Thursday, May 31, 2012

Steve Clevenger- .500 Hitter

Do you know who Steve Clevenger is?  Well, he's the backup catcher for the Chicago Cubs who is currently batting .500 for the season (13-26).  The 26 year old was drafted in the 7th round in 2006 and has hit for average at every stop along his minor league journey (.309/.795 in 7 minor league seasons).  He made his debut with the Cubbies last year, appearing in 2 games.  This year, he's only played in 11 games, but when he plays, he hits.  For his career, Clevenger is a .467/1.200 hitter in 13 MLB games.  This pace will obviously not continue, but there's no reason to not think he'll be at least a .300 hitter in the Majors.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Last Man Standing- Battle of Zero ERAs

Alright, the 2012 MLB season is nearly 2 months old and there remain a handful of relievers out there still sporting sparkling 0.00 earned run averages.  Who will be the last man standing?

ZERO ERA CLUB:
(minimum 10 IP)

*Aroldis Chapman/Cincinnati Reds - 24.1 IP

*Ryan Cook/Oakland Athletics - 22.2 IP

*Scott Downs/Los Angeles Angels - 13 IP

*Lucas Luetge/Seattle Mariners - 11 IP

*Dale Thayer/San Diego Padres - 10 IP

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Aroldis Chapman is Crazy Good

Aroldis Chapman's 2012 Season:
20 G, 24.1 IP, 43 K, 4 W, 2 SV, 6 HLD, 0.00 ERA, 0.58 WHIP.  Wow!!!

That's an average of 15.9 strikeouts per 9 innings.  He's allowed only 7 hits in 82 at bats, for a ridiculously low .085 average against.  It was about damn time the Cincinnati Reds moved him to closer.  The Cuban Missile is the most dominant reliever in all of baseball. The man regularly touches triple digits with his fastball and is nearly unhittable. 

Sit back and enjoy the show...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Evolution of Baseball Equipment

The Evolution of Baseball Equipment

The basics of the national pasttime haven't changed much since the game first came around in the 19th century. However, baseball equipment has gone through some changes over the years. The first standards for baseball equipment were instituted in the late 19th century as the game matured. However, the 20th century has seen some changes of its own:

Evolution of Batting Equipment

For much of the 19th century, batters were mostly able to use whatever bat they liked. Convention made these early bats considerably heavier and longer than the modern bat, and with a less pronounced taper from the bat head to handle.

By the start of the 20th century, bats were a bit more standardized. They couldn't be longer than 42 inches, although most fell somewhere between 30 and 40 inches. The thickest part of the bat was fixed at 2 3/4 inches, where it remains today. These older bats were also heavier with an average weight around 48 ounces. The wood of choice was ash, but pine, hickory, and maple were also acceptable.

The greatest change in these wood bats from the early years is their weight. In the first half of the 20th century, the average bat weight fell to 40 ounces. Today, one would be hard pressed to find a major league player swinging anything heavier than 36 ounces. Weights went down as pitches started coming faster. The heavier the bat, the slower a player can swing it. With today's pitching speeds, a player would never catch up to the ball with an old bat.

Looking outside of Major League Baseball, the greatest change in batting equipment is the use of bats made from anything other than wood. Aluminum bats are the bat of choice in youth and school leagues, even at the college level. These bats are lighter than wood, but their durability has been their greatest attraction.

Evolution of Baseball Gloves

Like the baseball bat, baseball gloves weren't standardized when they were first introduced into the game. Unlike the baseball bat, the baseball glove wasn't even a part of the game until the late 19th century.

When the glove was introduced, it was seen more as protective equipment, rather than a tool to help a player field the ball better. Today, the intention of the baseball glove has changed, which has lead to its greatest evolution.

No longer protective, the purpose of the modern glove is as a tool to make baseball player's job easier. As a result, the modern glove has become specialized, with different designs intended to offer benefits to specific positions.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Name to Know- Lucas Luetge

I am a baseball junkie and therefore love following players signed to minor league contracts, claimed off waivers, or selected in the Rule 5 draft.  The latter brings me to the subject of today's post- Lucas Luetge.

