Friday, April 29, 2011

This Week in 2001 (Week 4)

Here we are again. Four weeks into our real-time trip back through the fantastic season of 2001. That thing I was using to take images of my tweets has completely stopped working, so without further ado:

Monday, April 23: Only three games were played. Mondays (and Thursdays) have been the light days for quite a while now, but it feels like a long time since any regular season day was quite this light. Nonetheless, Randy Johnson had a particularly awesome day, throwing a complete-game shutout (6 hits, 0 walks, 10 strikeouts) as the Diamondbacks beat the Marlins 6-0.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Re-Projecting Jose Bautista

By Bill

"Re-projecting" is something I would occasionally do early in the season at my old blog (at least in 2009; I don't remember whether I did it again in 2010). The basic idea is this: we know, or should know, that no matter how convincing a player's performance is after 18 or 20 or 30 games, his performance over the last several years -- adjusted for age, park, etc., as the various projection systems do -- tell us a lot more than these first few weeks do about how he's likely to perform over the next 120-plus games.

But the other thing about these early games, of course, is that they still count. Any given player is likely to match his projection from here on out, but these first few weeks still happened, and will impact his overall numbers. So what I did, and what I'm going to do again with one player right now, is look at one player with a particularly surprising start to the season, apply the projections to the rest of the season, and take a look at where his end-of-the-year numbers might end up.

The system I'm going to continue using is PECOTA -- not because I think it's better than the rest, but because I think they're all pretty fungible, and Baseball Prospectus puts nice descriptive words alongside their numbers (and, now, because I know and like a bunch of these BPro guys).

And the player is Jose Bautista.

SweetSpot Roundup 4/28

In today's roundup, Mariano Rivera has been too good for too long, Ethier's too hot to get out, Wilson Ramos is making the Twins look bad, and managing a bullpen is too complicated for Ned Yost.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Revenge of Glenn Davis

By The Common Man

This went so well the first time around that The Common Man decided to try it again.

Glenn Davis was a power-hitting first baseman, who starred for the Houston Astros in the late 1980s. In 1990, he suffered a strained ribcage and had a down year. He still wanted a multi-year extension, and Houston wouldn’t give it to him, given that they had Jeff Bagwell waiting in the wings. So they dealt him to Baltimore in what became one of the worst trades of all time. Because of a bad back, the Orioles got exactly 185 games out of Davis over three seasons, in which he hit .259/.332/.467, while paying him $10.5 million. That kind of production would still be a bust today.

The Astros, meanwhile, received Curt Schilling, Steve Finley, and Pete Harnisch in the deal, who would have 120.4 WAR between them ove the rest of their careers, to Davis’ 0.1 WAR.

Not that the Astros got much of that benefit, mind you. They only got 22.2 WAR from the trio and, frankly, got nothing for either Curt Schilling or Pete Harnisch. That said, the legacy of the Davis deal still remains in the Astros system. Consider Davis’ very incestuous family tree, which was so complicated it needed to be color-coded (red denotes the end of a line because a player was either released, waived, or became a free agent and there was no compensation):

How Chuck Knoblauch continues to affect your daily life...

By The Common Man

The Common Man has forever been fascinated with Chuck Knoblauch, so when Craig Calcaterra asked readers to identify the most hated player in each team’s history, TCM immediately went to Knobby as his default answer. Knoblauch came up for the Twins in 1991, finally providing the Twins with solidity at the position for the first time since 1985. He won the Rookie of the Year Award, and even excelled in the postseason, hitting .326 with 8 runs scored. Knoblauch would quickly become a fan favorite for his small stature, obvious hustle, and his excellent play. He was essentially David Eckstein’s much, much better older brother.

The Twins rewarded an incredible 15.3 WAR run from 1995-1996 with a five year contract extension for around $30 million, making him one of the highest paid players in the game. But before the end of August of 1997, less than a season into the new deal, Knoblauch expressed his frustration with the Twins and “requested” to be traded to another club, with the Yankees on the top of his wish list. There was a competing offer from the Indians that reportedly would have netted the Twins Chad Ogea, Steve Karsay, and Enrique Wilson, but thankfully the Twins didn’t bite. Instead, Knoblauch got his wish and was shipped to the Bombers for Eric Milton, Christian Guzman, Brian Buchanan, and $3 million.

Twins fans, naturally, didn’t take Knoblauch’s departure well, booing him lustily whenever the Yankees came to town, and showering him with batteries and other trash when he tried to play leftfield in 2001. It’s likely there is no more hated figure in Twins history.

But here’s the thing, the Knoblauch trade was ridiculously good for the Twins, and the club continues to see benefits today. Check out Chuck Knoblauch’s family tree:

SweetSpot Roundup 4/27

In today's roundup, Randy Wolf takes a step forward and Colby Lewis takes a step back.  Derek Jeter hangs A-Rod out to dry while Rick Ankiel has no one to blame but himself.  And coffee is for closers (so the Phillies don't get any).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the "Mallpark"

By The Common Man

Miller Park
This weekend, The Common Man was lucky enough to take in two ballgames in person, traveling down to Wrigley Field to catch a game with his blog-mate/heterosexual life-partner Bill on Friday and heading over to Milwaukee with The Boy to see the Brewers play with our good friend, and unofficial mayor of Milwaukee, Larry Granillo of Baseball Prospectus, who scored us some tickets.

To be honest, TCM has never really enjoyed the “Mallpark” experience provided by the newer stadiums, such as Miller Park. Too many bells, too many whistles. Fireworks, retractable roofs, sushi rolls, mascot slides, t-shirt cannons, random games and attractions. So much to distract you from the action on the field. It’s often more like a carnival than a baseball game. So while TCM appreciates the warmth and comfort available in most modern parks, he also has traditionally been a curmudgeon about them.

SweetSpot Roundup 4/26

In today's roundup, the Padres can't hit, the Nats can't get a day off, CJ Wilson can't escape the Luck-dragon forever, and Roy Halladay can't stop pitching.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Power Rankings Explained: How Good Are the Rockies, Really?

By Bill

Earlier today (and last week), The Common Man put up a post explaining more fully the pithy comments he made for the three AL teams not represented by other SweetSpot bloggers for this week's power rankings.

Well, I wrote the comments for the four unspoken-for NL teams -- the Marlins, Pirates, Diamondbacks and Rockies -- and I'm not going to be doing that. I don't think I have all that much to say about one week for each of these teams (especially since I'll be finding something to say about them again two weeks from now). But if I have something worth saying, I'll say it here.

Today I do want to talk about the Rockies. We write these comments but don't vote on the rankings, so I didn't know (though perhaps it's not surprising given their 14-7 overall record) that the Rox, after a 2-4 week in which they lost series to both the Giants and Marlins, would drop from the #1 spot on the list only down to #3. While my final takeaway in the comment was that "they're in good shape," I don't think they're in number three in baseball shape, and there's a good chance they're headed toward something more like 12 or 13. Here's why.

Power Rankings Explained: American League

As he did last week, The Common Man wants to expand on his comments in ESPN's Power Rankings that came out today.  This week, TCM provided the blurbs for the three AL teams unrepresented in the SweetSpot Network, the White Sox, Indians, and Angels

SweetSpot Roundup 4/25

In today's roundup, Ryan Braun gets paid, Scott Rolen gets hurt, Pablo Sandoval gets better and better, and Josh Lueke gets the littlest bit of what he deserves.  Jackass.

Friday, April 22, 2011

This Week in 2001 (Week 3)

By Bill

Another week, another update from a decade ago. The program I use to clip out my favorite tweet of the week (this one) is on the fritz at the moment, so we'll just dive right in:

Monday, April 16: After another masterful performance by Greg Maddux (8 innings, 0 BB, 6 K, one unearned run), John Rocker enters with a 3-1 lead and, after two singles, a wild pitch, a passed ball, and a walk, it's 3-3, Rocker's second blown save of the year. He gets credit for the "win," though, when Rico Brogna's line drive single to right off of Dan Miceli (following two walks) scores B.J. Surhoff. Braves 4, Marlins 3.

SweetSpot Roundup 4/22

Ghostrunner on First (Blue Jays): Fun to Watch (Half the Game)
"While it is true the Jays are exciting to watch, especially if you are partial to guys running around like their hair is on fire or you enjoy the feeling of your stomach and/or bile entering your mouth with each potentially squandered out. But that's only one side of the ball. The other side, the pitching, is a laborious chore."

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): A Night Worth Forgetting, and the Thing About the Rangers' Roster
"The real mystery swirling about the active roster right now is the presence of Chris Davis, whose purpose on this team I cannot for the life of me figure out."

