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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 287

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Nationals win Game 1 smokin.gif
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post #8583 of 73652
Joey Votto's bp bat...

post #8584 of 73652
Originally Posted by JJs07 View Post

I don't think the huge market suits him. He needs a strong support system around him, and imagine the press he'll get in Boston or LA if he goes through a lengthy slump, or gets caught in a compromising photo (like what happened before)? He'll get eaten up. The clubhouse culture in Colorado should suit him, IMO.

Don't think the Rockies have the resources to throw the money Hamilton is looking for.

Crawford locked up to a 5 year deal, Ethier's 5 year extension kicks in, Kemp seven years left on his deal. We're good.

I don't even think the Angels have room for Hamilton even if Hunter walks: Trout (CF), Bourjos, Wells. I think they bring back Hunter and try to dump Wells somewhere (picking up the tab of course).

That leaves NY or Boston, bad move.
Instagram: backyardlobo
Instagram: backyardlobo
post #8585 of 73652
Originally Posted by wildKYcat View Post

Joey Votto's bp bat...

that sweet spot is more beat than jazmine cashmere's eek.gif
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post #8586 of 73652
Originally Posted by onewearz View Post

Originally Posted by wildKYcat View Post

Joey Votto's bp bat...

that sweet spot is more beat than jazmine cashmere's eek.gif

A+ analogy laugh.gif
Team Mopar
"Mother warned me that there would be men like you driving cars like that."
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"Mother warned me that there would be men like you driving cars like that."
post #8587 of 73652
Just need 1 out in Oaktown... I would not be surprised if Sanchez gets it done tomorrow... He has been pretty good lately and I think the bats will start to explode... If he doesn't get it done, I dont think Scherzer does either and this goes to Game 5... Need to close this series out ASAP
post #8588 of 73652
Both Bay area teams down 0-2.....ouch.

Anything can happen in baseball though, hope some good Game 5s are on the horizon.
Straight Cash Homey
Straight Cash Homey
post #8589 of 73652
The A's are least putting up a fight.

The Giants are just getting steamrolled. It's kind of ironic that the 2 most ridiculed pitchers (at least in the Giants season thread) are the 2 pitchers that are performing well.
post #8590 of 73652
giants just got manhandled.
at least the a's still have home field adv
post #8591 of 73652
Arroyo has been under-rated his whole career.
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I'm not a big fan of this new format.

The team with home field has to start on the road, sure you get a three game series on the back end, but by that point you may already be down 0-2 with you back against the wall. It's not easy to sweep a series at home, even during the regular season.

Liked the 2-2-1 format, yeah, I know they are trying to cut travel days. Still think the team with homefield is at a disadvantage momentum wise. Unless you're the Reds, putting in work pimp.gif
Instagram: backyardlobo
Instagram: backyardlobo
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Thread Starter 
I think it'll be back to normal next year.
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Anyone think Josh Hamilton makes his way to philly this offseason ?


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





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





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post #8596 of 73652
i cant see hamilton going to any of the real big cities considering his past . i see him going somewhere calm , san diego, kansas city , places like that.

maybe i'm naive to these places but i don't think he'll go where theres crack laugh.gif
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Yanks Knicks Jets
post #8597 of 73652
personally i feel its hit or miss with the new divison series format.

if the team with home field advantage manages to split those first 2 road games their in the drivers seat the rest of the way. the other team needs to take 2 outta 3 on the road to win the series.

the yankees and nationals are in real good positions right now because baltimore and st louis have to win twice on the road in 3 straight games to win their respective series and in the case of the giants reds series, cincinnati is in great shape.

granted the A's are in a tough situation but they had their chances in games 1 and 2.
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Thread Starter 
Not even that, it'd be a mistake for him to go to a big market regardless. Look at how Texas handled his misstep this year. It was a five minute press conference and it was over. You think he'd get away with that in NY/Boston/LA? Especially if he happens to be struggling. They'll destroy him.
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exactly, the post would have photoshops of him as a crackhead every chance they got mean.gif
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post #8600 of 73652
This isn't a new format that is staying. They said it had to be done this year because the extra WC spot was added after playoff/playoff travel scheduling was already completed.

Next year will be better.
Straight Cash Homey
Straight Cash Homey
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Thread Starter 
Yea, I think people have been saying it for a week now but no one seemed to get it laugh.gif it'll be back to normal next year with the home field.
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they had this format before prior to 98 for the wild card round. in 95 the wild card yankees won the first 2 games at home against the mariners only to lose the next 3 in seattle.

hell before the whole wild card format they used to rotate home field advantage between the west and east when each league only had 2 divisions. in 1988 the dodgers had home field advantage against the mets in the nlcs even though the mets had a significantly better record then the dodgers. but it the wests turn to have home field advantage that year.

either way however you look at it, mlb has had some weird playoff formats over the years
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eek.gifeek.gifeek.gif the reds look good...........damn good. ...and to any team in our division wanting to throw 100+ at josh, like i said about anaheim wanting CJ, good luck with that.
"what ch'all know 'bout dem Texas boys!?!"
"what ch'all know 'bout dem Texas boys!?!"
post #8604 of 73652
hamilton and the rangers are a perfect fit, he'd be foolish to leave them imo. like said before in here, he wouldn't get a free pass for certain things and be protected by the media as well.

dude is a great player but i personally feel he's a phony. not trying to bring up religion but dude said he'll go "wherever God tells him to go" what if God tells him to sign with the royals or the pirates for the mlb minimum?
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Beltran pimp.gif
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Let Josh come to Oakland, I'm sure he can find ~15K fans attending on a nightly basis manageable.
A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

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St. Louis gave Washington a clinic today.
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Originally Posted by onewearz View Post

i don't think he'll go where theres crack laugh.gif

Hate to break it to you, but there is crack in every major city in America. Especially those places perceived as calm. I know for a fact that Iowa City (I know wrong state, but there is not much but corn separating the two) is one of the higher drug trafficking areas in America.

Certainly there is greater temptation in the New York's, LA's, etc. and the media will definitely mop the floor with him if he has another relapse, but to think that he is going to magically wind up in a safe zone is naïve. Where ever he goes, Arlington included, he's still going to need a hell of a support system.
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Thread Starter 
Two Days in Detroit: Craziness at Comerica.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
It was an eventful weekend in Detroit. The Tigers won the first two games of their ALDS match-up with the Oakland A’s, and the manner in which they did so was pure theater. A lot happened at Comerica Park between six p.m. Saturday and 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Some of it was predictable — Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander showed why they’re leading candidates to capture the MVP and Cy Young — but much of it was downright remarkable. Here are looks at five of the notable storylines.


“It was just emotion. I was happy. When you do something good, you feel happy.” — Al Alburquerque

By now, everyone knows that 26-year-old Tigers’ reliever Al Alburquerque planted a kiss on the baseball before under-handing it to first base to end the top half of a pressure-packed ninth inning. It was a key play in a wild-and-wacky Game Two and opinions are mixed on whether his actions were a case of innocent, youthful exuberance or just as under-handed as his toss.

Not surprisingly, reactions followed party lines. Asked about it after the game, Gerald Laird said “He’s just young and was excited. He didn’t mean anything by it.” Phil Coke’s response was, “I don’t think it’s something that should be viewed as somebody getting showed up. I didn’t think that at all.” Another teammate, Max Scherzer, said, “He’s on a different planet sometimes. I think that’s evident, with him kissing a ball during a game, during the playoffs. It’s just his personality.”

The opposition saw it differently. In a subdued Oakland clubhouse, outfielder Josh Reddick said, “I didn’t think it was very professional. It was something that should be kept off the field and not in between the lines. I don’t think it should happen.” Other A’s players mostly shied away from the question, although it was obvious they weren‘t amused. Catcher George Kottaras said he didn’t see it happen, and that his teammates were mostly focused on going out to the field for the bottom of the inning.

Almost lost in the hullabaloo is the fact that Alburquerque make a good pitch to a dangerous hitter — Yoenis Cespedes — and also make the play. According to Coke, it wasn’t a given.

“I’ve played catch with Albuquerque a number of times, and sometimes he’ll mis-catch the ball,” explained Coke. “I was really excited to see him catch it. In that situation, if he catches it and kisses it, and throws it to first base, I’m all for it. Emotion is part of the game.”


“Please pray for my family. Tonight my wife & I lost our first & only son 23 hours after he was born with no explanation.” — Pat Neshek, Twitter post, October 4.

The emotions Alburquerque felt were nothing compared to what Pat Neshek experienced on Saturday night. Just days after tragically losing his newborn son, the A’s right-hander took the mound in the seventh inning. He retired both batters he faced and upon returning to the dugout was hugged by teammates. It was as brave and emotionally-charged as any relief outing in baseball history.

“I can’t even image what he was feeling and the emotions going through him,” said teammate Brandon Moss. “I would never want to know, nor wish that on anybody. The way that he came out and pitched, and kept his emotions in check, speaks a lot about what kind of man he is. It was pretty impressive. I don’t really have any words for it.”

The A’s took the field this weekend wearing a patch with the initials “GJN” in honor of Gehrig John Neshek.


“The World Series — every game I played in — is like the first day you were in the big leagues. You can’t really feel your feet. That whole [1984] Series was very exciting.” — former Tiger Larry Herndon

Befitting postseason baseball, Comerica Park was both cold and electric on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The temperature hovered around 50 degrees, but most fans were too revved up to care. The seats were a whirl of white towels every time the Tigers threatened, and Miguel Cabrera at bats were greeted with chants of “MVP, MVP.”

The American League MVP award was a hot topic among the contingent of reporters covering the series. Cabrera seems to be the consensus pick. Everyone I talked to showed great respect for Mike Trout’s season, although there was an occasional misguided comment. One reporter [from outside the Detroit market] told me that anyone who doesn’t vote for the Triple-Crown-winning Cabrera deserves to have their voting privileges revoked.

The atmosphere at Comerica Park — and it promises to be the same in Oakland — was as heated as the MVP debate. Players from both teams were commenting on it, with Tigers speedster Quintin Berry providing the best quote.

“There’s so much energy and electricity here with these fans,” Berry said after Game One. “It’s packed out. It’s cold for everybody, so to see them out here, riding it out with you, is pretty special. Usually I get a little energy drink, but today I was not going to do it. I had plenty of energy, man, plenty of energy.”


“I’m definitely not a fan of him right now. I mean, I respect him for sure, but when you’re facing a guy like that, you’re definitely not a fan. He’s out there trying to dominate you.” — Brandon Moss

The reigning Cy Young Award winner pitched like one on Friday night. After allowing a lead-off home run to Coco Crisp, he proceeded to blow away Oakland hitters for seven innings. It was classic Verlander, and a performance that was presciently predicted by a Detroit scribe. Shortly before game time, he suggested that Verlander will give up his usual first-inning home run and then dominate.

Moss struck out three times against Verlander, and according to the A’s clean-up hitter, the right-hander was dealing.

“You have to tip your hat,” said Moss. “I got maybe one pitch from him over the middle of the plate. He painted the outside corner with every pitch he had, all night. No one in here is going to do well against him if he’s doing that. Obviously, the only guy who did do well against him was Coco. If a guy goes out and pitches like that, that’s going to be the score of the game. You have to be ready for 100 all the time, and then he’s got that 88-mph dive-ball that he throws. He is who he is.”


“If it was going to go over the fence it was going to go over the fence. I was just hoping it wouldn’t.” — Joaquin Benoit

Verlander is Verlander and the Tigers bullpen is… a big problem. The demonstrative Jose Valverde — are his antics not more objectionable than Alburquerque’s smooch? — has been effective closing out games. The set-up role has been a different story.

Joaquin Benoit coughed up an eighth-inning lead on Sunday — a wild pitch tied the game and Josh Reddick’s home run put the A’s in front — and he nearly blew Saturday‘s game. What would have been a game-tying blast by Moss was caught by Andy Dirks in front of the right-centerfield wall.

“It’s a big yard,” said Moss. “I knew it had a chance, but I also knew he was going to have a chance to rob it. I saw him about to climb the wall. He didn’t have to. It just stayed in the park.

“He’s got a good changeup and I was a little out in front of it,” continued Moss. “I recognized it when he threw it, but still didn’t quite stay back far enough. It just got to the end of the bat. You try to take the best swing you can, and it stinks that it didn’t go out.”

Tigers fans are aware that a stinky bullpen could be their downfall. I ventured out to the left-field bleachers for the seventh inning of Friday night’s game, and the hot topic was Verlander’s pitch count and how no one could be counted on to protect the lead. If the Tigers are to go far in the postseason, they need to fix that problem. Not doing so could be the kiss of death to their World Series aspirations.

Explaining Miley For NL ROY.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Season-ending awards routinely evoke differing passionate opinions amongst baseball fans, writers, and players. A perfect example of that is the debate as to whether Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera should win the American League MVP, which has continuously raged for the better part of September.

With that in mind, I was surprised to see the overwhelming majority of the FanGraphs staff vote for Bryce Harper as the NL Rookie of the Year over left-hander Wade Miley. While arguments can certainly be made for Harper, I thought Miley had a slightly better resume to be crowned the best rookie in the National League this season.

And, I suppose, that definition is where some of the confusion lies in my part. The Rookie of the Year is defined as the best rookie, not the most valuable rookie. That difference in terminology has always led me to vote for the rookie who compiled the best numbers without giving extra consideration to a position player because they largely play every day, and thus, often provide more value to their respective teams — which is why pitchers rarely win MVP awards.

Perhaps I’m alone in interpreting the award in that fashion. It was surprising, however, to see Wade Miley and Bryce Harper so far apart in the voting, despite identical +4.8 WAR seasons. Miley has the fourth-highest WAR of any pitcher in the National League, while Harper owns the third-highest WAR of any NL center fielder. The numbers are so close. There doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut decision.

Miley played a huge part in salvaging the Diamondbacks’ starting rotation. The team’s two stalwarts from last season — Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson — failed to reproduce their success, due both to ineffectiveness and injury. Kennedy was nothing more than league-league average. He soaked up 200-plus innings, but merely posted a 98 FIP- and a 96 ERA-. Hudson, on the other hand, only made nine starts and saw his season end with Tommy John surgery.

With that in mind, the Diamondbacks needed someone to step up and anchor the rotation. Miley was not only the starter who experienced the most success on the mound, but he averaged 6.4 innings per start. Working consistently deep into games helped save the bullpen from overwork. It’s hard to imagine the Diamondbacks’ bullpen compiling the fourth-best FIP in all of baseball without Miley stepping into the rotation with such a high level of success.

The Diamondbacks’ left-hander also has the advantage in playing time. He spent the entire season in the big leagues, while Harper joined in the last week in April. That is a month’s more value Miley provided his team.

Harper evens the scales, however, with his his defensive value — in which he compiled an +8.9 UZR and one of the best arm numbers (+6.6 ARM) in the league. He’s more than a than just a bat. He augmented the Nationals’ production on both offense and defense, which negates much of the advantage Miley has with stabilizing a rotation in potential crisis and overall playing time.

The tipping point for me comes on a razor-thin point, in which Miley performed better compared to his position than did Harper. Miley’s 76 FIP- means he performed 24% better than the league-average pitcher. Harper, on the other hand, posted an impressive 122 wRC+, meaning he performed 22% better than the league-average hitter. Both statistics are park-adjusted, as well, which helps cut out the background noise of Chase Field being more hitter-friendly than Nationals Park.

In terms of which performance is more objectively impressive, Bryce Harper wins in a landslide. He was essentially a five-win player as a 19-year-old, while Wade Miley did so at 25 years old. Perhaps that comes into play for some people, which is fine. That simply did not affect my evaluation of which player had a statistically better rookie season.

When it came down to it, the race was so close that an extremely minor point swung my favor to Miley. He performed a little better compared to the league average than did Harper. That’s why he got my vote.

