Predictorama! 2011: Into The West

Welcome to the third installment of my annual divisional prognostications! Today we finish up with the American and National League West divisions. Why not just plunge right in?

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AL West:

2010 Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez will make 30 quality starts and win less than half of them. Larry Bernandez will make 27 quality starts and win less than a third of them.

Jerry Blevins will lose 4 pounds as the result of a stomach flu and on the first breezy day will float away like a dandelion spore.

Howie Kendrick will take up knitting!

Elvis Andrus will learn to tap dance and cement his status as the Shirley Temple of major league baseball.

First Place: Oakland A’s (because I want to go out on a limb somewhere.)

Last Place: Seattle Mariners

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NL West:

Carlos Gonzalez will hit 18 more home runs and Troy Tulowitzki 4 more cycles off of Cubs pitching.

I don’t have any predictions for Arizona. I just want to point out that I was wrong about Detroit… the Diamondbacks also have 3 Virginia natives on their roster (Justin Upton, Joe Saunders, and Daniel Hudson.) I, for one, never would have thunk it. 

Now bereft of their All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, the Padres offense will not hit a home run in Petco Park once the entire 2011 season.

Ted Lilly will hit a home run… at Petco Park. Dun dun dun!

Freddy Sanchez will discover and re-popularize “The Freddie.”

First Place: Colorado Rockies

Last Place: San Diego Padres

NL Wildcard Winner: San Francisco Giants

 


 

 

 



 

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2010 MLB Year in Superlatives: Part One

The 2010 Major League baseball season is officially over and done with. Now that the off-season  has commenced, I can think of nothing better to do than to take a look back at the events, the highs and lows, the quirks of 2010. Lets think of it as a baseball funeral… but let us not consider it a sad event, the passing away of this season. Instead let us celebrate the wonder of the season that was!

This is the first of two FBB installments on the 2010 MLB Year in Superlatives.

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Most Bizarre Injuries: On the American League side the distinction goes to the Angels Kendry Morales for breaking his leg in the happy victory huddle at home plate after he’d hit a walk off grand slam. A happy victory huddle never turned into a sad defeat huddle so fast. I bestow the title #1 freaky injury on the National League side upon Tyler Colvin (who we now- thankfully- know for sure is not a vampire.)

Honorable mentions: Mat Latos, who went down holding in a sneeze and Marcus Thames, who tripped on his own bat and landed on the DL.

Greatest commercial cameo: Randy Johnson’s snowball bit for Geico. I can’t be the only one who thought this was stinking funny.

Biggest surprise(s): First, the San Diego Padres. They may have just missed the playoffs, but who expected them to even be close? I know I didn’t. Second, Jose Bautista. The man is 30 years old, was entering his seventh year in the majors, was playing for his sixth team, and nobody knew his name. Guys like that don’t usually end up hitting 54 home runs.

Biggest disappointment: Who else is deeply embarrassed for thinking that the Seattle Mariners would be good this year? I know I’m not the only guilty party. The really sad thing is that they weren’t just not-good. They were the very definition of stinky.

Happiest news out of Japan: The at-last unleashed offensive fury of Matt Murton. I always knew he had it in him.

Best Names from the Draft: Corderius Dodd. Trugg Larsson-Danforth. Roderick Shoulders. Theophilus Griffin. Sebastian Vader. Gauntlett Eldemire.

Best Worst Headline: Pirates’ plan is to acquire talent from Draft

Worst Gun-Jumping Journalism: Remember when, for a few hours, Cliff Lee was “traded to the Yankees”?

Best Slide: Fordham’s Brian Kownacki turned in not just the best slide of this year, but perhaps the greatest slide in history.

Photo of the Year: Or at least, photo-of-the-year-that-looks-like-it-would-be-a-painting.

Photo of the post-season: Does anyone in this picture really have a clue what they are doing with their hands?


Weirdest Photo of the Year: Xavier Nady is not the man you think he is.

Feel-good moment of the year: Dallas Braden’s perfect game on Mother’s Day had to be 2010’s warmest, fuzziest event.

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Look for 2010 MLB Year in Superlatives: Part Two coming up later this week!

The San Francisco Giants are champions of the world!

Big FBB congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on winning their first World Series since 1954. I honestly don’t know how they did it. Solid pitching helps, but you don’t usually see teams with lineups devoid of any real premier bats winning championships.

