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Baseball Evolution

TheHardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 is overflowing with articles on baseball history, the 2006 season, and sabermetric analysis. It also has stats and graphs you can't get anywhere else. Read Tony's Review for more info.

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Previous News and Notes

January and February

October through End of 2006
August and September
June and July
April and May
Richard's DN&N

June and July
April and May


April 30 - Asher - Power Rankings: Week 4 -

The first month of the season is nearly complete, and it has been an odd one so far. Someone is on pace to break the homerun record, but it isn't Albert Pujols. The last place team in the AL East has only 9 wins, but it isn't Tampa or Baltimore. The NL Central has only one team with a winning record, and it isn't St. Louis, or Chicago, or Houston.

At the end of the day, though, the worst team in baseball remains the Washington Nationals. Some things never change.

Without further ado, here are the Week Four Power Rankings. Enjoy and, as always, feel free to comment.

April 28 - Asher - Double, Double, Turbo and Trouble -

How many times has it - two Turbo Tankings in one day - happened? Who knows. But on April 28, 2007, a day that live in infamy, both Jeff Karstens and Jeff Weaver got Turbo Tanked for the Yankees and Mariners, respectively. True, Karstens outing was only technically a Turbo Tanking, as he was hit by a line drive on the first pitch of the game and stayed in to face only one other hitter, but Jeff Weaver gave up enough runs for both players, facing all nine hitters in the Kansas City Royals lineup and retiring only one of them before being lifted for a reliever.

By now you may be asking yourself - what is Turbo Tanking? You can find out here, and if you want to know about other Turbo Tankers, you can see some stat lines at the Compendium. And if you should happen to know of other pitchers who have been Turbo Tanked (we've listed only a few) please, by all means, let us know!

April 23 - Asher - Power Rankings: Week 3 -

Last week, the Arizona Diamondbacks finished atop the Week Two Power Rankings. The D'Backs promptly went 1-6 in Week Three and will likely not regain the top spot again this season.

Giants Report
What a difference two weeks can make. The Giants have won 8 of 11 games, and things are definitely looking up.
The season continues to provide fans with surprises, however, as the once down and out San Francisco Giants rattled off five straight wins, and Barry Zito has gone two games in a row without giving up a run. In the American League, the second best record in the league belongs to none other than the Baltimore Orioles, who currently rank fifth in the league in runs allowed. Meanwhile, the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners finished the week with one win between them after relatively strong starts to the season.

And somehow, after three weeks, the teams of the AL Central have settled into the same positions that they finished 2006 in. Without further ado, here are the Week Three Power Rankings. Enjoy and, as always, feel free to comment.

April 21 - Tony - A-Rod Is Hot: Rookies up to $6 -

Alex Rodriguez has clubbed 12 homers in his first 15 games, which projects to 130 over 162 games. Obviously, he's not going to finish with that many. So what is a reasonable expectation for his final stat line? And how will A-Rod perform in the playoffs, shoult the Yankees reach the postseason for the 13th straight season? Tony Aubry makes his predictions.

April 19 - Asher - My Beuhrle's Back, and You're Gonna Be in Trouble -

Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, who struggled through a career-worst year in 2006, pitched the first no-hitter of 2007 last night, and first for the White Sox since Wilson Alvarez in 1991, against the Texas Rangers. Mark faced the minimum 27 batters after walking only ex-White Sox Sammy Sosa, whom he subsequently picked off.

April 17 - Why Fret Over 755?-

Everywhere we look these days, people are panicking about Barry Bonds breaking Hank Aaron's homerun record. Bonds is a big fat jerk, probably took performance enhancing substances, beat the girlfriend he cheated on his wife with, and may have even evaded some federal income taxes.

In the end, years from now, all of this hype/panic will be made to look silly. Why? Because the Commissioner, the Hammer, Miller, and pundits and fans everywhere are treating Bonds assault on the record as if Bonds will be the last person ever to even approach 756 homeruns, when in fact it is incredibly unlikely that Bonds' record (assuming he gets it) will even last a decade.

April 16 - Asher - Power Rankings: Week 2 -

It's raining, it's pouring, the baseball fans are snoring.

As weather in the Northeast causes rampant cancellations for the second week in a row, very few teams have done anything to separate themselves from the pack, either at the top or the bottom. In fact, even the Washington Nationals managed to win twice in three games against two of the National League's top teams. But never fear - while the weather has forced the Boys of Summer indoors for much of the season so far, and made a mess of the standings, we sort it all out for you in Week Two of the Baseball Evolution Power Rankings.

