Category:MLB
Posted on: July 27, 2009 6:08 pm
 

American League vs. National League: The Facts

The National League has been much maligned in recent years as being vastly inferior to the supposedly dominant American League. The All Star Game was over two weeks ago, however still the media is using the AL victory as justification of the American League’s dominance. The pitching is better, the hitting is better, and the American League trumps the National League in every possible aspect of the game.  Or does it?

The NL has lost every All Star game since 2002, when they were able to somehow match the incredible AL and tie it.  So the argument prevails that the AL is better based on the fact they have won those All Star games. However, since 2002 the game has been decided by only 1 run 5 times.  To say that because the AL has won the All Star games they are superior is putting a lot of stock into the once a year exhibition game. 

AL supporters also argue that the AL dominates inter-league play and therefore it is a better league.  Since 2002 the AL has won 53.5% of inter-league games.  Is it reasonable to think that because the AL teams have a professional hitter to hit for the pitcher while the NL team must use a bench player when they adhere to the DH rule that it may allow for the AL to win a slightly higher percentage of games?  

Despite the American League winning 53% of inter-league games it has not led to American League domination of the World Series.  Since 2000 the AL and the NL each have five wins.  Exactly equal.

When you look at the individual player stats for this season it shows equality between the leagues as well.  Both the AL and NL have 5 of the top 10 players in batting average ranks and 10 of the top 20.  The NL has 6 of the top 10 in HR, and 9 of the top 20, 5 of 10 in OPS and 11 of the top 20.  The consistency shows in pitchers as well.  The NL has 5 of the top 10 in ERA and 13 of the top 20.

Is there a great dominance by the American League?  Not really.   

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 21, 2009 2:02 pm
 

Felipe Lopez, Gone, Finally

The Diamondbacks completed the second trade of the season, sending Felipe Lopez to the Brewers for a pair of minor league, mid level prospects.  This was a great move by the front office to remove a player that was everything that the team didn’t want.  On the surface Lopez looks great; veteran player, .300 batting average, and reliable lead off batter.

What the stats don’t tell you is that Lopez is one of the most half hearted players that has ever donned a Diamondbacks uniform.  He made little to no effort on the base path or in the field.  He was routinely out of position, routinely jogged to first base, and made sure that he put himself first in every situation. 

Some of the examples of Lopez’s contributions can be found in the series leading up to the trade.  During the three game series against the Cardinals Lopez failed to slide into home, failed to make any effort to break up a double play, and after Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped strike three, rather than run to first and force the catcher to make a throw he simply walked back to the dugout.  Molina actually appeared surprised, as he popped up ready to make the throw; instead he had to walk a few steps toward the Diamondbacks dugout to make the tag.

Lopez was the only .300 hitter the Diamondbacks had.  They had no real replacement waiting in AAA to be called up, but this was addition by subtraction.  On a team with most of the players having less than three years experience going through a rough season, they could not afford to have Lopez’s bad attitude affect the rest of the team.  They need to have players that want to be there and want to put out their full effort every night.  It should only take until the end of August for the Brewers fans to begin to realize that they only got half a player.

Posted on: July 21, 2009 11:25 am
 

The All 25 and Under Team

The All 25 and Under Team

The past decade has not been a bright spot in baseball’s history.  A large number of the games biggest names are either admitted or suspected steroid users.  Players who have achieved some of the games greatest milestones such as Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, and Mark McGwire, will most likely not be admitted to the Hall of Fame.  Thankfully there is an emerging group of stars in baseball that will have never played during the steroid era, and we can enjoy watching them and celebrate their accomplishments without doubting their authenticity. I present to you the All 25 and under team.

C Brian McCann, 25:  Playing a defensively oriented position, McCann provides consistent offensive numbers.  He has a career batting average of .297 and SLG of .499.  There isn’t a team in baseball that wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to have a catcher with that type of production.

1B Prince Fielder, 25:  Already a two time All Star and recent home run derby champion, he has emerged as one of the premiere power hitters in the game today.  Just how much power you ask?  His SLG % for the season is .615, a ridiculous number, and.546 on his career.  He’s also not too shabby with the glove either, having a career fielding percentage of .991.

2B Dustin Pedroia, 25:  Pedroia hit the ground running when he entered the league, earning the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year.  One of the top second baseman in the game today, he has a career batting average of .311.  Last year his 54 doubles, .326 batting average, and high energy attitude earned him the 2008 AL MVP.   

3B Evan Longoria, 23:  There are a few other third basemen that you could argue should be here, but in total Longoria provides the best all around choice.  He currently has a batting average of .280, 19 home runs, and an OPS of .892.  His fielding percentage also ranks in the top half of starting MLB third basemen.  

SS Hanley Ramirez, 25:  This is not even close.  Not only is he the best shortstop among 25 and under players, but he is arguably the best shortstop in baseball period. He leads the NL in batting average this season with .345, has an OBP of .408, and an OPS of .969.  In short, Hanley Ramirez is really good and it will be exciting to watch him for years to come.

