Friday, October 14, 2011

Changing of the Glove

Well, that really shouldn’t be the title, although it’s appropriate for this discussion on who should win the Gold Gloves of 2011, who will, and where the fielding prowess in the National and American Leagues have shifted.  We really think this is the year Derek Jeter won’t win one.  The hubbub that went on last year when Derek won another, while many think he’s not a good shortstop at all.  (We’re not one of those, just don’t think he’s a Gold Glove candidate with a Range Factor that low.)  But let's get going with the discussion, and start first with Jeter's position, shortstop.

Shortstop -

Who Should Win, J.J. Hardy (AL); Troy Tulowitski (NL)
Who Will Win, Alexei Ramirez (AL), Troy Tulowitski (NL)

The amount of good shortstops in the American League has risen in the past several years, so much so, that fielders like Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox might not be the best, although we think he might just win the 2011 prize, and folks like J.J. Hardy of the Orioles or Alcides Escobar of the Royals probably should.  It’s funny, but I don’t think people in Milwaukee thought of Hardy as quite this good in the field, but with a fielding percentage of 0.990 and range nearing 5.00 (actually 4.88 A+PO per 9 IP), that’s a deserving combination.  For those not too versed in what a great range factor for a shortstop is, there’s few who reach that 5.00 number.  This year only Tulowitski reached it for players with over 1,000 innings played.  And we do think this year Troy Tulowitski wins another.

Outfield

Who Should Win:  Franklin Gutierrez, Nick Markakis, Jacoby Ellsbury (AL); Chris Young, Drew Stubbs, Michael Bourn (NL)
Who Will Win: Jacoby Ellsbury, Franklin Gutierrez, Austin Jackson (AL); Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn, Drew Stubbs (NL)

 This is where we are starting to see a changing of the guard, although it might take a few years for the voters to shake it out in this direction.  In the National League, Shane Victorino will probably win his third, although he might have been passed by folks like Drew Stubbs and Chris Young.  Michael Bourn deserves another, so no changing of the guard there.  In the American League, we think the propensity to reward centerfielders will mean Austin Jackson and Jacoby Ellsbury and not Nick Markakis, but it is hard for a right fielder to rise up to the #2 spot in the Field Value ratings, all the way to 1.66.  (Only Ellsbury was higher at 1.70)  Markakis was durable, sure handed, and threw runners out, all with a range factor above 2.  However, that's low compared to his counterparts in centerfield, so we think that will count against him.  It never counted against Ichiro, but this year, we think he won't win one.  Of course, we didn't think he'd win won last year, and Gold Glove voters are notorious for rewarding history of good play and not the particular year in question.


Catcher
Who Should Win: Alex Avila (AL); Jonathan Lucroy (NL)
Who Will Win: Alex Avila (AL); Yadier Molina (NL)

Yadier Molina will likely win another Gold Glove, but catchers like Jonathan Lucroy should get that honor this year.  But he's too new on the block to overcome Molina.  Alex Avila is turning into one good catcher/baseball player and his prowess with the bat might just overshadow his ability behind the plate just enough to keep him from a Gold Glove, but he would be deserving and just might have enough attention on that bat to keep him in mind for the glove.

First Base
Who Should Win: Joey Votto (NL); Casey Kotchman (AL)
Who Will Win: Joey Votto (NL); Mark Teixeira (AL)

We're likely wrong about Votto winning this award over Pujols, with the conventional wisdom that Pujols is not only the best hitter in the league, but the best fielder, too.  In the American League, Teixeira was a fine fielder again in 2011 and would be a deserved recipient of the award.  Field Value rewards it to Kotchman, however, by a slim margin.

Second Base
Who Should Win: Robinson Cano (AL); Mark Ellis (NL)
Who Will Win: Robinson Cano (AL); Brandon Phillips (NL)

It will be a consensus pick when Cano again wins the award for the Yanks, and Ellis split time between both leagues, which will likely keep his vote totals below that of last year's winner, Brandon Phillips.

Third Base
Who Should Win: Evan Longoria (AL); Placido Polanco (NL)
Who Will Win: Evan Longoria (AL); Placido Polanco (NL)

Polanco did not win in 2010 in his first year at the position, losing out to Scott Rolen, but with Rolen's lack of playing time and Polanco's repeat of a very good fielding season despite his injuries, we think Placido deserves to, and will win, the award in 2011.  Evan Longoria won last year and will win it again.

