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October 21, 2003

Prospectus Today

Randomosity

by Joe Sheehan

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Just some random notes as we endure the first intermission and wait for Act 2, Scene 1 to begin...

  • Eons ago, I promised results for the DiSar Awards. The DiSars, in their fourth season, go to the player in each league who picks up the most at-bats without drawing a walk. They're named in honor of Angels shortstop Gary DiSarcina who once famously answered a question about his plate discipline by claiming that his goal was to go an entire season without drawing a walk.

    Gary would be proud, for one of his Angelic descendants buried the field this year to win the American League DiSar Award. Jose Molina, in fact, nearly reached the pinnacle, drawing his first walk on Sept. 12, just two weeks shy of a walkless season. Molina's 104 at-bats before his first walk were 29 more than runner-up Matt Walbeck. Deivi Cruz finished third with 70 at-bats.

    The National League winner was Rainer Olmedo, who didn't make his major-league debut until the end of May but quickly ran up 70 walkless at-bats. Precedent dictates that pitchers are ineligible for DiSars, so Olmedo's edge over his nearest challenger, Robby Hammock, was a comfortable 11 at-bats. (seven pitchers were closer to Olmedo, including Brad Penny, who finished 2003 with no walks in 68 at-bats, the highest figure in either league.

    The Astros' Eric Bruntlett, with 54, and the Orioles' Carlos Mendez, with 45, led their respective leagues in most at-bats without a walk, once you exclude pitchers.

    There were no winners in the DiSars contest this year, which is understandable. A number of people had the wrong Molina, with Jose's brother Bengie Molina getting a lot of support. No one, of course, had Olmedo, who fell into his playing time when the rest of the Reds infielders were kidnapped by aliens.

  • I neglected to get into this the other day, but it's worth mentioning that Joe Torre made a roster move before the World Series, adding Chris Hammond back and removing Erick Almonte.

    I understand the desire to have 11 pitchers, but the roster move makes little sense outside of that. The Marlins have three left-handed hitters on the entire roster, none of whom are enough of a threat to warrant using a specialist. They also have a whole bunch of guys who crush lefties, meaning that no left-handed pitcher is going to be able to stay in long in any kind of non-blowout situation.

    Having three left-handers against the Marlins is a waste, while the lack of an additional pinch-runner already put Torre in an awkward situation. In Game One, Torre had to use David Dellucci to run for Jason Giambi in the ninth inning. Had the Yankees tied the game, Torre would have had Ruben Sierra in right field in the 10th inning. That's not helpful, and it's directly attributable to the lack of Almonte.

    It's a small thing, but given the uselessness of even a second left-hander against the Marlins, making a move to add a third is inexplicable. If you absolutely had to have another pitcher, Antonio Osuna would have been a better choice.

  • With no baseball games last night, I watched, or tried to watch, Monday Night Football. I cannot for the life of me fathom how people can directly compare baseball and football and conclude that baseball is boring. The pace of a pro football game is completely unbelievable, with television timeouts after nearly every possession in some stretches, regardless of length. Play, play, play, punt, break. Play, play, turnover, break. Or my favorite: towards the end of a drive, one team calls a timeout. Commercials. On the next play they score, kick the extra point, commercials. Kickoff, touchback, more commercials. You end up with one actual play run in a 12-minute stretch.

    If it's interminable watching at home, what's it like at the game? I haven't been to a pro football game in nearly a decade, and the idea of sitting through that kind of stretch--10 minutes without any actual football in some spots--isn't likely to push me into breaking that streak anytime soon.

    I don't have anything against football. I enjoy the game, more so at the college level (where the NCAA hasn't tweaked its rules to provide less football in the same timeframe the way the NFL has). I have some fantasy teams, participate in some pools, and can get excited about a good matchup like Sunday's Vikings/Broncos tilt even without any personal interest. I just think that watching a single NFL game is virtually impossible.

    The idea that baseball gets skewered for its pace--throws to first base, pitching changes, various hitters and their routines--and pro football doesn't is just mind-boggling. A league full of Nomar Garciaparras managed by 30 Tony La Russas wouldn't be more annoying than a typical NFL broadcast.

  • Tonight's game is the best pitching matchup of the World Series, with the underrated Mike Mussina going up against NLCS hero Josh Beckett. Both teams will be at an offensive disadvantage, the Yankees without Nick Johnson, who sits in favor of Jason Giambi, and the Marlins facing a right-handed pitcher.

    While we can expect Mussina to be effective, it's hard to know what Beckett will do. He's coming off a four-inning relief appearance on two days' rest, and while the Marlins rightly gave him five days' rest following that, it's an open question what he'll have tonight.

    Less speculatively, the Yankees aren't the Cubs. They're more likely to wait on Beckett, make him throw more pitches, give him the opportunity to fall behind in the count. He is prone to wildness, and I can see the Yankees drawing five or six walks off of him in six innings.

    It's a good matchup for the Yankees, who should take advantage. Mussina throws a gem and the Yankees win, 4-0.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

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