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Ken Funck
315 comments | 74 total rating | 0.23 average rating
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Ken Funck
(10141)
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I agree with you that the Cardinals should win more than 90. One of the things we know that PECOTA doesn't take into account is that the Cardinals have so much depth and positional flexibility, they're in a great position to call up Taveras (who doesn't have a job yet), or trade second-tier prospects, to fill any holes that develop due to injury or ineffectiveness.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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I seriously hope when the NL West writeup comes out later thsi week, it will now include a link to an Isaac Hayes Spotify playlist. That's awesome. The primary difference PECOTA seems to see between the Dodgers and Cardinals is proven veteran pitching vs. unproven young pitching. PECOTA buys into Wacha (projected 3.2 WARP), but not so much with Lynn (1.3), Miller (0.4) and Kelly (-0.3); compare this to Ryu (2.4), Haren (1.8) and Beckett (1.1). I personally think that undersells the young Cards and oversells the veteran Dodgers, but I can see where PECOTA gets that from. A lot of my enthusiasm for the Cards (if that's a sentence a Cubs fan is allowed to type) isn't so much that they're better than the Dodgers, it's that they've built this team with a payroll half that of the Dodgers, and are so well-positioned for the long-term with young, cheap starting pitching and yet more high-end prospects on the way.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Having a one-third chance sounds solid to me, since the other contenders would probably be the AL East and AL West. As you say, the Cardinals, Cubs and Pirates all have tremendous young talent, and the Reds aren't pikers. Milwaukee may have the least impressive long-term outlook, but they still have great young-ish talent up the middle, plus Ryan Braun.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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A great time was had by all, and I can't say enough about the wonderful folks at Monti's. I don't want to get caught in a "Pat's or Geno's" debate, since I'm not from there and thus unqualified, but the cheesesteaks were great. Thanks to everyone for coming out!

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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And now I'm picturing Epstein and Hoyer taking DiPoto out of Montrose Harbor in a charter boat, fishing for Lake/Trout.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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The easy power was great to see, but most impressive for me (and Jason touched on this in his writeup) was the approach. This guy has a chance to be special.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Well, "Ricketts family" casts a pretty wide net ...

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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You may well be right about 2019 being the crescendo. But I think the front office (not to mention fans and ownership) expect contention quite a bit sooner than that. If they're not in a pennant race by 2017, it will be a disappointment.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Fair point, and I'm sure there will be people who will find the experience degraded after the "renovations" go through. It won't be the same experience--of course, for me, having the rooftops populated weith bleachers full of paying patrons rather than a bunch of shirtless neighborhood guys throwing a ball around has already changed that experience from my childhood. My personal opinion: if a Jumbotron and increased signage and an attached museum changes the other main aspect of my Cubs fan experience (i.e., never, ever winning a championship), I don't have a problem with them. Others can, and certainly will, disagree.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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"Go Cubs Go" Dirge: Best. Open. Ever.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Ken Funck
(10141)
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Some people say it's "never" a good idea to steal when there's a guy on first and your best slugger is at the plate, because the opposing manager will then walk him and take the bat out of his hands. If that's always true, then that means if your slugger walks it reduces your Run Expectancy. However, if that's always true, you would think the opposing manager would know that, and would always choose to intentionally walk your slugger, since that would reduce your Run Expectancy. But (except for late-peak Barry Bonds) that almost never happens, so walking the slugger doesn't generally reduce run expectancy; so, stealing the base should increase run expectancy. Not sure if that helps.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Thanks, man. Hoping to drop in more frequently this year.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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This will be addressed in Part 2 ...

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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This is a holdover from our vote two years ago, and will definitely be on the ballot.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Wow. I'm embarrassed to admit that I never really thought about it that way, but I think you're probably right. Unless you yourself are convinced that the RE of man on first with Casey at the bat is higher than (n*(RE of men on first and second with Sub-Casey at the bat) + (1-n)*(RE of bases empty with another out recorded)), where n is the perceived percentage chance of a successful steal. It's amazing how good managers are at math.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Does it differ to you if "treating the same" is inclusive/positive instead of exclusive/negative? My take on the PED thing has generally been that I can never know who did/didn't use and when they did/didn't use, so I treat them all the same--it becomes irrelevant to me when deciding value/greatness/Hall-worthiness. My guess is that you're chafing against treating everyone like a cheater and thus excluding them (e.g., the Gurnick ballot), but is it just as wrong to assume they all might be cheaters and thus not disqualify anyone (e.g., the mythical Funck ballot)?

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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This is similar to the cherry-picked "the only player to reach this arbitrary list of statistical plateaus", but perhaps it's distinct enough to merit its own entry.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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To make sure I understand, the bad argument you're describing is that you have to vote for Sammy Sosa if you vote for Barry Bonds, despite the fact that Bonds clearly put up HOF numbers, while Sosa ... not quite so much.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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You're probably right about those being the plays that aren't reviewable, but I do disagree somewhat with Schuerholz about resetting the game state being a "mind-boggling" problem. Tricky, yes, and likely controversial no matter how you decided to do it. But I think MLB could define a set of easy-to-understand guidelines that mandate where runners should go after a specific type of overturn. I gave a few non-comprehensive examples of these a few years ago (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=11357). I prefer the umpire-in-a-booth-reviewing-everything solution, and I'm not at all fond of using challenges, which may lend credence to the arguments of those who oppose all replay because of the delay involved. But if you buy the argument that you have to crawl before you can walk, any increase in the use of replay should be considered a good thing.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Good call, and to top it off you've picked a comment that I myself wrote. I did mention the inevitable decline part, at least -- but I kinda missed on the "slow" part. At least I'm on record (or at least I think I am) about not liking the contract he actually did wind up signing.

Jul 18, 2013 10:47 AM on The All-Vindication Team
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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You make a good case, though I'd still go with Liriano myself. He's been better than Santana (albeit in fewer innings), works cheaper, is signed for another year, and his innings are helping a contender.

Jul 18, 2013 10:42 AM on The All-Vindication Team
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Fixed.

Jul 18, 2013 10:28 AM on The All-Vindication Team
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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And if they beat McGriff, they get to keep that sweet, sweet, baby blue hat.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Absolutely fantastic. Although that looks a lot more like Waukesha than Milwaukee to me ...

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Reading this has inadvertantly lodged the Huey Lewis and the News song "The Power Of Love" in my head, which is not only a more unpleasant experience than being shot at but perhaps the worst thing to ever happen to me, although I have once been beaned during a baseball game.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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The other problem with "K-to-4 rate" is that it sounds like the pitcher's strikeout rate against elementary-school-aged batters.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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That's a good point -- absolutes at BOTH ends of that argument are wrong, and "money doesn't matter" actually bothers me more.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Now that's some outside the box thinking! Yeah, if he's completely immobile and can't even start crawling towards second base in the hopes that he gets tagged out, maybe all he can do is lay there, and everyone who tries to pass him gets called out. That Dusty, he's always thinkin'.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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There's a technical term for that group: Chicago Cubs.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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"Knows how to win" is also already tentatively slated for the ballot.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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With all due respect to TADontAsk and Randy Brown, THIS gets my vote for best comment to be received before noon on a Wednesday. I completely agree with your sentiments, jr. Luckily, since so little of my material appears in published form, it's rather difficult to burn.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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But but but ... how can I argue that Mark Grace was the best player of the nineties if I can't point out he had more hits than any other player? This one (or at least a category that includes this one) is already tentatively slated for the ballot.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Eight Men Out is definitely my favorite, and I actually rank it head and shoulders above all the others. There are actually only a few baseball movies that I really like (Bang The Drum Slowly and Bull Durham leap to mind), but Eight Men Out is the only one I love. I've actually never seen Major League -- I guess I always thought I'd hate it, but now I think I'll have to give it a try since so many of you seem to recommend it.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Ditto. And ditto.

Jan 10, 2012 7:28 AM on What's to Come in 2012
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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The BP Annual comes out later than most to allow us to incorporate as much of the winter trade and free agent action as possible. Over the weekend, for example, we made updates due to the Carlos Quentin and Jason Frasor deals -- something we couldn't otherwise do.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Valid point, Adam, and thanks also for the positive feedback. Hope you don't mind if I explain myself a little and describe my own self-editorial policy about these things (which absolutely should not be taken as the site's editorial policy). Snark has always been one of this site’s selling points--in fact, I've received several e-mails specifically complimenting the Granderson line--but you’re correct that we need to be careful in how its applied. My personal rule of thumb is to limit snark to things that are unlikely to stir deep passions (e.g., pop culture), and while I knew the Granderson comment had political overtones I felt it was uncontroversial in that it didn't specifically take a position on education reform or collective bargaining rights, but rather poked fun at the hyperbolic rhetoric and stereotyping that some have lately used to support such changes. Probably that was naive on my part, and you're certainly right to point out that it may have been inappropriate. But I hope you'll forgive us if we occasionally edge a toe out over that line, because as a reader of the site myself I'd hate to see our authors become too careful and in the process excise exactly that which makes them enjoyable for me to read. Just my own personal opinion.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Sorry if I didn't make that clear. On an individual entry, Matthew had 39 correct, while no other individual entry had more than 37 correct. If you were to create another individual entry by taking the majority choice for each question (i.e., the Wisdom of Crowds entry), that fictional ballot would have gotten 36 correct.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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This message has been brought to you by the Wisconsin Dairy Council. Oh, and "I can watch my fellow man plunge his sanitary stick into our shared cheese" is NSFW.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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No matter how much weight he gains, Val Kilmer can't possibly consume off-the-screen calories as quickly as he consumes on-the-screen scenery.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Honestly, I didn't know his save total until you posted it in your first comment, so I'm sure I still would have voted for him if he only had 25 saves. Would I have voted for him if he had zero saves (i.e., he was a set-up guy, not the closer)? Harder to say, since being made the closer speaks to the organization's confidence in him, but yeah, I probably would still have voted for him.

Oct 01, 2011 10:53 AM on Handing out the Hardware
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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I love our readers.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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I can only speak for myself, but here's why I put Kimbrel on top of my list: none of the other candidates were truly outstanding at what they did. Collmenter, Beachy, Luebke and Worley were all solid but unspectacular, as were guys like Ramos and Espinosa. Kimbrel, while limited to 77 innings due to modern usage patterns, posted a 1.49 FIP; only three pitcher-seasons since 1950 (Eric Gagne 2003, Pedro Martinez 1999, Rob Dibble 1991) have posted a FIP that low in as many innings. Kimbrel's season was among the all-time leaders in strikeout percentage. Unlike the other candidates, there are things about his 2011 season that are truly historic, and if there's one player among this year's NL ROY candidates that I think has a chance to go to multiple All-Star games, it's Kimbrel. Numbers like VORP and WARP are a starting point for me, not the end-point.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Point taken. Before you cast me weeping into the same cell as The Colonel James, though, let the record show that I was 17, definitely. It was the summer after I graduated from high school.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Well, I did take a tangential, back-handed swipe at Silva, if that's makes you feel any better. Full disclosure: it made ME feel better.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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I'm not going to claim a preference, since I'm a tourist, not a local (see VI. above). However, as a boost to the Wisconsin economy, I strongly recommend everyone put cheese of some kind on every entree.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Hey, that's what I'm here for, man.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Sure. That's not bandwagon jumping, though. That's permanently changing your allegiance, which is perfectly fine. If your original team wises up, you can always switch back.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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What do you do if the Phillies face the Red Sox in the World Series? Close your eyes and thank your lucky stars you're not a Cubs fan.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Well said.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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I'll buy that, although it sounds to me more like you're a full-time fan of more than one team. Big Love!

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Ideally, yes. As a native Chicagoan transplanted to Wisconsin during my youth, it was easy for me to root for both the Cubs and the Brewers. Then Bud went and moved them to the NL, ruining everything.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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I'm absolutely certain I can build a better fire than any current GM.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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I'm not a stranger to team sports, so I understand that sentiment. But what does it really accomplish? Most MLB fights (which usually aren't fights, but are shouting matches with a few players restraining a few other players, and everyone else milling about) are precipitated by some unsportsmanlike act -- throwing at a player, or an illegally rough slide, or a player showing someone up. When that act happens, umpires have every right to eject the offending player. If umpires did that, there would be no need for the eventual fight. What usually happens, though, is that umpires choose not to do this, instead warning players and benches. Then teams shift into "vigilante justice" mode, and the offended team's pitcher throws at a hitter on the offending team, and HE gets ejected. How does that help the offended team? Or, instead, no one is ejected, a few players mill around, everyone gets to demonstrate the rote position that "we won't be bullied" and "we have our teammates' backs," and the game goes on, with nothing really changed. In the Pedro/Zimmer case, Pedro clearly threw at Garcia. He should have been ejected right then and there, end of story. Everything that happened after that was pointless, and did nothing to help either team win. Did Clemens deciding he had been deputized and throwing inside to Manny, Manny taking exception to it, and the shouting match that ensued really have any bearing on the eventual outcome of the game or the series, or achieve anything other than to give us the horrific spectacle of Pedro shoving Popeye to the ground? I've heard the argument that those are bonding moments that help team chemistry, or that teams prove their mental and physical toughness in this way and that provides a confidence boost, but it's hard for me to believe that those things outweigh the injury risk and the possible expulsion and suspension of players that such moments cost. That, exactly, is why I think they're stupid: they're avoidable, and even when they're not avoided, they don't help anybody in any way.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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No need. I read the title, my inner Butthead chuckled, and I moved on. Works for me.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Terrific questions, Mike. 1) No and no; in fact I was THRILLED that Means made his call based on his belief about the tag. Few things grind my gears as much as the automatic out call because the ball beat the runner, regardless of whether a tag is applied in time. 2) No -- if I were in the booth, I wouldn't have overturned it. None of the views were fully convincing that the tag had been applied. When I wrote about this last summer (http://bit.ly/9D0MSJ), the standard I used was "irrefutable video evidence", and that's the standard I would support. And here's what I wrote back then about tag plays: "It was more difficult, however, to be sure that any players called safe were actually out—replay could show conclusively that a tag was missed or was late, but it was harder to use a two-dimensional replay to be sure exactly when a tag was applied." This play, to me, falls squarely in that category. Means had a live, 3-D (albeit full-speed) view of the play from a few feet away. For this kind of play, he likely had a better view than any single 2-D camera does. 3) Great question, and one I hadn't considered before. Lugo sure seems to act like he was out, and in fact I think a video reviewer could take that into consideration -- but personally in this case I again don't think his reaction was compelling enough for me to overturn the call. 4) I dunno. As they say, what I think isn't important, what matters is what I can prove. 5) I wouldn't grade Meals down as an evaluator -- he was in good position, and in fact I would praise him for not making the automatic "ball beat him there" out call. The same standard for call reversal should be used for evaluation. I wouldn't make the evaluations public, but in my world a large number of missed calls -- especially those when the umpire was out of position, or those that I would describe as "lazy calls" -- should affect pay and, in extreme circumstances, cause termination. 6) No good answer for this, since I don't know much about current umpire training. But I'd have to think video of both correct and incorrect calls would be valuable in training.

