May 25, 2013
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Following are the one hundred most recent articles for the category Personal .
05/25/2013: Closer watchby Karl de Vries
05/25/2013: Joey Votto’s bid for historyby Chris Jaffe
05/24/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/24/2013: Roster Doctor (er, consultant) is inby Jonah Birenbaum
05/24/2013: Rick Anderson and pitching to contactby Scott Strandberg
05/24/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 8, Vol. IIIby Karl de Vries
05/23/2013: It is inexcusable to release Jon Rauchby Pat Andriola
05/23/2013: The daily grind: 5-23-13by Brad Johnson
05/23/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/23/2013: Strength of schedule: Adjusting pitcher valuesby Moe Koltun
05/23/2013: Visualization: Handedness through historyby Dan Lependorf
05/23/2013: The Roto Grotto: targeted z-scoresby Scott Spratt
05/22/2013: The daily grind: 5-22-13by Brad Johnson
05/22/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/22/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 8, Vol. IIby Jack Weiland
05/22/2013: The hardest thingby Derek Ambrosino
05/22/2013: 20th anniversary: Blue Jays mascot ejectedby Chris Jaffe
05/22/2013: Currently historic: A plethora of new stuffby Jason Linden
05/22/2013: BOB: Owners’ meeting updateby Brian Borawski
05/21/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/21/2013: The daily grind: 5-21-13by Brad Johnson
05/21/2013: 50th anniversary: Jim Maloney: a star is bornby Chris Jaffe
05/21/2013: Diamonds in the rough: starting pitchersby Noah Woodward
05/21/2013: Profar could be on a Cingrani-esque scheduleby Jeff Moore
05/21/2013: Is 5/125 the new 5/55?by Greg Simons
05/21/2013: The Verdict: keep your trade secrets to yourselfby Michael Stein
05/21/2013: THT Awardsby John Barten
05/20/2013: The daily grind: 5-20-13by Brad Johnson
05/20/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/20/2013: The Hot Seatby Scott Strandberg
05/20/2013: AL Central: state of the divisionby Chris Jaffe
05/20/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 8, Vol. 1by Karl de Vries
05/20/2013: Louisville slugging in 2013by Frank Jackson
05/20/2013: 5,000 days since Eric Milton’s no-hitterby Chris Jaffe
05/17/2013: The daily grind: 5-17-13by Brad Johnson
05/17/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/17/2013: Gems without whiffsby James Gentile
05/17/2013: 40th anniversary: Bobby Valentine breaks his legby Chris Jaffe
05/17/2013: Strength of schedule: Adjusting hitter valuesby Moe Koltun
05/17/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 7, Vol. IIIby Jack Weiland
05/17/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Mike Andrewsby Bruce Markusen
05/16/2013: The daily grind: 5-16-13by Brad Johnson
05/16/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/16/2013: How Scott Kazmir got his groove backby Kyle Boddy
05/16/2013: Three more for eternityby Don Malcolm
05/16/2013: Not exactly definitiveby Don Malcolm
05/16/2013: The all-decade team: the ‘40sby Richard Barbieri
05/16/2013: Of Uggs and Ugglaby Derek Ambrosino
05/15/2013: The daily grind: 5-15-13by Brad Johnson
05/15/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/15/2013: Running hot and coldby Shane Tourtellotte
05/15/2013: The Phillies should retool but not rebootby Brad Johnson
05/15/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 7, Vol. IIby Karl de Vries
05/15/2013: Currently historic: 300 strikeouts?by Jason Linden
05/15/2013: Mike Moustakas’ holeby Noah Woodward
05/15/2013: BOB: How bad is the Marlins’ attendance?by Brian Borawski
05/14/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/14/2013: The daily grind: 5-14-13by Brad Johnson
05/14/2013: How much do hot/cold starts matter?by Greg Simons
05/14/2013: 25th anniversary: The Jose Oquendo Gameby Chris Jaffe
05/14/2013: Jonathan Schoop and the value of role playersby Jeff Moore
05/14/2013: THT Awardsby John Barten
05/13/2013: The daily grind: 5-13-13by Brad Johnson
05/13/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/13/2013: 30th anniversary: Reggie’s 2,000th Kby Chris Jaffe
05/13/2013: NL Central division update: May editionby Jason Linden
05/13/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 7, Vol. Iby Jack Weiland
05/13/2013: Last remaining teammatesby Chris Jaffe
05/13/2013: The Hot Seatby Scott Strandberg
05/12/2013: The curious case of Vernon Wellsby Matt Filippi
05/12/2013: 60th anniversary: Whitey Ford’s near no-hitterby Chris Jaffe
05/10/2013: The daily grind: 5-10-13by Brad Johnson
05/10/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/10/2013: Cooperstown Confidential: What really happened with Fritz Ostermueller and Jackie Robinsonby Bruce Markusen
05/10/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 6, Vol. IIIby Karl de Vries
