2011 MLB Predictions

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

If there is any investment advice coming in the next few minutes of your reading life, it isn't in my prediction of a Red Sox/Braves WS - it's in the places where my season win totals differ significantly from those available in Vegas.  If you're a regular reader of mine, you'd know I'm fairly consistent in beating those totals - and in last year's NFL preseason picks, had as much success as I've had in any endeavor in several years.

With that.  My win total is first, the Vegas number is second.

AL East
1. Boston (94, 95.5)
2. NYY (91, 91.5)
3. Tampa (87, 84 - that's a reasonable play)
4. Baltimore (80, 76.5 - that's a reasonable play)
5. Toronto (79, 76.5)

Last year's Red Sox team was better than you think, despite missing the playoffs - and to it they add Gonzalez, Crawford and presumably a healthier Pedroia.  The Yankees have a bundle of pitching prospects that should pump up their pen by year's end and aid a shaky back of the rotation enough to get by Tampa, on whom if anything, I'm overly pessimistic in this projection.  If Yanks/Rays are fighting for that WC spot late that wouldn't surprise.  I like both Orioles and Jays more than the sportsbooks.

AL Central
1. CWS (86, 85.5)
2. Minnesota (85, 86)
3. Detroit (85, 84.5)
4. Cleveland (71, 72)
5. KC (64, 68)

-It's hard to be bullish about the top of the White Sox order, but CWS can hit homers (love me some Adam Dunn moving to the AL) and catch the ball, and I'm projecting that's enough to win the division.  Liriano, Morneau, and Nathan are all concerns for the Twins - I'd guess 85 is the top of their likely curve for the year, and were they to have a hot first half, I'd like an investment that says they cool down the stretch.  The Tigers, like the Brewers in the other league, are employing a stars and scrubs strategy, with some really strong front of the rotation starters, a couple of bit bats in the lineup and not a lot else.  That could be enough to win for both of them.  Cleveland doesn't have the pitching to do much this year; everyone loves the Royals farm system, but the prospects won't win many games for them this year.

AL West
1. Texas (86, 86.5)
2. Oakland (84, 84)
3. LAA (79, 82.5)
4. Seattle (69, 70)

I've got a bit of a crush on Oakland's pitching staff, but they'll need some uncharacteristic years from the bats to beat this projection and get past Texas.  The Angels are a .500 team; Seattle's pretty bad.  

The three best teams in the American League are the same 3 best teams from last year - Boston, the Yankees, and Tampa.  I'll take the Yankee/Red Sox ALCS and pick Boston to win the pennant.

NL East
1. Philadelphia (90, 96.5 - which is pretty clearly high, it's the best play on the board)
2. Atlanta (88, 88)
3. Florida (82, 82.5)
4. NYM (79, 76)
5. Washington (72, 72.5)

-They lost Werth, and it looks like Utley too for at least the first month of the season, add in a messy bullpen, and winning 97 games looks really far away for the Phils.   I like the Braves' bullpen arms a ton, assuming they can maintain their gains post-Cox.  Like the Angels, the Fish look like a prototypical .500 club; this is the first year in - maybe a decade that I like the Mets more than the books; and the Nats are hopeless.

NL Central
1. Milwaukee (86, 86.5)
2. St Louis (84, 83.5)
3. Cincinnati (84, 86.5)
4. Chicago (79, 82)
5. Pittsburgh (69, 67)
6. Houston (66, 71 - also, high)

I referenced the Brewers in the Tigers thought; the only reason for the disparity in their records is the AL is the better league, but they seem equally likely to me to win their divisions.  Cards probably don't have the arms to get closer to 90 wins; there's some emerging Reds love, I refuse to believe a team planning on hitting Edgar Renteria second in 2011 can win 87 games.  I like Chicago's starting staff but not much else; the Pirates have some young offensive talent, and Houston's DOA.

NL West
1. SFG (90, 88)
2. LAD (87, 83.5 - a reasonable play)
3. Colorado (85, 87)
4. San Diego (78, 75.5)
5. Arizona (71, 72.5)

If my Giants won a couple fewer games and the Dodgers or the Rox won a couple more and we got edged out late that wouldn't be a shock, but it's hard to look at SFG and not see an improved Sandoval, a full season from Posey and what looks like lots of ABs from Belt offsetting regression from Torres and Huff to give us comparable offensive production to last year - a full season from Bumgarner helps to mitigate what absolutely has to be regression from the bullpen, and we look to be just a little bit worse than last year.  If it turns out we win 87-88 and those other 2 wins go to LA - again, that wouldn't surprise.  LA's might nearly match us in arms, and bouncebacks from Ethier and (especially) Kemp gets them near us.  The best player in the division is Tulowitzki and Gonzalez isn't far behind - they're a Detroit/Milwaukee stars/scrubs team, but it would take injuries to the top end pitching by the other two clubs to slide them up.  Padres fall back without Gonzalez, and Arizona has no chance.

You're making it up if you don't take Philadelphia - last year, I took Phillies/Red Sox for the Series before the season and don't see much reason not to do it again in 2011.

But for the hell of it I'll say it's the Braves, coming out of the WC, who knock off the defending champs, my beloved Giants, in the playoffs and like the ALCS is Yanks/Sox, the NL is Braves/Phils - and Atlanta gets by them.

Braves/Sox WS.  I'll take Boston.

2011 - The 100 Best Players in Major League Baseball

In February, MLB Network did a list of the 100 best players in baseball right now, not a career list or a "who would you start a team with" - but really a list just for the 2011 season.  Note, it's a real world list, not a fantsay ranking. 

I did not see it at the time, as U-Verse just got MLB network a second and a half ago (but I'm appreciative).  So - as part of my opening week listmaking, here's my ranking.  My plan is to edit in the MLB ranking for comparison.  Hopefully, as you read this, I've already done that.

