The regular season begins
this Sunday tomorrow at 5:05PM PST when the Texas Rangers play the Houston Astros in that famous AL West rivalry, which means this week is all about previews, bold predictions, and message board put downs. I will say I am not good at predicting things, so let’s get that straight. Like everybody else though, I have an opinion on the matter of how events will play out. Let us preview the postseason, where the best team doesn’t always win due to the randomness of how the short series will go. It’s a first team to eleven wins once the DS begins, and normally the team that catches fire tends to do the celebrating. Also in my analysis, the team that scores more runs tend to win games. I’ll start with who I have going into the playoffs, then the predictions of the resulting postseason series. After that, I’ll go into regular season awards.
NL Playoff Seeding
1. Washington Nationals
2. Cincinnati Reds
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Atlanta Braves
5. San Francisco Giants
Wild-Card Play-in Game
Atlanta beats San Francisco
Atlanta beats Washington
Cincinnati beats Los Angeles
Cincinnati beats Atlanta
AL Playoff Seeding
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Toronto Blue Jays
3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
4. Tampa Bay Rays
5. Texas Rangers
Wild-Card Play-in Game
Tampa Bay beats Texas
Detroit beats Tampa Bay
Toronto beats LA of A
Detroit beats Toronto
World Series (game will be in AL Park when AL wins ASG)
Detroit beats Cincinnati
Don’t worry Tiger fans, I’m sure my predictions won’t be correct!
Regular Season Awards
I will go into who the MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year for both leagues will be. These will also probably be wrong.
AL MVP — Mike Trout
Asking me if I’m mad, bro? Nah, not mad, but let’s say Mike Trout does even 80% of what he did in 2012 in 2013, and his team gets to the playoffs, the voters are going to give him his “redemption,” and feel good that “see, we don’t hate advanced stats,” as we roll our collective eyes together. Sophomore slump? Maybe a little, but the only thing that will stop this fish is if he gets hurt playing the game.
NL MVP — Justin Upton
They say a change of scenery can do wonders for a player, and how about playing with an organization that wants you? I’d say that’s a good start. I think Upton will have a career year, players like Braun and Posey will regress a little, and Upton will find his team in the playoffs. Justin Upton may not have the best year of everybody, but I think he gets the award.
AL Cy Young — Justin Verlander
Kind of like Trout, he’s only going to get stopped by an injury. He should continue to rack up the pitcher wins, satisfying the old school, and his team will make the playoffs all with lots of money, and lots of strikeouts. Probably not many multi-homer against games though. Verlander is just excellent.
NL Cy Young — Clayton Kershaw
Dickey was a great story in 2012, but I still side with the overall metrics a bit on Kershaw, believing he got snubbed by just a little bit, nothing too controversial. Kershaw, like Verlander, will be getting plenty of pitcher wins behind a boosted offense, and he’s still really, really good. Oh, and his team will be going to the playoffs so that equals instant votes.
AL Rookie of the Year — Jackie Bradley Jr.
Shot up the prospect lists in 2012 into 2013, and is projected to start with the team. For the kid, the defense will be getting peoples attention, while the stick may not be able to do anything super special, it’ll be enough. Lots of names for both RoY awards, JBJ just happens to be my guess right now.
NL Rookie of the Year — Zack Wheeler
Wheeler will not come up until June and he’ll still get the award. Dominating the minors, and yes, I understand the pain he’s going to cause Giants fans, but the kid is good, and will be going after his opposition from the get-go with heat and curveballs and breaking balls and strikeouts.
Let’s hear what your predictions are! Pretty much anything goes before the season gets going.
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.
20. R.A. Dickey (233.2 IP, 8.86 K/9, 3.39 tERA, 4.6 fWAR, 5.6 rWAR) – Had I considered age in this ranking, maybe Dickey would have been higher, but I’ll let someone else do that ranking. I think it’s still cool that we could have some more years to experience his dominance over hitters though.
19. David Price (211.0 IP, 8.74 K/9, 3.23 tERA, 5.1 fWAR, 6.4 rWAR) – Really had trouble ranking 19-21 with the three pitchers, but in the end, I just liked Price’s numbers the best
18. Aaron Hill (26 HR, 14 SB, .375 wOBA, 6.2 fWAR, 4.6 rWAR) – What a change of scenery can do for you, Aaron Hill looks like he’s found his comfort zone in Phoenix after being traded from Toronto.
