Tag Archive | "Cy Young Award"

Triple Play: Clayton Kershaw, Edinson Volquez, Ichiro

In this edition of the Triple Play, we look at the best starting pitcher in baseball, an amazing career achievement that unexpectedly is drawing some controversy, and more (including our weekly Wainwright Walk Watch). Off we go:

IchiroSuzuki

Who’s Hot?

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

Just as people are running out of superlatives for Miguel Cabrera’s hitting; so too are we struggling to find the words to accurately describe just how sensational Kershaw has been for the Dodgers this season. You’ve seen the ERA (1.72) that is far and away the best in baseball, but Kershaw also leads the National League in the following categories:

  • Games started (27)
  • Shutouts (2, tied with Adam Wainwright)
  • WHIP (0.857)
  • Hits per nine innings (5.8)
  • ERA+ (207)

He has surrendered just nine home runs in 198 1/3 innings pitched and is on pace for 240 strikeouts. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is 188/32. The last time he allowed more than two runs in a start was July 10 against the Rockies. His ERA hasn’t been above two since June 26. The only thing separating him from a second 20-win season in three years is the Dodgers’ slow start to the season. Barring an incomprehensible late-season collapse, he looks like a shoo-in to win the NL Cy Young Award. The only questions left are whether the voting will be unanimous, and if he will win the MVP award as well.

Who’s Not?

Edinson Volquez, San Diego Padres

Edinson Volquez has been part of two major trades in his career. The first saw him dealt from the Rangers to the Reds in the Josh Hamilton deal; he was traded from the Reds to the Padres as part of the package for Mat Latos. He teased everyone with an impressive rookie year in 2008, going 17-6, with a 3.21 ERA and 206 strikeouts. But the warning signs were there even then: he walked 93 batters, hit 14 more (which led the NL), and threw 10 wild pitches. His WHIP was a career-best 1.327 and his strikeout-to-walk ratio was just 2.22-to-1.

After being plagued by injuries for several years, Volquez made 32 starts with San Diego in 2012. He was credited with 11 wins, but led the league with a staggering 105 walks. If you owned him in your fantasy league, you either dropped him or watched your ERA/WHIP categories sink lower and lower thanks to his lack of control.

The Padres finally ran out of patience with Volquez on Saturday, designating him for assignment one day after failing a ghastly start that saw him fail to make it out of the first inning in a no-decision versus the anemic Cubs. This season, he went 9-10 with a 6.01 ERA, 1.67 WHIP and 95 earned runs allowed (worst in the NL). He averaged less than 5 1/3 innings per start this season. There are a few teams out there desperate for pitching, but they would be wise to look elsewhere.

Playing the Name Game

Player A: .266/.358/.484, 24 HR, 64 RBI, 80 runs, 7 SB, 128 OPS+

Player B: .182/.263/.292, 8 HR, 21 RBI, 27 runs, 11 SB, 52 OPS+

Player C: .253/.347/.423, 13 HR, 37 RBI, 60 runs, 2 SB, 109 OPS+

Player A started the 2013 like a house afire, leading his league in home runs. Then he fell into a two and a half-month slump that had fantasy owners wondering if they should sell low on him just to rid themselves of the headache. Since the All-Star break, though, he has been much better; not quite the beast he was in April, but still an elite outfielder. In a recent game, he was tossed out of a game while running out a ground ball to first base.

Player B has had a season to forget, despite being one of the big free-agent signings of this past offseason. Never one to hit for a high average, he had always been able to provide power and great speed for fantasy owners. This season, he hasn’t provided much of either. His struggles have resulted in more frequent days off, even when healthy. The extra rest hasn’t helped, however, as he has 1-for-34 in his past 13 games.

Player C is the player who was recently injured, and may miss the rest of the regular season. The timing couldn’t be worse, either, as he was punishing the ball to the tune of a .348/.419/.621 slash line this month. In his place is a player who has never produced an OPS+ greater than 75 nor had more than 360 at-bats for the season.

Player A is Justin Upton, Player B is B.J. Upton, and Player C is Jason Heyward. Their up-and-down seasons (or in BJ’s case, just down) illustrate just how good Freddie Freeman, Chris Johnson, and Brian McCann have been in anchoring the Braves lineup this season. The bullpen has been stellar as well, despite the injuries to stalwarts Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters. The Braves’ biggest benefactor, though, has been the putrid NL East division. If they were in any other division, they would be in a dogfight for first place. Instead, though, the Braves can worry about getting their players healthy and ready for October baseball.

