May 16, 2017

Alberta Pro Ballplayers

I often talk about our local ballplayers on twitter, but it’s been a while since I gave a more lengthy update on what’s been happening with these players.  Here's a quick recap on all the Alberta products playing pro ball.  (I think - if I missed someone, PLEASE let me know!)


Mike Soroka:
This Calgarian, who was a first round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2015, got promoted to the AA Mississippi Braves and got off to a hot start.  In his first three starts he posted a 1.62 ERA and struck out 18 while only walking one batter -  Chris Sale like numbers!

May 11, 2017

Where is the home field advantage in baseball?

In most major sports, teams usually have a measurable (i.e., statistically significant when other issues are factored in) home field advantage.  That is, they win more games at home than on the road, when playing the same teams or teams of equal caliber.  There are two main reasons for this:

1 – Generic advantages of playing at home:
This includes things such as: less tired from travel and/or lack of jet lag; sleeping in your own bed, eating familiar food vs. sleeping in a hotel and eating whatever you find; getting an extra adrenaline rush from the home crowd cheering - i.e., the 12th man (or 13th as they call it in Saskatchewan!) effect; home crowd effect on officials giving favorable calls; familiarity with playing on home field; possible additional comfort/amenities of home clubhouse/dugout/bullpen vs  visitor’s facilities.

And maybe there are more, but the above, if not necessarily measurable or even significant are at least intuitive, and I’m sure my readers can think of other similar advantages.

Looking at these factors, it would seem that baseball has more home of these advantages than other sports. Most fields in other sports have the same dimensions. In baseball, every field is unique. A left fielder who plays 81 games at Fenway Park is likely to know how a ball bounces off the monster better than a non-division opponent who sees the wall three times a year. Teams can tailor their rosters somewhat to their specific field conditions (e.g., more righty or lefty pull hitters depending on dimensions, more ground ball pitchers at Coors Field, faster outfielders in large outfields, etc.). Also, the fact that they play almost every day would exacerbate their travel tiredness/jet lag. Flying from Boston to Anaheim on a Sunday night, playing 3 nights in a row, and then going to Seattle for a series starting on Thursday seems to be more tiring than playing in Foxborough on Sunday and having a week before the next game in Seattle and another week off before playing their next game, even if it is back on the East coast.

2 – Strategic advantages of being the home team 
This is specific to each sport. I’m not familiar with any strategic advantages in basketball, soccer or football (does it matter who calls the coin flip? Maybe there’s a psychological advantage? I doubt it).  In the NHL, the home team gets to make the last line change. I don’t know much about hockey so don’t really understand if this is a significant advantage, but at least it’s a difference.  And in baseball, of course, the home team bats last.  This should be a huge benefit. In the bottom of the 9th or later, the home team KNOWS whether they just need to score one run to tie or win, or need to be conservative on the bases to play for two or more runs. In the top of the inning, the visiting team has no such luxury. They need to weigh the probabilities of trying to tie the game vs. taking a lead. If the visitors take the lead in the 9th or later, the home team always has a chance to tie or win. In the same situation, if the home team takes the lead… the ball game is over.

So, again, baseball has more of a strategic home field advantage than other sports.  

But none of these advantages seem to show up in the home/away splits of baseball teams as much as they do in other sports.  This recent 538 article shows that NBA teams win approximately 60% of their home games, NFL 57%, NHL 55% and MLB 54%.  Just using simpler numbers, this season only eight of 30 NBA teams had losing home records, and seven had winning road records.  Several teams that weren't close to making the playoffs, including Detroit and Dallas who came in last in their divisions, had winning records at home.  Meanwhile, Cleveland with the second best record in the entire conference, had a losing record when not playing on home court.   The NFL had similar numbers with only 7 of 32 teams having losing records at home, and the same number winning more than losing on the road(*). The Houston Texans made the playoffs despite going 2-6 on the road,  by going 7-1 at home. The Eagles had the opposite problem: 6-2 at home couldn't overcome a 1-7 road record.  

But in baseball, it was 17 out of 30 teams had winning records at home and 18 losing on the road. Slightly more than half, but not as pronounced as in the other leagues.  In fact I only counted seven teams that had a winning record at home and losing on the road.  In other words, most of the over. 500 teams had wining records both at home and the road, and the sub .500 clubs had losing records whether at home or on the road. 

