Monday, December 30, 2013

Dominant Pitching in 2014?

20+ IP, 8.25+ K/9, 4 BB/9 or fewer (# of pitchers)
1930 - 0
1940 - 0
1950 - 0
1960 - 2
1970 - 9
1980 - 6
1990 - 18
2000 - 21
2004 - 56
2009 - 67
2010 - 83
2011 - 91
2012 - 120
2013 - 135
2014 - ?

If the numbers keep heading in this direction, there will eventually be more pitchers in this group than out of it.  The number of pitchers in this group has skyrocketed for both starters and relievers, but the bulk of the increase obviously has come from relievers.  This is becoming like hitting 20 home runs was during the steroid era for a position player.  What was once something done only by elite players is now expected of pretty much everyone.

It's not very surprising that there are more pitchers with high strikeout numbers.  As bullpens are staffed with more young fireballers than old retreads, it make sense that there would more high-strikeout pitchers.  It's a little surprising, though, that their walk totals have been going down as well.  The steroid testing has probably helped pitchers in several different ways. 

The hitters aren't putting up the same numbers and the pitchers aren't intimidated.  More and more young pitchers are like what we saw Trevor Rosenthal do in the postseason.  They throw their heat over the plate and dare the hitters to make contact.  The increase in the number of pitchers with high strikeout and low walk totals over the past ten years has been astonishing and it might not be stopping anytime soon.       

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dominant Pitching 2013: This hadn't been done since 1964

170 IP, allowed OPS of .530 or less (# per season since 1920)
1920-1962: 0
1963: 1 (Sandy Koufax)
1964: 3 (Dean Chance, Joe Horlen, Koufax)
1965-67: 1 (Koufax '65)
1968: 2 (Bob Gibson, Luis Tiant)
1969-85: 4 (Vida Blue '71, Don Sutton '72, Ron Guidry '78, Dwight Gooden '85)
1986-93: 0
1994-00: 4 (Greg Maddux '94-95, Pedro Martinez '97, '00)
2001-12: 0
2013: 3 (Clayton Kershaw, Jose Fernandez, Matt Harvey)

1920-1962: 0
1962-2012: 15
2013: 3

I doubt this will happen again in 2014, but it is remarkable the number exceeded any season other than 1964.  Most of the recent entries were considered historic and extremely rare (Guidry, Gooden, Maddux, Martinez), making it stunning that 3 pitchers could do it in one year.  Perhaps the most amazing fact is that their average age is 23, with Harvey in his 2nd year and Fernandez was a rookie.  Harvey is unfortunately out for the season with Tommy John surgery, but this could be a group of pitchers that dominates for the next 10 to 15 years.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Will Roy Halladay be elected to the Hall of Fame?

This is a different question than whether he should be a Hall of Famer.  There have only been 4 starting pitchers (as opposed to pitchers who were primary relievers or a hybrid like Dennis Eckersley) who started their career after 1965 and were elected to the Hall of Fame.

Nolan Ryan (1966-93): 324-292
Don Sutton (1966-88): 324-256
Tom Seaver (1967-86): 311-205
Bert Blyleven (1970-92): 287-250

Over the next few years, there will be 3 more pitchers who will almost certainly join them: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Randy Johnson.  There are some other pitchers (like Mike Mussina) who may have a shot eventually, but they won't get in on the first ballot.  The one exception might be Pedro Martinez, who had a career record of 219-100 and won 3 Cy Young Awards. 

With only 203 career wins, it didn't look at first like Halladay would have a shot to get in for a long time.  After looking closer, though, I think he has an excellent shot.  For starting pitcher to make it to Cooperstown with only 203 wins, they need to be truly special.  No, he's not Sandy Koufax or Pedro Martinez, but he's a career different case from the large number of pitchers with around 200 wins that didn't make it. 

His W-L% (.659) and ERA (3.38) put him well above pitchers with similar win totals that didn't make it to Cooperstown like Orel Hersheiser, Vida Blue, Bob Welch, Kevin Brown, Charlie Hough, Mickey Lolich, Jerry Reuss, Jerry Koosman and Luis Tiant.  The number of pitchers with 200 wins and a W-L% of over .650 is very small.  This alone should get him into the Hall of Fame.

200+ W, .650+ W-L%
Christy Mathewson
Lefty Grove
Whitey Ford
Roger Clemens
Pedro Martinez
Roy Halladay

That combined with 2 Cy Young Awards and 2 second place finishes should get him into the Hall of Fame, even if it isn't on the first ballot.  The game has also changed so much in the past few decades that it isn't realistic anymore to have a magic number of 300 wins for a starter, but that doesn't mean that it will change immediately.  While his win total will be an obstacle, I think that Halladay will have plenty of influential people pushing his case in the years to come and that his case is strong enough that he will make it into the Hall of Fame.           

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Did the Yankees make a mistake in signing Carlos Beltran?

.290, 75+ HR, Age 37-39 (since 1900)
Babe Ruth (1932-34)
Ted Williams (1956-58)
Hank Aaron (1971-73)
Edgar Martinez (2000-2002)
Barry Bonds (2002-2004)
Moises Alou (2004-2006)

Carlos Beltran has reportedly agreed to join the Yankees for 3 years and 45 million dollars.  The deal makes sense on the surface because the Yankees are on a spending spree and he's one of the best free agents on the market.  They can get him without tying up payroll for a long time unlike some of the younger free agents out there.  He's also a great postseason performer and the Yankees won't be happy to just get back to the postseason. 

The Yankees might be thinking that he won't perform all that well in the third year of the contract, but that they had to throw it in to get him signed.  Still, it would be reasonable to assume that they would expect Beltran to hit at least 75 home runs and hit at least .290 over the next 3 years considering the 45 million they're paying him.  He might do that, but it has only been done 6 times in major league history.  

Now, Beltran is a great player who has held up pretty well as he's aged.  That's not to say that he hasn't regressed and won't continue to over the next 3 years.  His OPS has gone from .910 to .842 to .830 since 2011.  Maybe the Yankees think it will go back up playing at Yankees Stadium, but that is a concern. 

Unless he gets a lot of big postseason hits, the Yankees might not be too thrilled if he OPS continues to go down each year.  You have to wonder how much of the value of the contract is from the fact that he is known to be clutch, particularly in the postseason.  He used to steal a decent number of bases as well, with 25 at least recently as 2008.  He actually stole 13 bags in 2012, but only has 2 stolen bases all of last year.

