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September 28 - Keith and Asher - Projecting Pujols -

Before the season began, Bill James projected that Albert Pujols had a 23% chance to hit 700 home runs, a 16% chance to hit 756, and an 11% chance to reach 800 for his career.  Similarly, Keith wrote that "Ted Williams is the only player to start out his hitting career better than Albert Pujols."

But Asher found a reason to curb his enthusiasm for Albert's start just a tad, and that reason is Frank Thomas.  Through 1996, the Big Hurt played in 930 ML games.  Through 9/28/06, Prince Albert played in -get this- 930 ML games.  So this is an opportune time to compare the first six full seasons of the two greats:

Albert Pujols 3477 745 1154 259 12 248 754 492 394 114 .332 .418 .627 1.046
Frank Thomas 3291 675 1077 211 8 222 729 770 513 108 .327 .452 .599 1.051

A pretty close call to be sure.  Frank actually had a significant edge in Batting Runs with 544 to Albert's 504.  On the other hand, Pujols reached 930 games played at age 26, whereas Thomas got there at age 28.


September 28 - Scott- The Safest Roller Coaster in the West -

Before the season, Keith and Asher had a spirited disagreement over Derek Lowe's prospects for the year. Keith saw a potential Cy Young winner. Asher saw a bust waiting to happen. Lost in their tug of war was Scott's assertion that Lowe was a pitcher prone to 1-2 month stretches of dominance or ineffectiveness, with little in-between, and that they would average out to a decent season. After what was likely Lowe's final start of 2006, Scott broke down the stats of the most reliable roller coaster in baseball, who finished the season with the following numbers:

16-8, 3.63, 123 K, 1.27 WHIP

What did Scott predict Lowe's final line would look like?

14-11, 3.73, 140 K, 1.29 WHIP


September 24 - Keith - Hell's Bells, He's Good! -

Trevor Hoffman just became the all time saves leader. Of course, Lee Smith had held that title for more than a dozen years and has not made it into Cooperstown. So how impressive is Trevor's record, and how does he stack up versus his contemporaries and rank among the best closers of all time?

He's the new saves leader, but is Trevor Hoffman the new savior?


September 23 - Asher - The Stick Has Snapped -

Nick Johnson's season ended this weekend as he broke his leg, and had successful surgery to repair the leg. He will hopefully be ready for next season.

Since Johnson's season is in the books, we can begin our 2006 Prediction Review early. As Asher said in his Washington Nationals preview:

"Nick has struggled through his career with injuries, but when healthy he is an on-base machine with good average and power. If he can stay on the field, look for 25-100 .290/.410/.515 from Nick Johnson this season."

Nick Johnson's final line – 147 G, 500 AB, 100 Runs, 23 HR 77 RBI, .290/.428/.520.

So, at least Asher has gotten one right, for the most part.


September 22 - Asher and Richard - Get it right, people! -

Richard noticed it first. Asher noticed it as well. See if you can spot the problem with the following statement:

"Barry Bonds moved past Jimmie Foxx and into sole possession of fifth place on the career list with his 1,923rd RBI."

Numerous sources reported this as fact, even though it is clear that Bonds is now in sole possession of seventh, not fifth, place. Count'em up - Aaron, Ruth, Anson, Gehrig, Musial, Cobb then Bonds. Seven. So what gives, right?

The lone news source (that we found) that offers any clue at all was reported in the San Jose Mercury News, which published this comment: "It was his 1,923rd career RBI, moving him past Jimmie Foxx and into sole possession of fifth place on the all-time list. The statistic has been counted officially since 1920." Thus, it appears that the erroneous reporting stems from the deletion of Anson and Cobb since they played pre-1920 (Ruth would still be ahead of Bonds even without his pre-1920 stats).

Nevertheless, we have their stats now, even if they weren't counted at the time. And Bonds is seventh. Sorry Bonds fans.

P.S. It was not a good day for Jimmie Foxx, by the way. On the same day, David Ortiz tied his Red Sox season record for homeruns and Bonds passed him on the career RBI list!


