Who is really the best baseball team in the majors? I honestly don't know but I try to figure that out by using basic and advanced statistics. I live for talking about baseball, it's my biggest drive in my life and I will jump on the opportunity to talk baseball with anyone, even with people who I don't really like. For me, Baseball is a piece of art that sits in my mind all day, ready to be painted on at any point of the day.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

David Freese is red hot (right now)

By Mike Moritz

Both Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier (among many others like Jose Bautista and Joey Votto) have been getting full-fledged attention for getting off to hot starts this season without the help of 100% luck (in other words, not all of their performance has been BABIP'd for the better). David Freese is one of the overlooked players that has been red hot right off the bat (no pun intended).

Freese has looked to be legitimately good so far. He's hit .342/.378/.474 and a .374 wOBA. His BABIP is obviously unsustainable, sitting at .444 but he is leading the league in line drive rate at 35.7%. A ridiculous rate that seems to be carrying Freese right now. There is no doubt in my mind that he is also getting pretty lucking but still, the fact that he is hitting line drives at a staggering rate helps a crap load. I also highly doubt that he can keep this up, I don't think he is this good, but yes, he is a good player. We often tend to attribute a hot streak to complete luck, but this is not always the case. And Freese can be used as a good example because he is doing well and not just getting lucky. Hits come at complete randomness so I guess you could argue that Freese has gotten lucky that he is hitting line drives at such a high rate, but when a player gets lucky, we mean that hits are dropping in that should not be.

He could also just be seeing the ball well.

You could say that, but this is where Freese is in a danger for hitting a huge slump.

A look at his plate discipline stats suggest to us that he is actually seeing the ball badly. His O-Swing% has jumped from 24.3% in 2010 to 32% this year. What makes that statistic even worse is that his O-Contact% has also jumped up from 52.9% to 63.8%, meaning that he is probably making a lot more of "bad" contact then he was last year. To make matters even worse, his Z-Swing% has gone down from 67.1% to 63.1% meaning that he actually struggling to make contact on pitches that stay in the zone (mostly fastballs). And because fastballs tend to be one of the few pitches that are meant to stay in the strike zone when thrown and because pitchers are throwing fastballs to Freese 63.3% of the time, we can say with confidence that Freese is struggling with the fastball. Sure enough, his pitch type values rate Freese's "fastball hitting" at -0.53 wFB/C. To finish things off, his Z-Contact% in 2010 was 84.4% and is now 73.7%. His SwStr% has gone up from 10.5% to 12.9% and overall, his Contact% has dropped from 76.1% last year to 70.1% this year.

In total? His punch out rate this year is 27.6% and his walk rate is an abysmal 4.9% and a slim 36 points separate his batting average and OBP.

The thing is, it's kind of a wonder to me why he is hitting so well yet he is performing so poorly with his batting eye. In fact, it is a HUGE wonder to me.

Not only will Freese stop getting lucky in time, but it does not seem as though he will be able to sustain this kind of absurd-type line drive rate, partly because I doubt he is this good and mostly because his plate discipline is just so bad so far this year.

The catch is that we are, once again, dealing with small sample sizes so all we can do is say "we have to keep a close eye on him" just like we are keeping an eye on his teammate, Albert Pujols (or at least I am). If you haven't seen my post on why we should be on the look out for Pujols, click here.

I just wanted to take the time to have people recognize a player that is off to a similar kind of hot start along with Kemp, Ethier, Votto, Bautista, Matt Holliday and others....and then tell why I think he might not only regress, but crash too.

"Only time will tell."

(Statistics in courtesy of: fangraphs.com)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Let's not worry about Pujols...yet

By Mike Moritz

As crazy as it sounds, we could possibly see the beginning of a decline for Albert Pujols. In fact, this decline that we MIGHT be witnessing started in September of 2010, when his line drive rate dropped off to a below average 14%. And this year, Pujols has a mere 13% line drive rate as his ground ball rate has risen to 48.1%, a 7.5% increase from his career mark. Woah. Is this seriously happening? At age 31?