I applaud the Giants’ for their excellent “teaminess,” which obviously took them a very long way.

Go crazy, San Francisco!

“Toasted Ranger, anyone?”

Before I say anything, let me just state that the title of this post does not imply that I assume Texas is toast (Rhyme!) I simply happened to have the quote in my database and figured a more opportune time to use it was not likely to soon present itself.

The Rangers may not be toast yet, but the fact is, they have their backs to the wall. Both their fans and bloggers who picked them to win are now nervous. Coming back isn’t impossible, but it ain’t looking likely.

Tonight’s game will feature the repeat match-up of Timmy Lincecum and Cliff Lee. While the first go-around of this battle-of-aces was a thorough disappointment, I think round two will be different. I think (or at least hope) that both pitchers will be their acey selves this time. But who has the edge? This is the way I see it, broken down into a few important factors:

Track Records : This is Mr. Lincecum’s first postseason and World Series, and only Mr. Lee’s second so this factor doesn’t hold too much weight. Both pitchers have performed very well in their limited postseason experience. I see the scales tipped ever so slightly in Mr. Lee’s favor.

Composure: Not that Timmy is uncomposed or anything, but this category I also give to Mr. Lee. He always seems to eat pressure for brunch.

Hair: If any pitcher is capable of drawing some Samsonian power from his locks, it is Mr. Lincecum.

Height: Mr. Lee obviously gets this one. Sorry, Tim… it’s only fair.

Hitting: Unfortunately, neither pitcher will get to hit tonight in Texas. Cliff Lee would best Mr. Lincecum if they did. I consider it a true shame he’s been an American League lifer.

Middle Names: This one is tough. Clifton Phifer Lee or Timothy LeRoy Lincecum. In the end, I have to go with Mr. Lincecum purely because another great pitcher by the name of Halladay also bears the middle name LeRoy.

Offense & Defense: Who will be face the tougher batters, and who will be better supported their teammates? It’s impossible to know for sure. On one hand, Texas put forward some of the best offensive stats of any team during the regular season. On the other hand, the Rangers bats have been effectively silenced thus far and the Giants hitters have burst out from outta nowhere. On a third hand, it is hard to believe that such a potent offense as Texas has will be kept at bay for very long. Whether it is too late for them to salvage the series or not, I feel that the Rangers offense will do enough to support Mr. Lee tonight.

The Bottom Line: I’m giving this one to Cliff Lee and his Rangers. I think they will live to fight another day. There is still, of course, the very real possibility that tonight’s game will be the last of the 2010 Major League Baseball season. I highly recommend tuning in. You know… just in case.

2010 World Series Preview

30 teams, 4,860 regular season games, 27 postseason games, and it has all come down to this. Two teams; the Rangers and the Giants. Only one can prevail. Who has four wins left in the tank? Ladies and gentlemen, THE WORLD SERIES IS UPON US!

Before I go any farther, let me just offer my sincere congratulations to the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers and all of their fans. Neither team was favored to make it this far and I am looking forward to watching this underdoggy-ish World Series more than I have any match-up in a long time.

I came awfully to close to prediction perfection in the division and championship series, with only Philadelphia letting me down. I can live with that, however, as it means that the Phillies have 0% chance of winning another championship.

I’ll be sticking with my original prediction for Series champs. The Giants may have a nightmare inducing (for hitters) pitching staff and home-field advantage, but I believe that the Rangers offense (which have given AL pitchers a few bad dreams of their own) will be able to come out on top. Not to even mention their having a not-so-secret weapon by the name of Cliff Lee. In short, I feel that Texas has the most well-rounded roster of the two. I feel that they will take the series in… less than 7 games, but more than 4. You can write that down, and if I’m right… well, I think that’s worth at least half a jar of Nutella.

It is, of course, baseball. Anything in the world might happen, and that is why they play the games and why we watch them.

Two additional (and very important) points to take into deep consideration:

The Cub Factor. The Giants camp contains no less than 3 former Chicago Cubs players (Mike Fontenot, Andres Torres, and Mark DeRosa) in comparison to the Rangers’ one (Andres Blanco.) This usually portends doom. You could argue that neither Mr. Torres nor Mr. DeRo count. You could do that. But… I ain’t gonna. Therefore: doom.

