Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2012 Outlook: Philadelphia Phillies

Heading into the 2011 season many people penciled in the Phillies as the world series winners. They had a rotation that was straight out of a video game, three of their starters could have been aces on any team in baseball. As a result they had arguably the game's best rotation. Their offense was good as well, ranking in the upper half of the league.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012 Outlook: New York Yankees

The 2011 New York Yankees led the American League with 97 wins, but the offense went flat in the ALDS, losing to the Detroit Tigers.  That was surprising due to the great offense, and the pitching seemed maligned, but was also pretty good.  This is a fairly old team, especially on the offensive side.  As always, with the Steinbrenners supporting them, they will spend money and likely field another great team.

Monday, February 27, 2012

2012 Outlook: Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers are coming off of a first place finish where they won 96 total games. They had one of the best offenses in baseball, but the loss of Prince Fielder to the Detroit Tigers really hurt. They also had one of the better pitching staffs in the league, but Zack Greinke is a free agent at the end of the season so the Brewers will have to sign him to a big deal.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

2012 Outlook: Texas Rangers

With another great 2011 season, the Texas Rangers have cemented themselves as contenders for the coming years.  Despite defending their AL crown, the Rangers were one strike away from winning the World Series before David Freese ended those dreams.  There is also a great minor league system supporting the club with cheap production year after year.  The offense has been the strength of the franchise the past 20 years, but the defense and pitching has improved enough to sustain success.

Ryan Zimmerman Signs 6 year/$100 million Extension

It's been reported that the Washington Nationals have come to a 6 year extension with third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman was still signed for two more seasons, so over the next 8 seasons he will earn $126 million dollars. There's an option for 2020 which could bring the deal up to $128 million dollars. If Zimmerman can stay healthy this could turn out to be a nice deal for both sides.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

2012 Outlook: Detroit Tigers

The Tigers are coming off one of their better seasons, winning 95 games and making it to post-season play. Their offense and pitching were above league average, but not quite good enough to go far in the playoffs. The pitching was headlined by MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, while the offense was headlined by Miguel Cabrera.

Friday, February 24, 2012

2012 Outlook: Arizona Diamondbacks

The biggest surprise of 2011, the Arizona Diamondbacks overtook the defending champs and won the NL West, going 94-68.  Both their pitching and hitting was average, but they played great defense and had a little luck, finishing 6 games better than their Pythagorean record.  The entire core of the team returns, making them the divisional favorites for 2012.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

2012 Outlook: Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays are coming off a season where they made the postseason on the final day of the regular season, capping off the greatest final day in baseball history. Offensively they were one of the best teams in the league, Matt Joyce and Evan Longoria were both big parts to the teams' success. The pitching was middle of the pack, but it could be one of the best in the league this season.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2012 Outlook: Boston Red Sox

The 2012 Boston Red Sox are looking forward to Opening Day more than any other team this year.  Unlike the Braves, the Red Sox have completely cleaned house after their September collapse, with a new GM, new manager, and long-time veterans gone.  However, three of the 15 best position players last year made their home at Fenway, so there is plenty of talent to recover.  The pitching is depleted, but there is a good core to compliment the great offense.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2012 Outlook: St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals are coming off of a season where the won the world series, unfortunately they also lost one of the best players off all-time to free agency. Their offense was one of the best in all of baseball, and was led by Albert Pujols, but since he's gone Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman will be the offensive leaders. With the loss of Adam Wainwright in spring training their pitching was middle of the pack.

Monday, February 20, 2012

2012 Outlook: Atlanta Braves

My poor Braves forgot how to play baseball in September, going 5-15 the last 20 games, ending up missing the wild card with an 89-73 record.  There is almost zero turnover on the roster, with all but one player on the 40-man roster being in the organization last year.  High-leverage hitting was a major factor in their late demise, hitting nearly 30% below average with runners on third base.  Two top starters also missed September due to injury, which also hurt the club.  2012 will be a challenge with such a deep NL East to compete with.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

2012 Outlook: San Francisco Giants

After winning the 2010 world series the Giants had high hopes of returning to the playoffs, in hopes of another title run. Unfortunately they didn't even make the playoffs. They were had a strong pitching staff, led by Tim Lincecum. The offense was towards the lower half of the league, but with Buster Posey returning, they should get more run production.

