Saturday, August 10, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: August 10, 2013

Yesterday was a wild day. Fernando Rodney, Jim Johnson and Mariano Rivera all blew saves in spectacular ways. But only two of those hurt the final result. I got most of the earlier games correct and hardly any of the late games correct. So the day ended with a 9-7 result. Hardly what I am looking for.

Saturday's picks:

  • The Tigers over the Yankees: This pick is an indictment of Phil Hughes. Hughes proved that Yankee Stadium is not his only problem when he ralphed in his last start in San Diego, one of the best pitcher's parks around. The Tigers should hit at least three homers and Anibal Sanchez just has to limit the Yankees to three runs or so.
  • The Blue Jays over the Athletics: Mark Buehrle has been pitching awfully well in the last month and seems like a more likely pick than Sonny Gray making his first Major League start. It's not that Gray does not look ready for the big time. He had very good numbers in Triple-A and that was in the heavy hitting PCL.
  • The Orioles over the Giants: I think the Orioles' offense will hit Chad Gaudin hard and if that happens, Wei-Yin Chen only has to be decent for the Orioles to win.
  • The White Sox over the Twins: Andre Rienzo makes his first big league start for the White Sox, who seem to be going with the young (hey, it can't get worse). And though I have my reservations about his control and his command, there is no doubt he has a big arm. But more than anything, I don't want to pick Mike Pelfrey.
  • The Dodgers over the Rays: The Rays back end of the bullpen really stunk yesterday after David Price gave up just one unearned run. And today, Roberto Hernandez goes for the Rays and he is their weakest starter. The Dodgers, meanwhile, go with Zack Greinke. That seems to be a huge advantage to me.
  • The Angels over the Indians: Not only are the Indians going in the wrong direction, but so is Ubaldo Jimenez. The Angels will jump on him early and C.J. Wilson will hold on for dear life for the win. My only fear in this one is the Angels' bullpen.
  • The Nationals over the Phillies: No, I probably should not pick against Cliff Lee. But it is not like he is unstoppable. He is merely very good most of the time. Taylor Jordan also pitches better so far at home than on the road, so I am giving him the W.
  • The Red Sox over the Royals: The Royals are on fire and have taken the first two games against the Red Sox, which is impressive. I just do not like the match-up of Jeremy Guthrie against the Red Sox. Felix Doubront should get the win and he has been pitching well.
  • The Braves over the Marlins: The Braves should have little trouble with Nathan Eovaldi. Heck, they have had little trouble with anybody lately. And Alex Wood has pitched two good games in a row and his numbers are impressive with more than nine strikeouts per nine and a 2.1 ground ball to fly ball rate.
  • The Reds over the Padres: Tyson Ross has had three good starts in a row for the Padres. But let's see how he does in a small ballpark in Cincinnati. I would much rather pick Tony Cingrani here.
  • The Rangers over the Astros: It is hard for a lefty to pitch at Minute Maid with that short left field dimension. But Derek Holland should be fine and the Rangers should tee off on Brad Peacock who has never made a good impression in the big leagues.
  • The Cardinals over the Cubs: Well, this pick did not work out yesterday, but it is the right pick to make. Michael Wacha comes back from the minors to pitch and he has wicked stuff. Carlos Villanueva has not had many things go right this season.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Mets: The Mets just are not the same without David Wright. You do not lose a player like than and survive, especially when he is your only superstar. Zack Wheeler has great stuff, but little command. Brandon McCarthy is my big concern with this pick.
  • The Rockies over the Pirates: A.J. Burnett lives and dies by his curveball. And curves tend to flatten out at Coors Field. The Rockies will hit him and then get a good start from Juan Nicasio for the win in this one.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Mariners over the Brewers: Hisashi Iwakuma is a near lock at home going against a team without Braun and Weeks. The Brewers go with Tom Gorzelanny, who could have a decent game, but not as good as Iwakuma's.

Yesterday: 9-7
Week: 43-34
Month: 72-46
Season: 975-759
Games of the Day: 75-50   +1

Friday, August 09, 2013

MLB Game Picks - Friday: August 9, 2013

Bruce Chen. What is going on there? 5-0 with a 1.79 ERA? And he totally shuts down one of the best offenses in baseball? The world is upside down. Of course that game was the Game of the Day. And it was one of the two out of seven picks that were incorrect yesterday. The other was the Phillies destroying Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs. Samardzija drives me crazy. He is like the new Bud Norris: brilliant at times and awful at times.

And yeah, it looks like the Tigers totally spanked the Indians and told them maybe next year, kids. And you know Max Scherzer's 17 wins are stupid because wins are a stupid statistic. Whatever.

