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The Baseball Roundup (6/15/15)

June 15, 2015

Tony:

Reading your thoughts on my Cleveland observation was heartening. It’s something I’ll continue to think about. Perhaps it’s an overreaction to say that it’s not a sports city because the Tribe isn’t drawing lately. I will note, however, that your claim that “40 percent of your conversations [in Cleveland] will drift back to the sports teams here” is interesting, given that the percentage wasn’t even close to that when we lived in Cleveland from 2012 – 2014… You yourself have noted that we watch more, and talk about sports more, now that we are in Houston…

As for Greinke. Statistically he is close to pace for the hall of fame if you track average WAR by age. By 30 a future hall of fame starter could be expected to have 38.3 WAR. Greinke has 39.4. Cole Hamels actually fits the bill too, with 40.4. I don’t think either will make the hall of fame… Grinke’s 1 Cy Young, 3.48 career ERA, and 128 wins just aren’t awe inspiring enough. Worse, people will remember that after his 2.16 ERA in his Cy Young year, he racked up a 4.17 ERA the next year. While Cole Hamels has been more steady, he is screwed too. He has fewer wins, a slightly better ERA, but no Cy Youngs. Both of these guys are very, very good pitchers. But they aren’t “great.” For one thing, both have pitched for teams and NOT been the ace while still in their prime. Greinke with Kershaw and Hamels with Lee.

The Hall of Fame is also much tougher for starters than other positions…

We went from the 1999 election all the way to the 2011 election [Blyleven] with no starters being inducted… Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine [2014] represent the first pitchers to make the Hall of Fame while debuting after 1970.

60 players have been inducted to the Hall primarily as starters. Half of them debuted in the dead ball era... That means about five decades of dead ball (the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, 1900s, and ‘10s).

That means the subsequent six-and-a-half decades, during which time there were multiple expansions (heck, the American League didn’t exist until 1901) as well as growth in the base from which the MLB draws it players (remember, there were no non-white players in the Deadball era, and almost no non-Americans), there have been just as many pitchers inducted. That’s just a little absurd. Compare this with the hitters: 147 of them have made the Hall, but only 30 of them debuted pre-1920.

Why is this the case? Here are some thoughts…

Well, the obvious reason would be that voters don’t understand pitchers. I mean, think about it; up until maybe a decade and a half ago, the premiere way to evaluate pitchers was still the win. And remember, this was within the front offices themselves, pre-Moneyball. It’s fair to say that sportswriters haven’t been as quick to adopt new thinking.

So, writers have still by and large stuck to the win as the currency of the pitcher, a relic from the days of when pitchers threw every second or third game, usually a full 9 innings, wrapping up a win or loss that was largely influenced by themselves.

Another issue, I think, is a failure to understand and adjust for context. Consider this: in 1901, there were sixteen teams. There were eight future Hall of Fame starters playing that year; every other team had a future Hall of Fame starter. That’s, like, our definition of an ace today.* And this wasn’t even one of those crazy eras, packed with Frankie-Frisch-led Veterans Committee picks (like 1928, with eleven starters making the Hall).

2015 did see three more pitchers inducted: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz. But Smoltz was also bolstered by his years as a closer. But you’ll notice that the lest 5 pitchers were obvious choices. You’re listing the best pitchers from 1995-2005ish minus Roger Clemens, who is tainted by drugs. Pettite might also already be in if not for drugs. But the point is, there are no “really good” guys of the Greinke/Hamels level. I’m thinking of like a Kevin Appier… Maybe a Mike Mussina?

Who are we watching now that I think has a good shot at the Hall? First thought is Clayton Kershaw. He has 3 Cy Youngs, and MVP, a Cy Young runner up, 39.7 WAR (the expected WAR is 18.15 for a 26 year old), a 2.52 ERA and 103 wins… Up next would be King Felix Hernandez. His 45.4 WAR smashes the 27.5 WAR benchmark for 28 year olds. He also has a Cy Young and 2 runners up, more wins than Greinke (134) and a 3.09 ERA. The way too young guess would be Chris Sale, but you can’t even make a case at this point, and the most likely for a late surge would be Max Scherzer

In terms of the next year or two, Schilling is the guy I would bet makes it in, and likely Clemens when the drug stuff calms down some.

Anyway, speaking of Max Scherzer… He was out of control last night. 9 innings, 1 hit, 1 BB, 16 Ks. The no hitter was lost on a broken bat, bloop single by Carlos Gomez. Scherzer also hit a single in the fourth. Going into the seventh, he had reached base more than the Brewers. Obviously not much else to report in the box score here. Anthony Rendon was 1/3 and Bryce Harper didn’t play.

The Tribe got clobbered by Detroit, losing 8 – 1. Jason Kipnis was 2/4, as was Brandon Moss who homered. But Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana were 0/8, stranding 7 runners. Corey Kluber wasn’t his usual self, striking out only 2, but he only surrendered 2 runs and 5 baserunners in 5 innings. Scott Atchison and Ryan Webb each got tagged for 3 out of the bullpen. Miggy was 3/4 with a homer. He is now hitting .341. Your boy JD Martinez also homered again, going 2/4.

The sole bright side for the Tribe was Francisco Lindor‘s first major league hit. The rope looked like an easy double until the rookie face planted rounding first.

