Why we might be overestimating pitchers' offensive abilities. Yes, OVERestimating.
You can see what Buck Showalter was going for on Tuesday night. Mark Reynolds is a hitter. Not always a great hitter, but one of the couple hundred best in the world, and very capable of ending the game with one swing. The guy behind him was a pitcher. Not a terrible hitter, pitcher-wise, but a pitcher. In the categories our brain creates, pitchers are non-threats. Given the choice between a threat and a non-threat, the decision to intentionally walk the threat to face the non-threat feels obvious, if you don't do the math. But you should do the math:
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The A's lefty logs his first complete game since 2006, plus more recaps from a walkoff-filled Wednesday and previews for Thursday.
The Wednesday Takeaway
Fans at Oakland Coliseum were treated to a fantastic pitchers’ duel between Scott Kazmir and Anibal Sanchez on Wednesday, and the visitors started the bottom of the ninth inning with a 1-0 advantage.
Kazmir was in line for a complete-game loss, in which he threw 76 of his 103 pitches for strikes and struck out eight batters without issuing a walk. The lone mistake he made was a slider left up that Torii Hunter deposited over the right-center field wall. Kazmir was able to subdue the Tigers with his changeup, as he threw 19 of his 26 off-speed offerings for strikes—nine of them of the swing-and-miss variety. The southpaw was able to hold his velocity over the course of the game, registering his fastest four-seamer of the game with his second-to-last pitch.
The Brew Crew might be a flawed club, but it also has plenty of excellent fantasy assets.
There is a lot of fantasy talent on the 2014 Milwaukee Brewers roster. Their tumultuous 2013 season and consensus ranking of “fringe contender” for next season have made the Brewers somewhat anonymous nationally, but that shouldn’t be the case. They have batters who can hit for power and run. They have pitchers who are better than you think. And even their bullpen has a few high-strikeout options of note. It’s a flawed team, to be sure, but one that could produce some fantasy steals this year.
The tater trots for April 18: Todd Frazier does good, Yovani Gallardo goes yard, Francisco Cervelli speeds home.
Home Run of the Day: Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds - 22.18 seconds [video]
A home run in the later innings of an 11-1 rout are rarely worth talking about as the Home Run of the Day. In Cincinnati on Thursday, however, Todd Frazier's blast is very much worth celebrating. As C. Trent Rosecrans wrote for cincinnati.com, this home run was hit by special request for Reds batboy Teddy Kremer.
Another crop of two-start pitchers are examined in this week's planner
Interleague play fires up next week, and we have a star-studded slate of two-start pitchers to examine. Last week, I gave the thumbs up to the back end of the Red Sox rotation, but both Daniel Bardand Felix Doubront flopped in Kansas City. They could redeem themselves at home against Cleveland, but they move down a peg and need to prove something before being trusted again.
All of the other “starts” in both leagues have pitched adequately or better in their first outing of the week, including gems from Ivan Nova, Neftali Feliz, Doug Fister (listed as Duane Below in the piece, but then corrected to Fister in the comments), Edwin Jackson, and Jeff Samardzija. Conversely, many of the National League “sits” did quite well themselves, especially Carlos Zambrano andBronson Arroyo. I’m still concerned about both in the long-term, however, and Alex White (the “Unnamed Colorado Starter” in the piece) did have the good fortune of debuting in San Diego.
Jim Leyland wasn't alone in making questionable lineup moves on Wednesday; Ron Roenicke made his own in playing Mark Kotsay.
Sometimes a manager plays a hunch and winds up looking smart, even if the process by which he arrives at the decision appears flawed. In Game Five of the AL Division Series, Jim Leyland batted light-hitting utilityman Don Kelly second, and Kelly responded with a solo home run in the first inning en route to a 3-2 Tigers victory and a series win. On the other hand, sometimes a manager makes a head-scratching move, and it backfires so badly it raises the question of whether a best-of-seven series can end in three games. In Game Three of the NL Championship Series, Ron Roenicke chose to start Mark Kotsay in center field and bat him second against Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter. Before the first inning was out, Kotsay wound up on the wrong end of two game-changing plays en route to a 4-0 deficit, and while the Brewers made a game of it, they fell 4-3, putting themselves in a two-games-to-one hole with the possibility that the series may not make it back to Milwaukee.
After watching a gem of a game from Yovani Gallardo on Opening Night, a question about ballpark etiquette arises...
Opening Day is special. It comes only once a year and, after looking forward to it all winter, people tend to treat it as the holiday it is. They stay home from work, drink beer, grill out, and have an overall grand time. But holidays aren't all sunshine and rainbows. There's drunkeness, belligerence, and flat-out unpleasantness in just about any large gathering, and, in that, Opening Day takes the cake. After five straight Opening Days here in Milwaukee, I still get a major kick out of the festivities and the official start to the Brewers' season. I can, though understand entirely those who decide to sit it out. "Amateur hour" is an apt description of many of Opening Day's denizens.
The night after Opening Day, unofficially dubbed "Opening Night", is a very different story. With so many fans tapped out from Opening Day - the only day in April where it's perfectly acceptable to start drinking at 9am! - the crowd for Opening Night is always much smaller and more baseball-focused. The spectacle of Opening Day tends to take on a life of its own, so it's a pleasant change of pace to see 20,000 fans there solely to watch the game instead of 45,000 there to get drunk.
The Brewers' stars stayed on the field in 2010, but will their luck hold after they upped the ante in the NL Central this winter?
The Team Injury Projections are here, driven by our brand new injury forecasting system, the Comprehensive Health Index [of] Pitchers [and] Players [with] Evaluative Results—or, more succinctly, CHIPPER. Thanks to work by Colin Wyers and Dan Turkenkopf and a database loaded with injuries dating back to the 2002 season—that's nearly 4,600 players and well over 400,000 days lost to injury—we now have a system that produces injury-risk assessments to three different degrees. CHIPPER projects ratings for players based on their injury history—these ratings measure the probability of a player missing one or more games, 15 or more games, or 30 or more games. CHIPPER will have additional features added to it throughout the spring and early season that will enhance the accuracy of our injury coverage.
These ratings are also available in the Player Forecast Manager (pfm.baseballprospectus.com), where they'll be sortable by league or position—you won’t have to wait for us to finish writing this series in order to see the health ratings for all of the players.
The acquisition of Shaun Marcum should serve as a major upgrade for the Brewers' rotation.
Earlier this week, the Milwaukee Brewers made one of the first major splashes of the Winter Meetings by landing the Blue Jays’ Shaun Marcum for Canadian prospect Brett Lawrie. While losing their top prospect could cause a post-trade hangover in the long run, there is little doubt that the Brewers rotation is getting a swell upgrade for the near-term. The entire Brewers rotation is poised to make major strides in overall performance next year. Today, I will examine the legitimacy of Marcum's 2010 performance, how his pitching can help the Milwaukee rotation, and what Wisconsinites can expect from the Brew Crew’s 2011 rotation.
The 2006 class is a tough one to beat among a strong recent group of rookie classes.
Earlier this week, the folks at Beloit College released their annual MindsetList, a document designed to explain the cultural differences between the incoming class of college freshmen and the older faculty hired to teach them. The idea is to highlight the small and large ways the world has changed in the last 20 years by mentioning things that were true during the life span of oldsters that were never true for those under 20, e.g., the existence of things like a telephone cord, a country called Czechoslovakia, and a baseball commissioner not named Bud. For me, a man who fervently hopes Jamie Moyer comes back next spring to ensure I won’t have to face being older than every major-league ballplayer, this is always a time to reflect on youth and age, both in life and in baseball—especially so this year, since the current Mindset List includes a reference to the term Annus Horribilus, which I happened to use in last year’s BP Annual, but which I now know dates me almost as much as saying “23 Skidoo.”