For more info on the Field Value rankings and ratings, go to http://baseballevaluation.com/playergrades/fieldvalue.html.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Radical MLB Realignment Not Necessary, What About Expansion

It's gonna be a surprise to most, but it's just as surprising to us that the subject has not been broached in the debate over Major League Baseball realignment, with some of the radical ideas that are being thrown around.  Get rid of the American and National Leagues.  That's throwing one hundred years of history down the drain.  Go to a fifteen team, one division format.  Talk about getting rid of rivalries and expanding travel times.  Put the DH in everywhere.  That's right, get rid of traditional baseball altogether.  But in all this hubbub about what's gonna be done to get those extra playoff teams involved and what the players union will agree to as far as divisions and playoffs and no DH or all DH, plus a new baseball draft slotting system for signing bonuses, the solution may be staring them right in the face and would solve more problems than it would cause, and we're pretty sure the players union would love it, ... Expansion.

Yes, we know that expansion in many purists minds is a dirty word.  It dilutes the product.  There's not enough pitching to go around already (oh, wait a minute, right now there's too much good pitching and not enough hitting, so we'll forestall that debate for now.)  But in reality, neither might be true.  Since the last two teams were added in 1998, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays, there has been approximately 16% more people added to the census of the USA.  Doing quick math, ... that means there would be no further dilution, if all other things were equal which they surely are not, if baseball added 4.8 more teams.  So our proposal for adding two teams, with each league now having 16, parceled out in four divisions with one wild card playoff team per league, is far from problematic on the dilution front.  And we even agreed to five teams per league in the playoffs per Bud, even though we don't really like it.

But can Major League Baseball handle two additional teams economically in this poor economy.  Well, ... the answer is likely yes.  First off, the additional two teams would begin play in 2014, giving them three years to choose the location, owners, get stadium plans in order, and more.  Hopefully the economy rebounds by then.  But second, and more importantly, Major League Baseball has seen a revenue boom since the last two expansions.  In 1993, total revenues for MLB were $1.87 billion.  In 1998, total revenues for MLB were $2.479 billion.  Six years after the last expansion, they had grown to $4.1 billion.  And the last several years, even during the downturn.  $6.1 billion to $6.5 billion to $6.6 billion to $7 billion.  That's growth folks and there's more to come.

The major problems in baseball finances these days come from the personal financial problems of two current owners in Los Angeles and New York, and neither of their poor circumstances come from the profitability of their clubs, two of the largest and traditionally most successful.  They have to do with specific issues in the McCourt family and the Bernie Madoff and Wilpon ponzi scheme relationship.  And it might even help to give them part of the expansion fee pie, which surely would grow significanlty from the $130 million per in 1998.

So we say now is the time to throw off the shackles of expansion fever and get two new franchises on board over the next three years.  Give us traditional American and National Leagues, a division race and rivalries to root for, and I'd even throw in let's get rid of the DH along the way.  Seems like a good tradeoff for the union with 50 new jobs and $150 million payroll dollars to throw around that we can lose 14 DH's.  But hey, I'd even keep the one league only DH if that was a dealbreaker.

And what about the scheduling.  4 divisions of 4 each in both leagues keeps rivalries, pushes down travel costs, and makes more sense than you'd think.  No, we're not crazy about only 4 teams in a division, but it's better than 15.  With 4x4 leagues, the following is possible.

You'd play 18 games against your 3 division opponents = 54 games.
You'd play 8 games against your other 12 league opponents - 96 games.
You'd play 3 games against one division of 4 in interleague play - 12 games.

For a total of 162.  And as far as interleague.  Every other year you play your corresponding division for those great rivalry series.  On the off year, you play another division.  Keeps parity in scheduling for the division schedule that way.

As far as the playoffs.  4 division winners.  1 wildcard.  Worst division winner vs. wildcard in a one game playoff.  Quick.  Simple.  Easy.  Lots to root for.

So here goes our divisions, with two new teams added in the Las Vegas Silverados and the Mexico City (or Monterey) Iguanas.  Yes, we know there's other candidates, but we'll start with this.  And the only changes of leagues of today's teams are Arizona and Tampa Bay switching leagues.  Yes, we know Arizona won't like this, but hey, we're okay with getting rid of the DH, too, which had been one of the things they didn't like.

