Thursday, May 28, 2015

Drysdale = Koufax v. RHB

Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale pitcher their entire careers for the Dodgers.  Both started in Brooklyn at age 19.  Both achieved Hall of Fame status in Los Angeles.

Sandy Koufax
Sanford Koufax (The Left Arm of God) 
born Sanford Braun
Position: Pitcher
Bats: Right, Throws: Left 
Height: 6' 2", Weight: 210 lb.
Born: December 30, 1935 in Brooklyn, NY

Debut: June 24, 1955 (Age 19.2)
Last Game: October 2, 1966 (Age 30.3)
Inducted into the Hall of Fame by BBWAA as Player in 1972 (344/396 ballots).


Don Drysdale
Donald Scott Drysdale (Big D or Airedale)
Position: Pitcher
Bats: Right, Throws: Right 
Height: 6' 5", Weight: 190 lb.
Born: July 23, 1936 in Van Nuys, CA

Debut: April 17, 1956 (Age 19.3)
Last Game: August 5, 1969 (Age 33)
Inducted into the Hall of Fame by BBWAA as Player in 1984 (316/403 ballots). 
Died: July 3, 1993 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (Aged 56.4)
Cremated


Koufax was better than Drysdale.  Here's something interesting: against right handed batters (RHB) Drysdale was dead even with Koufax in On Base Plus Slugging (OPS) averages against them by opposing batters.  PA is plate appearances against them.


OPSKoufaxDrysdale
RHB.594.595
LHB.597.711
Tot.594.645
PA9,49714,097
RHB7,4798,023
%RHB78.75%56.91%
%LHB21.25%43.09%

Koufax had no platoon advantage.  Which meant that switch hitters had no advantage against Koufax, I think mainly because Koufax threw overhand.  Drysdale was just the opposite, a tall sidearmer.  Drysdale was really tough on RHB but no tougher than Koufax.

Here is some anecdotal data for six RHB, 3 LHB and one switch hitter.  Frank Robinson and Billy Williams are listed, not (Jackie or Brooks) or Ted, none of whom batted against Koufax or Dyrsdale in the regular season.


OPSKoufaxDrysdale
Mays.962.978
Aaron1.077.925
Banks.599.724
Robinson.879.749
Clemente.905.830
Cepeda.835.559
OPSKoufaxDrysdale
Mathews.788.610
McCovey.4271.117
Williams.758.720
OPSKoufaxDrysdale
Rose.410.816

It looks like Koufax had a bit more trouble against these top hitters.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Matt Harvey and Michael Pineda: shut down like Stephen Strasburg?

Stephen Strasburg was shut down a few years ago so that he would not throw too many innings and pitches too soon in his career.  Will that happen to other pitchers?  For instance. the two leading pitchers in New York in 2015: Met Matt Harvey and Yankee Michael Pineda?

Strasburg has seemed to have generally benefited.  In 2014 Strasburg led the National Conference in starts (34) and strike outs (242), throwing 215 innings.

I am assuming that teams are counting pitches for the season but to keep this simple I'm using innings.

All three pitchers have had arm problems and been shut down.  Harvey missed all of 2014.  Pineda missed 2012 and 2013.  Here are their basic numbers.

StrasburgStrasburgStrasburgHarveyHarveyHarveyPinedaPinedaPineda
YearStartsInnInn/StYearStartsInnInn/StYearStartsInnInn/St
201012685.67
20115244.802011281716.11
2012281595.68201210595.902012
2013301836.102013261786.852013
2014342156.322014201413765.85
20159444.8920159596.5620159586.44

Strasburg has progressed each of the last three years in innings and innings per start.  Harvey and Pineda have pitched more than 76 innings only once each: Harvey 178 in 2013, Pineda 171 in 2011.

If each starts 30 games, that's only one start every 5.4 games.  Supposedly they are scheduled to start every fifth day and as the top starter on their teams they would not be skipped.  30 starts at their current rate of innings per start in 2015 would bring each in a shade under 200 innings.  Who thinks the Mets and Yankees will let them jump to even that many innings for the season?

Here are those numbers.


HarveyHarveyHarveyPinedaPinedaPineda
StartsInnInn/StYearStartsInnInn/St
30196.676.5630193.336.44

The Mets have played 47 games (26-21), the Yankees 46 (24-22).  With 9 starts each they have started about every 5.2 games.

5.2 * 30 = 156

156 is pretty close to the end of the regular season.  This is assuming that the teams allow Harvey and Pineda to approach 200 innings, which would be about 14% more than either has ever thrown in a season.

With the extra wild card introduced in recent seasons a team can be competitive to qualify for the tournament with about 85 wins in the final week of the season.  Both teams will be very tempted to go all out to qualify and sitting their ace when he is needed most will be a hard decision.

If they qualify as a wild card, they may need to play in that extra game.  If rested, the top starting pitcher will start.  If not rested, it's because the top starter has already been stressed.

Then what?  Let's say that the Mets and/or Yankees are ready to play in the opening round.  That's even more innings for Harvey and Pineda.  Do the teams continue to push them?

The Yankees could have a couple of fresh arms coming back from injuries: Masahiro Tanaka and Ivan Nova.  Tanaka played several seasons in his native Japan where he pitched once a week in the regular season.  When Tanaka joined the Yankees in 2014 they started him every fifth day, American style.  Tanaka developed arm trouble, which recurred in 2015.  When Tanaka returns he is likely to be used more as he was in Japan, except the Yankees will not openly state that.

