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The Baseball Roundup (5/22/15)

May 22, 2015

Tony: 

My boy, Max Scherzer, is starting against the Phillies tonight. I am excited to see the filthy stat line he winds up with. Phillies have the fewest home runs in the MLB right now. Chase Utley is a mess. Can you believe the Phillies are also starting two former Indian outfielders? Grady Sizemore is in Right and Ben Revere is in Center. Takes you back. Only bright sport for Philly, shockingly, is a minor resurgence from Ryan Howard.

Matthew Kory used a lot of words, and even some pictures, to tell us that the Harper v. Trout debate is back. Except, maybe not, this could just be a streak. But likely it is… Annoying.

Jeff Sullivan on Brandon Crawford, who we have been talking about.

Seattle lost to Baltimore yesterday. I’m watching this series because it’s the battle of my 3rd basemen in fantasy: Kyle Seager v. Jimmy Paredes. Seager had the better night last night, going 2/3.

There were 13 pitchers used in that game, which seems like a lot for a 5-4 final. Teams have only used 11+ pitchers in a game like 25 times since 1970. All the more impressive because it was a 9 inning game. I started looking for the most pitchers used in a game. The Mariners were involved in this monster:15 pitchers in 9 innings. The Orioles bumped this game total up, leading to 16 pitchers in one game. I think the most ever also involves the Orioles. A 21 inning marathon against the Devil Rays in 2013. The two teams used 21 pitchers.

Shockingly Nelson Cruz did NOT homer. He has 16 on the season and is batting .351. The guy smoked 40 home runs last year and Baltimore didn’t resign him.

Nelson Cruz is much older than you’d think, since we haven’t been talking about him very long. Turns out he got a really late start because he was a converted basketball stud. Check out this excellent Grantland article, Becoming the Boomstickon how patient teams had to be, how many missed opportunities teams had to snag him, and how he “beat the aging curve.’ Great title of that article, eh?

The Indians beat the White Sox 5-2. Swags, how does that taste? Offense was driven by Mike Aviles and Nick Swisher. Each had a home run. But the thing Tribe fans should be excited about is Danny Salazar blanking the Sox through 6 while striking out 8. There are some very good young pitchers in this rotation. Salazar had that scary spring training. But he seems to have figured it out. The Tribe is now only 1 win behind the White Sox (17 to 18).

The Bumgarners beat the Kershaws 4-0 yesterday. AND BUMMY TOOK KERSHAW DEEP!

That is the first time a pitcher has ever hit a home run off Kershaw. Apparently it was a fastball down the pipe. Kershaw said he should have respected him more. Correct. It’s also not a secret that Bummy likes to swing the bat: it was only like 2 or three weeks ago that he called out Scherzer about bringing the DH to the NL. Dude likes to swing the lumber.

Bumgarner hit 4 home runs last year. Two of them were GRAND SLAMS. wtf?

Remember how I told you this was the 4th time the two guys were pitching against each other? I didn’t realize that this was the third time this season that Bumgarner had started against Kershaw – the Giants have won all three. So this little rivalry is recently developing.

Anyway, pedestrian start from Kershaw. Nice start from Bummy. Buster Posey also took Kershaw deep.

Buster Poser have the best baseball name since Chipper Jones?

Kevin:

Always fascinating seeing former Cleveland players pop up hilariously elsewhere.  Who would’ve thought we would see these two former Cavs team up in the playoffs?

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Perhaps Brandon Crawford is for real??  This seems more and more plausible given the numbers cited in that article.  The small sample size revolution is fascinating for me. Mainly because, I think it leads to statistical misunderstandings.  For instance, with a BABIP number…If a guy is a career .300 BABIP hitter, and is hitting .450 the first half of the season, the regression people expect doesn’t happen the way we expect it.  We shouldn’t then expect him to hit .150 BABIP the second half of the season to ‘balance out.’ That’s not how independent, largely random statistics work.  We would expect he would hit right around .300 BABIP the rest of the season.  This means he’ll very likely still finish the season with numbers far above average.

This makes me wonder, is this perhaps a Vegas misunderstanding as well?  As the average baseball fan gets ‘regression to the mean’ hammered into their head, is this fallacy hammered in also?  I will do some research and get back to you later, though it’s an interesting topic for me.

Additionally, when it comes to small sample size, sometimes bat shit crazy stuff happens over the course of the whole season.  Frankly, one baseball season in and of itself is kind of a small sample size.

Barry Bonds had a smoke-show of an April 2001. Pundits laughed and said things like, he’s on pace for 82 HR.

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 11.17.55 PM

Of course, this was the year he smashed 73 home runs.  Again, sometimes the insanity continues; this possibility sure contributes to the fun of sports, even as we go deeper and deeper into analytics.

Gotta send you back to the drawing board on the pitcher stats.  The 11+ pitchers in a game is in reference to one team.  11 pitchers in a game combined, is nothing these days.  The number of pitchers used is on a decades long upswing.  This doesn’t help pace of play, though intrigues the hell out of me, wondering if an all relievers rotation will someday be used.

Bum going yard is great. Check out his hitting line from this year and last:

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Man would be on pace for 19 home runs!  Gotta hate being the guy to give up the big hit to a pitcher. Angel Pagan summed this up the best in his postgame interview.

Fun things to check into later: who are the worst pitchers at facing other pitchers?  Perhaps there’s someone that is just awful at this?

Not surprised that Bumgarner is 3-0 in those match-ups. What does the rest of Kershaw’s career end up looking like?  I’m certainly intrigued.

As for best baseball name, some great candidates exist here.  My favorite from this list was definitely Rock Shoulders.  As for best names sports names, Colt McCoy may be the most aptly named athlete ever.

Marlins drop another heartbreaker.  Dan Jennings now 0-4.  I think I would avoid the move to manager from team General manager if I ever could.  You are now the only head available to chop of when shit hits the fan. We gotta delve into Dee Gordon soon.  What is going on there?  Sustainability?  Things finally clicking for him?

More interesting to me was the Milwaukee Brewers  loss to the Atlanta Braves.  The unwritten rules of baseball continue to fascinate me.  Will Smith got ejected for a foreign substance on his arm.  It was a combination of sunscreen and rosin.  Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told on him to cause the ejection.  Will went crazy, staring down and swearing at Gonzalez.

Will Smith

After the game, Craig Counsel defended the practice.  Smith also said he uses it just in the bullpen, and just to grip the ball better.  No advantage gained.  Obviously there’s some advantage to be had, or no one would do it.  I don’t know how acceptable or unacceptable this is.  Z, you played more organized baseball, can you give me a better breakdown on where the foreign substances stand in the realm of unwritten rules.  Is the main rule just to not talk about it?

Jacob deGrom had another dominant performance last night.  This guy is scary good right?

ADDENDUM: When discussing former Cleveland players, the infamous oft discussed Roberto Hernandez is active and pitching for…THE ASTROS!! He moved down to Houston to live closer to me I assume.

What do you got?  Thoughts Swags?

Swaggy PHD:

Not to denigrate the Tribe’s pitching but I’d wait for a more profitable series sweep before drawing any conclusions. Also, lets just take a moment to appreciate Nick Swisher’s career. He was always one of my favorite players- before, during, and after his brief tenure with the White Sox. Glad he’s still making things happen.

Yesterday, Astros starter Scott Feldman got schelacked by the Tigers in the first half of the game, giving up 5 runs on 10 hits early on, putting the Astros in a 5-0 hole. It could have been even worse for the Astros if they did not turn some beautiful double plays.

