Apparently not destiny, meaning we get another post-season with quality time in their dome home.
Sometimes, being both a fan and an analyst creates a conflict. For me, that has usually centered around my desire to be a credible writer and my lifelong love affair with the New York Yankees. This played out on these pages all through last year, the final season of the old Yankee Stadium, in moments such as the All-Star Game, where I wanted badly to cheer Mariano Rivera but couldn't because I was in the role of professional in that moment.
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Before all the IBA ballots are counted, staff picks give a hint as to what hands the awards may find themselves in.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Travis Hafner posted the highest OBP in the AL while nobody noticed, while Neifi Perez ended up getting playoff PT. The young guns had their day and then some. Jermaine Dye gave a lengthy spanking to his 90th percentile PECOTA projection (PECOTA's .288/.359/.516 versus an actual .315/.385/.622). The crop of AL rookies included a guy with a 0.92 ERA finishing third, and rooks like Jered Weaver (105:33 K:BB) and Francisco Liriano (144:32) threatening to be Johan Santana's biggest challengers in 2007. The National League featured tighter races, including a four-way brawl for the Pitcher of the Year and another impressive crop of newbies.
Eight staff members weighed in on the season that was, casting their ballots for the Internet Baseball Awards. We summarized their findings below, and then let them have their individual say.
Jay suffers the exquisite torture of a Jeff Weaver-Kenny Rogers duel in Game Two of the World Series. Go along for a sometimes rocky but always informative ride.
From the second inning through the eighth, Anthony Reyes faced just one hitter over the minimum (a seventh-inning single by Carlos Guillen), retiring 17 batters in order and finishing the frame in 10 pitches or less five times. Ten of those 22 plate appearances ran just one or two pitches, and overall, Tiger hitters saw just 3.14 pitches per plate appearance against him. That's not a recipe for a productive approach at the plate. A simple matter of rust, or a reversion to the team's hacktastic regular-season approach? Tonight should provide us with more insight into that. It also, of course, provides us with an even more compelling storyline, what this Yankee fan will call the I [Heart] NY matchup between two Bronx busts, Kenny Rogers and Jeff Weaver.
One of the more unlikely scenarios three weeks ago comes to fruition, as the Cardinals and Tigers meet for all the marbles.
Not that this World Series is without its own compelling angles. For two teams that neither play in the same league nor share any obvious geographic connection, the Cardinals and Tigers have a fair amount of shared history. Detroit and St. Louis have tended to rise and fall together, both as cities and as baseball clubs, and this becomes one of a bare handful of World Series matchups that have occurred at least three times and haven't involved the Yankees:
The death of Cory Lidle cast a pall over the League Championship Series, but baseball marches on.
\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.';
xxxpxxxxx1160675929_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.';
xxxpxxxxx1160675929_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.';
xxxpxxxxx1160675929_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).';
xxxpxxxxx1160675929_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.';
xxxpxxxxx1160675929_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. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160675929_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).';
xxxpxxxxx1160675929_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. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160675929_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).';
xxxpxxxxx1160675929_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.';
xxxpxxxxx1160675929_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.';
xxxpxxxxx1160675929_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.';
xxxpxxxxx1160675929_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.';
xxxpxxxxx1160675929_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.';
xxxpxxxxx1160675929_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.
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.
Picking up where he left off yesterday, Rany continues his dissection of the 2006 Detroit Tigers.
A month after nabbing their franchise shortstop, the Tigers signed a franchise catcher, Ivan Rodriguez. On the surface, this made all kinds of sense; it's not often you get the opportunity to sign a surefire Hall of Famer who just turned 32. On the other hand, catchers age quickly, and Rodriguez caught more games (1564) before his 32nd birthday than anyone other than Johnny Bench, who was finished as a catcher by the time he turned 33 and was finished as a ballplayer when he was 35. While Rodriguez's 4-year, $40 million deal was eminently reasonable, it still represented a gamble in that it was likely the Tigers would never be competitive enough during the life of the contract to make the addition of Rodriguez meaningful.
Who knew that Jason Grimsley would be the star for an entire week of news cycles? We get a few perspectives on his situation, plus a look at managing and the effects of struggling.
"I am deeply saddened whenever there is an allegation that a Major League Baseball player is involved in the use of performance-enhancing substances. Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, I will not make any comment about this specific case. As a general matter, however, I urge everyone associated with Major League Baseball--from the players to the union to the owners--to cooperate with the ongoing investigations by the Federal government and by former Senator George Mitchell."
--MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, responding to the Grimsley situation (MLB.com)
Christina has some thoughts on managers in general, and how five new managers may impact their club's chances in 2006.
One of the most interesting periods in a team's construction and development is that moment when a new manager takes over a ballclub. Although most new guys are always going to be selected to serve as the factotum of the club's general manager, some new managers are placed in the position to make decisions which fundamentally change the fortunes of the team and the players. Certainly, one of the most interesting periods in a fan's experience is getting to watch what happens to your team when a new manager comes in. Approaching the talent on hand with a fresh set of eyes, he goes to work on deciding who's going to play, who isn't, and who's on the way out.
It's particularly interesting watching to see which players end up making good impressions on the new boss. While stathead orthodoxy might insist on some of sort of performance evaluation-minded determinism, as much as performance matters, so do first impressions and fresh starts. There's nothing like a camp with a new manager for out-of-nowhere success stories, for organizational soldiers or minor league veterans who suddenly break through, and for opportunities given to players who were previously typecast, pigeonholed, or simply overlooked. A new manager has no particular loyalties: most of these guys haven't done anything for him before, if ever.