Given the Indians' early-season propensity to tattoo starters, fantasy owners should be wary of using pitchers that are facing them.
With the completion of Monday’s slate of games, we are officially one-sixth of the way through the season, as every team has played at least 28 games, or 17 percent of its allotted 162. Exactly half of the league has actually hit the one-fifth mark, having played 20 percent of its games, but the Twins and Royals finished off the first sixth of their seasons on Monday. We have also turned the calendar on the season’s first month, and the accumulation of data from that month is giving us some useful information.
For example, did you know that the Oakland Athletics lead all of baseball with 174 runs? They have 10 more runs than the Detroit Tigers and Colorado Rockies, who sit tied for second with 164 (because 174-10 = 164!). The A’s also have three more games played than the Tigers and two more than the Rockies. That doesn’t diminish their runs-scored achievement, but it does send them to the bottom of that trio when you look at runs per game: The Tigers have 5.47, the Rockies 5.29, and the A’s 5.27. Sitting eighth in total runs scored are the Cleveland Indians.
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With the 2012 baseball season finally upon us, it's time to announce BP's full slate of interactive events...designed to bring you, our fans and readers, closer to all the action.
Beginning on May 5, we launch our 2012 ballpark tour in St. Petersburg, Florida with the Tampa Bay Rays. From there, the tour continues with confirmed stops in San Diego, New York, Anaheim, Arlington, Minnesota, Kansas City, and Houston. We've partnered with Major League Baseball teams across the country and other great organizations like the Negro League Baseball Museum, The Newberg Report, The Royalman Report, and Royals Authority to bring you a fabulous experience every step of the way. Each event includes a one to two hour pregame discussion and Q & A session with members of Baseball Prospectus, special guests, and baseball operations representatives. Additional activities will be planned for All-Star Sunday in Kansas City.
Ben reports from the ballpark on Saturday's Yankees-Angels game and explains how and why he stopped worrying about working for a team and learned to love writing about baseball.
Here’s a theory of mine that may or may not be true: you can get almost anywhere in a ballpark as long as you’re wearing a lanyard. If you want journalistic access to a team, you could work hard for years, turning in clean copy on time and impressing your superiors until somebody sponsors you for season credentials or the BBWAA. Or you could skip all that, put on a good-looking lanyard, and try to look like you know where you’re going. Most people assume that anyone wearing one inside a stadium is supposed to be there.
I have my credentials, so I don’t have to fly casual and fake my way in. But I’m on my way to do something I’ve never done before, so I’m displaying my lanyard prominently and willing guards to look at it and let me pass. It’s Saturday afternoon in the Bronx, I’m standing outside Yankee Stadium, and I’m about to attend my first game as a member of the BBWAA.
We all know wins aren't a good way to judge pitchers, but we'd miss them if they went away.
"My choice for the front-runner is Welch, but I know a lot of people say Clemens. I know what Clemens has done for Boston, but now is not the time to change the rules. The guys who won it the last three years won the most games and had good stats. If Bob Welch continues to win at this pace, and he doesn't get it, something is terribly wrong with the judging." | A's pitcher Dave Stewart, in a 1990 Sports Illustrated story on that season's Cy Young voting
Bob Welch had just won his 20th game when his Oakland teammate was asked about the voting, and it was just Aug. 17. It was his 13th season and the first and last time that the 33-year-old Welch would win 20 games.
Proposing a new way to settle an old debate about which players get too much attention and which are overlooked.
Years of talking about baseball have taught me at least two things: it’s dangerous to shout “Francoeur!” in a crowded room, and it’s difficult to gauge a player’s popularity, especially outside of the sabermetric bubble. Unless you work for a club and have access to information on team merchandise and ticket sales—and maybe even if you do—it’s tough to know how high a profile a player has among fans. So how can we decide if a particular player is overrated or underrated, or whether he gets more or less attention than his play on the field might merit? Are we forever doomed to count google hits?
