Saturday, April 30, 2011

Change of Pace Review

This is not new, but it's alarming how more and more discussion topics must be relevant to the moment, and the moment is constantly shortening. Years ago, we could discuss something that happened in the first week of the baseball season, and it would be fun just to be able to talk about baseball.

Now, with the advancement of the ESPNSportZone 24-hour news cycle, twitter, tumblr, blah, blah, blah, people more than ever want to know what is NOW.

Are you The Ted Williams?
Remember when the homeless guy from Cleveland got a great job doing Cavs games on the radio? When was the last time anyone on Access Hollywood even thought about that guy?

What else? Oh, I love the NFL! I love the NFL Draft! Cam Newton? Oh yeah, cool, let's talk about Cam Newton! Booring, the Royal Wedding is on! Cool!

The Royal Wedding took up much of the world's attention yesterday and in the days, weeks, and months leading up. Besides the lunatics who stayed up all night or got up in the middle of the night for the coverage, the US awoke to live coverage of some stage in the Royal Wedding. If you were near a TV, it was more than likely set to a channel covering the nuptials. Facebook and Twitter were basically taken over by Brit aficionados.

So that's Pippa's arse. Ok.
For a couple of hours, I decided to get into it; sure, why not? Who's this Pippa everyone is tweeting about? She's wearing white? Is that okay? What does "Pippa's arse" mean?

How long until the Royal Wedding is nothing more than a memory we keep, like so many others?

These moments are at the top of the news cycle for less and less time than they were years ago. Perhaps, it seems I'm a curmudgeon crying "I want things to be the way they used to be forever!" That's certainly not my intent. I even started my Tumblr today. (Look at what an early adopter I am!)

/pats self on back
//injures rotator cuff again

The attention span of individuals in the world is shrinking. Depending on media form and topic, it seems that some attention spans have literally been shrunken to under 5 seconds.

/hears cricket sounds

What? We lost you already?

One of the things I'm continuously learning, while blathering about baseball observations in this space is how statistically researched posts done during the season must be done quickly before games begin again the next day and your data set could be altered completely.

We are currently setting the stage for a pitch values post that promises to take way too long to write, compared with the intrinsic return gained from reading the summation. So is the life of an existential basement dweller.

Two weeks ago, we looked at "Which pitchers have had the largest difference in average velocity between their fastball and change-up?" As a reward for getting through the above, let's revisit that topic with almost twice as much of a sample size.

As Warren Spahn said, "Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing."

National League
Marco Estrada, Brewers 90.2 - 77.4 = 12.8
Tyler Clippard, Nationals 92.7 - 80.7 = 12.0
Travis Wood, Reds 90 - 78.1 = 11.9
Josh Collmenter, D'Backs 87.5 - 75.7 = 11.8
James McDonald, Pirates 91.9 - 80.8 = 11.1
Daniel Hudson, D'backs 93.4 - 82.6 = 10.8
Edinson Volquez, Reds 93.8 - 83.3 = 10.5
Ryan Madson, Phillies 93.9 - 83.6 = 10.3
Jake Westbrook, Cardinals 89.4 - 79.1 = 10.3
Tim Stauffer, Padres 90.1 - 80 = 10.1

American League
Brian Fuentes, A's 88.8 - 73.5 = 15.3
Dallas Braden, A's 87.2 - 72.2 = 15.0
Sean O'Sullivan, Royals 92 - 77.2 = 14.8
Erik Bedard, Mariners 90.4 - 77 = 13.4
David Price, Rays 94.5 - 81.7 = 12.8
Fernando Rodney, Angels 95.2 - 82.9 = 12.3
Clay Buchholz, Red Sox 92.1 - 80 = 12.1
Jeremy Hellickson, Rays 90.2 - 79.1 = 11.1
Tim Collins, Royals 92 - 81.1 = 10.9
Jered Weaver, Angels 90.4 - 79.5 = 10.9
Chris Tillman, Orioles 89 - 78.1 = 10.9
Max Sherzer, Tigers 92.1 - 81.2 = 10.9

Note: All stats are from Fangraphs. We're using a minimum of 10 IP, and they must throw their fastball and changeup more than 10% each.

Today's games just started, enjoy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

2011 Team Attendance Trends

The invaluable has a little-known page that compares team attendance from 2011 and 2012 on a game-to-game basis.

