McCutchen Hits Back After Being Hit

Andrew McCutchen may react angrily when he is hit by a pitch – as he appeared to do last night when he was nailed twice by Brewers starter Matt Garza. But the numbers say that neither being hit nor raising his ire comes close to throwing Andrew off of his game.

McCutchen has been hit 9 times this year. These are the dates when he was hit and his numbers in the game after he was hit.

9/9 vs. Philadelphia: 2-for-4 with a HR and a BB

9/5 vs. Cincinnati: 3-for-5 with 3 singles

8/2 vs. Arizona:  1-for-2 with a BB and a sacrifice fly.

7/22 vs. Los Angeles: 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI.

5/22 vs. Washington:  0-for-4

5/1 vs. Baltimore:  1-for-4 with a double and 2 BB.

In the games after being hit by a pitch, McCutchen’s batting line is .333/.406/.593 — .999 OPS.

We might expect a big performance from him today against the Brewers. But it could be a mere coincidence that he has done well in the 7 previous games that followed his being hit by a pitch.

SABERBUCS Playoff Power Rankings

I am blatantly stealing this idea from Phil Rogers of He wrote an article yesterday at in which he revealed his Playoff Power Rankings, based upon the statistics that he felt were most relevant.

Mr. Rogers and I disagree on which statistics are the best predictors of a team’s playoff performance, but his ideas intrigued and inspired me, so I decided to have a go at my First (and, if anwhere close to accurate) Annual SABERBUCS Playoff Power Rankings.

Mr. Rogers made the excellent point that when one is assessing the playoff chances of any team, second half stats are, logically, and most likely, more meaningful than the full-season stats. What a team did in the first-half may have helped them reach the playoffs, but the first-half ended about 70 games ago. A team’s level of play – and roster – likely has changed over that time. What they are doing now matters a lot more – regarding playoff potential – than what they did from March 31 through the first week of July.

Therefore, I took a look at the second-half, team statistics which best measure overall hitting and pitching; weighted Runs Created Plus, xFIP Minus, and FIP Minus.

Those three stats are all based on an average of 100. wRC+ and FIP- adjust for league and home park, but I believe that xFIP- only adjusts for league. So, since I prefer xFIP to FIP, but still wanted an adjustment for home park, I used the average of each team’s FIP- and xFIP-.

I also needed to convert the xFIP- and FIP- stats to XFIP Plus and FIP Plus in order to make them congruent with the weighted Runs Created Plus stat. A “minus stat” means that the numbers below 100 are better than average. With a “plus stat,” the higher numbers are better.

The conversion was pretty simple. If a team had a 95 FIP-, I turned it into a 105.

I, then, calculated the averages of a team’s wRC+ and xFIP+/FIP+ to come up with that team’s SABERBUCS Playoff Power Ranking. 100 is average and the higher numbers are better.

SABERBUCS PLAYOFF POWER RANKINGS (“SPPR”, listed from worst to best)

12.  Milwaukee Brewers:  wRC+ 88;  xFIP+/FIP+ 99;   SPPR:  93.5

11.  Oakland Athletics:  wRC+ 89;  xFIP+/FIP+ 100;  SPPR: 94.5

10.  St. Louis Cardinals:  wRC+ 98;  xFIP+/FIP+  94;  SPPR: 96

9.    Kansas City Royals:  wRC+ 91;  xFIP+/FIP+ 105;  SPPR:  98

8.    Seattle Mariners:  wRC+ 90;  xFIP+/FIP+  109;  SPPR:  99.5

7.    Los Angeles Angels: wRC+ 99;  xFIP+/FIP+ 105;  SPPR: 102

6.    San Francisco Giants:  wRC+ 111;  xFIP+/FIP+ 97;  SPPR:  104

5.     Detroit Tigers:  wRC+  104;  xFIP+/FIP+ 106.5;  SPPR:  105.3

4.     Baltimore Orioles:  wRC+ 105;  xFIP+/FIP+  108.5;  SPPR:  106.8

3.     Los Angeles Dodgers:  wRC+ 110;  xFIP+/FIP+ 104.5;  SPPR: 107.3

2.     Washington Nationals:  wRC+ 104;  xFIP+/FIP+  111;  SPPR:  107.5

1.     Pittsburgh Pirates:  wRC+ 116;  xFIP+/FIP+  101;  SPPR:  108.5

In 1971, Roberto Clemente led the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4 games to 3 World Series championship over the Baltimore Orioles.