So, my question is WHY is there a not a bigger difference in the home vs road records in baseball than there is in other sports?

I don't know.  I'd love to hear my reader's thoughts. Please post in the comments below, or @ me on twitter

* Several teams had identical 4-4 records and I didn't include these

April 06, 2017

Roster Moves and Depth Chart

Noe Ramirez and Marco Hernandez better get used to this
There have been a flurry of roster moves the last few days.  The Red Sox played Wednesday’s night game shorthanded.  Robbie Ross and Mookie Betts were battling flu-like symptoms, and Brock Holt’s condition was so bad that he wasn’t even at the ballpark. That was a bad time to have an extra inning game, but Sandy “the Lion King” Leon sent everyone happy by walking it off in the 12th.

Right after the game Matt Barnes was put on the bereavement leave, and Noe Ramirez called up to take his place.  This morning we learned that Xander Bogaerts was also placed on bereavement leave and Marco Hernandez came up to take his roster spot.  Now Robbie Ross’ flu worsened and he was put on the DL with Deven Marrero taking his place.  Why an infielder instead of another reliever?  Well, taking a look at the depth chart below will explain this.

The Red Sox were already carrying an extra bullpen arm, since they had the luxury of not needing a 5th starter right away, and have kept Drew Pomeranz on the DL until he is needed (likely on Tuesday).  The extra middle infielder is due to Brock Holt’s flu.  If he’s unavailable, Hernandez will start at SS and Marrero becomes the utility bench guy.  The bench is going to be Holt (flu), Young, Vazquez, Marrero and Selksy.


Here is the current roster/depth chart. Players with a strikethrough are not on current 25, players in brackets are listed a subsequent time in a position other than their primary position.

C
Leon
Vazquez
1B
Moreland
(Ramirez)
(Selsky)
2B
Pedroia
(Hernandez)
(Holt)
(Rutledge – DL)
SS
Bogaerts (bereavement)
(Holt)
(Hernandez)
3B
Sandoval
(Hernandez)
(Holt)
(Rutledge – DL)
DH
Ramirez
(Young)
UT
Holt(flu)
Rutledge (DL)
Hernandez
Marrero
LF
Benintendi
(Young)
Selsky
(Holt)
CF
Bradley
Young
RF
Betts
(Young)
(Selsky)

Starting Pitchers:
Porcello
Sale
Price (DL)
Wright
Pomeranz (DL)
Rodriguez
Relief Pitchers:
Kimbrel
Thornburg (DL)
Smith (DL)
Kelly
Ross (DL)
Scott
Embree
Abad
Taylor
Ramirez

Marrero will go back down when Bogaerts comes off the bereavement list.
Noe Ramirez will be replaced by Barnes when he comes off.
Since our bullpen is back down to seven arms, and we have an extra position player on the bench, to make room for Pomeranz, one of the bench players will go back down.  If Holt is fully recovered from the flu, I suspect it will be Marco Hernandez back to AAA.

And when Robbie Ross is activated (he’ll be eligible on April 13th), Ben Taylor’s cup of coffee will be finished for now.

At least that’s what I expect the plan will be, although injuries and overuse of pitchers may dictate different moves being made over the next week or so.

April 03, 2017

Opening Day!!!!

It's Opening Day. I know yesterday was the official MLB Opening Day, but today is the first Red Sox game of the season so now it really counts! By the way, if you don't capitalize "Opening Day", we can't be friends.  It should be a national (both in the US and Canada) holiday.  It IS an official stat holiday for my company (perk of being the owner - I make the rules).

Anyhow, I'm looking forward to it. Not quite as much as the 2014 opener when I was at Fenway to see the banner get raised, but every Opening Day is special.

The Red Sox have finalized their 25 man roster.  Not too different than what I had predicted in mid February.


Here are the guys we get to look forward to as the season starts:

Starting pitchers
Rick Porcello
Chris Sale (L)
Steven Wright
Eduardo Rodriguez (L)

I had Price and Pomeranz also on the roster.  They are both on the DL. I had EdRo starting in Pawtucket but did say he'd be in the rotation if anyone was injured.  Pomeranz seems like a roster move, since they won't need a 5th starter until his DL stint is up.

