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    Saturday, December 29, 2012

    50 Best 2012 Wrap-Up and Analysis

    I finished this year’s look at my 50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame in about half the time of last year. So, I figured the best way to finish this series (and this year, as I will be taking the next week off) would be a wrap-up similar to last year’s.

    So, just like last year, we’ll begin with a positional look at my top 50.

    P: 11
    C: 4
    1B: 6
    2B: 5
    3B: 7
    SS: 3
    LF: 4
    CF: 2
    RF: 7
    DH: 1

    Pitchers are obviously leading the way, with third base and right field leading batters.Overall, nothing too shocking. The only positions that changed by more than one person from last year are first and third base, both of which decreased by two.

    Friday, December 28, 2012

    BBA Hall of Fame Ballot, 2012

    My Hall of Fame ballot for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance vote is due soon, and since I just covered the 50 Best Players Not in the Hall, it seemed like a good time to continue on the topic. Heck, I even had an entire post just about the players on this year’s ballot. But that brings up an important question:

    In my article, I had 14 players from this year’s ballot listed as worthy. The "real" voters only get 10 spaces to vote, though. It’s a stupid rule, but it still applies. So, if I were voting for the BBWAA instead of the BBA, who would I cut?

    Thursday, December 27, 2012

    50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame 2012, Part 5

    For the second year, I’m participating in Baseball Past and Present’s 50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame project. First, I covered players still on the ballot. Then, I started on to the backlog of candidates. He’s the final part of the older candidates. Each player is listed with their teams (in order of games played), position, and Hall Rating from the Hall of Stats (which works similar to OPS+; 100 is the baseline for a Hall of Famer).

    Ted Simmons, Cardinals/Brewers/Braves, C, 111-Catchers in general are underrated in the Hall, as previously mentioned. Even considering that, though, the voters passing on Simmons is a little odd. His 2472 hits are second most for a catcher, behind only Ivan Rodriguez (meaning he was number one when he retired). He’s tenth among catchers in home runs with 248 (and Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, and Javy Lopez all started after he retired, meaning he was even higher up on the list when he first hit the Hall ballot), and second in doubles with 483 (again, only behind Ivan).

    I was kind of surprised to see his Hall Rating at only 111. However, 1) that still puts him in a tie for eleventh all-time among catchers; and 2) he hung on too long. His final fives seasons were pretty bad (-2.9 bWAR and -1.4 fWAR). If he had just quit after 1983, his Hall rating would probably have gone up to something like 137 (if my math is correct), squarely between Mike Piazza and Yogi Berra. Not to say that those seasons shouldn’t count, but, at the same time, Yogi Berra was a second-ballot Hall of Famer, and Piazza might be a first balloter. If they tacked on three or four more seasons with the Mets and A’s (respectively) like the ones they had at the end of their real careers, would that have suddenly invalidated their entire Hall cases? At the very least, I think there’s definitely room in Cooperstown for Simmons. I suppose you get overlooked as a catcher when your career overlaps with Johnny Bench's.

    For his career, Simmons was worth 46.7 bWAR and 61.2 fWAR.

    Wednesday, December 26, 2012

    50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame 2012, Part 4

    For the second year, I’m participating in Baseball Past and Present’s 50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame project. First, I covered players still on the ballot. Then, I started on to the backlog of candidates. He’s the third part of the older candidates. Each player is listed with their teams (in order of games played), position, and Hall Rating from the Hall of Stats (which works similar to OPS+; 100 is the baseline for a Hall of Famer).

    Sherry Magee, Phillies/Braves/Reds, LF, 109-Magee was one of the premier sluggers of his (early) time. Among players to debut before 1910, he ranks ninth in home runs with 83. He also ranks twelfth in slugging percentage in the same group. His 137 OPS+ (from a .291/.364/.427 batting line) puts him in the same territory as players like Will Clark, Todd Helton, Joe Medwick, and Al Simmons. Add in that he was a moderately above-average fielder in left, and you have someone that clears the Hall standards, with 55.8 bWAR and 73.2 fWAR. I would still put him in the Hall, but he’ll probably be one of the first to go next year when even more worthy candidates are added and only one or two are cleared off of this list.

    Minnie Miñoso, White Sox/Indians/Senators/Cardinals, LF, 99-Miñoso is a little like Magee; he was good, but he might need to be one of the first to go next year when I need to add four or five more candidates. Also, with only twelve full seasons, part of his candidacy is dependent on assumptions (how he would have done if he got an earlier start without the Negro Leagues, how he would have done if his age was, in fact, reported wrong, which it might not have been, etc.).

    In any case, he was still a good player. In his shortened career, he managed a 130 OPS+ thanks to a .298/.389/.459 batting line. In addition to being good at getting on base , he also managed 205 steals and played solid defense in left. Fangraphs gives him 58.2 WAR, while Baseball-Reference has him at 47.5.

    Friday, December 21, 2012

    50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame 2012, Part 3

    For the second year, I’m participating in Baseball Past and Present’s 50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame project. First, I covered players still on the ballot. Then, I started on to the backlog of candidates. He’s the second part of the older candidates. Each player is listed with their teams (in order of games played), position, and Hall Rating from the Hall of Stats (which works similar to OPS+; 100 is the baseline for a Hall of Famer).

    Bob Caruthers, Browns(Cardinals)/Bridegrooms(Dodgers)/Reds/Colts(Cubs), RF/P, 118-Bob Caruthers was like Babe Ruth before Babe Ruth, in that he was a great hitter AND pitcher. In ten seasons, from 1884 to 1893, Caruthers spent 366 games in the outfield and 340 games at pitcher. In that time, he went 218-99 with a 2.83 ERA (good for a 122 ERA+) while hitting .282/.391/.400 (a 134 OPS+). Going by Baseball-Reference, that gives him 40.1 pitching WAR and 18.6 batting WAR*. I think he was both good enough and interesting enough to merit induction.

    *Note that 1800s WAR is kind of weird in that way. The pitchers WAR is greater because of the greater number of innings, while the shorter schedule cut into the batting WAR. That 18.6 batting WAR came in 705 games, or about as many as Joey Votto has played in six seasons.

    Eddie Cicotte, White Sox/Red Sox/Tigers, P, 108-Cicotte was banned with Shoeless Joe Jackson and the rest of the Black Sox. He was the ace of that team, too, with a 176 ERA+ and 29 wins in almost 307 innings. His 123 career ERA+ is in the neighborhood of Mike Mussina and Don Drysdale. His 53.6 bWAR is also good, especially when you consider he probably had a few more good seasons left in him when he was forced out of the game. He was 36 in his final season, but he also posted 4.7 Wins. I’d say it’s good enough for the Hall.

    Monday, December 17, 2012

    Knee-Jerk Reactions: The Blue Jays Pull Off the Type of Trade the Royals Were Trying to Make

    Things are looking pretty close to done on the trade that sends reigning Cy Young R.A. Dickey from the Mets to the Blue Jays. All that’s left is for Toronto to work out an extension with the knuckleballer and the seven player trade will apparently be official.

    Granted, we don’t know all the variables yet. We do know that Dickey, catcher Josh Thole, and a non-impact prospect will be going to Toronto, and that top prospects Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, catcher John Buck, and a non-impact prospect will be going to New York. So all that’s left are the last two prospects and the exact figures of the extension for Dickey.

    Still, I would not hesitate to call this a more fair version of the Royals-and-Rays trade that went down last week. It’s not hard to see the similarities. Both feature a team trading highly regarded young talent for a top of the rotation starter in the hopes that they can compete in 2013. The Royals and Jays even had similar records this past season; the Royals went 72-90, while the Blue Jays went 73-89.

    There were three major problems that I had with the James Shields trade: the quality given up, the return, and how it affected the team’s playoff chances in the future. To be totally honest, that’s pretty much every part of the trade. But what about the Blue Jays’ deal makes it significantly better?

    Fighting Tomorrow's Ignorance Now 3: Andruw Jones Is Going to Japan and Might Be Done

    Andruw Jones is officially signing with the Rakuten Eagles. It seems weird to think that he’s only 35 going on 36, yet he might be done in the Major Leagues. If this is the end of his career, since it’s Hall of Fame season, it makes sense to combine the two thoughts and start looking at his Hall of Fame case.

    The first thing to do would be to look at his counting numbers, since that will be the first thing most voters look at. He played parts of seventeen seasons in the majors-which is actually incredible when you combine that with the information that he’s retiring at the age of 35. He debuted in 1996 at the age of 19.

    Anyway, in those seventeen seasons, he amassed 1933 hits and 434 home runs. Among players who spent a majority of their games at center field, that puts him fourth behind Willie Mays (660), Ken Griffey (630), and Mickey Mantle (434), and just ahead of Duke Snider (407) and Jim Edmonds (393). That’s a pretty solid group. However, that isn’t a totally accurate representation of his offensive output.

