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Indians are the AL Central's best

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Indians are the AL Central's best

Unread postby consigliere » Fri Jan 19, 2007 4:05 pm

Get ready for a lot of these as predictions start to roll in before the new season starts...

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/6372960

Indians might be A.L. Central's best
Dayn Perry / Special to FOXSports.com
Posted: 11 hours ago

The denizens of the American League East may get most of the bandwidth/column inches on an annual basis, but these days the AL Central, without question, is baseball's toughest division.

In that loop, you have two playoff teams from 2006 (the Tigers and Twins), the 2005 world champs (the White Sox) and one of the best up-and-coming young teams in the league (the Indians). In other words, you have four playoff-caliber squads in one division (sorry, Royals, you're out of the discussion for the moment). Considering these are the days of the unbalanced schedule, these four teams are going to eat each other alive in 2007, and as a result, you may see only one team from the Central make the post-season. It will still be baseball's most brutal circuit.
We're still a month-and-half from spring training games, so it's too early to make any firm predictions. However, most of the Hot Stove maneuverings are behind us, so we are able to get a "lay of the land"-type grasp of how the AL Central might unfold. So let's take a closer look at these four teams and how the '07 season figures to treat them.

To begin, let's take a look at some key indicators from last year (AL rank in parentheses):

2006 A.L. Central Key Stats
Runs scored Runs allowed OBP SLG Starters' ERA Bullpen ERA Defensive efficiency
Tigers 822 (5th) 675 (1st) .329 (12th) .449 (5th) 4.00 (1st) 3.51 (2nd) .712 (1st)
Twins 801 (8th) 683 (2nd) .347 (5th) .425 (9th 4.50 (5th) 2.91 (1st) .692 (8th)
Indians 870 (2nd) 782 (7th) .349 (3rd) .457 (4th) 4.31 (3rd) 4.66 (11th) .686 (10th)
White Sox 868 (3rd) 794 (10th) .342 (6th) .464 (1st) 4.65 (8th) 4.53 (10th) .700 (5th)

(* - Defensive Efficiency measures what percentage of balls in play a defense converts into outs.)
Now let's examine each of the "Big Four" on an individual basis ...


Detroit Tigers
Last season, the Tigers won 95 games and their first pennant since 1984. As you can see from the above numbers, they succeeded with great pitching, great defense and good power production. Most of that roster is intact going into 2007, so you can expect another strong season in Detroit.

One source of concern, however, is Justin Verlander. He faded badly down the stretch in 2006, and, counting the post-season, he worked 207.2 innings on the year. Considering his previous high for innings in a season — as a minor leaguer and in college — was 130.0, a drop-off in 2007 is a distinct possibility. On the other hand, Jeremy Bonderman moves another year closer to his prime and should continue his skills growth, Mike Maroth will be back from injury, and phenom Andrew Miller will be ready for a larger role.

Elsewhere, it's incumbent upon Jim Leyland to religiously platoon Sean Casey with Chris Shelton and to ensure that Marcus Thames is in the lineup every day. If those things happen and Carlos Guillen stays healthy, the Tigers will be right there once again.


MinnesotaTwins
Minnesota will be a quality team in the upcoming season, but there are reasons to fret. First and foremost is the rotation behind Johan Santana. Francisco Liriano (2.16 ERA in 121.0 innings last season) will likely miss all of 2007 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in November, and Brad Radke (2.84 ERA in the second half) has retired. That means the Twins will go to spring training with Boof Bonser, Carlos Silva, Matt Garza, Scott Baker and Sidney Ponson all vying for the final four spots in the rotation. There's some promise in there with Bonser and Garza, but you should expect growing pains.

There's also the possibility that Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, because their successes in '06 were built heavily around high batting averages, might come back to earth. That's especially a concern for Morneau, who is not a true .321 hitter at the highest level (batting average is the traditional hitting statistic most prone to random variation). As well, it's doubtful that Rondell White, at his age and state of disrepair, can be a productive regular any longer.


