Saturday, June 08, 2013

Cardinals making the most of their base runners

After watching the Yankees most of the season (nearly every game), it was eye-opening watching the St. Louis Cardinals dismantle the Reds yesterday in the Reds' backyard. And what had me drooling with envy was the approach the Cardinals had with runners on base. As I have written this week for It's About the Money, Stupid, the Yankees are so pull happy that they often fail with runners on base and in scoring position because pitchers can take advantage of that proclivity. But not the Cardinals. They are more than happy to take that outside pitch up the middle or to the opposite field, particularly their right-hand hitting bats. The numbers are pretty astounding.

Obviously, the Cardinals are really doing everything well except for their relief pitching. The starting rotation has been fabulous with a bunch of home grown talent supporting Adam Wainwright. As a team, the Cardinals have the best ERA in the National League, give up the fewest homers and give up the second fewest amount of walks. As scary for the rest of the league as that is, the Cardinals also have the best batting average and on-base percentage in the National League. If you are the best pitching staff and the best offense, you are going to win some games. It is no secret why they are the first Major League team to forty victories.

But their offense has some secrets that are pretty amazing to discover. For example: As a team, the Cardinals have a batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .381 with runners on base. The league average is .303. With runners in scoring position, the Cardinals have a BABIP of .401 compared to the league average of .300. That is pretty astounding. While that kind of pace would seem to be impossible to maintain, there is a reason the Cardinals are so successful--they hit the ball up the middle and the other way.

While the Cardinals do lead the NL in batting average and on-base percentage, the numbers are not that staggering. Other teams in history have hit much higher. And their slugging percentage is only five points higher than the league average. What makes them special right now is that when runners are on base, they make the most of those opportunities.

Here are some numbers to back up what I am talking about. In all of baseball, when batters hit line drives good things happen. In the majors as a whole, when the batter hits a line drive, a run will score at least 23.9 percent of the time as a result of that batted ball. With the Cardinals, that number jumps to 25.6 percent of the time. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

When all batters in baseball hit the ball to the opposite field, the percentage of runs batted in per batted ball is 13.4 percent. With the Cardinals, opposite field batted balls result in runs batted in 16.6 percent of the time.  That is impressive.

Some of this shows up in their ground ball stats. While the Cardinals OPS on ground balls is 26 points higher than the entire Major League average (.520 versus .494), the ground balls score more runs for the Cardinals than the rest of the league. When the league hits a ground ball, those lead to runs batted in only 6.7 percent of the time. When the Cardinals hit ground balls, those lead to runs batted in 9.8 percent of the time.

While some of this is accounted for by having more runners on base than anyone else (highest OBP, right?), a good part of it is the willingness and ability to hit the ball where it is pitched. And this is almost strictly a right-handed batting phenomenon for the Cardinals.

Cardinals' left-handed batters actually pull the ball more than league average and have a lower percentage of batted balls up the middle and opposite field than the rest of baseball. But the right-handed bats more than make up for it.

The league average (and when I say, "League" here, I mean all of baseball) for the percentage of pulled batted balls by right-handed batters is 26.7 percent. The Cardinals' right-handed batters pull the ball only 23.8 percent of the time. The MLB average for right-handed bats going up the middle is 55.8 percent. The Cardinals' right-handed bats go up the middle 57.3 percent of the time leaving their percentage of pulling the ball 1.6 percentage points lower than the league average.

It is this ability to be dynamic and use all fields that allows the Cardinals to develop rallies and keep them going.

Allen Craig, the Cardinals' most prolific RBI guy leads the way. He hits the ball to the opposite field 24.8 percent of the time. That beats the league average by 7.5 percentage points. He is batting .381 with men on base and a .412 batting average with men in scoring position. And 29 of his 43 runs batted in have been either up the middle or to the opposite field.

Matt Holliday has hit 32.4 percent of his batted balls to the opposite field! That almost doubles the league average. As a result, 24 of his 33 runs batted in have been up the middle or to the opposite field. He is batting .354 with men on base and .346 with runners in scoring position.

Yadier Molina came up as a great fielding and throwing catcher. He has become a great hitter by going the other way. Of his batted balls, 30.7 percent of them go to the opposite field and 22 of his 30 runs batted in have gone up the middle or to the opposite field. He is hitting .410 with runners on base and .377 with men in scoring position.

Among their star hitters, only Carlos Beltran is a pull hitter, especially from the right side of the plate. But he is their legitimate home run threat and is batting an incredible .478 with runners in scoring position.

The thing about this approach at the plate is that it is more slump proof than a pull-happy approach. Pitchers have to be honest and cannot simply live on the outside part of the plate with the Cardinals. I do not know how the Cardinals will hold up as the season progresses. But as of right now, they have the most versatile and resilient offense in baseball.

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: June 8, 2013

Andrea did her thing and the three games I said were in jeopardy yesterday were all washed out. The mini-monsoon is now directly over my head here in Maine washing out yet another weekend. That is bad for me, but good for the rest of the East Coast I suppose.

The picks were decent. The only game that seriously torqued me was the Yankees loss to the Mariners. Not that I begrudge the Mariners as their fans can use a win once in a while. But the Yankees single-handedly prolonged the career of Jeremy Bonderman and were pathetic in becoming a trivia quiz question for him. How did they do it? Their pull-happy ways allowed Bonderman to pitch outside and let the Yankees make their own outs. Compare their performance with the Cardinals who always go opposite field with runners on base. All of the Yankees outs except for three against Bonderman were pulled.

Okay, rant over. Saturday's picks:

  • The Red Sox over the Angels: These two teams will play two games today to make up yesterday's washout. The pitching line is the same as yesterday with Felix Doubront facing Tommy Hanson. Whatever Doubront gives up will be made up by the Red Sox' offense.
  • The Rangers over the Blue Jays: Mark Buehrle has been much better of late, but Yu Darvish--and this is the caveat--if he is on, will shut down the Blue Jays.
  • The Mets over the Marlins: The pitching line will be the same as yesterday's. The extra day benefits both Jose Fernandez and Matt Harvey as they are both young pitchers thrust into Major League rotations. Harvey is the more reliable however and that is the pick.
  • The Cubs over the Pirates: Jeff Samardzija and A.J. Burnett are both 3-6 and both deserve a far better record. Both should pitch well with Samardzija pitching just a little bit tighter. Poor A.J.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: Justin Masterson has pitched fourteen times against the Tigers and is 2-6 with an ERA of 5.09 and a WHIP of 1.712. Ouch. He never seems to pitch that well against them. That said, he is better this year than in the past. The difference for me here is that Rick Porcello is pitching well and the Tigers are at home. The Tigers' bullpen, however, is a mess.
  • The Bay Rays over the Orioles: This game could go either way. Neither starter is impressive as Jeremy Hellickson is a five inning pitcher and Kevin Gausman has an ERA over seven. The pick goes to the Rays because they are home and it could be an ugly, high-scoring game.
  • The Yankees over the Mariners: This pick is more hopeful than smart. Andy Pettitte has not been great and the Yankees have managed just six hits over their last fifteen innings. Joe Saunders is exactly the kind of pitcher that takes advantage of the Yankees pull-happy ways. But the pick is still the Yankees.
  • The Athletics over the White Sox: Can you pick the White Sox these days the way they are playing? Conversely, can you pick against the A's at this point the way they are playing? Both answers are no. Tommy Milone over John Danks.
  • The Red Sox over the Angels: That's right, folks, I am predicting a sweep. Clay Buchholz will shut down the Angels with his excellent repertoire and the Red Sox will hit wall balls off of C.J. Wilson.
  • The Royals over the Astros: The only way the Royals lose this game is if Ervin Santana gives up four homers. But Santana is very capable of doing that. The Royals better score some runs off of Erik Bedard just in case.
  • The Phillies over the Brewers: This pick is seriously difficult. Good old Tom Gorzelanny makes another spot start in a career full of them. He always does a decent job in them. That left arm helps. Kyle Kendrick is Kyle Kendrick and either his batted balls will find gloves as usual, or they won't and he will look bad...along with this pick.
  • The Rockies over the Padres: does not list a Rockies' pitcher. Both and Yahoo Sports says that Jeff Francis will pitch. Either way, it does not matter as the Rockies are killing the ball and will score another eight to ten runs off of Eric Stults and company.
  • The Cardinals over the Reds: I know that Mat Latos is really good. But after watching the Cardinals yesterday, I do not know how they ever lose a ballgame. The fact that Tyler Lyons throws from the left side does not matter much to the Reds, however, because they do equally well against either. I just think the Cardinals are the better team right now. Their bullpen scares me though.
  • The Dodgers over the Braves: Kris Medlen was much better in his last start. But the Dodgers are on a roll as Puig has put a spark in them. I do not know how long it will last, but it will carry at least into today. The only reservation is their starting pitcher of Barney Stephen Fife.
  • The Giants over the Diamondbacks: One of the Giants' starters needs to come up big. Madison Bumgarner is a guy who can do that. Trevor Cahill has been better in the last month or so, but can still be had. The D-backs are good. But the Giants are not rollovers.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Nationals over the Twins: Again, same match-up as yesterday was supposed to be. Gio Gonzalez and Kevin Correia. These two teams will make up their lost game tomorrow. The Twins lose their DH, which for them is a big deal.

Yesterday: 7-5
Week: 42-36
Month: 52-40
Season: 515-390
Games of the Day: 41-25

Friday, June 07, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Friday: June 7, 2013

I worked in the yard all day yesterday and then had my golf league last night. So I was pooped and went to bed early. When I did, the picks were 5-0 with one postponement. I woke up this morning and of the remaining five games, only the Yankees (Game of the Day) came in correctly. Two games went into extra innings and as I have mentioned before, such games are the bane of my existence. Both extra inning games came out on the wrong side.

