Raise your hand if you thought that Puerto Rico would make it as far as they have in the World Baseball Classic. Okay, now raise your hand if you thought that Puerto Rico would knock off the defending champ (Team Japan) to reach the WBC title game. If you raised your hand I can't say I believe you, but good for you if you really did believe in them. This will hopefully do great things for the support of the baseball league in Puerto Rico.
Previously on Beyond the Box Score
One-Run Game Performance is Unsustainable by Blake Murphy - Beyond the Box Score
The Baltimore Orioles went 29-9 in one-run games in 2012 and Blake does a good bit of research to show that it's highly unlikely that will happen again. I agree that the Orioles won't be winning close games at that rate this season, or probably ever again, but we can't discount what they did from August through the end of the season last year.
Spring Training: Preparation or Tradition? by Ben Horrow - Beyond the Box Score
Ben wonders whether Spring Training could be structured better by allowing veteran players, who can be counted on to be ready by Opening Day, to show up a little later - thus allowing the prospects and guys fighting for roster spots a few extra critical innings to showcase their abilities.
An Alternative To The 3000 Hit Club (And Hits In General) by Lee Trocinski - Beyond the Box Score
Lee comes up with an alternative to the 3,000 Hit Club by looking at total times on base instead. I actually like his method better because it's a bit more all-encompassing than simply looking at hits.
The Indians May Improve Their Pitching By Adding Defense by Mike Mulvenna - Beyond the Box Score
We saw what can happen to a starting rotation when you improve the defense, the 2012 Baltimore Orioles are a good example of that from August of last year on. The Cleveland Indians seem to have helped themselves out quite a bit by adding some defense to their club this year as well. I'm still not certain it will be enough to do battle with the Detroit Tigers over the long haul of the season but they should definitely win more games than they did last year.
wSalary (part 3): Best and Worst Valued Contracts of 2012 by Max Weinstein - Beyond the Box Score
I can't say that I'm surprised at the top two names on the list for worst valued contracts of 2012 but I do find it funny that they are now teammates.
Scouting Prospects Isn't All About Lists by Ben Horrow - Beyond the Box Score
Ben makes a really good point about how scouting prospects isn't all about lists, nor should it be, but people love their lists and as long as the information in them is top notch then they will continue to do well with the readers.
Scoring Positional Utility -- Introducing McE by Bryan Grosnick - Beyond the Box Score
I've always wondered about how valuable the super-utility guy was because he could play multiple positions for a team and Bryan did a great job of shedding some light on that. I think it should be renamed though - the Ryan Flaherty Score. I hope my love for Flaherty hasn't gotten weird (yet).
Around the Sabersphere
Puerto Rico humble Japan to reach WBC title game by Larry Fine - NBC Sports
I don't think anyone saw this coming; the ultimate David versus the ultimate Goliath for the chance to compete for the WBC title. Good for Puerto Rico as they could really benefit from the additional exposure this tournament will bring to their baseball league back home. Plus I'm also excited that we'll see something different this time around (meaning Japan won't have a chance to win their third WBC in a row).
Defending the World Baseball Classic by Dan Lependorf | The Hardball Times
I really like where Dan goes with his case for the WBC because far too often (just peruse Twitter for a while) many seem to think the WBC is meaningless if the United States team isn't dominating it.
Stat of the Week | ACTA Sports
This is pretty cool. John Dewan takes a look at the best defensive players of the decade and in this piece (Part III) he looks at outfielders.
Around SB Nation
Biogenesis PED scandal: MLB targeting clinic clients by Matt Sullivan - MLB Daily Dish
Commissioner Bud Selig is really looking to put his stamp on the ongoing PED scandal(s) in the game as he has his sights set on players such as Alex Rodriguez and even more so Ryan Braun. It could be tricky, though, as the Players Union is likely to put up some form of a fight.
No surprise as Phillies announce Opening Day starter by Rob Neyer - Baseball Nation
If Roy Halladay was completely healthy, and capable, then the battle for the Opening Day start would have been a bit less obvious.
What If Mark Teixeira Needs Surgery? by Jason Cohen - Pinstriped Bible
The Yankees don't have many options to replace Mark Teixeira. Derek Lee turned them down and Chipper Jones isn't coming out of retirement. Are the Yankees in trouble this season?
Prospect Retrospective: CC Sabathia, LHP, New York Yankees by John Sickels - Minor League Ball
John takes a look back at CC Sabathia the prospect and how he developed into CC Sabathia the ace.
Outside the Sabersphere
42 Official Trailer #2 (2013) - YouTube
I would love to find just one fan of baseball that is not absolutely excited to see this movie. My only question, as it pertains to any move that is "Based on a True Story", is just how accurate are they going to depict the story of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier?