FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Rookie Turns Three

The Rockies finished up their short three game homestand against the Braves today. I was scoring for and in the top of 7th I saw something I and not many others had personally witnessed before. After Kelly Johnson singled to center to open the inning and Edgar Renteria grounded a single to left against Zach McClellan the count had run to three and two against Chipper Jones. The runners were moving on the pitch and Jones hit a line drive to Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop. He caught the ball as he was moving towards second and then attempted to step on second before tagging Renteria coming down from first. Triple play. I say attempted since it appeared he missed the bag the first time and then went back to touch it after tagging Renteria. The play was scored 6/LTP.2X2(6);1X1(6) in Retrosheet lingo. Either way it was just the 12th unassisted triple play in Major League history during the regular season and the first since Rafael Furcal turned the trick on August 10th 2003 against the Cardinals. Since 1968 it's only the fifth.

Interestingly, there were two of them turned in 1923 one by the Red Sox on September 14th and the other by the (Boston) Braves on October 6th. There were also two turned in 1927 on consecutive days by the Cubs Jim Cooney on May 30th and the Tigers Johnny Neun on May 31st. There was one unassisted triple play in the post season belonging to Bill Wambsganss in the 1920 World Series for the Indians. This is also the 8th instance of a shortstop turning one. There were three by second baseman and two by first baseman.

The game was notable for a couple other reasons as well as Todd Helton set the Rockies single game record for walks with five. He singled in the first and then walked in the 2nd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 11th. That last walk came right before Matt Holliday ended it on a walk-off two-run homer to center field against Steve Coyler. Up until that point Holliday had had a rough day going one for five with only an infield single in the 9th inning rally where the Rockies tied the game at 7 against Braves closer Bob Wickman. Prior to that Holliday had struck out and grounded into two double plays in addition to flying out to right. For Helton that gives him 32 hits and 24 walks on the season good for a .523 on base percentage. He still just has the one homerun and so you begin to wonder whether the power is permanately gone or not. Holliday now has 41 hits and continues to lead the league in hitting at .394 and extended his hitting streak to 12 games. Brad Hawpe also homered in the game (his first of the year) accounting for the Rox sixth and seventh homeruns of the season here at Coors and their first multi-homerun game all season. Their home record stands at 6-7 as they head out on the road to face the Giants. In another quirk of the current schedule, as the Rockies make their 9 day road trip they'll land in all four time zones.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Chat Today!

Just a reminder that I'm chatting today on Baseball Prospectus - 1pm Eastern. You can also submit questions early.

Update: The transcript has been posted. Thanks again to everyone who participated.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wednesday Links

A few interesting links that I was perusing today...

  • Move Over, Moneyball: Stat nerds are out! Biomechanics nerds are in! Interesting article on that talks about the increasing availability of information, in this case video, that is creating a new avenue for fans and analysts alike. Two examples include the articles by Chris Gomez on The Hardball Times and of course Will Carroll's work as found on on Dice-K. While there is subjective evaluation here, this is a good example of the power of the "wisdom of crowds" enabled by the forces described in the book Wikinomics - a convergence of the general trends of increasing information technology and an ever-widening communications infrastructure.

  • No Excuse: Why did NBC air so much evil now? An excellent short argument for why NBC's actions in airing the videos of a madman were without excuse. It seems to me that their obligation was to hand over the material to the authorities, period. But beyond that, as powerful shapers of the public environment in which we all are immersed, they are obligated to take into consideration the effect of airing such material. One would hope their ethics would lead them to decide that the material does not serve the public good and in fact is likely to have deleterious effects by glorifying the act. Sorry so heavy but the post referred to hit a nerve.

  • Lies, Damned Lies: The Cruelest Month. A great look at the effect of the early season weather on run scoring by Nate Silver. April is indicative but this season there are special considerations.

  • Going the Other Way. John Walsh at THT wrote one of those articles that leads me to say "why haven't I done this?" Anyway, some mixed results but interesting nonetheless.

  • Taking a Bat to Prejudice. Great tribute to Jackie Robinson by George Will. Amidst the 60th anniversary celebration there was much made of the fact that the percentage of blacks in the major leagues has fallen steadily to where it is now 8.5% (it was 30% in the mid 1970s). While I agree that this is a problem from the perspective of baseball which should be competing for the best athletes with basketball and football it doesn't seem to be the larger societal problem that some make it out to be. Yes there are issues with economic disparity that may help to bar entry related to the breakdown of the African American family, but the rise of Latin and Asian players and the lure of other sports is probably the more effective cause. As a side note the fact that players from outside the country are not exposed to a shared draft also provides incentives for teams to devote increasing resources to international scouting and player development.