Relief Pitchers
Craig Kimbrel
Joe Kelly
Matt Barnes
Robbie Ross (L)
Heath Embree
Robby Scott (L)
Fernando Abad (L)
Ben Taylor

I had the same first six guys.  Also had included Tyler Thornburg who is on the DL. I thought the 2nd loogy spot would be a battle between Scott and Abad and Scott would win it.  With the Thornburg injury there's room for both.  Ben Taylor was a surprise addition, whose spot was open due to the aforementioned Pomeranz temporary roster move.

Catchers
Sandy Leon (S)
Christian Vazquez

No surprises here.  Swihart starting in Pawtucket because he has options.

Infield
Mitch Moreland (L)
Dustin Pedroia
Xander Bogaerts
Pablo Sandoval (S)
Hanley Ramirez
Brock Holt (L)
Steve Selsky

I had the first six guys.  Thought the last utility spot would go to Josh Rutledge over Marco Hernandez.  Rutledge is on the DL, and with Moreland battling the flu, Steve Selsky is more able to back up first base than Hernandez.

Outfield
Mookie Betts
Jackie Bradley Jr. (L)
Andrew Benintendi (L)
Chris Young

Again, no surprises there.

So, in total I had correctly forecasted 21 of the 25 players on the Opening Day roster.  The ones I missed, Price, Pomeranz, Thornburg and Rutlege are all on the DL.

This afternoon, I will be watching the Red Sox opener at a local drinking establishment with a bunch of baseball fans.
Here is the lineup for today's game:
1. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
2. Andrew Benintendi, LF
3. Mookie Betts, RF
4. Hanley Ramirez, DH
5. Mitch Moreland, 1B
6. Xander Bogaerts, SS
7. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
8. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
9. Sandy Leon, C
Pitching - Rick Porcello

For Pedroia, this is his 11th straight start on Opening Day.  Guys such as Ted Williams, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Wade Boggs and David Ortiz never did that. In fact, if Pedroia starts on Opening Day next year, he'll tie the Red Sox record, currently held by Yaz.

Beni starts in LF.  Hopefully he'll end up a fixture for years to come there, following in the footsteps of Williams, Yaz, Rice and Ramirez, who started 55 Opening Days between them since 1940.

 HAPPY OPENING DAY, everyone!




March 29, 2017

2017 Season Predictions

Yes, this is a selfie, in case you wondered
 what "Baseball Ruben" looked like
Time for my sort-of-annual predictions post.

A quick pre-emptive note:  I realize how bad some of these will look at the end of the year. I’m sure I have some last place teams that will end up making the playoffs, and I have some division winners who won’t contend.  That’s ok. It happens to all the forecasters every year.  (here are last year's ESPN forecasters predictions.  None of the 31 got all the division winners. Six picked the Astros or Royals - neither of which made the playoffs - to win the World Series.  Almost half (15) had either the Indians or Cubs missing the playoffs. Somehow only FOUR of their 31 "experts" managed to correctly guess the Dodgers would win their division, Exactly one had Cleveland going to the Fall Classic.... and picked the Giants to beat them there)

March 24, 2017

Out of the Park Baseball 18, Now available worldwide

BUY THIS GAME!
As mentioned previously, OOTP18 has now been released. (Get your copy here).  I have started playing the 2017 season, as manager of the Red Sox, and incredibly this game seems better than the previous versions.  (I am astounded every year on how they manage to make such a great game better).  I’m only one week in, but already loving how the game is playing out.


The first thing I did (while winning over John Farrell detractors everywhere), was name myself manager of the team.   The notoriously tough Boston media didn’t waste any time proclaiming that “Ruben is over his head” (I’m looking at you Pete Abraham!).



But I’m determined to prove them wrong, and got off to a first start, even getting Mookie Betts to be named AL player of the week, the first week of the season. 
Mookie Betts, player of the week!


I look forward to continuing to simulate this season, and will post updates here and on twitter occasionally.


