Tag: Baseball Statistics

When in Doubt, Grab a Book!

I know this article is a little different and contradicts bloggers in this internet age, but bear with me!

This past weekend I was reading the latest Sports Illustrated Issue—the one with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and their newest pick-up LeBron James.

I will admit it that I have always been a sucker for a good sports read. Whether it be, SI, ESPN The Magazine, or since I discovered this whole new world we call the business of baseball, books focused of the economics of the game.

In SI’s newest article, a two-page spread featuring Lady Gaga in some sort of bubble bikini or something is on the left, while the right side is full-page writeup, that more or less states a fact that maybe lost on all of us in this generation of  up to the millisecond information.

One worry of the internet is how it could destroy the magazine, or book industry, turning a genuine form of print into a dinosaur.  Contrary to popular belief, “readership is increasing, and adults between 18 and 34 are among the most dedicated readers.”

While everything is done online these days, so is the ordering of subscriptions,  books etc…

Seemingly, the internet age, once thought to eliminate print, is actually helping its growth.

Online searching, increases viewership, thus driving subscribers to new sites.

Simple right…

So, while we are on the topic of subscriptions, reading, and online purchases, I thought I would introduce a book, that some may have read, debated or  have discussed for years, “The Numbers Game” by Alan Schwarz—foreword by Peter Gammons of ESPN.

Anyone interested in the history of statistics for the game of baseball, this is the book for you.

Baseball is a sport so entrenched by numbers that the mention of .406, *61, 190, .367, 755, 56, or even *73, brings along a story or a tall tale within seconds of its mention.

Yet, where did the obsession come from?

Did it gain momentum with Bill James and his abstracts?

Was it brought to light by Allan Roth? Or has it been a fixture in our minds since Henry Chadwick gave it a life of its own?

Either way, it is a, I wont’ say gut wrenching thriller! Instead ,a unique adventure for anyone that loves baseball and the numbers that go with it.

If anyone out there has read it, let me know what you think, I would love to hear your thoughts.

This article can also be found on The GM’s Perspective

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Scott Kazmir’s Struggles Worsen

It appears that Scott Kazmir has reached a crossroads in the 2010 season.

I have been following Kazmir’s season since spring training , discussing the ups and downs , and documenting his progression .  Unfortunately, this time around all the positives have turned into disappointment for, I’m sure, management, the fans, and undoubtedly, himself.

After four starts in mid-June, he went 4-0 with a 2.34 ERA.  All signs pointed to a return to the Kazmir of old.

Since his June 24 start against the Los Angeles Dodgers, those numbers have taken an ugly nosedive.

In his four starts since then, Kazmir has gone 0-4, and he has given up 30 runs in less than 20 innings, more specifically, an ERA of 13.73.

More disturbing was Kazmir’s last start on July 10, against the light-hitting Oakland Athletics.

Kazmir’s line: 5 innings pitched, 11 hits, 13 runs, 13 earned runs, 3 HR, 3 BB, 2 SO

If that does not destroy one’s confidence, I just read in an article on the Los Angeles Times website that 13 earned runs is the most ever given up by a starters in the club’s history.  The last starting pitcher to give up 13 was Jason Marquis against the Chicago White Sox on June 21, 2006, as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Midway through 2010 his fastball is a averaging a touch over 90 mph (90.5), yet there is still a concern at how much he is throwing it.

His fastball is being thrown more than 70 percent of the time, while his slider, thrown sparingly (12.7 percent), has also seen a reduction in velocity, down four mph since 2006.

Whether it is the velocity, the pitch type, or a combination of both, it is now a legitimate possibly that Kazmir could lose not only his spot in the rotation, but also his roster spot with the Angels.

With the All-Star Game on the horizon, Kazmir and the second place Angels have some time to regroup, relax, and possibly come up with a contingency plan.

Could the bullpen be a solution, maybe a lefty specialist in the late innings?

It is an idea, but upon inspection, lefty-specialist may not be in the cards.  Against lefties this year, Kazmir has only three strikeouts, and has given up 23 hits in 17 innings. To make matters worse, a .319 average against does not help his cause.

It will be interesting to see what does happen after the All-Star break, but after this recent string of appearances, I am unsure of how many more times the Angels can afford to let Kazmir hit the field until a suitable solution can be found.

This article can also be found on The GM’s Perspective

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Life Is Not Grand-erson: First Half Woes Continue

The biggest signing of the 2009 Winter Meetings was of course a deal that involved the New York Yankees.

