Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Guest Post: A Look at This Year's MLB MVPs

A Look at This Year's MLB MVPs


Although they weren't announced as winners until after the Fall Classic was completed, for the first time since 1988 the AL and NL regular-season MVP's (Detroit's Miguel Cabrera and San Francisco's Buster Posey) squared off in the World Series.

Having already established himself as one of the game's most consistent batsmen, Cabrera, in his fifth season with the Tigers, pulled off a baseball feat that hadn't been accomplished since 1967 by Boston's Carl Yastrzemski when he captured the rare Triple Crown. Cabrera's .330 batting average, 44 homeruns and 139 RBIs topped all AL batters, and the batting title was his second consecutive.

Posey took home the NL MVP following his 2012 season during which he batted .336 (tops in the majors), becoming the first NL catcher to accomplish that feat since Ernie Lombardi of the 1942 Boston Braves. Posey enjoyed a remarkable season, including catching Matt Cain's perfect game on June 13. He also made his first All-Star game appearance and was awarded the NL Comeback Player of the Year, having missed almost the entire 2011 season due to a gruesome injury suffered in a home-plate collision in May 2011. To add icing to the cake in 2012, Posey slammed a two-run homer for the Giants in the series-clinching Game 4.

Cabrera began his major-league career in 2003 with the Florida Marlins, becoming just the third player since 1900 to hit a game-winning homer in his big league debut. Batting cleanup and playing 1B, Cabrera's rookie numbers (.268 batting average, 12 HRs, 62 RBIs) were only a hint of things to come. In addition, Cabrera was a vital component in the teams' success, which culminated in a World Series championship in six games over the Yankees.

In 2004, Cabrera upped his numbers to .294, 33 HRs and 112 RBIs and was selected for the first time to the NL All-Star team. The following season, Cabrera continued his assault on NL pitchers, hitting .323 with 33 HRs and 116 RBIs. He also made the All-Star team again, and set a major-league record by becoming the youngest player in history to record back-to-back seasons of 30+ home runs. In 2006, Cabrera batted .339 (second in the NL), slugged 26 HRs and drove in 114 runs. He made his third consecutive All-Star game and had an eye-popping .430 on-base percentage. The 2007 season saw the 6'4 240-lb. Cabrera attain even more milestones when he batted .320 with 34 HRs and 119 RBIs and a fourth straight All-Star appearance. He also collected his 500th career RBI, becoming the third-youngest player behind Hall of Fame legends Ted Williams and Mel Ott to reach that mark.

In December, 2007 Cabrera was traded to the AL's Detroit Tigers and after negotiations, signed an 8-year, $185 million contract with his new team. The deal (at the time) was the fourth-largest in major league history. Moving to first base, he went on to set career-highs in both home runs and RBIs. In 2009, Cabrera remained a model of consistency, batting .324 with 34 HRs and driving in 103 runs. During the next season (2010), Cabrera put up his by-now-expected impressive numbers (.328, 38 HRs, 126 RBIs), but also suffered his first significant injury, a high ankle sprain which kept him on the bench for the season's final week. He also was named for the first time to the AL's All-Star team. Fully recovered for the 2011 season, Cabrera topped the AL in batting (.344), as well as hitting 30 HRs and driving in 105 runs. His .448 on-base percentage also led the league.

Cabrera's 2012 turned out to be one for the ages when he captured the Triple Crown, becoming the first third-baseman as well as the first Latin-American player to attain the rare feat.

As the fifth overall selection in the 2008 MLB Draft, big things were expected of Posey, and he delivered early on, batting .305 with 18 HRs and 67 RBIs during his 2010 rookie season. Posey earned NL Rookie of the Year honors and his contributions were critical to the Giants' postseason success, which saw the team capture their first World Series title since 1954. Posey batted .300 for the five-game series with the Texas Rangers, including a home run in Game 4.

Early in 2011, Posey was run over at home plate by Florida's Scott Cousins. The collision left Posey with a broken fibula and torn ankle ligaments, requiring season-ending surgery. Appearing in only 45 games, Posey nonetheless put up admirable numbers (.284, 4 HRs, 21 RBIs).

Showing no ill effects from his injuries, Posey came roaring back in 2012, becoming only the fourth catcher in the modern era to lead his league in batting. Posey was especially effective against left-handed pitching, topping the majors by hitting .433 when facing southpaws. The baby-faced backstop also shone in the postseason, drilling a grand slam in Game 5 of the NLDS versus Cincinnati to help San Francisco advance. That accomplishment made him only the fourth catcher in MLB history to hit a grand slam in the postseason.
Both Miguel Cabrera and Buster Posey are more than worthy of their many accomplishments in their relatively brief careers. At 29, Cabrera is just coming into his prime, while the 25-year old Posey already ranks not only among the best young hitters, but his field leadership and ability to handle pitchers has drawn admiration from the entire baseball community. Barring serious injury, it would come as no surprise for these two reigning MVPs to continue to be among the game's elite for several more seasons.

About the Author: Don Phan is an avid baseball fan and recommends FansEdge for the latest in official MLB apparel for all 30 teams.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Guest Post: A Look at This Year's MLB Rookies of the Year

A Look at This Year's MLB Rookies of the Year


Major League Baseball recently announced the recipients of the American League and National League Rookie of the Year awards, and there was not much suspense for anyone who followed baseball closely this season. Anaheim Angles centerfielder Mike Trout won the AL Rookie of the Year award while the Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper won the NL Rookie of the Year. Both players were very deserving of the award, and helped improve their team when they joined the big league roster early in the year.

American League ROY – Mike Trout

Mike Trout became the youngest player ever to win the American League Rookie of the Year award when he won a unanimous vote and received the maximum 140 points. After starting the season in the minor leagues, Trout was called up to the big leagues on April 28th. As soon as he arrived on the scene for the Angles, Trout helped spark what was an anemic offense at the time.

By the end of the season, the 20 year old Trout hit .326 with 30 homeruns and 83 RBIs. He also led all of Major League Baseball with 129 runs and 49 steals. The true definition of a five tool player, Trout also had an excellent defensive season for the Anaheim Angles and really put himself on the baseball map when he made a leaping, home run denying catch in Baltimore that was played over and over on highlight reels all season long.

With his .326 batting average, Trout joined an impressive list of players including Ted Williams, Mel Ott and Alex Rodriguez as the only players to ever have a .320 batting average in a season that they started when they were 20 years old.

National League ROY – Bryce Harper

On the same day Mike Trout was called up from the minor leagues to play for the Anaheim Angles, Bryce Harper was making his major league debut for the Washington Nationals. Harper joined the big league club with a lot of expectations on his shoulders, and he delivered in his first season in the major leagues to meet those expectations.

While playing multiple positions in the outfield for the Washington Nationals, Harper hit .270 with 22 homeruns and 59 RBIs while helping lead the Nationals to the postseason for the first time since 1933. Much like Trout when he joined the Angels, the Nationals were struggling a bit offensively when Harper was called up to the big leagues. Once he arrived in Washington and was inserted into the everyday lineup, the Nationals took off in the standings and never looked back on the NL East competitors.

During the NL Rookie of the Year voting, Harper received 16 of 32 first place votes to narrowly edge out Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Wade Miley. With his first full season in the majors behind him, Harper can settle into a more defined role for the Nationals next season and begin to improve upon his already impressive numbers to further meet the lofty expectations of the Washington Nationals.
About the Author: Don Phan is an avid baseball fan and recommends FansEdge for the latest in official MLB apparel for all 30 teams.



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What are the Tigers chances without home field advantage?


The Tigers are obviously at a disadvantage because the NL won the All Star Game again (Justin Verlander had a lot to do with that) and homefield advantage along with it.  How bad is it?

Since 1980, the team with home field advantage has won 24 of 31 World Series.  Of the 7 teams with without home field advantage, only 2 (1981 Dodgers, 1992 Blue Jays) lost Game 1.  The only other team on that list to need more than 5 games was the 2003 Marlins, and none of them won in 7 (the 1979 Pirates were the last team to win Game 7 on the road in the World Series, home teams are 9-0 since).

It used to be commonplace to win Game 7 on the road in the World Series (1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1962, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1979).  In fact, between 1955 and 1979, teams winning Game 7 on the road outnumbered teams winning it at home by an astounding 12-3.  The Tigers are no stranger to clinching on the road, they've done it each of the last 2 years in the ALDS (including in Yankee Stadium, where that has rarely been done). 

It is so unremarkable that it happened 3 times this year alone (every series except the Yankees-Orioles), but it almost never happens in the LCS either (the 1985 Royals, 1991 Braves, 2003 Marlins, 2004 Red Sox and 2006 Cardinals are the only teams to do it since the LCS became a 7 game series in 1985 compared to 9 victorious home teams).

