Thursday, June 6, 2013

MLB Update

We are now just over one third of the way through the 2013 season, and we have learned a lot about what is likely to happen.  In the American League, the Red Sox, Tigers, and Rangers are all in very strong positions, with about five other teams scrambling for two other playoff spots.  In the National League, Atlanta has got a hammerlock on the NL East, St. Louis is almost certain to make the playoffs, and the remaining playoff spots will probably go to the Reds, Diamondbacks and Rockies (although I still think the Giants could make a run).

Amazingly, Natstown has scored only 201 runs in 59 games -- a feeble output that trails every team in baseball except for the White Sox and the Marlins.  Natstown's lack of offense is the main reason that their season has been, and is likely to remain, a huge bust.

Here are the standings in each league.  The percentages are each team's chance to make the playoffs, according to  Teams with less than a 10 percent chance are in italics:

National League:
1.  St. Louis (94.7 %):  38-21  --
2.  Atlanta (97.0 %):  37-22  1
3.  Cincinnati (78..7 %):  36-24  2 1/2
4.  Pittsburgh (37.9 %):  35-25  3 1/2
5.  Arizona (62.8 %):  34-25  4
6.  Colorado (60.1 %):  32-28  6 1/2
7.  San Francisco (18.9 %):  31-28  7
8.  Philadelphia (11.2 %):  30-30 8 1/2
9.  Washington (14.3 %):  29-30  9
10.  San Diego (7.6 %):  27-32  11
11.  Los Angeles (2.8 %):  25-33  12 1/2
12.  Chicago (10.9 %):  24-33  13
13.  New York (2.6 %):  23-33  13 1/2
14.  Milwaukee (0.5 %):  22-36 15 1/2
15.  Miami (<0.1 %):  16-44  22 1/2

American League:
1.  Texas (83.5 %):  36-22  --
2.  Boston (83.0 %):  36-24  1
3.  Oakland (63.9 %):  36-25  1 1/2
4.  New York (44.9 %):  34-25  2 1/2
5.  Baltimore (33.3 %):  34-26  3
6.  Detroit (83.7 %):  32-26  4
7.  Tampa Bay (47.2 %):  32-27  4 1/2
8.  Cleveland (28.3 %):  30-29  6 1/2
9.  Minnesota (11.8 %):  26-30  9
10.  Chicago (3.2 %):  25-32  10 1/2
T11.  Los Angeles (6.0 %):  26-34  11
T11.  Seattle (2.3 %):  26-34  11
13.  Kansas City (6.8 %):  24-32  11
14.  Toronto (2.1 %):  25-34  11 1/2
15.  Houston (0.1 %):  22-39  15 1/2


  1. Well, Texas's "very strong position" just got a little more tenuous. The Rangers lost today to Boston, and the A's just completed a rally from 3-0 down after three and 4-2 down after five to win at Chicago, 5-4, in 10 innings. #GREENCOLLAR! #GREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENCOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLAR!!!!

  2. The A's were trailing the White Sox, 3-0, after five innings in Chicago last night, so Josh-not-Jake Donaldson simply hit a grand slam in the top of the sixth so that Oakland won, 4-3. Good strategy! And Texas lost Friday, so now the A's are ATOP THE AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST! #GREENCOLLAR! The Swingin' A's are 38-25, a half-game up on the Rangers. Hooray for the A's!

    Josh-not-Jake has been doing it all season, really. He's hitting .329 with nine home runs and 41 runs batted in, and, in 62 of Oakland's 63 games, he's been the starting third baseman. He has six errors; I have no idea if that's a high or low number for the number of innings he's played or number of balls hit his way. But it sounds good to me, and it must be good enough for A's manager Bob Melvin. There are all sorts of statistics available on Donaldson at; most of these I honestly don't understand. I mean, I read those Bill James books, too--but mostly for the great and pretty writing about Amos Otis and not for the analysis.

    It has taken me, basically, this long to come back to baseball since the big strike several years ago. It wasn't an angry, intentional boycott; rather, I just got out of the habit of caring, and it has taken me this long to drift back into the myth that this stuff matters. Anyway, one of the seasons where I wasn't paying any too much attention was 2008, and, in that season, the A's finished third in their division. On July 8 of that year, the A's traded a pretty good (but injury-prone) pitcher, Rich Harden to the Chicago Cubs. Well, Rich Harden was fantastic for the 2008 Cubs--he went 5-1 with a 1.77 earned-run average in 12 starts with Chicago the rest of that summer. In the 2008 playoffs (wow, the Cubs made the 2008 playoffs), Harden was Manager Lou Piniella's choice (wow, Lou Piniella managed the Cubs) as the starting pitcher in Game 3 of an opening-round, best-of-three series against the Dodgers when the Cubs had already lost two games. (Harden yielded three earned runs, and Los Angeles beat him, 3-1.) ...

  3. ... One of the players the A's picked up in that July 2008 trade was Josh Donaldson, a catcher who had played at Faith Academy in Mobile, Ala., and then Auburn University. (Says Wikipedia, "Donaldson was raised by only his mother, having never really known his father. He was bullied in his first high school and then transferred to Faith Academy.") Donaldson made some appearances with the 2010 and '11 A's, and then he converted to third base in spring training last year. He made Oakland's opening-day roster, but he was back and forth to Triple-A Sacramento until mid-August. Then he hit .290 the rest of the regular season as the A's charged into the playoffs; he even started all five games at third base against Detroit in the first-round series loss and hit .294.

    This season, on a team that, per Reggie Jackson, is all about pitching, Josh-not-Jake Donaldson clearly is Oakland's best hitter, and I'm going to have to find one of those Scantron ballots at a Gillette razor display at the Kroger some time soon and punch out the little square of cardboard next to Donaldson's name for the All-Star Game.

    Harden, by the way, after 2008 played another season with the Cubs, one with the Rangers and then one more, 2011, with Oakland. Injuries have remained a problem, and he missed all of last season in rehabilitation. He's trying to come back with the Twins; good luck to Rich Harden.

  4. A's have now lost two in a row, and, at 38-27, are back into second place behind Texas by a half-game in the A.L. West standings. Yankees come to Oakland on Tuesday.

  5. A's hold off Yankees in series opener in Oakland, 6-4 (Bartolo Colon is 5-0 with a 0.75 earned-run average in his last five starts, per Josh Dubow with the AP), and that pulls the A's (39-27) back into a tie (kind of) with Texas (38-26) at the top of the A.L. West. Yahoo! Sports also lists Oakland as tied with New York at the top of the A.L. wild-card standings, but I don't get that because the A's have actually won two more games than the Yankees (37-27).