But, Astros are a team primed for late inning heroics. Their performance in innings 6 through 9 matches, if not exceeds, their offensive production through the first five. And that is exactly what happened again. The Astros strung together 3 runs in the 7thand then added two more later – enough to tie the tigers at 5 a piece and force the game into extra innings. The Astros fell in the 11th to a James McCaan walk off, but the game was much closer than the first few innings might have suggested.

Tony:

Swags, screw Nick Swisher. He’s “likable.” He’s a “fan favorite.” He also can’t “stay healthy.” He can’t “produce.” And he makes a lot of “money.”

The Nick Swisher – Michael Bourne off-season is really tough to stomach, as a Tribe fan.

Kev, I’m familiar with regression to the mean, but I agree, I think a lot of people actually consider it “correction to the mean.” The only player that corrects to the mean, as far as I can tell, is Adam Jones… Hottest hitter in baseball the first couple of weeks, then… fantasy ball and chain.

OK, I’m exaggerating. He is hitting .265 over the last 2 weeks and .274 over the last 30 days. Only 1 home run though. Saddens me. Apparently I should stay positive? Fangraphs is telling me his contact rate is up and that everything else is consistent, which could mean “the next step.” I’ll believe it when I see it.

Bonds because… roids. But also because he would have been a hall of famer without them. Point taken though, people have big years. No doubt. Explains a lot of the bloated contracts floating around the league.

The Dan Jennings saga is amazing. I love Miami. Dan Jennings did what Pat Riley wouldn’t. He’s a man.

Don’t want to talk about Dee Gordon right now. I dismissed him several days ago due to BABIP and small sample size. Linked a fun Grantland article with it though. You wanna look further, go for it. But he’s just the ultimate version of Delino Deshields Jr. right now.

By the way, ever wonder what your face would look like if it got in the way of a 90 mph fastball? You can thank Delino Deshields Jr. during his stint in the Astros farm system for showing us:

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The foreign substance thing is not complicated. But it is…

First, it is a written rule: Rule 8.02 states that”the pitcher shall not – apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball”.  The rule also says that the punishment for breaking these rules could be an eight game suspension, and the umpire is the only one who can decide if a rule was broken.

Everyone does it, and everyone knows everyone does it. So this is what you’re talking about when you say “unwritten rule.” I guess the unwritten rule is, don’t get caught? I don’t even know. Really I thought the rule was, “don’t tell on the pitcher,” so Fredi would be in violation.

The typical “substance” is BullFrog brand spray on sunscreen that, when combined with the powdered resin in that big white bag behind the mound, becomes a nice sticky goop. Pine tar is the other go to goop.

In a previous roundup you mentioned Pineda‘s go with pine tar last year.

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Typically managers don’t tell because their guys are doing it too. In fact,that’s why the Red Sox didn’t ask for an investigation into Pineda, even though it was so obvious the broadcast team picked it up. The year before Clay Buchholz, a Red Sox pitcher, got called out by the Blue Jays

The other half of the doctoring the ball rule is: “The pitcher shall not – Bring his pitching hand in contact with his mouth or lips while in the 18 foot circle surrounding the pitching rubber. EXCEPTION: Provided it is agreed to by both managers, the umpire prior to the start of a game played in cold weather, may permit the pitcher to blow on his hand.” Also not really followed. Pitchers lick their fingers all the time for grip.

Typically you keep the goop on the underside of your hat brim, or have a patch of it on your glove. Ever notice how often the pitchers adjust that hat?

The umpires aren’t interested in checking hats and gloves and arms all day, so they don’t check unless they are asked to (ala a corked bat). No one asks cause everyone does it. After the Buchholz thing, two pitchers estimated that 90% of pitchers do it. Beyond that fact, grip is a good thing: 1) batters are more safe if the pitcher can grip the ball and isn’t wild (scroll up for evidence)(though, didn’t Smith plunk a guy the batter before Fredi told?), and 2) the game is better when people are performing at their best, so goop is fine. Let’s be real, this isn’t just baseball… Jerry Rice used stick-um!

deGrom is awesome:1 hit and 11 Ks in 8 innings? Against the cheat code Cardinals? Wow. Apparently he threw really hard, had good control, and his pitches have movement. Sometimes it seems like it’s really easy to be a sportswriter, eh?

The Harvey – deGrom combo is really scary. I also like Jon Neise, you know I love Colon, and Syndergaard might as big a stud as deGrom and Harvey. Look at the minor league numbers. Highly rated on the prospect lists too. NYM have a heck of a rotation going. Scary.

So some of my “number of pitchers” links were off. But does the record of 21 used in 2013 in that Tampa – Baltimore game still stand?

Kevin:

Your overall record of pitchers used in a game was spot on.

I think in regards to the pine tar issue, I don’t get why it isn’t fully legal.  I want to enjoy what I’m watching.  I want the best, roided players, pitchers throwing heat, football players smashing each other’s brains in.  In the end, it’s all about my entertainment.

I guess I just found the whole telling versus not telling thing kind of bizarre.  I want to hear what Bob Ryan as to say, as he may be my baseball traditions go to source.

Swags, lets get some stats or hyperlinkage on the Astros late inning heroics.  Also, what’s the sustainability on that?

Lastly, during my ten minutes of scouring the internet on the subject, not finding any pitching splits broken up by opposing position.  Clearly wouldn’t be a very important stat, but should be getting tracked for hilariousness and talkability during broadcasts.  For instance, “Clayton is having a great year this year, but opposing pitchers are really hitting him with the big bat.” Or, “Geez Mike, Bartolo Colon just cannot get out second basemen this year!”

Tony: 

Note, you are not being deprived of entertainment due to anti-goop rules. EVERYBODY does it.

Just leave it alone. It’s easier for baseball to just leave it in the books, just like all sorts of other dumb rules we forget about on a daily basis.

My guess would be that Fredi has it coming for telling, too. MLB takes care of its own problems. If not soon, Colonel Jessu… Er, Yordano Ventura will do something about it when the Braves play the Royals. Because, “Yordano, you ok with Fredi being a tattler?”

Will Smith

The Baseball Roundup (5/21/15)

May 21, 2015

Kevin: 

A couple thoughts on Fausto Carmona…
1. Fausto is an incredible name, it sucks that he changed it (or lied about it to begin with)
2.  When we talk about good 2007…that totally undersells it.-4th in Cy Young Voting (CC Won)..Seems like Faust made a deal with the devil in July, and from then on the Tribe went 13-4 with him on the mound, 2.3 ERA.  Just a great finish to the season, and a great year for the Indians
3. He basically never approached that level again, but got an All Star nod in 2010

Last note of the day: Cliff Lee counts like gangbusters for my ‘out of nowhere’ candidate. Worth a read for the walk down memory lane. Also look carefully at who’s not identified, and how each player was identified.

DEUCES!

Tony:

Did you link that article because Cliff Lee is listed as an infielder? I don’t give credence to typos. Dude never had an AB as an infielder… Was also the #30 prospect on Keith Law’s Top 100 list.

That right there should do it, no?

If not, I still don’t get it – his major league story is not odd…

He was traded for in 2002. Tribe got him to the bigs THAT YEAR. Had a good year in 2003 in the minor work they gave him, after being the #30 prospect in the game. In his first real year in the bigs, 2004, it was rough. That happens to rookies. He still won 14 games. In his second year, he won 18 and had a good year. That’s exceptional for a young pitcher. His third year, he split the different. This all seems pretty normal for a good pitcher in his first years in the bigs. See: Shelby Miller? 2008 he got hurt. Once he returned he was Cliff Lee god of fire and ice.

It’s not like he was written off as mediocre. He was a) part of a king’s ransom the tribe got for Colon, b) rushed to the bigs, c) 4th in Cy Young voting in his second real year in the bigs, and d) after he got his head together (watch Bull Durham to understand), was lights out.

