Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The 106th Fall Classic Begins Today

It would seem fitting that on the 50th anniversary of the Texas Rangers being admitted into the American League as the Washington Senators (After the previous version of the Senators moved to Minnesota after the 1960 season) to begin play in the 1961 season that the Rangers will play in their first ever World Series. After winning 3 American League West titles (1996, 1998, 1999) and suffering three straight defeats to the eventually World Series Champion New York Yankees in the postseason, the Rangers have finally found postseason success. In defeating the AL East Champion Tamnpa Bay Rays and the defending World Series Champion New York Yankees, the Rangers have set themselves up as the adversary to the San Francisco Giants, another transplanted franchise looking to bring the first ever World Series trophy to their "new" home.

The team formerly known as the New York Giants moved to the state of California (along with the Brooklyn Dodgers) at the end of the 1957 season and in a strange twist of fate traded places with their National League nemesis. Where the Giants found considerable success in New York with 17 National League pennants (1888, 1889, 1904, 1905, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1917, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1933, 1936, 1937, 1951, 1954) and 5 World Series titles (1905, 1921, 1922, 1933, 1954) compared to the Brooklyn Dodgers who won 12 National League pennants (1890, 1899, 1900, 1916, 1920, 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955 1956) and only 1 World Series title (1955), the success did not follow the Giants to San Francisco. While the Dodgers have thrived in Los Angeles with 9 National League pennants (1959, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1988) and 5 World Series titles (1959, 1963, 1965, 1981, 1988) the Giants have only one 4 National League pennants (1962, 1989, 2002, 2010) and have yet to win their first California World Series title. Lincecum, Wilson, Bochy and company hope to change that by next week.

The mighty bats and legend inspired pitching of the Texas Rangers meet the savvy arms and timely bats of the San Francisco Giants. History will be made with the World Series trophy being delivered to a city that has never had a World Series Champion. Who will win? Stay tuned to Fox and find out. Unless you live in a Cablevision are LIKE I DO where you will miss the game due to the bullshit between Cablevision and Fox. Luckily for me, I'll be at work for the next games 2-5 so I'll be able to watch those games.

Good luck and may the team that wants it the most win.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

2010 National League Champion San Francisco Giants

The 2010 World Series is set and history will definitely be made. Congratulations to the 2010 National League Champion San Francisco Giants. The stage is set for a memorable matchup against the Texas Rangers starting Wednesday in San Francisco. This match up of “underdogs” will ensure that either the cities of San Francisco or Arlington will celebrate their first ever World Series championship. Unlike last year’s World Series between league powerhouses New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies, this year’s Fall Classic will match up two different kind of teams. I’ll go into the differences between the teams in a later post. For now I want to focus on the Giants.

Unlike the Rangers who clubbed their way to the World Series, the Giants clawed their way to the promised land with amazing pitching, timely hitting and good luck on some questionable calls. The main question of the Giants succeeding in the playoff was could they score enough runs to make it this far. The answer is Yes, especially since they were able to do so without a masher in the middle of the lineup that many people, including myself, felt that they needed (For the record, I still feel that way. Prince Fielder or Carlos Peña at first or Adrian Beltre at third and Pablo Sandoval at first would be a good fit. But we can talk about that more in November). In 10 games, the Giants batted .231 with 6 HRs and 27 RBI. That’s an average of 2.7 runs a game in beating the both the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies of the NL East. How can an improbable lineup that scored less than an average of three runs a game make it to the World Series? Jayson Stark of describes the Giants offense as so:

But how did they get here? How did they do this? How did they pull off this miraculous magic-carpet ride, anyhow?

Exactly one starting position player who took the field for the Giants on Saturday had ever made an All-Star team. (That was Edgar Renteria, a guy who hit eighth, naturally, and went 1-for-16 in the NLCS.)

Precisely two of these guys started this game playing in the same place you could have located them back on Opening Day. (That would be Renteria, the shortstop, and Aubrey Huff at first base.)

