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Archive for August, 2013|Monthly archive page

Matt Carpenter

In Baseball on August 28, 2013 at 6:03 pm

By definition, Plan B is a worse option than Plan A. Plan B takes longer or is more expensive or won’t work as well as Plan A. During spring training 2013, Matt Carpenter was definitely a Plan B kind of player. So it wasn’t a good sign when the St. Louis Cardinals plugged him in at third base to replace the oft-injured David Freese for Opening Day. Carpenter might have been Plan B at third base, but he’s quickly turned himself into the Cardinals’ Plan A at second.

For the last few seasons, if a Cardinal named Carpenter appeared on any National League leaderboards, it was Chris, and they were the pitching categories. But if you look at the 2013 top 10 lists, you’ll see Carp the Younger appears quite a few times. His 5.3 WAR ranks sixth among N.L. position players — ahead of MVP candidate/teammate Yadier Molina — and ninth among all NL players. In fact, his 5.1 offensive WAR is ranked third in the NL, behind only Andrew McCutchen and David Wright. Carpenter’s .313 batting average is sixth best in the league. He ranks 10th in both on-base percentage and OPS. And he currently leads the league in hits, doubles and runs scored. Read the rest of this entry »

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Francisco Liriano

In Baseball on August 24, 2013 at 3:26 pm

When people look for healing waters, they usually go to Lourdes. It’s rustic, picturesque and mysterious. It’s everything that Pittsburgh is not. But every fifth day in 2013, the waters of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers have shown their own healing powers when Francisco Liriano climbs the mound at PNC Park.

With a little more than a month remaining in the regular season, Liriano has quietly established (or re-established, but we’ll get to that later) himself as one of the best starters in the National League. His 14 wins are tied for first among NL pitchers. He’s tied for fourth in the NL in complete games. And if an early-season stint on the disabled list hadn’t limited his innings, both his 2.53 ERA and 141 ERA+ would be fifth best in the league.

It’s always remarkable when a pitcher metamorphoses from mediocrity to dominance, especially when it’s a rapid transformation. In Liriano’s case, the contrast between his decidedly average 2012 and his outstanding 2013 emphasizes that change — that it wasn’t always like this. But the mid-career renaissance of a 29-year-old veteran pitcher is only one angle of the story. Read the rest of this entry »

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