September 2012

#SFGiants Clinch 3 Seed

 

 

Those are the standings accounting for all games played on Sunday. No matter what the record is of the two wild card teams, their record cannot be viewed as “better” when it comes to who hosts which games as division winners get priority.

The standings being what they are with San Francisco three games back of the Reds with three games to go and Cincinnati winning the season series against the Giants 4-3 guarantee the Giants will host Game 1 and Game 2 of the best-of-five NLDS on the first Saturday and Sunday of October, respectively. Washington holds the tiebreaker over Cincy, but there is still a possibility that the Giants will play Washington to start their 2012 Postseason.

No announcements for the exact rotation for the Giants have been made, but Bochy hinted the Giants will only go with 11 pitchers with all five starters on the 25-man roster, making their bench of position players deeper for the purpose of adding speed.

In the final three games of the season in the NL, Washington will host the Phillies, the Reds will go to St. Louis, the Giants to LA, and Atlanta will go to Pittsburgh. You’re probably well aware, but this means the Giants have an opportunity to eliminate the Dodgers from postseason contention this week. Should be fun.

#SFGiants Playoff Rotation = ?

There are a lot of acceptable answers to the question “How would you organize the playoff rotation of the San Francisco Giants?” You can consider a lot of statistics, recent games, and all the other yada yada. I’m going to give you three extra sets of data to consider: wOBA against vs. LHH/RHH and Home/Away, HR against vs. LHH/RHH and Home/Away, and wOBA against by month. To the numbers!

 

Not a huge surprise these guys have all had more favorable outcomes at home, but based off of these numbers alone, I’d say Vogelsong is your #3.

 

Everyone but Vogelsong has given up double digit HR on the road. More Vogelsong for #3. For the record, I believe the Nationals have a scarier set of RHH than the Reds do, as you take a look at the high number of long balls given up to the RHH.

 

What I’d give for those April or June numbers to all come back for October. Every starter has had a month under .300 wOBA against except for Lincecum. In the world of “what have you done for me lately” Zito hasn’t looked horrible, and Vogelsong has pitched well against the Padres, but he’s still not the 2011 pitcher we got to know. I’m not even sure there’s a clear-cut answer for who starts Game 1, because if you go Barry Zito for Game 3, do you care that you have two LHP going in a row? I get the feeling Bochy will care.

For me right now, I go Cain-Bumgarner-Zito-Lincecum with Vogelsong being ready to go in both Games 3 and 4, but that’s just me, and I doubt Bochy does the same thing as me. Remember, I think there are a lot of right answers, and my opinion on the order is certainly subject to change, because baseball happens. Would imagine we’ll get the announcement of who starts when soon.

Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) of USA Today: “Cabrera Pulling Away in MVP Race”

The AL MVP debate has become pretty polarizing, and in more than just a “our fanbase versus the world” type of debate, but one in which we argue with advanced statistics, the significance of play in later months when more people are paying attention, and changing positions for the possibility of a better outcome for your team. If you read Bob Nightengale’s article yesterday, then you have an inside look as to how the Miguel Cabrera for MVP camp is thinking. And as he and Buster Olney notes, a lot of players and coaches are pulling for him pretty hard him. Consider as Nightengale has said that Pablo, and Josh Hamilton have been texting him, and all-around nice guy Jim Thome has supported him, and of course teammates like Prince Fielder and Delmon Young on are his side, that should be no surprise whatsoever. Prince calls the fact we’re having the debate “embarrassing,” but I think he should be given a pass because he’s on the field with Cabrera. It’s not his job to go home and dissect the numbers.

Bob Nightengale though, is one of the national media members who is thinking like a uniformed player, and the people on Twitter tried last night to let him know his thinking was flawed. From the beginning:

“Pulling away” never shows up in his article, so I wonder if that’s an editor’s work, but Nightengale I doubt had any problem with the verbiage.

Confirmed: he thinks Miguel Cabrera is putting the bow on the present that is the MVP award. Also confirmed: he loves the triple crown.

I thought this was an excellent time for Bob to come out and make a Twitter-stance against Sabermetrics, but I believe he was busy watching the Tigers game at the time.

That highlighted tweet really is key to understand the Miguel Cabrera camp: stats in September are more important than any other month, therefore Trout < Cabrera.

And there’s no pressure in baseball games from April-July. Those high leverage at bats, on the basepaths, and moments in the field you had in those games? Sorry.

Sometimes when he’s not joking around, the @DodgersGM account makes solid points, and here was no exception.

