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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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May and June
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October through End of 2006
August and September
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August 30 - Keith - The 45/3 Club -

There have been 43 instances in major league history in which a pitcher has recorded 45 or more saves in a single season. In only six of those seasons has a pitcher recorded an earned run average over 3.00. In only one of those seasons has a pitcher recorded an ERA of over 4.00.

This year, Joe Borowski of the Cleveland Indians looks eager to lead these relievers with an ERA up in the stratosphere. Behold The 45/3 Club.

August 27 - Asher - Week 21 Power Rankings -

Asher has a lot to say this week, particularly about the Arizona Diamondbacks, St. Louis Cardinals, and Cincinnati Reds. Also, guess what? The Yankees did exactly what Asher said they would. Meanwhile, the San Diego Padres - Asher's preseason pick to win the World Series - quietly climb both in the Baseball Evolution Power Rankings and in the NL West.

August 27 - Asher - Pop Quiz -

Pop Quiz: Which American League pitcher currently leads the major leagues in hit batsmen and wild pitches - by considerable margins - with 17 of each? Hint: this pitcher has thrown a no-hitter this season, and has been clocked at speeds of over 100 mph.

If you guessed Justin Verlander, you were correct. If that surprises you, you are not alone. Asher was also surprised by this feat, and designed a quiz to determine whether you were as surprised as he was as some other interesting facts and feats around baseball.

If you were not, in fact, surprised by these things, but rather were well aware of these things, then go to the Fan Forum and rub Asher's nose in it.

August 24 - Asher - Ozzies's Sox = Baker's Cubs -

The White Sox were outscored 35-6 in their first three games against Boston this weekend. Clearly, these South Siders are one of the worst teams in baseball, just two years removed from a fabulous 2005 season.

Sound familiar, Chicago fans? It should. The phenomenon that is sweeping the Sox had already swept the North Side of Chicago a few years back: Ozzie Guillen's White Sox are becoming Dusty Baker's Cubs.

August 23 - Asher - Hopping the Line of Death? -

Week Twenty's Power Rankings came out so late, they almost didn't make it in time for Week Twenty-One. Despite doing the Rankings so late, Asher stuck to his guns, and didn't base his rankings on what he already knew had happened this week. Which is shame, as the following discarded team comments demonstrate:

Texas Rangers: "People keep dogging the Rangers w/o Teixeira, but you heard it here first: this team could score 30 runs in a game if they wanted."

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: "People keep dogging Garrett Anderson, but I still see the RBI machine of yesteryear."

Arizona Diamondbacks: "I like Brandon Webb, but he is no Orel Hershiser. In fact, I think he is 42/59ths of the player Hershiser was."

Houston Astros: "Prediction: On Wednesday, August 22nd, Mark Loretta will go 1-for-3 with a single before being lifted for the pitcher as part of a double switch in the Nationals half of the seventh inning. Just a gut feeling."

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

August 22 - Keith - PECOTA Was Right -

I don't have the exact quote, but earlier this week, Ozzie Guillen said that no one could have predicted that the Chicago White Sox would have a season like this one. That is a load of malarkey. The folks at Baseball Prospectus saw this coming with their 72-90 predicted record. As it turns out, those PECOTA projections may have even been a little generous.

August 15 - Asher - Dreams for 2008 -

The other night, while Asher was a-sleeping, he had a dream. It was a dream about baseball in the year Two Thousand and Eight (or Twenty-O-Eight for those who prefer it). In that dream, lots of crazy things happened. Things that could never happen.

Or could they?

August 13 - Asher - Hopping the Line of Death? -

Coming into this week, seventeen teams had fallen below Asher's Line of Death in the Baseball Evolution Power Rankings, with only the Chicago Cubs being able to resurface after the fact. This week, one more team falls victim to the line, and another ascends from its depths. Well, actually two. No, really just one. Asher has confused the situation just a tad. But with the Rockies only five games back, the Yankees now 16 games over .500, the Phillies only a game back in the Wild Card race, and the Cardinals ressurecting Rick Ankiel's career, you can see why some teams might be creeping back above the line.

August 13 - Keith - The Last 300 Game Winner? -

Keith has really grown tired of all the recent speculation that Tom Glavine might be the last 300-game winner. But that appears to be the main theme of much of the coverage since Glavine's 300th win. Keith believes that there will be several more 300-game winners even just from the current stock of active pitchers. Twenty-three pitchers have joined this exclusive club - see who Keith thinks is likely to add to their number.

