Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Worst Blogger Alive....

Since the worst blogger died.

Quickly, San Francisco is still my pick to take the World Series. The Rangers have faired well to this point while not having to face the caliber of pitching that they will see from the Giants. Further, four of the possible seven games will take place in a pitchers ball park, where those can'o'corn homers will be more along their rightful lines.

I'm going with San Francisco in five, although I want to say six.

Either way, Giants win.

I think Panda has a huge series.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Gutting It Out

I don't know a lot, or really anything about cars, so I rarely if ever give my input regarding them. I don't follow basketball and probably couldn't name the "star" player on every team in the league, so I won't stick my nose into a discussion about basketball. Football, ditto. European soccer, same thing. When someone with a background in politics raises a point regarding politics, I typically concede to that person, assuming they know what they are talking about.

Why then, can't radio personalities do the same?

(Maybe the greater question is why I continue to go to the sources I do for entertainment).

I have in my short time writing made mistakes, lot's to be certain. I even mistakenly called right handed pitcher Clay Buchholz a lefty, and at the time, that was much of the reason I liked him as a prospect. I've even started a second, yet short lived blog about my favorite OHLer, Andrew Shaw because I felt as though he deserved to be drafted - didn't happen.

On the radio this afternoon I heard Jim Rome (guh!) give a monologue about how Roy "Doc" Halladay had one of the gutsiest performances in recently history. Rome even asserted that this performance may have overshadowed the performance of Curt Schilling a couple years back. Rome attempted to make it out as if Halladay's performance was the fuel to ignite the fire that was the Phillies win. You can bet that if the Phillies take this series, Rome will talk about how Halladay went out there on "one leg".

Here's the scoop if you missed out on it.

Halladay claimed to have pulled his groin sometime in the second inning. And according to Rotoworld, "might explain why his stuff looked so shaky throughout the night".

Of course, his second inning groin pull had to do with how poorly he pitched in the first inning. It was entirely owed to the fact that Giants hitters were hammering the ball all night!

I'm sorry, maybe I'm beginning to sound like a Doc hater, but this is going too far! The guy is a fantastic pitcher who has had a memorable season and is probably destined for the hall of fame. It's tough to say negative things about him.

However, this wasn't a gutsy performance. What we saw was a pitcher who simply didn't have his best stuff that happened to pull his groin after 30 or so pitches.

Pitches...Pitcher...Throwing pitches. Wait, this gives me an idea...

Tom Verducci has the "rule of 30", where he asserts a pitcher under the age of 25 that increases his workload by more then 30 is vulnerable to injury. Entering last night's ballgame, Halladay had tossed 266.1 innings during the 2010 season (including the All Star Game and Post Season). This falls just 3.2 innings short of eclipsing the magic 30. Maybe we have something here?

We also see that Halladay has thrown 150 more pitches during 2010 then he did during his career high season in 2003. 2004, the season after his previous career high, also resulted in Halladay missing a significant amount of time.

I'm not saying this is an open and shut case, but could throwing a career high in innings and pitches result in Halladay running out of gas? If he were 25, almost everyone would be convinced this is true, so why not for a 33 year old? A 33 year old who year after year has been among the league leaders in pitches thrown and innings pitched.

Baseball Prospectus has a stat called "Pitcher Abuse Points". It hasn't been used to link many injuries recently, and I'll be the first to admit the premise isn't iron-clad. In fact, this stat was created over a decade ago and not much work has been done to further it. Even BP's ex-injury expert Will Carrol wasn't found utilizing this stat.

In any event, PAP is created using the following formula, as per BP,
These points are cumulative: a 115-pitch outing gets you 20 PAP's - 1 for each pitch from 101-110 (10 total), and 2 for each pitch from 111-115 (10 total). A 120-pitch outing is worth 30 PAP's, while a 140-pitch outing is worth 100 PAP's - more than 3 times as much. This seems fair; a pitcher doesn't get tired all at once, but fatigue sets on gradually, and with each pitch the danger of continuing to pitch grows.
Further, BP breaks the pitch tallies into a chart as follows:

Pitcher Abuse Points
Situation PAP/Pitch
Pitches 1-100 0
Pitches 101-110 1
Pitches 111-120 2
Pitches 121-130 3
Pitches 131-140 4
Pitches 141-150 5
Pitches 151+ 6

This is all a lead up to stating that Roy Halladay has finished in the top 5 in PAP for the last five seasons, possibly pointing to a breakdown in the pitcher. Maybe pitching into October has caused the otherwise indestructible Halladay to fall apart?

I need to again state that this isn't me hating on Roy Halladay, two years ago I fought tooth and nail to convince the writers at Baseball Daily Digest to use some critical thinking in making their selections. What I am doing here is proposing the idea that Halladay's "gutting it out" was possibly due to him being worn down due to overuse, something he displayed in the first inning. His "gutting it out" was not due to pulling his groin in the second inning, as his performance did not tail off after that point - he was arguably a better pitcher after the second inning.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Well, I went four for four with my AL and NL division series picks. I was a little nervous about picking the Rangers over the Rays and the Giants over the Braves, but in the end, everything ended how I expected.

On my twitter account (@TheOLIB) I tweeted that I expected the Giants to take the World Series entering the first day of the post season. I made this decision based on the pitching of the Giants and while Roy Halladay is getting all the press after his no-hitter, with people going as far as ranking him among the best right handers of all time (something I disagree with and will write about at a later date) I still feel as though the Giants 1-2-3 of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez are superior to the Phils 1-2-3, not to mention I prefer the Giants bullpen.

Where the Phillies have some fortune is going up against a lot of right handed pitchers, only four of the Giants active pitchers pitch from the wrong side with essentially nothing in the end game. That being said, I would anticipate seeing a lot of Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez during this series and a little less Santiago "what's my name" Casilla - even though Casilla has looked incredible this season.

I still have the Giants taking this series in what should go the distance. Hopefully this series has Lincecum winning a couple of games head-to-head against Halladay which will remind people that while Doc has been a phenomenal pitcher for his career, his timing is what truly makes his career stand out (pre-Schilling, post-Hernandez/Lincecum dominance).

Over in the American League I'm going with the Yankees taking the Rangers. I'm taking this one based on strategy, not so much the strategy of having Cliff Lee heading to the bump for game three, but for sending CJ Wilson out there for game one. I would have conceded game one and wend for back to back W's without CC Sabathia on the hill. That is, Wilson is essentially going to have to outpitch Sabathia to win game one, not an easy task facing any group of hitters, but against the Yanks, that much more difficult.

Additionally, this is a possible seven game series where a shaky bullpen is that much more vulnerable, especially against experienced hitters that are solid at putting the ball in play. With all the Yankees hitters up to full speed, it's doubtful the Rangers will have an easy inning towards the end of the game. That said, I see this one ending in five, maybe six with experts blaming it on Washington for the wrong reason (Lee) rather then the rotation configuration as a whole.

So again, Yankees over the Rangers in the ALCS and Giants over the Phillies in the NLCS with the Giants taking home the World Series.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Curiosity Kills Something

Right, it's playoff time and I'm making a quick post about a single-A catcher, deal with it. I made my Division Series picks at the final hour over on my twitter page (yea, I "tweet") and also promised for a post that evening - best unemployed writer, ever!

Anyways, there has been a fair amount of negative things written about Nationals catching prospect Derek Norris. Here are comments by two of the industries most well-known prospect authors.
  • Kevin Goldstein stated, "[Norris] became an on-base machine with little power" while giving him a mulligan due to injuries (I'll touch on these later).
  • Jason Gray wrote, "Norris will look to rebound from a subpar season in the Carolina League, where he hit .235 and slugged just .419."
Truth be told, I actually thought there was more negative press about the 21 year old. However, we still have two authors who walked away unimpressed with the power that Norris displayed in 2010.

Quick explanation. Keith Law wrote in a recent chat transcript that it isn't uncommon for hitters to take a year to a year and a half to recover their power stroke after a hamate injury. I have read that similar power sapping can occur to wrist injuries. The hamate bone is, from my non-medical opinion, a part of the wrist, and as such, Derek Norris' power sapping should not have been too much of a surprise.

Norris also suffered a minor concussion when he was hit in the head by a "96mph fastball". Which Norris admitted took him a fair amount of plate appearances to bounce back from, something his month-by-month statistics show as this was the only full month where Norris posted an OPS under .830 (keep this number in mind for later). Even his playoff-shortened month of September had Norris posting an OPS of .865 (if my math is correct).

Of course we don't want to altogether eliminate Norris' month of June, but we can see that something might not have been right that month, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that it had to do with having just taken a fastball off the head.

Neither of which is the point. The point here is that Norris didn't really have that bad of a season. In fact, his power numbers as is would suffice in the big leagues.

Consider where he would stand with those numbers at the show. These numbers I am speaking of are the end of season line of an .838 OPS and an ISO of .184.

Among catchers with 390 plate appearances (Norris had 387) there are 20 qualified catchers, five of whom posted an OPS higher then Norris' .838, while six put up an ISO over Norris' .184.

In other words, if Norris' numbers translated cleanly to major league baseball, he suffered a serious hand injury, and a concussion, we're looking at a top 5 or 6 hitting catcher in baseball. Keep in mind Norris is also putting in a conscious effort to being a better defensive catcher, something we all know a guy like Jorge Posada could care less about.

Derek Norris is one of my favorite prospects and should be one of yours as well. Keep his name in mind over the next 20 months or so, because he'll be making a splash in Washington while Stephen Strasberg is making a push for his first Cy Young award.

Quick question, is the catcher position getting "deep"? There are a fair amount of highly regarded youngsters that are already in the majors, and we should see another handful or so in the next year.

Monday, October 4, 2010

All About the Playoffs

Dave Cameron of FanGraphs keeps the playoff story alive in proposing yet another idea for "improving" baseball down the stretch. Honestly, it's not a terrible idea, although I'm not sure it will solve any current "problems" while not annoying certain fan bases.

To me, the bigger issue is that we are rewarding teams for winning their division under any circumstance. Take the Texas Rangers, for example. Here's a team that if divisional winners weren't given the golden ticket (a mistake in my opinion) would have JUST made it into the playoffs. They finished one game above the Red Sox and two ahead of the ChiSox, two teams that were eliminated with more then a week left.

One has to wonder what kind of "extra effort" those teams put in if they knew it was about win #90 (a foreseeable goal with the Red Sox needing 15 and the Chi Sox needing 17 as of September 1st) instead of win #95 (based on the Yankees and Rays pace as of September 1st).

Likewise, authors have made a stink about a lack of drama in the American League East, but what about the lack of drama in the American League West?

Sadly the 2010 season didn't offer a lot of last week entertainment. Most teams were more concerned about setting up their rotations for the playoffs and wondering where they would play their first round of golf rather then digging deep and making a run of things. But keep in mind that the 2009 season had a division winner crowned on day #163.

Wait, let's look at 2009 again...

Wow, if teams weren't put into the playoffs based on geographical boundaries, we could have has a VERY exciting end to the season. While the Yankees, Angels, and Red Sox were all locks to make the playoffs and had things all but wrapped up a week in advanced, look at all the teams that come into contention if they are shooting for the 86 wins that both the Tigers and Twins settled in with.

We'd have the Rays, who finished with 84 and had the two best teams in the American League in their division (can't blame a team for packing that in). We'd also have the Rangers, who with 87 wins would have been the class of the final playoff spot, possibly providing a little more oomph with leading a race rather then trailing by 10 games. And we'd also have the Mariners, who with 85 wins might have had a shot.

2009 offered a little bit of drama with the Tigers and Twins fighting it out and needing an extra game, but imagine if those imaginary geographic lines didn't exist? There would have been 5 teams fighting the last days of the season for one playoff spot.

Maybe 2009 was a special case, how about 2008? Same thing, the American League Central went down to game #163 while two nearly equal teams, the Yankees and Jays were out with plenty of time left in the season.

What about 2007? Not too much excitement. Although having 88 wins and chasing two 94 win teams has got to look a lot nicer then chasing a single 94 and another with 96 as the Mariners and Tigers had to do respectively.

Then there is 2006, where a 90 win team didn't make the playoffs, while in the National League, an 83 win team made the playoffs with an 85 win team dusting off their fairway woods.

All of this is to say that the wild card isn't the issue. The wild card is predominantly rewarding one of the top teams in the league for being a top team. Is it taking some drama out? Certainly! But think how ridiculous the old system was where a team like the 2009 Red Sox, the team with the third most wins in the American League, would have been sitting at home.

The system, as is, works. It's not perfect, but it works. I would get rid of the geographical lines altogether, as it isn't as if the players are riding buses or non-chartered airplanes.
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