Tag Archives: Blake Snell

MLB Power Rankings: Dodgers back on top to open August

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The Philadelphia Phillies are as high as they have been all season in the latest 2019 MLB Power Rankings. As the month of August opens, that still only leaves them at 14th overall in Major League Baseball.

However, while they rank as middle-of-the-pack in all of baseball, they are the sixth-highest ranked ball club in the National League. That means they statistically come out right about where they are in the standings, as a legitimate NL Wildcard contender.
In taking a look at the landscape of contenders over the final eight weeks of the regular season, the Phillies are likely going to have to beat out the division-rival Washington Nationals and whichever team finishes as runners-up in the NL Central Division, the Chicago Cubs or Saint Louis Cardinals.
The Nationals made a series of moves to shore up their one glaring weakness – the bullpen – at yesterday’s MLB trade deadline. The Cubs added a big bat in Nicholas Castellanos.
In looking ahead at the schedule, the Phillies have just four games left head-to-head with the Nationals. Those will take place in Washington at the end of September in the club’s final road series of the year. Having met 14 times already, the Nationals have taken nine games from the Phillies, who would need a sweep of that final series to gain a 9-9 split.
The Cubs will come to Citizens Bank Park for three games in the middle of August. The Phillies and Cubs have already split four games at 2-2 this season. The Phillies are done with the Cardinals, having won four of six games between the two teams.
My own personal feelings never have anything to do with the MLB Power Rankings published here at Phillies Nation. Instead, the rank is all about actual team performance: results in the standings and statistical breakdowns.
I take what I have found to be key statistical categories and rank each of the 30 teams in Major League baseball on their ability to win ball games and perform on offense, the pitching mound, and in the field. There is never any subjectivity on my part.

The MLB Power Rankings are updated here at Phillies Nation on roughly the 1st and 15th of the month for the remainder of the regular season using the following methodology.

RANKINGS METHODOLOGY

Introduced and then upgraded during the course of last season, my formula for compiling the rankings is always being researched to see if it can be improved upon.
That formula carried two categories over from the 2018 season: winning percentage and OPS against. The first is simple, reflecting each team’s ability to actually win ball games. The second reflects a pitching staff’s ability to control the game and limit damage.
As of my first ranking for the 2019 season, runs-per-game replaced last year’s “runs scored” in order to get the offensive component. This was an acknowledgement of the fact that teams play various numbers of games as of the time of each ranking. For example, it wouldn’t be fair to consider a club that had scored 100 runs over 50 games as effective as a club who scored 100 runs over just 45 games.
Also this summer, the defensive component was changed. The defensive metric beginning with the July 15 rankings was switched to “Defensive runs saved” as measured at Fangraphs, replacing the previous “fielding percentage” to gauge a team’s defensive effectiveness.
I then assign each of those four component category team rankings a 1-30 numerical value, and simply add those values up to determine an overall final ratings score. Where there is a tie, it is broken by win-loss percentage since, in the end, winning is what it’s all about.

