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This was maybe the funniest BP story I had ever read back in 2013 and I'm sitting here laughing about it again.
The idea of building an offense around a 33-year-old 1B who has hit 24 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=HR" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('HR'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">HR</span></a> in the past three seasons and whose best <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=OPS" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('OPS'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">OPS</span></a> over the same timeframe is .770 is a bit of a fool's errand. I might even argue that <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=31759">Joe Mauer</a></span> is part of the problem, not part of the solution.
The first question I want to ask when I see an apparent decline is, "is he hiding an injury?" Velocity and other indicators would seem to indicate that he is healthy.
Quibbling here but Boxberger should be filed under Injured.
Sax was definitely a physical threat to patrons sitting along the first base line in LA. It's easy to imagine a scenario in which he turned that destructive power in an even darker direction.
The Mariners give up on <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Brad+Miller">Brad Miller</a></span> after jerking him around for three years and wondering why he was not developing? I hope he makes them look foolish.
Pillar wasn't even the best CF named Kevin in the ballpark that day.
Lester's inability to throw a baseball to the square bases and his apparent reluctance now to even field a ball has taken specialization to a whole new level. Not only can he not hit (career 1 for 45 with .044 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=OPS" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('OPS'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">OPS</span></a>), now he doesn't hold runners on or attempt to field ground balls! This is a bizarre story that is getting even more bizarre. Maybe he once read the complimentary statement, "He's a pitcher, not a thrower," and decided that was meant for him?
Interesting sidenote: Lester has successfully sacrificed just five times in 50 career plate appearances. Those five sacs have come in just two games, with three coming in the 29 July game vs. Colorado. Let's face it: That was a career day at the dish for Lester, 0-0 with 3 sacs. Plus he pitched (not threw) 8 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=IP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('IP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">IP</span></a> with 5 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=H" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('H'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">H</span></a>, 2 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=ER" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('ER'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">ER</span></a>, and 14 Ks, and did NOT commit an error. I wonder how many people will look back years from now and claim they were there that day.
I believe you were referring to Dean Vernon Wormer in the Angels comment? "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son." Classic.
Asdrubel Cabrera? His <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=OPS" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('OPS'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">OPS</span></a> before the All-Star Break was .627. He has literally doubled it in his 50 ABs since, with a 1.259.
“He was chalkier than a Des Moines winter." -- Joe Maddon, of course.
In 2017 have we discovered yet that steak and ice cream are actually good for you?
That Philly mound meeting was clearly uncomfortable, a bunch of guys listening to a veteran curse at the coach and looking around for some kind of outside intervention.
Cardinal "magic" might be getting some negative exposure in the NY Times today.
Take the Over on Miller. Guy has a career .409 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=OBA" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('OBA'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">OBA</span></a> in the minors. He's had time to adjust.
Really interesting piece. Is the big issue the fact that games last 3 hours, or is it actually the fact that games end too late for most people to enjoy the experience fully, with work and school commitments looming the next morning?
My suspicion is that if fans had to choose between the first two innings or the last two, most would choose to catch the last two.
Of course, if games regularly lasted 2:15-2:30, we wouldn't have to choose which seven innings we wanted to experience.
Lemme explain. No. There is too much. Lemme sum up.
More on the deal with Grant involving Ellsbury. I consider my team a contender (if Doolittle doesn't give up 5 ER in 0.1 IP on 21 September, my playoffs likely would have gone better) and I had 19 guys who I deemed to be defensibly protectable. For some, you have to squint a bit (AJax, Paxton, Brad Miller, Verlander, Derek Norris as a xo, RP Doolittle, who has since injured himself off the bubble), but I had too many guys to protect and I am/was looking for extra protect slots. Grant had a slot to deal and was looking for Ellsbury. For me the deal was Ellsbury and a late draft pick for my 14th guy and the Round 16. I did not want to give up Ellsbury but I was trying to get some value for the many guys who I could not protect.
The other part of the equation is that I have a mature core -- Price, Lester, Cobb, Quintana, Verlander?, Pedroia, Donaldson, Hanley, Bautista -- so I am in "win now" mode. What do those four hitters have in common? RHB. So I was trying to get Ortiz thrown into the deal for some lineup balance (I also have Calhoun and Arcia, but they come with question marks still). Plus, I'm a Sox fan. Grant, however, required me to send Stroman as part of the Ortiz deal. So while I'm a big Ortiz fan, I could not pull the trigger on 1-2 years of declining Big Papi for…well, whatever it is that Stroman is going to bring to the table for the coming years.
I have since moved Odorizzi for an 18 and Paxton for another 18. Doolittle has the shoulder thing going, so that helps me make a decision. I guess I now have three protect slots into which to fit Verlander, Norris/Jaso/Pinto, Miller, and AJax. Not sure what to make of Verlander anymore, but I don't want to look foolish either.
You guys can always refer to me as a "friend of the broadcast"!
The idea that total transparency is always a good thing and some kind of American "right" is not necessarily true. If I have earned the right to vote on a secret ballot, well, I can maintain that secrecy. No one should have to identify his vote publicly in this day and age. Why should I be required to hear from every crackpot who has an Internet connection? No, thanks.
Having said that, I would have no problem with all the ballots being revealed with no names attached. Who is the one voter who somehow found room on this ballot for Darin Erstad? Who are the two who somehow made room for Aaron Boone? These outliers are the ones that worry me. Was there a favor returned in some fashion? Some kind of "thank you for the exclusive interview in 2006"? If I am the only guy voting for a certain candidate, I must not be using the same voting rules as everyone else.
The BBWAA obviously gets to see each ballot. They should police themselves rather than expose a voter to some kind of online mob treatment by the sabermetric community, or any other faction that might feel outraged by the vote results.
In our Scoresheet league I was offered Verlander for Chris Davis in the preseason. I jumped at the deal, which must now be viewed as one of those rare "lose-lose" transactions. verlander was not even in my rotation by the middle of the season. Now I have to make a protection decision or trade him for pennies on the dollar. This article is pessimistic on any rebound.
I believe there is suspicion about a mental block with throwing to first base on bunts as well.
Billy the Marlin + runs = funny.
IMO, the problematic "amount of time in between where nothing is going on" is not the managerial changes nor the instant replay; it's the time between "regular" pitches. When the manager is making a change, at least there's some kind of reason for it and the game might even be at a key point, so there is something for the announcers and viewers/listeners to talk/think about. But when Clay Buchholz is staring in for a sign, stepping off the rubber, adjusting his hat, getting the sign again, etc., in the second inning with no one on base, well, we all run out of things to think about. Throw a pitch already! A pitcher is supposed to get comfortable during warmups, right?
I grew up playing American football but most of my kids played soccer/futbol. We watched a lot of World Cup together. For long periods of time, there were no major events happening, but it was still fun to watch because there was continuous action on the field. Sure, the continuity was aided by the fact that there are no commercial breaks, but the ball is in play all the time and there is always the sense that something could happen suddenly. There is NOTHING happening when a pitcher is wandering around the mound or a batter is standing with one foot out of the box, adjusting his gloves again.
I agree that it is difficult to compare an "ideal time of game for baseball" in comparison to an event that takes place once a week or once every few months. I can't comment on a comparison to pro basketball because, well, who watches the NBA anymore?
