Thursday, February 23, 2012


Suspend your disbelief. Ryan Braun's 50-game suspension was overturned today by baseball arbitrator Shyam Das. This is the first time a baseball player has successfully challenged a drug-related penalty in a grievance.

The decision was announced one day before Braun was due to report to Spring Training. Talk about coming down to the wire! If you'll recall, Braun tested positive for elevated testosterone in October, and ESPN broke the story in December.

MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred and union head Michael Weiner were part of the arbitration panel, and they split their vote 1-1. Das, an independent panel member, was the deciding vote.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Every Mensch Has His Month

Ryan Braun's best month was April. He posted a line of .358/.441/.695 for an OPS of 1.136 in 95 ABs. He hit 9 HRs, 3 doubles, 1 triple, drove in 22 runs, scored 21 runs, stole 3 bases, and had a BB/K ratio of 14/16. It should be noted that Braun posted an OPS well above .900 every single month except May, which was .796.

Craig Breslow's best month was September. He pitched 12 innings and posted a 2.25 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. He gave up 3 runs on 8 hits (.195 BAA), 1 HR, 3 BBs, and 8 Ks.

Ike Davis' best month (and only full month of play) was April. He posted a line of .337/.414/.600 for an OPS of 1.014 in 95 ABs. He hit 5 HRs, 8 doubles, 1 triple, drove in 20 runs, and scored 16 runs.

Scott Feldman's best month was August. He was 1-0 in 19 innings and posted a 2.84 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He gave up 6 runs on 14 hits (.206 BAA), 2 HRs, 5 BBs, and 14 Ks.

Sam Fuld's best month was August (However, his most productive month was April). He posted a line of .296/.472/.444 for an OPS of .917 in 27 ABs. He hit 2 doubles, 1 triple, drove in 1 run, scored 5 runs, stole 1 base, and had a BB/K ratio of 9/7. In April, he posted a line of .289/.358/.433 for an OPS of .791 in 97 ABs. He hit 1 HR, 7 doubles, 2 triples, drove in 8 runs, scored 17 runs, stole 10 bases, and had a BB/K ratio of 11/13.

John Grabow's best month was August. He was 1-0 in 12 innings and posted a 3.00 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. He gave up 6 runs (4 earned) on 11 hits (.250 BAA), 1 HR, 4 BBs, and 8 Ks.

Ian Kinsler's best month was September, which carried over into the postseason. He posted a line of .330/.421/.711 for an OPS of 1.132 in 97 ABs. He hit 11 HRs, 2 doubles, 1 triple, drove in 17 runs, scored 29 runs, stole 8 bases, and had a BB/K ratio of 16/10.

Ryan Lavarnway's best month was August. He posted a line of .304/.407/.391 for an OPS of .799 in 23 ABs. He hit 2 doubles, drove in 3 runs, scored 3 runs, and had a BB/K ratio of 4/6.

Jason Marquis' best month was April. He was 3-0 in 34 1/3 innings and posted a 2.62 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. He gave up 10 runs on 35 hits (.269 BAA), 1 HR, 5 BBs, and 24 Ks. For those wondering, that comes out to a 4.8 K/BB ratio. All 5 of his starts were quality starts, and the last one that month was a complete game shutout against the Giants.

Josh Satin didn't have a best month, as he only played in September with limited success. He posted a line of .200/.259/.240 for an OPS of .499 in 25 ABs. He hit 1 double, drove in 2 runs, and scored 3 runs.

Michael Schwimer's best month was August. He pitched 5 innings and posted a 3.60 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. He gave up 2 runs on 4 hits (.222 BAA), 1 HR, 2 BBs, and 5 Ks.

Danny Valencia's best month was July. He posted a line of .303/.336/.468 for an OPS of .804 in 109 ABs. He hit 4 HRs, 6 doubles, drove in 20 runs, and scored 15 runs.

Kevin Youkilis' best month was June. He posted a line of .289/.408/.482 for an OPS of .890 in 83 ABs. He hit 3 HRs, 7 doubles, drove in 21 runs, scored 14 runs, and had a BB/K ratio of 16/15.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bill James' 2012 Projections

Sorry for the lack of updates, faithful readers. I've been really busy. New job. New residence. Very little free time.

Ryan Braun: 157 games, 674 PAs, 195 hits, .317/.382/.571 for an OPS of .953, 35 HRs, 43 doubles, 4 triples, 115 RBIs, 111 runs scored, 59 BBs, 25 SBs, 7 CS, 351 total bases, 8.8 BB%, 16.0 K%, .254 ISO

Obviously, Braun's current projections would be contingent on his 50-game suspension being overturned. We should find out on Monday whether or not Braun's suspension will be reduced, thrown out, or upheld. Either way, the 28-year old reigning NL MVP should have a good season. You would think he would be extra motivated. Then again, the added pressure could get to him. If he misses some time, the counting numbers will take a hit. Braun will also miss the protection Prince Fielder provided. Still, Aramis Ramirez is no slouch. The 351 total bases would set a new career-high (currently 350 back in 2009), as would the 115 RBIs (114 in 2009). This would be Braun's third 20/20 season and his second 25/25 season.