Newman’s Own: Best Second Basemen Of 2012.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Seeing prospects in person is my passion. In 2012, I was fortunate enough to visit parks in five different leagues — collecting information and video on 200 legitimate prospects or more. The lists released over the next few weeks will highlight the best prospects I’ve seen in person at each position during the 2012 season. The rankings will be adjusted based on projected position at the major league level, not present position (in italics if ranking includes position shift). Additionally, I’ll do my best to rank based on notes/video from the park and avoid adjusting for statistics after the fact. Keep this in mind when working through the lists and understand this is not meant to be a complete list of the best prospects at each position across all of Minor League Baseball, but the best of what I’ve seen.

Previous Rankings:
The Catchers
The First Basemen
1. Nick Franklin, Seattle Mariners (SS)

At 21, Franklin combines the defensive skills and offensive performance to profile as the highest floor prospect on this list by a wide margin. Young for Double-A and Triple-A competition, Franklin’s PCL numbers translate to .314/.395/.547 against age-appropriate competition. He’s not an impact talent, but one scout compared him to Adam Kennedy whose career stands at 14 years and counting.

2. Angelo Gumbs, New York Yankees

The most explosive athlete on this list, Gumbs oozes tools and has bat speed to spare. Gumbs has a lower floor than a number of second baseman ranked below him on the list, but nobody else has the potential of being an impact talent either. Amazing to think he was the fourth best position prospect on his own team in Charleston.

3. Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins

At 18, Polanco posted a .312/.383/.509 triple slash line in the Appalachian League and fit in nicely amongst fellow prospects on an Elizabethton team featuring up to eight of the Twins top-12. A switch hitter, Polanco appeared equally strong from both sides of the plate during batting practice and took infield reps at shortstop before sliding across the diamond during the game. I always want to see full season baseball on a prospect’s resume before becoming too excited about a player, but Polanco is off to an explosive start.

4. Henry Rodriguez, Cincinnati Reds

Color me enamored with Rodriguez’ hit tool — the best on this list. He’s undersized and may not provide much in terms of power production, but I saw few better pure hitters in 2012. My only real concern about his offensive game is a walk rate which may leave the 22-year old too batting average dependent. If I were an opposing general manager, I’d be inquiring with Brandon Phillips entrenched in Cincinnati.

5. Drew Robinson, Texas Rangers

I went to Greenville with little knowledge of who Drew Robinson was, but left thinking he was one of the better baseball players scouted all season. His tools aren’t loud, but the 20-year old presents with no real weakness in person. “Statifiles” point to Matt Skole‘s .438 OBP as a 22/23 year old in the South Atlantic League, but Robinson’s was .409 at 33 months Skole’s junior. Add a bit of power and the ability to play both second and third base admirably, and Robinson has a higher floor than anybody on this list not named Franklin.

6. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

Mookie or Scooter? Scooter or Mookie? If name value were the name of this game, then the 6th and 7th ranked players on this list would be slam dunks for the top two slots. In all seriousness, Betts has the combination of tools and athleticism I covet in a prospect. For Lowell, Betts presented with the range of a shortstop, but multiple throwing errors made including him on this list an easy decision. I know a .307 slugging percentage is uninspiring, but Betts flashed gap power in game action in addition to above average plate discipline. Combine this with the defensive tools of at least an above average second baseman, and the 19-year old is primed to shoot up the Red Sox prospect ranks with a strong 2013 in Greenville.

7. Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers

If I had a dollar for every time a scout referred to a diminutive prospect as “a nice little player”, I’d be writing baseball for a living. On the field, Gennett is the poster boy for this sentiment as he does everything relatively well, but has no standout skill or tool to speak of. One concern about the 22-year old is that his OPS his dropped steadily each season as he’s moved up the organizational ladder. Gennett’s inability to play shortstop in a pinch hurts a potential utility profile leaving his big league prospects a bit murky should he not emerge as at least a second division starter.

8. Branden Kaupe, New York Mets

How does one spin a .173 average and .195 slugging percentage into a positive? I have no idea, but I’m willing to give it a try. After being a surprise fourth round pick out of a Hawaii high school, Kaupe posted a .358 OBP in his lower 48 debut at a time when he should have been overwhelmed in all areas offensively. The 18-year old has the bat speed, foot speed and build of a Jose Altuve clone if everything breaks right. Having scouted Altuve at the South Atlantic League level, I’m more willing to give a guy like Kaupe a longer leash than I once was.

9. Tony Renda, Washington Nationals

Another “nice little player”, Renda has foot and bat speed to spare, but showed little pop in his short season debut. A second round pick who probably would have gone lower had the Nationals not shot for the moon by drafting Lucas Giolito, Renda has a big league projection, but little upside to speak of. Like Gennett, Renda not being able to play any shortstop hurts his versatility and negatively impacts his prospect value.

10. Jake Lemmerman, Los Angeles Dodgers (SS)

Is Jake Lemmerman a future big leaguer? I think so, but there’s just not much upside in a utility profile these days. He presents with no glaring weakness, but identifiable strengths are not there either. At 23, I’m a bit concerned his baseball skills will fall short of offsetting Lemmerman’s lack of tools leaving a player with more of an up and down profile in the end.

