I apologize for my extended absence from the blog. In the upcoming months, I will be writing for Bleacher Report. If you are interested in reading my work, check out my profile here: http://bleacherreport.com/users/1279108-josh-housman or my first article here http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1353393-the-michigan-wolverines-are-in-big-trouble-this-year-and-heres-why
Thanks for the support and I will be back in December!.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
New York Yankees
Pre-season Pick: 2nd place, AL East, 1st Wild Card, lose in ALCS
Current Position: After a scorching June and beginning of July, the Yankees cooled off after a tough west coast trip after the all star break. A ten game lead in the AL East has now shrunk down to 3 games, and the Rays will continue to pressure the Yankees through the month of September. They still only have won four games all season without hitting a home run, which is a testament to how many home runs they do actually hit and their reliance on the long ball to score runs. They are still in first though, but are definitely nervous, being only 18-20 since they opened up their ten game lead six weeks ago.
Main Problem to Fix: Consistent starting pitching. The Yankees were supposed to have too strong of a rotation this year. CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte, Michael Pineda, and Freddy Garcia were supposed to give Joe Girardi a headache all spring and make his job difficult. However, Pineda has been hurt all year, Pettitte has been hurt almost all year, Nova has been terribly consistent (consistently awful), Hughes has been inconsistent (better since the all-star break), Garcia has failed to replicate his stellar comeback from last year, and Sabathia has hit the DL twice. The Yankees need Sabathia to lead their rotation, Pettitte to return at full health, Kuroda to keep pitching like he currently is, and Hughes or Nova to be reliable enough to pitch in a playoff game if they want to win title #28.
Realistic Expectation: The Yankees are good enough to win the World Series. They have the talent in the rotation, on the bench, and in the bullpen. The only thing preventing them from getting there is consistency, which could cause them to get bumped in the ALDS for the second straight season.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
In one of the best weeks this season and possibly of all time, Adrian Beltre hit .433 with 5 homers and 9 RBIs. Beltre became one of the only players ever to hit for the cycle and hit 3 home runs in a game in the same week and also slugged 1.100 with a 1.512 OPS.
|Adrian Beltre accomplished two very difficult feats this week.|
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Tampa Bay Rays
Pre-season Pick: 1st place, AL East, lose in ALDS
Current Position: Tampa Bay has had an up and down season, going all the way from 10 games out of first to within 3 games. For much of the season, their star third baseman, Evan Longoria, was injured and left a gaping hole in the middle of their lineup. However, upon his return, the Rays have been on a tear and are threatening the Yankees for first place in the AL East. They boast a strong rotation and have some hot bats that will need to remain hot come October.
Main Problem to Fix: Hitting. Hitting is a very general category to fix, but the Rays simply haven't done enough of it to warrant a playoff berth, forget about a World Series run. They rank 28th in the MLB in team batting average, 17th in runs, 19th in OBP, and 26th in slugging percentage. Evan Longoria's return has obviously helped, but they are going to have a serious problem scoring off of the stronger pitching of teams in the post season.
Realistic Expectation: You can't expect this team to go past the ALDS. If they manage to make the post-season, which they most likely will playing the hot baseball they are now, they won't be able to win a 3 out of 5 series with BJ Upton and Desmond Jennings hitting in the .240s and Carlos Pena on the interstates. The bottom line is that David Price, their ace and a real contender for the AL Cy Young Award, pitched eight innings, gave up three hits, walked none, zero runs, struck out eight, and couldn't get the win against Luke Hochevar of the Royals. If they can't get it done against Hochevar, he of the 4.95 ERA, how will they get it done against playoff teams?
Friday, August 24, 2012
Pre-season Pick: 5th place, AL East, miss the post-season.
Current Position: No one could have predicted this, aside from Baltimore manager Buck Showalter and possibly his GM Dan Duquette. Duquette and Showalter, in their first full season, have taken the O's from a perennial last place team to a playoff contender, and in impressive fashion. They currently hold the second wild card spot, are one game behind the Rays for the first wild card spot, and are only five games behind the first place Yankees. Their torrid first half has been offset slightly by a slower second half, but the Orioles have proven that they are a real contender and aren't going anywhere. Led by center fielder Adam Jones and pitchers Wei-Yin Chen and Jason Hammel, they Orioles have a strong starting rotation and can score runs if needed. Many players, such as Chen and Hammel (as well as the rest of the starting rotation) are having significantly better seasons than anyone could have expected and have carried the Orioles to this point.
