Mariners Musings

Musings about, um... well, the Seattle Mariners as well as a love affair with this game baseball. By Peter J. White

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Mariners 6, Orioles 5

I'm a bit tired for a snappy title. So I recorded last night's game to watch this evening, and what I do? I'm sound asleep by the 4th inning and wake up just in time for Bob Melvin's usual bullpen shenanigans in the 8th. For crying out loud, in the 8th inning Hargrove and Melvin combined to use 7 pitchers resulting in 5 completely unnecessary commercial breaks and one tedious game to watch when it should have been the most exciting.

I, for one, would rather be subjected to Ron Fairly do play-by-play solo than Michael Reghi and Buck Martinez, the Orioles announcers, wax eloquent about how the Mariners' offense struggles so in Safeco despite it being "such a great hitters' park" with "such a great hitters' backdrop." Yeah, that shoots your credibility from the start of the game. That and constantly referring to the Mariners' leadoff hitter and right fielder as "Suzuki," as in, "That was a home run swing by Suzuki." That's just weird.

I can't admit to any fresh revelations from watching the first 3 innings and and the final inning and a half in a groggy daze. Let's see, there's Randy Winn's defense in the 2nd. First there was Conine's double that hit the left fielder corner in mid air. Winn played to the richocet just perfect to hold Conine to a double. Two batters later, he robbed BJ Surhoff with a diving catch and awkward roll. So how long can the M's afford the all-glove-no-hit left side of the field?

And nobody hits longer singles than lead-footed John Olerud.

Both starters threw oodles of pitches early. Mid way through the 6th and Johnson was out at 122 pitches. Pineiro went 6 innings and threw the magic number 102 pitches, 57% for strikes. He allowed only 1 run on 9 baserunners (5 hits and 4 walks) and didn't strike out a single Oriole. Now that's a hollow win if I ever saw one. For once though, he faced the minimum in the first inning. In the 2nd and 3rd, he allowed the first two batters on base, yet he weaseled out of it with just one run.

It was varsity night in the bullpen, and the struggles continued with Soriano getting in on the action, who allowed as many runs in the 8th as he had all season. After setting the O's down in order in the 7th, he let the first two batters on to start the next inning. Rhodes comes in with the assignment to retire the lefty Gibbons but gives up a run-scoring single. One out and another run-scoring single later, Nelson comes in with the assignment to retire the rightie offensive threat Deivi Cruz (.279 OBP), but gives up a single that scores 2. One out later, Shiggy comes in with the assignment to retire the leftie Segui, and promptly serves up another run-scoring single. Three relievers called upon to retire specific batters and all three blow it. This is getting old.

The 9-4 hitters in the lineup combined to go 11-25, and that doesn't include McLemore who was 3 for 4 and raised his AVG to .222. Winn had a pair of hits and Wilson contributed with a pair, including a 2-RBI double. That was his first multi-RBI game since May 28, understandable when you realize he hits behind normally Winn and Cirillo.
|| Peter @ 7/09/2003

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

The Little Birds Sing West

¶ Contrary to all myth and legend, I reside on the east coast, and the nearest major league baseball team to my residence is the Baltimore Orioles. Finally, the privilege of every Oriole game on the Comcast Sports Network pays off. The games are still past my bedtime, but thank the Creator for VCRs.

After losing 5 straight, the Orioles then won 4 in a row before yesterday falling just 2 outs short of a 4-game sweep of the Blue Jays. And for those of you not paying the attention, the Orioles offense is neck and neck with the Mariners. Maybe chin and neck. The Orioles are 8th in runs scored; the Mariners 9th. They have the 4th best batting average in the majors. Raise your hand if you saw that one coming in April. As a matter of fact, the Orioles, just looking at the numbers, remind me a lot of the Angels: High-batting average; They don't strike out; They don't take a walk. Only the Angels have struckout fewer times than the O's, and their walks rank 25th. Its those base on balls that are biggest difference in how these two offenses operate, and that gives the Mariners the advantage in OBP and subsequently OPS, but just barely. Get nit picky and consider the Orioles play in Camden Yards and the Mariners in Safeco and its a dead heat.

