Thursday, May 6, 2021

Joe Sheehan Newsletter, May 6, 2021 -- ["Means" Pun Here]

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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The Joe Sheehan Newsletter
Vol. 13, No. 30
May 6, 2021

John Means’s first career no-hitter, by the numbers:

99

Means’s start, with no hits or walks allowed and 12 strikeouts, had a Game Score of 99, making it the 13th nine-inning start this century to reach that threshold, and the first since Lucas Giolito’s no-hitter last August. It goes in the books as one of the top 25 nine-inning starts ever. There are many ways to grade starts now -- we’ll get to another below -- but the ease of Game Score, which can be calculated quickly from a box score, remains my favorite.


26

Means threw first-pitch strikes to 26 of the 27 batters he faced, getting ahead 0-1 on 23 of them. That’s a fast track to a no-hitter. This season, when a pitcher starts 1-0, batters hit .242 in the at-bat; when he starts 0-1, they hit .204. The vig is paid when the batter puts that first pitch in play. They hit .341 in those spots, but yesterday the Mariners put just three first pitches in play, including J.P. Crawford’s final out, going 0-for-3.

As an aside, that .242 number is on an island. With the caveat that it’s early and we haven’t played in warm weather yet...

Lowest league BA after getting ahead 1-0

2021   .242
2020   .257
2018   .262
1988   .265
1989   .265


I’ve written in other contexts about the way in which pitchers control the game to a greater extent than they ever have before. This adds to that pile; even when they spot the hitter a ball, they’re holding the league to a batting average that would be in the bottom five in baseball history overall.


93.2

Two years ago today Means, who had just begun taking regular turns in the Orioles’ rotation, held the Red Sox to three hits and a run over seven innings. That day he averaged 91.9 mph on his four-seam fastball, topping out at 93.8 mph. Yesterday, he threw that four-seamer at 93.2 mph on average, and he reached 94.6 in the eighth inning. He made the All-Star team as a rookie mostly because some Oriole had to go. He’s set to make it this year because he’s one of the best pitchers in the AL, and that increased velocity is a big part of why.


.530

Every no-hitter is stressful in its own way, but this one was as close to a rocking-chair one as you’ll find. The Mariners put 14 balls in play, and of those, just two had a better-than-average chance of becoming a hit, based on how they left the bat. The best chance came off the bat of Kyle Lewis in the second, an 86-mph line drive that was hit almost right at Maikel Franco at third base. Per Baseball Savant, it had an expected batting average of .530. Lewis also hit a ball in the eighth that looked dangerous off the bat, but was hauled in easily by Austin Hays.


4

This was the fourth* no-hitter of the 2021 season in just 35 days, putting the league on pace to shatter the record of seven, set four times, most recently in 2015. I’m a jaded stathead in some ways, but not when it comes to no-hitters. I think they’re cool accomplishments no matter what, and like many fans I hold my breath a little when I’m at a game until both teams have their first base knock. I have never seen one in person, coming closest on this frigid afternoon at Wrigley Field.

(*I’m counting Madison Bumgarner’s. He got credit for a complete game and a shutout. You can’t give him credit for those and not give him credit for a no-hitter.)

With that said, no-hitters need to be somewhat rare to maintain their charm. We had 14 in a two-season stretch in the early 1990s, including four in June 1990, and they lost their luster a bit. I know I personally roll my eyes a bit when the red “no-hitter” flag pops up in the sixth inning on the MLB app, as it seems like we get those a few times a week now. We’ve never seen a hitting environment like this, with the highest strikeout rate ever, and the rate of hits on contact reduced by the deadened baseball. Taking nothing away from Means, Bumgarner, Carlos Rodon, and Joe Musgrove, I am curious to see what the context for their no-hitters will be five months from now.

 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, May 4, 2021 -- "The Giants"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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--
 
"There is no team in baseball further from its projected preseason performance than the San Francisco Giants. I pegged them at 70-92, a pace that would make them 12-16 today. Instead they’re 17-11 and just ahead of the Dodgers and Padres in the NL West. It’s real in any number of ways: the Giants have outscored their opponents by nearly a full run per game, and they have just a 6-4 record in one-run contests. They’re just 1-3 in extra innings. None of the usual “fluke” markers are in place a month into the season."

Monday, May 3, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, May 3, 2021 -- "Early Outliers"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"This manifests itself most visibly in April, where the small sample is the only sample, and the standings can look really strange because of that. Even within April, though, you see the issue. Red Sox fans went from apoplectic (swept by the Orioles at home!) to preening (nine-game winning streak!). I mentioned the Yankees in that email above; they started 5-10 and have gone 9-4 since. There was talk about the Nationals as sellers when they were 5-9; they’re tied for first place in the NL this morning. You have to let the season breathe."