Even his postseason numbers need to be examined closely because he has achieved almost legendary status.  He has been a very good postseason performer, but a lot of the perception could be still based on his epic performance in 2004, when he hit .434 with 8 HR in the NLDS and NLCS for the Astros.  He was 27 years old in 2004, which makes it risky to let that factor into this current contract.

2004 postseason: .424 BA, 8 HR, 46 AB
2006-2013 postseason: .298 BA, 8 HR, 134 AB

He's been very good in the postseason since 2004, although probably not enough to justify his status as a dominant postseason performer since then (watching the final strike go by in 2006 doesn't help either).  In the 2013 postseason, he hit .267 with 2 HR in 58 AB.  Would that satisfy Yankee fans, especially if they didn't win the World Series?  I would guess not.

This could all work out and it is a lot different to evaluate a contract handed out by the Yankees than almost any other team.  The Yankees, though, aren't as immune to payroll pressures as they were in the past, and paying an aging star $15 million to be an average player would hurt them.  Beltran could defy the odds and hit 30 HR a season, but it isn't the most likely outcome.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Monster Free Agent Contracts and the World Series

World Series Champs
2013 Red Sox
2012 Giants
2011 Cardinals
2010 Giants
2009 Yankees
2008 Phillies
2007 Red Sox
2006 Cardinals
2005 White Sox
2004 Red Sox
2003 Marlins
2002 Angels

All of these teams had made important free agent signings, but these were not generally teams that had made monster free agent signings.  The 2013 ALCS is a good example of this: the Red Sox had dumped off a ton of dead weight on the Dodgers in August of 2012 and used that money to sign lower-profile free agents like Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino. 

On the other hand, the Tigers had made a huge bet by signing Prince Fielder to a huge contract before the 2012 season and it didn't work out.  They probably could have signed three or four quality players with the money they committed to Prince and would have been a more complete team.

Who were the monster free agents on those teams? Outside of the 2009 Yankees, I only see 2.
-Barry Zito (7 years/$126 million), who was left off the roster for the Giants in 2010, and was solid in 2012. Overall, he was a total bust and one of the worst free agent signings ever.
-Manny Ramirez ($8 years/160 million): He was signed to a huge contract before the 2001 season and was a very important contributor to the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox teams.

2009 Yankees
- C.C. Sabbathia: 7 years/$161 million
- A-Rod
- Mark Teixeira: 8 years/180 million
- AJ Burnett: 5 years/82 million

The Yankees are a special case, but it only worked once for them in recent years.  It is a big difference, of course, if the team handing out the monster contract has a virtually unlimited budget, but it can still be a big mistake depending on who they are giving the money to.  The Cardinals showed how to let an aging star walk away and end up as a stronger team in the long run. 

There is a pretty clear lesson for teams other than the Yankees (although it probably applies to them to) about handing out monster free agent contracts.  The teams that have won the World Series over the past 10 years have done it (or in spite of) without monster free agents. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pitching Dominance in 2013: Strikeout/Walk Ratio

2002: 1.97
2003: 1.97
2004: 2.00
2005: 2.05
2006: 2.04
2007: 2.03
2008: 2.05
2009: 2.03
2010: 2.19
2011: 2.31
2012: 2.51
2013: 2.53

This will be one of the more interesting trends to watch next year.  Based on how it has tended to go, it would be surprising if it started to go back down.  The most likely outcome would probably be another small jump to 2.55, but we just don't know.  A huge jump would almost certainly result in even fewer runs being scored next year (runs are down 10% from 4 years ago and 13% from 6 years ago). 

Even if it jumps up in 2014, the long term trend will be worth watching.  It might be that 2.50 is about as high as it could go for a full season, or various trends might mean that it is possible for them to get close to 3.  If this trend continues into next year, then we'll see even less offense and great pitching dominance than we saw this year.    

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Home Teams with a Chance to Clinch in Game 6

Teams leading 3-2, with a chance to clinch at home in Game 6 (since 1925)
2009 Yankees: Won Game 6
1997 Marlins: Lost Game 6, Won Game 7
1996 Yankees; Won Game 6
1995 Braves: Won Game 6
1993 Blue Jays: Won Game 6
1980 Phillies: Won Game 6

1979 Orioles: Lost Game 6 & 7 (also lost Game 5)
1977 Yankees: Won Game 6
1968 Cardinals: Lost Game 6 & 7 (also lost Game 5)
1964 Cardinals: Lost Game 6, Won Game 7
1960 Pirates: Lost Game 6, Won Game 7

1958 Braves: Lost Game 6 & 7 (also lost Game 5)
1953 Yankees: Won Game 6
1952 Dodgers: Lost Game 6 & 7
1951 Yankees: Won Game 6
1947 Yankees: Lost Game 6, Won Game 7
1944 Cardinals: Won Game 6

1935 Tigers: Won Game 6
1934 Tigers: Lost Game 6 & 7
1931 Cardinals: Lost Game 6, Won Game 7
1930 A's: Won Game 6
1926 Yankees: Lost Game 6 & 7

Since 1925, there have been 22 teams with a chance to clinch the World Series at home in Game 6, and half of them have closed it out in the first try.  Of the remaining 11 teams, 5 managed to win Game 7.  Of the remaining 6 teams, 3 of them had led the series 3 games to 1.  The last time a team lost Games 6 and 7 at home after winning Game 5 was 1952.  The other two times (1934 and 1926) had the Cardinals pulling it off on the road.

It appears highly unlikely that the Cardinals could still win this series, but this is a series that had already had one game end on obstruction and another on a pickoff.  It might be even more unlikely that the Red Sox will wind it up with an easy Game 6 win.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

How important is home field advantage in the World Series?

Won with Home Field Advantage (since 1980)
4-0: 1989 A's, 1990 Reds, 1998 Yankees, 2004 Red Sox, 2005 White Sox, 2007 Red Sox, 2012 Giants
4-1: 1983 Orioles, 1988 Dodgers, 2000 Yankees, 2010 Giants
4-2: 1980 Phillies, 1993 Blue Jays, 1995 Braves, 1996 Yankees, 2009 Yankees
4-3: 1982 Cardinals, 1985 Royals, 1986 Mets, 1987 Twins, 1991 Twins, 1997 Marlins, 2001 Diamondbacks, 2002 Angels, 2011 Cardinals

Won without Home Field Advantage (since 1980)
4-0: 1999 Yankees
4-1: 1984 Tigers, 2006 Cardinals, 2008 Phillies
4-2: 1981 Dodgers, 1992 Blue Jays, 2003 Marlins
4-3: None

Teams with home field advantage in World Series since 1980: 25-7

There have been 11 times where a road has been able to close out a series in Game 6, and they were 3-8 in these games.  Every single one of the teams that lost Game 6 went on to lose Game 7.  It wasn't always guaranteed that the home team would win Game 7: from 1955-1979, road teams won Game 7 in 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1962, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1975 and 1979 (home teams won in 1960, 1964 and 1973).

