Monday, December 26, 2011

Defensive stats: more disconnect - MLB gibby awards.

MLB gibby awards for best defensive player:

Here are the top five MLB gibby awards with their percent share of MLB votes and dWAR (defensive Wins Above Replacement in 2011)

Asdrubal Cabrera, SS    27%    -.7
Brandon Phillips, 2B    18.2%    .1
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF    17%    .4
Brett Gardner, LF    13.7%    3.2
Mark Teixeira, 1B    6.8%    -.1

The next five played RF, CF, CF, CF.  Gee, do you think CF has the best OF?  Wow!  And Gardner makes the top five because he's a CF being compared to LF, usually among the weakest defenders.

Numbers one and five have negative dWAR.  MLB announcer, former relief pitcher Mitch Williams, emphatically and repeatedly assured us this morning that Asdrubal Cabrera was by far the best defensive SS in AL in 2011.

I ran a query on bb-ref: "for 2011, Played 50% of games at SS, (requiring Qualified for league batting title), sorted by greatest runs_fielding":

Cabrera was number 16 with minus 6 runs.  In double figures plus:

Troy Tulowitzki 13
Alex Gonzalez 11
Jhonny Peralta 10

Remember Cabrera was selected the top defensive player regardless of position, not just the top SS.

I then ran the query for players of any defensive position.  Tulowitzki was number 11.  Top three:
Brett Gardner 34 LF
Carlos Lee 21 LF
Mike Stanton 20 RF

What the heck?  Defensive stats are elusive at best for individuals.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why did Mickey Mantle hit so few doubles?

I've known this for some time and no one has provided an answer.

2B%: [2B]/[H]

Doubles as a percent of hits.  For batters with at least 4,000 AB:

David Ortiz is #1: 26%.

Mickey Mantle #932 out of 1,101: 14.24%.

Maybe when I analyse Mickey's PA that is something I can figure out: why a batter with great power and great speed had so few doubles.

Among 81 batters with 350 home runs through 2010 (Ortiz has 378 through 2011 but I don't have that data yet for all players):

Carlos Delgado is #1: 23.7%.

The Mick is #78.  Only Killbrew, Howard and Cash are lower, none of them with any speed.  For 15 of these 81 sluggers (18.5%) at least 20% of their hits were doubles.  

The obvious answer is that the Yankees instructed Mantle to not try for doubles and triples unless he could make it standing.  This would protect his increasingly fragile legs.

Can anyone document this or document some other explanation?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mantle Mays through 1964

Click title to see data.

Through 1964 top ten in career home runs:

Ruth 714
Foxx 534
Wiliams 521
Ott 511
Gehrig 493
Musial 475
Mantle 454
Mays 453
Mathews 445
Snider 407.

Mantle had the fewest AB: 6,533.  Next fewest was Mays: 7,036.  Then Mathews 7,051.

Number 7 Mickey Mantle was number 7 in home runs.

Through 1964 batters with 350 home runs:

Mantle had 23 more AB than Aaron (#14) and 88 more home runs.

Mays and especially Mantle were much better home run hitters than Aaron.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hall of Fame vote: mine.

Originally posted Tuesday, December 6, 2011.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/hof_2012.shtml

Tim Raines much lower on James HoF monitor than other non-first candidates.

I'd vote for Barry Larkin, Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGwire.

Bernie Williams is way overrated because he happened to have played center field.  Had Williams played a corner, he would have zero support.  Williams only won a gold glove after Ken Griffey, Jr. and Jim Edmonds left the AL.

In stupid defensive WAR Bernie Williams is dead last among CF with 5,000 PA.  I don't have much confidence in defensive stats but those into them won't get any support for Williams.

Note: Bernie's teammate Derek Jeter is last among SS ... by a lot.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hall of Fame 1947-1972 veterans committee

I really dislike the veterans committee in general, which has long outlived its usefulness, and this suck up to 60 year old fans version in particular: http://baseballhall.org/hall-famers/rules-election/eras-golden

Why is the font size so small?  Is the HoF ashamed of this junk committee?  And where are the candidates listed?

For Ron Santo, since I do not trust defensive numbers, I looked at OPS+.  Santo is a solid #7 on the all time list for third basemen since 1903.  Click http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/epgYS

Santo probably suffered in his original 15 years of voting because he was sandwiched in between Mathews and Schmidt who are the top two batters at third base.

Another part of his problem has been the 1969 collapse of his Cubs and his numbers in the second half and especially in September, which suck.  As usual, Santo was much better at home, which also detracts, and Santo was lousy in September throughout his career.

Some perspective on Santo's OPS+ rank:
7        Santo
16      Sal Bando (the really forgotten Italian third basemen who actually won championships)
47      Pie Traynor (.320 BA but that was when many batted .300)
54      Brooks Robinson (great glove but his batting was much less than perceived at the time)

MVP top five:
Santo:
1967 4
1969 5

Bando
1971 2
1973 4
1974 3

I won't be upset if Santo gets into the Hall of Fame but I sure won't be upset if he does not.  Sentiment is on Santo's side, especially with the anniversary of his death.

Fifteen years of voting by those who saw a player is more than enough of a chance.  Allie Reynolds was very close in his most recent vote by the regular veterans committee and now he gets yet another bite of the apple with this junk committee.  Enough already.  In ERA+ among pitchers with at least 2,000 innings since 1903 Reynolds is tied at #130.  130!  What the heck are we talking about?  Click: http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/P8hl1

Is Dick (Richie) Allen being considered?  MVP.  I'm OK with him.

Minnie Minoso is borderline HoF but the guy was not a HoF player.

No also to Kaat, Tiant and John.  Huge NO to Hodges and Maris.  If anyone other than Santo and Allen gets in it's a joke.

Stop insulting fans with these money generating gimmicks.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hall of Fame managers


I noticed that five managers won two pennants and two WS:

Bill Carrigan Red Sox
Danny Murtaugh Pirates
Cito Gaston Blue Jays
Tom Kelly Twins
Terry Francona Red Sox

All with one team.

Sort the data on pennants won and you see it.

