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The Baseball Roundup (6/11/15)

June 11, 2015

OK, I’ll kick this off today with actual baseball!

Those Astros we got so excited about? They have now lost 7 in a row… Since I’m pulling for the Astros, here is the bright side: rookie George Springer had 5 hits and the recently promoted Vincent Velazquez pitched well. Obviously I want to see the Astros succeed this year, but I can stomach some losing as long as the future core develops for the future. Velazques pitched 5 scoreless innings of three hit ball, but did walk 4, striking out 5.

The offensively woeful Mariners somehow scored 9 runs in a game Nelson Cruz didn’t even play in. My dude Kyle Seager batted cleanup in his place and belted a grand salami, boosting my fantasy performance, and killing my Tribe. He finished 2/4, adding an RBI double. The Grand Slam came off of Jedi, Trevor Bauer. Jedi walked the three preceding batters to set him up… That includes Mike Zunio (batting .166) and the not-so-terrifying Robinson Cano (who has all of 2 home runs this year, which is fewer than the number of “what happened to Cano” articles that appeared just today…). Bauer gave up six runs, walked five and struck out five in 3 2-3 innings.

Cleveland is now 11 – 18 at home this year. So much for home field advantage. Moser, have you ever come across a look at how home field advantage has played out over the course of history? What’s the improvement? Are some stadiums seemingly better than others? Which teams, like squads, not franchises, were particularly good at home? Are there pitchers or batters who have absurd home – road splits?

Robinson Cano’s year has to be tough to swallow in Seattle. Guy inked a 240 million dollar deal over 10 years. Contracts like that scare me…

What are some of the best longterm contracts in baseball right now, you might ask?

1. Andrew McCutchen‘s 6 years for 51.5 mill has, and continues, to look great.

2. Anthony Rizzo‘s 7 for 41 million may look even better.

3. Obviously Paul Goldschmidt is on this list with 5 years for 32 million.

4. Chris Sale 5 years for 32.5 million looks great as he continues to be unhittable more often than not.

And, before I get to #5, let me say that I think Giancarlo Stanton’s deal might be worth it. Again, dude is leading the majors in homers right now and is having his worst year in the bigs. I suppose he could regress like Robinson Cano, except there is no Bronx – Safeco switch in his future. Which is why you shouldn’t be too surprised that #5 is a contract that the team should love, but still isn’t “cheap.”

5. Mike Trout at 6 years for 144.5 million. Best in the game right now, nuff said.

I’m really worried about Matt Harvey right now. I see a trip to the DL looming in Batman’s future… His last two starts were better than the 4 inning bust he had against Pittsburgh on May 23rd, but i don’t know how great his arm is feeling. He have given up 8 home runs over the last 4 starts and he struck out only 2 last night. He has allowed 18 earned runs over his last 18 innings.

Nori Aoki and Joe Panik combined to go 7 for 10 with a homer, four runs and two RBIs as the Giants roughed up Harvey and defeated the New York Mets 8-5. Panik now has a 14 game hitting streak intact. Brandon Belt hit one of San Francisco’s three homers off a struggling Harvey, and the Giants scored five times in the sixth – the most runs Harvey has allowed in one inning.

The Royals completed the sweep of the Twins, winning 7 – 2. Edinson Volquez went 7, striking out 6, Alex Gordon hit a home run, and Torii Hunter did a strip tease after being ejected for arguing balls and strikes. My boy Kyle Gibson didn’t pitch too poorly. He finished six innings with six strikeouts while allowing five hits and two walks.

Those Blue Jays you didn’t expect much offense from beat the Marlins 7 – 2. It’s their 8th straight win. I’m terrified of what that lineup is going to do to Matt Harvey during his next start, if he continues to throw BP. Rookie Scott Copeland pitched for Toronto. Copeland allowed one run and six hits in seven innings, struck out four and walked none. Justin Smoak, Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, and Jose Reyes all homered for the Jays. The homers came in two pairs of back to back dingers.

Ichiro had an RBI triple in the game!

Giancarlo Stanton batted cleanup for the first time this season in a bid to spark Miami’s offense.

Ben Lindbergh notes that there has been a serious injection of young, high profile players this year in the MLB. Check out the table of call ups with their rookie ranking shown: Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 4.40.58 PM

15 high profile call ups is the 6th most since 1990. The average number of high profile call-ups in a year is about 12. More prospects are likely on the way. His suggestion is that its because this year seems so wide open and there for the taking that GMs are going for it. I think I buy that. Thoughts?

I’ll hit one entertainment note before I go for a run. Last time I was studying in Europe was 2007 and I was in Madrid. Like now, it seemed like the worst time to be out of Cleveland. In 2007 the Tribe was surging towards its obvious World Series title and I spent every morning, from 4 – 8 am glued to the computer watching games (we had a SlingBox). I’m not quite so crazy these days and haven’t managed it for the Cavs. But, in Madrid that fall I read a 900 page tome called “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” by Suzanne Clarke. It’s fantastic and I have been waiting for the sequel that would surely come since. Not so lucky. BUT, on Saturday, BBC America is premiering a 7 part mini-series inspired by the book. When I heard this, I assumed it would be fantastic (just like the book). I’m happy to report that Grantland is calling it “Your Ready-Made Thrones Replacement,” which is a BIG BIG recommendation. Since you’re about to head for New Haven – the land that lost TV – and I think it would be hard for me to stream a BBC America show online, I propose to you that we will have something truly “magical” waiting for our fall return to Houston.