Maybe the Tigers are different and can buck the historical trend.  Their starting pitching dominated the Yankees like it was the '63 World Series, so maybe they can still win the series if they lose Game 1 or go to a Game 7, but they will certainly be an anomaly if successful.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Final 4


ERA - Starters (2012)
#4 Cardinals 3.62
#6 Giants 3.73
#8 Tigers 3.76
#15 Yankees 4.05

ERA - Relievers (2012)
#14 Yankees 3.43
#15 Giants 3.56
#18 Tigers 3.79
#20 Cardinals 3.90

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Underperforming Yankee Hitters in the Postseason



Regular Season OPS, ALDS OPS, Postseason OPS, 2012 Postseason OPS
Mark Teixiera: .896, .829, .662, 1.056
Robinson Cano: .854, .778, .799, .833
Nick Swisher: .828, .702, .612, .500
Alex Rodriguez: .945, .723, .864, .311

Not all of these at bats are with the Yankees for Swisher and A-Rod, but the overwhelming majority were from their time with them.  A-Rod bailed himself out with a couple of great series in 2009, but his batting average in the postseason with the Yankees out of the 2009 ALDS and ALCS is .219.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Playoff Teams: 1st Half, 2nd Half


Playoff Teams: Wins Ranking, 1st Half v. 2nd Half
1. Yankees (11th, 2nd half)
2. Rangers (15)
3. Nationals (3)
7. Reds (2)
9. Braves (5)
11. Cardinals (12)
12. Giants (6)
13. Orioles (4)
16. Tigers (8)
18. A's (1)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Why are the Orioles scoring so many runs in September?


Orioles, Ranking (Runs scored, Batting Average)
April - #12, 14
May - #9, 21
June - #27, 26
July - #17, 25
August - #20, 21
September - #1, 7
Pre All Star Break - #19, 26
Post All Star Break - #7, 13
Overall - #13, 20

They've consistently hit home runs (ranked #3 pre and post all star game), but this is the first time they have had a quality batting average to go along with all of the home runs.  Impressively, they've done it without Nick Markakis, who was their best hitter in August, but hasn't played since September 9th. 

Matt Wieters, Adam Jones and Chris Davis are all hitting over .300 in September after floundering in August.  If they are able to continue hitting .300 into the playoffs, the Orioles could be a very dangerous team.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

End of the 100 BB season?


# of players with 100+ BB
2012 - 1 (Adam Dunn has 100 on 9/25, #2 is Ben Zobrist with 91)
2011 - 5
2010 - 4
2009 - 6
2008 - 4
2007 - 11
2006 - 13
2005 - 6
2004 - 9
2003 - 11
2002 - 12
2001 - 10
2000 - 17

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What is the the value of having the largest run differential


Biggest Run Differentials, Playoff Results
2012 Nationals (+129)
2011 Yankees (210) Lost ALDS
2010 Yankees (166) Lost ALCS
2009 Dodgers (169) Lost NLCS
2008 Cubs (184) Lost NLDS
2007 Red Sox (210) Won WS
2006 Yankees (163) Lost ALDS
2005 Cardinals (171) Lost NLCS
2004 Cardinals (196) Lost WS
2003 Braves (167) Lost NLDS
2002 Angels (207) Won WS

The Nationals are on pace to have the smallest top run differential of the last ten years (Texas is 2nd at 115).  It hasn't mattered that much, and the two teams that won the world series had much larger run differentials.  The Yankees have suffered from poor pitching and some bad hitting from star players in their playoff losses. 

Are the Nationals built for the playoffs?  They have the pitching, and their hitting has been decent (12th in runs overall, 5th in the 2nd half).  They will suffer from not having Stephen Strasburg and from not having a real closer, but the NL is wide open.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

2012: A New Record for Strikeouts


Strikeouts Per Game
2012: 7.47
2011: 7.10
2010: 7.06
1994-2009: between 6 and 6.99
1951-1994: between 4 and 5.99
1930-1950: beetween 3 and 3.99

Friday, September 14, 2012

Guest Post: Who Is The Most Valuable Player In The National League?


As the MLB season starts to wind down, the race for the NL MVP is heating up. Several players are in contention for the coveted MVP crown, and the race should be a good one up until the last days of the season. Here is a look at the front runners for this year’s awards.

Andrew McCutchen - Pittsburgh Pirates:

McCutchen has easily had one of the best seasons in recent Pittsburgh Pirates history. His .341 batting average and .409 On Base Percentage lead the National League. When you add in his 26 homeruns and 85 RBIs, it is easy to see why opposing pitchers do not like to face McCutchen on a nightly basis. If the Pirates can right the ship and find a way into the playoffs, McCutchen can expect to receive a lot of NL MVP votes.

Buster Posey - San Francisco Giants:

Posey is another player having an exceptional year. Posey is batting .330 with a .404 On Base Percentage, easily the best in both categories among catchers. However, playing out on the west coast may hurt Posey’s chances of claiming an NL MVP award as many baseball fans do not get to see him play on a daily basis.

Ryan Braun - Milwaukee Brewers:

Even though he plays on a mediocre Milwaukee Brewers team, Braun is having one of the best seasons in recent memory. Braun leads the National League in homeruns with 38 and is second in the RBI race with 100. He is just two RBIs shy of Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres, so there is a great chance that Braun will pass Headley before the season is over. The Brewers’ slugger is also batting .311 with a .388 On Base Percentage in a lineup that does not offer much support. If Braun was on a team in contention for a division title, he would easily be running away with the NL MVP race.

Matt Holliday - St. Louis Cardinals:

Holliday is another slugger having a fine season. Holliday is batting .304 with a .379 On Base Percentage for the Cardinals this season. The right handed slugger has also belted 26 homeruns and driven in 94 runs so far this year. If he can have an excellent end to the season and help his team make the postseason to defend their World Series title, Holliday could work his way into the top three in the NL MVP debate.

If the season were to end today, Ryan Braun would more than likely win the NL MVP award. His homerun total and RBI numbers would help set him apart from the rest of the field. While McCutchen is having a great year in Pittsburgh and definitely more important to his team’s success, Braun has had a better year in terms of individual stats. This could help propel him to the top of many voters’ list when they cast their ballots for this year’s NL MVP award.

About the Author: Don Phan is an avid baseball fan and recommends FansEdge for the latest MLB gear including official pro baseball jerseys for all major league teams.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Guest Post: Who Is The Most Valuable Player In The American League?

The MVP race is one of the intriguing stories as we head toward the end of the baseball season. There are several players who could very well win the award. Could Josh Hamilton find his way from relapse to redemption? Maybe Mike Trout will take the award. It may even be that a pitcher wins the MVP award this season.

Josh Hamilton

Hamilton is one of the most talented players in the league. He is first in the league in home runs with 40 and is first in the AL in runs batted in with 119. His batting average of .287 puts him within the top 25 in the AL. His story of overcoming personal demons could also help him win some votes.

Miguel Cabrera

Cabrera near the top in the league with a .326 batting average along with 35 home runs and a league leading 116 runs batted in. His 34 doubles also rank him in the top ten in the league. Considering that he is a key piece in the Tigers run for the playoffs, there is no reason why he shouldn't be considered.

Mike Trout

Could a rookie really win the MVP award? It is hard to argue that he hasn't been one of the most valuable players in the league this year. The Angels were floundering before he was called up to the big club in the middle of the season. In 117 games, Trout has 27 home runs, 77 runs batted in and has 44 stolen bases. His .328 batting average is also near the top in the AL. Mark Trumbo could very well be in this conversation as well, but he lacks the stolen base numbers as well as the high batting average.

David Price

Price is certainly going to be a strong candidate for the Cy Young award. While it is rare for a pitcher to win the MVP award, it could always happen. Price is 17-5 with an ERA right around 2.50. Those are the types of numbers that keep teams in games. If he has a dominating month of September, he could at least put himself in the conversation.

The AL MVP race is going to be a tight one throughout the rest of the year. How these players perform in September is going to determine how the voting goes down. Right now, it looks like Hamilton or Cabrera should finish first and second in the voting barring any kind of surprise.

About the Author: Don Phan is an avid baseball fan and recommends FansEdge for the latest MLB gear including official pro baseball jerseys for all major league teams.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Guest Post: Top 3 Most Dominant Pitchers in 2012


Top 3 Most Dominant Pitchers in 2012

Pitching in the MLB has been magnificent in 2012, but I’m going to narrow it down to the top 3 most dominate pitchers. Justin Verlander was undoubtedly the best pitcher in 2011, but some other pitchers have really stepped up their game in 2012.

This list was created based on analysis of several key pitching statistics including walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP), earned run average (ERA), strikeouts, opposing batting average, and wins.

