Tigers Doing What Other Teams Should: Tweetup

According to the Associated Press the Detroit Tigers are hosting a Tweetup for their Twitter followers.

The team plans to hold its first-ever “tweetup” before and during Tuesday’s game against the Seattle Mariners.

Those who follow the club’s official Twitter accounts are being offered a special $10 ticket that get them group seating with fellow “tweeps” in the ballpark’s pavilion section; access to a pregame event; and a Tigers “TweetUp” t-shirt that includes space for their Twitter address.

In addition, the Tigers are to randomly select a few people who buy the Twitter tickets to watch the game in a suite.

This Tweetup idea is a great, nix that, amazing idea. This is a perfect example of something that small market teams in high ranking Social Media cities should employ. If this goes over as a success in Detroit, which was not even ranked in the top 100 Socially Networked cities, then it should be a hit in the top Socially Networked area.

Here are the top 5 teams that could benefit from a Tweetup:

 Team  Social Network City Ranking  Attendance Ranking
 Washington Nationals  1st  20th (53.8% tix sold)
 Seattle Mariners  5th  29th (40.0%)
 Atlanta Braves  2nd  18th (59.6%)
 Cincinnati Reds  11th  21st (53.2%)
 Tampa Bay Rays  31st  24th (49.3%)


I placed the Rays in the above list because Orlando was ranked 7th overall in addition to Tampa being 31st. Don’t even ask where St. Petersburg was ranked, the very city in which the Rays play their home games is a horrible city for Social Media while the two biggest cities with-in an hour or so away are two of the top Social Media cities. This would be an easy draw, especially with the large amount of Rays followers, like myself, that are on Twitter.

For $10 you would recieve a ticket to the game, a t-shirt where you can place your Twitter handle and get more followers, a pre-game event, and the chance to sit in a suite. Sounds like a no-brainer idea to me and I would be one of the first to purchase a ticket to such an event. What about you?


Is There A New Guard Wearing Shin Guards?

A little more than ten percent of the Major League Baseball season has been played thus far. And while that seems like a lot, we are still in the early days of the season and “Sample Size!” needs to be yelled above the writer of any post when talking about player performance to this point. Throwing that caution to the wind, and yet looking back at it in terror, this series of thoughts centers on the early leader board for catchers around the majors. While Brian McCann is still at the top of his game and tied for the lead for catchers in wins above replacement (WAR), other catchers previously near the top like Carlos Ruiz and Giovany Soto have started off the season mildly and are only in the middle of the pack. Other long-time stalwarts like Jorge Posada (now a DH), Joe Mauer (chronic ailments) and Yadier Molina (still plugging away) are invisible. Alongside McCann are a few names unfamiliar to their position at the top of the league’s catchers.

Russell Martin is near the top, which shouldn’t be a surprise. This very writer predicted as such before the season started. After a few rough season, Martin is back where he was a few seasons ago. His start is hardly a fluke as he’s performed this well in the past. Apparently, all he needed was a kick in the humility basket to refocus his talent. Mission accomplished. But two catchers ahead of him are tied with McCann and they are Miguel Montero and Nick Hundley. Buster Posey is also tied for the lead in WAR with the names already mentioned, but again, that is hardly a surprise as he mounted his flag of excellence last year. But Montero and Hundley? Are they part of the changing of the guard in catching talent? Let’s take a look.

Let’s start with Nick Hundley of the San Diego Padres. The 27-year old Hundley–who is not related for catchers Ted and Todd Hundley–has been with the Padres for four years now. He’s never been more than a platoon catcher playing nearly half of the Padres games. Last year, he split time with Yorvit Torrealba, which is strange, because both hit right-handed. The year before, Hundley shared time with the aged Henry Blanco. This year, the position belongs to Hundley and he has played in sixteen of the team’s eighteen games thus far. And his numbers seem to have responded to his newfound status. Torrealba has moved on to Texas.

Thus far, Hundley has an impressive slash line of: .339/.397/.571, good for an OPS+ of 170. That’s pretty darned impressive.  He has also slightly improved his ability to throw out potential base stealers and for the first time in recent seasons, his fielding is neutral instead of being in the negative category. Is there any indication that Hundley can keep this up? Unfortunately, there is not. He is a career .718 OPS guy after being a .783 OPS kind of guy in the minors (.743 in Triple A).

Sure, there have been late bloomers before. And sure, his minor league numbers are higher than his major league numbers in part-time duty. But there are other indicators that he can’t sustain his current slash line. The first indication is that he is not selective enough at the plate. In full time duty this year, his walk rate is 7.9 percent. That’s the same exact walk rate for his career. That lack of plate discipline leads to bad spells at the plate which will lower his overall numbers at the end.  He is swinging at less pitches out of the strike zone according to Fangraphs.com, but the walk results are exactly the same.

