Can A Starter Save The Day?

The 2017 post season is in full swing.  Throughout the Wild Card games as well as the Divisional Series, teams have been plugging starters into relief roles.  How effective have starting pitchers been when called on to pitch out of the pen?  The results have been mixed.  It appears that for the most part, starters who didn’t fare well were on teams that were eliminated with the exception being the Houston Astros (Verlander, Liriano, and to a lesser extent McCullers whose surface stats don’t look good but advanced stats rated him positively).

 

Here’s a look at the results of starters working in relief.  Each match up is listed below with the statistical line from each appearance given its own entry.

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WILD CARD GAMES

Arizona vs. Colorado

Ray 2.1 IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, 3.86 ERA, .088 WPA, .7 RE24

Anderson 1 IP, 2 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 18.00 ERA, -.058 WPA, -1.4 RE24

 

New York vs. Minnesota

Berrios 3 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts, 9.00 ERA, -.0183 WPA, -1.4 RE24

 

DIVISIONAL SERIES

Washington vs. Chicago

Scherzer  1.0 IP  3 hits, 4 runs, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 1 HBP, 3.68 ERA, -.438 WPA, -3.47 RE24

 

Quintana .2 IP 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 0.00 ERA, -.035 WPA, -.53 RE24

Lester 3.2 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 earned run, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 1.86 ERA, .199 WPA, 1.87 RE24

 

Huston vs. Boston 

Verlander  2.2 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 3.12 ERA, -.123 WPA, -.3 RE24

McCullers 3 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, 6.00 ERA .083 WPA, .6 RE24

Liriano .1 IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 13.50 ERA, -.195 WPA, -1.7 RE24

Liriano .1 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 0.00 ERA, .004 WPA, .4 RE24

 

Porcello 1 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 0.00 ERA, 0.000 WPA, .5 RE24

Price 2.2 IP, 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 0.00 ERA, .110 WPA, 2.5 RE24

Sale 4.2 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts, 1 homerun, 8.38 ERA, .120 WPA, 1.5 RE24

  • Price moved to a relief role at the end of the 17 season making 5 relief appearance in September.

 

Los Angeles vs. Arizona

Maeda 1 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 0.00 ERA, .100 WPA, .6 RE24

Maeda 1 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 0.00 ERA, .048 WPA, .5 RE24

  • Maeda made 4 relief appearances during the regular season.

 

Godley 5 IP, 4 hits, 3 runs, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, 3.60 ERA, -.048 WPA, -.5 RE24

 

It will be interesting to see how managers utilize available starters going forward in the playoffs.  Will they continue to call on starters who are not part of the playoff rotation or are on a throwing day to work in relief during the Championship Series and World Series?

 

Glossary of Stats – Source – Baseball Reference

WPA = Win Probably Added — +1 to -1 indicates a full win added or lost.

RE24 = Base Out Runs Saved – Given the bases occupied/out situation, how many runs did the pitcher save in the resulting play.  0 is average, above 0 is better than average, below 0 is worse than average.

 

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Revisiting Reader Poll MLB Predictions from July

 

On July 13th, Underthought posted a reader’s poll asking for MLB predictions.  Now that the 2017 season is finished, let’s review the results and compare the votes to the actual outcome:

Who will:

Win the AL East = Red Sox 73% and Yankees at 14%

Win the AL Central = Indians 88% and Twins 7%

Win the AL West = Astros 98%

*The respondents did well picking division winners.  The second place finishers in the East and Central were the Wild Card winners.

 

Will an AL team win 100 or more games = 80% said yes

*Cleveland ended the season with 102 wins and Huston ended with 101.

 

Worst AL record will belong to: White Sox 52% and As 27%

*The Tigers ended up with the worst record (64 wins).  The White Sox were a close second with 67 wins.

 

Win the NL East = Nationals 96%

Win the NL Central = Cubs 51% followed by Brewers 38%

Win the NL West = Dodgers 92%

*The respondents did well picking division winners.  It was interesting how many voters liked the Brewers’ chance to take the Central when votes were cast in mid-July.

 

Will an NL team win 100 or more games = 73% said yes

*The Dodgers ended the season with a MLB best 104 wins.

 

Worst NL record will belong to: Phillies 63% and Padres 26%

*The worst record in the NL belonged to the Giants (64 wins).  The Phillies finished with the second worst record (66 wins).