As the B-R writers explain on the page:
"We take the number of home games through the current date for each team, then look at the same number of home games last year, and compare the attendance between those two sets of games. This means that the dates won't match up, but given the differing capacities of ballparks I believe this gives a more accurate view."
 Casey Kelly is learning his craft
with the San Antonio Missions.
The complete list is below.

We found it interesting that the Padres are doing so well after concern about trading fan favorite, Adrian Gonzalez. San Diego traded Gonzalez for Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes, and Eric Patterson. Fans aren't buying tickets to see any of these guys, yet, but their late season run last year really got the community jazzed about the Padres. The NL West is shaping up to be another fantastic race with the Giants, Rockies, and Padres vying for the playoffs.

The Cubs are down 4,300 per game and the Rays are down 5,600. If you think about it before scrolling down, I bet you can guess which team is down the most fans per game. Hint: Ownership.

Rk Tm DiffPerGame ▾
1 TEX 10,128
2 TOR 7,946
3 SDP 5,781
4 SFG 5,104
5 COL 4,826
6 OAK 4,780
7 CIN 1,872
8 DET 1,704
9 PIT 510
10 MIN 449
11 PHI 388
12 BOS -7
13 ARI -72
14 WSN -291
15 CHW -353
16 FLA -360
17 LAA -622
18 CLE -806
19 STL -2,076
20 NYY -2,660
21 HOU -3,103
22 ATL -3,123
23 KCR -3,456
24 BAL -3,474
25 MIL -4,061
26 CHC -4,300
27 NYM -4,688
28 TBR -5,600
29 SEA -6,829
30 LAD -7,144
total -506
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/25/2011.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Astros Future Wallace Bros.

The Lexington Legends of the South Atlantic League are one of the more exciting teams in all of minor league baseball and probably the most prospect rich club in the Houston Astros' organization. Notable prospects on the Lexington Legends include Delino DeShields Jr., Mike Foltynewicz, Jiovanni Mier, Tanner Bushue, Michael Kvasnicka, Telvin Nash, and Chris Wallace.

We blame Barret Loux for the facemask
Granted, it's just A ball so, it's not like these guys are on the doorstep of the Major Leagues. The Astros look like they'll have a bright future coming in just a few years.

There has been a lot of excitement lately over the hot start of Chris Wallace, and we would like to extend some of our humble spotlight his way.

In the past week, Wallace had a game where he went 5 for 6, with 3 Homeruns and 9 RBI, and another game where he went 4 for 5 and missed the cycle because he hit 2 triples instead of a double.

After 16 games, Wallace leads the South Atlantic League in Total Bases and Slugging, with 26 hits, 7 HR's, 22 RBI, a 1.389 OPS.

While this is simply a good start (and far too small a sample size to go overboard), Wallace's 2010 performance was also promising, especially for a first-year pro. Last season, Chris Wallace had 195 plate appearances in Rookie ball, triple-slashing .310/.390/.515 before a .250/.321/.368 line in 78 PA's for the low A team. His performance at the higher level left much to be desired, but some peripheral stats indicated progress. For example, according to, his strikeout percentage from Rookie ball to the low-A team actually lowered from 22.6% to 15.4%. Wallace's RC/27 across his three professional stops are 7.08, 4.08, and 16.62 so far this season.

Brett Wallace's production
will get noticed soon
Okay, we're getting a bit too hard core on these small sample size stats. The point it, this catcher/DH looks like he will be a good power hitter in the major leagues. The Astros will either use him and Jason Castro in tandem at the Major League level or trade one of them for pitching or speed. Our good friend, Osh, asked for a post comparing Chris Wallace and Brett Wallace, to see who has more long-term value. In return, I asked him to write a guest post. Hopefully, we'll get something from him soon.