2019 AUGUST 1 –  MLB RANKINGS

Returning to the top of the rankings for the first time since June 1 are the Los Angeles Dodgers. The National League’s top ball club in each of the previous 2019 Power Rankings, the Dodgers are one of just two teams ranked among the top three each time around this season.
Coming in as the August 1 runners-up and the top team in the American League are the previous rankings leaders, the Minnesota Twins. They are the other team to finish among the top three in each of the prior MLB Power Rankings this season.
The Cleveland Indians were the hot risers in the last rankings, and they remain scorching as August opens. But hotter than the summer sun during the month of July were the San Francisco Giants. At 11 games under .500 when the month began and ranked next-to-last back on June 1, the Giants have vaulted into the top 20 and NL Wildcard contention.
An enigmatic team would be the Arizona Diamondbacks. For the fifth consecutive period, the formula pushes the Dbacks out as a top 10 ball club. Yet Arizona has fallen below .500 in the standings at this point, sitting four games back in the loss column in the NL Wildcard race.
In parentheses are each team’s position in the June 1, June 15 , July 1 and July 15 rankings, shown in that order from left to right.
  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (1-3-2-2)
  2. Minnesota Twins (2-2-3-1)
  3. Houston Astros (3-1-1-5)
  4. Oakland Athletics (8-12-5-3)
  5. Tampa Bay Rays (4-4-4-4)
  6. Cleveland Indians (18-18-15-10)
  7. Arizona Diamondbacks (9-5-6-9)
  8. Boston Red Sox (6-6-10-8)
  9. Chicago Cubs (10-13-11-7)
  10. New York Yankees (5-8-9-6)
  11. Los Angeles Angels (19-17-19-11)
  12. Atlanta Braves (12-9-7-12)
  13. Washington Nationals (24-19-13-13)
  14. Philadelphia Phillies (15-14-18-16)
  15. Saint Louis Cardinals (14-15-14-14)
  16. Milwaukee Brewers (7-10-16-19)
  17. Cincinnati Reds (13-16-17-18)
  18. San Francisco Giants (29-27-25-21)
  19. Texas Rangers (16-11-8-15)
  20. San Diego Padres (17-20-20-17)
  21. Colorado Rockies (11-7-12-20)
  22. Kansas City Royals (21-21-22-22)
  23. Miami Marlins (23-26-21-23)
  24. New York Mets (22-23-24-25)
  25. Pittsburgh Pirates (20-25-23-24)
  26. Seattle Mariners (26-22-27-26)
  27. Toronto Blue Jays (28-28-26-28)
  28. Chicago White Sox (25-24-28-27)
  29. Baltimore Orioles (30-30-30-30)
  30. Detroit Tigers (27-29-29-29)

SPOTLIGHT TEAM: TAMPA BAY RAYS

Previous spotlight teams: Minnesota (6/1), Atlanta (6/15), Texas (7/1), Oakland (7/15)
It’s fair to ask, how are these guys doing it? The Rays are 14 games over the .500 mark while playing in a division with the behemoth Yankees and defending world champion Red Sox. They are tied with Oakland for the second AL Wildcard, two games up on those Bosox and four clear of both the Angels and Rangers.
Kevin Cash is now in his fifth season at the helm in Tampa. After three losing campaigns, he guided the Rays to a 90-win season a year ago. That was the sixth-best record in the AL, but still seven games back of Oakland for a Wildcard playoff spot.
The Rays get by with no one superstar. But they have nine batters who are in double-digits for home runs. 24-year-old, second year outfielder Austin Meadows is a potential star. Splitting his time between DH and the corner outfield spots, he has 16 homers, 40 extra-base hits, and 51 RBIs.
On the mound, Tampa has somehow survived to this point despite losing their two most talented starting pitchers. 25-year-old Tyler Glasnow has been on the IL since May with a strained right forearm. A recent MRI came back clean, but he is not likely to see a big-league mound again until September, if then.
26-year-old southpaw Blake Snell was the 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner. But after he struggled over 20 starts this season it was found that he had ‘loose bodies’ in his pitching elbow, requiring surgery. The surgery was successful, and the Rays hope to get him back for the final few weeks of the season.
It is questionable how long Tampa can stay in the race without those two big horses on the mound every four-to-five days. But if they can, and those two can return healthy in September, you would be foolish to count the Rays out.
It is also questionable how long Tampa can maintain a team in Major League Baseball, at least a competitive one over the long haul considering their current stadium situation. The idea had been floated to play half their games in Tampa, and half in Montreal. As the video above will reveal, that idea appears to be nothing more than a pipe dream for some old Expos fans.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as MLB Power Ranking: August 1