American League
East - New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays
Central - Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins
South - Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals, Mexico City Iguanas, Arizona Diamondbacks
West - Seattle Mariners, LA Angels of Anaheim, Oakland A's, Las Vegas Silverados

National League
East - New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates
Central - Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers
South - Tampa Bay Rays, Florida Marlins, Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros
West - Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies

So there it is, our opinion about one possibility of where baseball goes as far as realignment.  And it seems less radical to us than the suggestions we've seen, and might even grow the revenue pie to boot.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day Ramblings

Hooray. Hooray. Hooray. It's opening day. And no matter whom you root for, no matter where they play, it's opening day. It's opening day. It's opening day.

Okay, so that's not good haiku or even much of anything, but it's a cheer that almost every baseball fan has when this day, March 31, 2011, arrives. It seems to have come very fast for us, but here it is. And we thought we'd throw out a few opening day ramblings that are rumbling around our brain right now, from the nonsense to the off the cuff predictions that have nothing to do with PEVA or SPRO or any of those other new stats baseballevaluation.com has come up with. Well, not much to do with them anyway.

1) 60% of the opening day starters this year, who were eligible for the draft, were drafted in the first round. That's remarkable really, and not what we would have thought. Yes, we always knew that being a first rounder indicated a greater chance of making it to the majors. And a second rounder behind, but a decent chance, too, with rounds lower than that pretty much a flip of the coin. But 60%. So folks. On draft day this June, pay a whole lot of attention to who your favorite team chooses, because it apparently is pretty important that they choose well.

2) Will this be the opening day when the greatest amount of team face snow in the forecast. We're pretty used to seeing that in Colorado, and formerly in Montreal, but it seems that in the northeast a good amount of teams could face this today and tomorrow. Nothing like mittens at a baseball game, and I'm not talking about only in the stands.

3) We think the Phillies are gonna sprint out of the gates, even though their lineup has taken a few hits with the injuries to Utley and the departure of Werth. We think Ben Francisco, and later in the year, Domonic Brown, are gonna fill in pretty well for Werth, and we don't like their bench at all, but pitching is gonna keep them in tons of games. For some reason, we're not that concerned about the loss of Lidge for awhile. The last two years haven't seen consistent production out of Brad anyway.

4) Who will have one of the best seasons ever and join the list of players in our Stat Geek Baseball, the Best Ever Book. Well, we think Troy Tulowitski is gonna be fantastic, and think the park in Boston is gonna make Adrian Gonzalez a household name, just to state a few. Hey, and take a look at our book and think about buying it. I know we're not a household name like Baseball America, but those 5,000 hours of research into who was the best ever in the history of baseball gave us a pretty unique and interesting take on the subject. And we need your support to carry it on. Thanks.

5) Who will be the surprise team of 2011? Well, we don't know about surprise, but we do think the Milwaukee Brewers are gonna contend for the National League title and wouldn't be surprised if the Oakland A's won the American League West. We don't think they will, coming up a couple wins short, but we wouldn't be surprised.

6) We're really hoping this is the year Bud Selig stops trying to come up with new ideas about expanding the playoffs and let's baseball succeed where it is. Com'n, unless you have a team in the first round, you already don't care about it. I mean, we follow baseball pretty darn closely and I couldn't care less, if my team isn't in it, about the playoffs until they're playing for the right to go to the World Series.

7) How many people are gonna be buying ice cream at the park on Opening Day when they can get a snow cone from the arm rest on their seat?

Well, that's enough nonsense from us for now. Enjoy Opening Day, baseball fans, no matter what the weather in your city is like. Here's hoping you have a great baseball season in 2011 and that your team wins more games than anyone is predicting.

Staff
Baseballevaluation.com

Friday, March 18, 2011

American League Team Predictions 2011

American League

Wins Loss
American League East

New York Yankees 97 65
Boston Red Sox * 90 72
Tampa Bay Rays 76 86
Baltimore Orioles 76 86
Toronto Blue Jays 71 91
American League Central

Detroit Tigers 86 76
Chicago White Sox 84 78
Minnesota Twins 82 80
Cleveland Indians 70 92
Kansas City Royals 65 97
American League West

Texas Rangers 92 70
Oakland A's 84 78
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 81 81
Seattle Mariners 71 91



Wild Card Winner - Boston Red Sox

Note: Team predictions based on relationship of PEVA Shuffle Index - Preseason 2011 to wins and losses.