As you probably noticed, I put wins last on the list because wins aren’t necessarily a good indication of how dominant a pitcher is. A pitcher could lead the league in every other category, but barely break the top 15 in wins. Win totals are completely dependent on the pitcher’s offensive support, how effective the bullpen is, and the amount of defensive mistakes committed. So keep this in mind when you read these rankings!

1. R.A. Dickey

Who would of predicted a knuckleballer to be the best pitcher in 2012? Mets’ ace R.A. Dickey has been the biggest surprise of the 2012 season. Not only is he having the best season of his career, Dickey has also proven to be the most effective pitcher in the league.

The numbers really do not lie. Dickey is currently ranked first with a 1.01 WHIP, first with 17 wins and 4 losses, fourth with a 2.63 ERA, and sixth in strikeouts with 190.

No other pitcher in the league ranks as high as Dickey for so many different categories. What makes his performance even more unreal is that he is purely a knuckleball pitcher. I don’t think there has been a knuckleball pitcher who has dominated like Dickey has in 2012, but his success is really no surprise.

A pitcher who can throw a knuckleball around 80 mph with accuracy, is practically unhittable.

First in WHIP 1.01, first in wins with 17, fourth in ERA (2.63), sixth in strikeouts with 190

2. Stephen Strasburg

Let’s face it, Stephen Strasburg is an absolute beast of a pitcher. Even with the Washington Nationals limiting his innings, Strasburg as still managed to compile 15 wins, and a ridiculous 195 strikeouts in only 156.1 innings.

That’s an average of 11.23 strikeouts per nine innings. If Strasburg wasn’t being limited to 5 or 6 innings per start, he would undoubtedly lead the league in wins and strikeouts.

Hopefully Strasburg can keep his arm healthy because there aren’t many pitchers who recover from two arm surgeries.

3. Justin Verlander

This choice may surprise you, but Verlander is still one of the most dominant pitchers in the MLB despite his lack of wins this season. Win total isn’t always a great indicator of pitching success or domination.

In fact, Verlander’s numbers aren’t much different than his 2011 MVP season.

2011: 24-5, 250 strikeouts, 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and a .192 opposing batting average.
2012 (current): 13-7, 209 strikeouts, 2.73 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and a .212 opposing batting average.

The only obvious difference is his win total, but Verlander currently leads the league in strikeouts and opposing batting average.

Honorable Mentions:
Felix Hernandez
David Price
Jered Weaver
Clayton Kershaw

I hope you enjoyed this article and feel free to disagree with any of my choices! My name is Nathan and I’m the owner of The Ultimate Pitcher, thank you for reading.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Albert Pujols


2012
Home: .262
Away: .314

Bases Empty: .268
Runners On: .316

Pre All Star: .268
Post All Star: .331

2009-2011
Home: .327
Away: .300

Bases Empty: .322
Runners On: .339

Pre All Star: .307
Post All Star: .319

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Guest Post: Are the Washington Nationals Legitimate World Series Contenders

Are The Washington Nationals Legitimate World Series Contenders?

Major League Baseball has seen a major shift in the balance of power this year. The Pirates and Orioles are contenders while the Phillies and Red Sox are languishing. However, the Washington Nationals are perhaps the biggest surprise in baseball this year. Could they possibly be a contender to win it all this season?

Is Their Hitting Good Enough?

The Nationals are not exactly a team that hits for a lot of power. On top of that, their hitters tend to strike out a lot. Nationals batters have combined for over 1,000 strikeouts this season. The playoffs are a time when a lot of games are won by a run or two.

It isn't uncommon to see a 1-0 game in the NL playoffs. Washington is ranked 12th or lower in the NL when it comes to stolen bases, triples, home runs and other power statistics. For what it may be worth, the Nationals have a .585 winning percentage of their games that are decided by one run.

What Do They Have Behind Strasburg?

Everyone knows that Stephen Strasburg is the ace of their staff. What most people may not realize is that the Nationals have a couple of pitchers that are putting up numbers that are just as good. Gio Gonzalez is 16-6 with an ERA a shade over 3.20. Jason Zimmerman has a 9-7 record this season. However, that also comes with an ERA of 2.54.

Why is this important? The Nationals plan to shut Strasburg down sometime in September when he reaches 160-180 innings pitched for the year. After his most recent start, he has pitched 145.1 innings. Washington has already ruled him out for Stephen's final 2-3 starts.

Winning it all depends on having a great closer. Someone who can shut down the opposition in the ninth inning is incredibly important. The Nationals have that great closer in Tyler Clippard. He has converted 28 of his 32 save opportunities so far this season. Opponents are batting just .166 against him.

Having The Best Record In Baseball Helps

At the time of this writing, the Nationals have the best record in all of baseball. This means that Washington would have home-field advantage for the playoffs if they finish the season still on top. The ability to play the first and potentially the last game of any series at home is a huge advantage. They will also get home-field advantage in the World Series thanks to the NL winning the All-Star game.

Washington currently sports a .600 home winning percentage so far this season. This is good because any team that is bound to win a championship is going to do so by making its home park a scary place to play. However, if they do have to win a game on the road, they can do that to. With a .641 road winning percentage, there is no doubt that the Nationals can close out a series away from home.

Can the Washington Nationals win the World Series? They certainly have the pitching depth that is needed to make a serious run. Their record away from home indicates that they will be able to handle going on the road. Championship teams have to win at least one road game a series. What it will really come down to is the hitting. If the bats get hot, there may be no stopping the Nationals.

About the Author: Don Phan is an avid baseball fan and recommends FansEdge for the latest MLB gear including MLB team baseball hats for all major league teams.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Max Scherzer's Unusual Season

Max Scherzer is having an unusual season that would put him in exclusive territory.  With another start, he would be one of only a handful of pitchers ever with at least 150 innings pitched in a season and an average of over 11 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. 

7 pitchers have combined for such seasons:
Dwight Gooden (1984)
Nolan Ryan (1987, 1989)
Hideo Nomo (1995)

Randy Johnson (1995, 1997-2002)
Pedro Martinez (1997, 1999-2000)
Curt Schilling (1997)
Kerry Wood (1998, 2001, 2003)
Max Scherzer (2012)

The problem for Max is that he would have by far the highest ERA (4.27) and WHIP (1.37) of them.  The highest ERA in any of the previous 18 seasons was 3.40 (Kerry Wood's rookie season in 1998) and the highest WHIP was 1.26 (Kerry Wood in 2001).  His walk rate isn't terrible (3.2 BB/9), but he is surprisingly hittable for a great strikeout pitcher. 

The league is hitting .265 against him, making him 66th among qualified pitchers, right alongside Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke.   He has also given up 22 home runs, tied for 15th most in the league despite being 55th in innings pitched.  To be fair, he is still being haunted by his terrible April (1-3, 7.77 ERA 24.1 IP, 37 H, 13 BB).  He is not having a bad season (13-6), but a very unusual one that could make him an outlier in a very exclusive club.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Playoff Contenders - Part 1

Playoff Contenders (Non Shoe-Ins) Post All Star Break: Ranking ERA, Runs, Average
Braves # 2 ERA, # 9 Runs = 6.5 (average)
Giants 9, 4 = 6.5
D-Backs 11, 6 = 8.5
A's 10, 8 = 9
Cardinals 3, 18 = 10.5
Dodgers 5, 17 = 11
Rays 1, 22 = 11.5
Tigers 15, 10 = 12.5
White Sox 18, 13 = 15.5
Angels 30, 3 = 16.5
Pirates 19, 14 = 16.5
Orioles 16, 19 = 17.5

Saturday, August 11, 2012

How are the Orioles staying in the race with a negative run differential?


One of the more bizarre things in baseball right now is that the Orioles are in the playoff hunt (tied for Wild Card lead) despite have a run differential of -47.  Of the 16 teams over .500, they are the only one with a negative run differential and it's a pretty high one.  How high?  The closest team to it is San Diego, and they're 14 games under .500 (50-64).

What's going on here?  Part of it could be their extraordinary ability to win extra inning games.  They are 12-2 in extra inning games, and 22-6 in one run games.  They also have gotten blown out a fair amount, which gives them a relatively high team ERA (4.07, 19th) despite decent pitching.  Dig into the numbers a bit, and it's because of their epic struggles against 3 teams: Mets, Rangers, Angels.

Mets: 0-3, -11
Rangers: 1-3, -21
Angels: 2-7, -31

vs. Mets, Rangers, Angels: 3-13, -63
vs. Everyone Else: 58-39, +16

The one series against Texas (May 7-10) looks bad because they gave up a combined 24 runs over the first 2 games, but only 12 over the next 2. 

