Friday, September 11, 2009

Best of the Best of the Worst

Alright, I was able to come up with an easier way to look at the best and worst category weeks ever than just scrolling through 22 pages of scores, so here's the result.



So the average category is little different from the roto ranks presented earlier this week. The Best and Worst are whats interesting to me here. Should probably have accounted for the all-star week for all the counting categories, but, you can probably assume that a good chunk of the worsts are from that week.

I'll break it down by category.

Runs:
Best Best: by Burt and Chaos
Best Range: 41 to 48.
Worst Worst: Chaos
Worst Range: 11 to 19.

Best and Worst by the same team. Crazy. Not a lot of disparity.

HR:
Best Best: Barry Jive
Best Range: 12-18
Worst Worst: LLL and Dunbars
Worst Range: 1- 7

Tots worst was 5? Man, they should have done better in this league. I mean, HRs mean Rs and RBI. He must be terrible at this. And somehow I missed that the Bulls always have at least 7 HRs. Man, that's formidable.

RBI:
Best Best: Barry Jive
Best Range: 38-56
Worst Worst: Wangdoodles
Worst Range: 7-18

Best had a huge range with 3 people over 50, 6 in the 40's and 1 under 40. A bunch of teams had worsts around 11-14. The Bulls again kicked everyone's worst ass with 18. 7 RBI for the Doodles? Really?

SB:
Best Best: Burt Reynolds
Best Range:7-18
Worst Worst: 0 - 2
Worst Range: Several at zero (BJ, FU, FD, OC, TS)

Stolen bases, along with saves, tend to be a flightly category with crazy week to week fluxuations. 3 of the 5 teams in the playoffs have a weekly best of less than 10.

AVG:
Best Best: Wangdoodles
Best Range: .317 to .365
Worst Worst: Limber Lesbian Lefties
Worst Range: .197 to .247

The Wangs worst was only about .050 lower than average, while the Lefties were about .100 left.

K:
Best Best: Who the hell you think
Best Range: 52-95
Worst Worst: Organized Chaos
Worst Range: 13 - 33

I am more than a little shocked that Burt had the 2nd worst worst K week. Also, the BJ's and Dunbars worst was 33, which I partially attribute to both of us checking our teams and rotating in starters on a daily basis.

W:
Best Best: Burt
Best Range: 5-10
Worst Worst: FU, OC, and WW
Worst Range: 0-2

I'm surprised I never topped 5 wins in a week. Only Burt had a worst as high as 2, everyone besides the 3 worst worsts listed had a week with 1 win. 1 stupid win.

SV
Best Best: Burt
Best Range: 4 - 13
Worst Worst: BT, FU, LLL, OC, WW
Worst Range: 0 -2

Half the dang league has had a week without a save. Speaks to the randomness of saves and the value of having at least a closer or two in head to head leagues (you'll play at least 4 of those 5).

ERA
Best Best: Dunbars
Best Range: 2.686 to .923
Worst Worst: Fairyland Unicorns
Worst Range: 7.412 to 5.211

Not a lot to say here, except there's some extreme variation from high to low (and from average to either extreme). Also, the lowest worst ERA belongs to the Reynolds, so I make the leap of logic that the sheer totals of pitching were able to mitigate some of the extremely bad performances of any one or 12 pitchers.

WHIP
Best Best: Chaos
Best Range: .761 to 1.094
Worst Worst: Wangdoodles
Worst Range: 1.839 to 1.527

As WHIP is not the easiest category to visualize, I'm having trouble figuring out if there wasn't a lot of variation or if there was a crapload of it and I just don't get it. I don't feel like standardizing the numbers to find out. That's all I'm saying about this category, so no analysis.

Best Wins by Amount:
10: Bulls and Barry
9: Burt, Uni, Dunbars, Limber
8: Tots
7: Chaos and Doodles
6: Selleck

I had not to this point realized that the Sellecks best week resulted in barely winning. That's bad. Real bad.

Least Wins by Amount:
3: Burt
2: Dunbars, Bulls
1: BJ, FU, LLL
0: BT, OC, TS, WW

The worst the Burts ever did in wins was half of the best the other staches ever achieved.

I'll ignore losses because its mostly the opposite of wins.

Ties: The best line just shows the most ties you ever had a week.

Most ties ever by amount:
3: LLL, OC, WW
2: BT, BR, FU, FD, HB, TS
1: Barry Jive

I don't know why I was allergic to ties this season, but apparently I repelled them like sweater vests to pretty girls.

Here's a roto of just the teams best best in each category:


Not a lot of surprises here except that both OC and the Doodles both had some crazy good weeks in one category at a time, thus jumping them up in these roto rankings.


And here's a roto of the worsts.



This, along with the above look at each category, leads me to the idea that the Bulls have been the most consistent team this year. Even his bad weeks weren't ever uncompetitive. As I said a post ago, Burt and Barry were both pretty consistently good, but have had hot and cold streaks.

All this is another way of showing that the Unicorns are never, ever, great, sometimes terrible but they still have a good chance of winning the league.













I'll write about this later, but I wanted to get these pics up.






Thursday, September 10, 2009

Brew Plop Weekly Wins



Alright, here's the weekly wins numbers I was able to whip together for my lunch break.

What you see is the division standings if we used winner take all scoring instead of 10 individual games per week. The W-L-T columns were based solely on whether your win total for the week was greater, less than or equal to your loss total (so 5-5-0 is a tie, but 5-4-1 is not).

Next is the winning percentage from this reality, then your actual winning percentage, and lastly a + or - to indicate whether you would have been better or worse off for that time period using the winner take all system.

Not surprisingly, everyone who ended up with winning records for the year would have done better with the winner take all while everyone with losing records would have done worse. There was more nuance in the first half, as the Sellecks and Wangdoodles would have done better and the Bulls and Unicorns would have been worse. All told though, the rankings would remain the same.

Barry Jive and the those Limber Lefties both managed a half a season where they won 8 of 11 games. To put that in perspective, 3 teams were unable to win 8 weeks of the full season of 22, with another just hitting that mark. Organized Chaos managed a league low 1 weekly win for the second half of the season, which, may or may not be a large factor in the OC having the overall league high of 16 losses (next closest were the Sellecks with 13, so OC wins losses in a landslide).

Four teams (Bulls, FU, Reynolds and LLL) had better second halfs than first, while the other five teams had worse (though the Dunbars had almost exactly the same half twice).

More Brew Plop Summaries



Alright, this chart is probably way too large to view in a blog, but you wanted it and you got it. (You should be able to click on it to view it in a new window, or find your own way to do the same thing).

The chart above shows the percentage of time a team won a particular category in both the first half, second half, and total.

At the end of each line is my subjective W-L-T based on your percentages (I think I went 44-56 is a tie), followed by your actual winning percentage for that time period.

Let's go team by team:

Barry Jive: The first half of the season, I locked up R, HR, and RBI at the expense of steals. In the second half, I cooled off a bit as now I have toss ups in R, HR, and SB, but still win RBI more than I lose. My pitching, especially starters, were better in the second half. Overall, the only category I didn't have much chance in was SB at the beginning, but that has changed going into the playoffs.

Tom Selleck: Went from as much good as bad with a few toss ups in the first half to mostly bad in the second (something about a daughter or something, I'm just saying that extra kids never seemed to deter Bobby). Basically, Pujols won HRs for the lesser staches, and that was the bright point.

Limber Lesbian Lefties: Improved in nearly every category in the second half of the season, which resulted in edging into the playoffs with little wiggle room. Second half was as dominant as just about anyone and has a chance to make a good playoff run, unlike his Angels if they have to play the Red Sox in the first round again.

