<span class="vcard">Matthew Pouliot</span>

Homer Bailey

Thanks to Homer Bailey, Reds maybe finally on a roll

6 Comments

The Reds entered July a perfectly respectable 46-36, but that was good for only third place in the NL Central. Mostly, they were beating up on bad teams and losing to good ones:

Reds vs. Marlins, Brewers, Cubs, Mets: 24-5
Reds vs. everyone else: 22-31

Besides the four teams with the worst records in the NL, the Reds had a winning record versus just one club; they were 4-2 against the Phillies. They were 7-12 against the two teams ahead of them in the NL Central (the Pirates and Cardinals). They were 5-7 against AL teams.

Now the Reds have opened July 2-0 against a Giants team that’s also struggled of late, but one that happened to defeat them in the NLDS last year before going on to win the World Series. Bailey’s no-hitter was well timed, giving him his fifth win of the year after he went 1-2 in June. It’s his first win against a contender since he beat the Nationals way back on April 5, his first outing of the season. Maybe he had deserved a couple of more since, but he had struggled in most of his starts against teams currently in postseason position:

April 10 against St. Louis: 7 ER in 5 IP
May 1  against St. Louis: 4 ER in 5 1/3 IP
May 7 against Atlanta: 4 ER in 5 IP
May 30 against Cleveland: 7 ER in 3 2/3 IP
June 20 against Pittsburgh: 2 ER in 6 IP
June 26 against Oakland: 4 ER in 6 IP

That’s an 8.13 ERA in six starts against teams that would be in the postseason if it started today. The Giants don’t qualify, but beating them is a start. Doing so by hurling a second career no-hitter only makes it all the sweeter.

Pouliot’s midseason award picks: AL & NL Cy Young

Matt Harvey
27 Comments

Yesterday, we took a look at what WAR had to say as far as midseason awards winners. Now, I’m making my own choices, starting with the Cy Young Awards.

First, let’s get the charts out of the way, here are the top 10 in the AL by ERA and both versions of WAR.

ERA

1. Clay Buchholz – 9-0, 1.71 ERA, 81/29 K/BB in 84 1/3 IP
2. Hisashi Iwakuma – 7-3, 2.42 ERA, 101/17 K/BB in 115 1/3 IP
3. Felix Hernandez – 8-4, 2.70 ERA, 123/22 K/BB in 116 2/3 IP
4. Yu Darvish – 8-3, 2.78 ERA, 151/37 K/BB in 113 1/3 IP
5. Bartolo Colon – 11-2, 2.79 ERA, 61/13 K/BB in 106 1/3 IP
6. Chris Sale – 5-7, 2.79 ERA, 114/24 K/BB in 106 1/3 IP
7. Ervin Santana – 5-5, 2.84 ERA, 89/22 K/BB in 111 IP
8. Hiroki Kuroda – 7-6, 2.95 ERA, 75/21 K/BB in 106 2/3 IP
9. James Shields – 3-6, 2.99 ERA, 104/33 K/BB in 117 1/3 IP
10. Alex Cobb – 6-2, 3.01 ERA, 76/23 K/BB in 83 2/3 IP
11. Max Scherzer – 12-0, 3.10 ERA, 131/25 K/BB in 110 1/3 IP
12. Derek Holland – 6-4, 3.14 ERA, 97/27 K/BB in 106 IP

Baseball-reference WAR

1. Chris Sale – 4.3
2. Clay Buchholz – 4.2
3. Hisashi Iwakuma – 3.8
4. Felix Hernandez – 3.4
5. Yu Darvish – 3.3
6. Max Scherzer – 3.3
7. Bartolo Colon – 2.9
8. Anibal Sanchez – 2.5
9. Jesse Crain – 2.5
10. Derek Holland – 2.4

Fangraphs WAR

1. Derek Holland – 3.4
2. Max Scherzer – 3.4
3. Felix Hernandez – 3.4
4. Anibal Sanchez – 3.2
5. Chris Sale – 3.1
6. Yu Darvish – 3.0
7. Clay Buchholz – 2.9
8. Doug Fister – 2.9
9. Justin Verlander – 2.8
10. James Shields – 2.4

Buchholz was in the lead here a few weeks ago, but he hasn’t pitched since June 8 because of neck and shoulder difficulties. If the vote were held today, it’s a given that Scherzer’s 12-0 record would make him the AL Cy Young Award winner, even though he’s just 11th in the league in ERA. And he wouldn’t necessarily be a bad choice. Fangraphs essentially puts him in a tie for the league WAR lead. He’s second in the AL in WHIP behind Iwakuma and second in strikeouts behind Darvish.

Also working in Scherzer’s favor here is that he’s faced a more difficult schedule than most of the alternatives. Here’s some of the top guys by opponents’ OPS:

Holland: .755
Scherzer: .753
Hernandez: .751
Darvish: .746
Iwakuma: .744
Buchholz: .733
Sale: .730

Now, that doesn’t tell the whole story. One reason Sale’s is so low is because quality left-handed hitters sit against him and get replaced by lesser right-handed hitters. That’s not something that should be held against him. However, it’s also true that Sale hasn’t faced any of the AL’s top three offenses to date.

Besides the tougher schedule, Scherzer has also had to overcome a lousy defense. The Tigers are 28th in the majors in defensive efficiency. And despite the Tigers’ struggles, Scherzer has allowed just one unearned run this year, compared to two for Darvish, three for Sale and Iwakuma and four for King Felix.

So, I think I’m in favor of Scherzer, too. Going by RA rather than ERA eliminates some of the gap, and Scherzer has been remarkably consistent. 14 of his 15 starts this year have concluded with the Tigers in the lead, and they were tied in the other.

After Scherzer, I just don’t see much to separate the two Mariners pitchers, two Rangers pitchers and Sale. Darvish has the strikeouts, but he also has issued more walks than the competition and only Iwakuma has allowed more homers. I think I prefer King Felix’s start.

AL Cy Young picks

1. Scherzer
2. Hernandez
3. Darvish
4. Iwakuma
5. Sale

Now on to the NL, where there’s a little more separation after the top two. Here are the leaderboards:

ERA

1. Matt Harvey – 7-1, 2.00 ERA, 132/24 K/BB in 117 IP
2. Jeff Locke – 7-1, 2.06 ERA, 67/41 K/BB in 96 1/3 IP
3. Clayton Kershaw – 6-5, 2.08 ERA, 118/33 K/BB in 121 1/3 IP
4. Adam Wainwright – 11-5, 2.22 ERA, 114/12 K/BB in 125 2/5 IP
5. Patrick Corbin – 9-0, 2.22 ERA, 85/29 K/BB in 109 2/3 IP
6. Stephen Strasburg – 4-6, 2.41 ERA, 90/27 K/BB in 93 1/3 IP
7. Jordan Zimmermann – 12-3, 2.46 ERA, 85/17 K/BB in 120 2/3 IP
8. Mike Leake – 7-3, 2.52 ERA, 67/21 K/BB in 103 2/3 IP
9. Cliff Lee – 9-2, 2.59 ERA, 115/21 K/BB in 125 1/3 IP
10. Jose Fernandez – 5-4, 2.72 ERA, 94/33 K/BB in 92 2/3 IP

Baseball-reference WAR

1. Matt Harvey – 4.6
2. Cliff Lee – 4.5
3. Clayton Kershaw – 4.4
4. Adam Wainwright – 4.3
5. Jorge De La Rosa – 3.8
6. Jhoulys Chacin – 3.5
7. Patrick Corbin – 3.3
8. Jordan Zimmermann – 2.8
9. Kyle Kendrick – 2.6
10. Mike Leake – 2.6

Fangraphs WAR

1. Adam Wainwright – 4.3
2. Matt Harvey – 4.2
3. Cliff Lee – 3.5
4. Clayton Kershaw – 3.1
5. Mat Latos – 2.7
6. Homer Bailey – 2.5
7. Jhoulys Chacin – 2.4
8. Jeff Samardzija – 2.4
9. Jordan Zimmermann – 2.4
10. Patrick Corbin – 2.3

A BBWAA vote right now would be pretty fascinating. It’d come down to Wainwright vs. Harvey, with Wainwright’s four extra wins being weighed against Harvey’s edges in ERA and strikeouts, plus the  Harvey hype factor.

Those aren’t the only stats in conflict between the two, though. Harvey currently has a .253 BABIP, suggesting he’s been quite lucky this season. Wainwright’s is .307, which could be taken as a sign of bad luck. His career mark coming into the year was .292, which is right about the league norm.

It’s that difference being filtered out by the Fangraphs stats, which rates them dead even. In fact, their FIPs (2.01 for Wainwright, 1.99 for Harvey) and xFIPs (2.67 for Wainwright, 2.64 for Harvey) are practically identical.

Also, it should be mentioned here that no one is even close to those two according to Fangraphs stats. The next best FIP belongs to Lee at 2.58, with Kershaw fourth at 2.67.

What also makes the NL race a little easier to judge than the AL race is that the big four have all made exactly 17 starts at the moment and range in innings from Harvey’s 117 to Wainwright’s 125 2/3. Those extra 8 2/3 innings are an edge for Wainwright, but not as big of one as some might think given that Wainwright has four complete games (and two shutouts) to Harvey’s none.

