Monday, May 31, 2010

Masterson of his own domain

Cleveland's Justin Masterson might be a great candidate for a bounce back on the pitching side. Masterson is 0-5 with a 5.87 ERA, but those numbers don't reflect his performance. Masterson is striking out 9.06 per 9 innings (MLB average is 7.07) and has a 62% groundball rate (which is around his career norm).

Given his GB rate, it seems he is the victim of bad luck as his BABIP is .404. His walk rate (4.53 per 9 IP) is a little high, but a 2-to-1 K/BB rate with that GB rate should produce much better results. His GB rate is second best in the bigs and his K/9 rate is 11th. His BABIP is the worst. Of the top 21 in K/9 rate, Masterson is one of only 3 who is stranding fewer than 74% of baserunners, and Masterson's mark is 64.

I wonder if Cleveland's coaches will try to "fix" Masterson because of his ERA. Really, there seems to be nothing to fix other than his luck.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Phils Phlop

If not for Roy Halladay's perfecto, the past week or so would be stinko. The Phils got shut out again today -- the fifth time since beating Boston 5-1 on May 21. That's a span of 8 games. They scored 1 or fewer runs in 8 of their last 12 (and their 1 run last night was unearned). Heading into today, Philly batted .201/.279/.289 in its previous 11 games. They stranded 78 runners.

Slumps are not new for the Phils, but this is breaking new ground. The problems are numerous, but here's what stand out to me.

First, the bench is no good. The OPS+ ratings for the subs are: Ross Gload 73, Wilson Valdez 72, Juan Castro 64, Ben Francisco 51, Greg Dobbs 24 and Brian Schneider 8. With injuries to Jimmy Rollins (OPS+ 187), Carlos Ruiz and Placido Polanco, these players have been called into action too frequently.

Shane Victorino, aside from a 15-game streak in which he got 5 of his 8 HR and 17 of his 33 RBI, has not be productive, batting .257 with a .314 OBP. Entering today, he batted .190 in his previous 11 games with 1 run and 1 RBI. His OPS+ for the season is 101.

Jayson Werth has slumped (but still has an OPS+ of 152), Raul Ibanez has been inconsistent (OPS+ 98) and Ryan Howard's OPS+ is 111 (career 140).

Given the weakness of the bench, the Phils need their boppers bopping. Or Halladay to be perfect.

D-Train D-smissed

Dontrelle Willis' rocky career with the Tigers appears to be over.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

High 5

The Tigers are 7-2 when scoring 5 runs and 12-0 when scoring more than 5 runs.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Turnarounds revisited

On April 29, I listed several players that might be due for offensive turnarounds based on their high line-drive percentages and low BABIPs. Here is a then-and-now comparison.

Travis Snider (aka The Amazing Sniderman) was a turnaround player prior to landing on the DL. On April 28 he was batting .125-2-4 in 75 PAs. His OPS was .503. Since then, he batted .385-4-11 in 55 PAs. His OPS was 1.187.

A.J. Pierzynski was batting .167-0-3 in 66 PAs. His OPS was .431. Since then, he's batted .254-2-10 in 75 PAs. His OPS was .716. His OPS the past three years was .732, so he's approached his norm.

Nick Johnson gets an incomplete after landing on the DL, although his OPS went from .617 to .963 in the six games he played prior to getting hurt after April 28.

Jhonny Peralta was .190-1-6 in 79 PAs. His OPS was .631. Since, he's .272-2-12 in 88 PAs. His OPS was .799 (.756 average the last three years).

Jeff Clement saw his playing time cut and also saw his OPS drop in limited action since April 28.

Finally, Luke Scott was .213-2-7 in 68 PAs. His OPS was .688. Since then, he's gone .324-7-13 in 77 PAs. His OPS was 1.039.

So, overall, improvement was evident.

As a related aside, I noted on May 4 that Austin Jackson's numbers were ridiculous. In 63 PAs since, he's batted .259 with a .628 OPS.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Don't think, Meat

OK, I've given up trying to figure out this Tigers team. Logic is suspended. I'm just going to enjoy the ride for as long as it goes. How can anyone figure this team? On Saturday night I was convinced they were going to lose, trailing Boston by 6-1, and give back all the momentum they gained from taking 3 of 4 from the Yankees. Instead, Detroit rallied for a 7-6 win in 12 innings and won again on Sunday to make it 5 of 7 against NY and the Sox.