"In 2011, he tried a new approach in which he stopped being as passive with pitches out of the strike zone and began to swing at more of them." Is this correct? Or should it read "in the strike zone"?
"Must have been great at working behind the scenes, because what we saw publicly wasn't much."
His unwillingness to enforce some basic rules -- the actual strike zone, time taken between pitches -- has led to the biggest problem facing baseball: There is too much time between the actual activities on the field. The younger people who are expected to support the game down the road aren't willing to invest 3+ hours a night all season long.
Very happy to see three of my Scoresheet players on this list!
Should have said "average guy" or "average Joe" there.
So what are the chances of an average nonprofessional athlete producing a kid who gets drafted? Isn't that the rate to which you should compare the number of bloodline picks?
Just saw Nyjer Morgan in Durham right before his call-up. It's not just the great catches he celebrates; he showboats when making outs at the plate, catching routine fly balls, etc.
Regarding the number of innings vs batters faced issue, I was wondering if all those warmup pitches start to take a toll. I would think not, since warmups are not generally thrown with a lot of stress. But a pitcher who goes seven innings has thrown an extra 35 (? I'm not sure how many warmup pitches are allowed per inning) pitches that day.
There is one simple solution to the pace of play issue: Call the rulebook strike zone, specifically the top half of it:
Rule 2.00: The Strike Zone
The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter's stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.
The top of the strike zone is actually above the hitters belt by quite a bit. When is the last time a pitch above the belt was called a strike? This ONE change would resolve the pace of play issue…and it's already a rule!
"Indicator: 48 claps" -- Probably the funniest thing I'll read all day.
I have to agree. Stop the madness!
There is no question about Johnson's catch, regardless of how you twist the rulebook. Caught it, took several steps, hit the wall, still had the ball…and then drop it out of his throwing hand.
This was a great piece because it goes beyond the tools issue. Your franchise player doesn't need to be the guy who puts up the best stats, and there are differences between the skills required to win games and the skills required to win fans. Manny Ramirez was a gifted player, but if you put nine of him on your roster, it would be chaos. I fear that Puig may have some of that same negative volatility.
Jeter became the face of the Yankees not just for his baseball skills, after all. I would suggest that SEA is positioning and grooming SS Brad Miller to play a similar role; he's not the best player on the roster -- not with Cano there! -- but he is interesting, well-spoken, savvy, and willing to play that role.
Some of the comments above seem to suggest that Lindor and Correa are seen as players who can be a franchise player, with lower ceilings than Baez but much more predictable outcomes. There is great value in that.
The Eaton swing! He actually got to try again and struck out anyway.
In that same inning, Deduno threw one of the WORST pitches of the week, missing his target by some four feet; the wild pitch allowed a WP walk-off. He is going to be a pretty exciting player for the Twins if he can actually stay with the big club!
I would hate to see MLB expand rosters. Managers and Front Offices should be forced to make some decisions on who to keep on the active roster; with 28-30 players, we would be looking at more relief pitchers, more platoons, etc. The All-Star Game is pretty much unwatchable; I would not like to move in that direction at all.
I think a smart FO would try to find some kind of efficiency with the fifth starter position. I would love to see the numbers for the "average" fifth starter last year. Assuming this guy -- or this collection of guys -- starts 30 games in a season, I suspect that teams are essentially handcuffing themselves in something like 10% of their games by trotting out a really marginal guy in that slot.
That's fine if you are not a contender; you can use the fifth slot to develop a young guy. But if you are in contention in September, you might regret giving away multiple starts in April-May to a guy who you already knew was not good.
Kurt Suzuki drove in all three MIN runs in Game 1 while batting in the second slot. This is probably the worst possible outcome for MIN fans, as it will justify Gardenhire's outdated thinking for about four months, and he will continue to plow empty ABs into a player with a career OPS of .685. It's bad enough that Suzuki is going to get 400 ABs playing ahead of Pinto, who has a much higher ceiling…we think. We may never know.
Gardenhire's decision to bat Suzuki could be one of three things:
1. a subtle request to be fired
2. Gardy telling all the "stats guys" to go screw
3. a cry for help.
Any chance the DraftStreet and "Daily League Strategy" columns are also an April Fool's Day prank?
Very interesting. Since a manager can never assume the SP's performance in tomorrow's game, almost all the value of the CG is tied to the game after the complete game, right? But your chart shows that although more RP's are apparently available to pitch, they don't pitch as well, with 4.43 RA vs. 4.39. Isn't that actually a negative effect?
There might be some unexpected noise in here too: Some managers might, on occasion, use an off-day to skip a fourth or fifth starter's turn in the rotation, or to juggle the rotation a bit for matchup purposes.
I wonder if you could come up with a better "chemistry" rating simply by running a super-secret player poll in which they rate their manager on how much they respect him and like playing for him. Not to beat a dead horse here -- OK, I am going to beat a dead horse -- but you could call it the "Valentine Rating" or something like that and even run it around 14 February, before the team has endured any slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in actual games.
I don't object to the "gambling" aspect; what you play for, or why, is your business. As a general baseball fan and long-time Scoresheet player, I've been thrilled with BP's increased emphasis on Scoresheet issues and I read everything they can put out on prospects, player skills, and real-life MLB issues.
However, I already skip over all the Rotisserie material; I don't really care for that format and I don't care to read over and over again about how important it is to "target" saves or stolen bases or whatever. The act of counting up stats has little to no bearing on how I enjoy baseball. I am also going to skip over all the DraftStreet stuff.
One concern is that BP is going to invest resources into supporting its DraftStreet section, and the Roti Fantasy material, and those resources can't be used anywhere else. I hope BP doesn't become another Roto site to satisfy the desires of those with one-day attention spans.
Ironically, it sounds like Phil Hughes is Overthinking It.
So Olt is finished? Dang!
Great article, lol funny. You forgot to mention the key point: Scott Boras is a giver. He gives advice, he gives solace, he gives money, indirectly, to his clients. He gives and gives and gives, and here he is giving the Blue Jays some unsolicited professional advice about roster management. I expect the Jays' telephone exchange lit up like a, er, holiday tree right after the interview, with callers clamoring for more Kendrys. Who doesn't want two players for the price of one? After all, every switch hitter gets paid double the salary of those one-sided guys.
Also, Boras might be a bit concerned about the fact that he advised several of his clients to turn down those ridiculous $14.1 million qualifying offers so they could hit it REALLY big in the free agent market. But really it's just that he is a giver.
Probably a good example to cite when one is considering trading shiny prospects for a proven ace. I had forgotten that he was part of the Pedro package way back in the day.
I agree. I was just trying to point out that more games played does not necessarily equal more impact.
So if you lollygag on all the routine ground balls, but then bust it down the line when you hit a gb to deep short in the ninth inning with the tying run on third base and two outs, does that increase the chance of injuring yourself?
You can't lollygag with the game on the line, can you? And aren't some games decided by a fourth inning "hustle play"?
Also, why wouldn't you actually spend the offseason getting your body in shape so you CAN run hard to first base, even on the routine ground balls?
I agree with elljay: Everyone hustles, or everyone doesn't hustle. Why would one player get special handling (unless he is nursing an injury, which is legit)?
