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.
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