Below is the full press release where you can read all about this game.  I do strongly recommend that any baseball fan who enjoys playing games to get this.



Out of the Park Baseball 18, an Official Licensee of MLB.com, MLBPA, and MiLB.com,
Now Available Worldwide

Follow-up to Metacritic’s 2016 PC Game of the Year features a new Challenge Mode, Online Profiles and Leaderboards, real 2017 major and minor league rosters, historic Negro League teams, improved 3D mode, new tournaments, and much more

Out of the Park Developments, an official licensee of MLB.com, the MLBPA, and MiLB.com, today announced that Out of the Park Baseball 18 is now available worldwide. The follow-up to the acclaimed Metacritic 2016 PC Game of the Year includes several exciting new features and a treasure trove of deep improvements to its award-winning gameplay.

Out of the Park Baseball 18 sells for $39.99 and is available on Steam and through the company’s website at these links:



For the first time, Out of the Park Baseball 18 introduces an all-new Challenge Mode. This allows series newcomers to enjoy a powerful way to learn the intricacies of this deep strategy title, while driving community engagement for all users via the creation of online profiles to share accomplishments on new leaderboards. The Challenge Mode is just the beginning of an all-new, long-term expansion of OOTP’s online platform -- more will be unveiled during the course of the 2017 baseball season.

Out of the Park Baseball 18 also includes:

  • 2017 roster sets with all Opening Day MLB rosters, as well as the complete minor league system from Triple-A down to rookie leagues and the Arizona Fall League. All major league (and over a thousand minor league) player ratings are based on the popular ZiPS player projection system. The 8 international leagues, as well as independent minor leagues in the US, also return this year with accurate rosters.
  • Historical Negro League clubs, thanks to a partnership with OOTP’s acclaimed historical database experts and Seamheads.com. This feature allows baseball fans to explore the rich history of a bygone era, create compelling what-if scenarios, pit major league clubs against their Negro League counterparts, and much more.
  • Improvements to 3D mode, including: Even more ballpark detail; better on-field player models and enhanced on-field decisions; and the ability to save all 3D highlights and watch a highlight reel, whether the game was played out or simulated.
  • Custom and real world tournaments for all the teams included in the game. National and international tournaments are a breeze to create, as is the ability to import historical teams.
  • Extensive AI improvements, including roster management, trades, and in-game decision-making.
  • A redesigned injury system that features detailed injury histories for all players, little nagging long-term injuries, and more.
  • Many more improvements, including:
    • A beautiful new interface
    • Improved game recaps
    • An upgraded player morale/team chemistry system
    • Enhanced play-by-play text and league news
    • A sophisticated system for team relegation and promotion between leagues
    • The ability to retain player salaries in trades
    • The incorporation of many 2017 CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) rule changes
    • Faster import speeds of historical minor league seasons

OOTP 18 runs on PC/Mac/Linux and, like last year, it features the American League and National League logos, the World Series trophy, official logos and jerseys for all 30 MLB teams, over 150 Minor League Baseball league and team logos, and historical MLB logos.

“Fans have been overwhelmingly positive about Out of the Park Baseball 18 since it was announced in January,” said lead developer, lifelong baseball fan, and Out of the Park Developments CEO Markus Heinsohn. “We’re thrilled to deliver a game that will allow us to dramatically expand our online community and delight a new generation of fans.”

“Out of the Park Baseball has been setting the bar high for sports management games over the past 18 years, and this year’s edition is no different,” said Out of the Park Developments CMO Richard Grisham. “Every time I think they can’t top last year’s version, they do it again. I tip my cap to the hardest-working development team in video games.”
About Out of the Park Developments

Out of the Park Developments is the developer of the award-winning OOTP and MLB Manager series of baseball management simulations, Franchise Hockey Manager, and Beyond the Sideline Football. German-based OOTP Developments was founded by Markus Heinsohn and Andreas Raht in 1999. OOTP Developments has consistently produced games that have met with critical acclaim, including winning Metacritic's coveted “PC Game of the Year” for the 2016 version of OOTP and "Game of the Year" for the 2007 edition of OOTP, which remains the second highest-rated PC game on Metacritic of all time. Further information on the company and its games is available from the OOTP Developments website, http://www.ootpdevelopments.com
About MLB.com