All managers with at least 3 pennants who are eligible are in HoF except:

Jim Mutrie 1883-1891
Ralph Houk 2 WS, 3 pennants
Charlie Grim 0 WS, 3 pennants

Look at the 8 with 3 pennants and explain why Ralph Houk is not in HoF.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wither DH? How about DF?

Designated Hitter (DH) does not seem to be much of a deal any more.  Paul Molitor is in the Hall of Fame and he played DH more than non-DH positions combined.  Edgar Martinez, a DH almost all of his career, is border line Hall of Fame.


In 2011 8 DH qualified for AL leadership in BA, SLG, etc.  OPS+: David Ortiz 154, Victor  Martinez 135.  Only Ortiz had SLG over .500.  Two had SLG under .400.  Only Ortiz had at least 20 HR.  Only Martinez had 100 RBI.  Only Martinez and Ortiz had BA over .300.  None had OBP over .400.


In 2001 only 5 DH qualified for AL leadership in BA.  However, OPS+: Manny Ramirez 161, Edgar Martinez 160.  All but Brad Fulmer had 20 HR.  Both Ramirez and Martinez had 100 RBI, .300 BA, .400 OBP.  SLG: Ramirez .609, Martinez .543, Ellis Burks .542.


Only David Ortiz is a substantive DH and he turned 36 yesterday.


Dump it.  Dump the DH.  As I have written previously, replace DH with DF (Designated Fielder) and have only eight players in the batting order.  Players would agree as they would with any change that might reduce payroll or playing time if the owners offer to increase the roster by one.  At least 80% of the players would see that one extra spot as lengthening their careers.


What kind of idiot would not want Albert Pujols to have 800 PA instead of 600?  33% more for the same money.  If the owners had any sense they would not just embrace the DF with 8 batters, they would push it as hard as they could.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Phone between dugout and bullpen: are gambling and social networking issues for MLB?

The curious and much over stated impact on game five of the MLB finals, aka, World Series, has two components: game strategy and MLB policy on communications during a game.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/TEX/TEX201110240.shtml

Regular season:
Marc Rzepczynski (L) 28 SO, 23 Innings; WS 4 SO, 1.66 Innings
Jason Motte (R) 63 SO, 68 Innings; WS 1 SO, 1.33 Innings

Why was Motte so much more likely to SO Napoli (R)?

Rzepczynski entered with two on, one out to face lefty Murphy who singled.  Then Naploi doubled.  But then there was another lefty batter: Moreland who sucks, which is why he's batting 9th. Rzepczynski SO Moreland.

For all the fuss about Napoli winning the previous game he was batting 8th.

Having Rzepczynski pitch to lefty, righty, lefty was not such a bad idea.  Too bad Tony La Russa didn't have it.

The pundits all seem to rush to the same conclusion and then repeat it even if it doesn't make the most sense.


Here is a coherent analysis that makes a case for Rzepczynski not pitching to Napoli:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/too-much-craziness-for-one-post/

Some of my perspective:

Napoli was 3 for 12 in WS before that double.

Game 1: 
Rzepczynski SO both batters faced: Gentry and German, both righties.

Game 2: 
Rzepczynski faced two, SO Torrealba (R), German grounded to 1B.
Game 2: Motte faced two, two hits, two runs, loss.

Game 5: 
Rzepczynski SO Moreland (L).  You know the rest

I'm not into nit picking in-game decisions, I just dislike when people pile on.  To say that a pitcher with more SO than innings should not pitch to the number 8 batter seems silly.  In WS 
Rzepczynski retired 6, 4 SO (3 righties), 0 BB, 2 H (left, right).
__________________________________________


OK, now about MLB policy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/26/sports/baseball/world-series-baseballs-game-of-telephone.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha27

"only real restriction baseball placed on communication between the dugout and the bullpen was that it be conducted through a direct line with no outside-calling capabilities"


That would preclude ordering pizza but who knows how long that prohibition has been in effect.  If you enlarge the image the phone appears to have a dial pad.

"Over the decades, though, baseball teams have stuck mainly to the landline dugout phone."

This suggests using the public switched telephone network.

"Regular cellphones are banned from the dugout ...  telephones have been used in major league dugouts and bullpens since at least 1930"

"In addition to cellphones, laptop computers are also banned for dugout-bullpen communication, according to the baseball spokesman Pat Courtney. A pre-approved form of walkie-talkie can be used if a landline fails, Courtney said, provided the affected team alerts the umpiring crew."


It's still not clear to me what MLB teams use now.  I'm guessing that in 1930 they used a simple point to point line, which was live. i.e., no dial tone.  No charges from the phone company.


MLB forces managers and coaches to bring those big binders into the dugout, rather than  laptops, iPads, etc.

Part of it may be MLB does not want players and coaches with access to the Internet.  Otherwise they could just use smart phones.  NFL bans that in games.  One issue, especially for MLB with its history would be communicating with gamblers during a game.  That would be a HUGE scandal.

Gambling.  Devices that connect can be used to communicate with gamblers.  That's my guess.  Also, general purpose stupidity like tweeting moronic thoughts.

You could only let the manager have one but I think they're banned in dugouts because MLB does not want a Pete Rose memorial laptop.  Wasn't Pete supposedly on the phone during games that he managed for Cincinnati, possibly calling his bookies.  That's also probably why the phones are not supposed to reach anything other than the bullpen.

Monday, October 24, 2011

MLB shortens WS game but only on MLB network.

Last night's World Series game number four took only three hours and seven minutes.  The score was 4-0 and the game was fairly quick by 2011 standards.

This afternoon MLB network replayed that game in TWO hours, including commercials.  MLB merely removed much, but not all, of the dead time between batters.

During the season when I record a game and watch it the next day I fast forward between pitches, which reduces viewing time to under one hour thirty minutes.

So why doesn't MLB speed up the real game by removing all that dead time, which cannot even be used to show commercials?  This is a rhetorical question.

Is MLB dumb?  Lazy?  Unimaginative?  Inconsiderate?  Unappreciative?

Why would a billion dollar business be so careless with its showpiece event?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Trend toward managers who never played MLB. Finally!

Click title to see data for MLB 1903-2010.  Minimum 50 games per season per manager.