Burt Reynolds: The offense was as terrible as pitching was plentiful in the first half, but something clicked in the second half that made the greater stache more competitive in the hitting categories. The second half winning percentage was the second best half in the league, partly because of destroying the top two teams head-to-head. Not sure how it happened, but even with the streaming, the team traded complete dominance of the counting pitching stats in the first half, for just strong showings, but added relevance in the average pitching stats.

Fairyland Unicorns: As average in the second half as the first. This team basically defines "just good enough". Not a single dominant category, but I guess always being competitive in all 10 categories wins you some games.

Wangdoodles: Without changing the roster, the team went from dominant in SB to losing most weeks. On the flip side, the power categories went from awful to just bad. Did manage not to win saves once (did tie 0-0 once, which is something).

Organized Chaos: One of the two team names seems to describe this team better than the other, but I can't figure out exactly which. This team was... bad, and then got worse, as more and more of the "contributors" left the playing field without losing their spot in the starting roster.

Fighting Dunbars: Gained SB in the second half, but lost R, RBI, and AVG in the process. On the flip side, improved in every pitching category in the second half, to the point where he was a favorite for those five each week. Behind the Lesbians, perhaps the biggest turn around from 1st to 2nd half. Ran out of time, but made a serious run at the playoffs near the end.

Blithe Tots: Informed me that love would die if I didn't post more analysis. Hard to see exactly what happened besides falling off the cooling coattails of Raul Ibanez. Wasn't much worse in the second half, but all the toss ups seemed to go the other guys way. Managed to lose a playoff spot with just a few weeks to go, before making a last ditch failed effort to claw his back in. I changed his name on the league page, because I actually prefer Blithe Tots to the alternative.

Hackensack Bulls: There may be no Einar Diaz, but this team was probably the most consistently good. While BJ and the Burt both had more dominant half seasons, his winning percentage was the 2nd best in both periods, so that explains how he ended up with the big numbers. The offense was great in both halves, though he somehow swapped a tossup in average for almost dominance in SB. The pitching went from 4 of 5 tossups to only 2 of 5 tossups, which probably helped create the season long hot streak.

Up next is probably weekly wins. We'll see.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Brew Plop Final Regular Season Analysis



I'll put a bit of prose here, but mostly, there will be a lot of graphs outlining different ways of looking at the 2nd set of regular season final standings (no analysis from last year).

First are the normals:


Nothing all that surprising here, as the standings haven't changed drastically since the Bulls caught and passed the Uptown Five after 17-18 weeks.

The one flip-flop in the standings comes in the 2-3 spots because the ranks I'm using don't account for divisions. Burt Reynolds won the Lager division handily, but remains 4.5 games behind the Bulls for the 2nd best regular season record.

Not sure if this means anything, but the team with the best record in the league has the least number of ties (6) while the 2nd best team has the most ties (17).

There's an extreme drop-off after the #7 Dunbars, as no team was ahead of the next more than the Dunbars over the Wangdoodles (18). In fact, no other team was 10 behind the next best team.

With 10 wins a week and 22 weeks, I count 220 possible wins. Of the 10 teams, 3 won more than half the possible games, a 4th won exactly half of the possible games and another 2 won more games than they lost. Only one team made it to a .600 winning percentage and only one team managed to have less than a .400 winning percentage.

Next up, the "what would our league look like in Roto mode" standings:




http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2608/3897634301_2243c9f4bc_o.jpg
Reynolds would win the roto standings, though its recognizable that the standings are largely skewed by the starting pitching streaming. The Bulls are probably the most balanced team, at least of the contenders. The Dunbars would make huge leaps up in the standings, and again, somehow, the Unicorns would fall from their charmed existence.

Number of Categories the Team is in the overall top 3 for:

BR: 6
HB: 5
BJ: 5
FD: 1
LLL: 4
BT: 3
WW: 4
FU: 0
OC: 2
TS: 0

Put this way, its most surprising that the Unicorns made the playoffs and somewhat surprising that the Wangdoodles did not. However, that would ignore a whole lot of other important factors like, you know, having players playing and not a bunch of DLers.

Friday, July 31, 2009

I say F**K YOU Jobu

So, I've tried to write a lot this in blog, at least before my personal big move. In the last few months, I've spent most of my writing on baseball time preparing updates for the fantasy leagues I manage, which I find much more interesting as of late (perhaps because I'm doing well in those leagues and the teams I follow are, um, not doing as well in the real standings). It has been just over a month since my last entry and there's a good chance this will be the last post.

I knew when the Indians traded Cliff Lee there was a chance that Victor would go next. I decided to deny the inevitable and think that saving money on Cliff Lee would give the Indians enough money to pay Victor Martinez after the 2010 season (or perhaps an extension before the start of the 2010 season).

Trading Martinez was, on a gut level reaction, the last straw for me. Being a roaming fan, I have to make an active effort to watch Indians games, which I have still done despite the Indians being no where near contention. That is largely over, and I have, more than once, asked friends for advice about changing allegiances. The truth is, I no longer have a regional connection to Cleveland, and I spent a lot longer time period in Cincinnati. I have always followed the Reds, but not nearly with the same passion and attention that I have followed the Indians over the last 9-10 years. I never felt like a bandwagon fan in following the Indians because it was mostly based on where I was in life and the availability of Indians information. Not to mention, I started following the Indians in the first season they missed the playoffs in several years. I've only seen the Indians in the playoffs twice, once for a cup of coffee in 2001 and a great run in 2007, which now seems like ages too far away.

In those years, I've enjoyed seeing players develop and rooting for new faces, but at this point, the rebuilding is just too much for too little gain. I watched 6 years of rebuilding result in one good season, and I don't think I should expect this rebuilding effort to have any greater level of success.

In short, I spent the most on Indians apparel and such within the last year that I ever have and the same can be said for the amount of money spent on Indians related items for me. Which is even sadder for me, because I would feel stupid bothering and stupider for having put any money, much less time and interest, into the team and its well being.

I've watched as my brother's adopted team, the Red Sox, has won two world series, one at the direct expense of the Tribe. I have made several (I was going to say countless, but that's not true as the count is either 4 or 5) bets with my brother on the head to head matchups between the Red Sox and the Indians and each time I have come out for the worse. Just a few days back, I told my brother, who has often referred to the Indians as the Red Sox's farm team, that I would never forgive him if the Sox traded for Martinez. My brother assured me that wouldn't happen. I said I knew, meaning that I would eventually forgive him, but he assured me that the trade was unlikely to go through.

A few days later and I can't blame my brother, so I don't. I can come close, as he's more upset about his favorite player on the Sox, Varitek, then overjoyed at getting my favorite player. I don't blame him and at this point it would be worthless to blame him (I guess at any point really). What I am, however, is completely uninterested in the Indians for at least the rest of this year, which I've never been before the end of September. Not only that, I'm not sure that I will gain any interest in the next season, as the GM of the Indians, Mark Shapiro, has already publically stated that the Indians are unlikely to contend in 2010 and have only a remote possibility for 2011.

So if I ignore the team for a season and a half, what reason would I have to come back?

If anyone still checks this, write some suggestions on other teams I should follow and why.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Team Salaries

Finally taking a look at current team salary estimates.

First, here's a graph of the projected team salaries.



There are some surprises here (to me at least). Everyone knows that the Yankees are the highest in salaries, but I was surprised to find the Red Sox a lowly 4th. I suspected the Mets were up there, but didn't realize how high the Cubs payroll had gotten.

On the low end, I am amazed by how extremely low the Marlins total remains. 8 of the players on their 25 man roster are making the league minimum ($400,00) and another 7 are making less than $1 million.

Beyond that, The Padres remain quite low as well, especially considering Jake Peavey makes $11 mill and Brian Giles makes $9 mill. Add in Chris Young at over $4 and you have half the payroll in 3 players.

