Thursday, June 30, 2011

BCS for MLB: Baseball Championship Series!

As documented in recent posts, the MLB schedule is aberrant, confusing, unfair and unknown to 99.99% of fans and even more of the media.

Combine that with fans selecting players for the MLB All Star game and the All Star game deciding home field advantage in the MLB finals (derived from the old World Series when there were two separate leagues) and my recent suggestion that playoff teams be selected by polls and voila ...

The Baseball Championship Series!

College football has the original BCS: Bowl Championship Series.  MLB could do the same thing: make a big mess that leads to uncertainty and controversy.  Hey, it would be an improvement.  At least strength of schedule could be considered.  Think about it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mantle & Maris still only teammates to hit 50 HR.

Two days ago the Yankees had their annual old timers event before the regular season game.  I was disappointed that the 1961 Yankee team was not specifically honored on the 50th anniversary of the historic home run race between teammates Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris and the new MLB team record of 240 HR.  Maris, of course, broke Babe Ruth's record of 60.  Mantle had 54.  I was 13 years old that season and it is still my favorite season as a Yankee fan.

It just occurred to me that Mantle and Maris are still the only teammates to hit 50 HR.  Not only are they the only pair to hit 50 in the same season but they are the only teammates to do it in any seasons.

The M&M boys broke the two teammate record of Ruth and Lou Gehrig (60+47 = 107) in 1927: (61+54 = 115).  Mantle, Maris and Bill Skowron may have the three teammate record (61+54+28 = 143).

In 2001 Barry Bonds hit 73.  Second on his team?  Rich Aurilia 37.  That's 110, three more than Ruth and Gehrig.   Jeff Kent hit 22.  Aurilia went to Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, NOT my high school, Xavier on 16th Street in Manhattan.

In a sense, Ruth and Gehrig come the closest to being teammates hitting 50 in the same season.  Then there are Albert Belle and Jim Thome with Cleveland.  Belle hit 50 in 1995 and teammate Thome hit 25.  In 2002 Thome hit 52 but Belle left Cleveland after the 1996 season and retired after 2000.

I'm not even sure how many other pairs of 50 homer batters were ever teammates even on different teams.  The 2011 Yankees have Alex Rodriguez (Texas 57, 52 and Yankees 54) and Andrew Jones (Atlanta 51).  Mantle played with Johnny Mize (NY Giants 51) 1951-1953 but Mantle did not hit 50 until 1956 (52).  Pittsburgh 1947: Greenberg (Detroit 58) and Kiner who hit 51 that season.  There may be others but you get the idea.

That makes the 1961 Yankee achievements all the more special.  Too bad 2011 Yankee management does not share that perspective.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mickey Mantle PH heroics following long absences: 1962 & 1963.

Friday, May 18, 1962 Yankee Stadium: Mantle hurt on final out against Minnesota.

Groundout: SS-1B; this was a classic Mickey injury: trailing 4-3 in the 9th Mickey batted right handed with Tom Tresh on second and two out; Mickey belted a one hop rocket to Minnesota SS Zoilo Versalles, which staggered Versalles; Mickey lunged with his final step to first base and pulled a muscle; he fell as if shot; he made the final out of the game and was carried off the field.

Saturday, June 16, 1962 Cleveland Stadium Cleveland: Mantle returned.

Top 8th, Yanks trailed 7-6, one out, 2 on: Gary Bell replaces Bob Allen pitching and batting 9th; Mickey Mantle pinch hits for Marshall Bridges (P) batting 9th; HR Mantle (8, off G Bell; 8th inn, 2 on, 1 out); Mantle's three run HR put Yanks ahead 9-7 but Cleveland won 10-9.
______________________________________

Wednesday, June 5, 1963 Memorial Stadium Baltimore: Mantle hurt trying to prevent a home run.

Brooks Robinson (4, off W Ford; 6th inn, 0 on, 2 outs to CF); Harry Bright replaces Mickey Mantle (CF) playing 1B batting 4th Joe Pepitone moves from 1B to CF

Mantle leaped against the chain link fence and his spikes caught in the fence.  When he fell Mickey broke his foot and tore ligaments.  I saw the front page of the New York Daily News the next morning as I waited for the subway to high school: "Mantle breaks foot, out season".

Robinson's HR tied the game 3-3 but Yanks won 4-3.

Sunday, August 4, 1963 Yankee Stadium: Mantle returns against Baltimore.

There have been stories written about whether Mantle was prepared to play that day.  This post only addresses the facts.

Bottom 7th, Yanks trailed 10-9 with one out: Mickey Mantle pinch hits for Steve Hamilton (P) batting 9th; HR Mantle (12, off G Brunet; 7th inn, 0 on, 1 out to LF).  Mantle tied the game.

Initially I thought "oh no, he hit it to Death Valley, it will never go out". My recollection is that it cleared the 457 sign in left center.  Yanks won 11-10 in 10 innings.

The Mick's next seven games:

Saturday, August 10, 1963: Dodger Stadium LA
Top 9th Yanks trail Angels 1-0, leading off against Dean ChanceMickey Mantle pinch hits for Clete Boyer (3B) batting 8th; Walk; Jack Reed pinch runs for Mickey Mantle (PH) batting 8th; Reed scores.  Yanks win 2-1.  Ford wins 17th.

Sunday, August 11, 1963: Dodger Stadium LA
Top 8th Yanks trail Angels 1-0, two out, runner on second.  Mickey Mantle pinch hits for Clete Boyer (3B) batting 8th; Walk against Dan Osinski; Phil Linz pinch runs for Mickey Mantle (PH) batting 8th.  No runs.  Trailing 4-1 in 9th, Howard hits three run homer to tie.  Yanks win 6-4 in 10.

Wednesday, August 14, 1963: Fenway Park Boston
Top 8th Yanks trail Boston 3-0, one out, one on.  Mickey Mantle pinch hits for Jim Bouton (P) batting 9th; Strikeout Looking against Dave Morehead.  No runs.  Yanks score four in 9th but lose 5-4.

Friday, August 16, 1963: White Sox Park Chicago
Top 8th Yanks trail Chicago 2-0.  Leading off against Juan Pizzaro: Mickey Mantle pinch hits for Whitey Ford (P) batting 9th; Groundout: SS-1B.  No runs.  Yanks score four in 9th, win 4-2; Tresh, Lopez, Boyer homer.

Saturday, August 17, 1963: White Sox Park Chicago
Top 8th Yanks trail Chicago 2-0.  Against Gary Peters: Mickey Mantle pinch hits for Al Downing (P) batting 9th; Walk; Jack Reed pinch runs for Mickey Mantle (PH) batting 9th.  No runs.  Yanks lose 2-0.

Thursday, August 22, 1963: Yankee Stadium
Bottom 5th Yanks trail Cleveland 6-0, two out, two on.  Against Mudcat Grant Mickey Mantle pinch hits for Bill Kunkel (P) batting 9th; Lineout: CF. No runs.  Yanks lose 7-4.

Sunday, August 25, 1963: Yankee Stadium second game doubleheader
Bottom 12th Yanks trail Chicago 2-1, two out.  Against Gary Peters Mickey Mantle pinch hits for Steve Hamilton (P) batting 9th; Groundout: 2B-1B.  Final out of game.

Then ...

Sunday, September 1, 1963 Memorial Stadium Baltimore:  The Mick gets revenge against Baltimore again, this time at the scene of his terrible injury.

8th inning, Baltimore leads 4-1, one out, one on: Mickey Mantle pinch hits for Tom Metcalf (P) batting 9th; HR Mantle (13, off M McCormick; 8th inn, 1 on, 1 out to LF).  Mantle's two run HR made it Baltimore 4, Yankees 3.  Three batters later Tom Tresh hit a two run homer to put Yanks up 5-4, the final score.

Monday, September 2, 1963, Tiger Stadium Detroit: game one Mantle PH: DP.  Yanks win 5-4.  In game two Mantle returns to CF for the first time since his June 5 injury and goes 2 for 3 plus a walk; caught stealing.  Yanks lose 2-1.

