Tagged: season review

2010 American League East Review

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AL East

2010 Final Standings

 

Tampa Bay Rays

96-66

New York Yankees

95-67

1

Boston Red Sox

89-73

7

Toronto Blue Jays

85-77

11

Baltimore Orioles

66-96

30

 

The Tampa Bay Rays eked
out their second division title in the last three seasons by one game over the New York Yankees whom they battled with
all season long.  The Yankees took home
the wildcard, qualifying for the post-season for the 15th time in
the last 16 years.  The toughest division
in baseball saw four winning teams again in 2010 with the third-place Boston Red Sox finishing with 89
victories and the upstart Toronto Blue
Jays
finishing with 85 victories despite everybody predicting their demise
after the trading of franchise pitcher Roy
Halladay
last December.

 

Here’s what I predicted at the beginning of the season:

AL East

 

 

Boston
Red Sox

96-66

New
York Yankees

95-67

1

Tampa
Bay Rays

90-72

6

Baltimore
Orioles

73-89

23

Toronto
Blue Jays

68-94

28

 

So, as you can see, I was a bit off.  I had the top two teams finishing with 96 and
95 wins respectively, which happened, and the Yankees did finish second with 95 wins, taking home the wildcard, but I had
the BoSox finishing first.  Swap the Rays
and BoSox, and I would have been DAMN close, one game off in fact.  But alas.

 

I keep expecting the O’s to get better and they never do,
maybe next year I won’t be so naive.  I
was still only 7 games off with their prediction, but I also had them finishing
fourth, ahead of my Jays.  I was 17 games off with Toronto, but I was
definitely not alone there.  Trust me; I
would rather have the Jays as a winning team than be right.

 

I’m going to give slightly longer reviews for playoff teams
than for non-playoff ones.

 

Tampa Bay Rays (Mng,
Joe Maddon)

Final Record: 96-66,
1st AL East

Prediction: 90-72,
3rd AL East

Diff: 6

Playoffs:  Lost to Texas in the ALDS

 

How do you define a clutch lineup?  The 2010 Rays.  6th in the AL in homeruns, 6th
in OBP, and 13th in
batting average, yet somehow finished
3rd in the AL in runs scored. 
Carl Crawford had another
typical Crawford season raking at a .304 clip with 19 homeruns and 90 RBI, he
also stole 47 bases to finish 3rd in the junior circuit.  The Rays will have a tough time replacing him
as it’s expected they will let him walk via free agency.  The Red Sox and Yankees already appear to the
frontrunners for his services, but the Reds, Dodgers, Phillies and Mets have
also been mentioned.  Evan Longoria had 104 RBI to lead the
team and has stepped up as the emotional leader of the club.  The Rays had 96 wins in spite of three of
their best players having horrid season. 
Carlos Pena had 28 homeruns,
but hit just .196; B.J. Upton stole 42 bases and had 18
HR, but hit only .237 and had just a .322 OBP; and Ben Zobrist had a predictable fall from grace hitting just .238
with 10 HR a year after clubbing a career-high 27.

 

All five of the Rays main starting pitchers made at least 29
starts.  Only 8 starts all year went to
pitchers outside of those five.  The health of the Rays’ starters was huge in their success.  Of course it helps that all five starters had
solid seasons.  They all won at least 12
games and David Price could wrap up
the Cy Young after a 19-6 season and a 2.72 ERA.  He has emerged as the ace they thought he’d
be.  Matt
Garza
won 15 games and threw a no-hitter in July.  James
Shields
was only 13-15 with an ERA over 5, but still threw over 200
innings, while Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis won 12 games each.  Rafael
Soriano
gave the Rays their best season by a closer in franchise history
finishing with an AL best 45 saves and a terrific 1.73 ERA.  He had a ridiculous 0.80 WHIP.  Joaquin
Benoit
emerged as a top-flight middle relief option and Grant Balfour returned to his 2008
form.  Overall the Rays had the 2nd
best ERA in the AL.

