Feb 27, 2013: How predictable is spring training?

Do Spring records matter?

mlb logoARIZONA & FLORIDA - The 2013 Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues are in full swing in Arizona and Florida. How predictable are spring won-loss records to regular season records?

Most of the teams that made it to the post-season in 2012 had decent springs a year ago (see below). The ultimate World Series champ San Francisco Giants had the 3rd best record in the Arizona Cactus League. The exceptions were the Rangers, Nationals and Braves, who had decidedly subpar springs.

The team with the best record in the Cactus League in 2012, the Oakland A's, made it to the playoffs. However, the team with the best record in the Grapefruit League, and in fact all of baseball last spring, the Toronto BlueJays, saw no post-season action.

Here are the teams that made the playoffs last year, and how they did in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues:

American League
AL East: New York Yankees
.............(4th place Grapefruit 18-12)

AL Central: Detroit Tigers.................(2nd place Grapefruit 20-8)
AL West: Oakland A's.......................(1st place Cactus 15-7)
AL Wildcard: Baltimore Orioles........(8th place Grapefruit 11-13)
AL Wildcard: Texas Rangers.............(14th place Cactus 12-17)

National League
NL East: Washington Nationals
..........(13th place Grapefruit 12-17)
NL Central: Cincinnati Reds................(7th place Cactus 17-17)
NL West: San Francisco Giants..........(3rd place Cactus 18-15)
NL Wildcard: St. Louis Cardinals........(3rd place Grapefruit 16-9)
NL Wildcard: Atlanta Braves...............(14th place Grapefruit 10-18)

Contributing sources: 
2012 Spring training records 
2012 Regular season stats 
Pennant Races

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Feb 14, 2013: How predictable are the prognosticators Part 2

Post-season award predictions

FLORIDA & ARIZONA - As players arrive to their respective spring training camps in Florida and Arizona, the predictions surface. Here's who Bleacher Report predicts will win the major individual awards at end of the coming season:

Bleacher Report 2013 Award Predictions

American League
MVP: Albert Pujols (Angels)
Cy Young: Chris Sale (White Sox)
Rookie of the Year: Dylan Bundy (Orioles)

National League
MVP: Bryce Harper (Nationals)
Cy Young: Cliff Lee (Phillies)
Rookie of the Year: Kolten Wong (Cardinals)

All predictions are tough, but these especially. Only the most rabid Angels fans ever even heard of Mike Trout at this time last year. Needless to say, none of BR's predictions came out exactly as they predicted.

Bleacher Report 2012 Award Predictions vs Actual winners

Predicted winner..................Actual winner
American League
MVP:
Robinson Cano (Yankees)........Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
Cy Young: Jered Weaver (Angels)........David Price (Rays)
Rookie of the Year: Matt Moore (Rays)........Mike Trout (Angels)

National League
MVP: Joey Votto (Reds)........Buster Posey (Giants)
Cy Young: Roy Halladay (Phillies)........R.A. Dickey (Mets)
Rookie of the Year: Anthony Rizzo (Cubs)........Bryce Harper (Nationals)

Contributing Sources:
Bleacher Report AL award predictions
Bleacher Report NL award predictions 
2012 Bleacher Report award predictions 
2012 Rookie of the year award winners 
2012 MVP & Cy Young award winners 

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Feb 13, 2013: How Predictable are the Prognosticators

You hoping Baseball Prospectus is wrong?

FLORIDA & ARIZONA - As spring training 2013 begins so do the prognostications. Baseball Prospetus picks the Yankees, Tigers and Angels to be 2013 American League division winners. Nationals, Reds and Dodgers are favored by BP in the National League. Every other team is hoping BP is wrong.

How accurate was Baseball Prospectus last year? Let's look:

2012 Predicted Division Winners........Actual Division Winners
AL East..........New York Yankees.................New York Yankees
AL Central......Detroit Tigers........................Detroit Tigers
AL West.........Texas Rangers......................Oakland A's


NL East...........Philadelphia Phillies...............Washington Nationals
NL Central......Cincinnati Reds.....................Cincinnati Reds
NL West.........Arizona Diamondbacks..........San Francisco Giants

A's, Nationals and Giants fans were glad BP was wrong about them in 2012, especially the Giants who went on to win the World Series. As the old saying goes, "That's why they play the game."

Contributing Sources:
2012 Baseball Prospetus Predictions 
2012 AL Division Winners 
2012 NL Division Winners 

This TODAY in BASEBALL history story is brought to you by TODAYinBASEBALL.com.


Jan 19 & 20, 2013 - Politics

Politics and baseball

WASHINGTON, D.C., As the nation gets ready to inaugurate President Barack Obama a second time, let's reminisce about politics and baseball.

Many of you know that former Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was a dominant pitcher for most of his 17 years in the majors, mostly for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies. Finshed his career 224-184 with a 3.27 ERA. He is one of the few to throw no-hitters in both leagues.

Former New York Governor and presidential candidate Mario Cuomo had a promising baseball career cut short by a fastball. He was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates organization in 1951 and assigned to their Brunswick minor league team. Later that first season he was hit in the head by a fastball. It was so serious doctors advised he give up baseball, which he did, and went on to finish law school.

The Chicago Cubs' dominance of baseball attention in the Windy City continues despite the White House being inhabited by a Sox fan. A fan, President Barack Obama, who did not worry about alienating fans of the city's north side team during the 2008 campaign. This is what he told ESPN when asked who he'd root for in a Sox-Cubs World Series, "Oh, that's easy. White Sox. I'm not one of these fair-weather fans. You go to Wrigley Field, you have a beer; beautiful people up there. People aren't watching the game. It's not serious. White Sox, that's baseball. South Side."

Former President George W. Bush was principal owner of the Texas Rangers. His father, former President George H. W. Bush played baseball for Yale.

What other baseball-politics connections can you think of?

Contributing sources: 
ESPN 
Mario Cuomo in the Minors  


Sept 20, 1998: Ripken not in the lineup

Cal Ripken’s streak ends

BALTIMORE, MARYLANDCal Ripken didn’t play for the Baltimore Orioles on this date in 1998, the first time he was not in the lineup in over 16 years. It marked the end of his 2,632 consecutive game streak, a record Ripken held since breaking Lou Gehrig’s 2,130 game streak on September 5, 1995.

So, Cal Ripken is best known for the streak, but how good a ballplayer was he?


Pretty good.

  • 431 career home runs (the most by a shortstop - 345)
  • 3,184 hits (14th all-time)
  • 1,695 runs batted in (averaged 81 per year over 21 years)
  • 1,647 runs scored
  • .276 lifetime batting average
  • Started 17 all-star games at short
  • Two-time Most Valuable Player

Cal Ripken was exceptional and durable, while playing one of the most demanding positions on the field for most of his career. It’s unlikely his streak will ever be broken. The closest any recent player came was Miguel Tajada who played in 1,152 straight games, but that streak ended in June 2007.

Then again, they said Gehrig’s streak would never be broken.

Contributing sources:
Career stats leaders (Baseball Reference)
Ripken's last game (Baseball-Almanac)


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