1. Albert Pujols (Albert Pujols)

2. Troy Tulowitzki (Roy Halladay)

3. Roy Halladay (Joe Mauer)

4. Felix Hernandez (Miguel Cabrera)

5. Hanley Ramirez (Felix Hernandez)

6. Evan Longoria (Tim Lincecum)

7. Ryan Braun (Adrian Gonzalez)

8. Tim Lincecum (Robinson Cano)

9. CCSabathia (Ryan Braun)

10. Kevin Youkilis (Josh Hamilton)

11. Joe Mauer (Mariano Rivera)

12. David Wright (Evan Longoria)

13. Miguel Cabrera (Hanley Ramirez)

14. Joey Votto (Troy Tulowitzki)

15. Prince Fielder (Joey Votto)

16. Alex Rodriguez (Buster Posey)

17. Mark Teixeira (Carlos Gonzalez)

18. Adrian Gonzalez (Kevin Youkilis)

19. Josh Johnson (CC Sabathia)

20. Justin Verlander (Ryan Zimmerman)

21. Matt Holliday (Alex Rodriguez)

22. Cliff Lee (Carl Crawford)

23. Jon Lester (Jon Lester)

24. Ryan Zimmerman (Mark Teixeira)

25. Josh Hamilton (Ryan Howard)

26. Dustin Pedroia (Chase Utley)

27. Brian McCann (Ichiro Suzuki)

28. Jared Weaver (David Price)

29. Nelson Cruz (Prince Fielder)

30. Robinson Cano (Matt Holliday)

31. Carl Crawford (Cliff Lee)

32. Matt Cain (Justin Verlander)

33. Carlos Santana (Josh Johnson)

34. Carlos Gonzalez (SS Choo)

35. Dan Haren (Adrian Beltre)

36. Zack Greinke (Chris Carpenter)

37. Ubaldo Jimenez (Dustin Pedroia)

38. Ian Kinsler (Zack Greinke)

39. Ryan Howard (Ubaldo Jimenez)

40. Clayton Kershaw (Trevor Cahill)

41. Chris Carpenter (Brian McCann)

42. Jay Bruce (David Wright)

43. Buster Posey (Dan Uggla)

44.  Jayson Werth (Brian Wilson)

45. Adrian Beltre (Jayson Werth)

46. Mat Latos (Derek Jeter)

47. Clay Buccholz (Paul Konerko)

48. David Price (Adam Dunn)

49. Matt Kemp (Joakim Soria)

50. Dan Uggla (Jose Bautista)

51. SS Choo (Roy Oswalt)

52. Adam Dunn (Clayton Kershaw)

53. Roy Oswalt (Victor Martinez)

54. Cole Hamels (Matt Cain)

55. Tommy Hanson (Clay Buchholz)

56. Colby Lewis (Andre Ethier)

57.  CJ Wilson (Neftali Feliz)

58. John Danks (Jared Weaver)

59. Yovani Gallardo (Johan Santana)

60. Max Scherzer (Andrew McCutcheon)

61. Jason Heyward (Carlos Marmol)

62.  Rickie Weeks (Brandon Phillips)

63. Hiroki Kuroda (Ian Kinsler)

64.  Victor Martinez (Heath Bell)

65. Jason Bay (Matt Kemp)

66. Geovany Soto (Martin Prado)

67. Trevor Cahill (Nelson Cruz)

68. Phillip Hughes (Jason Heyward)

69. Chad Billingsley (Rickie Weeks)

70. Dan Hudson (Andrew Bailey)

71. Nick Swisher (Cole Hamels)

72. Mike Stanton (Tim Hudson)

73. Chase Utley (Dan Haren)

74. Pedro Alvarez (Mark Reynolds)

75.  Brett Anderson (Rafael Soriano)

76. Shawn Marcum (Mike Stanton)

77. Curtis Granderson (Nick Markakis)

78. Justin Upton (Justin Upton)

79. Jose Reyes (Jose Reyes)

80. Hunter Pence (Curtis Granderson)

81.  Tim Hudson (Jay Bruce)

82.  Javier Vazquez (Shane Victorino)

83. Chipper Jones (Vlad Guerrero)

84. Martin Prado (David Ortiz)

85. Torii Hunter (Austin Jackson)

86. Ryan Dempster  (Jason Bay)

87. Andre Ethier (Scott Rolen)

88. Joe Nathan (Yadier Molina)

89.  Alexei Ramirez (Colby Rasmus)

90. Paul Konerko (Michael Young)

91. Alex Rios (Brian Roberts)

92. Dallas Braden (Vernon Wells?  Really?)

93. Francisco Liriano (Justin Morneau)

94. Ryan Ludwick (Torii Hunter)

95. Heath Bell (Elvis Andrus)

96. Joakim Soria  (Jose Valverde)

97. Mariano Rivera (Jacoby Ellsbury)

98. Justin Morneau (Grady Sizemore)

99.  Pablo Sandoval (Carlos Santana)

100. Jake Peavy (Aroldis Chapman)

My current roster, therefore, of baseball's best players would be this:

C Mauer McCann
1B Pujols Youkilis Cabrera
2B Utley Cano
SS Tulowitzki Ramirez
3B Longoria Wright
LF Braun
CF Hamilton
RF Holliday
OF Crawford
OF Cruz
P Halladay

The 200 Greatest Major League Baseball Players Ever 2011 Ed. #10-1

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The 2012 version of this list begins here.

The previous ten is here.

Here's the previous 190.