 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, April 30, 2021 -- "Lowering the Mound"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"In context, though, lowering the mound was one of three major changes in 1969, all of which should have pointed offense up. They did initially, but once the expansion effect washed out, and you account for the smaller strike zone, the game was right back where it had been just four years later."

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, April 27, 2021 -- "Jacob deGrom"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"As great as deGrom has looked, it’s 16 starts. It’s Jake Arrieta’s 2015 second half, or Mike Scott’s 1986 second half, or maybe Bret Saberhagen’s 1987 first half. I don’t mean to dismiss deGrom, but to make the point that deGrom’s case as “best pitcher ever” is hinged on two very, very small samples with six months of rest between them and ten months of rest preceding the first. Since the start of 2020, he has a 1.76 ERA, a 1.84 FIP, a 237 ERA+ and a 42% strikeout rate...in 97 innings. We simply need to see a full season of this to consider deGrom against Martinez and Clemens."

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, April 25, 2021 -- "Sunday FAABy Sunday"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"Yonathan Daza, Rockies. Daza has gotten four straight starts in center, and started five of the last six games for the Rockies. The slash stats are fine, but he hasn’t drawn a walk or attempted a steal, and you’re catching the Rockies as they go on the road. Pass, at least for now."

Friday, April 23, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, April 23, 2021 -- "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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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--
 
"Buxton has always been hard to pin down. He’s Eric Davis, but he doesn’t walk or steal and has been even less durable than Davis was. He’s Adam Jones with speed and, well, less durability. There’s a lot of Steve Finley here, although Finley came to his power late in his career. Comparing Buxton to Finley sounds like a slight, but Finley was a six-win player at his best, and from age 27 to 31 hit 64 homers, stole 134 bases and was worth 18 wins. You wouldn’t take that from Buxton’s next five years?"
 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Albert Pujols

 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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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An email exchange from last week:

Did Albert steal your girlfriend in middle school or something?

-- Robert E.


That would make him 49 or 50, so maybe you don’t want to open that can of worms. :-)

-

Albert Pujols presents a problem for an analytical writer. He is, as should be obvious, no longer deserving of a roster spot on merit, and surely not deserving of one on a team with a chance to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2014. These are just facts. Since the beginning of the 2017 season, Pujols is hitting .241/.291/.404 with passable defense at first base, good for a total of -1.7 bWAR. He is one of the slowest players in baseball, and he doesn’t even have a big platoon split that you can exploit: Pujols has a sub-.300 OBP against lefties since 2013.

This year, Pujols is hitting .231/.286/.308 with one extra-base hit in 42 at-bats. Injuries to Angels hitters have turned him into a regular again, with starts in five straight games at first base, and likely more to come until the team figures out when it will call up Brandon Marsh and/or Jo Adell. You can’t write around this story; Pujols, and the Angels’ insistence on playing him, are big barriers to Mike Trout returning to playoff baseball.

Still, we’re talking about one of the greatest players who has ever played the game, someone who at his peak wasn’t just a big bat, but an excellent defender and baserunner, a contact hitter for his era, someone who could execute a hit-and-run as well as any 5'8" second baseman. Someone who can still, in the right moment, do this.

The Angels fell behind 6-0 to the Rangers last night, a five-run sixth inning just about putting the game away. In the bottom of the seventh, they put together a rally, with Pujols’s RBI single part of the mix. The game was 6-2 with one out, Pujols on second and Jose Iglesias on first, when Pujols tapped into that big baseball brain.

Rangers righty Kyle Cody, who was finishing up first grade when Pujols made his MLB debut, had given up successive singles and was focused on not giving up a third to Kurt Suzuki. So focused, in fact, that he barely checked the old man leading off second. Pujols watched Cody throw strike one to Suzuki, then miss for a ball. As Cody came set for the third pitch, Pujols shuffled towards third, shuffled again, and as Cody lifted his left leg, never looking back, Pujols took off. He stole third standing up, stole it by so much that Rangers catcher Jose Trevino fielded Cody’s breaking ball and didn’t bother to throw.

Albert Pujols can’t hit and he can’t run and he can barely field, but he can still think. He traveled to third base on his legs, but he stole third base with his mind, for ten seconds playing baseball better than the 26-year-old on the mound did.

No, Robert, Pujols never stole my girl, never blew me off for an interview, never wrecked my fantasy team. I have an incredible amount of admiration for what he’s accomplished in his career, and I absolutely loved watching him with the Cardinals. When I write about the player he is now, I am doing my job: Pujols is hurting the Angels’ chances of winning the AL West, of making the playoffs, of ending the Trout Drought.

Still, late on a cool April night, I can be taken aback by something he does on the field, and acknowledge that little bit of greatness he still brings to the table.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, April 19, 2021 -- "Dodgers/Padres"

 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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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--
 
"Tatis. Machado. Darvish. Kershaw. Betts. Bauer. Snell. This series served to remind us that the best players who have ever played baseball are playing right now, pitching and hitting and running and fielding at a level never seen before. That’s not meant to denigrate a long line of great baseball players, but to recognize that in 150 years since various stick-and-ball games morphed into “base ball,” the players are always getting better."

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, April 14, 2021 -- "Joe Musgrove"

 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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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--
 
"Can all of that put Musgrove’s name alongside Johnny Vander Meer’s tonight, facing his old team in his old home ballpark? The Pirates are one of the worst teams in baseball, but maybe not as prone to being no-hit as you might think. They’re sixth in the NL with a .238 batting average -- roll that sentence around in your brain for a minute -- with the tenth-best strikeout rate. They’re sixth in BA against right-handers."

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, April 13, 2021 -- "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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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--
 
"This looks like a genuine improvement in approach that is allowing Myers to get to hitters’ counts and fastballs more often, and he’s taking advantage. If you just look at last night, Myers stayed off three marginal pitches in the first in advance of a 3-2 RBI single; he spit on a four-seamer off the plate in the sixth and homered on a fastball inside on the next pitch. An inning later, facing Luis Oviedo a second time, he held back on three sliders he well might have chased in 2019, setting up another RBI single, this time on 3-1."

Monday, April 12, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, April 12, 2021 -- "The New Baseball"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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--
 
"The change to the baseball has reduced the payoff for hitting the ball hard, which is...maybe not entirely fair? I’m not sure how you could look at baseball in the last few years and think, “Man, we should help the pitchers out,” but here we are. Batters now have to contend with the hardest-throwing, nastiest-spinning generation of pitchers ever, and if a hitter does get hold of one, it’s now an out more often than it was last year."

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, April 7, 2021 -- "The Disciplined Mets"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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--
 
"The Darryl Strawberry teams had the best offenses in Mets history, with only the peak of the Mike Piazza Mets, a team built heavily on outside acquisitions, challenging that group’s dominance. (Rickey Henderson had a .423 OBP, 37 steals, and 89 runs scored for that team at age 40. I miss Rickey.) The Conforto/Nimmo Mets are pushing to join that group, and I think come the end of 2021, the 2019-21 Mets will be right there with the 1986-1990 ones as far as the best lineups this team has ever had."
 
 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, April 5, 2021 -- "Sunday Night (Lots of) Baseball"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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--
 
"Ohtani’s skills have rarely been in question. He can be a #1 starter, and he can be an MVP candidate as a position player. His desire to do both and the Angels’ indulgence of that desire have been questioned, perhaps most prominently in this space. We didn’t get answers to those questions last night. Those questions can only be answered over six months, as Ohtani faces travel and rest challenges he didn’t confront in NPB."

 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, April 1, 2021 -- "Season Preview 2021: Teams #5 - #1"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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--
 
"So the Yankees get dinged, and slotted into the wild card, because you cannot expect their best players to stay on the field or on the mound. Thinking again about ranges, though, the Yankees have a high floor; they have had a high floor for nearly 30 years, finishing above .500 for 29 consecutive seasons and making the playoffs in 22 of those. They also have a high ceiling, potentially winning 102-104 games if they max out the playing time of Aaron Judge, of Giancarlo Stanton, of LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres."

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, March 31, 2021 -- "Season Preview 2021: Teams #10 - #6"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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--
 
"I’m not sure any of it will matter. That’s how good this offense is. The Mets haven’t scored 800 runs since 2007, a lifetime in baseball terms, but this group probably has that number as its floor. The defense won’t keep the Mets from making the playoffs, but it is what keeps them from challenging the Braves atop the division."

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, March 30, 2021 -- "Season Preview 2021: Teams #16 - #11"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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--
 
"We’ve been talking about Mike Trout and greatness relative to his age for so long that we didn’t notice he got older. He’ll play his age-29 season this year, turning 30 in August. The shape of his game is changing; he’s hit more homers than doubles for a while now, and a strikeout rate that he had lowered mid-career is ticking up again. He’s attempted just 15 steals since the start of the 2019 season, and his defensive numbers in center are slipping."

Newsletter Excerpt, March 30, 2021 -- "Season Preview 2021: For Entertainment Purposes Only"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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--
 
"Rangers under 66.5 wins. I have them at 59-103, and it’s probably easier to see them falling apart than making a run. They have a bad rotation, and their bullpen has been eviscerated by injuries this spring. I liked this one a lot coming in, and feel better having gotten an email from a pro bettor telling me he was on this one (at 67.5)."

Monday, March 29, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, March 29, 2021 -- "Season Preview 2021: Teams #23 - #17"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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--
 
"As with the Reds, you can see a path where the Royals hit the high end of their range, the top teams in the division don’t, and they contend or even steal the division. I think the young pitching and improved OBP give the Royals more upside than downside, with the chance that the rotation will be bolstered in the second half by all these young arms."

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, March 28, 2021 -- "Season Preview 2021: Teams #30 - #24"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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--
 
"For 2021, it’s a transition. The Mariners have brought in some veteran ballast for the rotation, but they have to learn what they have in Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn and Logan Gilbert. Is Kyle Lewis an everyday center fielder or the fourth man when the three prospects get here? What the heck was that last year from Evan White? Within those questions is how you get to thinking of this as a surprise team. The Mariners have the highest upside of these seven teams, and enough 'yes' answers here can help them realize it. I don’t think they get there, but even as I write this graf, I’m wavering. Why not, indeed?"
 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Joe Sheehan Newsletter, March 25, 2021 -- "Season Preview 2021: Final Standings"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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--
 
Projected 2021 standings, postseason and awards picks:


Team        W-L   Pct  GB   RS   RA

Rays       96-66 .593  --  755  628
Yankees*   90-72 .556   6  844  758
Blue Jays  82-80 .506  14  822  798
Red Sox    80-82 .494  16  810  816   
Orioles   55-107 .340  39  663  936

White Sox  87-75 .537  --  783  726
Twins*     86-76 .531   1  820  775
Indians    82-80 .506   5  652  633
Royals     81-81 .500   6  692  701
Tigers    62-100 .383  25  672  855

Astros     86-76 .531  --  771  728
Athletics  85-77 .525   1  715  691
Angels     83-79 .512   3  806  777
Mariners   73-89 .451  13  731  815
Rangers   59-103 .364  27  661  885


AL MVP: Gerrit Cole, Yankees
AL Cy Young: Gerrit Cole, Yankees
AL Rookie of the Year: Andrew Vaughn, White Sox

Yankees win Coin Flip Round
Rays win ALDS over Yankees, 3-2
White Sox win ALDS over Astros, 3-0
Rays win ALCS over White Sox, 4-1


Team        W-L   Pct  GB   RS   RA

Braves     92-70 .568  --  828  728
Mets*      87-75 .537   5  812  745
Phillies   84-78 .519   8  810  771
Nationals  83-79 .512   9  801  784
Marlins    78-84 .481  14  664  698

Brewers    87-75 .537  --  782  732
Cardinals  83-79 .512   4  718  687
Cubs       83-79 .512   4  729  712
Reds       79-83 .488   8  718  731
Pirates   62-100 .383  25  670  875

Dodgers   113-49 .698  --  882  540
Padres*    92-70 .568  21  765  648
D’backs    78-84 .481  35  757  791
Rockies    72-90 .444  41  793  875
Giants     70-92 .432  43  707  834


NL MVP: Corey Seager, Dodgers
NL Cy Young: Aaron Nola, Phillies
NL Rookie of the Year: Sixto Sanchez, Marlins

Mets win Coin Flip Round
Dodgers win NLDS over Mets, 3-0
Braves win NLDS over Brewers, 3-1
Dodgers win NLCS over Braves, 4-2

Dodgers win World Series over Rays, 4-2

 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, March 24, 2021 -- "Season Preview 2021: The Revolution"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"There are looming changes for 2022 as well, including the near-certainty of a universal DH and the likelihood of a larger playoff field. The next Collective Bargaining Agreement, to be negotiated this coming winter, could see the biggest changes to the business of the game since 1976, the start of free agency."

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, "Random Player Comments, 3/23/21"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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"Measuring Porcello against what he was supposed to be out of the draft, or what he was for one glorious summer in Boston, hurts him a bit. As we watch rotation battles shake out around the league, pitchers who are clearly worse than Porcello are claiming jobs. It’s strange that he’s out in the cold coming off a year in which he pitched as well as he did, ERA be damned. Julio Teheran has a job. Jon Lester has a job. Wade Miley has a job. I’d take Porcello over all of them, and many others."

Monday, March 22, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, March 22, 2021 -- "Conundrums, and the Rays"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"The Rays ran a bottom-five payroll, reached the World Series, traded two of their top starting pitchers, brought in almost no talent...and are one of the best teams in baseball again. Are they a problem to be solved, or a team producing outcomes that fans of 20 other teams wish they could root for?"

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, March 18, 2021 -- "NL Lineup Notes"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"[Dylan] Carlson hasn’t been batting up high, but he has been playing. At a time when many teams are still messing around, Shildt has used a starting outfield of Carlson in right, Tyler O’Neill in left and Harrison Bader in center in four straight games and six of seven. The Dexter Fowler trade cleared the way for this group to play, and at least for now, they’re all playing."
 