A three-way trade between the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, and the Arizona Diamondbacks was the most intriguing, a deal that included the following players;

  • CF Curtis Granderson to the New York Yankees
  • SP Edwin Jackson and SP Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks
  • SP Max Scherzer, RP Phil Coke, CF Austin Jackson, and RP Daniel Schlereth to the Detroit Tigers

The main components of that deal were Granderson, who was nothing short of a star center fielder of the Detroit Tigers, and Austin Jackson, the prized prospect of the New York Yankees.

Nearing the midway point of the 2010 season, the Detroit Tigers have snuck one past the Yanks, so to speak.

Jackson is enjoying a decent rookie season, while only costing the Tigers a base salary of $400,000.  He leads the club in stolen bases (13), ranking fourth in batting average (.306), and coming fifth in OBP (.353).

Granderson, on the other hand, is struggling on the field and costing the Yankees a pretty penny in the bank account—he is owed $5.5 million next year, $8.25 million in 2011 and $10 million in 2012, and his contract includes a $13 million club option for 2013 with a $2 million buyout , (this courtesy of ESPN.com ).

After 56 games, Granderson is hitting .232, with a .309 OBP, while slugging an anemic .412. His OPS of .721 ranks him 46 out of 85 AL outfielders.

More specifically, that ranks him between Juan Rivera of the Los Angeles Angels and Scott Podsednik of the Kansas City Royals.

Granderson has always been known as one of the good guys in the game as stated by Jim Leyland, Granderson’s former manager.

“I think, in my opinion, Curtis Granderson is one of the things that’s all good about baseball in today’s baseball world. He is one heck of a player. He has a great face. He’s very bright. He’s very articulate. He’s everything that’s good about baseball,” Leyland said. “He’s the total package.”

Unfortunately, there is a disturbing trend in Granderson’s ability over the past two seasons that might cost him more than a contract, but playing time in the “BIGS”.

His ability to hit left-handed pitching is becoming a serious problem.

In ’07, he batted .160 against lefties.  In ’08 there was some significant improvement batting .259.  That appeared to be an aberration, as ’09 saw  that number drop back down .183, and presently sees him hovering at .197.

The 2007 and 2008 seasons are where Granderson really started to gain credibility throughout the league.

Playing tremendous and consistent defense is natural for an athlete who has a career .993 fielding percentage committing only 14 errors in almost 1900 total chances.

As mentioned, in ’07 and ’08, Granderson average 22 plus homers a year with 70 RBI, he was on base nearly 37% of the time and had a single season career high slugging percentage in ’07 of .552.

With all this information, you would think his numbers would get better. However, at this point in his career, those numbers have taking a drastic nosedive.

A career .279 hitter prior to 2009, Granderson saw his average drop to .249, although he hit career highs in homers (30) and RBI (71).

The downturn in average has continued this year.

When scouring FanGraphs , two pieces of information stuck out to me that could explain Granderson’s struggles of late.

First, his “O-Swing Percentage” (percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside of the strike zone) is at a career high—23.6 percent.  Meaning, patience at the plate is wearing thin, more or less based on the struggles and pressure placed upon him by the fans and the media.

Second, Granderson’s fly ball percentage has been at the highest they have ever been—49.3 percent in ’09 and 45 percent in ’10, five percent higher than in ’08.

Whether or not Granderson has become homer happy, or that his mechanics need a tweak, we may not know.  The numbers do tell us that something is wrong in his swing or pitch selection is possibly the major factor.

One thing is for sure, playing in New York is a lot different from playing in Detroit.  Every little thing is scrutinized—every out dissected, every boo heard just that much more.

Being a part of a major trade gives Granderson some leeway, as more time will be given to work through this funk. But, once the second half rolls around and the numbers are not moving in the right direction, knowing the Yankees and their history, a change could happen sooner than later.

This article can also be found on The GM’s Perspective

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Daniel Nava: Indy MVP And GBL Star Makes Boston Red Sox History

The Golden Baseball League seems to have this habit of generating headlines in a sport dominated by A-Rod, Derek Jeter, and the New York Yankees.

On Saturday afternoon, during the Fox Saturday Game of the Week, the Boston Red Sox were playing host to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Nothing out of the ordinary, except that the Phillies are in dangerous team slump where hitting and pitching have seemingly affected everyone.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, after being counted out of the playoff race through the first couple of months of the 2010 season, are lurking in the weeds of the American League East.

David Ortiz can be a fan favorite depending on the mood of the fans, Dice-K is hit or miss, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are holding the staff together, the heart and soul, Dustin

Pedroia is having a down year, compared to his standards, and speedy center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury appears to be out for an undetermined amount of time with a recurring rib injury.

What we have here looks like the perfect scenario for the new underdogs of the division, and when your stud center fielder goes down, call-up someone from the minors.

In this case, Daniel Nava’s journey to history is not as ordinary as one’s struggle through minors. 

Nava turned disappointment into MVP numbers to become one of the best prospects that no one has heard of.

Nava’s 2006 senior season at Santa Clara University, was what you can call outstanding: a .395 average, 37 RBI, .476 OBP and .530 SLG.  Unfortunately for him, that did not get him drafted, setting of a chain of events, a string of ups and downs, culminating in taking the first pitch he saw in the Majors and belting a grand slam.

Unfortunately, I only caught the last two innings of the game but was thrilled too see his family in stands recording every moment.

Once leaving Santa Clara, Nava tried his hand at independent league ball, specifically the Chico Outlaws of the independent Golden Baseball League.

Nava, who was recently interviewed by Mike Andrews of SoxProspects.com , said he attempted to play for the Chico Outlaws not because they were close to home, but because they were the only ones who had contacted him.


Despite not playing in 2006, in part to being cut by the Chico squad, Nava made the team in ’07 and put together one of the best seasons in GBL history. In 72 games, Nava batted .371, with 12 home runs, 59 RBI, had an OBP of over .470, and slugged nearly.630.  Over one-third of his 95 hits went for extra bases.

The baseball world finally began to take notice of this former Bronco.



Nava became the first GBL rookie to win MVP honors and Baseball America ranked him as the No. 1 Indy prospect in America.

Two years in the Red Sox organization has proved all the naysayers wrong.


A combined .345 batting average at three different classes prior to ’10 meant a promotion to the big club was only a matter of time, and, in typical Nava fashion, he let his play and ability speak for itself.

This article can also be found on The GM’s Perspective

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Pete Rose: Five Reasons We Shouldn’t Care About His Bats

Surprise! Pete Rose is back in the news.

Apparently, there is a collector who has x-rayed one of Rose’s old bats. He has discovered that the bat has something in it that may be cork or a similar substance. He even has some evidence that the bat was used in a game.

This is not really news, as a 2001 Vanity Fair article made the same allegations.

Here is why we should not care.

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MLB Draft: If You Pitch, They Will Come

With the Washington Nationals’ publicity machine on overdrive, baseball in D.C. could be at an all-time high.

Bryce Harper, as you all know by now, is christened as the next, next, next big thing.

Stephen Strasburg and his 14 strikeout debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates lived up to everything it was meant to be and more!

Obviously, two No. 1 picks will get the glory, we all know that, but what about the guys getting drafted in the 20th, 30th, and 40th rounds.

Myself, being from Canada and going to school in Nebraska from 1997-2001, I thought baseball in Canada had reached its pinnacle during those years. Yet in 2010, baseball in Canada is still growing, not yet reaching its ceiling.

There is the stigma that if you do not go to a big time Division I NCAA school, no one— let alone Major League scouts—would find you.

Luck for the baseball world, “bird dogs,” scouts, and anyone affiliated with MLB, NCAA, NAIA, or independent baseball will locate skill when necessary.

In 2010, technology is at its peak (for now).  We have up-to-the-second updates, news is at our fingertips, and Twitter and Facebook is used by nearly everyone located on planet Earth.

What does all this mean?

A Pensacola Pelican, a member of the Indy American Association, with 4.1 innings under his belt was taken by the Los Angeles Angels, with pick number 624.

To quote one of the all-time baseball movies starring baseball enthusiast and indy team owner, Kevin Costner, “If you build it, they will come.”

In this instance, “If you pitch, they will come,” and find you!

Kevin Johnson, has just completed his senior season with NCAA Division II University of West Florida—and Kevin Johnson is a good pitcher!  How good?

In his four years of high school, he compiled a 34-2 record with a career ERA of 0.77 and a single season record of 0.34!

All-Conference selections during his freshman and sophomore seasons at Alabama Southern Community College signified a time for better competition.  Follow that up with a 13-6 record, nearly 200 innings pitched, a 4.15 ERA, and compiling 148 strikeouts with West Florida.

Obviously, every player hopes to get drafted. In actuality, it’s a numbers game.

Have you caught a scout’s attention? Are your numbers so mind-blowing, that you can’t help but get drafted?

So many imperatives play a factor in this process that when you hear your name called it is relief, it is excitement, it is years and years of work that have paid off, leaving you where you started; with another challenge!

