Results tagged ‘ San Francisco Giants ’
Should you take Justin Verlander, David Price, or Felix Hernandez as the first pitcher in your fantasy league? Well, the Mariners haven’t helped King Felix win many games due to their inability to score runs, Tampa Bay has a pretty pathetic offense, and Verlander has Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder to back him up. While Verlander, Price, and Hernandez will post similar ERA, WHIP, and strikeout totals, Verlander will tend to get the nod due to the added wins.
In 2012, Cliff Lee was 6-9 over 30 starts and 211 innings. He didn’t win his first game until July 4, his 14th start, after winning 17 games in 2011. Lee has already won two games in 2013, something that he couldn’t say he did last season until July 31 last year.
This year, the name is Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg has lost four games already in 2013. In 2012, he didn’t lose his fourth game until July 6. While wins are quite overrated in the statistical world, when a pitcher isn’t getting them, those who follow the sport feel like they may be doing something wrong.
Is Strasburg doing anything wrong?
Over his career, Strasburg has won 67.7 percent of his decisions while posting a no-decision percentage of 31.2 percent. Nearly one-third of his starts have led to no-decisions, so in a given year, based on his first 45 starts of his career and 33 stars in a 162-game season, Strasburg would average a 15-7 record, a 2.93 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP, and a 4.67 K:BB. This season, Strasburg’s 3.16 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and a 3.5 K:BB.
While Strasburg’s walks seem to be up a bit, his peripheral statistics show that there isn’t much that he can be held accountable for. His xFIP is up to 3.86 (his career xFIP is 2.68), so there may be something there, but most of the blame can be attributed to the bats when he starts. Only Kevin Slowey (0.75) and Joe Saunders (1.20) have lower run support than Strasburg (1.40) this season. At 1-4, Strasburg is a fantastic buy-low option in fantasy leagues for anyone unintelligent enough to trade him right now for this reason.
Jeff Samardzija (3.03 ERA vs. 2.00 RS)
Trevor Cahill (3.60 ERA vs. 2.00 RS)
Madison Bumgarner (1.87 ERA vs. 2.60 RS)
Clayton Kershaw (2.14 ERA vs. 2.80 RS)
With the season underway and some fans already looking forward to next year, even this early, it is a good time to look down on the farms for some names that you should get to know. Everyone knows who Wil Myers, Dylan Bundy, and Oscar Taveras are at this point, so these are players performing at elite levels who may not be household names…yet.
The California League used to be where pitching prospects went to die, but elite arms have been challenged there, while others (like Taijuan Walker of the Seattle Mariners) continue to skip the High-A level to keep their confidence. In 2010, Tyler Skaggs posted a 3.22 ERA with a 125:34 K:BB in 100.2 innings in the Cal League, and in 2012, Tony Cingrani posted a 1.11 ERA with a 71:13 K:BB in 56.2 innings. This season, Blackburn appears to be the class of the league. A solid strikeout rate, excellent control, and he seems very hard to hit. The same things could be said for him after his impressive season in the Sally League in 2012, and at 20 years of age, Blackburn looks like he will maintain this type of production throughout his development. At 6’3″, 220 pounds, he has a very good frame to become a valuable piece to the San Francisco Giants in the next few years. It wouldn’t be too far fetched to see Blackburn in Double-A after the All-Star break, possibly sooner, if he continues to dominate the opposition.
While Miguel Sano attracks a lot of attention, and deservedly so, the Twins have another power hitting player in Fort Myers this season. Eddie Rosario is officially a second baseman now, which should make dynasty league fantasy players salivate. Solid speed, gap power, and still growing frame create an intriguing blend of skills that the Twins should be ecstatic about. While he managed 21 home runs in the Appalachian League at the age of 19, he looks like more of a 30+ doubles and 15-20 home run type of player, which would make him an All-Star at second. Others will clamor for Sano, but Rosario is overlooked at times and could be a special player in his own right.
Victor Payano, LHP, Texas Rangers
If you read the Baseball America Hot Sheet, you’d know that Payano was ranked in the Helium Watch on the 4/19 version of the site’s weekly list. I’m buying. While Payano struggled in his start last night (1.2 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 5 ER, 0 K), the 6’5″, 185 pound 20-year-old has a fastball that has been clocked in the mid-90′s. While the Rangers minor league system is top heavy with Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt in Triple-A Round Rock, they need an arm to hit after waiting several years while Martin Perez plateaued. Payano is a guy with improving overall statistics who could be on his way to an outstanding season. The Carolina League is known to be tough on hitters, so this is the perfect spot for Payano to increase his standing within the prospect world.
Rafael Montero, RHP, New York Mets
The Mets have sat on scrub pitchers like John Maine, Jeremy Hefner, and Mike Pelfrey over the years, losing on free agent gambles and trades (I’m looking at you, Johan Santana), while watching groups of pitching prospects (Isringhausen, Pulsipher, and Wilson) bomb. Now, Matt Harvey has become an instant ace and the club is waiting for Zack Wheeler to figure out how to throw strikes again. In the meantime, feast your eyes on this beauty. Montero was ranked as the No.8 prospect in the Mets system by MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and No.5 by Baseball America. His career K:BB rate is absolutely staggering for a young arm, but it is the WHIP that should strike you, as he seems to dominate wherever he goes. Late last season, his K/9 finally went over 9.0 in his stint in High-A and he has maintained the strikeouts while moving up to Double-A. He could become useful to the Mets in 2013 if they continue to miss out on production from their current rotation and pitching in Citi Field will only help his ability to baffle his opponents.
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Can you say “TRADE BAIT”? I knew you could. With Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, and Andre Ethier signed to long-term contracts, there won’t be anywhere for Pederson to play in Los Angeles. It’s a shame, too, because he has the potential to become a very useful player when he reaches the bigs. With a solid approach at the plate, speed, and power, he could be an excellent asset for the bottomless pit of payroll that the Dodgers could take on through a trade this season. Pederson and Yasiel Puig are two of the most exciting bats in the entire minor leagues right now and they and neither of them have a role in L.A. unless the Dodgers are able to deal Andre Ethier and his bad contract (opinion or fact?). I cut him in my dynasty league because he was blocked by so many other players, especially with Puig’s amazing spring, but I’ve come to regret it already.
Like Pederson, another player who seems to be blocked. Between Starlin Castro and super-prospect Javier Baez coming up behind him, Alcantara could find himself being moved to second or the outfield, but he should be able to stick with the Cubs organization. Like most Cubs prospects, Alcantara is a free-swinger, but he has already increased his walk rate this season from 5.3 percent in 2012 to 11.4 percent this season. While the season is still young and he could fall back to his career norms, it is also nice to see that Alcantara has four home runs in the early going. With a lot of top-notch talent coming up around him, Alcantara is someone to monitor to figure out just where he’ll end up.