About the only pick that I will consider stupid was picking against the Dodgers. Zack Greinke was brilliant and the Dodgers have certainly gotten a lift from Mr. Yasiel Puig, who hit another homer yesterday, a grand slam, and drove in four of the Dodgers' five runs. Man.

There are several East Coast games to worry about today with Tropical Storm Andrea racing up the coast. Games in peril include home games by the Nationals, Red Sox and Mets. But I will blithely make the picks like they are going to be played just in case:

  • The Pirates over the Cubs: Francisco Liriano has made five starts thus far this season. He has struck out 39 batters in just 29 innings. Woof. I will take that kind of pitching any day even if Travis Wood is having a very good season.
  • The Nationals over the Twins: I doubt this game happens. But if it does, yesterday's postponement for the Nats means the Twins get Gio Gonzalez. A lefty against their top lefty hitters is not welcomed. Kevin Correia goes for the Twins. But again, expect a double-header on Saturday.
  • The Rangers over the Blue Jays: This is a messy game to pick. Esmil Rogers gets a start for the rotation-wrecked Blue Jays. That does not fill me with glee for the Jays. But then again, Nick Tepesch reminds me if the word, "Tepid." There is a nickname for you: Tepid Tepesch.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: As good as Ubaldo Jimenez has been lately, he goes against Justin Verlander. You have to go with Verlander here, especially at home.
  • The Red Sox over the Angels: This game is in weather jeopardy. But we will see what happens. If it is played, Felix Doubront should be better than Tommy Hanson.
  • The Orioles over the Bay Rays: I hate picking against the Rays in general and even more so at home. But Chris Archer is 1-4 in his big league career with a 5.40 ERA. He was not effective in his first start of the season. Jason Hammel at least has a chance to slow down the Rays. At the very least, it will be a high scoring game which still favors the Orioles.
  • The Mets over the Marlins: Another game in weather jeopardy. But if played, young Jose Fernandez was terrific in his last start and his first season in the big leagues has been like that. Brilliant starts followed by very short ones. In other words, there is no groove from game to game. Even if he is on today, Matt Harvey is tough to match for the Mets.
  • The Cardinals over the Reds: This is one of the best rivalries in the game right now. The Reds are at home, so that favors them in this series. Adam Wainwright, however, should be better than Mike Leake in this first game of the series.
  • The Royals over the Astros: The Astros are playing well these days. But not well enough to overcome James Shields, who despite his 2-6 record, is still (in my mind) one of the top 20 pitchers in baseball. Jordan Lyles goes for the Astros. It seems like Lyles pitches every day for some reason.
  • The White Sox over the Athletics: The A's have been red hot and have been on an amazing streak and have pulled within a half a game from the Rangers in the A.L. West. And the White Sox are a terrible team. But Chris Sale does make a difference in the outcome of this one and as long as he is healthy, of which I am not convinced, he should win at home.
  • The Phillies over the Brewers: The Phightins just got out of Philly in the nick of time with that storm approaching. I do not know much about Alfredo Figaro Figaro Figaro, but I would imagine that Cliff Lee is better.
  • The Rockies over the Padres: Edinson Volquez has been fairly solid this season and not nearly as bad as last season. However, he is pitching in Coors Field against a hot-hitting Rockies team. That is not a good situation. Jorge De La Rosa with the win.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Giants: Again...I hate dealing with winning streaks (or losing streaks) because you never know when the law of averages bites you in the butt. Patrick Corbin is bound to lose some time. But he is so good a pitcher, that you cannot expect it on any given game. I think he wins at home in a close one over Matt Cain.
  • The Dodgers over the Braves: I will not make the same mistake as yesterday. While I am not fully invested in Hyun-jin Ryu, it is hard to deny that he has had a nice beginning to his Major League career. Again, the Puig factor and the Dodgers at home sway this pick against Paul Maholm.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Yankees over the Mariners: I hate picking the same team for the Game of the Day two days in a row, but Jeremy Bonderman? Please. Hiroki Kuroda in a big ballpark? Yes. I will take me some of that. The Yankees, after a tough stretch, are rolling.

Yesterday: 6-4
Week: 35-31
Month: 45-35
Season: 507-385
Games of the Day: 41-24

Thursday, June 06, 2013

When Albert Pujols was better than Miguel Cabrera

Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in baseball. Pretty much everyone agrees with that assessment. Oh, you might get a few Votto votes, but Cabrera has pretty much dominated the offensive world for the past three seasons. It was not long ago when that title belonged to Albert Pujols. The run Pujols put together in his first ten seasons rivaled any player that has ever played the game. It seems strange to say that now, doesn't it? Since his last season in St. Louis to his first two years for the Angels, Pujols seems a cut above ordinary. But even the great Miguel Cabrera could not match Pujols at his best.

If you put their first ten years side by side, Pujols comes out on top in just about every category. Pujols had 98 more hits, 40 more doubles, 86 more homers, 205 more walks, 107 more runs driven in and over 200 more runs scored. In some bit of fairness, Pujols had 308 more plate appearances. But even then, there would have been no way for Cabrera to catch up to those numbers.

