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Random Thoughts on Longoria, CHONE, and Baseball Cards

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I've had a couple thoughts bouncing around my head today and I haven't been able to turn any of them into full-length posts, so here's a combination of them all. Enjoy:

Longoria Loves the Spring

Just like last year, Evan Longoria has opened up the season on a blistering pace. He currently has a .454 Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA), seven home runs, and 20 RBIs, 4 SB, and 1.8 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) - tying him for third in the majors in WAR, trailing only Chase Utley (2.2 WAR) and Roy Halladay (1.9 WAR). Evan started off hot last year too, cooled down in the summer months, and then he heated back up again in September and October. Should we expect Longo to follow this same trend again, or is there a reason to believe that he won't drop off quite as low this season? For the sake of comparison, let's compare his March/April numbers for the past two seasons:

wOBA

BABIP

BB%

K%

LD%

FB%

HR/FB

2009

0.479

0.403

8.6%

20.2%

26.5%

41.2%

21.4%

2010

0.419

0.410

10.0%

27.3%

22.7%

40.9%

18.5%

So Longoria has gotten lucky this season as well - as evidenced by his very high BABIP - but he's not hitting home runs or line drives at unsustainable rates like last year. Also, he's shown more plate discipline this season, even if he has been striking out more. In other words, Longoria is not going to finish the year with a batting average over .350, but otherwise he seems to be playing at a realistic pace. Pitchers are going to adjust to him and he's going to go through some rough stretches, but there's no reason why we should expect a huge mid-summer drop like last year.

Next two thoughts after the jump.

Updated CHONE Projections

New CHONE projections for 2010 were released a few days ago, so Steve Sommer used the projections to update playoff probabilities for every division. Here are the results for the AL East: 

 

Ps P%

C DW%

C WC%

C P%

Yankees

83%

66%

22%

88%

Rays

33%

19%

35%

54%

Red Sox

64%

15%

32%

47%

Orioles

3%

0%

0%

0%

Blue Jays

1%

0%

0%

0%

* "The tables contain preseason playoff probability (PS P%), current probability to win the division (C DW%), current probability to win the wild card (C WC%), and current playoff probability (C P%)."

Personally, I think these numbers are underestimating the Rays. CHONE was very high on the Yankees (98 wins) and Red Sox (93 wins) before the season began, and less enthusiastic about the Rays (88 wins), so this initial disparity makes the Rays' 7-game lead much less impressive. Of course, if you were to assume that the Rays are only two wins worse than the Red Sox as opposed to five (which I think is more likely), then our playoff probability jumps up quite a bit. Then again, these numbers also show that it's way too early to count out the Sox.

We Need Cheaper Baseball Cards

Jeff Zimmerman has an article up on Beyond the Boxscore about how expensive baseball card packs have become, and why that's a bad thing. As a baseball card enthusiast, I agree - paying three or four dollars for a pack with eight cards in it is ridiculous, especially if you're trying to get kids to buy your product. I can't justify spending that sort of money on packs, and there are lots of cheaper places for kids to spend their money. Something needs to be done.