Well we shouldn't worry for another two-ish weeks. Line drive rates tend to stabilize around 150 PAs into the season and ground ball rate doesn't stabilize until 200. So far Pujols has 94.

His walk rate is also down considerably, to 8.5% compared to his 13.4% career mark. But then again, walk rate doesn't stabilize until 200 PAs as well.

While his power is in line with what it should be for Pujols (.262 ISO, 39% fly ball rate), his batting average is has been taking a hit from a really low .200 BABIP.

Although some of this can blamed on the scary-low line drive rate, some of this can be possibly be blamed on Mark McGwire, the Cardinals hitting coach. The McGwire-as-Coach experiment has not looked good so far. Brendon Ryan being a "big project" last year really fucked them over, and now he's a Mariner. I am not sure what exactly McGwire is doing, if anything, but the attempted approach that he has going might be having a negative affect on Pujols. 

What ever the case may be, this is a somewhat shaky situation. ZIPS updated projection for Pujols is now projecting him for a .299/.397/.572 slash line. It would be the first time that Pujols would hit below .300 (.312 to be exact), the second time that he would have an OBP below .400 and the forth time he would have a SLG below .600. As amazing as it is, it is still scary to think that one of the greatest players of all-time MIGHT be hitting his decline. His BABIP has been under .300 in the past two seasons in a row (2009 and 2010) which suggests that something could be happening soon, but I am probably wrong about that.

Normally, we would not really keep a tight note on Pujols's hitting peripherals, we just assume that he is doing his usual thing, but for at least the next month-ish, we should be carefully examining his statistics. Small sample sizes are really a pain, but we just are not used to seeing Pujols struggle to hit for a good average. Chances are that he returns to form soon enough and that his luck will change back to normal. And honestly, even if his peripherals return to normal, he might still get "BABIP'd" (a term that I have officially coined). Almost every player in the majors, through out somewhere in their career, gets BABIP'd for either better or worse for the length of about a season. This might be the year that he gets hit by a really low BABIP. Or maybe this is indeed the beginning of a decline for one the greatest in baseball history. And if this is the beggining of the end for Pujols, the question becomes, "How much will this affect his new contract for the 2012 season and beyond?"

As Carson Cistulli of Fangraphs likes to say, "Only time will tell". 

(Statistics in courtesy of: fangraphs.com)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Justin Upton's small sample size

By Mike Moritz

Fangraphs lately have taken note of Justin Upton's hot start to the 2011 season. In these two recent posts (here and here), they have noted that perhaps this is the year that Upton puts all his god-given potential together and becomes a superstar. Upton, for years now, has been noted for his incredible tools on the field. His most impressive tool might be his unbelievable raw-power, as seen here.

What I am about to say would be completely going against Fangraphs, something that I would normally never do. But I do believe that they are making a mistake. In the second article that I have linked, Chris Cwik explains that Upton's change in plate approach (being more aggressive) in 2011 has led to his.... enormous luck? No offence to Cwik, I love his writing, he's one of my favorite baseball writers, but he failed to point out any statistical improvement that has had a direct correlation with his offensive output.

Cwik mentioned that Upton's plate discipline has been much different this year that past years. Upton has been more aggressive, as mentioned before. One big complaint from last year was that he was watching strike 3 go by way too often: 41.5% swing%. So this year, he has swung the bat more. His Swing% has gone up to 46.6%, his Z-Swing% has gone from 61.7% to 69.4% and his O-Swing% has risen from 24% to 29.7%. By being more aggressive, he has actually cut down on his strike outs by a lot. His 30.7% K% from 2010 was not that surprising considering the kind of team he was on last year. That number has fallen to a below-average 17.9% while the walk rate has gone to a career high 13.8%. So yes, being more aggressive at the plate has helped him cut down on the strike outs, so far. The problem is that we have so little of a sample size.