The Ray Area: I am Dr. Frankenstein
Mark has turned his wife into a baseball fan.  And now he can't turn it off!

Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): Buchholz, Home Runs, and the Base on Balls
Is Buchholz going to get any better?

Royals Authority: How Often Do Good Relievers Have Bad Outings?
"There is much to like about the Royals’ young bullpen this season.   Ignoring the Crow should be a starter argument for now, I truly can see this group being a ferocious bridge between what we hope will be a powerful young rotation and a back-to-normal Joakim Soria for years to come."

The Daily Fungo (Tigers): Identity Crisis
I cannot stress enough how much I disagree with this:  "The Tigers don’t have [an identity]. They’ve won and lost games with pitching. They’ve won and lost games with hitting. They’ve won and lost games with defense. For now, they don’t know who they are, and, if they don’t develop something soon, something like the Giants did last year, it’s going to be terminal."

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): Baseball Deep In Debt (Part 1)
Larry does some digging and finds, "during the last five years the aggregate debt load carried by baseball’s 30 teams has grown by nearly a billion dollars. By my estimates, five teams (including the Mets, Dodgers and Rangers) are carrying more debt than is permitted under baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and another five teams have borrowed money at levels close to the CBA limit."

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): Dodgers 5, Braves 3 (12 innings)
Peter recaps a pretty exciting Thursday afternoon contest. Crazy pitcher usage all over the place!

View from the Bleachers (Cubs): Game 17 and 18 - A Split = A Series Win
What went right and what went wrong in the Cubs' freezing cold doubleheader split on Wednesday. Not pictured (probably because these guys have known this for weeks, but I just noticed it when I was at the game yesterday): Geovany Soto, probably the best hitter on the team, bats 8th! Craziness.

Dodger Thoughts: The irredeemable Frank McCourt
"As I walked through all the different stories about today's news, as if I were a shopper in a McCourt Mall of Horrors, I found myself thinking about the person whose name has been in the news, top of mind, every day this month until today: Bryan Stow."

Bay City Ball (Giants): Dodgers' present murky, future bright - Broxton's mostly the former
"So as humiliating as the move may be for the franchise, this is probably rock bottom. And rock bottom is a good thing; ask anyone who has ever been addicted, been affected by addiction or knows anything whatsoever about it. What goes down must come up… or something like that.
On the other hand, something that is very wrong that is probably not going to get right very soon is Jonathan Broxton."

Mets Today: Mets Game 19: Win Over Astros
Maybe Terry Collins should get thrown out of the first inning of every game.

Nationals Baseball: The Ramos lie?
Riggleman said Wilson Ramos was becoming the number-one starter. That's not what's happened at all -- Pudge Rodriguez has continued to start against right-handed pitchers, despite the fact that he hasn't been able to play at all for many years. Harper tries to figure out why Riggs (I assume they call him Riggs, or Riggles) is telling lies.

Ducksnorts (Padres): Bartlett Blows Moseley's Shot at Immortality, Hawpe Just Blows
Jason Bartlett let the team down by failing to let the Padres be shut out for a fourth Dustin Moseley start in a row, but at least they had the huge black hole Hawpe to fall back on.

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): SIERA Through 17 Games
Guess what? The Phillies' rotation has been really, really good so far. A bit more surprising is exactly how good Hamels and Blanton have been.

Redleg Nation: Down on the Farm
A nice, succinct recap of the day's Reds-minor-league-affiliates action.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Random Thursday: The 1936 Bees and the 2011 Dodgers

Back in the bad old days before we joined ESPN, and The Common Man was blogging solo, he used to do a thing called Random Thursday, where he fired up the random button on, and let it take him wherever it wanted. TCM felt like dusting off the old feature today, and got some pretty surprising results. Jumping from his last stop, a random 2010 contest between the Phillies and D-Backs, TCM leapt backwards almost 75 years to the 1936 Boston Bees (Braves). And, appropriately enough, he found a MLB owner leveraged to the hilt, unable to cover his debts, and a league that had to step in and assume control of a financially troubled franchise.