There are sixteen games on the schedule as the White Sox and Twins play two. Double your yuck, baby. Friday's picks:

  • The Twins over the White Sox: I continue my Kyle Gibson fetish. But also, with John Danks pitching, the Twins are a much better hitting team against lefties. That seems illogical, but there it is. On the other hand, the Twins have hit .220 as a team in August so far. So there is that.
  • The Indians over the Angels: One of two things is going to happen tonight. Either the Indians are going to take out all their Tigers frustration on Jered Weaver and the Angels, Or they will be so down and out after getting whupped by the Tigers that they will be helpless against Weaver. A 50/50 shot here. Scott Kazmir has been great.
  • The Yankees over the Tigers: See above with 50/50. I have no business picking the Yankees here. But they are home. Ivan Nova has been great lately. Rick Porcello is the Tigers' most vulnerable starter. Let's see what happens.
  • The Nationals over the Phillies. The Nationals now have no shot at all of doing anything this year. What a shocking season. Dan Haren was the most vulnerable pitcher in the NL for most of the season and lately has been throwing amazing. Go figure. John Lannon hardly seems capable of getting in the way.
  • The Athletics over the Blue Jays: Esmil Rogers have been getting his butt handed to him for a month now. But Jarrod Parker does not always pitch that well on the road. The Rangers have caught the A's again and the A's have been sputtering. Tough call.
  • The Reds over the Padres: You have to look for Bronson Arroyo to bounce back from his last start, which was awful. Andrew Cashner looked great against the Yankees. But then again, that is not hard to do these days.
  • The Braves over the Marlins: Brandon Beachy's comeback has not been going well and Jacob Turner has been decent for the Marlins. But the Braves are on fire and their offense is clicking now. So I have to go with them at home.
  • The Red Sox over the Royals: I am completely torn about this one. Ervin Santana have been terrific for two months now. He is in one of the best stretches of his career. At the same time, the Red Sox are starting Jake Peavy who the Royals know really well. But he also knows them really well. Gosh, I don't know.
  • The White Sox over the Twins: Yuck. For the White Sox, Charles Leesman will make his Major League debut. Leesman has a great track record of winning games in his semi-long career (he is not a prospect) without the corresponding great peripherals to think it will transfer. Liam Hendriks and a whole lot of MLB sucktitude to his credit.
  • The Rangers over the Astros: This one should be a no-brain pick. Matt Garza should shut down the Astros and the Rangers should hit Erik Bedard. I hate the word, "should."
  • The Cardinals over the Cubs: The Cards had a really tough series against the Dodgers and need to rebound before the Pirates get out of sight. Lance Lynn should help make that happen. The Cubs go with Chris Rusin.
  • The Pirates over the Rockies: Speaking of those Pirates, I think they will win again tonight. Francisco Liriano has been brilliant and my only concern is him pitching at Coors. But then again, so is Jorge De La Rosa.
  • The Mariners over the Brewers: Joe Saunders is like Bruce Chen. How the heck does he ever get anyone out or win games? Saunders has won ten of them despite being his usual stinky self. Kyle Lohse is an old pro whose hot streak was cut down his last outing.
  • The Bay Rays over the Dodgers: David Price should have a good game in this one. Puig is the only real challenge here. I love how Price is killing the strike zone. Chris Capuano will meet Wil Myers for the first time. I bet he will enjoy that.
  • The Orioles over the Giants: Funny how two contenders in the AL East are both in the NL West this weekend. I am going with the Orioles because I never am comfortable picking a pitcher fresh off the DL like Ryan Vogelsong is tonight. Chris Tillman pitches for the Orioles who lose a bat from the DH.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Diamondbacks over the Mets: Patrick Corbin has been my guy all season long. Just like Miley was my guy last season and Kennedy the season before that. Now if only the D-backs could get follow up seasons by these guys, eh? Jeremy Hefner goes for the Mets.

Yesterday: 5-2
Week: 34-27
Month: 63-39
Season: 966-752
Games of the Day: 74-50    -3

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Poor Johnny Damon

Poor Johnny Damon made the most of his talent and parlayed that into a $111 million career. But when asked about PEDs recently mostly whined about his career being over. Also reported in the same post was that Damon said that the 2009 title with the Yankees might now be tainted (in response to the Alex Rodriguez news). Well, give back your ring and World Series share, Johnny, and perhaps the 2004 ring and share too since that team featured Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, both of whom were busted too.

Damon was a lot of fun to watch during his career and provided a lot of good memories. Too bad he cannot be content being able to afford those chickens gold-plated roosts and retire with a little bit of grace.