August 10 - The Readers Take Their Turn -

We here at have been quite regularly praising Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees’ third baseman, while disparaging Derek Jeter, the Yankees’ shortstop. Apparently, our comments have struck a collective nerve amongst Yankees fans, and this summer we have received a remarkable amount of email on the subject.

But that isn't all that is on our readers' minds. A Tigers fan defends the Smoltz/Alexander trade. We also find a lobbyist for Jim Rice, Don Baylor, and Don Newcombe for the Baseball Evolution Hall of Fame, more feedback on the Bagwell Conspiracy (of course), and a defender for Wrigley Field's greatness. Check out or miscellaneous summer mailbag.

If you would like to sound off on anything you read on Baseball Evolution, please email us or join is in the Fan Forum.

August 9 - Keith - Bullpen vs. Pythagoras -

First of all, check out Richard's Top Ten Bullpen ERAs by Team from Thursday's Daily Top 10. Next, examine the following list of teams ranked by their record in one-run games:

10. Kansas City Royals 16-13 (.552)
9. Cleveland Indians 21-17 (.553)
8. LA Angels of Anaheim 15-12 (.556)
7.  Milwaukee Brewers 18-14 (.563)
6. Texas Rangers 17-13 (.567)
5. Detroit Tigers 20-15 (.571)
4. Washington Nationals 20-14 (.588)
3. LA Dodgers 22-15 (.595)
2. Arizona Diamondbacks 25-15 (.625)
1. New York Mets 15-7 (.682)

Popular belief is that a strong bullpen will win you the close contests. But only five teams appear on both of these top ten lists, and only the Mets appear on the top five of both lists. This is hardly an exhaustive study, but it does call the value of a good bullpen into question.

August 8 - Tony and Asher - Battle of the Idiots

With the advent of the Baseball Evolution Fan Forum, we have kind of neglected the Heated Debates section of our website. That isn't the case today. Asher's denouncement of all things Yankees in his Week 18 Power Rankings set off Tony, who has been biting his tongue for far too long, and has decided to strike back.

The discussion centers around whether or not the Yankees are now a playoff calibur team after posting a .727 winning percentage in their past 33 contests. Have an opinion on the matter? Let us know in the aforementioned Baseball Evolution Fan Forum.

August 7th - Keith - 756 -

Barry Bonds finally did what fans have been anticipating for years: he became the all time leader in home runs. Because he is having such a successful season, Bonds has indicated that he will play baseball once again in 2008. This means that 800 homers isn't out of the question, but it still remains to be seen how long his record holds.

Players on Pace to Hit 756 Homers
Homer Graphs: Bonds, Aaron, A-Rod, & Pujols

August 3rd - Keith - Knucklehead Call on the Knuckleball -

Umpire Tom Hallion made one of the dumbest calls ever by a major league umpire last Wednesday. Relief pitcher Charlie Haeger hit Robinson Cano in his right elbow pad with a 69-MPH knucleball in the 8th inning of an 8-1 game. Cano made no reaction towards the mound, and there had been no other hit batsmen in the game, nor warnings issued. Nevertheless, Hallion ejected Haeger on the grounds that the hit batsmen came three pitches after a Jorge Posada home run off Haeger.

Never mind the fact that the two intervening pitches were also balls, as knuckleballers often struggle with their control, or that if a pitcher were going to send a batter a message, that he wouldn't do so with the slowest, most harmless pitch in baseball. Tom Hallion should be fined for this ruling on the grounds that it illustrates a gross lack of understanding about the game of baseball. We can only take solace in the fact that this call was not made against a team in contention for the postseason.

August 1 - Tony - A Year to Remember

No, this isn’t a cheesy Baseball Tonight gimmick, where at the end of every season they show you a bunch of overrated catches and walk off homeruns, and then claim that (insert year here) has been one of the best in recent years. Although we’re not quite at the end of the year yet, a couple of significant milestones have been reached and a couple more should be reached with in the next week or two. And yes, there is that little record that Hank Aaron holds that could be broken any day now.

July 30 - Asher - Resurrection!

