Category Archives: MLB

Baseball

This Week in Bill

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(Credit: Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports)

– Bill Annechino

News broke on Tuesday that the Mets had reached a deal to bring Yoenis Cespedes back.  The details of this contract are four years and $110 million.  The more mathematically-inclined readers will point out that this is an average of $27.5 million dollars per season.  If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is:  This represents the second-highest annual average guarantee for a position player, ever.  So, the question on everyone’s mind is:  Is this a good deal?  Let’s find out.  Continue reading

The Flagrant Foul’s MLB Awards

LA's Corey Seager had an incredible first season. (Getty Images)

LA’s Corey Seager had an incredible first season. (Getty Images)

– Bill Annechino

By the time you read this column, the MLB will have handed out its Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards, with the Most Valuable Player to follow.  As is always the case with awards, some people will think the committee nailed it, while others will take issue with some, or all, of the selections.  My goal here is to take an unbiased look at the candidates and winners, and try to figure out where the selection committee was right, and where they fell short.  All statistics for this column come courtesy of Fangraphs, unless otherwise noted.   Continue reading

The Definitive MLB Free Agency Preview

Aroldis Chapman is a World Series Champion and is about to get a whole hell of a lot richer. (Getty Images)

Aroldis Chapman is a World Series Champion and is about to get a whole hell of a lot richer. (Getty Images)

– Bill Annechino

With the Hot Stove season of MLB about to start, I figured this would be as good a time as any to offer a free agent primer.  I wanted my primer to be a little different than the typical Listicles that you will find in that I will not be ranking my free agents by traditional “slash line” stats or the Triple Crown stats.  Instead, I am focusing on advanced stats.  For hitters, this means I will be looking at weighted on base average (wOBA), park-adjusted weighted runs created (wrc+), batting average on balls in play (BABIP), and wins above replacement (fWAR).  For pitchers, those statistics are going to be park-adjusted expected fielding independent pitching (xFIP-), batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and wins above replacement (fWAR), of which the “f” signifies that it is the Fangraphs stat, as every statistics outlet calculates WAR somewhat differently.  Since I’m a great guy and I want you, the reader, to have a more nuanced understanding of baseball for having read my article, I’ll take a second to explain these statistics.  For the purposes of this column, all statistics and terminologies are via Fangraphs.com, which is a website that you should be reading and using, if you aren’t already. Continue reading

The Flagrant Foul’s Top 5 Baseball Games Ever and a NFL Week 9 Preview

While you were dodging frozen pigs and escaping from a frozen hell, the impossible happened: the Cubs won the World Series.

While you were dodging frozen pigs and escaping from a frozen hell, the impossible happened: the Cubs won the World Series.

– Bill Annechino

If you want a quick recap of what’s happened in sports since my last column, there are really only three things you need to know:  

The first thing is that the Thursday night game was yet another non-competitive game, this time by way of a Falcons blowout.  It has to be considered troubling for Tampa Bay that Jameis Winston’s development has largely plateaued.  This is only his second season in the league, so it’s possible for him to take a big step forward between this year and next year (think Derek Carr), but you have to think that the Buccaneers were expecting to be getting more out of their franchise quarterback by now.   Continue reading

Game 7 World Series Preview: A Prelude to History

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The Cubs bats (especially Kris Bryant’s) came alive as they rolled over Cleveland in Game 6. (Getty Images)

Bill Annechino

Yesterday, I predicted the Cubs would win Game 6, and go on to win the World Series in 7 games. So far, the first half of that prediction has come true. Both the Indians and the Cubs now stand 1 game away from their first World Series title in quite some time; perhaps you have heard this storyline? With the Cubs sending Kyle Hendricks to the mound to face off against Corey Kluber, this is probably the best match up that either fan base could have asked for. If you’re Cleveland, you have to feel good about Kluber’s chances, after he has already come out and dominated 2 starts in this World Series, not unlike Madison Bumgarner in 2014. Chicago, meanwhile, should feel good about Kyle Hendricks, who led the Majors in ERA this year. In a fascinating wrinkle, Cleveland’s home field advantage has been effectively neutralized by the presence of Kyle Schwarber, who is only hitting as a DH, due to his miraculously quick recovery from a torn ACL suffered at the beginning of this season. This game, to me, hinges on whether or not the Indians’ ace will be able to dominate like he has all Series, or if a combination of the Cubs seeing him a third time in 9 days and this being his second straight start on short rest proves to be too much for Kluber to overcome. In this article, I am going to compare Kluber’s first 2 World Series starts to see if we can gain any insight into what his third might look like, as well as look at Kyle Hendricks’ lone start to try to figure out what a winning game plan for him may look like, before making my pick for Game 7 and whether or not I will stick to my original prediction. Continue reading

