Even the least entertaining game of last season contained 15 interesting moments.
I took a film class in college (ladies) where the professor told us that the most important shot in any movie is the first. That shot, he said, should tell us everything important about the protagonist’s conflict. This is the first shot of the Tigers/Giants broadcast of July 2, 2011:
The Angels' halo effect puts them far higher than their expected record yet again.
In a September that appears slated for a dearth of late-season drama, the American League West contains not only the last vestige of a real post-season race-the only one where the underdog has even a 10 percent shot according to our Playoff Odds-but also a bit of potential history, at least from a sabermetric standpoint. Once again, it's the Angels, those anti-sabermetric darlings, making that history.
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Is pinch hitting good or bad? Guest writer Andy Dolphin uses the 2005 Phillies as a point of departure and takes a closer look.
A strong bench would seem to be one of those indispensable elements of a successful team. After all, if you need to generate some offense late in a game, you need players on the bench you can count on. (Not to mention, of course, the need to give players a break and have replacements for injuries. For this article I'm just looking at pinch hitting.)
The 2005 Phillies seemed to have just what they needed, in the form of four quality outfielders: Bobby Abreu (.286/.405/.474) in right, Pat Burrell (.281/.389/.504) in left, and Kenny Lofton (.335/.392/.420) and Jason Michaels (.304/.399/.415) sharing time in center. This must have been a manager's dream, right? Lofton or Michaels on the bench, able to come in and get on base to keep a rally going? Let's see how it worked out.
Adam Riggs gets a well-deserved shot with the Angels. The Braves aim to avoid the mistake made by the '93 Phillies. Neal Cotts could end up being the prize in the Koch-Foulke deal for the White Sox. The Royals and A's designate Febles and Piatt for assignment, drawing mixed reviews. These and other transactions, Chris Kahrl-style, in this edition of Transaction Analysis.
Brad Fullmer's down in Anaheim, setting back the defending champs just that much more; the Indians are beginning their youth-movement; Mike Sweeney is taking some time off in Kansas City just when the Royals need him most; Brandon Claussen finally makes it back after the long road through surgery; and BP favorite Kevin Young gets shown the door in Pittsburgh. All this and much more news from around the league in your Wednesday edition of Transaction Analysis.
Now, more than any time in baseball history, games are won and lost in the
bullpen. As such, more attention has focused on the importance of a good
bullpen as oen significant difference between a playoff team and an
underachieving also-ran. Whether it's explaining the Mariners' inability to
contend despite fielding two of the 50 greatest players in history, or
defining how the Reds are in first place with Steve Avery in the rotation
and Dmitri Young riding the bench, the fortunes of a team's bullpen seem to
dictate the fortunes of the team as a whole.
We recently published the results of a study that looked at whether a good
bullpen could add some sort of synergy to a team's win-loss record above
and beyond the runs that they save, and conversely, whether a collection of
pitchers throwing AckerCurves and WengerTaters would snatch more defeats
from the jaws of victory than the run totals would suggest.
In the study, published at ESPN.com,
we looked at two sets of teams--those with the best bullpens in their league and those with the
worst--and compared the records for those teams with their expected
records, as calculated by the Pythagorean Method.