Mantle PH in each of the next two Yankee games but then only once more in 1963 (Sept. 20), playing CF in the others.

Ah, the Mick!

Yankee fans cheered a former Yankee: should they?

Jason Giambi played for the Yankees 2002-2008.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 Giambi returned to Yankee Stadium as a member of his original team, the Oakland As.  Giambi was 1 for 4: a single off former teammate Andy Pettitte in the 4th.  Giambi played again the next day and was 0 for 6.  September 1, 2009 Giambi played his first game for Colorado.

Friday June 24, 2011 Jason Giambi played in Yankee Stadium again, this time for the Colorado Rockies.  Some Yankee fans brought signs to honor Giambi, perhaps thinking this was his first game back.  Giambi rewarded them with a home run off A.J. Burnett in his first AB which prompted an ovation from at least some of the crowd.

Someone questioned that to me, indicating that Giambi was a waste of $120,000,000, that the Yankees failed to win the World Series with Giambi and that Giambi did not hit well in the playoffs with the Yankees.  Also that Giambi broke down because he used performance enhancing stuff.   I did some research.

Click this: http://www.baseball-reference.com/play-index/share.cgi?id=9PYmr

Among Yankee 1B, Giambi is second only to Gehrig in batting (OPS+).

Yankee seasons:
- qualified for batting titles 5 of 7 seasons; others: 322, 303 PA; 502 PA required;
- MVP rank: 5, 13, 14, 18;
- 6 playoff HR, THREE against Boston 2003 ALCS (2 off Martinez in game 7), one 2003 WS;
- first Yankee since Mantle with 40 HR in consecutive seasons (41 first two seasons); also 37, 32, 32.

Was Giambi a terrible fielder?   Better fielder than Gehrig.  Giambi was terrible throwing, OK on grounders but no range, and good digging low throws out of the dirt.

Did Giambi break down because he used performance enhancing stuff?  Beats me.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Most HR per season over fences.

See the data.

Cruise through the data yourself.  Until 1931 a ball that bounced over a fence was a home run.  I looked for both Bounced HR and IPHR  (inside the park home runs).  Some quick comments:

In 1909 Ty Cobb won the triple crown, leading AL in BA, RBI, HR.  All 9 of Cobb's HR were IPHR.  Frank Home Run Baker hit four HR, three of which went over fences to lead the AL.

In 1913 in NL Gavvy Cravath of Philadelphia beat teammate Fred Luderus 19-18.  However, Cravath hit one IPHR and FIVE Bounced HR: only 13 over the fences.  Luderus had one IPHR and two Bounced HR: 15 over the fences.

OK, you see how it works.  The most recent occurrences of HR leadership being impacted by HR not over the fence:
1984: Dale Murphy (Atlanta) one IPHR tied Mike Schmidt (Philadelphia) at 36
1982: Dave Kingman one IPHR beat (Mets) Dale Murphy (Atlanta) 37-36
1980 Ben Oglivie (Milwaukee) two IPHR tied Reggie Jackson (Yankees) at 41.

The only one between 1980 and 1952: Mickey Mantle 1958 AL.  Some digression for the Mick.

In his career Mickey Mantle hit 4 IPHR:

1958-05-20 NYY @ CHW Dick Donovan    Yankees 5, White Sox 1
1958-06-05 (1) NYY CHW Early Wynn    Yankees 12, White Sox 5
1959-05-12 NYY CLE Cal McLish    Indians 7, Yankees 6
1961-06-30 NYY WSA Dick Donovan    Yankees 5, Senators 1

Fifty percent of Mantle's IPHR were against Dick Donovan.  All four were batting left handed.  Half in May, half in June, early in the season.  The two in 1958 provided Mick with his margin of victory over Cleveland slugger Rocky Colavito: 42-41 in that season's HR race, a prelude to Mantle's HR battles against new Yankee teammate Roger Maris in 1960 and 1961.

Mantle's two IPHR in 1958 were both against Chicago, one home and one away, only 16 days apart.  The first game was in Chicago; Jungle Jim Rivera CF, Tito Francona RF; neither known for their defense.  Rivera played less than 40% of his games in CF.  The home run was to CF in the 4th inning.  Mantle had doubled to left leading off the second.  Mantle grounded to second leading off the 6th but then Donovan intentionally walked Mantle in the 8th.

Mantle's IPHR 16 days later in Yankee Stadium had slick fielding Jim Landis in CF and Rivera in RF.  Mantle grounded out to second in the first against Wynn but lead off the third with his IPHR, again to CF.  Mantle later flied out to LF against Wynn, grounded a single to right against Fischer and was intentionally walked by Qualters.

Mick's other two IPHR:
- 1959: leading off third off Cal McLish "to LF (Line Drive)"; Minnie Minoso LF; Jim Piersall CF;
- 1961: off Dick Donovan (led AL in ERA, ERA+); Maris preceded Mantle's IPHR in the 6th with "Ground-rule Double (Deep RF)", HR under pre-1931 rule; Willie Tasby CF, Chuck Hinton RF.

Cool stuff.

8 men bat: resolving the DH impasse.

I've mentioned this in recent posts but it's important enough to highlight.

Now that the two separate leagues, American and National, no longer exist as independent entities, having different rules in what amount to conferences in one league (MLB) is really stupid.  The other sports leagues don't do that.  Why does MLB?  Since increasing the number of divisions from four to six in 1994 and combining AL and NL umpires into MLB umpires, there has been only one league.

This is the 40th year in which AL and NL have a different rule, the designated hitter (DH).  This was dumb from the beginning.  It should have been what I am now suggesting as a compromise: a designated fielder (DF) with only 8 batters.

To accommodate the players union, the owners should offer to expand the rosters from 25 to 26 players.  This would ensure approval by the players.  It would also probably save the owners money.  That 26th player would make the minimum, about half a million dollars, as opposed to several million paid to a DH.

The additional advantage would be that the better and more popular batters would bat more frequently.  The natural inclination of baseball people (fans, media, MLB) is to oppose something that is an obvious benefit.  They all need to calm the heck down and think this through.

There is nothing inherent in nine batters.  The number of batters do not need to equal the number of innings.  In the minors the second game of a doubleheader is 7 innings.  In a 7 inning game they do not switch to 7 batters.  In softball it's 7 innings and 10 batters.  See how this works?  Nine innings does not necessitate nine batters.  Eight batters is much better.  Fewer batters is always better.  Plus, it resolves the 39 year impasse over the stupid DH rule.

Come on already, just do it!

How about selecting playoff teams by poll?

Maybe three polls: (managers & coaches), writers and fans.  Then kind of merge the results.  This doesn't need to be precise.  We'd want it maintain some of the random nature of the current system.

In addition to the obvious inequities most of us already knew about, such as different inter-league schedules in a division,  my recent posts document the bizarre circumstances in the NL Central division since 1998, which has only gotten worse in 2006 through 2010.  During those seasons the Cincinnati Reds, for example, played different numbers of games against division rivals with these disparities: 4, 3, 3, 3, 4.  For instance in 2010 Cincinnati played 18 games against St. Louis but only 14 games against Milwaukee, both division rivals.  That's a disparity of four games.

We could possibly understand a disparity of one game, but FOUR?  Did Bud Selig and the rest of MLB think we would not notice?  If so, they were correct.  I have not heard from anyone who knew about this.  I have not heard it discussed on ESPN or MLB Network.  Do they know?

This seems like MLB is defrauding its customers by pretending that the competition is real when it is riddled with inequities.  Here are the percentages of games played in division from my June 14 post:

AL East: five teams (18*4)/162 = 44.4%
AL Central: five teams (18*4)/162 = 44.4%
AL West: four teams (19*3)/162 = 35.1%    Hey, an odd number.  Who gets the extra home game?


NL  East: five teams (18*4)/162 = 44.4%
NL Central: six teams (18+14+15+16+16)/162 = 48.8%
NL West: five teams (18*4)/162 = 44.4%

So what the heck.  Select playoff teams by polls.  The NCAA handles it that way for college basketball and football.

MLB already does it for its All Star game, which in true amateurish fashion determines home team in the MLB finals, formerly known as the World Series when it was between the champions of two separate leagues, rather than having home field awarded to the team with the better record in the regular season.

By selecting MLB playoff teams by poll, voters could consider strength of schedule, which obviously differs.  Maybe a 94 win team should be ranked higher than a 96 win team.

I just stumbled onto an article in the tabloid NY Post.  This nitwit is so entombed in the current structure that he thinks he has a good idea by going along with the MLB rumor that an NL team will be moved to the AL resulting in six divisions of five teams each.  He wants 13 games in division: 52 of 160 (yes two fewer games).  That's only 32.5%, you moron!  Teams should play at least 66.6% of their games in division for divisions to have any meaning.  That's why divisions need to have more teams, i.e., fewer divisions.  Plus, this mainstream media guy ignores the stupid DH rule, which would need to be resolved.  My resolution: 8 men bat plus a DF (designated fielder).

Part of why MLB is so stuck in its thinking is that both its fans and media don't have any real ideas either.  MLB is doomed unless it makes fundamental change very soon.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Percent above league average.

I wish baseball-reference.com had versions of OPS+ for other batting stats, i.e., factoring year and parks: BA+, SLG+, ...

A few years ago for seasons, not career, I figured percent above league average for slugging average (SLG) and batting average (BA).

SLG:
In only three seasons was it above 100%, i.e., more than double the league average:

Ruth 1920 119.3%
Ruth 1921 107.3%
Bonds 2001 103%

This is followed by Ruth, Bonds, Ruth, Bonds, Gehrig, Williams, Williams, Ruth, Ruth, Foxx.  Ty Cobb 1909 DET  67.28% was number 100.

One batter slugged more than 50% below the league.  Here are the three worst:
Bill Bergen 1909 BRO -50.25%
Wayne Tolleson 1987 NYA -43.43%
Dal Maxvill 1970 SLN -43.09%

BA:
There were only 12 seaons in which batters were more than 50% above the league.  Only 2 of those 12 were after 1917, both by Ted Williams: 1957 52.25%, 1941 52.24%.  They are ranked 10 & 11.  Ty Cobb takes 7 of the top 12.

Best: Nap Lajoie 1910 CLE 58%.
Worst: Bill Bergen 1909 BRO -43.1%    Bergen was also worst in SLG.
_______________________________________

Why is the top slugger more than twice as much above the league as the top BA: 119 to 58?

MLB schedule and organization: back to the future that never was?

Who knew NL Central had 11 different intra-division schedules in 13 years?

My previous post dealt with the curious situation of the NL Central teams playing different numbers of games against division rivals.  Using Cincinnati as the example, the division schedule became more convoluted each season from 1998 through 2010 because of its strange inexplicable variety, which I doubt was known to many fans or media.  Plus, I have no idea what it is for 2011.  I'd like it to remain a mystery.

To more fully appreciate this variety, I created a spreadsheet for Cincinnati with the number of games against division rivals sorted in descending order for each year: 1998-2010.  No opponents mentioned, just the number of games played.

In the 13 seasons covered there are two pairs of repeating numbers:

1999 & 2000:
13
13
13
12
12

2002 & 2004:
19
19
18
17
17

That's it.  The other nine seasons have sets of games that differ from all others.  Considering that there are only five opponents, it seems as if MLB was actually trying to make it convoluted, non-intuitive, illogical, unfair, un-American, ...  What the heck was Bud Selig and his MLB staff thinking?

By year:
max-min 0 1 1 1 2 2 2 1 4 3 3 3 4

In 5 of 13 years Reds played at least one division team at least 3 more games than at least one other division team.  In 8 of 13 years Reds played at least one division team at least 2 more games than at least one other division team.

Part of what makes this truly bizarre is that the team that Selig had owned, the Milwaukee Brewers, were switched from the AL in 1997 to the NL in 1998.  Why?  To accommodate the addition of an NL team in Arizona in 1998.  MLB wanted the NL to have an even number of teams (16) ... for scheduling reasons.  How is that for ironic?  Obviously, MLB continued its practice of not thinking it through.  The result was six teams in the NL Central and the scheduling mess documented in this and the two previous posts.

More irony: MLB is supposedly considering, now get this, moving Houston, not Milwaukee, to the AL to have 15 teams in each "league" ... for scheduling reasons.  You can't make this up.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MLB schedule gets curiouser and curiouser.

See previous post.

NL Central teams play different numbers of games against division rivals and I've been told that this uneven number rotates from year to year.  It turns out this is kind of correct.  Read on.

2010 is different from1998 when NL added Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks, causing NL Central to expand to six teams.

Yesterday I picked the Cincinnati Reds arbitrarily.  Here's the link for 2010 Reds.  You can check the number of games yourself.

Here the link for the Reds in 1998:

Only 11 games against other NL Central teams, 9 against other NL teams except San Diego: 12!

Another big fat: what the heck?  Bud Selig must be dumber than even I thought.

In 1999 the Reds played 12 or 13 games against division rivals; 10 against the Mets; 9 against Atlanta and Colorado; I think 7 against the remaining NL teams.

I wonder what we'll find in 2000?

Similar pattern: 12 or 13 games against NL Central division rivals.

This changed in 2001.  Reds played:
CHC 4-13 (17)
HOU 6-11 (17)
MIL 6-10 (16)
PIT 9-8 (17)
STL 7-10 (17)

Obviously Selig had no idea what he was doing when MLB expanded NL to 16 teams in 1998.  MLB was experimenting year to year.  No wonder MLB is so confused now trying to fix the mess.  Do you think this undermines the integrity of the game, you know, like steroids?

Same pattern in 2002 but drifting toward the 2010 mess:
CHC 17
HOU 17
MIL 19
PIT 18
STL 19

Different again in 2003:
CHC 17
HOU 17
MIL 18
PIT 16
STL 16

2004:
CHC 17
HOU 17
MIL 18
PIT 19
STL 19

Change is nice, isn't it?  Each season from 1998 through 2004 is different.  What next?

2005:
CHC 15
HOU 16
MIL 16
PIT 16
STL 16
Fewer games in division but almost equal.  Oh, Buddy (Selig), this scheduling thing is complicated!  Somebody should help you.  No wonder you didn't know about those silly old steroids.

2006:
CHC 19
HOU 15
MIL 19
PIT 16
STL 15
Buddy is zooming around, fine tuning that NL schedule.  Most of us had no idea it was changing so much each season.

2007:
CHC 18
HOU 15
MIL 15
PIT 16
STL 15
That Buddy.  He keeps us guessing, doesn't he?  No wonder he has all that power.

2008:
CHC 15
HOU 15
MIL 18
PIT 15
STL 15
Back to almost even.

2009:
CHC 15
HOU 16
MIL 15
PIT 18
STL 16

2010:
CHC 16
HOU 15
MIL 14
PIT 16
STL 18

MLB, clean up the mess.  Try my suggestion.  It can only help.

Two of three games must be in division.

See post TUESDAY, JUNE 14, 2011 Re-organizing MLB and resolving the DH.

In case it was missed one of the many benefits of my ideas was that 62.2% of games would be played against division rivals.  I think the basic rule should be simplified to 66.6%, i.e., a minimum of two of every three regular season games.  When expressed as a percentage it seems reasonable, maybe even too low.  So why are teams playing such low percentages of their games against division rivals?

AL East: five teams (18*4)/162 = 44.4%
AL Central: five teams (18*4)/162 = 44.4%
AL West: four teams (19*3)/162 = 35.1%    Hey, an odd number.  Who gets the extra home game?

NL  East: five teams (18*4)/162 = 44.4%
NL Central: six teams (18+14+15+16+16)/162 = 48.8%
NL West: five teams (18*4)/162 = 44.4%

Cincinnati Reds against division rivals in 2010 as NL Central example:
St. Louis Cardinals 6-12 (18)
Milwaukee Brewers 11-3 (14)
Houston Astros 10-5 (15)
Chicago Cubs 12-4 (16)
Pittsburgh Pirates 10-6 (16)

What the heck?  I don't pay much attention to the NL but still ... I was shocked that I did not know that NL Central teams played different numbers of games against division rivals.  Come on, did you know?

