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My hypothesis is also self awareness. I believe it's a goal of some teams to finish above .500. If a team has a chance at to finish above .500, they may win a disproportionate number of late-season games versus other out of contention teams who are playing out the string with call-ups. It would be interesting to see how the 82-85 win teams did in the final days of seasons.
Totally based on instinct:
Good review of an outstanding book. I'll add that Hayhurst's "misplaced attention" is a quality that many good writers have. As others have said, Hayhurst's books remind me of Ball Four. There's a little bit of Richard Russo in there as well.
I was a huge Tigers fan in the 80s which was before I really got into advanced stats. Your chart confirms what I remembered - that Morris was not viewed by the media as a great pitcher in the 80s. When Morris, Trammell and Whitaker made the ballot, it never occurred to me that Morris would be the one who get the most attention. First, he was not as good as the other two. Second, the media had never paid that much attention to him as a Tiger.
It seems that he did not become a candidate until he pitched his famous 10-inning game for the Twins. Only then did they start building up his career and coming up with arbitrary stats to make him look better than he was. It has nothing to do with having seen him pitch or understanding of intangibles that stat guys can't see. I think it was just that one game which started the ball rolling.
A pitcher's skill level is best determined by factoring out defense, but ERA doesn't do a good job of that. I don't think ERA really provides anything that RA doesn't except make things more complicated. Until, we figure out how to measure defense better, I prefer RA.
It seems clear that RA is a more accurate metric than ERA. As stated, the main reason ERA has been tolerated is that it is a traditional statistic. I also think there is a belief that not enough is gained by going from ERA to RA that we should upset the traditionalists on that one. Thus, we have focused our energies on eliminating pitcher w/l record and looking for fielding and sequencing independent alternatives to ERA.
I'd personally like for us to concentrate more on RA, but I'm wondering how much going from ERA to RA would change the game's history? Is it going to lead us to vastly different conclusions about pitchers or is it just another metric which will please the stat crowd but confuse the traditionalists? There may be some interesting research there.
gluckschmerz, I think the Rangers would take the mid 90's version of Fassero. Fassero had better control than Wilson but Wilson has had a higher k rate so far. It will be an interesting transition to watch.
I agree Texas has a pretty deep bullpen. They will score runs too. Like many teams, they will go as far as their starting staff takes them. There are some good arms there but lots of question marks. The A.L. west doesn't have a dominating team this year though and I think Texas has as good of a chance as anyone. Thanks.
Right now, it looks like Jensen Lewis will set up for Chris Perez. He would also be the most likely to get save opportunities if anything happens to Perez. Next in line is Joe Smith. If anything changes, I'll try to update it in next week's column.
As a Tigers fan, I think I have seen them pitch too much! I know that Neshek had nasty stuff before his injury. I have not seen him this spring but Ron Gardenhire said that he is not ready to close after coming off TJ surgery. He reported that he couldn't even walk for two days after one of his appearances. He's healthy but needs to build up his stamina. He could perhaps become a closer candidate later in the season if other options don't pan out.
Thanks for the question.
Good question Andrew. The best bet is that Bruney and Barnett open the season as the righty/lefty tandem setting up Capps. However, the Nats bullpen will probably be fluid. Clippard would likely be next in line for late inning work and may find himself in the set up role at some point if others fail. I expect Storen to open the season in the minors but could play a big role later in the season.
I believe it's a smart move jw. Gregg has three years experience as a closer and they signed him to a 2.75 million contract. I think he'll be the closer unless he implodes. He'll walk batters and won't help your WHIP but he should get saves. Frasor might end up being traded and close for someone else.
Granderson actually has a very good contract which is one of the things which made him attractive to other teams. He had an off year but I think the Tigers sold low and will regret it. As a Tigers fan, I don't think the Tigers got enough in this deal. I like Scherzer if he stays healthy. I think A. Jackson is the key to the deal for the Tigers. Unfortunately, I'm not as optimistic about him as others are. I'm not especially excited about the two relievers (although Coke might get a shot at starting)
I also don't see the need to shed two modest salaries when they have a bunch of bad ones coming off the books next year.