Saturday, June 30, 2012

Game Picks - Saturday: June 30, 2012

There was a pleasant surprise this morning as yesterday's results were tallied. As the light was extinguished last night, it was with the thought that yesterday was a bad picking day. After all, Matt Cain lost. Justin Verlander lost. Cliff Lee lost...again. The Yankees lost. But then the realization dawned that the Yankees were predicted to lose as was Cliff Lee. Well, cool. And the picks ended up north of respectable. Also cool.  The surprise tastes almost as good as this coffee.

But, gosh, this is early in the morning. A buddy is driving us an hour and a half this morning so we can play a golf course we've never been to before. Ah, the lengths we will go to support our passions! And that passion includes bringing you another full day of picks. So here we go for Saturday:
  • The White Sox over the Yankees: The White Sox finish the sweep for several reasons. First, Hiroki Kuroda going over .500 is like against the law or something. Second, the White Sox are hitting everything right now. Third, Jake Peavy is very good. Don't worry. The White Sox will see real pitching in the playoffs. See you then.
  • The Angels over the Blue Jays: Loving this Garrett Richards kid. He is only 2-0 with a sub-two ERA. The Blue Jays will counter with Henderson Alvarez. It won't be enough.
  • The Twins over the Royals: The two teams will play two games on Saturday. The Twins will take the first one behind Scott Diamond as Jonathan Sanchez continues his hair-pulling inducing pitching.
  • The Cardinals over the Pirates: So this pick did not work out very well yesterday. In fact, the Pirates schmucked the Cards. But today will be a different day as Lance Lynn recovers a little and Jeff Karstens doesn't last that long.
  • The Reds over the Giants: Barry Zito pitched a shutout his last time out. But he faced a Dodgers team that is stone cold at the plate. The Reds are not that team. Instead, Mat Latos shuts the Giants down.
  • The Indians over the Orioles: Josh Tomlin was shell shocked against the Yankees. Thinking that he recovers here unless he gets post traumatic stress syndrome. Dana Eveland goes for the Orioles. Not feeling that scenario.
  • The Astros over the Cubs: Matt Garza can't buy any runs and J.A. Happ hasn't been allowing them with regularity. And Happ is from Chicago and will have extra incentive.
  • The Nationals over the Braves: Stephen Strasburg will have to avoid that one inning he always seems to have where he gives up two or three runs. If he can do that, he wins over the Braves and Mike Minor.
  • The Marlins over the Phillies: The Phillies have not won a game since Chase Utley returned. Their problems are much deeper than one superstar second baseman. Cole Hamels is hard to pick against, but the gut is saying that Mark Buehrle is going to have a good day.
  • The Royals over the Twins: The Royals win the second game of the double-header. But this pick is based on starting to believe in Luke Hochevar again. How many times has that happened before? Lots. But still, the Royals should hit Cole De Vries.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Brewers: Riding the Wade Miley wave for another game. All Star? Could be after this win. Mike Fiers has been great on the road and stinky at home. He is home today.
  • The Bay Rays over the Tigers: Jeremy Hellickson returns from the disabled list and is tough to beat at home. He just has to get Cabrera, Fielder and Jackson out and he is home free. Rick Porcello is a BABIP pitcher and the Rays do well against those.
  • The Mets over the Dodgers: Poor Nathan Eovaldi. The poor guy never gets any runs to play with. Johan Santana will not allow any either in that big ballpark at Chavez Ravine.
  • The Athletics over the Rangers: This isn't so much a pick for Tommy Milone and the A's batters as much as it is a pick against Martin Perez who starts for the Rangers. That won't go well.
  • The Rockies over the Padres: Anything can happen in Coors. Christian Friedrich has a chance with his 75 pitches against Edinson Volquez, who should get lit up at Coors.
And the Game of the Day!
  • The Red Sox over the Mariners: Josh Beckett makes a guest appearance and should pitch a decent game. Erasmo Ramirez pitched well in his last outing but is still 0-2.
Yesterday; 9-6
Week: 51-35
Month: 226-164
Season: 627-505
Games of the Day: 52-32

Friday, June 29, 2012

Tyler Colvin - A Coors mirage

The perception surrounding Tyler Colvin has been that the Cubs mishandled their 2006 first round draft pick and a change of scenery would probably do him good. But the perception is really not correct. Colvin has far too many flaws in his game and was given opportunities by the Cubs to prove he belonged in the big leagues and he did not produce. Perhaps the perceptions began with the abortive Lou Piniella days as the Cubs manager when Colvin could not get out of Piniella's doghouse. But, though Piniella was not a good manager for the Cubs, the doghouse was the right place for the young player. Then last night, Tyler Colvin got four hits against the Nationals pushing his average is over .300. Perhaps he has found himself. Nope. It is a Coors Field mirage.

The knocks on Helton's career are unfounded. The guy could flat out hit whether it be at Coors or anywhere else. But Coors has produced its share of mirages over the years. Colvin is another in a long line of such players. Oh sure, after last night, the overall numbers look good: .309/.338/.579. Excellent right? But if you dig deeper, you see that he has a 4.3 percent walk rate compared to a 24.5 strikeout rate. And ALL of his damage has been done at Coors Field. Let's look at the splits:

  • Home: .342 batting average, seven homers, five walks, four doubles, four triples and fourteen RBIs in 29 games.
  • Road:  .274 batting average, one homer, two walks, five doubles, no triples and six RBIs in 25 games. 

So, yeah, that is an impressive 1.140 OPS at home with a home wOBA of .462. But put Colvin on the road and his OPS becomes .673 with a wOBA of .294. That, friends, is quite a home/away split.

