We’re roughly 20 percent of the way through the 2012 baseball season, and I have to file a column for Wednesday. That means that it’s the perfect time to take a look at this year’s leading out-of-the-gate over- and underachievers!
Philip Humber's perfect game ended with a controversial call, but close plays to preserve no-hitters are the norm, not the exception.
Since the start of the 2009 season, 12 nine-inning no-hitters have been pitched. Over the same span, 24 nine-inning one-hitters have been pitched. The former will be remembered. The latter will not, except by Anibal Sanchez, who threw three of them. (Don’t feel too bad for Anibal Sanchez, since he already had a no-hitter. Anibal Sanchez: pretty good at pitching.)
The difference between a no-hitter and a one-hitter is—wait for it—one hit. But it’s too simple to say that, really. A hit can be a long home run or a hard line drive that lands somewhere on the field. It can also be an infield dribbler, a well-placed pop-up, or a routine fly that would have been caught by literally anyone but Raul Ibanez. This is a hit:
Is there any hope that the Twins will be better than horrible this season?
First, let’s get this out of the way: The Minnesota Twins will probably be pretty bad, at best, this season. They lost a lot of games in 2011, and though many of the names and faces have changed, they’ll take the field in 2012 looking a lot like the same team. As a matter of sabermetric best practices, it’s probably a good idea to assume that they’ll lose a lot of games again. PECOTA and the depth charts currently see the Twins losing 91 games, in a two-way tie for the AL Central cellar and a three-way tie for last in the American League. That’s all very reasonable, and nothing you read here is going to dispute the notion that that’s exactly what’s most likely to happen.
What I’m wondering, though, is why it’s being treated as a foregone conclusion. Great analysts are dismissing the team without, well, analyzing. Our own departing-and-incoming managing editors—brilliant, insightful, and devastatingly handsome men, both—had things like this to say in their recent ALCentralpreview: “This team should trade any veterans not nailed down” … “they can’t compete” … “The Royals are about to leave the Twins in their dust” … “It’s going to stay bad before it gets better.” And they’re certainly not alone... they’re just the example I can find right now. On Twitter and elsewhere, the Twins have very quickly become a punch line. They’ve been written off completely.
Can the Twins learn to love their power lefty, or will they finally get a good return in trade?
Earlier this month, the Twins made waves via a Minneapolis Star Tribune report stating that team officials are open to the possibility of trading Francisco Liriano. The 27-year-old lefty is coming off a strong 2010 season, and the Twins feel that his value may never be higher, that he's getting too expensive for their tastes, and that their rotation appears to be stocked well enough to withstand his departure. If those assumptions are true, it may be sensible to deal him, but a closer look at the situation suggests flaws in that reasoning.
Before all the IBA ballots are counted, staff picks give a hint as to what hands the awards may find themselves in.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Travis Hafner posted the highest OBP in the AL while nobody noticed, while Neifi Perez ended up getting playoff PT. The young guns had their day and then some. Jermaine Dye gave a lengthy spanking to his 90th percentile PECOTA projection (PECOTA's .288/.359/.516 versus an actual .315/.385/.622). The crop of AL rookies included a guy with a 0.92 ERA finishing third, and rooks like Jered Weaver (105:33 K:BB) and Francisco Liriano (144:32) threatening to be Johan Santana's biggest challengers in 2007. The National League featured tighter races, including a four-way brawl for the Pitcher of the Year and another impressive crop of newbies.
Eight staff members weighed in on the season that was, casting their ballots for the Internet Baseball Awards. We summarized their findings below, and then let them have their individual say.
BP staffers work their magic and offer their predictions for the American League this season.
When BP welcomes new contributors, we like to test them right away--usually by demanding that they take out their crystal ball. Yes, it's time to wrap up the off-season by predicting what things will look like at the conclusion of the 2006 season.
In part one of this two-part series, we focus on the American
League, concentrating on the division standings and the major
player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year). Tomorrow
we'll conclude with the National League predictions, along with
the staff picks for the World Series representatives.