Craig Breslow: 4-3, 62 innings, 3.34 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 8.0 H/9, 0.73 HR/9, 3.34 BB/9, 7.84 K/9, 2.4 K/BB, 3.60 FIP

This would be a nice bounceback season for Breslow. I think these numbers are very reasonable for the 31-year old southpaw. I don't think his WHIP will be in the 1.5 range like it was in 2011. However, I could see it being in the 1.3 range. He did give up a lot of hits last year, and his strikeout rate was noticeably down. I'm sure if you asked Breslow right now if he'd take these numbers, he'd give you an emphatic yes.

Ike Davis: 141 games, 593 PAs, 150 hits, .288/.377/.504 for an OPS of .881, 25 HRs, 35 doubles, 1 triple, 87 RBIs, 80 runs scored, 73 BBs, 262 total bases, 12.3 BB%, 20.9 K%, .216 ISO

It looked like this was the kind of season Ike was going to have in 2011 before he got permanently sidelined with that foot injury. I don't think James is overshooting the mark here at all. Hopefully, Ike plays more than the 141 games projected. If he comes close to 162 games, 30 HRs and 40 doubles are not out of reach, especially with Citi Field's dimensions being moved in. The Mets will miss Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, but Lucas Duda arrived last season and David Wright should return to form this year and that can only mean good things for Ike. The soon-to-be 25-year old slugger has shown he can hang with the big boys. If he stays healthy, the numbers will be there by season's end.

Scott Feldman: 3-3, 60 innings (4 starts, 17 appearances), 4.05 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 9.5 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 2.7 BB/9, 5.1 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 4.51 FIP

Apart from the ERA, this is pretty much in line with Feldman's career numbers. This would be a decent year when you consider that Feldman is a swingman. Feldman gave the Rangers quality innings in 2009, 2011, and the postseason last year. His peripherals last season were also impressive, although I could see him coming back down to Earth somewhat. At the same time, his new and improved changeup that he used in 2011 is a weapon in his arsenal that he didn't have before. The 29-year old Feldman can't like the fact that Albert Pujols is in the division now, but the Mariners and A's will still have relatively weak lineups.

Sam Fuld: 65 games, 131 PAs, 29 hits, .248/.333/.342 for an OPS of .675, 1 HR, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 9 RBIs, 14 runs scored, 14 BBs, 6 SBs, 3 CS, 40 total bases, 10.7 BB%, 10.7 K%, 0.94 ISO

With the defense Fuld provides in the outfield, pretty much anything he gives you at the plate is gravy. James projects a dropoff in playing time for Fuld, and that's hard to argue with the talented Desmond Jennings now in the mix. That said, I could see Fuld putting up better numbers than this. Last year, he may have gotten exposed somewhat because of how much he played. In a smaller sample size, a player like Fuld could really flourish. Joe Maddon likes to run and gave Fuld the green light a lot in 2011, so I think he could easily swipe 10+ bags in 2012. I don't think he'll duplicate the slash line he had with the Cubs in 2009, but a line of .270/.355/.355 wouldn't surprise me for the 30-year old sparkplug.

John Grabow: 3-4, 58 innings, 4.50 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 9.0 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 4.2 BB/9, 7.0 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 4.60 FIP

There's no guarantee Grabow will even pitch in the Majors this year; he has a minor league contract with the Dodgers. Coming off 2 consecutive subpar seasons, the 33-year old southpaw has a lot to prove. These numbers would not constitute a great season. However, they would be a slight improvement over last year. I'd honestly be surprised if Grabow logs this many innings in 2012. At this point in his career, facing righties probably isn't a good idea, so 30 or so innings seems more realistic.

Ian Kinsler: 146 games, 647 PAs, 156 hits, .271/.358/.468 for an OPS of .826, 25 HRs, 34 doubles, 2 triples, 78 RBIs, 108 runs scored, 72 BBs, 25 SBs, 7 CS, 269 total bases, 11.1 BB%, 11.6 K%, .197 ISO

Pretty much the type of season we've come to expect from Kinsler, assuming he can stay on the field. This would be his fourth 20/20 season and his third 25/25 season. Kinsler epitomizes a five-tool player and is a terrific table-setter. On another team, he'd be a very good run producer as well. James' 2012 slash line is almost identical to Kinsler's career line of .275/.355/.469. Can't argue with this projection for the Rangers' 29-year old elite second baseman, nor would I want to. We're not there yet, but it will be interesting to see what the Rangers do with Kinsler and double play partner Elvis Andrus after 2013. Kinsler is signed through 2013 and the 23-year old Andrus is signed through 2014. Why is it interesting, you ask? Look up their top position prospect, Jurickson Profar. He's a middle infielder, and he could be just a few years away from The Show.