 

Aaron Judge will hit ___ homers:

40-49 homers: 60%

50-59 homers: 27%

30-39 homers: 12%

*Judge ended the season with 52 homers.

 

Eric Thames will hit __ homers:

30-39 homers: 72%

23-29 homers: 16%

40-49 homers: 10%
*Thames cooled off significantly as the season progressed and ended with a total of 31 homers.

 

Will Mike Trout lead the AL in WAR for the 6th straight year:

64% said no

Trout missed a good deal of time with an injury but came back strong.  Although it looked like he would make a strong challenge for the AL WAR lead, he slowed down towards the end of the season.  Trout finished with the 6th highest WAR in the AL (5th if pitchers are excluded from the list) with a Baseball Reference calculated WAR of 6.7.

NL Cy Young Winner:

Scherzer: 48%

Kershaw: 46%

*To be determined but based on the numbers, I wouldn’t be surprised if Scherzer finished first and Kershaw finished second in Cy Young voting.

AL Cy Young Winner:

Sale: 79%

Someone else: 12%

Kluber: 6%

* To be determined but Kluber’s second half performance moved him into strong consideration for this award.  Prediction – Kluber first and Sale second in the AL Cy Young voting.

 

AL Team that will be in the World Series:

Astros = 67%

Indians = 13%

Red Sox = 10%

 

NL Team that will be in the World Series:

Dodgers = 59%

Nationals = 21%

Cubs = 8%

Brewers = 6%

 

The 2017 World Series champion will be:

Astros = 45%

Dodgers = 39%

Indians = 6%

Cubs = 4%

*These four teams appear to be the most popular choices for winning it all as they head into the 2017 post season.  However, it would be interesting to see which team readers would have the most confidence in if they were polled today.

Looking at the Stolen Base in Today’s MLB

hamilton billy  gordon

 

 

 

Baseball fans and analysts have been focusing on the increase in homeruns over the past few seasons but there is much less discussion regarding stolen bases during this same time period.  Stolen bases and home runs have a strong relationship to one another, especially as teams have focused on the importance of baserunners and the value baserunners have related to run expectancy.  As teams have become more reliant on the long ball to create runs, it matters less if a runner is on first, second, or third base as a homer brings a player in regardless of the base on which he stood.  Thus, the stolen base has much less value and much greater risk in most situations as being thrown out attempting to steal hurts run expectancy.

2012 was the last season that players successfully stole over 3000 bases (3229, specifically).  2014 was the season with the next most successful attempts ( a mere 2764).  As the number of stolen bases has decreased, the question becomes, are the players who amass the most steals accounting for more, less, or the same percentage of the league’s steal total?  Examining the 2012-2017 seasons, it appears as though the most prolific stealers are accounting for a greater percentage of steals relative to the other players in the game.  Below is a table illustrating the top three stolen base leaders each season and the percentage their total equaled league-wide:

2017: Top 3 finishers accounted for 6.5% of all steals.

2016: The top 3 accounted for 6.5% of all steals.

2015: The top 3 accounted for 6.3% of all steals,

2014: The top 3 accounted for 6.3% of all steals.

2013: The top 3 accounted for 5.3% of all steals.

2012: The top 3 accounted for 4.3% of all steals.

Additionally, fewer players appear to be racking up significant steal totals.  For instance, in 2017, there is currently (as of Aug 17th) one player with at least 50 steals, one player with 40-49 steals, and 1 player with 30-39 steals.  The table below charts the high end totals in steals each season from 2012-2017.

2016: 1 player 60 or more steals, 1 player 50 to 59 steals, 3 players with 40 to 49 steals.

2015: 2 players with 50 to 59 steals and 1 player with 40 to 49 steals.

2014: 1 player with 60 or more steals, 2 players with 50 to 59 steals, and 1 player with 40 to 49 steals.

2013: 1 player with 50 to 59 steals and 7 players with 40 to 49 steals.

2012: 6 players with 40 to 49 steals.

Examining the high end performers in the steal category, it appears as though the overall steal rate for the league results from two separate factors – an increased reliance on totals the top base stealers amass as well as a communal effort with many players ranging from few to modest steal totals.

Gone are the days of the Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman 100 steal seasons.  Gone also are the days when a multitude of thieves tally 40 and 50 bags in a season.  Rather, in today’s game, steals appear to be the function of two player types; the elite outliers like Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton (possibly Trea Turner in the near future) and the workman like totals of various players chipping in single digit to low teen totals (Freddie Freeman, Joey Votto, and Justin Upton) to mid-20 bags (Elvis Andrus, Lorenzo Cain, and Mookie Betts).

