Wednesday, September 23, 2009

World Series Preview: The Steamers perspective

The Cleveland Steamers

For the third straight year, the Cleveland Steamers have marched through the American League playoffs like a team with something to prove. Of course, Cleveland entered the season as the reigning Cobb champion. But to truly be considered great in Cobb one title is not enough: you must be dynastic. The Cleveland players are determined, perhaps obsessed, to prove they belong among the greatest teams of all time. This determination gives them an edge, and makes them a dangerous opponent.

How they got here: The Steamers were the #4 seed, and swept the Florida Almendares (#5), the Louisville Dogs (#1) and the Tacoma Jerry Gang (#2).

Cleveland Steamers Positional Analysis

C: B

1B: B+

2B: A-

3B: B



DH/Bench: A


Bullpen: A

Who is Hot:

Pitchers: Cleveland’s bullpen. The Steamers ace bullpen arms-- Charles Gold (.143/.143/ .190), Trevor Seelbach (.132/ .193/ .151) and Bruce Weber (.174/.174/.348)-- have shredded opposing line-ups this postseason. If Cleveland’s offense can establish even a slight lead, it will be nearly impossible for Omaha to mount any kind of comeback.

Hitters: Lyle Crudale(.395/.478/.868) has been a one-man wrecking crew, launching 5 home runs in Cleveland’s 10 playoff games.

Who’s Not:

Former Omaha 3B Albert Burnett bashed 36 HR for Cleveland in the regular season. He has managed a mere .350 slugging in the playoffs. 2B Jose Ganadarillas may miss some time with an injury to start the World Series.

Key Match-up: Walter Maroth v. Grant Keats. The Steamers and the Sluggers are, on paper, very evenly matched teams. As a result, this Series will be decided by who can do the little things right. Important to the Steamers success will be stopping Keats and the Sluggers’ running game. With both club's pitching unlikely to yield much scoring, the runners who do reach base are going to be aggressive. Although he has the reputation of being a superb defender behind the plate, Maroth stopped only 14 of 105 basestealers this past season. He also allowed an uncharacteristic 20 passed balls, something else that advances runners unnecessarily.

Why Cleveland will win: Cleveland’s bullpen has been red hot this offseason. The top of their rotation is almost unhittable. They are getting some offense from every position except C and SS where they instead have above average defenders. Right now, their line-up is dismantling pitching staffs. This is top to bottom an excellent team, and is also a team determined to establish itself as a dynasty. Cleveland in 5.

What they are saying:

Albert Hill: “I haven’t been around the league all that long and I know you have to respect a veteran club like Omaha. I just think people should give us more respect for our accomplishments.”

Lonny Boyd: “Too many people let their problems with the GM 's strategy affect their opinion of us. What happens in the front office happens there, what happens on the field happens here, you know? Did they hate Barry Larkin too?“

“There’s a reason they’re called the tools of ignorance: I can’t let my at bats affect my pitch calling. I can't think about free agency. My team needs me out there. ” Walter Maroth on keeping perspective during a batting slump.

“If they win, I’ll name a new ravioli after them.” Cleveland native and long time Steamers season ticket holder Chef Boyardee.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

World Series Preview: Omaha Sluggers

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

The World Series is upon once again, and for the 3rd time in 4 seasons Cobb World is looking at an Omaha Sluggers/Cleveland Steamers tilt for all the marbles. Will Omaha continue their series dominance, or is the 3rd time a charm for Cleveland? The Times-Herald will take a close look at each team and tell you why each one could win or lose a matchup that is becoming one of the biggest rivalries in the league.

The Omaha Sluggers

What can be said about this team that hasn't already been mentioned? The Sluggers are quite simply the most dominant franchise in the history of Cobb World, and this is their 6th World Series in 7 seasons, with 4 titles already to their name. When you think of baseball excellence in Cobb, you think of the Sluggers, and with their pitching and balanced lineup it is hard to pick against them.

How they got here: The Sluggers were the #2 seed behind the Syracuse Beagles, swept the Atlanta Pitbulls and took out the Columbus HoundDogs in 5 games to make the series.

Omaha Sluggers Positional Analysis
C: B+
1B: A
2B: B+
3B: B-
Bench: B
SP: A+
Bullpen: B+

Who is Hot: Jose Barrios (who else) is once again putting up huge numbers in the playoffs, this time hitting .344 with an OPS of 1.104 to lead the lineup. On the mound virtually every Omaha pitcher is bringing his "A" game to the playoffs, with Clyde Ford having the most microscopic numbers, 2-0 with a 1.02 ERA and .91 WHIP.

Who is Not: CF Peter Mullin is having a playoffs to forget thus far, managing a paltry .145 BA with an OPS of .475. SS John Simpson must have drank the same kool-aid, as he is only managing a .161 BA with a pathetic OPS of .323. Closer Bobby Flores has been a disaster in both of his appearances, managing a 40.50 ERA thus far, which under any analysis isn't good.

Key Matchup: Ivan Canseco vs. Ewell Booker. SP's 1 & 2 Ong and Ford are evenly matched by the Steamers top two starters, Ruben Gonzalez and Bill Palmer. With the injury to Gary Ferguson however, Omaha has a distinct advantage at the #3 spot in the rotation, as Booker is a major drop in quality. Booker will only likely get one start in the series, and Canseco should own this one on paper, and it is a game that Omaha really needs to own to ensure playoff success.

Why Omaha will win: Because they have done it 4 times before, twice vs. Cleveland. Really, is there any reason to pick against them? With the way their starters have been pitching, it would be difficult for a whole team of Ted Williams to get a hit. But other than experience, history, starting pitching, having the best pitcher and hitter in the history of the league playing at their best, there is a thing called karma. Omaha seems to have it, and it is tough to stop it. Sluggers in 6.

What they are saying:

Jose Barrios, "I have a ring for every finger, I need another one in case one of them gets lost showing off my bling to the kids in Cleveland."

Kazuhiro Ong, "It's on like Donkey Ong!"

Grant Keats, "We couldn't get it done last year when I was with Wichita. Time for some sweet revenge against those steaming turds in Cleveland, and this time I have some backup."