11. Matt Reynolds, New York Mets (SS)

Speaking of utility profiles, Mets second round pick Matt Reynolds also projects as a jack of all trades type with no stand out tool. I commend New York for trying him at shortstop, but he’s probably not long for the position. Maybe he can function as a third shortstop option on a big league roster, but that’s about it. In Savannah, his contact skills were relatively strong, but Reynolds approach is conducive to less power than his muscular frame would indicate.

12. Kenny Diekroger, Kansas City Royals

Once considered one of the top preps in the country, Diekroger struck out a startling 27% of the time in his Appalachian League debut. I can see him developing into a utility player, but he’s a greater risk to meet that projection than the two players ranked ahead of him in Lemmerman and Reynolds. Based on Diekroger’s Stanford pedigree, he should have dominated short season baseball, not struggled in it.

13. Tyler Greene, Philadelphia Phillies

only 19, Green suffered through a disastrous 2012 batting only .195 with a 122/23 strikeout-to-walk ratio across two levels. In Auburn, New York, I witnessed a Williamsport coach dress down Greene after a lethargic infield/outfield practice only to appear disinterested in the actual game. In general, it’s considered a positive for a young prospect to experience failure at the minor league level. However, it’s only a productive exercise if the player matures and improves from that adversity.

Left Side Of Infield Still A Concern For Dodgers.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The Dodgers entered the offseason a little sooner than they expected, but they have already hit the ground running in terms of their offseason planning. While they must await the results of medical exams on both Matt Kemp and Chad Billingsley, they have a pretty good idea of how they expect to attack the offseason, and that is to get after starting pitching. That is a good goal — with Billingsley and Ted Lilly potentially unavailable at the start of the season, and Aaron Harang potentially not good at any time, Los Angeles could use some reinforcements. But general manager Ned Colletti is also planning, at this juncture, to run with the combo of Luis Cruz at third and Hanley Ramirez at shortstop next season. This is a mistake.

The Dodgers were impressed by Cruz down the stretch, and following the ineffectiveness of Dee Gordon the hip injury to Jerry Hairston and Juan Uribe’s general Juan Uribeness, Cruz was a boon for the club on the left side of the infield. The 28-year old Minor League veteran started 48 games at third base, 23 games at shortstop and even tossed in two games at second base for funsies. And while he isn’t going to remind anyone of Miguel Cabrera, he did compile a 107 wRC+. He also finished the season with 119 straight plate appearances without drawing a walk. Cruz’s 3.0 BB% was the third-lowest in baseball among those with at least 250 PA’s this season — only Miguel Olivo, Alexei Ramirez and Pedro Ciriaco walked less frequently on a rate basis.

Instead of drawing walks, Cruz made his hay by making contact — only 30 players had a K% less than that of Cruz’s 11.5 K%. But can Cruz maintain such a low strikeout rate? Anecdotal evidence would suggest not. His swinging strike % this year was 8.3%. Thirteen other players, including his teammates Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez, has an identical SwStr% — all 13 struck out more frequently. Looking at his swing percentages, there were only 11 players who swung at balls outside of the zone more frequently than did Cruz, and 11 of them struck out more frequently as well. In fact, looking at his swing percentages, a trend emerges:

Plate Discipline Percentage Rank
O-Swing % 41.3 12
Z-Swing % 71.3 40
Swing % 55.1 8
O-Contact % 74.3 81
Z-Contact % 92 t-58
Contact % 84.8 73

Only seven people swung at more pitches than did Cruz, but plenty of players made more contact. What that would seem to suggest is that Cruz is about to start striking out more frequently, and as he does he will fall back towards utility player status, if that. He doesn’t have much power to speak of, and given his speed, he’s probably not going to be legging out too many infield singles. Making contact and good glovework are what keep Cruz a viable player of the Dodgers, and if his contact skills erode even a touch, so does most of his value.

Compounding the decision to keep Cruz at third is to insert Ramirez at shortstop for a whole season. There was a reason that Ramirez was moved off of shortstop by the Marlins at the beginning of this season. Ramirez fails the eye test and the stats test at shortstop, and he isn’t exactly Brooks Robinson at third base either — during his nearly 900 innings at third base this season, the UZR/150 he compiled was barely better than Miguel Cabrera. The Dodgers like the idea of premium offense at the shortstop position, but the tradeoff is simply not worth it at this point — Ramirez’s WAR in 2011 and 2012 combined doesn’t equal his 2010 production, and the 4.6 WAR he compiled was, at the time, tied for his worst major league season.

The better play would be to look for a shortstop externally and slide Hanley back to third base. There he can still have value offensively — his 107 wRC+ was just a hair out of the top 10 for qualified third basemen. And while there aren’t a lot of options at third base, there may just be some opportunities at shortstop. My first call would be to Texas, which has two shortstops in Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar. If one were to become available, the Dodgers shouldn’t hesitate to work up a competitive offer. The same situation exists in Baltimore with J.J. Hardy and Manny Machado, unless the Orioles are planning to permanently convert Machado to third base. Perhaps the Indians, who are potentially going to be rebuilding again, would part with Asdrubal Cabrera. Or perhaps the Marlins would be interested in parting with Jose Reyes now that they have decided to once again shed payroll.

On the free agent front, Stephen Drew could be an attractive play if the A’s turn down his option. Drew progressively rounded back into shape as the season drew to a close. Finally, Marco Scutaro is set to become a free agent, and while the Giants would no doubt like to retain him, the Dodgers should have the financial muscle to outbid them for his services. All of these players would be less pumpkin-y than is Cruz, and while some may represent a high price in either cash or prospects, Los Angeles has already passed the point of no return for the foreseeable future.

