Monday, June 26, 2006

Dream Weaver redux

This weekend I got really drunk and did karaoke. It was at a friend's house, so we could sing all the songs we wanted instead of waiting 1/2 between songs at a bar. As the night wore on past 3 AM, we found songs that we'd never sing sober, just put in a disk, let it play, and sing whatever came up as best you can.

Finally, Gary Wright's classic Dream Weaver came on, and I sang my Jered Weaver lyrics to it.

At the same time, Jered Weaver was pitching a complete game shutout, using 105 pitches to get through 9. He struck out 14.

Too bad he walked 1 and allowed 2 hits, otherwise he might have impressed the Halos enough to get back to the majors.

Nathan Haynes

Talk about a blast from the past. I didn't realize he was even still in baseball. Way back in 1999 (before terrorism was big news, internet stocks were can't miss, the US government actually took in as much as it spent, and the Angels and Sox Red and White were cursed forever...I know, a long way back in time) the Angels traded Randy Velarde for two minor league outfielders, Jeff DaVanon and Nathan Haynes. While DaVanon turned into one of the best backup OF's around, Haynes was supposed to be the better prospect.

In 2001 he probably looked his best, hitting .310/.377/.424 as a 21 year old in AA. He was supposed to develop into a Chone Figgins like player, but as a pure outfielder. In other words the leadoff hitter of the future. He kind of stalled out, from the record it looks like a combination of inability to control the strike zone and a bunch of injuries. Last I heard of him it was 2003, he hit only .217 in AAA, and I assumed he retired or something.

Turns out he was still in baseball, but only got 20 AB over the 2004-05 seasons, in the Giant's organization. Must have been some serious injuries, or else he was playing mostly independent ball and I don't have his stats? I'm not sure which.

Now he's back in AA Arkansas, the 5th season he's spent time at AA for the Angels. He's 7 for 14 so far, but the most amazing stat is this: 26. That's his age. He's still less than a year older than Dallas McPherson.

Good luck to Nathan, and I hope he finally gets a cup of coffee at least in the big leagues before the year is out.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

How about them Tigers?

The Tigers so far have been the worst of my preseason predictions, a whopping 12 games better. How have they done this?

The Tigers projected to be one of the worst offenses in the AL, 12th. So far the are 7th. Its a very all or nothing offense as well. They rank 10th in onbase percentage, but 3rd in slugging and second in homeruns.

Four Tigers are playing well above projections, starting with Marcus Thames. He's a guy I would have recommended to any team looking for a cheap solution at DH or corner OF, based on his minor league stats. A projected .792 OPS makes him a useful player. So far he's at 1.040, though in only 160 at bats. I hope he keeps his DH job for the rest of the year even if Dmitri comes back, since I picked him up in fantasy.

Other Tigers playing up are Granderson (.875 vs .759), Ordonez (.885/.793) and Guillen (.856/.785) . For Guillen and Ordonez, they aren't playing at unfamiliar levels, they are just healthy after dealing with a lot of injuries. That's somewhat unexpected, as they have been hurt a lot in recent years. Inge, Shelton, Bones Rodriguez, and Monroe have played about as well as expected, and Placido Polanco is the only Tiger regular not hitting at his established level.

The pitching, supported by a good defense, should have been good, and was projected to be 5th best in the American League. The have actually been first in ERA by a wide margin. Here are the projected starter ERAs:

Bonderman 3.84
Rogers 3.93
Maroth 4.30
Robertson 4.27
Verlander 4.39
Minor (fill in for Maroth) 5.44

Bonderman has pitched exactly as expected, at 3.82. The others are all much better:

Rogers 3.17
Maroth 3.56
Robertson 3.38
Verlander 3.39
Minor 2.08

Bonderman is the only one who strikes out a lot of hitters and has the best peripherals. He may even improve on his numbers. For the rest of these guys, I don't think the second half will be nearly as kind to their numbers.

A Look Back into the Future: American League

Before the season, I attempted to predict the final standings for both leagues. As we near the halfway point of the season, I wonder, how have I done?

Here are the American League Actual Standings against their predictions, prorated to current games played:

East: (actual W, predicted W, +/-)

NYY: 41, 40, +1
BOS: 43, 40, +3
TOR: 40, 38, +2
BAL: 34, 33, +1
TBA: 32, 33, -1

Looks pretty good here.


DET: 49, 37, +12
CHW: 48, 38, +10
MIN: 37, 40, -3
CLE: 32, 38, -6
KCR: 22, 26, -4

Not so good, makes me look like a blind monkey. Minnesota is OK, and is playing much better lately as Joe Mauer has become a superstar, Santana gets on his late season roll, and Liriano gets in the rotation. They may well meet my prediction of 89 wins, but it won't be enough to meet my other prediction: Twins Central Champions. I knew the Royals would be bad, that doesn't take any fancy formuli to figure out. I didn't quite predict their actual level of crappiness. I missed Detroit and Chicago by huge margins, and Cleveland in the other direction. I'll look into these teams in more detail later.