    Friday, December 14, 2012

    50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame 2012, Part 2

    For the second year, I’m participating in Baseball Past and Present’s 50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame project. Last time, I covered players still on the ballot. Now, I’m delving into the backlog of worthy candidates. Each player is listed with their teams (in order of games played), position, and Hall Rating from the Hall of Stats (which works similar to OPS+; 100 is the baseline for a Hall of Famer).

    Dick Allen, Phillies/White Sox/Dodgers/Cardinals/Athletics, 1B/3B, 115-Most of these players appeared on my ballot last year, so I’ll probably just do a quick rundown for each player. Allen was a great hitter in a difficult hitting environment, hitting 351 home runs and posting a .292/.378/.534 (average/OBP/slugging) batting line that translates to a 156 OPS+ and places him nineteenth all-time. Granted, his career was a little short at fifteen seasons, but right ahead of him are Johnny Mize and Hank Greenberg, who each played 15 and 13 seasons, respectively. And his shortened career still led to almost 68 fWAR. I’d say he’s good enough to make it.

    Kevin Appier, Royals/Angels/Athletics/Mets, P, 110-One of my two additions to the list this year that isn’t actually on an official ballot. I’ve long felt that the Hall needs to do a better job of recognizing modern pitchers. The most recent debut of a Hall of Fame starter was 1970, that being Bert Blyleven’s. Now, this isn’t to say that Appier’s case is a strong as someone like Blyleven’s; just that the Hall probably needs to do a better job of evaluating modern pitchers.

    Appier would fall towards the lower end of the Hall, but that would still be enough, as seen in his 110 Hall Rating. In around 2600 innings, he had a 121 ERA+ (even though he had a 3.74 ERA) and 1994 strikeouts. He played for sixteen seasons, but only thirteen of them could be considered full seasons (the other three each saw him throw between 4 and 22 innings). In those thirteen seasons, he was worth 52 bWAR and 55 fWAR. His peak was impressive, with six of his seasons registering above 5 WAR (and a sixth that would have made it were it not for the 1994 strike)

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

    Knee-Jerk Reactions: Ohio Collectively Wins Trade with Arizona

    The Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks finally finished a three-team deal, but it wasn’t with the Rangers and didn’t involve Justin Upton or Asdrubal Cabrera.

    Instead, the two teamed up with the Cincinnati Reds in a deal centered around around Shin-Soo Choo.

    In all, there are nine players moving. Each team’s haul, with the sending team in parentheses:

    Reds: Shin-Soo Choo (Indians), Jason Donald (Indians)
    Indians: Trevor Bauer (Diamondbacks), Drew Stubbs (Reds), Bryan Shaw (Diamondbacks), Matt Albers (Diamondbacks)
    Diamondbacks: Didi Gregorius (Reds), Tony Sipp (Indians), Lars Anderson (Indians)

    Monday, December 10, 2012

    Knee-Jerk Reactions: The Rays Make the Royals Look Silly

    I really have no idea what exactly happened. The Royals have traded for Rays pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis, giving up prospects Wil Myers (OF), Jake Odorizzi (P), Mike Montgomery (P), and Patrick Leonard (3B).

    This is pretty clearly a bad trade for the Royals. I can't remember the last time I saw a trade that I felt was so lop-sided immediately on announcement-maybe Vernon Wells landing in Anaheim? Most commentators that I've seen seem to be echoing these ideas; this was pretty clearly Dayton Moore's wild stab at winning a contract extension, and I just can't say that I see it being enough.

    Sunday, December 9, 2012

    50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame 2012

    You might remember that last year, I participated in Baseball Past and Present’s 50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame. This year, Graham Womack is running the project again, and I once again decided to participate. The process was much easier this year, as I had last year’s list to work off of. However, this year’s influx of candidates did mean that I needed to do some difficult rearranging.

    And that seems like the best place to start. There were fourteen players on this year’s ballot that I count among the 50 best players not in Cooperstown, seven of them new, as well as two more that made the Veterans Committee ballot. And again, I would support the induction of all 50 players that I named.

    So, without further ado (Players are listed with their teams by games played, their position, and their Hall Rating* from the Hall of Stats, with the new players on the ballot italicized):

    *The Hall Rating uses Wins Above Replacement and Wins Above Average from Baseball-Reference to determine a player’s worthiness. The Hall Rating is a combination of the two, on a scale like OPS+. 100 is the Hall minimum, 110 represents 10% than the minimum, and so on. It’s more for the sake of quick comparison. All Hall Ratings have been updated to reflect the induction of Deacon White.

    Thursday, November 29, 2012

    Some Small Fixes to Help with Hall Voting

    Hall of Fame season is fast descending upon us; the ballot for the 2013 was announced Wednesday, and writers are already mobilizing to build support for voting movements and ideologies.

    I think most people can agree that the Hall of Fame is facing several issues, both in this election and the upcoming ones, and people are always determined to come up with solutions to the problems. Ideas like letting the players and managers vote, introducing a limit on ballots a player can appear on, and banning steroid users get thrown out with alarming frequency at this time of year.

    So many of these fixes aren’t worth the trouble, though. The players and managers have a horrible track record in recognizing greatness in fellow players, whether through the All-Star Game back-ups or Gold Glove awards. Limiting a player ignores the many deserving players who, for one reason or another, haven’t gone in on the first ballot. Banning steroids users ignores the long history of cheaters already enshrined.

    In truth, the real fixes Cooperstown needs are much simpler.

    Monday, November 26, 2012

    Rays Lock Up Evan Longoria Forever (Pretty Much)

    The Tampa Bay Rays have done something very un-Rays-like today, handing Evan Longoria a $100 million, six-year contract.

    Now, a $100 million deal in general would seem odd for the Rays, but what makes this one odd no matter who it’s from is the years. Specifically, the Rays already had Longoria signed through 2016. The six years in this deal run from 2017 to 2022 (with an option for 2023).

    On a side note, I would like to add that it blows my mind that we have contracts running into 2023. 2020 still seems far away, but into the mid-2020s? That just seems ridiculous.

    Anyway, Longoria just finished his age-26 season, meaning that this deal also covers him until he’s 37. Normally, that would be a bad thing, right? Locking up a player for a large sum of money until they’re in their late 30s? Aren't the Rays supposed to be smarter than your average front office?

    Actually, I would say this deal fits in with the Rays normal moves. Despite the general aversion to long-term, $100 million deals, this one looks like the Rays might come out on top.

    2013 Hall of Fame Poll Added: The Apocalypse Ballot Is Upon Us

    The Hall of Fame voting season is upon us; in anticipation of that, I added two polls on the right sidebar. One asks the standard "What would your ballot look like?", while the other asks "How many players on the ballot are deserving of induction?"

    This year should be interesting. I think there are very easy cases to make for fourteen different candidates. I've already started writing about some of them. Either way, it's a crowded ballot. I'm going to have to leave off some players I think are deserving. I honestly don't know who I'll leave off for my BBA ballot when the time comes, although I have ideas. Who knows what havoc this will wreak on the election process, though.

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    2012 Ryan Howard Awards

    In keeping with a tradition I started last year, I would like to award the 2012 Ryan Howard Award Winners. Basically, the award is for the player whose finish in MVP voting most overstated their season. The Award is named for Ryan Howard, perhaps the best example of this phenomena (did you remember that Howard finished tenth in MVP voting last year? Tenth!?!).

    This year, with Mr. Howard out of commission for most of the season, the BBWAA had to find a new target. They settled on two different targets in the National League. Adam Laroche finished tied for sixth with my midseason favorite, David Wright. Meanwhile, Jay Bruce finished tenth. LaRoche put up 3.8 fWAR and 4.0 bWAR, neither of which is bad, but both still stick out in the top seven. He did play first base (which did allow him to hit a solid, but not-spectacular-for-a-corner-position 128 OPS+) on a winning team, though, which helped him rack up 100 RBIs and woo voters.

    Bruce, on the other hand, finished tenth with only 2.4 fWAR and 1.4 bWAR. His 118 OPS+, coupled with his average defense in a spot generally for power hitters, hurt his overall value. He did rack up 99 RBI, though, which voters, again, love.

    In the AL, the choices were more solid. Derek Jeter probably takes the cake, with a 3.2 fWAR and a 2.1 bWAR. He wasn't awful, but his poor fielding as a shortstop gave back a lot of his value. Even with a 114 OPS+, it wasn't enough to totally cover up his deficiencies. Jeter had a great bounce-back year, but he was definitely not the seventh-best player in the AL.

    Awards Explanations, Part 2

    Again, these are a little late, but I’ve been busy these past few days. The original ballot can be found here, and Part 1 can be found here.

