Braves Eliminated/Fire GM

Atlanta Braves FustratedFrank Wren

After yesterdays loss to the New York Mets the Atlanta Braves have been statistically eliminated from being able to make the playoffs this year. The team reacted to this today when they fired seven year GM Frank Wren less than 24 hours after the end of the game. Frank Wren was appointed the GM job back in 2007 and many speculate that the signing of Dan Uggla(5 yr $62 million), Derek Lowe(4 yr $60 million), and B.J. Upton(5 yr $75 million) were big reasons that the team took action. The team was successful overall under Wren’s administration having a record of 688-601 and was credited from drafting such talent as Jason Heyward, Alex Wood, Tony La Stella, Mike Minor, Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Lucas Sims and Juilo Tehran. However the team struggled in that time to make the playoffs and the team struggled to generate consistent offense. Injuries have also plagued the team through the years and affected the team’s performance.

The 2014 Braves started had many issues from the start of the season due to injuries. The team struggled to consistently generate offense, a common problem in the Wren era, and the pitching was decimated by injuries to Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor and Jonny Venters. Luckily for the Braves many of the pitchers stepped up and filled in for the injured pitchers with pitchers Julio Tehran and Alex Wood having very successful seasons and free agent signing Aaron Harang being a nice inning eater for the team. They had a respectable 8.01 K/9 and BB/9 of 2.91 is high but its not one of the worst in baseball. They limited teams to a .245 Avg and had a team BABIP of .299, both of which are league average.

The offense was the main weakness of the team with a below average slash line of .242/.306/.361 and a very low team ISO of .119. The team had an average BB% of 7.8% but an above average K% of 22.4%, again an issue for the team during the Wren era was the team’s tendency to strike out a lot. The Braves overall only had a team wOBA, a measure of the teams overall offensive capabilities, of only .299 when the league average sits closer to .330.

For more up to date baseball info you can follow me on twitter at @Jbiesiada

Prospect Update: Addison Russell

Addison Russell

Addison Russell was considered to be one of the top prospects in all of the majors when he was traded to the Chicago Cubs where he planted himself on top of the teams prospect list. Considering the wealth of talent in the Cubs system it is not small feat to crack the top 5 of that team. Today we take a look at what he has done this year and see if he still deserves to hold the “top prospect” monogram for next season.

Addison Russell

Cubs 4.4% 17.2% 204 .295 .333 .539 .872 .224 .308 .390 143
A’s 14.0% 14.0% 57 .333 .439 .500 .939 .167 .385 .429 173


Russell is currently on the Cubs AA team and while he did play a few games in the A’s single A system but we’re just going to focus on the AA stats where he spent the bulk of his time. From the start we can see the power of Russell in full effect having an ISO of .224 in the Cubs system totaling 22 XBH’s for the team. Most scouts rave about the raw power that he has and could translate to a 20 HR player in the majors. He also has impressive speed that could allow him to turn a single into a double if the outfield is sleeping. Russell may be fast but he’s not a base stealer only totaling 5 stolen bases and being caught 4 times. This doesn’t mean he couldn’t learn to steal bases efficiently since the speed is there but the numbers suggest a lack of skill reading pitchers. A skill not easily learned but a teachable skill nonetheless.

The higher strikeout rate and lower walk rate seems to be an abnormal thing for Russell. His career average seems to indicate that he is more of an 11% walker type and maybe a 15% strikeout player. This was probably just on off year but considering the amount of contact he made this season it seems like it balanced out. Looking at the numbers Russell looks like he could be a .270/.330/.410 player in the majors. Look for him to come up sometime next season.


For more up to date baseball info you can follow me on Twitter at @Jbiesiada

Dellin Betances Surpasses Rivera


New York Yankee’s relief pitcher Dellin Betances has made a very strong name for himself during his rookie year. Beyond just being the most effective relief pitcher in the Yankees bullpen he has now broken a record that has stood since 1996. Betances logged his 132nd strikout of the season on Tuesday’s win against the Tampa Bay Rays surpassing Mariano Rivera’s record for strikeouts in a season by a Yankees relief pitcher.

