Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

Quick Content Update:

Two of our favorite features from baseball season will live on this season, though I still have no plans to re-start this site any time soon.

Voodoo Sabermetrics will now run on the far superior baseball site Babes Love Baseball.

Smells Like Pujols will be rejiggered a bit to determine the potential of minor league prospects to make the bigs, and run on my more focused sister site Bus League Baseball.


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coolbaugh.jpgMike Coolbaugh had only been coaching first base for the Tulsa Drillers for a few weeks before a line drive struck him in the head and killed him. To the players and administrators at Tulsa’s parent club, the Colorado Rockies, that makes no difference. Coolbaugh was family, and you take care of family. In this case, taking care of family means voting a full playoff share to Coolbaugh’s wife, Amanda, and his young children Joseph and Jacob.

Rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who was with Hurdle at a press conference when the manager revealed the players’ decision, said some of the veteran players brought up the idea and the rest of the squad agreed.

“We decided as a team … it was the right thing to do,” Tulowitzki said.


And with that, the Rockies’ already impressive run to the MLB playoffs becomes inspirational and meaningful outside of the events on the field. Kudos to the elated Colorado palyers in the wild-card hunt for taking time out to remember what life is really about.

(Originally posted on Bus League Baseball)

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Usually I’m pumping up my own contributions to the MSM, but sometimes I get the happy feeling that comes with promoting others. Today, it’s one of my favorite baseball writers – Adam Godson from Bugs & Cranks. He put his Cubs knowledge to work and published a piece about Chicago reliever Carlos Marmol over at Chicago Sports Weekly (the bloggers friend):

Read it here (page 14)

And don’t stop there – I enjoy every writer who works for CSW – they’re a force to be reckoned with.

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All season long, I have rated the rookies against the staggering 2001 totals of Albert Pujols. Not today. Today, they stand against only their fellow rookies. Here are final stats for the first-year hitters, including the one-game playoff for Kouzmanoff and Tulowitzki.

R. Braun MIL 113 451 91 146 26 6 34 97 15 29 112 .324 .634
A. Gordon KC 151 543 60 134 36 4 15 60 14 41 137 .247 .411
J. Hamilton CIN 90 298 52 87 17 2 19 47 3 33 65 .292 .554
A. Iwamura TB 123 491 82 140 21 10 7 34 12 58 114 .285 .411
K. Kouzmanoff SD 145 484 57 133 30 2 18 74 1 32 94 .275 .457
D. Pedroia BOS 139 520 86 165 39 1 8 50 7 47 42 .317 .442
H. Pence HOU 108 456 57 147 30 9 17 69 11 26 95 .322 .539
T. Tulowitzki COL 155 609 104 177 33 5 24 99 7 57 130 .291 .479
C.B. Young AZ 148 569 85 135 29 3 32 68 27 43 141 .237 .467
D. Young TB 162 645 65 186 38 0 13 93 10 26 127 .288 .408
R. Willits LAA 136 430 74 126 20 1 0 34 27 69 83 .293 .344

Some interesting stats there. I had assumed that Ryan J. Braun would dominate in multiple categories, but he really didn’t. It was only in the crucial power categories that he truly shone. Troy Tulowitzki was able to contribute more runs and RBIs in the Colorado lineup, and does, indeed, make a very strong case for the NL ROY crown.

In the AL, Pedroia had an amazingly low 42 strikeouts. I had assumed that the low K total would go to a player with fewer games under his belt, but Dustin was on the Boston roster from day one, so kudos to him for his amazing patience at the plate. He also legged out more doubles than any other player, which makes him the best offensive threat for the American League ROY.

willits.jpgDelmon Young started his personal iron man streak, going all 162 games and amassing a bone-crushing 645 at bats on a terrible team. He nearly missed #162 by pissing off his skipper, but had the good sense to apologize. Reggie Willits contributed to the playoff-bound Angels as well, walking 69 times and stealing 27 bases, tied with Arizona’s Chris B. Young.

The triples award goes to the speedy Akinori Iwamura. The Japanese import legged out a nice, round ten three-baggers. He will likely have to learn a new position next year to make way for Evan Longoria, but nothing can diminish that speed and determination.

The players who didn’t master any category were Alex Gordon, Josh Hamilton, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Hunter Pence. Three of them were hampered by their team prospects, and Kouzmanoff was kind of a jack-of-all-trades for the Padres, who narrowly missed the postseason on Monday. All four were great players, and should figure prominently in team plans next season.

Look out for Dustin Pedroia, Troy Tulowitzki, Chris B. Young, and Reggie Willits in the playoffs this year. I feel like I know a great deal about these guys and know what to expect from them by now, and I hope you do as well.

Enjoy the post season!

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It was an incredible one-game playoff last night. I live-blogged it at Awful Announcing and quite a few readers stayed up for the whole thing, to the tune of 173 comments. It was a five-hour extra-innings emotional wringer, so I may just rest on my laurels for much of today.

With one exception. If baseballreference.com gets last night’s stats loaded in, I’ll update the SLP standings for Kouzmanoff and Tulowitzki. My big plan after that is to do a final, end-of-season breakdown of how our rookies stacked up. I already know that Delmon Young is the games-played leader, for instance, because he played all 162. But I’m looking forward to seeing which players topped out in other categories.

