How Legitimate Is Mark Teixeira’s MVP Candidacy?

Teix HR vs BAL

Courtesy of Getty Images

Mark Teixeira didn’t hit a home run last night.  That’s mainly because the Yankees didn’t play, but with as hot as he’s been lately I kind of expected him to still hit at least one out last night.  Teix has literally been on fire lately, hitting .378/.472/.889 with 5 doubles, 6 home runs, 10 runs, 11 RBI, and a 13.2% BB rate over the last 2 weeks.  He had back-to-back 2-homer games last Thursday and Friday, he even mixed a stolen base in for S’s and G’s, and he’s continued to play solid defense at first base to help save his occasionally wild-throwing infield.

This hot streak has been an extension of what has already been a tremendous comeback season for Teix.  After missing almost all of the 2013 season and playing most of last year as a watered down version of himself, the whispers that Teix was done heading into his age 35 season got louder.  …

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Nathan Eovolving

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Yankees

There was a time earlier in this season when a Nathan Eovaldi start would bring a certain level of dread. We all saw his numbers with the Miami Marlins and his early results with the Yankees were not all that different. Here we are in July and at least the palms don’t get a bit sweaty until the fifth inning. That is progress. And if you look closely at the numbers, Eovaldi is evolving and there is the hope that the Yankees have themselves a pitcher here.

The big thing going for Eovaldi is that despite the lack of success his “stuff” produced, the “stuff” was there and he is only 25-years-old. Like the old line in the Alladin movie, “He can be taught!” The result of that teaching is starting to pay off.

In Eovaldi’s last six starts, he has pitched 33.1 innings and has allowed 30 hits. That is fairly significant an evolution as the one hallmark of Eovaldi’s entire career is giving up a bunch of hits.…

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Sandy Koufax is Criminally Overrated

Last night, MLB announced the result of its effort to name the best four living baseball players. They came up with: Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench and Sandy Koufax.

Koufax may be the most overrated player in baseball history. He began his career with 5 forgettable seasons from a young player trying to find his game. Then, from 1962 to 1966, he was the best pitcher in baseball. He led the league in ERA each year, and posted the following bWAR:

  • 1962: 4.4 bWAR
  • 1963: 10.7 bWAR
  • 1964: 7.4 bWAR
  • 1965: 8.1 bWAR,
  • 1966: 10.3 bWAR

He then retired due to an arm injury at the age of 30.

Sandy Koufax is the ultimate “peak value” Hall of Fame player. Or at least, he is the most-cited example of a peak value HOFer. In reality, his peak was excellent, but not unique. Let’s look at some of the best seasons from other players with a claim to being one of the best living pitchers:

Randy Johnson:

  • 2002: 10.9 bWAR
  • 2001: 10.0 bWAR
  • 1999: 9.2 bWAR
  • 1995: 8.6 bWAR
  • 2004: 8.5 bWAR

Pedro Martinez:

  • 2000: 11.7 bWAR
  • 1999: 9.7 bWAR
  • 1997: 9.0 bWAR
  • 2003: 8.0 bWAR
  • 1998: 7.2 bWAR

Greg Maddux:

  • 1995: 9.7 bWAR
  • 1992: 9.2 bWAR
  • 1994: 8.5 bWAR
  • 1997: 7.8 bWAR
  • 1996: 7.1 bWAR

Roger Clemens:

  • 1997: 11.9 bWAR
  • 1990: 10.6 bWAR
  • 1987: 9.4 bWAR
  • 1986: 8.9 bWAR
  • 1992: 8.8 bWAR

All of these guys had comparable peaks to Sandy Koufax.…

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Projecting Chase Headley in the Second Half

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During the Yankees’ off season (after the 2014 season), I did not want the Yankees to get all crazy signing free agents. But the one signing I coveted was Chase Headley. And then time seemed to drag on until December and the Yankees reeled him in at a fairly modest three-year deal. I was very excited. After a very successful Spring Training, I even picked him for my fantasy team. Flash forward to the All Star Break and Chase Headley has been worth -2.9 runs at the plate and -1 run in the field. What the heck happened to Chase Headley!? And what will he offer in the second half?

The reason for being excited about the December signing was that he was solid at the plate in his late stint with the Yankees in 2014 and was spectacular in the field. Headley’s play at third has been disappointing to say the least in 2015 and his offense at the plate is very reminiscent to what he was like for the Padres in 2014 before the trade.…

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I’ll Take Half a Loaf: If Beltran Must Play, Bench Him for Fly/Liner-Prone Yankee Pitchers?

