Hot starts don’t necessarily dictate the results of May through October, because that’s only one month of baseball done, and even one month’s worth of goodies is a small sample size of information. Still, it’s not like it’s not fun to look at some of the numbers that were a little unexpected.
Win and Losses Division
The AL East really was, and still is anybody’s division to win, and so maybe Boston’s 18-8 record — and the best in baseball — shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. What is the bigger surprise can be found at the bottom of the division where the Toronto Blue Jays reside at 10-17. There are three teams with a worse record than that, two won’t surprise you, one may: Astros, Marlins, Angels.
Another unexpected positive performance has come from the NL West leading Colorado Rockies, and second place Kansas City are only a half game back of the 2012 AL Champs. Different league, but still the Central, the top four teams in the NLC are all within one game of each other.
Position Players Division
Surprising that Justin Upton has 12 homers? Probably not. Surprising that New York Mets catcher John Buck is tied for second with 9? Very! We always knew Chris Davis had power, just wondered if his contact rate would get in the way. You expected him to have more of a slash line like Anthony Rizzo than one like Bryce Harper.
This may not surprise you, but I did not think Carl Crawford would have as solid of an April as he’s had. 1.3 fWAR with a .390 wOBA, including 4 HR and SB. You do that every month and that gets you MVP votes.
Players in the bottom 15 of fWAR include players like Melky Cabrera (0 HR), Matt Kemp (84 wRC+), and Josh Hamilton (51 wRC+). I’m sure Melky’s place there doesn’t surprise the PED skeptics, but bottom 15 bad?
Starting Pitchers Division
Continuing with the bottom, it surprises me that two of the bottom seven fWAR performances belong to starters on the Giants staff, and neither of them are Barry Zito (Matt Cain, and Ryan Vogelsong). Brandon McCarthy may sport a horrible 7.48 ERA, but his 3.67 FIP is better than league average, and that 3.82 residual is pretty astounding for anybody.
In a shocking development, Stephen Strasburg and Jeff Samardzija‘s 1-4 W-L record may not tell you that they’ve actually done quite alright for their team, it’s just, you know, that whole run support thing.
Sergio Romo, Jason Grilli, Mariano Rivera, and Jim Johnson may have ten saves, but your leader for relievers in fWAR is James Russell of the Cubs and Craig Kimbrel, Matt Belisle, and four others at 0.6.
Speaking of Sergio, no “closer” has been brought into more games than him. 15. Brad Ziegler leads in appearances with 17. That’s a pretty healthy dose of usage early on.
I know John Axford was on the decline, but that 8 ERA and 7 FIP are more of a fall from grace than just a “decline.”
If you added Brandon League and Huston Street‘s K% (I know it doesn’t work like that, but work with me here), it would be 20.0%. Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Bailey, and Greg Holland would still have more than double that K%.
So there are some of your surprises from this month, definitely varying on the spectrum of surprisability, but those are some of the things that got my attention. What surprised you this month?
Today is a day of Aces. Don’t believe me?
Lester/Dickey, Sabathia/Verlander, Strasburg/Cueto, Shields/Hamels, Masterson/Price, Wainwright/Cain, Weaver/Darvish. Happy Sunday.
— Paul Boyé (@Phrontiersman) April 7, 2013
I mean, thats a great lineup of baseball for the people to take in and watch. The one our attention is turned to the most is the one with Adam Wainwright and Matt Cain. The lineups have been posted for this Sunday baseball matchup of the #1’s.
For the 2012 NL runner-ups:
— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) April 7, 2013
For the 2012 Ring Masters:
Once again, same soup for the Giants in this last game of the series before they welcome in the Colorado Rockies beginning tomorrow night.
Important information about the ring ceremony:
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) April 7, 2013
If it’s going to be as fun as the 2011 one was, this should also be a must-see event. I’m planning on watching and will get the GIF-machine revved up and ready to go. Until then, enjoy the day baseball before the rings get showed off and we all dream of owning one for ourselves.