The Tigers won Saturday despite allowing a dozen walks and striking out 15 times. Go figure. It was the fourth time Detroit rallied from a five-run deficit to win. Entering tonight, I believe the rest of MLB combined to do it three times.

According to the Detroit press notes, the Tigs are the first team to win four consecutive home series against teams that made the playoffs the previous year since MLB added the wild card in 1995. The Tigers are coming off home series wins over the Twins, Angels, Yanks and Red Sox.

The Tigers have had five position players (Austin Jackson, Scott Sizemore, Brennan Boesch, Casper Wells and Danny Worth) make their major league debuts this year, marking the first time since 1922 this has occurred for Detroit in the team's first 38 or fewer games. Boesch is the first Tigers player since at least 1920 to have at least one RBI in 12 of his first 19 career games.

Carlos Guillen, Zach Miner and Bobby Seay have all been hurt. Sizemore and Max Scherzer have been sent to the minors. The starting pitching has been generally lackluster. Only five hitters (Jackson, Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera and Boesch) have hit consistently. The defense has been below expectations. None of it has seemed to matter.

One has to believe this will catch up with the Tigers at some point. Detroit is 22-16. Maybe it's Motown Magic. Who knows? I'm done thinking.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Balancing act

Detroit is 20-15 after a great series against the Yanks in which the Tigs took 3 of 4. The starting pitching, for the first time this season, was solid. For the first time this season, the starters put together three consecutive Game Scores above 60 -- Rick Porcello 68, Jeremy Bonderman 65 and Justin Verlander 66. Even though the Tigers lost Bonderman's start, it was encouraging.

This year, though, has been fairly uneven for Detroit regardless of the starting pitching. The Tigers are 11-7 in games in which the starters have a Game Score of 50 or better; they are 9-8 in games in which the starters are 49 or worse.

Detroit is 14-2 when scoring 6 or more runs and 10-12 when allowing 4 or more.

The Tigers have outscored their opponents by a total of only 4 runs for the year. They are averaging 4.63 runs per game, which is just better than the AL average and ranks No. 7 in the league. They are second in BA (.274), third in OBP (.351) and fifth in slugging (.424). They are fourth in OPS, but are scoring 0.34 to 0.96 fewer runs per game than the three teams ahead of them.

This is because the bottom third of the lineup has been mostly a disaster. Scott Sizemore, Gerald Laird and Adam Everett have OPS+ of 64, 52 and 24, respectively. 24!

The AL average OPS for hitters 7-9 is .676. Sizemore is at .602 to lead the bottom third of Detroit's lineup. They've managed to hit 2 HR and drive in 14 runs. They've scored 20 runs.

It's rather remarkable the Tigers are 20-15 with this mish-mash of production. Of course, most of the credit goes to the bullpen, which leads the AL in wins (10), ERA (2.56) and IP (116). The last number is a concern, but hopefully the starters can continue their recent success this weekend against Boston.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Since a miserable 2-16 start to the 2010 campaign, the O's have gone 8-8 in their last 16 games. These against Boston (4-0), New York (1-5), Minnesota (2-2) and Seattle (1-1).

The biggest difference has been the back end of the bullpen. Alfredo Simon was converted from starter to bullpen for 1 week while still at AAA Norfolk, then promoted and plugged into the O's bullpen as closer. He's got 4 Saves and 1 Hold in 5 Appearances.

Koji Uehara was activated from the DL and has 3 Holds in 3 Appearances.

Will Ohman has taken over the 7th inning role and has yet to allow a Run in 11 IP.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Didn't See That Coming

The O's defeated the 1st place Twins 2-0 in Minnesota last night. Brad Bergeson tossed 6 2/3 and Will Ohman, Koji Uehara and Alfredo Simon retired the final 7 in order to preserve the shutout.

More please.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Off and on

The Tigers finally get a day off, and they apparently needed it after being swept in 3 by the Twins. This after a 5-game win streak that included a sweep of the Halos. So Detroit finished its 20-game stretch (with no off days and a West Coast swing) with a 10-10 record.

