I’m a Tigers fan, so I’m pretty excited about how things worked out the last week. Basically, everything went right for the Tigers and nothing went right for the Yankees.
The only glimmer of hope for the Yankees came in game one. Down 4-0, Ichiro Suzuki hit a line drive homer to right in the bottom of the ninth and Raul Ibanez followed with a pop fly two-run “shot” that might have been an out (or perhaps a double) in most parks. Hope turned to despair when Derek Jeter went down with an ankle injury in the 12th, ending his season, while the Tigers stormed back into the lead. Even worse for the Yankees, their near victory finally knocked Jose Valverde off his closer pedestal. The Tigers should have made that move months ago.
I want to go back to the homers though. It’s no coincidence that both homers went to right field off of left-handed bats. Here are the home/road home run splits for the Yankees lefties in 2012:
Posted in Baseball, Causal Analysis, Commentary
Tagged age baseball, age decline baseball, age decline baseball Tyler Williams Jeff Phillips, Age Issue Tyler Williams Jeff Phillips, age steroids baseball, ALCS, American League Championship Series, Andy Dirks, baseball, bottom of the ninth, chris dickerson, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Detroit Tigers, dewayne wise, Eric Chavez, ESPN Home Run Tracker, ESPN the Mag, ESPN the Mag Age Issue, ESPN the Magazine Jeff Phillips Tyler Williams, Hit Tracker, home away home run splits, Ichiro Suzuki, Jeff Phillips, Jeter injury, Jim Caple, Jim Caple ESPN, Jose Valverde, lefties Yankees, Major League Baseball, Mark Teixeira, MLB, New York Yankees, Nick Swisher, quintin berry, Raul Ibanez, Robinson Cano, Sports, Tigers sweep, Tigers World Series, Tyler Williams ESPN, Yankee Stadium, Yankee Stadium unfair, Yankees can't hit, Yankees home field advantage, Yankees home run advantage, Yankees home run splits home away, Yankees home runs, Yankees left-handed bats, Yankees left-handed hitters, Yankees lefties overrated, yankees lineup, Yankees old, Yankees overrated, Yankees poor hitting, Yankees right field, Yankees short porch, Yankees struggle at the plate
“But he’s Canadian,” you say, “So what does he know about baseball?” Well, he’s from Toronto, the team most screwed by the current system, so let’s give it a shot:
A few days ago, the MLB announced that it was expanding its playoffs to include a second wild-card team. Under the new system, the two wild-cards will play a single game that determines who goes to the divisional series. Response has been, at best, mixed. The strongest criticisms, like this one from ESPN’s Joe Sheenan, have taken a traditionalist perspective. Sheenan worries about what this new system will mean for deep-seated, and still exciting, elements of baseball like the pennant race. He sees the wild-card system as debasing what has historically been one of the most exciting parts of being a baseball fan: following your team through a tense September race to win the division. By Sheenan’s estimation, the old system encouraged top teams to play their best throughout the whole season. If you happen to be one of the two best teams in the league by regular season record but can’t win your own division, tough grapes.
I sympathize with Sheenan and other traditionalists. Baseball’s regular season is long and arduous and does a pretty good job of determining the “best” team (or, at least, a better job than other pro-sports at determining the best team). Meanwhile, baseball playoffs, due to the nature of the game, are pretty close to random. As Billy Beane said, “my shit doesn’t work in the playoffs” – seven and five game series are simply too short to give us a good idea as to which team is best. In the 17 post-seasons since the advent of the wild-card, the wild card team has won five times Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Common Sense, Pop Culture, Probability Analysis, Rules Analysis
Tagged Adrian the Canadian, baseball, Billy Beane, Boston Red Sox collapse, coin flip game, coin flip game is dumb, Division Series, ESPN, George Will, Joe Sheenan ESPN, League Championship Series, Major League Baseball, MLB playoff system is stupid, MLB playoff system proposal, MLB playoffs, MLB playoffs new rules, MLB playoffs new system, New York Yankees, pennant race, playoffs, probabilities, St. Louis Cardinals wild card World Series, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto, Toronto Blue Jays, Wild Card, wild cards, World Series, World Series odds
I just finished reading “56,” a retelling of Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak by Kostya Kennedy (thanks to my buddy Jake for the book!). He unfolds the 1941 streak like a story, complete with what the players were thinking/saying and lots of contextual details concerning DiMaggio’s family life, World War II, Italian American immigrants, etc. The book has a bit too much typical baseball nostalgia, perhaps (witty newspaper reports, grand ballparks and announcers, exaggerated personalities), but the story is undeniably fascinating and the writing is pretty good. Kennedy also sprinkles in some discussion of other hitting streaks and finishes with a good summary of quantitative work that’s been done on streaks.
The big debate about both good and bad streaks is whether they arise due to chance alone or whether they reflect Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Basketball, Book Reviews, Causal Analysis, Probability Analysis
Tagged 56, at 'em ball, Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds steroids, baseball, basketball, Bernoulli trials, book review, Detroit Tigers broadcaster, free throws, hack-a-Shaq, Hank Aaron, hit streaks, hitting streaks, home runs, Indiana basketball, Italian Americans, Jim Price, Joe DiMaggio, Kostya Kennedy, Major League Baseball, Mark McGwire steroids, Michigan basketball, Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees, Pacific Coast League, Pete Rose, RBI, Roger Maris, Shaq, Shaquille O'Neal, Stu Douglass, Ted Williams, Willie Keeler, Willie Mays, World War II
Howard Bryant had an interesting take Wednesday on ESPN regarding the health of the MLB and NBA. Bryant’s point is that the MLB is thriving because it has embraced player movement through free agency. Unlike in the NBA, where a player’s current team can offer him more years and money (or where David Stern can just shut down a trade), the MLB has no rules designed to keep players with the same team once their contract expires.
You can skip the video rebuttal by Jemele Hill, who played the unenviable roll of defending the NBA. She compares contract numbers for the NBA and MLB, noting that Pujols makes over $200 million against $100 million or so for the NBA’s top players. This isn’t a relevant comparison; Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Basketball, Causal Analysis, Commentary, Common Sense, Financial Analysis, Football, Hockey, Soccer
Tagged .500, 161 games, Albert Pujols contract, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, ESPN, Howard Bryant, Jemele Hill, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Galaxy, Matt Kemp, MLB, NBA, New York Yankees, NFL, NHL, Ryan Braun PEDs, salary cap, salary distributions, sports parity, team payrolls, team salaries, Washington Nationals
Major League Baseball’s winter meetings are generating as much talk as ever. Today, the Angels engaged in some economic stimulus with over $300 million in contracts for Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. Pujols’s deal is $252 million over 10 years. In ten years, Pujols will be 41.
This is basically the same deal that Alex Rodriguez got from the Yankees before the 2008 season (10 years, $275 million, age 32). Predictably, people are writing that Pujols’s contract is too long. I think this is the wrong view. I bet both sides Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Basketball, Commentary, Common Sense, Financial Analysis, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Boston Celtics, C.J. Wilson, Chris Paul, Danny Ainge, free agency, Kevin Garnett, long-term contract, Los Angeles Angles, Marquis Daniels, MLB, Moneyball, NBA, New York Yankees, Rajan Rondo