SweetSpot Roundup 4/21

Today's roundup is all about pitching. Colby Lewis might be hurt, Brett Anderson's the man, James Shields goes the distance, Kyle Davies sucks, and Mike Leake might not be dishonest, just stupid. Also, something seems to be happening in Los Angeles.  Until I learn differently, I'm going to assume Brandon Wood snapped in the Angels locker room, went after his teammates with a bat, but thankfully couldn't hit anything.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hey Colby, Your Wife Called, She Said It's a Girl and To Pitch Magglio Down-and-Away

By The Common Man

The Common Man is going to try very hard to write this post without using the “You’re not a parent, so you don’t understand,” card. That card is incredibly easy to play, of course, but it’s just as unfair. Because how is someone going to argue with that? And, in playing it, you’re casting a moral judgment against someone who has probably chosen to not become a parent. And if they made that choice, because they knew they would not be a good parent, or simply didn’t have any feelings one way or the other, they chose correctly. It also does a disservice to all the non-parents out there who are inclined to think that becoming a parent is a pretty damn important thing.  And it does a disservice to all the excellent step-parents out there.

But Colby Lewis did, apparently, make the choice to be a parent, and by luck or design his second daughter was due right at the start of the 2011 season. This created a conflict, as it became apparent that Lewis would have to skip his start last Wednesday to accommodate the birth.

SweetSpot Roundup 4/20

In today's roundup, Justin Smoak tends to family business, Michael Young buries the hatchet, Daisuke thinkers with his delivery, Dusty Baker wastes Ardolys Chapman's many talents, and Jonathan Broxton struggles to get anyone out.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Too Many Questions! Too Many Questions!

By The Common Man

This story, that Mike Leake is going to ask to be enrolled in a first-offender program that could lead to his record being expunged leads to so many questions:

If his record's expunged, does this mean we're all supposed to forget it and can never bring it up again?

What if we do?

If it's expunged, did it ever happen?

Will we all remember something that never happened?

What, then, does this say about the nature of memory, and the nature of fact, and the nature of existence itself?

Can any of us be winked out of existence, when our records and memories of us cease to be?

What exactly are we, if not the embryos of memories that will someday die?
We exist, dammit!  We exist!  We have thoughts and fears and dreams!  We are real!

Also, more practical questions:

What good does this do, is he ever going to need to have another job where this will come up?

Even if he does need another job, and has to go through a background check, what employer is not going to do a cursory Google search and not come up with this?

When his prospective employer finds out about said arrest and asks him about it, what can he possibly say? With all the info out there, it's not like he can say "It was all one big misunderstanding."

So what, exactly, is the point?

Oh, right, he's probably paying his lawyer by the hour.  Stupid lawyers. (Hi Bill!)

Happy Birthday...

Joe Mauer!

True story: I was thinking about maybe writing one of my old "happy birthday" posts for today, and the easiest way to get to Baseball Reference's birthdays list is to go to the home page, type in the first player I think of, and then click on his birthdate. Well, today, the first player I thought of was Mauer (which you might think just happens all the time with me, but really, it was almost as likely to be Cory Snyder or Rusty Greer or Joaquin Andujar), and as is bound to happen one out of every 365.25 times I do this, it happens to be his birthday today! Joe was born on April 19, 1983, and so turns 28 today.

I don't have all that much to say about Mauer, because I don't really like to tell people what they already know. But I think it's a good time to remind people exactly how good he's been, and not for just that one unbelievable year. If Mauer had retired the other day, rather than being placed on the DL with a strange and confusing mix of maladies, he'd have a career that didn't look anything like anyone else's; a lovely .326/.406/.479 line, but in just six full seasons. Barely 1000 hits, fewer than 100 home runs, fewer than 500 RBI.

Yet, he's already one of the greatest catchers who has ever played. By wWAR, which weights wins above replacement in a way that places special emphasis on truly great seasons (I wrote about it here), Mauer would already qualify for the Hall of Fame -- or the Hall of wWAR, if you will. He's been that great, and great catchers are just that rare.

That's the thing a lot of people are missing. As much as Mauer has been injured, as much as it seems like he should be hitting more homers, as much as he's got a ton of work to do to live up to that huge contract, it's so rare for a catcher to perform the way Mauer has performed that he's already an elite all-time player. Of the thirteen greatest seasons catchers have ever had, by WAR, Mauer has had three of them; only Johnny Bench even has two (list here). Those would, of course, be the three seasons -- 2006, 2008 and 2009 -- in each of which I believe Mauer should have been named A.L. MVP. His "off" year of 2010 ranks 56th all-time at his position.

