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A Baseball Blog - Scientific and Speculative Thoughts from Third Base

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jack Wilson Retires

I’ve mentioned a few times that I used to live in Pittsburgh when I was younger and tried to be a Pirates fan for a bit. Brian Giles and Jason Kendall were undoubtably the two stars of that time, but after them was probably Jack Wilson, who announced the other day that he was retiring.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, the Triple Crown, and Other Early AL MVP Thoughts

I wanted to write something about the AL MVP race. As you probably know, Miguel Cabrera hit his 42nd home run of the year yesterday, tying him with Josh Hamilton. With his .331 average (8 points above Mike Trout) and 133 RBI (10 ahead of Hamilton), he now stands with a very realistic shot at the Triple Crown with 10 games left.

Because of that, some people have begun advocating for him to win the MVP Awards based on the Triple Crown instant-win clause which was apparently secretly added to the voting criterion after Ted Williams’ 1947 season (his second time losing the MVP in a Triple Crown season, actually).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ben Zobrist: Underrated, Unique, and Other Thoughts (200th Post!)

I have long been impressed with Ben Zobrist. Ever since his breakout 2009 season, he’s flown under the radar to an almost absurd extent. 2012 marked his third straight year as an All-Star snub.

For all intents and purposes, his career began in that 2009 season. That was the first season with more than 62 games or 227 plate appearances. That year, he had a .297/.405/.543 batting line, good for a 149 OPS+ (meaning his OPS was 49% better than league average). He fell off to a 96 mark the following year (which still isn’t that bad), then rebounded to marks of 132 and 136 for the past two years.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Problems of the Second Wild Card

In case you don’t know, I have several problems with the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement. Most of the draft and international free agent changes and restrictions are bad enough, but the second wild card in each league was an unnecessary and ridiculous change to something that not only didn’t need fixing, but which actually affects the quality of the game at the Major League level.

Friday, September 14, 2012

More on Stephen Strasburg's Shutdown

I didn’t really intend to write more about Stephen Strasburg. I already covered the issue once, and that was going to be it. But, even with the shutdown upon us, more information on the decision has come out.

First is the interesting one: Dr. Lewis Yocum, the surgeon who repaired Strasburg’s ligament last year, originally claimed that he wasn’t consulted when determining the (approximately) 160-inning limit. Even though he later clarified that he agreed that Strasburg should be limited in some way, there isn’t any real indication that he provided them with an actual number.

Yocum mentions that there’s been no study on the correct way to handle pitchers returning from Tommy John surgery which is technically true. But Rany Jazayerli, one of the foremost researches on the subject of young pitcher injuries, has a very interesting new piece up at Grantland. I would definitely recommend reading the whole thing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Analyzing Buster Olney's "Hall of Famers Playing Today" Article

Over the weekend*, ESPN’s Buster Olney decided to look at current players and their Hall of Fame cases. Since Hall of Fame debates are always interesting and I looked at the Hall recently, why not compare notes on Cooperstown?

*For the record, I would have run this on Monday if not for Nick Markakis’ hand injury. That was just a little too time-sensitive to push back.

The biggest problem I have is that I have no idea what criteria Olney was going by exactly. In the intro, for example, he mentions a bunch of players that I think he considers locks. I usually don’t have a problem with that, except for (in this case) his choice of players: Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Mariano Rivera, Jim Thome, Alex Rodriguez*, Omar Vizquel, and Andy Pettitte.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nick Markakis' Injury Is Kind of Bad, and Other Thoughts

The Orioles lost Nick Markakis on Saturday for more or less the rest of the season following his broken thumb. There are several ways I want to look at this.

First, there’s what it means from the standpoint of the Orioles’ playoff chances. It’s definitely not good; losing any of your starters is, in general, bad. Losing a starter in September, when there’s no way to replace them through trade or waiver move, is even worse. Even with expanded rosters, if the Orioles had someone immediately capable of stepping in and replacing Markakis’ production, he should, in theory, already be on the roster and playing.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Retired Numbers Series: San Diego Padres

The San Diego Padres were one of the four teams that joined Major League Baseball in 1969, along with the Seattle Pilots (Milwaukee Brewers), Kansas City Royals, and Montreal Expos (Washington Nationals). Despite their relative youth, they’ve already retired five numbers, second-most among expansion teams. And so, they become the next team covered in the Retired Numbers Series; what does the future hold for the Padres and their honored players?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bryce Harper, Wade Miley, and the Meaning of the Rookie of the Year

There are fewer than thirty games left in the season. I find that shocking, for some reason. There still seems so much left ahead of us, but no team has more than thirty games left. With the stretch run so close, now seems like as good a time as any to look at the NL Rookie of the Year race, like I’ve been meaning to.

People say that the Most Valuable Player award is rather ambiguous in intent. Is it for the player that provided the most value to their team, regardless of how good their team did? Or should the team also be in playoff contention? I think the argument is pretty clearly on the side of the player that provided the most value period, regardless of their team’s standing.

That ambiguity is nowhere close to that in the Rookie of the Year Award. Is it for the Best Season by a Rookie, or the Best Rookie? You may be asking, what difference does that make? Basically, the argument can be easily summarized this season.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Retired Numbers Series: New York Mets

With over fifty seasons, four pennants, and two World Series wins, the New York Mets have one of the more storied histories among the expansion teams in Major League Baseball. With that kind of legacy, they looked to make an interesting next entry in the Retired Number Series. What numbers might the Mets retire over the next decade or so?