Thursday, August 17, 2017

ML"what would"B: What if David Freese Failed the Cards in the 2011 World Series? Part 1 8/16/17

Hey baseball fans!

It's time for another ML"what would"B, where I analyze a "what-if" scenario in baseball history, like what if the Yankees had won the 2004 ALCS. In this installment, let's see what would have happened if David Freese hadn't come up clutch for the St. Louis Cardinals in Game Six of the 2011 World Series. To refresh, the Texas Rangers were one strike away from winning the franchise's first World Series in 2011, when they were up by two in the bottom of the ninth against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Then, David Freese hit a two-RBI triple that was just barely out of the reach of Nelson Cruz in right field to tie the game and would go on to hit a walk-off home run a few innings later to send the series to a final game, a game the Cardinals won. But what would've happened if Cruz made the catch in right to secure a ring for the team from the Lone Star State?

Well, the butterfly effect would be felt just a few short months later during free agency. You see, coming off a World Series loss and with only one career World Series ring, there's no way Albert Pujols would've left St. Louis to take the massive ten-year contract with the Angels. It would be a disservice to Cardinals fans everywhere. So, instead, he re-signs with the Missouri team on a cheaper and shorter deal with the thought of avenging the team's Fall Classic defeat. That leaves the Angels without a first baseman, but Prince Fielder is still a free agent. So, LA uses the money they would've used on Pujols to instead sign the plump former slugger of the Milwaukee Brewers to a nine-year, $214 million deal. Without the help from Fielder, the 2012 AL real-life pennant-winning Detroit Tigers dip, as Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera can't carry the whole team to glory. So the White Sox finish tied with Detroit in the AL Central at 86 wins and beat them in the one-game playoff, as Chris Sale out-duels Justin Verlander. Meanwhile, the Cardinals turn into a juggernaut, fueled by the re-signing of one of the greatest hitters in franchise history. They win 95 games in 2012, good enough to edge out the Reds by a game for the NL Central crown, meaning Cincinnati gets the second NL Wild Card spot. The win-loss records for the rest of the teams remain virtually the same.


In the 2012 playoffs, the Rangers lose to Baltimore in the AL Wild Card Game, while the Braves edge out the Reds because in this scenario, there is no bad infield fly rule call that messes up Atlanta's chances at advancing in the playoffs. In the divisional round, the Yankees take care of the Orioles and the A's crush the White Sox in the AL, while in the NL, the Nationals actually win a playoff series by taking their series against the Braves in five games and the Cardinals beat the Giants. In the championship series, the Yankees take down Oakland and the Cardinals actually fall to Washington. Remember: the St. Louis bats went completely quiet in the actual 2012 NLCS against the Giants. So, the 2012 World Series is set: Yankees vs. Nationals. Aaaaaaand, the Nationals sweep the Yankees! Slumping bats in the Bronx couldn't stop the upstart Nationals, who win the franchise's first World Series!

After coming up short in the AL West race in 2012, the Angels make a statement by not signing Josh Hamilton in the offseason, who instead goes back to Texas. Instead, they re-sign Zack Greike to help the pitching staff get back on track. But the biggest move comes from the Tigers, who trade DH Victor Martinez to the Orioles for young slugger and first baseman Chris Davis. With the addition of Torii Hunter as well, the 2013 Tigers manage to win the AL Central, as Davis explodes for 53 home runs and the AL MVP. Meanwhile, the Rangers win the AL West at 94 games in a tight race with Oakland, who finishes just a game back. The Nationals, coming off their historic run in the 2012 playoffs, win five more games and the second NL Wild Card spot, which pushes the Reds out of the playoffs entirely. The Cardinals make the NL look silly, cruising to the World Series to face... the Texas Rangers? Yeah, remember how Texas re-signed Josh Hamilton in the offseason? Well, he goes nuts in the playoffs, carrying the Rangers past the Tigers and Red Sox and onto the World Series for a World Series rematch. This time, the Cardinals don't squander the chance to give Pujols his second ring, using their number one offense and number five pitching staff to take down the Rangers.


But wait, what's that "Part 1" doing in the title of this post, you may ask? Well, we have to see what happens to Prince Fielder and the Angels in 2014 onward, don't we? Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ichiro, Edgar, and the 2001 Seattle Mariners 8/9/17

Hey baseball fans!

