The 2016 MLB season begins on April 3rd with excellent matchups between Cardinals and Pirates, Blue Jays and Rays, and a 2015 World Series rematch between the Mets and Royals. To get the season started, we will be posting Season Wins Previews by division for every team. Today, we’ll start with the AL East per our fearless leader, Matthew Holt.
Most baseball fans have grown to love Interleague Play. You’ve got the Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees in New York, the Freeway Series between the Dodgers and Angels in Los Angeles, and the “1985 Was the Greatest World Series Ever” clash between St. Louis and Kansas City. Now, thanks to the innovations of gambling, you can bet against your cross-town rival all season long, not just during your your Interleague series. CG Technology has released their MLB season wins matchups for the upcoming year. Any lines jump out to you?
Couple Quick Notes…
- CG Technology’s latest MLB win totals have San Francisco two games better than Houston (89 wins vs. 87). However, when the lines were first released in February, the Giants were listed at 3.5 games better. There may be some value in laying the 1.5 in this matchup, when you consider what the original perception of their values were before the public got their hands on the lines.
- Opening lines had a six game difference between the Angels (81.5 wins) and the Dodgers (87.5 wins), but that has shot up to 8.5 thanks to the Dodgers rising to 89.5 and the Angels dropping half a game to 81. Is there value on the Angels at +6.5 (+135) when you consider the original difference between the two teams was only six games? Seems like there is a pretty good reason the book hasn’t jumped to move the line to reflect the updated win totals expectancy.
- FanGraphs is a great tool for analyzing stats and looking at projections. Their models have the Dodgers 11 games better than the Angels (only 6.5 in CG’s matchup), the Cardinals eight games better than the Royals (only 1.5 in CG’s matchup) and the Mets six games better than the Yankees (only 3.5 in CG’s matchup).
Everyone knows there are two leagues, right?! CG Technology just released their updated win totals for the 2016 MLB season, and all of the biggest moves come from the American League. No National League team has moved by more than one game in either direction, but there’s been plenty of movement on the other side. Let’s take a look at what could be motivating some of those moves…
Pitchers and catchers reported to the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues last month and with the return of Major League Baseball, to Spring Training, it offers a fresh beginning for all 30 franchises. As March Madness prepares to introduce conference tournaments and eventually the NCAA Mens Basketball National Championship, it also presents meaningful baseball news and training camp performances. We’re still 28 days away from Sunday, April 3rd, four home openers beginning with the first game of the 2016 campaign taking place in PNC Park when the Pittsburgh Pirates host the St Louis Cardinals.
The other three Sunday opening games find the Tampa Bay Rays hosting the Toronto Blue Jays, the World Series Champion Kansas City Royals and New York Mets replaying last year’s Fall Classic at the “K” and the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago Cubs opening their seasons with an interleague affair.
MLB and Snapchat Team
It wasn’t a progressive minute for the human race, nor MLB traditionalist, when Major League Baseball and Snapchat teamed up for “Snapchat Day”. On March 11, the league and Snapchat are combining forces to bring fans Snapchat Day. The event is part of a new, multi-year partnership between the two companies, which was announced in late February.
For the first time ever, players will be permitted to use smartphones during games in order to send pictures and video to Snapchat. Due to the new partnership, Snapchat will cover MLB games and events both this season, and in future years. That includes opening day, the All-Star game and the postseason. If anything truly good, and MLB meaningful comes from this venture, it will surprise this writer.
Yahoo Sports reported that “If you’re going to take a selfie on a baseball field as a live game is going on, you might as well use a SnapBat. Yes, the SnapBat, which was introduced during the 2015 Home Run Derby, will be making another appearance on Snapchat Day. MLB is rolling out a new design for the Snapbat this year, which they will debut during the event. Each team will have access to its own SnapBat, and players will be allowed to utilize the device as if it were their own smartphone.”
