Tag Archives: Clayton Kershaw

It’s Time to Start Worrying about Zack Greinke

The Los Angeles Dodgers have one of the best number-two starters in baseball. Because they employ Clayton Kershaw, pitcher Zack Greinke is forced to become the team’s second in command from the mound.

It’s time to start worrying about Greinke. There’s nothing about his performance to make me think he won’t be anything but fantastic in 2015. That is, if he’s healthy.

By Feelin Kinda Blue [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Feelin Kinda Blue [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
The offseason hasn’t been a very pleasant one for the 31-year-old veteran. He first was outspoken in a very passive aggressive way about how the Dodgers are not as good as they were last year. Rightfully so, they lost their middle infield in Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez along with Matt Kemp who in spite of his struggles was still a centerpiece of the lineup.

Now, Greinke is taking things a little more personally and it has nothing to do with how he feels about management.

Earlier this week, Greinke received what has become an annual injection into his arm. He’s taking precautions which is good, however, he’s not quite at the age where an annual dose of fluids into his elbow is a saving grace. Popeye eating some spinach to get strong comes from a cartoon for a reason: because it doesn’t actually have any long-term positive effects in real life.

Greinke has been real good in his two seasons with the Dodgers. He’s 32-12 with a 2.68 ERA. In 2014, he managed to strikeout more than a batter per inning. He’s not at Kershaw level, but definitely someone who could become an ace pitching anywhere else.

So start worrying Dodgers’ fan, but don’t panic. The bad dark clouds haven’t arrived yet. The weatherman is just very insistent that tomorrow they’ll be here.

2015 MLB Prediction: Yu Darvish Strikes Out 299 Batters

A bittersweet prediction, Texas Rangers’ starting pitcher Yu Darvish will strikeout 299 batters in 2015. This will lead the league, set a new career high, and most importantly fall just one strikeout short of reaching the coveted 300-mark.

In 2013, Darvish struck out 277 batters. This was in only 209.2 innings. He’s a bit wild still which leads to a few too many walks which then leads to a few too many pitches thrown.

Darvish’s biggest issue seems to be his control. In some ways it has gotten better. His walks per 9 have gone down each season, however, in only 144.1 innings pitched last year he set a new career high with 14 wild pitches.

When healthy, I strongly believe Darvish is a guy who can challenge for 300 strikeouts in a season. There’s nobody better, not even Clayton Kershaw. You can read more about this elusive number in an article I wrote or Call to the Pen about the likelihood of this happening again. Spoiler alert! – Darvish has come the closest.

By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Yu Darvish") [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as “Yu Darvish”) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Why the pessimism? Why not predict 300?

You don’t know me well enough, apparently.

It has been more than 10 years since anyone has reached 300 strikeouts in a season. Ever since Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, and Pedro Martinez retired so has the frequency of a 300 strikeout season. I don’t include Roger Clemens in this bunch because amazingly he never did reach 300. The point is that it’s a very rare feat to accomplish.

Darvish has had some tough luck in terms of milestones. He has been pitches away from no-hitters on two occasions that I remember. One of baseball’s most dominant pitchers when he’s on, the Baseball Gods are not fans of his.

A 299 strikeout season is still nothing to make fun of, shove in a locker, or whatever it is mean kids do to present day kids more like me. It’s more than anyone has had since 2002. Considering the fact that even Mike Trout appears ready to challenge for 200 strikeouts in a season, Darvish may have the perfect advantage has he challenges for 300 while ultimately coming up short.

Is Andrew McCutchen the Fourth Best Fantasy Baseball Pick?

Two years ago I returned to playing fantasy baseball after a decade hiatus from the sport.

Hey, if NASCAR is a sport so is picking fictional teams from a real one.

I was given the fourth pick in the draft, which I ended up using on Pittsburgh Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. He won the National League MVP that season with some numbers I believe were severely lacking for such an honor.

McCutchen’s 2013 slash was .317/21/85. I don’t doubt he’s a skilled baseball player, but for an MVP who hits third in the order I’d like to at least see 30 home runs or 100 RBIs.

In fantasy baseball terms, McCutchen fails to have those big games. Instead, it seemed like he was picking up 3-4 points on a nightly basis. I came to learn not to expect a big night from him because McCutchen is a guy who plays every game at his best without those from-out-of-nowhere nights where he had 2 home runs and 5 RBIs.

By Mr.schultz (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Mr.schultz (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Depending on how your league scores, the top three picks are probably Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, and Clayton Kershaw–possibly in a different order. Come the fourth pick in the draft, the manager has a difficult decision.

Most mock drafts I have looked at over the last three years seem to have McCutchen or Robinson Cano listed as fourth. Cano’s advantage is that he plays second base and is far and away the best at the position. It’s a lot easier to replace McCutchen with a slightly worse player than it is to do so with Cano at second base because outfield is, was, and always has been a place for offensive players.

Using my ESPN league as the point of reference, McCutchen was ranked 6th in points in 2013 among offensive players. He finished in that same exact spot in 2014. League scoring was changed a bit from 2013 to 2014 as we added a half point for every extra base hit to make offensive players a little stronger compared to the pitchers who seemed to dominate. Considering this, McCutchen should have gone up in points. This was not the case as he actually contributed fewer.

McCutchen is still one of the best players in baseball. Since 2012, he has finished third, first, and third in the NL MVP voting. He’s the reason the Pirates have gotten to the playoffs at all, though, not the only reason.

Picking McCutchen fourth is not a terrible decision. At this point though, his lack of progress makes me think someone is ready to pass him. I see Michael Brantley potentially as the man to do it. There’s also no telling what Jose Abreu will do in his sophomore season.

Still a Top 10 pick in any league, it’s hard to screw up your fourth pick with any of the players mentioned here.

2015 “Homer at the Bat” Lineup

One of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons was the one called “Homer at the Bat.” The episode’s plot was about the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant’s softball team. For the championship game, Mr. Burns brings in some ringers from Major League Baseball to help them win the game. Comedy ensues and we have special guest voices from nine of baseball’s most popular players.

The lineup Mr. Burns put together was in 1992. It included:

By Bryan Horowitz (Flickr: Jose Canseco) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Bryan Horowitz (Flickr: Jose Canseco) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Now 22 years later, I have decided to put together the lineup for the 2015 season.

By EricEnfermero (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By EricEnfermero (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Pitcher and catcher were an easy decision. Kershaw and Posey are the most popular at the position and the best. First base has a lot of options, but Freeman is the best as he’s very good and quite popular.

The rest of the infield is a mix of humility (Altuve), awesomeness (Cabrera), and quirkiness (Reyes). It also gives some Latin flavor which was lacking on the 1992 roster and poorly represented by Canseco.

The outfield was the most difficult to come up with. Gordon makes the roster due to his role with the reigning American League Champion Kansas City Royals, Trout gets the nod because he’s the best in baseball, and Pence makes the roster because he clearly has a good sense of humor.

In the original episode, each player had something catastrophic happen to them before the big game. Based on what I know about them and the citizens of Springfield, these are a few things we could have happen to the new team.

By Keith Allison [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Keith Allison [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Kershaw: A religious man, Kershaw meets Ned Flanders and finds his new calling in life: working at the Leftorium.

Posey: While at the Kwik-E-Mart, Shelbyville resident Scott Cousins collides with Posey and dislocates his shoulder. Dr. Hibbert is unable to fix the problem.

Freeman: Ted Turner has Freeman arrested for bailing on the Atlanta Braves for a job at the Nuclear Power Plant.

Altuve: Principal Skinner mistakes the 5’6 Altuve for one of his students and gives him a month of detention where he has to help Groundskeeper Willie with a meaningless task.

Cabrera: After agreeing to an autograph signing session at Comic Book Guy’s shop, Cabrera is legally obligated to spend the entire week signing baseball after baseball for Comic Book Guy which he immediately puts on eBay.

Reyes: Reyes becomes obsessed with Bumblebee Man’s television show and cannot drag himself away from the television. He also gains a lot of weight in the process and eventually lands a role on the show.

Gordon: Smithers becomes jealous of Mr. Burns’ praise of Gordon’s fielding abilities. Smithers has Fat Tony kidnap Gordon and sell him to the Sea Captain to work on a ship. Don’t cross Smithers!

Trout: Ralph Wiggum meets Trout, and like a tumor, Trout cannot get rid of him. Instead he skips town.

Pence: Pence is the lone player on the team available for the championship, However, after insults from Nelson, Jimbo, and the rest of the bullies, he tears up and misses an important play which Homer later redeems.

Fact: Only 27 Active Pitchers Have More Career Wins than Clayton Kershaw

As if we didn’t already know how awesome Clayton Kershaw was, here’s a fact to prove it further.