And Colvin really does not have a natural position for the Rockies. He is a first baseman by trade, but he does not provide the kind of consistency you need as a bopper at first. He is barely an adequate outfielder who has no business playing center as much as the Rockies are playing him there.

The reality is that Colvin is not much different despite the numbers this season than he was with the Cubs. He lacks plate discipline and swings and misses too many pitches. The only difference is that he has a home ballpark that is masking his deficiencies. It's funny. This piece was going to be about how Tyler Colvin has found himself now that he has left the Cubs. But the truth was too overwhelming. Colvin is just not going to live up to his Number One draft status unless he drastically changes his approach at the plate.

Game Picks - Friday: June 29, 2012

What an odd week of picking. There have been two brilliant days, one decent day, and now, after last night, two lousy days. And last night was lousy. The only brilliant pick was Felix Hernandez over the Red Sox. The Yankees had their win against the White Sox, but Joe Girardi got too cute in the ninth and it cost him...and the pick. Chris Capuano was good for the Dodgers. But Chris Young was better. Madison Bumgarner out-pitched Johnny Cueto. The pick had it the other way around. The Nats, as predicted, continued to score a ton of runs against the Rockies. But the Rockies scored more. It was that kind of day.

Just like a bad shank on the golf course, bad nights like that can shake a pickers confidence. Let's see if today's picks can get things back on track. Friday:

  • The Astros over the Cubs: Paul Maholm isn't getting anyone out these days. Bud Norris is back from injuries that probably derailed his success in late May. Going with Norris, because of he is right, he is the better pitchers.
  • The White Sox over the Yankees: Jose Quintana has been spectacular for the White Sox and is the kind of pitcher that beats the Yankees: He doesn't walk anyone. Adam Warren gets his first big league start for the Yankees. That never gives this picker the warm fuzzies.
  • The Orioles over the Indians: Just not feeling Derek Lowe, who hasn't been good since his altercation with Dusty Baker. Well, he wasn't good even before that. But anyway, Jake Arrieta needs to continue pitching well like his last time out for this pick to come in.
  • The Angels over the Blue Jays: The Blue Jays can get to Ervin Santana. But Carlos Villanueva is going to start for the Blue Jays and likely will only pitch four or five innings. Never like those situations.
  • The Tigers over the Rays: What a match-up! Justin Verlander versus David Price! When deciding on this pick, it came down to the belief that the Tigers have a better chance of scoring two runs off of Price than the Rays do of scoring those runs against Verlander.
  • The Marlins over the Phillies: Another great pitching lineup. Cliff Lee tries to win a game. The Marlins tries not to lose a game that Josh Johnson pitches. Interesting to see which one happens.
  • The Nationals over the Braves: The Braves need to make a pitching move because Randall Delgado is not working out. That will be the difference in this game unless the Nats are hung over from their series in Colorado. Ross Detwiler should keep the Nats in the game.
  • The Brewers over the Diamondbacks: Alas, Ian Kennedy cannot sustain solid outings. He isn't what he was last season. Randy Wolf is decent at home and the Brewers win more often than not at their home park.
  • The Royals over the Twins: Not feeling this game or either pitcher. Luis Mendoza has not pitched well. And Brian Duensing was crushed in his first start last time out.
  • The Rockies over the Padres: This one is as bad as the last pick. Sheesh. Jason Marquis against 75 pitches of Jeff Francis? How do you pick that? It's a crap shoot at best.
  • The Cardinals over the Pirates: As this picker predicted, Adam Wainwright is rounding into ace form. He will need to be an ace as the Pirates are doing much better on offense. This pick is a pick against Kevin Correia as anything else.
  • The Red Sox over the Mariners: AaRon Cook should neutralize the lefty batters of the Mariners and the Red Sox should get to Hector Noesi. Middlebrooks has gone silent since Youkilis was traded. Hmm...
  • The Mets over the Dodgers: The Yankees showed that R.A. Dickey is a mere mortal after all. But he should rebound against a cold Dodgers' lineup. Aaron Harang is usually decent at home though.
  • The Giants over the Reds: The Giants are in first place. Can you believe it? Matt Cain should keep them there at home over the Reds. Mike Leake should...well...leak enough to allow the Giants to win.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Rangers over the Athletics: A.J. Griffin was fine his first outing, but that wasn't against this Rangers' lineup. Matt Harrison should be able to keep the A's quiet.

Yesterday: 4-8
Week: 42-29
Month: 217-158
Season: 618-499
Games of the Day: 51-32

Thursday, June 28, 2012

BBA Linkfest - ballots in general

Welcome to another circuit around the General Chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. Every Thursday, a links post celebrates the work of our great writers from around the world. The post heading comes from the fact that many of our folks are considering their All Star Ballot. This link compiler's ballot can be found here. But there are a lot more in these links than All Star picks. So, use that mouse and click to your heart's content.

Let's start with Call to the Pen since they always have great content. Justin Turner tells us that the Rockies are sellers who aren't selling their best chips.

Most people think Yankee fans are bad guys. But Mario Salvini of Che Palle! tells us the story of one who really was a bad guy.

It has been a treat to read Matt Whitener's stuff over at Cheap.Seats.Please. But Matt has a new gig and a step up the ladder, as they say. Good luck, Matt, and congrats.

This Fan's bud, TheNaturalMevs over at Diamond Hoggers writes about one crushing swing from Josh Willingham.

In a very fun post, For Baseball Junkies put their heads together and came up with their mid-season awards. Great read.