17. Cliff Lee (211.0 IP, 1.19 BB/9, 3.21 tERA, 4.9 fWAR, 4.2 rWAR) – Poor Clifton didn’t get a lot of love because of the W-L record he sported, but it’s not his fault his team didn’t score runs for him, even if he was on for most of the season.
16. Michael Bourn (26 2B, 42 SB, .326 wOBA, 6.4 fWAR, 6.0 rWAR) – The speedy center fielder does his job tearing up the basepaths and covering his part out in CF. Jim Bowman suggested the Giants could be a fit, I think not. ($)
15. Felix Hernandez (232.0 IP, 8.65 K/9, 3.21 tERA, 6.1 fWAR, 4.6 rWAR) – The King may be the only true royalty in Seattle now, but he should have an army of arms coming to help out soon.
14. Aramis Ramirez (27 HR, 50 2B, .384 wOBA, 6.5 fWAR, 5.4 rWAR) – May be the most underappreciated season of the guys listed in this top percentage, but the BBWAA recognized it, and he finished 9th in NL MVP voting.
13. Yadier Molina (22 HR, 12 SB, .375 wOBA, 6.5 fWAR, 6.7 rWAR) – I know what you’re thinking: A Molina that steals bases, not just prevents SB? Yea, he does that, too.
12. Adrian Beltre (36 HR, 33 2B, .388 wOBA, 6.5 fWAR, 6.7 rWAR) – I felt Heyward edged the 3B of Texas in the way he manned his position, and in the way he contributed on the bases, but still a great year for the guy that loves the headrubs.
11. Jason Heyward (27 HR, 21 SB, .351 wOBA, 6.6 fWAR, 5.5 rWAR) – Should Heyward be able to step up his game to another level in his age 23 season, he could get real scary.
10. Clayton Kershaw (227.2 IP, 9.05 K/9, 2.95 tERA, 5.5 fWAR, 6.2 rWAR) – I also struggled between JV vs. CK, but in the end, felt other peripherals not listed evened things out, giving the edge to Justin over Clayton with IP being the tiebreaker.
9. Justin Verlander (238.1 IP, 9.03 K/9, 3.43 tERA, 6.8 fWAR, 7.5 rWAR) – I really struggled where to start to include the pitchers, but here seemed like a good spot. Verlander is still good.
8. Chase Headley (31 HR, 17 SB, .378 wOBA, 7.5 fWAR, 6.0 rWAR) – If this were a “best second half of 2012” post, Headley might be #1.
7. David Wright (21 HR, 15 SB, .376 wOBA, 7.8 fWAR, 6.7 rWAR) – If this were a “best first half of 2012” post, Wright might be #1.
6. Miguel Cabrera (44 HR, 40 2B, .417 wOBA, 7.1 fWAR, 6.9 rWAR) – The dude’s just oozing power, and while the change of positions is a great story, the playing of the position itself must be considered in this ranking.
5. Andrew McCutchen (31 HR, 20 SB, .403 wOBA, 7.4 fWAR, 7.0 rWAR) – Worthy of being on the cover of a video game, I’m just glad Pittsburgh has had someone to cheer about.
3. Ryan Braun (41 HR, 30 SB, .413 wOBA, 7.9 fWAR, 6.8 rWAR) – Probably got a lot of flack for the PED-related stuff at the end of the season in 2011, but a 40-30 season will never stop being impressive.
2. Buster Posey (24 HR, .406 wOBA, 8.0 fWAR, 7.2 rWAR) – It’s no secret that the catcher position is an incredibly important one, and when your backstop is producing at the levels Posey is, well that warrants some respect. Bias possible.
1. Mike Trout (30 HR, 49 SB, .409 wOBA, 10.0 fWAR, 10.7 rWAR) – If 21 year olds are just getting started, in the Majors, it’s difficult to fathom where he goes from here.