In 1979, Willie Stargell led the Pirates to a 4-3 World Series Championship over the Baltimore Orioles.

2014 is Andrew McCutchen’s year to do the same.

If the Bucs had a 1B with 24 HR and 85 RBI . . .

Why in the world would I choose Ike Davis to be the first-baseman on my Fantasy Team today?

Would you be happy with Ike Davis if he had a .783 OPS, a .452 slugging percentage, 24 HR, and 85 RBI?

That is the full-season, 500-plate-appearance pace at which Davis has hit since the All-Star break.

Among the 18 National League first-baseman with at least 100 plate appearances in the second half of the season, Ike Davis ranks seventh in OPS. He is ahead of Adam LaRoche, Ryan Howard, Mark Reynolds, Mark Trumbo, Garrett Jones, and Matt Adams.

Davis is sixth in slugging percentage since the All-Star break, among the 18 N.L first-baseman with at least 100 PAs. In addition to the players listed above, Davis also leads Freddie Freeman in slugging percentage.

Some might object that Davis has never produced like that for a full season.

Au contraire! Davis has hit like that – and better – over a full season.

2010: 601 PA; 19 HR; 71 RBI; .791 OPS
2012: 584 PA; 32 HR; 90 RBI; .770 OPS

And in 2011, when he was limited by injury to 149 plate appearances, he had a .926 OPS with 7 HR (a full-season pace of 23) and 25 RBI (84 pace).

So, with the Pirates facing right-hander Brandon Workman tonight, Ike Davis will be on my Fantasy Team. And the Pirates should be wary of imagining that they can do better than Davis next year. (You can play against my team at THIS LINK)

Here are the updated 2014 numbers for the first-baseman who were available last off-season:

OPS  /  weighted Runs Created Plus

Justin Morneau: .860 / 122

Ike Davis:  .724 / 109

James Loney: .718 / 109

Logan Morrison: .689 / 96

Mark Reynolds:  .685 / 88

Mark Trumbo:  .684 / 85

Lyle Overbay:  .668 / 88

Mitch Moreland: .644 / 75

Justin Smoak:  .616 / 70

Kendrys Morales:  .608 / 69

Corey Hart:  .580 / 66

Mike Carp:  .519 / 50

Pirate fans can dream of a replacement, but Ike Davis will be on my Team  tonight.

Are the Pirates Actually 6.5 Games Better than the Cardinals?

Fangraphs has an “expected won-loss record” system that they call BaseRuns. And it provides some good news for Pirate fans.

The system is apparently similar to “run differential” winning-percentage expectation formulas, but it seems to be based upon other advanced statistics such as weighted Runs Created Plus, xFIP, and FIP Minus.

BaseRuns says that the N.L. Central teams have actually played at this level of overall performance:

Pirates:  83-67

Cardinals: 77-74

Cubs:  74-77

Brewers:  74-77

Reds: 69-83

That would put the Pirates 6.5 games ahead of the Cardinals and 9.5 games ahead of both the Brewers and Cubs. The division would be just about clinched for the Pirates.

And there are other advanced statistics which say that the Pirates are the best team in their division.

Weighted Runs Created Plus

Pirates 108

Cardinals 97

Brewers 96

Cubs 88

Reds 83

That puts the Pirates hitting at about 11% better than the Cardinals and 12% better than the Brewers.


Brewers 3.68

Cubs 3.69

Reds 3.72

Pirates 3.74

Cardinals 3.77

The difference in xFIPs are negligible and the order could easily change by the end of the season.

And the Pirates have the best run differential in the N.L Central Division.

This is a good team, which is capable of beating anybody in a playoff series.

I want you to try to beat me in Today’s Saberbucs Fantasy Baseball Contest. Pick your lineup at This Link for free.


Martin and Liriano Could be Brought Back with a Payroll of $90 million.

The Pirates payroll is currently $79 million.

