Category Archives: Baseball

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.

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.

mariano rivera

AL BEast Team Capsules – quick news and numbers

AL BEast Notebook – May 13

New York Yankees

Despite having 11 players on the disabled list (including four third basemen and shortstops), the Yankees stand alone in first place. Since April 7, New York is 22-9.

  • Mariano Rivera has turned back the clock, picking up an AL-best 15 saves in 15 opportunities, supported by a 1.65 ERA and sub-1 WHIP.
  • After a shaky start, Hiroki Kuroda has thrown six straight quality starts. He’s now 5-2 with a 2.31 ERA.
  • Robinson Cano has been the one consistent in the lineup all year. Cano is hitting .311 with 10 home runs, 10 doubles, 23 RBI, and 22 runs scored, and committed just one error in 320 innings at second base.
  • Vernon Wells has been a big contributor to the team, hitting .293 with 9 home runs, 20 RBI and 19 runs scored. And the Angels are paying most of his salary.

Boston Red Sox

Two weeks ago I wrote that it was all smiles in Red Sox Nation, as Boston held the best record in baseball with a favorable upcoming schedule. Things haven’t stayed so sunny.

  •  The Red Sox are falling apart. They are 2-8 in their last ten games, including losing 5 of 6 at home to the Twins and Blue Jays. The games haven’t been close, either. Boston was outscored 33-62 over those last ten.
  •  The bullpen was supposed to be a big strength for the team, but it is actually the main cause of the problems. Hanrahan got hurt then got hurt again in his first game back and will miss the rest of the season. Andrew Bailey filled in well as closer until he got hurt. Tazawa has not been effective. Actually, the Sox haven’t had many save opportunities at all lately enough to worry about who’s the closer. The Red Sox bullpen WHIP and ERA are highest in the AL.
  • After his late start, David Ortiz hit .500 in nine April games. In May he is batting just .179.
  •  Red Sox games have a lot of whiffs. Boston hitters have struck out 317 times, more than any AL team. Their pitchers have also struck out the most batters (363).
  • It isn’t all bad for the Sox. Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester continue to pitch well. They are combined 11-0.
  • Here are a few things to add comfort to Red Sox fans. The three batters they sent to the Dodgers are all hitting well (Adrian Gonzalez .345, Carl Crawford .315, Nick Punto .338). Jed Lowrie is hitting .310 for Oakland with 13 doubles. James Loney is hitting .376 for the Rays. Marco Scutaro is hitting .479 since April 29 for the Giants. And that’s excusing Josh Reddick, who hit 32 home runs in Oakland last year.

Baltimore Orioles

Orioles have been very consistent all year, having scored the most runs in the league and have the best run differential in the division.

  •  Chris Davis was red-hot for the first three weeks, and Manny Machado has been on an absolute tear the last three. Since the middle of the doubleheader on April 20 (22 games), Machado is hitting .396, with three straight three-hit games over the weekend.
  • Jim Johnson has converted 35 consecutive regular season save opportunities, most in franchise history. Johnson has not allowed a run in any save situation this year (14 innings).
  • There are suddenly some concerns with the starting rotation. Wei-Yin Chen was cruising along with five shutout innings Sunday when he left with an oblique strain. An oblique strain usually means a trip to the DL. If so, he would be joining teammate Miguel Gonzalez, who went on the DL Thursday with blister problems. They have sent down pitchers Steve Johnson, Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton (and Josh Stinson) to the minors in the last few weeks. Freddy Garcia has been starting and is scheduled for Wednesday, but I trust Garcia about as far as I can throw him.

Toronto Blue Jays

Despite a 5-3 stretch recently (a big improvement), there is still plenty of concern in Toronto.

  • Josh Johnson is on the disabled list, Brandon Morrow was scratched from his start on Sunday, and J.A. Happ was struck in the head with a line drive last week. Ricky Romero was removed after recording just one out in his second start and promptly returned to the minors. Blue Jays pitchers have already issued the most walks and allowed the most earned runs and unearned runs, and these recent events put even more pressure on R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, who haven’t been very good anyway.
  • Rajai Davis strained his oblique over the weekend and will also be shelved for a couple weeks, the Jays second leadoff hitter to go down.
  •  Toronto is in last place by five games and has the worst run differential in the league.
  • There is one thing the Blue Jays do well and that is hit home runs. They lead the league in bombs (51 in 39 games).
  • Jose Bautista is starting to heat up. He is hitting .333 in May (with .453 OBP), although his two homers in Sunday’s blowout win were his first since April 27.

Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay has won five straight games to crawl above .500 (19-18).

  • Here’s a strange situation: the Rays hitters are Top Ten in runs, home runs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage while Rays pitchers are in the bottom half of the league in ERA, quality starts, batting average against, on-base percentage and home runs.
  • Matt Moore is 6-0 and had a quality start in every game outside of Coors Field. His 2.14 ERA is among the league leaders.
  • James Loney has now accumulated enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. His .376 average trails only Miguel Cabrera.
  • Evan Longoria continues to do it all: .333 average, 47 hits, 9 home runs, 10 doubles, 28 runs scored, and 26 RBI.

(Disclaimer: Again, the Astros are so bad that when giving team rankings in the league, the Astros are ignored. So technically worst probably means second-worst.)

miguel cabrera

Baseball Power Report: Week 5 (Month 1)

A month is in the books so here is my early May Power Report. For each team I have a ranking and a few interesting stats/observations for not just the last week, but the season to date. Enjoy it because it took a lot of work!

30. Astros. Lost 10 out of 11 and outscored by 24 runs the last two. The 198 runs they’ve allowed is 34 more than the next team. On pace for 41-121 record. They’ve also racked up an impressive 323 strikeouts, which will shatter the all time record. Philip Humber not only has the highest ERA but also the lowest run support; that’s how you go 0-7. There’s no question that second baseman Jose Altuve (NL-most 43 hits, .331 average) will be the team’s All-Star rep.

29. Marlins. Even with their 14 run outburst against Roy Halladay on Sunday, Marlins are the only team yet to score 100 runs (in 32 games), and with the only real legitimate player (Giancarlo Stanton) out another month, runs will continue to be hard to come by.

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

28. Cubs. Believe it or not, the Cubs starting pitchers have given up the lowest batting average of any rotation (.218) and they have the most strikeouts in the NL. Unfortunately, the bullpen has dragged down the staff with a .356 on-base percentage allowed and 8 blown saves.

27. Padres. They have no hitters you’ve ever heard of but it is the pitching that has been bad. League’s worst ERA for starting pitchers. But since San Diego’s 5-15 start they are a respectable 8-3.

26. Mets already have 14 losses to the Marlins, Phillies, Rockies, Dodgers and Padres. All starters not named Matt Harvey have combined for a 5.63 ERA.

25. White Sox. The Sox have gotten some great starting pitching and bullpen work but the offense is anemic. They have scored the fewest runs and at .281 have the lowest on-base percentage in all of MLB. They have three regulars (Adam Dunn, Jeff Keppinger, and Tyler Flowers) batting under .200. Right now they have less than half as many walks as the A’s and yet more strikeouts.

24. Mariners. Michael Morse has an impressive 9 home runs, but he’s hitting .091 with runners in scoring position, giving him 14 RBI. King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma have been an outstanding duo at the top of the rotation, yielding just 17 earned runs in 95.1 innings (1.60 ERA), but starters for the rest of the games have been atrocious (100 IP, 76 ER = 6.84 ERA).

23. Blue Jays. Yes, I picked them to win the East and I still think they can get back into the race. But at this point Toronto has had one of the worst offenses (.232 average), worst fielding (16 unearned runs), and worst pitching (.776 on-base plus slugging percentage allowed) and worst run differential. Jays hit a lot of home runs but that’s it. I’m not writing them off yet but there is definitely room for improvement. J.P. Arencibia doesn’t watch many pitches: 42 strikeouts, 2 walks.

22. Twins. Off to a good start but it’s not sustainable. They have very little power, the pitching staff doesn’t strike anyone out, and they have given up 43 more hits than they’ve produced.

21. Phillies. You know there’s trouble when Kyle Kendrick is leading the staff. Phillies are a shocking 5-15 in starts by Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Halladay.

