May 2012

#Cubs and #SFGiants 6/1-6/4 Series Preview

We got ourselves a 4-gamer, wrap-a-round series with those loveable Cubbies who we used to share this adorable World Series Champions drought with. I’m glad we don’t share that anymore. I think the games to watch here are Saturday’s and Monday’s as I look at the pitcher matchups. Saturday’s 1912 promotion should be pretty cool anyway:

Friday, June 1st

LHP Paul Maholm (50.2 IP, 4.62/5.55/4.67 line with a 5.53 tERA. 5.15 K/9, 3.02 BB/9, including a .239 BABIP, and 9 HRA. Has thrown 43.4% FB, 30.6% SL, 15.4% CB, and 10.7% CH, making it more difficult to sit on one pitch)

vs.

LHP Madison Bumgarner (66.0 IP, 3.14/.366/3.72 and a 3.42 tERA. 6.41 K/9, and a nice 1.91 BB/9, plus a .237 BABIP, 7 HRA. 41.9% FB, 38.1% SL, 11.7% CB, and 8.4% CH. Couple of fastball-slider guys match up, eh?)

Saturday, June 2nd (Turn Back the Clock Day)

RHP Matt Garza (53.1 IP, 4.22/4.32/3.70 line with a 4.91 tERA. A 8.27 K/9, and 3.21 BB/9, plus a .252 BABIP, 8 HRA. 57.1% FB (avg. velo at 93.3 MPH), 26% SL, 9.4% CB, 7.5% CH.)

vs.

RHP Matt Cain (71.0 IP, 2.79/2.94/3.58, and a 3.13 tERA, with a 8.37 K/9, and a nicer 1.65 BB/9, and 6 HRA. 51.1% B, 19% SL, 18.5% CH, and 11.4% CB.)

Sunday, June 3rd

LHP Travis Wood (In 16.2 IP, 5.94/7.82/4.51 and a 9.86 tERA. Sports a 5.94 K/9, and a 4.32 BB/9 with a .133 BABIP, and 6 HRA, which certainly is a lot in that period. 61.7% FB, 13.8% Cutter, 13.5% CH, 8.2% SL, 2.8% CB)

vs.

LHP Barry Zito (58.0 IP, 3.41/4.59/5.20 line and a 4.30 tERA, showing off a 5.28 K/9, and a 4.03 BB/9. A .243 BABIP and 6 HRA, same as his opposite for 6/3. 38% SL, 31.4% FB (avg. velo at 83.6MPH), 17.7% CB, 13% CH)

Monday, June 4th

RHP Jeff Samardzjia (64.0 IP, has a 3.09/2.99/3.15 line with a 3.79 tERA and a 9.14 K/9 in contrast with a 2.67 BB/9. A BABIP of .304 with 5 HRA. 54.2% FB (avg. velo at 94.9MPH), 18% Splitter, 14.6% SL, 13.2% CT)

vs.

RHP Ryan Vogelsong (61.0 IP, 2.36/3.74/4.47 and a 3.64 tERA, plus a 6.79 K/9 and a 3.84 BB/9. Has a BABIP of .256 and leads the starters with 4 HRA. 55% FB, 17.5% CB, 14.5% Cutter, 12.8% CH)

Hitters in the Last 7 Days

Darwin Barney (1.268), Alfonso Soriano (1.226), Starlin Castro (1.024), and David DeJesus (1.033) all with OPS over 1.000 and a series with the Padres I believe helped out a little bit. If you take out DeJesus and add in Ian Stewart, those 4 have hit a combined 8 HR in the last 7 days. Melky Cabrera has hit 2 HR for the Giants in the last 7 days, and he’s the only one that’s big flyed for the SFGs in that timespan. The Giants by the way have three guys with an OPS over 1.000. Can you guess them? That’s right: Melky (1.328), Blanco (1.214), and Pagan (1.098).

Four hitters have K% over 27%: Brandon Belt (27.8%), Brandon Crawford (28%), Alfonso Soriano (29.2%), and Ian Stewart (30.8%).

