On a per-game basis, Sale has arguably been the best starting pitcher in baseball this season, but it was Scherzer who stole the show with a complete-game shutout to bust himself out of a string of shaky starts. The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner had been knocked around in his previous four outings, serving up at least eights hits, a home run, and four runs in each of them.
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Is toughness a firm enough foundation on which to base a trade?
During an exhibition game against Brooklyn in the spring of 1942, then-Boston Braves manager Casey Stengel said something that seems, in retrospect, spectacularly wrong. A 20-year-old Warren Spahn started for Stengel against the Dodgers, whom the Braves believed had been stealing their signs all spring. Stengel, hoping to take the sign-stealers by surprise, switched the signs so that the old signal for a fastball would now indicate a curve. With Pee-Wee Reese up and a runner on second supposedly staring in for the sign, Stengel told Spahn to brush Reese back with his fastball when the batter would be expecting something slower.
As a 44-year-old Spahn recounted in 1965, when both he and Stengel were with the Mets in what would be their final season:
The Rockies teams of the last few years made a talent gap worse by failing to take advantage of Coors Field. It's a priority for new manager Walt Weiss to change that.
The “best home field advantage in baseball,” as Walt Weiss calls the situation he is taking over as new Rockies manager, isn’t given out as a perk of the job, as if the edge were crowd noise. It is taken, and Weiss seems to understand that.
Jim pays tribute to those players who don't slug much, yet still manage to get on base.
For instance, last year just three of the 147 players with 502 or more plate appearances were column reversers. Leading the way was Jason Kendall at .367/.342, followed by David Eckstein at .350/.344 and Brad Ausmus at .308/.285. For Kendall, it marked the third consecutive season he's made the list after never having done it in the first eight years of his career. In 2005, he was joined by just one other player out of a possible 144, that being then-Marlin second sacker Luis Castillo; 2006 is only the second time in Castillo's 11-year career he has not reversed columns. His current career totals stand at .369 OBP and .358 SLG.
Jay Jaffe uses JAWS to look at the newly eligible hitters on this year's Hall of Fame ballot.
Clay Davenport's Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP) figures make an ideal tool for this endeavor because they normalize all performance records in major-league history to the same scoring environment, adjusting for park effects, quality of competition and length of schedule. All pitchers, hitters and fielders are thus rated above or below one consistent replacement level, making cross-era comparisons a breeze. Though non-statistical considerations--awards, championships, postseason performance--shouldn't be left by the wayside in weighing a player's Hall of Fame case, they're not the focus here.
Election to the Hall of Fame requires a player to perform both at a very high level and for a long time, so it's inappropriate to rely simply on career WARP (which for this exercise refers exclusively to the adjusted-for-all-time version, WARP3). In past years I identified each player's peak value by his best five consecutive seasons, with allowances made for seasons lost to war or injury. That choice was an admittedly arbitrary one, and for the 2006 ballot I've revised the methodology to instead use each player's best seven seasons without concern as to whether they're consecutive or not. It's a subtle change that doesn't have a huge impact, but it does require less manual labor to determine the injury and war exceptions, a welcome development from where I sit. Effectively, we're double-counting more of a player's best seasons, but given what we know about pennants added and
the premium value of star talent, individual greatness can have a nonlinear effect on a team's results both in the standings and on the bottom line.
Placed RHP Al Levine on the 15-day DL (shoulder tendinitis), retroactive to 6/27; recalled RHP John Lackey from Salt Lake. [6/28]
I don't disagree with the idea of bringing up John Lackey to move into the rotation. Lackey is the organization's best upper-level prospect, and he's obviously ready to go.
Four years ago, the Cardinals had their hands around the Braves' collective
neck and let the series slip away. Don't think that Tony LaRussa has
forgotten. Darryl Kile wasn't with St. Louis in 1996, but he has his
own motivation for revenge: he gave up just two hits and drove in a run
against Greg Maddux in the opener of the 1997 NL Division Series,
but his Astros lost the game, 2-1; the Braves went on to sweep the series.
With home-field advantage and a rested rotation ready for the Tomahawk
Twentyfive, the Cardinals have everything they could want to exorcise the
demons of 1996 and let them move on plague the Braves instead.
The Yankees have a clearly superior lineup. They led the majors in
.281, while the Braves were eighth at .267. Despite starting below-average
players Joe Girardi, Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius,
their core of OBP machines at the top of the lineup--Chuck
Knoblauch, Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams-- gives them
the best offense in baseball. Jeter and Williams were 2-3 in the American
League in EQA this year, at .336 and .331 respectively.