Showing posts with label Statistics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Statistics. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

San Francisco is How Many Games Out of First Place?

It's not even the All Star Break, and the San Francisco Giants are how many games back? 

Holy cow.

I can't remember when they have ever been this far out of contention, and I'm sure it has happened, but that's what struck me about today's look at the baseball standings. I'm not a fan nor am I a detractor, but, whatever they're doing isn't working. At all.

I get why Philly is so bad, but the Giants?

Anyway, that's my hot take on something I just did not expect to see.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Baseball Has a Triple Crown Winner

This is a wonderful milestone, but aren't you wondering if Cabrera ever cheated?

The end result of having so much cheating in baseball is that when someone actually does something now, instead of wonder there is skepticism. But I think that what is worth noting here is that Cabrera's life appeared to be spiraling out of control last year and, hopefully, that's not the case anymore.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Baseball is Still Struggling to Find a Way to Deal With Steroids

How has it come to this?

You have a player who tests positive for a banned substance. That player is up for a batting title--and we're debating whether or not he should "win it?"

How do you get to win something if you've cheated?

You do that in the current framework of Major League Baseball, where there is simply no accountability for the one thing that matters: statistics.

Everything that exists in baseball is really about statistics. Players who test positive for banned substances have not won anything; they have cheated the game in order to improve their statistics.

If baseball was a properly functioning entity right now, the mere act of cheating in this manner would invalidate statistics. But that would mean throwing out numbers for players who are caught in a grey area--did they cheat before the ban went into place? What if a player is exonerated? And so on and so forth.

Baseball cannot get to the post-Bud Selig era fast enough. That is, baseball cannot get to a new era where there is actually a functioning commissioner of baseball who acts in the best interests of the sport and not the owners.

Monday, August 13, 2012

How Is This a Viable Plan to Win?

There is a lot left unsaid in this short piece.

Namely, the post-steroids era in baseball is going to be defined by how many teams "shrink" the size of their ballparks in order to regain some offense.

Why not just come out and say it? Home runs are down, dramatically, because the consequences of getting juiced up are too severe for anyone to risk. When was the last time you saw an artificially blown up home run king waddling down the third base line for the umpteenth time this year?

Oh, wait. David Ortiz is trying to play, but he's not doing so well, is he?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Finally, a Home Run for Albert Pujols

There, now. All is good.

Slumps come and go, but when you produce, who cares? If the Angels can get Albert Pujols to start hitting American League pitching, he should be fine. Switching leagues really can do a number of a guy.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Is Target Field Really a Pitcher's Park?

It may be a little early to determine such a thing--the park is, after all, brand spanking new. Teams adjust to these things. Relying on statistics to say whether or not a ballpark is of a certain stripe is better than using anecdotal evidence, but, please. There have been two perfect games pitched this season--the steroid era is clearly over. Hitters are back to normal. If someone were to hit 60 home runs this season, it would be shocking.

On a related note, I see StubHub is still incompetently run:

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Starting the Season In a Slump Can Ruin Your Career

These three players must be feeling awful today:

One of the toughest decisions for a manager is when to start taking at-bats away from a veteran hitter, particularly when that player is pulling down serious coin. It still may be very early in the season, but it's not too early to foresee painful calls that will have to be made by Terry Francona in Boston, Lou Piniella in Chicago and Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay. Their problems, respectively, are what to do about David Ortiz, Alfonso Soriano and Pat Burrell -- three former sluggers, born 11 months apart, making $39.5 million combined, who are off to miserable starts on the heels of a poor season last year...

Again, it's too early to make a definitive call on any of them, but the warning signs are ominous. Ortiz, 34, hit .238 last year. Soriano, 34, hit .241 and has missed almost 100 games combined over the past two seasons. Burrell, 33, hit .221 last year. All of them are smack in the crosshairs of the two fastest-growing influences these days in how players are quickly devalued: age and lack of defensive skills.

Of those three, I would say that David Ortiz is probably finished. Didn't he have these issues last season? If Ortiz was only hitting .238 last season, then how can you justify the money he's being paid and the at-bats he's getting? Especially if he's a player who is a liability on defense. Soriano, at least, can play a position, albeit not that great sometimes. Burrell might be the first one to go to the minors, however.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Roger Maris is Still the Home Run King

Mickey Mantle, Doris Day, Cary Grant, and Roger Maris

I can't say it enough, and now, someone is helping me say it:
A North Dakota billboard company has erected a pair of signs in Fargo honoring local hero Roger Maris, whose record 61 home runs in 1961 have long been clouded with an asterisk.

