Monday, October 27, 2014
Some decisions in life are easy, some are not. Brushing your teeth in the morning is an easy decision because rotted teeth are gross, and nobody likes rotted teeth. Therefore, you get up, every morning, squeeze some Crest onto a toothbrush and scrub scrub scrub. Showering is an easy decision. Nobody wants to smell you, not even you. See, easy decisions. There were a lot of decisions like this that we at Off Base Percentage encountered while filling out the ballots for the BBA Awards. There were also some not as easy decisions in our way. One of them being the Walter Johnson Award for the American League. This was not a get up and brush your teeth decision. This was a "Do I want steak or chicken tonight?" decision.
Friday, October 24, 2014
Oh boy, here we go.
With the news last week of the Dodgers stealing Andrew Friedman, Joe Maddon has also decided to jump the Tampa Bay Rays ship and opt out of his current contract that ran through 2015. Which, according to Jon Heyman, was his right. Yes, I did just link a tweet by Jon Heyman. That's how serious this is.
Monday, October 20, 2014
|Sup? Sup. /head nod Suuuuuuup.|
Here we are. It's the middle of October, and baseball has now finally widdled itself down to its final two teams. As all the experts predicted, the Royals and the Giants will square off on Tuesday to kick off the 111th World Series. What? No one predicted this World Series matchup? OK, maybe they didn't. But, now that we are here, who is really upset about this matchup? That's right. Nobody.
In advance of the Fall Classic, the Czar of Off Base Percentage, MJ Lloyd, and myself are going to kick around the old question ball and see if we can come to a consensus on who will be standing victorious at the end of the World Series. We put on pants for this shindig, so you would know that we mean business. Well, MJ is wearing pants. I'm wearing Spongebob Squarepants pajama pants. But for this exercise, they count as pants.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Once again, it's Baseball Bloggers Alliance award season! It's a lot like the BBWAA award season with different names because they get litigious with their free time. The fine staff here at Off Base will guide you through our ballots over the next few days. Now up, the AL Stan Musial or how Mike Trout learned to stop running and love hitting bombs.
And here we are again. I've been a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance since 2010. Back then I used to have to telefax blog posts from the computer lab at the university. I had to walk eight miles, uphill, in the snow to get there. They were simpler times. The BBA has come a long way since it was founded in 2009. It has over 200 blogs voting on these regular season awards. And I feel confident that for the third consecutive year, the BBA will do what the BBWAA has not been able to do just yet. And that's give Mike Trout another first place finish for being the most valuable baseball player on the planet.
1. Mike Trout
This comes as no surprise. When given the option of voting for Trout, much like being offered Carvel ice cream cake, a reasonable person always jumps at the opportunity. Trout led all of baseball again in Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement. But unlike previous seasons, I can't yammer on about Trout putting up the greatest season ever for his particular age, in this case his 22-year-old baseball year.
His 7.8 fWAR was the worst of his three year career and the first time he dipped below the 10 WAR mark. He made some interesting adjustments in his third full season. Adjustments that hurt him in advanced metrics but will help him win his first BBWAA AL MVP. He struck out a ton. After hanging around a 19-22% strikeout rate, he jumped to 26.1% and finished Sept/Oct with a 32% rate. That said, if you tried to pitch Mike down, like most pitchers are want to do, he destroyed baseballs. Trout set a career high with 36 homers and 111 RBI. And maybe more importantly, the Angels had the best record in baseball making Trout an almost slam dunk for AL MVP.
He did stop running. Only 16 stolen bases compared to 33 last year and 49 in 2012. His AVG fell to .287 after .323 in 2013 and .326 in 2012. The .377 OBP was a career low too after hanging around .400 the previous years. And some of that can be explained by a 27 point drop in BABIP. Also, we're just picking nits here. Nobody is really questioning that Trout is the best in baseball. But now there's a legit scouting report on him and it will be interesting to see how he adjusts next year.
The question about Trout's MVP candidacy will mainly be whether or not he's unanimous. He won't be in the BBWAA because regional writers were dying to make a case for anybody else so Josh Donaldson and Victor Martinez are bound to steal a few votes. I feel slightly more confident in my BBA brethren.
