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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 273

post #8161 of 73000
Two poor innings to start for Kuroda.
post #8162 of 73000
O's with a tough loss yesterday.....bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth with 1 out. mean.gif Reynolds should have scored from first with Thome's double, tough ground rule double with that short right field fence in right.

Big double header both of these against Toronto and can get to a .5 game back of NY.

I would much rather win the division than win a wild card spot and some lousy one-game playoff special.
Straight Cash Homey
Straight Cash Homey
post #8163 of 73000
i'm not ready for the season to end. as a rangers fan, i'm wondering against who and when will the wheels come off this year.

three game seri against the A's coming up, i don't feel that warm and fuzzy anymore.
"what ch'all know 'bout dem Texas boys!?!"
"what ch'all know 'bout dem Texas boys!?!"
post #8164 of 73000
Originally Posted by 03silverbullet View Post

i'm not ready for the season to end. as a rangers fan, i'm wondering against who and when will the wheels come off this year.
three game seri against the A's coming up, i don't feel that warm and fuzzy anymore.

I'm not sure why you are worried? The Rangers look fine and I don't think anyone in the AL wants to face them.
Straight Cash Homey
Straight Cash Homey
post #8165 of 73000
Thread Starter 
Reds' offense could be an issue.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
After finishing third in the National League Central a year ago, the Cincinnati Reds are the division champions in 2012 and are poised to make a run at the National League pennant.

Unlike the 2010 division-winning Reds, this Cincinnati team has built its record using a different formula. The 2010 team finished 91-71, driven mostly by a prolific offense and run prevention that rated better than league average. The 2012 version has been the exact opposite: elite run prevention combined with a roughly league-average offense.

The run prevention is a product of management spending the offseason improving what was a lackluster pitching staff. Meanwhile, outside of signing Ryan Ludwick, Cincinnati didn't do much to improve its offense. To be fair, the Reds did rank second in the NL in runs last season. But as we've seen this season, an offense tied too much to one player can hit lulls, and the Reds have to wonder if that will cost them in the postseason.

To improve its pitching staff, Cincinnati sent Edinson Volquez and a number of prospects (some prominent) to the San Diego Padres last winter in return for then-23-year-old Mat Latos.The Reds also addressed the bullpen by signing former Philadelphia Phillies closer Ryan Madson and trading for the Cubs' Sean Marshall. Despite losing Madson for the season to a torn elbow ligament, the net result of these moves -- combined with the Reds' fielding strength -- has been the third-ranked league- and park-adjusted ERA in baseball.

The Reds extended their two best position players in first baseman Joey Votto and second baseman Brandon Phillips, but other than adding the aforementioned Ludwick, the offense remained mostly the same. And unfortunately, the offense simply hasn't been there this year, ranking ninth in the NL in runs.

As a team, the Reds are generating a shade fewer than 4.3 runs per game, fewer than the 4.5 runs produced last season and more than half a run fewer than their 2010 output. Given that the team plays in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball, the lack of run generation is even more concerning. Using FanGraphs' weighted runs created plus (wRC+) -- an overall offensive metric that adjusts for league and home park -- the Reds' offense has been 5 percent worse than league average this year.

For one thing, the team generally doesn't do a good job of getting on base. The Reds currently rank 10th in OBP in the National League. Out of the six teams currently in the mix for playoff spots in the NL, the Reds rank fifth in OBP. To put these numbers in perspective, Votto has an OBP of .472 in 426 plate appearances this year, but no other Red with more than 200 plate appearances has an OBP better than .350.

While there are definitely holes in Cincinnati's lineup, the Reds have not helped matters based on the order they have gone with for most of the season. Zack Cozart and Drew Stubbs manned the first and second spots in the lineup more than 50 percent of the time -- and 64 percent of the time from April 18 to Sept. 3 -- despite the fact that neither has been remotely serviceable in terms of getting on base. Both players sport an OBP of .284 -- tied for fourth-worst in all of baseball among hitters who have qualified for the batting title. No other team in baseball has featured a worse combination of 1- and 2-hole hitters.

This decision hasn't helped the Reds' run scoring. Just take a look at Votto. According to data from Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs, Votto currently ranks 26th among No. 3 hitters in the league this year in percentage of plate appearances with runners on base at 43.5 percent -- the worst for any National League playoff contender. Given that Votto is one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball, getting him to the plate with runners on base should be a priority.

In 2012, Votto has a wRC+ of 161 with the bases empty, compared to 204 with men on base and 226 with men in scoring position (best in the league). Part of that is due to Votto's walking more with runners on, but in at-bats in which he puts the ball in play, his isolated power is significantly higher with runners on (.331) than when the bases are empty (.180). Bottom line: For the Reds to make a run in October, they need to get runners on ahead of their most dangerous hitter. So far this season, they haven't done that.

To be fair, lineup construction has a limited impact on run scoring over the course of a full season. However, in the playoffs, giving your best hitters as many opportunities with runners on base is key. That's hard to do if the likes of Cozart and Stubbs are asked to get on base when facing quality pitching every day in October. Since Sept. 5, Phillips has manned the leadoff spot because of a strained oblique that has sidelined Cozart. Phillips could be an upgrade (a lifetime .327 OBP as a leadoff hitter), but so far this year, he's managed only a .244 OBP in the leadoff spot.

The Reds don't have a lot of options for improving their offense at this point in the season. However, one thing they do have control of is who bats where. In order to maximize their chances of scoring in the playoffs, the Reds may want to consider a shake-up at the top of the lineup. They need to try something, or else their entire postseason hopes could depend solely on the success of their pitching staff.

The fuel for Baltimore's success.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Buck Showalter will make his way around the field during batting practice before games, and while he'll talk to a lot of players along the way, his primary mission, he says, is to get a read on how his relievers are feeling, how their arms are feeling. He spends more time on bullpen management, he believes, than on any other element of his job.

Showalter has learned so much in these conversations through the years, pieces of information that he holds on to as managerial keepsakes. Like when Steve Farr and Steve Howe explained to him how difficult it is for a reliever to generate adrenaline by the third time he gets up in the bullpen during the game, and the toll it takes on a reliever to throw a lot of pitches warming up repeatedly.

The Baltimore Orioles are in contention in late September for the first time in 15 years, and a primary reason is how Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair have run their bullpen through a season of extraordinary stress. If Showalter wins American League Manager of the Year, this should be why.

Because of injury and performance, the Orioles' rotation has been in a state of flux the entire season. This is not the Baltimore of Palmer, Cuellar, McNally and Dobson: Only one pitcher has made more than 20 starts this season.

As a result, the Orioles' bullpen has been asked to carry an enormous burden. Only three teams have generated more relief innings than Baltimore -- Colorado, which skewed its bullpen numbers when it went to a four-man rotation; and the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals, teams that have had horrific seasons from their respective rotations.

The Orioles' bullpen has amassed 517 innings this year, or about 100 innings more than the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers or Detroit Tigers.

Yet the Orioles' bullpen has been incredibly effective, partly because Showalter and Adair have been remarkably efficient in getting regular rest for their relievers in spite of the heavy overall use. Baltimore, for example, had used its relievers on back-to-back days among the fewest times in the American League this year going into this weekend's series.

The most situations using relievers on consecutive days, according to the research of Katie Sharp of ESPN Stats & Information:

1. Tampa Bay Rays, 115
2. Yankees, 109
3. Royals, 102
4. Chicago White Sox, 101
5. Tigers, 96
6. Cleveland Indians, 87
7. Boston Red Sox, 84
7. Seattle Mariners, 84
9. Los Angeles Angels, 83
10. Orioles, 82
11. Rangers, 81
12. Twins, 78
13. Oakland Athletics, 73
14. Toronto Blue Jays, 72

Adair and Showalter monitor the number of times relievers get up in the bullpen and how many pitches they throw in that time. Showalter tries not to use a reliever the day after he's warmed up twice in the bullpen in the same game.

Showalter also works to minimize the number of times he gets a reliever up in the bullpen, doing so only in specific situations in which he envisions using the reliever -- rather than simply creating some comfort for himself by maximizing his options and getting two relievers up constantly.

Showalter says he learned about running a bullpen from talking with players about what worked best for them, about how they felt they had the best chance to be effective.

