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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 423

post #12661 of 73394

post #12662 of 73394

laugh.gif @ Jose Valverde. My man is done.

post #12663 of 73394
Originally Posted by CHECKS Grossman View Post

laugh.gif  @ Jose Valverde. My man is done.

@RoyalsBallBoy: Just ran into Valverde in the parking lot and dumped a bottle of Billy's BBQ sauce on him. #Royals #RallySauce
post #12664 of 73394
Oh look Iron Man on my Johnson again

Ay I got some work for you to do if you're ever in NC
post #12665 of 73394
Originally Posted by GUNNA GET IT View Post

Originally Posted by Th3RealF0lkBlu3s View Post

If you want respect, you have to conduct yourself accordingly. The fact is that this is what the culture of baseball is, and unless you're going to start throwing tennis balls over the plate, pitchers will always have the ability to retaliate against the other team. Don't want to get hurt? Then don't ask for a beaning.

Nah Bruh.

Hitting a batter below the numbers is fine and okay.

Bean balls to the head is ******g ridiculous. Regardless. 90+ MPH fastballs to the face are unjustifiable. Under no circumstance is that okay

I should have been more clear. I'm not advocating for head hunting. I said a few pages back something about watching out for getting pegged in the ear hole, but I do agree it's waay too dangerous for that to become the norm. Everything below the numbers, though? Fair game.
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post #12666 of 73394
Originally Posted by Kevin Cleveland View Post

Kev wants these fools parading around and dancing when they hit a dinky home run but is mortally offended as soon as someone gets hit. Sorry, but those are unwritten rules. You act like a clown, you'll get treated like one.
If you want respect, you have to conduct yourself accordingly. The fact is that this is what the culture of baseball is, and unless you're going to start throwing tennis balls over the plate, pitchers will always have the ability to retaliate against the other team. Don't want to get hurt? Then don't ask for a beaning.
None of that has anything to do with what happened in this particular game... At all.

There was no posturing after a home run. Nobody got showed up. All of it started strictly because of what your "culture of baseball" is, accident or not.

The "culture of baseball" is ********. Baseball is about the only institution in the world where people openly embrace 100-year-old mindsets. You can have it. That's not my culture.

Clearly it isn't yours. But you want showboating and blatant disrespect to go unanswered. Never going to happen.
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post #12667 of 73394
The whole thing should've been over after Montero got hit.

I don't think Kennedy meant to hit Puig in the head. Maybe he was trying to go up and in, sure. But I don't think he's trying to hit him in the head. So they hit your best player in the head, you throw at Montero to protect your guy, and then it should have been done...

Kennedy going back at Greinke's head is ********... It's bush league and completely unnecessary.

And regardless of what you think, baseball isn't going to change. Showboating and bat flipping and slow trots around the bases and all that crap is never going to be widely accepted. Ever.
post #12668 of 73394
Dodgers and Dbacks to open next year in Australia. laugh.gif
post #12669 of 73394
Originally Posted by Mr Marcus View Post

Oh look Iron Man on my Johnson again

Ay I got some work for you to do if you're ever in NC
Who would ever want to go to NC? laugh.gif
post #12670 of 73394
Originally Posted by dland24 View Post

Alright so you were talking to me.  Instead of your condescending two word response, care to tell me what exactly you had a problem with in my post?

It was very long winded, didn't want to analyze an over-analysis of a somewhat "meathead" situation.

Originally Posted by Mr Marcus View Post

Oh look Iron Man on my Johnson again

Ay I got some work for you to do if you're ever in NC

laugh.gif ... Taking yourself way to serious. laugh.gif

Pass on going to NC to do some landscaping, not for hire.

So for those against retaliatory beanings, what's your take on...

Fighting in Hockey?
Having "Goons" in hockey?
Retaliatory hits in Football?
Greg Schiano's kneel down tactics?
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Instagram: backyardlobo
post #12671 of 73394
I'm guessing we're going to find some double standards in a few posts when it comes to retaliation.
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post #12672 of 73394
Thread Starter 
Less cash, man.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
OVER THE WINTER, the general manager of the Yankees warned the others in his office that they were in for a trying time, the sort his staff had never experienced while working for the richest franchise in professional sports.

Behind the scenes with Cashman

Brian Cashman tells Buster Olney how he rose through the Yankee organization's ranks. Gallery You see, Brian Cashman has decided to learn the guitar, at age 45, and the sounds emanating from his office, well, it's not as if he's Eric Clapton. In fact, it can be excruciating. "My poor staff has to listen to me," Cashman says, sort of laughing, but sort of not.

In many respects these days, he is a yes-man, a guy starting anew: rappelling a 22-story building a couple of years ago, learning to scuba dive and jumping out of a plane for charity. At an age when his habits should be calcified, Cashman is unafraid to break the molding of his life.

Nowhere is this truer than at the ballpark. Yankees ownership asked Cashman before the season to cut payroll from roughly $230 million to $189 million by the start of the 2014 campaign. If the Yankees could get below that number -- the threshold at which teams start accruing luxury-tax charges -- it could mean perhaps $35 million saved for the club's owners, because of rules created under a new labor agreement. But due to the many costly contracts the Yankees have accumulated -- the team had spent a little less than $2 billion in payroll over the past decade -- Cashman didn't have lots of leeway to trim. If Cashman and his staff were to succeed, which in the Bronx means forever extending the legacy, they would have to become much more creative accountants. They would have to discover ways to cut payroll while finding replacement players who are good enough to keep the Yankees as contenders but not so expensive as to infringe on the effort to re-sign their marquee talent, namely second baseman Robinson Cano, whose contract would be up at the end of 2013.

Cashman's challenge was, in short, that of a juggler keeping a chain saw, machete, stiletto and switchblade aloft at the same time. He was joining a lot of other jugglers too. Baseball began veering strongly toward greater financial efficiency a decade ago, which made GMs focus on all the tricks available to enhance value for the dollars invested in players. The release of Moneyball ratcheted up the front office sabermetric and financial talent exponentially. It wasn't long ago that some teams kept secret the addition of a genius for fear of offending the old members of the industry, but today such analysts are generally holding jobs that former players used to have. Now the organizations perceived to be the best run are built on data.

The Rays, Cardinals and Rangers have all worked under the premise that having less than a Yankees-size budget can actually mean more operative freedom, determining that there isn't that vast a gulf between an average player and a very good one. Over the past few years, these teams have developed replacements internally rather than overpay to keep stars who must always be in the lineup -- like Albert Pujols or Josh Hamilton -- and have still found themselves playing in October. And for even more economical teams, like the A's and Orioles, trying to maximize the value of a $20,000 waiver claim is standard operating procedure. Many have learned how to feast on the mistakes of other clubs, like when the Pirates acquired A.J. Burnett while compelling the Yankees to ante up a majority of his salary.

When the industry started down this road, Cashman lobbied for a more efficient payroll in his conversations with aging Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. There was no reason for the Yankees to overpay constantly in trades or in contracts, he said then. It stretches credulity that as the longest-serving GM in the game, Cashman had piled up many contracts on his books that he hadn't been in favor of. But that's been life under the Steinbrenners, specifically George, who often pushed deals on him in which the team unnecessarily squandered either money or prospects.

In 2013 it was Cashman's responsibility to squander neither.

John Loomis for ESPN
GM Brian Cashman is embracing MLB's cutting edge and still fielding a winner."THIS IS WHAT you train for," Cashman says. "This is why you hire people." His job, he often told his staff, would be to do more than survive the season but also to thrive in it.

The headwinds were formidable. Alex Rodriguez owes Joe Torre dinner for life in spite of their personal differences, because it was in the ugly aftermath of Torre's exit in the fall of 2007 that George Steinbrenner's sons and daughters -- facing enormous criticism for Torre's departure -- arranged to pay the then-32-year-old Rodriguez $275 million in base salary in a 10-year deal, with another $30 million in incentive clauses. Not long after, Rodriguez acknowledged his past use of performance-enhancing drugs, badly damaging his marquee value. Now at 37 and coming off two hip surgeries and more allegations of PED use that may result in a 100-game suspension, he owns the current industry standard for a bad deal. The Yankees owe him about $100 million over the next four and a half seasons, and his salary absorbs 15 percent of the space under the luxury-tax threshold. The contract hangs from the team like an anchor, affecting all the choices it makes.

To be sure, the Yankees also are paying Mark Teixeira $22.5 million and CC Sabathia about $24 million annually through 2016. Then there's Derek Jeter, who is making nearly $17 million this year and holds a player option for 2014; Mariano Rivera, who is making $10 million in the last year of his career; Cano, who is earning $15 million; and Curtis Granderson another $15 million. With an uncapped budget, it all works. With strict caps, however, an organization suddenly has choices to make, like Donald Trump fretting the electric bill.

In 2012 the Yankees loved the work of catcher Russell Martin, who clubbed 21 homers, and rightfielder Nick Swisher, who got on base all the time, but over the winter the team prioritized pitching -- in particular short-term pitching contracts -- and re-signed Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte to conservative one-year deals. The Yankees decided to pass on Martin and Swisher, who both accepted fat multiyear offers elsewhere. Cashman then signed Kevin Youkilis, an aging but still viable third baseman, to a 2013 contract that would, like the pitchers, not hurt the Yankees' effort to cut their payroll in 2014.

After those decisions, the Yankees arrived at spring training with significant questions at catcher, rightfield and designated hitter. The team's scouts held a conference call on March 7 to review who might become available. They were looking for value deals. Veteran first baseman Lyle Overbay came up -- he was in camp with the Red Sox, with good defensive skills but a swing that, according to one evaluator, made it look as if he stood at the plate with a "wet noodle." Somebody mentioned the Tigers' Brennan Boesch, a cheap outfielder who, if he didn't work out, carried an option to send him to the minors. Then the scouts talked about Vernon Wells, a 34-year-old three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner. Everyone in baseball assumed Wells' best days were behind him; he hit .218 for the Angels in 2011 and dealt with a thumb injury in 2012, losing his job to Mike Trout. But what Yankees scouts saw in Wells during Angels camp was something different. "He looks healthy again," said one scout. "He has his bat speed back."

Before the Yankees could make decisions on Wells or anyone else, though, injuries derailed them. Granderson was hit by a pitch during his first at-bat of spring training and broke a bone in his hand; he wouldn't be back until May. Teixeira hurt his wrist preparing for the World Baseball Classic, and the Yankees medical staff estimated that he had a 70 percent chance of returning sometime before June but with any setback would need season-ending surgery. Derek Jeter had broken his leg in the 2012 playoffs, and it was not long after Teixeira's injury that the team learned Jeter had suffered a nearby fracture and would be out until at least the All-Star break. Even Cashman was hurt: On March 4, he parachuted out of a plane in Florida to raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project and dislocated his ankle and shattered his leg.

As Cashman sat in his cast some two weeks from Opening Day, he knew his team would be without players who were responsible for 201 of the 245 homers New York hit in 2012. Privately, in conversation with a rival official, Cashman mentioned there was a chance the Yankees' everyday lineup could be awful.

CASHMAN NEVER PLAYED baseball professionally; he was a good small-market college player at The Catholic University of America in DC. But an underrated side of Cashman and many of his front office peers is how competitive they are. At the same time that the media questioned whether the Yankees could contend this year -- heck, I picked them to finish last in the American League East -- Cashman tackled the challenge like a pitcher trying to retire Miguel Cabrera. "We will solve this," he said to one of his staffers during spring training.

[+] Enlarge
John Loomis for ESPN
The Yankees had to build their 2013 roster in the backs of replacement-level players like Lyle Overbay and former All-Stars like Vernon Wells.They started the process by signing Boesch, who had been cut by the Tigers, to a $1.5 million deal. Then came Wells. Yes, he made $21 million a year for his past stardom. But Michael Fishman, the Yankees director of quantitative analysis, had reviewed the terms of Wells' contract with the Angels and found that the deal was backloaded so heavily that the outfielder would count nothing -- zero dollars -- toward the luxury-tax threshold in 2014. Just the kind of contract the Yankees needed.

After Teixeira got hurt and the Yankees were assured they'd receive about $8 million in insurance money from the WBC, the club approached the Angels. By March 24, the two sides had reached an agreement: LA would pay $28 million of the remaining $42 million on Wells' contract, and New York would give Wells a two-year, $14 million deal -- a gamble, sure, but for a relatively inexpensive veteran whom the Yankees scouts and metrics favored, one the club was willing to make.

Meanwhile, Overbay, he of the wet-noodled bat, was released by the Red Sox on the morning of March 26. I emailed a member of the Yankees staff and asked whether the team might be interested. Probably not, was the response. He looks awful.

But as the Yankees formally assessed Overbay, they talked about his defensive skill. At that moment, the replacement for Teixeira at first base appeared to be Juan Rivera, who had performed well offensively in spring training but had almost no defensive experience. Cashman talked to Overbay's agent about a limited tryout: 72 hours. It'd cost the Yankees nothing other than meal money to bring him to camp and assess his swing for a couple of days. If he still looked awful, they could cut him.

Well, at the end of the tryout, he still looked awful at the plate, but Cashman now had greater confidence in Overbay's ability to field than Rivera's ability to hit. Cashman told his staff to put Overbay on the roster. When it came down to a decent bat or a very good glove, the Yankees chose defense. It was a straight value buy and emblematic of the new, frugal Bronx Bombers, constructed as ruthlessly as their poorer but more pliable division rivals in, say, Baltimore or Tampa.

SINCE THE START of the season, Cashman has only continued his mad scramble for talent. Eduardo Nunez was supposed to fill in for Jeter, but when he got hurt in early May, the Yankees needed infield depth and claimed Chris Nelson from the Rockies -- only Toronto has more waiver claims since the beginning of last season than the Yankees -- and then replaced Nelson with another castoff, Reid Brignac, who was hitting .136 through June 5 but has been a reliable defender. As for the other acquisitions, Wells was second on the team in home runs, Boesch has hit for some power but returned to the minors (part of his perceived value) and Overbay ranked among the top dozen first basemen in UZR/150, a metric for defensive efficiency. In fact, through mid-May, Overbay had as many homers (six) and more RBIs (24) than Albert Pujols -- Lyle Overbay!

[+] Enlarge
John Loomis for ESPN
Cashman seems unafraid to break the molding of his life, either in the office or outside it.Cashman bumped into Red Sox president Larry Lucchino at a roast and jokingly thanked him for releasing Overbay. "Our reports on him were terrible," Cashman said to Lucchino with a smile.

As June began, the Yankees were near the top of the AL East, a huge surprise, not least because they ranked in the bottom half of baseball in runs scored. "In some respects, I think Cash has done his best job," says Oakland GM Billy Beane, who himself added 10 players through trades this offseason and has made the A's playoff contenders again. Says Cashman, with some satisfaction, "You find a way."

The Yankees have started to get back some of their injured players. Granderson came back briefly in May before again being hit by a pitch -- he won't return until sometime in June -- but Teixeira, Youkilis and Pettitte are all back, and Jeter was expected to return sometime after the All-Star break. In baseball's new management model, however, big-name reinforcements aren't always a good thing.

Injuries had forced the 2012 Dodgers to rely on a lineup comprising mostly part-time players and minor leaguers pressed into major roles, and LA started the year, incredibly enough, 32–15. When injured regulars came back and the front office traded for stars like Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers again had recognizable, proven names -- but something had also been lost. GM Ned Colletti and manager Don Mattingly, who had been able to write out the lineup card with complete flexibility and without regard to stature, salary or ego, suddenly had a pricey group of players to use daily. The Dodgers collapsed.

Now Cashman and manager Joe Girardi will face the same dynamic. With Teixeira (340 career homers through June 5) and Youkilis (.383 career on-base percentage) back in the lineup and Jeter to follow, Girardi will have more star power at his disposal -- and much less flexibility, and maybe less desperation, which served the Yankees well in April and May.

Cashman will continue to adjust as needed, and the Yankees are expected to be active before the July 31 trade deadline and beyond. Cashman has said he wants to sign Cano after the season, but because of the new frugality, he will do it only for the right price. Agents say Cano should be in line for roughly a seven-year, $175 million deal, which could fit the Yankees' budget. But if Cano's demands fall outside that, Cashman says he'll let Cano walk. "The two most important attributes," Cashman says, "are what we think of the player and how that's relative to our current financial commitments."

Until then, Cashman will spend the end of his workdays shooing his staff out of his office, closing his door and practicing his guitar.

The song he loves to play the most? "Knockin' on Heaven's Door."

Be wary of the Athletics.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees finish up a three-game series on Thursday, and it's one that some might label as a "potential playoff preview." Both teams made last year's tournament and, through two-plus months of the season, are positioned to attend this year's dance with the American League's second- and fourth-best records.

The middle of June is when small-sample-size concerns dissipate, to a degree. Everyday players march toward 300 plate appearances, while teams near the halfway point. But there is still plenty of noise in mid-June numbers, and the noise is ominous for the A's: When considered against their schedule thus far, the A's have yet to prove they're an elite AL team.

There are a few generally accepted truisms about playoff teams. One is that they win their home games. Another is that they win games against inferior teams. Ergo, they should really win their home games against lesser foes. The A's are living up to those expectations across the board. They can boast about one of the top home records in the majors. Likewise, they own the best record against sub-.500 teams in the AL. However, Oakland's work against better competition, like the teams it would face in October, leaves a lot to be desired. The Yankees are the only winning team in the AL with a worse record against winning teams.

Breaking down a team's season into chunks is always a dangerous and often mendacious exercise. Take Oakland's 22 games against bad AL teams -- the Astros, Angels and White Sox -- and compare them with their other 45. A comparison shows half of Oakland's overall wins have come against bottom-feeders, as they've gone 19-3 against those weaker teams -- including 9-0 against the Astros -- and 21-24 versus everyone else. The contrasting records are supported in the Athletics' runs scored and allowed averages. Oakland has scored more than six runs and allowed fewer than four runs per game against the bad teams, while scoring fewer than four and allowing more than four against the good teams.

As the season burns on, Oakland's record against good teams could even out -- it has won the first two games against New York, after all. But consider the alternative: The Athletics' issues endure through the regular season. Is it possible that Oakland could still make noise in the postseason and bring home its first world title since 1989? Or are regular-season difficulties against good teams portent of a quick exit in October?

Say the A's continue on this pace for the rest of the season and still make the playoffs. Their gap in winning percentage against good and bad teams would then become the third-largest among postseason teams since the 2008 season, trailing the 2010 Reds and 2011 Brewers. A's fans hoping for a World Series title can point to their Bay Area rivals, the Giants, as proof it can happen. After all, San Francisco posted the third-largest differential during its World Series-winning 2010 season. The Giants aren't the only team to shift gears once the playoffs started: The 2008 Phillies also won the World Series following a sub-.500 season against winning teams.

Postseason teams with largest win percentage differentials
From 2008 through 2012, these are the five playoff teams with the largest gap between their records against winning and losing teams.

Team Season Win % v. < .500 Win % v. >= .500 Differential
CIN 2010 65.1% 37.7% 27.4%
MIL 2011 68.3% 44.3% 24.0%
SFN 2010 67.0% 44.6% 22.4%
BOS 2008 71.9% 50.0% 21.9%
MIL 2008 67.1% 46.1% 21.0%

Of course, the schedule itself is no fault of the A's, who just so happen to share a division with two of the weaker AL teams to date. If anything, Oakland should be commended for taking advantage of a fortuitous schedule, which has seen it play the Astros more than any team save the Angels -- who, conversely, own a 3-7 record against the AL's worst team. Besides, the schedule is a zero-sum game, and the A's will have fewer games against the Astros heading forward than the Rangers, a factoid sure to impact the division race.

Playing better against bad teams is an anticipated reality; it's just the split that makes Oakland stand out. This isn't to say the A's aren't good, but rather that their gaudy record is boosted by an easy schedule thus far. More series wins like this one against the Yankees will go a long way to validating the A's status as an elite AL franchise.
post #12673 of 73394
Originally Posted by mr jordan04 View Post

Originally Posted by Mr Marcus View Post

Oh look Iron Man on my Johnson again

Ay I got some work for you to do if you're ever in NC
Who would ever want to go to NC? laugh.gif

Don't speak on a state you've never been too laugh.gif it's not what you think it is

I have no problem with retaliation as long as it isn't crossing the line...ex: headshots

I personally don't think Ian was aiming for his head...nobody knows except him

I was just saying its funny how baseball/hockey fights aren't looked at the same as fights in basketball or big brawls in football
post #12674 of 73394
Thread Starter 
The Hidden Juggernaut in Oakland.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
One of my favorite toys here on FanGraphs is the Past Calendar Year split. I like the rolling 365 day line, as it gives us a good view of what a player (or team) has done in the equivalent of the most recent full season they have played. Because the MLB season started earlier this year, the totals don’t work out to exactly 162 games, but it’s close enough to give you the right idea at least.

Just for fun, here are the win-loss records for every team in the American League, using the data from the past calendar year filter.

Team Wins Losses Winning %
Athletics 108 60 0.643
Yankees 97 70 0.581
Tigers 96 70 0.578
Rangers 96 70 0.578
Orioles 96 72 0.571
Rays 90 77 0.539
Angels 84 82 0.506
White Sox 80 85 0.485
Red Sox 81 87 0.482
Royals 78 89 0.467
Mariners 77 90 0.461
Twins 71 94 0.430
Blue Jays 70 95 0.424
Indians 68 100 0.405
Astros 52 117 0.308

While the St. Louis Cardinals have steamrolled baseball for the first couple of months of 2013, the A’s have been winning games at an equivalent clip to STL for the past year. A .643 winning percentage over 168 games is an impressive accomplishment, especially considering that the A’s are still overshadowed by the Rangers, Tigers, Yankees, and Red Sox when people talk about AL contenders. However, none of those teams have even been with 10 games of Oakland over the last year.

Once again, Billy Beane, David Forst, Farhan Zaidi, and company have built a terrific baseball team despite limited financial resources. Unlike the A’s from the Moneyball era as chronicled by Michael Lewis, there really are no home grown “stars” that you can point to as the reason for the team’s success. This team was built almost entirely by acquiring undervalued assets via trade or free agency.

The team’s best player over the last year has been Coco Crisp, who has put together a pretty remarkable stretch of baseball in the last 365 days. Since June 13th of 2012, Crisp has played in 132 games, racked up 590 plate appearances, and has hit .293/.368/.494, good for a .370 wOBA while playing half his games in a pretty extreme pitcher’s park. As a center fielder who also happens to be one of the game’s premier baserunners, the total package adds up to +5.4 WAR, and that’s with UZR rating his defense as slightly below average.

This is not a fielding driven valuation. The only players with significant CF time who have posted a higher wRC+ than Crisp’s 138 over that stretch are Mike Trout (159), Andrew McCutchen (147), and Shin-Soo Choo (145), and those numbers don’t even account for Crisp’s baserunning. We’ve got him adding an extra 7.8 runs of value, so when you factor in that value, Crisp has been nearly Choo’s offensive equal while adding significantly more value with the glove. On a per plate appearance basis, Crisp has basically been the offensive equal of Andrew McCutchen.

Before the start of last season, the A’s signed Crisp to a two year, $14 million contract with a team option for a third season. He’s making $7 million per year to put up the kinds of numbers that are worthy of a down-ballot MVP vote. Crisp has been paid about $2 million per win since signing with the A’s; that’s a remarkable steal given the going rates for talent.

Right behind Crisp is Josh Donaldson, who has racked up +4.8 WAR in the last 365 days, and remarkably, that only covers 114 games and 477 plate appearances. Donaldson has actually hit even better than Crisp, putting up a .375 wOBA/141 wRC+, which is basically a dead on match for Evan Longoria‘s .376 wOBA/143 wRC+ over the same time period. Toss in his positive defense at third base, and Donaldson has played at an elite level ever since getting recalled from Triple-A last summer.

And Donaldson is one of those classic Beane acquisitions, as he was the fourth prospect in the deal that sent Rich Harden to the Cubs in 2008. At the time of the trade, Donaldson was a 22-year-old hitting .217/.276/.349 in the low-A Midwest League. He’d been taken 48th overall in the 2007 draft, showing some offensive ability in college, but this wasn’t a highly valued prospect who has finally lived up to the hype. Donaldson looked like a bust very early on and then improved enough to make himself a fringe prospect who might have a future as a bench guy. Moved out from behind the plate and with a new approach to hitting, the A’s have helped turn Donaldson into a quality third baseman.

After Donaldson is the one Oakland hitter who hasn’t struggled to get recognition for his success. Yoenis Cespedes was something of a splashy acquisition for Oakland, as they gave him a four year, $36 million deal as a free agent before the start of last season. The A’s aren’t generally known as big spenders on veteran international free agents, but they landed Cespedes by giving him a shorter deal that would allow him to reach free agency sooner. It has paid off in a big way, as Cespedes has been a +4.0 WAR player over the last year, hitting .277/.342/.504 in the process. For comparison, Cespedes’ deal with the A’s is basically Cody Ross‘ deal with the Diamondbacks, just with one extra year of team control. I’d call that a nice bargain.

Cespedes actually doesn’t lead the A’s in home runs over the last 365 days, though. That honor belongs to Brandon Moss, who has hit 31 bombs in his 489 plate appearances. The A’s signed Moss to a minor league contract at the end of 2011, after the Phillies outrighted him through waivers and every team decided to take a pass. Moss was called up on June 6th of last year and has mashed ever since, posting +3.2 WAR in the process.

We don’t have time to go through all of the rest of the hitters the A’s have cycled through, but it’s just more of the same idea. They spent $1 million on Jonny Gomes last year, then watched him mash as part of a DH platoon with minor league lifer Chris Carter. Carter was used as trade bait this winter to land Jed Lowrie, who has given them quality production while holding down both middle infield spots. At catcher, they’ve gotten quality production from George Kottaras (acquired after Milwaukee DFA’d him), John Jaso (stolen from the Mariners for a couple of lower level prospects), and Derek Norris (the third prospect in the Gio Gonzalez trade). They got Seth Smith from the Rockies for a couple of nothing pitchers and Josh Reddick from the Red Sox for Andrew Bailey.

Basically the A’s entire line-up came from somewhere else. Donaldson is the closest thing they have to a home grown player, but he was drafted by the Cubs and acquired only when he looked like a busted pick. This is an offense of veteran players that the A’s targeted as undervalued by the other 29 MLB teams, and that motley crue leads the majors in runs scored over the last year. While playing in a pitcher’s park.

You can run the same story on the pitching side. The A’s signed 39-year-old Bartolo Colon for $2 million, then re-signed him for $3 million this year, and he’s been one of the better starters in the American League in each of the last two seasons. Tom Milone was the throw-in fourth prospect in the Gio Gonzalez trade, and has been an above average starter since the day he got to Oakland. A.J. Griffin is a home grown player, but he was drafted in the 13th round of the 2010 draft, and he’s wildly outperforming all expectations for him as a prospect. Dan Straily was even more of a longshot, taken in the 24th round in 2009. The only premium arms they’ve relied on are Jarrod Parker (acquired from the Diamondbacks for Trevor Cahill) and Brett Anderson (acquired in the Dan Haren trade), and Anderson has been hurt for most of the last two years.

There’s not a Mark Mulder/Tim Hudson/Barry Zito trio of All-Star hurlers that every team covets here. There’s no Miguel Tejada or Jason Giambi. The 2012-2013 Oakland A’s are an almost complete embodiment of a team building a winner by targeting players who were undervalued by other clubs, beating everyone else with waiver wire pickups and secondary free agents who weren’t that highly regarded by the rest of Major League Baseball.

With a payroll of $50 to $60 million for each year, the A’s have built something of a juggernaut, almost entirely through bargain veteran acquisitions and looting other teams of their fringe prospects and role players. And they’ve run circles around the American League in the process.

This is probably Billy Beane’s best accomplishment. Getting this kind of production out of these players, in an era where nearly every team has an army of nerds looking for undervalued assets… it’s quite a story. And it’s one that probably deserves more attention than it has gotten.

Can they hang on to take the division from a very good Texas team once again? I don’t know. They’re fighting a bunch of really good teams, and they might not end up playing in October. There’s no “past calendar year” championship to celebrate, but that doesn’t mean we can’t recognize it anyway. 168 games playing .643 baseball with a shoestring payroll full of guys other teams didn’t see much value in. Kudos to the A’s front office. They know what they’re doing.

What You Knew and Didn’t Know About the Tigers and Astros.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Part of this is the easy part. The Tigers are good and the Astros are bad, and that much you knew. That much you’ve known for weeks, or months, or years I guess depending on things. The Tigers lost on Wednesday, but they lost because of Jose Valverde and James Shields, and they still have a comfortable lead in the American League Central. I’m writing this before there’s a Wednesday Astros result, but by the time you read this they probably will have lost, because they’re bad. Maybe I’m going to come away looking like an idiot, but win or lose, they’ll be in the AL West basement. The Astros were supposed to be terrible, and they’re ahead only of the Marlins, who’ve recently received a healthy new Giancarlo Stanton.

Now, the Tigers don’t have the best record in baseball. That belongs to the Cardinals, and the Tigers are a good distance behind. They’re also behind a bunch of other teams, and tied with the Orioles. Meanwhile, while the Astros have been dreadful, they do have a better record than those Marlins, and they’re theoretically within striking distance of the Cubs. Neither of these teams looks to be extreme. But by one important metric, the Tigers are on pace to be one of the best teams in a very long time. And the Astros are threatening to be one of the worst.

If you’ve hung around FanGraphs for a decently long time, you know there are better indicators of team quality than win/loss record. There are a bunch of other techniques, but one simple one is just adding up WAR. Sure, there are some issues, but there are way fewer issues than just totaling wins. With that in mind, the Tigers have completed 64 games, and we’ve got them at 26.3 team WAR. The Astros have completed 66 games, and they check in at 1.2 team WAR. The Tigers, thus, are on pace for a WAR of 66.6. The Astros are on pace for a WAR of 2.9. These are the best and worst marks in baseball, of course, and they’re of a certain respective historical significance.

Whenever you say “on pace for,” you know you’re taking a chance. We’re still not to the halfway point of the season, so for any extremes at this point, you should count on regression to the mean. But we’re also well beyond 60 team games played, for everyone. The sample sizes are significant. The Tigers are on pace for a historically great WAR. The Astros are on pace for a historically terrible WAR. We’ll look at them individually.