Because he clubbed the homers in more games than Babe Ruth's record 60, the baseball Hall of Fame has never recognized his feat, much less admitted him to Cooperstown.

And the "61 in '61" (his epitaph in a Fargo cemetery) accomplishment was eclipsed in 1998 when McGwire hit 70 dingers.

Owners of Newman Outdoor Advertising decided to rectify what they see as a historical disservice to Maris, a Hibbing native who died in 1985.

"He's our boy -- Fargo's golden boy," said company executive Russ Newman, who got to know Maris in the early 1980s "and became really enamored of him. He was such a gentleman."

The billboards feature a picture of Maris during his days as a New York Yankee and the slogan, "Fargo's Maris 'Legitimate' Home Run King."

In a word, yes. Yes, he is.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Doug Glanville Explains the Steroid Era

You will not find anything more eloquent than this:
At Busch Stadium in St. Louis, there was a section deep beyond left centerfield with the retired numbers from Cardinals history on waving flags. Now, I am not sure how far away from home plate those flags were, but they were nowhere near reachable off any bat I have ever seen swung. Yet McGwire would hit them like he was playing rocket golf, or some twisted form of croquet.

I knew that what I was seeing was impossible. When you play the game long enough, you develop a sixth sense for the realm of the possible. You learn your body’s limitations (and your opponents’ bodies) in short order, because knowing is integral to your longevity. Sure, limits are pushed, but it doesn’t happen overnight. I played centerfield and had to know that when Chad Kreuter or Todd Zeile hit a ball, there was a good chance it would come off their bats with no spin, making it dance unpredictably while I was trying to catch it in the outfield. I could tell from the angle of Vladimir Guerrero’s bat and the location of the pitch when the ball was going to slice away from me. From bat-ball contact I could tell to a fine degree where a ball would end up long before I got there. As the Phillies announcers always used to say to me, “I knew right away when you had the ball in your sights, and then you would just be there.”

That’s because it was my job to be there — to know the field, the wind, the conditions so well that I could take the ball out of the equation after contact, and get to where it was supposed to be. I had all the data I needed without relying on my eyes exclusively. I could run to the spot and wait for the ball while getting into position to throw to the next base (should a runner be on base).

The first time I questioned those instincts was during a game against the Kinston Indians and Manny Ramirez in 1992. It was my first full minor league season with the Winston-Salem Spirits of the famed Carolina League. I was in centerfield and Manny hit a line drive into the gap in right-center. No problem, I thought. I’ll run at an angle and cut the ball off near the warning track. Even if can’t quite get there to catch it, maybe I can hold him to a double.

Well, the ball hit part-way up the light tower, well over the fence for a home run. I could not believe my eyes. Up until that moment, I’d never seen anyone who could hit a home run to the opposite field, let alone a missile like that. It was stunning. As far as I knew, this was pure hitting ability. Ability that none of my college opponents had possessed.

Fast forward to my major league career, by which time I was a science student of the game. Ballistics, anticipation, planning — all were part of it.

Then I saw Mark McGwire and I had to adjust my eyes once again.

As before, I chalked it up at first to the evolution of baseball, even as I wondered about its legitimacy. But enhanced or not, it was happening, and I still had to figure out a way to compete. My sixth sense had tapped me on the shoulder and said, “This is not right.” But that was not evidence in a court of law. It is sort of like finding out a co-worker might be doing something shady, yet knowing that you still have to do your job. And, in the outfield, I had to do mine.

Glanville's piece is from the opinion section of the New York Times. Everyone should read it and reflect on it. The steroid era is, I hope, over. The players, the statistics, and the game itself are all tainted.

Throw out the numbers. Roger Maris, you're still the single season home run king.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Put Bert Blyleven in the Hall of Fame

I heartily agree with Mr. Bert Blyleven's own case as expressed here:
When talk of my Hall of Fame candidacy comes up, usually people like to point at my career win total of 287 as a reason I shouldn’t be elected to Cooperstown. The so-called magic number of wins for automatic induction is said to be 300, and obviously I come up short in that department.

But in my opinion, wins are one of the hardest things to come by, and a pitcher can only do so much to control whether he wins a game. You can control your walks, you can control your strikeouts and your innings pitched. You can control whether you go nine innings by the way you approach a game. But one thing you often can’t control is wins and losses. It’s very difficult.

When I first came up in 1970 at age 19, I won my first game 2-1. My second game I lost 2-1. So after two starts, I had allowed three runs in 14 innings (1.93 ERA), but was just 1-1. That just shows you how hard it is, and it made me work harder. Maybe that’s why I was able to pitch 22 seasons in the majors, because I was so stubborn.

