The Brewers may be statistically eliminated from the postseason race, but they still put together a quality win last night against the Padres. An overwhelming sense of hope surrounds this team for the upcoming ’13 season — which certainly bodes well for ticket sales next year.
Here are some thoughts that have been bouncing around my brain this morning.
COUNT ME OUT ON MARCUM
Right-hander Shaun Marcum has struggled through some injuries this year, but has ultimately been a very effective pitcher for the Brewers over the past two years. Fans apparently have his postseason performance seared into their collective memories, though, which allows three starts to overshadow his ability to anchor the Brewers’ rotation when they dealt with injuries and ineffectiveness in both 2011 and 2012.
Does that mean I advocate bringing back Marcum for the 2013 season?
No. And I’ve been rather clear about that since last season. Despite his solid production in a Brewers’ uniform, his injury concerns and repertoire suggest his production could drop in a hurry at a moment’s notice.
One other big concern has been his velocity since returning from a “minor” elbow injury this summer. He has been throwing the baseball noticeably slower, which places even more pressure on his deception and command — meaning his margin for error continues to erode. Take a look at his velocity chart from this season:
The grey lines represent 5 mph intervals, starting with the bottom line being 80 mph. Marcum has obviously seen a decrease in velocity. One has to wonder if that will continue next season, or if his lower velocity signals that he’s not completely over his elbow injury — which is obviously a much larger concern.
Shaun Marcum is a solid, number three starter. He very well may find success with a big league ballclub next season. The risks, however, are far too high for my liking, and I believe the Brewers have the resources and roster that would be better off targeting a true number two starter for 2013.
NL MVP RACE, UPDATED
Here is your updated leaderboard for the National League MVP race:
The important concept to glean from the above leaderboard is not that Ryan Braun is leading in WAR. The difference between the three is so minuscule that a simple number that revolves around single-season defensive numbers and positional adjustments cannot be taken as gospel. As Dave Cameron often says over at FanGraphs. WAR is not absolute. There is almost no difference between a four-win player and a 4.5-win player in a single season.
What is obvious, though, is that Ryan Braun leads almost every offensive category. A rather large gap exists in wOBA and wRC+, as well as ISO and the extra-base hit numbers. Braun has developed into at least an average defender in left field. The only reason Braun isn’t statistically head-and-shoulders ahead of Posey and McCutchen is the positional bumps that the two get for playing catcher and center field, respectively.
Whether you’re in the Braun or Posey camp, there is no incorrect answer. I happen to favor production at the plate over positional importance in a single-season MVP voting (though I highly value positional importance for roster construction), but you may not. That’s okay. The MVP voting criteria do not explicitly state how one should measure “value,” which is why numerous opinions will abound.
GO-GO HAS VALUE
How about this little tidbit to get the “WTF” ions flowing this morning?
Something crazy: Carlos Gomez (+3.5 WAR in 447 PAs). Matt Kemp (+3.8 WAR in 443 PAs). #Brewers
— J.P. Breen (@JP_Breen) October 2, 2012
Carlos Gomez has been one of the most intriguing stories of the second half. He remains within shouting distance of a 20 HR, 40 SB season. He also owns the 7th-highest WAR amongst center fielders in the National League, which is rather significant for someone who did not even see 500 plate appearances this year.
Also, consider this:
1st Half (2012): .233/.280/.423
2nd Half (2012): .278/.320/.492
He has seemingly turned a corner in his development over the course of the second half. Some adjustments at the plate sparked improvement over the summer, but Brewers fans are seeing something more in September. In last night’s game against the Padres, Gomez connected with his second opposite-field home run of the season — and both came this month. That speaks volumes about his improved approach at the plate.
We’re talking about three month’s worth of production, so it’s important to not anoint Gomez the next great center fielder in the National League and award him a long-term extension. What it does mean, however, is that the 26-year-old Gomez is showing legitimate signs that he’s beginning to figure it out at the plate and beginning to tap into the enormous potential that saw him reach the big leagues with the Mets at only 21 years old.
NOBODY LIKES TO SWING AT YOVANI
One of my favorite tidbits surrounding Yovani Gallardo is that opposing batters rarely swing at his offerings. This season, amongst pitchers who threw at least 100 innings, Gallardo induces the lowest swing percentage in all of baseball.
Opposing hitters simply never get comfortable against Gallardo. He hides the baseball well and has a penchant for walking batters, so his opponents simply step into the batter’s box and have largely determined that it’s better to simply wait him out on the mound and raise his pitch counts. After all, he only throws 39.3% of his pitches in the zone.
It’s actually quite impressive that Gallardo has walked only 3.57 batters per nine innings, considering those plate discipline statistics.