A combination of injuries and an anemic offense led to another mediocre season by the Bay.
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade—whether in September (or before), the league division series, league championship series or World Series. It combines an 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.
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Oakland's rotation takes another hit, Hanley hits the DL, John Lackey returns but remains in the woods, and Brian Roberts and Denard Span offer additional opportunities for concussion discussion.
Brett Anderson, OAK (Left elbow soreness)
Oakland's pitching staff took another hit when Anderson went on the 15-day disabled list for soreness in his left elbow. His velocity and the bite on his breaking pitches have decreased bit in the last few weeks, causing the southpaw to fear that he might need Tommy John surgery. It's common to see a loss of velocity with ulnar collateral ligament injuries in pitchers, but usually that loss occurs over a longer period of time than just a few weeks. Anderson hasn't necessarily lost a lot of velocity since the beginning of the year, but he has lost a few miles per hour since 2009.
Anderson made multiple visits to the disabled list with elbow and forearm injuries in 2010. The first stint, for a strain of the flexor tendon, lasted a little over a month. This tendon lies directly over the ulnar collateral ligament of Tommy John fame and helps to absorb some of the forces placed upon the ligament. Anderson made two appearances after returning from that scare before heading back to the disabled list with general elbow inflammation. This time it took him almost two months to come back, but by the time he did, something had changed. His velocity was reduced from what it had been in the second half of 2009, even if his results were still good.
Do early-season phenoms fade once the rest of the league learns to stop giving them pitches to hit?
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, both in the standings and for the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that has been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.
Does Billy Beane's sh*t work in the trainer's room?
The Team Injury Projections are here, driven by our brand new injury forecasting system, the Comprehensive Health Index [of] Pitchers [and] Players [with] Evaluative Results—or, more succinctly, CHIPPER. Thanks to work by Colin Wyers and Dan Turkenkopf and a database loaded with injuries dating back to the 2002 season—that's nearly 4,600 players and well over 400,000 days lost to injury—we now have a system that produces injury-risk assessments to three different degrees. CHIPPER projects ratings for players based on their injury history—these ratings measure the probability of a player missing one or more games, 15 or more games, or 30 or more games. CHIPPER will have additional features added to it throughout the spring and early season that will enhance the accuracy of our injury coverage.
These ratings are also available in the Player Forecast Manager (pfm.baseballprospectus.com), where they'll be sortable by league or position—you won’t have to wait for us to finish writing this series in order to see the health ratings for all of the players.
A few pitchers had very strong springs, and Craig has the details on which ones matter during the regular season.
Fantasy season opens tomorrow, but it’s not too late to consider a couple of starting pitchers who enjoyed strong springs. This article is a complimentary piece to last week’s look at the hot hitters of spring. Almost all of us have drafted our teams for the year, but these pitchers may warrant either a waiver pickup or a trade offer as we prepare for the season to start.
Why what are reported as minor forearm and elbow problems often end in major surgery.
There are few things more frustrating to the uninformed observer (a label I wouldn’t hesitate to apply to myself in this instance) than the DL dance that often precedes a pitcher’s disappearance into ligament-replacement limbo. We’ve all endured that feeling of agonized uncertainty as a player upon whom our chosen team’s playoff hopes rest hangs suspended over the 60-day abyss by a fraying flexor tendon or a lacerated ligament; of course, any anxiety we feel must be little more than a microcosm of the emotional suffering (to say nothing of the physical discomfort) experienced by the ailing athlete himself.
The narrative can unfold in any number of ways. Maybe the protagonist hears the proverbial “pop” and walks off the mound, clutching his arm in pain as a hush descends upon the assembled onlookers. In other cases, he experiences some soreness on his throw day or while warming in the bullpen and doesn’t answer the bell. Grim faces appear in post-game interviews; quite likely our hero has suffered from arm trouble before, and worries all the more by virtue of his familiarity with his foe.
Oakland has quality young pitching but sorely needs some power hitting, along with notes from around the major leagues.
The Athletics for the span of eight seasons from 1999-2006, defied the idea that a small-market team could not consistently contend. They won four American League West titles during that time and made the playoffs as the wild card on two other occasions. General manager Billy Beane's ability to build a team by finding economic inefficiencies in the player market became immortalized in Moneyball, Michael Lewis' seminal book.