The Reds played 28.6% more games against the Cardinals than against the Brewers.  What the heck kind of system is this?  MLB should be embarrassed.  MLB should embrace my suggestions and stop fiddling with silly little modifications like moving Houston into the AL.  To achieve what: six divisions all playing 44% of games against division rivals?  That's progress?  And, of course, MLB must be tormented by the specter of the DH rule messing up even this dopey little change.  Demolish American and National names and go to geographic re-organization already.  It's staring you in the face.  Just do it!

MLB treats its organization and therefore its schedule like the federal tax code: an unfair mess with zillions of patches.

NFL and NBA have similar problems.  Obviously, a constitutional amendment is required to establish basic guidelines and thresholds.  My minimum 66.6% of games in division is certainly a fundamental tenet.  Let's get that amendment rolling so it can be passed by the end of the week to head off whatever lame proposal is being hatched by MLB commissioner Bug Selig and his fellow rocket scientists.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dog days extended?

See post SATURDAY, JULY 18, 2009 Dog days: between NBA and NFL seasons.

The dog days of baseball are not in August. They begin the day after the final NBA playoff game in June... until NFL pre-season games.

Since both pro basketball (NBA) and pro football (NFL) major leagues may have their regular seasons delayed, we fans may be facing extended dog days as defined here at radical baseball.  Oh, the humanity!

No other significant team sports in sight.  Baseball droning on, the pace ever slower, unlimited time outs, unlimited meetings, unlimited throws to first base, unlimited stepping off the mound, unlimited stepping out of the batters box, ...

No fast break.  No blitz.  No hurry up offense.  Just a devolving old team sport that never caught on to modern ideas: quick changes, free substitution, ...  The only significant change in the last forty years is the stupid designated hitter (DH) rule, which is only superior to having the pitcher bat.  My most recent suggestion to resolve this is the perfectly reasonable designated fielder (DF) with eight batters and no chance that it will be implemented in this millennium.

Stuck with nothing but baseball and no reform in sight.  Dog days extended?  Say it ain't so.  Say it ain't so.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Is Robinson Cano having one of the greatest seasons ever for a 2B?

That's what an announcer said over the weekend on either Fox or ESPN, each of which televised a Yankee-Cub game.  I thought: has he ever heard of Rogers Hornsby?

Cano's 2011 OPS+ is 129.  2010 was his career best: 142.  I ran some numbers in baseball-reference.com.  Click to see the data.

Since 1903 and including 2011, second basemen have had OPS+ >= 129 157 times, including repeats for individuals.  Cano's 142 is number 63 on the list.  Rogers Hornsby is the only one over 200 (five times) and 9 of the top 12 seasons.

Mickey Mantle (1965-1968): much worse batting lefty ... or was he?

BA    OBP SLG    OPS
.248    .389 .451    .840  lefty
.254    .388 .450    .839  righty

The Mick's HR per AB were almost dead even.

This contradicts the conventional wisdom, the type that tends to float around baseball and passes for fact.  In this case the general understanding is that Mickey Mantle hit much worse late in his career batting lefty, especially during those four down, tack-on seasons, 1965-1968.

I was prompted to check because of a message sent by a friend:

Subject: Mantle from the right side

I thought you would find this old (1964) article from the NY Times on Mantle prowess from the right-side (vs. lefty) late in his career... 
http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=F00E16FA3A5415738DDDAF0A94DD405B848AF1D3

The article is dated May 26, 1964, early in the season: ".545 right-handed and .190 left-handed".  Mickey improved in 1964 but was still was much worse batting lefty.   However, it didn't continue in subsequent seasons.  Here are his 1964 finals:

BA OBP SLG OPS
.241 .381 .489 0.869    lefty
.424 .511 .791 1.302    righty

Mick's real problem in 1964 was that he was way down in the second half, which was masked by his three home runs in his final World Series that season.  That was the beginning of the end of Mickey Mantle as a dominant player.  After 1964 he was no longer a super star.

BA OBP SLG OPS
.332 .442 .641 1.083 first half *
.278 .407 .548 .956    second half

*  I believe Mick's first half .332 BA was second in AL to Tony Oliva's .335; Oliva's second half BA was .310; Oliva led AL in his first full season.  1964 AL BA leaders:

1. Oliva (MIN) .323
2. Brooks Robinson (BAL) .317    AL MVP
3. Elston Howard (NYY) .313
4. Mantle (NYY) .303

See the detailed data derived from baseball-reference.com.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Re-organizing MLB and resolving the DH.

From post THURSDAY, MAY 19, 2011 Re-alignment:

Major League Baseball (MLB) intends to increase the number of teams that qualify for the playoffs from 8 to 10...   the key is to eliminate the names American and National.  This would remove the sigma from re-alignment and help to mollify the old fart inclination of the constipated traditionalist thinking ... maybe.  Anyway, it's a good idea...  The important criteria should be geographic and natural rivalries...


There should be four divisions.  Since there are 30 MLB teams, each of these divisions would have 7 or 8 teams.  It's very important to reduce the number of divisions and increase the number of teams in each division from 4-5 to 7-8
______________________________________

My basic idea was correct but I did not go far enough.

There is a rumor floating around that MLB wants to move Houston from NL to AL to have two 15 team leagues.  Pundits are falling all over themselves condemning this but for the usual incorrect reasons.  The basic problem is they are all trying to maintain the current form.  My idea is to create a new form.

The divisions should be bigger still: three divisions of ten teams.

I found that the bigger the divisions the simpler everything else became.  The key is to eliminate the old names American and National.  That's what causes most of the constipated thinking.  After that everything falls into place.

New divisions:

East:

1. New York Yankees
2. New York Mets
3. Boston Red Sox (Massachusetts)
4. Philadelphia Phillies (Pennsylvania)
5. Pittsburgh Pirates (Pennsylvania)
6. Washington Nationals (District of Columbia)
7. Baltimore Orioles (Maryland)
8. Florida Marlins (Florida)
9. Tampa Bay Rays (Florida)
10. Atlanta Braves (Georgia)

Central:

1. Milwaukee Brewers (Wisconsin)
2. Chicago White Sox (Illinois)
3. Chicago Cubs (Illinois)
4. Cincinnati Reds (Ohio)
5. Cleveland Indians (Ohio)
6. Minnesota Twins
7. Toronto Blue Jays (Canada)
8. Detroit Tigers (Michigan)
9. Kansas City Royals (Missouri)
10. St. Louis Cardinals (Missouri)

West:

1. Seattle Mariners (Washington)
2. Oakland As (California)
3. San Fransisco Giants (California)
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (California)
5. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (California)
6. San Diego Padres (California)
7. Arizona Diamondbacks
8. Colorado Rockies
9. Texas Rangers
10. Houston Astros (Texas)

Schedule:

Each team plays all 29 other teams each season.

1. Play the 20 non division teams three games each: 60 games, alternating home field every other season.
2. Play the 9 division opponents 11 games each: 99 games; yes, an odd number, alternating the extra home game every other season.

That's a 159 game regular season schedule, which is symmetrical except for the odd number against division opponents.

Playoffs:

MLB wants ten playoff teams.  Top three from each division plus one wildcard, which is low seed.  Then come up with a decent seeding system for the other nine with the team with the best record of the final two getting home field advantage and not relying on the all star game to determine that.  Boy, is that stupid.

The odd number of games played between all teams is a natural tie breaker in case of a tie.

DH resolution:

My original 2006 radical baseball ideas included replacing the designated hitter (DH) with three designated fielders (DF) and having six batters.  Everyone who bats must field.  My new idea is one DF with eight batters.  This addresses the preferences of the current conferences better known as the American and National Leagues.  The pitcher does not bat but every batter must play the field.  Cool.

If the players object, offer to increase the active roster from 25 to 26.  That would ensure approval by the players as it impacts at least 80% of players who are trying to make an MLB roster or trying to stay on one.

