I was at the stadium on Saturday sitting in bleacher section 51 in left center when I noticed a curious phenomenon occurring all around me. The Yankees had just scored two runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to bring the score to within three runs, I was feeling pretty happy it being a beautiful day and a decently close ball game, and all of a sudden everyone around me starts intermittently standing up and sitting back down. It took me a while to search through my memory banks to figure out just what this puzzling occurrence was and why at such an integral part of the game these people decided to do leg exercises. Then as clear as spermicidal lubricant the memory came to me. On a cold day in Giant’s Stadium when I was very young a strange cultural practice known as “The Wave” spread like the AIDS virus in Africa throughout the stadium. I participated at the time because, hey, I was a kid and it seemed like fun. I quickly realized my mistake, when an overwhelming sense of shame gathered in the pit of my stomach. It would be much later in life when I realized that this is the feeling that keeps humans from doing things like running naked through the streets or rooting for the Red Sox or doing the Wave at a baseball game. The guys over at Drunk Jays Blog wrote a very funny guide to doing the wave (if you must). It is hilarious and I suggest you check it out. I will certainly be sitting in the right field bleachers next time, or as I like to call it: The land where the Wave goes to die.
Just did a quick calculation of our run differential after week 1, we have been outscored by 11 runs 28-17. If you use the sabermetric value of runs (10 runs = 1 win) we should be a game under .500. Although, take Latroy Hawkins and Ian Kennedy out of the picture and we are tied at 17-17, which would be make us exactly at .500. Unfortunately we can’t do that, Ian Kennedy and Latroy Hawkins are both big reasons why we lost game 1 against the Rays. Fortunately, we have gotten some lucky breaks. My mind immediately goes to some defensive miscues by the Blue Jays. The scary thing is we are a couple good plays from being 1-5 or 0-6 or something like that. We will not continue to get breaks like this all season, hopefully sometime soon our offense will wake up so we can take some pressure off of our highly inconsistent starters. To digress a bit the staff has gone from good to bad every other day (Wang 7.0IP 2ER, Moose 5.2IP 5R 3ER, Franchise 6IP 2ER, Kennedy 2.2IP 6ER, Pettitte 5IP 5R 3ER, Wang 7IP 0ER). Let’s hope Wang continues to be the man and the performances of Kennedy and Pettitte improve about to where Phil Hughes was in his first start. If that can happen and the offense starts doing what it gets paid a heck of a lot to do, we will be good. If it can’t this could be get really, really ugly. On a side note, the AL East is going to be very interesting this year. The Rays and Jays are legit and aren’t going down without some serious fight. That said, couldn’t be happier that there’s baseball in my life again. Will be posting again soon. Until then let’s go Yanks!
Tim McCarver, Joe Buck and Ken Rosenthal just had a lengthy debate during the Braves vs. Mets games about the Yankees not getting Johan Santana. They discussed how the Yankees don’t have enough innings in their rotation to make the playoffs this year and provided that as a reason why the Red Sox will make the postseason instead. Meanwhile, the Red Sox are relying very heavily on two rookies (Buchholz and Lester) and have an aging veteran in Tim Wakefield who lost last night was sidelined for a good portion of last year with back problems which to me means: just as many pitching issues as the Yankees. They also picked the Tigers (who, during the discussion lost a game in which Dontrelle Willis pitched very well to fall to 0-4) who have probably the worst bullpen in the Majors so far, and boy is it early. Hank Steinbrenner was pulling punches when he said that ESPN has the media bias, he should have mentioned FOX and the nincompoops who used to be on the payroll of the Yankees before YES came along. They continued to discuss that if Johan Santana has a good year, the Yankees will look like idiots for not dealing away the franchise (Hughes-who looked fantastic in his first start-Melky-who is the only reason we’ve won two games, and any number of minor leaguers who will make our bullpen better when Latroy Hawkins and Kyle Farnsworth get hurt and can’t pitch anymore-a guy can hope can’t he?) and paying him the cost of the new stadium to come and win now. Meanwhile, Pedro just went down and, minutes before the peanut gallery pointed their collective attention to the Yanks, the Triumvirate of Ineptitude were talking about how Jorge Sosa could get the ball in his stead. Why is this? Because the Mets have the farm system of a Jim Crow era Sharecropper due to a deal in which they gave all their young pitchers to the Twins and can’t afford to sign anyone because of a certain lefty who I do not need to mention here. Funny how if the Yankees made the deal they would talk about how they are evil because of their ability to pay anyone any amount of money, and how big market teams like the Yankees are ruining the game of baseball. I’m not saying the Yankees don’t have issues, I just got back from a game where the Rays beat the snot out of the heretofore inadequate starting pitching (ahem Andy Pettitte). But the Yankees issues are hardly more pressing than those of the Red Sox or the Tigers, and I can’t for the life of me imagine why the media would pick either two teams over the team that has made it to the postseason the last 12 years straight! Unless of course, yeah, there’s that media bias acting up again. In the words of a certain freshman year roommate of mine, I will conclude this post as tactfully and politely as I can: I fucking hate FOX and all of those assholes can suck my big fat cock!