“In Atlanta I Trust”. The Braves are still amazing arm producers, so when you see a big lefty with a mid-90′s fastball in the Atlanta system who has posted the kinds of numbers that Wood has in his first 74.2 professional innings, you have to take notice. Ranked as the No.6 prospect in the Braves system by MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, Wood team’s with the No.3 rated J.R. Graham for Double-A Mississippi right now to form a devastating duo for the Braves. Julio Teheran has been a roller coaster after an excellent spring and Brandon Beachy will be back from Tommy John surgery in June, so the Braves can have some patience with Wood and Graham, but if Wood continues to keep runners off of base, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get moved to the bullpen with the recent Jonny Venters injury.
- Dylan Bundy to have elbow examined by Dr. James Andrews (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- CSN: Bundy to see Andrews about tight elbow (csnbaltimore.com)
- Is the time right for Oscar Taveras? (stltoday.com)
It is still early in the baseball season, but with about a week and a half gone since opening night, we’ve seen a near perfect game for Yu Darvish and plentiful RBI for Chris Davis. While Darvish was expected to take another step towards stardom this season, Davis’ production is still quite a surprise to some, though power has always been a part of his game.
10 Days in, what are the biggest surprises of the 2013 season?
Carl Crawford, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: .458/.519/.542, 2 2B, 2 SB
Crawford isn’t necessarily setting the world on fire, but the fact that he has played in all seven games for the Dodgers is shocking, considering his availability for opening day was in question since he didn’t make his Cactus League debut until March 23. While he has just two extra-base hits out of his 11 total hits, the fact that Crawford is running (though he’s just 2 for 4 on stolen base attempts), and productive in a loaded lineup are reasons enough to begin to wonder if he can return to his glory days of Tampa, rather than the disappointment that he had been in Boston. If Crawford stays productive around Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez, the Dodgers will get out of the NL West basement rather quickly.
John Buck, C, New York Mets: .393/.387/.859, 4 HR, 14 RBI
After watching Ike Davis tear apart pitching in the second half, you may have expected him to be the leader of the New York Mets this season; however, it’s the guy who was supposed to just be keeping a roster spot warm for Travis d’Arnaud, the slugging catching prospect that the Mets acquired from Toronto in the R.A. Dickey deal, John Buck. Buck has been mashing to this point, ranking second in the majors in RBI (behind Chris Davis) and tied for second in home runs. With the Miami Marlins around, the Mets should feel comfortable about not finishing last in their division, but Buck has led the Mets patchwork pitching staff, dominated by Matt Harvey‘s emergence as an ace, to a solid start.
Jean Segura, SS, Milwaukee Brewers: .458/.500/.750, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI
It’s too bad that Segura exhausted his rookie eligibility last year, otherwise, he’d be leading the pack in the early stages of the season for the title of NL Rookie of the Year. Segura had 151 at-bats last season (166 plate appearances), but he looks like he learned a little after hitting just .258/.315/.325 in 2012. The 23-year-old shortstop has a very interesting tool-set, with solid gap power and speed, which will allow for solid run production in a lineup with a healthy Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, and Ryan Braun…the only problem is that getting all four of those guys on the field at the same time may be harder than finding a needle in a haystack.
Matt Harvey, SP, New York Mets: 2-0, 0.64 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, .093 BAA, 14 IP, 19:4 K:BB
I mentioned Harvey under Buck, but it is worth noting again…he has been nothing short of dominant. He’s allowed just 8 baserunners over two starts, and the strikeouts limit the scoring opportunities, as well. Harvey had a 2.73 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and a 70:26 K:BB in 59.1 innings last season. Like Segura, just missing rookie eligibility in 2013, but a dynamic starting pitcher for a team desperate for pitching in the Mets.
Jeff Samardzija, SP, Chicago Cubs: 1-1, 2.63 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, .125 BAA, 13.2 IP, 22:5 K:BB
The former Notre Dame wideout is leading the majors in strikeouts early in the season and appears to be heading towards super-stardom ..which is why I traded him for next to nothing in my dynasty league this offseason. He has a lousy team around him but the 28-year-old has some help on the way, and the Cubs have him under team control through 2015. While he may not win many games, his peripheral statistics could make him look a lot like Felix Hernandez in fantasy formats.
Ryan Hanigan, C, Cincinnati Reds: .043/.148/.043, 1 for 23, 2 RBI
The Cincinnati Reds are playing their 9th game of the season and Devin Mesoraco is making his second start of the season. As most people would like to do, you can blame Dusty Baker for his inability to find value in young talent, unless, of course, it is a pitcher whose career he can ruin. Mesoraco is a sinner for going 0 for 4 in his only start, drawing a walk in the Reds 7-6 extra-inning loss to the Washington Nationals. Apparently, he may only start in day games following a night game, which should be great for the 24-year-old’s development. Ryan Hanigan, meanwhile, will continue to get the at-bats, and the Reds have to hope that batting 8th in the order doesn’t allow clubs to assume that there are two easy outs every time through the lineup.
Halladay (0-2, 14.73 ERA, 2.45 WHIP) and Hamels (0-2, 10.97 ERA, 1.97 WHIP) have posted ugly numbers to this point. Halladay’s shoulder issues from last season and his drop in velocity, along with Hamels’ shoulder soreness early in his offseason throwing progr am could be to blame for their struggles. Certainly, the Phillies have to be concerned, especially after dealing Vance Worley and Trevor May to Minnesota for Ben Revere, eliminating their ready or near-ready young pitching to replace Shane Victorino, who left for Boston this winter via free agency. Both starting pitchers earn substantial amounts this season (Halladay makes $20 million and Hamels makes $19.5 million), so a turnaround would be necessary for Philadelphia fans to not want to ring the Liberty Bell with Ruben Amaro, Jr.’s skull.
Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants: .091/.130/.136, 2 for 22, 1 R, 1 2B
After Belt hit .293/.362/.423 in the second half of 2012 and .410/.432/.833 this spring, the Giants had to be hoping that they had developed a solid, middle-of-the-order addition to pair with Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval. Things haven’t gone as planned for Belt to this point; however, he has been dealing with some neck issues. The defending champions will hope that he gets that under control, as well as the skills that he showcased over the last couple of months during spring training.
