Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More dominant pitching, 2011

20+ IP, 10+ K/9, 1.05 WHIP or lower (2011)
Carlos Marmol (Cubs)
Koji Uehara (O's)
Tyler Clippard (Nationals)
Sergio Santos (White Sox)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Oakland A's Starting Rotation: Unstoppable

Top ERA (Starters)
2000 Braves (4.06)
2001 Braves (3.54)
2002 Braves (3.42)
2003 Dodgers (3.49)
2004 Cubs (3.72)
2005 Astros (3.46)
2006 Tigers (4.00)
2007 Padres (4.11)
2008 Blue Jays (3.72)
2009 Braves (3.52)
2010 A's (3.47)
2011 A's (2.56)

Top ERA (Starters), 2011
1. A's: 2.56
2. Mariners: 3.14
3. Giants: 3.16

The A's have the lowest team ERA despite having the 19th best bullpen ERA because their starting pitching is so much better than any other team.  They might have trouble keeping up this prodigous pace, though, because Dallas Braden and Brandon McCarthy are both on the DL.  That means that two of the current spots in the rotation go to Guillermo Moscaso (1 career start) and Josh Outman (missed 2010 with Tommy John surgery). 

The top of their rotation is extremely good, but they will probably come back to earth too (Trevor Cahill, 2.02; Gio Gonzalez, 2.20; Brett Anderson, 2.84).  The A's are 3 games under .500, but only 2.5 games out because no one is running away with the AL West.  If they keep this up all year (a big if), it could be the most impressive performance for a starting rotation since the Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz Braves in the 1990's.  

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Michael Pineda's Incredible Start

2.50 ERA or lower, 4+ SO/BB, 1.00 WHIP or lower, 8+ SO/9, 30+ IP (2011)
Michael Pineda (Mariners)
Roy Halladay (Phillies)
Jered Weaver (Angels)
Dan Haren (Angels)

Pineda is a 22 year old rookie who has been dominating, especially in his last few starts.  His ERA went all the way up to 2.84 after his May 10th outing against the Orioles (6 IP, 3 ER), but his been lowered to 2.16 after his last two starts (2-0, 14 IP, 0 ER, 16 SO, 1 BB, 5 H).  Of this impressive group, he is tied for the more wins (6), has the highest W-L% (.750) and has the highest SO/9 (9.51).

2.50 ERA or lower, 4+ SO/BB, 1.00 WHIP or lower, 8+ SO/9, 125+ IP (1900-2010)
1965 Sonny Siebert (Indians)
1963-1966 Sandy Koufax (Dodgers)
1971 Tom Seaver (Mets)
1986 Mike Scott (Astros)
1997, 1999, 2000, 2002 Pedro Martinez (Red Sox)
2003 Jason Schmidt (Giants)

Sonny Siebert had a solid ML career (140-114, 3.21 ERA, 2 All-Star appearances, 307 starts), but his 1965 season was an abberation for him.  He followed up his stellar 1965 season (16-8, 2.43 ERA, 9.1 SO/9, 4.15 SO/BB) with an other gem in 1966 (16-8, 2.80 ERA), but he never replicated the strikeouts, dropping down to 6.1 SO/9 in 1966 and never went over 7 SO/9 in a full season. 

It's too bad that he had his best season in 1965, because there was still only 1 Cy Young Award for the entire league in 1965, and he couldn't compete with Sandy Koufax (Cy Young Awards for each league did not start until 1967).  He might have received some votes for an AL Cy Young award, although he probably wouldn't have won (it likely would have gone to Mudcat Grant, Mel Stottlemyre or Sam McDowell).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Johnny Damon Hall of Fame Watch

I wrote about this prior to the 2010 season, and it's a good time to look at it again.  In 2010, Damon had a mediocre season, but not completely unexpected considering his age.  He hit .271 with only 8 HR (compared to 24 in 2009), but he did have a somewhat respectable 81 runs in his only season with the Tigers. In the offseason, he signed a 1 year deal with the Rays and he's been even worse this season (.248, 18 R), although his 7 HR is impressive.