P.S.: if you’re at the game and have an extra replica ring, I’d love to talk to you about how we may arrange for you to give it to me 🙂
Idea: Rank the best individual seasons of the 2012 MLB regular season (Spring Training, Minor Leagues, and Postseason are not included), while considering offensive and defensive facets of the game.
Consider: Using the individual metrics to measure individual performance; full avoidance of projecting results for shortened seasons, and past years performance to justify or dictate standings.
This is not: “Most Valuable” anything. Rather, this is “best,” like Baseball America does, so there is no confusion as to what I am ranking. It is also not a “this is a ranking of who I want in 2013, or wanted in any other year.”
This is: My opinion, and will be disagreed with by many.
60. Matt Cain (219.1 IP, 7.92 K/9, 3.60 tERA, 3.8 fWAR, 3.5 rWAR) – In the battle of Cain v. Kuroda, if you really value WAR, you’ll take Kuroda, but the FIP and tERA speak to me more, as does Cain doing the work in one less start than Kuroda.
59. Elvis Andrus (31 2B, 21 SB, .322 wOBA, 4.2 fWAR, 3.5 rWAR) – Imagine if this kid can get the bat going more, and he will be a talent that not just demands, but deserves the 9-figure deal.
58. Jose Reyes (37 2B, 40 SB, .335 wOBA, 4.5 fWAR, 2.8 rWAR) – I almost had a pretty neat string of 2013 Toronto Blue Jays going, but I think Jose will have a great time frolicking with an organization that isn’t made of pure Snakeinthegrass.
57. James Shields (227.2 IP, 8.82 K/9, 3.52 tERA, 4.3 fWAR, 2.2 rWAR) – Though he may be one of the better pitchers in the game, I think it is reasonable to worry about whether he will be what the Royals traded him for (their ace).
55. Josh Hamilton (43 HR, 31 2B, .387 wOBA, 4.4 fWAR, 3.4 rWAR) – Forever will be remembered by me as “the guy that didn’t hit enough HR” in 2012, or for his 2011 Game 6 HR that really should have given Texas a Title.
54. Melky Cabrera (25 2B, 10 3B, .387 wOBA, 4.6 fWAR, 4.7 rWAR) – Like Chooch, not sure how much the PED helped Melky, but Toronto is certainly willing to find out.
53. Edwin Encarnacion (42 HR, 13 SB, .396 wOBA, 4.4 fWAR, 4.6 rWAR) – Maybe everybody’s hitters should take some time in Toronto over the off-season to get coached to find a new timing mechanism to get them the power. We’ll get to see if this was a fluke year, or if him and Joey Bats are just getting started.
52. Dustin Pedroia (39 2B, 20 SB, .344 wOBA, 4.5 fWAR, 4.4 rWAR) – His glove is what gets him here, along with his low K numbers, power, and speed at a position not known for such attributes.
51. Ryan Zimmerman (25 HR, 36 2B, .352 wOBA, 4.5 fWAR, 3.8 rWAR) – Like Peavy, it was good to see Zimm healthy for most of the season, and reminded the people that he can be an integral part of a championship-level team.
50. Jake Peavy (219.0 IP, 7.97 K/9, 3.99 tERA, 4.4 fWAR, 5.0 rWAR) – Maybe he’s returning to his San Diego performance days, and I know the White Sox are certainly hoping so as well.
49. Adam Wainwright (198.2 IP, 8.34 K/9, 3.72 tERA, 4.4 fWAR, 5.9 rWAR) – Had he a better defense, and better run support, he probably would have been a bigger competitor in any award he was eligible for. Nearly a 0.80 difference between his ERA and FIP.
48. Adam Jones (32 HR, 16 SB, .361 wOBA, 4.6 fWAR, 3.4 rWAR) – Speaking of walks, Adam Jones does not, but he provides the boom as a replacement. May be a problem as he gets older, but he just completed his age 26 season.
47. Wade Miley (194.2 IP, 6.66 K/9, 4.11 tERA, 4.8 fWAR, 3.2 rWAR) – Just a rookie, Miley did a great job keeping the walks down, as it’s hard to find many of the top starters on this list that had lower than a 2.00 BB/9.
46. Angel Pagan (15 3B, 29 SB, .334 wOBA, 4.8 fWAR, 4.0 rWAR) – Giants fans are just glad he got out of his slump in the leadoff spot well in time for the later months and postseason run.
45. CC Sabathia (200.0 IP, 8.87 K/9, 3.87 tERA, 4.8 fWAR, 3.3 rWAR) – And all that was done in 28 starts, too, which is the same amount of starts Strasburg had.
44. Johnny Cueto (217.0 IP, 7.05 K/9, 3.91 tERA, 4.8 fWAR, 5.8 rWAR) – Had Cueto kept up his first half dominance, he probably would have run away with the Cy Young Award.
43. Josh Reddick (32 HR, 11 SB, .326 wOBA, 4.8 fWAR, 4.5 rWAR) – Shocked that he was healthy a whole year, Reddick proved to be a fantastic surprise of healthiness for the surprise AL West Champs.
42. Max Scherzer (187.2 IP, 11.08 K/9, 3.71 tERA, 4.6 fWAR, 4.0 rWAR) – I was debating how he and Cueto should match up, and a lot of people might sight his ERA, but I’m not sure why the awful defense behind him should give the edge to the NLDS Game 1 SP from Cincy.
41. Cole Hamels (215.1 IP, 9.03 K/9, 2.75 tERA, 4.5 fWAR, 4.2 rWAR) – Every time I see “Cole Hamels” all I think is “Coal Hammels,” and I have even once typed in “Hammels” on accident.
The Season Series
May 16th — St. Louis 4, San Francisco 1 (AT&T Park)
May 17th — San Francisco 7, St. Louis 5 (AT&T Park)
August 6th — St. Louis 8, San Francisco 2 (Busch Stadium)
August 7th — San Francisco 4, St. Louis 2 (Busch Stadium)
August 8th — San Francisco 15, St. Louis 0 (Busch Stadium)
August 9th — St. Louis 3, San Francisco 1 (Busch Stadium)
The Cardinals were one strike away from being done. Again. Then Yadier Molina took two balls for a walk. Then they were down to their last strike on three pitches, once again. Then David Freese, Postseason Immortal, took three balls to load the bases. Daniel Descalso singled on the next pitch, and all of a sudden, Drew Storen and the Nats found themselves clinging for their lives, and after Pete Kozma took two quick strikes, then two balls, singled in Freese and Descalso. The Nationals couldn’t rally, and the Giants headed home as the Cardinals champagned themselves in Washington. Carlos Beltran tweeted that the Cardinals got to San Francisco around 6:00AM PST this morning and will have the day off while the Giants have an afternoon workout on tap.
Sunday: Game 1, 5:15PM PST, FOX: RHP Lance Lynn vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner
Postseason Performance: Lynn relieved and threw in 4 G, 3.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K’s. MadBum started Game 2, threw 4.1 innings, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K’s. My fear is that Bumgarner is fatigued, and he will get a chance to show he’s not, likely in two starts because sweeping this St. Louis team is very unlikely in my opinion.
Monday: Game 2, 5:07PM PST, FOX: RHP Chris Carpenter vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong
NLDS performance: Carpenter started and surrendered 7 H in 5.2 IP, 2 BB, threw 2 K’s, but saw no runs cross the plate in his start. Vogey threw in Game 3 and despite a slow start, pitched 5 innings, gave up only 3 H, 3 BB, K’d 5, and only 1 crossed the plate in their extra inning thriller. Carpenter just came back, so it must be nice for the Cardinals to have a relatively fresh arm on their staff in October.