Of the 7 teams that won without home field advantage, the only one who won the first 2 games were the 1999 Yankees.  Five of the six remaining teams split the first 2 games, while the 1981 Dodgers lost the first 2 games. 

The template most likely to get the Cardinals to a championship is probably the one they used in 2006: split in Boston, then win the next 3 in St. Louis.  If they return to Boston leading 3-2, they'll have a shot to close it out in Game 6, but it'll be tough.  If Boston forces a Game 7, St. Louis will try to become the first team since the 1979 Pirates to win Game 7 on the road.  If they return to Boston trailing 3-2, recent history suggests they'll be toast.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Road to the World Series still very difficult for the Dodgers

The Dodgers seem like they're back in the NLCS after an impressive Game 3 win.  It looks like a relatively close series at this point, but the Dodgers still have an incredibly uphill climb.  If they lose tonight, they'll be down 3 games to 1.  The Cardinals blew a 3-1 lead last year to the Giants, getting outscored 20-1 in the final 3 years.  It could happen again, but it is much less likely because the Cardinals would have the final 2 games at home this time.

Dodgers - Must Win Games

Game 4 - Only 5 teams since 1926 have come back from a 3-1 deficit to close a series out on the road (1958 Yankees, 1968 Tigers, 1985 Royals, 2003 Marlins, 2004 Red Sox).  It is incredibly rare and unlikely to happen against the Cardinals, who have always been especially tough in winner-take-all games at home, except in 1968 (2011 WS, 2004 NLCS, 1987 NLCS, 1982 WS, 1964 WS, 1946 WS, 1931 WS).  Yes, the Dodgers have Kershaw and Greinke going again, but it is hard to imagine them hitting enough to win 3 straight elimination games.

Game 5 - If they win Game 4, it won't mean very much unless they win game 5 as well.  How many teams have lost Game 5 at home and still won a 7 game series?  Only 4: 1926 Cardinals (WS); 1934 Cardinals (WS); 1952 Yankees (WS); 1991 Braves (NLCS).  It is even more rare than coming back from 3-1, possibly because of the momentum shift from losing Game 5.

Game 6: If they can win Games 4 and 5  at home, they'll have a chance to close it out in Game 6.  This would be the first time that they are in a comfortable spot since the very beginning of the series.  Teams close out in Game 6 on the road all the time in the LCS.  It has happened 10 times since the LCS expanded to 7 games in 1985 and 3 times in the World Series since 1979 (1981, 1992, 2003).

Game 7: This is obviously a must-win for the Dodgers, and for the Cardinals.  This would be an exceptionally difficult game for the Dodgers to win under any circumstance, especially if they lose game 6.  Since 1975, there have been 15 times where a home team has won Game 6 to force a Game 7, and the home team has gone one to win 14 out of 15 (only exception: 2006 Cardinals in NLCS). 

How many times has a team close the first 2 games on the road and come back to win in 6?  1978 Yankees (WS); 1981 Dodgers (WS); 1985 Cardinals (NLCS). 

The Dodgers won 42 out of 50 games at one point this season, so it is not out of the realm of possibility that they would still win this series.  They could easily win the next 2 games at home and return to St. Louis with a 3-2 lead, but they have no margin for error.  Teams have been winning plenty of winner-take-all games in the LDS, but it is still very rare in a 7 game series. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Which teams are hitting in the clutch this postseason?

OPS with RISP (2013 Regular Season)
1. Cardinals (.865)
2. Tigers (.806)
3. Red Sox (.794)
4. A's (.771)
22. Dodgers (.697)
28. Pirates (.655)

OPS with RISP (2013 Postseason)
1. Tigers (1.167)
2. Dodgers (.936)
3. Red Sox (.793)
4. Pirates (.735)
6. Cardinals (.593)
9. A's (.395)

The postseason numbers are only through 4 or 5 games, so it is difficult to make too much out of them.  They can easily turn around once a team moves onto the next round and faces new pitchers, but they should be a cause for concern for several teams. 

The ability to hit with runners in scoring position was a huge advantage for the Cardinals all year. They had a batting average of .330 with RISP, an unbelievable 48 points ahead of the next closest team (Tigers, .282).  Oddly, they were 2nd worst when there was no one on base (.236), making it a very important part of their offense (especially since they were 27th in hitting home runs with only 125).  This would be a real problem if they have to play the Dodgers, another team with excellent pitching (ranked 2nd in team ERA with 3.25).

The same goes for the A's.  The A's can compensate by hitting home runs, but they would need to drastically improve their .395 OPS with RISP against Boston. 

The Red Sox have been very consistent between the regular season and the postseason, and that would likely continue into the ALCS.

It probably comes as a shock to people that follow the Tigers that they hit so well with RISP in this series since their offense had been silent until the last few innings of Game 4.  They would need to keep that up to have a shot against the Red Sox with Miguel Cabrera injured and struggling.

The Pirates also need to keep this up because their pitching might not be able to completely keep the Dodgers down if they make it to the NLCS and don't have a lineup that easily generates runs. 

This is one of the key stats to watch as we move in the next round.  If they Cardinals don't start hitting in the clutch again, they are probably going to have trouble making it past the Dodgers if they win in Game 5.  Most of the remaining teams in the playoffs hit well with RISP this season, but they could be heading home if they don't start doing it in the postseason.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Does Boston's incredible run differential matter in the playoffs?

195+ Run Differential (since 2002)
2002 Yankees (200)
2002 Angels (207) (Won WS)
2004 Cardinals (196) (Lost WS)
2007 Red Sox (210) (Won WS)
2011 Yankees (210)
2013 Red Sox (197)

It is a small sample size, but teams (other than the Yankees) with a 195+ run differential have been very successful in the playoffs since 2002.  The Red Sox pummelled the Rays for a 2nd straight game and appear all but certain to advance onto the next round. 