Swing% tends to stabilize at about 50 PAs into the season. Upton has 69, so it is basically a lock for him to keep swinging at the rate that he is right now. The big question is, even though his contact rate has not changed from last season, how long will this kind of Upton last? His contact rate was 74.3% in 2010 and 73.7% this year. So, you as the reader might be thinking "So Upton is just going to strike out the same amount?" But the truth is, we don't even have enough PAs from him to make that assumption (Contact% stabilizes at 100 PAs).

The aggressiveness is there, yes, but, again, it does not seem like we have enough of a sample size to tell if this is the real deal. Even if his plate approach has changed a lot for the better, his batted ball rates have actually been worse:


"Brace yourself, baseball fans, this could be the breakout season we’ve all been waiting for."
That is the last season in Cwik's article (the second link) and he is saying that "this is the year". The problem is that even for Upton's batted ball rates, they still haven't stabilized. Line Drive rate=150 PAs. Ground Ball rate=200 PAs. Fly Ball rate=250 PAs. Again, I really don't want to try to prove Cwik wrong, but if this is Upton's break out year, then Cwik is essentially saying that he is going to continue to hit home runs out the park at a 26.7% rate despite his lowly 33.3% fly ball rate. And Cwik is saying that this is his year without an adequate number of PAs.

My point is that we just don't have enough PAs to tell if this is "his year". We won't know until maybe at the All-Star break but Fangraphs have been getting a bit excited for Upton this year. I really don't know and I don't think anybody really does know that this will be his break out year considering we have not seen a consistent improvement in his hitting peripherals. We just don't know yet. But it seems like Fangraphs is trying to say that this is "the year" even without the right amount of PAs.

Look, I am not trying to rip on Fangraphs or Chris Cwik. As mentioned before, I love Cwik's writing and overall, I love Fangraphs. I am just saying, we don't have enough PAs to tell if Upton is breaking-out this year. Upton already has 1.1 WAR, that is something around 10 WAR in 162 games. I am almost positive that he will sustain this, but then again, we can't project this perfectly.

(Statistics in courtesy of: fangraphs.com)

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Lost Value of Mauer and Hamilton

By Mike Moritz

As we learned a couple days ago, reigning AL MVP Josh Hamilton will be out for 6-8 weeks after breaking his arm on a not-your-usual play at the plate and Joe Mauer will be on the 15-day disabled list to a bum knee. As I was watching the Yankees-Rangers game last night, the text-poll was "which team will suffer more from the losses of: A) Josh Hamilton or B) Joe Mauer. This immediately inspired me to figure this out. Which team WILL suffer more?

I have come up with a simple equation to figure this out. First, you add up all the collective WAR for the player and then divide that number by the number seasons he has been playing. After you get the average WAR per season, you have to then divide that number by the average number of games played by that player per year. After doing so, you must then count the number of games that the player will miss and then with the decimal that you just got, you must multiply that number by the number of games going to be missed and that is your final answer.

Josh Hamilton sliding into home plate and thus breaking his arm. Considering that there was no one covering home plate when Hamilton was tagging and also considering his average speed, it was not a bad idea for him to try and score. He's just not a durable player and broke his arm.
So to start off, I'll figure out how many wins the Rangers are expected to lose for the next eight weeks without Hamilton. Hamilton's career average WAR is 4.75. NOTE: for his shortened 2007 and 2009 seasons, I added what I thought might be a good number WAR over the course of the whole season. That said, this is why 4.75 is our number. After dividing, we get .029 WAR per game and that number times 48 (the number of games that he is most likely to miss) is 1.4. So the Rangers are losing almost a win and a half without Hamilton in the lineup for eight weeks. But let us consider what the Rangers offer us with the players coming off the bench. The replacement for Hamilton is David Murphy, who is a solid player, put simply. What you get out of Murphy is essentially just barely above average hitting and just barely above average defense. With that in mind, I am not worried at all about the Rangers being that they have Murphy to fill in. So they might only lose 1 win instead of 1.5. Murphy has been more than capable of a starting job and while he has gotten no more than 494 PAs in a season and is on the Rangers roster as a bench player, he is still good and good enough to get into the lineup very often for a bench player. He can play any outfield spot but will probably be playing left field until Hamilton gets back.