•WAR: 26.3
•WAR/162 Pace: 66.6
•Rank all time: 3rd-best
Season Team WAR/162
1927 Yankees 71.4
1939 Yankees 67.4
2013 Tigers 66.6
1905 Giants 65.8
1931 Yankees 64.7
1942 Yankees 64.0
1998 Braves 63.6
1969 Orioles 62.9
2001 Mariners 62.7
1902 Pirates 62.3

The Tigers are on pace to win a perfectly reasonable 91 games. That should be enough to get them into the playoffs as Central division champions. But by WAR, they’re on pace to be one of the very greatest teams in baseball history, right up there with the best of the Yankees and eclipsing the 116-win 2001 Mariners with ease. When you watch these Tigers, you might not get the vibe that you’re watching all-time greatness. But by the numbers, that’s what they feature, eschewing the stars-and-scrubs approach in favor of stars-and-more-stars. The position players are carried by the obvious slugger, but the rotation has been unbelievable, in the present context and in the all-time context.

Best players

•Miguel Cabrera (+4.0 WAR)
•Anibal Sanchez (+3.4)
•Justin Verlander (+3.0)
•Max Scherzer (+3.0)
•Doug Fister (+2.7)
Worst players

•Victor Martinez (-1.1 WAR)
•Alex Avila (-0.3)
•Jose Valverde (-0.3)
•Ramon Santiago (-0.3)
•Brayan Villarreal (-0.2)
Why they’ll be an all-time great
The rotation is obscene. Dave wrote about this at the end of May. With Rick Porcello suddenly striking batters out, all five of the starters would be top starters on other teams, and Drew Smyly isn’t bad as insurance. Cabrera, in his prime, is one of the best hitters ever, and Prince Fielder is obviously dangerous, and look at those performances from Avila and Martinez. Avila stands to improve, and so does Martinez, and if they don’t, the Tigers could make roster upgrades as they think about the playoffs. Nick Castellanos appears to have figured out Triple-A, clearing the way for him to figure out the majors, and that’s good young support.

Why they won’t be an all-time great
Sanchez has now missed a start with shoulder problems, and five-man rotations usually don’t hold up over full seasons. More baseballs should start flying over fences with the Tigers in the field, and there’s no quicker way for an ERA to rise. Jhonny Peralta probably isn’t an actual MVP candidate, and we have to think about regression to the mean. The Tigers have been extremely good, and that calls for probable regression. It’s hard to be this good for six months.


•WAR: 1.2
•WAR/162 Pace: 2.9
•Rank all time: 6th-worst
Season Team WAR/162
1979 Athletics -4.6
1963 Mets -1.2
1954 Athletics 1.0
2003 Tigers 1.7
1996 Tigers 2.2
2013 Astros 2.9
1977 Braves 3.3
1974 Padres 3.6
1939 Phillies 3.8
1928 Phillies 4.7

With the Tigers, when you watch them, you might not feel like you’re watching one of the best teams ever. With the Astros, when you watch them, you probably do feel like you’re watching one of the worst teams ever. Fundamentally, they’ve been awful, and in terms of performance metrics, they’ve also been awful, even though the team still has a better record than the Marlins. The Marlins have played without a healthy Stanton and without a healthy Logan Morrison. They also have some potential minor-league reinforcements. The Astros could easily finish with the worst record in baseball, and here it’s shown they’re on pace to best the 2003 Tigers by only 1.2 WAR. Those were the Tigers that lost 119 games. That Tigers team also had Carlos Pena on it. Interestingly, the 2003 Tigers additionally had Omar Infante, who’s a part of the present-day awesome Tigers. Anyhow, the Astros are on pace for the sixth-worst WAR ever, and they could conceivably end up the worst team since 1979. I ran this analysis back to 1900.

Best players

•Jason Castro (+1.4 WAR)
•Bud Norris (+1.4)
•Brandon Barnes (+1.1)
•Carlos Corporan (+1.0)
•Jose Altuve (+0.9)
Worst players

•Robbie Grossman (-0.7 WAR)
•Paul Clemens (-0.7)
•Jimmy Paredes (-0.7)
•Fernando Martinez (-0.6)
•Brad Peacock (-0.6)
•Travis Blackley (-0.6)
Why they’ll be an all-time disaster
The pitching is very bad, and though Jarred Cosart is a quality prospect, he’s not fantastic and he’s not quite ready. Look up there at the list of the best players. Norris is a fine starting pitcher, but he could easily get dealt within the next few weeks, creating an opening likely to be filled by an inferior arm. There’s not a single standout among the position players, and Carlos Pena, also, could get moved. As much as the Astros have a developing farm system, they don’t yet have much that’s right on the verge. This was a team put together because the Astros had to put together a team. It wasn’t put together with a dream. It was put together out of necessity.

Why they won’t be an all-time disaster
Regression to the mean, again, because the Astros are on pace for less WAR than Matt Harvey has now. Justin Maxwell is due back from injury, and George Springer has been making a mockery of Double-A and might get the call. According to our projected standings, the Astros are projected for a .421 win% the rest of the way, which is basically a 67-95 pace. That’s bad, but teams finish with records like that every season, and that suggests a coming WAR climb. Remember that positive extremes are usually talent + unsustainability, while negative extremes are usually poor talent + unsustainability. The Astros might shed Norris, but they can’t shed much else.

The Astros have a realistic chance to finish with a worse WAR than the 2003 Tigers, but to do so they’ll essentially need to play at replacement level over the rest of the season. Only 48 teams ever have finished with a WAR under 10, and for the Astros getting out of that group could be a stretch. Meanwhile, the Tigers have a realistic chance to finish with the best team WAR since 1939. They’re on pace to beat the 2001 Mariners and the 1998 Braves, and numbers-wise a lot of this seems alarmingly sustainable. The Astros, probably, will improve, and the Tigers, probably, will get worse, but it’s the middle of June and we can talk about these extremes. That’s how extreme these teams have been.

R.A. Dickey Talks About His Health.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Before R.A. Dickey struck out five Giants over 8.1 innings of scoreless ball in early June, we sat down for a brief second to talk about his health, his knuckler, his new situation, and what he’s learned this year.

Eno Sarris: The last time we talked a while back, you were having a great season that had something to do with your fast knuckleball. You were throwing those more than ever, and hitting top speeds with them. I took a look recently and it looks like you’re throwing them a little slower this year. Does that have something to do with your back?

R.A. Dickey: I would think so. I started the year not healthy and that’s contributed to me not being able to step on the gas a little bit more. Recently, over the last week and a half, I’ve felt better than I have all year.

Sarris: What exactly is wrong?

Dickey: I’ve had an upper back issue, whenever I extend, it would bite me pretty good. I’ve had to back it down.

Sarris: That’s interesting, because you played through a torn plantar…

Dickey: And I had a hernia, and then against the Royals early on this year I did this thing to my back, and the WBC was this year.

Sarris: But this has been worse.

Dickey: This is worse because it affects the way I throw. Mechanically, I’m having to alter things to try to avoid the pain of it and still make my starts.

Sarris: Why don’t you just take 15?

Dickey: Because I can still muster through six or seven innings. Even though I haven’t had my best knuckleball, I still have seven or eight quality starts. So I can still give something. Just a matter of not being as dominant as I was because I’m missing a weapon or two. It’s feeling better, though, this last week.

Sarris: How does this relate to, you called it 75% effort vs when you were a conventional thrower… Did this remind you of your age? The thing about knuckleballers is “oh, they can pitch forever.”

Dickey: I don’t know if it reminds me of my age, as I look to my left and right, I see far younger players on the DL for far lesser things.

Sarris: Touche.

Dickey: So it’s hard or me to equate this with just my age. What’s much more important to me is to take the ball every fifth inning and be counted on for 200 innings. You have to be able to take the ball when you’re not feeling great. The guys that can’t really pitch unless they are 100% that don’t ever get to those milestones. Do I feel old? Not really. Am I old?

Sarris: Sorry about that.

Dickey: No that’s okay, that’s a completely valid question. But the answer is that I don’t think it’s a contributing factor right now.

Sarris: I guess what I meant is, did it make you feel more like a conventional pitcher again?

