ESPN Baseball Expert Fantasy League Update
"A handy reminder: In March, all 45 of ESPN’s baseball experts picked the Red Sox to win the AL East." - Deadspin on Twitter.
So, the least relevant question we need to answer from these picks is… which expert is the best at predicting the future. So here’s the chart
For those of you opposed to counting, 38 experts had the Red Sox winning the World Series. But only one expert went 1 for 8 at picking playoff teams (David Schoenfield).
Short points system explanation:
If the expert got the divisional/wild card pick correct, they got 20 points. If they picked a wild card who won their division, they got 5 points in compensation. If they picked a division winner who lost the division, their point total varied from -5 for a 2nd place team to -20 for a 5th place team. And Steve Berthiaume got -25 for his Astros pick. And for the Wild Cards, the range for picking a wild card who missed the playoffs went from minus 2 for the first runnerup to minus 14 for the guys who had the Rockies as the Wildcard.
Also included was a potential points category. 250 potential points for an expert whose NLCS pick is still in the playoffs. 500 potential points for an expert whose World Series pick is still in the playoffs.
Who’s gonna win the Experts Pool?
- Keith Law wins if the World Series is between the Tigers or Rangers and the Cardinals or Diamondbacks.
- If the Phillies win the World Series over the Yankees, Tristan Cockcroft wins.
- If the Yankees go to the World Series at all, Tristan Cockcroft wins.
- If the Phillies win the World Series over the Rays, Eric Karabell wins.
- If the Rays go to the World Series at all, Eric Karabell wins.
- If the Phillies win the World Series over the Rangers or Tigers, Richard Durrett wins.
- If the Rangers or Tigers defeat the Phillies, Richard Durrett and Jayson Stark win.
- If the Brewers go the World Series, Jonah Keri wins.
In other words, this is your NCAA bracket pool in a year where the top half of the bracket is decimated by the Sweet 16 (a.k.a. 2011). Picked six months ago by some of the finest minds available to ESPN.
It’s wide open right now!
(I have too much free time on my hands)
Everybody is here for a reason
Thankfully, the Blog Your Way to the K experience did not take place yesterday (when the heat index was around 118 degrees). If any day were used to describe a cruel summer, it’d be Tuesday. Wednesday cooled down to around 95 at game time.
The Blog Your Way to the K experience of Wednesday Night started off with a trip down to the dugout to hear from Ned Yost. Yost noted the reasons for Mike Moustakas being out of the lineup until Friday to hone his swing (mechanical problems involving pressing, drifting and the front foot). With might be the baseball way of saying “he’s doing stuff that is not helping him out”. Until hearing of Moustakas going to work on the swing, I was a bit perplexed by the move, but eventually something had to be addressed as Moustakas just wasn’t getting going right now. As well, he talked about Manny Pina’s debut and Eric Hosmer’s shot at Rookie of the Year.
One of the more interesting and true things Ned said involved the Mike Moustakas situation where Ned said that you don’t end slumps on the bench (or sitting him in important spots, or as he put it “sitting championship players in championship spots”)
Other Ned notes:
- Giavotella will play when he is called up.
- Chris Getz will get pinch-hit for when we need a power hitter in his spot (no word on if we’ll have a better power hitter called up in September)
- Melky Cabrera will do anything you ask him to do.
- Yamaico Navarro is playing on Thursday night.
- Giavotella getting promoted means less Getz, but with Getz possibly moving into move of a defensive-replacement role for a time (he noted Getz was better on defense and Giavotella better on offense).
- Gordon will continue to hit leadoff (from the postgame when we got to ask questions)
- Manny Pina might stay on the 25 man roster when Matt Treanor returns, which would kind of not make sense, but it’s not the first time that 3 catchers have been up before September in recent history. Personally i’m guessing Manny is back to AA when Treanor is healthy.
Then we talked to Ryan Lefebvre (and Nate Bukaty!) a bit. Here’s a bit of the Ryan preparation routine.
- Check over the news in baseball involving other teams
- Read the KC Star
- Check into the starting pitching on both sides
- Fill in the rest
I didn’t really take notes of the specifics about how Ryan knows not everybody will be a fan and how he used to check message boards. But I did write down that Nate uses Twitter to show-prep. There was some social media talk that others can summarize.