Established in June 2000 following a unanimous vote by the 30 Major League Baseball club owners to centralize all of Baseball’s Internet operations, MLB Advanced Media LP (MLBAM) is the interactive media and internet company of Major League Baseball. MLBAM manages the official league site, MLB.com,and each of the 30 individual Club sites to create the most comprehensive Major League Baseball resource on the Internet. MLB.com offers fans the most complete baseball information and interactivity across computers and mobile devices, including up-to-date statistics, game previews and summaries, extensive historical information, online ticket sales, baseball merchandise, authenticated memorabilia and collectibles, fantasy games, live full-game video streaming and in-progress and on-demand highlights, live and archived audio broadcasts, Gameday pitch-by-pitch application, Statcast tracking technology, around-the-clock hosted and specialty video programming, complete blogging capabilities, console and mobile video games and the award-winning At Bat and Ballpark mobile applications. MLBAM powers more live events across the Internet than any other company in the world.

Major League Baseball Players Association

The Major League Baseball Players Association (www.MLBPLAYERS.com ) is the collective bargaining representative for all professional baseball players of the thirty Major League Baseball teams and serves as the exclusive group licensing agent for commercial and licensing activities involving active Major League baseball players. On behalf of its members, it operates the Players Choice licensing program and the Players Choice Awards, which benefit the needy through the Major League Baseball Players Trust, a charitable foundation established and run entirely by Major League baseball players. Follow: @MLB_Players; @MLBPAClubhouse; @MLBPlayersTrust

March 02, 2017

10 Bold Red Sox Predictions


I said BOLD Kevin, not BALD....

Instead of the usual boring forecasts that I've seen projecting a Chris Sale Cy Young, Mookie MVP, and a Benintendi Rookie of the Year on the way to the Red Sox winning the division,  I have come up with a list of ten unexpected predictions for the Boston nine this year:

1. By middle of season Drew Pomeranz will be trusted as much as Porcello
2. We will get at least 10 starts from arms other than the six currently vying for rotation spots (Sale, Price, Porcello, Pomeranz, Wright, Rodriguez)(1)(2)
3. We will have a lights out bullpen by the end of summer – Kelly/Thornburg/Smith handing ball off to Kimbrel will be an opposition’s nightmare if they’re trailing in the 7th.
4. Any injury to an outfielder will expose how little organizational depth there is there
5. Betts will not get as many MVP votes as last season
6. Swihart will be a big offensive contributor by mid season
7. Brandon Workman will be on the post-season roster
8. Sandy Leon won’t
9. Mid season there will be talk about winning 100 games
10. We won’t

Check back in October to see how many of these I got wrong. I’ll be surprised if it’s less than 8 or 9.

(1) This isn’t even close to a bold prediction.  Last year our top 5 starters (in games started, not as projected on Opening Day), started 133 games.  Pomeranz and Joe Kelly were 6th and 7th most used starters, and that still left ten games started by Owens, Sullivan and Elias.  The previous season, after the 124 games started by Miley, Porcello, Kelly, Rodriguez and Buchholz, we needed 20 more starts between Owens and Wright, which still left another 18 for Masterson, Hill, Barnes, Breslow and Brian Johnson.  Don’t get me started on 2014.  And even in 2013, when everything mainly went right, we still needed 18 starts by Allen Webster, Aceves, Workman, Morales and Wright.  You can never have too much pitching!

(2) I wrote the above before the Price news broke.  I hate being right already about too much pitching, but I’ll stick to the general statement that we’ll need more than 10 starts from pitchers other than the six who pitch the most games, whoever they may be. 

February 23, 2017

Playing Pepper 2017

Tyler Thornburg. A new face to the Red Sox, and
 possibly a key piece in a shutdown bullpen
As mentioned previously, the Cardinals blog C70 at the bat at Cards Conclave hosts an annual series where bloggers from each team answer some specific questions in previewing their team's seasons.

As in previous years, other bloggers also participated including fellow Baseball Bloggers Alliance members Mike from Seamheads, Christine from Boston Red Thoughts, Nate from The Loyal Bostonian and John from The Mighty Quinn Media Machine.