For points 2 and 3 for Fausto, see: that happens with old as Cuban pitchers; or, the Dontrelle Willis story; or, call me Livan Hernandez…

*mic drop*

Good day yesterday for teams I’m sympathetic to…

Cardinals rocked the Mets behind the offense of Kolton Wong, Jason Heyward, Matt Holliday, and Matt Adams. I’m starting with this game because they beat your boy Bartolo Colon: 11 hits and 8 earned runs in 4.1 innings. Ouch.

Prior to the game I was going to ask you who would win in a wrestling match, Bartolo Colon or Bill Goldberg. Doesn’t seem right now…

This is surely a bigger blow to our egos than Bartolo’s. We used to say “Manny be Manny,” we should probably adopt “Tolo YOLO:”

Kolton Wong has been darn good this season. Last year was a strong year for him with double digit HRs and over 20 SBs. His struggle was the low batting average, but that has been rectified. He’s hitting over .300. Is Kolton the new Flying Hawaiian since Shane Victorino has been grounded?

At 5-9, 185 Kolton 3 inches and 15 pounds heavier than the original Altuve, David Eckstein.

The last point of interest in the game was Carlos Martinez. The young pitcher has been transition from his spot in the bullpen. He had a clean night (no ERs) and has pitched like this in earlier starts this season. He has also surrendered more than 7 runs on 2 occasions. The switch is… a work in progress.

The Astros beat the A’s 6-1. Dallas Keuchel is a stud. He gave up no earned runs over 7 to take him to 6-0. In 65 innings the guy now sports a 1.67 ERA, .97 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9. His 2014-15 emergence reminds me a lot of 2013-2014 Kluber.

Also GGGGAAAAATTTTTTIIIIIIISSSSS! Another home run. His 8th. Slow starter and future stud George Spring was 2-4, and Jake Marisnik also went 2-4 batting in the 9 hole. Preston Tucker must have needed a day off…

The Tribe beat the White Sox 4-3. Michael Brantley is good. “Dr. Smooth” had his breakout season last year and started this year with some health issues. He only has 4 home runs and 6 stolen bases. Both Steamer and ZiPS predict he will finish with under 20 HRs and at 20 SBs. That’s a drop from last year. BUT, I’m not down on him.

Guy has improved his batting average 4 points, his on base percentage is over .400 for the first time, and his ISO power has actually increased from .178 to .205 while his BABIP has fallen closer to baseline .300. I blame the early low SBs and HRs on his back, am excited about his growth at the plate otherwise, and want to see what he can do as the back improves.

Shaun Marcum got the win for the Tribe. He is another great example of what I would call a well-known-reclamation-project and what you would call some-guy-coming-out-of-nowhere. And Zach McAllister, who we talked about yesterday did good work out of the bullpen.

In writing about drafting pitchers in the first round, Kiley McDaniel won me over for a second by referencing Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan. She wen’t on to reference Gladwell’s Blink. Ugh.

One of the guys she looks at in the article us Tim Lincecum. “The Freak” has had a fascinating career: big highs and low lows.

Lincecum helped the Giants top the Dodgers yesterday. My once and future golden Cuban Alex Guerrero did nothing (0/4). I guess all that Mattinglyscorn about not getting him PT on a daily basis may have been a little hasty. I call it the Puig-effect. Buster Posey went 3/4 ’cause that’s what he does.Brandon Crawford also went 3/4 because… hot streak? This is now what he does? What do you think?

Crawford and Zack Cozart are having remarkably similar seasons. Who do you think ends up higher on the Yahoo! Sports player rater? I’ll take Crawford.

Anyway, Lincecum was great: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 4Ks. In 47.2 IP this season he now has a 2.08 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. He isn’t “the Freak” anymore. Now he’s… I don’t know? He doesn’t have the speed or the Ks, but he has reinvented himself to become a good starting pitcher in the MLB again. Who would have thunk it.

The Nationals beat the Yankees 3-2. Not much of note: Bryce Harper was ejected. Jordan Zimmerman was “solid.”

Remember the disaster that was the Nationals in 2015? 7-13 record in the first 20 games, a casualty rate that matched D-Day, Ian Desmond‘s 8 errors in 12 games, etc. Well, they are now in first place. They went 18-4 in the last 22 games, and have included some dramatic wins (see: the Zimmerman HR we talked about previously).

The Nationals were an overwhelming favorite to head to the World Series. With Bryce Harper raking, it’s crazy that this season hasn’t been a huge success. I blame it on MY BOY, Anthony Rendon being injured. Update: He took BP yesterday! He still hasn’t started a rehab assignment, so… maybe June?

Actually, it’s the pitching. Stephen Strasburg, YOUR BOY, only has 1 quality start this year. ONE! And Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez have also struggled.

The one bright side of the pitching staff? Resident on my fantasy squadron Max Scherzer. I believe he actually has grandchildren and sits on a council of elders at this point. Anyway, 57 IP, 1.75 ERA, .91 WHIP, 10.5 K/9, 8.25 K/BB. He is striking out 30% of the guys he faces…

The Royals beat the Reds 7-1. Everything is clicking for the Royals. Mike Moustakas is hitting .342, Lorenzo Cain is over .300 and stole another base,Eric Hosmer is raking (.324) and had his 30th RBI, and Kendrys Moralez and Alex Gorden both had 2 RBIs. Jeremy Guthrie didn’t give up a run and that bullpen did what it always does.

It turns out that the Royals also won the offseason. Beyond somehow improving the best bullpen in the bigs, they added Edinson Volquez and Kendrys Moralez. This team is good, man. It’s going to be good for a while. I like what’s happening in baseball…

Remember when Kendrys Morales hit over .300 and launched more than 30 HRs? Broken leg really derailed his career. But he’s hitting again. Not quite at that clip, but he does lead the bigs in doubles, with 15.

Royals are in 1st place in the AL Central with 26 wins, behind only St. Louis and Houston. Maybe I should have taken your Houston – Cleveland record bet? I just think there will be some serious regression toward the mean on both sides of that. But, are the Royals the favorite to make it out of the AL this year?

Detroit won 5-2 yesterday over the Brewers, but also placed V-Mart on the DL. Knee inflamation; go figure. Ryan Braun hit his 10th homer. He still is only batting .260 because, roids. Yoenis Cespedes went 3/3 for Detroit because… Cubans. Nick Castellanos drove in all of Detroits runs, Shane Green had a solid outing and fans got to experience Joba the Hut for 2/3rds of an inning. Joakim Soria, previously electric in the KC bullpen, earned is 13th save. Imagine KC with Soria! Insanity. That franchise just stockpiled talent in the farm system for so many years. Finally paid off – very TB Rays style.

I didn’t hit every game. Whaddaya got?

Kevin: 

You touched on two of my biggest points for today: Bartolo and ‘The Freak.

First, Bartolo – thoughts on his likeness below?

He got beat up yesterday, and I would’ve been sad, except the game gave us a Bartolo ‘hustle play.’

Remember the Calvin Johnson Car commercials?  Where he basically modeled the ideal physique?  Given the recent ‘dad bod craze’ I’m waiting for the next supermodel commercial with our Bad Bart stripping down to his skivvies.  He’s 42, severely overweight, and inspiring me on a daily basis.  Hopefully video surfaces soon of 2 batters later, when he gets stranded at third on a deep sacrifice fly; he even knows his own limitations.

Colon actually parlays well into the Freak.  Lincecum is the prime example of a baseball phenomenon: the fascinating, implausible, too crazy for a sports movie story.

Candidates for my top 5 right now: Lincecum, Brad Lidge, Bartolo, Dontrelle Willis (the real life Kenny Powers), and perhaps a Justin Morneau?

Quick hitters on each:
Lincecum, ace, goat, stud in the bullpen, injury derailed, barely pitched in 2014 postseason, back to serviceable pitcher
Lidge-Seemed good as young guy, got demoralized in the 2006 playoffs with the Astros, seemed broken, awful the next year, gets signed by Phillies, rejuvenates weirdly, becomes clutch, helps them win the world series (clearly the best candidate)

Fat Bart-opening day starter with 3 different teams Indians 2000-2002,Angels 2004-2006, 2015 Mets, at 42 years old.  Multiple rise from the dead seasons, and not much steroid chatter these days, despite him being 40 an old man turning things around and has been caught before.
Morneau– concussion seemingly ruined him, now kind of having a renaissance

Additions? Changes? Guys that don’t deserve to be on this list?

I’ll take Cozart.  I’m not buying into Brandon Crawford.  BABIP seems real high, and just seems anomalous across the board.  HR/FB rate also crazy increase.

Harper getting ejected was BS.  Funny hearing announcers say, “they didn’t pay to see the ump…”  This is like the Joey Crawford rule of calling games.  Remember when Joey went Arya Stark with his Spurs revenge list? Intense.  Forget the ‘fans don’t want to see so and so out of the game,”  Fans don’t want umpires and referees to be complete dickheads.  When they act as such, we get pissed.  I hate that I know Joey Crawford’s name and now, Marvin Hudson’s as well.

Your Black Swan piece was interesting.  I was ready to eviscerate it, and then I read to the end. The author admitted their flawed comparison.  Sadly, not surprised that a Blink stalwart would likewise misunderstand the main concept of the Black Swan.

Couple games you didn’t touch on…Angels pull of the win against the Blue Jays.  Pujols, gets hurt.  What’s going on with Pujols?  The guy went from on pace to shatter every record imaginable, to just bad.  Right after signing that albatross contract.  What is he actually worth right now?  Am I crazy for putting him in the Shaun Alexander category?  MVP to unplayable within 12 months?  (I know I’m exaggerating, but prime Albert was at such highs)

Kris Bryant had another RBI.  Question, who you like, Bryant, or Valbuenas,  for total HR?  Bryan has 4 so far, Valbuena has 10.  I’ll take Bryan (though I’m really staking you a big lead).

Tony:

Justin Morneau has no business on that list. People get hit in the face then suck, see: Travis Hafner.

I think Brad Lidge is up there. That was a roller coaster of a couple years. But I wan’t to make it clear, you’re really just naming 30 for 30s, right? I think you are missing some really good ones:
1. Jim Abbott – Born without a right hand, pitched in the bigs for 10 years. wtf?
2. Livan Hernandez – The original Cuban defector, won a world series a year after defecting, then dwindled into the leagues most hittable pitcher.
3. Josh Hamilton – Drugs, killed a man with a foul ball, really good, etc.
4. Bobby Bonilla – “The Contract.
5. Rick Ankiel – Stud pitcher in his 2nd year in the bigs, gets smoked in 6 games in his 3rd year, comes back as a center fielder who hit 25 home runs! Then became not very good. wtf?
6. Jeter – BECAUSE HE IS THE CAPTAIN.
7. Curtis Granderson – he had 23 triples in 2007. wtf?
8. Doc Ellis – June 12, 1970, “The LSD No-No.”
9. Dwight Gooden – 1984-6: the rookie phenom, one of the best pitching seasons ever, missing the World Series parade for blow.
10. The 1995 Indians. Duh.
Easy on the Pujols – Shaun Alexander thing. Guy had 28 homers, 105 RBI, and hit .272 last year. Not a great start to the year, but… small sample size. I’m not ready to believe the Machine is done. He is 35, so he will never be Pujols again though. That’s what happens after 14 years of baseball…
The Pujols things is why longevity in baseball is so incredible: Aaron’s 755 home runs, Ripken’s streak, the fact that Niekro had more K’s than Gibson, all about getting out there every day.

Three surprising baseball facts for you:
1. Johnny Damon has more hits than Ted Williams. Because… war. Still, ties into the longevity thing. JD had 2769 hits!
2. Micky Mantle only had 343 doubles. Of the 76 players in baseball history who had at least as many plate appearances as Mantle, only two — Graig Nettles and Darrell Evans — had fewer doubles.
3. Harold Baines had more RBIs than DiMaggio (1628-1537).

Valbuena v. Bryant is a good board bet. I can see both ending with 20-25 HRs. Valbuena had 16 last year and has increased power every year of his career. For the record, I would prefer Bryant, but put this on the board so we have more action. This is our second successful bet?

Kevin:

Good call out.  Though I think a specific entity of 30 for 30 is what I’m talking about.  The Lidge type redemption story seems to be non existent in a lot of other sports (though maybe Kurt Warner)?  Multiple highs and lows is fascinating and seems particular to baseball.

The three surprising facts make me want to delve into something else as the week progresses…Statistical Achilles heels.  Whether it be Mantle’s lack of doubles, or Manny’s lack of walk-offs, it’s an interesting concept worth exploring.

The Baseball Roundup (5/20/15)

May 20, 2015

Kevin:

Orioles route the Mariners thanks to our man, Jimmy Paredes.  How crazy has the Paredes story been?  In his extensive minor league career (8 years), Paredes hit roughly 1 HR every 54 AB’s.  This year, he has 6 dingers in only 104 AB’s.  He’s hitting one every 17 at bats.  He’s more than tripling his home run rate.  It certainly begs the question, “Is this for real??”  Some arguments against:
1. Crazy increase in numbers
2. BABIP 50 points above his career average
3.Right now, Paredes is seeing all great pitches , and the areas he’s crushing the ball are these pitches down the middle

Arguments for Jimmy Hits:
1. Luis Gonzales…a guy who never hit more than 31 HR in a season, until he hit 57, more than doubling his average home run rate for his career  (and he did it at 33!)
2. Samuel Sosa– a guy who never hit more than 40 in a season, and then hit 179 over 3 years.  Sammy did incredible late in life feats: put on huge muscle mass at midlife, became an all time great home run hitter, and forgot his native language
3. While small sample size does mean we shouldn’t expect greatness, sometimes strange things happen.  And perhaps Orioles fans are just hoping that for Jimmy, this season is his ‘one time.’

Tony: 

Kevin, I’m glad you started with Paredes, since I asked about him yesterday. He’s on my fantasy team, so I’m loving this, but I think its pretty clear which side of the coin the numbers favor: fluke. Beyond the sudden increase in power and the troublingly long career in the minor leagues, 5 of your comments point toward “no.”
1. Crazy increase in numbers is always suspect.
2. The BABIP is not only 50 pts over his career average, but at .395, 95 pts over the expected, “normal” BABIP (.300).
3. Paredes is new, pitchers are going to adjust.
4. Luis Gonzalez because… roids.
5. Sammy Sosa because… roids.
6. Nice.

Couple other things to chew on: he is 26, so he’s entering the “peak age” for power (though, peak age is contested. This article is a quick intro and references Brook Jacoby, so… win); but his walk rate is only 3.8% which is bad and also in line with his career levels; worse, his O-Swing rate is 47% above major-league average while his O-Contact rate is 16% below average. I’m not buying a guy long term who both chases pitches and doesn’t have a particular knack for contact…

One more on Jimmy, another grid. Check out his ISO power:
Inline image 1

You alluded to it: he’s hitting pitches right down the pipe. Players pitchers respect don’t get those, and if he keeps hitting them, soon he won’t either (especially since he won’t take a damn walk). See, pitch location can help predict batter breakouts.