200. Harmon Killebrew

199. Goose Goslin
198. Jimmy Collins
197. Jose Cruz
196. Bobby Bonds
195. Graig Nettles
194. Jack Clark
193. Ron Cey
192. Dazzy Vance
191. Jim Bunning
190. Bobby Doerr
189. Buddy Bell
188. Roy Halladay
187. Tony Mullane
186. Ducky Medwick
185. Clark Griffith
184. Carlos Beltran
183. Bret Saberhagen
182. Vladimir Guerrero
181. Enos Slaughter
180. Ken Boyer
179. Joe Gordon
178. Andre Dawson
177. King Kelly
176. Jimmy Wynn
175. Kenny Lofton
174. Joe Torre
173. John Olerud
172. Joe Jackson
171. Stan Hack
170. Bobby Abreu
169. Frank Tanana
168. Buck Ewing
167. Jim O'Rourke
166. Reggie Smith
165. Al Simmons
164. Richie Ashburn
163. Bob Caruthers
162. Billy Williams
161. Darrell Evans
160. Jake Beckley
159. Sammy Sosa
158. Duke Snider
157. Dwight Evans
156. Tommy John
155. Andruw Jones
154. Robin Ventura
153. Luis Tiant
152. Dave Winfield
151. Bob Feller
150. Jack Glasscock
149. Elmer Flick
148. Gabby Hartnett
147. Will Clark
146. Jim Palmer
145. Pud Galvin
144. Willie Stargell
143. Home Run Baker
142. Billy Herman
141. Hal Newhouser
140. Juan Marichal
139. Red Ruffing
138. Dick Allen
137. Bill Dickey
136. Amos Rusie
135. Pee Wee Reese
134. Keith Hernandez
133. Jackie Robinson
132. Monte Ward
131. Don Sutton
130. Willie Randolph
129. Jesse Burkett
128. Wee Willie Keeler
127. Bid McPhee
126. Mike Piazza
125. Harry Heilmann
124. Ted Lyons
123. Kevin Brown
122. Ed Walsh
121. Larry Walker
120. Brooks Robinson
119. Fred Clarke
118. Hoss Radbourn
117. Ryne Sandberg
116. Bobby Wallace
115. Lou Boudreau
114. Curt Schilling
113. Jeff Kent
112. Carlton Fisk
111. Rafael Palmeiro
110. Joe Cronin
109. Ernie Banks
108. Ron Santo
107. Derek Jeter
106. Carl Hubbell
105. Mark McGwire
104. Yogi Berra
103. Billy Hamilton
102. Tim Keefe
101. Edgar Martinez
100. Dennis Eckersley
99. Willie McCovey
98. Rick Reuschel
97. Eddie Murray
96. John Smoltz
95. Craig Biggio
94. Mariano Rivera
93. Don Drysdale
92. Roberto Alomar
91. Gary Sheffield
90. Jim Edmonds
89. Jim Thome
88. Johnny Mize
87. Manny Ramirez
86. Pedro Martinez
85. Scott Rolen
84. Alan Trammell
83. John Clarkson
82. Robin Yount
81. Luke Appling
80. Lou Whitaker
79. Gary Carter
78. Bobby Grich
77. Tim Raines
76. Sam Crawford
75. Tony Gwynn
74. Paul Waner
73. Ed Delahanty
72. Mike Mussina
71. Reggie Jackson
70. Frankie Frisch
69. Rod Carew
68. Paul Molitor
67. Tom Glavine
66. Bill Dahlen
65. Ken Griffey
64. Nolan Ryan
63. Chipper Jones
62. Barry Larkin
61. Ozzie Smith
60. Johnny Bench
59. Charlie Gehringer
58. Carl Yastrzemski
57. Ivan Rodriguez
56. Al Kaline
55. Roberto Clemente
54. George Brett
53. Pete Rose
52. Dan Brouthers
51. Robin Roberts
50. Eddie Plank
49. Frank Thomas
48. Fergie Jenkins
47.  Arky Vaughan
46. Joe DiMaggio
45. Jeff Bagwell
44. George Davis
43. Wade Boggs
42. Roger Connor
41. Albert Pujols
40. Jimmie Foxx
39. Lefty Grove
38. Bob Gibson
37. Steve Carlton
36. Kid Nichols
35. Randy Johnson
34. Bert Blyleven
33. Cap Anson
32. Gaylord Perry
31. Phil Niekro
30. Cal Ripken
29. Warren Spahn
28. Eddie Mathews
27. Christy Mathewson
26. Alex Rodriguez
25. Tom Seaver
24. Greg Maddux
23. Joe Morgan
22. Frank Robinson
21. Lou Gehrig
20. Nap Lajoie
19. Mike Schmidt
18. Grover Cleveland Alexander
17. Rickey Henderson
16. Mickey Mantle
15. Mel Ott
14. Ted Williams
13. Rogers Hornsby
12. Tris Speaker
11. Eddie Collins

Here are the two rosters

Career value:
C Rodriguez (Bench)
1B Gehrig (Anson)
2B Collins (Hornsby)
SS Rodriguez (Ripken)
3B Schmidt (Mathews)
LF Williams (Henderson)
CF Speaker (Mantle)
RF Ott (Robinson)
RHP Alexander (Maddux, Seaver, Mathewson, Niekro, Perry, Blyleven )
LHP Spahn (Johnson)

C Bench (Berra)
1B Gehrig (Pujols)
2B Hornsby (Lajoie)
SS Rodriguez (Vaughan)
3B Schmidt (Mathews)
LF Williams (Jackson)
CF Mantle (Speaker)
RF Ott (Robinson)
RHP Mathewson (Rivera, Martinez, Walsh, Nichols, Alexander, Maddux )
LHP Grove (Johnson)

10. Roger Clemens RHP WARP+WAR=263.9
Red Sox
ERA+ 143
MVPQ 1987 (18.2), 1990 (18.2), 1997 (21.9, w/Toronto),

Mathewson's 6 MVPQ gives him the advantage for the peak roster for me - and now I'm going to reverse course and penalize Rivera's lack of innings and bump him.  Making my RH pitching rotation:

1. Mathewson
2. Martinez
3. Clemens
4. Walsh
5. Rivera
6. Nichols
7. Alexander
8. Maddux

I bump Randy Johnson, keeping only the one lefty.  There's still two pitchers left to come.  

