Some people will have rankings once the field narrows down to ten. I am hardly ever in the mood to blog during the weekdays for various reasons, and so since I feel like writing right now, now is as good of a time as any to give you my list of how I’ll root for the Winning Eleven. My list might differ from yours, and it may not even make sense to you, but that’s OK.
“It’d be good for them” Division
1. Pittsburgh Pirates — No playoffs and no winning season since 1992? How do you not root for that if you’re not a fan from a team within the NL Central?
2. Oakland Athletics — I have developed a soft spot for the team across the Bay, even though I don’t live there to listen to A’s fans. A’s fans coming back around to troll Giants fans would be the worst part of the Athletics winning. Possibility of speeding up ruling on a new stadium a naive thought in my head.
3. Tampa Bay Rays — A combination of youth, a former Long Beach State Dirtbag in Evan Longoria, and a manager I enjoy listening to make this a team I support at nearly all times.
4. Cleveland Indians — They normally lose a lot, and maybe the public can say to MLB, “Hey, that logo is kinda racist.” That they’ve turned things around to go from dark horse candidate to first Wild Card spot is a great story to me.
“I ain’t even mad” Division
5. Detroit Tigers — I’ve interacted with some twitter folk that are Tigers fans and they’re good people. I would be happy for them. Justin Verlander seems like a nice guy and Jim Leyland is a lovable grandpa.
6. Texas Rangers — This is a pity spot. I’ll leave it at that.
7. Boston Red Sox — I’ve put them here because I’ve forgotten what Red Sox fans are like when the Red Sox win. My memory is pretty poor.
8. Cincinnati Reds — The idea of Mat Latos winning after his history with the Padres and his outside-of-game antics against the Giants just leave a bad taste in my mouth. Billy Hamilton running wild on the world will be fun to watch.
9. St. Louis Cardinals — An incredibly talented team, I am tired of them winning and tired of their fans claiming to be the “Best Fans in Baseball.” Nobody likes people like that, especially when that’s pretty difficult to accurately measure.
10. Atlanta Braves — The Chop, the newfound policy of policing the game with their made-up rules on admiring home runs make plenty of players on this team and their fans that support all that easy to despise.
“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy that’s also an obnoxious, disrespectful Giants fan” Division
11. Los Angeles Dodgers — There are some players on the LA team I like, but it’s still the Dodgers. That they have oodles of money is one thing, I mean you have to spend your money wisely, can’t just spend it on anybody. Still. Boo Dodgers.
That #10 and #11 on my list square off early guarantee one gets knocked out, but one could still do some big things. Hopefully that’s not something I have to worry about, and the bottom four teams find themselves knocked out of the Postseason before the trophy is hoisted.
Alex Cobb will not blow you away with his fastball, but the Padres will let you know that he does have strikeout stuff. The fourth place NL West Padres did get three runs off of Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb, but in the 4.2 innings that Cobb threw, he would pile up the pitch count while striking out thirteen, and would even strike out four in the third inning and would allow a run as well.
Curveball at 81
Splitter at 86
Split at 85
Split at 86
Curveball at 81
Will Venable gets on and begins his distracting of Cobb… split in the dirt away at 86
Venable would successfully steal second on this K.. and would steal third
Carlos Quentin couldn’t check his swing on this 58 foot splitty
Notice Cobb gets set, then brings his arms down before he steps off the rubber. Correct call by the home plate ump.
Another split at 86
Split at 87
Another splitter at 86
Really likes that splitter — 87
His last pitch? Aaaaanother splitter at 86.
This certainly was an odd outing to watch, as it always seemed like every at bat took at least seven pitches and this outing would have been really interesting had Cobb not had a pitch limit on him. How many would he have struck out if he had stayed in the game longer? Anybody’s guess, but the Padres did not seem to enjoy the split that Cobb was throwing last night.
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.
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 East, which I am having an impossible time getting a read on, because you have so much talent on these rosters, but how does what happened last year translate to 2013? How will the players that won’t break with the club play a role with the big club in the summer? If you have an easy time predicting this division, I don’t think you’re looking at what this division’s got hard enough.
