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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Schoenfield: Verlander, Weaver good at baseball

Or as Flush Flaherty dumped out yesterday…“Where did Chris Sale and all those wins come from?!”

Verlander is now 12-7 with a 2.51 ERA, his won-loss record influenced by poor run support (entering Monday’s game, he had the eighth-lowest run support among qualified starters). Verlander leads the AL in innings and strikeouts, while ranking second to Weaver among starters in batting average allowed and OPS.

Weaver is now 15-1 with a 2.13 ERA, leading the AL in wins, ERA and routine fly balls to left field. He has won nine straight starts, with a 1.60 ERA over that span. It was his eighth start this year without allowing a run; no other starter has more than six (Johan Santana and Ryan Dempster) and even Verlander only has three such starts.

If much of this sounds familiar, it’s because we were in a similar position a year ago, with Verlander and Weaver battling for the AL Cy Young Award. Verlander ended up the unanimous winner, but it’s easy to forget it was a good debate much of the season. At this point a year ago, Verlander was 16-5 with a 2.30 ERA while Weaver was 14-5 with a 1.78 ERA. Verlander would win his next eight starts while Weaver sputtered to a 4.27 ERA over his final nine starts.

Verlander’s big advantage over Weaver is he has thrown 37 more innings; and while voters have learned to pay less attention to win-loss records, it’s hard to ignore Weaver’s 15-1 record.

...Right now, I’d probably vote for Verlander. He has the big innings edge over Weaver and Sale, and he doesn’t have the luxury of the same pitching-friendly home park like Weaver, Price or Hernandez. Still, it’s a solid five-person race right now, as deep and interesting a Cy Young race as we’ve seen in years.

Repoz Posted: August 07, 2012 at 09:50 AM | 51 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: August 07, 2012 at 10:47 AM (#4202181)
Angels tickets are part of my Groupon email today. I wish they'd let me unsubscribe.
   2. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: August 07, 2012 at 10:49 AM (#4202184)
I haven't paid as much attention this year as I usually do. Who are the leaders (in terms of media coverage as well as merit) for the various awards?
   3. JJ1986 Posted: August 07, 2012 at 10:53 AM (#4202187)
I haven't paid as much attention this year as I usually do. Who are the leaders (in terms of media coverage as well as merit) for the various awards?


NL: I think Harper, Dickey and McCutchen.
AL: Trout, Trout and Trout.
   4. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 07, 2012 at 11:00 AM (#4202191)
I don't watch any non-game baseball coverage on ESPN, but over at MLB Network, they sound like they're days away from erected a Mike Trout monument in Studio 42.
   5. zachtoma Posted: August 07, 2012 at 11:02 AM (#4202193)
Headline of the year, guys.
   6. AROM Posted: August 07, 2012 at 11:45 AM (#4202225)
No Angel goes by without somebody talking about Trout as the MVP. This is true watching the opponent broadcast as well.

The point about where Weaver and Verlander were one year ago today, and how they finished is a good one. Right now they are good candidates for Cy, as are Price and Sale.

For NL MVP, McCutchen has the numbers, and if the season ended today he's getting major bonus points for leading the first Pirate playoff team in 20 years. Even if the numbers fall off a bit, if the Pirates keep it up the award is his.
   7. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: August 07, 2012 at 11:55 AM (#4202238)
Wait, Detroit doesn't have a pitcher-friendly park? I thought cavernous and Comerica were synonyms.
   8. I Am Not a Number Posted: August 07, 2012 at 11:56 AM (#4202240)
Who are the leaders (in terms of media coverage as well as merit) for the various awards?

Isn't it late August/early September when the writers start floating their trial balloons? They'll reveal their preferences and, presumably (though never admittedly), gauge the ensuing reactions. Unless I am imagining this phenomenon, it seems to happen with greater regularity every passing year and the ultimate voting results continue to be less and less surprising, with enough unofficial information already "leaked" well in advance.
   9. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:08 PM (#4202249)
Weaver, hands down.
   10. Derb Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:11 PM (#4202253)
Wait, Detroit doesn't have a pitcher-friendly park? I thought cavernous and Comerica were synonyms.


