Blog Archives

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – April 2, 2014

Photos: Corey Sipkin, NY Daily News / Marcio Jose Sanchez, Chronicle Herald

Photos: Corey Sipkin, NY Daily News / Marcio Jose Sanchez, Chronicle Herald

The Yankees get bombed, Instant Replay has some glitches and A’s pitcher Sean Doolittle fools me, your pal Sully, on a national scale.

That and more on today’s episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast. Read the rest of this entry

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – January 16, 2014

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

The Oscar nominations came out and another obsession of mine is touched upon during The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

This year’s Oscar race could be wide open, much like the 2014 American League.

To subscribe to The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast on iTunes, click HERE.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – January 16, 2014

There Will Never Be Another 300 Game Winner

Saturday October 27th, 2012

Luke Whitecotton (Guest Writer):  

Let me thrown four names out there: Cy Young, Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine. What do these guys have in common? Two are Hall of Famers and two more are on their way. All were big game money pitchers. And most importantly, they are all 300 game winners.

Will we ever see another 300 game winner in baseball? Quite frankly, I don’t think we will.

Now don’t get me wrong, as a fan I would love to see it happen again in my lifetime. It would bring me almost as much pure joy as watching Greg Maddux pitch in his prime. As part of my analysis, I looked squarely at the odds and stats to determine the difficulty level of reaching that plateau in this day and age in baseball. Jamie Moyer, who will turn 50 in November, has 269 wins. Roy Halladay, who is 35 years old, has 199 wins. Andy Pettitte, who is 40 years old, has 245 wins in his career. You can see where I am going with this, as for some of these guys to keep pitching at the required level to reach the golden 300 mark is just too big of an obstacle to overcome. Just a little note by the way, Nolan Ryan was 43 years old and was considered one of the most durable pitchers ever. When you consider what Ryan had to do to win 300, you really start to feel the force that these star pitchers are up against. Read the rest of this entry

Alex Rodriguez: Ready for 2013

Thursday October 25th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  Over the past couple of years, Alex Rodriguez has been a Yankee disappointment. For the humongous 10-year $275 million contract that he is signed to, his production should be a lot more than hitting .272 with 16 home runs and 57 RBIs. A-Rod was injured for a bit and played in only 122 games this year, but come on—someone with that type of contract should drive in 100 runs every year. Rodriguez is signed through 2017, so his contract is not one that another team would be excited to take on. Not by a long shot.

The Yankees will likely be paying Rodriguez the majority (or all) of the rest of his contract (no team in its right mind would trade for Rodriguez without making the Yankees pay for him). So at the end of the day, I think the Yankees will keep him. Without a much better option at third base (Eric Chavez), the Yankees will be forced to use Rodriguez. Although there is a lot of pressure put on Rodriguez and the Yankees after getting swept by the Tigers in the ALCS to end the season, the dust will eventually settle. This will provide Rodriguez with the environment he needs to make his comeback.

Read the rest of this entry

The Robert Whitmer 5-Point Plan to Fix the Yankees

Tuesday October 23rd, 2012

Robert Whitmer:  If I gave you 196 million dollars and told you that you could take that money and build a baseball team out of that money and get whoever you wanted, who would you get?  If we take the bottom 10 teams in regards to payroll in baseball, take their best player at the eight field positions, pitcher and closer, who would we get?

Oakland A’s: Yoenis Cespedes (OF) $6.5 million

San Diego Padres: Chase Headley (3rd Base) $3.475 million

Houston Astros: Jose Altuve (2nd Base) $483,000 million

K.C. Royals: Alex Gordon (OF) $6 million

Pittsburgh Pirates: Andrew McCutchen (OF) $708,333

Tampa Bay Rays: David Price (SP) $5.2 million

Cleveland Indians: Asdrubal Cabrera (SS) $4.55 million

Arizona Diamondbacks: J.J. Putz (CL) $4.5 million

Toronto Blue Jays: J.P. Arencibia (C) $489,600

Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto (1st Base) $11.4 million Read the rest of this entry

The Legacy of Chris Carpenter: Savior in St. Louis

Thursday October 18th, 2012

Chris Carpenter started his career in Toronto after being the 15th overall selection in the 1994 draft. After the 2001 season, the Toronto Blue Jays made a calculated decision not to offer Carpenter a major league contract. He elected for free agency, rather than pitching in the minors for Toronto, and his legacy in St. Louis began when the Cardinals picked him up.

Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Writer):

The legend of Chris Carpenter started as a 19-year-old pitching for the Medicine Hat Blue Jays in 1994.  He was the 15th overall pick by the World Series Champion Toronto Blue Jays in the 1993 draft.  He was a physical specimen built to stand atop a 9.5” hill and stare down at hitters as they stared back at his 6 foot, 6 inch frame.  Drafted out of Manchester, New Hampshire, the 19-year-old already had a plus fastball and a nice curveball.  By 1997, at the age of 22, Chris Carpenter had broken into the Toronto Blue Jays rotation and was pitching against the best hitters in the world.

As a mid-season call up in 1997, Carpenter struggled in Toronto, hosting an ERA above 5.00 and a record of 3-7 over 13 games.  His role in Toronto was mostly to eat innings, and he was there to gain experience and hopefully blossom into what the Blue Jays brass new head could be.  He was in a rotation that consisted of the 1996 AL Cy Young winner Pat Hentgen, as well as the 1997 AL Cy Young winner Roger Clemens, so he had some serious  mentors to help guide him on breaking into the big leagues.  Despite his amazing talent, Carpenter struggled for most of his first season in Toronto and was eventually moved into the bullpen.  In 1998 however, he emerged and gave everyone at least a glimpse  of what would eventually come of Chris Carpenter, while proving himself to already be a competent starter capable of winning games.  He led the Toronto Blue Jays (tied with Pat Hentgen) with 12 wins in 1998, and continued to pitch well into 1999…at least until he became cursed by a spell of injuries. Read the rest of this entry

Detroit is One Game Away from the World Series

Wednesday October 17th, 2012

Sam Evans: In the first three games of a thrilling ALCS, Detroit showed its dominance over the New York Yankees. In fact, even though the Yankees still technically have a chance, World Series tickets at Comerica Park go on sale Wednesday morning… and Tigers fans should be ready to use them. Detroit has been led by the outstanding performances of Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, and Delmon Young. With Game Four coming up tonight, here’s a quick look at how Detroit has managed to win the first three games, what’s gone wrong with the Yankees, and what lies ahead for both of these teams. Read the rest of this entry

2012 World Series Predictions: Tigers and Cardinals Will Meet Again in October

Monday October 15th, 2012

Sam Evans: With the Championship Series just beginning, predicting the two teams that will face off in the World Series has never been easier. Still, the teams playing in the ALCS and NLCS right now are pretty evenly matched so it’s still difficult to see which two will advance. Due to their momentum and great ability to come back, St. Louis will prevail over San Francisco in the NL. Due to their outstanding pitching staff and Miguel Cabrera being on his current tear, Detroit has a slight advantage over New York in the American League. Even if these predictions go horribly wrong, the one thing we can be certain of is that these two series are going to include some thrilling games played between some of the best teams in baseball. Read the rest of this entry

Orioles vs. Yankees: Curse of Maier May Be Over

Wednesday October 10th, 2012

The last time the Yankees and Orioles met in Postseason play was in 1996. The Orioles lost that series, and a lot of fingers were pointed at the controversial home run caught young fan, Jeffrey Maier. The Orioles postseason fate may be different this time around against the Bronx Bombers.

Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Writer):

The last time the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees met in the playoffs was in 1996 in the ALCS.  Like in 2012, Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter were on the Yankees roster.  The Orioles boasted a lineup that consisted of Rafael Palmeiro, Roberto Alomar, Cal Ripken Jr., B.J Surhoff, and Brady Anderson—who was having a career year.  That lineup, along with a rotation consisting of Mike Mussina and Scott Erickson and Jimmy Key, gave Baltimore an imposing roster that the Camden Faithful could expect to make a playoff run.

15 years later we see a tale that is much more of a David and Goliath story. The Orioles have not been in the playoff’s since 1997 and have finished 5th place in the AL East for the last 4 consecutive seasons.  The Yankees, conversely, have made the postseason 17 out of the last 18 seasons.  After getting off to a hot start, the Orioles made a trade for future Hall of Famer, Jim Thome, to help add some pop and veteran leadership to their lineup.  Even later in the season, when the team still found themselves in serious contention for October baseball, they called up 20-year-old phenom Manny Machado, who wasn’t even alive when Jim Thome took his first swing in the Major League.  Now, Manny Machado finds himself playing on the same field as his childhood hero, Alex Rodriguez. Read the rest of this entry

Wild Weekend Of Division Series Brings Plenty Of Surprises

Monday October 8th, 2012

Jake Dal Porto: Now that the division series are into full swing, it’s time to take a look at the status of each of the four series from both leagues.