This is not knocking what Cabrera has done after his first ten years. This exercise is just to show how good Albert Pujols really was. Perhaps you might also argue that Cabrera had all those years with the lowly Marlins to depress his totals. Fair enough. Then just take Cabrera as a Tiger and compare it to Pujols' Cardinal years and he still cannot match what Pujols did.

For example, Cabrera has an amazing 161 OPS+ during his six years with the Tigers. Pujols was at 170 for his ten years with the Cardinals. Cabrera has a .404 on-base percentage with the Tigers. Pujols was at .420 for the Cardinals. Cabrera has a .585 slugging percentage with the Tigers. Pujols slugged .617 with the Cardinals. Heck, Pujols even stole more than 40 bases more than Cabrera in their first ten years as ballplayers in the majors.

About the only thing you can give Cabrera when comparing the two players through their first ten seasons is that he hit into nine less double plays.

The big question for the future is whether Cabrera can keep up the pace of his hitting longer than Pujols did. Since joining the Angels in his Age 32 and Age 33 seasons, Pujols has hit at an .825 OPS pace. That is so far below his career average that it seems like a totally different player. If you look at both players from their Age 27 seasons to their Age 30 seasons, they are too close to call.

Can Cabrera keep up the pace better than Pujols has? Or will he too decline dramatically a couple of seasons from now when he too hits his Age 32 and Age 33 seasons?

The one thing that gives Cabrera fans hope that he can maintain his peak longer than Pujols is that his trend is totally different. Take a look at their two wOBA charts from

The top chart shows not only that Pujols had an amazing peak and hovered around the .400 wOBA mark for years, but also that there has been a sharp decline for four years now. On the bottom graph, or Cabrera's, the trend is up, up and away. 

That is not to say that Cabrera will not start to slow down as he goes past thirty like Pujols has. They have similar body types despite Pujols being more of a workout guy with less body fat. Let's just say that Cabrera is trending better and has a chance to stay better.

While it is true that Albert Pujols has been a disappointment since joining the Angels, especially for that contract he signed, the other truth is that this generation of baseball fans has had a chance to see two of the really special careers in the history of baseball. Someday we will look back and reflect on both careers and say, "Man, they were awesome offensive players."

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: June 6, 2013

Yesterday was brutal. A few good picks like the D-backs over the Cardinals, the Cubs over the Angels and the Royals over the Twins were overshadowed and overwhelmed by a whole lot of bad results. The Astros hit six homers against the Orioles, or one-eleventh of their season total. I could not get wins from Clayton Kershaw or Hisashi Iwakuma. The Mets sucker-punched Dan Haren. The Rays and Blue Jays shut out the Tigers and Giants respectively. I did not find out until after the picks that Johnny Cueto would not be able to pitch. It just went all wrong.

There are eleven games on the schedule today. Some of them are very interesting. Here are the picks:

  • The Tigers over the Rays: The pick seems obvious, but that is what scares me. Obvious picks bite hard. But you would think that the Tigers behind the filthy stuff of Max Scherzer should beat the Rays who start Ramon Hernandez. Especially at home.
  • The Orioles over the Astros: What has gotten into these Astros? They have won eight of their last ten. There were probably six bad picks in there somewhere. So why pick against them today? The Orioles are usually too good to beat twice in a row. Miguel Gonzalez is not that great a pitcher, however. So we will see. Bud Norris goes for the Astros.
  • The Nationals over the Mets: It has not yet occurred to this picker that the Nationals are not a very good team this year. I keep picking them like it is 2012 when these 2013 Nats are quite mediocre. But I like Gio Gonzalez to be able to shut down Lucas Duda and the Mets with his left arm and though Shaun Marcum had a very good outing last time, I do not expect him to repeat it.
  • The Red Sox over the Rangers: I expect Jon Lester to pitch well and I expect the Red Sox to score four runs or so against Derek Holland.
  • The Cardinals over the Diamondbacks: Two of my favorite pitchers go in this one. Shelby Miller takes his impressive arm out to the hill and faces Ian Kennedy who has made a career of beating aces. I would not put Miller in the ace category yet, so I think I am safe. The Cards' bullpen still needs to get deeper.
  • The Royals over the Twins: The Royals have not tasted a victory like yesterday's in a while and I have a theory that winning is contagious. I think that carries over today and that Wade Davis will out-pitch Mike Pelfrey.
  • The White Sox over the Athletics: See above. The White Sox finally broke their losing streak and have one of their better pitchers on the mound in Carlos Quintana. If he can be decent, the White Sox have a chance to win against Dan Straily.
  • The Brewers over the Phillies: I cannot seem to get a handle on Wily Peralta. He is this black hole for me where I do not know if he is decent or not decent. But the pick is based on that Tyler Cloyd has been rather ordinary for the Phillies with a base runner and a half allowed every nine innings. The Brewers' bullpen could screw this up though.
  • The Rockies over the Padres: Everybody seems to be jumping on the Rockies bandwagon and maybe there is something to it. There is not a gigantic split in their home and away hitting like most years and of their eighty team homers, only 40 of them have been hit at home. Therefore, they seem more balanced and their pitching is holding up. Jhoulys Chacin over Andrew Cashner.
  • The Braves over the Dodgers: There is a lot to like from both pitchers in this game. Both Zack Greinke and Tim Hudson can pitch big-time games and both are good hitting pitchers too. I just like the Braves' lineup better than the Dodgers' at this point.

