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November 16, 2012 - How Good Is Mike Trout?
This summer, we had all been assuming Mike Trout was having one of the all time great rookie seasons. Turns out that this is like saying Hurricane Katrina was one of the all time great rainstorms. The dialogue then shifted to whether Trout was the Most Valuable Player in the American League. That is like examining whether Sandy was the most devastating Atlantic hurricane of 2012.
October 5, 2012 - ALDS Preview: Tigers vs. A's
Everyone thought the Detroit Tigers would coast into the postseason, but they wound up squeaking in tied for the fewest wins of any postseason team. No one gave the Oakland A's a prayer at postseason play, but they swept the World Series favorite Texas Rangers to end the season, winning the most difficult division in baseball.
July 23, 2012 - Top 15 Not in Cooperstown
Ron Santo and Barry Larkin have now officially joined Cooperstown's hallowed ranks. Larkin's induction speech spent a lot of time discussing Pete Rose, who managed the spectacular shortstop in his rookie season, without openly lobbying for his inclusion in the Hall of Fame. While Rose, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Greg Maddux, and Alex Rodriguez all rank among the greatest players who have not been enshrined, none of them are currently eligible for admission. So, then, who are the top eligible players who have not gotten the call to Cooperstown?
March 27, 2012 - Seattle Mariners Preview: Go East - Life Is Peaceful There -
The Seattle Mariners have been horrid the past two years, but their future appeared promising with Felix Hernandez, Michael Pineda, Mike Carp, Dustin Ackley, and Justin Smoak comprising some of the League's best 25-and-under talent. Then one day this winter, the Mariners woke up and found themselves in the AL East, panicked, and traded Pineda for an over-hyped Yankees prospect. Or so it seemed...
March 4, 2012 - Splitsville: Ruth vs. Relievers -
A reader's email regarding
article comparing Babe Ruth to Ted Williams prompted more nostalgia: a trip
to Splitsville. Get the details on how the evolution of relief pitching may have affected the greatest hitters of all time.
February 29, 2012 - Chicago White Sox Preview: We're All Out -
The Chicago White Sox are a 79-win team that has lost its leadoff hitter, ace, closer, and second-best slugger. Their biggest offseason acquisition was Kosuke Fukudome. They have the worst farm system in all of baseball and a major league payroll - replete with unmovable contracts - that exceeds their revenue. It's a really bad time to be a Sox fan, and when the going gets tough, Sox fans get going.
February 20, 2012 - Kansas City Royals Preview: Forward to the Past -
For the past year or so, major news outlets have jumped on the Kansas City Royals' 2013 bandwagon. That is, they've put out articles pontificating how the Royals will win the 2013 World Series due to their well-stocked farm system. Are these assertions valid, or are the Royals doomed to continue their 20-plus year stretch of being a second-division team?
February 4, 2012 - Cleveland Indians Preview: Counting Coup -
The Cleveland Indians went 32-20 in the first two months of 2011, then a mere
48-62 the rest of the way. The resulting 80 victories actually outperformed
their Pythagorean expectation by five wins. A 38-year old pitcher who led
the NL in losses and posted an ERA over 5.00 represents their most notable offseason
acquisition. So why are these Indians a great darkhorse pick to win the AL
January 27, 2012 - Detroit Tigers Preview: The Prince and The Paupers -
With the Detroit Tigers spending $214 million to bring Prince Fielder into
their lineup, the divide between the haves and the have-nots in the American
League Central becomes even more clear. But the signing, ostensibly a
response to losing Victor Martinez for the season to a knee injury, will have
disastrous repercussions for the future of the Detroit franchise.
In 2011, the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, and Minnesota Twins each had
payrolls over $100 million while the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals
were south of $50 million on their ledgers. After disappointing 2011
campaigns, the Sox and Twins have slashed payroll, leaving the Tigers alone as the big spenders in the division.
2011: The Year of the Comeback
Jacoby Ellsbury and Lance Berkman were both very deserving of the Comeback Player of the Year Awards they received last week, but they had more competition than you may realize. The 2011 season saw the largest field of Comeback Award-worthy players in recent memory, led by NL MVP favorite Matt Kemp.
2011 NLDS Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers won their first division title in 29 years. The Arizona Diamondbacks had a .424 winning percentage in their last 465 games before winning a division title this season. Clearly, this is a matchup of two of the more unlikely division champs in the annals of baseball.
Both teams have a good balance of offense versus defense. Both teams have been incredibly good in one-run games. Both teams benefit greatly from having their fifth starter made irrelevant by a five-game series. Both teams have a dominant back-end of their bullpen. Neither team has a wealth of postseason experience. So who the heck comes out on top?