5. Boston Red Sox
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 11/2, 14/1, 28/1
Stuart sees: a team that gets to hit the “reset” button with a new field manager, and names like Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez going from Red Sox to Dodger Blue. Their lineup the way it is now isn’t bad, and their rotation after Lester and Clay Buchholz is where I wonder what happens. It is definitely more of a “I don’t know what will happen” feeling than a “this team is going to tank” one. The bullpen shouldn’t be horrible, and this club could have some big mid-season call-ups in guys like Jackie Bradley, Jr., Rubby De La Rosa, and Allen Webster. If this team got a playoff spot, I can’t say I’d be surprised, and I’ll be guilty of admitting that what they did in 2012 is playing into how I’ll think they do in 2013. This is not to suggest they will be an awful 5th place team, just the team that happens to be in that spot.
4. Baltimore Orioles
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 15/2, 18/1, 35/1
Stuart sees: a squad that probably over-achieved in 2012 and won’t see consistent success until that crop of pitchers graduate full-time to the majors. Yes, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, I am looking at you. Manny Machado was brought up last year to the surprise of many, but he is still there, and many are expecting he’ll be a force even if he’s not calling his position of SS home. It is good to hear Brian Roberts‘ name used in the day-to-day action, as opposed to about his recovering from a concussion. The bullpen is passable, and that lineup a little better than that with guys like Matt Wieters starting to come around. To get back to the playoffs, the Orioles will need that pitching staff to do better than they are projected to do, otherwise, it’s going to be the familiar role of cellar dwellers for them.
3. New York Yankees
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 7/2, 9/1, 20/1
Stuart sees: people freaking out over the Yankees because Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, and Michael Pineda are all out for a while, even the Captain has been slowed down from his season-ending ankle injury. Giants fans know that they got their championships through their pitching (and timely hitting), so knowing the Yankees have Sabathia, and Hiroki Kuroda shouldn’t scare you off too much. Andy Pettitte, Ivan Nova, and David Phelps may not be the best money can buy, but you can do worse, and I think the Yanks have just enough bats to avoid getting into ALCS-bad shape. Then again, you’d have to be pretty bad to be in that shape. Again.
2. Tampa Bay Rays
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 5/2, 8/1, 16/1
Stuart sees: young, strong pitching leading the rotation, and more on the way . While Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore may not blow the doors off the scene, an improvement for Moore in 2013 would spell trouble for the AL East in getting after the Rays. If the lineup doesn’t scare you yet, that’s OK, but once Wil Myers gets penciled in, that sound you’ll hear is the American League pitchers groaning. While Myers isn’t a Mike Trout or Bryce Harper, he is still a potential All-Star for the outfield, and not one of those “hey we need a guy from a team” All-Stars. The bullpen is led by archery and plantain specialist Fernando Rodney, and after that, it’s an affordable group of arms… “If only they had more financial resources and played in a market that cared,” we cry. If this team struggles and falls out of contention, the asking price for ace SP Price should be most interesting, because he’s probably taking a raise that the Rays won’t be able to offer in the offseason.
1. Toronto Blue Jays
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 8/5, 15/4, 8/1
Stuart sees: a team that saw what the AL East was putting out and decided it was time to push the chips in. Like it or not, the Blue Jays gave up some pieces to get the guys they brought in, including R.A. Dickey. Taking a risk on Melky Cabrera was probably not looked upon favorably by the public, but I like the move that was made and hope it works out, especially with the naive optimism it could spur a “maybe we don’t have the right idea about PEDs,” but that really is a pipe-dream on my part. The rotation has the potential to be lights out with the bullpen being my question mark for the team. That lineup is not going to be fun to face, but I will say this: if you hear this club made out to be some sort of Washington Nationals-level super-club, I don’t buy into that. I think they’re a tick above what the Braves put out. A short-term gamble (but not like trading Wheeler for Beltran short-term) that should see the playoffs being played again in Toronto. Milk bags for everyone!
A crazy and difficult set of predictions for the AL East, what are yours for this division (that I think could go a lot of different ways)?
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.
