal.  If Derrek Lee starts hitting, everything could fall into place, but they are in trouble if they can't get any production out of the clean-up spot.  

Their schedule is manageable for the rest of the year, with 13 of their final 22 games at home (they're 49-19 at home vs. 30-40 on the road), including their last 6 games (final series of the year is against the Phillies). 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Starlin Castro

.315 BA, 400+ PA, 20 years of age or less (since 1900)
1907 Ty Cobb (Tigers)
1911 Stuffy McInnis (A's)
1928 Jimmie Foxx (A's)
1928 Mel Ott (Giants)
1929 Mel Ott (Giants)
1932 Arky Vaughn (Pirates)
1934 Cecil Travis (Senators)
1939 Ted Williams (Red Sox)
1955 Al Kaline (Tigers)
1959 Vada Pinson (Reds)
1996 Alex Rodriguez (Mariners)
2010 Starlin Castro (Cubs)

Starlin Castro (SS) was born on March 24, 1990, and he made his major league debut on May 7th.  He had a good start (.310 in May), but then struggled in June (.227).  Since the All-Star Break, he was been on fire, hitting .362, leading all NL hitters with at least 75 PA since the break. 

He has been hitting 2nd in the Cubs lineup recently, and has been tearing it up at home (.352 at Wrigley vs. .276 on the road).  Not surprisingly, he has been getting some Rookie of the Year buzz.  If the Cubs were a contender, he would have a chance for legendary status in the postseason because of his age, but there's always next year.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More great seasons from young pitchers

3.00 ERA or lower, 4+ SO/BB, 10+ Starts, 22 years old or younger (1900-2010)
1910 Walter Johnson (Senators) 1.36 ERA, 4.12 SO/BB, 42 GS
1966 Don Sutton (Dodgers) 2.99, 4.02, 35
1985 Bret Saberhagen (Royals) 2.87, 4.16, 32
2003 Mark Prior (Cubs) 2.43, 4.90, 30
2006 Francisco Liriano (Twins) 2.16, 4.50, 16
2010 Stephen Strasburg (Nationals) 2.91, 5.41, 12
2010 Brett Anderson (A's) 2.86, 4.70, 11

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Top 5: ERA and Runs

Top 5 in Runs and ERA by month (2010)
April - Rays: #1 R (144), #2 ERA (3.13) 17-6
June - Rangers: #1 R, #2 ERA (3.40) 21-6
July - Giants: #2 R (149), #5 ERA (3.41) 20-8
July - White Sox: # 5 R (140), #1 ERA (2.94) 18-8
August - Reds: # 5 R (90) , #3 ERA (2.96) 13-4

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mat Latos, Trevor Cahill, Dutch Leonard

100+ IP, 2.75 ERA or lower, 1.00 WHIP or lower, 22 years or younger (1910-2010)
1910 Walter Johnson (Senators): 370 IP, 1.36 ERA, .91 WHIP
1914 Dutch Leonard: (Red Sox) 224.2, 0.96, .88
1943 Howie Pollet (Cardinals): 118.1, 1.75, .97
1971 Vida Blue (A's): 312, 1.82, .95
1973 Frank Tanana (Angels): 288.1, 2.43, .99
1985 Dwight Gooden (Mets): 276.2, 1.53, .97
2006 Francisco Liriano (Twins): 121, 2.16, 1.00
2010 Mat Latos (Padres): 135.2, 2.32, .99
2010 Trevor Cahill (A's): 140.2, 2.50, .98

Dutch Leonard's 1914 season was one of the greatest of all time.  He started 25 games (17 complete games) and finished with an ERA of .96.  The only other pitchers in ML history to have more than 7 starts in a season and finish with an ERA under 1.10 were Mordecai Brown in 1906 (32 starts, 1.04 ERA) and Freddie Schupp in 1916 (11 starts, .90 ERA).  The Red Sox finished 2nd in the AL, and Leonard finished 16th in MVP voting (best of any pitcher).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Losing despite scoring 17+ runs

Teams who lost despite scoring 17 runs (since 1920)
1922: Cubs (defeated Phillies) 26-23
1932: A's (defeated Indians) 18-17 (18 Inn.)
1969: Reds (defeated Phillies) 19-17
1979: Phillies (defeated Cubs) 23-22 (10 Inn.)
2008: Rockies (defeated Marlins) 18-17
2008: Red Sox (defeated Rangers) 19-17

Monday, August 16, 2010

1st Overall Pick - Pitchers

#1 Overall Pick - Pitcher
1973 David Clyde
1976 Floyd Bannister
1981 Mike Moore
1983 Tim Belcher
1988 Andy Benes
1989 Ben McDonald
1991 Brien Taylor
1994 Paul Wilson
1996 Kris Benson
1997 Matt Anderson
2002 Bryan Bullington
2006 Luke Hochevar
2007 David Price
2009 Stephen Strasburg

The only two drafted straight out of high school were David Clyde and Brien Taylor.  Brien Taylor (1991) is the only pitcher from the #1 picks to never make the majors, with Steve Chilcott (1966) the only position player (Matt Bush, from 2004, drafted as a shortstop but now a pitcher, and Tim Beckham, a shortstop from 2008, still haven't made it either).

