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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Fielding stats: is it back to observation?

There once was a time when we actually thought we could tell if a player was a good fielder by simply watching him over the course of a season.  Then fielding stats went beyond fielding percentage and assists into the wild blue yonder and into what seems like a constant state of flux all the while insisting that the current stats can homogenize themselves into runs saved and wins above replacement and equivalent to batting numbers.

I have the impression that fielding stats are creeping back into the realm of observation to which I ask: isn't that what we were doing all along?  You know, we pretty much knew who could make spectacular plays and who knew where to play to avoid needing to make spectacular plays and who messed up too many routine plays and combinations of the above.  Not to mention the fielders on our team we did not want the ball hit to in a clutch situation.

I think the new old idea is to evaluate plays based on degree of difficulty, which is pretty subjective: cue the Romanian judge in the Olympic ice dancing competition.  This, of course, is also a function of where the fielder is positioned but let's leave that aside for now.  Example: one fielder catches ten pop ups and another makes five diving plays catching line drives.  By simply counting, the pop up fielder has twice the "range" as the line drive fielder.  Obviously, this does not tell us much.  Plus, the pop up guy may be capable of making fielding plays that are more spectacular but he is also better at positioning so he's not required to do so as often.

Maybe most people know how stats are currently categorized but I do not.  Some illustrations of my, and possibly your, ignorance.

Third baseman playing even with the bag:

1. line drive past him on the bag side that lands about ten feet behind him: I guess that's a line drive and opportunity missed
2. same line drive past him on the shortstop side that goes into left for a single: another opportunity missed
3. same as number 2 but this time the shortstop fields the ball on a hop and retires the batter at first:
    - Is that still an opportunity missed for the third baseman and is it still a line drive for him?
    - It must be a grounder for the shortstop.
    - Do both fielders get counts incremented on the same play?

Am I the only one who does not know this stuff?  Or is much of this fielding analytics obscure even to some of its advocates?  Just wondering.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Farewell tour does not a tournament make.

Two farewell tours.  Two tournaments missed.  A lesson to be learned?  Probably not by the Steinbrenner Kids who inherited the New York Yankees from their late father George.  They may be saved from their unimaginative selves.  The only remaining Yankee of any note who has spent his entire career with the team is Brett Gardner, not a likely candidate but if the Yanks are in real trouble before they can invent distractions using former player they may prevail upon Gardner to announce his retirement, form a charitable foundation and go on farewell tour even if it means years of meaningless sappy tribute.  For that Gardner would have to be a real team player.
Brett Gardner in Baltimore
April 24, 2011
by Keith Allison
via Wikimedia Commons

Maybe the Yankees were being punished.  Even with a second wild card in the tournament the Yankees failed to qualify for the tournament both seasons that they inflicted the two absurd farewell tours on the baseball world.  It probably serves them and their fans right.

Kill the farewell tour, a combination one man old timers day and shotgun wedding.  Monday, February 17, 2014

... the 2013 farewell tour of Mariano Rivera.  As Rivera visited other ball parks the home team chose or felt compelled to honor Rivera as previous teams had done.  By the mid way point I was really uncomfortable with this.  Teams were striving to find increasingly more imaginative ways of paying tribute to the greatest 60 inning a year pitcher in baseball history.  I do not know of anything similar to this.  Not for Mickey Mantle.  Not for Joe DiMaggio.  Not even for the symbol of baseball tragedy, Lou Gehrig.  The Yankees held a day of tribute July 4, 1939 for their sick captain at Yankee Stadium, bringing back Gehrig's 1927 teammates; Gehrig made his famous speech that day.

When Babe Ruth was nearing death the Yankees initiated what evolved into an annual old timers day.  The Babe died in 1948.  Other teams tried them, too, but I think that the Yankees are the only team that still holds an annual event.

No doubt when he is retired Derek Jeter will be invited to the Yankee old timers day.  That's enough for me.  Another farewell tour similar to Mariano's would be absurd in the extreme...

The Yankees will probably have a day of tribute for Jeter later this season.  OK, I guess.  I'd prefer that this be done after the player has actually retired...

