Tag Archives: Roy Halladay

Season Preview: Playoffs and Awards


With less than a week until opening day, here’s my predictions for the playoffs and the major awards as well. I already gave my division winners in each division preview post, but here’s a recap:

NL: San Francisco, Milwaukee, Philadelphia
AL: Texas, Minnesota, Boston

My two wild card predictions are Atlanta and Tampa Bay. As a result, here’s my playoff matchups:

Atlanta vs. San Francisco
Milwaukee vs. Philadelphia
Tampa Bay vs. Minnesota
Texas vs. Boston

I think that San Francisco and Philadelphia will both just have too much pitching not to advance in these matchups, and will face each other in the NL Championship. On the other side, I think that Tampa and Boston will be the top two teams overall in the league, and will advance to the AL Championship

Tampa Bay vs. Boston
San Francisco vs. Philadelphia

In the AL Championship, I think that the Boston lineup will be just too much for Tampa, despite potential flaws in the Boston pitching staff. In the National League, the addition of a 4th ace by the Phillies may be too much for the Giants, but it will definitely be a series that is built around pitching.

Boston vs. Philadelphia

In what appears likely to be the top offensive team facing off against one of the best pitching staffs in recent memory, I think that Philadelphia would likely defeat Boston. Off the top of my head guess makes me think it will take 6 games.

Awards Predictions

Here’s my picks for the major awards:

AL Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson
NL Rookie of the Year: Brandon Belt
AL Cy Young Award: Jon Lester
NL Cy Young Award: Roy Halladay
AL Most Valuable Player: Evan Longoria
NL Most Valuable Player: Ryan Braun
AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon
NL Manager of the Year: Ron Roenicke

Who Are the Faces of the Franchise? NL East Edition


Time to start looking at the Senior Circuit, beginning with the 5 teams in the East…

  • Braves – This one has to be Chipper Jones as of right now. He’s easily the longest tenured Brave, has been with the team his entire career, and has been an excellent player throughout. I could see this role going to either Brian McCann or Jason Heyward when Chipper finally decides to hang them up.
  • Marlins – For better or worse, it’s definitely Hanley Ramirez for the Marlins. The largest contract in the history of the team was given to Hanley, and was well deserved based on his performance. The only thing I can remember even remotely being negative around him was when his previous manager called him out for a lack of hustle.
  • Mets – David Wright and Jose Reyes really stand out to me for the Mets. I’d be more inclined to give the nod to Wright since he has not been injured nearly as often as Reyes in recent years, and it could continue that way with Reyes potentially being a free agent after this season.
  • Phillies – This one’s actually a lot more difficult than I would have thought it would be. There are so many big name players on the Phillies now that picking one by themselves is very difficult. Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Roy Halladay could all vie for this role, but I think for now it has to be Ryan Howard. The former MVP seems to be out front for the organization more than any other player, including Halladay.
  • Nationals – Last year, I would have said it had to be Stephen Strasburg. But with his injury, and the gigantic contract given to Jayson Werth, Werth has to be the de facto face of the franchise. It remains to be seen whether or not he can live up to the expectations that come with a contract that size, but for now it’s definitely on him to try.

Free Agent Review – Cliff Lee to the Phillies


Wow. That’s pretty much all I can say.

With the news overnight that there may have been as much as $50 million left on the table by one Clifton Phifer Lee, it has been a complete shock to see that Cliff Lee has agreed to sign with the Phillies. The terms appear to be for 5 years, $115 million dollars, with an option for a 6th year that might be reasonably achievable.

From the Phillies Perspective

Honestly, I’m not sure I understand this entirely. Clearly, Lee is more than $10 M better than Joe Blanton ($20M salary for Lee, $10.5M for Blanton), but this seems a bit excessive. Adding Lee now brings them a 4th ace to go with Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt for next season. The part that could really kill the Phillies long term is the amount of money they have tied up. The Phillies will most likely have the highest payroll of any team not playing in the Bronx next year, and have a ton of money committed to their roster already for 2012, 2013, and 2014.

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Fantasy Rankings in Review – Starting Pitchers


Back in February, I took my first shot at attempting to rank players for fantasy purposes. After a full season, I thought it wise to take a look back at how they went, and compare them to how it actually turned out and see if there is anything to be gained from it. You can find my preseason rankings here and here. Next up is the review of my SP rankings.