Summary:

I'm sure this will draw the usual small minded moaning and groaning about stupid little issues:
1. What about the all star game?
2. What about the awards?
3. What about the records?
4. Blah, blah, blah.

Grow the heck up.  Wake the heck up.  If this were implemented people would wonder why the old organization had evolved into such a mess in the first place.  This would be a huge improvement and increase revenue, too.  See post FRIDAY, MAY 20, 2011 Re-alignment would make more money for MLB.

Do it.

DiMaggio v. Mantle: BA and Slugging by year and career.

Click for data.  Data sorted on percent above American League (AL) for batting average (BA) and slugging.  AL averages NOT weighted by season in career percentage.

BA:
Mantle takes the top spot, 43.18%, and two of the top three.  Excluding partial seasons 1949 and 1963, one each, the top ten are split.

The two lowest are both for 1951, the only season that they were teammates: Mantle 1.82%, DiMaggio .21%.  Mantle's final season, 1968, was third lowest: 2.9%.  Mantle has five of the six lowest.

Dif Pct BA:
DiMaggio 20.82%
Mantle 18.73%

Slugging:

Mantle takes the top three.  Excluding partials 1949 and 1963, Mantle takes six of the top ten.

The two lowest are both for 1951, the only season that they were teammates: Mantle 16.12%, DiMaggio 10.58%.  Mantle's final season, 1968, was third lowest: 17.23%.  Mantle has six of seven the lowest.

Dif Pct:
DiMaggio 32.42%
Mantle 32.21%

My all time starters.

Off the top of my head (outfielders by position, although I don't think I'd change if considering three OF):

C Berra
1B Gehrig
2B Hornsby
SS Rodriguez
3B Schmidt
LF Bonds
CF Mantle
RF Ruth

I'm pretty comfortable with these players.  I considered Bench and Piazza for catcher and Ted Williams for left field.

A pitcher causes more hesitation.  Candidates: Johnson, Johnson, Grove, Koufax, Gibson, Seaver, Clemens.  Choosing four starters is easier than selecting one pitcher for one game.  Let's go with:

Four starters chronologically: Walter Johnson, Lefty Grove, Tom Seaver, Randy Johnson.  Nice spread in years.

5th starter: Roger Clemens.

Sacrifice fly is a dumb scoring rule. Dump it and normalize historical data.

Sacrifice fly rule and the last two .400 hitters: Bill Terry, Ted Williams. Plus Joe DiMaggio. Sunday, June 12, 2011

The sacrifice fly scoring rule was re-instated in 1954 after a long hiatus  Before 1954 stats did not differentiate between sacrifice bunts and flies; they were just sacrifice hits.  Don't know why outs were called hits..

I have a reasonable knowledge of baseball history but I did not know that the old American and National Leagues credited sacrifices for fly balls that advanced runners who did not score.  I stumbled onto that in the SABR article quoted in my previous post.  This sacrifice rule existed from 1926 through 1930.  See some data on this for individuals and AL/NL.

Sacrifice fly is a scoring rule that at first glance does not impact play on the field, which suggests that AL/NL powers were dumb at least as far back as 1930 and that dumb MLB, Inc. decisions have precedent.

Why change the rule because batting averages (BA) were high in 1930 (.296) as stated in the SABR article?  Wouldn't AL/NL powers favor high BA?  Wouldn't high BA increase fan interest?  Was the SABR author unaware that before the five year change that reduced at bats (AB) and therefore increased BA, AL/NL BA was .292?

Rogers Hornsby batted over .400 in 1922, 1924 and 1925, with a collective BA over .400 from 1921 through 1925.  Apparently that didn't bother the scoring rule makers because they made that change for the 1926 season that would increase BA.  Oddly, Hornsby's BA plumeted in 1926 to .317 as he failed to take advantage of the expanded sac fly scoring rule and had zero sac "hits".

In 1931 BA dropped to .278.  In the middle of the economic depression.  How was that good for AL/NL?  See data and graph.  Per game attendance in 1930 was 7,482 in AL, 8,494 in NL.  In 1931 it plunged to 6,243 and 7,275.  It bottomed out in 1933: 4,680 in AL, 5,088 in NL.  It did not really expand until 1946: 15,176 and 14,454.  Changing the sacrifice fly scoring rule to lower BA could not have helped.

The sacrifice fly scoring rule requiring that a run score was re-introduced for one season, 1939, which caused a slight interruption in the trend of decreasing BA:

1938 .27399338924635
1939 .27534490274391
1940 .26745578642606
1941 .26243389941063
1942 .2529262815919

It's difficult enough to compare players from different eras without having the scoring rules and qualification criteria change.  The data should be normalized for these two things.  Eliminate the sacrifice fly scoring rule.  It never made sense and it's erratic application increases confusion.  The basic sacrifice fly scoring rule, which requires that a run score, provides a double reward to the batter for making an out: no AB and run batted in (RBI).  The sacrifice fly scoring rule also impacts play on the field by providing the batter with a free pass to try for a home run; as long as the batter hits the ball at least 280 feet the run will probably score and no AB is charged.

Qualification criteria should be revised and applied for all seasons.  The equation for an average should dictate the criteria.  Plate appearances (PA) makes sense for on base percentage (OBP) since the equation is total bases (TB) divided by PA.  However, using PA for BA does not make sense as the equation is hits (H) divided by AB.  AB should be the criteria for BA.

Years ago games played was the criteria.  This rule deprived Jimmie Foxx of a second triple crown: leading a league in BA, home runs (HR) and RBI in a particular season.  Dale Alexander, who made his major league debut with Detroit in 1929 at the age of 26 leading the AL in hits with 215, batted .367 in 1932 playing for both Detroit and Boston even though he had only 454 PA and 392 AB; Alexander played in 124 games.  Alexander was batting only .250 with Detroit with 22 PA in 23 games before his trade.  Why the heck should Alexander qualify for any of the average categories?  Give Foxx retroactive posthumous credit for leading his league in BA and give him that second  triple crown, which would make Foxx the only player to have consecutive  triple crowns.

We should also increase the criteria.  Ichiro Suzuki pretty much qualifies for BA by early to mid August.  When he was younger I hoped he would expose the silliness of the BA criteria by having a .400 BA as of August 15 and then simply going home for the season to be a Japanese national hero.  Suzuki has at least 725 PA in 9 of his 10 full seasons with a high of 762 and leading the AL four times.  The criteria to qualify is only 502 PA and as stated previously this criteria should be changed to some number of AB.

Another example is George Brett who is credited with being the only batter with a .390 BA since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941 without the benefit of the sacrifice fly scoring rule.  In 1980 Brett batted .390 in 117 games with 515 PA and 449 AB.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sacrifice fly rule and the last two .400 hitters: Bill Terry, Ted Williams. Plus Joe DiMaggio.

The sacrifice fly rule:

Beginning with the 1926 season, a more liberal version of the sacrifice fly rule was instituted. The basic provision was that any players who hit fly balls advancing runners to second and third were credited with sacrifices; no time at bat was charged for a sacrifice. After the 1930 season, during which the collective batting average of the major leagues exceeded .290, the sacrifice fly rule was eliminated...

The elimination of the sacrifice fly rule reduced the number of sacrifices from 1317 in 1930 to 789 in 1931 in the National League, and from 1283 to 650 for the same two seasons in the American League. In 1939 the scoring sacrifice fly, exempting a batter from a time at bat when a runner scored after the putout on a fly ball, was restored to the game. This lasted for a single season.

after the 1953 season ... restored the sacrifice fly ... unchanged to the present day (no date on this SABR article) ...

Beginning with the 1954 averages, sacrifice bunts and sacrifice flies were listed separately in the official averages (AL pitching statistics did not separate SF from SH yielded until 1955)... SABR member Pete Palmer has determined that the three sacrifices credited to Ted Williams in 1939 were all SF.

In 1930 Bill Terry:

254/633 = 0.401263823065

If Terry had been charged with just three more at bats:
254/636 = 0.399371069182

No .400 batting average.

In 1939 Joe DiMaggio had his highest batting average: .381.  He benefited from the one year restoration of the SF rule.  For all other seasons during his career DiMaggio did not have that benefit.