Ichiro and Cobb
Ensberg and Gaetti
After trading struggling reliever Dan Wheeler for utility infielder Ty Wigginton, the Houston Astros designated 3B Morgan Ensberg for assignment. Ensberg's Astros career lived and died with the instruction of third base legend Gary Gaetti, who reportedly chided Ensberg for trying to be a slap hitter instead of driving the ball.

When you examine Ensberg's splits with and without Gaetti, you can see that Gaetti's primary influence on Ensberg's career was in the power department. The Gae was able to get Ensberg to increase his power output without adversely affecting his batting average, and possibly causing him to also draw more walks as a result.

This brings into question whether hitters should try to hit for power as a general rule. For an answer, we turn to Asher, Cobb, and Ichiro.

July 30 - Asher - Rangers Trade Kenny Lofton to Indians

Okay, it is time for the first team that had fallen below the Line of Death to make its triumphant return. Like a background dancer in the Thriller video, this team emerges from the grave to reclaim a life that it once had.

The Cubs made a move which, though not apparent at the time, has transformed them into a contender. Apparently, Michael Barrett was simply toxic in the clubhouse, and trading him has done wonders for the Cubs.

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

July 28 - Richard - Ode to Willie Mays

With 754 career home runs, Barry Bonds stands on the precipice of surpassing baseball’s most hallowed record. It seems an appropriate time to take a look back on the career of the greatest Giant ever. I’m talking, of course, about Bonds’ godfather, the “Say Hey Kid,” Willie Mays.

That’s right. Ask any Giant fan, and if he truly knows his game, he’ll tell you that Mays, rather than Bonds, is the greatest Giants player of all-time. Join Richard as he expounds on Mays' greatness.

July 27 - Asher - Rangers Trade Kenny Lofton to Indians

The Cleveland Indians pulled the trigger on a deal with the Texas Rangers today, bringing Kenny Lofton back to Cleveland for his third stint with the Tribe in exchange for minor league catcher Max Ramirez. For the Indians, this looks to be a very good trade. Not only will it pluck the heart-strings of all the Cleveland fans who remember the glory-days with Lofton batting leadoff in front of the Greatest Indians Lineup of All Time, but Lofton's OBP currently stands at .380 and he has stolen bases efficiently this season. More importantly, if Lofton bats leadoff for the Tribe, it allows Grady Sizemore to slide into the second spot in the lineup, where is 18 homeruns and .467 slugging percentage can start doing a little more damage. Adding an aging but still productive bat to the top of this order should only make everybody better.

But was this a good trade for the Rangers?

July 26 - Eric - When the Record Falls...

755. It’s the most powerful number in all of sports. Not 100, not 63, not 99, not 2,632. Sports starts and ends with the number 755. This number soon will cease to have any meaning. Barry Bonds will soon eclipse 755 home runs, meaning the number 755 will be the new number 714 - known by only hardcore baseball fans. Eric Freeman Jr. previews this historic event.

July 25 - Keith - Dave Stewart Interview

Dave Stewart held a contest of skill over at in which various baseball websites competed in their points-based Fantasy Sportsbook.  Baseball Evolution entered, and guess who won?  We've been in the prognostication business for years, and certainly weren't going to be bested by some Johnny-come-lately blog.

The reward for our victory?  An exclusive interview with Dave Stewart himself.  Join us as Smoke discusses various aspects of his terrific career.   

July 24 - Keith - Two Wrongs Are Righted

The Chicago White Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates franchises each took important steps towards educating their fans on their franchise histories this past week. Billy Pierce had his statue erected alongside five other White Sox greats on US Cellular's center field concourse, and Paul Waner finally had his jersey number retired by the Pirates. With this increased exposure for two of basebll's forgotten stars, one in ten Pirate fans might not immediately answer, "Roberto Clemente" when asked who the greatest right fielder in Pirate history was.

July 23 - Asher - Teetering around the Line of Death

Week 16 Power Rankings:

Asher has gotten pressure from numerous sources to shift several teams around the Line of Death that divides the competitive and non-competitive clubs in the Baseball Evolution Power Rankings. Will the Cubs or Rockies rise above the line? Will the A's or the Cardinals plummet to their Deaths? You've waited a week, and we have the answers!

July 18 - Keith - Braves About to Pass the Salt?

