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?
Josh Hamilton, as you might have heard, hates people in Texas. Or Dallas. Or the Rangers. Something. With all the booing Hamilton received this weekend you’d think he’d have done something really, really bad. He had a poor stretch as the 2012 season came to an end, which didn’t sit well with fans, some perceived it as “giving up,” which is silly because I don’t get that. He signed with the Angels over the off-season, and the Rangers didn’t want to take that kind of financial gamble on him, so I’m not sure why they’re so mad about that. Would they have booed him less if he went to another non-AL West team? Yea, maybe a little. But what he said in Spring Training really got people in Texas going. Just stirring angry. Here’s what he said:
“Texas, especially Dallas, has always been a football town. The good with the bad is they’re supportive, but they also got a little spoiled at the same time, pretty quickly. You can understand a really true, true baseball town. There’s true baseball fans in Texas but it’s not a true baseball town.”
How dare he say Dallas is a football town! Mark Cuban is going to be pissed. And how will the Dallas Stars’ clever twitter account respond to that one??
Of course, you know that people are angry that he said Dallas isn’t a “true baseball town,” even though he clearly, and rightfully, acknowledged there are true baseball fans in Texas. Many people that attended the first games were really butthurt about this quote. Then I saw this sign on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball:
This can be read multiple ways:
- Before Arlington Hamilton was a was Baseball 1981 Born 1972 Town Now
- Before Hamilton was born 1981 Arlington was a Baseball 1972 Town Now
- Before Hamilton was born (1981) Arlington (1972-Now) was a Baseball Town
Huh. So from 1972-April 7, 2013 Arlington has been a baseball town? I’m hoping I see some really impressive figures to show me that this is the case. Should I not feed the trolls? I absolutely shouldn’t, but I’m curious because I actually forreally reals do not know what attendance was like before Hamilton, or myself, were born. Luckily for me, baseball reference always comes around to save the day:
|2013||Texas Rangers||4||2||2||Rangers Ballpark in Arlington||138,080||46,027||1st of 10|
|2012||Texas Rangers||93||69||2||Rangers Ballpark in Arlington||3,460,280||42,720||2nd of 14|
|2011||Texas Rangers||96||66||1||Rangers Ballpark in Arlington||2,946,949||36,382||5th of 14|
|2010||Texas Rangers||90||72||1||Rangers Ballpark in Arlington||2,505,171||30,928||5th of 14|
|2009||Texas Rangers||87||75||2||Rangers Ballpark in Arlington||2,156,016||26,617||8th of 14|
|2008||Texas Rangers||79||83||2||Rangers Ballpark in Arlington||1,945,677||24,021||11th of 14|
|2007||Texas Rangers||75||87||4||Ameriquest Field||2,353,862||29,060||8th of 14|
|2006||Texas Rangers||80||82||3||Ameriquest Field||2,388,757||29,491||7th of 14|
|2005||Texas Rangers||79||83||3||Ameriquest Field||2,525,221||31,176||6th of 14|
|2004||Texas Rangers||89||73||3||The Ballpark in Arlington||2,513,685||31,033||6th of 14|
|2003||Texas Rangers||71||91||4||The Ballpark in Arlington||2,094,394||25,857||7th of 14|
|2002||Texas Rangers||72||90||4||The Ballpark in Arlington||2,352,397||29,042||6th of 14|
|2001||Texas Rangers||73||89||4||The Ballpark in Arlington||2,831,021||34,525||5th of 14|
|2000||Texas Rangers||71||91||4||The Ballpark in Arlington||2,588,401||31,956||5th of 14|
|1999||Texas Rangers||95||67||1||The Ballpark in Arlington||2,771,469||34,216||5th of 14|
|1998||Texas Rangers||88||74||1||The Ballpark in Arlington||2,927,399||36,141||4th of 14|
|1997||Texas Rangers||77||85||3||The Ballpark in Arlington||2,945,228||36,361||4th of 14|
|1996||Texas Rangers||90||72||1||The Ballpark in Arlington||2,889,020||35,667||3rd of 14|
|1995||Texas Rangers||74||70||3||The Ballpark in Arlington||1,985,910||27,582||5th of 14|
|1994||Texas Rangers||52||62||1||The Ballpark in Arlington||2,503,198||39,733||3rd of 14|
|1993||Texas Rangers||86||76||2||Arlington Stadium||2,244,616||27,711||6th of 14|
|1992||Texas Rangers||77||85||4||Arlington Stadium||2,198,231||27,139||7th of 14|
|1991||Texas Rangers||85||77||3||Arlington Stadium||2,297,720||28,367||7th of 14|
|1990||Texas Rangers||83||79||3||Arlington Stadium||2,057,911||25,096||7th of 14|
|1989||Texas Rangers||83||79||4||Arlington Stadium||2,043,993||25,234||9th of 14|
|1988||Texas Rangers||70||91||6||Arlington Stadium||1,581,901||19,530||11th of 14|
|1987||Texas Rangers||75||87||6||Arlington Stadium||1,763,053||21,766||10th of 14|
|1986||Texas Rangers||87||75||2||Arlington Stadium||1,692,002||20,889||8th of 14|
|1985||Texas Rangers||62||99||7||Arlington Stadium||1,112,497||13,906||12th of 14|
|1984||Texas Rangers||69||92||7||Arlington Stadium||1,102,471||13,781||12th of 14|
|1983||Texas Rangers||77||85||3||Arlington Stadium||1,363,469||16,833||10th of 14|