If they make it to the next round, their opponent will be much more evenly matched in run differential than the Rays (+54).  The Tigers are +172 and the A's are +142.  With recent history as a guide, teams with an overwhelming run differential tend to win in the LCS (2004 Cardinals and 2007 Red Sox went 7 games). 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pirates vs. Cardinals

Cardinals - Batting Average
Pre All Star: .276 (#3)
Post All Star: .259 (#11)

Pirates - Opponents Batting Average
Pre All Star: .225 (#1)
Post All Star: .253 (#17)

The Cardinals were a very solid offensive team all year, finishing #3 in runs scored before and after the All Star Game.  They're a strange team because they scored so many runs despite finishing #27 in home runs.  They compensated by hitting .330 in with runners in scoring position as a team for the entire season, a staggering 48 points better than the next highest team (Tigers). 

The Pirates allowed the fewest home runs this year (101), so it seems likely that the Cardinals will have to continue getting clutch hits to score runs.  The Pirates dominated hitters through the first half and then struggled a bit in the 2nd half. 

One factor might be that closer Jason Grilli was injured on August 22, which may have thrown off the entire bullpen.  He was out for 6 weeks and only recently settled back into the job as closer.  Jeff Locke also struggled mightily in the 2nd half (6.12 ERA) after being one of their top starters in the  1st half (2.15).  He will not be on the postseason roster.

This looks like an evenly matched series and the Pirates might even have the edge if their pitching is more like the 1st half than the 2nd half. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Who is going to win the 2013 World Series?

World Series Winners Since 2001

2001: D-Backs (92 Wins)
2003: Marlins (91)
2006: Cardinals (83)
2008: Phillies (92)
2010: Giants (92)
2011: Cardinals (90)
2012: Giants (94)

2002: Angels (99)
2004: Red Sox (98)
2005: White Sox (99)
2007: Red Sox (96)
2009: Yankees (103)

Won with Home Field Advantage: 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Won without Home Field: 2003, 2006, 2008 (all NL)

Average # of wins for NL Winners: 90.6
Average # of wins for AL Winners: 99

This may not be the most sophisticated way to predict the winner of the World Series, but we shouldn't ignore the patters from the past decade either.  The pattern is clear: when the NL wins, the team has a relatively low number of wins and the opposite is true when the AL team wins.  The team with home field advantage wins the overwhelming majority of the time.

The season win totals are incomplete, but we can get a decent idea of where it will end.

Red Sox: 95-62
A's: 94-63
Tigers: 91-66
Rays: 88- 69
Indians: 87-70

As of right now, the Red Sox and A's are losing and the Tigers are winning.  If history holds, the Red Sox are probably the only one of these teams to reach the 98+ wins that AL teams have typically had.  At this time, the Red Sox have to be considered the favorite.  They probably would be even without the recent history, but this just add to it.

Atlanta: 94-64
Cardinals: 93-65
Dodgers: 90-66
Pirates: 90-67
Reds: 90-68

The Dodgers, Reds and Pirates all have the right # of wins, but the Pirates and Reds seem likely to play in the Wild Card game, which will put them at a disadvantage.  The Dodgers seem like the most likely NL team to win.

Could it really be this simple? Maybe, for this year.  The rules will be broken, but they've been fairly consistent for a while, so I'll go with it.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Nationals in good shape for next year?

Nationals OPS Ranking
April - #25
May - #28
June - #20
July - #6
August - #3
September - #3

Pre All-Star Break - #25
Post All-Star Break - #4

The Nationals went 48-47 before the All Star Break while their team ERA was #5.  If their offense had been even close to average during the first half they'd probably at least be tied for the 2nd Wild Card spot, if not in the lead.  Their performance during the 2nd half bodes well for next year, as long as Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper stay healthy.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Does it matter how well playoff teams finish in September?

September Win Ranking, WS Champs
2012- Giants (t-#1, 19-8)
2011- Cardinals (#3, 18-8)
2010 - Giants (#2, 18-8)
2009 - Yankees (#1, 19-9)
2008 - Phillies (t-2, 17-8)
2007 - Red Sox (t-6, 16-11)
2006 - Cardinals (#23, 12-16)
2005 - White Sox (t-4, 17-12)
2004 - Red Sox (t-4, 18-10)
2003 - Marlins (t-4, 18-8)
2002 - Angels (t-4, 18-9)

Average: #3.1, 17.8 wins

Some of this is because most teams that make the playoffs have to finish well in order to get in.  There are several teams this year (Braves, Dodgers, Tigers) that could finish poorly and still win the division (several more could win one of the wild cards if they finish poorly, but that would now put them at a big disadvantage). 

There are probably many more (although probably not many more extreme) examples than the 2006 Cardinals who finished badly and ended up winning it all.  The 2001 D-backs and 2000 Yankees didn't finish very strong either, and still won.  Still, the numbers are pretty consistent over the last decade or so.  Teams don't need to be the best, but they probably need to finish around the top 3 or 4 best in September to win it all.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More on Strikeouts in 2013

# of teams with 7.75+ K/9
2000: 0
2001: 4
2002: 2
2003: 3
2004: 2
2005: 1
2006: 1
2007: 0
2008: 1
2009: 5
2010: 7
2011: 5
2012: 10
2013: 12

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

More Domimant Pitching - 2013

4+ K/BB, 7+ K/9, 100+ IP (# of pitchers, since 2000)
2000: 4
2001: 7
2002: 3
2003: 7
2004: 5
2005: 7
2006: 7
2007: 8
2008: 6
2009: 8
2010: 5
2011: 8
2012: 9
2013: 15

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Should Jimmy Rollins be a Hall of Famer?

Does Jimmy Rollins belong in the Hall of Fame?  It's a hard question to answer, especially because his playing career isn't over yet.  He's only 34, but he's been in the league for 13 years and has nearly 2000 games under his belt. 

It's easy to imagine him playing another 4 or 5 years, although his production could decline to the point that he's no longer an everyday player.  If he continues playing everyday for another few years, you can throw another 300 runs, 50 homers and 500 hits or so onto what he has now.

One of the biggest things he has going for him is a mixture of power and speed.  No, he's not Barry or A-Rod in their prime (probably a good thing now), but he was a 30-30 guy in his MVP year of 2007 and he's gone 20-30 in 2006, 2009 and 2012. 

198+ HR, 400+ SB, 2100+ H, 1200+ R (since 1900)
Barry Bonds
Rickey Henderson
Craig Biggio
Joe Morgan
Johnny Damon
Paul Molitor
Roberto Alomar
Jimmy Rollins

He's already on the list and he's still only 34. 

