Tag: anibal sanchez

2013 MLB Awards

awardThe Third Annual Baseball Haven “I’m Always Right Before the Media Figures It Out” Awards are officially ready. These guys may not win the awards below, but they certainly SHOULD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cabrera1AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
2013 30 DET AL 148 652 555 103 193 26 1 44 137 3 90 94 .348 .442 .636 1.078 187 353
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/13/2013.

I appreciate sabermetrics and I know that Mike Trout has a lot of value to the Angels, but Cabrera was the best player in baseball, again, in 2013. While he didn’t win the Triple Crown like he did in 2012, he still put up ridiculous numbers and helped to carry the Tigers to the AL Central title while Prince Fielder put up the worst OPS of his career. Even weakened by injuries late in the season, Cabrera put up strong enough counting stats to be considered here, and it isn’t just the home runs and RBI, as shown by his MLB-leading OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+. Cabrera may not have the all-around tools to assist Detroit with his defense and speed, but he does everything else better than everyone else in baseball. Enjoy it while you can, as Cabrera will be on the wrong side of 30 in 2014, and with the lack of performance-enhancing drugs to aid his career totals as he ages, as they did for Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, these types of special seasons could be coming to an end for the legendary career that Cabrera has had to this point.

Honorable Mention: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels; Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles;

Courtesy: ESPN.com
Courtesy: ESPN.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NL MVP: Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
2013 26 PIT NL 157 674 583 97 185 38 5 21 84 27 78 101 .317 .404 .508 .911 158 296
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/13/2013.

Take a team that hasn’t been in the playoffs since 1992 that finally had a winning season and look for their best player? Not even close. McCutchen has been a top fantasy baseball talent for several years and this is the year that his abilities actually propelled the Pirates into contention, where they actually remained until running into the Cardinals in the NLDS. McCutchen looks like the National League’s older version of Mike Trout, posting impressive power, on-base, speed, and defensive metric numbers, creating solid, across-the-board numbers that make him one of the most well-rounded players in the entire league. As the Pirates continue to develop and plug-in talented players around him, his numbers will likely continue to take off. He is a tremendous player with a ceiling that he hasn’t even reached yet.

Honorable Mention: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks; Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves; Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals;

Scherzer2AL Cy Young: Max Scherzer, RHP, Detroit Tigers

Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2013 28 DET AL 21 3 2.90 32 0 0 214.1 152 73 69 18 56 240 145 0.970 6.4 10.1 4.29
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/13/2013.

It isn’t about the wins, although, Scherzer did have the league-lead by two games. It’s all about how effective Scherzer was all season. He posted the lowest WHIP in the American League and only Yu Darvish (.194) had a lower batting average allowed in the AL than Scherzer’s .195. Scherzer posted impressive strikeout totals, reached a career-high in innings pitched (214.1), and showcased his ability to lead a rotation while the Tigers watched Justin Verlander have a non-Verlander-like season in 2013. Even though the Tigers rotation was, quite possibly, the deepest of any team in baseball, Detroit wouldn’t have been quite as successful without the dynamic season that Scherzer put together in 2013.

Honorable Mention: Yu Darvish, RHP, Texas Rangers; Anibal Sanchez, RHP, Detroit Tigers; Chris Sale, LHP, Chicago White Sox;

Kershaw1NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2013 25 LAD NL 16 9 1.83 33 3 2 236.0 164 55 48 11 52 232 194 0.915 6.3 8.8 4.46
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/13/2013.

How could it be anyone else? Someone may want to just rename the award for the Dodgers’ left-hander with the way the last few seasons have gone, although, he didn’t win the award in 2012 thanks to R.A. Dickey and his magic and rainbow season for the New York Mets. Kershaw led the majors in ERA (1.83), WHIP (0.92), and ERA+ (194), while his 232 strikeouts led the NL. Kershaw had four starts (out of 33) in which he failed to go six or more innings and only had six non-quality starts on the season. He is the definition of an ace, a shutdown starter, capable of tossing a complete game shutout every fifth day in an era that seems to make such a statistic impossible due to innings limits and pitch counts. Kershaw has gone from a starter to avoid in fantasy leagues due to his once high walk totals to the must-have starting pitching option. At 25, the sky is the limit, and with Gary Nolan and Tom Seaver at the top of his Baseball Reference similarity scores, you have to hope that Kershaw has the long, successful career of “Tom Terrific” instead of the injury-destroyed career of Nolan.

Honorable Mention: Matt Harvey, RHP, New York Mets; Adam Wainwright, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals; Cliff Lee, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies;

AL Manager of the Year: Joe Girardi, New York Yankees, 85-77 AL East (4th place)

Why would you give an award to a manager who led his team to a fourth place finish? Because that manager had his starting shortstop (Derek Jeter), starting first baseman (Mark Teixeira), starting center fielder (Curtis Granderson), and starting third baseman (Alex Rodriguez) for a combined 137 games this season, meaning those four missed a combined 511 games in 2013. While plugging in Eduardo Nunez, Kevin Youkilis, Vernon Wells, Zoilo Almonte, Lyle Overbay, and Jayson Nix, while maintaining credibility and competing within the toughest division in MLB. Girardi also had to juggle a disappointing pitching staff, as he got next to nothing out of C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and David Phelps, at times, in the rotation. He certainly deserved his recent extension and proved that he is much more than a guy that fills out an All-Star lineup card every night with the Yankees star-studded roster and large payrolls over the years.

