WAR Heros Part II: Players That Went AWOL in 2014

As the MLB season winds down, and the dogfights for playoff positions heat up, here is a look at some stars have disappointed in the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) category and whose teams have suffered for it.

Chris Davis, 1B/3B Baltimore Orioles

The O’s are in first place, but it has had little to do with “Crush” Davis. Yes, 26 home runs is nothing to sneeze at, but when it comes attached to a .196 batting average and .300 OBP it’s far less valuable.

In 2013 Davis appeared to have it all figured out. He swatted 54 home runs, and increased his fly ball rate and his HR/FB ratio. He struck out less than ever, and was more confident about swinging at pitches inside the strike zone. When he did swing at said pitches, they got hammered.

This year, he’s been a different man. He’s swinging less at pitches in the zone, and swinging far less in general. Even worse, he’s making less contact which emboldened pitchers to throw him more first-pitch strikes. All of this has combined with an unlucky .242 BABIP to make him arguably the most disappointing player in the sport this year.

He capped it off by earning a 25-game suspension for testing positive for amphetamines. What a crappy year.  Continue reading

WAR Heroes Part 1: Leading Men Of MLB Postseason Hopefuls

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

As the MLB season winds down, and the dogfights for playoff positions heat up, here is a look at some players, stars or not, that have dominated the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) category and are playing the biggest roles for their contending teams.

Michael Brantley, OF Cleveland Indians 

The Indians are five games back of the second wildcard spot, and in all likelihood will miss the postseason. That won’t be the fault of Brantley, however, who ranks second in baseball in WAR (6.1) behind only Mike Trout.

You can measure Brantley’s success by mostly traditional stats–he’s batted .319 as of this writing and is one home run shy of a 20/20 campaign. He has 93 RBI and 88 runs, and has been a force overall at the plate. That said, there are players with better averages, more home runs, and more steals. So why does Brantley rank just below Trout?

Baserunning. WAR has captured the 6.6 runs he’s added to the Indians on the basepaths, which place him inside the Top 10 in MLB. That’s more than just steals, of which Brantley has 20 against just one caught stealing. That takes into account turning singles into doubles, or being able to take extra bases on simple hits.

Cleveland’s most likely going to miss the postseason–but if they don’t they owe a lot to Brantley.  Continue reading

NFL 2014: Week 2 Predictions Against The Spread

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

*indicates outright upset

Italics are Coach Gottlin’s picks.

Thursday

BALTIMORE (-3.0) over Pittsburgh

BALTIMORE (-3.0) over Pittsburgh

Sunday (Early)

*Detroit (+2.5) over CAROLINA

CAROLINA over Detroit

*Miami (-1.0) over BUFFALO

Miami over BUFFALO

Jacksonville (+6.0) over WASHINGTON

Jacksonville (+6.0) over WASHINGTON

*Dallas (+3.0) over TENNESSEE

Dallas (+3.0) over TENNESSEE

*GIANTS (+2.5) over Arizona

*GIANTS (+2.5) over Arizona

New England (-3.0) over MINNESOTA

MINNESOTA (-3.0) New England

CLEVELAND (+4.5) over New Orleans

CLEVELAND (+6.5) over New Orleans

CINCINNATI (+5.5) over Atlanta

CINCINNATI (+5.5) over Atlanta

Sunday (Late)

TAMPA BAY (-5.5) over St. Louis

TAMPA BAY (-5.5) over St. Louis

Seattle (-5.5) over SAN DIEGO

SAN DIEGO (5.5) over SEATTLE

Houston (-3.0) over OAKLAND

OAKLAND (+3.0) over Houston

Jets (+8.5) over GREEN BAY

Jets (+7.0) over GREEN BAY

DENVER (-11.0) over Kansas City

Kansas City (+11.5) over DENVER

Sunday Night

SAN FRANCISCO (-7.0) over Chicago

SAN FRANCISCO (-6.5) over Chicago

Monday Night

Philadelphia (+3.0) over INDIANAPOLIS

INDIANAPOLIS (-3.0) over Philadelphia

NFL Week 2 Picks Podcast With Coach Gottlin: The Deli Counter

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

Coach Gottlin’s back for the Week 2 picks. We give you five picks each, plus a possible bonus pick. Coach also highlights a Vegas tactic that we don’t fully understand, but plan to keep an eye on.

NFL 2014: Week 1 Predictions Against The Spread

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

*indicates outright upset

**indicates lock

Italics are Coach Gottlin’s picks.

Thursday

SEATTLE (-5.5) over Green Bay

Green Bay (+5.5) over SEATTLE

Sunday (Early)

ATLANTA (+3.0) over New Orleans

ATLANTA (+3.0) over New Orleans

ST. LOUIS (-3.0) over Minnesota

Minnesota (+3.0) over ST. LOUIS

PITTSBURGH (-6.5) over Cleveland

Cleveland (+6.5) over PITTSBURGH

Jacksonville (+10.5) over PHILADELPHIA

Jacksonville (+10.5) over PHILADELPHIA

Oakland (+5.5) over JETS

Oakland (+5.5) over JETS

BALTIMORE (-1.5) over Cincinnati

BALTIMORE (-2.0) over Cincinnati

CHICAGO (-7.0) over Buffalo

Buffalo (+7.0) over CHICAGO

HOUSTON (-3.0) over Washington

HOUSTON (3.0) over Washington

KANSAS CITY (-3.5) over Tennessee

KANSAS CITY (-3.0) over Tennessee

New England (-5.5) over MIAMI

MIAMI (+5.5) over New England

Sunday (Late)

*Carolina (+2.0) over TAMPA BAY

TAMPA BAY (-2.0) over Carolina

San Francisco (-4.5) over DALLAS

*DALLAS (+4.5) over San Francisco

Sunday Night

DENVER (-7.5) over Indianapolis

Indianapolis (+7.5) over DENVER

Monday Night

DETROIT (-5.5) over Giants

Giants (+5.5) over DETROIT

ARIZONA (-3.0) over San Diego

ARIZONA (-3.0) over San Diego

Suicide Picks

Rai Takes: New England over Miami

Coach Gottlin Takes: Philadelphia over Jacksonville

NFL 2014 Predictions And Awards

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

NFC

East: Eagles, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins

North: Packers, Bears, Lions, Vikings

South: Saints, Falcons, Panthers, Buccaneers

West: 49ers, Seahawks, Cardinals Rams

Playoffs (In seed order): Saints, 49ers, Packers, Eagles, Seahawks, Bears

Super Bowl Representative: Saints

Potential Shocker: Vikings

Potential Disaster: Redskins

AFC

East: Patriots, Jets, Dolphins, Bills

North: Ravens, Steelers, Bengals, Browns

South: Colts, Titans, Texans, Jaguars

West: Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs, Raiders

Playoffs (In seed order): Patriots, Broncos, Colts, Ravens, Steelers, Chargers

Super Bowl Representative: Patriots

Potential Shocker: Bills

Potential Disaster: Chiefs

Super Bowl Prediction: Patriots over Saints 

AWARDS: 

MVP: Andrew Luck

Offensive Player of the Year: Peyton Manning

Defensive Player of the Year: Darrelle Revis

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Mike Evans

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jadeveon Clowney

Comeback Player of the Year: Percy Harvin

Coach of the Year: Sean Payton

 

 

NFL Week 1 Picks Podcast With Coach Gottlin: The Deli Counter

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

The NFL is back, and so is the weekly Deli Counter picks podcast with Coach Gottlin. New format–better format. Enjoy!

 

NFL 2014 Preview AFC East: Darrelle Revis Primed To Haunt Jets

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

This is the AFC East preview. The teams will be ordered according to how I see them finishing. I’ll break down each team’s offense and defense in brief fashion, highlight an underrated player or two, then give a win range. Slapping a win total on a team is silly to me–I’m more interested in ceilings and floors. If a team’s win range is 6-12, that doesn’t mean I’m predicting 12 or 6. Just means I see them as a team that can wildly fluctuate.

New England Patriots (Last season: 12-4)

Offense: Tom Brady‘s still around and there aren’t any major pieces missing from last season’s offense except for G Logan Mankins. While Brady wasn’t too thrilled about that, he will be thrilled about opening the year with a healthy Rob Gronkowski. Ditto for WR Danny Amendola, who joins last year’s breakout Julian Edelman, and talented outside guys Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins.

The running game and passing game should feature Shane Vereen quite a bit as well, with Stevan Ridley providing the muscle. Overall this is a great offense, and those saying Brady’s near the end of his rope will look not so smart.

