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?
The regular season begins this Sunday 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. As I preview these divisions, I’ll tell you a little of what sport betting sites see, what computer simulations see, and what I see. The teams will be previewed in the reverse order I expect them to finish. Let us preview the AL Central, what I call “The Land of Wonder,” because there are so so so so so many question marks within this division.
5. Minnesota Twins
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 15/1, 50/1, 100/1
Stuart sees: Their pitching staff is Vance Worley, Kevin Correia, Liam Hendricks, and a fella named Cole De Vries. Just because the staff contains names that may be underwhelming and unknown doesn’t mean they cannot perform at a high level, but as for the underwhelming part, it does suggest the likelihood of them over-performing is not as high as fans in Minnesota may hope for. There will still be homers from Willingham, and Mauer will hit, and we hope for a monster season from Justin Morneau so he can start doing those MLB 2K commercials with Justin Verlander again.
I will confess to not knowing whom besides Glen Perkins occupies their bullpen, but with those starters being who they are, I don’t expect the bullpen to have more chances to hold on to a lead than to try and keep their team staying in the game. Hopefully for the Twins, the praise put upon them by scouts in their farm system will translate into major league talent to bring them out of the doldrums of the AL Central.
4. Cleveland Indians
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 8/1, 30/1, 66/1
Stuart sees: A frowny face for the starting rotation for a team that did its best in the offseason to tell its fanbase they are trying its best to compete. Bringing in names like Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn (not Bourne) were unexpected moves by Cleveland to say the least, but some were hoping they’d just go get Kyle Lohse to complete their whirlwind of an offseason. Chris Perez and Vinnie Pestano — hopeful and actual WBC participants — might be familiar names to you, and come July if the Indians are still in it, look for them to be getting a lot more work because the Indians should go out and get a starter to help back up the offense they’ve acquired. Hard to see the offense not producing runs, so it’s not like fans in Cleveland won’t have things to cheer about. This is a legitimate dark horse team, especially if Ubaldo Jimenez figures it out and Scott Kazmir isn’t horrible and injured.
3. Chicago White Sox
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 6/1, 20/1, 40/1
Stuart sees: A team he feels is going to have injury problems. Sale is famous for being Keith Law’s “time-bomb” guy in terms of getting injured, but like any other team, if this team stays healthy, 2nd place and a fight for a wild card spot is in the picture, for sure. The White Sox, despite the nothing that occupies the farm, always seem to come up with something that propels them into contention, and I do wonder when that luck runs out. Each part of the roster that gets regular playing time looks decent to me, especially that 1-2 punch in Sale and Peavy. Imagine if Alex Rios–Paul Konerko–Adam Dunn go off in 2013 and you have an exciting heart of the order for the ChiSox. If the Tigers can’t stay healthy and these guys (or the Royals) do, it would make for a fascinating AL Central race.
2. Kansas City Royals
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 6/1, 28/1, 50/1
Stuart sees: An improved team from 2012, although the loss of Wil Myers to the Rays will probably hurt once he gets on the 40-man roster of Tampa’s, comes up in June (for Super Two arbitration reasons) and is performing far better than anything Jeff Francoeur is putting out there. I understand it’s a sore subject in Kansas City, but getting guaranteed talent and still having a good farm system in your back pocket isn’t the worst place to be (for the record, I wouldn’t have done that trade, too much loving of Myers). Decent rotation, decent bullpen, good lineup, especially with Salvador Perez back for a full year of hopefully 100% health, that top six of the lineup may have to do most of the work, and I think they can in this division. The pitching in this division outside of the top of Chicago and what’s in Detroit is not really what you’d call “awe-inspiring.” Another one of those teams to watch out for in July, especially if their GM really is on the hot seat this year.
1. Detroit Tigers
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 2/5, 17/4, 8/1
Stuart sees: a monster team that got Victor Martinez back at DH, have rid themselves of Jose Valverde and his dancing ways, and added Torii Hunter to the mix. The Tigers really didn’t need much to put them over the top to make them one of the World Series favorites or anything, but adding talent shouldn’t hurt you, even if the talent is uncomfortable around certain types of lifestyles! Miggy, amidst his AL MVP run with Mike Trout, really made us remember what a monster of a player he is, and the lineup should continue to be something opposing pitchers don’t look forward to. The staff of the Tigers is a good one, the relief corps also not bad. This team should win the AL Central no questions asked, but once the playoffs hit, remember it’s anyone’s game.
Just gonna leave this here to close out the article:
Feel very free to put your predictions for the AL Central in a classy manner in the comments section!
For people that didn’t have much to do last night, General Managers Andrew Friedman and Dayton Moore gave the baseball folk something to talk/fight/cry about, reactions of course depending on what fanbase your heart was closest to. Should you be unfamiliar with the deals, it worked out to this:
The Kansas City Royals get:
The Tampa Bay Rays get:
If you want trade analysis from journalists and scouts, may I suggest
three four: Dan Knobler’s, Keith Law’s, JJ Cooper from Baseball America’s, and Baseball Prospectus’, all good looks. As you’ll read, you’ll find the internet consensus is that the Rays won the trade with the snatching of Myers and Odorizzi. I tend to lean that way as well, but it’s not like the Royals 1) have no farm system left and 2) did not address a glaring need of their team to get better. As a Giants fan, if you were to build a team, based on two of the last three years, you’re probably leaning towards pitching first (or an MVP catcher, I guess), so getting what most people are calling a No. 2 starting pitcher in Shields to hopefully what is a beginning to bolster their rotation, is a big get for the Royals. Wade Davis will get another shot in the rotation, but they don’t have to leave Spring Training with him in it. Then again, their options outside of Davis aren’t much to write home about.
This can’t be the only move that Dayton Moore and his people do to get better, and it seems pretty clear that with their contracts soon to end, that they are very much on the hot seat in KC. The GM and his people will probably have to give up more from their farm to get some significant pieces, and make more significant progress to make up ground between them and whoever feels like leading the AL Central (Tigers? White Sox?
The Rays should be fine, but replacing a James Shields isn’t the easiest thing to do. Matt Moore can make the transition easy if he takes another step forward, as could Chris Archer to help support Jeremy Hellickson‘s cause at the top of the rotation after David Price. Like a lot of other people, I’m waiting to see if Wil Myers gets one of those team-friendly six-year deals that will save the Rays some money (maybe an Extra 2% or something) so that they can continue to operate in a market that I really think isn’t fit for baseball.
The Giants have not been winning lately, as evidenced by their losing 7 of the last 8 against completely beatable teams like the Padres, Dodgers, and Mets. They now get to face the laughing stock of the west known as the Colorado Rockies, who have not won a series since they took 2 of 3 from the Nationals before the All Star Break. It’s been a tough month for them, but Rockies fans will have no sympathy for the struggles of the Giants, because have you heard: the Rockies are a mess, all the way up to their front office. A sweepable series on paper for the G’s, but most fans are so in the doldrums of depression over the Giants that they are wondering how the boys from SF will screw this one up, or who won’t come through in the clutch.
Friday, August 3rd: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. LHP Jonathan Sanchez
One sentence summary: As you’ll notice, these are just Dirty’s numbers with the Rockies, not that his Royals numbers were very stellar to begin with, which led to the swap between those teams for him and Jeremy Guthrie.
Saturday, August 4th: LHP Madison Bumgarner vs. LHP Jeff Francis
One sentence summary: This could be the day Jeff Francis trolls us all by throwing a CG SHO just because Madison Bumgarner is pitching.
Sunday, August 5th: RHP Tim Lincecum vs. LHP Christian Friedrich
One sentence summary: Two pitchers that have the ability to strike out guys but also have the tendency to walk people is almost like watching two Jonathan Sanchez’s facing each other.
Gotta make this quick: Josh Rutledge, Tyler Colvin, Ramon Hernandez, and Jordan Pacheco have been relatively hot lately. Troy Tulowitzki is still injured with his strained groin so you don’t gotta worry about him. Carlos Gonzalez is still good. The Rockies have 2 guys with double digit SB, but 5 with double digit HR.
Buster Posey is being awesome right now, and Marco Scutaro plus Brandon Belt have been trying to contribute, but Theriot, Pagan, and Blanco have been balancing them out. The key for the series: coming through with RISP, because they can get them there, but you can’t rely on your pitching staff to hold every team to less than 2 runs every game.
Probably going to be a break from doing these as I’m getting married tomorrow and have married couple things to do the following week. Enjoy and go Giants!
Look into those eyes. What are they saying to you? Do they say, “I’ve played with 4 different teams in the last 4 seasons?” Are they trying to tell you he’s on pace for 225 hits? Do they also question you when you endlessly cite BABIP to predict his inevitable fall? Maybe.
Sometimes we don’t appreciate what The Melky does. Other times, we dress up as deliverymen from a different decade and go on instagram to see pictures of his newborn baby. I don’t do either, because 1) I don’t have a costume like that and 2) I don’t have an Instagram account or even know how to take an Instagram (is that what the Instagrammers say?). This article is to show you in numbers that I appreciate what he does. I should make this perfectly clear to my readers though that you should never just rely on numbers for every argument you make about a player’s performance. I feel like a lot of guys that argue with the beat writers live and die by the number… don’t do that.
Anyway, you may be wondering how Melky Melkethed last year in KC while the trade idea for him for Dirty was not even a glimmer in Brian Sabean’s eye.
My conclusions: Skinny Melky is putting up some fat numbers. If you rolled your eyes at that joke, you’re welcome. Take it and use it.
Interesting numbers and differences to look at though, like May of 2011 vs. May of 2012 as Melky went from mediocre in 5/2011 to out of his mind in May ’12, and is probably one of the biggest reasons why his 2012 numbers may be so much more ballooned relative to ’11 and thus may lead to so many more green rectangles for the Melk Man come contract time. I mean, unless August and September/October see Melky tank like Emmanuel Burriss, then Melky’s looking like all his numbers across the board should be what I’ll estimate to be around 20 points better if his numbers stay somewhat close to what he did in 2011. It’s looking like an over-.300 BABIP is not difficult for him to replicate now since he only couldn’t do it within the last 2 seasons in May of 2011. (Disclaimer: This is not saying Melky can do it for the easy majority of the next five-six years, I’m not willing to blindly guess that far into the future.)
So look into those eyes again:
Do they tell you he’s 11th in OBP in the bigs? 17th in wOBA? 5th in BABIP? Whether you think I made those numbers up or not, what those eyes should tell you is Melky’s here to produce, and here to hit, and should continue to do so over the final 64 games of the season for the Giants of San Francisco.
I hope those images don’t give you nightmares.
Before the news of the trade came in, I was actually thinking about where I was when the news of the Carlos Beltran trade happened. Oh, those were different times. And then the Royals twitter page or some affiliate drops the bombshell that you’re all aware of. Like the Freddy Sanchez trade of 2009, I was facepalm-ing, freaking out, and texting my friends to get their pitchforks ready. I’ve calmed down though. I’ve had a chance to look at some of his stats:
2010: 509 PA, 4 HR, 7 SB, 8.3 BB%, 12.6 K%, .317 OBP, 79 wRC+, -1.0 WAR
2011: 706 PA, 18 HR, 20 SB, 5.0 BB%, 13.3 K%, .339 OBP, 118 wRC+, 4.2 WAR
Let’s just make this clear now: sucks at defense. I don’t want to give anyone the impression I think he’s going to be as defensively sound as Torres or faceplant Rowand. Just imagine if Beltran is out there with him! AND if Burrell was out there too! It’d be so water buffalo, you’d start to hear jokes about the Flintstones.
Defense aside, let’s look at what else this trade changes:
Gary Brown: With Melky’s team control ending after the 2012 season, as long as GBizzle from CSU Fullerton is ready to go, he’ll be the starting CF in 2013 and Andres Torres will be there as his mentor. No Melky blocking him! Unless Melky goes nuts again then Melky will get moved to a corner spot. That’s for another year though.
The Lineup: As of right now if Bochy had to roll something out it’d be: CF Cabrera, 2B Sanchez, 3B Panda, C Posey, LF Belt, 1B Huff, RF Nate, SS Crawford, 9 spot.
The Rotation: Timmy, Matty, MadBum, Vogey, Barry McHighSocks. Give Surkamp a season in AAA.
The Team Salary: Reports are that we’ll have saved $1MM dollars when all is said and done for 2012. Yes, I see you putting your pinky to your mouth a la Dr. Evil. But we also have saved probably around $13MM on the CF position just from not signing Coco Crisp. Whom could that “saved money” be used for? Hmmm….
The Royals: I’ve heard they can use a kid named “Lorenzo Cain” who is obviously related to our own Matt Cain in CF now. Jonathan Sanchez would be their #3 guy, I’ve heard. Other than that, whatever.
CF Sweepstakes: If your name is Grady Sizemore, Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes, I’m sorry but we will not be overpaying for you this winter. Check back next year though and maybe we’ll have a spot for you.
Cody Ross/Andres Torres: Sounds like they’re going to non-tender Andres and try to sign him on the cheap. That would mean Cody Ross is just about done as a San Francisco Giant. It’s OK, Cody: I still do your little home run skip just about everywhere I go, especially when I go down the stairs.
Apparently Melky has found the key to success has been staying in shape. That’s good. Bochy says Melky’s good because he “crosses the plate and we need that.” Oh, Bruce. It must be the jetlag. I bet even Sabean was all “WTF, BB!” In the end, this was a trade that had to happen with one of the pitchers and it happened to be Sanchez. We’ll hope we get the copy of the 2011 Melky and then we’ll go from there. There are splits I could dive into last year but reading is hard. We’ve got all winter to dive into splits.
2011 is over for the San Francisco Giants. If you were like me, you celebrated midnight and changed the calendar to 2012 because the off-season has officially begun for the 2010 Champs. It’s no secret that what got the Gigantes to the ticker-tape parade was a wall of pitching dominance and timely hitting by gentlemen who would not shine the same way in 2011. The first order of business going into this off-season as Sabes said, is the pitching. With that said, let’s take a look at who’s on the list for 2012, arbitration eligible for a pay raise and who may be donning a different uni by the time Spring Training breaks:
Set Salaries in 2012
- Barry Zito ($19MM in 2012)
- Matt Cain ($15.333)
- Brian Wilson ($8.5)
- Madison Bumgarner ($450K in 2011, controlled through 2016)
- Tim Lincecum ($14MM in 2011, 2 years of arbitration left)
- Jonathan Sanchez ($4.8 in 2011, 2 years left)
- Ramon Ramirez ($1.65 in 2011, 2 years)
- Santiago Casilla ($1.3 in 2011, 2 years)
- Sergio Romo ($450K in 2011, 3 years)
- Ryan Vogelsong (Under Team Control)
- Jeremy Affeldt ($5MM option that could be declined)
- Javier Lopez ($2,375MM in 2011, Free Agent)
- Guillermo Mota ($925K in 2011, Free Agent)