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    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    Retired Numbers Series: Atlanta Braves

    The Braves are a challenging team to cover for in the Retired Numbers Series. Only one team-the Cubs-can compare to them in age; both teams got their start in 1876, making them the two oldest teams in existence. Thanks to their long and storied history, they have a wealth of candidates for future retirement. What does the future hold for them? Well, there’s at least one obvious candidate. Let’s begin.

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

    The Replacement Team: What's the Most Balanced Playoff Team Possible?

    So, we’ve reached that point in the offseason; there’s not a ton going on, so I figured now would be as good a time as any to look at something I’ve been wondering for a while now: What’s the most underwhelming playoff team you could construct?

    By this, I mean, could you build a playoff-caliber roster if every single player was just above average? And what would that roster look like. This evolved from an thought I had a while ago: what if you just had a full roster of starter level players? And team of just replacement-level players (0 WAR) would be expected to win around 43 games*. So, a 25-man roster of 2 WAR players, or basic starter level, should have 50 WAR, and thereby, 93-ish wins.

    *I’ve heard estimates ranging from 40 to 50. Based on Fangraphs’ WAR data from 2012, the average team won 43.3 more games than their Wins Above Replacement. This number will vary a little from year to year, but the neighborhood of 43-45 Wins as a baseline is a good estimate if you don’t feel like calculating it out.

    The problem with that is you would need 2 Win relievers and bench players. That’s not really practical; if you can get 2 Wins in limited bench time like that, you’re therefore not starter level. If you are starter level, you won’t get to 2 WAR in limited playing time.

    Thursday, January 24, 2013

    Knee-Jerk Reactions: The Braves Continue Improving, the DiamondbacksContinue Being Confusing

    Justin Upton’s ticket out of Arizona has final been punched, after two years of speculation and one false start to Seattle. But he finally found his way to the Atlanta Braves, joining his older brother B.J. Yes, in one offseason, the Braves have collected the set of Upton Brothers.

    Overall, I like this move for the Braves a lot more, although its not necessarily bad for the Diamondbacks. It definitely beats the Chris Young-Cliff Pennington trade, or giving Trevor Bauer away to the Cleveland Indians.

    The Braves gave up a significant amount in their package, in Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Nick Ahmed, Zeke Spruill, and Brandon Drury. But if you’re giving up that much, you should get a player like Justin Upton. Despite his down 2012 year, Upton is still just 25 and showed immense talent in 2011. I think he’d make a great bounce-back candidate, given his injuries last year. On top of that, he’s still under contract for three more seasons at a reasonable rate. If he can get back to his .289/.369/.529 line from 2012 (which, at 25, there’s a large possibility of happening), he’s a steal.

    Monday, January 21, 2013

    The Historic...2004 Astros?

    So, over the summer, there was talk of the Yankees having nine possible Hall of Famers. That seems crazy at first, but think about it.

    Derek Jeter is a definite, first-ballot player. Mariano Rivera and Ichiro almost certainly are too, despite being a closer and a late start, respectively. Alex Rodriguez will almost certainly get in someday, steroids and all. Robinson Cano and CC Sabathia are both well on their way to the Hall, and if you don’t believe it, check these out.* Andy Pettitte, Andruw Jones, and Mark Teixeira will have there supporters.

    *It’s so much fun to have past research to refer back to.

    Friday, January 18, 2013

    50 Best Players Not in the Hall of...Merit?

    So, in my rage against the Hall of Fame last week, I mentioned maybe just diverting a majority of my focus to Baseball Think Factory’s Hall of Merit next year. After looking at it for some time, I think that I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s closer to the Hall of Fame that I’m expecting than the actual Hall of Fame is.

    How so? Well, as you recall, for a chunk of time in December (for the second year in a row), I contributed to Graham Womack’s 50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame project. My end result was 50 players who I thought could be safely added to Cooperstown without lowering their standards.