All-Decade Teams: The 1950s

The 1950s were the beginning of baseball's Golden Age.  Integration had finally occurred, while expansion was not yet here.  The level of talent was very high since only 16 teams had all these new players to choose.  One quirky thing about the 50's was the lack of stolen bases.  No player stole 200 bases during the decade.  Every position player chosen is in the Hall of Fame, while four of the pitchers are also inducted.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

2012 Outlook: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The 2011 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim finished 86-76, staying with the Rangers until late in September.  Starting pitching and defense were the strengths of the team, with the offense rating just below average.  That was partially resolved with the signing of Albert Pujols, but left field, designated hitter, and especially catcher needs more production to compete with Texas.  The pitching is now even stronger with the addition of C.J. Wilson, probably giving them the best 1-4 in the American League.

Friday, February 17, 2012

2012 Outlook: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers are coming off a season where they went 82-79, having a slightly above average season. Their offense was slightly above average and was led by Matt Kemp's 8.7 WAR. The Pitching was led by cy young winner Clayton Kershaw and his 2.47 FIP. The Diamondbacks and Giants are the two teams who will be competing for the division, so it'll be hard for the Dodgers can compete unless they get some luck.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

2012 Outlook: Toronto Blue Jays

The 2011 Toronto Blue Jays were about as average as one team can be, finishing 81-81.  Their offense and bullpen were almost exactly average, while the rotation and defense were just a bit below average.  However, they had arguably the best hitter in baseball and an up-and-coming star debut, leaving them with much more intrigue than a typical average team.  While it is extremely hard to compete in the AL East, things could look up for Toronto in the coming years.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

2012 Outlook: Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals are coming off the best season of their existence, going 80-81. Their pitching wasn't great, it ranked towards the bottom half of the league, and their offense was middle of the pack as well. Jordan Zimmermann  was the best pitcher for the Nationals, and on the offensive side Michael Morse and Danny Espinosa were the leaders. The Nationals made some significant additions this off-season though, so they should be much better.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

2012 Outlook: Cleveland Indians

After getting off to a 30-15 start, the Cleveland Indians sputtered to a 80-82 record in 2011.  The pitching and hitting was about average, but their defense really hurt them.  They did see two young players have a breakout season and they acquired a very good starting pitcher.  There are still some injury concerns with their two former all-stars, but if Cleveland can get production from those two, they should eclipse .500 for the first time in five seasons.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

2012 Outlook: Chicago White Sox

The White Sox are coming off of a disappointing 79-83 season. Their pitching staff was one of the best in all of baseball, but their offense was one of the worst. All of the White Sox starting pitchers had at least 2.5 WAR. On the offensive side new comer Adam Dunn was expected to give the White Sox a huge boost on offense. Unfortunately, he did just the opposite.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

2012 Outlook: Cincinnati Reds

In 2011, the Cincinnati Reds followed their division title with a disappointing 79-83 record.  Most of the blame can be put on an underachieving pitching staff.  2012 seems to be their target year, with Brandon Phillips in a walk year and Joey Votto in his last cheap year.  If the Reds do not make the playoffs, it is likely that both stars will be gone, which will send them into rebuilding mode.

Friday, February 10, 2012

All Decade Team: The 1960's

The 1960's were the decade of the outfielder, with seven of the top nine position players overall being outfielders.  The middle infield was quite weak, however.  The starting rotation is pretty thin, with only two great pitchers, but with the lack of relievers, seven starting pitchers will be selected with only two relievers.  As the last full decade without free agency, 11 of the 17 players played with only one team during the span.  Eleven Hall of Famers comprise this list.

2012 Outlook: New York Mets

The 2012 New York Mets are coming off a year where they struggled quite a bit, particularily in the pitching department. Offensively they had a pretty good year, but their top offensive player Jose Reyes signed a  contract with division rival Miami Marlins. They also traded outfielder Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants for pitching prospect Zach Wheeler. If they hope to produce offensively this year, they will need third baseman David Wright to step up.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

2012 Outlook: Oakland Athletics

After reaching .500 for the first time since 2006, the '11 A's fell back to 74 wins.  They had their customary offensive struggles, but also played poor defense and had injury trouble on the pitching staff.  As always, it's a rebuilding year for Oakland, having traded away two top starters and their closer, and losing their top power bat in free agency.  They got good returns, but it will likely be another tough year by the bay.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

All-Decade Team: The 1970s

The 1970s saw a lot of great starting pitchers in their peaks, creating a very low offensive environment for the decade.  As a result, there will be an extra starting pitcher selected, while taking away a reliever.  As expected, the lineup is heavily represented by the Big Red Machine.  Much like the 80's team, its strong point is the OBP abilities of the top of the order.  The entire starting rotation is (finally) in the Hall of Fame, along with one reliever and five of the position players.