  • Tuesday, April 24, 2007


    An interesting article by Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on clutch hitting that basically hits on the variety of viewpoints on the subject. Your truly is quoted on the sabermetric perspective - a view that I've expounded on elsewhere. For a list of studies on this topic take a look at Cyril Morong's site.

    Rays Win!

    Last night I had my first opportunity to take in a game at Tropicana Field and so what follows are a few impressions.

  • The park is easily accessible from the I-275/175 split in St. Petersburg and despite a little traffic arrived at the park from near downtown Tampa is less than an hour.

  • More importantly, though, the parking was free to the first 7,000 cars. I think this was policy that started last season. Since the crowd was just over 20,000 last night I easily made it in and was able to park just a 100 yards or so from the entrance.

  • As you walk up to the facility you're greeted by Rays cheerleaders or whatever they're called and you begin to get the feeling that the experience will be more like a football game than a baseball game.

  • I understand there have been fairly significant changes to the facility in the last couple of years and where I entered behind right field you get the feel that they're working hard to make the park fan-friendly. Large murals on the history of baseball in the St. Petersburg area cover the walls and along with a wide variety of food you find booths for kids activities include a science and baseball activity and a number of video boards. Apparently the park also include a Ted Williams museum and a rays "touch tank" (I assume full of rays) neither of which I found on my brief foray in the 6th inning to survey other parts of the park. The new video board in right center and the strip along the upper deck in left center are both large and crystal clear. In fact, the one in right-center is so large and dominating that I scolded myself a couple times for failing to watch the field instead of the board.

  • On this night the staff were giving out cow bells to the Rays faithful and upon seeing my Colorado Rockies hat refused to give me a bell (for which I'm glad since my eight-year old would have had no end of fun clunking all throughout the house). But they also give out free programs that while smaller than an 8 1/2 by 11 style magazine that most teams have, is packed with information including a nice article on Rays prospects by Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. And when I approached a vendor to ask about a scorecard it turns out they're small and free as well (the scorecard not the vendors). I found myself writing incredibly small and still not able to fit in the notations I usually use.

  • After I finally found my seat in the third deck behind home plate (passing a very nice mural of the back side of an old baseball grandstand visible as you ride the escalators) I was surprised at the number of pregame activities underway. Several giveaways, a pregame song or two from a couple of female singers I didn't recognize, and a bunch of announcements all emceed by a good looking youngish man with a big voice and an overabundance of energy. I've seen this sort of activity level at minor league games and the Colorado Springs Sky Sox do something very similar with a "host" of sorts who entertains before the game and between innings but never at the major league level. At each half-inning break the emcee would run some contest or game and all eyes were glued to the video board and accompanying some of the contests were musical selections with the "cheer squad" merrily dancing on top of the dugouts. And of course inside the dome all of it was pretty loud and I'll have to admit the purist in me was a bit taken aback although I did enjoy the Imperial March background music as the Yankees were being introduced. The introduction of the Rays starting lineup was akin to an NBA introduction with the announcer at the top of his voice and the video board doing its part. One wonders whether the perceived need to turn baseball games into spectacles like football games will ultimately be good for the sport. Be that as it may there is no denying that younger fans find the gaudiness of those sports attractive.

  • The game was of course interesting as well as the Devil Rays jumped all over Kei Igawa who simply didn't look sharp. His fastball topped out at 90mph and he was throwing his changeup alot which comes in around 80 as well as a slider in the low 80s. In any case his location wasn't good as he walked three and gave up eight hits and seven runs in four and third innings going 97 pitches. Roco Baldelli and B.J. Upton both homered off of Igawa. Baldelli's was a long blast to left center in the first and Upton was a line drive that actually hit the left field foul pole just a couple feet above the low fence line at the 315 foot mark. Since the ball ricocheted to the foul side it wasn't immediately obvious it was a homerun. Casey Fossum wasn't much better giving up 10 hits and six runs in five and two-thirds. He gave up the first of the two Alex Rodriguez homeruns although it was entertaining to watch him throw the "Fossum Flip" to several hitters getting Bobby Abreu in the third to fly out and Derek Jeter in the fifth to ground out. The pitch to Abreu was clocked at 52 mph.

