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 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 don’t know about you, but I’ve followed a few Cardinals fans in my day living on Twitter (the past couple years), and boy the ones I followed sure were angry. They acted like they were always getting the cold shoulder from the mainstream, and in most cases they were right that they were getting unfairly ignored, however there was a bitterness that was very off-putting to the point where you did not want to consider their arguments. Fair to say though that every fanbase has these types of people, and I just had the opportunity to follow the ones I complained about but am always on the lookout for less angry fans. Rant over.
When I posted about the Silver Slugger a couple days ago, you may have noticed that Molina and Posey have both put up quite remarkable numbers this year at their catchers position. Seeing a tweet this morning simply stating Yadi was leading one of the WAR categories accompanied with the #Yadi4MVP hashtag brought me to investigate this “MVP” campaign. To be fair to the Trout-Cabrera argument… or more like “argument,” I wanted to try and fit in not just offensive categories but baserunning, and defensive categories as well. We all know defensive metrics are not as strong as we’d like right now, but I did my best to be fair here. A little background on the less common stats I don’t bring to the blog but show up in the graphic below:
- “BsR” is Fangraphs’ baserunning metric
- “rWAR” is Baseball Reference’s WAR, which I normally call “bWAR”
- “Rbaser” is from B-ref and it is their way of measuring “number of runs better of worse than average the player was for all baserunning events.”
At the very least, after looking at this, I wonder why I haven’t heard Yadier’s name more often, but I don’t wonder to the point where he has to be in the same graphic as Braun, McCutchen, and Posey. He will get Top 5 MVP consideration since his team will likely make the postseason. But here’s what I see when I look at these side-by-side stats: Buster’s slightly better in every offensive category except for stolen bases and grounding into double plays, yet still has a better baserunning set of stats from Fangraphs and B-Ref than Molina. Yadier, as always, is excellent at throwing out baserunners, and you can see that in his CS%. When it comes to the people that will vote, they’re going to also look at AVG, SLG, and RBI, which I’m not as big of a fan of as those guys, but bad news to the Molina camp because Buster leads in those offensive categories, too.
So should you applaud Yadier Molina for another great season? Absolutely, he’s a wonderful baseball player, and so much fun to watch especially on defense when baserunners foolishly challenge him. Unless he hits 8 HR in the last 5 games though, I have serious doubts about him winning the MVP.
I’m not going to lie: I am out of touch with the public when it comes to the feeling of what the fanbase is feeling after this weekend’s sweep, essentially taking a break from Twitter to focus on getting married, and I also never look at fanboards and comment sections to boot. However, after sweeping an MLB team, even if it is the lowly Rockies, probably has people feeling pretty good, including the guys getting paid to play. Now they travel to St. Louis, known for their improbable run to euphoria back last year, and they get mocked a lot for having “the best fans in baseball,” but after seeing them do the wave, it was probably a different time when/if they had the best fans. Something you may have noticed, these squads sport the same record, and we know the NL West hasn’t been all too strong, and some may say the weather may be an issue. I think the Giants already had their bad hot trip, and remember all too well how quickly things can get bad when they start making excuses.
Monday, August 6th: RHP Matt Cain vs. RHP Jake Westbrook
One sentence summary: The sinkerballer Westbrook is prone to giving up runs, but will eat up innings while Cainer looks to find his stroke after a rough outing vs. the Metropolitans.
Useless trivia: Of the four times Matt Cain has thrown less than 100 pitches, three of those times he’s thrown 97 (the other at 91 in his duel with Cliff Lee).
Tuesday, August 7th: LHP Barry Zito vs. RHP Lance Lynn
One sentence summary: The last two times Zito’s been on the bump the team has seen their opponent score 9, and 10, respectively, while Lance Lynn has been getting some great run support to back his nice strikeout ratio, and win-loss record.
Wednesday, August 8th: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. RHP Joe Kelly
One sentence summary: In his 10 starts, Kelly has not seen more than 3 ER get tacked to his record, and Vogelsong still has his amazing streak of 6+ IP in his starts going strong.
Thursday, August 9th: LHP Madison Bumgarner vs. RHP Adam Wainwright
One sentence summary: Bumgarner has only allowed more than 2 walks once this year, and Wainwright has just come off a complete game as this game promises to be one that grabs the attention of baseball fans.
The Bare Bones of the Offense
Alex Pavlovic was talking about Buster Posey putting up video game numbers, and if you’ve taken a look at the last seven days it’s even more video game: .500/.600/.958 with a .629 wOBA including 3 HR — who does that? Melky and Pagan have been contributing lately as well, Pagan especially thanks to the three-game stat-booster in Colorado. It’s been reported Pablo Sandoval won’t be pushed to join the lineup at the tail end of the series, so we’ll just have to wait for the weekend. Gregor Blanco and Brandon Crawford’s bats have been slowing the boys down within the past week.
You know who else hits 3 HR in a week? Matt Holliday. You know who steals 3 bags in a week? Yadier Molina…. which is shocking because you’re just not used to seeing a Molina with a SB recorded after getting to watch Bengie for so many years. Old friend Carlos Beltran is also swinging the stick well at the moment. Somebody that’s had good numbers all year but you might not know unless you’re into the fantasy baseball aspect of things is Allen Craig, so keep an eye on him. Rafael Furcal has been ice cold with a .090 wOBA in the last 7.
If the Giants sweep in St. Louis that’d be fantastic, but against a team like St. Louis, it’s an incredibly greater task than against a minor league team like the Rox.