2. Michael Brantley
Brantley has been a solid Major Leaguer for the Indians since 2011. And then in his 26-year-old season, everything came together. Twenty home runs, 23 stolen bases, a .327/.385/.506 line. He was Mike Trout lite in 2014. That's certainly good enough for second. Everybody raise your hand if you had Corey Kluber and Michael Brantley finishing in the top two for AL Cy and MVP. Everybody with their hand up is a dirty, dirty liar.
3. Jose Bautista
Joey Bats continues to be super productive and flies under the radar. Is it because he doesn't hit for a high average? Is it because he's Canadian? I assume players have to convert if they play for Toronto. Maybe we'll never know but Bautista is a beast.
4. Victor Martinez
This begins the portion of the ballot where offense gets the nod over defense. My apologies to Alex Gordon and Josh Donaldson. Four players had a wRC+ (adjusted Weighted Runs Created) over 160 this season. Andrew McCutchen 168, Trout 167, Martinez 166 and Jose Abreu 165. Now, Martinez and Abreu contributed little to negative a lot on the defensive side of the game but you do have to score to win. Martinez hit .335/.409/.565 and I have a weakness for players that reach base over 40% of the time.
5. Jose Abreu
.317/.383/.581 with 36 home runs and can fake first base. I have fantasies about the Cuban defector only signing a one-year deal with the white Sox and being a free agent this winter. What would the bidding look like? I imagine it would be enough to put a nice bid on Cuba when it eventually forecloses.
6. Alex Gordon
What can I say? Elite outfield defense and a .266/.351/.432 line. He might not be the superstar prospect the Royals thought they had but this ain't bad either.
7. Corey Kluber
He was the best pitcher in the AL. By a super thin margin.
8. Felix Hernandez
He was debatably the best pitcher in the AL.
9. Adrian Beltre
Is everybody on board yet? Honestly, do you realize that Beltre is going to the Hall of Fame? He's at 70.8 fWAR. He's the most dependable superstar that few realize is a superstar. I plan on him inviting me to his induction ceremony since I've been on this bandwagon for quite some time.
10. Miguel Cabrera
Or Kyle Seager. But Seager called tails.
LVP. Matt Dominguez
The former Marlins prospect was supposed to have the glove for third base but the bat was questionable. Unfortunately, the glove didn't live up to its billing and the .215/.256.330 line more than lived up to the questionable bat part of the equation. His -1.7 fWAR tied NL LVP Dominic Brown's mark for "ugh."
Once again, it's Baseball Bloggers Alliance award season! It's a lot like the BBWAA award season, just with different names because they litigious with their free time. The fine staff here at Off Base will guide you through our ballots over the next few days. Next up, the 2014 Stan Musial Award for the best player in the National League, or, as I have come to call it: the damnit, pitchers, stop making these decisions difficult award.
MTD and I have been going back and forth with these awards posts, and so far, I have been given really easy assignments as far as listing who I believe deserves whatever award it is I am writing about. Well, you know what they say: at some point, all good things must end. Or easy things. You know what I mean.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Once again, it's Baseball Bloggers Alliance award season! It's a lot like the BBWAA award season with different names because they get litigious with their free time. The fine staff here at Off Base will guide you through our ballots over the next few days. Now up, the AL Walter Johnson or how I learned to stop wondering what team Corey Kluber plays for and love strikeout percentages.
Unlike the full sprint runaway Clayton Kershaw is going to enjoy for National League pitcher of the year, the American League has a coin flip for the top spot and a rock-paper-scissors for three through five. How will I decide? A coin flip and a round of rock-paper-scissors. Are you already not paying attention?
1. Corey Kluber
This was a razor thin decision and conventional wisdom says Felix Hernandez will end up with the award. But Kluber just about matched or bested King Felix in all categories. Kluber had a better K/9 than Hernandez (10.27 to 9.46) with only a slight edge going to the Mariners ace in K/BB (5.39-5.27). Hernandez had the better ERA (2.14 to 2.44) and ERA- (58 to 66). Kluber had the better FIP (2.35 to 2.56) and FIP- (64 to 70). But all this tells us is that both were excellent and not as good as Kershaw. Kluber threw 235.2 innings. Hernandez threw 236 innings. Kluber did lead all pitchers with a 7.2 fWAR with Kershaw's 7.2 fWAR and Hernandez's 6.2 fWAR as runners-up.
I'm taking the slight edge in K/9 and FIP. Also, Kluber plays for Cleveland. Who knew?
2. Felix Hernandez
I've already laid out the argument for Hernandez above. He's most likely going to win the award. He has a Cy Young in his pocket and probably deserved at least another one. But I think the main argument for Felix here is, oh my god, the garlic fries at SafeCo. That's just pure science.
3. Chris Sale
Sale only managed to log 174 innings. And that's the only reason I didn't flip a three sided coin for first place. Some might argue that it's because three sided coins don't exist but let me assure you, it was just the innings. Sale had a 10.76 K/9, second to Kershaw. Sale had a 2.17 ERA, third to Kershaw and Hernandez. Sale had a 2.57 FIP, fourth to Kershaw, Kluber and Hernandez. His 66 FIP- was the only other FIP- under 70 after Kershaw and Kluber.
Sale threw rock for third place and as we know, nothing beats rock.
4. David Price
Price had his best season in several interesting categories. His 6.1 fWAR bested 2012's 4.8 fWAR quite handily. The 2.78 FIP edged last season's 3.03 career high. And his 9.82 K/9 was, surprising to me, a professional best by over one strikeout per nine innings.
Scissors are tough. They cut through things, they're dishwasher safe, you shouldn't run with them but they don't beat rock.
5. Max Scherzer
What did Scherzer do so differently from last season to merit dropping from first to fifth?
Almost nothing. His BABIP went from .259 to .315 which would explain the increase in ERA. Otherwise, pretty much the same guy.
Paper might be the lamest of the trilogy but Scherzer is going to sign a piece this winter that will allow him to buy all the rocks and scissors his heart desires.
LVP: Chris Young
Thank goodness for SafeCo, huh?
Ernesto Frieri could have been the runaway winner here if Angels GM Jerry Dipoto didn't have to trade him to the National League to keep Mike Scioscia using Frieri to pitch batting practice to the American League.
Monday, October 13, 2014
Once again, it's Baseball Bloggers Alliance award season! It's a lot like the BBWAA award season, just with different names because they litigious with their free time. The fine staff here at Off Base will guide you through our ballots over the next few days. Next up, the Walter Johnson Award or, as I like to call it, the Clayton Kershaw is better than you, so everyone line up for second place award.
There really isn't any need for a buildup here. You know who is taking the top spot in this category, so we'll just dive right in to it.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Once again, it's Baseball Bloggers Alliance award season! It's a lot like the BBWAA award season with different names because they get litigious with their free time. The fine staff here at Off Base will guide you through our ballots over the next few days. Now up, the NL Goose Gossage or how I learned to stop rooting for blown saves and love relievers striking out the side.
Like my fellow Off Base writer, Mike "I dare you to pronounce my last name" Hllwya, I like voting for a nice inning eating, dominant non-closer for reliever of the year. But the National League didn't have a Dellin Betances or Wade Davis this year. Pat Neshak or Tyler Clippard, maybe. The top closers in the NL were simply strikeout machines and deserve to be rewarded for the dominant force they displayed across baseball.
1. Aroldis Chapman
Chapman only brought the heat for 54 innings (compared to 90 for Betances) but nobody brings the heat like him. The 2.00 ERA and 0.89 FIP are nice and all but that's not why I have to wear a bib to his Fangraphs page. The 17.67 K/9 doesn't even do him justice. Chapman faced 202 batters in 2014 and 106 of them walked backed to the dugout trying to figure out what happened. I didn't do the research but I'm pretty sure only Henry Rowengartner had more success than that.
2. Craig Kimbrel
Kimbrel recorded 47 saves, struck out 13.86 per 9 with a 1.61 ERA and 1.83 FIP. He's the reliever version of Mike Trout. It's become boring how good he is.
3. Kenley Jansen
Similar to Kimbrel, Jansen has basically been the same reliever for the past three seasons. Which is very good and dependable and not that interesting. Um, he didn't hit a batter this season. First time he didn't do that in his Major League career.
LVR: Rex Brothers
Brothers didn't have the worst fWAR for NL relievers but a 5.59 ERA and 4.98 FIP didn't help his case either. Come to Colorado, you say? The air is thin, you say? Well, that might be true and Brothers was worse at home with a 6.67 ERA but the 4.50 road ERA wasn't a bucket of peaches either. With his 6.23 BB/9, I have an idea for a business venture. Rex Brothers Towing: We'll move your car and walk you home.
Once again, it's Baseball Bloggers Alliance award season! It's a lot like the BBWAA award season, just with different names because they litigious with their free time. The fine staff here at Off Base will guide you through our ballots over the next few days. Next, up the Goose Gossage Award for this year's top reliever or, as I like to call it, the finding a reason to not give the best reliever of the year award to a closer award.
A few years ago, we had the year of the pitcher. Then we had another year of the pitcher, then another, and now another. I believe it is safe to assume that we are securely in the middle of the decade of the pitcher. Or at least the decade of the pitcher relative to the type of offense being displayed in this day in age compared to decades of the pitchers when offense was hard to come by and weak hitters like Maury Wills were championed as being offensive superstars. It doesn't make the position any less volatile due to injury (especially in the case of relievers), but with exceptional performances year-in and year-out from mound-dwelling sphere-hurlers, we should no longer be surprised by some of the gaudy numbers we see on a yearly basis from pitchers. Appreciative? Absolutely. Surprised? No.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Once again, it's Baseball Bloggers Alliance award season! It's a lot like the BBWAA award season with different names because they get litigious with their free time. The fine staff here at Off Base will guide you through our ballots over the next few days. Now up, the Willie Mays or how I learned to stop comparing rookies to Mike Trout and love them bombing.
In this case, the bombing I'm referring to involves baseballs destroyed by Jose Abreu. The AL rookie class was so deep after Abreu this season, I tried to vote for George Springer as a National Leaguer.
1. Jose Abreu
So, Abreu is a 27-year-old Cuban defector and probably shouldn't be eligible for this award but thems the rules. And his six year, $68 million deal with the White Sox has, let's say, 23 other teams kicking themselves for not being more active in the bidding. Abreu crushed Major League pitching to the tune of 36 homers and a .317/.383/.581 line. His 5.3 fWAR (Fangraphs wins above replacement) tied him with Robinson Cano for 20th among position players just a tenth behind Miguel Cabrera. Make it nerdier, you say? His 165 wRC+ put him fourth behind Andrew McCutchen, Trout and Victor Martinez. His .411 wOBA was tied with Martinez for second behind the .412 wOBA that Cutch slugged. He should win Rookie of the Year unanimously and get some top five MVP votes.
2. Masahiro Tanaka
This is where it gets interesting. I'll stand by Tanaka as he lived up to Brian Cashman's billing as a "number three starter" and then some. The arm injury sidelined him and will be a dark cloud for the next year or so since that smell in the air is a looming Tommy John surgery. That smell in the air could also just be New York or fumes from that maple syrup factory we call Vermont.
3. Danny Santana
I can make a case for six more players here. Collin McHough had 154.2 innings of 2.73 ERA and 3.11 FIP ball. Dellin Betances had some pretty insane numbers that we'll get to during the reliever of the year portion of these awards. George Springer left the season early with an injury and Mookie Betts arrived with a late promotion but both are future stars. Matt Shoemaker won 16 games for the Angels and almost threw a no hitter. His wife called Will Middlebrooks a butthole on Twitter for breaking it up. That would be good enough for second most years.
But Santana finished second to Abreu in wRC+ by 32 points. That's how good Abreu was. Santana hit seven homers and stole 20 bases while hitting .319/.353/.472 in 430 plate appearances. He was really good. So good, that that's probably his best.
LVR. Jackie Bradley Jr.
