Posts Tagged ‘ mlb ’

11th Inning Podcast Episode 12: AL East/Central Preview Draft

Joseph and Tyler are at it again. Each gentleman previews the American League Central and East divisions by selecting a starting lineup and one starting pitcher.

There are two rules:

  1. Each AL Central and AL East team must have one representative on the final squads, just like in the All Star Game.
  2. Each position must have a player that will ostensibly play the majority of their games at that position. For example, you cannot select Miguel Cabrera and Jose Abreu and stick one of them in Left Field.

The final squads with Steamer WAR projections in parentheses:

Swag United ~eyeroll~ (Joseph)

C Gary Sanchez (4.0), Yankees

1B Jose Abreu (1.9), White Sox

2B Brian Dozier (3.1), Twins

3B Josh Donaldson (6.1), Blue Jays

SS Jose Iglesias (2.1), Tigers

LF Alex Gordon (1.9), Royals

CF Kevin Kiermaier (4.4), Rays

RF Mookie Betts (5.6), Red Sox

DH Edwin Encarnacion, (2.0), Cleveland

SP Kevin Gausman (3.4), Orioles

Total Projected Steamer WAR: 34.4

Vista Hills Bombers (Tyler)

C Russell Martin (2.5), Blue Jays

1B Greg Bird (1.8), Yankees

2B Brad Miller (2.1), Rays

3B Manny Machado (6.5), Orioles

SS Francisco Lindor (5.4), Cleveland

LF Justin Upton (2.1), Tigers

CF Lorenzo Cain (3.0), Royals

RF Max Kepler (1.6), Twins

DH Hanley Ramirez (1.6), Red Sox

SP Jose Quintana (4.0), White Sox

Total Projected Steamer WAR: 30.6

I like Joseph’s team much better, and so do the cumulative Steamer projections. But the best part about baseball is that predicting exactly what will happen is always a fools errand.

We also answer reader questions and discuss two of these ten teams that we believe will underachieve or overachieve relative to their Over/Under totals.

Follow the podcast on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/11thinningpod and on Twitter @The11thinning. Follow @tylerbradley9 and @joeyvictor24 if you are so inclined. We understand if there is no inclination.

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Swipe Me Down: A Look at the Mariners Speedsters that will Steal your Heart

In terms of aesthetic cache, stolen bases are perhaps the most exciting play in baseball. Especially if it’s in a high-leverage situation:

That’s Jerrod Dyson. He is fast, and very few players in Major League Baseball are faster. He is good at stealing the bags. He is on the Seattle Mariners roster. How many bases will he snatch in 2017?

Here are Dyson’s plate appearances from 2012-2016: 330, 239, 290, 225, 337

That is an average of 284.2 plate appearances per season. He has never appeared in more than 120 games in a regular season. Mariners manager Scott Servais said he welcomes the “edge” that Dyson brings. Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto gushed about Dyson’s defense and base-stealing ability after making the trade. Dyson has the starting left field job. He does have a hefty career platoon split (90 wRC+ vs. right-handed pitching, 65 wRC+ vs. left-handed pitching), so it is preferable that he not play a full 162 games, but this could be the first season where he has a chance to have a starting spot from Opening Day. If he does get a full season of plate appearances, his 50th percentile PECOTA projection of 60 stolen bases in 572 plate appearances does not look nearly as crazy. He is that fast. If Dyson plays even gets 450 plate appearances, he has a legitimate chance to steal more bases than any Mariner since Ichiro in 2009, when Ichiro stole 43. Ichiro also stole 56 in his rookie season, which is the number of steals the molasses-footed 2016 Mariners stole as a team. Ichiro was good.