Yahoo’s Final Rankings (Top 25)

1.     Roy Halladay
2.     Adam Wainwright
3.     Felix Hernandez
4.     Roy Oswalt
5.     Ubaldo Jimenez
6.     Jered Weaver
7.     David Price
8.     Josh Johnson
9.     Cliff Lee
10.  Mat Latos
11.  C.C. Sabathia
12.  Jon Lester
13.  Justin Verlander
14.  Matt Cain
15.  Tim Hudson
16.  Clayton Kershaw
17.  Trevor Cahill
18.  Clay Buchholz
19.  Cole Hamels
20.  Chris Carpenter
21.  Jonathan Sanchez
22.  Tim Lincecum
23.  Brett Myers
24.  Johan Santana
25.  Ted Lilly

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Season Previews in Review: American League East


Back during Spring Training, I took a look at each team and made predictions about how each team would do and how I thought their season would go. This was the first year doing this, and I figured now was a good time to take a look back and see how it went. I’ll be going a division at a time, starting with the American League East.

Baltimore Orioles

Predicted Record: 70-92            Actual Record: 66-96

It was a tale of two seasons for the Orioles, as they spent the first half of the season clearly as the worst team in all of baseball. Nothing seemed to go right for the team, and it ended up costing manager Dave Trembley his job before too long. This left interim skipper Juan Samuel to try and right the ship, while the Orioles also continued to look for his (and Trembley’s) replacement. By the August 31st trade deadline, the team had managed to ship just one of its movable pieces for prospects with Miguel Tejada being traded to the Padres. But they had also hired Buck Showalter to manage the team, and the team has already seen a drastic improvement. This record would have actually been much further off if not for the late-season turnaround.

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The NL Walter Johnson Award


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Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we have been voting on our award winners for the regular season. Previously I have announced my votes for the Connie Mack awards (Best Manager of the Year), the Willie Mays awards (Top Rookie), and the Goose Gossage awards (Top Reliever). Now we’re starting to get down to the big boys, as I take a look at my vote for the National League’s top pitcher, the Walter Johnson award recipient.

As good as the pitching was in the American League, the sheer quantity and quality of the candidates in the National League may be even better. So many excellent season out of the league’s top pitchers lead me to believe that there had definitely been a shift of the balance towards pitchers in the National League.  Before going into the candidates themselves, let’s go over a bit of what I think the top pitcher should represent:

Wins, Losses, and Run Support

The top pitcher doesn’t necessarily need to lead the league in wins, as they are pretty clearly not a great indicator of how a pitcher actually fared. That said, they aren’t worthless either, and I think that it’s important to acknowledge that the goal of the game is to win. But with the shift to specialists out of the bullpen, I think that a pitcher has less control than he has ever had over wins. While we as baseball analysts try to find a way to establish what a pitcher is truly responsible for and what he is not, it is impossible to ignore that run support given to a pitcher also plays a key piece of wins. A pitcher could throw a perfect game, but if the team doesn’t score any runs for him in the game, he won’t necessarily still earn himself a win.

ERA, WHIP, FIP, SIERA, and WAR

I’ve discussed before why ERA is a deceiving statistic, and I think it will definitely show itself to be true as we review the cases for the top pitchers. But coupled with advanced statistics like FIP, SIERA, and WAR, I think we start to get an idea of whether or not a pitcher was truly dominant, a bit lucky, or somewhere in between. They provide value to look at, but can’t be the end all of statistics to look at. WHIP falls a bit in the same category for me as well.

Strikeouts, Walks, and Innings Pitched

Strikeouts and walks are really two of the few things that a pitcher can really exert control over. More strikeouts generally are a good thing, and less walks are always a good thing. They are also taken into the picture by me and are given weight along with the other statistics. Innings pitched to me represent not only the trust that the manager of their team places in their ability to get out of jams, but also their ability to get outs.

Intangibles

There’s always a little bit of the human element to pitching, and I think it’s important to look at some of the things that aren’t necessarily measurable. These can include, but are definitely not limited to: whether the pitcher is in the playoff race, what kind of stories are occurring around the team, and even the role that the pitcher is being asked to fill.

With all that (phew!), here’s my top candidates for the NL Walter Johnson award. Players are listed from east to west, and my vote will be at the bottom. For this award, it’s a 5 person ballot. Also, when you’re talking about the best of anything, it invariably ends up a bit nit-picky when it comes to differentiating candidates. Everyone on this list had a great season, and it just comes down to trying to determine small ways in which one was better than the rest. There’s not a whole lot to say about each player as a result, and so instead here are the statistics that I looked at for each player, and then I’ll go into my logic for my decision.

