The 2013 MLB season is long since over, but it's never too late to reflect on the season. Let's take a look at the five things to take away from the 2013 MLB season.
5. The no-hitters, and near no-hitters.
Three pitchers threw no-hitters in 2013. Three pitchers lost no-hitters in the ninth inning in 2013.
April 2 -- Yu Darvish came one out away from a no-hitter against the Astros, but Marwin Gonzalez had other plans. A clean single ruined the bid for a no-hitter, but the gem by Darvish was only the beginning of his fantastic season. TEX 7, HOU 0
May 24 -- Anibal Sanchez had thrown 8.1 of no-hit ball, but then Joe Mauer stepped to the plate. Mauer delivered a one-out single to center, and Sanchez was left without a no-no. DET 6, MIN 0
July 2 -- Homer Bailey finally found the first no-hitter of 2013, shutting down the San Francisco Giants in Great American Ballpark. The second no-hitter of Bailey's career, and the first of 2013 was something that you should definitely go back and watch. CIN 3, SFG 0
July 13 -- Petco Park being home the only team without a no-hitter, the Padres, got it's first no-hitter on July 13, 2013. It came against the Padres, rather than for them. Tim Lincecum wanted in on the fun after being at Homer Bailey no-no. Eleven days later, Lincecum dazzled, and threw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. SFG 9, SDP 0
September 6 -- The Giants were looking to get their second no-hitter of the season, this time behind Yusmeiro Petit. With two outs in the ninth, Arizona's Eric Chavez delivered a single to right field. SFG 3, ARZ 0
September 29 -- Henderson Alvarez (MIA), on the last day of the season, pitched nine no-hit innings. The score, however, was tied at 0. Standing in the on deck circle, Alvarez saw his team walk-off on a wild pitch, and finish off the job well done. What an experience for the pitcher. MIA 1, DET 0
4. The Suprise Playoff Teams
Cleveland Indians -- The Indians played very consistent baseball throughout this entire season, and in September, Terry Francona took it up a notch. Going 21-6 in the month of September, the Indians great run jolted them into the AL Wild Card game. The run ended there as they got shutout to the Rays, 4-0.
Pittsburgh Pirates -- They finally did it. The Pirates, for the first time since 1992, took home the NL Wild Card. After wiping the Reds off their feet in that game, Pittbsurgh was almost not done there. They lost a 2-1 lead in the NLDS to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Los Angeles Dodgers -- This one is a little bit more of a stretch. But who thought that the Dodgers would still make the playoffs in May? They were 23-30, and were not in good position to make any runs deep into October. How about June? They then were 38-43, improving, but not much better. Who could've predicted their fantastic run?
3. Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis
These two hitters tore up the American League throughout the summer this season. In the first half, the two combined for 58 homers and 161 RBI. Cabrera finished with 44 HR, while Davis finished with 53 shots. Just before the all star break, they were trading homers like no tomorrow. Cabrera slowed down in the second half due to injury, but they definitely were something we should take away from this season.
Cabrera: .348/.442/.636, 44 HR, 137 RBI
Davis: .286/.370/.634, 53 HR, 138 RBI
2. Young Pitching (Specifically Michael Wacha and Jose Fernandez)
Young pitchers were unbelievable in 2013, but the two most outstanding were Jose Fernandez and Michael Wacha. Fernandez, only 20, never pitched above AA coming into this season. But appearing in the majors for the first time, Fernandez pitched great. Michael Wacha, the story of the playoffs, was an x-factor for the Cardinals, pitching gem after gem. It will be fun to see them improve as they get older.
Fernandez: 12-6, 2.19 ERA, 0.97 WHIP
Wacha: 4-1, 2.78 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
1. The Red Sox win the World Series
How could this not be number one? The Red Sox took a last place team, made some adjustments, and came out on top by winning the 2013 World Series. Amazing play around the team, their run was a spectacular one to say the least. Doing the little things proves to make a large difference, and the Red Sox definitely showed that. I enjoyed watching them play this season and I am looming forward to watching them play in 2014.
Yesterday, on Twitter, I said that I though Dioner Navarro would be the most underrated catcher on the 2013 Free Agent market. Today, I would like to strengthen my position on that, and explain why Navarro will be the best catcher for your buck this 2013 free agent market.
Navarro was signed as a free agent from Venezuela in 2000 at age 16 with the New York Yankees. Making the big leagues at age 20, Navarro (30 in 2014), already has been in the big leagues for 10 years, providing excellent defense at the catcher position. It took a while before the offense came, but in 2013, the Cubs catcher delivered a great year, hitting .300/.365/.492 with 13 home runs and 34 RBI in 89 games. Although Navarro was not the top catcher in the Cubs fold, he was definitely more productive. According to www.baseballplayersalaries.com, Navarro provided 8% of the Cubs on-field performance, and only was 1.99% of the teams payroll. His cost vs. performance score was a 3.9, and was more valuable to the Cubs than Jeff Samardzija.
I compared Dioner Navarro to Jarrod Saltalamacchia on www.baseballplayersalaries.com as well to try to see who was more valuable to their team based on their salary. Although the Cubs were not as good as the Red Sox, Navarro contributed to 8% of his teams performance, and was only 1.99% of the Cubs salary, and Saltalamacchia contributed to 5.27% of his team's performance and was 2.66% of the Red Sox salary. Navarro produced more than Saltalamacchia, and costed less. Navarro could be a real diamond in the rough. He plays well, but hasn't had much experience taking the bulk of the catching work. Navarro has only played in 100+ games three times in his career, hitting .249/.301/.364 in those seasons. It could be interesting to see him get the load of the job for any team. That could be his only concern for teams.
Defensively, Navarro is as good as anyone. He has never had below a .981 fielding percentage, made more than 14 errors, and only 71% of base runners have been able to steal on him. Navarro has zero issues defensively, and would be an upgrade for any team in need of a better defensive catcher.
Who could acquire Navarro? I think the Philadelphia Phillies are a good match for Navarro, because if he does not prove to be an every day catcher, he could platoon with Erik Kratz, a catcher with a lot of pop. He also bats switch-handed, and the Phillies need more right handed bats in their lineup versus left handed pitchers. Navarro has a career .275 BA against lefties, much better than his .242 mark against right handers. How much does he cost? The most Navarro ever made as a major-leaguer was $2.1 million, completely underpaid for how much of the team's performance he took apart in. Imagine this, if a team has a $100 million payroll, and Navarro is producing 8% of the team's performance, he should make $8 million. Is Navarro truly $6 million underpaid? Perhaps. That's why I think he could be a really nice option for whoever signs him this offseason.
The 2014 Free Agent market opens tomorrow! While we have one last chance to take a look at the market before teams can start negotiations, I will be ranking the top 15 free agents and giving them predictions for where they will go. This market is quite pitcher heavy, as teams looking for pitchers will have plenty of options to bolster their staffs.