MLB Game Picks - Thursday: August 8, 2013

The week is making a comeback and rebounding from that awful 1-9 Monday. Last night's ten out of fifteen correct put the week in the black for the first time since Sunday. And those ten correct picks were in spite of Madison Bumgarner getting no support from his team or his bullpen and the same thing for Cole Hamels of the Phillies. The latter meant a second straight disappointment for the Game of the Day feature too.

One other note from last night: Shelby Miller of the Cardinals was only able to record one out in the ballgame. But it was not because he was awful. Miller took a line shot off his pitching elbow that knocked him out of the game. While that was unfortunate because I picked him to win, it was much more so because the young pitcher has a great career ahead of him. I hope he is going to be okay.

There are only seven games on the schedule for today. Four of them are day games, which is pretty sweet. The picks:

  • The Mets over the Rockies: Dillon Gee has cooled off from his hot streak a month ago. But he should still be good enough at home to get a win. lists the Rockies' starter as TBA. But other sites list the starter as Tyler Chatwood. We'll find out soon enough.
  • The Pirates over the Marlins: I love picking Jose Fernandez at home where he is an absolute lock to win. But it is a 50/50 proposition on the road. He did just strike out thirteen Pirates the last time he faced them though. The key for the Pirates is for Gerrit Cole to have a really good outing at home.
  • The Cubs over the Phillies: Things did not go well at all for Ethan Martin in his first Major League start and debut. He should have a better outing today as the Cubs are not the Braves. But I am going with Jeff Samardzija who, when on his game, can be awesome.
  • The Giants over the Brewers: No offense to Donovan Hand, but the guy seems a little snake bit. The pick depends on Tim Lincecum to pitch well, which he has done more often than not lately.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: The Tigers have already taken the first three games of this big series in the Indians' home park and shoved them away as pretenders instead of contenders. And now the Indians face Max Scherzer. Despite Zach McAllister, game, set, match.
  • The Dodgers over the Cardinals: This pick is not because the Dodgers are pitching Hyun-jin Ryu. Ryu is just ordinary away from Dodgers Stadium and the Cardinals can hit him. No, this pick is because despite all the talent the Cards have in the minors, they are starting 21 year old Carlos Martinez, who has pitched from the Cards' bullpen for the last two months.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Red Sox over the Royals: The Royals are a good team and have won eight of their last ten. But I cannot see Bruce Chen and his assortment of whiffleballs being able to hold back the Red Sox' lineup. Of course, if Jon Lester is not good, then this pick will be the third Game of the Day pick in a row to head south.

Yesterday: 10-5
Week: 29-25
Month: 58-37
Season: 961-750
Games of the Day: 74-49   -2

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Mike Trout by the (MVP) numbers

Last season, Mike Trout took the world by storm and became the most talked about player in baseball. Sadly, this season, he is even better but plays on a severely disappointing team and has fallen away somewhat as a conversation leader. By the end of the season, he will bring up once again the age old debate on if an Most Valuable Player Award should go to a player on an awful team. Because of his team, he might lose out on the award he deserves for the second straight season.

To illustrate the point, I am simply going to give you some numbers to give you an idea of how special Mike Trout has been. Here are a bunch of numbers and his corresponding rank in baseball based on them:
  • WAR - 7.6 rWAR, 7.3 fWAR: First in baseball either way
  • wOBA - .424: Third
  • Slugging - .574: Fifth
  • OBP - .424: Third
  • BA - .331: Third
  • OPS - .998: Third
  • wRC - 101: Second
  • Doubles - 32: Third
  • Hits - 143: First
  • Walks - 67: Third
  • Extra base hits - 59: Second
  • Runs - 79: Tied for Second
  • WPA - 3.40: Seventh
  • Base running runs - 6.3: Fourth
  • Stolen bases - 24: Tenth
  • ISO - .243: Tenth
As you can see by the numbers, Mike Trout can do it all. His fielding numbers have fallen off a bit, but otherwise, Mike Trout is the best overall player in the game this year. Now if only the Angels could get some pitching...

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: August 7, 2013

Tuesday was not a great day and just barely broke on the positive side of .500. But at least it was a darned sight better than the previous day which was a disaster. Even so, things like Wily Peralta out-dueling Matt Cain and James Shields being totally terrible were complete surprises. And while it cost me a pick, congrats go out to Andrew Albers who pitched eight and a third scoreless innings for his first major league win. Way to go, kid.

In a day of aces pitching, I correctly backed Justin Verlander, Yu Darvish and Mat Latos. But I also incorrectly backed Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw and Cain. I did correctly not back Hiroki Kuroda.

