Sunday, August 28, 2011

Can Justin Verlander win 30 games this year?

Wins, postseason included (since 1975)
28 Bob Welch (A's, 1990)
28 John Smoltz (Braves, 1996)
27 Frank Viola (Twins, 1988)
27 Ron Guidry (Yankees, 1978)
27 Steve Carlton (Phillies, 1980)
26 Orel Hersheiser (Dodgers, 1988)
26 Curt Schilling (D-Backs, 2001)
26 Randy Johnson (D-Backs, 2001)

Justin Verlander has 20 wins going into September and is probably going to be pitching in the postseason (although the Tigers certainly know how to blow a big September lead).  If the Tigers run away with the division, he might get rested a little more, but he'll still get at least 5 starts.  He could easily join this list and move to the top if he continues his run (8 wins in his last 8 starts; 18-2 since May 1). 

It's hard to imagine the Tigers doing well in the postseason without Verlander pitching well, so 30 wins, while unlikely, isn't out of the realm of possibility.  He might have to carry the Tigers, 1988 Hersheiser-style, to the World Series, but he might be up to it this year.

Does anyone else have shot at 26 wins this year?  Probably not.  The only other possibility would be CC Sabathia, who is #2 in wins with 17 and is likely heading to the postseason.  He would need an extraordinary run in September in October to get 9 more wins, but it is possible with 3 rounds of postseason. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Michael Young

Michael Young: ML Rank (2003-present)
#1 30+ 2B (9)
#2 H (1775)
#2 200+ H (5)
#2 PA (6200)
#2 2B (339)
#3 G (1373)
#9 R (848)

.310, 800+ R, 100+ HR (2003-present)
Albert Pujols
Miguel Cabrera
Michael Young
Derek Jeter

Hits (Age 26-34)
1833 Paul Waner
1824 Pete Rose
1805 Ichiro Suzuki
1794 Lou Gehrig
1785 Stan Musial
1775 Michael Young

Seasons w/ 200+ H (since 1935)
10 Ichiro Suzuki
10 Pete Rose
7 Wade Boggs
7 Derek Jeter
6 Steve Garvey
6 Stan Musial
5 Michael Young
5 Kirby Puckett
5 Tony Gwynn

Michael Young is quietly having another excellent season, and has a decent shot at his 2nd batting title if Adrian Gonzalez falters down the stretch.  He has been a hit machine for nearly a decade, and has over 2000 hits to show for it. 

For most players, having 2000 hits at age 34 would not bode well for reaching 3000, but Michael Young has shown no signs of slowing down, having one of his best seasons this year.  The only other active player under 35 with 2000 hits is Albert Pujols.  If he doesn't get 3000 hits, he's probably not going to the Hall of Fame, but it is striking to see some of the company he is in even today.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mike Flanagan's Cy Young Season

Mike Flanagan, a fine pitcher and broadcaster who unfortunately passed away yesterday, reached the pinnacle of his career when he won the Cy Young Award in 1979 with the Orioles.  It was by far his best season, and the only season he received a Cy Young vote.  Looking back now, it might look like a typical Cy Young season (23-9, 3.08 ERA, 190 SO), but that might be because that type of season has become more common in recent years. 

23+ W, 3.10 ERA or lower, 190+ SO, .715 W-L%

1963 Jim Maloney
1968 Denny McLain
1971 Vida Blue
1978 Ron Guidry
1979 Mike Flanagan

1985 Dwight Gooden
1986 Roger Clemens
1988 Frank Viola
1989 Bret Saberhagen
1996 John Smoltz
1999 Pedro Martinez
2002 Randy Johnson

The main reason that the 1913-1984 list is so small is that so few pitchers reached 190 strikeouts.  If it had been 100 strikeouts instead of 190, the list would have increased from 5 to 18 pitchers.  Flanagan was not a big strikeout pitcher (1491 SO in 2770 IP), but he did strike out significantly more hitters than other pitchers had in similar seasons from the era. 

It's unlikely that a pitcher like Flanagan could put up those kind of numbers today without being incredible dominant (like Pedro or Randy), because pitchers don't start 38 games a year like Flanagan did in 1979 (no pitcher has started over 37 games since 1987).  His 1979 Cy Young season might not generally be considered one of the greatest ever, but it was somewhat unique and ahead of its time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Red Sox Dominance

3 pitchers with 50+ IP, .97 WHIP or lower (since 1900)
2011 Red Sox (Josh Beckett, Daniel Bard, Jonathan Papelbon)
2001 Mariners (Joel Piniero, Arthur Rhodes, Kaz Sasaki)
1964 White Sox (Eddie Fisher, Joe Horlen, Hoyt Wilhelm)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Who will win the NL West?