Solid 21-24% 2007-2010.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Merger: AL and NL merged years ago. How come no one noticed?

Note: wikipedia.com indicates that the merger technically happened in 2000, not 1994.  See Major League Baseball:

the National League and the American League ... merged in 2000 into a single MLB organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball after 100 years as separate legal entities. (Source): "Year In Review : 2000 National League". www.baseball-almanac.com. Retrieved 2008-09-05

The two leagues were once totally separate rival corporate entities, but that distinction has all but disappeared ... This difference in rules (DH) between leagues is unique to MLB; the other sports leagues of the US including the NFL, NBA, NHL each have all teams playing under the same rules.
_____________________________

If the merger between the once independent American and National Leagues had been treated as such then the new organization, MLB, Inc., might not have made such absurd decisions about organizing the new single league.

When the National Football League (NFL) and American Football League (AFL) agreed to merge in 1966 the merger was set to take place four years later.  In the interim they agreed to play an additional game between the two independent leagues.  It became known as the Super Bowl, a name that stuck even after the merger when the game more properly should be called the NFL championship game.

Similarly the baseball AL and NL agreed  to play a series of games starting after the 1905 season, usually best of seven, between the champions of their respective leagues.  It became known as the World Series.  Since the generally unrecognized merger of the AL and NL, the World Series description has persisted for what more properly should be called the MLB finals.

More of a mess is that MLB did not even attempt to reconcile the different rule, the 1973 designated hitter (DH), which applied to the AL but not to the NL.  That schism persists to this day, the first of the MLB finals, and MLB is not even embarrassed by that as it should be.  FORTY years and MLB has not resolved a simple rule aberration.

The NFL and AFL resolved their major rule difference by having the entire league play with one set of rules.  Initially the merged NFL used only the one point conversion but eventually the AFL two point conversion option after touchdown became the NFL rule in 1994.

The absorption of the American Basketball Association (ABA) in 1976 by the National Basketball Association (NBA) resulted in the NBA adopting the ABA three point shot for the 1979-1980 season.

Neither the NFL nor the NBA played with different rules after their respective mergers, not even for one season.  That's how it's done.  See my post:

SATURDAY, JULY 9, 2011   The unique absurdities of MLB.

Not treating the new MLB, Inc. as a merger caused other problems.  I recall stories many years ago that serious consideration was being given to geographic realignment, which could still be done today and would remove the structural straight jacket that dominates the narrow unimaginative thinking applied to improving the obviously deficient MLB playoff format.  And please, call it playoffs like the other sports do and stop with the silly and clumsy description "post season".

The AL and NL identities, especially the DH, continue to thwart any real reform.  Here's what you tend to get: add another wild card team.  Earth to baseball people: adding a wild card to the playoffs in 1994 did not suddenly change the system.  What changed it was DOUBLING the number of teams that qualified for the playoff!  Wake the heck up!

MLB in 1994 could and should have DOUBLED the number of playoff teams simply and more fairly by leaving the AL and NL entities with two divisions each and allowing second place teams to qualify.  Those divisions, introduced in 1969, had a decent amount of geographic balance, which is why they were named east and west.  Instead, MLB tried to mindlessly imitate the other sports by creating mini divisions, which in turn provided more first place teams and fewer second place teams in the playoffs.  I suppose that it was intended to camouflage the inequity of having teams play 162 games only to have them then subjected to a tournament, which as often as not, produces a random champion as is happening in 2011.

It was a merger.  A damn MERGER!  Treat it as a merger and realign the teams geographically with all the rich and natural regular season rivalries that baseball fans deserve before they totally turn their backs on boring four hour games, which I predict will happen within ten years.  MLB, Inc. will suddenly and irreversibly be left high and dry as it should be for ruining a once great national pastime.

Geographic realignment will produce a more fair and compelling playoff system naturally, one that even MLB, Inc. may not be able to prevent.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

400 home run hitters HBP

Click title to see data.

HBP among batters with 400 HR:

High: Robinson 198
Low: Foxx & Mantle 13 (play by play data has Mantle with 12)

HBP/PA:
High: Giambi
Low: Mantle (could be lower if based on 12 HBP)

Hit least frequently includes all three switch hitters (B):
Mantle B
Foxx R
Chipper Jones B
Murray B

Hit most frequently:
Giambi L
Delgado L
Robinson R
Rodriguez R

Ruth & Gehrig only four places apart.

Mickey Mantle played from 1951 through 1968.  He was not HBP until April 13, 1955 (McDermott); he was hit again April 23 (Delock) and April 28 (Bishop).  He has another four year period without HBP: 1963 through 1966.  Click to see his HBP events.  It shows 12 HBP, 8 in April.  No pitcher hit Mantle more than once:
Tom Brewer 1
Art Ditmar 1
Billy Loes 1
Tom Phoebus 1
Joe McClain 1
Frank Lary 1
Jim Lonborg 1
Charlie Bishop 1
Ike Delock 1
Billy O'Dell 1 lefty
Pedro Ramos 1
Mickey McDermott 1

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ted Williams: the mythology of the final games of 1941.

See data.

The Ted Williams mythology had two components:
1. Williams did not need to play on the final day of the 1941 season, because his batting average (BA) would round up to .400 and that would be recognized as .400.
2. Williams boldly and courageously batted in both games of a doubleheader in Philadelphia against the As, risking his .400 BA with each plate appearance (PA).

Neither of these is correct.

1. is contradicted by Williams own website.  See below.
2. is contradicted by the arithmetic.

From the Ted Williams website:

According to the mythology, Joe Cronin asked Ted if he wanted to sit
out the doubleheader ... The Boston Globe reported that he had fallen
below .400 ...

Didn’t Cronin know that? Of course he did. When you read the journals
of the day, you can see that the exchange quite probably took place a
day or two earlier, at a time when Ted was hitting .401. “If he’s over
.400 after two games, I may bench him,” Cronin was quoted as saying
during the first off day in Philadelphia. “Whether he likes it or
not.”

___________________________

The real mystery is how Williams and/or Cronin made the mistake of letting Williams BA fall below .400 in the first place.

Williams was stumbling badly and he had three games remaining against Philadelphia.  Maybe in the first game he did not think that he would go 1 for 4.  That's what dropped him below .400.  That's why he had to play on the final day.  After going 2 for 3 in game 143 Williams BA was .41062801932367.  Boston played 155 games in 1941.

Sunday September 28, 1941 Williams BA before the final day doubleheader: .39955357142857.  The Philadelphia  As finished last: 64-90 .416.  The 1941 AL H/9 innings was 9.3.  Philadelphia had 10.0; only St. Louis Browns were worse: 10.1.

Starting for Philadelphia in game one of the doubleheader was 20 year old rookie right-hander 6' 4" Dick Fowler who was making his fourth MLB appearance and third start since Sept. 13, 15 days earlier.  Fowler pitched well in his debut: CG, 7 hits, one run (earned).  A week earlier in his second start Fowler went 8 innings: 9 hits, 6 runs (4 ER).

Had Williams gotten a hit in first PA of game 154 against 
Fowler then made out in his second PA his BA would have been .400 on the nose.  Boston player/manager Joe Cronin could have pulled Williams.  Once Williams went 2 for 2 he was playing with house money.  Continuing to bat was not a risk.  Here is how Williams BA changed that day:


Game one of doubleheader (game 154):

0.40089086859688 1 for 1
0.40222222222222 2 for 2 HR
0.40354767184035 3 for 3
0.40486725663717 4 for 4
0.40397350993377 4 for 5

Game two of doubleheader (game 155):

0.40528634361233 1 for 1
0.40659340659341 2 for 2
0.40570175438596 2 for 3

Williams did display courage that day but not the way that the myth suggests.  Williams needed courage to deal with the pressure and harness his talents to execute.  Getting that hit in his very first PA completely defused the situation.  Williams was home free, raising his BA above .400 where it could be monitored by his manager Joe Cronin who could and would have removed Williams in order to preserve that special achievement for which Williams is best known: the last batter with a .400 BA, not someone whose BA rounded up to .400.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

To fix MLB playoff, fix the regular season first.

The fish rots from the top.  I'm hearing more narrow unimaginative suggestions about fixing the mess of MLB playoff, chief among them, expanding round one from best of five to best of seven.  Big deal.  Until you correct the even bigger unfair mess of the MLB regular season, minor changes in the playoff structure are silly and meaningless.

As documented here, four of the six mini divisions play only 44% of their 162 games in division.  NL central has six teams that play 48% in division but vary the number from 18 to 14 against division rivals.  AL west four teams play a ridiculous 35% in division.

What the heck?

Two other things that clinch MLB as by far the most amateurish compared to NFL and NBA: home field advantage in the MLB finals determined by the winner of the All Star game AND, lest we forget, MLB plays with different rules.  The DH, remember?

As mentioned previously, this can be corrected only with these changes:

1. Treat MLB as ONE league, which it has been since the merger in 1994.  Treat it as the other mergers were treated: NFL and AFL; NBA and ABA.  Rules were made uniform and they were treated as ONE league.  This is essential to move teams into geographic alignment (Yankees/Mets, White Sox/Cubs, blah, blah, blah) AND to finally, after FORTY embarrassing seasons, resolve the DH impass.  To do it: obliterate the old AL and NL identities.

2. Reduce the number of divisions from six (three in each conference) to four (two in each conference).  This means increasing the number of teams to 7 or 8 per division.

3. Play at least 66% of games in division.

If these fundamental changes to the regular season are made then a proper playoff structure will almost automatically result.  If all you do is jerk around within the current mess of a structure, then no meaningful reform of the MLB playoff is possible.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Yankees v. Phillies seven game old style series.

The autumn weather in New York and Philadelphia has been beautiful, warm and sunny.  Perfect weather for the final baseball games.  We should have already started that seven game series that we all anticipated between the two best MLB teams in 2011.  It could have been staged for charity so that even MLB, Inc. might have difficulty saying no.

It should have started yesterday, Saturday afternoon, and all the games should be played in the afternoon on seven consecutive days as the old World Series had been from about 1946 through 1956.  Afternoon games would not conflict with those stupid MLB playoff games with teams that most Americans do not care about.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Yankees lost in first round: some facts.

Click to see supporting data.

Small market teams can stop their whining.  Commissioner Bud Selig has created Las Vegas night in MLB.  The three biggest markets with the biggest payrolls are out of the annual playoffs.  Boston never even made it to the 2011 playoffs and the Yankees and Philadelphia lost in the fifth and final game of round one.  At least they lost to traditional franchises: Detroit and St. Louis respectively.

Conventional wisdom in New York is that the Yankees lost because Rodriguez, Teixeira and Swisher did not hit enough.  Of course if either Rodriguez or Swisher had homered wih the bases loaded in the seventh inning of game five instead of striking out against Benoit the Yankees would have won.  But let's look at a bigger picture.

During the five games against Detroit the Yankees averaged 5.6 runs scored.  In the regular season they averaged 5.4, second to Boston in AL.  Scoring is what counts, not whether particular individuals do certain things.  Yes, the Yanks scored 19 (10,9) runs in their two wins and only 9 (4,3,2) in their three losses but that's the nature of baseball, especially this Yankee team.  It is unrealistic to expect a team to score more in the playoffs than in the regular season.  The Yankee offense was not the problem.

Yankee fielding was almost flawless.

Pitching was good but not great.  Detroit scored 5,5,3,3,1.  No shutouts.  No big numbers.

In the regular season the the Yankee defense (fielding and pitching) allowed 4 runs per game, third best in AL to Rays and Angels.  Against Detroit it allowed 3.4.

One problem was that the playoff standard deviation for Yankee scoring was 3.7 and for Detroit 1.7.  Detroit was steady but not spectacular.

The Pythagorean winning percentage is basically a fancier version of runs scored minus runs allowed divided by games played.  For the regular season:
Yanks won 97 but should have won 101.
Detroit won 95 but should have won 89.

The Yankees under-performed and Detroit over-performed.

During the season Detroit added two players who helped them defeat the Yankees:
August 15 OF Delmon Young (3 HR)
July 30 starting pitcher Doug Fister who started and won game five.