"Like Steve Farr and Steve Howe told me -- when the bullpen phone rings, there's an adrenaline flow," he recalled. "If you don't go into the game after warming up the first time, you can probably get that adrenaline back one more time. But you can't a third time."

Showalter liked to watch how Tony La Russa used his bullpen, in minimizing the number of times a pitcher would throw in the bullpen during the course of a game and a season.

Jim Johnson, the Orioles reliever who is approaching 50 saves this season, said over the phone the other day, "Every bullet matters. You only get so many in your career, and only so many in your season.

"He'll talk to guys during batting practice, and he'll get a feel for how ready they are. And he'll do that without asking them a direct question" about whether they can take the ball that day.

Managers in the game today routinely ask two relievers to get up at a time without having a definite sense of how and when they'll be employed, and there have been cases around baseball this year of relievers being asked to warm up during a single game a half-dozen times.

If you ever want to get a true sense of how a manager controls his own anxiety level, watch the way he uses his bullpen.

It's pretty clear that Showalter and Adair have been extremely disciplined in how and when they have used their relievers, and it has translated directly into performance in the Baltimore bullpen.

From ESPN Stats & Info: How the Orioles' bullpen has pitched this season by number of days between appearances.

0 days: 82 appearances, 2.10 ERA, .224 opp. BA
1 day: 117 appearances, 2.56 ERA, .235 opp. BA
2 days: 106 appearances, 2.34 ERA, .210 opp. BA

For the sake of comparison, how those Baltimore bullpen numbers compare to the MLB average:

0 days: 3.54 ERA, .243 opp. BA
1 day: 3.78 ERA, .249 opp. BA
2 days: 3.43 ERA, .237 opp. BA

"You've got to put yourself in their shoes," Showalter said of his relievers, "and think about what puts them in the best position to succeed."

The Orioles' bullpen won in extra innings again on Saturday. From Elias Sports Bureau:

A) The Orioles have won 16 straight extra-inning games, the second-longest single-season streak in MLB history behind the 1949 Indians (17 straight).
B) The Orioles' 16 wins in extra innings are the most for a team in a single season since the Braves won 17 in 1999.
C) The Orioles have 11 road extra-inning wins, tied with the 1999 Braves for the most in a single season since 1901.

From Elias: The Orioles have played four extra-innings games at Fenway Park this season, and they've won them all. They are the seventh team in major league history to record four extra-innings road wins against one team in a single season and the first since the 1975 Red Sox had four such wins at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. The other clubs with four extra-innings road wins in one year against a particular opponent were the 1920 Pirates (at St. Louis), 1921 St. Louis Browns (at Detroit), 1955 Cubs (at St. Louis), 1964 Kansas City Athletics (at Minnesota) and 1969 Twins (at Oakland).


• Arte Moreno says flatly that Mike Scioscia will be back as manager next season.

• The Cincinnati Reds are playing with a whole lot of confidence as they prepare for the postseason, and Mat Latos is throwing well. How he beat the Dodgers on Saturday, according to ESPN Stats & Info:

A) Latos threw 53 of his 67 fastballs (79 percent) for strikes, his highest percentage in his career.
B) Latos pounded the zone with his fastball. He threw 47 of his 67 fastballs (70 percent) in the strike zone. Of the 20 that were out of the zone, 15 were within five inches of the edge of the zone.
C) Latos' fastballs averaged 93.5 mph, his highest in his past 10 starts.
D) Six of Latos' seven strikeouts came on his breaking balls (two curveballs, four sliders). It's just the third time this season Latos had at least two strikeouts on each of those pitches.

By The Numbers
From ESPN Stats & Info

1 2/3: IP by Roy Halladay on Saturday (second-shortest outing of career)
26: Homers by Wilin Rosario this season, setting the Rockies rookie record previously held by Todd Helton
500: Career doubles by Albert Pujols (most by a player in his first 12 seasons).

From Elias: Gio Gonzalez (20-glasses.gif is the sixth pitcher in National League history to win 20 games in his first season in the NL after pitching in the American League. The others:
George Suggs: 1910 Reds
Carl Mays: 1924 Reds
Al Downing: 1971 Dodgers
Danny Jackson: 1988 Reds
Roy Halladay: 2010 Phillies

The trouble with the Cabrera decision.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Within seconds of the news breaking from Andrew Baggarly that Melky Cabrera had voluntarily withdrawn himself from the NL batting title race, with administrative aid from the MLB Players Association and Major League Baseball, I received dozens of tweets asking the questions that naturally followed the announcement:

Will the National League give up the home-field advantage in the World Series?

Will the Giants give up some victories?

Will Barry Bonds give up his single-season home run title so Roger Maris can be restored as the record holder?

Etc., etc. Which is why I think that, ultimately, the decision by the players' association to pave the way for Cabrera to vacate any claim to the award will open a Pandora's box that will never be closed. Ultimately, to foster this will turn out to be a mistake.

I think it would've been better for the powers that be to tell Cabrera: Look, the batting title is a statistical standard in place for years, and if you want to return the trophy at year's end, go ahead and do it.

Imagine if this hypothetical occurred this fall: Star pitcher Fred Jones leads the Illinois Ambers to the World Series title by winning all three of his starts, for which he is named as the World Series MVP -- and then, two months later, he is suspended for performance-enhancing drugs. The Cabrera decision would tee up extraordinary pressure on the player to vacate his awards, and on his team or the commissioner to alter the outcome of the results.

Michael Weiner, head of the MLBPA, spoke over the phone Friday afternoon and flatly disagreed with that. "I don't think it sets a bad precedent," Weiner said. "A player was involved in a very bad situation … and he felt that winning a batting title is an empty gesture.

"I don't think it puts pressure on other players. I think it was the right thing for him to do. I don't see it as a precedent for other players."

I agree that it was a good gesture by Cabrera to give up his chance at the batting title; he is being accountable in a way he was not in the first days after he tested positive.

I just don't think it's a good idea for the people in power to officially sanction the move. Inevitably, others will face greater scrutiny and pressure because of this decision.

Melky Cabrera did the right thing, writes Bob Klapisch.

Within this Nick Piecoro notebook, Arizona reliever Brad Ziegler -- who is active in the union -- addressed the decision. From the story:

"It's that way in the NFL," Ziegler said. "If you get a drug suspension in the NFL, you can't be in the Pro Bowl, can't be eligible for postseason awards.

"To me, that makes sense. Because it feels like any positive accomplishments you achieved while taking the drug, you don't know what could have happened with it."


Andrew McCutchen still has a chance at the NL batting title, as Michael Sanserino writes.

• Sources say commissioner Bud Selig has been quietly putting together club votes in support of the Athletics' desired move to San Jose. Once that happens, Major League Baseball will be in a better position to push the Giants to make their best financial deal to hand over territorial rights to Lew Wolff's franchise.

• Josh Hamilton is out of sorts and will miss more games.

• On Friday, it felt as if those last crazy moments of the 2011 season were happening all over again. The St. Louis Cardinals came within a strike of a 4-2 win over the Cubs -- until Darwin Barney changed everything in that game with one swing. Then, about four hours later, the Brewers were on the verge of being beaten by the Nationals, until Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez got huge hits.

The Brewers wake up this morning just 1½ games behind the Cardinals, and it's worth remembering that, in the last week of the season, the Brewers will be at home to play the Astros and the Padres. San Diego is a tough team, but no matter: The Brewers have one of the best home-field advantages in the majors with their passionate following.

Chris Carpenter was really good in his return, but the Cardinals had ½their guts ripped out. This might've been the Cardinals' worst loss of the season, writes Bernie Miklasz.

• CC Sabathia had labored so much recently that it was unclear whether he was capable of having a dominant outing again this season -- until his start Friday, when he completely shut down the Athletics. Russell Martin won the game for the Yankees in the 10th inning. Sabathia pitched like an ace, writes John Harper, and, bit by bit, the Yankees' rotation is falling into place.

From ESPN Stats & Information, how Sabathia pitched against the Athletics:

A) The Athletics were 0-for-7 with seven strikeouts in at-bats ending with Sabathia's slider.

B) Sabathia threw a season-high 52 pitches inside Friday, with the Athletics going 1-for-10 with three strikeouts.

C) Sabathia threw a season-low two pitches with runners in scoring position, and the Athletics did not have a runner reach scoring position until the eighth inning.

