Weekend Rambling: The 2023 Offence

Am I the only one who thinks it’s weird that baseball doesn’t have an ideal term for the non-pitcher part of the roster? You can say “the fielders” but there’s also a DH, you can say “the lineup” but there are bench players, you can say “the offence” but almost every player has to be considered on the defensive spectrum as well. Anyway, you get the idea.

As the third and final installment of this mini-series, this one has a lot of just stating the obvious, the same way I did with the top three starting pitchers, but also a maybe surprising amount of caveats and qualifications to anything that you might want to firmly declare. But we need a starting place, so let me go with this: while this offense could certainly use some tweaks and no team, particularly a contender, simply rolls over the same basic roster from one season to the next, let’s not misunderstand a core truth here – this team is GOOD.
As a group, you can look at both team results and also go position by position. While it’s true that offence is down some from the year before in many cases, it is like that across the league (T …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation

The Similarities Between Kevin Gausman and Pedro Martinez, and thoughts on the Blue Jays’ Ace Righty

Since the turn of the century, there have only been four full seasons in which an American League starter has posted a FIP of less than 2.25…

Pedro Martinez, 2002 (2.24 FIP)
Pedro Martinez, 2003 (2.21 FIP)
Pedro Martinez, 2000 (2.17 FIP)
Kevin Gausman, 2022 (2.01 FIP)
The side note to this is that Shane Bieber technically did it too, with a 2.07 FIP in 2020. The reason that’s easily excludable though, is that Bieber only pitched 77.0 innings, and all of them were against statistically weaker Central division teams.
So, since 2000, the only American League pitchers that have been this good are Pedro Martinez and Kevin Gausman. But the similarities between the righties don’t stop there. Let’s take a closer look.

The extent to which Martinez and Gausman are similar does not start early.
Pedro spent his first two years as a Dodger, where he didn’t often make starts, but was a great impact pitcher out of the bullpen. He only pitched 115 innings in L.A. but had a sub-3.00 ERA and FIP. After the 1993 season, the Dodgers made what has to be considered one of the worst trades in franchise history. Manager Tommy Lasorda, in need of a second baseman and not believing Pedro to be a starting pitcher, dealt the young right-hander to Montreal for the original Delino DeShields. DeShields was a very good Expo, he had recorded 11.6 fWAR and a 111 wRC+ in the four seasons prior to making his move to the City of Angels. He was, however, an okay Dodger at best. He only spent three seasons there, was a 20 percent below-average hitter, and averaged 0.9 fWAR per season.
Pedro Martinez was just a little bit better as an Expo. He averaged 5.0 fWAR per season, including a whopping 8.5 in 1997, the year in which he won his first …

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Author: Tate Kispech / Blue Jays Nation

TLN Prospect #6: Alex Steeves’ next step is a spot in the Maple Leafs lineup

Alex Steeves only wanted to do one thing when he entered the Maple Leafs organization last year, and that was dominate.
It was like the 22-year-old was shot out of a cannon when he made his professional hockey debut with the Marlies. He was coming off an injury in the prospect tournament a month earlier, but you couldn’t even tell with the way he was playing.
Through his first 13 games, Steeves scored 14 points — a sign that he was someone that not many could handle at that moment.
Alex Steeves
LW/RW | Toronto (AHL) | Age: 22 | 5-foot-11 | 185 lbs | Shoots: LAcquired: UDFA Signing, 03/28/21 | 2021 Ranking: N/A
The 22-year-old eventually dropped down to earth, finishing off his first pro season with 46 points in 58 games. A great total at that but what was more spectacular was the fact that he tied the old Marlies rookie goal record of 23 goals.
Another rookie in Bobby McMann scored one more goal and etched his name in the record books, but Steeves’ total shouldn’t be understated either.
When looking at him as a prospect, there’s a lot of excitement around the player he could pan out to be. By this time next year, the 22-year-old might not even be recognized as a prospect anymore.
Similar to Pontus Holmberg, Nick Robertson, and B …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

3 reasons Raptors fans should get hyped over Christian Koloko

3 reasons Raptors fans should get hyped over Christian Koloko

The Toronto Raptors only had one draft pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, but they were largely considered to have hit a home run by taking Arizona center Christian Koloko at No. 33 overall. Even though he is a bit of a work in progress, his talent is obvious. Koloko has officially wrapped up Summer […]
3 reasons Raptors fans should get hyped over Christian Koloko – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

A crowded Leafs blueline means that someone could soon be traded

The 2022 Free Agent Frenzy has only been three days old and the Leafs have made a number of signings already. But besides the addition of Ilya Samsonov, most have been depth additions or fringe players on low-risk deals.
Two more players were given such contracts when the Leafs nabbed Victor Mete and Jordie Benn to identical one-year deals on Thursday night. Regardless of whether they get NHL action or not, it is clear Kyle Dubas wants to ensure his team has its bases covered for each position.
Related:
Leafs add Jordie Benn and Victor Mete as defensive depth
As a by-product of these signings, the Leafs now have eight NHL defensemen under contract along with Rasmus Sandin, who was given a qualifying offer but remains unsigned. Simply put, there are too many bodies on the blueline and something has to give or else someone won’t be getting much playing time.
Surely, this means a trade will soon follow, right?
Let’s start by crossing off the players who are unlikely to be dealt. Morgan Rielly’s new contract is set to kick in and is their best defenceman, he’s not going anywhere. Mark Giordano just signed a two-year deal so it’s unlikely he gets dealt so soon, especially since he provided a ton of value. TJ Brodie has been an integral piece on the blueline for the past two years and is also staying put. And Timothy Liljegren is not getting dealt because he has made impressive strides …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Around the NHL: The Ivan Fedotov saga, an upswing of minority hires and a new face in Los Angeles

With only two nights remaining until the NHL entry draft, teams have been scrambling to fill their management and coaching positions. Along with the plethora of new hires, free agents are starting to come off the board, there has been a massive trade and there continues to be plenty of speculation on future movement.
Despite all this, the biggest story now surrounds a player who has never played an NHL game. Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ivan Fedotov will miss the 2022-23 season because he is currently detained at a Russian military base.
Ivan Fedotov
A Flyers draft pick in 2015, Fedotov has spent his entire career playing in Russia. After becoming a high-quality starter over the last three years in the KHL, Fedotov finally decided to sign with the Flyers and make his North American debut this fall.
Once this contract was signed, Fedotov was sought out by Russian military for an alleged attempt to evade mandatory service. Shortly after, he was hospitalized with gastritis although he had no released medical concerns in the weeks prior.
He remains detained at the remote military base, and it has been reported he will not play in 2022-23. His current state of health is unknown as is the future of his hockey career. …

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Author: Scott Ony / The Leafs Nation