The Yankees made no key additions during the season.

Maybe the Yankees rely too much on the home run.  In the playoff series Yanks hit 4 HR, Detroit 6.  Runs from HR: Yanks 8, Detroit 6.  In game one the Yanks scored 9 runs and Cano hit a bases loaded HR, which accounts for half the Yankee runs on HR.  In game four the Yanks scored 10 runs without any HR.

In game five Detroit hit two HR in the first inning and that 2-0 lead controlled the game.

OPS (On Base Plus Slugging, playoff/regular:
Yanks: .749/.788
Detroit: .690/.773

Based on both OPS and actual runs Yankee scoring was about as close to its regular season performance as one could expect or hope.

Each team scored at least three runs in four different games.  In their three losses Yanks scored 3,3,2 and allowed 5,5,3.  See Yankee run distribution in the 2011 regular season:
Yanks scored 3 runs in 21 games: 10-11
Yanks scored 2 runs in 11 games: 0-11
Yanks allowed 5 runs in 20 games: 6-14
Yanks allowed 3 runs in 30 games: 23-7.

Runs Cum Win% Cum Games
0 0.000             8
1 0.0588 17
2 0.0357 28
3 0.224 49
4 0.338 77
5 0.422 102
6 0.479 117
7 0.504 129
8 0.519 135
9 0.552 145
10 0.564 149
11 0.570 151
12 0.583 156
13 0.586 157
15 0.589 158
17 0.59375 160
18 0.596 161
22 0.599 162

These numbers are astonishing although I have yet to compare them to Detroit or the entire AL.  The Yankees scored fewer than SEVEN runs in 117 games and their winning percentage was .479!

In the regular season the Yankees had a winning percentage of .599.  Had they won game five against Detroit and gone 3-2 their winning percentage would have been .600.  The Yanks were within one game of matching their 162 game performance.

Had these two teams played ten games the Yankees probably would have won five or six games.  But they played only five games and that's the Las Vegas element that MLB has morphed into, intentionally or otherwise.

What's the point of any playoff, professional or college?  It's to make more money.  It's certainly not to determine which is the best team.  A long and fair regular season does that.  The MLB season is certainly long, though not fair.  However, it is much more fair than playing best of five.  What does that prove?  What is affirmed except randomness?  Where is the merit?

See post:

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2011

BCS (Baseball Championship Series) or March Madness.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bring back the city series.

At the 2011 annual SABR convention Eric Weiss did a presentation about the city series, which were prevalent 100 years ago.  If the two Chicago teams were not in the new World Series they might play a series between themselves and pocket all the money.  Other cities did it, too.  Maybe that would work today.

I'm writing this while Texas is playing in Tampa in the first round of MLB playoffs.  In other words, I'm killing time waiting for the Yankees to play in Detroit tonight.  Tampa and Texas.  Who the heck cares?  Not even people in Tampa.

Dump the stupid divisions.  Have American and National conference teams play only in conference.  After 162 games we'll have legitimate regular season champions and two teams that people would want to see play in the MLB finals, aka, World Series.

Here's the cool part.  ALL of the rest of the teams may then play a five game series against another team and keep all of the money, not share it with MLB, Inc.  This season, the White Sox could play the Cubs.  The Red Sox could play ... the Mets.  The Giants could play the Dodgers or even Oakland.  The only limitation: they may not schedule games at the same time as the World Series games.

Even if your team sucks it may still play a traditional rival.  Cool.  Everybody is happy.

BCS (Baseball Championship Series) or March Madness.

I wrote about this previously, mostly as a goof.  But as the first round of MLB playoffs are putting the Yankees (1-2) - Phillies (1-1) match up in doubt maybe BCS is not such a bad idea.

Isn't that what we all want, MLB finals between the two best teams, which they proved to be for 162 games, not in a silly five game series?

Let  writers, and fans vote.  The other teams can play with themselves in meaningless series.  You know, like NCAA college football.

OR we could embrace another of my suggestions based on NCAA college basketball: put all 30 MLB teams into the tournament with heavy ceding.  In the NCAA basketball tournament no 16 seed has ever defeated a one seed.  If that passes for March Madness, why not do in MLB?

Monday, October 3, 2011

BA championship: sit on a lead?

Click to see data.

Met Jose Reyes had the highest NL BA in 2011.  Ryan Braun of Milwaukee finished a close second.

On the last day of the regular season, the Mets played a day game.   Milwaukee was scheduled to play a night game.

Before those games Reyes led Braun:
0.33582089552239
0.3345259391771
0.001294956345286 difference


Reyes beat out a bunt single in his only plate appearances.  He left the game in the first inning to preserve his lead over Braun.  His lead had increased to:
0.002531788942079


That didn't sit well with many people but I also wonder if it made sense for Reyes to play at all.


What if Reyes had made out?  These would have been the leads for Reyes had he continued to bet against the house.


0.000669591549155    0 for 1
0.000046551529218    0 for 2
-0.000574176653911    0 for 3
-0.001192605843769    0 for 4

If Reyes went 0 for 1, Braun could have passed him with either 1 for 1 (How ironic would that have been, had Braun pulled himself out?) or 2 for 3.

It would have been like gambling.  The odds always favor the house.  Chances were 1 out of 3 that Reyes would have gotten a hit in his first at bat.  What then?  Cut your losses and have less of a lead than you had before?  How big of a jerk would Reyes look like if he had quit after making out?

So let's say Reyes rolls the dice and bats again.  Another out and his lead has shrunk even more and he would look like a total jackass if he quit now.

So Reyes bats again and ...  You can see how this might have unfolded.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Red Sox: you live by the wall, you die by the wall.

Tampa Rays park left field corner:

Was the wall always much closer and much lower than just a few feet further into fair territory or was that done to make Red Sox fans suffer more?  Evan Longoria's wining hit was really a double, not a homer.  That configuration is a joke, maybe intended to have hypocritical Red Sox fans complain.  You live by the wall, you die by the wall.

Dead Sox

Crawful

Dread Sox

Red Flops

Ah, the smell of napalm in the morning.  (See Apocalypse Now)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ted Williams: did he sulk in his tent in 1956, too?