Jason Heyward and B.J. Upton, OF, Atlanta Braves: 5 for 53 (.094), 2 HR, 3 RBI, 7 R, 19:7 K:BB
Heyward (.083/.267/.208) and Upton (.103/.212/.207) have combined for some pretty useless numbers. The Braves are 7-1 going into Wednesday’s game despite the lack of production from two of their stars. Needless to say, Upton’s pricey contract came with big expectations. We’ll see if his big payday after leaving Tampa isn’t going to take the same trip that Carl Crawford endured in Boston.
Carlos Marmol, RP, Chicago Cubs: 12.27 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, .444 BAA, 1-1, 1 for 2 in save opportunities
Considering the short leash that the Cubs had on Marmol, you have to wonder if it was even worth giving him a chance to prove himself or build trade value when there was a 70-30 chance that he was going to implode. And…implode he did. Kyuji Fujikawa has already replaced Marmol as the Cubs’ closer, and his 8.10 ERA is solid since he is 2 for 2 in save opportunities. It’s a process, Cubs fans, and you should be used to that by now.
Brett Myers, SP, Cleveland Indians: 0-1, 12.19 ERA, 1.94 WHIP, 7 HR allowed, 10.1 IP, 4:2 K:BB
When the Indians signed Myers, they wanted him to be a solid innings eating starting pitcher, allowing them to slide him into the No.3 spot in the rotation behind Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez. Myers was to provide solid depth due to Masterson and Jimenez lacking in their ability to throw strikes, resulting in high pitch counts and short outings. However, Myers was a risk since he had pitched out of the bullpen for the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox the last two seasons, and while he had transitioned from starter to relief and back to starter before in his career, guaranteeing Myers $7 million to do that again could leave Indians fans scalping themselves every fifth day. Myers has allowed SEVEN home runs in 10.1 innings, or about six every 9 innings. Some batting practice pitchers don’t average that stat. Myers is either hurt or should retire, but there isn’t any in between on those choices, and a neck injury from watching home runs could be to blame.
Well, after finding a groove as a relief pitcher in the playoffs last year, the Giants gave “The Freak” another chance in a starting role this season. He has only allowed a .175 average in his two starts, and if he wasn’t shutting down those that do hit the ball, he’d have an ERA right around Halladay’s. The free passes need to stop if Lincecum is going to re-establish himself as a valuable pitcher, and he needs to do that if he hopes to score a big contract as a free agent this winter.
I did this last year and it was interesting, as they were mostly useless guesses as opposed to valuable predictions. However, with days until real games begin, I figured that I would join in the fun of putting this out there so that we can all look back and see just how wrong I was when October rolls around. Let the incorrectness begin!
AL East Champion
I’m buying the upgrades to the Jays roster. A great improvement to the pitching staff, and just in time to pounce on an AL East division where the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox don’t look like major factors. While the Rays and Orioles look to maintain success without a huge payroll increase, the Jays will utilize their awesome blend of speed, power, and rotation depth to take the crown in the East.
AL Central Champion
Like the Jays, the Tigers will impress with their strong rotation, and while the club plays scetchy, at best, defense, the presence of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera is enough to make them strong contenders in a weak, yet improving, AL Central. The signing of Torii Hunter and the return of Victor Martinez will only improve the offense, while the club will hope that Austin Jackson continues his tremendous improvement and that Andy Dirks can hold down left until Nick Castellanos or Avisail Garcia prove themselves ready. The bullpen issues are something to be concerned about, but someone out of Bruce Rondon, Phil Coke, and Joaquin Benoit will step up.
AL West Champion
How do you improve a lineup that had Albert Pujols and Mike Trout in it a season ago? Well, by signing Josh Hamilton, of course! The Angels could be the best offensive team in baseball, but they’ll need to be, after seemingly taking the “we-will-outscore-your-team-because-we-don’t-have-pitching” way of building a roster. After losing out of Zack Greinke, the club traded for Tommy “my shoulder is gonna rip off of my body at any moment” Hanson, signing Joe Blanton, and trading for Jason Vargas, who could benefit from continuing his career in another pitcher-friendly ballpark. The Halos have enough offense to overcome their pitching shortcomings, though, and could easily manage to score about 6-8 runs per game.
AL Wild Cards
Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays
The Rangers may have lost Josh Hamilton, but they still have a dynamic offense, led by Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre. While it is highly unlikely that Lance Berkman can truly fill the shoes of Hamilton, he is just a season removed from revitalizing his career in St. Louis. Can he do it again? Well, if he can’t, the club will need more from their rotation, which is solid, but not nearly a lock to be great as others in the AL. Yu Darvish is the anchor, but with Matt Harrison‘s low strikeout rates, one has to wonder if he can maintain the 32 wins and 3.34 ERA that he has put up the last two seasons. Derek Holland needs to bounce back, as well, if Texas is to be taken seriously. If they don’t get the right breaks, this could easily be the Oakland Athletics, once again.
The Rays gambled on cashing in two seasons of James Shields for more young talent, acquiring a great haul from the Royals. While the rotation will miss the strength and innings that Shields brought, David Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, and Alex Cobb will be solid, while Roberto Hernandez and Jeff Niemann fight over the No.5 spot. The Rays have to get some production from Desmond Jennings and Yunel Escobar up the middle, while hoping that Evan Longoria stays healthy until Wil Myers can get called up. They need power in the lineup and on Opening Day, Longoria and Ben Zobrist seem like their only hope. Pitching and defense has worked for the last several years, and it will again in 2013.
Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
While everyone will focus on the huge trades that brought the club Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey, and others, Bautista will be the spark plug to the offense due to his tremendous power and ability to get on base. With his wrist fully recovered and a dynamic lineup around him, opposing clubs will be forced to pitch to the slugger, which will result is a season that should resemble his 2010 and 2011 seasons, with overwhelming power and run producing statistics.
AL Cy Young
Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit Tigers
To say that Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball would be an understatement. He turned 30 years old in February and since 2008, he has gone 89-48 with a 3.28 ERA over 1,154.2 innings, and while those numbers have been outmatched by only CC Sabathia in the American League (91-39 with a 3.11 ERA), Verlander seems to have a pretty tight grip on the best pitcher in MLB title for the moment. While Yu Darvish and David Price begin to catch up to him, Verlander will hold control it for another season, with another 20-win season and an ERA under 3.00 for the Tigers.
AL Manager of the Year
Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians
While he actually has very little to do with the drastic changes that the Indians have undergone this offseason (that honor belongs to GM Chris Antonetti), Terry Francona will get a lot of credit for the Indians posting their first winning season since their 2007 ALCS appearance. Manny Acta never seemed capable of keeping successful starts going over the 162-game season, but Francona’s resume proves that he is capable of that, regardless of the 2011 Boston Red Sox collapse. While the Tribe won’t make the playoffs, they will be very competitive and, possibly, be a nuisance to the Tigers in the AL Central for most of the season. For that, Francona will deserve the honor for making a Cleveland sports franchise matter again.