MLB awards: my 2018 IBWAA ballot

IBWAA 2018 MLB awards ballot time
Back in 2009 the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America) was originally, and perhaps fittingly, founded on Independence Day “to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA)” per the organization home site.
At the end of each regular season, each member in good standing receives an awards ballot and is tasked with voting for a top 10 for Most Valuable Player of the National and American Leagues.
We are also tasked with voting in each league for a top five in the Cy Young Award, as well as a top three in each of three further categories: top manager, top reliever, and Rookie of the Year.
This will be the fourth year that I’ve had a vote in the IBWAA annual awards balloting. As with each of the last three years, I’m now publicly releasing my ballot. As always, I’m sure that you would choose differently. I would love to hear your choices for each of the awards. Please feel free to leave a comment below this piece with your own selections.
The IBWAA is scheduled to begin announcing the winners of its awards in mid-November. Our editorial director here at Phillies Nation, Tim Kelly, released his own ballot just yesterday which included some of the reasoning behind his selections.
I’m not going to defend my choices, just simply presenting my ballot for your edification. However, I will let you in on this: I don’t vote for pitchers for Most Valuable Player. I’ve heard, appreciate, and respect all arguments to the contrary. I respectfully disagree with them all.
For me, a player who takes the field every single day to hit and field his position is always going to be more valuable than one who plays every five days. Also, there is a stand-alone award for the best pitcher that is not available to position players.
Also, my MVP votes are always going to be prejudiced towards players whose teams actually win something. Win your division, or at the very least capture a Wildcard playoff berth.
I don’t care if you hit 70 home runs for a last place team. They could have finished in last without your contribution. This is Most “Valuable”, not Most “Outstanding” Player. MLB gives out the Hank Aaron Award to the top hitter in each league. The MVP needs something more to win it on my ballot, and one thing they need is to have helped their team win.
So now it’s time to reveal my own ballot. I’ll first show my top choice to actually win the award, and then the entire ballot for each category.

First-year skipper Snitker guided the Braves to their first NL East crown in five years. (Photo: Bbqsauce13)
NL Manager of the Year: Brian Snitker, Atlanta Braves
  1. Snitker
  2. Bud Black
  3. Craig Counsell
AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics
  1. Melvin
  2. Kevin Cash
  3. Joey Cora
NL Top Relief Pitcher: Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers
  1. Hader
  2. Wade Davis
  3. Kenley Jansen


Diaz (R) was baseball’s top reliever by a wide margin in the 2018 season. (Photo: Keith Allison)
AL Top Relief Pitcher: Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners
  1. Diaz
  2. Blake Treinen
  3. Craig Kimbrel
NL Rookie of the Year: Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves
  1. Acuna
  2. Juan Soto
  3. Jack Flaherty
AL Rookie of the Year: Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees
  1. Andujar
  2. Joey Wendle
  3. Shohei Ohtani

Nola is a worthy NL Cy Young Award candidate and received this vote.
NL Cy Young Award: Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies
  1. Nola
  2. Jacob deGrom
  3. Max Scherzer
  4. Kyle Freeland
  5. Jameson Taillon
AL Cy Young Award: Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays
  1. Snell
  2. Chris Sale
  3. Corey Kluber
  4. Justin Verlander
  5. Trevor Bauer

Bregman broke out to help the champion Astros remain a top contender. (Photo: Udeezy)
NL Most Valuable Player: Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
  1. Yelich
  2. Javier Baez
  3. Freddie Freeman
  4. Matt Carpenter
  5. Lorenzo Cain
  6. Nolan Arenado
  7. Justin Turner
  8. Paul Goldschmidt
  9. Trevor Story
  10. Anthony Rendon
AL Most Valuable Player: Alex Bregman, 3B, Houston Astros
  1. Bregman
  2. Francisco Lindor
  3. Mookie Betts
  4. Matt Chapman
  5. Jose Ramirez
  6. J.D. Martinez
  7. Aaron Judge
  8. Mike Trout
  9. Whit Merrifield
  10. Didi Gregorius
Originally published by Phillies Nation as “Matt Veasey’s 2018 IBWAA awards ballot

Rays of Hope During Hot Spring in Tampa Bay

To say that the 2016 season was rough for the Tampa Bay Rays and their fans would be an understatement. The club’s 68-94 last place finish in the AL East was their worst in nearly a decade.
From 2008, the year that a talented, young Rays club won the franchise lone American League pennant, through 2013, Tampa Bay won 90 or more games in five of six seasons.
But it has now been three straight losing campaigns in west-central Florida. And most prognosticators had the team again finishing at the bottom of the standings.
But the Rays are off to an encouraging 9-9 start here in the early weeks of the 2017 season. It hasn’t been any one particular thing either.
Under third year manager Kevin Cash, there has been real improvement across all facets of the game. Those improvements added up to a winning record after the Rays swept the Detroit Tigers earlier this week for the first time since 2010. A loss last night to Houston dropped the club back to the .500 mark.

