Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chris Coghlan

Chris Coghlan was the NL Rookie of the Year on the strength of an incredible 2nd half, leading the ML in hits in both August and September (he had the highest 2 month hit total since Dale Mitchell in 1947). 

He clearly has talent, but the question is whether his rookie season (which was mainly the result of 2 great months) is a fluke or the beginning of a great career. 

One way to try and predict his future is to see which other players have had Coughlin-like season at a similar age (he turns 25 in June).  Fortunately for Coghlan and the Marlins, he is in good company:

Chris Coghlan (2009): .321 BA, .390 OBP, .460 SLG, 84 R

.320 BA, .390 OBP, .460 SLG, 500 AB in a season through age 24 (since 1942)
Ted Williams 1942
Stan Musial 1943-44
Willie Mays 1954
Al Kaline 1955, 1959
Mickey Mantle 1956
Carl Yastrzemski 1963
Rusty Staub 1967
Bill Madlock 1975
Fred Lynn 1975
Mike Greenwell 1988
Ken Griffey 1991
Frank Thomas 1992
John Olerud 1993
Alex Rodriguez 1996
Jason Kendall 1998
Sean Casey 1999
Albert Pujols 2001, 2003-04
Joe Mauer 2006
Miguel Cabrera 2006-07
David Wright 2007
Chris Coghlan 2009

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Johnny Damon: Hall of Famer?

New Tigers OF Johnny Damon isn't what most people would think of as a surefire Hall of Famer, and he probably won't have a real shot without 3,000 hits (he's currently at 2425).  He's 36, so that's a possibility, if he stays healthy for a few more years.  Impressively, he currently is at 1483 runs scored, and the 1500 runs scored club is very exclusive.

There were 38 players who retired before 2005 (and therefore eligible for Hall of Came consideration) with 1500 runs scored.

Elected to the Hall (35 of 38):
Rickey Henderson, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Lou Gehrig, Stan Musial, Dave Winfield, Jimmie Foxx, Mike Schmidt, Ted Williams, Yaz, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Charlie Gehringer, Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray, Al Kaline, Eddie Collins, Rogers Hornsby, George Brett, Mickey Mantle, Mel Ott, Sam Rice, Eddie Mathews, Wade Boggs, Al Simmons, Frankie Frisch, Reggie Jackson, Max Carey, Lou Brock, Paul Waner, Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Tris Speaker, Joe Morgan

Not Elected (3 out of 38)
Tim Raines (eligible since 2008, received 30% in 2010)
Roberto Alomar (barely missed being elected this year, his first year of eligibility with 73.7%)
Pete Rose (not eligible)

Retired with 1500 Runs since 2004
Jeff Bagwell
Barry Bonds
Kenny Lofton
Rafael Palmeiro
Craig Biggio

Active Players with 1500 R
Manny Ramirez
Gary Sheffield
Ken Griffey, Jr.
Alex Rodriguez
Derek Jeter

Increase it to 1600 runs scored (which Damon has a good chance at), the list drops to 26 players that retired before 2005.  Of those 26, 25 are in the Hall of Fame, and 1 (Pete Rose) is not.  If Damon gets to 1600 career runs scored, I think he should be a Hall of Famer even if he fails to get 3000 hits.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Padres should be improved in 2010

The Padres had a miserable season in 2009, finishing 20 games out of 1st place, which followed a 63-99 performance in 2008.  They traded their best pitcher, Jake Peavy, at the deadline, but there is hope that their pitching could be pretty good in 2010.  Fortunately, the team's performance improved as the season went alone, particularly the pitching:

Team ERA
Pre All Star Break: 4.70 (26th in ML) / 36-52
Post All-Star Break: 3.98 (8th) / 39-35
September 2009: 3.13 (5th) / 17-9
2009: 4.37 (17th) / 75-87

A few of their young starters emerged at the end of the season:

September 2009
Kevin Correia: 3-0, 1.25 ERA (12-11, 3.91 ERA in 2009)
Clayton Richard: 2-1, 3.12 (9-5, 4.41)
Wade LeBlanc: 2-0, 2.48 (3-1, 3.69)
Tim Stauffer: 1-1, 3.10 (4-7, 3.58)

Chris Young and John Garland will headline the rotation, and it's likely that Correia and Richard will be in the rotation as well.  The Padres have some other good options for their 5th starter with pitchers like LeBlanc and Stauffer, and some decent insurance if someone gets hurt. 