One more thing to look at. Let’s go back to strength of schedule, by opponents OPS:

Lee: .753
Kershaw: .751
Wainwright: .746
Harvey: .722

Harvey lags way behind here, courtesy of his three starts against the Marlins. In all, eight of his 17 starts have come against teams in the bottom four of the NL in runs per game (the Mets are fifth from bottom). Wainwright has faced those teams just twice, plus the Mets twice.

If the two had faced similar schedules, I’d probably give Harvey the edge here, largely because of the outstanding strikeout rate. As is, I have to lean Wainwright. And while I’m not taking it into account here, Wainwright is definitely the better bet for the full season award, since Harvey is probably going to be shut down at some point in September.

NL Cy Young picks

1. Wainwright
2. Harvey
3. Lee
4. Kershaw
5. Zimmermann

Your midseason awards winners, according to WAR

Carlos Gomez
40 Comments

Here’s how WAR, both the Baseball-reference and Fangraphs versions, rates the top players as of the midway point of the season.

AL MVP (Baseball-Reference)

1. Manny Machado – 4.9
2. Miguel Cabrera – 4.9
3. Chris Sale – 4.4
4. Dustin Pedroia – 4.3
5. Chris Davis – 4.2

AL MVP (Fangraphs)

1. Miguel Cabrera – 5.4
2. Mike Trout – 4.7
3. Chris Davis – 4.6
4. Evan Longoria – 4.5
5. Manny Machado – 4.2

This is Cabrera’s award to lose, even though Davis has put quite the charge on. Both have 202 OPS+s at the moment, though Cabrera’s high OBP makes his line more valuable. B-ref has Machado matching Cabrera in WAR thanks to a huge defensive bonus; it rates him as the AL’s best defender by almost a full win over Dustin Pedroia. No one would deny that Machado is an excellent third baseman, but that’s probably excessive. Also, even though Machado is on a ridiculous doubles pace, he’s no Trout offensively. He’s probably been the AL’s fourth or fifth best player, which is still a massive accomplishment for a 20-year-old.

NL MVP (Baseball-Reference)

1. Carlos Gomez – 5.0
2. Clayton Kershaw – 4.8
3. Cliff Lee – 4.6
4. David Wright – 4.5
5. Matt Harvey – 4.5

NL MVP (Fangraphs)

1. Carlos Gomez – 4.5
2. Adam Wainwright – 4.3
3. David Wright – 4.2
3. Matt Harvey – 4.2
5. Matt Carpenter – 4.1

Both systems are in agreement that Gomez has been the NL’s best player so far. Still, I’m skeptical that he’d even crack the top 10 if the BBWAA held a vote. Obviously, much of his value is tied up in defense; B-ref says only Andrelton Simmons has been worth more with the glove in the NL. Plus, the Brewers have struggled all year. … If the vote were held today, I’m guessing we’d see Yadier Molina come in first and Paul Goldschmidt second. B-ref has Goldschmidt as the NL’s third best position player, while Fangraphs puts him 11th. Molina ranks 12th by B-ref and ninth by Fangraphs.

AL Cy Young (Baseball-reference)

1. Chris Sale – 4.4
2. Clay Buchholz – 4.0
3. Hisashi Iwakuma – 3.7

AL Cy Young (Fangraphs)

1. Derek Holland – 3.4
2. Max Scherzer – 3.4
3. Felix Hernandez – 3.3

Buchholz was the leader for Cy Young honors when he went down. Now it’s probably Scherzer, even though his 3.10 ERA doesn’t crack the top 10 in the league. The 12-0 record would help a bunch, as would the terrific strikeout rate. I figured Yu Darvish would fare better here than he does, but the home runs are hurting him. He’s fifth according to B-ref and sixth according to Fangraphs.

NL Cy Young (Baseball-reference)

1. Cliff Lee – 4.6
2. Matt Harvey – 4.5
3. Adam Wainwright – 4.4
4. Clayton Kershaw – 4.4

NL Cy Young (Fangraphs)

1. Adam Wainwright – 4.2
2. Matt Harvey – 4.2
3. Cliff Lee – 3.5

I’m guessing Wainwright would win the award if the season ended today, and both versions of WAR think he’s just as deserving as Harvey, even though Harvey has the edge in ERA (2.00 to 2.22) and strikeouts (132 to 114). … You may have noticed Kershaw comes in second on B-ref’s MVP list, but just tied for third here. That’s because I’m only using their pitching WAR for Cy Young.

AL Rookie of the Year (Baseball-reference)

1. Jose Iglesias – 2.3
2. David Lough – 1.7
3. Nick Franklin – 1.5

AL Rookie of the Year (Fangraphs)

1. Jose Iglesias – 1.4
2. David Lough – 1.2
3. Dan Straily – 1.1

B-ref rates Iglesias as an above average defender, while Fangraphs says below average. I’m firmly on B-ref’s side here. That said, it’s only a matter of time before he stops hitting and gets overtaken in the race.