AL Rookie of the Year
Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
He won’t start the season with the major league club, but Myers will be up in June, once the Rays can guarantee that he won’t gain Super Two arbitration eligibility, taking over the left field job from Matt Joyce, while manning right field when Ben Zobrist goes to second or short. Myers exploded in the minors last season, hitting an absurd .314/.387/.600 with 37 home runs between the Royals’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates. While he could work on his contact rate (he struck out 140 times in 522 at-bats), Myers is a much needed offensive force for the Rays, who need someone besides Evan Longoria and Zobrist to produce consistently. Expect a .260/.320/.460 line with nearly 20 home runs if Myers gets the call in June, which should be good enough to win the AL ROY with Jurickson Profar waiting for a shot in Triple-A for the Rangers and so few players getting an opportunity early in the 2013 season.
NL East Champion
Bryce Harper will be better than he was in 2012 and Stephen Strasburg won’t have an innings limit. Really, this is all that you need to know, but with the addition of a leadoff hitter in Denard Span and another fantastic arm in Rafael Soriano to add to Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, the Nationals are about as good as it gets in MLB for a lock to go to the playoffs. Add in Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Ryan Zimmerman, and Adam LaRoche, and you have a team capable of winning 95-100 games. Yes…they’re that good.
NL Central Champion
What do you get when you take an outstanding team without a leadoff hitter and you add a guy with a lifetime .386 on-base percentage in that spot? You get a team with a very bad defensive outfield that plays in a hitters paradise and the 2013 version of the Cincinnati Reds. Shin-Soo Choo could be a liability in center, but his offensive skills fit perfectly into the Reds lineup. Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto will need some help from Choo and Ryan Ludwick, but with a very good starting rotation and great depth in the bullpen with the move of Aroldis Chapman back to closer, the Reds will battle the Nationals for the best record in MLB in 2013.
NL West Champion
Los Angeles Dodgers
Like the Dodgers, I’m buying. The addition of Zack Greinke was huge, but the trade with the Boston Red Sox that brought Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez, along with their massive contracts, to the Dodgers will begin paying dividends this season. While the Hanley Ramirez thumb injury is a slight issue to start the season, Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw are the right kind of awesome to overcome any issues like that. The Dodgers have great pitching depth, unless they make a trade in the next few days, to overcome any further arm issues for Chad Billingsley, and their bullpen is lights out, with flame-thrower Kenley Jansen sharing end-game duties with Brandon League…until Don Mattingley sees what everyone else does and puts Jansen there full-time. This team is dangerous if they stay healthy. The pitching is deep, but an injury to Crawford, Kemp, or Andre Ethier will cost them the division to the San Francisco Giants.
NL Wild Cards
Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals
The Atlanta Braves have an incredible roster. If Chipper Jones had hung around one more season, they may have had a chance at another World Series title for the old man. Unfortunately, Jones finally retired and third could be the clubs only weak spot, as Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson will share the job in 2013. The addition of B.J. Upton and Justin Upton will make the offense even more dangerous, as Jason Heyward continues to become one of the best players in baseball. Freddie Freeman got his eye issues worked out, so he will also improve in 2013, while the club will rely on a deep rotation, that will only get better when Brandon Beachy returns in June or July. By then, the Braves could have a very difficult choice, especially after seeing Julio Teheran thrive this spring, as someone will have to be removed from the rotation if the club is healthy. As far as the bullpen goes, one name is all you need: Craig Kimbrel.
The Cardinals continue to stick around and be contenders, even after losing Albert Pujols a season ago and, potentially, losing Chris Carpenter for the entire 2013 season. Adam Wainwright should re-establish himself as an ace this season, while Allen Craig will show that he is an MVP-caliber player if he would just stay healthy. Speaking of health, could fantasy baseball nerds be any more excited for the first of Carlos Beltran‘s injuries in 2013? If you don’t know why, you need to look up super-prospect Oscar Taveras. The Cards seem to have an endless supply of young arms, as well, as Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Michael Wacha, and Carlos Martinez arrive and establish themselves in the majors.
Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
Votto will do one of two things: 1) Post an on-base percentage approaching .500 (.474 in 2012) while never seeing a pitch worth hitting, or 2) Post numbers close to his 2010 MVP season (.324/.424/.600, 37 home runs) while earning his 2nd MVP. The Reds are going to have Votto hitting No.3 again, and with Shin-Soo Choo and Brandon Phillips hitting in front of him, Votto will easily exceed his career-high 113 RBI this season. With his knee healthy and a tremendous lineup and hitter’s paradise as a home ballpark, Joey Votto will win the NL MVP in 2013.
NL Cy Young
Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
You can take Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw, while I go off the board (or rocker) to choose Madison Bumgarner for NL Cy Young. After tiring at the end of the 2012 season, Bumgarner knows that he has a lot to prove. Add on the fact that his WHIP fell from 1.21 in 2011 to 1.11 in 2012, and you can see that the 23-year-old left-hander can not only miss bats (191 K’s in each of the last two seasons), but he isn’t allowing many hits or walks. With a pitcher-friendly ballpark and loads of expectations on him due to his fall-off late last season, Bumgarner will show that he shouldn’t be overlooked due to Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum being on the same roster.
NL Manager of the Year
Bud Black, San Diego Padres
There isn’t a whole lot to like about the Padres roster. They don’t have a superstar on the front of a video game, they don’t have a player that shows up to the MLB Fan Cave with an infamous twitter account, but they have an interesting team and a better manager. Bud Black can get a lot out of the club that he has. While the team will continue to struggle to score runs, at times, Chase Headley could provide enough power to get runs in bunches, and Yonder Alonso could thrive with the fences being moved in at Petco. Solid speed and gap power throughout the lineup will make the Padres a surprise team in 2013, and while the rotation is more patchwork than well thought out, the bullpen is tremendous, as it always seems to be. If the Friars can get anything out of Andrew Cashner, Clayton Richard, and Eric Stults, they’ll be a team capable of 82-85 wins, which isn’t playoff worthy, but worth giving Bud Black an award for.
NL Rookie of the Year
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
You don’t get called a left-handed version of Vladimir Guerrero and get overlooked, and Taveras is that special of a talent. Like I mentioned above, once Carlos Beltran gets hurt (as in it IS going to happen), Taveras would, more than likely, get the call. Not only a Beltran injury, but an under performing Jon Jay could even be replaced by the super-prospect, as Taveras played 93 games in center for the Cards Double-A affiliate in 2012. Taveras will get enough at-bats to be valuable and he could do that as a fourth outfielder once June rolls around, but once he is in St. Louis, he won’t be leaving town for several years. A pure hitter in every sense of the label.
