Sunday, October 31, 2010

Madison Bumgarner

Madison Bumgarner pitched eight shut out innings to move the San Francisco Giants one game closer to a World Series title. In the 4-0 victory over the Texas Rangers, Bumgarner just needed the two run home run from Aubrey Huff in the third inning.

In 121 major league innings, Bumgarner has a 3.31 so/bb ratio. Today, he struck out six and walked two. He was sharp from start to finish. Brian Wilson finished the game with two strikeouts in the ninth inning.

This game was mostly free of questionable managerial moves. Rangers manager Ron Washington didn't have an opportunity to blow this game. Sure, using Darren Oliver in a two run game was questionable, but the Rangers didn't score a single run.

Going into the World Series, I wrote about how close the starting pitching was between the Giants and the Rangers. Looking at the specific matchups, the Rangers had a clear edge with Colby Lewis over Jonathan Sanchez. Sanchez has the stuff to throw a dominating gem, but he also can walk a bunch of batters and get into early trouble. The Rangers also had the advantage with Cliff Lee over Tim Lincecum. Lincecum is an ace and he is capable of out pitching Lee on any given day so that advantage is very small. The Giants have a small edge with Matt Cain over C.J. Wilson, however, it isn't a large enough gap to make a huge difference. All of the games have gone as they should.

Including this game.

Bumgarner has a huge advantage over Tommy Hunter. It's not even close. Hunter doesn't strike out a lot of batters (career 5.1 so/9) and gives up a lot of home runs (career 1.4 hr/9). While he doesn't walk a lot of hitters (career 2.5 bb/9), his control isn't that great to offset the home runs and lack of strike outs.

It would have been fun to see Bumgarner pitch a complete game shut out, it wasn't the worst thing in the world to remove him after eight. That's all they needed from him tonight. And if this reaches a game seven, they will probably need him to replicate his dominance.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just Watch John Wall

I rarely write about basketball because it's hard to analyze. The available stats aren't that helpful. What I can gather is that: assists are overrated, rebounds are crucial, field goal percentage is the OBP of basketball and defense, like in baseball, is hard to measure without any doubt. Also, per 48 minute rate stats are more important than regular rate stats, point differential shows dominance and blocked shots are only good if it leads to a turnover.

I am a bigger basketball fan than baseball fan. Make no doubt about it. I watch YouTube mix tapes, high school slam dunk contest (remember David Lee beating James "Flight" White in 2001?), Slamball, DVR all-star weekend watch almost every NCAA tournament game and even watch women's college baskeball. Sorry, I don't watch the WNBA.

I'm only writing this because I want my picks on record (in no order).


It was hard to come up with an eighth team, believe me.


The Celtics play great defense and Rajon Rondo is a legitimate top tier point guard. The Heat have King Wade, Sidekick James, Third Wheel Bosh, Mike Miller and a bunch of stuff. Despite the Game 1 beat down from the Celtics over the Heat, I have the Heat in the finals. They'll play better together as the season goes on. The more I think about it though, James should've went to the Bulls. As good as Wade is, playing with super rebounder/defender Joakim Noah and superstud point guard Derrick Rose and their supporting cast gives him the best chance to not only win this year but for future years. But hey, Miami is an awesome city, amirite?

In the West, it's two teams: the Lakers and the Thunder. It's hard to bet against Kobe Bryant...unless he's playing a team with Kevin Durant. The key to this series is the huge advantage the Thunder have in the point guard spot. Russell Westbrook has an insane advantage over Derek Fisher. I will pick the Thunder over the Lakers.

In the Finals, I have the Thunder over the Heat. The Thunder's "big three" (and by the way, most teams have a "big three") have played well together and longer together than Miami's trio. I respect LeBron's game, Wade's game, but neither are on Durant's level.

And here is a mix tape featuring superstud John Wall:

Neftali Feliz is available to pitch the ninth

As I write the game two recap, the San Francisco Giants have a 9-0 lead over the Texas Rangers. Guillermo Mota is pitching with no men on, one out. If the Rangers score ten runs, Neftali Feliz is available for the save.

There are two outs now. Seems unlikely.

Why is that important? Because in the bottom of the eight, the score was 2-0, bases loaded, two outs. Feliz was not in the game. Derek Holland and the other relief pitchers managed to walk in runs, give up hits to guys named Aaron. Suddenly a close game was a blow out.