Bench Coach Dave Maxwell, "You have to respect Cleveland, not many teams can make the World Series four seasons in a row. That is quite an accomplishment. But I'll be pulling out all my dirty tricks to ensure that they don't win back to back championships. The road to the trophy goes through Omaha, and by the end of the series they will know it."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Free Agent Market: Starting Pitching

Starting pitching is the most valuable commodity in baseball. It controls the flow of the game and elite starting pitching can win championships nearly on its own. There is a good reason the two largest contracts ever given out in Cobb were awarded to starting pitchers. Unlike last season with Dean Hernandez or Season 4 with Phillip Brown, no pitcher is going to command a salary anywhere close to $20,000,000 per year. However, there is still some fine talent available.

FIP: Far and away, the top pitcher available is Benito Rodriguez (3.06 in 166 IP). It would be surprising for Rodriguez to not double his present salary in free agency. The next best available pitchers are Jolbert DeLeon (4.01 in 148 IP- mutual option) and Jason Sheldon (4.27 in 185 2/3- mutual option). The top 5 is rounded out by Ruben Montero (4.38 over 199 2/3 innings) and the aging but still capable Josias Morales (4.41 over 180 1/3).

Strike out artists: Also available this offseason are RJ Winn (7.91 k/9, 3.47 ERA over 174 IP), Rabbit Leyritz (7.46 k/9, 5.09 ERA over 178 2/3) , Bernie Lopez (7.17 k/9, 4.60 ERA over 189 IP), and Mac Xaio (6.83 k/9, 4.54 ERA over 208 1/3). Xaio was the only free agent to pitch more than 200 innings in Season 13.

Ruben Montero is tops among free agent starters with 18 wins. Now a long relief pitcher, Wilson Sobkowiak had 20 wins as a starter back in Season 11.

Free Agent Market: Relief Pitchers

A solid bullpen is a requirement for a championship club. Bullpens are hard to build, however, and the performance of relief pitchers is notoriously volatile. Fortunately, this year's group of free agent relievers features some very dependable and highly effective pitchers.

FIP: Yorvit Hernandez is the top bullpen ace available for season 14 (3.15 over 65 1/3 IP). The ground-ball specialist also has experience as a closer, converting 80 of 97 career opportunities. Southpaw Brace Keller (3.79 in 98 IP) had a sparkling 10 - 0 record this past year and converted 46 of 50 opportunities in Season 12.

Fireman Albert Franco (3.86 in 128 1/3 IP) was arguably even more valuable to Pawtucket's success than last year's super free agent Dean Hernandez (4.11). Dominant veteran Gerald Kojima (3.95 in 70 2/3 IP) and Virginian Pat Creek (3.90 in 30 IP) round out the top 5 relievers by FIP.

Notable: Ryan Kinney ( 4.09 over 134 2/3) appeared in 99 games for Omaha. Wilson Sobkowiak managed a 14 and 3 record, Cory Jenkins was 11 and 3 and ageless Flip Heathcott was 7 and 2.

Something left in the tank? Albert Cordero (4.23 FIP in 25 2/3 IP) , Bob Maduro (4.32 FIP in 17 IP), Alfredo Collins (4.36 FIP in 73 IP), David Encarnacion (4.91 FIP 15.2) , and Miguel Fernandez (4.97 FIP in 48 2/3 IP) might still be able to contribute to the right major league team in some capacity.

Free Agent Market: Closers

In addition to great pitching skills, to be a successful closer a pitcher has to be mentally tough to withstand the attention and pressure that comes from finishing games. Some managers want a pitcher with a solid track record so they can deflect blame away from themselves if the closer fails. Closer may be the hardest bullpen role to fill.

FIP: Julio Bennett, long a fixture in bullpens around Cobb, leads the group with a 2.75 in 13 2/3 innings. Bennett was sent to the minors by Cleveland although he converted 8 of 8 save opportunities, and will be looking for another opportunity in Season 14. Evan Taylor (3.07 in 48 2/3 innings- mutual option), Shane Parrish (3.38 in 77 innings), Charles Gold (3.40 in 45 1/3 innings) and Bart Sutton (3.73 in 36 innings) are the rest of the FIP leaders.

Saves: The more traditional way to evaluate closers is by the number of saves they collect. Shane Parrish and Geraldo Santiago (4.01 FIP over 59 1/3 innings) both converted 44 of 48 save opportunites. Bart Sutton and Bobby Flores (4.67 FIP over 36 innings) saved 30 of 34 and 23 of 26 respectively.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Free Agent Market: Shortstops

Some impact shortstops become available as free agents this offseason.

OBP leaders: Defensive wiz Harry Bolivar (.350) leads a group of free agent shortstops that is light on table setters. Marc Cintron (.344), Ron Leon (.344- mutual option) and mashers Rico Estrada (.333) and Corey Green (.331) are the rest of the top 5.

SLG leaders: Future Hall of Famer Corey Green (.519) will resume his pursuit of 500 HR somewhere besides Sioux Falls next season. Ron Leon (.488), Rico Estrada (.485), Steven Grilli (.475) and Ryan Saberhagen (.475) are the other big sluggers.

Defense: Harry Bolivar is the best defender in this group, although his only career Gold Glove was for his play in CF six seasons ago. Cuban defector Tomas Castillo still shows solid range and could be an asset off the bench for someone. Grilli, Green and Estrada are all solid, if unspectacular, defenders. John Simpson has 3 Gold Gloves in his trophy case, although he is slowing with age.

Two to watch: Besides the big stars, the most interesting players will be Ron Leon and Ryan Saberhagen. If these men are signed as 3Bs instead of SS, it may make the SS market very top heavy and potentially more expensive.

Free Agent Market: Left Fielders

Left Field is one of the most important offensive positions. This offseason clubs looking to fill a hole will choose from options that offer a good balance of offense and defense and also some affordable veterans.

OBP leaders: After a couple of sub-standard seasons, Lloyd Ross returned to form as an OBP machine (.428). Emmanuel Castillo (.386- mutual option), Carl Saturria (.352), Freddy Feller (.349 in 149 ab), and Bobby Farr (.341) comprise the rest of the top 5.

SLG leaders: Emmanuel Castillo posted a healthy .509, in part by launching 27 HR. Carl Saturria (.478), Lloyd Ross (.448), Freddy Feller (.435) and Bobby Farr (.415) are the other slugging leaders.

Defense. Lloyd Ross is the reigning AL Gold Glove, and Emmanuel Castillo is nearly as good a fielder.

