Thursday, October 30, 2014

Game Picks and preseason predictions wrap up

Let's put a bow on this. The San Francisco Giants are now the oddest dynasty in the history of Major League Baseball. For the fifth straight season I followed and predicted every game and haven't missed a day doing so in three years. Call me the Lou Gehrig of game pickers. I also made some preseason predictions. And we will see how those went. First the game picks.
I must not count very well because the five seasons all have different numbers of games. I remember auditing last year and this year. But I did not audit my results the years before. So those final tallies are a bit dubious to me. After the audit, here are this year's results and how they stack up with past years:
Season       Record        Post Season    Correct Percentage
  • 2014        1373-1115         14-18              .552
  • 2013        1395-1085         21-19              .563
  • 2012        1350-1037         16-20              .565
  • 2011        1386-1078         24-14              .562
  • 2010        1379-1050                                .568
It is very clear that I had my worst season and certainly my worst post season. I should be getting, should I not? An in-law of mine went to court after a dozen or so speeding tickets. The judge looked at the tally and said, "Slow learner, aren't you?"  I guess I am a slow learner too.
Okay, for my preseason predictions, here they are copied with comments:
  • Derek Jeter will play more games than Jose ReyesNailed it. 145 - 143
  • Phil Hughes will win thirteen games for the Twins.  Nailed it. He won more.
  • Albert Pujols puts up a .900 OPS.  Nope. .790
  • The Angels will be the best team in the AL West.  Nailed it.
  • Don Mattingly will say everything is fine between him and Yasiel Puig at least 64 times during the season.  This was a low estimate.
  • Puig will have more steals than TOOTBLANs, but not by much. Wrong. More TOOTBLANS.
  • Billy Hamilton will have an OBP of .305 and steal 80 bases. Reds fans will still think that's better than Choo.  Nope (lower), Nope (lower) and Yup.
  • My wife will call Dustin Pedroia, "Jammy Pants," at least 78 times during the season. She'll call David Ortiz, "Big Poopy," half as many times.  Under.
  • Brian Roberts will play more games than Steve Lombardozzi and have a higher WAR.  Yup and Yup.
  • Chris Davis will hit 38 homers.  Not even close.
  • Ryan Howard will drive in 100 runs and still be worth less than 2.5 wins.  Missed it by five ribbies (95) and yup.
  • The Rangers will come in third place in the AL West.  Nope. Last.
  • I will win the It's About the Money fantasy league and then will not believe it was my first time ever playing.  I came in third out of twelve. Not bad though.
  • Instant Replay will cut down manager ejections by 67%.  It was actually higher this year: 199-187
  • A.J. Pierzynski will still block the plate and get away with it. Probably right.
  • David Robertson will have 40 saves and blow six of them and people will think he's terrible. 39 / 5, so I was close. And yes.
  • The Padres will play over .500 baseball and the Rockies will come in last place. Nope and Nope.
  • Every team in the AL East will finish the season with an 84-78 record.  This was a joke. But the Yankees did have that record.
  • The Cleveland Indians will push hard for the division despite not being able to beat the Tigers.  Sort of.
  • Starlin Castro will not be the starting shortstop for the Cubs by the All Star Break. Wrong.
  • Wil Myers will have a higher OPS than Evan Longoria.  Wrong.
  • John Mayberry will forever be in in RFD (Ryne's freakin' doghouse).  Yup
  • Adam Dunn gets traded by the trade deadline. The Brewers will get him. Right and wrong.
  • Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion will combine for 80 homers.  69
  • Matt Harvey will pitch in September. Wrong.
  • Madison Bumgarner and Stephen Strasburg will really challenge Clayton Kershaw for the NL Cy Young Award. Not really.
  • Tim Hudson will win twelve games for the Giants. Wrong.
  • For the fourth year in a row, I will have no idea who lives in the MLB Fan Cave and that is fine with me.  True.
  • The Twins' home opener will feature music from the movie, FrozenI have no idea.
  • Several White Sox youngsters will have good seasons and give the fan base hope. Yup.
  • For the fourth year in a row, Alcides Escobar will have more stolen bases than walks. Nailed it. Five years in a row!
  • The NL East finish: Nats, Braves, Mets, Marlins, Phillies.  Nailed it!
  • Josh Johnson will come back and pitch a complete game shutout and then hurt himself flinching from a pie in the face.  Alas, no.
  • Randy Wolf will get ten starts someplace.  Four
  • Max Scherzer will again win the Cy Young Award. But Justin Verlander has better pillow talk. Wrong.
  • At least one of Joe Maddon's road trip ideas will be a complete dud. Yup.
  • The Dodgers will have a Kangaroo Court and Zack Greinke won't want to go. No idea what I was thinking here.
  • A GM will get fired this year. Contenders: Seattle's, Dbacks' or Phillies'.  Nailed it. Dbacks.