    How would a similar project look for the Hall of Merit? Are they really that much better? Basically, the Hall of Merit is an alternative to the Hall where Baseball Think Factory “went back” (all the way to 1898) and began electing players who would have been eligible for the Hall of Fame had it existed at that time. The top players from each ballot were selected, with the goal being to match up with the Hall in size by the time they reached present day (at the time of the Hall’s creation). Since that point, they’ve continued electing players, with rates revised to reflect the size and quality of the league in comparison with historical standards. A more in depth description can be found here.

    Back to the original question: using the same rules as the 50 Best Players not in the Hall, what would a 50 Best Not in the Hall of Merit look like?

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    Retired Numbers Series: Chicago Cubs

    The Cubs are one of the two oldest teams currently playing in the Major Leagues, dating all the way back to 1876. With a history that long, that means there will be a lot of players to cover in their entry in the Retired Numbers Series. Even with their lack of October success, the Cubs have had a lot of good players in their history. Are there any players that might be honored now? Or is their best bet further off into the future?

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

    Best Hitters, 28-30, And the Hall: A Continuation

    Last week, I looked at future Hall of Famers, seeing how their WAR at certain ages reflected their chance of making the Hall. The finding for hitters was that that, by age 25, if the player has topped the Hall of Fame median (as per Baseball-Reference), they have a greater than 50% chance of making the Hall of Fame, while with pitchers, it takes until the age of 30.

    Since it started as a look at promising young major leaguers, I only went to the age of 27 for hitters. Since I went through the age of 30 for pitchers, though. I may as well look at the ages 28 through 30 for hitters as well.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013

    Retired Numbers Series: Tampa Bay Rays

    The Rays are different than most of the other teams in the league, let alone the other teams that I’ve covered in the Retired Numbers Series. Almost the entirety of the history they would want to honor has come in the past half-dozen or so years. As a consequence, this article will likely skew heavily to projection. Not that that’s bad; it’ll just take longer to see the predictions tested.

    Monday, January 14, 2013

    Could a Rangers-Cardinals Blockbuster Work?

    It’s been interesting to follow the off seasons of the Rangers and Cardinals, especially as a comparison. Both have been relatively quiet (although the Rangers were quieter a few weeks ago), but for different reasons.

    The Rangers have been going after numerous players and falling short, being unable to appease the Diamondbacks’ demands for Justin Upton, then missing on free agents Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton. The Cardinals have made few moves also, but more due to planning to stand pat, so as to hold on to both prospects and current players. However, there are still areas for improvement there.

    The two might be able to help each other make major upgrades, if they’re both willing to gamble. The Cardinals only major hole in the line-up is the middle infield (between an oft-injured Rafael Furcal and a cast of call-ups), while the Rangers have two shortstops and a second baseman. Could the two match-up?

    Friday, January 11, 2013

    Could the 2018 Hall Ballot Newcomers Match the Class of 2013?

    Well, it’s been a few days since the Hall of Fame announcement that no one is going in for 2013. And, by now, you’ve surely heard about how this problem won’t be going away next year, with easy-choice Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, and Mike Mussina all joining the ballot, as well as borderline case Jeff Kent. And then the year after that, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Gary Sheffield all get added on.

    The 2016 and 2017 ballots seem to relax a little from 4+ candidates per year-2016 sees Ken Griffey and Jim Edmonds join the ballot (as well as Trevor Hoffman, depending how you feel about closers), while 2017 brings Ivan Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and Vladimir Guerrero (among others) on the ballot. But surely, this onslaught of candidates will stop, right?

    Actually, it might not. Just based on how the offseason so far has been going. The 2018 Cooperstown ballot might be the deepest of any of these next five, actually. It lacks the a Maddux or Johnson at the top, but while it may not reach the peak that those ballots do, it definitely comes close at the top, and runs just as many names deep.

