Breaking down the 2013 interleague schedule for all 30 teams. What teams are forced to deviate from their regular roster/lineup construction for the longest stretch of the year?
With the Astros finally moved into the American League, we have a very different interleague schedule this year. Not only does it mean that there is now at least one interleague series happening each day of the season, from April to October, it also means that the "rivalry weekends" that were the highlights of the interleague schedule fifteen years ago have been re-shaped. Additionally, the newly balanced divisions mean that, outside of the rivalry games, all teams in a given division can play the exact same teams as their divisional opponents. No longer do the schedule makers have to worry about a six-team division matching up with a four-team division.
So how did the schedule makers do? Did the schedule turn out as balanced as can be? Were they able to ensure that teams from any one division would have the same opponents as their division-mates? Were all clubs given the same number of interleague matches or did some lucky squad or two end up a series short? One thing to remember here is that, with interleague games happening all year long instead of on two or three specific weekends, clubs are now on unequal footing when it comes to setting their rosters for the change in league rules. If one team, for example, only ever has to worry about forcing their pitchers to hit one weekend a month, they are probably in a better situation than the club forced to suddenly remove their all-star DH for nine straight games. National League clubs playing in American League ballparks will have similar problems in trying to add a DH for extended periods of time.
Paring his VP list down to five, Michael looks at Arizona's new third baseman and some overperforming infielders in Playing Pepper.
We try to have at least five players on our VP lists, though at times I’ve had as many as seven. Things are a bit leaner now, so I’m cutting back to five again, but there are plenty of gambles to be found in Playing Pepper for owners more desperate for an immediate fix. If you want to talk about some of these players, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, Asian players (all specialties of mine), or really anything fantasy-related, be sure to come to my first BP chat this Thursday at 2 PM EST (11 AM PT).
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Detailing some of the major panels at the first SABR Analytics Conference and soaking in some spring training action.
I can't do full justice to my trip to Arizona to participate in the inaugural SABR Analytics Conference, which took place from March 15-17 in Mesa, Arizona. Five days in all, part work, part working vacation—and rarely just vacation—the trip was pure sensory overload, a full immersion in a corner of the baseball universe with which I am quite familiar, but one whose size and scope have grown larger than I ever imagined. I couldn't possibly absorb it all, but what follows here and in the second installment is my best attempt to capture some of what I experienced.
Playing in fall and winter leagues have helped some prospects to raise their stock heading into 2012.
Winter leagues can serve a variety of purposes. Sometimes players are sent there to get extra playing time due to injuries, sometimes players are sent there to be showcased, and sometimes players go on their own to places like Venezuela and the Dominican Republic to earn a little extra cash. While the small samples and inconsistent competition levels can produce dangerous assumptions, there are still plenty of players who have seen their stock rise during this offseason due to a combination of performance and scouting reports.
The Diamondbacks owed much of their surprising success to staying healthy, but
The end of the year brings joy to some teams—here’s looking at you, Cardinals—but for most it’s an offseason of “coulda, shoulda, wouldas.” Many of those regrets have to do with injuries, which regularly rob teams of their full potential. Everyone understands that injuries affect how the season plays out, but the extent to which they impact the outcome is harder to grasp. This season saw races come down to the wire in both leagues, with the Cardinals continuing their improbable run through the playoffs to become World Series champs. How much easier would that have been for them if Adam Wainwright had been healthy? Would a healthy Daisuke Matsuzaka have made the difference in the AL East for the Red Sox? These questions and more will be answered as we break down each division over the next few weeks, starting with the NL West, home of two of the five teams with the most disabled list transactions.
In order to determine what teams were hurt most by injuries this year, we needed to get down to the only thing that matters in the end: wins. Lost salary doesn’t tell us how injuries affected a team in the standings, but the significance of the wins lost to a team due to injury is clear. We decided that calculating the WARP generated by each injured player on a per-plate-appearance basis from 2009-2011 and multiplying by the number of plate appearances his injuries cost him this season would give us what we were looking for.
With word that Jed Hoyer will be joining Theo Epstein in Chicago, the Padres have a familiar face sliding into the GM chair.
With Padres GM Jed Hoyer headed to the Cubs in the same capacity under former boss Theo Epstein, another Epstein protégé, Josh Byrnes, takes over in San Diego. Although Hoyer's tenure didn't last as long as anyone expected, he made a few key moves that will help shape the course of the franchise.
The future suddenly looks a lot brighter in the desert
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade—whether in September (or before), the division series, league championship series or World Series. It combines a broad overview from Baseball Prospectus, a front-office take from former MLB GM Jim Bowden, a best- and worst-case scenario ZiPS projection for 2012 from Dan Szymborski, and Kevin Goldstein's farm system overview.
The D'backs and Brew Crew series has been a tale of offensive displays.
From day one, we all knew that the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Milwaukee Brewers were two very similar teams, with the key similarities being their big-time power and an affinity for their home ballparks. The way the series has played out these last few days, then, shouldn't be a surprise at all.
The Brewers handily took care of business on their home turf over the weekend, outscoring Arizona 13-5 in the two Miller Park games. Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder led that assault, with the duo going 9-for-16 with a pair of home runs. When Monday's travel day rolled around, the talk of the series was about nothing but "Beast Mode" and Milwaukee's stars possibly leading the Brew Crew to their first World Series in 29 years.
While the Giants flounder further from contention, the Diamondbacks continue to rise, largely thanks to their record against losing teams.
Through September 4, Arizona leads the division by seven games with 22 remaining. Although the Diamondbacks have earned their success by playing better than everyone else in the division for an extended period of time—Jay Jaffe has extolled the team's considerable virtues—they also have taken advantage of weaker opponents in a way that the Giants have not.
The varying points at which teams struggle and thrive during the game may hint at when they should use their top relievers.
One aspect of baseball that has long fascinated me is the ebb and flow within a game. A concept such as momentum may seem as old school and out of touch as that of luminiferous ether, but fluctuations do occur. Others will decide whether such shifts are the result of mysterious forces at work or are mere bits of randomness interspersed throughout a given contest. We are looking at outcomes here, not hypothesizing about some greater meaning.
While you will burn your neck and suffer heat stroke watching prospects develop in the Arizona League, there is a small oasis of potential stars that makes the pilgrimage worth it.
It’s hard to sell complex league baseball to the masses: The talent is immature, the names are merely names, the jerseys are often vague and free of personal identification, the environment is isolated and empty, and the theater of the event is off-off-off-off Broadway. But I’m going to give it a try.
What will it take to get you to walk away with a piece of Arizona League baseball in your hand? Financing is available for those who qualify, and if you wilt under the weight of my smile, I might be able to throw in a refrigerator magnet, or a flavored lolly for the little ones. Let me know if I can be of any assistance. I think you would look great with some AZL action in your life. It makes you attractive to the sex of your choosing. Don’t be shy. Here at Baseball Prospectus, we offer the best package. Don’t be fooled. You can’t match our guarantees. Look around, and let me know if you have any questions. My door is as open as my saccharine smile. Let’s make a deal.