The fun thing about Dyson’s potential stolen base total this year is that he is not the only speedy guy on the roster. Jean Segura stole 33 bases last season in Arizona and Leonys Martín led the Mariners last season with 24 steals. The Mariners have a chance to meet a wonderfully arbitrary minimum of three players with more than 20 steals on one roster.If you apply this wonderfully arbitrary minimum of three players with more than 20+ stolen bases in a single season on the same team from 1977-2016. In terms of team success, possessing three guys with 20+ stolen bases does not guarantee a successful season. If you apply the wonderfully arbitrary minimum to teams from 2000-2016, those 52 teams had an average winning percentage of .517, which would equate to about 83-84 wins in a 162 game season. The Mariners have had six seasons where they have met this threshold in their history, but only three from 2000-2016:

2010: Ichiro 42, Chone Figgins 42, Franklin Gutierrez 25

2001: Ichiro 56, Mark Mclemore 39, Mike Cameron 34

2000: Rickey Henderson 31, Mark Mclemore 30, Mike Cameron 24

1999: Brian Hunter 44, Ken Griffey, Jr. 24, Alex Rodriguez 21

1987: Harold Reynolds 60, Phil Bradley 40, John Moses 23, Donel Nixon 21

1986: Harold Reynolds 30, John Moses 23, Phil Bradley 21

The funniest thing about the 52 team sample is that the Mariners have the team with the most wins (2001) in the sample and the fewest wins in the sample (2010). The Mariners did everything well in 2001. I was in third grade, so I remember it in a vague way. The 2001 team was the first full season that I remember as a Mariners fan.The Mariners did everything terribly in 2010, so I remember that season in a different vague way. The 2010 team was the most disappointing season as a Mariners fan, both from a single season standpoint and for the ensuing haphazard Jack Zduriencik team-building from 2011-2015 that followed the 2010 abomination. The fact the Mariners have three guys with good chances for 20+ stolen bases this season does not help us learn if this team will actually be any good.

Of course, the thing about the arbitrary minimum of teams with three guys with 20+ stolen bases in the same season is that it eliminates the context of the rest of the roster. This 2017 Mariners roster is far more diversified than the 2010 team, or even the 2016 team. Even if Dyson underperforms for any reason, there are replacements who ~should~ be competent. I am a fan of Guillermo Heredia, and Ben Gamel is competent in the field at the very least. He makes contact at the plate and has a bit of speed as well. Tyler O’Neill could potentially continue mashing Minor League pitching into a pulp and make his way up by the end of the season. Add this to the fact that Mariners offense was the second best in the MLB on a mashing basis last season, and looks to bring the thunder in 2017 with the additions of Danny Valencia/Dan Vogelbach and Mitch Haniger to accompany the Robinson Cano-Nelson Cruz-Kyle Seager lineup core, and the Mariners are not relying on Dyson/Segura/Martín to dash their way to runs for a weak hitting team. These three guys will be wreaking havoc and making teams uncomfortable alongside the big bats in the lineup.

Teams with three guys with 20 or more steals may not necessarily be correlated with playoff runs, but Dyson/Segura/Martín gives Mariners fans a triumvirate that can be a problem on the bases for opposing teams for the first time in several years. A triumvirate that will be entertaining in a manner that Mariners fans have not been accustomed to in the last 16 seasons. Whether it ends in disappointment like 2010 or ends as the most successful season in team history like 2017 remains to be seen.* But pitchers will want zero problems with this year’s speedy triumvirate, big fella.

*newsflash: it probably will not end at either extreme

Thanks to the Baseball Reference Play Index for always being a great resource to find fun facts with wonderfully arbitrary minimums and endpoints. 

11th Inning Podcast Episode 9: Be Bold

Joseph and Tyler explain the podcast name change before diving into some bold predictions for the upcoming 2017 season. Professor Joseph makes an appearance, and he also introduces a new challenge segment: Alternative Facts. As always, good beer is being enjoyed throughout the entire recording.

Podcast Rundown:

4:40 — We explain the new name for the podcast

6:40 — How is a prediction bold?