To see how these Red Sox bloggers answered these questions, take a look at the Red Sox Playing Pepper page at C70 at the bat.

Below are the questions with the answers that I provided. As always, I welcome your comments and thoughts:

1.Was it a good offseason for the team?  Did they do what they needed to do?  Is there any move you wished they had made that they didn’t?
No, sort of and maybe.

It’s very difficult for any offseason that involves the retirement of a legend to be considered good. The only way it could have been, is if at some point David Ortiz said “j/k, I’m coming back!”. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

Out of the Park 18!

Vote Now!
Some exciting news from Out of the Park Baseball.  OOTP18 is coming soon and below is their official press release.  Fans will have a chance to vote on who will be on the digital cover of this year’s version.  

The only Boston player on the list is Chris Sale, and he’s matched up against Clayton Kershaw, but I know if enough of my readers vote, we can get a Red Sox player on there!




The official release date of the game is March 24th, but until March 23rd you can preorder and save 10% of the regular price.  You can click here to order.

February 23, 2017

Out of the Park Baseball 18 announces the Perfect Team Digital Cover Contest

Out of the Park Baseball 18, an Official Licensee of MLB.com, MLBPA, and MiLB.com, will feature a Digital Cover for the first time, highlighting baseball’s “Perfect Team” of 11 top players at each position and the top Manager in baseball - as voted by its passionate community

Follow-up to Metacritic’s 2016 PC Game of the Year will live-stream the cover team announcement then pit the “Perfect Team” winners against the “Perfect Team” runners-up

Out of the Park Developments, an official licensee of MLB.com, the MLBPA, and MiLB.com, today announced Out of the Park Baseball 18 will have a “digital cover” for the first time in its illustrious history. Instead of choosing a single player, however, OOTP 18 will be represented by a “Perfect Team” of the 11 best players at each position - plus a manager - to celebrate the launch of the followup to the Metacritic 2016 PC Game of the Year.

“As a deep strategy game, we feel that nothing better represents what Out of the Park Baseball is about than putting the best possible team on our first-ever digital cover,” said lead developer, lifelong baseball fan, and Out of the Park Developments CEO Markus Heinsohn. “Baseball is the ultimate team game, and our fans argue every day about what makes us the best possible lineup. What better way to represent what we are all about than having them vote on the best players and manager to put on the digital diamond?”

Out of the Park Baseball 18 will be officially released on March 24, 2017. The follow-up to the acclaimed Metacritic 2016 PC Game of the Year includes several exciting new features and a treasure trove of deep improvements to its award-winning gameplay. The “Perfect Team” voting contest opens February 23 and closes on March 9, 2017. Fans will be able to choose from two players at each position as well as a manager. Winners of the vote will be officially named the “Perfect Team” and will be forever enshrined on the digital cover of Out of the Park Baseball 18.

The players in the contest that will be voted on are:

C: Gary Sanchez (NYY) vs Buster Posey (SF)
1B: Freddie Freeman (ATL) vs. Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)
2B: Jason Kipnis (CLE) vs. Robinson Cano (SEA)
SS: Trea Turner (WSH) vs. Carlos Correa (HOU)
3B: Nolan Arenado (COL) vs. Manny Machado (BAL)
OF: Yoenis Cespedes (NYM) vs. J.D. Martinez (DET)
OF: Starling Marte (PIT) vs. Christian Yelich (MIA)
OF: Jose Bautista (TOR) vs. Nomar Mazara (TEX)
SP1: Jake Arrieta (CHC) vs. Max Scherzer (WSH)
SP2: Clayton Kershaw (LAD) vs. Chris Sale (BOS)
CP: Zach Britton (BAL) vs. Seung-hwan Oh (STL)
M: Joe Maddon (CHC) vs. Bruce Bochy (SF)

The link to the voting contest is here: OOTP 18 Perfect TeamVirtual Cover Contest

On March 15, Out of the Park Baseball Community Manager T.J. Lauerman will live stream the winning team announcement. On launch week, T.J. will live stream a game pitting the winners of the contest against the runners-up. All of these events will take place live on Out of the ParkDevelopments Twitch channel, and will be archived to the Out of the ParkDevelopments YouTube page for later viewing.