September 20 - Tony - Frank the Tank-

Prepare yourselves, baseball fans, because Tony Aubry is about to shock you. Here is Tony, a die hard Yankees fan and a native of Queens New York, and he is about to do something no Yankees fan has ever done . . .

Tony Aubry is about to ask why a player on a team other than the Yankees is so underrated!

Crazy, we know. But Tony has done it, asking why it is that no one is giving Frank Thomas the props he deserves.


September 13 - Asher - The 46+ Club -

How many times do you think a player has hit more than 45 homers in a single season? Go on, guess. You're probably thinking about a dozen guys did it in 1996, then maybe two or three per season for the other 100 plus seasons of Major League Baseball.

As it turns out, 46 home runs in a season is something pretty special.


September - Keith and Asher - Not Dunn Disagreeing-

Is anyone else as unimpressed with Adam Dunn as Asher is? Besides the ability to draw walks and hit homers, Asher doesn't see anything to like in the Reds' giant.

Keith, on the other hand, believes that anyone who doesn't realize that Adam Dunn is a fantastic player is a Dunnce.

Asher, having initially been unimpressed by Adam Dunn, took another look at the Dunner after Keith's analysis, and did an about face. As a result, he crafted the following letter to Reds fans.

Reds fans have responded, oddly enough to Asher's letter, and one Reds fan in particular thinks Asher may not like Adam Dunn.

September 13 - As Wrong as Wrong Can Be-

Despite getting both picked off and caught stealing in an effort to join the 40-40 club on Wednesday, Alfonso Soriano continues to thwart Asher's prediction of what he would accomplish this year (Keith's too).

Speaking of stolen bases, they don't impress Tony all that much. He believes that Asher jumped the gun when he said that Kenny Lofton belongs in Cooperstown.


September 12 - Keith - Beyond the Payroll-

How often do you hear teams crying about an inability to compete because of their payroll? Torii Hunter recently complained about the Twins playing for "minimum wage" compared to the Yankees, despite their opening day payroll of over $63 million. Granted, after the Bobby Abreu deal, the Yankees' 2006 payroll is just over $200 million. But the success of the Yankees franchise is hardly built on money alone; you've got to have intelligence to back up all of that money.


September 7 - Keith - Beyond the Numbers-

Looking only at their numbers from last year, Brad Radke and Carlos Silva look like extremely similar pitchers.  Both are finesse righties for the Twins who don't strike anybody out and would rather allow a homer than walk a batter.  But Wednesday night, Silva pitched 6 innings of 1-hit ball using just 59 pitches, then asked to be removed from the game because he felt sick.  That eventual Twins loss was the third time this year that Silva removed himself from a game.

In contrast, Brad Radke has pitched with a partially dislocated shoulder for the past two seasons, yet has still managed to log 358 innings in 58 starts during that span.

September 5 - Asher - He's a Crook!-

Kenny Lofton needs eight more stolen bases to get to 600 for his career, something only 16 other players have ever done, and of those, only 12 played the majority of their careers in the 20th Century. One of those dozen players isn't a guy usually mentioned among baseball's best thieves, but he should be. Otis Nixon finished with more steals than a lot of guys we normally think of as among the elite basestealers of all time, and he did it basically playing half of a career.


September 5 - Asher - Good News/Bad News-

The hands down, far and away, best offensive players in the AL this season are, according to Asher, a couple of guys named Hafner and Ortiz. This is unfortunate because, for one, they are both designated hitters, and we all know how much MVP voters love to vote for DHs. Second, neither player appears to be headed for the playoffs at this point, and we especially know how much MVP voters like to vote for players who don't make the post-season.

So what player is destined to win the AL MVP this season? The answer will please many, and enrage many more.


We here at have a term of art that we coined some time ago, and we decided it is time to share it with the world. But first, an explanation.


September 3 - Asher - Who's Next to 50?-

After a three homerun performance today in Philadelphia, Ryan Howard becomes the 37th player in major league history to hit 50 homeruns, and the 28th to hit 52 homeruns, in a single season. With Howard in, and presumably headed for 60, the question on Asher's mind becomes – who is next? Today is September 3rd, which means there is roughly a month of baseball left. After having only one player in the last three years break the 50 barrier, there are actually several players with a good chance of breaking though this year.