August team ERA
#1-4: .500 or above
#5: under .500 (Giants: 6-13)
#6-19: .500 or above
#20-30: under .500

The reason for the Giants problems is, of course, that they have scored the fewest runs of any team in August.  They were 4 games in front of the division in late July and now they're down by 2.5 games.  They have blown a golden opportunity to gain ground by losing their last two games against the Astros while the D-Backs have lost 4 in a row. 

It seems clear what the division will come down to in the final month: The Giants will pitch very well.  The D-Backs will play solid ball but probably won't be spectacular in any particular area.  If the Giants continue to hit like this, they will not make the playoffs.  If they can hit a little better (though still pretty bad, like 22nd as opposed to 30th), they might be able to eek it out. 

They've done it before (they were 25th in runs scored in July), so this will be what we need to watch in the coming weeks.  If the D-Backs can get back to playing decent baseball and the Giants don't start hitting soon, they could be out of it in a few weeks.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why are the Brewers pulling away in the NL Central?

2011 Milwaukee Brewers

Overall: 69-51
Home: 43-15 (#1 in ML)
Road: 26-36 (#22)

Home: 8-5 (#7)
Road: 5-7 (#23)

Home: 13-2 (#1)
Road: 4-10 (#26)

Home: 8-4 (#6)
Road: 6-9 (#22)

Home: 10-3 (#3)
Road: 6-8 (#16)

Home: 4-1 (#t-1)
Road: 5-1 (#4)

The Brewers have a solid lead in the NL Central (5 games over Cardinals) and are on the verge of running away with the division.  If the Cards can hang around a few more weeks, they'll get 6 more games against the Brewers over 9 days (August 30-September 7th). 

For most of the season, they were stuck barely over .500 despite their incredible play at home.  On June 30th, they had the best home record (29-11) and the 2nd worst road record (15-27).  If that had continued, they probably would have stayed in the race in a weak division but ended up not making the playoffs. 

Since the All Star Break, they played much better on the road, going 5-6 on a brutal 11 game road trip after the All Star Game and 5-1 on a recent trip (it should be noted that 3 were in Houston).

For the rest of the season, they have 23 home games vs. 19 on the road and many of the road games appear to be winnable (13 against Mets, Pirates, Astros, Cubs).  One good road trip could be a fluke, so it will be important see how they do on their next trip (Aug 19-24; 3 @ Mets, 4 @ Pirates). 

For most of the year, they loved hitting at home (#6 in runs) and hated hitting on the road (#24), but they did score 34 runs in 6 games on their last road trip (again, most against the Astros).  It will also be very important to see how Zack Greinke does on the road, because he struggled for most of the year but has been great in his last 3 road starts (2 ER in 20 IP).  The Brewers have a great shot at making the playoffs, and one of the main reasons is that they've finally become respectable on the road.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Verlander Show

Top 5, OPS Allowed (2011, 80+ IP)
.529 Justin Verlander (Tigers)
.536 Jered Weaver (Angels)
.547 Josh Beckett (Red Sox)
.565 Johnny Cueto (Reds)
.569 Cory Luebke (Padres)

Top 5, OPS Allowed (Post All Star Break, 2011, 20+ IP)
.514 Justin Verlander (Tigers)
.518 Erviin Santana (Angels)
.521 Tim Lincecum (Giants)
.541 Ricky Romero (Blue Jays)
.544 Matt Cain (Giants)
.568 Johnny Cueto (#10)
.585 Josh Beckett (#16)
.607 Jered Weaver (#19)
.683 Cory Luebke (#52)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Double Trouble

Years where no player had 50+ 2B (since 1954)

Ben Zobrist is leading the ML with 36 2B.  With the Rays having 47 games left, he is on pace to barely reach 50 2B.  There are other players right behind him that could catch fire too,with Adrian Gonzalez and Alex Gordon at 35.  If they don't, this could be the first time with back to back years without anyone having 50 2B since 1991 and 1992.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Award Winners, as of today

1. Ryan Braun
2. Lance Berkman
3. Matt Kemp

1. Curtis Granderson
2. Adrian Gonzalez
3. Miguel Cabrera

NL Cy Young
1. Roy Halladay
2. Clayton Kershaw
3. Ryan Vogelsong

AL Cy Young
1. Jared Weaver
2. Justin Verlander
3. C.C. Sabathia

These are as of today, and obviously subject to the change.  If Jared Weaver allows 10 ER in 2 IP in his next start, he'll drop precipitously on all lists.  These picks are who I think would win it if the season ended today.  It's also mostly who I think should win it, although I followed the patterns the awards have followed, such as the fact that it's nearly impossible for a player on a non-playoff team to win the AL MVP Award (A-Rod in 2003 is the only exception since Cal Ripken in 1991).  

These will change, because some players are coming on fast (including some not on the list like Justin Upton), and others might be falling (like Adrian Gonzalez).  There are some very tough calls (like leaving off Jose Bautista), but it's a snapshot that will need to be revisited.
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