Pitching is a different matter entirely, as the O's rank 23rd in baseball in runs allowed compared to the M's at #2. The one strength of the staff is they throw strikes. The O's are #6 in walks allowed while the M's are #4. Then again throwing strikes could be their greatest weakness as opponents are hitting .284 against the Orioles, and only Colorado and Texas are worse in that department. But then, we saw how the Mariners handled the Texas pitching. This should be a good series.

The matchups appear to be Joel Pineiro (3.41 ERA, .633 opOPS) against Jason Johnson (3.89, .757) in just a few short hours. Tomorrow evening, it's homer-happy Ryan Franklin (3.65, .730) versus Rick Helling (5.81, .859). Then Thursday, we'll see Chief Garcia (4.45, .740) face off against Sidney Ponson (3.85, .692).

¶ Over at the P-I today, John Levesque gives the Mariners hitters a good ribbing. Now, I realize it's all tongue-in-cheek, poking a little fun, but he's missing the point...

"In a ploy to add potency to the Mariners' bats at Safeco while continuing to reap the benefits of local ticket sales, the Mariners' front office is again monkeying with the center-field hitting background, which has been modified as often as David Beckham's hairdo.

This latest change is being made at the behest of players who find the glare off the spruce-green background disconcerting on summer evenings when the sun at these far-north latitudes is high enough to cause an off-white shimmer that provides little contrast to the off-white blur of an oncoming baseball."

By the end, you'd think the players are lobbying to bring in the fences, too. It has little if anything to do with adding "potency" to the bats and everything to do with seeing that little sphere as it comes hurtling near 93 miles an hour in the general vicinity their bodies. The players aren't as concerned about hitting the ball as they are having the opportunity to dodge out of the way of a high and tight Roger Clemens fastball. It's not about turning Safeco into a hitter's park. It's about the players and the fraction of a second they have to react to a stray pitch. Beanings have killed players and ruined careers. For that to happen even once at Safeco is once too many. For the players to bring this up as often as they have, they are concerned. And it's not their batting average they care about.

It doesn't take Bill James to say Safeco Field is hard on hitters. Old news, man. So, John, if you want to throw statistics at this issue, I want to know how Safeco compares to other parks in batters hit by pitches. Even better, tell me how HBP vary in afternoon/twilight games versus night games at Safeco. Or if reporting is your angle, at least throw out some quotes from some visiting hitters on how they fell about facing Freddy Garcia in the Safeco twilight?

You're not going see me in the box against Randy Johnson, no sirree. I don't even think paying me 7 figures would help. So John, cut 'em some slack and allow them courtesy to at least see the baseball.

¶ All the rage the past couple of days has been the All-Star game: Who made it, who didn't, what's wrong with the selection process. Apparently, my feeble attempts to educate the masses fell on deaf ears. But the biggest surprise to me, is how little I find myself caring. Despite Bud Selig's and Fox's best efforts to make this game matter, it has never in my short life mattered less. You won't find me voting for the 32nd man. And chances are, you won't find me watching the game, either. Unless Jamie starts. I might watch it to see Jamie.

¶ Before you finish you blog surfing for the day, scoot yourself over the Aaron's Baseball Blog, where aforementioned Aaron offers up a detailed analysis of who he thinks baseball's most underrated player is. I have to agree with him, myself. [hint, hint: It's a Mariner] I could tell you, but that would ruin the surprise, wouldn't it? Aaron then segues from that discussion into a look at the effects Safeco Field has on Mariner right-handed hitters. Great stuff. And all the more reason why the M's should be on the hunt for a left-handed slugger, i.e., Brian Giles.