 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Joe Sheehan Newsletter, March 16, 2021 -- "Bobby Witt, Jr."

 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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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The Joe Sheehan Newsletter
Vol. 13, No. 16
March 16, 2021

The biggest player story this spring comes out of Surprise, Ariz., where Bobby Witt Jr. -- yes, this guy’s kid -- is making a run at the Royals’ roster despite almost no professional experience. Witt, the second pick in the 2019 draft, is hitting .333/.379/.667 in 29 Cactus League PAs, playing his expected good defense, and making jaws drop with his power.

The performance is a bit out of the blue. In his pro debut two years ago, in the complex-level Arizona League, Witt hit just .262/.317/.354 with one homer in 180 PA. Like all minor leaguers, Witt was sidelined by the pandemic in 2020, costing him a year of development, though he was at the Royals’ alternate site and garnered good reviews. (Keep in mind that 112.3% of prospects at alternate sites garnered good reviews. Alternate-site baseball was the greatest baseball ever played.) Coming into this spring, Witt was a mostly consensus top-20 prospect, with Keith Law the low ranker at #27.

I have a general principle that if it was silly to think a player should make the team on February 15, it’s just as silly on March 15. Witt falls comfortably into that rubric; he has never played outside the controlled environments of complex league and alternate sites, and while his spring performance has been impressive, it’s 29 plate appearances against miserable pitching. Baseball Reference calculates the quality of pitching and hitting faced by players in the spring. On average, Witt has faced below-Double-A quality pitching.

Digging into that a bit more, Witt has nine hits and two walks this spring off the following pitchers:

1B Kirk McCarty
1B Bennett Sousa
1B Andre Jackson
HR Tyler Rogers
1B Wandy Peralta
HR Yusmeiro Petit
1B Taylor Guerrieri
1B Josh Lindblom
HR Julio Urias

BB Tyler Johnson
BB Julio Urias


That’s not all dreck, of course; Julio Urias is a star, Yusmeiro Petit is a good reliever. On balance, though, Witt has done his damage against minor leaguers and fringe major leaguers. Taking his 2021 spring training performance at face value is a mistake, even if the ball he hit off Petit hasn’t landed yet.

Moreover, the Royals don’t need to elevate Witt. They have an established player, Adalberto Mondesi, at Witt’s position. Witt is probably a better defender than Mondesi is right now, but if he does make the Royals, he would be the one asked to defer and move to second base or third base. Witt could very well make that adjustment -- he has played some second this spring -- but it adds to the degree of difficulty of making the leap to the majors. I also don’t care for moving the long-term better player off his primary position in deference to a mediocre veteran. Bobby Witt Jr. is the Royals’ shortstop of the future, Adalberto Mondesi is a guy with a .304 career OBP.

The Royals also have a third baseman to whom they just gave a long-term contract in Hunter Dozier. They have two second basemen in Nicky Lopez and Hanser Alberto. Carlos Santana is locked in at first base, as is Jorge Soler at DH, limiting the ways in which Mike Matheny could get everyone playing time. This isn’t the Orioles, running out a Triple-A team and hoping no one notices. The Royals have a decent infield; Witt may or may not be better than the available options. Putting Witt on the roster on Opening Day might be a mistake, but putting him on the roster on Opening Day and then not playing him every day would definitely be one.

Complicating all this is the delay of the 2021 minor-league season. In a normal year, it would be easy to send Witt to ... whatever we call the Carolina League now ... and let him define his own path to the majors. You could even be aggressive and send him to Double-A. The Royals’ choice, however, is bringing him to Kansas City or leaving him in Arizona for another month, working out and playing in more exhibition games against subpar competition. That moves the needle a bit for me; remember, Witt was 19 the day he was drafted and turns 21 in June. That’s very old for a high-school draftee to have almost no pro experience. He needs real reps. Not in a complex, not in an alternate site, not in the Cactus League. He needs to be facing guys trying to get him out for real.

Still, when I consider Witt’s lack of pro experience, the pitchers he has hit this spring, the roster logjam he would create, and that he wouldn’t be playing shortstop, it all adds up to leaving him in Surprise for another month. There is really no risk to doing so, whereas having him start the year with the Royals is almost all downside. Witt isn’t Fernando Tatis Jr. two years ago, with a strong professional performance record and no one in front of him.

This also isn’t service-time manipulation; you get the sense the Royals want to promote Witt in part to continue staking out their position as an organization that does right by the players. Again, though, he’s not a player who is clearly qualified for the major leagues. He’s an inexperienced one having a few good weeks against spring-training pitchers.