American League East
There are a whole lot of people who think the Boston Red Sox made the biggest gains this offseason and will best the Yankees for the top of the American League East in 2011. We're not one of them. While the additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford will add a new dynamic to their offense, we're just not as sure about their pitching. Of course, a big rebound by Josh Beckett will go a long way toward mitigating that concern and it's not like we're fans of the Rafael Soriano huge contract, either to pitch in the eighth inning or an eventual ninth if needed. We just think the offense of New York, with pillers at every position and new emerging players like Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner will take the cake. But don't fret Red Sox fans, we still think you're gonna make the playoffs as the real Wild Card, before Bud adds another spud to the Wild Card mix in another year or two.

Unfortunately for the rest of the division, they're gonna be playing for themselves as we see no way for the Orioles, Blue Jays, or Rays to contend for the playoffs in 2011. But there are some quiet good things happening in Baltimore as they surround young players like Markakis, Wieters, and Jones with veterans who know how to win. We just wish they knew how to pitch. And there's gonna be a lull in Ray land until all those draft picks they gained from losing free agents come of age. Hopefully Evan Longoria won't get too frustrated by then. The Blue Jays are really counting on young pitchers to make up for the two years of losing their top gun, plus a newly found power hitter in Bautista remaining so for years. We like some players here such as Lind and Hill, plus Drabek in out years, but not this year.

American League Central
This is going to be an exciting race that could go down to the last week between three teams. And even though we're picking, statistically, the Detroit Tigers, to come out on top, it really could be any of the three. There's things to like about all three. Miguel Cabrera and young pitchers in Verlander and Porcello coming of age. In Chicago, the south side has added what we think will end up being the best offensive free agent signing of the offseason in Adam Dunn, and they have just enough pitching to keep competitive in the Central with Mark Buehrle, John Danks, and the rest of the cast. If Minnesota can get and stay healthy, they might even be the favorite, but the injury woes of Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan, and to a lesser extent, Joe Mauer, will go a long way to determining the winner here. We actually think all three are bound to have great years and rebound from last season, but for now, the shuffle index goes with Detroit, winning in two games over Chicago, and four games over Minnesota. It's going to be a fascinating time around the Great Lakes this year. Give the Indians and Royals a couple more years and we think you're gonna see some special things from these teams. Kansas City has, in almost all the experts opinions, the best farm system in baseball with prospects at all corners. Think three years down the line, but they are coming. Some of the comers are already there for Cleveland, but the young players they gained from trades like Lee to Philadelphia, are gonna have growing pains. Donald, Carrasco, and others will start to pay dividends in 2011, but not large ones just yet. And we are rooting for a complete return of Grady Sizemore to the greatness everybody saw in him two to three years ago.

American League West
We didn't foresee the rise of the Texas Rangers last year. But this season, we do see them repeating as AL West champs. Probably don't have them in the World Series again though. And that young crew at Oakland is going to make a lot of waves with a dynamic pitching staff of Anderson, Braden, Gonzalez, and more. We don't think they have enough offense to win 90 games, which we think it would take to overcome Texas, but there's going to be more than a few teams not wanting to take that road trip to the Oakland Coliseum (and it's not because of the stadium) and face those young arms. We think the Angels have just enough to hang around awhile and finish near 0.500. Just don't think they have enough to contend through September. We do, however, like some of their arms as well and expect good years from Weaver, Santana, and Haren. But they could have used one of those stellar free agents to drop into Anaheim and prop up the offense. For Seattle, they have two of the most dynamic players in the game in Ichiro and Felix. Unfortunately, there's just not enough others around, although some are young and good, to win in 2011. But don't give up hope, we were wrong about the Rangers last year.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

National League Team Predictions 2011

National League

Wins Loss
National League East

Philadelphia Phillies 98 64
Atlanta Braves 88 74
Florida Marlins 78 84
Washington Nationals 76 86
New York Mets 76 86
National League Central

St. Louis Cardinals * 89 73
Milwaukee Brewers * 89 73
Cincinnati Reds 86 76
Chicago Cubs 77 85
Houston Astros 70 92
Pittsburgh Pirates6698
National League West

San Francisco Giants 92 70
Los Angeles Dodgers 88 74
Colorado Rockes 82 80
San Diego Padres 77 85
Arizona Diamondbacks 75 87
NL Central Winner - St. Louis Cardinals
Wild Card Winner - Milwaukee Brewers


Note: Team predictions based on relationship of PEVA Shuffle Index - Preseason 2011 to wins and losses. Shuffle Index has been adjusted to reflect injury to Adam Wainwright; see explanation below.