Surprisingly, the road teams went 6-2, despite the weird playoff format which has the top seed playing two road games before heading home for three.

Here are the results:

American League

Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics

It wasn’t a good weekend for Bay Area teams. The A’s lost a heartbreaker early Sunday morning, and the Giants ended the evening with a loss (more on that later). Read the rest of this entry

MLB Reports Monthly Power Rankings: September 2012

Monday, September.3/2012

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):   To say that this year has been a good year for baseball is an humongous understatement.  I thought after last years finish, that nothing was going to duplicate the experience.  Everyone forgets (or maybe not) that there should not even have been many races last year with Atlanta and Boston having such substantial leads on playoff spots.  The Red Sox and Braves collapsed like a couple of bowling pins with King Kong Bundy splashing down on them!  

This year, there are 15 teams still vying for 10 playoff spots.  So far the only probable locks are Washington for a playoff spot-and Cincinnati to probably win their division  The player races for all of the categories is almost as fascinating.  Will Andrew McCutcheon catch Melky Cabrera for the Batting title? Or will 2012 be forever cemented in baseball folklore by a stained player like Cabrera?  He could still end up determining who wins the World Series in the Fall Classic by his Testosterone filled antics in his MVP ALL-Star Game.  The big question is, will the San Francisco Giants fans cheer for him if he comes back in the playoffs?  They cheered for another league leader before when it was obvious he was guilty.  Right now if you are the Giants, you will take an opportunity to boo or cheer for Cabrera because that means you would  be in the playoffs.

Will the spending happy Dodgers have to wait another year to capitalize on their new plan to make the playoffs? If they ultimately  miss the playoffs outright, are they going to buy every player they can in the off-season?  I sure hope Magic knows that there are Luxury Tax penalties for spending over 178 Million Next Year.  1st year fine is 22.5%, 2nd year is 30%, 3rd year and beyond is 40%.  So if they plan on having a 250 Million Dollar Payroll in 2013 (by adding 2 or 3 more top Free Agents) will the Dodgers just forego the worry of any financial penalties on a yearly basis– just to dominate the whole National League (plus baseball for that matter.) Every other team has to consider the urgency in cashing out a World Series right now while the Dodgers have not had a full off season with the new management yet.  Can Oakland and their ‘New Money Ball philosophy’ make it to the playoffs for the first time since 2006? 

The Best Players over the last month were:  Buster Posey, Prince Fielder, Giancarlo Stanton, Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton, Yovani Gallardo, Kris Medlen, Adam Wainwright, Aroldis Chapman and Felix Hernandez.  The best teams have been Oakland, Washington, San Francisco, San Diego, Baltimore and Texas.  The worst teams have been Houston (at least its better to go down hard and stockpile #1 Draft Picks guys.)  I have a feeling you will be there for a while with the division you are heading into and may even challenge the 120 Loss Single Season Record.  At least you are not going into the NL West  to compete with the LA Dodgers!  The Cleveland Indians have fallen to an epic drop-off as well.  Toronto misses their top sluggers.  What has happened to the Minnesota Twins? The Mets have ownership and payroll problems, so at least they have an excuse.  Plus they lead the world in guys being hurt.  When David Wright has been your healthiest player, you know the season has been backwards!  So sit back, get your notebook and popcorn ready for this Month’s Rankings! Read the rest of this entry

The New York Yankees Are Back Folks!

Friday June 29th, 2012

John Burns:  As July approaches, the New York Yankees have one of the best records in baseball with a record of 46-29.

One of the main reasons for the great play of New York has been the long ball, which the Yankees lead all of baseball with a team total of 118 homers. Curtis Granderson (21 HR), Robinson Cano (18 HR), Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez (13 HR each) have shown the most power for NY this season so far, but really the majority of the lineup has been fairly steady al year for this team. Read the rest of this entry

Ask the Reports: ATR Answers Your Baseball Questions – April 9th, 2012

Monday April 9th, 2012



Jonathan Hacohen:  Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@me.com, message us on Twitter and post on our Facebook Wall!