Soon enough, Bobby Witt Jr. will be a Royal. It just shouldn’t be on Opening Day.
 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, March 15, 2021 -- "MiLB Rules Changes"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"As we’ll see below, I don’t agree with all of these changes, and in general the league seems too focused on baserunning and not enough on the pitcher/batter dynamic, which is the root cause of what people don’t like about modern baseball. However, the idea that MLB will use its newly-owned minor leagues in this way is a significant positive."

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, March 11, 2021 -- "AL Lineup Notes"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"One thing I like to watch is who plays at home versus who plays on the road. Managers will usually spare their core guys the tougher bus rides of March. This is relevant in Indians camp, where Andres Gimenez is getting most of the home starts at shortstop (six starts, four at home), with Amed Rosario getting his playing time on the road (five starts, three on the road, including long trips from Goodyear to Mesa and Surprise)."
 
 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, March 9, 2021 -- "Transition, and the Indians"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"What’s left is still a good team because the Indians are run by very smart people who have been well ahead of baseball’s trends. They’ve been leaders in maximizing the value of talent in their system, from Corey Kluber to Jose Ramirez to Shane Bieber, players who weren’t top-100 prospects coming through the minors but who became superstars in the majors. This year’s team won’t be bad, even after trading ten wins to the Mets, but it now slots in behind the White Sox and Twins, fighting for a wild card it’s unlikely to win."
 
 

Friday, March 5, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, March 5, 2021 -- "One Bad Week, and the Astros"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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--
 
"I’ve listed 13 hitters so far. More of them had OBPs below .300 (seven) than above .300 last year. Yes, I’m still on Team 'let’s write everyone’s 2020 statistics in chalk and get the hose ready,' but that’s a daunting figure."
 
 

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, March 4, 2021 -- "Jackie Bradley Jr. and the Brewers"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"In signing Bradley Jr. on the heels of signing Kolten Wong, the Brewers have turned themselves into one of the best defensive teams in the NL. Remember, the best Brewers team of this run also featured the best Brewers defense of this run, the 2018 team whose .704 Defensive Efficiency Rating was second in the NL. That slipped to .691 in 2019 and .687 -- tenth in the circuit -- a year ago. This should once again be a strong defensive squad, with the primary question being how Keston Hiura adapts to playing first base."

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, March 2, 2021 -- "Very Bad Timing, and the Reds"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"There aren’t very many teams in baseball who were hurt more by the fact or the timing of the pandemic. Starting in the 2018-19 offseason, they brought in Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, Nick Castellanos, and Mike Moustakas over the course of a year. The 2020 Reds were projected to have the highest payroll in franchise history, more than $150 million."

Monday, March 1, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, March 1, 2021 -- "Kim Ng and the Marlins"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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--
 
"You can see the outlines of a build here, with the returns for the stars the Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter group inherited beginning to reach the majors. The catch is that they didn’t get enough back in those deals, have mostly been worked on the trade market, and their drafts have been disastrous for too long. Finally separating from Michael Hill was a long overdue move, and new GM Kim Ng brings decades of experience to her first decision-making role. It will be a year or two, at least, before it’s fair to judge her based on the standings."
 

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, February 28, 2021 -- "Kevin Mather and the Mariners"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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--
 
"Change happens slowly, but it does happen. In baseball, we’re not far removed from Jim Bouton teaching us about the way baseball players treat women, not that far removed from Al Campanis lecturing Ted Koppel about the 'necessities' Black men supposedly lacked, not that far removed from a young Black superstar angering people because he wore his hat backwards. Change happens slowly, and in the same way that Fortune 500 companies now meet America where she is."

Friday, February 26, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, February 26, 2021 -- "Running Back 2019-20, and the Diamondbacks"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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--
 
"That same management team is still in place, and we could see that upper-level development this season with Andy Young, with Josh Rojas, with speed demon Tim Locastro in center, with prospect Daulton Varsho. The Diamondbacks have a chance to win 85 to 88 games...in a world where that might get them exactly what it got them in 2019: a handshake and a free October. They needed to add a star, and instead they added Asdrubal Cabrera."

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, February 25, 2021 -- "Believing in Breakouts, and the Giants"

 

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"Still, the Giants project to have the oldest lineup in baseball this year, starting seven players 31 and older most days. As great a story last season’s offense was, this is going to be a slow, past-prime team at the plate and in the field."
 
 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, February 23, 2021 -- "The Tatis Jr. Contract"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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--
 
"So when the San Diego Padres look at 22-year-old Fernando Tatis Jr. and decide to keep him in the brown-and-mustard well into his thirties, a marginal-win/marginal-dollar analysis seems largely beside the point. That model no longer fits, not when teams are treating the first win as essentially free, not when teams are rejecting all but the very best players who hit the market at 30 and older, not when the league subsidizes not trying to win more than it ever subsidized trying to win."
 