Wednesday's picks:

  • The Reds over the Athletics: The one problem with the A's is that tough pitching will stop them. Latos did it last night and Homer Bailey will do it tonight. The only hesitation is that it seems Aroldis Chapman gives up at least one run with every outing lately. Bartolo Colon goes for the A's.
  • The Orioles over the Padres: The Orioles have to win consistently to stay relevant as they have fallen pretty far off the pace. That means guys like Miguel Gonzalez have to pitch well. He should in San Diego and win over Eric Stults.
  • The Mariners over the Blue Jays: J.A. Happ has not pitched in the big leagues since early May. This series has gone back and forth and it would be such a typical thing this season if the Blue Jays manage to beat Felix Hernandez one night and lose to Aaron Harang the next.
  • The Nationals over the Braves: Kris Medlen has allowed four or more runs to score in five of his last eight outings. If he does that, Jordan Zimmermann wins because he will not allow more than two in this game. There could be some fireworks after last night's Harper incident.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: The Indians sure lost a chance to pick up ground in this series. Danny Salazar was terrific in his first start, but I think the Tigers will get to him for a couple of runs early and then Doug Fister will do the rest.
  • The Pirates over the Marlins: Tom Koehler has been pitching pretty well for the Marlins and pitched a scoreless six innings his last time out. But he did allow ten base runners, so that is flirting with problems. He will not be as good away from home. But that leaves me to pick Charlie Morton again. Yikes!
  • The Mets over the Rockies: It is Matt Harvey Day and that is always an event. As always, Harvey's outcome will depend on if the Mets can score some runs. Jhoulys Chacin will be hard for the Mets to do that. But with his stuff, how can you ever pick against Harvey?
  • The Red Sox over the Astros: Ryan Dempster has done nothing to show that he should be in the Red Sox' rotation as of late. But he is facing the Astros and should not be that bad. Jarred Cosart is a good little pitcher, but the Red Sox are just too powerful.
  • The Twins over the Royals: I have been doing just fine picking Samuel Deduno the past month or so. He has been pitching really well. Danny Duffy will again try to establish himself in the Majors. Duffy has always had a great arm. But from his minor league numbers, still has not figured out the command issues.
  • The White Sox over the Yankees: CC Sabathia has been terrible and seven runs a game seems to be his norm these days. Hector Santiago should not scare anyone, but the Yankees cannot score. Am I overly down on the Yankees? Possibly.
  • The Cardinals over the Dodgers: I have not gotten any of the games of this series correctly. So why start now? Shelby Miller versus Ricky Nolasco is a decent match-up. But again, my rule is that when the pitchers seem to cancel each other out, go with the home team or the better offense. The Cards offer both.
  • The Diamondbacks over the Rays: The D-backs are coming alive here lately and are getting more consistent pitching. Randall Delgado has been terrific for over a month now. Chris Archer can be very good too. But I am going with the D-backs.
  • The Rangers over the Angels: Tommy Hanson just fired his agent, Scott Boros. But that will not mask the fact that Hanson's stuff has deteriorated since his early days with the Braves. I really like Ian Kinsler batting third. That was a great idea. Alexi Ogando has not been as dominating in his outings this year. That is a bit scary.
  • The Giants over the Brewers: It simply is not healthy to pick against Madison Bumgarner on a regular basis. I think he will shut down the Brewers completely and give his team the opportunity to score a couple against Marco Estrada.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Phillies over the Cubs: Cole Hamels will try again to get a victory. He pitched superbly in his last outing only for Papelbon to blow his save in spectacular fashion. Travis Wood is a pretty decent pitcher for the Cubs though.

Yesterday: 8-7
Week: 19-20
Month: 48-32
Season: 951-745
Games of the Day: 74-48   -1

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The whitening of the Red Sox

This post is an observation and poses questions. It will not be my purpose to consider any grand schemes or impart any incrimination. But it is an observation that has been sticking in my brain for quite a while now. The local baseball channel here in Maine is the Red Sox (NESN). As such, I watch a lot of their games. And this observation is from what I see. Oh, I see a very good team. I see a very close-knit team. I see a team that could win a World Series. I also see a very white team.

According to 2012 statistics, 61.2 percent of the players in baseball were white, 27.3 percent were Latino, 8.8 percent were African-American and 1.9 percent were Asian (minute percentages of other such as Hawaiian, etc.).

On the current Red Sox 25-man roster, 19 of the players are white or 76 percent. Three are Latino or 12 percent. Two are Asian or 8 percent and there are no African-Americans. And the Red Sox have one native Hawaiian.

Of the 43 total players that have worn the Red Sox uniform this season, 31 have been white (72%), 8 have been Latino (18.6%), one (Jackie Bradley) has been African-American (2.3%), two have been Asian (4.6%) and one has been Hawaiian.

Both the 25-man roster and the totality of the players who have played for the Red Sox in 2013 skew more white than the Major League norms.

