Projections and Paces – Angels

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This is the first of a series of blogs just taking a quick glance at
how my preseason projections are shaping up. This isn’t a serious
review — that will come after the season — so I’m just looking at a
few hitters from each team and ignoring pitchers and injured players
for now.

Mike Napoli
2008: .273/.374/.586, 20 HR, 39 R, 49 RBI, 7 SB in 227 AB
Proj : .242/.349/.463, 18 HR, 53 R, 52 RBI, 5 SB in 322 AB
Pace: .269/.350/.481, 21 HR, 55 R, 60 RBI, 5 SB in 408 AB

Napoli’s average is undergoing a correction now. He was as high as
.343 on May 8 and .327 on May 18, but his strikeout rate has been on
the way up since then. I expect his average to go lower still.

Torii Hunter
2008: .278/.344/.466, 21 HR, 85 R, 78 RBI, 19 SB in 551 AB
Proj : .270/.333/.465, 23 HR, 82 R, 91 RBI, 17 SB in 551 AB
Pace: .319/.397/.616, 42 HR, 118 R, 133 RBI, 29 SB in 564 AB

Career season would scarcely begin to describe it. All of those
numbers, with the exception of at-bats, would be career highs. His
current bests are a .289 average, 31 HR, 94 R, 107 RBI and 23 SB.

Bobby Abreu
2008: .296/.371/.471, 20 HR, 100 R, 100 RBI, 22 SB in 609 AB
Proj : .291/.380/.451, 17 HR, 99 R, 89 RBI, 25 SB in 594 AB
Pace: .297/.394/.421, 8 HR, 71 R, 84 RBI, 39 SB in 546 AB

With two homers and five doubles in June, the power finally seems to
be coming back. Too bad the steals have disappeared. He’s 0-for-1 this
month after going 15-for-15 in April and May.

Kendry Morales
2008: .213/.273/.393, 3 HR, 7 R, 8 RBI, 0 SB in 61 AB
Proj : .291/.332/.450, 17 HR, 73 R, 85 RBI, 1 SB in 529 AB
Pace: .271/.322/.495, 26 HR, 73 R, 89 RBI, 0 SB in 570 AB

Morales is showing better power than anticipated, but his struggles
against left-handers have hindered his average. He’s batting .186 with
no homers in 43 at-bats against southpaws.

Chone Figgins
2008: .276/.367/.318, 1 HR, 72 R, 22 RBI, 34 SB in 453 AB
Proj : .282/.354/.358, 4 HR, 90 R, 47 RBI, 43 SB in 561 AB
Pace: .324/.399/.411, 3 HR, 123 R, 47 RBI, 57 SB in 630 AB

Figgins wasn’t any good in April and he was still hitting in the
.240s into mid-May, so we’re a long way from knowing how this will turn
out. If the last couple of years are any indication, injuries will be a
factor at some point.

Juan Rivera
2008: .246/.282/.438, 12 HR, 31 R, 45 RBI, 1 SB in 256 AB
Proj : .280/.327/.476, 21 HR, 67 R, 83 RBI, 2 SB in 496 AB
Pace: .315/.353/.507, 24 HR, 55 R, 84 RBI, 0 SB in 530 AB

Rivera, likewise, has been red hot for a month. Even so, he’s on
pace for just 55 runs scored and 84 RBI and it’s not like he’s going to
keep hitting .315. 24 homers is realistic.

Jessica Mendoza and Chris Archer were great in the booth

Jessica Mendoza
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Not news: Jessica Mendoza, who has been excellent on all of the ESPN broadcasts she has done since taking over for Curt Schilling, was excellent last night too.

She was great on the nuts and bolts, continued to show that she can describe hitting mechanics better than most color commentators — way more of them seem to be more comfortable talking about pitching — and was a seamless presence in the booth in terms of flow, timbre and all of the aesthetic aspects of broadcasting. If she has a fault thus far it’s that she leans on some cliches about hitters’ mindsets and desire to win sometimes. This puts her in with approximately 100% of all other color commentators in baseball now and throughout the history of baseball, of course, so it’s not really a demerit.

Ultimately, the true test of a good commentator is whether they (a) add insight; and (b) do so without distracting or upstaging the game. In this Mendoza is superior to most commentators in baseball and clearly superior to the “stop and listen to me” brand of analysts the major networks have employed on national broadcasts in recent years.

Indeed, the best compliment I think I can give Mendoza is that she was — in the literal sense, not the judgmental sense — unremarkable. Meaning: during the game and after there was nothing she said or did that was worthy of the highly-critical remarks almost every broadcaster gets, going back through Schilling, Kruk, Harold Reynolds Tim McCarver, Joe Morgan and everyone else ESPN and Fox have forced upon us in their history doing playoff baseball. I’m on Twitter during most playoff games and sometimes the broadcaster bashing is more interesting than the game. Mendoza gives the would-be bashers very little material.

At least those who would bash on the actual merits. There remains a group of deadenders who are irked by her very presence in the booth because she is a woman. The New York times rounds up some of the less mouth-breathery types today, but God knows there are many, many worse. Some of them even in professional media. At least for now. Whether you choose to ignore those people or choose to engage them — which, their dead end opinions notwithstanding can be a useful exercise in my view — know that they are out there being miserable and sexist as God and the First Amendment intended them to be.

While there are many who slam Mendoza on the faulty premise that she lacks credentials and experience in the booth, there was one person in the ESPN booth last night, at least for a while, who was a total TV noob. His name was Chris Archer. He pitches a bit for the Tampa Bay Rays. And lo and behold, he was pretty damn good himself.

Archer needs some polish for style — he has a lot of “ummms” and “uhhhs” about him — but his analysis is both sharp and quick. Meaning he was RIGHT ON the points when he needed to be without any of the usual prompting guests in the booth need from the play-by-play guy. At one point he even flowed into play-by-play and did a pretty good job of it.  Chris: if that pitching stuff doesn’t work out, you have a bright, bright future in television.

So, on the first night of the playoffs, there were no complaints about the broadcast. Mostly because the broadcasters weren’t the stars of the show. The game was. And it was complemented nicely by a couple of good voices.

And John Kruk.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.