2011 ALDS Preview: Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees
Two months ago, the Detroit Tigers were a running joke. At six games over .500, the Tigers figured to get beaten down in the postseason should they hang on to win the AL Central. After going 38-16 in the final two months of the season, Detroit has become the chic pick to represent the American League in the World Series.
Somewhere along the way, it's been lost that the New York Yankees have averaged over 98 wins per season over the past three years and don't get the chance to beat up on weak AL Central teams the way that the Tigers do. The Yankees need to be considered the favorites to win the American League Championship, not the Tigers.
2011 ALDS Preview: Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays
This time last season, the Tampa Bay Rays were the best team in the American League and hosted an upstart Texas Rangers ballclub that only made the playoffs by virtue of playing in baseball's second-weakest division. Keith predicted the Rays to sweep, but the Rangers took the series in five games.
This year, it is the Rays who only make the postseason thanks to an historic Red Sox collapse and a Yankees team that had nothing to play for in the final game of the season. Does the underdog win again, or does Texas just have Tampa's number?
February 21, 2011 - Cubs/Orioles Preview - Mirror, mirror...
The Baltimore Orioles were 32-73 (.305) before Buck Showalter took over as manager and finished the 2010 season 34-23 (.596). The Chicago Cubs were 51-74 (.408) before Mike Quade took over as manager and finished the season 24-13 (.649). The Orioles showed a little more improvement, but the Cubs were better overall.
After watching similar 2010 seasons productive winters unfold, the fans of the most popular team in the Beltway region and the fans of the most popular team in Chicagoland should be about as excited as each other about their 2011 prospects, right? Wrong. One team's fan base is far more optimistic about their team's chances in 2011, and it's not the one you'd expect.
February 13, 2011 - LA Angels Preview: All's Wells That Ends Well... -
Like the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim had big plans for the offseason that never went into motion. They watched Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, and Adrian Beltre opt to sign with other clubs, and as you might expect from a team that missed the postseason for the first time in four years and sported a losing record for the first time in seven years, they panicked, trading two serviceable players for the privilege of paying Vernon Wells $86 million dollars.
The shocking part is not that the Angels are overpaying an outfielder; they do that all the time. What's shocking is that they could still be a very dangerous team despite this blunder.
February 10, 2011 - New York Yankees Preview: All Good Things... -
This offseason, the New York Yankees were supposed to reunite Cliff Lee with
C.C. Sabathia and form the best left-handed pitching tandem in baseball.
Not only did they fail to land Lee, but they lacked a Plan B and lost Andy
Pettitte to retirement. The starting rotation behind Sabathia is now as
thin as it has been since the days of Andy Hawkins. Could this be the
beginning of the end for this Yankees dynasty?
February 8, 2011 - Defiende Clemente -
It's been a while since we posted a reader email on the site. What follows
is a recent email on a not-so-recent article:
Top 10 Reasons Why PNC Park Is Superior to Wrigley Field,
something Keith wrote in the summer of 2006. Over the past four-plus
years, that article has generated a decent amount of email, all of it from Cubs
fans coming to the defense of their legendary ballpark. The following
email, however, takes issue with something else in the article, and Keith
offers up a balanced response.
January 29, 2011 - Albert Pujols, Chicago Cub
If the Cardinals do not sign Albert Pujols by February 18, he will become a
free agent at the end of 2011. It's hard to believe that St. Louis would let
him get away. But if they did, where would Pujols land?
only one logical answer to that question, and Cardinals fans won't like it one bit.
January 16, 2011 - The Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins Award -
At the end of April, Alex Gonzalez of the Blue Jays was batting .289 with seven homers and 19 RBI. How could he not win his very own Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins Award, given annually to the player in each league who pulls the biggest Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins and sputters down the stretch after a hot start to the season?
Well, AGotBJ did fail to win an AGotM, but through little fault of his own. A July trade complicated matters, and two utility infielder types epitomized the Gonzalez second-half collapse.
January 6, 2011 - Brown for the Count -
More than anything else, the 2011 Hall of Fame elections reiterated that how you enter the Hall of Fame is irrelevant. What matters is whether or not you do earn enshrinement. Bert Blyleven, who only garnered 14.1% of the vote in 1999, got elected in his 14th year of eligibility. Although Roberto Alomar did not get inducted in his first attempt, the 90% of the vote he elicited in his second go-round was the most of any non-first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the highest marks of all-time.
Clearly, Hall of Fame voting is unpredictable, and just because you don't fare well in a given year doesn't mean you can't subsequently get in. Perhaps the biggest buzz generated by the 2011 elections was the lack of support for steroid-era sluggers Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, and Larry Walker. But what almost no one is talking about is the lack of support for steroid-era pitcher Kevin Brown, who fell off the ballot entirely with just 2.1% of the vote in his first year of eligibility.
January 4, 2011 - The Mark Redman Award -
For those that are new to the Mark Redman Award, it is given annually to the pitcher in each league that most personifies crashing back down to earth after a strong start to the season. Mark Redman retired with a career 5.17 second-half ERA and 6.04 ERA after August. He also had the distinction of going 1-7 with a 7.08 ERA in the second half of 2005, then 5-6 with a 6.14 ERA after being named an All-Star in 2006.
In 2010, Mark Redman may have been out-Redmaned by one American League pitcher.
December 5, 2010 - Is The AL Central a Dunn Deal? - The Chicago White Sox signed Adam Dunn to a four-year, $56 million deal on Thursday, netting the best free agent slugger before the winter meetings even began. The Dunner moves from a neutral stadium to the best ballpark for home runs in the major leagues. It's early, but does the Dunn signing make the Sox the team to beat in the AL Central?
November 23, 2010 - Ranking MLB's Worst Contracts -
With free agency season upon us, some players are going to get awarded long-term contracts that look really bad in a couple of years. Or in the case of Derek Jeter and the Yankees, a long-term contract that looks really bad right now. Fortunately, the Yankees already have a couple of terrible contracts in the books to deflect attention from what is awarded to Jeter.
Here are the ten worst contracts in baseball.
World Series Preview - Rangers vs. Giants - Among four Baseball Evolution prognosticators, only Scott picked the Texas
Rangers to make the postseason and only Richard predicted the San Francisco
Giants would get there. But neither Scott nor Richard had either team
slated for 90 wins nor a World Series appearance. At the end of May, Texas
was two games over .500, San Francisco was three, and both teams appeared to be
the solid-yet-unspectacular teams that most people anticipated. But the
Rangers took steps to improve their pitching, the Giants took steps to improve
their offense, and the result was two teams who were well-rounded enough to
reach the postseason. Only one of them is good enough to be
World Champs, and it's apparently going to take five games to determine which
Giants in Five | Keith:
Rangers in Five
ALCS Preview - Rangers vs. Yankees - In a shocking five game series against the Rays, the Rangers proved that they could beat a superior team on paper, defeat a left-handed Cy Young contender (twice), and win on the road (three times). They may need to do all of those things again in their next challenge, plus one more important task.
They need to prove that they can beat the Yankees.
ALDS Preview - Yankees vs. Twins -
The Minnesota Twins have lost four division series in the past seven years, including nine straight playoff losses and three series losses to the New York Yankees. Those Yankees, however, broke a similar postseason slump last year in a big way, winning a World Series title in their inaugural season at New New Yankee Stadium.
Can the Twins do the same in their first season at Target Field?
ALDS Preview - Rangers vs. Rays -
The Tampa Bay Rays were the best team in baseball's best division, while the Texas Rangers cobbled together 90 wins in baseball's second-weakest division. Most of these Rays players come armed with postseason experience, hungry after losing the 2008 World Series. Most of these Rangers have never played in the postseason, and the franchise hasn't won a postseason series in its 50-year history.
All signs point to this being an easy victory for Tampa, but the Rangers have surprised all year. Can they continue to shock the baseball world by upsetting the Rays?
October 5, 2010 - Homefield Advantage - On the second-to-last day of the season, the Tampa Bay Rays used Andy Sonnanstine for just his fourth start of 2010. In their season finale, the New York Yankees went with Dustin Moseley, who made his ninth start and finished the year with an ERA just under 5.00. Jason Bartlett, Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher are among the healthy Yankees and Rays players held out of starting lineups in the final series of the year. Evan Longoria did not play the entire final week of the season because of a minor quad injury.
You wouldn't know it from the way they went about their business, but these teams were battling for both the AL East crown and for the best record in the American League. The Rays wound up winning both due to their unparalleled depth and inferior opponent in the Royals, but the alarming development is that neither team tried their best to get home field advantage. This is surprising, since home field advantage has never been more important in Major League Baseball.
September 16, 2010 - Traded - The Chicago White Sox acquired Manny Ramirez just before the August 31st
trade deadline this year. In 13 games since, Manny has failed to drive in
a single run and stranded six men on base Tuesday night in the Sox' biggest game
of the season, a must-win series opener against the Minnesota Twins at home.
For this one month of service, the Sox are paying Ramirez about $4 million, or
twice as much as the Twins paid for a full year of Jim Thome.
Interestingly, this dud of a deadline deal comes two years after Manny Ramirez
became one of the biggest-impact deadline acquisitions in MLB history for the
Los Angeles Dodgers.
The recently published Traded by Doug Decatur attempts to quantify the
most lopsided trades in baseball history, and cautions that trading young
prospects in order to make a late-season run at the playoffs rarely pays off.
That notion is easy to believe, given that the White Sox did not part with any
prospects in acquiring Manny Ramirez and still failed to benefit from that deal.
Nevertheless, a closer examination of the methodology and findings of Traded
is in order.
July 1, 2010 - A Ballplayer's Inside View -
Upon learning that Doug Glanville had written a book revealing the hidden life of a baseball player and the social mores surrounding the game, the first question that popped to mind was, "Why hasn't anyone written this before?" After reading The Game From Where I Stand, it's hard to believe that anyone else would have made it work so well as Glanville did.
June 20, 2010 - The Worst MVP Voting Ever? - PNC Park was filled to capacity Saturday night as the 50-year anniversary of Pittsburgh's 1960 World Series Champions was celebrated in a pregame ceremony. The PA announcer certainly engaged in some excusable hyperbole during the ceremony, trying to convince us that backup outfielder Joe Christopher was an integral part of that 1960 team and rather matt-of-factly grading the Bill Mazeroski Game Seven homer as the most memorable moment in MLB history.
What isn't excusable, looking back at the 1960 season, was the MVP voting that year. National League MVP winner Dick Groat probably wasn't the worst MVP selection in history, but the NL voting top-to-bottom may well have been.
June 17, 2010 - Ubaldo Jimenez Is on His Way to an Exceptional Season - It's easy to get in trouble projecting a player's June stat line to a full season total. Juan Gonzalez had 101 RBI in the first half of the 1998 season, and although he actually hit much better in the second half (.353 vs .293), he collected only 56 RBI after the break. Ten years later, Chipper Jones had a .400 batting average on June 18, but hit "only" .320 the rest of the way to finish at .364.
Still, projecting June stat lines can be a lot of fun, and there's no stat line in baseball more fun to look at right now than that of Ubaldo Jimenez. After 14 starts, the Rockies' ace is 13-1 with a 1.15 ERA. It's time to consider whether Jimenez could possibly be heading towards one of the greatest pitching seasons of all time.
June 2, 2010 - Editing the Official List of Perfect Games - Last night, Armando Galarraga was robbed of a perfect game with two outs in the ninth because of a missed call by first base umpire Jim Joyce. To Joyce's credit, he admits that he blew the call and apologized to Galarraga. But anyone who watches a replay of that ground ball knows that the runner was out at first and that Galarraga should have been credited with the 21st perfect game in the history of Major League Baseball.
So why isn't AG credited with a perfect game? If an official scorer sees video replay postgame that refutes one of his decisions, he changes the scoring of the play. Can't an umpire who changes his mind do the same given the special circumstances? (A perfect game has been amended before, as you will soon discover).
Whether or not June 2, 2010 is considered a perfect game in the official history books, it is considered a perfect game by Baseball Evolution. Actually, if you look at the list of Baseball Evolution perfect games, you'll note several discrepancies from the official list.
February 22, 2010 - What Does a 40-Save Closer Mean for Your Postseason Chances? - Billy Wagner was recently quoted as saying, "If I get 40 saves, there is a great chance the Braves are going to the playoffs." Wagner's motivations for the quote aside, let's evaluate its merit. Is a team with a 40-save closer really much more likely to make the playoffs than the average team?
February 14, 2010 - Derek Jeter, second best shortstop ever? - We used to find Boneheaded Sportswriters a bit more frequently than we do now, which is probably because we've geared ourselves away from reading Boneheaded Sportswriters as much as we once did. Nevertheless, after coming across yet another article that heaps blind praise upon Derek Jeter, we are reminded that, anytime we short on material, we can always find New York sportswriter to put into the hopper. Perhaps we should start a feature called the "Boneheaded Jeter Article" Award. This one argues that Derek Jeter is already the second-best shortstop of all-time. When it isn't busy contradicting itself, that is.
January 28, 2010 - Mark Redman Follow-Up - Baseball Evolution first unveiled the Mark Redman Award in 2006, meaning that we have some follow-up data for half a dozen Redman winners. We know who the 2009 winners are, but what does that mean for their 2010 campaigns and beyond? The answer may not be quite what you expect, although it still isn't good news for Edwin Jackson and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
January 21, 2010 - The Mark Redman Award is given annually to the pitcher in each league that most personifies crashing back down to earth after a strong start to the season. We find a plethora of candidates in each league for the 2009 Mark Redman Award, making the winners not as clear-cut as in some past seasons.
Keith's 2004-2009 Archive
Questions? Concerns? Comments? Keith lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.