The argument that 35 hits over nine seasons is a small price to pay for good health is outweighed by the fact that Cano looks like he is dogging it, IMO. I know this places me in the "You kids get off my lawn" category, but I can't help that.
If advanced sabremetrics lead to managers telling their best players to dog it down the line, then I am going to have to join the legion of "old school" folks who can't accept the "stat heads"!
Terrific article! I love that BP delves into these oddball topics. But there's an inherent issue with the conclusion that "we don’t know how much running all out increases a player’s injury risk, but if the difference is significant, it makes sense to take it easy."
Does it make sense to take it easy? Working from your own examples, one Derek Jeter has been busting his tail down the line for 19 seasons now. Take out 2013's 17-game debacle and 1995's 15-game cup of coffee, and you have a player who has played in 2570 games over 17 seasons, an average of 151+ games per season, all while allegedly playing full bore all the time.
In the same-age nine-year period (age 22-30), Cano played in 1374 games and Jeter played in 1351. That means Cano played in 2.5 more games per season than Jeter, maybe because Cano dogged it at times. But when you look at their plate appearances over the same time period, Jeter had 6193 and Cano had 5791. So "taking it easy" may have possibly saved Cano some injury time -- we don't know that, of course -- but Jeter somehow managed to "hustle" through an extra 402 PAs.
What is the cost of "taking it easy"? I love that you were able to quantify it on the field to some extent. But what about the PR cost? I'm a Red Sox fan and even I like to watch Jeter.
It would be hard to extrapolate the reasons a Yankees fan might choose to buy a Jeter jersey over a Cano jersey, but I am guessing that the public perception that one guy seems to hustle and the other guy doesn't would have some impact.
The PR perception issue was notable this offseason, when Yankee fans watched Cano head to Seattle with a collective "Oh well." Meanwhile, people will be weeping into their over-priced beer cups when Jeter plays his last game…at Fenway even!
I think we should first vote on which of the following excellent metaphors was better:
"...it allows you to embrace the steak without having to consider the slaughterhouse."
"...whose case for All-Time-Greatness needs to be creamed and buffed with a non-statistical chamois."
I like steak, so I vote for the chamois. Nicely written article.
And then, after a notable failure in the 2004 ALCS, he returns to Fenway for Opening Day 2005, the fans sort of jeer/cheer him due to his inability to close out the 2004 game, and he smiles and smoothly tips his cap. I have never seen a classier guy.
Am I missing something on the Houdini slide by athletes? The runner is clearly tagged on the bill of the helmet -- the helmet is actually knocked off by the tag. I do appreciate the effort, but that was a missed call.
Any of these shifts would be worth it if we got to see Hawk Harrelson's head explode. The obvious problem: None of these shifts account for The Will To Win.
Seriously, this is an intriguing article, particularly if you apply #4 to high school baseball or the nonprofessional levels.
"If a player knew he was going to do this, he could prepare for it better."
This might be a chicken-and-egg argument here, but if players are going to be required to put in more time to "prepare for it better," wouldn't it make better sense for the player to just spend more time practicing in his "regular" position and getting better there, thereby mooting the whole point of the shift?
If "our good fielder is five percentage points more likely to catch a ball in the air than is the bad fielder in both left and right field," wouldn't an improvement of 2 or 3 percentage points by the bad fielder essentially balance the whole thing out? If anyone is going to have to make any effort to make this strategy worthwhile, I just wonder if the effort should be put into making each fielder better at his respective position.
"a GIF factory in the outfield" is a great line.
The MLB video of the walk-off squeeze got me thinking. Even though the game was over with the run scoring easily, the pitcher threw the ball to first to record the out. From a personal stats standpoint, that's a smart play, because it's another out recorded for his stats. And it was a great effort by Schafer, who had to bunt a high outside pitch and managed to do so without stepping on the plate.
Wasn't it LaRussa who started to play around with "splitting games" between two starting pitchers, with one pitching the first four innings and the next pitching the next three or four innings? This research would seem to vindicate the concept.
It would take a really geeked up front office to try to enforce such a pattern, though. And the only teams who might be willing to try to do something like that would be the desperate teams, the ones with less talent, and the results would probably not look good, even if the strategy produced better pitching numbers than expected.
Forty years from now my kids could be saying, "Heck, I remember when pitchers were 'real men' and were going six and even seven innings each start. They weren't being mollycoddled like today's four-inning wimps. Those were the days!"
I was listening on the radio at the start of the seventh, when Lester was due to bat fifth, and at that time, the announcers said that no one was up in the Red Sox bullpen. I don't know if or when Farrell had anyone warming at any point during the top of the seventh. Can anyone provide that info?
It seems to me that Lester was going to bat, regardless of the situation, and Ross' double bailed Farrell out. In any case, after the double, in a 2-1 game, what does Farrell have to lose by letting Lester bat? The Sox now had all the momentum. Granted, a base hit in this situation might put the game away, but let's look at other scenarios:
1. Let Lester bat, and he makes an ineffectual out. Red Sox have the lead and one more chance to increase it. This is what actually happened.
2. Let Lester bat, and he somehow produces a run with a gork over the drawn-in infield or something weird happens (not that anything weird has happened in this WS). If Lester somehow drives in a run, that is a crushing blow to the Cardinals and the momentum is all Red Sox.
3. Pinch-hit for Lester with Mike Napoli or Mike Carp. Batter drives in a run or two. More Sox momentum, but they have to piece together five outs from the iffy part of the pen.
4. Pinch-hit for Lester with Napoli or Carp, and the PH does NOT get the run home. This is a potential momentum swing back to the Cardinals, who no longer have to face the LHP that has been shutting them down. Furthermore, maybe if the Sox PH, the Cards bring in Martinez, and frankly, the Sox would rather face Wainwright here.
From the viewpoint of managing expectations and keeping the momentum, the Sox expected Lester to make an out. Anything that happens after he makes the out is gravy. But if Napoli fans, it's a momentum swing for the Cards.
Everything changes if the bases were loaded. I predict that if the bases were loaded, Lester would have been instructed not to swing under any circumstances, due to the risk of a DP. I believe Farrell had already decided to give up that out regardless of the circumstances.
Well, Matheny is certainly consistent.
Dana DeMuth has had a bad World Series, starting with the Kozma non-catch in Game 1. It's a tough job, I know, but in Game 3, you never really knew what was a strike, particularly on the lower edge.
On the umpiring front, I would also note that Jim Joyce made a great call on the Drew-to-Pedroia flip play in Game 4...but he almost prevented Drew from making the play at all. He was so intent on being in a good position that he was practically dancing around Drew...and Drew probably should have just thrown the ball the first base anyway.
Regarding the Silverado commercial, when my sons and I heard it, the message to us was that Chevy's cab was quiet, but not as quiet as Toyota's, or any other pickup "in its class" other than Ram and Ford. And really, shouldn't it read either "Dodge and Ford," or "Ram and F-150," so that we are comparing companies or specific vehicles?
Don Draper must be unhappy.
Thanks for the chance to relive the Grady Little debacle! While you're at it, why don't you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it?
Nice to read an informative article that also talks about some of the inside-the-clubhouse stuff that goes on. Maybe baserunning is one of those underappreciated and inexpensive skills that a club can take advantage of, Moneyball-style.
Follow-up question: Do opposing teams commit more errors against aggressive baserunning clubs? We hear that good basestealers can impact a pitcher's performance, and I wonder if an aggressive team "forces" more defensive errors.
I get it, I get it. Do Yu?
Rob, I'm a Scoresheet player and I track the other teams in my league as well as my own. It's great that we can easily upload each team.
Is there a way to "Select Stats" so I get the same stats (and the same order/layout) for all 10 teams in my league, without having to go into each team and go through the Select Stats process and juggle all the columns every time? If not, I hope BP can add that functionality.
Upon review, the one consistent thing I am able to discern is that Joey Churches can hit a high fastball. But he also has some hits off swings in which his rear end is going in the wrong direction and he looks like he's in emergency swing mode. Hence the BABIP over .500?
I think Hurdle is chewing to make the visor of his cap flap up and down. He's using every muscle in his head to chew that gum.
Overexuberant post-HR greeting at the plate, perhaps including laughter and pointing?
Maybe the Sabre crowd needs Edward Tufte to help out with presenting its data in its most useful fashion.
Fantastic. The collasping man, the kittens, really a great read.
Am I the only one who thinks John Gibbons looks more like an actor playing a baseball manager than an actual MLB baseball manager? He kind of moves around awkwardly, like an unathletic actor trying to move like a baseball player, and carries himself like someone might think a manager should carry himself.
Central Casting: "Hey, we found a guy to play the manager. Good square jaw, kind of a distant expression. He's a bit stiff but he looks OK in a uniform and he's been working on his walk to the plate to talk to the umpire, or whatever you call the guy in black. He's been watching tape of old games to get ready. Yes, he says he will work on the chewing of sunflower seeds. Should we sign him?"
Very interesting article. Instead of calling them "Leiter situations" maybe you should have called them "Me First." Is a guy really going to focus better and work harder to pad his own personal win stat?
Maybe it would make sense to contrast these "Me First" situations with other "Empty the Tank" scenarios, those points in the game in which a pitcher has thrown x number of pitches, there are two outs, he knows he's facing his last hitter, and the game is not in the balance (his team is way up or way down).
Theoretically he is going to "empty the tank" to get this last hitter, even though it may not have a direct impact on the score. Maybe it's just personal pride on the line, the desire to finish on a high note, the desire to walk off feeling good about yourself?
Is there any difference between this situation and one in which there is a statistical W on the line?
Any thought that the big lefty hitter at the plate might be inhibiting a catcher's ability to quickly release an accurate throw?
How about we ask the umpires to call the actual strike zone? That one little change would speed the game up dramatically. I would love to see a study on the percentage of strikes called by umpires over the years.
The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter's stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.
Check out the top of the zone: midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants. When was the last time you saw a strike called above the belt? The top third of the strike zone has been lopped off in practice (although not in the rule book, clearly). That's why there are more pitches being thrown and that's why games last so long.
I don't mean to sound like a curmudgeon but either call the regulation strike zone or change the rule. If you really want to speed up the game, do the former.
I'll go out on a limb here and suggest that this site is the only baseball site with a reference to Edward Tufte today.
Great article. I must confess that I have been ignoring all the catcher framing discussions over the past couple of years, thinking the issue was fairly insignificant, and also because I absorb a lot of my baseball over the radio (for you non-oldtimers, radio is a magic box that somehow allows me to hear what some people are saying at the actual stadium. Crazy, I know! You can read about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio)
Anyway, this article -- and the terrific graphical presentation -- has forced my eyes wide open. When I watch a game, I'll be watching it a bit differently from now on.
And it looks like I have some back-reading to do.
Great article, but you damaged your credibility when you mentioned that you got to open one gift on Christmas Eve. The waiting is the hardest part -- as Tom Petty says -- but it's also the key to the whole deal. Also, you kids stay off of my lawn!
With all the potential options with the various position players, the Rangers have inexplicably tied their own hands with this contract. They must have made some key observations regarding Olt and Profar's futures at Spring Training this year.
Didn't we used to call guys like this "junkballers"? Guys who lack velocity but will throw a variety of pitches from various angles to fool the hitter?
While we're at it, could we please either redefine the strike zone in the rule book or call the actual strike zone?
"The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball."
The next time I see a strike called at "the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants" will be the first time.
I've often wondered if 2B prospects tend to be undervalued across the board, as there seems to be a view that 2B is a place for shortstops who are not quite good enough to play short.
You have to have a lot of confidence in your arm to cut off a guy known as "The Toy Cannon"!
I'm not sure which was more traumatic: Revisiting a late 1970's typing class or revisiting 1970's fashion. The "Hard Work" tune was catchy though.
A closer named "The Eraser"?
This list is depressing on too many levels.
The 7 July Ron Roenicke video shows that there is some kind of universal understanding of when a manager crosses the ejection line. The player in the background hears Roenicke say the "magic" words and his body language indicates that he knows immediately that Roenicke is done.
Very amusing piece.
Fantastic. Really LOL funny.
But Sam, it's possible that you missed the point completely.
Obviously he's blind -- the gif's are clear evidence. I'm surprised no one has brought it up before. But the fact that he's enjoyed some success requires further research.
I suspect that Reynolds has been endowed with some kind of sonar or super sniffer, those things that allow bats to "see" insects even though they're, well, blind as a bat, or sharks to sense blood or a struggling fish in the water from about 900 miles away. That would explain the fact that Reynolds is sort of in the neighborhood of the ball occasionally.
He could be some kind of hybrid Bat-Aquaman. I'd like to check his fingers and toes. I'm also curious if his story is somehow linked to that shipment of frozen heads into a Chicago airport.
Sandy Alomar, Jr?
I'm not sure which is funnier/more depressing: the Phil Hughes "scouting report" or the "throwback" clown suit being worn by Matt Garza on national TV so MLB can earn more revenue. Or am I being too cynical during the holiday season?
I wonder if BP could come up with a new stat: Pitcher ERA with Coco Crisp Maybe Stealing (PECCMS). Everyone talks about what a distraction or disruptor a great basestealer can be to the pitcher, and you can look up Pitcher ERA with men on base, but has pitcher performance ever been pegged to a specific baserunner?
I'd be surprised if Aceves throws much for the Sox in 2013. His 2012 was terrible and distracting.
My wife and I have always thought it ironic that our the buses carrying our kids -- high school athletes -- always stop at fast food places on their way home from away games. At this level it's somewhat justifiable, because it's inexpensive food and everyone can afford it, and because the kids are going to eat when they get home or at least eat breakfast at home the next day.
At the minor league baseball level, when players are trying to do this for a living, this seems like low-hanging fruit for a franchise. It's easy to believe that improved nutrition will eventually lead to better results on the field. And $2 million seems like a minimal investment.
Um, I was not referring to the baseball John Connor, even though the comment software provided a link. But everyone except the machine knows that, right? Further evidence that we are still ahead of the machines, for now. It's the zombies we need to focus on.
I could not agree more with the comments in your asterisked aside at the end. The machines don't need a plan to eliminate John Connor and take over the Earth; the Internet has given humans a chance to continually reveal their ignorance and intolerance and it will eventually be our own undoing.
