Category Archives: MLB
Loyalty, Above All Else: Sean Rodriguez
I cannot tell you exactly why there are so many articles and mentions of Sean Rodriguez on this silly little site. I think some time after he broke into the league my buddy Dave and I decided he was primed to break out, given our expert opinions. He plays multiple positions, a favorite fantasy attribute of mine, and fit the ‘Swiss Army’ profile both Dave and I enjoy so thoroughly it inspired a series of posts. Rodriguez did not break out. What he did was become a useful glue player, playing solid defense at 2B, SS and 3B capable of hitting an occasional XBH and stealing a few bases. He does nothing. spectacular, despite the wishes of many here at DotP.
Bill James is so un-enthused with Rodriguez’s mediocrity that he has chopped the guy’s plate appearances to a mere 256 in 2013:
14 2B / 1 3B / 8 HR / 37 R / 32 RBI / 6 SB / .246 AVG / .328 OBP / .730 OPS
According to James, Sean Rodriguez is on a hill, and he will continue to tumble down. These projections are one big MEH-fest. I refuse to hear that. Not our guy. Not Sean Rodriguez. The Rays are a likable team and Rodriguez is a likable guy. And that’s the problem, clearly. Studies have shown that nice guys, in fact, finish last (Dr. B. Armstrong et al). Or at the very least don’t bring home that World Series Trophy. To save his career, Rodriguez must top being nice and start getting…. evil. Or real, I guess. Point being, the man’s getting a villain-esque makeover
Evil Sean Rodriguez: Part Terminator, part Captain Hook, ALL hitting machine. This is no mere mustache awakening, this is a hostile position takeover. Note the glare. The sinister eyebrows. The dastardly twirl of his facial hairs. This is a man fed up with being told by Bill James he will be below average. This is a man who is going to make sure Elliot Johnson doesn’t take another ground ball at SS. Evil Sean Rodriguez will seize the position. He will bat 568 times. He will prove his doubters wrong. Haters will perish under his lazereyed gaze. Observe the Mustache-bot 2000’s calculations:
37 2B / 9 3B / 19 HR / 73 R / 81 RBI / 33 SB / .301 AVG / .398 OBP / .963 OPS
We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to create a new Sean Rodriguez. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster. MANIACAL LAUGH…. MANIACAL LAUGH… MANIACAL LAUGH!
But seriously, Sean Rodriguez. Grow a mustache. Play better. Or I’m going to have to stop writing about you.
This time of year presents some of my favorite baseball writing. Beat writers struggling to make PFP drills and AAAA scrimmages as exciting as the real thing, often with weird and hilarious results. Authors rating the “best” offseason, analyzing rookies and naming sleepers. These are all fun, but one of my favorite types of articles is the “bounceback” story. Call me a sucker for redemption.
I read dozens of these every spring, yet it has only now occurred to me the amusing subtext in many of these pieces. Sugarcoat it all you want, throw in fancy words and compliments both back and front-handed, many baseball “bounceback” stories boil down to a most basic human sense of dread – it can’t get much worse.
So without dancing around the issue, here are the guys who can’t get much worse in 2013. Seriously. If they did it might break math or something:
Maybe Michael Young got old (let’s be clear: he’s 36, so in real-people years his life is just kicking into full-on grown up gear – but in baseball years…). I doubt that has to do with his crappy 2012. If indeed he did get old…. damn did it happen fast. Bizarrely so. No, I imagine such suckitude was an anomaly. Young has long been compared to Paul Molitor (or at least I always have), another guy who played wherever he was asked to, DH’ed a bit, and always went bout his business – the business of hitting. Young had 9 straight years of 170+ hits, and that is with a 2009 season cut short with a hammy injury. He had been a model of consistency. So just how bad was he? Let’s look at some numbers! Hooray numbers!
Young had a negative WAR, -1.4. You need to know very little about numbers and even less about WAR to know that a negative stat is probably bad. In this case, that number signifies that a replacement player would have been a BETTER OPTION THAN MIKE YOUNG. Yikes (For those of you unfamiliar with this and any following statistics, I refer you here, to Fangraphs’ Glossary, where much smarter people have explained them in much more intelligent ways).
Wanna know who had a better WAR than Young, just for kicks? Carlos Pena did, and he hit below .200. Jemile Weeks did, and his WAR was zero – they could’ve put any schmo in the minors in his spot, right statistics? Both Juan Uribe AND Juan Pierre had a better WAR’s and they’re, well, Juan Pierre and Juan Uribe.
WAR is not the be all, end all – just ask Mike Trout – but it is a useful measure in comparing players against the league norms. Maybe you don’t like WAR. Maybe you like ‘old school’ ideas and stats. Sabermetricians and old fogie scouts can all agree that a great measure of a player (given enough At Bats or sample size, depending on your era) is OBP. If a guy gets on base, whether you see it in numbers on paper or with yuor own fading eyesight, he’s generally a useful player, as Mike Young had once been. In 2012, Young had an OBP of .312. Which is gross. Howie Kendrick was 20 points better, and he swings at everything (154 BB career). Hunter Pence’s OBP was higher and if he doesn’t swing 48% of the time the bomb in his bat detonates (Hunter Pence is a big, big Keanu Reeves fan).
Toss aside numbers for a moment, though. If you had the misfortune of rooting for Mr. Young last year, whether it be for your fantasy team (me) or your real team (Rangers) or both (sorry, friends), you could see he looked plain bad. Some skills fade with age, sure. Young won’t be stealing double digit bases again. But his hand eye and batting eye have simply not fallen off the map. With an ADP well over 200 (230 at the time of this article), I assure you Young is worth taking a flyer on in Fantasy Baseball. As for the real thing? The Phillies also took a flyer, betting that Young will hit until he quits ( Molitor had 225 hits when he was 39 years old). After all, it can’t get much worse.
Pairing Hosmer and Young together in this list seemed… poetic. Young is riding out his last few years in the league, striving to be productive. Hosmer is the cornerstone of what is a recurrently ‘up-and-coming’ franchise. We all assume he is really, really good. He demolished each minor league level, then stepped up into the bigs and had a damn fine rookie year. Dare I say sophomore slump? Sophomore slump. Yes, I dared, it’s right there in the previous sentence. I even remembered that stupid ‘O’ in ‘sophomore.’ Pay attention.
As good as Hosmer’s 2011 was, so too was his 2012 not (good, that is). Sentence structure aside, many were left disappointed by the young slugger’s campaign. He declined in every important offensive category, save for steals. So at least he was trying. When you dive into the numbers, his season is just plain yucky.
Here’s another fun statistical measure: wRC+ (ahem, Fangraphs). Here’s what you need to know about Weighted Runs Created (wRC): it’s an improved version of Bill James’ Runs Created (RC) statistic, which attempted to quantify a player’s total offensive value and measure it by runs. Cool right? That James guy is a superweirdo, but he’s wicked smaht. The stat itself makes sense in a very basic way, right? Well Hosmer sucked at it. Technically, he was ‘above average’ with his wRC+ of 81 (80 is above average, in general), but when looked at a comparative, larger context, we see the idea of ‘above average,’ measured statistically or not, is subjective. Here are four players (minimum 400 PA, which Hosmer had easily) with better wRC+ than Hosmer. Tell me if any of them are guys you MUST have on a team in a non-ironic way:
None of these guys are genuinely BAD players, but Hosmer is a Franchise player and once played like one.
Skate Play better, man. Not to pick on Carlos Pena, but damn, Hosmer, even HE had better value metrics. Speaking of sexy new player-value statistics, Hosmer also clocked in under zero at a robust -1.1 WAR (RAR, Runs Above Replacement, is not only hilarious thing cats say, but also a negative measure of Hosmer badness (-10.4)).
Tired of these WAR’s and LOL-ing and RAWR’s and tweetsnapping? Forget the new statistical measures, his basic numbers stunk too, from BA to RBI. Check his splits. He stunk prior to the AS break. He stunk after. He had a decent month of August… and that’s about it. LHP/RHP splits – both bad. I could go on. He stunk. On top of all that, anecdotally, you will not find a person who said he looked good last year not named Hosmer (and his Mom even admitted he ‘probably could have been better against off speed pitches’). The best news? You can draft him in fantasy at a bargain price. The further good news? Sophomore slumps only apply to Sophomores and Freshmen who decide to go to private school and get held back a year so they can still somehow be ‘Freshmen.’ Also? He can’t get much worse.
Honorable Mention: Carlos Pena, who might actually get worse than his sub-.200 batting average. Sorry Carlos.
Where to start with Ricky? As someone who is unfortunately a Red Sox fan, I witnessed the abomination that was 2012 Ricky Romero several times closely. As someone who drafted him in fantasy baseball 2012, I said horrible, horrible things about Romero regularly. He made the 2012 Valensox look like sluggers and in several games I streamed on MLB.tv looked like he was throwing a damaged wiffle ball, having no idea where his (hopefully) better thought out pitches were going to end up. I know, I know – cool story, bro.
More numbers? More numbers.
FIP/xFIP or (Expected) Fielding Independent Pitching are really cool measures, far more relevant as they attempt to look deeper and normalize (in statistical, not Stepford, terminology) the crude measure of ERA and how good/bad a pitcher was. As a general (ahem, Fangraphs) rule, an FIP/xFIP of 4 is average and an FIP/xFIP of 5 is AWFUL (Their word). Romero’s line? FIP: 5.14 xFIP: 4.86
Whether you want an expected or calculated measure (a difference of how HR rates are calculated), Romero was about as bad as it gets. To pile on the crappy numbers, his K rate, usually a high point, fell to just over 6 (mediocre). His BB/9 inning rate was an absurd 5.22. His swinging strike rate dropped a full percentage point – it’s easy not to swing and miss when the guy has to groove it over the plate in desperate need of a pitch in the strike zone. The best thing you can say about his 0.5 WAR season? He pitched. In an injury plagued year for Toronto pitchers, Romero started 32 games. So… good job, good effort. He didn’t even have a better year than the internet’s favorite SP (starting punching-bag), Bruce Chen (more wins, higher K/9, 1.4 WAR on and on…). The good news for Toronto? They made a few move this offseason, I think. As for Romero? It cannot get much worse.
You may be saying, “gosh, Romero was bad, but is there a guy who threw a random 1-hitter in June yet somehow managed even worse numbers?” IF you are saying that, I’m guessing you were an Ervin Santana owner in 2012. He gave up 39 homers. Honestly, I thought about ending the paragraph right there. That’s really bad. I’ll add a few more. He had a -0.9 WAR, a 5.63 FIP (jeebus christ!), and had a HR/Fly Ball rate of 18.9%, which is simply bananas. I will not pile on Santana, as his issue was more inconsistency (numbers were FAR better second half of the year). However, his numbers were not good, and given his up and down nature,
I assure you – it can’t get much worse actually, he might get worse. Heads up.
Aceves blew at least 8 games in spectacular fashion for a 2012 team that captured awfulness in spectacular fashion. He was inconsistent on the field, unhappy off the field and was (well, is, I guess) a weirdo overall. Just when you though it was safe to own him in fantasy baseball or root for him in real baseball, he would walk 4 guys in an inning and look wholly uninterested. He had an unseemly 5.36 ERA but that was helped by a few decent spurts. Even when he was pitching “well,” he would walk a batter for every strikeout. The numbers fib, in this case. As someone who watched more of the turd stain that was the Boston Red Sox 2012 season, I can attest to the fact that Aceves, save for perhaps one 15 day stretch in the spring, was a bad guy to have on any team, in any sense. Plus, his disgusting sweatiness made me uncomfortable watching games and must be very difficult on the hardworking laundry staff at Yawkey Way.
His FIP was a poor 4.33. He pitched worse as the god-awful season went on. He blew saves and holds. He had a BB/9 inning of 3.33. But most important of all, when he came into a game, there was an audible groan in the Northeast. This guy made an awful season worse.
Axford blew 9 saves and forced the Brew Crew to realign their bullpen. Bell blew 8 saves and was the first domino to fall (2nd game of the year) in a disastrous Marlins season. Bell looked old and lost, regaining and losing his job and looking like a man who lost his mojo. Axford, on the other hand had enough sense to regain his gnarly facial construction when chopping it off caused catastrophe. I include Axford because he led the league in blown saves and did so in a short period of time in mesmerizing fashion (his June-beginning of August was BRUTAL). For Axford, it can’t get much worse. As for Bell and Aceves… Relievers are notoriously up-and-down, so one would assume they’ve already bottomed out. I’ll say it – they can’t get much worse, either.
There you have it, the players who scraped the bottom of the barrel in 2012. Here’s to new beginnings and sneaky ADP’s going forward.
Spring Training is upon us, thank goodness, and there is baseball to be seen. MLB.tv is in full swing and might be the greatest technological advancement of all time until Google starts augmenting reality and we begin living in a real-life science fiction movie (happening). Anyone can see any team from anywhere. It’s wonderful to see live baseball, poorly timed swings, and poorly chosen facial hair (here, for example). The real fun comes in the sheer NUMBER of players involved in this magical time of year. Sure, the games are therefore often mismatched in terms of competition and sure, some games end in ties (which is gross, but understandable). But as someone who prides myself on having a widespread knowledge of the most intimately useless knowledge of baseball, Spring Training always serves as a magical time to discover some truly obscure players and some stupendous names. You might not have had the time to look over the spring training rosters, so I did (thanks, wikipedia!) and culled the best and oddest names I came across, limiting the search for Non-Roster invitees only for the sake of rarity. Sorry L.J. Hoes – you have my favorite name of the spring, but you’re a 40-man roster man. Without further ado, some of the most interesting non-roster invitees of the spring:
Though NOT affiliated with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay in ANY way, the name warranted inclusion. He’s actually a solid prospect.
Do you know any non-fictional person named Slade? Exactly.
I’m more of a Coors man, myself.
Simply an awesome baseball name. Sounds like one a video game would generate.
You are welcome.
Oddly, speaks fluent jive…
Great names. More to the point, great MLB catcher names.
I await the day where we can see N. Struck and J. Outman in a boxscore.
Considering naming my first-born Wirfin.
From the club that gives you Elvis…
Can’t decide between jokes here. I just wanna fly? Something about frosted tips?
BAKER’S DOZEN DOUBLE BONUS!!!
Heh, booty. Booty-Booty-Booty-Booty Kunckin’ everywhere? Anyone?
With Oscar Day nearing, here are the rest of our inane, wildly important comparisons between Oscar nominees and their MLB counterparts. As Stanley Kubrick once said, “The Oscars and MLB go together like…” Who knows what he said, but the connection was there!
The Supporting Actors
Arkin won his first Oscar in 2006 for Little Miss Sunshine, but he also received two nominations in the ‘60s. He’s never been the It Guy at any given time, but Arkin has been giving memorable performances like this one in Argo since the Millard Fillmore administration, give or take. A Hollywood kid from a Hollywood family, Arkin’s been one of the good guys in the business for half a century. Can’t imagine he has an enemy anywhere. Alan Arkin is…Kevin Millwood. Looks like a really nice guy, and there’s no evidence to suggest he’s otherwise. A long career of solid, and at times All-Star, performances. He even deserves more than what I’ve just written. Oh well, for another time.
Robert De Niro
With a legitimate chance at winning on Sunday, De Niro will be seeking his 3rd win. This marks his 7th nomination (7th!). As usual, De Niro seems to be right in the midst of the big race as well, as Silver Linings Playbook is a favorite to snag Best Picture. He’s been turning in iconic performances since he was Vito Corleone and even before, but his role in Playbook was filled with real, pure emotion, perhaps marking a difference from many of his bigger, louder roles. A man who would have been a HOF lock two decades ago, De Niro has not shied away from expanding his repertoire at any point, even allowing his role to become a supporting one so as to allow young stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper to shine. De Niro is…Todd Helton. He still delivers remarkable performances, but still he allows for younger stars to shine as the franchise/films shift towards the next generation of talent.
Philip Seymour Hoffman
With his nomination for his work in The Master, PSH has now received nominations in four of the past eight Oscar races, with a win in 2006 for Capote. He’s a quirky man, to say the least, but Hoffman has been doing it right for a long time, including 2008, when he received two Golden Globe nominations. A true student of the craft, Hoffman has shown in recent years the ability to jump from biography to political drama to romantic comedy (HOW DID HE NOT GET AN OSCAR FOR ALONG CAME POLLY?!?!) without sacrificing his effectiveness. He does have a baseball connection, having portrayed Art Howe in Moneyball despite looking NOTHING like Art Howe! Not necessarily a late bloomer, but he has received well-deserved praise—at least from the Academy—only in recent years, as his prime seems to be dwindling. PSH is…Roy Halladay. Somewhat of a late bloomer, at least late to become a certified star. Also, both men are certainly quirky fellows trending towards crazy, “method actors” in their respective fields.
Tommy Lee Jones
Jones won an Oscar for The Fugitive in 1994, and this year marks his fourth nomination. He has a good chance this time around (in case you haven’t noticed, this category is WIDE OPEN, with 5 worthy nominees), and maybe a win would even get a smile out of Agent Kay. A wily, stoic veteran of the trade, Jones has been frowning his way through hits since Fugitive and then some. Lincoln was fantastic, and in this “credible” critic’s mind, the Picture race should come down to it and Playbook. That being said, I don’t think Jones should be bringing home a trophy of his own. Nevertheless, he has cemented himself as a staple of the industry and a stabilizing force amidst the chaos that is Hollywood fame. Tommy Lee Jones is…Michael Young. The workman of baseball, pure consistency over the course of a career, all accomplished without controversy or smiles. Epitome of professionalism as well as stoicism.
Having won a fully deserved BSA Oscar for Inglorious Basterds, Waltz has a good chance at making it two wins in two tries, thanks to his unique work as Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained. We naïve Americans unfortunately did not know of this Austrian treasure—the anti-Schwarzenegger—until recent years, but I for one am glad we have the chance to see what we can. A delightful presence onscreen and off, and a solid SNL host if you didn’t see, Waltz is a late bloomer to our country but is making the most of his time. Tarantino knows he has a keeper, and don’t be surprised to see Waltz lurking in this category a couple more times before he’s done. Christoph Waltz is… Ichiro. As soon as he got here, his presence was felt with MVP caliber performance and sustained excellence. We wish he had been here longer, but we should enjoy the time we have to admire his unique brand of individual brilliance.
The Supporting Actresses
Only 38 and now four Oscar nominations with her work in The Master? Damn, girl. Four nominations in eight years is quite the run. Adams also has a baseball tie, but we as a site have decided to deny the existence of Trouble With the Curve, shockingly not nominated for any Oscars. She’s been always entertaining for about a decade now, whether as a nun, Chahhhhhhlene, or Princess Giselle. Side note: I am not ashamed to admit that Enchanted is and always will be wildly entertaining, and I can only hope the rumored sequel will soon become reality. A talented and adaptable performer with plenty of time left to fill up her trophy case, Amy Adams is…Prince Fielder. The fact that they look like siblings aside, both are winners who we often neglect when considering the finest in their generation. Overshadowed by other talented people at times, both continue to deliver impressive work. Princess Giselle and Prince Fielder? You’re welcome, future lovers.
Can’t say I’m a huge fan in general or of her performance in Lincoln itself, but I cannot deny that this is her third nomination, with two wins in her first two tries. Still find her a little annoying, and her barely bearable Oscar victory speech (NO, I will not provide a link. I’m not an enabler.) is, well, barely bearable. She’ll be remembered as a talented, successful actress who was recognized for her notable performances. Still, Sally Field, I really don’t like you. I really, really don’t. Sally Field is…Alex Rodriguez. He was great then he bottomed out, was sort of great, then plummeted again. He is a member of the I Could Have Been One of the Best Ever Without PEDs But Now My Career is Forever Tarnished group. Field has no known link to PEDs, but for me her career was tarnished when she seduced her way to earning Forrest Gump a football scholarship.
The probable winner in this category, Hathaway now has two nominations for uber-depressing performances, for Les Miserables this year and Rachel Getting Married in 2009. A somewhat polarizing actress since her breakthrough in 2001’s The Princess Diaries (everyone loves it, so don’t be ashamed), Hathaway has confirmed her place among the elite performers of her generation, and she will undoubtedly be found on A-lists and Oscar lists for years to come. Forgetting Bride Wars, as I’m sure she has, Hathaway has built up an impressive body of work, including her great performance in last summer’s blockbuster Catwoman Rides the Batpod. She has her prime before her at only 31, and her talent is apparent. Anne Hathaway is…Ryan Braun. An electric young talent with nearly limitless potential, generally admired but with some polarizing feature. Hathaway perhaps acted with a chip on her shoulder following personal troubles. Braun’s middle finger to the world of a 2012 season was fun to watch and underappreciated.
Real talk: no one saw The Sessions. No disrespect, and it’s nice for Hunt to receive a second nomination (she won for As Good as It Gets), but she will not be taking home the statue this year. She was in Twister, so there’s that. Certainly talented and respected by most everyone (me included, despite this mean take), Hunt is enjoying the ride as she nears 50. She had a solid ‘90s run as a go-to big name, but now Hunt is a solid performer winding down an All-Star, but probably not Hall of Fame career. She is… Edgar Renteria. He had some memorable moments around the same time of Hunt’s peak (see his 1997 World Series heroics), and he got a win as his career dwindled (2010 with the Giants), but in all truly a somewhat typical career. Sorry, you two.
Two nominations in three years ain’t so bad, and as you may have noticed, I unabashedly loved Silver Linings Playbook. She probably won’t win, but Weaver helped make a film that should not only be recognized as this year’s best, but as one of the best works in recent years. I’m not being mean about this one; Weaver actually hasn’t done that much work that anyone will remember. At 75, she seems content with the excellent performances she’s turned in the past few years. With great talent that most of us have only seen for a brief time period, Jacki Weaver is…the inverse of Rocco Baldelli. He came up as the prospect to watch and then burned out for reasons out of his control. She came to the forefront late but made an impact. She’s a little old for Rocco, but their careers kind of complete each other. Sounds like a movie waiting to be made…
Well, that concludes our biting Oscar commentary. Enjoy Sunday night and what is sure to be a memorable performance by Seth MacFarlane. Some have been alluded to, but here are our final predictions for the big ones:
Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis
Actress: Jennifer Lawrence
Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz
Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway
Director: Steven Spielberg (although David O. Russell would be a worthy victor)
Picture: Silver Linings Playbook
With the Oscars taking place in just a few short days, we do what comes naturally: make comparisons between nominees and MLB players that may or may not make sense. Everyone does it. If not, everyone will do it. They put the start of spring training and the Oscars in the same week for a reason…Right? You’re welcome, internet.
Oh, Hugh again. Jackman’s Jean Valjean searches for security, for liberation from Javert’s merciless pursuit in Les Miserables (the second word is silent, or at least the pronunciations are trending that way). Jackman has cemented himself as a bankable action entertainer and awards show host, but he is still seeking to earn his place among the finest actors (see the elder three in this category). Perhaps this performance has pushed Jackman from action star to layered big screen performer, but for now he is…Mike Piazza. The ladies love him. Everyone knows who he is. He performs at the highest level of anyone in his position (catcher for Piazza, film actor/host/stage actor for Jackman) and does so with a prominent geniality.
I cannot argue with Daniel Day-Lewis taking home the award on Sunday night (the essentially unanimous prediction), but Cooper’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook is one worthy of the award in most years and worthy of our praise right now. His real, raw, riveting portrayal of a man struggling to find himself amidst psychological chaos has, for this viewer at least, pushed Cooper into that same group that Jackman hovers around the edges of. Having made his mark in comedies like The Hangover, look for Cooper to reach superstar status as an Oscar-level performer in the next few years, perhaps beginning with the promising work The Place Beyond the Pines, coming this year starring Cooper and Ryan Gosling. Having showed off his versatility and ready to establish himself as a consistent, superstar performer, Bradley Cooper is…Andrew McCutchen, the standout who is primed for another elite season.
This is Washington’s 6th Oscar nomination. Wow. One of the most likable and consistent actors in the world for the past two-plus decades, Washington probably won’t take home the trophy this year, but he has long since established himself as more than just a pioneer for minority actors. Washington will go down in history as one of the greatest actors of this or any generation. With 2 Oscars, 2 Golden Globes, and numerous other memorable performances, Coach Boone/Frank Lucas/Det. Alonzo Harris/Mr. Shuttleworth is a surefire “Hall of Famer” for our purposes. He is… Derek Jeter. Sometimes you want to hate him (or his characters), but you just can’t because he is so doggone consistent and effective. Knows how to win on the big stage and constantly delivers, even as he gets older and older and should be breaking down.
This is Day-Lewis’ fifth Oscar nomination, and he will likely be taking home his third trophy. Having won for his stimulating performance in There Will Be Blood in 2008, a victory this weekend would give Day-Lewis two wins in six years, a remarkable stretch in this field. He will never be the most bankable star in Hollywood, but Day-Lewis has proven over the past two decades that his ability to disappear wholly and beautifully into a character is second to none. He brought Lincoln to life just as he did for Daniel Plainview, Bill “The Butcher,” and many other figures over the course of his career. He’s got a little to a lot of craziness in him, and we can’t always understand him, but his overwhelming talent cannot be denied. Daniel Day-Lewis is… Albert Pujols – the machine pumping out award-winning roles, homers, what have you. We can’t always understand what he’s saying, but he quietly goes about his business and constantly exceeds high expectations.
With his role in The Master, Phoenix reminded moviegoers that he is more than a certifiably crazy person. Don’t get me wrong; he is still seemingly absolutely loony. That being said, this role was perfect for him: An unstable man in an unstable world trying to find meaning. This is Phoenix’s third nomination. His performances in Gladiator and as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line were worthy performances but could not overcome more worthy nominees in Benicio Del Toro and Philip Seymour Hoffman doing an uncanny Capote, respectively. A man with a wealth of talent and a impressive body of work, Phoenix’s actual identity has often taken the forefront over his incredible performances. He is…Manny Ramirez. Heck, he’s probably peed in weirder places than the Green Monster. Their offstage, off-field actions often overshadow their Oscar, HOF-worthy work on the screen or field. Eccentric and inane without question, and always entertaining.
Oscar nominations back to back years? She aight. Zero Dark Thirty is a relevant and well-timed work, and the same can be said for its budding star. Seemingly in every movie out there since The Help, Chastain, like Mr. Cooper above, is on her way to reaching superstar status. She’s already taken home a Golden Globe for her role, and she and Lawrence seem to be the frontrunners in this category. A late bloomer who has loudly announced their sticking around, Jessica Chastain is…R.A. Dickey, another performer whose story and work could not have come at a better time. Chastain’s work comes in a film as relevant to American livelihood as any out there. Dickey’s work was a wonderful respite from the talk of steroids and suspensions.
Confession: I may be a bit biased here, as I would like to maybe marry Jennifer Lawrence. Moving on. She won’t be going away for some time with The Hunger Games continuing as well as what is sure to be a full offer sheet for at least a decade. Jennifer Lawrence is only 22 (within range for me!). Already a nominee in 2011 for the delightfully titled Winter’s Bone, Lawrence absolutely came alive as Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook. She and Cooper lit up the screen, and without Day-Lewis, a sweep for Playbook would seem likely. Nevertheless, I am excited for Lawrence not just because she is my future wife, but also because she has decades before her filled with stunning performances like the ones she has turned in for the past few years. With undeniable talent, youth, and a wonderful passion, Jennifer Lawrence is…BRYCE HARPER. Is she a great interview? That’s a clown question, bro. Would I marry him? See last answer.
Nominated in 2004 for 21 Grams, this is Watts’ second Oscar nomination. In all likelihood, she won’t win this year, and she shouldn’t, but her performance as a desperate survivor in The Impossible is worth the OnDemand fee. A solid Hollywood star who isn’t quite among the elite performers of her time, Watts is still a respected veteran. She is… Aramis Ramirez. Yes, the resemblance is uncanny. And yes, they are both boringly effective, producing solid work that may not be remembered years from now without some prompting.
Wallis is electrifying in Beasts of the Southern Wild, as you have probably heard. You probably also know that she was only 6 during filming…I was starring in critically panned home movies at that age…I haven’t made much progress since. Still only 9, who knows what’s in store for Wallis, and who cares to be honest. For her sake, I hope she lives a normal childhood and goes about life as she pleases…naaaahhhhhht gunna happen. I’m not too worried about her though. With an infectious spirit on and off the screen, I think Wallis will be a Hollywood force somewhere along the road. Given her age, innocence, and unknown future, Quvenzhane Wallis is… Aroldis Chapman, still blissfully immature but brimming with talent and energy. We don’t know what the future holds for them, but we know their work will be done with a room-filling smile.
Riva is really old. Sorry, but it is the truth. Having the oldest nominee ever and the youngest in Wallis in the same group is something special that will surely produce laughs or even tears on Sunday night. Riva has been in about a million French films, most of which I haven’t heard of, but her performance in Amour is heartfelt and beautiful, and I’m glad to see her recognized in this talented group. She’s old as balls but dammit she’s got talent. Emmanuelle Riva is…Torii Hunter. She’s done a lot of work we may not remember, but it’s all been pretty good. Little known fact, she also robbed Barry Bonds of a homer in 2002. She loved playing Triple Play, the greatest video game of all time. Also, maybe Torii is a French name or something. Thankfully, she’s far less active on Twitter.