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.
80. Adrian Gonzalez (18 HR, 47 2B, .346 wOBA, 3.6 fWAR, 0.7 rWAR) – The centerpiece of the deal that sent him from Boston to LA, Gonzalez was below average (for him) last year, so the Dodgers are certainly hoping for the 2006-2011 versions of the 1B.
79. Carlos Beltran (32 HR, 13 SB, .355 wOBA, 3.6 fWAR, 3.6 rWAR) – Plays pretty well for a guy with a bad everything. Should he do something like this again next year, he will be well worth the money the Cardinals paid him.
78. Doug Fister (161.2 IP, 7.63 K/9, 4.13 tERA, 3.6 fWAR, 3.2 rWAR) – Suffered a very unfortunate typo in his name, but hopefully he was not aware of that, and the former Seattle Mariner is showing he has plenty of value in Detroit’s rotation. Also glad he was not seriously hurt on that line drive off his head in the World Series.
77. Paul Goldschmidt (20 HR, 18 SB, .363 wOBA, 3.7 fWAR, 3.1 rWAR) – Arizona’s resident Tim Lincecum-masher also nearly had a 20-20 season, and he has established himself to be a force to be reckoned with.
76. Jarrod Parker (181.1 IP, 6.95 K/9, 4.32 tERA, 3.7 fWAR, 3.8 rWAR) – Can’t wait to see that changeup in action again, but Parker needs to tune down the walks to further reach that projected ceiling of his.
75. Adam LaRoche (33 HR, 35 2B, .361 wOBA, 3.8 fWAR, 4.0 rWAR) – Must be nice to have a team with hitters that can just boom every which way. I still have nightmares about the series San Francisco had in Washington this past season.
74. Kyle Lohse (211.0 IP, 6.10 K/9, 4.20 tERA, 3.6 fWAR, 3.9 rWAR) – Still looking for a team at the moment I’m writing this, but it sure helps when your defense is behind you and you don’t walk guys, doesn’t it?
73. Nick Swisher (24 HR, 36 2B, .363 wOBA, 3.9 fWAR, 3.5 rWAR) – Really hope he helps Cleveland out, because I’m tired of seeing them be bad, same way I feel for the Royals.
72. Denard Span (38 2B, 17 SB, .325 wOBA, 3.9 fWAR, 4.8 rWAR) – May not have pop, but Washington traded for a good CF, which along with an Adam LaRoche signing, has set in motion some Michael Morse trade discussion amongst the people
71. Albert Pujols (30 HR, 50 2B, .360 wOBA, 3.9 fWAR, 4.6 rWAR) – Pretty remarkable numbers considering The Machine did very little in April, and only one big fly in the last month of the season.
70. Josh Willingham (35 HR, 30 2B, .380 wOBA, 3.9 fWAR, 2.9 rWAR) – His 3-year/$21MM deal sure seems like a steal now, doesn’t it? Especially if you put 1.0 WAR = ~$5MM.
69. Josh Johnson (191.1 IP, 7.76 K/9, 4.19 tERA, 3.8 fWAR, 3.1 rWAR) – Another new Blue Jay, and as long as he can stay healthy, he should be a pretty reliable starter, although maybe not the ace of the staff, especially if Dickey goes all 2010-2012 on everybody.
68. David Murphy (15 HR, 10 SB, .369 wOBA, 4.0 fWAR, 3.2 rWAR) – Definitely an under-the-radar type season from Murphy, so there is good reason as to why he is projected to start in the OF for Texas in 2013.
67. Anibal Sanchez (195.2 IP, 7.68 K/9, 4.07 tERA, 3.8 fWAR, 1.2 rWAR) – I’d say Anibal’s audition for Free Agency went pretty well, and should make for plenty of pitcher wins in the coming years.
66. Brandon Phillips (18 HR, 15 SB, .325 wOBA, 4.0 fWAR, 3.5 rWAR) – I did not consider his flashy plays or his twitter account in his evaluation. Had I, he would’ve been ranked higher.
65. Alfonso Soriano (32 HR, 33 2B, .350 wOBA, 4.0 fWAR, 1.8 rWAR) – Soriano may not have wanted a trade to the Giants due to the climate, so I do wonder whom he’s waiting for in terms of a trade partner.
64. A.J. Ellis (20 HR, .373 OBP, .341 wOBA, 4.1 fWAR, 3.2 rWAR) – What will always bother me about this guy is not even on him, but on his manager for not putting him in a better spot to have that OBP being taken advantage of. At least the pitchers had someone to bunt over.
63. Matt Wieters (23 HR, 27 2B, .331 wOBA, 4.1 fWAR, 3.2 rWAR) – Looks like he’s ready to bust into the next tier of catchers with that power that he’s showing off from his position.
62. David Freese (20 HR, 25 2B, .365 wOBA, 4.1 fWAR, 3.6 rWAR) – I’m probably the only one with this problem, but when I think “David Freese” I only think of him in the Postseason, not what he can do to you in the regular season. My fan-side showing, I guess.
61. Hiroki Kuroda (219.2 IP, 6.84 K/9, 4.15 tERA, 3.9 fWAR, 5.2 rWAR) – You will see no tears out of the NL West that Kuroda is once again locked into playing in the AL East in 2013.
The Giants are back in front of the faithful tonight, but have gone 1-3 there this postseason after posting a very acceptable 48-33 record at home this year. The Cardinals are 3-2 on the road in the playoffs after a below-.500 38-43 on the road during the regular season, so it’s not like they’re some juggernaut away from home, but they still are one win away from sending the Giants packing. I’m sure the Giants would rather order cleanup services for their home locker room than the visitor’s, so the Giants arms are the beginning towards making the preferred course of action happen.
Today, 4;37PM PST, FOX: RHP Chris Carpenter vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong
Vogelsong had his two-seamer working well, along with other pitches to go for 7 and allow only two walks, and see one run get earned. Carpenter, like Lance Lynn, couldn’t get to the fifth inning. Matt Holliday proved to be very helpful by letting a Marco Scutaro line drive to him go straight through the wickets and would be the nail in the coffin to tying the series up at one. The Giants will need those big hits again to tie the series up at three.
Tomorrow, 5:07PM PST, FOX, if the Giants win today: RHP Kyle Lohse vs. RHP Matt Cain
Game 3: the game where Matt Cain got Cain’d. If the Giants face a Game 7 at home, they will have the momentum on their side, but that doesn’t mean Matt Cain magically pitches better or the Cardinals hitters forget how to hit. Kyle Lohse walked five but the Giants couldn’t get anyone home like they could in Games 1 and 2. You also have to imagine Game 7 will be a game of shorter leashes and more chips being pushed in, and if the Giants are caught playing catch-up against the Cardinals bullpen, it could be a 2006 reunion with St. Louis and Detroit on the horizon. If the Giants can hand the lead to the bullpen, I expect it will be a very happy beginning of the week for San Francisco.
Here’s to another great three-game winning streak happening.
The series is tied at 1, and starting tomorrow the series will resume in St. Louis. MLB Network let the fans in on the press conference with Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and Game 3 SP RHP Kyle Lohse.
Lohse on the podium first. On starting Game 3:
“Pretty excited [about Game 3 start]… keep going, doing the things I do, keep things simple.”
“We’ve had our ups and downs as a rotation… things haven’t worked out; can’t put more pressure on yourself because you need to, I’m going to approach it the same way… controlling my part of the game.”
“We’re not looking past anything but the next game.”
“I suppose it’s going to rain again tomorrow, I’m used to that.” (73% chance of rain all afternoon)
“It’s fun [facing Matt Cain], pretty much everyone you’re going to go against in the playoffs is going to be good, it’s going to be a fun challenge to match Cain. He’s had a lot of success in this game and he’s a very good pitcher. I’m going to go out there and do everything I can to match him, and I’m sure he’s going to do the same.”
On replacing guys like Pujols, La Russa, etc.:
“The important part is we put in pieces like Beltran, you’re not going to replace Tony [La Russa], but Mike’s done a great job… There was a lot of turnover, but a lot stayed the same… we have good chemistry, veteran leadership, I think those things are very important in getting us back to where we are right now.”
