Tuesday, October 27, 2015


In looking at the numbers from the post season only, the Mets have a slight edge over Kansas City in the 'power ranking' category. Most of that is due to the dominant performance of the pitching staff over the Cubs. SO we have to delve a little further. 

In going position by position, lumping outfielders as one entity, and the same with DH possibilities, it gives the Royals the edge in 5 of the 7 possible categories. Remembering that the AL has the home field because of that All-Star Game rule thing (here's an idea...instead of home field, give the team from the winning league the better post season game schedule, no day game after night game...just a thought...maybe as inane as the home field idea)

In pitching, lumping the starters and relievers together, the Mets have the edge in both categories, believe it or not. In reality, if the Royals have a lead late in the game, their bullpen is almost untouchable, and has been all season. But if the Royals aren't scoring runs against the Mets' starters, the Royals bullpen may be a moot point.

The layoff could give the Mets offense time to regroup and focus on the basics, and help the struggling hitters. Duda and Wright appeared to be coming around in the last couple of games in the NLCS. And the Royals are hoping the same from Alex Gordon (whom I have been picking as the league MVP in the last couple of pre-season predictions) and Moustakis. But the layoff may also cool off Daniel Murphy, who has been Roy Hobbs incarnate the last 2 weeks.

Jacob deGrom has been phenomenal, as has Matt Harvey. And Juerys Familia has been lights out coming out of the pen. The middle to late inning relief for the Mets should be a concern for them. Tyler Clippard hasn't been overly effective, and Addison Reed has been a little better. I think that the surprise may be coming from Jonathan Niese. I think he may be the key to helping the Mets in the 6th and 7th inning relief spots.

And the Royals starters have been inconsistent. Surprising from Johnny Cueto, but almost expected from Yordano Ventura. Both have issued a lot of walks, and with Curtis Granderson leading off and setting the tone by taking the starters deep into counts, running pitch totals up, and maybe eking out walks from the Royals starters, the Mets might get early leads that their starters can hold onto.

For the Royals, Luke Hochaver is the one I would watch, If they are close or have a lead when he comes in as the bridge to Wade Davis, the Mets are going to have a hard time. This Series looks to be all about the pitching.

If I am going with my heart, I would pick the Mets. If going by the numbers, they are telling me Royals in 7.

But I've been wrong before...

Enjoy the Series!

(It's the first one that didn't involve one of the original 16 teams)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

1945, the end of a war, the initiation of a hex, and a misunderstood star

            1945, as baseball enthusiasts will remind you, was the last year that the Chicago Cubs appeared in the World Series, losing to the Tigers in a seven game Fall Classic. Baseball lore runs through the 1945 season, as the Year of the billy-goat curse, famously begun when the Cubs refused admittance to a Series game to Billy Sianis and his pet goat.
            The goat, named Murphy, was somewhat of a mascot for the team thay season, a good luck charm as it was, and the namesake for Sianis' "Billy Goat Tavern" in Chicago, made even more famous by John Belushi and Bill Murray and their "Cheeburger, Cheeburger" sketches on Saturday Night Live in the mid-seventies.
            As a part of the oral tradition of the game, this story gets re-hashed every few years, but the fact is, they were good enough in 1945 to make it to the Series, and to take the Series to seven games.
            True, the franchise does appear to be snake-bitten since, when you look at the black cat in 1969, the non-fan interference in 2003, and the principle that held true for forty years, where the adage was a team with 2 or more ex-Cubs could never win a World Series, oral tradition and fate have not been kind to the Cubbies.
            But, 1945...

            The Cubs were able to acquire pitcher Hank Borowy from the Yankees in mid-season. The former Fordham University Ram  had won 56 games for the Bronx Bombers in 3 and a half years, but the Yanks let him go to the Second City for a very handsome $96,000 purchase price.
            Borowy went 11-2 for the Cubs helping propel them past the Cardinals by 3 games at the end of the season. Between Borowy, Claude Passeau and Phil Cavaretta (the league's MVP), the Cubs won 98 games that year.
            Over in the American league, the war effort was still having an impact on the pennant races. The Tigers benefitted from the conclusion of  Hank Greenburg's service. The first baseman hit             in 78 games upon his return from the campaign in Europe, and helped Hal Newhouser and the rest of the Tigers to an 88 win season, besting the Washington Senators by a game and a half.