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The Season’s Top Stories: The Year of the Pitcher?


Throughout the month of October, I’ll be reviewing some of the top stories that were in the newly completed regular season. I wrote last week about the 2010 rookie class, and today’s post looks at the amazing season from pitchers in 2010.

The No-Hitters

The season was one for the ages in terms of no-hitters and perfect games, as there were 5 (3 no-hitters, 2 perfect games) thrown during the regular season. It started on April 17th with Ubaldo Jimenez blanking the Braves, and continued with the perfect games by Dallas Braden on Mother’s Day and Roy Halladay 20 days later. The Rays were involved in their 3rd no-hitter in a calendar year on June 25th, as they were blanked by Edwin Jackson of the Diamondbacks. A month after that, the Rays were finally on the positive end of a no-hitter when Matt Garza threw one against the Tigers.

The Low Hitters

In addition to the no-hitters, there were what seemed to be an inordinate amount of low hitters:

  • 1 hitters: 23 in 2010, 21 in 2009
  • 2 hitters: 45 in 2010, 52 in 2009
  • 3 hitters: 133 in 2010, 104 in 2009

And of course, there were the near misses, with the most notable clearly being the start of Armando Galarraga on June 2nd where he came within 1 out of a perfect game.

The Overall Numbers

Looking at the numbers of the top pitchers in the game, it’s amazing to see how they compared to last season. Each of these categories list the number of players who met the standard in 2010, followed by 2009:

  • ERA of 3.00 or less: 15 in 2010, 11 in 2009
  • 16 or more victories: 17, 12
  • 4 or more complete games: 12, 7
  • 2 or more shutouts: 9, 12
  • 220 or more innings pitched: 15, 10
  • 200 or more strikeouts: 15, 10
  • ERA+ of 130 or higher: 21, 21
  • WHIP of 1.20 or lower: 29, 17

Even the advanced statistics start showing us things as well:

  • FIP of 3.oo or lower: 5, 5
  • FIP of 3.50 or lower: 24, 17
  • WAR of 4 or higher: 31, 20

The thing that really stands out to me is that while there were definitely some elite numbers posted by some of the pitchers, as a general rule the entirety of the pitchers improved from previous seasons. The overall ERA for all pitchers: 4.08 in 2010, 4.32 in 2009. Even when looking at the fielding percentages to see if there were more errors being committed, the numbers don’t even bear that out as a problem: 3030 errors in 2010, 2865 in 2009, which translates to a difference of approximately 1/10th of an error more per game. Essentially, a negligible number in comparison to the drop in ERA.

It is hard for me to say what it is that is specifically causing the pitchers to be that much better, and while it would be easy to immediately chalk it up to the lessened amount of PEDs and amphetamines in the game, I think we could also be seeing another shift in the quality of players away from the hitters and slightly toward the pitchers again. It’s almost a cop-out in my opinion to decide that drugs are clearly the main cause of this shift. When you look at the sheer quantity of players coming into the Majors who are rapidly evolving into elite pitchers regardless of their role on the team, I think it speaks volumes about the development of the game and its ability to adjust as the game progresses through history.

I will be posting my selections for the Walter Johnson awards in the next few days, which select the top pitchers in each league, and it is really going to be a difficult choice this season when you look at how many pitchers had great seasons.

Original Draft Series: #4 – Toronto Blue Jays


For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.

Team #4: Toronto Blue Jays

General Managers(since 1994)

Pat Gillick (1994): 55-64
Gord Ash (1995-2001): 541-575
J.P. Ricciardi (2002-2009): 642-653
Current GM: Alex Anthopoulos