Miguel Cabrera recently hit home run #400 and Cliff Corcoran at SI.com wrote about how big a deal that is. Highlight:

Cabrera is not only a lock for 500 home runs, but has a 71% chance of reaching 3,000 hits in his career. That’s a better chance than Pujols, who has a 318-hit lead on him. The list of hitters with 500 home runs and 3,000 hits in their career is currently just four names long: Aaron, Mays, Eddie Murrayand Rafael Palmeiro. Rodriguez should join that group later this year (he needs just 31 more hits).

Miggy has gotten overshadowed some by Pujols throughout his career (note: I’d bet “the Machine”  reaches 600 HR and 3000 hits. He’s really good. Put it on the board?). Even more overshadowed? Adrian Beltre. At 36 he has 2,641 career hits and hit his 400th home run on Thursday.

Speaking of Miggy, fangraphs did a little comparison between his numbers through age 22 and Bryce Harper‘s. Needless to say, they are very, very similar. Based on the rest-of-season forecast for harper, he should finish with a 136 wRC+ for his career through age 22.

The full list of hitters in baseball history that stepped to the plate 2,000 times by the end of their age-22 season and put up a 136 wRC+ or better? Mike Trout (165), Ty Cobb (159), Mickey Mantle (149), and Mel Ott (147).

So, reminder that Mike Trout serves his jury duty and Bryce Harper is about to open a retirement plan himself: adults.

I brought up Shelby Miller yesterday. Looks like he is really leaning on the cutter and sinker in favor of the 4 seamer and curve. Very good when you have the ATL infield (particularly Andrelton Simmons, the King of GIDPs, at SS). Fangraphs notes that he hasn’t faced much offense yet, but they seem to agree that, though unsustainable, this isn’t just a fluke.

I’ll end with a little Astros chatter. I don’t think they liked all our skepticism, so they won last night against the A’s. Member of my fantasy team Luke Donaldson had an ugly 9th, giving up 2 runs, 2 hits, and 2 BBs before getting yanked. Second ugly finish in his last three appearances. Don’t like that.

Meanwhile, Jake Marisnik didn’t get the starts… again. Houston is committed to the youngsters and Preston Tucker is in that plan. Marisnik will not be on my team next week.

Speaking of young Astros, Lance McCullers got the call up this week. He got beat up in A ball last year (5.47 ERA and equally high FIP) but has been smoke so far this year. In AA he had a .62 ERA and struck out 37% of the batters he faced in 29 innings. He is throwing more fastballs and has an improved change-up, but mostly:

Springer, Gattis, and Carter combined for 0 strikeouts in 12 plate appearances. Has that ever happened?

What’s the start say about your hot-start Sonny Grey? He had a 2.00 WHIP last night in 5 innings and could only K 4 Astros…

What else ya got?

Kevin:

Nationals pull off a comeback victory with a walk off Zimmerman homer. Zimmerman now has 10 such bombs.  The career leader is everyone’s favorite…JIM THOME!!!

Bryce Harper also hit his 15th home run of the season, perhaps reinvigorating the once and future baseball debate: Harper orMike Trout? Frequently these debates seem down right dumb years later.  Remember Nomar vs. Jeter (the Captain!?)?  Lebron vs. Carmello? Anthony Bennett vs. Victor Oladipo? (just kidding, no one actually cares about the top of that draft)

Tony: 

God I love Thome! Thank you Swaggy P for the props on the Thome article. I think I have written more than one… I’m sure his return to Cleveland got one.

The Harper v. Trout debate seems like it might not be a dumb one… it also seems impossible to choose. I’ll take Bryce Harper because Mike Trout‘s speed will wear down, or his recklessness will get him hurt (ala Griffey Jr. and “the wall”), and also because BOMBS. That 509 footer in the college power showcase 2009 was just stupid. Full Gump.

Do you realize Manny Ramirez only had 3 walk off home runs in his whole career? Seemed like so many more. Maybe that’s because he was always hitting grand slams. He has 21 career grand slams, behind only AROD and Gehrig.

Sticking with the Indians and Yankees: Only Travis Hafner (2006) with the Indians and the Yankees’ Don Mattingly (1987) have hit six grand slams in a single season.

The most grand slams by a team in a single season is 14. The Indians in 2006 (thanks to Hafner) and the A’s in 2000.

Final note: Fernando Tatis is the only player to ever hit 2 grand slams in 1 inning. Of course he was with the cheat-code-Cardinals at the time. Both were off Chan Ho Park in the third inning. How was Chan Ho left in the game in order to do that!?

Fernando Tatis is also an excellent twitter follow:
Inline image 1
His handle is @Ftatis23. Also, I think it has been confirmed it is not him. Who cares?

Kevin: 

Love seeing the Tribe get a victory.  Trevor Bauer had another solid outing.

Tribe question: Are the Indians the best team in the league at getting weird great seasons out of pitchers?  We seem to consistently have guys who you look halfway through the season and are scratching your head saying, shit, who is that guy again, and how are his numbers so great? Many of these pitchers just fade into obscurity later. I could be just imagining this. Thoughts?

Also, to continue with the Astros, they are on pace for almost 250 HR’s.  Being top 5 in the league in home runs typically bodes well for  a team. Also puts them in shouting distance of the record, which is 264 by the1997 Seattle Mariners, a solid playoff team!!!

On the board, better record at end of season, Indians or Astros?  I think I’ll pick tribe

Tony:

I went back and looked at the Tribe’s pitching over the last couple years. I looked for players who had good season but weren’t already household names. That eliminated obvious ones like Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia, but also Justin Masterson in 2011, Ubaldo Jimenez in 2012, and Kevin Millwood 2005. I also imposed a minimum 10 starts. So, players you could be referring to:

Trevor Bauer (2015) – Really, he is/was big name prospect. Dude is known as “the Jedi” and has plenty of articles on ESPN, Grantland, etc.
Kluber (2014) – was actually good in 2013, but the Tribe wasn’t so you didn’t notice.
TJ House (2014) – 16th round pick.
Carlos Carrasco (2014) – Also a big name prospect. The top prospect in the Cliff Lee deal.
Zach McCallister (2013) – 3rd round pick.
Roberto Hernandez (2010) – was actually weirdly great for us in 2007. But let’s count him for now…
Jeremy Sowers (2006) – #6 overall pick in the draft.
Brian Anderson (2003) – #3 overall pick in the draft.

Let’s remind ourselves that Roberto Hernandez was/is Fausto Carmona.

So, I don’t know what you want to do with Fausto/Roberto. But max numbers here is 3. House and McCallister are for sure in your wheelhouse. Can’t give you the top prospects as guys you were asking “shit who is this guy again?” unless you weren’t paying much attention to baseball.

When I read your comment, I though: “he’s right!” On further examination, it seems you’re not. Two possible conclusions: 1) you weren’t paying attention to the Tribe very much over the last 10 years, 2) because of all the player turnover over the last 10 years, even “big named prospects” or reclamation projects seem like guys coming out of nowhere. In that case, you are right that the Tribe has squeezed some good stuff out of abandoned projects (I would add Scott Kazmir to that list, amongst others). The Tribe has also done a nice job stocking the farm system with arms to replenish.

Do we even have one board bet up? Of course I’m not betting the Astros against the Tribe…

The Baseball Roundup (5/19/15)

May 19, 2015

Day 2…

Kevin:

Angels back to .500. Are they the team to beat in the central? Sorry Astros…

Jose Bautista mashes his 7th home run, despite ongoing injuries (ahem, steroids).

Also, is CJ Wilson good?

