Saturday, October 11, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: October 11, 2014

A very exciting game started off the American League Championship Series and if that game is a harbinger of things to come, it's going to be a great series. Unfortunately for me, the outcome went against my pick. I got the substance of the pick right with the Royals taking the early lead and the O's coming back strong. But the O's merely tied the game instead of going ahead and that allowed the Royals to win the game in extra innings. The Royals' bullpen was superb.
We have two games today as the ALCS continues and the NLCS begins. There is a big match-up in the NLCS and that should be difficult to figure out. With my record in the post season, my confidence at this point is pretty low. But here goes.
The picks:
  • The Orioles over the Royals: The Royals have been unbelievable so far this post season. There is no doubt about that. They have not wilted in any sense of the word. That said, I have a little more confidence in Bud Norris at this point than Yordano Ventura. My only reservation with this pick is watching the O's go down easy against the power-pitching Royals' bullpen. Will Ventura similarly outmatch them? We'll see, but I have to go again with the Orioles at home.
  • The Giants over the Cardinals: This is a big time pitching match-up of Adam Wainwright and Madison Bumgarner. I looked up both of their career records against their opposing teams and both have only been so-so over the years against the team they are facing. The Cardinals used to be vulnerable to lefties, but not anymore. This pick comes down to which pitcher is best capable of a big shutdown game and that would be Bumgarner. Besides, with one exception, the opening game of every series this post season has been won by the visiting team.
Yesterday: 0-1, Post Season: 6-11, Season: 1371-1101

Friday, October 10, 2014

BBA Connie Mack Awards - General Chapter Ballot

The General Chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance is one of the largest chapters in the alliance. And most of the chapter took part in the first two of our awards, The Connie Mack Award for the best manager of the year in each of the American and National Leagues and the Willie Mays Award for the best rookies in each league. Each member of the General Chapter voted a top three for each award. Those results were weighted with the most points going for a first place vote and then tabulated for the official chapter ballot which will go toward allowing the BBA as a whole to select this year's recipients. First up is the Connie Mack Award.
As several of our chapter members observed, picking the best manager each season is a slippery slope. Ultimately, it is the players who play and either perform or do not. For example, Bruce Bochy seems to be on the every other year plan of success. Was he all that great when he won World Series titles in 2010 and 2012 and then stunk in 2011 and 2013? Is he back to being great in 2014?
Interestingly, Bochy has not won the baseball writers' version of this award since 1996 when he took the Padres to a first place division win in San Diego. Two years later (even then it was every other year), he won the National League Pennant and took his Padres to the World Series and did not win any awards.
I have written here several times that judging a manager seems impossible. You can't go by results. You cannot go by hearsay. You cannot even go by whether he was fired or not. One of our chapter members obstained because of this difficulty.
But the rest of our writers muddled through and picked a top three in each league.
National League:
  1. Clint Hurdle - 330 pts
  2. Bruce Bochy - 290 pits
  3. Matt Williams - 180 pts
Bochy received more first place vote but Hurdle was listed on more ballots to just overcome Bochy's total. Other managers receiving votes in order of finish: Mike MathenyDon MattinglyTerry CollinsRon Roenicke, Bud Black  and Rick Renteria.
American League:
  1. Buck Showalter - 470 pts
  2. Mike Scioscia - 300 pts
  3. Lloyd McClendon 160 pts
It was not close in the American League. Showalter had the most first place votes and was on the most ballots. Other AL managers getting votes in order of their finish: Ned YostBrad AusmusJoe GirardiTerry Francona and Bob Melvin.
Much thanks to all the writers for participating in this process.