And the Game of the Day!
  • The Yankees over the Mariners: Each team has an advantage in this one. The Yankees had to fly all the way across the country without a day off. But that advantage is overcome by pitching Aaron Harang and having a burnt up bullpen for the Mariners after a sixteen inning game. Phil Hughes should be better in a big ballpark.

Yesterday: 6-9  oof
Week: 29-27
Month: 39-31
Season: 501-381
Games of the Day: 40-24

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Be careful what you wish for, MLB

As much fun as Major League Baseball was last night, the games, the action and the excitement were overshadowed by ESPN's Outside the Lines scoop on the deal Major League Baseball has reached with the former owner of Biogenesis of America, Tony Bosch, to rat on his former customers. The zeal with which MLB has pursued this case has known no bounds and reminds me of the ax-wielding swarms that used to arrive at liqueur stockpiles during Prohibition. All I can say to MLB is: Be careful what you wish for.

I have been on record many times as not caring one iota what ball players put in their bodies. I have never changed my stance on that. The players implicated in the past, whether it be the Mitchell Report or otherwise have ranged from great players to terrible ones. A great player is a great player and a terrible player is still a terrible player.

Plus, there are two other things that make this all unseemly for me. First, the largest percentage of players targeted in these things are always Hispanic players and this will be no different. That makes this all seem like some kind of witch hunt. The second is that there are so many grey areas already in what players can and cannot do. Toradol is okay. Blood transfusions and therapy are okay. Heck, even Cortisone could be considered a performance enhancing drug.

But the mess this particular case can lead to could be years in the boiler. With basically a guy like Tony Bosch, who is trying to save his own skin, providing he-said-she-said testimony and without positive drug tests to support it, players such as Ryan Braun will fight this in courts for as long as it takes. The players' union, which has been quiet up until now, will rear its head if 100-game suspensions are lobbed about.

You really have to question MLB's motivation in the zeal they are pursuing this. Are they simply determined to clean up a mess they created in the first place with their own blind eye during the 1990s? Are they trying to keep the government and international sports bodies off of their backs? Is this an end run on some of the bigger contracts in baseball in Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun? Who is to really know?

What is known is that this continuing mess will continue to darken the game for years to come and pull positive vibes and attention away from growth that has exploded in the finances of the sport. Big time media writers get to whet their chops like a meteorologist during an approaching hurricane and give them something to write about to save their jobs in a dying writer's economy for another couple of years which will prevent more players from reaching the Hall of Fame where they belong.

I write not only in a semi-media and journalistic approach but also as a fan of the game. As the latter, this is not what I want my focus on. Oh, some fans will use this as a reason to scream at players who make more money than fans will ever dream about and will side with the media-types. But the rest of us just want to watch our baseball, marvel at pitching match-ups and enjoy our favorite sport. Those of us that are in the latter category, and we are legion, hate this. And we hate it with a passion.

If that is what you want, MLB, by all means, go for it. Go get your zeal on. Go make your examples on fifteen or more Hispanics of the twenty total names. Go ahead and piss on South and Central American fans and nationalists. This is America and you have a right to pursue your agenda. Just do not be surprised when it all blows up in your face and the gains you have so vigorously pursued in the game are thwarted by this perpetual cloud you insist on salting. Get your lawyers in a row. You will need them.

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: June 5, 2013

The picks had a much better day yesterday despite a rash of extra inning games. Two of the three of those went for me (thank you Andrelton Simmons and John Mayberry Jr.) and one went against. I was excited about Tyler Skaggs versus Michael Wacha and both got knocked silly, so that did not pan out. Matt Moore got rocked. Whoops. Tim Lincecum saved his rotation spot for another day. It was an interesting day of baseball for sure.

