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Rank relief: Bold statement – Houston is a worse team than Seattle

Kyle Seager poses while Josh Fields watches his handiwork

Kyle Seager poses while Josh Fields watches his handiwork

In a game between two pretty bad teams, Josh Fields turned out to have the worst day.  Attempting to close the game and protect a one run lead for the Astros, he gave up three runs in walk off fashion.  Kyle Seager has been awful this season until his two home runs in this game.  I wouldn’t have minded having Seager and his .158 BA up to the plate plate with the game on the line, but he did 22 home runs in 2013 and should be expected to provide that kind of pop going forward.

So exactly how did the 9th inning go for Fields…let’s take a look.

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After a pair of singles, Field was able to strike out and a game ending double play was in play.  But Fields threw a fat 4 seamer that Seager deposited over the wall.  Game.

The Astros did take 2 of 3 from the Mariners on the road which is a nice accomplishment, but still lag a game behind for last place.  After a hot start, the Mariners have fallen flat on their faces.  Nobody really thinks either of these teams is going anywhere this year, but it could be an interesting race for last place.

Rank Relief: The pinnacle may have been reached

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We may have witnessed the worst relief performance possible.  Forget Aroldis Chapman, the Reds just need Jonathan Broxton back.  JJ Hoover has been good as a reliable bullpen arm an has worked out of plenty of jams.  Tonight he put himself in one and then decidedly did not work himself out of.  He came in to close with a one run lead after Brandon Phillips helped the Reds get the lead with a two run shot.

This was his line:

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I guess you could say that Joey Votto didn’t help him by going for the double play instead of taking the out at first, but the rest was very bad.  Lead off walk, bunt for hit, walk, grand salami.  What the f*ck?  That is very bad.  The Reds love Hoover…as a regular relief guy.  Not as the best arm in the bullpen.

Good luck to the Reds as they continue to chase their second win of the season.

We’re Getting Closer: 60 Days until Opening Day

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The past few nights, it’s been depressing around my house. I’ve found myself watching Pro Wrestling (and that’s actually not the depressing part) along with actually following the NBA a little bit. Watching Pro Basketball and having a rooting interest is the equivalent of hitting rock bottom. And I’ll admit it – I’ve resorted to gambling on the NBA. It’s a shameful act. Those point spreads. Those totals. Only a fool of a man would take his hard-earned money and lay it on a team to cover by sums of 10 or 11.5. I am that man.

Baseball season is a stark contrast to that. It’s like hearing sounds of Heaven non-stop for six months. And every day you’re rewarded with a new nightly slate that runs deep into the night hours. It is honest and true. It’s a sport I actually know and understand.

We have two months remaining until that glorious March 30th evening. Two long, grueling months. Any kind of man can make it through two months, surely.

This baseball season, I plan to visit MyTopSportsBooks.com to place my baseball bets. I’m going to do some major damage, starting with Opening Day. It’s going to be a glorious celebration of not only my favorite sport by also my favorite thing to wager on.

The Super Bowl is this Sunday. It’s culmination always sends the official countdown into full-force and begins toughest stretch of the year after for us die hard baseball fans.

So work late, hit the gym a few extra days, join an extra rotisserie league to prepare for; whatever you need to do to pass the time. With any luck, MLB The Show ’14 will be out sometime in March and we’ll have the NCAA Tournament to get us through the final stretch. There is a light at the end of the tunnel men!

Another year in baseball and life begins

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It’s weird to sit and think that it’s really 2014.

The numeral just seems weird. Time is going by way too fast. And in all the same for a baseball fan right now it’s going by all too slowly.

We’re at that point in the sports calendar where the college football bowl season is winding down. NFL football during the week has been reduced to just a few (albeit typically marvelous) playoff games on the weekend. The things that pass the time until baseball season are really dwindling. And up against all this is February. The most dreadful, long, barren wasteland of a month of all.

But soon it will be a new year. Fantasy draft magazines will hit the shelves. We’ll decide on our sleepers. Pitchers and catchers will report. The thought of retreating to Florida with some of them will sound enticing. And before we know it it will be that glorious March 31st Monday, when the long baseball calendar begins. The days will get longer and the parking lot slush will slowly fade to warm sunlight.

This blog began back in 2007. We had no idea it would last this long. We’ll keep bringing you nuggets and baseball commentary to share with us for yet another year. Happy 2014, fellow Hoggers. Here’s to a great year for all of us.

Your Saturday Baseball Post

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This is it – the Reds regular season really comes down to today and tomorrow. The Indians, Rangers, and Rays are trying to resolve their drama. Others are trying to decide home field advantage throughout the postseason (must be nice).