MLB examines K-Zone, again
While my hope is that Snapchat is nothing more than a special events, Spring Training and All Star Game novelty, what makes baseball, baseball, is the much disputed property borders of the strike zone. With offense on the decline and strikeouts at an all-time high, Major League Baseball is looking into shrinking the strike zone, according to a Yahoo! Sports report.
Have pitchers become more dominant in Major League Baseball with supposed diminished use of steroids? How much of baseball’s anemic offense stems from 1)young and talented arms of pitchers or 2) swollen strike zone?
The league declared they will once again examine Major League Baseball’s umpires this 2016 season and chart what the average strikezone is for crews that grade balls and stirkes. Any formal rules change would have to be approved by baseball’s Playing Rules Committee but the league assembled a committee last season that was to monitor the strike zone and potentially look to implement changes this season (2016) at the earliest.
Major League Baseball implemented a number of rule changes last season to speed up the pace of play:
1. including making hitters keep one foot in the batter’s box after a pitch and making sure games resume as soon as end-of-inning commercial breaks expire. The changes made a difference as the average length of the game shrunk from 3:02 in 2014 to 2:56 in 2015.
2. More rule changes this season to increase the pace of the game, MLB will have a stop-watch that limit managers to 30 seconds or less when visiting the pitching mound. The coaches and/or managers will be forced to make changes quicker by implementing a time limit for making the decision to bring in a reliever as well as cutting 20 seconds off the between-inning clock.
According to several reports from reputable sources and geek squads that monitor baseball with a fine tooth comb, the past five seasons, the strike zone has expanded approximately 40 square inches. This area in question north of home plate has expanded from 435 square inches in 2009 to 475 square inches in 2014, this according to Hardball Times writer Jon Roegele.
While the casual fan shrugs off the impact that an umpire has on the game, this simply isn’t the case for those of us who depend on the purported size of the K-zone, and those whom are in charge of grading pitchers. The interpretation of the strike zone has always been black and white, but who deems the property boundaries, the umpires, all have a different understanding of where that space starts and ends. While the baseball diamond is the playing field that determines fair and foul balls, fly balls and home runs, one of the primary wars that determine the final outcome of games takes place between pitchers and hitters, in the strike zone.
In truth there isn’t more important in Major League Baseball than the strike zone. There are few professional sports officials that are under more scrutiny than MLB home plate umpires. The vest wearing umps are subjected to, insults, and epithets, which in many cases make Sports Center on a nightly basis. More baseball ejections come from disputed ball and strike calls than any other MLB container.
Two years ago when we watched the San Francisco Giants defeat the Kansas City Royals in Game 7 of the World Series at the “K” the average team managed just 4.07 runs per game, during the regular season. That just-north of four runs was down almost 12 percent from its 2009 levels and the lowest average since 1981.
Power pitchers becoming top Free Agent targets
Major League Baseball is studying whether to raise the bottom of the strike zone from the hollow beneath the kneecap back to the top of the kneecap.
“I’m not in a position to predict whether it’s going to happen or not,” Rob Manfred was quoted by The Associated Press on his first birthday as the new baseball commissioner.
“I think that the interest in the topic is really driven by the fact that if you look over time there has been a movement down of the strike zone, largely as a result of the way we evaluate the strike zone with umpires.”
Strike zone data was included in a presentation given to owners in the league meetings in Coral Gables, Florida. It is noteworthy to remind baseball enthusiasts that is isn’t an easy task to make changes in Major League Baseball. And when changes are made, they typically stick, seemingly, forever. An agreement with the players’ association is always necessary when rules changes are made and baseball officials will likely compile their ideas and consensus thoughts to be discussed and reviewed during the upcoming collective bargaining sessions, which would postpone any official rule changes until 2017.
“The umpires have done a great job calling the strike zone as we want it called,” Manfred said. “The question is whether we ought to make an adjustment.”