I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I believe it's pretty neutral. Yeah, center, left-center, and right-center are deep (especially right-center), but it's fairly easy to put one out down the lines. It all adds up to become neutral.

People still remember the first year, before the fences were brought in in left (where the bullpens are now). That was a shot to get one out there. The only "easy" place to get a home run was the right field line. People still remember that, and call it a pitcher friendly park, which isn't necessarily true.
   11. Derb Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:12 PM (#4202256)
Weaver, hands down.


I'm a big Detroit fan, and even I have to agree with you. Before last night, Verlander was going through a bit of a rough spot. That may have cost him back-to-back Cy's.
   12. McCoy Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:16 PM (#4202262)
Harper is getting the hype in the NL but he shouldn't be getting the award. Aoki has been the better player.

I think technically Rizzo is still eligible to win the award. If he continues to pound the ball while Harper's OPS+ falls below 100 I think Rizzo should win it.
   13. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:25 PM (#4202271)
Wilin Rosario has been a pretty good player too. 18 home runs for a catcher who's only started 60 games?
   14. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:31 PM (#4202280)
Weaver, hands down.

I'm a big Detroit fan, and even I have to agree with you. Before last night, Verlander was going through a bit of a rough spot. That may have cost him back-to-back Cy's.
I'm not sure. Weaver's got better numbers, but how much of that is pitching and how much of that is defense?

The Tigers have a very poor defensive team. Cabrera hasn't been the complete embarrassment that many predicted, but he isn't good. Jhonny Peralta is an aging third baseman trying to fake shortshop, Prince Fielder is a born DH, and Delmon Young is the worst defensive player of all of these guys. The only plus glove regular is Austin Jackson.

The Angels, on the other hand, have Trout-Bourjos in the outfield, plus Pujols and a number of solid gloves in the infield. The only poor defender is Mark Trumbo, and they can hide him with two GG center fielders at the other two OF positions.

DRS has the Tigers defense 50 runs below average, UZR says 20. The Angels rate as +40 by DRS and +30 by UZR. That's a difference of 50-90 runs for the whole club, 7-15 runs between the two pitchers. That would put them even, or Verlander up.
   15. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:32 PM (#4202282)
Chris Sale grumble grumble grumble. I was surprised to see that Sale has a rather sizeable lead on Weaver in bWAR, despite the latter's half-a-run lead in ERA. Is the difference all down to park factors?

RE: post 7, I'm similarly surprised to see that bb-ref has Comerica as slightly hitter friendly over the past few seasons. I know RF and LF are no longer particularly deep, but flyballs absolutely die in CF at that place.
   16. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:33 PM (#4202287)
I was surprised to see that Sale has a rather sizeable lead on Weaver in bWAR, despite the latter's half-a-run lead in ERA. Is the difference all down to park factors?
Defense. All defense.
   17. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:35 PM (#4202290)
Trout is ridiculous. He's on pace for 11 WAR, which would be one of the top 20 seasons of all time.
   18. zonk Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:40 PM (#4202295)

I think technically Rizzo is still eligible to win the award. If he continues to pound the ball while Harper's OPS+ falls below 100 I think Rizzo should win


I'm relatively sure Rizzo burned up his rookie eligibility last year -- I can't recall if it's 150 ABs or 150 PAs, but he had 153 PAs in his Padre cup of coffee last year.

EDIT: The rules I found say 130 ABs -- so Rizzo just sneaks under with 128 ABs -- so maybe I'm wrong...
   19. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: August 07, 2012 at 12:46 PM (#4202301)
Defense. All defense.

Hmm -- I'm assuming that comes through in the DRS numbers, then? The Sox actually rate quite well in defensive efficiency, albeit merely average by UZR.
   20. AROM Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:15 PM (#4202323)
WAR for pitchers applies the team defense evenly, instead of to the specific pitcher who benefitted from the run saving play. Weaver's defense may have saved more or fewer runs for him specifically than the estimate. Maybe someday we'll have more granular data and more intensive computations to go past the short cut.