            The Cubs won 2 of the 3 games played at Detroit's Briggs Stadium, including Hank Borowy's 9-0 victory in Game 1 over MVP Hal Newhouser, and Claude Passeau's one-hit complete game shutout over Stubby Overmire in Game 3.
            The Tigers won 3 of the next 4 played at Wrigley Field, Newhouser besting Borowy in games 5 and 7.
            There were many sportswriters at the time that consider this Series one of the worst ever played, owing to the lack of true star power because of the war effort. Hank Greenburg hit the only 2 homers for the Tigers in the Series.
            In an interesting piece of trivia, Hank Borowy is the last pitcher to win a World Series game for the Cubs, getting the win in a twelve inning Game 6, at Wrigley.
Hank Borowy

            So in analyzing the regular season performances, the overall pitching rankings, which coincide in rankings to their performance compared to the rest of the league were:

            AL                                                                   NL
Hal Newhouser           DET                            Harry Brecheen           STL
Roger Wolff                WAS                           Hank Wyse                 CHI
Dutch Leonard            WAS                           Red Barrett                 STL
Steve Gromek             CLE                            Claude Passeau           CHI
Al Benton                   DET                            Nick Strincevich         PIT
            (For comparison, Borowy in 15 games with the Cubs, would be at the top of the NL list)

            And in comparing against the rest of their team, the rankings are:
            AL                                                                   NL
Boo Ferriss                  BOS                            Bucky Walters            CIN
Russ Christopher         PHI                             Andy Karl                   PHI
Thornton Lee              CHI                             Van Lingle Mungo      NY
Hal Newhouser           DET                            Nick Strincevich         PIT
Steve Gromek             CLE                            Harry Brecheen           STL
            (Borowy would place third in the NL if he qualified)

            And finally combining the league and team performances, the total number rankings for the pitchers are:
            AL                                                                   NL
Hal Newhouser           DET                            Harry Brecheen           STL
Roger Wolff                WAS                           Bucky Walters                        CIN
Boo Ferriss                  BOS                            Nick Strincevich         PIT
Steve Gromek             CLE                            Red Barrett                 STL
Thornton Lee              CHI                             Hank Wyse                 CHI
            (Borowy would place first in the NL, with the highest overall score. He finished    11-2 with a 2.13 ERA with the Cubs.

            Looking at the offensive side of the numbers, the overall numbers, and league numbers also match, so the rankings are as follows:
            AL                                                                   NL
Nick Etten                   NY                              Tommy Holmes           BOS
Snuffy Stirnweiss       NY                              Phil Cavaretta             CHI
Roy Cullenbine           DET                            Dixie Walker               BKL
Jeff Heath                   CLE                            Luis Olmo                   BKL
Vern Stephens             STL                             Augie Galan                BKL

            (Hank Greenburg would have placed 1st in the AL if he had enough qualifying at bats)

Hank Greenberg

And versus their team's average:
            AL                                                                   NL
Jeff Heath                   CLE                            Frank McCormick       CIN
Vern Stephens             STL                             Dain Clay                    CIN
Roy Cullenbine           DET                            Al Libke                      CIN
Bobby Estalella           PHI                             Eddie Miller                CIN
Lou Boudreau             CLE                            Steve Mesner              CIN
            (Greenburg would place first on this list as well)

            And the final combination numbers are:
Jeff Heath                   CLE                            Tommy Holmes           BOS
Roy Cullenbine           DET                            Phil Cavaretta             CHI
Vern Stephens             STL                             Frank McCormick       CIN
Nick Etten                   NY                              Dixie Walker               BKL
Snuffy Stirnweiss       NY                              Whitey Kurowski        STL
            (And Greenburg would be the top in the AL as well)                       

            The abundance of Reds on the offensive side plays out, since the Reds had the second most potent offense, and the second worse pitching staff in the league.    

