Archive for June 2010

Phillies in trouble

June 30, 2010

Entering the season, the Phillies had been to back to back World Series in 2008 and 2009. Many people had them pegged as the best team in the National League. Add in the fact that they picked up Doc Halladay and you could forgetaboutit.

But with the half-way point of the season approaching, the Phillies sit in third place at 41-35, three games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. Meanwhile, Chase Utley, the Phillies best player, has been placed on the DL along with Placido Polanco.

The road ahead could be brutal to Philadelphia. Greg Dobbs, who is replacing Polanco, and Wilson Valdez, who is replacing Utley, are both below average players. Yes, Philly still has Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth, and Shane Victorino in the lineup, but they are missing out on two players who have combined for a 5.2 WAR so far. The drop off between that and their replacements is HUGE. If Utley and Polanco are out for an extended period of time, it could be Philly’s death sentence as the Braves do not look to be letting up, and the Mets will only be getting stronger with the addition of Carlos Beltran.

One break for Philly is the fact that the AS break is coming up shortly. If they can manage their way through the next twelve games, then they could be fine. But if Utley and Polanco aren’t back by the time the break ends, it could mean serious trouble. After opening the second half with four against the Cubs, the Phillies have four games with the Cardinals and four games with the Rockies- two solid ball clubs.

I never would have imagined this scenario back in March, but the Phillies appear likely to miss out on the postseason for the first time since 2006.

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Sweet, sweet victory

June 28, 2010

Thanks again, Clueless Joe.

Edwin Jackson.

June 26, 2010

Is German.

Has no hit the Rays.

So in honor of his no-hitter……. Here’s some German.

Congrats Edwin. Einige weird shit ist in diesem Jahr gehen. Rays habe kein Treffer zum zweiten Mal in diesem Jahr, lol.

Is Craig Biggio a Hall of Famer?

June 26, 2010

The answer may seem obvious to the casual fan- yes. Biggio is in the 3000 hit club, has over 400 stolen bases, and 668 career doubles. Not to mention his Silver Slugger hardware and ASG appearances. But to the SABR fan, it may be closer than it appears. While he has a career 70.1 WAR, a good mark, his WAR/700 is just 3.9- not exactly HOF standards. Moreover, a total WAR of 70.1 is impressive, but he compiled that over a twenty year career consisting of 2850 games.

To solve the case, I dug deeper. In the 1990’s the dood was awesome. He posted a 3+ WAR every season and according to Rally, a 3+ WAR season is an excellent. So Biggio posted ten straight excellent seasons in the 1990’s. Amazing. Within the decade, he composed three MVP worthy seasons of 6+ WAR in 1995, 1997, and 1998. But in the new millennium he fell off a cliff. He posted just one season above a 3+ WAR. While his last eight seasons count when making a decision, how much should we punish him for a steep decline? In his prime he had ten excellent seasons, which is more than most players can say for themselves.

I say you cannot punish him for falling off the face of the earth. He played at a Hall of Fame level for an entire decade. Not even some HOF’ers can say that. Rod Carew- a fellow second baseman who also played another position in his career- has a WAE (Wins Above Excellent) of 30.2 or 37.6% of his total WAR. Biggio’s is 22.5 or 32.1% of his total. I bet that’s closer than you would have imagined.

Biggio’s career line is .281/.363/.433/.355wOBA/120wRC+. Not too shabby for a second baseman, catcher, and center fielder. In his ten year peak though, his OBP stayed in the .378 to .411 range. His wOBA ranged from .347 to .410. His wRC+ ranged from 122 to 156. In fact, he topped a 150 wRC+ three times as a second baseman. Again, not too shabby.

Biggio was a fantastic player before he got old, and that is why he should be in the Hall of Fame. I have two graphs comparing him to Roberto Alomar, a fellow second baseman who I and many others consider a HOF’er. Why Alomar? Simply because they both broke into the majors in 1988 and considering the length of Biggio’s career, I need a comparison player who also had a long career.

The first graph their career WAR in order by season. The second graph is a graph of their single season WAR from best to worst.

Biggio is right on par with Alomar in terms of WAR as the graphs show. Alomar might have been slightly better, but only slightly. During the 1990’s, Biggio was arguably the best second baseman in baseball and in the top tier of players in the entire game. You simply cannot punish him for staying in the game too long. By doing so, he hurt his rate numbers such as OBP, SLG, and wOBA. But when he was going full force, he was playing at a HOF level.

In the end though, whether you think he will be a weak HOF’er or not, it is quite clear the BBWAA will vote him in. And they should.

Smokin’ hot

June 25, 2010

…is how one must describe Dustin Pedroia after he went 5-5 last night with a double and three(!) homers.

One June 1 he was hitting .254/.331/.445. Just twenty-five days later he is hitting .293/.369/.503/.382wOBA/135wRC+. His average climbed forty points. His OBP climbed sixty points. His slugging climbed fifty points. And during the hot streak, he had eleven multi-hit games.

Before the season and even during the season, many stat heads saw Dustin Pedroia as the best second baseman in baseball not named Chase Utley. BtB ranked him as the 16th best player in baseball going forward over the next five years.

The season started out strong for Pedroia as he crushed home runs and extra base hits, but then May rolled in. Pedroia struggled greatly, and saw his numbers plummet to career lows. Meanwhile, his AL East second base foe and counterpart got off to one of the best starts in all of baseball. Suddenly, Pedroia was no longer a Prince waiting to take the crown from Utley.

Not to brag, but I never gave in to the crowd. I just knew- knew– Pedroia would turn it around. He has been a great defender, but there was no way he would hit like he did in May all season. I don’t have batted splits for certain time frames, otherwise I’d look at it to see if he was just getting unlucky due to SSS, but I would imagine that played some role in his slump.

The most amazing thing about Pedroia’s season is his power. His ISO stands at .211 right now, fifty-five points above his career average .156. In the off-season he vowed to hit more home runs and so far he is following through on that promise. He is on pace to hit the most homers for himself in a season, and his HR/FB% is a career high 11.5% despite hitting fly balls at the same rate he always has. While he will never lead the league in home runs, adding a power element to an offensive game that already includes good contact and on base skills means Dustin Pedroia could become of the best all around hitters and players in baseball, not just second base.

Right now, Pedroia’s WAR stands at 3.2. He has a career high .382 wOBA (.362 park-adjusted though). His defense has been phenomenal again as he sports a 9.2 UZR/150 and +9 DRS. Call me crazy, but I predict he will have the highest WAR among AL second basemen by seasons end and he will continue to be the best second baseman in the AL. Yes, I know.

Just trust me.

Alex Gordon and other Royal thoughts

June 25, 2010

It’s time to start the campaign- FREE ALEX GORDON.

Right now, as we speak, Alex Gordon is in Omaha learning how to play left field. He’s been in Omaha for 47 games. In those games he is only hitting .327/.471/.569 with 38 walks to 50 strikeouts. Yes, he is striking out in 22% of his PA so far, but his BB rate is 17%. In 30 MiLB games last season, he hit .327/.451/.558 with a 23:24 BB:K ratio. It is quite clear he needs to be at a higher level than AAA. Meanwhile, the Royals have been playing Alberto Callaspo at third base. Yes, the same Alberto Callaspo of the 92 wRC+.

I really want to know what Gordon has to do to get a call-up to Kansas City. Yes, he struggled this season with KC- in TWELVE GAMES! Yes, he struggled in 2009- over the span of FORTY-NINE GAMES! That’s a grand total of 61 games. In 2007 and 2008 he played in 285 games at the ML level, compiling 4.4 WAR. His rookie season his wRC+ was a lowly 89, but in 2008 it was 109, showing that he has hit in at the highest level over an extended season.

So he had success during his first two seasons. That’s a 285 game sample size compared to a 61 game sample size. It’s seems awfully unfair to consider Gordon a bust based on 1/3 a season’s worth of data. That’s not to mention he is still young and young players- even top prospects like him- struggle sometimes. Gordon went down to the minors and is raking there. He needs to be back in Kansas City so we can see if his improvement is real. Should he continue to struggle, he can’t be any worse than Callaspo. But I doubt Gordon fails.

Look, Gordon will probably never be the star most people thought he would be. But he has smoked pitching in AA back when he was a prospect, and has smoked AAA pitching in 2009 and 2010. The only way he can improve at this point is to do so at the ML level. He needs to get his old third base job back- especially since it’ll enhance his value compared to left field. He may have hit poorly in 2009 and 2010, but that was across just 61 games. If given a real opportunity, Gordon will prove he is a quality starter at the big league level.

***

Kila Ka’aihue. Why won’t KC call him up? In 2008 across AA and AAA he hit .314/.456/.628 with 104 BB to 67 K over 505 PA. So far in 2010 he’s hit .314/.483/.567 with 65 BB to 46 K over 259 PA. Over his professional career Kila has shown a fantastic ability to walk and get on base, while also hitting for average and power. Kansas City, just call him up. DH him. Put him at first and DH Billy Butler. Just do something. Don’t let him waste in Omaha until he’s a corpse.

How the Mets should handle the Carlos Beltran/Angel Pagan situation

June 23, 2010

To begin, I can’t believe this needs a post. The answer is simple. Start Beltran in center, slide Pagan to right, and bench Francouer. But to most Mets fans and some writers, this is a serious question. They believe Pagan should start over Beltran and that Beltran might be hurting the team. Yeah, I know, it’s stoopid. We’re talking about future HOF’er Carlos Beltran v. Angel Pagan. C’mon media. I know you guys are mediots, but don’t fall below the Mendoza Line.

Yes, Angel Pagan is currently in the top fifteen among all MLB OF when it comes to WAR (he has 2.5). He’s been a nice surprise, providing some offense with solid defense. His rest of season projection believes that he’ll keep his current level of production. But we’re talking about Carlos Beltran, who was the best center fielder in baseball before the surgery. Yes, he is older now and his injuries may cut into his defensive range and base running ability. At the same time though, he should be able to hit and a weaker Carlos Beltran probably is still the best outfielder the Mets have.

Really though, the whole situation shows the narrow mindedness of some people. Yes, Beltran and Pagan are both center fielders. Does that mean we can’t be creative? You solve the problem by moving one of them to the corner outfield- in this case I would move Pagan. It’s not like the Mets have a loaded outfield. Jeff Francouer sucks. You can’t worry about his ego, contract, or past potential. Francouer has been terrible for three years now. In the past three seasons his total WAR is 0.0. Bench him. Move Pagan to left. Insert Beltran in center. Case closed.

Kthxbye Jerry Manuel!