March 30, 2014 by
Despite hitting 86 home runs the last two seasons, Chris Davis is still one of the most underrated players in baseball.
Several major league baseball teams spent the winter spending money like a drunken sailor in hopes of moving to the top of the league. Yet, as we prepare for the 2014 season the teams expected by many to contend are a combination of big money and middle payroll teams.
For now, the Los Angeles Dodgers have surpassed the New York Yankees as the team with baseball’s highest payroll. However, that doesn’t mean the team in the Bronx is suddenly being frugal. The suspension of Alex Rodriguez hacked a large salary off their payroll, but the Yankees made up for that by signing Japanese pitching star Masahiro Tanaka and high money free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann.
While several teams in recent years have been able to make the playoffs without high payrolls, once the playoffs begin the higher payrolls have generally had an advantage. That was quite obvious last season in the two playoff series that went to a decisive game. The higher payroll Cardinals and Tigers each started a seasoned veteran in the fifth game of their division round playoff series (Adam Wainwright and Justin Verlander, respectively). Their opponents, the Pirates and A’s, each started a rookie who wasn’t even in the major leagues when the 2013 season started.
Having a high payroll is no guarantee that a team will make the playoffs, but big off-season spending has certainly put several teams in a position to contend.
Below are a few thoughts heading into the 2014 season:
Baseball’s Most Underrated Player
In the last two seasons Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis has hit 86 home runs, driven in 223 runs and scored 178 runs, yet ESPN’s recent player rankings didn’t have him listed among the top 25 players in the game. The Sybermetrics disciples have become so enamored with WAR and other made-up stats that they have forgotten that driving in and scoring runs is the name of the game. As a team, the Orioles have been generally dismissed despite having two consecutive solid seasons, but they have a very potent offensive and if David has another strong season the O’s could again be in contention throughout the season.
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October 31, 2013 by
The Boston Red Sox slid past the St. Louis Cardinals to win Game Six and the 2013 World Series.
After a 2012 season filled with internal bickering, a trade that removed three of the best players from the roster and a record that was the third worst in the American League, who could have predicted that just 12 months later the Boston Red Sox would be the 2013 World Series Champions?
Yet, despite basically starting from scratch with a roster that included a dozen new faces, there were the Red Sox defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 in game six to claim their third World Series title in a decade and first being clinched at Fenway Park since 1918.
The final game was perhaps the least dramatic of a World Series that had two “first ever” endings.
Game three, a 5-4 Cardinals victory, was the first World Series game ever ended on a fielder obstruction play. Then the next night, the Red Sox tied the series at two games each when Koji Uehara picked off Kolten Wong with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to preserve a 4-2 victory.
As was the case throughout the season, the key for the Red Sox against the Cardinals was timely hitting, strong starting pitching and a lights out bullpen. Read the rest of this entry →
October 29, 2013 by
Jon Lester’s second masterful performance of the World Series has the Boston Red Sox needing just one win for their third title since 2004.
With the World Series tied at 2 games apiece, Jon Lester proved to the world that he is truly an ace, as the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 in game five of the World Series, which gives Boston the 3-2 series lead.
Lester pitched 7 and two third innings, giving up just one run on four hits. The one run he let up was a home run to leftfielder Matt Holliday in the bottom of the 4th that tied the game at 1. Lester then retired 13 straight hitters before giving up a double to David Freese in the 8th inning, and was taken out after Pete Kozma flew out, and closer Koji Uehara shut the door with a 5 out save.
The Red Sox offense started early as they scored their first run in the first when Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz had back to back doubles to take a 1-0 lead. With the game tied at 1, the Red Sox took the lead for good in the top of the 7th when David Ross hit a ground rule double that scored Xander Bogaerts.
Ross’s ground rule double, may have stayed in the yard at Fenway, and had it not bounced into the stands, Bogaerts would have easily scored from first base. After Jon Lester struck out on a bunt foul, Jacoby Ellsbury, who is most likely playing in his final games with Boston, hit a bloop single into centerfield which scored Bogaerts. Ross tried to score on the play but was thrown out at the plated by Shane Robinson. The tag at the plate was close, but Yadier Molina was just able to tag Ross out. Read the rest of this entry →
October 23, 2013 by
The 2013 World Series is the 4th ever Fall Classic meeting between the Cardinals and Red Sox.
When the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals do battle in Game 1 of the 2013 World Series, it will be the first time since 1999 that the American League and National League champions were the teams with the best record in their respective leagues. The Sox and Redbirds both finished with 97 wins this season, sharing the best record in the majors. It’s not the first time that these franchises have met under the bright lights of October, either. St. Louis holds a 2-1 advantage over the Red Sox in their three previous World Series match-ups, although Boston swept the Cardinals in their last meeting back in 2004. The 2013 rendition of these squads appear to be dead even at first glance, so let’s do a little digging and find out who has the edge in this series.