April 14 - Richard - The Return of Russ Ortiz? -

This Russ Ortiz isnít the same Russ Ortiz who once finished fourth in the Cy Young voting or the one that actually signed that megabucks deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. This Russ Ortiz has been to the bottom of the abyss and stared at the end of his career in the face. Now, however, thanks to the way he spent his winter (and with a bit of help from pitching Guru Leo Mazzone), Ortiz may actually have returned from the depths of the chasm.

April 13 - Asher - The Jim thome Club -

There has been much analysis over the past few years regarding DIPS, BABIP, and who is most responsible for the results of balls put into play. If you find these analyses confusing, join the club - The Jim Thome Club, that is. If it seems like Thome always rests among the league leaders in both walks and strikeouts, there is a good reason for that. He is among just 15 players in the history of baseball who have averaged more than 100 walks and 100 strikeouts per 162 games.

April 11 - Asher - Splitsville: Secret Weapon -

Inspired in part by the petition being circulated calling for Pedro Feliz's removal from the San Francisco Giants, we look at Feliz's 2006 season home/away splits to see if we can divine anything that may affect Feliz's ability to put up such uniquely bad statistics:

Home 315 6 41 24 38 .264 .321 .417
Road 329 16 57 9 74 .225 .244 .438

How amazingly odd! He has a decided road advantage in both homeruns and RBI, but he is a significantly better hitter overall at home!

His home/road splits are almost as odd as the Giants' devotion to playing him everyday!

Pedro Feliz: Out-Making Machine

April 11 - Asher - The Pace -

It is always fun to keep up with the pace players are on early in the season, because they can be pretty absurd given the small sample size.

That said, check out the pace Miguel Cabrera is on so far:

So Far 7 24 8 12 4 3 11 6 2 0 0 .500 .594 1.042
Pace 162 555 185 278 93 69 255 139 46 0 0 .500 .594 1.042

Gotta work on those stolen bases, Miguel!

April 9 - Richard - Giants Report v 1.1 -

The Giants completed play on Sunday with a record of just 1-5 Ė dead last in the NL West Ė while scoring an average of just 2.33 runs per game. Barry Bonds is hitting .222 and Barry Zito is 0-2 with an 8.18 ERA. The bullpen, suspect at best to begin the season, has been predictably lit up as well, surrendering 11 runs in 18 innings on 26 hits and producing an ERA of 5.50 and a 1.77 WHIP. Opposing batters collectively have hit .317 against them.

Things are not looking good.

April 9 - Tony - Cheating's Nothing New-

Steroids have become a big issue in baseball, and Senator George Mitchell has gone on a witch hunt, trying to find dirt on any player who has used he stuff. What many of us donít understand (maybe even Mitchell himself doesn't) is that there are probably a lot more witches than people think. While Baseball is an American pastime, so is cheating.

April 5 - Tony - Dice-K Scouting Report

Matsuzaka-mania has finally hit the US, and it hit well; at least according to Red Sox fans. Matsuzaka made his highly anticipated debut today in Kansas City, and he was electric. Matsuzaka struck out 10 batters, 6 of them window shopping. He allowed six hits, one of them a HR on a cutter that didnít seem to cut, and only walked one. All in all, it was a great start to Matsuzakaís career.

Read Tony's complete Scouting Report.

April 5 - Guest Contributor Barry Schechter - A Stain on Mudville -

Oh, Iím sure youíve heard tales of a man known as Case
Whoís had trouble getting from home plate to first base.
Maybe this will end with a better conclusion
Instead of a story of a team that keeps losiní.

The day was so sunny, the type where you might
Go to the park and fly a cool kite
Or maybe play kickball, frisbee or soccer.
Not the kind of day set up for a shocker.

Read the full poem

April 4 - Asher - A Plea to the Cubs

Somewhere out there, the Greatest Baseball Team of All Time possesses the Greatest Shortstop since Honus Wagner, but has him stuck at third base. The Fans of the Greatest Team of All Time have been unimpressed with the performance of this Great Player, booing him and ridiculing him at every opportunity. The Great Playerís teammates have also been less than enthusiastic about him, refusing to openly support him or rebuke the fans that deride him. The Great Playerís position is occupied by an Inferior Player, both at bat and afield, and yet the Fans lavish him with praise, considering him The Next DiMaggio.

April 2 - Eric - Opening Day Diary-

Weíve had to suffer through the NCAA Tournament, crappy NBA action, and hours upon hours of Mel Kiper Jr. earning his paycheck in between the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft. But baseball season is finally here, and to celebrate, Eric will be composing a running diary of all of the events of the first day, focusing on the Chicago Cubs-Cincinnati Reds contest. ITíS FINALLY HERE!!!

Big Z, Joe Morgan, Ryan Freel, Curt Schilling, Elijah Dukes, and the Dunner are just some of the notable players in Eric Freeman's Opening Day Diary.