To spur a response, let's begin the discussion. Chris turns 23 in a few days, and Brett turns 25 in August. I guess they could both be considered late bloomers, since they're just about entering their prime. Brett has begun to blossom this year for the Astros. In this young season, he's hitting .324/.400/.451, with 8 walks to 14 strikeouts. By comparison, in his previous experience with the Astros last season, he also walked 8 times, but had 50 strikeouts. Anyway, more to the point, Brett Wallace's minor league numbers were always excellent. I suppose he will be a better Major League hitter than Chris Wallace, but they should both be very good teammates. The Astros of the '90s used to have the "Killer B's" with Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Lance Berkman, Derek Bell, and others. This decade's Astros will probably count on the Wallace Bros in the middle of their lineups.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Player of the Fortnight

We're sufficiently into the season now to aptly resume our favorite sporadicly recurring Player of the Fortnight series.

The background of the Player of the Fortnight Award is recapped in its inception post.

To recap the winners from last season:

July 9: Rafael Furcal, Josh Johnson, Ian Kinsler, and Jon Lester
July 31: Rickie Weeks, Brett Myers, Jose Bautista, and Cliff Lee
Aug 26: Omar Infante, Mat Latos, Miguel Cabrera, and C.J. Wilson
Sept 12: Carlos Gonzalez, Cole Hamels, Hideki Matsui, and Jon Lester

These shouldn't really be called "awards". It's more like a Player of the Fortnight Spotlight, or something. As with good homemade cooking, whatever we come up with will at least be fresh. This is an accurate pulse of who's at the top of their games.

NL Hitter of the Fortnight
Lance Berkman, Cardinals
When looking at wOBA on Fangraphs, no-one approaches Lance Berkman. Aided by his league-leading 6 homeruns, the difference in Slugging Percentage between Berkman and the rest of the National League is staggering:

"I still got it!"
Slugging % last 14 days
Lance Berkman: .923
Troy Tulowitzki: .750
Ryan Roberts: .727
Chris Denorfia: .696
Freddie Freeman: .694

Although Berkman's was on the Cubs' division rival Astros and has moved on to the dreaded Cardinals, we've always liked him and even wrote in this space that we wanted the Cubs to give him a 1-year deal, which would have also been less expensive than the alternative they chose. Perhaps, they could have kept Larry Rothschild with the difference. Sorry, only three sentences in, and we must digress.

Honorable mention: Matt Holliday, Joey Votto, Ryan Braun, and Matt Kemp

NL Pitcher of the Fortnight
Josh Johnson, Marlins
You're welcome, Josh
He won the first PofF spotlight last season and defends that crown again now.

In the past two weeks, Johnson went 2-0 in 2 starts, throwing 14.3 innings, giving up no runs on 3 hits, with 4 walks and 18 strikeouts. He lead the league with an 11.3 K/9.

Honorable mention: Cole Hamels, Jason Marquis, Aaron Harang, Kyle Lohse, and Randy Wolf - If we have more time in the future, I would LOVE to discuss the ridiculousness of the non-Hamels portion of our NL Pitcher Honorable Mention.

AL Hitter of the Fortnight
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
Gimme an 'H', gimme a 'G', gimme an...
Well, look who we have here. What are we supposed to believe? Should we be asking this for every player in baseball, or just the busted cheaters who rise to prominence again? The discussion is beyond tired, at this point, but as a fan all we can hope is that the game is on the level. I suspect that Rodriguez is playing clean, including no HGH, and his true talent is showing. The Yankees look like a good team again. They need to add some pitching, but their lineup looks good again. Cashman and the appropriate scouts and coaches should receive more credit for bringing in Russell Martin and putting him in a position to succeed. Manager and former backstop, Joe Girardi, probably knows what Martin needs to succeed more than anyone.

Honorable mention: Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Quentin, Curtis Granderson, Jed Lowrie, and Sam Fuld

AL Pitcher of the Fortnight
Jered Weaver, Angels
"Yes, I won a BAseball Reality Tour
Player of the Fortnight Award!"
The early season success of the Angels's 1-2 punch of Weaver and Haren, or is it Haren and Weaver, has been highlighted on numerous platforms over the past week. They were the first teammates to start the season 4-0 in a long time, I guess. Over the past two weeks, Weaver went 3-0 in 3 starts. He threw 123 pitches over 7 2/3 innings at home against Toronto on April 10th. Weaver struck out 15 Blue Jays and followed that performance with 7 victorious innings in Chicago and a Complete Game at Texas. He struck out 12 and walked 0 batters combined over the last two starts in those hitters' paradises.