And I would bet the house on Cincinnati today. They’ll take this out until the final bloody Sunday; the final day of the regular season. There should be no doubts. This is a team that will make you skip watching your precious football only to lose 8-1 for you.

It’s hard to believe this is the final Saturday for so many teams around the league. It seems like the year just started in a lot of ways. I say this every time we hit this point; but I wish the baseball season ran for the entire year.

So enjoy your final Saturday of glorious baseball – and thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers. Another season is nearly in the books here (that’s six and counting).

What the hell is going to happen in the second half? A brief preview

These two will be slugging it out in the second half

The first half of the season has been a great one.  Highlighted by Chris Davis’s home run bonanza, no hitters by Homer Bailey and Tim Lincecum, two brawls in Los Angeles, the upstart Pirates claiming the 3rd best record in baseball, Miggy cementing himself as the most dominant hitter since Barry Bonds and other great moments.  The standing may not look very much like I thought they would at the beginning of the season but they are nonetheless interesting.  Here’s where we stand so far in both leagues:

AL standings 7.15NL standings 7.15

A few observations:

  • The Red Sox, the only team I said didn’t have a shot to win the AL east, are in first place in the toughest division in baseball (sorry NL Central).
  • The Pirates have had another great first half.  Can they avoid another second half dumpster fire?
  • Oakland has the best record in baseball over the last 162 games.  Look at the roster.  It’s incredible.
  • My NL World series pick, the Giants, are not making me look good.  I still feel a second half run.
  • The Houston Astros and Miami Marlins haven’t let anybody down by being the worst teams in baseball.

This isn’t really the mid point in the season.  Teams have played over 90 games.  They have less than 70 games to keep their lead or make up ground.  Buster Olney put together a list of the toughest schedules left among the contenders. (Insider)  Hint:  It’s the Royals, Braves have easiest.  I think the Red Sox and the A’s end up with the AL wild cards.  The Rays, Tigers, and Rangers will take the divisions.  In the NL, The Dodgers and Reds will manage to get the wild cards while the Braves, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks will win the divisions.http://diamondhoggers.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=14977&action=edit

Maybe the biggest question looming over the second half is whether Chris Davis can continue his torrid pace and get over the 60 HR mark and prevent Miguel Cabrera from winning his second straight Triple Crown in the process.  I’m pegging Davis to come up short of 60…somewhere around 55-57.  Which, clearly is still ridiculous and will be enough to stay ahead of Cabrera.

What about some of the smaller plots?  Let’s see:

  • Can Max Scherzer hold onto his sizable lead in the AL Cy Young race?  No.  I’m going to go with Yu Darvish.  Hopefully his injury issue is nothing and he’ll be right back.
  • Who will be the big buyer/seller at the trade deadline?  With team’s valuing their prospects more, the big deals are harder to come buy, but I think the Dodgers will make some moves now that they are within striking distance.  The White Sox will definitely be unloading and, despite the public saying to the contrary, the Phillies will figure out that they need to blow that thing up.
  • What will happen with the Biogenesis scandal?  Who will get suspended?  I’ve made it known I don’t agree with the MLB’s investigation tactics, but it looks more and more like they will suspend somewhere between a few and a bunch of players.  This is going to get ugly before it gets better.
  • When will Ryan Ludwick come back and help the anemic Reds offense?  Just kidding…nobody cares about this.

These questions and more will be on the mind of baseball fans for another few months.  We’ll get answers and most of us will have sarcastic things to say about it on Twitter.  Enjoy the second half.

This post was sponsored by The Sports Geek. If you like baseball, and you like to bet; we suggest you give them a click and check it out.

 

Rank Relief: When Aroldis Chapman loses, he give up the long ball

Freddy Galvis ran into one to steal the series for the Phillies

Freddy Galvis ran into one to steal the series for the Phillies

The Reds have been red hot of lately and looked like they were set to take another series win against the Phillies.  That was not to be today.  Aroldis Chapman has been one of the better closers over the past year and a half, but when he’s missing some movement on the fastball, it’s not too difficult to run into.   And when someone runs into a 99-100 mph fastball, the ball tens to travel far.  That’s what happened today.

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Erik Kratz hit a solo home run and then Freddy Galvis hit a home run.  Game over.  One funny quirk to te 9th inning was Charlie Manuel pinch running Cliff Lee for Delmon Young.  Lee was promptly picked off of first and prevented Kratz’s homer from being a walk off.  No worries when Freddy Galvis is involved though.