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Last
0 0 0 0 1 9 3 3

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C J.P. Arencibia 2007 – 1st Rd (21) 3 6 gm, .217/.217/.522, 2 HR, 4 RBI Currently with Org.
1B Casey Blake 1996 – 7th Rd 3 14 gm, .256/.293/.385, HR, RBI Selected off waivers by IN – 5/23/00
2B Orlando Hudson
1997 – 43rd Rd 8 1 Gold Glove
462 gm, .270/.328/.418, 35 HR, 201 RBI, 19 SB
Traded to ARI – 12/27/05
3B Michael Young 1997 – 5th Rd 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to TEX – 7/19/00
SS Felipe Lopez 1998 – 1st Rd (8) 4 134 gm, .240/.293/.399, 13 HR, 57 RBI, 9 SB Traded to CIN – 12/15/02
LF Reed Johnson 1999 – 17th Rd 8 610 gm, .281/.342/.410, 42 HR, 234 RBI, 28 SB Released – 3/23/08
CF Vernon Wells 1997 – 1st Rd (5) 13 3 All Star Appearances, 3 Gold Gloves, 1 Silver Slugger
1367 gm, .279/.328/.472, 215 HR, 794 RBI, 89 SB
Currently with Org.
RF Alex Rios
1999 – 1st Rd (19) 10 2 All Star Appearances
809 gm, .285/.335/.451, 81 HR, 395 RBI, 112 SB
Selected off waivers by CHW – 8/10/09
DH Adam Lind 2004 – 3rd Rd 6 1 Silver Slugger
475 gm, .271/.323/.470, 76 HR, 270 RBI
Currently with Org.
SP Shaun Marcum 2003 – 3rd Rd 7 35-24, 3.83 ERA, 559.2 IP, 451 K, 178 BB Currently with Org.
SP Roy Halladay
1995 – 1st Rd (17) 14 2003 AL Cy Young Award, 6 All Star Appearances
148-76, 3.43 ERA, 2046.2 IP, 1495 K, 455 BB
Traded to PHI – 12/16/09
SP Ricky Romero 2005 – 1st Rd (6) 5 24-17, 3.95 ERA, 358 IP, 294 K, 148 BB Currently with Org.
SP Brett Cecil
2007 – 1st Rd (38) 3 18-11, 4.35 ERA, 240 IP, 105 K, 45 BB Currently with Org.
SP Chris Carpenter
1993 – 1st Rd (15) 9 49-50, 4.83 ERA, 870.2 IP, 612 K, 331 BB Released – 10/9/02
RP Brandon League 2001 – 2nd Rd 8 7-10, 4.09 ERA, 202.1 IP, 154 K, 73 BB Traded to SEA – 12/23/09
RP Mark Hendrickson 1997 – 20th Rd 6 12-9, 4.94 ERA, 195 IP, 97 K, 52 BB Traded to TAM – 12/14/03
RP Alfredo Aceves Int’l FA – 2001 1 No Major League Appearances with Org. Purchased by Mex. League – 4/24/02
RP Casey Janssen 2004 – 4th Rd 6 14-19, 4.12 ERA, 268.2 IP, 163 K, 70 BB Currently with Org.
RP Kelvim Escobar Int’l FA – 1992 11 58-55, 4.58 ERA, 58 SV, 849 IP, 744 K, 394 BB Left via Free Agency – 10/26/03
CL Brandon Lyon 1999 – 14th Rd 3 6-8, 5.40 ERA, 125 IP, 65 K, 34 BB Selected off waivers – 10/9/02
BN Cesar Izturis
Int’l FA – 1996 5 46 gm, .269/.279/.388, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 8 SB Traded to LA – 12/13/01
BN Aaron Hill 2003 – 1st Rd (13) 7 1 All Star Appearance, 1 Silver Slugger
748 gm, .273/.328/.429, 85 HR, 350 RBI, 22 SB,
Currently with Org.
BN Travis Snider 2006 – 1st Rd (14) 4 161 gm, .248/.318/.434, 20 HR, 66 RBI, 6 SB Currently with Org.
BN Gabe Gross 2001 – 1st Rd (15) 4 84 gm, .226/.316/.326, 4 HR, 23 RBI Traded to MIL – 12/7/05
BN Kevin Cash
Amateur FA – 1999 5 101 gm, .173/.222/.262, 5 HR, 29 RBI Traded to TAM – 12/12/04

June Amateur Draft

The Blue Jays have done better than just about any team with finding and maintaining first round talent. Last year’s rotation featured 3 first round picks (Halladay, Romero, and Cecil), and this season’s lineup features 3 starters from the first round as well (Hill, Snider, Wells). The only position where they are particularly weak is catcher, simply because J.P. Arencibia has not been called up to stay and start yet for the Jays. The key with the Blue Jays has to be their ability to develop pitching, as shown by Marcum, Halladay, Romero, and Cecil. There were even more pitchers who have been at least serviceable in the Majors who were not included because I simply ran out of room. Clearly, not all the moves have been winners (Carpenter, Lyon, Rios), but the team has done extremely well all the same.