If you allow one run, but your team doesn’t score any runs, then you can’t earn the win. If your bullpen gives up a lead after you leave the game, then you can’t earn a win. Wins are a product of your team as a whole, and while the starting pitcher plays a significant role in who wins the game, he is not the only factor. The starter can only control so much.

Case in point: I lost 99 quality starts (at least six innings pitched while allowing no more than three runs) in my career, more than all but four pitchers since 1954. And I had 79 other quality starts in which I had no-decisions. That’s 178 quality starts in which I did not earn a win, yet people knock me for coming up 13 wins shy of 300.

Clearly, wins is a flawed stat, and I think observers of baseball are beginning to realize that. After all, this year’s Cy Young winners were Zack Greinke (16 wins) and Tim Lincecum (15). Both are great pitchers and deserving of the award, but neither led their league in wins.

One thing a pitcher can control is how far he lasts in each start. The better you pitch, the longer you last. This saves wear and tear on your bullpen, which in turn helps the starters who follow you in the rotation. Every time you pitch a complete game, your team benefits. That’s why I think complete games and shutouts are better stats to look at than wins.

I made 685 starts in my 22 seasons, and threw 242 complete games, so I went the distance in 35.3 percent of my starts. Compare that to Hall of Fame pitchers from my era and I stack up well. Phil Niekro completed 34 percent of his starts, Nolan Ryan 29 percent, Tom Seaver 35.7 percent and Steve Carlton 35.8 percent. Ferguson Jenkins (45 percent) and Gaylord Perry (44 percent) were the most impressive from my era in that department.

Wins are a tough statistic to consider in baseball. But for a few timely runs, and a little bit better run support, Blyleven would easily have over 320 wins and would have been in the Hall of Fame years ago. This is not a case where he, as a pitcher, didn't start enough games. It's more a case of having to have played on some teams that had anemic hitting. Just the fact that he pitched 242 complete games is enough by me. That's an amazing feat, one that you won't see in the future. Mr. Blyleven deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Period. End of story.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Manny Ramirez Keeps the Dodgers Rolling

Sure, they all hate Manny. But Manny is getting it done:
Manny Ramirez played only 2 1/2 innings of the Dodgers' 7-2 victory in Arizona today, but what a 2 1/2 innings they were.

He hit a solo home run that started a three-run second inning for the Dodgers, who last scored more than two runs in an inning on Aug. 29.

He struck out in the third inning, threw his bat in apparent displeasure and was thrown out of the game by home plate umpire Doug Eddings.

The ejection was the second of the season for Ramirez and the sixth of his career.

The Dodgers were ahead 3-0 at the time of his ejection and increased their lead to 4-0 when Ronnie Belliard hit a home run in the fourth inning.

How is it that a premiere hitter in Major League Baseball with as ugly of a reputation as Ramirez can rack up only his sixth career ejection after 16 seasons in the Major Leagues? He has 543 home runs as of tonight, and is 20 hits shy of 2,500. Is he a lock to hit 600 home runs and get 3,000 hits? I would say that he's definitely a lock to do both if he can play four or five more years, and at 37, that's not a guarantee, of course, but it would certainly be an amazing (yet steroids-tainted) career, nonetheless.

Somehow, Manny is still thriving, long after the time when he should have been ridden out of baseball on a rail.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Greatest Shortstop Ever

If there's a valid argument against the idea that Derek Jeter is not the greatest shortstop ever, I haven't heard it:
Yet another Hall of Famer passed and milestone reached for Yankees captain Derek Jeter.

Jeter passed Luis Aparicio for most hits by a shortstop on Sunday when he fought off a pitch on his hands from Seattle rookie Doug Fister and sent it down the right-field line for an RBI double in the third inning of New York's 10-3 loss to the Mariners. His 2,674th hit as a shortstop came two innings after he had singled leading off the game.

"I just try to be consistent year in and year out," said the 35-year-old Jeter, who claimed to be unaware of the record coming into the weekend. "If you are consistent, good things happen.

"It's kind of hard to believe, to say the least."

He had eight hits in 16 at-bats in the four-game series with the Mariners.

Jeter also has 13 hits as a designated hitter in his career. His 2,688 hits are second in Yankees history, 33 behind Lou Gehrig.

"It's amazing what he has been able to accomplish -- and he still has a lot of baseball left," said New York manager Joe Girardi, who was Jeter's teammate from the shortstop's rookie season with the Yankees in 1996 through '99.

Jeter is batting .323 in 112 games this season. This is his 14th consecutive season with at least 150 hits, passing Gehrig for the longest streak in Yankees' history. It is the longest such streak among active players.

Sentimental favorite Cal Ripken and, of course, Barry Larkin, rank high on this list, but I can't imagine anyone will keep Alex Rodriguez at the top of the list of all-time shortstops. Rodriguez could end up playing 3rd base longer than he played shortstop (1994-2003), making him the best ever at two positions, but I doubt it.

Derek Jeter's stock is rising, and even when he poses with the ladies on the beach, he has on his game face, which is a bemused look of concentration and happiness. Jeter plays in the toughest media market in the country for a team that has more pressure on it to win than any other franchise in existence. He is no primadonna. He is the real thing.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Digitization and the Game of Baseball

Sportsvision digital imaging of NASCAR

It was bound to happen--the digitization of everything. I'm not even a person anymore--I'm the creation of a major corporation that wants you to buy my hotties, buy my politics, buy my opinions, buy my soul.

Pardon me for talking like a robot.

Not really, but you get the idea. Sportsvision is a company that is applying digital statistics to everything under the sun. This makes sense for NASCAR--the car and the driver are perfectly represented as statistics and the car itself is easy to analyze. But baseball? Hmmm...

Runs, hits, errors - these are some of the classic measures of a pro baseball player's potential and value. But is there a way to compute what separates an average player from a great one? [...]

Baseball has always been a game of statistics and stats provide valuable information:

"Knowing what kind of hitter, what a hitter's tendencies are is all stuff that we study before a game, before a series," said San Francisco Giants center fielder Aaron Rowand.

It's easy to measure how many times a batter strikes out or how fast a pitcher throws. Judging a fielder's performance is much harder to quantify - but that may be changing.

The Giants' AT&T Park in San Francisco is the testing ground for a revolutionary data gathering system for Major League Baseball - combining cameras on top of the light grid and computer software designed by physicist Marv White.

The technology has been around for several years. It began with tracking pitches now that technology is being expanded to track everything that happens on the field for the entire game where the players are, where the ball is - more information than the league has ever had.

White demonstrates how the computer, almost like a video game, maps out the movements of the players during a typical baseball play. The batter hits a high fly ball and the system tracks the exact trajectory. The left fielder tries to catch the ball but misses it, then picks it up and throws it to the shortstop who throws it home, but too late. Two players score. It all unfolds on the screen, just as it is happening on the field.

"The player motion gives us information that, in the past, a statistician could only get with a stopwatch," said white, chief technology officer of Sportvision. "Now, we can see exactly what happened in a play."

As long as baseball is a game umpired by humans, all of the digitization in the world won't change the nature of the game, which is controlled deception in a clear field of play. A pitcher tries to deceive the hitter; a hitter tries to mask his intent as to where or how he is going to hit the ball; a runner tries to deceive the defense; a manager plays his players in a way to deceive his opponent and denies everyone a chance to second-guess his actions by using statistics to support his decision-making process. This technology may make it easier to scout teams. What it won't do is tell you how to read the mind of a skilled player, who adapts and learns faster than any technology. The adjustments a single pitcher can make over the course of a few innings are staggering.

Sportsvision is the company that put that infamous "blurry dot" on hockey pucks, something that I never cared for, since I know how to follow the field of play in the sport of hockey:

Sportvision got its start in 1996, when engineers from News Corp. developed a hockey puck that appeared to glow onscreen—an effect created by embedding an infrared emitter in the puck—to make NHL broadcasts easier to follow. Hockey purists protested (“We joke that some of our key scientists aren’t welcome in Canada,” says Sportvision CEO Hank Adams), but the company made its bones with other innovations shortly after being spun off as an independent company two years later. Its first offering, the first-down marker, became the best known; before long, watching a game without the glowing line began to seem unthinkable.

Today, Sportvision controls about two thirds of the live sports-broadcasting-enhancement industry, working on 3,000 broadcasts a year, including NBA games, Nascar races and golf tournaments. By collecting huge amounts of data on the field of play and the participants, it has shifted the viewer’s focus from the sort of perspective you could see in the stadium with a pair of binoculars to the field-level views of the players. Instead of stats you could track on the back of an envelope, it offers fans information previously beyond the reach of entire coaching staffs.

Consider it technology-creep; it's here to stay. It will change the game of baseball, perhaps. Or, as I suspect, the game will become much better at deceiving even the technology.