Regarding the issues of statistics used, one would think that the passing of baseball generations will naturally move the statistical conversation along in a progressive direction. But I wonder if rotisserie/fantasy baseball has prolonged the use of otherwise outdated stats. Lots of people are still counting Wins, SB, HR, and RBI, when they really don't do much to illustrate the true value of a player to his team.
We are still a long way away from a standard TV graphic that shows PA/BA/OBA/Slg and maybe some platoon info, but we can hope that we will get there at some point.
Next thing you know, MLB will start using instant replay!
It might be more appropriate to call this stat the Slap Rate rather than the Bloop Factor and give out "Slappies" at the end of the season.
There have been hundreds of players who have "made changes" in the offseason but there doesn't seem to be rhyme or reason as to what makes them successful this year after they were just mediocre or poor in previous seasons. I think about Ben Zobrist and Justin Ruggiano, who both apparently benefited from "the Swing Mechanic" Jaime Cevallos. Jose Bautista worked with Dwayne Murphy on a relatively minor tweak -- getting his front foot down earlier -- and became a monster. I wonder if the old "Player X showed up in camp in the best shape of his life" should be read as "he's going to do the same thing this year, just better, hopefully."
The reactions by all the principals involved in the Arencibia throw after the strikeout are fantastic. Arencibia is mortified, the umpire is irritated and immediately starts looking for more baseballs, because this one is now wet and dirty, and the third baseman...not sure how to describe his reaction. He has a little hop in his step when the strikeout occurs, comes looking for the throw, and then he just absolutely gives up and his body language screams "Disgust!" when the throw is 8 feet over his head. That GIF is a riot.
Justin Masters Bruce's Bat Efforts in Tribe-Reds Matchup
It's fun to extrapolate on the number of pitches in the Ryan start. Assuming all the walks were four straight balls and all the strikeouts were three straight strikes, we are at 97 pitches already. If all eight hits came on the first pitch, we are up to 105 pitches. Assuming the 20 non-strikeout outs came on the first pitch, we are up to 125 pitches. This does not account for any DPs, of course, but the lowest possible total of pitches is 125. That assumes that each batter got the bare minimum of pitches. I'm guessing the total is substantially more than that.
How about Dallas McPherson? Or was I the only guy who thought he would become great?
Great feature, Sam. Very amusing and informative.
I thought all references to the Orioles' franchise were required to start with "once-proud" and/or "hapless."
I remember the Bobby Tolan stance. It looked like he was hanging from a beam or something.
So if Dylan Bundy retires 9 more hitters, he's thrown a "perfect game" to start his career. He might be peaking too early.
Love the David Freese app. Would have liked to hear the discussion that may have ensued when he walked back into the dugout after that "swing.".
Hope Darnell McDonald makes the chart at some point. He made the team about three weeks ago.
Good stuff on Western Canada baseball at http://www.attheplate.com/wcbl/.
Interesting. Can we get rid of the "Hold" too?
While we're at it, maybe someone could shed light on when MLB started listed "2-out RBI" as a separate entry in the box score, in addition to the plain old "RBI." Is this another attempt to measure "clutch-ness" or what? And why do we list "Runners left in scoring position, 2 out"? I would rather publicly humiliate the guy who left a RISP with 0 outs or 1 out. It's tougher with two outs.
Finally, why list RBI in the batting stats when it is already in the line score? Here's the listing from WS Game 7 last year with the RBI and 2-out RBI separate listings. Why are we emphasizing what happened with two outs?
2B: Freese (3, Harrison).
HR: Craig (3, 3rd inning off Harrison, 0 on, 1 out).
TB: Craig 4; Berkman; Freese 2; Molina, Y 2; Furcal 2.
RBI: Freese 2 (7), Craig (5), Molina, Y 2 (9), Furcal (1).
2-out RBI: Freese 2; Molina, Y; Furcal.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Molina, Y; Carpenter 2; Schumaker 4.
Team RISP: 2-for-9.
Team LOB: 8.
Ah, the scrappy infielder. I would posit that the Ecksteins and Pedroias of the world are one reason that baseball retains its appeal. These guys are not physical freaks, which is a requirement for 1. the NBA and 2. the NFL, with rare exceptions like Muggsy Bogues and Wes Welker. So my sons and I can watch a baseball game and note the fact that many of the players are taller than we are. But we can also enjoy the fact that a 40-year-old guy is still pitching, a 5'7" second baseman is a legitimate MVP candidate, and a guy who is at least 75 lbs overweight just signed a $200 million contract. Baseball's physical demands don't require everyone to benchpress 300 lbs, run a 4.3 40-yard dash, and/or be able to dunk. I find that refreshing.
I'm not a math guy, but I'm curious if this graph is based on MLB numbers only or if it takes minor league performance into account as well. If it's just MLB numbers, there are very few 21-year-old players who play regularly in MLB and therefore have the ability to post a peak year at that age, right? I wonder if this graph also might reflect the overall age distribution of MLBers, and it turns out that more players peak at age 27 simply because there are always more 27-year-olds in MLB than there are 21-year-olds or 37-year-olds. A self-fulfilling prophecy?
"trebuchet-like arm whip" -- Reason #71 why I am willing to pay for BP.com, when I hate paying for anything on the Internet. Someone once pointed out that saying a guy had an arm like a "howitzer" was not necessarily flattering, given that a howitzer generally launches with a pretty high arc and steep rate of descent. I appreciate that Jason went the extra mile on trebuchet rather than catapult.
My two sons watched "The Sandlot" over and over when they were between 5 and 10 years old. Terrific movie. My wife and daughters would choose "Bull Durham" though.
Yes, why bring in another speed guy when the running game is not part of the Sox philosophy? Curious to see how much the Sox would be willing to pay to move Lackey.
+1 on foulpole75's comments. Yes, giving a 43-year-old guy a two-year contract is an iffy proposition, but picking these last two years as the sample size for a career roundup piece could be interpreted as an exercise in selective sniping.
From age 40-42, Wakefield went 38-28, with ERA+'s of 100, 112, and 103, in 500 IP. During that time, he earned $12 million under a deal in which the club was essentially allowed to renew him for $4 million per year whenever they wanted to. That's a pretty good deal. And while one certainly does not want to overpay a player for his past work when he is almost certainly going to provide diminishing returns in the future, it's not like the Red Sox committed $48 million over 3 years to a SS going into his age 37 season, or even $82.5 million to a 31-year-old starting pitcher with an 87-76 career record.
No, they committed $5 million to a guy whose ERA+ numbers over the past two seasons (81 and 82) are remarkably similar to those of AJ Burnett (82 and 84). The Red Sox paid $5 million for those numbers, the Yankees $33 million.
I realize that resorting to an AJ comparison (at $16.5 million per season) is kind of a worst-case scenario, but I am fairly certain that Wakefield delivered almost exactly what the Sox brass was expecting when they signed the deal.
In the end, Wakefield has given the Red Sox 186 wins for about $53.5 million, which is about $288K per win. That's great value. In the past five years, for a total of $17 million, he's 50-54, and in terms of ERA+, he's had two average years, one good year, and two poor ones.