National League East
It's really a huge change since their World Series championship in 2008 for the Philadelphia Phillies. This team is all about pitching with a big four in Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, and Hamels in which every one of them could contend for the Cy Young Award. Their PEVA preseason shuffle pitching total of 129.754 is huge. How huge you might say? Is it best ever huge? Well, not quite, but if they perform up to their pitching level of 2010, it would be the fifth highest total in the history of the game. That's pretty big. But there's been a decline, it seems, on the offensive side. When you're missing Pat Burrell, (yes, we said Pat Burrell. You did notice him winning another World Series in San Francisco last year) Jason Werth, and perhaps for some of the season, Chase Utley, it hurts. Fortunately for Philly, they might only have to score 3 runs to win on a lot of nights. There are some who think this team could win 110 games. It could, but only if the offense rebounds to the way it used to score runs. Right now, the stats say 98 wins, but we wouldn't be surprised if there were more. The Atlanta Braves are a good team and getting better all the time. With the addition of Dan Uggla in the middle of their lineup, along with old stars like Chipper, and new ones like Jason, we predict a lot of wins for the Braves this year and contention for a Wild Card slot with the likes of St. Louis, Milwaukee, and the Dodgers. Down the Eastern Division line, the Nationals of Washington are going to be better than people think. We wouldn't have signed Jason Werth to that contract, but if he can perform like he did in 2010 with Ryan Zimmerman becoming a force at 3B there and on a national stage, they might move up the standings some. Might need that Strasberg fellow to do more than that though. Florida is likely to edge them out for third spot, however. They have their own youngsters on the rise there in Mike Stanton and better pitching. And those Mets. I guess if they get healthy players, they could get more wins, but there seems to be a culture there that would be better off changed. We don't think that change is now.

National League Central
Yes, we've adjusted the PEVA shuffle index to reflect the loss of Adam Wainwright for the season to the St. Louis Cardinals. We don't usually do this, but it seemed appropriate since his PEVA factor from 2010 was so high (he might have been the 2nd best pitcher in baseball last year) and we know he's out for the year. And how much is this gonna cost the Cards? We think in the range of 9 wins. But guess what, this team is so good, they're still gonna win 89 times and edge out the Milwaukee Brewers in a one game playoff for the title. Exciting, isn't it! But don't fret, fans of Fielder, Braun, Wolf, and Greinke, you're still gonna make the playoffs. But neither of these tasks is gonna be easy as the offensive juggernaut that is the Cincinnati Reds, is bound to win more than a few contests. And if their pitching holds up, we wouldn't be surprised if the Reds took the top spot and knocked one of the other two from the playoff round. For the Cubs, Astros, and Pirates, this might be a long year. We do not like what the Cubs have been doing over the last decade in constructing a team and we haven't seen enough change yet to think they're bound to contend. We think the Astros, or Phillies retread south, will be better than many think and could surprise for awhile. We've always liked those past Phils like Happ and Bourn. They're better than many think. And oh, those Pirates. Think Royals without as much coming from the farm.

National League West
Pitching, pitching, and more pitching keeps coming at you in that beautiful ballpark on the bay and we don't see it stopping any time soon. A repeat in the NL West by the Giants, who added some nice pieces on the offensive side with the addition of Miguel Tejada, is in order, although we do see the LA Dodgers making them run for their money. Colorado has been signing their young players to long term contracts and see this version of the Rockies as having tons of potential. So do we. Just don't think it will be this year. For San Diego and Arizona. Just too many losses in players and victories to add up to contending seasons. They'll pitch well in Padre land and hit well in Diamondback territory, but their lack of punch on the other side of the ball will see that stacking up losses at a higher pace than their fans would like in 2011.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

PEVA Shuffle Index 2011

PEVA Shuffle Index - Batting Power Rankings

March 16, 2011 - The Hot Stove league is behind us and preseason games are about to give way to the regular season. And then we'll know, won't we. Just who did the best job of the off-season and shuffled their lineup into a juggernaut, or not. And it's funny. With all the yammer about that great pitching rotation in Philadelphia, or that great team in St. Louis that just lost the second best pitcher of last season, or about those Yanks and Sox, the team that may have made the best overall splash of the offseason, but did it very quietly, was the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hmmm. I wonder if that'll mean those Dodger blue will contend with their Giant foes for the title this year. But we're getting ahead of ourselves, or at least diving into the overall effect pool, so before we go too far afield, let's get back to the topic at hand. Who has done the best offseason job in the PEVA Shuffle index for batters. Well, it's another blast from the past team, ... those Baltimore Orioles.