September 3 - Asher - Everybody Wins!-

Did you realize that the White Sox and Phillies engaged in a win-win-win-win trade this past off-season? The trade only involved the two teams, but actually had a positive effect on no fewer than four teams, indirectly. One of these hidden beneficiaries was the Oakland A's, who have also benefited from another Billy Beane move with regard to the starting rotation.

September 2 - Keith - The WMLB-

Last week, former major league pitcher Jim Bouton announced the launch of an organization that will play by 19th century rules: The Vintage Base Ball Federation. The timing is perfect. Fans don't want to see people who make 40 to 100 times as much money as they do lollygag around the bases. They want to see hustle, hard-nosedness, and people earning the money that they make. Playing once again with a dead ball will bring things like hustle, heart, and strategy to the forefront of this great game.

Keith has another proposal that would serve to turn back the clock on the way the game is played, plus instigate a wide variety of other benefits: form a Women's MLB.


September 1 - Scouting and Moneyball-

One of the things about Moneyball that Asher enjoyed most was Billy Beane/Paul DePodesta/Michael Lewis describing what psychologists refer to as "the confirmation bias." A central element of Billy Beane's "revolution" revolves around de-emphasizing the importance of scouting and emphasizing the importance of crunching numbers. Scouts, as it turns out, often see what they want to see. Asher got a chance to scout a player named Marcus Thames a few years back, and fell prey to this confirmation bias a bit himself...

Back in April, Richard put together an incredibly in-depth analysis of the effectiveness of Billy Beane's 2002 ideal draft. The article caught the eye of Blue Jays upper management and is linked in Wikipedia under "Moneyball." With another minor league season behind us, Richard has further updated his analysis. Decide for yourself whether Richard's new conclusion holds water or whether he has also succumbed to the dreaded confirmation bias.

August 31 - The NL Wild Card -

Not long after Keith decided that the Reds' administrative stupidity would cost them the NL Wild Card, Tony re-examines the NL Wild Card race for himself. His conclusion? Well for starters, the NL West teams aren't even in the running; a sentiment that Richard takes exception to.


August 30 - Keith - The Tomb of the Unknown -

Not to beat a dead horse (AKA the Boston Red Sox), but in perusing Wednesday's Sox/A's boxscore, Keith couldn't help but marvel. With Ortiz and Man-Ram injured, six of the nine batters in the Boston linup were hitting under .260, and none other than Gabe Kapler was hitting fifth. This offense has transformed from being one of the best in baseball into a bad joke.

But perhaps the most telling part of the boxscore was the pitching line. A pitcher listed only as "Unknown" tossed a one-run two-hit seventh inning for the Dead Sox. You would think that a Yankees fan had generated this boxscore if Boston did not literally have such an unknown team right now.

August 28 - Asher - Phinally a Phillie Phan-

Asher woke up this morning in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And to tell you the truth, he could not be more pleased. That is because living in Philadelphia means fulfilling a lifelong dream. He now lives in a city with a baseball team! Living in Philadelphia as he now does, Asher finds that he would probably feel bound to root for the Phillies even if he didn't want to. However, as Asher notes about his new home, it is actually a pleasure to get to watch a home team that features Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins.

August 22 - Keith - Was Hillenbrand Right? -

In July, Shea Hillenbrand wrote on the Toronto clubhouse bulletin board that the "ship was sinking." Well, not only have the Blue Jays gone 12-17 and dropped out of playoff contention over the past month, but pitcher Ted Lilly and manager Jay Gibbons got into a physical altercation on Monday. "Stuff like that's been going on all season over there," claims Hillenbrand. Maybe chemistry does matter.


August 17 - Asher - Is It Time? -

Everyone agrees that bad teams can get better with a change of leadership, but rarely do we realize that good teams can also get better with a change at the helm. The Chicago White Sox finished with a winning record for Jerry Manuel for four straight seasons, yet only after Ozzie Guillen took over did the Sox stop under achieving and win their first World Series in a hundred million years.