Main Problem to Fix: Run Differential. The Orioles are the only team in baseball with a negative run differential and a record over .500. Statistical analysis dictates that their record should be somewhere closer to 55-67, but instead they are 67-56. In very simple terms, the goal of any sport (besides golf) is to score more points than the other team. Most good teams will have scored more gross runs than the gross runs of the teams they have played all season, culminating in a winning record. It is a huge statistical anomaly for a team to win more than half of its games but in gross runs be outscored by its opponents. The Orioles have kept it up all season, but will struggle to hold on to their playoff spot with the A's, Tigers, and Angels close behind. If they don't start outscoring their opponents with more conviction, they will probably lose that spot to a more experienced team.
Realistic Expectation: Although they have held the wild card almost all season, I do not see the Orioles making the playoffs. The fact that they will probably finish over .500 is a good sign for a Baltimore team that has dwelled in the AL East cellar for years. More optimistic fans will say they will make the playoffs, but I doubt that they will advance past the first round even if they do. A realistic expecation of the Orioles is to finish within 3-4 games of the wild card and finish over .500. Everything else will be a bonus.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Pre-season Pick: 1st in AL Central, Lose in ALDS
Current Position: The Tigers have struggled mightily all season long. Posting a run differential of merely +24, their pitching behind 2011 AL MVP Justin Verlander has been wildly inconsistent and has kept them out of first place all season long. Currently, the surprisingly underwhelming Tigers squad sits two games out of first place and one and a half out of the wild card. They will need some luck and some better play from their pitching to move into one of the two wild card spots or advance past the Chicago White Sox to take the AL Central.
Main Problem to Fix: Starting Pitching. Behind Justin Verlander, not one pitcher has resembled anything close to a reliable rotation arm. Max Scherzer has been his usual self, striking out plenty of batters but walking many and allowing many to score in the process, Rick Porcello (still just 23 years old), is struggling to find consistency in his 4th season, Doug Fister has been good when healthy, but missed a large chunk of time to injury, and mid-season acquisition Anibal Sanchez, has had only one start in his four starts with the Tigers in which he has allowed less than five earned runs. The Tigers, on paper, are still good enough to make a deep playoff run, but the talent on paper needs to start translating into wins from their starting pitchers.
Realistic Expectation: This team has under-performed their expectations all season (with the exception of Miguel Cabrera) and there is no reason to believe that they will turn things around come September and October. If they even make the playoffs, it is tough to see them advancing past the ALDS and will certainly not advance past the ALCS.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Chicago White Sox
Pre-season Pick: 2nd place, AL Central, miss the post-season.
Current Position: Raise your hand if you expected the White Sox, not the Tigers, to be atop the AL Central at the end of August? If your raising your hand, your probably lying. Anyway, the White Sox are a fun, complete baseball team with a deep rotation and an even deeper lineup. The acquisition of Kevin Youkilis boosted this team from good to very good and the addition of Francisco Liriano bolstered rotation depth. Alex Rios, Adam Dunn, and Jake Peavy are all comeback player of the year candidates, and there is a nice mix of veteran and young talent filling out the roster.
Main Problem to Fix: There aren't too many holes on this team, but where they could get better is in their bullpen. Only one of their relievers (minimum 10 innings pitched) has an ERA under 3, but only two have an ERA over 4. That tells us that their relief has been consistently mediocre to good at times, but could cause problems for them in the post-season.
Realistic Expectation: Lose in the ALCS. Under new manager Robin Ventura, I can see this team making a deep playoff run. In Youkilis and catcher AJ Pierzynski they have valuable playoff experience, but I do not see this team winning the World Series. A realistic goal for this team should be to advance past the ALDS and compete for the AL pennant, where they will probably fall short to a superior team.