In a great piece over at Full Spectrum Baseball, Trish Vignola discovers some common ground with Ozzie Guillen. Let's hope Trish doesn't get fired soon too.

The Baseball Index gives us good news and bad news concerning the Arizona Diamondbacks. And the site joined Yardbarker. Cool.

Mike Rosenbaum, good friend and proprietor of The Golden Sombrero leads a charmed life. He has a post that leads off with a misspelling of a human waste event and it still works. How good is that? The post is funny too.

The wonderful guest posts continue over at The Hall of Very Good, celebrating that great site's anniversary. The favorite one this week was from good friend and uber-talented, Jeff Polman, who you should follow on Twitter as @mysteryball58.

Yay! Hot Corner Harbor's retired number series finally got to the Yankees! But make sure you also read the site's take on Cliff Lee too. Takes on a big-time writer, it does.

Left Field is back at creating wonderful posts in its All Time Teams series. This week covers the Cleveland Indians. Love this series!

Over at, the Giants surge is covered with a special wish for Tim Lincecum.

The Trevor Bauer Experience is set to begin for MLB fans. Michael Schwartze of MLB Dirt gives you this terrific scouting report. With video!

Ah. Nostalgia is as big a part of baseball as the present schedule. As such, this compiler absolutely loved Chuck Booth's retrospective on the Montreal Expos' record of drafting pitchers. Great stuff over at MLB Reports.

Nik over at Niktig's Baseball Blog posts his All Star Ballot. Thoughts?

Erik Eitel of has a great report on the state of minor league baseball attendance.

In a post that only MTD could come up with (yes, that's a very good thing), he has a post at his Off Base Percentage site on something the Cleveland Indians have collected more than any other team in history (probably). And be sure to read his other post even though this compiler is calling Mom to tell her that MTD called Matt Kemp a very bad name.

If you are a comic book fan, you'll adore this post at Old Time Family Baseball. And it even mentions the Metrodome. How cool is that?

This compiler completely agrees with Geoff Ratliff on his assessment of the Dodgers posted over at Pop Fly Boys this week.

Speaking of agreeing with stuff, how dead on is Jason Wojciechowski in his piece over at The Platoon Advantage on players celebrating. Preach it! And have a great time in Atlanta this weekend, Jason.

Replacement Level Baseball Blog has a well-thought-out and enjoyable-to-read version of the All Star Ballot.

Sully of Sully Baseball has his All Star Ballot at his site. Be sure to read his latest piece at Bleacher Report too on Phil Hughes. Excellent.

Jed Rigney of Through the Fence Baseball has a fun article on Kevin Youkilis' departure from the Red Sox. It is a love story of sorts.

Joey Smith of the X-Log is getting really sick of hearing one particular song at the ballparks. Right on. Maybe.

Russ Blatt of 85% Sports has a new way to pick the home field advantage of the World Series. It has to be better than the current way! Excellent post.

Forget the All Star Ballot. Baseball Unrated is doing the non-all stars over at that site. Here is an example.

Have a great week, everyone!

Game Picks - Thursday: June 28, 2012

For the second straight day, the Game Picks have been excellent. The two day total is 24-6. Holy cow, this prognosticator should just quit now while ahead. There were only four incorrect picks yesterday. It was all too good to be true for the Cubs who were overrun by the Mets in one of the most lopsided games in quite a while. The 17-1 final score of that game made it one of the most spectacular incorrect picks in this picker's history. The Royals beat the Bay Rays again. While not unhappy at that outcome, it did go against the pick for the game. The Marlins ended a losing streak as the Cardinal bullpen throttled that pick. And the Rangers were too much for Doug Fister. Should have seen that coming.

But no complaints. There were so many other good picks. The Lucas Harrell pick was great as was James McDonald and the Pirates. Tim Lincecum did what was predicted here and pushed the Giants into a tie that no one would have expected a few weeks ago. It was a good day.

There are twelve games on the schedule today. Not bad for a Thursday. Here are today's picks:

  • The Phillies over the Pirates: A.J. Burnett needs one more good start to make the All Star Team. And on the face of things, the Phillies seem to be vulnerable, especially with Kyle Kendrick pitching. But Chase Utley is back and will ruin the party.
  • The Nationals over the Rockies: Heck, even the Rockies' pitching coach bailed on the team. Bob Apadaca said, "Enough of the crap," and asked to be reassigned. Smart move. The Nats have outscored the Rockies something like three dozen to a half dozen in the first two games. Edwin Jackson reaps the benefits and Josh Outman continues to be a baseball oxymoron.
  • The Blue Jays over the Angels: Dan Haren doesn't look right. And he's been getting banged around. The Blue Jays have been banging starting pitchers around for a couple of weeks now. Brett Cecil is pitching like he was really mad about going to the minors.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Braves: The Trevor Bauer era begins and we are stoked! Of course, the Braves are a tough team to make a debut against. But what the heck. If the guy is that good, it shouldn't matter. Jair Jurrjens was improbably good his first time back from the minors. Don't see him repeating it.
  • The Bay Rays over the Tigers: Two thus far disappointing teams. The Rays offense is suspect. But Max Scherzer has never beaten them. James Shields is back to being a home run derby pitcher like two years ago. Tough game to call.
  • The Rangers over the Athletics: Not sure if the Rangers will win because of or in spite of Scott Feldman. Rather think it will be the latter. Tyson Ross will provide little resistance to the Rangers' lineup.
  • The Orioles over the Indians: The Indians did not look very impressive against the Yankees other than taking out Andy Pettitte (alas). Zach McAllister will get another crack at starting in this one. Wei-Yin Chen has had a very strong season for the Orioles.
  • The Padres over the Astros: The battle of the terrible offenses continues. Andrew Cashner is making his first start of the year after being sent to the minors to get stretched out. Dallas Keuchel pitched in improbable shutout his last time out. Who knows.
  • The Mariners over the Red Sox: Going with Felix Hernandez in this one despite the fact that the Red Sox' offense has been really good of late. The King will shut them down. The only questions is if the Mariners can score a couple against Franklin Morales who has been surprisingly good as a starter.
  • The Dodgers over the Mets: In a battle of comeback pitchers, Chris Capuano is just too tough at home to pick against. Chris Young pitched well against the Yankees. The Dodgers really need a win after being swept by the Giants.
  • The Reds over the Giants: Madison Bumgarner is a fly ball pitcher and the Reds are a fly ball team that can hit them out. Johnny Cueto has been outstanding for the Reds.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Yankees over the White Sox: The Bronx Bombers will take advantage of Dylan Axelrod's inexperience and the winning machine, Ivan Nova, will get the run support he needs and always seems to get.
Yesterday: 11-4
Week: 38-21
Month: 213-150
Season: 613-491
Games of the Day: 51-31