Nor did Ted Williams in 1941 when he batted .406.  I think it's been estimated that Williams would have batted .413 in 1941 with the SF rule.

In 1957 at the age of 38 Williams had his second highest batting average:
163/420 = 0.388095238095

In case you were wonderinng Williams had only 2 SF:
163/(420+2) = 0.386255924171

Not much difference.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Greatest living ... June, 2011.

Joe DiMaggio was named the "Greatest Living Player" in a 1969 centennial poll of sportswriters.

You see it in many places, written almost exactly the same way with little variation.  I've just spent 30 minutes googling the damn thing and I cannot find anything more.  I even found a post that I wrote on this blog, which contains the phrase.  I'm starting to wonder if it actually happened.

1. Was there a list of the top players considered?
2. Was there a list of the voting results?  Who finished second, third, ...?

I was wondering who would have been considered back in 1969.  Here's my guess:

Joe DiMaggio
Ted Williams
Stan Musial
Willie Mays
Mickey Mantle
Hank Aaron

Am I missing somebody obvious?  Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Rogers Hornsby were all dead.

When Joe D. died in 1999 many of us thought about who should be considered the greatest living.  Most of us figured Mays.  Mantle had died.  People had started the nonsense that Aaron had been better than Mays.  No way.  From 1954 through about 1968 (until the three year older Mays started to fade before Aaron did) NOBODY thought that Hank Aaron was better than Willie Mays.  With modern stats it's become easy to prove.  Both Aaron and Mays have OPS+ 155, ironically tied with DiMaggio and Mel Ott, so their offense is equivalent.  And NOBODY thought that Aaron was better than Mays in fielding or base running.  So Mays was better.

Even in home run hitting, which provided Aaron with his distinction as the greatest home run hitter (NOBODY thought that Aaron was a better home run hitter than Mantle, Mays, Harmon Killebrew), Mays was more distinguished.  Mays hit 50 in a season twice: 52, 51; Aaron topped out at 47.  In AB/HR:

Aaron 12,364/755 = 16.3761589404
Mays 10,881/660 = 16.4863636364

Aaron and Mays are almost dead even.  Had Mays not lost almost two full seasons in the Army during the Korean War era, Willie would have been much closer in career home runs.

Unfortunately for Mays 1999 is when his godson Barry Bonds started using performance enhancing stuff like steroids and blowing past Mays.  Willie just can't catch a break on this, maybe the only thing he couldn't catch.

I was thinking about greatest living:

- ten (it's been done but the guy included pitchers: yuck)
- by position
- by team
- by team by position.
- batter

Try it with your friends and/or post comments here.  You could even try pitchers like Seaver, Clemens, Johnson chronologically.  Feller died recently.

Performance enhancer: coffee.

http://www.webmd.com/diet/slideshow-energy-mood-boost-diet?ecd=wnl_alt_061111

Coffee
Coffee may be one of the world’s most popular pick-me-ups, and evidence suggests it works – at least in the short-term. Caffeine steps up the body’s metabolism, temporarily improving mental focus and energy. Frequent mini-servings will keep you alert and focused longer than a single large dose. Just beware of drinking so much coffee that you can’t sleep at night. Lack of sleep is an obvious energy-buster.

Joe DiMaggio supposedly had the clubhouse guy bring him multiple half cups of coffee during games.  I always considered this his greenie, the amphetamine of the 1930s-1940s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphetamine

During World War II amphetamine was extensively used to combat fatigue and increase alertness in soldiers. After decades of reported abuse, the FDA banned Benzedrine inhalers, and limited amphetamine to prescription use in 1965, but non-medical use remained common. Amphetamine became a schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act in 1971.

Do Red Sox pitchers hit batters intentionally more than other teams?

June 10, 2011 a friend sent this link:

http://bigbadbaseball.blogspot.com/2011/06/return-of-beantown.html

Boston hurlers are on a spree of hitting opposing batters with pitches that has them on a record-setting pace ... 40 HBP in 62 games, putting them on pace now to plunk 104 hitters in 2011. This would set--in fact, shatter--a modern record ... Right now the Tampa Bay Rays hold the modern record for pitcher HBPs (in a season), with 95.

Hit batsmen don't even out over the course of a few years; they don't appear to be random. Since Terry Francona has taken over as the Red Sox skipper, his squads have hit 616 batters.

That gives them a lead of just under 50 HBPs over the second place team (the Texas Rangers, with 567) ... the Atlanta Braves ... hit only 358 batters over the past 8.4 seasons.
Red Sox pitchers have hit Yankee batters more than anyone else over this time span. A total of 98 Yankee batters have been plunked by Sox pitchers. The Yankees have hit 79 Red Sox hitters over that same time span.

The article states that the Yankees have hit 516 batters in 8.4 seasons, 100 fewer than Boston.

Unfortunately, it does not list the number of Base on Balls (BB) allowed.  A ratio of BB and HBP indicates intent.  If a pitching staff has a lot of both the pitchers are just wild.  If there's a high rate of HBP to BB, the pitchers are hitting batters intentionally.  I call this the meanness factor.

A few years ago I applied the meanness factor to individuals.  Among post WWII (after 1946) pitchers the meanest were Don Drysdale and Pedro Martinez with Jim Bunning third.  There are two biases: sidearm pitchers who tend to miss in or out rather than up or down (see Sandy Koufax) and pitchers who walk so few batters that their meanness factor is skewed (see Mariano Rivera).

If I had the data I'd apply the meanness factor to teams.  A glance at 2011 team stats shows that Boston leads AL in HBP and is third in BB.  Here are the 2011 meanness factors for the BB leaders as of June 10:

Boston: 40/216 = 0.185185185185
Toronto: 29/238 = 0.121848739496
Texas: 23/211 = 0.109004739336
Yankees: 21/211 = 0.0995260663507
Kansas City: 19/237 = 0.0801687763713

Boston is much meaner so far in 2011.

In 2010 Cleveland led AL with 66 HBP; Yanks 4th: 62; Boston 7th: 53.  Boston led AL with 580 BB, then Cleveland 572; Yanks 6th 540.  I don't see a pattern in 2010 to support the contention that Boston hit batters intentionally more than other teams.  Without BB to provide context, simply looking at HBP is interesting but not compelling.

Yankee announcer Michael Kay contributed to a Yankee loss.

Michael Kay has been yapping about this for years as have many Yankee fans.  Frustrated by the success that Boston Red Sox designated hitter (DH) David Ortiz has had against the Yankees, they use the metaphore that Ortiz looks too comfortable, needs to have his feet moved, etc.  Many Yankee fans state outright that Ortiz should be hit by a pitch (HBP) in the ribs.  Baseball being an old sport has many primitive cultural aspects, none more primitive than dealing with a successful opposing batter by hitting him with a pitched ball.

Ortiz record against the Yankees through June 9 and including 1,693 PA with Minnesota (don't know how many against the Yankees): 161 games, 34 HR, 124 RBI, .307 BA, ,394 OBP, .564 SLG, .958 OPS

Ortiz has higher OPS against these AL teams:
Minnesota 1.028 0 HBP
Tampa 1.010 3 HBP
Chicago .983 1 HBP
Texas .963 1 HBP

Worst:
Cleveland .802 2 HBP

Thursday, June 9, 2011 was the third and final game of a three game series in which the Red Sox had won the first two and the Yankees desperately needed a win.  At the start of that game Michael Kay stated that in the season's worth of games that Ortiz had played against the Yankees no Yankee pitcher had ever hit Ortiz.  Michael Kay and those Yankee fans who are idiots got their wish.  From the Yankee website:

Red Sox enjoy the last laugh


David Ortiz's fourth-inning plunking led to both benches being warned, but Ortiz retaliated the old-fashioned way by singling and doubling in the Red Sox's seven-run seventh, which all but secured CC Sabathia's third loss to Josh Beckett this season.

From my post: WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8, 2011 Violence Condoned.

