Pinpointing the positions with the worst projections on this season's likely contending clubs.
Every year, several teams finish out of the playoffs by a handful of games, close enough to taste October but just as ineligible for post-season play as the lowliest of last-place finishers. Last season, the Red Sox and Braves were both eliminated on the season’s final day after watching what had seemed to be safe leads evaporate. Since a one-game swing for either team would have meant a much different outcome, it was tempting to look back and wonder where in the lineup they could have eked out an extra victory.
As Jay Jaffenoted in January, right field proved to be a particular weak point for both teams. Braves right fielder Jason Heyward slumped to a .254 True Average (TAv) in an injury-plagued sophomore season, and his replacements—primarily Eric Hinske, Joe Mather, and Jose Constanza—hit only .252/.294/.346 in his absence. In Boston, J.D. Drew added a 60-day DL stint for a left shoulder impingement to his lengthy injury history and hit just .222/.315/.302 when active. His replacements—mainly Josh Reddick, Darnell McDonald, and Mike Cameron—made Heyward’s look good, mustering only a .234/.282/.377 line. As a result, Braves right fielders accumulated 0.6 WARP, and Red Sox right fielders checked in at 1.3 WARP. It’s reasonable to wonder whether both teams would have made the playoffs with even average (roughly 2.0 WARP) production in right.
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Jay looks at the Dodgers' deadline deals and wonders what they were thinking when they traded Travyon Robinson.
It's fair to say the Dodgers aren't accustomed to selling at the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline. The last time they were lousy enough to go into the deadline far enough removed from a playoff spot to be sellers was 19 years ago when they were en route to 99 losses: their worst season in 83 years. Not that they hadn't failed to recognize the need to do so last summer when they were seven games back in the NL West and 5 1/2 games back in the Wild Card; a more honest assessment of their chances would have had general manager Ned Colletti selling off parts in exchange for prospects. This week, the Dodgers finally got a chance to see Colletti doing just that, and the sum of his moves and non-moves was enough to make a fan pine for the days of Octavio Dotel.
Famed Mudville Nine slugger admits to steroids use during April 1 press conference.
MUDVILLE – Mighty Casey has struck out again. In a shocking revelation, the legendary slugger known to generations from the poem bearing his name admitted yesterday that he had used anabolic steroids during his playing career.
A more evenly matched series than it may appear at first glance, and one whose outcome may be decided in the trenches.
Is this "the year" for the loyal legions of Cubs fans? Disappointment comes a little more frequently in Wrigleyville the last two decades. It used to be that just mentioning years like "1969" or "1984"—without providing a single detail—could cause a confidently well-perched fan in your nearest hoodie to tumble from his stool in despair. That's no longer the case, not when we get to muck through the messier details of what hurt worst lately, the humiliatingly quick exits in 1989, 1998, and 2007, or the more elaborately agonizing NLCS loss in 2003, or their more infamous losses involving black cats or Leo Durocher or Gatorade-soaked gloves or Steve Garvey. Whatever the self-reinforcing certainty in circulation in the city that this year will be different, the Cubs come into the postseason with a team that makes for a study in contrasts when it comes to its assets: a broad and deep collection of hitters to attack the other team's pitchers with, balanced against a stars-and-scrubs pitching staff that runs perhaps no more than six men deep before you start getting into trouble.
Though we had fewer trades this week than we've had in recent years, we did have more big-ticket trades, beginning with the CC Sabathia-to-Milwaukee deal, and culminating in the Manny Ramirez blockbuster trade to the Dodgers. This was overall a fairly satisfying trade period, even if there were more fizzles than trades on deadline day Thursday. When evaluating these deals from a fantasy perspective, often it's the ancillary effects that are the most interesting. After all, there's not much to analyze in terms of what Ramirez, Mark Teixeira, Jason Bay, or even Casey Kotchman might do. We'll instead train the vast majority of our focus on how the rest of the dominoes fall, starting with the two major deals on Saturday.
Sometimes the line between the two gets particularly thin.
I spent Game Seven of the ALCS talking about the game with a bunch of BP readers in our chat module, and you can see a lot of the first-take reactions to the game's events there. Today, I want to look back at the game through the people who mattered the most, in some rough order of importance.
Three hitters have torpedoed the Indians' offense this year. Two of them should be sent packing.
The popular point of view on the Indians, at least the one expressed by the sports bar denizens that I caught portions of the Indians-White Sox series with this past weekend, is that nobody on the team can hit at all, as though some undetected toxic swamp gas had arisen off of Lake Erie, preventing each and every Indians hitter from achieving his destiny. There are some possible sabermetric spins on this theory too. Perhaps there is some effect in which the underachieving of one hitter tends to lead to underachieving among other hitters? Perhaps the team isn't getting the opposing starter's pitch counts high enough? Perhaps the lack of runners on base triggers other hitters to swing for the fences and try to be a hero, thereby compounding the problem?
Following up on yesterday's article, here is the definitive list of every transaction made at last weekend's Mock Winter Meetings in Chicago. The list of moves includes a blockbuster trade for Mark Teixeira, cheap contracts for Trot Nixon and Juan Gonzalez, and a surprise new home for Vladimir Guerrero.