Nova will be returning from major surgery, much as Harvey already has.  The innings and pitch counts for Tanaka and Nova should be modest by normal standards but who knows how they will react.

Old Hoss Radbourne, Hall of Fame
What the New York teams could and probably should have done is what Washington should have done with Strasburg when they knew that he would be limited in innings and pitches.  They should have them report at least two months after the normal start of spring training.  Then be prepared to begin pitching for the big league team about June 1.  That resolves all the issues, including extending them into the tournament.

I'm guessing that the teams know this but that they just don't have the gumption to act on it.  Too bad.  Everyone would be better off.

In fact this type of scheduling could be used as a regular sort of super rotation.  Have starting pitchers begin preparation every two months, with the first wave scheduled to shut down in early August, replaced by fresh arms.

Think about it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mickey Mantle hit homer 500 against the shift.

Mickey Mantle 1967 - 500th Home Run as aired on WPIX-TV, 5/14/1967

I watched this live on TV but I recalled Joe Garagiola's call:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fDyPXn_dgI

Garagiola must have been on radio and I think the Yankees distributed a 45 RPM (revolutions per minute) record of Garagiola saying something like: payoff pitch Miller to Mantle, there she goes.

On this youtube video the announcer is former Yankee second baseman Jerry Coleman.  Watch for yourself.  My comments about the video are below but first let's set the scene.  The 1967 starting Yankees:

RkPosNameAgeGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSOPS+TBGDPHBPSHSFIBB
1CJake Gibbs*28116411374338771425762857.233.291.289.5807610884231
21BMickey Mantle#3514455344063108170225511107113.245.391.434.82514919191057
32BHorace Clarke#27143633588741601703292144264.272.321.316.6379318650302
4SSRuben Amaro311304704173193120117324349.223.297.259.55670108131904
53BCharley Smith2913546442538951539380232110.224.278.336.61485143141436
6LFTom Tresh#2813050944845982331453105086.219.301.377.678104169124330
7CFJoe Pepitone*26133544501451261831364133462.251.301.377.678104189163344
8RFSteve Whitaker*24122472441371071231150252389.243.283.358.6419315863232
The shortstop is the father of the current general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.  Long gone are Yogi Berra and Roger Maris.

Elston Howard, 1963 AL MVP:
Whitey Ford, 1961 CY winner, retired after pitching in seven games.  The final was one week after Mantle's 500th home run:

Sunday, May 21, 1967, Tiger Stadium
Tigers 9, Yankees 4


W: Earl Wilson (5-3)
L: Whitey Ford (2-4)
S: Fred Gladding (6)

HR: H Clarke (1, off E Wilson, 7th inn, 1 on, 1 out to RF); M Mantle (8, off E Wilson, 7th inn, 1 on, 1 out to RF).


PitchingIPHRERBBSOHRERABFGScIRISWPAaLIRE24
Whitey Ford, L (2-4)11111001.64546-0.0730.94-0.6
___________________________

Sunday, May 14, 1967, Yankee Stadium I
Attendance: 18,872, Time of Game: 2:38
Yankees (12-13) 6, Orioles (11-15) 5

HR: J Pepitone (1, off S Miller, 6th inn, 1 on, 2 outs to RF); M Mantle (4, off S Miller, 7th inn, 0 on, 2 outs to RF).


Stu Miller, the third of four Oriole pitchers, gave up Mantle's 500 home run.

1. Coleman mentions that the Yankees will play Cleveland at the Stadium in two days and that the game will start at 8:00 PM.  Can you imagine games starting that late today?

Tuesday, May 16, 1967, Yankee Stadium I
Attendance: 12,405, Time of Game: 3:13
Yankees 4, Indians 3 in 11 innings

Mantle did not homer

That game must have ended about 11:15 PM.

2. The video of Mantle's 500th homer starts with the count already two balls, one strike.

3. Coleman mentions that three Orioles infielders (Mark Belanger SS, Davey Johnson 2B, Boog Powell 1B), whom Coleman names, are on the right side of second and that it would be "hard to get a ground ball between them".  Coleman says that Brooks Robinson is the only infielder on the left side.  You cannot see any infielders up the middle.

4. You can see an outfielder in left center.  When Mantle homers and the camera follows the flight of the ball to right field you can briefly see the three infielders on the right side of second, the center fielder way over in right center and the right fielder, Frank Robinson, in straight away right and back near the warning track.

5. There is no one in left field behind Brooks Robinson.  Mantle could bunt a double through the shortstop hole.  In 1967 Mantle had only one plate appearance that ended with a bunt: single.  In 1966 Mantle was 2 for 7 and in 1968 1 for 10 bunting.  Mantle's bunting days were behind him.  Career: 87 for 165, .527 batting average bunting.  For details, click this link.

Real men bunt ... and hit homers. Monday, May 12, 2014

6. Mantle takes ball three: 3-1.  Mantle then takes an awkward swing and miss: 3-2.  Another awkward swing, foul ball: still 3-2.  Another awkward swing: home run.  Mantle seems to be limping as he runs out his 500th home run, only his fourth of the season.

Mantle does not homer in his next game but then hits one home run in each of his next four games, the last being the first game of a doubleheader in Detroit the following Sunday in Whitey Ford's final game.  In game two Mantle is 0 for 3, plus two walks; Yanks win 6-5.

Shift on Mickey Mantle. Saturday, May 10, 2014