I have documented how Ted Williams quit at the end of two seasons: 1951 and 1960.  See:

Ted Williams in 1951 Red Sox games 142-150 ... and abandoning his team.  THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2011

I just noticed that he may have also done this in 1956.

At the end of the 1956 season the 37 year old Williams had very little to play for.  The Yankees had clinched the pennant and Williams had blown his late season BA lead over the 24 year old Yankee phenom Mickey Mantle who was limping towards the triple crown, which Williams had accomplished the two most recent times.  This must have galled Williams, especially since his Red Sox played the Yankees in six of the final eight games of 1956 and Williams blew his BA lead mostly against the Yankees.

Mantle must have been injured because manager Casey Stengel had Mickey PH in six of the final seven Yankee games, including two of the the last three at Yankee Stadium against Boston.   When Mantle reached base as a PH Stengel would remove him for a pinch runner even though Mantle was the fastest man in MLB.

Friday September 21, 1956 Williams BA entering the series in Boston was .355, Mantle's .350.  In those three games against the Yankees Williams went:
2 for 4 .356
0 for 4 .353
0 for 3 .350

Mantle:
3 for 5 .352
2 for 3 .354
1 for 1 .356

After two games against Washington Williams was still at .350 heading to New York for the final three games series.  Mantle PH three times in Baltimore: BB, 0 for 2, .354.

Friday September 28, 1956 (Yankees won 7-2):
Williams 0 for 3: .348 (2 GDP)
Mantle 1 for 4 (HR 52): .353

Saturday September 29, 1956 (Red Sox won 7-5 in 13 innings):
Williams 1 for 6: .345 (GDP.  After Williams grounded into a force play in the 12th, Faye Throneberry replaced Ted Williams playing LF batting 3rd in the 13th.)
Mantle: .353 (PH bases loaded BB for game tieing RBI in 8th)

Sunday September 30, 1956  (Red Sox won 7-4 in 10 innings)::
Williams BB with bases loaded, no out first inning; Gene Stephens pinch runs for Ted Williams: .345
Mantle 0 for 1: .353 (Mantle pinch hits for Jim Coates in 9th; ground out, game tieing RBI.)

Mantle had one RBI in each of his last three games.  He needed them.  Al Kaline of Detroit had two RBI in each of his final two games to finish with 128, second to Mantle's 130.  Mantle led by 20 in HR: 52 to Vic Wertz 32.  If anything Mantle needed to play to ensure that he would lead AL in RBI in order to win his triple crown.

Why did Williams leave after only one plate appearance?  Did he think he could still catch Mantle if he went 4 for 4 and Mantle 0 for 4?  When Mantle was not in the starting lineup another 0 for 1 would not drop Mantle's BA below .353.

Had Williams gone 4 for 4: 142 / 404 = 0.351485149

If Mantle had merely gone 0 for 2: 188 / 535 = 0.351401869

Williams would have beaten Mantle.  Did Williams leave the final game in the first inning because his BB combined with Mantle's absence from the starting lineup meant that Williams could not catch Mantle?

If so, what does that say about Ted Williams?

Williams had highest AL BA in 1941, 1942 (triple crown), 1947 (triple crown), 1948.  Williams had career highs 43 HR and 159 RBI in 1949 but lost by the slimmest margin of anyone winning 2 of 3 triple crown categories.  George Kell of Detroit led AL in BA over Williams by .05%:

.342911877395
.342756183746
.000155693649 difference

Williams knew how those decimal points worked.

Williams was injured in 1950 and played only 89 games.  In 1951 Williams .318 BA was a distant fourth to Philadelphia As Ferris Fain's .344.  Williams missed most of 1952 and 1953 with his second stint of military service.  In 1954 Williams played in only 117 games with 386 AB and AL leading 136 BB.  In 1955 Williams played in only 98 games as twenty year old Al Kaline led AL in BA with .340.  The qualifying standard from 1945-1956 was:

"2.6 at bats per team game ... from 1951-1954 a player could lead if they still led after the necessary number of hitless at bats were added to their at bat total"

For Boston in 1954 that meant 2.6*154=400.4.  Williams had 14 fewer AB to qualify.  Adding those 14 AB would have given Williams this: 133/400=.3325.  Bobby Avila of Cleveland had .341 BA; Williams .345.

So in 1956 Williams barely qualified with his 400 AB.  Note: Williams also had 102 BB.

With his Red Sox not competitive after 1951 what else did Ted Williams have to play for except leading AL in BA, the gold standard in those days.  Losing to the Mercurial Mantle who resorted to bunting to break a slump only made matters worse.

Ted Williams exacted revenge the very next season.  In 1957 Mantle had his second consecutive aberrant BA with a career best .365 but that was a distant second to the .388 posted by Williams at age 38.  In 1957 Williams had 420 AB, 119 BB, 546 PA.  The new qualifying standard was:

"3.1 plate appearances per team game"  For Boston that was 3.1*154=477.4.  Williams 546 PA far exceeded the requirement.

Williams led AL in BA for the final time in 1958 with .328 beating teammate Pete Runnels .322.  Mantle dropped back to his norm with .304: 7th in AL.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Defensive stats.

I generally do not trust defensive stats for individuals.

In 2011 there's been a lot of noise about Brett Gardner of the Yankees being the best defensive LF in AL.  So what?  The Yanks moved their best CF to LF to make room for Curtis Granderson.  Does that suddenly add substantial brownie points to Gardner's overall rating because the Yankees are under utilizing his skills?

This also applies to Hall of Fame credentials.  How much higher would Al Kaline have been rated had he played CF, which he did for 400 games when Detroit also had Rocky Colavito, instead of RF where he played because of his great arm?  Same with Ichiro Suzuki today.

How much less would Duke Snider have been rated had he played LF instead of that small CF in Ebbets Field?  Would Snider have been elected to the HoF?  I doubt it.

Would current Yankee fans suggest that Bernie Williams is a borderline Hofer had Williams played LF instead of CF?  Not even close.  Williams won a Gold Glove only after Ken Griffey, Jr. and Jim Edmonds moved to the NL, not because Williams suddenly improved a lot.

I never met Met fan who knew what he was talking about.

Met batters 2011 HR/AB:

Home: 45/2548 = .01766

Road: 58/2812 = .0206

With all the whining it's surprising that the home run rate for Met batters is not that different on the road than it is at home in Citi Field.  Let's see how Met pitchers are doing in 2011:

Home: 54/2631 = .0205

Road: 87/2704 = .0321

It looks like the Met pitchers benefited more than the Met batters suffered.  So shouldn't Met fans want to keep the dimensions of Citi Field as they are?  And isn't that the Met heritage, old Shea Stadium providing an advantage to Met pitchers like Tom Seaver?

As I've long said: I never met  Met fan who knew what he was talking about ... or a Boston fan of any sport.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Is Jeter juiced?

This is a fundamentally unfair question, one which has not been asked much since the steroid hysteria died down 2-3 years ago.  However, the improvement in the performance of Yankee icon Derek Jeter forces one to address it.

See my post: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2010

Yankees beware: Jeter's production is likely to decline.

See data for Jeter for full seasons 2008, 2009, 2010 and for 2011 both before and after Jeter's return from Florida following his rehab from injury.  Jeter's improvement is inexplicable.
A-Rod's cousin
Did Jeter run into A-Rod's cousin, the one who provided A-Rod with performance enhancing stuff a few years ago?

I looked at:
BA: batting average
OBP: on base percentage
SLG: slugging average
OPS: OBP + SLG

Jeter's percentage improvements in 253 PA (plate appearances) after returning compared with 293 PA before:

BA            OBP           SLG        OPS
29.89%    20.23%    42.14%    30.98%

Here are his actual 2011 numbers:
age BA            OBP           SLG        OPS
36  0.260    0.324    0.324    0.649
37 0.338    0.3895   0.461    0.850
dif 0.0777 0.0656 0.137    0.201

Jeter's OPS his three previous seasons:
2008 .771
2009 .871
2010 .649

Jeter's 2010 OPS is exactly the same as his 2011 before Jeter left the Yankees to rehab: .649, the lowest of his career.

What the heck happened in Florida and don't tell me Jeter adjusted his batting swing?

The sample size is approaching a half season so the question is legitimate.  For his career Jeter does tend to improve in the second half: OPS .820/.846.  For the last three seasons:
2008 .764/.778
2009 .908/.836
2010 .790/.633

Jeter snapped out of a slump that had lasted through the second half of 2010 and the first half of 2011, from which Jeter exploded after turning 37.  How often does that happen without an extra boost?

Jeter has cleared .900 OPS twice:
1999 .989
2006 .900

His 2011 post injury OPS is .850 through 9/10/11.  In only six of Jeter's 16 full seasons did Jeter have OPS greater than .850.

What the heck?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Gehrig didn't always bat 4th.

In 1929 the Yankees pioneered the regular wearing of numbers on baseball uniforms.  Numbers were assigned by position in the batting order.  In 1927 Lou Gehrig for the first time in his career had batted 4th in every game.  Babe Ruth batted 3rd in every game.  In 1928 Gehrig batted 4th in 132 games, 3rd in 22 games.  Ruth batted 3rd in 132 games, 4th in 22.  They switched for games 123-144.

It's not clear why Yankee manager Miller Huggins switched them.  Here are their numbers before and after the switch:

BA    OBP  SLG   OPS
.333 .473 .737 1.211 Ruth
.377 .468 .641 1.109 Gehrig

BA    OBP  SLG   OPS
.322 .462 .704 1.166 Ruth
.370 .464 .630 1.094 Gehrig

Both seemed to have done slightly worse during the switch.

For the 1929 season they were assigned their famous numbers: Ruth 3, Gehrig 4.  The Yankees must have assumed that those numbers would represent their positions in the batting order.  However, that plan changed quickly.  In 1929 Lou Gehrig started the lowest percentage of his games batting 4th in his career and his highest percentage batting 3rd.  Gehrig also had his second highest percentage batting 6th (14% in 1925).

3rd             4th         5th           6th
50.00% 22.73% 14.94% 12.34%

See Gehrig's batting order data.

On May 11, 1929 (Yankee game 18) Lou Gehrig was batting:

BA    OBP  SLG  OPS
.388 .481 .731  1.212

Gehrig batted 4th in Yankee games 1-27 when Gehrig's numbers were down.  For game 28 Huggins again switched Gehrig and Ruth: Gehrig batted 3rd, Ruth 4th.

BA    OBP  SLG  OPS
.333 .443 .656   1.100 Gehrig
.302 .407 .563   .970 Ruth

Again not clear why Huggins made the switch except to merely shake things up.

This continued through game 37 when Ruth stopped playing until game 55.  Gehrig remained 3rd for games 28-74 when he and Ruth switched for two games.  Games 77-106 Gehrig was 3rd, Ruth always 4th when in the lineup.  Babe played 135 games in 1929, Gehrig all 154.

Gehrig was 5th in games 107-114, 118-129, 146-148.  Gehrig batted 6th in games 115-117, 130-145.  For the final games of the season Gehrig batted 4th: 149-154.  In the 133 games that he started Ruth batted 3rd in 66, 4th in 67.

Miller Huggins died September 25, 1929 in New York, NY.  He was 51.  Art Fletcher managed the final 11 (6-5) games (144-154) of the 1929 season.

Saturday, September 21, 1929, Yankee Stadium I Fletcher managed his first Yankee game.  He had managed the Philadelphia Phillies 1923-1926, finishing 8,7,6,8.  Fletcher kept Gehrig 6th (0 for 4, RBI).  Yanks defeated the White Sox 8-5.

Sunday, September 22, 1929, Yankee Stadium I Yanks played a doubleheader against the White Sox.  In game one Fletcher batted Gehrig 6th (0 for 2, 2 BB); Yanks lost 7-4.  In game two Fletcher moved Gehrig up to 5th (0 for 3, BB); Yanks won 3-1.

