It looked like a prime candidate for a blowout, and that's exactly what happened.
Unlike Jim's twice-weekly oeuvre, in which he previews both top-notch
match-ups and lopsided potential laughers, GotW was meant to pick choice
battles, riveting team match-ups, interesting pitching
battles--something compelling. The other mandate of GotW, however, is that
every team must be covered at least once during the season. Since a
Royals/Devil Rays breakdown could cause narcolepsy among non-members of
the Gotay and Cantu families, a Show-Me State tilt seemed appropriate.
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The Braves pulled out a squeaker in a matchup of a veteran starter and a young pitcher making his second major-league start.
CF Willy Taveras
2B Eric Bruntlett
3B Morgan Ensberg
LF Mike Lamb
1B Jose Vizcaino
RF Jason Lane
SS Adam Everett
C Raul Chavez
P Ezequiel Astacio
If I gave you no other information, what would you deduce from
NL Central rivals...err...acquaintances collide as the Pirates take on the Cubs in the Prospectus Game of the Week.
Of course there was more at stake Sunday than two teams fighting to see who finishes a distant second behind the Cardinals. The Pirates were taking the worst offense in the league into the game; averaging just three runs a contest, their futility offered the allure of plastic surgery gone horribly wrong (coming up next...on Fox!). Their lineup features more 100-somethings than a Matlock convention.
Game of the Week kicks off the regular season with a look at the traditional Opening Day game in Cincinnati, as the Reds battle the Mets.
Barely a minute into the broadcast, Morgan is in playoff form. First he takes the Reds to task for batting Ken Griffey Jr. second, saying he should be a middle-of-the-order hitter with his ability. OK, fine. And then: "Griffey's due for some good luck...I think you'll see Griffey hit 40 or 50 home runs this year." Uh, the same guy who tears his hamstrings if he so much as contemplates the works of Kant, the same Griffey who hit 41 homers...in the last three years combined? If you squint really hard, you can see a fruit basket by Morgan's side in the press box, with the inscription: "The check's in the mail, Your Old Pal, Ken Griffey, Sr."
The Florida Marlins are headed back to the World Series. Jonah Keri tells you how and why.
Don't let that shock you. Let that free you. Let that liberate you. In a National League that features nothing close to a dominant team, this promises to be a year of wackiness.
To understand why the Marlins will win the National League pennant, take a look at their top players. Miguel Cabrera, Mike Lowell and Carlos Delgado in the lineup. Josh Beckett, A.J. Burnett and Dontrelle Willis in the rotation. No team in the National League sports such trios both in the heart of the batting order and at the top of the starting rotation. It's that star power that's going to win the league for the Fish.
Jonah Keri checks in on five breakout players to watch, via the New York Sun.
Still, one area where we do particularly well is in forecasting breakout players. Baseball Prospectus's projection system, PECOTA, combines weighted three-year statistical averages of player performance with such biographical information as age, height, and weight to produce a range of likely outcomes for more than 1,500 major league and minor league players every year. Last year's success stories included Cincinnati's Wily Mo Pena and Adam Dunn, and Minnesota's Johan Santana.
Now we're back for another round, combining PECOTA's forecasts with a dash of common sense. In compiling this list of five breakout players to watch for in 2005, we incorporated players ranging from several categories. Some are established major leaguers ready to take the next step toward stardom. Others are younger players, getting their first shot at a full year of starting duty. Still others are complementary players, lesser-known but skilled commodities ready to step in and do the dirty work.
Jonah Keri recounts how BP's Player Forecast Manager matched up against 12 wily rivals at the recent NL LABR experts fantasy baseball draft.
Hosted by Sports Weekly's John Hunt, the League of Alternative Baseball Reality brings together some of the brightest and nicest guys in the fantasy baseball biz. It also includes several "regular guys," as LABR calls them--home league heroes invited to join the table, all smart as a whip, many of whom could recite more words from the latest edition of BP than I can. Baseball Prospectus has been a more recent invitee to the dance; it took six months of counseling before we could accept the concept of wins and RBI not being abominations on the world of baseball statistics. Since then, it's been a fun annual experience.
This would be my second LABR experience. Heading into last year's draft, I planned to follow much the same strategy I did in the 2003 Tout Wars National League draft: use the PECOTA Player Forecast Manager as a guide, and look for value picks where bidding stopped several dollars short of the PFM's predicted dollar value. The strategy worked better in 2003--when Nate Silver, Will Carroll and I teamed to finish second--than it did in '04--when I finished a decent but uninspiring fifth out of 13 teams. The difference lay mostly in execution: while the plan was the same both years, the in-draft dynamics fell in such a way that 2003 offered more bargains and fewer misses than my 2004 LABR team. (I also did a better job of landing quality free agents off the wire in '03, bolstering the roster throughout the year).
Jonah Keri debuts his new Prospectus Game of the Week column with a trip to Arizona for an A's-Angels spring training tilt.
Now, I'm trying something new. This marks the debut of Prospectus Game of the Week. Starting the first week of the regular season and running through to season's end, I'll be highlighting one game a week. Big pitching match-ups, hot-button topics and random asides will come together to reveal the game behind the game, the bigger stakes beyond a single win or loss.