SportsTemps home

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jorge Posada and Catchers of his Era

What if I told you it was Posada and not Jeter that was the engine that drove the Yankee dynasty?

Last week when Jorge Posada went to Joe Girardi and asked out of the lineup, ESPN grabbed the story and ran with it. Regardless of how the organization felt about the situation, it's clear Posada is struggling. Going into that game was only hitting .165 and had lost his catching duties.  What do you do with a DH who can't hit?  The Yankees are trying to work their way around this situation while remaining loyal to one of the key cogs in their latest dynasty.  Who knows if Posada will start hitting but I'm guessing the Yankees have a deadline in mind in which they expect results or he'll be asked to retire/be released.
Anyway, all this hoopla got me thinking about what a great player Posada has been. Is he a hall of famer? My gut says no but with all those postseason appearances I wouldn't rule it out. Where does he rank in terms of catchers all time? That's a loaded question especially since his career hasn't ended (officially) yet. How does he rank among catchers of his era? That's a question that I'm not afraid to tackle. Using Baseball-reference's readily available data, I went and ranked catchers of the past thirty years in terms of Wins Above Replacement (WAR - quite possibly the best statistic there is in determining how valuable a player is in any given season).
Here's the top 10 in career WAR when only considering games from 1980-2010:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Examining the leaderboard

With just over 25% of the season complete I thought it would be a fun exercise to look at some statistical leaders in baseball. I don't think this needs much more explanation so without further ado:

American League                          National League                   
Batting Average 
Batting Average 