            So, combining the overall rankings into one, with pitchers and hitters together, this is the way a theoretical vote for post season honors would be from me...
            AL                                                                   NL
Hal Newhouser           DET                            Tommy Holmes           BOS
Jeff Heath                   CLE                            Phil Cavaretta             CHI
Roy Cullenbine           DET                            Harry Brecheen           STL
Vern Stephens             STL                             Bucky Walters                        CIN
Boo Ferriss                  BOS                            Frank McCormick       CIN

            Newhouser was the AL MVP, going 25-9 with a 1.81 ERA in 313 1/3 innings. He got a decision on 34 of the 40 games he pitched in, 36 starts in all, with 29 complete games.
            Phil Cavaretta was the NL MVP had a slash line of 6/97/.355 with 94 runs scored. Tommy Holmes finished with a 28/117/.352 and 125 runs scored, for a Boston Braves team that finished in seventh place.
            Cavaretta was responsible for creating 1.40 runs per game, while Holmes was at 1.39. Dixie Walker led the league with a 1.42 runs created per game. Cavaretta won the award, but I would have given Holmes the nod. Of course, it's 70 years worth of 20/20 hindsight makes it easy to say, and I have tried my best to prove it.
Tommy Holmes

Phil Cavaretta

Hal Newhouser

            The misunderstood star referenced in the title concerns Canadian Jeff Heath, of the Cleveland Indians. Heath's slash lines were 15/61/.305 with 60 runs in 103 games played. This is the second reference to Mr. Heath made in this blog, as he had a underrated year in 1941 as well, far overshadowed by Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. His production was hampered by a holdout until early June.
            Misunderstood inasmuch as he was blamed for the Indian team 'uprising' in 1940, his second full season in the major leagues. In 1939, his rookie season, he went 12/112/.343 with 104 runs scored, one of the more impressive debuts of that era. His production dropped in 1940, following his first holdout, he rebounded in 1941 to hit 24/120/.340 with 89 runs scored. In fact, he was the first American League player to hit 20 or more doubles, triples and home runs in the same season that year.
            He was by accounts moody, and quirky, and prone to bursts of violent temper. He had the markings of a Hall of Famer early in his career, but wasn't able to provide the consistency that would keep him in the upper echelon of the baseball elites.
            He rebounded (and matured) in 1948 when at age 33, he hit 20/76/.319 and almost made it to the World Series that year, only to badly break his ankle during the last week of the season.
            He retired with a very respectable .293 batting average, with 194 career homers.
Jeff Heath

            But oh, what might have been.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

2015 Season's Best

            The numbers are in, and crunched. Analysis done and reviewed. So what do the numbers tell us?

            Well, before we go into the numbers, let's look at a few things that have come up in the past couple of weeks involving players value to their teams. namely, Yoenis Cespedes, David Price and Cole Hamels, and the impact they made on the playoff runs for their new teams.
            None of these players had enough time spent with their new teams to qualify for statistical titles, but if I remove that parameter, and crunch the numbers, I get a good feel for their impact on their teams.
            Hamels won 7 games for the Rangers, including their clincher, in just 12 games. He had a respectable 3.66 ERA, and had a season rating of 1.7061. A nice number, and his overall rating comes in at a 1.4954, which is another nice number. That ranked him the highest among the Ranger pitchers for the year.
            Price won 9 for the Jays, in 11 games, had a 2.30 ERA with them, on his way to leading the league with a 2.45and a season rating of 2.5406, which puts his overall rating at 1.9346. If we compare his Tiger season numbers, which are 1.7705 and 1.6583 overall, we can see that his very good season with the Tigers (9 wins for them also) became stellar after his trade.
            And lastly, Cespedes, whom many believe pumped up the Mets offens upon his arrival from Detroit, earning a season rating of 2.1054 and an overall rating of 1.6095. There is no denying the impact that his presence in the Mets lineup had...but what of his value.
            There is an over reliance to look at statistics to analyze player performances. That's what this project is all about in fact. But sometimes, there are things that cannot be reduced to raw numbers. Some things just have to be watched to see what impact that players really have.
            The three mentioned above all had an impact on their teams with their additions, but what impact does subtractions have?
            Justin Verlander and Giancarlo Stanton both lost a lot of time this year to injuries, and no doubt would have changed the course of their team's respective destiny's. It is not a stretch to say that a full year from Verlander means that Detroit is in a better position, and doesn't have to shop and/or trade David Price or Yoenis Cespedes. Or that the Marlins would have made a playoff run to challenge the Mets and the Nationals throughout the spring.
            But, that's why they play the games. Anything can happen
            Yadier Molina's thumb injury should be a concern to Cardinals fans, as it will definitely impact his performance on the field. But it won't affect his presence in the dugout and clubhouse. So their playoff campaign will be intersting to watch. As I said in yesterday's column, I think that his injury will hurt the Cardinals chances, as it slowed them down at season's end.