If the Dodgers fail to net any of these players, a combination of Cruz and Hairston probably won’t make for the worst third base combo in baseball, but it’s certainly not ideal. The Dodgers are trying to restore their former glory and get back to the postseason, and they came very close this season. But that progress shouldn’t fool Los Angeles into thinking that they are merely a couple of starting pitchers away. The left side of the infield remains a concern — the team can’t count on Jerry Hairston to be full strength right away, and they can’t count on Dee Gordon to be productive either. Hanley Ramirez has no business playing shortstop, and while Luis Cruz was good this season, he is unlikely to be as good next season. When the clock strikes midnight for Cruz, the Dodgers may end up with as many questions on the left side of their infield next year as they did halfway through this year.

Iannetta’s California Sojourn Lengthened.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Almost three years ago, the Colorado Rockies signed an extension with their 26-year-old catcher, Chris Iannetta. Iannetta was coming off of two good offensive years for a catcher. Although the team had made him split playing time with Yorvit Torrealbea during 2009, the new contract seemed to indicate that Iannetta was going to be the main guy going forward. It was not to be. Iannetta ended up getting fewer than 700 plate appearances for the Rockies in 2010 and 2011 combined. While he did not exactly light it up as he had in 2008, it was baffling why the Rockies would extend a promising catcher then jerk him around in favor of obvious stopgap players like Miguel Olivo.

Whether the Rockies were right or wrong to do that, by the end of 2011 it was pretty clear that Iannetta had worn out his welcome in Colorado. Wilin Rosario, a prospect who had good power, and (perhaps most attractive to the Rockies) shared Olivo’s aversion to walks and blocking pitches, was ready. The Rockies struck a deal with the Angels after the season that sent Iannetta to the Angels for Tyler Chatwood. For some reason, the Angels had a hole at catcher. Or maybe, given Iannetta’s hitting style, Mike Scioscia just really appreciates irony. In any case, despite Iannetta’s injury-marred season, rather than making a decision on Iannetta’s club option for 2013, the Angels replaced it with a three-year, $15.5 million contract last Friday.

As far as hitting goes, it now seems pretty clear that Iannetta’s .264/.390/505 (129 wRC+) line back in 2008 was pretty far over his head. However, while his strikeouts and flyball tendencies will generally lead to a low average due to a relatively low number of balls in play and a low average on those that do go into play, Ianetta has generally had enough walks and pop in his bat to be a decent hitter for a catcher. Sure, that 78 wRC+ in 2010 is ugly, but that is only one season, and a small sample (223 PA) of a season at that. In 2009, his wRC+ was 99, in 2011, it was 105. His 2012 line (.240/.332/.398) superficially looks as poor as 2010, but once one makes the adjustment for moving from the league’s best hitters park to the Angels’ pitchers park, it was worth about the same as 2011 relative to the run environment: 103 wRC+. The drop in power the last two seasons is a bit troubling, but Iannetta still has some power and draws walks. He looks like he can be a league average bat for at least the time being, and given that he is a catcher, that qualifies as good offense.

Of course, “good offense” has not really been a big part of the job description for Angels catchers the last few years. At least not if they wanted to actually play catcher. Iannetta has sometimes looked awkward behind the plate, but while (admittedly limited) catcher fielding metrics are overly fond of him, they do not see him as a black hole of catcher defense, as least as far as pitch-blocking and controlling the running game go.

There are other aspects of the catcher’s job, of course. Some, such as game-calling, are difficult to measure. Maybe Scioscia likes what Iannetta does with that, I do not know. However, what is pretty interesting is that in one of the formerly seemingly-inscrutable aspects of catching, Iannetta is actually pretty bad. We do not have any updated numbers for 2012 (at least that I have seen), but frmo 2007-2011, Iannetta was one of the worst pitch framers in baseball, costing the Rockies about 10 runs per 120 games caught. That is not to say that 10 runs below average is his true talent, but simply to note that it does cut into his value. (Jeff Sullivan’s reflections on this in the case of Zack Greinke are worth checking out if you haven’t already.)

Playing time and the lingering effects of his injury may or may not be an issue. On one hand, Iannetta has only played more than 100 games twice in his career: 112 in 2011 and 104 in 2007. On the other hand, most of that time was not missed due to injury, but due to the awesomeness of Yorvit Torrealbea and Miguel Olivo. And even coming off of the injury, he still managed decent offense for a catcher.

Overall, $5 million dollars a year for a player who is probably around league average is a nice deal these days. Given that the Angels reportedly are planning on turning down Dan Haren and Ervin Santana‘s options, so that will free up some money. Of course, that money might be slated for a run at Zack Greinke, but ifthe Angels are going to keep spending like that, then $5 million dollars for a catcher is chump change, especially given their lack of depth at the position.

While this contract is hardly thrilling, it does make sense for the Angels. I do, however, expect that the Hank Conger Fan Club will be furious.

Josh Hamilton: Most Confusing Free Agent Ever?
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
On Friday, the Rangers season ended, as the team fell to the Baltimore Orioles in the AL Wild Card play-in game. Josh Hamilton, in what will quite possibly be his final at-bat as a Texas Ranger, was booed by the home crowd. From an outside perspective, a break-up seems inevitable. The Rangers — and their fans — seem to just be tired of the Josh Hamilton Experience.