  • There will be 3,258,393 hyperbolic statements about Derek Jeter this year from broadcast booths around the country.  More like double that.
  • Giancarlo Stanton will hit 35 homers but miss 40 games due to leg injuries. He only missed 17 games because he got hit in the face with a baseball. But he did hit 37 homers.
  • The NL West will finish: Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Dbacks, Rockies.   Flip the Dbacks and Rockies and it's correct.
  • Matt Carpenter will have a slightly disappointing offensive season.  Yup.
  • Buster Posey will win the batting title. He didn't miss by much.
  • Joey Votto will drive in 90 runs and nobody will be happy with him. Nope and Yup.
  • Adrian Gonzalez will still be my least favorite player. Yup
  • Josh Hamilton will have a very good season. Oh gosh, Josh. No. Wrong. Oof.
  • The Mariners will struggle not because of their offense but because of their pitching. Wrong. Offense not good enough.
  • Ryan Zimmerman will play first more than third this year. He did play more outfield than third, so, sort of.
  • The Yankees will trade a catcher by the deadline. Nope.
  • Bill Cowher and Kirk Gibson will create a new reality show and try to out intense face each other. I still like the idea.
  • The Carlos Santana third base thing will work out okay.
  • The Houston Astros will win 74 games.  They won 70. Not far off.
  • The NL Central will finish: Cards, Pirates, Reds, Brewers, Cubs. Flip the Brewers with the Reds and I had it.
  • Ryan Braun will have a great season.
  • The AL Central will finish: Indians, Tigers, Royals, White Sox, Twins. Put the Indians behind the Royals and I would have been right.
  • Ron Washington will bunt no matter what those numbers guys say.  Yup...until he quit.
  • Adeiny Hechavarria will have a slugging percentage over .300 this year. But not by much.  .356. So I would call this wrong.
  • Aroldis Chapman will throw a pitch 100 MPH and staples will be flying everywhere like that witch in the Bugs Bunny cartoons.  I was too afraid to look.
  • Aaron Harang will make Braves' fans pine for the days of Freddy GarciaWrong. Harang was actually pretty good.
  • Freddie Freeman will have a better season than Paul
  • The Padres won't trade Chase Headley because they will be in the wild card hunt. Traded him to the Yankees. Wrong.
  • The AL West will finish: Angels, A's, Mariners, Rangers, Astros. Flip the Astros and Rangers and I had it.
  • Chone Figgins will be a nice story this season. If he was, it wasn't about baseball.
  • Jose Molina will share his framing secret as pretending the baseball is a moon pie. I'll have to ask Hanigan if he got moon pies.
  • Dexter Fowler will have a season to make the Rockies look idiotic.  Eh. Not really.
  • Manny Machado will surprise us all with how many games he plays and how well he does.  Nuh uh.
  • Yunel Escobar will turn back into Yunel Escobar.  Nailed it.
  • The Phillies will work out trades for both Cliff Lee and Jimmy Rollins and both will say no and refuse to go.  Both were offered up and both said they wouldn't go.
  • Tanaka will win rookie of the year and everyone will say the rules need to change. He would have without the elbow thing. But Abreu gets the same argument.
  • PED suspensions will become tougher thereby punishing Hispanic players even more. Have to study.
  • The Rockies will have a problem with pot in the stands. Did they?
  • And last but not least, Mike Trout will again be the best player in baseball and still not win the MVP Award.  He will win the award, I think.
I hope you enjoyed the baseball season and stopping by here on occasion. I will remain active in the off season and I hope you come back and visit often.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How wrong could I have been? Hey, I was only off by ten runs. No biggie. The Royals truly surprised me. It wasn't a surprise that Jake Peavy struggled or that the Giants would be in big trouble if they had to go to long relief. I am surprised by Yordano Ventura who ended up being every bit as good in this series as Madison Bumgarner. And so we are headed to Game Seven. Everyone's dream scenario is a full series.
My prediction for the series is already toast. My chance of getting even in the post season is gone. After all, this is the last game of the MLB season for 2014. There won't be another one and there won't be a game pick after this one. But perhaps I can make it a good one at least and end with a correct pick. That would be nice.
The pick:
  • The Royals over the Giants: The home field advantage is going to make a difference after all. The Giants can't water down the infield. The Royals can make theirs rock hard. With Tim Hudson and Jeremy Guthrie on the mound, relief pitching will make a big difference. The Royals will have that advantage. The home fans will be rocking unless the Giants score often and early to quiet the crowd. That could happen. This entire series, I had thought that the script had been written with the Giants destined to complete their every-other-year trifecta. But this script has a surprise ending. What you expect does not happen. The Cinderella really will live happily ever after.
Yesterday: 0-1, Post Season: 14-17, Season: 1379-1107

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday: October 28, 2014

These posts are where I try to objectively pick which teams are most likely to win their games on any given day. For the first time in doing this, I feel like I have painted myself into a corner (cliche alert). I predicted before the Series a six game victory for the Giants. If I pick the Giants, it is a nod to my earlier prediction. If I pick the Royals, I am calling myself stupid. In the words of Oliver Hardy, "Here's another fine mess you've gotten me into."
Some what am I going to do?
The pick:
  • The Giants over the Royals: No, it's not about calling myself stupid. I am usually self-deprecating enough. I can take it. No, this is about a team that has been here twice before. The Giants are going to complete their every-other-year miracle even if Jake Peavy is the starter and they could not hit Yordano Ventura the last time they faced him. It doesn't matter if you do not want history to repeat itself. It's like one of those old films where the character is in a room and the walls are squeezing him in no matter how much he tries to hold them back. Hunter Pence will do something special. Or Pablo Sandoval will do something, or Buster Posey. Pick a name. Somebody who has been here before is going to make sure it happens again.

Sunday: 1-0, Post Season: 14-16, Season: 1379- 1106

Sunday, October 26, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: October 26, 2014

I was wrong again and I was right again. I was wrong because I did not factor in Yusmeiro Petit and his ability to rescue San Francisco's starter. I was right because I knew the starting pitchers in this game would not pitch well.  They did not. I was wrong because the Royals over-relied on a kid who was pitching for a college team just two months ago and gave him such a large responsibility when he is nothing but a babe and should be at the Arizona Fall League and not the World Series.
I was right that if the Giants had a lead before the sixth or seventh inning, that would spell trouble for the Royals. But I was wrong in my final pick. Oh well.
The good news is that we are getting a nice and long seesaw battle between two evenly matched and flawed teams in this World Series. Let's face it, nobody really wants to see the season end yet. Tonight features the Giants' last home game of the season in a Series knotted at two games each. And we are back to the Game One starters.
The Picks:
  • The Giants over the Royals: Anyone who would pick against Madison Bumgarner in this post season is either the most courageous of souls or knows something I don't know. MadBum has been sterling in every start this post season. I am a bit nervous that he does his best work on the road and not at his home park, but still. He is the best pitcher in this post season and I cannot pick against him. James Shields has never put the fear into me to pick against. Yes, he is a smart and talented pitcher. But I would never call him an ace. Am I the only one who thinks Danny Duffy should have been in the Royals' rotation this post season?

Yesterday: 0-1, Post season: 13-16, Season: 1378-1106

Saturday, October 25, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: October 25, 2014

I was correct and I was wrong. I ultimately picked the Giants, which was wrong. But I did say the Giants would be in deep trouble if they did not get the lead off of Jeremy Guthrie in the first five innings. They did not and that was the correct part. Still, it ends my win streak and instead of finally bouncing back to .500 (from the lower depths), I am back to two games under for the post season.
Every game in a short series is important, but this one is really so. If the Giants go down, 3-1, then they are in a heap of trouble. But if they can tie the series, we will have a good long one where anything can happen. Will the Giants get it done? Let's take a look.
The pick:
The Royals over the Giants: Frankly, I do not trust either Jason Vargas for the Royals or Ryan Vogelsong for the Giants. They have similar meh stats for their careers, but have had success in the post season. In fact, Ryan Vogelsong has never lost a post season game and he has pitched quite a few of them. This post season is the first for Vargas and he has put two good games together even though the home run bug has plagued him a little bit. My big reason for picking the Royals is that Vogelsong simply does not go deep into games. He has averaged 5.77 innings per start this season and hasn't even gotten to the sixth inning in this post season. The middle of the Giants' bullpen is hard to choose at that point. Vargas does go deeper into games and even if he doesn't, the bullpen is killer all the way through. Key match-ups are Vargas against Hunter Pence and Buster Posey and perhaps, Michael Morse. Basically, if the Royals get to the sixth inning tied, they win.
Yesterday: 0-1, Post season: 13-15, Season: 1378-1105