Ryan Lavarnway: 77 games, 231 PAs, 57 hits, .275/.351/.527 for an OPS of .878, 13 HRs, 13 doubles, 41 RBIs, 31 runs scored, 24 BBs, 109 total bases, 10.4 BB%, 21.6 K%, .252 ISO

If Lavarnway comes close to these numbers, I could live with the playing time James projects for him in 2012. All signs point to the Red Sox platooning Lavarnway and Jarrod Saltalamacchia at catcher. Lavarnway mashes against lefties. Salty does not. Salty can hit righties. Lavarnway is more of an unknown against them. Defensively, each of them leaves something to be desired, although as of right now Salty has the edge. But there are other factors to consider. Who calls a better game? Who represents the future and who is the stopgap guy? Lavarnway is 24. Salty will turn 27 in May. We've seen what Salty can do with nearly 1,300 MLB plate appearances. Lavarnway is more of a mystery, to be sure, but he also has way more upside. Curiously enough, Saltalamacchia has the longest last name in MLB history. But I have a feeling when it's all said and done, Lavarnway's name will resonate more with Red Sox fans and the front office.

Jason Marquis: 6-8, 118 innings (21 starts), 4.42 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 9.7 H/9, 0.9 HR/9, 3.1 BB/9, 5.0 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 4.50 FIP

Once considered a reliable innings eater, Marquis has failed to come close to 200 innings in each of the last 2 seasons. For 20 starts last year with the Nationals, Marquis was more than serviceable, posting a 3.95 ERA with a record of 8-5. But his subsequent 3 disastrous starts and season-ending injury with the Diamondbacks marred what had been a fairly decent season. Marquis will start 2012 in the AL in spacious Target Field with the Twins. He has never pitched for a team in the AL before. While the AL is the harder league to pitch in for obvious reasons (DH), it also usually takes half a season for hitters to adjust to pitchers they haven't faced much before, so that bodes well for Marquis, especially when you consider that he is more of a 1st half pitcher (career 4.29 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, .260 BAA). His home park also doesn't yield very many HRs, and he's a groundball pitcher. Then again, the Twins don't have great infielders, so pitching to contact with that team may not be the best recipe for success. James' projections for Marquis aren't inspiring, but they could be worse. Or better. 

Danny Valencia: 114 games, 402 PAs, 104 hits, .278/.328/.420 for an OPS of .748, 9 HRs, 24 doubles, 1 triple, 50 RBIs, 46 runs scored, 28 BBs, 157 total bases, 7.0 BB%, 15.2 K%, .142 ISO

One player Marquis will be counting on to turn groundballs into outs is this guy. Valencia's projections for games played and PAs are a little strange, as the Twins' top prospect and third baseman, Miguel Sano, is still a few years away from being a threat to Valencia's playing time; Sano hasn't even played in Single-A yet. And I seriously doubt the Twins would risk rushing him and stunting his development. Still, James' slash line for Valencia would be a significant improvement over his 2011 line (.246/.294/.383) and more akin to his 2010 line (.311/.351/.448). According to James, Valencia's walk rate, strikeout rate, and ISO will all improve next year. Valencia will be 27 in 2012, and that's usually a magic number for ballplayers. A magic trick consist of 3 stages: The Pledge, The Turn, and The Prestige (great movie, by the way). This will be Valencia's 3rd stage (season) in MLB. Do you believe in magic?

Kevin Youkilis: 135 games, 576 PAs, 140 hits, .281/.389/.489 for an OPS of .878, 21 HRs, 37 doubles, 2 triples, 86 RBIs, 87 runs scored, 77 BBs, 244 total bases, 13.4 BB%, 19.6 K%, .208 ISO

The good news: Youk reportedly just got engaged to Julie Brady, Tom Brady's sister. The bad news: Youk hasn't been able to stay on the field for more than 120 games in each of the last 2 seasons. The 3-time All-Star will be 33 in 2012 and injuries have been a problem for him. He had a really good 1st half in 2011 (.911 OPS), but his 2nd half (.660) is one I'm sure he'd like to forget. We can give him a pass for that 2nd half, though, because he was playing hurt. James' projections for Youk don't seem outlandish to me. The .208 ISO is around what it was last year (.204), and that is a departure from what it had been the previous 3 seasons (around .250). If James is to be believed, Youk's ability to drive the ball isn't what it used to be. Still, the 2012 slash line is right around Youk's career line of .289/.391/.492. I don't think him playing in 135 games is unreasonable, either. He's signed through 2013 with the Red Sox, but I would not be surprised to see him dealt before then. Theo Epstein recently acquired former Red Sox prospect, Anthony Rizzo, for the Cubs. The Cubs are clearly in rebuilding mode and could use a solid veteran like Youk to man the hot corner for them and set a good example for their younger players, now that Aramis Ramirez is gone. We'll see how the Ian Stewart experiment goes. Epstein has always been very fond of Youk. Can you see how much I want this to happen?