Let’s get to your top questions of the week:


Q:  My question this week is about young pitchers. Do you see any of today’s young pitchers winning 300 games in their lifetime? Thanks in advance.  Larry

MLB reports:  Hello Larry! Great opening question by our #1 fan.  To win 300 games in the big leagues, a pitcher needs to pitch for approximately 20 seasons and win 15 games per year. A difficult, but not impossible task. Many factors come into play. Good health. Consistent performances. Run support. Backed by a strong bullpen. If a pitcher can achieve most of these factors, 300 wins is do-able. By my count, I can only see a handful of current pitchers having a shot at the big 3-0-0-. Jamie Moyer. 33 wins away. He could go 3-4 more years with his rubber arm. If he wins 8-10 games per year…could happen. Unlikely, but he has at least a 15% chance. Roy Halladay. 189 wins with at least 5 good years left in him. He will definitely do it. Justin Verlander has 107 wins and possibly 10 more years- he could do it. C.C. Sabathia is the only other fairly sure bet that I have. 176 wins at age 31. Pitching for the Yankees and going deep into games, C.C. will do it. So yes- we will still see 300 games winners in Major League Baseball. But they will be rare occurrences. Read the rest of this entry

Why MLB Fans Love to Hate the Yankees

Sunday April 1st, 2012

Sam Evans: It’s no surprise that the most popular MLB franchise is also the most despised. For every person who hates the New York Yankees (aka “The Evil Empire”), there’s a person who claims to be a die-hard Yankees fan. The Yankees sell more merchandise than any other MLB team, and their consistent performance on the field is unmatched. Nonetheless, they have the highest payroll in baseball and they toss large contracts to steal talented players from small-market teams. Personally, I hate the Yankees and here are a couple of reasons why.

For over twenty years, the Yankees have dominated free agency. In the last five years, the Yankees’ major free agent acquisitions include Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, Russell Martin, and Hiroki Kuroda. For comparison, over the last five years the Royals big free agent signings include Gil Meche, Jose Guillen, and an ancient Jason Kendall. There’s a common argument among baseball fans that the Yankees don’t develop players themself, they just buy other teams’ superstars. This isn’t exactly true as proven by Yankees regulars Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter. However, the reality is that the Yankees do steal some of the game’s best talent by offering them enormous contracts. Read the rest of this entry

Memo to Brian Cashman: “Time to Trade A.J. Burnett”

Saturday February 11th 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  I have been working on this note to Mr. Cashman that I wanted to share with you today. Partially because I haven’t really been working on this note for very long. Also, I never actually planned to send it to the Yankees GM. From the sounds of his current state of affairs, Brian has his hands full and probably would not have much time to read my message. But considering the marriage of the New York Yankees and A.J. Burnett, I think a resolution is needed. Immediately. My solution? Let’s read the letter and find out: (more…)

Can the Yankees Win It All in 2012?

Sunday January 22nd, 2012

Sam Evans: Last year, the Yankees won 97 games in the talented American League East. 97 wins was enough for the Yankees to win the division and guarantee themselves home field advantage in the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Yankees, they ran into the Tigers and their superb pitching staff. The Yankees long season came to a early close when the underdog Tigers took three out of five from New York in the ALDS. Now, with only a couple of new faces on a veteran roster, the Yankees will try yet again in 2012 to return to the World Series.

If the Yankees win the World Series, it will be with their veterans leading the way. The average age of the Yankees Opening Day lineup will be 32. This might be something that Yankees GM Brian Cashman should be worried about in the future, but not especially in 2012. Position by position, the Yankees are one of the strongest teams in baseball. Their weak spots are obvious, but let’s see how they stack up against the other teams in the A.L. East.

Catcher: Russell Martin: Martin struggled in 2011. He had a 57 wRC and hit only .237 in 125 games. Part of his offensive struggles were due to a .252 BABIP; but the reality is that he has never been able to play at the level he did in 2007. For 2012, Martin should play five days a week with Francisco Cervelli getting the other starts. I love watching Cervelli play because of his competitive grittiness. If he could learn how to hit, he’d be one of the best catchers in the league. Overall, the Yankees catchers aren’t very good. Luckily for them, they have top prospect catchers Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine on the way. In two years, the Yankees will have some of the best catchers in the league.