225 HR. 440 SB, 1400 R, 2400 H
Barry Bonds
Rickey Henderson
Joe Morgan
Paul Molitor

Jimmy Rollins: 198 HR, 415 SB, 2127 H, 1227 R

Those are very achievable goals considering that he probably has at least several more years as an everyday player.  He's also won 4 golden glove awards in addition to his MVP.

There are plenty of knocks against him.  He's only finished in the top 10 in MVP voting once other than 2007 (finished 10th in 2005) and hasn't receiving a vote since.  He's only been in 3 all star games and was an average postseason performer (.250 average and 3 HR in 46 games; .222 in 2 WS appearances).  His on-base percentage is low (.328), especially for a lead-off hitter.

Even as he continues to rack of hits, SB and home runs, his career batting average will likely continue to slide.  His career average is .270 right now, but he's hitting .260 this year and hasn't hit over .270 since 2008.  He probably won't get to 3000 hits or anywhere close unless he stays productive for a long time.

That said, I think he should eventually get in (although probably not first ballot) if he ends up with around 225-250 HR, 450-500 SB, 2500 H and 1500 R, along with his 4 golden gloves and MVP.  There is no reason that getting 3000 hits should make entry to the Hall of Fame a virtual lock, while compiling great stats across the board shouldn't.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Signs of Trouble for the A's?

Playoff Contenders Struggling in July

#26 Pirates 53 (26th Overall)
#27 A's 52 (9th)

#18 Cardinals 4.03 (4th)
#20 Braves 4.12 (2nd)
#22 Rangers 4.26 (8th)

All of these numbers are probably making these teams very nervous, but the A's are the one to watch.  They are 10-6 in July on the strength of great pitching, but the collapse of their offense this month might be a sign that they've been playing over their heads. 

They do not have a lineup with established stars and their best hitters have weak track records.  July is a small sample size (16 games) and some of the players struggling in July (Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie) played fine in June.  The A's are have been surprising people for a while now and are certainly capable of leading the league in scoring runs in August (as they did in April), but this could also be the first sign that they might struggle to score runs for the rest of the year. 

They can still make the playoffs if they pitch well and the Rangers struggle, but it could make it very difficult to go deep in the playoffs. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Can the Royals still be a contender?-

Teams w/ Positive Run Differential
Cardinals +122
Red Sox +92
Tigers +90
Braves +76
A's +63
Reds +60
Rays +47
Pirates +42
Rangers +27
Orioles +25
D-Backs +21
Indians +16
Royals +4

Every team on that list is considered to be a serious playoff contender except for the Royals.  Several teams that are in the playoff race have a run differential at 0 (Yankees) or below 0 (Nationals).  The Royals are the only team under .500 that has a positive run differential, so they are clearly underachieving.

They are 6th in ERA and 23rd in runs, so scoring runs is their major problem.  Even there, they've been making improvements.

Runs scored, rank
April: 19th
May: 22nd
June: 16th
July: 11th

With the unbalanced schedule, they'll have their chance.  They have 11 more games against the Tigers and 8 against the Indians.  It is going to be hard for them to compete over the long run with the firepower of the Indians and Tigers.

But, as the Giants have shown in the past few years, a team can get by with a mediocre offense if they can pitch.  Their relievers are already dominating (ranked 3rd) and the starters are probably capable of doing more (ranked 15th).  They have a big test coming up in the final week before the All-Star Break, with 4 in the Bronx and 3 in Cleveland.  

Saturday, June 29, 2013

How are the Pirates doing it? Clutch Pitching

Lowest Slugging % allowed, Runners in Scoring Position (since 2009)
2009 - Dodgers (.327) finished 95-67
2010 - Giants (.346) 92-70, WS Champs
2011 - Braves (.329) 89-73
2012 - Nationals (.315) 98-64
2013 - Pirates (.307) 49-30

The Pirates are succeeding because of their pitching (2nd in ERA, 19th in Runs scored).  They're not particularly great at allowing walks (4th most) or striking out batters (11th most).  It all come down to the fact that they don't allow many hits.  They're #1 in lowest total batting average allowed, bases empty, runners on and runners in scoring position. 

They're 3rd in lowest slugging allowed with the bases empty because they allow a fair number of home runs (7th lowest), but it's with runners in scoring position that they become truly extraordinary.  The next closest in lowest slugging allowed with RISP is Boston at .348, which is an astounding 41 points higher (if you go 41 points higher than Boston, you'll get to Miami at #13).  The Pirates have allowed the 14th most walks, but the fewest hits and fewest home runs. 

Will it catch up with them at some point?  Maybe, but we're already halfway through the season.  It seems to be working for them.  The might not have a lot of clutch hitting (#26 in hitting with RISP), but they seem to have plenty of clutch pitching.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Rise of the Relievers?

20+ IP, 2.25 ERA or lower (since 1945)
52 - 2013
35 - 1968
34 - 1992
32 - 2011
32 - 2010
30 - 1972
29 - 2012

40+ IP, 2.25 ERA or lower (since 1945)
33 - 1968
28 - 1992
26 - 1972
24 - 2011
24 - 2010
23 - 2005
22 - 2002
21 - 2008
20 - 1990

This is intriguing, although it might end up not being much at the end of the season.  It is very difficult to finish the season with such a low ERA as a reliever because one or two bad outings can wipe out many good outings.  I went back and looked at how many pitchers were at this level (20 IP, 2.25 ERA) at the All-Star Break the last few years.

20+ IP, 2.25 ERA or lower, All Star Break
48 - 2012
44 - 2011
34 - 2010
28 - 2009
34 - 2008
31 - 2007
21 - 2006
30 - 2005
24 - 2004
19 - 2003
28 - 2002
19 - 2001
16 - 2000

It's similar to the numbers with the explosion of strikeouts in the past few years.  After hovering in the 20's and low 30's for a decade, it has moved up dramatically since 2010.  There are also 9 pitchers right now with between 15 and 20 innings pitched and an ERA under 2.25.  It wouldn't be surprising if the number at the All Star Break this year is in the mid-50's.

Then the question will be how many of them can hold onto it for the rest of the year.  If there are 40 or more pitchers at the end of 2013 with at least 40 IP and an ERA under 2.25, that would show how much the game has changed. 

