adam wainwright

Baseball Power Report: Month 2 (Week 9)

June 3

A third of the way through the season, it’s time for the early June Power Report. For each team I have a ranking and a few interesting stats/observations for not just last week, but also the last month and the season to date. I tried to keep everything consistent, but some stats are based on Saturday, some on Sunday. Enjoy!

30. Marlins. If April wasn’t bad enough, the Marlins scored just 79 runs in 28 games in the month of May, running their season total to 152 runs in 55 games. They rank last in runs, doubles, homers, average, on-base percentage, slugging, and hit into the third most double plays. When your team leader in batting average is at .228, that explains a lot. Their pitching yields the highest opponents’ on-base percentage in the NL. Miami is actually 6-3 against the Mets, but 10-39 versus everyone else. On the bright side, slugger Giancarlo Stanton should come back sometime this month, and Miami plays the Mets again this week!

29. Astros. Just like the Marlins can’t hit, the Lastros can’t pitch. They rank last in earned runs, unearned runs, walks, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, batting average against, on-base percentage, and run differential. Astros batters have struck out an amazing 523 times, a record pace of 9.5 whiffs a game, while their opponents have struck out just 353 times. Houston does have a 14-6 record against the Angels, Mariners and Rockies, but are 7-31 against the rest of the league.

(Just like last month, the Marlins and Astros are so bad that for the rest of the league, if I say worst/lowest/fewest/ most/highest, it means among everyone else.)

matt harvey28. Mets. So much for the excitement of sweeping the cross-town rivals. Matt Harvey is still 5-0 and a reason to watch the Mets, but the rest of the Amazin’s are 17-32. And as noted, New York is 3-6 against the miserable Marlins. Poor starting pitching, poor bullpen, poor hitting, poor fielding…

27. Brewers. Milwaukee had a month to forget. Even with their win over the Phillies on Friday, the Brewers were only 6-22 in May and went from half game back of the Cardinals to 15 back. Milwaukee’s pitching has significantly underperformed, especially starters Yovani Gallardo, Wily Peralta, Marco Estrada and Kyle Lohse. They do have one of the league’s most productive outfields with Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Norichika Aoki, and shortstop Jean Segura leads the league with a .354 batting average.

26. Padres. Figuring out the Padres All-Star rep will be a real challenge. Isn’t much to say about this team.

25. Cubs. Chicago has a nice foundation of starting pitchers. Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and Scott Feldman all have an ERA under 3 and the staff’s batting average against is league-best .231. Anthony Rizzo leads the team with 10 homers and 36 RBI but he should have a lot more; he’s hitting .175 with runners in scoring position. Cubs have NL-best .805 OPS at home, and NL-worst .619 OPS on the road.

24. Twins. To show how bad the Twins pitching has been, they have registered a quality start (6 innings, 3 earned runs or less) just one-third of the time. None of the Twins starting pitchers have recorded even 30 strikeouts yet this season.

23. Royals. A month ago they were at #14 but I expected they would have a rough month. Yes they sure did, going on a 4-19 skid. James Shields went 0-4 in five starts, despite giving up two or fewer runs four times. Mike Moustakas is batting .081 (3 for 37) with runners in scoring position. The Royals have 29 home runs; their pitchers have allowed 66.

22. Mariners. M’s have two pitchers with ERA’s under 2.40 and three pitchers with ERA’s over 5.50. Michael Morse has just 12 RBI since April 11.

21. Dodgers. It is really strange to see that the Dodgers can’t get any higher than this with all the talent (or at least money) on their roster. One of the biggest problems is that they can’t get hits when it counts. Dodgers hit .265 with bases empty (5th in baseball), but .233 with runners in scoring position (5th worst) and just .146 with the bases loaded. Before landing on the disabled list, Matt Kemp had just 2 home runs in 51 games. That’s not the end of the trouble, as fellow outfielder Carl Crawford also joined Kemp on the DL Monday.

20. Blue Jays. Toronto’s rotation stability was supposed to be their biggest strength; instead it has been their biggest weakness. Due to injury and ineffectiveness, the Blue Jays have already used eleven different starting pitchers, and just as Josh Johnson is ready to return, Brandon Morrow and Ramon Ortiz get hurt. Things are getting better overall, especially on offense where in May the team OBP was .337, up from .294 in April. The biggest problem is nobody else in the division is losing.

19. White Sox. It’s hard to describe just how bad the Sox offense is, especially in the AL with a designated hitter. They have scored 186 runs in 54 games, .289 OBP, and have 428:128 K:BB ratio. Yet a week ago they reached .500 at 24-24, a testament of some really good pitching (Chris Sale, Jake Peavy).

18. Angels. Just when things were starting to turn around the Angels lost four in a row at home to the Astros. Josh Hamilton should have stayed in Texas; he’s hitting a woeful .216 as an Angel. At least Mike Trout is exciting, and Jered Weaver is finally healthy again.

17. Rockies. Still have the best offense in the National League, and even on the road they have the best slugging percentage and OPS. Carlos Gonzalez is a big reason why, leading the NL with 42 extra bases. Jorge De La Rosa is 5-0 with an ERA of 2.45 at Coors Field.

domonic brown16. Phillies. Read about Domonic Brown below. As someone who owns Cole Hamels on multiple fantasy teams, I am painfully aware that the Phillies are 1-11 in Hamels’ games. At least Cliff Lee is making sure that one of the four Phillies making $20 million this year is playing like it.