Today is getaway day for twelve teams and six of the games are day games. Sweet. What else will Yasiel Puig do? Holy cow, eh? Here are Wednesday's picks:

  • The Braves over the Pirates: While this Pirates team is better than the ones that folded the last couple of seasons, they are finding that the Braves are the better team. While I like picking Wandy Rodriguez on my outings, this one has to go to the Braves for the sweep. Julio Teheran will try to make that happen.
  • The Yankees over the Indians: In another sweep attempt, I might as well go all giddy and pick for the Yankees. CC Sabathia will try to build on his last terrific outing and a very good Corey Kluber will try to keep his string of good pitching going.
  • The Phillies over the Marlins: The 1-9 Cole Hamels has to get a win some time. Otherwise, this is about as surreal as it gets. Jacob Turner had about as good a first outing his last time out for the Marlins as you could ask for. But the Phillies are starting to hit better.
  • The Brewers over the Athletics: Once again, I cannot find in myself the ability to pick against Yovani Gallardo at home. He has simply been too good there over the years. And Bartolo Colon has one clunker of an outing for every three good ones, so the ratio says that he is due.
  • The Mariners over the White Sox: Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales are about as hot as hitters can get right now and Hisashi Iwakuma should take care of the rest. Young Dylan Axelrod will not be able to keep up.
  • The Giants over the Blue Jays: Last night was a microcosm of the Blue Jays' season. Edwin Encarnacion hit a bomb of a homer to dead center field. Then, later, he hit a grounder to short that was booted and he still got thrown out because he did not hustle. Not acceptable and a symptom of why this team is underachieving. Barry Zito against R.A. Dickey is an unsettling pitching line though.
  • The Cubs over the Angels: This is the upset pick of the day. Matt Garza is auditioning for a stretch run trade to a contender and has looked great. Jason Vargas can have good games but can have bad ones too. I think Alfonso Soriano gets a hold of one in this game.
  • The Nationals over the Mets: Now that Dillon Gee is not pitching against the Yankees, he will revert back to form and that is not good for the Mets. Dan Haren is not a shut down starter anymore, but will keep the Nats in the game so they can win it.
  • The Tigers over the Bay Rays: Unless the Tigers used up all their offense last night, they should take this one as long as the good Doug Fister shows up. Doug Fister versus Alex Cobb is actually a very good match-up, so it will be interesting to see which one has the better night. It is a toss up.
  • The Reds over the Rockies: Last night's game got away from the Reds and from a correct pick. But this one should not be close as Johnny Cueto should pitch a good game and Jon Garland gives up his typical four or five runs.
  • The Red Sox over the Rangers: On a podcast I did the other day, I mentioned that I liked the way John Lackey was throwing. So I have to put my picks where my mouth is. Alexi Ogando's health is always a concern and there was some talk that he would miss this start. That makes me leery.
  • The Orioles over the Astros: Wow! I am not real down with this pitching line of Freddy Garcia against Dallas Keuchel. This will be a shooting match with the Orioles having a bit more fireworks on their barge than the Astros.
  • The Royals over the Twins: The Royals are about as moribund as a team can get. No life. No spark. Deadsville. But I still believe in Jeremy Guthrie and I still do not believe in P.J. Walters. After all, how can I pick a guy named after sleepwear?
  • The Diamondbacks over the Cardinals: I do not like what I see in this one for the Cardinals. Their bullpen is toasted and one of those bullpen arms, Joe Kelly, makes a spot start. Not ideal. Wade Miley has really struggled in the last month. He is a finesse guy and needs to get it back on the black.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Dodgers over the Padres: This is the Yasiel Puig show and we are all just spectators. Not only that, but Clayton Kershaw is pitching at home. Yee Haw, Kershaw! I do not think it will matter how good or bad Jason Marquis pitches. We are simply watching a spectacle right now.

Yesterday: 10-5
Week: 23-18
Month: 33-22
Season: 495-372
Games of the Day: 40-23

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Talked baseball on Dear Mr. Fantasy podcast

Chris McBrien () and the Fantasy Doctor () are really, really good at doing podcasts. They speak well (and fast) and the show is one of the best I have ever listened to. And it is entertaining even if you are not into Fantasy Baseball.

Next to them, I felt a little like a brown shoe in a tuxedo convention (to borrow an old comedian's line). But it was fun and you should listen. Just follow this link.

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: June 4, 2013

The Astros swept the Angels! Four straight and last night the Astros tallied only three hits and still won the game. How bad can the Angels be? This is really amazing. And it is perhaps time to also acknowledge how bad the White Sox are. And Domonic Brown is playing demonic right now. Wow, is he hot. Now if only the picks could go on a hot streak. Mediocrity has been the norm and I am sure sick of being ordinary.

Perhaps Tuesday will start my own hot strike. The picks:

  • The Yankees over the Indians: Last night was encouraging for the Yankees except that Pettitte was not very good. But the runs scored were hopeful and the relief pitching was brilliant. David Phelps should bounce back from his awful start last time out. Scott Kazmir will not last long.
  • The Marlins over the Phillies: Ricky Nolasco is always capable of a shutdown game and I am still not convinced about Jonathan Pettibone. This pick is a bit of a stretch, but that is what I am feeling about it.
  • The Bay Rays over the Tigers: It is the Matt Moore Show and it sure has been fun to watch. Of course, Miguel Cabrera can hit anybody. Anibal Sanchez could totally shut down the Rays, so that is something to think about. But the sane pick here is Moore.
  • The Reds over the Rockies: The Reds and Cardinals are the two best teams in the National League. Homer Bailey had a great start and then a bad start. I wish he was more consistent. If he is the good Homer, the Reds win easy. Juan Nicasio can be pretty decent though.
  • The Braves over the Pirates: Great match-up here. Mike Minor has been fantastic and so has Jeff Locke. So if two pitchers cancel each other out, the rule here is always going with the better offense.
  • The Red Sox over the Rangers: I would be considerably concerned about Ryan Dempster if I did not know that he is so much better than he has shown so far. And picking him against the Rangers would seem stupid except that the Red Sox should do really well against a young pitcher like Justin Grimm.
  • The Orioles over the Astros: Wow! How can you pick against the Astros!? They have won four straight. And they get the Orioles' weakest pitcher in Chris Tillman. But let's be real here. This is the Astros. Lucas Harrell is the pitcher the Orioles will beat.
  • The Twins over the Royals: Ugh. Remember going to the lunch line in high school and having to pick one ugly looking slop to eat over another one? :::shiver::: Sam Deduno and Luis Mendoza. Yay! Great choices there.
  • The Brewers over the Athletics: I would think that the A's have never seen Kyle Lohse before, so that gives the crafty pitcher an advantage. At the same time, Lohse is 1-6. Whoops. A.J. Griffin goes for the A's.
  • The Cardinals over the Diamondbacks: How fun is this! In a battle of first round picks, Michael Wacha and Tyler Skaggs get to go head to head. Both of their first starts were lights out. This is going to be fun to watch. The Cardinals will win though.
  • The Angels over the Cubs: It would be easy to pick against the Angels after their last four days, and their season for that matter. But Jered Weaver pitching is a whole other thing. Scott Feldman has been very good for the Cubs, but he is not as good as Weaver.
  • The Mariners over the White Sox: Wow. The White Sox are terrible. Why is that just sinking in? Even Jake Peavy has been subpar. And tonight they go against Felix Hernandez at home. Good luck with that.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: I am back on that bad lunch line again and the choices this time are Ted Lilly and Clayton Richard. Yeesh. At least Lilly used to be good before his 157 injuries. So perhaps he has a good game in him. Plus, it is Puig-mania in LA.
  • The Blue Jays over the Giants: This one is really tough to call. The Giants are at home. But Tim Lincecum is pitching. The Blue Jays are bashing the ball, but Josh Johnson is coming back from the disabled list. What is a picker to do? Flip and hope I guess.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Nationals over the Mets: My man, Jordan Zimmermann is going to shut down the Mets and the Nats are going to hit Jeremy Hefner. Nats, Nats, Nats.

Yesterday: 5-4
Week: 12-12
Month: 23-17
Season: 485-367
Games of the Day: 39-23

Monday, June 03, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Monday: June 3, 2013

Yesterday was not a good picking day. It would have been better if not for bullpens. The Reds had a 4-2 lead on the Pirates until Jonathan Broxton happened. The Tigers had a lead on the Orioles until Phil Coke happened. Without those two events, the day would have been decent. But that is a four game swing on the final tally. One of those baby Cardinal pitchers finally lost a game. Matt Harvey of the Mets was uncharacteristically shelled. And unbelievably, the Angels were beaten by the Astros again!

There are nine games on the schedule today with three of them being on the West Coast. Here are Monday's picks:

  • The Yankees over the Indians: Lots of questions on this one. How good will Andy Pettitte be coming back from the disabled list? Will it be the good Justin Masterson or the bad one? Can the reeling New York Yankees get their act together? Will Terry Francona and Joe Girardi spend more than fifteen minutes praising each other?
  • The Reds over the Rockies: Yes, Tyler Chatwood is 3-0 and has been lights out. No, I am not quite buying it. Yes, Bronson Arroyo can give up runs in bunches and no, he will not today.
  • The Pirates over the Braves: The Pirates are a legitimately good team. Their record is not a fluke. I am not quite convinced by their offense, but the pitching has been there. A.J. Burnett could strike out ten Braves today as they are prone to do that. Then again, Burnett could give up half a dozen gopher balls too. Kris Medlen is 1-6. I never expected that to happen.
  • The Brewers over the Athletics: Tough game to call. The A's always seem to find a way to win. Tommy Milone is the key to the game. He really has not pitched well since his May 7 start and that was five starts ago. The Brewers feature Ryan Braun, who loves him some lefty pitching. Marco Estrada is probably under-appreciated.
  • The Cardinals over the Diamondbacks: Trevor Cahill has been much better the last few weeks. But Lance Lynn is a stud and the Cards' offense is terrific. I like the Cardinals here, especially at home.
  • The Angels over the Astros: I have been picking it this way all weekend and have gone down in flames all weekend. I might as well finish the series being stubborn. If the Angels lose again, their manager should get sacked. Plain and simple. Joe Blanton and Erik Bedard are the starters.
  • The White Sox over the Mariners: The White Sox have not won in a while, so they are due. John Danks has looked pretty good since coming back. Joe Saunders is always capable of baffling Major League batters for a game. This one can go either way.
  • The Dodgers over the Padres: I might as well continue my season long streak of being zero for picking Eric Stults. I pick him to win and he loses. I pick him to lose and he wins. I think he will win today, so I picked him to lose. Desperation leads men to do strange things. Chris Capuano needs to have a good game. Eek.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Phillies over the Marlins: The Marlins just mashed the Mets for most of the weekend and are getting some offense all of the sudden. But Kyle Kendrick just somehow wins all the time. He just does. It is best not to think about it too much because your head will explode. Tom Koehler goes for the Fish.

