BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com senior blogger
Relievers can be difficult to project because performance can sway so drastically from season to season. The limited number of innings, and the various situations the pitchers are used can lead to occasional spikes or dips in results. Sometimes you don’t know if your established 8th inning guy will have to take over closer duties, which can also affect his numbers depending on the situations he’s used in. I’m not of the mind that a minute number of relievers can close; most guys can do it if they have a big fastball that can be consistently thrown for strikes. However, given how much of a financial incentive it is to be a big time closer, teams will overvalue based on saves, when they should really be looking at how effective the pitcher was overall. I digress, so here are my top 5 setup men aka potential closers that currently aren’t.
5. David Hernandez, Arizona Diamondbacks (68 IP, 98 Ks, 22 BBs, 2.50 ERA)
Former Team Mexico/USA pitcher is underrated, he improved his strikeout rate and lowered his walk rate in 2012, and figures to be used by Kirk Gibson to trade off the 7th or 8th with the inferior Heath Bell.
4. Drew Storen, Washington Nationals (30 IP, 24 Ks, 8 BBs, 2.37 ERA)
Let’s throw out that blowup inning against the Cardinals in NLDS game 5 last year, Storen is going to be getting key outs against the Braves lineup for a team that many will predict to win the World Series this year.
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com senior blogger
Some may think of left field as that position where a youth baseball coach would hide his worst player. In Major League Baseball, it’s quite the contrary, In fact, many former center fielders, who had a younger player with a tad more defensive skills bump them out of their former positions, will usually move just one spot left. It also seems like a lot of the games top power hitters call left field their home. We’ll look at both cases in today’s blog of the top 10 left fielders in the game today:
10. Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins (.260 BA, 35 HR, 110 RBI, 2.9 WAR) - One of the most underrated power hitters in baseball.
9. David Murphy, Texas Rangers (.304 BA, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 10 SB, 3.2 WAR) – One of the most underrated players in baseball.
8. Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics (.292 BA, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 16 SB, 3.4 WAR) - Great rookie season from the defected Cuban, expect more in 2013.
7. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies (.303 BA, 22 HR, 85 RBI, 20 SB, 1.3 WAR) - Big platoon split due to Coors Field.
6. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals (.294 BA, 14 HR, 72 RBI, 10 SB, 6.2 WAR) - Excellent defensive fielder with an improved bat.
5. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals (.295 BA, 27 HR, 102 RBI, 3.8 WAR)
Holliday is one of the great sure things in baseball. Consistently reliable slugger who drives in runs and generally does things well. One of the things he doesn’t do well is defend, or really have great range, at least not anymore. Regardless, he’ll be a big factor the Cardinals yet again.
Hanson’s most recent start on Sept. 21 was just the latest step in Hanson’s plagued second half of the year. He gave up five earned runs over 5 1/3 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies in the loss, even admitting that his recent outings have been poor.
“I feel like I’m battling my ass off to help my teammates out and to help my team win, and as of right now I’m not doing a very good job,” Hanson told Dave O’Brien after his last start. “It was a horseshit day. I’m not pulling my weight around here right now.”
While admitting his problem is a good step (as opposed to when Dan Uggla denied he had issues when Fredi Gonzalez benched him earlier this month), no excuse can be found for the lack of command Hanson has experienced since the All-Star Game. The numbers don’t lie.
Going into the All-Star break, Hanson had already won 10 games with a respectable 3.71 ERA. The .254 opponents’ batting average wasn’t particularly spectacular, but he was getting wins.
Just like in 2011, however, everything fell apart after the Midsummer Classic. The second half has seen Hanson struggled to a 2-4 record in 11 starts with a ballooned 5.88 ERA with opponents hitting .293 against him. The 30 walks he has issued in that span are ninth most in the National League with seven of those coming July 25 against the Miami Marlins in a win.
The current options for his replacement include Ben Sheets, Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran. Since Delgado struggled early in the season and Teheran still hasn’t tasted the Major Leagues this year, it would seem Sheets is the most logical choice. (more…)
BY MICHAEL J. SILVA, Feedcrossing.com syndication
Tom Verducci made this statement yesterday to John Feinstein and Bruce Murray during their mid-day show on Mad Dog Radio. I think Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels have done a fabulous job turning around that ballclub, but they should not be discussed in the same breath as one of the best baseball teams of all-time.
The ’98 Yankees weren’t a collection of All-Stars. Although the Yankees have been a payroll team for the better part of the decade, this was not the case during the late nineties dynasty under Joe Torre. The Yanks were actually number two, behind Baltimore, with their $66 million dollar payroll. There were six other teams that were within $10 million dollars of them, as well.
That ’98 team was a collection of homegrown talent, veteran acquisition and component players that thrived in their roles. That group scored 965 runs, which is the tenth highest in franchise history. Offensively, it was on par with the powerful offenses of the late twenties and thirties. Even more impressive was their pitching. They only allowed 656 runs; on par with the top staffs in the National League despite having to deal with the Designated Hitter. This current Rangers group is on par with that production, but in the depressed post-steriods era. The Yankees output was amazing due to the explosion of offense we saw that season. (more…)
BY ZAC CORDOVA AND JUSTIN MILLAR, Feedcrossing.com syndication
• LA Dodgers: Pretender. Matt Kemp should change his nickname to “Mr. April” because he gets everyone thinking he is the best player in baseball the first month of every season. He is great no doubt, but has little help outside of Clayton Kershaw and Andre Ethier. AJ Ellis will cool off a bit, but they are too top heavy to be considered consistent enough to be a contender.
BY JOE WHITE, Feedcrossing.com syndication
Almost exactly a year ago I wrote this article chronicling the early season struggles of the Detroit Tigers’ bullpen. Well, here we are again. Fresh off of the Twins (the TWINS?!) dropping an 11-spot on the Tigers last night and the bullpen allowing 5 earned runs in their 5 innings of work, fans are rightfully concerned.
The bullpen has been bad but certainly isn’t entirely to blame here. The offense has been suppressed for most of the season and the starting rotation has been decent, but couldn’t be categorized as world-beaters at this point. The defense has been predictably unsuccessful but ranking 21st in fielding % is probably more than what most expected. Although the fact remains that it’s hard to create an error on a ball your range doesn’t allow you to reach.
But man that bullpen is frustrating! By the numbers it might actually be even more troubling.
Senor Slider is making his way back
Across all of Major League Baseball the Tigers’ pen ranks dead last in ERA at 5.17. Worse than even the horror show on the north side of Chicago.
As an entire staff, the Tigers are doing a decent job not walking the opposition, but as a bullpen, only 2 teams have walked more. In 116.2 innings of combined work, the ever rotating 7-man pen has walked 58 hitters. Teams are hitting .270 off of Luke Putkonen and company, which ties them for 4th worst in the bigs.