Honorable Mention: John Farrell, Boston Red Sox; Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians; Bob Melvin, Oakland A’s;

NL Manager of the Year: Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates, 94-68 NL Central (2nd place, NL Wild Card)

I’m not a huge believer in Clint Hurdle and I really don’t think that he deserves the award due to some questionable moves that he has made over the years, as well as this season; However, he guided a group of miscreants and castoffs (along with Pedro Alvarez, Starling Marte, McCutchen, and Neil Walker) to the Pirates’ first winning season since 1992, let alone a playoff appearance. With several veteran additions (Russell Martin, Justin Morneau, and Marlon Byrd) and the arrival of the club’s future No.1 starter, Gerrit Cole, Hurdle was able to outlast Cincinnati and have a successful season. Maybe it was the bootcamp workouts in the offseason, who knows, but the man in charge, Hurdle, will likely benefit with the award, so I’ll give it to him.

Honorable Mention: Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals; Don Mattingley, Los Angeles Dodgers;

myersAL Rookie of the Year: Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
2013 22 TBR AL 88 373 335 50 98 23 0 13 53 5 33 91 .293 .354 .478 .831 132 160
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/13/2013.

The only thing more impressive than Myers’ strikeouts and home run power are his bat flips. The kid came up and was an immediately upgrade for the Rays, hitting 4th in 25 of his 88 games, the most of any spot in the order, while providing a little punch and protection for Evan Longoria and the crew. Myers production is just the tip of the iceberg, as he is quite capable of hitting 30-35 home runs annually while striking out in bunches, just as he did in 2013. The major piece in the haul that the Rays acquired from Kansas City in the James Shields deal, Myers will be a nuisance to opposing clubs for years to come.

Honorable Mention: Cody Allen, RHP, Cleveland Indians; Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays; Dane De La Rosa, Los Angeles Angels;

Fernandez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NL Rookie of the Year: Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins

Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2013 20 MIA NL 12 6 2.19 28 0 0 172.2 111 47 42 10 58 187 176 0.979 5.8 9.7 3.22
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/13/2013.

Fernandez had quite a few people fighting him for the award this season, but he was just a bit more dominant than the competition. While he didn’t lead the lowly Marlins to the playoffs, like some of the other rookie of the year worthy players, Fernandez oozed confidence and had a feel for pitching that hasn’t been seen from many 20 or 21 year-old players in baseball history. He was nearly as unhittable as Clayton Kershaw, actually besting him (and everyone else) with a 5.8 hits per nine innings, best in MLB. While his character came into question by the Braves and Brian McCann after his extreme home run watching episode in September, it proved very little about how fantastic he is on the mound. While it is fair to question the future of the Miami Marlins due to their horrific owner, Jeffrey Loria, Jose Fernandez is a gem, who should continue to post awe-worthy numbers as long as his 6’2″, 240 pound frame will allow him to do so.

Honorable Mention: Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves; Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals; Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers; Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers; Matt Adams, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals; Khris Davis, OF, Milwaukee Brewers;

Rivera1MLB Comeback Player of the Year: Mariano Rivera, RHP, New York Yankees

Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA G GF SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2013 43 NYY AL 6 2 2.11 64 60 44 64.0 58 16 15 6 9 54 192 1.047 8.2 7.6 6.00
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/13/2013.

After tearing his ACL while shagging fly balls and being limited to just nine appearances in 2012, Rivera came back and picked up right where he left off in his storied career, finishing the 2013 with over 40 saves for the ninth time in his career. The 2013 season was his final season and it was full of terrible gifts that he received during his farewell tour, but it didn’t stop Rivera from maintaining the status quo, pitching stoically and professionally while shutting the door on the opposition with his dynamic cutter. The game will miss Rivera not because of the No. 42 officially going away forever, but because he was one of the classiest people to ever put on a uniform. His willingness to come back from his injury to leave on his terms showed his character as he now goes off to a happy retirement.

Honorable Mention: Francisco Liriano, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates; Scott Kazmir, LHP, Cleveland Indians; James Loney, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays; Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies;

Advertisements

Why Is Pitching So Dominant…Again?

