How much did Melky Cabrera's suspension affect San Francisco's odds of appearing in October?
When news of Melky Cabrera’s 50-game suspension for taking testosterone broke this afternoon, the Giants had 45 games remaining, were tied with the Dodgers atop the NL West, and were half a game worse than the Braves and Pirates, the two teams tentatively holding the two NL Wild Cards. Shortly after that, they lost to the Nationals, 6-4, but let’s pretend that never happened. (Who knows, maybe with Melky they would have won.) This morning, with Melky, the Giants had a 60.5 percent chance of making the playoffs: 53.2 percent from winning the division, and 7.3 percent from winning a Wild Card. How much did losing Melky for the rest of the regular season affect their odds?
How do we judge a GM who seems to make so many wrong moves -- and wins anyway?
What does Andrew Friedman do well? He finds low-cost talent, drafts productive players in the first round, and banks on strong run prevention to win games. Where does Friedman stumble? Generally when dealing with relatively big-money free agents. Wait, my computer keeps autocorrecting “Brian Sabean” to “Andrew Friedman.” What a weird glitch.
Any card-carrying baseball fan can name four or five of Sabean’s greatest follies. He employed Barry Bonds for 11 seasons and failed to win a title. When Sabean did win a World Series, he allowed sentimentalism to interfere with upgrading his team, thus hurting its chances of a repeat. He favors veterans over prospects and once admitted to signing (not very good) players in order to forfeit draft picks. Then there are the times he signed Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand to budget-busting deals that looked no better at the time than they do now.
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With 81 games in the books, Ben looks at which players are most likely to outperform, or underperform, their first-half results.
According to most sources, the start of the season’s second half is still more than a week away, but technically, it’s already upon us. All but two teams have played at least half of the games on their schedules. That means that most players have already accrued about half of the counting stats they’ll have at the end of the year, enough to give us some sense of whether their seasons are shaping up to be disappointments or successes.
Of course, some players have already left the bulk of their hitting behind them, while others are about to break out. Last season, Dan Uggla went into the All-Star break batting .185. After action resumed, he upped his average considerably, hitting .296 in the second half. Dexter Fowler played so poorly in the first half of 2011 that he was forced to spend a remedial month at Colorado Springs. After returning in mid-July, he hit .288/.381/.498, swatting all five of his homers and swiping 10 of his 12 stolen bases. On the other end of the spectrum, Jose Bautista hit 31 of his AL-leading 43 home runs before the break, and his teammate Adam Lind completely collapsed after June, following up a .300/.349/.515 first half with a .197/.233/.356 second-half showing.
Melky Cabrera is having a breakout season, and he is 27 years old. Those are just two unrelated facts about Melky Cabrera.
If All-Star voting ended today, two of the three starting outfielders for the National League would be repeat representatives. The leading vote-getter, Matt Kemp, made the team last season and went on to be runner-up in the NL MVP race. Behind Kemp is Carlos Beltran, who’s been to six All-Star games.
But the player who recently displaced reigning MVP Ryan Braun to take over third place has never been an All-Star. He’s never come close to winning any major awards or leading the league in any important statistical category. He’s been a punch line and an afterthought, but before this season, he’d never been one of baseball’s best players.
The Reds might have finally found their solution in the leadoff spot.
The Thursday Takeaway
Entering yesterday’s game against the Braves, Reds leadoff men had combined for a .164/.202/.270 triple slash—and that was after rookie shortstop Zack Cozart homered in each of the first two games of the series and went 2-for-4 on Wednesday. Twenty-eight teams’ number-eight hitters had logged a better OPS than the Reds’ number-one batters’ 472 mark. And though the overall stat line of their leadoff men is still awful, after completing a four-game sweep of the Braves, the Reds appear to have both hit their stride and solved their once-fatal flaw.
The 6-3 win over the Braves on Thursday gave the 25-19 Reds their first division lead of the season, as they pushed past the Cardinals, who lost a 10-9 nail-biter to the Phillies. Perhaps more significantly, though, the hole at the top of manager Dusty Baker’s batting order is that much closer to being plugged.
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.
The Keeper Reaper returns for the month of December!
Per the Wikipedia entry, author Ray Bradbury “has stated that the novel [Fahrenheit 451] is not about censorship, but a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature, which leads to a perception of knowledge as being composed of factoids, partial information devoid of context.” In a world where the very notion of a “book” may soon go the way of the rotary phone and the “LP”, can people really relate to “Hot Stove” anymore? When a well-known national media personality makes the mistake of tweeting that a team re-signed its own superstar shortstop, it's patently obvious that most analysis these days is of the microwave variety. But Keeper Reaper is back to provide more information, complete with context, and is the best protection against getting burned this winter in fantasy league preparation.