|1982||Texas Rangers||64||98||6||Arlington Stadium||1,154,432||14,252||11th of 14|
|1981||Texas Rangers||57||48||2||Arlington Stadium||850,076||15,180||10th of 14|
|1980||Texas Rangers||76||85||4||Arlington Stadium||1,198,175||14,977||9th of 14|
|1979||Texas Rangers||83||79||3||Arlington Stadium||1,519,671||18,761||8th of 14|
|1978||Texas Rangers||87||75||2||Arlington Stadium||1,447,963||17,658||9th of 14|
|1977||Texas Rangers||94||68||2||Arlington Stadium||1,250,722||15,441||9th of 14|
|1976||Texas Rangers||76||86||4||Arlington Stadium||1,164,982||14,382||5th of 12|
|1975||Texas Rangers||79||83||3||Arlington Stadium||1,127,924||14,099||5th of 12|
|1974||Texas Rangers||84||76||2||Arlington Stadium||1,193,902||14,924||4th of 12|
|1973||Texas Rangers||57||105||6||Arlington Stadium||686,085||8,470||11th of 12|
|1972||Texas Rangers||54||100||6||Arlington Stadium||662,974||8,610||10th of 12|
Don’t you think “Baseball Towns” would consistently rank in the at least the top five of their league? They did so in 1974-1976, so maybe the area was feeling a little baseball-y, but with a capacity of over 35,700, through 1985 Rangers fans were only able to break 1.5 million attendees once with a possibility of being able to seat 2.891 million fans. This doesn’t mean there weren’t true baseball fans around, just saying the attendance data doesn’t suggest it was that kind of town from 1972-1985 whatsoever. Now, I do get that it’s hard to support a 100 loss team, I do, but there were also some winning records there, as well.
The question for now though that is Arlington a baseball town in the present an accurate statement is not one I could factually and emphatically state “yes” or “no,” and I know the SABR conference mentioned something about the growth in “unique” Texas Rangers fans, so I don’t think Arlington is inching away from becoming a baseball town. Word that I’ve just seen around twitter is that Arlington still isn’t a baseball town, what with their love for football at every level. Their current ballpark, The Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, has the potential to bring in nearly 3.9 million fans a season with the over 48,000 seating capacity it has.
So now that some Rangers fans live with a sound bite-sized chip on their shoulders, I’ll see it as interesting to see how they show up in good times and bad, and when I visit sometime in either 2014 or 2015, I’m very interested to see what I’ll experience when I get to the area, but it’s not going to matter to me whether it’s a baseball town or not. Just give me baseball.
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.
I had this article sitting on ice yesterday. Was just waiting for a certain pitcher to get off the market, but didn’t happen until this morning.
Announced around noon PST yesterday, news out of Anaheim (not Los Angeles) shocked just about everyone when they signed Josh Hamilton to a 5/$125MM deal and right now you can see him slotted in between Albert Pujols and Kendrys Morales here. We’ve heard Torii Hunter may be a little unhappy with that organization, and while the Angels may have gone two more years further than anyone else for Josh, there’s no doubt that in 2013 at least their lineup is pretty formidable. Now they just need to strengthen that starting rotation. My feelings about the contract are that this could be good for about two to three years, and then a whole lotta blah. Good for the Angels for going for it, though. This is also great for non-LA/OC area fans because now everyone will be rooting against any team with the name “Los Angeles” in them, and that’s never a bad thing, although this probably makes both LA/OC teams their respective division favorites on paper. Word has also been spreading that the Angels will face the Reds and Rangers first, two of Hamilton’s former teams.
Underrated Free Agent Anibal Sanchez is finally off the market, after the Detroit Tigers matched the Cubs’ offer in years and then added a few more dollars to give him a 5/$80MM contract. Sanchez and his agent gave the Tigers one last shot to match the 5-year deal from the Cubs, as Bob Nightengale reportes that Detroit initially offered him a team friendly 4/$48MM deal, and then raised it to an about market value deal that was reached by both sides. In the end, it appears Anibal Sanchez really wanted to be with an organization that had the image of being in the contenders role for more of the five years in his deal, and I know a lot of people see a lot of logic in that, myself included. Writing yesterday about the 5/$77MM the Cubs offered, I said that the Cubs should get most of the value of Anibal from that deal, and so the same goes with a 5/$80 with the Tigers. In the playoffs, Anibal Sanchez was the #3 pitcher behind Doug Fister and Max Scherzer.
As for major free agents still left? We’re still waiting on Michael Bourn to find a home, and teams that could employ him are looking for cheaper options, like that of Peter Bourjos and Dexter Fowler.