World Series Prediction
Washington Nationals defeat Los Angeles Angels, 4-2
Random, Bold Predictions
There is no rhyme or reason here, just as the title says:
- Bryce Harper will hit over 30 home runs in 2013, while posting an OPS near .940.
- Mike Trout won’t hit 30 home runs again, but he will steal 50 bases.
- Jose Reyes will stay healthy, even while playing on turf, and terrorize the AL East while stealing over 50 bases.
- Ike Davis will hit over 40 home runs after hitting 32 in 2012 while hitting just .227.
- Mat Latos will become the ace of the Cincinnati Reds, posting better overall numbers than Johnny Cueto and winning 20 games in 2013.
- Mike Minor proves that his second half from 2012 (6-4, 2.16 ERA, 0.87 WHIP over 87.1 IP) wasn’ a fluke, as he becomes the Braves best starting pitcher in 2013.
- Jordan Zimmerman has a more impressive 2013 season than Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez and he will no longer be overlooked in a fantastic Washington rotation.
- Brandon Belt continues hitting like he has all spring, ripping 25 home runs after having a power outage in the earlier stages of his career (16 in 598 at-bats).
- Troy Tulowitzki stays healthy and benefits from Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler having All Star seasons to hit 40 home runs, making all of those fantasy baseball players that took him in the first round feel like the smartest men alive.
- Allen Craig becomes an All Star and hits over .300 with 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI.
- Carlos Santana hits 30+ home runs and will have the kind of hype that Buster Posey has right now during the 2013-2014 offseason.
- Jason Heyward finishes 2nd in NL MVP voting to Joey Votto, posting his first 30 HR/30 SB season for Atlanta.
- Domonic Brown keeps the Phillies left field job all season and posts a .270/.380/.450 line with solid production across the board. Philly fans hit Ruben Amaro, Jr. with batteries for not trusting in him sooner.
- Zack Greinke can’t handle the Los Angeles pressure and spotlight and misses time due to his anxiety disorder.
- Chris Sale pitches 200 innings and proves doubters about his bony frame and drastic innings increase in 2012 wrong.
- Drew Stubbs (remember him?) hits 20 home runs and steals 50 bases, revitalizing his career.
- Rick Porcello wins 17 games with a 3.20 ERA while striking out 180 batters…all because he began using his four-seam fastball for the first time in his career.
These guys are about to go bonkers in 2013. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…(obvious names not listed, i.e. Harper, Brown, Braun, Ike Davis)
Alex Cobb, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Matt Moore, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Brett Anderson, LHP, Oakland Athletics
Andrelton Simmons, SS, Atlanta Braves
Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Oakland Athletics
Greg Holland, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals
Chris Parmelee, OF, Minnesota Twins
Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs
Dayan Viciedo, OF, Chicago White Sox
Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals
Michael Saunders, OF, Seattle Mariners
Prospects to Watch
This has nothing to do with the Top 100 Prospects that I put out in December, but you will find some familiar names and others that will be players to keep an eye on, especially if they’re on your favorite team or if you’re in a keeper fantasy baseball league.
Jonathan Schoop, INF, Baltimore Orioles
Dorssys Paulino, INF, Cleveland Indians
J.R. Graham, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals
Yasel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros
Xander Bogaerts, INF, Boston Red Sox
Austin Hedges, C, San Diego Padres
Joey Gallo, INF, Texas Rangers
Baseball nerds are looking at all kinds of statistics that weren’t listed on the back of a baseball card when we were growing up. With the newer FIP, BABIP, and WAR statistics that have become a part of analysis of player abilities, it seems to be easier to project rebound candidates, potential breakouts, or potential flops based on these newer, sabermetric-based statistics. After looking at pitchers, lets take at look at some hitters:
BABIP Winners and Losers for 2013
Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) is an interesting statistic. FanGraphs.com has some really useful information on BABIP in their glossary and Tristan H. Cockcroft (awesome name, bro) had an interesting piece on how to use BABIP when putting your fantasy team together. Both discuss variables in how the statistic can be flawed, as Fangraphs focused on defense, luck, and talent level, while Cockcroft focused on “raw hitting skills, raw pitching skills, type of contact, and quality of contact.”
Regardless of those variables, the fact remains that, as Cockcroft says, the league average in 2012 was .297, while Fangraphs goes further, stating:
The average BABIP for hitters is around .290 to .310. If you see any player that deviates from this average to an extreme, they’re likely due for regression.
However, hitters can influence their BABIPs to some extent. For example, speedy hitters typically have high career BABIP rates (like Ichiro and his .357 career BABIP), so don’t expect all players to regress to league average.
For the purpose of this piece, however, the extreme deviations from normal are taken into consideration.
Hitters to Target
Ike Davis, 1B, New York Mets: If you search this site, you’ll see that I have a bit of a man crush on Davis. In 2012, Davis managed to hit .227/3.08/.462 with 32 home runs and 90 RBI, all while posting a BABIP of just .246. The .271/.369/.460 line, 26 home runs, and 41 doubles over his first 750 plate appearances shows that Davis is quite capable of becoming an offensive force. The regression in batting average can be related to the Valley Fever that sapped his energy in spring training of last season, but with an increase in BABIP, Davis could become a .270 hitter with 35-40 home runs, even while playing half of his games at Citi Field for the Mets. Davis will turn 26 in late March and is well on his way to a huge rebound or breakout in 2013.
Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals: Sophomore slump…yeah right. Hosmer hit .232/.304/.359 with 14 home runs in 2012, while posting a .255 BABIP. He increased his walk rate from 6 percent in his rookies season to 9.4 percent last year, while maintaining a line drive percent (18.7 percent in 2011, 18.5 percent in 2012). It just seems like the ground ball percentage, which jumped from 49.7 to 53.6 percent, played a role in his huge decrease in BABIP, which was at .314 in 2011. Hosmer will play the entire 2013 season at the age of 23. With great plate discipline and tremendous athleticism, he is a tremendous name to grab in hopes of a potential All-Star campaign. His early spring results (.391/.462/.696) could be an indication of such a breakout, as Hosmer heads off to take Mark Teixiera’s place on Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Jemile Weeks, 2B, Oakland Athletics: Weeks is an interesting player, having thrived in 2011, much like Hosmer, posting a .303/.340/.421 line, before crashing to a .221/.305/.304 line last season. Weeks has tremendous speed, but he has been thrown out stealing 16 times in 54 attempts, a 70 percent success rate, which has been about the norm throughout his career, as he was 41 for 55 (74 percent) in the minors. Weeks had nine infield hits in 2011 but just eight in 2012 in 74 more plate appearances, while his BABIP fell from .350 in 2011 to .256 last season. With a drastic increase in his walk rate (from 4.8 percent in 2011 to 9.8 percent in 2012) and the potential for a rebound in his BABIP to even .290, Weeks would see a solid increase in overall production. However, the Athletics have reloaded their roster, trading for Jed Lowrie, signing Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, while welcoming back Scott Sizemore from injury. With so many options, Weeks needs to start quickly. If he can find a way to use the speed that he has with the ability to utilize slap the ball all over the field, as he did in 2011, Weeks will be valuable to the A’s and fantasy baseball owners.