Rank at the Catcher position out of A.L. East teams: 3 out of 5

First base: Mark Teixeira: Tex had just an average 2011. He is still one of the best offensive and defensive first basemen in the American League. Teixeira hit .248 with 39 home runs. A lot of his bad average was due to his miniscule BABIP ( .239)- which compared to Matt Kemp‘s .380 BABIP, shows how unfortunate Teixeira was. Teixeira should see some of his numbers get back to where they were before last year.

Rank at the First Base position out of A.L. East teams: 2 out of 5

Second Base: Robinson Cano: Robinson Cano wasn’t ever considered a highly touted prospect, but he never failed at any level the Yankees had him at. Ever since Cano was called up in 2005, he has been morphing into a perennial All-Star. 2011 was a great year for Cano. He won a Silver Slugger award, the Home Run Derby and he was the second best hitter in a loaded Yankees lineup. In 2012, Cano could improve his defense and keep producing offensively, in order to improve as a player and possibly become the best second baseman in the game.

Rank at the Second Base position out of A.L. East teams: (A close) 2 out of 5

Shortstop: Derek Jeter: Derek Jeter has seen his overall production plummet in the last two years. He had a solid second half in 2011, but you have to wonder how many more years he’ll be the Yankees starting shortstop. There’s no question that the thirty-seven year old will be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer one day. However, there will be a time when the Yankees need to find a new shortstop… and that time is coming soon. 2012 could be Jeter’s last year at the position, and I’m sure he’d like nothing more than another World Series championship.

Rank at the shortstop position among A.L. East teams: 3 out of 5

Third Base: Alex Rodriguez: As much as I can’t stand him, A-Rod is one of the best players in baseball. The only thing that has kept Rodriguez from numerous MVP awards is his health. He hit 16 homers in 99 games in 2011. This offseason, A-Rod went to Germany to have an experimental procedure done on his knee. In the NBA, Kobe did a similar thing, in going to Germany receive some sort of voodoo procedure on his knee. He came back feeling rejuvenated with a new healed knee. I’m not sure that the surgery will work for Alex Rodriguez, but if it does- it could add a year or two to his career. If A-Rod is healthy this year, the Yankees will have a huge boost to their lineup.

Rank at the hot corner amongst A.L. East teams: 2 out of 5

Corner Outfield: Nick Swisher: Nick Swisher is known as one of the most likeable and funny players in the league. The one time Oakland Athletic has been a solid outfielder for the Yankees the last three years. Swisher got off to a rough start in 2011. He hit only .213 up until June, causing Yankees fans to wonder if they would need to trade for a new outfielder. Then all of a sudden, Swisher starting making solid contact and he hit .326 and .323 in the coming months. Swisher is a solid outfielder who is capable of hitting .260 with 25 homers and ninety walks in the coming year.

Corner Outfield: Brett Gardner: Gardner is one of the best players on the Yankees, but he never seems to get enough recognition. The pesky outfielder played resplendent defense and posted 5.1 WAR last year. He stole 49 bases in 2011, and in 2012 he should get the steal sign from his coaches more often. The biggest mistake the Yankees could make would be to trade Gardner away.

Rank among other A.L. East Corner Outfielder pairs: 1st out of 5

Center Field: Curtis Granderson: The ” Grandy Man” has become one of New York’s most beloved players in recent memory. Granderson had a bounce back year in 2011, hitting 41 home runs. Granderson’s contract has a team option in 2013, which they Yankees will most likely pick up. For 2012, Granderson probably won’t hit forty home runs again, but he could easily take advantage of the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium and hit 30 to 35 bombs.

Rank among other A.L. East Center Fielders: 2nd out of 5

Rotation: C.C. Sabathia is one of the best pitchers in the games and the perfect candidate to lead the Yankees pitching staff. With his large frame, it should come as no surprise that Sabathia has thrown over 180 innings eleven straight years. Sabathia showed no signs of age last year. He posted a 2.88 FIP and struck out 230 batters during the regular season. Sabathia’s 2011 WAR ( 7.1), was worth over $32.2 million according to fangraphs. Sabathia is set to make $23 million in 2012. So while it might not look like it, the Yankees are actually getting a bargain for Sabathia’s production.