Another point that is being argued. However, I would not go to say that the move is being penalized, but more that it is not being given much value. I don’t believe that constitutes for a “penalty” as a lot of people are suggesting.

It is not hard to understand any of the arguments Nightengale and people that reside in the same camp as he does is making — because I believe everybody started their careers of baseball analysis there — but they should be the basis for saying Miguel Cabrera has had a spectacular season, not for him being the MVP, because that belongs to Mike Trout. Let me link some articles to you, both from the pro-Trout and pro-Cabrera faction that I think try to do good work in giving the MVP to the logical choice.

What I’m Reading (Subscriptions might be required for the first and last articles)

Keith Law — Mike Trout is the only rational choice for AL MVP

Brian Kenny — The triple crown is nonsense

Bill Shaikin’s latest from the LA Times — Two camps stake out turf in Trout-Cabrera debate

Russell Carleton — A sabermetric case for Miguel Cabrera’s MVP Candidacy

Buster and Yadi: Closer Than You May Think

I can’t find a picture of these two together, which makes me kind of sad.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve followed a few Cardinals fans in my day living on Twitter (the past couple years), and boy the ones I followed sure were angry. They acted like they were always getting the cold shoulder from the mainstream, and in most cases they were right that they were getting unfairly ignored, however there was a bitterness that was very off-putting to the point where you did not want to consider their arguments. Fair to say though that every fanbase has these types of people, and I just had the opportunity to follow the ones I complained about but am always on the lookout for less angry fans. Rant over.

When I posted about the Silver Slugger a couple days ago, you may have noticed that Molina and Posey have both put up quite remarkable numbers this year at their catchers position. Seeing a tweet this morning simply stating Yadi was leading one of the WAR categories accompanied with the #Yadi4MVP hashtag brought me to investigate this “MVP” campaign. To be fair to the Trout-Cabrera argument… or more like “argument,” I wanted to try and fit in not just offensive categories but baserunning, and defensive categories as well. We all know defensive metrics are not as strong as we’d like right now, but I did my best to be fair here. A little background on the less common stats I don’t bring to the blog but show up in the graphic below:

  • “BsR” is Fangraphs’ baserunning metric
  • “rWAR” is Baseball Reference’s WAR, which I normally call “bWAR”
  • “Rbaser” is from B-ref and it is their way of measuring “number of runs better of worse than average the player was for all baserunning events.”

At the very least, after looking at this, I wonder why I haven’t heard Yadier’s name more often, but I don’t wonder to the point where he has to be in the same graphic as Braun, McCutchen, and Posey. He will get Top 5 MVP consideration since his team will likely make the postseason. But here’s what I see when I look at these side-by-side stats: Buster’s slightly better in every offensive category except for stolen bases and grounding into double plays, yet still has a better baserunning set of stats from Fangraphs and B-Ref than Molina. Yadier, as always, is excellent at throwing out baserunners, and you can see that in his CS%. When it comes to the people that will vote, they’re going to also look at AVG, SLG, and RBI, which I’m not as big of a fan of as those guys, but bad news to the Molina camp because Buster leads in those offensive categories, too.

So should you applaud Yadier Molina for another great season? Absolutely, he’s a wonderful baseball player, and so much fun to watch especially on defense when baserunners foolishly challenge him. Unless he hits 8 HR in the last 5 games though, I have serious doubts about him winning the MVP.

Some September #SFGiants Stuff

Baseball lives off of small sample sizes in the day-to-day, so I thought you might find interest in some of these bullet points from September’s numbers:

  • Marco Scutaro leads the MLB in H (39), along with the lowest K% for the month (2.8%)
  • Matt Cain (3.23) and Barry Zito (3.24) have an FIP for September that is only a hundredth apart
  • Buster Posey has got on base 40% of the time, while 40% of the balls Marco Scutaro came in contact with that didn’t go yard went for hits 40% of the time
  • Tim Lincecum has the 8th highest GB% (56.8%) this month, and the lowest first strike percentage to go with it (48.1%)
  • Joaquin Arias has a .177 wOBA this month. Even if you don’t know the stat, you can guess that that’s not a good thing
  • Sergio Romo (12.2 IP) and Santiago Casilla (12.1) have combined for 25 IP this month, with three games left to play this month.
  • Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval have 4 HR this month. Next in line is Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence (3).
  • Aubrey Huff has a 1.084 OPS in 13 PA
  • Guillermo Mota has the highest K/9 of the Giants relievers in September (14.73), Shane Loux the lowest (0.00)
  • Hector Sanchez (33.3%) has the highest K% amongst Giants position players
  • Jose Mijares (0.95) has the lowest tERA of the relievers, Matt Cain (2.87) of the starters

So the moral of the story was Scutaro and Posey have been pretty darn good this month, and Tim Lincecum hasn’t seen as many 0-1 counts as he’d probably like, among many other things.

Your #SFGiants Playoff Update

The Standings

While the Giants may be playing games that some consider “insignificant,” (but if you’ve watched the pitching staff this year, you know these games are quite the opposite) here are the standings coming into today’s games:

 

The National League has four of its five players locked in, with the fifth player still to be decided. Atlanta has an outside shot of winning the East, just as Milwaukee has an outside chance of outing St. Louis. However, St. Louis gets to dine in on an early taste of the playoffs by playing Cincy and Washington to finish the season while the Brewers play the Astros and Padres, and the Dodgers play the Rockies and Giants, so we could be in for a wild finish for that fifth spot.

Getting back to the Giants, they have three games between them and the Reds, and the Red Stockings won the season series 4-3 against the Gigantes, so there’s the tiebreaker. Should the Nationals find a way to tie the Giants, we remember very well the 5-1 advantage they have over San Francisco. Translation of all this: while the Giants do have a chance of losing the number 3 seed (and I believe the Giants have an advantage of being the 3), the Nats and Reds would have to go through a rather unlucky/bad streak of doing 4-5 games worse than the Giants. It’s not out of the question though that the Giants will go 5-1 or 6-0 in the next six games, just not something I’d bet on — the combination of all those wins and losses.

The Rotation

With the play-in games being played on a Friday, MLB has decided that the NL’s 2 and 3 seeds will play their first game on a Saturday, time TBD; and the #1 seed gets to fly to the play-in game’s winner for Sunday’s start to the series. I don’t know what Bochy and company have planned for the order of pitchers, but here’s what we have thus far:

Friday: Vogelsong

Saturday: Bumgarner

Sunday-Wednesday: ?

This bugs me that I don’t know what they’re up to with the pitching staff. I want to know! I want to know, gosh darnit! I took a stab at possible scenarios. This gets messed up if the Giants miss the #3 and get the #1. (SS) does not stand for “split squad,” but “short start,” that gets treated like a bullpen session just to keep the pitcher fresh.

 

Situations are not listed in any preferential order, just in the order I thought of them. For the record, I think my favorite option is “D” then “A.” If the Giants end up watching the Nats and Reds fold and they take “home-field advantage”… for the NLCS and WS, their series will start on Sunday.

———–

I’m sure we’ll hear more as the season ends, and I’m sure everyone will have an opinion on what they’d like to see in the coming days, but as long as Cain and Bumgarner are ready on full rest for Games 1 and 2, I’m good to go.

NL Silver Slugger Update

Coming into today’s games, everyone has about seven games left to go, and some races are more or less decided. The Silver Slugger, unlike the Gold Glove Award which is based on offense and defense for some reason, is given to one player at each position, including the pitcher. I was wondering how each position stacked up, so I thought I’d share the data. You may see some names you recognize for the guys that are competing for this hopefully not based on RBI award. Predicted winners, not who I like the most, are bolded.

Perhaps you’ve heard, but Buster Posey.

Catcher — With Posey going for an MVP, STL fans may feel overlooked 

Buster Posey (23 HR, .400 wOBA, 157 wRC+, 7.0 fWAR)

Yadier Molina (21 HR, 12 SB, .381 wOBA, 143 wRC+, 6.5 fWAR)

1st Base — I don’t expected advanced stats to win this one, but dingerz

Paul Goldschmidt (19 HR, 16 SB, .369 wOBA, 127 wRC+, 3.6 fWAR)

Corey Hart (half of his games in OF; 28 HR, .362 wOBA, 128 wRC+, 3.3 fWAR)

Adam LaRoche (32 HR, .355 wOBA, 122 wRC+, 3.2 fWAR)

Allen Craig (4/5 of his games at 1B; 114 G, 22 HR, .376 wOBA, 140 wRC+, 3.0 fWAR)

2nd Base — I don’t think this one is close, but I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by leaving on Danny and BP

Aaron Hill (24 HR, 14 SB, .373 wOBA, 130 wRC+, 5.6 fWAR)

Danny Espinosa (16 HR, 20 SB, .320 wOBA, 99 wRC+, 3.9 fWAR)

Brandon Phillips (18 HR, 15 SB, .333 wOBA, 105 wRC+, 3.6 fWAR)

Ian Desmond’s been pretty good this year for the playoff-bound Nationals

Shortstop — How I would love to have a 20/20 guy on the team I cheer for

Ian Desmond (25 HR, 21 SB, .372 wOBA, 134 wRC+, 5.3 fWAR)

Jimmy Rollins (23 HR, 30 SB, .328 wOBA, 104 wRC+, 4.8 fWAR)

Jose Reyes (11 HR, 36 SB, .340 wOBA, 114 wRC+, 4.6 fWAR)

3rd Base — The tale of Chase Headley not being traded and still producing for the Padres will be too much for voters

David Wright (20 HR, 14 SB, .372 wOBA, 137 wRC+, 7.2 fWAR)

Chase Headley (29 HR, 14 SB, .371 wOBA, 141 wRC+, 6.9 fWAR)

Aramis Ramirez (26 HR, .382 wOBA, 141 wRC+, 6.2 fWAR)

Will Jay Bruce get the 3rd of 3 Silver Sluggers?

Outfield — The first two SS should be obvious enough, but then what?

Ryan Braun (41 HR, 29 SB, .420 wOBA, 167 wRC+, 8.1 fWAR)

Andrew McCutchen (30 HR, 19 SB, .406 wOBA, 160 wRC+, 7.7 fWAR)

Carlos Gonzalez (22 HR, 20 SB, .376 wOBA, 124 wRC+, 2.9 fWAR)

Matt Holliday (27 HR, .376 wOBA, 140 wRC+, 5.1 fWAR)

Jay Bruce (34 HR, .361 wOBA, 124 wRC+, 3.0 fWAR)

Alfonso Soriano (31 HR, .347 wOBA, 114 wRC+, 3.8 fWAR)

Carlos Beltran (30 HR, .351 wOBA, 115 wRC+, 2.9 fWAR)

Pitcher — While Stras will get the sentimental vote, he’s only hit 1 HR! One! What a slacker!

Stephen Strasburg (1 HR, .277/.333/.426, .331 wOBA, 106 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR)

Mike Leake (2 HR, .288/.300/.424, .312 wOBA, 92 wRC+, 1.2 fWAR)

Hope I haven’t upset anybody with the predictions of who I think will win based of what I think the baseball people will do when they vote for the Silver Slugger winners.

It’s Been Real, Melky

Goodbye, Melky.

While I was busy being heart-healthy, the Giants made their statements on Melky. The short-version: they’re not bringing him back. The longer version:

“We’ve moved on and so we’re going to move forward without Melky.” — Bruce Bochy

“While I am disappointed that I won’t have the chance to join my team in the playoffs, I wish my teammates the best in the postseason and I’ll be rooting hard for them to bring another World Championship to San Francisco!” — Melky Cabrera

From a PR perspective, ever since Melky bolted from the team and had a fake site exposed, he’s made an effort to make it look like he does care about how he is perceived to the baseball community. Still, there are a lot of people that couldn’t be happier to see him gone.

Personally, as one of the leaders of the Melky bandwagon, it did break my heart to see him suspended and for so many people to just say that his bat is “not needed” in a lineup that’s heading to the playoffs. Since I’ve always been a fan of hitting and defense, but on the flip side do not get to see the clubhouse environment with and without Cabrera, I would imagine there’s still a solid group of fans that are with me on this one.

I mean, in 501 PA, he gets 11 HR, 13 SB, on pace for 200 H, .387 wOBA, .379 BABIP — which maybe means he was due for regression anyway — and some memorable grins from the outfield, how do you not need that in your lineup, I ask those who say such things. He also took himself out of contention from the batting title, which was odd, but another PR move on his part.

Jon Miller brought up a good point in today’s game that I believe he said was discussed, that if hypothetically the Giants won their NLDS in less than five games, and wanted Melky on the NLCS roster, they would have to play a man short until he’s eligible for at least one game. While you may not see Bochy use every bat on his bench in one game, I don’t think the FO was too on board with the idea of playing with 24 for a couple of games, if that situation came to fruition. Fair to say though that I don’t think that was the only reason he was not brought back.

I believe that this is the end for Melky with the Giants. Some team will pick him up on the cheap (rest assured it won’t be the Dodgers), and I will wish the Giants had signed him. So, Melky, it was fun. Should you come back instead of Pagan or Pence (unlikely, in my opinion), I’ll welcome you back, but I know I’ll be in the minority. I just hope you’re done trying to cheat the system, even though I know there’s no hard data proving that PED usage helped you get all your hits and BABIP.

The Standings: Just As We Thought!

Before the season started, many things were certain. This is a post about that, and taking a look at where we are now with a little bit of the unexpected, 154-155 games into the season.

AL East — Just As We Thought: The Yankees are in first place!… but the Orioles are in second and have a 78.9% chance of making the playoffs.

AL Central — Just As We Thought: The Tigers are in first place!… but so are the White Sox.

AL West — Just As We Thought: The Rangers are in first place!… but they’re focusing on fending off… the A’s?

NL East — Just As We Thought: Washington would be more competitive this year!… but to the tune of 93-61? Holy.

NL Central — Just As We Thought: Pittsburgh’s pitching wouldn’t help its cause for a playoff spot in the end!… but the Reds are tied for the best record in the NL?

NL West — Just As We Thought: Colorado was terrible!… but the Dodgers added more than $200MM in payroll in August and fell ten games behind the eventual division winning Giants who clinched the same day as the Reds.

The Second Wild Card — Just As We Thought: Would allow more teams to be competitive!… but did you think teams like Anaheim, Boston, Philadelphia, and Arizona would be on the outside looking in?

Baseball, ya’ll. Baseball.

Series Preview: #DBacks (77-76) vs. #SFGiants (89-64)

The Diamondbacks have an elimination number of four, and there’s nine games left for them to pull of an unlikely miracle. They need a lot of help, but also need to do a lot themselves, beginning with sweeping the Giants, who while they have clinched, still are acting like they have a fire of intention in their bellies. Interesting bit of recent trivia, the last time the Snakes have lost a series, it was against the Giants in Arizona, and the last time the Giants lost a series it was against the DBacks in San Francisco. It is also the only series the Giants have lost in September. The Giants will miss Tyler Skaggs, who was scratched to take the rest of the season off. Josh Collmenter and all of his tomahawks will take his place tonight.

Tuesday, September 25th: RHP Josh Collmenter vs. RHP Tim Lincecum

One sentence summary: Collmenter’s last start was July 27th against the Mets (6 IP, 5 ER), and Lincecum has had the lowest wOBA against of .302 in September of every month this season.

Wednesday, September 26th: LHP Wade Miley vs. RHP Matt Cain

One sentence summary: RHH (.312) have about a full tenth higher of a wOBA against Miley than LHH (.214), while Cain’s last two outings against the DBacks have seen 11 IP, 7 H, 7 BB, 10 K, 2 ER.

Thursday, September 27th: LHP Patrick Corbin vs. LHP Barry Zito

One sentence summary: Corbin’s last outing against the Giants of 8 IP was a season-high, while Zito’s .318 wOBA against in September means he’s probably pretty lucky to be sporting a 2.66 ERA in the same month.

Panda vs. Snake

Impressive when a guy has over a 200 wRC+ in the last week like the Diamondbacks have in Chris Johnson (221), but more impressive that the Giants have four guys. I’ll get to that in the next paragraph. Justin Upton is also contributing, but without the long ball (.467 wOBA L7, .338 wOBA overall). Aaron Hill (2 HR L7, 24 HR overall), Miguel Montero (.442 wOBA L7, .369 wOBA overall), and the notorious Paul Goldschmidt (.412 wOBA L7, .368 wOBA overall) have been enjoying their time against San Diego and Colorado. Gerardo Parra — though only 11 PA — is the only one really struggling of late (.201 wOBA L7, .309 wOBA overall).

Those four guys with over a 200 wRC+ in the past week? I’m sure you got Pablo (362!), then Hector (222 in 11 PA), Scutaro (203), and Belt (202 in 15 PA). Pablo’s .703 wOBA in the past week is outstanding and I’m going to venture a guess that it doesn’t stay that hot for the remainder of the season. In addition to the four guys I mentioned, Angel Pagan has also been leading the lineup off right (.443 wOBA L7, .344 wOBA overall). Guys that have been slowing down a bit include the awkward Hunter Pence (.191 wOBA L7, ) and the blue-eyed Brandon Crawford (.207, .281). Angel Pagan is two SB away from 30, and two HR away from 10.

Series Prediction

It should be interesting to watch how Bochy plays the field here (I giggled when I typed that), but by scratching Skaggs, I’m not sure the DBacks have concerns about winning right now.

Tuesday: Diamondbacks win (Goldschmidt)

Wednesday: Giants win (Matt Cain)

Thursday: Giants win (Because I said so)

What I’ve Been Reading (that I believe are important)

Alex Pavlovic’s Postgame Notes from Sunday

Grant Brisbee’s little Barry Zito piece

Bill Baer’s response to a Philly media member and only using the eyes to scout

The broadcaster bias work on WSJ

Wendy Thurm’s Melky article on Fangraphs

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