Daily Dojo: Big Weekend Series

Back to school, but the sports world rolls on.

In baseball this weekend, there are three series that, I think, will have a significant impact on the playoff picture. The Orioles go to New York for a weekend series, the Rays go into the shithole (literally) of the Oakland Coliseum, and the Cardinals continue their ridiculous stretch against the NL’s top teams in Pittsburgh.

Alfonso Soriano (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Alfonso Soriano (Al Bello/Getty Images)

The Orioles have a chance to just drown the Yankees’ playoff hopes this weekend with a sweep. A sweep would give the Yankees 5 more losses than the Orioles, and that is a huge deficit to overcome in a month. Not to mention that the Orioles don’t even have a playoff spot yet so its 5 games back of 3rd place in the AL Wild Card with a month left. Yankees would be done, but I doubt that the O’s will be able to pull this off as the Yankees have suddenly become a lineup to fear. They can still come up with a dud game, but they can also explode like they did against the Blue Jays last series. I attribute most of this to Alfonso Soriano. Soriano has been ridiculous in the second half. He has 11 home runs and 33 RBI’s in 31 games with the Yankees. Thats ridiculous. Its a better pace than Miguel Cabrera, but Cabrera has done it over a whole season, 130 RBI’s in 126 games. Another incredible stat on how good Cabrera has been… Chris Davis has 47 home runs, 121 RBI’s, a .303 batting average and no shot to win the AL MVP. That is ridiculous.

The Rays in Oakland is a big deal for the AL Wild Card and the race for their respective division title. If Oakland gets swept, they will continue to fall behind the Rangers in the AL West and give the Orioles hope for a playoff spot. It would also mean the Rays get closer to where, I think, is their ultimate home at the top of the AL East. The Rays have everything. I wrote about this about a week ago, so I won’t repeat myself. Just link myself. If the Rays get swept, the AL East becomes a harder task than it was. The Red Sox could pull away and leave the Rays in the one game playoff. If Oakland gets the sweep, they will have a realistic shot at taking back the AL West. Then again, they did it last year after not leading all year so I don’t think they’ll be out for awhile. The series is also important for home field advantage in the Wild Card Round. The winner of this series will be in first place for the AL Wild Card and will be in place for a home game. However, that didn’t matter last year as both away teams won the one game playoff.

The Cardinals continue their ridiculous stretch against the NL’s top teams. It is 18 games against the Braves (Yes, they are a top team. I was wrong about that, but they are in the worst division in baseball and I still don’t think that is wrong), Reds and Pirates. They have gone 6-2 so far in the stretch failing to finish off sweeps in their first two series. Now they go to Pittsburgh and look to create even more separation in the NL Central. They have a 1 game lead right now and could have a 4 game lead come Monday. The Cardinals are the most complete team in baseball in my opinion. With Yadier Molina off the DL, the team is insane. They can hit from any place in the line up. Their rotation has one soft spot, Jake Westbrook, but he is on the DL now, so they get to use their young talent and see who will be useful in the playoffs. And their bullpen has an unbelievable ability to shut teams down with Trevor Rosenthal and Edward Mujica. I think that they will go far in the playoffs.

Predictions for these series…

Orioles take 2 of 3

Rays sweep

Cardinals take 2 of 3

Greg Danchik

 

Daily Dojo: AL East Race

For the AL East and AL Wild Card, there were three big series this weekend.

First, the Orioles squared off against the Athletics at home. The O’s won the two games that were slugfests, but ended up losing the close game. This is very unlike last year. The Orioles defied all logical thought by going 29-9 in one run games last year. They are clearly returning to the norm this year, and it is making a huge difference in their record. They are 14-23 so far this year. They would be winning the AL East and have the best record in baseball if they had the same 1 run game record as last year. I think that this is good for the Orioles future. To me, this signifies that they are actually better than last year. One run games definitely have an element of luck, so I think they have just been a little less lucky. This loss of luck will cost them a playoff birth in my eyes.

The New York Yankees traveled up to Tamba Bay to take on the Rays this weekend in the second of the three big series that happened this weekend. The Rays were able to take 2 out of 3, and they lost the third game in extras after a Curtis Granderson sac fly in the 11th brought home the winning run. This series win brings Tamba closer to where I think they’ll inevitably end up, AL East Champs. They have phenomenal pitching, and with Wil Myers in the line up, it it one to be feared.

Boston went west and took on the Dodgers this weekend. The Dodgers have been the hottest team in baseball throughout the second half going 28-5 prior to the series. The Red Sox were able to take the series from the Dodgers by winning 2 out of 3 including a blow out last night. The Sox got lucky in their last two series actually. They didn’t have to face Matt Cain or Madison Bumgarner against the Giants, and they didn’t have to face Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke. This West Coast trip may have gotten back on track, which will help them hold off the Rays and possibly Orioles.

Greg Danchik

Daily Dojo: Ichiro’s 4,000

Ichiro's 4000th hit (Photo Cred: Debby Wong/USA Today Sports)

Ichiro’s 4000th hit (Photo Cred: Debby Wong/USA Today Sports)

Congrats to Ichiro for reaching 4000 hits in his professional baseball career dating back to when he was 18 years old and playing in Japan. He did only bat .253 as an 18 year old, but he definitely was able to improve on that total as he moved on in his professional career. He ended up batting .353 in his Japanese career, and .320 in the majors, so far. This is really impressive for this era of baseball. Since 2001, the year Ichiro entered the MLB, he has had the 5th highest batting average of ALL major league players.

Obviously, he has had a really impressive MLB career and will most likely be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but definitely a Hall of Famer. So my question is, how close could Ichiro have gotten to being the Hit King in the MLB? Japanese baseball is widely consider “AAAA” baseball. It is not as good as the MLB, but it is better than playing in AAA. So, I would say that it is hard to translate his statistics to the majors. However, I will try. First, I am going to assume that his age 18-20 seasons would have been spent in the minors to be conservative, so those stats won’t count for my MLB translation. From his age 21 to age to 26 season, he had a .354 batting average and accumulated 1032 hits over that time. I would think that over the course of some of his best baseball years, his average wouldn’t dip too much. I am going to say that he would have batted .330 over those 6 seasons in the MLB. His MLB career average is .320, so I think it isn’t ridiculous to assume that he would have batted .330 in his pre-prime and early prime years. He also would have had more at bats because each year he would have about 20 or more games; the Nippon Baseball League plays between 130-140 games a year, while the MLB plays 162. If I say 115 extra games with 4 at bats a game (he batted leadoff so unless someone threw a perfect game, he would definitely had 4 at bats), that is an extra 460 at bats. Those extra at bats would have given him 3,374 at bats over those 6 seasons. If he batted .330 in those years, that comes out to 1,113 hits, or 1,038 if he batted.325. That is actually MORE hits than he accumulated over that time in Japan. Added to his actual MLB total, that would give him 3,835 hits over this whole hypothetical career. I do think that there is a chance he could have been called up in the middle of his age 20 season and that would probably have given him about 100-150 more hits or so. In this hypothetical Ichiro career, he would definitely hit 4,000 hits, and if he was able to play 2 more years after this, he would have a realistic shot to pass Pete Rose’s mark of 4,256 hits. I think Ichiro’s achievement is a big deal and he deserves a significant amount of recognition for this acheivement of 4,000 hits over his entire career. He is easily a first ballot Hall of Famer if I had a vote.

Oh Jason Heyward’s jaw breaking?  I just wrote that a hit to the face would at least cause a jaw fracture. It is actually fractured in 2 places. Obviously, Jonathon Niese did not mean for that to happen, but pitchers try to do this on purpose. Heyward is probably out for the year and if that happened on purpose, that is ridiculous. That is what needs to stop.

Greg Danchik

Daily Dojo: Miguel Cabrera and Denver Broncos

Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown

Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown

Miguel Cabrera getting hurt is not good for the Tigers. They are pretty safely locked into a playoff spot, but they need Cabrera to succeed in the playoffs. It is also not good for his Triple Crown chances either. If he can’t play for awhile, there is no way he will be able to tie or pass Chris Davis in the home run category. However, I think if he did not play another inning this season, he will win the MVP and it might be unanimous. His season has been THAT good. Putting up 40 homers and 120 RBIs while hitting .356 is a RIDICULOUS stat line. He is easily a Hall of Fame hitter, and we are lucky that we get to see him in his prime.

I also think that his injury might be a sign of things to come. He definitely is not the most fit baseball player. I am actually going to be in the minority when I evaluate him for next year. I probably will not have him as my number 1 pick in fantasy baseball. I do not think that he will be able to stay healthy for full seasons going forward unless Prince Fielder becomes the DH and Cabrera moves to 1st base. I also do not like that he does not contribute in the stolen base category. I think that a 5 category player is better than a 4 category player, even if they are as good as Cabrera. I don’t know for sure, but taking a guess, I think I will be picking Mike Trout if I have the number 1 pick in fantasy baseball this year.

Von Miller (Photo Cred -John Leyba/The Denver Post)

Von Miller (Photo Cred -John Leyba/The Denver Post)

Onto football… The Denver Broncos, the almost unanimous favorite in the AFC, is getting picked apart in a variety of different ways. First, Elvis Dumervil moved to the Baltimore Ravens after he became a free agent from Fax Machine-Gate. Champ Bailey is in a boot for a foot sprain, and now, their best defensive player, Von Miller, is suspended for the first 6 games. I have said previously that if Von Miller got suspended, I think the Ravens will win their Week 1 tilt in Denver. Joe Flacco carved up Champ Bailey in the AFC Playoffs, so I think he will carry that confidence into the new year. Of course, I am a Ravens’ fan so I am probably a bit bias, but I am definitely not as bad as Gerdes who just rips Arsenal when the calls in their first EPL match were quite questionable, and thinks Chelsea is made up of perfectionists who will never lose a match because the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ has returned. But I’m done ripping Gerdes for being a homer or, in the case of his Chelsea fandom, a front-runner.

The Ravens defense will be better than last year. The biggest problem will be if they can find a second receiver. They should have tried to make a trade for Jonathan Baldwin. Unfortunately, Jim Harbaugh was able to get him instead of John. We’ll see how this season goes, but I think their over-under of 8.5 is a bit low. We’ll see what happens because Vegas is a lot smarter than I am.

Greg Danchik

Daily Dojo: A-Rod and the PED fix

Alex Rodriguez hit by Ryan Dempster (Photo cred: Jim Davis, Boston Globe)

Alex Rodriguez hit by Ryan Dempster (Photo cred: Jim Davis, Boston Globe)

By letting Alex Rodriguez play and not invoking a clause that is seldom used that would have prevented him from playing, Bud Selig has turned Alex Rodriguez, and the Yankees, into a sympathetic figure. Last night, Ryan Dempster went right after Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod and the Yankees did nothing wrong, but Joe Girardi gets tossed because of something a Red Sox pitcher did? This is one of the things that needs to be fixed in baseball. I am of the opinion that the ejection system for throwing at batters and the retaliation needs to be changed, and that, right now, it is a much bigger issue for the game of baseball than PED’s. That whole Red Sox v. Yankees game with A-Rod had a lot of interesting parts. Here are some of my favorite tweets from the night.

 

 

 

 

PED’s can’t really hurt anyone except for the users long-term health and their reputations. Throwing at batters, on the other hand, can get dangerous. Imagine a 98 mph fastball hitting a batter in the head. The helmets are not perfect by any means. Think of it this way… It took Justin Morneau 2 years to get back to normal after sustaining a concussion that was caused by him sliding into someones knee at second base. A 98 mph could be much worse, and if the fastball misses the helmet, but catches the face, a fractured jaw would not be out of the question. That’s just my feeling on the throwing at batters issue in baseball.

Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron

Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron

Back to PED’s. No one likes talking about them, but I think it is time to accept them. Now that they are known about, players will never stop using them. I think the only way they would stop is if there was a really strict penalty. Something like one failed test and you are gone for life, and you must pay back all the money you have made as a major leaguer considering it is fraud, I don’t think that this is a radical punishment. I know that this will never happen because of the MLBPA, but I think it should. Since this won’t happen, I think they should just give up and divide the record books in half. You say that anyone who began playing in 1985 (the year Jose Canseco made it to the MLB) or later is a part of the Steroid Era. This would make Barry Bonds the Home Run King of the Steroid Era with 762, and Hank Aaron would be the Home Run King of the Non-Steroid Era with 755. Also, Roger Maris would still have his record for the single season home run record, and Bonds would have his. I know this isn’t perfect, because there were other ways the game wasn’t fair in the Non-Steroid Era. I mean Babe Ruth didn’t have to play against anyone in the Negro Leagues. It cuts the player pool significantly, and there is less talent in the MLB so it was easier for Ruth to dominate. That’s just my opinion. The other thing that isn’t perfect about this is if anyone passes Roger Maris’s Non-Steroid Era single season home run record, it doesn’t matter. Even if the player has never been even remotely accused of using steroids. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s better than some people considering Roger Maris’s 60 home runs as the single season home run record (Chris Davis, among others) even though Bonds obliterated that mark with his 73. It’s my okay solution for a pretty controversial issue in baseball.

Greg Danchik