International Free Agency

The Blue Jays have not done a whole lot in the international markets, instead choosing to spend their money on draft picks. That said, there really isn’t a lot to like in terms of international free agents here. Kelvim Escobar is really the only player who has become any kind of success in the Majors, with Aceves limited to middle relief only.

Overall Grade

A. The Blue Jays have done poorly in the international markets, but with the amount of talent they have been getting out of the draft, it wasn’t really necessary to have. They’ve established themselves as one of the premier teams when it comes to identifying and developing pitching talent, but don’t get near enough credit for it. In addition, they have also managed to develop Major league starters at nearly every position on the diamond, with some solid players left in reserve as well. They are clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the teams to this point.

Midseason Review


We are halfway through the season and as happens every year, it doesn’t quite go exactly as we all thought it would.

Right before the season started, I wrote up my preseason predictions of how I thought the playoffs and awards would go:

American League

Correct so far: New York Yankees
Incorrect so far: Boston Red Sox (Tampa Bay Rays), Minnesota Twins (Chicago White Sox), Seattle Mariners (Texas Rangers)

National League

Correct so far: None
Incorrect so far: Philadelphia Phillies (Atlanta Braves), Chicago Cubs (Cincinnati Reds), Los Angeles Dodgers (San Diego Padres), St. Louis Cardinals (Colorado Rockies)

League Leaders at the Half

Batting Average: Miguel Cabrera (DET) and Josh Hamilton (TEX) – .346
Runs: Carl Crawford (TAM) – 70
Hits: Martin Prado (ATL) – 121
Home Runs: Jose Bautista (TOR) – 24
Runs Batted In: Miguel Cabrera (DET) – 77
Stolen Bases: Juan Pierre (CHW) – 32

Wins: Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) – 15
ERA: Josh Johnson (FLA) – 1.70
Strikeouts: Jered Weaver (LAA) – 137
Saves: Joakim Soria (KC) – 25

The Top Stories

The Year of the Pitcher Again?

The pitchers look like they may have gained back some of the advantage again versus the hitters, as we’re seeing a lot of amazing performances out of both elite and non-elite pitchers.

Starting Pitchers with an ERA under 3.00: 17
Starting Pitchers with 10+ wins: 12
Starting Pitchers with a FIP under 3.00: 6
Starting Pitchers with a WHIP under 1.10: 14

And of course, there’s the no-hitters:

Let’s not forget Armando Galarraga either, and his near-perfecto on June 2nd.

Ken Griffey Jr Abruptly Retires

Almost randomly,  Ken Griffey Jr. announced his retirement on June 2nd. I wrote up my thoughts on his career shortly after the announcement, but the long and short of it remains that Griffey always seemed to be having more fun than anyone else on the field, and was really a joy to watch play, no matter what he was doing.  I have no doubt in my mind that he’s going into the Hall of Fame at first opportunity.

Sadly, the story was lost among the Armando Galarraga near perfect game, as it happened about an hour after the announcement. Hopefully the Mariners will have him back at some point before the end of the season to really give him a great sendoff.

The Cliff Lee Sweepstakes

The Mariners were widely predicted to win the AL West on the strength of the arms of Felix Hernandez and offseason acquisition Cliff Lee. Unfortunately, the team has floundered quite a bit, to the point where it became only a matter of time for the Mariners to start selling off the pieces, including their newly acquired ace Lee. The trade discussions centered around the unlikely competitors of the Reds, Twins, and Rangers, along with the usual suspects (Yankees, Red Sox, Rays). Nearly every top prospect in their systems was mentioned as the potential trade pieces in return. It was even stranger when the Mariners had come to a deal with the Yankees, only to have that one fall apart and be replaced by a trade with the Rangers. I wrote up what I thought of the trade, and really liked it for both teams involved.

Break Up the Reds and the Padres!

Completely unexpectedly, the Reds and the Padres are both leading their divisions as we approach the All-Star break. The Padres are doing it with the best pitching in the Majors, led by young phenom Mat Latos (10-4, 2.45) and top power hitter Adrian Gonzalez (.301, 18 HR, 56 RBI). The Reds are being led by MVP candidate Joey Votto (.315, 22 HR, 60 RBI, 1.014 OPS), and a resurgent Scott Rolen (.292, 17 HR, 57 RBI). I honestly think that barring some unexpected injuries or other unusual circumstances, both teams have the talent available to hold on to their leads throughout the rest of the season.