¶ And from my Get Fuzzy desktop calendar on Friday (with a creative liberty here and there):

BUCKY: So... I've been thinkin' about what nickname I want...
ROB: You want? You can't pick your own nickname, Bucky. They just happen.
BUCKY: Well, frankly I don't trust you guys to come up with a good one. So it's up to me... Now if I were a Mariner, I'd just add an "-ie" to the end of my name like "Boonie" or "Nellie"... So that would make me...
ROB: "Buckie."
BUCKY: Hmm... Yeah, that's not too much better, is it?
|| Peter @ 7/08/2003

Monday, July 07, 2003

"Nice interview, but can you take a walk?"

So I was flipping through my New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract the other day and came across this comment:

"Do you think it is true that players who walk a lot are more likely to be good managers than free swingers? I think it is probably generally true, but I can't prove it. John McGraw, who had the third-highest on-base percentage of all time, was also one of the greatest managers of all time. Earl Weaver was a minor league player who walked 100 times a year. Miller Huggins walked 100 times a year, even though nobody was counting at the time. Whitey Herzong would have walked 100 times a year (after his rookie year, when he was pressing) if he had played enough.

One would assume, intuitively, that (a) anyone who is smart enough to manage should be smart enough not to swing at bad pitches, and (b) any player who doesn't chase bad pitches is going to walk in 12% of his plate appearances or more.

There are some obvious exceptions. Felipe Alou, who I think is a terrific manager, never met a pitch he didn't like" (560).

Which, of course, led me to wonder, how did everyone's favorite former-"hitter"-turned-manager fair when it came to plate discipline? Bob Melvin's illustrious career as a backup catcher totalled 2095 plate appearances. He drew 98 walks, or in 4.6% of his at bats, far below James' 12% ideal. His career OBP was .268, compared to the league average of .330. Take what you will out of that, but to be fair, here's a list of the other current managers who once stood in the batters box.

Small samples galore, so tossing out the guys with fewer than 1000 PA's, the only two that meet the 12% mark and could be considered serious on-base threats were Robinson and Hargrove. And what's interesting to me about Hargrove is that he manned the 90's Indians that developed a couple of young sluggers by the names of Albert Belle, Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez. If only he could do the same in Baltimore. Frank Robinson has been no slouch himself from the dugout in his latest managerial post, turning that ragged roster of Expos from contractees to contenders.

Manager (Team) PA BB % career OBP (league average)

Frank Robinson (Expos) 11743 1420 12% .389 (.327)

Alan Trammell (Tigers) 9375 850 9% .352 (.330)

Larry Bowa (Phillies) 9103 474 5% .300 (.331)

Joe Torre (Yankees) 8801 779 9% .365 (.327)

Bob Boone (Reds) 8148 663 8% .315 (.330)

Dusty Baker (Cubs) 8021 762 10% .347 (.331)

Felipe Alou (Giants) 7908 423 5% .328 (.325)

Tony Pena (Royals) 7073 455 6% .309 (.331)

Mike Hargrove (Orioles) 6693 965 14% .396 (.327)

Lou Piniella (Devil Rays) 6362 368 6% .333 (.327)

Mike Scioscia (Angels) 5056 567 11% .344 (.328)

Bob Brenly (D-backs) 2995 318 11% .330 (.330)

Art Howe (Mets) 2951 275 9% .329 (.332)

Bob Melvin (Mariners) 2095 98 5% .268 (.330)

Clint Hurdle (Rockies) 1596 176 11% .341 (.329)

Lloyd McClendon (Pirates) 1375 143 10% .325 (.328)

Bruce Bochy (Padres) 881 67 8% .298 (.331)

Ron Gardenhire (Twins) 777 46 6% .277 (.349)

Bobby Cox (Braves) 719 75 10% .310 (.315)

Ned Yost (Brewers) 640 21 3% .237 (.327)

Ken Macha (A's) 425 39 9% .329 (.330)

Jim Tracy (Dodgers) 213 25 12% .336 (.329)

Tony LaRussa (Cardinals) 203 23 11% .292 (.329)

Jerry Manuel (White Sox) 142 10 7% .214 (.325)

Eric Wedge (Indians) 100 14 14% .340 (.341)

Jimy Williams (Astros) 14 1 7% .286 (.323)

|| Peter @ 7/07/2003

Mailbag Edition: Depodesta & Unbalanced Schedule's Effect on Stats

I've been really bad in answering email lately, and I'm working on replies, but here are a couple that bring up (at least I think, anyway) some really fascinating ideas. The first is from Steve in New York regarding my comments (scroll down pretty near the bottom) a couple of weeks ago about Pat Gillick and Paul DePodesta:

Peter, I was scanning your weblog and came across the comment about Pat Gillick's impending retirement (within your "Moneyball" analysis). I'd like to think Howard Lincoln would be open to at least interviewing Paul DePodesta, based on his share of success (on a shoestring) in Oakland. It would actually be an interesting tactical move, since the A's are the Mariners' main rival, and who would know more about the A's covert machinations than DePodesta (I'm sure there were some things kept from Michael Lewis). But that would be secondary to DePodesta's abilities as a prospective GM. He did turn down an opportunity to interview for the Toronto job, saying that he didn't feel ready to succeed; but that was a couple of years ago, so maybe he'd be willing to helm his own team soon. I don't know if Gillick currently has an understudy that he's grooming to take his place - if he does, then obviously DePodesta might not have a good chance. I also don't know if there will be a GM roulette this off-season (the Mets may be looking) -- if a bunch of bad teams have just hired GMs in the last year or two, and are giving them grace periods, then there might not be much action. I am assuming that Gillick will indeed retire, from your remark

Another aspect of the A's success has been the health and development of their pitching. DePodesta claims that since he's been with Oakland (since '99), there hasn't been a single serious arm injury in their entire system. While Seattle has a nice assortment of good pitchers in the minor leagues, I've noticed that a large number have gone down with serious arm injuries (torn labrums especially). I would hope the Mariners are curious about Peterson's methods (biomechanical and otherwise), so as to prevent even more set-backs and lost attempts to improve the team.

Now this is good stuff. First of all, I was going from hazy memory on Gillick's contractual status (never a good thing) but this story from last October confirms it. (Whew!) The 65-year-old Gillick is under contract for just one year with no promise for 2004. Now, GM's don't get near the attention from the media as manager's do, and Rob Neyer is about the only columnist who seems to appreciate that his readers care about that kind of stuff. The Mets are the obvious opening, and the Jerry Hunsicker rumors would make Houston one. I really can't think of any GMs that are sitting on the hot seat at present, other than maybe Texas' John Hart.

As both Michael Lewis and Billy Beane have pointed out, the sabermetric philosophy is one of necessity. Oakland has adopted it because their budget dictates it for them to be competitive, likewise for Toronto and the financial situation in Canada. Boston has adopted it because John Henry understands Bill James and capitalizing market inefficiencies. Meanwhile, the Mariners, in terms of wins and losses, are the most successfull team over the last 3-1/2 years. The Mariners are currently enjoying their greatest years in their 26-year history. So why should management shake up the organization with a new philosophy? I'll tell you why: Because the second most successful team over the last 3-1/2 years is the Oakland A's and 2 of those 3 years they beat the Mariners for the pennant, and they did it at 1/3 the cost. But tell me, do you really think Roger Jongewaard, current Mariners VP of Scouting and Player Development, who drafted Billy Beane for the Mets back in 1981, would see eye to eye with new boss Paul DePodesta?

One would think that with the retirement rumors swirling around Gillick last fall and the subsequent one-year contract, the M's would have plenty of time to groom an in-house candidate. But plucking DePodesta from the division rivals would be a huge, bold move for the M's, but I seriously don't think the Lincoln and the front office have the intestinal fortitude to do it. With their fan base and the cash cow that is Safeco Field, the M's could, just like the Red Sox, become a "scouting and player development machine."