Sabathia struck out seven Athletics hitters with his slider Friday, allowing him to extend his major league lead to 123. Sabathia is tied with Chris Sale for most games this season (five) with at least seven strikeouts in at-bats ending with the slider.

Sabathia has 14 games with at least 10 strikeouts as a Yankee, tied with ****** Ford for the fourth most by a Yankee in the live ball era. Ron Guidry (23), David Cone (21) and Al Downing (17) rank ahead of them.

• Chipper Jones' final game could be the play-in wild-card game, and he calls the concept stupid.

By The Numbers
from ESPN Stats & Info

3: Walk-off wins for the Yankees after Martin's 10th-inning HR against the Athletics, tied for fewest in the AL.

5: Games this season when Sabathia has struck out at least seven with his slider, tied for the MLB lead.

11: Strikeouts for Ervin Santana, tying a career high.

44: Come-from-behind wins for the Brewers this season, tops in the majors.

1,275: Strikeouts for the Rays' pitching staff this season, the most by a pitching staff in AL history.

AL East

The Orioles took yet another step toward a playoff berth.

Jim Johnson recorded his 46th save for the Orioles this season, setting a franchise record.

The Rays aren't dead yet; they've won three in a row.

Most strikeouts by team pitching staff, AL history:
2012 Rays -- 1,275 (11 K's Friday versus Jays)
2001 Yankees -- 1,266
2009 Yankees -- 1,260
2001 Red Sox -- 1,259
2009 Red Sox -- 1,230

Jon Lester lost to a team he had never lost to before.

Yunel Escobar got into a game as a pinch hitter.

NL East
Tyler Clippard blew the save chance against the Brewers. This is the most significant question about the Nationals as they head into the postseason: How well will their bullpen fare against elite teams?

Along the way, Bryce Harper made an incredible throw.

Tommy Hanson was hit hard.

The Phillies are hanging in there in the race for the second wild-card spot.

The Mets snapped their losing streak, and, along the way, Terry Collins yanked a player off the field for not hustling.

AL Central
Rain muddled the pitching plans of the Tigers.

The White Sox lost, racking up a whole bunch of strikeouts. And their lead in the AL Central is down to a game in the loss column.

Luis Mendoza shut down the Indians.

The ingredients were different, writes Paul Hoynes, but the results were the same: Cleveland lost.

NL Central
The Pirates had a terrible game.

The Reds missed a chance to clinch Friday. Cincinnati is still without its manager.

Darwin Barney and David DeJesus put some hurt on the Cardinals.

Jed Lowrie got a big hit.

AL West
Ervin Santana was "the man" for the Angels, and he got a lot of help from Mike Trout, as Mike DiGiovanna writes.

Oakland rallied, but lost.

Martin Perez came up short.

The Mariners ended their four-game losing streak.

NL West

The Dodgers aren't dead yet, and Matt Kemp got a big hit for them.

Ryan Vogelsong had a really strong outing.

The Diamondbacks went off on the Rockies.

Colorado fizzled in front of a big crowd, writes Patrick Saunders.

Chase Headley clubbed his 29th homer.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Ozzie Guillen laughed off the issue of whether he's going to be fired.

I wrote about this last week; at this point, it'd be a surprise if he were to be retained. Significant issues for the Marlins are what they perceive as a disconnect between Guillen and the community -- a relationship they had hoped to be a strength -- and between Guillen and his players.

There will not be major changes in the front office, writes Juan Rodriguez.

2. Nothing is certain about Mike Scioscia's future, writes Jeff Miller. From his piece:

It will be an interesting final week and a half around here. Only then, if the Angels do miss the playoffs, could things get really interesting.

Our guess? Scioscia will be given one more season, with a shaken-up coaching staff and even higher expectations.

Just imagine how sensitive he'll be then.

3. Buster Posey was honored.

4. Mike Rutsey thinks Jake Peavy could be an offseason match for the Jays. It's an interesting thought, but unless the Jays took big strides this offseason, I'd have my doubts about whether Peavy would sign there. He has already made a lot of money and will want to go someplace where he strongly feels he can win.

Rutsey also mentions Francisco Liriano -- and I think that could be a good fit for the Jays.

5. The Astros might pick their manager Monday. Brad Ausmus pulled his name out of the running.

Dings and dents

1. Justin Upton is healing.

2. Carlos Gonzalez is dealing with a nasty hamstring issue.

3. Robert Andino was beaned.

The Orioles' extra-inning formula.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
When Chris Davis singled in a pair of runners that sent the Baltimore Orioles' game with the Seattle Mariners into the 10th inning on Tuesday, the Orioles had to believe they would come out on top. After all, they had won their previous 13 games that went extra innings.

Taylor Teagarden hit an RBI single in the top of the 18th inning, and the Orioles were a half-inning away from a tie with the Yankees atop the AL East standings.

In the bottom half, closer Jim Johnson got a pair of quick outs. He fell behind the next batter, Mike Carp, 3-1 and then caught a lot of the plate with his fastball. Carp drilled a hard grounder up the middle. Johnson had little time to react, but he threw his glove down behind his back and made contact. It took Johnson a second to realize where he had deflected the ball, but he never panicked. Instead, he jogged over to the ball, picked it up and threw a strike to first base to end the game.

The next night, the Orioles, again, found themselves in extra innings, and Adam Jones gave them the lead with a two-run homer in the top of the 11th. And, again, the Orioles closed out the win in the bottom half of the inning with a nice defensive play, this time from Mark Reynolds, who started a nifty 3-6-1 double play.

As you've probably heard, the Orioles have the best record (15-2) in the majors in extra-inning games, and much of their success in such games can be attributed to their defense after the ninth.

Baseball Info Solutions tracks a pair of statistics called Good Fielding Plays (GFPs) and Defensive Misplays and Errors (DMEs). The former represents defensive plays in which the fielder makes a play that a typical fielder might not have made, the latter represents defensive plays in which either an error is charged or a fielder otherwise makes a mistake that a typical fielder might have avoided. Examples include failing to hit the cutoff man and failing to cover first base as a pitcher on a ball grounded to the right side of the infield.

Late-night heroes
These players have made the most good fielding plays in extra innings this season.

Team Player Extra-Inning GFP
OAK Eric Sogard 9
BAL Robert Andino 7
OAK Jemile Weeks 7
BAL Mark Reynolds 6
BAL J.J. Hardy 5
OAK Brandon Inge 5
OAK Brandon Moss 5
OAK Chris Carter 4
OAK Coco Crisp 4
STL Jon Jay 4
For the first nine innings of games this season, Baltimore has been solid defensively. It has 427 GFPs, which is the fifth-fewest in the majors, and it has 712 DMEs, which is also the fifth-fewest in the majors. That makes for a ratio of 0.60 GFPs/DMEs, which is squarely in the middle of the pack.

In contrast, the Orioles have made 36 GFPs to only nine DMEs in extra innings, good for an outstanding 4.00 ratio, which is second-best in baseball behind only Milwaukee. It is more than double that of Oakland, the third-place team. The distance between Baltimore and the teams behind it is even greater when you compare team defense in extra innings to that in the first nine innings.

Individually, Robert Andino, Mark Reynolds and J. J. Hardy have led the charge for the Orioles in extras. Those three players have combined for 18 GFPs, which is more than 28 entire teams. (Though it should be noted that the Orioles have played more extra-inning games than any other AL team.) Oakland (9-4 in extras) is the other team with so many good plays in extra innings. In fact, the Athletics and Orioles account for nine of the 10 players with at least four GFPs in extra innings (see table), and neither team has even one player with four DMEs in extras. Those two teams have combined to go 24-6 in extra-inning games this year.

While Baltimore and Oakland have remained in the thick of the race over the past few weeks, the Tampa Bay Rays have fallen off a bit. Their situation would be dramatically different if they shared the Orioles' success in extra-inning games.

Over the first nine innings of games, the Rays have been one of the better defensive teams. They have 503 GFPs to just 684 DMEs, which is a ratio of 0.74, the best in the majors. However, in extras, the Rays have dropped off defensively. They have three GFPs to 19 DMEs, a ratio of 0.16, which is the eighth-lowest. Compared to its defense in the first nine innings of games, Tampa Bay has seen the fourth-biggest decline in extras, and it has a 5-7 record in those games to show for it.