… and the Award for Best Trade of 2017 Goes to… Arizona!

The transaction: On July 18, J.D. Martinez was traded from the Detroit Tigers to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor leaguers Sergio Alcantara, Jose King, and Dawel Lugo.    martinez

The addition of Martinez was a huge upgrade for the Diamondbacks as their third outfield slot was seen as a glaring weakness for a team that appears headed for an unexpected post-season run.  Yasmany Tomas (-.4 WAR), Gregor Blanco (-.1 WAR), Daniel Descalso (-.2 WAR), and a host of other mix and match options were just not producing for the team.  Trading for an anchor like Martinez puts the Diamondbacks’ outfield in much better shape especially if the health of A.J. Pollock and David Peralta cooperates.

Don’t let Martinez’s paltry .195 batting average with the Diamondbacks fool you.   His triple slash of 195/313/634 (OPS of .947) and his 130 OPS+ tell the story of his time with the D-Backs more accurately.  Six of Martinez’s 8 hits (48 at bats in 12 games) have been home runs and he’s also walked 7 times.  How can things get even better for J.D. and the Diamondbacks?  Towards the end of August and into September the schedule becomes division focused.  Not only will Martinez receive plenty of at bats in a hitter friendly home ballpark but he should also feast on many of his opponents.  For instance, he will have an opportunity to visit the friendly confines of Coors Field and he will also get to hit against an anemic Padres’ pitching staff.  Thus, the ingredients for a strong final third of the season for Martinez are in place.

Arizona’s farm system is not highly regarded by many scouts and prospect analysts.  However, this trade did little damage to their minor league equity as none of the three players moved were ranked highly within the D-Back’s system.  Alcantra is a 20 year old infielder currently playing in A+ minor league ball.  Many rate his arm and defense as above average but scouts don’t necessarily agree on his big league potential.  King is an 18 year old infielder currently playing in Rookie league minor league ball and Lugo is a 22 year old infielder currently playing in AA minor league ball.  Of these three, he is the only player to be added to Detroit’s 40 man roster.  Although it may take a few years to get a clear picture of Detroit’s return, this trade currently seems like a huge win for the Arizona as it allows them to rent J.D. Martinez’s services for half of a season while giving up no immediate or near-future assets.

This trade illustrates how teams around the league did not value sluggers in 2017.  Although home runs are up in 2017, an offensive talent like Martinez was thought by many observers to be worth more than three lower level prospects.  Whether the Tigers jumped too early to make a deal or the market did not bare out the perceptions of what Martinez’s value was thought to be, the Diamondbacks gave up relatively little to gain a player currently sports a WAR of 2.0 and an 160 OPS+ in just 69 games.  Of all the deals that were made prior to the July 31st deadline, the Martinez acquisition appears to be the steal of 2017.

diamondbacks

The Yankee – Red Sox Race for Third Base

In an  interesting move heading into the trade deadline, the Yankees swung a deal with the White Sox landing third baseman/first baseman Todd Frazier and relief pitchers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle.

This trade did a number of things for the Yankees in the short term; it bolstered their bullpen for a playoff push with two reliable arms, it jettisoned the poorly performing Tyler Clippard from a team and a manager that lost its faith in his ability to get high leverage outs, and it secured an additional ‘proven closer’ for late inning work and a possible role replacement should Betances continue to have command/walk issues in the 8th inning or if Chapman needs another DL stint and can’t man the 9th inning.  Additionally, the Yankees haven’t been happy with the production Chase Headley was providing at 3rd base and the 1st base production for the team had been all but non-existent.  Thus, the addition of Frazier was thought to help rectify that problem as well.

However, the acquisition of Frazier has been seen by many fans and analysts as a preemptive strike against the Red Sox, a team also struggling to find average to above average play from their third basemen as the team makes its own run towards securing a spot in the post-season.  It’s been postulated that the Yankee’s primary move in their trade with the White Sox was focused on addressing bullpen needs while the addition of Frazier in the trade was to block the Red Sox from enjoying his services for the remainder of 2017 (while to a lesser extent also trying to rectify their own infield productivity concerns).  However, based on the Red Sox’s actions since the Yankee – White Sox trade, I believe that either the premise of Frazier being acquired to block the Sox is incorrect or that Boston actually lucked into a better situation as a result of the Yankees picking up Frazier.