For a point of reference, the Yankees paid about $34 million in luxury tax in 2005, or just $3 million less than the Marlins actual payroll this year. This year, the Yankees are likely to be the only team over the "luxury" cap of $162 million. As the evil empire has broken the cap more than 3 years, they get charged the max rate of 40%. I believe that is on just the portion over the cap. If so, the Yankers can expect to pay another $16 million this year.

I digress, since I mean this as a scathing indictment on the Marlins, not the Yankees (who I will talk about later). MLB has a revenue sharing system of some sort, but they haven't released numbers on how much is shared and where it comes from or where it goes since 2006 (2007 numbers were partially leaked, but not readily available).

At that point in time, the lowest teams (Marlins and Rays w/Devil) were receiving over $30 million. Assuming that number has gone up or at least stayed the same, than the highest paying teams are paying no less than 80% of the Marlins payroll. Why doesn't this franchise work? I know they've won two world series, but they have no fan base, which is that much worse considering they have won two world series in a little over the past decade.

Anyway...

Since I have been obsessed with normalizing things lately, I converted the salaries to z-scores and made a graph to see if the salary structure resembles a normal or bell curve.


Overall, there is a somewhat normal shape to the payroll distribution with a few expections near the very top and mid to bottom. The Yankees are an extreme upward outlier, which is no surprise. Their z-score is 3.4, nearly double the next team's score (Mets at 1.77). In the current situation, the Yankees are the only technical outlier, but there seems to be a bigger issue. While the Yankees stick way the hell out there, it is not easy to notice the other teams creeping up. I figured the crazy high outlier was pulling the entire curve to the right, but it turns out that the Yankees are not the only actor here.

The Mets and Cubs are not outliers when the Yankees are in the calculation. If you either take the Yankees out of the equation completely, or give them a average payroll around $80 million, then the Mets (extremely) and Cubs (barely) become the outliers.

There are no negative outliers in either case, but I believe this is because there are a 3 teams (Pirates, Padres and Marlins) under the $50 million mark that are grouped within $12 million of each other though they remain at least $12 million under the next tier.

Looking back at the top, the differences between the almost top tier (Tigers are #5 overall at $115) and the next teams are much higher yet no where near each other. The Red Sox at #4 are $16 higher, the Cubs are at #13 higher than the Sox, the Mets are another $13 above the Cubbies and again, the Yankees are an astounding (to beat a dead something) $54 million higher than the Mets.

The difference from 1-5 is over $85 million, which is the larger than the difference from 5-30. Ignore the Yanks for a moment and look at the difference between 2-5 ($32). Take the same difference below 5 and you end up at 14 . Take $32 off again and you go from 14 all the way to 27.

I do not mean to say who is right and who is wrong (yet, that will be another post). But the differences here are almost unfathomable.

Especially given that when I regressed payroll versus number of wins, it only explained about 10% of the difference between winning and losing, with no real clear cut correlation between money and wins.

Monday, June 22, 2009

More on Standardized Scores

(click for full pic, its a wide one)

Thought I would keep looking at standardized scores, so here is the would be standardized scores for another one of my fantasy leagues, this one a head-to-head league.

So, as discussed below, I standardized the point totals within each category to see what would happen. A lot of the standings remain unchanged, but 2 teams would move much higher in the standings while 1 team would plummet.

As highlighted in green, there are 5 relative outliers (anything higher than an absolute value of 1.96). It is interesting that all 5 outliers are negative (remembering that ERA and WHIP are reverse categories, so the best teams are below average in those categories).

An extreme difference lies between the top two teams (above average in 9 of 10 categories) and the bottom team (below average in all 10 categories). It is truly amazing that the Pawn Shop Ninjas are so far above average in all five offensive categories as well as strikeouts and wins.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Well, I'm an idiot

So, in my last post I did some work with standardizing scores. I'll leave it up because I'm an idiot.

When I was adding up standardized scores, I didn't take into account negative categories, where lower is better than higher (Losses, ERA, WHIP) so my rankings got all switched around.

I started playing with this idea because the (wrong) results were pretty cool and caught my mistake today.

Here are the same tables from the last post in their corrent form. (Again, click links to see the full pic).

Basically there was no movement in the standings except a few people who were close in the standings would flip. Whoopity-do!

Also, my all Steals, no pitching idea would flop horribly.

The no pitching would actually not be the horrible part. Because there are 3 negative categories in the league, I would be on the good side of an outlier for those, but would be on the bad side for the three positive categories (W, K, SV). If I dropped my pitching stats to 0 in the above league, I would have a +.86 combined z-score for pitching as opposed to the -.75 I currently have. The overall swing would be 1.61 or so and would jump me from 6th to 4th.

On the hitting front though, any gains in SB, even if I managed a standardized score over 3, would be more than counteracted by losses in RBI and HR, not to mention the OPS we use in that league.

What a failure of a day and post.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Standardized Scores

So, the past few weeks I've been mathing up the couple of fantasy leagues I manage. Mostly, I've been converting weekly head-to-head play results into rotisserie league scores. In the league I've been in the longest, we are already rotisserie, so converting to head-to-head isn't all that easy or informative so I didn't do it. What I did think about was the ranking system.

In most rotisserie leagues, your accumulation of a certain stat is ranked against your peers. You are then assigned a number to go along with that rank, but the current system does not account for incremental changes at all. In a ten team league, the person with the best whatever gets 10 points and the next gets 9. If doesn't matter if the person in first is ahead of the next place by 1 run or 200 runs, they can only get 1 more point than the second place person.

I decided to look at what would happen if you gave out points based on standardized (z-scores) instead of ranks and here are the full results (click pic to see full pic).

And here are the much more managable summary results (no individual categories) (again click for full somewhat readable table).


First, it is amazing how much movement there would end up being in the standings. The current 5th place team rises, and convincingly, to first. The 1st and 3rd place teams both plummet. I suppose this means those dropping a lot may be winning several categories by a little and losing a few others by a lot. It could also mean that they are tanking a few categories along with other teams. If 3 or 4 teams give up on saves, then only 1 team appears at the true bottom of the rankings and gets 1 point, the others would get 2-4 points and not suffer than much from the tanked category.

On the other hand, if a category was particularly close and bunched together, someone may suffer and get a low ranking despite being close to the league average or even the league leaders. In the standardized system, they wouldn't lose many points and wouldn't be anchored trailing slightly in a tight race.

There's a lot of stuff to this system, and I find it pretty fascinating. One interesting note is that of the 100 possible spots (10 categories by 10 teams), I only caught 3 that would be considered outliers (past + or - 1.96) and all 3 were averages and not pure numbers. That is to say, based on the number of times per something else and not just the total result.

It would be interesting to see a league run this was for a season to see how you could exploit the system. I think if I were playing in this league, I would make a go at drafting an all steals offense and not even play a pitcher.

If you could get enough steals, your players would probably stay near average in runs and batting average. The gain from being so far above in steals would most likely more than make up for what you lose in HR and RBI.

As for the pitching, by giving up on wins, K's and saves, you'll be a low outlier. But first, you'll drag the overall average way down making you less of an outlier. Second, if you have a 0.00 ERA and WHIP, not to mention 0 losses in this league, you're likely to lead those categories by at least as much as you lose the stats.

Of course, all of that would be for not if someone else used the same strategy. Or would it?




NL- West

NL West

I was dead wrong about the Diamondbacks, but the rest I got right. Dodgers are playing very well.

Still, nobody cares about the NL West.


NL Central

The NL Central is the most interesting division in baseball for me. No team has been great, but no team has been awful either.