OAK: 40, 42, -2
TEX: 40, 34, +6
SEA: 36, 34, +2
LAA: 33, 40, -7

A's are playing ablout as well as expected, with the usual bad start and stupid win streak. Rangers are playing much better than predicted, and the improvement has been mostly on the defensive side, as Teixiera still has only 6 homers. Some games they play little guys like Mark DeRosa and Jerry Hairston in outfield corners over sluggers like Mench, it must mean they are trying to put a good defense out there. Still, the Rangers often fade in the heat of August. I don't think they'll pose a serious threat to the A's.

That leaves the Angels. They've had just a crappy season. They are best off giving some experience to the kids from here on out, and preparing to retake the division in 2007.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

F Doug Eddings

Eddings is there to screw the Angels once again. Juan Rivera clearly gets his hand on second base and keeps it there, but Eddings calls him out anyway. Scioscia is out arguing. He and Eddings have seen quite a bit of each other lately.

One problem the announcers missed though, is that Rivera was not hustling out of the box. He seemed to decide to go for a double after he made the turn around first. If he was hustling all the way it would not have been close.

First Figgins and now Rivera. It Scioscia losing his ability to make this team hustle?

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Using zone rating, here are the best and worst defenders through Saturdays games. The methods used can be found in archives of, I did an article on it last year and Chris Dial did several others.

I haven't changed anything for 2b, 3b, ss, and OF - I use putouts (OF) and assists (IF) to determine how many chances each player gets. All players are compared to the MLB average at their position, not their league average. I think this is the correct way to go as long as they do interleague play. For 1B I am abandoning my convoluted formula to determine chances, and just using the average chances per inning played from Dial's article.

I haven't done anything this year for arm or DP ratings, its just zone. No park adjustments have been made.

1B: +5 Shelton, +4 Niekro, +3 T Clark
-7 Konerko, -5 Giambi, -5 E Perez

Giambi's no surprise, everyone knows his best spot is DH. Perez is really bad in limited playing time. Kendry Morales is +2 in limited innings. He had reputation as a poor glove, but from the games I've seen this rating is accurate. He has surprised me with some great plays at 1B. He looks better there than Casey Kotchman, and about as good as Erstad. So far at least.

2B: Polanco +9, A Hill +7, Grudz +6
-12 Weeks, -12 L Castillo

Polanco is one of the best every year. Perhaps Hill should be the SS, and Russ Adams at second? Adams does not seem to have the arm for SS. Adam Kennedy is at -3, he's usually a plus defender. Still better than Kendrick or Figgins, but if Kennedy is losing a bit of range, and also turning 30, its best to let the kids take over next year. Weeks is no surprise, his 18 errors alone assure he'd rate poorly. Castillo is a bit of a surprise. Maybe he's having trouble learning to play on turf.

SS: A Everett +12, +7 Eckstein, +6 Counsell
-8 Furcal, -7 Berroa, -6 Renteria, -6 Tejada

Everett was the defensive star of John Dewan's Fielding Bible. I won't get started again on Eckstein. Orlando Cabrera is at -1, close enough to average. I've come to like the OC, he's a good player, just a bit overpaid. He's done a good job setting the table in 06 so far. Jeter is at -5.

3B: Feliz +10, Chad Tracy +7, Lowell +6
M Cabrera -10, Batista -9, E Chavez -6

Chavez rates low despite only 2 errors and 19 double plays - an amazing total for a 3B at this stage of the season. Counting the DP's he's still probably above average overall. I wonder if he's got some injury that's hurting his range? Or maybe its just a fluke so far. Cabrera is ther for his bat. He wasn't so good in the OF either, his destiny is probably 1st base just like his father, Albert Pujols.

LF: Langerhans +8, Swisher, Floyd, D Roberts +6
P Wilson -13, M Ramirez -8, A Dunn -8

Wilson was a bad CF, but I thought he'd be about average in a corner. He's not hitting much either so Houston will probably have to find another option. Manny Ramirez, when you consider the Green monster, is having a pretty good year by his standards. David Pinto, in his probabalistic model of range, showed a huge split in Manny's rating for home and away, most of the big negative was at home, though I can't remember exactly what the numbers were.

CF: Abercrombie +6, Cameron +6, Pierre +6, Patterson +6
Matthews -6, Markakis -5, K Robinson -5, Griffey -4

Griffey is not nearly as bad as he was last year. He's real stubborn about moving out of CF though. He should be a corner OF, and if he was AL the debate would be should he start DHing or not. Patterson has caught everything hit his way for the O's. He's fun to watch. Abercrombie has some serious tools, makes some great highlight catches. Too bad he has no clue that there is a strike zone. Erstad is +3 in limited time. Nice transition back from 1B.

RF: B Giles +6, J Guillen +5
Burnitz -6, Cuddyer -6, Lane -5, Mench -5

Don't have much to say about them. Vlad at +1, also 5 assists.