The playoff races have been de-zombified, and Team Entropy was on the prowl, looking for meaningful baseball going into the final game.
Welcome to Team Entropy! Grab a seat on the couch, and here, have a beer. You've been invited to this party because after almost exactly six months and 160 games of regular-season baseball, you've suspended the need to root for a specific team and are working for the greater good, more interested in maximizing the amount of end-of-season chaos the remaining schedule can produce. The amount of season, even, if it comes to a 163rd game—or two.
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While there is a confusing starting rotation picture for the AL playoff contenders, the NL is much clearer.
With the matter of the playoff participants in both leagues largely settled, on Wednesday I examined the unsettled nature of the playoff rotations of the likely AL representatives. As I showed, each has a considerable amount of unfinished business with regards to identifying their front four, with injuries and matchup issues both playing a part, and there's relatively little separation between the four, at least according to a quick and dirty measure I nabbed from Nate Silver's back pages. By comparison, the NL teams have much less uncertainty as to who will be taking the ball, and much more certainty about whom the fairest of them all is, at least when it comes to post-season rotations.
In this new column, BP's fantasy expert discusses the rookie middle-infield crop and the values of various players on the trade market.
Today, I’m proud to announce a brand new BP Fantasy column that has been in the works for quite a while that I’m incredibly excited about. Trading Post will offer insight heretofore unavailable to fantasy baseball players. Using a unique combination of PECOTA rest-of-season projections and CBS’ archive of every fantasy baseball trade that every player has been involved in this season, Trading Post will delve into the value you can expect to receive via trade for the players on your fantasy squad. It will also be able to tell you which players are being undervalued on the trade market and make for good targets. While some fantasy analysis will look at a player’s cold streak and slap a “Buy Low” tag on him, Trading Post will be able to say whether you can actually buy the player low and, if so, will be able to quantify just how “low” he can be bought.
Trading Post Card Explanation
Each player discussed in Trading Post will receive a “Trading Post Card.” This card will be jam-packed with useful information about each player’s trading profile. It will list information about the player himself, look at every trade the player has been involved in over the past two weeks and every player he’s been traded for, and give information about the average player he’s been traded for. Hopefully these cards will be self-explanatory, but if you’re not sure what anything means, here’s an explanation of everything:
A look at the 2011 Angels, their strengths, their weaknesses, and their chances at making the playoffs.
Back in mid-May, when we were all younger and more handsome, if not smarter, I predicted that the Rangers would pull away from the Angels—who led the AL West by a game and a half at the time—once injured sluggers Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz returned to the lineup. The two teams stayed close, but when Texas opened up a five-game lead while reeling off a 12-game winning streak that carried through the All-Star break, the division looked to be in their control. The Halos have refused to go quietly, however, and they remain in contention. They came to the Bronx last night just a game and a half out of first place and took the series opener from the Yankees in dramatic fashion, with Bobby Abreu socking two homers—including a two-run ninth-inning shot off Mariano Rivera.
Mike Scioscia doesn't think his team needs to retool at the deadline to catch the first-place Rangers.
Most managers of second-place clubs would be looking to their general managers with hopes of pulling off a major deal between now and Saturday's 4 p.m. ET deadline for making trades without securing waivers on players. The Angels' Mike Scioscia isn't in that camp, though. He is not badgering GM Tony Reagins to upgrade the roster. Even though the Angels are three games behind the Rangers in the American League West, Scioscia likes his roster the way it is.
Though third base is typically reserved for big boppers, you'd be excused for believing that this year's production at the hot corner was the product of shortstops.
While putting together this summer's squad of Replacement-LevelKillers, I noticed something alarming. It's been an awful year for third basemen, both in the number of marquee players who have served time on the disabled list and in terms of their overall offensive production—so bad, in fact, that as a group they're being outhit by second basemen, and are basically even with shortstops. The dreaded Chone Figgins’ return to the hot corner isn't enough to explain this phenomenon, so again I must ask: Just what in the name of Larry Wayne Jonesis going on?
Mike looks at 2011's crop of young pitchers who maybe be approaching innings limits.
As I was reviewing the first half of the Dodgers season over at my own blog this week (shameless plug here), one topic that came up was the solid performance of rookie starter Rubby de la Rosa. Forced into the rotation about a month ago when fifth starter Jon Garland’s season ended due to injury, he’s offered the club plenty of value (3.74 ERA / 3.94 SIERA), striking out more than a man per inning while doing some on-the-job learning with his control at the major league level. While his debut has been a nice surprise, he is also already nearing a career high in innings pitched with 85 2/3 combined innings under his belt between the minors and majors this year. His previous high was 110 1/3 innings last season, which followed three years in which he totaled just 69 2/3 frames. The Dodgers are woefully out of the chase, so the priority must be on preserving the 22-year-old for the future–not pushing him beyond his limits this year in pursuit of an October run which will almost certainly not come.
Jason examines the state of Tout Wars AL and suggests a course of action for owners who are falling out of contention.
Some teams played their 82nd game of the 2011 season last night, meaning we are now officially in the unofficial (but mathematically accurate) second half of the season since people seem to cling onto the All-Star Break being the equal divider between the two halves. The 14th of 26 fantasy scoring periods begins for most leagues this Monday, giving us just 12 scoring periods to make up ground in the standings in order to win the league. Yes, I said win because second place is still just the first loser as far as I am concerned.
Enlisting a new type of analysis to reveal who's winning the eternal battle between batters and pitchers, and why.
Background: You’ve got to admit they’re getting better
“When the 100-meter freestyle is held today in high school girls’ regional swimming meets, it is generally won by a girl who swims the distance in just under 60 seconds. That time would have won the men’s Olympic competition in 1920, or any year before it.”—Baseball Between The Numbers
The Royals have a working bullpen for once, and, unlike their high-pedigree prospects, it's full of pitchers with strange backgrounds
Slowly but surely, the youth movement in Kansas City is starting to take hold, as Royals fans are just beginning to see the first glimpses of the long-awaited prospect pool we’ve all heard so much about. The recent promotions of Eric Hosmer and Danny Duffy are merely the first, with players like Mike Moustakas, John Lamb, Wil Myers, Mike Montgomery and many more not far behind.
Even though the team has gotten off to a surprising .500 start, 2011 is still seen as a transition year, with some sightings now but with the bulk of the youngsters expected to arrive in 2012-13. That is why this year’s team is still stocked with placeholder types like Jeff Francis, Bruce Chen, Melky Cabrera, and Chris Getz, there mainly to fulfill the team’s obligation to play games in 2011 and possibly serve as trade chips at the deadline.
At the dawn of the posting system, the arrival of the unique Ichiro Suzuki would forever change the player market between the U.S. and Japan.
Last month, I traced the early history of Japanese-American player traffic, from the Pirates’ sly attempt to sign Eiji Sawamura in the 1930s to the loophole-leaping of players like Hideo Nomo and Alfonso Soriano in the 1990s. To close that voluntary-retirement loophole and to prevent trading players like Hideki Irabu without their permission, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and Major League Baseball (MLB) agreed on the current posting system in 1998. The system was designed to allow MLB teams to sign NPB stars without turning the NPB into another minor league, by forcing MLB teams to pay twice for NPB players, with about half of the total fee typically going to that player’s club.
During the leagues’ offseason, NPB teams can choose to post players who want to test the MLB waters. Once a player is posted, any MLB team has four days to submit a bid to the MLB commissioner for the right to negotiate with him. The highest bidding team then has thirty days to sign a contract. If they succeed, the team pays the posting fee to the player’s NPB club, but if they can’t come to an agreement, no fee is paid. The winning club thus pays for a player twice, with a portion going to the team as a non-negotiable sealed bid. This kind of blind bidding can easily lead to overpaying, benefitting the NPB club, but not the player.