1. Jose Bautista Tor        .364 1. Matt Holliday StL        .356

2. Matt Joyce TB             .354 2. Lance Berkman StL     .349

3. Michael Young Tex     .331 3. Placido Polanco Phi    .333

4. Adrian Gonzalez Bos  .326 4. Joey Votto Cin             .331

5. Howie Kendrick LA     .322
5. Matt Kemp LA             .324

Runs Scored
Runs Scored

1. Jose Bautista Tor           37 1.Drew Stubbs Cin           33

2. Miguel Cabrera Det      33
2. Joey Votto Cin              32

3. Ben Zobrist TB             31
t. Colby Rasmus StL         32

4. Curtis Granderson NY  30
t. Ryan Braun Mil             32

t. Howie Kendrick LA      30
5. Matt Holliday StL         31

t. Lance Berkman StL       31

Home Runs
Home Runs

1. Jose Bautista Tor           18 1. Ryan Braun                    12

2. Curtis Granderson NY  14
2. Alfonso Soriano Chi     11

3. Mark Teixeira NY         11
t. Troy Tulowitzki Col       11

4. Paul Konerko Chi         10
4. Paul Konerko Chi         11

5. Adrian Beltre Tex         10
5. Four tied at                  10


1. Adrian Gonzalez Bos   41
1. Prince Fielder Mil         35

2. Adrian Beltre Tex         37
t. Ryan Braun Mil              35

3. Paul Konerko Chi         35
t. Ryan Howard Phi          35

4. Curtis Granderson NY 34
t. Lance Berkman StL       35

5. Michael Young Tex      31
5. Hunter Pence Hou       33

t. Jose Bautista Tor           31

Stolen Bases
Stolen Bases

1. Jacoby Ellsbury Bos    14
1. Jose Reyes NY                16

t. Elvis Andrus Tex          14
t. Michael Bourn Hou       16

3. Coco Crisp Oak           13
3. Drew Stubbs Cin           14

4. Rajai Davis Tor           12
t. Ian Desmond Was         14

t. Sam Fuld TB                12
5. Matt Kemp LA               12

t. Jason Bourgeois Hou    12

Wins Wins
1. Jered Weaver LA 6 1. Kyle McClellan StL 6
t. Josh Tomlin Cle 6 t. Roy Halladay Phi 6
t. Jon Lester Bos 6 16 tied at 5
t. Max Scherzer Det 6
t. Trevor Cahill Oak 6
1. Josh Beckett Bos 1.73 1. Josh Johnson Fla 1.64
2. Trevor Cahill Oak 1.79 2. Jaime Garcia StL 1.64
3. Dan Haren LA  1.84 3. Jair Jurrjens Atl 1.80
4. Alexi Ogando Tex 2.13 4. Kyle Lohse StL 2.17
5. Zach Britton Bal 2.14 5. Roy Halladay Phi 2.21
Strikeouts Strikeouts
1. Justin Verlander Det 71 1. Roy Halladay Phi 80
2. Dan Haren LA 66 2. Clayton Kershaw LA 70
3. Jered Weaver LA 65 3. Tim Lincecum SF 69
4. Felix Hernandez Sea 64 4. Cliff Lee Phi 68
5. Jon Lester Bos 63 t. Matt Garza Chi 68
Innings Pitched Innings Pitched
1. Dan Haren LA 73 1/3 1. Roy Halladay Phi 77 2/3
2. Justin Verlander Det 73 2. Ian Kennedy Ari 66 2/3
3. Felix Hernandez Sea 69 2/3 3. Kyle Lohse StL 66 1/3
t. Jered Weaver LA 69 2/3 4. Tim Hudson Atl 66
5. C.J. Wilson Tex 68 1/3 5. Livan Hernandez Was 64 1/3
Saves Saves
1. Mariano Rivera NY 13 1. Leo Nunez Fla 16
2. Chris Perez Cle 12 2. Francisco Rodriguez NY 15
3. Jose Valverde Det 10 3. Huston Street Col 14
t. Brandon League Sea 10 4. Brian Wilson SF 13
5. Kyle Farnsworth TB 9 5. Joel Hanrahan Pit 12
t. Brian Fuentes Oak 9

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sammy Wanjiru

Sammy Wanjiru is a name most people probably don't recognize.  Being a long distance runner rarely is accompanied with fame in this part of the world afterall.  Unfortunately, he won't get a chance to add to his fame or records due to his strange and unexpected death this week. Think Steve Prefontaine only with the ability to break down time barriers that were believed impossible as recently as five years ago.  

Like most runners Wanjiru began running track as a teenager. He was very successful in the 10,000m and his coaches wisely realized he had potential to dominate longer distances. At the age of 18, two weeks after destroying the junior 10,000m record by 23 seconds, Wanjiru set the World Record in the half-marathon in Rotterdam (a fast course). His official time is listed at 59:16 which was one second faster than Paul Tergat's previous record. This got everyone's attention. I remember talking to my friends about how impressive a record it was--and by such a young person! If a bunch of kids in the midwest noticed then imagine the publicity in Europe and Kenya.  Sammy Wanjiru was officially on the map.

Evidently Wanjiru decided he could become a great marathoner also.  He ran London in 2008, a good warmup for the upcoming Olympics, and finished in second place with a great time of 2:05:24.  He more than held his own in a decent field that included Ryan Hall, Richard Kiplagat, and Abderrahim Goumri.  

Later that year, he would accomplish a feat in which he may be most remembered for. In a grueling race with temperatures at an uncomfortably high level, Wanjiru blazed through the marathon at a pace that had never been accomplished at an Olympics.  Finishing in first place by over 30 seconds, Wanjiru not only took home Kenya's first ever marathon gold medal but he also shattered the Olympic record by over three minutes. Still, Wanjiru wasn't done.  

In 2009 Wanjiru went back to London and this time ran a 2:05:10, winning the race and setting a new course record. This affirmed his status as one of the top three marathoners in the world.  In the fall Wanjiru went to Chicago and with me in attendance (and John Krumsee only 32 minutes behind) ran the fastest marathon ever on American soil.  According to Wikipedia, that win moved him to number one in the World Marathon Rankings and with it a nice income of $500,000.  Wanjiru was able to defend his title in Chicago this past year giving him three wins in the World Marathon Majors plus an Olympic gold medal in just over two years.

In my opinion, Wanjiru was on his way to becoming the greatest long-distance runner of all-time. Though he does not hold any world records in the marathon (nor any top 10 times for that matter), he accomplished more things by the time he turned 24 than most elite runners do in their entire careers. Considering elite marathoners tend to peak in their late twenties and early thirties it seems there was a good chance for improvement.  He stated he felt he was ready to challenge and break the impossible "two-hour barrier" and I believe if anyone on this Earth could do it it would be Sammy Wanjiru.

