Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Don't Burn the Puig

There seems to be some serious outrage coming from the curmudgeonly oldey timey baseball folks regarding Yasiel Puig's appearance on the NL Final Vote ballot for the All Star Game. Now, I think Tim Hudson clearly had a point when he stated that ESPN and Major League Baseball are pushing for Puig to win. Of course they are. He's a young, exciting, fun player. He's good for business. Who's going to get more eyeballs on that game Puig or Freddie Freeman?

The old guard has been coming out in droves to say how it would be ridiculous for Puig to play in the game based on only 33 games so far. Now, I could write this entire post about how despite the attempts at making "this one count", the All Star Game is just a scrimmage that's played for fun. But I won't do that (yet). I won't talk about the fact that Puig would be the most exciting addition to the game, I won't mention that Puig is already a star. I won't even talk about some of the putrid "all stars" of seasons past that were voted in based solely on named recognition.

What I will do is make the argument that Puig has been more valuable to his team than the rest of the field.

Like I had mentioned in my AL awards post, this isn't about sustainability, it's about performance. Puig has a .495 BABIP. Meaning that half of the balls he hits in play are basehits. That's going to regress and it's going to regress HARD. His line for the seasons, however, stands at .409/.436/.667, with a measly 3.6 BB%. Being that impatient, it's going to be quite difficult for Puig to remain the juggernaut he has been so far in 2013.

My point is none of that matters. Right now, he's the best hitter in the universe.

Let's just compare him with the rest of his competition:
Ian Desmond .278/.323/.495  3.2 WAR
Hunter Pence .265/.309/.458 2.3 WAR
Adrian Gonzalez .298/.351/.482 1.6 WAR
Freddie Freeman .305/.384/.459 1.4 WAR

In just 33 games, Yasiel Puig has amassed a 2.1 WAR. The only player who has been able to open a significant lead in more than double the games has been Desmond, who is having a fine season.

When taking all of the factors into account, if you are being objective, you really have to vote for Puig. He will make the game most exciting, he will help the National League team win the most, and frankly he deserves it the most.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

National League Midseason Awards

Paul Goldschmidt. After having a breakout season in 2012, Goldschmidt has continued what he started last year. Also making me consider fantasy baseball suicide after dropping him instead of Brandon Belt last April.
Anyway, Goldy's .302/.380/.553 line along with 20 homers and 8 steals put's him slightly over David Wright or Buster Posey in my mind. I also needed an excuse to include another picture from a Mike Myers movies.

NL Rookie of the Year:
Yasiel Puig. Like Iglesias, Puig will definitely not end the season batting over .400. Unlike Iglesias, Puig has the tools and talent to be a legitimate all star.  I think he can settle in at .320/.380/.550. Which are still crazy good numbers. He also pimps a HR like an absolute boss.

NL CY Young:
Since the theme of the NL awards seems to be young phenoms, I have to go with Matt Harvey. His ERA and FIP both stand at 2.00 even and through 117 innings, he's struck out 10.15/9, leading all NL starters. Wainwright, Lee, and Kershaw all make legitimate cases and could be considered. Since Harvey is the most interesting and strikes the most guys out, he's going to be my pick. He's also posing nude in the ESPN body issues. Which is unrelated, but goddamn I bet his glutes are rock solid.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

American League Midseason Awards

It's pretty much smack dab in the middle of the season, so let's take a look at who I think would be winning the major awards at this juncture.

Sorry Chris Davis, you're having a great year, but Miguel Cabrera is some sort of android. An android that runs on tequila and bad decisions, but an android none the less. Thus far Miggy has gone .369/.456/.672, which are just stupid numbers. Numbers rarely seen this side of Barry Bonds. I was firmly in the Trout camp in 2012, but Cabrera is the hands down choice this year.

AL Rookie of the Year.
Jose Iglesias, I guess. What he's doing is absolutely unsustainable. Iglesias boasts a .465 BABIP, so he's going to come crashing down to earth. In 133 AAA plate appearances this year he hit .202/.262/.319. Compare that to his .409/.455/.530 in 145 big league PAs and you know something is fishy. However this isn't about sustainability or real value. It's about performance. So, with those numbers and a lack of other good options, good on you Jose.

AL Cy Young
Max Scherzer. 12-0 is impressive. I know wins are wholly overrated, and indicate very little about a
pitchers actual performance, however to be 12-0 at this point in the season requires quite a bit of dominant pitching and good luck. So, still impressive. Scherzer has also managed to strike out 10.69 guys per 9 innings, while keeping his ERA at a lovely 3.10 (2.68 FIP). He was also dynamite in Wayne's World. 

If I have the time, I'll do a rundown of the National League tomorrow. Hint: Puig across the board!

Beer Status: Shipyard Monkey Fist IPA

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


I've been reading the book World War Z (Yes, mostly because the movie is out, deal with it), so I've had zombies on the brain (not literally, although I do think I would have a tasty, tasty brain). I thought with this post I would explore some Major League Baseball's walking dead. Guys who have shown no signs of life in several years, but somehow slowly saunter out of the dugout moaning in 2013. 

Vernon Wells. Zombie since 2011. 
Vernon Wells has tried to come back from beyond the grave several times but always manages to get pulled back with the undead. After alternating brilliant seasons (2003: .909 OPS; 2006: .899 OPS) with disappointing ones (2007 : .706 OPS; 2009: .711 OPS) with several seasons bouncing in between, Vernon cemented his place among the damned in 2011. He's had a few good 2 weeks runs, but hasn't managed an OPS above .682 in the past 3 seasons. 