Kill the tour.  One was one too many.
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Why didn't Chipper Jones get a farewell tour?  Saturday, September 20, 2014

Chipper Jones retired one year before the back to back farewell tours for Yankees Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter.  Maybe no one thought about it.  Maybe Jones didn't want it.  Maybe he got a mini version that we don't even recall.

I'm a Yankee fan but half way through Rivera's 2013 farewell tour I thought it was way overblown and inappropriate.  Fraternization on the field between opposing players is prohibited but commissioner Selig neglected to suspend anyone 211 games.

I had hoped that this would not be repeated but Jeter announced his retirement before the 2014 regular season and allowed the Yankees and opposing teams to exceed the silliness of what was done for Rivera.  I'm guessing that some players are resentful, including teammates, but so far none have had the nerve to speak up.
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Derek Jeter, George C. Marshall, Chipper Jones.  Monday, October 13, 2014

George C. Marshall declined to write a memoir because he did not want to profit from his public service...

Jeter succumbed to celebrity attention that exceeded even what he had experienced as a key member of five championship teams.  This culminated with personal Derek Jeter flags replacing the 30 team flags atop Yankee Stadium and personal Derek Jeter patches on the caps and home shirts of all Yankee players.  This screamed of self over team but Jeter by then was deaf to all but the applause.

Over 20 years the Yankees paid Derek Jeter $265 million dollars for the regular season.  Despite that Jeter has been doing everything possible to make even more money by capitalizing on his retirement.
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Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Yankees must hit home runs to win and to be the Yankees.

The 2014 Yankees scored 633 runs and allowed 664.  The Yankee Pythagorean W-L: 77-85.  Actual record: 84-78.  This suggests that the 2014 Yankees were not as good as their 84 wins might suggest.

2014 Yankees hit 147 home runs (HR) led by these, only Yankees in double figures:
Brian McCann 23
Mark Teixeira 22
Brett Gardner 17
Jacoby Ellsbury 16
Carlos Beltran 15.

The Yankee team record for HR is 245 set by the 2012 Yankees (95-67) led by:
Curtis Granderson 43
Robinson Cano 33
Mark Teixeira 24
Nick Swisher 24
Russell Martin 21.

Let's look at two other seasons.

1961 Yankees (109-53) set a major league record with 240 HR led by:
Roger Maris 61; new season record
Mickey Mantle 54
Bill Skowron 28.

1927 Yankees (110-44) 158 HR (11 more than 2014 Yankees) led by:
Babe Ruth 60; new season record; out homered all other AL teams
Lou Gehrig 47; most HR by someone other than Ruth through 1927
Tony Lazzeri 18; third in AL.
Babe Ruth
Except for 2008 (180) the Yankees hit at least 200 HR every year from 2000 through 2012.  Yankee fans were spoiled.