Dickey: No, because if I was a conventional pitcher, with this injury, I’d be out. There would be no way. I couldn’t pitch. In fact, in Texas I had a similar injury to my rhomboid in 2004 and I was out for more than a month.

Sarris: There you go.

Dickey: Tangible proof.

Sarris: So you’re still adding value.

Dickey: Exactly.

Sarris: Has it made you think about offseason regimens?

Dickey: It makes me think about the WBC a little bit. I was in the World Baseball Classic and having to ramp up everything a little early might have, you know… but as far as my offseason workouts, I felt really good going into spring training and it just got interrupted for about a month for WBC stuff.

Sarris: No matter what, it means your season is a lot longer.

Dickey: Yeah, and another thing too, this is equivalent, for me, to 2011, when we had such a cold start to the season. The weather has been horrible. Real cold, not much humidity. I like humid, warm, and it’s been pretty cold.

Sarris: So what about the dome? We were all trying to figure out what you might do in the dome.

Dickey: I don’t have a big enough sample size. The dome is like… against the White Sox? I gave up two hits in six innings, and struck out seven.

Sarris: What about the idea that you’re sending it out there with a half- or quarter-turn and you’re waiting for the wind, or natural effects, to push it one direction or another? Isn’t there less wind in the dome?

Dickey: There’s still a current moving, it’s not like a vacuum. It’s like in Tampa Bay or Toronto, it’s the same, they still have to pump air conditioner or heat and you’re getting some circulation, and it’s a lot more manageable, because it’s always consistent. You’re not going to get 20mph wind gusts.

Sarris: What about today?

Dickey: Oh it’s alright, I’ve actually pitched well here usually.

Sarris: Nice to talk to you again.

Dickey: Likewise.

Picking the All-Stars: NL Edition.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The All-Star Game isn’t for another 35 days, but with the voting in full swing and enough of the season under our belts, I figure it’s time to weigh in on how I’d fill out the roster if I were Grand Poobah and had the final say on all 34 players. I will note up front that I believe the All-Star Game is an annual affair, and we shouldn’t simply have the same collection of players every year just because those are the “true stars”. The All-Star Game is best when it serves as both a platform for the game’s greatest players and recognition for those who have earned their way in. I will not be putting players on the roster who have not performed well in 2013, even if they are bonafide stars.

As a reminder, the rosters now comprise 34 players, which I’ll be splitting as 21 position players and 13 pitchers, as that has been the final tally for the game most of the last few years. And, yes, we’re honoring the rule requiring every team to be represented. I’ll list each player by the tier of how they got selected, then put the final roster down below. On to the picks.

The Game Would Be A Farce Without Them

These players are the epitome of All-Stars; great players having great seasons. I imagine there will be little disagreement about any of these 14 selections. It’s hard to imagine a reasonable case for excluding any of these players, assuming they stay healthy for the next few weeks anyway.

Troy Tulowitzki, COL, SS: +4.0 WAR
Joey Votto, CIN, 1B: +3.0 WAR
Carlos Gonzalez, COL, OF: +3.0 WAR
Yadier Molina, STL, C: +2.6 WAR
Andrew McCutchen, PIT, OF: +2.5 WAR
David Wright, NYM, 3B: +2.5 WAR
Buster Posey, SFG, C: +2.1 WAR
Brandon Phillips, CIN, 2B: +2.0 WAR
Ryan Braun, MIL, OF: +1.8 WAR

Adam Wainwright, STL, SP: +3.8 WAR
Cliff Lee, PHI, SP: +2.8 WAR
Clayton Kershaw, LAD, SP: +2.8 WAR
Jordan Zimmermann, WAS, SP: +2.2 WAR
Craig Kimbrel, ATL, RP: +0.6 WAR

They’ve Earned It

You wouldn’t have necessarily pegged these guys as All-Stars headed into the season, but their 2013 performance has been so stellar that they have to be there. You might have a different line for how great a performance needs to be to overcome a lack of a track record, but these nine players should clear most people’s bar and get in based on their performance to date.

Carlos Gomez, MIL, OF: +3.9 WAR
Matt Carpenter, STL, 2B/3B: +3.4 WAR
Everth Cabrera, SD, SS: +3.2 WAR
Jean Segura, MIL, SS: +2.9 WAR
Paul Goldschmidt, ARI, 1B: +2.8 WAR
Dexter Fowler, COL, OF: +2.5 WAR
Shin-Soo Choo, CIN, OF: +2.2 WAR

Matt Harvey, NYM, SP: +3.0 WAR
Shelby Miller, STL, SP: +2.3 WAR

The Team Representative

These guys are mostly worthy candidates anyway, but they are also the best choice to represent the two franchises that did not have a player listed above.

Jeff Samardzija, CHC, SP: +2.0 WAR
Jose Fernandez, MIA, SP: +1.0 WAR

The Reserves

With 16 hitters and nine pitchers already on the roster, that leaves us nine spots to fill, so it’s time to start looking at where the holes are. We’ve already covered most of the spots on the field with the position players above, but because of the DH, we probably need to take an extra bat oriented player and then fill out the roster with deserving players. Here are the nine guys who both fit the All-Star criteria and fill the current openings.

Russell Martin, PIT, C: +2.0 WAR
Marco Scutaro, SFG, 2B: +2.0 WAR
Evan Gattis, ATL, C/OF: +1.9 WAR
Jedd Gyorko, SD, 2B/3B: +1.8 WAR
Bryce Harper, WAS, OF: +1.7 WAR

Pat Corbin, ARI, SP: +1.9 WAR
Jason Grilli, PIT, RP: +1.7 WAR
Mark Melancon, PIT, RP: +1.0 WAR
Aroldis Chapman, CIN, RP: +0.8 WAR

The Final Roster

That leaves us with these 34 players. The starters are listed first and are in bold, with the reserves afterwards. Because I know it’s going to come up, Carpenter is listed as the backup third baseman to Wright because there are no other viable All-Star third baseman in the NL this year, and so I took extra second baseman and shifted Carpenter back to third. While he probably has earned a starting spot based on his play, there’s no shame in backing up Wright, and if he started at second base, he’d have to play the whole game. So, Phillips gets the start at second and Carpenter is Wright’s reserve.