9. Stan Musial LF 264.8
OPS+ 159

I can't do a better Musial v. Williams absent the pre-1950 season by season WARP totals, which currently are not available.  Williams had a significantly better bat - that OPS+ is ridiculous.  Musial's also below both Gehrig and Pujols in OPS+, and given their nearly double digit MVPQ seasons its unlikely he's getting past them there either.

Meaning what - meaning that Musial slides in now as the backup LF.  Emphasis on now.  And it could be Pujols, backing up at first base - who keeps Musial off the all time roster.

8. Honus Wagner SS 284.6
OPS+ 150

As with Williams/Musial, I'd like to see a yearly WARP breakdown of Wagner before comfortably slotting him above ARod - but provisionally, I'll stick with Wagner's slightly superior bat.

7. Cy Young RHP 285.8
Indians/Red Sox
ERA+ 138

Young in after Clemens, who has a better adjusted ERA, and ahead of Walsh, as the weight of the value necessitates he falls there.  Again, subject to revision.

6. Hank Aaron RF 295.8
OPS+ 155
MVPQ 1959 (17.6), 1960 (18.8), 1961 (17.6), 1962 (17.4), 1967 (18.1),

Aaron better, but not by magnitudes, than Ott/Robinson.

5. Ty Cobb CF 298.6
OPS+ 168

Behind Mantle, ahead of Speaker.

4. Walter Johnson RHP 301.3
ERA+ 147

The Train's the best pitcher who ever lived.

3. Willie Mays CF 316
OPS+ 155
MVPQ 1954 (21.1), 1955 (17.6), 1957 (17), 1958 (20.8), 1960 (18.1), 1961 (17.3), 1962 (21.1), 1963 (19.5), 1964 (20.4), 1965 (21.9), 1966 (17.6),

11 MVPQ seasons for Mays.  

2. Barry Bonds LF 358
OPS+ 181
MVPQ 1990 (18.4), 1992 (19.2), 1993 (20.8), 1996 (19.4), 1997 (16.9), 1998 (18.8), 2000 (17), 2001 (24.6), 2002 (23.5), 2003 (19.9), 2004 (24.2),

11 MVPQ seasons for Bonds.  Be useful to see how many Williams had.  Bonds is the LF for now.

1. Babe Ruth RF/LHP 375.1
Yankees/Red Sox
OPS+ 206
ERA+ 122

And we have a winner.

Edit - it's the all star break in 2011; I'm revising - the two numbers I'm using are still WAR (Baseball-reference) and WARP3 (now using Clay Davenport's version).  That means changes.  I'll edit when time permits.  Here is the new top ten.

1.       1Ruth 360

2.       2Bonds 345.2
3.       3Mays 299.9
4.       4Johnson 290.3
5.       5Cobb 282.7
6.       6Clemens 277.2
7.       7Aaron 271
8.       8Young 266
9.       9Wagner 262.1
10.   10.Musial 249.5

The two rosters.

Career value:
C Rodriguez (Bench)
1B Gehrig (Anson)
2B Collins (Hornsby)
SS Wagner (Rodriguez)
3B Schmidt (Mathews)
LF Bonds (Musial)
CF Mays (Cobb)
RF Ruth (Aaron)
RHP Johnson (Young, Clemens, Alexander, Maddux, Seaver, Mathewson,)
LHP Spahn (Johnson)

C Bench (Berra)
1B Gehrig (Pujols)
2B Hornsby (Lajoie)
SS Wagner (Rodriguez)
3B Schmidt (Mathews)
LF Bonds (Williams)
CF Mays (Mantle)
RF Ruth (Aaron)
RHP Johnson ( Mathewson, Clemens, Young, Martinez, Rivera, Walsh, Nichols,)
LHP Grove 

TBOR Athlete of the Month - March 2011+ 2004 Athlete of the Year

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kemba Walker.  Runners-up: Kevin Love, Maya Moore, Brandon Knight

You can get to the January and February winners (Nick Fairley, Aaron Rodgers) here.

In 2004, the Athlete of the Year was Peyton Manning.

January - Matt Leinart (Brian Boucher, Ty Law, Deion Branch)
February - Kevin Garnett (Jameer Nelson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kobe Bryant)
March - Diana Taurasi (Chris Webber, Tracy McGrady, Emeka Okafor)
April - Phil Mickelson (Barry Bonds, Tim Duncan, Roger Clemens)
May - Antonio Tarver (Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Randy Johnson)
June - Rip Hamilton (Vlad Guerrero, Martin St. Louis, Maria Sharapova)
July - Lance Armstrong (Roger Federer, Alfonso Soriano, Todd Hamilton)
August - Michael Phelps (Hicham el Guerrouj, Vijay Singh, Carly Patterson)
September - Roger Federer (Ichiro Suzuki, Bernard Hopkins, Vlad Guerrero)
October - David Ortiz (Adrian Peterson, Carlos Beltran, Manny Ramirez)
November - Peyton Manning (David Greene, Kyle Orton, Matt Leinart)
December - LeBron James (Reggie Bush, Tracy McGrady, Jerome Bettis)

The Weekly Tendown March 20-26 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dear Internet:

Today was a pain in the ass.