A week ago, the Yankees traded their most promising young bat (Jesus Montero) for Michael Pineda. The Yankees are betting that Pineda will evolve into a top of the rotation arm for years to come. Pineda is by no means a complete pitcher. He has an above-average fastball and slider, but his changeup is below par. The impressive thing about Pineda is that he’s already learned how to control his pitches and he demonstrates great command. If he wants to take his game to the next level, then he is going to have to improve his changeup.

On the same day the Yankees acquired Pineda, they also signed former Dodger Hiroki Kuroda to a 1 year, $10 million deal. This is a low risk deal for a team with such a high payroll. Kuroda didn’t come cheap, but this looks like a solid acquisition for the Yankees. In 2011, Kuroda had a 3.07 ERA in thirty-two starts. His numbers might not be as strong moving from a pitcher’s park to the hitter friendly Yankee Stadium. I could see Kuroda struggling somewhat in New York, but he brings much-needed talent to the Yankees rotation.

C.C. Sabathia was the only Yankees pitcher who threw two hundred innings in 2011. The Yankees need their pitchers to work deeper into games, so they don’t have to overwork the bullpen. The back-end of the rotation will be critical for the Yankees success. They have the veterans A.J. Burnett and Freddy Garcia, and then the younger pitchers Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes. Most likely, all of these guys will see time starting in 2012. I think that Nova is the best of the bunch, but Burnett might have a slight advantage for a rotation spot with his huge contract.

Starting Rotation rank out of A.L. East teams: 2nd out of 5. They would’ve been third or fourth without adding Pineda and Kuroda. Adding those pitchers were good moves, since they want to keep up with the best teams in the East.

Bullpen: is as strong as it’s been in years. As all Yankee fans know, Mariano Rivera doesn’t age so he should be ready for another year of closing for NY. David Robertson was last year’s unsung hero out of the Yankees ‘pen. The difference between Robertson in 2011 and the Robertson of old, is simple. In 2011, he increased his fastball velocity. This led to a higher strikeout rate (13.50 K/9 in 2011, 10.42 K/9 in 2010)  and a lower amount of home runs allowed(0.14 HR/9 in 2011, 0.73 HR/9 in 2010).

The Yankees bullpen should also include Joba Chamberlain, who fell into a nice groove as the Yanks 7th inning man last year before falling to Tommy John surgery, should be back.  He will face competition from those pitchers who lose the race to become the Yankees’ fifth starter. Dellin Betances, considered by most as one of the Yankees top prospects, might see more innings this year as a long reliever. The loss of Noesi will hurt, but the Yankees have the pieces in place to trade midseason for extra bullpen help as they have done in the past.

Bullpen Rank out of A.L East Teams: 2nd out of 5

With a loaded team and a smart General Manager who knows how to operate a large payroll, Manager Joe Girardi should led the Yankees back to the playoffs in 2012. There are not very many teams that can compete with this Yankees offense… and if Pineda and Kuroda thrive in New York, they will have a very solid rotation. Yankees fans have a lot to be excited about for the upcoming year. But then again, don’t they always?

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter***

 

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Wins Above Replacement (WAR): Analyzing MLB Statistics using Sabermetrics

Wednesday January 11th, 2012

 

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): Although WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is not the best of the sabermetric stats for fantasy baseball purposes, it has certainly transformed the way in which we can truly understand a given major league baseball player’s contribution (or lack there of) to his team. WAR attempts to epitomize a player’s total value in one sole statistic, taking into account both the offensive and defensive aspects of the game. FanGraphs (the sabermetrics bible) aptly describes the essence of WAR: “If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a minor leaguer or someone from their bench, how much value would the team be losing.” A player is measured in “Wins” for a season (i.e. 3.4), while an average full-time player is worth 2 wins and a replacement player represents 0 wins. Furthermore an average staring pitcher is worth 2.0 WAR, while 1.0 WAR represents a strong season for a relief pitcher.  