LF Ryan Braun 25:  Braun is in only his third full season but has already been an All Star starter twice.  He has hit over thirty home runs in each of his two prior seasons and is on pace to do it again this season.  His rookie year he had 34 HR and 97 RBI in only 113 games and he’s continued to show why he’s one of the top outfielders in the game today.

CF Jacoby Ellsbury, 25:  This position was a tight race between Ellsbury, Matt Kemp, and Adam Jones, but ultimately the speed of Ellsbury won out.  He has 41 stolen bases already this season, second in the AL, and a very respectable .293 batting average. 

RF Justin Upton, 21:  Upton, in only his second full season, is the youngest player on the list.  He’s batting .292 with a .524 SLG %, an OPS of .887, and has 13 stolen bases.   He’s not quite there yet defensively but at only 21 he’s got time to develop that part of this game.

Starting Pitcher Tim Lincecum, 25: Currently has a 2.27 ERA, and at only 25 he has already won baseball’s highest pitching honor as the 2008 NL Cy Young winner and is the front runner to repeat again in 2009.

Relief Pitcher Jonathan Broxton, 25:  One of the best closers in the game today, Broxton has a microscopic WHIP of .94 and has struck out 71 in only 43.2 innings, showing his utter dominance on opposing batters.  Eric Gange who? 

Posted on: July 15, 2009 3:55 pm
 

The Diamondbacks Invade St. Louis

The Diamondbacks defensive woes were on display for the entire nation to see Tuesday night.  A deep fly ball sailed over Justin Upton’s head allowing Curtis Granderson to reach third, setting up the American League for the go ahead run.  The same type of questionable defense allowed two AL runs in the bottom of the first when Tim Lincecum failed to cover first base in time and Albert Pujols failed to field a grounder.

Although it is not recorded as an error, the ball was clearly misplayed and Granderson would most likely not have reached third had someone else been in left field.  This is the type of play that Diamondback fans have witnessed all season.  On the bright side however, the nation also saw the Dan Haren that Dback fans have enjoyed all season.

My hope is that Justin Upton was embarrassed enough by misplaying a ball on national television that he recognizes it is a problem, and that if he truly wants to remain an All Star it will need to be fixed.  I hope that he concentrates on being a better fielder, he’s got the athleticism, he’s got a great arm, all he needs is to work on the fundamentals of the position.

As we saw last night, a team playing sloppy defense will rarely win, and so far this season the Diamondbacks have rarely won.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 15, 2009 11:31 am
 

25 Reasons Baseball is Better than Football

1. Baseball players who are not on the field are in the dugout leaving the fans with a view of the game.  Football players who are not on the field are standing on the sidelines leaving the fans with a view of their backsides.
2. Baseball on the radio is far more enjoyable than football on the radio. 
3. Baseball has a statistic to analyze every aspect of the game and determine the effectiveness of the players. 
4. Baseball players are required to play offense and defense.
5. Baseball parks are characters; football stadiums are clones.
6. There are only two ballparks that use artificial turf, next year there will be one, and none in the United States. 
7. Baseball requires the leading team to give the opposition a chance to comeback.  Football allows the team to sit on the ball and run the clock out.
8. The baseball season is broken into mostly three game series.  It’s like having a micro playoff series twice a week.
9. Baseball’s playoffs are decided by a series, ensuring the better team will always prevail. 
10. Baseball is built on accuracy; if a pitch is off by the slightest amount it can cost a team the game.  Football is built on force.
11. Baseball is a game of anticipation; football is a game of instant gratification. 
12. Vin Scully.  Anybody in football come close?
13. The baseball season has two distinct acts and a short intermission in between the two.  The football season just runs together.  
14. Baseball still uses wood bats. 
15. The oldest football stadium is 52 years old.  The oldest ballpark is 97 years old.
16. Baseball has a two seam fastball, four seam fastball, splitter, changeup, curveball, slider, sinker, and knuckleball; Football has a spiral. 
17. Baseball requires runners to be within a six foot base path.  Football requires them to be within 160 feet between the sidelines.
18. Football has TV timeouts.
19. You get to keep score in baseball.
20. A baseball game can be infinite.  A football game is limited to 60 minutes.
21. In baseball once a player goes out of the game they don’t get to come back in.
22. Baseball has Take Me Out to the Ball Game.  There is no song dedicated to football.
23. When a player signs a five year contract in baseball, they do not come back the next year and demand a new contract threatening that they will hold out of spring training.
24. Baseball’s records can be retrieved from memory; football’s records need to be retrieved from an almanac.  
25.  People actually watch baseball’s All Star game.

Posted on: July 13, 2009 2:17 pm
 

Tim Lincecum Named All Star Starter

The Diamondbacks have let down Haren once again this season.  Due to the consistency in which they have blown games or not provided run support Dan Haren has an unimpressive record of 9-5.  It was not enough to compete with Tim Lincecum’s 10-2. 