3 Teams, A Maxiumum of 2 Spots

The AL East continues to improve every single year, as the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees have been trading 1st through 3rd in the division back and forth all season. Through Friday’s games, all 3 teams have the 3 top records in the American League. Clearly, this presents a problem, as only 2 of them can make the playoffs. Someone is going to have to separate themselves at some point, but I’m not sure when that is going to happen. The Rays got off to a hot start, but have struggled of late. The Yankees got off to a slow start but have come on strong and now lead the division. Even the Red Sox are only 5 games back despite having suffered an unusually high amount of injuries. Someone is going to be sitting at home unhappy despite potentially winning 90+ games in that division.

Managers Available for Hire

We could be looking at potentially having nearly half the teams in the Majors change managers by the start of the 2011 season. 4 teams have already gotten the ball started, with Fredi Gonzalez (Marlins), Trey Hillman (Royals), Dave Trembley (Orioles) and A.J. Hinch of the Diamondbacks. In addition, major skippers like Joe Torre of the Dodgers and Lou Piniella of the Cubs are both in the final year of their contracts, and it appears that more and more that neither man is likely to return. And of course, there is the expected retirement of the Braves’ Bobby Cox and Blue Jays’ Cito Gaston after this season as well. Invariably, there will be some other managers that could lose their jobs before the start of next year, and my own speculation leads me to think that potentially teams like the Brewers, Pirates, Athletics and even the Mariners could all potentially see new managers as well.

The Rookie Class of 2010

It seems like this year’s rookie class is by far one of the best in many years. The season started out with Atlanta Braves’ OF Jason Heyward making the team out of Spring Training, and has not let up ever since. 13 of Baseball America’s Top 20 prospects have already made their debuts, and many of them are seeing a lot of success.

  • Carlos Santana of the Indians is hitting .284 with 5 HR and 16 RBI since being called up on June 11th.
  • Buster Posey of the Giants is hitting .333 with 6 HR and 20 RBI while playing both catcher and first base.
  • Tyler Colvin of the Cubs has hit 12 homeruns in part time playing time so far this season.
  • Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch of the Tigers have been going back and forth for the AL Rookie of the Year award. Jackson got off to a hot start, but Boesch has passed him at this point. Boesch is leading all rookies with 12 homeruns and 48 runs batted in, and also is hitting .345.
  • Gaby Sanchez of the Marlins is quietly hitting .299 with 9 homeruns and 38 runs batted in.
  • Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals has exceeded all expectations, posting an 8-4 record with a 2.17 ERA and 80 strikeouts so far.
  • Mike Leake of the Reds surprised everyone by coming up without playing a single game in the minors and has a 6-1 record with a 3.53 ERA.
  • Neftali Feliz of the Rangers has stabilized the back end of their bullpen, recording 23 saves and earning himself an All-Star appearance.

Other top prospects that have come up as well: Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates, Mike Stanton of the Marlins, Alcides Escobar of the Brewers, Ike Davis of the Mets, and Justin Smoak of the Rangers… er Mariners.

Clearly though, the most anticipated debut didn’t come until June 8th…

Strasburg

June 8th was the Major League debut of the phenom, Nationals’ top prospect Stephen Strasburg. His starts in the minors were selling out every time through. He was sent down to the Minors after Spring Training to work on his performance with runners on base. As if he was actually allowing any of those down there. His minor league numbers (AA and AAA): 11 starts, 7-2, 1.30 ERA, 65 strikeouts to 13 walks in 55 1/3 innings pitched. At times, his stuff looked absolutely dominant, but the concern remained: Could he repeat this performance at the Major League level?

For the most part, the answer to that question is a resounding Yes. His debut against the lowly Pirates: 14 strikeouts, 0 walks, and a victory in 7 innings. So far, he has a 3-2 record with a 2.32 ERA and 61 strikeouts in just 42 2/3 innings pitched. He has had some games where his control has been less than stellar, including the 5 walk performance against the Indians. I have to admit, I thought that he would have some struggles when he got up to the Majors, but I didn’t anticipate the excellent performance overall that he has given to this point. The longer that Jason Heyward stays on the disabled list, the more likely it becomes that Strasburg will win the Rookie of the Year award for the National League. He simply looks dominant out there in nearly every start, and the stuff he throws is simply amazing. I hope he can stay healthy long term, as he is really going to be something special if he can.