The two number three seeds in the Postseason have championed their respective leagues in their own fashion: one used its pitching to outlast a story everybody wanted to see and then swept an imploded opponent, another used elimination games to win six of their seven games on their way to the World Series. Each team does this on the backs of multiple players, and the decisions of their managers can shift the balance of the game, and possibly of the series itself. The drama and excitement begins on Wednesday in San Francisco, and the audience will get to continue to have the opportunity to critique each word spitted by Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. All games are scheduled for 5:00PM PST. Games 2-4 starters for the Giants have not been announced yet, so those listed are my guesses.
Wednesday, Game 1: RHP Justin Verlander vs. LHP Barry Zito
One sentence summary: JV has owned this Postseason, and Good Zito just showed up against the Cardinals, so this has the potential to be the 20+ run game we all expect it to be.
Thursday, Game 2: RHP Doug Fister vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner
One sentence summary: Fister has provided 13 K’s in 13.1 IP, but allowed 10 baserunners in his last outing even though the Yankees were unable to cash in, and if Madison Bumgarner can show he’s cashed in on some extra time off in fixing his delivery, it could make for a very happy flight to Detroit.
Saturday, Game 3: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez
One sentence summary: In May, Anibal Sanchez was involved in a 14-7 loss to the Giants while he was with Miami, surrendering 7 hits and striking out 7, while Vogelsong has just come off a career performance of striking out nine.
Sunday, Game 4: RHP Matt Cain vs. RHP Max Scherzer
One sentence summary: 18 K’s in 11 IP for Scherzer is a tribute to his high strikeout ratio while only seeing five hits go by him in his two starts, while Matt Cain will get one day’s extra rest to put it together and hopefully get lucky against the Tigers like he did with the Cardinals by not getting the mistake pitches crushed.
Monday, Game 5*: LHP Barry Zito vs. RHP Justin Verlander
Wednesday, October 31st, Game 6*: RHP Doug Fister vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner
Thursday, November 1st, Game 7*: RHP Anibal Sanchez vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong
A Possible Difference in Performance
While the Postseason is full of small sample sizes, it’s still interesting to take a look at how players have fared thus far. Take a look at how the Tigers have done in the LCS, and in the Postseason overall:
Pretty good overall hitting, getting on base at a reasonably good tick, and slugged the stuffing out of the Yankees in four games. Now, the Giants:
Getting on base nearly as much as the Tigers have over a few more games, and who’d have thunk it that Pablo Sandoval is slugging the best out of all the starters remaining in the Fall Classic? Really amazing how the Tigers manhandled the Yankees and how the Giants just scraped by the Cardinals, who were rumored to be immortal.
Needless to say, Buster Posey and Hunter Pence need to wake the f up because if you’re relying on Belt, Blanco, and Crawford to drive in your runs, then expect that elimination games streak to be challenged once again. I can only wonder how many more runs this team would have if those two were even hitting at the rate Belt and Blanco have for the postseason.
Power, Production and Speed from the Motor City
Everyone has heard about Miguel Cabrera and his famed Triple Crown. The 44 HR within that and the .417 wOBA for the season are pretty scary, but the 28 double plays he grounded into are certainly exciting. Prince Fielder had another 30 HR season with exactly that round number, a .398 wOBA, and grounded into 19 double plays, which is the same number that Buster Posey grounded into. Delmon Young and Jhonny Peralta also grounded into 20 double plays a piece. However, these two do have double digit HR (Jhonny 13 and Delmon 18), as did Omar Infante with 12, and leadoff man Austin Jackson with 16, and AJ is 3rd on the team with a wOBA of .371. The burners on this club are Quintin Berry (21 SB), Omar Infante (17), and Austin Jackson (12), so these guys can add an extra element to the game if/when they get on base.
Who’s the Designated Hitter for the Giants?
There’s a part of me that is hoping that this Hector Sanchez-Barry Zito/Tim Lincecum experiment really takes a back seat in this series, but we’ve had enough messing around with a free-swinging switcher and watching Belt be benche. However, with the DH, Bochy can have his cake and eat it too. My heart says Bochy and company wise up and keep Hector from catching, but my head says if Lincecum is given a start, we will see Posey DH a game. I like the idea of Pablo DH-ing and Joaquin Arias starting at 3B, maybe even to break up the line of LHH the Giants have going on in that 6-7-8 spot. Hector Sanchez will be an option for a DH, as will Aubrey Huff, but I’m thinking Pablo sees the DH the most of the three possible games he can be there.
Prediction Time: Sticking With What Works
If you’re a reader who’s stopped by often, you know how this part works. I pick the Giants to win a series, and tell you how they do it. It’s not going to be any different here.
Game 1: Giants win (Crazy World Series is crazy)
Game 2: Tigers win (Starting pitching not slid as Tigers continue to hit)
Game 3: Giants win (Vogelsong lights up Detroit)
Game 4: Tigers win (Tigers take advantage of Giants mistakes)
Game 5: Giants win (Giants beat Verlander twice, Kate Upton asks me if I’m available)
Game 6: Giants win (Giants come back against Detroit’s bullpen to seal their 2nd title in 3 years)
I hope this or any variation of the Giants winning in 4-7 games happens. Boy I’d like to attend a parade.
Discussion and disagreement are part of sports life, and after reading a post from @BayCityBall (http://www.baycityball.com/2011/10/02/my-postseason-rooting-order/) I thought this would be a good post for today. The idea is of course, there are eight teams in the postseason and if we had to rank who you would root for, what would that order be? Everyone’s list will be different and who can blame them? There’s some attractive talent (both on the field and in the dugout) for us to be amazed and stupefied at.
1. Tampa Bay Rays – expansion team, lost to the Phillies in 2008, came from a huge deficit to defeat one of the more despised franchises in baseball. They have lovable characters like Evan Longoria, One-A-Day 50+ sponsor Joe Maddon, Madison Bumgarner pitch-a-like Matt Moore (alike in that the Rangers couldn’t touch either of them). Shoot, their version of Eli Whiteside even hit two HRs against CJ Wilson. Awesome
2. Texas Rangers – When the Giants and the Rangers met up last year in 2010, you had a ratings nightmare: no Yankees? no Red Sox? no Phillies? We’ll just have Joe Buck and Tim McCarver do this one. Nobody’s watching, anyway. You also had two franchises starved for a World Series trophy. The Giants got their portion in 2010, but the Rangers were left hanging and from what I heard, the Rangers were very classy in defeat. Their exciting players are mostly hold bats and hit HRs for a living, their staff has the experience of winning so the jitters should be mostly out of the way.
3. Detroit Tigers – The playoff team I probably know the least about. I guess they’re like the Tampa Bay Rays or a Texas Rangers-lite on offense and some other team with their pitching. Justin Verlander? Hot. Jose Valverde? He should make a dance instruction DVD. As for everyone else? Whatever, just beat the Yankees.
4. St. Louis Cardinals – Just beat the Phillies, Tony La Russa. Use your craftiness when you get back home to even the series at 2 or something. Sprinklers, stadium lights, rain dance, Buffalo Wild Wings commercials, whatever. I laugh a little that Rafael Furcal is on this team.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks – They’re not far down on the list because I despise their team; really, I’m OK with them. Justin Upton, Chris Young, Aaron Hill, Kirk Gibson. I think he’s done a great job with the team and GM Kevin Towers a wonderful job rebuilding the bullpen. I don’t want them winning the World Series because I don’t know why, but I don’t. I may have this fear that winning the WS would convince idiots to vote Ian Kennedy for Cy Young even though it’s just a regular season award. Edit: Forgot that ballots are submitted before the post-season. Therefore, Kennedy performance in post-season will not change likelihood of getting Cy. Their twitter account is annoying as babies on a plane, by the way.
6. Milwaukee Brewers – I am very not fond of a certain player on their team that claims to have an alter-ego that rhymes with “Phony-Flush.” I do not want to see him happy. Does that make me a bad person? Probably, but no one’s perfect. I’m not too fond of Prince Fielder, either, but TofuMan doesn’t both me as much as the current CF. I like Ryan Braun. I like John Axford.
In between 6 and 7, please note that there’s a gap larger than the 6 hour drive from Long Beach to San Jose I have to endure at least twice a year.