Not every day you wake up to find out that a guy that went to the same undergrad institution you did signed a 6-year/$100MM contract extension, and that’s what Evan Longoria and the Rays have agreed to, per multiple internet sources. Here’s the quick twitter story on this extension: The current details of his contract look like this, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts: So already with one team-friendly deal currently being worked, he signs another, and maybe him getting injured this year and playing only 74 games in 2012 was the best thing that could happen for the Rays affording Evan Longoria for the long term. In 2017 when Longo’s next contract begins, he will be entering his age-31 season, so it is very possible that he will end up being a Ray for life when all is said and done. This is an extremely team-friendly deal, and if you’re wondering why, consider the numbers for Evan Longoria among all MLB players from the 2008-2012 seasons: 20th in HR (130), 17th in SLG (.516), 24th in wOBA (.373), 15th in wRC+ (136), and has accumulated the 3rd highest fWAR (29.3). While he may not be putting up chart-toppers overall, those same numbers amongst 3B have him ranked 3rd, 2nd, 5th, T-2nd, and 1st, so the numbers tell you if Longoria wanted to wait, it is possible that he could have received more money. It would be unfair to bring up the counterpoint though that Tim Lincecum was offered a $20MM AAV package for five years and turned that money down, and maybe Evan decided that turning down $100MM wasn’t in his best interests.
Long Beach State now has three former-Dirtbag and current-MLB players signed to relatively long-term and rich deals in Troy Tulowitzki, Jered Weaver, and now Evan Longoria. Danny Espinosa should be the next former-LBSU guy on the list to get a long-term deal.
Sunday morning in Long Beach is a cool 70 degrees, and I can finally have the windows open before the heat of the sun evaporates the clouds to prepare for a day in the high-80’s. It could be worse.
I have no idea where my thoughts for this post came from, but I wanted to look at the average home attendance of teams we’re used to seeing lose, and Tampa Bay. I don’t know why I included them, but it’s probably because when I think of places that don’t fill seats very well, I think of the State of Florida. I guess I just put their data in to pick on them. I’m such a Florida bully.
Keep in mind the season’s not done, so the averages can still be changed a little bit, but nothing drastic like a 5,000-10,000 average attendance.
You’ll notice it goes from 2012 on the left to 2008 on the right. Am really not sure why Oakland was drawing what it was in 2008. They had Jack Cust hitting 30+ bombs, and that was the A’s. But, I think their fans understood that because attendance just dips then slowly goes back up to this year (with a healthy spike from ’11), with a real possibility to passing up 2008’s average home attendance. They’re going to have to get over things like drawing 20,342 on a Saturday night (yesterday), and a really pathetic 11,688 (Tues, Sept 4th vs. LAA) in the middle of a playoff chase to beat ’08’s numbers. Really, it is good to see teams like Pittsburgh and Baltimore start to fill their seats, but even the Pirates have had 19 home games under 20,000. For anyone that’s read up on Tampa, you know their stadium is horrible and is in a bad location to be accessed, so even when they win, they can’t get people out to their ballpark. I’m not making excuses for them, but they are contributing factors.
The next graph shows you how far ahead/back of a playoff spot the teams were as of September 1st of that year. I chose that date because by then, most fans have a pretty good idea of whether they should stay emotionally invested in the team, or start preparing for the NFL/NBA/NHL/NCAA season(s). True, they’ll have a better idea by a day like September 16th, but I imagine more can happen with attendance numbers in terms of averages if people know/feel their team is in it in that final stretch that is September/October.
What’s cool about this graph is that you look at 2008-2011, and see the majority of these teams (besides Tampa twice), and how they were pretty much out of it at the time (until the Boston collapse brings that Tampa team to the playoffs last year), and now all four of these low-drawing teams are very much in the race for a spot. That is exciting stuff as a baseball fan. In four years, maybe we’re mentioning the Astros, the Cubs (although they don’t draw all that poorly), the Royals, and the Padres like we are with these teams four-five years from now.
All four of these teams are seeing a spike in their attendance this year from last year, and I’m not going to say winning is the sole cause of it, but I’d bet it’s a pretty big reason. One cannot forget what the marketing and advertising teams do to bring fans in with promotions and such, but it’ll be interesting to see how much more of a spike in attendance these teams experience for the rest of the season, and even in 2013 if these teams can continue to be successful and fill the seats in the stands.
Let’s go baseball. *clap, clap, clap-clap-clap*