The 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers just went 43-7 over a 50-game span! That hasn't been done in more than a century! The Dodgers' performance this year begs the question of whether or not they will break the record for most team wins in a single season. This record is owned by two teams, the 1906 Chicago Cubs and 2001 Seattle Mariners. The Cubs set the record while only playing a 154-game season, so their winning percentage is a lot better than that of the '01 Mariners. With that being said, it is virtually impossible for the Dodgers this season to break the record for single-season winning percentage, but let's talk about that Mariners team for a second. 116 wins? How?

To put it simply, Ichiro Suzuki (pictured below) is how. The Japanese All Star debuted in the MLB in 2001 with Seattle and boy did he have an unbelievable rookie season. The then-27-year-old batted a league-leading .350 and also led the league in base hits with 242, over 30 hits more than the second place finisher. His insane season made him the second-ever hitter to win the Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season (the first being Fred Lynn of the 1975 Red Sox). But it wasn't just the Asian phenom who helped the Mariners go 116-46. Edgar Martinez, Brett Boone, and John Olerud each batted over .300 on the season and they & Mike Cameron each drove in over 90 runs. Brett Boone probably had the best slugging season of the bunch, punching out 37 home runs and collecting a league-leading 141 RBIs.


The starting pitching staff wasn't half bad, either. Each pitcher who made at least 15 starts also won at least ten games. Freddy Garcia (pictured below) probably had the best season out of the starting pitchers, placing third in Cy Young voting, going 18-6 with a 3.05 ERA. 38-year-old Jamie Moyer won 20 games for the first time in his career and Paul Abbott won 17 of his own. The bullpen was backed by Japanese closer Kazuhiro Sasaki, whose 45 saves were second in all of baseball that year. All in all, the Mariners batted .288 as a team, tops in the American League, while their 3.54 team ERA was tops in baseball. Suzuki, Boone, Olerud, Martinez, Cameron, Garcia, Sasaki, and reliever Jeff Nelson were all All Stars and the Mariners' run differential that season was 300 runs, which is absolutely unprecedented.


The Seattle magic ran out eventually, however, as they ended up losing the 2001 ALCS to the Yankees. That's interesting, because the 1906 Cubs also didn't win that year's World Series either. Maybe 116 is an unlucky win total in baseball. If the Dodgers reach 116 wins on the dot, we'll find out the number's luck in October. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Preview of the 2018 Hall of Fame Vote 8/1/17

Hey baseball fans!

Hall of Fame induction ceremonies took place yesterday, which means it's time to start discussing the potential members of the 2018 HoF class. I don't want to dive too deep (I will instead save my hardcore analyzing for right before the vote), but let's look at some of the names on the ballot for next year.

The Non-Debatable Hall of Famers
Chipper Jones and Jim Thome highlight the class and both have a 99.9% chance of getting in on their first try. Jones was the face of the Braves franchise for well over a decade and has a .303 lifetime batting average, while Thome is seventh on the all time home runs list at 612 career dingers. In my mind, these guys are no-brainers.










Other Intriguing First-Timers
Johnny Damon, Andruw Jones, Scott Rolen, and Omar Vizquel (pictured below) headline the remaining first-timers on the ballot and are all very up in the air. Due to the strictness of Hall of Fame voters for the last couple of years, it would be hard for these guys to get in, but I wouldn't be blown out of my chair if one or more do. Notice how there aren't any pitchers listed yet in this post. That's because the first-time pitchers' class is weaker this year than in past years.


The "Should've Gotten In Last Year" Guys
Vlad Guerrero absolutely deserved to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but we'll have to see if the voters come to their senses next January. Billy Wagner (pictured below) and Trevor Hoffman are in bad positions because if they don't get into the Hall in '18, they will have to compete for votes with Mariano Rivera in 2019, which is a battle they will both painfully lose.


How Is Edgar Martinez Not A Hall of Famer By Now?
Seriously, how? The guy has an award named after him that is awarded to the best DH in the AL every season. For Pete's sake, even the MLB knows that Martinez is the best DH of all time (sorry, Big Papi), so why can't BBWAA voters see that?


As for Sosa, Bonds, and Clemens...
We'll just have to wait and see.

It's never too early to start talking about the next generation of Cooperstown inductees, so thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."