Monday, April 21, 2014
Outlandish October Predictions
Ah, baseball season. It's a great time of renewed hope for many fans. So long as a team can stay close to .500 by the end of May, the hope remains. But for some teams, a quick start can mean the fantasy of an October run. For some teams this is an annual hope. For others, well, it's been a while. But let's look at a few teams and their chances of staying at least warm.
At 12-5, the Brewers are off to the best start in baseball. I didn't see that coming. Mainly this has been the product of excellent pitching. In 17 games, the Brewers already recorded 13 quality starts — best in MLB. They are also first in WHIP (1.09), third in ERA (2.63), and fifth in batting average allowed (.220). Their hitting has been about average (70 runs scored is ranked 13 in MLB).
The rotation simply looks like it has over-performed. Yovani Gallardo has been a good pitcher throughout his career, but don't expect his ERA to stay at 1.46. Wily Peralta is a pitcher who may be having a breakout season. Last year, he was 11-15 for the Brewers with a 4.37 ERA and a WAR of -1.1. But the 24-year-old Dominican has good stuff. If he can stop giving up the long ball, he could be dangerous.
Marco Estrada is another young arm that could see some improvement this season. What worries me about the Brewers' rotation is that the two players most prone to be the ace of the rotation are Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza. Lohse is a veteran journeyman who had three great seasons (and two mediocre) seasons in St. Louis. His performance last year of 11-10 with a 3.35 ERA and nearly 200 innings is nothing to sneeze at, but he's more of a number two or three in the rotation than an ace. Garza is in the same boat. At times he is brilliant, but he has never been consistent enough to be an ace. He'll have an ERA between 3 and 4 and that's just the way it is.
If the Brewers want to compete for the NL Central crown, either Peralta or Estrada will have to break out and become the ace of the staff. Lohse, Garza, and Gallardo just aren't going to do it. I doubt the Brewers will win the division. The Cardinals are just too good. But they could compete for a wildcard spot if the Pirates and Reds stay cold. I think the Brewers will finish between fifth and eighth in the National League.
New York Yankees
They're not that hot at 10-7, but anybody on top of the AL East is in a good position. And considering how gutted this team is from last year, well it's surprising they are winning games. And it's not surprising at all considering this is the New York Yankees. The Yankees have a balanced approach — performing above average in most batting and pitching statistics.
The question for the Yankees is staying healthy and the big question mark is Michael Pineda. He looks pretty imposing, but the guy hasn't pitched since 2011. He's prone to another injury. If he gets one, I doubt the Yankees will make the playoffs. But if he stays healthy, look out. The Yankees can always manage to find hitting somewhere. CC Sabathia looks like he's on the downward slope of his career, but the Yankees would be a terribly dangerous team to meet in October. If they can stay healthy and survive the AL East, look out.
The Braves success is by no means guaranteed, but along with the Dodgers and the Cardinals, they look like one of the favorites for the National League. But we'll see if the Nationals can make a better push to challenge them for the division title this year. The Braves are a solid organization with a pitching staff that looks pretty good right now. They are even better than Milwaukee's over-performing crew.
Currently, the Braves are first in ERA (2.28), first in quality starts (13), second in WHIP (1.11), and second in batting average allowed (2.13). But much like the Brewers staff, the Braves have some up and coming talent and a couple of veterans who are good, but nobody that has proven to be an ace. However, Julio Teheran could very well be that guy. This season will tell a lot about Teheran and the Braves' future. Oh, and Freddie Freeman can hit the crap out of the ball. So that's good for the Braves. If I had to pick an early World Series champ, I'd probably go with the Braves.
A few players have also showcased red-hot electricity in the early part of the season. But are these flashes in the pan or prolonged quality showing forth?
Where did this guy come from? The Twins finally have a real designated hitter by the look of things. In 16 games, Colabello already has seven multi-hit games, and four multi-RBI games. He is first in the AL with 19 RBI and fifth in batting average at .350. I don't expect these numbers to stay so high, but if Colabello can keep his strikeout numbers down and draw a few more walks, I think a season with 120 RBI and a .300 batting average would be within reach.
The 6'6", 240-pound right fielder looks like the LeBron James of baseball. What a beast! Currently, Stanton is batting .329 with an OBP of .390 with s6 home runs and 26 RBI (best in MLB). Stanton's biggest problem in the past is simply that he plays for the Marlins. In 2011, Stanton had 34 home runs and a batting average of .262, but only managed 87 RBI. In 2012, Stanton had 37 home runs and a batting average of .290, but only managed 86 RBI. (Granted, that was in only 123 games.)
Staying healthy is a concern as Stanton only saw 116 games in 2013. But I can't believe this guy has never managed 100 RBI. He's over a quarter of the way there already in just over 1/10 of the games this season. I think he'll make it this season, but he probably won't make it to his projected number of 248 RBI, but 140 might be within reach if the Marlins continue to put guys on base for Stanton to knock home. If Stanton can keep his average above .300 and the Marlins aren't one of the worst five teams in baseball (not terribly likely), Stanton might make an interesting NL MVP pick.
At age 35, Buehrle is off to a great start in his second year in Toronto. He pitched Saturday afternoon, but as of Saturday morning he was 3-0 with an ERA of .086. Buehrle is a workhorse, pitching 200 innings each of the past 13 seasons. He's always been pretty good, but he's only made the all-star roster three times (2002, 2005, 2009) and he's only started four post-season games. In 2005, he finished fifth in the Cy Young vote, but hasn't received a vote in any other season. He's not the type of guy you expect to go 24-3 with a 2.00 ERA (not that you really expect that of anyone). But he could have one of those years with how he has started. In general, Buehrle just gives up too many hits to post those numbers. He has allowed the most hits in four out of 13 seasons. So maybe 20 wins, maybe an ERA under 3, maybe even his best season ever. Is that enough to win the Cy Young? Why not?
The Twins are on shaky ground with Colabello and Kyle Gibson off to such great starts, but only managing an 8-8 record to start the season. And despite Gibson's 3-0 record, 0.93 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and .179 batting average against, the Twins are still 28 in ERA with a 5.04 average. Aside from Gibson's two quality starts (he only went five innings in his first outing), there are only three others in the Twins first 16 games. Sorry, Twins fans, but don't be surprised if Gibson ends the season 10-15 with an ERA of around 4. He might not be that bad, but he's too good to be true right now.
Harang is with his sixth team in five years. He's been 16-6 and he's been 6-17. Last year, he was 5-12 with an ERA of 5.40. He's currently 3-1 with an ERA of only 0.70. He may very well thrive in Atlanta, but this guy will wear down as the season goes on. He can certainly hover around 3.50 ERA and win 15 games, but he's no Cy Young candidate. Unlike Gibson who might be the Twins only hope, Harang has a pretty good rotation around him with veteran Ervin Santana, and up and coming stars Alex Wood and Julio Teheran. Last year, at only 22-years-old, Teheran was 14-8 with a 3.20 ERA and 170 strikeouts. The kid could prove to be a real star. In the end, I think Harang might very well be the fourth best starter on the team. So don't expect more than 15 wins out of him.