Betances has had a very successful rookie campaign this year and has made many who doubted him as a prospect change their minds again. Betances was actually a starting pitching prospect for the team but never found his way as a starter having trouble with location over a 7-9 inning outing. As a reliver this year Betances has struck out 40% of the batters faced this year with a BB/9 of only 2.46. Betances seems to have found his success combining his very fastball that averages 96 MPH with a knuckle-curve, which has see great success this year. Betances has been able to keep the ball low and has a ground-ball rate of 47.6% and a low fly-ball rate of 33.7%. Overall Betances could be something special as a relief pitcher and we’ll have to wait and see how the Yankees plan on utilizing him.

Dellin Betances

2014 13.55 2.46 0.41 .139 0.75 .229 1.33 34 1.66 43 3.1
2013 18.00 3.60 1.80 .375 2.20 .615 10.80 263 2.85 70 0.1
Career 13.59 3.02 0.47 .155 0.88 .253 1.98 49 1.94 49 3.1

Angels Clinch

Angels Clinch

After last night’s victory against the Seattle Mariners the Los Angeles Angels have not only clinched a playoff birth, which they had already done, they clinched the division championship. The Angels now start to work for home field advantage in the playoffs leading the Baltimore Orioles, who have also clinched their division last night, by 3 games. This is the first divisional championship for the team since 2009 and the team is one of the favorites to win it all at this point.

When the season began the team was thought to be a contender but after a disappointing 2013 season the team really bounced back. The main weakness of the team was its pitching and for the first few months it didn’t seem that would change but some creative trades and a bit of luck helped stabilized a flawed staff. The Angels sit on top in all of baseball in WAR at 30.0 just ahead of the Dodgers (28.8) and the Orioles (28). As for the team’s pitching rank middle of the pack at a WAR of 14.3 just ahead of divisional rivals Oakland A’s at 13.9.

The Angels are not a walking team only having a team BB% of 7.9% and having a K% of 19.8%. Luckily for the team this actually puts them in the middle of the pack with the rest of the league and in fact the K% puts the Angels as the 12th best team in the stat in all of the majors. The Angels have a very impressive team slash line of .262/.326/.410 and a team ISO of .148 which is the 6th best in the majors overall. The team does have a weak area when it comes to speed having a wSB of -3.7 and if you look at the team there isn’t much reason to expect this to change unless Trout is given a green light more often.

As I stated before the team’s pitching is just average overall but has gotten far better with the acquisition of pitchers Jason Grilli and Huston Street. As for the team as a whole they rank as the 5th best team in K/9 at 8.21 just behind the Dodgers at 8.33; the team does however rank as the 20th best in BB/9 in baseball at 3.05. This could be an issue in the playoffs but we’ll have to see. Instead of focusing on ERA we’ll look at the team’s FIP as a measurement and luckily for them the teams FIP is the 11th best in baseball. The teams 3.56 FIP is very impressive and speaks to a strong defense as well as staff, which the team can defiantly exploit during the playoffs.

Overall the Angels could very well be the best team in the majors at this point and very few would doubt that statement. As for the playoffs the team is build very well for a playoff run having very strong back end bullpen help and strong starters. While the lose of Garrett Richards is going to hurt the team it has survived without him and in fact seems to have made his name as a rallying cry. If all goes as planned they could end up this year’s world champs.


Angels 7.9% 19.8% .262 .326 .410 .736 .148 .308 .324 112 30



Angels 8.25 3.05 0.77 .232 1.21 .284 3.54 98 3.56 99 14.9


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Are the A’s a Playoff Team?