Yankees
yearID teamID MaxOfHR SumOfHR SumOfAB SumOfR
1920 NYA 54 115 5173 837
1921 NYA 59 134 5250 948
1922 NYA 35 95 5240 757
1923 NYA 41 105 5345 824
1924 NYA 46 98 5226 799
1925 NYA 33 110 5350 706
1926 NYA 47 121 5210 847
1927 NYA 60 158 5354 976
1928 NYA 54 133 5337 894
1929 NYA 46 142 5376 899
1930 NYA 49 152 5447 1062
1931 NYA 46 155 5608 1067
1932 NYA 41 160 5476 1002
1933 NYA 34 144 5271 927
1934 NYA 49 135 5368 842
1935 NYA 30 104 5214 818
1936 NYA 49 182 5591 1065
1937 NYA 46 174 5487 979
1938 NYA 32 174 5410 966
1939 NYA 30 166 5300 967
1940 NYA 31 155 5286 817
1941 NYA 33 151 5444 830
1942 NYA 26 108 5305 801
1943 NYA 31 100 5282 669
1944 NYA 22 96 5331 674
1945 NYA 18 93 5176 676
1946 NYA 30 136 5139 684
1947 NYA 20 115 5308 794
1948 NYA 39 139 5324 857
1949 NYA 24 115 5196 829
1950 NYA 32 159 5361 914
1951 NYA 27 140 5194 798
1952 NYA 30 129 5294 727
1953 NYA 27 139 5194 801
1954 NYA 27 133 5226 805
1955 NYA 37 175 5161 761
1956 NYA 52 190 5312 857
1957 NYA 34 145 5271 723
1958 NYA 42 164 5294 759
1959 NYA 31 153 5379 687
1960 NYA 40 193 5290 746
1961 NYA 61 240 5559 827
1962 NYA 33 199 5644 817
1963 NYA 28 188 5506 714
1964 NYA 35 162 5705 730
1965 NYA 26 149 5470 611
1966 NYA 31 162 5330 611
1967 NYA 22 100 5443 522
1968 NYA 18 109 5310 536
1969 NYA 27 94 5308 562
1970 NYA 23 111 5492 680
1971 NYA 25 97 5413 648
1972 NYA 33 103 5168 557
1973 NYA 22 131 5492 641
1974 NYA 22 101 5524 671
1975 NYA 32 110 5415 681
1976 NYA 32 120 5555 730
1977 NYA 37 184 5605 831
1978 NYA 27 125 5583 735
1979 NYA 29 150 5421 734
1980 NYA 41 189 5553 820
1981 NYA 15 100 3529 421
1982 NYA 37 161 5526 709
1983 NYA 32 153 5631 770
1984 NYA 27 130 5661 758
1985 NYA 35 176 5458 839
1986 NYA 31 188 5570 797
1987 NYA 32 196 5511 788
1988 NYA 27 148 5592 772
1989 NYA 23 130 5458 698
1990 NYA 25 147 5483 603
1991 NYA 24 147 5541 674
1992 NYA 25 163 5593 733
1993 NYA 31 178 5615 821
1994 NYA 21 139 3986 670
1995 NYA 22 122 4947 749
1996 NYA 29 162 5628 871
1997 NYA 44 161 5710 891
1998 NYA 28 207 5643 965
1999 NYA 28 193 5568 900
2000 NYA 30 205 5556 871
2001 NYA 34 203 5577 804
2002 NYA 41 223 5601 897
2003 NYA 41 230 5605 877
2004 NYA 36 242 5527 897
2005 NYA 48 229 5624 886
2006 NYA 37 210 5651 930
2007 NYA 54 201 5717 968
2008 NYA 35 180 5572 789
2009 NYA 39 244 5660 915
2010 NYA 33 201 5567 859
2011 NYA 41 222 5518 867
2012 NYA 43 245 5524 804
2013 NYA 27 144 5449 650

Friday, December 26, 2014

Kill the Hall of Fame.

There are some who want to kill the win, i.e., ignore wins and losses in evaluating pitchers.  However, those same continue to engage in the predictable weeping and gnashing of teeth about the baseball Hall of Fame located in Cooperstown, NY, a place still inaccessible to public transportation, unless, of course, you foolishly include vehicular road traffic in that category.

There is already a Hall of Merit:

Monday, December 22, 2014

2015 Election Results - Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez & Curt Schilling elected to the Hall of Merit!


Congratulations to the Class of 2015! Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling have been elected to the Hall of Merit.


The election was dominated by pitchers. In addition to the top 3, Mike Mussina was a strong 4th, followed closely by John Smoltz. Gary Sheffield and Sammy Sosa were 6th and 7th, both with enough support that their eventual election looks inevitable.

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Clark Estate in Cooperstown, NY 
by Wknight94 talk via Wikimedia Commons
Not bad but judge for yourself and look at its history. The Cooperstown brick and mortar version outlived its usefulness long ago. Now it's just fuel for constant second rate bickering and hypocrisy. The hypocrisy reached its zenith a few years ago when the writers did not elect any players but still continued their tradition of annually designating one of themselves as a Hall of Fame recipient of their very own writers award. And now they complain about a backlog, which they created by not electing Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens, who could easily be excluded on their bad character exclusive of their use of performance enhancing drugs, and also Mike Piazza who has been caught up in the hesitation over Jeff Bagwell.
Then there are the players who are borderline at best, like Tim Raines, Edgar Martinez, etc.  Finally, the golden oldies committee that recently rejected a bunch of players, including Dick Allen and Tony Oliva, who had already had more opportunities to be elected than they deserved.
Enough already! Stop! Just stop the nonsense!