Theoretically, I'm on vacation, in my break between courses.  But the online courses for next quarter required a few hours of work today, and my second fantasy baseball draft of the weekend was 2 1/2 hours long.  I've spent virtually the entire day here, in front of this keyboard.

But there were pancakes.  Tasty, tasty pancakes.

Here's Tendown 69.

1. Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc.

I've been filling out bracket sheets in a ritualistic fashion since the tournament expanded to 64 in 1985; this was the first year I was unable to find a USA Today vending machine the Monday morning after Selection Sunday to buy a paper in which to fill out said brackets (a dead newspaper vending machine, I learned from this week's 30 Rock, can be anything you want it to be, say a toilet or a woman) and, although I'm not usually one to confuse correlation with causation, that directly led to  this being the first year that I will not have a single team in the final four.

Worse - I had Butler getting bounced in round one - and I had VCU losing in the play in game.  I was as wrong as I could be.  Do with that what you will as you consider the rest of this week's Tendown.

2. Have You Ever Seen an Animal Make a Mistake?
I had a good movie watching week as I wrapped up the balance of my final exams.  You can watch all of them.

-Sounds Like Teen Spirit, a documentary about a European teen singing contest.
-Mary and Max, a tear-spilling claymation film about pen pals.  Or pedophilia.  Your mileage may vary.
-All The Real Girls, I'm uncertain how it is I've never seen All the Real Girls until 2 days ago, but it was 8 years of error.  Move it to the top of your queue.

Additionally, a terrific week of sitcom TV all in one night on NBC, including an inner circle all time great episode of 30 Rock; Community landing one of it best episodes with a meta-cultural take on Pulp Fiction/My Dinner With Andre/Cougar Town; and Michael Scott getting engaged on The Office, which will make you tear up almost as much as Mary and Max.

I even got in a 4 star wrestling match this week - Davey v. Perkins from January in ROH.  I'm going to my brother's Friday to catch up on much of the January puroresu.

3. What Else Am I Doing This Week?
This will be a big week here at TBOR as I preview both the baseball season and Wrestlemania 27.  Coming this week:

Tuesday: The conclusion of my 5 month countdown of the 200 best players in baseball history.
Wednesday: My ranking of the top 100 players in baseball for the 2011 season.
Thursday: (probably, although I haven't written it yet) my predictions for the 2011 MLB season including the best bets for season long win totals.
Friday: (although I haven't written it yet either) my Kirk Hiner based preview of Wrestlemania 27; you can get to last year's preview here.
Saturday: at my other blog, Counterfactual Wrestlemania 26, for those of you are inclined.

Throw in three outings, an online seminar, and my having 8 classes that start a week from Monday to prepare, and my week off has filled up awfully quickly.

4. And I'll Be Playing The Greatest Video Game Ever Invented

So, I don't really have that many readers (except for you - hey, and thanks), but if you look to the links on the right of the screen and find my most popular posts you'll find at the very top I have a baseball post that has been read a few dozen times a day, every day, for the past year or so.

It's a list of the worst baseball players of all time, and due to a high placement on the various search engines ( go ahead, google "worst baseball players ever" and see to whose site you are directed; I'll wait) I get a lot of traffic for that post.  Enough that I'm considering writing a 50 Worst Baseball Players of All time book, something light, like a hundred pages, a stocking stuffer, priced at maybe $4.99 - or would be thinking of writing it if I hadn't just finished grading exams two days ago and now wasn't staring at having 8 courses to teach for the next 3 months starting a week from tomorrow.

Anyway - that one post put me on the radar of the makers of this fine piece of entertainment linked above, MLB 2K11 - and they offered me a review copy - which, as of Friday afternoon, is now sitting next to my Xbox console.

You: You have an XBox?  You don't strike me as the video game type, Jividen.

Yeah, not so much - I haven't held a joystick since knocking out Soda Popinski in 1989 - but my Lady Type Friend and I bought a Kinect for Christmas, for exercise and couple bonding.  I don't know if I'm accomplishing either, but just this afternoon we shut out Ellen and Courtney (not real people) the ping pong champions, 11-0.  Meaning - I have an XBox - so when the good people at MLB 2K11 asked if I'd like a free copy of their game to review for The Blog of Revelation, I said, "yes.  yes I would, yes."

'Cause free stuff, you know?  Better than that - free stuff because of my writing about sports - and that makes me smile like pancakes.

It's intimidating for a total novice; my brother with whom I watch the wrestling is a hard core video gamer and looks down on the Kinect; that makes sense to me, as all it requires to play are hands and feet, would intuitively understand the four pages of instructions for how to use the XBox controller to play MLB 2K11 (as it's not a Kinect game, meaning you've got to actually be able to play video games to do it, which likely places me out even as it sits in the box).  But it will take some trial and error time for me to have anything meaningful to say about it.

But I'll put in the time.  At least enough to know I'm too dumb to play the game.  This is my promise to corporate America, you send me free stuff, I will talk about your product.  It doesn't mean I'll like your product (although, for enough money, I'll absolutely like your product - are you the Koch Brothers and you'd like me to have a blogconversion to your views about the immorality of the minimum wage and progressive income tax?  Yup.  We can have that conversation.  Absofreakinglutely) but I'll talk about it.  

5. Come On, That's a Strawman - The Right Wing Doesn't Really Think Jesus Was Opposed to the Minimum Wage!

Here's Glenn Beck's "historian" David Barton.

6. The Kind of Chart You Won't Be Seeing Here After I go To Work for the Koch Brothers
As a percentage of GDP, note our current corporate tax revenue

 7. And While You're Reading Charts

Here are 15 more about inequality in America.

Like for example - this:

8. Rosie the Riveter is Anti-Business

At least in Maine

9. While You Still Can
Before the NY Times goes behind the paywall, read this piece about Mike Tyson

10. The World Champion San Francisco Giants
Almost like I planned it this way.  The new baseball season starts Thursday - and just as in the old baseball season it will take a team 11 postseason wins to become World Champion.