The good news is that they are done with the Mets and Angels and only have 3 games left against the Rangers (in Texas, August 20-22). Aside from losing 13-1 on June 27, their main problem against the Angels has been scoring runs (only 23 in 9 games).

Their schedule is not going to be easy.  They have series coming up against the Tigers, Yankees, Rays and A's.  The fact that they are nearly finished with the Rangers, and have nothing left against the Angels or Mets, doesn't mean that all their problems go away.  It does seem, though, that they were unusually weak against those opponents and it might help them get to a positive run differential before the season is over.

Friday, August 3, 2012

One Reason the Dodgers are in Trouble


Lowest Slugging %
2000: Devil Rays (69-92)
2001: Orioles (63-98)
2002: Tigers (55-106)
2003: Dodgers (85-77)
2004: Brewers (67-94)
2005: Nationals (81-81)
2006: Pirates (67-95)
2007: Giants (71-91)
2008: A's (75-86)
2009: Padres (75-87)
2010: Mariners (61-101)
2011: Mariners (67-95)
2012: Dodgers (57-50)

The Dodgers are in contention, in part because the Giants haven't been able to pull away.  Los Angeles was 30-13 on May 22 and 42-25 on June 17th, have slipped all the way to 57-50.  They lost Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier to injuries for some time, and while they have returned, the power has not.  They don't have any other legitimate power threats in the lineup, although they're hoping that Hanley Ramirez can return to form (he hit 33 HR in 2008). 

As you can see (and as common sense would dictate), having the lowest slugging percentage is a serious problem.  The Dodgers aren't in danger of losing 90 games, but none of these teams made the playoffs (the 2003 Dodgers had the best ERA and scored the fewest runs, and missed the playoffs). 

If Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier start hitting some home runs (or someone else like AJ Ellis, who hit 2 tonight), then they should be in decent shape.  If they continue to have the lowest slugging percentage, they'll have to defy history to make the playoffs.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Guest Post - Three MLB Teams That Could Become This Year's Cardinals

Three MLB Teams That Could Become This Year's Cardinals

By now, everyone knows the story of the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals. A team that was virtually out of the playoff race, they went on an amazing run via a combination of skill and good timing to eventually win the World Series. Few people had the team even making the playoffs at this time last year.

Although what the Cardinals did isn't necessarily likely to be replicated anytime soon, that doesn't mean an underdog can't rise up and make some noise this season. This may be truer than ever, considering the new format of the Wild Card games. Two teams will now face off in a one-game Wild Card playoff, and the winner of that team will get a chance to make a run for the ages. Again, it's unlikely that another heavy underdog will make that leap, but a few teams right now have that look.

The first team that has to be on a lot of fans' radars is the Los Angeles Angels. Although July was a relatively ho-hum month for the Angels, there are several reasons to be optimistic. Most notably, the team just acquired right-handed pitcher Zach Greinke. In trading for the former Brewer, the Angels have strengthened their bullpen significantly. Between Greinke, Weaver and the rest of their stable of pitchers, the Angels appear well-positioned to take on any team in the postseason.

On top of this acquisition, the Angels also just had Vernon Wells come off of the DL. Although Wells has essentially lost his job to the sudden superstar Mike Trout, his presence is still going to be beneficial to the team. He'll be used sparingly, but will provide good insurance in case a player in front of him in the lineup should go down with an injury. Add in the fact that the team also has slugger Albert Pujols, who led that 2011 Cardinals team to the championship, and no one should be writing off the Angels just yet.

However, the Angels catching fire in the postseason would be contingent on the team winning their Wild Card game. That's no short order, considering that right now the team is scheduled to face the Oakland Athletics - a team that may be gearing up for a memorable run of its own. Some of the team's best baseball came during the month of July, as the A's went an impressive 19-5, knocking off the Yankees four times in a row and winning two of three contests against the Texas Rangers. They've gotten consistent pitching from Tommy Milone and Jarrod Parker, but the production in the batter's box from Josh Reddick and others also shouldn't be overlooked.

Finally, moving away from the American League, the Braves might be the National League team that looks best suited to surprise. The club had a setback when rising star Brandon Beachy went down with an injury requiring Tommy John surgery, but they've managed to continue to rack up victories in his absence. The team was looking to acquire former Cub Ryan Dempster to fill the his void, as well as the make up for the lack of production from struggling pitcher Jair Jurrjens, but the proposed trade ultimately fell short. Despite questions about how well their bullpen can hold up its end of the deal, the Braves managed to put together an impressive July where the team went 18-8 and won their last 7 ball games.

Surprise successes aren't always the case in sports, but Major League Baseball has certainly made the prospect of one more enticing with the new Wild Card format. An extra team in each league has a chance in the playoffs now, and that can only be seen as a positive. Incumbents like the Yankees and Rangers are fun to watch, but if one of these Wild Card teams manages to keep it together in the postseason, the whole baseball world will be on notice.

About the Author: Don Phan is an avid baseball fan and maintains a growing collection of sports collectibles as a hobby. His top baseball moment is sitting in the PNC Suites at Wrigley Field in 2012 with free food and drinks all game long.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Guest Post: MLB Prospects: The Next 5 Young Stars Who Could Debut and Impact their Teams in 2012


MLB Prospects: The Next 5 Young Stars Who Could Debut and Impact their Teams in 2012

This is a guest post submitted by Chris Ludwig. Chris played a wide variety of sports growing up and now passionately follows everything sports, especially Detroit sports. He works with Phoenix Bats, a company that creates world-class wood bats for amateur and professional ball players around the world. Chris enjoys writing on different sports topics and is very grateful to be able to contribute here.


The 2012 season has already seen young prospects making solid impacts—Mike Trout has given the Los Angeles Angels a huge lift with his hot start, and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has helped solidify the outfield as the Nats continue to set the pace in the NL East Division.

Both Harper and Trout made their debuts in late April after spending the early part of the season in the minors. Here are five other prospects who could step up and make an impact for their teams in 2012.

Wil Myers: Kansas City Royals
The question surrounding outfield prospect Wil Myers isn’t about how good he will be, but about when he’ll be showing off his talents at the major league level.

Myers has been ripping minor league pitching all season long to the tune of a .319 average, 28 HR and 76 RBI through mid-July. Myers will likely be starring in the Kansas City Royals’ outfield within a matter of weeks.

Danny Hultzen: Seattle Mariners
When Seattle Mariners pitching prospect Danny Hultzen made his professional debut this season, he toyed with hitters at the Double-A level, posting an 8-3 record, a 1.19 ERA and giving up just 38 hits in 75.1 innings.

Hultzen has cooled a bit since being promoted to Triple-A Tacoma, posting a 3.52 ERA in his first five starts, but he is clearly on the fast track and could very well be seen at Safeco Field by the end of the season.

Josh Vitters: Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs promoted highly-touted first base prospect Anthony Rizzo back in June, and he has flourished, hitting .330 in his first 17 games. Could third base prospect Josh Vitters be far behind?

Vitters was the third overall pick by the Cubs in the 2007 MLB Draft, and he has steadily progressed at the minor league level, now hitting .297 with 13 HR and 52 RBI at Triple-A Iowa through mid-July. Vitters is the long-term solution at the hot corner for the Cubs, and his debut could come sooner rather than later.

Starling Marte: Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates are attempting to end their dubious MLB record of 19 consecutive losing seasons this year, and the future looks even brighter with the youngsters currently stockpiled in their farm system.

One of those youngsters, 23-year-old prospect Starling Marte, could be joining star slugger Andrew McCutchen in the outfield by the end of the season. Marte is hitting .285 with 11 HR, 58 RBI and 19 stolen bases for Triple-A Indianapolis. With a combination of speed and power, Marte would give the Pirates a formidable tandem along with McCutchen.

Jedd Gyorko: San Diego Padres
Third-base prospect Jedd Gyorko has done just about everything right thus far in 2012 at the minor league level. Now, it’s just a matter of when the San Diego Padres will decide on his big league future.
Since his promotion to Triple-A Tucson earlier this year, Gyorko has hit .351 with 15 HR and 54 RBI in 55 games. Gyorko’s play could speed the departure of incumbent third baseman Chase Headley, who has been mentioned in various trade rumors over the past several weeks.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What's the matter with Texas?



Rangers Team OPS (rank)

2008: #1 (out of 30 teams)
2009: #10

2010 (#8)
April: 25
May: 7
June: 2
July: 19
August: 12
September: 10

2011 (#2)
April: 3
May: 14
June: 7
July: 2
August: 10
September: 1

2012 (#2)
April: 1
May: 2
June: 7
July: 29

It's probably not time for Texas to panic, because they still have a 5 game lead in the AL West and have managed to go 5-8 in July despite being last in OPS and runs scored.  It's probably just an aberration, a blip over a mere 13 games. 