Wednesday: Game 3, 1:07PM PST, FOX: RHP Matt Cain vs. RHP Kyle Lohse
With Wainwright throwing only 53 pitches on Friday, I’m speculating he’ll get the call here and push Lohse to Game 4. Nevermind that.
NLDS performance: Matt Cain started twice, but never got past the 6th inning, going 10.2 IP, giving up 11 H, watching 6 ER cross the plate, while walking 3, and striking out 9. Lohse has been a key to keeping his team in the game to advance past the Braves and the Nationals, striking out 11, walking 2, and surrendering 8 hits in 12.2 IP.
Thursday: Game 4, 5:07PM PST, FOX: RHP Tim Lincecum vs. RHP Adam Wainwright
Postseason performance: Lincecum struck out 8 in 6.1 IP, and not walking anyone in his two appearances while Wainwright was great in Game 1, but left it up in Game 5 and left early and if he continues to do that, he will get punished even by the less powerful Giants offense.
*Friday: Game 5, 5:07PM PST, FOX: LHP Madison Bumgarner vs. RHP Lance Lynn
*Sunday, October 21st: Game 6, 1:45PM PST, FOX: RHP Chris Carpenter vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong
*Monday, October 22nd: Game 7: 5:07PM PST, FOX: RHP Adam Wainwright vs. RHP Kyle Lohse
* — if necessary
Playoff Offense: Cardinals — 38 runs, 50 hits in 6 G, Giants — 18 runs, 32 hits in 5 G
Averaging more than 6 runs/game, and 8 hits/game, you’d think the Cardinals had just squared off against the Rockies in Coors Field, but instead they took it to two different playoff teams from the NL East and hit. That’s pretty intimidating considering the Giants really didn’t until their last two games. As for the players that did work, Carlos Beltran (2 HR, .409/.500/.818 in 22 AB) will be the player everyone types “should of” so much that the joke will get old, especially after his 30+ HR, 10+ SB season. Allen Craig has been getting his as well, posting a .348/.444/.609 in 23 AB while manning the 1B spot. Then there’s the infamous David Freese, whose .381/.440/.524 in 21 AB who always seems to be doing something positive for the Cardinals. These three hold the 2, 4, and 6 spots in the lineup, respectively, so you can understand how the Cardinals have been scoring as many runs as they have. On the other side of the pillow has been Yadier Molina, NL MVP vote-getter, and remarkably cold, with a .095/.296/.095 line in 21 AB and leadoff hitter Jon Jay, going .167/.222/.250 in 24 AB. I don’t expect them to stay down forever.
The Giants had only three guys get on base over 30% of the time, and while the Cardinals had five, the Giants highest OBP guy in the playoffs, Gregor Blanco (.375) would rank fifth on the Cardinals for OBP, so needless to say, the Giants don’t necessarily have hitters that are as “hot” to the degree that the Cardinals have been. I like to think the Reds pitched better than the Nationals though, or at least I hope so. Back to Blanco in his 14 AB, he went .286/.375/.571 with his 1 HR included, and Pablo actually had a higher AVG than OBP in his 21 AB with a .333/.318/.571 thanks in large part to his sac fly. Angel Pagan (.150/.217/.350 in 20 AB) and Marco Scutaro (.150/.227/.200 in 20 AB), whose NLDS numbers are overall pretty unattractive started to hit again as the series started to end, so hopefully that rise in hitting will continue against St. Louis.
Their Bullpen is on Fire
St. Louis has Trevor Rosenthal (97.6), Jason Motte (96.8), Mitchell Boggs (95.8), and Joe Kelly (94.4) that all have high velocity stuff, so the Giants go from facing one good bullpen from Cincinnati to a hard throwing one in St. Louis. If those guys can locate, watch out.
The Giants are likely to be billed as the underdog, but the Giants have proved before they can score runs… at least when they leave AT&T Park.