Last season, the Giants won 11 postseason games.  Here is the last one.  Game 5 of the World Series

You know how we had that 3 games to 2 lead in '02? Have I ever mentioned that? Funny story - we were 8 outs away with a 5 run lead up a game - and we lost. Was it 8 outs? I think it was 8 outs. Hard to recall now for some reason.

Anyway, there was a year, maybe 2002, where the Giants were really, really close to winning the World Series and did not.  Was it 2002?  Maybe I'm off a year.  Memory plays tricks on you as you get older.

But there was a year when the Giants had a really, really big lead in a World Series and lost.  I'm not sure what year it was.

But it wasn't 2010.

You try to do something for your whole life and then it turns out the easiest part is actually doing it.

We had a couple of early innings baserunners in Game 5; Posey singled in the first; Torres in the third. They took a walk in the third and got a Young single in the fourth. Singles by each club in the 6th. Lincecum and Lee both holding serve into the 7th inning.

Leadoff single by Ross. Followed by an Uribe single.

Two outs later - a 3 run Edgar Renteria home run.  No, seriously.  I'm guessing you could have played MLB2K10 forever and not finished a season with a World Series winning home run by Edgar Renteria.  Even if you were really good with the controller.

The Giants were baseball's best team in 2010 when we scored 3 runs, baseball's second best team when scoring first and also had a sizeable advantage when hitting a home run.

You don't ever say "We're going to win the World Series." - at least not out loud - at least not if you're a San Francisco Giants fan with some vague memory of some game in some year where it looked like we'd win. I can't recall now if it was Russ Ortiz or Jack Sanford leaving with a 5 run lead in the 7th inning.  Not sure if it was Dave Henderson or Scott Speizio who hit the home run to wipe the lead away.

Doesn't matter as much anymore, for whatever reason.

The Renteria homer was the end of the game. They weren't going to score 4 runs off Lincecum. They weren't going to beat us. I sat on my couch that I bought in July.

Actually, that we bought in July - as 8 years after 2002 and 21 years after 1989, the main difference in this World Series as opposed to the previous - is now I'm not alone. I've been with a woman for 3 years - she's my best thing. She makes me pancakes sometimes. It's like winning the World Series every day.

I spent the rest of the game crying and shaking my head. Way more than during Mary and Max. 'Cause how could such a thing be possible? How could it actually happen that the San Francisco Giants were going to win the World Series in 2010?

It happened like this:

Nelson Cruz homered in their 7th to make it 3-1. A Kinsler walk brought the tying run to the plate - but Lincecum struck out Murphy/Molina to end the inning.

Posey singled in our 8th - but otherwise we got out of the way, as if our own baserunners were just postponing the celebration.

In the 8th - Lincecum struck out Moreland.
Andrus grounded back to Lincecum.
Young grounded to Uribe.

You know how sometimes you'll root against Giants bats - it's raining hard, and we're up, and you think "make an out - we have to get through 5 innings."

This was like all of those times put together.

We went down in order and Brian Wilson (a WARP+ WAR of 9.3, our best closer year in a decade) came on with his endorsement friendly giant beard.

Josh Hamilton struck out looking.
Vlad Guerrero grounded the first pitch to short.
Nelson Cruz struck out swinging on a full count.

No Bobby Richardson.

No Earthquake.

No 5 run lead with 8 outs to go. Or something like that.

In 2010, the San Francisco Giants, for the first time ever, became World Series Champions.

It takes 11 postseason wins to do that.  Which isn't all that many now that you think about it.

That's all for this time.  I'll be back next time.  If there is a next time...

Your pal,


2011 Fantasy Baseball Rankings - Top 200

Friday, March 25, 2011

I've got 3 fantasy baseball drafts in the next half dozen days (I finished grading my last exams today; I've got next week off; except that Monday I have to set up my online classes, Wednesday I have to prep my classroom classes, and Thursday I have an online seminar.  I get a week between quarters, occasionally someone will say "four weeks a year off isn't a bad vacation" and I feel like punching that person in the throat) here is my board.  It's geared for a cbssports league, as that's where I play; 5X5, weekly, 10 team, two starting catchers (that's why it pushes catchers higher than it otherwise might).  Also - just as a side benefit - at the end is ESPNs top 300 mixed rankings (my rankings are for my mixed draft).

Incidentally, I've got my list of the 100 best players in baseball ready for next week (non fantasy version).  So many lists for you good people who are by and large just here to look at the one Lance Armstrong picture. 

1. Albert Pujols
2. Hanley Ramirez
3. Ryan Braun
4. Felix Hernandez
5. Carlos Gonzalez
6. Tim Lincecum
7. Roy Halladay
8. Victor Martinez
9. Joe Mauer
10. Joey Votto

11. Miguel Cabrera
12. Dan Haren
13. Ryan Howard
14. Prince Fielder
15. Troy Tulowitzki
16. Carlos Santana
17. Matt Kemp
18. CC Sabathia
19. Matt Holliday
20. Cliff Lee

21. Brian McCann
22. Adrian Gonzalez
23. Carl Crawford
24. Robinson Cano
25. Jared Weaver
26. Mark Teixeira
27. Mat Latos (check injury from today)
28. Buster Posey
29. Geo Soto
30. Jorge Posada

31. Dustin Pedroia
32. Adam Dunn
33. Alex Rodriguez
34. Justin Upton
35. Jose Bautista
36. Jayson Werth
37. Jay Bruce
38. Matt Weiters
39. David Wright
40. Justin Verlander