    In the AL, I went Trout first. I wrote about my take on the Cabrera-Trout issue just before the end of the season, and the final games did nothing to change my opinion. Trout actually overtook Cabrera in OPS+ (171 to 165) and tied him in weighted Runs Created (wRC+) at 166. In the meantime, he ran and fielded much better than Cabrera at an equally-difficult position. Really, the only way you can argue for Cabrera while remaining totally intellectually honest is to severely penalize Trout for playing in 22 fewer games, to the point where you actually believe that not playing for the Angels subtracted value rather than just providing a net-zero. For reference, Fangraphs had them at 10.0 (Trout) and 7.1 (Cabrera) WAR.

    I considered putting Cano second over Cabrera too, actually. Both versions of WAR had him above Cabrera, thanks to his 150 wRC+ and 149 OPS+ while playing stellar defense at an up-the-middle position. I decided that might be to controversial, though, and chickened out, in part because some of Cano’s value came from a random uptick in his fielding stats. Still, at 7.8 WAR, that’s a reasonable gap. I think you could definitely argue for Cano second.

    Last year’s AL Cy Young, Justin Verlander, posted similar numbers to his MVP campaign. However, he lacked the shiny wins total, probably costing him the repeat Cy Young award. The top 3 were pretty clearly Verlander, Felix Hernandez, and David Price, though.

    Verlander-238.1 IP, 9.03 K/9, 2.27 BB/9, .72 HR/9, 2.64 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 6.8 fWAR
    Hernandez- 232.0, 8.65 K/9, 2.17 BB/9, .54 HR/9, 3.06 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 6.1 fWAR
    Price- 211.0, 8.74 K/9, 2.52 BB/9, .68 HR/9, 2.56 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 5.1 fWAR

    In the NL Cy Young race, RA Dickey was just a hair behind Clayton Kershaw in most advanced metrics, but knuckleballers have a history of being underrated by those same stats. Most of these advanced numbers try to explain away variation in batted balls, but knucklers have in general defied those expectations. So, with two pretty similar pitchers, it seemed fair to give the tiebreaker to the historically-underrated one (although, to be fair, looking back, this could have very easily gone to Kershaw; this is the one award where I might have regrets about my voting).

    In the NL MVP race, I went with Buster Posey. My thinking generally held from my first look piece, And I decided the near-tie in value should probably go to the catcher, given the difficulty in filling the position.

    Relievers of the Year Fernando Rodney and Craig Kimbrel both had incredibly historic seasons. Jim Johnson and Aroldis Chapman were great, but neither could quite live up to either’s dominance in my mind. Each also led their leagues in WAR, although Chapman made it close with his innings lead over Kimbrel.

    Of the first four awards, it looks like I went 2-for-4

    Really Belated Random Thoughts on the Giants' World Series

    Congratulations to the 2012 San Francisco Giants and their World Series Title!

    I realize this is late, but I was very busy with classes the last few weeks, and this was the earliest that I could write. There are really two things I want to focus on from it, both more long term.

    The first: Are the Giants a dynasty now? With 2 titles in 3 years, it’s at least a fair question to ask. The first thing to ask would be what makes a dynasty? A dynasty should, in theory (at least, my theory), combine a strong regular season with some sort of post-season success.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    Awards Explanations, Part 1

    Well, I've predicted three of the awards unveiled so far correctly. So I might as well explain those ballots. Here's my original ballot. Now then, explanations:

    AL Rookie
    It had to be Mike Trout, right? Any other choice is just wrong. Yu Darvish was solid enough in his introduction to the pros. He had a high K rate, and did a good job at keeping the ball in the park (especially for the Ballpark in Arlington). Too many walks still, but he did manage a 3.29 FIP and 5.1 fWAR. I feel like he and Yoennis Cespedes are very standard 2-3 choices. Not a very difficult ballot, although there were a lot of other decent rookies.

    NL Rookie
    I already wrote about this, before Harper went off in September. He and Miley were both good-about equally good, in fact (4.9 fWAR to 4.8 fWAR). In short, Harper gets the extra edge for his age. Yasmani Grandal was a great hitter, especially for a catcher (144 weighted Runs Created, third among 200 plate appearance-catchers behind Buster Posey and Carlos Ruiz). He didn't get enough playing time for me to list him higher. Shame he got busted for testosterone.

    Managers of the Year.
    The AL was basically between Buck Showalter and Bob Melvin. I went with Showalter because I felt he deserved some credit for the O's record in one-run games. Melvin was still a good choice. Joe Maddon is always a good third choice; guiding the Rays to 90 wins without Evan Longoria for most of the season was huge.

    In the NL, Davey Johnson took the surprising Nationals to the best record in the League. After that, there were fewer huge surprises, so I went in record order more or less. I feel like that wasn't a bad call in this case.

    So there you have it. Not in-depth explanations, but none of these picks so far is too shocking.

    The Marlins Trade Away Everyone, Take Something or Other

    So, the Marlins have continued their perpetual fire sale from last summer, sending Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, and others to Toronto.

    This seems a little like the Red Sox-Dodgers deal, but a little more even. The Blue Jays gave up less than the Dodgers and got more reasonable contracts. None of them will be huge bargains, but they're all probably more or less at market value. Last year, Reyes was worth 4.5 WAR (by Fangraphs), Johnson was worth 3.8, and Buehrle was worth 2.1. With the current estimates of $5 million per WAR on the open market, that comes out to $52 million. The contracts will be back-loaded, but none of the deals looks awful yet, and probably none will become Vernon Wells-level awful.

    Really, the worst thing is the implications. Every major free agent the Marlins signed last year is gone, and it looks like the splurging was a shallow marketing lie to try and draw fans. They have shed close to $50 million in payroll in one offseason, and it really just doesn't look like they're serious about winning, only making a slightly larger profit. They also pissed off young face of the franchise Giancarlo Stanton, meaning his days are probably numbered (granted, he may have a few years with his lower at the moment salary). Jeffrey Loria shouldn't be an owner after his debacle in Montreal, and this only further solidifies my view on this.

    Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are solid. Reyes provides a big line-up boost. The rotation, which was held together with tape and bubble gum last year, gets not only Buehrle and Johnson, but also a returning-from-injury Brandon Morrow (and hopefully Ricky Romero gets over whatever happened last year that made him awful). That's a solid top of the rotation. They also still have the rest of the off-season to improve. They might well be a strong contender next year, although I'd like to see what their divisional rivals do first before calling them favorites or anything.

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    A Huge Recommendation: Hall of Stats

    Hopefully, I'll be able to write an actual article this week. But for now, this will have to suffice:

    Adam Darowski, Creator of the wonderful Hall of wWAR, among other things, had unveiled his newest project: the Hall of Stats. And it is a thing of beauty. I recommend exploring it for some time.

    The only qualm I have is basic stuff that comes up with all-stat based Halls, like missing players with artificially-shortened careers (Enos Slaughter and Phil Rizzuto come to mind). Otherwise, it should provide hours of amazement this coming Hall of Fame season.

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

    What Should the Orioles Do This Offseason?

    The free agent season is officially underway, and before everything starts to get insane with rumors and theories and mystery teams buying everybody up, I want to look at some of the interesting situations to look forward to.

    And few teams can promise a situation as interesting as the Baltimore Orioles. After years of dormancy, the O’s burst back on to the scene this year, winning 93 games and taking the Yankees to a decisive game 5 of the ALDS. A record like that is promising, but the Orioles would be ill-advised to rest on their laurels.

    In general, a lot of things have to go right in any winning season. Expecting all of them to go right two years in a row can be problematic. The Orioles, especially, would have issues-they scored only 9 more runs than they allowed. With a run differential like that, the Orioles would normally be expected to carry an 82-80 record. A lot of the difference had to do with their historic 29-9 record in one-run games.

    Maybe they can repeat some of that, but at the same time, a nine-game swing in expectations is a lot to make up. The Orioles will need to try to actively improve this offseason to stay somewhat competitive. But they also can’t set back rebuilding too much by trading away the farm, or splurge too much on budget.

    So instead, I have several different proposals for what the Orioles could do to stay in the race for the AL East, and maybe even improve.

