Archive for the ‘National League’ category

I Probably Would Have Gone with Bregman or Semien

November 15, 2019

If I had an American League MVP vote, I probably would have gone with Alex Bregman on the theory that he was more “valuable.”  It’s hard to argue that Mike Trout isn’t the best player in baseball and the best, at least in an absolute sense, in the Junior Circuit in 2019.

However, the Angels went a pathetic 72-90, and Trout missed 28 games, while Bregman played in 157 and filled in at SS for the ‘Stros when Carlos Correa was out for sixty games with a broken rib (I kind of doubt the veracity of the claim that it happened during a massage — players often lie about stupid injuries of this sort).

In fact, one could make a compelling argument that Marcus Semien was the “most valuable” AL player, as the A’s probably don’t make the post-season without his tremendous performance, while the Astros would have made the post-season even if Bregman had merely played as well as he did in 2018.

No complaints about the NL voting, though.  Bellinger, then Yelich seems just about right.

That’s Baseball

September 11, 2019

I’m sad to hear that Christian Yelich has a busted kneecap and his 2019 season is over.  He’s an exceptional talent in his age 27 season, and it would have been nice to see him play out the season to see what kind of final numbers he could have put up.  That, and the fact that he was probably the leading candidate for the Senior Circuit’s MVP award.  Now Cody Bellinger is looking like an obvious choice.

The Brute Crew were in 3rd place for the two wild card spots, so Yelich’s injury will make it harder to make the post-season.  However, what was once Beer City (how much beer is still made in Milwaukee?) is still only two back in the loss column to the Cubbies, and the Brewers have won five in a row.  Repeat after me — one player doesn’t make that much difference.  The Brewers could now collapse, or keep winning to pick up for their best player or (most likely) keep winning at the same rate they have won so far (10 of their remaining 18 games) and just miss the play-offs.

That’s why they play all of the games – there are no guarantees.

San Francisco Giants Claim Yet Another Mediocre Outfielder

June 21, 2019

The Giants’ quest to obtain every major-league-marginal outfielder in MLB continues.  Today the team claimed Baltimore Orioles wash-out Joey Rickard, who batted .203 for the major league club this year and .203 at AAA Norfolk.  Rickard’s OPS numbers are better, but not good enough to get around that consistent .203 batting average.

My guess is that Rickard will play about as well for the Giants or the Sacramento River Cats about as Mac Williamson has played for the Mariners since they claimed him off waivers from the Giants, which is to say not very well at all.

It seems to me that it isn’t too early to start the fire sale of Giant major leaguers who still have some value to other major league teams.  The Gints are 18.5 games out of the NL West lead and have the worst run differential in the Senior Circuit.  The Giants are only eight games behind the Brewers for the second wild card spot, but have eight teams between themselves and the Brew Crew.

After Madison Bumgarner‘s poor outing in L.A. and the published comment that the Yankees won’t trade Clint Frazier for a “rental” yesterday, a MadBum for Frazier trade looks a lot less likely than it did a few days ago.  Still, the Giants have a lot of other assets than another team might covet, and the Yankees’ resolve to get value for Frazier may waiver as the 2019 trade deadline nears.

It’s fair to say, however, that such trades rarely get completed before the All Star Break, and probably won’t be in the 2019 Giants’ case.  One thing I am more sure of than ever, though, is that at least one 4-A player in Giants’ system will be playing in one of the Asian major leagues in 2020.

San Francisco Giants Make a Bunch of Roster Moves

May 7, 2019

Yangervis Solarte, Pat Venditte and Mike Gerber are out.  Mac Williamson, Donovan Solano and Williams Jerez are in.

Only Solarte really got a chance to show what he could do (he didn’t — slashing only .205/.247/.315 in 78 plate appearances), but Venditte (allowed five earned runs in his last outing of 1.1 IP) and Gerber (1 for 15) played so poorly they were quickly sent packing.

After a recent three-home-run game, Williamson was slashing .378/.459/.756 after 23 games for AAA Sacramento. We’ll see if he can finally hit major league pitching.  I see this season as Williamson’s last real chance to establish himself as a major league player, and he’s certainly got the opportunity with no one in the Giants’ outfield really hitting.  I won’t hold my breath, however.

Donovan Solano hasn’t played in the majors since 2016, so I’m sure he’s excited about the promotion.  I’m doubtful he’ll hit significantly better than Solarte, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Williams Jerez is seven years younger than Venditte, so one would have to think he has more of a future.  He had 2.40 ERA after 12 appearances covering 15 innings in Sacto, while striking out 14.

It all kind of feels like moving around deck chairs on the Titanic, but maybe one of the new guys will get hot and provide a little excitement in what has not been a very inspiring campaign so far.

Meanwhile, Gerardo Parra opted for free agency, so he’s presumably out of the organization unless the Giants make him the best offer he gets.

In sort of Giants’ news, the Angels have designated RHP Chris Stratton for assignment after he posted an awful 8.59 ERA across 29.1 IP.  Stratton is out of options, so he has to pass through waivers.  I could see an NL teams claiming him, since he’s still only 28 and pitched O.K. in 2017 and 2018.  He’s also a former 1st round pick, which might convince another team to see him as player who could become effective with a few minor mechanical tweeks.

Tim Lincecum’s and Jake Peavy’s Hall of Fame Chances

May 5, 2019

Jake Peavy officially retired today although he hadn’t actually pitched professionally since 2016.  Peavy and Tim Lincecum had very similar major league careers, and it got me thinking about their respective Hall of Fame chances.  After Lincecum’s failed comeback in the Rangers’ organization last year, it’s pretty clear Timmy’s professional career is over too.