Their cleanup hitter (Buster Posey) was in the minor leagues when this season started. Their No. 5 hitter (Pat Burrell) got released by Tampa Bay. Their No. 6 hitter (Cody Ross) was a waiver-claim special -- and all he did was win the NLCS MVP award.

They're a team loaded with so many retreads and reclamation projects that even their manager, Bruce Bochy, refers to them as "a bunch of misfits." But all you need to know about the 2010 Giants is that these guys actually take that as a compliment.

The seemingly anemic offense of the Giants proved the old baseball adage the Good Pitching Beats Good Hitting in the postseason.

The strength of the Giants lay in their vaunted pitching staff. As a whole, the staff had a 2.47 ERA with 102 K’s and only 28 walks while holding opposing hitters to a .199 batting average in both the NLDS and NLCS. This is made even more impressive since the Phillies hit .178 (8-for-45) with runners in scoring position and .216 for the NLCS (The Phillies hit a measly .215 for the entire playoffs). Three of the six games were decided by one run, one by two runs, one by three and only one by five. The young studs of Lincecum, Cain and Sanchez with a good bullpen anchored by the hirsute closer Brian Wilson were impressive and dominant and will definitely pose a challenge for the potent bats of the Texas Rangers. In a seemingly mirror image to the ALCS, it just seemed that the Giants (like the Rangers) were hungrier and wanted the win more than the favored Phillies (like the favored Yankees)did.

How will this series turn out? Hope you don’t live in a Cablevision area since their tiff with Fox is still ongoing and tune in on Wednesday night.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here for the pitching statistics page for the 2010 postseason from
- Click Here for the batting statistics page for the 2010 postseason from
- Click Here to access box scores and other stats of the 2010 NLCS from
- Click Here to access Jayson Stark's article Giant cast of 'misfits' marches on from

Saturday, October 23, 2010

2010 American League Champion Texas Rangers

Before I start on my assessment of the American League playoffs, allow me to Congratulate the 2010 American League Champion Texas Rangers on their victory over the defending World Series Champion New York Yankees. To be honest, I haven’t seen a team play that way in two rounds of playoffs since the 2002 World Series Champion Anaheim Angels.

In two rounds of playoffs, the Texas Rangers played with a mixture of reckless abandon, timely hitting and solid pitching in defeating the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees of the AL East. In both series, the Rangers batted .281 with 17 HRs and 55 RBI and stealing 15 bases while getting caught stealing only twice. In all of their victories during the ALDS and ALCS, the Rangers scored five or more runs often doing so by scoring multiple runs per innings. In terms of pitching, the Rangers had a 2.76 ERA while keeping opposing hitters to a .208 batting average. That is even more impressive given the fact that both the Rays and Yankees high-powered offenses were neutralized by the Rangers pitching.

I’ll be the first to admit it, I knew the Rangers offense was potent but after Cliff Lee (12-9 3.18 ERA, 185 K’s, 1.00 WHIP) and Neftali Feliz (2.73 ERA, 40 SV, 70 K’s, 0.88 WHIP) I had no clue who made up the rest of the Rangers pitching staff. Well, after what I saw against the Yankees I can safely say that I now know who C.J. Wilson (15-8 3.35 ERA, 196 K’s, 1.19 WHIP), Colby Lewis (12-13 3.72 ERA, 170 K’s, 1.25 WHIP), and Tommy Hunter (13-4 3.73 ERA, 68 K’s, 1.24 WHIP) are. The Texas Rangers have some young studs on the mound to go along with their young batters. Aside from catchers Bengie Molina (36) and Matt Treanor (34) , Third baseman Michael Young (34) and DH Vladimir Guerrero (35) the rest of the Rangers offense is 30 years old or YOUNGER. You saw that youthful exuberance at work against the New York Yankees who often looked old, stodgy and afraid to make a mistake while the Rangers played like a team who was not afraid to make a mistake and had nothing to lose. They punched the defending champs in the mouth and when seeing that the old champ couldn't punch back they kept pummeling them.

If the Rangers can make a play to keep Cliff Lee as their ace and keep their young players, I can’t see why the Rangers can’t remain a power in the American League in the years to come. Time will tell with that one. Congrats again to the Rangers. Good luck against whomever survives in the NLCS.

For Further Reading:
- Click Here for the pitching statistics page for the 2010 Postseason from
- Click Here for the batting statistcis page for the 2010 Postseason from
- Click Here for the Texas Rangers 2010 roster page from
- Click Here to access box scores and stats of the 2010 ALCS from

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Predictions for the 2010 AL and NL Year-End Awards

In today's post I wanted to state my predictions for the end of the year awards in MLB.

The consensus seems to believe that the award will go to Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton. I believe that even though he had an amazing season helping the Rangers win their first AL West title since the 1999 season, I don't think that he's the MVP of the league. My choice for MVP is Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers.

Similar to last year's vote where Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira were held to a standard where they split votes from each other since they were part of a highly offensive team the same should apply to the Texas Rangers. Hamilton batted a league high .359 with 28 HRs and 100 RBI in a lineup that included a rejuvenated Vladimir Guerrero who hit .300 with 29 HRs and 115 RBI and Nelson Cruz who hit .318 with 22 Hrs and 78 RBI. That's not even taking into account the accomplishments of Ian Kinsler and Michael Young.

On the other hand, Miguel Cabrera hit .328 with 38 HRs and 126 RBI in a lineup whose only bright spot was AL Rookie of the Year candidate Austin Jackson. It can be said that Cabrera was the main reason the Detroit Tigers finised a disappointing 81-81. Texas lost Hamilton's services for the whole month of September and went 14-10 in September. As impressive as Hamilton's season was I think Texas still ends up in a favorable position in both this year's weak AL West and in the standings (as a whole) without Hamilton than Detroit would have without Cabrera.

This race is a bit more complicated to predict since there was a serious NL Triple Crown race heading into September. The trio of reigning NL MVP Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals at .312 with 48 HRs and 118 RBI, Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds at .324 37 HRs and 113 RBI and the NL Batting Champion Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies at .336 with 34 HRs and 117 RBI are the main candidates for the award. Gonzalez thrived as a starter in his third season in the league though his production tailed off somewhat at the end of the season. Pujols continues to cement himself as the best player of this generation with his production at the plate. But I think that Votto will be the winner of the award since his continued rise as one of the National League's premier players was one of the main reasons that the Reds have reached the playoffs for the first time since 1995.

- AL Cy Young
This race will be the breakout race where Sabermetricians will assert their growing influence in the game. I've already discussed the position of the Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in the CY Young Race. I don't want to beat a dead horse here since it was covered by me in my post Felix Hernandez for AL Cy Young? but I still can't see a pitcher who went 13-12 for a team who lost 101 games and did not pitch in one game that mattered winning the award. Both C.C. Sabathia and David Price pitched in pressure games whose teams depended on their victories on the mound. Both Sabathia at 21-7 with a 3.18 ERA and 237.2 IP with 2 complete games and 197 K's in 34 games started and Price at 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA and 208.2 IP pitched with 2 complete games and 188 K's in 32 games started in playoff type games day in and day out for their respective teams and the teams aces they pitched against. To be fair to Hernandez, he finished the season at 13-12 with a 2.27 ERA in 249.2 IP with 6 complete games and 232 K's in 34 games started.

Though I believe that C.C. Sabathia should win the award, I believe that the voters who are ardent Sabermetricians will vote Hernandez as A.L. Cy Young. In doing so, the voters will be setting a precedent by saying that wins for a starter and games pitches and won in pressure situations do not matter any longer. We'll see how this one plays out.