Clubs looking for inexpensive options in LF may consider extending a spring training invitation to Carlos Gomez (career .303/ .371/ .489) or AJ Buck (career .289/ .353/ .447) . Richard Davis (career .298/ .386 /.408- may already have 3000 hits) is an option for a team looking for a veteran off the bench.

Two to watch: Lloyd Ross led all full-time AL LFs in rc 27, while Emmanuel Castillo finished 2nd among NL LFs. Ross will attract a lot of attention because he is probably not a Type A or B free agent. Castillo must decide whether to decline his mutual option and cash in on a huge Season 13 or return to a Sioux Falls team that missed the playoffs by one win.

Free Agent Market: Center Fielders

As usual, the free agent options are limited in center field.

The best bat among the available CFs is Javier Alvarez. While he managed a line of .282 / .369 / .459, excellent for a CF, Alvarez doesn't possess the range most teams require ( 12 '-' plays). Alvarez can still expect a strong market however; he profiles as a serviceable SS or an elite defender at 3B.

Harry Rios (player option) has the range to play CF, but has difficulty tracking flyballs. For many teams, Rios' (.276/ .336/ .429) line and 3 '+' plays will not outweigh his 16 errors.

The best defensive option is Morris Davis (.253/ .318/ .425), although he hasn't actually played in CF since season 11. While Davis' main attributes are his huge arm and great range, his bat also profiles nicely at the position.

Teams with an appetite for a project could take a look at Willis Roth. Banished to HiA by the Cleveland organization for Season 13, Roth is only 33 in Season 14 and he would still be valuable if he is capable of performing near his career averages ( .272/ .334/ .322 ). Roth would be a defensive upgrade for a few clubs, but is probably better suited for 2B.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Free Agent Market: Right Fielders

A very thin market could become much more interesting if a couple of large options are declined.

OBP leaders: Ryan Foster (.372) and Hades Booker (.370 - player option) are the best at getting on base.

SLG leaders: Hades Booker (.530) and Brett O'Keefe (.510).

Defense: Dennis Ashby is a superior defender and won the Season 12 Gold Glove, while O'Keefe has a satisfactory arm for the position. Alan Podsednick is more of a utility man, but can cover a lot of ground in the corner outfield.

At 30, Brett O'Keefe is the youngest of this small crop of free agents.

Two to watch: Will Hades Booker decline his 14,000,000 season 14 salary for a chance at one last big contract? If Dennis Ashby has a strong playoff for Pawtucket, will they exercise his option? Teams needing outfield help will be watching closely.

Free Agent Market: Catchers

The fastest way to improve a team is through free agency. Perhaps the best blog covering real life free agents is mlbtraderumors. We at the Cobb Times Herald will be providing you with similar analysis of the candidates at each position in Cobb, starting with catchers.

For those teams intent on upgrading at catcher, especially clubs looking for a capable back-up, there are a few good veteran options available.

OBP leaders: Tito Hyres leads the way with a very respectable .381 in part time action. Wascar Prieto (.365 in 135 ab), Archie Johnson (.364 in 54 games - team option for season 14), Vernon Jones (.360) and Lee Riccardi (.353 in 233 ab) round out the top 5.

SLG leaders: Tito Hyres (.510), Archie Johnson (.491), Wascar Prieto (.474), Vernon Jones (.466) and Kevin Rose (.425 in only 252 ab). Rose will be looking to re-establish himself after a down year.

Defense: Walter Moroth was the season 12 AL Gold Glove winner. Archie Johnson and Robert Zoltan are both respectable behind the plate while Vernon Jones and Tito Hyres are athletic defenders that might go well with a veteran pitching staff. JD Lewis and Kevin Rose are both regarded around the league as calling a good game.

The youngest cathcers in the free agent pool are Tito Hyres (30) and Willie Bennett (31 - team option).

Two to watch: JD Lewis may have earned himself a job in the majors next year with his play late in the year for Louisville (.293/ .370/ .585), while a so-far quiet playoffs could jeapordize Walter Moroth's chances of cashing in (no hits in 3 starts).

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Season 13 Playoff Preview

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

Once again autumn is upon us and bringing with it playoff baseball. This season Cobb has seen several unfamiliar franchises ascend to playoff heights, while some familiar faces have been left behind to watch on television. Lars has taken it upon himself to use his crystal ball, tarot cards, Mayan Calendar interpretations, and a scad of other unassailable foretelling techniques to sort it out and see what will happen. Read on for the results of Lars' House of Seance, and Lar's World Series prediction at the end of the article.

National League

Syracuse Beagles (114-48, #1 seed)
How they got here: Syracuse had one of the best regular seasons in the history of the league, and were clearly head and shoulders above every other National League team, and probably American League team as well. With All-Stars at nearly every position and in every spot in the rotation and bullpen, the Beagles have put together the most talented team since who knows when. Even in the brutally competetive NL East, it wasn't even close as Syracuse ran away with the division. But as we all know, and Syracuse knows only too well, the playoffs are another story entirely.
Offensive MVP: Louie Tarraga
Pitching MVP: Kirk White
What needs to go right: Luck. The SIM not deciding this would be a good day to ruin owner zooeydogs week. Quite frankly if talent alone decides who will win, Syracuse is a shoe in. Ron Reilly is their mopup for crying out loud.
What can go wrong: See above. If Syracuse has their typical playoff luck, it will be a short postseason for the Beagles, regardless of how awesome they are.
Fun Fact: Of the 16 previous teams to post more than 110 wins in a season, only 5 have gone on to win the World Series; the Cleveland Riverrats in season 3, Fargo Fug Nuts in season 6, and Omaha Sluggers in seasons 7, 9, &10.
Lars' Prediction: World Champion, unless someone on the team does something stupid, like shooting an Albatross.

Omaha Sluggers (97-65, #2 seed)
How they got here: The Sluggers rode the back of Cy Young contender Kazuhiro Ong yet again, with help from Clyde Ford and Ivan Canseco. Josh Price led the offense with another great season, and the Sluggers had the NL West wrapped up at the All Star break, although Iowa City is showing signs of life so it might be a little closer next season.
Offensive MVP: Josh Price
Pitching MVP: Kazuhiro Ong
What needs to go right: For the Sluggers to win the title once again their pitching will have to deliver. Of all the teams in the National League, Omaha probably has the top three starters capable of silencing the lethal Syracuse lineup. When Ong, Ford, and Canseco are at their best, not many teams can get a hit.
What can go wrong: Age. Jose Barrios is finally starting to slow down after the single greatest career in Cobb history, and will need to produce one more time in the playoffs, otherwise Price won't have a whole lot of protcction in the lineup, which could lead to some low scoring games for the Sluggers. Barrios' production is especially important as Price suffered a late season injury that might make him unavailable for the Sluggers opening series.
Fun Fact: The Sluggers have made the playoffs for the 11th consecutive season, tied with the Fargo Fug Nuts for the longest consecutive playoff appearance streak in the National League, and 1 season behind the Pawtucket G-Maniacs, who have made the playoffs 12 straight seasons out of the AL.
Lars' Prediction: 2nd Round and out, possibly to the LCS. The Sluggers pitching is just dominant, but Lars doesn't see quite enough in the lineup to support it, and thinks one of the wildcard teams will seize the opporunity in a short series.

New York Pick Pockets (89-73, #3 seed)
How they got here: New York was in a tight race with Sioux Falls until the last game of the season, where they took advantage of an error in the bottom of the 9th by the SXF closer, and used a Brad Mann walkoff homer in the 12th to vault themselves into their first ever playoff appearance.
Offensive MVP: Joseph Pan
Pitching MVP: Juan Moreno
What needs to go right: The Pick Pockets lineup is deep, and had a good season top to bottom, so the onus lies upon the pitching staff to pick it up, where outside of Juan Moreno and Louie Brogna, the results were spotty at best. They should get a big boost by the return from injury of Skeeter Robertson, but he and Moreno pitched the final two games of the season and won't be able to pitch until game three. So if one of the other starters can steal a win, NY will be in good shape.
What can go wrong: The unreliable back end of the NY pitching staff will not play well and blow the first two games in the opening series, putting NY in a hole they probably won't be able to dig out of.
Fun Fact: With NY's division title, this marks the first time in 13 seasons that Fargo or SXF hasn't finished 1st in the NL North, and the first time Fargo finsihed below 2nd place.
Lars' Prediction: Wildcard and out. NY had a good season, but their pitching staff is gassed, and Atlanta is a brutal first round opponant. With their lineup they might be able to hit out of it, but probably not.

Jackson Pollocks (86-76, #4 seed)
How they got here: Jackson took advantage of a late season collapse by Richmond and snuck into the playoffs on the last day courtesy of a four game winning streak.
Offensive MVP: Norm Gibson
Pitching MVP: Carlos Feliz
What needs to go right: The Pollocks collection of overachievers in the lineup needs to keep producing, the pitching staff needs to overcome their inability to dominate on a consistent basis to put together a solid streak of good games, and Columbus needs to fall apart.
What can go wrong: Norm Gibson pretty much realized the fears of Jackson fans everywhere as the MVP candidate suffered a season ending injury at the beginning of the playoffs. Without him to anchor the lineup, Jackson will have trouble scoring runs against a very good HoundDogs pitching staff.
Fun Fact: Jackson is the only franchise in Cobb history to have made the World Series at least twice and not have won.
Lars' Prediction: Wildcard and out. The bad times already started with the Gibson injury, and Columbus' bats are just going to be too much for the Pollocks pitching to handle.

Columbus HoundDogs (98-64, #5 seed)
How they got here: The HoundDogs were suffering at the all star break, but took the media's negative comments as inspiration to put together a great late season run to clinch the top NL wildcard spot with games remaining.
Offensive MVP: Chipper Harper
Pitching MVP: Sarma Inge
What needs to go right: The HoundDog bats need to stay hot, and pitching surprises such as R.J. Winn need to keep giving quality innings when needed. Ace Elvis Christman needs to up his game as well, as he has been a relative disappointment, and he will be needed to support Talmadge Young against the top teams in the NL.
What can go wrong: Injuries could happen to their great core of young hitters, the pitching could suddenly implode, or they could have a bad game in a short series that could hurt them.
Fun Fact: R.J. Winn's 14 wins are only 1 less than his previous three seasons combined.
Lars' Prediction: LCS is a possibility. Lars thinks that Columbus is the second best team in the NL this season, and could take advantage of Syracuse's typical bad luck should they meet them in the 2nd round of the playoffs. If that is the case, then a really deep run is a real possibility.

Atlanta Pitbulls (94-68, #6 seed)
How they got here: The Pitbulls were the lucky survivors in the race for the final wildcard spot and 3rd place in the nasty NL East. They had to push thier players hard to do it though, and are now a bit fatigued for the playoffs.
Offensive MVP: Ernest McConnell
Pitching MVP: Junior Lee
What needs to go right: Playoff veterans Rico Estrada, McConnell, Lee, and Nick Weaver need to build on their past playoff successes and show the rest of the Pitbulls how to win in the postseason. Atlanta needs to survive the first two games against a powerful NY lineup with it's back end starters. Sean Hill needs to keep proving Lars the Greek wrong in the playoffs.
What can go wrong: Atlanta's pitching will get eaten alive by NY in the first two games of their series, really putting the team in a hole. Otherwise the Pitbulls are built for the playoffs.
Fun Fact: This is the franchises first ever playoff appearance under GM alogman1, and first playoff appearance since the inaugural season 1.
Lars' Prediction: LCS is a possibility. If they can weather their opening round series, Lars likes the matchup with Omaha, and thinks they could pull off the upset, and make a big run.

American League

Louisville Dogs (97-65, #1 seed)
How they got here: The Dogs were in a tight race with Florida until some clutch play led to a huge winning streak in the last week of the season, where the Dogs put Florida out of reach.
Offensive MVP: Ralph Woods
Pitching MVP: Shane Parrish
What needs to go right: For Louisville to advance, Woods will need to keep his rookie magic going, as he is the only consistent power threat in the Dogs lineup. The lineup is very balanced though, and doesn't have any real weak spots, so they should be ok in the postseason. Ugueth Posada and Benito Rodriguez will need to reliably get the game passed over to closer Shane Parrish, who has been having a dominant season.
What can go wrong: Woods will come back to Earth, Posada and Rodriguez will collapse in the playoffs, and Parrish will suddenly start blowing games. None of this is very likely however.
Fun Fact: This is the Louisville franchises first ever playoff appearance, first #1 seed, first winning season, and first AL South title.
Lars' Prediction: LCS is a possibility, perhaps the World Series. If Eric Holdridge can get a good game in here and there to support Posada and Rodriguez, the Dogs can go a long way, as they have a nicely balanced lineup and pitching staff.