Three hitters have a Line Drive % at 40.0% or better: Reed Johnson (40.0), Ryan Theriot (41.2), Melky (41.7).

Thoughts

Brandon Belt will likely only get two starts at the most, and I know the fanbase is getting impatient. He has to get things going, and soon.

Starlin Castro is not being shopped around, per Theo Epstein.

The Cubs swept the Padres after going on a pretty dam long losing streak.

Prediction

Friday: Giants win

Saturday: Giants win

Sunday: Cubs win

Monday: Cubs win

Hope it doesn’t make me a bad person that I think the series will be split. Just feel like Zito will be old Zito and Vogey will get Cain’d.

An Explanation of the Pitcher Stat Tweets

“Don’t tell me what you heard, tell me what you think.”I forgot who said this

If you follow me on Twitter, first of all, thank you. Humbles me to have the number of followers that I do, and to think I’m in the infant stages of my baseball writing. Next of all, I recently started included some stats with pitchers that come into the game with really no explanation. In an audience of baseball fans that ranges from casual to die-hard to sabermetric formula researcher, the knowledge of the classification of numbers is not something everybody is aware of, or maybe even cares to know about. This is what these tweets look like:

I am not a sabermetric professor, nor would I be able to debate everything math, but I’m doing my best to understand the make-up of the players that take the field. Sometimes the eyes can tell you some of the story, and a lot of the time, the numbers can give you proof of what you’ve seen. I’m going to try and tell you why I use each of these stats in one sentence, and I hope I do not insult the sabermetric community in my quick analysis and make myself look like a fool. If I do such a thing, it should only prove there’s still a lot for me to learn about the game. My research has been helped through Fangraphs and sites linked to them.

IP (Innings Pitched) — always good to know how far along a pitcher is in their season, and if you throw in the number of games they’ve pitched in, you can get an idea of how long they’re staying out there.

ERA (Earned Run Average, first number of the “line”) — I use this as a starting point because we all have a general understanding for what a good, average, and bad ERA are.

FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, second number of the line) — The equation is: FIP = ((13*HR)+(3*(BB+HBP-IBB))-(2*K))/IP + constant with the “constant” making the numbers similar to an ERA number; notice the value it puts on the importance of HR, any kind of BB, and the lack of value it feels Ks have.

xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching, third number of the line) — The equation is: xFIP = ((13*(FB% * League-average HR/FB rate))+(3*(BB+HBP-IBB))-(2*K))/IP + constant, regressing the FIP from the number of HR a pitcher has allowed to the league average, and there is I believe research that FIP and xFIP are better predictors of a pitcher’s performance than ERA.

tERA (True Runs Allowed, originally tRA, or True Runs Allowed) — I’m not sure the equation but tERA wants to measure what a defense cannot control, that being: strikeouts, any sort of BB, balls in play (grounders, fly balls, pop flies, homers, line drives), and thus is more of an evaluation of the pitcher himself.

K/9 (Strikeouts per 9 innings) — Strikeouts to me can show a pitcher’s dominance over a hitter, be it from their stuff, their control, and execution from the scouting report perhaps.

BB/9 (Walks per 9 innings) — Walks on the other hand, can show me their lack of control, and lack of execution, however there are times when a pitcher is asked to pitch around or even walk a player as you know.

So there it is. If there’s anything I’ve learned from all this stat reading it’s that you should always ask yourself why you rely on a stat, which is why I really see very little reason to rely on thing like ERA, batting average, wins, losses, saves, and fielding percentage, to name a few.

My May 27th NL ASG Ballot and Offensive Roster

My starters as of May 27th

We are approaching a third of the season gone by, so it’s becoming about time to consider All Star Game roster considerations. The sample sizes are larger, but I’d still prefer MLB wait to open voting until mid-June since so many people have access to the internet  the general public is perfectly capable of voting for their favorite player 25 times in a span of 2-3 weeks. These picks consider numbers up until today, and are not projections as to what they’ll do through June/July. I promise this post won’t be all Giants. Promise.