VBL Power! Possibly negating the Cub factor, San Francisco comes out well on top in the Valley League alumni department. Texas has zero former VBL’ers that I am aware of. The Giants have Aubrey Huff (a one-time Staunton Brave) at first base and- most importantly- 1996 New Market Rebel Javier Lopez in the bullpen. Never underestimate VBL Power.

I really love this match-up because, either way it goes, I will be able to find things to be happy about. For example….

If the Rangers win, I will be happy because:

-I will have picked the winner.

-I will be able to join in the Texas joy with a glass of celebratory ginger-ale from my living room.

-There are only so many instances in which posting the following illustration would be so appropriate: -I’m sure I would be hearing Josh Hamilton talk a lot, and I like hearing Josh Hamilton talk.

If the Giants win, I will be happy because:

-Nobody (besides, perhaps, a few zealous Giants fans) predicted such a thing at the beginning of the year.

-I will get to see Buster Posey make this face again: -However awkward the 2011 ceremony might be, Bengie Molina will still get a ring.

-Even though I’m rooting for Texas, seeing the likes of Mike Fontenot, Mark DeRosa, Pablo Sandoval, Freddy Sanchez, etc., all happy would not fail to make me all happy.

Whatever happens, I hope that everyone will be watching the Series and enjoying. I know I will.

 

R is for Rookie

In honor of the American and National League Championship Series, we’re going to take a fun little stroll down memory lane and revisit what some of the more prominent players looked like as rookies (or, even better, minor leaguers.) Why? Because it’s fun.

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NLCS

Tim Lincecum: Insert your own caption here. My head is about to explode with all the possibilities…

Jimmy Rollins: You know how in some sitcoms they’ll do flashback episodes and give the main characters ridiculous hairstyles to communicate the point that they’re supposed to be younger? It’s the sort of thing audiences laugh at because it is so silly and unrealistic. Yet if you put a braided wig on Jimmy Rollins now… would he not look exactly the same as he does on this card?

Harry Leroy Halladay:

Jayson Werth: I know that I have posted this photo before, but I simply can’t get over it.ALCS

Kerry Wood: Before he lost the baby fat.

CC Sabathia: His baby fat never went anywhere.

Derek Jeter: I could have produced an entire gallery of just amusing Derek Jeter rookie photos. Not even joking.

Josh Hamilton: The face is the same… the forearms, not so much.

Vladimir Guerrero: When Vladdy was but a laddy.

Cliff Lee: Clifton Phifer Lee looks exactly the same now as he did 8 years ago. Ten bucks says that another 8 years won’t change him a bit, either.

Postseason Roundup, Round One

2010 has certainly lived up to its billing as “Year of the Pitcher” in the first round of the playoffs. Roy Halladay did his thing. Cole Hamels: complete game shutout. Tim Lincecum: complete game shutout. Jonathan Sanchez: 7.1 innings, 1 run. Tim Hudson: 7 shutout innings. Phil Hughes: 7 runless innings. Cliff Lee: 16 total innings, 2 runs. CJ Wilson: 6.1 scoreless frames. Strikeouts are comin’ out the wazoo, and bases on balls are an endangered species. You know guys must be doing pretty well when you can make fun of Matt Garza’s 1 run in 6 innings. The only stinky pitching came from the quarters of Minnesota and Cincinnati. Even that wasn’t all stinky. Bronson Arroyo did alright. Seriously though, if this continues I expect the remainder of the postseason to be all kinds of delicious. (A Barry Zito-CJ Wilson World Series pitching match-up is still my ultimate dream.)

But how did my predictions hold up through round one? Behold:

Philly over Cincy in the battle of red-colored NL teams I can’t stand? Check. Kooky, quirky San Francisco over Bobby Cox’s Bravos? Check. Yankees over the Twins? Obviously. And the nail-biting down to the wire Rays-Rangers series? RANGERS TAKE IT!!! * Fist Pump * On a side note, if you are interested, tomorrow’s winning lottery numbers are: 10 14 23 26 31 and 42.

Here are some photographic highlights from the opening round series (one for each team):

Texas celebrates its series win with ginger ale so as to include Josh Hamilton in the festivities. A commendable decision, to say in the least.

You can cut your hair now, Mr. Longoria.

The San Francisco Giants offer a salute to Atlanta’s Bobby Cox after their series win. Classy.

Bobby says goodbye

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No October smiles for Brandon Phillips.

Is it cold, CC?

See you next year, Mr. Mauer.