 

Post-season

In October, the Rays were bounced by the Texas Rangers in the maximum 5 games in
the ALDS.  The heavily favoured Rays were
expected the breeze through the Rangers who had never won a series, but Texas,
led by playoff stud Cliff Lee
bounced the Rays by outpitching them. 
Yeah, I know, the Rangers outpitched the Rays?  I was surprised too.  3 home losses in the ALDS killed their hopes
of a World Series title.

 

Grade (Based on
prediction): A

 

Leaders

Avg.

Carl Crawford (.307)

Evan Longoria (.294)

HR

Carlos Pena (28)

Evan Longoria (22)

RBI

Evan Longoria (104)

Carl Crawford (90)

SB

Carl Crawford (47)

B.J. Upton (42)

W

David Price (19)

Matt Garza (15)

ERA

David Price (2.72)

Matt Garza (3.91)

Bullpen ERA

Joaquin Benoit (1.34)

Rafael Soriano (1.73)

K

David Price (188)

James Shields (187)

SV

Rafael Soriano (45)

Dan Wheeler (3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Yankees
(Mng, Joe Girardi)

Final Record: 95-67,
2nd AL East, Wilcard Champs

Prediction: 95-67,
2nd  AL East, Wildcard Champs

Diff: 0

Playoffs:  Lost to Texas in the ALCS

 

I nailed this one. 
Just sayin’.  The Yankees led the
AL in runs, which should not have been surprising.  What was surprising was captain Derek Jeter had the worst statistical
season of his career hitting just .270 with 10 HR and 67 RBI.  Career years from Robinson Cano and Nick
Swisher
, solid campaigns from Mark
Teixeira
and Alex Rodriguez and
a breakout year from Brett Gardner
helped shoulder the load.  As usual, the
Yankees achieved their run-scoring prowess with patience (1st in the
AL in walks) and power (3rd in HR).

 

The Yankees had some troubles in the pitching department
this season, outside of the front and back of the staff.  C.C.
Sabathia
is the favourite for the Cy Young after a 21-7 record with a 3.18
ERA, once again justifying his huge contract; Phil Hughes emerged as a true front-line starter with 18 wins, but
he struggled down the stretch and in the playoffs having never pitched anywhere
near the innings he logged this season.  Andy Pettitte was on his way to one of
his best seasons before an injury kept him out from mid-season until the
playoffs.  A.J. Burnett was wildly inconsistent all season and awful at the end of the year (hate to
say I told you so, Yankees’ fans) and Javier
Vazquez
never found his footing.  Mariano Rivera was terrific again with
a 1.80 ERA and 33 saves, but the rest of the bullpen was inconsistent at best.

 

Final Word

In the end, the Yankees’ inconsistent pitching got to them
as they were completely outclassed by the Rangers and the utterly dominant Cliff Lee in the ALCS.  As he did with the Rays, Lee carved up the
Bronx Bombers with one of the most dominant post-season pitching performances
ever in game 3 of the CS.  The Yankees
did dispose of the Twins in the ALDS, but that’s nothing new.  A successful season for the Yankees can only
end one way, so it’s back to the drawing board for New York as they attempt to
land Lee, the pitcher that has caused them more than a few headaches in the
past two post-seasons.

 

Grade (based on
prediction): B +

 

Leaders

Avg.

Robinson Cano (.319)

Nick Swisher (.288)

HR

Mark Teixeira (33)

Robinson Cano/Nick Swisher (29)

RBI

Alex Rodriguez (125)

Robinson Cano (109)

SB

Brett Gardner (47)

Derek Jeter (18)

W

C.C. Sabathia (21)

Phil Hughes (18)

ERA

C.C. Sabathia (3.18)

Andy Pettitte (3.28)

Bullpen ERA

Mariano Rivera (1.80)

Boone Logan (2.93)

K

C.C. Sabathia (197)

Phil Hughes (146)

SV

Mariano Rivera (33)

Joba Chamberlain (3)

 

 

 

 

 

Boston Red Sox (Mng,
Terry Francona)

