Goodbye Jose Fernandez

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I have struggled over the past few days as to what to write about the loss of Jose Fernandez. Still as I am typing this am unsure what to really say. We knew so little about him, yet he was such a great personality in the sport we love.

He played every game like it was his last and had one every step of the way. He was a boy at hear, but a man on the field. There were times that his energy got him in trouble, but he was never the type that intentionally acted out. He was admired by Cuban’s everywhere as one of their own who made the American dream a reality.

If you weren’t aware Fernandez tried four times to escape Cuba, failing in the first three attempts. In his fourth attempt at 15 he finally made it. On that journey he had to rescue his mother who fell out of the boat an in to the water. Surely an experience like that made a strong bond even stronger. It’s a shame that the water that lead carried him to freedom, also took him from us.

He was beloved by his team, coaches and front office personnel. It has been easy to see what his teammates like Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon, Marcel Ozuna and others thought of him by their tweets, Instagram photos and reactions on the field Monday. He was loved by the entire MLB family.

We never will know what he could have been, a Cy Young winner, hall of famer, greatest pitcher we ever saw. But the memories we do have were impressive and won’t soon be forgotten.

Rest in peace Jose, we won’t soon forget you.

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A Deeper Look at Deciding the MVP

 

Every season there is much debate about who should win the MVP award in the American and National Leagues. There are many out there who think that the award should go to a player on a contending team, while others say that is not the case. We decided to look a little deeper and share our opinion on the subject.

The official rules for voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for the MVP award look like this: (1) actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense; (2) number of games played; (3) general character, disposition, loyalty and effort; (4) former winners are eligible; and (5) members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team. As you can clearly read in no way does the strength of the player’s team come in to the rules of voting. There is no mention of games won, a team being in playoff contention or anything else regarding the team a player plays for. So, why is it that so many people in the media and around the water cooler feel that the MVP needs to be on a contending team?

Does a player on a contending team play harder than one who is not? Or do opposing teams not give their best against players on non-contending teams? Of course not, so why care what the team’s performance has been for an individual award.

With all that being said there really is no argument in my mind as to how the MVP should be chosen. It is simple, use Wins Above Replacement or WAR. By definition WAR is a measure of how many wins, or how much value, an individual player brings to a team over a replacement level player. Higher the WAR, the more valuable that player is to their team. It’s a measure that takes team record and performance out of the equation and is strictly based on the individual.

Now that we have established how he MVP awards should be decided it’s easy to see that the National League MVP is Kris Bryant with a WAR of 7.3 and the American League MVP is Mike Trout with an MLB leading WAR of 10.0. Neither of these players isn’t already in the discussion for MVP, which just adds more credibility to the argument that WAR is the measure of who should be MVP.

On a side note, if you don’t realize it Mike Trout’s WAR of 10.0 is somewhat historic.

If you need more proof, then just look at the runner-ups in the AL and NL; Mookie Betts and Corey Seager. Both of them are also in the MVP discussion. Or maybe we should look at last year’s MVPs and where they fell in WAR. Bryce Harper lead MLB in WAR and Josh Donaldson was 5th. Not convinced yet? Ok, 2014’s MVPs Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout were number one and two in MLB WAR.

Yes, there will be plenty who say I am oversimplifying the MVP award by using one stat as the deciding factor, but those people are just behind the times and don’t realize stats rule baseball.

We Should be Talking about Rick Porcello More

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By Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Recently we wrote a post about why David Price should be in the conversation for the AL Cy Young. Though we still think that to be true, there may be an even better candidate on his same team. Even Price seems to think so.

Rick Porcello is having an amazing season that not enough of us are talking about. Porcello has a 21 – 4 record, a 3.08 ERA, 0.978 WHIP and 174 strikeouts to 29 walks in 210.7 innings. This has been by far the best season if his career. He has a career low ERA and WHIP and has matched his career high in complete games for a season.

So, why is it that he hasn’t been mentioned much as a candidate for the AL Cy Young? There are likely a few reasons. First, he is overshadowed in Boston by David Price and David Ortiz. It’s hard to be a candidate for the Cy Young when you are not even considered the best pitcher on your team. Second, he is not a dominant strikeout pitcher. Currently he is not even in the top 10 in strikeouts even though he is tied for second in innings pitched and only has 7.4 K/9. Third, he is Rick Porcello and many just don’t believe he is really this good.

Reality is that Porcello has to be talked about more. He leads AL pitchers in wins, third in EAR, first in WHIP, tied for third in complete games, first in strikeout to walk ratio and he plays in the pressure cooker that is Boston, MA. If Porcello does not figure in to the AL Cy Young voting then something is wrong with the system.

Two Start Pitchers for Week 24

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With the 2016 season coming to a close soon and rosters expanded finding quality two-start pitchers who are available is becoming more and more difficult. Especially when you take in to account that this time of year managers are known to throw in a random starter at any point during a week that could push a pitcher out of a two start week. Below are out picks for two-start pitchers the week of September 12th.

Miguel Gonzalez, SP White Sox (8% Owned)

Former Orioles starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez is lined up to face Cleveland and Kansas City in the upcoming week. And though the Indians are a touch match-up the Royals have been up and down offensively. He may have a hard time getting a win facing Carlos Carrasco and Danny Duffy, but he should give you good enough ratios and innings to have a shot at the win in both games. Over his last 9 starts Gonzalez has pitched extremely well with a 2.38 ERA and 1.057 WHIP. One of his best starts in that span was his last one against the Tigers where he tamed them to the tune of 6.3 innings, 6 hits, 0 walks and 0 earned runs. If he can hold down that offense, then he may have a shot to keep Cleveland’s power bats at bay as well.

Matt Boyd, SP Tigers (50% Owned)

Overshadowed in the Detroit Tigers rotation by Michael Fulmer and Justin Verlander has been the well performing Matt Boyd. Acquired from the Blue Jays Boyd took a while to get going this season, but is now firing on all cylinders. He will face a lack luster hitting Twins lineup to start the week and then go to Cleveland to face the always dangerous Indians. Both teams he faced before in 2016 and over three combined games against these two rivals he has pitched 16.7 innings and given up 10 hits, 5 walks and only 3 earned runs (all came in one game against Minnesota). Boyd’s season totals are not overly impressive but since July 9th he has had a n outstanding 2.56 ERA with a 1.154 WHIP. If he can keep his walks down, like he has so far against these two advisories this season, then he has a chance to put up good numbers in a week where two start pitchers are not easy to find.

There are some other, young, desirable options for two start pitcher in the coming week like Jose De Leon and Lucas Giolito but with the way schedules fall and the time of the year it may be hard to trust that both of these pitchers get their two starts.

Where Analysts Went Wrong in 2016

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Every year analyst put out their projections of where they see players finishing for that season in fantasy baseball. They use past history and their own thoughts on which players will improve and which will fall off. Some players like, Mike Trout or Madison Bumgarner, are somewhat easy to predict as they are very consistent. Others, however, can be extremely difficult. In this post we will look at three players that most if not all analyst got wrong. Players that for one reason or another did not live up to analyst expectations.

Bryce Harper, OF Nationals

After an amazing, MVP, season in 2015 everyone had high hopes for Bryce Harper. Many analysts had him as the top ranked player in baseball. After a season of 38 home runs, 97 RBIs, 112 runs, 125 walks and a .322 batting average it was no wonder we expected him to be such a high end player. As we wrote about earlier this season, to see that post click here, we may have over-hyped him. He had only had one season of those great numbers and we may have put too much in to that one season as this season has not compared to that one. Harper is hovering around the 20th ranked player in fantasy baseball this year, still a very good player, but nowhere near where we expected him to be. There have been rumors that he has been playing hurt and with a .255 batting average and only 23 home runs in 2016 we hope those rumors are true. At least that way we would have an explanation for why he is not what we thought he would be and would help us decide what to do in 2017.

Clayton Kershaw, SP Dodgers

Every season Clayton Kershaw is ranked at the top of all analyst rankings and that is well deserved. He never lets owners down as he has been consistently the best pitcher in baseball year after year. Even when he is not number one Kershaw is never far behind. 2016 was no exception as most every analyst had him ranked as the top pitcher and most had him in the top 5 of all players for fantasy baseball. He should have given owners wins, strikeouts, elite ERA and WHIP and just as many innings as any other pitcher out there, but then something went wrong. On June 30th he went on the disabled list, something that analyst could not predict, and has been out ever since. He is near a return now, but with so much of the season gone it is highly unlikely he will finish anywhere near where he was drafted. Even with the injury he still ranks 32 overall and 4th amongst pitchers. While playing he amassed a 1.79 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 145 Ks and 11 wins in 16 starts and 121.0 innings. He was on pace for what could have been his best season in his career, but will fall far short of that.

Andrew McCutchen, OF Pirates

Prior to the 2016 season when fantasy baseball owners heard the name Andrew McCutchen they thought elite outfielder and a player you would love to have on your team. That was not the case for this season. McCutchen has fallen and fallen far in rankings. As the season started the narrative was that he is just a slow starter and that he would turn it on and reward those owners who held on to him, but that has not happened. In 2015 McCutchen finished ranked 32nd overall, dropping 17 spots from where he finished in 2014. Maybe analyst should have looked at that drop in more depth, but we didn’t, we ignored it and he was a consensus top 10 player coming in to this year. Currently he has a .253/.331/.420 slash line which compared to his career line of .293/.382/.487 is a big disappointment. With only 19 home runs and a mere 6 stolen bases to go with his 58 RBIs and 68 runs he is ranked 101st overall in 2016. There is no explanation for why he has fallen so far from what he was and we still don’t know if this will be the norm for him moving forward. None of that matters to those who own him this season though as all they can do is wonder what could have been if he lived up to his expectations.

Others we could have included in this post; Prince Fielder, Carlos Correa, Shelby Miller, Jose Bautista or James Shields.