Lots of change from May, but a lot of that is based on the snap shot day I randomly took. The reality is that the top 2 are very close, the next two are really close and the bottom 2 are very close. Only 5.5 games separate top from bottom and 5 of the 6 teams have postive run differentials (a couple of just over even). Only the Astros look like they have been outwinning their play by staying near .500 despite a -38 run differential.

I still think that the Cubs have the potential to take over the division if any of their hitters start regressing back up to the mean. They should also get a shot in the arm from Aramis coming back and are likely to make some splash trade.

NL- East

NL East

Phillie remains the only impressive team in this division. The Marlins were a flash in the pan to open the season, but immediately after the last standings update fell off completely. I can see the Braves making a run if they make some good trades, but otherwise it will be the Mets chasing the Phillies until September.

It's worth noting that the Phillies, with their terrible starting pitching and closer, are playing way better than expected right now . The Mets are on the other side, playing well under their talent. For what its worth, people who believe in team chemistry have plenty of ammunition here as the Phillies appear to be riding the high of a championship while the Mets are expecting to collapse like they have the previous two years. Not sure if it is my proximity to NYC or actual general thought, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Mets pull a 2004 Red Sox and trade one of their faces for the right pieces. If I had to guess, I would say Reyes is more likely to be traded than either Beltran or Wright, especially as Wright seems to be the hope of the future.

Standings- AL West

AL West

Looks like the Mariners are in the same boat as the Blue Jays in falling back to Earth after a strong start. If I was rooting for my predictions, I would mention that how the Texas pitching reacts to the long summer heat remains to be seen. Without my predictions, I would now guess that there is a dogfight between the Angels and Rangers for the division with Seattle hanging around close enough to make a move if the other teams falter. Angels have been making a strong move very recently though.

Standings- AL Central

AL Central has completely kicked around both since May and my initial predictions. Not even a good trend here other than bad baseball in general.

Somehow I have 2 and 4 right, but have completely missed on 1, 3 and 5. The good news for the bottom half is that none of the teams are playing extremely well. The bad news for 4 of the 5 teams is that it looks like the wildcard will not be coming from the AL Central. Despite my initial thoughts, it looks like the AL Central has a better chance of being the division that others complain about as not worthy of a playoff spot instead of the division that others fear to play.

Mid-June Standings Look - AL East


Here's an almost mid-season look at the standings vs my predictions. I'll do separate posts for each division to make putting up the picks easier.

AL East



Well, the only difference in the standings since early May is that the Blue Jays have fallen back into the pack. Two points of interest: 1) The top 4 teams all have run differentials over +30. Only the Orioles have a negative run differential and they remain the only AL East team under .500. Worth noting that while the Rays and Jays are tied at 5 games back, the Rays have the AL's best run differential at +75.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

You could be an air hostess in the 60's

Adrian Gonzalez

He is nothing less than a freaking beast.  1st in NL in homeruns.  Top 5 in Runs and RBI.  Any team would be lucky to have him.

Standings notes:

4 of 5 teams in the AL East are better than .500.

4 of 5 teams in the AL Central are under .500.

Dodgers led the majors in wins regardless of Manny playing.  In fact, the Dodgers have the largest margin of games between first and second in a division (9 games as of this writing).  The other 5 divisions have less than 3.5 games between first and second.

The Rays have a +48 run differential, but have only managed to play .500 ball to date.  This is perhaps because the Rays have scored the most runs in the majors.

The Braves, Giants and Angels all have winning records despite letting more runs score than they have scored.

The Twins and Pirates have scored more runs than they've allowed, but have losing records.

Obligatory Indians note:  The Indians are 4th in runs scored, but tied for last in runs allowed.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Why Inter-league Play Makes Sense

I am of a mixed mind about the inclusion of inter-league play and find the usual arguments about some teams being at a disadvantage rather banal. Sure it might not seem fair for one team to face the tougher teams in an opposing division while some other team gets the dredges, but that happens all over the schedule. Besides this, there are always NL teams playing with themselves because of the fair more imbalanced 14 AL teams to 16 NL teams. When you have 4 divisions with 5 teams but 1 division with 4 and another with 6, things are wrong. When you have teams playing 18 teams against the teams in their division, but only 6 against other intra-league and 6 against their inter-league rival, things are wronger. Anyway, I don't mind the games because there is so much other crap that is wrong that the inter-league part seems trivial.

What I have heard spouted this year is how successful interleague play is despite fan, player and manager complaints. What I have yet to hear is an actual satisfactory explanation for this. With this in mind, I came up with my own plausible theory.

Being an out of region fan means taking advantage of every opportunity to see the teams I follow. Because I choose not to get the MLB package, I can't see every game all the time, but I can see the games where my team plays the local team(s). I believe the boost in attendance for inter-league games comes from the displaced fan. I know my brother has rarely been as excited as last year when his favorite team (Red Sox) came to visit the hometown Reds. In fact, he made it to all 3 games of the series. I think this happens all over. There's a good chance I'll be visiting a friend in Washington and will end up at the Red Sox-Nationals game this summer. It is not because the Red Sox-Nationals matchup is intriguing. It is solely because the friend I'm visiting is a Sox fan and will take advantage of seeing the team in his new hometown park. The out of region fan is the main reason that MLB keeps seeing gate revenue spikes and it seems to me to be a smart move financially.

All of the matchups that get listed as the reason that inter-league sucks are matchups between low attendance teams or, at the least, poorly playing teams. The worst thing that happens to those matchup gate revenues is that they stay the same. For the season ticket holder, they are going to the games regardless of the matchup. Same with the most casual fans, who tend to plan their games based on the date or the opportunity, not on the visiting team. As more and more teams see gate spikes for the most favored nations (Yanks, Sox, Dodgers), they realized that if they put something novel out there, there's a chance they will reach a market that they would not have otherwise. At worst, the teams see their usual attendance. At best, they get a spike from the displaced fan.

Less Hate Here

Despite the disheartening loss I described earlier, the Indians came back to take the following two games from the Royals and win a series outright for only the 2nd time this season. It is amazing that it took a colossal collapse to prevent the Indians from sweeping the series. Good times.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I hate baseball

So there are times when it is really convenient that I can sometimes pick up the local Cleveland broadcast on my car radio.  Last night, for instance, I tuned in just in time for the bottom of the 9th in a game the Indians were leading 5-2.  I was able to hear the collossal collapse of "closer" Kerry Wood, who gave up homer, homer, walk, triple, walk-off sac fly to kill everything good in my soul.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

League Leaders- AL edition

Continued league leaders

AL Hitters
Batting Average (I know I don't like it, but...)
Victor Martinez .400
Miguel Cabrera .378
Adam Jones .370

Yes, I only included this category because I love Victor.

At Bats
Aaron Hill 167
Vernon Wells 160
Alex Rios 158

No coincidence that all 3 are Blue Jays and the BJ's currently lead the majors in offense.

Runs
Adam Jones 35
Marco Scutaro 34
Nick Markakis 34
Brian Roberts 31
Jason Bay 31

3 of the top 5 are Orioles, but the orange birds remain last in the AL East. Could be because they have given up the most runs.

Hits
Victor Martinez 58
Aaron Hill 58

Nobody else above 50.

RBI
Evan Longoria 46
Jason Bay 38
3 others tied at 33

Longoria has been a Yankee and Red Sox killer this season, but has also been a steady producer everywhere. Only included Bay because I think he's my brother's new favorite player. Bay won him a beer from me in the Red Sox Indians-Series.

Stolen Bases
Carl Crawford 24 (0 caught)
Jacoby Ellsbury 16 (4 caught)
Chone Figgins 15 (2 caught)
Bobby Abreu 13 (0 caught)
BJ Upton 11 (2 caught)

Crazy to see Abreu running again, since he doesn't seem to like to do that in the outfield. Of course the lead is Crawford who is single handedly winning the steals category for me in 2 of 3 leagues. More importantly, he's stolen more bases on his own than 16 other MLB teams (9 AL teams).