In particular, Elliot Johnson, Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist have stumbled in extra innings. All three players have three DMEs, and none have made a GFP. Pena and Zobrist are typically good defenders. This year, they have simply made poorly timed bad plays. On the other hand, Johnson has seen a drop-off in his defensive play at shortstop, his primary position, from a year ago. Last year, he saved the Rays an estimated eight runs, but this year, he has cost the Rays five runs. That difference could amount to a win or two over the course of a season.

Of course, defense is only one piece of the puzzle, and many teams have played above their heads defensively in extra innings and still have a poor record in those games. For whatever reason, the Orioles and Athletics have been able to capitalize on their improved defense in those critical situations. With so few opportunities, it is difficult to conclude that it is the result of anything more than randomness, but even if that is the case, the Orioles and Athletics have those wins. That might be the edge they need to make the playoffs.

Yu Darvish finding his form.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Rangers came out on top of the Yu Darvish versus Zack Greinke matchup at Angel Stadium on Thursday night, although both pitchers threw extremely well and the deciding runs came at the expense of an Ernesto Frieri slider that hung long enough for me to re-read "Ulysses" and, more importantly, long enough for Adrian Beltre to fall down laughing before standing up and hitting it into next week.

Darvish's approach in this game was dramatically different from what I saw live from him in March or previously with Team Japan, employing fewer pitches overall and making heavy use of a cutter that was just one of seven offerings I counted from him in spring training. His cutter does show its break a little early out of Darvish's hand, but its velocity runs right into that of his four-seamer -- 89-91 mph on the cutter, 91-96 on the fastball -- making it hard for hitters to adjust to it. But his most effective pitch by far was the one he used least often, his 80-84 slider, which he didn't throw at all until the fourth inning and started to use frequently only in the seventh and eighth, helping him punch out the last three batters he faced. Earlier in the game, he relied more on a slow curveball, mostly 65-69 but as slow as 62 at one point, with short mostly vertical break but more a way to change eye levels than miss bats outright.

Darvish now ranks third in the AL in fWAR, which is based on pitchers' peripherals (strikeout, walk and home run rates) rather than their straight ERAs. (He's less than 0.01 ahead of Chris Sale, who now sits in fourth.) Since his five-walk performance on Aug. 17, Darvish has thrown 44 innings across six starts, walking nine and fanning 52, although it's worth noting that he's faced some fairly impatient lineups in that stretch, including last night. It's still a welcome change from his earlier-season performances and I believe it's a harbinger of the kind of results we can expect to see from Darvish over the next few years.

• Greinke was nearly as impressive in stuff and just as impressive in results, even though he ended up with a no-decision (again telling us how useless pitcher wins and losses are for gauging value). Greinke was 92-95 most of his outing, touching 96 once, working effectively to both sides of the plate while staying in or near the strike zone. He threw the standard assortment of four pitches, with both the curveball and slider capable of missing bats and the changeup, while hard at 86-88, showing enough deception to keep left-handed hitters off balance. His style is much less about pure power than about minimizing mistakes, avoiding walks and keeping the ball in the park while missing enough bats to limit damage from balls in play.

• C.J. Wilson was pretty awful for the Angels the previous night, something I made light of on Twitter -- especially how much his tentative pitching style and slow pace reminded me of Daisuke Matsuzaka, one of my least favorite pitchers to scout since I started doing this for a living. Wilson was behind in the count too often and seemed happy to try to work the outer half -- or perhaps to work outside the outer half -- rather than utilizing the inner half the way Greinke does. Mike Scioscia did well to remove Wilson quickly on Wednesday night and get Jerome Williams into the game, although by that point the Rangers had scored all they would need to win. Wilson's velocity was fine, but if he can't or won't throw strikes or work to both sides of the plate, he'll continue to disappoint.

• Going back a few days, I did get to see Brandon Belt over the weekend when the Giants visited Phoenix, and as many readers have told me, Belt's swing mechanics are substantially different from where they were when he was so successful in 2010, including a very strong campaign in the Arizona Fall League. His front hip is moving forward far too early, while his hands remain well behind him, and in fact are drifting higher by his back shoulder than when he used to start his swing earlier, resulting in a near barring of his lead arm. It's not a surprise that he's been easier to beat inside with this setup and swing, nor does it shock me that he's hitting left-handers well, since what they throw will tend to move away from his vulnerability. The bigger question is why anyone would have changed his mechanics in the first place, but I've been unable to get an answer to that (or even to the question of who made the changes) this week. If he gets back to where he was in late 2010, he can still be an above-average or better regular, but I don't think he'll see that level with the way he's hitting right now.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Hamilton's return uncertain
AM ETJosh Hamilton | Rangers Recommend0Comments0EmailJosh Hamilton missed the final five games of the Texas Rangers' road trip due to problems caused by sinus issues, and it remains unclear if he will be ready for a key series with the Oakland Athletics, according to an report.

Hamilton has not played since leaving Tuesday's game in Anaheim early because of vision and equilibrium problems. "We just have to wait and see when we get to the ballpark (Monday) to see where he is symptom-wise," manager Ron Washington said.

Craig Gentry has started the last five games in center field and had a two-hit game on Sunday in Seattle.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers
Will Zito get an NLDS start?
AM ETBarry Zito | Giants Recommend0Comments0EmailBarry Zito, left off all three postseason rosters on the San Francisco Giants' march to the 2010 World Series title, appears to have secured roster spot for the upcoming Division Series, reports Henry Schulman.

The decision to include Zito contines a bounce-back season for the lefthander who has won 13 games, one more than in the previous two years combined. Zito (4.18 ERA) also remains in contention for a possible Game Four start behind some combination of Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner.

Manager Bruce Bochy must decide between Zito or Ryan Vogelsong, with the other pitcher headed to the bullpen. Vogelsong seemed to be pitching himself out of contention before tossing six strong innings Friday night. The choice could come down to how each starter performs the rest of the way.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants
Guillen's status on South Beach
AM ETMiami Marlins Recommend0Comments0EmailWill there be major changes on South Beach? The epic disappointment that is the 2012 Miami Marlins has led to all sort of speculation as to how owner Jeffrey Loria will change his last-place team.

Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel reported over the weekend that major changes to the front office are not expected -- but Ozzie Guillen's job may not be safe..

A source close to the Marlins tells Rumor Central that Guillen's return is by no means a guarantee.

There may be even more fuel added to the fire. Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post reports Loria is angry at Guillen for comments the skipper made that were critical of Loria, but exactly what Guillen said that ticked Loria off is not clear.

Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald says Loria does not intend to make any major changes to his front office staff, and Larry Beinfest' s job as president of baseball operations would appear to be safe for at least another year.

USA Today reported Thursday that Beinfest would be fired after the season.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Ozzie Guillen, Miami Marlins
Could Loney land in Tampa?
AM ETJames Loney | Red Sox Recommend0Comments0EmailJames Loney has posted mediocre numbers for Boston (.247/.281/306) since coming over in the August blockbuster with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the Red Sox may consider re-signing the first baseman given the limited availability at the position.

Nick Cafardo says one team that may take a look at Loney is the Rays, who are not expected to bring back the struggling Carlos Pena.

Loney, who makes $6.4 million this season, may be in line for a multi-year deal, but teams looking for a power hitter at the position may shy away. Loney has just 72 homers and has not come close to the big numbers he put up for the Dodgers in 2007 (.331 BA).

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, James Loney
Holliday's back problem
AM ETMatt Holliday | Cardinals Recommend0Comments0EmailThe Cardinals' Matt Holliday continues to play with back discomfort that prompted manager Mike Matheny to remove his star left fielder in the late innings of back-to-back games with the Cubs.

Holliday was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of a close game Sunday, leading to speculation that he could be in line for a night off. But a wild card berth is still up for grabs, so Holliday may simply play through pain.

Shane Robinson could be in line for a start if Holliday gets a rest

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals
Huntington's job status
AM ETPittsburgh Pirates Recommend0Comments0EmailAnother second-half collapse has the Pittsburgh Pirates staring at a 20th straight year without postseason baseball. This time, owner Bob Nutting may not stand idly by, Dejan Kovacecic wrote last week in the Tribune Review.