Placido Polanco: Zombie Since 2012. Polanco has managed to put up some big seasons in his career, his 2005 (.331/.383/.447)  and 2007 (.341/.388/.458) seasons especially come to mind. He's been around the league, bouncing between the Cards, Phillies, and Tigers before settling in Miami this year. Placido joined the ranks of reanimated brain eaters in a slow drop off since 2007. But I can only really fairly call him a zombie since 2012, when he finished the year with a wRC+ of 71 (league average is 100). He seems to have really shed any sort of  human form this year and become a full fledged ghoul, bottoming out with a wRC+ of 57.

Yuniseky Betancourt. Zombie since forever. Betancourt has been nothing but a maligned walking corpse since his major league debut. In his very best of seasons 2006 and 2007, he was a slightly below average hitter and an average fielder (according to Fangraphs fielding tool). It's been been a black hole of terrible pretty much ever since, never eclipsing a .700 OPS since. He has even managed a .579 OPS so far in 2013. 

Ichiro Suzuki. Zombie since 2011. Ichiro has been depressingly consistent since 2011, he seemed to get a bit of a spark after being dealt to the Yankees in 2012, however it didn't quite carry over to this year. He still holds some value as a player because his defense is still above average. However at the plate, he joined the living dead quite suddenly. His free swinging approach really hampers his value now that he can't slap any pitch for hit. His batting averages have remained somewhat respectable, but his inability to get on base in another manner (OBPs of .310, .307, and .307) and his total lack of power ( SLGs of .335, .390, and .346) have made him a one trick (zombie) pony not worth riding. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Nice guys finish last.

“Where have all the bastards gone?” – Green Day, Letterbomb.

Watching the Yankees offense lately has become more of a chore than a leisurely evening activity. It’s little more than an exercise in futility and frustration.  They suck. Hard.

It’s a pretty drastic change from the Yankees I’ve known the two decades of my fandom. They were always characterized by players like Paul O’Neill, or Nick Swisher, or even Bobby Abreu. The Yankees would wear you down. Take a pitch, foul a couple tough sliders off, work a walk. The Yankees would make a pitcher throw 60 pitches through 3 innings, then pounce. The Yankee teams I knew may not have always great pitching. They may have had some defenses that rivaled beer league softball teams, but they could always hit.

Look at the team now. Vernon Wells, Ichiro Suzuki, Chris Stewart, Jayson Nix. A conglomerate of walking has been corpses, or shrug inducing never weres.  This brings me to my real question.

Are you sure you don’t want Alex Rodriguez back?

He’s an absolute tool. He got caught cheating in every facet of his life. He’s lied. He’s cocky. He’s out of touch.  He says the wrong thing. He slaps the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove.  He seems to shrink in the spotlight.

Dude can still hit.

Is he the once in a generation masher he once was? Not even close.  Is he better than the alternative? You bet your gentle puritan sensibilities he is.  The last 3 years he’s put up OPS+ of 123, 119, 112. All above average. Jayson Nix career high is 95. David Adams looks like an over matched rookie. The less I say about Reid Brignac, the better.

A Rod is not going to win any popularity contests. He is never going to be likable. Who cares. I don’t watch baseball for examples of a solid moral fiber. I don’t look to athletes as beacons of citizenship and heroics. You want a hero? Go to a police station, hospital, or fire house. Vernon Wells seems like a hell of guy. He’s hitting .118 in the past 30 games. Bring me the jerk.

Baseball is about winning. If I’m picking my team, I’ll take Ty Cobb, Pete Rose, and Manny Ramirez. You can have the nice guys. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Neglectful Me

I haven't really written anything in a while, to be honest there hasn't been much to inspire me. Dozens of guys have reported to spring training in the best shape of their lives, dozens more are just back in the same shape they were in in October. I spend most of my days at work reading updates and reports, flipping through spring training pictures, grinding my teeth in jealously as I subject myself to the pictures sunny, warm weather in Arizona and Florida.  I do, however, take solace in the fact that the start of spring training signals the inevitable approach of summer.

It's interesting to take a look at the career crossroads that many players approach this time of year. Both Jorge Posada and Jason Varitek have ended their long careers his offseason. They were two of the most central figures of the sometimes intense, sometimes violent, but always entertaining Yankees- Red Sox battles of the early 2000's.  They each symbolized the intensity that always came through in those games. Two images that will be eternally etched in my brain from those games are Jorge Posada's look of triumph and the corresponding fist pump after an RBI double off of Pedro Martinez. Equally symbolic of those games is the image of Jason Varitek shoving a fist full of catchers mitt in Alex Rodriguez's face. I guess it is all a bit of a trip that there are players whose entire careers I have watched who are starting to retire.  Means I am starting to get old.

While these catchers of my youth-college years begin to retire. A new generation begins to emerge. Guys like Jesus Montero, Bryce Harper, and Mike Trout are going to be the names that kids of the future grow up with, wear their t shirts, ask for autographs, and memorize stats. It's the first time I am realizing how cyclical this all is. Guys comes up, play, get old, retire. It's been happening for ten decades. For one generation Ted Williams was the guy they grew up with and Jim Rice was the young up and comer who made them feel old. For another Don Mattingly was their childhood hero and Andy Pettitte was the player who came along to appreciate as another man with a different skill set in life that is to be appreciated and not necessarily worshipped.

Growing up as a kid in then 90's the Yankees were my religion and Derek Jeter the pope. Now that I have become assimilated into the "real world", I no longer feel the same reverence for ballplayers, I cheer, I am still emotionally involved in every win and loss, but I can't say the players themselves are heros of mine. Just another guy in the world, who happens to be good at something that I am not. Hopefully the best collection of those guys end up on the team I cheer for, but that's about the extent of my reverence these days.