Final Record: 89-73,
3rd AL East,

Prediction: 96-66,
1st  AL East, AL Champs

Diff: 7

Playoffs:  Failed to qualify

 

Like the Yankees, any season the Red Sox don’t win a world
title at this point in their history is a disappointment.  Not only did the BoSox fail to win it all,
but they failed to make the post-season, finishing only four games ahead of the
4th place Jays.  It was the
first time since 2006 and only the second time since 2002 that the BoSox missed
the post-season and that surely doesn’t sit well with the Boston faithful.  I suppose you’re a lucky fan is an 89-win
season is considered a complete bomb.

 

The Red Sox did have a good year offensively, finishing
second in runs, homeruns and slugging in the AL, while finishing third in OBP,
and first in OPS, doubles and at-bats. 
Four players finished with more than 20 HR including David Ortiz who had a great rebound
year hitting .270 with 32 HR and 102 RBI, and Adrian Beltre who was healthy for the first time in a while and
smashed 28 dingers while driving in over 100 and hitting .321.  It was his best year since his 48 homer-year
in his free agent year in LA.  Oh yeah,
he’s a free agent again this off-season; coincidence?  The BoSox battled through a number of tough
injuries to key players with Jacoby
Ellsbury
, Mike Cameron, Dustin Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis all missing significant
time, but veterans such as Bill Hall
and Darnell MalincDonald stepped in
along with some young talent including Daniel
Nava
, Ryan Kalish, and Jed Lowrie to help effectively fill the
void.

 

The problem with Boston this year was their pitching.  Outside of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz
and Daniel Bard who are going to be
staples of this staff for years to come, the rest of the Red Sox pitchers had
mediocre to awful seasons.  Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, and Daisuke
Matsuzaka
combined to post a 5.25 ERA and only a 19-22 record, while the
bullpen, outside of Bard, struggled all season long leading to the ouster of Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez during
the year to try and fix the problem

 

Grade (based on
prediction): C +

 

Leaders

Avg.

Adrian Beltre (.321)

Kevin Youkilis (.307)

HR

David Ortiz (32)

Adrian Beltre (28)

RBI

David Ortiz (102)

Adrian Beltre (102)

SB

Ryan Kalish (10)

Dustin Pedroia/Bill Hall (9)

W

Jon Lester (19)

Clay Buchholz (17)

ERA

Clay Buchholz (2.33)

Jon Lester (3.25)

Bullpen ERA

Daniel Bard (1.93)

Jonathan Papelbon (3.90)

K

Jon Lester (225)

John Lackey (156)

SV

Jonathan Papelbon (37)

Daniel Bard (3)

 

 

 

 

Toronto Blue Jays
(Mng. Cito Gaston)

Final Record: 85-77,
4th AL East,

Prediction: 68-94,
5th AL East

Diff: 17

Playoffs:  Failed to qualify

 

If there were to be any situation where being off by 17
games in my prediction was okay, this is it. 
I, like most people, thought the Jays would stumble in a big way this
year.  They traded their franchise player
and the best pitcher in their history in Roy
Halladay
last December in a deal that brought a package of prospects who
will not make a major impact for a couple more years.  They were coming off a rather rare losing
season and on paper, things appeared to be worse for 2010.  But they Jays were one of the biggest
surprises in baseball.

 

The biggest
surprise in baseball by far was Jose
Bautista
.  Bautista led the majors
with a ridiculous 54 homeruns.  A
journeyman utility player who’s bounced around the league his entire  career shocked everybody with this
performance.  Aside from that, Bautista
led the AL in outfield assists with 12 despite not being an everyday outfielder
(he split time at third base) and displayed an all-around game that mirrors
anyone’s.  Aside from the Jays hit more
homeruns than anyone else in the majors and in fact, their 257 total dingers
ranked among the best of all time, by any team.  Vernon
Wells
had a rebound season and slugged 31 homeruns and even though Aaron Hill and Adam Lind had regression seasons, they still hit 26 and 23
respectively.  In total, 7 Jays hit more
than 20 homeruns.

