Keeping opportunities away from the worst of your crew is simply something good managers should do.
In September of 1975, Orioles manager Earl Weaver took a new approach to the platoon concept. Instead of alternating lineups based on throwing arms or batted-ball tendencies, Weaver decided to maximize his offense and defense at the same position within the same inning. It may sound complicated, but the execution is genius for its simplicity.
Weaver waited until rosters expanded before putting his plan into motion. Shortstop Mark Belanger could really pick the ball, but his at-bats left something to be desired: good results. During a stretch of road games, as an adaptation, Weaver placed the shortstop position at the top of the order, but Belanger would not enter the game until the bottom of the first. Weaver essentially used a pinch-hitter up front in his lineup. Although the player, Royle Stillman, officially started the game, Belanger would play all of the defensive opportunities and run the bases when Stillman reached. By doing so, Weaver took away a plate appearance from one of his worst hitters while maintaining his defense’s integrity.
Sizing up the shortstop market and who has been on the move this winter.
One of the most over-worked tropes of the last three seasons has been the newly assigned importance of defense, as if fielding had been suddenly forgotten or overlooked or undervalued. Where there used to be the suggestion that much—perhaps too much—of sabermetrics was the art of documenting the previously observed, to some extent I wonder if these phenomena are more appropriately chalked up to the need to discover, as opposed to making real discoveries. After all, everyone likes being the first to notice something, and if there wasn't really anything there, well, it was news in 2008, so it has to be newsworthy, right?
A mid-level list of available bargains, hidden values, and sensible signings.
Extensive lists that rank most or all of the players on the free-agent market are all the rage, as is predicting where each player will go and for how much and how long. I love reading these pieces myself, but I have a hard time writing them. After the top 10-15 names or so, the rankings become very context-sensitive. What did the comps above him go for? Who's left below him? What teams have holes to fill? Where's the depth in the free-talent markets?
As in the AL, the Central division is as tight as can be, while in the East two Mets are predicted to take home some hardware along with their division flag.
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 National League, along with the staff picks in some fun miscellaneous categories.
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, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.