When it comes to handicapping baseball, the current player groups and the talent in those containers, is critical to information that influences MLB investing. following a decade-and-a-half decline in offense, the powers-that-are in Major League Baseball want, once again, more excitement with the bat (other than just an impressive bat-flip) in the form of offense.
Spring Training contests have arrived
Cactus League clubs are throwing pitches and swinging for the fences in the Valley of the Sun while Grapefruit League franchises are running the bases in Florida coasts and center of the state, Spring Training offers us brief glimpses of our favorite teams and the players but when it comes to evaluating the regular season the spring venues have little to do with what will transpire in the regular season.
The Rockies announced this offseason that they have increased the height of the fences in two locations at Coors Field. Here are details:
1. The fence from the center-field end of the visiting bullpen to the right-field out-of-town scoreboard will be raised 8 feet, 9 inches so that it is consistent with the height of the out-of-town scoreboard at 16 feet, 6 inches.
2. Five feet is being added to the wall from the left-field foul pole to the beginning of the pavilion seating in center.
According to ESPN Senior Writer David Schoenfield, “Changes will be in place in time for the home opener, April 8 against the Padres. The new fencing, which is the first fair-ground fence change in the history of a park that has been open since 1995, will not change the spaciousness of the outfield and a high-desert atmosphere in which balls tend to travel in certain weather conditions. But the Rockies will see if it’ll help the pitchers, who have struggled mightily for much of the franchise’s history.”
“The goal is to raise the wall heights to make it, potentially, more playable and more fair for pitchers in this ballpark,” Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said. “We really don’t know exactly the effect that it’s going to have. We’re going to live it together for this year to see what happens. The thought is that this might be a first step in what could be a number of steps.”
The Los Angeles Dodgers have installed speakers under the bases, so teams can listen to play-by-play announcer Vin Scully. While this new addition to Dodgers Stadium seems interesting, and entertaining, the first thought of this writers is “can Vin Scully now influence the outcome of games by virtually being on the field with players, both with his beloved Dodgers and the opposition?” Could Scully and his information be an advantage for the home team and a distraction for the opposition? Reports are that the Dodgers coaches and team officials have developed special training to help their own players pay attention to the game. The opposition, however, are in a position to be “picked off” or less focused while they’re listening to one of Scully’s classic baseball tales.
The Chicago White Sox have a new scoreboard that will be controlled by announcer Hawk Harrelson. Major League Baseball has set a precedent this season that now involves home team celebrities to participate in games. Like Vin Scully of the Dodgers, the Pale Sox Harrelson will be involved in the White Sox games at U.S Cellular Field. Anyone that has watched American League games, be it as a White Sox fan or their AL opponents have heard the voice of “Hawk”. Including announcer Hawk Harrelson in all of the White Sox home games, when he shouts, “You can put it on the board … yes!”, will no longer just be words, or a voice, on the radio waves. Harrelson will now have the ability can now actually put it on the board, the run, for the home team Sox.
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After two years atop the American League, are the Royals poised for a three-peat? CG Technology has the win total for the 2016 Royals at 84.5. Here’s why we think the Royals will fall back to Earth this season…
The 2015 Oakland A’s deserve to have a book and movie written about them, but it won’t be nearly as warm and fuzzy as Moneyball. From run differential to one-run losses, the Athletics were truly a statistical anomaly last season. CG Technology has the win total for the 2016 A’s set at 76.5. Here’s why we think the A’s will be much-improved this season…
Can you smell that? Baseball is in the air. As all 30 MLB teams begin Spring Training this week, most sportsbooks have released their projected win totals for the 2016 season. Here are a couple notes on some things that we’re keeping an eye on as we get ready for Opening Day. Lines mentioned below are all courtesy of CG Technology.
The days are getting longer and warmer, pitchers and catchers have reported, and talk-radio is filled with dialogue and debate about which Major League Baseball teams will how many games in 2016. The MLB season is long and grueling, and from April through October, 30 major league franchises will contest 2,430 games with the hope of earning a spot in the this year’s Fall Classic.