While the Rangers are not in a bad situation without Hamilton, Joe Mauer and the Twins are, indeed in a bad situation in the seasonal-run, but for the next 15 days, they should be fine (others will beg to differ). Mauer is dealing with a bum knee (and viral infection) which is scary to think considering that he's a catcher. Anyways, I could not find exactly when he is due back so I am going to assume that this is just your Average-Joe's DL stint. So he should be missing 14 games in the 15 days that he is on the DL. Using the same equation on Mauer, we find that the Twins will lose .451 wins, or about half a win over the course of the 15 days.

The Twins are have questionable defense and a depleted bullpen and people will probably overreact to the loss of Mauer over the next few days. If Hamilton and Mauer switched places and Hamilton was on the Twins, then I would say that the Twins would be in trouble because they would not have a good replacement player for the next eight weeks (assuming Delmon Young would not be on the Twins if they had Hamilton). And if the Rangers did not have Yorvit Torrealba and had Mauer out for eight weeks, I still would not have worried because the Rangers could put Mike Napoli in for that time and get a lot of production out of him. But nonetheless, Mauer is a Twin and Hamilton is a Ranger. Luckily, the Twins are only losing Mauer for 15 days and the Rangers have a more than an adequate outfield replacement in David Murphy so eight weeks won't even harm them that much.

NOTE: In calculating how many wins lost, I did not include this years WAR since each player have had minimal PAs.

NOTE: If there are errors in my equation, please let me know by commenting down below. I am by no means a math-wiz and would like to make sure that this is correct.

(Statistics in courtesy of: fangraphs.com, espn.com)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Trevor Cahill's extension

By Mike Moritz

It was announced a few days ago that The Oakland Athletics and Trevor Cahill came to an agreement on an extension but it was not until I was in the middle of writing my post on Clay Buchholz's extension that the specific details came out. Cahill, 23-years old, had a break out year last year. Too bad this post and subject is almost identical to Clay Buchholz and his new contract. Like Buchholz, Cahill is a huge regression candidate for 2011. Although, I really like the contract for the long term because Cahill has a good amount of upside. His minor league strike out numbers (9.9 K/9) are something that has failed to translate into major league stats (5.17 K/9) but they do suggest that there is potential. So for this year, this contract is not very good but for Cahill's future, this is a good contract for Oakland. The deal is worth $30.5 million over five years with two team options worth $13 million and $13.5 million so the deal could come to about $57 million, or the same amount as Buchholz's contract with both options exercised.

His true talent was completely masked by a lot of luck in 2010, just like Buchholz. A 4.19 FIP and 3.99 xFIP turned into a 2.97 ERA and 18 wins thanks to a .236 BABIP and a 76.5% LOB. On top of that, even though his strike out rates rose from a mere 4.53 K/9 in 2009 to 5.40 K/9 in 2010, his SwStr% (swinging strike%) dropped from 7.4% in 2009 to 5.9% last year, which suggests that he is getting more hitter to strike out looking and that maybe his pitches are more effective.

I am convinced that that is what happend. When looking at Cahill's pitch type values, I found that all of his pitches improved signifigantly from '09 to '10. And that is probably why his FIP dropped from an ugly 5.33 in 2009 to 4.19 and his xFIP in 2009 dropped from 4.86 to 3.99. Accoringly, his K/9 rose from 4.53 in 2009 to a still bad 5.40. His walk rate also benefited from his improvement: 3.63 BB/9 down to 2.88. And although a small difference, his swing% went from 42.5% in 2009 to 40.8% last year. Again, that is a small improvement but it still backs up my reasoning as to why it seems like he got hitters to strike out looking more often.

But how did he get his opossing hitters to get sent down looking? And why?