Since Frazier has donned the Yankee pinstripes, The Red Sox have made two significant moves to address their third base dilemma (not counting the addition by subtraction of releasing Pablo Sandoval).  The team called up top prospect, Rafael Devers and also traded with the Giants to acquire Eduardo Nunez.  While it will be interesting to see how Devers adjusts to the major leagues and whether the Sox can catch lightening in a bottle with him, it is the team’s addition of Nunez that seems to be the piece in this Yanks – Sox chess match that may be most interesting.

yanks red sox

Frazier is the more recognizable player for many baseball fans.  He was a back to back All Star selection in 2014 and 2015 and has shown consistent pop (29, 35, and 40 homers in his last three full seasons) although his batting average and OPS have begun to significantly drop.  Nunez, an All Star selection in 2016, plays both infield and outfield.  Although he hits for significantly less power than Frazier, his batting average is safer and he has also increased his stolen base output (especially in the past two seasons).

Here is a quick look at how Frazier and Nunez compare in 2017:

frazier

Todd Frazier – age 31 – free agent at the end of the 2017 season.  2017 salary = 12 million dollars.

In 2017, Frazier has played 3rd base, 1st base, and designated hitter.

1.7 WAR

100 OPS+

.205 BA

.326 OBP

.416 SLG

.742 OPS

16 home runs, 44 RBI, 42 Runs, and 4 stolen bases in 87 games.

nunez

Edwardo Nunez – age 30 – free agent at the end of the 2017 season.  2017 salary = 4.2 million dollars.

In 2017, Nunez has played 3rd base, shortstop, left field, and right field.

.2 WAR

98 OPS+

.308 BA

.334 OBP

.417 SLG

.752 OPS

4 home runs, 31 RBI, 37 Runs, and 18 stolen bases in 76 games.

Clearly, Frazier and Nunez are two very different third base options.  Frazier is low average and power while Nunez is batting average and stolen bases.  Although the Red Sox and Yankees don’t have to penny pinch, Nunez and his contract appear to be a much better value than Frazier and his contract.  Additionally, Nunez has the additional advantage of being able to play shortstop as well as the outfield while Frazier is strictly a corner infielder.  Although his glove work is not great historically, especially at shortstop, Nunez’s ability to play all over the field may allow the Sox to keep him in the lineup even if Devers gets a stranglehold on third base playing time.

The Yankees, through their trade with the White Sox were able to significantly upgrade their ball club.  However, if the impetus to add Frazier as part of the deal occurred merely to block their rival in Boston from making a move for him, they may have misplayed their hand.  There is the potential that the unintended consequence of their move allowed the Red Sox to add a low cost player in Nunez who can provide similar value (but a significantly different skill set) to Frazier.  Nunez also has additional value in the position flexibility he offers which will allow the team to audition their top prospect while also allowing rest to various position players around the diamond as the season winds down.

 

 

Post All-Star Break Reader Poll

As baseball exits the All Star break and returns to action, the pennant races (especially the AL wild card) will heat up.  There are a lot of questions and what better way to find the answers than to poll people who love the game.  Please answer the following questions and share you opinion on how the rest of the season will play out:

american league

American League

 

national league

National League

 

Player Questions

 

Post-Season

 

Mike Trout – The WAR Machine

trout image

According to Baseball Reference’s calculation of WAR, Mike Trout has led the American League in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 with a 10.8, 9.3, 7.9, 9.4, and 10.5 respectively.  There was a different WAR leader in the National League in each of these five seasons which makes Trout’s domination of the A.L.’s WAR leaderboard during the last half decade truly amazing.  However, what’s even more impressive are the ways that Trout has modified his approach each season yet still remained the A.L.’s WAR leader.  Two of my favorite data points during this run: First, his lowest OPS+ of 168 was still so far above average that it led the league.  Second, many questioned whether Trout was selling out for increased power in 2014 when he ended up with 36 homers and a league leading 184 strikeouts.  But to counter that narrative, Trout increased his homers to 41 and reduced his strikeouts to 158 in 27 fewer at bats the following year (while also increasing his walks of 83 in 2014 to 92 in 2015).

Trout got off to a phenomenal start in 2017.  He had amassed 3.4 WAR in only 47 games.  Remaining on this pace would have put him close to setting a new personal best and likely maintain his WAR dominance in the A.L.  However, Trout suffered an injury on May 28th that required surgery to repair a torn UCL and a dorsal capsule in his left thumb.  Trout and the Angels are hoping to activate him around the All-Star Break.  Whether a July return leaves Trout with enough time (and health) to amass the amount of production needed to retake the A.L. WAR lead will be a fascinating storyline for the second half of the season. 