To compare that to last year when the Red Sox used 56 total players, 60.7% were white, 25% were Latino, 7.1% were African-American and 5.3% were Asian. In 2011, the percentages were 63.2% white, 18.3% Latino, 8.2% African-American and 4.1% Asian out of 49 players.

On just about any typical night this season, the Red Sox lineup includes all white guys, one Hawaiian (Shane Victorino) and David Ortiz. Four of the rotation's five starters are white. The recent subtraction of Jose Iglesias exacerbated that skew.

2011 and 2012 were much closer to the relative norms according to racial demographics in baseball. Both seasons ended in disappointment for the team. This year, a high emphasis was placed on chemistry when putting together the roster. Is it a coincidence that such an emphasis ended up with a predominately white team? I am just asking the question. You tell me.

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: August 8, 2013

Well, that could not have gone any worse. Out of nine picks, at least the only game that turned out to be correct was the Game of the Day. Everything else was just awful. Perhaps I was on dope yesterday as one comment suggested. Speaking of which, can't anyone disagree with a written piece these days without throwing an insult in there for good measure? My favorite one lately is that I have never watched baseball. Well, okay then.

Here's the thing. It was a weird night. I mean, the Astros shut out the Red Sox. Seriously!? The Yankees looked like the worst team in baseball against one of the worst teams in baseball. The Indians took a 2-0 lead into the top of the ninth and the closer promptly gave up four runs. The Brewers had a lead against the Giants after a predicted (I might add) great performance by young Tyler Thornburg. But in the bottom of the eighth, promptly left their heart in Juan Francisco (of all people). Stephen Strasburg again pitched brilliantly, but just like always, the Nationals could not score any runs for him.

Oh well, we will just call yesterday a market correction, or in baseball terms, a regression to the mean. Tuesday's picks:

  • The Braves over the Nationals: I am going against the flow of life here in that Julio Teheran has not won back to back starts all season and I am predicting he does so today. Gio Gonzalez is a left-handed ace, but the Braves have plenty of right-handed power to offset it.
  • The Cubs over the Phillies: Edwin Jackson has actually been quite good lately. If he keeps that up, he can shut down the anemic Phillies. Kyle Kendrick got blasted in his last start but faced an equally anemic Cubs.
  • The Tigers over the Indians: The Indians had their chance and blew it. They face Justin Verlander tonight and after his last start, it appeared he got himself back on track. The only way this pick could go wrong is if Justin Masterson has a really brilliant effort, which is not beyond the realm of possibility.
  • The Pirates over the Marlins: Henderson Alvarez has been quite good for the Marlins and has won his last two starts. But Jeff Locke is terrific and should give the hometown Pirates a win they need while the Cards battle the Dodgers.
  • The Rockies over the Mets: Tyler Chatwood was just roached his last start, but otherwise has pitched well all season. I think he shuts down the Mets. Henrry Mejia will give up at least two runs, which should be enough for a Rockies win.
  • The Reds over the Athletics: Dan Straily has been very good at home and just so-so on the road. Mat Latos is a power arm that hardly ever loses. This pick has to be the Reds and the A's lose a precious bat in the lineup too.
  • The Red Sox over the Astros: Ugh. Knuckleballing Steven Wright against Jordan Lyles. What do you do with that hot mess? I had a step-brother named, Steven Wright, so I will pick him. Frankly, I think the Red Sox will win something like 10-7.
  • The Royals over the Twins: The Twins actually have a chance in this one. Andrew Albers is a Canadian pitcher who has had a terrific year for the Triple-A Rochester team. He is a typical low walk, not-much-strikeouts Twins pitcher though. James Shields goes for the Royals and sways the pick.
  • The White Sox over the Yankees: Perhaps I am waving the white flag on this Yankees team. They have been brutal to watch this season. Hiroki Kuroda has been the one shining knight and has been nearly flawless over his last several starts. But he cannot keep throwing up zeroes, can he? Besides, he is facing Chris Sale who should dominate.
  • The Dodgers over the Cardinals: Joe Kelly has become a bit of a hero in St. Louis. The fans seem to rally behind him and the kid does have his moments like his last outing. But come on, he is facing Clayton Kershaw.
  • The Rays over the Diamondbacks: I went back and forth on this one. Wade Miley has been much better in his last three starts. In fact, he has been great...sort of. He still walks too many batters and the Rays find ways to make you pay for base runners. Jeremy Hellickson goes for the Rays.
  • The Rangers over the Angels: It is possible that Garrett Richards pitches a big game. He has the talent to do so. But that is a 40/60 proposition and that is not good enough when Yu Darvish is pitching for the Rangers.
  • The Orioles over the Padres: The Orioles lose a bat but that is okay since the DH has not been a big part of their offense. Bud Norris had a good start to his Oriole career, but he is still Bud Norris, which is a bit frightening. Edinson Volquez goes for the Friars.
  • The Mariners over the Blue Jays: Felix Hernandez has been terrific in the last month. He is pitching at home in front of the King's Corner. And Josh Johnson has been in a sad, sad state all season. His woes have been so baffling, it makes you scratch your head.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Giants over the Brewers: Matt Cain may not be having a Cain-like season, but you still cannot pick against him at home very often and be smart about it. Wily Peralta has been a train wreck this past month.

