Home > MLB, NFL > August 25 – No Way Jose!, NFL Re-Preview (Part 4 of 8)

August 25 – No Way Jose!, NFL Re-Preview (Part 4 of 8)

When I typed in Jose Bautista into Google today, the first suggestion was “Jose Bautista steroids” – so obviously the debate is out there. He currently has 40 homers. Pujols is 2nd in MLB with 33.

Bautista never hit more than 16 HRs in a season before this year. He is 29 years old. Fangraphs.com pointed out that this HR tear actually started last year, when he hit 10 of his 13 HRs in September/October. Bautista credits the newfound power to a change in his batting stance and approach. Counting last Sept/Oct and this year, he is hitting a HR in about every 13 plate appearances. (In their “record-breaking” seasons, Bonds hit one every 8.7 Pas, and McGwire hit one about every 10 PAs).

So I’ll leave the question to you guys: Statistical anomaly or something else? Can a batting approach change make such a difference? Have we seen someone who is allegedly juicing see such a HR/PA shift in the middle of a year? Hasn’t he been tested? Is this more unusual in a pitcher-friendly season? Another Brady Anderson? Luis Gonzalez? Fire away!

Here’s the AFC North :

Baltimore Ravens:

The Ravens had a nice year last year on both sides of the ball. The fact their D played well was probably no surprise to anyone. What was surprising, however, was the number of points the offense put up. Seven games with 30+ points made Joe Flacco a nice waiver pickup in many fantasy leagues. Ray Rice became a stud. They pulled off a nice win in New England in the playoffs, only to lose in the 2nd round to Indy. My model did OK with the Ravens, going 8-6-1, and 7-7-1 on over/unders. 2010 Outlook :  This team got better in the off-season. Much better.  Flacco now has weapons – Boldin, Stallworth, Mason. The running game is top tier. The D-Line and linebackers are strong. Only weakness I see is a very banged-up secondary. Despite that, I have them at 11-5, winning the North, and a serious Super Bowl contender.

Cincinnati Bengals:

The 2009 Bengals were a team that the model saw as “good from far, but far from good”. They won the division, no doubt, but a closer look reveals flaws: Of their 10 wins, only one was by more than 10 points. Four of those games were wins against division rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore, granted, but they also had ugly wins against the Browns, Lions, and Chiefs. The trend caught up with them when they lost 2 of their last 3 (again, not including Week 17), and then lost at home to the Jets in Round 1. The model picked up on the mirage, and went 10-5 with the Bengals, and 6-9 in over/unders. 2010 Outlook :  Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer have done a nice job with the defense. They picked up a couple of nice receivers for Carson Palmer in Antonio Bryant and T.O.  But I see this team being a little more true to their colors in 2010 than in 2009. I have them going 8-8 with a difficult 2010 schedule.

Cleveland Browns:

The Browns were bad again, but another “extreme” team. Consider this : 8 times the Browns scored under 10 points. Twice they scored 37 and 41 points (DET, KC). They did finish well, winning their last 4, including a nice defensive win against the hated Steelers. It didn’t convince ownership though – neither did the 1-11 start – and therefore the off-season overhaul. I went 9-6, and 5-10 on over/unders. 2010 Outlook :  Mangini surprisingly stayed, but almost everything around him transformed in an effort to change the climate. Enter Jake Delhomme, Alex Smith, Seneca Wallace, Scott Fujita, Sheldon Brown. Exit Derek Anderson/Brady Quinn, Jamal Lewis. This will be a different looking team, and going in the right direction, but not quite there yet. Expect another year of 4-5 wins.

Pittsburgh Steelers:

The model did very well with the Steelers to the tune of a 11-3-1 record (5-9-1 over/unders). It was a disappointing year for the Steelers in several aspects : The running game disappeared (Mendenhall was good, but obviously couldn’t be the only guy), the passing game was inconsistent, and the famed Steel Curtain D wasn’t effective – they only held opponents under 15 points twice (and one of those was a loss). The loss of Polamalu definitely hurt. 2010 Outlook :  A turbulent off-season leaves this team with many questions. They lose Roethlisberger for 4 to 6 games. They have enough of Santonio Holmes and ship him to New York. They get no real help for Mendenhall. I feel confident Tomlin and a returning Polamalu will get the D playing better, but so many questions….I have them at 8 wins, and out of the playoffs for a 2nd straight year.

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