Dear Cleveland Indians fans:
Few things. First off, if you’re going to want to make jabs at Tampa for having no fans, due to having a terrible attendance record…
Tampa was last this year in attendance. Fair enough. But Cleveland had the third worst attendance this season. They’ve been in the bottom third (21st to 30th) for a decade. That’s like a kid with down syndrome making fun of a kid with cerebral palsy. You really don’t have that much room to talk. A fanbase with a shitty attendance record making fun of another team with a shitty attendance record is counter intuitive and doesn’t make much sense.
Second off: throwing a rookie pitcher, with only 52 innings of Major League experience under his belt, out there to pitch the biggest game of your season is not always the best idea. After Delmon Young crushed his fastball over the fence, he lost all of his composure and confidence; a rookie-esque thing to do. Understandably there wasn’t much of an alternative (wait, Kluber, Kazmir, McAllister could have worked, right?), but I would have no doubt wanted a reliable veteran arm on the mound.
Third: You can’t score runs if you don’t put some clutch into your swings, or make smart at-bats in crucial moments. No, Michael Bourn, striking out on 4 pitches, two of them outside, with men on the corners and no outs does not constitute as clutch. A run should have scored in that instance. Hell, grounding out into a double play would have been a better option almost.
Plain and simple: Tampa Bay was the better team. They played the better game. They pitched better. They batted better. They fielded better. They managed better. It’s okay to be disappointed…
But don’t say the game “was fixed” because your team blew ass in the most important game of the season. Case closed. Have fun watching the rest of the postseason.
Dear Fans of a National League team
If your team is not named St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves, or Los Angeles Dodgers, you better be praying for a playoff spot.
As it stands, the closest Wild Card contenders for the Cardinals and Reds (who would be the two Wild Card teams if the season ended today), are the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Washington Nationals, who are 8.5 and 9 games back, respectively.
Looks like the National League is just about locked up, barring a 2011 Red Sox-esque collapse. American League isn’t looking much more interesting, but it’s something to follow.
Max Scherzer is actually good, ladies and gentleman!
Read the title: Scherzer is actually a good pitcher! Don’t believe me? Read on, ya bunch of idiots!
So if you follow baseball, the name Max Scherzer is something you can’t avoid. He’s got an absolutely astonishing record of 18-1. Whoa. But realistically, a win-loss record of a pitcher means absolute shit, so all you mother fuckers talking about him being so good solely because of his record can choke on a dick, because you don’t know what you’re talking about.
It has also become somewhat common knowledge that Scherzer has the highest run support in the league. Meaning, his team scores more runs while he’s the active pitcher than any other pitcher in the game. So clearly that’s why he’s getting his wins, right?
WRONG, SHIT DICK.
Here’s a look of Scherzer’s ranks among other American League pitchers this season.
Innings Pitched: 172.1 (4th)
Earned Runs: 54 (10th)
Strikeouts: 185 (2nd)
Wins Above Replacement: 5.4 (3rd)
WHIP*: 0.90 (1st. The ONLY pitcher in the American League with a WHIP underneath 1.00)
ERA: 2.82 (6th)
Quality Starts: 20 (Tied for 1st with Kansas City’s James Shields)
K/BB**: 4.87 (2nd)
K/9***: 9.66 (3rd)
Home Runs Allowed: 14 (Tied for 13th out of 45 qualifying pitchers, averaging less than 1 home run per start)
* WHIP stands for Walks + Hits Per Inning Pitched
** K/BB stands for Strikeouts per Base on Balls (walks). He strikes out nearly 5 batters for every walk he issues.
*** K/9 stands for Strikeouts per 9 innings. How many strikeouts he would throw on average if he were to pitch a 9 inning standard game, which is close to 10.
Welp, it looks pretty obvious that Scherzer is actually a pretty damn good pitcher! Not the best by any means, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to say he’s in the Top 5 best for the American League, and Top 10 for the MLB as a whole, would it? Of course not, use your damn brains.
So it’s established that Scherzer is, in fact, a great pitcher this season. But what about his run support? Surely he’s winning most of his games from the run support instead of his strong stats in almost all categories, right?
Let me bring in a pretty good example of why that notion is bullshit. Take a look at Ryan Dempster. His stats this season, for the Boston Red Sox (arguably the team with the best offense, right up there with Detroit and St. Louis) are absolutely atrocious in almost all categories. But would you believe that he has the second highest run support in the American League, only having .3 runs less than Scherzer? So what’s his record?
