Results tagged ‘ MLB ’
Baseball is considered by many to simply be a game of numbers. Every pitch, every swing, every hit and every run are all kept track of. It’s through these statistics and numbers that fans try to determine which players are superior to the others. Baseball writers also analyze data similarly to determine which players earn individual awards at the end of each season, such as MVP and Cy Young Awards. In the last twenty years or so, there’s a change in figuring out not only what the numbers mean, but also in determining how relevant they are.
Take for instance the game Matt Harvey pitched tonight for the New York Mets. Harvey was completely dominant for nine innings, only allowing one batter to reach base (an infield single with two outs in the 7th inning) while striking out 12 White Sox batters. How does his performance show up in the box score? He’s credited with a no-decision, while Bobby Parnell was given the win. This might not seem like a big deal, but it’s part of a bigger problem.
For people who fall in love with statistics, they’ll often find themselves quick to point out a pitcher’s win-loss record, but that often is one of the worst statistical references to how well a pitcher performed during the course of a season. As was the case with Harvey, if your team doesn’t score any runs, you’ll never be given a win. It seems ironic that the award for best pitcher is named after Cy Young who won 511 games during the course of his career, more than any pitcher in baseball history. What is often forgotten is that he also lost 316 games during his career, which just so happens to also be a record.
It’s very much a debate between the old school versus the new school thought process. In fact, the MLB Network has a show which discusses topics such as this. Watch as Harold Reynolds (ex-Major League Baseball player) debates Brian Kenny (MLB Network host) about whether or not wins are an important statistic.
So what’s the correct way to determine how good or bad a pitcher actually is? There’s plenty of data and statistics which give a better look at how effective a pitcher is. For instance WHIP is an often overlooked statistic (although it is used more now than it ever has before) which shows on average how many walks and hits a pitcher allows per inning pitched. While an average Major League pitcher has a WHIP of just over 1.20, an elite pitcher will find have a WHIP of 1.00 or below. In 2012, Clayton Kershaw of the L.A. Dodgers led all pitchers in MLB with a WHIP of 1.02.
Although there is nothing wrong with looking at statistics, one has to remember that they’re only providing a limited amount of information. Just because a pitcher strikes out a lot of hitters, it doesn’t mean they’re a better pitcher than someone who doesn’t. Similarly, a pitcher’s win-loss record is not indicative of how good a pitcher is either.
Yesterday afternoon the Tigers announced they reached a deal with Jose Valverde, signing their former closer to a minor-league deal. A lot of people made a lot of assumptions about why the Tigers would even think about bringing him back, and others felt this was a sign of Detroit panicking about their current bullpen. Personally, I think it’s a great signing.
For a guy who was listed as one of the top-50 free agents entering the 2012 offseason, Valverde found himself without a team during spring training. He was originally supposed to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, but decided against it due to personal reasons. If Valverde did pitch in the WBC, I feel pretty confident he would have found a contract offer somewhere. Instead, he ended up pitching a showcase for several teams in the Dominican Republic.
The Tigers liked the progress Valverde displayed in those sessions (velocity appeared to be back, plus was throwing several splitters), and decided it was worth giving him a chance to prove he can once again be the type of closer he was from 2010 through the first half of 2012. The best part of this contract is the fact that Valverde is guaranteed absolutely nothing besides a spot in Toledo’s bullpen. Worst case scenario, he opts out of his contract on May 5th (which he is allowed to do if he’s not on the Major League roster by then) and it didn’t cost the Tigers a thing. I’d imagine Detroit won’t even be able to sign Brian Wilson (who is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery) for such a low-risk deal.
My only concern with this deal, is how it will end up hurting the development of Bruce Rondon, who I do believe is the future closer for Detroit. Hopefully the Tigers will be smart enough to give both Rondon and Valverde a chance to develop, that way they’ll be able to figure out which (could also be neither or both) of them will be able to make the Tigers a better team. If that means we get a second helping of the Big Potato, I’m not opposed to it.
Back in October, I had a customer tell me that the Tigers should release Prince Fielder because if we’re paying him that much money, he needs to hit at least one home run every game. When baseball players are making over 20 million dollars a year, a lot of people are convinced that they don’t perform well enough for them to deserve making that kind of money. It got me thinking, what is a baseball player actually worth?
Whenever someone tells me that a baseball player makes too much money (usually the case with top-tier players, not so much rookies), I bring up the argument that actors and celebrities often make a lot more money while doing a lot less work. A top-paid baseball player is likely away from his family for half of the year and is constantly flying from city to city. Am I saying that it’s hard work? No, what I’m saying is that they’re making a much bigger sacrifice than most people realize.