JBJR ain't so good with the bat. The glove plays in center just fine or he never would have made it off of the PawSox team bus. But moving the aforementioned Betts from second to center and signing Cuban Rusney Castillo to a big deal, does not bode well for Bradley's future as a starter in Boston. His .198/.265/.266 slash in 423 plate appearances backs that up. Jon Singleton's 37K% could not be happier for Jackie.
Once again, it's Baseball Bloggers Alliance award season! It's a lot like the BBWAA award season, just with different names because they litigious with their free time. The fine staff here at Off Base will guide you through our ballots over the next few days. Next, up the Willie Mays Award for this year's top rookie. Or, as I like to call it, the future faces of baseball who will never get injured or have bad seasons award.
It was quite the year for rookie ballplayers in Major League Baseball. At least, in the AL it was. In the NL...not so much. There were fast starts that led to complete faceplants, and there were late starts that led to strong finishes. But MTD (who will be supplying the AL ballot) has a much harder decision that yours truly.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Once again, it's Baseball Bloggers Alliance award season! It's a lot like the BBWAA award season with different names because they get litigious with their free time. The fine staff here at Off Base will guide you through our ballots over the next few days. First up, the Connie Mack or how I learned to stop worrying about former players managing and love them bombing.
It appears there are two key ways to win the Connie Mack (cough*manageroftheyear*cough). You can manage a team that is expected to be terrible and then accidentally win 92 games and make the playoffs. Or you can manage a team that does well despite key losses and also make the playoffs. It's a good year to be Buck Showalter if you want a trophy.
1. Buck Showalter
Few had the Orioles flat out winning the AL East, let alone running away with it. The O's lost debatably talented Matt Weiters at catcher, stud youngster Manny Machado at third to injuries and Chris Davis to a suspension even though he had regressed all the way back to his Arlington days. Showalter led the team to a 96-66 record, good for second in the American League, and tied for second in baseball. I feel like it was done with a lot of smoke and mirrors as the Orioles starting staff had the 28th best FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) in MLB and the bullpen ranked 15th in FIP. Still, Zach Britton emerged as a lockdown closer. Nelson Cruz blasted 40 homers, Adam Jones did his thing and Steve Pearce was resurrected from the dead.
How much credit does Showalter deserve? Probably not much. But it was incredibly difficult trying to find a pic of him not pointing at something.
2. Terry Francona
It's not that I don't respect or care about these awards. But Manager of the Year is so hard to determine, I might have voted for Francona when he worked for ESPN one year. For example, when does a manager deserve credit for a player turning a corner? I don't know. But Corey Kluber led baseball pitchers in fWAR (Fangraphs wins above replacement) and Michael Brantley finished third in fWAR behind Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen.
3. Mike Scioscia
Leading the Angels to the best record in baseball is reason enough to make the AL ballot. But there's a little more to it in my eyes this year. The Angels scored the most runs in baseball. Scioscia actually managed the team he was given instead of forcing his small ball approach on a Jerry Dipoto built roster. It's an old dog learning new tricks scenario that must have made his skin crawl. And for that, he gets a third place vote from me. That said, Dipoto had to trade Ernesto Frieri away from the skipper to keep Frieri from serving up enough meatballs to cure world hunger.
LVM. Ron Washington
Washington resigned on Sept 5 citing personal reasons and later declared he was embarrassed after not being true to his wife of 42 years. Those are certainly his issues to deal with and I don't care to speculate any further. Finishing below the Astros in the AL West is plenty embarrassing enough.
Once again, it's Baseball Bloggers Alliance award season! It's a lot like the BBWAA award season, just with different names because they litigious with their free time. The fine staff here at Off Base will guide you through our ballots over the next few days. First up, the Connie Mack, or, how I learned to stop agonizing over whether or not a manager really has as much control over a team's performance as I believe they do.
What a strange season in the National League this year. 15 teams in the league, and only six finished with records better than .500. At least they made this ballot a little bit easier to fill out than the AL where you could have conceivably chosen from any number of managers to take the top spot. Not like it really matters anyway, these are the managers, their affect on the outcome of a baseball game is magnified by fans and media members, but I'm not totally convinced that they really make as big of an impact as we like to believe that they do. With that being said, here's the Off Base ballot for the Connie Mack Award in the National League.