    First Awards Season Update

    The Baseball Bloggers Alliance has now officially announced the winners of this year's awards. I'll be explaining my picks next week when the results of the Baseball Writers election are announced, so for now, I'll merely post the results and my picks.
    (My Picks/BBA Picks; matching picks will be listed only once)

    AL Reliever of the Year: Fernando Rodney, Rays
    NL Reliever of the Year:: Craig Kimbrel, Braves
    AL Manager of the Year: Buck Showalter, Orioles/Bob Melvin, A's
    NL Manager of the Year: Davey Johnson, Nationals
    AL Rookie of the Year: Mike Trout, Angels
    NL Rookie of the Year: Bryce Harper, Nationals
    AL Pitcher of the Year: Justin Verlander, Tigers
    NL Pitcher of the Year: R.A. Dickey, Mets
    AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels
    NL MVP: Buster Posey, Giants

    As you can see, nine of my ten picks ended up winning. I expect this to be pretty close to the opposite of what happens in the writers election next week.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2012

    The World Series, Melky Cabrera, and Other Thoughts

    I'm not sure how much I have to add to this discussion, but Dan Szymborski has an interesting article up over at ESPN (insider) today. He covers most of the arguments, but his basic point is that Melky Cabrera is again eligible to play baseball, and the Giants are still not using him in the World Series, despite keeping players like Aubrey Huff, Gregor Blanco, and Joaquin Arias on the roster.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2012

    Carlos Beltran and the Postseason

    Like I said last time, I'm not going to be drawing any major conclusions from the playoff games. I would assume MLB feels like they dodged a bullet with the Cardinals' loss tonight. Can you imagine the stares the World Series would have gotten if it had consisted of the second Wild Card and fifth-best team (record-wise) in the NL faced off with the seventh-best (yet still division-winning) team in the AL? Instead, we get at least one 90-win team. So I suppose they lucked out there.

    Monday, October 15, 2012

    Stray Thoughts and Random Renderings of the 2012 Postseason (So Far)

    Although the playoffs have been exciting so far, I’m going to refrain from commenting on the games. I get excited for the games, but they don’t usually leave me with a lot to say. I’m not the type of person who forms strong reactionary opinions after one game; weird things can just happen in baseball. Sometimes your 50-save closer blows a lead in the ninth. Sometimes your team comes back from six down. It happens.

    But I do have some various stray thoughts, and I feel like collecting them. So check back for shorter reflections.

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    2012 Baseball Bloggers Alliance Awards Ballot

    The Baseball Bloggers Alliance deadline for voting in the 2012 Awards is today. So, I'm going to post my ballot today to get the vote in, then explain my reasoning later in the season.

    I've been busy lately, so I would just like to take this time to say: Go Orioles and Cardinals!*

    Monday, October 8, 2012

    A First Look at the 2012 NL MVP Vote

    With the Baseball Bloggers Alliance award voting coming up, I’ve been trying to determine how I should vote. The NL Most Valuable Player looks like it’ll be a fun debate for this Awards season. I would even say the most fun; the AL MVP is hogging all the attention, with Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera. The AL race is just people shouting at each other, with neither side moving; what should count more, the Triple Crown, or pitching, defense, and accounting for home park? Each side has their opinions, and neither is really budging at this point.

    The NL race is an actual, honest-to-goodness debate. You know, with multiple sides and ambiguity and all that jazz. So, before I post my official ballot (by Friday), I figured I would look at who I consider the top six candidates.

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    Is Adam Wainwright the Cardinals' Ace Again?

    The Cardinals find themselves in need of an ace for a one-game playoff at week’s end for the most important game of the season (so far, of course; fingers crossed). This of course brings the question: who is the ace of the staff? Who can Mike Matheny turn to in a must-win scenario?

    Really, the Cardinals have a nice rotation in that every starter is at least above average. Most teams would be thrilled with a top four of Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse, Lance Lynn, and Jaime Garcia.* While that’s good for a full series, though, it’s less good for the coin-flip match that St. Louis will now have to go through.

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

    Jack Wilson Retires

    I’ve mentioned a few times that I used to live in Pittsburgh when I was younger and tried to be a Pirates fan for a bit. Brian Giles and Jason Kendall were undoubtably the two stars of that time, but after them was probably Jack Wilson, who announced the other day that he was retiring.

    Monday, September 24, 2012

    Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, the Triple Crown, and Other Early AL MVP Thoughts

    I wanted to write something about the AL MVP race. As you probably know, Miguel Cabrera hit his 42nd home run of the year yesterday, tying him with Josh Hamilton. With his .331 average (8 points above Mike Trout) and 133 RBI (10 ahead of Hamilton), he now stands with a very realistic shot at the Triple Crown with 10 games left.

    Because of that, some people have begun advocating for him to win the MVP Awards based on the Triple Crown instant-win clause which was apparently secretly added to the voting criterion after Ted Williams’ 1947 season (his second time losing the MVP in a Triple Crown season, actually).

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    Ben Zobrist: Underrated, Unique, and Other Thoughts (200th Post!)

    I have long been impressed with Ben Zobrist. Ever since his breakout 2009 season, he’s flown under the radar to an almost absurd extent. 2012 marked his third straight year as an All-Star snub.

    For all intents and purposes, his career began in that 2009 season. That was the first season with more than 62 games or 227 plate appearances. That year, he had a .297/.405/.543 batting line, good for a 149 OPS+ (meaning his OPS was 49% better than league average). He fell off to a 96 mark the following year (which still isn’t that bad), then rebounded to marks of 132 and 136 for the past two years.

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    The Problems of the Second Wild Card

    In case you don’t know, I have several problems with the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement. Most of the draft and international free agent changes and restrictions are bad enough, but the second wild card in each league was an unnecessary and ridiculous change to something that not only didn’t need fixing, but which actually affects the quality of the game at the Major League level.

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    More on Stephen Strasburg's Shutdown

    I didn’t really intend to write more about Stephen Strasburg. I already covered the issue once, and that was going to be it. But, even with the shutdown upon us, more information on the decision has come out.

    First is the interesting one: Dr. Lewis Yocum, the surgeon who repaired Strasburg’s ligament last year, originally claimed that he wasn’t consulted when determining the (approximately) 160-inning limit. Even though he later clarified that he agreed that Strasburg should be limited in some way, there isn’t any real indication that he provided them with an actual number.

    Yocum mentions that there’s been no study on the correct way to handle pitchers returning from Tommy John surgery which is technically true. But Rany Jazayerli, one of the foremost researches on the subject of young pitcher injuries, has a very interesting new piece up at Grantland. I would definitely recommend reading the whole thing.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

    Analyzing Buster Olney's "Hall of Famers Playing Today" Article

    Over the weekend*, ESPN’s Buster Olney decided to look at current players and their Hall of Fame cases. Since Hall of Fame debates are always interesting and I looked at the Hall recently, why not compare notes on Cooperstown?

    *For the record, I would have run this on Monday if not for Nick Markakis’ hand injury. That was just a little too time-sensitive to push back.

    The biggest problem I have is that I have no idea what criteria Olney was going by exactly. In the intro, for example, he mentions a bunch of players that I think he considers locks. I usually don’t have a problem with that, except for (in this case) his choice of players: Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Mariano Rivera, Jim Thome, Alex Rodriguez*, Omar Vizquel, and Andy Pettitte.

    Sunday, September 9, 2012

    Nick Markakis' Injury Is Kind of Bad, and Other Thoughts

    The Orioles lost Nick Markakis on Saturday for more or less the rest of the season following his broken thumb. There are several ways I want to look at this.

    First, there’s what it means from the standpoint of the Orioles’ playoff chances. It’s definitely not good; losing any of your starters is, in general, bad. Losing a starter in September, when there’s no way to replace them through trade or waiver move, is even worse. Even with expanded rosters, if the Orioles had someone immediately capable of stepping in and replacing Markakis’ production, he should, in theory, already be on the roster and playing.

    Friday, September 7, 2012

    Retired Numbers Series: San Diego Padres

    The San Diego Padres were one of the four teams that joined Major League Baseball in 1969, along with the Seattle Pilots (Milwaukee Brewers), Kansas City Royals, and Montreal Expos (Washington Nationals). Despite their relative youth, they’ve already retired five numbers, second-most among expansion teams. And so, they become the next team covered in the Retired Numbers Series; what does the future hold for the Padres and their honored players?

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

    Bryce Harper, Wade Miley, and the Meaning of the Rookie of the Year

    There are fewer than thirty games left in the season. I find that shocking, for some reason. There still seems so much left ahead of us, but no team has more than thirty games left. With the stretch run so close, now seems like as good a time as any to look at the NL Rookie of the Year race, like I’ve been meaning to.

    People say that the Most Valuable Player award is rather ambiguous in intent. Is it for the player that provided the most value to their team, regardless of how good their team did? Or should the team also be in playoff contention? I think the argument is pretty clearly on the side of the player that provided the most value period, regardless of their team’s standing.

    That ambiguity is nowhere close to that in the Rookie of the Year Award. Is it for the Best Season by a Rookie, or the Best Rookie? You may be asking, what difference does that make? Basically, the argument can be easily summarized this season.