The 25 year old left-handed reliever has appeared in 15 games for the Seattle Mariners this season and has yet to allow an earned run- 10.1 IP,12 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 1 W, 3 HLD.  He was selected 21st round of the 2008 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers and taken from their system when left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft by the M's. 

Luetge had decent numbers through 4 minor league seasons, but had never pitched above Double-A.  In 125 games, he logged 291 innings, striking out 258 batters, with a 3.43 ERA and 1.33 WHIP.  So, don't expect the scoreless streak to continue for too much longer, but for now Seattle should be pleasantly pleased with themselves for giving this guy an opportunity.  Wikipedia lists his pitching repertoire as a  four-seam and a two-seam fastball that averages about 90 mph, a sweeping slider in the low 80's, a curveball in the mid-upper 70's, and an occasional changeup.  Lefties are only batting .091 off him (2-22).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Minor League Free Agent Team- 2012

The following is a team composed of players that signed minor league contracts this offseason.  Think they can beat the Minnesota Twins?

Stats for games played through May 14th.

Catchers:
AVG/OPS

Ronny Paulino/BAL - .300/.633, 3 R, 3 RBI.

Chris Gimenez/TBR - .220/.490, 4 R, 2 RBI.

Infielders:

AVG/OPS

Pete Orr/PHI - .286/.734, 3 R, 4 XBH, 5 RBI.

Cody Ransom/ARI - .289/.982, 6 R, 7 XBH, 12 RBI.

Chad Tracy/WSH - .293/.909, 5 R, 5 XBH, 11 RBI.

Joe Mather/CHC - .256/.817, 5 R, 4 XBH, 6 RBI.

Joaquin Arias/SFG - .255/.632, 6 R, 5 RBI.



Outfielders:
AVG/OPS

Juan Pierre/PHI - .337/.754, 12 R, 6 RBI, 5 SB.

Rick Ankiel/WSH - .268/.733, 10 R, 8 XBH, 7 RBI.

Austin Kearns/MIA - .263/.886, 5 R, 5 XBH, 5 RBI.

Travis Buck/HOU - .241/.657, 6 R, 5 XBH, 5 RBI.

Mike Baxter/NYM -.346/.990, 6 R, 5 XBH, 6 RBI.

Gregor Blanco/SFG - .286/.790, 11 R, 5 XBH, 8 RBI, 3 SB.

Lineup:
1. Juan Pierre/LF
2. Gregor Blanco/CF
3. Chad Tracy/1B
4. Mike Baxter/DH
5. Cody Ransom/SS
6. Joe Mather/3B
7. Rick Ankiel/RF
8. Pete Orr/2B
9. Ronny Paulino/C

Rotation:
ERA/WHIP

Jamie Moyer/COL - 1 W, 7 GS, 38.2 IP, 24 K, 4.66/1.66.

Kevin Millwood/SEA - 1 W, 7 GS, 40.2 IP, 28 K, 5.09/1.60.

Miguel Batista/NMY - 1 W, 12 G, 3 GS, 25.2 IP, 17 K, 4.26/1.74.

Jeff Suppan/SDP - 2 W, 3 GS, 16 IP, 4 K, 1.69/1.13.

Andy Pettitte/NYY - 1 GS, 6.1 IP, 2 K, 5.68/1.58.

Bullpen:
ERA/WHIP

Juan Cruz/PIT - 1 W, 15 G, 14 IP, 11 K, 3 SV, 5 HLD, 0.64/1.36.

Dale Thayer/SDP - 7 G, 7 IP, 7 K, 3 SV, 0.00/0.71.

Jason Isringhausen/LAA - 13 G, 12.2 IP, 7 K, 2.84/1.58.

Chad Gaudin/MIA - 1 W, 7 G, 12.2 IP, 9 K, 0.71/1.26.