To date, none are Hall of Famers or even Cy Young Award winners (kind of amazing, although David Price could end that this year, and Stephen Strasburg will probably follow soon).  Although several came out of the gate strong (such as Ben McDonald and Tim Belcher), the pitcher that had the best final numbers was probably Andy Benes (155-139, 3.97 ERA). 

Teams have have much better success with position players at #1 (Harold Baines, Darryl Strawberry, Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Darin Erstad, Pat Burrell, Josh Hamilton, Adrian Gonzalez, Joe Mauer).  If you have the first pick and Stephen Strasburg or David Price is there, you probably have to take him. 

It's not always cut and dry (ask the Padres, who took Matt Bush in 2004 with Justin Verlander going at #2 to the Tigers), but most of the time it's not a good gamble.  I swear I heard on ESPN in 2002 that the Pirates thought Bryan Bullington (who just got his first career win, congrats) would be a middle of the rotation starter, yet still took him at #1.  The last two are on their way to great careers, but it's probably more of a fluke than a trend, and pitchers are still usually a bad bet at #1.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Starters with High Winning Percentages

180+ wins, .640+ W-L% (pitchers who started career in 1900 or later)
Randy Johnson
Roger Clemens
Pedro Martinez
Christy Mathewson
Lefty Grove
Pete Alexander
Whitey Ford
Lefty Gomez
Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown

Active pitchers: 140 W, .620 W-L%:
Andy Pettitte: 240 wins, .637 W-L%
Roy Halladay: 163, .660
Tim Hudson: 162, .661
C.C. Sabathia: 151, .637
Roy Oswalt: 144, .634

6 of the pitchers on the top list are in the Hall of Fame, with Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens still a few years away from eligibility.  8 of the 9 pitchers won at least 219 games, but Lefty Gomez won only 189 and still made the Hall of Fame (Veteran's Committee, 1972). 

None of the 5 active pitchers are locks for the Hall of Fame yet.  Pettitte's career ERA is almost 4.00 and he admitted to using HGH.  Halladay is clearly one of the best pitchers of his generation, and is seen as a throw back, which will probably help.  The problem is that he's already 33 and only has 163 wins. 

Voters have been reluctant to elect starting pitchers who failed to reach 300 wins, but that view will have to change eventually as fewer star pitchers even get close to that number. 

Tim Hudson had a great start to his career, but hasn't received a Cy Young vote since 2003 and it already 35.  He will finish with excellent numbers, but isn't a Hall of Famer.  Sabathia is only 30 and should win a lot of games pitching for the Yankees, and should have many chances for postseason glory.  We'll have to check back on him in a few years, but he has a shot. 

As for Oswalt, there have been rumors of early retirement for years, so it's hard to see him hanging around long enough to reach 200 wins.  He also hasn't been the same since 2005 or 2006, although he was very good until 2008.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The new and improved Baltimore Orioles under Buck Showalter

The Orioles are 9-2 in August, and 8-1 since Buck Showalter took over on August 3rd (they lost on August 1 by a score of 5-4 in Juan Samuel's last game).

Offense (Runs)
April: 75 (29th)
May: 100 (27th)
June: 98 (25th)
July: 102 (21st)
August: 52 (5th)

Pitching (ERA)
April: 4.62 (23rd)
May: 4.68 (T-24th)
June: 5.72 (30th)
July: 5.60 (29th)
August: 3.56 (T-12th)

A lot of players on the roster are having good months (Luke Scott, Brian Roberts, Ty Wigginton, Adam Jones), but one of the most encouraging signs has to be the Felix Pie is playing well. 

Pie was a top prospect about 4 years ago, and was supposed to be a 5-tool player, but it hasn't worked out yet.  He started off well this year by winning the starting left field position with a strong spring, but he went on the 60 day DL in April and didn't come back until April. 

He had a weak July (.222 BA, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 72 AB), but has turned it on in August (.350 BA, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 40 AB), having one of the best months of his career (not that there's that much competition; he was excellent in August 2009).  He also also good in April before he went on the DL (.400 BA in 20 AB).  If he's finally coming into his own, the Orioles could be set in left field for a while.   With Adam Jones, Felix Pie and Nick Markakis, they could have a solid outfield for years to come. 

The Orioles are still going to finish dead last in the AL East, but who would have thought they could go 8-1 under any manager?  Standing in the way of them making huge improvements over the next few years is the unbalanced schedule and the fact that the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays are in their division.  For the time being, I'm sure they'll settle for taking a shot at .500 (which they haven't been over since 1997).
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