Extra Base Hits
Longoria 27
48 hits total (11 HR, 16 Doubles). I suppose this has something to do with his really high RBI. Over half his hits are better than singles. Awesome.

Hit by Pitch
Carlos Quentin 8
Kelly Shoppach 8

Get on base any way you can.

AL Pitchers
Roy Halladay 61 (8 starts)
Zach Greinke 60 (8 starts)

Both are averaging well into the 8th inning and doing so with impressive results.

Strikeouts
Justin Verlander 69
Zach Greinke 65

If I was doing both leagues at once, I would point out that both league leaders have the intials J.V. (Javier Vasquez leads the NL with 67K).

Losses
Cliff Lee 5
Jose Contreras 5

Lee's ERA 3.00, Contreras's ERA 8.19

Saves
Brian Fuentes 9
Frank Francisco 9
Jonathan Papelbon 9

Frankie Frank has yet to give up a run this year, but looks to be out for a bit due to nagging injury. Of these 3, only Fuentes has blown a save (2 actually).

Complete Games
Greinke 4

Only 13 pitchers have thrown complete games and only 4 have thrown more than 1 this season. It's Greinkes's Cy Young to lose at this point.

Wild Pitch
Scott Kazmir 6
Gavin Floyd 4
AJ Burnett 4

Not much to say here. I'll end this post now.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wright Stuff

Of course moments after I wrote that Wright was in the caught stealing more than successful attempts he goes out and steals 4 bases, taking him out of the category completely.  Got to love baseball.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

League Leaders

Thought I would just post the top few players for some stats to date. This post is NL leaders only.

NL Hitting
RBI
Pujols 35
Cantu 33
Fielder 32

I will point out that all 3 names are pretty awesome for various reasons. Poop joke, the reply "Can too", and the irony of a huge 1B being named for something he's only okay at.

Runs
Pujols 33
Soriano 30

Hits
Ryan Zimmerman 51
Orlando Hudson 50

I like hits better than batting average. Because the number of hits is cooler. Try to defy that logic.

Triples
Matt Kemp 4
I certainly would not have guessed it was Kemp. Also wouldn't have guessed that 22 other National Leaguers have at least 2 triples.

More caught stealing than stolen bases (SB/CS)
David Wright (5/6)
Elijah Dukes (2/6)
Troy Tulowitzki (2/3)
Joey Gathright (1/2)
Adam Rosales (0/2)
Chris Dickerson (0/2)

There's a bunch of others that are 0 for 1.

There are 30 NL'ers who average more than 4 pitches seen per plate appearance.

Total Extra Base Hits
20 each by Raul Ibanez, Alfonso Soriano, and Ryan Zimmerman

Hit by Pitch
Chase Utley 6
Jason Kendell 5
Ryan Braun 5

Would never guess that I would see Kendall on a list with Utley and Braun.

Ground Into Double Play (or inning killer)
Andre Ethier 10 (in 36 games)
Geovany Soto 9 (in 28 games)
Ryan Zimmerman 8 (in 33 games)

I guess I should be less surprised that there are a bunch of decent players on this list because that means their teammates are getting on base in front of them.

NL Pitching
Strike Outs
Peavy 61
Santana 60
Lincecum 58
Javier Vazquez 57 (didn't expect that)

Losses
Doug Davis 5 (Glad he beat the thyroid cancer of a year ago. Not a joke, am really glad for him)
Peavy 5
Ian Snell 5
7 guys with 4 Losses, but the one of biggest note is Dan Haren, who has an ERA of 2.09. The rest of the 4 loss guys range from 4.73 to 5.79

Wins
5 guys with 5, but the best is Bronson Arroyo who has an ERA of 7.02.

Holds (cause everyone loves these)
Carlos Marmol 10 (3 saves)
JJ Putz 8 (another great name)
Jason Motte 7 (was supposed to be a closer, but apparently is a holder)

More to come from the AL.

Monday, May 11, 2009

More on the unsungs

Long time ago, I meant to point out how awesome www.baseball-refernce.com is and I again missed my chance with the Conchords post.

One of my favorite features of baseball-reference is the similarity scores it assigns to each player.  It finds other players with similar stats playing the same position at the players age.

For Sanchez, there's not a lot of good ones, with the only ones I knew immediately being Robinson Cano, Alex Cintron, and Johnny Estrada.  Funny though that many people know Cano, despite his rather awful 2008, and so few still know Sanchez.

For Markakis though, the list is far more interesting.  The direct comparisons include current players Juan Riveria, Andre Ethier, Kevin Youkilis, Rocco Baldelli (who the guest kid announcer on NESN called Baldy last week), and Cliff Lee.  What?  On further inspection, the Cliff Lee mentioned is not the reigning Cy Young Winner, it is actually a ballplayer from 1920's.

On Markakis's similar through age 24, he's got some good career prospects, as it lists the likes of Vernon Wells, Ellis Burks (one of my personal favorites), and Carlos Beltran.  If he can pull off the production of any one of them, you'd have to want him on your team long-term.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

You could be a part time model

Decided just now to start a Flight of the Conchords based running post.

The most beautiful girl in the room can either be the best player on a terrible or unsung team. It can also be the best performance by a player on a losing team.

For the latter, let's start with Cliff Lee's Friday night. 8 innings, 1 run, and the loss because the Indians couldn't muster a run against Justin Verlander.

Here's some great or good players on bad or untalked about teams:

Nick Markakis, OF Baltimore Orioles
31 R (1st in AL), 29 RBI (4th in AL), .342 BA
If he played for 3 of the 4 other teams in the AL East, he would be an all-star. In Baltimore, he's mostly forgotten about except in fantasy circles.

Freddy Sanchez, 2B Pittsburgh Pirates
.301 career batting average. Never an RBI machine, but he's scored over 70 R in each of his last 3 seasons. Keeps coming out and hitting no matter than the Pirates have lost 90 some games every year he's been with them.

Med Mania

Generally, I don't care too much about performance enhancing drug stories and try not to say much about them (which is easy when I never write blog entries). However, with all the hoopla surrounding Manny's 50 game suspension, I think there's an angle that's been missed.

Manny indicated that he's been tested many times since 2003, the year, evidently, that steroids were invented. Other things Manny has done since 2003:

Won 2 World Series with the Red Sox.
Hit a crap-ton of doubles and singles (and several home runs).
Asked to be traded from Boston on roughly 9 separate occasions (at least one of which was during the World Series).
Turned down a $45 million contract before eventually "winning" by signing... a $45 million contract.
Turned a bunch of doubles into singles and singles into ground outs by walking down to first.

So here's my thought. Does anyone else think that Manny may have intentionally took a small about of a banned substance so he could sit out for 50 games and do whatever it is he does when he's not playing baseball?

I can't shake the thought. I think he took a weird drug, in a small amount. And then reminded us that he could have passed the drug test if he had wanted. I mean, what does Manny actually want? He wanted a huge payday from the Dodgers because it was more like Cleveland than Boston (still confused on that). He wants to play when it matters. He does not like playing every day. So the way to keep himself fresh was either to sit down and walk out grounders and complain on the bench about something.

Or... Take a pill and get a month and a half off.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Predictions Revisited

I'm planning something cool (read math related and not really cool for people who don't do math in their spare time) for this week regarding end of season results based on April records, but that's actual content and takes time. In the mean time, enjoy my terrible, terrible predictions from before the season.

