Last year's Indians surprised everyone with a first-place start, then collapsed. This year's Indians have also surprised everyone with a first-place start. What's next?
Note: this article was originally published on Thursday afternoon, so stats are as of Thursday morning. Last night, the Indians defeated Detroit and Justin Verlander (in their 10th one-run victory of the season), further solidifying their hold on the AL Central.
“I felt last year at this point we had played our best baseball. You couldn’t play any better than the way we played the first 45 games. Unfortunately, we had some guys go down. But I still don’t think we have played our best baseball [this year].”—Manny Acta
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
A.J. Burnett finds out just what it means to be a pirate, a couple players go under the knife, and various other injuries around spring training.
A.J. Burnett, PIT (Eye)
Bunting practice is usually not dangerous; occasionally a batter might injure a finger but, only rarely does something more serious happen. On Wednesday, Burnett fell into this latter category. In the video of the incident in question, the ball deflects off of Burnett’s bat and strikes him at the corner of his eye and the eye socket. He is helped by assistant athletic trainer Ben Potenziano and walks off the field with a towel to his face. After flying back to Pittsburgh for more tests, Burnett was diagnosed with an orbital bone fracture and will undergo surgery on Friday. Bones heal at a fairly predictable pace; players usually return between four and eight weeks. Burnett will have to take it easy, but assuming there is no serious trauma to the eye itself, he should be able to start getting into baseball shape before that magic number is reached. Still, Burnett will almost certainly start the season on the disabled list.
Ryan Howard, PHI (Achilles surgery)
After Howard saw Dr. Myerson, additional information came to light. He had a small procedure to clean out stitch and surrounding tissue; the stitch was an internal one but the integrity of the Achilles repair is not compromised. This is the key: if the repair was significantly compromised, Howard may not have been able to make it back this year. Fortunately, this was not the case. During the procedure, Dr. Myerson consulted with infectious disease specialists, which revealed that Howard had an infection and the first baseman was placed on antibiotics. With news that the tendon is not compromised, the biggest issue is keeping the wound clean and not infected. Recovery from Achilles surgeries are so long and have so many ups and downs that there is no true timetable on Howard’s, but this could be seen as a relatively minor blip in the process.
As the Winter Meetings approach, Joe Nathan goes to Texas, Ty Wigginton joins the Phillies, the Marlins acquire another pitcher from Petco, the Indians re-sign Sizemore, the Royals keep Bruce Chen, the Rays and Mariners make a trade, and Freddy Garcia stays a Yankee.
Cleveland says so long to Grady Sizemore (maybe), the Brewers decline two options on prominent members of their playoff team, the Giants break the bank on two left-handed relievers, and the Rockies cut a Cook but keep a Giambi.
BP's dirty dozen makes their prognostications to generate the wisdom of at least one small crowd.
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 American and National Leagues. 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 with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting. Picking favorites for the Wild Card for the respective leagues initially might have seemed easy, since the selections universally favored the second-place team in the AL East, while all but two voters picked their second-place teams in the NL East to earn the non-division champ playoff team, but a tie in the rankings had to be broken in favor of the team named the Wild Card winner on the most individual ballots, which is sure to upset some people.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that's been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.
The AL Central will be a dead heat, according to the BP staff, with the East and West showing more separation.
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 American League. The National League predictions will follow, 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 preseason MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.
There's a rising favorite in the AL Central, as our experts weigh in on everything from division winners to Matsuzaka's line.
Our annual predictions arrive this year as our Hope and Faith series comes to an end. While the beauty of spring training is that every team can think it has a chance, somebody has to take the losses. For today, we concentrate on the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American League. Tomorrow we'll conclude with the National League predictions, along with the staff picks for the World Series.
Each author'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 preseason MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year voting. A slight shift at the bottom of the AL East rankings, a rising favorite in the AL Central, and anarchy in the AL West highlight our staff's guesses.
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.