This problem does not extend into late June, as they finished June on a 5 game winning streak (averaging a robust 7.6 runs per game in the process).  Part of the problem may be that they've played 9 of these 13 games on the road, and while they're the 6th best hitting (in OPS) team on the road, it is lower than at home. 

On Monday, they start a 10 game homestand, but it will be against strong competition (Red Sox, White Sox, Angels).  I expect them to come out of this hitting funk soon, but it is something to watch out for and would give hope to the rest of the AL if it continues.

Update: They broke out of their offensive funk tonight with 9 runs on 15 hits and 5 HR.  Before they get too excited, it was off a struggling Ervin Santana (now 4-10 with a 6.00 ERA), who gave up 6 ER in only 1.2 IP.  They were able to do this with minor production from the middle of their lineup, with the 3-4-5-6 hitters going 4-19 with 1 HR (Beltre). 

They do have an extremely deep lineup, but they probably won't really take off again offensively until Josh Hamilton starts hitting again (.208 since the beginning of June with 7 HR).  That's a pretty long slump for someone who was running away with the MVP race after the first few months, and it is hard to dismiss the issues he's had with his back.  It will be interesting to see how they handle Dan Haren tomorrow, who is coming off the DL. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

David Ortiz


1.10+ BB/K, .150+ BB/PA, 15 AB/HR or lower (since 2003)
2012 David Ortiz? (1.15, 1.47, 13.8)
2011 Jose Bautista
2009 Albert Pujols
2008 Albert Pujols
2004 Barry Bonds
2003 Barry Bonds

Monday, July 9, 2012

Guest Post: Top 10 Highest Paid MLB Players in 2012

A lot of the discussion in baseball is relevant to what's happening in the leagues right now. For example, much of the current chatter has to do with the Cincinnati Reds and their narrow lead in the NL Central. Other talks have to do with Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs rookie first baseman who made his major league debut on June 26th.

Still, despite the right-now nature of most baseball stories, there is one that always comes up and never really goes away: Salaries. The annual figures that a player brings home are always the center of much contention. Some fans feel that an overpaid player can bring down his team if his salary takes up too much of the team's overall payroll. Another subset of fans simply believes that players are overpaid in general. Being one of the few major sports not to have a salary cap, baseball might be the most polarizing sport of all for salary discussions. With discussions about player pay in mind, these are the ten highest-paid players in the 2012 MLB season.

1. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees - $30,000,000: The first player to make the list is New York Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is set to make $30 million in 2012. Considering all of his accomplishments during his career, it's no surprise that A-Rod is bringing home such large paychecks. However, it's amazing just how much more he makes than his peers: His 2012 contract will pay him 20 percent more than the next-highest paid player.

2. Vernon Wells, Los Angeles Angels - $24,187,500: When most people think of salaries for the Angels, they probably think immediately of Albert Pujols. Surprisingly, not only is Pujols not on this list, but he's also not even the highest-paid player on his own team. That honor belongs to outfielder Vernon Wells. To be fair, though, Wells' contract was originally inked when he was with the Blue Jays; he went to the Angels in a trade.

3. Johan Santana, New York Mets - $23,145,011: The Mets ace comes in third overall on this list. His $23 million payday in 2012 makes him the highest-paid pitcher in all of baseball. In his first season back since missing all of 2011 with a torn anterior capsule, Mets fans are hopeful that Santana returns to form.

4. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees - $23,125,000: After successful seasons with the Rangers, Braves and Angels, Mark Teixeira got a huge payday. He inked an eight-year contract in December of 2008, courtesy of the New York Yankees. This year marks the fourth year of that contract.

5. Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers - $23,000,000: Fielder is in the first year of a nine-year contract. During the course of the contract, he'll make $214 million. Fielder is having a strong season so far, but only time will tell if the contract was a good move by the Tigers.

6. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins - $23,000,000: After a rough 2011 campaign, Joe Mauer has looked to rebound in 2012. Regardless of what his performance looks like, he's going to get paid, and he's going to get paid for a long time - his current contract still has five years left on it after this season.

7. CC Sabathia, New York Yankees - $23,000,000: The third Yankee to crack the top-ten list is CC Sabathia. Sabathia has been with the Yankees for four seasons now, and has proven to be worth the money they're giving him. His contract reflects that, as he is currently the second-highest paid pitcher in baseball.

8. Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox - $23,857,142: With more than 1,000 career hits and four All-Star appearances, it seems as though Boston traded for the right guy back in 2010. He is the highest-paid member of the Red Sox club.

9. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies - $21,500,000: He played for the Phillies in 2009 before being traded away to the Mariners and then Rangers. Apparently, he made Philadelphia recognize what they were missing during this time. They scooped Lee up in free agency, making him the third pitcher to place in the top ten for salaries during the 2012 season.

10. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers - $21,000,000: Last but not least on the list is Miguel Cabrera. His 2012 batting average is .304, which is slightly below his career mark. He has the second-most hits in the American League, and is getting compensated nicely for it.

Salaries are a topic of much discussion in baseball. Whether the sport needs to replace the luxury tax system with a salary cap has been met with great arguments from both sides. Any of the guys on this list, though, would likely rule in favor of the luxury tax system.

About the Author: Don Phan is an avid baseball fan and collects baseball memorabilia on the side. His top baseball moment is sitting in the PNC Suites at Wrigley Field in 2012 with free food and drinks all game long.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Watch out: The Tigers are hitting home runs again



The Tigers are likely going to enter the All Star Break on a 5 game winning streak and are starting to look like the team that everyone expected when the season started.  One of the reasons they've struggled is their surprising lack of power (19th in home runs), despite having Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in the middle of the lineup. 

Cabrera has done his part (18 HR, 71 RBI), but the other power hitters had all been disappointing.  Prince Fielder had a good batting average (around .300 most of the year and even better with running in scoring position), and a decent number of RBI, but only 12 HR entering July.  Delmon Young had been even worse (6 HR hitting 5th in the lineup all year, in addition to his inability to take a walk). 

In July, the Tigers have hit 12 HR, which will put them near the top of the league.  Delmon Young has homered in 4 straight games and Prince Fielder has hit 3 HR as well.  They've hit 7 of their combined 25 HR in the last 8 games.  If Prince Fielder plays his old self in the second half (and Cabrera naturally continues another remarkable season), the Tigers should have one of the more prolific offenses in baseball in the 2nd half.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates

Runs
April: 58 (30th in ML)
May: 89 (30th)
June: 146 (1st)

Home Runs
April: 13 (28th in ML)
May: 25 (19th)
June: 39 (3rd)

ERA
April: 2.78 (3rd in ML)
May: 3.58 (8th)
June: 3.97 (17th)

Despite having a disappointing month, they are clearly one of the better pitching teams in baseball.  They never seemed like a real contender because of their inability to score runs (dead last in both April and May). 

Naturally (and shockingly), they scored more runs than any other team in June.  They probably won't lead the league in scoring again, but if they stabilize around #10 in both hitting and pitching (which seems realistic), they have a shot in the NL Central.  It is an amazing story for a francise that hasn't won more than 79 games in any season since 1992.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quintin Berry

BA, Runners in Scoring Position (min. 25 AB)
.448 Quintin Berry (Tigers) 29 AB
.429 Daniel Nava (Red Sox) 49
.426 Skip Schumaker (Cardinals) 47
.410 Evan Longoria (Rays) 39
.409 Jonathan Lucroy (Brewers) 66

If you don't follow the Tigers, you might not know about the saga of Quintin Berry. Against all odds, he has seemingly played his way into the starting lineup on most days.  Since being called up for his Major League debut on May 23 to fill in for an injured Austin Jackson (at the age of 27 after being released from several other organizations), he has hit over .300, has a .396 OBP and 11 steals (and hasn't been thrown out once). 

He has managed to stay in the starting lineup for the most part with Andy Dirks on the DL and with the struggles of Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch.  The local experts seem to almost uniformly agree that this won't last but that he should be playing until the league figures him out, at which point he can be a valuable bench player. 

I have thought that the odds are that he's not a future All-Star, but now I'm not so sure.   Sure, 29 AB isn't a huge sample size, but he seems to hit when guys are on base.  He needs to cut down on the strike outs (30 in 97 AB), but that's not an uncommon problem.  He has great speed and an ability to steal bases (something the Tigers aren't exactly known for). 

Who is another player similar to Berry?  Maybe Scott Podsednik.  Podsednik was a 3rd round pick in 1994 (Berry was a 5th rounder in 2006), and didn't make it to the majors until 2001 with the Mariners.  He was claimed off waivers by the Brewers in 2002 and came in 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting in 2003.  He was traded to the White Sox and was a key part of their World Series team in 2005.  He led the NL in stolen bases in 2004 (with 70) and has 307 in his career.  He's been slowed by injuries in recent years (and is on the DL now with the Red Sox). 