So. He's just 28, and he should have a whole bunch of great, healthy years ahead of him. But whatever he does in the future (and whatever position he plays while he's doing it), it's worth taking note of exactly how much he's done already and how rare all that is. You just don't see catchers like this guy.

SweetSpot Roundup 4/19

In today's SweetSpot Roundup, Ryan Vogelson takes over for Barry Zito, Chris Young takes a breather, Alexi Ogando takes a step back, stomaching Murray Chass takes the patience of Job, and Mike Leake just takes period.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Power Rankings Explained

By The Common Man

Every week, Bill and The Common Man are asked to help out our friends at ESPN with a brief comment for the Monday Power Rankings about each of the seven teams that are not represented in the SweetSpot network. We work hard on these, but ultimately only get a sentence or two to get our points across, so we thought it might be worth our time and yours to give you a slightly longer take on the larger overall points we were trying to make. So every week, when we have more to say, we will expand on those thoughts here.  Today, The Common Man breaks down the Rockies, Diamondbacks, Marlins and Pirates.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Jackie Robinson: Love the Man, Hate the Day

By Bill

Below is a reprinting of one of the first baseball blog posts I ever wrote, two years ago today, under the slightly more cynical headline "Doritos Jackie Robinson Day Presented by Cialis." Not many things hold up after two years in the baseball-blogging world, but Bud Selig and MLB are again cheapening Jackie's memory by forcing every player in baseball to "honor" him by wearing his number, so it seems to me it's worth hauling this out again.

Podcastin' with a very special guest

Last night, Bill and The Common Man joined forces with Larry Granillo of Baseball Prospectus to talk about the first two weeks of the baseball season.  We talk Twins, Brewers, Manny, Manny vs. Barry, players and teams who have been pleasant surprises, and terrible disappointments.  As a special bonus, hear our reactions in real time as Bill and TCM find out about Joe Mauer's injury.  It's like listening to two already depressed people find out that their favorite uncle just died.

One warning, a random drunk person showed up in the middle of our conversation, and before we figured out how to block him, he managed to get off a really impressive string of profanities. It's incredibly NSFW from about 34:00-38:00 until TCM flushed him for good.  Not our best moment, but the rest of the podcast is relatively profanity free.  Listen after the jump.

This Week in 2001 (Week 2)

Here we go, continuing the hopefully-season-long Friday morning series I started last week, in which I take a look back ten years to what was happening in the week just past in the fascinating season of 2001. You can follow along on a daily basis on Twitter. Here's my favorite 2001 tweet from this week:

And here's a fuller breakdown of the week that was, April 9 through April 15, 2001:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

An Outfielder We Can Believe In...

Sam Fuld has given baseball fans untold amounts of pleasure in the last few days.  Look no further than the #TheLegendofSamFuld meme and the Notgraphs crew for that.  Bill himself has named Fuld his favorite player in the game today.  Therefore, as The Common Man's gift to you, he humbly offers you this:

SweetSpot Roundup 4/14

Today in the Roundup, How much is Carl Crawford worth, does the weather affect Carlos Beltran, is there a single player cooler than Sam Fuld, and why, in the name of all that is good and holy, would you ever "pitch to contact?"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

SweetSpot Roundup 4/13

This morning's roundup has some struggling pitchers, some rolling pitchers, some curious managerial decisions, dissension in the ranks, and a Yankee blogger with a nice Hall of Fame argument on behalf of a Red Sox legend.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fifteen Years of "Tainted" Titles?

By The Common Man

Earlier today, The Common Man had an interesting exchange with former reliever Steve Karsay on Twitter that got his mind working. Karsay was having a conversation with a pretty obnoxious Red Sox fan, when he said, “your rings are tainted with guys like Manny who used steroids.” That’s an interesting word, “tainted.” Even though Manny wasn’t caught using banned substances until 2009, Karsay makes the (understandable) leap to say that the Sox’s 2004 and 2007 titles were not won fairly. It’s a relatively fair point, as no one really thinks Manny began using in 2009, and the Sox also had other players suspected, accused, or suspended for use, including David Ortiz, JC Romero, Eric Gagne, Bronson Arroyo, and Brendan Donnelly.