The American League WAR leaderboard is topped by Aaron Judge with 4.8 and followed by Jason Vargas (4.3), Jose Altuve (3.8), Carlos Correa (3.8), and Mookie Betts (3.8).  Trout, as of July 1st, sits 9th place on the list with his aforementioned 3.4 WAR.  Mike Trout has the ability to put up tremendous numbers in whatever time remains once he is on the field again.  However, outpacing some of the names on the list that reside ahead of him will be a tall order.  If he does claim the 2017 A.L. WAR throne, this achievement will be just as impressive as the half decade of WAR dominance he has already banked. 

 

Pop Punk S to Z (Part 3 of 3)

I’ve been a huge pop punk fan for years and it’s great to see that the genre is still alive and kicking.  When Lookout Records went under I was concerned that some of the best music would become unavailable to the next generation.  Although some of key releases are harder to find on CD or vinyl, all the streaming services and access to music through Youtube and a million other apps and platforms has made it so that the best music ever made will continue to find a savvy audience.

It makes me feel OLD when pop punk bands like Good Charlotte are considered old school!  There is a ton of amazing pop punk out there and I feel like I wouldn’t be doing my job unless I highlighted some of my personal favorite releases from decades past.  I will do my best to not get too obscure with the recommendations, however, a few of these bands/releases may be tougher to find than others.  Additionally, I am not here to split hairs and argue with people what is punk, pop punk, emo, etc… This post isn’t to define who is or is not in the pop punk genre, its only purpose is to highlight some melodic punk rock that may be overlooked by kids today that might really enjoy hearing some good music.  With that said, here is the third and final installment of music worth chasing down and checking out (Bands S-Z).

Please note: The following bands are definitely worth your time however, due to how well known they are I didn’t feel they needed to be included here – The Sex Pistols, Social Distortion, Stiff Little Fingers, Sum 41, Taking Back Sunday, and The Vandals,

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Screeching Weasel  – These guys are a most own for any pop punk fan.  It would be a disservice to just recommend a few songs from the band.  Use my in depth look at each of their releases here to get an idea about what songs to chase down.

sf

Senses Fail –  Calling All Cars and Lungs Like Gallows.  Senses Fail is sometimes melodic but always has a hard edge to their songs.  The two songs listed above are most accessible to pop punk fans and worth your time.

ssec

Sloppy Seconds – The Kids Are All Drunk, I Want Em Dead, I Wanna Go Home, If I Had A Woman.  These guys put out a ton of great politically incorrect music (similar to the Queers).  These songs will make you want to sing along and then make you feel embarrassed about the words that just came out of your mouth.

sg

Squirtgun – Field Trip.  Mass Giorgini (perhaps the best known pop punk producer – Sonic Iguana Studios) led this pop punk outfit.  Although their music was often generic Lookout Records sounding, their song Field Trip stands out, especially the great production.

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Teenage Bottlerocket – Skate Or Die, Freak Out!, Don’t Wanna Go, Blood Bath At Burger King, So Far Away.  These guys are the modern day Ramones torch-bearers.  Three chords, catchy hooks, and goofy lyrics.  What more could you want from your pop punk?  These guys are my modern day favorites.

thirty

Thirty Foot Fall – I am surprised these guys from Texas never got bigger than they did.  Their best songs really stood out on the Acme 143 CD on Fearless Records.  My favorites from this one are: Punk Rocks In Yer Hed, Feel Like Morrissey, and People Are Stupid.

thrice

Thrice – Thrice’s sound evolved over the years and for the most part their music doesn’t fall into the pop punk mold.  However, my favorite song from them, Artist In the Ambulance, has enough melodic sugariness to squeak in here.