Tacoma Jerry Gang (97-65, #2 seed)
How they got here: The Gang were in a pretty tough playoff race in the AL West until the last few weeks of the season, where they pulled away and established themselves as division champs.
Offensive MVP: Tony Arnold
Pitching MVP: Jerry Torrealba
What needs to go right: Someone other than Jerry Torrealba and Joaquin Rivera needs to emerge in the rotation, Pedro Nieves in the bullpen needs to continue his solid play, and the lineup needs to keep enjoying life on the road.
What can go wrong: A team with a better pitching staff could easily exploit the Tacoma ballpark, and the lineups depressed numbers could be more than just the result of the ballpark they play half their games in.
Fun Fact: After many years of repairing the wrongs that abandonment left upon this franchise, this is the highest win total the team has ever achieved in 13 seasons in Cobb World.
Lars' Prediction: 2nd round and out. The Gang have gotten much better in recent years, as their results show, but they still need a little more before they can take the next step of advancing deep in the playoffs. But don't be surprised if they prove Lars wrong and make a run, as they have the potential to do it.

Pawtucket G-Maniacs (96-66, #3 seed)
How they got here: The G-Maniacs travelled the same road they have for the past 11 seasons, winning the AL North with ease. Yet another Cy Young calibur season from Dean Hernandez didn't hurt either.
Offensive MVP: Joseph Funaki
Pitching MVP: Dean Hernandez
What needs to go right: Hernandez needs to start as many games as possible, and Funaki, Rick Clinton, Brace Davey, and Walter Stewart need to keep belting out the HR's. Kory Burrell has also been fantastic for the G's, and if he can keep that up in the playoffs Pawtucket will be in good shape, for with Hernandez you really only need two and a half starters.
What can go wrong: Outside of Clinton, the Maniacs lineup doesn't get on base much, and relies on the HR quite a bit. If any of their top 3 sluggers go dormant in the playoffs, they might have trouble putting runs on the board. Also, as the Pawtucket rotation is so dependent on Hernandez, if he is sub-par they will be in trouble
Fun Fact: Hernandez and Burrell started over 73 games this year for Pawtucket, logging over 450 innings between the two of them. No other pitcher in their rotation was even close to that amount of work.
Lars' Prediction: 2nd round and out, possibly an LCS berth if lucky. In order for Pawtucket to advance, Hernandez needs to be good in every start. Lars doesn't see that happening in the playoffs, and one loss in a short series could be the decider.

Cleveland Steamers (96-66, #4 seed)
How they got here: The Steamers slowly gained ground over the season and eventually put the rest of the AL East out of reach. Thier playoff chances took a hit though when ace pitcher Gary Ferguson went down with a season ending injury. But as defending World Champions, they know how to get it done and showed it with a tough regular season that had them in contention for the #1 seed.
Offensive MVP: Lyle Crudale
Pitching MVP: Ruben Gonzalez
What needs to go right: Ruben Montero, Bill Palmer, and Trevor Seelbach need to pitch as many innings as possible, as they have proven time and again they are money in the playoffs. Thier offense needs to step it up a notch, as outside of Crudale they haven't been playing to their full potential.
What can go wrong: The talented pitching trio of Montero, Palmer, and Seelbach becomes fatigued and the rest of the staff has to step up. With no established closer, the bullpen is a mystery, and losing Ferguson really puts the pressure on the other two top starters to be near perfect every game.
Fun Fact: Ruben Gonzalez is 12-4 in 2o postseason starts, with an ERA of 3.18, and WHIP of 1.17. Not too shabby.
Lars' Prediction: LCS bound. Lars thinks that Cleveland always overperforms in the playoffs, and this year will probably be no exception. But a lack of pitching depth at the highest level will hurt them against the best teams in the AL, and unless the lineup really turns it up there probably won't be enough run support to get them all the way this season.

Florida Almendares (89-73, #5 seed)
How they got here: Florida was breathing down Louisvilles neck for most of the season until the Dogs went on a tear at the end of the year. As a result, Florida got in as a wildcard berth.
Offensive MVP: Darryl Young
Pitching MVP: Eric Collins
What needs to go right: Eric Collins needs help from the other Eric Collins, and someone from the rest of a Florida pitching staff that underperformed for most of the year to step up. Young will need to keep hitting and getting good help from Hades Booker and a surprising Lloyd Ross.
What can go wrong: Eric Collins (of the mustache) could get hurt, leaving the staff without a true ace. The rest of the Florida pitchers could pitch like they did in the regular season, which wasn't all that great. A lineup that didn't produce much power could suffer if any of their four big producers slumps or gets hurt.
Fun Fact: Eric Collins and Eric Collins were the two winningest pitchers for Florida, marking the first time two players with the same name led a team in wins.
Lars' Prediction: Wildcard and out. Lars sees a team that is great at times, but flawed at others. The pitching should be better than it has performed this season, and if that trend continues in the playoffs it will be a quick exit for Florida. As good as Eric Collins x2 are, they can't carry the team by themselves.

Washington D.C. Momentum (87-75, #6 seed)
How they got here: D.C. was the last team standing in the AL Wildcard race as they outlasted Vancouver and beat out Anaheim on a tie breaker.
Offensive MVP: Shawon Lee
Pitching MVP: Alfonso Vega
What needs to go right: For Washington to advance, they need their pitching to perform much better than they did during the regular season, where they were competent, but not great. Lee and Ira Riggs need support from someone else in the lineup on a consistent basis, as there are no other real threats to end a game with one at bat.
What can go wrong: The lineup will fade against top quality pitching, and the Momentum's own starters will have their regular season stats during the playoffs, and get lit up by the top lineups in the AL.
Fun Fact: The Washington franchise has made the playoffs in 12/13 seasons, tied for the most playoff appearances in the history of the league with Pawtucket.
Lars' Prediction: Wildcard and out. The Momentum were lucky to make the playoffs, as the race was very tight and hard fought between several very good teams. But that they made the postseason shouldn't be a surprise as manager furniss13 has proven time and again he is capable of getting the most out of his teams. But this year Lars thinks the talent level of the top four teams in the AL will be just too much for them to overcome, and a wildcard out looks likely.