Here are the 2011 leaders in WAR:

Batting

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury – 9.4

  2. Matt Kemp – 8.7

  3. Jose Bautista – 8.3

  4. Dustin Pedroia – 8.0

  5. Ryan Braun – 7.8

  6. Ian Kinsler – 7.7

  7. Miguel Cabrera – 7.3

  8. Curtis Granderson 7.0

  9. Alex Gordon 6.9

  10. Joey Votto 6.9


Pitching

  1. Roy Halladay – 8.2

  2. C.C. Sabathia – 7.1

  3. Justin Verlander – 7.0

  4. Clayton Kershaw – 6.8

  5. Cliff Lee – 6.7

  6. Dan Haren

  7. C.J. Wilson – 6.4

  8. Jered Weaver – 5.9

  9. Doug Fister – 5.6

  10. Felix Hernandez – 5.6


The statistic actually defines a player’s value, something that MVP (Most Valuable Players) voters should perhaps consider come each October. For batters, the stat itself is calculated by taking into account two stats: wRAA (Weighted Runs Above Average) and UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), which represent a batter’s offensive and defensive values, respectively. Pitching WAR replaces these two sabermetric stats with FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), a stat that normalizes ERA for the “uncontrollable,” in conjunction with numbers of innings pitched. The Uncontrollable refers to what happens after the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand, because obviously pitchers have almost no control over the balls that are in play. They are ultimately at the mercy of their defense.

Fangraphs site the formula for FIP as the following:

FIP: ((13*HR)+(3*(BB+HBP-IBB))-(2*K))/IP + constant

If you are unfamiliar with Sabermetrics and WAR, this should feel like a mix between learning a foreign language and a calculus problem. However, don’t let this intimidate you. Spend some time on FanGraphs (It’s okay take it slowly) and it will change the way in which you think about the game of baseball. Please note that Baseball Reference has a slightly different formula/method to calculate WAR.

The beauty of WAR, however, is that it not only takes in account a player’s defensive skills (using UZR), but also the difficulty of the position. Therefore, someone like Dustin Pedroia at second base is significantly more valuable than a slugging Prince Fielder, at the first base position where power and production is demanded. Perhaps that is why Fielder is still fielding offers and has not landed a contract within his desired range. Not too shabby of statistic for a General Manager, huh? My hope is that this analysis paints the complexity of WAR and the many factors used to determine the number of wins that a player is ultimately worth to his team.

Let it be clear that by no means is WAR perfect. From a rather cynical standpoint, the very philosophy of WAR, which is calculated with so many components, professes that you cannot use one sole determinant to measure a player’s value. Furthermore, the positional adjustment numbers are the most arbitrary difficult to calculate. Can we really determine that a Center Fielder, due to difficulty to play the position itself, is worth 1.5 more wins than a first baseman? It is also difficult to determine the UZR for a first baseman, a position in which success is defined less by range and more by the ability to field throws. Paul Konerko certainly does not have great range, but he is universally regarded as one of the league’s top defensive first baseman, most likely saving Alexei Ramirez a handful of errors each season. Likewise, you cannot measure range for catchers, which use the fielding component of Stolen Base Runs Saved (rSB).  We also know that much of catcher’s true value is related to his ability to call a smart game (which cannot be measured by any given statistic).

However, from a fantasy perspective, we do not care about defense, and therefore wRAA is a more accurate indicator of offensive output. FIP can be used as well. For example, if a pitcher’s FIP indicates that his defense is frequently letting him down, and said pitcher joins a top rated defensive team; you have acquired knowledge about a player’s ability not represented by the generic stats out there. This is how you will earn surplus value and land the “surprises”, the “bounce-back” players, and avoid the “busts”.

I admit, when I first familiarized myself with FanGraphs, I felt like I was cheating in my fantasy baseball leagues. However, after joining more competitive leagues and with sabermetrics entering the mainstream, I have learned that this only provides a slight advantage. Just as it holds true for every other aspect of life, it is impossible to predict the future in the world of baseball. However, in a game of numbers- only the slightest advantage is needed to set your team apart from the competition.

WAR is a one of a kind stat. It helps us more thoroughly examine a player’s worth, especially when compared to their salary. Ultimately, the stat serves as a good building block to work back from to understand the intricacies and essence of sabermetrics.