With this in mind, Asher ponders a novel idea brought up by a Cardinals fan - is it time for Tony LaRussa to move on?

August 17 - Asher - Even a stopped clock is right twice a day -

On his way to predicting that the Washington Nationals would post an 85-77 record in 2006, and predicting that Alfonso Soriano would suffer a down year after being traded to the Nationals for Brad Wilkerson, and predicting that Ramon Ortiz would lead the league in homeruns allowed, Asher did actually manage to make one somewhat astute observation about the Washington Nationals heading into the 2006 season.

Perhaps Asher's most outlandish statement of all concerning the Nats was "I am not totally convinced that there is a whole lot of difference between Nick Johnson and Todd Helton." At the end of his Nationals First Base analysis, Asher wrote, "look for 25 100 .290/.410/.515 from Nick Johnson this season."

It is obviously to soon to "call it" by any stretch of the imagination, but through August 15th, Nick has played in 114 of the Nationals 119 games, and is batting .289/.422/.519. Additionally, he is on pace to finish the season with 24 homeruns and 81 RBI. Obviously off on the RBI, but pretty close on the other stats.

Asher drew the most fire, however, for comparing Johnson to Helton. Nevertheless, Helton is currently hitting .293/.407/.481. Helton also trails Johnson in homeruns (18 vs. 12) RBI (60 vs. 57) and runs (76 vs. 64). Surprisingly similar, one would have to say.

In this season in which Asher's Washington Nationals predictions were wildly inaccurate, we must give him credit for the one prediction that he appears, to this point, to have nailed.

August 16 - Keith - Narron's a Dunnce -

Jerry Narron shunned conventional wisdom by batting Adam Dunn second 26 times this year. In those 102 at bats, the Dunner went .333/.433/.627. Clearly, he thrives on the predictable fastballs he sees in that slot. So why has Narron stopped hitting him there for the past two weeks?!

Going into Wednesday's games, the NL has nine teams withing 5.5 games of the Wild Card leading Reds, whereas the AL has just two withing 5.5 games of the WC leading White Sox. We can't predict who is going to emerge as the Wild Card winner in either league, but we can tell you that it won't be the Reds in the NL.

August 14 - Keith - Forgot About McCann -

Nowadays, everybody wants to talk like Mauer's the best catcher around. But the stats don't pan out. When you crunch the numbers, you expose all of the blunders. Namely that those people forgot about McCann.

Brian is a year younger than Joe, yet has a higher OPS. He would be leading the NL in hitting (the way Mauer is in the AL) had he enough plate appearances to qualify. McCann also has a higher Predicted OPS and plays in a less accomodating home ballpark.


August 12 - Keith - Win More, No? -

Francisco Liriano may be lost for the year, and many people are writing the Twins off because of this possibility. But there's a player on the Twins that's just as hot as Liriano had been. Since June 1st, Justin Morneau has hit .367 with 20 homers and 65 RBI. His home run on Thursday made him the first Twin since 1987 to hit 30 homers in a season. These Twins could still be in it.


August 10 - A Whole New Humidor? -

The days of Coors Field as a hitter's park appear to be over. We know that part of the reason is because the Rockies are now leaving balls in the humidor for "months" as opposed to varying shorter lengths of time. But Richard suspects foul play beyond what Rockies officials have already revealed. Why isn't this causing the kind of controversy that the humidor's first appearance in 2002 did?


August 7 - Tim Lincecum Scouting Report -

What do you do with an undersized pitcher with a loaded repertoire? Do you start him and hope that he remains healthy, or do you use him as a closer and waste some of his talent? One thing's for sure: you make sure you select him in the draft, something that nine teams decided not to do. But for the Giants, Tim Lincecum is the future.


August 1 - State of the Empire Address -

A slow month for trades ended in a cacaphony of moves on Monday. Most notable among them were the Yankees' acquisitions of Bobby Abreu, Corey Lidle, and Criag Wilson. Tony covers the moves in his State of the Empire Address, and as you might have guessed, the prognosis is a good one.


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