It was bad enough that Rangers manager Ron Washington went to Darren Oliver after C.J. Wilson left the game with a blister on his pitching hand (Fox gave an awkward close-up). Oliver, who wasn't horrible (and wasn't good), allowed the one runner Wilson left on base to score to make it a 2-0 game.

Mota just walked a batter. Jeff Francoeur is up. Mota vs. Francouer is Bizarro World Series pitching match-up, right? Strike one.

Unless Cliff Lee is pitching his A+ game (most of the time) or Wilson and Colby Lewis are pitching their A- game (sometimes), Washington has been exposed as a horrible in-game manager.

Francouer popped out. Game over. Here's your box score, which includes Matt Cain's effective start--per usual.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cliff Lee Loses Game 1 of the World Series

Did we ever think Cliff Lee would be on the mound when the team loses a game?

The hype machine created a story using Lee's success as the tie-in and ranked him eighth all time. I'm not here to kill Lee because he is an amazing pitcher. Just look at that 10.28 so/bb ratio this season.

In my World Series post, I mentioned this:

"You have to like the Rangers any time Cliff Lee and Colby Lewis take the mound. They figure to pitch in four games, and that is all the Rangers need to win the World Series. That said, Lee had 4 wins to 6 losses for the Rangers this year, and Lewis had 12 wins and 13 losses. But wait, wins and losses are a meaningless statistic and don't show how dominant Lee was with a 10.28 so/bb (second all time!) and Lewis with a 3.02 so/bb (comparable to Lincecum). Exactly, but the point in this case is that teams can win against those pitchers on the mound. It's unfair to assign those outstanding pitchers with team wins and losses, but there are so many variables in a game--starting and relief pitching, hitting, defense, speed and coaching."

The variables are the key to this game. In the fifth inning, balls dropped in for hits. Suddenly, the Giants were up 5 to 2 with two runners on and two outs. With a high pitch count and not getting outs, Rangers manager Ron Washington elected to take Lee out and replace him with Darren O'Day. The next batter, Juan Uribe, hit a three run home run to put the Giants up six. Variables: high pitch count for Lee, relief pitching.

In the eighth inning, Vladimir Guerrero was still playing right field. His horrible fielding contributed to a three run inning to put the game out of reach. Variables: defense, coaching.

All of this contributed to the Giants 11-7 win over the Rangers. While Cliff Lee wasn't great, he was only one piece of the Rangers loss. Starting and relief pitching, hitting, defense, speed and coaching: that's how the Rangers can lose games with Lee on the mound.

The minor subplot of the game: Giants manager Bruce Bochy used seven pitchers and three in the ninth inning to protect, at the time, a seven-run lead. Fortunately for Bochy, Washington's choice of playing Guerrero in right field for a full game overshadowed his odd bullpen usage.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Colby Lewis is a Legit Number Two Pitcher

Rob Neyer wrote about the advantages the Texas Rangers have over the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. He picked the Rangers in six games. He highlights the one area where the Giants seem to have an advantage over the Rangers, starting pitching, and disputes the big discrepancy. He says that the Rangers are at least equal to the Giants.

"The Rangers can certainly match the Giants' starters. Cliff Lee is just as good as Tim Lincecum and C.J. Wilson is just as good as Matt Cain, and Colby Lewis is just as good as Jonathan Sanchez.

Actually, Lewis is better than Sanchez."

Lee and Lincecum are true aces. The numbers support Lee this season, but both pitchers are capable of throwing a dominating game. In game five of the ALDS, Lee pitched a complete game, giving up one run, striking out 11, issuing zero walks and giving up no home runs. In game one of the NLDS, Lincecum pitched a complete game shut out, striking out 14 and walking one batter. We know what these former Cy Young winners are capable of doing on any given game.

It's the other pitchers I am interested in comparing.