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Game Picks - Wednesday: June 27, 2012

What an amazing night for a game picker! The picks yesterday were the picking equivalent of sticking a golf ball within a foot of the cup on a par three hole. It was almost a hole in one! It was like a 279 game in bowling where you missed a perfect 300 game by one strike. In other words, Woohoo! Those are the days you dream about. There were only two incorrect picks. The Royals beat the Bay Rays. And the Mariners beat the A's. This picker can live with that.

So how do you follow up a day like that? You just try not to pooch it up too badly. Wednesday's picks:

  • The Brewers over the Reds: It is very hard to pick against Zack Greinke these days. In his last start, he did away with the road games bugaboo and pitched brilliantly. Homer Bailey will have to pitch his heart out to keep up.
  • The Yankees over the Indians: The Yankees will make Ubaldo Jimenez throw strikes, which means he might last five innings. Andy Pettitte needs to limit long balls and the Yanks pick up yet another win.
  • The White Sox over the Twins: Chris Sale scares this picker. He looks so fragile. But he keeps on pitching great, so we'll go with him over Nick Blackburn.
  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: Jon Lester, in a perfect world, should beat Ricky Romero. Romero's 8-1 record is not indicative of how he has pitched and the same goes for Lester. Will Middlebrooks has gone 1 for 8 with two errors since Youkilis was traded. Oops.
  • The Bay Rays over the Royals: Tough game to call. Matt Moore needs to pitch better than he has and go longer in his outings. And there is no telling what Everett Teaford will bring to the table.
  • The Cubs over the Mets: Oh why the heck not go with a Cubs' sweep here. Jeff Samardzija has been falling off of late and may be a bit tired. Jon Niese is a pretty good pitcher. But the Mets can't seem to win at Wrigley.
  • The Athletics over the Mariners: Which team will score more than two runs? Jarrod Parker has been solid and Kevin Millwood has been surprising at times. Who knows.
  • The Giants over the Dodgers: The Giants are on a mission and a win ties them with the Dodgers. Chad Billingsley is always a mystery and Tim Lincecum got mad enough in his last start to finally pitch well. Someone should steal his cookies before this start and keep him mad.
  • The Pirates over the Phillies: Raul Valdes is starting for the Phillies!? Seriously!? Well, alrighty then. The pick then gravitates to James McDonald.
  • The Braves over the Diamondbacks: Two teams that can't seem to put it all together with two pitchers that should be better but are not. Trevor Cahill is just pitching okay and the same can be said for Tommy Hanson. Going with the home team: Braves.
  • The Cardinals over the Marlins: Two teams going in opposite directions. The Marlins can't buy a win these days and Anibal Sanchez is baffling in how few games he wins. Joe Kelly does not inspire confidence, but going this his team anyway.
  • The Tigers over the Rangers: Doug Fister needs to come up big for this to come true. But he is capable of doing that. Still not sold on Roy Oswalt until he has a few more starts under his belt.
  • The Astros over the Padres: Lucas Harrell is 4- 1 at home. But that doesn't convince anything. Clayton Richard has won three straight, but that doesn't convince anything. One of them has to win.
  • The Nationals over the Rockies: Jordan Zimmermann never gets run support. But he is at Coors Field, so maybe that will change. The Rockies are going with Edwar Cabrera, who has a big arm and no major league experience.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Angels over the Orioles: Jason Hammel has been good. Picked him for the All Star squad. But Jered Weaver is so much better.

Yesterday: 13-2 !!
Week: 27-17
Month: 202-146
Season: 603-487
Games of the Day: 50-31

Chapman did NOT do a somersault

After Tuesday night's escapades of Aroldis Chapman following his save, the one word used over and over was, "somersault." Chapman did NOT do  a somersault. This is what a somersault looks like:

What Chapman did is a forward roll.

Got it?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Fan's All Star Ballot

The All Star Game sure snuck up on us, did it not? The event is just a few short days away. Everyone has an opinion of who should be at the game. So what's one more voice added to the mix? And while this vote is based as much as possible on who deserves to be at the game based on performance, a few sentimental picks needed to be added because what is an All Star Game without future Hall of Fame players added to the mix? Each position will list a starter and a backup.