Kill Cooperstown!

Maybe a new form can be created in the near future. Maybe not. But let's just consign the current baseball Hall of Fame to the dustbin of history and let it die with what little dignity it deserves.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Nathan Eovaldi; high velocity, low strike outs. What, if anything, do the Yankees have in mind?

Nathan Eovaldi was the key player received by the Yankees in their trade of Martin Prado to the Marlins.

Martin Prado, the Yankees hardly knew ye.  Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What was the point?  Martin, the Yankees hardly knew ye.*

Martin Prado:

July 31, 2014: Traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks to the New York Yankees for Peter O'Brien (minors) and player to be named.

December 19, 2014: Traded by the New York Yankees with David Phelps and cash to the Miami Marlins for Domingo German (minors), Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Jones.
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Eovaldi will be 25 in February.  We keep hearing that Eovaldi is a power pitcher.  Apparently they are looking at his average fast ball velocity among starters.  Here are the top four in 2014:

Garrett Richards Angles Born: May 27, 1988: Height: 6' 3", Weight: 210 lb. 96.4 mph    8.8 SO9  168.66 innings

Yordano Ventura Royals Born: June 3, 1991  Height: 6' 0", Weight: 180 lb. 96.0 mph  7.8 SO9  183 innings

Wily Peralta Brewers Born: May 8, 1989 Height: 6' 1", Weight: 245 lb. 95.6 mph  7.0 SO9  198.66 innings

Nathan Eovaldi Marlins Born: February 13, 1990: Height: 6' 2", Weight: 215 lb. 95.5 mph  6.4 SO9  199.66 innings

Eovaldi has the lowest strike out (SO) rate of the four but none average one SO per inning, which seems odd.  Apparently Yankee pitching coach Larry Rothschild is supposed to turn Eovaldi into a much more effective pitcher given what the Yankees perceive as a lot of raw talent.  Rothschild has a good reputation but he may have missed such an opportunity with Phil Hughes.  The Yankees did not even make a qualifying offer to Hughes when he became a free agent after the 2013 season.  The Twins signed Hughes to a modest contract and in 2014 Phil Hughes set the all time record for SO to Walks ratio.  The ALL TIME RECORD!


Batters are in real trouble as all the top seasons in SO/W are recent, most in this millennium.  In 2014 three pitchers moved into the top 16 slots:
1. Hughes
11.Clayton Kershaw 
16. David Price.

Nathan Eovaldi in 2014 in strike outs per 9 innings (SO9) among pitchers who qualified for leadership in averages was number 68, right behind Hector Noesi and ahead of Kyle Lohse.  Here are the leaders:


Nathan Eovaldi pitching for Dodgers in LA
June 30, 2012
by Cbl62 via Wikimedia Commons
So despite being number four in fastball velocity among starting pitchers, Nathan Eovaldi had a SO9 rate of only 6.40, number 68.  And despite being number 35 in innings pitched with 199.66, Eovaldi allowed the most hits: 223.  Larry Rothschild has a lot of work to do with Eovaldi.

This is the pitcher the Yankees found so compelling that they traded Martin Prado.  Some people are applauding the Yankees for getting younger.  Compared to what?  How could they have possibly gotten older than 40 year old shortstop Derek Jeter?  The Yankees will try a minor league player at second instead of Prado.  They could have done that and played 31 year old Prado at third; Prado was under contract for the next two seasons.  Instead the Yankees signed 30 year old free agent Chase Headley for four years at more annual money than they would have paid Prado for half the commitment and Headley has been much more injury prone than Prado.

What, if anything, do the Yankees have in mind?