Overall Reactions

After so many games being played, it has been a really good season to this point. As it seems to happen every season, there are some things that don’t go the way everyone expects, but it definitely makes it more interesting when there are new stories that emerge over the span of the season. It looks like it’s going to be a good race in many of the divisions, and could go down to the wire.

No post on Tuesday this week, and I’ll be back with a new post on Wednesday.

All Star Roster Review


These were my predictions for the All-Star rosters that I posted back on Saturday, representing my final thoughts on who I thought would make the team. Looking at how my predictions went, I am actually reasonably pleased with how they turned out.

Correct selections:

AL: Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Robinson Cano, Evan Longoria, Derek Jeter, Carl Crawford, Ichiro Suzuki, Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero, Miguel Cabrera, Ty Wigginton, Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Vernon Wells, Cliff Lee, David Price, Jon Lester, Trevor Cahill, Clay Buchholz, Mariano Rivera, Jose Valverde, Neftali Feliz

NL: Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols, Chase Utley, Hanley Ramirez, Andre Ethier, Jason Heyward, Ryan Braun, Adrian Gonzalez, Martin Prado, David Wright, Scott Rolen, Jose Reyes, Corey Hart, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Tim Hudson, Adam Wainwright, Matt Capps, Brandon Phillips

Incorrect:

AL Backup Catcher: I chose Mike Napoli as who I thought would be there, not really looking at Victor Martinez since he was injured at the time I made the pick. I’m not sold I agree with John Buck as the replacement for Martinez over Napoli, but it’s not a brutal choice. I think overall Napoli is going to have a better season, but they are pretty similar so far.

AL Backup Infielders: Paul Konerko and Kevin Youkilis are in the final vote, and in their place on the roster are Ian Kinsler (the replacement for Dustin Pedroia) and Alex Rodriguez. Part of the issue I had here was that I was not aware that the teams were required to take a utility player, which is where Wigginton fits on the roster. As a result, I didn’t take a 2B. I also didn’t include Pedroia because of his injury status, but he’s definitely deserving. A-Rod is also having a pretty good year, and I think this was my own personal bias. Knowing that the Yankees’ manager is managing the All-Star team, I probably should have seen that one.

AL Backup Outfielders: I think Choo would have made the team had he not gotten hurt just prior to the announcement, but when I made the selection it wasn’t for sure yet what his status was. Torii Hunter was selected as the only initial Angels’ player, and I think he’s definitely deserving as well. I do have a hard time looking at Jose Bautista on that roster with Alexis Rios who did not make the team, and is hitting better. The fact that the Blue Jays had Vernon Wells as well seems really odd to me. I don’t know how the player vote went (as he may have been a selection that was made by them), but it seems like a bit of an omission. Brett Gardner is having a great year, and he’s probably the player I would have left off in lieu of another infielder had I known I needed one.

AL Backup Designated Hitter: David Ortiz is probably more deserving than Jose Guillen was, but I knew I needed a Royal and liked a lot of the other relievers available more than Joakim Soria.

AL Pitching Staff

  • Jered Weaver was added to the roster in place of C.C. Sabathia (who will start on the Sunday prior to the All-Star game), which was the most glaring omission to me.
  • Andy Pettitte was added to the roster to replace the injured Clay Buchholz, but they did not have him on the initial roster.
  • The exclusion of Shin-Soo Choo due to injury required the Indians to have an All-Star on the pitching staff, and they went with Fausto Carmona instead. Look, someone had to be selected from the Indians, but it just shows how badly the rest of that team played.
  • Rafael Soriano was added to the roster to replace Mariano Rivera, who will rest instead of playing in the game.
  • I initially had Trevor Cahill as the replacement on the roster for the injured Shaun Marcum, who did not make the team. As a result, I also had Andrew Bailey on the initial roster as the A’s lone representative. They went with Matt Thornton of the White Sox, who is having an excellent season and is well deserving of the honor.
  • Phil Hughes is in the roster spot that I had for Colby Lewis. I think both are having excellent seasons and this is more of Girardi picking his guy when there are two similar players. I can understand that.

NL Backup Catcher: They selected Brian McCann over Miguel Olivo, and I don’t think that was a bad choice. Olivo is having a very nice offensive season, but McCann is the catcher for an excellent pitching staff on the first place Braves. The Capitol Avenue Club had a great post last week about how many times McCann has been snubbed when he was having amazing offensive seasons, so it is good to see a little bit of balance here.