Jul 27, 2011 10:16 AM on Meals Money
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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In an odd bit of synchronicity, I was looking up the Humboldt Crabs schedule just yesterday in hopes of catching a game when I'm out that way in a few weeks. This piece just whet my appetite further. Very nice.

Jul 01, 2011 11:55 AM on Glory Days
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Perhaps -- although a plate appearance is a plate appearance, after all, and Halladay has been awful at the plate. Doc has the worst Batting WARP among pitchers (-0.5), while Kershaw has the best (+0.7).

Jun 30, 2011 3:32 PM on Perrotto's Picks
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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WARP includes pitching, hitting and defensive contributions, so Doc's .091 TAv and -0.9 FRAA pulls him down quite a bit.

Jun 30, 2011 11:44 AM on Perrotto's Picks
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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No worries -- you're not being a jerk. I always get those NT books wrong. But I remember the OT books from my childhood: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Irussma Judges Ken ;)

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Thanks, yanks, and sorry for the long absence -- other things have gotten in the way of writing for the site lately, but I'm hopeful I can be more productive going forward.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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A bevy, a bunch, a brood, a budget bill's batch of balderdash.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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LaPorta is indeed in the second group.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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I think the first place I heard that line wasn't from a Czech friend, but from Eric Idle playing one of the Aussie "Bruces" in "Monty Python Live At The Hollywood Bowl".

May 12, 2011 12:01 PM on Wrigley Field Forever?
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Exactly my response whenever I go to a game at Wrigley. I've often described it as watching an American Legion game being played by the best players in the world. It's that sense of intimacy which I cherish about the place.

May 12, 2011 11:59 AM on Wrigley Field Forever?
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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What am I, Carnac? BOR would be based on a leverage/win expectancy measure, so outs with nobody on and a three-run lead in the ninth would count less than working out of a bases-loaded, one out jam in the seventh. Hit Profile Percentage would track whether the vector of a ball coming off the bat would be likely to result in a hit given average defensive range. Could also deduce how many bases that hit would normally be worth. Batting Runs Added would be a linear weights metric that the league itself would settle on -- it wouldn't be exactly what's used in WARP or WAR, since it has to be viewed as mainstream. Lateral Range Score would be based on the distance a fielder travelled from the time of contact to the time of fielding for each fielded ball that results in an out. Or something like that. Total Fielding would be the number of additional outs above replacement (or average) the fielder produced with his range, arm, double-play ability, etc. based on spatial data. Tandem Wins would be awarded to both tandem starters if they qualify for a Win when considered a single pitcher. Pointless, I know, but players and agents would want to have SOMETHING to count.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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It's not the size of the out, but the magic in it?

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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I love it when the Perfesser goes a little Homerish: "Tell me, O muse, of those ingenious heroes Kinsler and Wilson who travelled far and wide after they had sacked the famous town of Arlington ... "

Mar 31, 2011 10:28 AM on Staff Picks for 2011
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Unless, of course, conventional wisdom and in-depth analysis happen to reach the same conclusions.

Mar 31, 2011 10:20 AM on Staff Picks for 2011
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Certainly not an unreasonable question, but I'm not sure if my answers will be satisfying. 1) I can only speak for myself, but I think most of us use PECOTA the same way: we look at it, give it some weight, then apply our own beliefs, analyses and prejudices. The less I know or have actually watched a player, the more weight I give to the projection. Sometimes this turns out well (see: drafting Colby Lewis and Dustin Pedroia); sometimes it doesn't (see: drafting Chad Orvella and Justin Huber). I'm more optimistic about Longoria than PECOTA is. 2) I'll leave it to someone that tinkers with the machine to give explanations for why Longoria's projection is lower than many indidivual expectations, but it's certainly possible that PECOTA is dead on and the collective "we" have been thrown off by our own opinions, desires, expectations and eyes.

Mar 31, 2011 10:18 AM on Staff Picks for 2011
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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If Brett Jackson develops into a solid-average major league outfielder, he will be the first one the Cubs have developed in the last half-century, unless Tyler Colvin beats him to it. Last year Colvin hit 20 HRs and posted a .279 TAv. If he manages to again hit 15+ HRs, or posts a .270+ Tav, he'll become only the second home-grown Cub outfielder to surpass one of those rather mundane thresholds in successive seasons since 1954. The only other one? Billy Williams.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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The underlying dynamic here is the different requirements needed to be successful running a baseball team versus reporting on a baseball team. GMs need to embrace sabermetric concepts and marry them to scouting in order to be competitive. If they don't, their inability to compete will weed them out. The same thing doesn't necessarily hold for media members, however. You can be a perfectly successful sportswriter or broadcaster and have no real understanding of sabermetrics, or an incomplete or even fallacious understanding of how teams win. You'll still have an audience among those whose sole enjoyment from baseball comes from a player's or a game's or a season's narrative (real or perceived). There's probably nothing wrong with that, since everyone enjoys the game for different reasons. However, I suspect the continuing popularity of fantasy sports and interest in sabermetric principles among fans, especially younger fans, ensures that the audience for those who not only don't embrace sabermetrics but actively dismiss or ridicule it will continue to shrink. Truth usually wins in the end.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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At County Stadium, the PA announcer would say a player's full name, pause, then repeat the last name. Friends who went there in the late 70s have told me about this frequent call and response: PA: "Sixto Lezcano" Crowd: "WHO?" PA: "LEZCANO!"

Mar 09, 2011 5:13 AM on What's In A Name?
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Absolutely! I can't say it without making it sound like an excerpt from that "Oh Yeah" song in Ferris Bueller.

Mar 08, 2011 7:09 PM on What's In A Name?
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Not bad, but I prefer me some Shingo Takatsu.

Mar 08, 2011 4:49 PM on What's In A Name?
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Scully saying "Candelaria" doesn't stick in my mind, but my internal Scully-voice is now saying that, and it's wonderful. My internal Scully-voice also frequently comments on my dinner. I do, however, remember Harry Caray's pronunciation of "Andres Galarraga", which became a 10-syllable word.

Mar 08, 2011 11:34 AM on What's In A Name?
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Great name -- and close to my wife's favorite baseball name: Buddy Biancalana. She called him "Big Bad Bat-Wieldin' Buddy Biancalana" based on a Topps card I had.

Mar 08, 2011 9:33 AM on What's In A Name?
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Fantastic. Why am I not surprised you did this, Diane? Hopefully, the league will soon be infused with players like Constantine Qat and Hung-Chi Ka, making your least even more valuable for the casual Scrabble player.

Mar 08, 2011 9:26 AM on What's In A Name?
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Considered putting in Robb Nen. I've been waiting for the media to call Todd the "Palin-drone".

Mar 08, 2011 6:40 AM on What's In A Name?
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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True -- my bad. Addams Family was the far superior show as well, though my wife inexplicably preferred The Munsters. She still does a mean Fred Gwynne impression.

Mar 08, 2011 5:29 AM on What's In A Name?
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Great list, Chiefsnark -- right on the money. Let's add Shawn Green, while we're at it.

Mar 08, 2011 5:13 AM on What's In A Name?
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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I've been a BP subscriber for many years, and this is the first article that I felt compelled to read out loud to my wife, knowing she'd enjoy it as much as I did (with a little bit of coaching as to who Jarrod Saltalamacchia is). Well done, Emma.

Feb 11, 2011 5:02 PM on Slash Lines
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Toronto shouldn't get two in a row -- give someone else a chance!

Feb 08, 2011 7:11 PM on The Next Jose Bautista
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Search for "C " (i.e., c followed by a space). I should have specified that -- sorry.

Feb 08, 2011 7:09 PM on They're Here!
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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If you're having trouble accessing the file and your subscription is up-to-date, please send details to Customer Service, and they will work on fixing this for you: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/contact.php

Feb 07, 2011 2:35 PM on They're Here!
 
Ken Funck
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Here's how you can do this yourself in Excel. If all you need is to know the first position listed for the player in the FRAA column (i.e., the primary position at which PECOTA thinks the player will appear), create a column entitled "POS" at the end of the spreadsheet in Column AQ, and then use this formula in this column for the first player listed: =LEFT(AF2,2) then copy it into every player's row. If, however, you want to see if the player is mentioned as playing that position at all, you'll need to created one column for each of the nine positions, and label them "1B", "2B", etc. Under the column you name "1B", you would enter this formula for the first player listed: =IF(ISERR(FIND("1B",$AF2,1))=TRUE,"","1B") The FIND function looks to see if the string "1B" is found somewhere in the FRAA column. The ISERR function looks to see whether there's an error (if it doesn't find string "1B", the result is a #VALUE error -- you could leave those, but it looks kind of ugly). The IF function states what to do if there's an error (i.e., put a blank space in the cell) or if there isn't an error (i.e., put the value "1B" in the cell). This will put the value "1B" in the column for that player if they're listd at 1B in the FRAA column, and an empty field if not. The "$" before the AF ensures that when you copy this cell, the reference to column AF (i.e., the FRAA column) will stay the same, so you can then copy the formula into your 2b column, edit the formula where it looks up and then stores "1B" to now say "2B", and copy that for all players. Follow the same steps for 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF and C, and you'll have a column for each position on which you can either sort of filter. If you want a column that will describe if the player is listed by PECOTA for ANY outfield position, you can use this formula in its own column: =IF(ISERR(FIND("F",$AF2,1))=TRUE,"","OF") Hope this helps.

Feb 07, 2011 6:24 AM on They're Here!
 
Ken Funck
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I see your mean bastard of a pony, and raise you a mean bastard of a Belgian stallion, which got out of the pasture at my father's place on Sunday monring. I helped my brothers chase him back into the barn, as did my 12-year-old daughter, who was actually frightened by a horse for the first time in her life, so we perched her on a tractor and let her watch the proceedings. But we only got him penned after one occasion where he was almost in, changed his mind at the doorway, and barreled straight towards me about thirty yards away. So I ... jumped out of the way. I scarpered, and by not closing my portion of the perimeter doomed us to another twenty minutes of chasing him back to the barn. I've felt completely inadequate ever since, even though the more fully evolved portion of my brain says it was the right decision. "And back in Rice Lake, well they say if you need a couple of stiff drinks before you stand your ground in front of a charging horse, you're finished." -- Harry 'Breaker' Morant (slightly edited)

 
Ken Funck
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You didn't get the one I sent you? Perhaps they couldn't fit him through your mail slot.

 
Ken Funck
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See, this is the great thing (or at least one of the great things) about writing at this site. Make an off-hand comment, especially one that includes the word "feel" in the first sentence (which should be a dead giveaway), and our readers are more than happy to point out how inadequate your off-the-cuff analysis has been. You're absolutely right, jn, and so are you, ra. Just taking a cursory glance at the standings over the last few years makes it clear that you'd probably have better races, both for the top spot and for the final spot, if you discarded divisions altogether. The argument against this is the loss of regional rivalries. But how true is that, and how important is that compared to the unfairness of the current arbitrary geographical divisions? Great points, guy, that I'll need a little time to process.

 
Ken Funck
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Sure. I didn't mean to suggest reducing the season from 162 games, but rather to shorten the time it takes to complete the season by adding doubleheaders. Starting the season earlier would work too, though I worry about snow-outs in cold-weather cities.

 
Ken Funck
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But it just feels so ... I dunno ... hockey-ish. You'd never really have a "pennant race", since the first place team would likely have clinched a playoff spot weeks in advance. Though I suspect lots of fans of Al East teams would like this setup better.

 
Ken Funck
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This!

 
Ken Funck
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I'm all for adding baseball games by making the first round of the playoffs best-of-seven, and shortening the regular-season calendar to allow for it. Give me that rather than expanded Wild Cards.

 
Ken Funck
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I take your point, Bill. But the problems I have with throwing out all the data points for actual or suspected PED users are pretty numerous. We can't be sure who did or didn't use. We can't be sure whether use actually had any effect on their performance (evidence there is still inconclusive). We don't know what other substances we should also try to correct for (e.g., greenies, cocaine, 5-hour Energy). I know that throwing up our hands and saying we can't figure all this out might be an unsatisfying answer, but at the end of the day modifying a process based on a number of not-well-understood factors is just as likely to make the results worse as it is to make them better, imho.

 
Ken Funck
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Posted them last night in Unfiltered: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=12812

Jan 31, 2011 1:10 PM on National BPuzzle Day
 
Ken Funck
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Fixed now.

Jan 28, 2011 9:18 AM on National BPuzzle Day
 
Ken Funck
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You are correct, and hopefully this will be fixed soon ...

Jan 28, 2011 8:39 AM on National BPuzzle Day
 
Ken Funck
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I'm more than willing to chime in with MY answers, though that doesn't necessarily mean they're correct: 1) c 2) b and d. And e if I think I could get away with it. 3) c and d 4) None of the above 5) d 6) b 7) b, e, a, c, d 8) c 9) d 10) b 11) c 12) c 13) c 14) f 15) c 16) d 17) f, b, a, d, e, c 18) a, b, d, c, e 19) g 20) e

Jan 20, 2011 6:31 AM on The BGMAT
 
Ken Funck
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Eric often wears a pair of green shoes that curl up at the end, and Colin has a 1-in-6 chance of noticing a secret door merely by walking past it. Oh, and from the months of October through January, Steven has a 90% resistance to "sleep" spells. So maybe we're not quite as elf-free as you think.

 
Ken Funck
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Parra also pitched much better in relief than in the rotation last year. He would actually be a good tandem starter, since batter OPS against him as a starter (to use a rough measure) goes from .708 to .820 to .942 with each successive spin through the rotation -- if the Brewers had paired him up with the dearly departed Carlos Villanueva, who had a similar tendency to lose effectiveness when hitters see him more than a few times, I bet they could have built themselves a very good third starter on the cheap. Parra might be good as a starter next year, but he'll need to replicate the lower walk rate he achieved in relief and figure out how to fool batters more than once or twice if he wants to keep a spot in the rotaion.

Dec 10, 2010 7:38 AM on Marcum Up
 
Ken Funck
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Well said, Colin. I’m just old enough to remember Santo the player, though only near the end of his career – probably 1972 is the first season I can recall as more than just a short collection of fleeting images – yet it really is as a fan and broadcaster that I’ll remember him most. To be honest, there are people who would hear him on the radio and cringe. And there are likely some today who are a little amazed at the depth of emotion that so many have felt at his passing – and I have to admit, I’m personally a little amazed at my own depth of emotion about it. Some of it has to do, of course, with the story of his ever-present optimism in the face of diabetes, the loss of his legs, and his inexplicable exclusion from the Hall of Fame. Some of it has to do with his likeability, a fact that made fans overlook his shortcomings as a broadcaster because, as so many have said, he was one of us. Criticizing his game-calling skills would have been akin to criticizing the guy on your local small-town radio station calling a high school football game – he’s your neighbor, after all, and he never claimed to be a professional, so what’s the point? Mostly, though, I’ll personally miss him because he gave vent to the same frustrations that I felt, and as he grew older he became ever the more an emotional surrogate for my own father, and my grandfather, and the generations of Cubs fans that have never been able to celebrate a championship. His passing makes us sad for him, and for his family and friends, but also for our own relatives and friends who have struggled through the same enduring frustrations (though on a lesser scale), and have left this world with their hopes similarly unfulfilled. I think that, in many ways, is what saddens so many Cubs fans today – the fact that they won’t be able to hear Ronnie call a World Series victory, and explain to the world exactly what we’re feeling. I’m not sure whether anyone else can.