There were seven no-hitters in Major League Baseball in 2012, a number that won’t be touched in 2013 due to only two occurring to this point, barring a complete hitting meltdown. However, pitching has dominated MLB since the big-headed monsters of the steroid era have begun to disappear from the game. Since 2000, pitching has taken over the game:

Season H HR R BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
2013 34209 3833 16555 7.9 19.7 0.254 0.318 0.398
2012 42063 4934 21017 8.0 19.8 0.255 0.319 0.405
2011 42267 4552 20808 8.1 18.6 0.255 0.321 0.399
2010 42554 4613 21308 8.5 18.5 0.257 0.325 0.403
2009 43524 5042 22419 8.9 18.0 0.262 0.333 0.418
2008 43972 4878 22585 8.7 17.5 0.264 0.333 0.416
2007 44977 4957 23322 8.5 17.1 0.268 0.336 0.423
2006 45073 5386 23599 8.4 16.8 0.269 0.337 0.432
2005 43992 5017 22326 8.2 16.4 0.264 0.330 0.419
2004 44522 5451 23375 8.6 16.9 0.266 0.335 0.428
2003 44057 5207 22978 8.5 16.4 0.264 0.333 0.422
2002 43272 5059 22408 8.7 16.8 0.261 0.331 0.417
2001 43869 5458 23197 8.5 17.3 0.264 0.332 0.427
2000 45244 5692 24969 9.6 16.5 0.270 0.345 0.437

Davis3The numbers show a pretty dramatic increase in strikeouts since 2000 with a drop in walks, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. While it could be blamed on the lack of juicers in the game, there are still position players posting absurd offensive numbers, like Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis, and Mike Trout. But what is it that has changed the game?

Pitchers, for their part, have seen increase almost across the board in their production:

Season IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FB Vel.
2013 35437.1 7.52 3.02 0.97 0.293 73.4 3.88 91.9
2012 43355.1 7.56 3.05 1.02 0.293 72.5 4.01 91.8
2011 43527.1 7.13 3.11 0.94 0.291 72.5 3.94 91.7
2010 43305.1 7.13 3.28 0.96 0.293 72.2 4.08 91.5
2009 43272 6.99 3.46 1.05 0.295 71.9 4.32 91.4
2008 43357.2 6.83 3.39 1.01 0.296 71.4 4.32 90.9
2007 43425.2 6.67 3.33 1.03 0.299 70.7 4.47 91.1
2006 43258 6.59 3.30 1.12 0.298 70.9 4.53 N/A
2005 43232.1 6.38 3.17 1.04 0.292 71.7 4.29 N/A
2004 43394.1 6.60 3.36 1.13 0.293 71.4 4.46 N/A
2003 43335 6.40 3.30 1.08 0.291 71.2 4.40 N/A
2002 43268.2 6.53 3.38 1.05 0.289 71.7 4.28 N/A
2001 43287.1 6.74 3.29 1.13 0.292 71.2 4.42 N/A
2000 43244.1 6.53 3.80 1.18 0.296 70.2 4.77 N/A

Strikeouts per nine are up, walks are down, left on base percentage is up, and ERA is down. All of this could coincide with the fact that fastball velocity is up (since Pitch/FX stats have become available), but there could be other reasons for such dramatic increases in pitching skills, like fielding:

Season Errors Fielding % RZR OOZ
2013 2246 0.985 0.832 12160
2012 3008 0.984 0.830 14054
2011 3053 0.983 0.837 14317
2010 3030 0.983 0.825 12895
2009 2856 0.984 0.833 13494
2008 2965 0.984 0.829 12593
2007 2988 0.984 0.820 11222
2006 3066 0.983 0.823 10928
2005 3060 0.983 0.744 11138
2004 3166 0.983 0.735 10641
2003 3170 0.983 0.742 10372
2002 3221 0.982 N/A N/A
2001 3357 0.982 N/A N/A
2000 3447 0.981 N/A N/A

Andrus2For those of you unfamiliar with RZR and OOZ, FanGraphs defines them this way:
RZR: via The Hardball Times: “Revised Zone Rating is the proportion of balls hit into a fielder’s zone that he successfully converted into an out. Zone Rating was invented by John Dewan when he was CEO of Stats Inc.  John is now the owner of Baseball Info Solutions, where he has revised the original Zone Rating calculation so that it now lists balls handled out of the zone (OOZ) separately (and doesn’t include them in the ZR calculation) and doesn’t give players extra credit for double plays (Stats had already made that change). We believe both changes improve Zone Ratings substantially. To get a full picture of a player’s range, you should evaluate both his Revised Zone Rating and his plays made out of zone (OOZ).”

OOZ: Plays made out of zone.

It appears that with fewer errors, a slight increase in fielding percentage, and more plays made outside of the fielder’s zone, tied in with more strikeouts and more runners left on base (likely due to fewer errors and more plays being made), could also be a reason behind pitcher dominance.

Velocity and defense go a long way in stopping the opposition, and with more teams accepting the value of defense (like Arizona dealing Trevor Bauer for Didi Gregorius and Texas giving a huge contract to Elvis Andrus), offensive production could continue to decline. When the likes of Gregorius (.705 OPS), Andrus (.632 OPS), and Andrelton Simmons (.659 OPS) are playing defense and not hitting at league average levels, that also helps the opposition pitching in a way. Is it worth giving up offense for defensive gain when the strong fielder is such a weak hitter? Getting an out and giving an out is equal to zero, right?