A whopping 6-9. Tell me again why run support is the leading cause for Scherzer’s nearly perfect record?
All stats introduced so far have been facts. This next section is based on personal opinion.
I’ll level with you. I went through Scherzer’s game log, and have determined how many games he should/could/would have lost, based on his performance in the game, and not from his offense or bad bullpen. Generally a game in which you give up 5 runs, or just overall had a bad start, I count you as, more or less, worthy of taking the loss, and this is ALL strictly based on opinion, so don’t quote me on this.
April 24th: 5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 6 K. Game ending score: 7-5, Scherzer took the win.
May 15th: 7 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 7 K. Score: 7-5, No Decision
…Hm. Believe it or not, Scherzer has only given up 5 runs twice this season, and 4 runs in only 3 starts. In other words, in 20 starts, he’s given up 3 runs or less, which, as it turns out, are all quality starts. Not only has he been effective, but he’s also been efficient, never having to be pulled early due to an inflated pitch count from giving up hits, walks, but not always allowing runs to score. You’d better bet that Jim Leyland, a stickler for pitch counts, would pull Scherzer if he were struggling, despite all of the runs his team has scored for him.
Now, what about the games he received no-decisions for? He’s received 6 no-decisions this season, with 4 of them when he gave up 2 runs or less. Kinda sucks for him, doesn’t it? Those 4 were quality starts as well, as we’ve already discussed above. Surely he should have gotten the wins with those, right? Well in two of those games, the Tigers ended up losing, meaning the bullpen blew it for him. Oops! The other two no-decisions he had, which were the 5 ER game mentioned above and an 8 inning effort in which he gave up 3 ER were also blown by the bullpen.
So let’s recap. Not only has Scherzer won one or two games that he otherwise would have had a better chance of losing if he were on a weaker hitting team, but he’s also had 4 games in which he left the game in line with the win, and then the bullpen blew it. So if we made his no decisions into wins and losses, we would add 5 wins, and 1 loss to his record, bringing it to 23-2. Now take the other game he should have lost, and we have a record of 22-3.
Still impressive, right? Of course, any pitcher can look impressive if you take all of their no-decisions and determine whether or not he pitched well enough to warrant a win or a loss. But Scherzer has mainly received fair decisions this year, despite his inflated run support.
Hopefully this will shed some light on your thoughts of Mr. Scherzer.
AL West Predictions
Following the trend of my last two predictions, here are my predictions for the American League West Division:
1. Texas Rangers: 93-69
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - 91-71
3. Seattle Mariners: 75-87
4. Oakland Athletics: 67-95
The Texas Rangers lost ace C.J Wilson to their division rival Angels, but picked up Japanese phenom Yu Darvish to replace him, a replacement that may well have been a large increase in talent. There’s no denying the sheer power they have with their bats, a lineup that includes Micheal Young, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, etc etc. All are batters who are capable of hitting 30+ HR’s next season (except maybe Young), and can also hit for average, so they are a force to be reckoned with. They will be battling for the top spot in their division against…
The Los Angeles Angels made the biggest offseason signing of the year when they signed Sir Albert Pujols and then added to it by acquiring the aforementioned C.J Wilson. The Angels have a dynamite rotation that can remind you of the force that the Phillies have. A rotation that consists of Jared Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J Wilson, Ervin Santana, they are ready to roll. Weaver, Haren and Wilson can all win 15+ games and post ERA’s hovering around 3. With the emergence of Mark Trumbo and Erick Aybar being one of the best shortstops in the game, not to mention the veterans in Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells, this team will be going places for a couple of years. I wouldn’t be surprised if they beat out the Rangers, but we haven’t seen how well Pujols and Wilson can play for their new club, so they stay at second place.
The Seattle Mariners, in my opinion, have a better team than what their record suggests. They have a respectable rotation fronted by Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas, and with the addition of Jesus Montero, they could surprise some people and turn their heads. With the blockbuster bust of Chone Figgins, and Ichiro having a down year last season, it looks like some of their stars are on the decline. With the emergence of Justin Smoak, Miguel Olivo, and the acquisition of Casper Wells from the Tigers, their bats may ignite a lot more than the past couple of years of their weak offense. But playing in a division with the power hungry Angels and Rangers will take it’s toll on the team.