Starting Rotation: Cardinals starters went 77-46 in 2013, with an ERA of 3.42, but the real story for this group has been the emergence of rookie sensation Michael Wacha. Wacha has a minuscule 0.43 ERA in his three starts this postseason. Opponents are hitting an abysmal .114 off of him, and he was named MVP of the NLCS for his efforts. Lost in the Wacha craze has been that the Cards still have a bonafide ace in Adam Wainwright. Wainwright has gone 2-1 in three postseason starts for St. Louis, holding opponents to a .207 batting average with an ERA of 1.57. The Red Sox will likely counter with Jon Lester and John Lackeyas their one-two punch. Lester has been the best starting pitcher in Boston’s rotation in the postseason, going 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA while holding opponents to a .229 average. Lackey was the winner in both of his starts to this point, going 2-0 with a perfectly square 3.00 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .244 off of the potential comeback player of the year. As is the case with most individual match-ups in this series, there isn’t much of a difference. But the one-two punch of Wainwright and Wacha push the Cards over the top. Edge Cardinals. Read the rest of this entry →
January 20, 2013 by
Stan Musial joined the Cardinals in 1941 and was named an All-Star 20 times during his career.
The history of baseball is filled with legendary figures from Cobb, Ruth, DiMaggio and Williams to Aaron, Mays, Clemente and Griffey. One baseball legend who transcended generations was the great Stan “The Man” Musial, who passed away Saturday at the age of 92.
Musial made his debut during the magical 1941 season, which seems fitting for a player who would become an all-time great.
In the months before Pearl Harbor and America’s entrance into World War II, the country was fixated on baseball and captivated by a pair of stars who were doing magical things with a bat.
Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees parlayed a record 56-game hitting streak into the MVP season. Ted Williams “The Splendid Splinter” ran away with baseball’s batting crown with a .406 average. No one could have predicted that more than 70 years later both records would remain unmatched across the annals of baseball.
Musial’s major league debut came in the second game of a doubleheader on September 17, 1941. He got two hits as the Cardinals defeated the Boston Braves 3-2.
That debut occurred barely a year after it was feared Musial’s career might be over before it started. Originally signed from his hometown of Denora, Pennsylvania as a pitcher and outfielder, Musial was playing for Daytona in the Florida State League when he jammed his left shoulder diving for a ball and was no longer able to pitch. However, little more than a year later he was thrust into a playoff race as a late-season call-up of the Cardinals.
When Musial made his debut, the Cardinals were on their way to an impressive 97-56 record, but were a game behind the first place Brooklyn Dodgers. They were 7-5 in the final 12 games, with Musial playing in all 12, and ended the season 2.5 games behind the Dodgers and their 100-54 record. Read the rest of this entry →
October 06, 2012 by
A blown umpire call let the St. Louis Cardinals get away with a major blunder in the eighth inning on their way to defeating the Atlanta Braves in the Wild Card Playoff Game.
Even after nearly eight hours of baseball, one of the worst calls in playoff history, uneven play by every team and victories by the two road teams, it is still hard to know exactly what to make of the first “Wild Card Day” in Major League Baseball history.
Since in the old playoff system the Orioles and Rangers, who were tied with records of 93-69, would have been meeting in a one-game playoff, there really was just one game that was added to the playoff schedule in the new format. And while there was some excitement, there was also controversy and ultimately a team having their season end in a one game showdown despite finishing six games better than the other team during the 162 game regular season.
For the Atlanta Braves, it marks the second straight year that they have been edged out of a trip to the LDS by the St. Louis Cardinals. However, unlike in 2011 when the Cardinals used a month-long Braves collapse to sneak ahead of them in the standings, this time they did it with a head-to-head wild card victory.
Some have used the awful infield fly call in the eighth inning as justification as to why you need more than a one game “winner take all” playoff to determine which team will advance. The thinking being that over time breaks even out and seasons shouldn’t be decided on one questionable call.
I understand the argument, but the reality is that while the eighth inning call will go down as one of the worst umpiring mistakes in playoff history (whether MLB wants to acknowledge it or not), there were many other instances that contributed to the Braves’ loss. The atypical fourth inning error by future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones directly led to three runs and erased an early 2-0 Braves lead. The Braves made three errors during the game and only two of the six runs given up were credited as “earned runs.” Read the rest of this entry →