Arrieta’s Approach and Chicago’s Chances

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For better or worse, Game 6 will go the way of Jake Arrieta (credit: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

– Bill Annechino

I have a friend who is a lifelong Cubs fan.  Before and during last night’s game 5, I told this friend that if the Cubs win, they are going to win the World Series.  At this point, the few people reading this column are probably asking themselves why I would think this, given that the Indians have had the Cubs’ number so far this series.  The answer to this question lies in the advantage I believe the Cubs will enjoy having Kyle Schwarber back in the lineup in the American League park as well as seeing Corey Kluber a third time in 9 days, but it starts with Game 6, and all eyes will be on Jake Arrieta, a pitcher who, since his arrival to the Cubs, has gone from a Quadruple-A type pitcher with the Orioles to a Cy Young winner.  The biggest part of his transformation has been, in my opinion, a sharp increase in the amount of ground balls that he is able to induce.  By looking at some of his pitching tendencies, I am going to outline a clear path for the Cubs to win Game 6 and induce the all-important Game 7.  Continue reading

The Hard Foul Podcast: Episode 75

Tyrod Taylor returns to Baltimore as the Bills kickoff the 2016 season. (Getty Images)

If Shady McCoy is out this week the Bills will count on Tyrod Taylor to beat Miami. (Getty Images)

On an all new Hard Foul Podcast Evan Sally, Jim Bearor and Bill Annechino previewed Bills/Dolphins*, Giants/Rams in London and some of the big games around the league. We finished the show touching on the MLB Postseason.

Two Ways to Listen:

iTunes   SoundCloud Continue reading

Remembering Jose Fernandez

Rest in peace Jose Fernandez, a life taken away too soon. (Getty Images)

Rest in peace Jose Fernandez. (Getty Images)

– Cruz Serrano

Sometimes it’s hard to fathom the amount of energy and passion fans dump into players, teams, and sports in general. I have laughed, cried, screamed and experienced everything in-between when watching games and matches. I have watched my favorite players go to other teams, fade into oblivion as time wore them down, and even retire on a high note, off to enjoy a lifetime with a little less spotlight. But I can honestly say that the emotions I have felt while being a sports fan has never quite struck the same chord as the news of Jose Fernandez’s passing.   Continue reading

Baseball’s Back! A NL West Preview

The Dodgers won the division last year. Can they repeat and make the next step this season? (Getty Images)

The Dodgers won the division last year. Can they repeat and make the next step this season? (Getty Images)

Cruz Serrano

The seasons still early, and the hope of spring still burns on for almost all 30 major league teams outside Minnesota and Atlanta. As things start to heat up, the races will follow suit. The Wild West will be no exception, with at least three possible contenders in that division (sorry Rockies and Friars, maybe next year?).

Mike Tolsma and I have decided to take turns previewing divisions, and I would like to thank him for his awesome format for doing so. Like Mike, I also value depth, but I will also try and look at things from an analytical standpoint as I am often prone to doing. Continue reading

Baseball’s Back! – NL Central Preview

Jason Heyward was among the Cubs big acquisitions this offseason. (Getty Images)

Jason Heyward was among the Cubs big acquisitions this offseason. (Getty Images)

Cruz Serrano

As I’m typing this, I’m watching the Atlanta Braves play in one of their split squad games against the Houston Astros. The chill is still in the air here in Buffalo, but the spring equinox has passed and regular season baseball is less than 10 days away.

Mike Tolsma and I have decided to take turns previewing divisions, and I would like to thank him for his awesome format for doing so. Like Mike, I also value depth, but I will also try and look at things from an analytical standpoint as I am often prone to doing. Continue reading