    Monday, September 3, 2012

    Retired Numbers Series: New York Mets

    With over fifty seasons, four pennants, and two World Series wins, the New York Mets have one of the more storied histories among the expansion teams in Major League Baseball. With that kind of legacy, they looked to make an interesting next entry in the Retired Number Series. What numbers might the Mets retire over the next decade or so?

    Friday, August 31, 2012

    Retired Numbers Series: Minnesota Twins

    On September 8, the Minnesota Twins will retire the number 10 on behalf of former manager Tom Kelly. This seems like as good an excuse as any to add them to the Retired Number Series. With a history spanning 112 Major League seasons and two cities, what types of future honorees would the Twins turn up from their past and present?

    Wednesday, August 29, 2012

    Do Women Have a Place in Cooperstown?

    The other day, I reviewed Zev Chafets’ book Cooperstown Confidential. There were plenty of things that I wanted to write about from the book. For example, I agree that Marvin Miller is being snubbed from the Hall of Fame. Ditto on Buck O’Neil. Plenty of people write about them every year for election, and know much more about them and why they’re deserving. But there was one entire group of players that has been excluded from the Hall, and I’m not totally clear on why that should be the case.

    Why are there no women in Cooperstown?

    Sunday, August 26, 2012

    Book Recommendation: Cooperstown Confidential, Zev Chafets

    A few days ago, I finished the book Cooperstown Confidential by Zev Chafets. And I would highly recommend it. Chafets doesn’t normally write about baseball, but he is a fan, which is probably the best combination possible for a book on airing the Baseball Hall of Fame’s dirty laundry. He was able to form an opinion based more on his research than any veneration of the institution, and the result is a book that does a great job at examining Cooperstown from every angle imaginable.

    Thursday, August 23, 2012

    2012 Cape Cod League Standouts: Wareham Gatemen, 2012 Champions

    And, at long last, we have the 2012 Cape Cod League Champions, the Wareham Gatemen. After finishing second in the Western Division with a 21-23 record (tied with Falmouth, but with the advantage in the tiebreaker), they proceeded to sweep the Falmouth Commodores in the first round and the Bourne Braves in the second. The finals pitted them against the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. The Gatemen took games one and three, both comeback victories. The winning run in game one came in the top of the ninth, while game three saw Wareham score three runs in the top of the tenth. It marked Wareham’s first title since 2002.

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    2012 Cape Cod League Standouts: Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox

    And now, we are onto the final two. The Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox were arguably the best team during the regular season of the Cape Cod League. They finished second in the Eastern Division with a 25-19 record; only Harwich and Cotuit were better. On top of that, they scored the most runs out of any team, and had the second best team strikeout-to-walk ratio. Their playoff run consisted of sweeps of Chatham and Orleans, followed by a heartbreaking extra-inning loss to the Wareham Gateman in game three of the finals. While their season may not have ended the way they would have wanted, Y-D had a lot to be proud of this season.

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

    2012 Cape Cod League Standouts: Bourne Braves

    Just as the Orleans Firebirds were the number four seed in their division that upset the top seed in round one but lost in the semifinals, so too were the Bourne Braves. They finished in a tie with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks at 17-27 and won the tiebreaker by going 4-2 against them during the season. The Braves made the most of their opportunity in the postseason, taking the team with the best record in the entire CCBL, the Cotuit Kettleers. The eventual champion Wareham Gatemen ended their run the round after that, though, by sweeping them.

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Adam Dunn Also Hit Home Run #400; You Know the Drill

    Another player hit a milestone home run over the weekend. Adam Dunn became the third player this season to hit his 400th career home run on Saturday night. And, like I did with Paul Konerko and David Ortiz, this might be a good time to look at Adam Dunn’s Hall of Fame chances.

    Well, there’s obviously the home runs. At 400, he’s already 50th on the all-time list. The only player his age or younger with more is Albert Pujols. He could very obviously be in the top 30 all-time by the time his deal with the White Sox ends after 2015.

    Friday, August 17, 2012

    The Platoon Advantage Covers Brady Anderson

    Bill Parker over at The Platoon Advantage has a good piece on Brady Anderson today. I'm giving it special mention here because this is more or less something I've wanted to write for a long time. As an Orioles fan, I've wanted to write this in defense of Anderson numerous times, but it's very rarely relevant (no idea why, he's only been out of baseball for over a decade). But Bill hits all of the major issues.

    And really, this isn't just for Brady Anderson. This goes for anyone who randomly gets dragged into the steroid argument, especially players seen as one year wonders (Luis Gonzalez also comes to mind). Not only is the argument that steroids caused their good season questionable, but it ignores not just baseball history (which is littered with players with one good season), but also reality (in which there is nothing connecting these players to steroids any more than any number of other players), as well as logic (Why would players who supposedly benefitted so greatly from a season of steroids just stop if they were in fact the cause?)

    2012 Cape Cod League Standouts: Orleans Firebirds

    There was some interesting symmetry to the Cape League playoffs this season. The first round saw the end of the line for both divisions’ number one and number three seeds. In the Eastern Division, Orleans played the part of surprising fourth-seed upset, as they not only knocked off top team Harwich, but swept them in two games. In the regular season, Orleans jumped out to an early lead, but fell back in a tough division. They were one of four teams to finish at a .500 record or better in the East alone, going 22-22 (Chatham, who went 21-21-2, won the tie breaker by going 4-2 against Orleans during their regular season series, giving them third place). After sweeping Harwich, they were themselves swept by Yarmouth-Dennis in the second round.

    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    2012 Cape Cod League Standouts: Cotuit Kettleers

    The Cotuit Kettleers claimed the spot of best team in the Cape Cod League during the regular season, going 30-14 in an effort to win their second championship in the past two years. However, that wasn’t to be; the team lost to the Bourne Braves in a best of three season, making them the second top seed unseated and the fourth overall elimination from the playoffs. They were the only first-round exit that wasn’t swept out, too. Who were the stars on what was arguably the best team on the Cape this year?

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    Melky Cabrera Tests Positive for Testosterone: What Does This Mean, and What Can We Learn?

    Well, Melky Cabrera is suspended for 50 games following a positive test for testosterone. This news carries several different implications.

    First, there the immediate impact on the games. The Giants are currently in a tie for first in the NL West and half a game out of the Wild Card. Now, they’re without one of their top hitters for the rest of the season. That will obviously hurt for the stretch run. Meanwhile, the Dodgers, Cardinals, Pirates, Braves, Diamondbacks, and their fans probably celebrated a bit at news about a competitor getting weaker (but felt awful afterwards, if that makes it any better).

    2012 Cape Cod League Standouts: Harwich Mariners

    The Harwich Mariners were a strong first seed in the playoffs from the Eastern Division, and for good reason. They had great pitching. They had historic hitting on top of that-they hit 60 home runs, topping the all-time team record of 59 set by Yarmouth-Dennis way back in 1981 (back when they used aluminum bats). All of that led to a 27-16-1 record, second-best in the CCBL behind Cotuit. However, the team was still swept by the Orleans Firebirds in the first round of the playoffs (one of three sweeps in the first round, along with Falmouth and Chatham). Now, it’s time to look back at the star Mariners from this summer.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    2012 Cape Cod League Standouts: Chatham Anglers

    While the Falmouth Commodores were probably my home team this past season, the Chatham Anglers were a close second. Nine of the 27 games I attended were at Chatham's Veteran's Field, and the Anglers played in twelve of my total games. Like the Commodores, the Anglers were the third seed in their division; Chatham went 21-21-2, tying them with the Orleans Firebirds (Chatham won the season series between the two, 4 games to 2, giving them the edge in the tiebreaker). And, like the Commodores, despite being swept in the first round, plenty of players demonstrated their talent for the team this year.

    Monday, August 13, 2012

    2012 Cape Cod League Standouts: Falmouth Commodores

    The Falmouth Commodores were more or less my home team this year. I attended 26 games this season; twelve of them were Commodore home game. Fourteen had Falmouth as one of the two teams. Part of it was their position as underdogs; they haven’t won a Cape League title in 32 seasons now, eleven years longer than the next longest drought. The Commodores got off to a strong start, and it looked like this might be the year they finally changed that. Unfortunately, injuries hit them at the wrong time; they fell to third place in the Western Division on the final day of the season (finishing 21-23), and were swept by the Wareham Gatemen in the first round of the playoffs. They definitely had bright spots in 2012, though.

    Saturday, August 11, 2012

    Stephen Strasburg's Inning Limit and October

    I know the topic has been beaten to death. But I have some sort of interest in the Nationals (even if I don’t fully understand why), so I might as well weigh in on the Stephen Strasburg inning-limit story.

    I can understand the desire to keep Strasburg healthy. I trust the Nationals have looked into the topic. But I think there are plenty of problems with the “keep pitching him until he hits 180 innings, then shut him down for the year” plan.