The other angle to this that Steve brings up, which is brilliant, and I hope the M's are paying attention, is the young pitchers angle. Gil Meche, Ryan Anderson, Ken Cloude, Matt Thornton, Jeff Heaverlo: All promising young arms with such a sudden outbreak of torn labrums you'd think it was contagious. One would hope that that's just bad-black-cat-on-Friday-the-13th kind of bad luck. But, if as Branch Rickey said is true, "Luck is the residue of design," then there is a serious, serious flaw in the M's developmental system. Meanwhile, the A's have developed 3 of the AL's best young pitchers with a 4th in AAA and without a single significant pitcher injury. Good luck or good design? Applying the A's "pre-hab" philosophy to the M's minor league system certainly couldn't hurt.

I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Then there's this note from frequent emailer and A's fan Steve:

I would love to see some research done on scheduling and how it has affected the game so much these last few years since they changed it. I think its much more important than say, walks. Here's the A's since inter league began this year: 3 Florida, 3 Atlanta, 3 Philly, 3 Montreal, 6 Giants, 4 in that death trap Texas, 4 Seattle, and 3 Texas at home. I doubt if anybody has ever played a tougher stretch in the history of baseball. I think Texas would win the central but playing the M's, Angel's and A's 19 times each now has removed them forever, given the heat they have to endure on top of

Unfortunately for Texas, they would still have to pitch if they were in the Central, but I do like their chances better against the Sox, Twins and Royals than the A's, Mariners and Angels. As to the A's toughest stretch in history, well, they emerged the aforementioned stretch 16-13 with two home sweeps. Not too bad. As to the toughest stretch in history? That was 29 games against .500+ teams, but I think we'd be hard-pressed to prove or disprove that. The real meat here is how the unbalanced scheduling affects stats. I've mentioned before how it screws up win shares in season, but how about a batting race or home run race at the end of the season?

Let's say Ichiro and Nomar end the season neck and neck for the batting title. Will Ichiro be the more effecient hitter playing 57 games against the pitching of Oakland, Anaheim and Texas, ranked 2, 4 and 14 in the AL? Or Nomar who will see most of his games against New York, Toronto, Baltimore and Tampa Bay, ranked currently 3, 10, 11 and 12, respectively in ERA in the AL?

We can adjust figures for park and league, and the time has come to adjust stats for schedule as well, especially when there's as much parity between divisions as the AL West and Central. The problem is I have no idea where to start for that. ESPN has a stat they call RPI, or Relative Power Index, that adjusts a team's winning percentage against its opponents. The problem with this is it uses static winning percentages in the formula, not a problem if team rosters were static for 6 months. But teams rosters and lineups are in a constant state of flux and a day-to-day basis due to injuries, trades and the various moves on the transaction wire. As maybe the most obvious example, the White Sox are not the same team now as they were in April, and they will be a different team come September. The Mets are a different team without Mike Piazza in their lineup, as he was in April. The Royals field a different team without Carlos Beltran, as they started the season, and now without Mike Sweeney. So you can't use a static number like winning percentage to accurately gauge a team's schedule as a different team takes the field every night.

I sure don't know where to start with this, but I'd like to see where it goes.
|| Peter @ 7/07/2003

Ranger Review

Game 1: Rangers 7, Mariners 3

So just just how does a team sending the AL Pitcher of June to the mound lose against a rookie still looking for his first major league win? Easy. Offensive ineffiency. In 6.1 innings against Freddy, the Rangers managed 10 baserunners and scored 7 of them, thanks in part to 5 extra base hits. Meanwhile, in just 4 innings against Victor Santos, the Mariners found themselves with 10 baserunners and scored just 3 times.

And while they coaxed 5 walks from the rookie, forcing him to throw 95 pitches in just 4 innings, the Mariners found themselves outmatched for once by the Rangers' bullpen, striking out 6 times and getting just 4 more baserunners through the final 4 innings. Walks are great, but extra base hits are better, and the Mariners couldn't manage a single one on the evening.

Freddy threw 100 pitches in 6.1 innings, 62% for strikes, 1 walk and 7 strikeouts. But the XBH killed him.

Game 2: Mariners 3, Rangers 2

This time the Mariners got the best of the Rangers' bullpen in a fashion that would make Joe Morgan proud and Dan Wilson earned himself another month of starting time. Though, the truth is Wilson doesn't deserve to take another start over Davis. Wilson's OPS through 164 at bats is a Cirillo-esque .584 with 7 XBH; Davis's through 142 at bats is .802 with 19 XBH.