Random Thoughts

  • Wainwright Walk Watch: Once Adam Wainwright started the 2013 season by pitching 37 innings before allowing his first walk of the season, we started a weekly tracker to keep track of how few free passes the Cardinals’ ace hands out this season. He has led the majors in strikeout-to-walk ratio all season, and it hasn’t been close. After handcuffing the Cubs last week, Wainwright was even better last Friday night versus the Braves: he spun a six-hit, complete-game victory in which he walked no one and fanned nine. The start was Wainwright’s ninth this season in which he hasn’t issued a free pass (by comparison, Kershaw has six starts where he didn’t allow a walk). It also was his fifth complete game this season, most in the majors (Kershaw has three). Wainwright’s strikeout-to-walk ratio is back up to 7.24-to-1, still far and away the best in the majors. He is on a big-time roll at the perfect time, as the Cardinals go into a crucial stretch where their next 13 games are against the Reds and Pirates.
  • Jose Fernandez has allowed a total of eight runs in his seven starts since the All-Star break, with an ERA of 1.31. Opponents are slugging .225 against him in those games, and he has a 62-to-11 strikeout/walk ratio. He turned 21 on July 31. Mercy.
  • Meanwhile, the clock has struck midnight for Royals pitcher Bruce Chen. From July 12-August 13, he turned in six consecutive quality starts as the Royals elevated themselves into wild-card contention. His past two starts, however, have been brutal. After allowing just four runs total in those previous six starts, he has allowed 13 runs in just nine innings. Detroit and Washington both knocked him around like a piñata. He may get another opportunity or two, but Kansas City can’t afford any more clunkers if they want to hang in the wild card race.
  • If Miguel Cabrera is still feeling the effects of his abdominal injury, he’s doing a whale of a job covering it up. The past two weeks, he’s bashed seven home runs, with 19 RBI and .689 slugging percentage. For the season, his batting line is a ridiculous .360/.450/.685 (all of which lead the AL). He is on pace for 51 homers, 159 RBI, and 115 runs scored. If Chris Davis slows down at all, Cabrera has a terrific chance to become the major leagues’ first back-to-back Triple Crown winner.
  • The aforementioned Davis is showing little signs of slowing down, however. He has 46 homers on the season (five more than Cabrera), to go with 117 RBI. After seeing his strikeout totals soar in June and July, Davis is back to being more selective at the plate and he is reaping the benefits, as shown by his 1.119 OPS this month.
  • Then there’s the other Davis – Khris Davis, that is. The Brewers’ rookie outfielder is having himself a fine August as well. He entered August with a .231/.310/.538 slash line; now it looks like this: .338/.416/.727. It’s a small sample size, to be sure, but the Brewers will take any bright spot they can get right now.
  • Boston’s win over the Dodgers yesterday marked the first time that a team has beaten the Dodgers in a series since June 14-16, when Pittsburgh won two of three from L.A.
  • Jordan Danks hit a home run Sunday in a game that his brother John started. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that was the first time a player hit a home run in support of his brother since Billy and Bobby Shantz achieved the feat for the Kansas City A’s in 1955.
  • Sadly, that is probably the highlight of the White Sox’s season.
  • Sunday’s Diamondbacks-Phillies day game started just 11 ½ hours after Saturday’s 18-inning marathon ended. Casper Wells was unavailable to pitch.
  • Welcome back, Roy Halladay.
  • If you haven’t read the story about the eight-year-old Indians fan with cerebral palsy who asked Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis to hit home runs for him Sunday (they both did, by the way), do yourself a favor and read it. Here’s to you, Niko Lanzarotta.
  • We wrap up this week with our final Ichiro Hit Tracker. On Wednesday, Aug. 21, Ichiro collected career hit #4,000, a single off Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey. As more and more national writers started taking note of this milestone (AFTER I started noting it in the Triple Play), there was a major backlash by many fans and media members. While the 1,872 hits from his career in Japan obviously don’t count towards the major-league numbers, it is still a noteworthy achievement. Some writers grumbled that Japanese baseball was of no better quality than the minor leagues, which is an apples-to-oranges argument. The point that Ichiro is one of the greatest pure hitters ever to play the game still holds. As such, here are a few more numbers that illustrate just that:
    • He has compiled ten 200-hit seasons. The only other player to do that? Pete Rose.
    • Ichiro has done that in 13 years. It took Rose 17 years to do that.
    • Ichiro has five seasons with more than 220 hits. Rogers Hornsby has four. Rose has one.
    • With 2,533 hits, Ichiro is the all-time leader in Mariners history (more than Edgar Martinez or Ken Griffey Jr.)
    • Ichiro has hit successfully off 756 pitchers in his major-league career.
    • Since 2001, the player with the second-most hits is Albert Pujols (2,347).

Let’s just appreciate the greatness we have had the privilege of watching for the past 13 seasons. There will be plenty of time to debate Ichiro’s place in history after he has retired.

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

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First Place Royals

It’s late June and the Royals are in first place.  No, they aren’t at the top of their division nor are they leading the wild card race.  They are, however leading teams in a way they haven’t in some time.  The Royals have very quietly acquired the best earned run average in the American League.  The season is long but this is still a huge accomplishment considering their performance on the mound in years past.

JamesShields3

Saying that Royals pitching has been bad would be charitable.  Saying that Royals pitching has been the worst would be closer to accurate.  For well over a decade, Kansas City has put up some of the worst pitching numbers in all of baseball.

Since 2000, the Royals have been one of the three worst teams in combined ERA nine times.  In that time, their best pitching performance was in 2007 when they ranked 7th in the American League.  To add a bit more perspective, in 2009, when Zack Greinke won the Cy Young award he posted an ERA of 2.16 for the season.  That same year the Royals had a collective ERA of 4.83 coming in at 12th as a team in the league.

That’s what makes the jump to number one, even at this early point in the season something worth mentioning.  Even as they sit five games out of first place, Royals pitching has given up fewer runs than the division leading Tigers, who sit at number two as a team in earned runs.  And as the Kansas City bats slowly awaken from their royal slumber (pun entirely intended), they find that they are able to win the close games that they were losing earlier in the year.  They are currently 12-6 in the month of June in part by holding opponents to an average of about two and a half runs a game.

But as mentioned before, in the 2009 season, team ERA can be somewhat deceiving.  Ervin Santana has been lights out thus far with the American League’s 3rd best ERA of 2.64.  James Shields is right behind him at 2.72, putting him at 6th best in the league and one one-hundredth of a point behind Seattle’s Felix Hernandez.  Even Jeremy Guthrie comes in below league average in ERA at 3.72, good enough to get him in the top twenty in American League pitching.  However, the combined efforts of these three cover up the chink in the armor at the back end of the Royals’ rotation.