Can Justin Verlander, Carlos Guillen and co. scheme their way back into the playoffs? (Ron Vesely/MLB / Getty Images)


Chicago White Sox
The tendencies of U.S. Cellular Field tend to make the Sox's pitching staff look a little worse than it really is and make the Sox's hitters look a little better than they really are. However, the pitching staff is indeed the team's problem going forward. With the recent trades of Freddy Garcia and Brandon McCarthy, the Sox don't enjoy the proven depth they've had in the past, but they do perhaps have more upside. Mark Buehrle needs to rebound, Jose Contreras needs to stay healthy, and they need to dig up a reliable fifth man. The bullpen — a serious problem last year — has been modestly upgraded, and they have a number of young starters who could be deployed as relievers should the need arise.

Offensively, Brian Anderson should make strides. On the downside, Jermaine Dye, while still remaining productive, should see his numbers take a dive, and Scott Podsednik will remain a glaring liability in left.


Cleveland Indians
In 2005, the Indians had the best bullpen in baseball (2.80 relief ERA), and last year they had one of the worst. That decline was the big reason the Indians fell back in the standings to such a degree. So it's to GM Mark Shapiro's credit that he's worked so hard this winter to improve the relief corps. New to the scene are Roberto Hernandez, Keith Foulke, Joe Borowski and Aaron Fultz. That means the Tribe will have multiple closer options and vastly improved depth, particularly from the right side.

Elsewhere, the Indians return the ingredients of an underrated rotation, and core hitters like Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez are back. David Dellucci and Jason Michaels should form an effective platoon in left, and Andy Marte should improve in the upcoming season. Also, the bench figures to be a pronounced strength.

One final point on the Indians: If you look at what their record should've been based on runs scored and runs allowed (89-73 instead of their actual record of 78-84), then you'll see that they're in for a serious rebound in 2007. Expect that to happen

Any of these four teams would probably win the NL West, NL Central and AL West, but in reality they have the misfortune of competing against one another for a single division crown. At this early juncture — and it is terribly early — the Tigers and Indians appear to be better poised. There's still time for rosters to be tweaked, injuries to occur and trades to happen, but right now Detroit and Cleveland figure to be the teams doing serious battle for the AL Central title.

If you insist upon a ludicrously premature prediction, then here it is: it's the Tribe's year.
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Unread postby pup » Fri Jan 19, 2007 4:28 pm

(89-73 instead of their actual record of 78-84)


Was 89 wins enough to win anything last year?
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Unread postby Dozen » Fri Jan 19, 2007 4:32 pm

Indians might be A.L. Central's best




Post subject: Indians are the AL Central's best


:lol: stay hot
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Unread postby consigliere » Fri Jan 19, 2007 5:05 pm

Pup wrote:Was 89 wins enough to win anything last year?


Nope, but then again it wasn't mentioned by the author it would have been. Basically, this team is viewed as having 89-90 win talent from last year, which is why so many people don't think it is such a stretch for this team to improve and rebound this year. Some think we need to add 15-20 wins from the 78 last year.....others who look at actual pythag performance are adding to the 89-90 from last year.
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Unread postby consigliere » Fri Jan 19, 2007 5:08 pm

Dozen wrote: :lol: stay hot


Of course, the author picks the Indians, so, yes, he considers them the AL Central's best:

If you insist upon a ludicrously premature prediction, then here it is: it's the Tribe's year.

Stay hot. :twisted:
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Unread postby Dozen » Fri Jan 19, 2007 5:43 pm

:lol: :oops: I was rolling after I seen the topic, then the article topic :lol:
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Unread postby pup » Fri Jan 19, 2007 7:19 pm

The "pyth" theory (or whatever the hell it is that tries to put evaluating the game of baseball through only stats and not players) is stating what the Indians should have done. I take that as taking the imploding bullpen out of the mix, then we should have won 90 games. Well, if that is the only area we are better, how does it now translate to winning more than 90 games which will be needed?
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Unread postby consigliere » Fri Jan 19, 2007 7:29 pm

Actually, the pyth theory doesn't take into account the bullpen meltdowns. It is a method used throughout baseball front offices to more accurately determine how a team should have done rather than just go by the straight W/Ls.