Dec 03, 2010 1:45 PM on Remembering Santo
 
Ken Funck
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My calculator tells me that if Pavano, Guerrier and Crain all accept arb (or Crain signs a reasoanble 2-year deal) the payroll would go up to around $120 million depending on arb awards -- high, I know, but it doesn't add any big long-term commitments, and with Cuddyer coming off the books the payroll could start to edge down next year (the Twins have already hit the peak annual salaries for Mauer and Morneau). If Pavano declines, it would be $110, though you might want to find another starter. If Guerrier declines too, it would be around $105, but you'd probably want another bullpen arm. I think you've got it pretty well pegged as far as whose likely to be better or worse. Span and Kubel I agree ought to improve, and I personally expect Hardy to hit better as well. Valencia and Thome won't be so crazy good. Young I think can play as well as he did last year -- really, he wasn't all that good, especially given his defense. Casilla hopefully is ready to at least get on base enough to not be a 2008-style offensive black hole. And hopefully you have Morneau back full-time. All-in-all, even losing O-Dog, it pretty much evens out. Might even be better, depending on Morneau. I love having all those lefties -- spending so much time watching the righty-heavy Cubs and Brewers lineups, the platoon advantage they gain is probably bigger than any ballpark-related loss. Some of those lost home runs become outs, but some became doubles and triples. It's not like Morneau and Mauer and Thome weren't productive hitters, and having Cuddyer, Young, Valencia and Hardy balance things out. I don't think Kubel has that much trade value given his defensive deficiencies; I'd love to sell high on Delmon, but I never could think of a trading partner for him, except for Upton, which is probably a non-starter. Suggestion? Span I'd want to keep since he's cheap and the only proven CF on the roster, unless I'm convinced Revere is better than him right now. The blockbuster for Shields/Upton would be great, but if there's one team that doesn't need cheap strike-throwers, it's Tampa. I'm not KG -- his answers to your questions are coming soon! -- but I'm a big believer in Hicks.

Nov 16, 2010 6:46 AM on Minnesota Twins
 
Ken Funck
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Why everybody be hatin' on Lil' Nicky? His glove makes him a perfectly acceptable utility infielder. Don't pay him millions, of course, but I'd take him on my team.

Nov 15, 2010 5:13 PM on Minnesota Twins
 
Ken Funck
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Very good point -- though the fact that the automatic outs are on the bench, rather than starting at short, second and third, point to the progress the Twins have made since 2009. Sounds like they might be kicking the tires on Marcus Thames, and that makes sense. I'd re-sign Punto cheap, since he's a great guy to have around so long as you don't have to let him start. The very first move I considered when thinking through the options was to sign Paul Konerko for the "DH/Morneau Insurance" position, which I still think would be a great fit, but there's probably not a budget for it.

Nov 15, 2010 11:13 AM on Minnesota Twins
 
Ken Funck
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Yep, you're right -- I meant Calvin, not Clark. My bad. And yes, that's pretty much my view of the Twins. I mean, of course it would be great if they could get better. Signing Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford would make them better. But the more I looked at it, the harder it became for me to see how they could make themselves demonstrably better without without either taking on a ton of salary, which they're not going to do, or trading away a lot of their future, which I'm always leery of. Greinke might make them somewhat better, but if the cost is two major leaguers and your top prospect, the marginal improvement between, say, Greinke and Slowey, isn't worth the cost of, say, Young and Hicks -- maybe not even for this year, certainly not in the long run. I'd rather they try and add on to the roster at the trade deadline, when the cost should be less.

Nov 15, 2010 11:05 AM on Minnesota Twins
 
Ken Funck
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Though of course the media would think being fiery and exciting fans are important qualifications -- those stories are easier and more fun to write and discuss.

Nov 07, 2010 8:37 AM on The BSAT Answer Key
 
Ken Funck
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Y'know, I agree that the in-game strategy and roster usage questions are probably less important to a manager's overall success than other factors. Media relations is important, but being "entertaining" probably isn't -- fans would be plenty excited to watch a winning team managed by an umbrella stand. It's really the leadership part, i.e., getting players to feel comfortable, work hard, play smart, and maintain their cool under stress, that I suspect is the most important part of the job.

Nov 07, 2010 8:34 AM on The BSAT Answer Key
 
Ken Funck
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Briefly, here's what I was thinking when I chose those films, though others may have very different opinions. Independence Day -- Bill Pullman as the president flying into combat ahead of his troops is leadership by doing, or leadership by example. 12 Angry Men -- Henry Fonda slowly and stubbornly working to bring his fellow jurors around is leadership by building consensus. Saving Private Ryan -- Tom Hanks is a hands-on leader here like Pullman, but it's much more personalized and chummier. He's more of a player's manager. Master And Commander -- Russell Crowe's ship captain is a true autocrat -- a benevolent one, perhaps, but an autocrat nonetheless. He's viewed as a winner by his crew, however, and they trust him to keep them alive and bring them victory. Bridge On The River Kwai -- Alec Guinness doggedly keeps his regiment alive in captivity through discipline and hard work, even if that work aids the enemy. He embodies single-minded, almost blind, determination to complete a task. David Lean rightly sets this up as a paradox, of course.

Nov 05, 2010 12:10 PM on The BSAT Answer Key
 
Ken Funck
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A couple things to say in response: 1) Personally, I haven’t played stat-based fantasy baseball for years – I spent a few years in the nineties in a standard rotisserie league (using batting average, of course), but now all I play is sim baseball, specifically Strat, because I enjoy it more. Personal preference. Because of this, I don’t play in any of the “expert” leagues, and I doubt I’m very high on any list of potential invitees. If elected, I will not serve. 2) I don’t claim to speak either for BP or for the BP authors who play fantasy baseball or participate in expert leagues. However, if I were to play in them it would be because they’re fun, they have some history, and they’re (for want of a better word) prestigious. I can understand why someone might want to play in a fantasy league that once included, say, Peter Gammons and Bill James. Those leagues were founded using BA, and I wouldn’t expect them to change. 3) As you may have seen, Clay Davenport’s team won his LABR league this year. Personally, I have a hard time thinking that Clay, who over the years has invented enough new advanced statistical acronyms to supply a kegerator full of alphabet soup, doesn’t understand or is unwilling to stand up and loudly support the position that OBP is a better measure of batting value than BA. BP has published, and continues to publish, books that continually hammer that (and many other) points home; this website makes those same points every day; BP analysts say those same things on the radio, on TV, and in print. Doing those things likely does more to further the cause of smarter baseball analysis than, say, boycotting Tout Wars. If playing in those leagues somehow paints a stat-savvy analyst as being somehow ideologically impure in your eyes, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion -- but it’s not an opinion I can share. There are far bigger arguments to win, and far larger arenas in which to win them. 4) Let’s not lose sight of what we’re talking about here: a game. While games can be educational tools, that isn’t their sole purpose, and in many cases, especially in something like rotisserie which isn’t meant to be a simulation, it isn’t even close to being its primary purpose. I can enjoy playing Settlers of Catan, and chuckle over the fact that you need to use sheep as a component to build a bridge without fear that the game may undermine someone’s understanding of structural engineering. I can play card games with my daughter absent any fear that ranking kings ahead of queens will undermine her sense of gender equity (unless we’re playing sheepshead, where queens are more powerful). Seriously, I understand your point, but I think your arguments lack a little perspective.

Nov 05, 2010 11:25 AM on The BSAT Answer Key
 
Ken Funck
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It's a great big wide coincidental world. In my high school (graduation class size: 200) there was me, and two years ahead of me there was a Ken Funk. We weren't related.

 
Ken Funck
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Not necessarily -- MLB ballparks are oriented in different ways: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/stadium/ballpark_NSEW_NL.shtml

Oct 23, 2010 7:41 AM on The BSAT
 
Ken Funck
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My answers in comments above -- not sure if matching mine makes yours "right" though, Brian.

Oct 22, 2010 6:44 PM on The BSAT
 
Ken Funck
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Glad you enjoyed it. I'll see if others are interested -- maybe not everyone's answers, but sort of what the consensus would be. But in the meantime, here's what I would have answered: 1. E 2. C,B,A,D,E 3. A 4. D 5. C 6. B 7. E 8. C 9. D - I'm more of a persuader 10. B (I've actually had this question before) 11. D 12. D 13. A 14. A 15. A 16. D 17. A 18. C 19. B 20. E

Oct 22, 2010 6:33 PM on The BSAT
 
Ken Funck
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1) Good catch -- since the fastball was straight, maybe it's time to get him out of there. 2) Almost put in an "All Of The Above";)

Oct 22, 2010 6:27 PM on The BSAT
 
Ken Funck
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Thought about it. There's way, way more that goes into that job (and it's way, way more important than the manager's job), so it would be harder to distill a list like. I'll see what I can do.

Oct 22, 2010 6:23 PM on The BSAT
 
Ken Funck
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Cue up that Daily Show "Cash For Caulkers" talking head montage ...

Oct 20, 2010 3:32 PM on Chicago Cubs
 
Ken Funck
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Nor is it a coincidence that his name is an anagram for "Add'n U, Man"

Oct 20, 2010 2:04 PM on Chicago Cubs
 
Ken Funck
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The question is, who stops doing it first and takes the heat for being "unpatriotic"? To use an extreme example, it's rather like standing and applauding Stalin during a politburo speech -- who dares to sit down first? (And no, I'm not trying to say that our current political climate is in any way akin to the USSR under Stalin ...)

Oct 20, 2010 12:53 PM on ALCS Game Four
 
Ken Funck
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You guys are too kind. No, seriously, I mean it -- you're TOO kind. Now go out and make a young child cry to even things out.

 
Ken Funck
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Solid plan, iffy execution. The Jackson/Hudson deal probably worked for both teams, since the Sox wanted and could afford a veteran, and Hudson was a good return for the D'backs. I happened to do a chat right after the Haren trade, and I actually said exactly what you say here -- the Twins are drowning in Saunders types, so they could have (and shold have) easily matched the Angels' offer. But Haren should have netted Arizone more, I think. I'd be loth to trade away any SS that can hit, since they're so rare and can give you such a competitive advantage. I think it would be a mistake to trade him now, unless the return was astronomical.

Oct 14, 2010 6:45 AM on Arizona Diamondbacks
 
Ken Funck
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For a centerfielder with a solid glove, I'll definitely take that--especially when compared to his former struggles at the plate. He earned 4.8 WARP this year, after a career total 4.7 WARP going into this season.

Oct 13, 2010 6:46 PM on Arizona Diamondbacks
 
Ken Funck
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I don't think he'll get the job, but I think Rick Hahn would do a great job for the Mets. He answered questions at the Baseball Prospectus event at The Cell last year, and he really impressed me. Not sure if Moyer has anything left in the tank.

Oct 13, 2010 6:38 PM on Arizona Diamondbacks
 
Ken Funck
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Turgid? I, and the committee which helped draft it, prefer to think of it as "comprehensive".

Oct 13, 2010 6:32 PM on Arizona Diamondbacks
 
Ken Funck
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You're right, there's no point in criticizing the umps for being fallible. Calling for replay isn't jumping on the umps, though. It's really just giving the umps another tool to help them do their jobs better. Everyone knows they have a tough job on calls like the Posey play, and if there weren't quick, painless alternatives available most people would just accept that umps are human and will occasionally make mistakes. But putting an umpire in a booth with a set of monitors and DVRs is a quick, painless alternative that would have ensured that the Golson and Posey calls would have been swiftly and easily corrected. For the life of me, I'll never understand why anyone would be against that.

Oct 08, 2010 8:37 AM on LDS Day Two Roundup
 
Ken Funck
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Top ... men. So, it needs to be retrieved from some massive government warehouse?

 
Ken Funck
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I'd consider putting Chapman in with your top 4, though I worry about injury. Don't think he'll get enough innings to get a card (unless you count computer-only cards -- my league doesn't). Not quite so hyped about Leake -- personally, I like Hudson better.

Oct 01, 2010 12:07 PM on Closing Time
 
Ken Funck
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Looks like your league only lets you draft carded players, so I'm surprised Bautista's card last year wasn't in the Top 550 -- it was a decent card against lefties (then again, it wasn't THAT great, so in a mixed league maybe it wasn't good enough to play). Of the other new carded players you didn't list, I like Hellickson and Mike Stanton a lot, though not as much as your top 4. Bumgarner and Garcia (he didn't get a card last year, did he) get knocked down a bit for being lefties; Daniel Hudson probably isn't as good as he's pitched so far, though I like him enough to have drafted him last year.

Oct 01, 2010 11:07 AM on Closing Time
 
Ken Funck
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Of course that depends on the league, the size of your rosters, etc. My league's AL-Only and we have a roster of 36, including minor league players, so if Bautista were available he's definitely a first rounder. Even in other league types, I'd have to think Bautista would be a first round pick -- he'll probably be a 3 at third base again, and he's actually crushed righties more than lefties (not that he isn't playable against lefties). Some contending team will definitely scoop that up, even if they think it's a fluke.

Oct 01, 2010 9:10 AM on Closing Time
 
Ken Funck
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The Jose-Bot was programmed to reach 60, so he'll need to get two more in each game over the weekend. Since he's my Strat right-fielder, I'm rooting for him/it. Remember how he started the season as the Jays' leadoff hitter?

Oct 01, 2010 7:16 AM on Closing Time
 
Ken Funck
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Another example of how language evolves. Mendoza Line, for better or worse, now seems to be permanently associated with .200. Here's hoping you can eventually make peace with it, and it doesn't keep you permanently flustrated -- a word which was my pet peeve, but has now actually made it into the dictionary. I'm still bitter about that, so I feel your pain, jt.

Oct 01, 2010 7:09 AM on Closing Time
 
Ken Funck
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Because he's a dead recluse -- the least accessible recluse of all.

Oct 01, 2010 7:01 AM on Closing Time
 
Ken Funck
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Great adds -- those are two I didn't notice! After losing last night, the Buccos will need to take two out of three over the weekend to keep from at least sharing the worst road record. There were a few others I saw which I didn't include: 1)Boston and Arizona both have team P/PA rates over 4 -- no teams have ever done this (since 1988), in fact only 6 teams have been above 3.95. 2) Carlos Marmol is still on track to set a record on K/9 --he's currently at 15.95 K/9, with Eric Gagne's 14.98 K/9 in 2003 the current record. Marmol's K% excluding IBB stands at 41.85%, which would be fourth all-time behind Gagne 2003 (45.1%), Billy Wagner 1999, and Brad Lidge 2004. He's still way ahead of the pack as far as the lowest percentage of plate appearances ending in a player making contact: 40.92%. The previous record was 46.43%, by Armando Benitez in in 1999. Almost 60% of batters facing Marmol this year have either walkeded, whiffed or gotten plunked. That just amazes me.