Of every active pitcher currently in the MLB, including pitchers like Brett Tomko and Joel Pineiro who haven’t pitched in the majors since 2011, only 27 men have more career wins than Kershaw’s 98.

It’s hard to believe Kershaw has been pitching for 7 seasons already. At only 26-years-old, he has a realistic chance at nearing 300 wins for his career by the time he’s an old man.

By Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Clayton  Kershaw  Uploaded by Muboshgu) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Clayton Kershaw Uploaded by Muboshgu) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Five Statistical Facts about Adam Dunn

Adam Dunn, the man known as “Big Donkey,” retired after the 2014 season. A career best remembered for hitting monstrous home runs and having even stronger strikeouts has come to a close. Dunn was one of those guys who in spite of all of the strikeouts stuck around because of the constant threat of a long ball. Here are five statistical facts about the big left handed slugger.

Power and Run Production Numbers

Dunn finished his career with 462 home runs and 1168 RBIs. Dunn hit 40 or more home runs 6 times in his career including a stretch from 2004-2008 when he reached the plateau each time. Dunn also passed 100 RBIs in a season 6 times and even scored 100 runs three times, falling 1 short in 2006 when he had 99.


We remember Dunn swinging and missing hard plenty, but there were also a lot of times when he was patient enough to draw a walk. Dunn had 100 or more walks 8 times in his career. On the other hand, Dunn also led the league in strikeouts 4 times including the 2012 season when he set a career high with 222 of them. Oddly enough, that was also one of only two seasons where Dunn made the All-Star team.

Mevins31 at the English language Wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Mevins31 at the English language Wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
No Postseason Experience

Nearly a decade with the Cincinnati Reds, several with the Chicago White Sox, and a few shorter stints with other teams and Dunn never had the opportunity to step up to the plate in a postseason game. He came close in 2014 after being traded to the Oakland Athletics however Dunn was unable to get into the one game the A’s played before being eliminated.

Batting Over .250

Dunn finished his career with a .237 batting average. Dunn had seasons with batting averages as high as .267 and as low as .159. In the 14 seasons he played, Dunn only batted over .250 five times. The last time he did it was in 2010 while with the Washington Nationals.

Against Clayton Kershaw

A heavy swinging lefty like Dunn against a dominant south paw like Clayton Kershaw should mean a lot of strikeouts. Yet somehow in 14 plate appearances against Kershaw, Dunn had a .615 batting average which included 4 home runs. Kershaw only managed to strike Dunn out 3 times. It’s almost as if Kershaw thought Dunn was playing for the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs.

Projected Lineup for the 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers as of 12/10/2014

2015 Dodgers Lineup

Above is a look at the potential starting lineup for the 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers. It reminds me a lot of the Los Angeles Angels in that there are some very good hitters followed with a huge drop.

Several glances over, I don’t see an easy championship in the Dodgers’ immediate future based on their offense.

Do you see any noticeable names missing? It took me longer than it should have, but where’s Matt Kemp?

I found this picture posted on Twitter by the MLB Network. At this point they seem to be assuming that Kemp will be dealt and I’m sure the Baltimore Orioles are thrilled about it.

For the record, I’m not a fan of this lineup.

Juan Uribe batting fifth? I’m not a fan of his in general and I certainly don’t think him and his 27 home runs in 4 seasons with the Dodgers is worthy of such a critical run-producing spot in the lineup.

Uribe down I’m not even buying this lineup. Heck, Jimmy Rollins at number one seems foolish at this point. We also don’t know if Joc Pederson will struggle his rookie season and there’s always a chance Yasiel Puig gets himself in some sort of trouble off the field. Take him out of this lineup and suddenly they look extensively weaker.

The Dodgers are already paying their players so much money there’s not much else they can do after adding a big name pitcher.

This lineup as the one projected for 2015, I’m guessing Clayton Kershaw pitches every third day to help out.

Dear Dodgers Fans, Here’s What You Get From Jimmy Rollins

Dear Fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers,

I hope this letter finds you well. Congratulations on a very successful 2014 season. You almost had it until Clayton Kershaw forgot he was Clayton Kershaw.

Apparently you may be getting Jimmy Rollins from the Philadelphia Phillies. I would congratulate you on this, however, as a Phillies fan who watched him from Triple-A up until today I don’t think there’s any celebration to be had.