 

Haren, as expected, was not named as the starter for the 2009 All Star game, but rather Tim Lincecum from the NL Wild Card leading Giants.  Tim Lincecum is a great pitcher, in fact probably the second best pitcher in baseball behind Haren, but he would not have got the nod had Haren been on a lot of other teams.

 

Lincecum has great stats this season; they just aren’t as good as Haren’s.  Dan Haren leads MLB, not just the NL, in ERA, WHIP, and K/BB ratio (among starters).  His batting average against is .189, Lincecum’s is .215, and he leads Lincecum in every other major statistic besides wins and strikeouts.     

 

Whether it was due to the wins, the teams overall records, or just the fact that the Giants are a more popular team than the Diamondbacks remains to be seen.  It was probably a combination of all those things.  Hopefully these same things are less of a factor when it comes to the Cy Young voting. 

Posted on: July 10, 2009 10:57 am
 

The Worst Loss in Diamondbacks History...for now

Last night the Diamondbacks suffered the worst loss in their history, and once again the eighth inning was the setting for a disastrous display of dysfunction.  The collapse started in the seventh inning where fan favorite Doug Slaten faced 2 batters, gave up two multi base hits, one run, and recorded no outs.  Doug had recorded two outs in the sixth though, and apparently that was enough.  Doug, the bus back to Reno is leaving today at 10.  The Aces have missed you the past three days.

 

Then the eighth inning arrived with emerging fan favorite Juan Gutierrez pitching.  Juan did his job and loaded the bases for the Marlins while not recording an out.  Thankfully Scott Schoeneweis would take the mound to finish what Juan started and allow two of the three base runners to score.

 

From that point it was back to the team that we had been enjoying from April 6 to July 4.  A couple errors, some lazy play by Felipe Lopez that affected the team but won’t show up in the box score, and a bullpen that seems to average 2 runs scored for every one out.   

 

This was a terrible game and the largest blown lead in Diamondback’s history.  I don’t know what is more aggravating, the game or the post game press conference with manager and Up With People member AJ Hinch, who reminded everyone to focus on the past five games rather than this little hiccup.  "I just don't want to make too much out of this. Not that we can brush it off as a non-factor, but if you look at the perspective of the last two series and the first half of this game, there are a lot of positives to take from it."

 

What?

 

You just suffered the worst loss in the history of the Diamondbacks and that is what you have to say?  Put your cocoa down for a minute and get angry.  Show some passion; make us believe that you actually think this kind of loss is unacceptable, make us think that you’re going to go in the locker room and light a fire under these guys.  The players will only play as hard as you make them, and you making comments like this night after night allows them to become complacent with half hearted efforts and devastating losses.

 

The team just had one of the worst attendances for a game in their history earlier in the week with about 17,500.  This type of play and attitude will pretty much ensure that those numbers continue, and there is half a season left. 

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 9, 2009 2:08 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2009 6:15 pm
 

Time to Pick Up the Option on Brandon Webb

The Diamondbacks have not had the greatest track record when it comes to offering contracts to players; see Eric Byrnes, Chris Young, and Russ Ortiz.  Throughout the 2008 season there was talk off and on regarding Diamondback ace Brandon Webb’s contract extension.  It appeared that they had reached an agreement when the team’s insurance company balked due to Webb failing to meet their medical standards.

Now Webb is in limbo.  He’s been out all season, he’s just found out that he won’t need surgery last week, and he doesn’t know if he will pitch this season or for who he will pitch for next season, if he is able to pitch at all.  He’s made comments to the effect that he wants to pitch this season to show some team that he can still play, and reading those comments it can be inferred that he may be nervous about his future.

The Diamondbacks hold Webb’s contract option for 2010.  They can either buy him out for $2 million or pick up the option for $8.5 million.  The team owes it to Webb to pick up his option immediately if for nothing more than to give him the security that he will have a job next season.  Webb has either won or came in second in the Cy Young voting the past three years.  He started his career here and has never complained about his contract publicly despite peers like AJ Burnett signing contracts valued over twice what he was being paid.  The Diamondbacks have had a bargain with Webb the past few years.

There is little risk in picking up his option.  It is a six million dollar difference and it’s unlikely that they would be able to pick up anything more than a number four starter for that amount anyway.  The worst case scenario is that Webb pitches poorly and the team is out six million dollars.  But how much worse could Webb be than the average number four starter?

The best case scenario is that Webb comes back in full force, pitches like he used to, and the Diamondbacks now have their A and 1A pitching duo back.  Then they can look at offering Webb an extension, and if they decide they can’t afford it they will certainly be able to get a fair amount in return for trading him. 

The team just gave a three year contract to an unproven manager; the least they can do is pick up a one year option on a pitcher who has brought so much success to the organization.

Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com