Welcome to “Marty's Musings,” my weekly column of numbers summarizing the past week in Major League Baseball and looking forward to this week’s key matchups. I am your guide for taking an analytic look at the previous week in MLB and previewing some of this next week, identifying numbers that are generally not found in a standard box score.
We had time to reflect on a fun 2016. The Cubs are champs for the next twelve or so months, and the Braves have already added two veteran starters to their rotation. It’s all in this week’s Musings.
The hot stove
144 - Free agents identified by MLB Trade Rumors. While a couple players have new teams already, it’s worth bookmarking a 2017 free agent list, since once the Winter Meetings come and go, most of the dominos will fall quickly.
It is a particularly difficult market for starting pitching, highlighted by this year’s blue-chip free agents, 37-year-old Rich Hill and 34-year-old Jason Hammel. While teams had an opportunity to vastly improve their rotation last offseason by adding Max Scherzer, David Price, or Cole Hamels, this year’s starting pitcher crop is quite thin.
3 - Impressive relievers available to sign via free agency. Relief pitching served as the common theme across a majority of the postseason. Both the Cubs and Indians leveraged their best relief pitchers, to the point where neither Aroldis Chapman nor Andrew Miller were overly effective in game seven of the World Series, possibly due to fatigue.
This offseason, teams can greatly upgrade their reliever corps with Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon all available.
2 - New pitchers for the Atlanta Braves, who signed both R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon. Dickey is only four years removed from his 2012 Cy Young but at this point is more of an average/slightly below-average pitcher. His 104 ERA- and 117 FIP- were not a major factor in the Blue Jays 2016 success, though he did throw nearly 170 innings. Dickey agreed to a one-year deal with a 2018 club option.
Colon will make $12.5 million next year, a steep raise from the $7.25 million he earned with the Mets in 2016. Last season he posted 2.9 fWAR over the course of 191.2 innings, and served as an anchor for a New York pitching staff that churned through young pitchers as Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Stephen Matz, and Noah Syndergaard all worked through various injuries (both long-term and short-term) and DL stints.
11 - Players in MLB history who walked away from a single season with as much hardware as Anthony Rizzo. This year Rizzo earned a gold glove, a silver slugger award, and won the World Series. Both Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter accomplished the feat in 2009.
3.0 - Defensive bWAR for Kevin Kiermaier, the Rays who led all American League players. Brandon Crawford’s 2.7 defensive bWAR led the National League. Despite the award suffering from some reputational problems (there have been some rather curious selections in the past), both players received Gold Gloves in 2016.
$114.5m - Chicago White Sox payroll in 2016. Rumors are currently swirling that the south-siders are expecting a huge selloff this offseason. With two top starting pitchers available as trade-bait, the time may never be better for the Chicago brass to sell.
Jose Quintana made a comparatively modest (by today’s star pitching standards) $3.8 million. That number will jump to $6 million for 2017, $8.35 million in 2018, and $10.5 million in 2019. He is remarkably affordable for someone who has consistently posted between 4.8 and 5.1 fWAR the last three seasons.
Chris Sale is another interesting case. Sale is also signed through 2019, though he’ll cost teams between $12 and $13.5 million per year. The higher price compared to Quintana makes sense from a performance perspective, as Sale has earned 16.6 fWAR over the last three years.
2/2017 - The start of the World Baseball Classic. Last week confirmed both Max Scherzer and Chris Archer will lead the Team USA pitching rotation. With top talent from around the world, the WBC is a great way to expand the game globally. Plus, it’s way better than watching the snow and pining for MLB!
143 - Days to Opening Day!