First, let me say Rollins was once a great player. He won the 2007 MVP after all. Since 2008 though, he’s hitting only .255. If you take away the 2008 season, he’s only hitting .252.

Rdikeman at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Rdikeman at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
You’re getting a quality shortstop in terms of the modern-day man at the position. He fields well, has some pop in his bat, and can still steal bases. There’s those benefits you can look forward to seeing next season–if he doesn’t regress further.

What you won’t get from Rollins is someone who gets on base a ton, stays away from controversy, and most notable of all gives you hustle. Nicknamed J-Roll, Philadelphia fans became familiar with his alter-ego J-Stroll due to his lack of running to first base on every play. We like our hustle.

As a Phillies fan I’m not going to miss Rollins very much. He’s a reminder of how far this team has fallen and a big reason why they aren’t as good as they were for a brief stint from 2007-2010. Rollins simply wore out his welcome in Philadelphia. On a team like yours, he may be a much bigger contributor.

One thing to look out for with Rollins is his acceptance to bat at the bottom of the lineup. You already have Dee Gordon as your leadoff hitter. Rollins would be happy batting second for you, but this may not be such a good idea as he failed to even hit .250 last season. You want to win, right? Rollins may have to accept batting seventh or eighth and getting him to do so is easier said than done.

Rollins is not a Hall of Famer. At this point, he’s also not a very good baseball player.

You are getting something though. You are getting a veteran with experience. You are getting a guy that when motivated can come up with some big hits. I’m sure you remember this moment.

Rollins was the face of the Phillies for a decade and a half. For you, Dodgers fans, he will only be a small piece to what for your sake is hopefully a championship team.

That said, losing Rollins to you makes me resent seeing you win. I’ll be taking the low road and root for you to lose. Let’s go Rockies!

On behalf of Phillies fans everywhere, please take care of him. We’re going to need him for nostalgic reasons in 2018.

Kindest Regards,


Five Statistical Facts about Hunter Pence

A ballplayer with the nickname “Captain Underpants” has to be an eccentric character. Indeed, Hunter Pence is. He’s as unconventional of an athlete as you will see and yet very successful at it. He has also become a leader for the San Francisco Giants. For all he is doing in the locker room, he’s doing plenty good on the field too. Here are five statistical facts about the man who 94 WIP host Anthony Gargano referred to as the “headless horseman” based on how he tracks a fly ball. He couldn’t have been more correct.

The Ultimate Robin

One thing some sports talk hosts like to do is determine whether a player is a Batman or a Robin. Batmans are players who are the number one guy. Robins are the supporting cast, usually very good, but never quite the best. For me, Pence is the ultimate Robin. He has only ever knocked in 100 runs once and has never reached 30 home runs. Pence is the perfect guy for a lineup with an already established star. Thankfully the Giants have Buster Posey in a Batman uniform.

True Every Day Player

For the past two seasons Pence has played in all 162 games for the Giants. The year previous in 2012, Pence still played in 160 games split between them and the Philadelphia Phillies. Throughout his career Pence has been a guy ready and able to get into the lineup every single day. Since becoming a starter, Pence’s lowest games in a season was 154 back in 2011. If I remember correctly, the Phillies sat most of their players in the last week too which lowered his total of games.

By Mr.schultz (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Mr.schultz (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Where Should He Hit in the Lineup?

The Giants used Pence as a leadoff hitter a lot in 2014, something I disagree with strongly. Batting leadoff, Pence is a career .269 hitter. Batting third in the lineup, a spot he fits in perfectly, Pence has his best average at .301. The way the Giants’ lineup is set, Pence could comfortably hit anywhere from third to fifth. It really depends on where Posey is and if they want to look deep into match-ups or who’s hot.

Equally Good against Lefties and Righties

Pence can handle right handed pitchers just as well as he can left handed ones. Pence has a career .283 average against fellow right handers and a .288 average against left handed ones. Due to the higher number of at-bats against righties because there are more of them, thank you very much Catholic schooling, it’s difficult to compare the rest of the numbers.

A Good Time for a Day Off: Clayton Kershaw on the Mound

It should never be a surprise when Clayton Kershaw has good numbers against a hitter. For Pence, facing Kershaw has been a nightmare. In 53 plate appearances, Pence has struck out 13 times and only gotten 4 hits for a .075 batting average. Kershaw has also never walked Pence which means he knows how well he has done against him.