Then Eric Hosmer showed up to talk about having to adjust in every series and deal with major league pitching and how there’s a lot more preparation to do in the major leagues. He also spoke about the help provided by playing on a team with Jeff Francoeur and Alex Gordon when it comes to managing tough times as a player.
I think there was some talk in-between Hosmer and Moustakas that I didn’t take notes on. But I did get to see Mike Moustakas hit a little bit in batting practice. So as a non-professional, i’ll note he got some good elevation pretty consistently. I was also in the dugout, so you lose a bit from that distance.
After Mike Moustakas finished his batting practice shift, he talked a bit about making adjustments and being in the batting cages every day. He also noted that there’s not Justin Verlanders in AAA and that obviously the competition you get in the major leagues is a challenge. He said that in the majors, everybody is here for a reason (inspiration for the title).
As for Mike Moustakas’ leadership method? the best way to show leadership is to just lead and play hard. So between that and everybody being in the Majors for a reason, there is a philosophical edge to the sport called baseball that may not be widely known.
Moustakas also talked about getting advice for handling 3rd base from George Brett and his friendship with Eric Hosmer, including that the day Hosmer was called up was one of Moustakas’ happier days and that it’s more of a family than a competition between him and Eric Hosmer.
Also, pregame, we got to talk to Dayton Moore a bit in our suite. Various notes include
- Not everybody on the 40 man roster is getting called up this September since some of them wouldn’t be getting playing time in KC.
- The pre-reqs to be called up are ability, performance, opportunity. Which means quite a few guys who have the first two are not quite there right now due to the realities of the current 25 man roster.
- 3/4 years ago, a Melky or Francoeur would have been traded for guys in A-Ball, but they’ve got guys in the minors on that level so they didn’t move Melky Cabrera or Jeff Francoeur.
- Mentioned the possibility of signing 1 or 2 free agent pitchers in the offseason. Which I’d imagine is a guy who could wind up in the rotation and maybe a guy or two who might make the team or not (think Pedro Feliz). The rotation has 3 guys who are strong candidates and at least 7 possibilities already in the Royals organization for the last two spots. So a free agent might be the re-signing of a player already on the team or someone close to that level too.
- Also mentioned wanting 1000 innings from the starters. For the sake of reference, Royals starters have had around 940 innings a year from 2008 to 2010 and on pace for a bit over 930 innings in 2011.
- Dayton also doesn’t know about Aaron Crow starting 2012 in the rotation right now.
- And don’t worry, we’re getting Bubba Starling, who was compared to Bo Jackson and called a better athlete than Josh Hamilton.
- He said that the Royals can sustain a 55-60m payroll with the current fan support right now, which i’d imagine could go up a bit if the stars align.
- Also, he got one offer for DeJesus (mentioned before) and two offers for Greinke (the other being Texas).
- And a quote to consider from Dayton: “If you had the same information as me, you’d do the same thing”
More info can and will be provided by the other 6 bloggers in the room as they were recording and I was doing shorthand notes. And for the sake of reference, I asked about the rotation and about how they have 3 strong candidates and a lot of guys for the other spots, signing a free agent, and Mike Montgomery pitching in KC. Personally, I think if the rotation is Paulino/Hochevar/Duffy/Crow/other, and Montgomery does break through, it would be easier to manage if the 5th guy wasn’t a free agent
The game was pretty good. Luke Hochevar was steady and had 7 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings (see, reverse jinx always works). Greg Holland came in and contained the Orioles. Plus Billy Butler hit a homer on a 3-0 pitch after an unnamed Royalman was talking to himself about not wanting Billy to swing on 3-0.
Plus I now have gamenotes to preserve in history of the Baltimore Orioles team as it was on August 3rd, 2011. Plus I had fun reading Brad Bergesen’s game notes and realizing the A’s had a pitcher with the best Viking name ever (Trystan Magnuson) while looking over the lists of pitchers on the other side of the lineup paper.
Ultimately, everybody is here for a reason in a few senses. So hopefully Mike Moustakas can heat up a bit in the coming weeks once they figure out the best way to turn groundballs into linedrives and flyballs into home runs.
So it was a good time at the ballpark, in the dugout pregame, in the suite, and wherever else you saw the game. Plus our names were in the official game notes too. So that’s cool.
I’ll be out at the K tomorrow for the Blog Your Way to the K day to see Luke Hochevar face Jeremy Guthrie.
From 2008 to 2011
Kyle Davies: 5.20 ERA (82 ERA+), 1.56 WHIP, 6.2 Ks per 9/4 walks per 9, averages 22 homers given up per 162.
Luke Hochevar: 5.56 ERA (76 ERA+), 1.44 WHIP, 5.7 Ks per 9/3.1 walks per 9, averages 25 homers given up per 162
Per 162, 2008-2011
Davies: 186 IP, 129 K/83 BB, 22 HR
Hochevar: 202 IP, 129 K/69 BB, 25 HR
Date of birth
Davies: September 9th, 1983
Hochevar: September 15th, 1983
Respected friends of the Twitter feed (such as Nick Wright) are openly against Davies being in the rotation and skeptical about Hochevar’s prospects. Perhaps a consistent standard should be used here. Either upgrade Davies to what you think about Hochevar, or downgrade Hochevar to what you think of Davies. Digest it how you want to.
If the Royals had a bit more fortune with upper level prospects, they could easily drop Davies and Hochevar.
But if a repeat of Phil Humber with Luis Mendoza is a concern, I think you can guess the reason for concern with Davies or Luke Hochevar.
A 2012 rotation guess: Paulino, Hochevar, Duffy, Crow, Open
Mike Montgomery could make the rotation, Or he could be in Omaha for when the first of the rotation fails or gets hurt. I’m personally expecting Crow to not last long in the rotation, purely due to the pull of having an awesome reliever Crow instead of a mediocre starter Crow being too hard to resist. Or we could we writing about Starter Aaron Crow in the tense we use for Luke Hochevar in 2015.
At least Luke Hochevar starts aren’t boring affairs.
And after Bruce Chen’s latest rocky start, where it seemed like his pitch selection wasn’t exactly inspiring, putting Luke up against some of the guys in this Baltimore lineup should produce a challenge for him.
One more for the road
Some stuff about Royals minor leaguers K/9 rates, and some Luis Mendoza too
For those viewing this from the Blog Your Way to the K site
here’s a recent sample of writing, left on it’s natural site due to formatting differences between SBNation and Tumblr.
Since the White Sox series, Moustakas is 8 for 35. So it’s kind of a slow improvement.
Another post today?
The 1911 Missouri State League
For a period of what seems like 3 weeks in May 1911, there was the Missouri State League. It was a Class D minor league made up of 5 teams in Missouri.
The original 5: The Sedalia Cubs, The Macon Athletics, The Jefferson City Senators, The Kirksville Osteopaths, and the Brookfield Hustlers.
Brookfield’s team disbanded on May 19th after 4 games. Presumably due to a shortfall in their team income (which came from Hustling, I would guess).
Then the Sedalia Cubs moved on May 24th to Brookfield, becoming the Brookfield Cubs. Then the Jefferson City team disbanded on June 2nd, and the league folded on June 4th.
So this Saturday is the 100th anniversary of the end of the Missouri State League.
The records of the teams? Sedalia/Brookfield went 11-8, Macon went 10-8, Jefferson City went 11-9, Kirksville went 9-12, and Brookfield went 0-4.
In the approximately 3 weeks the league existed, they had two league presidents, which seems to be a prelude to the league falling apart.
The Encyclopedia Of Minor League Baseball (2nd edition) lists only one statistical leader for the league, David Kraft hit 3 home runs for Kirksville. [Baseball America is selling a 3rd edition for $35]
Missouri’s participation in Minor League Baseball is fairly minimal compared to most of the nation. Over a period of 120 years, Kansas had 48 cities with at least one minor league team and Missouri had only 21 cities with a minor league team. Every Missouri State League city didn’t get a team after 1911.
Missouri got the Arkansas-Missouri League of Carthage/Cassville/Monett/Neosho from Missouri and Bentonville/Fayetteville/Rogers/Siloam Springs from Arkansas from 1936 to 1940.
By the end of the Arkansas-Missouri League, there were 4 teams and they were all affiliated. The Carthage Pirates, Neosho Yankees, Fayetteville Angels (Brooklyn) and the Siloam Springs Cardinals.