 

 

Rank Relief: So bad that John Axford got a win

Jeff Bianchi delivers a single up the middle to give the Brewers the lead

Jeff Bianchi delivers a single up the middle to give the Brewers the lead

John Axford was an early season source of rank relief, but since he was moved to middle relief he has mostly stayed off the radar.  Fortunately for him, he actually pitched well today and backed into a win.  Joe Kelly was the loser today. In the bullpen after losing the fifth starter spot to Shelby Miller (smart choice), he came in today in a tied game in extra innings – a high leverage situation.  He started off rough with a couple singles.  Let’s see what happened.

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3 singles, 1 walk.  He almost got out of it with two ground outs, but Bianchi came through to seal the game for the Brewers.  The Cardinals have had some some bullpen issues with Jason Motte out fo the year and having to send Edward Mujica down to the minors for a stint.  If they want to keep the best record in baseball, they better fix it.

We know it won’t happen often so let’s celebrate when Axford gets a win.  Bourbons on me.

 

 

 

iOOTP 13: Toronto Blue Jays are better in the sim world than the real world

I got my copy of iOOTP 13 a few weeks ago and dove right in.  I decided to go with the Toronto Blue Jays this time around to see if  my sim team could match up to the expectations of the real world team this year.

If you’re used to the iOOTP format, you will pick up right where you left off.  The action is pretty smooth as you’d expect and the set up is pretty much exactly the same.

I went with the re-draft new season format.  I like that in this version you can pick what teams are in the league.  It has randomize function.  I tried to stick to the real thing.  I like the re-draft because I like fantasy baseball, but it would probably be fun to take a team on the cusp like the Orioles and see what you can do with them.  Here is pretty much the offense I drafted.

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I’m pretty sure I went Trout, Stanton, Castro, Zunino and Eaton were my top picks.  I heavily leaned towards young players because I knew my payroll wouldn’t be very high to begin with.  Check the staff I came up with after the jump: Continue reading

WAR: Who is the most valuable so far?

Is Carlos Gomez the best player in baseball?

We are only 35 some odd games into the season, but some players are already have great seasons.  Let’s take a quick look at the players that are most impacting their teams positively.  For this we will use Baseball-reference.com WAR calculation.  In case you aren’t familiar WAR represents “how much better a player is than what a team would typically have to replace that player.”  Pretty basic on the surface but complicated to represent with numbers.  Read their full explanation here.  who let’s see who is pacing the majors this year.

WAR 1

Carlos Gomez has been ridiculous this year.  It took him three organizations and some time, but he finally fulfilling his prospect promise.  The pitchers get half the spots here and 5 of the top 6.  The steroid era is over apparently.  Let’s give the batters some credit and exclude the pitchers.

WAR 3

Well the Rockies and Braves both having two players on this list seem to back up their winning records.  You may be curious why Andrelton Simmons is on here.  Well this includes defense.  Since defense is inherently harder to measure, let’s look at just what happens at the plate.

WAR 4

This is starting to look more like what you might expect when you think of the best players in baseball (Wait…maybe not Starling Marte, but he’s having a good season.)  This is a measure I like because it focuses on the runs that a player creates at the plate or on the bases.  And runs are the only way to win a baseball game.  Finally, let’s get to the pitchers who having been keeping the runs off the board.

WAR 2

Kevin Slowey?  Travis Wood?  Matt Harvey is having a tremendous season and has launched himself to the top of the pitching board.  With familiar names at the top balancing out some surprises at the bottom…bottom of the top 10.

There you have it.  The best players of the 2013 as judged by the stats.

The one where Vlad Guerrero plays Dominoes with a gun-wielding man in a Dominican Hut

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This picture is indeed an artifact of sorts. Special thanks goes out to our friend Detroit Stars for tracking down this special request.

You will not find this picture of legend residing anywhere else on the internet, and the internet is a very large and scary place. Here we witness one of the greatest ballplayers of the modern era likely playing a game of dominoes that his life was riding on. Directly behind him, an amigo enjoys some paella. The contestant sitting clockwise to Vlad has a pistol in his lap. The man across from the former Expos star is tipping a bottle of something, waiting for Vlad to finish his move.

I remember one night as a youngster watching Baseball Tonight. Vlad Guerrero picked a ball up on the warning track (I think it was in Colorado, but it might have been in that old Canadian dome). Guerrero fired a strike that didn’t hop to home plate or third base and nailed the runner. Not only did this man have 40/40 skill, and lay dominoes with Dominican murderers; but he had one of the best arms I’ve ever seen in the outfield.

We don’t talk enough about Vladimir Guerrero on this blog. Carry on.