Tuesday, July 23, 2024

 

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Chicago Cubs (49-53, 9 games out in NL Central, 3 1/2 games out of last WC slot)


"Where we are right now, I would have to say that moves only for 2024 -- unless things change over the next week -- we probably won't do a lot of moves that only help us for this year," Hoyer said. "If moves help us for 2025 and beyond I think we're exceptionally well positioned."

From seven lines above:

3 1/2 games out of last WC slot

The Cubs have been incredibly frustrating in all phases of the game for four months, and they’re still around .500 and a good week from a playoff berth. Again, how much closer do you need to be to make buying -- and the Cubs have holes that could comfortably be fixed by league-average talent -- a good option?

The Cubs should be better down the stretch as well, when a whole bunch of injured pitchers return. As it is, their bullpen has been great lately, first in ERA and fourth in FIP over the last 30 days. The team badly needs at least one hitter, probably a corner infielder, and adding a bat-first catcher would help a lot. The idea that the Cubs, with their payroll, core talent, and position in the standings wouldn’t be trying hard to get into the tournament, would be focusing on next year, is offensive to me as a sports fan.

Monday, July 22, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, July 22, 2024 -- "Thinking Inside the Box"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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This continues to look like one of those years for the Braves. They were incredibly healthy in 2023 when they posted 104 wins and a runaway NL East title. This year, they lost two of the best players in baseball in Spencer Strider and Ronald Acuña Jr. for the season; Albies and Sean Murphy for two months each; and have seen Austin Riley, Max Fried, and Michael Harris II all miss time to injuries. Strider and four months of Acuña alone is a ten-win hit, and with Albies and Murphy you’re up well over a dozen WAR lost. The Braves are 24-24 since losing Acuña.
 

 

Newsletter Excerpt, July 20, 2024 -- "Paul Molitor's Axe"

 

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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Whereas I expect the Brewers to allow more runs over the season’s last ten weeks, I think the Twins’ best run prevention is ahead of them. They have more raw skill in their rotation, a longer track record of success, and pretty good internal depth options in Varland and David Festa. Combine that with a good offense that projects to get better with improved health, and not only do I expect the Twins to make the playoffs, I think they’ll catch the Guardians in August and win the AL Central with some cushion.
 
 

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, July 14, 2024 -- "The Francisco Lindor Appreciation Society"

 

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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It doesn’t matter if he’s on an All-Star team or an MVP ballot or even a playoff team. Apart from the shortened season, when even then he was a league-average hitter playing at a three-win pace, Francisco Lindor has posted up as one of the best players in baseball his whole career. He’s on his way to his third five-win season in four as a Met, and the sixth of his career. Lindor has started all but one game this year, and played in every one. He’s missed four games, total, since Opening Day 2022. Lindor will cross 50 WAR early next year if he doesn’t get there late this year. He’s done all of this while being underappreciated first by his team’s owner, and now by his team’s fans.

Not here, though. Francisco Lindor has been one of the bright shining lights of baseball for a decade, and will be for years to come.
 
 

Newsletter Excerpt, July 13, 2024 -- The Skenes

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider.

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The no-hit bids, the successful girlfriend, the All-Star start...these are all nice, but is it enough, really? What Skenes needs is to be honored the way truly great pitchers are -- by having a stat named after him. In the tradition of The Maddux, invented by Jason Lukehart to signify a shutout thrown on fewer than 100 pitches, I present to you The Skenes: Starts of at least six innings with no hits allowed.
 
 

 

Friday, July 12, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, July 12, 2024 -- "Fun With Numbers: Bases Loaded"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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The 123/0 performance the last two seasons represents a massive drop-off from the period just before. BABIP is down 80 points with the bases loaded and nobody out over two seasons, with a truly bizarre dip in power with the bases loaded and nobody out last year. That 2024 BABIP is the lowest since 1987 and the sixth-lowest on record. Run expectancy in bases-loaded, no-out situations is 2.34 runs. Last year’s mark, 2.26 runs, was fifth-lowest since 1998. (Big thanks to Robert Au at Baseball Prospectus for that info.) Some combination of pitching and defense is just wrecking hitters in these spots.

Batted-ball data shows that hitters are hitting the ball less hard in these spots, and while not shown in the chart, the average launch angle has dipped two degrees in four years. Hard-hit rate is down from 39.2% the first two years to 36.3% the last two.