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

    Knee-Jerk Reactions: The Hall of Fame Hopefully Sets Off Down Road to Ruin

    Well, I can’t say I didn’t see this coming. Baseball Think Factory’s Vote Counter predicted no one making it, but there was still the off chance of Craig Biggio sneaking in. But it’s official. No one is in the Hall of Fame.

    Really, in a way, this was probably the best case scenario. The Hall of Fame is just speeding up the timeframe until they can be considered irrelevant. They’ve been struggling with budgets for some time, and a summer in which the marquee draw is Deacon White (died 1939) won’t do them any favors. If this election didn’t convince you that the Hall is fast approaching irrelevance, maybe the Hall shutting down will do it.

    Even as a fan, I’m wondering why I care. There’s really only one player in the Hall I have any sort of emotional attachment to (Cal Ripken). Heck, Only ten players in Cooperstown even played a game after I attended my first baseball game. Half of those were out of the league within three years of my first game. I care more about the players not in the Hall yet. If the voters are just going to ignore every player from my era, why do I care about their Hall? It isn’t going to get much better.

    Best Pitchers 27 and Under, and the Hall: A Continuation of Yesterday's Two Ideas

    The other day, I looked at Hall of Fame precedent and young hitters. The article is here, but long story short, you can already say with over 60% certainty* that Ryan Zimmerman will be a Hall of Famer (but go check it out for the reasoning).

    *Not accounting for the BBWAA’s bias against third basemen, of course.

    I figured,then, why not try it with the pitchers? I again looked at Baseball-Reference’s Play Index for Hall of Fame pitchers from the ages of 20 to 27 (from 1901 on), then looked at how today’s aces compared.

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

    Jeff Bagwell Inducted by Baseball Bloggers Alliance, Foreshadows Doom and Such

    Well, this doesn’t look good for Cooperstown.

    The Baseball Bloggers Alliance announced their voting results. After inducting Barry Larkin and Jeff Bagwell last year, this year, we seem to have decided on...

    Just Bagwell a second time. And his percentage went down, to just over the 75% limit. At least it beats the BBWAA, where it looks like no one will get in. And this from a ballot where something like 20 candidates have their supporters.

    Anyway, newcomers Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza were next, each with 69% of the vote. Barry Bonds and Tim Raines each got 62%. For Raines, it was a roughly 4 and a half percentage point improvement. Roger Clemens was the only other player to get at least half of the vote, sitting at 56%.

    Edgar Martinez and Alan Trammell were next, and their tallies dropped 15 to 20 points from last year. Curt Schilling got just over a third of the vote. Oh well. At least we inducted someone, and kept Kenny Lofton on the ballot. I don’t even think the BBWAA will manage that.

    Best Players 27 and Under and the Hall: Two Separate Ideas

    So, Dan Szymborski ran an interesting article over at ESPN a few weeks ago in which he projected the careers for MLB’s 24-and-under stars to see who might be looking at the Hall of Fame. I enjoy looking many years into the future, and I’ve been meaning to look at the many young stars of the game for a while now. Now seems like a good time to do so, especially with a Hall of Fame context.

    So, I used Baseball-Reference’s Play Index and found the median WAR for Hall of Fame batters and pitchers at each age from 20 to 27 (from 1901 on), then looked at how today’s young stars compared.

    Monday, January 7, 2013

    Top 50 Players Not in the Hall: Final Comparison

    Graham Womack finally posted the results of this year’s 50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame project last week. So why not compare my ballot to the final results?

    Out of the 50 players, there were 39 who overlapped in the two, including the top 24 vote-getters. In order of most votes received, they are (place on the final project included):

    Saturday, January 5, 2013

    Happy 2013!

    Well, it’s several days late, but Happy 2013! The first full calendar year at Hot Corner Harbor went better than expected, with plenty of interesting articles as well as the continuation or start of several major series.

    With 2012 officially in the books, it’s time to look at the year’s top articles.