For Kevin Johnson, is MLB glory in his future? We may not know for five or 10 years.

However, scouts’ projections are not always right.

A 62nd-round pick might turn out to be the most prolific hitting catcher in our or any generation—Mike Piazza.  Maybe you can be a Craig Breslow, a 26th-round pick that has now appeared in 180 games and pieced together a career ERA under 2.80.

According to Johnson, he will continue to impress with what got him the attention of the Angels and probably many others.

“It’s going to be a different atmosphere because it’s going to be out in Arizona,” Johnson said. “I’ve never been to Arizona before, so I’ll have to adjust to it. It’s going to be a fun experience. As long as I throw strikes and let the defense work, I think I can move up in the organization.”

This article can also be found on The GM’s Perspective.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

New York Mets Pitchers Finding Success by Keeping the Ball in the Yard

If chicks did the long ball, there’s not going to be a whole lot of love if your team is squaring off against the Mets.

For all of the questions about Jerry Manuel’s rotation coming into the season, it has been an unlikely group of pitchers who have helped New York remain in contention in a highly competitive NL East.

Every team has their faults in the division, and with no one team running away with things one-third of the way through the year, it is as wide open as it has ever been.

We know the story about the Mets struggles and that is why their pitching has surprised so many people over the past week or so.

John Maine went on the 15-day DL with rotator cuff tendinitis in his right arm a week ago, Jonathon Niese will make a rehanb start today after straining his left hamstring a couple days ago, and Sean Green and Kelvim Escobar—although bit parts—are out indefinitely. Add to that dilemma the head case that is Olly Perez, and you can see why there were serious problems throughout the starting rotation.

But then a strange thing happened. The Mets started keeping the ball in the yard and the wins began piling up.

Sure, it helps when you’re playing half of your games in a park that admittedly plays big, but that shouldn’t take anything away from what the Mets are accomplishing with a makeshift pitching staff.

It has been well documented that the Mets had not given up a run in 35.2 innings until the walk off home run to Corey Hart. But similarly impressive and not so widely praised has been the ability to limit the home run completely.

Starting on May 19, the Mets had not allowed a home run at all in eight consecutive games, spanning contests with the Nationals, Yankees, and Phillies. Putting it into perspective, if the Mets had shut out the Brewers last night, that stretch of home run-less games would have been tied for the fourth most in franchise history.

As it stands, the run of eight games ranks 11th all-time for the Mets.

Adding more context to the accomplishments of New York’s pitching, there have only been five instances in the last decade when a team has not allowed a home run in nine consecutive games. That is truly impressive.

R.A. Dickey has not allowed a home run in his two outings and neither has Hisanori Takahashi—two men who didn’t really figure to feature in New York’s plans eight weeks ago. Mike Pelfrey has maybe been the best of all, allowing just three long balls in 63.2 innings.

While the Mets have been significantly worse on their travels this year, it is worth pointing out that they have recorded six straight games at home without surrendering a home run. Florida comes to Citi Field on June 4 for three games and the weak-hitting Padres complete the six-game homestand between June 8 and 10.

It’s asking a lot for the Mets to keep the ball in the yard for all of these games, too, but considering how well they have been playing at home it is certainly possible.

No team has gone more than 10 consecutive home games without allowing a home run since 1997, so it would be an impressive feat.

All of this, however, is set against a backdrop of success. If the Mets do not allow a home run in each of their next four games, for example, but lose all four, then the impressive statistical anomaly counts for very little.

Winning is the name of the game, and I can guarantee the Mets would rather give up three home runs in a game and win than keep the ball in the park for nine innings and lose.

Just as vital to the team’s success is scratching out a victory on the road. That challenge resumes again today in the second game of a three-game set in Milwaukee.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Swing and a Miss: Examining David Wright’s Strikeout Troubles

Heading into this weekend’s Subway series at home to the Yankees, David Wright will be looking to swing the type of bat that produced four RBI against Washington on Thursday, rather than the one that has seen 55 strikeouts already this year.

I’ve heard a lot of people saying: “Apart from the strikeouts, he’s having a pretty good year.”

And in some respects he is; his power numbers are certainly heading in the right direction, and his patience at the plate, especially in April, was rewarded handsomely with a high number of walks which almost averaged one a game.

But that is where the praise has to stop for now.

After 21 walks in 23 games to start the season, Wright has just seven walks in his last 18 games. He’s batting just .250 in April and he racked up a 15-game streak of at least one strikeout. Most importantly, he’s only making contact with just 82 percent of the pitches in the zone that he swings at.

So not only is he swinging at one-in-four balls, when he does swing at something in the zone, he is failing to put it in play more than ever before.

That is what I wanted to focus on here, because there is no doubt that Wright—for whatever reason—is swinging through an alarming number of pitches. Just last week he was on course to set an all-time baseball record, and only yesterday did Mark Reynolds and Justin Upton move above him in the inglorious strikeout category.

Here are some statistics that I put together.

• On 43 of the 55 occasions, Wright has struck out swinging.

• Four times he has struck out with the bases loaded, including twice with less than two outs.

• 40 percent of the time Wright has struck out on a fastball. That rises to 47 percent if you include cutters and sinkers. Pitchers are throwing him more off-speed stuff than ever before (only 54 percent fastballs) and when he does get a fastball he is late on it.

• Wright has struck out on nine curveballs this year. Six have been called third strikes.

• All seven sliders that Wright has struck out on have been at thigh-high or lower.

• As is the book on Wright, he has struggled the most with the fastball up out of the zone and the fastball away.

• There have been six occasions where Wright has struck out on three pitches. Two of them were when he swung through fastballs right down Broadway.

• When Wright struck out four times on May 9, he whiffed on two fastballs inside and a changeup and curve, both down and away.

Here’s a chart looking at where Wright has been striking out, as seen from behind home plate. Therefore, pitches on the right side of this chart are pitches away from the right-handed hitter. I compiled this data from MLB Gameday, so it’s important to look at general trends and overall tendencies rather than whether a borderline pitch was really a ball or a strike.

David Wright strikeouts

Note the fastballs (green) up out of the zone that he has chased, the changeups (light blue) down and in that he has swung over, and the sliders (dark blue) down and away that he hasn’t been able to put bat on. Note the fastballs (green) up out of the zone that he has chased, the changeups (light blue) down and in that he has swung over, and the sliders (dark blue) down and away that he hasn’t been able to put bat on. Yellows represent curveballs, and red and pink represents cutters and sinkers respectively.

I mentioned that he has struck out a dozen times looking so far this season.

Called strike three.

The thing to note here is the number of times he has been fooled on hanging curveballs (yellow) that have started at his chin and dropped in just beneath the letters. Three of the six curveballs he has taken for a strike have come on a 1-2 pitch with at least two men on base. The green dot furthest top the left was of course the strikeout against the Giants where he got ejected after arguing that Brian Wilson’s fastball was inside.

So, what can we take from all this data?

Well, Wright is obviously having trouble catching up to fastballs, particularly up in the zone. He also needs to not fish at the slider that starts at the outer corner and keeps moving away. All seven sliders that he has struck out on have been swinging strikes, and five out of those times has been after he has worked the count to 2-2 or 3-2.

Wright is a professional hitter, so it’s no real surprise to see most of the strikeouts on the outer edges of the zone, if not out of the zone. There aren’t many professional baseball players who consistently miss pitches in the wheelhouse, especially guys who are career .300 hitters.

But there are a couple that are either dead center or middle in that he needs to put in play and drive for extra bases.

The game on May 5 really sums up his season so far. He had worked hard to get his batting average up from .244 just two weeks earlier to a somewhat healthy .286 and he had just homered in his second consecutive game.

After pulling a Johnny Cueto fastball for a towering home run to left field in the sixth inning, Wright took five straight pitches to work the count full in the eighth before striking on on another high fastball.

Then with two outs in the 10th inning, Wright swung through three straight Micah Owings fastballs in the middle of the zone. All were belt-high, all were 90 MPH and flat, and Wright swung and missed at all of them.

The Reds went on to win that game in the bottom of the inning on Orlando Cabrera’s walk-off home run, and Wright has been on a slide since.

He struck out eight times in the next series in San Francisco, and then at least once in his next nine games before being benched by Jerry Manuel.

Wright was productive last night when he returned to the lineup, going 1-for-4 with a double, a sac fly, and the first four runs of the game. More importantly, he put the ball in play all five times. A big start against struggling Javier Vazquez Friday against the Yankees could be just what he needs to get going again, because Phil Hughes and C.C. Sabathia aren’t going to hand him any freebies in the rest of the series.

You can blame it on him being beaned last year, a statistical fluke, or nothing more than a slump. But whatever it is, the Mets need him to break out of it quickly. Regardless of whether he bats third or fifth, the Mets need him to produce runs out of that spot. It’s a place where a strikeout simply will not do.

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