I’ve turned in some work for both Awful Announcing (a recap of the TBS baseball experience) and Storming the Floor (team and conference previews are starting! Today, the Big 12 and Clemson!), so if you can’t go a day without reading me (which I suspect you can, sadly), check those two places.

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If you’ve been following SLP all season (and I know you have), then you know Kevin Kouzmanoff and Troy Tulowitzki. In addition to having alliterative names which are delightful reminders of our nation’s open-door immigration policy, these two will be crucial parts of a one-game playoff on TBS tonight, as the Padres come into Mile High to face the Rockies. Winner goes to Philly, loser goes home. Wait, did I get that right?

Anyway, I’ll be live-blogging the ballgame over at Awful Announcing tonight, and my host will be live-blogging the NFL game, so where else could you possibly need to be? Put your TV on your game of choice, and read and comment on the live-blog for the other. Piece of cake.

It’s a service we provide for you. You should use it.

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You might have noticed I didn’t post yesterday. Today might be a little light as well. Work and life just getting the better of me right now, hopefully we’ll get back to normal soon.

Just to remind you, though, the MLB season is coming to a close, and several of our rookies (see sidebar) are in dogfights to make the playoffs. Not the Devil Rays guys, of course, but the rest of them. Pedroia is in, but Braun’s Brewers are starting to falter. C.B. Young and Kouzmanoff are battling to see which can take the division – leaving the wild card to the other. Unless, of course, the Rockies and T3 add to their epic ten-win streak and snake it away. Whichever scenario happens, we’ll be able to root for at least one of these guys, maybe two. Of course, the whole Phillies/Mets drama could derail that, but I’m being optimistic.

Sadly, Josh Hamilton is injured and will be out for the rest of the season, but his numbers while healthy were admirable indeed.  Pence was a stud for Houston, but the team was so bad, most of his effort was completely wasted – very few runs or RBIs despite all of the hitting he did.

I’ll keep an eye on the race this week, and when the season is over and all stats are in, I’ll check out which rook won each category we tracked this year.

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pujolshits1.jpgAll season long I have kept an eye on this year’s rookie hitters, wondering which one would match the incredible achievements of Albert Pujols in his inaugural year at the plate. I have used Pujols as the standard, with 1000 points as his dedicated number. With my modification of Similarity Scores, I have allowed for a player to best that standard, in case it should ever happen. At this moment, two rookies, as seen in the sidebar, are in the incredibly rarified air of 900+ points on the scale.

Rather than allow my assumption to stand unchallenged, I embarked on a quest to crown Albert Pujols as the best rookie hitter ever by comparing him to every other Jackie Robinson award winner listed on the MLB website. Throughout history, I found only fourteen other players who came within 100 points of the pinnacle. They are listed below.

Ladies and gentlemen – the best rookie hitters since 1947:

Name Team Position Year Score
Albert Pujols STL 1B 2001 1000
Willie McCovey SFG 1B 1959 991
Walt Dropo BOS 1B 1950 973
Fred Lynn BOS OF 1974 967
Tony Oliva MIN OF 1964 964
Mark McGwire OAK 1B 1987 961
Dick Allen PHI 3B 1964 958
Mike Piazza LAD C 1993 951
Nomar Garciaparra BOS SS 1997 937
Frank Robinson CIN OF 1956 926
Orlando Cepeda SFG 1B 1958 919
Bob Hamelin KCR DH 1994 911
Al Bumbry BAL OF 1973 910
Tim Salmon CAL OF 1993 901
Carlton Fisk BOS C 1972 900

Most of these names will surprise nobody. Some will cause either laughter or puzzled head-scratching.

I have a previously mentioned problem with Willie McCovey’s selection, however. He only played in 52 games while amassing those incredible power numbers, so the sample size is a mite suspicious to me. But still, he kicked ass and was chosen, so it’s legit. Walt Dropo at #2 was a complete mystery to me. I’m not much of a historian, so it was great to learn about him.

hamelinbob.jpgBob Hamelin’s inclusion on this list is the greatest argument against the DH I have ever seen.

Boston had four out of the fourteen, which just goes to show that it takes mature talent to win the world series. Though the Idiots were far from mature, they were just older than these guys.

Also surprisingly, the steroid era had little impact on this contest. Mark McGwire was still a comparative stick figure when he won this award, and none of the other juiced-up players of his era made the 900 Club.

There are a million and one ways to argue this data, and I hope you feel free to do so. The journey was the thing for me, and I am satisfied that I can, from here on out, call Albert Pujols the Rookie of the Century. Unless Ryan J. Braun goes on a tear this week….

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mccovey-1-sized.jpgToday I will be completing my historical Rookie of the Year comparisons. The MLB website only traces the Jack Robinson award, and ignores any awards that might have been given out prior to that, so that’s what I’m doing. Besides, as we creep backward toward the dead ball era, the stats can only get farther away from the Pujolsian stratosphere.