For what it's worth, Trout's catch of the year (the one vs. Baltimore) saved a homer for Weaver.
   21. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:23 PM (#4202327)
Harper is getting the hype in the NL but he shouldn't be getting the award. Aoki has been the better player.

I think technically Rizzo is still eligible to win the award. If he continues to pound the ball while Harper's OPS+ falls below 100 I think Rizzo should win it.


Aoki is a helluva defender. He saved a couple of runs last night against Cincinnati. He and Harper are very close in OPS+ and each has 13 steals, so both have a pretty good ROY case. Todd Frazier has the best rate stats among the three (.268/.325/.517, about 15 points of OPS+ over Aoki and Harper) but in 100 less PAs than Harper and 70 less than Aoki. And it's going to get tougher for Frazier to stay in the lineup when Votto returns.
   22. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:27 PM (#4202331)
WAR for pitchers applies the team defense evenly, instead of to the specific pitcher who benefitted from the run saving play. Weaver's defense may have saved more or fewer runs for him specifically than the estimate. Maybe someday we'll have more granular data and more intensive computations to go past the short cut.
I don't mean to say the following data is determinative, but it does suggest that Weaver is getting at least his share of the defensive support suggested by team DRS.

Weaver's BABIP is .230, compared to career .273, .264 in his 2010-2011 peak. Further, the strength of the Angels defense is their outfield, and Weaver is a flyball pitcher. Weaver has allowed only 15 doubles and 1 triple this year, a rate of 4.4% of opponent balls in play going for extra bases in play. For his career, he gives up doubles and triples on 7.2% of balls in play, the last two years his rate was 6.8%. That's a decrease of ~33%. I think Weaver is getting a ton of defensive support, as you'd expect for a flyball pitcher with the best outfield defense in the world behind him.
   23. rconn23 Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:47 PM (#4202344)
I don't think you can give Trout enough praise. He really is lapping the field right now. Cano and Cabrera are both having typically brilliant years, both worthy of MVPs, but they can't compete with Trout.
   24. Rants Mulliniks Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:52 PM (#4202349)
My ballot, if the season ended today, would be Verlander, Price, Weaver, Sale, Felix.

I put Verlander ahead of Weaver because of the huge innings advantage and disparity in defense, and Price ahead of him for quality of competition.
   25. Rants Mulliniks Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:53 PM (#4202351)
Trout may be a unanimous MVP if he keeps this up.
   26. AROM Posted: August 07, 2012 at 01:56 PM (#4202359)
I think Weaver would agree 100% that his defense has helped a ton this year. Last night ended on a fantastic leaping catch by Aybar (in his first game back off the DL, he's been missed.)

His decrease in doubles/triples may be attributed to him getting more ground balls. He's 33% for his career, and 38% this year. I'm not so sure the outfield defense is a specific strength. It is if the OF is Trout-Bourjos-Hunter, but they don't play that outfield most of the time. Trout's greatness and Hunter's goodness still adds up to a good OF even if Trumbo is the 3rd guy out there though. And the infield has been outstanding - All 4 guys have been gold glove quality. No matter where you give up your balls in play, Angels can defend it.
   27. Shredder Posted: August 07, 2012 at 02:19 PM (#4202383)
Trout is ridiculous. He's on pace for 11 WAR, which would be one of the top 20 seasons of all time.
And that's after missing the first month.

I know voters have put less weight on W-L the last few years, but if Weaver's ERA is pretty comparable to Verlander/Price/Sale, wins 20 games, and loses fewer than five, I think he's a lock. His nine start win streak is a nice feather in his cap as well. If he goes something like 21-3 or 21-4, his ERA would have to balloon to about 3.00 to lose the Cy Young, and if his ERA balloons like that, he probably won't win the requisite number of games.

Of course, the Angels could very well end up the Cy Young, ROY, and MVP, and still miss the playoffs.
   28. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: August 07, 2012 at 02:20 PM (#4202384)
Thanks for the responses. Trout's year is really incredible. Has there ever been anything like this? Cano is going to end up like Jeter, I guess, having MVP years in years where someone goes crazy.