Detroit is 16-13 at this point, which is terrific given the state of the starting pitching. Dontrelle Willis -- yes, the D-Train -- leads the starters with a 3.99 ERA. Rick Porcello (ERA+ 57), Max Scherzer (67), Jeremy Bonderman (75) and Justin Verlander (96) have been below league average. Porcello and Scherzer have been ridiculously hittable, both allowing OPS around .925, but might be victims of some bad luck with BABIPs of .398 and .340, respectively.

The Tigers' starters rank worst in the AL in quality starts, Game Score and innings per start.

Detroit is 8-7 when allowing 4 to 8 runs. The MLB win percentage is .318 when allowing 4 to 8 runs. The Tigers are 11-2 when scoring 5 or more runs (and 8-0 when scoring 6 or more).

The Tigers' .794 OPS is fourth best in the AL, even with Gerald Laird (whose .486 OPS is nearly identical to Justin Morneau's on-base percentage). Detroit's .326 BABIP, probably distorted a bit because of Austin Jackson's insane number, is the best in the AL.

It would seem the Tigers' bats would be in danger of cooling at some point. It also would seem likely (hopefully) the starting pitching improves. If those two things happen, chances are that Detroit is pretty much, record wise, what they are right now.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

All-time Tiger

Ridiculous, thy name is Austin Jackson

We were right, Austin Jackson could not continue with a .491 BABIP.

He's now at .532. That's nearly a hundred points higher than No. 2 David Freese.

In 26 games, the rookie has 43 hits and is batting .377/.427/.526. He's got 8 doubles, 3 triples and a homer. He's got 22 runs. He has 8 multi-hit games in his last 10, including a 5-for-5 and two 3-hit days. He's 22 for his last 44 and has an OPS of 1.236 during that span.

How long can this keep going on?

No doubt at this point in the year, Detroit is loving Jackson and Phil Coke, who came from the Yankees in the Curtis Granderson-Edwin Jackson deal that included Arizona.

Coke is merely 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 13 games out of the pen.

Howard's deal

There's been much talk over the past week about Ryan Howard's contract extension. Only time will tell if it was a good or bad deal. Howard fans point to his HR and RBI totals as proof he's a great player worthy of his contract. No doubt, Howard is a terrific power hitter, particularly against RHP, which he kills.

But he is fairly one dimensional now, with nearly all his value tied to the long ball. If that skill erodes prior to the age 35, as has been the case with sluggers of Howard's type, the Phils will be in trouble.

I'm not going to suggest Howard is not a worthwhile player. But basing value on HR and RBI alone can be misleading.

Consider this player: He led the league in RBIs only once in his career and had seasons in his prime in which he drove in "only" 83, 106, 110, 90, 101 runs. He never surpassed 137. Hard to say, though, that the player -- Barry Bonds -- wasn't the most feared or best hitting in the game during that time.

There's also been a lot of comparisons drawn between Howard and Pujols. Last year, Howard hit 45 HR and had 141 RBI. Pujols hit 47 HR and had 135 RBI.

Pujols had 10 whiffs and 5 GDP with RISP. Howard had 63 Ks and 6 GDP. Pujols had 189 PAs with RISP and drove in 83 runs. He batted .405 with men on 1st and 2nd, .571 with men on 2nd and 3rd (with 10 IBB in 20 PAs) and .588 with the bases loaded. He drove in 105 runs in 346 PAs with men on base (and totaled 82 BB, with 43 IBB and 6 HBP).

Howard had 216 PAs with RISP and drove in 96 runs. He batted .259 with men on 1st and 2nd, .364 with men on 2nd and 3rd (with 1 IBB in 15 PAs) and .278 with the bases loaded. He drove in 120 runs in 354 PAs with men on base (and totaled 43 BB, with 8 IBB and 4 HBP).

If you subtract BBs and HBP from their PAs with RISP, Pujols collected .654 RBI/PA while Howard was .527 RBI/PA. Prince Fielder, for the record, was at .578 RBI/PA.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Smug Satisfaction

Baltimore swept a 3 game series from Boston over the weekend. It is the first O's series sweep of Boston in Baltimore since 1974.

And with Julio Lugo sitting on the Orioles bench:-)