Finding out what happens when you project people to be slightly different from the way they are.
Stress tests are not just for cardiac patients and big failing banks: we can also apply them to baseball players. What if Tiny Tim Lincecum were really Tall Tim Lincecum? What if Albert Pujols was older than purported? What if we took a right-handed pitcher and magically turned him into a lefty?
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The future Hall of Famer is slinging for his supper in the WBC, but does he have something more left to offer?
When Pedro Martinez toed his home rubber to kick off the 1999 All-Star Game, fans across the globe knew they were in for a special performance. The game's best pitcher had breezed through the offense-heavy junior circuit in the first half, compiling a 2.10 ERA, 184/24 K:BB, and a Rafael Belliard-esque .213/.254/.292 opponent's line. On national television against some of the best hitters in the game, Pedro did not disappoint, fanning five of the six hitters he faced, and making each look foolish in the process. That image of Martinez is ingrained in our minds: a dominant and diminutive Dominican capable of shutting down and intimidating anyone who stepped into the box.
Will the new-look Marlins ace use a new repertoire to play Met-killer today?
Heading into the 2007 season, the Marlins looked to have a bright future in their rotation, as four of their five starters from the previous campaign were coming off of successful rookie seasons. While things overall have not worked out the way many expected for the quartet, one of the four, Ricky Nolasco, has hit his stride this year to become a better pitcher than many thought he could be. What changed for the now 25-year-old starter, and can we expect him to be the ace that Florida's rotation needs to compete in a tough division?
The Blue Jays piecher and his pitching coach discuss his broad arsenal of pitches and the challenges of creating a gameplan with so many options.
Jesse Litsch is a man of few words and many pitches. A 23-year-old right-hander, Litsch has quietly emerged as a dependable member of the Blue Jays' starting rotation, relying on an ability to throw strikes and induce ground balls. Litsch began last season in Double-A, but by season's end had established himself in the big leagues by posting a 3.87 ERA in 111 innings. David talked to Litsch--and to Toronto pitching coach Brad Arnsberg--about Litsch's repertoire and approach on the mound.
The Cards' VP of amateur scouting and development talks about the state of his system, evaluating some of his players, and more.
Jeff Luhnow is the St. Louis Cardinals' vice president of amateur scouting and player development, a dual position that he has held since September, 2006. A 41-year-old graduate of the Wharton School of Business who earned an MBA from Northwestern University, Luhnow joined the Cardinals organization in 2003. David talked to Luhnow about the analytical approach he brings to the St. Louis front office and some of the organization's most promising young prospects.
Two pairs of veteran hurlers hooked up in the second set of doubleheaders, as the Caribbean teams moved a step closer to crowning a champion.
Saturday, when I first installed myself in the Estadio Cibao press box, something peculiar happened: a waiter came around offering everyone rum and cokes. Now, that itself isn't peculiar-thanks to Dominican rules of hospitality, you're constantly being offered food and drink. You fly into the capital city's airport and virtually the first thing that happens when you get off the plane is that someone offers you a rum and coke…even if your plane lands at 10:00 AM. So after the initial gesture I was again surprised when my press colleagues started passing around ice-cold cans of Presidente, the more famous of the various local beers. That raised an eyebrow. Then, an hour or so later, the rum and coke waiter came by again. Offer free booze once, and drinking's condoned, in a hush-hush, we-won't-tell-if-you-don't way; offer wait-service drinks regularly, and drinking's encouraged-in fact, it becomes a functioning open bar. I'm no great expert on press boxes-so far, I haven't been allowed to ply my trade in any of the major league variety-but I sense that this is unusual. Special, even.
There's a festive atmosphere here that's unique, or at least not stamped from the same stoic North American baseball mold. In the stands there's dancing between innings, and it's expected that you'll dance even if your team is getting trounced (a slightly different version of "There's no crying in baseball"). Both Dominican teams bring out their cheerleaders to dance on the roofs of their dugouts every few innings, and all four teams (to the delight of at least one of my colleagues' children) have mascots. That's not so alien to our thought. But then there's the Mexican contingent, who combine their love of baseball with a love of dress-up that's reminiscent of a Star Trek convention. There's a handful of the costumed partygoers who are members of the Mexican team's entourage, as evidenced by their constant dancing on the team's dugout roof, and, yesterday, an impromptu demonstration of masked Mexican professional wrestling. But others seem to have a wrestling mask, or a giant sombrero, or an Aztec priest outfit just lying in the closet, waiting for moments like these.
With his durability and relative reliability, the only question John Lackey needs to answer is how he'll do facing top offenses in October.
For the last four seasons, John Lackey has been one of the better pitchers in the American League. Nevertheless, you rarely hear his name from the mainstream media, and that's while teammates like Bartolo Colon undeservedly collect some of the praise Lackey's due. However, despite Lackey's consistent success--as measured by both traditional and more advanced pitching statistics--he does have his problems.
After digging through this data, you'll no longer wonder why they say hitting is the hardest thing to do in sports.
"In the last few feet before the plate, the ball reaches an angular velocity that exceeds the ability of the eye to track the ball. The best hitters can track the ball to within five or six feet of the plate." --Ken Fuld, visual psychophysicist, quoted on Live Science.com
Sitting down to talk about pitching with the Royals rotation regular.
Brian Bannister is a thinking man's pitcher. Known more for his guile and pitching acumen than for his stuff, the 26-year-old right-hander has established himself as a mainstay in the Royals starting rotation in his first full major league season. Originally a seventh-round pick by the Mets in 2003, Bannister was acquired from them last December in exchange for reliever Ambiorix Burgos. The son of former big league pitcher Floyd Bannister, the USC product has started 17 games for Kansas City and is 7-6, 3.45 in 107 innings.
Is it there, or isn't it? Dan dives into Dice-K's data to find out.
"Hmm. How should I answer that question? I knew this question was coming today. And I was preparing some optional answers for this particular question. Should I say, 'I have that ball?' Or I could say, 'Which particular ball are you referring to?' Or 'Which ball are you calling a gyroball?' Overall, if I have the chance, I will pitch that ball."
--Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, answering a reporter's question during his first press conference after arriving in Fort Myers for spring training.
Popping the hood on King Felix as a demonstration of what's possible with PITCHf/x data
"Hell, yeah, I want to throw that pitch. They don't let me, though. They tell me I'm too young, that it's bad for my elbow. I told them I want to throw it."
--Felix Hernandeztalking about his slider before the 2006 season
Dan uses MLBAM data to reconstruct the no-hitter that wasn't.
"We are approaching a new age of synthesis. Knowledge cannot be merely a degree or a skill... it demands a broader vision, capabilities in critical thinking and logical deduction without which we cannot have constructive progress."
--Li Ka Shing