Friday, October 24, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Friday: October 24, 2014

The World Series resumes tonight in San Francisco with the Giants and Royals each winning a game in Kansas City. I laugh when I see news outlets calling tonight's game a "Pivotal Game." Well, of course! The teams are tied and one team is going to go one up. That would be the definition of pivotal, would it not? We all need our headlines.
And tonight's pitching line is very interesting. Either pitcher could be brutal, or he could be brilliant. It's all a matter of how much they are able to throw the ball where they want to throw it. The go-go Royals can play gap ball and run like crazy. But the Giants can mash. It will be interesting.
Here is the pick:
  • The Giants over the RoyalsTim Hudson has not won a post season game since 2001. He has had one great start this post season and one not so great. He has not walked a batter and I don't suppose he will walk the free-swinging Royals. It is the ability to limit walks that I like him over Jeremy Guthrie. Guthrie is a true contact pitcher who relies on the good defense to keep his BABIP against down. He has the perfect team behind him to accomplish that for him. Hudson has gone deeper into his post season games which he needs to do tonight. The Giants don't need another bullpen fiasco. Guthrie will not go deep into the game. But the Royals' bullpen is lock down. The Giants must go ahead early and stay there. If they don't, they lose. Like I said, this is going to be very interesting. The Royals will miss having the DH.
Last time out: 1-0, Post Season: 13-14, Season: 1328-1104

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Corey Kluber and Clayton Kershaw win Walter Johnson Award

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) has announced that Corey Kluber barely edged out Felix Hernandez for the American League Walter Johnson Award and that Clayton Kershaw won every vote for the National League award.
The official ballot of the General Chapter of the BBA (made up of writers who write generally about baseball and not about one particular team or area) had King Felix just barely ahead of Kluber. The BBA tallied all the ballots from the various chapters to come up with the winners of the award for 2014 which celebrates the best pitchers in each league.
Kershaw was also an overwhelming winner on the General Chapter's ballot with every first place vote except one. Take note of the fact that both winners share the exact same initials!
For the official announcement, press release and voting results, click the link in the first paragraph of this post to the official BBA site.
Congratulations to both Corey Kluber and Clayton Kershaw for their terrific seasons which earned these awards.

MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: October 22, 2014

Game One of the World Series went as I expected it to go and my overall post season record is inching closer to the .500 mark.  I figured the Royals would have trouble against Madison Bumgarner and they certainly did. I also thought that James Shields would get hit around a little bit and that happened as well. And once again, the visiting team won the opening game in a post season series. It has happened over and over again this year.
Hunter Pence sure is fun to watch, isn't he? He is like the Joe Everyman of baseball.
The home field advantage is broken. Like breaking a serve in tennis, the Giants have taken away the one big advantage the Royals had. But the Royals aren't dead yet. They have proven that they cannot beat one of the best pitchers in baseball and a true post season stud. Tonight is a different story and it is a truly perplexing game to pick. Let's look at it closely.
The pick:
  • The Royals over the Giants: First, Jake Peavy is a long shot to be effective. He now has an ERA over seven in his post season career. Add that to the fact that Peavy is 1-5 lifetime at Kauffman Stadium with a 6.42 ERA and you have a recipe for good things to happen for the Royals. The question is: What can we expect from Yordano Ventura? He is not exactly predictable. He was great against the Angels in the ALDS but was accosted a bit by the Orioles in the ALCS. And that's the problem. He is inconsistent. He is slightly better at home in his career with better control than on the road. I think he will be okay tonight. Peavy will get a short leash and a lot will depend on how many runs the Royals can score early. If they fail to push across runs against Peavy, they will have trouble winning the game. All things considered, I have to go with the Royals in this one.
Yesterday: 1-0, Post Season: 12-14, Season: 1377-1104