Yesterday: 1-8
Week: 11-13
Month: 40-25
Season: 943-738
Games of the Day: 74-47

Monday, August 05, 2013

Allen Craig, Dan Uggla and fWAR

I want to be accepted as a modern baseball writer. As such, I have made a conscious decision years ago to be as much of a student of modern baseball statistics as possible with an unfortunately limited brain. It is not in me to create calculations and amazing charts and do all those things possible to build a case. But, at least I have made an effort not to stick in the past and accept the old batting average and runs batted in way of valuing players. All that said, when it comes to valuations of players, I still struggle. Allen Craig of the Cardinals and Dan Uggla of the Braves are one crystallization of that dilemma.

According to, so far this season, Dan Uggla has been worth $6.4 million with his play considering all facets of his game. Allen Craig has been valued by that same site as worth $10.4 million with his. That means that Allen Craig has been valued over Dan Uggla by a factor of 1.625. Or to look at it another way, Uggla has been worth about 61.5 percent of what Allen Craig is worth.

On the short side of things, this seems correct as Craig is having a better year (obviously). But when thinking about it more deeply, it seems that Craig is worth three times what Uggla is worth. I see this reflected better at which has Craig at 1.8 rWAR and Uggla at only 0.1. That seems to be a much more accurate assessment.

Let's compare the two with some statistics:

  • Uggla:  .193/.310/.409 for a .719 OPS, a .319 wOBA and a 2.4 UZR in the field and a minus 2.4 on the bases.
  • Craig:  .321/.369/.472 for a .841 OPS, a .366 wOBA and a 0.0 UZR in the field and a minus 5.5 on the bases.

That does not seem close does it? Well, yes, Craig is a snail on the base paths (although Jeff Sullivan has some thoughts about this as well). We will not get into some of the ephemeral data such as Craig's average with men in scoring position, etc. But by just looking at the numbers above, you get the idea that Dan Uggla is pretty bad this season as a baseball player and Allen Craig is pretty darned good.

And here is where I begin to have a few problems with the entire thing. Dan Uggla "plays" second base. Craig plays first or left field or right field. Craig's positions are considered of little value in the grand scheme of valuations. In fact, first base is given a negative value as a positional adjustment. So Uggla's position has a lot to do with his positive valuation.

If you break down Fangraphs' valuation, they go like this for Uggla: 1.3 for his batting (Again, how when he is hitting so poorly? The answer, his walks and home runs), -2.4 for fielding, -2.4 for base running, a +12.4 replacement value and a +1.5 for the position he plays. The positives outweigh the negative and he has a fWAR in the positive numbers.

Craig, on the other hand, gets a +12.9 replacement value but a -6.7 positional value. Craig plays positions that are considered a negative in value. I do not get that. Some day, somebody is going to prove my theory that a good first baseman is worth much more to this team than a bad one. And yet they all get the same negative positional value. I do not know Allen Craig's scoop value, which is a new statistic. But I do know he has only made one error all season no matter where he has played. That's right. One.

Uggla is one ugly second baseman. I have maintained that for years and his fielding numbers bear that out. But he still gets a higher overall fielding score (fielding plus positional) than Craig and it is not even close. Uggla has a Fld + Pos of -0.9. Craig's same number for that stat is, -6.8. That is more than a half a win difference. I do not get it.

Uggla does hit more homers and he has much better plate discipline. I get that. But Uggla has been on base near 30 times less than Craig and Craig has 42 more total bases.

I want to be a hip writer. I really do. I want to be considered knowledgeable and credible. But these things baffle me. And the fact that Uggla is valued so close to Craig will defeat my street cred every time. To me, to the bedeviling of my writing credibility, Dan Uggla does not add anything of value to the Braves and Craig is a major cog in the Cardinals rolling machine.

MLB Game Picks - Monday: August 5, 2013

Yesterday was another pretty good day with ten out of fifteen correct. I guess I should have picked the Cardinals, eh? And I also guess that Ernesto Frieri is not the most popular member of the Angels right now. But, yeah, it was a good day and August has been excellent so far. I hope I can keep it up.