Just days after naming rookie sensation Jarrod Saltalamaccia as the teams starting first baseman, the Atlana Braves signed the ageless Julio Franco for the remainder of the 2007 season. We speculated here at Baseball Evolution that the move would precipitate the demotion of rookie 1B Scott Thorman to the minor leagues, and that Franco would be used primarily to pinch-hit. Franco started at first base for two straight games after signing, however, once against southpaw Mike Maroth and once against the right-handed Adam Wainwright. This could mean that Saltalamacchia will be dealt in the coming weeks.

For all you fantasy players out there, this appears to be the way things line up for Atlanta now: The old man will play first and Salty will catch versus southpaws. Against right-handed pitching, Brian McCann should continue to see the majority of starts at catcher. As to who will man first base against righties on any given day, manager Bobby Cox will consult a specially designed magic 8-ball.

In other Braves news, 2B Willie Harris collected six hits and six RBI Saturday while scoring four times. The accomplishment means that Harris' .339 BA and 16 stolen bases might not fly under the radar any more. Chipper Jones, who hit his 16th homer in the same game, still appears anonymous with his .346/.438/.601 line.

July 15 - Asher - Tribe Will Tumble

Last season, Asher was all about the Cleveland Indians. He picked them to win 20 more games than they ultimately did. Now, like a jaded lover, he has been hooting and hollering about a Cleveland Indians collapse all year.

But there is hope for the Tribe to regain Asher's love, as the Chicago Cubs are proving. After writing them off back in May, Asher is now willing to consider pulling the Cubs above the Line of Death if thay make a good deadline deal. No word yet on whether the Jason Kendall trade qualifies.

All this and more in your Week 15 Power Rankings.

July 12- Keith - Gonzalez and Redman Candidates

Many sportswriters are trying to predict who will win the MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year Awards at the season's midway point. But is there a way to predict who will fall on their faces in the second half of the season? Keith figures that doing so is not only more useful, but also a bit easier to accomplish, given a narrower field of candidates to work with:

Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins Candidates
Mark Redman Candidates

July 9 - Eric - State of the Ivy Address -

On Sunday afternoon, the Cubs ended the first half of the season the way they started it: in an inferior opponent’s ballpark, with their ace on the hill, losing by five runs. Carlos Zambrano was out-dueled in the season opener in Cincinnati by Aaron Harang, while LSU graduate Shane Youman, in his second start after replacing DL-bound Zach Duke, pitched impressively to earn his second straight win for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs, other than NL All-Stars Alfonso Soriano and Derrek Lee, will get three days of well-earned rest after winning 12 of their final 16 games to pull within 4.5 games of the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers. There are 75 games left for the North Siders, and with the All-Star Break in full swing in San Francisco, now is a good time to take stock of this roller-coaster first half of a season, and predict what the future holds.

July 4 - Richard - Time to Blow It Up

It's the Fourth of July. Time to enjoy baseball, cookouts, and fireworks. Actually, there is at least one Giants fan who believes that Independence Day fireworks aren't all the explosions baseball fans should see in San francisco this time of the year. That's right, Brian Sabean: With the exception of four untouchable Giants players and one unmoveable player, It's time to start blowing things up.

We're at the approximate halfway point of the season, so it's time to double everybody's counting stats and see where they might wind up. After having done so, we realize yet again that certain player and team stat lines must be typographical errors.

July 2- Keith - All-Star Voting: Fans vs Players

This is usually the time of the year where we berate the fans for voting in the wrong players to the All-Star game. This year, however, the fans got it right for the most part. The relatively new player vote is another story. Oddly enough, the fans and managers outperformed the players in this year's All-Star selection process.

July 2 - Asher - Week 13 Power Rankings -

Asher simply doesn't understand how the Indians continue to hang with the Tigers when Detroit is clearly the superior team. He continues to be befuddled by the hitting of the Chicago White Sox - they would be bad in the deadball era. The Cubs appear to be making a run at the Brewers, but Milwaukee is making a run at the best record in the NL. The Red Sox have not been so dominant lately, but it can be easy to get complacent when you have no competition.

In Asher's opinion, a big part of the Mariners recent run has been Jeff Weaver's pitching. How long can that last? The Yankees should probably be fire selling this month, but will be too proud. The Royals may not be the worst team in the American League, and may actually finish fourth in their division this season. Which is more than he can say for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who seem to have given up, once again, before the All-Star Break.

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

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