Of course there’s also the aches and pains that come from playing baseball. Players are often rehabbing from surgery or other various operations. It’s almost unfair, but professional baseball players are not only expected to return to 100 percent quickly, but to do so in a very timely fashion. When a player has a surgery (for instance Tommy John), fans are constantly wondering how quickly they’re going to come back. They don’t realize the grueling rehabilitation process that comes with it.
Another thing you should realize is the shelf life for a Major League Baseball player is not very long. In fact, a 2007 study at the University of Colorado showed that on average, a baseball player’s career (position players, not pitchers) only lasts 5.6 years. Based on current minimum salaries, you’re looking at approximately five-million dollars in career earnings. Most people would love to make that much money in their lifetime, let alone over the course of five years. However, you have to realize how incredibly difficult it is to make it the MLB. You’re competing against tens of thousands of the best athletes in the entire world. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
So when you look at the contracts for a guy like Justin Verlander and don’t understand why he’s going to be making 180-million dollars over the next seven years, you need to realize that his case is definitely the exception to the rule. When you’re arguably the best in the world at something, you deserve to be make more than anyone else who does your job. No, it doesn’t always work that way, but it’s hard to argue he’s not deserving or worthy of it. You’re welcome to blame the economics of baseball, but if you want players like Justin Verlander on your team, contracts like the one he just signed are the price you have to pay.
Today is a good day for Tigers’ fans, and an even better day for Justin Verlander, as Verlander has agreed to a five-year extension worth 140-million dollars. It may sound completely absurd, but for signing the best pitcher in baseball (who one could argue is just entering his prime) it’s actually a very fair deal.
After Zach Greinke (6 years, 158 million) and Felix Hernandez (7 years, 175 million) signed huge deals in the offseason, Verlander was very open about his desire to be the first pitcher to sign a contract worth 200-million dollars. I thought he would sign for 8 years and 200 million and it appears I wasn’t too far off.
The extension will reportedly pay Verlander 20 million in ’13 and ’14, plus 28 million for each year from ’15-’19. That puts Verlander at seven years and 180 million, but there’s still a vesting option for the 8th year (have yet to see what it will take to vest) which would be worth 22 million more. All together, the Tigers have locked up their ace for potentially 8 years and 202 million.
Overall, I think Detroit fans should be excited about the news. I know there’s going to be a lot of people complaining that Verlander is going to make way too much money, but when you’re the best in the world at something, you deserve to make the most money. If there’s a downside to the signing, it’s that Tigers’ fans are likely to be paying for this contract for quite a few years.
After signing Prince Fielder last year, ticket prices rose a bit for the 2013 season. To be fair, prices didn’t increase much from the previous year, but seeing my season tickets go up (from paying $17 per ticket to $23) seemed a bit excessive. Will that trend continue for the 2014 season? It’s hard to know for sure, but it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if it does.
At the end of the day, as long as the Tigers are able to continue to compete for a World Series, I don’t think you’ll hear too many people complaining.
In case you don’t already know, let me start off by telling you that I do not like the Yankees. Although I respect the fact they are one of (if not the) the most prolific organizations in all of professional sports. They have a reputation that precedes them, and they’ve proven they have no problem when it comes to winning championships. Despite that, I’m still not a fan.
So when I was talking with a friend about the Yankees last night, I started to wonder. Have the Yankees finally lost it? With their poor showing in the playoffs last year, a plethora of injuries and aging former all stars, are the best days for the Bronx Bombers behind them?
You’re probably saying to yourself, “Brad, you’re crazy. The Yankees did advance to the ALCS last year.” That is correct, they squeaked past Baltimore and fell apart once they faced Detroit. Then Derek Jeter got injured, then Curtis Granderson, then Mark Teixeira. Look at it this way, between Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Youklis, the Yankees are paying 40-million dollars. By comparison, Jeff Passan of Yahoo sports projects the Miami Marlins to spend 45-million dollars on their entire team, and the Houston Astros are expected to to spend 32-million dollars.
Talk about spending a lot of money for little production, the Yankees are in way over their heads. I understand that the Yankees weren’t expecting to lose Teixeira and Rodriguez for extended periods of time, but I would have expected them to make a smarter move than overpaying for Youklis. As if that wasn’t a confusing enough transaction, the Yankees made an even crazier move earlier this week.