The Mets have given Matt Harvey only one run of support in each of the past three starts, and the man has a 16 inning scoreless streak, which is not even the longest current streak (James Paxton is at 20). If you’re wondering who has the longest streak since 1990, that would be knucle-baller R.A. Dickey. Who would’ve thunk it…

Tigers fall… Victor Martinez grounded into another double play… He is one short of 200!!! If you’re wondering who the career leader is, it’s not surprisingly Cal Ripken Jr. With fat*ss Pudge Rodriguez  in a bloated second place. More interestingly, Andrelton Simmons and Casey McGehee seem to be making a run at the record. Both are on pace for over 50 double plays, which would crush the existing record of 36. McGehee led the league in DPs last year, so it’s not totally anomalous.

Side note: Mario Mendoza, career journeyman, obviously was the origin of the phrase Mendoza line. Surprisingly, Mendoza actually hit .215 in his career, yet I’ve always thought of the line as .200. George Brett is credited with coining the phrase (he was his teammate! What a dick).

There is another popular way to refer to sub 200 hitting: being “on the interstate.” I kind of like this one better, and don’t recall hearing it nearly as often. For instance, George Springer for the Astros is on the interstate, (I-88 in his case).  At this moment, it seems like the Astros are running a cross country caravan, as their lineup traverses the highway system.

Indians lose a heartbreaker.  KLUBER!! Man started the game with 5 strikeouts and sat down 7 of the first 9. Means he struck out 25 in 11 innings. Sadly the tribe couldn’t hit, and we faced Chris Sale, bummer.

Also, Astros were downed by the A’s.

Which is more likely: A’s finish above .500, or Astros finish below.500? Wagers? One little guy takes out another? This would be like seeing Tony and Swaggy PHD fight each other. Small markets. Occasional overachievers, but in reality perennial failures.

When Gattis hits home runs (which happens a lot) do the announcers scream GAAAATTTIIIM!?

gotem

Lonnie Chisenhall swings at 45% percent of pitches outside the strike-zone to lead the league. Barely edging out GAAATTTTEEEESSSS!

Giancarlo Stanton only makes contact on 39 percent of swings at pitches outside of the strike-zone. Are pitchers just feeding him garbage? Does he swing just because he has to in order to avoid walks? Or is he more Vladmir Guerreroish, just bombing pitches regardless of location?

Not surprisingly, 3 Astros in top ten of players making shit contact on strike zone pitches. Thank you Colby Rasmus, George Springer, and Chris Carter.

Cole Hamels getting the Phillies back on track. Where’s he rank among current pitchers? Who the hell is he gonna get traded to? Fascinating trade deadline deal if he gets moved; gotta think he could be high impact for the playoffs.

Quick thought on pitchers.  How many would you rather have than Clayton Kershaw, if you knew your team was going to the postseason…

re: Kershaw, How much of his postseason failure is small sample size? Or does the guy really just choke? Last year, lost Game 1 and Game 4. He got blown up by the Cards.

To put in perspective how bad he was in the postseason, compared to the regular season: The man gave up 39 Earned runs the entire season. In 2 games in the postseason, he got hit for 11 Earned runs. And in fact, he was brilliant through the first 2 games of the 2013 postseason. Then got smashed for 7 Earned Runs in 4 innings against… the fuc*ing Cardinals.

Did the Cardinals kill world eater Kershaw?  If so, do the Cardinals actually have a cheat code to baseball?

So the question becomes… who would you rather have, knowing your team is bound for the postseason: Kershaw, Lester, Wacha, Prime Beckett, or Bartolo Colon. Any other fascinating suggestions?

Finally, we should start some version of the put it on the board betting board.  Prop suggestions can be started now…

Tony:

Lots to chew on today, Kevin… Let’s start with: of course we should have a prop bets board. People should certainly propose via comment, but since I’m not crazy enough to think people read this, we can come up with them. When you make an assertion, I’ll be encouraged to bet it. For example, were you to say: “Jimmy Nelson, despite having good stuff and throwing well this season is only 1-4, I don’t think he will break .500 this year” I can challenge that, or not. Note: though I faux-quoted you, that’s my assertion, you could take that bet and “put it on the board” if you’d like…

Couple others real quick before I get into this: 1) why don’t you just come out and give us your Mike Stanton stat line in the video game you play (note, in the game he is Mike, hadn’t changed yet); that’s what you wan’t, right? 2) CJ Wilson is good. Not great, but good. Baseball folk might call him “solid.” Look at the large sample size. 3) Nice GIDP stats…

OK, on to it. Why are you at all surprised about R.A Dickey? Have you seen that pitch!?

I wouldn’t bet 1 dollar on you at 1000000000:1 odds to hit Aroldis Chapman, but I would still bet that you could hit Aroldis Chapman over R.A Dickey.

The interstate batting average concept is fantastic. Especially if you thought, like I did, that Brett was referring to Minnie Mendoza… Minnie hit .188 in 16 ABs. If that’s actually the case, George Springer, currently on I-88, is RIGHT ON the actual Mendoza line.

Mendoza’s anemic career at the plate doesn’t match Bill Dugan‘s, who hit a career .088 in 35 ABs, and is likely only known to humorous baseball fans turning to google for Jimmy Dugan quotes from A League of Their Own. Neither guy deserves that much scorn, because… small sample size.

Really, when criticizing a player, we should reference Bill Bergen, another catcher, who hit .170 in over 3000 ABs. That is a serious sample size… Meanwhile, maybe we can elevate Joe Lonnett to an iconic status that matches his interstate: I-66. Lonnett’s 300+ at bats are more substantial than Minnie’s 16. By the way, Mike Napoli is currently flirting with the Lonnett Line… He’s hitting .162 in 117 ABs. Ouch.

Chris Sale IS a force. His stats are inflated due to the worst start of his career on April 30th when he gave up 9 in 3 innings. He’s on my fantasy squad, not worried about the current ERA.

Mat Harvey is also on my fantasy squad and is, clearly, Batman.

Speaking of pitchers I’d rather have over Clayton Kershaw in the playoffs (yes, even though Harvey has no experience I’d take him right now), Madison Bumgarner is the obvious top choice. The only thing filthier than Kershaw’s 2014 stat line (198.1 IP, 21-3, 1.77 ERA, .85 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, 7.71 K/BB) is Bumgarner’s 2014 post-season line: 52.2 IP (record), 4-1, 1.03 ERA, A SAVE, .65 WHIP, 7.75 K/9, 7.5 K/BB.

Oh, I’m sorry, that’s not true. His World Series stat line was better (21 IP, 2-0, a save, .43 ERA, .47 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 17 K/BB) and his career stats in the World Series make straight and gay men alike, turgid: 36 IP, 4-0, a save, .25 ERA, .52 WHIP, 7.8 K/9, 6.2 K/BB.

Bummy squares off against Kershaw on Wednesday night, pitting the reigning World Series MVP against the reigning NL MVP. It also means Kershaw is throwing against a reigning Silver Slugger, though Bumgarner is 1-7 against Kershaw all time and has 4Ks. This is the 4th time the two aces will have faced each other and should be fun, even though neither pitcher has had a great start to the season.

Cliff Lee would be on that list (82 IP, 7-3, 2.55 ERA, .92 WHIP, 9.8 K/9, 8.9 K/BB), but he’s broken. As is Adam Wainwright (83.2 IP, 4-4, 3.12 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 6.0 K/BB). Which takes us back to your boy Cole Hamels, who is a post-season asset: 81.2 IP, 7-4, 3.09 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 3.6 K/BB. He would be a heck of a pick-up for a contender this year.

To round out a solid “5 Guys I’d Rather Have Than Kershaw in the Playoffs” list, I’ll add Max Scherzer (62.2 IP, 4-3, 3.73 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 11.5 K/9, 3.2 K/BB) and Jon Lester (84 IP, 6-4, 2.57 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 7.8 K/9, 3.17 K/BB), who, due to experience, edged out Michael Wacha (31 IP, 4-2, 3.48 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, 2.54 K/BB) for my 5th slot.

