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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

MLB.TV

MLB.TV can be viewed live on new iPad | MLB.com: News 1. What about non-Apple computer products? For instance there is no mention of the Google Android Operating System. 2. How does the stupid blackout rule work? MLB does not seem to understand that people really want this so that they can watch their home team when they are away from home. Depriving fans of watching their home team when the fan travels provides is no benefit to the team designated to "own" the geographic area being visited. 3. How does this relate to "MLB Extra Innings", the 80 game a week premium package that subscribers can get from companies like Cablevision? Strangely, I could find no mention of "MLB Extra Innings" on the MLB web site. See: http://www.optimum.com/io/sports/mlb.jsp The stupid blackout rule also applies. See "MLB Extra Innings Blackout Restrictions". MLB has cut a deal with Apple Computers for its brand new Tablet product but MLB cannot grapple with the concept of uniform playing areas. Argh!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Adapt an old rule: make the home run distance uniform!

1885 - Grounds/Fence: "A fair batted ball that goes over the fence at a distance less than 210 feet from home base shall entitle the batsmen to two bases. A distinctive line shall be marked on the fence at this point." Hey, perfect! Just like I've been saying. It's not too late to fix the home run distance. Just make the distance 380 feet and bring back the old rule. And, of course, bring in the fences where they are further than 380 feet. Cool! What would traditionalists say to that?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

How Would Integration Have Affected Ruth and Cobb?

A friend sent this link to me yesterday: http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/story/2007/8/30/11190/7401 Interesting.

I had already addressed this issue anecdotally before reading the above article: FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2009 Babe Ruth never batted against Satchel Paige. Neither did Jackie Robinson.

I just ran a query: Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1947 to 2009, (requiring At least 1000 Innings Pitched), sorted by greatest Adjusted ERA+ I got 660 hits. The author, Cyril Morong, went through all of them and classified them by race? Of the top 25, There are these dark skinned pitchers: 1. Rivera 1,090 IP 2. Martinez 6. Santana 18. Lee Smith 1,289 IP 20. Roberto Hernandez 1,021 IP 24. Bob Gibson Two American born blacks, only one starter. It is unclear whether Morong weighted ERA+ by innings or simply made an average per pitcher. Morong ignores IPHR and bounced HR: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tOe_VyFeBI35duZC34dH5ow&output=html

Even if Morong's numbers are correct the real question is whether Cobb and Ruth would still be on top. Obviously, they would unless a black batter did better and that is really difficult to prove.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/mvp_cya.shtml

Glance through CY winners and look for American born blacks. Sabathia, Gooden,, Gibson (2), Blue, Newcombe: six. Without the seven Hispanics in recent years there's not much impact: Martinez (3), Colon, Santana, Hernandez, Valenzuela. Plus, Canadian Jenkins: eight. Of 98 winners (one from 1956-1966, then one in each league plus an AL tie), that's about 7% for each group, a total of about 14.2%. What was the American born percent of the population that was black? Probably about 12.5%.

How about MVP? Let's start in 1949 when Jackie Robinson became the first black to win the MVP. Elston Howard was the first black to be AL MVP (1963). From 1949 through 2009 there have been 61 MVP winners in each league plus an NL tie in 1979: total 123. I broke it down by league because the AL integrated more slowly. AL black 61 12 19.7% AL Hispanic 61 10 16.4% NL black 62 33 53.2% NL Hispanic 62 6 9.7% Plus, there was one Asian winner: Ichiro Suzuki. American born MVP who were not black: 123 60 48.8% These numbers include pitchers who were MVP. Let's look at them separately. AL had 7 MVP pitchers since 1949, including one black, one Hispanic. NL 4: including two blacks. Of the 11 MVP pitchers, 63.6% were American born players who were not black. Sixty of 123 MVP awards were won by American born players who were not black. That's 48.8% For non pitchers: 112 53 47.3%.

Clearly there is a big difference between the impact of pitchers and non-pitchers among dark skinned star players who probably would have been banned. Dark skinned stars who were non-pitchers have had far more impact. Why? I still don't know. Finally, how many foreign born Hispanics would have played 100 years ago? If you include them, then what do you make of fact that 28% of MLB players in 2009 were foreign born? How many MLB players in the Cobb and Ruth years would have played in the NFL and NBA, which started in 1947, if those leagues had been viable options? Or gone into pro golf, tennis, track and field, ...? After a point it becomes silly.