The increase in dominant relievers who can strike batters out almost at will without allowing many hits or walks has tipped the balance away from the hitters in a way that might be difficult to reverse any time soon. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Low Batting Averages on the Rise

500+ PA, sub-.230 BA (since 2007)
2012: 13
2011: 10
2010: 4
2009: 3
2008: 4
2007: 3

500+ PA, sub-.230 BA (since 1900)
2012: 13
1904: 13
1972: 12
1915: 11
1906: 11
2011: 10
1968: 10
1963: 10
1914: 10
1907: 10

There are currently 25 players with at least 175 PA and a batting average of .230 or less, so the 2012 # could easily be smashed in 2013.

Monday, May 27, 2013

2013 could be record-breaking for players with lots of strikeouts and little power

20 HR or less, 155+ SO (since 1900)
  • 1900-2009 (12) 
    • 1968, 1984, 1990 (2), 1997 (2), 2001, 2002, 2004, 2003 (2), 2006
  • 2010-2012 (12)
    • 2010: 2
    • 2011: 4
    • 2012: 6
Austin Jackson (2010, 2011) and Drew Stubbs (2011, 2012) are the only players who had repeated this feat so far.

Threats for 2013 (6 or fewer HR, 47+ SO)
B.J. Upton (4 HR, 60 SO)
Rickie Weeks (3 HR, 54 SO)
Matt Kemp (2 HR, 54 SO)
Ike Davis (4 HR, 54 SO)
Ryan Howard (6 HR, 52 SO)
Drew Stubbs (3 HR, 52 SO)
Carlos Pena (3 HR, 48 SO)
Jarrod Salalamacchia (5 HR, 48 SO)
Ian Desmond (6 HR, 48 SO)
Starling Marte (5 HR, 48 SO)
Todd Frazier (6 HR, 47 SO)
Desmond Jennings (5 HR, 47 SO)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

More on Strikeouts

9+ K/9, 40+ IP (highest # of pitchers, since 1901)
2012: 91
2010: 69
2009: 66
2011: 61
2008: 57
2007: 54
2006: 51
2001: 49
2002: 44
2004: 43

For a preview of how it might end up in 2013, the number of pitchers with at least 9 K/9 and at least 10 IP so far is 120.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Team Batting Averages Continue to Slide

Average Team Batting Average
2006: .269
2007: .268
2008: .264
2009: .262
2010: .257
2011: .255
2012: .254
2013: .251

Another trend to watch, along with the skyrocketing strikeout rate.  My guess is that it holds steady for the rest of the year (average is .251 in both April and May), but it could slide even further as we get into the summer months. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Number of Teams with Terrible Hitting Just Keeps Getting Worse

Teams with OPS below .700
2000-2009:  8 ('01 Orioles, '02 Tigers; '03 Mets, Tigers, Dodgers; '08 Nationals, A's; '09 Giants)
2010: 5
2011: 10
2012: 7
2013: 10

Just as with the explosion of strikeouts, it is unbelievable how quickly the game has shifted in the last few years.  There are still teams at the top that can mash (Rangers, Tigers, Indians, etc.), but the number of teams that have anemic offenses just keeps getting worse.   

Monday, April 29, 2013

What happened to the Royals in 2013?

Royals ERA Rank
2000: #29
2001: #25
2002: #29
2003: #26
2004: #28
2005: #30
2006: #30
2007: #16
2008: #22
2009: #26
2010: #29
2011: #27
2012: #23
2013 #2

As you can see, the Royals have been remarkably consistent over the 13 years.  They have averaged a 26th place in ERA.  That is clearly one of the worst, and probably the worst over that time period (the other usual suspects like the Orioles and Rockies have fluctuated enough that they're probably a bit better).  The Royals, who are a pleasant surprise at 13-9 aren't hitting much (20th in runs, 12th in OPS) and while they have some good hitters, they're not going to hit their way to the playoffs.

How have they done it?  They're 6th in starting ERA and 7th in bulllpen ERA, making for a balanced attack.  Last year, they were 6th in bullpen ERA and 26th in starting ERA.  The reason this might continue is that their starting rotation is almost completely different from last year.

In 2012, they got starts from Bruce Chen (34 starts), Luke Hochevar (32), Luis Mendoza (25), Jeremy Guthrie (14), Will Smith (16), Jonathan Sanchez (12) and a handful from a few others.

In 2013, they have a starting rotation of Ervin Santana, James Shields, Wade Davis, Jeremy Guthrie and Luis Mendoza.  Chen and Hochevar were moved to the bullpen and are pitching very well (1 ER in 15 IP).  They acquired Santana in a trade with Angels last October, with Shields and Davis coming from Tampa in a trade last December.  No one is mistaking Santana for Justin Verlander, and while he underachieved the last few years, he won 17 games as recently as 2010.

The Royals are lucky to be in a division that will probably have only one other good team (Tigers).  The Tigers came out of nowhere in 2006, the Orioles did in last year (although going 16-2 in extra inning games would be hard to replicate), and the Royals have a shot at the playoffs this year if the starters continue to pitch well.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Relievers are even harder to hit in 2013

Bullpen BAA
2004 .259
2005 .256
2006 .259
2007 .256
2008 .253
2009 .250
2010 .250
2011 .243
2012 .242
2013 .235

Starters have also improved, but only down to .257 in 2013 from .270 in 2004.  This is a startling drop, and is not a surprise considering the huge increase in strikeouts among relievers.  Just as with the strikeouts, it is interesting to consider how much further this could go. 

It doesn't seem possible that this trend could continue forever, but could relievers be holding the league to a .220 average in a few years or even .200.  Something like that might trigger some kind of response to help the hitters like when the mound was lower after the '68 season.  It is possible that this is as low as it is going to go, but we'll have to wait and see. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Explosion of Strikeouts has Continued in 2013

K/9 (year, highest in any month)
2005 6.38 (6.49 - September)
2006 6.58 (6.86 - September)
2007 6.67 (7.05 - September)
2008 6.83 (7.10 - September)
2009 6.98 (7.12 - August)
2010 7.13 (7.33 - September)
2011 7.13 (7.48 - September)
2012 7.56 (7.79 - September)
2013 7.76

The lowest total from any month in 2012 was 7.36 in April, which made it higher than any individual month from 2005 to 2011.  The trend here is remarkable, but it obviously can't continue going up like this forever.  It does not seem at all ridiculous to assume that pitchers could average over 8 strikeouts per 9 innings for an entire month and then an entire season. 