I know Yankee fans, who are otherwise responsible adults, who advocate that Yankee pitchers hit Red Sox DH David Ortiz in the ribs because Ortiz is too successful.  Suppose tennis player Roger Federer fired his racket over the net and hit Rafael Nadal in the ribs because Federer cannot beat Nadal on clay?  How would that be different?

During the three games against the Red Sox six Yankee batters were HBP.  I did not think that any were intentional, judged by game situation, type of pitch and where the batters were hit.  For instance two were hit in the back knee by sliders thrown by lefty John Lester to righty batters, one on the back foot by another pitcher.

For last night's Yankee game against Cleveland the Yankee website stated:

Mark Teixeira's second plunking this week -- one pitch after Curtis Granderson's second-inning homer -- cleared both benches and bullpens, but the Yanks got even with the Tribe by scoring in all but two innings to make a winner of Ivan Nova.

Just so you don't think I am soft on HBP, I was incensed when Teixeira was hit in the upper back by 6'4", 230 pound Fausto Carmona.  It was immediately clear to me and to the Yankees that this HBP was intentional.  Teixeira challenged Carmona, who because of his size advantage, did not back down.  Yankee manager Joe Girardi got into an intense face to face shouting match with Cleveland manager Manny Acta.  I was screaming at the TV.  I wanted retribution.  This time cooler heads prevailed.  There were no acts of vengeance and the Yankees won easily.

Girardi had been influenced to act differently in the previous game against the Red Sox.  To his further discredit at the start of the Cleveland game Michael Kay denied any responsibility by the media, he chief among those calling for Ortiz to be HBP, in influencing the Yankees to hit Ortiz, who agreed with me, that the media did cause the Yankees to hit him intentionally.  Kay also emphasized that the Yankee players, including captain Derek Jeter, were proud of CC Sabathia for supposedly protecting his teammates, even though it led to the team's defeat..  Derek Jeter can accept a loss due to a media created need for team vengeance?  Shame on the Yankees for being manipulated by people who do not suffer the consequences.

This problem will never be resolved because baseball is so old, so primitive and so resistant to change.  The same dynamics will continue to play out again and again in baseball purgatory.  I dumped NHL hockey in about 1986 because I thought the NHL was playing me for a sucker with fight ethics that were very similar to those in professional wresting, where fans are supposed to become incensed over ridiculous incidents that result in condoned fights.

From my post TUESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2009 Getting hit with the ball (which dealt specifically with batters being hit in the head):

Punishment is the key. Currently, the punishment 99% of the time is that the batter gets first base. Big deal.
Here is some of the traditional crap that I do not want to hear:
- it's part of the game
- pitchers need to pitch inside
- pitchers do not throw at the batter's head
- it's up to the batter to get out of the way.
What is this ancient Rome? Enough already. And, no, the balance will not tip to the batter, not until batting averages top .500.

There may be no greater disparity in team sports than a pitcher being allowed to hit a batter.  The batter has no recourse.  Instead of punishing the batter for charging the mound, which may be a mismatch depending on his size and that of the pitcher, allow immediate and direct payback.  Give the batter a ball and let him chase down the pitcher and fire the ball at him anywhere but the head.  Now that would work because it is fair.

This is better than the current payback system, which reminds me of the original 1972 Godfather movie.  Sonny sheepishly confesses to his ailing father (Vito) that as acting Don, Sonny's policy has been little more than: "They hit us and we hit them back."  Long after Sonny's death Vito tells Tom Hagen: "I thought Santino (Sonny) was a bad Don.  Rest in peace.".

Friday, June 10, 2011

When rain is a crime.

Last night's Yankee - Red Sox game was scheduled to start at 7PM.  Because of rain and no roof on the new one billion dollar Yankee Stadium, the start of the game was delayed until about 10:30PM.  I went to bed without waiting.

There should be a Geneva Convention making this type of fan treatment a crime against humanity.  It should also be unconstitutional.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Derek Jeter v. Álex Rodríguez

Derek Jeter Height: 6' 3", Weight: 195 lb. Born: June 26, 1974

Álex Rodríguez Height: 6' 3", Weight: 230 lb. Born: July 27, 1975

As a Yankee fan I'm hearing ad nauseam from Yankee announcers that Jeter is about to become the first player to get his 3,000th hit as a Yankee and that all 3,000 will be as a Yankee.

Jeter is getting more attention from media and fans here in New York than teammate Álex Rodríguez got for hitting his 500th home run as a Yankee.  More than Rodríguez got for hitting his 600th home run as a Yankee, becoming only the seventh player to reach 600 home runs.  Rodríguez has 624 home runs, six behind number 5 on the list, Ken Griffey, Jr.  Jeter: 236 (230th).

To date 46% of the plate appearances by Rodríguez have been as a Yankee.  Two of his three AL MVP awards have been as a Yankee.  Jeter has none.

Recently Yankee announcers mentioned that Rodríguez had passed Mel Ott on the all time RBI list to move into tenth place: currently 1,856.  Jeter has 1,152 RBI (168th).

Derek Jeter and Álex Rodríguez started at about the same time and have similar numbers of plate appearances:

Jeter 10,818
Rodríguez 10,444

So comparing their totals is not unreasonable.

Runs:
Jeter 1,720 (24th)
Rodríguez 1,793 (18th)

Hits:
Jeter 2,989 (28th)
Rodríguez 2,731 (55th)

Doubles:
Jeter 476 (74th)
Rodríguez 485 (67th)

Walks:
Jeter 970 (124th)
Rodríguez 1,141 (67th)

Strike Outs:
Jeter 1,600 (32nd)
Rodríguez 1,884 (7th)

Stolen Bases:
Jeter 328 (127th)
Rodríguez 304 (153rd)

Double Plays Grounded Into:
Jeter 241 (35th)
Rodríguez 218 (66th)

Runs Created:  Note: invented by Bill James to estimate the number of runs a hitter contributes to his team. I could not determine which version baseball-reference.com uses.
Jeter 1,697 (47th)
Rodríguez 2,037 (19th)

How about some averages:

Batting Average:
Jeter .313 (83rd)
Rodríguez .302 (182nd)

On-Base%:
Jeter .383 (151st)
Rodríguez .386 (125th)

Slugging %:
Jeter .449 (378th)
Rodríguez .569 (12th)

On-Base Plus Slugging (OPS):
Jeter .832 (235th)
Rodríguez .955 (20th)

Adjusted OPS+:
Jeter 118 (391)
Rodríguez 145 (47th)

OK, it's pretty obvious that Álex Rodríguez is a much better player than Derek Jeter.  Even considering that Jeter has played his entire career as a Yankee and that Rodríguez has played only 46% as a Yankee, what the heck?

Imagine if Rodríguez had pulled that stunt that Jeter pulled last season, faking that he had been hit by a pitch and having the game delayed while the Yankee manager and trainer attended to his non-injury.  Rodríguez would have been killed by media and fans, even Yankee fans.

I love Jeter but all this 3,000 hit thing has got to tone down.  It's not that big a deal.  Let's pay more attention to Rodríguez.

Note: for an update, see:

Derek Jeter announces his retirement after 2014 season and the slobbering is in full force on the Selig TV Network.  Thursday, February 13, 2014

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Most homers in one road park in one season for one batter, Part 2.

See data in a free google spreadsheet that  I created.  See June 1, 2011 posts.   I cleaned up the data and added detail.

Most of the occurrences were before expansion started (1961 AL, 1962 NL), decreasing the number of games between teams from 22 (11 home, 11 road).

Harry Heilmann of the Detroit Tigers hit TEN home runs in Shibe Park Philadelphia in 1922 against the As; one bounced into the stands and would not be considered a home run after 1931.