But this left TCM wondering, are there any teams that we can claim won their titles fairly over the past 15 years? How wide-spread was the problem? Is everyone tainted? Using the Mitchell Report, Jose Canseco’s books, players MLB has suspended for banned substance use, and players who have admitted their use publically, TCM has done some digging to find out how many World Series Championships have been tainted by PEDs, using the definition laid out by Karsay (who, by the way, was incredibly engaged, seems like a good dude, passionately hates PEDs, and should have more followers).

Below, is a table, showing all the alleged users of Performance Enhancing Drugs that were on the rosters of World Championship teams (note, there are a couple more added in the comments section). These players presumably made some contribution to the team’s overall success and have therefore tainted their team’s success.

SweetSpot Roundup 4/12

This morning's SweetSpot Roundup is just like all the other SweetSpot Roundups, except even sweeter and even rounder. There's despair in Seattle, elation in Texas and Cincy, and confusion in San Diego.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Making It Up to the Angels

By The Common Man

Last night, The Common Man had to submit his comment on the Angels to the overlords of ESPN’s Power Rankings, and…well, TCM failed. There’s really no other way to put it. TCM blew right past the five straight wins and the incredible performance of Jared Weaver and the surprising start of Howie Kendrick, and focused on a bunch of really negative stuff that keeps bugging the hell out of him about the Angels. Because, and TCM admits this freely, he’s really annoyed by this incarnation of the Angels and the haphazard way they have been constructed. But as penance for shortchanging them today, TCM will provided a detailed explanation of everything that is wonderful and incredibly frustrating about the 2011 Angels.

SweetSpot Roundup 4/11

Today in the roundup, Fernando Valenzuela was awesome, Phil Hughes is in trouble, Clay Buchholz is going to be rich, and Manny Ramirez has, is, and will forever be (he exists out of time) being screwed.

Friday, April 8, 2011

This Week in 2001 (Week 1)

By Bill

A few days ago on Twitter, I started something I hope to keep up all season: one tweet a day that highlights something that happened on this date 10 years ago, in 2001. That season was one of the most interesting and action-filled in recent memory, and it's hard to believe that it was already a whole decade ago, so I thought it would be fun to kind of re-live the year in real time. Here's the first tweet:

So that's the idea. In connection with the Twitter effort, I've decided to write a weekly wrap-up, this Friday and hopefully every Friday, of what happened in baseball "this week" a decade ago (and it actually works out pretty well, as Saturday through Friday in our world was Monday through Sunday in 2001). So here's a look at a couple interesting notes from each day in the opening week:

SweetSpot Roundup 4/8

Today's roundup features a lot of stuff surrounding the opening of the minor league season, worries over bullpens and leg injuries, at least one pretty-but-foreboding graph, and Tim Lincecum pressing onward in a defense-less world. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The All-Time Tiny Team

By The Common Man

Bill is so certain of the superiority of his giant brethren that TCM was forced to respond with a team of the shortest players who have been actual ballplayers (sorry to Eddie Gaedel and his family). Using Bill’s criteria, which he laid out yesterday, TCM has assembled his tiny team. Most of them, despite what Bill would have you believe, are actually shorter than The Common Man. Obviously, all of them have grit and heart and inspired their teammates:

SweetSpot Roundup 4/7

Today in the roundup, the injury history of Justin Duchscherer reads like Elijah Dukes' rap sheet, Rafael Soriano disappears like Houdini, Yovani Gallardo is a two-way threat, Cole Hamels' start should not freak you out, and the single best statement about team construction that I've read lately is from Jon Weisman.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The All-Tall Guys Team

By Bill

So The Common Man was on here yesterday and was acting like short people have value or something, and as a relatively tall person (I'm not nearly as tall as TCM is short -- nobody is, and if he's 5'7", by the way, I'm...some ridiculous thing I'm clearly not -- but I'm taller than average, anyway), I felt the need to balance the scales a bit.

I can't really do what TCM did, though, because a list of the greatest players over a certain height (say 6'6") would pretty much just be a list of first basemen, corner outfielders, and starting pitchers, and that would be boring. Instead, I'm going to put together a team of the tallest players at each position, according to their listed heights on Baseball-Reference. They must have played at least 500 games at the position in question -- or 1000 innings for starting pitchers, 350 for relievers -- and in the case of a tie (which is frequent), I generally just picked the better player. TCM, naturally, is going to come along sometime soon with a parallel short-guys team.