41. Brandon Phillips
42. Evan Longoria
43. Josh Johnson
44. Nelson Cruz
45. Nick Markakis
46. Corey Hart
47. JP Arencibia
48. Kelly Johnson
49. Matt Cain
50. Miguel Montero

51. Mike Napoli
52. Dan Uggla
53. Ryan Zimmerman
54. Chris Young
55. Roy Oswalt
56. Mike Stanton
57. JD Drew
58. David Price
59. Kevin Youkilis
60. Chris Carpenter

61. Paul Konerko
62. Hunter Pence
63. Clayton Kershaw
64. Tommy Hanson
65. Martin Prado
66. Andrew McCutcheon
67. Jake Peavy
68. Josh Hamilton
69. Cole Hamels
70. Adrian Beltre

71. Alex Rios
72. Jose Reyes
73. Jon Lester
74. Zack Greinke
75. Tsuyoshi Nishioki
76. Ryan Raburn
77. Heath Bell
78. Ted Lilly
79. Vlad Guerrero
80. Ben Zobrist

81. Adam Lind
82. Andre Ethier
83. Javier Vazquez
84. Max Scherzer
85. Kurt Suzuki
86. Joe Nathan
87. Phil Hughes
88. AJ Pierzinski
89. Dex Fowler
90. Billy Butler

91. Carlos Lee
92. SS Choo
93. Ian Kinsler
94. Shane Victorino
95. Chris Iannetta
96. Michael Young
97. Nick Swisher
98. John Buck
99. Jimmy Rollins
100. Alexei Ramirez

101. Mike Aviles
102. Colby Lewis
103. Rickie Weeks
104. Mariano Rivera
105. Juan Uribe
106. Jeremy Hellickson
107. Jacoby Ellsbury
108. Mark Reynolds
109. Rajah Davis
110. Joakim Soria

111. Edwin Encarnacion
112. Delom Young
113. Casey McGahee
114. Chris Coghlan
115. Brian Anderson
116. Hiroki Kuroda
117. Aaron Hill
118. Carlos Pena
119. Jonathan Papelbon
120. Carlos Marmol

121. Dallas Braden
122. Jonathan Broxton
123. Starlin Castro
124. David Ortiz
125. Yunel Escobar
126. Ichiro Suzuki
127. Jason Heyward
128. Dan Hudson
129. Matt Thornton
130. Chad Billingsley

131. Gordon Beckham
132. Shane Marcum
133. Kendrys Morales
134. Alfonso Soriano
135. Ricky Nolasco
136. Adam Jones
137. Brian Roberts
138. Yadier Molina
139. Chris Perez
140. James Shields

141. Clay Buccholz
142. Brian Wilson
143. Josh Beckett
144. Adam Laroche
145. Angel Pagan
146. Huston Street
147. BJ Upton
148. Derrek Lee
149. Gaby Sanchez
150. Derek Jeter

151. Francisco Liriano
152. Felix Rodriguez
153. Justin Morneau
154. Matt Lecroy
155. Yovani Gallardo
156. CJ Wilson
157. Jose Tabata
158. Jason Bay
159. Omar Infante
160. Elvis Andrus

161. Torii Hunter
162. Trevor Cahill
163. Pedro Alvarez
164. Denard Span
165. Matt Cuddyer
166. Aramis Ramirez
167. Carlos Ruiz
168. Drew Stubbs
169. Ervin Santana
170. Howie Kendrick

171. Marlon Byrd
172. Ian Stewart
173. Wandy Rodriguez
174. Juan Pierre
175. Vernon Wells
176. Jonathan Sanchez
177. John Danks
178. Brett Gardner
179. Neil Walker
180. Brett Myers

181. Jose Valverde
182. Aubrey Huff
183. Tim Hudson
184. Pablo Sandoval
185. JJ Putz
186. Neftali Feliz
187. Gio Gonzalez
188. Madison Bumgarner
189. Colby Rasmus
190. Luke Scott

191. Ian Desmond
192. James Loney
193. Jeff Niemann
194. Brandon Lyon
195. Ubaldo Jimenez
196. Lance Berkman
197. John Lackey
198. Curtis Granderson
199. Matt Garza
200. Ryan Dempster

The ESPN list is here.

The 200 Greatest Major League Baseball Players Ever 2011 Ed. #20-11

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The previous ten is here.

180 down - 20 left.  So exciting!  Here are the two running rosters I'm keeping as I work through this list.

Career value:
C Rodriguez (Bench)
1B Gehrig (Anson)
2B Morgan (Gehringer)
SS Rodriguez (Ripken)
3B Mathews (Boggs)
LF Yastrzemski (Delahanty)
CF DiMaggio (Griffey)
RF Robinson (Clemente)
RHP Maddux (Seaver, Mathewson, Niekro, Perry, Blyleven )
LHP Spahn (Johnson, Carlton)

C Bench (Berra)
1B Gehrig (Pujols)
2B Morgan (Robinson)
SS Rodriguez (Vaughan)
3B Mathews (Boggs)
LF Jackson (Delahanty)
CF DiMaggio (Griffey)
RF Robinson (Flick)
RHP Mathewson (Rivera, Martinez, Walsh, Nichols, Maddux, Gibson, )
LHP Grove (Johnson)

Let's get back to the countdown.

20. Nap Lajoie 2B (WAR+WARP)223.1
OPS+ 150

Helpfully, BP is beginning the transition to new translations as I write this.  So, while I do have the previously recorded WARP total, I don't have a yearly breakdown to add to my various sublists. I've spoken to their WARP guy; the yearly breakdown will return, and when it does, I'll be able to come back and edit that material in. 

But for now, it makes the Morgan/Lajoie comparison trickier -  we do have a substantial OPS+ advantage for Lajoie, and more value in the same number of years, such that I'll take him.  But Morgan's 5 straight 20+ MVPQ seasons, unparalleled thusfar, shouldn't be easily pushed aside.