Why is this happening?  This article from Tyler Kepner in the New York Times before the season started discusses several different possibilities, one of which is increased specialization in the bullpen.  As more and more great pitching prospects are placed on a path early on in their careers to be a bullpen strikeout specialist, we will see more astonishing seasons.  In 2012, there were 4 pitchers (Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Ernesto Frieri) with at least 60 innings and a K/9 average of over 13 (there was a total of 9 between 2000 and 2010). 

Starters; Relievers
2005: 6.04; 7.10
2006: 6.21; 7.29
2007: 6.29; 7.36
2008: 6.44; 7.53
2009: 6.64; 7.61
2010: 6.76; 7.85
2011: 6.74; 7.90
2012: 7.12; 8.40
2013: 7.27; 8.57

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Can the Rockies make the playoffs in 2013?

Runs Scored - Home, Away; ERA - Home, Away (Colorado Rockies)
2007 #2, 14, 20, 7 (90-73, NL Champs)
2008 #10, 24, 27, 20 (74-88)
2009 #2, 21, 22, 7 (92-70, Wild Card)
2010 #1, 28, 23, 8 (83-79)
2011 #4, 28, 29, 19 (73-89)
2012 #1, 30, 30, 20 (64-98)

If the Rockies are going to compete for a playoff spot, we probably know how they're going to do it based on recent history.  When they made the playoffs in 2007 and 2009, they went 51-31 and 51-30 at home in those two seasons.  On the road, they were around .500 in both seasons. 

Their recipe for success is to be at the top in offense at home, somewhere near the middle in road offense and home pitching and a top 10 road ERA.  The only thing that has held steady is that they've been able to score runs in Colorado even as they nearly lost 100 games last year. 

They've been a pleasant surprise so far this year with a 4-1 start (only other teams with a 4-1 start are the much-hyped Nationals, Braves and D-Backs).  So far, they've done well in every area, scoring 19 runs in their 3 game road series in Milwaukee and only game up 5 runs in two games at home to the Padres. 

Can they compete?  It will help if they have only five pitchers that start over 10 games (like they did in 2009) rather than 9 like in 2012.  If Tulowitzki stays healthy, that'll give them a big boost.  Teams come out of nowhere every year to make the playoffs, and it will happen even more often with 2 Wild Card spots up for grabs.  The Rockies might be one of those teams. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

More Strikeouts, Fewer Walks

3.00+ K/BB (since 2000)
2002 Diamondbacks
2006 Twins
2011 Phillies
2012 Phillies
2012 Yankees
2012 Tigers

Just another example of the increased dominance of pitchers over even just a few years ago.  Interestingly, the Tigers, Yankees and Phillies ranked #9, 11 and 12 in ERA last year.  There are, of course, many other factors that go into how many runs a team gives (including the type of park they play in), but I would expect teams with a 3.00+ K/BB this year to have a decent ERA.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Guest Post - 5 MLB Players Who Could Finally Become All-Stars in 2013

With 750 players on 30 MLB teams, only a small percentage of them are selected as All-Stars. Inevitably, several of those stars having good seasons are left off the All-Star roster despite putting up stellar first-half numbers.

Quite a few new names could finally have their names called out as All-Star selections in 2013. Here are five such players who could be among those names called.

1. Brett Lawrie: Toronto Blue Jays

Third baseman Brett Lawrie got off to a promising start in his Toronto Blue Jays career, hitting .293 with nine home runs in 43 games after his call-up from the minors in 2011. He backed that up by hitting .273 with 11 home runs and 48 RBI in 2012, showing fans a passion and penchant for going all-out on every play.

The 2013 season could be the year that Lawrie breaks through with an All-Star selection. Considering he’ll be enhanced by a vastly improved offense around him in Toronto, it’s a distinct possibility.

2. Jonathon Lucroy: Milwaukee Brewers

Catcher Jonathan Lucroy was on his way to a special season last year when he was placed on the disabled list courtesy of a broken hand suffered while retrieving a suitcase in his hotel room. Lucroy was hitting .345 with five HR and 30 RBI at the time of his accident.

A healthy and productive first half could very well see Lucroy playing at Citi Field in New York in mid-July for the National League All-Star team.

3. Allen Craig: St. Louis Cardinals

While he started the season late, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig finished the 2012 season with impressive numbers. Craig hit .307 with 22 HR and 92 RBIs in 119 games.

Craig is now a key component in a potent Cardinals’ offense and could be rewarded with an All-Star selection if he produces in the first half of 2013 in the same manner in which he ended last season.

4. Austin Jackson: Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers were patient with young center fielder Austin Jackson, allowing him to progress through growing pains in his first two seasons.

Their patience paid off, as Jackson put together a career year in 2012, hitting .300 with 16 HR, 66 RBI and a league-leading 10 triples. At just 26 years of age, Jackson gives the Tigers plenty of promise for the future, and with that promise will likely garner All-Star selections as well.

5. Salvador Perez: Kansas City Royals

The Kansas City Royals were so enamored with young catcher Salvador Perez that they rewarded him with a five-year, $7 million contract following his brief but impressive debut in 2011. Perez hit a robust .331 with three HR and 21 RBI in 39 games following his call-up from the minors.

Perez’s 2012 season got off to a miserable after a knee injury during spring training required surgery. Perez finally made it back in late June and managed to hit .301 with 11 HR and 39 RBIs.

Perez is without question one of the rising young stars behind the plate in the American League, and his time to shine in the All-Star Game could come as early as this season.

This is a guest post submitted by Ally Silva. Ally played all kinds of sports growing up and adamantly follows everything sports now, particularly Chicago sports. She works with Phoenix Bats, a company that creates world-class wooden bats for amateur and professional ball players around the world. Ally loves writing on different sports topics and is very grateful to be able to contribute here.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Breakout Stars in 2013?

4.00+ K/BB, 9+ K/9

Pre All Star Break 2012 (min. 60 inn.)
Cliff Lee (Phillies) 4.90, 9.06
R.A. Dickey (Mets) 4.73, 9.23
Stephen Strasburg (Nationals) 4.57, 11.64
Zack Greinke (Angels) 4.27, 9.00
Cole Hamels (Phillies) 4.07, 9.00

Post All Star Break 2012 (min. 60 inn.)
James Shields (Rays) 4.75, 9.41
Marco Estrada (Brewers) 4.63, 9.07
David Price (Rays) 4.55, 9.06
Jeff Samardzija (Cubs) 4.21, 9.82
Max Scherzer (Tigers) 4.07, 10.96

Most of the names here are not a surprise.  It includes both Cy Young winners from last year and most of the pitchers are well established.  The exceptions are Marco Estrada and Jeff Samardzija, who combined to go 14-20 last year and are a combined 30-38 in their career. 