15. Nationals. Bryce Harper is on the DL, Stephen Strasburg has a back strain, Nats have lowest OBP in baseball, batting just .212 on the road, 8-14 since May 10… I am much less optimistic about the Nats than I was one or two months ago.

14. Giants. Pitching has been surprisingly poor in San Francisco, where the staff has only 23 quality starts in 57 games. On April 28, Marco Scutaro was hitting just .215; since then he’s hitting a sizzling.418.

13. Indians. Mark Reynolds and Carlos Santana followed up their .389 and .301 April with .200 and .208 May, yet the team played well anyway, going 18-12 during the month and is right up there with Detroit in the Central.

12. Rays. Those Rays that we all figured wouldn’t be able to score actually led all of baseball in runs in May. Since starting 14-18, Tampa Bay is 17-7, even without David Price.

11. Yankees. The Bronx “Bombers” have scored fewer runs than the Astros and Twins. Teixeira and Youkilis are back (and Tex finally started producing Monday night) but more often than not it seems the Yankees just can’t score runs with their lineup. Fortunately, the pitching overall has really been outstanding; especially in May when they had the lowest ERA in the AL (3.25).

10. Diamondbacks. Paul Goldschmidt is your NL MVP through the first 56 games, batting .337 with 13 homers and 73 runs produced. Not only is Patrick Corbin 9-0, but the D-Backs have won all 11 games he pitched.

9. Orioles. As AL Beast Notebook writer, I watch a lot of Orioles games. They are really one of the more entertaining teams in baseball. Chris Davis (yeah, I write about him every week) is hitting .357 with MLB-most 20 home runs. But everybody contributes: Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy and Nate McLouth are all doing great things. The Orioles have hit 81 home runs (most in MLB), but their pitchers have given up 78.

8. Athletics. No team is hotter right now than the Oakland A’s, who have won 14 of their last 16 games, and their next 13 games are against pitching-deficient Brewers, and hitting-deficient White Sox, Yankees and Mariners. Bartolo Colon has issued just 4 walks in 70 innings. A’s have the best bullpen ERA and OBP in the American League. A’s batters have the league’s most walks (and hit-by-pitches).

7. Pirates. They don’t do much hitting (shutout for first nine innings in four of last five games), and their starting rotation isn’t very scary but the bullpen is practically unhittable. While the Pirates bullpen has thrown more innings than just about everyone the batting average against them is just .210. In his first year as a full-time closer Jason Grilli is 22/22 in saves, has given up just 12 hits and struck out 41 batters in 25 innings. Pirates, Reds and Cardinals each won at least 19 games in May; no other team did.

6. Braves. Despite the expectations otherwise, Atlanta’s pitching is back near the top while the offense has been just average. Justin Upton hit 12 home runs in April and just two in May. Dan Uggla, B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward are hitting .161 after 448 at-bats. Kris Medlen has just one win in his last nine starts despite a respectable 3.48 ERA. Mike Minor is having an All-Star year, currently 7-2 with 2.48 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a .203 batting average. Freddie Freeman batting 20/40 with runners in scoring position.

dustin pedroia5. Red Sox. Boston had a tough stretch earlier in the month losing 9 of 11, but other than that the season has been smooth sailing for the Red Sox. A favorable May schedule makes way for a much, much tougher June, starting off with the Rangers again. As demonstrated last night, David Ortiz is killing righties, hitting .386 with nearly as many home runs (7) as strikeouts (9). Clay Buchholz continues to impress, leading the AL in wins, ERA, and opponents’ OPS. It’s nothing new, but there’s probably no big league player I’d rather have my son emulate than Dustin Pedroia.

4. Reds. Second best offense and second best pitching in the NL is a great combination. I’ve written a lot about Votto and Choo but there’s a reason: the duo are both getting on base in over 49% of their plate appearances against righties. There is no weak link in the rotation; everyone has an ERA under 3.9. And Aroldis Chapman has racked up 43 Ks in 25 innings.

3. Rangers. Weird to see, but even with a bunch of rookies and second year guys the Rangers have a better rated pitching staff than offense. In fact, Texas has the lowest team ERA in the American League, including a 2.83 ERA at the hitter-friendly Ballpark in Arlington. Adrian Beltre is having another monster year, but he may get lost in an overloaded third base All-Star group.

2. Tigers. Two months into the season and here’s what we have: four top of the rotation arms (Verlander, Scherzer, Fister and Anibal Sanchez), the reigning MVP Miguel Cabrera (the favorite for another one), a shortstop and right fielder both hitting over .310, Prince Fielder, and World Series experience. They are a pedestrian 29-24 right now, but that’s still about five games better than one year ago. The Tigers have one of the best offenses in baseball and a pitching staff good enough to again go deep in the postseason.

1. Cardinals. The one thing they lacked was a closer and they have certainly found a good one. Edward Mujica has been lights out, allowing just 14 baserunners in 24 innings for a 0.58 WHIP and 1.88 ERA. He has not walked a batter since April 3, and is 17/17 in save chances since taking over the job.

The starting pitching has been perhaps the best group in baseball, led by Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn, but also rookie Shelby Miller (6-3, 1.82 ERA), who retired 27 straight batters in a game earlier this month. And top prospect Michael Wacha has also burst into the majors, providing even more quality depth.

And of course, it’s not only about pitching in St. Louis. The hitting has also been perhaps the best (and certainly the deepest) group in the National League. They are certainly on fire right now; four players had a May OBP over .410, and four hitters (Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig, and Carlos Beltran) are legitimate All-Stars. The most impressive feature of the 2013 Cards is clutch = .324 average and .427 on-base percentage with runners in scoring position and two outs. Tack on a 20-9 road record as the cherry on top.

Pitching, hitting, relief, and fielding (league’s lowest 19 errors) are why the St. Louis Cardinals are an easy pick for the best team in baseball.

Biggest Leap: White Sox (+6), Cardinals (+5)
Biggest Tumble: Nationals (-11), Royals (-9)

Players of the Week

AL: Chris Davis, Orioles. Four more home runs this week as he collected 13 hits in 27 at-bats, but what may be more amazing is that pitchers didn’t walk him six games in a row.

NL: Domonic Brown, Phillies. Brown has taken over by storm. Last week he hit .444 with 7 home runs and 13 RBI. 13 teams failed to hit 7 home runs. Brown now leads the NL with 17 bombs.

youkilis teixeira

Welcome back Tex, Youk and Andy (4 days too late?)

AL BEast Notebook – May 31

New York Yankees

** No better time to make changes than after getting swept by the cross-town Mets. Fortunately, some moves will be natural as some former All-Stars are returning from the disabled list. Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira are set to play today (Friday) against the Red Sox.

The Yankees bats have really been quiet lately. Against the Mets, who owned the second-highest ERA in the National League, the Yankees could not muster more than one run in three of the four games. And while they did collect four runs in the other one, David Phelps allowed five Mets to score in the first inning. Not only that, but in each of the last three games the Yankees struck out at least nine times and didn’t earn a walk.

As well as the fill-ins have played, it is time for the backups to get back to being backups. The Yankees have gotten more out of Lyle Overbay than they could have hoped, and David Adams has shown he can be a valuable batter against lefties. For the time being (with Tex, Youk, Overbay, and Nix/Brignac all available for corner infield), Adams is likely to head back to the minors, along with pitcher Vidal Nuno.

** Andy Pettitte is scheduled to return and start Monday at the stadium against the Indians, and that will likely mean a pink slip for either Adam Warren, Preston Claiborne, or Ivan Nova.

Boston Red Sox

** Speaking of returns, the Red Sox got a good performance in the season debut of Franklin Morales off the DL in a spot-start win over the Phillies Thursday night. Clay Buchholz has been out with a collarbone problem, but he is expected to be ready to pitch Sunday in a great matchup with Hiroki Kuroda.

** In each of the four games against the Phillies, Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a hit and came around to score off the bat of Dustin Pedroia. And in Thursday’s game Ellsbury didn’t stop there. The speedy outfielder got on base four more times and stole five bases, a Red Sox single game record. Strangely, despite Ellsbury constantly putting himself into scoring position, he never touched home after those five steals. (It didn’t bother the team too much; Boston still scored nine runs.)

Tampa Bay Rays

** Pitching is still what it’s all about in Tampa Bay and there seems to be no shortage of arms to go around. This week THREE Rays make/made their season debut: Jake Odorizzi and Alex Colome started games the Rays won and Chris Archer starts Saturday. With David Price injured, Alex Cobb needing extra rest for his finger, and Jeremy Hellickson struggling, it definitely helps to play the Marlins. Even Roberto Hernandez pitched a gem. Archer will have a much tougher test in Cleveland this weekend, and next week starts with a trip to Detroit.

bud selig

fixing baseball’s over-aggressive scheduling

This is baseball’s “Interleague Rivalry Week”, where all thirty teams play a regional foe from the other league in a home-and-away four game series. For some cities like LA, Chicago and New York it makes a lot of sense. For others, it seems the league is trying a bit too hard to create something that isn’t there. Anyway, here’s your latest “what’s wrong with baseball.”

Here are my issues:

1. Interleague play has run its course and isn’t interesting anymore. The American and National Leagues have different rules and styles and no team cares to change everything for four days. But Bud Selig decided to even out the leagues, moving the Astros from NL to AL, putting 15 teams in each and requiring interleague games to occur every day of the season, not just four weeks of the season. Fine. So why do we STILL have a week where EVERYBODY is in interleague? Isn’t every day enough?

If Bud and his buds still want to have an Interleague Play Week, then enough of the “interleague every day” deal! It’s dumb.

2. I like the idea of having a Rivalry Week where the Mets and Yankees play, along with the Cubs and White Sox. But do we really need to have the Mariners/Padres and Braves/Blue Jays go in the same manner of two home/two away? Is there any special meaning with the Twins and Brewers? This totally cheapens the experience and takes away from the unique spirit that should be there. If you want to make a special week of rivalries, then have those teams that don’t have a natural NL/AL regional rival play a divisional opponent. Then it is special for everyone.

Solution: Make it a true Rivalry Week. Here is how I would shape it. First, keep the interleague ones that make sense…

   ** Yankees vs. Mets ** Dodgers vs. Angels
   ** Cubs vs. White Sox ** Nationals vs. Orioles
   ** Giants vs. Athletics ** Indians vs. Reds
   ** Rays vs. Marlins (sure, why not?)
   ** Cardinals vs. Royals

Match up the others in important divisional and regional meetings…

   ** Braves vs. Phillies ** Red Sox vs. Blue Jays
   ** Rangers vs. Astros ** Tigers vs. Twins
   ** Pirates vs. Brewers ** Diamondbacks vs. Rockies

(We are left with the Mariners and Padres, so maybe baseball got that part right after all…)

Great, that works for everyone! We have a plan that makes every team (well, 28/30) have a relevant series at the same time, whether it be a classic local clash or a marquee divisional matchup. And maybe over time, the fans in Seattle and the fans in San Diego will decide that North Pacific and South Pacific is worth fighting over, too.

votto phillips choo

Filling out my first All-Star Ballot of the Summer

All-Star voting is underway and fifty games into the season is a good enough sample size to identify some selections. These will likely change a little before July 16, so don’t kill me for omitting the first place Red Sox, Rangers and Cardinals. But hey, this is my ballot.

Along with your traditional home runs and batting average, my favorite baseball statistics are:

  • On-base percentage (hits plus walks plus hit-by-pitches)
  • Extra-bases (homers, doubles, triples, stolen bases)
  • Runs produced (runs scored plus runs batted in minus home runs)

After all, getting on base, moving around the diamond and producing runs are like the hokey-pokey: that’s what it’s all about. Those aren’t the only stats I’m judging on, and defense is also considered.

American League

First base: Chris Davis, Orioles. 17 home runs, 18 doubles, .344 batting average and 29 walks. He also plays solid defensively at first. Davis has become one of my favorite sluggers.

Second base: Robinson Cano, Yankees. The way Cano leads the Yankees with nothing resembling an All-Star around him on the active roster to the top of the division for nearly two months is amazing. One of the best players in baseball.

manny machadoThird base: Manny Machado, Orioles. Okay, this spot should and will go to Miguel Cabrera, but this is my chance to put in a plug for one of the brightest rising stars in the game. The 20-year old phenom is hitting .335, leads the league with 23 doubles, and is tield with Cabrera for most hits in baseball. And it’s safe to see we all would rather watch this Web Gem collector flash the leather at third than Cabrera.

Shortstop: Johnny Peralta, Tigers. Cabrera’s teammate on the left side gets my vote at short. Batting .400 in May, Peralta, who has always been a solid hitter and fielder, is taking advantage of injuries to regular All-Stars Jeter and Reyes.

Catcher: Joe Mauer, Twins. What’s there to say about a catcher batting .330 who also collects lots of walks and smacks doubles?

Center field: Mike Trout, Angels. The wonder kid is among the league leaders in extra base hits, stolen bases and runs produced, and is a human highlight reel in center field.

Left field: Adam Jones, Orioles. It’s amazing how last year’s Baltimore superstar is now third on the team, even though he’s still hitting .318 with power, speed, and a recent Gold Glove on his shelf.

Right field: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays. After missing much of last year and starting slow, it’s nice to see Joey Bats back to doing his thing. Especially at the Rogers Center. After sitting out four games with an injury last month, Bautista’s on-base percentage at home since April 19 (20 games) is .538. Wow.

miguel cabreraDesignated hitter: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers. Miggy will be at third but he should probably be the DH instead. Let’s see… he leads the league by a mile in on-base percentage and runs produced, he’s second in home runs, he’s the reigning MVP and has a good chance to win the Triple Crown again.

Pitcher: Chris Sale, White Sox. While Clay Buchholz has pitched lights out against the Twins, White Sox and Astros, Sale has pitched very well against some of the best lineups in the AL (Angels twice, Indians and Rangers). He’s allowed 20 less hits than innings pitched. And other than one bad game in Cleveland, Sale has a 1.51 ERA and a quality start in each game. And he did it last year, too.

National League

First base: Joey Votto, Reds. One of the best measures for a hitter is how often he is walked. Joey Votto has 44 bases-on-balls, ten more than everyone else except his teammate Shin-Soo Choo. If a .354 batting average isn’t impressive enough, a Bonds-esque .477 on-base percentage is.

Second base: Brandon Phillips, Reds. The slick-fielding vet doesn’t do much when the bases are empty (awful .260 OBP), but takes advantage of the plentiful times Votto and Choo get on base to the tune of an impressive .478 OBP with runners in scoring position and league-high 43 RBI and 68 runs produced.

Third base: David Wright, Mets. The Amazin’s captain is having another stellar season. Some interesting stats: 4 triples, 11 stolen bases, 27 walks.

Shortstop: Jean Segura, Brewers. Probably the toughest decision of the whole process is Segura or Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo’s home splits at Coors are staggering, but not much different than Segura’s impressive road splits. Segura has higher average, on-base percentage, 14-0 steals edge, and comparable power numbers.

buster poseyCatcher: Buster Posey, Giants. The reigning MVP and World Series champ is hitting .304 and a ton of walks brings his OBP to .394, fifth highest in the NL.

Center field: Shin-Soo Choo, Reds. What do you want in a leadoff hitter? How about a .450 on-base percentage with power?

Left field: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies. CarGo has been one of the most productive hitters in baseball doing it all: .311/.388 and among the leaders in homers, doubles, walks, stolen bases, and runs produced.

Right field: Justin Upton, Braves. It comes down to a couple Brewers and a struggling Bryce Harper, and Upton beats them out right now as the Braves are in first and Upton’s hot start is holding up.

Designated Hitter: Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks. Goldy is the primary reason Arizona is in first place out west. He’s pretty much Top 2 or 3 in just about every offensive category.

Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers. Tip my hat to Matt Harvey, but I still think Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball right now.

mike trout

stats and facts: Week 8

Happy Memorial Day! It was too good of a day to sit at the computer and type so your weekly report for May 20-26 comes out on Tuesday instead of Monday, but there is still a lot of good stuff to read about.