    Cape Cod League Award News

    Hyannis Harbor Hawks lefty and Indiana State sophomore Sean Manaea has won both the league's Top Pitcher Award and the Outstanding Pro Prospect Award. Congratulations to him, and good luck over the next year!

    As a side note, Fangraphs has already looked and determined that Manaea's chances of making the Majors now sit at around 70%, even a year before the draft.

    Friday, August 10, 2012

    How Big Should the Hall of Fame Be, Part 2: What Would a More Appropriately-Sized Hall Look Like?

    I know I’ve done a lot of Hall of Fame stuff lately. This will be the last piece for now, at least in this vein. This is more or less the direct sequel to “How Big Should the Hall of Fame Be?”.

    As a quick recap, I looked at historical trends in the Hall of Fame voting and determined that voters just aren’t inducting players like they used to. At least, not at the same rate. I then decided to predict who would make the Hall of Fame among active players, applying the standards of past times. It was fun, and highly speculative, but it didn’t match up with the original premise.

    I wanted to say “What types of players would we be inducting if we applied past Hall standards?”. Speculation is fun, but I should have been doing something more analytic. If we just went by old standards and inducted the top 4%/5%/etc. of players in given years, who exactly would we be inducting? What would a Hall of Fame with those sets of players look like?

    In that sense, I should have been straying towards more established players. Modern players are always fun, but there’s too much prediction and projection involved. If I took a year and added the top 37/50/64/however-many players to Cooperstown, what would that get us, Hall-of-Fame-wise? In that sense, I’m going to try one more thing: what active players in 2000 would make the Hall, now that we have sizable careers to use for comparisons?

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    2012 Cape Cod League Standouts: Hyannis Harbor Hawks

    The Cape League Playoffs start this evening, so before I move on to that, let’s take another look at the other team that was eliminated.

    Yesterday, I covered the Brewster Whitecaps, who finished last in the Eastern Division. Their counterparts in the West were the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. At 17-27 (good for 34 points), the Harbor Hawks actually tied for last place in the division. However, the Bourne Braves had the advantage in the tiebreaker, and moved on to face the top-seeded Cotuit Kettleers.

    Kind of Interesting? Maybe?

    Well, this is new. The Pirates are letting fans pay to become part of a fan-run think-tank of sorts.

    Well, I'm not sure what to think of this. On one hand, it sounds kind of silly. Are they really outsourcing team decisions to fans? (And haven't we seen something like this before? Granted, it worked then; maybe the Pirates are on to something here.) What will that entail? Polls?

    "Who should the Pirates sign? Winner will be offered a competitive contract.
    _ Zack Greinke
    _ Kevin Youkilis
    _ Michel Bourn
    _ Other"

    2012 Cape Cod League Standouts: Brewster Whitecaps

    The Cape League Season is starting to wrap up; playoffs start on Thursday, with eight teams proceeding into a three best-of-three round tournament to determine the champion. To finish off the season, I thought it would be good to take a final look around the league and the stand-out players. I’ve been covering stars throughout the summer, but there’s only so much I can do looking at players one by one. So, I figured the best thing would be to go over each roster and the players on each team that made a name for themselves in 2012.

    I’m going to try and cover each team as they drop from contention. The end of the regular season spells the end of the line for two teams: the Brewster Whitecaps and the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. I’ll be starting with the Whitecaps, the first team that was eliminated.

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    Retired Number Series: Post-Script 2

    Who called it?

    This guy right here.

    Who Are the Hall of Famers Playing Today? 2012

    First, I looked at the Hall of Fame and determined that it may not be inducting enough players, compared to years past. Anywhere from 40 to even as high as 90 active players at any one time may be Hall of Fame-worthy, going by past standards. So, I looked at the active players in 2006 to come up with a list of (40 to) 80 players who fit the bill as most likely future Hall of Famers. As stated in the last article, starting with 2006 was three-fold; it let me examine the up-coming Hall ballots while lowering the amount of guesswork needed in projecting players, and it gave me a start on looking at this year’s players. If you have any questions on why I put a player somewhere and there’s nothing present here, go check to 2006 articles.

    Monday, August 6, 2012

    Cape Cod League Profile: Tyler Horan, OF/DH

    History was made Sunday night in the Cape Cod League. The Wareham Gatemen and Falmouth Commodores were engaged in a slugfest in Falmouth’s Guv Fuller Field. In all, the two teams combined for seven home runs, including a go-ahead one in the top of the ninth by reliever and eventual winning pitcher Daniel Palka.* However, that one may not have even been the biggest home run of the night. That honor belongs to Gateman and Virginia Tech outfielder/designated hitter Tyler Horan.

    Sunday, August 5, 2012

    Knee-Jerk Reaction to a Non-Deal: White Sox Might Not Keep Youkilis?

    Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is reporting that the White Sox probably won't be picking up Kevin Youkilis' 2013 option. That’s actually pretty strange, I think. Youkilis has a $13 million option for next season, so the issue might be tied to money. Still, I can’t figure out why keeping Youkilis wouldn’t be one of their priorities.

    Saturday, August 4, 2012

    Cape Cod League Profile: Sean Manaea, LHP

    The Hyannis Harbor Hawks stand a game and a half behind the Bourne Braves in the standings. Whichever one finishes on top continues on to the the playoffs. And there are only four (for Hyannis) or five (for Bourne) games left in the Cape Cod League season. Thankfully, the team had their ace on the mound for the second game of a double header on Friday.

    And not just any ace; Indiana State University left hander Sean Manaea. Manaea* has been making a bit of a buzz in the draft world recently. Baseball America just ranked him third in the 2013 draft class in their first rankings.** And for good reason; despite pitching in what’s been the best year for Cape League hitters anyone can remember, Manaea’s been absolutely dominant.

    Friday, August 3, 2012

    Matt Holliday: Under-Appreciated Superstar

    If someone came up to you in the streets and asked you "How good has Matt Holliday been this year?", what would your response be?

    I'm kind of hoping it would be some sort of confusion, at least. That would be the normal response, I would think. Maybe some sort of unwariness. Why are random people on the street asking you about Matt Holliday? But how about if I asked you that now, where it's not totally unexpected? I mean, he's good at least. He made the All-Star Game (although he was an injury replacement). I put him on the All-Star roster without using injury replacements, so that should move him up a few notches.

    Re-Run: Can NL MVP Ryan Zimmerman Get Some Attention?

    I'm already posting one article about an underrated player, why not post one of my older ones on the subject? It's a completely different player, but still, any excuse to talk about Ryan Zimmerman is good. You know what else is good? Ryan Zimmerman. I need to write more about him soon.

    Anyway, this piece was originally from the 2010 season.

    The race for Most Valuable Player in the AL looks to be dominated by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton. But what about in the NL?

    As you may or may not know (depending on whether you’ve read any of my articles), I’m pretty found of a stat called Wins Above Replacement, or WAR. WAR is is a stat that takes a players offensive and defensive numbers and determines how many wins a player has been solely responsible for over a replacement player. Conceivably, we can use this stat to get an idea of who should at least be in the running for NL MVP.

    Thursday, August 2, 2012

    Who are the Hall of Famers Playing Today? 2006, Part 3

    Finally, after a two day delay (who knew that so much news would happen on the trade deadline?), we return to the Future Hall of Fame topic.

    Okay, so a quick recap. First, I looked back and determined that the Hall of Fame had sort of stopped inducting players at a reasonable rate (at least, compared to what they had done historically). Then, I decided to look at some players who were active in 2006 to get an idea of candidates to make the Hall in the future, that way we might get an idea of what a slightly larger Hall might look like. However, my two-part retrospective didn’t really organize the players in any way, other than the order that they came to me.*

    *If you were able to pick up on an order, please let me know. I’ve been trying to figure it out for years now with minimal luck.
    However, that order may not be the order that they’re most likely to be inducted into the Hall. And so, I took that list and decided to organize it into something shorter and more coherent here. Also, in case you’re curious/don’t want to go find the numbers in the older pieces: 37 players is the traditional average and about 3% of the players at the moment; 43 and a half is 3.5%; 50 is 4%; 62 is 5%; 74 and a half is 6%; and 82 anda half is 6.643%, the average from 1901 to 1982.

    Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    Knee-Jerk Reactions to the 2012 Trade Deadline

    I wasn't sure what I would do for the trade deadline, but since there haven't been any major deals yet, there's no harm in looking at what has been done.

    Might as well start with the Cardinals: Edward Mujica for Zack Cox. They needed relief help (and not really anything else), so there's that. But really good relievers are generally overpriced, so I'm kind of glad they didn't jump into the deep end of the market. Mujica doesn't seem great, but he's still probably something of an improvement (there are some really weak spots in the Card's 'pen). I remember being high on Zack Cox in the past, but he's apparently fallen off in the past season. He's 23 and hitting .254/.294/.421 at AAA that's less than encouraging, especially since he may have to move off third base. With Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Matt Carpenter, David Freese, Allen Craig, and Matt Adams all blocking him at the corners, I'm even less concerned. Not bad, I suppose. Could be a worse move.