Yesterday: 7-8
Week: 7-8
Month: 18-13
Season: 480-363
Games of the Day: 38-23

Sunday, June 02, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: June 2, 2013

Finally! A good day. I was right about May. I just needed to get out of that month because on the first day of June, only five picks were incorrect out of sixteen games. Those five were the Yankees...hehe...yeah, that was a good pick, the Pirates (Liriano pitched great, Leake was better), the Angels (to Houston again!?), the Cubs (all good things come to an end), and Texas (a tip of the cap to James Shields). I will take that. I called both games of the Cards - Giants double-header. I called the Marlins over the Mets. I called Ubaldo Jimenez over the Rays. So, yeah, it was a good day.

Sunday's picks:

  • The Indians over the Bay Rays: I went back and forth on this one. Zach McAllister has pitched well against weak-hitting teams and really struggled against good teams. He did beat the Rays in his first start of the season. He and Jeremy Hellickson are pretty similar. I am going with the home team.
  • The Mets over the Marlins: You know that Matt Harvey is going to pitch well. The only question is whether the Mets will get him any runs. Harvey has no-decisions in half of his starts. Kevin Slowey is of the "crafty" pitching variety, so this is a big contrast in pitching styles.
  • The Reds over the Pirates: Jeanmar Gomez is giving me fits this season. He really has become a ground ball pitcher and really has not had a bad outing since he joined the Pirates' rotation. But the pick has to go to the big stud, Mat Latos. Joey Votto has to figure into this one somehow.
  • The Tigers over the Orioles: This is a bit of a tough one. Rick Porcello is coming off probably his best outing as a Tiger. But the Orioles could really whack him hard. But on the other hand, Kevin Gausman has not been able to get Major League hitters out in his two starts.
  • The Braves over the Nationals: I am not too impressed by either of the team's starters. Nathan Karns was just barely passable in his first start. Paul Maholm is a contact guy who needs the balls to be hit at somebody. The Braves have not been giving the Nats any room to breathe thus far this season, so that is the pick.
  • The Twins over the Mariners: The Mariners are starting Jeremy Bonderman. Holy cow! Bonderman has not pitched in the majors since 2010. Now that is a cool kind of thing. But picking him to pitch well would be another thing. Scott Diamond goes for the Twins. Jeremy
  • The Cardinals over the Giants: I thought Bonderman was a surprise until I got to this pick. The Giants are listing Chad Gaudin as today's starter. Chad Gaudin? Yeesh. Tyler Lyons tries to keep his stunning early success in the big leagues going.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Cubs: This pick is a bit troubling. First, Edwin Jackson has to win a game sooner or later. Second, as good as he has been, Patrick Corbin has to lose a game eventually. Will these two events happen today? Unlikely.
  • The Rangers over the Royals: The Rangers should hit like five homers today since Ervin Santana is pitching. Yu Darvish is confusing. Does anybody have better stuff than him? And yet, him winning a game is never a guarantee.
  • The Angels over the Astros: Hey, if I keep picking this outcome, it has to happen eventually. I am a bit stubborn that way. C.J. Wilson needs to live up to his Head and Shoulders commercials. And Jordan Lyles still sounds like a country singer or some soap opera name.
  • The White Sox over the Athletics: I do not know how healthy Chris Sale is. If he is healthy, he should dominate. If not, then the pick will blow up. Jarrod Parker has had a troubling season for the A's.
  • The Rockies over the Dodgers: I am not sure how well Hyun-Jin Ryu's stuff will translate at Coors Field. And Jorge De La Rosa is just a better option pitching in that wild place than Ryu. He is more of a know entity there.
  • The Red Sox over the Yankees: The Red Sox are just a better team right now. Their infield defense is spectacular with Iglesias at third. Clay Buchholz and his health are a bit of a concern. The only way this pick goes awry is if Buchholz is not healthy and if Hiroki Kuroda pitches at the top of his game.
  • The Padres over the Blue Jays: Edinson Volquez's biggest problem is his command and control. But that is less of a problem against a Blue Jays' team that is undisciplined at the plate (except for Bautista and Encarnacion). Also, Ramon Ortiz starting for the Jays is just to unfathomable.

And the Game of the Day!

  • The Phillies over the Brewers: Mike Fiers will not be able to go deep in the game as he has not pitched longer than four-plus innings all season. Cliff Lee, on the other hand, is having a great season. Domonic Brown has been killing the ball.

Yesterday: 11-5
Last week: 55-48
Month: 11-5
Season: 473-355
Games of the Day: 37-23