Instead the world is left stunned by his death while wondering what could have been. We'll never know but it's fun to imagine.

  • World Junior Record for 10,000m (26:41.75)
  • Three time World Record Holder in half-marathon (58:33)
  • 2009 & 2010 Chicago Marathon winner
  • 2009 London Marathon winner
  • 2008 Olympic Record for Marathon
  • 2009 Ranked #1 in World Marathon Rankings 
  • Personal record in marathon: 2:05:10 (London 2009)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Prospect 4 Pack

Unlike the two previous seasons, I did not do a prospect watch this year.  Part of it was because I didn't see a position that is overflowing with talent like center field and catcher.  The other reason is because I thought I could just do periodic updates to see how the top prospects are faring during the season. Performance is 2/3 of how guys get their ratings.  The other third comes from potential to improve.  Every player has "tools", it's just a matter of what they can do with those tools to become successful. It's important to keep that in mind when reviewing how each player is doing throughout the year. To start I'll do a run down on the top four prospects in my mind entering this season.

Although only 20 Teheran started the year in AAA and so far has started six games with dominating results. He's 3-0 with a 1.91 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. He's struck out more men than hits allowed, too.  His only real flaw is his inconsistent command of his curve ball and change-up which were prevalent in his major league debut against the Phillies.  The Braves rotation is already excellent so Teheran may be called up to be a reliever down the stretch as the Braves try to make it back to the playoffs.

Friday, May 6, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Thoughts: Final Impressions

Well, last weekend was fun.  This post is coming a little late I know, but it's also given me time to go over each team's draft and think about how each pick can potentially impact current rosters and direction of each team.  It's too early to give each team a grade but it's not too early to see who tried to help themselves and who didn't.  It's no surprise that the teams who performed the best on draft day are winning franchises. The Lions may not fit the mold but once Matt Millen was fired they've had some good drafts and begun turning things around.

 Don't cry, Mark. The Saints trading up to select you is my favorite move of the NFL Draft.

Three Teams Whose Drafts I Like
  1. Indianapolis Colts
    1. Anthony Castonzo OT
    2. Ben Ijalana OT
    3. Drake Nevis DT
    4. Delone Carter RB
    5. Chris Rucker DB
    • A lot was made of how horribly Peyton Manning played last season.  Not as many people talked about how awful the Colts offensive line was. No, they didn't give up a lot of sacks - Manning is masterful at getting rid of the ball - but running game was atrocious. The line couldn't block for the run game or the pass game and as a result Manning was rarely comfortable. In my opinion Castonzo was the best tackle in the draft and will protect the blind side immediately. Ijalana is another prospect who will anchor this line from day 1. He might not start at RT but he should end up there.  Drake Nevis is a great fit in the Colts 4-3 scheme and will help against the run. Delone Carter will likely be the #3 running back to start but could end up being the main guy if Donald Brown can't stay healthy.  He's already better than Mike Hart. Chris Rucker is a special teamer and depth at a position where the Colts always have injury issues. I love this draft and the Colts should be better now and in five years from now.
  2. New Orleans Saints
    1. Cameron Jordan DE
    2. Mark Ingram RB
    3. Martez Wilson ILB
    4. Johnny Patrick CB
    5. Greg Romeus DE
    6. Nathan Bussey OLB
    •  Despite having Drew Brees the Saints were never completely in sync last year. The defense lacked the big plays that they lived on in 2009 and the offense suffered injuries at the running back position.  With the first pick New Orleans took best player available in DE C. Jordan who just so happened to fit in with their needs list. He should start immediately.  I've already talked about what a great move it was to get RB Ingram.  Martez Wilson is a big hitter who will slide in next to Scott Shanle.  Johnny Patrick is a CB who could turn into a very good nickel back, Greg Romeus is an excellent run defender and will stick with the team, Nathan Bussey adds depth and special teams ability. The Saints are instant contenders again.
  3. Detroit Lions
    1. Nick Fairley DT
    2. Titus Young WR
    3. Mikel Leshoure RB
    4. Douglas Hogue OLB
    5. Johnny Culbreath OT
    • The Lions did not address the offensive line or secondary which most fans and draft pundits agreed were their two biggest needs.  They did, however, add play makers to three key positions which make them instant playoff contenders. I think only Cam Newton is a higher bust risk than Nick Fairley but if Fairley works out watch out! Fairley next to Suh is downright scary. Two DTs that are excellent pass rushers will increase the pressure off the edge and in theory improve the DBs.  Titus Young provides a quick underneath target so Megatron won't be double teamed on every play.  Mikel Leshoure is likely going to steal a lot of carries from Javhid Best and is more durable.  Douglas Hogue was a productive player in college but I'm not sure if he'll have much of a career in the NFL. Johnny Culbreath is a nice developmental pick who could stick at tackle in a couple of years. Expect the Lions to go after a CB and OT if there's free agency.
Honorable Mention
  • Baltimore Ravens - Got a good CB (Jimmy Smith), a speedy WR (Torrey Smith), a potential possession receiver (Tandon Doss), and a OT prospect (Jah Reid). Filled their needs without having to reach or trade. The playoff streak will continue.
  • Cincinnati Bengals - Took the best player in the draft (AJ Green), a QB they're sold on being their franchise QB (Andy Dalton), an underrated pass rusher (Dontay Moch),  and perhaps the best interior lineman in the draft (Clint Boling) all by the fourth round. An excellent draft for a rebuilding team.
  • New York Giants - Got a the second best CB (Prince Amukamara), another pass rushing DT (Marvin Austin), a big play WR (Jerrel Jernigan), a big OT (James Brewer), and a tackle machine (Greg Jones) at linebacker. They had perhaps the best value pick of any team in every round of this draft.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    2011 MLB Predictions: Awards

