Monday, June 6, 2011

ESPN Power Rankings Comments Explained

By The Common Man

Rankings are powerful things, which is why ESPN does not entrust us with a vote in theirs, since The Common Man would probably end up putting the Twins 42nd and the Giants in “whiniest” place. But they do let us provide the comments. And every week, TCM expands on his thoughts in the power rankings for those teams that aren’t represented in the SweetSpot Network. So without further ado, here’s bonus coverage of the White Sox, Angels, Marlins, and Pirates:

Chicago White Sox: “Thanks to the Indians' terrible week, the White Sox have clawed back to just 7.0 games games back in the AL Central. John Danks has allowed 11 homers in 11 starts, and really needs either get right or get out of the way.”

Five games under .500, 7.0 games back in the division. John Danks is 0-8 with a 5.25 ERA and the White Sox have lost 10 of his 11 starts. It’s not beyond the pale to suggest the Sox would be right in the thick of the AL Central with someone else in the rotation. He’s obviously frustrated, but the Sox should be too, but should they be looking to make a change if they’re going to survive in the eminently winnable AL Central? Check out this crazy random stat-y randomness:


On second look, the problem is more complicated than the homerun issue Danks is having. As you can see, he’s been successful before with a high homer rate. But his strikeouts are down below 6 per game, and that’s leading to more balls in play. His defense is also not helping him, as it’s allowing a higher BABIP-against than he’s ever had before.

It’s not entirely clear what’s wrong, if anything. His velocity isn’t down. His pitches are moving just as much, if not more than usual. He’s simply getting beat in what has otherwise been a great year for pitchers. This could just be a randomly unlucky patch for Danks, and there’s really nothing to do except to keep running him out there, especially with Peavy going down yesterday.

Los Angeles Angels: "Time to start worrying in Anaheim as they drop to a game under.500 and 4.5 back in the AL West. Maicer Izturis and Erick Aybar, so instrumental to the Angels' success, are back to Earth, hitting .206/.287/.296 since May 17."

On May 16, the Angels were two games over .500 and a half-game back in the AL West thanks to Josh Hamilton’s injury and Texas’ ineffectiveness. Unexpectedly, Erick Aybar was hitting .339/.363/.475 and Maicer Izturis was hitting .331/.380/.475, which was allowing the Angels to do things like play the surprisingly powerful Howie Kendrick in LF and 1B. Kendrick has kept hitting (.310/.377/.500 overall), but additional exposure has brought Aybar (.243/.309/.338 since May 16) and Izturis (.180/.282/.262 since May 16) back to earth. Regression to the mean is a B, ladies and gentlemen.

The Angels have gone 8-11 since then and are now 4.5 back of the Rangers. Vernon Wells is rehabbing his groin now in the minors, and will likely rebound from his horrible start when he gets back, which should allow Kendrick to slide back to 2B. But now Dan Haren is hurting and this team simply can’t afford to open up more holes because it doesn’t have the depth to fill them. We may have already seen the Angels’ high water mark in 2011.

Florida Marlins: “A horrible week, with horrible luck, as the Marlins have lost four straight, all of them one-run losses, and all of them in the seventh inning or later. Hopefully that luck will even out soon, because Philadelphia won't let them hang around forever.”

It was just one of those weeks. The Fish scored 26 runs in six games, the starting pitching wasn’t terrible, and the bullpen did yeoman’s work. But they just kept falling short, losing five of six, including the last four games by a single run each. There’s nothing really for the Fish to hang their heads about, except that they’ll have to move on without Hanley Ramirez.

As The Common Man speculated last week, Ramirez has been hurt all year and his injury is probably going to push him to the DL, which will leave SS in the questionable hands of Emilio Bonifacio. But the Marlins have been winning without Hanley being Hanley all year, so there’s a chance that they’ll actually get better production out of the position until Ramirez comes back, and is presumably healthy. Getting Josh Johnson back would also be a huge help, but he doesn’t have a timetable yet for his return.

In the meantime, the Phillies went just 2-4 and could put distance between them and Florida. That’s not likely to continue, as Philadelphia’s aces will keep pushing them along steadily toward the division title, while the Fish scramble to replace their superstars.

Pittsburgh Pirates: “Kevin Correia and Charlie Morton get the press, but Paul Maholm is pitching as well as either of them year too, with a 3.66 ERA but just a 2-7 record. In his seven losses, the Pirates have scored just four runs.”

Because some people focus too much on wins, Paul Maholm is going to get the shaft this year in the popular imagination. But Maholm, the NL leader in losses, has allowed exactly the same number of runs as teammate and NL wins leader Kevin Correia in just 0.1 fewer innings. As you can see above, Maholm’s run support has been abysmal, while the Pirates have scored 47 in Correia’s 8 wins. Never has there been a better case for wins being a stupid stat that is largely based on the offensive support a pitcher receives than this.  If you're going to bet on who will have a better rest of 2011 based on past history, you're probably at about even money.


Anonymous said...

Tough to put it all on Danks. Run support has been horrific for him. In his 13 starts the Sox have only scored more then 4 runs once. And in that game Danks goes 6 innings, and 1 er, and sox lose 9-7, no decision. Counting Quality starts 6+ and 3 or less earned, Danks has 7 out of 13 starts. With 10 out of 13 with 4 or less earned. I think your diagnosis should have been more about the runners left on base over the weekend against the Tigers. How many times can the Sox have runners on second and third with no or one out and not score at all. Dunn needs a break, he is swinging at everything just hoping to make contact.

Kyle said...

go bucs. finally out of the cellar and just a couple games out of the division