There are only nine games on the schedule today, but some very interesting match-ups. The red hot Tigers play the red hot Indians. And the Dodgers try to keep their winning streak alive against the slugging Cardinals despite the absence of Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig. It should be an interesting day of baseball.

Monday's picks:

  • The Nationals over the Braves: This series would have been interesting if the Nationals had the kind of season we all expected. As it is, the Braves are in front by a dozen and forget about last year's collapse. They have no contenders. Stephen Strasburg, though, will have a good day against Mike Minor.
  • The Indians over the Tigers: Anibal Sanchez could show up as the unhitable version and that would put a wrench in this pick. But I like Corey Kluber at home for this one.
  • The Cardinals over the Dodgers: This is a big time match-up between Zack Greinke and Adam Wainwright. If Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig both miss the game, then Wainwright will not have much else to deal with. Meanwhile, Greinke has to face the Cardinals with all their guns.
  • The Red Sox over the Astros: Brett Oberholtzer will present some problems for the Red Sox' lineup as he is an experienced pitcher who knows what he is doing. But the Astros cannot finish a game. Therefore, if John Lackey can keep the Astros' run total to a minimum, the Red Sox win.
  • The Yankees over the White Sox: The return of Alex Rodriguez? The loss again of Derek Jeter. My, what a weird season for the Yankees this year. Andy Pettitte better have a good game because losing to Jose Quintana and the White Sox would be embarrassing.
  • The Angels over the Rangers: Will Nelson Cruz be gone? Will he appeal? This is a picking day for the strong of heart. Jerome Williams figured it out last time after five bad starts in a row. Martin Perez is just okay.
  • The Mariners over the Blue Jays: You have to figure that Hisashi Iwakuma will be very good at home in Seattle. He is hard to beat there. R.A. Dickey is having an up and down season. If today is one of those ups, the pick gets shot down.
  • The Brewers over the Giants: This pick again is my Chad Gaudin phobia. I think the Brewers will hit him. And Tyler Thornburg has been pretty impressive in his early results. There are still too many walks, but he is pitching well.

And the Game of the Day:
  • The Royals over the Twins: The Royals are having a good run lately, but still the fans are unhappy and it is hard to blame them. Another third place finish is hardly consolation over losing Wil Myers. But Jeremy Guthrie will have a good game and Kevin Correia will not.

Yesterday: 10-5
Week: 10-5
Month: 39-17
Season: 942-730
Games of the Day: 73-47

Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Braves' hidden star

A guy named Chris is really tearing the cover off the baseball after being traded from a team in Texas to a contender. If you wrote that sentence and showed it to most fans, they would immediately think of the Chris named Davis. But there is another one that is doing very good things for the Atlanta Braves and this one is named Chris Johnson.

Chris Johnson is currently leading the National League in batting. Surprised? Yes, me too. He is currently batting .344 with an on-base percentage of .385. His wOBA of .371 is eighteenth among all Major League regulars and just behind his teammate, Freddie Freeman, who is also having a very good season and is getting more ink about it than Johnson.

Those two corner infielders have become the cornerstones of the Braves' offense and there is no way anyone would have seen that coming. Both have on-base percentages over .380. While neither is very good on defense and on the base paths, they sure have been good at the plate.

Is this year's success of Chris Johnson a fluke? Is it an outlier? It could be. For a big guy and a corner infielder, you would like to see more power. His .479 slugging percentage is more based on his high hit totals and doubles (24) and not on his power (7 homers).

But what stands out about Johnson's great season is his BABIP. His current BABIP sits at .427. Holy smokes, that is high. But then again, his career BABIP is .365, so it is not like he has never been good at hitting balls where the fielders are not. The key to his high BABIP is his line drive percentage.

And from Johnson's career, the line drive percentage has always been high. His career 25.1% line drive percentage is up there with guys like Votto and Mauer. The difference between those guys and Johnson was that they did not strike out often so more balls in play led to more consistent production.

But Johnson has cut down on his strikeouts. His current rate of 20.9% is three percentage points lower than his career average. Combine that with his amazing 29.1% line drive percentage this season and you have more balls in play that are hit on a line and the batting average and the BABIP reflect the change. That line drive percentage is second in baseball to only Loney of the Rays. A higher line drive percentage than Votto and Mauer? Wow.

Chris Johnson is not without some negative offensive statistics. His walk rate is not good at 6.1% and is only one percentage point above his lifetime walk rate. He has a little better plate discipline than his earlier years with the Astros, but not by much. He still swings at 37 to 38 percent of pitches out of the zone (depending on the source you use). That is a free swinger by definition.

His swing and miss rate is in the double-digits, never a great thing. But we are quibbling here. The fact is that Chris Johnson is having a very, very good season. He has more than replaced Chipper over there at third and his defense there--not great--is about par to what Chipper was in his later years.

