Posts Tagged ‘mlb’

The Future of Mark Buehrle

The Future of Mark Buehrle for The Platoon Advantage

The good: since 2001, when Buehrle began 11 straight seasons of 200+ innings, Buehrle is first in the majors in innings, 21st in BB/9 (min. 400 IPs), and seventh in WAR (Fangraphs edition) behind only Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia, Roy Oswalt, Javier Vazquez, Randy Johnson and Johan Santana. You can’t quibble with that consistent usefulness.

To date, Buehrle has a 3.83 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 2.48 K:BB rate and 45.9% ground ball (GB) rate. However, there are some chinks in the armor. He led the league in hits four times and, as Dave Cameron pointed out, his ERA likely benefited from some subjective ground ballness and how they are classified/scored as errors. As Cameron discovered, 10.1% of Buehrle’s runs allowed have been unearned. While his ERA puts him in great company, if you look at runs allowed, he seems more like Al Leiter, Barry Zito, Randy Wolf and Jarrod Washburn. You certainly can’t just assume all his unearned runs were a product of his insane amount of ground balls, but it is certainly possible he’s getting a little help from those scoring the games.

Another issue with Buehrle being the savior is that he’s old and has a tremendous amount of innings on his arm. Buehrle will be 33 years-old next year and has already pitched 2,476.2 innings in the majors. I wrote the majority of this before he signed, with the assumption that he would get a four-year deal, just based on the fact that every single team wanted him. I just don’t think he’ll stay productive that entire time, i.e., until his age 37 season. And I’m not sure I can find a pitcher similar to Buehrle who has.

Full article at TPA: http://www.platoonadvantage.com/2011/12/future-of-mark-buehrle.html

Check You Out on the Flip Side: Jason Marquis

A stathead…er…An untrained observer with a working knowledge of the National League for the last eight years who stumbled upon the back of this card would likely assume that some combination of Roy Oswalt, Brandon Webb, Jake Peavy, Carlos Zambrano and Aaron Harang would fit the bill as the top starters in the National League from 2004-2009.

Not so fast! Marquis and his 9.5 WAR (Fangraphs) but amazing winability (80 Ws) is clearly involved, as noted by this fine 2010 Topps card.

Never mind that his 4.9 K/9 rate was the fifth lowest among starters with significant innings from that era (it was worse than Woody Williams, Kris Benson, Cory Lidle, Dave Bush, and many others). In addition, his ERA (4.49) was similarly amongst the worse, as were his FIP (4.84, which only bested Jeff Suppan) and xFIP (4.68). Like Jack Morris (who I revere), Marquis just pitched to the score. Right…

While that’s a lot of negativity, we can say that Marquis was durable (and averageish). He threw 1,177.1 IPs during that stretch, the fourth most behind Oswalt, Harang and Zambrano. Of course, that took its tool as he started the 2010 season late and struggled to win just two games. Apparently, it’s hard to pitch to the score when the Nationals are involved.

He pitched better on the surface in 2011, good enough to look like an innings eater to the Diamondbacks. Unfortunately, shortly after he was traded to Arizona, he broke his fibula and missed the rest of the year.

Regardless, Marquis has come a long way from Staten Island and the Little League World Series. In case you don’t remember, Marquis was on the third-place little league squad in 1991. He even beat Chad Pennington.

Pitching and winning must have seemed real easy in little league. It probably seemed harder but not impossible from 2004-2009. I imagine wining seems a lot more difficult now after struggling with losing teams and injuries.

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Check You out on the Flip Side: Grady Sizemore

Talk about a seemingly non-ominous ominous reverse jinx card.

I’ve been a huge Sizemore fan since he went 20-20 in 2005 as a 22-year old. I’ve written about him for fantasy and I’ve handled this card carefully. It is one of those I wanted to write about but couldn’t get into it.

 

Until recently, Sizemore went out there, played hard and fabulously and never missed a game. From 2005-2008, Sizemore played 639 games, or 160 per year, and put up a .281/.372/.496 line paired with superb defense in centerfield.

But, maybe, just maybe, he should have taken a few more games off here and there. As the card alludes to, Sizemore missed two months in 2009. Unfortunately, that would be the beginning of a dramatic (hopefully abbreviated) Dale Murphy like swoon. Sizemore appeared in 210 games total from 2009-2011 and his production (.234/.314/.413) plummeted.

At 22 and 23, Sizemore’s career trajectory looked a lot like Duke Snider’s did at similar ages. At 24 and 25, his career resembled the great Barry Bonds. Now, he looks a lot like Trot Nixon, Reggie Smith (albeit a very good player), Bobby Bonilla, Ron Gant and Ellis Burks.

For awhile, Sizemore did it all. He is his high school’s all time leader in rushing yards and was a third round pick in the MLB draft. He was a shooting star and was part of the massive Bartolo Colon trade (Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips), which basically ended the Expos. Heck, at the time, he even signed a pretty nice contract with an incredibly friendly 2012 club option – yet that option was declined (thankfully he got back together with Indians and hopefully his body will heal).

If this is just Sizemore playing out the string with a body that quit on him, let’s remember his 2006 season. He became the second player in MLB history to have at least 50 doubles, 10 triples, 25 home runs, and 20 stolen bases in a single season.

Here’s hoping he finds the magic elixir.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You out on the Flip Side: Tim Lollar

I don’t know if I want to see a little bit of Ron Swanson in everyone, but clearly, if you major in Forestry, you have a bit of Swanson in you. According to the College Board, “If you go into forestry, you’ll have to balance growing trees for wood products with preserving the variety of living things in an area.” Apparently 119 colleges offer degrees in forestry, including SUNY Morrisville, which is near my alma mater.

Lollar had a meandering career for a guy who spent just seven years in the majors. He was drafted in the fourth round in 1978 by the New York Yankees, made his major league debut two years later and was traded the subsequent year to the San Diego Padres in a deal that brought our man and fellow flip sider, Ruppert Jones to the Pads.

He did his best and worst work for the Padres. By far, his two best seasons were 1982 and 1984. Unfortunately, his 1984 post-season experience was horrible. He started one game in the NLCS and World Series. In the NLCS, he pitched 4.1 innings and gave up three runs. He’d be mightily worse in the Series, going just 1.2 innings and giving up 4 runs.

After the season, he, Ozzie Guillen, Bill Long and Luis Salazar were traded to the White Sox for LaMarr Hoyt, Kevin Kristan and Todd Simmons. This wasn’t a particularly good trade for the Padres. Guillen was worth 14.9 WAR for the Sox and Long was worth 2.1 WAR. Salazar (-0.5 WAR) and Lollar (0.4 WAR) cancelled each other out. Meanwhile, Hoyt was worth 1.7 WAR and pitched for the Padres for just two years. Neither Kristan nor Simmons made the majors.

Aside from being part of the deal that brought Guillen to Chicago, Lollar is likely remembered for his hitting acumen. He finished with a .234/.286/.377 line, but hit 1.000/1.000/1.000 in his last year in the majors.

He did hit eight round trippers in just four seasons in the NL. And, somewhat bizarrely, he pinch hit for position players twice in the American League. The first was August 13, 1985, when he hit for Jackie Gutierrez (who finished with a .237/.261/.285 line).

The second was on August 12, 1986, when Lollar hit for Rey Quinones (another no-hit shortstop who finished with a .243/.287/.357 line). Lollar actually singled off Dan Quisenberry, but that no-hit slacker Wade Boggs grounded out afterward to end the game.

At least Lollar went out on top, singling in his last MLB at bat.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You out on the Flip Side: Len Matuszek

As you read this on a Kindle or iPad, remember that, not too long ago, it was odd that someone was into “audio and video recording.” Hell, I made three videos of my puppy last night. Fellow 1987 Flip Sider (and one-time Phillie), Dan Schatzeder also had a thing for video recorders.

Things sure have come a long way since 1987 – it does seem like the “nerds” have taken over. I’m not just talking about stat geeks, but if you watch commercials for the latest video games, some of the biggest stars (Kobe, Jonah Hill, etc.) are itching to be in them. It is, quite frankly, cool to play video games. Of course, I play MVP Baseball 2005, NCAA Football 2010 and GTA Vice City, so I might be behind the times.

Matuszek is a Pong-esque relic from a different era, a no-hit corner guy. He was drafted by Philadelphia in the 5th round in 1976.

He toiled in the minors from 1976-1980, touching double digit homers once, but showing a decent ability to get on base (he never posted an OBP below .345). He made his debut in 1981, but saw just 14 plate appearances. He got triple the plate appearances the following year, but hit horribly (.077/.119/.103).

He got significantly more run in 1983 (87 plate appearances) and looked good (.275/.306/.525), at least by 1983 Yuengling-goggles standards.

Following that small sample size opposition pitching drubbing, the Phillies installed Matuszek as their starting first baseman in 1984. He just happened to be replacing Pete Rose. He didn’t do so hot, though, hitting just .248/.350/.458. That OBP could play but the lack of power couldn’t.

He was shipped to the Blue Jays in April of 1985 and then from Toronto to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July for a broken down Al Oliver. He didn’t do anything for the Dodgers, aside from appearing in three games in the NLCS and going 1/1 with a run.

Two years later, he went .067/.125/.067 after 16 plate appearances, and his major league career would be over.

Hey more time for the AV club.

 

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h2h Corner ~ Check You out on the Flip Side: Floyd Rayford

Electric trains are not a hobby. Baseball cards are not a hobby. Collecting baseball cards is a hobby. Organizing, trading, reading and analyzing baseball cards is an obsession.

Collecting electric trains is a hobby, as is erecting electric train sets and villages and what have you’s – generally anything that gets you whacked by the mob.

I can understand the joy of electric trains…I think. When I was a kid, I had a long looping wooden track. I had hundreds of trains/cars/trucks, etc. I would set them up bumper to bumper in some order that made sense to a five year old. Then I would start with one and push them around. I would then swap some vehicle positioning and push them around the track again. My little mind found this incredibly fun and pleasing.