  • Other than A-Rod I think I was most impressed with the throwing arm of Elijah Dukes. He made three throws on fly balls that were strong and accurate and although he didn't catch any of the three runners, it's clear that his three outfield assists thus far (to lead all rookies) is no fluke.

  • There's not much else to say about A-Rod. His two homeruns give him 14 for the month and so with six games left to play he should break the pre-May homerun and RBI records which stand at 14 and 36. He also made a sparkling defensive play in the first inning on a sharp grounder by Ty Wiggington.

  • In the end the Ray won the game 10-8 with A-Rod's second homerun plating the final two runs in the top of the ninth off of Rays closer Al Reyes. Each team used six pitchers and with names like Bean, Meyers, Bruney, Vizcaino, Glover, Camp, Salas, and Stokes all making appearances it's not surprising that there were 28 hits and 11 walks in the game. The fans used their cow bells effectively in the bottom of the ninth although there were plenty of Yankees fans and there was plenty of celebrating on the way to the parking lot.

  • All in all a nice evening.

    Friday, April 20, 2007

    Quick Workers and Human Rain Delays

    After watching and reading about Mark Buehrle's no-hitter the other night I wondered which pitchers have been known as quick workers (meaning pitchers whose tempo is accelerated and not pitchers who pitch to contact) and which are, shall we say, a little more deliberate. With the help of some BP staffers I've come up with the following lists of quick and slow workers by reputation. I'd appreciate any other contributions to the list from any era.

    Quick Workers (no particular order)
    Mark Buehrle
    Zane Smith
    Bob Gibson
    Jim Kaat
    Bronson Arroyo
    John Lieber
    Catfish Hunter
    Roy Halladay
    Greg Maddux
    Tim Wakefield
    Mark Mulder

    Slow Workers
    Vicente Padilla
    Joey Hamilton
    Jeff Gray
    Steve Trachsel

    Others..and why do you suppose the first list includes pitchers of higher quality? Do we simply remember when good pitchers work quickly or is that a part of their success?

    Friars and Rox

    Getting set for a nice weekend of baseball and so a few notes...

    Tonight the Padres come to town to take on the Rockies with Chris Young facing Josh Fogg. I'll have to admit that mentioned in the BP2K7 all things considered Fogg turned in a better 2006 season than most would have predicted. Once again though he was still hit hard by lefties to the tune of .309/.388/.512 and fell apart in August and September. Some of that can no doubt be attributed to bone chips that he had to have removed from his elbow after the season. Of course he does get groundballs with his sinker (I happened to attend his masterpiece against the Mariners at SafeCo Field last season that lasted all of 1 hour and 52 minutes) and yet he still struggled mightily at Coors Field. The Rockies management really like his approach and attitude and since Byung-Hyun Kim has struggled, it appears the fifth spot is Fogg's to lose. This will be his third start of the season although he did appear in relief last Monday against the Giants.

    Interestingly there have been only 6 homeruns hit at Coors Field this season ahead of only Camden Yards for fewest per game this season. Unfortunately most of that poor showing can be attributed to the Rockies hitters who also have only hit 39 extra basse hits all season ahead of only St. Louis, Washington, and Cincinnati and have been shutout in extra base hits 4 times this season. And not surprisingly the Wrigley Field has seen only 6 homeruns in 495 at bats as well.

    As far as the Padres are concerned they come into tonight's game with Heath Bell and Cla Meredith each having thrown 10.3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. They also have rookie Kevin Cameron who has thrown 9.0 innings of scoreless relief to start his career (most for a San Diego pitcher to begin a career since Clay Condrey worked 14.3 innings in August and Septemebr of 2002 - aren't you glad you know that?). Trevor Hoffman has also thrown six scoreless innings and overall Padres relievers rank second in the NL with a 2.15 ERA (15 ER in 62.7 IP) behind only the Mets (1.51, 7ER/41.7 IP). They've held opposing hitters to a .181 average and have 47 Ks to boot.

    Tomorrow there will be an interesting SABR meeting before the 6:05 game. Should be a fun weekend.

    Thursday, April 19, 2007

    Thrown Out in the End

    My column today on Baseball Prospectus focused on the unhappy circumstance of Erick Aybar being caught stealing to end two different games this season. It turns out that getting thrown out to end a game has happened 84 times since 1970 (excluding 1999) and so it's not as rare as at least I first thought. I then discuss the strategic calculation in these events from the general and specific Aybar cases.

    The second half of the article deals with another demonstration of baseball's version of natural selection in how starting jobs are kept or lost piggy-backing on an article from two weeks ago chronicling the demise of Angel Berroa.