Oakland A's

When the season began the general consensus was that the Oakland A’s were the favorite to win the AL West. The team won it last year after a tragic collapse by the Texas Rangers, who later was knocked out of the playoffs in the wildcard game, and this year the A’s looked just as strong. The team didn’t disappoint in the first half having some of the best stats in the league offensively and pitching. The second half though has been a different story all together. So lets take a look at see what the major changes have been for the A’s from the first to second half of the season and see if they really are a playoff team anymore.

First Half: Batting

A’s 9.6% 17.9% .251 .328 .400 .729 .149 .286 .323 109 17.1
AL 7.8% 20.3% .252 .316 .391 .707 .139 .299 .313 97 11.9


The one thing this offense did very well was the ability to take a walk and limit the number of strikeouts they had. Having a BB% just under 2% higher than the league obviously shows this and it would also accounts for the above average OBP for a team.  The team only swung at 27.1% of pitches outside the zone in the first half, a very impressively low number. Even more impressive is the team was able to make contact with those same pitches 68.8% of the time. Almost 70% of the time the team was able to make contact outside the zone allowing them to prolong at-bats and draw more pitches.

The team was also a fairly solid power team having a strong ISO and SLG. The A’s were hitting a XBH roughly every 13.4 plate appearances while the rest of baseball was getting one roughly 14 PA’s so the A’s did slightly better than the rest of the MLB. Dissecting this further we see the A’s hit a double every 23.3 PA and a HR every 38. The A’s had a grand total of 160 doubles and 98 HR’s during the first half of the season which is strong total for a team that plays in a very pitcher oriented field. The stadium is well known for having a spacious OF and that makes gap hitters more effective than pure power hitters since it takes more effort to hit a HR.

The team had a very strong first half offensively but there is one area that raises an eyebrow and that’s the team’s BABIP. For a team that was hitting so well it’s a little odd to see a BABIP below the league average when everything else was above. There could be a few different reasons for the lower BABIP like the team just getting unlucky, after all BABIP is the “luck” stat. It could also be that the team actually wasn’t hitting as well as we thought they were and the success was coming from walks and timely XBH which we already seen was a plus area for the team. All of these could be a reason for the drop but nothing is guaranteed and it may become more clear when we take a look at the second half stats.


A’s 7.54 2.66 0.83 .229 1.16 .271 3.09 3.63 83 98 10.4
AL 7.72 2.92 0.88 .247 1.28 .295 3.76 3.76 100 100 8.6


The A’s have always been known for their pitching, even as a kid growing up I knew the A’s were the pitching team, and in the first half the team didn’t disappoint. The most impressive thing to note is the low batting average against the team’s pitching. .229 is one of the lower totals in the league, if not the lowest, but it also shows the teams defense was able to back up the pitching’s since as we can see they’re not a major strikeout team. While only slightly below league average the team still has a strong K/9 and a very strong BB/9 kept runners off the base path.

Once again we see a red flag in a very similar stat to the one problem area we discussed in the teams hitting. FIP basically asks if the defense was at league average what the ERA would be and according to the numbers the team would be very average. I mentioned that FIP is similar to BABIP but that’s not 100% accurate since FIP takes into account things that the pitcher has direct control over and having a big difference between ERA and FIP can mean more than a difference between AVG and BABIP. A 60-point difference may not seem like much and you do expect to see a higher FIP than ERA but you don’t tend to see a difference larger than 30 points on average this means the team may be getting luckier than other teams.

So that is the A’s in the first half of the season and in the end they were very strong overall. There were some red flags but nothing to serious at the time. So know we look at how the team has fared in the second half of the season and see if those same trends we saw in the first half continue.

Second Half: Batting

A’s 8.6% 17.6% .235 .304 .360 .665 .125 .268 .296 90 5.5
AL 7.3% 19.8% .250 .310 .383 .694 .133 .294 .307 95 5.7


The team is not fairing very well in the second half of the season offensively and much like I said in the first half the key stat to notice is the BABIP. The team’s BABIP has dropped a good 20 points from the first half and as we see in the numbers so as every other stat. The team is still not striking out much, a very good thing for the team, but they’re taking less walks and that has lowered the team OBP. As I stated before there could be a correlation between the high OBP and SLG combined with the low BABIP that showed how the team was succeeding thus far but when the runners aren’t getting on base as much and the power gets sapped the team struggles. Granted this is true with every team out there but we saw that the A’s really relied on getting guys on base to do any sort of damage.

There’s a few ways to look at this and the first is if the players aren’t getting on base and the power hitters aren’t coming up with runners in scoring position. The team currently is leaving 3.45 runners in scoring position per game putting them at 15th overall in baseball but in the last 3 games it’s sitting at 4.33 runners. A small sample size yes but it does show the team is struggling in that area overall. wRC+ also shows how the team is struggling overall putting them 10% worse in overall offense than league average (in wRC+ 100 is considered league average).

As I’ve said the power is down but lets take a look on how much it’s changed in rates. Before we said the team was hitting an XBH every 13.4 PA in the first half; in the second half the team is 14.2 so not much change overall. Doubles has risen to every 25.3 PA and HR’s have gone up from every 38 PA to one every 46.9 PA. Having a difference of 1 won’t hurt the team’s double production but an increase of almost 10 PA’s is defiantly going to affect their power numbers.


A’s 7.59 2.54 1.09 .228 1.14 .263 3.49 93 3.95 107 4.1
AL 7.67 2.74 0.85 .245 1.25 .292 3.66 95 3.68 96 6.5


At first glance the team seems to be almost identical stats from the first half to the second. Same K/9 and an even better BB/9, not a lot but an improvement, and are limiting hits show by the low BAA and WHIP. So why did the ERA balloon over 40 points from first to second half? Well the first thing we notice is the increased HR/9 rate of 1.09 as compared to the first half’s 0.83. The rate of fly balls from first to second half really hasn’t changed and for that matter neither has ground ball rates and line drive rates so that doesn’t tell us what’s changed. What it might come down to the new pitchers pitching in an unfamiliar park and giving up more fly balls than normal or it could just be bad luck. Whatever the case the team is giving up more HR’s and that’s a problem area.

This information is all well and good and really does show you how bad the team has struggled so far but we never answered the question on what changed in the pitching to cause the team to take such a down turn. Well looking at the numbers there are a few contributing factors and these lie with individual players. Brandon Moss has really struggled during the second half of the season going from a .268/.349/.530 slash line in the first half to a .178/.300/.263 in the second. Considering Moss was one of the more productive hitters on the team this is a blow. There are other factors but lets touch on 2 that I feel were the nail in the coffin for the A’s and their world series hopes and luckily they’re one in the same, Yoenis Cespedes and his defense.

The A’s defense has actually taken a little bit of a down turn since the trade was made and losing Cespedes 12 OF Assists was one reason. The teams defense overall has fallen off as of late currently having a fielding percentage of .984 to the AL’s .985, the A’s used to be near .990. Losing Cespedes in LF was one blow since Fauld and Gomes are nowhere near as good defensively as Cespedes is but the loss of his bat perfectly coincides with the teams batting woes. This could be a coincidence but the numbers don’t lie and the evidence is there. Overall the A’s aren’t the same team we saw in the first half and at this point it doesn’t seem likely that they will go very far in the playoffs even if they can hold off the Mariners long enough.

Rays Shut Down Smyly

Drew Smyly

Tampa Bay Rays shut down newly acquired Drew Smyly down for the year. Smyly has been phenomenal since being traded to the Rays from the Detroit Tigers with a 3-1 record and an ERA of 1.70. Smyly was sent to the Rays from the Tigers in the 3-team trade that sent David Price to the Tigers.

Smyly was one of the top prospects for the Tigers back in 2012 and made a splash in the majors pitching in relief for the Tigers in 2013. This year the Tigers tried him as a starter like he was in the minors to mixed success. Having a strong K/9 at 7.82 and a strong BB/9 at 2.47 was a good sign for Smyly moving forward even with the struggles in the beginning of the season. The one area that he did struggle is keeping the ball out of the air. Smyly had a 43.4% fly ball rate this year compared to his 2013 season’s 38.8% and a raise in HR/FB rate followed the raise. He ends the season with some solid numbers even though he only had a 9-10 record and considering the Rays seems to have found a flaw or two in Smyly’s delivery this could be the start of a very good young pitchers career.

Drew Smyly

2014 7.82 2.47 1.06 2.37 1.16 .278 3.24 83 3.75 98
2013 9.59 2.01 0.47 .218 1.04 .290 2.37 58 2.31 57
Career 8.44 2.52 0.93 .234 1.17 .286 3.26 81 3.44 86


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Mets Shut Down Wright

David Wright

New York Met David Wright has been shut down for the season and has begun a shoulder regiment to strengthen his shoulder. The hope is that this workout will help Wright strengthen the inflamed shoulder and will allow Wright to avoid potential surgery.

“I don’t know [how much the shoulder impacted the numbers],” Wright said. “As I’ve said all along, I’m not one to make excuses. This season has left a sour taste in my mouth. I’m confident that after getting healthy, I’ll return to doing what I’m capable of.”


This news puts an end to the 11-year veterans worse seasons to date. A decrease in BB% and a increase in his K% from last season are just some of the issues Wright dealt with this year. The oddity with Wright is that his swing rates are all at career levels and his contact is still about what you would expect from Wright. Even the type of contact Wright is making is about career level except for his HR/FB plummeted to 5.1% this year instead of his career 13.0%. With injuries likely playing a part in these struggles there is one other thing that can lead to this outcome, his age. At 31 Wright is exiting what is considered the “prime years” of his career and maybe he’s losing some bat speed here and there. The power drop could also be a consequence of lowered bat speed but that is just a theory. Overall why Wright is struggling is a little mystery but next year, if healthy, he should do better but don’t expect prime time Wright back anytime soon.

David Wright

2014 7.2% 19.3% .269 .324 .374 .698 .105 .325 .308 99 2.0
2013 11.2% 16.1% .307 .390 .514 .904 .207 .340 .391 156 6.0
Career 10.9% 18.4% .298 .377 .494 .871 .196 .339 .375 134 52.1


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Hardy Getting Back Checked


Baltimore Orioles SS J.J. Hardy is heading back to Balitmore to get his back examined. Hardy has been on the bench for the past 3 games with back spasms and the team has decided to have an MRI run on him. Hardy did take groundballs and took some swings but was deemed unable to play in yesterday’s game against the Boston Red Sox. Hardy will fly back for the test and the odds are that he’ll also receive a cortisone shot in his back.

Hardy has been a very strong player for the Orioles this season even if he hasn’t played very “Hardy” like. The one asset that set him apart from other shortstops has always been his power with a career .162 ISO and a SLG of .424 shows. This year however his power seems to have dropped quite a bit with only 9 HR’s and a ISO of .110. This has come at the upgrade in both AVG and OBP which may have been a better trade off for the team overall. Hardy, a career .262 hitter, is currently batting .281/.320/.392 and this is the highest in both AVG an OBP since 2008 where he batted .283/.343/.478. The reason for the power reduction but growth in the other stats isn’t really clear in the numbers. The only noticeable change is a dramatic increase in BABIP. Maybe a shift in focus or the team saying they needed him to try and hit for more of an OBP than power or maybe just plain luck. Whatever the case the team hopes for a speedy recovery since they’ll need his bat in the lineup come playoff time.

J.J. Hardy

2014 5.0% 18.4% .281 .320 .392 .711 .110 .332 .315 98 3.6
2013 5.9% 11.3% .263 .306 .433 .738 .170 .263 .322 99 3.4
Career 6.8% 14.6% .262 .313 .424 .737 .162 .279 .321 96 27.9

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Rangers Shut Down Darvish

Yu Darvish

The Texas Rangers have shut down ace Yu Darvish for the rest of the season. Darvish has been on the 15-day DL since August 9th for a right elbow inflammation. General Manager Jon Daniels said that the team didn’t see any reason to risk Darvish at this point. “That would be silly on our part,” Daniels said when asked about Darvish returning from the DL and pitching with 3 weeks left, “There’s just not much to be gained at this point.” Darvish has made it clear he’s upset with the decision but also understands and agrees with the team’s position.

I think we’ve all made the right decision in shutting it down,” he said. “Even if I wanted, the medical staff are experts in what they do, so I have to go by what they say. I’m glad that we were able to detect this at the early stage.”


Darvish was one of the few good things going for the Rangers this season and he was finding success even with a team behind him that couldn’t stay healthy. His main struggles could have been due to his team more than Darvish himself which we can see when we look at Darvish’s FIP at 2.83 and his ERA is at 3.06. 3.06 is a solid ERA to begin with but it also shows that the defense behind the Darvish wasn’t entirely solid and could have lead to more runs scoring than should have. Another clue is the fact that Darvish’s BABIP jumped from .264 last year to a startling .344 this season and given the known struggles of the team it makes sense that more hits would sneak through. Darvish did get hit a little harder this season from last year having a slight raise in LD% and FB% but nothing that would could lead to trouble unless these trends continue. Darvish made 32 appearances last season meaning he’ll fall 10 short of that total this year but if we were to assume Darvish could go the extra 10 games he’d end the season with a very impressive 265 and only 12 shy of last seasons 277 total. Darvish should be fine for next year and the Rangers along with him but this year is done for him.

Yu Darvish

2014 11.35 3.06 0.81 .240 1.26 .334 3.06 75 2.85 70 4.2
2013 11.89 3.43 1.12 .193 1.07 .264 2.83 67 3.28 78 5.0
Career 11.22 3.60 0.87 .214 1.20 .295 3.27 77 3.16 75 14.1


For more up to date baseball news you can follow me on twitter at @Jbiesiada

Nationals Go to Closer by Committee

Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals

The on going struggles of closer Rafael Soriano has made the manager of the Washington Nationals switch to a closer by committee style bullpen. Manager Matt Williams had this to say about Soriano,

“His fastball velocity is good, the command isn’t quite where he wants it, certainly,” Williams said. “The slider, the depth of his breaking pitch, is not there right now.”


He went on to say

“We have to figure out why he’s missing location with the fastball, why his slider depth is not what he wants,” Williams said. “For the next couple of days we’ll let him ease his mind a little, work on it, do some video and get back to where he has been.”


The team will most likely use Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen along with Soriano to close games from this point forward.

Soriano has struggles seem to have been a very recent development considering he had a very strong 0.97 ERA before the break and currently has a 3.09 ERA for the season. We can see a rather sharp increase in LD% from first half to second half of the season. Soriano was only giving up a line drive about 15% of the time and in the second it jumps 5% to 20.3% of the time. In line with the LD% raise he has been giving up less ground balls and fly balls as well. While the FB% went down 5% the HR/FB rate skyrockets from a respectable 2% all the way to 10%. As a closer that’s something you don’t want to see. The other noticeable change is Soriano’s increased BB/9. It’s not a terrible raise but any raise in more batters on base combined with the high HR/9 can really hurt the team.

Rafael Soriano

1st Half 8.76 2.68 0.24 .153 0.81 .207 0.97 2.42 .208 3.59
2nd Half 8.84 3.26 1.40 .321 1.76 .387 6.98 4.57 .399 4.50


For more up to date baseball info you can follow me on Twitter at @Jbiesiada


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