    Cape Cod League Profile: John Simms, RHP

    The Falmouth Commodores continued their four game win streak on Monday evening with a 6-1 win at home over the Harwich Mariners. Drew Dosch homered, singled, and drove in three. The bullpen pitched three 1-2-3 innings with three strikeouts. But, for the second night in a row, the starting pitcher was the star of the game.

    Monday, July 30, 2012

    Schedule Update

    I know that I said yesterday that I would have the ordered list of players for the present-day Hall of Famers on Tuesday. However, that won't be happening. Look for some other (more timely) stuff, though! Some of it may be relevant to the trade deadline (4 PM EST Tuesday). Especially if the rumored Joe Blanton-to-Baltimore deal goes through (expect something totally different depending on whether or not they deal Jonathan Schoop, as the Phillies are apparently requesting). There will also be a Cape League Interview to look forward to. So yeah; plenty of exciting things, and worth waiting an extra day for the Hall piece.

    Who Are the Hall of Famers Playing Today? 2006, Part 2

    So, a quick recap. First, I went through and determined that the Hall of Fame just was not electing players at the same rate that they used to. Then, I decided to take a recent year (2006, in this case, since it gives me a little time to assess the rookies and call-ups for that year) and determine who was playing that year that could possibly make the Hall of Fame.

    The first half of this list saw me list 35 players who had more or less established cases (although only one of them started after the year 2000). I’m going to continue using numbers in this part, but they’ll mean much less. This part of the list is much less a science and much more a “throw things at the wall and see what sticks” process. Similarly, the order means even less here. For a full review on the process, check out part 1. I'll be pointing out the cut-off marks for each percentage (for example, 50 players would represent 4% of the players in 2006).

    Are AL East Teams Being Cheated From the Playoffs?

    As it stands right now, the AL East, the so-called “best division in baseball”, would only get one playoff team. The Orioles and Rays are tied for fourth in the Wild Card right now. Take that, East Coast Bias, right?

    Except the AL East probably is the best division in baseball. The Yankees do have the best record in baseball. Against non-AL East teams, the AL East is 175-147, a .543 winning percentage. And that’s the division as a whole. They have a 122-110 record (.526 win percentage) against the other AL divisions. The AL Central is 55-72 (.433) against AL East teams. The AL West has a winning record against them at least 55-50 (.524). However, given all the bad luck Tampa Bay, Boston, and Toronto have had, I think it’s very possible that the AL East may have two or three of the five best teams in the AL. However, since they don’t get any easy in-division teams to beat up on in the unbalanced schedule, their records look a little worse. If so much is riding on the Wild Card spots (and especially since there are two of them), maybe MLB should consider more inter-divisional games.

    Saturday, July 28, 2012

    Why I Don't Get the Angels' Trade for Zack Greinke (UPDATED)

    I’m not sure I understand the Angel’s trade for Zack Greinke.

    I mean, at a certain level, it looks nice. The Angels have a solid top four of Greinke-Jered Weaver-C.J. Wilson-Dan Haren. That does look very nice. But the details of it don’t add up.

    Friday, July 27, 2012

    Cape Cod League Profile: Drew Dosch, 3B/DH

    The Falmouth Commodores currently sit in third place in the Cape Cod League’s Western Division, half a game behind the Wareham Gatemen. Jared King, one of the team’s best hitters for the first part of the season, returned home recently to rest an injured back. The team was in the midst of an eight game losing streak.

    Thankfully, that changed on Thursday, as the team cruised to an 8-2 victory over the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. Plenty of players contributed; Craig Schlitter turned in a strong start (7 innings, 6 strikeouts, 2 earned runs, 0 walks, 3 hits). Michael O’Neill added a big RBI double, and started off the scoring with an incredible string of plays in the second: a hit by pitch, a steal of second, an advance to third on the overthrow, and a run on a shallow sac fly to left field that involved him leaping past the catcher’s tag and diving back to the plate. However, the Commodores’ leading hitter Drew Dosch led the way, going 3 for 4 with a home run.

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    What Does the Marlins Fire Sale Mean?

    Some people seem to be very upset at the Marlins with their current fire sale, which has seen them ship off Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, and Hanley Ramirez. I can definitely see why-for a team that has a history of money-saving fire sales, this season looks like a return to form, especially after they spent all winter spending money to shed that image.

    The thing is: I think they might have the right idea this time. Well, almost. First off, I think the Marlins absolutely misread their position this winter when they went on a spending spree. As I pointed out before the season, the Marlins had to make up 17 games on second place in their division from 2011. For all their additions, it didn’t quite add up to a 17-game jump. If they really wanted to make up that gap and sustain their performance into the future, getting one or two solid long-term building blocks would have helped.

    Jason Kendall Retires

    Jason Kendall never got an MVP vote.

    Of course, you may be saying. Kendall was an awful hitter his past few seasons. He hasn’t even had an OPS+ over 100 since the Curse of the Bambino was still a thing. The Royals signed him-that alone is pretty damning. And plenty of players have never gotten an MVP vote. A vast majority of the people that play in the Major Leagues never get an MVP vote. Sure, sometimes the voters act silly and the next thing you know, Delmon Young finishes in the top 10. And sometimes, you see an oddball down-ballot choice. Remember Jeremy Affeldt's MVP campaign? Neither does Jeremy Affeldt, but it apparently happened back in 2009. But, overall, not receiving any MVP votes is not a huge deal. But Jason Kendall might be the best player to never get an MVP vote.

    Monday, July 23, 2012

    Who Are the Hall of Famers Playing Today? 2006, Part 1

    So, last time, we established that there are likely 37 future members of the Hall of Fame playing the game of baseball at any time. Not only that, though, but there might be even more than that who deserve to go in, possibly 45 total. Or 51. Or 64. We never really got a super obvious answer. So, what I decided is; what would 37 active players headed for the Hall of Fame look like? Or 45? And so on.

    I was going to cover 2012, but for various reasons, I decided it would be better to go back and look at a past season first. Why? Because that 37 can (and frequently does) include players who are just starting their careers. If we go back to, say, 2006, that gives us six years to at least take a stab at estimating who’s a Hall candidate while keeping a lot of current players. That way, when we move forward to 2012, we have a basis to build off. On top of that, it’ll give us a look at the next few Hall ballots; the 2012 ballot included players who last played in 2006.

    I really don’t have a super scientific method for this process, but that’s okay, because neither does the Hall’s voting body. So, I guess I’ll just start listing players, and stop to explain when it’s necessary. There isn’t really any order to this list, so forgive me if it jumps around at all.

    Friday, July 20, 2012

    How Big Should the Hall of Fame Be?

    It seems like an eternity ago that we had the 2012 Hall of Fame elections, but this weekend, Barry Larkin and Ron Santo will finally be inducted into the Cooperstown, both deservedly so. As a Big Hall person, I’ve long maintained that the Hall as it is is not inducting players fast enough, and both Larkin and Santo are evidence of that. The fact that it took Larkin three years to get inducted is bad; that it took Santo 32 years is indefensible.

    I’ve always wanted to take a deeper look into my reasoning, at least to better explain why I think people are not being inclusive enough in their Hall selections. There are plenty of ways to look at it, but there had to be some way to show that the selection process has, if anything, gotten pickier.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    Would the Cardinals Even Want Felix Hernandez? Part 2

    I feel like I need to expand on my thoughts on the prospective Felix Hernandez trade David Schoenfield proposed earlier for the Cardinals. I already have my doubts that the Mariners would shop Felix, let alone trade him right now, but let’s say they did. Would it be worth the Cardinals’ effort and prospects to go after him?

    As a review, Schoenfield was proposing that the Cardinals acquire Hernandez for a package of Matt Adams, Shelby Miller, Oscar Taveras, and possibly Tyrell Jenkins. As a summary of my views, this is WAY too much for the Cardinals to give up for Hernandez. King Felix is indeed a great pitcher, and he is under control through 2014. I can see something of an argument-at full health, a rotation of Adam Wainwright-Felix Hernandez-Jaime Garcia-Lance Lynn would rank among the top in the game, rivaling even Washington’s quartet.

    Why Would the Mariners Move Felix Hernandez? And Would the Cardinals Even Want Him?

    I swear I read baseball websites other than ESPN, but for some reason, I always seem more prone to respond to their articles with some sort of rebuttal. Today’s issue: Should the Mariners trade Felix Hernandez? David Schoenfield says yes. Why is that, David?