On top of that damning bit of evidence is that his ground ball and fly ball rates are very near his career norms and the only spikes are in his fly ball to home run rate and his BABIP (batting average on balls in play). His homer to fly ball rate is nearly double his career norm and his BABIP is an unattainable .410. Hundley may be able to maintain his fielding levels with more regular work, but regression is truly likely for Hundley and he should fall on the leader board.

Miguel Montero is another story. Of course, we were all looking for a different Montero to bloom this year. But Jesus Montero didn’t make the Yankees this spring and this other Montero is doing what many hoped Jesus would do. Right off the bat, we know that Miguel Montero can’t maintain a .405 BABIP over the course of the season, so he’s not going to hit .359 like he is now. But McCann has a .410 BABIP and he’s not going to sustain that either. But unlike Hundley, Montero has a better history of plate discipline.

Montero also has a better history with his walk rate. Yes, his first two years in the majors has him hovering in the high single digits, which make his current rate of 13.1 percent look fluky. Montero did show more patience in the minors than Hundley ever did, so his walk rate should end up higher than Hundley’s. The one caveat of saying that is Montero is swinging at more pitches out of the strike zone this year than in the past, but perhaps that can be explained with his hot hitting and wanting to keep that rolling.

Montero has more sustainable power than Hundley, plays in a state (Arizona) that is more conducive to maintaining his power numbers and has a much higher minor league OPS than Hundley. If Hundley were to maintain his high ranking on the catcher leader board, it would be a shock. But if Montero were to do so, it would be much less so. Montero is known as a less than stellar defender behind the plate. But his numbers in 2010 and 2011 show little indication of that. The Fans Scouting Report seems to bear that out a little bit more. Montero has to remain solid defensively to stay among the leaders.

So, is this a changing of the (shin) guard? Maybe not. Posey will be there at the top as will McCann barring injury. Ruiz and Soto have shown a three year trend of improvement and should end up with good numbers. Joe Mauer may no longer be an every day catcher and Jorge Posada may never catch again. Martin will end up near the top. It seems safe to say that Nick Hundley will not end up there and Miguel Montero has a medium chance at doing so.

Random Predictions – NL

Continuing on from yesterday’s AL Predictions are my NL predictions. I honestly cannot wait to see the reactions when I tell everyone that…

Atlanta Braves – Nate McLouth is going to revert to 2009 form and go 20/20 with a .350 OBP. Craig Kimbrel will save 20+ games and strike out 100+ as part of the best relief squad in the Majors. Chipper Jones will hit .300 in his final season. Mike Minor will replace Brandon Beachy as the 5th starter by June.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Russell Branyan will set a career high by hitting 35 or more homeruns this season. That’s right! All he needs is playing time and I predict he will gain 3B eligibilty. Joe Saunders will have an ERA north of 5.00. David Hernandez will lead the team in saves with less than 20.

Chicago Cubs – Tyler Colvin will get 500+ plate appearances but will not hit more than 25 homers. There will be more “head case” headlines about Matt Garza than there will be about Carlos Zambrano who will be the better pitcher of the two this year.

Cincinnati Reds – 2010 was more Brandon Phillips norm going forward and he will continue a decline offensively to the tune of .260/.320/.420 at best. The starting rotation will be called overrated by September. Drew Stubbs will be more valuable when factoring ADP than B.J. Upton in fantasy. Jay Bruce will hit 30+ homers but lose defensive value and not be more valuable than he was last year according to fWAR. Aroldis Chapman will finish with less than 5 saves and an ERA above-4.00.

Colorado Rockies – Troy Tulowitzki will win the MVP and be worth close to 8.0 fWAR. Dexter Fowler will break out this year. Jose Lopez still will not hit and be a terrible defender and Ty Wigginton will club 20+ homers. Jason Hammel will finally match his performance with his FIP and post an ERA below-4.00.

Florida Marlins – Mike Stanton will hit 35 homeruns and be very humble about it. Anibal Sanchez will pitch 200+ innings of 3.25 or lower ERA and 175+ strikeouts. Omar Infante will hit closer to his career slash-line of .274/.319/.395 than his last two year’s .316/.359/.408. The 3B position will struggle to combine for a positive fWAR.