First, I'll answer the "why" part.

To put as simply as posible, Cahill just got better. He improved his all around game, from velocity to effectiveness. His fastball jumped almost a whole tick. But rather, lets look at his improved pitch values that I mentioned before:


Again, as you can see by just looking, all his pitches signifigantly improved. Espessialy his fastball and curveball.

Because his curve was much improved, he then decided to use it much more in 2010. Cahill used his curve just 2.7% of the time in 2009. In 2010, he used it 13.1% of the time. Let's take a look at how his pitches have been able to break from 2009 to 2010:



Just as expressed in the pitch values that you just saw, his curve ball (purple) added a lot of break to it. Hitters then strike out more and they go down looking, as my belief goes. 

I love this contract. Cahill is a pitcher with a lot of upside. I haven't even mentioned that his ground ball rate is super human. In 2009, it was a great 47.8% and it moved up to 56% last year. And with a fantastic Athletics infield, that is great for Cahill. 

Cahill has a lot of upside and the Athletics have him to a very team friendly contract. Overall, a great contract. Even if Cahill falters for five years, the A's can just opt out of his contract. One thing that I would have liked to see is to see GM Billy Beane do the same that Theo Epstein should have also done: wait until after the season to see Cahill's regression and sign him to a cheaper extension. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Clay Buchholz's extension

By Mike Moritz

Just yesterday, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and Clay Buchholz agreed on a four-year, $30 million contract extension. This new contract will take out Buchholz's remaining years of arbitration and will also take out one year of free agency. The contract will kick in starting in 2012 and also has two club options for 2016 and 2017 that could bring the deal to $57 million. Me being a young advanced-statistics apprentice, I have some beef to express about this new contract. Don't worry, I don't have that much to say.

One reason why I do not like this contract is for the simple reason that he is not as good as he performed last year. His 2.33 ERA and 17 wins are good, yes, but no where near what he should have been. His xFIP last year was 4.07. I could theoretically stop there but I won't. His low and for the most part, unsustainable ERA were fueled by some serious luck with a .261 BABIP and a 79% LOB. His xBABIP was .297 and although I don't have a xLOB calculator (if there even is one), I can say with confidence that his LOB was high as well. His 5.6% HR/FB, also suggesting that he got a little lucky there too. He has almost completely abandoned his curve ball for his slider, which is not necessarily a bad thing but could be a reason why his strike out rate has completely fallen off the cliff from 'good' to 'below average'. And with his walk rates not improving, I can see why it is hard for him to get his K/BB rate over 2.0.

But on the other hand, he has shown a consistent knack for getting ground balls ever since his first extended look at the majors. His career 50.3% ground ball rate should bode very well for him. And considering the Red Sox's great infield defense behind him, it should help his ERA to not get out of hand. So we could see an ERA closer to his FIP of 3.61. But nonetheless, he is going to experience a big regression; he has already given up five this year after just nine last year. That's the beginning.

The second reason why I don't think that this contract is great is that Theo should have waited to see if Buchholz was the "real-deal" since he does not use much advanced statistics (at least I do not think he does). If he did see that he Buchholz was the victim of a shit-load of luck, he probably would have waited after this year to give him an extension, basically meaning that he would be able to pay Buchholz less money and maybe getting him at a better deal than this one is already. I mean, isn't that what baseball is about? Getting talent for a really cheap price?  If Theo had waited until after this season, he would see how Buchholz had regressed and sign him to a cheaper contract, simple. So instead of getting paid $3.5 million in the first year of the deal, that might ~$2 million and so on and so forth.

As for Theo being a good GM. I honestly do not think he that great when it comes to contracts and free-agents. He obviously builds a good farm system and and is clearly is smart when trading players. But just think of the questionable contracts in the recent years: John Lackey, Johnathon Papelbon, and personally, I am not that big of a fan of the J.D. Drew contract. And most notably, the Carl Crawford contract. Does Theo really think that Crawford can keep up his speed (which is where most of his value comes from) for all seven years? Watch that contract come back to haunt Theo. What happens when Crawford starts to lose his speed? He already does not walk enough and I would say that he, at the age of 29, is already at the very latter part of his speed prime. Not to mention that his defensive value gets somewhat taken away being that he is playing in a small left field at Fenway.

Look, I'm not trying to upset anyone at all, I'm not trying to rip on Theo, I think he is a great GM, but he sometimes makes me wonder whether his brain is screwed on right when it comes to players contracts. I am sorry if I offended anyone.

(Statistics in courtesy of: fangraphs.comyardbarker.com)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Manny Retires; leaves the Rays in a weird situation

By Mike Moritz

If you have not heard yet, Manny Ramirez retired last night and the "Manny-Being-Manny" era has ended. Manny was, for a second time, caught for steroids and instead of facing the suspension, he decided to hang it up.A lot of people are saying that Hall of Fame voters are not going to vote Manny into the Hall and I agree that they won't, at least on the first ballot. Personally, I would vote him in on the first ballot. Let's just think about what he did before he took steroids, assuming he did not take them before his split season with Boston and Los Angeles. But I think we all know enough about his great career, don't we? The real question is "in what situation are the Rays in, especially after Manny's retirement?"

Given that we are just seven games into the season, it is a very, very small sample size. But the Rays are still 1-6, yet so are the Red Sox. But I am not worried about the Sox, they have a very good team who I still think will win 96+ games. The Rays are the team that I am worried about. They were already on the outside looking in when the season started, mainly because of all the lost talent from this past offseason and a slow start to a season with the Orioles and Blue Jays being potential contenders and a revamped Red Sox club is the last thing that they were looking for.

With Even Longoria out until May with an oblique injury, the Rays are really looking for some offense. For this post, let's disregard their 9-run out burst from Friday because it was followed up by a two run performance, so we can't really say that the offence has come together. Manny was projected to be the second best hitter on the Rays:

Marcel: .283/.385/.478, 15 homers
Bill James: .286/.394/.479, 20 homers
ZIPS: .259/.369/.459, 17 homers

ZIPS is the projection system that seems a little different from the others, but that is not the point. The point is that Manny was the second best projected hitter. Now he is retired and their best hitter is out for another three weeks. Considering that the Rays are off to a sloppy 1-7 start, maybe it's time to switch their approach.

Perhaps the front office should consider speeding up the time tables for players such as James Shields, Jeff Neimann, B.J. Upton, Felipe Lopez and Johnny Damon. If GM Andrew Friedman and his minions decide to go ahead and pull themselves out the race right now, it would not seem like a totally dumb move.

Tampa Bay has 12 of the first 89 picks in the upcoming draft and an already stacked farm system with Jeremy Hellickson (whose already in the majors), Chris Archer, Matt More, Desmond Jennings, Josh Sale, Alex Torres and, for Christ's sake, the list goes on and on. As Fangraphs noted, Even Longoria has the best team contract in baseball, making $42 million over the next six years, and he is making $2 million this year. Just to put that into perspective, Longoria in 2010 made $950,000 and posted a 6.9 WAR. The average market value for 1 win in the major leagues is $5 million. So Longoria should have made around $25 million, or more specifically, $27.7 million. And the whole Rays' rotation is homegrown, so it should be cheap for years to come.

I trust the Ray's incredibly, amazingly smart front office to know what to do. Either route seems like a decent, to go for the playoffs or to build up even more on the farm system. But now that Manny is gone, Longo is injured, a struggling offense, the team off to a 1-8 start, it might be time to switch the approach on the season. However, the Red Sox are off to a comparable (but definitely not the same) start to the season but they have a lot of on-paper talent so I am not at all worried about them. I'm worried about the Rays, again, because they were already on the outside looking in at the start of the season.