Kershaw3Considering that the top 10 starting pitchers in ERA (Clayton Kershaw, Matt Harvey (R.I.P.), Jose Fernandez, Adam Wainwright, Anibal Sanchez, Felix Hernandez, Yu Darvish, Hiroki Kuroda, Max Scherzer, and Patrick Corbin) have an average age of 27.5, and that’s including the outliers (Kuroda at 38 and Wainwright at 31), there will likely be more years of pitching dominance on the horizon. Regardless of the video game-like numbers that a select few offensive players will produce, if or when top starting pitching prospects, like Dylan Bundy, Archie Bradley, Taijuan Walker, and Robert Stephenson finally reach the Majors and reach their potential (hopefully), we could feel additional breezes in the stands  from the bats striking nothing but air as we watch more 3-1 baseball games.

Are the Royals Good Enough to “Go for It”?

ShieldsKansas City Royals GM Dayton Moore apparently thinks that his team is good enough to win within the next two years. That has to be the case after Moore traded one of the best prospects in baseball, Wil Myers, with RHP Jake Odorizzi, LHP Mike Montgomery, and 3B Patrick Leonard to the Tampa Bay Rays for two years of RHP James Shields and RHP Wade Davis.

For whatever reason, the Royals looked like they were going to go with Jeff Francoeur in right field in 2013, despite Myers ripping 37 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A in 2012. Was Myers expendable at the cost of playing Francoeur, who, after posting a .665 OPS in 2012, is in the final year of his contract in 2013?

While Kansas City has Wade Davis under contract through 2017, one has to wonder if he is really a starting pitcher. Davis posted a 2.43 ERA over 54 appearances and 70.1 innings, posting an 87:29 K:BB pitching only out of the bullpen in 2012. Prior to last season, Davis was 25-22 with a 4.22 ERA in 64 career starts, posting a 254:138 K:BB in 388.1 innings for the Rays.

While James Shields has a 31-22 record and a 3.15 ERA over the last two seasons, posting a 448:123 K:BB in 477 innings, Davis will be the wildcard in this deal, especially considering the amount of young controllable talent the Royals gave up in the deal.

Beyond the trade is the makeup of the current Royals roster. Is it championship caliber? Can the Royals compete with the Tigers, who have reloaded the pitching staff by re-signing Anibal Sanchez, teaming him with Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, and Max Scherzer to form one of the top pitching staffs in baseball, while still packing the Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera punch?

The Royals will need more than a couple of dynamic seasons out of Shields and Davis to make it work. Moore acquired Ervin Santana from the Los Angeles Angels, while committing $25 million over three years to journeyman Jeremy Guthrie. Can Shields, Davis, Santana, Guthrie, and Will Smith, Luke Hochevar, or Bruce Chen be enough to become a contender?

The answer will lie in the bats of the young stars on the Royals roster. Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, and Eric Hosmer have shown glimpses of superstardom, while mixing in a lot of inconsistencies. Shortstop Alcides Escobar looks like he is heading towards becoming a star, while catcher Salvador Perez looks to be on the same track. Designated Hitter Billy Butler is the leader of the team and all he does is hit. If the team gets a little consistency out of Moustakas, Gordon, and Hosmer, while hoping that Lorenzo Cain stays healthy in center and Francoeur looks like a baseball player again (like he did in 2011 when he posted an .805 OPS), the Royals may have enough to compete.

However, the Royals are a small-market team. If the team is able to create extreme revenue with a new TV contract, then this type of trade makes sense, but it is unlikely that the team will have the cash to re-sign Shields after the 2014 season, if he is even worth re-signing at that point. Is that worth the seven years of Myers, Odorizzi, and Montgomery?

The Royals have positioned themselves well by acquiring a lot of veteran arms to upgrade their rotation; however, Davis, Guthrie, and Santana aren’t models of consistency. If each of their starters reach their peak levels of performance, they could very well become a true force in a weak AL Central. They will need a lot of help from their young position players, though.

The Royals will be good enough to compete with the Detroit Tigers if Mike Moustakas hits like he did in the minors, if Eric Hosmer hits like he did in his rookie year, if Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez continue hitting like they did in 2012, if Lorenzo Cain and Jeff Francoeur do anything, and if Billy Butler keeps hitting like the All-Star that he is.

Those are a lot of if’s.

myersBecause of all of those if’s, the Royals are going to regret the trade of Myers, Odorizzi, and Montgomery. While we’ve seen many Brandon Wood, Brandon Larson, and Corey Patterson-types get hyped and fail, we’ve also seen the Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Miguel Cabrera-types get hyped and exceed expectations. For a team who can’t land the top free agents, dealing away all of that potential for two years of a reliable arm and five years of a wildcard is and will be a huge mistake.