Friday, January 22, 2010

WHIP and H/IP actaully make sense ... for old time pitchers.

I have been critical of pitcher specific stats like: WHIP: Walks + Hits per Innings Pitched (IP). I had thought that this is On Base Average. It is not because innings include credit for outs on base: DP, CS, etc. Same for Hits / 9 Innings Pitched, which is not the same as BA.

For pitchers for whom there is play by play data, WHIP can be replaced with On Base Average and H/IP with Batting Average. It works for Bob Gibson but not for Christy Mathewson because there is not yet play by play data for Mathewson.

I do have a questions about BAbip (BA for Balls in Play). This stat is available for Gibson but not Mathewson. The equation is: (Hits - Home Runs) / (AB - HR - SO + SF)

1. Why not also add Sac bunts to the denominator?
2. Why not subtract from Home Runs: Inside the Park HR and Bounced HR (from the old rule)?

Hall of Fame: why elect ANY pitchers?

I have long held that relief pitchers not be elected to the Hall of Fame because they are part time players, like pinch hitters. Some of the recent criticism of Mark McGwire as a one dimensional player caused me to consider that pitchers are never judged on anything other than their ability to throw. If McGwire is not a five tool player, how many players already in the Hall of Fame, especially pitchers, are? The five tools are: hit, hit with power, run, field, throw. Willie Mays is the quintessential five tool player. Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, you get the idea. Harmon Killebrew, Ralph Kiner, ... are one tool players, like McGwire.

But what of pitchers? How many tools were possessed by Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax? Some pitchers could field well: Whitey Ford. Some could also run well: Bob Gibson. But other than Babe Ruth, who was not elected to the Hall of Fame as a pitcher, who could hit well? No, not hit well for a pitcher, hit well for a ball player? More to my original point, almost all pitchers are part time players. Charley "Old Hoss" Radbourn pitched in most of his team games in several seasons but that is extremely rare.

Why should any pitchers be considered for eligibility to the Hall of Fame? Starters pitch in less than 25% of their team games. 162 games multiplied by 9 innings equals 1,458 innings. A player should appear in at least 80% to be considered full time. If a pitcher throws in 200 innings he appears in about 14% of his team's innings. A modern iron man throwing about 300 innings would be in about 20%. You may think that the pitcher is doing much more than players at other positions. If the pitcher is striking out most of the batters that he faces, I might agree. However, those other players are retiring the batters who hit the ball. Why should the pitcher get credit for retiring all those batters who do not strike out?

4,374 (1,458 innings * 3 outs) are retired in 162 nine inning games. Let's ignore minor anomalies like the bottom of the ninth when the home team leads and extra innings. If a pitcher strikes out 200 batters he is retiring 4.5%. 300 strike outs: 6.85%. In 2009 Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter had 206 put outs and 340 assists. Jeter was involved in about 37% of the outs recorded by the Yankees. Plus, he created 123 runs with his batting. The Yankee's ace starter CC Sabathia struck out 230 batters, 5.25% of the outs recorded by the Yankees. Sabathia had 3 put outs and 28 assists. Sabathia created zero runs batting. Jeter plays full time. Sabathia plays part time. Part time players should not be considered for the Hall of Fame.

Monday, January 18, 2010

McGwire and irrational thought.

See:

SATURDAY, MAY 9, 2009 MLB should allow performance enhancing stuff. _________________________________________

Last week Mark McGwire announced that he had used steroids and human growth hormones, mostly late in his career. Of course, the baseball media and some incredibly old fart fans became irrational about this. Ho hum. I watched Bob Costas interview McGwire for an hour on the MLB network. Costas is a worse interviewer than I had thought. He failed to follow up and eventually let his St. Louis residence influence him into consoling the crying McGwire. Among other things McGwire stated that he had called the widow of Roger Maris whose single season home run record McGwire broke in 1998. If McGwire did nothing wrong as he claimed then why did he feel guilty toward the widow Maris? He would be more sympathetic and less pathetic if he had a personality and some spine. Why the heck was he crying so much during that interview?  Did he make his announcement because he replaced Hal McRae as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals for the 2010 season? Enough on the cry baby McGwire.