Top Five
1. Baltimore Orioles - No, Cal isn't coming back to play, but somehow, this squad has done a pretty nice job of adding productive offseason players this year. Yes, they're a bit gimpy, ... see Vladimir Guerrero, and Derrick Lee, but they are a whole lot better than what was there last season, and those two old warhorses look pretty good surrounded by the up and coming young stars of Nick Markakis and Adam Jones. Never really heard about them, ... well, we get the feeling that you will. And let's not forget Mark Reynolds coming over from Arizona. Yes, he'll strike out alot, and that can be a problem. But he's gonna hit a bunch of homers out of Camden Yards and make for some interesting games. Unfortunately for Oriole fans, the pitching staff didn't make as many strides, so you might be looking at football scores, but it will be interesting.

2. Texas Rangers - Geez, the club that lost Vlad comes in at number #2. What's up with that! Well, what's up is that even though they made that subtraction, they added three bats with solid credentials. One big stick in Adrian Beltre, and a couple smaller ones in Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba. Now we're not big fans of Adrian, but maybe that's just us, and we'll have to see whether this second big contract, and a hitter's park, will work out better than the first one in a pitcher's park. But for now, he's the big part of why the Texas Rangers have made the #2 spot on this shuffle list.

3. Boston Red Sox - Not alot to say about this. Pretty simple really. Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Enough said.


4. Chicago White Sox - For some reason we think the White Sox got the best of free agency when they signed Adam Dunn. No, he's not a gazelle anywhere in the field, but he's one of the most consistent power hitters in the game who's not considered great, and added to the power already on the south side, we think the White Sox are gonna contend for the Central title with Detroit and Minnesota all year long.

5. Oakland A's - No big time moves for the moneyball crowd, but the additions of David DeJesus, Josh Willingham, and and Hideki Matsui will provide a better offense for those good young pitchers to pitch behind. Don't be surprised if they contend, although they may fall just short in the end.

Bottom Five
26. Florida Marlins - Dan Uggla can hit, and now he's doing it in Atlanta. And I'm sorry, but super sub Omar Infante is not an All-Star caliber player. Yes, they're not gonna be counting on him to carry them, that'll be up to the young guns like Mike Stanton, but as far as experienced major leaguers, the Marlins took a step back. But they're used to it.

27. Philadelphia Phillies - Focused on pitching by adding Cliff Lee and losing Jason Werth gets you into this bottom five.

28. San Diego Padres - Any team that loses Adrian Gonzalez is gonna take a hit.

29. Tampa Bay Rays - We're having a sale. They all must go, except Evan Longoria. And now they're gone, but hey, Tampa Bay has so many draft picks in 2011, they'll be able to field one pretty good team in six years or so. Hopefully, for Tampa fans, it won't take that long.

30. Toronto Blue Jays - Second year in a row, they've taken the last spot. That's no way to run an airline.


PEVA Shuffle Index - Pitching Power Rankings

March 15, 2011 - It's hard to believe if you're a Philly fan, but the best pitchers in the game want to pitch in your bandbox. Last year, Roy Halladay helped Philly to the #3 spot in the positive pitching shuffle rankings, and this year it's Cliff Lee who puts them into the top spot.

Who has done the best in the PEVA Shuffle for pitchers.

Top Five
1. Philadelphia Phillies - Okay, we already stated the primary lead, but let's not forget, lead number #2. They now also have a full year of Roy Oswalt.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers - Even though at a lower scale than the Phillies and their two big guns, the Dodgers have quietly added 21.898 PEVA points to the pitching staff (Philadelphia added 29.097). Jon Garland won 14 games last year; that's not too shabby. And Ted Lilly will be on staff for the whole year as Oswalt will. Add to that the minor, but important additions of Matt Guerrier and Blake Hawksworth. We get the feeling the Dodgers will surprise some folks this season.

3. Milwaukee Brewers - Zach Grienke won the AL Cy Young in 2009; he's now on staff. When you add pitching to those boppers, it might be a season of fireworks in Brew Crew land.

4. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - Yes, even though those Angels seem to be in a decreasing mode the last couple years as they missed out on free agent after free agent, and lost some of their own, they made a few nice changes on their pitching staff between the start of last season and this one. Dan Haren back for a full year and Hisinori Takahashi on board as well.

5. Florida Marlins - Took some hits on the offensive side of the ball, but with the additions of Randy Choate, Edward Mujica, Dustin Richardson, and Javier Vasquez, things look up. And if Vasquez pitches as well as he usually does in any place not named New York, this positive impact could even be greater.