GM Neal Huntington, for his part, told the Post-Gazette Sunday he plans to retain his front office team this offseason. If he is fired, Huntington hopes whoever replaces him would keep his team around.

Talking about a possible firing seems a bit odd to us, especially since any new GM would undoubtedly want to hire his own personnel.

Kovacevic believes that manager Clint Hurdle and team president Frank Coonelly will be retained, but both will have questions to answer since Nutting, who is far from a detached owner, could be looking to make changes at season's end. Hurdle, in particular, must convince ownership he is the man to avoid a third straight collapse.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Pittsburgh Pirates
Backup SS a priority for Tribe
AM ETCleveland Indians Recommend0Comments0EmailOwners of the worst record in the American League at 63-90, the Cleveland Indians have a few holes to fill. Paul Hoynes takes it one step at a time in Sunday's Plain Dealer, noting that one need is a reliable backup at shortstop behind Asdrubal Cabrera.

Brent Lillibridge and Jason Donald had limited success in that role this season. Juan Diaz was called up for a five-game cameo in late May, but the Tribe would like to give him more minor league seasoning. The Indians won'y overspend for a backup shortstop, so look for them to pay close attention to the list of non-tendered players this winter.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians
Staying the course in Anaheim
AM ETMike Scioscia | Angels Recommend0Comments0EmailForget any of that speculation that Mike Scioscia's job may be in jeopardy.

Angels owner Arte Moreno told's Alden Gonzalez Saturday night that Scioscia would return for a 14th season regardless of what happens in the team's remaining games, adding that GM Jerry Dipoto would return as well.

"Regardless of what happens the next 11 games, Mike Scioscia will 100 percent return," Moreno said. "I have told him. He wants to come back, I want him to come back. He's been the manager of the Angels for 13 years. He will be the manager of the Angels for a 14th year. Period."

The Angels set the bar for 2012 extremely high with the offseason signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, but are 2 1/2 games behind Oakland for the A.L.'s second wild card. If the Halos fail to make up ground, they will miss the playoffs for a third straight season.

Ken Rosenthal of on Saturday described the communication between Scioscia and Dipoto as "strained," adding that their relationship "neared a breaking point" on more than one occasion.

Dipoto tells the Los Angeles Times he never felt his job was in jeopardy.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Los Angeles Angels, Mike Scioscia
Gardner may return this week
AM ETBrett Gardner | Yankees Recommend0Comments0EmailYankees outfielder Brett Gardner will take batting practice Monday and hopes to be activated in the next day or two, reports Jeff Bradley of the Star Ledger.

Gardner, who has missed all but nine games with a right elbow injury, would likely be used as a defensive replacement and a pinch-runner. Manager Joe Girardi also is leaving open the possibility of adding Gardner to any postseason roster.

The Yankees are ruling out Gardner as a pinch-hitter for now, but the outfielder wants to leave open that possibility, even if that may be too optimistic.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Brett Gardner, New York Yankees
Francisco done for the season?
AM ETFrank Francisco | Mets Recommend0Comments0EmailMets closer Frank Francisco has not pitched for more than a week and will miss at least a few more games with a sore elbow.

Neither Francisco nor manager Terry Collins would rule out the possibility that the reliever is done for the season, reports Matt Ehalt of Francisco is 1-3 with a 5.53 ERA and 23 saves.

Jon Rauch notched the save in Saturday's 4-3 victory over Miami and should get any of the closing opportunities the rest of the way.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Frank Francisco, New York Mets
Upton's market
AM ETB.J. Upton | Rays Recommend0Comments0EmailB.J. Upton is likely to draw heavy interest this winter as he hits the free agent market, despite disappointing offensive production throughout his career, with few exceptions.

Upton plays good defense, runs the bases well and is young enough that some clubs may believe there's still upside at the plate. Among those expected to be in the market for a centerfielder include the Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves.

The New York Mets could be a dark horse for Upton, as could the Miami Marlins, if they decide to spend again this winter.

The Rangers could lose Josh Hamilton, which will put them in the category of needing an outfielder, but even if Hamilton returns, Upton could remain a possibility for Texas. His presence could allow Hamilton to DH more and play an outfield corner, removing some of the workload of playing center field regularly.

The Reds could also be players for Upton, as they seek more offense from the position than what Drew Stubbs has produced the past few years.

- Jason A. Churchill
post #8166 of 73000
Damn Ozzie really might be one & done in MIA? Say it ain't so..
post #8167 of 73000
Originally Posted by psk2310 View Post

Damn Ozzie really might be one & done in MIA? Say it ain't so..

Its just been better on the Southside without him.

Overrated but by no means a bad manager
post #8168 of 73000
Josh having vision problems because of too much caffeine? Can't say I've seen more random drama surrounding a franchise player multiple times over a season in recent baseball history.
post #8169 of 73000
Thread Starter 
Another reason a big market/pressure market is no good for him. They'd be scrutinizing and clowning him for that for the rest of the season. As much as I want to win this year, it wouldn't mean a lot without beating Texas with him there.
post #8170 of 73000
Verlander is ridiculous. Easily the best pitcher in the majors at this point.

Old man Pettitte's got a sub 3 ERA? Must be on that Bartolo Colon workout plan. laugh.gif
post #8171 of 73000
Originally Posted by abovelegit1 View Post

Verlander is ridiculous. Easily the best pitcher in the majors at this point.

Old man Pettitte's got a sub 3 ERA? Must be on that Bartolo Colon workout plan. laugh.gif

Verlander is a beast...Getting back a healthy Pettite just in time for the playoffs could be dangerous for AL teams...
Originally Posted by Stringer Bell 32 View Post

Originally Posted by psk2310 View Post

Damn Ozzie really might be one & done in MIA? Say it ain't so..

Its just been better on the Southside without him.

Overrated but by no means a bad manager

Yea, the Sox have been better without him...
post #8172 of 73000
Doubleheaders are always tough to take both games, but the O's had the bases loaded 4 times or so last night and couldn't get that timely hit to break it open. Reynolds grounding into two double plays with the bases loaded.....mean.gif.

Going to need the Red Sox or someone to step up and hand the Yanks a few losses.

This competitive September may have been the best thing to happen to the Yankees, they have played a lot better baseball since the O's erased their AL East lead.
Straight Cash Homey
Straight Cash Homey
post #8173 of 73000
Heath Bell ethered Ozzie in a candid interview saying, "It's hard to respect a guy that doesn't tell you the truth or doesn't tell you face-to-face." However Bell has been a crap reliever all season. So do you take the word of a bum?
post #8174 of 73000
Ozzie pimp.gif
post #8175 of 73000
That fat **** heath bell, Ozzie carted his *** out there everyday and gave him every chance to keep his job, even when the owners and the entire fanbase wanted him out, and he is really going to to turn around and start mouthing off?

**** outta here.
Instagram. | just my art and photography. #NT will follow back. Also Flickr.
Instagram. | just my art and photography. #NT will follow back. Also Flickr.
post #8176 of 73000
Originally Posted by psk2310 View Post

Heath Bell ethered Ozzie in a candid interview saying, "It's hard to respect a guy that doesn't tell you the truth or doesn't tell you face-to-face." However Bell has been a crap reliever all season. So do you take the word of a bum?

But but but.....He ADMITTED he was a crap reliever! He wanted the opportunity to display his crappiness again! roll.gif
Straight Cash Homey
Straight Cash Homey
post #8177 of 73000
Heath Bell is a joke. Shut up.
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
post #8178 of 73000
Thread Starter 
Trout the rational choice for AL MVP.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I argued in late June that Mike Trout had the early look, statistically speaking, of an MVP candidate, because he was such a complete player, contributing in all facets of the game. That MVP race has turned out to be a rout, with Trout nearly lapping the field in value, though that hasn't stopped a portion of the media and the fan base, largely situated in a certain state that borders three Great Lakes, from arguing in favor of another candidate, Miguel Cabrera.

The Luddite argument -- and don't kid yourself, that's what this is, a backlash against progress -- says that wins above replacement isn't reliable, or credible, or accurate enough to use in an MVP discussion. So while Trout destroys all of his competition in WAR, whether you use FanGraphs' version (a lead of 2.6 wins) or Baseball Reference's (a lead of 3.7), it might be more convincing to consider just why Trout's lead is so commanding.