The guys over a saber-scouting pitched a new stat called PTO% (Pitches Towards Outs %) which measures how many pitches per start a pitcher turns into outs. I decided to do some research and calculate the numbers for the best pitchers in the AL East.
The formula is:
PTO% = (SO*3)+SF+SH+(AB-SO-H)/Total Pitches
Josh Beckett PTO% = 36.2%
Eric Bedard PTO% = 33%
Chien-Ming Wang PTO% = 29.9%
Scott Kamir PTO% = 29.8%
Roy Halladay PTPO% = 27.7%
To put this in perspective here are each persons GS W IP PITT SO BB
Josh Beckett = GS: 34 IP: 200.7 PITT: 2692 SO:194 BB:40
Eric Bedard = GS: 28 IP: 182 PITT: 2939 SO: 221 BB: 57
Chien-Ming Wang = GS: 30 IP: 199.3 PITT: 2859 SO: 104 BB: 59
Scott Kazmir = GS: 34 IP: 206.7 PITT: 3604 SO: 239 BB: 89
Roy Halladay = GS: 31 IP: 225.3 PITT: 3323 SO: 139 BB: 48
To average some of those things out:
Josh Beckett averaged 5.9 innings per start. He averaged 4.5 pitches per out with a 36.2% PTO.
Eric Bedard averaged 6.5 innings per start. He averaged 5.38 pitches per out with a 33% PTO.
Chien-Ming Wang averaged 6.64 innings per start. He averaged 4.78 pitches per out with a 29.9% PTO.
Scott Kazmir averaged 6.07 innings per start. He averaged 5.8 pitches per out with a 29.8% PTO.
Roy Halladay averaged 7.26 innings per start. He averaged 4.9 pitches per out with a 27.7% PTO.
What I found most puzzling about these numbers is that Josh Beckett, although he picked up the most wins of any of these pitchers, through the fewest innings per start of any “ace” in the NL east. If you look at the gamelogs for Josh Beckett from 07′ he was very carefully watched by John Farrell and rarely touched 110 pitches in a start. This speaks volumes about his durability as a pitcher. The Red Sox were clearly afraid he would get injured, and babied him along through the season. It also speaks volumes about the Red Sox bullpen that they were able to preserve his wins when he didn’t average 6 innings per start with is one of the major qualifications of a quality start.
Roy Halladay by contrast through a lot more pitches, he also made 4 more starts and averaged over 7 innings a start even though only 27.7% of his pitches were made towards outs. This means Halladay was a much more durable and dependable starter than Josh Beckett 07′, which is surprising given Beckett’s reputation as the most dominant starter of 07′ (I’ve heard it said on ESPN I don’t know how many times).
What this also shows is the relationship between a groundball pitcher and strike out pitcher. Chien-Ming Wang averaged half an inning more than Scott Kazmir per start and a full pitch less per out than Scott Kazmir. While Chien-Ming Wang might not look as dazzling as Scott Kazmir when he goes about his business, and their PTO% is almost exactly the same, he is able to go deeper into games and throw less pitches in the process. He also walked 32 fewer hitters than Kazmir. All this leads to a faster, more exciting ball game for the players and the fans.
In the words of the great Rafiki: “It is time!” Spring Training is here! Hey, who’s got two thumbs and is psyched for Baseball Season…this guy! Okay, enough with the cheap jokes let’s get down to some conversation. There is a lot of discussion in the blog-sphere about Derek Jeter’s performance, I’ve been discussing his 07′ post-season with Rebecca over at Bleeding Pinstripes and I chalk his poor performance up to his knee injuries. There is also a great sabermetric analysis of Jeter’s upcoming season over at the Replacement Level Blog. Jeter has never been the type of player who sits when injured, he believes that even hurt he can contribute to the win. This is what makes him a “clutch” player, as much as that phrase irks me, it’s true. He wants to be in the box with the game on the line. As he ages however, it will become increasingly difficult for him to use willpower to get through his injuries. I think he realized that at the end of last season and adjusted his workout accordingly. He knows what he has to do to be successful and he has never shied away from making adjustments to his game. This is why I believe that Jeter will return to his normal form in 08′ and catalyze another exciting campaign to the Fall Classic.
Want proof that you heard it here first. The official name of that incredible Eli to Tyree catch will be named “The Great Escape.” Go GIANTS! Still haven’t quite figured out what I want to use this blog space for but once I figure it out I’ll start writing. Not like anyone is reading anyway. Can’t wait for baseball season…counting down the seconds to Feb 14th.
Welcome to my blog. Here I will be venting my grievances and thoughts about whatever pops into my insignificant yet exorbitantly expensive mind (thanks Dad!) I doubt anyone is reading at this point but I’ll post things that I’ve written on other peoples’ blogs just in case anyone happens to stumble upon this website. I’d like to thank Peter Gammons and Phil Hughes as well as the folks at the New York Times for leading me to this web ring. Mr. Hughes, I can’t wait to see you pitch in 08′ and I’d love to come visit the Yankees in Tampa this Spring. We’ll see what happens! As of now I’m trying to arrange a Spring Break cruise as a last hoorah with some of my friends from Boston University.