With All-Star selection around the corner, the BP staff fills out their ballots for who deserves to start in the Midsummer Classic.
It’s July, and that means another All-Star Game, one which—we might as well get this out of the way now—won’t be as exciting as those wonderful old All-Star Games when important things happened, like Ted Williams breaking his elbow and Dizzy Dean breaking a toe (Williams said he was never the same hitter; Dean destroyed his arm with altered mechanics) and Ray Fosse getting run over because damn it, Pete Rose just had to win an exhibition game.
(It is at times like these that I like to recall Mickey Mantle’s immortal words on the subject of Rose: “If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete, I’d wear a dress.”)
Though Buck Showalter's crew is currently faltering, Baltimore has reason to hope for a better record.
The Orioles' collection of high-upside young starters—Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta, and Chris Tillman—was supposed to be the team's ticket out of irrelevance, the prescription to help the once model franchise end a humiliating streak of 13 consecutive losing seasons. Yet several recent headlines suggest a staff going to seed. Matusz, the most established of the group, left his latest start after retiring only four out of 13 hitters, with his average velocity down as much as four miles per hour. Britton, whose arrival in the majors was accelerated by Matsuz's two-month absence due to an intercostal strain, will skip a turn in an effort to limit his workload, conjuring images of the Yankees' futile machinations involving Joba Chamberlain. Finally, the club announced that pitching coach Mark Connor had resigned due to personal reasons, with bullpen coach Rick Adair taking over. Collectively, these stories paint a picture of an organization struggling mightily to develop young pitchers as they fumble along just below .500 (31-35) and last in the AL East, but pitching isn't what's keeping the Orioles down.
The Orioles' health came together late last season, but can it be preserved from the start in 2011?
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.
Value Picks heading into the All-Star break, along with some returning injuries
Heading out of the VP portfolio is Ronny Paulino, who seems to finally be falling back to earth. With last week's morbid 2-for-16 performance, Paulino's season AVG has dropped to .282, and his OBP and SLG are beginning to look eerily familiar to PECOTA's projected line. With his power looking more and more like his career before 2009, a .270 AVG may not be enough to warrant play. He had started 24 straight games before getting a breather on July 4th, so some of this regression may be a result of fatigue from wearing the tools of ignorance for an extended period of time. VP will keep an eye on him, but drop him off the list for now.
The Rickey conversation takes new turns, answering who's least like the speedster among active players, and most like him historically.
Rickey Henderson's much-anticipated Hall of Fame induction speech may have disappointed those who yearned for a proclamation of all-time greatness, perhaps accompanied by a bronze plaque hoisted high overhead. Instead, Henderson took his place among the game's greats with a performance on Sunday that balanced humor and humility, with nary a third-person reference to be heard.
What's been achieved and what can be done by one man's preseason-ranked 16-30 teams.
Do enough preview pieces, and you start to run into issues of keeping the format fresh and interesting, both for the readers and for yourself. For my second-half preview, running today and tomorrow, I'm going to do something I don't do often, which is use it to review my previous work. I often get requests to look back at my own predictions and explain why I was wrong about something (never to explain why I was right, I'm afraid), and I try to restrict that to one piece a year. The idea is that I'm writing about baseball, not about some guy's predictions, and I think you can unconsciously get into some bad habits if you self-check too much.