Oct 01, 2010 7:00 AM on Closing Time
 
Ken Funck
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Eric, sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.

Sep 28, 2010 8:26 PM on Racing for the Cy
 
Ken Funck
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Coming very soon to a browser near you ...

Sep 28, 2010 8:13 PM on Milwaukee Brewers
 
Ken Funck
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Morrison isn't a good outfielder, but he's not Cust/Dunn/Luzinski-level bad either. He's got enough offensive value to overcome his defensive shortcomings out there. Given the talent they currently have, leaving Sanchez at first and putting Morrison in left makes sense. As for Cousins, I'm not KG, but he looks like a decent fourth outfielder to me. Everything I hear and read says he can play center, but he's no longer particularly young and I expect the organization will continue to give Maybin every chance to reach his much higher ceiling.

Sep 27, 2010 8:44 AM on Florida Marlins
 
Ken Funck
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Since Tom Ricketts' first baseball operations hire was to bring Ari Kaplan on board to head up the statistical analysis section, I'm hoping it's the latter.

Sep 23, 2010 5:29 PM on Buzzkill-o-Metrics
 
Ken Funck
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I think Colvin is an acceptable starter if he can play center field acceptably well; if not (and the evidence so far isn't very supportive) he's a fourth outfielder. If he's your starting right fielder, you're settling. And if he's your starting first baseman, as I've heard some people suggest for next year, you really don't have a clue about what his core competency is.

Sep 23, 2010 5:21 PM on Buzzkill-o-Metrics
 
Ken Funck
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Lorian Blush: An inexpensive, unsatisfying, sweet pink wine that costs $5 per bottle but provides the purchaser with only $2 worth of flavor.

Sep 23, 2010 12:10 PM on Albert the Great
 
Ken Funck
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Did I really type that? Um ... yeah, I guess I really did type that. You're exactly right, dutchman, and I was exactly wrong. Glad I had that particular bassackwards braincramp while writing a baseball article, instead of signalling right and then turning left in heavy traffic. Thanks for catching it. Let's all pretend that sentence reads "his groundball rate has gone up slightly, which generally leads to a higher BABIP, not a 130 point drop."

Sep 23, 2010 10:21 AM on Buzzkill-o-Metrics
 
Ken Funck
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It's one of a fairly long list of movies that I like a lot, but can completely understand when people go "huh?" Sort of like Philip Glass, I guess.

 
Ken Funck
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I think last year's annual described the Brewers as "too smart to get much worse and too poor to get much better". I think Melvin has a tough hand to play. When you're a small market team and your system isn't producing pitching talent, what are your options? You can trade your top-notch hitting talent (e.g., Fielder, Braun) to get more pitching, but there's no guarantee you've made yourself better, and fans won't be happy to see those guys go. You can do what Melvin has done--sign free agent starters--but unless you can afford the Sabathias or Halladays of the world, you're signing expensive players that are either mediocre or high-risk. I can easily see Melvin keeping Fielder for one more year and crossing his fingers that somehow, some way, a few of his pitching gambles pay off before Prince has to go.

 
Ken Funck
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The problem with doing it as a percentage is that it breaks down in cases where teams have negative, or really low, VORP.

 
Ken Funck
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Same thing for them last year, with Gallardo, Coffey and Hoffman all at 20+ VORP, while getting 126 starts from pitchers with a negative VORP(!). Seriously, that's just amazing. It's not like they haven't tried to develop starters, it's just that their best pitching prospects have been derailed by injuries (Mark Rogers) and other issues (Jeremy Jeffress).

 
Ken Funck
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Moreover, games aren't played in a vacuum, and a manager who bet on his own team has an incentive to manage his roster to win that particular game to the exclusion of the next one by, say, burning up his best relievers. There's no question in my mind that any betting, even on your own team to win, undermines the validity of the result.

Sep 14, 2010 10:59 AM on Reconsidering Pete Rose
 
Ken Funck
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Totally agree with all of you that Petco is an even better ballpark fit. But there will definitely be fewer rotation openings in San Diego next year, and at least one of them may be filled internally. If Lilly signs with the Dodgers (where he apparently hoped to land back in 2007), he's guaranteed to be in Cali in a big park. I can see him doing that rather than risking a spin in the market where he may or may not get what he wants. Purely speculative, of course. Frankly, I'd love to see him back in Chicago because he's one of my favorite pitchers to watch.

Sep 09, 2010 1:13 PM on Gilding the Lilly
 
Ken Funck
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Five august wins ties with the perpetually, criminally underappreciated Ted Lilly for the most in August, but CC's 3.11 RA doesn't quite make the cut.

Sep 02, 2010 11:30 AM on Dog Day Aftermath
 
Ken Funck
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All of them, eventually.

 
Ken Funck
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Same deal with Cabrera's .299/.457/.577 August: July: .398/.477/.761 May: .344/.410/.700

Sep 02, 2010 10:57 AM on Dog Day Aftermath
 
Ken Funck
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And they don't use the machine that goes "Ping!"

 
Ken Funck
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Since I live in Wisconsin, state law requires me to comment on all beer-related posts. Two Hearted is a very good ale -- imho better than Oberon, though I can see why some would prefer the latter. Two Hearted is a very good river -- but when I was in the UP last week I had much better luck on the Tahquamenon. Of Michigan beers I've sampled, Kuhnhenn Brewery has produced my favorites, though I only get to sample them at beer festivals--perhaps more familiarity would curb my enthusiasm somewhat.

 
Ken Funck
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Great to hear from you, Ebenezer! My point here isn't that the Pirates were right to make a profit instead of paying player salaries. My point is that the players in question (Bautista, Bay, Wilson, Sanchez et al.) were absolutely not the core of a soon-to-be winning team, unless that winning team was already awash with pitching (which the Pirates aren't/weren't). They weren't particularly young and they weren't particularly good, and they were about to become more expensive. Whether the Pirates got enough talent back when trading them, or whether they should have invested more money in other things (international free agents, minor league facilities, whatever) and taken less profit is a different question. But taking that money and using it to keep any one of these players around for the long run would have been a mistake.

Aug 28, 2010 2:46 PM on Hindsight is 81-81
 
Ken Funck
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Strasburg's current 1.2 WARP doesn't put him in the rookie top 20.

Aug 19, 2010 2:21 PM on The Golden Generation
 
Ken Funck
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True, this year's class (especially among the "name" players) is a little younger -- though perhaps by not as much as you think. Adam Jones was the only 20-year-old in the 2006 class, but there was an avalanche of 21-year-olds (Zimmerman, Kemp, Billingsley, Cain) and 22-year-olds (Hanley, Prince, Markakis, Lester, Hamels, Josh Johnson, Broxton, Kendrick, Liriano, Anibal Sanchez, Capps, Garza) -- moreso than this season.

Aug 19, 2010 9:04 AM on The Golden Generation
 
Ken Funck
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A whopping 3.0 WARP for his career so far. Don't remind me -- he's my Strat-league catcher, and I guess I expected maybe just a tad more from him.

Aug 19, 2010 7:46 AM on The Golden Generation
 
Ken Funck
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Strange but true stories of the WARP Patrol. A good chunk of his value comes from defense, but Yuni was a 7 win player by WARP in 2009 -- best in his class that year. Like I wrote in "42 Things", you have to be careful to understand the uncertainty when using a metric like WARP, so I'm not about to claim that Escobar has clearly been more valuable than, say, Josh Hamilton or Ubaldo Jimenez because his career WARP is a little higher. But he's certainly a valuable player.

Aug 19, 2010 7:40 AM on The Golden Generation
 
Ken Funck
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You're exactly right: the rookie class of 2001 was pretty shallow. The top 11 players by career WARP from that class are Pujols, Suzuki, Oswalt, Sabathia, Soriano, Rollins, Dunn, Br. Roberts, M. Young, Wells, and Pierzynski. The entire career WARP so far of that class from 2001-2010 is 816.9, and there are 26 players with double-digit career WARP; the WARP from 2006-2010 for the class of 2006 is already 906, and there are already 34 players with double-digit career WARP.

Aug 19, 2010 7:00 AM on The Golden Generation
 
Ken Funck
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You all make good points, and I think you're correct, ScottyB -- I suspect the selection process for MLB players makes them less susceptible to "choking" (for want of a better term) than the population at large, and the variation between players becomes narrower. I still believe there are some players who are more likely to come through with big hits or big outs or big catches in big situations, over and above their normal ability, though it's nearly impossible to agree on a definition of "clutch" and then find statistical evidence of it as a repeatable skill.

 
Ken Funck
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This. I'm perfectly willing to have the league promulgate rules to avoid injuries -- heckfire, I've played in softball leagues where any play at the plate is a force, and there are two bags side-by-side at first base to keep runners from becoming entangled with first basemen. If there's a compelling reason to outlaw tags, or allow the neighborhood play, that's fine. Just make it a rule, so it can be correctly and equally enforced.

 
Ken Funck
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Totally agree with you that we shouldn't distinguish between users who were caught and users who weren't caught -- if using was bad, then it was bad whether or not your use has been exposed. But the problem then becomes, should we vote ANYONE in, since we can never be sure whether anyone we're voting on has ever used? And if information came out now that, say, Cal Ripken used steroids late in his career, would we kick him out? My preference is to not try and pretend I can know who did and didn't use, and therefore not use that as a factor in determining who I think belongs. I understand and don't lightly dismiss the moral objections some might have to this line of thinking, of course -- that's why there are entire curricula surrounding ethics and philosophy.

 
Ken Funck
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I'm not sure that I'm admitting that I'm 'almost certainly wrong.' It's more that I'm acknowledging that there is a non-zero chance that a given batter really, truly possesses an ability to face a certain pitcher that's beyond his normal hitting ability. Analysis has shown that the likelihood of that is low, but not nil, and if a manager uses that as a criteria to select between two otherwise equal choices to face a given pitcher, I think that's defensible. This is not so much a belief I choose to cling to in defiance of all evidence; it's more an awareness that a small chance is not the same thing as no chance.

 
Ken Funck
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The first play that comes to mind for me was when Bob Brenly and the D-backs got bent out of shaper after Ben Davis bunted for a hit to end Curt Schilling's perfect game with one out in the eighth inning of a 2-0 game. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/diamondbacks/2001-05-27-schilling.htm

 
Ken Funck
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Hi Mike! Yes, I've read what Tango et al. had to say about this in The Book, and last night I actually re-read what James Click had to say about this in Baseball Between the Numbers. So I guess it's fair to say I hold this belief despite the solid evidence they've presented -- which is why I also included such wiggle words as "admittedly no tangible evidence" and "all other factors being somewhat equal." I understand that a normal binomial distribution will include extreme outliers -- Click's example was Mike Redmond "owning" Tom Glavine -- and that a small sample is not very predictive of the next small sample. But I can't shake the psychology of the pitcher/batter showdown, where batters who hit particular pitchers (or pitcher types) well feel comfortable facing them, and pitchers who have had trouble retiring particular batters feel uncomfortable against them. Most of us have experienced this phenomenon before -- I remember when I used to play a lot of basketball there was a certain guy I hated to have guard me, since even though he wasn't a particularly good player or a particularly good defensive player I just never played well against him. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy. While the great likelihood is that a given small sample isn't predictive of a particular skill, there's still some chance that it is. Is that in any way a convincing statistical argument? Of course not--in fact it flies in the face of other, quite valid statistical arguments. That's why it's a belief, and one I wouldn't act on except in certain circumstances. Perhaps Mike Redmond really did see Tom Glavine well (he did hit lefties reasonably well in general), and while I wouldn't send him up there to fact Glavine ahead of Albert Pujols, I might very well have him pinch-hit for Damian Miller.

 
Ken Funck
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Thanks. What you say about #33 is interesting -- the same question of which is worse, punishing one innocent or not punishing many who are guilty, also applies to crime policy, although the consequences are obviously of a different magnitude. The "assumption of innocence" is a also very good point. This spring I heard Jon Heyman (I think) discussing the Cubs hiring of Greg Maddux, which happened to occur at the same time McGwire was reporting to Cardinals camp and the media had steroids on the brain. Heyman discussed the irony of Maddux, who was clean, having to compete against guys who were dirty, and how much better his numbers may have been during a different era. Now, I don't know that Maddux used steroids, but I also don't know that he DIDN'T use steroids, and it's this assumption by many (not to pick on Heyman) that they can be sure some players used and others didn't that bothers me. As for the writing pill -- how do you think a schmuck like me did so well in BP Idol? #36 - I thought Viola Davis was particularly terrific.

 
Ken Funck
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Agreed. Thankfully, Bud says we're supposed to see fewer off days between postseason games this year, which will help.

 
Ken Funck
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Yeah, you're both right. There's probably selection bias at work here -- if you go out of your way to see a movie in the theater, especially right after it's released, you're more likely to be pre-disposed to like movies of that genre, or by that director, or starring those performers, etc. So the early rankers of a good movie on IMDB are almost always going to be more likely to anjoy it. Once more people see it, especially when it comes out on DVD, etc., the rankings go down. Similar things happen with good foreign language films -- few people who aren't somewhat pre-disposed to liking Kurosawa films are going to see Rashomon.

 
Ken Funck
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I can see that, but if I'm selecting one of those movies to watch again, I'll probably pick The Prestige. Vive la difference!

 
Ken Funck
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Oh, I love me some Brewers-Padres! What I really miss, however, is Expos and Astros; it always sounded to me like something a drill sergeant would shout at a recruit while crawling through mud. Valid points indeed, Waldo, and perhaps interleague play merely replaces one lame series with another. However, there's the additional burden of unbalancing the schedule within the division, which to me outweighs the benefit of an annual Subway or Crosstown series. As I said, these are just beliefs, which may or may not be shared.

 
Ken Funck
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I have Inception tied with The Dark Knight (although the more I think about it, I think Inception is the better movie, but Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight brings it into a tie). I have Memento ahead of both. And I know I'll probably get flamed for this, but I have The Prestige ahead of Inception and tied with Memento. I was explaining why to someone yesterday, and now that I've listened to this week's podcast I think that KG has the same minor problem with Inception that I do: Inception has too many "action" scenes. The older I get, the more those bore me, and I kept fidgeting and waiting for Nolan to get back to the plot. The Prestige has almost none of that, and I think that's why I like it more.

 
Ken Funck
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True, but to me (a) a few minutes (at most) to get things right is worth it to me; and (b) better things can be done to speed up the game, like limiting catcher visits or how long players can stand out of the box between pitches.

 
Ken Funck
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And right on cue, The Commish decides to start the season earlier in order to ensure the Series ends in October. That's a good start, although it's swapping bad weather late for bad weather early. Now, if they'd just add a few doubleheaders we could end the season in mid-October.