Defense: The Pats won 12 games with DT Vince Wilfork out for most of the year, and LB Jerod Mayo joining him. 12 games. They lost CB Aqib Talib to the Broncos, which you would think would be a minus. Nope. They added Darrelle Revis to replace him, and CB Brandon Browner to boot (Browner is suspended for the season’s first four games).Wilfork and Mayo are back for now too, and the secondary as a whole is loaded.

Underrated Asset: S Patrick Chung and CB Kyle Arrington provide depth to a Pats D that hasn’t been a top unit for several years. When New England was racking up Super Bowl wins, Brady was amazing, yes, but so were their defenses. That’s the case again this year, and part of that is the ability to withstand injury.

Floor to Ceiling: 11-14 wins.  Continue reading

NFL Preview 2014 AFC North: Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger Leading Old Guard Back To Prominence?

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)

This is the AFC North preview. The teams will be ordered according to how I see them finishing. I’ll break down each team’s offense and defense in brief fashion, highlight an underrated player or two, then give a win range. Slapping a win total on a team is silly to me–I’m more interested in ceilings and floors. If a team’s win range is 6-12, that doesn’t mean I’m predicting 12 or 6. Just means I see them as a team that can wildly fluctuate.

Baltimore Ravens (Last season: 8-8)

Offense: In 2013 the Ravens managed an 8-8 season despite having the worst offensive line in the NFL in terms of running the football, according to FootballOutsiders.com. It didn’t help the O-Line though that their running backs were truly among the worst in the league. Ray Rice was not himself, dropping to 3.1 yards per carry from 4.4 just one season ago.

If this version of Ray Rice shows up in Week 3 Baltimore’s on the way to a division title.

Bernard Pierce wasn’t any better, at 2.9 yards per carry. It all put a ton of pressure on Joe Flacco to carry the team with a subpar group of receivers. This offseason, the Ravens added wide receiver Steve Smith to Flacco’s arsenal, and get tight end Dennis Pitta back. If the RBs fail again, Flacco’s better equipped to lead the way.

Defense: The defense was missing Ray Lewis and Ed Reed last year, but on the whole it was a pretty damn good D. The defensive line is powerful and will grind down running games, and it’s backed up by serious linebackers. Terrell Suggs will start the season fully healthy, Courtney Upshaw should improve on the other edge, and rookie C.J. Mosley is expected to contribute right away. This was a Top 10 defense last year, and it should be even better in 2014.

Underrated Asset: DE/OLB Elvis Dumervil is a sack master, and he’s just on the bench according to the Ravens’ depth chart. If they’re keeping him fresh just for passing downs, Dumervil could be an absolute terror against more ground-down linemen.

Floor to Ceiling: 8-11 wins  Continue reading

NFL 2014 Preview AFC South: Jadeveon Clowney, J.J. Watt To Reclaim Division From Luck’s Colts?

By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo

This is the AFC South preview. The teams will be ordered according to how I see them finishing. I’ll break down each team’s offense and defense in brief fashion, highlight an underrated player or two, then give a win range. Slapping a win total on a team is silly to me–I’m more interested in ceilings and floors. If a team’s win range is 6-12, that doesn’t mean I’m predicting 12 or 6. Just means I see them as a team that can wildly fluctuate.

Indianapolis Colts (Last season: 11-5)

Offense: The Colts seem to be a popular pick to drop off the previous season’s pace for a second straight year, but as long as Andrew Luck is running the show I don’t see the rush to bury them. They added Hakeem Nicks to the mix, who joins T.Y. Hilton and a recovered Reggie Wayne, giving him three quality WRs to throw too.

They also have Trent Richardson, who at the very least offers some upside. It seems clear he wasn’t worth his No. 3 overall selection, and likely wasn’t even worth the first-rounder Indy traded for him last year, but he’s too young to give up on.

The O-line was middle of the pack in the running game, but Luck was hit far too often . Can’t keep happening, and may be an issue in a division with some sick pass rushes.

Defense: Indy’s adjusted numbers are prettier than the raw ones, but overall it was a middling defense in 2013. Adding DE Arthur Jones and LB D’Qwell Jackson should give it some teeth though, and with a high-powered offense I see the D being sufficient.

Underrated Asset: RB Ahmad Bradshaw may not be a star anymore, but in just 41 carries last year before hurting his neck Bradshaw had been averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He is a hard runner with experience in pass-blocking, and if T-Rich starts off slowly again it will be easy for Bradshaw to step in and produce.

Floor to Ceiling: 10-13 games. Continue reading