Thursday, August 21, 2008

One Hand Doesn't Know...

From tonight's SportsCenter: "Jhonny Peralta--if he played anywhere else, we'd be talking about him as an elite shortstop."

From tonight's Baseball Tonight: Jhonny Peralta has the number 2 Web Gem of the night, but his name wasn't displayed prior to the play, because it's not in the computer and someone is too lazy to input it. The screen simply showed "Cleveland Indians."

Actually, the more I think about this, the more sense it makes. On a Yankees Web Gem, he'd be "Jhonny Peralta" but on the Indians, he's just "Cleveland Indians SS", as if Baseball Tonight was a video game and Peralta opted out of the MLBPA.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fact-Checking FTW!


Daisuke Matsuzaka and Cliff Lee both won 15 of their first 17 decisions this season

2 pitchers haven't started 15-2 or better in the same season since 1978

Bob Stanley and Ron Guidry"

I don't know about you, but when I see two pitchers finish the year 19-2 and 18-2, I figure they probably each won at least 15 of their first 17 decisions.

What's that? Strike years don't count? Alrighty then.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Alexei Ramirez

In the midst of an otherwise good piece about how the White Sox have been overlooked this year, Patrick Sullivan drops this bombshell:

"Alexei Ramirez, now the team's full-time second baseman, is slugging .515 and shows no signs of slowing down. With Ian Kinsler out for the remainder of the season, no AL team will trot out a better player at the position." First off, I don't know where that slugging percentage came from; Ramirez has not reached .500 in that department at any point this season. Even at .484, though, Alexei is having a star-caliber season...or is he?

Ramirez ranks seventh in VORP among AL second basemen...out of 11 with at least 300 plate appearances. If you give him extra credit for his low PA total, he's having a better year than Jose Lopez. Still, this leaves him behind Howie Kendrick and Placido Polanco, and well behind Brian Roberts and Dustin Pedroia--not to mention Kinsler.

We're not done yet. Does anyone here think Alexei Ramirez is a better player than Robinson Cano? If so, perhaps you haven't familiarized yourself enough with the concept of regression to the mean. Does anyone think Ramirez is better than Mark Ellis? I suggest you read up on defensive metrics. While you're doing that, check out how Ramirez's defense rates: he's one of the worst in the AL at the position.

So who is Alexei Ramirez? The best second baseman in the league, or a comparative disadvantage for the White Sox? You decide.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Most Important Thing You Saw On Thursday?

Take it away, Buster Olney:

"You know, I'm gonna say the Houston Astros. We made fun of them, basically, when they traded for Randy Wolf, everyone saying, "What in the world are they doing, they're not in the race anymore, they got LaTroy Hawkins...". Well, guess what, they've won eight in a row, they've won 16 out of 20, they're now seven-and-a-half games out of the wild card race...I don't think they're going to win and get there, but you have to give them credit for making the progress they have."

So...a team that's ostensibly out of the race trades for a veteran starting pitcher, goes on an extremely unlikely tear, and still has almost no chance at a playoff berth. According to Buster Olney--who writes off the Astros' playoff chances IN THE MIDDLE of complimenting them--this is a great strategy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fooled By Randomness

Who's the best team in the AL? If you said the Angels, you're wrong, though you're in the company of a fairly smart community.

To compare the Angels with the Red Sox and Rays, I present ten statistical categories, along with where each team ranks (among the three) in that category:

LAA Bos Tam
W-L 1st 3rd 2nd
Third-order W-L 3rd 1st 2nd
OBP 3rd 1st 2nd
SLG% 3rd 1st 2nd
OPS allowed 3rd 1st 2nd
Run differential 3rd 1st 2nd
ERA 3rd 2nd 1st
xFIP 3rd 2nd 1st
Def. Efficiency 3rd 2nd 1st
Zone Rating 3rd 2nd 1st

I think this pretty much speaks for itself.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Congratulations to the Angels

...for finally passing the A's in the standings.

I could whine about the way this division has played out, but I expect plenty of betting opportunities to arise next year as a result, so what's the problem?

Shameless Brag Post

It's always good to lock one of these up.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Disgusting Dominance

Mariano Rivera recently passed 1000 career innings. It's a meaningless milestone, but now he qualifies for this list, which basically speaks for itself.

Am I the only one who remembers a time, just a couple of short years ago, when we weren't sure Rivera would be a Hall-of-Famer? One-inning reliever or no, the gap between him and the rest of the list is just sick.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

How Not To Win A Pennant Race

Would you trade for Ken Griffey, Jr. even though he's not an upgrade for your team at any position? It could be worthwhile: he'd provide good depth, regular rest for your OF/DH types, and a very good pinch-hitting option for the late innings.

How about trading for him and starting him every day in center field, weakening both your hitting and your defense? That's where I draw the line.

I pick on Kenny Williams a lot, maybe more than he deserves. His trade for Carlos Quentin is the biggest reason the Sox are still in the race, and John Danks has been a key part of this year's surprise team as well. However, moves like the Griffey trade threaten to undo all his good work.

Tonight Griffey is starting in center field, even though the Sox are facing a lefty. Nick Swisher--switch-hitter, a better bat than Griffey and a better fielder--is riding the pine so the Sox can show off their shiny new acquisition. So far, Griffey has repaid the Sox with two strikeouts in his two at-bats, plus he's misplayed two singles to center field into a double and triple--all in four-and-a-half innings.

Still, it's clear that the trade satisfied Chicago's most important need: Williams's man-crush on Griffey. I imagine Williams is the type of guy who goes to his high school reunion to bang an ex-cheerleader, even though she's put on a hundred pounds and has the personality of toothpaste. After all, she was so hot ten years ago.

To the Sox's credit, Griffey is more famous than Swisher AND higher-paid, two traits that are much more desirable in an everyday center fielder than the abilities to hit and field.

Friday, August 01, 2008

How Not To Analyze Contenders' Schedules

Like this.

Dividing teams into tiers is one way of going about this; it's also the wrong way. We're talking about a system that lumps the Red Sox and Twins into one category! I'm rooting hard for the Rays down the stretch; if their schedule included 40 (out of 55) games against the "playoff-bound" Twins, I'd be ecstatic about Tampa's chances.

In my opinion, the Twins do not have the easiest remaining schedule in the AL Central. The Tigers do, because instead of having to face Detroit--as the Twins do--they play three games against Minnesota. That couldn't possibly suggest any flaw in the methodology, could it?

If you're curious, here are my estimates for each team's strength of schedule from here on out. The numbers have been adjusted for home/away games.

ChW .502
Det .486
Min .491