Having said all that, yes, he's limped to the finish line a bit. But "sinecure"? Nope. The Sox have not been trotting him out there just to get number 200; they've been trotting him out there because he's been like their third-best starter among healthy and available SPs of late. Yes, this is a condemnation of the state of their pitching, but it's not like Wakefield has been holding back the development of a younger player.
His final few weeks may actually be a microcosm of his entire career: He's inexpensive, flexible, available, occasionally ghastly, and sometimes solid enough to get the team a win. I'm guessing that the only guy who is NOT going to miss him is Saltalamacchia.
Lots of food for thought here. Very interesting to see that many more balls were called strikes than strikes were called balls. In other words, pitchers are getting the benefit of the doubt more often than hitters are, at least on the horizontal measures.
Meanwhile, pitchers are getting severely squeezed on the vertical, since no umpire in the past 10 (?) years has called a pitch above the belt a strike, despite the fact that "the STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants." Pitchers have lost a significant chunk of the strike zone.
I realize the Pitchf/x data is a bit iffy, but I wonder if you would get more granularity on this issue by breaking it down for RHP vs. LHP and/or by fastball/breaking ball/change.
The link to the Leiter game is priceless. A 23-year-old pitching in early April throws 163 pitches, with 9 BB and 10 K, in an 8-5 win. He actually faced one batter in the ninth inning!
The most interesting stat from that 1989 game, IMO? Thirteen runs, 15 walks, 17 hits, 2 errors, 2 HBP, 85 plate appearances ...and the game was over in just 2 hours and 33 minutes. Yesterday's 1-0 OAK win over FLA (5 hits, 4 BB, 19 K total, 61 PA) took 2:25. The Lee-Beckett 5-0 game featured 60 PAs, and took 2:37. Whatever happened to pace of play?
Wonder if his teammates enjoy getting plunked? That would be the way I would send the message. Then the Suns could take care of business in-house.
Funny to read this column from "way back" in 2004, when husky home run hitters ruled the realm. There seems to be a lot more need for "run creation" strategy these days, unless Jose Bautista is batting (and I note that the Jays recently had R. Davis attempt a steal with Joey Bats at the plate, leading to a caught stealing and subsequent BB). I do agree that the attempted steal of home -- the straight steal, not one of those double steal deals -- is still an absolute stunner, regardless of the outcome. You look a bit foolish when it doesn't work (Coco!) but like a genius when it does (Jacoby!). And if I'm at the plate when you get tagged out on the attempted straight steal, I'm not a happy camper.
David, it would be great if you could get them to explain this obscure rule: The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.
"Howitzer: a short cannon used to fire projectiles at medium muzzle velocities and with relatively high trajectories." Sounds like a good word but probably not the best description of a powerful arm. For that you need something from the Dr. Evil "laser" collection.
The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.
All baseball has to do to fix the time-of-game problem is to enforce the written upper level of the strike zone. When did you last seem an ump call a belt-high strike? No umpire will call a strike above the belt, which is probably a much greater factor in the offensive explosion of recent years than any PED.
Instant replay has revealed that umpires miss a fair number of calls. A close reading of this rule would indicate that they are missing some ridiculous percentage of their ball-strike calls as well. Either call the rulebook strike zone or change the rule; the current situation is an embarrassment if you give it any thought at all.
I was watching the game on the East Coast, and it was late. My wife and a couple of her friends had fallen asleep in front of the game, but I was still absorbed. When Gibson hit the ball, I jumped out of my chair and yelled something unintelligible, startling everyone out of their reverie. It remains one of three indelible baseball memories for me, along with the Grady Little-Pedro debacle in 2003 and David Ortiz's seiries of key hits in the 2004 post-season.
The Royals' handling of Alex Gordon should be some kind of case study at Baseball Player Development School for Executives, in the "How not to do it" category.
Draft local player and anoint him the face of the franchise. After 130 AA games, bypass AAA, call him up, and give him a starting MLB spot. Watch him struggle a bit at the ML level for the first two seasons. In his age 25 season, bounce him up and down for reasons of injury or ineffectiveness. In his age 26 season, repeat...after a whole 38 PAs...coming off a major injury. Watch him kill the ball in the minors over and over (career OPS 1.023). Throw hands up in air. Finish last over and over. Amusing anecdote: Gordon reported to AAA Omaha this week and, naturally, went 3 for 4 with a HR in his first game.
I've always felt that Cooney and Barrows -- who both failed to reach base in the first two slots that inning -- have gotten a free ride. Next, the two hitters in front of "mighty Casey" are both reportedly terrible -- a "lulu" and a "cake" -- which may explain where Dusty Baker learned his lineup-making skills. And finally, the pitcher threw three straight strikes past Casey, no nibbling; it's further evidence of how the game has changed. If LaRussa were managing the visiting team, we would have needed three more stanzas to account for the intentional walk, the trip to the mound, the warmups by a new situational reliever, and the final dramatic AB.
I don't mean to sound crazy, but has anyone noticed Jose Bautista's Dimaggio-like numbers this spring? 47 AB, 1 BB, 1 K, 8 2B, 4 HR, and a 1.331 OPS. Not exactly the traditional or even newer OBA-centric leadoff type numbers. Yes, it's spring training; it will be interesting to see what happens when the games matter.
I know it's fashionable to hammer away at McCarver and Morgan -- and the former drives me crazy -- but somewhere along the way the second guy in the booth went from "color guy" to "analyst," which are probably two different jobs even though the terms are used more or less interchangeably.
Joe Morgan thinks like a former baseball player, not necessarily a baseball analyst. He's either not aware of the stats or he doesn't trust them. I wonder if Dustin Pedroia is aware of his UZR rating? Does the average current ballplayer follow the more esoteric numbers on a regular basis, or just around contract time? And speaking of contracts, I'm betting that Joe Morgan's contract with ESPN does not require that he incorporate "VORP" into his broadcast or that he provide x number of stats per game. He's there to enhance the broadcast as a former player, regardless of his title.
Given the large number of players who claim that they don't follow their own stats on a daily basis, never mind the more sophisticated ones, why would we expect Morgan, the former ballplayer, to be any different?
DDrezner has it right: Wasn't it just in 2008 that the Sox started the season with a great rotation and ended up with Paul Byrd pitching down the stretch? In 2006 they traded away Bronson Arroyo because they had a "surplus" of SP -- Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield, Josh Beckett, Matt Clement, David Wells and Jonathan Papelbon --and got Willy Mo Pena (ie nothing) in return. The 2006 season ended miserably for the Sox.
The Lackey acquisition gives them a chance to move pitching prospects -- not Beckett -- for a hitter.
Papelbon for Danks? Where do I sign up to get on the Danks side of that deal? There might be another more subtle aspect to a Papelbon deal: The Sox have been steadily trading away some of their bigger personalities for more "company men" who are noted for their "professionalism." OTOH, a lot of those personalities -- Pedro, Damon, Manny, Lowe -- were pretty expensive and older. So maybe I'm reading into it too much. But Paps may be the most volatile piece of the current puzzle, so it wouldn't surprise me if they moved him.