Houston Astros – Wilton Lopez will end up with double-digit saves. Brett Wallace will hit .285/.345/.450 and give the Astros hope for the future. The shortstop position will the weakest in the league offensively. Jordan Lyles will be up and be their best pitcher after the trade deadline.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Juan Uribe will set another career high in homers with 25 this season. Jonathan Broxton may lose the closer role but he will still strike out 90+ with an ERA below-3.00. Matt Kemp will be worth +5.0 fWAR or better. Left field will be a revolving door that will never stop and be lucky to produce at a higher level than replacement. A.J. Ellis is the best catcher on the roster but will see the least amount of time.

Milwaukee Brewers – Shaun Marcum will mail a thank you card to the Blue Jays for trading him out of the AL East and will post 200+ innings of 3.25 or lower ERA and 175+ strikeouts. Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan will combine for a wRC of 85 or lower. Jonathan Lucroy and George Kottaras will combine to hit 20 homers.

New York Mets – Carlos Beltran will reach 500 PAs and hit .280/.370/.470 or better. Angel Pagan will again be worth more than 4.0 fWAR. Francisco Rodriguez will not meet his Games Finished clause wheter he finishes the year out with the Mets or not. The Mets will have a fire sale in July and post a better record in the 2nd half and play “spoiler” to postseason contenders.

Philadelphia Phillies – Ryan Howard continues his Cecil Fielder impersonation and hits worse than he did in 2010. Ben Francisco will hit 20 homers and steal 15 bases. Roy Halladay will post even better numbers than last year.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Andrew McCutchen will hit 20 homers and steal 40 bases. Joel Hanrahan will save 30 games and strike out 100+. James McDonald will be the only starting pitcher with more than 2.0 fWAR and he will have higher than 3.0 fWAR.

San Diego Padres – Tim Stauffer will log 175+ innings of sub-3.50 ERA and 125+ strikeouts. Brad Hawpe will lose his starting job by mid-June and struggle to hit above .250 with little-to-no power. Jason Bartlett will hit at least .285/.345/.425 and steal 20+ bases.

San Francisco Giants – Aubrey Huff will get off to a slow start and everyone will scream for Brandon Belt to get playing time. Which he will… in June, and contend for the Rookie of the Year Award by hitting close to .300 with 15+ homers. Jonathan Sanchez will be the best pitcher on the team.

St. Louis Cardinals – Colby Rasmus will hit 30+ homers and steal 15+ bases. Lance Berkman will bounce back to hit .275/.375/.475 with 20+ homers. Kyle McClellan will log 175+ innings of sub-4.00 ERA with 125+ strikeouts. Jason Motte will save 10+ games and record 70+ strikeouts.

Washington Nationals – Michael Morse will hit more homers than Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche. Livan Hernandez will post an ERA north of 5.00 and allow 225+ hits in less than 200 innings. Matt Stairs will hit a homerun for the Nats, his 12th different team.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at his other site Figure Filbert and on twitter at @FigureFilbert

The Worst Player in the Majors Is…

(AP Photo)

Melky Cabrera. I find it rather hard to believe that any team would give a contract to Melky Cabrera after the season that he had with the Atlanta Braves last year which was the worst of any player in 2010. Well, the Kansas City Royals gave him a Major League deal worth $1.25M plus another 250K in incentives that will probably only be reached if they are plate appearance based and not actual performance based, especially if 2010 was an indication of his future value… 0r non-value… or negative-vlaue. You get the point, he was pretty awful in 2010 and there is little hope of a performance boost either.

Cabrera had the worst fWAR among all position players last year at -1.2. Right behind him were Carlos Lee at -0.8, Adam Lind at -0.3, and Cesar Izturis at -0.3. Those players at least had positive contributions in some sort of fashion or were unlucky. Lee had a .238 BABIP but at least contributed 24 homers. Lind hit 23 homers, and Izturis was +5.1 UZR at shortstop. Cabrera offered little to nothing to the Braves all season.

On top of posting the worst fWAR there was nothing “fluky” or unlucky that I could point out to help him out. In fact, I can point out that batting 8th in the National League helped him get 11 intentional walks that improved his walk rates and On-Base Percentage. Without those free passes his walk rate would’ve been 6.1% and not 8.3%. His BABIP was .288, right in line with his career .290 BABIP and he switched to the easier league.

His horrible accomplishments included, but were not limited to, a wOBA of .294 which was the 9th worst in the Majors, his -15.9 UZR was the 4th worst, Nyjer Morgan was the only outfielder with a worse wRC+ and wOBA than Melky, and his RAR was by far the worst in the Majors at -11.9 and only 5 others even had a RAR in the negatives with Carlos Lee being second worst at -7.3 and no one else was worse than -2.6. He managed to make contact at high rates but to no avail.