05/10/2013: Still life, after allby Azure Texan
05/09/2013: Oh Dustyby Pat Andriola
05/09/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/09/2013: 40th anniversary: back-to-back first homersby Chris Jaffe
05/09/2013: The Roto Grotto: rates versus opportunitiesby Scott Spratt
05/09/2013: Swing rates: the John Farrell effectby Moe Koltun
05/09/2013: Winning, TWTW, and the purpose of baseballby Matt Hunter
05/08/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/08/2013: The daily grind: 5-8-13by Brad Johnson
05/08/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 6, Vol. IIby Jack Weiland
05/08/2013: What nobody is talking aboutby Greg Simons
05/08/2013: Currently historic: A truly rare achievementby Jason Linden
05/08/2013: Craig Anderson’s greatest dayby Frank Jackson
05/08/2013: BOB: Stadium updatesby Brian Borawski
05/07/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/07/2013: The daily grind: 5-7-13by Brad Johnson
05/07/2013: Fun with minor league leader boardsby Jeff Moore
05/07/2013: 90th anniversary: Casey Stengel goes bonkersby Chris Jaffe
05/07/2013: THT Awardsby John Barten
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April 29, 2012
Holland and an imperfect gameI got my first chance to watch my nine-year-old nephew Holland play baseball on Friday. His game was, unsurprisingly, a very different experience from watching the big leaguers. I won't give all the gory details, but a short example from the third inning will show what made an impression on me.
Holland reached base on a 5-4 force-out. On the next pitch, the opposing catcher let strike one roll a couple feet away, and Holland swiped second. The next pitch, ball one, went in the dirt too, and Holland took third. Then, after a walk, the pitcher turned his back for a moment, and not only did Holland steal home, but in the confusion the runner on first got all the way to third.
From my rough scoring of the game (yes, I was scoring it), four and a half innings produced 18 instances of what in professional baseball would be judged wild pitches or passed balls. Nothing more need be said to illustrate the chasm between these kids and "real" ballplayers, right? The professional game, the true game, is on a plane of effective perfection, right?
Jump-cut to the bottom of the ninth at Yankee Stadium that night. Game knotted at six, with Derek Jeter on first and Brayan Villarreal pitching to Curtis Granderson. The payoff pitch goes wild, and Jeter makes it all the way to third. Three pitches later, a slider goes off the end of catcher Alex Avila's glove, and Jeter beats the throw back to the plate to score the winning run.
This was a highly dramatic example, but not an isolated one. On that busy Friday night in major league baseball, there were four passed balls and 12 wild pitches (including two "dropped" third strikes) that led to 20 runners gaining extra bases. Ten of the 15 games on the schedule had at least one wild pitch or passed ball—and all five that didn't had at least one hit-by-pitch.
Maybe most interesting, one of those wild pitches led to that bizarre rarity: a four-strikeout inning. In the top of the eighth at Camden Yards, Oakland's Ryan Cook got the first two Orioles hacking, but strike nine to Adam Jones was a wild one that let Jones reach. Cook regrouped and threw strike 12 past Matt Wieters' bat to end the inning.
It was, according to MLB.com, the 59th four-K inning in history. (And the second one in four days. Who knew?)
So on a pretty ordinary day in baseball, arguably the two most interesting and memorable moments are defined by their imperfection, by someone goofing up. Kinda brings those multi-millionaire celebrities down to the level of nine-year-old boys playing for fun, right?
Well, no. Let's not get carried away. The pros are light-years in quality beyond those kids. But they aren't machines; they aren't infallible.
And thank God for that.
A flawless game is a sterile game. Tic-tac-toe holds no interest for anyone but kids, because adults can figure out the perfect strategy pretty easily and make a perpetual tie of it. Several years ago, computers solved the game of checkers, figuring out its optimum strategies, and the world of human tournament checkers has been reeling ever since. Once there's an equation for a game, the game is over. It's a solved puzzle, thrown out like a completed crossword in yesterday's paper.
It is the possibility, indeed the inevitability, of imperfection that makes the game what it is. The pitcher missing the outside corner; the batter getting under a fastball; the infielder's dive deflecting the hot-shot grounder. You can be perfect for a moment, or for a few at-bats. You might, like Philip Humber, be perfect for a whole game—but then there's the next game.
This should give us a bit of perspective. The players are going to keep striving for perfection, and we're going to keep rooting for our teams to exhibit it, and that's exactly as it should be. But the pursuit of that flawlessness is only interesting because it's so hard to achieve, even briefly, even for the best in the game. In baseball as in so many other endeavors, nobody's perfect.
Except for Holland's team, that is. They're 4-0 on the season so far—but there's still a lot of baseball left to be played.
Posted by: Shane Tourtellotte
January 23, 2012
Carmona points out an MLB inequityGoodbye Fausto! Hello Roberto!
As reported last week, 28-year-old Fausto Carmona is Roberto Hernandez Heredia and perhaps 31 years old.
There are implications here for Carmona-Heredia, for the Indians and, most importantly, for professional baseball and the uneven way it deals with international players.
Since being released on bail, The Sinkerballer Formally Known as Fausto has been apologetic but tight-lipped. He reportedly paid for a false identity that may have incorrectly represented his age. He may have been making periodic payments to maintain the false identity. He eventually balked at paying and somebody talked, leading to his arrest.
He is not the first Latin-American player to take this route. (Last year's most publicized example was Leo Nunez.)
So Heredia lied. But did he do anything wrong to the game of baseball? Does lying about your age and name affect anything about playing the game?
It does not.
While the lies are certainly deplorable, they do not affect the player's ability on the field. People will say that, because his age is uncertain, it could be advantageous for him to have people think he is younger. It could lead to larger bonuses and salaries. He’ll appear more successful since his ability will be compared to that of players younger than him.
But these are issue of deceit based on the current economic model and do not affect the play on the field.
If the same player was actually three years YOUNGER, would we be willing to rectify the situation financially? What happened, as before, is a player found a way to take advantage of the economic system in baseball. For him to be successful, he still had to demonstrate ability and skill.
In doing so, he allegedly broke laws in at least two countries* but he never de-skilled the game. While the misreported younger age would have been helpful during his development, the lying did not give him specific extra ability, or his ability to ignore Lake Erie Midges that Joba Chamberlain could not. Carmona’s lies do not hurt the on-field play of baseball.
* I have no idea if Canada would say anything about a player such as Carmona entering the country with false paperwork. I’m not even sure Canada would prosecute, but I am fairly certain that it is against Canadian law.
When looking at a situation like Carmona’s, I look directly at those running Major League Baseball and the teams. Lying about one’s identity is so advantageous for a specific set of players that it outweighs the risk of punishment. Instead of demonizing players like Carmona and Nunez, it is time to look at the system.
In Japan, younger players are able to develop in a system that gives them the ability to play in their homeland with the possibility of moving to the major leagues in America. In Latin America, players feel the need to break the law to be part of the system. So in one week, Yu Darvish, who has never pitched in even the minor leagues in America, got a $60 million contract after a team paid $51.7 million for the right to give him that contract. During that same week, we learned that, once again a player lied about his identity in an effort to get a portion of that amount of money.
In the end, both players will succeed or fail based on what they do on the field. How they got the opportunity doesn’t affect their ability on the field.
Major League Baseball needs to address the differences. If baseball officials are going to continue to encourage teams to deal individually with international players, they need to address the extreme differences in the system. It is not an easy task. How can baseball expect players not to take the route of Carmona and Nunez when the Darvish situation points out the inequity?
As for the Indians:
While Carmona has not lived up to the promise he flashed in 2007, he has shown, when healthy, to be able to provide a decent set of 30-plus starts and 200-plus innings each year.
In conjunction with this news, it appears the Indians finally pulled the trigger on obtaining Kevin Slowey. The Indians have been interested in him anyway, so this was not in direct relation to Carmona’s issues, but the trade was probably hastened. Carmona will likely end up on the restricted list, leaving the Indians with a hole in the rotation but with an extra $7 million. The Indians gave up Zach Putman, a young pitcher who may have competed for a bullpen position this year.
The Indians have other options for the rotation. David Huff and Jeanmar Gomez will be among those who compete with Slowey for spots behind Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Tomlin and Derek Lowe. In the end, the Indians' depth should be able to cover for Carmona's absence with limited hardship.
Posted by: Mat Kovach
August 12, 2010
Scouts, statisticians and wizardsI was about to leave a comment at The Book Blog in a thread titled When to go from the eyes to the numbers when I realized it was probably worth delving into here as well. It opened a philosophical door in my mind that occasionally opens and closes. It seemed a good time to take advantage of the open door and get my jumbled, innermost thoughts peer reviewed (or at least committed to paper for future reference)!