    Wednesday, April 18, 2007

    A Different Look at Post Season Odds

    Just getting set to score the Rockies/Dodgers game tonight at Coors Field with Derek Lowe up against Rodrigo Lopez. Lopez has pitched surprisingly well this season giving up 2 runs and 6 hits in 7 innings against Arizona on April 4th and one run on 5 hits in 6 innings against the Dodgers on April 10th. We'll see what he has tonight.

    Since we're early in the season and the discussion at this time of year always turns to small sample sizes I thought I'd take a different look at post season odds than the one we use on Baseball Prospectus where the system uses our adjusted standings and runs simulations of 1,000,000 seasons to determine the probability of each team winning their division, taking the wild card, and making it to the postseason. There are also ELO and PECOTA adjusted versions and overall that approach is similar to the kinds of simulations I've run in the past for looking at postseason odds.

    What I did here was different and is instead rooted in sort of the inverse of the uniformitarian philosophy embodied by the phrase "the present is the key to the past". In other words, it's a view from the historical record.

    The first table below compares each 2007 team's record as of this afternoon to all other teams who have ever had that record and then includes two pieces of information - the average final winning percentage of all of those teams and the percentage of the time those teams reached the post season.

    W L Teams FinalPct PSPct Teams
    10 4 149 0.560 0.302 Dodgers
    8 4 266 0.545 0.282 Mets
    9 4 198 0.559 0.278 Braves
    8 5 327 0.529 0.248 Blue Jays, Twins
    8 6 368 0.528 0.209 Reds, Padres
    6 4 416 0.526 0.207 Indians
    7 5 393 0.521 0.201 Red Sox
    9 6 312 0.529 0.196 Tigers, Diamondbacks
    5 4 493 0.520 0.185 Mariners
    7 6 403 0.514 0.154 Brewers
    7 7 359 0.504 0.131 Orioles, A's
    6 6 425 0.503 0.118 Yankees, Astros,Pirates
    6 7 362 0.490 0.099 Rangers,Marlins, Cardinals
    5 7 371 0.475 0.078 White Sox
    6 8 349 0.475 0.074 Devil Rays, Angels, Rockies
    5 8 335 0.463 0.060 Cubs
    3 9 143 0.438 0.049 Phillies
    4 8 241 0.450 0.046 Giants
    4 10 149 0.438 0.040 Nationals
    4 11 110 0.428 0.027 Royals

    So here we see the Dodgers at 10-4 have the highest probability of reaching the post season at 30.2% (our basic report on BP has them at 41.2%) and teams in their position have gone on to play .560 baseball over the course of the season equivalent to 91 wins. On the opposite side the Royals have a 2.7% chance of reaching the post season (BP has them at 7.8% which seems extraordinarily high to me) and teams have come in at 69 wins (.428).

    But of course this technique doesn't take into consideration the fact that more teams reach the playoffs given the current format. The following table takes this into account by looking only at seasons since 1995 when the three division format and wild card were introduced.

    W L Teams Final PctPSPct Teams
    9 4 25 0.555 0.480 Braves
    10 4 23 0.545 0.435 Dodgers
    8 4 49 0.544 0.429 Mets
    8 5 66 0.530 0.394 Blue Jays, Twins
    9 6 58 0.529 0.379 Tigers, Diamondbacks
    8 6 66 0.523 0.364 Reds, Padres
    7 5 70 0.515 0.357 Red Sox
    5 4 84 0.519 0.345 Mariners
    6 4 68 0.520 0.338 Indians
    7 7 65 0.500 0.292 Orioles, A's
    7 6 65 0.501 0.262 Brewers
    6 7 70 0.496 0.243 Rangers,Marlins, Cardinals
    6 6 75 0.503 0.227 Yankees, Astros,Pirates
    5 7 56 0.476 0.179 White Sox
    5 8 54 0.480 0.167 Cubs
    6 8 64 0.481 0.156 Devil Rays, Angels, Rockies
    4 8 44 0.465 0.136 Giants
    4 11 20 0.446 0.100 Royals
    4 10 24 0.447 0.083 Nationals
    3 9 20 0.448 0.050 Phillies

    The smaller sample here illogically puts the Braves at 9-4 ahead of the Dodgers at 10-4, but as you can see the odds of those teams reaching the post season goes up quite a bit since approximately 28% of all teams have made the playoffs since 1995.

    Mostly what this tells us is that it is a long season and unless your team is 4-11, 4-10, or 3-9, based on history they still have a chance to make some noise.