As for the nicknames in the Missouri State League, the Kirksville Osteopaths stands above all other nicknames. But when you compare the Osteopaths (and their osteopath of destruction through the MSL) to these nicknames from 1911 teams, there’s a strong competition for best nickname: The Superior Brickmasters (Nebraska State League), The York Prohibitionists (Nebraska State League), Springfield Reapers (Ohio State League), Bay City Rice Easters (Southwest Texas League), Brownsville Brownies (SW Texas League), Laredo Bermudas (SW Texas League), Wichita Falls Irish Lads (Texas-Oklahoma League), The Boise Irrigators (Union Association), Moose Jaw Robin Hoods (Western Canada League), Hutchinson Salt Packers (Kansas State League), The Hannibal Cannibals (Central Association), Asheville Moonshiners (Appalachian League), Flint Vehicles (Southern Michigan League), Columbia Commies (South Atlantic League), and the Wheeling Stogies (Central League)
Minor League Baseball actually met a peak of cities in 1949, with 438 cities and 59 leagues after a campaign to encourage semi-pro and textile leagues to affiliate. Anybody with a basic knowledge of economics can probably guess that number was going to decline significantly. And thanks to a combo of overextension, the Korean War, television, and people moving to big cites, the number of minor league teams plunged for a period of ten years until they had to stabilize it in the 1960s.
So, in 1949, with 438 cities in minor league baseball, how many Missouri teams were there?
Four. The Carthage Cubs, the Joplin Miners (Yankees), the Kansas City Blues (Yankees), and the St. Joseph Cardinals. (Springfield missed the 1949 Western Association season, but was there for 1948 and 1950).
On further consideration, it’s hard to beat Hannibal Cannibals for a team name in any year.
The most famous Joplin Miner? Hm.. this guy
So this Saturday is the 100th anniversary of the end of the Missouri State League. Commemorate it somehow
The Vin Mazzaro 14 Run Outing is far more complex than people acknowledge.
Firstly, Nate Adcock’s outing ending early at 29 pitches doesn’t exactly set the stage for a solid Mazzaro performance. Adcock was expected to get 2 or 3 innings and got 1 2/3 because Ned pulled him after he gave up a walk to the 1st batter in the 3rd. Yost pulling pitchers after allowing one hit or run in an inning is a puzzling habit of his and didn’t serve the team very well.
Second, Vin Mazzaro started the game in the Royals bullpen and Kyle Davies was experiencing neck stiffness. Which makes you ask “Why didn’t Mazzaro just start the game?” Or at the very least, why not go directly to Mazzaro with the hope that he could get you to the 5th/6th and leave less time for the bullpen to be burned.
Third, the criticism of Yost for bringing Mazzaro back out after giving up 10 runs is a bit much. It was a bit of a puzzling move but it was trying to squeeze another inning out of Mazzaro before 5 innings of relievers.
Fourth, Melky Cabrera really didn’t run down that Hafner flyball very well and made things worse by allowing 3 RBI at once with 2 outs. Lorenzo Cain must not be seasoned enough to handle those plays.
Fifth, Tim Collins and Louis Coleman for an inning down 19-1? What? Is Blake Wood too valuable to use in that situation? Is it a point of pride to throw out the best guys to prevent the Indians from scoring the 20th run? Joakim Soria pitching the 8th there isn’t too horrible since he’s been out of action for a few days anyways. But Tim Collins is used so much that I think Ned put him on the mound at Comerica Park on Sunday to make sure he didn’t get too rested.
Sixth, This experience doesn’t really strengthen my belief that Ned Yost can think on his feet in a tough strategic situation.
So, the series of moves and rumored moves went as follows after the game.
Mazzaro to Omaha: Mazzaro’s attitude likely made the move far more likely. The Royals aren’t in a position to voluntarily deplete their rotation any more without having some reason to do it, right? It would reflect much worse on the org if Mazzaro was tossed out to give up 14 runs and then got demoted without his attitude being a factor.
Everett Teaford to Kansas City: Teaford is a borderline guy. Might be another useful reliever in a good bullpen. Should relieve the workload put on Tim Collins. Almost too old to be taken seriously as a prospect. He hasn’t started a game in 3 weeks either, so he probably won’t start.