In post No. 8 of the thread I linked above, Nathan asked:
I guess the real question is, can anybody, just by watching 20 games, tell the difference between a .275 and a .300 hitter? I’m referring to batting average here which I know is lame, but the point is that the difference over 80 at-bats (roughly 20 games) is 2 hits! Can an observer notice 1 hit every 10 games?
My response is No. 9 and you can view it for yourself if you like. In fact, I highly recommend taking a look at the whole thread. I'll hit the highlights a little later. Really, it's unfathomable to me how any person can divine the difference between a .275 and .300 major league hitter when he's in high school, rookie ball, or even Double-A. The rate of attrition among minor leaguers could mean that perhaps they can't, at least not with any real degree of accuracy . The problem I see with figuring it out is that there are so many different inputs that make up a good hitter. Coordination, reflexes, strength, eyesight, reaction time, mental toughness, intuition, temperament, focus, etc. all have some bearing on whether one player is one hit per 10 games better than another.
Numbers, with sufficient sample size, of course, allow us to proxy the net product of all the myriad inputs that make a player a player. But the sample size is the limiting factor. Beyond that, Cliff Lees abound in the baseball world, players whose skill sets undergo such massive changes that the previous data becomes nearly worthless. And anyone who watches the game knows that other difficult to explain phenomena occur. Raul Ibanez and Adam LaRoche come to mind.
It seems to me that scouts and statisticians are asking similar but ultimately different questions. The scout's job is to learn the player, to become familiar with his mechanics, his strengths, his flaws, how he handles himself under pressure, how he spends his time off the field, how he relates to his family and loved ones. By doing this, the scout tries to paint as detailed a picture of the player as humanly possible so he can convey to his employers how much that player is worth. He judges the quality of the player's skills. Knowing the quality of those skills and knowing which ones can be improved, he can estimate where a player is at now and where his ceiling is.
Statisticians do something else entirely. We ignore the majority of the inputs and focus on the measurable output. When we look at numbers (or at least when I look at numbers—maybe I'm being presumptuous in using "we"), we're trying to quantify a player's skill in a succinct and tidy manner. We don't care if Chris Coste has a godawful swing, that it's of poor quality and so very unlikely to stick at the major league level. We care that he produced a .316 and .326 wOBA in '07 and '08 respectively. And we care that he was a catcher, making him above average for his position. We don't care that Milton Bradley's temperament is at best questionable. We just care that he can mash the crap out of a baseball when healthy. (Yes, I'm simplifying.)
I must admit, that philosophical door in my mind that I mentioned earlier rarely stays open long and now it is closing quickly. I hope I got my views across clearly enough for some good dialogue. Oftentimes I've heard the work of saberists referred to as statiswizardry (which can be intended to compliment or disparage). Ultimately, I think it's the scouts who do the magic by divining the quality of a player's individual skills.
And I think that partially explains why some casual fans are resistant to openly accepting saberist ideas. All we have is charts and graphs and output from R and Stata. It's all very convincing and useful stuff to statistically oriented minds, but the scouts have something more popular with the masses: Magic.
Posted by: Brad Johnson
July 04, 2010
David Berner and the game-ending triple playThe bases were loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning. There were no outs.
David Berner, the Jethawks closer, leaned in for the sign from his catcher. He got it, and gave the tiny nod of acknowledgment. Then the tall, broad-shouldered southpaw went to his set stretch position. He checked the runners, he kicked into his motion, and he delivered the 1-0 pitch.
It was a fastball.
The Giants batter, big, strong right-handed-hitting James Simmons, wasn’t fooled. He didn’t try to pull the low-and-away location, but instead calmly stepped into the pitch and hit it squarely to the opposite field.
Had Simmons hit the ball any more squarely, the result would certainly have been a home run, a grand slam which would tie the score at 4-4. However, though Simmons hit the pitch very well, he got just slightly underneath it. He loudly smacked a towering fly ball, arcing high, tremendously high into the black midsummer night sky, and slicing toward the right field corner.
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Posted by: Steve Treder
May 02, 2009
Strasburg live!I had the splendid opportunity to watch San Diego State pitching pheenom Stephen Strasburg pitch last night. He was in my hometown of Santa Clara, starting against the Broncos. The weather was threatening; it had rained for much of the day, and the early innings were played under a slight drizzle, but the game was played in its entirety.
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Posted by: Steve Treder
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