 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, February 19, 2021 -- "Seven Free Agents, and the Red Sox"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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--
 
"The Sox signed six free agents this winter for a total 2021 outlay of $24 million. Throw in their decision to bring back Martin Perez, and the Sox are paying seven free agents about what the Jays will pay George Springer this year. They will actually pay three players, David Price, Dustin Pedroia, and Andrew Benintendi, more than that to not pay for them this year."
 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, February 17, 2021 -- "LABR Recap"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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--
 
"I was happy with the draft last night, and a bit less so today. Passing on Kris Bryant and Justin Turner left the team with a hole. I’m too heavy on players, as many as five, who won’t be on Opening Day rosters. And as is standard, I’m light on steals, having drafted slugs like Schwarber, Sano, and Arraez."
 
 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, February 16, 2021 -- "LABR Preview"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Forget the 'best shape of his life' stuff. Even in what seems like a slow start to his career, Vladito has a 115 OPS+ in a bit more than a full season of playing time. We’re spoiled for comps, but his 38/19 K/UIBB last year is excellent for a 21-year-old in the modern game. The breakout is coming. His ADP is 55.8, which means I probably have to take him with that fourth-round pick or lose him."

Monday, February 15, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, February 15, 2021 -- "Three Relievers and the A's"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"This week, the A’s packed their bullpen, trading for Adam Kolarek, bringing back Yusmeiro Petit, and signing Sergio Romo. None of those names are going to drive talk radio, but collectively they create a very high floor for the bullpen, give Bob Melvin a lot of different looks with which to work, and all told will make less than $6 million guaranteed."

Friday, February 12, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, February 12, 2021 -- "Four Small Additions and the Tigers"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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--
 
"The setup combination of Gregory Soto and Jose Cisnero is quietly very good. Bad teams often have bad bullpens, but this group is solid. The Tigers won’t have many leads but they should cash in the ones they have. With A.J. Hinch not needing to show much loyalty to anyone in this pen, the roles could be fluid."

Thursday, February 11, 2021

For Entertainment Purposes Only, 2021 v0.9

 

This is 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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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Part of the season-preview package around here is a set of recommendations for the season win total over/under bets that have become popular in recent seasons. Those are based on my official predictions that come out around Opening Day. In the last few years, in response to demand, I’ve also done some early versions once the numbers are published. Looking back, those came out on January 9 in 2019 and January 15 a year ago.

I’d have done the same this year, but the lines have only come out this week. Like the teams themselves, the bookmakers seem to have been waiting to see if the season would be delayed, shortened, or both, and perhaps also waiting to see how major offseason storylines -- Trevor Bauer, Nolan Arenado, the NL DH -- played out. This week, we finally got some numbers to use, as the Wynn became the first book to publish a set.

The value in doing these now is that the early numbers are usually where the value lies, betting them before they get moved by sharp bettors willing to let their money float for nine months. In theory [long pause for effect] I should be a sharp in this context. Well, in 2018 my three early picks went 3-0. In 2019, they went 2-1. Last year, my only recommendation was the Mariners under 67.5 and they didn’t come anywhere near...oh, fine, we won’t count that one, on your little “technicality.” It’s a small sample, but pairing these with my official picks -- 5-0* in 2018 and 2019 -- you can make your Newsletter subscription money back pretty easily on just two issues. That doesn’t even count my occasional longshot prop hits, like Christian Yelich to win the MVP at 200-1.

(*Maybe 4-0 with a refund depending on how the 2018 Marlins bet (U63.5, final record 63-98) is graded.)

So what jumps out from the Wynn numbers? Too much, to be honest.

Pirates under 62.5 wins. The Pirates were 19-41, a 51-win pace, in 2020. They traded away their best power hitter and most reliable starting pitcher and their starting pitcher with the highest 2021 upside. Their big winter pickup is Brian Goodwin. I have said a number of times that going under the lowest number on the board is usually a bad idea, but in recent years, that actually has not been the case. Today's worst teams are worse than the posted numbers. This is my favorite early pick.

Similarly, I’d recommend the Orioles under 64 wins. The Orioles are just as bad as the Pirates, with what could be the worst starting rotation we’ve seen in a long time. They’ll play the Yankees, Rays, and Blue Jays 57 times and might go something like 11-46 in those games.

Five other picks jump out at me, but I’m going to resist making a full recommendation on any of them. See, all five are among the 12 teams that I have yet to cover this offseason:

A’s under 84
Brewers under 83.5
Diamondbacks under 76
Mariners over 71.5
Marlins over 67.5

Now, that’s mostly because these five teams have been inert all winter, so I haven’t had the impetus to write about them. That all five come from that group of 12, though, makes me wonder if my initial reactions to these numbers are missing something I’ll find by digging deeper. So they’re a light pass for me, but if you want action, take a closer look at them.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, February 10, 2021 -- "Stability, and the Phillies"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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--
 
"There are two ways to fix this problem. One is to improve the defense, which as we’ve discussed, did not happen. The other is to get relievers who will strike batters out. This is why I’d put Velasquez (27% strikeout rate as a reliever) out there. This is why the Phillies signed Archie Bradley (27% strikeout rate 2019-20) and traded for Jose Alvarado (28%) and Sam Coonrod (throws both a two-seamer and a four-seamer at 98 mph)."

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, August 12, 2020 -- "Extra Innings"

 

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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--
 
"Entertainment value cannot be the only measure of an idea, even in a spectator sport. The integrity of the competition has to matter, and placing a runner on second to start innings in extras is deleterious to the integrity of the competition. We know this in part because MLB has said so itself: MLB will not use the rule in the postseason, because the league recognizes that it’s a gimmick unfit for deciding a championship."
 
 

Monday, February 8, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, February 8, 2021 -- "An Empty Mound, and the Angels"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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"The Angels not getting Bauer underlines just how poorly Mike Trout has been served by his teammates on the mound. Since his first full season in 2012, just two teams have gotten less from their starting pitchers than the Angels have.

Used and Abused (worst team SP FanGraphs WAR, 2012-20)

         fWAR
Padres   61.9
Orioles  63.3
Angels   66.2
Royals   70.7
Marlins  71.2"


 
 
 

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, February 7, 2021 -- "Expectations, and the Mets"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"The Mets’ offseason is now carried by one very good trade, a trade that that might add eight wins all by itself. In acquiring Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco, the Mets added the best player anyone added all winter and arguably more win expectancy than any team did."
 

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, February 7, 2021 -- "Trevor Bauer and the Dodgers"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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--
 
"I don’t think Bauer is the pitcher he was for four months in 2018 or two months last year; the control has rarely been there to support that level of run prevention. Still, if I had to bet on any single player to make 30 starts in 2021, I’d pick Bauer. He has a very high floor, which pairs well with the Dodgers’ collection of hothouse flowers -- pretty ones, to be sure -- on the mound."
 
 

Friday, February 5, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, February 5, 2021 -- "A Busy Week, and the Twins"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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--
 
"Yes, that’s right, I still have the Twins as the best team in the Central. The White Sox are right there, but the Twins added four wins, and maybe as much as eight or nine, with their moves in the last week, and they did it without making a single 2022 commitment or spending all that much money in 2021. The rotation depth is a real problem and may have to be addressed in season; the Twins’ relatively low 2021 payroll ($125 million, per Cot’s) gives them the room to add a starter in July. If the Twins want to push their chips in this year, they have some prospect depth in the outfield and at shortstop that they could put to the cause."

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, February 3, 2021 -- "Nolan Arenado and the Cardinals"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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"Molina and the Cardinals are roughly where Derek Jeter and the Yankees were after the 2011 season: A declining great player wants to be paid as if only one of those adjectives were true, while it is clear that the player has more value to the team with which he’s spent his whole career than with any other. Jeter eventually squeezed three years and $51 million from the Yankees and was not a good player on his way out of the league. Molina won’t get nearly that much, but the dynamic is much the same. The player wants to be paid commensurate with his status, but his status applies only in one city. The team doesn’t want to pay for past performance."
 
 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, February 2, 2021 -- "Negotiations and Love Songs"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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--
 
"No, what MLB offered the players was playoff expansion in a Trojan horse. The league wants to make the playoff expansion it got in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season a permanent part of the baseball landscape. Remember, a year ago, before SARS-CoV-2 changed our lives, there were leaks of proposals that would expand the playoffs to seven teams in each league. MLB loves large playoffs."
 
 

Monday, February 1, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, February 1, 2021 -- "The End of an Era, and the Rockies"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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--
 
"The Rockies could fall to the level of a full-on tankbuilder team in the next few years, and while the definition of a 'playoff team' is in the process of being watered down, they don’t look likely to be a contender until the middle of the decade."

Friday, January 29, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, January 30, 2021 -- "Klosers"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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--
 
"You don’t want to take 2020 stats too seriously, but you would have thought that a shorter season would have presented less time for closers to blow up. It didn’t happen. The top ten in saves in 2019 collected just 15% of all saves in 2020."

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, January 28, 2021 -- "Four Small Moves and the Nationals"

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. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"'But what about getting into game shape?' you ask. Easy. Isn't it said that baseball is the most individual of all team sports? Between Driveline for pitchers and the "elevate and celebrate" schools run by private hitting coaches, players are not only training to play during the offseason, they are preparing to unearth new pitches and swing paths that portend a skills breakout. They're already ready. An old fielding instructor hitting fungoes doesn't compare."