 
Ken Funck
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There's no baseball tie in #11. Nothing about Inception or Christopher Nolan has anything to do with baseball -- I just happen to have recently seen Inception and enjoyed it, but I don't quite understand why it's been showered with such overwhelming praise. There are two Nolan movies I most definitely liked more.

 
Ken Funck
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#15: Exactly right -- and thank you for remembering my bio. Kelleher vs. Moffitt: 0-7, 0 BBs, 2 Ks Kelleher vs. Lavelle: 5-6 (all singles), 0 BBs, 2 RBIs

 
Ken Funck
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Here's my thinking: there are 30 teams, and actuarial tables tell me there's a good chance I'll live at least 30 more years. All things being equal, the Cubs ought to win once, right? I don't believe that black cats and billy goats and young men sporting ear buds have conspired to keep the Cubs from winning a championship in my lifetime (or my father's, or my father's father's). They're just an extreme statistical outlier. It happens. Given the financial resources at their disposal, at some point they're bound to win. Or so I keep telling myself.

 
Ken Funck
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Interesting (at least to me) Peralta factoid: his GB% has dropped from 50.2% last year to 33.9% this year, the largest single season drop of the 21st century. Yet he's not hitting home runs -- the only player this century to post a lower GB% and a lower HR/AB than Peralta's current 5.6% was Mike Lowell in 2005, when he was playing his way out of South Florida.

Jul 28, 2010 7:40 PM on Pasting in Peralta
 
Ken Funck
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Sorry to take so long to reply -- I was out of pocket. Definitely an E-Ken, and the funny thing is Crispin Glover was on my mind having recently watched the Drunken History episode where he plays Edison to John C. Reilly's Tesla. So I have no excuse for getting this wrong.

Jul 23, 2010 7:06 AM on Cold Fusion
 
Ken Funck
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Thanks, Jay. Now I keep hearing the voice of Grampa MacPhail in my head, explaining to the grandkids at Christmas that he had to steal the ashtray in retaliation for the Kaiser stealing the word twenty, and how his unit infiltrated the Dutch castle with onions tied to their belts, which was the style at the time. At least now I understand why Andy keeps explaining that the Orioles are building to contend in diggety-twelve.

 
Ken Funck
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Great points. You know that .330 is an excellent batting average because it's a scale you've always been aware of, a scale that the MSM is comfortable with and always uses. You're exactly right that the scale for OBP and SLG would become second nature to fans if they were to see it more and more. Current leaguewide totals for the AL are .262/.331/.410 (down from last year's .267/.336/.428). An OBP over .390 gets you in the top ten in the league; and OBP over .380 gets you in the top twenty; an OBP over .340 gets you in the top fifty qualifiers.

Jul 15, 2010 6:24 PM on Business Casual
 
Ken Funck
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See, to me, that's the biggest problem. I have no issue with fans, or broadcasters, who have no interest in stats, or in trying to quantify true value. If you love baseball, and enjoy the beauty of it, the power of Albert Pujols, the speed of Carl Crawford, the mystery of Jamie Moyer, etc., and don't try to make comparisons between players using stats, bully for you. But there are lots of people who try to make arguments using stats, but they're the wrong ones and they're used incorrectly. I'm talking about simple things like a .300 hitter not necessarily being a productive hitter, or your team leader in Wins not necessarily being your best starting pitcher (see: Braden Looper, Milwaukee Brewers, 2009). Some fans try to use stats to make points that are just plain wrong, but a lot of the MSM supports them in their beliefs -- where do you think those fans got those ideas in the first place? That's what bothers me--not so much the lack of enlightenment about new ideas, but the perpetuation of old, bad ideas.

Jul 15, 2010 6:09 PM on Business Casual
 
Ken Funck
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And this is exactly the quandary I feel whenever I write about this. I know how much I personally would love to see more in-depth analysis during games. It would enhance my viewing experience; it would expose others to the same sort of things I find interesting and valuable, meaning (as Jeffrey says) there will be more people with whom I can have those types of conversations. But at the same time, I know those are selfish reasons, and I'm way in the minority, so those aren't compelling reasons for Fox or ESPN or your local announcers to include those things in a broadcast. Better analysis has taken hold in front offices because there's a compelling reason to use it -- you win more ballgames. It's just harder to find that compelling reason for the MSM since they won't see much upside in it, at least until the "hardcare fans" understand, say, the value of OBP. Where's the tipping point, Will? Are we doomed to be Cassandra, at least in our water cooler conversations?

Jul 15, 2010 9:15 AM on Business Casual
 
Ken Funck
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Couldn't mention everyone, but yes, he's been Jon Garland, which has its uses. SIERA isn't bullish on him (4.57), but he's certainly earned his keep. Here's a more complete listing of the top FA WARP performers so far this year (not sure how it will format): Corner Infield Adrian Beltre $10M, 5.8 WARP Aubrey Huff $3M, 5.1 WARP Placido Polanco $6M, 3.0 WARP Russell Branyan $2M, 2.9 WARP Troy Glaus $1.75M, 1.2 WARP Middle Infield Alex Gonzalez $2.75M, 4.6 WARP Orlando Hudson $5.0M, 3.0 WARP Jamey Carroll $1.925M, 2.3 WARP Marco Scutaro $6.25M, 2.0 WARP Kelly Johnson $2.35M, 2.0 WARP Juan Uribe $3.25M, 1.7 WARP Corner Outfield Matt Holliday $17.14M, 4.8 WARP Jason Bay $16.5M, 2.9 WARP Austin Kearns $0.75M, 2.6 WARP Scotty Pods $1.75M, 2.2 WARP Eric Hinske $1.0M , 1.5 WARP Center Field Marlon Byrd $5.0M 2.9 WARP Coco Crisp $5.25M, 1.1 WARP Jim Edmonds $0.5M, 1.1 WARP Rick Ankiel $3.25M, -0.1 WARP Mike Cameron $7.75M, -0.4 WARP Catcher Miguel Olivo $2.5M, 4.8 WARP Jose Molina $0.4M, 2.7 WARP Ivan Rodriguez $3.0M, 2.4 WARP Henry Blanco $0.78M, 2.1 WARP John Buck $2.0M, 1.2 WARP DH Vlad Guerrero $5.0M, 2.9 WARP Jim Thome $1.5M, 2.2 WARP Johnny Damon $8.0M, 1.7 WARP Jack Cust $2.7M, 1.2 WARP Mike Sweeney $0.5M, 0.6 WARP Hideki Matsui $6.5M, 0.2 WARP Nick Johnson $5.58M, 0.0 WARP, 1 OWIE SP Livan Hernandez $0.9M, 3.5 WARP Carl Pavano $7.0M, 3.0 WARP Andy Pettitte $11.8M, 2.4 WARP Colby Lewis $2.5M, 2.4 WARP Joel Pineiro $8.0M, 2.2 WARP Randy Wolf $9.9M, 2.1 WARP Jon Garland $5.3M, 2.1 WARP Brett Myers $5.1M, 1.9 WARP John Lackey $16.5M, 1.1 WARP Brad Penny $7.5M, 0.8 WARP RP Billy Wagner $7.0M, 3.7 WARP Jose Valverde $7.0M, 3.2 WARP Rafael Soriano $7.3M, 2.8 WARP J.J. Putz $3.0M, 2.6 WARP Brandon Lyon $5.0M, 1.6 WARP Bruce Chen $0.5M, 1.4 WARP Jose Contreras $1.5M, 1.3 WARP Fernando Rodney $5.5M, 1.2 WARP Elmer Dessens $0.5M, 1.1 WARP Javier Lopez $0.8M, 0.9 WARP

Jul 08, 2010 9:05 AM on Free Agent Midterms
 
Ken Funck
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Not really. I just published the top 5 by position group by salary in case you wanted to see that, but I also realized there were other guys of note (good or bad) like Atkins, Kearns, and Colby Lewis that were worth mentioning but weren't in the list.

Jul 08, 2010 8:28 AM on Free Agent Midterms
 
Ken Funck
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You're correct that I'm dividing by 2xWARP to prorate for a full season, but there are two errors that I can see: Kelly Johnson $0.59 M (keying error) Gregg Zaun $1.19 M (coding error) For anyone with a WARP under 1, I just divided the salary by 1 -- I made a note of this in the first chart, but not in the later ones. I did this to avoid the klugy results that would occur if you divide salaries by a negative WARP, or by a WARP under 1.0 (i.e., if you have a $5M salary and earn 0.1 WARP, you'd get $50M dollars/WARP). The coding error for Zaun was that I should have divided the salary by 1 for players with a WARP under 0.5 (which prorates to 1 for a full season). Zaun's 0.9 WARP should have resulted in his salary being divided by 1.8, resulting in $1.19 M per win. Obviously these are cocktail napkin calculations meant for entertainment purposes only.

Jul 08, 2010 8:14 AM on Free Agent Midterms
 
Ken Funck
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Yep, 5 overturns from 5 different crews.

 
Ken Funck
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I guess what I was doing with that particular example was applying this maxim: never assume a fielding play will result in an out, however likely it may seem. Outs are the game's strongest currency, and I felt uncomfortable calling anyone out unless they are actually, in real life, put out. That's just me, though; like I said, those were just food for thought, and I'm certainly open to other, likely better, ideas. MLB, though, will need to give umpires fairly detailed guidelines, and take the time to explain why they've decided what they've decided, if they expand replay. Umps will need more direction than the "just leave it up to the crew chief" rule that currently is in play for HR replays.

Jul 01, 2010 12:40 PM on A Better Angle on Replay
 
Ken Funck
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Great points, doc. I guess I went with the "irrefutable visual evidence" standard because I'm not necessarily convinced that the replay official always has the best view. One example is the first base umpire hearing the ball hit the mitt, which may be better than seeing it on replay if it's really close. Even harder for me was seeing a 2-D image of a mitt in front of a runner's leg on a tag play and trying to discern when the tag actually occurred. You maybe can get a few different angles on that play, but putting them together to compare when the tag happened and when the player touched the bag is difficult. If the umpire's in position, he has a live 3-D view of the play, which may be better (albeit at high speed, which is why those are hard calls for umpires to make). Your other point, which 2White also touches on below, is very true: if the standard that needs to be met to overturn a call is very high, and umpires are constantly ruling close plays fair not foul because they're easier to overturn, that would be bad. So I guess those two things go hand-in-hand: a lower overturn standard is applied if umpires are instructed (or tend) to make calls based on how easy it is to overturn the call; a higher overturn standard is applied if umpires are instructed (or tend) to make calls as best they see them. I'd prefer the latter because I want umpires on the field to give their honest impression of the play since there might not be a better replay view, but I can see the value of the former in terms of simplifying how to set the game after an overrule.

Jul 01, 2010 11:55 AM on A Better Angle on Replay
 
Ken Funck
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Valid point. But I think if anything looking remotely questionable is reviewed (and that's the standard I followed), managers won't have as much to argue. They shouldn't ever have to come out and argue to get a replay -- there should be a replay on any play they might consider arguing, and a replay on others they might not consider arguing. IMHO, doing this won't take any more (or much more) time than a challenge system, and will get more plays right.

 
Ken Funck
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I expected to see more of those overturned as well, and perhaps a larger sample would show that result. The problem I found was that it's really difficult to know for sure exactly when the tag is applied, so only those plays where it was clear the tag was nowhere near the player when his foot or hand hit the bag wound up being overturned. There were several others where the tag -might- have been late, but I couldn't be sure when the tag was applied. Did I suspect those tags were late? Sure. Would I bet my life on it? No.

 
Ken Funck
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Personally, I agree with you. Also, I'd say the majority of reviews could be done in fifteen seconds -- think of the time it takes you to rewind a DVR and play something forward in slo-mo. These delays may occur at less-than-optimal times (say, reviewing a tag on a pick-off play, where you'll need to make the pitcher wait before throwing another pitch). But most occur at times when there is a natural pause in the game, i.e., immediately after a play is completed, so I think the actual time increase will be somewhat less.

 
Ken Funck
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Thanks, HSR. I don't necessarily disagree with you about relievers being used optimally (or at least reasonably well). The charts definitely show that in the late innnings, at least, scoring has gone down relative to the rest of the game. But that doesn't mean pitchers as a whole are being used optimally. Ideally, the middle innings should see less scoring than the early innings if you want to ensure more effective pitching in higher leverage situations. That's not the case, and the reason is probably because pitchers in the middle innings (starters who are going through the lineup a third time, and middle relievers) aren't as good as fresh starters at the beginning of the game or better relievers at the end of it. It's exactly that problem which SOMA tries to address, and I'd love to see teams experiment with different approaches to reduce scoring in the middle innings.

Jun 23, 2010 2:03 PM on Soft in the Middle
 
Ken Funck
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Great point--you've made me re-run the chart separating 9th from Extras, since what you're saying makes perfect sense. However, I'm as surprised as you to see that recently run scoring in Extras has actually been higher than in the 9th. Prior to the mid-80s, scoring in Extras was generally lower; since then, it's been generally higher. This is especially true lately, with only one year since 2000 seeing more runs per inning in extras than in the 9th. There are far more 9ths than extras, so it doesn't change the 9th line much. Your "walk-off" point is also well taken, though I suspect that might have as small an effect as extra innings do.

Jun 23, 2010 1:49 PM on Soft in the Middle
 
Ken Funck
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Sorry--I should have embedded a link there. SOMA is a proposed paired starter usage patterns (it stands for Shorter Outings, More Appearances). You can read about it here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=9228

Jun 23, 2010 10:28 AM on Soft in the Middle
 
Ken Funck
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Came in at #23 on the list. 2009 VORP: 6.6 2010 VORP: 9.7

May 18, 2010 5:04 PM on The Bounceback Team
 
Ken Funck
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He had (relatively) too good a season last year to qualify for the list -- his 2009 VORP was 8.9, while his 2010 VORP (thru Sunday) was 9.7. Already better, but not to the same degree as Wigginton and Johnson. Others that have earned more VORP this year than last include Geovany Soto, Rod Barajas, Nate Schierholtz, Chris Young, Edgar Renteria, Jason Varitek, Vernon Wells, Carlos Gomez, and Andruw Jones, and many more.

May 18, 2010 2:30 PM on The Bounceback Team
 
Ken Funck
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No worries, patrickc -- we always appreciate the feedback.

 
Ken Funck
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And it would probably be something both profane and insightful. My bad, and copious apologies.

 
Ken Funck
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You may be right, and leveraging his current effectiveness while it lasts has its merits. I'm just in the camp that doesn't expect it to last much longer (though I hope I'm wrong).

Apr 23, 2010 4:40 PM on A Town Called Panic
 
Ken Funck
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... and it's one that I've also heard others mention. Plausible, certainly, though I'm not sure what the message would be at this point. Another possibility I've heard expressed is that Piniella is tired of managing, but isn't tired of earning money, so he's deliberately trying to get himself fired. Doubtful, but interesting.

