A visual breakdown of the players at this premium position, based on their projected stats for the 2014 season.
For a primer on this series, click here. (Note: this is based off the PECOTA projections from the annual).
The first thing that popped out to me as I was doing this graph was how well rounded Ian Desmond projects to be. Desmond helps out across all five standard categories while dominating none of them. The other thing that pops out is how there are still usable options through the upper portion of the tier-two rankings, and even a guy like Jonathan Villar has his uses down toward the bottom.
The Dodgers are poised on the precipice of a winning record for the first time since April.
The Wednesday Takeaways
With 30 teams in the major leagues, there are 435 possible matchups, and—since there are no ties in baseball—870 possible results. Entering play on Wednesday night, 869 of those outcomes had, at some point in history, been recorded. But the Pirates had never beaten the Athletics. They had played 11 times, including twice earlier this week, and the A’s had won each one.
Finally, in their 12th crack at the green and gold since 2002, the Buccos came out on top. Clint Hurdle’s club, which—now just 28 wins shy of the franchise’s first winning season in two decades—is well on its way to a more significant bit of history, rode the left shoulder of Francisco Liriano to a 5-0 shutout in the series finale.
The Yankees pull off another exciting comeback behind Raul Ibanez, only to lose both Game One and Derek Jeter a few innings later.
A few innings after Raul Ibanez solidified his True Yankee™ status with yet another ninth-inning, game-tying home run, seemingly setting the stage for an inevitable extra-innings win, the Yankees lost Game One. They also lost a leader and a pretty good player, leaving them looking much more vulnerable than they did a day ago. Here are three things to think about before Game Two gets underway.
Can the Yankees rebound to take Game Two without their star shortstop?
After a spirited ninth-inning rally, the Yankees lost Game One—and Derek Jeter, who fractured his ankle and will miss the rest of the postseason—in the 12th inning. Can Joe Girardi’s team bounce back and prevent the Tigers from racing out to a 2-0 lead? To answer that question, here are the PECOTA odds and projected starting lineups for Game Two.
The "we" debate is a weirdly durable one among those of us who enjoy meta-baseball arguments, those fights that aren't so much about the game as they are about how we interact with it. You'll see the topic spring up on Twitter every so often, as surely as you will discussion of the serial comma, The Wave, and whether Budweiser is an acceptable alternative to water for adult humans. By "the 'we' debate," I mean the question of whether it is "OK" for fans to refer to a team as "we." "We won last night, but it was awfully close;" "We need some power in the heart of the order if we're going to make any noise in the playoffs;" "We stink."
My experience of the two sides of the debate is that many people feel strongly that the "we" is illegitimate, a putting on airs, a usurpation of the rightful ownership of the victories of the men who actually play the game. Those who say "we," by contrast, seem often to not be wedded to the word so much as they are following long-formed mental pathways. They know they're not on the team, and I imagine most of them will admit that no matter how loud they cheer, they don't really have any effect on the field. But they say "we" and they see their use of the word as harmless. The players know full well who drove in the game-winning run, after all, and the first general manager who will be fooled into giving a fan a seven-figure deal to yell real loud hasn't been born yet.
Why are shortstops so bad this year, and does it mean anything for the future?
We know that positional strength comes and goes in cycles, like most other things in life. The early and mid-90s were great for first basemen and elite starting pitchers, the late 90s and early aughts for shortstops. The time since then has mostly been dominated by Albert Pujols, but it’s been pretty excellent for outfielders and second basemen, too. We can debate those classifications, I suppose, but you get the idea.
Over the last few years, though, I’d argue that the fates have shaken things out more or less evenly. In 2010, the MLB top 20 position players by WARP included at least one of every position but catcher (Joe Mauer came in at 22); in 2011, the top 12 had one at every position. The top 20 for 2012 includes 11 outfielders, three third basemen, three catchers, two second basemen, and, shockingly, just one first baseman. I’m pretty sure that each of the last three seasons has been branded the Year of the Pitcher at one point or another, but I’m not sure that’s totally justified, either; there are great pitchers, of course, but not so many or so dominant that they seem to dominate the sport.