Central Intelligence

Week 9: NL Central May Review

 

nl central standings

NL Central Power Rankings Week 9

*please note: all stats outside of team records only include games played through 5/31/14.

1. Milwaukee Brewers (last week: 2)

34-23, 1st Place, 240 RS, 216 RA (+24)

The Brewers have won 4 of their last 5 games.  That was coming on the heels of a streak of going just 3-7 in their previous 10 games.

The pitching in Milwaukee has come back down to Earth after a terrific start to 2014.  In April, the Brewers 2.92 ERA was the 3rd best in the MLB, and their 1.11 WHIP was tied for the best in the MLB.  In May, their 4.12 ERA is tied 24th, and their 1.37 WHIP is tied for 25th.

The trio of Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy, and Ryan Braun has been absolutely tremendous for the Brewers.  Those three players make the Brewers the only team in the NL to have three players with an OPS+ of 135 or better (minimum 150 PA).  The Athletics are the only other team in the MLB that can make that claim.

Starting Pitchers in May

Brew Sp

Who’s Hot (month of May)

  • Rickie Weeks: .413/.449/.609, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 196 wRC+, 0.7 WAR
  • Carlos Gomez: .354/.448/.598, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 7 SB, 191 wRC+, 1.5 WAR
  • Jonathan Lucroy: .347/.416/.505, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 157 wRC+, 1.4 WAR
  • Ryan Braun: .323/.354/.548, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 148 wRC+, 0.6 WAR
  • Khris Davis: .281/.330/.584, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 148 wRC+, 0.7 WAR
  • Wily Peralta: 6 GS, 2.87 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 29 K, 11 BB, 0.4 WAR
  • Kyle Lohse: 5 GS, 3.18 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 19 K, 2 BB, 0.3 WAR
  • Will Smith: 13.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 18 K, 3 BB, 0.6 WAR
  • Rob Wooten: 12.2 IP, 0.79 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 10 K, 3 BB, 0.2 WAR

Who’s Cold (month of May)

  • Lyle Overbay: .161/.232/.242, 10 for 62, 18 K, 30 wRC+, -0.6 WAR
  • Scooter Gennett: .247/.277/.390, 17 for 88, 71 wRC+, 0.2 WAR
  • Yovani Gallardo: 5 GS, 5.79 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 21 K, 14 BB, -0.4 WAR
  • Marco Estrada: 6 GS, 5.05 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 34 K, 14 BB, -0.6 WAR
  • Francisco Rodriguez: 11.0 IP, 5.73 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 8 K, 2 BB, -0.3 WAR
  • Tyler Thornburg: 12.0 IP, 6.00 ERA, 2.17 WHIP, 8 K, 11 BB, -0.2 WAR

Injuries (click to expand)

Brew Hurt

Upcoming Schedule

  • Mon (7:20), Tues (8:10) vs Minnesota
  • Wed (8:10), Thurs (8:10) at Minnesota
  • Fri (7:05), Sat (4:05), Sun (1:35) at Pittsburgh

2. St. Louis Cardinals (last week: 1)

30-27, 2nd Place, 4.0 GB, 218 RS, 205 RA (+13)

At the end of last week, the Cardinals had won 9 of 11 games.  This week wasn’t so kind, as the Cardinals went 2-4, losing series at home to the Yankees and Giants.

Like the Brewers, the Cardinals pitching wasn’t nearly as good in May as they were in April.  In April, the Cardinals 2.98 ERA and 1.14 WHIP were both the 4th best in the MLB.  In May, their 3.84 ERA is only good for 17th best in the MLB.  They might have been a bit unlucky however, as they did post a 1.20 WHIP, which is tied for the 4th best in the MLB.

The Cardinals called up top prospect outfield Oscar Taveras over the weekend, and he hit a HR in his debut.  Taveras was hitting .325/.373/.524 with 7 HR, 40 RBI, and 132 wRC+ at AAA.  He should help bolster the Cardinals lineup.

Starting Pitchers in May

cards sp

Who’s Hot (month of May)

  • Matt Carpenter: .307/.383/.412, 9 RBI, 126 wRC+, 0.8 WAR
  • Allen Craig: .291/.354/.427,3 HR, 19 RBI, 123 wRC+, 0.5 WAR
  • Johnny Peralta: .278/.349/.443, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 124 wRC+, 0.9 WAR
  • Kolten Wong: .333/.418/.417, 6 RBI, 5 SB, 142 wRC+, 0.5 WAR
  • Matt Adams: .329/.333/.471, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 118 wRC+, 0.5 WAR
  • Michael Wacha: 6 GS, 2.43 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 31 K, 9 BB, 0.7 WAR
  • Adam Wainwright: 6 GS, 3.57 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 39 K, 6 BB, 0.9 WAR
  • Lance Lynn: 5 GS, 2.65 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 21 K, 12 BB, 0.6 WAR
  • Pat Neshek: 12.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.33 WHIP, 11 K, 0 BB, 0.5 WAR

Who’s Cold (month of May)

  • Mark Ellis: .196/.283/.239, 9 for 46, 33 wRC+, -0.1 WAR
  • Carlos Martinez: 12.2 IP, 7.11 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 8 K, 5 BB, -0.3 WAR
  • Randy Choate: 6.2 IP, 14.85 ERA, 2.25 WHIP, 9 K, 3 BB, -0.1 WAR

Injuries (click to expand)

Cards Hurt

Upcoming Schedule

  • Mon (8:00), Tues (7:15) vs Kansas City
  • Wed (8:10), Thurs (8:10) at Kansas City
  • Fri (7:07), Sat (1:07), Sun (1:07) at Toronto

3. Cincinnati Reds (last week: 3) 

26-29, 3rd Place, 7.0 GB, 192 RS, 203 RA (-11) 

The Reds had a tough month of May, but they did finish the month and start June off on the right track.  The Reds matched their longest winning streak of 2014, at 3 games (they did it twice before: April 15-18 & April 22-24).

The Reds offense was absolutely horrendous in May.  Their 86 runs scored were the fewest in the MLB in May.  For the season, they have scored just 188 runs, which is the 2nd fewest in the MLB.

Todd Frazier (.269/.339/.488, 10 HR, 126 wRC+) and Devin Mesoraco (.351/.396/.680, 8 HR, 201 wRC+) have both been tremendous on a very bad offensive team.  They have combined to hit 18 of the Reds 47 homers (38%).

Johnny Cueto continues to be the best pitcher in the MLB.  His 1.68 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 3.1 WAR, and .463 OPS against are the best in the MLB.  He is also 2nd in the MLB in strikeouts with 92.

Ken Rosenthal seems to believe that the Reds could listen to offers for Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake or Aroldis Chapman.

Starting Pitchers in May

Reds SP

Who’s Hot (month of May)

  • Todd Frazier: .291/.351/.515, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 2 SB, 138 wRC+, 1.2 WAR
  • Brandon Phillips: .297/.327/.496, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 124 wRC+, 0.9 WAR
  • Devin Mesoraco: .239/.286/.609, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 142 wRC+, 0.5 WAR
  • Johnny Cueto: 6 GS, 2.25 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 42 K, 7 BB, 1.1 WAR
  • Mike Leake: 6 GS, 2.16 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 30 K, 9 BB, 1.1 WAR
  • Jonathan Broxton: 10.1 IP, 0.87 ERA, 0.48 WHIP, 5 K, 2 BB, 0.2 WAR
  • Aroldis Chapman: 9.0 IP, 2.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 16 K, 3 BB, 0.3 WAR

Who’s Cold (month of May)

  • Jay Bruce: .146/.222/.171, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 6 for 41, 19 K, -6 wRC+, -0.6 WAR
  • Ryan Ludwick: .231/.320/.308, 15 for 65, 20 K, 77 wRC+, -0.1 WAR
  • Zack Cozart: .258/.305/.292, 23 for 89, 14 K, 61 wRC+, 0.3 WAR
  • Skip Schumaker: .246/.300/.269, 16 for 65, 12 K, 77 wRC+, -0.3 WAR
  • Tony Cingrani: 3 GS, 5.29 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 14 K, 8 BB, -0.3 WAR
  • Sean Marshall: 7.2 IP, 10.57 ERA, 2.48 WHIP, 9 K, 6 BB, -0.1 WAR
  • Manny Parra: 7.2 IP, 7.04 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, 11 K, 5 BB, 0.0 WAR

Injuries (click to expand)

reds hurt

Upcoming Schedule

  • Tues (7:10), Wed (7:10), Thurs (12:35) vs San Francisco
  • Fri (7:10), Sat (4:10), Sun (1:10) vs Philadelphia

4. Pittsburgh Pirates (last week: 4)  

26-30, 4th Place, 7.5 GB, 212 RS, 244 RA (-32) 

The Pirates have played pretty good baseball over the last week and a half.  They are 8-4 in their last 12 games, including taking three of four over the weekend at Dodger Stadium.

The Pittsburgh pitching has been the worst in the NL Central.  Their 3.94 ERA is 19th in the MLB in 2014.  They did improve a bit in May, as their team ERA was 3.81 for the month (15th in the MLB).

Andrew McCutchen is looking very good again for the Pirates.  He hit 2 HR on Sunday night at Dodger Stadium, and is now hitting .307/.427.470 with 6 HR, 147 wRC+, and 2.3 WAR.

The Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco could be in the majors soon.  The Pirates have moved him to the leadoff spot at AAA, a position they are grooming him for in the majors.  Polanco is hitting .a ridiculous 349/.411/.552 with 6 HR, 46 RBI, 12 SB, and 168 wRC+ at AAA.

Starting Pitchers in May

Bucs SP

Who’s Hot (month of May)

  • Andrew McCutchen: .310/.435/.380, 9 RBI, 4 SB, 140 wRC+, 1.1 WAR
  • Josh Harrison: .317/.356/.488, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 137 wRC+, 0.7 WAR
  • Neil Walker: .313/.394/.464, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 144 wRC+, 0.6 WAR
  • Gabby Sanchez: .302/.351/.547, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 150 wRC+, 0.4 WAR
  • Ike Davis: .326/.408/.453, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 143 wRC+, 0.3 WAR
  • Starling Mare: .265/.321/.459, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 118 wRC+, 0.7 WAR
  • Charlie Morton: 6 GS, 2.41 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 24 K, 14 BB, 0.3 WAR
  • Tony Watson: 13.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 17 K, 5 BB, 0.4 WAR

Who’s Cold (month of May)

  • Jordy Mercer: .225/.244/.350, 18 for 80, 15 K, 63 wRC+, 0.1 WAR
  • Jose Tabata: .288/.295/.356, 17 for 59, 8 K, 79 wRC+, -0.1 WAR
  • Travis Snider: .184/.326/.237, 7 for 38, 10 K, 65 wRC+, -0.2 WAR
  • Edinson Volquez: 5 GS, 5.67 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 20 K, 14 BB, -0.6 WAR
  • Bryan Morris: 12.2 IP, 5.68 ERA, 1.97 WHIP, 7 K, 10 BB, -0.9 WAR

Injuries (click to expand)

Bucs hurt

Upcoming Schedule

  • Mon (10:10), Tues (10:10), Wed (6:40) at San Diego
  • Fri (7:05), Sat (4:05), Sun (1:35) vs Milwaukee

5. Chicago Cubs (last week: 5)

20-34, 5th Place, 12.5 GB, 207 RS, 225 RA (-18)

The poor Cubs are already 12.5 games back.  Like the Reds, it has been their offense that has been absolutely brutal.  The Cubs rank 26th in the MLB in runs (207), 28th in AVG (.233), 28th in OBP (.300), and 26th in SLG (.366).

For the Cubs, it is time to start building towards next year.  I believe it would be in the Cubs best interest to trade Jeff Samardzija.  His value is at an all-time high, and the Cubs need more pieces to build a winner.

Starting Pitchers in May

Cubs SP

Who’s Hot (month of May)

  • Luis Valbuena: .295/.389/.513, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 148 wRC+, 0.9 WAR
  • Anthony Rizzo: .255/.388/.479, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 0.7 WAR
  • Junior Lake: .273/.313/.477, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 3 SB, 112 wRC+, 0.4 WAR
  • Jeff Samardzija: 5 GS, 1.32 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 33 K, 8 BB, 1.1 WAR
  • Jason Hammel: 6 GS, 3.44 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 35 K, 8 BB, 1.2 WAR
  • Brian Schlitter: 14.2 IP, 1.23 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 10 K, 4 BB, 0.2 WAR
  • Neil Ramirez: 9.2 IP, 0.93 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 16 K, 3 BB, 0.2 WAR