He appears to be on the decline, but he's still only 37 (although with 2300+ G and 10000+ PA, that is a lot of wear and tear).  He has over 2600 H, which is great, but not even close to the magical 3000 number.  He has a lot of impressive stats: 222 HR, 390 SB, .287 BA.  On the other hand, he's only been an All-Star twice and has never finished higher than 13th in MVP balloting.  You can easily look at that and conclude that he's not a Hall of Famer. 

There is one stat, though, where he shines a little brighter than you might expect: runs scored.  With his 1582 runs scored, he's 49th on the all time list and moving up the list quickly.  Almost everyone he passes on the way up the list now is in the Hall of Fame (he just passed Rogers Hornsby). 

The next 11 on the list? George Brett, Bill Dahlen, Ed Delahanty, Jake Beckley, Lou Brock, Roger Connor, Al Kaline, Fred Clarke, Paul Waner, Eddie Murray and Robin Yount.  All Hall of Famers, except for Bill Dahlen.  If Damon reached 1651 Runs scored (a realistic possibility if he plays next year), he would become 33rd on the all time list (right ahead of Joe Morgan). 

Out of the 32 that would be ahead of him, here is how is breaks down: 25 in HOF; 3 retired, not yet eligible (Biggio, Bonds, Griffey Jr.); 2 active (A-Rod, Jeter); Pete Rose; Rafael Palmeiro.  He couldn't do much better than that, but it still feels like he wouldn't get in.  That result might make sense in light of him never finishing higher than 13th in an MVP vote, but it doesn't make a lot of sense why everything would change if he had 3000 hits as opposed to 1650 runs scored.

There are 27 (soon to be 28 with Jeter at 2965 hits) players with 3000 hits and they're all in except for Biggio, Rose and Palmeiro.  Players have been getting into the HOF for accumulating huge amounts of some stats (wins, HR, hits) since it started.  It only makes sense than runs (which is ultimately what teams are trying to achieve) becomes a part of that too.  If he makes it to 1700 runs (a long way to go, but manageable), he'll be the 27th player into that group, and that should be enough. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Which teams are hitting better (or worse) in May?

Team OPS, Ranking (April, May)

Up (10 or more spots)
25 Padres (30, 5)
20 Braves (22, 2)
18 White Sox (25, 7)
14 Rays (20, 6)
12 Tigers (16, 4)
12 Red Sox (15, 3)

Down (10 or more spots)
22 D-Backs (7, 29)
21 Rangers (3, 24)
21 Indians (4, 25)
20 Brewers (5, 25)
14 Dodgers (13, 27)
11 Yankees (2, 13)
11 Cardinals (1, 12)

On May 3rd, the Tigers were 8 games behind the Indians and now they're only 3.5 games out after winning 9 of their last 10.  Surprisingly, Miguel Cabrera hasn't been a big factor in May after a big April.  It's been Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta leading the way, each with an OPS in May over 1.200.

Meanwhile, the Indians have stopped hitting, especially Grady Sizemore (he's also been hurt the last few days) and Shin-Soo Choo.  If they don't start hitting soon, they'll find themselves in 2nd place.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The top hitter with RISP is...Matt Wieters?

BA, 20+ AB (Runners in Scoring Position)
.545 Matt Wieters (Orioles)
.528 Michael Young (Rangers)
.500 Brian McCann (Braves)
.484 Jason Kubel (Twins)
.472 Matt Holliday (Cardinals)
.467 Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
.458 Travis Hafner (Indians)
.458 Adam Jones (Orioles)
.433 Chipper Jones (Braves)
.433 Lance Berkman (Cardinals)
.433 Martin Prado (Braves)

An impressive list, and it's not a surprise that a list of the best hitters with RISP would be some of the best hitters in baseball.  Last year's list (min. 125 AB) was equally strong: Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Hamilton, Joey Votto, Carl Crawford, Delmon Young, Carlos Gonzalez, Elvis Andrus, Albert Pujols, Nick Markakis, Jonny Gomes.  That list includes the AL and NL MVP (as well as the players that finished 2nd and 3rd in the NL too).

The player that jumps out of the most is Matt Wieters, who is only hitting .245 overall this year (although he has 7 hits in his last 4 games).  After a promising first season in 2009 (.288 in 96 games), he only hit .249 last year. 

He's been hitting at the bottom of the Orioles' order (mostly 8th), and while the Orioles probably are not expecting him to carry them offensively right now, he is an important part of their future.  While it's risky to go too much off of 22 AB at the beginning of the season, the fact that he is hitting .545 with RISP is a good sign. 

The Orioles are attempting to get some production out of newcomers like Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero, but it hasn't worked out very well.  Even if it did, it's a short term fix.  If they want to compete, they need Wieters to become a solid run producer that can hit in the middle of the lineup.  It's a small sample size, and it might be fleeting, but his early success with RISP shows that might happen soon.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What's wrong with Texas?

The Rangers were, at various points, 6-0, 9-1 and 14-7 before starting their decline which has resulted in them being 18-18 as of today.  They were 16-11 in April and are 2-7 in May.  They also lost 4 of their final 6 games in April.  What happened?

Offense (runs)
April: 140 (3rd)
May: 30 (15th)

Pitching (ERA)
April: 3.89 (17th) 
May: 4.76 (29th)

They've fallen 12 slots in each category, but it's the pitching that is most worrisome because they're not going to the playoffs if their team ERA is one of the worst in the league.  The offense is likely to bounce back because some of their best hitters (Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre) are mired in slumps that they'll probably be out of soon.  Offense will still be an issue if Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz don't come back and produce, but it should improve.

Some of their pitchers have been good in May (Alexi Ogando, C.J. Wilson, Dave Bush) and some have been dreadful (Cody Eppley, Ryan Tucker, Pedro Strop, Arthur Rhodes).  These four relievers have combined to for a 13.09 ERA over 12 appearances and 9 IP.  

The rest of the staff has a respectable ERA of 3.63.  Eppley made his major league debut on April 23rd and he allowed all of his runs in May in one disastrous outing against the Yankees (6 ER, .1 IP).  Tucker has been allowed runs consistently and he probably needs to improve quickly.

So, it might not be as bad as it looks, although they're a different team without Hamilton and Cruz.  They're fortunate to be in what might be a relatively weak division (although watch out for the Angels if they can get their rotation going behind Haren and Weaver). 

Their offense is still good (somewhere between 3rd and 15th without Hamilton and Cruz), and their pitching is serviceable, although they need to figure out the bullpen quickly.  It would help if they had another phenom come up from the minors like they did last year with Alexi Ogando, who debuted on June 15th and had an ERA of 1.30 over 42 IP the rest of the way.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Santana and Floyd

Gavin Floyd

4.00+ ERA, 25+ IP, 3+ SO/BB, 8+ SO/9
Ervin Santana (Angels)
Gavin Floyd (White Sox)

In his last start, Santana tossed 4 no-hit innings against the Red Sox before a rain delay that ended his day.  Floyd has had a couple of bad starts, including his last one (6 ER, 6 IP vs. Baltimore).  He's also had some excellent starts, including his second-to-last start (2 ER, 8 IP, 10 SO, 1 BB at Yankee Stadium.

Floyd has only finished with an ERA under 4.00 once (2008: 17-8, 3.84), but he has improved on his strikeouts, walks and hits allowed over previous years so far in 2011.  Santana has been inconsistent throughout his career, usually underperforming just when it looks like he's about to break out and become a top-line pitcher. 

That might happen again this year, but he is clearly better than a 4.43 ERA and maybe his last start was the first step in getting on track.  The pressure should be off a little bit this year too, with Haren and Weaver leading the Angels rotation.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Top Control Pitchers of 2011

Fewest BB/9 (20+ IP) (2011, 2010 or last season played, Career)
Brandon McCarthy, A's (1.02, 3.3, 3.2)
Jeff Francis, Royals (1.06, 2, 2.9)
Ricky Nolasco, Marlins (1.12, 1.9, 2.1)
Jeremy Guthrie, O's (1.13, 2.1, 2.6)
Kyle Lohse, Cardinals (1.17, 3.4, 2.7)
Jason Marquis, Nationals (1.31, 3.7, 3.5)
Roy Halladay, Phillies (1.36, 1.1, 1.9)
Cliff Lee, Phillies (1.37, 0.8, 2.2)
Dan Haren, Angels (1.43, 2.1, 2.0)
Tim Hudson, Braves (1.52, 2.9, 2.8)
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