Apr 23, 2010 4:35 PM on A Town Called Panic
 
Ken Funck
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Might be a while until you get it -- I don't think it's on DVD yet, since it's still in theaters. Check their website to see if it's playing near you. Hope you enjoy it, and keep in mind what it says at the end of the review in The Onion AV Club: "Just know this: A Town Called Panic is the kind of movie in which you will see a horse in a Santa Claus suit, riding on a manta ray in order to dupe a race of wall-stealing fish people. Adjust expectations accordingly."

Apr 23, 2010 4:31 PM on A Town Called Panic
 
Ken Funck
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Actually, the guy that's replacing the sub-replacement reliever is Ted Lilly, right? With Lilly coming back, one of the sub-replacement relievers is going to be swapped out--and that will be good for the Cubs in aggregate. The question then becomes whether you want 180 more innings from Zambrano and 80 innings from Silva, or vice versa. If Zambrano's the better pitcher, you ought to want more innings from Zambrano--if not, you're giving back some of what you gain from getting Lilly back in the first place.

Apr 23, 2010 2:25 PM on A Town Called Panic
 
Ken Funck
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For my part, I picked who I thought would win it, not who necessarily deserved it. F'rinstance, I picked Teixeira for MVP since I expect him to have the most RBIs on the winningest team in the AL -- a recipe that had writers trying to make a case for him last year, and if Mauer hadn't been so ridiculously good and the Twins hadn't made a late run he probably would have won. My "deserves it" pick this year would be Evan Longoria.

Apr 06, 2010 8:42 AM on Staff Picks for 2010
 
Ken Funck
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I tell my kids that all the time but they absolutely refuse to believe me, even after I let them play with the lead mini Nashorns and T-34/85s that I bought with paper route money as a kid. I'm guessing that branching into a conversation here about sim gaming or RPGs is bound to further undermine Eric's "coolest people on the web" statement;)

Jan 08, 2010 3:32 PM on Ken Cloude
 
Ken Funck
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Mario Kart on the Wii is pretty much the only video game I ever play. I'm not particularly good, but my 11-year-old daughter is a savant. The last (and only) video game at which I was ever truly above replacement level was the original Star Wars arcade game. Yes, I'm ancient.

Jan 08, 2010 9:29 AM on Ken Cloude
 
Ken Funck
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If there's a 'let's zing the new guys' vibe in the comments I get, I have to say I haven't really noticed it. A little chin music makes the game more interesting, after all, and I think the vets and rookies both get their fair share of high-and-tight comments--almost all of which are fair. Knowing that our readers are going to point out flaws in our arguments, or the way we construct our pieces, or our striking physical resemblance to Rick Sutcliffe, makes us better at what we do, and if we can't stand a little criticism we shouldn't be posting our thoughts in the first place.

 
Ken Funck
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I'd classify the Cubs' collection of minor league pitching as Not Ready For Prime Time Players. Guys like Cashner, Carpenter and Jackson might have bright futures, but they need some more time in the oven, and the options they have at Iowa (guys like Atkins and Mathes) aren't likely to be better than Silva. But I'd still rather see Marshall, Gorzelanny, or even (gulp!) Samardzija in the rotation than Silva. I hope I'm wrong, and as a Cubs fan I'll gladly take any production we can get from him, but I'm not holding my breath in anticipation of a Silva lining.

 
Ken Funck
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I don't very much agree with some of your broad generalizations, saigonsam. However, as someone who enjoys nothing more than the skewering of all hypocrisy, regardless of the political stripes it happens to be wearing, I have to admit that Jon Stewart's five-minute deconstruction of Gretchen Carlson was probably the funniest thing I've seen all year. --Just because you are on the couch with Jack Tripper and Janet doesn't mean you have to pretend to be Chrissy-- has become a catchphrase at my house.

Dec 23, 2009 8:25 AM on Saturday Night
 
Ken Funck
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True. And Marvin Miller was aware of that and worked to avoid it: "The owners wanted as few players as possible to become free agents. I wasn't entirely opposed to this; I didn't want as many free-agent players as to flood the market . . . What would likely produce the optimal mix of supply and demand? With no history of free agent movement to study, it was impossible to know which requirement would be best . . . My gut feeling -- and I stress 'feeling' -- was that five years would be better, and if the choice lay between four and six years, I would choose the latter. The owners' committee proposed six years; I suggested five."

 
Ken Funck
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DT has Wolf with -15 PRAA for his 120 inning stint in San Diego, although his xFIP isn't too bad there (4.24).

 
Ken Funck
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Of course you might very well be right, Brian. I didn’t use PECOTA (which I believe is still 2009 projections on the site), I just used their actual 2009 DTs, which have Gomez at Rate2 of 117 (i.e., 17 runs above average per 100 games) and Escobar at Rate2 of 98. I think that’s high for Gomez and low for Escobar, so I just left that as a wash in aggregate. James projects Escobar at .288/.326/.377 with a .319 wOBA – it wouldn’t shock me if Oliver’s more pessimistic view is right, but I’d bet the over. Gomez, I’m less sanguine about. What does Oliver have Wolf/Hawkins saving vs. Looper/DiFelice? Do they make up those 58 runs?

 
Ken Funck
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"Who's Ken Jennings? ;)" would probably have been a better response -- the emoticon helps convey good-natured snark better than mere text can.

Nov 26, 2009 3:57 PM on To Hit the Jackpot
 
Ken Funck
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Who's Ken Jennings?

Nov 26, 2009 6:37 AM on To Hit the Jackpot
 
Ken Funck
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It was TLR with the A's in 1993. He said he was going to place his pitchers (both starters and relievers) into three groups of three, and have them each pitch three innings every third game. What he did wasn't quite exactly that, but in any case after a week he pulled the plug, saying: "We got some information. I think it’s got some value, but I’m very uncomfortable knowing the starting pitcher is going out there without a chance to win. I don’t think that’s real healthy." It's not exactly SOMA, but it's the last time I'm aware of that a major league team did something even remotely like it.

 
Ken Funck
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Teams with better offenses are more likely to knock pitchers out earlier, so the ones that survive for a third pass against the Yankees may be at least marginally better than the ones that face the Royals a third time. Then again, the Yankees possibly face more quality starters than the Royals. Not sure what the net effect would be. One interesting data point I didn't touch on: look at the Yankees' numbers against relievers. They did significantly better against relievers than they did against starters the first time through. That's uncommon -- the league totals and the Phillies totals, where the relievers are similar to first time through starters, are the norm. I'm guessing the Yankees saw more than their fair share of long-relief/mop-up guys after getting out to large leads.

 
Ken Funck
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I did something along those lines (not by pitcher quality per se, but limited to pitchers with more starts -- assuming that better pitchers will stay in the rotation) in the comments section of the original article: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=9228 If I can find the time in the next day or so, maybe I'll do a run filtering on some other starter quality metric.

 
Ken Funck
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Hard for me to picture you as grouchy, Richard. But trust me, I'm familiar with the sight of Pujols singlehandedly dismantling your favorite team. I've written that Mauer is the most valuable asset in the AL -- and I think that's true. All of MLB, though? I'm not sure. If I was certain that Mauer had been immersed, Achilles-like, in the River Fisk -- and would thus be able to stay behind the plate and stay productive throughout a long career -- I might go with Mauer. But even though Pujols is three years older, he may be a better bet to keep his value longer. But if Hanley were a plus defender, I think he'd be more valuable than either of them.

Oct 13, 2009 6:49 PM on Minnesota Twins
 
Ken Funck
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I guess that's why the teaser says "arguably".

Oct 13, 2009 3:25 PM on Minnesota Twins
 
Ken Funck
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I would think so. I would expect some regression to the mean for Mauer (from otherworldly to merely outstanding) and Kubel to overcome -- but the bottom of the Twins lineup was so bad that even replacement level production would be a small improvement. Average production would be a huge gain.

Oct 13, 2009 1:50 PM on Minnesota Twins
 
Ken Funck
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I'm totally with you. If MLB doesn't want collisions, then change the rules. Chalk a 3x3 area around second base where a fielder with the ball can initiate a forceout. Or make all plays at the plate a force play -- I've actually played in softball leagues that do that. That's what the NFL does -- you may agree or disagree with the Cindy Brady rules protecting QBs, but at least the league went out and made it an actual rule. But until MLB changes the rules, they ought to be enforced, else why do they exist?

Oct 07, 2009 7:34 PM on July 15-21, 2002
 
Ken Funck
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Thanks for the good comments, Drew.

 
Ken Funck
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Sorry for the delay in responding -- haven't been near a computer in a few days. You didn't misunderstand, I don't think -- the first chart pretty clearly shows that pitchers don't seem able (in aggregate, and for this time period) to get significantly more groundballs in DP situations. Their GB% actually goes down slightly, while their GB/PA rate goes up only slightly, due to reductions in both walks and Ks. Furthermore, when you assign RE changes to those three outcomes, pitchers don't gain any advantage from all this. A few individual pitchers seem able to incrase GB rates a little without sacrificing Ks -- but those are the exceptions, not the rules.

 
Ken Funck
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Interesting idea. Although GBs are better in DP situations than non-DP situations, they may or may not be better than Ks in DP situations -- a K is always an out, while a GB could wind up with one out, two outs, a single, a double, a triple, etc. The data I was working with isn't currently sliced that thin (I don't have the pre-PA and post-PA base/out states, f'rinstance) -- but I'll take a look at this. Good suggestion.

Sep 11, 2009 3:34 PM on Situational Pitching
 
Ken Funck
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I can do that -- I have the data. I'll touch on that next week.

Sep 11, 2009 3:26 PM on Situational Pitching
 
Ken Funck
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Good question. I split the numbers three ways: DP (any time there's a runner on first and fewer than two out); else R3 (any time there's a runner third, not a runner on first, and less than two outs); and OTHER (any time there's 2 outs, or bases or empty, or there's only a man on second). In R3, which only happens in 2.6% of plate appearances, you would definitely expect situational pitching; in OTHER (78.4% of plate appearances), any kind of out will do (with the tiny caveat that batters may be trying to hit to the right side to move a man on second over). The charts I ran compare DP to the sum of R3 and OTHER, and shows GB/PA +3.25. Comparing DP to OTHER (which I think controls for the effects you're describing) also shows GB/PA +3.25. The number hardly changes, primarily because R3 doesn't happen that often.

Sep 11, 2009 6:07 AM on Situational Pitching
 
Ken Funck
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Very true -- I didn't control for that, and I should have (or at least run separate lists for AL and NL). I'll fix that for the next article. The other (primarily) AL pitchers who score +5 or more are Jon Garland, Kevin Millwood, Tim Wakefield, Carlos Silva and Gavin Floyd.

Sep 11, 2009 5:49 AM on Situational Pitching
 
Ken Funck
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In aggregate, the deltas are pretty stable from season to season -- the first chart, if I broke it down by season, would show increases in GB/PA in each year of the sample between +3.1 and +3.5. I didn't look at variation by pitcher between seasons of the sample because each season by itself is a pretty small sample -- but I would suspect it would vary more, of course. I agree that the individual rankings, based on much smaller sample sizes, aren't as compelling -- they're more for fun (though the numbers for Suppan and Bannister really interested me). But the aggregates (GB/PA and GB% going up in total, and going up at least some for most pitchers) seemed compelling.

Sep 11, 2009 5:44 AM on Situational Pitching
 
Ken Funck
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You're right -- saying "fair" was incorrect, and I said it to stress that I was including home runs. Is there a standard industry shorhand term for "ball that is put in play and is either fair or caught for an out in foul territory?" Balls In Play generally doesn't include home runs. I guess just saying "contact" would be preferred, but I never feel comfortable with that either because you definitely make "contact" when you hit a 400-foot foul ball, but that wouldn't be counted here. I'm open to any suggestions. "Fair Or Playable Contact"?

Sep 04, 2009 8:52 AM on No Contact Allowed
 
Ken Funck
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I like Steve Stone as an analyst. Last year he did the Sox radio call with Ed Farmer, and that was a great pairing -- very insightful, and I'm a sucker for Farmio's almost disinterested monotone play-by-play call. So it was especially disappointing to see Stone move back to TV and Darrin Jackson move to the radio side -- Hawk makes the TV broadcast hard for me to watch, and with Stone gone the radio side suffers.

Sep 04, 2009 8:43 AM on No Contact Allowed
 
Ken Funck
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Excellent! Interesting that Cabrera's chance of winning SLG comes out higher than Ichiro's chance of AVG. But his current power surge has seen him make up 30 points of SLG since the end of Sunday.

 
Ken Funck
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I used to work with a guy from Pittsburgh who was consulting here in Wisconsin, and we had never heard of the whole "yinz" thing here. Our conversations with him caused him to start his own business: Yappin' Yinzers (http://www.yappinyinzers.com/about.html). So ... I'm voting for "yinz". Trust me, though, I'm not judgmental of anyone's accent, since 'round these parts we fall prey to those Fargo-esque long vowel sounds ands yaaah's.

 
Ken Funck
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Absolutely, although even without trying to account for the correlation using the numbers above there's already a 95.5% chance of Mauer winning the SSTC if he wins the batting title. I don't want to support any false precision here -- that 62% number can be best translated as "a really good chance."

 
Ken Funck
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I think you're understanding it properly, and I agree it's not going to be extremely accurate -- as Eric explained in his article, this is going to give a "ballpark figure" at best. My short-cut way to address the "meeting in the middle" issue a little bit was to calculate the chances of Mauer sinking below Ichiro's current batting average of .359 instead of PECOTA's end projection of .349 (and the same for SLG and OBP).

 
Ken Funck
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You're right -- individuals that want other options can find them. They seek them out because they want more information than FOX (as an example) gives them -- and they do that because they're AWARE that there's more information to be had. But what about people that aren't? Watching the Saturday Game of the Week wouldn't do anything but confirm what they already think they know: a .300 hitter is a good hitter, even if he draws no walks and hits only singles; a pitcher with 9 wins at the All Star Break is having a great year, even if he has a 4.90 ERA and pitches in a low offense park; etc. Wouldn't it be nice if broadcasters didn't, whether accidentally or on purpose, perpetuate those sort of beliefs? I'm not saying FOX is wrong for doing what they do. I'm just saying, selfishly, that it's a missed opportunity to allow casual viewers to learn just a little more.

 
Ken Funck
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Thought about doing it that way, but it just wouldn't read very smoothly. Here's what I asked him, if that'll help you sort it through: I asked him to describe his broadcast philosophy, explain the process used to decide what stats are shown, asked about OBP specifically, whether the stats shown differ for different announces, whether he thought general audiences were more becoming more receptive to stats, and whether he agreed that better knowledge of stats lead to more devoted fans. Other than that, I just asked him to clarify a few things and repeated a few things back to him to make sure I understood his points. He was a good interview in that he volunteered a lot of information, and I didn't have to prompt him much.

 
Ken Funck
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And it sounds like FOX is fine with that. Which, to me, is unfortunate -- but it's their broadcast.

 
Ken Funck
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Now that I've been watching a little more closely, it seems to me that you see less of those sort of small or meaningless sample size things on FOX than I would have expected. While they're not showing me much that's useful, they're also not showing me much that's useless. So to be fair, "Less Is More" accomplishes that, at least.

 
Ken Funck
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But now I see where you got that from, Brian. The .346 OBP in the lineup chart is the cumulate OBP for the #8 spot in the Twins lineup this year, -not- the OBP for Gomez this year. Sorry if that was confusing.

Aug 10, 2009 8:38 PM on Twin City Triplets
 
Ken Funck
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Would you believe I was referring to 1963, when Weaver was Blefary's manager with the Elmira Pioneers? Me neither. Sorry about that.

Aug 10, 2009 7:26 PM on Twin City Triplets
 
Ken Funck
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Hopefully this will line up in a way you can read: Team Top 3 Avg. Team Total 2009 Twins 160.0 107 1995 Indians 160.3 116 1990 Athletics 163.0 107 1971 Orioles 151.7 112 1966 Orioles 165.7 111 1964 Twins 155.3 106 1963 Giants 167.0 110 1960 Yankees 155.7 109 1959 Tigers 142.3 97 1956 Braves 148.7 104 1953 Dodgers 156.0 115 1952 Indians 154.0 112 1949 Red Sox 152.7 106 1948 Indians 147.7 112 1947 Yankees 141.3 111 1946 Cardinals 151.3 99

Aug 10, 2009 7:12 PM on Twin City Triplets
 
Ken Funck
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Gomez has an OBP of .295, doesn't he? And his OBP is about the same (sub-.300) against both righties and lefties, so he's not much of an offensive asset either way.

Aug 10, 2009 7:04 PM on Twin City Triplets
 
Ken Funck
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The stats are splits for that particular spot in the batting order (as of Saturday, I think), not for the individual that currently (or frequently) bats there. So the stats for #2 are the cumulative stats for everyone that batted second this year, on the days they batted second, -not- the stats for Orlando Cabrera. They're raw stats, not translated. I just put names in those spots so readers can see what the current lineup often looks like. Hope that's more clear.

Aug 10, 2009 6:53 PM on Twin City Triplets
 
Ken Funck
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Well said. Just looking at (and doing very cursory analysis of) the pitchers on this list certainly points to them being random outliers. If there's a discernable pattern to the players that are continually over- or under- projected (i.e., many of them exhibit this certain characteristic), AND very few other players that PECOTA didn't miss on exhibit the same characteristic, that might point to a correctable flaw -- but that's not what this cursory analysis has shown, or even hinted at.

Aug 05, 2009 2:04 PM on PECOTAs Wild Pitches
 
Ken Funck
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Point taken, Evan. If I do any more follow-ups to earlier articles I'll try to use different verbage to refer back to them. Perhaps a "referential text randomizer" would do the trick, containing a menu of other constructs like "It was the best of posts, it was the worst of posts ..." or "A long time ago, in an article far, far away ...." ;) But since it's been 13 days since the first article, personally I think "several weeks ago" is reasonably accurate (albeit one day short), though admittedly not particularly inspired.

Aug 05, 2009 1:53 PM on PECOTAs Wild Pitches
 
Ken Funck
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Good point about sample size. One encouraging thing I noticed this year, though I may be remembering this incorrectly -- at the beginning of the season the regular batter cards often show last year's stats, and they seemed to show those longer this year (maybe a week or two) before switching to this year's numbers. Hard to imagine something less informative than a .200/1/2 line under someone's name five games into the season

Jul 29, 2009 5:42 AM on A Fox Screen Test
 
Ken Funck
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Good God, no. If there's going to be a word based on one of the BP Idol writers, it's got to be Swartzonomics.

Jul 29, 2009 5:31 AM on A Fox Screen Test
 
Ken Funck
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Oh, I dunno. Triple-slash stats seem reasonably meaningful on their own -- casual fans can think of OBP as how many times a guy doesn't make an out, and SLG as how many bases they get per at bat. There are thresholds for them as well -- we all know what a .300 batting average is, just like a .400 OBP or a .500 SLG. Just getting rate stats (other than batting average) to become a standard part of water cooler conversations would be a big step forward.

Jul 28, 2009 5:15 PM on A Fox Screen Test
 
Ken Funck
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Motion seconded -- so long as someone can give me a better term to use. Sabermetric has positive connotations for some, and negative for others. Maybe -advanced- or -improved-?

Jul 28, 2009 5:04 PM on A Fox Screen Test
 
Ken Funck
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More like time restrictions than word count restrictions, actually. This article obviously just skims the surface. But the response here definitely makes me want to dig much deeper into this and come up with more detailed data and hopefully more nuanced answers. In addition to working on something that will come out each week, I now have the luxury to spend more time on a topic that might take weeks of work and know that there's a good chance the results will see the light of day -- during BP Idol, that wasn't necessarily the case.

Jul 24, 2009 10:25 AM on PECOTA's Strikeouts
 
Ken Funck
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But it's definitely a construction I'll try to avoid in future.

Jul 24, 2009 6:25 AM on PECOTA's Strikeouts
 
Ken Funck
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Unlike JP, PECOTA was pessimistic -- Wells and Rios each outperformed their projections in 2 of the 3 years.

Jul 23, 2009 8:21 PM on PECOTA's Strikeouts
 
Ken Funck
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Chris B. (Crispy?) Young didn't get enough PAs in 2006 to make it into the sample. But he's definitely an Over: Year Actual/PECOTA 2006 .236/.275 2007 .252/.291 2008 .254/.283 2009 .235/.277

Jul 23, 2009 5:49 PM on PECOTA's Strikeouts
 
Ken Funck
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Good catch -- you're exactly right. If I lower the threshold for the 2006 sample, the "underestimations" go down and the "overestimations" go up: Min 100 PAs Overs: 35% Unders: 39% Min 50 PAs: Overs: 37% Unders: 38% So when the sampling bias is removed, the unders and overs become much more similar. I hope to be able to dig into all this further in a later article -- the comments in this thread have some terrific suggestions.

Jul 23, 2009 5:35 PM on PECOTA's Strikeouts
 
Ken Funck
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It's the latter -- the sample contains all hitters who managed to get 300+ actual plate appearances, and compares them to their PECOTA projections. You make a good point -- if a hitter puts up truly awful numbers he'll have a harder time staying in the lineup long enough to get 300 PAs. Given this, it's reasonable to think that if I lowered the threshold to, say, 50 PAs the percentage of total projections in a given year that are "under" by 10 points might go down. But you'd also then be allowing in other SSS outliers which may skew things either up or down -- that's the noise I was trying to keep out of the sample. I'll try to find the time to re-run this with a lower threshold to see the effect, and post the results here.

Jul 23, 2009 1:52 PM on PECOTA's Strikeouts
 
Ken Funck
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All very valid points, and good ideas for more in-depth analysis rather than the "quick and dirty" methodology used for the article. Although I don't think I'd necessarily want to toss out players with a low sim score -- in a deeper study I'd be interested in seeing whether it turns out to be true that high sim scores correlate strongly with more accurate projections. Many of the players listed in the article have average or higher sim scores, yet seem to have been tough for PECOTA to accurately assess over time.

Jul 23, 2009 11:37 AM on PECOTA's Strikeouts
 
Ken Funck
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I just ran numbers for hitters at first -- EQA is a very round number to compare -- but plan to look at pitchers as well soon.

Jul 23, 2009 11:30 AM on PECOTA's Strikeouts
 
Ken Funck
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Mountainhawk, I appreciate both the compliment and your honest opinion -- and I totally understand why someone might prefer the exceptional work that Brian and Tim have done. I knew going into this that my writing style would appeal to some and not others, and I'll continue to work on finding a tone that contains the humor and asides that I enjoy adding in, and others have appreciated, without detracting from the analysis I'm trying to do or the story I'm trying to tell.

 
Ken Funck
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Comment rating: 15

Wow. What can I say? I'm humbled by the trust that so many of you have placed in me by voting me this honor, and I hope I'm able to live up to your expectations. Especially amazing to me is that I've been chosen while in the company of such other terrific writer/analysts, and I'd like to join the cacophony saying that Tim, Brian, Matt, etc., all deserve the oppoturnity to continue to share their talent and insight on these pages. Had I not won this week's vote, my disappointment would have been significantly tempered by the knowledge that I would still be able to read Tim or Brian here each week. Thanks of course to BP for running the contest, to the judges for their support and frank commentary, and most especially to the readers who have taken this competition so seriously throughout -- I hope you've enjoyed the additional content we've beeen given the opportunity to provide. And to those that have taken the time to comment on our work, especially those who were willing to share kind words of support, I'm eternally grateful.

 
Ken Funck
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The above meant as a response to dcarroll's comment -- wow, am I ever having trouble clicking the right button this week!

 
Ken Funck
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Thanks. One thing I've been trying to improve on during the contest (based on feedback from both the judges and readers, which doesn't always agree) isn't so much "toning things down" in general, but rather pitching the tone to better match the content. This topic is a fairly serious one which I also personally find very interesting, so I didn't want too much "flavor" in the writing to overwhelm or obscure the analysis -- the topic should hopefully be fascinating enough to hold the reader's interest. For other stuff, like in the blog post, a lighter or more irreverent tone seems more fitting -- so depending on the topic and goal, I'm trying to aim the tone appropriately. Sometimes it's appropriate to wear a suit and tie -- but I would still always want my tie to be unique and interesting.

 
Ken Funck
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Yeah, I think that's exactly it. I don't think they're deliberately trying to misinform -- in fact, I'd guess in most cases they think the sorts of SSS splits they're sharing are beneficial and informative, without really knowing any better. It's great that you have their ear. I'm sure they'd like to do better, but don't really know what *better* is. I'd love to hear what BP readers would like to see on the screen when they're wathching a game -- what stats should display when the batter is at the plate, what to show when a pitcher enters, what sort of constant information could be shown in a box somewhere along with the inning, score, outs, ball-strike, and runners on base display.

 
Ken Funck
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Interesting (and not surprising, I guess) to hear that -- thanks for the insight. National broadcasts (ESPN, MLB, Fox) shouldn't have the same "homer" issues -- and should have greater resources behind them, so they could be doing more clever stuff.

 
Ken Funck
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Meant to type Tango/Dolphin/MGL.

 
Ken Funck
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In "The Book", Tango/Lichtman/MGL show that better pitchers on average are still around for the 4th time through the order. I'd guess this is because (a) better pitchers allow fewer baserunners and face fewer batters per inning, thus in the age of the pitch count they're more likely on average to go deeper into the game before hitting their limit; and (b) managers are likely to have a quicker hook on the #4 starter than the ace.

 
Ken Funck
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All good points -- especially mentioning the Rays. Joe Sheehan has already talked about the idea of TB pairing up a few of its starters that have been inefficient and not working deep into games: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=9083 I'd love to hear how your sim works out. In my Strat league, pitchers are limited to throwing 110% of the actual innings they pitched in MLB that season. Owners work hard to make sure that the best cards are used in the highest leverage situation. I love it when good pitchers with lots of innings are rated as both starters and relievers -- the more games I can use them in, the better. It always feels like an inefficiency to have a dominant starter continue pitching after the 4th or 5th inning, say, if you already have a 7-1 lead -- you want to save those precious IPs for when you really need them. Players aren't Strat cards, so the big question for me is whether pitchers could adapt to such a usage pattern. But my sense is that SOMA would help put your best pitchers in higher leverage situations more frequently.

 
Ken Funck
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The theory is that the first starter would be replaced by a "second starter", not another reliever, and that starters would pitch fewer innings per game but pitch in many more games -- so they'd still accumulate 200+ innings, just spread out over more (up to maybe 60) games. You'd still get the same amount of Roy Halladay, but instead of 6-8 innings every fifth day you'd get 3-4 innings every third day.

 
Ken Funck
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Ken, Tim and Brian C. are indeed the three finalists. We each had to submit both a full-length article and a blog post, which were published today (Monday). Voting on them is going on right now, lasting until (I think) 11 p.m. ET Wednesday, after which a single winner will be crowned.

 
Ken Funck
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Ooops -- meant this as a reply to Dr. Dave's comment.

 
Ken Funck
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Comment rating: -1

True, mixing full starters with tandem starters in the same rotation would be tricky. Trying to develop pitchers both ways would be tricky. And as you correctly point out, some (but definitely the minority of) starters actually pitch better later in their outings. Right now we can only guess which players (in the majors or the minors) would thrive under SOMA since no one really does it. If teams adopted SOMA, and all pitchers were trained that way, we'd never know which ones actually would get stronger later in the game. That's the downside of any one-size-fits-all approach -- but trying to use both at the same time would be hard. So if (and that's the big if) pitchers could adapt to the SOMA schedule, I would think adopting it for everyone would make sense -- because the number of pitchers whose numbers would improve is likely to outnumber those whose numbers would regress.

 
Ken Funck
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A total of 52 pitchers started 80+ games during those three years -- a total of 4,883 starts producing 129,734 PAs. Here’s their wOBA during each pass through the lineup: Pass 1: .318 Pass 2: .322 Pass 3: .341 Pass 4: .339 Pass 5: .525 29 starters had their wOBA worsen by 20 points or more; 39 saw it worsen by 5 points or more. Conversely, 3 had their wOBA improve by 10 or more. Compared to the 40+ start cohort, the 80+ start guys were much better the second time through, but only a little better the third time through.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 19

Mithrophon -- I totally get your point, and for my part I don't feel slighted. All you're saying, I think, is that it's a shame anyone (and especially, in this case, Matt) would be voted off at this point based on one radio interview as opposed to six weeks of very good writing. And that's certainly a fair point.

Jul 08, 2009 8:45 AM on How Good Is It?
 
Ken Funck
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Hard for me to fault Mike at all -- he did a great job, I thought, and as I think Matt S. mentioned in his comment thread it was impressive (and somewhat flattering) how much Mike researched our writing in the competition so far. As for pre-interview sessions: I can't speak for all the contestants, but I believe we all received the same prep, which was a brief e-mail from Mike defining a few of the things he wanted to talk about. In my case: "Let's talk about Brandon Inge: All-Star, and the Tigers a bit since you've done some work on that. And maybe a bit on TGF...found that interesting & quirky." The other contestants likely received similar prep -- and it was explained to us that this is the standard prep BP authors receive. I know there's been a lot of discussion about whether this was a valid "topic" for this week of the competition -- but for my part, having never done anything quite like this before, I know I learned a lot from it and was glad for the experience.

 
Ken Funck
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Great stuff, and I hope you find the blog format liberating -- letting you drill really deep when you find it useful to do so (as with A-Ram here), but not a necessary requirement in every post.