On Dave Duncan’s effect on him:
“He got me to realize the importance of control rather than velocity… you mature and move on with guidance, and figure out what kind of pitcher I can be. It’s no secret I rely on first pitch strikes, I rely on contact, not pitching for strikeouts, trying to get guys out in three or four pitches.”
On going from Minnesota to St. Louis and how he’s changed/matured:
“I’m a completely different pitcher. I used to (try and) blow it by guys in the AL at 94, and you can’t really do that. I have a sense of what I’m going to do right now. Trying to get hitters to hit my pitch, and through the years of being here in St. Louis, working with Duncan it’s like a light went on… A lot of the guys I get to pop up are out in front of my change ups.”
On the Giants lineup:
“It’s a tough lineup, they got guys up and down the lineup that can hurt you at certain spots. I’m going to try and keep the guys off the bases before Posey. They have some lefties in there… and kind of remind me of Atlanta’s lineup… I haven’t faced [the Giants] this year, and normally that favors the pitcher, we’ll see.”
Mike Matheny at the mic now.
On Lance Berkman’s availability and having to replace him:
“That’s unfortunately how things go, that you have guys that can’t get out there and fortunately for us we had Allen Craig in time to step up for him, as well as Matt Carpenter. Lance kept fightin’ and fightin’ trying to get back, but just too much on the knees. We’ll put our options together and figure out what gives us the best chance, all things considered.”
On being at home:
“We love being at home. It was a good week on the road, the guys played well, and we enjoy playing in front of the fans.”
On Kyle Lohse this year:
“Kyle’s consistency has been the most impressive thing, you’ll see teams watching him, but it’s his execution that makes him the pitcher he’s been for us from Opening Day to the Postseason; tells you about his skill and his physical and mental capacity.”
On bullpen use:
“We’re not as concerned about the starters outings [in terms of length] with the days off, our team like most team’s foundation is the starting pitching, and if they’re not successful you’re fighting an uphill battle most of the time. We’re looking forward to some quality starts because we know that’s what they can do, and that’s the kind of staff we have. You’re going up against good offenses and you got to figure a way to adjust.”
“I’d like my starters to go 9, but we’re going to use everyone we have to, but Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal have deserved their spots, and to give guys like Mujica two days off is big. You saw in Game 1 they did a phenomenal job… Kelly could start, and that’s why he’s being used as a swing guy at the moment.”
On 2002 incidents and yesterday’s slide:
“That was a long time ago, we play this game with passion and intensity, this is something we take really serious, and respect the game. Some times things go certain ways [like in 2002], as far as yesterday’s game goes, it was a player trying to make a hard play for his team, and you hate to see what happened [to Scutaro].”
“[Holliday] was concerned about Scutaro’s health, he reached out, I heard his comments first hand, that he wouldn’t have slid so late, I have never seen him making an act of trying to hurt somebody. He was trying to play the game hard, and trying to break up a double play.”
“The more the slide is talked about like this, the more it lingers. Every team handles adversity differently, and I understand no player likes to see another one of their players hurt, and our team would be on the exact same boat [if the roles were reversed]. We hope the rest of the results are good. We play hard, and we know they play hard, that’s the way the game goes.”
On the lineup:
“To me, we’ve got a team playing pretty well. We’ve had some recent games here that would suggest you’d be crazy to do anything different. I don’t see any changes in the near future.”
On Jon Jay:
“Jon Jay to me has played a Gold Glove caliber center field. He takes charge and [Holliday and Beltran] respect him. As much I’ve talked about Yadi Molina and what he brings to this club and it’s difficult to place value to, I’d say Jon Jay does the same thing.”
On the weather:
“We’ve seen the forecast, and we understand how it can go, we’re going to anticipate playing on time. We’re just going to be here, we’ve been in that holding pattern before. We’ll have the mindset we’re playing on time and then make adjustments accordingly.”
That’s the extent to which MLB Network let the general public listen in on the press conference. Game 3 will be 1:07PM PST on FOX.
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 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.