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Time Again – These guys remind me a lot of Rancid so is it any wonder that they ended up on Tim Armstrong’s label or that they had Tim sing on The Stories Are True?  Although their songs range in scope/style to Rancid, The Stories Are True and Outcast are amazing examples of what they do best.

tinkle

Tinkle – Tinkle was a pop punk band from the Washington, DC area in the mid-90s.  Their style was similar to Green Day.  Although they never broke out on a national level, they developed a strong following, especially along the East Coast.  I wish a label like Lookout or Fat would have given them a shot because they wrote some incredible tunes.  Check out Tory Davis and When You’re With Me from their Let’s Get A Slurpee CD and Wondering, Runaway, Where Have Your Senses Gone, and Title In Progress from their Rejected CD.

undead

Undead – Bobby Steele played Guitar for the Misfits prior to Doyle joining the band.  Post-Misfits, he put out a fantastic horror punk CD called, Act Your Rage.  Check out Put Your Clothes Back On, Gimme Your Autograph, and We Don’t Want The Poor In New York City.

vindictives

Vindictives – Joey Vindictive led this Chicago based group.  A compilation of their music was released by Lookout and their best song, I’m In Trouble Now, was also recorded for Ben Weasel’s Punk USA comp.  While you are giving them a listen, also check out Glad To Be and Get Lost.

weston

Weston – Weston remind me a lot of dork rockers Weezer.  Their music often focuses on broken hearts, love, and the underdog.  My three favorite songs from them include Just Like Kurt, New Shirt/Heather Lewis, and Retarded.

yh

Young Hasselhoffs – These Nebraska boys combined greaser early 60’s rock n roll with straight up Ramones pop punk goodness.  They had two full lengths that are both worth your time.  Off their first CD, check out C’Mon Baby and Crazy For You and off their sophomore effort try I Don’t Care What You Say, November Forever, and Going Nowhere.  And don’t forget about Gillian Anderson off a split CD they were also on.

Revisiting and Revising March 31st MLB Projections and Predictions on June 1st

On March 31st, I posted my best guess at each team’s win total and projected finish.  I thought I would examine my picks after two months of play starting with the AL and NL East.

AL-East-Logos

AL EAST – Preseason Predicted Win Totals

Boston 91

Toronto 86

Baltimore 86

NY Yankees 82

Tampa Bay 80

In the AL East, the Yankees are as much of a surprise in a good way as the Blue Jays are surprising in a bad way.

Boston has yet to click on all cylinders and when they do, I have a feeling they will leave the rest of this division in the dust.  If they can find production at third base this offense has the potential to be monster.  On the pitching side, if David Price is anything like his former self and Drew Pomeranz can maintain his health and find his consistency, nobody touches them in the East.

Baltimore has put together a fine early run, but with Kevin Gausman (.1 WAR) struggling out of the gate and Ubaldo Jimenez continuing to be Ubaldo Jimenez (-.2 WAR) they are going to need to find a solution for getting starters through the 6th inning consistently.  Their bullpen, even without Britton, has been excellent but this is too many innings for the pen to work over an entire season.  The offense will take a step forward once Machado finds his groove at the plate (88 OPS+).

The Yankees are a very interesting team and caught me by complete surprise.  I am extremely impressed by the young talent they have at the major league level and it is nice to see Pineda (.8 WAR) and Severino (1.6 WAR) start strong.  However, I don’t see how the rest of the rotation is going to hold up over the course of the season and counting on Pineda to stay healthy is a big leap of faith.  Tanaka, thought to be an anchor is struggling (-.3 WAR).  The Yanks are going to have to overpower teams and hope they lead going into the 8th inning (to reach their top tier end gamers) to keep the wins coming.  That’s a lot to ask for a young team that was thought to be at least a year from contending.

Tampa is the one team that is question mark for me.  Their pitching staff is young but solid and their line-up, if Morrison (1.3 WAR and already matching his homer total for all of last year) and Dickerson (2.7 WAR) can stay hot is intriguing.  They might have a run in them or they might fall off a cliff and Chris Archer (1.2 WAR and a K per 9 of over 10) will be wearing new laundry and pitching for a contender when we reach September.

At this point, given Toronto’s age and health combined with the talent in the division, 2017 is likely not a year they will sniff contention.  The biggest question may be whether the front office is willing to jettison their top talent/biggest names in order to get younger.  They already let Edwin Encarnacion walk in the off season so it wouldn’t surprise me to see them try to move on from their current core if they can find takers willing to pay what they are asking for in return.

Updated June Projected Win Totals

Boston 90

Baltimore 86

NY Yankees 85

Tampa Bay 84

Toronto 78

 

nl east logos

NL EAST – Preseason Predicted Win Totals

Washington 91

NY Mets 87

Atlanta 76

Miami 75

Philadelphia 73

The NL East is shaping up largely as I envisioned heading into the season.  However, injuries have hit hard, especially with the Mets and although the order of the teams is likely to mirror my initial projection, the win totals are likely off (I’m looking at you, New York Mets).

