Author Archives: Mark Smith

Who is Francisco Liriano?

To say that Liriano had an excellent 2010 campaign is an understatement. His 2.66 FIP was 3rd in the majors last season, and he accumulated 6 wins of production. The Twins were conservative with his innings in 2010 in order to keep him healthy, and he responded. His 3.47 K/BB ratio was outstanding as he struck out more than a batter an inning, and his wipe-out slider was back (his slider was worth 19 runs last season—jeeeeebuuus). What made him even more special was a 1.96 GB/FB rate. Usually, big strikeout guys get a lot of fly balls—they have big fastballs that they like to blow past hitters up in the zone—but Liriano was able to keep the ball on the ground. If you keep the ball on the ground, it won’t go out of the park or get in many gaps, which will keep the opponents run scored down. Essentially what I’m telling you is that Liriano is the perfect pitcher … well, just approaching the ideal (he could stand to walk fewer hitters).…

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A Solution for the 5th Spot in the Rotation

The innings aspect is the biggest challenge to all of this. As I said above, I’d rather not hand the job to Noesi. He seems like an emergency starter at best, and I’d rather keep it that way. So we have Brackman, Betances, and Banuelos left for the last spot in the rotation because I refuse to believe Garcia, Colon, or Mitre deserve any time on a major-league roster, and at the very least, no one should expect them to be good enough or healthy enough to contribute. But those innings limits are troublesome, and I imagine that’s a big reason why Cashman took a slight chance on the other three journeymen.

This is why the innings limit is a problem. Say Brackman gets the job, and he’s limited to 175 innings. If he should start 30 games (he’d probably get skipped a couple times), he would average about 5.2 innings a start, and that wouldn’t seem so bad except for one thing—the playoffs.…

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R-E-R-E-B-R-E-B-O-U-N-D: Rebound for Tex and A-Rod?

Rodriguez’s situation isn’t quite as promising, and that’s mainly due to his age. Entering his age-36 season, Rodriguez has a bad hip and 16 full seasons under his belt, but even with that bad news, Rodriguez is still one of the game’s best players when he steps on the field. Last season was his worst full season, but he was still worth 4 wins. A .278 BABiP was also his worst, and that could be a sign of the end if his xBABiP was not .319. Rodriguez, however, saw a severe dip in his LD% to 13.8 (career 17.8%), and his xBABiP was brought back up due to a similar increase in groundballs, which find holes more than flyballs do. His HR/FB% also fell, to 17.1% (career 23.1%), and the signs seem to point toward losing bat speed. Augmenting that belief, Rodriguez’s damage done to fastballs dropped to a 2002-2010 low 17.2 wFB (runs produced when hitting a fastball), which is quite a bit lower than his average 31.3 runs.…

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The AL East Is Just Ridiculous

Mike Napoli was worth almost 3 wins in each of the past three seasons, and if he could get 130+ games at catcher in Toronto (LAA notoriously kept him out of the lineup in favor of Jeff Mathis), he could easily be worth 4. If the Blue Jays move him to first, his All-Star bat becomes below-average while also being bad defensively, and while his defense behind the plate isn’t good, his bat is so much more valuable relative to the others at his position that it doesn’t even get close to mattering. Juan Rivera isn’t much, but he should give the Blue Jays 1.5-2 wins next season. If he sees his offense jump while moving to the Rogers Centre, he could be trade bait by July. Actually, both players are likely to be trade bait, and even if they fail, the Blue Jays saved $6-7 million dollars for the opportunity. Hell, with the money saved, could they be in on Albert Pujols?…

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A “Paugh”-city of Knowledge: Roger Peckinpaugh

For the next eight-plus seasons, Peckinpaugh would play his best baseball as the shortstop for the New York Yankees. Though his first few seasons with the stick were less than stellar, Peckinpaugh made an instant impression with his defense and, especially, with his leadership. As a 23-year old on a bad team, “Peck” was named the team captain, and when manager Frank Chance resigned late in 1914, Peck became the youngest manager in baseball history, a record that still stands. He would not remain the manager, but his reputation as a clubhouse leader was cemented.

Peckinpaugh began improving at the plate the following season, and he became an excellent all-around player from 1916-1921 with 5 seasons of 3.5+ bWAR, including 6.1 in 1919 (a league-high). The Yankees would not make the playoffs until the end of this run in 1921, but Peckinpaugh didn’t hit (.194 average) or field (crucial error in the clinching game) well. No one blamed Peckinpaugh for the World Series loss to the cross-town Giants.…

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Poor Kevin Brown

Brown’s 3.28 career ERA bests Fergie Jenkins, Lefty Gomez, and Phil Niekro, but ERAs in the 90s and 2000s are inflated. Adjusting for his era in order to really compare against other pitchers, Brown’s 127 ERA+ puts him above Jim Palmer, John Smoltz (and his relief innings), Bob Feller, Warren Spahn, Carlton, Niekro, Jim Bunning, Nolan Ryan, and Sutton.

Would you prefer strikeout to walk ratio? His 2.66 ratio was better than Tom Seaver, Vance, Gibson, Carlton, Hunter, Ryan, Spahn, Morris, Palmer, and Glavine. Brown’s 6.6 K/9 ratio bested Drysdale, Morris, Dean, Glavine, and Palmer.

Did he pitch enough innings, though? 3,256 may not seem like a lot (96th all-time), but it’s more than Whitey Ford, Vance, and Andy Pettitte, though this is obviously where Brown’s case really hits its harshest and most pertinent barrier. But is longevity a talent? It’s essentially based on injuries, and 4 of Brown’s last 5 seasons were harmed by injuries. I don’t suggest giving him credit for the time he missed because it’s unknown how he would have done.…

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Congratulations to Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven, the Newest Hall of Fame Inductees!

  • Larkin moved up to 62.1%, which bodes well for him especially considering a weak ballot next year.
  • Bagwell had almost 42% of the vote. It’ll take a while, but I think he’ll get in.
  • Tim Raines made a nice jump to 37.5%, but he faces a long road, though he, Larkin, and Morris may find some help next year.
  • Larry Walker got 20.3% of vote, which was pleasantly surprising. Lots of debates need to happen for him.
  • Mark McGwire received 3 fewer votes than Walker, and his candidacy continues to dwindle.
  • Rafael Palmeiro received 11% and faces an uphill battle.
  • Kevin Brown received only 2.1% of the vote and is off the ballot. I think it’s a shame, and we needed more discussion on him.
  • Tino Martinez got 6 votes, which ain’t bad.
  • BJ Surhoff received 2 votes and Benito Santiago and Bret Boone received 1 each, which have to have been sympathy votes.
  • Carlos Baerga, Lenny Harris, Bobby Higginson, Charles Johnson, Raul Mondesi, and Kirk Reuter received none.

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