19. Mike Schmidt 3B 223.1
OPS+ 147
MVPQ 1974 (21.6), 1976 (17.4), 1977 (18.5), 1980 (18.7), 1981 (16.1)

Schmidt goes past Mathews, but just by a tiny bit - a mildly better bat, one additional MVPQ, he's just better enough to be better.

Here are the position players with 3+ MVPQ seasons.

Ken Griffey
Ed Delahanty 
Ernie Banks (4)
Ron Santo
Dick Allen
Jackie Robinson
Frank Thomas
Arky Vaughan (4)
Joe Dimaggio
Jeff Bagwell
Wade Boggs (5)
Albert Pujols (8)
Jimmie Foxx
Cal Ripken
Eddie Mathews (4)
Alex Rodriguez (6)
Joe Morgan (5)
Lou Gehrig (9)
Mike Schmidt (5)

And here are the position players with seasons where their WARP/WAR exceeded 20.  SuperMVPQ seasons.

Sosa 2001 (22.5)
Robinson 1951 (21.7)
Boudreau 1948 (22.6)
Banks 1959 (21.2)
 Santo 1967 (20.5)
Biggio 1997 (20.3)
Yount 1982 (21.1)
Yaz 1967 (22.1)
Vaughan 1935 (21.2)
DiMaggio 1941 (20.5)
Bagwell 1994 (20.6)
Pujols 2009 (21.2)
Foxx 1932 (20)
Ripken 1984 (21.3)
Ripken 1991 (23.5)
Rodriguez 2000 (21.5)
Morgan 1972 (22.2)
Morgan 1973 (20.7)
Morgan 1974 (20.1)
Morgan 1975 (24.5)
Morgan 1976 (20)
Gehrig 1927 (23.1)
Gehrig 1934 (20.8)
Schmidt 1974 (21.6)

18. Grover Cleveland Alexander RHP 231.2
ERA+ 136

Ole' Pete slides in after Nichols on the all time rotation, which bounces Gibson.

17. Rickey Henderson LF 232.5
OPS+ 127
MVPQ 1980 (17.3), 1985 (20.5, w/NYY), 1990 (20.8),

Joe Jackson has too much bat to move to the bench, so Rickey takes Delahanty's job.

16. Mickey Mantle CF 232.7
OPS+ 172
MVPQ 1955 (18.7), 1956 (24.7), 1957 (24.4), 1958 (18.7), 1961 (22.7),

The best season for a position player thusfar is Mantle's '56, and the best back to back seasons for a position player thusfar are Mantle's '56/'57.

So - Mantle or DiMaggio?


Significantly better bat.  More MVPQ.  Better peak.  Significantly more career value in a career that was longer, granted, but not crazy so.  Mantle was better.

15. Mel Ott RF 235.4
OPS+ 155

Ott and Frank Robinson had identical careers; there's barely any daylight between them.  Ott's got a tick more career value, and that's going to drive the subjective roster decision to start him.  

14. Ted Williams LF 242.8
Red Sox
OPS+ 190

I'll have to stop updating the sublists now, given the radical deconstruction of the BP database.  Fortunately the aggregate numbers have already been compiled.  The WARP scale will change, and that will probably mean I can't do an update of this list for 2012 without an overhaul (and that seems like an unlikely result) so this might be my definitive list.

Regardless - that's a 190 OPS+ and Rickey (my favorite all time non Giant) is now off the subjective team.

13. Rogers Hornsby 2B 248.5
OPS+ 175

Unsettling to write on a Tuesday that Morgan's 5 straight  seasons of 20+ MVPQ is without parallel and then on a Thursday kick him from the all time roster - but if Lajoie's 150 OPS+ requires that he start - then Hornsby's ridiculous 175, like taking Mickey Mantle's bat and putting it at second base, means Morgan's off the team.  175.  Madness.

12. Tris Speaker CF 255.5
Indians/Red Sox
OPS+ 157

Mantle keeps the starting job.

Speaker or DiMaggio?  Really hard to say - Speaker played nine more seasons allowing him to accumulate the extra value.  They had the same bat.  I'll go Speaker - losing the yearly WARP breakdown has hampered my ability to make these critical decisions at the end of the list.  

11. Eddie Collins 2B 257
Athletics/White Sox
OPS+ 142

Collins doesn't get by either Hornsby or Lajoie.

190 down.  10 to go.  Here are the lineups.

As of the all star break, 2011, here's the latest ranking for 11-20.

11.       Speaker 244.2

12.       Williams 237.7

13.       Henderson 233.4

14.       Hornsby 233.2
15.       Collins 231.9
16. Maddux 221.8
17.       Schmidt 218.1
18. Gehrig 218
19. Seaver 217.6

20.       Alexander 217

Career value:
C Rodriguez (Bench)
1B Gehrig (Anson)
2B Collins (Hornsby)
SS Rodriguez (Ripken)
3B Schmidt (Mathews)
LF Williams (Henderson)
CF Speaker (Mantle)
RF Ott (Robinson)
RHP Alexander (Maddux, Seaver, Mathewson, Niekro, Perry, Blyleven )
LHP Spahn (Johnson)

C Bench (Berra)
1B Gehrig (Pujols)
2B Hornsby (Lajoie)
SS Rodriguez (Vaughan)
3B Schmidt (Mathews)
LF Williams (Jackson)
CF Mantle (Speaker)
RF Ott (Robinson)
RHP Mathewson (Rivera, Martinez, Walsh, Nichols, Alexander, Maddux )
LHP Grove (Johnson)

Subject to change when the yearly WARP breakdown of the earlier 20th century players returns.   Next week - the list concludes.

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