Let’s get started. This last set of data includes ROY stats from the entire decade of the 50’s and then a couple of players from the 40’s. All players have been compared to Albert Pujols’ 2001 season by way of my modified similarity score technique.

Albert Pujols Saint Louis Cardinals 2001 1000
Willie McCovey San Francisco Giants 1959 991
Walt Dropo Boston Red Sox 1950 973
Frank Robinson Cincinnati Reds 1956 926
Orlando Cepeda San Francisco Giants 1958 919
Gil McDougald New York Yankees 1951 881
Roy Sievers Saint Louis Browns 1949 880
Alvin Dark Boston Braves 1948 872
Wally Moon Saint Louis Cardinals 1954 868
Jack Robinson Brooklyn Dodgers 1947 855
Bob Allison Washington Senators 1959 849
Willie Mays New York Giants 1951 844
Harvey Kuenn Detroit Tigers 1953 840
Sam Jethroe Boston Braves 1950 837
Jim Gilliam Brooklyn Dodgers 1953 832
Bill Virdon Saint Louis Cardinals 1955 831
Tony Kubek New York Yankees 1957 807
Albie Pearson Washington Senators 1958 766
Luis Aparicio Chicago White Sox 1956 764

A fascinating list, to be sure. All along, I’ve kept track of the players who were most statistically comparable to Sir Albert, and I’ll publish a separate post detailing the double handful of players who managed to come within 100 points of the best rookie hitter of all time (it feels good to be able to say that and know it to be true).

One thing that’s bothering me, though I am loath to bring it up: Willie McCovey. Statistically speaking, he is the past player who comes the closest to Pujols. But in his rookie season, McCovey’s stats looked like this:

Willie McCovey San Francisco Giants 52 192 32 68 9 5 13 38 2 22 35 .354 .656

Fifty-two games? That’s it? Far be it from me to suggest putting an asterisk next to the name of the man who lent his name to the stadium that the modern era’s greatest asterisk plays in, but that seems absurd. No other player skated to ROY on a smaller sample of his talent. He was a great player throughout his career, but I’m stunned to see him as a ROY. I’ve got my eye on you, San Francisco…
I’ve never been much of a baseball historian. Most of these names are completely unfamiliar to me. But paging back through the archives with a purpose has really awakened me to the joy of baseball’s past. It’s the same thrill I get out of reading any kind of history – the attempt to imagine what it must have been like to live in that era. The vicarious thrill is made more piquant by the narrow focus of the ballpark. I hope some of you have enjoyed it as well.

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saltytearsoffarewell.jpgOK, nobody’s making me cut out the Salt. Saltalamacchia, that is. I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do, like eating oatmeal (thanks, Mr. Brimley!). Salty had a good rookie campaign, but he simply never saw enough at bats. He still hovers well below 200 plate appearances on the season, which puts him way off the pace established by some of the other budding stars in our lineup.

He wasn’t helped by the fact that he shared catching duties with McCann in Atlanta, or by the sudden trade to the AL in the late part of the season. He’s going to be a great player, but Jarrod does not smell like Pujols in his rookie season.

So who does? The usual suspects. Ryan J. Braun (damn you, Ryan Z. Braun! I am tired of having to use that middle initial!) has dropped a little ways, but hit his 30th home run a couple of days ago. His Brewers are atop the league with insanely young talent on the field.

Hunter Pence keeps playing well, though he is firmly lodged in Braun’s shadow. Playing in the same division can’t be helping, but playing for a crappy team is making it much worse. Cincinnati’s Josh Hamilton has had a recent resurgence, and is on the verge of cracking the 900 point barrier for the first time since the first few weeks of the season, when he was on an ungodly power-hitting tear.

The next tier finally leads us to an AL worthy, in the person of pint-sized Dustin Pedroia, who is playing fine offense and defense in his season-long slog. Who knows where he would be in the standings if he hadn’t started the season so weakly? Troy Tulowitzki recently broke a record previously held by Ernie Banks. He is going to be great to watch in Colorado for years to come.

Chris B. Young (Damn you, Chris R. Young!!!) is not really Pujols-like, but his undervalued Diamondbacks club is on the verge of cruising into the playoffs at the expense of the Padres, who employ the paler version of Chris Young. Delmon Young (confused yet?) has done yeoman’s work for Tampa Bay this year, amassing over 550 at bats and counting in a hideously drawn-out losing effort. Ditto Akinori Iwamura, who lost some time due to injury in mid-season.

Bringing up the bottom are Alex Gordon, who has neither saved the Royals nor flamed out in his debut, so he’s done about all you can ask. His numbers have risen steadily throughout the season, and he can team up with fellow youngsters like Brian Bannister, Tony Pena, Jr., and Billy Butler to bring some hope to Royal Blue diehards next year. There’s always next year…

Finally, Kevin Kouzmanoff, the Mashin’ Macedonian, has used his massive forearms to great effect, helping Jake Peavy and Chris Young to keep the Padres in the wild card hunt down to the last.

Those are our contenders. I might still let one or two more go over the remainder of the season, and our final post will be the crowning of our first ever Pujols Smell-Alike and a statistical breakdown that will surely interest literally dozens of people.

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