LONGO GETTING HELP ACROSS THE LINEUP

During their glory years, the most important player in the everyday lineup was third baseman Evan Longoria. Now a 31-year old veteran, Longo is still on board, and still a major offensive threat. The three-time AL All-Star has a half-dozen extra-base hits, including three home runs, and has driven in 10 runs.
Right fielder Steven Souza also has three homers. The 28-year old leads the club with 15 RBI and a .343/.429/.582 slash line.
The other two outfield positions feature speed to burn. In left field, Mallex Smith has taken over. The 24-year old was flipped back in January from the Atlanta Braves to the Seattle Mariners, who then shipped him to Tampa for lefty pitcher Drew Smyly.
Smith has gotten off solidly with a .273 average and .360 on-base percentage. He is second on the club with three stolen bases, but has missed the last eight games with a hamstring strain. He has been running lightly, and the club hopes to get him back soon.
Leading the Rays in swipes is Gold Glove center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who has four. The 27-year old is hitting .294 with a .385 OBP thus far in 2017.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in the everyday lineup has been first baseman Logan Morrison. Once a highly rated prospect in the Marlins organization, Morrison has mostly disappointed over his first seven seasons.
But now in his second year in Tampa, the 29-year old is tied with DH Corey Dickerson for the team lead with four home runs. Morrison is also second on the team with a dozen RBI. For his part, Dickerson is hitting for a .317/.358/.603 slash.

RAYS PITCHING HAS ALSO BEEN STRONG

On the mound, 28-year old Chris Archer has stepped up to become a legitimate ace after helping lead the U.S. to a World Baseball Classic championship in March.
Archer is 2-0 with a 1.71 FIP and 117 ERA+ mark. Over his first four starts, Archer has allowed 25 hits in 25.1 innings with a 27/8 K:BB mark.
Alex Cobb appears to finally be all the way back from Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss the entire 2015 season and most of last year. Cobb has an 18/4 K:BB across his first 24 innings, and three of his four starts have been encouraging.
24-year old Blake Snell had a strong rookie campaign a year ago, and the lefty is off to another solid start. He has allowed just 12 hits over his first 16.1 innings across three starts.
Matt Andriese was supposed to be the big question mark in the rotation as the fifth starter. But thus far, the 27-year old has done his part. Andriese has a 14/5 K:BB in allowing 16 hits over 16 innings in his three starts.
Jake Odorizzi was supposed to be the breakout pitcher in the rotation. But the 27-year old is currently wrapping up a stint on the 10-day DL with a hamstring issue.
Odorizzi is due to throw a bullpen session on Saturday, and the Rays hope to have the talented right-hander back soon. he did get on the mound for three starts in which he allowed just 10 hits over 13 innings.
Alex Colome took over as the closer a year ago. The now 28-year old is off to a strong start as well. He has allowed just two hits over six innings thus far. He also has not walked a batter across his first half-dozen appearances, and has registered three saves.
The bullpen setting up Colome has been mostly effective as well. Erasmo RamirezTommy Hunter, and Jumbo Diaz have led the way, with Ramirez stepping into the rotation to fill-in while Odorizzi recovers.

RETURNING PLAYERS COULD BOOST CLUB FURTHER

Management likes what it sees of the renewed fight in their ball club. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times recently quoted general manager Erik Neander:
“The makeup and chemistry is showing signs of being a real strength. There is a chip, an edge, a selflessness, a greater purpose behind how these guys compete together. … It’s an easy group to root for.”
Tampa should get better in the coming weeks. Odorizzi could be back on the mound and Smith back in the lineup soon. The Rays are also looking forward to the return of shortstop Matt Duffy, who had off-season surgery on his left heel. Duffy is slowly progressing, and should be back in May.
The Rays have fashioned their .500 start thanks largely to a strong home mark. The team is 8-3 at the sparsely populate Trop, while just 1-6 on the road. They’ll have to figure those road woes out in a hurry if they expect to stay competitive, as the club heads out on an eight-game road trip next week.
While it is way too early to get overly excited about the team possibly contending this season, the start has been fun. Tampa is showing that they can beat you a number of ways. Now it’s up to Cash and his players to keep things moving forward as the warm feelings of spring turn into a long, hot summer.