On one hand, the frustration is understandable. Back in May, I wrote a piece noting that Hamilton’s combination of approach and success were historically unique. That he was destroying opposing pitchers while showing the plate discipline of a three-year-old was fascinating. Then opposing pitchers adjusted, they simply stopped him throwing him anything near the plate, and Hamilton went into an epic two month slump. In August, Hamilton rebounded a bit, and he and his coaches both suggested that he’d made the necessary changes to his approach, even though the evidence suggested otherwise.

Not surprisingly, the success didn’t last, and any notion that Hamilton had made any strides with his pitch selection issues were dashed in the final month of the year, as his monthly totals illustrate:

Mar/Apr 96 7% 18% 0.349 0.403 211
May 111 11% 20% 0.438 0.323 202
Jun 107 11% 33% 0.213 0.309 91
Jul 91 9% 23% 0.177 0.175 48
Aug 125 9% 24% 0.265 0.364 148
Sept/Oct 106 9% 35% 0.298 0.320 122

In the final four months of the season, Hamilton struck out 123 times in 429 trips to the plate, a strikeout rate of 28.7%. During that stretch, he hit .245/.322/.487. For comparison, Alfonso Soriano hit .262/.322/.499 this year and only struck out in 24.9% of his plate appearances. While Hamilton blew Soriano away in April and May, the lasting memory of Josh Hamilton to Rangers fans is a four month stretch of baseball where Hamilton was basically Alfonso Soriano. No wonder they’re not banging down the doors to sign up for another five years of that.

And yet, April and May happened too. We can’t just ignore that for the first two months of the season, Hamilton hit .368./.420/.764 and was the best player on the planet. He was the same aggressive swing-at-anything guy then that he’s always been, but he managed to keep his strikeout rate down to just 18.8% and launch 21 homers in 47 games. It obviously wasn’t sustainable, but then again, neither was his July collapse. The truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle.

And, judged as a whole, Hamilton’s season was actually quite good. He played in 148 games and racked up 636 plate appearances, answering some questions about whether he was too fragile to be an everyday player. In those 148 games, he produced +4.4 WAR, his third straight season posting a +4 win season or better. His 139 wRC+ was slightly higher than his career mark of 135. Even heading into his age-32 season, it’s hard to project him as worse than a +4 win player, and there aren’t a lot of +4 win players just hanging around free agency this year.

Just based on straight production, he’s probably in line for $20-$25 million per year, depending on the length of the deal offered. But, perhaps no premium free agent in recent history came with as many question marks as Hamilton does.

Can he get his strikeout rate back down with his current approach at the plate? Can he learn to stop swinging at pitches two feet off the plate? Is his body up to staying in the outfield, or does he project as a first baseman after another year or two? Do you want to guarantee years beyond age 35 for a guy with a history of addiction?

Hamilton makes Jose Reyes look like a rock of stability, and Reyes had to settle for just $17 million per year even after having a +6 win season at age 28. And, by all accounts, the Mets actually wanted Reyes back. It’s not clear that the Rangers actually do want Hamilton back, given his second half fade and the issues that go along with having him as the foundation of their line-up. And so, it seems like Texas is going to let him see what the market will bear, then decide whether they want to give him a similar deal in order to keep him around. This is the strategy they employed with C.J. Wilson last year, and of course, he ended up in Anaheim.

But, it also seems possible that Josh Hamilton’s market may never develop. This feels a little reminiscent of Andruw Jones after the 2007 season, where Atlanta just tired of his weight gain and underperformance — and he eventually settled for 2/40 from the Dodgers after teams decided that the risks weren’t worth the reward. Jones’ 85 wRC+ that year also had something to do with it, of course, and Hamilton will certainly do better than 2/40, but how much better is something of an open question. His track record and age suggest that a long term deal is probably not a great idea, so even an aggressive suitor is probably going to top out at five years, and there very well may not be an aggressive suitor for Josh Hamilton this winter. The Yankees don’t seem to need him. The Red Sox seem unlikely to take a big bet on another potentially unlikeable player with a big contract. The Dodgers outfield is full. Unless the Tigers fall short in the playoffs and decide to pony up for one more big bat to take a run at a title, it’s hard to find too many situations where a team will be motivated to offer Hamilton a huge contract.

And, if he’s sitting on the market in January without any real options, the Rangers could potentially be his best landing spot. Which, again, brings up the question of whether they even want him back.

I could see Hamilton getting 5/125 from a team that decides to just ignore the risk and land the best offensive player on the market this winter. I could see Hamilton remaining a free agent until January before signing a one year deal somewhere to try and prove that his second half wasn’t a sign of things to come. Like with Hamilton on the field, his free agent outcomes cover the entire spectrum of possibilities. Perhaps that’s only fitting for a guy who and can end a 43-home-run season being booed by his home crowd.

The Yankees and Orioles: Who’s the Underdog?
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
If you’ve made your way to FanGraphs — and if, furthermore, our demographic data is even half accurate — you’re the sort of person who either (a) has done well in school or (b) is currently doing well in school. Which, that means you’re probably also the sort of person who (a) has taken a number of quizzes before and also (b) has done well on those same quizzes — and maybe even (c) actively enjoys taking quizzes.

All of which suggests that the reader will be giddy with excitement to take this important baseball quiz:

Important Baseball Quiz

“Hilarious” is the word, I believe, for which the reader is searching.

