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.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Defensive (actually fielding) Efficiency

Baseball is an odd game.  The offense does not possess the ball.  The defense cannot score.  The best defense is a strike out.


Measuring individual defense is unlike measuring individual offense mainly because the offense is not required to hit the ball to an individual defender.  I am very skeptical about the various measurements such as Nick Swisher somehow appearing to be a good defender.  What am I to believe: the defensive stats or my lying eyes? Or is it the lying defensive stats?


Defense is best measured on a team level.  Baseball defense has two components: pitching and fielding.  Most people make fielding synonymous with defense.  This is clearly incorrect.


The common sense measurement of team fielding is the percent of batted balls converted into outs.  There is a measurement for this with the unfortunate description of Defensive Efficiency.  Clearly it should be called Fielding Efficiency as it removes both strike outs and home runs (I assume only those hit over fences) and includes both hits and batters who reach base on errors.


Seventy percent seems to be a good number, i.e., a team converts 70% of fielding opportunities into outs, not including uncaught foul flies.


baseball-reference.com calls it DeffEff.  Here's the link for the 1934 AL.  If you sort DeffEff you will see that the Yankees led with .703 (70.3%).  They also led each season after through 1939 and won the WS in 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939.  So did the 1927 Yankees.  The 1961 Yankees were second to Baltimore.  The 1998 Yankees led and won 114 games.  So maybe there's some real value here.


The 1933 Yankees were last in fielding efficiency (DeffEff): 68.2%. The 1932 Yanks won the WS but were only fifth with 69%, slightly above the AL average (68.8%).  The DeffEff number is about the same but the rank dropped from 5 to 8.  What was the difference between the 1932 and 1933 Yankees?  Beats me.  The starters were all the same (1933 ages shown):

C Bill Dickey 26
1B Lou Gehrig 30
2B Tony Lazzeri 29
SS Frankie Crosetti 22
3B Joe Sewell 34
OF Earle Combs 34
OF Babe Ruth 38
OF Ben Chapman 24


Crosetti made 43 errors in 1933.  Lazzeri 25.  Sewell 13.  Their error totals in 1932: 29, 17, 9.  Lyn Larry also played 91 games in the 1932 infield and made 25 errors.  According to the DeffEff definition in baseball-reference.com, 71% of errors result in a batter reaching base as opposed to advancing on the bases.


The 1932 Yanks made 190 errors, 1933 164.  Errors do not seem to be the reason that the 1933 Yankees were last in fielding efficiency.


The 1934 Yanks made 160 errors and led AL in DeffEff: 70.3%.  Crosetti had a wopping 39 errors, followed by rookie Red Rolfe (19) who had played only one game previously (in 1931) and shared third base with 31 year old Jack Saltzgaver (12).  Lazzeri made 18 errors and Chapman 13.

Hits/Innings DeffEff rank:
1932 1,425 1,408 5th
1933 1,426 1,354.66 last
1934 1,349 1,382.66 first


Only in 1934 did the Yanks allow fewer hits than innings pitched.

Errors DeffEff rank error rank:
1932 190 5th 5th fewest errors
1933 164 last 4th fewest errors
1934 160 first second fewest errors


H/9 rank:
1932 first; won WS
1933 second to Washington (first in DeffEff), which won 99 games to Yanks 91
1934 first; Detroit (4th in DeffEff) won 101 games, Yanks second with 94


What to make of DeffEff?  Don't know.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Meanness Factor: how to determine if HBP is intentional.

Simple.  Compare BB to HBP.

Do pitchers hit batters simply because they are wild or do they hit batters because they are mean?  The Meanness Factor simply compares BB and HBP.  It's pretty basic and indicates general intent.

A few years ago I applied the meanness factor to individuals.  Among post WWII (after 1946) the meanest pitchers 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).

See data:

Meanest Pitchers

Nicest Pitchers

HBP 1945-2011

Mickey Mantle was the best home run hitter of his era.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Best World Series Players Ever

A friend sent this:

http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2011/8/12/2358507/world-series-win-probability-added-leaders

My response:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/a/aikenwi01.shtml

Willie Aikens played in only one WS.  It seems absurd to include him.

Mariano Rivera pitched in 7 WS but only 36 innings.  Plus, he blew the
lead and game in game 7 2001, the biggest blown save in MLB history.

Rollie Fingers: 3 WS, 33 innings.

Mike Stanton: 6 WS, 23 innings.

Bob Gibson: 3 WS, 81 innings.

Christy Mathewson: 4 WS, 101 innings.  11 starts, 10 CG.

What the heck?

Talk about apples and oranges.

Ken

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Baseball has become unwatchable.

Boston Sunday Aug 7, 2011: ten innings, four hours and 15 minutes!  What an outrage.  Boston beat the Yankees 3-2.  Both Yankee runs scored on solo homers.  The Yankees had 8 hits, Boston 11.  What the heck?  FOUR hours for that!?

Watch the Little League World Series.  The kids are being taught the same boring ass bad habits that MLB players have developed over the decades.

I set my DVR fast forward button to ten seconds.  The only civilized way to watch a baseball game is on TV and by constantly clicking that DVR ten second fast forward button.  It's amazing how much dead time there really is during a game ... between pitches.  Between pitches!