BBA Willie Mays Award - General Chapter Ballot

The General Chapter members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance participated in selecting our chapter's ballot for the Willie Mays Award, which goes to the best rookies in the American and National League for 2014. The General Chapter's ballot will then be added to the rest of the chapters to come up with the official Baseball Bloggers Alliance winners for each category. The Willie Mays Award, like the Connie Mack Award will be announced next week.
The general perception of our generalist writers was that the American League had a strong class of rookies while the National League had a very weak class. Even so, each league produced a clear cut favorite among our voters. Each chapter member voted for his or her top three and the top choice was weighted the highest with the second place votes weighted lower and so forth.
One difficulty facing our voters was that the rookie class included players that played in "major" leagues in other countries before coming to the MLB to play. Such candidates draw concern about their "rookie" status.
And our ballot is:
American League:
  1. Jose Abreu - 650 pts
  2. Dellin Betances - 140 pts
  3. Collin McHugh / Masahiro Tanaka - 130 pts.
Abreu blew away the field after his season as one of the premier offensive stars in the Americna League in 2014. The rest of the field in order of their finish was: Kevin KiermaierMatt ShoemakerYordano VenturaDanny SantanaGeorge SpringerMarcus StromanNick Castellanos.
National League:
  1. Jacob deGrom - 590 pts
  2. Billy Hamilton - 360 pts
  3. Joe Panik - 70 pts
deGrom was on nearly every ballot and had the most first place votes by far. Hamilton was on nearly every ballot but only had one first place vote. One other first place vote went to Joe Panik. The rest of the field in order of their finish: Kolten WongEnder InciarteKyle Hendricks, Travis d'Arnaudand David Buchanan.
Much thanks to all the chapter members who voted.

MLB Game Picks - Friday: October 10, 2014

Good job, Bud Selig and you all-powerful television entities, baseball is finally back after four days. Such a hiatus should help ratings giving casual fans just about anything else to wrap their minds around with the attention spans of a four-month-old puppy. You see, if Major League Baseball wasn't a slave to the television contracts, the Championship Series could have been started a day or two after the Division Series ended. But we can't have that and mess up those TV time blocks now could we?
I suppose I should get to the game at hand. Yes, game, singular. We can't even start with two games. We have to space them out for maximum ratings. But all cynicism aside, this is going to be a fun ALCS with two teams we haven't seen come this far in a long while. I even had a dream about this one. Yes, I had a dream...
The pick:
  • The Orioles over the Royals: I dreamed I was high on a mountain-top, naked to the world...wait...that's the wrong dream. I dreamed the Royals built a fairly sizable lead early off of Chris Tillman and all my Royals Twitter buds were whooping but were silenced in the end by a big Orioles comeback who catch up to James Shields in the sixth inning and take over the game. There were orange towels being waved all over Camden Yards and I wished I could give @grogg a hug. Hey, that's what I saw. So that's what I'm picking.
Last time we met: 1-1, Post Season: 6-10, Season: 1371-1100

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: October 7, 2014

Perhaps like the Nationals, these playoff game picks are making a comeback after a 2-0 night last night. The ten-game winning streak rule was certainly a factor just as I predicted against the Giants and John Lackey was every bit as good as I thought he would be against the Dodgers. Who would have ever predicted Matt Carpenter's power display or the winning runs hit over the fence by Kolten Wong.
Both NLDS series go to a fourth game. Will either of them go to a fifth?
The picks:
  • The Cardinals over the Dodgers: The Dodgers are throwing caution to the wind and are asking Clayton Kershaw to save their season on early rest. I think the guy is already tired from having so many stressful outings down the stretch. I don't think the strategy is going to work. Shelby Miller had a strange year. He was awful early in the season and then came on strong. So it is hard to understand how good his stuff is since his season numbers are mundane. I think he shuts the Dodgers down. Trevor Rosenthal sure does make the ninth inning scary, doesn't he?
  • The Nationals over the Giants: The Nationals' depth in their rotation saves them here as Gio Gonzalez had a better year than people think. If you look at his peripherals, his WHIP, FIP, K/9 and H/IP were all very good and in line with the rest of his career. My only problem is with his first post season appearance two years ago when he could not throw strikes and walked the farm. He cannot do that today. Ryan Vogelsong also had a better season than what I thought he did. His peripherals were also surprising in some ways. If Gio Gonzalez is on, can Vogelsong keep up? I don't think so. This series goes five.
Yesterday: 2-0, Post Season: 5-9, Season: 1370-1099

Monday, October 06, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Monday: October 6, 2014