SweetSpot Roundup 4/6

In today's roundup, Jon Shields chronicles the dawning of Prince Pineda, Big Papi hits some big flies, Ryan Madson gets drawn into a shadowy conspiracy from whence he cannot escape, and the New York media works hard to create controversy where there is none, so that they can cover the hell out of said controversy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pocket Heroes

By The Common Man

If we've learned nothing else from Randy Newman, it's that short people got no reason to live. Except perhaps for the Kansas City Royals' new reliever, Tim Collins. Collins is generously listed as 5’7” tall, and is one of the shortest pitchers in baseball history (if his listing is accurate, which it isn’t, he would be tied for 22nd all time). The Common Man loves this, mostly because he loves players who are shorter than he is (roughly 5’7” as well; no matter what Bill tries to tell you all, TCM is 5’7”). And his debut has not disappointed. Collins has been terrific across two appearances, striking out six batters in four innings, getting a win in relief, and not allowing a runner past second base. According to Fangraphs, he's averaging around 92 MPH on his fastball, and his curveball has been sharp.  He’s just going to be a lot of fun to watch over the next few years.

So in honor of Collins, and The Common Man, and David Eckstein (who TCM wrote about yesterday), here are the all time 10 best ballplayers shorter than TCM since 1901:

SweetSpot Roundup 4/5

Brandon Beachy shows promise, Jaimie Garcia dominates the Padres, Matt Harrison's quick start, Scott Baker and homers, & Cliff Lee is actually kind of funny.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Re-Instituting the Great Throw Home Project

By Bill

Last September 1, I got in a discussion with some people regarding when and how often third base coaches should send runners home. It's always been my feeling that a perfectly executed in-game throw, catch and tag between an outfielder and a catcher is relatively rare, and that third base coaches should thus generally be more aggressive than they are in sending runners home.

But that was just a feeling, so I thought I'd try to gather some data. And that's using the term "data" pretty loosely; assuming there is a way of studying this totally objectively, I'm certainly not going to be the one to find it. I just wanted to start making notes of plays at home, or even potential plays at home, and trying to get a feel for how often they're completed successfully by the defense.

So what I asked for the last month of the 2010 season, and I'm asking again now, is that you help me out by just letting me know when you see one of these plays -- either a single on which a runner attempts to score from second or a flyout with an attempted score from third which has the potential to be a close play, or would have been had the outfielder made the play cleanly -- and giving me as much detail on it as you can. Base/out situation, the position and player and spot on the field it was hit to, who was running, the result of the play, and your own assessment of how accurate the throw was and/or whether a better throw would have gotten him. Leave it at the original post (there's a permanent link to it along the right-hand side of our blog) or in the comments to this post, or send it to me by email or on Twitter. I've put the first two entries of 2011 in the comments to the original post.

I'm calling it The Great Throw Home Project, which is an incredibly grandiose name for such a silly little project. I'm still not entirely sure what I'm doing with this information. There's obviously nothing remotely scientific about it, and we won't know anything definitively when it's done. But with enough entries, we should feel like we know more by the end than we did at the beginning, and that's something. Right?

One Small Thing Is Missing From Opening Day Weekend

By The Common Man

Look, there’s nothing funnier than making fun of the David Eckstein, Purveyor of Grit, meme that runs through the national and local media whenever The Short One is in the public eye, but that ignores that fact that, over his career, tiny little pixy David Eckstein has been fairly valuable. In 10 seasons, he’s contributed somewhere around 20.0 WAR to his teams while combining decent onbase skills and defense. In particular, when teams don’t try to stretch him out as a shortstop, he’s a pretty good defensive player. Last year, Eckstein was worth around 2.0 WAR for the Padres, and he only played in 116 games. There’s a good chance that, given a couple weeks worth of at bats at AAA, David Eckstein would be a significant help to multiple teams in Major League Baseball.

(Rest of the article, as well as a chance to vote on David Eckstein's new nickname after the jump.)

SweetSpot Roundup 4/4

Baseballin' On a Budget (Athletics): Game 2 Recap
"HEY BATS YOU CAN START HITTING NOW." The A's must have heard Dan, because they scored 7 in game 3.

Ghostrunner on First (Blue Jays): Kyle Drabek's Day At the Office
Drew's got a really nice graphical representation of Kyle Drabek's absolutely dominating performance against the Twins on Saturday.