Hey to each his own, Rayford clearly needed a hobby to take his mind off the trials and tribulations of life in the minor/major leagues.

Rayford was drafted in 1975 by the California Angels and reached  AAA in 1979. The following season, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles along with a bag o’ cash for Larry Harlow, who had a decent season in 1980 for the Angles but would be out of baseball after 1981. Rayford wasn’t ready for prime time, however, as he spent the majority of 1980 and ’81 in the minors, appearing in the longest game in baseball history, a 33-inning, eight hour and 25 minute affair.

He got to play sparingly in 1982 with the big league club and was replaced by Cal Ripken at third on May 30, thus launching the longest consecutive games played streak in baseball history.

He was bounced between the Cardinals and Orioles for the next few years and would be finished in the majors after the 1987 season, the year this card was printed. Still, he had successes in limited opportunities. In 1985, he hit .306/.324/.521 and 18 HRs in 372 plate appearances.

Before he officially retired form ball, he played in the minors from 89-91, appearing in just 81 games as a player. He actually had a tougher task than playing, as he was a player-coach the last two seasons.

I do hope he got a World Series ring for 1982, that could be the centerpiece of this model train set.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You out on the Flip Side: Jeff Suppan

So Jeff Suppan was the Todd Van Poppel of the mid-90s? That was my initial reaction to the blurb on the back of the card.

However, that’s not really true.

As the card points out, Suppan had all the promise and pedigree of a highly touted young pitcher (he had more stuff than fluff which was the case with Van Poppel). And you can’t really fault those press clippings, as Suppan tore through the minors. In 1996, at AAA and just 21-years-old, Suppan had a 5.68 K:BB rate.

For whatever reason, though, his stuff at that time just couldn’t fool major league hitters. While he posted nearly a K per inning in the minors, he struggled to strike out more than five batters per nine with the Red Sox. After three unsuccessful seasons and 39 appearances (29 starts) with a 5.99 ERA, 1.60 WHIP and 1.83 K:BB rate, the Red Sox left him unprotected in the 1997 expansion draft* and the Diamondbacks pounced (that’s probably a poor onomatopoeia).

He pitched horribly for Arizona and they soon sold him to Kansas City. While his tenure with the Royals was unspectacular, he pitched over 200 innings during each of his four full years there (from 1999-2002), combining for a 4.79 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and 1.60 K:BB rate. Dude just ate innings, pitching the seventh most during that span – just behind Livan Hernandez, Mike Mussina, Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling, Tom Glavine and Randy Johnson.

After 2002, he signed as a free agent with the Pirates, who quickly traded him and Brandon Lyon to the Red Sox for Mike Gonzalez, Freddy Sanchez and dollar dollar bills. Talk about a deal involving some average players who ended up making serious bank. It was a one-year deal, so Suppan found himself a free agent again in 2003.

That’s when he met the god that is Dave Duncan. From 2004-2006, he threw 572 innings for the Cardinals, posting a 3.95 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 1.67 K:BB rate. Sure it was mostly smoke and mirrors, but that’s some quality durability.

He also came through when it matted. He went 3-3 in the post-season for the Cardinals during that stretch and dominated the New York Mets in 2006. He threw 15 innings and allowed one earned run. He was the MVP of the NLCS that year and even took Steve Trachsel (a very similar pitcher) deep in game three.

After his splendid 2006 regular and post season, Suppan was treated to a four-year $42 million contract by the Brewers (good gosh, my golly, what a folly). He pitched wretchedly for the Brewers, prompting one fan to put Suppan up for sale on eBay.

He was eventually released, but scooped up by the Cardinals. He posted a 3.84 ERA, 1.49 WHIP and 1.32 K:BB rate for the Cardinals in 70.1 IPs during 2010. That would be his last season in the majors.

While I was able to mention Suppan in the same breath as Maddux in this piece, he never lived up to those press clippings. However, the $58 million he earned in his playing time, the NLCS MVP, 2006 World Champion and 12.8 WAR suggest he was a far better player than Van Poppel ever was (TVP was worth -2.1 WAR during his career).

*Man, there were four total All-stars in that draft (although possibly a Hall of Famer in Bobby Abreu). One All-star, Damian Miller, I vaguely remember as a subpar catcher. While I was annoyed Esteban Yan was gone from the Orioles, it didn’t hurt as much as Aaron Ledesma being scooped up in the final round. I was 15 when he played for the Orioles – I had no clue he was 26 at the time as I had never heard of him. That year was magical for the Orioles (at least for awhile) and I remember an 11-3 loss to the Tigers pretty well. Jimmy Key continued his second half swoon and Esteban Yan compounded the damage, but a scrappy infielder went 2-4, raising his average to .345. Ledesma hit .352 that year for the Orioles but didn’t make a postseason appearance. The following year he hit .324 for Tampa Bay, then would be out of baseball two years later. The only two HRs he ever hit were for the Orioles and he finished with a .296/.338/.365 line. His dWAR seems average, so I’m surprised his bat never stuck. Maybe he just wasn’t that good…like Luis Mercedes.

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