December 8, 2013
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
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THT's latest e-bookThird Base: The Crossroads is THT's new e-book, available for $3.99 from the Kindle store. The good news is that anyone can read a Kindle book, even on a PC. So enjoy the best from THT in a new format.
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Thursday, April 11, 2013
Diamondbacks 10, Pirates 2: Have yourself a day, A.J. Pollock. He homered twice, doubled and drove in four. He also made a diving catch in center field. And you were proud of yourself for only hitting the snooze button once.
Nationals 5, White Sox 2: This game was delayed 15 minutes because the umpires were stuck in traffic. Really. This a day after Denard Span tweeted about being stuck in traffic on the way to Nationals Park. Perhaps the Nationals ought to invest in some dorms near the park or something. Keep people from having to fight D.C. traffic. Or perhaps everyone involved needs to realize that this isn't 2009 anymore and people actually go to Nationals games.
Cardinals 10, Reds 0: Jake Westbrook tosses a shutout. Not that he needed to. He lost that first game of the season 1-0, but he still hasn't allowed an earned run in 2013. Four homers for Cardinals hitters. Including one from Matt Adams, who is 9 for 14 with four extra base hits on the year.
Giants 10, Rockies 0: Barry Zito: superstar. Seven shutout innings plus he went 2 for 3 with an RBI. It's gonna be awesome when, in the event he falls short of 200 innings and his 2014 option does not vest, the Giants pick it up anyway because, at long last, he has actually earned part of the contract everyone says is the worst ever. It's wrong to talk about someone who "persevered" while being massively overpaid for so long, but give Zito credit for not quitting and phoning it in when a lot of others would have. Unless this is just a mirage and he returns to 2011 form soon, in which case let's just forget we had this conversation.
Phillies 7, Mets 3: Domonic Brown and Chase Utley homered in a five-run first inning that put this one away early. Good to see a prospect some didn't think would ever get a chance and a veteran some thought was washed up coming through in the early going.
Blue Jays 8, Tigers 6: The Tigers led this one 6-1 in the fifth inning. Viva la Bullpen. Well, that and Viva La One Inning Too Many for Rick Porcello. Which, when your bullpen stinks, stretching your starters is something that may be understandable for a manager. When is Jose Valverde getting here again? Big hits for Edwin Encarnacion -- check this one out, by the way, as it was awesome -- Mark De Rosa and J.P. Arencibia.
Rays 2, Rangers 0: It was 39 degrees at game time. In Texas. It hit 80 up here in Ohio. Go home weather. You are drunk. Matt Moore and four relievers combine on the shutout.
Orioles 8, Red Sox 5: A five-run rally capped by a three-run Manny Machado home run ruined this one for the few Red Sox fans who stuck around for the ninth inning. Let's see if, after a week of talking about how fun and likable this Red Sox team is, Boston writers and radio yakkers decide that Sox closer Joel Hanrahan is a villain or something.
Braves 8, Marlins 0: Atlanta with its second straight sweep. The sweep-ees were the odds-on favorite to be the worst two teams in the National League, but wins are wins. The Marlins have scored 16 runs in nine games.
Royals 3, Twins 0: And ... the sweep. Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur homered. I feel like today is going to be "how 'bout them Royals!" day among national columnists looking for something to write about.
Athletics 11, Angels 5: Brandon Moss drove in five and homered for the second night in a row. That's seven straight wins for the A's who are showing that last year's formula -- lots of homers and lots of people wondering why the A's are so good -- is still intact.
Astros 8, Mariners 3: Chris Carter and Rick Ankiel each hit two-run homers. It's gonna be funny if Safeco Field, long one of the best pitchers' parks in the game, suddenly becomes Coors Northwest. The Astros scored 24 runs on 37 hits in the past two games.
Dodgers 4, Padres 3: Homer for Carl Crawford. Who is hitting .464./.531/.714 in 32 plate appearances. Crawford returning to form or, at the very least, respectability, was one of the many not-at-all-certain-to-be-filled prerequisites for the Dodgers to go from being a great team on paper to a great team, so that's good.
Yankees vs. Indians: POSTPONED: The rain falls hard on a humdrum town, this town has dragged you down. Oh, the rain falls hard on a humdrum town, this town has dragged you down.
Brewers vs. Cubs: POSTPONED: Bottle eyes, glassy blue, I watch the rain come out of you. Sky is white with the flu, I'm terrified of losing you. If I go to the sea, I'll bring you down, down with me. If I go to the rain, you'll never see me again. You've got cold girl fever.
Just a little while ago, in the White Sox versus Nationals game, Chicago announcer Ken Harrelson talked a bit about what he felt was the most overrated thing that has come into baseball in the past 10 years.
Yes, I know what you're thinking—he was talking about the closer role. You know, the fact that guys get huge contracts because they have a history of pitching one half-way decent inning at the end of a game in which that player's team is ahead between one and three runs.
No, it wasn't the closer's role.
And it was not an overrated statistic. Don't start thinking it was something like Runs Batted In for a hitter or Wins for a pitcher. No, he didn't rail against those as being an incomplete way to judge a player because they rely too much on variables that are outside the player's control.
Remember, it was a concept, not a player. So, those of you screaming, "Joba Chamberlain", or "Phil Hughes" can calm down. (And, stop screaming stuff at your computer.)
No, it was a broad concept. It was something that "Hawk" sees as a waste of time that many in baseball are overvaluing like crazy right now.
Sabermetrics is the most overrated thing in baseball according to Harrelson.
He made his observation after the Nationals had their pitcher bunt the runner on first over to second. With that sacrifice bunt by the pitcher, an ode to bygone days of baseball, a time when men were men and they chewed tobacco instead of sunflower seeds, Harrelson was reminded of all that is bad in baseball right now and said of sabermetrics, "...it's gotten a lot of people fired, because it didn't work."
His color man, Steve Stone, noted that while maybe some people have been fired, a lot of people right now—people currently working in baseball—actually have their jobs because of their ability to understand sabermetrics. Harrelson conceded a little and said that sabermetrics could be an "element" that could be used in the game. Then he went on to tell us, in so many words, that you're much better off just looking for guys who want to win baseball games, an idea he says that our infatuation with numbers has obscured.
So from that, one might be tempted to look at a team like the White Sox and conclude that if they go on to have a sub-.500 record this season, it won't be due to any lack of talent that, based on past performance, projection systems like PECOTA could see coming. No. According to Harrelson, a below average season would be due to an overabundance of players who don't really want to win.
Now, if the White Sox beat PECOTA's expectations? It won't be because of Alex Rios having one of his every-other-year- career years which could flip their record by eight games all by itself. It won't be because they all stay relatively healthy and exceed expectations. No, it will be because they want to win more than the teams they play against.
With it being that simple, I have just finished applying for the head scouting position of every team in baseball. Surely one will see that my resume, which consists only of one sentence, makes me worthy of a job over some sabermetric dweeb. The resume simply states that, "I will find players who say they really, really want to win and our team will be the pants off everyone else and you should really hire me because this will work and using stuff like statistics to evaluate players is the most overrated thing in baseball in past decade."*
It's only a matter of time before the phone rings.
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