The primary reason to pull for Minnesota is that New York’s offense should be in for a productive series if they can face the Twins staff. Minnesota had a relatively pedestrian pitching staff this year, with the exception of fireman Joe Nathan. The starting rotation is comprised mainly of pitch to contact right handers, a feature that plays right into the hands of the patient, power hitting offense of New York. Lefty Brian Deunsing picked up some starts for Minnesota down the stretch, but I would expect to see him out of the bullpen this series, particularly because all of the off-days mean only three starters are required. Look for Ron Gardenhire to turn to Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker, and the American Idle himself, Carl Pavano to start games. Though the Yankees as a team did not have a huge platoon split, Johnny Damon and Jorge Posada hit better against righties than lefties. Damon in particular enjoyed having a right hander on the mound.… Click here to read the rest
June 28, 2009–9th inning versus the Mets
Having come out of the bullpen to get the last out of the 8th inning, Mo sat with a bat in his hands in the dugout in the 9th inning of a one run game with two outs, men on 2nd and 3rd, and Derek Jeter at the plate. Francisco Cervelli was sent out to bluff (unsuccesfully, given Derek Jeter’s terrible poker face), but everyone in the park knew fullwell that Girardi wasn’t going to pinch hit for his star closer. Five pitches later (including one called strike that Derek Jeter really ought to have swung at) the bases were loaded, and Rivera marched to the plate with express orders to not swing against the Mets’ relief ace, Francisco Rodriguez.
K-Rod missed wide with the first two pitches, the first of which was actually a slider (he stuck with the fastball for the rest of the at bat). After evening it up to 2-2, he threw what should have been the 3rd strike (had Mo listened to his manager), but instead ended up fouled off after Mo channeled his inner Gary Sheffield (dude doesn’t get cheated when he swings).… Click here to read the rest
Team FIP: 4.38. 17th in MLB, 7th in the AL.
David Price has been a slightly below average pitcher during his first full year in the show. His FIP is a pedestrian 4.67, and he still is having troubles with walks. Neither his strike outs totals nor his ground ball rate have been where he’d like them to be, and consequently, he has rarely looked like a dominating pitcher. He had an eleven strike out game against Minnesota, but that was back in May, and he hasn’t topped seven in a single game since. He still has ace potential, so I can’t imagine the Rays will risk anything happening to his arm in this one. I’d expect him to be a low pitch count today, and would guess six innings would be an optimistic expectation.
Jeff Niemann makes his final pitch for the Rookie of the Year Award Saturday. If he’s to have any chance, he better keep his ERA under four, as the media will be much more receptive of a 3.99 mark than a 4.01 figure.… Click here to read the rest
wFB/C shows how many runs above average Hughes creates per 100 fastballs thrown. wCT/C is for the cutter, CB is the curveball and CH is the Changeup. The numbers there speak for themselves. On the next chart, the FB% is what percent fastballs he’s throwing, and FBv is the average velocity on fastballs. As you can see, the speed on his pitches has ticked up across the board, and he’s throwing more fastballs (which makes sense given he never has to get through the lineup twice).
Let’s take a look at the differences between his fastball as a starter and a reliever. While I’m currently putting in significant work on creating a more complete pitchFX database, with which I’ll be able to do much more complete analysis of this sort, at this moment I’ll use data from Hughes’ September 22 relief appearance, and his start against Texas on May 25th.… Click here to read the rest
I’ve said it elsewhere, but it bears repeating. The team that wins the world series is not always the best team in baseball. In fact, it very rarely is. As shown in that amazing graphic, the team with the best record in baseball has won the world championship just twice since the introduction of the wild card–the 1998 Yankees and the 2007 Red Sox. You have to be good to get to the rodeo, but you have to be some combination of good and lucky to win it. The Yankees teams of the 40s and 50s? They had a full season to punch their ticket to the world series, whereas now teams have to both get to the playoffs, and then win two individual series.
To make this clearer, note that the best teams in baseball win about 60% of the time, and the worst teams win about 40%. If you model that out, it comes out that the best team in baseball will win a best of five series against the worst team in baseball 68% of the time.… Click here to read the rest
Team wOBA: .318. 24th in MLB, 13th in the AL.
Aside from being pretty bad, the Royals aren’t particularly interesting offensively. They feature a collection of decent batting averages, low OBP’s, and little power. Billy Butler looks like he will develop into a pretty good hitter. He’s only twenty-three years old, and he is second in the league in doubles with an even fifty. He’s also popped twenty-one home runs. There is a lot of reason for Royal fans to expect a further breakout next year. Beyond Butler, catcher Miguel Olivo has somehow hit twenty-three homers and only fourteen doubles, while walking seventeen times. Unusual to say the least. Alberto Callaspo provides good pop for a second basemen, with a .351 wOBA. David Dejesus is about a league average hitter with a .334 mark.
Team UZR: -40.1. 28th in MLB, 13th in the AL.
Dejesus is having a good year defensively in left. He’s posted a UZR/150 of 16.4, far and away the highest figure on the team.… Click here to read the rest
Team wOBA: 352. 2nd in MLB and the AL.
The Red Sox feature a line-up even better than the one run out by Los Angeles. Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay have been among the best hitters in the league, with wOBA’s of .410 and .400 respectively. The depth of their lineup is staggering: Beyond those two, every regular in the lineup with the exception of Alex Gonzalez has a wOBA over .330. Bay leads the team in home runs with thirty-six. David Ortiz is second with ten fewer than Bay. Ortiz had a real tough start to the season, but his power numbers have rebounded as the season has progressed; his slugging percentage has been at least .495 every month since May. Bay, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury are the only threats to run. Ellsbury leads the league with sixty-six swipes, and he’s been thrown out just ten times. Pitch from the stretch this time Andy.
Team UZR: -12.1.… Click here to read the rest
Team wOBA: .346. 3rd in MLB, 3rd in the AL.
The Angels lineup is one of the best in baseball. They can really do it all, and will present match-up problems with several switch hitters and no real ‘outs’ at the back end of the order (unless they insist on giving Gary Mathews at-bats.) They lead the majors in batting average, and at one point in August, every regular was hitting above .300. In addition to that, the Angels are second in all of baseball in steals. Chone Figgins leads the team with fourty-two, but they’re getting healthy contributions from Bobby Abreu (twenty-nine,) Torii Hunter (seventeen,) and Erick Aybar (fourteen.) LA can also play longball. Kendry Morales has done a fantastic job of replacing Mark Teixeira, and he leads the team with thirty homers. Torii Hunter and Juan Rivera also have more than twenty, with Mike Napoli and Vladimir Guerrero not far behind. Abreu and Figgins are tied for the team lead in OBP at .394.… Click here to read the rest