It will be interesting to see if Manuel pulls another "Grady Little Lite" move and leaves Pedro in the game too long. I can see riding a guy too long, but this was actually the SAME pitcher involved in the 2003 debacle, which eventually got Grady fired. OTOH, the Phillies' bullpen seems to be disproving the old BP saw that almost any pitcher can close a game with a three-run lead. What's going to happen if Pedro gets through the 6th with 100 pitches and a small lead?
Boswell wrote about Girardi's short rest scheme in the Washington Post today as well. Clearly, if a starting pitcher falters again and the Yankees lose the series, Girardi will be WFAN fodder for the entire winter.
To me, the interesting aspect of his management style throughout the playoffs is that he seems to be playing every game like it's an elimination game; remember, he even used Rivera vs. the Angels when the Yankees were TRAILING by two runs. Why not, with the extra off days? But those innings might add up.
I was watching Game 5 with a buddy and we were debating the 3-man-rotation decision. I couldn't recall who the Yankees' 4th starter was and thought I was just drawing a blank. "Chad Gaudin," he said. "No, I mean the 4th starter, not the 5th starter." "It's Chad Gaudin," he repeated. And therein lies the problem. I wouldn't want Gaudin pitching meaningful playoff innings either.
Given his personnel, Girardi ultimately had to decide if he would rather lose a Series because he "gave away" a game by starting Gaudin or Joba, or if he would rather lose a series by riding his big horses too hard. I think most fans would be more supportive of the latter. Maybe we'll find out.
While we're out here discussing the "neighborhood" play, could we try calling the actual strike zone? Does anyone call a pitch above the belt a strike? According to the rules, there's a lot of strike zone above the belt: The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.
I thought the same thing: Let's not call this a "great" game, but "greatly entertaining" would work.
Regarding the umpiring, go to mlb.com and watch the 12th inning play in which Punto fields the chopper up the middle and throws out the runner at the plate. The 2B umpire seems to assume that Punto will try to turn two and, after the ball bounces by the umpire, is actually moving into Punto's throwing lane (toward home) until the last instant, when the ump realizes that he's about to get beaned. How about a game decided by a player colliding with an umpire in the infield? Could have been a disaster. I realize the ump was actually moving into what he thought was the correct position for a call at 2B, but my goodness, he's way too close to Punto. Punto's play there, BTW, is evidence of how quickly these guys can assess and react to a situation. Impressive.
Second, regarding Leyland, can we go back to Game 161? Season on the line, expanded rosters, including 17 (!) pitchers...and he tabs Alfredo Figaro to start an almost must-win game? Figaro, who had a decent season at AA, hadn't started ANY game in three months and had made just two ML appearances in all of September, not to mention the fact that he had all of 16 ML innings under his belt and an ERA around 6.
If Leyland was planning to mix and match all game, is this really the guy to send out as the tone-setter? I don't get it and I wonder if anyone in the media will hold him accountable. A win on Saturday would have made Game 163 a moot point, but it feels like Leyland didn't give his team a decent chance to win that game.
I would like to see an article on the value of having a commissioner who is not a representative of the owners but rather someone who is only (and truly) responsible for the best interests of the game. What are some of the issues that are inherently problematic for Commish/"former" Owner Selig and that might be handled differently by a truly neutral party? What possible changes could be made?
Or: The movies "Bull Durham" and "Field of Dreams" provide two views on baseball, America, and coming of age. Discuss.
This one did indeed feel rushed. The game description was a little choppy, but the opening pitcher synopsis and the closing key decisions portion were quite good. Turns out Tim's sarcastic throwaway line -- "After tiring himself on the base paths in the top of the inning" -- was lost on me as well, and I started wondering if we would see some kind of look at how well a pitcher pitches immediately after running the bases. This was a middle-of-the-pack entry this week, in my eyes, but it gets a thumb up.
I read Ken's piece first this week and enjoyed it. I enjoyed it even more after I read the rest. It seems to be the only one this week that pulls it all together -- interesting topic, intro-body-conclusion structure, a focused approach, and that certain light-heartedness that I have come to expect from most BP writers. Some of the other pieces seemed rushed. I don't know if the BP Idol contest was meant to test the writers' stamina as well as their skills, but it seems to be taking a toll. I gave only two thumbs up this week, but this is quite an undertaking and I certainly appreciate the efforts by all.
I thought the introduction was weak, as it took 10 paragraphs for the writer to introduce the topic and describe what he was trying to do. The charts look good but the topic failed to hold my attention.
I was in England during the 1991 Series and the only report I saw in anything resembling real time was "Twins win World Series, 1-0." Tough to take. I think Matt takes a very interesting approach and highlights the key points, further pointing out how the "big moments" he remembered were not actually the biggest ones. Big thumbs up.
In terms of visual presentation, this was pretty dense. With so much information being pumped out, Tyler could have used more charts or tables to present data and focused the words on the other information. Solid piece.
Solid effort and conclusion: Vlad the Impaler is not coming back. I'd still like to know what relatively unique skill enabled him to swing at everything and still be successful. Awkward phraseology: "Despite an approach at the plate that can generously be described as not really what statistical analysts recommend..."
I wish Matt had done something more with the final part on opposite field power. "Howard may age better than PECOTA expects" seemed anticlimactic in view of the clear discrepancies in hitting the ball into the opposite field bleachers. That chart was also a bit tough to read on my computer -- the 4th and 5th bar colors were too similar -- and in terms of data presentation, I wonder why he didn't use the same colors for the same player on each chart, ie bright yellow for Canseco on each chart, magenta for Howard, etc. That would have been easier to digest from a visual standpoint.
I must also confess that I got lost in the "There is clutch" discussion. "Ryan Howard is clutch" or does Howard just hit better when he is not facing the shift, much like other LH power hitters? Introducing the concept of "clutch" seems to confuse the issue.
The content was solid but the writing was a bit choppy. As an editor, I had some problems with the use of commas when they weren't necessary. I really appreciated the pronunciation key.
I am just now joining the BP Idol contest and haven't read the writers' previous entries. The style of this entry reminds me very much of the player profiles published in the BP book each year -- a bit glib, some solid analysis, and some very nice turns of phrase. I particularly enjoyed the "black dress" reference and the "swapped catcher cards" analogy. Overall, this was very well written, and the links Ken included were also very good.
Interesting article on an interesting player. Oddball note on Cecil's 4-HR start against the Red Sox: His groundout to flyout ratio was 10-0. So he still got a lot of groundballs, but everything hit in the air was not caught? I did not watch the game, but this stat jumped out at me when looking over the summary.
As I understand it, neither Mussina nor Sabathia were coming off a major injury at the time of their trouble, which moots the whole point of this column. Whether Wang's problems are psychological or physical, it seems like Joe is comparing apples and oranges in this case. This is more than a BABIP issue.
Joe Girardi, Supergenius
Just five days after Joe's rant against Hillman. Clearly Girardi does not read BP.com Saving your best reliever for a ninth-inning lead that never comes? Let's look at the 12 April Yankees vs. Royals game.
I haven't followed the Yankees game by game, so maybe Rivera is not available for other reasons, but looking back over their past few games:
Today the Yankees enjoy a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the 8th at KC. LHP Damaso Marte comes in to face two LH hitters and retires them both. KC sends up a RH PH. NY goes to the bullpen for a RHP. Do they bring in the greatest RH reliever of all time with 4 outs to go? No. They bring in Jose Veras...who actually pitched last night and gave up a run. Veras walks Butler on five pitches.