Opening-Day Pace-Setting Running-Joke - After one game, Albert Pujols is on pace for 324 walks, but no hits, this season.

April 2 - Eric - Cubbie Blues -

What a difference one year can make. The Cubs have worked a lot harder this spring while getting used to Piniella. And historically, the Cubs are solid after 90-loss seasons and in the first years of a new manager. Soriano batting leadoff will scare pitchers into making mistakes, knowing that they have to deal with D-Lee, A-Ram, and most dangerously, M-Murt.

March 31 - Keith - The Scoop on the Blue Jays -

Nabbing second place from the Red Sox last year put the Toronto Blue Jays the highest they have been in the AL East since they won it all in 1993. Moreover, their 93 efficiency wins last season tied them for the second most in baseball. They added one of the top hitters of 2006 in the offseason, and reached into the January bargain bin for some pitching depth, So what's not to like?

Age and injuries could be a factor yet again for this team. Several career years led Toronto to those 87 wins last year. Most importantly, team management has made some very questionable roster moves this spring that will prove detrimental to its success.

After much research, it appears that Lyle Overbay's glovework at first base is detrimental as well.

March 30 - Asher - Potential 2007 Milestones

We all know about Barry Bonds and his chase for 755. But there are many other potential milestones which may be reached this season. Craig Biggio heads up an extensive list of players hanging around for these notable achievements.

March 30 - Asher - Splitsville - Luke Scott -

The 2007 baseball season starts in earnest on Monday, much to the delight of baseball fans every where. The start of the season means, of course, that spring is here, summer is right around the corner, and the cold weather will soon be gone for good.

For those of us at, the start of the season means the return of News and Notes, our daily look at odds and ends from around the league.

And so, as we begin our last baseball-less weekend before the 2007 season, we kick off News and Notes with a Splitsville tid-bit for all you Astros fans who think Luke Scott may be the next great thing. Scott had 249 plate appearances with the Astros last season, and posted an astounding 1.047 OPS. Just for fun, let's take a peek at his home/road splits:

Home 110 15 36 10 4 8 25 12 14 .375 .455 .812 1.267
Away 139 16 36 9 2 2 12 18 29 .305 .403 .466 .869

Make no mistake about it - a .400 OBP on the road is fantastic. Nevertheless, his numbers are clouded by his performance at Minute Maid Park.

When your Home slugging percentage is almost as high as your Road OPS, red flags start to pop up everywhere.

Complete Houston Astros Preview

March 28 - Asher - Pitching, Pitching, Pitching, Pitching, Pitching...

The Atlanta Braves' 2005 National League East division title was probably their most impressive of the Braves 14 straight division titles. With a huge crop of youngsters and the least impressive rotation the Braves had sported in a year and a half, the Braves rebounded from being in last place after 63 games to win the division. For that reason, 2006 was the year that baseball experts somewhat unanimously determined that they were going to stop betting against the Braves and pick them to win the NL East until the Braves proved them wrong.

That only took a year. The 2006 Braves learned a lot about why their franchise had been so successful for 15 years, and if they are to return to the top of the division, the 2007 version will have to show what they have learned.

March 28 - Keith - Good Trades for the Good Guys?

White Sox GM Kenny Williams made some pretty unpopular moves this offseason. Then again, so too did Florida GM Larry Beinfest during the previous winter. The Marlins, of course, treaded water in the standings while lowering their payroll and positioning themselves much better for the future. Have the White Sox done the same?

Moving Freddy Garcia definitely helped the salary issue, and a host of new young pitching that includes Gavin Floyd, Gio Gonzalez, John Danks, Nick Masset, and Andy Sisco provides the franchise with a very promising future. So the real questions are whether the Sox can win another 90 games this season and whether that level of performance will be enough to get them back into the playoffs.

March 24- Keith - Is the Fruit Ripe Yet?

Keith has predicted the Pittsburgh Pirates to win 239 games over the past three seasons. In actuality, they've only managed 206. That means Keith misses by an average of eleven wins per season. Not good.

So is this the year Keith finally takes a sip of reality and admits that the Pirates will never significantly eclipse 70 wins in a season? Don't count on it. Not now that the Pirates have finally committed to young players rather than rifling through other team's trash bins and signing any bum they find to an eight-figure contract.

March 19 - Asher - Angels Rise to the Top

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have spent the last 12 years spending money rarely but wisely on free agents and cultivating a talent rich minor league system. It is rare to have both, and the results have been sublime - eight winning seasons, two division titles, three playoff berths, and a World Series Championship.

The Angels would seem to have one of the best run franchises in Major League Baseball. Which begs the question - how did they allow themselves to be bamboozled by Gary Matthews, Jr.?