(Statistics in courtesy of: fangraphs.com)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Projections for the 2011 Season (National League)

By Mike Moritz

All I can do is hope that my American League Projections are somewhat accurate. And if they're not, well then all I can do is hope that my National League Projections are accurate:

National League East:
  1. Philadelphia Phillies (96-66)
  2. Atlanta Braves (94-68) *Wild Card Winners*
  3. Florida Marlins (84-78)
  4. New York Mets (81-81)
  5. Washington Nationals (77-85)
Just like their counter part (the AL East), the NL East is a very competitive division as well. Some of you might think I'm stupid because I'm writing the Phillies to win under 100 games. They have what is easily considered one of the best assembled pitching rotations of all-time. The bullpen is nothing special and with Brad Lidge out until the second half of the season, it could be a little shaky, but not bad. The offense is a concern though. Domonic Brown and Chase Utley are both out for extended periods of time and they lost Jayson Werth. Although Ben Francisco is more than capable of filling for Brown in right, it might not be enough. Jimmy Rollins is clearly hitting his decline. Just not sure if I am crazy about this year's team from Philadelphia.

The Braves are up-and-coming. They have plenty of young pitching and a great offense especially with the trade to bring in Dan Uggla over the off-season. I do not foresee any problems with new manager Fredi Gonzalez.

National League Central:

  1. Milwaukee Brewers (92-70)
  2. Cincinnati Reds (90-72)
  3. St. Louis Cardinals (85-77)
  4. Chicago Cubs (83-79)
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates (76-87)
  6. Houston Astros (68-94)
So no, I do not see the Reds making the play offs this year. Don't get me wrong, they are a very good team, but I don't see the pitching being as good as it was last year. They had two pitchers over a 2 WAR on their whole staff last year. It looked like Bronson Arroyo and Travis Wood got helped out by some pretty low BABIPs: .239 and .259, repectively. Even Johnny Cueto got a little lucky: his HR/FB rate was 8.6% compared to his 11.2% career mark. My point is that the offense is more then good enough (it's great, actually), being led by Joey Votto, Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce, but the pitching just isn't deep enough.

The Brewers, on the other hand, have more than enough pitching, esspecially with Zack Greinke (who is curently on the DL) along with Yovani Gallardo, Shawn Marcum and Randy Wolf. It seems as though the Brewers are going all in this year and I would not be surprised if they add another bat before the deadline.

National League West:
  1. San Francisco Giants (93-69)
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers (88-74)
  3. Colorado Rockies (86-76)
  4. San Diego Padres (78-84)
  5. Arizona Diamondbacks (76-86)
I do not think that this division is much of a "hard division to project". The Giants are my favorite, mainly because they have an amazing pitcing staff and a good offense. The defense is most definitely not good enough to bring them another ring this year. The Rockies and especially Dodgers could give the Giants a run for their money.

The Dodgers though, have a very nice nucleus of young players to build a team around, perhaps one of the best in the bigs. They failed to live up to expectations last year mainly from a horrid year from Matt Kemp, both on offense and defense and a down year from James Loney and an almost washed-up Casey Blake. This should be looking a little brighter for them, but I do not see a play off berth.

(Stats in courtesy of: fangraphs.com)

Monday, April 4, 2011

My projections for the 2011 season (American League)

By Mike Moritz

My favorite team, the Yankees. But whose to say that they will win it all in 2011?
I know that this is a few days late but better late than never. Theses are my projections for the 2011 end-of-season standing projections for the American League, I hope that all of you find them decent. My National League projections will be up soon, I hope:

American League East:
  1. Boston Red Sox (101-61)
  2. New York Yankees (96-66) *AL Wild Card Winners*
  3. Tampa Bay Rays (87-75)
  4. Baltimore Orioles (81-81)
  5. Toronto Blue Jays (79-83)

This is definitely the most competitive division and I thought I might want to get it over with it. I am a huge Yankee fan but I am not biased, by no means at all. The Red Sox got bitten by the injury bug big time last year and yet, they still won 89 games. Most notably, they lost about 3 WAR from both Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia each and maybe another 2 or 3 from Jacoby Ellsbury and probably a few more from an injured and ugly Josh Beckett. Then they lost Adrian Beltre and his 7.1 WAR and Victor Martinez's 4.0 WAR. But then they come out and get Carl Crawford AND trade for Adrian Gonzalez.

The Rays got there whole bullpen striped over the offseason and they also lost Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford, obviously to the Red Sox. People are really overreacting to this situation, but why is there a need to? Sure, they lost A LOT of talent, but they are by no stretch of the imagination, a bad team. In fact, I still think that they are a good team. I love Joe Maddon as manager and I'm still convinced that Even Longoria will break out this year (read my post here and I'll tell you why) despite his recent oblique troubles. Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez were both brought, two players that are for sure still productive, despite Damon's small calf tightness. The defense is still good. 

The Yanks have just an "eh" starting rotation, and they won't win the World Series but the offense is still great and the bullpen is one of the best in the bigs. I had a post a while ago about why I thought Alex Rodriguez was 'done' though I actually think he is going to bounce back this year. New projection for A-Rod: .285/.370/.550, .390 wOBA, 40 homers. Pretty ballsy projection for a 35-year-old, but I'll go with it.

The Orioles have obviously made a splash to upgrade their team and the Blue Jays are about the same. Boring, I know.

American League Central:

  1. Chicago White Sox (91-71)
  2. Minnesota Twins (90-72)
  3. Detroit Tigers (86-76)
  4. Kansas City Royals (73-89)
  5. Cleavland Indians (70-92)
The Chicago White Sox brought in Adam Dunn to give them some more pop from the left side. Great signing, at least in my opinion, though they could have gotten him for a little less money. Moving into a great home run ball park in U.S. Cellular, Dunn should see a little more home runs, scary, I know. National's Stadium has also been known to increase BABIPs, so we should Dunn's average dip back down to his normal .240 range from before his stint with the Nationals.

The combination between the White Sox getting Dunn and the Twins bullpen getting striped should put Chicago over the Twins. But never count out the Twinkies. They have Justin Morneau healthy (we'll see how long that lasts) and due to some regression back to the mean, Jason Kubel should bounce his batting average back to his career mark, .271. We should also note that the Nick Blackburn will probably falter and that Kevin Slowey should be getting his spot back in the rotation, not that he should have ever lost it to Blackburn in the first place.

The Tigers are my Dark Horse American League team. Ryan Rayburn is finally getting a starting job, and add Victor Martinez into the mix as the DH and Alex Avila catching (more for his offense) who, yes, has some strides to make, but can be a nice bat to have at the plate.

American League West:
  1. Texas Rangers (88-74)
  2. Oakland Athletics (84-78)
  3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (79-83)
  4. Seattle Mariners (73-89)
Obviously, a lot of people thought that the Mariners were going to win the AL West, but they went on to win a mere 61 games. O well. 

I am not at all convinced that the Texas Rangers have enough pitching for the season. Then again, Hamilton, Kinsler and Cruz are all healthy (but like Morneau, we'll see how long that lasts). They brought in Adrian Beltre which will give them another solid bat and amazing glove. Do not expect anything close to the same batting average this year, he was helped by a high BABIP and for what ever reason, a very slight increase in contact% which led to a very slight decrease in strike outs. But he will still put up about a 3 or 4 WAR season, but not another 7.1 mark. 

I was so excited about the Athletics coming into this season but that has died down a little bit since then. But nonetheless, I am still excited about them. The pitching staff is Top 3 in baseball and the bullpen is staked and was added on by Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes, so I wouldn't even sweat it that Andrew Baily is missing time with an elbow injury. They added three nice bats with David Dejesus, Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui. Coco Crisp is healthy again and Kurt Suzuki should have a nice little bounce back year (his power should be the same but his average should creep back into the .260 range as he was hampered by a low BABIP). I would not be surprised at all if they come in and take the AL West title from the Rangers. 

(Stats in courtesy of: fangraphs.com)