The Texas Rangers are in town for a weekend series, and you may be thinking to yourself, “I’ve heard of these guys before. Where have I seen them? Where….” and you would be the only one wondering that because Texas fans are going to be dam tired of 2010 stories where the pitching-heavy 2010 West an NL Champion San Francisco Giants put a 5-game beating on the Rangers that made you think even if “Everything’s Bigger in Texas,” it’s not always better. We’ll have all weekend to live in the past, let’s advance to the now:
Friday, June 8th: LHP Matt Harrison vs. LHP Barry Zito
Saturday, June 9th: RHP Scott Feldman vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong
Sunday, June 10th: RHP Alexi Ogando vs. RHP Tim Lincecum
Small-sample sizes in the Last 7 days: Batters to watch
Mike Napoli with his 1.156 OPS and .504 wOBA is the only one providing some above-average production for Texas right now, who are 2-5 in June thus far. Even Josh Hamilton right now has a .230 wOBA going and has more stolen bases (1) than HR (0). Mitch Moreland has found the time to ground into 4 double plays, while most of the Giants regulars haven’t even hit into that many this season. Nelson Cruz has struck out 34.6% of the time, Hamilton 31.3%. Suffice to say, they’re scuffling right now.
Ryan Theriot is still playing out of his mind with a .500/.563/.607 line with a .519 BABIP and a .516 wOBA with 3 SBs, the most in the last 7 of all regulars Texas or San Francisco, the man is making things happen on offense right now. You are probably aware Gregor Blanco has as many HR as Buster Posey and Angel Pagan (and every other Giant) combined with 2 (he also has a .400 ISO in the last 7). Guess who has the 2nd highest OBP to Theriot at .429? Your favorite baby giraffe, Brandon Belt, although his K% rate at 21.4% is still high. Too bad he probably won’t get much of a chance to improve those numbers tonight.
Honestly I have no idea how angry Texas is coming in, but if their bats are cold through this weekend, this should be a pretty easy series win. I say that because Texas’ starting pitching is not all that scary.
Friday: Giants win
Saturday: Giants win
Sunday: Rangers win
By now, you know the story. Josh Hamilton was at a bar Monday night and had a relapse. You’ve heard 10,000 different opinions since then, and maybe even saw or read his apology. I didn’t, but since I heard of the happening last night, I became indescribably sad. Not angry. Not disappointed. Certainly not happy nor rejoicing. In the end, as much as we love baseball or the athletes that we have been fortunate enough to watch, we still live a life.
Josh Hamilton’s struggles have been well chronicled. Another history lesson wouldn’t be necessary here. What I’m sad about is that when it happened you knew what would happen: the reaction of the general public would go nuts on him. Some people kept calm and tried to put perspective on it and were successful. Josh Hamilton is a human being, and I have a hard time getting on someone for going back to something they were once addicted to. I’ve never experienced drug/alcohol abuse, so I’m not going to pretend I can 100% empathize nor even close to criticize the man.
Rather, I’m with the crowd that pulls for him, that hopes he is able to reach the goals he wants to in his recovery, and that he is able to play out his baseball career until he says he’s ready to retire. Even news from today stating that contract extension talks are on hold for Hamilton with the Rangers saddens me a little bit, but you can also put me in the bunch that believes in him and that he will recover. The media and others will not let the world forget about the relapse or his history, and that’s fine since they have a right to voice their opinion, but if he says he’s committed to being better, I stand right beside him.
It started out ugly. Real ugly. Matt Holliday. David Freese. Some guy named Salas. Michael Young 1,000 times it seemed made me actually “laugh out loud.” Not PHing for Colby Lewis in the 5th with the bases loaded. This game was a mess. This was before the baseball gods decided, “You know what? This offseason might suck a little, just because.” (I don’t actually believe that as a baseball fan.)
Joe Buck said the game could be on the line in the 6th. I mocked him. I shouldn’t have: everything made this game what it was. 4-4, Texas then tacks 3 on the board. 7-4. If it weren’t for 2002 I’d have thought the game was over. So you know, Neftali Feliz is on the mound, doo-do-doo, couple runners get on, dee-de-dee, then David Freese goes all DAVID FREESE!!!!! OMGGGG HOLY CRAPP WHAT WAS THAT?!?!?! And that was basically how we felt in a nutshell. RBI Triple over Nelson Cruz’s inability to play in a stadium he hadn’t played in since… last week.
So we go to the Top of the 10th. 1 out, Elvis Andrus singles up the middle. Better watch that runn–JOSH HAMILTON I’M A MAN, I’M 40! And then it’s 9-7. Wow, Cardinals can’t get this one. They tried. Oh ok, 1st and 2nd with 0 outs? Oh man, what’s happening now. RBI groundout then LANCE BERKMAN MY BEARD IS SPOTTED AND YOU WILL LIKE IT! Allen Craig grounds out because well, he can’t do it every time.
Then the top of the 11th happens. I think it did, but I can’t remember because the bottom of 11th went all BOOM because DAVID FREESE IS AMAZING. Walk off HR to CF. I can’t believe it. You can’t believe it. My cats can’t believe it.
I can believe baseball is the greatest sport ever. I can believe this was the greatest non-Giants game I’ve ever watched. I have a hard time believing I will see a game better than this. This is a game you tell your kids and grandkids about.