    Monday, April 16, 2007

    Hitless (almost) Winning

    Yesterday the Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago White Sox 2-1 as the Indians managed only a single hit. Both of the Indians runs were unearned as the result of three Sox errors and a bases loaded walk by Jose Contreras.

    Be that as it may that prompted me to take a look at how many games have been won by a team who managed just one hit. The complete list going back to 1957 (and excluding 1999) sorted in descending order by date is as follows...

    2006-09-03 NYN at HOU W (2-1)
    2006-06-22 SLN at CHA W (1-0)
    2005-08-23 CHA at MIN W (1-0)
    2002-04-27 NYA at SEA W (1-0)
    2000-05-21 CHA W (2-1) at TOR
    1997-09-03 BOS at MON W (1-0)
    1996-04-13 KCA W (3-2) at MIL
    1995-08-02 TOR at BAL W (1-0)
    1993-07-27 TEX W (1-0) at KCA
    1992-07-25 PIT at ATL W (1-0)
    1992-04-14 OAK at KCA W (3-1)
    1991-09-14 NYN at SLN W (2-1)
    1989-08-15 TEX at SEA W (2-0)
    1986-09-07 SFN W (1-0) at MON
    1986-06-16 TEX at CAL W (2-1)
    1984-08-24 CIN W (2-0) at PIT
    1983-05-18 CHA at BAL W (1-0)
    1982-09-05 ATL at MON W (2-1)
    1975-07-19 CHN at SDN W (2-1)
    1974-09-08 CHA W (1-0) at CAL
    1974-09-04 CIN W (2-1) at HOU
    1971-09-02 KCA at MIL W (1-0)
    1971-07-30 KCA at BAL W (1-0)
    1969-09-05 ATL at CIN W (2-11)
    1969-06-08 CAL W (3-2) at CLE
    1965-09-09 CHN at LAN W (1-0)
    1965-05-15 CHN at LAN W (3-1)
    1964-09-12 KC1 at BAL W (1-0)
    1964-09-06 BOS at MIN W (2-1)
    1959-05-26 PIT at MLN W (1-0)
    1957-06-16 MLN at PHI W (1-0)

    Wednesday, April 11, 2007

    Assignment Discovery: Sabermetrics

    I was alerted by a fellow Cubs fan that the program "Statistics and Data Analysis in Sports" will be airing on the Discovery Channel on April 17th. The description of the show on their web site says:

    Using only a calculator, a stat book, and some custom equations, a new generation of baseball statisticians believes that it's possible to predict a player's true value to his team. The results will surprise you.
    It'll be interesting to see if they're really talking about "prediction" or simply quantification after the fact. The former has its limits while the latter is very well understood. I'm also interested in these types of presentations since they often misrepresent and distort subjects that are somewhat technical. I wrote about two depictions of sabermetrics back in November in a column titled "The Numb3rs Game" on BP.

    Wednesday, April 04, 2007

    Selection Pressure

    In my column tomorrow on Baseball Prospectus I chronicle the decline of Angel Berroa in an article titled "In the Arms of an Angel". After summarizing Berroa's tenure since coming into the Royals system in the Johnny Damon trade, I do a little analysis to document players who, like Berroa, had three straight years of decreasing productivity while in their prime and retaining their regular jobs. I did this by looking at OPS park adjusted and normalized by league for players between the ages of 24 and 30 while garnering 400 or more plate appearances.

    It turns out that has happened 96 times in baseball history for 85 different players. Those 96 instances are shown in the table below sorted by primary position of the player in their first year (the second year would be the first year of the decline) and NOPS/PF in that first year. You'll then see their NOPS/PF for each subsequent season and the average decline per year calculated using the geometric mean. The list is sorted by position since a shortstop has a greater probability of keeping his job even in an offensive decline given that his defense is more important and therefore a good defender will see less selection pressure applied to his offense.