AL East (Average Spots Off = 2)
Preseason Picks 5/4 Morning
Yankees Blue Jays
Rays Red Sox
Red Sox Yankees
Orioles Rays
Blue Jays Orioles

How bad are my predictions looking? Well, I thought that Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays would be battling it out. However, the Blue Jays are one of two teams that are in the opposite position of my prediction (last to first or first to last). Of the 6 divisions, my average spots off here were the second highest only to:

AL Central (Average Spots Off = 2.4)
Preseason Picks 5/4 Morning
Indians Royals
Twins Tigers
Tigers White Sox
Royals Twins
White Sox Indians

The Indians were my other complete mis-pick, but hey, at least I knew it was a homer call. What I really didn't expect was for the non-Indians in the central to all be within 2 games of each other.

AL West (Average Spots Off = 1)
Preseason Picks 5/4 Morning
Angels Mariners
Mariners Rangers
Rangers Angels
Athletics Athletics

The AL West was the best by my made up, completely meaningless metric of average spots off. I believe this is at least partially affect by there only being 4 spots, so less possible deviation. Basically, the Angels are underperforming to my expectations, but the rest of the order remains the same.

NL East (Average Spots Off = 1.2)
Preseason Picks 5/4 Morning
Mets Marlins
Phillies Phillies
Braves Braves
Marlins Mets
Nationals Nationals

Despite my made up metric (mmmmmmmm), the NL East looks the best for me, as 3 of 5 are in the right position with the Mets and Marlins just flipping spots. I'll take it.

NL Central (Average Spots Off = 1.7)
Preseason Picks 5/4 Morning
Cubs Cardinals
Brewers Reds
Reds Cubs
Cardinals Brewers
Astros Pirates
Pirates Astros

Opposite issue of the AL West where the number is probably inflated because of the presence of 6 teams instead of the normal 5. The only real surprise here are the Cardinals strutting (though I suppose the Cubs underperforming is the second part of that).

NL West (Average Spots Off = 1.2)
Preseason Picks 5/4 Morning
Diamondbacks Dodgers
Dodgers Giants
Giants Diamondbacks
Rockies Padres
Padres Rockies

No one cares about the NL West.

In summation: Overall, I was an average of 1.6 spots off, which sounds small except being off by 1.6 of 5 means I was closer to being 2 spots off than correctly guessing or being 1 spot off.

# of spots off # of teams
0 4
1 12
2 8
3 4
4 2

If I randomly selected each teams placement, while ignoring every other teams placement, I would have a 20% chance of guessing the placement correctly. To this point, I have correctly predicted 4 of 30 teams, or .13%. Not good. However, if you include the teams that are 1 spot off (and I do because it makes me feel better) then I predicted 16 of 30, 53%. Not bad.


Assuming there could be ties (which is possible, sort of), then I could randomly get the place of every team in a division 0.032% of the time. The math here doesn't really work, but I'll leave it to someone else to point out why.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The hits keep on coming...

but the blog posts don't.

Sorry for the one of you who check this still. A little busy with life for the last couple of weeks.

Things that have happened in baseball since the last post:

Um... Well I'm not sure, that's why I haven't really posted. I seem to remember the Indians scoring 22 runs against the Yankees in a game, but only splitting the series 2-2.

The last time I wrote, it looked like the Sox weren't going anywhere, but now they've run off 11 wins in row (hopefully not 12 or I owe my brother a sixer of New England local beer the next time I go back).

Interesting things I've looked at in the last few minutes:

The Pirates are over .500 and have 5 shutouts on the year. The first time someone mentioned this to me I assumed they were shutout 5 times, which seemed low for the Pirates. After a quick check though, they have indeed won 5 games where their opponents have scored zero runs.

Moments ago, the Marlins were everyone's hot team to rent another championship because they were 11-1. Now they are 11-8 and people can't run fast enough.

The Giants are averaging 3.6 runs a game, which is lowest in the majors. The Blue Jays are at just about 6 a game.

I've heard at least 12 different pronunciations of Asdrubal.

More to come at the end of the month, since that's my arbitrary 1/6 season marker.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Great Plays

Just saw Cubs Outfielder Reed Johnson rob Prince Fielder of a Home Run and was yelling in excitement about a game with relatively little impact on me (though I wouldn't have been able to tie in Wins in one of the 3 fantasy leagues I'm in). Very classy of Prince Fielder to tip his cap to the great play instead of doing something else or nothing at all.

It got me to thinking about the most exciting and somewhat rare plays in baseball.

I'm not going to rank them right now, but here are some of the cooler things I've seen and would like to one day witness in person.

First, the Reds hit into a triple play today. I'm always interested in them and always calling for them at inappropriate times (2 outs already, no one on base, etc.). I would settle for seeing any variety of triple play in person, but would love to see someone turn an unassisted triple play, like so.

I've seen several grand slams in my lifetime, so they don't seem all that rare to me. However, I will make note that the last ballgame I went to with my grandfather (Reds at Devil Rays in interleague play) marked the first slam I saw in person as well as the first time for my grandfather, despite his 60+ years of additional viewing experience.

I always like seeing plays that involve extreme amounts of speed, especially legged out triples with no errors and any variety of inside the park homer.

Someday it would be great to witness a real sloppy no-hitter (errors and walks all over the place, but still technically a pitching gem). Certainly, seeing anyone pitch a perfect game would be outstanding, but I doubt I make it to one in my lifetime (or after my lifetime for that matter, in fact after my lifetime I may have a slightly lower chance of seeing a perfect game).

Anyone else witnessed something weird or really want to see something on the diamond before they go?

In the things I never thought I'd see category, I saw Oliver Perez and Jamie Moyer throw a pitchers duel last summer at Shea. Not sure it fits the things I'd want to see, but certainly makes the list of things I never thought I would see.

More Predictions (probably last of the new season)

Time for some final predictions.

First, I'm thinking Angels over Diamondbacks in the World Series.  A West coast finale is Bud Seligs nightmare, so I think its a go.

MVP
AL  Evan Longoria
There's so much hype about him as an uberplayer, so I think he makes the transition from touted prospect to top end producer.  His name and story, combined with another playoff appearance (or at least a run) are enough to put him over the edge.
Honorable mentions: I don't think any one Yankee gets enough support to win it this year, but based on the writer love shoved towards Texeiria in the pre-season, he'll get some votes if he has a decent season.  Josh Hamilton has a shot if the Rangers win some games.  Dark Horse candidates are the Orioles outfielders, at least Adam Jones or Markakis.

NL  
Favorites are the fantasy favorites Han-Ram or Pujols, but I don't think either of their team wins enough games for them to get a fair shot at the trophy.  I think it comes down to either Manny or David Wright, with the writers liking Wright's style more than Manny.
Honorable mentions: I wouldn't be surprised if K-Rod gets some attention if he keeps the Mets in the division lead down the stretch.  I'm sure some Phillies will get some votes here too.  Dark horse candidate is Adam Dunn if the Nationals win anything and he doesn't get traded to the AL.

Cy Young

AL 
Not CC, and not Cliff Lee.  I'm going out on a limb to say that Felix Hernandez is healthly all season and leads the league in K's and is top 10 in ERA.  Only thing haunting his canidacy is a lack of wins, but I think around 18 is enough.  Other strong canidate is Halladay, who is the fall back when all other pitchers aren't outstanding.

NL
Lots of options here really.  No reason to think that Lincecum, Brandon Webb, or Santana can't repeat here, but I'm more interested to see whether Carpenter can come back into it.  If it's not Carpenter, I'm thinking that Dan Haren will finally put everything and lock this down.

Rookie of the Year and more madness to follow.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Interesting Story Titles

Here's a sampling of story titles, that run from cliche to cliche to hilarious cliche, from around the mlb.com team sites:

"Tribe can't escape early hole in Texas"

"Moehler digs too deep a hole for Astros"

 "Long balls do in Litsch"

"Gallardo makes history off Unit"

"Veal resilient in face of unusual outing"

"Wang has tough time in return for Yanks"

I won't lie.  I was hoping for more of these, but I think this is not a bad list for the first week of the season.

Monday, April 06, 2009

NL East

This is the most interesting division that I don't care all that much about.

Order first:

Mets
Phillies
Braves
Marlins
Nationals

Now the explanation:

Mets: They beat the Reds today 2-1.

Also, they have 2 closers compared to the 1 of last year. They lost 13 games by 2 or less runs after August 1st last year. If they won even 3 of those, they are tied for the division lead with the Phillies. Because of the meltdown of the last 2 years, people forget how good this team is. I think they put it together and win the division for the first time since all the way back in 2006. Big questions are how Delgado starts the season, how much impact Daniel Murphy has, and/or what the heck to do with Sheffield.

Phillies: The opposite of the Mets, they have gotten very lucky to even make the playoffs the last two years. Myers, Moyer, and Park do not a consistent, healthy rotation make, but I think the massive bats keep the Phillies in the playoff race throughout the season.

Braves: The Braves are loaded with young(er) talent with a pleasant mix of veterans thrown in. My guess is that this year is the year they relearn how to win close games (after some trial and error) and make a push at the leaders and playoffs before falling to just over .500. I am already more interested in how good the 2010 Braves might be, which often leads to a surprise breakout season a year early. Question is where will their pitching come from?

Marlins: There's something missing from the team and it might just be marketing. I don't see them making it over 80 wins and part of the reason must be that I can't see a face of the franchise truly emerging. Han-Ram is a fantasy stud and might be the best player in the NL not named Pujols, but he still isn't happy about being in a town that doesn't seem to appreciate baseball (2 titles in 12 years or not). The Marlins are what the current Braves could be in 2-3 years. That is, they are full of guys who used to have limitless potential until someone found their limit. Uggla, Hermida, and Cantu all continue to be adequate enough to keep their jobs, but not good enough to carry the team further. Big question is can anyone name a Marlins pitcher without looking? Alternate question is whether Maybin lives up the hype and breaks out this year.

Nationals: Now that Bobby Bowden has stopped trying to make the team a bizarro Cincinnati, the team can start to recover. I love seeing Kearns and Dunn in the same outfield again, but I doubt that anyone or anything other than Dunn makes the Nationals relevant this year. I also think that Dunn further contributes to the team when he is traded in late May for a bunch of prospects.

OPENING

Very excited to hear the first few games of the year today at work.  I just purchased the MLB.com app that lets me listen to the radio commentary which I sure hope works.

Interesting things to me right now:

I hope Aaron Harang pitches a complete game shutout with about 14k's to show he's back.

The Indians are starting the first game of the season with two catchers in the line-up.  Victor will get the nod at 1B, while Shoppach will be squatting behind the plate.  Seems odd since there's an off-day tomorrow and Victor can always use the extra day of rest after playing catcher.

Hoping to get the final division (NL East) prediction out this evening.  Besides interesting tidbits (tidbit tidbit tidbit) from the games themselves, I will also try to get the playoff scenarios and individual award winner predictions out this week.


NL West

Late to the game, but still hitting it before the season actually starts.  Lets talk about the division that no one really cares about, the NL West.

First, the order:

Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Giants
Rockies
Padres

Next, we'll explain in reverse order:

Padres: Their first two starters are great or good (Peavy and Young), but there's no lineup there whatsoever.  Of note is that 3 of their 8 starters are former Indian farmhands (Kouzmanoff, Giles, Gerut).

Rockies:  I just don't see the pitching to make a good run at the division here.  Also, the lineup is very similar the to miracle team of two seasons ago, but it took extremly high performances by all of them to squeak out a playoff appearance (not to mention a collapse by the rest of the NL).  Big question is when are Helton and Atkins going to hit the bottom?  If they can hold off age for one more year, the mountains have a shot at .500, if not, I see the team notching wins in the high 70's.

Giants:  I think everything goes right for the Giants and they finish with about 85 wins.  If this team was transported back 5 years, I would like any rotation with Zito and the Big Unit (Johnson), not to mention seeing Randy Winn in his prime.  All the positions and pitching will be at least adequate and I think that leads to a 3rd place finish in the West.  Two questions are whether Zito or Johnson can muster another dominate season (No for Zito, average for Johnson) and how either Sandoval or Ishikawa or both might break out this year.

Dodgers:  Their lineup with a productive Manny is impressive, but any team who relies on Kuroda and Wolf to anchor the lineup can't possibly win the division, can it?

Diamondbacks:  Their lineup is the class of the NL West or Central, and their rotation is set with Webb and Haren baring injuries to either.  I'm guessing that the majority of their young hitters put it together this year and make a run deep into the playoffs.  Look for them to top 93 wins and take the division.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

AL East

I was going to save this for last, but after seeing those other predictions, I suppose it is time.

Order first

Yankees
Rays
Red Sox
Orioles
Blue Jays

Yankees: This is not so much a prediction based on the roster as it currently stands. I believe there will be significant changes, especially as the DL, I mean outfield, sorts itself out. There are lots of pitchers there that are above average. Not only that, there are lots of other pitchers whose contracts are up in a year or two that will almost inevitably be traded mid-season to the Yankees. I can't imagine that Cashman will let it work out that the only seasons over a 10-15 year period where the Yankees don't make the playoffs are the last season in the old stadium and the first season in the new.

Rays: They didn't change their lineup or rotation all that much, but they now know how to handle themselves. With a young lineup, aging a year should only help, not to mention a full season out of Longoria and a resurging Carl Crawford. Big question is whether David Price can come out the minors and flame-throw.

Red Sox: Getting older when you're already kind of old does not make you better. The starting rotation could be great, or it could be 800 years old and realize it. Wakefield is done sometime soon if not already. You can't expect a full season out of either Penny or Smoltz, in fact they will be lucky to have a combined 35 starts between the two. Ped, Youk, and Ellsbury are great players for years to come. I don't believe in Drew and really never have, I think Bay has a decent year but is on the decline and I don't see how Lowell continues to defy age and injury.

Orioles: Don't ask me why, because I don't have a good answer. There's too much hitting there to not win some games and their pitching might be adequate. Everyone says that Wieters will come into the league and take off, and I'm inclined to believe that he will be good on offense and calling the game.

Blue Jays: They've been almost there for several seasons now, but they have made the mistake of trying to get better by getting older (naturally and through free agency). They have to break down sometime and I think it is this year despite Halladay continuing to be the best pitcher that only gets talked about when people want to talk about a pitcher who isn't talked about enough.

Idiots

I check NYTimes.com about once an hour at work.  Keeping up with current events is part of my job so this is excusable for me.  When I drift over to the sports and auto pages, I know I am pushing my luck.  Today, I read this piece on AL predictions from Tyler Kepner of the NYTimes Bats blog.

As the title might indicate, I disagree with the gentlemen's assessment.  First, he admits that he picked the Mariners to make the playoffs last year.  That's not such a terrible admission considering it was a relatively trendy pick this time last year.  What bugs me is that he doesn't learn from his mistakes.  First, he picks the Yankees to win their division, a homer call which I'm fine with.  But then he picks the Red Sox over the Rays despite the Rays getting better in the offseason and the Red Sox buying and getting older.

The real transgressions though are that he puts the Mariners last again to spite them or himself for their epic collapse last year.  Law of averages says that the Mariners can't have all the bad breaks they did last year.  In fact, the team is almost the same as the over-hyped team of a year ago.

Second transgression is picking the Royals to win the AL Central.  This is exactly the same thing as picking the Mariners to win the West last year and for some reason he doesn't get this.