Speaking of Cirillo, you know the old adage, "Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while?" Well, the only XBH on the evening came from the bat of Jeff Cirillo, and he hit two doubles, lifting his SLG back over the .300-line.

The M's wasted another mighty fine outing by Jamie Moyer. He threw 111 pitches in 6.2 innings, 68% for strikes, allowed 9 hits, 1 walk, 3 K's. The Rangers only runs came from a 2-run blast by Juan Gonzalez, his 2nd in as many days. Nelson, Rhodes and Hasegawa made their collective appearance, as Bob just can't seem to use one of them without using all three, but it was Rafael Soriano who picked up his first major league win.

After winning 7 consecutive starts, Moyer is now 1-3 in his last 5 starts, and his win-pace is down to 20. It's hardly his fault has the M's have scored just 10 runs in those 5 games, and his ERA has been 3.81.

Game 3: Rangers 5, Mariners 1

So with the M's power game in such a funk, what's a manager to do? Why, replace arguably you best hitter with arguably your worst one. Yes indeed, that was McLemore and Bloomquist manning the keystone for Boonie and the naggingly injured Guillen, and at the plate it wasn't pretty. Two-thirds of yesterday's starting lineup is posting SLG below .400. Compare to Tigers' yesterday: They started just 4 such sub-.400 anti-sluggers. But the Rangers started Ludwick, Diaz and Glanville at the bottom of their lineup to even it out a little.

The problem was the Mariners got just 4 hits against Ismael Valdes, a man with a 6.14 ERA and .312 opAVG. They managed just 7 baserunners the entire game and the only XBH was Edgar's solo home run.

Compounding the problem was just a 4-inning stint by Gil Meche, his shortest of the season. He threw 82 pitches, 57% for strikes. He allowed 9 baserunners (6 hits, 3 walks) and struck out just 2. The following bit from today's Times should send a shudder through Mariner Nation but comes as no surprise:

"Meche, who has had two shoulder surgeries, is experiencing increasing soreness in his arm the last few starts. He downplayed the soreness and is doing exercises to minimize the problem" (Sherwin)

The M's have been gifted with 10 wins out of Meche. There's no doubt the M's would not be sitting 6 games over the A's at this point without Meche and his 3.35 ERA, but it's been just that, a gift. To expect him to continue through the rest of the season on such a pace is asking a lot.

On the bright side, Aaron Taylor walked 1 and struck out 3 in his 2 innings of work.

So yet again, the M's prove there are no "gimme series." And after scoring just 7 runs and hitting just 3 XBH against the league's worst pitching in a notoriously hitter's ballpark, the need for a bat is clearer than ever. Giving Davis more at bats is one solution. But three weeks from the trade deadline, will Gillick make any deals, and if so, for who? There's Shannon Stewart, who would be an obvious improvement over Winn's paltry .666 OPS offense, but he's 29, a right-handed hitter and making $6+ mil. Then there's Brian Giles, rumored to go to the Yankees for Jeff Weaver, even whispers Billy Beane is after him. The M's have pitching prospects galore to offer the Pirates and Giles is a left-handed slugger. On the downside, he is 32 and making $8+ mil. I hope Gillick has at least asked Pirates GM Dave Littlefied about Giles.

Then there's the bench. Pretty much any move in regards to the bench would be an improvement by default. There's no excuse for carrying both McLemore AND Wee Willie Bloomquist.

And I'll close with this jewel from Greg Johns's column yesterday:

"Since last year's All-Star break, Cirillo has two home runs and 36 RBIs in the equivalent of a full season. Remember, Mike Cameron once hit four home runs in a single game. Boone once knocked in 28 RBIs in a month."
|| Peter @ 7/07/2003

Pythagorean Rankings: Week 14

(last week's rank in parentheses)

1. Seattle (1) Congratulations to Jamie Moyer for his first All-Star berth. His 2.99 ERA, .228 opAVG and .358 opSLG are career bests.