Chris Johnson has been quietly effective at the plate all season. He has not had a negative month at the plate. He is ringing line drives. Would you like to see more homers, less strikeouts and more plate discipline? Yes. But the bottom line is  that Chris Johnson, along with Freeman, has become a key component of the Braves offense and one that will ride straight into the playoffs.

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: August 4, 2013

Ah! For the first time in months, I slept in this morning. I sure needed that. And I woke up this morning to find that I had my second straight 11-4 day to cap off a good week and what has been a great start to August. For the young month, I am 29 of 41. Not bad.

I should have gone with Jake Peavy as his debut with the Red Sox was everything they could have hoped for. I went one day too long with the Mets as they lost in extra innings. I should have gone with the A's over the Rangers and the Mariners beating up on the Orioles was a total surprise. Scott Feldman is no Jake Peavy.

Forgive me for the picks being a little late today, but here they are for Sunday:

  • The Tigers over the White Sox: This pick depends on Rick Porcello having a decent afternoon. Andre Rienzo goes for the White Sox for his second big league start. His first was pretty good. The Brazilian Rienzo has a big arm and questionable command. This pick could be trouble.
  • The Indians over the Marlins: I have trouble seeing the Indians losing this one. Scott Kazmir has been very good lately (and a great story of perseverance). But Nathan Eovaldi has been pretty decent for the Marlins.
  • The Royals over the Mets: I like Zack Wheeler and hate picking against him. But without David Wright, what is left for the Mets? Which means that I doubt they score against Ervin Santana who is throwing the ball brilliantly lately.
  • The Reds over the Cardinals: This game has me doing somersaults. Lance Lynn and Mike Leake are both having good seasons and seem just about even to me. The Reds are at home, so that is the way I am going with the pick.
  • The Red Sox over the Diamondbacks: Doesn't it seem like the Red Sox have already played 81 games at home this season? Felix Doubront needs to come up big for this pick to fly. Though I feel bad for Brandon McCarthy that yet another comeback attempt has to be against this Red Sox lineup.
  • The Pirates over the Rockies: I hesitate to pick A.J. Burnett to win here because he has only won four games all season. But the Pirates are the better team here, especially when they are home. Juan Nicasio goes for the Rockies.
  • The Orioles over the Mariners: Joe Saunders pitched for the Orioles and will pitch with a chip perhaps. But he is still Joe Saunders at the end of the day. Wei-Yin Chen needs to have a good day as the Mariners are scoring a bit more these days.
  • The Twins over the Astros: My face on seeing the starters for this game was the same as that boy in the cell phone commercial getting instructions for high school from his sister when he sees the slop from the lunchroom. Mike Pelfrey or Brad Peacock. Yuck. Twins because they are the home team.
  • The Brewers over the Nationals: The only reason I am picking the Brewers in this game is because of Kyle Lohse. Otherwise, the Brewers have nothing going on. I think Lohse will out-pitch the young, Taylor Jordan, who otherwise has been decent.
  • The Dodgers over the Cubs: The Dodgers are ripe for a road loss, especially if Puig sits today with his bruised thumb. But I just can't pick against them the way they are going. Stephen Fife has been okay whenever he has pitched and Carlos Villanueva does nothing to excite me.
  • The Angels over the Blue Jays: Extremely torn about this pick too. Mark Buehrle has thrown two games in a row without allowing a run. He has been in total control in each of them. But Buehrle just is not the kind of pitcher who can keep doing that. I don't have much more faith in C.J. Wilson. But we'll see what happens.
  • The Athletics over the Rangers: I have gotten each game in this series incorrectly. A.J. Griffin is pretty hard to beat at home and Derek Holland always tantalizes you with his talent but cannot put it together consistently.
  • The Padres over the Yankees: Once upon a time (2008), the Yankees started their season with two former first round draft picks in the rotation in Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. They started that season miserably (an understatement) and Kennedy was eventually traded in the Granderson deal. Kennedy has fallen on hard times after a great season in 2011 and a decent season in 2012. Phil Hughes has never become the starter the Yankees hoped. Kennedy is better than Hughes.
  • The Phillies over the Braves: Two lefties face each other in this one as Cliff Lee goes against Alex Wood. I like Lee's chances better, though these Braves have been on an extreme roll of late.

And the Game of the Day:

  • The Bay Rays over the Giants: Guillermo Moscoso replaces Barry Zito in the rotation and I do not think it is an upgrade at all. Even so, Roberto Hernandez is pitching for the Rays and old Fausto is their worst pitcher. The Rays get the nod as Fausto has at least been decent lately.

Yesterday: 11-4
Last week: 61-36
Month: 29-12
Season: 932-720
Games of the Day: 72-47