Some teams just need to remember who and what they are. With so many teams banking on revenue streams increasing, MLB could have parity like the NFL in coming years…but they could also have owners who are shy to spend due to the market limitations. Kansas City has been shy to spend for so many years that they can’t be counted on to start anytime soon. They weren’t close enough to a championship to make a deal like the one that they did with the Rays.

daytonThat will be Dayton Moore’s legacy…unfortunately.

Angel in the Outfield: Hamilton Signs for $125 Million

Courtesy: USA Today
Courtesy: USA Today

According to ESPN Dallas, free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton signed a five-year, $125 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday. Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels was apparently upset that he wasn’t able to match the offer, but the team could have been more aggressive, rather than waiting to see the maximum contract another team was willing to pay the five-time All-Star, rather than regretting now.

After yet another offseason with a huge, offensive acquisition, this following the Albert Pujols signing last year, the Angels have reloaded for the 2013 season. After losing starting pitcher Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Angels are now able to keep some attention on their roster, as the Dodgers continue to spend big bucks.

Hamilton brings a tremendous amount of ability with him, and while it is easy for some to question the length and commitment due to his prior drug use, the fact remains that some team was going to pay him $25 million per year, so why not the Angels? They were able to explain paying Pujols $30 million in the final year of his contract (age 41), so they should be able to do the same thing here, discussing marketing and TV contracts and all of the forms of revenue streams that Hamilton will increase.

So, what do the Angels do next? Hamilton and Pujols are just as scary as the 3-4 punch that Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder provide in Detroit, but the Angels have something more to offer. Mike Trout. And, you can’t forget that the team still has solid production coming from DH Kendrys Morales, outfielder Mark Trumbo, and occasional outbursts from lesser hitters like second baseman Howie Kendrick and shortstop Erick Aybar.

The Angels can’t be done this offseason, though. With outfielders Vernon Wells and Peter Bourjos on the roster, a trade seems very likely, as the team could acquire upgrades elsewhere.

Alberto Callaspo is currently their third baseman. Trumbo has played third base for 63 innings, making four errors and posting a .714 fielding percentage. The upgrade will not involve a switch of positions for the slugger. Could the team ultimately look to deal Trumbo in a package to San Diego for Chase Headley? Headley would be a huge upgrade and another dynamic addition to the lineup.

If not a third baseman, should the Angels upgrade their starting rotation? They have added Tommy Hanson in a deal with Atlanta, while signing Joe Blanton via free agency. With Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson at the top of the rotation, could the Halos look to upgrade from Brad Mills in the fifth spot of the rotation? Maybe a deal with Cleveland for Justin Masterson or Ubaldo Jimenez makes some sense, or the team could take on someone more established by signing Kyle Lohse, Jair Jurrjens, Shaun Marcum, or Anibal Sanchez, since they apparently have the money.

Hamilton1Regardless, Josh Hamilton provides a star quality that is worthy of Los Angeles. While the Rangers pondered Greinke, a Los Angeles team jumped in. While the Rangers pondered on Hamilton, a Los Angeles team jumped in. The Rangers will need to jump at a deal for Justin Upton at this point, and they’ll probably have to cave in and deal Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar to make it happen. Otherwise, the team will be left with giving loads of cash to Nick Swisher, Cody Ross, or Michael Bourn to be able to compete with the Angels going forward.

Where are all of the east coast bias whiners now? The gold rush is once again going on out west, and the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels are making free agency in baseball a two coast battle, and a battle that they appear willing to spend billions to win.

Is Zack Greinke Worth More Than $100 Million?

Courtesy: LA Times
Courtesy: LA Times

Zack Greinke is an excellent pitcher, having won the 2009 American League Cy Young with Kansas City and accumulating 91 wins in nine seasons. After being traded from Kansas City to Milwaukee prior to the 2011 season, then from Milwaukee to the Los Angeles Angels prior to the 2012 non-waiver trade deadline, Greinke is a free agent, and a highly coveted one, at that.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports seems to think that Greinke is going to join either the Texas Rangers or the Los Angeles Dodgers by the end of the week, as the two clubs could make the 29-year-old right-hander the highest-paid pitcher in baseball, exceeding the $161 million that the Yankees gave CC Sabathia.

The problem is, Zack Greinke isn’t worth that kind of investment.

Greinke is good but he has some disturbing career trends.

Greinke Can’t Pitch on the Road:

Split W L W-L% ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP
Home 55 30 .647 3.42 138 118 4 1 776.1 756 319 295 178 744 1.203
Away 36 48 .429 4.15 134 113 8 2 715.2 726 356 330 201 588 1.295
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/5/2012.

It isn’t that he “CAN’T PITCH,” it’s just that he isn’t nearly as dominant. If Greinke had a .647 winning percentage on the road in his career, just like his home winning percentage, we’d be talking about a guy with a 54-30 away record and 109 career wins…but we’re not.

Greinke has a K/BB at home of 4.18 but that number drops to 2.93 on the road. How can you commit that much money to someone who can only pitch extremely well when you’re at home?