    Name Yr1POS Yr1Age Year1 Year1 Year2 Year3 Year4 Avg
    Jimmie Foxx 1B 24 1932 160 157 150 147 2.6%
    Lou Gehrig 1B 27 1930 158 155 147 145 2.4%
    Norm Cash 1B 26 1961 157 123 122 115 4.7%
    Jimmie Foxx 1B 25 1933 157 150 147 133 4.4%
    Jimmie Foxx 1B 26 1934 150 147 133 119 5.9%
    Andres Galarraga 1B 27 1988 130 111 104 88 11.2%
    Keith Hernandez 1B 25 1979 130 128 124 116 3.1%
    Eddie Murray 1B 27 1983 129 128 126 118 2.0%
    Gregg Jefferies 1B 25 1993 124 119 106 101 5.9%
    Sean Casey 1B 24 1999 123 113 110 90 7.3%
    Gregg Jefferies 1B 26 1994 119 106 101 98 5.3%
    Willie Upshaw 1B 26 1983 118 110 106 95 6.3%
    Steve Balboni 1B 27 1984 112 107 99 91 6.5%
    Willie Upshaw 1B 27 1984 110 106 95 93 4.3%
    Eddie Collins 2B 27 1914 145 137 124 118 6.3%
    Larry Doyle 2B 24 1911 133 121 111 110 4.1%
    Jimmy Williams 2B 24 1901 125 122 109 107 3.6%
    Jimmy Williams 2B 25 1902 122 109 107 102 4.5%
    Frankie Frisch 2B 24 1923 121 120 114 107 2.9%
    Bret Boone 2B 25 1994 116 104 86 85 5.9%
    Carlos Baerga 2B 24 1993 113 110 105 88 5.8%
    Tony Cuccinello 2B 27 1935 112 111 110 104 1.6%
    Damion Easley 2B 27 1997 110 104 99 98 3.0%
    Marty McManus 2B 24 1924 110 105 102 101 2.3%
    Billy Goodman 2B 27 1953 108 101 100 98 2.3%
    Dick Egan 2B 25 1909 107 94 92 89 4.4%
    Eddie Mathews 3B 27 1959 142 139 132 124 4.0%
    Heinie Zimmerman 3B 25 1912 140 129 116 107 8.5%
    Richie Hebner 3B 24 1972 132 120 119 103 4.7%
    Tommy Leach 3B 24 1902 121 115 103 101 4.6%
    Richie Hebner 3B 25 1973 120 119 103 101 2.8%
    Max Alvis 3B 25 1963 115 110 103 101 3.8%
    Kevin Seitzer 3B 25 1987 114 110 102 101 2.9%
    Bill Mueller 3B 26 1997 109 107 104 97 3.3%
    Bobby Byrne 3B 27 1912 109 98 96 84 6.4%
    Eddie Foster 3B 27 1914 108 104 102 93 4.0%
    Bill Coughlin 3B 26 1905 102 95 92 83 6.0%
    Mike Scioscia C 26 1985 121 104 98 97 4.4%
    Gus Triandos C 27 1958 114 109 107 104 2.8%
    Manny Sanguillen C 27 1971 113 108 104 101 3.6%
    Rick Ferrell C 25 1931 109 107 106 101 2.0%
    Sammy White C 24 1953 102 99 96 82 5.1%
    Ken Griffey CF 27 1997 135 127 121 118 4.1%
    Raul Mondesi CF 27 1998 114 108 107 101 3.0%
    Brian Hunter CF 25 1996 94 90 82 73 7.5%
    Bobby Higginson LF 25 1996 125 118 108 94 8.5%
    Ty Cobb OF 25 1912 156 154 152 147 1.8%
    Ty Cobb OF 26 1913 154 152 147 144 2.1%
    Kevin Mitchell OF 27 1989 153 131 126 108 9.2%
    Tris Speaker OF 24 1912 149 147 145 130 2.7%
    Albert Belle OF 27 1994 148 142 130 109 8.2%
    Bobby Murcer OF 25 1971 147 141 118 105 9.0%
    Joe Medwick OF 25 1937 147 125 119 118 3.9%
    Tito Francona OF 25 1959 142 118 116 103 6.8%
    Duke Snider OF 27 1954 142 140 133 126 3.3%
    Edd Roush OF 24 1917 136 131 128 125 2.7%
    Tony Oliva OF 25 1964 131 126 123 119 3.1%
    Mike Greenwell OF 24 1988 130 112 109 104 5.5%
    Jim Rice OF 25 1978 130 128 112 109 3.7%
    Steve Kemp OF 24 1979 125 116 115 111 2.8%
    Kirk Gibson OF 27 1984 123 122 117 116 1.4%
    Tom Tresh OF 27 1965 123 115 106 98 7.3%
    Jim Russell OF 25 1944 123 115 110 99 6.6%
    Al Smith OF 27 1955 121 110 104 103 3.6%
    Greasy Neale OF 25 1917 120 110 100 95 7.2%
    Carl Furillo OF 27 1949 119 110 107 94 6.3%
    Amos Otis OF 25 1972 118 115 110 101 4.5%
    Tito Francona OF 26 1960 118 116 103 93 5.7%
    Phil Bradley OF 26 1985 117 114 109 108 2.2%
    Steve Kemp OF 25 1980 116 115 111 101 3.0%
    Paul Blair OF 25 1969 116 111 104 96 5.9%
    Gus Bell OF 26 1955 116 115 101 93 4.4%
    Jack Smith OF 26 1921 115 113 106 97 4.5%
    Jackie Brandt OF 27 1961 114 111 103 97 4.8%
    Luis Polonia OF 26 1990 112 101 94 86 8.3%
    Mule Haas OF 27 1931 111 102 101 93 4.0%
    Marty Cordova OF 25 1995 110 106 96 92 5.2%
    Marquis Grissom OF 25 1992 110 107 103 93 4.6%
    Don Mueller OF 27 1954 108 98 86 83 7.3%
    Joe Vosmik OF 27 1937 107 105 96 94 3.2%
    Devon White OF 24 1987 101 97 93 90 3.7%
    Raul Mondesi RF 26 1997 127 114 108 107 3.7%
    Alex Rodriguez SS 24 2000 136 134 127 125 2.3%
    Robin Yount SS 26 1982 135 127 113 107 7.0%
    Alex Rodriguez SS 25 2001 134 127 125 117 3.7%
    Barry Larkin SS 27 1991 126 120 116 107 5.0%
    Ray Chapman SS 26 1917 119 111 109 108 2.2%
    Travis Fryman SS 24 1993 117 103 98 97 3.9%
    Freddy Parent SS 27 1903 117 115 95 93 4.0%
    Jeff Blauser SS 26 1992 116 115 94 89 4.4%
    Jay Bell SS 27 1993 115 106 99 96 5.4%
    Jody Reed SS 26 1989 106 104 99 87 4.8%
    Chick Galloway SS 25 1922 106 94 87 79 9.2%
    Rafael Ramirez SS 24 1982 99 98 87 85 3.0%
    Angel Berroa SS 25 2003 98 92 90 73 6.3%
    Bud Harrelson SS 25 1969 93 92 91 86 1.9%