OK, tying run on base, switch-hitting rookie at the plate, Girardi goes to the bullpen again. Do they bring in the greatest RH reliever of all time with 4 outs to go, a guy who absolutely kills LHB? No. How about rookie Phil Coke, a LHP? He gives up a game-tying double.
Hey, it's no longer a save situation, so they leave Coke in to give up two more runs. Ballgame over! Yankees lose! THHHHHEEEEE Yankees lose!
Hmm, why no Rivera? Let me look back through the box scores. He must have pitched last night...no, he didn't. He didn't pitch Saturday night. He DID pitch Friday night, when he threw 18 pitches in the 9th inning to protect...a 3-run lead against KC.
He also pitched an inning on Thursday...when he came in and threw 15 pitches in the ninth inning...to protect a 9-2 lead against the 5-6-7 hitters in the BAL lineup! I guess he "needed the work" because he hadn't pitched yet.
In sum, Girardi has used the best reliever in MLB to protect a 7-run lead. Knowing he wouldn't be able to use him three days in a row, he then uses him to protect a 3-run lead. Luckily, he didn't need him on Saturday. Today, with four outs to go in a 1-run game, he didn't use him.
The writeup on MLB has the headline "Yanks' bullpen can't back up Joba" and recent stories talk about how everyone in the pen is pulling for each other. How about asking the manager to use his ace properly?
I'm assuming that this botch job has probably already cost the Yanks a win. What difference will one win make in the AL East?
And LF only 90% of the time. Seems like a lot of time to be playing the 5-infielder emergency lineup.
Just curious as to why Pie\'s projection has already been downgraded from 14.8 VORP to 7. The visa issue? His PT projections look the same but his performance has been downgraded.
I\'m all for informed liberalism, but when you lower the standards for the HoF, you end up with the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. I\'ll never forget last year\'s inductees, who were...well, I have no idea. Enshrinement there means little outside of Canton, as far as I can tell. Baseball\'s HoF should be reserved for the truly great, not the decent or above-average. Incidentally, Dwight Evans was as good a candidate for the HoF as Tony Perez and Dave Parker. Yet he did not receive the 5% necessary to stay on the ballot for a second year. It would be great if the \"1970\'s Golden Years of Baseball\" votes would get off of Parker and Concepcion and the other above-average guys. Same for Garvey and Donnie Baseball, For me, it\'s Blyleven, Henderson, Raines, Rice, and McGwire.
Maybe we are comparing apples and oranges here, deep dish vs. not deep dish, but many would argue that New Haven CT is the best place for pizza. Perhaps we could get some statistical analysis on that? I volunteer to help out with the pizza crunching.
Interesting thought, but with just seven appearances in his ill-fitting Sox uniform, and only one of those since June, I think most fans forgot he was on the team, and I doubt anyone would have been excited to see him on the roster. He did get a free pass on his shameful departure though.
Other than the Timlin decision, I think the biggest mistake the front office made was in not rostering another decent RH bat. They knew Lowell was iffy, as was Drew. Imagine what the lineup would have looked like if Drew had not been able to play. While some guys cooled off down the stretch -- Ellsbury and Lowrie in particular -- the Sox STILL had no extra bats on the bench if those two were starting. Do you think the Rays\' decision to carry three LHP in their pen for the playoffs had anything to do with the fact that they would be seeing Ortiz/Drew/Kotsay and Ellsbury/Crisp the whole time? I bet it did.
Jay wrote: \"Having said all of that, it\'s important to remember that in a short series depth doesn\'t come into play as often as it does over the course of the season.\"
That\'s generally true, but any Red Sox fan who watched this post-season witnessed in horrifying detail what \"bad depth\" can do to a good team. Starting with Timlin\'s appearance in a tied Game 2, the Sox\'s lack of depth became increasingly apparent. With the season on the line in Game 7 vs. the Rays, the big budget Sox had no reasonable PH options for Kotsay vs. a LHP and for a catcher hitting .053 in the series...and two other catchers on the roster.
Why not pitch Byrd in Game 2 and resort to the 25th man on the roster only when Byrd ran out of gas? By then it\'s the 15th or 16th inning and it\'s a true emergency. This was the turning point of the whole series.
Why wasn\'t right-hand hitting Int\'l League MVP Jeff Bailey on the roster instead of Timlin or David Ross (who was added to the roster so the Sox had options when they PH for Varitek...which they then generally declined to do even though he was clearly struggling)? In this case, the \"wasted\" 24th and 25th roster spots came back to haunt the Sox.
So while I agree depth is more important during the regular season, I wish the Sox had given some more thought to the end of their playoff bench.
The Kotsay call was brutal. It may have actually been farther outside than the previous pitch, called a ball. But the fact of the matter is that the Sox hitters were overmatched and were taking some ugly swings and half-swings.
I am a Red Sox fan and have enjoyed watching Manny play. I am the first to admit that the Boston media is brutal and completely capable of driving someone out of town by trying to turn the fan base against him. I stopped reading Dan Shaughnessy when he began his \"Dominican Diva\" campaign against Pedro, a guy who was still in the process of leaving it all on the field -- his arm -- to help his team win. So Pedro wanted to take a trip to the DR during the season? Who cares?
On the other hand, this Sox front office has so far been \"right\" on not offering huge contracts to aging stars. Harsh but true. And I don\'t know that you can compare this front office\'s handling of the Manny-Pedro-Nomar situations to the way other Sox front offices handled Fisk-Rice-Tiant-Clemens. I\'m pretty sure all the faces have changed.
Furthermore, comparing the Manny situation to the Pedro situation is ridiculous. Every Sox fan knew that at least once a year we were going to go through a phantom Manny injury during a big series and/or a Manny trade-me request. I didn\'t care about the fielding gaffes or the occasional oddball story about Manny being late to spring training because he was scheduled to attend a car show. That just made him colorful. But it seemed pretty obvious that Manny quit on his team on various occasions, and this year was one of them. I assume his teammates were wondering if Manny was going to show up to play, just like Red Sox fans were. I thought the silence from Manny\'s teammates during this year\'s high jinks was telling.
It bothered me that Manny went to an off-season conditioning program in Arizona just in time for his option year. It bothered me that Manny started his annual whining during a key stretch. It bothered me that the conditions existed -- Manny\'s seemingly indifferent attitude being the most notable -- that we could even suspect that Manny deliberately took three strikes from Rivera.
Now Manny is on a tear for the Dodgers. He\'s a first ballot Hall of Famer. And when he arrived in LA and promptly announced that he wanted to stay there forever, all I could think was, \"There\'s a sucker born every minute.\" I have yet to watch him play; maybe I am suffering from Manny overload.
Someone may give him a 4-year deal. That owner had better hope Manny doesn\'t get bored or the season doesn\'t take a turn for the worse, because Manny seems to pack it in at times.
Finally, it\'s interesting to start the article with an indirect comparison to Guerrero, who \"was acquitted of drug conspiracy charges Tuesday, after his attorney argued that his low IQ prevented him from understanding that he had agreed to a drug deal.\" (CNNSI.com, 7 Jun 2000) I hope Manny has invested his millions more wisely!