Certainly, it doesn't help that the guy picks the Indians to finish last based completely on the fact that they signed my friend SW's relative by marriage, Carl Pavano.  Why would a team finish last because they signed a former flash in the pan pitcher to a low-risk incentive laden deal?  Also, there were another 4 guys who didn't make the rotation would could all step in as a starter.  At least when I do my predictions, I take a few minutes to check out a depth chart.

Also, the A's will finish last because they signed Giambi.

Regardless, I'm pretty sure I'm more informed than this random Yankees fan who happens to write for a high-profile publication.  I'll stand behind this enough to say that if his standings are closer to the final standings than mine, I will buy and wear a Yankees hat for a week before donating it to some poor sap of a Yankees fan friend of mine (or charity, but I don't want to do that to the homeless or poor).

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

AL West

Jumping around to the AL West solely because I'm tired and there's only 4 teams in the division.

Standings order first:

Angels
Mariners
Rangers
Athletics

Angels: Despite changing cities without changing ballparks, the Angels have finished 1st in the division 4 of the last 5 seasons with over 90 wins in each of those seasons. There only off season they finished 2nd with 88 wins, so there's not many surprises here. They will miss Teixeiriaia's production, but they still have a collection of 35 outfield/1B/DH guys to fill in basically anywhere. Their starting pitching is banged up now, but I think they will be fine in the long run. In fact, a little extra prep and rest now may make for a strong finish in the late months of the season. Big question is how their bullpen deals with the loss of K-Rod and fits in behind Fuentes.

Mariners: This is a sleeper pick, but I think the Mariners will finish the season just over .500 because they have a decent combination of slick defenders (Franklin Gutierrez, Ichiro, Beltre) and swing and miss bashers (Junior, Branyan to a lesser extent). I don't think their pitching is spectacular if healthy, but I don't think it loses a lot of games for them this year.

Rangers: Milwood, Padilla, Benson, McCarthy. With the exception of McCarthy, their starters were being described as has-beens 5-6 years ago. McCarthy, at this point, seems to have become a much hyped never was. Kinsler and Hamilton are stud hitters that are only helped by hitting in a hitters park. Chris Davis will have a break out year, but the rest of the lineup needs work. No one will find out how good the bullpen is, because it is likely to rarely matter.

Athletics: When I looked at the teams, I thought I would be putting the A's in the 2nd spot as a sleeper instead of the Mariners. Then I looked at the A's depth chart, which reads like a highlight of the all the things that are wrong with the other AL West teams' rosters. There are a couple of starters (Duchscherer, Eveland) that may find their groove this year, but other than that it is a showcase of terrible. After Matt Holliday (who will be traded by the middle of the June), the offense peak (pimple) is either Orlando Cabrera (who I still can't believe couldn't find a real job this offseason) or Jason Giambi. The best they can hope for is putting at least half their roster on the DL to check out what talent they have in the minors.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

NL Central

So my weekend break became basically a week and a half off. That shouldn't happen over the summer as there will actually be baseball that counts being played.

To get things going again, lets talk about the NL Central. Here are my predictions:

Nothing ground breaking here, but I think the Cubs will win the NL Central again. I'm not sure that Dempster repeats his outstanding season, but the starting pitchers are either consistent, or at least flashes of great (Zambrano). D. Lee isn't getting any younger, nor is Aramis Ramirez, but their lineup is consistent throughout. The biggest question mark may well be how Fukudome and Soto deal with leaving the sleeper status because of their breakout 2008 seasons. The only other major question is whether the game board (Milton Bradley) is able to just rake, or whether he continues to be a head case (see being traded from Cleveland because of a fight with Wedge, blowing out his knee while arguing a call at first).


The rest of the Central is much closer than it should be. First the order

Cubs

Brewers
Reds
Cardinals
Astros

Pirates

The Brewers have a hearty lineup (good for NL standards, a little light compared to most AL teams). I think they are able to finish the season above .500 based on slugging and speed, but lack of pitching and pitching depth leads to missing the playoffs.

The Reds might be another year off, because of their overall youth. The big question I have about the team is whether or not they will cast off their swing for the fences image and go with the speed they have all around. I know they play in a bandbox, but I think the team as currently built would have more success hitting singles and stealing bases and letting the homers come to them. If they continue to use the Dunn 3 outcome philosophy (homer, walk, strikeout), then I will have overestimated their record and place. If they focus on their good to great rotation and hit just enough, the can make a run at the Brewers for 2nd, possibly for a wildcard spot (assuming some great breaks along the way).

Cardinals: Without Pujols, they are 5th or 6th in the division, with him, they are in the mix for anywhere from 2-4th. There's Pujols and a bunch of other guys who are either past their prime, waiting for a prime, or Ryan Ludwick (who will not repeat his awesome 2008, but will continue to look productive because he will be the 2nd best hitter on his team). The big question is how Carpenter finally comes back. If he can be a staff ace again, maybe the rest of the rotation feels less pressure and performs adequately to the tune of a .500 record. I don't see it though and expect to see them in the 70 - 75 wins area.

Astros: I should have them higher, and I can think of a lot of reasons to have them higher, but in the end, I have them finishing 5th. Their starters after Oswalt are decent, though not great (I'm not completely on the Wandy Rodriguez bandwagon). But their lineup seems to be Berkman, Carlos Lee, and a bunch of players who are known for what they might do (Pence, Bourn) or what they used to do (Tejada). Nothing great here, lots of adequate and in a 6 team division, that translates to a low finish.

The Pirates are the clear scum of the division. Enough said about that.

I would be very surprised if the wild card comes out of this division because I see very little separation between teams 2-4, maybe even 1-5. And unlike other divisions that gravitate towards being very good (AL East, AL Central) or bottom feeders (NL West), this division is all huddled around 81-81.

Friday, March 27, 2009

auction draft live (ish) blog

6:30 Signed in just after 6 for a 7pm draft. Only person there until 6:15 and only 2 of 10 up until this point. I have the 3rd nomination, which doesn't mean all that much. Since I'm in a league with lots of native northeasters, I'll probably throw out some Yankees and Red Sox to let others overpay for the first 3-4 rounds.

7:30 Things are going very fast. I've stayed out, except for paying a lot for Grady Sizemore and Miguel Cabrera (accident, was trying to bid up, but that's alright). I'm probably done for a half hour until players drop back in the $10-20 range

8:30 Every player is going fast, but the draft is not. Somehow, though I usually put off getting pitching, I have 3 hitters and 6 of 9 pitchers already.

9:30 Halfway through now (pick wise). I have less than $3 a player left. I actually threw out Cleveland's recently named 5th starter hoping to get a $1 pick, but two other people bid because they were confused. That works too.

Later: I just got a bunch of players I may not want for $1. For the last 6 rounds, I had the highest available max bid at $6 and never spent over $2. Still not sure why someone over bid me on Shoppach, Hafner, and Pavano...

Update: By popular demand, the final roster:

C
Kelly Shoppach

1B
Miguel Cabrera

2B
Brandon Phillips

3B
Mark DeRosa

SS
Asdrubal Cabrera

2B/SS
Felipe Lopez

1B/3B
Joey Votto

LF
Carl Crawford

CF
Grady Sizemore

RF
Josh Hamilton

UTIL
Ben Francisco

Bench
Shin-Soo Choo

Bench
Cameron Maybin

Bench
Jeff Keppinger

Bench
Edwin Encarnacion

P
Mariano Rivera

P
Dan Haren

P
Roy Oswalt

P
Cliff Lee

P
Brian Wilson

P
Francisco Rodriguez

P
Fausto Carmona

P
Kevin Gregg

P
Chris Ray

Bench
Wandy Rodriguez