    What you'll notice of course is that all but four of these declines started with the hitter having an NOPS/PF greater than 100. As you might expect, players can retain their jobs through performance declines typically only if that decline starts from a fairly high plateau. Overall, the average of the first year is 123 and the fourth 104. You'll find Berroa second from the bottom as only Bud Harrelson began from a lower NOPS and retained his job through three years of decline. But you'll also notice that Berroa's decline averaged 6.3% while Harrelson was fairly steady at 1.9%.

    The bottom line is that Berroa's ability to keep his job was pretty much unprecedented given his offensive performance and even more incredible given that under John Dewan's Plus/Minus system and the data shared by The Hardball Times he fielded 84 fewer balls than would have been expected.

    Major League players are under a great deal of selection pressure akin to what organisms feel ala natural selection. Berroa didn't feel it nearly as acutely as he probably should have.

    Five Games Per Pitcher?

    I just had to pass this on after listening to the Daily podcast earlier today. In an interview with Twins broadcaster Dan Gladden the topic turned to what the Twins might do regarding locking up some of their players like Johann Santana and Justin Morneau with long term contracts. When the discussion turned to Torii Hunter Gladden had this to say.

    "If you don't replace your gold glover in centerfield what you're going to have is Johann Santana, now that twenty-game winner he's gonna be a 15-16 game winner. All your other guys that are going to win 12, 13 ballgames now are going to win 9 and maybe 10 games because you're losing something in your centerfield. Torii Hunter wins at least wins five games a year per pitcher - three to five games per pitcher just with his defense in centerfield."
    Five games a year with his defense per pitcher? So Hunter's defense is worth 25 wins? I'm sorry but even a non-stathead who has no understanding of sabermetric defensive metrics must realize how absurd this statement, when taken literally, is from a simple common sense persepctive. If he is worth 25 wins on defense then he's saving something like 250 runs all by himself.

    But most likely what Gladden was thinking was not that Hunter "wins" 25 games all by himself but rather impacts 25 games with good defensive plays and so Gladden mentally attributes the win to Hunter since without the play the team might have lost. Even so, what that formulation leaves out is the fact that any centerfielder will make some percentage of those difficult plays and so it's not as if another player would simply have failed to make all of those plays and therefore cost the team all of those games. And of course he probably selectively remembers all of the good plays and never the cost of over-aggressiveness that sometimes results in errors that let in runs.