MLB 2016 Prediction: American League Rookie of the Year

Our staff has just released our predictions for the winners of each division, as well asour postseason predictions, including the 2016 World Series winner. 
I released my own predictions for the Phillies in the coming season. Now we begin the process of releasing our predictions for some of MLB’s major award winners.
Impact rookie ball players are always a fascinating part of any MLB season. A year ago, the Philadelphia Phillies began their rebuilding program by introducing 3rd baseman Maikel Franco for his first full campaign, and starting pitchers Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff as rookies on the mound.
A year ago there was a fascinating finish in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, with a near photo finish between a pair of talented shortstops with very different player profiles.
The award went to Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, who delivered a .279/.345/.512 slash line with 22 homers, 68 RBI, and 14 stolen bases in just 387 at-bats across 99 games following his call-up to the big leagues on June 8th.
The runner-up was Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor. He produced a .313/.353/..482 slash line with a dozen homers, 51 RBI, 50 runs scored, and a dozen stolen bases in 390 at-bats across the same 99 games following his own promotion on June 14th.
While Correa had more of an offensive profile and Lindor a top-notch defensive reputation, each proved to be a more than capable performer in all aspects of the game during their freshman campaigns.
Minnesota Twins slugger Miguel Sano banged out 18 homers and drove in 52 runs with a .269/.385/.530 slash line over 279 at-bats in just 80 games. 
He finished in third place a year ago. For the coming season, it’s a teammate of Sano who has been made our staff choice as the AL Rookie of the Year favorite.

Byron Buxton has been a known commodity for the last 3-4 years in baseball circles. He was considered the top prospect in the game by Baseball America and a number of other evaluation sources during both the 2014 and 2015 seasons, but his big league arrival has been derailed by a series of injuries.
While some of the lustre has come off the Buxton shine for some evaluators due to those injuries and a poor showing during his debut a year ago, the Twins center fielder remained among the top prospects on every list prior to this 2016 season.
Buxton came to the Majors twice last season, first making his debut on June 14th and staying up for most of June. 
Returned to the minor leagues, he then came up for good on August 20th. He produced just a .209/.250/.326 slash line with 16 runs scored and two stolen bases over 138 plate appearances in 46 games.
The 22-year old only recorded 129 official at-bats with the Twins, one short of the MLB rookie eligibility limit. 
Thanks to that single at-bat, Buxton remains an official candidate for the Rookie of the Year Award this season.
Our staff gave the talented 5-tooler half of our eight votes to become the cumulative favorite. However, four other players each received a single vote, and each has to be considered a legitimate candidate as well.
Those receiving votes included Texas Rangers slugging 3rd baseman/outfielder Joey Gallo, who is beginning the season in the minor leagues. 
Also receiving votes and starting the year in the minors are Houston Astros 1st baseman A.J. Reed and Minnesota pitcher Jose Berrios.
A spring surprise who won a starting job in MLB and who has received the vote from our Ryan Gerstel was infielder/DH Tyler White of the Houston Astros. 
The 25-year old White hit for a .325/.442/.496 slash line with 14 homers and 99 RBI in a 2015 season split between AA and AAA in the Astros’ minor league system.
White won a surprise role with one of the American League’s top teams with an outstanding spring in which he hit for a .353/.443/.588 slash line in the Grapefruit League, with three homers and a dozen RBI down in Florida. 
If he keeps hitting like that, he will certainly keep his job and remain a contender for the rookie award.
Others who could emerge as top rookies this season in the junior circuit include Twins’ Korean import DH Byung-ho Park, Indians ouftielder Tyler Naquin, Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, Rays pitcher Blake Snell, and Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara.