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September 12, 2002

Analyze This

What's Up With the Chief?

Tipping Freddy Garcia

The most rewarding thing about getting into sabermetrics is having more tools on the workbench. To me, it's what Prospectus is all about: furthering our understanding of baseball, the same as SABR, or Retrosheet, or in a weird way, the bartender who insists on telling me stories of how Bob Gibson would pitch to the score. I'm probably the least stat-heady member of the authors, prone to taking shortcuts to rough some stats out and see if there's something interesting there instead of making sure I've included sacrifice bunts in my runner advancement data. But I love the investigation.

There's been a rumor that Freddy Garcia, who last year appeared to be an ascending ace, has been tipping his pitches, and that's why opposing teams have been teeing off on him. I regard stories like this with a lot of skepticism: most pitching coaches watch a lot of video and wouldn't be oblivious to this sort of thing, so the possibility a pitcher's struggling and, say, Bryan Price didn't think of it is slim. What happens in a local media cycle is this:

  • feature writers ask coaches, player about slump
  • feature writer tosses possibility out, writes column about it
  • slump ends, possibility is attributed to have been true and corrected, otherwise, repeat

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September 11, 2002

Analyze This

Best Hitter Outside Cooperstown

Mailbag

BEST HITTER OUTSIDE COOPERSTOWN

Just the mention of Keith Hernandez should have clued you into questions like these you are bound to receive--Hernandez #7 and no mention of Don Mattingly? Especially when considering peak value--he certainly had a higher peak than Hernandez.

Mattingly, in fewer AB, had more doubles, HRs, RBI, TB, along with a higher BA and SLG.

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August 1, 2002

Analyze This

Feeling Bitter

No one likes to be lied to.

I had a girlfriend once who liked to play me off against other suitors--her ex-boyfriend, who was richer; guys she was friends with who were more studly--and who would tell large, relationship-encompassing lies without blinking for the most petty of reasons, like picking a particular movie. That relationship didn't turn out so well, which is for the better since it meant I ended up marrying an honest woman who's also lovely and talented. Lies and distrust are poison.

I'm reminded of this almost every day as a baseball fan. Why, just yesterday:

  • The Expos are going to be contracted next year.
  • The Expos are making trades, or not making trades, because they're looking out for next year's team.

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July 5, 2002

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Sticky Eyes

The greatest thing I've found this year, though, is that in attending games you can see things you don't see on television.

This year, after many years of living off the largesse of my friends and family, and begging, borrowing, and scalping tickets where I could get them, I bought season tickets. I've learned a lot by upping my game attendance from 20 to more than 40 (and that's not including minor-league games).

For starters, there's a huge gap between the unified seamheads--the people who may believe in clutch hitting or might know their park effects cold--and the random fan who cheers for the dot/train/boat races and says things like "I love the music! The music is the best part of the game." Recognize each other through the rolled eyeballs during the warmed-over bloopers segment (if it wasn't digital, folks, they'd wear the tape through).

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June 28, 2002

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Starting Over

I may be the only person in America cheering for a long, protracted labor battle that brings baseball to its knees.

I may be the only person in America cheering for a long, protracted labor battle that brings baseball to its knees. I think the best thing that could happen to baseball would be for it to face death, to look into the void and see the monster that the industry has become. There's no chance the owners are going to come to their senses and suddenly become honest, or open, or look towards meaningful long-term solutions that would benefit everyone.

Baseball is fat, hugely fat. Since the last strike, non-payroll expenses have risen at a higher rate than salaries have. Owners regularly extort stadiums out of their hosts. Many franchises are run by inept collections of morons who wouldn't be able to make a living standing on a street corner grinding an organ, with a uniformed monkey collecting change.

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April 2, 2002

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Light Breaks Through

Overnight, the Royals have gone from a franchise that was one transaction away from official joke status to a team that is slowly, haltingly--but finally--headed in the right direction.

Everything has changed. Pessimism has turned to optimism. Dread has been replaced by hope. Overnight, the Royals have gone from a franchise that was one transaction away from official joke status to a team that is slowly, haltingly--but finally--headed in the right direction.

Mike Sweeney is not, by himself, going to save this franchise. Locking him up for five more years no more guarantees a turnaround than having him on the team the past five years prevented the Royals from perennial last-place finishes. But for the first time in years, the Royals have a foundation. They have a face. They can point to Mike Sweeney and say, "our best player has bought into our future." They did it for far less than anyone thought. Instead of the $12-$15 million a season that everyone figured it would take to land Sweeney, the Royals got his John Hancock for five years, $55 million, or what we Wichitans like to call "Darren Dreifort money."

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