Not sure I see how anyone can argue Weaver over Verlander, even before getting into the defense.
   29. AROM Posted: August 07, 2012 at 02:28 PM (#4202396)
Jeter has finished top 3 in MVP 3 times.

1998: Juan Gonzalez
2006: Justin Morneau
2009: Joe Mauer

Jeter had the better season than the award winner in 2 of those years. By "Somebody went crazy" you must mean the award voters.
   30. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 07, 2012 at 02:31 PM (#4202401)
Chris Sale could win the Cy Young, but over the last three weeks what he's done is made 2 starts of 5 runs each, then was given a ten-day break because of a "dead arm", then gave up 8 hits and 2 homers at home against the Royals last night (luckily this added up to only 2 runs). People are holding their breath.
   31. JJ1986 Posted: August 07, 2012 at 02:36 PM (#4202406)
Jeter had the better season than the award winner in 2 of those years. By "Somebody went crazy" you must mean the award voters.


Jeter's best year, though, was 1999, when someone did go crazy on the league (not that Pedro won).
   32. Jim Wisinski Posted: August 07, 2012 at 02:58 PM (#4202440)
I know voters have put less weight on W-L the last few years, but if Weaver's ERA is pretty comparable to Verlander/Price/Sale, wins 20 games, and loses fewer than five, I think he's a lock. His nine start win streak is a nice feather in his cap as well. If he goes something like 21-3 or 21-4, his ERA would have to balloon to about 3.00 to lose the Cy Young


I agree with this completely. A 20+ win pitcher with a very low ERA and winning 80% of his decisions isn't losing the Cy Young unless someone with a worse record is doing something absolutely ridiculous as far as ERA/Ks and right now nobody is.
   33. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: August 07, 2012 at 02:58 PM (#4202441)
I've heard a lot of Mays and Mantle comparisons (and, as I've noted earlier, they're not crazy), but the single best comp to Trout might be the 1990-1991 version of Bonds. Except that Trout is a plus CF instead of a LF and is five years younger than Bonds was at the time.
   34. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: August 07, 2012 at 02:59 PM (#4202442)
Yeah -- the fans and voters LOVE pitchers with a really high winning %. If Weaver is 21-4 or 20-3 he's a lock.
   35. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:04 PM (#4202449)
His decrease in doubles/triples may be attributed to him getting more ground balls. He's 33% for his career, and 38% this year. I'm not so sure the outfield defense is a specific strength. It is if the OF is Trout-Bourjos-Hunter, but they don't play that outfield most of the time. Trout's greatness and Hunter's goodness still adds up to a good OF even if Trumbo is the 3rd guy out there though. And the infield has been outstanding - All 4 guys have been gold glove quality. No matter where you give up your balls in play, Angels can defend it.
And Weaver's BABIP is 40 points below his career rate.

It's possible that Weaver's defensive support hasn't saved a lot of runs for him, but I think that by a wide margin the most convincing read of the data is that Weaver's an excellent pitcher whose runs allowed numbers overrate him by about a full win.

EDIT: To be clear, Weaver would be nowhere close to a bad Cy Young selection. He's pitching excellent. But I think he's behind Verlander on the merits, right now.
   36. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:05 PM (#4202450)
I've heard a lot of Mays and Mantle comparisons (and, as I've noted earlier, they're not crazy), but the single best comp to Trout might be the 1990-1991 version of Bonds. Except that Trout is a plus CF instead of a LF and is five years younger than Bonds was at the time.
It's beyond incredible what that guy is doing. A lot of great players do a bit of everything. Trout does everything of everything.
   37. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:08 PM (#4202454)
It is if the OF is Trout-Bourjos-Hunter, but they don't play that outfield most of the time. Trout's greatness and Hunter's goodness still adds up to a good OF even if Trumbo is the 3rd guy out there though. And the infield has been outstanding - All 4 guys have been gold glove quality. No matter where you give up your balls in play, Angels can defend it.
The Angel outfield next season will be Trumbo-Bourjos-Trout. If Trumbo can be even league average out there, Weaver's 2011-2012 peak can roll on for a few more seasons, and his peak is going to start looking Hall-of-Fame quality.
   38. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4202476)
It's beyond incredible what that guy is doing. A lot of great players do a bit of everything. Trout does everything of everything.