Speaking of Jon Lester, any news on his throw to first? I know he hadn’t thrown to first since 2013, inspiring Grantland to pick up the story. The last I heard was…

Lester

Has he stopped throwing over again?

By the way, Colon would not  be a bad post-season pick… In 58.1 innings he is 2-4 with a 3.70 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, with 6.9 K/9 and 2.05 K/BB.

Meanwhile, Prime Beckett obviously makes that list if I have a time machine. From 2003 and 2007 the guy was un-hittable and led both teams to World Series titles. He went 6-2, in 72.2 IP, with a 1.74 ERA, .77 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, and 5.85 K/BB. AND 3 of those games were COMPLETE GAME SHUTOUTS. Filth.

He is behind Bumgarner and up there with Andy PettitteCurt Schilling (the bloody sock!!!), and Bob Gibson (81 IP, 7-2, 1.89 ERA, 8 CGs, .88 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 5.41 K/BB) for my “All-Time 5 Man Post-Season Rotation.”

Consider this: Andy Pettitte pitched an entire season of playoff baseball: 19-10, 263 IP, 3.83 ERA, 173 strikeouts, 5 World Series titles. Like, a long workhorse-type season that, thanks to pitch counts (see: Kluber) we will never see again… Either in a single season by a pitcher, or in a post-season career…

Christy Matthewson and Sandy Koufax deserve honorable mention and have some of the best stats of all time (though Koufax only had 57 IP… Matthewson had 101 and threw 10 CGs – his inability to get K’s leaves him off my list).

John Smoltz is up there. He was overshadowed throughout his career by Maddox and Glavine but out-pitched both in the post-season:15-4, 209 IP, 2.67 ERA, 4 saves, 1 World Series title

Curveball for you: if we aren’t limiting the discussion to starters, Mariano Rivera is perhaps my #1 picked pitcher for the post season. The “Sandman” was filth: 8-1, 139.2 IP, 0.71 ERA, 42 saves, 5 World Series titles.

Finally, remember 98-99 Pedro Martinez? I mean in general, he was a god (though it was 2000 when he had a 1.74 ERA and .73 WHIP with 11.8 K/9), but specifically the post-season?

In 1999 in particular, when he crushed the dreams of young Indians fans everywhere, he pitched 17 innings, didn’t give up a run, had a .64 WHIP, and struck-out 12.1 batter per 9 innings.

The Cardinals definitely have a baseball cheat. Beyond the fact that their scouts are incredible and their GMs don’t overpay for past-prime talent, they are “clutch” as can be. Whatever that means. Incredible organization. We’ve had this discussion in person, but it’s a great question: top 5 franchises of all time?

Yankees are unquestionably #1. After that I would say the Cardinals, Giants, Athletics, and Red Sox – in that order. I’m cheating a little bit by combining the NY and SF Giants as well as the Philly and OAK A’s, but I think that’s fair. World Series titles is clearly what makes these teams standout, but I was also looking for fairly consistent stretches of not being awful.

Second tier? Got to be Dodgers and Reds. Maybe the Tigers? I won’t give the Pirates this much credit. 5 titles is great, but they haven’t been good in 30 years…

To round out today’s pitching centric Baseball Round up, can we take a moment to appreciate the Millers? Not the movie, though We’re the Millers was, like these two pitchers, both great and under-appreciated. Shelby Miller lost some favor in STL because he had to be hidden in the playoffs (I won’t print the numbers here) and Michael Wacha stepped up. But the guy had two good first seasons in the MLB. There was a slight strikeout dip last year, and he walked more guys, which is why he was expendable when Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden were offered by the Braves.

To be fair, I liked the trade for both teams: Walden is a K machine who has proven he can close games (32 in 2011 AS A ROOKIE) and Heyward has been a good pro, but remember Miller was THE NUMBER 1 pitching prospect in baseball in 2010 according to Keith Law. Of course, coincidentally, Heyward was the #1 overall prospect on Keith Law’s 2010 list…

Anyway, Shelby Miller is dominating right now – which is why it’s scary to trade good arms. In 54 innings, Miller is 5-1 with a 1.33 ERA, .83 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, and 2.69 K/BB. The K/BB rate is still a little scary, but I don’t think the numbers are all luck. Neither does Ben Lindbergh at Grantland. Gotta love new pitches.

Meanwhile, Andrew Miller never needed new pitches, he just needed to not be starting. After a rough first 6 years in Detroit and Miami, Boston sent him to the bullpen in 2012 and he has been lights out since. He currently leads the AL in saves (13), has given up 0 runs (forget about earned runs), sports a .62 WHIP, and is striking out just shy of 15 per 9 innings…

Andrew Miller is not to be confused with former Indian, Adam Miller, who also had reportedly filthy stuff, but could never get over a blister problem. Adam, also a one time top prospect, has never pitched in the bigs and is currently lingering in the Pittsburgh farm system.

Chris Archer was also drafted by the Indians (though three years after Miller). He is another young pitcher off to a great start with a 2.47 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and more than 10 strikeouts per 9 innings.

Tribe fans shouldn’t feel too envious of the Devil Rays due to Miller, pitching has not been the problem this year in Cleveland… The Indians are battling to become the worst fielding team of all time.

(Two Roundups in a row I ended with “fielding” references).

The Baseball Roundup (5/18/15)

May 19, 2015

In an attempt to resurrect this beautiful antique blog from the bottom of the cybersphere, the summer of 2015 has a column: The Baseball Roundup.

The Roundup is basically an ongoing, daily conversation between Tony and his best friend Kevin. It’s PTI goes Houston.

Kevin:

Wan’t to know what Kevin learned today?

Juan Lagares (CF) is having a rough go for the Mets – especially defensively. We should expect this to change because of…small sample size. He’s a converted short stop, and new metrics typically love him. Also no indicators of slowdown, loss of arm-strength, etc.

AROD!! Despite being released by Tony in League RAT, A-Rod is killing it. Specifically, he’s honing in on fastballs and is becoming Adam “Dunnish” by adopting the trifecta: walk, HR, K. HR 660 was on a 3-0 pitch, he only swings at those 5 percent of the time. He’s also only 29 hits shy of 3,000 hits. Are the cranky baseball writers going to be able to keep this guy out of the hall?

Mike Trout is really good– but could be improving… He started to swing at first pitches this year. Claims he didn’t swing at a first pitch his entire minor league career. This year, has doubled his rate. It makes sense, you can’t just give a free pitch in the majors… though he did, and got away with it the last couple years, because he’s Mike Trout…

Michael Pineda– He’s back from the dead.  After a great rookie showing, two years of injury and pine tar, he miraculously reinvents himself.  What causes such miraculous turnarounds? (ROID ALERT!!!)

Speaking of roids, Pineda is second in the majors in ERA. The only person ahead of him is Bartolo Fuc*ing Colon!! He’s alive. And fat. And roided. And slaying batters.

Meanwhile, bullpens are damn near un-hittable. April was another month with ridiculous pitching stats. Much of this is due to dominant bullpens. Teams are hitting worse against bullpens then they did in the dead ball year.  Lends some credence to the “all bullpen” pitching staff idea from Scorecasting. Also the whole thing slows the game down and makes it decidedly less fun to watch (unless it is Aroldis Chapman throwing 105 mph).

Giancarlos Stanton is an adult and pays. his. mortgage. HR’s of 467, 474, 475 feet within a 3 day period… Insane. Moral of the story is: don’t throw this man anything in the strike zone. He will eat your children. Just stay the hell away.

Checkout the stuff on exit velocity. Stanton crushes balls 110mph plus! Also could be a new advanced stat to keep an eye on.