It's easily correctable but neither MLB nor any of the subordinate or amateur levels of organized baseball have any inclination to correct the problem.  That's why baseball is fading as a significant American activity.  It's mid-summer.  Go out and find kids playing on the baseball fields.  You can't.  When you do find some baseball activity it's always some boring ass adult run junk.  You NEVER see kids out playing games of baseball: stickball, wiffleball, home run derby, grounders, whatever.  Games that we made up so that a few of us could play some kind of informal baseball activity.

Slow pitch softball is still popular.  The reasons are obvious.  The game moves.  It has flow.  There's no fear of being injured by a pitched ball.  Slow pitch softball is the essence of baseball.  MLB is the opposite, it's the anti-baseball.  That's why people still play slow pitch softball.  The problem is that most of the players are old.

Baseball is a dieing American sport and when its demise in America becomes apparent to those who could have saved baseball it will be too late.  MLB is played by ever higher percentages of foreign born players, approaching 30%.  Americans are not playing baseball.   Next, Americans will stop watching baseball because baseball has become unwatchable.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mel Stottlemyre for the Hall of Fame!

Say what?  Mel?  Mel Sr.?

Mel Stottlemyre joined the New York Yankees August 12, 1964: 9-3 2.06 ERA.  Without Stottlemyre the Yanks probably would have not won their last AL pennant under the old pre common draft dynasty.  In the WS against St. Louis Stottlemyre started games 2, 5, 7 all against Gibson.  Stottlemyre beat Gibson in game 2.  Gibson won game 5 in ten innings; Pete Mikkelsen took the loss.  Gibson beat Stottlemyre in game 7.

Mel Stottlemyre was 20-9 in 1965, 21-12 in 1968, 20-14 in 1969.  He was an all-star in 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970.  Arm trouble cut his career short: 164-139 2.97 ERA.

So, Mel Stottlemyre for the Hall of Fame?  No, not as a pitcher.  As a pitching coach.

Stottlemyre was the pitching coach for five WS champions: Mets 1986 , Yankees 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000.

If a manager had that record he would be elected to the Hall of Fame.  So why not a coach?  It's better than inducting owners and executives.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Why red blooded Americans hate the Red Sox ... and their fans.

It's raining here in White Plains, NY and I'm watching C-Span2 at 8AM.  Margaret Hoover is speaking to an all white audience in Simi Valley, CA at the Ronald Reagan Institute.  Simi Valley is best known as the place where white police officers savagely beat a near-do-well black man named Rodney King about twenty years ago.  The Reagan guy who introduced Margaret mentioned that his organization was bending over backward to ... I expected him to say objectively present Reagan.  No, the guy said to promote Reagan.  Yeah, isn't that what you'd expect?  This shows the density which some white people have.  That and the semi-hot blond Margaret, the great-granddaughter of former president Herbert Hoover, who was describing how the Republican party could capture potential voters under 30 years of age.  I didn't listen long enough to learn if Margaret meant that the under 30 crowd would also support the Republican objectives to abolish Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  You know, since young people won't need that stuff any time soon.  Anyway, it inspired me to write something that I probably should have written sooner.

For several years I have mentioned to friends that in Fenway Park Boston there are more black people on the two baseball teams, including coaches, than in the stands.  The Yankees are playing there this weekend and that impression was once again re-enforced emphatically.  Friday, Spike Lee, a black New York film maker, was shown in a front row seat rooting for the Yankees.  He stood out in that sea of whiteness.  With HDTV it's pretty easy to view individuals in the stands.  Saturday I saw former mayor Rudolph Giuliani even though the dense FOX announcers did not mention him.

Boston is and always has been the densest most parochial major league sports town with the possible exception of New Orleans, which barely qualifies with only NFL and NBA franchises and is hardly worth mentioning since its inhabitants insist on living in a major flood zone below sea level.

The appearance of the Red Sox fans suggests massive inbreeding gone amok.  These people all look like relatives with the same crazed expression.  The worst part is that none of them realize any of this.

This is probably the essence of why red blooded Yankees fans and other Americans despise Red Sox fans so much.  Sixty years ago the Red Sox supposedly passed on signing Willie Mays and were the last MLB team to integrate.  Yes, I know, Red Sox fans embrace David Ortiz while the Red Sox management continues to bring up an unending supply of white guys like the guy they plugged into yesterday's lineup.  Celtic fans are no better.

They play their peculiar little game in their peculiar little ballpark: wall ball in left, triangle ball in right center, Johnny Pesky ball down the right line.  Who can stand any of this?

Parochial and provincial in the extreme.  They choke on their accent, which makes my teeth hurt.  What major league town is so isolated geographically, socially, demographically, racially, ...?

I never met a Met fan who knew what he was talking about ... or a Boston fan of any sport.  May both teams depart the planet never to darken its doors again.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How about a profit cap?

Fans and media are so anti-(labor, players, themselves) that it never occurs to them to cap the owners greed rather than the players income.  Fans and media always want a salary cap.  How about a profit cap?

If owners could only earn a set amount, then they would have no incentive to scrimp on paying players.  Cool.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Trading deadline: does MLB warn its customers that teams might dismantle 2/3 through the season?

MLB teams create tons of promotional stuff to influence people into buying tickets, especially tickets for all the games in the season, season tickets.

That promotional stuff emphasizes the star players and how well the team is expected to perform in the upcoming season.  Nowhere does MLB promotional stuff indicate that teams reserve the right to remove star players to save money and/or to build a better team for successive seasons.  The customer bought tickets for THIS season and expected to see the star players featured unless such players were injured or died.

How the heck does MLB get away with this?

Why don't customers file a class action law suit?