Kyle Davies to the DL?: Which would be an unusually fast move of a Royal to the disabled list. Usually we let the pitcher flounder aimlessly then DL him for a longer period of time. (See: Crisp, Coco. Aviles, Mike. Meche, Gil)
Robinson Tejeda to Kansas City?: It would make Ned’s job of impulsively clinging to another reliever a lot easier. Time will tell if Tejeda can be good before they (hopefully) deal him for random parts.
Danny Duffy to Kansas City: The Royals had to have realized that the rotation for this weekend was going to be horrible without promoting Duffy. How effective and long Duffy can go is an unknown, especially against a good hitting team like the Rangers. But it’s good that Duffy avoided the whirlpool of being made a reliever “temporarily”. Seriously, it was probably either Duffy on Wednesday or Adcock/Teaford/O’Sullivan v. the Cardinals.
In the scheme of things, this team is 6 games behind a team that has beaten them 6 of 8 times. The odds of them making a serious run are pretty much nil right now. Remember that while this team is 20-20, the 2009 team was 21-19 and finished 65-97.
So there’s a faint hope of them finishing the next six games with a record at .500 or better. All they need to do is go 3-3 v. three offensive powerhouse first place teams, with a strained pitching staff. Not thaaat hard.
One thing lost in the implosion of the pitching staff is that the hitting has sucked since the Baltimore series. The team hitting line is 213ba/291obp/354slg over the last 12 games. The hitters dragging the team down in May? Gordon. Escobar. Ideal leadoff hitter Chris Getz.
Mike Aviles is 273/298/432 for the month, but the overwhelming sample size of him batting leadoff is probably motivating an extended Chris Getz run at leadoff (103/161/138 in 33 PA. 3 for 29 for Getz. Obviously a table-setter that will really fire up this offense)
Despite the annual hype directed towards Kevin Seitzer turning the Royals into a good hitting team, the hitting of this team is rapidly becoming the hitting that we saw in 2009 and 2010 from Seitzer-coached Royals teams. Teams that aren’t patient. Don’t hit for power. And will either hit for opposite-field singles, or grounders to the shortstop.
But it seems like the only time the official voices of the franchise realize the problems caused by the lack of hitting, it’s when they blame Jeff Francis’ lack of success on a lack of run support, instead of Francis’ 5+ ERA.
So in other words, consider this team lucky if they’re over .500 in a week. Because they’ve turned into a pumpkin.
Leaving New York with a bang
A list of accomplishments for the Royals tonight
- First series win against the Yankees in New York in 1999.
- First time they scored over 10 runs and won in New York since 1990 (they lost 12-11 in 2008). The last time they scored 11 or more was a 14-5 victory in 1989 (Bill Pecota hit 2 home runs in that game and another homer in the second game of the doubleheader).
- Eric Hosmer is the first Royals Rookie with two home runs v. the Yankees in New York since Lou Piniella (Piniella did it in June and August, Hosmer did it on back to back nights).
- Everybody got a hit and Alcides Escobar got a bases-loaded RBI off of Buddy Carlyle.
Starting off a 13 game stretch by winning 2 of 3 v. one of the tougher opponents on the road is very good. Sean O’Sullivan was good for most of his outing and got dragged through a few extra innings due to the large lead. The starting pitching made it past the best scoring team in the AL without much damage somehow (None of the starters had a game score above 50). The success came off the fortune of facing a Yankees team that had no hitting last night, no pitching tonight and exploiting their weaknesses. Good teams take advantage of these openings.
The Royals had one 10+ run victory at Yankee Stadium in the 1970s, seven 10+ run victories at Yankee Stadium in the 1980s, one 10+ run victory in the 1990s, and one 10+ run victory at Yankee Stadium in the 2010s. So they’re in good company.
Jamie Moyer was pitching in the major leagues and Eric Hosmer hadn’t been born when the Royals last put up this many runs in a win at Yankee Stadium.
May 13th is the one year anniversary of Ned Yost’s hiring as manager of the Royals. Yost is 75-89 as the Royals manager (73-89 through the first 162), the best start for a Royals manager since Bob Boone. The actual level of Yost’s talents is still an unknown, and he has the advantage of being in a post-strike field with Bob Boone (mistake hire in many ways), Tony Muser (worst Royals manager in history), Tony Pena (won’t get as much credit as he deserves), Buddy Bell (started with no momentum and stayed that way), and Trey Hillman (Michael Scott). Out of the 5 post-strike managers before Yost, Pena is probably the best of them. I can’t give the best nod to Boone for solid reasons. Pena gets points for having a winning season with a team that had no business having a winning season. He didn’t suggest dumping Ibanez for Juan Gonzalez, for example. Plus, Pena is one of two Royals managers post-Strike to not get fired (the other being Buddy Bell). The Allard Baird era was ridiculous in the realm of building a 25-man roster from random parts.
But you have got to love the symbolism of doing something that the Royals hadn’t done since the days of George Brett.
The difference between genius and stupidity in Baseball is a few inches
"Do you even know what button you pushed?"
You don’t win ball games with 4 runs and 4 hits without weird things happening and risky decisions paying off.
Eric Hosmer’s skillset probably fits the 3-hole the best. But then again, Butler’s skillset also fits the 3-hole. Eric Hosmer will probably bat 3rd on an every day basis sometime in 2011 or 2012. He had a very good night. First home run, scoring 2 runs, knocking in 2 runs.
The result of Joakim Soria having a bad outing is the people who suspect something is wrong. Tonight was the first time Soria gave up a run in an appearance since April 19th, and the first earned run since April 15th. Since April 19th, Soria had 4 outings, 2 where he didn’t allow a hit and 2 where he struck out 2 of 4 batters he faced. Having your closer throw 51 pitches in 4 outings in 3 weeks is not exactly optimal before he faces a sudden outing like the one he had tonight.
I don’t know the general strategy of when to use Mariano Rivera. I suspect that Mariano Rivera was not needed to face Chris Getz, Alcides Escobar, and Jarrod Dyson in the 9th inning.
The intentional walk of Melky Cabrera to face Eric Hosmer is the exact same thing that happened to Hosmer to face Mike Aviles back on Saturday. You can probably read those comments on here.
Tim Collins’ usage is confusing. While throwing 23 pitches on Tuesday wasn’t enough to keep him down for Wednesday, I suspect 23 pitches plus 6 pitches could be enough to keep him down for Thursday. We have games every day for awhile, Tim Collins should get an off day. I don’t think Tim Collins is getting stretched worse than he was in April when he was throwing 20 pitches an inning. Tim Collins could be a reliable closer once he establishes consistent control.
Mitch Maier running for Billy Butler was a nominal plus. It didn’t factor into any play but it didn’t hurt. Boone Logan showing up to face Alex Gordon was a good strategic move. Ned Yost emptying his bench seems to be a compensation for the non-moves last night.
Chris Getz wound up screwing up a jump for a ball and a double play. Then he scored the winning run. So expect six more weeks of Chris Getz. Getz “fills” two areas of concern for the team, second base and leadoff. Despite not really being much more than vanilla on defense and not hitting enough to bat leadoff.
Vin Mazzaro was not very good tonight, but he managed to only give up 2 runs in 4 innings. He’s going to need to be somewhat competent against left-handed hitters to really be worth a long stint in the rotation. Guys like Mazzaro are first against the wall (or first to the bullpen/AAA) when your Duffy’s and Montgomery’s are ready to step up to the rotation. As opposed to Davies, who is gone for some random piece of flair, or Francis, who could fetch a young fringe arm. The Royals rotation might finally get overhauled in the next year after a near eternity of Hochevar and Davies starting.
Says something about the length and quality of a game that people can overlook the retaliation by Burnett in response to Robinson Cano being unintentionally plunked. Some could say that you don’t move the tying run forward by throwing at Jeff Francoeur, but I doubt the bottom 3rd of the lineup intimidates the Yankees.
Ultimately Ned Yost is the kind of manager who has a ways to go to disprove the perception of him as a bad big-game manager. There are essentially four kinds of managers, bad managers on bad teams, bad managers on good teams, good managers on bad teams, and good managers on good teams. Managers only account for a small number of wins or losses. But for contending teams, a small number of wins or losses determines if their players are playing baseball or vacationing in October. It’s too early to make a good call on Yost right now. But sometimes the difference between a genius manager and a dumb manager are inches.