2. NY Yankees (2) Godzilla's numbers finally respectable .311/.371/.467, though his SLG matches Ichiro's exactly.

3. Philadelphia (3) Three is their magic number: The pitching is 3rd in runs allowed (324), 3rd in OPS against (.689) and 3rd in WHIP (1.24).

4. Boston (6) Yes, that is Johnny Damon and his .320 OBP leading off for the team that leads the majors in runs scored, OBP and AVG. Of course it helps, when the bottom third of the order is Trot Nixon (.408 OBP), Bill Mueller (.402) and Jason Varitek (.360).

5. St. Louis (7) Bo Hart is the Willie Bloomquist of 2003: .390/.427/.545 in 77 AB, but just a .667 OPS in last 27.

6. Oakland (5) Say what you will about the swinging ways of Tejada and Chavez. As a team, the A's trail only the Angels with the fewest strikeouts in baseball. They rank 8th in bases on balls. It's putting the ball in play beyond the reach of fielders that seems to be their present challenge. With a batting average of .254, they rank 23rd behind such sluggers as the Devil Rays, Padres and Brewers.

7. Atlanta (4) While Russ Ortiz's ERA is a pleasing 3.50, his 58 walks in 121 innings are not. And while Greg Maddux leads the starters with a 1.25 WHIP, his 16 homers allowed accounts for his anomalous 4.71 ERA. It's tough to see the Braves playing so dominantly through the second half and into the playoffs.

8. (tie) Anaheim (12) Remember K-Rod? Turns out he's human after all. His ERA is 3.27, but his 43 K in 44 innings still classic middle-reliever stuff.

(tie) San Francisco (13) Despite Ray Durham (.395 OBP), Jose Cruz (.374) and Barry Bonds (.491) in the lineup, no one on this team is on pace to reach 100 RBI. After Bonds, the highest OPS among the regulars is Durham at .833.

10. Arizona (10) Brandon Webb has won just 5 of 12 starts despite a 2.04 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and ideal 2:1 K:BB.
|| Peter @ 7/07/2003
11. (tie) Toronto (9) Have lost 9 of last 13 against Orioles, Tigers and Expos. Ouch. At 37 years old, Greg Myers (.344/.428/.575) has to be one of the feel-good stories of the year.

(tie) Houston (11) Jeff Bagwell on pace for just 73 walks, his fewest since strike-shortened '94. His .350 OBP is the lowest of his career.

13. Los Angeles (8) Worse than the Tigers: The Bums are now dead last in the majors in SLG (.352) and BB (210). Losers of 11 out of last 13, the Dodgers have to be the streakiest team of 2003 with winning streaks of 10 and 8 and losing streaks of 4 (twice) and now 7.

14. Florida (18) Speedy Fishies: Lead majors in not only stolen bases (99), but also triples (31). Now just 3 games back of the Phillies for the wild card, can they outlast the Expos, D-Backs, Dodgers, Phils and 4-headed Central beast?

15. Montreal (15) Claudio Vargas leading the rotation with a 2.82 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, but his 4.77 K/9 says it won't last.

16. Colorado (17) So while the hitters have an .889 OPS at Coors and .712 on the road, the pitchers have a 4.93 ERA at home and 5.17 away. Figure that one out.

17. Chicago Cubs (14) Prior-Wood-Zambrano make one of the best front 3 starter combos in the NL. Matt Clement actually allows fewer baserunners than Zambrano (1.32 WHIP to 1.35) but the difference in their ERAs (Clement 4.58 and Zambrano 3.36) is in their home runs allowed. Zambrano's given up 4 and Clement 12.

18. Baltimore (20) Also at 37, Jeff Conine proving he's not washed-up. He's on pace for 23 home runs, which will be just 3 back of his career best 26 in '96. His .817 OPS will be his second highest since that year. And could this be Jay Gibbons's breakout year? He's on pace for 27 home runs and 116 RBI.