C: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies

I’m going with the guy with more HR, a lower K%, higher SLG%, wOBA, and wRC+ than AJ Ellis, who gets a lot of attention in this region.

Reserves: Jonathan Lucroy (only his BB% and OBP are worse than Ellis), AJ Ellis

1B: Joey Votto, Reds

Don’t mind him, he’s just walking around (21.0% of the time) beasting the competition. .321/.465/.590 line with a .447 wOBA and a 185 wRC+.

Reserves: Bryan LaHair (10 jacks, but a 30% K% rate), and yes you’re reading this right — Adam LaRoche (the only other NL 1B with over a .500 SLG%)

2B: Omar Infante, Marlins

This guy had a hot start and he’s actually been holding up his numbers, since he’s the only NL 2B with over a .200 ISO, .500 SLG, and .400 wOBA

Reserve: Jose Altuve, who I stupidly traded away in my fantasy league

SS: Rafael Furcal, Cardinals

The BABIP may be up there, but he’s leading the pack in a lot of categories like the batting line except for SLG (3rd), and I know he doesn’t have the pop that someone like Troy Tulowitzki might have

Reserves: Jed Lowrie, Ian Desmond, Tulo

3B: David Wright, Mets

He’s blowing everybody out of the water WRIGHT NOW (HA!) with his numbers — .390/.489/.604 with a .453 wOBA, 194 wRC+. It’s beautiful. Yes I know it will regress but still.

Reserves: Pablo Sandoval, Chipper Jones, David Freese (OK I might have too many guys on the roster, so sue me.)

OF1: Matt Kemp, Dodgers. You haven’t forgotten about him, have you? .368 ISO, .726 SLG%, 12 HR, .473 wOBA, 207 wRC+. Wowzers.

OF2: Ryan Braun, Brewers. 13 HR, .300 ISO, .612 SLG%, .425 wOBA, 172 wRC+.

OF3: Carlos Beltran, Cardinals. omg he hatez the giants how could you include him u looser. 14 HR, .304 ISO, .422 wOBA, 172 wRC+. Will need an injury replacement.

Reserves (5): Andre Ethier, Andrew McCutchen, Martin Prado, Melky Cabrera, Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton off your bench. OFF THE BENCH.

Not a bad roster, if I do say so myself if it had to be made today.

@MLB takes a step back in tweet

So this is what I come back to my computer to after some late night exercising:

Two problems right off the bat:

1. “Like a MAN?” That’s just sexist. To say women would not block the plate is insulting, like some of them would run from the opportunity for a head-on collision?

2. Catchers that don’t block the plate aren’t baseball player-enough for you? Especially ones that may have had injuries from collisions? I’m sorry the game is ever-evolving. It must’ve killed you when Jackie Robinson broke into the game, when the pitchers mound height and distance to the plate changed, when divisions expanded, when there were more playoff spots, etc.

This comes from a twitter account that reaches over 2,000,000 people. This kinds of backwards thinking is not suited for anybody interested the advancement of the game and hopefully is addressed soon, though I’m not positive we will hear about the consequences to the tweeters action.

Quick Wrap for 5/25: #Marlins 7, #SFGiants 6

Tim Lincecum was fine for 4 innings really, then things started to not go his way. His velocity was at 92-94 for most of the night which was pretty dam impressive and nice to see. It would all eventually be undone with a 3 run HR to Chris Coghlan that made it 6-3 after the Marlins already rallied to tie the game up in the same inning. A pickoff throw to Belt that he missed ended up scoring the 7th and final run. The Giants chipped away near the end of the game scoring one in the 8th and 2 in the 9th off of pretty good situational hitting off of the Marlins bullpen. We had Brandon Crawford at 2nd with Melky coming up. Steve Cishek came in to close it out and here’s the AB for you in a pitch f/x graphic:

Melky struck out looking on that 6th pitch of a slider as Cishek was never able to get his fastballs close to the zone. He looked at the 5th pitch of a slider as well, but I gotta say that was an absolutely tough AB that Melky had. That 6th pitch was as borderline strike as borderline can get. Tip your cap, move on.