Who’s Cold (month of May)

  • Emilio Bonifacio: .214/.257/.301, 22 for 103, 17 K, 48 wRC+, -0.1 WAR
  • Wellington Castillo: .229/.255/.310, 18 for 84, 26 K, 49 wRC+, -0.1 WAR
  • Ryan Kalish: .205/.271/.295, 9 for 44, 8 K, 53 wRC+, -0.4 WAR
  • Darwin Barney: .229/.255/.313, 11 for 48, 11 K, 44 wRC+, -0.1 WAR
  • Travis Wood: 6 GS, 6.62 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 27 K, 14 BB, 0.2 WAR

Injuries (click to expand)

cubs hurt

Upcoming Schedule

  • Tues (8:05), Wed (8:05), Thurs (7:05) vs NY Mets
  • Fri (4:05), Sat (4:05), Sun (2:20) vs Miami

 

NL Central Players of the Month and Week

Players of the Month in May

  • Carlos Gomez, Brewers: .354/.448/.598, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 7 SB, 191 wRC+, 1.5 WAR

  • Jeff Samardzija, Cubs: 5 GS, 1.32 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 33 K, 8 BB, 1.1 WAR

Players of the Week

  • Khris Davis, Brewers: .522/.577/.1.130, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 364 wRC+, 0.9 WAR

  • Johnny Cueto, Reds: 13.2 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 10 K, 3 BB, 0.66 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 0.4 WAR

See previous players of the week here.

21 thoughts on “Week 9: NL Central May Review

  1. My skepticism about WAR as a legitimate statistic continues. How in the world does Jason Hammel have a higher WAR in May than either Samardzija or Cueto? Edwin Jackson, with an ERA over 4 is basically the equivalent WAR of Adam Wainwright? In fact if you add up WAR the Cubs have far and away the best rotation in the NL Central. Surely, you jest? It makes absolutely no sense.

      • WAR isn’t a great statistic to use for a monthly assessment — bad/good players can have hot/cold streaks that last 5-10 games. I do put more stock in the stat over a full season.

    • The fact that everyone calculates it differently would be my reason of occasional pause. The difference on batters generally isn’t TOO vast (Votto had 6.4 bWAR/6.1 fWAR last year)… but Fangraphs uses FIP to calculate WAR for pitchers while Baseball-Reference uses ERA.

      So you get things like Johnny Cueto leading all MLB pitchers in bWAR with 3.2, but being 9th in fWAR with 2.0 while Corey Kluber leads MLB in fWAR with 2,8 despite being 15th in bWAR with 1.9.

      A bigger jump would be Mike Leake, who is 19th in pitcher bWAR, but 51st in pitcher fWAR.

  2. For May, the Reds gain 1 game in the loss column on the Brewers. However for the season the Reds are 2 in hand to the Brewers.

    The Cards gain 3 in the LC to the Brewers in May and are even with the Brewers in games played for the season.

    Pirates gain 1 game to Brewers in the LC for May and have one game in hand to them for the season.

    All in all a 13-15 month really didn’t hurt the Brewers that badly and something of a missed opportunity for the rest of the division except for the Cards.

    • Good observation on the Brewers… that was a time to make ground. I keep seeing comments about how many games behind the Reds are behind the Cards, and I guess you have to catch second place first… but the Brewers are strongly positioned yet. Of course, it’s also fair to view the Reds as a WC team at best.

    • I will say this… Brewers fans were getting really nervous about the Cards. Local radio was handing out questions like “How long until the Brewers are out of first place?”

      • That walk off win last week leading to the Brewers finishing out the month winning 4 of 5 was big in keeping the month from being a disaster or at least near disaster for the Brewers.

        Looking at the WC, it was a big positive for the Reds that the Pirates went into LA and won a couple of games because the Reds can take care of business themselves versus the Pirates but are going to need help from the league to get by the Dodgers.

        At this point, I don’t see the Central as strong enough this year versus the league to end up with both WC spots. That means at the least, the Reds have to get past either the Brewers or Cards to be a playoff qualifier.

        • That’s what I was looking at earlier too. It seems like NL Central might be the weakest division in baseball right now. The Reds would be 5th place in 4 of the other 5 divisions right now. The NL Central might not get one of the wildcard spots. The Giants or Dodgers will take one of the wildcard spots.