Name Team Position PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
Yadier Molina Cardinals C 246 0.351 0.390 0.487 0.378 145 1.1 -1.3 2.6
Buster Posey Giants C 240 0.297 0.375 0.493 0.371 142 -1.6 -0.6 2.1
Russell Martin Pirates C 198 0.251 0.338 0.434 0.340 119 4.4 0.4 2.0
Joey Votto Reds 1B 298 0.328 0.446 0.520 0.413 165 0.8 1.7 3.0
Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks 1B 276 0.313 0.389 0.571 0.407 157 3.6 1.1 2.8
Brandon Phillips Reds 2B 265 0.292 0.345 0.475 0.350 121 3.9 -0.2 2.0
Marco Scutaro Giants 2B 258 0.332 0.388 0.444 0.365 137 -1.1 0.3 2.0
Jedd Gyorko Padres 2B 255 0.284 0.341 0.461 0.347 128 -0.8 0.6 1.8
Troy Tulowitzki Rockies SS 245 0.353 0.420 0.651 0.450 179 6.2 -1.1 4.0
Everth Cabrera Padres SS 301 0.294 0.369 0.412 0.346 127 3.5 5.0 3.2
Jean Segura Brewers SS 268 0.340 0.373 0.538 0.390 150 -1.2 2.6 2.9
David Wright Mets 3B 253 0.275 0.372 0.459 0.362 134 -0.1 5.1 2.5
Matt Carpenter Cardinals 3B 281 0.327 0.409 0.473 0.386 150 5.7 0.8 3.4
Carlos Gomez Brewers OF 252 0.316 0.357 0.573 0.393 152 11.6 1.7 3.9
Carlos Gonzalez Rockies OF 281 0.300 0.377 0.615 0.418 157 1.0 2.9 3.0
Andrew McCutchen Pirates OF 259 0.290 0.359 0.455 0.350 125 5.2 2.3 2.5
Dexter Fowler Rockies OF 271 0.303 0.397 0.498 0.389 137 -0.4 3.6 2.5
Shin-Soo Choo Reds OF 300 0.280 0.430 0.483 0.400 155 -9.1 1.0 2.2
Ryan Braun Brewers OF 242 0.304 0.380 0.509 0.376 140 0.6 0.2 1.8
Bryce Harper Nationals OF 178 0.287 0.386 0.587 0.411 165 -0.2 -0.3 1.7
Evan Gattis Braves DH 175 0.263 0.326 0.603 0.386 148 1.7 0.3 1.9
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Name Team Position IP BB% K% HR/9 ERA- FIP- xFIP- WAR RA9WAR
Clayton Kershaw Dodgers SP 100.1 7% 25% 0.45 51 71 83 2.6 3.6
Adam Wainwright Cardinals SP 96.0 2% 24% 0.19 63 46 65 3.8 3.1
Matt Harvey Mets SP 90.0 6% 28% 0.40 57 58 74 3.0 3.4
Cliff Lee Phillies SP 95.1 4% 22% 0.47 66 65 85 2.8 2.7
Shelby Miller Cardinals SP 75.1 6% 28% 0.48 51 63 81 2.3 2.8
Jordan Zimmermann Nationals SP 94.2 4% 17% 0.57 52 80 91 2.2 3.5
Jeff Samardzija Cubs SP 85.0 8% 28% 0.85 80 77 78 2.0 1.6
Pat Corbin Diamondbacks SP 81.2 7% 20% 0.44 49 76 99 1.9 3.4
Jose Fernandez Marlins SP 65.1 9% 25% 0.83 82 89 90 1.0 1.2
Jason Grilli Pirates RP 27.2 6% 44% 0.00 26 12 44 1.7 1.5
Mark Melancon Pirates RP 31.1 3% 27% 0.29 31 47 50 1.0 1.6
Aroldis Chapman Reds RP 28.0 11% 42% 0.96 57 61 62 0.8 1.0
Craig Kimbrel Braves RP 24.1 6% 35% 1.11 48 74 58 0.6 1.1

And, finally, the starting line-up.

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF
2. Joey Votto, 1B
3. David Wright, 3B
4. Troy Tulowitzki, SS
5. Carlos Gonzalez, LF
6. Bryce Harper, DH
7. Carlos Gomez, RF
8. Yadier Molina, C
9. Brandon Phillips, 2B

Based on both career track record and 2013 performance, this is how I’d fill out the NL All-Star roster. There are a lot of great players who didn’t make the cut, and there are certainly judgment calls here that could have gone another direction, but overall, I think this is a pretty good set of players who would represent the National League quite well.

The Near Future of Wil Myers.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Wil Myers was the prize in the James Shields-Wade Davis trade. Ranked 10th overall in 2011, 28th in 2012, and 4th in 2013 by Baseball America, Myers has been a top prospect for a long time, and a huge 2012 with 37 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A solidified Myers’ place among the very best prospects. When this season began, Myers, however, found himself back in Triple-A a few months removed from having hit .304/.378/.554 in the Pacific Coast League the past season.

Talent probably wasn’t the reason. Myers has shown the statistical production one would expect from a top prospect, and I headed to the park this past weekend to see if the scouting report matched the spreadsheet. The first thing you notice about Myers is his frame – six-feet-three-inches of lean muscle. He looks good in a uniform, and he stands out among his peers.

The next thing to look at was his offense. Myers stands very upright at the plate, almost to the point of looking stiff. There’s not much pre-delivery movement, either. As the pitcher delivers the ball, Myers loads his hands deep and uses excellent bat speed to bring the barrel to the ball. And that barrel packs a wallop. Facing Armando Galarraga – which well Armando Galarraga – Myers went deep twice. The first was a shot that Myers backspun to dead-center, and considering center field is 405 feet deep to that part of Louisville Slugger Field, the home run probably went 430 feet. Myers’ second home run, however, was more impressive – line shot that never went higher than 20-25 feet off the ground. His power is very real, and the projection of him hitting 30+ home runs seems very real.

I do wonder about just how much contact he will make, though. The load is pretty deep, and against better velocity, Myers didn’t make the same contact that he did against the 89 mph fastballs Galarraga threw his way. His Double-A and Triple-A strikeout rates over 20% suggest this will probably be a problem in the majors. Because of the bat speed he can generate, Myers will still hit at the major-league level, but the batting average might be in the .250-.260 range. The secondary skills – walk rates over 10% at each level and the power – should make up for the lower batting average, and given the force with which Myers hits the ball, he might sustain a high enough BABiP to beat my projected BA for him.

Myers will also add to his value on defense. Playing right field, Myers has outstanding range for a corner outfielder, running down a couple balls in the gap, but his arm isn’t what I expected. He had a few opportunities to let loose, but there was a little more hump in the throw than I would necessarily want from a right fielder. His range will make him an asset in a corner, and if the arm is better than what he showed, he could be a real weapon out there.

As I said a little earlier, Myers’ talent isn’t the reason he was optioned to Durham. Beyond the usual suspicions of service-time manipulation, the Rays simply have a very good outfield. Desmond Jennings, Kelly Johnson, Matt Joyce, and Sam Fuld have spent the most innings in the outfield for the Rays with the occasional appearance by Ben Zobrist. Zobrist is an All-Star caliber player, and if they need him in the outfield, he will play out there. Joyce is hitting .253/.332/.472 and is a solid 2-3 win player in a corner. Jennings is a center fielder, and Myers probably shouldn’t play out there over him. But the real surprise has been Johnson, who is hitting .260/.322/.481 and has had a few solid seasons in his career. Considering the Rays aren’t likely to have Myers DH, there’s not really a place currently available for Myers to play every day, especially as the other outfield options are solid on defense as well.

Myers may have to continue to wait his turn, even as he continues to rake again as one of the youngest players in the International League. It’s a good problem for the Rays, but it does mean Myers is somewhat blocked for the moment, even if he has nothing left to learn in Triple-A.

Others of Note

Tim Beckham, the former first overall pick, looks in outstanding shape. Lean and muscular, Beckham looks the part of a middle infielder, and he has the speed to play the up-the-middle positions – I got a few 4.0s from his down the line. The swing looked solid as well – quick through the zone – but there doesn’t look to be much power production in it as it is a flat swing. Defensively, Beckham didn’t play particularly well with some iffy reactions and movements – including booting a ball slightly to his left – with a solid arm that might be a bit light for shortstop. There’s major-league value here, but it’s not likely to be at short or of the impact variety.

I’ll also give a brief follow-up on Billy Hamilton. The speed and defense are obviously still there, but the swing might be coming around a bit as well. As my main point of criticism for Hamilton, I’ve been paying attention to his left-handed swing over several games this season, and it has improved. The swing is more direct to the ball and incorporates his lower body better. I’m not going to say, “He’s fixed! Bring him up!”, but he’s made better contact the last few times I’ve seen him.

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Thread Starter 
An Inning with Gerrit Cole’s Command.

The nation will remember Stephen Strasburg‘s major-league debut. Strasburg started his first game on June 8, 2010. That’s not the part people will remember. People will remember the overwhelming dominance, the standing ovations, the 14 strikeouts in seven innings with not one single walk. Gerrit Cole, as Strasburg was, is a top flame-throwing pitching prospect, and Cole just made his own major-league debut in the month of June. Cole’s not as hyped, and his outing didn’t match up to Strasburg’s, in terms of baseball-y sex appeal. But Cole needed just 81 pitches to pitch to 27 batters, and the Giants had only one run on the board when Cole walked off the mound to an ovation of his own. With the lofty expectations placed on top prospects, it’s easy for them to disappoint, but one start in, Gerrit Cole hasn’t disappointed.