Honorable mention: Josh Beckett, Dan Haren, Bruce Chen, and Michael Pineda

Speaking of pitching and stuff, over the past 2 weeks, Kyle Davies leads the American League with a 1.29 FIP, but he has a 5.73 ERA. I wish someone who knew how to talk to algorithms would explain that one to me.

We'll take another look at fortnight leaders in about 15 to 29 days.

In the meantime, enjoy the games and feel free to join the discussion in our comments section below, our facebook page, or my nonsequitorial twitter feed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ryan Zimmerman's DL Stint w/Charlie Sheen

The Washington Nationals have an 8-7 record in this young season.* They have managed to actually have a better record since Ryan Zimmerman went down with an abdominal injury. They went 3-5 with Zimmerman and 5-2 without him.

*To help all of us enjoy early-season baseball with more perspective, may we suggest reading Joe Posnanski's post on a 16-game baseball season.

A few minutes ago, we got a glimpse of Ryan Zimmerman in the clubhouse with a special guest.

At least Charlie Sheen's always been a baseball guy.

Charlie Sheen is an interesting guy to run into anytime. Simply to name drop, I casually ran into him at the Peninsula Beverly Hills about ten years ago. I was in the lobby waiting for my father, while he walked in and asked for the spa because he had a massage.

Back to baseball, it's funny for Zimmerman to run into Wild Thing while on the DL because of the common bond that they should both be doing rehab.

Monday, April 18, 2011

3-Pitch Stars, NL Edition

We're looking at Fangraphs's remarkable pitch value data today in an effort to find pitchers with the highest cumulative score of their three best pitches. Although we're still in the midsts of small sample size warnings, we are looking just at 2011 numbers so that players like Phil Hughes and Pedro Feliciano don't rate too highly. Actually, looking at top 3 pitches, instead of top 2, will keep most relief pitchers off the list. We're also looking at pitchers with a minimum of 10 innings pitched this season. If this goes well, we'll look at AL pitchers later in the week.

Showing our work - to be clear, we're looking at the pitch value per 100 pitches statistic over at Fangraphs. Adding the scores for players's top 3 pitches, only for pitchers with at least three pitches with above average values, and listing the Top 10 here:

Sam LeCure's flown under
our radar until right now.
Sam LeCure, Reds, 23.6
Aaron Harang, Padres, 18.5
Clayton Richard, Padres, 15.3
Tommy Hanson, Braves, 14.5
Shaun Marcum, Brewers, 13.1
Tim Hudson, Braves, 12.6
Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies, 12.1
Josh Johnson, Marlins, 11.5
Barry Zito, Giants, 11.3
Travis Wood, Reds, 10.9

Time will tell how effective these guys will be moving forward. Looking at the weighted values of their top 3 pitches suggests they've started this season off promisingly.

After getting through this exercise, I think we are going to give it a bit more time - to get a little further away from the small sample size era. Then, we will look at the players with the best (most valuable per 100 pitches according to fangraphs) pitch in baseball, the best 2 pitches, the best 3 pitches, and the best 4 pitches. I think that'll be fun and don't really want to wait before doing it. Maybe we'll do it soon and again later in the year.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Grounders and Pop Ups

It's still a bit early for any 2011 statistic to mean very much in the grand scheme of things, but it can be insightful to get a head start looking at certain statistics that aren't printed in The Sporting News. In this case, we'll compare 2011 rate stats to the rate stats of combined 2010 and 2011 data.

As we've discussed in the past, in an ideal world, it's best to get pitchers who strike out a lot of batters and walk very few. In addition, pitchers who induce ground balls and popups are preferred to fly ball pitchers.

2011 GB%+IFFB% Leaders
Yovani Gallardo, Brewers 82.4%
Charlie Morton, Pirates 82%
Tim Lincecum, Giants 75.9%
Roy Oswalt, Phillies 75.8%
Tim Stauffer, Padres 75%
Zach Britton, Orioles 74.5%
Matt Harrison, Rangers 74.2%
Brett Anderson, Athletics 73.6%
Francisco Liriano, Twins 73.2%
Jaime Garcia, Cardinals 72.9%

2010-11 GB%+IFFB% Leaders
Blaine Boyer, Mets 77.2%
Sean Green, Brewers 73.4%
Ryan Webb, Marlins 70%
Jamey Wright, Mariners 69.5%
Randy Choate, Marlins 68.5%
Bobby Cassevah, Angels 68.4%
Jordan Walden, Angels 67.1%
Joe Martinez*, Indians 66.4%
Javier Lopez, Giants 66.2%
Takashi Saito, Brewers 64.6%
Todd Coffey, Nationals 63.5%

*Martinez is currently pitching out of the bullpen for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers and waiting for a call-up to the Indians. His numbers are only from the 2010 season.

If a player can combine good strikeout ability with high numbers in the categories above, there will be a lot of clean innings. Maybe we'll take a look at batted ball data through the lens of Line Drive %, Fly Ball %, and Homerun/Flyball %. That could be a good one to see who's best at it and who's worst.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Change of Pace

Which pitchers have had the largest difference in average velocity between their fastball and change-up? According to fangraphs:

National League
Travis Wood, Reds 90 - 78 = 12.1
Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks 94 - 83 = 11.2
Edinson Volquez, Reds 94 - 84 = 10.5
Roy Oswalt, Phillies 93 - 83 = 10.1
Jake Westbrook, Indians 89 - 79 = 10.1

American League
David Price, Rays 95 - 82 = 12.6
Clay Buchholz, Red Sox 93 - 81 = 11.7
Jered Weaver, Angels 90 - 79 = 11.5
Luke Hochevar, Royals 91 - 80 = 11
Phil Coke, Tigers 90 - 79 = 11

There are very interesting names here, and posts like this will be even more useful later in the year, with larger sample sizes.

Have a safe weekend.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Chatty Subway

The fourth car of the #5 express train this morning was abnormally chatty.

A few individuals encroached on my commuting solitude with their annoying and incessant pre-8am conversations. I don't really have much baseball stuff to comment on.

If forced, we could talk about the fun of looking at early standings and suspending disbelief. Look at the AL Central, where the Indians and Royals are tied for 1st place. If every team has hope on Opening Day, what do you call it two weeks later when your crappy team is in 1st place?

The good news is Pedro Feliciano
can spend all year with his family.
The Yankees have put a few wins together to lead the AL East. It's not gonna happen, but how great would it be for baseball if their rotation, and now LOOGY, concerns are warranted and the the upstart Orioles and Blue Jays both made the playoffs? I mean, it still seems likely that Toronto and Baltimore will finish in 4th and 5th place, but again, that's not how everyone feels when looking at the the standings on April 15th. A very good friend of mine, Adam B, for years has been preaching to the masses that it's too early to even look at Standings until June or July. He's right.

Okay, just to try something a little different today, let's flashback the the 5 train:

Conversation 1
A man and woman, in their late 40s/early 50s, standing beside the pole at the back of the car.
If social norms were different, I would tell this lady that no-one cares that her son hates his first job out of college. And, can she please speak lower. To the gentleman, you look like a respectable, clean-cut professional. Thanks you for responding to your loud lady friend in a normal volume. While I'm far from being a fashionista, I don't think the charcoal pants, striped shirt, and blue blazer are really working for you today.

How do you get to work?
Stopping at Fulton Street shook things up a bit in the car, as people got on and off. I drifted toward the center of the car, where I smashed directly into the crossfire of a real doozie. How could this car be so chatty this morning? Usually, these trains are quiet, aside from the occasional headphones that are too loud.*

Conversation 2
Lady 2, OoMG, you are the worst. The volume, the shrieking, the complaining that your daughter is moving to the Village. Please, for the love of all that is good and Holy, keep it down.
Lady 3, you're blabbing on and on, all I hear is noise. Then, you had to stand out. You were soooo upset? Really? Thaaaat upset? Please, be quiet. You are annoying.
When Lady 3 got off the train at Union Square, the loud goodbye began. "Ooooh, this was such a nice commmute!! Way better than just reading the paper." Lady, please.

*On a related note, have you seen those people on the Subway who play music from their smart phones like it's a mini boom box? In the past two weeks, I've come close to confronting a few of these clowns. My main issue with it, besides the discourteousness, is that the sound quality is so terrible when you push those tiny phone speakers to max volume.

Bonus Subway Incident
This is from the same trip, where the three ladies above were basically shouting. At the Union Square stop, a genuine weirdo pushes his way screaming "Excuse me! Excuse me!" He's scrambling to get a seat, like it's musical chairs. The thing is, other people were about to sit down and he totally bogarted a spot by yelling and taking it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Old Expos Roundup

Like many things in life, I never appreciated the Expos as much as I should have while they were around. I'm glad there is baseball in the Nation's capital, but did it have to come at the expense of the beautifully bilingual Expos? I got to reminiscing about the Expos last night, when perusing their official twitter feed.

Mon Pedro, Good Times!
It seems like almost a lifetime ago, when there was Major League Baseball in Montreal. I was actually somewhat surprised to be reminded that they didn't play in DC until 2005.

Still, how old are the old Expos?

I remember Orlando Cabrera and Nick Johnson, of course. Cliff Floyd is retired, and Mark Grudzielanek recently hung up his cleats.

Maybe Pedro will come back to be someone's 5th starter again.

Is 2004 too distant to create a team, or at least a lineup, of former Montreal Expos who are currently playing somewhere?

As the old tootsie-pops owl would say, let's find out.

This is a scary hitter.
C: Brian Schneider
1b: Nick Johnson
2b: Orlando Cabrera
SS: Maicer Izturis
3b: Jamey Carroll
LF: Juan Rivera
CF: Endy Chavez
RF: Vladimir Guerrero
SP: Livan Hernandez
RP: Jon Rauch
PH: Milton Bradley

Man, in 2011, that team stinks.

You'd better believe we'd be calling Pedro's agent, if we really were getting the band back together.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Replacing Ryan Zimmerman

Often times, we'll hear fantasy pundits opine as to whom look to as a replacement for a recently injured player. We do it a lot over here, too. This time, it's personal, as Ryan Zimmerman was the 2nd Round pick of our new Good Friends team. Right now, the team is actually currently named Upton & Upton, since we have both brothers paroling our virtual Outfield.

Hurry back, bud.
A few years ago, good friend Weino suggested we start a blog to write about why we're making the fantasy moves we were making each day. We don't do that so much because I feel people would tire of hearing about our steady, yet unspectacular transactions. Well, here's one that does matter.

With caution, I warn the following may have zero readability. I'm basically taking notes in this space as I decide whom to pick up to play third base while Ryan Zimmerman is on the DL.

Glancing through the list of available free agents and waiver wire, we zone in on: Casey Blake, Sean Rodriguez, Scott Rolen, Danny Valencia, and Ian Stewart.

Our league is weekly, H2H, roto columns, with standard 5x5 stats except OBP and SLG in place of BA and HR.

A few statistics:

Since Opening Day 2008 (last 3+ years)

On Base Percentage
A year or 2 ago, we would've fallen
over backwards to grt Ian Stewart.
Scott Rolen .358
Danny Valencia .343
Casey Blake .344
Ian Stewart .331
Sean Rodriguez .296

Slugging Percentage
Scott Rolen .465
Ian Stewart .449
Casey Blake .446
Danny Valencia .433
Sean Rodriguez .381
Ever notice that Dusty Baker has a
similar body type to Robert Duvall?

Line Drive %
Casey Blake 21.8%
Scott Rolen 21.0%
Ian Stewart 19.5%
Danny Valencia 19.1%
Sean Rodriguez 15.5%

I guess we really don't need to go much deeper than this. It looks like Scott Rolen, as a short-term solution, is the best option.

I hope no-one picks you up
And from the this aught to help you get to sleep section: Whom should we drop? Michael Morse, backup catcher Russell Martin, or SP/RP's David Hernandez or Aaron Crow?

Morse could play for me on Thursday, when others have a day off, but he'll be facing Cliff Lee that day.

We're going to drop him and hope Hernandez or Crow can vulture a win or two this week, while helping out with ERA and K. We also like the depth and insurance that Russ Martin is providing in tandem with Geovany Soto.

To conclude, let us compare Dusty and Duvall...

Already Missing Manny

It was only three days ago. Manny Ramirez just retired this past Friday, and we already miss him.

Manny, you may have been a selfish jerk, a cheater, and a first-class weirdo, but you were always interesting and one of the five best hitters* I've ever seen.

Now that's a cool jersey.

*Real quick, off the top of my head...