            OK, we're almost to the big reveal. I will first divulge the top 10 offensive players in the season rating, bottom to top, in each league:
            (for hitters, I used 400 plate appearances as a minimum)

            NL                                                                               AL
10. Ryan Braun, MIL                                                 Eric Hosmer, KC
9. Kris Bryant, CHI                                                    Brian McCann, NY
8. Joey Votto, CIN                                                     Mike Trout, LA
7. Anthony Rizzo, CHI                                              Lorenzo Cain, KC
6. A.J. Pollock, ARI                                                   Russell Martin, TOR
5. Andrew McCutcheon, PIT                                     Chris Davis, BAL
4. Buster Posey, SF                                                     Miguel Cabrera, DET
3. Nelson Arrenado, COL                                          Edwin Encarnacion, TOR
2. Paul Goldschmitt, ARI                                           Jose Bautista, TOR
1. Bryce Harper, WAS                                                Josh Donaldson, TOR

            And in pitching, we'll do the top 7. (For pitchers, I used a 150 IP minimum, or 50 Games pitched for relievers)

7. Jacob deGrom, NY                                                 Zach Britton, BAL
6. Hector Rondon, CHI                                              Andrew Miller, NY
5. Madison Bumgarner, SF                                         Felix Hernandez, SEA
4. Clayton Kershaw, LA                                             Sonny Gray, OK
3. Gerrit Cole, PIT                                                      Wade Davis, KC
2. Zack Grienke, LA                                                   David Price, DET & TOR
1. Jake Arrieta, CHI                                                    Dallas Keuchel, HOU

            So then looking at the overall numbers, and acting as if I have a vote, this would be my ballot for each league, bottom to top

10. Joey Votto                                                             Jose Bautista
9. Buster Posey                                                           Lorenzo Cain
8. Nelson Arrenado                                                     Nelson Cruz
7. Max Scherzer                                                          Dallas Keuchel
6. Michael Wacha                                                       Jose Abreu
5. Paul Goldschmitt                                                    Miguel Cabrera
4. Gerrit Cole                                                              Chris Davis
3. Zack Grienke                                                          Josh Donaldson
2. Bryce Harper                                                           Mike Trout
1. Jake Arrieta                                                             David Price

            There are some that don't believe a pitcher should win the MVP award, so if you're one of them, flip the 1st and 2nd picks.

            But this is my list, in my opinion, based on my numerical formulas, of the best performances that we have just witnessed in 2015.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


So, the regular season has ended, and the playoffs are beginning in just a few hours. It's time to look back at the season, and look ahead to what October baseball should bring.

First of all, I think that the Tigers should get some credit for 'catering' the post season run of both the Mets and the Blue Jays. Cespedes and Price sure made an impact on their new teams.

The final power rankings are in, and are:
  1. Pirates
  2. Cardinals
  3. Blue Jays
  4. Cubs
  5. Royals
  6. Mets
  7. Dodgers
  8. Astros
  9. Yankees
  10. Giants

The Pirates finally caught the Cardinals for the top spot in the power rankings. They were the #10 tam in offensive rankings, buoyed by their ability to create runs using 'small ball'. While they were 4th in the league in runs created, they led the league in hit batsmen, were 4th in Sac Flies and 3rd in sacrifice hits.
The Cardinals wavered at the end of the season, partly because they clinched the title earlier than the other teams, and partly because they lost Yadier Molina at the end of the season to a thumb injury. How that thumb heals will be the question this post season.

As I see it, relying on the formula, the playoffs should go as follows;

Astros over the Yankees Pirates over the Cubs

Toronto over Texas Mets over the Dodgers
Royals over the Astros Pirates over the Cardinals

Toronto over the Royals Pirates over the Mets

We'll see how good these predictions are, based solely on the numbers.

I will wait a few days before divulging whom should win what awards...Meanwhile, enjoy October baseball!

Have a look at this book, it is one of the best I have seen and read in a long time...