    “In a nutshell:
    1. The Mariners’ best chance of becoming relevant before Albert Pujols' contract expires lies in pitching prospects Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton.
    2. If you have three good starting pitchers, you can afford to trade Hernandez.
    3. Under contract through 2014, Hernandez’s trade value is as high as ever right now.
    4. The Mariners are not going to be competitive in the next two seasons.
    5. He has thrown a lot of innings at a young age. He's a pitcher. Pitchers get hurt.
    Look where the Mariners stand. They’re competing against the Rangers and Angels, two franchises deep in talent and financial resources. Trying to build an 85-win club and hope you catch a few breaks isn’t going to cut it. You have to aim bigger.”

    Environmental Pressures & Player Make-Ups: Stray Thoughts

    This is more just a stray thought than a full article. I was reading this piece over at Baseball Nation talking about Zack Greinke and how everyone assumes he wouldn’t be able to handle a big market, but we really have no idea. We really have no idea what causes players to suddenly be good or bad.

    For example, there’s a prevalent claim that certain players can’t handle playing in New York. They point to players like A.J. Burnett or Javier Vazquez who failed to live up to expectations when they got there, then turned it around when they left. It’s easy to say things like “They couldn’t handle the pressure”, but is that really the case? Both of them even had at least decent seasons in New York; maybe not their best, but maybe better than you would realize given the narrative. Was it the pressure? Or maybe something else, like a clash with the organization, or personal issues, or any number of things?

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    Retired Numbers Series: Los Angeles Angels

    The Angels, despite being an expansion team, have quite a bit of history to them. They were included in the first round of expansion back in 1961, and have the best winning percentage of any expansion team since then (at .499, they also place ahead of four original teams). It’s no surprise, then, that they have several compelling candidacies for retired numbers. And so, they become the next team to be covered in the Retired Numbers Series.

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Cape Cod League Profile: Chad Pinder, 3B

    On Saturday night, the Chatham Anglers continued their three-game winning streak* that started during this game as they handily defeated the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, 9-4. There were several strong performances, on both teams, including Chatham’s starter Thomas Lawrence (who only left after 6.2 innings because of a line drive off of his foot). However, the clear star of the game was third baseman Chad Pinder, who homered twice and drove in four.

    Friday, July 13, 2012

    Cape Cod League Profile: Andrew Knapp, C

    Thursday night at their home park, Veterans Field, the Chatham Anglers broke a three game losing streak by beating the Falmouth Commodores 5-0. The game, number 23 on the season, marked the start of the Cape Cod Baseball League second half. The win also moves the team into a tie for third place in the Eastern Division with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. The win was capped off with a two-run homer by catcher Andrew Knapp in the fifth inning, the latest in what is proving to be an impressive season.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    Should the Orioles Make a Trade?

    I wrote last month about how the upcoming trade deadline is going to be particularly difficult for several teams, and I had the Orioles specifically in mind when I said that. So, here we are, at the break, with the Orioles sitting at 45-40 and holding a half game lead on the Rays for the new second wild card spot. There are trade rumors starting to form, and the team has already made a small splash by acquiring Jim Thome. Can the O’s pull off a big trade? And, more importantly, should they?

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    Retired Numbers Series: Cincinnati Reds

    As we enter into July, the Hall of Fame induction ceremony is right around the corner. And Barry Larkin, a more-than-worthy player, will finally see his name added in Cooperstown. With the history and importance behind such an event, it seemed natural to focus on his team next in the Retired Numbers Series.

    The Reds are the oldest team I’ve covered yet (and the third oldest in MLB), meaning there’s a lot of history to cover. Let’s get to it.

    Monday, July 9, 2012

    2012 First Half Awards

    I know that the All-Star Break is slightly over half-way through the season, but everyone else calls it the first half when they’re referring to things, so I may as well, too (although it’s close enough that we’re splitting hairs). So, without further ado, my first half award winners.

    Saturday, July 7, 2012

    On Drafted Players, and the New Slotting System

    The Pirates are still negotiating a contract with this year’s no. 8 pick (and formerly presumed-no. 1) Mark Appel. The problem is that, under the new slotting system, Appel is only recommended to receive $2.9 million, and can only receive up to $3.8 million before incurring penalties, including loss of a top draft pick in 2013. The Nationals are apparently facing similar issues with no. 16 pick Lucas Giolito.*

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

    David Ortiz and the Hall of Fame

    I guess I’m just in a Hall of Fame mood the last few days. Or maybe there’s just been a relative abundance of milestones this year. Whatever the case, David Ortiz hit his 400th home run on Wednesday, and like with every milestone, it seems like a good chance to look at the player’s career and see where exactly they fit in in history.

    Carlos Beltran and the Hall of Fame

    ESPN ran an interesting piece on Carlos Beltran the other day, talking about the start of his career, his return to Kansas City for the All-Star Game this year, and his chances for the Hall of Fame. Maybe this shouldn’t surprise me at this point, but after reading the comments, there seemed to be a large gulf between what Hiram Martinez thought of Beltran’s Cooperstown odds and what the readers seemed to think.

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012

    Cape Cod League Profile: Craig Schlitter, RHP

    The Cape Cod Baseball League is now chugging right along. As it enters its second month, the Falmouth Commodores stand atop the Western Division with a 10-6 record, looking to repeat last year’s run to the championship game and end the longest title drought in the league. And while center fielder Jared King is leading the offense, right handed pitcher Craig Schlitter is unquestionably the team’s ace.

    Monday, July 2, 2012

    Did Tony La Russa Intentionally Snub Brandon Phillips and Johnny Cueto?

    Dusty Baker has decided he needs to offer his thoughts on the All-Star Rosters. And, in a total surprise, those thoughts may not be well thought out.

    Basically, Baker accuses Tony La Russa of holding grudges with the Reds (specifically, Johnny Cueto and Brandon Phillips) after they were involved in a fight with the Cardinals two years ago (a fight that included Cueto injuring Jason LaRue, which eventually caused his retirement, just as an aside). In the end, he decides that those grudges are the reason that Phillips and Cueto aren’t on the roster.

    Post-Script: 2012 All-Star Roster Corrections

    As an add-on to my edited All-Star rosters, after writing this, I decided to see which teams got the most snubs. My system was basically count the number of players each team had on the original rosters, and then on my fixed rosters. The change is listed after each team. “+0” means I changed the roster, but the net total was the same. “No change” means I used the exact same players the real rosters did. Since I already have the final spot accounted for an one injury replacement, my totals should be a little higher overall.

    Re-Run: The Start of the Colby Rasmus-Tony La Russa Rift

    I did say I wanted to eventually post all of my older articles here. I don't have any rush to do so at the moment, but this one will be relevant to another post later in the day. This one was originally posted in September of 2010. 

    I don’t usually write about teams that am a fan of-admittedly, that’s partly because my teams aren’t always doing something interesting, so it’s easier to write about the current events. But it does also help keep my writing mostly unbiased. However, with both and are reporting that Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus has had various issues as of late, ranging from unhappiness to an alleged rift with manager Tony La Russa, I feel that I need to weigh in. I don’t claim to know anything more than what is said in the articles on the two aforementioned websites. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t put my two cents in on the matter.

    Another Year, Another Set of All-Star Roster Corrections

    I would like to thank Major League Baseball for once again giving me the chance to look at and correct their rosters for this year’s All-Star Game in Kansas City.

    What? No, they aren’t actually using my advice or anything. Their rosters are just badly in need of fixing (yet again). I mean, there’s nothing Ryan-Howard-over-Joey-Votto level bad like there was two years ago. Granted, that’s an awful standard to use when complimenting someone: “Well, you didn’t screw up so badly it that made me injure myself while banging my head on a wall in disbelief.”

    What I’m saying is, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. And improve I shall.

    Friday, June 29, 2012

    Retired Numbers Series: Colorado Rockies

    Covering newer teams in the Retired Number Series is always interesting-it makes me feel like I’m living through history. Despite the Rockies’ newness, I have no recollection of MLB without them; seeing them retire their first number number feels like it should be something of a milestone, even as someone who is a fan of other teams. And, with several successful runs in their short history, they are not lacking in good candidates.

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

    CCBL Update: The Harwich Mariners' Murderers' Row (UPDATED)

    The reigning champion Harwich Mariners stand 1 game out of second after Wednesday night’s 4-3 win over the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. Overall, it gives them a 9-2 record. There’s no question that their pitching staff has been great; entering Wednesday, the staff has a combined 3.11 ERA, which ties them for third in the league behind the Orleans Firebirds (2.31) and the Red Sox (3.01). On top of that, they’re second in the league in home runs allowed (4 through ten games), second in strike outs (106, two behind Y-D), and first in Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP; 2.59). For as good as their pitching has been, their hitting has been even better.