The Show: Pace Car Edition

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On this week’s The Show, we took a look at a few guys
having spectacularly good (or bad) seasons and projected their numbers
for the entire year. Despite a slump, is Ian Kinsler on pace to have one of the greatest seasons ever by a second baseman? Can anything stop Chris Davis from obliterating the strikeout mark? Plus some notes about Raul Ibanez (we shot this before the nonsense that erupted this week.

That video can be seen below. Stats are a tad out of date since it was shot on Tuesday, and Roy Halladay has since been injured, so I suppose we jinxed him. Anyway, here are a few more Pace Car notes:

– Despite a rough week, Albert Pujols is on track to put up
this line: .321/.440/.665, 53 HR, 145 RBI, 121 BB, 25 SB, and only 61
Ks. That’d be a career high in homers, ribbies, walks, and steals.

– He might be coming back to earth a bit, but you’d certainly take
22-5, 1.72 ERA, 262/43 K/BB, 254 innings, 14 complete games, and 5
shutouts from Zack Greinke. The last pitcher to go double digits in complete games was Randy Johnson in 1999.

Joel Piniero has factored into the decision for all of
his 12 starts (5-7) and is on pace to go 13-18. No pitcher has won that
many games with 18 or more losses since Jack Morris in 1990 for Detroit, when he finished 15-18. A year later, he was winning the World Series with the Twinkies.

Matt Cain for Comeback Player of the Year? If he keeps up
at this rate, he’ll finish 22-3 with a 2.55 ERA and 159 Ks. The last
two seasons combined he went 15-30 with a 3.70 ERA. A better ERA
certainly helps with the record, but so does good run support (5.66
runs/game). In 2008 that number was 3.12, and in 2007 it was 3.20.

– If I gave you the numbers 47 and 11, and told you that one of those numbers would be David Wright’s
home run total and the other was his stolen base total, what would you
think? (Hint: he is not on pace for 47 bombs.) He’s also on track for
50 doubles, although such a discrepancy between homers and doubles in
not unprecedented. In Major League history, 25 players have hit 11 or
fewer homers and had at least 50 doubles. However, the 47 steals would
put him 3rd all-time on the list of players with at least 50 doubles,
behind Tris Peaker in 1912 and Craig Biggio in 1998.

Jeurys Familia’s domestic violence suspension to be announced today

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Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that the announcement of Jeurys Familia‘s domestic violence suspension is expected some time today.

Familia was arrested in October following an incident at his home. Criminal charges were dropped in December. As we know, however, MLB’s domestic violence policy does not require criminal proceedings to be commenced, let alone completed, before the leveling of league punishment. MLB has been investigating the incident for the past several months.

Billy Witz of the New York Times reported Monday that the suspension is “almost certain” to be lighter than the 30-game suspension Aroldis Chapman received one year ago. However much time Familia misses, the Mets are expecting Addison Reed to fill in at closer until he returns.

2017 Preview: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 

Let’s look first at the strengths. There’s Mike Trout, the undisputed best player in the game. That’s always a good start. I could bore you with a bunch of stats and historical comparisons here but we’re friends here and, let’s be honest, we don’t need or even want that. The guy is good, ’nuff said.

Indeed, I had an impulse to simply photoshop Trout’s head on this poster and be done with the entire Angels preview:

 

You could almost stop reading now and know what’s up in Anaheim this year.

But honestly, Trout isn’t the only strength here. The Angels have the best defensive shortstop in the league in Andrelton Simmons and a lot of other good defensive players as well, from Kole Calhoun in right, Cameron Maybin in left, Luis Valbuena at first (or wherever he’s slotted once he comes back from a hamstring injury) and Danny Espinosa at second. Their catching corps — Martin Maldonado and Carlos Perez — are solid too. When you lack team depth and have pitching challenges like the Angels do, not kicking the ball all over the field is a good thing. The Angels have kicked the ball a lot in recent years but they’ll be pretty good with the leather in 2017, and that can make up for a lot of faults.

But I ain’t gonna lie, there are a lot of faults here.

Garrett Richards is back from a UCL injury that sidelined him most of last season. He didn’t get Tommy John surgery — he went with stem cell treatment — so the recovery time is lower. Still, it seems like a lot of guys who go the rehab route end up going under the knife eventually anyway, so everyone will have their eye on the Angels’ ace as the season goes on.

Beyond Richards the rotation is suspect. Matt ShoemakerRicky NolascoTyler Skaggs — also coming back from injury — and Jesse Chavez do not, as a group, strike fear into anyone’s hearts. I guess the hope here is that Nolasco’s pitching after he came over from Minnesota is more indicative of what he can do than what he did earlier in the year. Or, for that matter, for the past three seasons. If Richards is healthy he’s an ace. The rest of these guys are basically average at best.

The pen has issues. Cam Bedrosian had a fantastic 2016, but it was definitely a huge step up for him and may have been an aberration. closer Huston Street did not have a fantastic 2016, is recovering from a strained lat now and it’s fair to ask whether he’s got what it takes to close in the bigs anymore. Even if that’s too pessimistic an assessment, he’s missed a lot of time this spring. Andrew Bailey, like Nolasco, pitched well after coming to Anaheim last summer but poorly before that, with the poorly looking more like his true level than the well. Otherwise Mike Scioscia has a lot of young arms but not a lot of particularly good ones. Look for his bullpen to feature a cast of thousands.

As for the lineup: Trout is Trout. Albert Pujols is recovering from yet another foot issue. He still has old man strength and can hit some dingers, but he’s a shell of his former self and it’s fair to ask how many lower body maladies a guy whose primary value is tied up in power can tolerate. Yunel Escobar, Kole Calhoun and C.J. Cron are useful and predictable, even if they’re not game-changers. The Angels were 10th in offense in the AL last year. It’s hard to see them making a big leap from that level this year, even if they’re not likely to be too much worse either.

Ultimately, there’s not enough pitching here and there’s not a scary enough secondary or tertiary offensive threat behind Trout to make the offense difficult to deal with. If you play the Angels you’ll score some runs and you can pitch to everyone who isn’t wearing the number 27. That’s not gonna cut it in the AL West this year.

Prediction: Fourth place, American League West.