7:38 — Tyler’s Bold Prediction #1

14:50 — Joseph’s Bold Prediction #1 and Professor Joseph

30:32 — Tyler’s Bold Prediction #2

39:00 — Joseph’s Bold Prediction #2

45:00-55:55 — ALTERNATIVE FACTS

49:30 — Jamie Moyer did end his career on the Rockies. Point for Tyler.

50:00 — Who led the 2010 Mariners in home runs? This answer hurt my soul.

52:00 — The last alternative fact includes the famous names of Jered Weaver, Jesus Sucre, Norichika Aoki, and Wily Mo Pena. How are they all connected?

55:55 — Joseph’s Bold Prediction #3

58:38 — Tyler’s Bold Prediction #3

1:01 — Joseph’s ridiculous final bold prediction

Thanks for listening everyone. Follow the podcast Twitter Account @The11thInning and follow us on twitter @tylerbradley9 and @joeyvictor24

How the Mariners Could Find the Next Cy Young Winner

The Mariners traded for Chris Heston last week. Last year he was injured for most of the season, but Heston threw a no hitter in 2015, which was cool for him and the San Francisco Giants (a franchise that needed more things to go their way, obviously). Now he will compete for a spot in the rotation with Ariel Miranda and other pitchers who will fall somewhere between pedestrian and intriguing as spring training begins.

With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that the Mariners are looking for another major league arm. Ivan Nova is probably the best arm on the free agent market (yikes), and although I expressed a desire for the M’s to (gulp) sign him this offseason in the first JDFC episode, an interesting report came out yesterday via twitter linking the M’s to the Reds and the Rays:

Morosi is generally a reliable source when it comes to these things. Discussions could mean absolutely nothing, but it’s the offseason! So why not irresponsibly speculate a little bit?

The Rays have an assortment of interesting guys, but for various reasons they do not interest me as much. Maybe that’s another blog post. The guy that jumps to my mind immediately is the Reds’ Anthony DeSclafani, and not just because I enjoyed his work on a couple of my fantasy teams last year. He still has four years of team control and he has had some success at the big league level, so the Mariners would have to give up a player or prospect with good value, or several riskier prospects with high upside. Bearing in mind that the Mariners farm system remains thin (especially as Jerry Dipoto continues to wheel and deal this offseason), this potential trade is certainly unlikely. Not to mention the fact that the Reds will most likely lose more games than they win in 2017 as well, so DeSclafani could be a guy on the next winning Reds team, so they may not be interested in moving him unless they get an offer they absolutely cannot refuse (Kyle Lewis or Tyler O’Neill maybe).

After all, DeSclafani could potentially win a Cy Young in the near future. Check out his stats from his age 26 season compared with another pitcher with good command and slightly below average strikeout rates (all stats come from Baseball Prospectus. For an explanation of Deserved Run Average, read this):

Pitcher A: 28 GS, 172 IP, 47% GB, 4.92 ERA, 4.14 DRA, 101 DRA-, 1.36 WHIP, 1.9 WARP

DeSclafani: 20 GS, 123.3 IP, 44% GB, 3.28 ERA, 4.22 DRA, 101.3 DRA-, 1.22 WHIP, 1.6 WARP

Pitcher A is Rick Porcello’s age 26 season in 2015. You may have heard that he just won the Cy Young Award in 2016. Both guys lean on a Sinker and a Fourseam fastball, while DeSclafani throws more sliders and Porcello mixes in more Curveballs and a Changeup. Clearly we need to be penciling DeSclafani in for the 2017 AL Cy Young if he is traded to the Mariners!

Jokes aside, DeSclafani is a pitcher that the Mariners should be interested in. He probably overachieved last year, but their window to win is now, and a guy like DeSclafani could help them maximize this window while also helping them for a few years down the road. There is potential for possible growth here at a very low salary, and Felix and Kuma are not getting any younger. A guy like DeSclafani would not be cheap to acquire, but as long as its not Kyle Lewis or Tyler O’Neill, the M’s making a deal for DeSclafani would make a lot of sense for 2017 and 2018-2020.

