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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Denver Bears - New York Yankees Reunion

All baseball fans in the Denver area and beyond will want to check out the Denver Bears - New York Yankees Reunion being held May 3 at the Denver Athletic Club in downtown Denver sponsored by the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research.

Former Bears/Yankees who will be on hand include Don Larsen, Ryne Duren, Herb Plews, Johnny Blanchard, Ralph Terry and Woodie Held.

The event will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will kick off at 10 a.m. with a player panel moderated by Denver radio host Irv Brown. The panel will be followed by a gourmet lunch with the players and after lunch the players will be available to sign autographs and continue the discussion. Participants will also have an opportunity to buy discounted tickets to that night's 6:05 p.m. game with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

You can reserve your spot at the event online ($75 for SABR members and $85 for non-members) or download and print the registration form from RM SABR's web site.

Here are a few notes provided by RM SABR on those who will be in attendance:

Woodie Held – Infielder – 14-year major league career. He played with the New York Yankees in 1954 and 1957. Before the era of home run hitting shortstops Woodie hit 20 home runs in his 1957 rookie year. He averaged 21 homers per year from 1959 – 1964.

In addition to his hitting skills, Woodie was a dominating defensive infielder with the Indians, averaging 136 games per season, between 1959 and 1962.

Don Larsen – Pitcher – 14-year major league career. He compiled an 81-91 major league pitching record with a 3.78 ERA and was a Yankee from 1955 to 1959. Larsen had a 9-1 record with the Denver Bears in 1955.

He is best known for pitching the only perfect game in World Series history in Game Five of the 1956 series. Using a no-windup delivery, Larsen used only 97 pitches to dispatch the mighty Brooklyn Dodgers in one of the most famous games in baseball history.In 1956 and 1957 Larsen won a total of 21 games while losing only 9 and finished his career with a 4-2 record in World Series play.

While pitching for the San Francisco Giants in the 1962 World Series, he defeated his former Yankee teammates on October 8 – which ironically was the sixth anniversary of his perfect game.

Ryne Duren – Pitcher – 10-year major league career. He pitched for the New York Yankees from 1958 to 1961. He pitched first no hitter in Denver Bears history.

As the most feared relief pitcher in baseball in the late 1950s, Duren led AL in saves – 20 in 44 appearances – in his first full rookie year in 1958. He was the hero of Game Six of the 1958 World Series, stopping a rally by the World Champion Milwaukee Braves in the late innings.As a bullpen specialist in 1959 he went 36 consecutive innings without allowing a run. From 1958 through 1959 he fanned 183 AL batters in 151 innings.

Pitching for the Los Angeles Angels in 1961, Duren set a major league record by striking out seven consecutive batters on June 7.

Johnny Blanchard – Catcher/outfielder – 8-year major league career. Johnny was on the New York Yankees roster in 1955 and 1959-1965.

While sharing catching duties with All-Stars Yogi Berra and Elston Howard, Johnny took full advantage of his opportunities. Between 1961 and 1963 he hit 50 home runs in only 707 at bats.In 1961 only one major league catcher (Yogi Berra, 22) hit more home runs than Johnny’s 21. Berra came to the plate 395 times while Johnny had 243 at bats.

At one time Blanchard held the record for most World Series pinch-hitting appearances (9) and pinch hits (3).

Ralph Terry – Pitcher – 12-year major league career. Ralph pitched for the Yankees 1956-1957 and 1959-1964.

Ralph was a workhorse for New York between 1960 and 1963, winning 66 games and logging nearly 921 innings.He led the American League in 1962 in wins (23), games started (39), and innings pitched (298). In 1963 he started the most games in the AL (37) and tied for most complete games (18).Ralph finished his career with 107 wins and a lifetime ERA of 3.62.

In the 1960 World Series, Ralph gave up the home run to Bill Mazeroski that gave the Pittsburgh Pirates the championship. In the 1962 World Series he led the Yankees to the title by beating the Giants twice (including a Game Seven, four-hit shutout) and posting a 1.80 ERA.

Herb Plews – Infielder – 4-year major league career with the Washington Senators and Boston Red Sox.

A sure-handed defensive player, Plews tied an existing Major League record when he participated in five double plays while manning second base for the Senators on September 26, 1958. Plews, who would now be labeled a super-utility infielder, hit well in his first two major league seasons, averaging .270, while playing second, third and shortstop.

Norm Siebern – Outfield - Had a twelve-year major league career with six teams. He played with the Yankees in 1956, 1958 and 1959. In his major league career, Norm hit .272 with 132 home runs. He was a three-time All Star and also won a Gold Glove.

Norm signed with the New York Yankees in 1951, and made it to the majors before he was 23 years old. In 1956, Norm suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss much of the season. The next year, he starred in the minor leagues at Denver and was chosen by the Sporting News as their Minor League Player of the Year. He was a regular in the majors from 1958 to 1966. In his first full season with the Yankees, in 1958, he hit .300 with a .388 on-base percentage.

After the 1959 season, Norm was traded to the Kansas City Athletics along with Hank Bauer, Don Larsen, and Marv Throneberry in the trade that brought Roger Maris to the Yankees. Norm spent four seasons with the A’s, hitting a peak in 1962 with numbers of .308/.412/.495 and 117 RBI.

After the 1963 season, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Jim Gentile. In 1964, his average dipped to .245, but he had 106 walks and thus still was able to score 92 runs. In 1966, he was on the California Angels, and although he hit .247, he drew enough walks that he was close to leading the team in OBP. He finished out his career in 1967 and 1968 with the San Francisco Giants and the Boston Red Sox.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Infinite Pitcher Abuse Points

I'm sure many of you have seen this article related to Japanese high schoolbaseball but several folks sent it my way today and I hadn't...

School team hit for 66 runs in two innings

I especially like this quote:

The hapless hurler had already sent down over 250 pitches, allowing 26 runs in the first inning and 40 in the second before Kawamoto asked for mercy.

"At that pace the pitcher would have thrown around 500 pitches in four innings," Kawamoto's coach was quoted as saying. "There was a danger he could get injured."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Heading to Steel Town

Today my column on Baseball Prospectus did not feature any new analysis or the usually endless tables overflowing with numbers and headed with three-letter acronyms. No, today marked the 100th and (at least for now) final Schrodinger's Bat column, marked with the title "Opus 100".

The column does not require a subscription and so you can read it for yourself but in the final section I briefly discuss the reason that this centennial edition is the last in the series.

To borrow from that bit...I'm leaving BP to join the front office of the Pittsburgh Pirates to become their Director of Baseball Systems Development. In that capacity I'll be assisting the excellent staff--including Kyle Stark, Bryan Minniti, Greg Smith, and Joe Delli Carri, under the direction of General Manager Neal Huntington--in building systems to support and inform the decision-making process of the baseball operations staff. All of those individuals mentioned, and many others, have made me feel more than welcome, and I'm thrilled to start the process of integrating the array of quantitative and qualitative information in a way that makes both even more instructive.

While I'm very excited at the new challenges and opportunities, I'm also a little sad as I say goodbye to Compassion International, where I've worked as a software architect for the last three years. Beyond the successes of the team in building a service oriented infrastructure that I've been blessed to be a part of, working at Compassion has truly been a wonderful experience. The dedication, intelligence, and vision of the organization and its employees to release children from poverty in Jesus' name is truly inspiring. It really is a great place to work and hey, I hear they might be looking for someone :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Get Your SFR Data!

So I realized that I hadn't mentioned that in my column last week (no subscription required) I extended SFR for infielders to include 1986-1987 and 2000-2002. So now I have results for infielders for:


All told I've posted several spreadsheets on BP, the links to which follow:

  • All Major League Infielders in the time frame above

  • All Major League Outfielders 2003-2007. Note that I haven't yet modified the algorithm for outfielders to extend beyond the full datasets available for 2003-2007.

  • All Major League Infielders 2005-2007 and Minor Leaguers 2007 (note that the numbers in this spreadsheet are not based on the latest version of the algorithm that includes pitcher handedness in the context. That said, last week I talked about that and it turns out that adding it didn't really improve the accurracy very much).

  • All Minor League Outfielders 2005-2007

  • Wednesday, April 09, 2008

    Santana and the Changeup

    After a little exchange Ken Davidoff at Newsday wrote a little about Johan Santana and his reliance on his changeup in his column on April 6th. The relevant section reads like this:

    According to Fox, charted 11 of Santana's outings last year, including his relief effort in the All-Star Game. Of 1,033 pitches, Santana threw 61 percent fastballs, 27 percent changeups and 12 percent sliders, which comes close to Bill James' full-season tally (58-29-11). Not surprisingly, Santana used the changeup far more against righty hitters (he threw it 33 percent of the time) than lefties (7 percent).