Two more games batting 5th, then the final 6 games batting 4th after game 148 when Gehrig went 3 for 4, BB, 4 RBI in 11-10 win in Boston raising his BA to .298.  Gehrig had dropped as low as .294 in game 146 his first game batting higher than 6th since game 129.

Gehrig's stats 1928-1930:

BA    OBP  SLG  OPS
.374 .467 .648  1.115
.300 .431 .584  1.015
.379 .473 .721 1.194

In 1929 Huggins moved Gehrig in the Yankee batting order for the most basic of reasons: he wasn't hitting enough.

The 1929 Yankees finished second in AL, 18 games behind the Philadelphia As who defeated the Chicago Cubs in the WS 4-1.  The Cubs were managed by Joe McCarthy (1926-1930) who later managed the Yankees 1931-1946.

In 1930 the Yankees had Bob Shawkey their former pitching ace manage the team.  The Yanks finished third 16 games behind the Philadelphia As who again won WS, this time over St. Louis.  Shawkey continued Huggins policy of moving Gehrig in the batting order.  Gehrig's percent of games batting:

3rd   4th    5th
3.25% 41.56%  55.19%

When he took over in 1931 Joe McCarthy batted Gehrig 4th almost exclusively from 1931 through 1937.   In 1936 Joe DiMaggio had batted 3rd in all 138 games he played and in 1937 DiMaggio batted 3rd in 144 starts and 4th in 6.  In 1938 DiMaggio batted 4th in 116 games and 3rd in 29.  In 1938 Gehrig batted 4th in only 41 (26%) games and 5th in 103 (66%) games.  The young slugger DiMaggio had supplanted Gehrig.

FOUR hour wait to start night game.

I just learned that the Yankees played last night.  It never occurred to me since it was raining hard all day, evening and night.  I turned on the next morning replay.  It was raining hard in the first inning, which began at 11:08PM.  I assumed that this was a new low for MLB but the Yankee announcers said that the four hour plus delay was only the second longest in MLB history, the longest being five hours plus in 1999.  NY Times reports that the Yankee game ended at 2:15AM.  Yanks have an afternoon game scheduled today at 1:05PM.  Should be scintillating entertainment.


No need to belabor the obscenity of this.  All fans who had bought tickets should receive a refund.  Those who attended first pitch should get some bonus and/or their heads examined.  Corporations will abuse people to the extent that people let them.


The players did nothing to speed things along.  Batters still stepped out of the box after each pitch as they had been coached to do.  Pitchers still jerked around between each pitch as they had been coached to do.  This is what has passed for coaching in recent decades.


Baseball is dying and doesn't know it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Doubleheaders completed in less than four hours.

I found a couple of doubleheaders (2 for the price of 1) at YS in 1937: game 1 about 2 hours, game 2 (7 innings) 1:20.  Including time between games they were over in less time than those Yankee - Red Sox games last week.

Gehrig’s Iron Man Streak: four, not one, tainted games

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Four is twice as long as a game should last.

Last night in Fenway Park the Yankees defeated the Red Sox before a packed house of almost all white people.  I actually spotted a black guy in the front row behind home plate.


The game dragged on for 3 hours 59 minutes.  This should be a violation of a Geneva convention.  I turned on the DVR in the 7th inning and watched the rest this morning at what should be a normal speed.


All team games should end in two hours not counting overtime, which should be limited to an additional 30 minutes.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yankees Core Four: Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, Rivera - in that order.

Original posting date: August 25, 2011

Four players from the Yankee WS winners of 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009 have been dubbed the core four: Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera.  Recently some pundits have taken to ranking them.  I rate them in the order listed.  In order to demonstrate their cleverness,  some, including a couple of young guns on ESPN radio, insist on ranking Rivera first.

Mariano Rivera is the best ever at what he does.  However, what he does is not that valuable and has been done for only about twenty years.  The closer role is easily the most overrated, overblown in baseball history.  Calling Rivera the greatest closer of all time is a big fat so what.  He generally pitches one inning every other game ... at most.

Pitchers are part time players.  A closer is a part time pitcher.  Pitching collectively dominates baseball but individual pitchers do not.  See:

Hall of Fame: why elect ANY pitchers?

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.
_____________________

Jeter is clearly number one.  Posada has become a convenient whipping boy.  Yesterday I heard a caller to a sports radio program go unchallenged when he criticized Posada for not blocking the plate during his Yankee career.  Did this caller ever hear of Buster Posey, the Giants young catcher who was injured trying to block the plate early in 2011 and is out for the season?  No manager wants to lose his starting catcher due to the catcher trying to block the plate.

The only Yankee catchers with at least 500 plate appearances in multiple seasons:


Posada's OPS+ is a shade behind Dickey and Berra.  The primary reason that Posada will not be elected to the Hall of Fame is that he did not hit in the playoffs.

Pettitte comes before Rivera.  So: Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, Rivera.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Knuckleheads: learn the knuckleball!

Forget about getting your kids golf clubs or a tennis racket as a means to financial success.  Teach them to throw the knuckleball.


It's much easier on your body than even golf or tennis.  Playing MLB assures good, possibly great salary and benefits, and business opportunities in later life.


You people with poor job skills, you too: learn to throw the knuckleball.


There are two knuckleball pitchers in the Hall of Fame: Hoyt Wilhelm and Phil Niekro.


In 1969 at age 46 Wilhelm was paid $37,000 for 52 relief appearances for California and Atlanta.  His final two seasons were with the LA Dodgers at ages 48 and 49.


Phil Niekro pitched until the age of 48 and won 314 games.  Atlanta paid him over one million dollars for at least three seasons: 1980, 1981, 1982.


I think there are two knuckleball pitchers in 2011: Tim Wakefield (45) and R.A. Dickey (36).  Wakefield is being paid $1.5 million for 2011 and has been paid $54 million for his career.  Dickey is being paid $2.25 million for 2011 and will receive $2.25 million in 2012.


Even if you merely hang on for one season MLB will pay you the minimum $375,000.  Try making that on the outside.


Isn't it worth the effort?  It's a long shot but it's not as long a shot as winning the lottery.  Worst case: you pitch sandlot ball forever.


The colossal lack of imagination of MLB is reflected in the American people's ignoring this opportunity.