The majority of Michael’s VP list turns over this week, but he’s got plenty of replacements lined up, including three who picked up their first home run of the year last week.
Statistically speaking, a single home run (like a single hit) is fairly meaningless. It’s the ultimate small sample, showing how one batter did against one pitcher (and one pitch) under one specific set of conditions. But psychologically speaking, when it’s the first home run of the season, it can mean so much more. The hitter feels confident in his swing or relieved at having gotten his first longball of the season out of the way, and it could mean a turnaround is coming. Look at Albert Pujols: in 27 plate appearances since his first jack of the season, he’s picked up 5 RBI—as many as he picked up in the 114 plate appearances before he finally went yard.
Dee Gordon hits his first home run, two bench players push the limits of bad batting, Chris Davis keeps hitting, Clay Hensley exposes the unearned run, Derek Jeter hits cleanly in three of his five at-bats (or does he?), and more.
Five things I wanted to write about happened in last night’s games, but none of them was substantial enough on its own for an article. The solution: drop all five unrelated observations (plus a few more for good measure) into the same article draft and call it a column. Trick of the trade.
Derek Jeter goes 3-for-5 and gets accused of steroid use by this one guy I talked to
I live in a baseball discourse bubble.
I’m in the tank for Nick Johnson. Two days after the call-ups of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have captured baseball’s collective attention, I submit that we need to focus more on Nick Johnson. There are many good reasons to root for Trout and Harper, but they’re both very young. There will be plenty of time for each. Johnson is 33 this year and, at any point, his head could fall off. Something could happen and you would be deprived of the enjoyment of watching Nick Johnson play baseball. I don’t want that to happen.
You may remember Nick Johnson as Baseball Prospectus’ No. 1 prospect back in 2000. Baseball America had him ranked fifth. Between then and now he has bounced around, and he spent 2011 slugging .332 in Triple-A, but this year he is back. It’s true. He’s got a uniform and everything. He’s even beenmentionedhere in these virtual pages from time to time, proof that his career isn’t over. Yet.
Michael graduates his first VP of the season, but he still points out plenty of undervalued corner infielders to be found on your league’s waiver wires.
For our nation’s scholars, graduation is just around the corner, but we start things early here at Value Picks, bidding adieu to our first departee. He leaves the list after quickly exceeding ownership thresholds, but I’ve got lots of other players ready to prove themselves to VP readers, including several bubble candidates in Playing Pepper.
What veteran players biding their time in Triple-A might help a big-league club in 2012?
Imagine that you are Tom Hanks in Cast Away, and that among the little-known details of your character (aside from an obsession with time and a badly rotting tooth) is your quiet but intense lifelong love of the Chicago White Sox.
Well, first, welcome back to civilization, Chuck Noland. Enjoy all the crab legs, and sorry you missed out on Helen Hunt—it’s a game of inches, my friend. Second, you’re probably planning to make a beeline for your favorite baseball publication. Presumably, that is Baseball Prospectus, but then again, you’ve been marooned for a couple of years and may have sustained severe damage to your judgment, which now makes decisions based on survivalist instinct rather than careful consumer reasoning. Some help, in case you haven’t picked up your annual: an admittedly informal and incomplete survey of BP writers suggests that the White Sox are destined to finish somewhere around fourth place in the American League Central, with one of my colleagues asking if he could slot them sixth. Chuck, there are only five teams in the American League Central.
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.
As the sad tale of Nick Johnson shows, a high on-base percentage doesn't help unless you can stay in the lineup
One of the most difficult aspects of injury projection is deciding how to deal with acute injuries. Athletes often acquire a “bad luck” label that follows them over the course of a season or a career, even if their injuries haven’t followed a predictable pattern. It isn’t much of a surprise that out of all the hitters in the last decade, one such injury-prone player, Nick Johnson, has missed the most days on the disabled list and the third-most of any player.
The New York Yankees drafted Johnson in the third round of the 1996 draft. Like all of the other players on the DL Kings list, when Johnson has been healthy, he’s been a productive player. In his first season in the Sally League, he displayed power, speed, and a good eye, only to improve over the next two years. He also got his first taste of the injury bug in 1998 when he dove for a ball, tore his labrum, and underwent surgery. He missed six weeks.
Twelve BP authors kick off the new season with their 2005 AL predictions.
Our authors, august worthies every one, wrap up the offseason with their predictions for 2005. Come Sunday, we will no longer need the future tense, as we'll have actual baseball to discuss.
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.