20. Angels. A team that was supposed to be much improved is the biggest disappointment. Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo are starting to pick up but Josh Hamilton (.208) and Albert Pujols (.237) are not. Chris Iannetta has had a base stolen off him 21 times in 24 games and caught only two runners. But the biggest problem has been the pitching, which has been the league’s worst. Angels are 9 games behind the Rangers.

carlos gomez

19. Brewers. Already this season Milwaukee has a losing streak of 5 games, winning streak of 9 games, and another losing streak of 5 games. Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura and Yuniesky Betancourt have been great but the pitching has been very inconsistent.

18. Rockies. After an amazing start the Rockies haven’t won back-to-back games since April 19-20. Hitting has reigned both home at Coors Field and on the road and the Rockies have the best offense in baseball led by Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Troy Tulowitzki and Wilin Rosario. The pitching is better than last year, but we don’t know how much better.

17. Dodgers. There is a lot of great with Clayton Kershaw, Adrian Gonzalez (.337 average, .398 OBP), Carl Crawford (.383 OBP), Nick Punto (.441 OBP), A.J. Ellis (.390 OBP), and Mark Ellis (.342 average), but the Dodgers still sit four games under .500. Josh Beckett is still winless in six starts and Matt Kemp has just one homer. One other interesting stat: Dodgers have a .305 batting average against lefties, best in the majors.

16. Rays. Didn’t see this coming: since April 17, James Loney is hitting 28/53 (.528) and providing Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist with some much-needed support. Matt Joyce has 6 home runs and 9 RBI (in 26 games!). Tampa hitters homered in 17 straight games, a streak that ended surprisingly in Colorado Saturday. Rays starters are now one of six teams since 1916 to have starters pitch at least five innings in each of the team’s first 31 games. Matt Moore has been great, which is a good thing because David Price has not (1 win in 7 starts, 6.25 ERA).

15. Indians. Here’s a stat you probably couldn’t guess: Indians pitchers have the lowest opponents batting average. Catcher Carlos Santana doesn’t offer much defensively, but with the bat he is crushing, leading the league with a .379 average and adding power (6 homers). Mark Reynolds is hitting an un-Mark-Reynolds-like .296. The pitching is erratic, but the hitting should be good enough to keep them around the middle of the pack.

14. Royals. Jeremy Guthrie is 9-0 since August 3. The new additions in the rotation (James Shields and Ervin Santana) have lifted the Royals to one of the most productive rotations in the AL. At 17-10 KC is off to a hot start but I’m not a believer. There is no power in the lineup (just 16 total homers) and their .393 OBP with runners in scoring position will drop. Things get tougher as 23 of their next 26 games are against the Orioles, Yankees, Angels, Athletics, Cardinals, and Rangers. We’ll see where they are at in a month, but my guess is on the other side of .500.

13. Diamondbacks have done a good job fighting through injuries but have one glaring weakness: the bullpen. Arizona relievers have blown 10 saves in 18 chances. Funny thing is the peripheral numbers aren’t bad: 3.12 ERA, .229 average against. Starter Ian Kennedy hasn’t won a game since Opening Day. Didi Gregorius is batting .433 in 8 games with 7 extra-base hits.

12. Pirates. Hitting has improved and pitching has slipped as Pittsburgh floats closer to the .500 mark. Jason Grilli has been lights out: 12/12 in saves, 21/4 K/BB, 0.69 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. One early cause for concern: Pirates relievers have thrown the most innings of any bullpen. Pedro Alvarez has had 39 at bats with runners in scoring position and just 6 hits (.154).

11. Yankees. Watching them every day I feel like they should be lower, but they keep winning. Looking at their record I feel like I should put them higher, but they keep losing players to injury. Right now Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira, Granderson, Youkilis, Cervelli, Nova, Pineda and Chamberlain are all on the disabled list, and Eduardo Nunez and David Robertson are also hurt. There is no doubt that a 18-12 start is much better than anyone could have anticipated, but can it continue with Jayson Nix, Chris Nelson, Lyle Overbay, Ichiro and Chris Stewart playing every day? Robinson Cano has serious legitimacy as the MVP so far.

10. Giants. Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval haven’t disappointed, and Madison Bumgarner (1.55 ERA, 0.84 WHIP) has leapfrogged Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum as the dominant ace of the staff. Giants have allowed ten more home runs and doubles then their offense has provided, but they’ve still outscored their opponent by ten. Giants starters have 10 wins, relievers have 9.