** Last Monday, the Mariners homered in the 8th, 9th, and 10th innings and still lost the game.

** For the third time in his career, Joe Mauer broke up a no-hitter with one out in the ninth inning.

** In his last seven games, Mets Dillon Gee has given up two home runs to opposing pitchers and two home runs to all the positions players he has faced (courtesy of ESPN’s Jayson Stark).

** In 2012, Jim Johnson and Fernando Rodney converted 99 save opportunities, blowing just five chances. In 2013 they have already blown 9 saves.

** As the Yankees ace, CC Sabathia is expected to beat the Yankees biggest rivals, the Red Sox and Rays. It hasn’t worked so well. According to Kate Sharp, the Yankees are 1-9 in Sabathia’s starts at Tropicana Field since he joined the team in 2009. Since the start of 2010, New York is 4-8 in his starts against the Red Sox (home and away).

** Speaking of struggling aces, Cole Hamels has started 11 games and the Phillies have won just one of those. Add Roy Halladay’s starts and the Phillies are just 3-15 in those games. That’s not exactly what the team expected when the put the rotation together.

** Speaking of not struggling aces, Dodgers Clayton Kershaw went 22 starts without giving up four earned runs, a streak that finally ended Sunday.

** One more pitcher: Young Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin became the first pitcher ever to pitch nine innings at Coors Field (in Denver) while striking out ten batters and throw under 100 pitches.

** Week of the Big Sluggers:

- Jose Bautista had a pretty big day Wednesday. The Blue Jays slugger went 4-4 with a walk, stolen base, two home runs, including a game-tyer in the bottom of the ninth, and a game-winning RBI single in the 10th. He had 4 RBI as the Jays won 4-3. For the week, Joey Bats collected 14 hits and 5 walks and scored 8 runs.

- Like his early April, Chris Davis is on fire again. The O’s first baseman hit 4 home runs last week. Adding this Monday to last week’s totals, Davis had 14 hits, 7 walks (.583 OBP), 7 extra-base hits, and scored 9 runs.  Normally that’s a shoo-in for PotW.

- There was also Mike Trout (see below).

- Miguel Cabrera continued where he left off the previous week as he continues to give managers headaches and gray hair. In a span of five games, Cabrera piled up these crazy numbers: 10 hits, 5 walks, 6 HR, 9 runs, 15 RBI. In five games. Before his ho-hum weekend, Miggy was on pace for .388 average, 257 hits, 49 home runs, 45 doubles, 200 RBI, 137 runs, and his second straight Triple Crown MVP. And when things are going good for you, sometimes you get a little more help along the way.

** Most Exciting Play: Down 5-4 in bottom of 10th inning with a runner at second, Giants Angel Pagan hit an inside-the-park home run to win the game. What could possibly be more exciting than a walkoff inside the park homer? Check it out.

** Best Moment: following his game-winning RBI double Sunday, you have to see the post-game with Munenori Kawasaki of the Blue Jays.

Players of the Week

Could have been any of a dozen guys. Flip a coin.

AL: Mike Trout, Angels. All the young centerfielder did was get 12 hits including two homers, two triples, a double and four stolen bases, scored ten runs, collected seven RBI, hit for the cycle, and help the Angels win eight games in a row. It was a good week.

NL: Joey Votto, Reds. Votto takes home his second straight PotW as he had eight hits and six walks for a .518 on-base percentage (raising his season OBP to a ridiculous .475), also hitting a pair of homers and scoring eight runs while the Reds won five games in a row.

curtis granderson

Yankees’ Granderson injured again

AL BEast Notebook – May 25

** Second verse, same as the first. A week after Curtis Granderson made his season debut after getting struck in the arm by an inside pitch from a left-hander, it happened again.

Granderson was hit on the hand by a pitch thrown by Rays lefty reliever Cesar Ramos in the fifth inning of Friday night’s 9-4 win over Tampa Bay. The Yankees outfielder grimaced in pain and shook his head and hand on base but he stayed in the game as he later came around to score in a big inning for the Yankees before getting replaced by Ichiro the next half inning. He was immediately taken in for x-rays that showed he suffered a broken knuckle on his left pinkie. After missing the first 38 games of the season, the injury is expected to sideline him at least another four weeks.

At least the Yankees will not have to make drastic changes to the lineup. Brett Gardner, Ichiro and Vernon Wells are all still here and have been accustomed to manning the Yankees outfield for most of the year. Girardi had said the last few days that he was going to have to decide on a regular trio instead of circulating all four outfielders, so at least this event makes that decision easier. (Ichiro would have been the odd man out, so he has another shot staying in the lineup everyday.)

** Unfortunately, Granderson wasn’t the only Yankee to leave with an injury Friday night. Starting pitcher David Phelps was struck on the right forearm by a line drive off the bat of Ben Zobrist in the eighth inning. He has been diagnosed with a contusion (bruise). He’s the second starter this rotation to leave with a contusion, Hiroki Kuroda getting hurt Wednesday. While both pitchers will be sore for a few days, they are likely to make their next scheduled starts.

** Robinson Cano also received a “hit-by-pitch” during the game, although actually the ball struck the end of the bat, not Cano’s hand.

** The Boston Red Sox were also hit with the injury bug Friday. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks was placed on the 15 day disabled list with a bad back, and right fielder Shane Victorino went on the DL with a tight hamstring.

robinson cano

notes from Monday’s Yankees vs. Orioles (lots to say!)

AL BEast Notebook – May 20

In case you missed it, on the day after the fifteenth anniversary of the ’98 Yankees/Orioles brawl, the Yankees defeated the Orioles 6-4 in ten innings in one of the more interesting games of the season. And even if you did catch it, you don’t want to miss my notes from the night.

** Pitching matchup looked like an easy pick: C.C. Sabathia versus terrible Freddy Garcia. As it turns out, Sabathia was awful and Garcia was surprisingly acceptable.

** Sabathia gave up 11 hits, second game in a row of 10+ allowed. He blew a fifth inning lead and a seventh inning lead.

** Garcia gave up just three hits in six innings, but two were home runs.

** Yankees reliever Shawn Kelley has struck out 15 of the last 21 batters he has faced. He had more strikeouts in one inning (3) than Sabathia had in six-plus innings (2).

** The first base umpire made a terrible call in the sixth inning that may have changed the game. Tied 2-2, after a leadoff single, Matt Wieters grounded to third base; David Adams threw to first but Wieters beat him by a step. It should have been first and second, nobody out. But the ump called Wieters out, making it man on second with one out. Buck Showalter turned purple as he screamed at the ump and first baseman Chris Davis continued to make comments to the ump the next inning. The Orioles did not score a run in the inning.

** Yankees hit four solo home runs: Robinson Cano, David Adams, Lyle Overbay, and Travis Hafner. Cano now leads the AL in homers (Baltimore’s Chris Davis tied him an inning later).

** After converting 35 straight save chances, an Orioles record, Jim Johnson blew his third game in a row.

** Despite Hafner tying the game with a homer in the ninth, Buck Showalter opts to intentionally walk Cano in the tenth inning with a man on third to face Hafner. Pronk smacks a single to make it 6-4.

** Cano walked twice in a game for the first time since September 13.

** Rookie Adams (homer), Overbay (go-ahead homer), Hafner (tying homer in ninth), Ichiro (leadoff double in tenth and scored winning run) and Vernon Wells (winning RBI in tenth) all played huge roles in this game. You can call that winning off the scrap heap.

** Overbay, batting cleanup, entered the game hitting just .119 with no homers against lefties in 42 at-bats. Buck Showalter brought in the lefty Troy Patton to face Overbay in the seventh and the first baseman hit it out to make it 3-2 Yankees.

** Orioles had 13 hits and five doubles in the game, but their team leader in hits, doubles and batting average, Manny Machado, didn’t even get on base (0-5).

** Mariano Rivera picked up his 95th career save against the Orioles, the most ever for one pitcher against one team. Mo is 17/17 in saves on the year.

** Orioles have lost seven straight home games.

** Strangely, this was the ninth time this year that the Orioles lost while still getting at least ten hits.

** Orioles bullpen has been just awful during this six-game slide. Dating back to Wednesday, Baltimore relievers have pitched 22.2 innings and allowed 21 runs.

** Yankees are 19-0 on the season when they score first (Cano homered in the first inning). They had to come back in this one, and they did.

** With the win and the Red Sox loss, New York is 1.5 games ahead of Boston. Tampa also lost to fall five back, as is Baltimore.

paul goldschmidt

baseball Week 7: a whole lot of Crazy

May 20

** Living in the Northeast and primarily following the AL, I know all about the Yankees’ improbable season. But what if I told you that there was a team that…

  • entire starting outfield has been on the DL
  • All-Star/Silver Slugger second baseman played just ten games
  • All-Star catcher is hitting .180 (while playing more than all but one other MLB backstop)
  • Closer pitched poorly then went on the DL
  • Bullpen has most blown saves in MLB
  • Ace went seven starts between earning wins
  • Number two pitcher earned just one win in a stretch of seven starts
  • Number three pitcher has sub-.500 record
  • Number four pitcher recently earned his first win (ninth start of the season)
  • In the offseason they traded away the player that now leads the majors in home runs

And what if I told you that this team (Arizona Diamondbacks) is in first place, in a division that includes the reigning World Series champs and another team with a $217M payroll?

Paul Goldschmidt (.333, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 29 runs, 1.049 OPS) and Patrick Corbin (6-0, 1.52 ERA) are big reasons why.

Speaking of the D-Backs, on Saturday Gerardo Parra hit the first pitch of the game for a home run. Arizona won the game 1-0.

** Indians Justin Masterson pitched his fourth shutout of the season, tied with Clayton Kershaw for most in the big leagues.

So far this season, the Indians have defeated Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Bartolo Colon, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, David Price and R.A. Dickey. They are 7-1 against Cy Young winners. Those pitchers combined ERA is 8.20 against Cleveland.

First place Indians aren’t there by luck.

** Guess who has the most quality starts in the league? Not Kershaw, Felix or Verlander; that would be Cubs Travis Wood. He’s had a quality start in all nine games.

** Miguel Cabrera went 4-4 with three home runs on Sunday night against the Rangers. Cabrera’s stats right now are scary. His three homers give him 11, one less than most in the AL. He leads the league in batting average (.387), RBI (47), runs scored (34), hits (67), total bases (114), on-base percentage (.457), and he’s one point off the lead for slugging percentage (.659).

It is looking like back-to-back Triple Crown MVP is a distinct possibility.

** The streaks continue for the Brewers. This week they had another four-game losing streak, their fourth streak of four losses already this year (plus another streak of three games), to go along with a nine-game winning streak last month.

** Matt Harvey has been amazing, everyone knows. The young starter for the Mets is 5-0 and New York is 7-2 when he pitches. But in all the next games following his start, the Mets are 0-9. Ain’t much for momentum.