- NL Cy Young
This award will be awarded along more traditional lines. Both Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies and Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals with their 20-win seasons will garner the majority of the votes. Halladay actually finished at 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA and an astounding 250.0 IP with 9 complete games and 219 K's in 33 games started. Wainwright finished at 20-11 with a slightly lower 2.42 ERA in 230.1 IP with 5 complete games and 213 K's in 33 games started. Ubaldo Jimenez at 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA with 221.2 IP with 4 complete games and 214 K's in 33 games started will get some consideration but his first half record of 15-1 outshines his second half record of 4-7. Though the race looks close on paper, I think Roy Halladay joins the ranks of pitchers who have won the Cy Young in both leagues (Gaylord Perry, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens are the others who have accomplished the feat).

- AL Rookie of the Year
Though Austin Jackson of the Detroit Tigers became one of four players (Shoeless Joe Jackson, Juan Samuel and Hanley Ramirez are the other three) in the history of MLB to have 180 hits, 20 doubles, 10 triples, 25 stolen bases and 100 runs in his first season to accompany his .293 average, I believe that Texas closer Neftali Feliz will win the award. Feliz was handed the ball game in and game out and produced with a 4-3 record with a 2.73 ERA converting 40 of 43 save opportunities striking out 71 while only walking 18 helping the Rangers reach the postseason. Aside from Cliff Lee, Neftali Perez is probably the only other pitcher on the Rangers rotation that people know instantly.

- NL Rookie of the Year
This award has been much discussed at my job between Justin and myself. As of a few weeks ago, I said that Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves would win the award. Heyward hit .277 with 18 HRs and 72 RBI with 128 K's and 91 walks in 520 At-bats. But after reflecting on the numbers of San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey I think he wins the award. Posey finished the season at .305 with 18 HRs and 67 RBI with 55 K's and 30 walks in 406 at-bats (114 less that Heyward). Both players are similar in OPS with Heyward at .849 and Posey at .862 but I think Posey playing the most demanding position in baseball for a team that many people (including myself) predicted would not even make the playoffs let alone win the NL West has stood out more as the NL Rookie of the Year.

-AL Manager of the Year
I've already gave my two cents on this race with my past post The Minnesota Twins Clinch the AL Central...Again!. I think that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire deserves to win the award by piloting the Minnesota Twins to a 94-68 record and the AL Central division title. Gardenhire is a model of consistency that has led to 5 second place finishes in the AL Manager of the Year voting. If what I am reading correctly in some of the articles as of late, he might end up with a sixth second place finish.

An argument is being made for Terry Francona of the Boston Red Sox winning the award. It is amazing how the team was able to finish the season at 89-73 in a demanding AL East with the injuries that decimated the team throughout the year. But I think that the voters will elect Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington as AL Manager of the Year. Washington led the Rangers to a 90-72 record to win the AL West with a team that no one thought would win 90 games let alone the division. I feel bad for Gardenhire who as I said before deserves to finally win the award. But alas he will be the proverbial bridesmaid to Washington as the bride.

- NL Manager of the Year
This one is a bit tougher to predict since Dusty Baker of the Cincinnati Reds at 91-71, Bruce Bochy and the San Francisco Giants at 92-70 and Bud Black of the San Diego Padres at 90-72 over-exceeded all expectations with how their teams played this season. I think Baker wins the award. The Reds rotation does not stack up to the vaunted pitching staff of Bochy's Giants headed by Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Johnathan Sanchez and Barry Zito. I place Baker in a similar category as Bud Black since both teams were not expected to do much but rebuild during the 2010 season. Black will garner serious votes and consideration with how the Padres played this season but I think he falls short with how his team seemed to run out of energy at the end by losing both the NL West and the NL Wild Card to the Giants and Braves respectively.

Well, there you have it folks. In my next post, I'll look back on my pre-season predictions and see how accurate I was in my choices for who would win the divisions and wild cards.