[+] Enlarge

Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire
When choosing an MVP, you need to consider more than just hitting stats.The reactionary campaign for Cabrera right now focuses primarily on his offensive output, and if you look only at the raw, unadjusted stats, he does have a slight edge over Trout. The two players are in a dead heat in OBP, with Cabrera just .001 ahead (.395 to .394) while holding a 58-point (.060) advantage in slugging percentage, equal to roughly 40 total bases during the course of a full season.

Cabrera also has about three weeks of additional playing time over Trout, who inexplicably started the season in Triple-A to free up playing time for Vernon Wells. If offense was the entire story, Cabrera would be the MVP, holding a lead of about half a win of value over Trout once we adjust for their ballparks, because Comerica Park is a better park for hitters than Angel Stadium is.

Of course, we live in 2012, an era in which any rational observer of the game should realize that there's a lot more to a position player's value than just what he provides with his bat. The most obvious aspect is defense, something we're only beginning to measure accurately but can at least quantify at a level beyond the useless stat of fielding percentage. FanGraphs uses Ultimate Zone Rating to try to measure defensive value, looking at all balls in play in that fielder's area and assigning them positive or negative run values based on how often balls hit that way were fielded, and if they weren't, what the typical damage was to the fielder's team. UZR has Trout saving 12 runs over an average center fielder this year, plus another net run saved in left and right, for a total of 13 runs saved; it has Cabrera costing the Tigers a little more than nine runs compared to an average third baseman.

The Defensive Runs Saved metric, from Baseball Information Solutions, is even more favorable to Trout, giving him credit for 25 runs saved while rating Cabrera at four runs cost. (DRS is what is factored into Baseball Reference's version of WAR.) I prefer the UZR method, but both results match the eye test as well: Trout's a plus defender, and Cabrera is at best a below-average defender (and more likely a poor one). The defensive value difference between Trout and Cabera is something on the order of two full wins, if not more.

Players add value through their baserunning. Trout has stolen 46 bases in 50 attempts, and because the break-even rate is somewhere in the 70 to 75 percent range, that is a significant net gain for the Angels, and he's added another six runs on the bases independent of his base-stealing prowess. Cabrera, on the other hand, has stolen four bases and been caught once, while his baserunning has cost the Tigers just under 3 runs. (The baserunning numbers also are drawn from FanGraphs, and include things like taking an extra base on a batted ball or advancing on a fly ball or groundout.)

Baseball Prospectus also produces baserunning numbers, including stolen base value and other baserunning events in a single number, giving Trout a net gain of 10.4 runs and Cabrera a net loss of 4.9 runs. Again, you might disagree with the precise figures, but there is no disputing that Trout has been substantially more valuable on the bases than Cabrera, on the order of over a full win.

There's a little more work to do, but even at this point, it should be obvious why Trout has been much more valuable than Cabrera, and this why there is such a large gap in their respective WAR. Cabrera's small edge in offense is wiped out by Trout's value on defense and on the bases. Trout even gets a small bump for playing center, a position where replacement level -- that is, the expected offensive production of a generic player called up from Triple-A to fill that role -- is slightly lower than it is at third base.

And WAR doesn't consider the quality of competition, a factor that also favors Trout, who has faced more difficult pitching than Cabrera this year. Miggy has particularly feasted on the two worst pitching staffs in the league in 2012, Cleveland and Minnesota, slugging .742 against those two clubs in 132 at-bats. Trout has just a third as many at bats against those clubs, but has spent more time facing the A's, Mariners, and Rangers, all above the league median in ERA.

[+] Enlarge

Dave Reginek/Getty Images
No matter how you slice it, Cabrera's defense is hurting the Tigers.But Trout's a rookie!

This is a classic red herring argument -- arguing a premise that doesn't support the conclusion. The MVP award is a single-season award, and rookies are every bit as eligible as veterans with 10 years or more in the league. Nothing that happened prior to 2012 should carry any weight whatsoever in MVP voting: not past performance, not All-Star appearances, not service time, nothing.

A corollary to this argument is that Trout hasn't played a full season, and the MVP criteria do specifically say that voters may consider games played as a factor on their ballots. However, Trout has been so productive on a per game basis that his overall value this season still dwarfs that provided by Cabrera.

With that in hand, let's consider some of the major counterarguments that Cabrera supporters use to claim that he should win the award over Trout.

But Cabrera may win the Triple Crown, so he's the MVP!

This is begging the question: It assumes that the Triple Crown is an accurate measure of value, which it's not. Here's a short list of important factors not covered by the Triple Crown categories: Walks, the added value of doubles and triples, stolen bases, other aspects of baserunning, defensive value, positional value, park effects -- in other words, huge swaths of the game that are completely ignored.

Triple Crown is cute, but there's something very arbitrary and dated about its categories, an anachronistic way to look at the game that is wildly out of tune with how front offices look at players today. Once you realize, as you must, that a player who wins the Triple Crown has not necessarily delivered the most value, this argument evaporates.

The main corollary to the Triple Crown argument is that players who win this honor typically win the MVP award. That's not universally true -- Ted Williams twice won the Triple Crown and finished second in the MVP vote -- but even if it were true in all previous cases, it is a classic argument from tradition: We've always done it this way, therefore it's right. If you believe this still applies to Cabrera, I assume that the next time you're sick, you'll ask your doctor to bleed you with leeches.

But Cabrera's been better in August and September!

This is argument-by-selective observation, better known as "cherry-picking" -- utilizing a favorable subset of the available data while ignoring all other information. It's also presented in a misleading fashion, as Trout's less-productive stretch has only lasted a few weeks. After he homered on August 28, Trout's line for August sat at .301/.378/.544; since that date, he's hit .242/.355/.374, a weak stretch by his standards but not enough to drag down his seasonal numbers.

This argument also relies on a bogus assumption, that games late in the season are more important than those early in the season. I've checked the standings, and have concluded that a win in April is worth as much as a win in September. The Los Angeles Dodgers are still in the playoff race primarily because of a hot April; they're sub-.500 since May 1 The Orioles have been slightly over .500 since finishing their first series with Washington on May 20, at which point they were 27-15, and that will likely be enough to put them in the playoffs. Winning in September feels more important than winning in April or May, but that is not actually true.

But Cabrera's been better in the clutch!

A gain, more cherry-picking. When applied properly, the fundamental problem with this argument for Cabrera supporters is that it supports the guy they're trying to discredit: By win probability added (WPA), a stat that weights each plate appearance and result by the impact it had on the team's probability of winning that particular game, Trout has done more to add to his team's chances to win than any other player in baseball. Cabrera has been better in "late and close" situations, but those represent such a tiny fraction of each player's season that it's nonsense to base an MVP vote on those while ignoring the approximately 85 percent of the season not reflected in that small-sample stat line.

But WAR is a new-age stat for geeks who don't know baseball!

Let's be honest here, this is the real argument that non-Tigers fans are making about Trout. On its face, these comments are ad hominem arguments: rather than dispute the facts, some Cabrera partisans who use these terms are focusing on the person arguing for Trout, rather than on Trout's credentials. But really, nothing could be less "new age" than a thorough, rational metric, unless WAR was secretly developed by Yanni in his mother's basement.

The false Trout/Cabrera debate, stripped of Tigers and Angels fans, is just the latest in the ongoing battle between two camps in the baseball media, one of which has seen its longtime primacy usurped by new writers, mostly younger, who look at the game in different ways and have more in common with successful front offices.

Once upon a time, fans like you and me relied on a small number of writers and reporters to deliver baseball news and interpret it for us. Today, we have a panoply of voices offering different perspectives, some more rational than others, and the dedicated fan is better able to interpret baseball news and events for himself.

The pro-Cabrera camp in the voting pool may win this battle and rob Trout of the MVP award he clearly deserves, but the war over WAR and its statistical brethren is already over. The philosophy behind these advanced statistics and the way they inform our views of the game is here to stay, and although the fairy-tale scout Gus Lobel doesn't have to adapt, in this world, he'd have to retire, or he'd have to get on that computer and figure out how to reconcile what he wants to believe with what the facts before him say.

The 'real' Triple Crown.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
For the third consecutive season, baseball has been seriously discussing the Triple Crown come September, despite it being 45 years since Carl Yastrzemski last managed to pull off the feat in 1967. Last year, it was Matt Kemp, who finished first in the National League in homers and RBIs, but finished behind Ryan Braun and Jose Reyes in batting average. In 2010, it was the troika of Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Carlos Gonzalez fighting for the Triple Crown, all possessing realistic chances through most of the summer, but eventually crowding each other out by season's end.

This season, however, we focus on the American League, and with just over a week left in the season, Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera is in the driver's seat, leading the AL in batting average (.331), RBIs (133), and with 42 homers, only a single homer behind Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers. The Tigers just have nine games left in the season, so at this point, Cabrera's entrance into one of the most exclusive clubs in baseball history definitely appears to be more than a flight of fancy. (According to my model, he has a 46 percent chance of winning the Triple Crown. As hard as it is to pull off a Triple Crown, you have to like those odds.)

SABR stars
These are the players who have led the league in OBP, SLG and SB -- aka the Sabermetric Triple Crown -- since World War II:

2009 Joe Mauer
2004 Barry Bonds
2002 Barry Bonds
2000 Todd Helton
1999 Larry Walker
1980 George Brett
1979 Fred Lynn
1970 Carl Yastrzemski
1967 Carl Yastrzemski
1966 Frank Robinson
1957 Ted Williams
1954 Ted Williams
1949 Ted Williams
1948 Ted Williams
1948 Stan Musial
1947 Ted Williams
Cabrera's actually on the cusp of doing something even rarer: winning the Triple Crown without leading the league in wins above replacement. Mike Trout's amazing rookie season comes out significantly ahead of everyone in the AL, whether you use Baseball-Reference's WAR (Trout 10.4, Cabrera 6.glasses.gif or FanGraphs' WAR (Trout 9.5, Cabrera 6.9). By Baseball-Reference's reckoning, Cabrera would only be the second Triple Crown winner to not lead the league in WAR, the only other player being Paul Hines in 1878. Via FanGraphs, Cabrera would only be the fourth, with Hines, Ty Cobb and Hugh Duffy just missing the WAR lead in their Triple Crown years.

The fact that the Triple Crown doesn't correlate with WAR got me wondering, Is there a better Triple Crown, one that does a better job of measuring overall value? After all, choosing average, home runs and RBIs as the Triple Crown was somewhat arbitrary to begin with, and their is another trio of traditional stats that does a much better job of defining overall player value.

Throughout baseball history, WAR and Triple Crown stats generally correlate with each other. Taking into consideration every player qualifying for a batting title in baseball history, BA/HR/RBI explains 49 percent of the variance in WAR from player to player. While there are cases in which players with good Triple Crown stats have weak WAR seasons and vice-versa, generally speaking, the two go along well.

Real Triple Crown
These are the players who led the league in OBP, SLG and SB, the "real" Triple Crown.

1976 Joe Morgan
1917 Ty Cobb
1909 Ty Cobb
1908 Honus Wagner
1907 Honus Wagner
1904 Honus Wagner
So what hypothetical Triple Crown would have the strongest relationship with WAR? Replacing RBIs with runs scored strengthens the relationship, explaining 53 percent of the variation. The "sabermetric" Triple Crown of BA/OBP/SLG gets you up to explaining 56 percent of the variance in WAR from player to player.

Running all the permutations of the basic statistics used in baseball, the combination with the strongest relationship is actually SLG, OBP, and stolen bases, explaining 59 percent of the variation in WAR. This is because slugging percentage and on-base percentage generally sum up most offense quite well, with stolen bases including information not contained in either SLG or OBP. (Faster players steal bases, and speedy guys tend to be better defenders, so stolen bases actually give us at least a glimpse of defensive value in a way other stats don't.)

So let's call SLG/OBP/SB the "real" Triple Crown. This feat has only been pulled off three times in baseball history (see table) by three of the most well-rounded players we've ever seen: Joe Morgan, Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner.

Trout leads the AL in steals this year (46), but is fourth in OBP (.394) and slugging (.554). Cabrera is in the top five in the AL in OBP and slugging, but doesn't really steal bases. Other players who have come close in recent years are Larry Walker in 1997 (1st in OBP and SLG, 7th in SB) and Rickey Henderson in 1990 (first in OBP, second in slugging and first in steals).

It's pretty clear that the traditional Triple Crown doesn't do as good a job at measuring player value as the "real" Triple Crown. That said, whether or not Miguel Cabrera wins the Triple Crown this year or deserves the MVP award (or not), there's little question that his season is one for the ages, another highlight in his march to Cooperstown.

Key players for playoff contenders.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Scouts are scattered all over ballparks these days, preparing for the postseason, looking for weaknesses, forming opinions on which hitters to avoid and which hitters to go after.

Each of the playoff teams will have particular players who will be barometers for their club's performance -- linchpin guys.

Here are those players, among the teams that would qualify for the postseason as of this morning.

Texas Rangers, Yu Darvish: A month ago, their rotation looked to be a real concern in the postseason, but Darvish has turned it around in recent weeks; he's got 42 strikeouts in his last 37 innings, with a 1.46 ERA. Texas will need more of the same next month.

Atlanta Braves, Michael Bourn: Atlanta's offense is inconsistent, and all year it seems that when Bourn hits, the Braves are transformed. October is all about small samples, and in recent days, Bourn has hit better, with four hits in his last 11 at-bats, plus a couple of walks.

Oakland Athletics, Yoenis Cespedes: He is capable of doing damage against any pitcher in any situation, and the cause-and-effect with him has been in place all season. When he plays well, the Athletics tend to win.

Baltimore Orioles, Wei-Yin Chen: At last check, Baltimore was competing with a seven-man rotation. But in the postseason, the Orioles will need Chen -- the only pitcher with more than 20 starts on their roster -- to be able to hang in there at least into the sixth or seventh inning. The Orioles' bullpen has been remarkable, but it's hard to imagine Baltimore succeeding in October without a significant contribution from the starters, whoever they are.

Cincinnati Reds, Brandon Phillips: The Reds have a team fully capable of success in the postseason, with a good rotation, a dominant bullpen and an outstanding defense. Their greatest inconsistency has been at the top of the lineup, and it helps that Phillips has moved into the leadoff spot now that Joey Votto is back in the No. 3 spot. Votto is not hitting for power at all these days, but if Phillips and Zack Cozart tee him up by getting on base, the Reds' production will be very different. Phillips in the leadoff spot this year: a .275 on-base percentage.

New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez: He is a crucial part of their lineup, especially with so much uncertainty about Mark Teixeira's status, because Rodriguez will be the guy attacked by opposing pitchers and managers as they look to steer around Robinson Cano; Rodriguez is going to get a lot of chances. He is hitting .268 this month, and while he's been getting his share of hits, he doesn't have an extra-base hit in his last nine games.

Chicago White Sox, Chris Sale: The big question everybody will be wondering about him -- especially because he is being stressed far beyond anything he's ever experienced -- is how much he has left in the tank. The White Sox wouldn't be leading the AL Central without Sale, and they can't win in the playoffs without him.

Washington Nationals, Tyler Clippard: He is not a "stuff" closer with the overpowering fastball of a Craig Kimbrel or Aroldis Chapman. Rather, Clippard relies on his changeup, and it's worked for him, generally; he's got 32 saves this season. But Clippard's numbers have done down in the second half -- he has 5.74 ERA since the break, after posting a 1.93 ERA before the break. Washington doesn't have as much depth in its bullpen as some of the other teams, and no matter how Davey Johnson uses Clippard, the Nationals need production from him.

St. Louis Cardinals, Chris Carpenter: He's a difference-maker. He showed it last fall in the decisive game against the Philadelphia Phillies and in the last game of the World Series. Carpenter had good movement on his sinker in his first start last week, and if he can continue to pitch effectively, the St. Louis rotation looks very, very different.

San Francisco Giants, Pablo Sandoval: He's been hitting with some power in the last week, and given that other teams will make a strong effort to make sure that Buster Posey doesn't beat them, Sandoval is going to get pitches to hit. The Panda is hitting .312 this month.


• Kansas City Royals owner David Glass says he'll spend to get pitching this winter. If you are Kyle Lohse or Edwin Jackson or any of the other second-tier free agents, this is a really good thing.

• The White Sox were only four outs from losing sole possession of first place, until Adam Dunn took another massive swing at an 0-2 pitch and clubbed a three-run homer.

From ESPN Stats & Information: Dunn saw 17 pitches Monday, and all were fastballs. It's just the third time in the last four seasons he came to bat four times and didn't see a single non-fastball. Monday's homers gave him 32 this season off fastballs (2/4-seam, sinkers, cutters), five more than anyone else in baseball.

Most HR on fastballs this season in MLB
Adam Dunn: 32
Miguel Cabrera: 27
Curtis Granderson: 26

Most go-ahead HR in eighth inning or later (since '01)
Adam Dunn: 26
Albert Pujols: 24
David Ortiz: 22

Dunn and Robin Ventura said that the White Sox need to relax. The White Sox didn't give in, writes Rick Morrissey.

Before Dunn's home run, the Detroit Tigers appeared poised to move into a first-place tie after Justin Verlander's strong effort.

Justin Verlander vs. Royals on Monday (strikes/pitches)
Fastball: 45/56
Changeup: 18/24
Curveball: 9/13
Slider: 17/21
-- 78 percent strikes overall (career high)

Drew Sharp likes this pennant race.

From Elias Sports Bureau: With Miguel Cabrera leading the AL in average and RBIs, this is the fourth-latest date a player has led in two of the Triple Crown three categories since Carl Yastrzemski win in 1967.

With 42 home runs, 133 RBIs and a .331 BA, Cabrera has a decent shot at reaching 45 home runs and 140 RBIs while hitting .330. Should he reach those numbers, he would join a pretty exclusive list that includes Babe Ruth (six times), Lou Gehrig (four times), Jimmie Foxx (three times), Joe DiMaggio (once), Todd Helton (once) and Hack Wilson (once).

• The Rangers roared back from a deficit against Oakland, with a lot of work from Adrian Beltre.

From Elias: Beltre is the first major league player this season to produce a walk-off RBI in a nine-inning game after recording a lead-changing RBI in the seventh inning or later in the same game.

Beltre's game-tying homer came off a 83 mph slider left up in the zone from Pat Neshek. Beltre told ESPNDallas he was looking for a slider, because he'd been thrown nothing but sliders -- and he's hit a lot of sliders this season, too. Beltre leads MLB with 10 homers on sliders this season. Robinson Cano is second with nine.

Josh Hamilton was back in the Texas lineup after saying he will reduce the amount of caffeine he drinks.

The Athletics are nearing the end of what has been a brutal stretch of schedule, with 17 of 20 games on the road. They couldn't hold the lead against Texas, as Susan Slusser writes. Coco Crisp's pinkeye is not getting better.

After Oakland finishes this series against Texas, it has two home series remaining, against Seattle and then the Rangers.

• Heath Bell ripped Ozzie Guillen, who has other support in the clubhouse, writes Clark Spencer. Odds of Guillen refraining from a response: zero.

Jeffrey Loria was irked by something a former manager said.

AL East

• Andy Pettitte looked terrific again. When the pressure is on, Pettitte responds, writes Joel Sherman.

From ESPN Stats & Info, how Pettitte beat the Twins:

A) Pettitte threw a season-high 57 percent fastballs (2/4-seam). Two of his three strikeouts came on those fastballs; he had only six fastball strikeouts in his first 10 starts this season.
B) Pettitte recorded a season-high 15 of his 17 outs on pitches in the zone, including two double plays.
C) Twins hitters swung at only 11 of Pettitte's 22 sliders, but put the ball in play on eight of those swings (73 percent), his highest percentage in the last four seasons. Those eight swings resulted in seven outs, including four on the ground.

• The Orioles split a doubleheader, and they've fallen to 1½ games behind the Yankees. Steve Johnson made the most of his spot start.

• Henderson Alvarez needs to get better for the Toronto Blue Jays, writes Ken Fidlin.

AL Central
• Luke Hochevar couldn't match Verlander's outing.

• The Indians' best bullpen guy was beaten.

• A Twins rookie was hit hard.

NL East

• The Nationals' magic number for clinching the NL East is down to five. Davey Johnson says he's going to rest his guys down the stretch. From Adam Kilgore's tory:

The Nationals could clinch at the start of, or before, their series with the Cardinals this upcoming weekend. The Cardinals may be fending off pursuers for the second wild-card spot. Johnson defiantly said he would not worry about how resting his starters would impact the race.

"I really don't give a rat's [behind] what somebody thinks about my club and who I put on the field," Johnson said. "I'm resting my regulars. End of conversation. I have a lot of confidence in the other guys, too, in that they're fully capable, as they've shown all year long when they've had the opportunity to play. My responsibility is to get my club ready for the next day. But it's happened in the past. I've had criticism. And I've said, 'Fine.' I'm not worried."

• This is worth remembering, as we prepare for the playoffs: The sun monster in the late afternoon is really tough in Washington, writes Amanda Comak.

• The Phillies have no intention of shutting down Roy Halladay, writes Ryan Lawrence.

NL Central

• The Cardinals are now 6-1 in the first seven games of their nine-game Astros-Cubs-Astros sandwich, and it has helped them build their lead in the wild-card race. On Monday, Lance Lynn picked on the Houston Astros.

• Milwaukee has made a valiant run, but the Brewers might be running out of gas: They were crushed by the Nationals on Monday.

• The Astros suffered their 103rd defeat. Their run differential is at minus-218.

• The Pittsburgh Pirates just keep losing.

NL West

• The Los Angeles Dodgers have a lot of hitting issues.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. B.J. Upton is headed toward free agency, as Marc Topkin writes.

2. The Boston Red Sox are sizing up catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

3. David Ortiz wants a respectable deal.

4. Pirates GM Neal Huntington is not planning any staff changes.

5. The first decisions made by the Indians this offseason will be about manager Manny Acta and the front office.

6. The Twins' bullpen could use a boost.

7. Tyler Skaggs has been shut down the Arizona Diamondbacks.

8. The San Francisco Giants have to get ready for the postseason.

Dings and dents

1. St. Louis GM John Mozeliak indicates he doesn't think Rafael Furcal and Lance Berkman will be back for the postseason.
post #8179 of 73000

going to latino night tonight at the phillies game. i know there chances of makin the playoffs are not possible now but ima still go and support the last home series!


Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself !





Team T.A.N   







Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself !





Team T.A.N   





post #8180 of 73000
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
post #8181 of 73000
Braves gonna clinch tonight pimp.gifnthat.gif
post #8182 of 73000
Thread Starter 
Yanks, Mets AND Sox got 0 on the bias? roll.gif
post #8183 of 73000
white sox win in a landslide roll.gif
post #8184 of 73000
Originally Posted by abovelegit1 View Post

Verlander is ridiculous. Easily the best pitcher in the majors at this point.
Old man Pettitte's got a sub 3 ERA? Must be on that Bartolo Colon workout plan. laugh.gif
Is it just me or has Leyland been overworking and disregarding Verlander's pitch count trying to chase down the CWS?
post #8185 of 73000
Originally Posted by mfreshm View Post

Braves gonna clinch tonight pimp.gifnthat.gif

Down 3-2, bottom of the 9th. Goddamn you Donovan Solano.

If we lose, better hope the Reds maintain their lead over the Brewers.
post #8186 of 73000

post #8187 of 73000
Sup Trill

Braves win walk off Freddie Free. Happy for Chipper got to get a Champagne shower.

Lets go Philies. sick.gif
post #8188 of 73000
Originally Posted by mfreshm View Post

Sup Trill
Braves win walk off Freddie Free. Happy for Chipper got to get a Champagne shower.
Lets go Philies. sick.gif

Sup. Yeah it's been awhile for me to post on NT, due to work and school. I'm watching Freddie's walkoff over and over again. pimp.gif

Imagine if we win our next five and the Nats lose their next five by Sunday.
post #8189 of 73000
Congrats to Chipper & the Braves (& their fans). Chipper & gang are going to try & make a run of it before he hangs up the cleats...
post #8190 of 73000

 10 rows from the visitors dugout lastnight in philly. A guy next to me yelled at bryce harper and said "your on steroids" harper turned around and flexed his muscle aha. Also the **** they were saying to werth was classic


Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself !





Team T.A.N   







Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself !





Team T.A.N   





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