          That means the Reds are competing with the Marlins, Nationals, Cardinals, and Rockies for the final spot. I just don’t see the Reds adding enough to compete with them, because they all probably will add pieces. I can see the trade deadline pass up and Walt saying “There were some possibilities out there, but we felt best sitting put with what we had. We just need to get everyone healthy and for guys to play to their history and we’ll compete.”

  3. Looking at the June Schedule for the Reds…well OUCH, we play the top teams in 3 divisions and have some tough road games. We get 3 vs. Cubs and Philly which are our only games that might be considered soft.

  4. Wow, I didn’t even notice it until I read the Reds section. Why is Trevor Bell not on the 60-day? Guy’s been hurt pretty much all year, and does anyone actually want him back? If the problem with getting Jumbo on the roster is that he’s not on the 40-man, then why not make space on the 40-man by putting Bell on the 60-day?

    Or are we just hoping his eventual return will bolster the bullpen with his 67.50 ERA?

  5. Reds are a dangerous team if the VIPs can stay healthy. Will be interesting to see if they can start scoring more runs, and if they will end up shopping a pitcher to bring in a bat or two.

    • VIPs were healthy at the end of last year and the beginning of this year. Did not look impressive offensively.

  6. While we are questioning statistal measures, I question the validity of BABIP as it is frequently used; such as, league average BABIP is .300 so some player is a bit lucky or unlucky if his figure deveiates much from that number.

    It appears to me that the BABIP of individual players is subjec to a distribution curve just as batting average and ERA are. Maybe its standard deviations are smaller or it somehow has an abnormal distribution, but the better players have better better BABIP.

    Some examples using lifetime stats (no small distribution or single season aberration):
    Carew .359
    Gwynn .341
    Boggs .344
    Votto .357
    Miguel Cabrera .346
    And, he of the famous Mendoza line:
    Mario Mendoza .251
    Who could have guessed that Mario was a HOF hitter, just 100 points unlucky?

    How about some pitchers with career BABIP well below .300?
    Koufax .259
    Gibson .273
    Seaver .262
    Ryan .269
    Spahn .261
    Ford .264
    Rivera .265

    Or some Reds pitchers from the not too distant past when the pitching staff seemed dedicated to improving hitters BABIP?
    Claussen .314
    Haynes .317
    Wagner .323
    Serafini .340
    Belisle .327
    Some of these career statistics should have been subject to smaller sample size.

    If a player hits .330 and strikeouts don’t factor into BABIP, but do count against batting average, doesn’t he have to have a BABIP significantly higher than .300 (without hitting a ton of homeruns to make up for the strikeouts)?

    • Seems to me the fact K’s aren’t accounted for in a hitter’s BABIP depreciates the value of the statistic. I understand that by definition the ball is not in play on a K but if somebody strikes out at an abnormally high rate versus the league average comparing his BABIP to others without a cross reference is going to give an iffy result.

    • For hitters, BABIP is indeed seen as, to a certain extent, higher for good hitters, who hit more line drives, for example. It’s used as a measure of luck by comparing not to MLB average, but to the hitter’s career average.

      Pitchers are seen as having little control over their BABIP, but while it seems clear to me they have less control over it than do hitters, like you, I’m a bit skeptical about the claim that they have little to no control.

  7. The Brewers will fade, I do not believe in them at all. As the season progresses the teams with the good rotations start to move. This is what makes teams like LA, SF, Atl, St.L. the dangerous teams. The Reds are closer in their rotation to those teams than to the Brewers. The Brewers have perhaps 2 above average pitchers and the Reds have 4 or possibly 5. The hitters will have to hit better and those that are doing well need to keep some semblance of what they are doing. A few years ago the Giants were supposedly dead and they went on to with the WS. I would argue that the race has just begun.

    • Unfortunately, the Brewers did not start their fade tonight. If they play .500 the for the remainder of their games, they end up at 87 wins. The Reds would have to play .570 for their remaining games (61W in 107 games) to get to 87 wins.

      Obviously, the Reds could play better than .570 or the Brewers could play less than .500 the rest of the way. But if I’d much rather be in their shoes than the Reds shoes at this point because the Brewers are more likely to play .500 for the duration than anybody is to play .570 over the same period.

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