There isn’t much saving Melky’s Major League career other than the Royals fetish for horrible offensive players and maybe his baserunning. Outside of that he offers zero-to-negative value at every other aspect of the game and there are not a lot of players that offer that little to teams and have Major League contracts.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at his other site Figure Filbert and on twitter at @FigureFilbert

Rookie of the Year and the World Series

The Rookie of the year award began in 1947, and for the first two seasons it was a Major League wide award. MLB did not award a player from each league until 1949. Last year the Rookie of the year from both the NL and AL played in the World Series. I decided to do a little research and make a list of all the Rookie of the years throughout baseball history that played in the World Series and their team’s result.

 League Wide Award

Year Player Team WS Result
1947 Jackie Robinson Brooklyn Dodgers Lost
1948 Alvin Dark Boston Braves Lost

 American League

Year Player Team WS Result
1951 Gil McDougald New York Yankees Won
1957 Tony Kubek New York Yankees Lost
1962 Tom Tresh New York Yankees Won
1975 Fred Lynn Boston Red Sox Lost
1981 Dave Righetti New York Yankees Lost
1988 Walt Weiss Oakland Athletics Lost
1991 Chuck Knoblauch Minnesota Twins Won
1996 Derek Jeter New York Yankees Won
2006 Justin Verlander Detroit Tigers Lost
2007 Dustin Pedoia Boston Red Sox Won
2008 Evan Longoria Tampa Bay Rays Lost
2010 Neftali Feliz Texas Rangers Lost

 National League

Year Player Team WS Result
1949 Don Newcombe Brooklyn Dodgers Lost
1951 Willie Mays New York Giants Lost
1952 Joe Black Brooklyn Dodgers Lost
1953 Jim Gilliam Brooklyn Dodgers Lost
1965 Jim Lefebrve Los Angeles Dodgers Won
1976 Pat Zachry (Tie for 1st) Cincinnati Reds Won
1981 Fernando Valenzuela Los Angeles Dodgers Won
1985 Vince Coleman St. Louis Cardinals Lost
2003 Dontrelle Willis Florida Marlins Won
2010 Buster Posey San Francisco Giants Won

 There have been 3 occasions on which the Rookie of the Year from each league faced off against each other in the World Series. We all remember the Buster Posey vs Neftali Feliz showdown in last year’s World Series, but we have to look back to 1981 for the next ROY matchup. Dave Righetti and the Yankees were defeated by Fernando Valenzuela and the Dodgers. The first ever showdown was in 1951. Some guy named Willie Mays and the then, New York Giants, were defeated by Gil McDougald and the Yankees.

 Which of this year’s top MLB prospects will splash onto the big league scene and earn the Rookie of the Year award? Will they help lead their team to a World Series? We will just have to wait and find out.

My 2011 MLB Predicitons

Troy Tulowitzki

I decided to dig a little deeper and lay out my predicitons from our inaugural post with the Win-Loss records and award winners that go up to five deep.

While I do not use fancy projection systems like PECOTA or Marcels, I do run my own numbers to try and garner a win total for a team based on my 2011 projections for that team’s players. By doing that, most teams end up with an extra win or two because I cannot predict injuries that ruin a player’s entire season and I have to trim those extra wins in order to make sure the total wins match the total losses (I usually end up with about 30 more wins than losses with my initial numbers). That is where some of the “human element” comes in to play.

With that, here are my projected standings and awards:

AL East
1. Red Sox (94-68)
2. Rays (90-72) (Wild Card)
3. Yankees (89-73)
4. Blue Jays (82-80)
5. Orioles (77-85)

AL Central
1. White Sox (87-75)
2. Twins (86-76)
3. Tigers (84-78)
4. Indians (70-92)
5. Royals (61-101)

AL West
1. Rangers (90-72)
2. Athletics (86-76)
3. Angels (78-84)
4. Mariners (65-97)

NL East
1. Phillies (94-68)
2. Braves (89-73) (Wild Card)
3. Marlins (79-83)
4. Mets (77-85)
5. Nationals (73-89)

NL Central
1. Cardinals (90-72)
2. Brewers (87-75)
3. Reds (87-75)
4. Cubs (80-82)
5. Astros (66-96)
6. Pirates (63-99)

NL West
1. Rockies (88-74)
2. Giants (86-76)
3. Dodgers (81-81)
4. Padres (81-81)
5. Diamondbacks (70-92)

World Series

Rockies over Red Sox in 7.

World Series MVP

Dexter Fowler

AL: Adrian Gonzalez, Evan Longoria, Nelson Cruz, Shin-Soo Choo, Miguel Cabrera

NL: Troy Tulowitzki, Chase Utley, Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, Ryan Zimmerman

Cy Young
AL: Jon Lester, Felix Hernandez, Brett Anderson, David Price, Dan Haren

NL: Roy Halladay, Adam Wainwright, Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum, Mat Latos

Rookie of the Year
AL: Jeremy Hellickson, J.P. Arencibia, Hank Conger, Kyle Drabek, Jesus Montero

NL: Domonic Brown, Freddie Freeman, Aroldis Chapman, Brandon Belt, Kenley Jansen

Comback Player of the Year
AL: Grady Sizemore, Conor Jackson

NL: Carlos Beltran, Pablo Sandoval

-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at his other site Figure Filbert and on twitter at @FigureFilbert

MLB Dirt Predictions

Welcome readers and this is MLB Dirt, your baseball headquarters for news, analysis, and everything baseball. In our inaugural article, we have posted our predictions for the upcoming Major League Baseball season.

You will find our predictions for each division, the playoffs, and who we think will win this year’s major awards in each league. This is the first step in the development and expansion of the site. Please tell your friends about MLB Dirt and be prepared to get dirty in baseball news.

For more MLB Dirt, make sure you follow us on Twitter @MLBdirt and “like us on Facebook

Without further ado, here are the 2011 Dirt Predictions:

 Division  Mitchell  MLB Reports  Schwartze
 AL East 1. Red Sox
2. Rays*
3. Yankees
4. Blue Jays
5. Orioles
1. Rays
2. Red Sox*
3. Blue Jays
4. Yankees
5. Orioles
1. Red Sox
2. Rays
3. Yankees
4. Orioles
5. Blue Jays
 AL Central 1. White Sox
2. Twins
3. Tigers
4. Indians
5. Royals
1. White Sox
2. Tigers
3. Twins
4. Royals
5. Indians
1. Twins
2. White Sox
3. Tigers
4. Indians
5. Royals
 AL West 1. Rangers
2. Athletics
3. Angels
4. Mariners
1. Rangers
2. Athletics
3. Angels
4. Mariners
1. Rangers
2. Athletics*
3. Mariners
4. Angels
 NL East 1. Phillies
2. Braves*
3. Marlins
4. Mets
5. Nationals
1. Phillies
2. Braves
3. Nationals
4. Marlins
5. Mets
1. Phillies
2. Braves*
3. Mets
4. Marlins
5. Nationals
 NL Central 1. Cardinals
2. Brewers
3. Reds
4. Cubs
5. Astros
6. Pirates
1. Reds
2. Cardinals*
3. Brewers
4. Cubs
5. Astros
6. Pirates
1. Cardinals
2. Brewers
3. Reds
4. Cubs
5. Pirates
6. Astros
 NL West 1. Rockies
2. Giants
3. Dodgers
4. Padres
5. Diamondbacks
1. Dodgers
2. Rockies
3. Giants
4. Padres
5. Diamondbacks
1. Rockies
2. Dodgers
3. Giants
4. Diamondbacks
5. Padres

* Wild Card Winner


 Award  Mitchell  MLB Reports  Schwartze
 AL Cy Young 1. Jon Lester
2. Felix Hernandez
1. C.J. Wilson
2. J. Papelbon
1. Jon Lester
2. Felix Hernandez
 AL MVP 1. Adrian Gonzalez
2. Evan Longoria
1. Adam Dunn
2. Miguel Cabrera
1. Evan Longoria
2. Adrian Gonzalez
 AL ROY 1. J. Hellickson
2. J.P. Arencibia
1. J. Hellickson
2. Kyle Drabek
1. J. Hellickson
2. Nick Weglarz
 AL Come Back 1. Grady Sizemore
2. Conor Jackson
1. Brad Penny
2. Alex Gordon
1. Josh Beckett
2. Grady Seizmore
 NL Cy Young 1. Roy Halladay
2. A. Wainwright
1. Roy Halladay
2. Cliff Lee
1. Cliff Lee
2. A. Wainwright
 NL MVP 1. Troy Tulowitzki
2. Chase Utley
1. Albert Pujols
2. Andre Ethier
1. Hanley Ramirez
2. Albert Pujols
 NL ROY 1. Domonic Brown
2. Freddie Freeman
1. Brandon Belt
2. Julio Teheran
1. Aroldis Chapman
2. Mike Minor
 NL Come Back 1. Carlos Beltran
2. Pablo Sandoval
1. Carlos Pena
2. Jesus Flores
1. Javier Vasquez
2. Carlos Beltran


World Series

 Picks  Mitchell  MLB Reports  Schwartze
 AL Champ  Red Sox  Rays  Red Sox
 NL Champ  Rockies  Phillies  Phillies
 WS Champ  Rockies  Phillies  Red Sox