I don’t think either has a good shot at making the Hall of Fame.  Both pitchers were the National League’s best for roughly four or five years, but were basically back-of-the-rotation starters for the second halves of their respective careers when injuries wore them down.  Peavy lasted long enough to finish with a career record of 152-126, while Lincecum finished a modest 110-89.

Lincecum won two Cy Young Awards to Peavy’s one, Lincecum pitched for three World Series winners to Peavy’s two, and Lincecum pitched two no-hitters while Peavy threw none.  But, as noted above, Peavy won 42 more games.

In my mind, pitchers with career highs of a Jake Peavy or Tim Lincecum still need to win at least 190 games in today’s MLB to be realistic Hall of Fame contenders.  Another similar, if even better short-time ace, Johan Santana (career 139-78 record), hasn’t received much love from Hall of Fame voters.  In his first and only year of HOF eligibility, Santana received so few votes (10 or 2.4%) that he was dropped from the HOF ballot the next year 2019.

Given where the game is going, I think that Santana will get more love from future Veterans’ Committees and could eventually make the HOF.  I don’t think either Lincecum or Peavy will, however.  At least both Lincecum and Peavy won a lot of awards, multiple World Series rings, and made a boatload of money.  They’ll never forget Lincecum in San Francisco or Peavy in San Diego, so it’s hard to feel too sorry for them.

Luis Robert, Robel Garcia and Other 2019 Hot Starts

May 4, 2019

I thought it would be fun to write a couple of pieces on minor leaguers off to particularly hot starts in 2019.  Here goes:

21 year old $26 million Cuban bonus baby Luis Robert got off to the hottest start anywhere in organized baseball.  In 19 games in the Class A+ Carolina League his 1.432 OPS was a whopping 437 basis points better than the league’s next best hitter.  Not surprisingly, he has already been promoted to the AA Southern League, where he is off to an 0-for-6 start after two games.

Robel Garcia‘s 1.050 OPS leads the AA Southern League by 100 basis points.  He’s already 26 years old and has only played 17 games this season, so it’s probably a fluke.

However, Garcia’s back-story is extremely interesting.  Before this season, baseball reference lists no professional statistics for him since 2013.  He washed out of the Indians’ organization all those years ago, but he apparently kept his baseball career going by playing on Italy’s National team, even though he’s a Dominican.

Garcia makes me wonder how many other players who can play never get the chance because they take too long to develop or don’t get the right breaks.  Some NPB teams have academies in the Dominican Republic that occasionally turn Dominican MLB system wash-outs into servicable NPB major league players.  Xavier Batista is a current example.

Yordan Alvarez is ready for the majors.  The soon-to-be 22 year old Cuban’s 1.421 OPS leads the admittedly hit-happy Pacific Coast League.  Alvarez is an LF/1B and the 35 year old also Cuban Yuli Gurriel isn’t hitting in Houston, so Alvarez may get his first major league shot right quick.

Brian O’Grady‘s 1.189 OPS leads the AAA International League by 58 basis points.  Alas, he turns 27 in two weeks and has yet to play in the majors.  Hopefully, he can get some major league action this season in order to put himself in a position for an Asian payday next year.

21 year old catcher Sam Huff is ready for a promotion.  His 1.189 OPS leads the Class A Sally League by 127 basis points, and he’s thrown out 10 baseball stealers in 16 attempts.

25 year old 1Bman Chris Gittens has a 1.264 OPS, which leads the AA Eastern League by 110 basis points.  He’s also ready for a promotion.

Trey Cabbage leads the Class A Midwest League with a 1.029 OPS.  I wonder if his teammates call him “Cole Slaw” or “Trey Cole”.

What is former NL home run champ Chris Carter doing in the Mexican League?  He’s leading this hot weather hitters’ league with a 1.397 OPS.

Christian Walker Is NL’s Biggest Surprise So Far

April 24, 2019

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Christian Walker is the Senior Circuit’s biggest surprise so far in 2019.  The 28 year old 1Bman was stuck behind Paul Goldschmidt until Big Paul got traded away to the Cardinals this past off-season.  Walker is taking full advantage, batting .347 with a 1.135 OPS through his first 21 games of the season.

How long Walker can keep the hitting up remains to be seen.  Not many players who establish themselves as major league regulars at age 28 have long major league careers.

Walker proved that he could hit when he posted a .980 OPS at AAA Reno in 2017, and he has the advantage of playing his home games in one of MLB’s better hitters’ parks.

Walker had very limited playing time in four major league seasons prior to 2019, and he was often pinch-hitting, which is tough for a young player to do.  One thing that may work in his favor is that he has shown a pronounced reverse-platoon advantage in his career.  As an exclusively right-handed batter, he has an MLB career .975 OPS against righties and a career .789 OPS against lefties.  He’s had fewer than 200 major league career plate appearances, so the platoon splits will probably change significantly over time.

Even so, it’s got to be easier for a right-handed hitter to hit better against lefties with more experience than to learn how to hit righties.  While Walker’s career OPS against righties is certain to regress toward the mean the more he plays, it can only be a good thing for him if he hits well against righties to begin with.

For a player like Walker to have any kind of major league career, he needs to do what he’s doing right now — hit a ton right off the bat when he finally gets a chance to play every day.  I don’t think that Walker will make them forget about Paul Goldschmidt in Arizona, but I will be rooting for him to at least be the next Garrett Jones.