Apart from eliciting the heartiest possible guffaws, however, this quiz has a rhetorical purpose: were we able to remove responses from fans of both the Yankees and Orioles, it’s likely that ca. 80% of readers will have picked the latter here — or, roughly the same portion of participants from a 1991 study who, given the choice between two teams and all other things being equal, picked the underdog.

Of course, it’s at this point that an entirely reasonable person might ask, “How do we know the Baltimore Orioles really are the underdog in their ALDS series against the New York Yankees — and, if one were interested in that question, how might he answer it?”

By at least four ways, is how — as follow.

Answer One
The first answer is that the Orioles are an underdog in this series insofar as they (a) haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 1997 (while their opponents have only missed qualifying for the playoffs once since then), (b) have spent considerably less on their roster than their opponent (by about $110 million, or the cost of the entire Cardinals roster), and (c) were considered by many — including the very expert authors of this site — to be one of the weakest organizations in the majors entering the season.

For all of these reasons, the Orioles are underdogs when a wider context is considered.

Answer Two
With regard to another sense of the question — that is, whether the Orioles are less likely to win this series against the Yankees, specifically — the answer to that question is, “Let’s consider that in more depth.”

One way the Orioles might be considered an underdog is if sportsbooks are offering higher payouts for them than for the Yankees.

And, look: as of Sunday afternoon, a $1.00 bet on the Yankees to win the ALDS returns about $0.42, according to Pinnacle Sports (a sportsbook that appeals to sharp, or smart, bettors, as opposed to square ones). A $1.00 bet on the Orioles? About $2.14.

These odds suggest about a 69% chance of victory for the Yankees, about 31% for the Orioles.

By this criterion, the Orioles are underdogs.

Answer Three
Here’s another way of assessing the Orioles’ chances of winning the ALDS: by using seasonal runs scored and allowed to calculate their odds of winning the series.

The Orioles scored 4.40 runs per game this year and allowed about 4.35. The Yankees scored 4.96 per game this year and allowed 4.12. The average American League team scored 4.40 runs and (because of interleague play) allowed fewer, 4.35 runs per game.

Using simple indices relative to league average, we’d assume that the Yankees offense would typically score about 4.93 runs against the Orioles pitching and defense, while the Orioles would score 4.14 runs against the Yankees. A team that scores 4.14 runs per game and allows 4.93 would win about 42% of the time.

Game by game, and including an adjustment for home-field advantage, here’s how the series would play out using the figures above:

Game Home BAL NYA
1 BAL 46.3% 53.7%
2 BAL 46.3% 53.7%
3 NYA 38.3% 61.7%
4 NYA 38.3% 61.7%
5 NYA 38.3% 61.7%
Total — 34.3% 65.7%

By this measure, the Orioles have only about a 34% chance of winning the series — better than even a sharp sportsbook like Pinnacle is implying, but not by much. They are still decidedly underdogs.

Answer Four
Here’s a thing, though: seasonal totals for runs scored and allowed are likely not representative of a team’s present true talent or roster construction. In fact, the Orioles were one of baseball’s best teams in September and October — not merely by record, but also by run-scoring and -prevention.

So, here’s a different way of assessing the Orioles’ chances of winning the ALDS: by using only September and October runs scored and allowed and then projecting odds of winning and losing the series using just those numbers.

Over the last month-plus of the regular season, Baltimore scored 5.10 runs per game and allowed just 3.61; New York, 5.61 and 4.16 runs, respectively.

Using those numbers, we’d expect the Yankees to score around 4.62 against the Orioles, with the Orioles actually scoring more now, at 4.84 runs. All things being equal, the Orioles would have about a 52% chance of winning a game against the Yankees held at a neutral site.

Game by game, and including an adjustment for home-field advantage, here’s how the series would play out using only September and October runs scored and allowed:

Game Home BAL NYA
1 BAL 57.3% 42.7%
2 BAL 57.3% 42.7%
3 NYA 47.4% 52.6%
4 NYA 47.4% 52.6%
5 NYA 47.4% 52.6%
Total — 52.6% 47.4%

By this measure, the Orioles actually aren’t underdogs, but slight favorites.

By at least one criterion — i.e. a game-by-game projection of the ALDS using runs scored and allowed from September and October only — the Yankees might be considered slight underdogs for the series. By at least three other criteria, however — including within a larger context that considers the Orioles’ mediocrity over the last decade-plus and the relatively surprising nature of their 2012 season — it’s the Orioles who are decided underdogs, and it’s based upon this criterion that most neutral fans will likely make their pick for whom to root in the ALDS between Baltimore and New York.

Series Schedule
For reference, here’s the series schedule as it stands on Sunday afternoon:

Away Tm Time Tm Home Game
CC Sabathia NYA Oct 7, 18:07 ET BAL Jason Hammel 1
Andy Pettitte NYA Oct 8, 20:07 ET BAL Wei-Yin Chen 2
Miguel Gonzalez BAL Oct 10, TBD NYA Hiroki Kuroda 3
Joe Saunders BAL Oct 11, TBD NYA Phil Hughes 4
Jason Hammel BAL Oct 12, TBD NYA CC Sabathia 5
post #8610 of 73652
Nationals got thumped. They are heading home where they play better baseball. Three game series now.

Big day for the Bay Area and their ball clubs. I hope to see some victories and series go to Game 5s.
Straight Cash Homey
Straight Cash Homey
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