Grantland’s “The 30” Debuts



Your favorite Canadian, Jonah Keri, made his first list of “The 30” for the 2015 season yesterday and here’s where you find your NL Central teams.

#25 Milwaukee Brewers

I saw a report on MLB Network this weekend where the Brew Crew still plans on using Adam Lind at first base against lefties.  Really?

Career slash line for Lind:

vs RHP: 293/349/510
vs LHP: 212/257/331

And I know as a good Sabermetrician I shouldn’t consider striking out to be quite the bogey man it used to be, but against righties he is striking out in 17% of all plate appearances, but 26% versus lefties.

Last season he went 2-for-33 (you read that right) against lefties.  But this reporter was talking about how Lind hit .275 against southpaws in 2009.  Ya, as recently as six seasons ago.  Since then you’ll find a lot of seasons where he was .240, .210, and worse.  It’s a bad idea, guys.

Keri’s interested in seeing how Mike Fiers does in the rotation for Milwaukee, but it could be a long season for Brewers’ fans.

Couple this with a farm system that most have ranked among the five worst in baseball, being in the same division with those that rank either best (Cubs) or in the top 10 (Pirates) and you have the makings of a rough back half to this decade.

#21 Cincinnati Reds

Keri is all about the comeback candidates – Tony Cingrani and Joey Votto.

I admit I’m finding it hard to get too amped up about watching games involving either the Brewers or Reds.

These next three teams, however…

#11 Pittsburgh Pirates

What?! Jonah, seriously? I’m hearing lots of folks who have pegged the Bucs to win the Central, but Keri has them third in the division. What gives?

Keri praises them in some regards, noting how far ahead of the curve they are in using analytics and routinely out-performing expectations as a result, but ultimately points to the Rise of the Cubs as something they will be unable to keep up with.

Me? I’m not so sure.  Not in 2015 anyhow.

#9 Chicago Cubs

Hard not to be excited about Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler this season.  The rotation is as solid as they come, 1 through 5.

But Lester’s putting miles on that arm, and it’s hard not to be at least somewhat concerned that something will befall him.

Keri is impressed with the Cubs’ overall depth.  There’s not necessarily an MVP candidate on the team, but there’s enough here where the whole could be greater than the sum of the parts.

Or something…

#6 St. Louis Cardinals

This is how I feel about the Cards as well: “they always seem to find a way”.

I used to look at the Cards every season and just think “No”.

Either they weren’t talented on paper or they were injured or they lacked depth or Tony LaRussa had problems with alcohol.

Yet every year you find them in the race come September.  So I finally gave up and decided that, every year, I will expect them to win the division.

Sure – there are questions.  Wainwright’s elbow and Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina’s birth certificates (they’re really old…), but it just seems like something always comes together for St. Louis in the end.

If you’d like to read Keri’s full list, it’s right over here.


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