Archive for October, 2013

FanGraphs Audio: Dave Cameron Analyzes All Stirring Finales

Episode 395
Dave Cameron is both (a) the managing editor of FanGraphs and (b) the guest on this particular edition of FanGraphs Audio — during which edition he analyzes the last fleeting moments of the recently concluded 2013 baseball season.

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 31 min play time.)

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The Contradictory Identities of the Cardinals

It is perhaps no longer appropriate to talk about the 2013 St. Louis Cardinals as a current baseball team. As of late Wednesday night, there are no current baseball teams, with all teams now to be referred to in the past tense. In the end, the Cardinals came up just short of the Red Sox, and though they lost the finale by five runs, they did manage to strand runner after runner against John Lackey and bits of the Boston bullpen. It was a theme for the Cardinals in the World Series — though they didn’t perform much worse than Boston at the plate, their timing was worse, and as Dave noted earlier Thursday, the Cardinals were let down by a lack of timeliness that had driven them all regular season long.

Oddly and interestingly, some semblance of Cardinals magic was with them in October. In the playoffs, with runners in scoring position, the Cardinals batted just .259 with a .701 OPS. Those numbers aren’t particularly good, but in the playoffs, with the bases empty, those same Cardinals batted a woeful .190 with a .522 OPS. On the one hand, the Cardinals weren’t automatic in run-scoring situations, like they were during the year. On the other, they still significantly elevated their performance, and this gets to a subject most perplexing.

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A Method for Examining Two-Strike Hitting

Let’s talk about why I love Jamey Carroll. He has had — like most of us would like — his best years after the age of 30; he has played every position except catcher, including an inning of scoreless relief in 2013; he’s short; he spells his name humorously; and he plays a cop in this music video (therabouts of 1:10).

But what impresses me most about him is his rare combination of no power and great plate discipline (as seen here here). There is almost no threat of a homer and only a mild threat of a double when he walks to the plate, but he still induces a walk rate near 10%. Carroll walks more than Robinson Cano and Adrian Gonzalez not because pitchers fear him, but because — as anyone who’s watched Carroll can attest — the 5-foot-11 infielder fights off a half-dozen bad pitches until he finds one he can pop for a single.

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A Statistical Report on All the Caribbean Leagues at Once

For much the same reason that he has published statistical reports of varying degrees of maturity for the Arizona Fall League over the past several weeks, the author is publishing here a combined statistical report for the various Caribbean winter leagues that have started play — again, not necessarily because such reports are of great utility for evaluating players, but because they provide a means by which to participate in those leagues which doesn’t also require a substantial investment in transportation and lodging.

In this case, what the author has done is to identify the regressed hitting and pitching leaders in the Dominican Winter, Mexican Pacific, and Venezuelan Leagues separately*. What he’s then done is to combine the hitting and pitching leaders of those leagues into a pair of top-10 lists, which one can find below. Note: all ages are as of July 1, 2013.

*The fourth major Caribbean league, the Puerto Rican League, doesn’t commence until tomorrow.

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The Cardinals as an Object Lesson

The St. Louis Cardinals are often referred to as a “model organization”, and for good reason. Despite playing in one of the smallest markets of any team in Major League Baseball, they have built a sustainable model of success, flowing through nearly every aspect of the game. They draft and develop talent exceptionally well, leading to a seemingly never ending pipeline of young talent flowing into the big leagues. They manage their financial resources very well, and consistently add quality veterans at prices that won’t prohibit them from making other necessary improvements. They have a formula in place that has allowed them to win in both the short and long term, and have shown that it doesn’t take a $175 million payroll to be one of baseball’s elite franchises.

But, of course, they aren’t perfect. No organization is. So, while the Cardinals 2013 season was a remarkable success, and should be viewed that way no matter how the season ended, there may be a few things that can be learned from their final series loss to the Red Sox.

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Eno Sarris Baseball Chat — 10/31/13

Eno Sarris: see you at the top of the hour

Eno Sarris: lyrics of the day are totally inane but still germane

Lay a whisper on my pillow,
leave the winter on the ground.
I wake up lonely,
there’s air of silence in the bedroom
and all around
Touch me now, I close my eyes and dream away.

Eno Sarris: Okay, let’s get… intimate.

Comment From person hscer
It’s the offseason! And Eno’s chatting! Regularly?

Eno Sarris: We’ll see.

Comment From Sadwick
A wild Eno appears!!!!

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The First Four Red Sox Championships in Boston

Last night, as you may have heard, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. As many noted, it was the first time that a Boston team clinched the World Series in its home town since the Sox won in 1918.

It was the sixth World Championship that Hub fans have ever had a chance to witness: the Red Sox won at home in 1903, 1912, 1916, and 1918, and the Boston Braves won at home in 1914. Since it’s almost certain that none of the fans at Fenway tonight were in attendance at any of the others, I thought I’d take a quick look at what happened a century ago.
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Effectively Wild Episode 319: Wrapping up the World Series

Ben and Sam review the World Series and talk about the 2013 seasons and futures of the Red Sox and Cardinals with Zachary Levine.

How the Red Sox Got to Michael Wacha

In the little picture, Wednesday’s was a perfectly sensible conclusion. The better baseball team clinched the World Series, on its own home field. One of the truths about the MLB playoffs is that the format doesn’t always reward the best team in baseball. This time, though, the Red Sox have a hell of an argument, and they’re a more than deserving champion. In the big picture, also, Wednesday’s was a perfectly sensible conclusion. The Red Sox won their third title in a decade. They’re always thought of as a powerhouse. The magic is in the medium picture. The picture in which you realize the Red Sox did go from worst to first. Just one season ago, the Red Sox lost 93 games. This season, the Mariners lost 91 games. The Mets lost 88 games. The Padres lost 86 games. There was a lot of talent already in place, but the Red Sox badly needed some work, and the franchise identity shouldn’t blind people to the near improbability of the turnaround. No World Series champion has ever had a worse previous season.

For Sox fans, this was another opportunity to celebrate, and an opportunity to celebrate a Series win at home for the first time in almost a century. For Sox fans and all other fans too, this made for a relatively stress-free game by the middle innings. The top of the seventh offered a glimpse of possible stress, but there was no real stress to be felt after the Sox went up 3-0 in the third and double that in the fourth. Stephen Drew’s homer put Boston’s win expectancy over 90% and it never sank back down below. For several innings, the Sox all but had the clincher in the bag, after chasing the un-chase-able Michael Wacha.

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October Clutch and a Red Sox Championship at Fenway

The ghost of Carl Mays smiled tonight. In 1918, the erstwhile right-hander pitched the Red Sox to a World Series championship with a Game 6 win. Nearly a century later, on the eve of Halloween, Fenway Park was once again the setting for the final game of the Fall Classic.

It was a horror show for the Cardinals.

Boston rolled to a 6-1 win, rocking Michael Wacha in the process. John Lackey played the role of Mays, sucking the life out of the St. Louis offense. For the first time in 95 years, the Red Sox tasted champagne in baseball‘s oldest ballpark.

It was over early Read the rest of this entry »