7. Philadelphia Phillies – I have a strong dislike for the Phillies. They have become the Yankees of the NL. I will laugh at them in 2015 when they are still paying Ryan Howard $25MM to strike out with a sandwich in his mouth.
8. New York Yankees – Look, they have exciting players. They’re the freaking Yankees. But the only time you want a team like that to win is when: a) it’s your team or b) you’re playing a video game and you’ve constructed a super team that isn’t possible in real life and you don’t have to worry about hurting other people’s feelings.
In 2012, the list will be different. Buster ain’t havin’ it.
I will predict things, and I will be wrong. It’s just fun to guess.
(2) Rangers vs. (4) Rays, 2:07 PM PST, Ballpark at Arlington
The world was expecting Red Sox Nation to show up, but the great Baseball Deities decided to give us one of the best nights of baseball ever that resulted in a little something Long Beach State likes to call “Evan Longoria.” True, there was Dan Johnson who kept them from Game 163, and Joe Maddon is a genius.
Game 1: Christopher John (CJ) Wilson (16-7, 2.94 ERA, 1.187 WHIP, 223.1 IP) vs. Matt Moore (1-0, 2.89 ERA, 14.49 K/9, 9.1 IP, 1 GS)
While the world is pondering why Kyle Lohse is a Game One starter, Joe Maddon tried to one-up Tony La Russa and say, “How about I throw out our Minor League Stud-Muffin out there?” It’s true, GM’s and scouts alike have dreams of Matt Moore and the future looks bright for the kid born in 1989 (really). As with any other postseason series, it’s going to come down to pitching, and both staffs are well equipped to go toe-to-toe (and that Texas bullpen? What the heck is that all about?)
What we have come to love about both of these teams though, are their bats. Who doesn’t love themselves some Longo, Zoborist, Upton (the tradeable one), Hamilton, Cruz, Beltre and hitting catching in Napoli? Oh and Kinsler had a 32 HR season, big whoop. I do that in video games all the time.
I respect Ron Washington and Joe Maddon a lot, but Joe Maddon has some crazy smart tactics he gets from those One-A-Day 50+ multivitamins which may hold the key to jumping over the 2010 AL Champions who do not have Cliff Lee to beat them twice again this year. But then again, Texas does have Tommy Hunter anymore to underhand pitches to batters so the Rays will have to counter that with something.
The Rangers have a scary good offense. Can the Rays young pitching hold them down? I say no. Texas takes care of business in game one, 5-1.
(1) Yankees vs. (3) Tigers, 5:37 PM PST, Yankee Stadium
Game 1: CC Sabathia (19-8, 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 237.1 IP) vs. Justin Verlander (24-5, 2.40 ERA, 0.920 WHIP, 251.0 IP)
Sure there are hitters involved, but as a Giants fan I know they don’t do anything. The game is in the starting pitching, and boy you bet America is excited for this.
The uneducated baseball fan will look at this matchup and say to themselves “holy crap, 43 combined wins between two aces! i love baseball for now until sunday!” They will feel like it gives them a clue as to the magic that could be awaiting them, what with Verlander’s two no-hitters he has under his belt, one coming this year in Toronto. There will be magic, but not because they have 43 wins between each other.
The scouting reports these guys get are processed and and executed to an “ace” level — these two having 480 K’s between them, the two of them averaging 4 K’s/BB. Sure, the ratio isn’t Sergio Romo-esque, but there’s only one person who pitches like Sergio Romo and that’s Sergio MF Romo. There might not be a repeat of Roy Halladay stature, but anytime these guys get on the mound you know you could be bearing witness to something special.
Weather reports are telling us we don’t even know what time this game will officially get started, but hopefully it’s just a bunch of clouds passing through. Wouldn’t want to watch the “Double-R” series and then have to wait hours to see Game One of this ALDS. That would be cruel.
When you watch these two, hopefully you think about two things: teaching your kid to either throw left-handed, or teaching your kid how to throw triple-digits with great control.
So who will it be for Game One? Both of these teams haven’t been in “playoff mode” for a while, but it doesn’t mean they haven’t worked. I like Verlander and Co. to take Game 1 and Valverde to do a little dance at the end. Tigers get first blood, 6-4.