After over 50 years without a no-hitter, Johan Santana finally pitched the Mets to a spot in history.
The Weekend Takeaway
Superstitious baseball fans scream or tweet threats at broadcasters who mention that a no-hitter is in progress for fear that the pastime’s overlords won’t let it stand. Apparently, those same overlords read Craig Glaser’s guest article last Tuesday and decided that the curse should work in reverse, too.
Some 80 hours after the article went up on the Baseball Prospectus homepage, Johan Santana took the mound at Citi Field and threw the first of the 134 pitches he would need to do what no Mets hurler had ever done before. He began with an 88-mph fastball to Rafael Furcal and ended with a 79-mph changeup that fooled David Freese. In two hours and 35 minutes, Santana walked five Cardinals and struck out eight, facing 32 batters without surrendering a hit.
Following up on Chris Heisey, at present there's no real competition for a starting spot, and unless that changes, he should get about 90 percent of the playing time, which would be almost 600 at-bats, given his low walk rate and where he's likely to bat in the lineup. He hasn't been labeled a "proven veteran" yet, so there's always that chance that he could wash out, but Dusty Baker is loyal to players and sticks to his opinions, so it's more important that Heisey impress his manager in spring training than it is for him to post a 1.5 WARP in the first half.
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A writer who never saw Jack Morris pitch watches him in action for the first time and comes away even less convinced that the traditionalist case for his candidacy should earn him a call to Cooperstown.
The Keeper Reaper examines the worthiness of Bruce, Holliday, Span, Revere, Colvin, Blackmon, and Leonys Martin this week
Starting off on a tangent, the Player Forecast Manager has been updated with 2011 final stats, as many have already noted in this blog post: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15322. This is good news for discussing keepers. In fact, for easy reference, here are direct links to the PFM reports for the various league sizes used in Keeper Reaper (note that minimum dollars have been set to $5 so that the reports display faster – this can be extended to include players who had worse 2011 seasons, if desired):
Do early-season phenoms fade once the rest of the league learns to stop giving them pitches to hit?
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.
Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch made the wrong decision in allowing Edwin Jackson to throw 149 pitches during his no-hitter last week.
Evaluating managers from a quantitative standpoint is no small feat. There have certainly been attempts and discussions in the past, but no such framework has ever taken hold of the analytical community and forced its way into our vernacular. It can be easy to suggest that the job consists of little more than penciling names onto a card to hand the umpires or lift tired starting pitchers to insert more effective relievers. These are areas that could potentially be quantified, but they're not the sole responsibilities of a skipper. Even so, sometimes the second of those two aspects of managing can become tricky and less clear-cut.
BP's in-house guru takes his shot at projecting how team's top picks go next week.
1. Washington Nationals: This is now a no-brainer. Over the course of the spring, we've slowly gone from "Will they take Harper?" to "Will they sign Haper?" to "How much will they pay Harper?" He's going No. 1, and you could even end up seeing a creative deal that, on paper, gets him more than Stephen Strasburg received.
Our resident veteran scribe has covered six no-nos in his career and all have had interesting back stories.
Sometimes, the wheel of fortune just seems to keep stopping on your number. Or not. For example, think of Marty Noble, the fine veteran baseball writer who covers the New York Mets these days for MLB.com and who spent years as that team’s beat writer at Newsday. The man has been covering baseball games since he weighed 180 pounds, and one look will tell you that was a long, long time ago. He's covered it all—except a no-hitter. It’s probably safe to say there are lot of veteran baseball writers who have not covered a no-hitter. That’s their loss, for there really is nothing quite like a no-hitter to cover. That was a lesson learned early in a baseball writing career. Real early.
In 1969, I took over the baseball beat at the Cincinnati Enquirer, not knowing what lay ahead, which was, of course, the birth of the Big Red Machine. But that was a year away and there was no way to know that I would cover six no-hitters or that they would come at me before I was ready for them.
SEC, ACC, Big 12 and Big East tourneys will decide national seeds and at-large berth for the NCAAs.
The regular season concluded Sunday in the SEC, ACC, Big East, and Big 12 with their conference tournaments beginning Wednesday. While the weekend's results arguably moved Florida into the upper echelon of the nation's dominant teams- alongside Arizona State, Texas, and Virginia-after the Gators took two of three from South Carolina, the nation's hottest team, four national seeds as well as up to eight regional hosts could be determined during conference tournament play.
Here is a look at how the conference tourneys stack up:
Nate turns his attention to the individual big bonus players from the last decade, and determines whether their teams would do it all over again.
What follows is a comprehensive roster of all players between 1998 and 2006 who were drafted with one of the first 100 selections and who also went for at least $500,000 over slot, considering both their signing bonus and any guaranteed MLB money. I've used the 2006 slot values for all seasons from 2000-2006, as MLB has generally been very successful at containing draft inflation during this period (in fact, the draft slots went down in 2007). The slots do appear to have been a little lower in 1999 and 1998, and so I've scaled those back by five percent and 10 percent respectively, rounding off to the nearest "big" number. I've also indicated those cases where the player's alternative careers in football or basketball could have influenced his signing bonus. Finally, I've posed a simple question: If the team had perfect knowledge of what that player was going to do, would they commit the same money again?