Archive for September, 2012

Daily Notes, Feat. High Stakes and Stronger Emotions

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Daily Notes.

1. Featured Game: Boston at Baltimore, 13:35 ET
2. Other Notable Games (Including MLB.TV Free Game)
3. Today’s Complete Schedule

Featured Game: Boston at Baltimore, 13:35 ET
What a Reader Might Be Saying
It’s possible that a reader, after noting how this game features, in fact, the lowest NERD score of the day — NERD itself being the infallible watchability metric crafted locally and sustainably by the author — that such a reader is saying something like, “This is ridiculous” or “I am outraged” or, if the reader is a woman from a 1930s studio film, “Why, I never.”

What a Reader Might Continue to Say
It’s possible that a reader, after proceeding as described above, might level the charge that NERD — contrary to the bold (foolhardy?!?) claims of its creator — is, in fact, not infallible. Such a reader might go so far as to suggest that NERD is either “quite” or “very” fallible.

Why a Reader Would Say All Those Things
Why a reader might say all those things as printed above is because the upstart Orioles are currently, unexpectedly tied with the despotic Yankees for first place in the AL East with just four games remaining in the season. The stakes are high! So are the emotions! What will happen?

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Homer Bailey and Ryan Hanigan No-Hit Pittsburgh

At the end of all these no hitters, right after the 27th out, there’s the hug between the pitcher and the catcher. The whole team gets in eventually, but there’s always just a little more emotion in that pitcher-catcher connection.

Watching Homer Bailey no-hit the Pirates Friday night, I completely understand why.

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Daily Notes: Assorted Nerd Facts in re Homer Bailey

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Daily Notes.

1. Nerd Facts: Homer Bailey’s No-Hitter
2. Today’s Notable Games (Including MLB.TV Free Game)
3. Today’s Complete Schedule

Nerd Facts: Homer Bailey’s No-Hitter
Regarding What Follows
What follows is a brief assortment of information regarding Cincinnati right-hander Homer Bailey’s no-hitter in Pittsburgh on Friday.

Which, In Case You Didn’t Hear
In case the reader was busy with some manner of nerdly venture, or indisposed in whatever way, what happened last (Friday) night is Cincinnati right-hander Homer Bailey threw a no-hitter against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

Bailey’s Final Line
Here’s Bailey’s nerd line from last night (box): 9.0 IP, 28 TBF, 10 K, 1 BB, 10 GB on 17 batted-balls (58.8% GB), 1.22 FIP, 1.87 xFIP.

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Tsuyoshi Nishioka’s Big Day

The chapter began with the Minnesota Twins signing Tsuyoshi Nishioka to be a starting middle infielder. Two years later, the chapter ends with the Twins releasing Nishioka at his own request. There remained another year and some millions of dollars on Nishioka’s contract, but Nishioka has chosen to forfeit all of that and walk away. Reports say the news didn’t come as a surprise to the Twins organization, and, clearly, just from reading this paragraph, it’s evident that things didn’t go how they were supposed to go at the start.

There was promise, once. In Japan, Nishioka won awards for his defensive work. In 2010, he led his league in hits. That year Patrick Newman liked Nishioka as his Pacific League MVP. Obviously, the Twins thought they were getting a pretty good player. In Japan in 2010, Nishioka batted .346/.423/.482. In Japan in 2010, Norichika Aoki batted .358/.435/.509. With the Brewers, Aoki’s been successful. With the Twins, Nishioka was a nightmare.

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FanGraphs Audio: Prospects with Mike Newman

Episode 252
Prospect analyst Mike Newman discusses three players he saw in person this season — catcher Mike Zunino (Mariners), shortstop Brad Miller (also Mariners), and German outfielder Max Kepler (Twins) — and the larger concerns each raises with regard to prospect analysis generally.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 51 min. play time.)

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Luis Sardinas: Best SS You’ve Never Heard Of

In heading to Greenville, South Carolina for an early September pair to see the Hickory Crawdads (Rangers), no prospect interested me more than shortstop Luis Sardinas. A few days earlier, a contact had filled me in that Sardinas was “special” and “had tools like Jurickson Profar“. Having traveled to “The Palmetto State” just fourteen months earlier to watch the aforementioned Profar, my expectations for Sardinas were extremely high considering the Rangers organization is known for being a shortstop factory.

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A’s Rookie Starting Pitchers Defying Odds

The other day, a clerical error on Major League Baseball’s part gave Athletics pitcher Travis Blackley another chance to be a freshman. As a result, the A’s — who had already received more than 60 starts from rookie pitchers — moved even further up the leaderboard of games started by rookie pitchers. But while many rookie-laden pitching rotations stumble, Oakland has gotten some of its finest efforts this season from its group of youngsters.

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Where There’s Smoak, There’s Something

2012 was to be a critical season for the Seattle Mariners, as the organization hoped its young talent would start to jell and suggest the possibility of a playoff bid in the near future. Outside of Felix Hernandez, the keys were assumed to be Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero, and Justin Smoak. All three position players have recently been tippy-top prospects, and all three position players got their own Mariners team commercials. Ackley was billed as a hitting prodigy, Montero was advertised as the new guy with tremendous power, and Smoak was shown punching down trees with raw strength. The season’s almost over — really! it’s gone so fast — and Montero has a -0.2 WAR. Smoak has a -0.2 WAR. Ackley has a 1.8 WAR, but a lot of that is good defense, which, take that, minor-league scouting reports.

The breakthroughs have come from Kyle Seager, John Jaso, and Michael Saunders, which pretty much no one expected. The three guys thought to be most important have all been disappointments. But with that in mind, check out what happens when you sort the September leaderboards by wRC+:

  1. Justin Smoak, 195
  2. Joe Mauer, 187
  3. Chase Headley, 183
  4. Adrian Beltre, 180
  5. Ian Desmond, 173

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Yadier Molina is Having a Johnny Bench Season

Yadier Molina has always been an amazing defensive catcher, but like most amazing defensive catchers, he hasn’t always been a very good hitter. In fact, for the first three years of his career, he was a pretty terrible hitter, and then he spent four years as an average-ish hitter before his breakout season last year. Well, we thought last year was his breakout season anyway. This year is Breakout 2.0, as Molina has put himself among not just the elite hitting catchers in the game, but has produced at a level that is outstanding for any position. And in the process, he’s having one of the best all-around catcher seasons in baseball history.

There have always been catchers who can hit but can’t throw, and throw but can’t hit, but there haven’t been many who have hit and thrown like Molina has this year. Below is a table of every season in Major League history where a catcher posted both a 140 wRC+ or better and threw out 45% or more of attempted base stealers.

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Orioles’ Winning Season Paying Off At Box Office

The Baltimore Orioles celebrated the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards this year. A few more winning seasons and the Orioles just might get back to the sell-out crowds that filled Camden Yards in 1992 and for nearly a decade thereafter.

The high-water mark for attendance at Camden Yards was in 1997, when the the Orioles won the American League East with a record of 98-64. That year, 3,711,132 fans filled Camden Yards to the brim nearly every game. It’s been a steady decline ever since. Still, even as the team floundered after the 1997 season, more than 2,000,000 fans bought tickets year after year, putting the Orioles in the top half of American League teams in attendance.

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