The big point that Costas and the rest of the unimaginative media missed in that interview was that McGwire stated that his attorneys sought and failed to get immunity from the Congressional committee and that committee chairman Waxman and minority leader Davis both reached an understanding with McGwire's attorneys that McGwire would not explicitly assert his fifth amendment rights but would repeat the incredibly wimpy "I am not here to talk about the past". The other committee members did not appear to have been briefed on this. At the time I was outraged that none of them insisted that McGwire take the fifth or be held in contempt of Congress. McGwire's announcement came shortly after the sports writers made their most recent mistake by electing Andre Dawson to the Hall of Fame. Naturally, McGwire's measly 23% vote in that election (75% is required) became the focus of discussions about McGwire.

There is no more deadly combination for unleashing an explosion of irrational thought in sports than steroid use by a home run hitter and election to the Hall of Fame. It makes spirits rise from the dead to join in. The case against McGwire being elected to the Hall of Fame is basically: he's not a Hall of Famer, he's not, he's not! The case for McGwire being elected to the Hall of Fame is just a bunch of stinky old facts.

Some people seem to really hate McGwire aside from his steroid use. He is accused of being, not a specialist, but of being one dimensional. OoooooH. Maybe like Hall of Famers Harmon Killebrew and Ralph Kiner?

The main case against McGwire seems based on low batting average (BA): .263 career. After all these years it's the same thing that was held against Roger Maris in 1961 when he broke Babe Ruth's record. Roger batted only .269. McGwire actually batted .299 in 1998 when he broke Maris's record. McGwire hit 245 home runs from 1996 through 1999, an average of 61 for each of four seasons, something that had never been approached. The gaudiness of both the number and distance of McGwire's homers troubles many. Had he been more modest in his accomplishments maybe he would be less ridiculed.

What if he had hit 235 homers and averaged only a slightly less gaudy 59 homers and not ever broken the record? Would his sins be less egregious? What if McGwire had averaged 41 homers over those four seasons? That's twenty fewer per season and certainly a reasonable feat for a batter who holds the rookie record of 49. That would be 80 fewer. Would that be enough of a steroid penalty to satisfy the zealots who are without sin? That would leave McGwire with 503 home runs. Would that be enough to get him, a one dimensional player, into the Hall of Fame?

Before you dismiss this notion consider Fred McGriff.  McGriff hit 493 home runs. If McGriff had McGwire's 503, McGriff would be elected to the Hall of Fame despite having OPS+ 134, tied at number 114 with non deserving Hall of Famers Al Kaline, Joe Medwick and Paul Waner who were more dimensional than McGriff. McGwire's OPS+ 172 is number 12. 7,660 PA. 1,596 SO. Ralph Kiner's OPS+ 149 is number 34. 6,256 PA. Harmon Killebrew's OPS+ 143 is number 51. 9,831 PA. 1,699 SO.

Most homers in a season: McGwire 70, Kiner 54, Killebrew 49, McGriff 37. What if McGwire hit ten percent fewer homers in his best season? That would give him 63. Would his record have more or less validity? Steroids and HGH help add muscle mass, which helps the batter hit the ball further. McGwire was already capable of hitting the ball a long way. How much further would the steroids make the ball go? There are physical limits. What's the difference if a home run travels 450 feet or 420 feet? It's still one and only one home run. How many homers do you recall McGwire hitting that barely cleared the wall in 1998 and may have been steroid assisted? I recall one, maybe number 62, I do not recall the number. How many other "cheap" home runs do you recall McGwire hitting from 1996 through 1999? If the answer is few, then why all the fuss?

During those seasons McGwire was making more contact than his .263 career BA: 1996 .312 1997 .274 1998 .299 1999 .278 Maybe he had become a more mature hitter as he claims. He certainly appeared to be locked in. McGwire was 34 when he had his career high in home runs. Both Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron were 37. Aaron was also 37 for his career highs in slugging (second best 39), OPS (second best 39) and OPS+. You can improve with age.

I don't particularly like Mark McGwire, in part because he was one dimensional, but I like irrational thought even less, especially in the form of a witch hunt. It is still mistakenly thought by many that an asterisk had been attached to Roger Maris' home run record because the season had increased from 154 to 162 games. The records were simply listed separately. Are we now to add a real asterisk to taint Mark McGwire's record? And Barry Bonds, too? How tacky. Why not just celebrate? It was fun watching them do it. Why spoil it now? Remember, many pitchers used, too.