When I heard that the Yankees were trading for Vernon Wells, I actually began to laugh. I may not be an expert in baseball management, but I do not understand why you’d want to pay almost 14-million dollars for a guy who is going to play left field for maybe 30 games a year. Last year Wells had a .6 oWAR (offensive wins above replacement) and a -.3 dWAR (defensive wins above replacement). To put it simply, the Yankees are paying on average 7-million dollars for a guy who is only considered to barely be above average amongst players who play his position.
I can’t help but wonder if this is going to be the start of the decline for the Yankees. Sure, they have the money to spend (their payroll is still one of the highest in baseball), but they’re in serious jeopardy going forward. After Mariano Rivera retires, the Yankees could also lose Robinson Cano to free agency.
Don’t forget that they are supposedly hoping to cut their payroll starting in 2014. If they want to keep up with the rest of the teams in the AL East, they might need to reconsider that strategy. The Yankees already have a ton of question marks for this year, but it’s only going to get worse going forward.
According to reports, the Tigers made not one but two offers to the San Diego Padres in an attempt to trade Rick Porcello. Both of the offers were rejected, but it makes me wonder whether or not the Tigers should try to trade Porcello.
Both reported offers would have landed Detroit a late-inning relief pitcher, which makes it seem that the Tigers don’t necessarily have a lot of confidence in Bruce Rondon being the closer come opening day. If that is the case, I can understand why the Tigers would try to trade for Huston Street, but not Luke Gregerson.
In his first year as the closer for the Padres, Street posted a 1.85 ERA along with 23 saves. Street has spent all eight years of his career as a closer, only once logging under 20 saves. Although he is a valuable closer, I don’t think trading a pitcher like Porcello (durable starter who cannot become a free agent until 2016) for a closer who is owed 21-million dollars over the next three years.
Gregerson is another interesting trade candidate, as I’m not sure he’d be able to slot in as the closer for the Tigers, especially since he’s only finished 42 games in his career (12 saves). The nice thing about Gregerson is the fact he’s only due 3.2-million dollars this year, which is a reasonable salary for a quality relief pitcher. The flip side of that is if Gregerson isn’t closing, he really doesn’t have much of a defined role on the team.
When it comes to closers, there’s basically two different theories. The first theory is that any quality relief pitcher can be an above-average closer. The second is that not all pitchers have the mentality or makeup to be a closer in professional baseball. More often than not, I’m a believer in the latter. Of course there will always be exceptions to the rule, but a closer without confidence is just a disaster waiting to happen.
So should the Tigers trade Porcello before opening day? In my opinion, I think it’s best to wait until at least the trade deadline. My biggest fear is the fact that outside of Drew Smyly, the Tigers have pretty much no rotational depth, and that’s not a position that a World Series contending team wants to deal with. If the Tigers do trade Porcello, I just hope that they get a little more value than just a relief pitcher.
If you’re not a baseball fan, odds are that you have no idea that there’s an international baseball tournament going on right now that features not only the best players in Major League Baseball, but from around the world. Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite garnered the attention in the United States that it has hoped to, but hopefully that will change soon.
Once baseball was taken out of the Olympics after the 2008 Summer Games, the World Baseball Classic was created. It was a chance to not only showcase baseball on an international level, but perhaps prove that it belongs back in the Olympics.
As a baseball fanatic, I’m obviously doing my best to keep up with all of the action from the tournament. It’s not exactly an easy task, especially since a lot of the games have taken place at not exactly the most convenient of times (this is due to games being played around the world, not just the United States).
So to the uninterested fan, I really think you should really consider caring about the WBC. Aside from events like the World Cup and Olympics, there aren’t necessarily a lot of international showcases. The WBC is just another great opportunity for you to root for the country of your choice. I’m not saying that you have to cheer for Team U.S., but there’s probably at least one country you can find yourself rooting for.
If nothing else, my hope is that the international attention of the WBC will prove to the International Olympic Committee that baseball deserves to be back on the world stage. Although it’s not expected, baseball could return to the 2020 Olympics.
I’m not a big video game player. Like most people in their mid-twenties, I grew up playing Nintendo. I lost interest quickly in a lot of games for a lot of reasons, such as the amount of time required to beat a certain game. But there was always one type of game I couldn’t get enough of, and that was baseball games.
When it came to playing baseball video games, I used every bit of knowledge I had of baseball and used it to my advantage. This didn’t necessarily provide too big of an advantage to games such as Tecmo Baseball, but kids in the neighborhood quickly learned I was pretty difficult to beat.
As I got older and the games became more advanced, so did my learning curve for them. When my brother and I got a Nintendo 64 for Christmas years ago, I couldn’t wait until I finally got a copy of Ken Griffey Jr.’s Slugfest.