C.J. Wilson: 129 ERA+, 4.1 bb/9, 7.5 so/9, 1.83 so/bb, 0.4 hr/9, 4.6 bWAR, 204.0 innings pitched

Colby Lewis: 116 ERA+, 2.9 bb/9, 8.8 so/9, 3.02 so/bb, 0.9 hr/9, 3.6 bWAR, 201.0 innings pitched

Matt Cain: 130 ERA+, 2.5 bb/9, 7.1 so/9, 2.90 so/bb, 0.9 hr/9, 3.9 bWAR, 223.1 innings pitched

Jonathan Sanchez: 133 ERA+, 4.5 bb/9, 9.5 so/9, 2.14 so/bb, 1.0 hr/9, 3.4 bWAR, 193.1 innings pitched

After looking at the numbers, they are all pretty similar so he was correct in his comparisons. It is also important to note that ERA+ is league adjusted and not adjusted for all of major league baseball. He was absolutely correct in saying that Lewis is better than Sanchez. Sanchez, while good, is not legit number two pitcher good. Lewis has much better control as indicated by fewer walks per nine innings. The difference in strikeouts per nine innings can be adjusted to the league differential. For instance, Lewis doesn't have the luxury of facing a pitcher a couple times through. It's pretty crazy considering Lewis wasn't pitching in the states last year.

The World Series Post

Before the playoffs started, I picked the Braves over the Rangers in the World Series. This was based on zero analysis. I wrote down the names of each playoff team and picked the teams based on match-ups. The point of that exercise was to show that World Series winners, more often than not, are random.

Ideally, some sort of Rays, Yankees and Phillies World Series combination was where the money was at, but in small game samplings, heroes can come from anywhere. That's where someone like Cody Ross can go from average major leaguer with some pop to NLCS MVP.

The Giants have great starting pitching in Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Jonathan Sanchez. The Rangers have super duper ace Cliff Lee, the severely underrated Colby Lewis and probable AL MVP and ALCS MVP Josh Hamilton.

You have to like the Rangers any time Cliff Lee and Colby Lewis take the mound. They figure to pitch in four games, and that is all the Rangers need to win the World Series. That said, Lee had 4 wins to 6 losses for the Rangers this year, and Lewis had 12 wins and 13 losses. But wait, wins and losses are a meaningless statistic and don't show how dominant Lee was with a 10.28 so/bb (second all time!) and Lewis with a 3.02 so/bb (comparable to Lincecum). Exactly, but the point in this case is that teams can win against those pitchers on the mound. It's unfair to assign those outstanding pitchers with team wins and losses, but there are so many variables in a game--starting and relief pitching, hitting, defense, speed and coaching.

My World Series prediction won't come from analysis or picking teams out of a hat but rather feeling after watching these games in which managers affect outcomes more so than not. Analysis is useful in predicting a full season and forecasting next season. It is still useful in predicting series winners, but it's such a small sampling that both teams have an equal shot of winning it all.

I like the San Francisco Giants to win the World Series. Both teams have a lot of talent, but I have a feeling Rangers manager Ron Washington will use Darren Oliver a little too much.

Tom Glavine IS a Hall of Famer

Earlier I questioned if Tom Glavine deserves to make it into the hall of fame.

Based upon his win total alone, he WILL make it into the hall of fame. There is no question about that. But as we know, wins are a meaningless number when determining if a pitcher is good or not.

In the end of my first post, I said that it is certainly debatable while remaining slightly in the undeserving side of the fence even after baseball writer Dave Cameron responded to my tweet question, "an easy yes."

I decided to tweet this question to another one of my favorite baseball writer's Jonah Keri after he was discussing Andy Pettitte:

"I can understand the reasons to not vote Pettitte. But what about Glavine? Not great so/bb rate, less FG WAR than K. Brown."

Keri replied:

"Sean Smith has Glavine with slightly higher WAR. I'd vote both Glavine and Brown in anyway."


"I just checked out B-R's WAR, and Glavine is ahead of Brown (and Pettitte). I guess the so/bb rate left me underwhelmed."


"Lots of great old-time pitchers had crappy K/BB rates too. Think of Glavine as a throwback. Pitched to his strengths."

There are two WARs: baseball reference and fangraphs. Both are great metrics. Glavine ranks 29th in bWAR. He is ahead of Juan Marichal, Bob Feller and Jim Palmer.

As for that underwhelming 1.74 so/bb rate, Keri was right. Some of the great pitchers of the past had poor so/bb rate. Palmer posted a 1.60 so/bb rate for his career, and Feller ended his career with a 1.46 so/bb rate. In addition, Glavine threw 4413.1 innings in his career and had 14 seasons pitching 200 or more innings. Glavine's hall of fame worth is in his innings pitched, longevity and pitching effectively in all of those innings (career 118 ERA+ and 3.95 FIP).

Tom Glavine--a throw back pitcher--and a hall of famer.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tim Lincecum and his gem

One day after Roy Halladay threw a no hitter, San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum throws a better game in a tighter spot. In the Giants 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves, Lincecum was one bad pitch away of losing the lead.

I couldn't hear the TBS announcers. I can imagine that they discussed pitch counts and "the next game." Am I wrong? Well, as we know from former Chicago Cubs manager Lou Pinella pulling game one starter Carlos Zambrano early to save him for the non existent game four? Lincecum gave the Giants the best chance to win this close game. Given that the Giants employ three other studs in Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner (meaning Lincecum won't be needed until the possible non existent game five), the decision was easy. In the end, he struck out 14, walked one.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

D-back Dan Haren vs. Angel Dan Haren

Was Dan Haren better as an Angel or as a Diamondback this year?

I raised this question after reading the comments from a Rob Neyer story about Roy Halladay's gem.

ressehilsborne said:

"I'm so tired of hearing about how pitching to the NL is so much easier. It's total ####, first of all your pitching to major league hitters in either sense it's not going to be easy in either league. But time and time again i hear the same story.

So you think the DH adds a lot more depth and strength to the AL? Then do me a favor and explain to me what went wrong with Dan Haren this year? Why is it he was able to dominate as an Angel and do awful as a Diamondback. Better yet, lets look at the entire career of Barry Zito. Dominated the AL, yet he cant even put up a winning season as a Giant.

Put the AL, NL #### to rest already and find some new material. Halladay pitching the way he did tonight would have cut any team in half, including his own."

I won't dabble in the AL vs. NL debate, but it was interesting to see how Haren fared as an Angel as opposed to his time this year with the Diamondbacks. If you recall, Haren had a "rough" going as a Diamondback. I put rough in quotes because his traditional numbers were pedestrian, but his rate stats were exceptional.

In 141 innings with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Haren had a 7-8 record and a 4.60 ERA. In 94 innings with the Los Angeles, California Angels of Anaheim, Haren had a 5-4 record and a 2.87 ERA. That being said, Haren in two of three categories had better rate stats. He posted 1.9 bb/9 and a 9.0 so/9 with the Diamondbacks, and 2.4 bb/9 and 7.4 so/9 with the Angels. The difference is that he gave up 1.5 hr/9 with the Diamondbacks as opposed to 0.8 hr/9 with the Angels. If we take a deeper look, we will see that he had a 3.88 FIP with the Diamondbacks and a 3.45 FIP with the Angels. His WAR with the Diamondbacks was 2.5 and his WAR with the Angels was 2.0. Now WAR is a counting stat, but it is safe to say that Haren was only a little bit better as an Angel than as a Diamondback this season. This is due to the fact that he had a higher home run rate with the Diamondbacks. The one thing we need to keep in mind in this analysis is the 47 inning difference. There's your answer, ressehilsborne.

Welcome to Doctober

Roy Halladay pitches a no hitter in his playoff debut. In beating the Cincinnati Reds, Halladay becomes the second pitcher to throw a no hitter in playoff history. This happens to be the second no hitter he has thrown this season--the first being a perfect game.

Great players do great things whether it be in the regular season or the playoffs. The thing about the playoffs is that it magnifies hot streaks or slumps. It is still shocking that Halladay pitched a no hitter, but it is not shocking that he struck out eight, walked one and gave up no home runs. His so/bb ratio for the season is 7.3, and his hr/9 is at .9. He threw nine complete games and four shut outs.

Halladay's gem was just as good as his last start of the season in which the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Washington Nationals 8-0. In that game, he threw a complete game shut out, giving up two hits, striking out six, walking none and of course giving up no home runs. The only difference is two balls fell for hits. In his brilliant playoff debut, he pitched ridiculously well and got a little lucky that not one ball dropped in for a hit. Striking out batters, not giving up free passes and limiting the long ball...well...that's what makes him amazing.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Baseball Playoff Predictions

Since the baseball playoffs are so random, I decided to draw names from a hat to make my predictions. If I were to do some real analysis, I'd say Rays over Phillies and write 1,000 words. But even with analysis, anything can happen. Yeah yeah. Cliche. But it rings true with baseball. That's how we end up with the St. Louis Cardinals winning the World Series with David Eckstein as the World Series MVP and Jeff Suppan as the NLCS MVP a few years ago.

Rangers vs. Rays


Yankees vs. Twins


Phillies vs. Reds


Braves vs. Giants


Yankees vs. Rangers


Braves vs. Phillies


Rangers vs. Braves


Your 2010 World Series champion, Atlanta Braves. Bobby Cox retires a winner. I picked the Yankees to beat the Braves early in the season. Random drawing picks the Braves over the Rangers. My logic picks the Rays over Phillies. So you know it's going to be Twins over the Reds.

The Brennan Boesch All-Stars Revisited

A few weeks before the All-Star break, I wrote about major league baseball players having unlikely breakout first halves. You can read it here. The purpose of this post was to see some of these guys come back to earth after an awesome first few months of the season. I will first restate the stats as of June 27, 2010 and then will compile their end of the season stats.

Brennan Boesch

.337/.389/.611 162 OPS+

.256/.320/.416 99 OPS+

Boesch essentially went from Albert Pujols numbers to a tick below average hitter.

Paul Konerko

.302/.396/.583 157 OPS+

.312/.393/.583 158 OPS+

Konerko had a very consistent season, and there's even talks about him for MVP. Those talks have softened a bit as the Chicago White Sox fell out of contention. Really, he's not even the best offensive first baseman in the American League. Still. There's nothing bad about those numbers.

Vernon Wells

.281/.336/.562 141 OPS+

.273/.331/.515 127 OPS+

Wells got off to a great start. He showed the skills that awarded him an insanely high contract. I called shenanigans. While he cooled off a bit, he had a fine season. His on base skills are average, but when he connects on a ball, he certainly drives it.

Alex Rios

.311/.369/.541 139 OPS+

.284/.334/.457 109 OPS+

The paragraph that describes Wells can be copy/pasted here. Minus the part where I wrote, "but when he connects on a ball, he certainly drives it."

Corey Hart

.272/.339/.576 144 OPS+

.283/.340/.525 132 OPS+

Hart made the All-Star team and was rewarded with a contract extension. He had a nice year, but I would be shocked if his production continues on to next season and beyond.

Josh Willingham

.277/.408/.498 144 OPS+

.268/.389/.459 129 OPS+

Did you know that Willingham's career OPS+ is 121? Did you also know that he is 31 years old? Nevertheless, he had a very good offensive season. The .408 on base percentage stuck out for me when I made this initial list, but a .389 on base percentage is very good.

Aubrey Huff

.298/.389/.520 138 OPS+

.290/.385/.506 138 OPS+

Huff remained consistent throughout the season, however, if you look at his career, there is nothing consistent about him. I wouldn't be shocked to see an OPS+ under 100 next season. That is, after San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean rewards him with a 3 year $40 million contract this off season.

Kelly Johnson

.264/.366/.494 121 OPS+

.284/.370/.496 128 OPS+

Johnson improved as the season went on. A second baseman with a good on base percentage and some power is a great commodity. He is truly an underrated player this season. It is hard to judge if he will continue this good performance or drop in production since there isn't a ton of games under his belt.

Max Scherzer is a Solid Two

In that big three way trade last off season, the Detroit Tigers came away with the best player--so far. Curtis Granderson made the most headlines, Edwin Jackson pitched an eight walk no hitter, but Max Scherzer is a true top of the rotation pitcher.

After heading to the minors, it didn't look like Scherzer was going to be better than another pitcher involved in the deal, Ian Kennedy. The two pitchers faced off, and I wrote about it. In the game recap, I wrote this:

"Going into this game, it looks like Kennedy has had a better year than Scherzer--especially if you use ERA as the basis of your argument. Scherzer has a 6.14 ERA and Kennedy has a 3.57 ERA."

And after doing some deeper analysis, I concluded with this:

"Both pitchers have very similar rate stats. If Scherzer can lower his home run rate to somewhere closer to his career of 1.1/9, his ERA will drop and if Kennedy can do the same, he will be able to sustain his ERA."

Now the season is over and here is how they ended up.


191 innings, 111 ERA+, 1.2 hr/9, 3.2 bb/9, 7.8 so/9, 2.40 so/bb, 2.5 fangraph's war


195.2 innings, 120 ERA+, .9 hr/9, 3.2 bb/9, 8.5 so/9, 2.63 so/bb, 3.7 fangraph's war

Both pitchers had nice seasons. Early on, it looked like Scherzer was going to flame out, but it is clear that Scherzer is turning into a stud.