March 18 - Keith - Oakland Timber

Like any other offseason, the A's lost big in free agency, but they also got hit with a big injury this time. Frank Thomas and Barry Zito left for greener pastures (money, not uniform color), and Mark Kotsay's back surgery could render him inoperable for the whole season. The acquisition of Mike Piazza softens the blow to the offense, but nothing has been done to address the other deficiencies. Usually, the A's can fill holes at the major league level by utilizing their well-stocked system. The Oakland farm is as impressive as ever, but most of the impact players are at least one more year away from arrival. For the most part, the club is relying upon oft-injured players staying healthy all season for a change.

If Oakland doesn't have an inordinate number of things go right for them in 2007, they will likely succumb to a substantial down year from their assembly line of 90+ win seasons.

March 17 - Asher - More Humid; Less Rocky

After 13 years of watching hitters put up fantastic numbers, only to see their pitchers get lit up constantly, the Great Colorado Humidor Experiment appears to have tamed, somewhat, the Mile-High effects of playing in Denver. What this means, Rockies fans can only hope, is that the Rockies can finally compete with the rest of the National League. If last year's roster is any indication, the Rockies once again have excellent hitting. But will the pitching finally arrive?

March 17 - Asher - Royal Blues

The Kansas City Royals have lost 100 or more games in four of the last five seasons. Only the Philadelphia Phillies of 1936 to 1942, who did it five out of six seasons, and the Washington Senators (Part II) of 1961 to 1964 have bettered this feat.

That being said, the 2007 Kansas City Royals really do look much better than 2006 counterparts. If Emil Brown, David DeJesus and Mark Teahan can log 150 games each in the outfield, Alex Gordon and Ryan Shealy can hold their own in the infield, and Angel Berroa can post even a slightly below average season at shortstop, the 2007 Royals may surprise some people.

By winning 70 games.

March 13 - Keith - 2007 Padres Preview

The San Diego Padres spent money this offseason as wisely as any other team in baseball. The one questionable move was Greg Maddux's team-leading $10 million salary (odd, because he is not even among the squad's top five players), but that's hardly a move that is going to set the franchise back. They have ostensibly filled every hole on the team besides leadoff hitter, and still have a lot of payroll flexibility for insurance.

Having won the NL West two years in a row, albeit unimpressively both times, do the Padres remain the team to beat in the senior circuit's best division?

March 12 - Asher - 2007 Reds Preview

Pete Rose says he wants to manage in baseball again. Despite Rose's claims to the contrary, the Cincinnati Reds are the only ballclub that would possibly entertain such a notion were he eligible. But are these Cincinnati Reds a team worth managing?

2007 finds the Reds in the curious position of having a reasonably strong pitching staff to go with a suspect batting order, a condition the Reds have not experienced since the 1990s. In a seemingly wide-open NL Central, the Reds could easily contend for the title, but such contention would require many questions to be answered in their favor.

March 7 - Asher - 2007 Indians Preview

If you havenít already, take a careful look at the 2006 Indians regular season record, and then their Pythagorean Projection. There is a discrepancy of 11 games between the two. The explanation for a teamís failure to live up to its Pythagorean Projection is rather simple Ė the team underachieved. More specifically, the team scored a lot of runs, but also committed a lot of errors, had an ineffective pitching staff, and simply made too many mistakes.

As it turns out, that is exactly what happened to the 2006 Cleveland Indians, a team that was second in the majors in runs scored, but also had the fifth most errors in Major League Baseball. If offense wins games, but pitching and defense win championships, the 2006 Indians were built for the former, not the latter, and actually ended up doing neither.

March 7 - Tony - 2007 Mets Preview

The New York Mets won the NL East by a cozy 12 games last year, the widest margin of any division over the past two seasons. But with their players being roughly the same age as their coaches and a starting rotation in utter shambles, there are still questions as to whether the Mets can repeat as division winners. Tony answers these questions in his New York Mets Preview.

March 5 - Asher - 2006 Cardinals Worst World Series Team of All Time?

In his 2007 St. Louis Cardinals Team Preview, Keith stated that the 2006 Cardinals "will go down in history as the worst team to have ever won the World Series." Asher was immediately skeptical of this claim, as there have been lots of World Series, so he did a little research.

March 4 - Richard - 2007 Giants Preview

Fielding one of the oldest teams in baseball history played a large role in the San Francisco Giants' ultimate failure in 2006. The team was so old, in fact, that they became the first team in history to field a trio of forty-year-old outfielders.

Following the conclusion of the season, Giants managing general partner Peter Magowan vowed the team would get younger and healthier. GM Brian Sabean admitted that the organizational strategy of surrounding Bonds with veterans had been flawed and promised to change paths. With 11 players filing for free agency at seasonís end, the team did in fact get an overhaul, and they did actually get younger

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