Courtesy: mlbdailydish.com
Courtesy: mlbdailydish.com

Greinke’s Statistics Aren’t Elite:

When you compare Greinke to the active ERA leaders in MLB, he is solid, ranking 23rd with a 3.77 ERA. Solid, but if quality is based on statistical measurement, does anyone see Chad Billingsley (3.65), Jon Lester (3.76), or Matt Garza (3.83) cashing in anytime in the near future?

Sure, ERA isn’t the only measurement of success, but wins are overrated, right? No one would say that Ian Kennedy and his 21-4 record and 2.88 ERA in 2011 was more impressive than Roy Halladay‘s 19-6 record and 2.35 ERA or Cliff Lee‘s 17-8 record and 2.40 ERA in 2011, right? Luckily, when Clayton Kershaw won the NL Cy Young with his 21-5 record and 2.28 ERA, no one had to find out how important the wins were, as Kennedy finished 4th in Cy Young voting while tying Kennedy in wins that season.

The thing is, Greinke doesn’t really have the wins, either. His 91 wins have him tied with Cole Hamels at 46th. Hamels completed his seventh season in 2012 compared to Greinke’s ninth, and at the same age (heading into their age-29 seasons), is Greinke worth more than Cole Hamels, whose career ERA is 3.34?

The Issues:

You can’t forget that Greinke missed 69 games in 2006 due to Clinical Depression, a combination deemed depression and social anxiety disorder. He pitched in just three games in the majors that season after starting 17 games for the Royals Double-A affilliate, before getting another shot at starting at the beginning of 2007.

Greinke went just 1-4 with a 5.71 ERA over seven starts before moving to the bullpen for his next 37 appearances. He went 4-1 with a 3.54 ERA out of the bullpen, but the Royals moved him back to the rotation at the end of the season for another seven starts, when Greinke went 2-2 with a 1.85 ERA.

Mental illness and depression is something that is treated, but it is likely to relapse in the future. With all of the stress and expectations that Greinke is going to have on him due to his contract and pitching for a contending team, is it going to be too much for him?

So much is made of Josh Hamilton and his past drug addiction as teams worry about the financial commitment to someone whose body “could” break down due to the years of abuse. Why is Zack Greinke any different? Do you want your team committing a huge contract to someone who could, just as easily as Hamilton, have a mental slip up?

Courtesy: LA Times
Courtesy: LA Times

Conclusion: Zack Greinke is an excellent starting pitcher. However, Dan Haren, Anibal Sanchez, Brandon McCarthy, and Erik Bedard were or are great pitchers, as well, and all were or are free agents this offseason.

Dan Haren has more wins (119) and a better career ERA (3.65) than Greinke. He also has an achy back and a lot more innings on his arm at the age of 32.

With more teams cashing in on TV deals and the revenues that stream from them, there will be more contracts like what Greinke is going to get this offseason. There will also be just as many contracts that teams live to regret, like Alex Rodriguez and his deteriorating, steroid damaged hips in New York, or what is to come of Albert Pujols and his massive contract when he is in his early-40’s and earning $30 million in his final year of his deal.

Greinke is reliable, having missed a few starts in 2011 due to a broken rib from a pick-up basketball game in the offseason, and the time that he missed due to his depression in 2006, but that is all. He had some shoulder inflammation in 2010 (he was day-to-day), but he hasn’t missed time outside of those issues in his entire career.

Based on his results, Greinke is very good. He isn’t Matt Cain, Roy Halladay, or Tim Lincecum (pre-2012), so I would be very uncomfortable with my team giving him a huge, $100 million-plus deal. Is he an ace? Is he a game changer?

To me, his three postseason starts with a 1-1 record and 6.48 ERA shows the kind of pitcher Greinke is in crunch time. If he isn’t comfortable, he is just another guy on the mound, not your ace, and certainly not worth upwards of $20 million annually.

World Series Preview

With the Giants Game 7 win on Monday night in San Francisco, the world prepares for its series, with Game 1 on Wednesday night at AT&T Park. The Giants get home-field advantage with that awesome Bud Selig, All-Star Game idea, as the National League won the mid-summer classic in July.

Some things to look forward to:

Pitching:

Courtesy: dcobb1621.blogspot.com

The Tigers’ starting pitchers are 5-1 with a 1.02 ERA in nine postseason games, covering 62 innings, while posting a 66:19 K:BB. That stat includes the absolute domination of the New York Yankees in the ALCS, where Tigers’ starters were 3-0 with a 0.66 ERA. The Tigers have the luxury of setting up their rotation for Game 1, which would allow them to start Justin Verlander in Game 1, 4, and 7; however, Jim Leyland has penciled in a four-man rotation in the World Series, with Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez, and Max Scherzer slated to toe the rubber for the Tigers.

The Giants taking the St. Louis Cardinals to seven games and losing Matt Cain is sort of devastating for the outlook on the series. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy could surprise people with what he does, especially after moving Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum around from the rotation to the bullpen already within this postseason. If Bochy keeps his NLCS roster, the Giants could start Tim Lincecum in Game 1, followed by Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong, and Cain in Game 4. Due to Lincecum’s struggles in Game 4 of the NLCS, could the “rest” that Bumgarner received allow him to jump back into the rotation, after Bochy said he was “tired” after his Game 1 loss to the Cardinals?