They are both primed for breakout seasons after finishing so strong in 2012.  It might be easier for Estrada  to win games, though, because the Brewers were 3rd in runs scored last year (and finished 83-79), while the dreadful Cubs were 28th in runs scored (and 61-101).

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Guest Post: The Five Early Favorites To Win The World Series In 2013

Although the baseball season is still a couple months away, it is never too early to start thinking ahead to the 2013 World Series. Several teams have already made moves to enhance their chances of being contenders this season. Which five teams are most likely to emerge as the world champions of baseball this season?

1) Washington Nationals

The Nationals were arguably the best team in baseball last season. The only thing that stopped them from going all the way to the World Series last year was the early benching of Steven Strasburg. Strasburg was benched due to an innings limit imposed on him as he continued his recovery from Tommy John surgery. In his absence, Gio Gonzalez emerged as another reliable arm in the rotation. If the pitching holds up, there should be plenty of offense to carry the team all the way to a championship.

2) Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays did the most this winter to improve their team going forward. They started by fleecing the Miami Marlins for all of their best players. Having Jose Reyes playing at shortstop will give them an outstanding defensive presence as well as as big bat in the lineup. Toronto also acquired R.A. Dickey from the Mets who was one of the best pitchers in the league last season. He will join Brandon Marrow in a starting rotation that is suddenly looking strong this season.

3) Anaheim Angels

Albert Pujols is not likely to start another season in a slump. Mike Trout is going to be ready to play from day one and the Angels pitching staff should be good enough to make the run support hold up. The Angels were one of the best teams after June 1st last season and are looking to keep their momentum going. If Jarrod Weaver stays healthy, they will have one of the best top of the rotation pitchers in the league.

4) San Francisco Giants

Who knew that Barry Zito would be able to find his winning form again? The Giants won 14 consecutive games that he started from August through the World Series. Combined with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, they have a rotation that is going to be hard to beat. Buster Posey will be itching to prove that his breakout season last year was not a fluke. Posey lead the Giants in home runs, runs batted in and batting average. If he can replicate those kinds of numbers, the Giants will not be giving up their title without a fight.

5) St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals aren't going to be a particularly talented team heading into the 2013 season. However, they seem to always find a way to get into the playoffs. Once they get in, they find the magic touch and go deep into the playoffs. In fact, it was shocking that they didn't manage to beat the Giants last season in the NLCS. If they do get in this year, it will be because of pitchers Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright. Lynn won 18 games last season and Wainwright lead the team with 184 strikeouts. On offense, they will be looking to Carlos Beltran to hit over 30 home runs again this season.

This could be one of the most competitive seasons in recent baseball history. Several teams that have been afterthoughts in the league made moves to strengthen their rosters while traditional powers such as Boston and both New York teams are struggling to field decent rosters. This could be the year that we finally get to see the dream World Series match-up between the Washington Nationals and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Author Bio: Don Phan is a part time sports blogger and works full time for Fanatics, Inc. as a marketing associate. His company boasts a large selection of MLB fan gear for all 30 major league teams.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Lowest OPS allowed since 2000

Lowest OPS Allowed
2000 Braves .721
2001 Mariners .679
2002 Braves .677
2003 Dodgers .660
2004 Cardinals .715
2005 Indians .689
2006 Padres .716
2007 Padres .686
2008 Blue Jays .689
2009 Dodgers .673
2010 Padres .676
2011 Giants .655
2012 Rays .646

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Guest Post: Will Josh Hamilton Deliver for the Angels this Season?

Josh Hamilton surprised a lot of people by signing a five year contract with the Anaheim Angels recently. While there was no doubt that he was going to sign somewhere for a lot of money, most people assumed that he was going to stay in Texas. There were many good reasons for him to do so. Can he be productive next year in Anaheim?

Who Will Watch Over Him?

It was thought that the Texas Rangers had at least one employee who was devoted to making sure that Hamilton was staying on the straight and narrow. It has been well chronicled that Hamilton has had issues with alcohol addiction throughout his life. He has even succumbed to his addiction on at least two separate occasions. If he is not able to keep his demons in check with someone watching him, will he be able to do so if the Angels don't afford him that same treatment?

How Will He Adjust To His New Team?

Albert Pujols was a player that many thought would put Anaheim over the top last season. However, he struggled from the plate early in the season. Those struggles put himself and the team in an early hole that they were not able to climb their way out of. Will Hamilton have the same type of slump to start the season that Pujols did? The answer to that question is still relatively unclear. For starters, Pujols was still adjusting to pitchers in a new league who he had little experience with. Hamilton will have the luxury of facing the same pitchers for the most part.

He Won't Have To Be The Man

The good news is that he won't have to be the main star on that team. The Angels will have Pujols, Mike Trout and players like Jarrod Weaver to go along with Hamilton. This means that he will have protection in the lineup as well as other faces that fans will be able to take out their anger on if things go bad. That alone should allow him to relax and play like the superstar that he is. Another factor working in his favor is that there may be a honeymoon period where fans allow him to struggle as he finds his role on the team.

The Division Won't Be As Strong This Year

Even if he doesn't play well, he may not need to approach the levels of last year to help out the team. The Mariners are not going to be a contender yet again this season, the Rangers have been decimated by free agent defections and the A's have to prove that they can win again next season. 90 wins or so may be enough to win that division. Therefore, playing in a weaker division may actually help him put up good numbers next season.

When all is said and done, Josh Hamilton will be worth the $125 million that he is being paid over the next five seasons. While some say that he is past his prime, it is inconceivable that he will suffer a significant drop in production over the next two years when his salary is actually going to be less than it will be in the final years of his deal. Overall, he should be a great value for the Angels in 2013.

Author Bio: Don Phan is a part time sports blogger and works full time for Fanatics, Inc. as a marketing associate. His company boasts a large selection of MLB fan gear for all 30 major league teams.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Team Walk Leaders by Season

Most BB - Team (since 2000)
2012 Rays (571)
2011 Yankees (627)
2010 Rays (672)
2009 Yankees (663)
2008 Red Sox (646)
2007 Red Sox (689)
2006 Red Sox (672)
2005 Red Sox (653)
2004 Giants (705)
2003 Yankees (684)
2002 D-Backs (643)
2001 Padres (678)
2000 Mariners (775)
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