Thursday, March 29, 2012

Where am I? How did I get here? Charleston Soggy Dogs edition

This is the last installment that doesn't include Season 19 totals, so if any of Charleston's acquisitions had big seasons - sorry, I'm slow.
Top 10 Draft Picks:
10. Will Hyzdu. S10, R1-#12. 3 Gold Gloves. Unfortunately his 3 Gold Gloves came at 1B. Great, he has a lifetime OPS around .750, not very good for 1B.
9. John O'Keefe. S6, R1-#23. He took advantage of the ballpark in Burlington for 3 nice seasons, which was only fair after the way he was treated during his time in the hitter's park that is Texas.
8. Candy Boyer. S1, R4-#142. Lifetime batting average of .277. For a player drafted in the 4th round, he had a remarkable career.
7. Fred Krause. S11, R1-#2. After debuting in the big leagues at age 20 in season 13, he has begun to show why he was worthy of such a high draft pick with strong seasons in S17 and S18.
6. Norman Buchanan. S7, R1-#18. 2 Silver Sluggers. He's averaged 40 homers for the past 7 seasons (S12-S18). He is closing in on career RBI #1000.
5. Lenny Webster. S8, R1-#5. 1 All-Star appearance, 1 Silver Slugger, 1 Gold Glove. He has 300 career homers and close to 900 career RBIs.
4. Christopher Treadway. S2, R2-#51. Season 16 was his best season with a 1.20 WHIP and 3.55 ERA.
3. Darwin Francis. S12, R1-#1. 3 All-Star appearances, 2 Silver Sluggers. He has a lifetime average near .320, an OPS around .970.
2. Emmanuel Williams. S3, R1-#21. 1 Cy Young, 2 All-star appearances, 1 World Series Ring. His career ERA is below 4.00. He has 8 seasons with over 200 innings pitched. A number of fantastic seasons, but S13 and S14 stand out.
1. Grady Blake. S2, R1-#4. 6 All-Star appearances, 2 World Series Rings. He has had a very solid career with a career ERA around 4.00 and almost 3000 innings pitched. His 276 quality starts rank 13th in world history.
Top 5 International Signings (I'm so slow that the international signings include Season 19):
5. Efrain Lee.  S2-$1.5M.  1 All-star appearance.  I admire his perseverence.  After signing in Season 2, he did not make his Major League debut until Season 15 (age 32).
4. Domingo Cueto.  S4-$6.6M.  He had a nice season in Texas in Season 14 with 30 homers.
3. Victor Cortes. S10-$14.5M. With a lifetime ERA around 6.00, we're still waiting for him to earn his signing bonus.
2. Ismael James. S16-$13.5M. He had a promising 20 starts in Season 19 posting a 1.10 WHIP and a 2.50 ERA.
1. Jumbo Satou. S2-$5.5M. He put together a nice career with a .275 AVG and 200 Home Runs.

Next up: Charlotte Sturgeon

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Season 19 Awards Picture

It's nearly time to vote for awards. Maybe we can avoid a debacle like last year, when three people tied for the NL MVP vote, and they just gave it to Rabbit Lilly again.

This is my attempt to determine the best candidates in each spot.

Best AL MVP Candidate(s)

Yeico Torres, 1B - .368 BA, 39 HRs, 1.101 OPS, 11.45 RC/27

Case For: Lead AL in RC/27, and over 2.3 higher than second place. Lead AL in BA by .033 points. Led AL in OPS by nearly .1. All of the other candidates are near the top of the AL in many of those areas, but no one has been as dominant as Torres.

Case Against: He plays 1B. Darwin Francis (2B) and Rex Strickland (SS) both play key defensive positions and had great offensive numbers. I tend to factor defense into my votes, and anyone would be justified in going with Francis or Strickland, but Torres' numbers are just too huge for me to ignore.

Best NL MVP Candidate

Donnie Pennington, SS - .267 BA, 29 HRs, .862 OPS, 6.44 RC/27

Case For: Terrific numbers on offense are great, but he's also a Gold Glover winner at SS. His OPS was 12th in the NL, but higher than any other candidate.

Case Against: Low batting average, not a particularly dominant offensive season. None of the candidates were dominant, though.

Best AL Cy Young Candidate

Harry Vega - 23 Ws, 174 Ks, 1.93 ERA, 0.98 WHIP

Case For: He was dominant, and no one else in the AL really came close. Only 2nd player in AL history to have an ERA under 2.

Case Against: You could feasibly argue Polin Prieto's 270 innings pitched (2nd all-time) deserve some credit, but I'm going with the more efficient pitcher here.

Best NL Cy Young Candidates

John Tanaka - 18 Ws (4th in NL), 196 Ks (6th), 1.97 ERA (2nd), 0.91 WHIP (1st)

Case For: That WHIP, which was the only sub-1.00 in the NL and ties the all-time record set by Hal Ray in Season 16.

Case Against: Whether or not you thought Sergei Orr was better. Home field is a pitcher's park.

Sergei Orr - 19 Ws (tied for 1st in NL), 213 Ks (2nd), 1.94 ERA (1st), 1.12 WHIP (1.12)

Case For: Better ERA and strikeout numbers than Tanaka. One more win, but less losses (if you think Ws in a valid stat, which I don't). Accumulated those numbers with a pretty neutral ballpark factor.

Case Against: Whether or not you thought John Tanaka was better. Inferior WHIP.

This is really close. Both guys put up monster years. I'm voting for Tanaka, because he's my guy. If he wasn't, it would still be a toss-up.

Best AL Rookie of the Year Candidate

Michel Fernandez, SP - 18 Ws, 193 Ks, 2.98 ERA, 1.07 WHIP

Case For: All of the AL ROY candidates are pitchers, and Fernandez was the best.

Case Against: San Francisco's Yorvit James had a very good season, with a lower ERA, but his WHIP was higher, and he didn't throw nearly as much.

Best NL Rookie of the Year Candidate

Allen Donovan, 1B - .274 BA, 36 HRs, .855 OPS, 6.06 RC/27

Case For: Despite a great class of rookies, Donovan put up the best numbers. He was also a finalist for NL MVP.

Case Against: Any of the field-playing candidates here are strong. Especially Ben Rupe and Larry Ebert.

Season 19 Regular Season Recap

I made some predictions to start the season. Let's see how those panned out.

American League

North: I picked Cleveland to beat Columbus, but it was a close call, and I thought both teams would be major WS contenders. Columbus added Rondell Dorsey, though, and proved to be tougher down the stretch. They've won their last 10 games.

East: As predicted (and as usual), the Nationals were dominant with Syracuse coming in second and safely earning a wild card berth.

South: Charlotte took the South by 32 games. Wow.

West: San Francisco took the title in the ALs weakest division.

Analysis: It wasn't hard to make these picks, so I won't be congratulating myself too much. I expected some surprises out of Seattle and Philadelphia, but the Suckerfish decided to rebuild some more, and Philly still has a ways to go. Perhaps capitalizing their mascot name would help for next season.

National League

North: While it was pretty wide open, I expected Iowa City would come out of the North with Pittsburgh challenging, but Burlington proved too much. Pittsburgh's drop, meanwhile, was precipitous, and they'll have one of the first three picks in next season's draft.

East: Toledo and Kansas City looked be too close to call, and it pretty much is, with the teams tied for the lead with one game left in the season. Fortunately, the loser will get a Wild Card slot.

South: I thought Monterrey would run away with the National League, especially after they spent the season gobbling up every bit of talent they could in the trade market (the Bryan Webster trade, especially, should've put them over the top). I was a little shocked they didn't break the 100 win mark, but they earned the top seed easily and I expect them to run the table. I didn't expect much from New Orleans, who finished with the second Wild Card spot.

West: Wichita looked like the favorites, and I may have been overly humble in saying so, because my Timbers looked pretty strong, too. Instead, Salem was the biggest surprise in the National League, winning the division. Wichita was a big disappointment, finishing lower than .500. What's interesting is the Advanced Standings. According to expected winning percentage, Wichita was the second unluckiest team in the league, finishing 50 points under their expected percentage. Only Cleveland was less lucky, finishing 57 points under (but still earning a Wild Card spot). Considering Wichita has two MVP finalists, and a Silver Slugger/Gold Glove winner at shortstop, I expect them to take the West easily next season.

Analysis: While the NL is weaker overall and lacks the strength of the AL's best teams, it's my opinion that the talent is more evenly distributed. We may not produce a World Series contender outside of Monterrey for a while, though.

Luckiest Teams According to Expected Winning Percentage: Tacoma, San Francisco, Mexico City