9. Braves. 6-11 record since their 12-1 start. Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson have been good surprises, but overall Justin Upton hasn’t gotten much support in the lineup. Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann have all been hurt, but B.J. Upton, Dan Uggla and Heyward (when he’s played) have been totally awful, combining for a .158 average. And while their starting pitching overall has been great, the Braves have lost nine of the last ten starts by Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Paul Maholm. Justin Upton’s 12 home runs is worth mentioning again.

8. Athletics. Traditionally a pitching team, things have changed dramatically in Oakland, and without any true slugger. I don’t know what’s so scary about the Athletics lineup but they have tallied the most (by far) base-on-balls in the league, extra-base hits, and runs. (Sounds like Moneyball to me.) They are also near the top in stolen bases. 39 year-old Bartolo Colon has issued one walk in six starts.

7. Orioles. Speaking of extra-base hits, Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Adam Jones have 53 of them, most of any teammate trios, and if you add Nate McLouth’s nine stolen bases, that makes four O’s that get themselves around the bases into scoring position. Matt Wieters isn’t doing anything with the bat but he’s been great defensively, throwing out eight would-be-basestealers (57%).

6. Cardinals have 23 quality starts in 31 games and the lowest starters ERA. In fact, all five starting pitchers have an ERA under 2.80. That’s good because their relievers have been the worst group in all of baseball. With Beltran, Holliday, Yadier Molina and Allen Craig, the St Louis lineup is very balanced and has been the best with runners in scoring position, hitting .328 with a .405 on-base percentage. Cardinals are MLB-best 13-6 on the road.

5. Reds. Shin-Soo Choo has been the most impactful new addition to any team this year, with his .463 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot. He has a .615 on-base percentage with runners in scoring position, and thanks to 8 walks in those situations actually has more runs scored than at-bats. Joey Votto’s overall OBP is higher, at .464. Jay Bruce hit 66 home runs the last two seasons but has just one so far in 2013 (with 46 strikeouts).

4. Nationals. I said they had the most complete (and best) team and even with their poorish start I still believe. The strange things are Strasburg’s struggles, the offense’s inability to score runs, and the most errors in baseball. Nats only hitting .203 against lefties. Jordan Zimmerman has been outstanding (5-1, 1.64) but Gio Gonzalez (4.97) and Dan Haren (5.01) have a long way to go. If I had to make my season predictions again I would still pick the Nats to make the World Series.

3. Red Sox. The Sox still are tied for the best record in baseball despite getting swept in Texas. David Ortiz has a 25-game hitting streak, going back to last July and through a couple stints on the DL. Mike Napoli is enjoying the Green Monster as he leads the league with 22 extra-base hits. Clay Buchholz has won all 6 of his starts, with a 1.01 ERA and 0.96 ERA. I’m still not picking them to win the division, but with their soft schedule the next four weeks Boston should stay around the top for another month.

2. Rangers. Yu Darvish has emerged as one of the top pitchers in all of baseball, but the key to the Rangers success has been the rookies: Nick Tepesch, Justin Grimm, Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers. Even with their hitter-friendly home of the Ballpark in Arlington, the Rangers have the league-lowest ERA and WHIP. They are also the only team without a blown save.

1. Tigers. Miguel Cabrera has picked up right where he left off. He leads baseball in hits and has walked 17 times and has knocked in 36 runs already. He is definitely enjoying lots of protection in the Tigers lineup with Prince (8 HR, .429 OBP, 32 RBI), and Torii Hunter (.361 average). Being on the unemployment market and then in the minors has gotten Jose Valverde’s attention; he has only allowed one baserunner in four innings and put the back of the Tigers bullpen under control. And then there’s Verlander, Sanchez and Scherzer. Any question why the Tigers are in the #1 spot?

Players of the Week

AL: Ryan Raburn, Indians. (I could have gone with Miguel Cabrera here, but he did all his damage in one game against the Astros.) Raburn had two multi-homer games followed by a 4-hit game, and another multi-hit game on Sunday.

NL: Carlos Gomez, Brewers. Milwaukee lost 5 in a row, but you can’t blame Gomez. He went 12-26 with 6 extra-base hits and 5 stolen bases. The centerfielder is now hitting .368 on the season, with 6 HR and 7 SBs.