Beltran-A-Rod vs BOS

Hey look! Two DHs. Courtesy of Getty Images

In a sense, Carlos Beltran’s awful season is Alex Rodriguez’s fault. Over the past three years – really, about two years of playing time due to injuries – Beltran has +3.9 oWAR and -4.2 dWAR. That’s league-average hitting and the worst outfielding since Raul Ibanez, who’s a not bad comp: both still hit at a similarly advanced age but suffered a Sampson-like loss of all defensive ability when they lost their hair prematurely. What you naturally do with Beltran’s skill set is DH him – except that spot is justifiably taken by A-Rod, who’s a better hitter, older, and even less able to play the field because his (former) position is more demanding.

If he must RF rather than DH, Beltran likely deserves the bench. He’s sub-replacement level, and sinking: -0.2 WAR in 2014; -0.5 WAR in just half of 2015, a roughly -1 WAR/yr pace. Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams, if they ever walk again, are so vastly superior defensively that even with a poor bat they can reach replacement level — enough to exceed Beltran); until then, Ramon Flores’s .800 OPS in AAA makes it hard to see him running a -1 WAR/yr pace like Beltran’s.…

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Top Five Yankees Storylines of the First Half

The New York Yankees have reached the all-star break with a 48-40 record and a 3.5 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East. They had some crazy highs and lows, but the Yankees finished strongly before the break, winning six of their final nine games.

The Yankees have outperformed most expectations and sit in a very good spot. Fangraphs currently gives them a 76.6 percent chance of making the postseason, which is the second highest mark in the AL. Also, Fangraphs has them with a 60 percent chance of winning the division and projects them to win it by a comfortable six games. The even better news is that there is no dominant team in the American League. Here are the some of the biggest stories of the first half so far for the Yankees:

1. Alex Rodriguez’ Comeback Season

I tweeted this yesterday, but if Alex Rodriguez doesn’t win AL Comeback Player of the Year the award should be retired.…

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Pace Made In New York City

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Before the 2015 season started, Major League Baseball made a major push to speed up the game. MLB did not go as drastic as some wanted and more so than some (read David Ortiz) liked. A half a season has gone by and most of the reports about the pace of the game were from early April. Let’s take a look at what a half season has brought.

The emphasis placed on pace of the game has made a difference. The average game this season across the board is 2:57. That is a full ten minutes shorter per game than last year and the first time the average game has been under three hours since 2011.

Last year set a record for slowness. Baseball started keeping track of game times permanently in 1920. The average game back then was 1:51. Imagine how much earlier you would get to bed on those game recaps!

In 2014, every team in baseball except for the Seattle Mariners averaged over three hours per game.…

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Quick Hit: Dem Road Hittin’ Blues

As cold as they’ve been in the last week or so, it’s been difficult to criticize the Yankee offense this season.  They remain firmly entrenched in the top 5 in MLB in home runs (103), runs scored (365), team slugging percentage (.427) and team wRC+ (107).  Over the full 78-game sample size, the offense has been the most consistent part of this year’s team.

But if there is a legitimate gripe to have with the O, it’s the ever-widening gap between the team’s home/road splits.  That’s been on full display during this road trip, with the Yankees managing a total of 3 runs in their last 3 games.  As of this morning, the Yankees have a .282/.350/.496 team tripleslash at home, good for an MLB best 130 wRC+.  On the road, however, they’re hitting just .233/.300/.369, a slash line that ranks them 19th in baseball with an 87 wRC+.  To put it into a different perspective, the Yankees are basically Jose Abreu at home and Michael Cuddyer on the road.…

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The Disaster Factor: Nathan Eovaldi

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Things could have gone better for Nathan Eovaldi last night. 11 batters, nine hits, eight runs. His ERA rose from 4.13 to 5.12 on the year. How worried should we be?

Turning to Eovaldi’s last couple of starts, one might not think things are terribly concerning. In his previous four starts, he gave up 8 ER over 24 innings. However, he was lucky the damage wasn’t more severe.

Over those four outings previous to Miami, Eovaldi had some incredibly fortunate strand rates, and with the exception of his 4.2-inning performance, hitters were getting unlucky at the plate with their BABIP.

Game IP ER H BB LOB% BABIP
vs WSH 6/10 7.0 3 8 1 79.0% .292
vs LAA 6/05 (W) 5.1 1 4 4 87.5% .235
@ OAK 5/30 4.2 3 11 0 72.7% .500
vs KC 5/25 (W) 7.0 1 8 1 90.0% .333

The luck he’s had with stranding runners isn’t anything new – his mark for the entire season is 73%.…

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