A fan of the Yankees, Red Sox, and large sample sizes.
To all my friends who think I'm hopelessly obsessed with baseball: you're right.
But at least I'm not obsessed with Klingon.
Oh, and while I'm linking to weird stuff, check out this dude's attempt to get a Gmail account. Oh, and this one, too.
As a big Strat-o-Matic baseball guy, I constantly pay attention to hitter and pitcher platoon splits. For hitters, I like to see a big difference between how they hit lefties and righties (preferably favoring righties). For pitchers, the more consistent, the better. The reason? You can pick specific hitters to take advantage of opposing pitcher handedness, but when you pick your pitcher, you can't decide which of your opponent's hitters will be in the lineup. Why play a pitcher who gives up an extra .200 points of OPS against lefties, if you can help it? That's just asking your opponent to plop 7 or 8 lefties in to the lineup, even if some are merely mediocre.
Anyways, I only bring this up because I was checking out Nick Johnson's page over at ESPN.com. As a Yankees fan, I enjoyed watching Johnson get on base for the past two years, and was disappointed to see him go to the Expos. After losing almost two months to injuries this year, what do his splits look like? (OBP SLG OPS)
vs. L .486 .360 .846
vs. R .346 .500 .846
Hmm, consistent, yet... not. Nick's got an OPS of .846 against both righties and lefties, but he's doing it in drastically different ways. Patience against lefties, but no power to speak of (.280 AVG .080 ISO) with all his power (3 HRs, 7 2Bs in 72 ABs) against righties. As OBP is more important than SLG, he's actually been more productive against lefties so far.
YET ANOTHER PRODUTIVE OUTS ARTICLE
In case there was any doubt that Productive Outs and PO Percentage are a waste of digital storage space, as well as a waste of our time, Larry Mahnken sticks another (his sixth?) fork in POP.
HAPPY BELATED FATHER'S DAY
My obsession with baseball started with my dad's obsession with baseball. Our relationship is pretty much the epitome of the male bonding cliche.
Dad was my Little League baseball coach - check. Dad took me and my friends to a minor league game for my 8th birthday - check. Dad and I stayed up way past my bedtime watching the Yankees win the World Series - check. Dad organized the world's coolest neighborhood trip to a weekend of baseball up in Toronto - check.
Our Little League baseball team was a dynasty. In the International League, we finished first or second every year. Those were the glory days - sponsored by School Pictures, my short, skinny, non-imposing friends and I destroyed other teams with our coordination and competence. I threw the slowest pitch of anybody in the league, but since I could throw strikes and half the other kids couldn't hit, I didn't give up too many runs. We pulled the hidden ball trick at least once per game, and I even picked a kid off of second base from centerfield one time.
As most relationships go, there came a point when I realized my dad actually wasn't the second-coming of Babe Ruth (although he did beat out Dale Berra for the second base job as a sophomore in high school). It's a rather fuzzy point, though. It may have been a couple years after he proclaimed, "Bernie Williams in centerfield? That guy will never amount to anything." Or it might have been during my college days when I came home to hear him saying stupid things at the TV, like "ugh, we need more veteran leadership."
But it doesn't matter. The most important part of any parent-child relationship is that the child learns from the parent and takes things a step further. Hell, that's the most important part of any relationship.
Thanks for the baseball education, dad.
DEBAUCHERY, AND LOWE THROWS A GEM
I'm back from driving around the northeast, getting to hang out with some friends that I spend way too little time with. The coolest part was that we didn't just rehash old college stories, but came up with new material.
As a Red Sox fan, their recent descent in the standings has been disheartening. The pitching, a strength for the first two months, has suddenly looked shaky. Thankfully, the offense should get even better, due to Nomar and Trot returning, and the apparent choice to keep Bellhorn as the primary 2B. I was really scared, however, to see that Derek Lowe was starting in Coors this afternoon. He's had a rocky season, with more walks than usual, a slightly lower K rate, and a lower GB/FB ratio. The .300 BAA and 5.83 ERA are quite scary, although I'd hate to see what the ERA would look like if he hadn't been so stingy at giving up HRs.
So how'd he do? He still walked more than he struck out (4/3). But fortunately, Lowe only gave up 4 hits and no HRs in 7 shutout innings. Kinda lucky if you ask me. It's also a testament to the pathetic abilities of the Rockies offense. Going forward, I don't see Lowe bringing that ERA below 5.00.
Lastly, thanks to studes of Hardball Times fame who gave me a nice compliment over at his place.
I just finished my first year of teaching high school math, and I'm headed on a nice vacation. This blog won't get updated for about a week, but hey, you're all used to that anyways.
Roger Clemens is pitching in Safeco field today agains the putrid Mariners' offense. My prediction? 8 IP, 7 singles, 2 walks, 1 run, and a win for the ex-Yankee/Red Sock.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
Often times, people talk a whole lot of smack, and then don't follow it up with praise when things actually turn out alright. It's the opposite of the presidential promise phenomenon (talk like you're aiming for heaven, and follow it up with crap). Two of these cases concerning internet baseball came to mind to me today.
First, MLB.com has become a pretty darn good website. As recently as last summer, it was pretty pathetic - horrible presentation, awful organization, and a complete lack of information. Now, however, the front page has a cutting edge rotating top story thing going, the stats are complete, the fantasy baseball options are prerty varied and interesting (if you're into that type of thing), and MLB.tv/MLB Radio are perhaps #1 on my list of reasons why the internet is a life requirement.
Second, Baseball Prospectus used to get ragged on for giving a cold shoulder to fantasy fans. They didn't write any fantasy baseball articles, didn't provide fantasy baseball rankings, and generally seemed to be sabrmetric snobs. If that was ever true, it's certainly not now. The front of BP 2004 has a line catering to fantasy fans. The website now has a cheaper, more limited fantasy subscription option. And the site now includes a number of fantasy features: the dynamic player value spreadsheet, team tracker, and depth charts.
Anyways, hats off to two baseball sites that listened to their critics and have made themselves better (a hard feat in BP's case).