2012 Outlook: Colorado Rockies

The Rockies are coming off a disappointing seasons where they only won 72 games. In terms of offense and pitching they were in the middle of the pack. Troy Tulowitzki is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro, and Carlos Gonzalez was impactful as well. The Rockies traded starting pitcher Ubaldo Jiminez got traded halfway through the year for some top minor league arms.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

2012 Outlook: Miami Marlins

The 2011 season was one the Marlins could not wait to see end.  Their best hitter slumped then got hurt, while their best pitcher only made nine starts before injuries shut him down.  Their closer ended up getting caught with a false name and their left fielder got demoted for immature remarks and bad priorities.  With a new ballpark, new uniforms, new manager, and three major free agent acquisitions, the team is poised to greatly improve on their 72-win season.

Monday, February 6, 2012

All-Decade Team: The 1980s

The 1980s did not have much of an identity, serving more as a bridge between the 70's and 90's.  Speed was the name of the game, but there were very few stars, especially among the pitchers.  The left side of the field were the only strong points.  This was also the last decade where closers were used in a more sabermetric-friendly fashion.  Overall, there are eight Hall of Famers, while many of them never even sniffed induction.

2012 Outlook: Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates are coming off of another disappointing season. Their pitching was horrendous for the most part, but offensively they had a player develop into a star. This season could finally be a step in the right direction, top pick SP Gerrit Cole isn't to far away and SP Jameson Tallion could be joining him as well.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

2012 Outlook: Kansas City Royals

The 2011 Kansas City Royals may have won only 71 games, but the season was very important.  It was the genesis of the major wave of minor league talent graduating to the bigs, and it came with mixed results.  There were also a couple veterans who came back from the dead to post good years, but the pitching still held them back from a .500 season.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

All-Decade Team: The 1990s

The 1990's saw a lot of great first basemen battle for supremacy, with the position accounting for four of the top ten position players.  Two starting pitchers dominated the league, and one outfielder far outpaced every other hitter.  Only one Hall-of-Famer is on the team, but the next few years of ballots will increase that number dramatically.  So here are the players who benefited the most from the exponential growth in salaries.

2012 Outlook: Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are coming off of another disappointing season where they failed to make the playoffs. Offensively they got good production, but struggled mightily with their plate discipline. Their pitching as a staff was fairly decent, but their rotation faced a few problems. During the off-season they got former Red Sox General Manager, Theo Epstein. Epstein will take over as President of Baseball Operations. Former Padres GM Jed Hoyer also joined the Cubs at the same position. The Cubs didn't stop there. Hoyer went out and  traded for first baseman Anthony Rizzo. If everything goes right, Rizzo will be the Cubs first  baseman of the future.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

2012 Outlook: San Diego Padres

After their surprising 90-win season in 2010, the San Diego Padres fell back to earth, finishing at 71-91.  The trade of Adrian Gonzalez had a major effect on the team, but the pitching lost just as much ground as the offense.  Now, their two best pitchers are gone, leaving more holes in the roster.  The budget is tight, but there are a couple pieces to build around.

All-Decade Team: The 2000s

Today I'm starting a fun series, looking at all-decade teams using both fWAR and rWAR.  Players are decided on total and rate of production throughout the decade.  I will provide a starting lineup, rotation, and main bullpen arms, and then name the players who just missed the cut.  Players who played multiple positions during the decade will be put only at positions where they had at least 3000 innings in that span.  The 2000-2009 team is the first to be unveiled.

2012 Season Outlook: Baltimore Orioles

This past season turned out like every other season for the past decade for the Baltimore Orioles. They finished in last place in the AL East, and for now things aren't looking up. Their hitting was average but their pitching was absolutely terrible.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2012 Outlook: Seattle Mariners

In 2009, the Seattle Mariners won 85 games, turning to a defense-first philosophy.  The next two seasons saw every hitter struggle mightily, leading to a 128-196 record.  The pitching has remained okay, but the league's worst offense must get better to begin thinking about .500, much less playoff contention.