    Now that I've completed my divisional previews I suppose it's time to get down to the nitty gritty.  Believe me when I say I'm glad I finished the previews.  By the time I'd gotten to the National League Central I was pooped.  Then I was rewarded by doing write-ups for Pittsburgh and Houston.  At least the Pirates have a brightening future.
    Anyway, this post will be dedicated to my award winners and due to reader request I will also put down my predicted records for each team.  First, the records:

    AL East NL East
    Boston 98 64 Philadelphia 97 65
    New York 90 72 Atlanta 92 70
    Tampa 84 78 New York 81 81
    Toronto 78 84 Washington 73 89
    Baltimore 73 89 Florida 73 89
    AL Central NL Central
    Chicago 87 75 Milwaukee 91 71
    Detroit 83 79 Cincinnati 88 74
    Minnesota 80 82 St. Louis 83 79
    Cleveland 79 83 Chicago 77 85
    Kansas City 70 92 Pittsburgh 68 94
    Houston 61 101
    AL West NL West
    Texas 94 68 Colorado 93 69
    Oakland 90 72 San Fran 88 74
    Los Angeles 83 79 Los Angeles 80 82
    Seattle 58 104 San Diego 70 92
    Arizona 68 94

    Putting that table in was a huge pain in the butt.  As you can see no surprises in the division winners unless you think Milwaukee is a big underdog.  My biggest surprise is picking Oakland to win the AL Wild Card. If this holds true to form this is how I think the playoffs will go:
    Boston over Oakland                   Milwaukee over Philadelphia
    Texas over Chicago                     Colorado over Atlanta
    Boston over Texas                        Milwaukee over Colorado

    Boston over Milwaukee (hey, I can dream, right?)

    Now your Award winners:
    AL MVP                                     NL MVP
    1. Adrian Gonzalez                     1. Troy Tulowitzki
    2. Robinson Cano                       2. Albert Pujols
    3. Miguel Cabrera                       3. David Wright

    AL Cy Young                              NL Cy Young
    1. Brett Anderson                        1. Tim Lincecum
    2. CC Sabathia                            2. Josh Johnson
    3. Neftali Feliz                            3. Tommy Hanson

    AL Rookie                                  NL Rookie
    1. Jeremy Hellickson SP (TB)    1. Craig Kimbrel RP (Atl)
    2. J.P. Arencibia C (Tor)             2. Freddie Freeman 1B (Atl)
    3. Dustin Ackley 2B (Sea)         3. Brandon Beachy SP (Atl)

    Good thing I'm not a betting man.