We can approach this problem in a number of ways. If I were Vince Gennaro, author of Diamond Dollars, I might spend several hundred hours developing a proprietary “marquee value” metric based on social media measurements and other components to assess the off-the-field value of star players. Then I’d write a book and a bunch of articles about it and consult with major-league teams. Well, here’s a blurry picture of me sitting at the same table as Vince Gennaro (also pictured: part of Kevin Goldstein’s fedora). I may look like I have one strangely-shaped eye and don’t trust Cory Schwartz, but do I look like I’m Vince Gennaro? Not particularly. So that’s not what I did.
A look at some of the best (or simply most enjoyable) baseball movies ever made
1) Field of Dreams
To be perfectly honest—and when discussing a movie sewn through with themes of simplicity and the supposed erosion of classic American values, honesty should be required—not only isn’t Field of Dreams my favorite baseball movie, it’s not even my favorite Kevin Costner baseball movie. That, of course, would be Bull Durham, and as both films arrived in theaters when I was in my twenties, Bull Durham’s irreverent comedy was far more likely to strike a nerve than the overwrought sentimentality of Field of Dreams. Enjoying Field of Dreams at that point in my life would have been akin to copping to a fondness for Steel Magnolias. Sure, I made the two hour pilgrimage to the Field of Dreams film location at Dyersville—after all, there’s not much else to break up the drive from Madison to Iowa City—but when I ran the bases and smacked a few batting practice lobs into the left field corn, I did so with a practiced smirk. I rolled my eyes when I overheard comments about how “peaceful” and “pure” the experience was, chuckling at the ongoing squabbles over commercialization between the two families that then owned portions of the site. I enjoyed myself, reveling in my ironic detachment… until my girlfriend asked me if I wanted to play catch, shattering all my pretension and reminding me that I hadn’t been immune to the film’s melodramatic charms after all.
You see, Field of Dreams may be a Capra movie without Capra, burdened with Costner’s sub-replacement-level Jimmy Stewart, but you can’t deny the power of its Capital M Moment. After ninety minutes of fully ripe Iowa cornball, it’s hard to believe that the appearance of Ray Kinsella’s father and their game of catch could pack such an emotional wallop. It seems completely unearned, but when I saw it in the theater, I teared up—one of only five times a film has done that to me. This was despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that I had a very happy, baseball-filled childhood and didn’t suffer from Paternal Catch Deficiency. What’s more, I’ve had at least a dozen friends or acquaintances tell me they had the same experience of not particularly enjoying the film but welling up during the game of catch. I can’t explain it, and in many ways it’s completely counterintuitive, but it’s true. It happened, and even now I get a little misty just writing about it. Whatever your opinion about Field of Dreams as a whole, it’s hard to deny its ability to get under your skin, and while that doesn’t make it the best baseball movie of all time, it certainly makes it one of the most memorable. —Ken Funck
What happens when sabermetrics goes back to school?
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
During the academic year, Andy Andres is a Senior Lecturer of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at Boston University, where he teaches biology, physics, and natural sciences. Andres otherwise pursues his baseball passions as instructor of one of the first ever college courses in Sabermetrics offered at Tufts University; as a Datacaster/Stringer for mlb.com at Fenway Park; as a Data Analyst for Ron Shandler’s BaseballHQ.com; and as the Head Coach and Senior Instructor for the MIT Science of Baseball Program.
How fair is MLB Network's upcoming special on statistics and their utilization in the game?
When I volunteered to review “Behind the Seams: The Stat Story”—an MLB Network special on statistics and their place in the game that airs tonight at 10 p.m. EST—I wasn’t sure what to expect. When a big-name mainstream entity tries to talk about stats, it’s often overly simplistic, incorrect, or simply misses the point; ESPN’s stat segments on “Baseball Tonight” are often an example of this. And when I heard Bob Costas was hosting—remember, this is the same guy who, along with Buzz Bissinger, essentially ambushed Deadspin’s Will Leitch just a few years back on Costas Now—I really wasn’t sure what to expect.