Silicone. Margarine. O’Doul’s. Why fool around with watered-down imitations when you’ve got the real thing ready and available?
Rightly or wrongly, a lot of attention has been focused on pitch counts in the past several years. That’s partly because of the efforts of people like Rob Neyer, Keith Woolner, and Will Carroll, not to mention those coaches, executives and agents who understand the importance of protecting their golden-armed investments. Pitch counts have become easy to take for granted because pitch count data is more readily available now than it ever was in the past. These days, just about any self-respecting box score lists pitch counts alongside the rest of a pitcher’s line, a far cry from the dirty newsprint days of yore, when pitch count references were about as common as mentions of Reality TV or the Information Superhighway.
But what about when you don’t have pitch count information available? Like, say, you’re at a ballgame, and wondering whether Dusty Baker should send Kerry Wood out for another inning? Or you’re perusing through minor league stats? Or you’re looking at old boxes on Retrosheet, which wonderful as they might be (this, folks, was the first game I ever attended), don’t contain any information on pitch counts?
Well, it turns out that it’s not that difficult to make a reasonable guess at pitch counts based on other information that’s much easier to come by. Looking at a complete set of data from the 2001 and 2002 seasons as provided by Keith Woolner, I ran a simple linear regression of pitches thrown against various other characteristics of a pitcher’s stat line. Here was the formula that I came up with:
The Mets’ season already looks like a mess, though Jose Reyes, Aaron Heilman, and yes, even Ty Wigginton could brighten the picture. Jose Jimenez has gone from solid, unheralded reliever to arsonist; Shawn Chacon has gone from arsonist to early ace. The Orioles are bad at the big-league level, bad at the minor-league level, and may finally start to feel the economic pinch too.
Jimmy Anderson proves yet again that he’s Triple-A fodder, Dean Palmer’s three years past being a lost cause, the division-leading Royals get Beltran back, and Johnny Estrada takes a swig of Mr. PIBBB.
Normally, I open light and breezy. I talk about coffee, beer, or even the heavy stuff (NyQuil–and I’m feeling much better, thank you). UTK is my way of talking to a bunch of people all at once, and anyone who’s met me knows that I talk and talk and talk. Today, however, I’m going to say that Tony Gwynn is as full of crap as Jose Canseco or Ken Caminiti, and simply leave it at that.
The word “steroids” is becoming de facto shorthand for performance enhancing drugs, both legal and illegal. It’s also becoming de facto way for lazy journalists to point at a game and players they’ve come to loathe and besmirch it with an air of community service. Buster Olney is a really good writer (with a very interesting interview over at Bronx Banter), but he’s fallen into the same trap as many before him: Find an ex-player with an agenda, find someone within the game willing to back him up for an unquestioned reason, and play at public perceptions that baseball players really aren’t more talented than you or me–they’re just on drugs.