National League:

- First base:  Starter: Joey Votto. The best hitter on the planet. Backup: Paul Goldschmidt
- Second base:  Starter: Aaron Hill.  Backup: Dan Uggla or Brandon Phillips (too close to call)
- Shortstop: Starter: Jed Lowrie. That takes care of the Astros. Backup: Starlin Castro.
- Third base: Starter: David Wright. Backup: Chase Headley. Chipper Jones (just because).
- Right Field: Starter: Carlos Beltran. Backups: Jason Heyward and Andre Ethier.
- Center field: Starter: Andrew McCutchen. Backup: Michael Bourn.
- Left field: Starter: Ryan Braun. Backups: Martin Prado and Melky Cabrera.
- Catcher: Starter: Carlos Ruiz. Backup: Yadier Molina

- Starting pitchers: Zack Greinke, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Matt Cain, James McDonald, R.A. Dickey, Johnny Cueto and Wade Miley.

- Relief pitchers: Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, Matt Belisle and Tyler Clippard.

American League:

- First base: Starter: Paul Konerko. Backup: Edwin Encarnation.
- Second base: Starter: Robinson Cano. Backup: Jason Kipnis.
- Shortstop: Starter: Elvis Andrus, Backups: AsdrubAl Cabrera and Derek Jeter (just because).
- Third base: Starter: Brett Lawrie. Backup: Mike Moustakas
- Left field: Starter: Mike Trout. Backup: Josh Hamilton.
- Center field: Starter: Adam Jones. Backup: Austin Jackson.
- Right field: Starter: Mark Trumbo. Backups: Jose Bautista and Josh Reddick
- Catcher: Starter: Joe Mauer. Backups: A.J. Pierzynski and Matt Wieters.
- Designated hitter: David Ortiz

- Starting pitchers: Justin Verlander, C.C. Sabathia, Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, Jason Hammel, Matt Harrison, David Price and Jered Weaver.

- Relief pitchers: Joaquin Benoit, Fernando Rodney, Chris Perez and Scott Atchison.

That's this Fan's ballot. Thoughts?

The ten most high-WPA games by batters

Something special was needed to celebrate Derek Jeter's 38th birthday. So the idea was created to list his top 38 regular season games by WPA. Since WPA stands for Win Probability Added and Jeter is all about the team winning, it seemed the perfect vehicle. Writing that post led to wondering who had the most high WPA games in a career. And that led to this post here. There are a lot of great statistics, but WPA is sort of neat because it tries to quantify how much a batter adds to (or subracts from) his team's chances of winning the game.

High WPA games are easier to record by pitchers because their job is to prevent runs. If they do so, then they will record a high WPA. Nolan Ryan leads all pitchers since the stat began being recorded with 108. The statistic cannot be used for the old timers. Play by play data was spotty until 1946 and even from 1946 to 1973, the data is incomplete with some 20 percent of the games missing. Even so, records the stat from 1946 to the present.

The frame of reference point used for a batter was a WPA score of .400 or higher for the game. With a WPA of .400 or higher, the batter had a significant hand in winning the game for his team. Derek Jeter has had 12 such games. Alex Rodriguez has had 32. Chipper Jones has had 24. And those three are Hall of Fame kinds of careers. Hitting a huge home run is the easiest way to score highly. So who are the top ten? Only one name will surprise you.

- 1. Willie Mays - 56 of them. His last was in 1973 at the age of 42 when he pinch hit and drove in two runs with a single to change a 7-6 loss into an 8-7 win. As mentioned, his total could be higher if some data wasn't missing. He hit 53 homers in these 56 games and added 18 doubles and 8 triples. Yeah, that will get it done.

- 2. Barry Bonds - 55 games with a WPA at or over .400. These 55 games included 57 homers, 28 doubles, 5 triples and 160 runs batted in. Woof.

- 3. Harmon Killebrew - 51 games. He hit 51 homers in these games and knocked in 137.

- 3. Hank Aaron - 51 games with 52 homers and 144 ribbies. Yeah, that will win some games.

- 5. Willie McCovey - 49 games. The Giants had two of the greatest clutch hitters of all time. What a combination.

- 6. Frank Robinson - 46 games. The Triple Crown winner and MVP winner in both leagues was one of the greatest players this writer ever got to watch. 

- 7. Eddie Murray - 43 times. Is he the most underrated Hall of Famer of all time? Seems so.

- 8. Bobby Murcer - 42 times. This is the surprise. Doesn't this blow your mind? And he did it with the fewest homers in the top ten and is the only one in the top ten that should not be in the Hall of Fame.

- 9. Mickey Mantle - 41 times. It makes sense that Mantle is here. It makes less sense that he had one less than Murcer.

- 10. Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Jackson and Mike Piazza are all tied with 40 times each. Three more who are or should be in the Hall of Fame.

So Bobby Murcer is the anomaly and one of the most under-appreciated clutch hitters of his times. Injuries and Shea Stadium derailed his career a bit. But he sure helped his teams win.

Game Picks - Tuesday: June 26, 2012

Interleague ends. Normal games are back. The picks go in the toilet. Oh my. That was not good. How bad was it? One of the few correct picks was a pick for Barry Zito. Yeah, that is bad. Nothing went right. Strasburg lost. Was Karstens really picked? Was that a moment of insanity? What happened to Felix Doubront? Yikes, that was brutal. And the Strasburg game was the Game of the Day. Double grrrr.

Okay. It is time to forget all about it and pick Tuesday's games:

  • The Angels over the Orioles: In a battle of lefties, the pick has to go to C.J. Wilson over Brian Matusz, whose gains earlier in the season seem to be sliding down again.
  • The Yankees over the Indians: This is the Indians' best chance to take a game in this series as Justin Masterson has been very good of late and Phil Hughes is always a disaster waiting to happen. But you can't pick against the Yankees these days.
  • The Phillies over the Pirates: Jimmy Rollins is on a homer binge. Erik Bedard has been absolutely awful on the road and Vance Worley usually keeps the Phillies in the game.
  • The Braves over the Diamondbacks: Not since Henry Hudson sailed on the Hudson River have we had so much excitement with the name, Hudson. Going with Tim Hudson over Daniel Hudson as the Braves are at home.
  • The Reds over the Brewers: Faced with having to pick the homer machine, Bronson Arroyo, or a pitcher who is 0-3 and just coming off the disabled list (Marco Estrada) is not a whole lot of fun. One of them has to win.
  • The Cardinals over the Marlins: Is it official now? Can we truly say that the Marlins are a mess? Is the Ozzie death watch on? Hey, Heath, was your command messed up or was it just a bad game. Who asks those kinds of stupid questions anyway? Kyle Lohse over Carlos Zambrano.
  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: Aaron Laffey is pitching in a non-laffey situation. In other words, he is starting. What is a laffey? That is when the game is lopsided and Aaron Laffey comes in the game for mop duty. That is his career. That is his destiny. Not starting against the Red Sox. Daisuke Matsuzaka gets his first win of the season.
  • The Rangers over the Tigers: Don't care if Josh Hamilton is in a slump. Yu Darvish will shut down the Tigers and The Emoticon, Drew Smyly, is back from the disabled list.
  • The Cubs over the Mets: Can the Cubs win two straight games started by Travis Wood and now Randy Wells? Why, yes they can. Have you seen the Mets record in Wrigley since 2000? It is something like 10-22. That is the pick even though Dillon Gee is on a roll.
  • The Asros over the Padres: Okay. somebody want to help out on this one? Jordan Lyles against the return-from-the-dead Kip Wells. Oh dear Lord, what do you do with this?
  • The Bay Rays over the Royals: It is pretty bad when you would rather go with the unknown quantity of Chris Archer over the known quantity of Bruce Chen, especially when Chen has not fared well against the Rays in the past.
  • The Nationals over the Rockies: Christian Friedrich has been good for the Rockies, but Gio Gonzalez has to be the pick for this one. The Nationals' offense is in a deep funk though.
  • The Athletics over the Mariners: Travis Blackley made his major league debut for the Mariners way back in 2004. Now he gets to beat them. Jason Vargas will try to have something to say about that. He better limit the long ball if he hopes to.
  • The Giants over the Dodgers: Ryan Vogelsong out-duels Clayton Kershaw as the Giants inch closer to the lead of the NL West. Is Kemp ever coming back?

And the Game of the Day!

  • The White Sox over the Twins: Liriano can't pitch every day, so this one is safe. Gavin Floyd has to be the pick over Liam Hendriks.

Yesterday: 5-8
Week: 14-15
Month: 189-144
Season: 590-485
Games of the Day: 49-31

Monday, June 25, 2012

David Wright's scorching season

People had forgotten how good David Wright really is. Falling off his peak seasons of 2007 and 2008, his value as a player dipped in 2009 to half of what he was worth in 2007 and only rebounded slightly in 2010. But then in 2011, David Wright became invisible as his season was filled with injuries and sad production that saw his OPS fall all the way to .771. Oh, that was still better than your average third baseman. But he seemed to have lost his luster. Not turn the page to 2012. Whoa! David Wright this season is the second most valuable player in the National League.

David Wright's season to this point has been breathtaking. His OPS of 1.020 does little to totally explain how good Wright has been. His wRC+ is second only to Votto in baseball. But his overall numbers give a more well-rounded picture of what kind of season he is having. There are gold nuggets wherever you look.

Let's start with plate discipline. David Wright will not swing at bad pitches. He has only swung at 21 percent of pitches out of the strike zone. A tremendous rate and the best of his career. While being more choosy at the plate, when he does swing, he is not missing. Wright has averaged over a hundred strikeouts a season for his career. This despite a swing and miss rate that on average was in the 7.1 percent range. That is not bad. But this season, that swing and miss rate is all the way down to 5.9 percent. Combine that will his added discipline and Wright's strikeout rate is the lowest of his career at 13 percent. His career average is 18 percent.

The converse of not striking out is walking. Again, Wright's walk percentage is the highest of his career. It currently sits at 14.7 percent and his career average is 11.4 percent. He has been walked intentionally eight times and that helps a little, but for the first time in Wright's career, he has more walks than strikeouts.

David Wright played only 102 games last season and had 99 hits. He has played 69 games so far this season and has 91 hits. Wright hit 23 doubles last season. He already has 24 this season. Wright walked 54 times last season. He has already walked 44 times this season. Wright hit 52 line drives all last season. He has hit 49 line drives already this season. His line drive percentage is much higher than the last two seasons and more reminiscent of his 2007 and 2008 seasons. 

And probably the favorite statistic of them all? David Wright has only popped the ball to the infield once all season.

Wright's season has helped the Mets in their improbable position of contending in the National League East and in the wild card race. But it also creates a quandary for the Mets who must decide what to do with Wright long term. It would have behooved the Mets to tie him up long term after last season when his value was at its lowest. The team has an option on him for 2013 at $16 million and most certainly will exercise it. But his long term cost has now gone through the roof.

David Wright should really be one of those franchise players that plays his entire career with the Mets. Whether that will happen or not seems about 50/50 right now. Like most elite players, Wright has had some off seasons. But when his seasons are on, they are unbelievably good. 2012 has been one of those and if it wasn't for that guy named Votto, Wright would be the MVP if that award was voted on right now.

Game Picks - Monday: June 25, 2012

Wow! That was a struggle just like the Yankees - Mets game that clinched a positive day. To start things off, the Phillies were picked to sweep the Rays. Heck, with Hamels and Lee pitching, that sounded good, right? Uh...wrong. The the Indians lost. And the Giants lost on a walk-off by a rookie A's catcher, bless his furry face. The Aroldis Chapman blew a save. The the Pirates lost a heart-breaker. And yet, somehow the picks rallied like some kind of Rocky character. You could almost hear the music as he was running up those steps.

Interleague is finally over. Only one AL pitcher was hurt running the bases. But there were a lot of ugly at bats. For the last time, the DH should be the rule in all interleague contests. But anyway, we are back to normal today. Thank goodness. Here are Monday's normal picks:

  • The Yankees over the Indians: Josh Tomlin can be good. But the Yankees are back home and unless they have a letdown after a big win against the Mets, that should be the difference. As usual, Hiroki Kuroda needs to limit the damage. Johnny Damon comes back to Yankee Stadium.
  • The Pirates over the Phillies: The Phillies just had an awful Sunday. Do not see them recovering with a spent bullpen and tired players. Jeff Karstens (Egads!) over Joe Blanton.
  • The Reds over the Brewers: Mat Latos is looking mighty fine lately. Yovani Gallardo is iffy on the road. The Brewers just aren't very good this season. Not like last year.
  • The Cardinals over the Marlins: The Cardinals are the better team. The one thing is whether Jake Westbrook can have a decent game or if Ricky Nolasco is the good version or the bad version.
  • The Red Sox over the Blue Jays: Can't you see it now? Middlebrooks makes an error at third and strikes out with men in scoring position and the fans pine for Youkilis. Strange times. All that said, Felix Doubront has been the most consistent Red Sox starter. He should beat Henderson Alvarez.
  • The Rangers over the Tigers: The Rangers at home? Check. An inconsistent opponent starter? Rick Porcello. Check. A top quality starter...uh...Justin Grimm...No check. But the Rangers still win.
  • The Mets over the Cubs: The Mets had a tough weekend, but they are a resilient bunch. Johan Santana shuts down the Cubs and the Mets dink and dunk Travis Wood to death.
  • The Astros over the Padres: Let's see. The Astros lost Altuve, but Wandy Rodriguez is pitching. Ross Ohlendorf is a Fan favorite, but let's be realistic here.
  • The White Sox over the Twins: Jake Peavy has a good night and Kevin Youkilis gets three hits in his White Sox debut or walks three times facing the erratic Francisco Liriano. Either way works.
  • The Bay Rays over the Royals: The Royals had a dreadful weekend. But Luke Hochevar has been good lately. Is that hard to trust? Yes. Alex Cobb goes for the Bay Rays who swept the Phillies yesterday.
  • The Athletics over the Mariners: Erasmo Ramirez anyone? No takers? None? Yeah, you're right. Going with Tommy Milone in this one. Though Ichiro Suzuki is on a hot streak.
  • The Giants over the Dodgers: Nathan Eovaldi never gets any runs to play with. Wait...this pick is counting on Barry Zito? Uh oh.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Nationals over the Rockies: Stephen Strasburg's stuff will transfer to Coors Field just fine. And the Nats get to face Jeff Francis. Michael Morse is going to do something good in this game.

Yesterday: 9-7
Week: 9-7
Month: 184-136
Season: 585-477
Games of the Day: 49-30

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Shut up about the Red Sox already

Two major writers took the time to discuss the Boston Red Sox clubhouse and skewered the team. In both cases, the writers used innuendo and vagueness in their reporting. That is not journalism. That is rumor-mongering. If you are a journalist and make such declarative statements, then back it up. First there was Buster Olney, a writer that is appreciated here because he delivers day after day, even on weekends. But he was clearly in the wrong in this piece. And then another respected writer, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, wrote this article basically stating the same things. Back it up, or shut up.

Olney says the unhappiness of the players and staff are "multi-layered." But then does nothing to tell us what those layers are. If you are not going to risk your access to the team by stating what the problems are, then the reporting should not happen at all. And that is what this is about here. Olney and Brown simply do not want to upset the Red Sox enough to lose access to the players and the manager. But that is chicken-journalism. If you want to protect your access enough so you do not report what you are reporting, then don't report it. Brown tells us that there are petty-feuds and cliques but then holds back on who are involved and what those problems are and then hides behind the old, "Reports are that..."

The result of such poor journalism is to put it in people's minds that there are great problems and then let the average fan, bloggers and even television personalities speculate on who the bad guys are. The conclusions are that Josh Beckett and especially, Kevin Youkilis, are the ones wearing the black hats here. Youkilis is unhappy about not playing. Wouldn't you expect that when a player has been a main cast member for years and suddenly has lost a job to a rookie? He wants to play and still feels he can play. There is no more natural reaction than that.

And yet, Mitch Williams of the MLB Network declares that Kevin Youkilis must be traded because he has jumped to the conclusion that based on reports by Olney and Brown that Youkilis is one of the cancers to the situation. Is that fair? Perhaps Youkilis is the bad guy here. But unless we have that information reported to us directly, such speculation is unfair and the natural result of being vague in the reporting. And you can tell that Williams is basing his statements on these journalists because he does not make a persuasive argument on why Youkilis should be traded. In fact, he made no argument whatsoever.