19. Chicago Sox (21) Take away his hideous month of May (0-4, 7.16 ERA) and Mark Buerhle would be 7-6 with a 3.56 ERA. Buerhle-Colon-Loaiza on paper are good enough to carry Sox to the pennant, granted Carl Everett doesn't give up too many base hits in centerfield.

20. Kansas City (19) Who needs stars? The Royals were 11-3 with Carlos Beltran on the DL and are 11-7 with Mike Sweeney on the DL. When they're both in the lineup, the Royals are 25-29.
|| Peter @ 7/07/2003
21. Minnesota (16) Ceding the paltry AL Central, losing 7 of last 8 against the White Sox and Indians. They've been outscored 48-25 against these offensive machines. Kyle Lohse hasn't won a start since June 11, lasting just 5 innings in each of his 4 starts with a 9.90 ERA over those games.

22. Pittsburgh (22) He's 2nd in the NL in OBP (.448) and 6th in OPS (.980), but I guess I'm the only one who thinks Brian Giles should be at the All-Star Game. Come on now, from 2000-2002 his .428 OBP ranks 4th in the NL and his 1.029 OPS ranks 5th.

23. Cleveland (24) C.C. Sabathia's 8-3 record is remarkable when you remember this is the '03 Indians. His 3.27 ERA is a full run better than he's ever posted before. However, his 5.89 K/9 is also down from his 8.53 rookie season and 6.39 sophomore effort.

24. NY Mets (25) While Armando Benitez is not as bad a pick as some believe (13 for 15 in save opportunities and 1.37 ERA after terrible April), the Mets' rep should have been Jae Weong Seo (3.35 ERA and 1.25 WHIP).

25. Milwaukee (23) What could Ben Sheets do if he could just keep the ball in the park? He leads the majors allowing 24 home runs, but also ranks 8th in the NL with 1.16 WHIP and 8th in Ks with 101. His 3.48 K/BB ranks 6th.

26. Cincinnatti (26) Nobody wins 'em closer and losses 'em bigger. Playing 6 games better than their projection because they're 18-10 in one-run ballgames, and 3-16 when the difference is 5 or more runs.

27. Texas (27) Hank Blalock is going to the All-Star game with a line of .328/.380/.541. And I was there when he hit for the cycle for the Tulsa Drillers in '01.

28. San Diego (29) The Padres are one of those teams where nobody deserves to be an All-Star. If you have to take one, it should be Jake Peavy and his 4.27 ERA. Certainly not Rondell White and his .337 OBP. On the bright side, the Pads have won 6 of last 8 against Seattle, LA and San Fran.

29. Tampa Bay (28) Before yesterday's blow out loss, the Rays had won 4 of 5 for the first time most people can remember. And each of those games was decided by just one run. And enough moaning about Baldelli not making the All-Star team already. The one-month wonder has just a .337 OBP and is on pace for 130 strikeouts.

30. Detroit (30) At least you can say the Tigers ground into fewer double plays than anybody (49). Of course their strategy of not getting a runner on first to begin with thwarts the opposition from turning two every time.

AL - David Ortiz (Boston) 23 AB, 6 R, 8 H, 2 2B, 5 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, .348/.423/1.087, 1.510 OPS
NL - Jeromy Burnitz (NY Mets) 21 AB, 7 R, 9 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 5 BB, .429/.556/1.000, 1.556 OPS

AL - Tim Hudson (Oakland) 0-0, 14.2 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 6 BB, 10 K, 1.23 ERA
NL - Steve Trachsel (NY Mets) 2-0, 13 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 0.69 ERA

AL - Todd Walker (Boston) 26 AB, 3 H, 3 RBI, 1 BB, .115/.148/.115, .264 OPS
NL - Alex Gonzalez (Florida) 24 AB, 2 H, 2 RBI, 1 BB, .083/.120/.083, .203 OPS

AL - Joe Mays (Minnesota) 0-2, 5.1 IP, 12 H, 12 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 20.25 ERA
NL - Kirk Rueter (San Francisco) 0-1, 3 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 24.00 ERA
|| Peter @ 7/07/2003