ProBall NW (Mariners): Mariners Tally Another Comeback
Milton Bradley is sparking rallies and the Mariners are winning?  What is this, 2007?

Weaver's Tantrum (Orioles): Opening Day; Crazy Day
"Guthrie sure looked like a real opening day pitcher against the Rays."  Of course, if you're drunk enough, I look like George Clooney.

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): The Rangers Sweep the Red Sox
"Taking era adjustments and the relative values of on-base percentage and slugging percentage into account, the Texas lineup has essentially performed like Ted Williams through its first three games against one of the most talented teams in baseball, and that ... well, that's just fantastic."

The Ray Area: Opening Day-ish
"Splitting Opening Day is like spreading the first two days of the NCAA tournament across a week.  Sure more TV eyes end up on each game but, part of the fun of Opening Day (and the opening rounds of the NCAA tourney) is watching and following multiple games at once."

Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): On the Bright Side, David Ortiz Is On Pace To Hit 162 Homers
Hey, remember back when David Ortiz was supposed to be done because of his slow starts. The world is a better place when people aren't complaining about the Cookie Monster.

Royals Authority: Curb Your Disappointment
"We spend a lot of time discounting spring training results.... Yet, come Opening Day, that one game out of 162 seems to be more than enough for many to draw immediate conclusions."

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): Another Shattered Bat Injures Another Fan
Jason's personal crusade continues.  And he's right, it's far past time that baseball  and the players' union banded together to fix the problem.

Austin's Astros 290 Blog: Finding optimism out of a heartbreaking loss
Austin points out the promising signs from the Astros' opening day loss after the Phillies' three-run ninth.

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): Braves 11, Nationals 2
"All of the regulars are hitting and Tim Hudson is back to pitching like he was in the middle of last season. Happy times are here again."

Disciples of Uecker (Brewers): Brewers Elimination Number Down to 157
Solid perspective from Jack. "157. Despite a catastrophic series filled with a blown save, a brutal outing by a new acquisition, and a blowout loss, all at the hands of a division rival, the Brewers are hardly closer to elimination than they were at the beginning of the season."

Fungoes (Cardinals): Is Colby Rasmus a horrible two-strike hitter?
Apparently, some in Cardinal nation have accepted as gospel the notion that he is. Pip does some good work in finding out whether or not that's, you know, true.

The View from the Bleachers (Cubs): Game 2 - God Bless the 8th Inning
A wrapping-up and breaking-down of the Cubbies' first (and so far only) victory.

Dodger Thoughts: Dodgers survive and advance, 7-5
The Sunday night game ended five minutes ago, and this is already up. Cool! "Not for the first time this season, I'm at risk of not giving due credit to Kemp, who has once again become 'Stop what you're doing and watch TV' – in a good way."

Bay City Ball: Pat's Bat
Specifically, the speed of said bat. David Pinto, who is a very smart person, suggested Burrell has a hard time with hard fastballs; Otis Anderson, who is also a very smart person, offers some reasons to doubt that.

Mets Today: Mets Game 3: Win Over Marlins
Wrapping up the Mets' second win in three games. The best part about opening week is the hope fans of teams like the Mets, Royals and Orioles must be feeling right now. And they should be feeling that hope. It's awesome, for as long as it lasts.

Nationals Baseball: Tiny Little Hurdles
Harper looks at the team position-by-position and ways it might improve offensively over 2010.

Ducksnorts (Padres): Pity About the Padres Offense
A delightfully rambling post wrapping up the Padres' game 2 win. Tweets, the history of bunts by Padres' number three hitters, and first impressions of the most amazingly bizarre relief pitcher ever.

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): Breaking Down David Schoenfield's Phillies Prediction
Bill has put together a long post analyzing, agreeing and disagreeing with Schoenfield's "why the Phillies will miss the playoffs" post in a thoroughly well-reasoned and discourse-advancing way and, frankly, everyone everywhere should read it.

Redleg Nation: Titanic Struggle Recap: SWEEP!!!
A succinct and informative recap of the Reds' third win in three games over the division rival Brewers, this one a 12-3 blowout led by Ryan Hanigan, who (if he stays healthy and keeps sharing time with Ramon Hernandez) is going to become the new, defensively-improved Mike Napoli or Chris Ianetta.