From today to March 23, customers may pre-order OOTP 18 for $35.99, a 10% discount off its full retail price. All pre-order purchases include early access to the Gold Master version on March 20, four days ahead of the official launch on March 24.

OOTP 18 can be pre-ordered through this link:


OOTP 18 runs on PC/Mac/Linux and, like last year, it features the American League and National League logos, the World Series trophy, official logos and jerseys for all 30 MLB teams, over 150 Minor League Baseball league and team logos, and historical MLB logos.


About Out of the Park Developments

Out of the Park Developments is the developer of the award-winning OOTP and MLB Manager series of baseball management simulations, Franchise Hockey Manager, and Beyond the Sideline Football. German-based OOTP Developments was founded by Markus Heinsohn and Andreas Raht in 1999. OOTP Developments has consistently produced games that have met with critical acclaim, including winning Metacritic's coveted “PC Game of the Year” for the 2016 version of OOTP and "Game of the Year" for the 2007 edition of OOTP, which remains the second highest-rated PC game on Metacritic of all time. Further information on the company and its games is available from the OOTP Developments website, http://www.ootpdevelopments.com

About MLB.com

Established in June 2000 following a unanimous vote by the 30 Major League Baseball club owners to centralize all of Baseball’s Internet operations, MLB Advanced Media LP (MLBAM) is the interactive media and internet company of Major League Baseball. MLBAM manages the official league site, MLB.com,and each of the 30 individual Club sites to create the most comprehensive Major League Baseball resource on the Internet. MLB.com offers fans the most complete baseball information and interactivity across computers and mobile devices, including up-to-date statistics, game previews and summaries, extensive historical information, online ticket sales, baseball merchandise, authenticated memorabilia and collectibles, fantasy games, live full-game video streaming and in-progress and on-demand highlights, live and archived audio broadcasts, Gameday pitch-by-pitch application, Statcast tracking technology, around-the-clock hosted and specialty video programming, complete blogging capabilities, console and mobile video games and the award-winning At Bat and Ballpark mobile applications. MLBAM powers more live events across the Internet than any other company in the world.

Major League Baseball Players Association

The Major League Baseball Players Association (www.MLBPLAYERS.com ) is the collective bargaining representative for all professional baseball players of the thirty Major League Baseball teams and serves as the exclusive group licensing agent for commercial and licensing activities involving active Major League baseball players. On behalf of its members, it operates the Players Choice licensing program and the Players Choice Awards, which benefit the needy through the Major League Baseball Players Trust, a charitable foundation established and run entirely by Major League baseball players. Follow: @MLB_Players; @MLBPAClubhouse; @MLBPlayersTrust



February 15, 2017

Annual Playing Pepper Preview


Jim Rice standing next to a good looking guy,
and his personalized licence plate

Every year, C70 at the Bat which is an excellent baseball blog, hosted within Cards Conclave, mainly about the  St.Louis Cardinals, gets a feel for other teams around baseball by asking bloggers of those teams a few questions about their squad. Once again, I get to be one of the writers with the privilege of sharing my thoughts on the Red Sox on their blog.

You can look here to see what I said going into the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 seasons. Maybe the sixth time is a charm, and I'll actually provide an accurate forecast.

This year I have been asked to answer the following questions:






  1. Was it a good offseason for the team?  Did they do what they needed to do?  Is there any move you wished they had made that they didn’t?
  2. 2017 starts the post-David Ortiz era. How different will that be for you and for the team?
  3. What’s the thinking on Craig Kimbrel? A bit of an off year or the beginning of a decline?
  4. Is there an unheralded player that people should keep an eye on this season?
  5. What’s your projection of the team’s record and/or where will they finish in the division?
  6. Who is your all-time favorite Red Sox and why?

If you've ever read anything I've said, you can guess the answer to the last question (look at the picture above!) but you'll need to wait until February 23rd to see the rest of my answers on C70.


February 14, 2017

25 Man Roster Predictions

(Courtesy of Doug Eisenhart / Boston.com)
Click on picture for Guide to 2017 Spring Traiing
Now that spring is officially here (I measure seasons based on baseball, not some random tilt of the Earth's rotational axis), I wanted to post my way too premature prediction on what the Red Sox Opening Day roster will look like.

There are many obvious positions, but as always, there will be some interesting choices to be made for the last couple of spots.

Let's start with the pitchers:

David Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello are guaranteed the top three spots in the rotation (in no particular order) barring any kind of disastrous injury.  The last two spots are more interesting.  The highest ceiling candidate for them is Eduardo Rodriguez.  But if he takes spot #4, who gets left out of the rotation?  Last year's AL all-star Steven Wright?  Or the lone representative from the hometown Padres in the NL all-star game, Drew Pomeranz?

January 17, 2017

Hall of Fame Ballot - FINAL

In my previous posts I have covered all the new players on this year's ballot with a link to the Red Sox as well as those of interest to my Canadian readers.  (And provided links to previous year's write-ups for returning candidates).

See links below for those articles:
Red Sox players
Canadian / Expos / Blue Jays





To summarize, I would vote for the following Red Sox players:

  • Jeff Bagwell 
  • Roger Clemens 
  • Curt Schilling 
  • Lee Smith 
  • Billy Wagner 
  • Manny Ramirez


And the following Canadians/Blue Jays/Expos:

  • Vladimir Guerrero
  • Tim Raines 
  • Edgar Martinez 
  • Fred McGriff 
  • Larry Walker 


Additionally, the following candidates would get a check mark from me:

  • Barry Bonds
  • Trevor Hoffman
  • Mike Mussina
  • Ivan Rodriguez


That’s a total of 15.  I need to remove 5.  Lee Smith (regrettably in his last year), Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner are easy choices.  As in previous years, I’ll need to erase the checkmark next to Fred McGriff’s name.  My last cut is Mike Mussina.  He deserves it, but will need to wait for a future year. 
My final ballot:

Hall of Fame Ballot - Canadians (and stuff)

There are only two new players of interest to Canadians in this year’s Hall of Fame ballot.  Matt Stairs (from New Brunswick) and Vlad Guerrero (long time Expos player).

The returning candidates are:
Tim Raines (10th year, 70% last year)
Roger Clemens (5, 45%)
Edgar Martinez (8, 43%)
Fred McGriff (8, 21%)
Jeff Kent (4, 21%)
Larry Walker (7, 16%)

I’ve previously made cases for all these guys (and explained why they should be on the list of players of interest to Canadians) except Jeff Kent.  And I think every year I end up with no room for McGriff and he gets dropped off my ballot.  But Raines, Clemens, Edgar and Walker are no brainers.

Now for the new guys on the list:

Matt Stairs – already covered him in my Red Sox post. Love the guy, but no.

Vladimir Guerrero – The raw back of baseball card numbers: .318 batting average, 449 home runs, 181 steals. We've evolved to where we determine the worthiness of a player on more than just these numbers, but it is worth mentioning that NOBODY in the history of baseball has him beat on all three.  Quick: What do no doubt Hall of Famers, Reggie Jackson, Yaz, George Brett, and Ken Griffey have in common?  They all have a career OPS (and OPS+ adjusted for the eras they played in) lower than Guerrero's. He had a stretch of 10 years where he AVERAGED an OPS+ of 151.   There were three guys who bested that in the NL last year.  It's not a question of whether he should get in or not. It's a question of whether or not it will be an insult to not have him in as a first ballot Hall of Famer!

January 16, 2017

Hall of Fame Ballot - Red Sox players

There are a ton of former Red Sox on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot;

The returning candidates are:
Jeff Bagwell (7th year, 72% last year)
Roger Clemens (5th, 45%)
Curt Schilling (5th, 52%)
Lee Smith (15th, 34%)
Billy Wagner (2nd, 11%)
They all have a legitimate case for the Hall, and although I won’t vote for all of them, you can read the cases I’ve made for each in the previous years’ posts.

There are also nine first timers. Unfortunately, eight of these will likely be one timers.  The new members on the ballot, who I will share my thoughts about below, are:

Orlando Cabrera
Mike Cameron
JD Drew
Manny Ramirez
Edgar Renteria
Freddy Sanchez
Matt Stairs
Jason Varitek
Tim Wakefield