NL Backup Infielders:

  • Clearly, the most glaring omission is the selection of Ryan Howard over Joey Votto. Howard is having a fine year, and I can even understand wanting to reward your player when you’re the manager. But clearly someone should have been left off the roster in place of Joey Votto who is having an MVP caliber season for the Reds. He is in the final vote (along with 4 of my All-Star selections), and I hope he gets in somehow. The Reds are a first place team, and Votto has clearly been their best player to this point.
  • I am not really worried about the missed selection of Placido Polanco, as I had already replaced him on the roster with Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman is on the final ballot, but I don’t think he’ll end up making the team.
  • Omar Infante as the utility player makes sense based on his 2009 season, but I really wonder if there wasn’t some other player that could have been selected that could play more positions. I will say this much: His selection makes a whole heck of a lot more sense once Charlie Manuel came out and said they needed the utility player. I mean, even the player himself thought he was being notified he had been traded, not made the All-Star team.
  • I didn’t have Troy Tulowitzki due to his injuries, and the replacement ended up being Jose Reyes. I’m still not sold that Reyes is necessarily the right selection, but I don’t think he’s a poor one either.
  • Leaving Troy Glaus off the roster seems to me like it’s just a crunch at 1B. I understand it, but he’s been a boon for the first place Braves.

NL Backup Outfielders:

This is where I differed most from the actual team, as I missed 5 of them. 3 of them were the lone representatives for their team, so there’s three matching incorrect pitchers as well.

  • I picked Andrew McCutchen as the lone Pirates representative, and the team selected Evan Meek to represent them instead. Looking at the game as a winnable game, Meek is probably the more important player to have, and he is having an excellent season as well.
  • I picked Roy Oswalt as the lone deserving rep from the Astros, and they chose Michael Bourn instead. Bourn is having a reasonably good season, but I completely disagree on this one. I think his spot on the pitching staff was held by Yovani Gallardo, who could end up being replaced due to his injury anyway.
  • Chris Young instead of Justin Upton. As I looked at the numbers again, they got that one right. Young is having the better season pretty easily at the moment.
  • Matt Holliday was chosen over Colby Rasmus, and whoever made that selection got it wrong. I think that Holliday was selected a lot on his 2009 second half, as he’s only been hot of late in 2010. Rasmus will get his shot someday though.
  • Jayson Werth I think is the player who got crunched as a result of the lone Cubs’ representative, Marlon Byrd. Byrd is having an excellent season, and I think he’s a good pick.
  • Carlos Gonzalez is also in the final vote, and I think he’s the player who ended up getting crunched by the utility player needing to be on the roster. I don’t think they have made a selection to replace the injured Jason Heyward yet, and think Gonzalez would be the first choice. Hopefully anyway, as he’s having an amazing year.

NL Pitching Staff:

  • Chris Carpenter and Yovani Gallardo both made the roster, leaving my choices of Roy Oswalt and Mike Pelfrey off the roster. Neither pitcher is having a bad year, and the choices are solid ones. Gallardo is likely to be replaced on the roster due to injury, so one of them may still end up making the team.
  • The bullpen is a complete mess to me. How the Padres only got one representative overall, and no pitchers is beyond me. Heath Bell is in the final vote, but should probably be there regardless. I chose Luke Gregerson as my middle reliever, and Charlie Manuel chose Arthur Rhodes of the Reds. His choice is a good one here I think, as Rhodes may be having the best season of his career.
  • Billy Wagner is on the final vote ballot, and Carlos Marmol was left off the roster since Marlon Byrd is representing the Cubs. In their places, Jonathan Broxton and Brian Wilson were selected. Neither of these two are necessarily bad choices, just not necessarily the ones I would have made based on the current season. It does appear, however, that Manuel is managing to win the game, and I probably would trust both Broxton and Wilson more than Marmol.

Overall, I got 43 out of 68 correct. It has been a really interesting experiment to see how close I can get to predicting the teams, and next season I think the thing to remember to look at will be who is managing the teams. Had I done that, I probably would have gotten another 3-4 players correct. I think next year’s goal will be to get over 80% of the roster correct, especially now that I know about the utility player rule as well.

In terms of the roster makeup itself, Joey Votto and Kevin Youkilis stand out to me as the players who are the most deserving to be on the team but are not on there as of yet. I will be shocked if Votto doesn’t get onto that roster somehow, and a bit disappointed too.