If you’re looking for goats (and after a loss, who isn’t?), you can have a bunch of people on your list like Crawford (out at 3rd), coaching staff (trusting Lincecum), Timmy (see: 5 run 6th), Belt (missed pickoff throw), Theriot (just cuz), and the list can go on and on. In a one-run game, you can point the finger a lot of ways, just don’t try telling me it’s any one person’s fault: they really lost as a team tonight, and didn’t have enough innings to come back over the Marlins.

By the way, Mike Stanton HR’d again today. Not really news, but he hit the tower of terror in LCF on a pitch I don’t think he got all of. Crazy good power, that kid. And we get to see him for 2 more games!

@CSNBaggs goes on the offensive, offends.

Let me start off by saying nobody mentioned within this blog post follows me. They may know of me, they might not, but on Twitter, I follow them.

Beat writers do not go after a fan every now and then, but with CSN beat writer Andrew Baggarly being the celebrity he is, and very much loved by many, including myself, I believe we have higher expectations for Mr. Baggs. We do expect Hank/Henry Schulman from the Chronicle to mock the stat heads every now and then, and we’ve had our fun with guys like Pete Abraham, Evan Grant, and I got a ton of exposure (and still am, surprisingly) thanks to Randy Miller.

I may be completely wrong in my speculation (and if I am, I apologize for said speculation), but here it is: This article on Fangraphs published over a month ago got a ton of reaction of Giants fans, and members of the organization (Flem), as well as beat writers themselves (Schulman). The reaction from those closest to the organization was not positive, and Dave was probably the most cool about opposing the thought specifically about Baseball Operations being 27th in the league. I do not remember Baggs coming out and saying anything at the time, but I believe that was the reason for today’s joining in on a conversation:

Everybody has their right to their own opinion, and their right to speech, but when I read Andrew’s first response to Wendy, I was shocked at how condescending and unprofessional it was, and I know I wasn’t the only one. Do I agree with everything Wendy says? No. But I’m not in a position of power like a beat writer is and to call someone out on a popular social media site/internet like that is what they’d say on the movie Hook as “bad form.” There are so many other routes that could have been used here that could have been more private and more professional, but that route was not chosen, and I can’t imagine how that’s possibly the best option when you might want to tell someone how you feel about them.

I am not perfect, nor do I handle every situation perfectly, but I feel lot of people have looked up to Baggarly for some time and while he should be allowed his mistakes as well (and this one will blow over in time), this one was a bad one.

So if I’m wrong about speculating that Baggs’ outburst today was due in large part to that Fangraphs piece, I am sorry, but with what I have in front of me, it’s all I can hypothesize.

#FreeBelt vs. #FreePill: May 22nd Update

They’ve divided a fanbase. This article will give you the offensive numbers on them thus far in 2012.

It really shouldn’t be close. For those that are fans of reading, you expect that Belt should be a far cry away from anything Brett Pill is producing out on the field. Unfortunately for the people that spend the majority of their free time looking up numbers, blogging, and maybe even scouting, we are seeing a whole lotta snark from the Brett Pill Support Group/Brandon Belt Sucks Group.

So, what do the numbers look like? In 99 Brandon Belt PA and 66 Brett Pill PA:

I only put batting average in there for the Pill crowd. I really didn’t want to, but it gave me a good reason to include BABIP and it actually can maybe prove a point about Belt: if the homie can put the ball in play instead of striking out a quarter of the time, that batting average goes up, and the Brett Pill crowd shuts up and reluctantly gets on the bandwagon.

The HR numbers though make me wonder: where has Belt’s power gone? Is he tired? Is he injured? Is he just due for an explosion of production? Whatever it is, you just hope he finds it soon, otherwise Aubrey Huff might have to start games on a consistent basis. That is certainly the number Brett Pill fans laugh at Brandon Belt  for. The one Brandon Belt fans laugh at Brett Pill supporters for is the 27.8% infield fly ball rate. It’s also tied for 5th for highest % for hitters with more than 60 PA.

The numbers in my opinion have Belt with a slight edge, but nothing that screams BELT WINS. K.O. PERFECT. We can only hope, but remember good fans: they’re on the same team, so rooting for one to fail doesn’t really make any sense.

Fin.

So I hear you’re panicking

You’re starting to check the standings because it’s not April anymore. For some reason, whatever site you’re looking at has the default division not on the NL West (how dare they), and then you see the NL West. To your shock, whether you’ve been keeping up with baseball or not, you see the Dodgers in first, and the Giants in second. If you’ve been watching games thru the season thus far, the Dodgers have looked great as a team. Heroes different nights, three guys in Matt Kemp (currently shelved by the hamstring), Andre Ethier, and usual back-up catcher A.J. Ellis are leading the way in a very strong manner, and if I’m not mistaken, ESPN’s Cy Young Predictor had four Dodger pitchers listed — 3 starters and 1 reliever on their list to give you an idea of how well they are executing. If you look on Fangraphs and look at the defensive stats — the majority of which I don’t understand, the Dodgers are leading in the majority of them. If you watched the game tonight, you saw the Dodgers come from behind in pretty non-9th-inning dramatic fashion. Everything’s clicking right now, and it’s OK to be in awe of it. They’ve won four in a row, sweeping the defending World Champs and scoring at least 6 runs in each of those games. They are 28-13, with a 19-4 record at home. They are 7 games up on our beloved Giants. You’re starting to think they really are for real, that they can’t be stopped, that you’re picturing them in the playoffs and doing unspeakable things there, and we will be forced to watch them play out the postseason like they had to in 2010…

If I may: It’s May. They have 121 games left to play.

Might they make the playoffs in a relatively weak NL West? Sure. Totally possible. Might they tailspin and fall to 3rd or 4th? Difficult to see, but also possible. Baseball gives us so much unpredictable stuff, it can be difficult to process, and predict at times. I shouldn’t need to bring them up, but you remember what happened to the Red Sox and Braves last year, don’t you? Baseball can be very good to you, and it can act like it’s around to break your heart.

There will be plenty of time to concern ourselves with the SoCal Stinkers, but remember there are 5 playoff spots this year, and not anywhere does it say the winner of a division in the regular season is guaranteed a ticker tape parade in November.

A Response to sbn.to/KtWNPg from @athleticsnation

Read the post linked in the title. If you hate the Giants, I can see why you might agree with every single thing, really I can. There’s also so much negativity gathered into the word “hate” that I found this impossible to ignore. Why don’t I go point by point:

Territorial rights: The Giants are acting like it’s theirs because, yea, it’s theirs. Are they being big money-grubbing-mineminemine-babies about it? Yes, they are. You think the territorial rights would’ve been handed over if it was speculated for sure the Giants weren’t going to move? There’s good in baseball still, yes, but you’d have a hard time convincing me all owners in the baseball world aren’t all out for money in the short-term and the long-term. I hope the A’s get the move to San Jose, but I don’t remember the Giants forcing the A’s into Oakland Coliseum.

Buster Posey: Good looking, successful, humble, takes his craft seriously, and I guess you could say a great role model for kids. I think that’s worth worshipping. Would you rather the good people worship Angel Villalona?

2010: I’d say winning a World Series is a pretty big deal. I have no idea how A’s fans were after ’89 because I hadn’t even started grade school yet. The bandwagoners are always the worst. For an organization starved for championships (and I know Oakland fans were always quick to remind the Bay Area prior to the 2010 championship), I think the Giants are allowed to have a hangover period. And just like all hangovers, it will go away.

Brian Wilson’s Beard: It’s become its own thing, yes. Giants fans have called for the razor as well.

Aubrey Huff’s Thong: Who’s still talking about this?

Panda Hats: Doesn’t help that you see these things sold in Downtown Disney, and that more animals are being thought of (giraffe, horse, white shark, etc.). And orange chicken? Come on. You can do better, and I know you know it. Unless it was your favorite food, then I am indeed sorry the Giants marketing department ruined it.

The Crazy Crab: I didn’t grow up watching it, and I know what it is, but OK. Sounds like an argument made in jest so I won’t get too serious about it.

Barry Bonds: Definitely one of the most controversial players ever. The way the argument in that article was written though was as if Barry Bonds is the only player to ever be a self-absorbed jerk of a douchebag. I’m absolutely positive you could find a novel’s worth of negative Barry Bonds material, but if you hate the Giants partially because Barry Bonds was a big meanie-head, you’re going to have to start hating more organizations than just the Giants.

Maybe I ruined an article written in good fun. Everybody’s entitled to their own hatred, but I thought there were a lot of holes in the arguments for hating the black and orange. There’s reason to love and dislike every organization, but I don’t think the reasons listed above make for a solid case. That’s just me though, maybe I’m alone in that thought.

The Sheltered, and Youth Sports

The fiance and I went to a Long Beach State vs. University of Pacific college baseball game tonight. We haven’t caught a game yet this season of them, today was Jared Weaver Bobblehead night, so tonight seemed as good as any night to check ‘em out. I’ve been to games just about every season since back in the days when Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria, and Jared Weaver were blessing Blair Field with their abilities.

Growing up, the organized sports I played were in an organization that stressed every kid get playing time, and that teams not take themselves too seriously competitively. The basketball teams were bad sometimes, and sometimes they won. But if you ever put them up against any sort of club team, they should’ve and would’ve been soundly beaten. Same with the baseball teams. Put it this way: the baseball teams were so lacking in abilities I feel like I was at least in the top 10% of players in that league. I played Little League T-ball, but after the season was taken out after my parents saw parents arguing over plays and the like at the T-ball level. I was sheltered and kept unaware of that environment. It also kept me from ever developing baseball-wise, even if I didn’t amount to anything more than a high school varsity starter.

Tonight we sat in front of a couple of parents of the ballplayers from the home team Long Beach State Dirtbags. It was interesting listening to them talk about this and that, talking about the strengths and weaknesses of the team and the coaching staff, but then they started to heckle the other team. The first one was the one that struck me the most: on a pickoff play to 2nd, the opposing runner slid back in safe but was clearly in pain. As the trainers were getting ready to run out, the gentleman behind me yells out:

“Wimp!”

Even the lady next to him told him to stop, realizing how bad it sounded. He tried to rationalize it with, “Well, if he doesn’t want to get hurt, he shouldn’t take so big of a lead,” which of course is complete garbage. Later, when an opposing player was going for a sacrifice bunt (which, when you have an aluminum bat, is a strategy I really do not understand) and fouled off a couple, I hear from a different man:

“Hey #4, face it: You can’t bunt worth a crap!”

Later, the same baserunner from earlier goes down with some ankle soreness, and while the men behind me continued to lightly heckle, one of them also began mocking other student-athletes that were on the bases, saying, “Hey, are you hurt, too?!?” As a Long Beach State fan, this was highly embarrassing, and was my inspiration for leaving before the bottom of the 9th began.

This is a bigger problem for me because I do not understand people that heckle or taunt student-athletes. Some of these kids may be on scholarship, but they likely are not getting paid to do the sport they love. The coaches and the umpires get paid, so if you’re going to go after anyone, shouldn’t it be the people that are paid and not the ones receiving an education? (This is not to say any action a student-athlete does should be free from criticism, but they shouldn’t have to hear endless taunts about their abilities or their health because their uniform is different.) However, I feel like I have been sheltered from parents like these that do this to kids from T-ball onwards, and continuing to be verbally abusive towards the boys and girls that can’t even understand why someone else would be mean to them. I can see why my parents did their best to keep me sheltered from this kind of nonsense, but I can also see how this kind of trash talk would be rampant across all sports at all levels, whether the heckling and taunting be loud, or silent and end up being used in another form of bullying.

As someone that plans to be a parent, I don’t know how I’ll deal with this yet. I just hope I get lucky and end up being surrounded by smart parents, and not ones that are so caught up in competition they lose their ability to be human.

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