You can't throw a parity party if everyone's not invited, can you?
If by fiat we stopped regular-season play on Sunday, we'd get just two repeat entries in the playoff picture: the ubiquitous Yankees, and the Twins. We could get a third repeater in the Phillies, but they'd have to settle for slipping in as a wild card, not the division champ, and then only after a one-game playoff with the Giants, who would certainly qualify as newbies if they trounced the two-time defending pennant winners. Even that understates the potential for turnover: Change the point in time at which we might arbitrarily end the season by a few days this way or that, and you could wind up with seven new playoff teams instead of five.
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The basis of baseball's biggest rivalry may not make sense, but there is no denying the passion it sparks among fans.
(Editor's note: This is the first installment of Prospectus Perspective, a regular feature that will feature the opinions and perspectives of various Baseball Prospectus authors, notably Christina Kahrl, on a regular basis.)
Buck Showalter faces a challenge with the Orioles, though the subsequent credit and blame he receives will be disproportionate.
Dave Bristol, the manager of the 1980 Giants, once made an announcement to his team: “There will be two buses leaving the hotel for the park tomorrow. The two o’clock bus will be for those of you who need a little extra work. The empty bus will leave at five o’clock”. This is not only funny, but clearly laid out the manager’s expectation: everyone needs extra work. Given that a manager’s major contribution to his team is not in-game moves but in setting a professional tone for the 25 men in his charge, this is exactly the kind of attitude you want. Unfortunately, the 1980 Giants went 75-86, finished 17 games behind the Houston Astros in the National League West, and Bristol, 47, never managed again. A manager can ask, cajole, joke, plead, or beg, but you’re only going to so far with Johnny LeMaster as your shortstop and Terry Whitfield as your No. 5 hitter.
Clubs who are down with re-signing their own free agents get better value than those who sign other people's players.
After remembering the 1981 hit "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by The Clash with last week’s title on the same topic, we move forward a decade to a 1991 Naughty by Nature hit—and we introduce the money to the equation this time (if you’re down with that). In this article, I will show that players who re-sign with their clubs on multi-year deals provide far more bang for their buck than players who sign contracts with new teams.
Saving the West for last, a few exciting fights for position-playing roles, plus the usual mulling of aspiring fifth men.
To complete my perhaps overly terse-for me, at any rate-series review job battles for starting jobs in the majors, we now turn to the NL West. Admittedly, part of the exercise here for me was to make sure that I turn over to positions and considerations that, too often, do not comprise core considerations for Transaction Analysis: the guys who get punted from Triple-A and back again, the damned and doomed who need to adapt to a shuttle-born existence between the dubious glory of third lefty-dom, spot starting in the rotation because some high-maintenance thirtysomething needs skipping, or the outfielder who plays because somebody's hammy's barking or the like. That's the stuff that, admittedly, is relatively minor stuff, the endless churn that I can't help but find fascinating on one level, but also have to admit impacts a season, a team, or your fantasy squad very little, if at all. Or, as another way to put it, if you're concerned about the whereabouts of Doug Slaten, you're with me in the ranks of the few, the proud, the players in the deepest of leagues, or the folks who don't play Wii in their spare time.
NL players to watch in spring training, Tony Blengino dishes on the Mariners' statistical approach, and other news and notes from around the majors.
Punxsutawney Phil be damned, spring is officially here. At least, for those who are involved in Major League Baseball or are fans of the game. That's because pitchers and catchers start reporting to outposts in Florida and Arizona today. Spring training workouts for many begin Thursday morning.
Learning to look at defense with more than just your eyes means beating several biases.
The increased relevance of defensive metrics in recent years has led to a bevy of cost-cutting activity across the league, as teams are beginning to exhibit a greater understanding of the value of saving runs with the glove. Solid defense is tantamount to success, but it does not translate to deeper bank accounts like the mighty whopping stick. Even amongst some statistically savvy fans, offense garners more value than defense for reasons like the perceived irrefutability of batting data in comparison to fielding subjectivity, how the goals of fielding metrics seem to be more abstract than the what-you-see-is-what-you-get numbers on offense, and how advanced defensive statistics are still fairly new additions to the baseball vernacular. Subjectivity creates doubt, which leads to distrust and skepticism, making it difficult for some to wrap their heads around how a relatively mid-pack player Mike Cameron (4.8 WARP1) could actually have been more valuable than a masher like Jason Bay-4.4 WARP1.
It isn't getting the same billing as that rumble in the Bronx, but it's just as important.
While most of the mainstream media's attention is zoomed in on the Bronx, there's another active American League rivalry getting played out on another diamond this weekend, and it's one where the stakes are usually higher still. That's because, unlike the Red Sox and Yankees, it's generally understood that in the clash between the Angels and the Rangers in the AL West, there can be only one winner-the consolation prize for second place isn't the wild card, it's supposed to be an early start date on October tee times.
Is that really true, though? Now that the second-place Rangers are just two behind the second-place Red Sox in the wild-card standings, it's worth wondering if all bets are off as far as the AL Wild Card coming from the East almost automatically. Our adjusted standings report reflects how much the two top teams of the West rank behind the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays as far as their respective schedule strength and in-game performance, and suggests that Texas and L'Anaheim have both been a bit lucky in terms of their records (we'll throw in the AL Central just to give you a peek at the full spread of AL contenders):
With 16 quartets squaring off, a quick overview of the matchups and likely outcomes as college baseball's postseason gets in gear.
Tomorrow the second season begins in college baseball, kicking off a few weeks that will give scouts a final chance to grade prospects, give many players their final hurrahs, and give fans some of the most dramatic baseball available. Since the bracket was released in full on Monday, we've had time to lodge complaints about the mistreatment of Virginia, the snubs of Rhode Island and Eastern Illinois, and the bids handed to Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Southern Miss. All that can be put to rest tomorrow, as Virginia faces put-up or shut-up time against Steven Strasburg, and the lucky bubble teams have a chance to prove that they belong.
Adding up but mostly subtracting down, the values of players moving into and out of the NL's weakest division.
Last week I cracked open the new PECOTA projections to examine the winter's comings and goings on a team-by-team basis, division by division, starting with the NL East. This week's release of the PECOTA-based depth charts and projected standings brings the sum of these transactions-the trades and free-agent signings (or departures) which will have an impact on each team's 2009 model-a bit more into focus. What's represented here is just one piece of the puzzle, with no attempt to account for longer-term concerns such as prospect trades or multi-year deals. This is a rough guide to who's new and who's gone, and how much impact they're projected to have on the division races this year. Teams are listed in order of 2008 finish; for each hitter, WARP and EqA are listed, while for each pitcher, the figures are WARP and EqERA.