Jamey Wright/LAD - 2 W, 12 G, 14 IP, 17 K, 1 HLD, 3.86/1.21.

Clay Rapada/NYY - 1 W, 17 G, 10 IP, 7 K, 1 HLD, 3.60/1.60.

Shawn Camp/CHC - 2 W, 17 G, 20 IP, 15 K, 2 HLD, 3.15/1.25.

Honorable Mentions:
PJ Walters, Vicente Padilla, Jared Burton, Tommy Hottovy, Carlos Torres, Alex Hinshaw, Munenori Kawasaki, Jeremey Hermida, Rich Hill, Jim Miller, Victor Marte, Edwin Maysonet, Johnny Damon, Cesar Izturis, Alberto Gonzalez, Nick Johnson, Rob Johnson,  and Will Rhymes.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Diamond in the Rough

Who is Scott Diamond and why is he so awesome?

1. He's Canadian. Thankfully he's not from Africa, or that would be a "conflict" (AKA - Blood Diamond).

2. He's a 25 year old south paw.

3. He has 2 of the Minnesota Twins 10 wins this season.

4. He has a 0.00 ERA over 2 starts/14 IP.

5. Since his last name is Diamond, I imagine a "cut" fastball is part of his repertoire.

6. Every time he takes the mound, he looks to toss a "gem".

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Club Zero

Check out this group of shutdown relievers.  They haven't allowed an earned run all season.

Club Zero:
(Minimum 10 Innings Pitched)

*Ardolis Chapman/CIN - 3 W, 17.2 IP, 31 K, 3 HLD.

*Ryan Cook/OAK - 16.2 IP, 16 K, 9 HLD.

*Logan Ondrusek/CIN - 2 W, 14.2 IP, 11 K, 1 SV, 3 HLD.

*Scott Downs/LAA - 10 IP, 5 K, 3 SV, 5 HLD.

*Addison Reed/CHW - 10 IP, 14 K, 2 SV, 4 HLD.

Possible New Members: Lucas Luetge/SEA, Sergio Romo/SFG, Dale Thayer/SDP, and Sean Burnett/WSH.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Best & Worst of 2012 MLB Season

Team Stats

Runs:
Best - 163 - Atlanta Braves
Worst - 78 - Pittsburgh Pirates

Homeruns:
Best - 44 - New York Yankees
Worst - 12 - San Diego Padres

Batting Average:
Best - .291 - Texas Rangers
Worst - .213 - Oakland Athletics

OPS:
Best - .819 - St. Louis Cardinals
Worst - .619 - Oakland Athletics

ERA:
Best - 2.59 - Washington Nationals
Worst - 5.70 - Minnesota Twins

Wins:
Best - 19 - Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers & Tampa Bay Rays
Worst - 7 - Minnesota Twins

Quality Starts:
Best - 22 - Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia Phillies, Miami Marlins & Washington Nationals
Worst - 7 - Minnesota Twins

WHIP:
Best - 1.10 - Washington Nationals
Worst - 1.57 - Colorado Rockies

Errors:
Best - 9 - New York Yankees
Worst - 33 - San Francisco Giants

Player Stats

Batting Average:
Best - .406 - Matt Kemp
Worst - .165 - Clint Barmes

OPS:
Best - 1.319 - Matt Kemp
Worst - .395 - Marlon Byrd

ERA:
Best - 1.31 - Johnny Cueto
Worst - 9.09 - Clay Buchholz

WHIP:
Best - 0.73 - Matt Cain
Worst - 2.02 - Clay Buchholz

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Orioles Bullpen is Amazing

The biggest surprise team of the 2012 MLB season thus far has been the Baltimore Orioles at 19-9.  They're getting timely hitting and decent starting pitching, but it's the bullpen that has been  the big story.  Their relief pitchers are so effective that a position player, Chris Davis, was forced to the mound today and worked 2 scoreless innings and picked up the win.  Amazing!