He made one All-Star team and is not going to the Hall of Fame, but he had a nice career and most people probably wouldn't have predicted that when he was a 26 year old player that had been released by several teams.  Is Quintin Berry capable of doing this?  It is still too early to know, but he is making it easier to believe with every game.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Are the Royals a sleeper playoff contender?

It might be hard to believe that a team with an 11-20 record at home is a playoff contender, but there are some other factors that make it a distant possibility.  They started off 0-10 at home, and have gone 11-9 since.  They are 20-16 one the road, which is the 2nd best in the division. 

They are in a weak division where it is possible that no one runs away with it (and might be one of those rare divisions where 85 games might win it).  Their pitching has gotten better each month (although their hitting needs to improve a lot.  It is a longshot, but they are only 4.5 games out of first place and no one show any signs of taking over.

Guest Post - 5 Reasons Baseball is America's Favorite Pastime

5 Reasons Baseball is America’s Favorite Pastime


Hot summer days spent out at the ballpark, cold frothy beers or icy sodas in hand, a bag of peanuts resting on your lap… Baseball has long been hailed America’s favorite pastime. Who doesn’t love the crack of the bat making contact with the ball, and the anticipation that builds as the ball soars through the air, each fan holding their breath in anticipation… and letting a collective sigh, whether out of relief or frustration, when the play is made. If you still are harboring any doubts as to why baseball is America’s pastime, here are five reasons why it’s been cemented into our hearts:

1. It’s easy to follow – There aren’t a lot of tricky plays or schemes in the sport of baseball, making it easy for kids and adults both to not just watch the sport but truly understand what’s happening. Instead of having to scrutinize each play and drag on time-outs for hours, the plays are fast, clean, and easy to understand.

2. You get to eat hot dogs – Come on, you can’t mention baseball without mentioning hot dogs! Every game is an excuse to get a foot-long loaded with mustard and relish to enjoy while you’re sitting in the stands watching yet another home-run sail across the outfield. Paired with a bag of peanuts and an ice-cold beverage and you’ve set the perfect tone for a relaxing, delicious day.

3. It has history – Baseball has been around for hundreds of years, and there aren’t many people who don’t know baseball greats like Babe Ruth or Joe DiMaggio. Even kids who were born years after these baseball legends have passed on still collect their iconic baseball cards and can recite stats on the players with fervor.

4. It’s a family sport – A day spent at the ballpark with the family paints a picture-perfect summer afternoon. With the kids waving baseball mitts and sporting baseball caps, and everyone decked out in their favorite player’s shirts, it’s a game that appeals to both men and women, young and old alike.

5. It takes the perfect amount of time – Baseball haters have touted that baseball is too long, but in reality most games take about three hours total. That’s just long enough to occupy an afternoon, but short enough that by the time the kids are getting bored its ending. The perfect amount of time for the perfect sport.

While football may be the most popular sport, baseball will always be America’s favorite pastime. You just can’t deny the smile that spreads across your face when that opening pitch is thrown, when you’re favorite pitcher delivers the perfect game, or when a grand slam wins the game in the bottom of the 9th. You may say some other sport, but I say take me out to the ball game!

Author Bio

Melanie Slaugh is enthusiastic about the growing prospects and opportunities of various industries and writing articles on various consumer goods and services as a freelance writer. She writes extensively for internet service providers and also topics related to internet service providers in my area for presenting the consumers, the information they need to choose the right Internet package for them. She can be reached at slaugh.slaugh907 @ gmail.com.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Starters and Relievers


Starting Rotation, ERA
1. Nationals (#11 in 2011)
2. Dodgers (#3)
3. Giants (#2)
4. Rays  (#4)
5. Angels (#5)

Bullpen, ERA
1. Orioles (#27 in 2011)
2. Pirates (#20)
3. Reds (#11)
4. Yankees (#4)
5. Rangers (#26)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Darren Oliver



50+ Games, 2.90 ERA or lower, 2009-2011
Mariano Rivera
Darren Oliver
Heath Bell

It is still relatively early, but it looks like Darren Oliver might be the only one to do this again in 2012 (Rivera is hurt and Heath Bell has an ERA of 6.65).  He's 41 years old, with his 9th different team (including 3 different stints with the Rangers).  He might have been better off being a reliever his entire career (his career ERA would probably be a lot lower than 4.58). 

Oliver has pitched in 21 games (18.2 IP) this year and has an ERA of 1.93.  He still doesn't have a World Series ring (he came really close last with the Rangers in his first trip), so he might not be finished for a while.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Runs, April vs. May

April, Runs
#1 Red Sox (#7 in May)
#2 Rangers (#1)
#3 Yankees (#22)
#4 Braves (#8)
#5 Cardinals (#2)
#6 Rockies (#4)
#7 Rays (#23)
#8 Blue Jays (#6)
#9 Astros (#25)
#10 D-Backs (#26)

May, Runs
#1 Rangers
#2 Cardinals
#3 White Sox (#21 in April)
#4 Rockies
#5 Phillies (#25)
#6 Blue Jays
#7 Red Sox
#8 Braves
#9 Orioles (#12)
#10 Marlins (#28)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Highest K/9


K/9 (2000-present)
2012: Tigers (8.60)
2011: Braves (8.10)
2010: Giants (8.20)
2009: Giants (8.10)
2008: Cubs (7.84)
2007: Cubs (7.82)
2006: Cubs (7.85)
2005: Cubs (8.27)
2004: Cubs (8.27)
2003: Cubs (8.68)
2002: Cubs (8.32)
2001: Cubs (8.42)
2000: D-Backs (7.61)

It is going to be very difficult for the Tigers to continue this pace, because Max Scherzer probably won't continue to strike out 12 hitters per 9 innings (staying above 10 will be a challenge).  They still have a great shot at leading the league in strikeouts if Scherzer and Verlander stay healthy, although that won't mean very much if they continue to play like they've been playing.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Most H, R since beginning of 2011


Top 10 in H and R, since the beginning of the 2011 season
Melky Cabrera: #1 H, #6 R
Miguel Cabrera: #6 H, #7 R
Dustin Pedroia: #7 H, #10 R
Robinson Cano: #8 H, #8 R
Ryan Braun: #9 H, #4 R

In this group, we have the 2011 NL MVP (Braun), and the players who came in #5 (Cabrera), #6 Cano and #9 in the 2011 AL MVP vote.  Beyond that, Cabrera and Cano came in the top 3 in the 2010 MVP vote and Pedroia has an MVP trophy from 2008. 

This is clearly an elite category with only top offensive players, except that Melky Cabrera has never received an MVP vote (although he would if the season ended today, being #1 in H, #3 in R and #3 in BA in the NL).  He is HR pace is down from last year, but that is not a big surprise playing in San Francisco.  He is going to be a free agent after this season, and it seems unlikely that he'll sign with the Giants during the season. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Yovani Gallardo


100+ Starts, 9.20+ K/9, .590 W-L%, SO/BB 2.50 (by age 26, since 1900)
Pedro Martinez
Tim Lincecum
Johan Santana
Clayton Kershaw
Yovani Gallardo
Mark Prior

Gallardo, who turned 26 earlier this year, has struggled a bit this year, especially in April (2-3, 6.08 ERA in April, 1-3 3.00 ERA in May).  He hasn't had a true breakout season yet (3.52 ERA is his lowest in a full season), but he is already piling up some impressive numbers and should have 1000 career strikeouts early next season. 

It takes some pitchers a little bit longer to figure it all out (Justin Verlander had never finished a season with an ERA below 3.37 until last year despite some very impressive seasons), and Gallardo is a prime candidate to break out and win a Cy Young one of these years.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Team OPS, April vs. May


Team OPS (April v. May)
1. Rangers (#2 in May)
2. Yankees (#8)
3. Boston (#7)
4. Cardinals (#1)
5. Rays (#17)

26. Cubs (#11)
27. Nationals (#3)
28. Padres (#25)
29. Pirates (#29)
30. A's (#21)

The Nationals have only gone from 27th in runs (April) to 16th (May) despite their improvement in OPS.  They've needed those extra runs to keep up (9-6 in May) because their pitching has done downhill this month, sliding from #1 in team ERA in April to 13th in May. 