Bottom Five
26. Seattle Mariners - The Cliff Lee era of Seattle lasted a very short time, none of it is going to happen in 2011.

27. Houston Astros - Ditto for Roy Oswalt, although we actually think the addition of J.A. Happ is gonna end up being very good for them.

28. San Diego Padres - Jon Garland is now pitching north of here, although with this ballpark, we're guessing some of their young pitchers will be able to fill in the gap.

29. Toronto Blue Jays - Last year, it was their best pitcher, Roy Halladay going south; this year, it was their best pitcher, Shawn Marcum, going west. Not a good trend in a division that includes Yanks and Sox.

30. Tampa Bay Rays - Matt Garza and relievers de jeur flying the fish coup.
Time to wade into the kiddy pool.

PEVA Shuffle Index 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's Gonna Be A Player's Arbitration Year

There's not a whole lot a real good number crunching GM can say. Hey, don't you know there's a recession going on? We can't possibly give Francisco Liriano $5m!

That ship has sailed, that plane has flown, that Elvis has left not only the building, but he's residing now in Reno after retirement from that Las Vegas gig.

When a cadre of GMs stepped to the plate during the first two weeks of January as they prepared their arbitration numbers and broke the proverbial bank for their players who had achieved that status and awarded contracts way beyond the norm, or prudent, in order to keep them from the arb table, there's no use almost anyone getting into that argument. The argument is lost. Prince Fielder, who's at least a very good to great player, was awarded the highest amount in history with a $15.5m one year deal. A player like Kyle Kendrick, ... Kyle Kendrick for sake, was awarded $2,450,000. He'd have been ecstatic with $1,609,000, which is where the SPRO salary projection system pegged him. This is a man with an above MLB average ERA, and although we actually like Kyle, most teams have a half dozen guys toiling in their minors who could step in right now and perform to that ERA and get the major league minimum, $414,000.

Matt Capps got $7.15 million after one good year; geez, didn't he used to be someone the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals didn't really want a little more than that one year ago after he posted an ERA of 5.80 in 2009?

Okay, we'll stop now. You get the picture. Salaries are rising in professional sports, and particularly baseball and their arbitration eligibles this year. Somehow, someone should have reminded somebody that the public who pays their salaries don't have jobs.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Shock of This Years HOF Election

No, it's not in who made it, or even in who came close. We predicted that Bert Blylevin and Roberto Alomar would be in this year, even though we'd have preferred Jeff Bagwell over one of them, but recognized that he wouldn't make it. Thought his percentage was about where it would be, in the middle of the electorate pack. But the shock of this election, ... no doubt about it for us, ... was in the one and done candidacy of one of the best pitchers of his age, yet below the radar for most, Kevin Brown.

Ask most baseball fans who Kevin Brown was and you'll likely get a shrug. There's the reason, folks, he didn't get in. He's also getting that shrug from the writers. But that's just not fair. Kevin Brown, during some years, was one of the most dominant pitchers in the game. Yes, he moved from team to team to team. And that hurts. No, he didn't pitch as long at the top of his game as he should have. We recognize that, too. However, there were those 211 wins sprinked across the baseball landscape of Texas, Baltimore, Florida, San Diego, the Dodgers, and the Yankees. From 1996 to 2000, he won 82 games and pitched over 230.0 innings each year, some of that during the peak of the steroid era. His ERA those years had a low of 1.89 and a high of 3.00.

Let's track those years and how he ranked among all pitchers for those 5 seasons.
1996 - #2 behind John Smoltz
PEVA 40.004 (#65 best pitching year in baseball history)
1997 - #9 behind Clemens, Maddux, Martinez, Schilling, Neagle, Randy Johnson, Kile, Pettite
PEVA 22.694
1998 - #2 behind Maddux
PEVA 42.712 (#47 best pitching year in baseball history)
1999 - #3 behind Pedro and Randy Johnson
PEVA 29.265
2000 - #4 behind Martinez, Maddux, Johnson
PEVA 23.960

Only future Hall of Famers above him.

Oh, sure, he was pretty good those years, but overall, he didn't have enough wins. Maybe that's an okay reason to keep him out of the HOF, but it's certainly not enough to kick him out after the first year of eligibility.

And BTW. Don Drysdale had 209 wins. Hal Newhouser 207. Pedro Martinez has 219 and he's gonna get in in the first year. And let's not rank on his winning percentage. Kevin Brown was 211 and 144. 59.4%. Hey, I wanted Bert to get in, but his winning percentage was 53.4%. Brown's career ERA was 3.28, Blylevin 3.31, Jack Morris (the new darling of the not yet in crowd) 3.90. And Brown pitched in a much more difficult era to pitch than either.