Here is what it is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagorean_expectation

A lot of fans don't understand (or know about) sabermetrics....I'm still learning it all and it is a bit overwhelming. Basically anything can be quanitifed with them, but the Bill James Pythag Theory is the most widely accepted sabermetric as predicting team performance (or should I say how that team should have performed).
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Unread postby Dozen » Fri Jan 19, 2007 8:02 pm

It is a method used throughout baseball front offices to more accurately determine how a team should have done rather than just go by the straight W/Ls.


The ol "If my aunt had balls" line comes to mind on that. I mean seriously..........
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Unread postby consigliere » Sat Jan 20, 2007 8:28 am

Dozen wrote:
It is a method used throughout baseball front offices to more accurately determine how a team should have done rather than just go by the straight W/Ls.


The ol "If my aunt had balls" line comes to mind on that. I mean seriously..........


Hey, don't shoot the messenger. This is the stuff scouts, agents, GMs, etc use to analyze players and team performance. Traditional stats like average, HRs, ERA and RBIs are just superficial stats they notice, but the ones they truly use to evaluate them are the sabermetrics and scouting reports.

For example.....they know so and so hit .310 with 31 HRs and 95 RBIs. THe objective with the analysis is to determine the liklihood that the player repeats that performance and sustains a level close to it (and for how long?). While not always right, it is the most effective tool in predicting player performance.....which is the key. We know what a player DID (.310/31/95), but how do we know what they will DO? That is where the analysis comes in, and why traditional stats are generally not used in evaluating except as a starting point.

There is more to it, but that is the jist of it. I once laughed it all off....and some of this stuff you need to be a math dork to understand....but it does ring true with how these teams make roster decisions. A lot of teams mainly use the sabermetric side to evaluate (Red Sox), where some teams use a combination of the human element (scouts) with the sabermetrics to analyze players (Indians, Yankees, etc).
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Unread postby Dozen » Sat Jan 20, 2007 10:23 am

Hey, don't shoot the messenger. This is the stuff scouts, agents, GMs, etc use to analyze players and team performance. Traditional stats like average, HRs, ERA and RBIs are just superficial stats they notice, but the ones they truly use to evaluate them are the sabermetrics and scouting reports.



That was directed at the theory, not you.... 8) :cool: 8-)
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Unread postby consigliere » Sat Jan 20, 2007 11:39 am

Even though the theory has its flaws, it is the most effective way of evaluating performance known at this time. That's the thing.
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Unread postby Dozen » Sat Jan 20, 2007 12:05 pm

This is interesting, I'm gonna give it a read.
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Unread postby pup » Sat Jan 20, 2007 3:59 pm

The eyes are the best way to evaluate talent.
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Unread postby Dozen » Sat Jan 20, 2007 4:14 pm

The eyes are the best way to evaluate talent.


agree 8) :cool: 8-)
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Unread postby consigliere » Sat Jan 20, 2007 5:08 pm

The eyes are only part of it. You have to use both. Here is an excellent link (and read) explaining the importance and differences of both:

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/fe ... ebate.html

Hopefully that gives some insight into what not only the sabermetric side of things do, but how the people with the "eyes" also look for a ton more than we as fans pay attention to (BA, HR, RBIs, etc).
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Unread postby Dozen » Sat Jan 20, 2007 11:14 pm

Wow I must say this is very interesting. I can see what you are talking about consig. Although it's clearly not perfect, neither is predicting how they do by eye. I stand corrected, thx for the info. :-) :smile: :)
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