Moneyball brought in extra interest for the team, but it’ll take more than interest to get the Oakland Athletics into the black. After trading away Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, their rotation is lacking something awful. Dallas Braden, Brandon McCarthy, and offseason acquisition Bartolo Colon seem to be the main core of the rotation, which could be worse. The worst part, however, is their lack of offense. Yoenis Cespedes may produce some great offense, but there is little to no guarantee he’ll do anything of the sort. Manny's back, but as he reaches 40, who knows what he can do? Coco Crisp and Jemile Weeks do, however, have the talent to hit for average and swipe 40 bags, so if the A’s want to get some scoring done, their going to have to rely on their legs to get them around the bases instead of their bats. Their W-L is so weighted because of the uncertainties of their offseason acquisitions.
Those are my AL West predictions, what are yours?
AL Central Predictions
As with my last post on the AL East predictions, here are how I feel the AL Central will play out this season.
1. Detroit Tigers: 98-64
2. Kansas City Royals - 84-78
3. Cleveland Indians - 79-83
4. Minnesota Twins - 72-90
5. Chicago White Sox - 70-92
Detroit Tigers are by far the favorite to win the division, within good reason. They have a rotation that has Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, and an unnamed fifth starter. They’re all young; not a single pitcher is over the age of 30. Verlander has given a strong argument to be the best pitcher in baseball, Fister went 8-1 when he was traded from Seattle to Detroit. In the lineup, spots from #2 to #8 are chockful of power and talent. Boesch, Cabrera, Fielder, Young, Avila, Peralta, and Raburn all batting in the same lineup? This team is going far.
The Kansas City Royals are shaping up to be a great team. With the emergence of Hosmer and Moustakas, the doubles machine Billy Butler, and the entire team being full of young and eager talent, I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave the Tigers a bit of trouble throughout the season. However, they lack a big name ace in the rotation, aside from Jonathan Sanchez, and really a big name player in general, so it’s hard to peg how well they’ll really do.
The Cleveland Indians are…an odd bunch. When they traded for Ubaldo Jimenez, it seemed like that was the missing piece to their puzzle, yet they still finished the season under .500 after dominating the first half. When their team is good, they’re good. When they’re bad…well you get the picture. Asdrubal Cabrera, we must remember, had a career year last season, and never did much before last season, so depending on his bat and defense to lead the team isn’t a sure bet.
The Twins had an abysmal season in 2011, and I don’t think they’re out of that hole just yet. With the loss of Jason Kubel, arguably the only player on the team last season that had any real success, and the still uncertainty of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, this team is poised to have another bad season.
The Chicago White Sox…oh man. It looks like the team has been stripped down and is entering a rebuilding stage. If Adam Dunn doesn’t shape up, Gordon Beckham doesn’t bring back his former glory, and their rotation missing Buehrle can’t keep up…losing 100 games doesn’t seem too far fetched.
Those are my predictions. What are yours?
AL East Predictions
I made predictions for each division as soon as the offseason started on my personal blog, but with the new signings and tradings going on, I feel like doing new predictions should be done, starting with the AL East.
1. New York Yankees - 95-67
2. Tampa Bay Rays - 92-70
3. Toronto Blue Jays - 86-76
4. Boston Red Sox - 84-78
5. Baltimore Orioles - 70-92
It’s hard to deny that the Yankees are still one of the best teams in baseball, and just barely the best in their division.
The Rays have shown to have one of the best and youngest rotations in the league, led by James “CG” Shields, David Price, ROY of ‘11 Jeremy Helickson, Wade Davis, and the young phenom Matt Moore. The only two rotations that come to mind that are anywhere near or better than the Rays would be the Angels and the elite rotation of the Phillies.
Ever since Jose Bautista exploded in Toronto, they have been a team with a postseason appearance just waiting to happen if they built around him. As he gets better, and the rotation starts to shape up with Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero, they can play a good spoiler and may have a shot at making it into the postseason.
Boston is going downhill, and will be for some time. With the addition of Adrian Gonzalez in the 2010 offseason, it seemed that the team would shine in offense, which they did. The problem lies with the abysmal talent in the bullpen and disappointing rotation last season. With the loss of Papelbon, where the Red Sox will end up doesn’t seem promising.
And the Orioles are the Orioles; lackluster and doomed to playing in the toughest division in baseball. They are slowly getting better and more polished with their players, as Matt Wieters is proving to be a premier catcher.
I expect a good battle between the Yankees and Rays for the top spot in the division, but the Blue Jays are my “sleeper” team in the division. What are your predictions?