Justin Smoak, 1B, Seattle Mariners: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but…this is the year that Justin Smoak breaks out!!! Smoak may be one of the most unlucky hitters in baseball, as his career BABIP is just .256. A career line of .223/.306/.377 in 1,421 plate appearances could say that Smoak is what he is…bad. However, over the last month of the season, Smoak hit .341/.426/.580 with five home runs, 11 RBI, and a 13:13 K:BB in 101 plate appearances. This spring, Smoak is hitting .500/.556/1.000 with two home runs in his first 16 at-bats. After posting another low BABIP in 2012, .242, while seeing his walk and strikeout rates hold to around his career norms. Smoak needs to stay hot after the Mariners added Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez, and Kendrys Morales to the club this winter, each of whom could slide into a DH/1B/LF role, which would limit Smoak’s playing time.
Hitters to Avoid
Dexter Fowler, OF, Colorado Rockies: Fowler turns 27 in late March, the magic number for a prime breakout. In 2012, Fowler posted an absurd .390 BABIP, while compiling a .300/.389/.474 line, 18 doubles, 11 triples, 13 home runs, and 12 stolen bases, the definition of a box score filler. He has always had solid plate discipline, as his 12.8 percent walk rate and .364 career on-base percentage show, so is he for real? Maybe this is just who he is, as he posted a .351 BABIP in 2009, .328 in 2010, and .354 in 2011 before the jump to .390 last season; however, .390 is so unrealistic and “lucky”, isn’t it? Even if Fowler manages to maintain his career .353 BABIP, he’ll see a slight decline in his overall numbers. I’m a big fan of Fowler’s, but expecting him to duplicate his BABIP is unreasonable, though he could add enough power with his on-base skills to be very useful for the Rockies and fantasy geeks alike.
Austin Jackson, OF, Detroit Tigers: Jackson is the poster boy for inflated BABIP and what they can do with inflation and deflation. Check out these statistics:
|162 Game Avg.||644||109||180||31||11||11||56||22||62||178||.280||.346||.416||.761|
In 2010, Jackson’s BABIP was: .396
In 2011, Jackson’s BABIP was: .340
In 2012, Jackson’s BABIP was .371
While Jackson has a career BABIP of .370, if he reverts to his undisciplined, free swinging ways of 2010 and 2011 (when he had strikeout rates of 25.2 and 27.1 percent), he could see a large decline in his overall numbers, similar to the drop-off in 2011. However, with his gains in power (career-high 16 home runs) and his walk rate (10.8 percent), he, too, will still have some value, especially hitting in front of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera.
Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants: Posey was the NL MVP, and with good reason, posting a .336/.408/.549 line in 2012. The only issue could be that batting average, which could have seen a huge bump from Posey’s .368 BABIP. Previously, he had posted BABIPs of .315 in 2010 and .326 in 2011. While Posey does have some speed, will he be a catcher capable of 17 infield hits every season? While he is a very special talent, Posey may not repeat his incredible 2012 totals, especially if Brandon Belt solidifies himself as an everyday first baseman. Will they sit Belt if he is having a breakout season so that Posey can take a day off behind the plate? Posey is still the top catcher available in fantasy leagues and the top offensive catcher in baseball, with the ability to post numbers that only Matt Wieters, Salvador Perez, or Carlos Santana seem capable of reaching, but can he continue to post an extremely high BABIP going forward? For that reason alone, be cautious in putting too much stock into the superstar catcher.
The San Francisco Giants won the NL West, won three straight games in Cincinnati in the NLDS to stave off elimination, then won three in a row to stave off elimination against St. Louis in the NLCS, before having an easy go of things while sweeping the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series. The Giants rode the wave of an amazing fan base (over 3.3 million at AT&T Park in 2012) and even more amazing pitching, developing a group of talented arms to lift them to their second championship in three seasons.
Looking ahead to 2013, the Giants have a few players that they may be concerned about as they reach free agency. Marco Scutaro, Angel Pagan, and Jeremy Affeldt played important roles in the playoffs, while Melky Cabrera (prior to his 50-game suspension) was a superstar and Ryan Theriot provided depth for the middle infield throughout the regular season.
Should the Giants bring back Cabrera, trusting that he can be an All-Star without synthetic testosterone, or should they count on the core that brought the team a title, re-signing Pagan and counting on Gregor Blanco in left in 2013? With Freddy Sanchez and his brittle body reaching free agency, can the Giants afford to let Scutaro, who hit .362/.385/.473 in 61 games with San Francisco, leave town?
While the champions have questions at second base and the outfield, they don’t have many elsewhere on the diamond. Hunter Pence struggled to a .219/.287/.384 line once he was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies, but he is under team control for one more season, he is a solid regular in right field, and his useful right-handed bat will complement the order, allowing Bruce Bochy to have a switch-hitting Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, Pence, and left-handed hitting Brandon Belt in the middle of the order. Belt finally has trust from Bochy, as well, taking over the first base job exclusively from Aubrey Huff and hitting .329/.401/.494 over the final two months of the season. Brandon Crawford showed that his slick glove can overcome his career .235/.299/.333 triple-slash, showcasing his powerful throwing arm and range for a national audience during the playoffs.
Beyond the everyday players, the Giants are absolutely loaded with pitching. Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito, and Tim Lincecum are all signed for next season. Some have wondered what Lincecum’s role will be, especially after he thrived out of the bullpen in October, but he’ll probably get a shot at the rotation before they pay him $22 million to be a relief pitcher in 2013. Speaking of money…Cain, Zito, and Lincecum combine to earn $62 million in 2013, while Vogelsong’s $5 million and Bumgarner’s $750,000 salaries are clearly bargains.