Speaking of those Amazin’s, Rick Ankiel got cut by the terrible Astros last week. The next day he was signed by the Mets and started five games this week in center field.

** Weird stat of the week: According ESPN stats, Reds teammates Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto have had the same number of plate appearances (207) and seen the exact same number of pitches (862). Both numbers lead the league.

** Craziest inning of the week: Reds flame-throwing lefty closer Aroldis Chapman was called upon to save a 2-1 Reds lead over the Phillies Sunday. He walked the leadoff batter on four pitches, and with Erik Kratz up to bat, Philly manager Charlie Manuel used pitcher Cliff Lee as a pinch runner. If that isn’t strange enough, Lee was promptly picked off at first base! Kratz then proceeded to hit a home run! The game would have been over and the Phillies won, but instead it was tied 2-2. But not for long; the very next batter Freddy Galvis hit another home run for a walk-off and the Phillies won anyway. For Lee, all was forgiven (although he probably won’t be used next time).

Players of the Week

Lots of good candidates this week.

AL: David Ortiz, Red Sox. Could have gone with Miggy here, but I prefer Ortiz’ consistency and game influence. Big Papi shrugged off a terrible week previously to get right back on track, picking up 11 hits, 3 walks, hitting 3 homers, and knocking in 12 runs as the Red Sox won five games in a row on the road.joey votto

NL: Joey Votto, Reds. Votto got on base 19 times in six games, hit pairs of homers and doubles, collected 5 RBI and 7 run scored, helping Cincinnati win six games in a row.

hiroki kuroda

AL East weekly update

AL BEast Notebook – May 20

** Another week, another significant injury for the New York Yankees as Andy Pettitte joins the rest of his All-Star teammates on the disabled list. Pettitte has a strained trapezius; it may be the first time I’ve even heard of the muscle. On the bright side, with Sunday’s rainout and a day off Thursday, there is no need of a fill-in starter right away and New York can go with a 4-man rotation a couple times before his spot comes up.

In the first game of the Yankees/Indians doubleheader Monday, salaries for the Yankees lineup totaled $30.35 M. Salaries for the Indians lineup = $41.35 M. Bet you didn’t expect that.

It has really been a weird season for the Yankees and nothing short of a miracle that they are still in first place. In that doubleheader Chris Nelson, Corban Joseph, Alberto Gonzalez, Preston Claiborne, Austin Romine, Vidal Nuno and Adam Warren, along with Lyle Overbay, Jayson Nix, Brennan Boesch, and Ben Francisco all got on the field in pinstripes. Sounds more like an early Spring Training tryout, not a pair of mid-May games for the New York Yankees. Not surprising, those Bombers only scored in two of the 18 innings that day.

Yankees have had 13 shutouts over the last two seasons, and Hiroki Kuroda has started and won 7 of them.

** Boston Red Sox bounced back from their 2-9 stretch to win five in a row all on the road. Sox are now AL-best 14-7 on the road.

It has really been a roller-coaster season for David Ortiz. After missing the first 15 games (the team going 11-4), he returned in a flurry; batting .512 into the May 3 game and hitting in 15 straight games. But then a Boston columnist wrote an accusatory article accusing Big Papi of cheating and his on-field play plummeted as he hit just .175 over two weeks with RBI in just one game, and the Red Sox went on their big skid. But since then Ortiz turned it on again, hitting in 8 straight games, collecting 12 RBI in a five game stretch last week and the Sox are back to winning.

Big Papi’s teammate, former-MVP Dustin Pedroia is also on fire, hitting in 11 straight games, batting .343 on the season and producing 51 runs (RBI + R – HR).

But the top of the rotation continues to be the story in Boston. The Red Sox are 15-3 in games started by Lester and Buchholz, and neither pitcher has suffered a loss (12-0).

** Meanwhile, since losing Wei-Yin Chen to the DL the Baltimore Orioles have lost five in a row, all at home.  It was not a good week for closer Jim Johnson. After converting 35 straight opportunities, Johnson blew two consecutive saves, Tuesday against the Padres and Saturday in epic fashion versus the Rays. In the two games he allowed ten baserunners and seven runs while recording just four outs (one via an outfield assist to third base). The game on Saturday snapped Baltimore’s streak of 108 wins when leading after seven innings.

The Birds continue to be led by the incredible trio of Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Adam Jones, who are each hitting above .310 with a combined 72 extra-base hits. Of other players only Mike Napoli has more XBH than that average of 24.

** Since starting 14-18, Tampa Bay Rays are on a roll winning 9 of 11. The Rays and Orioles had an interesting weekend together. On Friday, Baltimore scored six runs in the eighth inning; the next day Tampa scored six runs in the ninth inning.

Matt Moore is the first pitcher to eight wins, but due to high pitch counts he doesn’t go deep into games. In fact, he has recorded an out past the sixth inning just three times despite throwing over 100 pitches in all nine starts.

David Price went on the DL this week on May 15. He earned just one win in his nine games. On May 15, 2012 Price earned his sixth win.

** Not much to say about the Toronto Blue Jays who got embarrassed at Yankees Stadium over the weekend after it looked like they may be turning a corner.

One bright spot is Ramon Ortiz, who turns 40 this week. Since replacing injured J.A. Happ, Ortiz has had two good starts in a row, giving up just one run in each.