Their hitting is a different story: they finished 29th in runs scored throughout the season, although they  improved to 19th in September.  They showed that they can win with mediocre hitting and really good pitching, which will probably have to be their recipe for success in 2010.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hoyt Wilhelm

Hoyt Wilhelm, an unusual Hall of Fame pitcher who did not make his Major League debut until he was 29, and pitched until he was weeks away from turning 50, had a very impressive run in the 60's that has not been matched since. 

Since 1920, there have been only 162 instances of a pitcher finishing a season with at least 80 innings pitched and an ERA better than 2.00.  21 pitchers achieved this at least twice in their careers, but only 3 did it more than 2 times: Hoyt Wilhelm (6), Tug McGraw (3), Sandy Koufax (3). 

The only active pitcher with more than 1 such season is Pedro Martinez (1997 and 2000).  These type of seasons happened quite frequently prior to 1920, with Walter Johnson having 11 such seasons between 1907 and 1919. 

80+ IP, sub-2.00 ERA (Since 1920)
Hoyt Wilhelm (6): 1962, 1964-68
Tug McGraw (3): 1971-72, 1980
Sandy Koufax (3): 1963, 1964, 1966

Hoyt Wilhelm
1962 (Orioles): 1.94 ERA, 93 IP
1964 (White Sox): 1.99, 131.1
1965 (White Sox): 1.81, 144
1966 (White Sox): 1.66, 81.1
1967 (White Sox): 1.31, 89
1968 (White Sox): 1.73, 93.2

Another interesting fact about Wilhelm is that he was only a regular starter in 1 out of the 20 seasons that he was in the league.  It was in 1959, his 8th season, when he started 27 games (he only started 52 in his career out of 1052 appearances) and only relieved 5.  He pitched 226 innings that year (only time he ever went over 200) and led the league in ERA at 2.26.  In 1960, he started only 11 games, and only started 4 more games until he retired in 1972.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Team Pitching - September

Team ERA (Full Season Rank)
1. Angels: 2.96 (21st)
2. Reds: 3.04 (9th)
3. Dodgers: 3.08 (1st)
4. Cubs: 3.11 (5th)
5. Padres: 3.13 (17th)

26. Rays: 5.06 (15th)
27. Rangers: 5.07 (18th)
28. D-Backs: 5.24 (19th)
29. Nationals: 5.42 (28th)
30. Orioles: 6.22 (30th)

One of the biggest reasons that the Angels had such a good team ERA in September was that Scott Kazmir, who they acquired on August 28th from Tampa Bay, pitched well after struggling for most of the year, going 1-2 with a 2.01 ERA.  When they acquired him from Tampa Bay, he was 8-7 with an ERA of 5.92.  This offseason, the Angels lost John Lackey to the Red Sox, but they should be fine if Kazmir continues to pitch well.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Justin Verlander

It's good to see someone in Michigan who isn't having any trouble with employment.  Justin Verlander just secured himself an $80 million payday, and it's an understandable decision for the Tigers.  It would have been a disaster to lose him, he's only 26 years old and and he just came in 3rd in the AL Cy Young voting.  One really good sign for the future is that he led the ML in strikeouts with 269 strikeouts last year and improved his control. 

He's always thrown hard, so one might expect that he's always been a strikeout artist, but that that wasn't the case.  He was always decent at strikeout out hitters, but he really took it to the next level in 2009.

2006: 124 SO, 186 IP, 60 BB
2007: 183 SO, 201.2 IP, 67 BB
2008: 163 SO, 201 IP, 87 BB
2009: 269 SO, 240 IP, 63 BB

Since 1900, there have only been 15 instances of a pitcher with 269+ SO and 63 or fewer BB in a season:
Ed Walsh 1908
Sandy Koufax 1963
Denny McLain 1968
Fergie Jenkins 1970
Tom Seaver 1971
Roger Clemens 1988
John Smoltz 1996
Curt Schilling 1997-98, 2001-02
Pedro Martinez 1999-2000
Justin Verlander 2009

From that list, also with 19 wins and .679 W-L%:
Ed Walsh 1908
Sandy Koufax 1963
Denny McLain 1968
John Smoltz 1996
Pedro Martinez 1999
Curt Schilling 2001-02
Justin Verlander 2009

Verlander's final numbers last season were really good, but also misleading:

35 Starts: 19-9, 3.45 ERA
1st 4 starts: 0-2, 9.00 ERA, 21 IP
Last 31 starts: 19-7, 2.92 ERA, 219 IP
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