 

The Jays young starters are emerging as one of the best
young staffs in the game led by Rickey
Romero
, Shaun Marcum, Brett Cecil, and Brandon Morrow.  Morrow may
have the highest ceiling judging by some of his dominating performances.  He also got better as the season went
on.  The bullpen was consistently good
led by closer Kevin Gregg who had 37
saves and Scott Downs who continued
his stretch of being one of the best lefty relievers in baseball.  However both, along with Jason Frasor will likely land elsewhere via free agency this
offseason which could open the door for younger relievers such as converted
starter David Purcey and several
other minor-league arms such as Josh
Roenicke
, Zach Stewart, Rommie Lewis, and Danny Farquhar.

 

Grade (based on
prediction): A +

 

Leaders

Avg.

John Buck (.281)

Vernon Wells (.273)

HR

Jose Bautista (54)

Vernon Wells (31)

RBI

Jose Bautista (124)

Vernon Wells (88)

SB

Fred Lewis (17)

Jose Bautista (9)

W

Brett Cecil (15)

Ricky Romero (14)

ERA

Shaun Marcum (3.64)

Rickey Romero (3.73)

Bullpen ERA

Scott Downs (2.64)

Shawn Camp (2.99)

K

Brandon Morrow (178)

Rickey Romero (174)

SV

Kevin Gregg (37)

Jason Frasor (4)

 

 

 

 

Baltimore Orioles
(Mng. Dave Trembley, Juan Samuel, and Buck Showalter)

Final Record: 66-96,
5th AL East,

Prediction: 73-89,
4th AL East

Diff: 7

Playoffs:  Failed to qualify

 

I keep waiting for the Orioles to start winning more
games.  Every year I think, ‘this is the
year that they win about 73-78 games and start turning the corner’ and every
year, much to the chagrin of O’s fans, they continue to lose at a catastrophic rate.  The Orioles were on pace for their worst
season ever when they fired manager Dave
Trembley
 and replaced him with
interim manager Juan Samuel.  Under those two the Orioles were a desolate
32-73 when the O’s removed Samuel and replaced him with rebuild specialist Buck Showalter who proceeded to win
more games (34-23) with the team than the other two combined in just over half
the games.  The O’s were among the worst
offensive teams in the AL in 2010 finishing second-to-last in runs scored.  They were led by DH Luke Scott who led the team with 27 homeruns and hit a solid
.284.  Nick Markakis probably doesn’t have as much power as people thought
he would, but he’s still a great hitter and a terrific rightfielder.  There is a surprising lack of young talented
position players in this organization with only 3 regulars 25 years of age or
younger.  This seems unacceptable on a
team that should by now have a stockpile of young talent built up from all the
years of losing.

 

The O’s were also second-to-last in the AL in team ERA, but
at least on the pitching side there are some talented young arms to build
on.  Jeremy
Guthrie
was the team’s best starter finishing with 11 wins and a 3.83 ERA,
but veteran Kevin Millwood has his
worst season as a pro going 4-16 with an ERA over 5.  A host of young hurlers such as Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen, Jake Arrieta,
Chris Tillman, David Hernandez, and Troy
Patton
do give the organization some hope. 
Outside of former starter Koji
Uehara
and Jason Berken, the
bullpen was extremely shaky which wasn’t helped by the fact that both Jim Johnson and Mike Gonzalez spent much of the year injured.  Gonzalez was supposed to be the high-paid closer,
but he finished with only one save on the season.

 

Grade (based on
prediction): D

 

Leaders

Avg.

Nick Markakis (.297)

Luke Scott/Adam Jones (.284)

HR

Luke Scott (27)

Ty Wigginton (22)

RBI

Ty Wigginton (76)

Luke Scott (72)

SB

Corey Patterson (21)

Brian Roberts (12)

W

Jeremy Guthrie (11)

Brian Matusz (10)

ERA

Jeremy Guthrie (3.83)

Brian Matusz (4.30)

Bullpen ERA

Koji Uehara (2.86)

Jason Berken (3.03)

K

Brian Matusz (143)

Kevin Millwood (132)

SV

Alfredo Simon (17)

Koji Uehara (13)

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2010 Season-in-Review Part One

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This was a baseball season steeped in firsts.  The San
Francisco Giants
won their first World Series title since moving to the
Bay-area in 1958, their first in 56 years overall, ending the third-longest
current drought in the majors.  Only the
fans of the Cleveland Indians and of
course, the Chicago Cubs have
suffered longer than the fans in San Francisco. 
So enjoy the victory Franciscans, you deserve it.

Recently it was discovered that
the last three posts I’d written in February are inexplicably gone, those three
posts included my Giants and National League previews which disclosed my
prediction of the Giants as champions, but I assure you, I did have them winning it
all in 2010.

But I digress.

The Texas Rangers won their first playoff series, then their first
playoff home game, then their first American League pennant all on the backs of
the most complete team in the AL.


Dallas Braden, Roy Halladay
and Armando Galarraga all threw
perfect games within one month of one another, Galarraga’s came four days after
Halladay’s and was taken away from him by a botched call at first-base by Jim Joyce.   However, in the ultimate show of
sportsmanship, Galarraga presented the Tigers’ lineup card to an emotional
Joyce the next day and let it be known that he held nothing against Joyce who
had made an honest mistake.


Ubaldo Jimenez, Edwin
Jackson
, and Matt Garza also
threw no-hitters during the season, marking the first time since 1990 that that
many no-hitters were thrown in one season. 
The Jays’ Brandon Morrow was
one two-out bottom-of-the-ninth infield single away from just the second
no-hitter in Jays’ history, much to my chagrin, jumping up and down in my
living room.  Morrow’s performance with
one hit, one walk and 17 strikeouts might have been the most dominating performance
in the Majors this season; perfect games included.

All of this led to the 2010 season
being unofficially dubbed “The Year of the Pitcher”, although 1968
might be offended by such a label. 
Still, coming out of the steroid era, this year was a significant step
out of the dark cloud Major League Baseball has been under for quite some time
now.  The dominance of pitchers on levels
not seen since the late 1980’s is an encouraging turn of events.  Are steroids totally out of the game?  No, and expecting them to be is naive, but
still, this season is encouraging

From the standpoint of a Jays’
fan, this was a great season.  The Jays
were much better than expected in
2010 and have a lot of promise for the future. 
Jose Bautista was the biggest
surprise performance of my lifetime in any sport.  A journeyman utility-player who has the
dubious distinction of being the only player in history to appear on 5
different Major League rosters in one season, hit 54 homeruns.  If he’s not the most unlikely 50-homerun
hitter, I’d like to know who is.

In the next post, I’ll start to go
through each team in a paragraph or two, division-by-division.  Hopefully in the next week, I’ll have them
all posted, but I’m not making any promises. 
I’m a busy man.

Well, crap.

Hey everybody,

As you have no doubt noticed, it is the baseball off-season.  This is bittersweet.  Sure, we don’t have baseball and the summer season is long gone, soon to be replaced by that abhorrent season known as winter, but I also love the off-season.  The speculation, rumours and storylines present during the hot stove season are almost as much fun as baseball itself.

The off-season also means that I’ll be back writing on this blog.  This will help quench my thirst for the game until it returns in the spring.

Very shortly, I’ll start writing again (although just how much is up for debate), but I am a little miffed.

It appears as though the last three entries I posted on the blog (the Padres and Giants previews as well as a National League overview) are GONE!!!  I no longer have the posts backed up due to a mid-summer computer failure and I can only find the notes from which I generated the writing.

This is particularly annoying considering that in those posts I revealed that I was predicting the Giants would win the NL Wildcard and then go on to win the 2010 World Series.  I think I may have been the only person outside the Bay area to have such a prediction and now proof of it is gone forever.

Anyway, I’ll soon post my review of the season with comparisons to my February predictions.

Cheers!