Lead Story - 4/9/2021
60% Report Out and All Star AdjustmentsWe're now 60% of the way through the season! Pennant races have shifted wildly. The once hopeless have hope (Boston). And some All Star snubs have drama and trash talk brewing throughout the league. Let's swing around each division to see what's happening.
Over in the A.L. East Tampa's new ownership has them planted firmly as the team to beat while two potential All-Star Selections, Tampa's Seth McClung and Toronto's Ken Holtzman are steaming from a snub. Let's start with Tampa. At 52-44 and +60 the Rays are clearly the class of an otherwise blah A.L. East. At catcher, Jim French has reason to feel snubbed after hitting .315, .434, .518, .952 with 66 runs scored and 33% of would-be base stealers thrown out. Certainly Alex Avila and his 32 HR's are deserving, but as the Tigers primary DH, some are wondering whether Detroit should have two catchers on the All-Star roster. One other Tampa hitter having an All-Star season who did make the team is Elijah Dukes. With an OPS of 1.034, 31 HR's, and a positive contribution defensively the outfield he has been solid and deserves his slot.
On the mound Doug Waechter made the team with one of the A.L.'s lower starting pitcher WHIP's at 1.17. Chad Gaudin also made the team but a number of other Tampa relievers could arguably stake claim to that slot. These include Peralta 2.03, 0.98 WHIP, and Soriano 2.11, 1.02 WHIP. One reliever who really doesn't deserve to be there is McClung. Take a look at his numbers compared with replacement Sean Kelly from Cleveland.
McClung: 7-0, 3.64, WHIP 1.23, 7.1 K9, 2 saves 23 games, 73 IP.
Kelly: 5-2, 3.11, WHIP 1.01, 9.8 K9, 3 saves, 60 games, 66 IP.
Kelly wins the ERA, WHIP, K9, battle while pitching more games and a comparable amount of innings. All Star!
In Toronto Ken Holtzman has been vocal about his snub. "When we weren't winning I could understand," said the 11 game winner with and ERA of 4.57 and WHIP of 1.35. "But now we are and we play in a band box of a ballpark so year, my numbers won't look as good as some others." So does he have a fair claim? Teammate Dontrelle Willis may not think so (3.91, WHIP 1.37, 7-4) in that same band box ball park. Blue Moon Odem ultimately got the nod playing in a neutral park. You decide after looking at the numbers side by side.
Holtzman: 11-9, 4.57, 1.35, 5.2K9, 145 IP, 8CG, 1 SHO, 8 QS.
Odem: 7-9, 3.65, 1.13, 6.0 K9, 145 IP, 7CG, 3 SHO, 11 QS.
Though Odem has fewer wins, he has a better ERA, WHIP, strikeout ratio, and has more shutouts and quality starts.
To finish with the A.L. East story, the Jays are a respectable 48-48, -23, a comfortable four games up in the wild card race. At 44-52, Boston has climbed back from the depths as far as eight back to get within one of the Wildcard. The Bo Sox have been led by MVP candidate Tony Conigliaro who has been red hot all season posting a line of .318, .376, .704, 1.080, with 32 HR's, 83 RBI, and 76 runs scored. With 167 team home runs the Red Sox can mash. They are not quite on par with Toronto's 213 team dingers, but with four players at 24 HR's or more they are never out of a game.
Out in the A.L. West it is all Detroit. At 58-38 and +59 the Tigers have 13 games on Cleveland and can coast comfortably in to the finish. Some notable performances in the first 60% of the season were shortstop Omar Infante, .309, .369, .494, 25 2b, 6 HR, .976 Fielding % and +6 defensive plays, outfielder Brent Clevien, .674 Slug, .974 OPS, 38 HR, 79 RBI, all without making an error in the outfield, and relievers Fu-Te-Ni 4-1, 2.64, 1.04 WHIP, and Cy Young Award Winner Joel Zumaya 3.09, 0.95, 7.7 K9, 29 saves, in 75 innings.
Two other teams out West capable of making Wild-Card Runs are Cleveland 45-51 (currently last WC), and Seattle 44-52, (one game back). Cleveland is led offensively by 23-year-old phenom Jeremy Hermida .293, .348, .652, 1.000, 35 HR, 75 RBI, and a + defensive contribution. At 2b Jose Vizcaino has turned in a solid all around performance by hitting .320, .354, and scoring 41 runs while contributing +9 defensive plays at 2b without making an error. On the mound aforementioned Sean Kelly has come out of the pen in 2/3'rds of Cleveland's games and Jack Dilauro has been a nearly every day reliever as well while posting impressive stats at 2.85, 0.97, with 3 saves and a 3.70 DICE.
Seattle is probably the league's most disappointing team, After posting an OPS over .850 last season the M's are stuck at .745 with a meagre team batting average of .235. A few guys have showed up to play: Edgar Martinez .289, .350, .499, with 29 SB's, Ivan Calderon .262, .339 .647, .986 with 29 HR's, and shortstop Danny Tartibull .262, .343, .517, +4 D all come to mind. Six other key players are hitting under .230, however, which has hurt this team's chances.
On the mound Erik Hansen has been the best of the M's starters at 4.04 1.09 WHIP, and Karl Best has been a beast out of the pen at 2.39, 0.87 WHIP, with 27 saves and only 2 blown saves.
Other things of note in the American League: Had Carlos Pena hit .285, .359, .616, .975 when they brought him over from NY last year, the Senators might have contended for a wild card spot. With a current team ERA of 5.31 they are not competitive and should be thinking of shopping Pena for prospects. Also, the A's still look old and bad. Time to rebuild.
In the National League the talent pool boarders on absurd. Let's start in the NL East where future hall of famer Tyler Clippard summed up the Nats situation perfectly. "Man, when you win eight out of ten games and you gain only one game on a team. That's just frustrating. We're making our run but it's going to be tough digging out of this hole."
Indeed chasing the Mets has been a challenge. Why have the Mets been so good? One word... Pitching.
Where the Mets pitching has been better than expected is out of the pen. The most extreme example of this is reliever Steve Ontiveros, who took Frank Snook's place on the All-Star squad. Compare the two pitchers lines and it's hard to argue Ontiveros is undeserving.
Snook: 8-2, 4.60 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, .316 oOBP, 7.1 H9, 5.4 BB9, 7.1 K9, 43 games, 47 IP, 14 saves.
Ontiveros: 4-0, 0.31 ERA, 0.55 WHIP, .154 oOBP, 4.0 H9, 1.0 BB9, 5.9 K9, 21 games, 29 IP, 1 save.
Yes, Snook has more innings, games, and saves, but Ontiveros numbers are absurd. He's allowed one run in 29 1/3 innings pitched. Other Mets pitchers: Grover Powell 0.50 ERA, Spooneybarger 1.94, 0.92, 22 saves, Buschorn 1.71, 0.89 WHIP, 47 IP. And starters Rod Gardner 3.20, 0.99, 7.4 K9, and Dick Selma 14-3, 3.81, 1.05, 7.7 K9. Other Mets notes, Ted Wilbourn has hit well since coming over and rumors are out that he's on the slump buster juice again.
The Nats meanwhile are nine back. They shouldn't be. George Bell has been a monster offensively .318, .381, .659, 1.040, 31 HR and 77 RBI, five other players have 20 HR or more, and the team has played +48 defense. Pitching has been where the Nats have struggled a bit unexpectedly. Starters Strasburg, Ryan, and Stoneman all have ERA's north of 4.00, and perhaps more meaningfully, so do three newcomer stud relievers Matt Albers, Sean Doolittle, and Ryan Madson. The Nats have found their mojo recently winning eight of ten games. It will be tough for them to take the division after digging such a deep hole, but if this team gets hot at the right time they're capable of winning a World Series from the Wild Card Slot. Nobody wants to face this team in the playoffs.
At 53-43 the Braves are probably overachieving at -10 for run differential, but they do have a shot to keep those Nats out of the playoffs if things go south in D.C. Atlanta has improved dramatically on D at only -10 for the season and the confidence this has produced in Ace starter Tommy Greene is unmistakable. Compare Greene's seasons 9 to 10 and you can see the difference a little D makes.
Season Nine: 5-24, 6.44, 1.61 WHIP, 11.5 H9, 2.9 BB9, 6.9 K9, 5.78 DICE
Season Ten: 7-7, 3.79, 1.21 WHIP, 8.7 H9, 2.2 BB9, 6.9 K9, 3.98 DICE.
In Florida campaign was uncorked when all pitchers on their roster got their ERA's under 7.00.
Out West the Reds are proving they are the team to beat. Offensively this team is ridiculous. Check out the line of their top four offensive players:
Kal Daniels: .335, .402, .631, 1.033, 33 2b, 11 3b, 19 HR, 47 SB.
Tracy Jones: .354, .404, .530, .934, 27 2b, 1 3b, 12 HR, 21 SB.
Lenny Harris: .309, .356, .464, .820, 14 2b, 14 HR, 34 SB.
Barry Larkin: ..308, .340, .530, .873, 16 2b, 3 3b, 15 HR, 33 SB.
Hokey Smokes those are some numbers. And the Reds can pitch too. Jay Tibbs is 14-2 , 2.95, 1.01, Jeff Russel is at 3.07, 1.09 WHIP, and three relievers are sporting WHIP's below 1.05 including Rob Murphy at 1.32, 1.03.
The Pirates are hanging on at 59-37, +94 and look poised to return to the playoffs. Catcher Jack Shepard has led the way hitting .312, .392, .632, 1.024 with 25 HR's and 3 of their 5 starters have ERA"s south of 5.00 after none could claim that last year. Rudy Seanez has been lights out from the pen at 1.08, 0.86 and is an all-star snub.
In Arizona the D-Backs are desperate to hang on an if anything is going to save them it will be their pitching. Oscar Villarreal has been amazing at 1.74, 0.81 and made the All-Star Team. Starter Josh Beckett is an all-star final four man having posted 8-4, 3.27, 1.05, 8.8 K9 numbers.
The Cubs meanwhile...at least they finally put Edwin Jackson in the minors.