    Just as Morris suggested, Santana does love using the pitch for strikeouts. Of 269 situations that Fox charted in which Santana had a hitter at 0-and-2, 1-and-2 or 2-and-2, he threw the changeup 123 times. Of the 86 strikeouts Fox witnessed, the changeup produced 53 of them.

    Interestingly, of the 11 home runs Santana surrendered on non-full, two-strike counts on Fox's watch, just two came on the changeup, with eight from fastballs and one off a slider.

    It turns out that Mike Fast did a nice analysis of Santana back in January and as you would imagine found essentially the same thing albeit in much more detail. From a start by start basis the mix of Santana pitches in 10 of his starts and his All-Star appearance last season can be seen below.

    From this it is not apparent that he increasingly used his changeup as the season wore on and in fact it shows a trend where he used his fastball a bit more as the season progressed.

    Thursday, April 03, 2008

    Filling in the Gaps

    This week on Baseball Prospectus I make a few changes to the algorithm for Simple Fielding Runs in order to run it on the Retrosheet data set encompassing 1957 through 1983 (there are issues with 1984-1987, especially 1984 and 1985 where the identification of the fielder is more frequently absent). One of those changes involves the addition of pitcher handedness as a variable and the other, like the scientists at Jurassic Park who filled in the missing dinosaur genetic code with that of a frog, uses probabalities to estimate the missing pieces.

    Overall, the SFR system is analagous to the work that Sean Smith has been doing on TotalZone and our results are fairly similar. For example in SFR Brooks Robinson (shown right) comes out at +293 runs during his career (easily the career leader) while TotalZone has him at +269. Likewise Mark Belanger SFR is +198 while TotalZone is +232 runs. There are certainly places where it differs, however, as SFR doesn't rate Frank White or Keith Hernandez nearly as highly as TotalZone seems to. In the column I also show detailed data for Lou Whitaker, Pete Rose, Mark Belanger, Brooks Robinson, Ozzie Smith, and Bill Mazeroski.

    One of the iron gloves discussed a little in the piece is Dick Allen, who managed to show up in the bottom 10 in our rate statistic at both third and first base. His career line is shown below.

    Dick Allen
    Year Pos Balls Runners Diff SFR Rate
    1964 Third 575 137 -23 -17.6 0.83
    1965 Third 515 123 -34 -26.3 0.72
    Short 1 1 0 -0.3 0.24
    1966 Third 329 86 -23 -17.8 0.73
    1967 Third 437 122 -35 -26.9 0.71
    1968 Third 37 17 -9 -6.7 0.48
    1969 First 234 52 -19 -16.6 0.64
    1970 First 177 26 -2 -2.5 0.91
    Third 121 38 -12 -8.9 0.70
    1971 First 56 6 1 1.0 1.22
    Third 230 64 -16 -12.7 0.74
    1972 First 261 28 6 4.6 1.21
    Third 7 3 -2 -1.3 0.47
    1973 First 132 18 -2 -1.5 0.89
    Second 6 1 0 0.1 1.11
    1974 First 212 29 -4 -2.8 0.87
    Second 1 1 -1 -0.5 0.27
    1975 First 227 40 -13 -10.5 0.66
    1976 First 158 25 -6 -4.4 0.78
    1977 First 93 13 1 0.9 1.09

    3809 830 -192 -151

    Enjoy. And no, I don't yet have a spreadsheet with the full results but expect to do so in the near future.

    An 8-Letter Word for the Ultimate Sport


    I particularly love this part:

    For you who wasted the winter by not studying such stuff, the answers are below. The rest of you probably are SABRmetricians. Tim Kurkjian of ESPN (do you know that more than 10 American children have been named Espn?) recalls a convention of the Society for American Baseball Research:

    "'Who from SABR might know where I can find the all-time list of pinch-hit, extra-inning grand slams?' I asked the very first man I saw at the convention. The man smiled and -- I am not making this up -- pulled the list from his breast pocket. 'I have it right here,' he said."