Houston SMOKED Seattle, 13 – 0. Rookie Lance McCullers had a very nice start for my fantasy squad, throwing 5 inning of no hit ball. He did was as many (4) as he struck out. Still. Everyone hit for the Astros. Evan GAAAATTTTIIIIS was 4/5, and Luis Valbuena recorded his 14th home run. The only person to hit for Houston last night and not get a hit was first baseman Chris Carter. Obviously no one hit for Seattle…

My third starter pitching last night was Chris Sale, who was also lights out, yet somehow still wound up with the loss. Sale struck out 12 in 6 2/3rd innings. His only mistake was a 2 run shot to Asdrubal Carbrera.It was Cabrera’s third homer this season, and first since May 19. He has just two extra-base hits over his last 19 games. Sale became the first pitcher since Boston’s Pedro Martinez in 2001 to strikeout 12 or more in four straight starts.

Some more info on Sale courtesy of Si.com:

Sale is just the third pitcher since records were first available in 1914 to have four straight 12 or more strikeout starts. Martinez did it three times and Randy Johnson once. The duo will enter the Hall of Fame together this summer. … He has a franchise career-best 24 double-digit strikeout games. … It was the first time that a White Sox pitcher had 12 or more strikeouts, allowed three hits or fewer, and lost. … Sale was two short of his career-high pitch total of 127.

Some moustachery? Rollie Fingers would have pitched one more season in the majors. Except the Reds wouldn’t let him keep his mustache. This and much more is detailed in C. Trent Rosecrans’ story about Greg Vaughn and the demise of the organization’s longstanding policy.

The Blue Jays scored a whopping 13 more runs in their victory over the Red Sox last night. It’s their 11th straight win, which ties a team record. What’s crazy though? The Blue Jays have scored 88 runs in their streak, including 31 this weekend in Boston. Remember how you were anointing the the Eduardo Rodriguez trade a crazy “steal” a week ago? Rodriguez gave up nine runs on eight hits and three walks in 4 2-3 innings. To be fair, Andrew Miller got himself landed on the DL in the meantime, so…

Anyway, most of the offense for the Blue Jays came from the bottom of the order last night. Russell Martin was 3/4 with 2RBI, Danny Valencia went 2/4 with 2 RBI, Kevin Pillar was 2/5 with an RBI, and Ryan Goins, from the 9 hole, went 2/5 driving in 5 RBIs.

Pablo Sandoval went 2/4 for the sox. That doesn’t change the fact that he should probably stop switch hitting...

The chart porn is even nastier than that GIF…

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 5.00.21 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 5.00.31 PM

Ugly year for the Panda so far… Especially from the right side, but it doesn’t look like it’s an anomaly…

Hoping to turn on a an equally Game of Thrones finally here in just a minute. Before I do, I’ll answer your questions: totally OK of Brienne of Tarth is killed off (would probably celebrate). If you need me to go more high profile, I could survive Cerci going down with relative ease. Would most hate to see Arya killed off after having invested so much time into that story line. Show might be ruined for me if D goes down though, only because… well what the hell had we been doing for the last 3 seasons if she’s gone. I guess that’s along the same thought process as Arya. Honorable mention goes to Tyrion who is tasked with saving D, and for me, the show (not that I hate the show. Just that we are 5 seasons in now, this is when a show has logically run its course in my head, so to keep me as geeked on a week to week basis next year, I suspect I need a strong showing from the little man). I think he is the the MVP potential vet that could take next season to great heights.

I love you’re celebrity softball concept. Here’s the thing, your proposal isn’t all that crazy or novel. We are down for celebrity softball, but it IS softball, so you can’t just trot out Lady Gaga. Bring in celebrity athletes – so obvious! My evidence that people will love it? I went to the JJ Watt Charity Softball Game with Catie this summer and loved it. Was mesmerized. So we already know your “let’s watch athletes play a different sport” concept is a winner. Why was it good?

1) The guys that are good at baseball destroy the guys that aren’t. I watched Brian Hoyer snag like 6 ropes to the gap that kept the defense off the base paths.

2) Watching a guy with as much raw power as JJ Watt hit a baseball is awesome. Russell Wilson put on a show at his own Charity game a couple years ago…

3) The guys that are pure athletes are hilarious fielding. These guys that are so fluid when we normally see them on baseball are pure agony making plays. From what I saw, they will make them, but you can SEE the concentration on their faces and the unfamiliarity in their movements, which is so cool! They become human. Which almost makes their physical abilities jump off the page even more – here is a guy that doesn’t have much experience catching baseballs making a running grab in left field. Awesome.

4) They were having fun, and it’s fun to watch these guys that are always so intense have fun. BUT…

5) They clearly wanted to win! No one was going to throw a tantrum if their team lost, and no one was going to blow out a knee for the win, but they were trying! Much more than can be said of Drew Carey when I saw him in 1997…

Who should manage those teams? I don’t think it matters, but shit. Get Phil and Pop for grins and see if they can somehow turn it into a chess match. Any iterated game for those two likely would, so bring them back every year! And keep a winning percentage to motivate em…

And as for you actors team? I’m down to try. As long as they do…

We will talk movies on another strand. Needless to say, your inclusion of Kurt Russell on the celebrity team made me super happy. Like I said, he has been all over my screen recently. More on that later…

Finally… I can’t address the Cavs right now. But, of course I was looking at recaps and highlights this morning. I came across this picture:

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 3.31.14 PM

Allegedly that’s Klay during the national anthem last night. I’m 90% POSITIVE that its a screen shot from NBA2K15. Am I crazy? The jumbotron in the upper right suggests it’s real, but… Regardless, the fact that I can even reasonably suspect that is such a testament to how insane that game (and specifically its graphics and player construction) is. This picture was the moment I understood why Catie would come in while we were playing that game and be surprised to find out it wasn’t on TNT…

Also, this is SO SWAGTASTIC:

That face he makes! Of course, it has nothing on…

It’s simple…

Kevin:

…..

Tony:

This may be the longest stretch I’ve gone without hearing from the boy in like 3 years… Hope that Cavs game didn’t send him over the edge.

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