The postponed game comes at a good time, stopping some negative momentum and giving them a little more rest as several key injured players are getting close to returning (Josh Johnson, Dustin McGowan, Happ, and Rajai Davis), and an extra day to prepare for an important divisional homestand against the Rays (without seeing Matt Moore) and Orioles.

shelby miller

baseball Week 6: “Week of the Pitcher”

May 13

It was a week for pitching gems. There may not have been a no-hitter or perfect game but a whole slew of guys came pretty darn close.

  • Cardinals rookie Shelby Miller allowed a leadoff single on Friday, then retired the next 27 batters.
  • The next day, his teammate Adam Wainwright pitched another complete game shutout, allowing just two hits
  • Also on Friday, Red Sox Jon Lester pitched a one-hit shutout over the Blue Jays.
  • Mets Matt Harvey pitched a one-hit shutout on Monday with 12 strikeouts and no walks and didn’t even get a win for it (Mets won 1-0 in ten innings, Harvey pitched nine).
  • White Sox Chris Sale finished off the week on a strong note, giving up just one single in a complete game.

If that wasn’t enough, those five pitchers combined to walk one batter in those 45 innings. And six hits.

And that wasn’t all the great pitching we saw. James Shields gave up just two hits in eight scoreless innings on Monday (with nine strikeouts), Jorge De La Rosa pitched a couple great games (more on that below), and Scott Feldman pitched two-hit ball in shutting out the Rangers over seven.

What was most amazing about those gems by Miller and Wainwright was that they were against the Rockies, who last week I mentioned had the best offense all of baseball. Rockies batters went 50 at-bats between hits (0 for 50!). And that series with the Cardinals followed a three game series at Coors Field against the Yankees where the Rockies only scored 3 runs. Safe to say, Rockies no longer have the #1 offense in baseball.

Speaking of the Rockies and Yankees, Wednesday’s game was pretty remarkable for Vernon Wells. The Yankee “outfielder” went 3 for 4 including a two-run homer in the first inning, and a single to lead off the ninth inning. He then stole second, scored the go-ahead run, and because of a pinch-hitting situation was asked to play third base in the bottom of the ninth for the first time in his major league career. And of course, he fielded a hot-shot in that inning and cleanly recorded the out at first.

With all the concern about the Yankees injuries people expected pitchers to work around Robinson Cano in the Yankees lineup. For whatever reason that has not been the case. Cano has just one walk in the last 12 games and three free passes in the last 20.

Joe Mauer doesn’t just have an 11-game hitting streak; he has ten doubles in his last eight games, along with eight walks. Mauer had a real hot week hitting .533 with six multi-hit games (OBP of .600) as the surprising Twins stay at .500.

It has really been a rough year for Philip Humber, and his year at the major league level is likely over.  Humber relieved Erik Bedard (of course) in the sixth inning with a 3-1 lead after Bedard gave up a leadoff single. Humber proceeded to give up a home run, two triples, a single and a walk, recording just two outs. Humber was released with a record of 0-8 and ERA of 9.59 and a WHIP over 2.

What I can’t understand is why manager Bo Porter takes out Bedard with a 3-1 lead after 90 pitches. In fact, this was even the longest outing of the season for the veteran southpaw. On April 9, Porter took out Bedard with a 13-0 lead before he could even qualify for a win. On April 21 Bedard was relieved after four innings with a 4-2 lead (which the Astros eventually lost). The baseball gods frown on managerial moves like that.

Speaking of the Astros, before getting sent down Rick Ankiel had four singles and 35 strikeouts.

Rays pitcher Alex Cobb had a day for the ages on Friday. Cobb tallied 13 strikeouts while recording 14 outs. And the third inning went like this:

Strikeout/wild pitch, steal second base, strikeout, steal of third, strikeout, balk (run scored), strikeout.

Alex Cobb struck out every runner he faced and still gave up a run.

And to wrap it up, this was the first time all season that a Rays pitcher didn’t pitch at least five full innings.

Another week, another streak for Milwaukee. The Brewers are currently on a four game slide, their third losing streak of 4+ games, going along with a nine game winning streak in April.

Justin Upton hit 12 home runs in the Braves first 23 games, and has hit zero in the last 14 games.

I believe Craig Kimbrel is the most overpowering, dominant pitcher in baseball. But Tuesday night didn’t quite go all the way as he scripted. The Braves closer struck out the first two batters he faced. Then with two strikes, Devin Mesoraco (.224) hit a home run to center field to tie the game. The next batter, Shin-Soo Choo homered to center to win the game (and lose it for Kimbrel).

The Dodgers have the highest on base percentage in the NL, a healthy Clayton Kershaw pitching good as ever, and they are still in last place.

Here’s something I will probably write more about later: on Thursday night Jon Lackey gave up four runs that were all considered “unearned” because of an error. He made the error! The sixth inning went single, walk, bad throw by Lackey, and a home run. How is he not responsible for those runs?

Mets closer Bobby Parnell has four wins. No pitcher on the Marlins has more than two.

Players of the Week

AL: Evan Longoria, Rays. Longoria went on a tear this week, batting .464 with three homers, five doubles, 11 RBI and eight runs scored helping Tampa win five in a row and climb over .500 for the first time since the first week of the season. In May, Longoria has 19 hits (10 XBH), 12 RBI, and 13 runs scored in 11 games.

  NL: Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies. They were not the complete game variety, but De La Rosa pitched two shutouts this week against two teams with the best records in the league. Against the Yankees and Cardinals, the Rockies pitcher gave up just five hits in 13 scoreless innings. He held St Louis hitless into the seventh inning.