However the Giants rotation shapes up, the spacious ballparks involved in this series will allow for success from the least likely of candidates. The power that lies in the arms of the Tigers’ starting pitchers could make for some high strikeout totals, while the blend of power and finesse in the Giants rotation could lead to some very low scoring games.

Power:

Power in the throwing arms is evident but the greatest asset that the Tigers possess are the two bats in the middle of their order, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. Those two are capable of changing the game with one swing, and while the Giants have power in the bats of Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, and Buster Posey, they aren’t nearly as productive, historically and recently, as the portly sluggers on the Tigers.

Courtesy: USAtoday.com

While Comerica Park and AT&T Park can sap the power in both lineups, both teams have enough on-base and speed guys (see Austin Jackson and Marco Scutaro) to manufacture runs. However, one swing of the bat can change everything, just ask Cincinnati fans, who saw the grand slam by Posey in Game 5 of the NLDS destroy their lives. While the advantage lies with Fielder and Cabrera, the Giants, so long thought to be ineffective offensively, have enough to win this series.

Passion:

There is nothing better than postseason baseball. Watching the fans in San Francisco the last two nights is what makes baseball special. While they were there for all of the 81 home games in the 2012 regular season, the fire and excitement over the last two nights fueled the Giants to an amazing comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the NLCS.

The Tigers are showing the passion of a city in the middle of a rebirth. While there were times of weakness, the strengths of Detroit came out to conquer those moments, establishing the franchise as a legitimate juggernaut, just as Detroit has done with the rebound of the American car manufacturing companies.

The pitching is going to make the “normal baseball fan” bored, but this series is exactly what the die-hard fans enjoy. The team that makes the first mistake in each game will lose, and the scores will look lower than a Tiger Woods scorecard before his man-whorishness was made public.

What to Expect:

The Giants will enjoy their home-field advantage in Game 1, continuing the momentum that drove them to a tremendous comeback over the Tigers, but due to the opening game loss, Jim Leyland will run Justin Verlander out for Game 4 and again in Game 7, which the Tigers will win with another Verlander shutout.  Max Scherzer becomes the Tigers’ version of Trevor Rosenthal, making several appearances but totally shutting down the opposition.

Tigers in 7. Justin Verlander will be the World Series MVP. Brian Wilson‘s beard is still better than Sergio Romo‘s, however, it’s still a distant second to Peter Griffin’s.  

Courtesy: familyguy.wikia.com

2013 MLB Free Agents: Top 10 Starting Pitchers

Courtesy: ESPN

Below is a list of starting pitchers who will, or could, reach free agency. Some players listed have options that will probably not be picked up, while others are totally free to sign with whomever they choose or settle for.

1. Zack Greinke, RHP, 10/21/1983

91-78, 3.77 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 1,492 IP, 1,332:379 K:BB

Greinke has been traded twice in the last two years, first from Kansas City to Milwaukee, then from Milwaukee to the Los Angeles Angels. The right-hander has overcome some personal anxiety battles, but those mental battles could limit his potential suitors when he hits free agency. Those interested in the front line starter may want to consider his home and road splits, as Greinke is a true ace at home (55-30, 3.42 ERA in 138 games, 118 starts) but very mediocre away from his apparent comfort zones (36-48, 4.15 ERA, 134 games, 113 starts). At 29, Greinke will be one of two players (Josh Hamilton being the other) to cash in with a $100 million deal this winter.

2. Edwin Jackson, RHP, 11/9/1983

70-71, 4.40 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 1,268.2 IP, 969:497 K:BB

The stuff finally produced the strikeouts that Jackson’s arsenal was capable of in the second half of 2012, when Jackson posted a 92:28 K:BB in 88.1 innings, a 9.4 K/9 rate. Jackson posted a 9.2 K/9 in 2010 once he was traded to the Chicago White Sox, but could this be where Jackson finally cashes in and becomes an ace? If Jackson lands in a pitcher’s park, he could continue to take the steps necessary to become the pitcher everyone thought he was when he was outdueling Randy Johnson back in 2003 at the age of 19. He’ll finally get his long-term deal, even after pitching for seven teams in ten years.

3. Anibal Sanchez, RHP, 2/27/1984

48-51, 3.75 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 869 IP, 733:320 K:BB

Sanchez has yet to reach 200 innings in a season, but he has reached 200 strikeouts in a season once (2011). The stuff has always been there to help him reach ace levels, but there has also been concerns about his health at times in his career, warranted due to his innings limits to this point. Sanchez pitched very well down the stretch for the Detroit Tigers and could be on his way to establishing himself as the top-of-the-rotation starter that made him a part of the deal from Boston for Josh Beckett years ago.

