Daily Archives: June 6, 2016
The week in review: The Milwaukee Brewers finished out their three game series with St. Louis by losing 10-3 last Tuesday and winning 3-1 to kick off June. They split a four game weekend series with Philadelphia with 4-1 and 6-3 wins and 6-3 and 8-1 losses.
We’ve seen this movie before – it’s an even year and the San Francisco Giants are one of baseball’s best teams. Should we just hand over another World Series trophy to them and get it over with?
There are quite a few teams out there begging to differ – mainly in Chicago, Texas and New York, among others – but it’s hard to ignore the even-year trend going on in the Bay area. Whether the organization puts any stock into it or not, nobody can deny they’ve come out swinging since the end of last year.
Not only have they locked up homegrown players like Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt to affordable long-term deals, they bolstered big needs in the outfield with Denard Span and the front of the rotation by flanking Madison Bumgarner with Johnny Cuetoand Jeff Samardzija.
As well as the Giants have played through the first two months, things are about to get more difficult. Like most contending teams, there are concerns about specific parts of the roster. With outfielder Hunter Pence anticipated to miss at least two months with a hamstring tear, those concerns are only amplified.
The Giants were uncharacteristically one of the top spenders this past winter by committing nearly $300 million to Cueto, Samardzija and Span, but it probably won’t be enough. There doesn’t appear to be a lot of opportunity in the trade market this summer, but if they want a chance at continuing that even-year trend, they’ll have to once again make big splashes.
The Los Angeles Dodgers designated Carl Crawford for assignment yesterday, agreeing to pay the more than $30 million left on his original $144 million contract in exchange for him to not take up a spot on their 25 man roster. It’s the end of a really, really long fall for a guy who was once one of baseball’s most exciting young players.
When he signed with the Boston Red Sox in 2011, he was coming off a 7.7 WAR season with the Rays, one in which he posted a .310 average and 47 steals to go with 19 homers, 90 RBI and 110 runs scored. He finished 7th in the MVP race that year and was a bonafide star. When he left Tampa, his career WAR total was 36.8 through the first 9 years of his career. In the 6 seasons since then, he’s put up 5.3.
This season, before being cut by the Dodgers, his team since he was traded to LA before the 2013 season, Carl was batting just .185 with no homers and no steals and a -.8 WAR. Where he once was a star, he is now a below replacement level player.
What accounts for such a precipitous decline from a guy who’s still just 34 years old, a 4 time league leader in triples and 4 time league leader in steals? Well, this quote from an April profile in the LA Times says a lot:
“I played real aggressively on turf for nine years,” he said. “I’m lucky I’m still walking the way I’m walking now. I’m still walking, at least.”
Crawford seems to think the turf in Tropicana Field in Tampa took a lot off of his knees. It’s a theory that makes a lot of sense and I would say is very likely true. That sucks. Crawford was an amazing player to watch and it has been really sad watching him struggle through injuries and age these last few seasons. Since leaving Tampa, Carl has almost felt like a fish out of water, struggling to get by in what is clearly not his element.
That’s why I thought Tampa might be a likely destination for him now that he’s out of Los Angeles. With the Dodgers paying his salary, Crawford is a low risk, high upside veteran for a team in need of an offensive spark. Tampa, which is looking to contend in an AL East against much better funded competition, is always looking for such an edge. If Crawford doesn’t want to play on the turf again though, that pretty much puts an end to that.
So, if not Tampa, and not Boston again or LA, where is the next stage of Carl Crawford‘s career going to take him?
Please check out the full Off the Bench site to continue reading about the top 5 places that Carl Crawford might land next. You can also read our mostly baseball blog or follow us on the Twitter @OTB_Baseball.
Let’s start with the wonderful ESPN Home Run Tracker. The website breaks down every home run into 4 categories- No Doubter’s, Plenty’s, Just Enough’s and Lucky – for each player as well as a calculation of the number of ballparks out of 30 that a batted ball would become a home run when normalized to calm conditions (70 degrees and no wind). ‘0’ means that the park the ball was hit in was the only one it would have made it out of, ’30’ means it would be a dinger anywhere. In 2011, the average jack cleared the walls in 23 of 30 stadiums.
After playing around with the site for a while, I decided to take a look at the impact that ball parks have on Just Enough or Lucky home runs. Is a player more likely to have a Just Enough homer when playing in certain parks? Would that homer be a no doubter elsewhere or just a fly out?
If a JE/L home run occurred in conjunction with an above average to high park number (23-30, meaning that the homer in question would be gone in 23-30 of the other MLB stadiums), I would deem the park in which it was hit to have a detrimental impact on the hit- the park configuration and the location of the hit ball in that particular setting effectively makes a ball that would normally be a home run anywhere else a very close call. The opposite holds true if JE/L homers have a below average to low park number (0-23). This means that the home-field advantage perhaps aided the batter, as it would otherwise not have the distance or height in other parks. And again the park number controls for weather effects too, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.
Click over to our full article, to continue reading about Mookie Betts and Robinson Cano Lucky or Unlucky Home Runs. You can also visit our full baseball blog, or follow us on Twitter: @OTB_Baseball.