With a mere two days left in the regular season, here are several go-to links to make your Monday a bit more bearable:
- Keep up with the postseason picture at MLB.com. Considerable uncertainty remains in the American League, as only the Orioles, Rangers, and Yankees have clinched postseason berths and none are guaranteed a first-place finish. The Senior Circuit is somewhat less chaotic: The Giants and Reds have won their divisions and the Braves and Nationals have earned trips to the playoffs.
- The Orioles were heading from Baltimore to Tampa this evening for its three-game series with the Rays, but a fire on board the team plane has required the players and coaches to cool their heels in Jacksonville. According to WJZ.com, no injuries have been reported.
- Congratulations to Homer Bailey on his no-hitter in Pittsburgh on Friday evening. The former first-round draft choice struck out ten and walked only one in the Reds’ 1–0 victory. Jack Moore of Fangraphs shows why his batterymate, Ryan Hanigan, deserves kudos too.
- It might come as a surprise to Mets fans that R. A. Dickey’s teammates did more good than harm vis-à-vis the Cy Young candidate’s won-loss record. According to the Wall Street Journal’s Carl Bialik:
The Mets have struggled to play MLB-average baseball in many ways, including two that starting pitchers have little control over but help determine their won-loss record: hitting and relieving. Starters need to leave the game with their team in the lead, which means they need their teammates to score runs. Yet the Mets have averaged 4.08 runs per game, 0.16 runs lower than the NL average. Starters also need relievers to protect their leads or to keep the game close when they’ve left so the team’s hitters can stage a comeback. But the Mets bullpen has an ERA of 4.71, the highest in baseball, and has given up a whopping 5.18 runs per nine innings. . . .
But Mets batters and relievers stepped up their play for their ace this year in a way they didn’t for his rotation mates. The batters have scored 4.8 runs per 27 outs while Dickey was in the game and 4.8 runs per 27 outs throughout his games, including after he’d left the game but left a lead to protect. That’s about double the rate of scoring the Mets lineup has provided for Matt Harvey in his 10 starts for the team this year. His record is 3–5 despite a 2.73 ERA, nearly as good as Dickey’s. Dickey ranks in the top 25% in the majors for run support — not bad for a pitcher on a team with below-average offense.
The Mets bullpen also has summoned its best work for Dickey games. While relievers made Dickey’s last two wins extra-exciting by yielding ninth-inning home runs, he still won both games. In his 15 wins that weren’t complete games, Mets relievers gave up just 2.6 runs per nine innings, half their season rate. Eight times in Dickey wins they yielded no runs and just once, in win No. 20 on Thursday, did they give up more than a run.
- The Indians canned skipper Manny Acta on Thursday. Anthony Witrado of The Sporting News finds the decision defensible but adds that the front office also needs to be held accountable for the Tribe’s woes.
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo! offers up the story of Frater Matthew Desme, born Grant Desme, and his path from center field to a monastery.
- Why was Sean Forman, Baseball-Reference.com’s proprietor, unhappy this weekend?
You may have heard that the AL MVP is between a player who may win the Triple Crown and a player who most (if not all) of the stathead-friendly sites say is the best player in the league this year. There have been a number of articles being written by veteran writers about how stupid WAR is–complaining it’s incomprehensible, stupid, meaningless, dumb, formulas are different, etc. etc. . . .
Now I’m painting the baseball media with a broad brush, but each of these types of articles gets my hackles up. I’m a fellow card-carrying-member of the BBWAA and one would think that I would be afforded some professional courtesy before having a stat we produce being berated in print.
Not a single member of the print media, the broadcast media or radio has reached out to me to learn more about WAR since this MVP controversy has erupted. Not one. . . .
- “How bad is the [last place] Minnesota Twins rotation,” asks Beyond the Box Score’s Bryan Grosnick? Hint: “Pretty, pretty, pretty bad.”
- Speaking of bad, Don Babwin of the Huffington Post reminds us that the Cubs are on the verge of their first 100-loss season since 1966, while Charlie Wilmoth of Bucs Dugout has comparatively little to say about his beloved team’s late-season free fall.
That’s it. Have a walk-off week!