Washington appears stacked and appears ready to give regular and repeated beatings to their divisional competition.  Even with the loss of Adam Eaton early in the season the team continues to run over their competition and looks to be serious contender in the NL.  Their search for a closer is overrated during the regular season but they would be wise to figure things out and set roles for the arms in the pen and make a move or two for the post season when an upgraded bullpen will be essential.

The Mets, who entered the season with the notion of challenging the Nationals for the top of the NL East has morphed into an injury riddled poorly run organization.  The pitching which heading into 2017 was the envy of most teams has fallen apart and deGrom (1.6 WAR) is the only thing holding the starting 5 from DEFCOM 1 status.  Conforto (2.2 WAR in only 154 at bats) has finally carved out regular playing time and looks to be turning into the star many expected him to become.  Bruce (124 OPS+) had an early hot streak and continues to keep the team competitive during these rough times.  Things may have a way of working themselves out but with Familia out for at least a few months and a lot of health question marks up and down the roster I don’t see this getting better for the Mets.

Atlanta was off to a surprisingly strong start thanks to Freddie Freeman (2.7 WAR/ 226 OPS+) and Matt Kemp (163 OPS+) powering the offense.  Brandon Phillips has also been a solid pick up (103 OPS+).  Now, Freeman is out for a projected 10 to 12 weeks with a broken wrist, Dansby Swanson (a preseason favorite for NL Rookie of the Year) continues to have a disastrous time at the plate (52 OPS+), and the veteran pitching help the team brought in has not paid off as they hoped (Dickey 0.0 WAR and Colon -1.1 WAR).  This team looks to be sinking like a stone.

The Marlins have been quietly mediocre to poor for a while and things don’t seem to be changing any time soon.  It will be nice to see what changes the organization can make once the despised Loria sells the team and new ownership takes over.  As 2017 plays out, there is little besides a great outfield to get excited about.  Ozuna has a 147 OPS+, Stanton a 138 OPS+, and Yelich a 101 OPS+ (and 1.3 WAR). A terrible rotation, an under-achieving pen, and no help coming from the minors.  The only reason they may avoid the basement in the NL East is the equally brutal Phillies.

The Phillies have a terrible starting rotation (nobody has an ERA+ of even 100) and a sketchy pen that miscast its pieces and cost the team a few wins already.  The offense is built around some flawed players (Joseph and his contact issues, Saunders with his health, etc…) and players who have not developed the way the team hoped (Exhibit A: Franco).  Altherr has been their most exciting player sporting an OPS+ of 156 but whether he can sustain that type of production is a huge question mark.  If Nola can stay healthy and the other young arms can slowly develop/improve at the major league level, Franco can find fix whatever is wrong with his offensive approach, and the best arms in the pen are used in the highest leverage situations, this team has an outside shot to overtake the Marlins for 4th in the division.

Updated June Projected Win Totals

Washington 99

NY Mets 80

Atlanta 72

Miami 70

Philadelphia 65

 

For the original March 31st projections, click here.

Follow me on Twitter: @doctordaver

How About Some Pop Punk – Part 2

I’ve been a huge pop punk fan for years and it’s great to see that the genre is still alive and kicking.  When Lookout Records went under I had some serious concerns that some of the best music would become unavailable to the next generation of fan.  Some of the key releases have become much harder to find on CD or vinyl but all the streaming services and access to music through Youtube and a million other apps and platforms, I am reassured that some of the best music ever made will continue to find a savvy audience.

When I see the pop punk bands that are talked about today, it makes me feel old.  Good Charlotte considered ‘old school’ just makes me feel OLD!  There is a ton of amazing pop punk out there and I feel like I wouldn’t be doing my job unless I highlighted some of my personal favorite releases from decades past.  I will do my best to not get too obscure with the recommendations, however, a few of these bands/releases may be tougher to find than others.  Additionally, I am not here to split hairs and argue with people what is punk, pop punk, emo, etc… This post isn’t to define who is or is not in the pop punk genre, its only purpose is to highlight some melodic punk rock that may be overlooked by kids today that might really enjoy hearing some good music.  With that said, here is part two of bands, albums, and songs that are worth chasing down and checking out (Bands L-R).  To see Part 1, click here.