Without further facts, Youkilis being traded should be reported based on him being a surplus player right now that could bring back something that could help the Red Sox. Any other way of reporting it is not right unless you reveal more than what has been revealed thus far.

Of course, Youkilis did not help his case by disputing what Valentine said about talking to the player about benching him. But that is Valentine's fault for being duplicitous. Valentine had to backtrack because he lied. Plain and simple. Perhaps Valentine is the problem. His communication certainly seems to be directed to the press more than to the players and he has been called out by the players on at least three occasions this season. That is terrible management skills if you ask this humble observer.

Where is the front office in this situation? Why haven't they brought the players and manager together and read them the riot act? Perhaps they have. But that doesn't seem to be the case. David Ortiz is right. The place is a sh** hole right now. And writers like Olney and Brown stirring up the pot without revealing the contents of that pot does not do service to the situation. Instead, their chicken journalism leads to innuendos and causing people to take sides when we do not even know what the sides are. At least one thing is for certain: Somebody is going to get rich writing a book about all this stuff.

Despite all of this, the Red Sox are still a viable contender in the American League East and in the wild card race. If they manage to grab a playoff spot, it might be the most against-all-odds story of the season.

Game Picks - Sunday: June 24, 2012

The week ended nicely as ten of the fifteen games were picked correctly. As usual, despite the success, the incorrect picks stick in this picker's craw. Everything Colby Lewis threw, the Rockies hit. Thinking that Randall Delgado could get the Boston Red Sox' lineup out was stupid in hindsight. The good Edwin Jackson showed up against the Orioles with a superb effort, showing once again that he is the most baffling of all pitchers. Cleveland got smoked by the Astros. Say what!? The Brewers - White Sox game could have gone either way and the Brewers' bullpen made sure it went the wrong way. But again, those were the only bad picks in a pretty decent day.

Sunday is going to be fantastic as there are sixteen games on the schedule (the Phillies and Rays will play two). Two ace match-ups occur as well. It is going to be a fun day. Sunday's picks:

  • The Phillies over the Rays: David Price and Cole Hamels are two of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball. One of them has to win. And with the way the Rays' offense has been going, the edge goes to Hamels, especially since the Rays' lineup has more trouble with lefties.
  • The Reds over the Twins: Mike Leake looked great his last time out and is pitching at home. Scott Diamond has been good this season, but he struggled his last time out and the Great American Ballpark will not treat him kindly.
  • The Marlins over the Blue Jays: There is much hesitation in this pick as the Blue Jays are killing the ball right now. But they are starting Jesse Chavez again and his first outing showed he is not major league ready. Mark Buehrle better be at his best though.
  • The Red Sox over the Braves: If Mike Minor struggled against the Yankees, he will struggle more against the Red Sox. The Red Sox are starting AaRon Cook, which would be a stretch on most days. But that has a chance to work as the Braves are hampered by southpaws. Fredi is overusing Jonny Venters again.
  • The Tigers over the Pirates: The pick has to go with Justin Verlander as he should be able to completely shut down the Pirates. Kevin Correia should bend enough to give the Tigers a much needed win.
  • The Nationals over the Orioles: The Orioles are not hitting right now. But Ross Detwiler, who won the job back from Chien-Ming Wang, needs to be very good. Jake Arrieta hasn't had a good game in quite a while.
  • The Indians over the Astros: Derek Lowe has been pretty putrid in the month of June. He should rebound a bit against the Astros: J.A. Happ has nine quality starts this season, but is still 5-7.
  • The White Sox over the Brewers: Just like yesterday, anything can happen with Jose Quintana versus Mike Fiers. Quintana's economic pitching leans the pick his way. The guy throws strikes.
  • The Cardinals over the Royals: The I-70 series comes to a conclusion for the year and Lance Lynn needs to have a big game for the Cards. If he limits the Royals to three runs or less, Lynn should win as the Royals are starting Jonathan Sanchez, whose only claim to fame was being the weak link of the Melky Cabrera trade.
  • The Angels over the Dodgers: Garrett Richards is making a case to be the next great Angels' starter. He should be able to get the Dodgers out. Aaron Harang could have trouble with the Angels' lineup and if he does, this game will be lopsided.
  • The Mariners over the Padres: Hector Noesi is 2-8 while Edinson Volquez is 3-7. How do you pick that? Noesi had a great start against the Padres in another outing this season, so that will be the pick.
  • The Giants over the Athletics: Matt Cain. Enough said? No? Okay, how about Brandon McCarthy being scratched and a big TBO next two where the A's starter is supposed to be?
  • The Diamondbacks over the Cubs: Wade Miley has been the best D-backs starter this season. The Cubs should not be much of an obstacle for him. But his team will have to score some runs off of Matt Garza, which isn't always easy to do.
  • The Phillies over the Bay Rays: Cliff Lee finishes the sweep and gets his first win of the season. The Rays don't have a pitcher listed for today's start and that's never a good thing.
  • The Yankees over the Mets: C.C. Sabathia hasn't had a dominant start in a long while. He will need one today as R.A. Dickey has been majestic. If both pitchers are at the top of their game, then it becomes a bullpen battle and the Yankees should win late.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Rangers over the Rockies: The Rangers should feast on Alex White for 75 pitches (no, this picker can't let it go) and Matt Harrison wins his tenth game. This one should be a lock. But that's why they play the game. (cliche alert!).

Yesterday: 10-5
Last week: 53-35
Month: 175-129
Season: 576-470
Games of the Day: 48-30