Plus, what if he really did win the Cy Young?

Mariners get Kendrys against his will

The Mariners extended the qualifying offer to Kendrys Morales last offseason. He declined. The Mariners offered him a deal during the season, including a possible 3/$30 million deal. He declined.

But for Kendrys, he has no choice now. You are a Mariner and YOU WILL LIKE IT.

The Mariners flipped Stephen Pryor to the Minnesota Twins for Kendrys, a move that makes sense considering the Mariners need for a bat. The struggles of Corey Hart, Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison at 1B/DH have been well-documented, and with a legitimate shot at the second wild card spot and the playoffs (Fangraphs projections give the Mariners a 29.1% chance for the Wild Card), the Mariners need to improve an offense that is tied for last in the American League on a park-adjusted basis.

Here is the problem with this deal:

Yeah, Morales has been terrible this season. Atrocious. Abysmal. His walks are down and he has just one home run in 162 plate appearances. There is no guarantee that he will be able to hit this season, and if the Mariners are getting another below replacement level bat, then this deal means nothing at all.

Luckily, Morales has been consistent over the past couple years putting up a 119 and 118 WRC+ (a statistic that encompasses all offensive contributions and adjusts them for ballpark factors) in two home ballparks that favor pitchers. Despite Safeco’s reputation as a pitchers park, it actually is decent for left-handed hitters (see Seager, Kyle and Branyan, Russell), which is exactly the opposite of Target Field in Minnesota — where left-handed power goes to die — unless you are David Ortiz.

For further positive spin (a new thing for a Mariners fan this year), Kendrys missed all of spring training and the first two months of the season because of his weird qualifying offer and the generally correct league-wide consensus that a bat-only first baseman is not worth a big financial commitment. 162 plate appearances is a small sample size, so perhaps Morales will go back to mashing at an above average league rate just in time for the Mariners playoff push. Zips and Steamer seem to think this is true, as the systems project Kendrys for 0.2 WAR and 0.5 WAR respectively.

This trade is kind of like the Carter Capps/Logan Morrison deal in the offseason. A move that I still like despite Morrison’s struggles. Giving up a two-pitch maximum reliever for a hitter in his mid-20s with projectable power is a no-brainer, and Morrison has looked good at the plate for awhile now without much to show for it (he has a super low .231 BABIP despite a normal LD% for his career). Zips projects him for just 0.1 WAR, with Steamer more optimistic at 0.5 — basically the same as Kendrys’s projection. Losing a relief pitcher like Capps (who already succumbed to Tommy John this season) that was struggling with his velocity and possesses a slider with a large platoon split is not something to cry about. It is amazing that this Larry Stone article from two years ago is already outdated, though.

Because of this trade, however, I would anticipate Hart to be designated for assignment. Not only does he have balky knees, but the cost of the DFA would be minimal considering his $5 million deal was incentive-laden. Unless the incentives were to put up a 78 WRC+, I doubt Hart will be receiving the full $5 million. Although Hart still has a chance to turn it around, the clock is certainly ticking.

The Mariners still need an outfielder. Putting James Jones and Endy Chavez and Dustin Ackley on the field is a request for other teams to pass you in the standings. Until Saunders gets back, this is one of the worst outfield situations in the MLB. The Morales move does not solve this problem. But the move is low-risk with potential for some upside. The Mariners need all of the hitting help they can get.

Marlon Byrd, Ben Zobrist, Justin Ruggiano and Morales’ now former teammate Josh Willingham are still available, and although there are roadblocks to acquiring all four (Willingham has made it clear that he does not want to go to Safeco either so maybe the Mariners should just trade for him too. The Morales/Willingham interviews will not be awkward AT ALL), one of these players could combine with the Kendrys move to push the needle enough toward a Mariners wild card berth. Maybe then we can see endless celebrations that totally aren’t sexual at all.