Sometimes you think big. You have hypotheses or theories about how the game of baseball works in some fundamental way or you have a deep analysis of a player or a team or transaction that shines a light nobody has yet shined.
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Which men of misery prevented their teams from escaping the murky waters of suckitude?
My semiannual Replacement-Level Killers series spotlights the worst holes in contenders' lineups, as well as the possible remedies they might take to avoid letting such subpar production destroy their post-season chances the next time around. I make no claims for this companion series being so noble in purpose. Because bad baseball so often makes for good copy, it's more fun to hunt the fish at the bottom of the major-league barrel to find the positions where players' contributions could be considered the worst in the majors. What follows is an "all-star" team of players who have produced tornado-level disasters amid their lineups, often at salaries that represented far more than just a soft breeze running through their team's bank account. Once again, I present the Vortices of Suck.
In case you missed Mike Fast's extraordinary research into quantifying the heretofore hidden contributions of catchers, we're moving it back to the top of the list for the weekend.
I Was Framed Catchers play a central role in the game of baseball through their involvement with every pitch that their pitchers throw. One of their key tasks is receiving borderline pitches without discouraging the umpire from calling strikes.
The Twins have been bitten by ineffectiveness and the injury bug this year, but it didn't take a magic 8 ball to foresee some of their season's troubles.
I touched on the Twins a bit over on the SweetSpot on Thursday morning, but they're a fun topic, and I can expand on it here. My hope is that you're willing to indulge me, even as the Twins retreat from San Francisco after a pair of losses to the world champs. They're 15-5 this month, so they still rate as one of baseball's hottest teams, and in a division where nobody's a good bet to win 90, they're worth listing among the living.
It started out as the Wake and Bake show at Fenway Park on Friday night, and in the end it was the Red Sox and Terry Francona quaking in the throes of a blowout loss to the Twins. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and his manager were sent to the showers by the fifth, Scott Baker was strong through eight, and Minnesota prevailed 9-2. It was Boston’s third-straight defeat, while the visitors won their third in a row.
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.
The Twins and Yankees meet yet again in the first round of the postseason but Minnesota has home field advantage this time.
As they did last year as well as 2003 and 2004, the Twins run squarely into the Yankee juggernaut in the first round. Unlike those other three meetings, they have home field advantage this time around, as they won the AL Central going away thanks to a league-best 48-26 second-half record. The defending world champion Yankees, who held the majors' best record for most of the season, were forced to settle for the wild card due to a sluggish 13-17 showing against a very tough schedule in September and October. Despite the relative temperatures of the two clubs, it's important to remember that late-season records aren't predictive of October success—or failure.
Two southpaws on very different comeback trails battled it out in the Bronx.
On paper, a series between the Yankees and the Twins — the league's second and third-ranked teams on the most recent Hit List — ought to be a competitive one. The Yanks are of course perennial contenders who've made the postseason 14 times in the past 15 seasons, while the Twins have reached October five times in the past eight years. Yet if there's one sure thing about the two teams over the latter span, it's that the Yankees have pushed the Twins around consistently. From 2002 through 2009, they won 41 of 55 regular season contests between the two teams, and nine out of 11 in the postseason, ending the Twins' title hopes in 2003, 2004, and last October. They've particularly mastered the Twins at home; Friday night's come-from-behind win, fueled by Alex Rodriguez's seventh-inning grand slam, marked their 24th victory in the matchup's last 27 regular-season contests in the Bronx.
A look at some of the spring roster battles are shaping up and how it affects playing time.
At this stage of spring, we don't think enough games have played to really understand how players compare to each other, but that doesn't matter, because teams are starting to make decisions based on what they've seen (and, of course, on what they already know). That obliges us to at least try and follow their thinking by looking at the spring stats and seeing how players are doing, particularly in cases where position decisions are on the line. It doesn't matter what Derek Jeter, Nick Markakis, or Albert Pujols are doing in the exhibition games because they'll start regardless. I'm looking for cases where the performance (or injuries, or visa problems) of the player merits at least a thought of changing the depth-chart projection. Not everybody mentioned gets changed