The best team in the AL takes on the Wild Card champ Royals in a matchup of aggressive managers, lopsided team rosters, and teams who have employed Raul Ibanez this year.
Here’s something I learned about the Angels’ fanbase while covering the team five years ago: They hated Rob Neyer. Not for the usual reasons that everybody hates everybody else these days, but because, in the late 1970 and the 1980s, the Angels and Royals were legit rivals. In 1978 and 1979, each team won the AL West once—and finished second once. 1982, the Angels won and the Royals finished second; in 1984 and 1985, the Royals took the crown, and the Angels were in both years the runner-up. In 1986, the Angels took it, and the Royals were third. They hated each other, so much so that Angels fans still hold it against Neyer that he was a Royals fan at the time and, to their view of the world, must hate them. Of course, since then Kansas City and Anaheim have moved farther from each other on the map; the former is now in the Midwest, if you can believe it, so there is no division rivalry, but this week will surely revive some of the old feuds.
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A look at the A's third baseman's 2014 campaign and what the future holds for him.
Ben Carsley got our Playoff Spotlight series kicked off on Tuesday with a breakdown of Eric Hosmer. At the time this is being written, Oakland is still in the playoffs. Of course, so is Kansas City, as the game hasn’t started, so players from both clubs are technically still fair game. I actually expect Oakland to win so they’d still be in the playoffs when this is posted, but you’ll forgive me if they aren’t, I hope. Let’s stay on the hitting side and take a look at Josh Donaldson from the A’s.
A first-round pick back in 2007 (48th overall by CHC), Donaldson was a tertiary part of the Rich Harden deal in July of 2008. He started out behind the dish, but also saw time at the four corners (1B, 3B, LF, and RF) in the Oakland farm system. He spent two years in Kevin Goldstein’s second 10 for the Athletics prospects with power as the carrying tool, though it didn’t grade at a plus level.
I tried to think of some clever way to start this recap; something about Ned Yost, Billy Beane, or Moneyball. Nope. None of that would do justice to a game that was, at its heart, baseball in its purest form.
What to watch for in this postseason? Things three standard deviations away from the mean, obviously.
There’s a toy over at Brooks Baseball—well, he probably wouldn’t call it a toy, but I use it as a toy—that I just love. For each pitch thrown by each pitcher, it assigns a “scouting scale” number for certain characteristics and results: velocity, movement, release point, whiff rate, groundball rate, etc. As you know, on the 20-80 scouting scale, 50 is average and each standard deviation represents 10 points up or down the scale. For instance, Aroldis Chapman’s average fastball velocity is a bit more than three standard deviations from the average left-hander's, so, per Brooks, his fastball velocity is assigned an 84 (lol) on the scouting scale. Dallas Keuchel’s groundball rate on his sinker is nearly three standard deviations higher than the typical lefty sinkerl in that specific aspect, it gets a 79. It’s a toy, of course, because that’s not to say Keuchel’s sinker is an 80 pitch, or that a scout would put an 80 on it, or that you should put an 80 on it; it’s just that, statistically, in this one aspect of it, compared to other pitchers, in the period of time surveyed, his was thatfar from normal.
The Giants and the Pirates play at 8:07 Eastern today; the winner gets the Nationals.
Thanks to the Milwaukee Brewers’ second-half collapse, the playoff picture was pretty clear in the National League in the last few weeks, the only question being whether the Pirates could steal the division from the Cardinals with a late push. The Cardinals held on, so for the second year in a row the Pirates will host the NL Wild Card game at PNC Park, this time against the San Francisco Giants.
With the end of the regular season comes the start of awards season, kicking off debates over the ballplayers who had the most remarkable performances in 2014. MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year—these are the mainstream awards that will be wrestled over the next month—but here at Raising Aces we like to acknowledge another set of awards: the best stuff of the past season.
The A's stumbled into the postseason, but they may have the edge on the hill and in the dugout against the Royals.
With their poor second half, the Athletics fumbled away the AL West and gifted home-field advantage to the Royals for Tuesday night's AL Wild Card game. As a result, Kauffman Stadium will host its first postseason contest since 1985 against, fittingly enough, the franchise that used to call Kansas City home. In our comprehensive Wild Card preview, we'll try to determine which team will advance to face the Angels for entrance to the ALCS. (Note: Neither team's Wild Card roster is set, so we'll update the article when the names are officially announced.)
Why the Kyle Lohses of the game are something we should aspire to, and will aspire to.
When I was initially hired at Baseball Prospectus—two months ago—I was thrilled. I couldn’t wait to write my first piece as a full-time employee. Then came the realization that my start date was two months away and, well, you’re probably aware that when given too long to ponder a piece, sometimes writers tend to overthink things.
Then my father-in-law pointed out that Joe Hamrahi wrote a piece in which I was described as a “super-recruit.” Super-recruit? Me? Yes, some writers tend to have a tough outer shell, displaying an image of self-assured confidence, but on the inside we’re all neurotic disasters, terrified that we’ll run out of ideas or that the next piece we write will expose us as the uninformed frauds we are. Or even worse, everyone has already been well aware that I’m awful and this job is all an elaborate sham to embarrass me in some dramatic Carrie-like situation.