At least I was half right yesterday. I did predict the Royals finishing off their unbelievable sweep of the Angels. C.J. Wilson continued his string of post season clunkers and I just knew that he would have nothing to offer yesterday. It's sort of a shame to have a great season like the Angels did only to not win a single playoff game. But that's baseball and huzzahs to the Royals and the team's fans for a great series victory and a chance to face the Orioles in the ALCS.
I did not pick the Orioles to sweep yesterday and I should have. They are a juggernaut right now and will be tough for anybody to beat. Everything they have is working including manager, Buck Showalter. Congrats to the Orioles and that team's fans as well.
Now it is the NLDSs' turn. Will the Nationals go the way of the Angels and the Tigers? Can they win a post season game? And the Cardinals and Dodgers is the only series so far where both teams have won a game. What will happen there?
The picks:
  • The Nationals over the Giants: Remember this season how every streak ended at ten? If a team lost ten in a row, that team would win the eleventh. If a team won ten in a row, that team would lose the eleventh. It happened all season. That is why I pick the Nationals. Madison Bumgarner is as good as it gets. But Doug Fister is nearly as good and also has a great post season repertoire. None of the other series have been able to avoid the sweep. But because of the ten game rule, I have to go with the Nationals.
  • The Cardinals over the Dodgers: I have looked at this game from every angle. First, Hyun-jin Ryu beat the Cardinals last year in the playoffs with a scoreless outing. Secondly, he has pitched better on the road this year than at home, which surprised me. But he hasn't pitched since September 12 and I have to wonder how healthy he is. And after being out that long, will he pitch for long in this game? And if not, will the bullpen hold up? Then there is John Lackey. If the country's baseball fans already hate the Cardinals, how much will that be ramped up with Lackey on the mound. The guy is not exactly easy to like. But he has a ton of post season experience. Can he be better than he was for the Cardinals after the trade? I don't know. But that's my final call. The Cardinals at home with Lackey against a guy with uncertain health.
Yesterday: 1-1, Post season: 3-9, Season: 1368-1099

Sunday, October 05, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: October 5, 2014

This is getting downright silly. I cannot pick a playoff game to save myself. Two more incorrect calls and one took eighteen innings to put me there. When the post season started, my hope was that I wouldn't get eleven picks wrong total because I did not want my season incorrect total to reach 1,100. How laughable is that now that I have picked eight of ten post season games incorrectly?
I am going to fault Matt Williams for one of them. I mean, who would you rather face with two outs in the ninth inning holding a 1-0 lead with a man on first, Jordan Zimmermann, who got you there, or any relief pitcher? So what if it was Buster Posey? Williams should not have listened to the "book" there just because Zimmermann had just hit 100 pitches and had given up a hit to Posey prior in the game. Have some faith, man!
There is more second guessing to go around. What about the Nats' approach to hitting Tim Hudson? Give Hudson credit, he willed his way to bring back some old magic, but still, hit the ball up the middle and the other way on a soft toss guy. Nope. And why pitch to Brandon Belt in the 18th? Brandon Crawford was next and he hadn't gotten close to a hit all day.
Oh well, perhaps the most talented team in the National League is now nearly toast. And we get the every-other-year magic of the Giants instead. And how do you feel now TBS and MLB after your insistence on putting the game on later in the day and then having to go until after midnight on the East Coast to figure out who was going to win? That will teach you and it serves you right.
I didn't mind so much getting the Dodgers - Cardinals game wrong. Those were two great starters and either one of them could have succeeded.
It's all ALDS today. So here are my (sure to be incorrect) picks:
  • The Tigers over the Orioles: I'm afraid to make any pick at the moment. Talk about gun shy. Anyway, if you have to choose between David Price and Bud Norris, wouldn't you always take David Price? Plus, the Tigers are at home which will help them. My reservations? Price only pitched once against the Orioles this year and it did not go well. The Orioles can hit just about anybody.
  • The Royals over the Angels: The most improbable of the winners will finish the sweep. I think. C.J. Wilson is 1-5 in his post season career and has not pitched well. His one win did come in an ALDS however. But I don't see it. James Shields worries me though. He'll either be Big Game James, something I have never bought by the way, or he'll give up two or three homers. Mike Trout has been totally absent. Will he wake up today? I can feel another 0-2 today. Ugh.
Yesterday: 0-2, Post Season: 2-8, Season: 1367-1098