The bullpen is interesting, as well. Brian Wilson (aka “The Beard) is arbitration-eligible, so could he be non-tendered since Sergio Romo showed that he was capable of dominating as a closer in the playoffs and throughout the season? With Santiago Casilla as insurance in the closer role, it could be possible. Affeldt teamed with Javier Lopez as a dominating left-handed duo. If Affeldt is not re-signed, Jose Mijares, who posted a 2.56 ERA over 78 appearances (27 with the Giants), may see a bump in usage.
The San Francisco Giants are set up to be contenders again in 2013. While the team has a need in center or left field, depending on whether they try to re-sign Melky Cabrera or Angel Pagan, their most glaring hole will be the leadership and skills that second baseman Marco Scutaro brought to the club after being acquired from the Colorado Rockies. With a strong pitching staff from top to bottom, and a solid core of offensive talent, led by Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, and Hunter Pence, the Giants can and will continue to get by with very little offensive help from their other pieces. It is all because their rotation can be so dominant, as evidenced by their 71-49 record and 3.73 ERA in 2012.
Look for the Giants to find a way to keep both Scutaro and Pagan, their No.1 and No.2 hitters, and do very little else on the free agent market to keep the core of this talented group together. They really can’t afford to do much else due to the contracts to Zito and Lincecum, but selling out AT&T Park and the revenue that comes along with 3.3 million fans and a title could lead to a surprise signing.
Last night, when Barry Zito singled in the 4th inning off of Justin Verlander, the San Francisco Giants crowd at AT&T Park started chanting “Bar-ry, Bar-ry.” Not a big deal, only…McCarver’s reaction was to say that “that’s a sound that is not heard too often in this park.” Sure…for Barry Zito, but where was Tim McCarver with Barry FREAKIN’ Bonds was playing!?! The crowd did it all the time.
When Joe Buck tried to correct McCarver by saying “they used to say it for someone else around here,” McCarver replies with “Barry Manilow.”
Here is a link to that amazing conversation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VHk65O37y5g
I hope he was drunker than Harry Carey at that moment, but it was just another example of the stupidity that Tim McCarver spews. While people, specifically Frank Caliendo, have made a living ripping apart John Madden, McCarver is just as bad. Some other zingers:
- “I think if you asked that question 30 years ago, it would have brought a different response.”
- “Well one option that Joe Girardi has is to keep Chamberlain in to pitch the next inning. *pause* Oh, I guess they pinch hit for him. Never mind.”
- McCarver: “Take a look at the hitters bat. Now, if that bat is not in fair territory, there is absolutely -no way- he can bunt the ball INTO fair territory”(Hitter proceeds to bunt the ball fairly down the 3rd base line, while his bat was clearly in foul territory)Joe Buck: “That rather dispells the theory of the fair/foul bat approach.”
McCarver: “Yes Joe, it does”
- When describing an increase in home runs: “It has not been proven, but I think ultimately it will be proven that the air is thinner now, there have been climactic changes over the last 50 years in the world, and I think that’s one of the reasons balls are carrying much better now than I remember.”
McCarver was an All-Star in 1966 and 1967, finishing second in the NL MVP race in 1967 to his teammate, Orlando Cepeda. However, in his 21-year career, McCarver was nothing more than average at best, with his best comparison over his career being to Jim Sundberg…You probably have to look him up to realize what he accomplished. McCarver hit .271/.337/.388 in 5,529 at-bats, and while his fielding percentage was better than league average during his career (.990 to .988), his arm left a lot to be desired, throwing out 34 percent would-be base stealers when the league average was 37 percent.
While he won two World Series titles with the Cardinals and appeared in his two All-Star Games, at 71 years of age, McCarver is not capable of relating to the game, the current players, but especially to fans. When you need a good explanation of what happened, he certainly is not going to give it to you.
While Bob Costas and his holier-than-thou approach at sports is the most annoying, and Dick Vitale’s obnoxious at best, Tim McCarver ranks right up there with Chris Berman as the worst announcer ever.
Buster Posey had an MVP-type season in 2012, as I even picked him as the NL MVP for my own 2012 MLB Awards. Posey posted a .336/.408/.549 line, winning his first batting title, leading the majors in OPS+, and, obviously, leading the San Francisco Giants to the 2012 World Series.
Posey played shortstop at Florida State in his Freshman year, 2006, before moving to catcher in his Sophomore season, when he was a finalist for the 2007 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award, given to the top Division I catcher in college baseball. Not a bad start, and the fact that Posey gunned down 40.9 percent of potential base stealers in his first season behind the dish showed his defensive potential.
Posey was drafted by the Giants with the 5th overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft. He was up for good by 2010, having compiled 750 at-bats in the minors, helping the Giants win the World Series and winning the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year.
When Scott Cousins ripped up Posey’s ankle sliding into home plate on May 25, 2011, Posey would go on to miss the next 114 games and the Giants missed the playoffs. They won the World Series in 2010 and they are back there in 2012. Coincidence?
Buster Posey is fully aware of the injuries that can occur when catching, having lived through his disaster in 2011. It isn’t limited to the leg injury, though, as a collision could lead to a concussion, which could then lead to post-concussion syndromes whenever a foul ball rocks Posey’s hockey goalie-style mask. Look at Justin Morneau‘s spiraling career to see how quickly concussions can ruin everything you have worked for.
Buster Posey is a fantastic catcher. His career fielding percentage is .992, which is league average since he arrived in the bigs, but his range factor is above-average at catcher. He has thrown out 33 percent of would-be base stealers in his career (the league average in 27), while mashing to the tune of a .307/.374/.494 triple slash in 877 at-bats and 235 games as a catcher. Posey has 46 doubles, two triples, 38 home runs, and 152 RBI as a catcher.
Posey is a work in progress at first baseman. However, Posey has hit .355/.415/.571 in 217 at-bats and 61 games when playing first base. He has 21 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, and 37 RBI when playing first.
Buster Posey is an excellent catcher and he can handle the position, but can the Giants afford life without him? Should they protect their star player and the face of the Giants’ franchise by moving him now?
The 2011 season shows what the Giants are without Buster Posey. The injury to Posey could, eventually, lead to arthritis in his left knee and ankle due to the breaking of bones and the tear of ligaments.
Hector Sanchez is ready to play regularly. He turns 23 years old on November 17 and he is a switch-hitter. Sanchez jumped from High-A to Triple-A in 2011, receiving 31 at-bats in San Francisco that year. However, Sanchez isn’t going to develop into the hitter that he could be, the same one who hit 12 home runs and drove in 84 runs in the 2011 minor league season, if he doesn’t get regular playing time.
