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    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.