There needs to be a do-over here and the writers who vote should be ashamed. Again, I'm okay that a pitcher like Kevin Brown is on the outside looking in, but he should be on the outside looking in after he gets the same 15 years consideration of any other pitcher with more than 200 victories. If after those years, he still is not in the Hall, so be it. He's not an automatic lock to us, but better than a bunch of others already in.

And at the end of the day, perhaps even after the Veterans Committee considers Brown way down the line, he'll might be the best pitcher in baseball history not to make the Hall of Fame. Geez, this is one time I hope those men on the VC quickly rectify this overlook, and at least give Brown a fair shot to make his case the same way Blylevin did and Jack Morris will.

To check out more about Brown and where he ranks in baseball history, buy the Stat Geek Baseball, Best Ever Book, now in the updated 2011 version.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Our Ballot for the Hall

Okay, we don't have one, but if we did, what would our ballot for the Hall of Fame class of 2011 look like. It would be short. Our philosophy about the Hall of Fame is that it is a special place for special players and don't like it when marginal candidates enter. However, our philosophy, at least as far as who will get into the Hall of Fame is changing. We acknowledge that election has alot to do with positions and where players rank among players who played at catcher or shortstop or first base did, and we'll now take that into consideration. But we still think election should be rare. How rare? Only no doubt about it candidates plus about one other per year. In the average year, we think there should be two players elected; if there are three no doubts, then a maximum of three, and never less than one. Okay, that's our philosophy, not saying it's a good one.

Here goes our application of that philosophy for 2011. There is only one no doubt about it candidate for us and it won't be one that everybody agrees with.

We vote for: Jeff Bagwell.
Why: In Stat Geek Baseball's PEVA rankings of best offensive players in baseball history, Bagwell has 293.606 PEVA Regular Season points. Every player with more than 275.000 who is eligible for the Hall of Fame is already in Cooperstown. That's a no doubt about it for us. Add in 449 HR, 1529 RBI, and a 0.297 batting average. Add in the fact that he's the best player in the history of the Houston Astros, too.
Why He Probably Won't Make It This Year: Most HOF voters will not think he's a First Year and In type of player. Not dominant enough for them. And they don't think 1500 RBI is magic like 500 HR used to be.

We vote for: Bert Blylevin
Why: Because he's the best player just below the No Doubt About Its not to be in and this is his last year. PEVA points of 271.050 regular season is just below the 275.000 automatic line, and his 287 wins are just below 300. And we don't hold those 250 losses against him as much as others might, because of the teams he played for. A 3.31 ERA, even though he pitched 22 years, is pretty good, too.
Why He Will Make It This Year: Second to last year of eligibility and we don't think the writers will want to make him wait out that final year or until the Veterans Committee. Plus he was so close last year.

Who'll Also Get In This Year That We Won't Vote For: Roberto Alomar
Why: Not an automatic inclusion for us, and we already voted for Blylevin. Alomar is gonna make it however, and we won't argue against it. He would be the 7th highest ranked second basemen in the Hall, of 19 in, if elected. And it's fine with us to elect someone in the top half of his position. We just wouldn't do it this year.

Who Won't Get In This Year, but eventually will: Kevin Brown and Barry Larkin
Why: Kevin Brown was a lot better than many folks remember, but it will take more than a few years until he gets elected. His lack of wins, 211, will hurt him, but eventually people will realize that Brown may have been a pitcher in the mold of Don Sutton and Fergie Jenkins and eventually vote him in. He would be ranked #16 All-Time among HOF members today in PEVA total, and that would be among 61 already in. Barry Larkin is not someone will will vote for, ... just think he'd be below the half way mark in shortstops already in the Hall and there are too many of them in there already, 21. But we think the voters will vote him in, and he's certainly in the class of Pee Wee Reese and Ozzie Smith, but we likely wouldn't have voted for them either.

Who Will Likely Never Make It: Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro. And it's not just the PED issue, although that will be the one that doesn't allow them to be included for most. They're just not automatic Hall of Fame guys to me and with the PED cloud in there as well, not gonna make it, at least from the vantage point of today.

Well, we'll have to wait until tomorrow to see who's in for 2011 or not. It'll be interesting to see where the new candidates sit after that day. How far up the percentage totals people like Kevin Brown are and if this year greets Bert with a HOF nod. We hope it does.