Luis Mendoza is 2-4 with an ERA of 4.30.  He hasn’t been terrible, but he has been unpredictable.  Wade Davis has been worse averaging over five earned runs per start.  The stunning performance of Santana and Shields, who were acquired this offseason, have covered up what could be the biggest weakness for these Kansas City Royals.

Santana and Shields routinely pitch deep into games.  This has been a god send for the Royals bullpen, who have now pitched the fewest amount of innings in baseball (175.3).  With the bullpen rested and the bats coming alive it’s this first place Royals pitching rotation that could use some shoring up.  There do exist options, none that the Royals hope they have to use though.

Dan Duffy, who is coming off of Tommy John surgery, has been making minor league rehab starts since the end of May.  Duffy has been sharp in the past averaging over nine strikeouts an inning in 2012 but since coming off of surgery he’s been getting ruffed up in AAA.  Also pitching right now in AAA Omaha is Yordano Ventura, the Royals young ace in waiting.  “Ace” Ventura as he is already being called, has had mixed success in Omaha but dominated in double A ball.  Ventura owns a fastball that can touch 100 mph.  His K/9 rate over four starts is 8 and 11.5 in AAA and AA respectively.  Ventura has talent to be sure but the Royals probably don’t want to prematurely promote their young prospect and limit his training and experience (not to mention bring his arbitration date closer) simply because Wade Davis has had a few bad starts.

And of course there is always the trade option, but most people suspect an underwhelming trade deadline from the Royals this year considering the amount of players they surrendered before the season started.  And of course Davis and Mendoza may pick up the pace down the stretch.  Davis has yielded only four runs combined in his last three starts.

Still, having the best pitching in the American League is a great problem to have.  The Royals took a chance this off season to acquire pitching and they got what they wanted.  And now that the offense is starting to show up they are starting to look like the contender that fans had hoped for.

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Lance Lynn is good, but St. Louis Cardinals run support has made him All-Star-caliber

No big-league pitcher has won more games than St. Louis Cardinals right-handed starter Lance Lynn in the past year-and-a-half, but that doesn’t mean Lynn has been the best pitcher in that time period.

Lance Lynn

Far from it, actually.

Lynn won his 26th game since the beginning of the 2012 season with a one-run, five-hit performance through seven innings Monday against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Busch Stadium.

Yes, Lynn gave up just one run, but the Cardinals scored four runs in the first four innings, and seven in the first six, to give Lynn a comfortable margin by the time he faced the Diamondbacks hitters for a second and third time in the 7-1 victory.

And that’s been the theme of Lynn’s career.

Lynn was an All-Star in 2012 when he started the season with 10 wins in his first 13 starts. However, the Cardinals offense provided him four runs or more in all but one of those wins. That outlier game was a 1-0 win June 13 over the Chicago White Sox in Lynn’s most impressive start of the season: 7.1 innings, three hits and 12 strikeouts.

Otherwise, Lynn got to hide behind ample run support, even as he allowed three or more runs in seven of those first 13 starts.

With that said, Lynn is a good pitcher, no doubt. He posted a 2.42 earned-run average in those first 13 starts of 2012, but it ballooned to 3.41 by the All-Star break as he tired in the summer heat. Lynn finished 18-7 for the season with a 3.78 ERA, which ranked fourth among the seven regular starting pitchers the Cardinals used throughout the season.

Lynn was nearly a 20-game winner, but he also nearly gave up an average of four runs per game. Thankfully for him, the Cardinals scored an average of 6.06 runs in his starts, the most runs support any pitcher received in 2012. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t receive any Cy Young award consideration even though only five pitchers in Major League Baseball had more wins.

But he won games nonetheless, and he has carried that formula into 2013. Through 12 starts, the Cardinals have averaged 5.89 runs per game and have scored fewer than four runs just once.

Lynn has received the fifth-most run support of any starter in baseball so far this season, and his record reflects the help his offense has provided. He is 8-1, and that loss was the only time the Cardinals scored fewer than four runs, a 2-1 loss May 7 to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Perhaps Lynn’s spot in the rotation helps. The Cardinals have primarily slotted him in the third or fourth spot, which means he usually doesn’t pitch opposite of one of the opponent’s top pitchers. Therefore, the fourth-ranked Cardinals offense can feast on lesser pitchers while Lynn cruises through quality start after quality start. He has 25 of those in his 43 career starts.

Lynn’s 2.76 ERA this season is certainly good, and he deserves to be in the discussion as one of the best pitchers so far in 2013, but 20 pitchers have a lower ERA, and all but seven of those pitchers have fewer than seven wins. Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks is the only one to have more wins (nine) and a lower ERA (2.06).

So Lynn’s stats that will likely get him selected to his second All-Star team in as many seasons are deceiving, but that doesn’t matter to the Cardinals, which are 9-3 in his starts this season.

Lynn wins, and in the end, that’s all that matters.

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Adam Wainwright back in domination mode

This is the Adam Wainwright the St. Louis Cardinals think is worth $97.5 million for the next five years.

a-Wainwright

In his second season after Tommy John surgery to repair a torn elbow ligament, Wainwright has returned to the Cy Young award-caliber pitcher he was before the injury.

He simply dominated the Washington Nationals on Tuesday and now has a 4-1 record and a 1.93 earned-run average with 37 strikeouts against one walk in five starts. He’s established himself once again as the Cardinals’ ace, and that’s a huge relief for everybody involved.

Wainwright had put together a 64-34 record with a 2.99 earned-run average in four seasons as a starter before he suffered the elbow injury at the beginning of spring training in 2011. He also possessed a fastball that reached 96 mph and one of the most devastating curveballs in Major League Baseball.

But that was gone for much of 2012. Wainwright had a winning record, 14-13, but he also had the highest ERA of his career, 3.94, and rarely had the dominating games he did before the injury. His fastball wasn’t as fast, his curveball didn’t break as sharply and too many of his pitches were up in the strike zone, which allowed hitters to often drive balls they hit for extra base hits.

He did have a few standout games, including a four-hit, complete-game shutout May 22 against the San Diego Padres, but he also had several poor stretches such as back-to-back games against the Nationals and New York Mets in late August and early September when he gave up a combined 11 runs in just 7.2 innings.

Wainwright said he was sure his good stuff would come back, but he hadn’t proved it until that complete game against the Padres.

“It’s a huge sense of relief; it’s a huge sense of feeling blessed,” he said after the shutout against San Diego. “Mentally, tonight, I was so much better than I had been. I’ve worked very hard to get back to where I am.”

However, not every game went so well, and the Cardinals had an important decision to make as the 2013 season approached. Wainwright was about to enter the final year of his contract, and the Cardinals had to figure out if they were going to keep him beyond this season.

Overall, his career track showed he could be as good a pitcher as there is the game, but his performances after the injury caused plenty of concern.

Yes, most pitchers come back from Tommy John surgery and pitch as well as they did beforehand, but successful surgery is never a guarantee, and Wainwright’s 2012 season offered no certainties that he would ever be the type of pitcher he was beforehand.

But the Cardinals signed him to the long-term deal March 28, just days before the season started. Now, it is a fairly big risk to give a five-year contract to a 31-year-old pitcher who had major elbow surgery, but so far Wainwright has made the Cardinals’ management look pretty smart.

And the best could be yet to come. Wainwright sliced through the Nationals on Tuesday for 8.1 shutout innings with nine strikeouts and his first walk of the season after 34.2 innings, which was fewer than six innings from the franchise record.

He threw a fastball at 94 mph, his curveball buckled Nationals hitters’ knees throughout the night and his control was as precise as ever.

Wainwright is back to the form Cardinals officials hoped they would see when they signed him to the contract extension, and now they can sit back and watch their investment dominate opposing hitters as if its 2010 again.

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Wainwright Comments Sound Similar To Pujols

St. Louis Cardinals ace starting pitcher Adam Wainwright announced Tuesday that contract talks between himself and the Cardinals have stalled for the time being. It’s not time to panic that Wainwright won’t come back, but the result wasn’t pretty the last time contract talks between the Cardinals and a superstar fell apart in spring training.

AlbertPujolsAdamWainwright

That last time was in 2011 when Albert Pujols arrived at spring training in Jupiter, Fla., with one year left on his contract with the Cardinals.

“I have made it very clear that I do not want any of this to be a distraction during the season, and it was for that reason, that we came up with a deadline,” Pujols said Feb. 16, 2011, the day contract talks officially ended until after the season.

Wainwright has not set that type of deadline, but time is becoming precious for him and the Cardinals to hammer out a new contract before the season starts.

Wainwright’s biggest concern is the same reason Pujols wanted to set a deadline in his negotiations: He doesn’t want the contract situation to become a distraction.

“There does need to be some urgency on both sides just to try to get this done if it’s going to happen before the season starts, just for peace of mind for everyone,” Wainwright said earlier in the week.

Unfortunately, the numbers aren’t adding up no matter how much both sides want to get a deal done. Sound familiar?

Pujols and the Cardinals both suggested they wanted to get a deal done quickly so Pujols would remain with the Cardinals for the remainder of his career, but it didn’t happen. Pujols is now set to enter the second year of his 10-year, $240-million deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

As was the case with Pujols two years ago, Wainwright’s value is something of a mystery right now. He’s a Cy Young Award-caliber pitcher who is unquestionably going to be the ace of the Cardinals’ pitching staff this season. But, he’s also a 31-year-old pitcher who has already missed an entire season with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery.

Pujols was considered the greatest player in the game heading into the 2011 season. He had just come off of a season when he hit .312 with 42 homeruns and 118 RBIs, but people still asked the same questions about Pujols as they are currently asking about Wainwright.

Pujols was 31 years old, and a long-term deal could create many problems for a team if he gets hurt or simply doesn’t produce nearly as much as he ages. That’s the great unknown that factors into all contract negotiations with star players.

Still, the Cardinals would do well to sign Wainwright before the season starts. They signed catcher Yadier Molina to a five-year, $75-million contract before the 2012 season, nobody said a word about contract negotiations for the rest of the season and Molina had the best season of his career.

Pujols and the Cardinals didn’t get a deal done a year earlier, and Pujols had the worst season of his career. That was the first time he hadn’t hit at least .300 or had at least 100 RBIs.

Wainwright’s value will also likely increase, possibly dramatically, if he has a stellar 2013 season. The price of pitching rises exponentially each offseason, and there is little doubt the asking price for good pitchers during next year’s free-agent period will again produce eye-popping contract numbers.

These are anxious times as the Cardinals and another star player battle through contract negotiations in February. And with each passing day, the situation only gets scarier with the possibility Wainwright might not be a Cardinal beyond 2013.

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Cooperstown Choices: David Wells

With the Hall Of Fame election announcement coming on January 9, 2013, it is time to review the ballot, go over the names, and decide who belongs in the Hall Of Fame.

There are twenty four men on the ballot for the first time this year and we will take a look at each one individually prior to official announcements. You can find all of the profiles in the I-70 Baseball Exclusives: Cooperstown Choices 2013 menu at the top of the page.

In this article, we take a look at David Wells

 

David Wells
The man known as “Boomer” would spend a remarkable 21 years with nine different major league teams.  During his long career, he would be selected to three All Star rosters and finish third in the Cy Young Award voting on two seperate occassions.

Year Tm W L ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO ERA+ SO/9
1987 TOR 4 3 3.99 18 2 0 0 29.1 37 14 13 12 32 115 9.8
1988 TOR 3 5 4.62 41 0 0 0 64.1 65 36 33 31 56 85 7.8
1989 TOR 7 4 2.40 54 0 0 0 86.1 66 25 23 28 78 153 8.1
1990 TOR 11 6 3.14 43 25 0 0 189.0 165 72 66 45 115 131 5.5
1991 TOR 15 10 3.72 40 28 2 0 198.1 188 88 82 49 106 114 4.8
1992 TOR 7 9 5.40 41 14 0 0 120.0 138 84 72 36 62 76 4.7
1993 DET 11 9 4.19 32 30 0 0 187.0 183 93 87 42 139 103 6.7
1994 DET 5 7 3.96 16 16 5 1 111.1 113 54 49 24 71 123 5.7
1995 TOT 16 8 3.24 29 29 6 0 203.0 194 88 73 53 133 141 5.9
1995 DET 10 3 3.04 18 18 3 0 130.1 120 54 44 37 83 159 5.7
1995 CIN 6 5 3.59 11 11 3 0 72.2 74 34 29 16 50 115 6.2
1996 BAL 11 14 5.14 34 34 3 0 224.1 247 132 128 51 130 97 5.2
1997 NYY 16 10 4.21 32 32 5 2 218.0 239 109 102 45 156 107 6.4
1998 NYY 18 4 3.49 30 30 8 5 214.1 195 86 83 29 163 127 6.8
1999 TOR 17 10 4.82 34 34 7 1 231.2 246 132 124 62 169 101 6.6
2000 TOR 20 8 4.11 35 35 9 1 229.2 266 115 105 31 166 123 6.5
2001 CHW 5 7 4.47 16 16 1 0 100.2 120 55 50 21 59 104 5.3
2002 NYY 19 7 3.75 31 31 2 1 206.1 210 100 86 45 137 118 6.0
2003 NYY 15 7 4.14 31 30 4 1 213.0 242 101 98 20 101 106 4.3
2004 SDP 12 8 3.73 31 31 0 0 195.2 203 85 81 20 101 104 4.6
2005 BOS 15 7 4.45 30 30 2 0 184.0 220 95 91 21 107 102 5.2
2006 TOT 3 5 4.42 13 13 0 0 75.1 97 41 37 12 38 102 4.5
2006 BOS 2 3 4.98 8 8 0 0 47.0 64 30 26 8 24 96 4.6
2006 SDP 1 2 3.49 5 5 0 0 28.1 33 11 11 4 14 117 4.4
2007 TOT 9 9 5.43 29 29 0 0 157.1 201 97 95 42 82 76 4.7
2007 SDP 5 8 5.54 22 22 0 0 118.2 156 74 73 33 63 72 4.8
2007 LAD 4 1 5.12 7 7 0 0 38.2 45 23 22 9 19 87 4.4
21 Yrs 239 157 4.13 660 489 54 12 3439.0 3635 1702 1578 719 2201 108 5.8
162 Game Avg. 14 9 4.13 39 29 3 1 204 215 101 93 43 130 108 5.8
W L ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO ERA+ SO/9
TOR (8 yrs) 84 55 4.06 306 138 18 2 1148.2 1171 566 518 294 784 110 6.1
NYY (4 yrs) 68 28 3.90 124 123 19 9 851.2 886 396 369 139 557 114 5.9
SDP (3 yrs) 18 18 4.33 58 58 0 0 342.2 392 170 165 57 178 91 4.7
DET (3 yrs) 26 19 3.78 66 64 8 1 428.2 416 201 180 103 293 122 6.2
BOS (2 yrs) 17 10 4.56 38 38 2 0 231.0 284 125 117 29 131 101 5.1
LAD (1 yr) 4 1 5.12 7 7 0 0 38.2 45 23 22 9 19 87 4.4
CIN (1 yr) 6 5 3.59 11 11 3 0 72.2 74 34 29 16 50 115 6.2
BAL (1 yr) 11 14 5.14 34 34 3 0 224.1 247 132 128 51 130 97 5.2
CHW (1 yr) 5 7 4.47 16 16 1 0 100.2 120 55 50 21 59 104 5.3
AL (19 yrs) 211 133 4.11 584 413 51 12 2985.0 3124 1475 1362 637 1954 110 5.9
NL (4 yrs) 28 24 4.28 76 76 3 0 454.0 511 227 216 82 247 94 4.9
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/12/2012.

Why He Should Get In
Boomer’s career numbers fall just short of the typical yardsticks we use for Cooperstown enshrinement, but that’s not to say he wasn’t a solid player.  While he only got to the coveted 20-win plateua once, he did find himself real close to it on multiple occassions.  He spent a good portion of his career pitching for losing ball clubs, which took an impact on his numbers.

Why He Should Not Get In
Losing clubs or not, Wells is not a Hall Of Famer.  His win total (239), strikeout total (2,201), strikeouts per nine innings (5.8) and earned run average (4.13) do not put him on par with his peers in Cooperstown.  Wells was a good, not great, pitcher.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Cooperstown Choices: Curt Schilling

With the Hall Of Fame election announcement coming on January 9, 2013, it is time to review the ballot, go over the names, and decide who belongs in the Hall Of Fame.

There are twenty four men on the ballot for the first time this year and we will take a look at each one individually prior to official announcements. You can find all of the profiles in the I-70 Baseball Exclusives: Cooperstown Choices 2013 menu at the top of the page.

In this article, we take a look at Curt Schilling

 

Curt Schilling
The epitome of the term “big game pitcher”, Curt Schilling was the pitcher that helped the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Boston Red Sox to World Championships.  His 20 year career was highlighted with six all star appearances and finished second in the Cy Young Award voting three times.  He also finished in the top 15 of the Most Valuable Player voting four times in his career.

Year Tm W L ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO ERA+ SO/9
1988 BAL 0 3 9.82 4 4 0 0 14.2 22 19 16 10 4 41 2.5
1989 BAL 0 1 6.23 5 1 0 0 8.2 10 6 6 3 6 63 6.2
1990 BAL 1 2 2.54 35 0 0 0 46.0 38 13 13 19 32 151 6.3
1991 HOU 3 5 3.81 56 0 0 0 75.2 79 35 32 39 71 92 8.4
1992 PHI 14 11 2.35 42 26 10 4 226.1 165 67 59 59 147 150 5.8
1993 PHI 16 7 4.02 34 34 7 2 235.1 234 114 105 57 186 99 7.1
1994 PHI 2 8 4.48 13 13 1 0 82.1 87 42 41 28 58 96 6.3
1995 PHI 7 5 3.57 17 17 1 0 116.0 96 52 46 26 114 118 8.8
1996 PHI 9 10 3.19 26 26 8 2 183.1 149 69 65 50 182 134 8.9
1997 PHI 17 11 2.97 35 35 7 2 254.1 208 96 84 58 319 143 11.3
1998 PHI 15 14 3.25 35 35 15 2 268.2 236 101 97 61 300 134 10.0
1999 PHI 15 6 3.54 24 24 8 1 180.1 159 74 71 44 152 136 7.6
2000 TOT 11 12 3.81 29 29 8 2 210.1 204 90 89 45 168 124 7.2
2000 PHI 6 6 3.91 16 16 4 1 112.2 110 49 49 32 96 120 7.7
2000 ARI 5 6 3.69 13 13 4 1 97.2 94 41 40 13 72 130 6.6
2001 ARI 22 6 2.98 35 35 6 1 256.2 237 86 85 39 293 157 10.3
2002 ARI 23 7 3.23 36 35 5 1 259.1 218 95 93 33 316 140 11.0
2003 ARI 8 9 2.95 24 24 3 2 168.0 144 58 55 32 194 159 10.4
2004 BOS 21 6 3.26 32 32 3 0 226.2 206 84 82 35 203 148 8.1
2005 BOS 8 8 5.69 32 11 0 0 93.1 121 59 59 22 87 80 8.4
2006 BOS 15 7 3.97 31 31 0 0 204.0 220 90 90 28 183 120 8.1
2007 BOS 9 8 3.87 24 24 1 1 151.0 165 68 65 23 101 123 6.0
20 Yrs 216 146 3.46 569 436 83 20 3261.0 2998 1318 1253 711 3116 127 8.6
162 Game Avg. 15 10 3.46 38 30 6 1 221 203 89 85 48 211 127 8.6
W L ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO ERA+ SO/9
PHI (9 yrs) 101 78 3.35 242 226 61 14 1659.1 1444 664 617 415 1554 126 8.4
ARI (4 yrs) 58 28 3.14 108 107 18 5 781.2 693 280 273 117 875 148 10.1
BOS (4 yrs) 53 29 3.95 119 98 4 1 675.0 712 301 296 108 574 120 7.7
BAL (3 yrs) 1 6 4.54 44 5 0 0 69.1 70 38 35 32 42 85 5.5
HOU (1 yr) 3 5 3.81 56 0 0 0 75.2 79 35 32 39 71 92 8.4
NL (13 yrs) 162 111 3.30 406 333 79 19 2516.2 2216 979 922 571 2500 131 8.9
AL (7 yrs) 54 35 4.00 163 103 4 1 744.1 782 339 331 140 616 117 7.4
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/12/2012.

Why He Should Get In
Schilling’s case is one that is defined by his performance in big games and the postseason.  While most of his regular season stats put him as a borderline hall of famer, his postseason numbers are seldom rivaled.  With a 11-2 record, a 2.23 earned run average, an average of over 7 innings per start, a WHIP below one and a strikeout per nine innings over eight, his postseason prowess will have many clamoring for his induction based on the postseason alone.

Why He Should Not Get In
Yes, he was a huge pitcher in the postseason and had monumental success on the biggest stage.  That being said, he does not have the hardware to back up his claim to Cooperstown.  Finishing second multiple times for the Cy Young Award simply makes him the second best pitcher during those seasons.  According to Baseball-Reference, he ranks as a slighly above the average hall of fame pitcher (according to the Jaffe WAR Score System).  However, advanced statistics have yet to play a large influence on hall of fame voters.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in Cooperstown Choices 2013, I-70 Baseball ExclusivesComments (1)

Cooperstown Choices: Jose Mesa

With the Hall Of Fame election announcement coming on January 9, 2013, it is time to review the ballot, go over the names, and decide who belongs in the Hall Of Fame.

There are twenty four men on the ballot for the first time this year and we will take a look at each one individually prior to official announcements. You can find all of the profiles in the I-70 Baseball Exclusives: Cooperstown Choices 2013 menu at the top of the page.

In this article, we take a look at Jose Mesa

 

Jose Mesa
Mesa’s 19 year major league career spanned eight teams, most notably the Cleveland Indians.  While in Cleveland he would be selected to two All Star rosters, finish second in the 1995 Cy Young Award voting and fourth in the 1995 Most Valuable Player voting.