Five batters hit nine in one road park in one season:
Lou Gehrig 1931
Jimmie Foxx 1932
Stan Spence (2 home, 12 season) 1943
Joe Adcock (6 home) (four in one game) 1954
Willie Mays 1955

There were 24 seasons in which a player hit at least 8 home runs in a road park.

three each:
Ruth:  Fenway Park,  Shibe Park,  Sportsman's Park III
Gehrig: League Park IV,   Shibe Park,  Sportsman's Park III

two each:
Foxx:   Tiger Stadium, Sportsman's Park III
DiMaggio:   Sportsman's Park III twice
Mays: Ebbets Field, County Stadium

Parks multiple times:
  Sportsman's Park III St. Louis 7 (6 Browns, 1 Cardinals)
  Shibe Park Philadelphia As 4
  Baker Bowl Philadelphia Phillies 2
  Ebbets Field Brooklyn Dodgers 2

Teams  multiple times against:
Browns 6
As 4
Phillies 2
Dodgers 2

Teams doing it multiple times:
Yankees 9
Giants 4
Cardinals 2
Orioles 2

four in one game:
Gehrig 1932   Shibe Park
Adcock 1954   Ebbets Field
Mays 1961   County Stadium

Mike Schmidt hit four in one game in Wrigley Field Chicago in 1976 but his 8 homers there occured in 1980.

Most HR season:
Sosa 64
Ruth 60
Foxx 58
Mays 51

Fewest HR season:
Stan Spence 12 (2 home)
Babe Dahlgren 15 (2 home)
Bill Terry 20 (10 home)
Harry Heilmann 21  (8 home, 10 in Shibe Park)

Most AB:
Terry 58
DiMaggio 53
DiMaggio 50

Fewest AB:
Powell 31
Mays 37 (1961)
Gentile 37
Schmidt 38
Adcock 39

Best AB/HR:
Powell 3.875
Adcock 4.33
Spence 4.44
Mays 4.625 (1961)
Gentile 4.625

Worst AB/HR:
Bill Terry 7.25
Joe DiMaggio 6.625
Joe DiMaggio 6.25

Most games:
Bill Terry 15 note: 1927 Giants played 74 games at home, 80 on road
Joe DiMaggio 12 (1937)
Babe Ruth 12 (1927)
Harry Heilmann 12

Fewest games:
Mike Schmidt 9
Boog Powell 9
Sammy Sosa 10
Jim Gentile 10
Stan Spence 10

Oddities:
Joe DiMaggio 1936 288 AB, 8 HR Yankee Stadium;  50 AB, 8 HR  Sportsman's Park III St. Louis

Babe Dahlgren 1939 242 AB, 2 HR Yankee Stadium;  48 AB, 8 HR  Shibe Park Philadelphia (one IPHR)

Violence Condoned.

Bryce Harper playing for Class-A Hagerstown of the South Atlantic League hit a home run and as he circled the bases, Harper blew a kiss at the Greensboro pitcher.  This was captured on video and has gotten considerable media attention.  Yesterday on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" TV program Michael Wilbon stated that for the remainder of the season every time Harper faced this pitcher, the pitcher should hit Harper in the ribs.  Wilbon was quite clear.  He did not advocate that the pitcher merely throw the ball close to Harper but that the pitcher actually hit Harper each time.

I know Yankee fans, who are otherwise responsible adults, who advocate that Yankee pitchers hit Red Sox DH David Ortiz in the ribs because Ortiz is too successful.  Suppose tennis player Roger Federer fired his racket over the net and hit Rafael Nadal in the ribs because Federer cannot beat Nadal on clay?  How would that be different?

Firing a baseball into a batter's ribs has become synonymous with a non-injury event by people who have not played sports for a very long time.  In 2007 I was playing one on one basketball and was elbowed in the ribs causing a kidney to be concussed, internal bleeding for a week, followed by a urinary tract infection, despite hospital treatment the day of the injury.  That other player's elbow was not moving at 90 miles per hour. Hitting someone the ribs can cause considerable pain and injury.  Baseball people, wake the heck up.  Grow the heck up.

How is this different from those two men outside Dodger Stadium  who beat a Giants fan nearly to death earlier this season?  Their brutality was tangentially related to baseball but was outside the game itself.  How is a perceived breach of baseball protocol during a game a reason to physically attack the offending player?  Why is a media person allowed to advocate such an attack with impunity?  Suppose Wilbon had advocated or defended the attack on the Giants fan?  Wilbon would likely have been criticized, censured and possibly fired by ESPN.  Why then is Wilbon permitted to advocate that one baseball player attack another, not to defend himself, but because of an otherwise non-dangerous and trivial act?

I am not an attorney but let me try to look at the legal implications as a lay person.  It's my understanding that a professional boxer's hands are legally considered deadly weapons and that for a pro to hit a non-pro outside the ring is considered an attack with a deadly weapon.  How is that different from a baseball pitcher who is capable of throwing the ball 90 miles per hour from about 55 feet from the batter, intentionally hitting the batter?  Isn't that an attack with a deadly weapon?  If the pitcher did the same thing in a bar to someone who challenged him to do so, figuring that he was quick enough to evade the ball, and the challenger was hit in the head and died, wouldn't that pitcher be charged with manslaughter at the very least?

Am I missing something?  Why is violence not just condoned but advocated?  And at what age is it permissible for baseball players to be violent?  Twelve year old little leaguers?  Should they be encouraged to engage in such acts of violent retribution?

I raised the topic of age in this post:

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2010 Derek Jeter behaved badly and should apologize.

It involved the non-dangerous innocuous act of faking an injury.  NOBODY took my point of view.  Shame on EVERBODY.  Shame on Michael Wilbon.  Condoning behavior in adults that you would not advocate for kids is reprehensible, especially when it involves violence.  Baseball as national pastime should demonstrate our best behavior, not display our worst.  To the extent that bad behavior is deeply rooted in baseball, it should be removed.  Wife beating is no longer condoned in general society.  Why is batter beating?

Many of my posts are radical.  This one is not, but tragically will be perceived as such.  That's radical.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Leadoff and walk-off homers.

Albert Pujols won each of the last two Cardinal games with walk-off homers.  A batter can hit a walk-off homer only in the bottom of the last inning that ends the game.  Only a batter for the home team can hit a walk-off homer.  Homering in the top of the last inning, even if it puts the batter's team ahead and decides the game does not count.  Obviously, the winning players do not walk off the field in triumph until they have retired the home team in the bottom of the inning, so the term seems to dictate the definition but the meaning seems corrupted when compared with leadoff home run.

A leadoff home run is credited to the first batter in either half of the first inning.

Odd, isn't it?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Most homers in one road park in one season for one batter.

See the previous post.

A friend suggested that I send my question to David Vincent.  I did and received a prompt reply.   Thank you, David.

Only three batters did it after expansion in 1961 (AL) and 1962 (NL), which reduced the number of games between teams from the high of 22 (11 home, 11 road).

David sent this:

Here is what I found.
Most in Park by Visitor (Season)
 1 Harry Heilmann        10
  Shibe Park, 1922
 2 Lou Gehrig             9
  Sportsman's Park III, 1931
  Jimmie Foxx            9
  Tiger Stadium, 1932
  Stan Spence            9
  Sportsman's Park III, 1943
  Joe Adcock             9
  Ebbets Field, 1954
  Willie Mays            9
  Ebbets Field, 1955
 7 Babe Ruth              8
  Sportsman's Park III, 1923
  Babe Ruth              8
  Fenway Park, 1927
  Bill Terry             8
  Sportsman's Park III, 1927
  Jim Bottomley          8
  Baker Bowl, 1929
  Babe Ruth              8
  Shibe Park, 1930
  Lou Gehrig             8
  Shibe Park, 1932
  Mel Ott                8
  Baker Bowl, 1934
  Lou Gehrig             8
  League Park IV, 1936
  Joe DiMaggio           8
  Sportsman's Park III, 1936
  Joe DiMaggio           8
  Sportsman's Park III, 1937
  Jimmie Foxx            8
  Sportsman's Park III, 1939
  Babe Dahlgren          8
  Shibe Park, 1939
  Stan Musial            8
  Polo Grounds V, 1948
  Willie Mays            8
  County Stadium, 1961
  Jim Gentile            8
  Wrigley Field, 1961
  Boog Powell            8
  Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, 1964
  Mike Schmidt           8
  Wrigley Field, 1980
  Sammy Sosa             8
  Minute Maid Park, 2001

A quick glance suggests that there may be multiple four home run games.  I'll research the details.