Table of Contents

Monday, April 17, 2006

Today in Baseball (4/17/06)

Lots to talk about tonight... this is more of a "this week in baseball" than simply today's news and links:

On Pujols
Reds fans can take some heart after yesterday's pummeling by the mighty stick of Alberto Pujols. Craig Burley used Bill James' "Favorite Toy" to predict Pujols' chances of breaking several offensive records. The numbers are frightening. According to this analysis (which, of course, should be used for entertainment purposes), Pujols has a 4% chance of breaking the all-time hits record, a 21% chance of breaking the doubles record, a 20% chance of breaking the pre-Barry home run record, a 14% chance at breaking the RBI record, and a 21% chance of breaking the all-time runs record. That's pretty remarkable given that he's only 26 and is in his 6th MLB season.

Side note: did you realize that Pujols' lowest OPS of his career is 0.955? Happened his sophomore year, 2002. He also had career lows in OBP (0.394), SLG (0.561), homers (34), and total bases (331) that year. Top 4 most similar batters through age 25: Joe DiMaggio, Frank Robinson, Jimmie Foxx, and Hank Aaron. Amazing.

Two-Market Cities
Last week, Nate Silver posted a study at Baseball Prospectus on how teams in two-market cities affect one anothers' attendance. Interestingly, in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, increased attendance for one team resulted in increased attendance for the other team! This was very much consistent with the findings of my attendance study, which indicated that the interaction between teams in two-market cities may not, in fact, be entirely negative. The exception in Silver's study, however, was in Chicago. When the Cubs have made more revenue, the White Sox have also benefitted. However, the opposite was not true: increases in revenue for the White Sox actually decreased attendance revenue for the Cubs. Why that would be the case, I haven't the foggiest. Nevertheless, the effect isn't enormous and doesn't eliminate the overall conclusion: most of the time, the success of one team in a market has a beneficial effect on the other team in that market. Silver ends his piece with this quote, which I think is a nice insight:
In any event, general managers are wasting their time if they’re worrying about competing with the second team in their market. Rather, they should be thinking about ways to cooperate, such as joint marketing initiatives or even cross-town partial season ticket plans. All of this, by the way, should be great news for baseball--the game itself is stronger than any one franchise. Baseball needn’t be a zero-sum game; in fact, the opposite is true.
The Enquirer on the Fielding Bible
In the ongoing, almost unprecedented amount of publicity for a baseball statistics book, the Enquirer did a write-up on the Reds' performance in John Dewan's The Fielding Bible. Enquirer writer John Erardi did a great job explaining how the +/- system, which is at the heart of the Fielding Bible, works. Erardi also pointed out some of the key findings of the book on the Reds: the entire Reds' team, and the Griffey/Dunn outfield tandem in particular, performed well below average. Lopez is an average fielder, while Kearns is a plus outfielder.

I have been using the Dewan Plus-Minus system in the Fielding Bible for several weeks here as one of the stats in my Better Know a Red features, as well as other comments on player transactions. I refer to it as "Dewan+-," and adjust his stats as if the player played 150 9-inning games to allow comparision of reserves and starters. With that adjustment, I've found it to be an extremely insightful system when evaluating fielding.

The book also contains some additional statistics that were not mentioned in the Enquirer review. In particular, it evaluates performance on bunts among first and third basemen, how well second basemen and shortstops turn double plays, and how well outfielders prevent runners from taking an extra base. There is also a new system by Bill James (relative range) that uses traditional fielding stats, like assists and putouts, to rate player fielding stats for any player over the past century. I highly recommend this book to any who might be interested in answering questions about fielding performance.

No Black on Reds Jerseys in '07
In what is, in my opinion, an unfortunate development, the Post reports that the Reds are removing black trim from their uniforms next year. I was very excited when the black came into the Reds' uniforms some years back. I think the uniforms look really sharp, and I've personally gone through three of those sweet black-cap-red-bill fitted hats.

There's talk that navy might be used instead, as was the case in the '40's and '50's. That's better than the straight red, white, and grey of the 80's. But I gotta say, I'll miss the black. But I also realize that I may be in the minority on this, at least in the Reds' blogosphere.

On Tonight's Game
Nice to see the Reds bounce back after a tough loss on Sunday. Props to Dunn, Kearns, Hatteberg, Valentin, and 3-for-4 Brandon Phillips. Heck, all the starters got at least one hit. But most of all, serious props to Claussen for 7 shutout innings in GABP! I listened to the first 3 innings or so--Claussen threw a lot of pitches early on, but really cranked up the efficiency to make it through seven on 108 pitches.

And Chris Hammond threw a shutout inning! That's two straight. Only 5 more of those and he'll be down to a 9.00 ERA. G'luck to Milton tomorrow.