I thought we might take a quick look at Cole’s Tuesday night command. Or, at his command over a selection of pitches, like I’ve done with Mariano Rivera and with Carlos Marmol in the past. This isn’t for any diagnostic purposes; this is just for fun, and so we can look at Cole in a way that maybe you didn’t, yesterday, if you were watching. As a prospect, Cole had a few question marks, those being his command and his secondary stuff behind the impressive heater. In Triple-A he threw 63% strikes, pretty much right on the league average. Tuesday, he threw 59 strikes out of 81 pitches, with 19 first-pitch strikes to 27 batters. In that regard it was a surprising outing. In that Cole was effective, it was not.

As Cole was a power guy with occasional command problems, one might’ve expected both strikeouts and walks and a bit of inefficiency. He was impressively economical, with not one walk and only two strikeouts. Granted, you’d prefer more than two strikeouts, given what we know about pitching, but Cole did miss eight bats, and the strikeouts themselves were remarkable. We see good hitters going down against big heat and big break:


Cole might’ve just been searching for efficiency in his first-ever go. Nearly eight of ten pitches were fastballs. All but one first pitch were fastballs, with a lonely slider being the one exception. Cole kept himself in and around the zone, and he didn’t give the Giants much of an opportunity to get his pitch count up. Maybe he tired by the end, or maybe he didn’t, but Cole had a good outing and a different sort of outing from what one could’ve assumed.

I’ve decided to look closely at Cole’s fifth inning, in which he threw ten pitches to three batters. There wasn’t a specific reason to choose the fifth, but ten seems like a good number, and by the top of the fifth Cole should’ve been settled in, leaving behind any possible early-inning jitters. Also, Cole shouldn’t yet have become fatigued. What you’re going to see are ten screenshots, with pitch location, and with the red dot designating intended pitch location as determined by the location of Russell Martin‘s glove. As usual, we can’t say for sure that Martin was setting a target, but we can assume as much. Cole didn’t pitch with any runners on in the fifth so Martin wouldn’t have been trying to trick anybody.

Once more, there’s the necessary caveat that this might not be representative of Gerrit Cole. It’s one inning in one game, and we don’t know what Cole is usually like, and we don’t know what the average pitcher is usually like. This is just the third such experiment, and I’m not going to determine anything based on the below, but exploration can be fun for exploration’s sake. Gerrit Cole’s top of the fifth from his major-league debut against the Giants on June 11:


Fastball, bit of a miss. Instead of throwing at the thigh on the inside edge, Cole threw at the belt over the middle. On the other hand, he was facing Tim Lincecum. And Cole has the kind of fastball where he can get away with some mistakes.


Fastball, bit of a miss again but better. Cole threw over the middle of the plate, but this time it was at the knees, which is a better place to miss. And, again, Lincecum. Lincecum sucks, at this.


Fastball, pretty good. Cole didn’t retire Lincecum on three pitches, as this was taken for a ball, but it was the right kind of ball and Cole’s pitch had the right idea. It missed just a little too inside.


Slider, miss. It didn’t miss the zone by much, as Cole nearly froze Lincecum on the back door, but that wasn’t the intent and the pitch seemed to slip just a little out of Cole’s hand. That’s missing location by about a plate width.


Fastball, not bad. Again, it’s a miss — Cole was looking to throw low and in, and instead he threw low and away. But he missed in a perfect spot, where the pitch might’ve been called a strike, but also where Lincecum couldn’t have done anything with it. This turned into a harmless grounder. On Gameday, you’d think, “hey, great pitch.” It was a great pitch. It just wasn’t the planned great pitch, which is different.


Fastball, basically perfect. It was taken for a borderline ball, but Cole really couldn’t have thrown this pitch better. That’s 96 miles per hour on the hands.


Fastball, good. Cole had to throw a strike, behind in the count, but he threw a quality strike over the outer half. Terrific execution.


Slider, acceptable. Ideally, Cole would’ve caught the corner, and he only barely missed it, but this wound up an easy first-pitch ball. It’s a good place to miss with a slider against a right-handed hitter, even if that hitter is the unstrikeoutable Marco Scutaro.


Fastball, perfect, lol good luck


Slider, bit of a miss. Instead of an outside slider, this was an inside slider, but it was at the right elevation and it was on the edge. If you can’t pitch to the intended edge, you could do worse than pitching to the opposite one, since edges are edges. This pitch was more pullable, and indeed it was pulled, but it was pulled for an out.

There are ten Gerrit Cole pitches to the Giants, five of them to a pitcher. The three sliders missed, but they didn’t miss miserably. The fastballs to the non-pitcher were just about perfect, which might’ve been a coincidence, or which might’ve been evidence of Cole bearing down against more threatening bats. Cole doesn’t have to worry so much about command against Tim Lincecum, not that that excuses missed locations. I wonder if location is different against pitchers and non-pitchers. That is, I wonder if the pitchers on the mound kind of let up. I don’t know and that’s not what we’re dealing with here!

I told you before we weren’t going to determine anything based on these ten pitches. Marc Hulet wrote before the year that Cole’s control was ahead of his command. Cole’s control was good Tuesday night, as evidenced by all the strikes. His command wasn’t perfect, but nobody’s is, and Cole’s stuff comes with a built-in margin of error. It’s going to be interesting to see how Cole proceeds — whether he keeps pounding the zone, or whether he pitches around it and generates more strikeouts. With the strikeouts would come the walks, but with the walks would come the strikeouts. By results, Tuesday isn’t what I expected of Gerrit Cole. I’ll be eager to see if this keeps up, and I’m ecstatic that I’m going to have a chance to find out.

post #12676 of 73394

Nats can't even hit well in Colorado ....pathetic tired.gif

post #12677 of 73394
post #12678 of 73394
Balkin' Bob Davidson mean.giflaugh.gif this guy is too much, made the right call but it was a petty one
post #12679 of 73394
Mitch Williams on TV right now accusing David Robertson of throwing a spit ball lol
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Enjoyed a game at Coors Field today pimp.gif
post #12681 of 73394
Can't say enough about Adam Wainwright. Boy, was I wrong about the extension.

Gotta be the NL Cy Young favorite.
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Reds bullpen. mean.gif
post #12683 of 73394
Tulo broke a rib. Why can't that dude stay healthy? SMH
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Thread Starter 
I try not to be a typical Yankee fan that hates on the Mets all the time...but Jesus Christ, that team needs a overhaul from top to bottom. I actually would like to see them move in the right direction and succeed.
post #12685 of 73394
Originally Posted by Jewbacca View Post

Tulo broke a rib. Why can't that dude stay healthy? SMH

Any word on Gonzales? He got struck by the ball while on deck
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Originally Posted by JumpmanFromDaBay View Post

Originally Posted by Jewbacca View Post

Tulo broke a rib. Why can't that dude stay healthy? SMH

Any word on Gonzales? He got struck by the ball while on deck

They're calling it a contusion right now.  Fowler also had to leave the game after taking a pitch off his hand and they've diagnosed that as just a bruise.


Bad day for Colorado.

post #12687 of 73394

A lot of the batting practice jerseys are $50. I bought the Astros one earlier.
TEAM CHEESEHEADS ..... HoustonRockets
Jordy Nelson: Best WR in the game .................................. The Roc Boys in the building tonight
TEAM CHEESEHEADS ..... HoustonRockets
Jordy Nelson: Best WR in the game .................................. The Roc Boys in the building tonight
post #12688 of 73394
Masterson and Gio were in a straight up duel earlier pimp.gif that was awesome
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Yep...just wish he got some run support...
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laugh.gif you know that's too much to ask for. He's lucky that Masterson threw that wild pitch or we would've gotten shut out.
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