Top 5 Hitters I've Ever Seen
1. Albert Pujols
2. Barry Bonds
3. Manny Ramirez
4. Alex Rodriguez
5. Mike Schmidt

Man, there are a lot of other great hitters that came to mind: Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey Jr, Pete Rose, Tony Gwynn, Jim Rice**, Ichiro, Rickey, Boggs, Frank Thomas, Thome, Rod Carew... a lot.

**just kidding about Jim Rice

For our amusement, below are a few more Manny Ramirez images that we find humorous.

There are no words that need to be said.

PS - If you don't like our list of Top 5 Lifetime Hitters, make your own list. Heck, even if you like it, please, make your own list in our comments section. It'll be fun. Thanks!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Baby Steps with Peripheral Stats

It's too early in the 2011 season to find much meaning in comparing player statistics, especially pitchers, the league leader in Innings Pitched has just 16. Predicting future pitching performance is one of the more challenging tasks for baseball professionals and aficionados.

It can be confusing to truly understand why. The higher likelihood of injuries surely is an issue, but more to the point, the performance of healthy pitchers will vary more from year to year than when compared with batters. During the rigors of a long season, statistically speaking, year-in and year-out ratio statistics do not usually regress toward their career norms as often with pitchers as they do with batters.

Perhaps, the daunting nature of trying to understand everything clouds our minds and blocks our chances at quickly learning something.

First, I noticed that blog favorite, Marc Rzepczynski, has had a particularly effective start to the season in the Blue Jays bullpen.* He's thrown 5.2 innings, facing 18 batters, allowing 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 hbp, and aside from 1 wild pitch, that's it. His with is 0.35, fueled by an unsustainable .083 BABIP. I thought it was comical until I saw how many relievers still have .000 BABIPs.

Rzepczynski loves the 'Pen.
*Yes, if you're scoring at home, this is another SP/RP we're enthralled with. Throw him into the mix with David Hernandez, Aaron Crow, Cory Luebke, and Hisanori Takahashi.

Today, let's head over to Fangraphs to look at batted ball data of pitchers with a minimum of 100 Innings Pitched in 2010 and 2011.

Over the past season + '11, here's the leader board for Line Drive percentage allowed:

Tim Hudson 13.4%
Armando Galarraga 13.5%
Fausto Carmona 13.5%
Jeremy Guthrie 14.2%
Jamie Moyer 14.7%

Now, if you just look at this stat, it's pretty surprising, but it doesn't mean much alone.

For example, even before looking at these numbers, I was thinking to myself that I can't believe the Tigers chose Brad Penny over Armando Galarraga. Seeing Galarraga here is encouraging to that idea, but looking at Penny, he had a 17.8% LD% last year, and only an 11.8% mark in this young 2011 season.

Fausto Carmona really had good peripherals, when considering that he also had a MLB top 35 Infield Flyball Percentage of 11.1%.

Granted, this information is not extremely valuable, we're trying to show how easily anyone can take a closer look at a few basic numbers to determine which pitchers are really outstanding, and which ones have been more fortunate by luck. We can really see how a pitcher is performing when evaluating his LD%, IFFB%, GB%, FB%, HR/FB%, K/9, and BB/9. It may sound daunting, but it really isn't.

Over the course of the season, we'll try to spotlight a few guys who may be new to the scene, or performing in a manner that was unexpected, to see what the peripherals say.

For example, let's look at the talented Orioles southpaw, Zach Britton. We mentioned him on Wednesday in our 20 under 20% post, and Buster Olney had this to say about Britton this morning: "Zach Britton has a chance to become what Stephen Strasburg was last year: Must-see TV. He is a very rare lefty with veering 95 mph fastball."

Although he's only pithed 13.2 innings, let's see what some of his key peripherals say:

Zach's enjoying The Show.
LD%: 23.5%
IFFB%: 25%
GB%: 52.9%
FB%: 23.5%
HR/FB: 0%
K/9: 5.27
BB/9: 3.95

13 innings is nothing; we need A LOT more data to make any sort of conclusions from these ratios. His minor league numbers mean something, but we're trying to keep it simple. I'd say that off this initial perspective, I'd need his K/9 to go up and his BB/9 to come down before putting much hope in Britton being a top of the rotation force.

As always, this space is for the readers, feel free to nominate someone for us to illuminate.