Monday: Giants win (Bats still warm)
Tuesday: Cardinals win (Zito’s outing too demoralizing)
Wednesday: Giants win (Joe Kelly gets Cain’d)
Thursday: Cardinals win (Vintage Wainwright)
No more blog posts this week, so enjoy your baseball!
Fans around the world are voting for their favorite players to be in the All Star Game in Kansas City next month. For some reason voting opens unnecessarily early and lasts until I don’t know when. If it were up to me, I’d have a couple weeks of voting starting around a week ago, and then close it before the last week of June. A lot of people are already voting on small sample sizes (SSS), so why open it up so early? That’s another argument for another day.
There are a few ways to go about voting for your All Star team when you fill out your ballot:
1. You try to pick the players having the best season statistically
2. You pick the players you want to see out there on the field, no matter if they’re not as hot as someone else
3. You pick every players from the team you root for because that page or stadium billboard told you so
4. You pick the best looking players because that’s the only reason you watch baseball anyway
5. You pick the worst players for both sides (I see you trollin’), or just the opposition in hopes your team of All Stars will crush the other team of Brandon Crawfords.
I’m going to go for #1 in this post and get an understanding for why Buster Posey is leading the way he is, but in the end, I believe the fans of baseball vote with their heart (option #2… and maybe 4) and want to give what they believe to be Buster’s due of playing in an All Star Game.
Entering today’s games, here’s some rankings of some stat categories and where you can find the Buster amongst NL catchers:
Home Runs: Y Molina, McCann, Wilin Rosario (9), C Ruiz, Posey (8)
RBI (Because some fans use this stat because they think this is a reasonable measuring stick, but it isn’t): Molina (36), C Ruiz, Posey (35)
SB: Molina (6), Rosario (3), Ruiz, J Lucroy (2), Posey, McCann (1)
OBP: AJ Ellis (.434), Ruiz (.424), Lucroy (.387), Molina (.378), Ryan Hanigan (.368), Miguel Montero (.358), Posey (.353)
ISO: Rosario (.259), Lucroy (.237), Ruiz (.216), Molina (.191), McCann (.185), Posey (.178)
Line Drive %: Buster is 11th; Molina leads at 25.9%
wOBA: Ruiz (.427), Lucroy (.414), Ellis (.389), Molina (.388), Posey (.356)
wRAA: Ruiz (18.9), Molina (14.1), Ellis (12.6), Lucroy (11.9), Posey (7.6)
wRC+ has the same order as wOBA.
fWAR: Ruiz (3.2), Ellis (3.0), Molina (2.9), Lucroy (1.8), Posey (1.8)
So perhaps I’ve played devil’s advocate here by showing the numbers really don’t support Buster, and I hope I haven’t tainted your view of Buster’s performance this season (he’s still doing pretty good). Due to his success in 2010 and the tragedy of 2011, I think the fans will put him in the 2012 ASG one way or another, which is fine by me, because like many other Giants fans I have numerous Buster Posey things (does that sound creepy?) around my place that I look to every time he does well. So if you’re going to #VoteBuster, go for it, just if you do it, don’t say right now you’re doing it because he has better numbers than everyone else, since frankly that would be a pile of poop.
So Game 1 was 3-2, Cardinals. Game 2 was 2-1, Rangers. This obviously sets up a 1-0 Cardinals game. Kyle Lohse vs. Matt Harrison in Texas? Yea, I know. Crazier things have happened. Like the first two games having a combined 8 runs. Both games being one run games isn’t a horribly big surprise, I just thought at least one of the teams would have scored 8 runs in one of the games. I’m sure there will be at least one of those games that one team wins like say… 16-4, or 11-8, or 9-0. You know, something like that.
From what I’ve heard, the managers have overmanaged both games in some way: Ron Washington in Game 1 using German in a PH role, Tony La Russa pulling Motte in the 9th. Do I agree with both of those decisions? No. But I understand La Russa’s more than Washington’s. However, Washington has led his team to back-to-back World Series and TLR has been in quite a few and won some himself. I stop short of saying things like “these guys obviously don’t know what they’re doing.” They obviously do.
Some guy with two first names was the hero in Game 1 while small ball and a cutter from the CF that Albert missed in the 9th in Game 2 has the world talking. Should it be an error? Debatable. All that matters is that Elvis Andrus was on 2nd and the Texas Rangers took advantage of pitches in bad spots (up to Hamilton; away in the zone to Young where he can extend his arms).
MLB Network is doing a great Diamond Demo on Rafael Furcal’s positioning on tagging Ian Kinsler in that Raffy should’ve straddled the bag and maybe the outcome would’ve been different. Didn’t think anyone would get a SB on Yadier in this series. I have a lot of respect for that arm. Credit Kinsler for a ballsy and successful SB. Also, how about Elvis tonight? Nice. No question in my mind when Neftali came in.
By the way, I’m sure if you’re at least… 10 years old and are a rabid sports fan, you’ll notice the conversation about the series always stays the same no matter what.
Team A up 1-0: “Team that wins the first game more likely to win the series! This could be the year!”
Team A and B tied: “Team B has the momentum now… can Team A fight it?!?! I think Team B will win!”
Whoever goes up 2-1: “I team (winning team)’s chances to win. 2 wins away, they have their ace going in Game 5 and their Game 6 starter is next in line in case things get a little crazy. That team is my favorite to win now!”
The only annoying part about the playoffs. Outside of the obvious sports people and football music network that broadcast the World Series.