Slowly and surely, I was able to beat everyone with a great deal of consistency. I might’ve been pretty bad at most games, but when it came to baseball, I cared enough to force myself to keep getting better.
Fast forward a few years, and I bought myself a Xbox 360 three years ago as a Christmas gift to myself. Of course that meant I needed to buy MLB 2K9, which was the newest baseball game on the market. Despite all of it’s inconsistencies and glitches, I still loved the game. I spent countless nights working on the intricacies of pitching and hitting until I felt like I could compete with anyone in the world.
Each and every year, I bought the new MLB game on the day it came out. I played it competitively enough, that I’d get excited over every late-inning comeback, and be disgusted with myself when I’d lose a game in the 9th.
I was able to crack the top 350 in the world leader boards, which I found quite gratifying, especially since I didn’t have the time to play it nearly as much as those who were ahead of me.
My moment of glory came on January 10, 2011 when I got a chance to play the number one ranked player in the world. Sure enough, I was able to get the win. It was the only time I’ve ever had a chance to play someone (at anything, not just a video game) who was considered the best in the world, and I was able to beat them!
Through it all, I’ve stuck by the 2K Sports baseball games, despite their lack of support from the video game industry. It wasn’t a perfect game, but it gave me an opportunity to enjoy baseball for the entire year, not just when the actual season ended.
So why the long story about my love of baseball video games? Because recently it was announced that there will be no MLB game issued for the Xbox 360 next year. No MLB 2K13, no MLB The Show. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Does this mean I’ll make the switch to buy a Playstation 3 just so I can continue to play MLB video games? At this point, I’m not sure. If you’re a fan of baseball video games and only have an Xbox 360, it’s game over for you.
Update (1/9): Major League Baseball and 2K Sports have reached an agreement, and there will indeed be MLB 2K13, you can read about it HERE.
I’ve officially completed the final task of my application for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave, which was to create a video to explain why I should be chosen for the MLB Fan Cave. I think the video does a fine job showing my passion and love for baseball, the Detroit Tigers and my sense of humor. If all goes well, I’ll get a chance to spend the season in New York representing not just the Detroit Tigers, but all of their fans.
If you like what you see and think Major League Baseball should pick me, let them know (you can write on their wall at Facebook or send them a tweet)! With your help and support, I’ll have a chance to make one of my dreams come true. Thanks again for all of your support!
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the end of the baseball season, as the San Francisco Giants will host the Detroit Tigers for the first game of the World Series. The Tigers will look to redeem themselves after their disappointing showing in the 2006 World Series, whereas the Giants are simply hoping to recapture the magic they had when they were world champions back in 2010.
So before the first pitch is thrown, I wanted to take a minute to give my official World Series thoughts and predictions. Being from Detroit, it’s not easy to be objective, but I’m going to give it my best shot.
There’s an old saying in baseball that pitching and defense wins championships. Of course if history has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is quite as simple as that. It’s an ironic adage, because the Tigers definitely have better pitching, but the Giants definitely have the superior defense. Does this mean there’s no clear favorite? Oh there is, and the advantage definitely goes to Detroit.
The Tigers have several things going for them, including the fact that all of their pitchers are rested, and they can line up their rotation however they like. Coming off a crucial game seven on Monday, the Giants do not have that luxury. The Giants are going to possibly have to face Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez each two times. Throw in the Max Scherzer for at least one start, and things start to look promising for Detroit.
In case you’re not aware, in nine playoff games, Detroit’s starting pitchers have combined to go 5-1 with a 1.02 ERA. On the other hand, the bullpen hasn’t been nearly as good. Joaquin Benoit has had his struggles, and nobody is even sure if Jose Valverde will get a chance to save another game this postseason. If Detroit is going to win the World Series, the bullpen simply needs to be better.
Even if Detroit allows a few runs, there’s still no need to panic. When the heart of your lineup has Miguel Cabrera, (who just so happened to win the Triple Crown) Prince Fielder and Delmon Young, you can’t help but feel like your team is going to be able to score a few runs every night.
Regardless of how heavily their favored Detroit is, you still cannot count out the San Francisco Giants. They have two of the most dominant starting pitchers in recent years in Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, not to mention they do have home-field advantage for the series. Oh yeah, they also have the likely NL MVP in Buster Posey.
But at the end of the day, I just don’t see either team scoring a lot of runs, and Detroit’s starting pitchers have been lights out for the postseason, and I don’t see that stopping now. I’ll take the Tigers to defeat the Giants in five games.