The Cleveland Indians continue to be depressing. I’m hopeful Kluber’s latest performance rejuvenates him. Not fair that in a year when the Tribe gets heavily picked, we instead get standout surprise performances from both NY teams, and the Astros

Speaking of the Astros.  Really going with the Strikeout-or-Bomb Approach. On pace to have more strikeouts than all but 6 teams over the past 100 years. The other 6 finished with 95+ losses. Doesn’t bode well…

As always, the Cards and Giants get back on track, because thats what they do. More regular topics in May: rookies surprise and the Cubs get everyone’s hopes up before crashing back to earth.

I figure if i wrote 9,500 more words, evoke a startling array of pop culture references, and refuse to let anyone read my work before publication, I could fill in for the Simmons vacancy on ESPN.

Tony:

You’re about as annoying as Simmons and neither of you are fun drunks, so that would make a lot of sense.

Giancarlo Stanton is indeed an adult. As is the dude who caught the third dinger you mentioned. “Hit Speed” on that was 115 mph…

The Catch

Or not… Unless he was high when he caught it. Then maybe.

Why you are paying attention to Juan Lagares is beyond me. Though “because small sample size” is going to come up a lot, so I’m kind of glad you started with Juan.

Other guys who “because small sample size:” Dee Gordon‘s .426 batting average (that’s not to say I don’t love him. I do. So does Michael Baumann), Aaron Harang‘s everything (compare it to his HUGE sample size previous to this year), Devon Travis, Jake Marisnik, and Luis Valbuena.

Unfortunately there are two Astros on that list…

I don’t know what to make of Jimmy Paredes. Small sample size? I picked him up in fantasy anyway.

A good example of the power of “small sample size” is Jason Kipnis. Guy raised his abysmal, Cleveland-starts-second-guessing worthy, batting average in two weeks by going 24/54 with a  1.191 OPS and 3 SBs. Please note, he’s on my squad in League RAT. People doubting after last year have the patience of children. No time for that. “We are all Kipnisses.”

Kipnisses

Bartolo Fuc*ing Colon has made baseball, and my life better for so many years…

Colon

Speaking of roids. Comes up when you start talking about the existence of 30-30 guys, doesn’t it? I, for one, love the 30-30 guy. So if roids are the way we get it. I’m in for roids.

The Grantland article on Mike Trout’s dad, Jeff, is also really good. Guy lived The Art of Fielding

Because Your Phil Dawson Jersey is Depressing: An Argument for Manziel to Cleveland

May 3, 2014

Amnesia-inducing binge drinking notwithstanding, there isn’t a more highly anticipated post-season event for Cleveland Browns fans than the NFL draft.

It just so happens there isn’t a more disappointing one, either.

No matter what the front office du jour is for the Browns, the draft rollercoaster hits all the familiar beats: Picks are made, fans try to convince themselves that the newly drafted players will drag the Browns out of the “worst team in all of sports” conversation, then the season starts, the Browns implode, fans start having an inner dialogue wondering what they did in a previous life to deserve being born beholden to such a thankless team. And then everyone looks towards the upcoming draft once again.

While the team occasionally hits pay dirt with a Joe Thomas or a Joe Haden in the draft, the game’s most important position is always left unfulfilled, and thus, the win/loss column remains depressingly static year after year.

If the Browns can’t find their franchise quarterback with the newly appointed Ray Farmer at GM and a league-most 10 picks (including picks No. 4, No. 26 and No. 35) in one of the deepest drafts in recent years, they might as well give up trying and convert Cleveland Browns Stadium into a parking garage.

Brian Hoyer looked solid in his two games at quarterback last year before tearing his ACL, but putting the entire weight of the organization on an unproven quarterback’s surgically repaired knee isn’t a viable team strategy. The organization needs to look towards the future.

That’s why the Browns need Johnny Manziel.

The city isn’t just looking for new life at quarterback, it’s searching for a franchise resurrection.

The Browns were outdrawn by most second-tier LPGA events last season, and one can’t help but feel the sales pitch, “Can I interest you in another 4-12 season?” probably isn’t helping drive ticket sales this offseason, either.

Acquiring the draft’s biggest draw would instantly give the Browns an identity, a recognizable face who would bring in fans, and someone who, you know, might actually make the game not excruciating to watch.

On the field, the fact that Manziel dominated the NFL feeder system known as the SEC–including compiling the two highest total-offense seasons in league history–would make him a welcomed addition to a Browns offense accustomed to making opposing defenses look like the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.

And despite the Browns 29-678 record since coming back in ‘99 (numbers approximate), Cleveland should be Manziel’s desired destination on May 8.

Johnny Football would find himself in a position to excel right off the bat with Pro Bowlers Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon coming back on offense, in addition to the newly acquired Ben Tate at running back.

Also, coming to the league’s hungriest fanbase would have to be attractive to Manziel, a player who, despite his best pre-draft PR attempts to rebrand himself as low-key, small-town personality, has courted more attention than Miley Cyrus over the past year.

Browns fans are still deifying the last respectable QB to play in Cleveland, and that was during the Reagan Era. It is safe to say that if Manziel were to lead the Browns to the playoffs, he’d have a statue built outside the stadium before the opening round game began.

Drafting Manziel wouldn’t come without risk for the team’s new front office. He’s the size of most NFL punters, and he’s not a pure pocket passer, which is the type of quarterback that always seems to find the most success in the pros.

He’s not likely to be the Best Player Available on many analysts boards when the Browns pick at No. 4, and he certainly won’t be the “safe” pick, but if All-Pros Joe Thomas and Josh Gordon couldn’t change the trajectory of the franchise, chances are Greg Robinson and Sammy Watkins won’t either.

And while fellow top QB prospect Blake Bortles might have a more prototypical NFL frame than Manziel, the Browns have already tried bringing in a trick-shot artist, the world’s oldest marksman and an amateur bodybuilder in recent years; they owe it to the fans to finally just go after the best quarterback.

—Adam Redling

First Amendment Rights Mad Lib!

April 29, 2014

It seems like we have this conversation every other month or so.  So instead of updating it with new names and facts, I have decided to create a generalized template for these situations.

NEWS STORY:
[INSERT: NAME OF BIGOT] recently got [CHOOSE: FIRED/SUSPENDED/BANNED] from [INSERT: PRIVATE EMPLOYER] for saying [INSERT: DESCRIPTION OF BIGOTED SPEECH].

DUMB-DUMBS:
“Whatever happened to the First Amendment! I remember when [CHOOSE (AS MANY AS APPLY): YOU WERE GUARANTEED FREE SPEECH! /OUR RIGHTS WERE PROTECTED! /THIS WAS THE LAND OF THE FREE AND HOME OF THE BRAVE!] Thanks a lot, Obama.”

RESPONSE:
Yes, the First Amendment of the Constitution establishes your right to free speech.

No, that right does not entitle you to speak freely without any consequences. It only protects against government deprivation of liberty or property interests. In other words, you cannot get arrested or fired from government employment for what you say.

“Free speech” does nothing to protect you from private employers or public scrutiny. You are entitled to your opinions. But others are equally entitled to their opinions of your opinions.

RECAP:
So yes, [INSERT: NAME OF BIGOT] had every right to say [INSERT: DESCRIPTION OF BIGOTED SPEECH] in the sense that he would not get arrested.

But [INSERT: PRIVATE EMPLOYER] had every right to read those statements and (absent any contractual language to the contrary) [CHOOSE: FIRE/SUSPEND/BAN] [CHOOSE: HIM/HER] for it.  And the public—twitter, blogs, your facebook newsfeed, etc.—has every right to [CHOOSE: SKEWER/DEFEND] [CHOOSE: HIM/HER] for it.

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