One of the main reasons for the team OPS improving so much is that Roger Bernadina has an OPS of .995 in May (31 AB), up from .509 in April (42 AB).  Rookie phenom Bryce Harper was called up on April 28th, and has struggled a bit (.222 BA, .726 OPS), although he has 2 HR in the last 3 games.  It's possible his presence has provided a jolt to the rest of the lineup, even if he hasn't taken off himself yet.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Guest Post: The Best Fifth Starters in MLB

When teams in Major League Baseball began employing the use of a fifth starter in the 1970s, it signified a major change in pitching philosophy. Bullpen specialists were also becoming popular, and no longer were the days when starting pitchers were required to work 300-plus innings each season.

As such, the role of the fifth starter became very important for each team. With travel days, oftentimes the fifth starter may miss turns in the rotation in order for their rotation mates to continue with their routines of pitching every fifth day. Here are the current fifth starters considered the best in baseball today.

5. Anibal Sanchez: Miami Marlins

Normally, Miami Marlins starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez would be the No. 3 pitcher in the rotation. However, with the offseason acquisitions of Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano, Sanchez slides into the final spot in the rotation.

Considering his body of work, Sanchez is certainly no slouch in that role, posting a 3.61 ERA in the past two seasons and registering over 200 strikeouts last season for the first time in his career.

4. Dillon Gee: New York Mets

In 2011, despite what was otherwise a gloomy season at Citi Field, New York Mets starting pitcher Dillon Gee was one of the lone bright spots, posting a 13-6 record and 4.45 ERA in his first full season.

Gee won’t blow anyone away with a blazing fastball, however, he has an excellent array of secondary pitches and has shown the ability to work out of jams. Considering the Mets’ current financial woes and declining attendance figures, Gee is a steal in the rotation at just $500K.

3. Neftali Feliz: Texas Rangers

Over the past three seasons, the Texas Rangers have mastered the art of turning relievers into starters, with C.J. Wilson successfully transitioning in 2010 and Alexi Ogando last year.

Now, the Rangers are pulling off that same trick for the third straight season, with former closer and 2010 Rookie of the Year Award winner Neftali Feliz making the transition to the rotation.

With Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish in place at the top of the rotation, Feliz will be given all the time he needs to make the successful transition. Judging from his start thus far (2.25 ERA, 1-0 in first two starts), the Rangers may have pulled off the trifecta.

2. Jeff Niemann: Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays are absolutely loaded with great homegrown starting pitching, and this past spring training the Rays had a unique problem that most teams would love to have.

With youngster Matt Moore entrenched as the fourth starter, the battle for the final spot in the rotation came down to Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis, both of whom pitched well in starting roles in 2011. Niemann won the battle, and gives the Rays an outstanding core of starting pitching that rivals any in the majors.

1. Ryan Vogelsong: San Francisco Giants

Last season, San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong came out of nowhere to post a 13-7 record and 2.71 ERA, a remarkable feat considering he hadn’t posted a win in the majors since 2005.

Vogelsong at times last season was the best pitcher on a staff loaded with talent and was rewarded with an All-Star selection for his efforts. This season, Vogelsong is on the back end of a rotation that features two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and a rejuvenated Barry Zito. Not too shabby at all.

--

This is a guest post submitted by Mike Wright. Mike played all kinds of sports growing up and adamantly follows everything sports. He works with Phoenix Bats, a company that creates world-class wood bats, such as their premier custom wood bats, for amateur and professional ball players around the world. Mike loves writing on different sports topics and is honored to contribute here.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What should we make of the 2012 Orioles?



Orioles first 28 games, since 1997
1997: 19-9 (98-64)
1998: 15-13 (79-83)
1999: 11-17 (78-84)
2000: 15-13 (74-88)
2001: 13-15 (63-98)
2002: 13-15 (67-95)
2003: 15-13 (71-91)
2004: 16-12 (78-84)
2005: 19-9 (74-88)
2006: 14-14 (70-92)
2007: 12-16 (69-93)
2008: 16-12 (68-93)
2009: 11-17 (64-98)
2010: 7-21 (66-96)
2011: 13-15 (69-93)
2012: 19-9

The Orioles currently (and shockingly) have the best record in baseball after 28 games, with a 19-9 record (the Nats could tie them with a win tonight).  Since their last winning season in 1997, they have generally overperformed over the first 28 games, although they usually weren't exactly setting the world on fire. 

The one notable exception was 2005, when they jumped out to a great start and were leading the division by 4 games on June 11 before beginning their decline.  The 2005 collapse is undoubtedly on the minds of people connected with the Orioles, but this is a different type of team.  In 2005, they were 16-7 in April despite being ranked #23 in ERA. 

They overcame their awful pitching by scoring the most runs of any team.  They had some talented hitters (Miguel Tejada, Melvin Mora, Javy Lopez), but that wasn't sustainable.  Sure enough, their offense dropped off in May and they ended up 15th in runs scored at the end of the season.

This year, they are 2nd in ERA and 10th in runs scored.  It is a more balanced attack, but the main concern has to be that their excellent pitching isn't sustainable (they were 27th in bullpen ERA last year, and 1st this year). 

Can they sustain this (or stay somewhat close)?  The bullpen seems solid, anchored by Jim Johnson, who has been lights out.  They probably won't be the best, but it should remain a big improvement over previous years.  The starting rotation won't scare anyone, and it remains to be seen if Jason Hammel can continue his torrid start. 

Even if the Orioles don't make the playoffs, it's possible that they're like the 2001 Twins, who came out of nowhere with a bunch of young players but struggled to compete against the mighty Indians and trailed off as the season went along.  They came back and won the division the next 3 years and remained a contender for years after. 

They could also be the 2005 Orioles, but it doesn't feel that way, especially after seeing them win a 17 inning game at Fenway that they almost certainly would have lost at any other point since 1997.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Guest Post: 5 MLB Pitchers with Best Secondary Pitches

5 MLB Pitchers with Best Secondary Pitches

Major League Baseball has long been enamored with starting pitchers who possess the blazing fastball—the high-90s four-seamer that induces countless swings and misses, and the two-seamer with late break that beguiles hitters in mid-swing.

However, not only is the fastball a prized possession, but a vast array of secondary pitches that are equally unhittable are hot commodities as well.

Here are five current MLB pitchers who have in their arsenal an array of secondary pitches that have become legendary.

1. Cliff Lee: Philadelphia Phillies

Since 2008, Cliff Lee has become one of the most dominant left-handed pitchers in baseball, and it’s not because of his fastball.

Lee, the 2008 AL Cy Young Award Winner, has been downright nasty, and it’s his cutter and signature curveball that give hitters fits more than anything else. Lee struck out a career-high 238 batters in 2011, and while many would naturally assume his fastball did the talking, for Lee, it’s his great assortment of secondary pitches that did the trick.

2. Cole Hamels: Philadelphia Phillies

Cole Hamels is another Philadelphia Phillies left-hander who doesn’t rely on his fastball to get hitters out. Rather, it’s his changeup that many consider the best in baseball.

Hamels threw his changeup for strikes 72.0 percent of the time in 2011 and led the league in swinging strike percentage for that pitch (27.1 percent) as well. For Hamels, it’s not just a devastating pitch, it’s his go-to pitch.

3. Jered Weaver: Los Angeles Angels

For Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver, the fastball is used to set up what many consider to be the best changeup of any right-handed pitcher in baseball.

Weaver’s heater only averages just above 89 MPH, yet he consistently strikes out close to 200 batters each year. Weaver’s changeup and curveball are stellar secondary pitches, and he uses them with regularity and great precision.

4. Jamie Moyer: Colorado Rockies

There is a very good reason that Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jamie Moyer has lasted for 24-plus seasons in Major League Baseball, and why he became the oldest man in baseball history to win a game.

At 49 years of age, Moyer won’t even touch 80 MPH on the radar gun with his fastball anymore. However, he uses an array of secondary pitches, including a drop-off-the-shelf cutter, straight change and terrific curveball to continue keeping hitters off balance. After 268 victories, Moyer has proven that pure heat isn’t the reason for his longevity.

5. Roy Halladay: Philadelphia Phillies

There is a very good reason why the Philadelphia Phillies have what many consider to be the top rotation in baseball—their top three starting pitchers, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay, all have some of the best secondary pitches in baseball.

In Halladay’s case, it’s his devastating curveball that constantly beguiles hitters. He threw his signature curveball for a strike 68.7 percent of the time in 2011, with a swing-and-miss percentage of 18.27 percentage that was tops among all starters in baseball. Halladay also features a cut fastball that rides in on right-handed hitters, preventing them from getting a full extension on their swing.