***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein).***

 Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

What the Yankees Need to Win the 2012 World Series

Saturday December 17, 2011


Jeff P (Guest Writer – MLB reports):  It was a long season for Yankee fans in 2011, with an abrupt ending to the season with a brutal series loss to the Detroit Tigers in the AL Divisional series. This is even after the Yankees receiving surprising seasons by Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia and the Yankees receiving production from its usual core players. However, in the 2011 season, there were noted declines of several Yankee players. Due to injuries and other factors, one of the biggest culprits  was Alex Rodriguez.  Limited to only 99 games on the season, A-Rod hit 16 homers, with a batting average in the .270 rang. A-Rod’s stats were some of the worst of his career and he was one the big reason the Yankees did not make it far into the 2011 playoffs.

The Yankees have a long path to go to get to the World Series this coming year, especially given that their team remains at a standstill, unexpected to improve greatly from last year. It is not a positive sign that the Yankees rotation will most likely consist of C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia, with a likely spring training knockdown competition between Hector Noesi, A.J. Burnett, Dellin Betances and Phil Hughes for the final two rotation spots.

Both Hughes and Burnett had horrific seasons this past year, while Noesi and Betances were both late season call-ups. Adding to the equation, Ivan Nova might enter a sophomore slump (always a possibility), while Freddy Garcia is unlikely to repeat his astonishing 2011 season.

 The Yankees have very little margin for error going into 2012, which can ruin the chances of them not only winning the World Series, but even making the postseason.  With the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim now serious contenders, the Rays adding a nice hand to the rotation with Matt Moore and the Red Sox players starting to adjust to their new team, it will be a dogfight to the finish in the American League postseason race this upcoming season.  The Yankees will have to play their cards right this year, and not sit back and assume that making the postseason is a given.

 If the Yankees want some rings in 2012, here are several “must do” items for the team to succeed in 2012:

First of all, the Yankees must get rid of A.J. Burnett. For the last two years, Burnett had horrific seasons and should not be given another chance, despite his large contract.  Without Burnett, the Yankees could consider trying a new arm in the rotation, such as Dellin Betances, who is clearly ready for a major league stint. The Yankees this offseason should trade Burnett to a team desperate for a starting pitcher (which should not be difficult given the shallow pool of available talent) and who are willing to give up a useable prospect, which would provide the Yankees with future depth.

Even though it is unlikely, the right thing to do with Joba Chamberlain is to give him a strong opportunity for a comeback season in 2012. I am not saying he should be in the rotation for the season, but he should definitely be given a strong look.  Pitchers often improve after undergoing Tommy John surgery.  Chamberlain left the rotation after the 2009 season, with a stint in the bullpen for the last two seasons. Up to the time of his injury, Chamberlain pitched well in the bullpen, mostly as the seventh inning option. The Yankees are considering Hector Noesi and other rookies for the starting rotation in 2012.  So why not try Joba? Perhaps he will surprise all of us and fulfill the hype that accompanied him since being drafted in the 1st round by the Yankees in 2006.

Another option (although unlikely) is to place Adam Warren in the rotation. He is 24-years-old, and has a powerful fastball in the mid 90′s. His four-seamer can reach 97 mph and could leave major league batters clueless. He has a world of potential, and is ready for a major league stint sooner rather than later.

The Bronx Bombers roster is certainly not set and Brian Cashman needs to search the trade market before his squad will be able to compete for a World Series title. Other teams are considerably high on Eduardo Nunez and the Yankees would be well advised to find a deal involving Eduardo Nunez, Dellin Betances and one of their surplus catching prospects for Gio Gonzalez or similar available starter, who could help provide the Yankees with a balanced and deep rotation.

The Yankees also must keep Montero in New York. Montero had a great stint at the end of the season, and will hopefully continue to provide an offensive spark for the Yankees throughout the 2012 season. Montero is a great offensive force and would make the dangerous  Yankees offense (Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, A-Rod, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano, Russell Martin etc.) that much more powerful.

Lastly, the Yankees must monitor Manny Banuelos‘ status. Handled correctly, Banuelos could be this season’s Nova.  To get through the regular season and then be a force in the 2012 postseason, the Yankees will need to make changes and several decisions as to their roster.  But a successful offseason can minimize the risks and chances for failure in the coming season, by filling critical spots with the right players.  The Yankees have many needs in their offseason to-do list in order to repeat their 2009 performance. If the Yankees play their cards right, the path to World Series #28 could be in sight.

***Today’s feature was prepared by Jeff P, Guest Writer to MLB reports.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Jeff on Twitter.***


Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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