Below are 3 relievers that have yet to allow an earned run for the O's this season, each pitching 13 or more innings.  That's great when a team has 1 reliever do that, but 3 is unthinkable.  I'm not sure how long this ridiculous run can continue, but it sure is fun to watch.

Triple Threat Trifecta:
Matt Lindstrom - 12 G, 13 IP, 14 K, 2 HLD, 0.00 ERA, 0.92 WHIP. (12)

Luis Ayala - 13 G, 15.2 IP, 9 K, 1 W, 1 SV, 2 HLD, 0.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP. (14)

Jim Johnson - 12 G, 13.2 IP, 12 K, 8 SV, 0.00 ERA, 0.88 WHIP. (12)

Collectively - 37 G, 42.1 IP, 35 K, 1 W, 9 SV, 4 HLD, 0.00 ERA, 0.90 WHIP.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Mr. No Luck- Ryan Dempster

Quick...guess who has the best ERA in Major League Baseball this year.

Nope, not Jered Weaver.  Guess again.  Nah, Stephen Strasburg has been awesome, but not the best.  Not Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Roy Halladay, or any other of the usual suspects. 

The answer is Ryan Dempster.  The man pitches for the Chicago Cubs though, so he still has no wins on the season despite a sparkling 0.95 ERA.  That's just sad.  Provide the man with some f'n run support for crying out loud!

Guess you could call him Mr. No Luck.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Statistical Craziness

*Matt Kemp of the Dodgers has scored 27 runs this season and knocked in 25, making him accountable for 52 runs of production in just 25 games.  The lowly Pittsburgh Pirates have scored only 68 runs as entire team in 24 games.  Kemp is that awesome and the Buccos offense is that bad.

*Kemp also has 12 homeruns, while the Chicago Cubs as a team have a mere 11.  Kemp powerful, Cubbies not.

*Fernando Rodney of the Rays was an unwanted man for most of the offseason, but luckily Tampa Bay scooped him up because their incumbent closer Kyle Farnsworth went down with an injury in Spring Training.  Rodney now leads the American League with 8 saves.  Bet a lot of teams would want him now.

*Roy Halladay of the Phillies was given a 6-run lead, but ended up surrendering 8 runs to the Braves.  He was on the hook for the loss, but the Phils were able comeback.  This was significant because Halladay was a perfect 107-0 in career when staked to a 4-run lead or better.  That streak remains intact.

*The Philadelphia Phillies as a team have only walked 48 times this season.  Cleveland Indians teammates Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner have combined for 36 bases on balls alone.

*The 2012 MLB season is only a month old and there have already been 2 no-hitters tossed, thanks for Jered Weaver and Phillip Humber.

*Carlos Ruiz, catcher of the Phillies, had more RBI last night (7) than Albert Pujols has knocked in all season for the Angels (5).

*Lance Lynn currently leads the National League with 5 wins.  If not for an injury to Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, he likely wouldn't have even been in the rotation to begin the year.

*After starting the season in a horrible slump (4-37 with 3 R, 2 HR, and 4 RBI) and having fans wonder if he would be demoted to the minors, Pedro Alvarez has gone on a tear over the last 8 games (12-29 with 8 R, 4 DBL, 4 HR, and 8 RBI).  Maybe he can help the Pirates offense get going.

*After starting the year 0-26, Nick Johnson of the Orioles has 3 hits in his last 9 at bats.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Zero Club (0.00)- End of April Edition

The first month of the 2012 MLB season is in the books and 6 relievers were able to escape without surrendering an earned run while pitching at least 10 innings.  That means they all have pristine 0.00 ERAs. It will be interesting to see who can run their streak up the farthest and how many more relievers will be joining them.

Player/Team - IP:
Ardolis Chapman/CIN - 12.1
Duane Below/DET - 12
Luis Ayala/BAL - 11
David Robertson/NYY - 11
Logan Ondrusek/CIN - 11
Ryan Cook/OAK - 10