Including a sweet add to the "gunned down by Josh Reddick" list.

I know, I know. Shut up. I'M TRYING TO MAKE LEMONADE, OVER HERE.
   39. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:27 PM (#4202493)
Including a sweet add to the "gunned down by Josh Reddick" list.
HE WAS SAFE!
   40. Repoz Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4202540)
Trout does everything of everything.

Your're telling me. Just last night he passed Manny in career steals already!
   41. Morph Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:52 PM (#4202545)
I've heard a lot of Mays and Mantle comparisons (and, as I've noted earlier, they're not crazy), but the single best comp to Trout might be the 1990-1991 version of Bonds. Except that Trout is a plus CF instead of a LF and is five years younger than Bonds was at the time.


I haven't heard many comparisons to Joe Dimaggio. Dimag probably could fly at the beginning of his career.
   42. BWV 1129 Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:53 PM (#4202549)
Should we penalize pitchers for pitching to their team's/ballpark's strengths?
   43. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:54 PM (#4202551)
Should we penalize pitchers for pitching to their team's/ballpark's strengths?
We should credit defenses for their share of run prevention.

You can't give Trout credit for saving 10 runs unless you take that credit away from the Angels' pitchers. Math don't add up otherwise.
   44. AROM Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:54 PM (#4202552)
EDIT: To be clear, Weaver would be nowhere close to a bad Cy Young selection. He's pitching excellent. But I think he's behind Verlander on the merits, right now.


If I were capable of being objective on this, I'd probably agree.
   45. BWV 1129 Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:55 PM (#4202553)
Reddick made a hell of a throw, but the tag was never applied. It's hard to believe major league umps would miss a call.

Trout does not have a notable arm, and he routinely gets awful jumps on his SB attempts. Ten years from now, when he slows down to fast, he'll have to be better at that.
   46. BWV 1129 Posted: August 07, 2012 at 03:56 PM (#4202556)
- Should we penalize pitchers for pitching to their team's/ballpark's strengths?

No, but we should credit defenses for their share of run prevention.


Absolutely. I would argue that our means of doing so are rather remedial, but that's probably a whole other conversation.
   47. AROM Posted: August 07, 2012 at 04:24 PM (#4202604)
Trout does not have a notable arm, and he routinely gets awful jumps on his SB attempts. Ten years from now, when he slows down to fast, he'll have to be better at that.


Though by that time he might be hitting so many homers that he doesn't need to run anymore.
   48. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: August 07, 2012 at 05:00 PM (#4202649)
and he routinely gets awful jumps on his SB attempts.

Is that true? I haven't seen many of his steals. His SB rate is over 90% for his career, so even with his ridiculous speed it's a little hard to believe that he gets bad jumps.
   49. Nasty Nate Posted: August 07, 2012 at 05:16 PM (#4202664)
Speaking of the Angels, why (besides not being on base much) has Bourjos not been attempting steals?
   50. BWV 1129 Posted: August 07, 2012 at 05:16 PM (#4202665)
Yeah, I think his jumps are often lousy. He's just that fast where it doesn't really matter. He actually would have been out on an attempt last night had the throw been a bit better.
   51. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 07, 2012 at 11:35 PM (#4202898)
Pitchers are eligible for Rookie of the Year too! In the NL, I think Wade Miley's got a pretty good case so far. He's 12-7 with a 2.85 ERA, 3.3 WAR. And he was an All-Star.

As a dark-horse candidate, I love Mike Fiers, who no one seems to be talking about. He now has a 1.80 ERA in 12 starts (80 IP) with 9.0 K/9 and 5.0 K/BB, and 3.1 WAR. He had similar numbers in the minors so I don't think he's a fluke. Maybe people aren't excited about him because of his age (he's already 27).

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