Game 1: Cardinals win (Bumgarner unable to adjust, Cards mash)
Game 2: Giants win (Vogelsong vintage as Carpenter makes enough mistakes for Giants to win)
Game 3: Cardinals win (Cain still struggling)
Game 4: Giants win (Timmy throws a gem)
Game 5: Giants win (Bumgarner gets his revenge)
Game 6: Giants win (Cards still have trouble with Vogelsong as bullpen slams the door, but not without some of that classic torture)
Should be a wild series, and the fun starts tomorrow.
I’m not going to lie: I am out of touch with the public when it comes to the feeling of what the fanbase is feeling after this weekend’s sweep, essentially taking a break from Twitter to focus on getting married, and I also never look at fanboards and comment sections to boot. However, after sweeping an MLB team, even if it is the lowly Rockies, probably has people feeling pretty good, including the guys getting paid to play. Now they travel to St. Louis, known for their improbable run to euphoria back last year, and they get mocked a lot for having “the best fans in baseball,” but after seeing them do the wave, it was probably a different time when/if they had the best fans. Something you may have noticed, these squads sport the same record, and we know the NL West hasn’t been all too strong, and some may say the weather may be an issue. I think the Giants already had their bad hot trip, and remember all too well how quickly things can get bad when they start making excuses.
Monday, August 6th: RHP Matt Cain vs. RHP Jake Westbrook
One sentence summary: The sinkerballer Westbrook is prone to giving up runs, but will eat up innings while Cainer looks to find his stroke after a rough outing vs. the Metropolitans.
Useless trivia: Of the four times Matt Cain has thrown less than 100 pitches, three of those times he’s thrown 97 (the other at 91 in his duel with Cliff Lee).
Tuesday, August 7th: LHP Barry Zito vs. RHP Lance Lynn
One sentence summary: The last two times Zito’s been on the bump the team has seen their opponent score 9, and 10, respectively, while Lance Lynn has been getting some great run support to back his nice strikeout ratio, and win-loss record.
Wednesday, August 8th: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. RHP Joe Kelly
One sentence summary: In his 10 starts, Kelly has not seen more than 3 ER get tacked to his record, and Vogelsong still has his amazing streak of 6+ IP in his starts going strong.
Thursday, August 9th: LHP Madison Bumgarner vs. RHP Adam Wainwright
One sentence summary: Bumgarner has only allowed more than 2 walks once this year, and Wainwright has just come off a complete game as this game promises to be one that grabs the attention of baseball fans.
The Bare Bones of the Offense
Alex Pavlovic was talking about Buster Posey putting up video game numbers, and if you’ve taken a look at the last seven days it’s even more video game: .500/.600/.958 with a .629 wOBA including 3 HR — who does that? Melky and Pagan have been contributing lately as well, Pagan especially thanks to the three-game stat-booster in Colorado. It’s been reported Pablo Sandoval won’t be pushed to join the lineup at the tail end of the series, so we’ll just have to wait for the weekend. Gregor Blanco and Brandon Crawford’s bats have been slowing the boys down within the past week.
You know who else hits 3 HR in a week? Matt Holliday. You know who steals 3 bags in a week? Yadier Molina…. which is shocking because you’re just not used to seeing a Molina with a SB recorded after getting to watch Bengie for so many years. Old friend Carlos Beltran is also swinging the stick well at the moment. Somebody that’s had good numbers all year but you might not know unless you’re into the fantasy baseball aspect of things is Allen Craig, so keep an eye on him. Rafael Furcal has been ice cold with a .090 wOBA in the last 7.
If the Giants sweep in St. Louis that’d be fantastic, but against a team like St. Louis, it’s an incredibly greater task than against a minor league team like the Rox.
Monday: Giants win (Bats still warm)
Tuesday: Cardinals win (Zito’s outing too demoralizing)
Wednesday: Giants win (Joe Kelly gets Cain’d)
Thursday: Cardinals win (Vintage Wainwright)
No more blog posts this week, so enjoy your baseball!