  • Well known bands and bands currently releasing music with regularity are left off this list (Ramones, Rancid, NOFX, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Misfits, Menzingers, My Chemical Romance, Offspring, Operation Ivy, and Rise Against).

lawrence arms

Lawrence Arms – These guys have a ton of amazing songs in their catalogue.  Try there few and see why they should be your new favorite band of the week – The Devil’s Taking Names, Quincentuple Your Money, Porno and Snuff Films.

left alone

Left Alone – I’m not a huge fan of all of their stuff but they really put a really catchy and well written song together with their track Every Night.

lillingtons

Lillingtons – You like Teenage Bottlerocket?  Well check out their origins.  This is Spy-core and it is done really well.  Check out Final Transmission and their version of Wait It Out.

manges

Manges – A great pop punk band from Italy.  Elvis Has Left The Building, I Will Always Do, and Yeah (Late Nite Song) are my three personal favorites from the band.

matches

Matches – I really love the song, Dog Eared Page.

methadones

Methadones – Danny Vapid (of Screeching Weasel fame) has a million bands and a million releases.  The guy just churns out punk rock anthems.  Check out his band, The Methadones on tracks like Imperfect World, Bored Of Television, and Suddenly Cool.  Also, check out another of his bands, The Mopes, and the tracks, My Heart Won’t Bleed For You and I Don’t Know How To Say Goodbye.

midtown

Midtown – Rock N Roll is just about as good a straight ahead radio friendly pop punk song as I have ever heard.

bosstones

Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Godfathers of ska-core.  Check out Someday I Suppose, The Impression That I Get, and Jackknife To A Swan for a taste of what they do best.

mtx-love-is-dead-cover

Mr. T Experience – Dr. Frank writes some of the best lyrics the genre has ever known.  Although there are a ton of MTX classics, I would recommend a first timer to check out Baa Baa Baa Baa Baa, Love Is Dead, Even Hitler Had A Girlfriend, I Fell For You, More Than Toast, New Girlfriend, and You You You.

muffs

Muffs – Great band that never really received their due.  Kim is my favorite female vocalist of all time.  Check out Agony, I’m A Dick, and Best Time Around.

mxpx

MxPx – A ton of solid releases but Life in General was my favorite.  Check out the Middlename and My Mom Still Cleans My Room for a taste of what they offer.

nerf herder

Nerf Herder – Dorkier than Weezer.  These guys are a ton of fun.  Check out How To Meet Girls and focus on the tracks Vivian, Courtney, and Lamer Than Lame.

no use for a name

No Use For A Name – A great band that brings it musically and lyrically.  Check out International You Day and if you like what you hear, seek out their stuff.

osker

Osker – Epitaph band fronted by a young punk who had some serious song writing chops.  Fast, aggressive, no fills and in your face.  Treatment 5 is one of my all time favorite CDs.  Check out Alright, 13, and I Cannot.  Their follow up was a huge departure and took some time for listeners to get into.  After that?  Poof!  Never to be heard from again.  I’m bummed.

pinhead gunpowder

Pinhead Gunpowder – An all star line up featuring Billie Joe from Green Day.  Melodic but raw.  Check out Backyard Flames, Future Daydream, and Beastly Bit.

propaghandi

Propagandhi – Like Kid Dynamite in my last post, these guys are not pop punk.  However, some of their songs have a strong melodic component that people looking to broaden their horizons might want to explore.  Less Talk, More Rock is their classic release but a ton of their other CDs are great as well.  My personal recommendations to someone hearing them for the first time would be the tracks I Was A Pre-Teen McCarthyist and Ska Sucks.

queers

The Queers – One of the main bands of the Lookout Records era.  They started as raw, offensive, sloppy punk outfit and morphed into a truly genre defining pop punk powerhouse (keeping their offensive lyrics, at least for the most part).  Check out Teenage Bonehead, Tamara Is A Punk, No Tit, and Daydreaming for their poppy side and Life This Life and Ben Weasel for when they show their edge.

riverdales

Riverdales – The guys in Screeching Weasel created this project to create three chord Ramones inspired pop punk.  Their self titled debut was incredible and they continued to put out release after release of Ramones inspired goodness.  Check out Rehabilitated, Outta Sight, She’s Gonna Break Your Heart, Plan 13, I Don’t Wanna Go To The Party, Riverdale Stomp, Last Stop Tokyo, and Diabolik.

You can follow me on Twitter @Doctordaver

You may also want to check out stuff I wrote about:

Direct Hit

Screeching Weasel

NOFX

Mr. T Experience