MLB Thoughts & Theories 8/14/12
Washington Stakes Claim As Baseball’s Best
The NL’s hottest and best team proved too much for even one of the league’s best pitchers. Ryan Vogelsong came into Monday’s showdown between the Giants and Nationals with a pristine 2.45 ERA. Washington then scored one in the first and seven in the third inning to chase Vogelsong after by far his worst performance of the season.Recent acquisition Kurt Suzuki drove in four runs in his return to the Bay Area and Washington trounced San Francisco 14-2.
“The boys are in a good mood,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “Just like the skipper. It was fun to watch the offense. We beat up on a pretty good pitcher.”
Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez fared a lot better than Vogelsong did, allowing only two runs over 6 2/3 innings. His team has now won 13 of 14 and own baseball’s best record and best run differential. The Nats lead the big leagues in runs scored since the All-Star break and have to be the favorites to host game one of the World Series at this point.
Yankees Show Important Pitching Depth
The potential pitching depth of the American League’s best two teams were on full display on Monday night. In the top of the first inning, David Phelps, CC Sabathia’s injury replacement, trotted out to the mound and Ryan Dempster, Texas’ big trade deadline acquisition, came out in the bottom of the first.
Dempster had a mixed first two starts since coming over to the American League and was staked to an early 2-0 lead. Then Phelps was able to pick off a couple of Rangers baserunners and Dempster could not avoid the big inning. ”I know how to make pitches,” Dempster said. “When you’re facing lineups and you don’t get that break at the bottom of the lineup where you have the pitcher hitting, and you always have a hitter, every pitch is really, really valuable and it just comes down to executing one pitch at a time. Simple plan. Nothing more and nothing less than that. And tonight, I paid for my mistakes.”
Nick Swisher’s grand slam highlighted a five-run third inning and New York pounded Texas 8-2 in the first of a telling four-game series in the Bronx. Dempster has now allowed eight earned runs in two of his three AL starts and Phelps showed he has the ability to be a reliable starter in a big game.
Then came the icing on the cake for the Yankees. Derek Lowe made his first relief appearance in several years, and his sinker and slider were working magnificently against a potent Rangers offense. He threw four scoreless innings to record his first regular season save since August of 2001 and showed that New York’s pitching depth may not be so dire after all.
Thoughts & Theories
-They may not have any offensive consistency, but the Rays sure can pitch. Alex Cobb, the team’s fifth starter, allowed one run over seven innings and threw strikes to 22 of the 26 batters he faced in a 4-1 win over Seattle. It was the seventh straight win for Tampa Bay and its 10th victory over its last 12 to put itself in good position to make the playoffs. The Rays’ team ERA since the All-Star break is an amazing 2.29, nearly a point better than the next best mark, Atlanta’s 3.14.
-I was playing around with some defensive numbers yesterday and found a few interesting things: Seattle SS Brendan Ryan has the best UZR in baseball, but Ichiro Suzuki is a surprising second this season. The UZR All-Stars would be Adrian Gonzalez at 1B, Darwin Barney at 2nd, Ryan at SS (by a lot), Mike Moustakas at third and Suzuki, Michael Bourn and Alfonso Soriano (surprised me too) in the outfield.
Two of the four worst defensive players, according to FanGraphs, are Yankees stars Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter. The worst at each position? Eric Hosmer at first, Rickie Weeks at 2nd, Jeter at SS, Chris Johnson and third and an outfield of Granderson, Lucas Duda and Brennan Boesch.
Here are the five worst and five best defensive teams: The Mariners, Angels, Braves, Rangers and Cubs are the best. The Mets, Orioles, Rockies, Indians and Tigers are the five worst.