You’re up.

Kevin:

Well, you lured me into the wormhole. What the hell is happening to the Tribe? They are currently 11-18 at home, and 16-13 on the road. This seems bad, and seems kind of rare. So I took a look in depth for the past 5 years, and briefly for every season since 2000. This is what I found…

On average, about 4 teams per year finish with a worse home record than road record, so this by itself is not that noteworthy. Let’s delve a little deeper, looking at all teams that finished with a worse home record each year from 2010 thru 2014, and sometimes one or two other notable home losers.

2010: Cubs -5

2011: FLA -10, NYM -9

2012: MIN -4, NYM -2

2013: NYM -8. MIN -2

2014: SEA, TB, KC -5, MIN 0

Couple things we notice…The Mets have really had some stretches of being awful at home. As have the Twins. Drew claims that the fans in Minnesota are great, is the evidence otherwise? The Indians are on pace to have 31 home wins and 45 road wins. This -14 differential would be more than any season since at least 2000. Weirdly, they aren’t on pace for the worst differential this season. The Rangers are on pace for 34 home wins and 49 road wins. Seems like one of these two teams could make history.

Some trends and patterns definitely emerged, that at least make intuitive sense. The teams that were consistently at the top of the leaderboard: STL had seasons of +12, 12, 11, and 8 during that five year run. Colorado had seasons of +24, 16, 21, and 3 over the same 5 year stretch. SD had a 19, 14 and 8. These all make a lot of sense, and likely represent some of the best homefield advantages in the sport. Colorado is playing at the Mile High altitude, STL has some of the best fans in the game, and SD is a notorious ‘pitcher’s park.’ The Astros also had pretty good splits during this time. It makes me wonder why more teams don’t get really weird with their ballparks. Though I didn’t break the numbers down enough to know whether the win differentials are because they are playing better at home because of the unique situation, or worse on the road. One is awesome for your team, one is actively harming your team. Perhaps this can be my Master’s thesis when I decide to pursue graduate Mathematics. In fact, this blog can be my launching point to have my entire degree focused on math in baseball.

Other interesting notes, over the past 5 years the Indians splits have been: +11,+10,+8,+7,+6….So before this year the Indians have consistently been better at home. What happened? I think we should blame it on LeBron James. The city is so wrapped up in basketball that we no longer care about baseball! The King returns, and the poor pitching staff can’t get any run support, and the team doesn’t get the love they usually have in the stands. While this is unlikely, it is plausible. The more likely reason is the team can’t play any defense at all. What else did I notice: teams with less wins at home typically have shit records for the season. Many teams are sub .500 on the road, but a stellar home record keeps them in contention. If you have no home wins, it’s tough to buffer the typical difficulties on the road. I think that this is primed for regression, the question becomes in which direction. I suspect, sadly, that they will start piling up road losses. The hope would be the opposite happens and they start putting together home victories. Cleveland is hopping, and if we throw our support behind the Tribe after Lebron and the Lebronettes finish up, perhaps we can push them into contention…(While I know the ‘home support’ likely makes little to no difference, this is the kind of fun sports storyline I’m willing to suspend disbelief for).

When we talk about sustainability, I have to mention this article from fangraphs. It points to some of those teams we continue to ask about. The Twins, Astros, etc. Couple interesting things: wild that the standings correlate so much more closely with the preseason predictions, than from the first 1/3 of the season. Also, we talk about regression to the mean. This shows that very well. Even the 25 biggest overachievers, using 58 games played, would have averaged 35 wins through that points. They would average, at a .493 winning percentage, 51 wins the rest of the way. This means they would still finish with 86 wins. While not likely playoff bound, this is a solid team. And, that is just the average. Only slightly overperforming that average the rest of the way, likely gives a team a playoff spot. This is what I always harp on with regression. You don’t expect the team to regress all the way back to the expectation, you expect them to perform at that average the rest of the way….For instance, a career .300 BABIP guy…If he bats .500 on balls in play the first half of the season, it would be a great bet he finishes well above .300 for the season. Likely right around .400 assuming he hits .300 the rest of the way. Meaning, as we go further and further into the season, we expect a team or player’s overperformance to have a greater effect on the season as a whole, and the ‘regression to the mean’ to have less and less effect. Definitely worth pondering when picking playoff teams, etc.

You mentioned that the Twins saw their manager ejected..The most ejected managers list is actually pretty impressive.

Starting from number 10…Torre, Maddon, Scioscia, Guillen, Francona, Bochy, Wedge, Manuel, Gardenhire, Cox.

Lots of World Series Titles there. Again, this is statistically unfair. Obviously guys that win titles have long careers. And guys with long careers have plenty of opportunities to get thrown out. Still kind of fun list though.

Last thought from me…Gallo struck out only once again last night, so he now has 15 through 8 games. Still on pace for 208, but no longer on pace to break the record. The career record is Mark Reynolds, striking out once ever 2.6 at bats. At that pace Gallo would only have 12 strikeouts.  Gallo is striking out once every 2.1 at bats, which would shatter basically every single season strikeout record, Reynolds included. We could be watching history.

Responded to a couple of your thoughts, can’t get to the games. I’ll do more around the leaguing tomorrow, assuming I don’t get swept up in Cavalier Mania again. Keep up the French.

Au Revoir

 

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