Lar's World Series Prediction:
Syracuse over Louisville in 6

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

MVP - By the Numbers

Pythagoras Masters - Special to Cobb Times Herald

With the MVP debates raging in the Cobb World forums, The Times Herald asked noted mathematician Pythagoras Masters to break down the numbers to determine who should be taking home the hardware at the end of the season. Below is his formula for determining the Gross Production Average (GPA) of all of the top contenders for the awards, plus many other players who you might recognize. Included after all of the mathematical jargon is the GPA list, where you can see if your favorite makes the grade.

Adjusted OPS (OPS+)

OPS+, Adjusted OPS, is a closely related statistic. OPS+ is OPS adjusted for the park and the league in which the player played, but not for fielding position. An OPS+ of 100 is defined to be the league average. An OPS+ of 150 or more is excellent and 125 very good, while an OPS+ of 75 or below is poor.

The basic formula for OPS+ is

where *lgOBP is the park adjusted (Average) OBP of the league and *lgSLG is the park adjusted (Average) SLG of the league.

A common misconception is that OPS+ closely matches the ratio of a player's OPS to that of the league. In fact, due to the additive nature of the two components in OPS+, a player with an OBP and SLG both 50% better than league average in those metrics will have an OPS+ of 200 (twice the league average OPS+) while still having an OPS that is only 50% better than the average OPS of the league.

Gross Production Average

Gross Production Average or GPA is a baseball statistic created in 2003 by Aaron Gleeman as a refinement of On-Base Plus Slugging (OPS).[1] GPA attempts to solve two frequently cited problems with OPS. First, OPS gives equal weight to its two components, On Base Percentage (OBP) and Slugging Percentage (SLG). In fact, OBP contributes significantly more to scoring runs than SLG does. Sabermetricians have calculated that OBP is about 80% more valuable than SLG. A second problem with OPS is that it generates numbers on a scale unfamiliar to most baseball fans. For all the problems with traditional stats like batting average (AVG), baseball fans immediately know that a player batting .365 is significantly better than average, while a player batting .167 is significantly below average. But many fans don't immediately know how good a player with a 1.013 OPS is.

The basic formula for GPA is:

Unlike OPS, this formula both gives proper relative weight to its two component statistics and generates a number that falls on a scale similar to the familiar batting average scale.

Pedro Franco 0.363 0.480 0.635 1.115 184 0.375
Norm Gibson 0.339 0.409 0.712 1.122 181 0.362
Chipper Harper 0.349 0.418 0.680 1.098 176 0.358
Quilvio Suarez 0.326 0.435 0.616 1.052 167 0.350
Paul Jung 0.313 0.417 0.632 1.049 165 0.346
Rodney Toombs 0.347 0.417 0.612 1.029 160 0.341
Charles Reese 0.310 0.413 0.618 1.031 161 0.340
Josh Price 0.331 0.435 0.557 0.992 153 0.335
Jamie Beimel 0.328 0.430 0.549 0.980 150 0.331
Louie Tarraga 0.324 0.388 0.616 1.004 153 0.329
Jimmie Julio 0.356 0.430 0.539 0.969 148 0.328
Kory Arnold 0.309 0.380 0.615 0.995 150 0.325
Guillermo Segui 0.333 0.407 0.564 0.971 147 0.324
Benji Ordonez 0.314 0.426 0.521 0.947 143 0.322
Joseph Pan 0.305 0.360 0.624 0.984 146 0.318
Jeremy Hernandez 0.295 0.379 0.588 0.967 144 0.318
Ernest McConnell 0.313 0.378 0.587 0.966 143 0.317
Joseph Funaki 0.282 0.331 0.670 1.001 148 0.316
Walter Stewart 0.309 0.373 0.594 0.967 143 0.316
Milt Serafini 0.301 0.415 0.518 0.933 139 0.316
Craig Lake 0.322 0.417 0.503 0.920 136 0.313
Kenny Blair 0.289 0.362 0.601 0.963 142 0.313
Shawon Lee 0.292 0.381 0.565 0.946 139 0.313
Lyle Crudale 0.308 0.398 0.533 0.932 137 0.312
Domingo Pelaez 0.294 0.357 0.605 0.962 141 0.312
Sam Lockwood 0.293 0.401 0.525 0.926 136 0.312
Hades Booker 0.309 0.381 0.560 0.941 138 0.311
Gregg Young 0.305 0.387 0.542 0.929 136 0.310
Lloyd Ross 0.340 0.440 0.442 0.882 129 0.309
Jim Henley 0.333 0.388 0.534 0.921 134 0.308
Ralph Woods 0.303 0.382 0.542 0.925 134 0.307
Lawrence Shave 0.295 0.362 0.576 0.938 136 0.307
Emmanuel Castillo 0.303 0.394 0.518 0.912 132 0.307
Michael Ong 0.319 0.370 0.561 0.931 135 0.307
Jesus Campos 0.279 0.359 0.568 0.927 133 0.304
Jose Barrios 0.288 0.384 0.519 0.903 130 0.303
Javier Rios 0.291 0.377 0.531 0.908 130 0.302
Roger Sanders 0.304 0.366 0.549 0.914 131 0.302
Kip Zeile 0.290 0.359 0.559 0.919 131 0.301
Ruben Ortega 0.273 0.345 0.580 0.924 132 0.300
Jose Ordaz 0.298 0.397 0.481 0.878 125 0.299
Angel Vazquez 0.290 0.381 0.503 0.883 125 0.297
Nick Weaver 0.272 0.341 0.574 0.915 130 0.297
Bosco Simon 0.280 0.382 0.499 0.881 125 0.297
Darryl Young 0.261 0.374 0.511 0.886 125 0.296
Jim Green 0.321 0.387 0.486 0.872 123 0.296
Vernon Jones 0.294 0.383 0.493 0.876 124 0.296
Tony Arnold 0.279 0.387 0.479 0.866 122 0.294
Garret Wells 0.293 0.381 0.490 0.870 122 0.294
Guillermo Sanchez 0.247 0.349 0.547 0.896 126 0.294
Johnny Rowe 0.292 0.355 0.535 0.890 125 0.294
R.J. Cubillan 0.279 0.361 0.521 0.882 123 0.293
Derrick Brumbaugh 0.306 0.373 0.499 0.872 122 0.293
Geronimo Liriano 0.309 0.370 0.504 0.874 122 0.293
Spud Upshaw 0.302 0.380 0.486 0.866 121 0.293
Darrell Kendall 0.283 0.359 0.524 0.883 123 0.292
Corey Green 0.281 0.341 0.554 0.895 125 0.292
Anthony Tabaka 0.271 0.359 0.521 0.880 123 0.292
Enrique Guardado 0.287 0.370 0.501 0.871 122 0.292
Jung Lee 0.311 0.374 0.492 0.867 121 0.291
Vic Flores 0.272 0.351 0.532 0.883 123 0.291
Javier Alvarez 0.294 0.388 0.462 0.851 118 0.290
Pedro Chavez 0.294 0.345 0.536 0.881 122 0.289
Sal Fox 0.304 0.377 0.477 0.853 118 0.289
Omar Rosado 0.292 0.372 0.484 0.856 118 0.288
Ben Harris 0.275 0.379 0.470 0.849 117 0.288
Jesus Henriquez 0.297 0.353 0.514 0.868 120 0.287
Frank Hutchinson 0.269 0.351 0.517 0.868 120 0.287
Ira Riggs 0.286 0.350 0.518 0.868 120 0.287
Benny Pineda 0.323 0.383 0.458 0.841 116 0.287
Wayne Wilson 0.273 0.333 0.542 0.875 120 0.285
Vladimir Fernandez 0.301 0.360 0.491 0.850 116 0.285
Ron Leon 0.285 0.351 0.507 0.858 117 0.285
Carlton Nelson 0.286 0.347 0.512 0.860 117 0.284
Abraham Traynor 0.269 0.389 0.436 0.824 112 0.284
Carl Saturria 0.313 0.365 0.479 0.845 115 0.284
Ignacio Lopez 0.298 0.358 0.489 0.846 115 0.283
Charley Porter 0.296 0.350 0.502 0.852 116 0.283
Harry Alfonseca 0.291 0.348 0.505 0.853 116 0.283
Rico Estrada 0.287 0.343 0.511 0.855 116 0.282
Brandon Miller 0.283 0.359 0.482 0.842 114 0.282
Victor Mercado 0.249 0.374 0.454 0.827 112 0.282
Brett O'Keefe 0.311 0.348 0.500 0.848 115 0.282
Tom Pettitte 0.302 0.377 0.446 0.824 111 0.281
Brook Colin 0.257 0.334 0.521 0.855 116 0.281
Marino Sierra 0.291 0.366 0.463 0.829 112 0.280
Stewart DiSarcina 0.312 0.377 0.443 0.821 111 0.280
Tony Martinez 0.290 0.412 0.380 0.792 107 0.280
Ramon Sasaki 0.307 0.365 0.464 0.829 112 0.280
Yamid Mairena 0.295 0.356 0.479 0.836 113 0.280
Sarma O'Connor 0.268 0.339 0.506 0.845 114 0.279
Peter Mullin 0.287 0.380 0.432 0.812 109 0.279
Omar DaSilva 0.249 0.349 0.487 0.836 112 0.279
Bill Norton 0.284 0.345 0.494 0.839 113 0.279
Benji Molina 0.277 0.367 0.454 0.821 110 0.279
Mike Wilson 0.268 0.347 0.489 0.835 112 0.278
Jose Cervantes 0.252 0.318 0.541 0.859 115 0.278
Luis Nunez 0.286 0.348 0.486 0.834 112 0.278
Esteban Mieses 0.254 0.338 0.503 0.840 113 0.278
Armando Chavez 0.293 0.351 0.479 0.830 111 0.278
Vinny Jang 0.264 0.338 0.501 0.840 112 0.277
Richard Nakajima 0.281 0.337 0.502 0.839 112 0.277
Ajax Worley 0.262 0.333 0.509 0.841 113 0.277
Raymond Adams 0.261 0.343 0.491 0.834 111 0.277
Justin Snopek 0.274 0.341 0.493 0.834 111 0.277
Juan Sierra 0.286 0.361 0.457 0.818 109 0.277
Pedro Rivera 0.270 0.363 0.451 0.813 108 0.276
Francis Kent 0.271 0.340 0.492 0.832 111 0.276
Kelvim Harris 0.274 0.338 0.495 0.833 111 0.276
Dick Wolf 0.288 0.363 0.450 0.813 108 0.276
Wayne Burns 0.292 0.341 0.489 0.831 110 0.276
Al Rosario 0.307 0.353 0.468 0.821 109 0.276
Clay Henry 0.294 0.359 0.453 0.812 107 0.275
Trenidad Pelaez 0.281 0.346 0.474 0.821 108 0.274
Hawk Gutierrez 0.288 0.342 0.481 0.823 109 0.274
Josh Davis 0.293 0.348 0.469 0.817 108 0.274
Harry Rios 0.290 0.356 0.453 0.809 107 0.273
James Cole 0.279 0.362 0.436 0.798 105 0.272
Al Restovich 0.284 0.342 0.471 0.813 107 0.272
Frank Abbey 0.253 0.307 0.533 0.840 110 0.271
John McGowan 0.278 0.333 0.486 0.819 107 0.271
Mitchell Marshall 0.274 0.357 0.442 0.800 104 0.271
Alex Presley 0.272 0.328 0.494 0.821 108 0.271
Brad Mann 0.248 0.321 0.506 0.826 108 0.271
Goose Benes 0.309 0.363 0.430 0.792 104 0.271
Victor Johnson 0.270 0.330 0.487 0.817 107 0.270
Ryan Saberhagen 0.265 0.325 0.493 0.817 107 0.270
Ken Puffer 0.287 0.346 0.455 0.801 104 0.269
Roosevelt Ingram 0.261 0.341 0.462 0.802 104 0.269
Phil Maddux 0.300 0.351 0.444 0.795 103 0.269
Luke Henley 0.286 0.353 0.434 0.787 101 0.267
Omar Lewis 0.304 0.346 0.446 0.792 102 0.267
Patrick Stanton 0.270 0.343 0.451 0.794 102 0.267
Wascar Lopez 0.288 0.336 0.464 0.800 103 0.267
Wilfredo Henriquez 0.280 0.351 0.436 0.786 101 0.267
Tanner Durham 0.261 0.340 0.455 0.795 102 0.267
J.P. Wilfredo 0.278 0.351 0.432 0.783 100 0.266
Felix Masato 0.260 0.340 0.450 0.790 101 0.266
Apollo Houston 0.299 0.369 0.397 0.766 98 0.265
Steven Grilli 0.276 0.326 0.473 0.798 102 0.265
Patrick Lamb 0.258 0.308 0.503 0.811 104 0.264
Miguel Matos 0.309 0.372 0.386 0.759 96 0.264
Thomas Hill 0.270 0.342 0.439 0.781 99 0.264
Curt Fox 0.283 0.339 0.444 0.783 100 0.264
Tony Cruz 0.286 0.351 0.421 0.772 98 0.263
Ira Black 0.284 0.369 0.389 0.757 96 0.263
Jose Gandarillas 0.271 0.356 0.409 0.765 97 0.262
Dorian Woolf 0.246 0.322 0.468 0.791 100 0.262
Mark Hocking 0.272 0.333 0.448 0.781 99 0.262
Sammy Bennett 0.235 0.304 0.498 0.802 102 0.261
Todd Hemphill 0.304 0.354 0.406 0.760 95 0.261
Brace Davey 0.220 0.313 0.479 0.791 100 0.261
Charley Morton 0.266 0.366 0.380 0.747 93 0.260
Tito Sisco 0.280 0.352 0.400 0.752 94 0.258
Carl Alexander 0.270 0.350 0.399 0.749 93 0.257
Rob Leonard 0.285 0.354 0.391 0.745 92 0.257
Luis Espinoza 0.277 0.351 0.396 0.747 92 0.257
Trent Billingsley 0.265 0.363 0.374 0.737 91 0.257
Lewis Allen 0.268 0.325 0.441 0.766 95 0.257
Alex Liriano 0.257 0.328 0.435 0.763 94 0.256
Darrin Barkley 0.284 0.357 0.382 0.739 91 0.256
Bo Rhodes 0.261 0.324 0.440 0.765 94 0.256
Frank Hartgraves 0.267 0.337 0.415 0.752 93 0.255
Vladimir Espinosa 0.266 0.337 0.415 0.751 93 0.255
Larry Gant 0.249 0.326 0.431 0.757 93 0.254
Louie Lee 0.269 0.346 0.394 0.740 90 0.254
Raul Palacios 0.290 0.346 0.394 0.740 90 0.254
Darryl Bates 0.249 0.333 0.416 0.750 92 0.254
Erubiel Bonilla 0.269 0.324 0.432 0.756 93 0.254
Alex Brantley 0.230 0.296 0.480 0.776 95 0.253
Ken Daniels 0.268 0.336 0.402 0.738 89 0.252
Buck Fuller 0.249 0.310 0.448 0.757 92 0.252
Harpo Hurst 0.274 0.333 0.399 0.732 88 0.250
Steven Clayton 0.225 0.304 0.447 0.750 90 0.249
Luis Mercado 0.264 0.340 0.380 0.720 85 0.248
Santiago Matos 0.247 0.291 0.468 0.759 91 0.248
John Helms 0.292 0.314 0.428 0.741 88 0.248
Arnold Fitzgerald 0.235 0.333 0.389 0.723 85 0.247
David Kwon 0.262 0.320 0.410 0.730 86 0.247
Alexander Erickson 0.254 0.306 0.432 0.738 87 0.246
Alex Guzman 0.293 0.357 0.340 0.698 81 0.246
Gregg Durbin 0.261 0.316 0.413 0.729 86 0.245
Raymond Sanford 0.256 0.309 0.422 0.731 86 0.245
Greg Tyson 0.231 0.305 0.424 0.730 85 0.243
Alfredo Cruz 0.253 0.315 0.402 0.717 83 0.242
Dickie Huff 0.295 0.350 0.338 0.688 79 0.242
James Lowry 0.228 0.332 0.367 0.698 80 0.241
Norm Ripken 0.274 0.323 0.379 0.702 80 0.240
Dude Barry 0.261 0.326 0.373 0.699 80 0.240
Joel Valentin 0.255 0.341 0.346 0.688 78 0.240
Tomas Diaz 0.249 0.306 0.401 0.706 80 0.238
Marc Reagan 0.266 0.326 0.363 0.690 78 0.237
William Chang 0.251 0.322 0.367 0.689 77 0.236
Larry Sabel 0.238 0.307 0.389 0.696 78 0.235
Ted O'Donnell 0.271 0.338 0.333 0.671 74 0.235
Tomas Lee 0.252 0.308 0.386 0.693 77 0.235
Danny Browning 0.272 0.328 0.350 0.678 75 0.235
Napoleon Scott 0.265 0.327 0.344 0.671 74 0.233
Rico Cruz 0.248 0.303 0.385 0.689 76 0.233
Theodore Starr 0.268 0.296 0.392 0.688 75 0.231
Chipper Woods 0.254 0.320 0.346 0.666 72 0.231
John Simpson 0.260 0.321 0.333 0.654 69 0.228
Dennis Ashby 0.265 0.283 0.400 0.682 73 0.227
Kiko Wall 0.242 0.302 0.361 0.662 70 0.226
Emmanuel Contreras 0.229 0.282 0.389 0.672 71 0.224
Tim Smith 0.229 0.288 0.374 0.662 69 0.223
Alan Peterson 0.232 0.298 0.352 0.650 67 0.222
Willie Kotsay 0.249 0.303 0.340 0.643 66 0.221
Erv Castillo 0.234 0.295 0.351 0.646 66 0.221
Donte Shelby 0.228 0.297 0.343 0.640 65 0.219
Ismael Delgado 0.211 0.301 0.334 0.636 64 0.219
Andres Liriano 0.239 0.323 0.290 0.613 60 0.218
Paul Roth 0.264 0.306 0.300 0.606 57 0.213
Gerald Murata 0.220 0.275 0.349 0.623 59 0.211
Albert Burnett 0.248 0.331 0.234 0.400 50 0.207
Fernando Belliard 0.233 0.275 0.324 0.598 54 0.205
D'Angelo Romero 0.245 0.292 0.288 0.579 51 0.203