NL Rookie of the Year (Baseball-reference)

1. Hyun-Jin Ryu – 2.5
2. Julio Teheran – 2.4
3. Shelby Miller – 2.3
3. Nolan Arenado – 2.3

NL Rookie of the Year (Fangraphs)

1. Shelby Miller – 2.2
2. Marcell Ozuna – 2.1
3. Evan Gattis – 1.8

Yasiel Puig is making a glorious charge here. B-ref had him at 2.1 and Fangraphs has him at 1.8 after a measly 26 games. Fangraphs, for what it’s worth, rates him as a bit of a liability both defensively and on the basepaths to date, no doubt because of his overaggressiveness.

Trevor Bauer turns in the worst start of the season

Trevor Bauer
30 Comments

Not his worst start. The worst start.

Trevor Bauer surrendered five runs and six hits while getting just two outs Friday in the first game of a doubleheader against the White Sox. He was up to 49 pitches in the first when manager Terry Francona finally had to come get him, putting the Indians in a major bind with at least 17 more innings to go today.

Oddly, Bauer opened the game immediately working from the stretch. He may have had some problems getting loose, judging from the way he was often shrugging and stretching in-between pitches. His velocity was fine, though, as he was hitting 93-94 mph with his fastball.

But if working exclusively from the stretch was an experiment, it was a disastrous one. He gave up hits to the first two batters he faced. After a sac fly, he surrendered a two-run homer to Adam Dunn and later a solo shot to Jeff Keppinger, who had just one homer in 227 at-bats this season. That made it 4-0.

Brent Morel followed Keppinger’s homer was a single. Bauer, despite working from the stretch for about 30 pitches now, paid him absolutely no attention, allowing him to steal second easily, even though he stumbled a little on the way. It was Morel’s 12th steal in 184 major league games. Gordon Beckham followed with a double to make it 5-0.

After that came a Tyler Flowers HBP, which might seem rather suspicious, except for the fact that it came with two strikes and wasn’t actually a HBP. The ball obviously hit the knob of Flowers’ bat, judging by a) the sound it made, b) the fact that it rolled at least 20 feet away and c) that Flowers didn’t so much as shake his hand afterwards, despite the pitch being a 93-mph fastball.

Bauer knew the ball hit the knob and questioned umpire Alan Porter’s terrible decision to award the HBP, but didn’t argue vehemently. Francona came out as well. He’d return a couple of minutes later after Bauer walked leadoff man Alejandro De Aza. Bauer was pulled after throwing 49 pitches to 10 batters.

It’s almost certainly the last we’ll see of Bauer in the majors for a while. The Indians might want to consider demoting him to A-ball, rather than Triple-A, in order to send him a message.

The White Sox will trade anyone but Sale… and Konerko?

Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko
16 Comments

That’s the word from CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. The White Sox are open to parting with younger regulars like Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo and Gordon Beckham and they’d certainly be willing to move Adam Dunn and John Danks. But ace Chris Sale is unavailable, as is 10-and-5 guy Paul Konerko.

Heyman doesn’t indicate whether that’s Konerko’s preference or the team’s. Konerko has full no-trade protection because of his veteran status. From a performance standpoint, there wouldn’t seem to be a whole lot of reason for the White Sox to keep him. He’s 37, struggling this year (.253/.319/.373 in 249 AB) and he’s a free agent at season’s end.

The White Sox most likely to be traded are relievers Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton. Crain, one of the AL’s best relievers so far this year, is a free agent at season’s end and will probably want another costly three-year contract. Thornton’s contract includes a $6 million option for next year that the White Sox probably won’t want to pick up.

Closer Addison Reed would also be in demand and could bring more in return than anyone else on the White Sox roster, Sale excepted. However, since he’s not going to be a free agent until after the 2017 season, the White Sox would have to be blown away to move him.

The White Sox offense doesn’t have as many intriguing options for potential deals. It is, after all, the AL’s worst offense so far this season. No one on the team has an .800 OPS, though Rios is close at .794. He’s owed a reasonable $12.5 million next year and either $13.5 million or a $1 million buyout in 2015, giving him a fair amount of trade value. He can block a deal to six teams.

It’s hard to imagine the White Sox finding takers for Dunn or Keppinger. Ramirez wouldn’t be a bad pickup for a team in need of a shortstop, but the White Sox have always seemed to overvalue him. Plus, he’s due to make $19.5 million between 2014 and ’15. The White Sox would be selling low on Viciedo, so they’ll probably keep him and hope for the best. Beckham is a more interesting case, since he has hit fairly well in limited action while not sidelined by a broken hamate this year (.309/.340/.383 in 28 games). He still has some upside remaining, but he’s probably going to make about $4 million next year and the White Sox have Carlos Sanchez as a possible second baseman of the future.