Given their overturned offense, will the 2012 Giants be able to improve their won-loss record from 2011?
Not long ago, while discussing the anemic offense of last year's Mariners, we noted that 10 MLB teams scored fewer than four runs per game in 2011. Only two of those teams finished with a winning record. The San Francisco Giants represented the most extreme case; they won 86 games despite having the National League's worst offense.
That got me to thinking: How often has the team with the NL's worst offense finished with a winning record? The answer may come as a surprise.
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Tim Raines has his case re-examined, and the remainder of the Hall ballot gets a look.
We all have our pet projects. With the graduations of Bert Blyleven and Ron Santo to the Hall of Fame, mine is now Tim Raines. During his 23-year major-league career, Raines combined the virtues of a keen batting eye, dazzling speed, and all-around athleticism with a cerebral approach that made him an electrifying performer and a dangerous offensive weapon. Yet in four years on the ballot, he's reached just 37.5 percent of the vote, exactly half of what he needs to reach Cooperstown.
It's an all-employment issue of The Week in Quotes, as Jose Lima's still looking for a job, Miguel Tejada and Manny Ramirez may be after a transfer, and Theo Epstein might be back to reclaim his old job.
"There will be no trade. I'm staying in Boston, where I'm familiar with the system and where I have a lot of friends, especially David Ortiz." --Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez, on how his desire to leave Boston is gone (MLB.com)
Jonah Keri catches a pitchers' duel between the two Second City teams in this week's Game of the Week.
Sunday's game was different. Even right off the DL Prior is a constant
threat to completely dominate a game. His opponent, Jon
Garland, entered Sunday's game tied with Dontrelle
Willis for the best record in baseball at 12-2. You can
some of Garland's win barrage to luck, no question--his .253 BABIP, for
one, is well below league average, and when more balls in play start to
fall in for hits, that'll hurt him. His strikeout rate of less than one
every other inning also portends regression, as virtually no pitchers
sustain success over the long haul at that level. Still, there's a lot
be said for terrific control, which is just what Garland has shown this
year. At just over a walk and a half a game, Garland's been among the
stingiest in baseball with the free pass. Even with a good but not
HR rate (11 in 108 IP), that's enough to achieve success. Broadcaster
turned World Series-winning manager turned broadcaster Bob Brenly notes
that "Garland has been the best pitcher in baseball up to this point,"
point contradicted by several
Baseball Prospectus metrics--Roy Halladay and a
dozen others can make a better claim. But Garland's still ranked a
respectable 15th in the majors in Expected
Wins according to BP's brand spankin' new Sortable Stats, 8th if
count only pitchers with 15 starts or fewer.
NL Central rivals...err...acquaintances collide as the Pirates take on the Cubs in the Prospectus Game of the Week.
Of course there was more at stake Sunday than two teams fighting to see who finishes a distant second behind the Cardinals. The Pirates were taking the worst offense in the league into the game; averaging just three runs a contest, their futility offered the allure of plastic surgery gone horribly wrong (coming up next...on Fox!). Their lineup features more 100-somethings than a Matlock convention.
Job battles figure to go down to the wire for the Angels, Cubs and Brewers.
Who's on First (and DH): The Angels may be planning to use Juan Rivera and Jeff DaVanon as a platoon for the DH slot. With Darin Erstad hanging on to first base by way of his Gold Glove and reputation for being a team leader, one wonders what will become of Casey Kotchman. PECOTA projected the following for these four players in 2005:
The Cubs and Orioles have new right fielders, the Blue Jays have new money to spend, and Edgar Martinez has lots and lots and lots of time on his hands.
"It's a great place for me to come here and win the crowd like I'm going to do and be happy again. I like the situation in Baltimore. They have a great ballpark. I think I'll be perfect here." --Sammy Sosa, on his new team and new city (Chicago Tribune)
The Cubs have gone to great lengths to trade their Hall of Fame right fielder. What does this deal mean for them and the Orioles?
This is a personality dump. The Cubs, frustrated by the disappointing end to their 2004 season, laid the blame at the feet of Sosa, whose outsized personality became less tolerable to them as his production dwindled. Sosa's bailing on the season's last game--an inexcusable act for which he was properly fined--was blown out of proportion as Cubs' management reached for a scapegoat for the team's collapse. Sosa shares the blame for the team's 2-7 finish with the rest of his lineup mates, but can't be singled out: he hit .250/.382/.536 in the season's last ten days.