Here is how they could bring back both Francisco Liriano and Russell Martin without raising the payroll any higher than $84 million.

Sign Martin for $17 million per season. I believe that it will take as much per year to sign him as catcher Brian McCann received from the Yankees.

Sign Liriano for $12 million per season.

Non-tender or trade Davis, Sanchez, and Alvarez.

Make Andrew Lambo the first-baseman.

Removing Davis, Sanchez, and Alvarez cuts $10 million from payroll. Not re-signing Volquez cuts another $5 million. And payroll will also be reduced by $7.5 million when Wandy Rodriguez comes off of the books. That’s a total of $22.5 million.

Re-signing Martin at $17 million per year will be an increase of $8.5 million on what he is now making. Liriano’s $12 million per year would be an increase of $6 million.

Under this scheme, the Pirates would cut $22.5 million, add $14 million, and have $8.5 million left for arbitration increases to Walker, Harrison, Watson, Hughes, Melancon, Snider, and Stewart.

McCutchen’s salary increases by $3 million next season. Tabata’s by $1 million. Morton’s by $4 million. And Marte’s by about $500,000.

That would result in an $8.5 million increase in payroll; taking the total to $87.5 million. Figure in an additional $2.5 million for the arbitration eligible players and payroll comes to $90 million.

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Stats, Baseball and the Dollar Bill

In the more than 10 months that I have been operating SABERBUCS, I have posted 304 articles. That’s just about one per day. And I expect to continuing writing, not just through the end of the season, but throughout the off-season. Probably even more so in the off-season.

In those 10 months, I have only posted one advertisement on this site; and that was just in the past week. This is not a pay site – and it never will be. And I don’t ask for donations. But if you play fantasy sports, then I am asking you to play at by using my Promo Code of UNCLEMAN.

I am asking you to play one-day fantasy sports games because – I’m going to be honest with you – I’d like to make some money on this site. And I think I have found a way to do that without asking my readers to spend any more money than they are already spending.

Fan Duel does one-day contests in which you select a 9-man baseball team, just for that day. You don’t have to join a league for a full season, or half-season, or anything else. Just play for that one day. They offer winnable prizes and they pay promptly. They also have NFL, NHL, and NBA games.

If you play a $2 game, after entering with my PROMO CODE – or through the links I provide or the ads I post – I will make about 4 cents. Once you register through SABERBUCS, I will make that same 4 cents on every $2 game you play.

If you play fantasy sports, I ask you to do it through SABERBUCS and Fan Duel. Writing articles for this site will be much easier if I am making some money. You can play the same game I am playing today by going to THIS LINK

Thanks for reading SABERBUCS. I love operating this site, doing the research, and writing the articles. But that takes time and a little effort, for which I’d like to very honestly make a buck. Thank you for supporting SABERBUCS.

Stop Crying about First-Base

Justin Morneau is having a very good year (.844 OPS). It would have been wonderful if Neal Huntington could have known that last November and offered him a contract even more outrageous than the one he signed with the Rockies.

But there was no reason whatsoever to think that Justin Morneau was going to be very good in 2014, or even good, or average, or just slightly below average.

Morneau’s OPS for the three seasons prior to this one were .618, .773, and .734. In his one month with the Pirates, he had a .682 OPS. Ironically, the one thing he did very well with the Pirates was draw walks. He had a 14.1% rate with them; almost as good as Ike Davis’ 15.3% rate.

From 2011 to 2013, Morneau’s WAR was -0.8, +0.2, +0.7.

That means that when the Rockies gave Morneau his 2-year/$12.5 million contract, they were paying him at a rate of about $40 (forty) million per win.

Here is the illustrious list of other first-baseman who were available last off-season and what they are doing this year:

James Loney:  .725 OPS
Garrett Jones:  .715 OPS
Ike Davis:  .711 OPS
Mark Reynolds:  .679 OPS
Lyle Overbay:  .676 OPS
Logan Morrison:  .671 OPS
Mitch Moreland:  .644 OPS
Justin Smoak:  .618 OPS
Kendrys Morales:  .612 OPS
Corey Hart: .595 OPS
Mike Carp:  .519 OPS