Jul 07, 2009 11:04 AM on Wrigley Resolution
 
Ken Funck
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Point taken. But the interview took place last Tuesday. At that point Porcello hadn't yet gotten shelled on July 5th -- his numbers before that start were 3.90 ERA, 1.42 WHIP. He had just been hit hard the night before at a late game in Oakland, so before that start (about 18 hours before I talked to Mike Ferrin) Porcello had been sitting at a 3.55 ERA with a 1.36 WHIP. He's not striking out a lot of guys, but since he's an extreme groundball pitcher (leading all AL pitchers with 60+ IP with a 1.39 G/F ratio, even after his two bad starts) I'm not as worried about that as I might otherwise be. He did the same thing last year -- leading the Hi-A FSL in ERA as a 19-year-old with a comparitively low K-rate for a prospect. And ... he's doing all this as a 20-year-old pitching in the AL. There are definitely things in the interview I wish I had said better or differently, but calling Rick Porcello a "revelation" isn't one of them.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 5

Pretty serious stuff in the various comment threads this week -- the relative importance of media presence, how to weigh the value of six weeks of writing vs. one radio interview, the possibility of transcription bias and the difference in how an interview reads vs. sounds -- all within the context of the increasingly difficult task of having to vote someone off. Sounds to me like we need a pointless little metric to help lighten things up somewhat. So here are the values for WIPS (Words in Interview Per Second) for each of the four interviews, calculated by dividing the total number of words in the transcription (both the contestant and Mike, including labels) by the interview length in seconds. The results: Tim: 2,019 words/637 seconds = 3.17 WIPS Brian: 2,179 words/684 seconds = 3.19 WIPS Matt: 2,477 words/730 seconds = 3.39 WIPS Ken: 2,199 words/600 seconds = 3.67 WIPS Beware the small sample size, since this is based on only one plate appearance, but it looks to me like the "sometimes talks too fast" scouting report on Ken Funck is supported by the numbers. -- he'll have to learn to shorten his swing.

 
Ken Funck
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Comment rating: 0

Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. There's several weeks of voting left, so there's a good chance you may be asked to "give up the Funck."

Jul 01, 2009 3:14 PM on The Doldrums
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 2

As much as I'd like to say it's pronounced "throat-warbler mangrove", it's actually pronounced the way you would expect -- just like a George Clinton fan would say it. There are multiple different spellings of the name -- I like to think the 'C' makes it more Prussian since the most paternal part of my ancestry was from Danzig, but that's probably wishful thinking on the part of my internal grognard.

Jun 30, 2009 12:36 PM on The Doldrums
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: -1

Very good point. Leyland didn't request a review -- which is inexcusable on his part as well, especially when you consider managers frequently argue other plays (like out calls at first base) where there is absolutely no chance of the play being reversed. But that doesn't excuse the umps from taking another look. It's their job to review any questionable boundary home run call, and even watching it live full-speed it sure looked questionable to me. It was a hot day in Detroit -- maybe everyone was in a hurry to get out of the sun.

Jun 29, 2009 11:53 AM on The Doldrums
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 1

Sorry to disappoint ... I did an MST3K link last week (Petey Plane), and didn't want to go to that well too often. But once again you've managed to add something in the comments that I thought about, but didn't, put in the article itself. You guys rule! (Well, okay, Torgo rules, but you're pretty good too.)

Jun 28, 2009 7:24 PM on The Doldrums
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 1

Thanks for dropping in an "albatross" reference! After putting in the Coleridge link, it took a lot of uncharacteristic self-restraint not to use that particular metaphor for fear of pushing it too far (especially in the Soriano section). Now that it's shown up in the comments, I feel much better.

Jun 28, 2009 3:30 PM on The Doldrums
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 1

Wow, that's a classic. And talk about an odd forced perspective -- who photoshopped Manute Bol's legs onto David Hasselhoff's torso?

Jun 28, 2009 1:51 PM on The Doldrums
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 2

Probably more a case of being a Cubs fan (which I am), but trying too hard not to sound like one.

Jun 28, 2009 1:30 PM on The Doldrums
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 0

Unless the link deposited you in Ipswitch.

Jun 28, 2009 1:28 PM on The Doldrums
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 1

Absolutely. The conceit was that if I went back in time to some other decade in the 20th century, which players might appeal to me on a visceral level? Breaking out by decade ensured that I gave a broad scope of time. Also, I wanted to use "raw" stats (fans watching a ballgame experience things that way) and didn't really want to try and translate them between eras, but being aware of the great disparity of run-scoring environments over time I thought breaking them down into decades would at least ensure there was some sort of appropriate temporal comparison -- e.g., note that no one in the Top 8 Career LBM list played a whole bunch in the 60s and 70s.

 
Ken Funck
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Thanks -- I wasn't intending to apologize, just to acknowledge.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Thanks for the kinds words. I totally agree that Wynn epitomizes the criteria you and I had in our heads. Glad it worked for you -- though I understand the point that perhaps I didn't explain the LBM criteria as well as I could have. Penguin was listed at 5'10". Wishful thinking, maybe, but I had to go with what's listed.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Thanks Dr. Dave. It's clear to me I didn't do a very good job of explaining exactly what you point out about guys like Ott and Wynn -- they drew lots of walks, but their power helped them to draw walks, as pitchers were often more careful with them. They possessed the necessary patience to lay off bad pitches and take walks, but unlike someone like, say, Chone Figgins, their primary goal at the plate was to wait for a good pitch and hit it a long, long way.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 1

Not sure how this will get formatted, but here goes: Minimum 500 career games (thru 2008): Hack Wilson .307/.395/.545 .150 Roy Campanella .276/.360/.500 .140 Ivan Rodriguez .301/.339/.475 .136 Yogi Berra .285/.348/.482 .134 Ripper Collins .296/.360/.492 .132 Matt Stairs .266/.358/.483 .125 Mel Ott .304/.414/.533 .119 Kirby Puckett .304/.360/.477 .117 Lower the threshold to 1000 ABs, and you get Hack Miller (.129) and Darryl Motley (.122).

 
Ken Funck
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Appreciate it, Tim. But (a) how wicked cool can something be that's most frequently associated with 19th century robber barons and/or Werner Klemperer?; and (b) monacles have a single lens for a single eye -- are you suggesting that my analysis lacks depth? ;)

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 1

Similarly, Will gave me some advice about how best to contact the Tigers, and offered more help if I ran into a roadblock. Our instructions last week contained a phrase that made it clear the judges were willing to answer questions and provide reasonable help as needed. Major props to the judges for following through on that.

Jun 15, 2009 10:00 AM on Andrew McCutchen
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 2

Thanks Tim! It was driving me crazy, and of course there it was hiding in plane site ;)

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 0

Thanks Dr. Dave. Guess I'm just not seeing the typo in the first paragraph, and it bugs me that I'm not ... can you share? I know about the "so of obviously" typo near the end ...

 
Ken Funck
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Rule of thumb has generally been, I think, 10% HR/FB%. For all of baseball (including pitchers), quick queries from BP's custom reports gives me this: 2009: 9.9% 2008: 10.0% 2007: 10.0% 2006: 10.8% 2005: 10.1% (2004 data from query looks funny to me -- it's showing 13.9%, but the totals for FB, PO, and calculated percentages look quite low, so I think there's a data glitch).

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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I guess that depends on how you want to define "luck". I wouldn't consider Inge's 21.0% HR/FB "luck" so much as it's a small sample size outlier, and inconsistent with his past performance. For his career he's at 10.6%. Since 2004 (when he started his move out from behind the plate -- we'll ignore most of his crummy stats as a catcher), he's put up these seasonal rates through 2008: 9.9%, 7.9%, 14.3%, 9.5%, 9.2% -- reasonably consistent. His current rate of 21% is way out of line with that -- one could say more than three standard deviations, so pretty unlikely to continue. So it's not so much luck as the much greater weight we should place on Inge's previous 3500+ career plate appearances than this year's 250 or so. I'd love to see him keep it up -- he's the type of player I like to root for -- but it's not something I'd bet on.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 2

Just wanted to thank everyone for the comments this week -- insightful as always. I agree that the structure of this article was not ideal -- I struggled with how to put CJ's "voice" in the piece (he had a lot of interesting things to say, and a great way of saying it, so I really wanted some of his direct quotes), and it seems breaking out the quotes the way I did was a little awkward. Good lessons I'll try to learn from.

Jun 09, 2009 2:10 PM on The CJ Translations
 
Ken Funck
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The Mallards have marketed themselves better, for one. They've made Warner Park (the Duck Pond) a destination (as Braden23 notes above, the Duck Blind party area is very popular -- Madisonians live for a good party). They've improved the ballpark, built better partnerships with the north side community and the city in general, and held really clever promotions. There's also a theory that being a university town there's more fondness for college players, rather than A's farmhands (the Muskies) or indy-league players. Oh, and they win. A lot.

Jun 08, 2009 10:07 PM on The CJ Translations
 
Ken Funck
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Ryan Spilborghs is the only Mallard alumnus in MLB. Curtis Granderson and Andre Ethier are a few other Northwoods League players currently in MLB. The league posts a list of alumni currently in professional baseball here: http://northwoodsleague.com/view/northwoodsleague/alumni

Jun 07, 2009 8:46 PM on The CJ Translations
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 0

True, the Mallards have done a terrific job of marketing their product and making their ballpark a destination. I'll be interested to see how they do at the ticket window this year given the economic downturn, etc. So far they're averaging 5,030 -- not too shabby given the uneven weather.

Jun 07, 2009 8:38 PM on The CJ Translations
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
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Especially when you've got a few bandanas tied around your legs.

Jun 07, 2009 8:28 PM on The CJ Translations
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 1

That's a good point. I sent a copy to CJ and Vern late last week and made sure to explain why I did the "translations" -- not because what they said truly needed translation, as they were both very clear and articulate, but as a framing device for the piece.

Jun 07, 2009 8:27 PM on The CJ Translations
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 0

Yeah, as much as I'd love to know, I think it's better that we don't.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 2

(adopts Python accent) No it isn't.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 0

Totally with you there, Matthew. I've appreciated both the positive and the negative comments, and you learn very quickly to understand that you can't please everyone and you shouldn't take bad feedback personally. Here's the one thing I never thought about until I started writing my Week 1 submission(and I hope this isn't too much navel gazing to discuss here): When I wrote my initial submission and sent it in, I thougt "Great -- if it's good enough, BP will publish it, and that'll be terrific. If not, no one will ever see it, but I can live with that." But once you're in the competition, you realize that they're now going to publish what you write regardless of its quality. So if it's not as good as you want it to be? Too bad, everybody gets to read it and comment on it. That's the scary part. Obvious in retrospect, of course, but I hadn't really considered that beforehand -- not that it would have changed my decision to enter.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 5

In high school a friend of mine built a whiffleball field at his parents' farm. It had chalked lines, snow fence wrapped in black trash bags for the outfield fence in left and center, and a 40' ham radio antenna for the left field fair pole. The right field fence was a metal pole shed, which we called "The Silver Monster". It was the coolest thing ever, and by a wide margin.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 0

Scroll up to my response to Tim K's similar question for more detail, but again I highly recommend the stratfanforum website. Wiser heads than I will be more than happy to steer you in the right direction.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 0

Oh, there's also a hosted version at The Sporting News website. I've never played it, and I don't know enough about it to vouch fer or agin, but you could take a look at that as well.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 1

No need to live near other players -- many leagues are geographically dispersed (mine has 12 owners in 7 states). Best place to start is just to buy the game (www.strat-o-matic.com), probably with the 2008 season cards if you're interested in joining a keeper league. Lots of options -- you can get the box game if you want the actual cardboard cards along with the rules, or just buy the rules and charts if you don't want the cards -- but most importantly you'll want the computer game so you can play NetPlay with opponents anywhere. I do recommend getting the rules in addition to the computer version -- hard to really learn the game mechanics at first unless you read the rules. There may be versions of them posted online. Once you have the games and learn the rules, play some solitaire games, then maybe run a few season simulations. It can be a little spendy to get started (version 14.0 of the computer game is $76 new, including the Card Image option which lets you see the cards themselves during gameplay -- I recommend that). www.stratfanforum.com is a great resource -- they have a section where leagues looking for players or players looking for leagues can post, and the baseball forum is a great place to ask any questions you may have -- Strat players seem to be a particularly friendly and supportive bunch. More details? Feel free to e-mail me directly (you should have my address, or just google me).

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 0

I got through COI and Crescendo of Doom, but ASL and it's neverending series of factors to apply became just no fun. I chuckle at the Dune reference because it's about the only AH game I still find time to play, and I edited out a sentence about how Strat cards contain set probabilities based on a past season, which is appealing to someone who prefers to play the Atriedes -- knowing there would be a very, very small audience for that particular reference.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 0

Thanks. Busy time right now (I'm actually posting this from a fishing lodge in Western Ontario), but sure, I can always be talked into a pint of Ale Asylum Nut Brown!

May 26, 2009 9:15 AM on Dare to Compare
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 0

Glad you liked it better the second time through. Sorry if the "armchair analysts" paragraph sounds condescending -- it certainly wasn't intended that way. Much of the best baseball analysis of the last 30 years has been (and continues to be) performed by people who were, at least initially, working on their own time with nothing else to drive them than their love of baseball -- starting with Bill James, and continuing with the individuals that post here at BP and at the other terrific baseball websites to which I was obliquely referring.

May 26, 2009 9:07 AM on Dare to Compare
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 2

And yet I find his pocketbook to be very rich, so who's to say? ;)

May 26, 2009 8:56 AM on Dare to Compare
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 1

Hammerin' Hank: that's what my friends and I called him during his Cubs career, and I used that nickname to avoid the awkward plural construction "Rodriguez's". In retrospect, I could just as easily have used his actual nickname. Sorry if I offended any Hank Aaron fans out there, or Henry Rodriguez fans. BTW -- one of the best things I'm getting out of this process is that I'm starting to learn how to better edit my own writing. For that I'm grateful to the 1500ish-word limit.

May 26, 2009 8:54 AM on Dare to Compare
 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 0

Just wanted to take a second to thank everyone for their comments here -- the feedback has been extremely helpful to me while hacking away at the upcoming Week 1 entry -- and to let you know that I appreciate hearing what you have to say whether its good, bad or indifferent.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 0

It was a bit karaoke -- it's very difficult to pull off a Gary Huckabay number, and frankly, you didn't. Sorry. Seriously Will, thanks for posting these -- I suspect everyone (finalists, entrants, readers) have been dying to know what the judges think.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 0

The Hanson Brothers had pretty high TGF, too.

 
Ken Funck
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Another guy I looked at, another couple sentences hacked while tightening the piece. Suffice to say Mr. Good Face, at least in TGF terms, isn't.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 0

I actually wrote a couple sentences about that (I checked, and it did) -- but it didn't really quite fit with the rest of the piece, so out they went.

 
Ken Funck
(10141)
Comment rating: 0

True -- but Lou sure ain't perfect. Did you see him last night put in Gathright as a defensive sub for Fukudome, instead of replacing Bradley and sliding Fukudome to right? When I saw The Fragile One's awkward tumble after trying to catch that sinking liner in the ninth, endangering both the Cubs' lead and their season, my life passed before my eyes. Lou better learn a lesson from that, and quick.

Apr 07, 2009 3:00 PM on October 1-7