Buster Posey doesn’t need to move off of catcher to make room for Hector Sanchez. Buster Posey needs to move off of catcher to produce even bigger numbers, to win more MVP awards, and to continue to make the Giants World Series contenders for the next several seasons.
Posey could even play catcher sporadically, as Victor Martinez did in 2011 with Alex Avila taking over the regular catching duties in Detroit. You could even make the argument that Posey is better off in the outfield than first base, due to the presence of Brandon Belt, who plays a Gold Glove level defense at first, and the athletic ability that Posey possesses.
Whatever happens, Posey is a superstar and he needs to stay on the field for the San Francisco Giants to be legitimate World Series contenders. Moving him off of catcher is a choice that could keep him on the field, prolong his career, and continue to allow the Giants to reap the benefits of having Posey in their lineup for more games, which allows him to impact the whole 162-game season.
With the Giants Game 7 win on Monday night in San Francisco, the world prepares for its series, with Game 1 on Wednesday night at AT&T Park. The Giants get home-field advantage with that awesome Bud Selig, All-Star Game idea, as the National League won the mid-summer classic in July.
Some things to look forward to:
The Tigers’ starting pitchers are 5-1 with a 1.02 ERA in nine postseason games, covering 62 innings, while posting a 66:19 K:BB. That stat includes the absolute domination of the New York Yankees in the ALCS, where Tigers’ starters were 3-0 with a 0.66 ERA. The Tigers have the luxury of setting up their rotation for Game 1, which would allow them to start Justin Verlander in Game 1, 4, and 7; however, Jim Leyland has penciled in a four-man rotation in the World Series, with Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez, and Max Scherzer slated to toe the rubber for the Tigers.
The Giants taking the St. Louis Cardinals to seven games and losing Matt Cain is sort of devastating for the outlook on the series. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy could surprise people with what he does, especially after moving Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum around from the rotation to the bullpen already within this postseason. If Bochy keeps his NLCS roster, the Giants could start Tim Lincecum in Game 1, followed by Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong, and Cain in Game 4. Due to Lincecum’s struggles in Game 4 of the NLCS, could the “rest” that Bumgarner received allow him to jump back into the rotation, after Bochy said he was “tired” after his Game 1 loss to the Cardinals?
However the Giants rotation shapes up, the spacious ballparks involved in this series will allow for success from the least likely of candidates. The power that lies in the arms of the Tigers’ starting pitchers could make for some high strikeout totals, while the blend of power and finesse in the Giants rotation could lead to some very low scoring games.
Power in the throwing arms is evident but the greatest asset that the Tigers possess are the two bats in the middle of their order, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. Those two are capable of changing the game with one swing, and while the Giants have power in the bats of Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, and Buster Posey, they aren’t nearly as productive, historically and recently, as the portly sluggers on the Tigers.
While Comerica Park and AT&T Park can sap the power in both lineups, both teams have enough on-base and speed guys (see Austin Jackson and Marco Scutaro) to manufacture runs. However, one swing of the bat can change everything, just ask Cincinnati fans, who saw the grand slam by Posey in Game 5 of the NLDS destroy their lives. While the advantage lies with Fielder and Cabrera, the Giants, so long thought to be ineffective offensively, have enough to win this series.
There is nothing better than postseason baseball. Watching the fans in San Francisco the last two nights is what makes baseball special. While they were there for all of the 81 home games in the 2012 regular season, the fire and excitement over the last two nights fueled the Giants to an amazing comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the NLCS.
The Tigers are showing the passion of a city in the middle of a rebirth. While there were times of weakness, the strengths of Detroit came out to conquer those moments, establishing the franchise as a legitimate juggernaut, just as Detroit has done with the rebound of the American car manufacturing companies.
The pitching is going to make the “normal baseball fan” bored, but this series is exactly what the die-hard fans enjoy. The team that makes the first mistake in each game will lose, and the scores will look lower than a Tiger Woods scorecard before his man-whorishness was made public.
What to Expect:
The Giants will enjoy their home-field advantage in Game 1, continuing the momentum that drove them to a tremendous comeback over the Tigers, but due to the opening game loss, Jim Leyland will run Justin Verlander out for Game 4 and again in Game 7, which the Tigers will win with another Verlander shutout. Max Scherzer becomes the Tigers’ version of Trevor Rosenthal, making several appearances but totally shutting down the opposition.
Game 5 of the NLDS series between the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds will take place on Thursday afternoon at 1:07 (if the Oakland A’s beat the Detroit Tigers Wednesday night) or 2:07 (if the Detroit Tigers beat the Oakland A’s on Wednesday night). Kind of confusing for those who hold tickets, but this is what to expect…
Mat Latos is officially starting on Thursday for Cincinnati. Latos came in for Johnny Cueto in Game 1 due to Cueto’s oblique strain, which he suffered after tossing eight pitches. Latos tossed four innings on Saturday night, allowing one earned run (2.25 ERA), but he was not considered for the Game 4 start because: 1) Latos had never pitched on three-days rest, and 2) Latos has been battling the flu.
Matt Cain, the loser of Game 1, will take the ball for the Giants in Game 5. Cain allowed three earned runs over five innings (5.40 ERA) at AT&T Park on Saturday. The Giants were 22-10 in Cain’s 32 starts in 2012, and while Cain managed to go 16-5, he lost back-to-back decisions twice this season.
Dusty Baker will probably go back to Ryan Hanigan behind home plate and Scott Rolen at third, especially after Todd Frazier failed to impress the veteran-loving manager with his 0-for-3, one RBI performance on Wednesday.
Bruce Bochy would be wise to stick with Joaquin Arias at short and Hector Sanchez behind the plate, as their eight-run outburst in Game 4 was a far cry from the team’s performance in the first three games. Arias is 3-for-6 with two doubles and three runs, while Sanchez was 1-for-2 with two walks in Game 4, his first opportunity of the postseason.
After going 12-for-95 (.126) with four runs in the first three games, the Giants were 11-for-33 (.333) on Wednesday.
Cincinnati scored 14 runs in the first two games of the series, but have scored four runs in the last two games, while going 13-for-68 (.191) as a team.
With the potential 10:07 AM PT starting time, you have to consider how San Francisco will function. The Giants were just 32-32 in day games in 2012, while Cincinnati was 39-17.
Cincinnati fans are weary of the potential collapse after waiting nearly 17 years between postseason wins. Their dreams of watching the Reds clinch the series at home will come down to a single game, now.
San Francisco is riding high and has the momentum. Their big night could leave their fans wondering if they saved any offense for Thursday’s deciding game.
Game 5. Thursday afternoon from Great American Ballpark. The MLB postseason at its finest.