Year Tm W L ERA G GS GF SV IP H R ER BB SO ERA+ SO/9
1987 BAL 1 3 6.03 6 5 0 0 31.1 38 23 21 15 17 73 4.9
1990 BAL 3 2 3.86 7 7 0 0 46.2 37 20 20 27 24 99 4.6
1991 BAL 6 11 5.97 23 23 0 0 123.2 151 86 82 62 64 67 4.7
1992 TOT 7 12 4.59 28 27 1 0 160.2 169 86 82 70 62 86 3.5
1992 BAL 3 8 5.19 13 12 1 0 67.2 77 41 39 27 22 77 2.9
1992 CLE 4 4 4.16 15 15 0 0 93.0 92 45 43 43 40 94 3.9
1993 CLE 10 12 4.92 34 33 0 0 208.2 232 122 114 62 118 88 5.1
1994 CLE 7 5 3.82 51 0 22 2 73.0 71 33 31 26 63 123 7.8
1995 CLE 3 0 1.13 62 0 57 46 64.0 49 9 8 17 58 418 8.2
1996 CLE 2 7 3.73 69 0 60 39 72.1 69 32 30 28 64 130 8.0
1997 CLE 4 4 2.40 66 0 38 16 82.1 83 28 22 28 69 195 7.5
1998 TOT 8 7 4.57 76 0 36 1 84.2 91 50 43 38 63 99 6.7
1998 CLE 3 4 5.17 44 0 18 1 54.0 61 36 31 20 35 92 5.8
1998 SFG 5 3 3.52 32 0 18 0 30.2 30 14 12 18 28 116 8.2
1999 SEA 3 6 4.98 68 0 60 33 68.2 84 42 38 40 42 100 5.5
2000 SEA 4 6 5.36 66 0 29 1 80.2 89 48 48 41 84 86 9.4
2001 PHI 3 3 2.34 71 0 59 42 69.1 65 26 18 20 59 182 7.7
2002 PHI 4 6 2.97 74 0 64 45 75.2 65 26 25 39 64 131 7.6
2003 PHI 5 7 6.52 61 0 47 24 58.0 71 44 42 31 45 62 7.0
2004 PIT 5 2 3.25 70 0 65 43 69.1 78 26 25 20 37 132 4.8
2005 PIT 2 8 4.76 55 0 48 27 56.2 61 30 30 26 37 88 5.9
2006 COL 1 5 3.86 79 0 26 1 72.1 73 32 31 36 39 128 4.9
2007 TOT 2 3 7.11 56 0 21 1 50.2 53 48 40 25 29 65 5.2
2007 DET 1 1 12.34 16 0 8 0 11.2 19 16 16 6 9 38 6.9
2007 PHI 1 2 5.54 40 0 13 1 39.0 34 32 24 19 20 83 4.6
19 Yrs 80 109 4.36 1022 95 633 321 1548.2 1629 811 750 651 1038 100 6.0
162 Game Avg. 5 7 4.36 62 6 39 20 94 99 49 46 40 63 100 6.0
W L ERA G GS GF SV IP H R ER BB SO ERA+ SO/9
CLE (7 yrs) 33 36 3.88 341 48 195 104 647.1 657 305 279 224 447 116 6.2
PHI (4 yrs) 13 18 4.05 246 0 183 112 242.0 235 128 109 109 188 102 7.0
BAL (4 yrs) 13 24 5.41 49 47 1 0 269.1 303 170 162 131 127 74 4.2
PIT (2 yrs) 7 10 3.93 125 0 113 70 126.0 139 56 55 46 74 108 5.3
SEA (2 yrs) 7 12 5.18 134 0 89 34 149.1 173 90 86 81 126 92 7.6
COL (1 yr) 1 5 3.86 79 0 26 1 72.1 73 32 31 36 39 128 4.9
SFG (1 yr) 5 3 3.52 32 0 18 0 30.2 30 14 12 18 28 116 8.2
DET (1 yr) 1 1 12.34 16 0 8 0 11.2 19 16 16 6 9 38 6.9
AL (13 yrs) 54 73 4.53 540 95 293 138 1077.2 1152 581 543 442 709 97 5.9
NL (8 yrs) 26 36 3.96 482 0 340 183 471.0 477 230 207 209 329 108 6.3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/12/2012.

Why He Should Get In
His 321 saves ranks him 14th in major league baseball over his career.  For a good portion of his career, he was considered one of the best closers in baseball.

Why He Should Not Get In
Closers are still not getting into the Hall Of Fame easily and Mesa would have a hill to climb to get there.  With players ahead of him with more than 400 saves, he will be hard pressed to force his way in to Cooperstown.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in Cooperstown Choices 2013, I-70 Baseball ExclusivesComments (0)

St. Louis Cardinals might be smart to re-sign Kyle Lohse

The St. Louis Cardinals have a solid starting rotation that includes two ace-caliber pitchers, a couple of decent No. 3 and No. 4 starters, and a bevy of young flamethrowers. However, they might be in better shape if they re-sign their best starter from last year – Kyle Lohse.

Photo By Erika Lynn

Photo By Erika Lynn

Lohse posted a 16-3 record with a team-leading 2.84 earned-run average and was a strong candidate for the Cy Young Award in 2012. His contract expired at the end of the season, but no team has shown any strong interest in signing the 34-year-old righthander.

Part of the problem for Lohse could be a new system put in place by Major League Baseball in 2011 that gives teams compensation picks if they make qualifying offers to their free agents and those players are signed by another team. Teams have recently been more reluctant to sign a high-priced free agent because they’ll have to give up a draft pick and a portion of their draft money.

Perhaps his asking price is simply too high. Scott Boras represents Lohse, and Boras is known to try any imaginable tactic to drive up the price for teams to sign his clients. This strategy cost Lohse the last time he was a free agent.

Lohse put together a 9-12 record in 2007 with the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies, but he hit the open market that offseason looking for a big, multi-year contract. As Spring Training camps opened in 2008, Lohse was still hunting for a job when the Cardinals signed him to a one-year, $4.25-million deal that was designed to be an opportunity for Lohse to try to maximize his value for the following offseason.

It worked. Lohse went 15-6 with a 3.78 ERA in 2008, and the Cardinals re-signed him to a four-year, $41-million extension later that season.

The Cardinals might be reluctant to sign Lohse because they want the compensation draft pick, which would be cheaper to sign than a free agent pitcher. But, the franchise could find short- and long-term benefits if they re-sign Lohse.

Lohse could return to the Cardinals with a fairly reasonable deal since no other teams have stepped forward with an offer, and the move could help them beyond next year if Adam Wainwright decides to leave as a free agent. Wainwright is going to command at least a near-record contract if he has a good season, and he is almost certainly going to be more expensive than Lohse.

Theoretically, the Cardinals could sign Lohse to a contract in the neighborhood of four years and as much as $70-80 million. That would still likely be less than half of what Wainwright will make in his next contract. Plus, the Cardinals have several young pitchers who could fill rotation spots if Wainwright decides to leave.

If all that were to happen, the Cardinals could open the 2014 and 2015 seasons with a rotation led by Lohse, followed by Jaime Garcia, Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller. That also doesn’t include pitchers such as Trevor Rosenthal or Carlos Martinez.

Granted, that would be a very young rotation, and Garcia’s shoulder problems remain a question at this point. But, there is undoubtedly enough talent in that rotation for the team to be successful, and it would be a heck of a lot cheaper than keeping Wainwright.

Some people might say re-signing Lohse this year is unreasonable, but it could pay off in the long term. The Cardinals would have much more money to spend on a solid middle infielder and veteran players who often play key roles that help win games late in the regular season and playoffs.

Although Lohse’s contract this year could create some sticker shock, it would be minimal compared to the gasping-for-air feeling Cardinals fans could experience if the team tries to sign Wainwright to a long-term contract next year.

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St. Louis Cardinals will likely be forced to give Adam Wainwright record contract

As another offseason of eye-poppingly large free-agent contracts begins to wind down, the St. Louis Cardinals find themselves in an unfortunate, yet familiar situation as one of their biggest stars heads into the final year of his contract.

AdamWainwright

It was Albert Pujols in 2011; it will be Adam Wainwright in 2013.

The Cardinals co-ace is headed into the final year of his six-year, $59.4-million contract. That number is almost laughably low for a  Cy Young Award quality pitcher with a career 80-48 record, 3.15 ERA. In the past year, pitchers with less impressive numbers have signed contracts nearly triple the size of Wainwright’s current deal.

The San Francisco Giants signed Matt Cain in April to a six-year, $127.5-million extension. That was, of course, before he had a career season that included starting the All-Star Game and pitching a perfect game June 13 against the Houston Astros. The Los Angeles Dodgers also recently signed former Cy Young winner Zack Grienke to a six-year, $147-million contract. And those are just the big-name pitchers.

Even mediocre pitchers got paid big bucks this offseason. The Detroit Tigers signed Anibal Sanchez, who has a career 48-51 record and 3.75 ERA, to a five year contract worth $80 million. The Chicago Cubs were in the hunt for Sanchez, but they quickly turned around and gave Edwin Jackson, a 70-71 career pitcher with a 4.40 ERA, a four-year, $52-million deal.

If those types of pitchers are getting around $15 million per year, a pitcher with Wainwright’s record could honestly be looking at the possibility of a contract that pays him closer to $30 million than $20 million per year. That’s one heck of an investment.

The Pujols situation blew up in Spring Training of 2011 when Pujols cut off contract negotiations, and that issue lingered throughout the entire season. Pujols, of course, ended up signing with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for 10 years and $254 millions the following offseason.

The Cardinals avoided a similar situation with catcher Yadier Molina when they gave him a five-year, $75-million contract extension in Spring Training before the 2012 season even began.

If the Cardinals and Wainwright don’t reach a deal before the 2013 season starts, the unrest in St. Louis concerning the team’s best pitcher will build and build whether Wainwright pitches great or pitches poorly.

The Cardinals have plenty of incentives to get a deal done quickly, but Wainwright could play the system and cash in at the end of next season. The Cardinals would likely be able to sign Wainwright at a cheaper price now because no other teams are currently able to offer him contracts, and if Wainwright pitches great in 2013, that will also drive up his price.

The team’s other co-ace, Chris Carpenter, currently holds the record as the highest-paid pitcher in Cardinals history. He signed a five-year, $63-million contract in 2006.

Like it or not, the Cardinals need to be prepared to shatter that record with Wainwright because the price for good starting pitchers continues to skyrocket. It’s not impossible to think Wainwright could sign the largest pitcher’s contract in the history of the game, exceeding the seven-year, $161-million contract the New York Yankees gave CC Sabathia before the 2009 season began.

Otherwise, St. Louis baseball fans might spend next Christmas bemoaning the fact that one of the best pitchers in franchise history moved on to take a huge sum of money somewhere else.

After Pujols’ departure in December 2011, that’s probably a Christmas story few Cardinals fans would want to relive.

Correction: a previous version of this article claimed Adam Wainwright was a former Cy Young Award winner.  That has since been corrected.

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