    More realistically, in 2006 Hunter was slightly below average according to David Pinto's PMR and slightly above according to the Davenport Translations.


    On Saturday April 21st the Rocky Mountain chapter of The Society for American Baseball Research will get together to discuss all things 2007 Rockies with Bill Geivett, Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Baseball Operations of the Rockies. We'll meet at 12:30 PM in The Caboose Room of The Chophouse at 1735 19th Street in Denver near Coors Field.

    The event will last until 2:30pm and then all are invited to take in the Rockies/Padres game at 6:05. Tickets are available for $7 and requests and payment can be sent to Paul Parker. Deadline for the tickets is April 18th.

    Back in the Saddle

    Last night I began my fourth season as an "stringer" for the now Enhanced Gameday system (note that a minority of the parks include the equipment necessary to do the enhanced pitch tracking called Pitch F/X but the idea is to add more parks throughout the year and be close to having full coverage by midseason). My first year I was in Kansas City and for the last two have worked here at Coors Field. Today the Rockies will take on the Diamondbacks in the final game of the opening series and I'm sitting in while a rookie takes his turn at the keyboard.

    Last night the Rockies escaped with a 4-3 victory in 11 innings on the strength of some shoddy D'Backs defense in the bottom of the 11th inning. After Todd Helton and Matt Holliday started the inning with opposite field singles, Brad Hawpe grounded into a 6-3 double play to put Helton as the tying run on third with two outs. Troy Tulowitzki then hit a Jose Valverde pitch to right field that was poorly played by Eric Brynes and Tulowitzki was credited with a double. On an 0-1 count Chris Iannetta hit a grounder to third baseman Alberto Callaspo and it skipped under his glove for an error and a 4-3 Rockies win.

    In the top of the 11th Byung-Hyun Kim got the first two outs before walking 8th place hitter Chris Snyder and hitting Callaspo. Stephen Drew singled to right to score Snyder to give the Diamondbacks the 3-2 lead they carried into the bottom of the frame. The Rockies, however, should never have been in that position. Some poor bullpen management by interim manager Jamie Quirk (Clint Hurdle was serving a one-game suspension stemming from a spring training incident that involved starter Jeff Francis) saw Manual Corpas, LaTroy Hawkins, Brian Fuentes, and Ramon Ramirez all pitch just one inning each which led to having to resort to Kim with the game on the line in the 11th. That said, Quirk did have the good sense or good fortune to bring Kim in when he would face three righthanders to start the inning. As mentioned in our BP2K7 player comment on Kim lefties tagged him to the tune of .325/.414/.534 in 2006 and interestingly, even though he's probably better suited to a relief role (a ROOGY?) given his splits, as he did last night he seems to have control issues out the pen and last season the Rockies brass complained that he works too fast with runners on base. Once runners got on last night Quirk had fewer options and so did not bring in his last lefty reliever in Jeremy Affeldt (with Tom Martin on the DL).

    The game also saw a play that I don't think I've seen before. With one out in the top of the third and runners on first and second Snyder hit a fly ball to short right field where Hawpe promptly dropped the ball. The runner on second hesitated and Hawpe had time to relay the ball to Troy Tulowitzki who then threw on to Garrett Atkins to complete the force play. So the play was coded 965(1)/FO/F.1-2. Querying the Retrosheet logs I don't see a similar force play by a right fielder on a runner heading to third. Maybe it was unique.

    By the way, here is an excellent article by Joe Sheehan (not the Baseball Prospectus one) on using some of the data generated by the new Gameday implementation. This is similar, although Joe did more work, to an article titled "The Information Revolution" I wrote during the World Series last year.

    Monday, April 02, 2007

    Opening Day Hype

    In the spirit of BallBug there is a new site called BallHype that went live in the last day or so. Unlike BallBug it includes not only baseball but also other sports and allows users to vote and make comments on stories and thereby track those that have been "most hyped".

    Sunday, April 01, 2007

    Predictions Time

    The first pitch of the 2007 season is upon us and just in time the 2007 Baseball Prospectus staff predictions have been posted. You can find mine here. In addition to the regular predictions there are also a couple of fun questions one of which is Daisuke Matsuzaka's projected performance. In perusing the predictions posted by the rest of the staff it's clear that I'm on the lower end with my 17-12, 4.22 ERA, 179 K. Only Alex Carnevale had him with a higher ERA at 4.35 but with a better record and more strikeouts (by one).

    Update: The National League predictions have now been posted.