Whether it's an aid or not, there's something else remarkable about an elbow brace.
You don't know Mark Silva, but you know his work. As a certified orthotist, Silva is one of the top builders of custom sports braces for athletes. He's made them for football players in his work with the San Francisco 49ers, and he's made them for baseball players, including Rickey Henderson and Mo Vaughn. It's the brace that Barry Bonds wears while batting that Silva is best known for.
On Monday, an article was published regarding the brace, first at Editor and Publisher (a specialty publication covering the newspaper industry), purporting that the brace worn by Bonds was an illegal aid that helped Bonds hit home runs. The assertions of the author, Michael Witte, were on their surface difficult to believe, but I wanted to know more about this brace. What was it made of? Who made it? Could it possibly help Bonds hit? (I should note here that e-mails to Mr. Witte remain unanswered at the time of publication, and I was unable to find a phone number for him.)
Two different approaches at the plate, and two stacked rotations. Christina has the most in-depth preview of the Athletics-Tigers series you'll find anywhere.
Okay, so it's Cinderella with some serious mojo versus the Moneyball-Meets-John Jaha Memorial Edition A's, and everyone's fascinated because it's another delightfully Yankee- and Red Sox-free American League Championship Series involving real ballclubs and stories more interesting than who gets Connecticut.
Jim cleans up some old business, ponders the all-time greats at second base, and tries to avoid throwing things at the TV set.
\nMathematically, leverage is based on the win expectancy work done by Keith Woolner in BP 2005, and is defined as the change in the probability of winning the game from scoring (or allowing) one additional run in the current game situation divided by the change in probability from scoring\n(or allowing) one run at the start of the game.';
xxxpxxxxx1160158525_18 = 'Adjusted Pitcher Wins. Thorn and Palmers method for calculating a starters value in wins. Included for comparison with SNVA. APW values here calculated using runs instead of earned runs.';
xxxpxxxxx1160158525_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.';
xxxpxxxxx1160158525_20 = 'The number of double play opportunities (defined as less than two outs with runner(s) on first, first and second, or first second and third).';
xxxpxxxxx1160158525_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.';
xxxpxxxxx1160158525_22 = 'Winning percentage. For teams, Win% is determined by dividing wins by games played. For pitchers, Win% is determined by dividing wins by total decisions. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160158525_23 = 'Expected winning percentage for the pitcher, based on how often\na pitcher with the same innings pitched and runs allowed in each individual\ngame earned a win or loss historically in the modern era (1972-present).';
xxxpxxxxx1160158525_24 = 'Attrition Rate is the percent chance that a hitters plate appearances or a pitchers opposing batters faced will decrease by at least 50% relative to his Baseline playing time forecast. Although it is generally a good indicator of the risk of injury, Attrition Rate will also capture seasons in which his playing time decreases due to poor performance or managerial decisions. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160158525_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).';
xxxpxxxxx1160158525_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.';
xxxpxxxxx1160158525_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.';
xxxpxxxxx1160158525_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.';
xxxpxxxxx1160158525_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.';
xxxpxxxxx1160158525_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.';
xxxpxxxxx1160158525_31 = 'The Baseline forecast, although it does not appear here, is a crucial intermediate step in creating a players forecast. The Baseline developed based on the players previous three seasons of performance. Both major league and (translated) minor league performances are considered.
The Baseball Writers of America's standards on what constitute a Hall of Fame pitcher are in a curious spot now, both when it comes to starters and relievers. Spoiled by a group of contemporaries who won 300 games from the mid-'60s to the mid-'80s (Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Gaylord Perry, Don Sutton, Nolan Ryan, Phil Niekro), the writers haven't elected a non-300-winning starter since Fergie Jenkins in 1991. That Perry, Sutton and Niekro took a combined 13 ballots to reach the Hall while Ryan waltzed in on his first ballot with the all-time highest percentage of votes is even more puzzling. Apparently what impresses the BBWAA can be summarized as "Just Wins, Baby"--which is bad news for every active pitcher this side of Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux.
Of the 59 enshrined pitchers with major-league experience, only two of them--Hoyt Wilhelm and Rollie Fingers--are in Cooperstown for what they accomplished as relievers. While the standards for starters are somewhat easy to discern (if lately a bit unrealistic), the growing number of quality relievers on the ballot, the continuous evolution of the relief role, and the paucity of standards to measure them by present some interesting challenges to voters.
If there's an area in which performance analysis has struggled mightily against mainstream baseball thought, it's in hammering home the concept that the pitcher doesn't have as much control over the outcome of ballgames--as reflected in his Won-Loss totals--or even individual at-bats--hits on balls in play--as he's generally given credit for. Good run support and good defense can make big winners of mediocre pitchers on good teams, and .500 pitchers of good hurlers on mediocre teams. As such, it's important to examine the things over which a pitcher has control and account for those he does not. Once again, the Davenport system rides to the rescue.
[Note: The research for this piece, and much of the writing, was done prior to the Hall of Fame voting results being announced.]
The White Sox begin the summer trading season with a bang; the Reds make a great acquisition in D'Angelo Jimenez; Josh Beckett is unleashed from the DL in Florida; and the Royals take a flyer on a man named Gookie (remember him?). All this and much more news from around the league in your Wednesday edition of Transaction Analysis.