4. Jake Peavy, RHP, 5/31/1981

120-93, 3.46 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 1,800.1 IP, 1,748:548 K:BB

Peavy had his first full season since 2008 in 2012 and his first season with at least 30 starts since 2007. It has been a long struggle with shoulder woes for Peavy, but he looked like his former self in 2012 amassing a 3.37 ERA and a 194:49 K:BB in 219 innings. Peavy is due either a $4 million buyout or a $22 million salary, so the chances of him returning to the White Sox in 2013 are about as slim as Jay-Z never dropping the “b” word again. Peavy will cash in, as some team will gamble on the shoulder staying strong and his revival being legit.

5. Kyle Lohse, RHP, 10/4/1978

118-109, 4.45 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 1,973 IP, 1,238:565 K:BB

Lohse put on a clinic in 2012, going 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. The two seasons, Lohse is 30-11 with a 3.11 ERA over 399.1 innings. He’s clearly made himself a lot of money. Lohse is 34, so his contract could be limited. Teams could also be concerned about his pre-2011 form, as Lohse was just 88-98 with a 4.79 ERA over 10 seasons and 1,573.2 innings. St. Louis seems like a great fit, especially with an aging Chris Carpenter, as the Cardinals continue grooming Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, and Shelby Miller for rotation gigs.

6. Dan Haren, RHP, 9/17/1980

119-97, 3.66 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 1,876.2 IP, 1,585:395 K:BB

Haren has had some back issues the last couple of seasons, but he still managed to start 30 games in 2012. Haren has had issues his entire career maintaining his dominance, posting a 3.36 ERA and 63-50 record over 1,019.1 first half innings, while dropping to 56-47 with a 4.01 ERA in 857.1 second half innings. Haren rarely issues walks and is a great option for the top of a rotation. He is due $15.5 million or a $3.5 million buyout. If the Angels want to make a push to re-sign the younger Greinke, Haren could be bought out and headed to free agency. He’ll look to rebuild his value at the age of 32, still young enough for a nice, long-term commitment.

7. Francisco Liriano, LHP, 10/26/1983

53-54, 4.40 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 840 IP, 846:356 K:BB

Once upon a time, Liriano was on his way to becoming the next Johan Santana. Little did we know that once Santana’s shoulder was ripping away, that Liriano would deem himself just as useless. At the age of 22, Liriano was 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA. He then blew out his elbow and has gone just 40-49 with a 4.75 ERA since returning in 2008. Liriano can’t seem to throw enough strikes to be a consistent starting pitcher, but the stuff is still there, as evidenced by his 9.6 K/9 in 2012, to dominate…or continue to be a headcase.

8. Jorge De La Rosa, LHP, 4/5/1981

54-51, 4.96 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 780.1 IP, 688:383 K:BB

De La Rosa is another gamble, but he showed that he has the stuff to be a very nice mid-rotation starter before his 2011 Tommy John surgery. From 2009 until his injury in 2011, the lefty was 29-18 with a 4.18 ERA and 358:160 K:BB in 365.2 innings. De La Rosa struggled in his career prior to learning how to pitch once landing in Colorado. If he can pitch successfully there, can he do it anywhere? Owed $11 million or a $1 million buyout in 2013, De La Rosa is a great candidate to reach free agency to rebuild his career on an incentive-laden, one-year contract.

9. Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP, 4/12/1981

9-5, 3.16 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 125.1 IP, 101:43 K:BB

Iwakuma is an unknown, having turned down an opportunity to sign with Oakland in 2011 before signing a one-year contract with the Seattle Mariners prior to 2012. Iwakuma could bolt back to Japan or get himself a nice multi-year deal in the states after posting an 8-4 record, 2.65 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over 16 starts for the Mariners down the stretch. He has some mileage on his arm from his days pitching in Japan, but Iwakuma is sure to make more than the $1.5 million that he earned in 2012.

10. Brandon McCarthy, RHP, 7/7/1983

37-39, 4.02 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 654.1 IP, 447:191 K:BB

I would LOVE to have this guy on my team. While there will be concerns about his abilities due to the head trauma that he suffered, and his mobility due to brain surgery, McCarthy is worth a gamble by a contender or a team in need of a top starter. While there is a great deal of risk in signing McCarthy, he has overcome odds before, returning from a broken shoulder to become one of the best pitchers in baseball. Once returning from injury, McCarthy had a new, two-seam fastball that has changed his career, ala Roy Halladay in 2001. He made 11 appearances in 2010 in the minors, signing with the Oakland A’s in 2011, and going on to post a 17-15 record, 3.29 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 281.2 innings (43 starts). If he could just stay on the mound, he would be even more respected than he already is. Here’s to a speedy recovery and a fantastic rebound for a guy who seems like a lot of fun (follow him and his wife on Twitter, they’re hilarious!).

HONORABLE MENTION: Gavin Floyd, RHP ($9.5 million team option); Carlos Villanueva, RHP; Joe Saunders, LHP; Hiroki Kuroda, RHP; Jeremy Guthrie, RHP; Carlos Zambrano, RHP; Kevin Correia, RHP;