Statistical source: Fangraphs.com

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This is a guest post submitted by Mike Wright. Mike played all kinds of sports growing up and adamantly follows everything sports. He works with Phoenix Bats, a company that creates world-class wood baseball bats, such as their premier custom wood bats, for amateur and professional ball players around the world. Mike loves writing on different sports topics and is honored to contribute here.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Matt Kemp's Ridiculous April


Top OPS - April (min. 50 PA)
2012: Matt Kemp (Dodgers) 1.383
2011: Jose Bautista (Blue Jays) 1.312
2010: Robinson Cano (Yankees) 1.201
2009: Jorge Cantu (Marlins) 1.222
2008: Chipper Jones (Braves) 1.171
2007: Barry Bonds (Giants) 1.349
2006: Albert Pujols (Cardinals) 1.423
2005: Derrek Lee (Cubs) 1.258
2004: Barry Bonds (Giants) 1.828
2003: Jim Edmonds (Cardinals) 1.268
2002: Barry Bonds (Giants) 1.428
2001: Larry Walker (Rockies) 1.298
2000: Mark McGwire (Cardinals) 1.346

The month isn't over yet (the Dodgers have 1 game left), but Matt Kemp is making his mark (although his OPS did plummet after an 0-3 yesterday).   He is still well ahead of Josh Hamilton in 2nd place (1.173), which is an unusually high differential (except for Bonds in 2002 and 2004). 

He is performing at such a high level that you can't completely dismiss talking about him hitting .400 or winning the Triple Crown (he wasn't that far off last year) or going 50/50 (although he only has 2 SB after 40 last year). 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Best Bullpens - 2012


1. Rangers (#26 in bullpen ERA in 2011)
1. Orioles (#27)
2. Yankees (#4)
3. A's (#18)
4. Pirates (#20)

This is bad news for every team in the AL except the Rangers, because their bullpen was their biggest weakness last year (when they still came within a strike of winning the World Series).

 The Orioles (who have ranked near the bottom in bullpen ERA for the last decade) have almost completely revamped their bullpen and it is working so far.  They've had a nice run lately, winning 4 in a row (allowing only 5 runs in the process).  It seems likely that the O's will eventually be overwhelmed by all of the talent in the AL East, but they're holding their own for the time being. 

The Yankees need their bullpen to be this good because their starting rotation is ranked 28th, and they just lost Michael Pineda for the season.

It looks like Pittsburgh may need the best pitching in the league (they're currently #2) to avoid losing 100 games, because they are dead last in runs scored by a wide margin.  Oakland is in basically the same boat, except they're 28th in runs instead of 30th.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Highest OPS, Home or Away


Highest OPS (Home or Away) min 25 PA
Nolan Reimold, Orioles (Away) 1.700
Matt Kemp, Dodgers (Home) 1.653
David Ortiz, Red Sox (Home) 1.478
Evan Longoria, Rays (Home) 1.456
Josh Willingham, Twins (Home) 1.434
Chase Headley, Padres (Home) 1.401

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Racing Against Time, Part 1


Michael Young: 3000 H (2085 H, 35 yrs)
Paul Konerko: 500 Home HR (398 HR, 36 yrs)
Juan Pierre: 700 SB (or close to it) (557 SB, 34 yrs)

Here are 3 players that are thought of as very good, but probably not Hall of Fame yet.  Of the 3, the only milestone that would make it a near-certainty that they would get into the Hall would probably be 3000 hits for Michael Young.  It is not clear how home runs will be treated after the steroid era inflated, but 500 HR would still be a great achievement for Konerko.

Juan Pierre is theoretically still in the hunt for 3000 hits too (2032 H), but his hit totals and batting average are down from his 2003-2007 heyday.  He is currently tied for 25th all time in SB, but with only 101 more he would move into 13th all time.  This seems likely if he can stay healthy, and 700 would put him at #11 (between Honus Wager and Joe Morgan)

It is possible that they will achieve these milestones with room to spare, but it seems unlikely.  There are some players who reached these milestones in their 40's (Paul Molitor, Randy Johnson), but it is rare.  Players often start wearing down quickly around 40, so there is not a lot of time for these three players.  For right now, they are playing at a high level, which makes these milestones very possible in the years ahead.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Why is Atlanta scoring so many runs?



The Atlanta Braves are #1 in runs scored, after being #22 last year.  Looking at the other numbers, you would expect that the Rangers, Cardinals or Yankees would be leading in runs.  How are the Braves doing it?

Atlanta Offense - 2012
#1, R
#6, BA
#9, OBP
 #6, SLG
#5, OPS
t-#7, HR
t-#8, 2B
#7, OPS with RISP
#19, OPS with no runners on
t-#1, OPS with runners on

In 2011, they were #21 in BA and #22 in OPS with runners on.  The resurgence of Jason Heyward is playing a big role (.682 OPS with runners on in 2011, .978 this year), but the biggest story is Freddie Freeman.  He is hitting 1.252 with runners on (3 HR, 13 RBI in 27 AB) after .826 (with a solid .306 BA) in 2011.  If the veterans can stay healthy, the Braves could have their best offense in years.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

More Home Runs than Strikeouts


More HR than SO (2012)
A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox (4 HR, 3 SO)
Omar Infante, Marlins (4, 2)
Ian Kinsler, Rangers (4, 3)
Nate Schierholtz, Giants (2, 1)
Chris Denorfia, Padres (1, 0)

Nate Schierholtz struck out 61 times last year in only 335 AB, so it is surprising that he is here.  It is possible that A.J. Pierzynski or Omar Infante will have big power seasons, although it's unlikely (the White Sox would probably be happy with A.J. hitting around 15 again, instead of the 8 he hit last year).  Ian Kinsler could be a legitimate MVP candidate if he can raise his batting average back to where is was in 2008 (.319), and go 30/30 again and score a lot of runs.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The importance of April pitching success


Team ERA, April

2012
1. Nationals
2. Rangers
3. Phillies
4. Mets
5. Cardinals

2011
1. A's (#10 at end of season)
2. Angels (6)
3. Padres (3)
4. Marlins (16)
5. Phillies (1)

2010
1. Cardinals (5)
2. Giants (1)
3. Padres (2)
4. Mets (7)
5. Rays (8)

It's not the end of April yet, and the last 2 years isn't a large sample size, but this does show something positive for the teams that pitch well in April.  If these are the same teams at the end of the April, then it is not ridiculous to assume that four of them will end up in the top 10 at the end of the season.  If so, then it will end up being a very tough year for batters in the NL East, and possibly a good battle for the division crown.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Are the Indians a contender?

Team OPS, 2012 v. 2011

2012
1. Cardinals (#5 in 2011)
2. Red Sox (#1)
3. Tigers (#3)
4. Indians (#t-17)
t-5. Rangers (#2)
t-5. Rockies (#8)
t-5. Orioles (#12)

Nobody picked the Indians to make the playoffs, but they're showing some firepower that could make things interesting.  Their starting rotation isn't bad either: Derek Lowe, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Tomlin and Justin Masterson have all had success and could keep them competitive throughout the season.  The bullpen is a major concern, and it might be their biggest stumbling block. 

The wild card is Ubaldo Jimenez, who has shown in the past that he is capable of being dominant for long stretches.  The Tigers are rightly favored to win the division, but they are not invincible.  Their #2 starter is on the DL, and their rotation behind Verlander isn't unhittable. 

The Indians clearly have some talent, and some of the other teams predicted to be contenders in the AL might have issues as well (see Angels, Rays).   They probably won't make the playoffs, but they are a team worth watching and might end up causing problems for some teams planning on playing in October.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday Question

The consensus for the AL this season was that 6 teams (Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Tigers, Rangers, Angels) would battle for the 5 playoff spots.  In a preseason poll of 50 experts on ESPN.com, the only deviation from these 6 teams was that 2 experts picked the Blue Jays to win one of the wild card slots.  After watching everyone in action for a little over a week, are there any surprise playoff teams in the AL?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Best/Worst Pitching 2012



OPS Against

Starters
1. Phillies, .500
2. Nationals, .514
3. Royals, .558

28. Reds, .850
29. Rockies, .863
30. Yankees, .930

There are some nice surprises here, such as Kansas City (29th in starters OPS allowed last year).  The Yankees being dead last by a wide margin is a little jarring, although it does reflect only starts.  Two of those starts have been by C.C. Sabathia, and we have to assume he'll get better. 

It has to be disconcerting for an organization that is expecting a championship and has a payroll over $200 million to see such poor starting pitching for the first week.  There are questions about all of their starters except for Sabathia, and winning the AL East with a weak rotation could prove tough even to the Yankees.

Relievers
1. Diamondbacks, .438
2. White Sox, .512
3. Pirates, .529

28. Angels, .857
29. Rays, .864
30. Giants, .919

The Giants did have the one terrible game in Colorado, but this has to be a concern to all of these teams that are expected to contend and have excellent pitching.  Again, it is very early, but these might show a disturbing trend that could make life difficult for some teams with high expectations. 
 
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