I have seen the future, and its name is FIELDf/x. OK, so we kind of knew that. But today, FIELDf/x started to seem a lot more real, and even more exciting than I’d imagined. You may have noticed that BP had a man on the scene at Sportvision’s PITCHf/x summit whose liveblog was actually live. So why am I doing this, when Colin already did? Well, for one thing, Colin arrived fashionably late, and I was all over those first 14 minutes that he missed. For another, his computer died before a lot of the fun started. And for still another (this is a third reason, now), I thought it might be fun to do a Simmons-style quasi-liveblog (written live, published later) that would free me from worries about frequent updates, and allow me to write at length. Most likely that length turned out to be a good deal longer than anyone has any interest in reading, but if you’re determined to catch up on the day’s intriguing events without sitting through eight hours of archived video, you’re welcome to peruse what lies below. If you’d like to follow along, here’s an agenda, and here’s where you should be able to find downloadable presentations in the near future.
Here we are in sunny California, home of the cutest girls in the world, if the Beach Boys are to be believed (I gather there’s also a more recent chart-topper that expresses a similar view). Okay, so by “we,” I mean the attendees at the 3rd (annual?) Sportvision PITCHf/x summit, held at the Westin San Francisco in—you guessed it—San Francisco. I, on the other hand, am watching from the other end of the continent, via a webcast that dubiously claims to be “hi-res,” despite being blurry enough to make deciphering text an adventure (I guess “hi-res” is relative, in the sense that there are even lower resolutions at which it could’ve been streamed). And sure, maybe the Beach Boys weren’t thinking of this particular gathering when they extolled the virtues of California’s beach bunnies. But never mind that—it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon here in New York, and how better to spend it than to watch a video of some fellow nerds talk about baseball in a dark room some 3,000 miles away? Well, to describe the experience at the same time, of course. Let’s get this quasi-liveblog started.
Matchup: National League (103-149) at American League (149-103), 8:00 p.m. ET, FOX Probable Starters: Ben Sheets (123 IP, 2.93 RA, 1.11 WHIP, 108 K) vs. Cliff Lee (124 2/3, 2.45, 1.04, 106) Pythagorean Record: NL, 100-152 (1014 RS, 1249 RA); AL, 152-100 (1249 RS, 1014 RA)
Rankings: NL, #2; AL, #1 Prospectus: Tonight the two leagues meet for the fourth and final time in the House that Ruth Built. This year's All-Star Game features 28 first-timers who will participate in the last midsummer classic to ever be hosted at the old Bronx baseball cathedral. Playing on home turf, the American League will attempt to lengthen its reign over the senior circuit. In the last 11 years, the AL has beaten the NL 10 times-the lone exception being 2002's 7-7 tie, which prompted the slogan "this one counts," and begat the controversial decision to award the winning league with home-field advantage in the World Series. The most recent National League victory came on July 6 of 1996, when both Ken Caminiti and Mike Piazza homered in a 6-0 win. In each of the last two seasons the AL has edged the NL by a single run, winning 3-2 in 2006 on Michael Young's two-run triple in the top of the ninth, and 5-4 last year. The NL has won the last two games at Yankee Stadium, however, held in 1977 and 1960 (the inaugural Bronx matchup in 1939 went to the AL), and still leads the all-time series by a tally of 40-36-2 over the AL, thanks primarily to streaks of 11 straight wins from 1972-82 and eight straight from 1963-70.
Progress in the pro game doesn't mean there isn't work to be done in the amateur ranks, plus hurts and healing around MLB.
Time flies, but sometimes the story remains the same. Four years ago, I wrote an article that detailed an exceptionally high pitch count game by an Indianapolis-area high school pitcher named Lance Lynn. Lynn came out of that game with a sore arm, missed some time, but went on to help his team win the state title and then went on to college. Nowadays, Lynn is expected to go in the first or sandwich round of next week's draft. Lynn is still racking up some high pitch counts at Ole Miss, but nothing like he did in high school. Boyd Nation, who watches pitch counts in college baseball as one of his many admirable areas of interest, has Lynn's single-game high this season at 121. Lynn is a couple of years older, hasn't had arm problems, and has seemingly earned that high slot. If I'm a scouting director watching him, I'd have to wonder a bit about the past usage (and his falling off to the first base side) before I risk such a high pick on him, but he's hardly alone, just an example. As you can see on Nation's list, starts with pitch counts in the 140s happen regularly in college baseball, and can go as high as the 170s. Not a week goes by that I don't get sent an article about some high school pitcher throwing over 150 pitches, and too often I get a note from a parent telling me about kids-12 or 13 years old-throwing insane workloads, such as both sides of a double-header. (Little League pitch counts haven't helped, you ask? Sure they have, but they've also driven many to the more cavalier travel teams.) Some make it through, like Lynn, and some don't, like another Indy-area pitcher, Garrett Berger. I wish Lance Lynn all the luck in the world as he finishes his college career and starts his professional one. I just hope I don't have to write this kind of article in another four years.
Today's suggested swap? Making Joe Nathan a Tiger, and what it might take to make it so.
What follows is a little something I like to call the "Mock Stove League." Allow me to explain--I'm proposing a trade of the blockbuster variety, one that, from my remove makes sense for all teams involved. In terms of tenability, it depends; these are deals that may or may not have a chance of happening in the demonstrably more complicated world of reality. From the remove from which I make this suggestion, though, the deals I'm suggesting strike me as helpful and inspiring for all. So, serious prescriptive or idle daydreaming? A little helping of both, please.
James tackles the divide between the way the mainstream media values relievers, and the way more advanced metrics do.
In his discussion of the likely NL MVP race shaping up, Joe Sheehan pointed out that if you look at the most prominent contenders--Derrek Lee, Albert Pujols, and Andruw Jones--Lee distances himself from the field in WARP by a vast margin. Looking at the traditional stats, Lee leads the league in batting average, Jones leads in home runs and RBI, and Pujols is second, third and second in those categories, respectively. It's easy to see why those three would be the favorites headed into the final month of the season.
I was at Safeco Field on Tuesday, watching a fast-moving game that was on pace to wrap up 3-2 Mariners in about two and a half hours, and ended up with one of the longest, craziest games I've ever attended.
I scored this game. I've been working on an article about scoring and finding a good card to match your style, and thought I'd finally settled on one. This game, of course, became the torture-test for a scorecard: