June 30th, 2013

Today's slate.

The Big Hurst - Gio Gonzalez

skoormit - Stephen Fife

La Osa Rosa - Jeremy Bonderman

The Big Hurst: I can't quite pull the trigger on Zach Wheeler ("wheelza").
I miss getting points.
My pitchers aren't good enough.
They are, but they aren't.



June 29th, 2013

Today's slate.

The Big Hurst - Francisco Liriano

skoormit - Jeff Samardzija

La Osa Rosa - Justin Verlander ("The Bum")

The Big Hurst: I made a change to the scoreboard.  Even though it's against my interests, I like it better this way.  If anyone protests, we can change it back.
skoormit: Is the change that you are ranking by average result rather than total points?
skoormit: My best guess at the O/U that Vegas would set for Trout's career-best post-2012 WAR: 10.0. I'd take the under, but I think that number would split the action.
The Big Hurst: Just ordinal scores based on average result, decreasing the appearance that I'm better just because I'm more consistent.  It's also less fiddly to fix every day.  Of course, baseball is partly about consistency, so I could argue that it's a different and valid measure of quality. I'd take the under on Trout.  I don't envy him his career though.  I think he's going to operate under truly burdensome expectations over the next 10 years.  Never win the first race.


The Big Hurst: More good games from the Rockies stadium.  Congratulations on the debut of 28 year old Jonathan Diaz for the Red Sox.  Must be a dream.


June 28th, 2013

Today's slate.

The Big Hurst - Hisashi Iwakuma

skoormit - Matt Harvey

La Osa Rosa - Chris Capuano

The Big Hurst: The Cardinals/Athletics game seems like a possible World Series preview.  I've also been wanting to comment about the Giants.  By wins, this team looks pretty run-of-the-mill, but by my calculations, they've got the second-best hitting in the league (losing only to the St. Louis juggernaut) but the worst defense in the league.  So what they're gaining with hitting goes right out the door on defense.  They could improve this team a lot by the addition of just one solid pitcher (or one formerly solid pitcher getting back into shape).  The Padres also seem to have this problem, but to a lesser extent.  Over in the other league, it's all backwards.  There are three teams with good defense but rotten hitting (White Sox, Royals, & Yankees).  One or two good hitters might improve them a lot.  In July, I expect the Yankees to buy the full Giants lineup for cash and future considerations.
skoormit: We expect players to improve after age 20 because it is very unusual for a hitter who is good enough to play in MLB in his age 20 season to then fail to improve through his mid 20s. But last year Trout had perhaps the best season ever by a 20 year old. 10.9 WAR is a tough bar to clear. That's "HOF player at his peak" territory.

There have been only 18 seasons of 11+ WAR since 1901. Five of those are Babe Ruth. Since 1975, only Cal Ripken (once) and Barry Bonds (twice) have done it.

Only three other 20 year olds have surpassed just 7 WAR (ARod, Kaline, Ott).
Kaline had an 8.3, and only barely beat that once, with an 8.4 at 26. He had more than 6.6 only one other time (7.5 at 32).
Ott had a 7.4 at 20. He bested that three times (his best was 8.9 at 29).
ARod had a 9.3 at 20. Since then he's had two 9.4s (29, 31) and one 10.3 (24).

I'd take the under on "Mike Trout's Career Best Single-Season WAR: 10.91."
The Big Hurst: Good work!  That's pretty much my thoughts.  But my brain tells me he's supposed to improve, right?  Then, what's the over/under bar on what'll be the highest post-2012 WAR for Mike Trout?  Also: Dear baseball gods, I'm picking Hisashi Iwakuma today only because he has a nice smile.  With love, The Big Hurst.
La Osa Rosa: Hisashi Iwakuma does have a nice smile! He looks sweet. So does Chris Capuano.


The Big Hurst: I think we have a new leader.  Didn't I just say something about how good the Giants offense is?  Doesn't the best game really look like Chacin's against the high-octane Giants in Colorado?  That's an under-acknowledged great game in difficult circumstances.  According to YCPB, two different position players pitched yesterday in two different games, which is very cool.  At this moment - and not just in April - the Pittsburgh Pirates have the best record in baseball.


June 27th, 2013

Today's slate.

The Big Hurst - Stephen Strasburg

skoormit - Patrick Corbin

La Osa Rosa - Zach Greinke

skoormit: The Big Hurst and I are going head to head in a battle of aces this afternoon. Don't miss it!
La Osa Rosa: I have a gut feeling about Zach Greinke, so I’ll pick him. Even though he starts fights and looks mean.
The Big Hurst:  It's Don King, everybody, Don King!  And you're going down.
The Big Hurst: What are the odds that Mike Trout will ever/never have another year like last year?  His batting is still good, but his defense and base stealing seem down.  Does this imply he's not as mobile as he was last year - even just at age 21?  I think I'd bet against him ever being quite that good again, but I'm not sold on my own logic or intuition.
The Big Hurst: This D-Backs/Nationals game is a bit of a proxy, isn't it, because I used to live in DC and you used to live in Arizona?  But your team is better than mine probably.  But my pitcher isn't a desert mirage probably.


The Big Hurst: Well, fart on that.  Good game.  Good game.  But the consolation prize is listening to Vin Scully say "Pettibone".  I think we've had a lot of 6th places lately.


June 26th, 2013

Today's slate.

The Big Hurst - Jordan Zimmermann

skoormit - Clayton Kershaw

La Osa Rosa - Felix Hernandez

La Osa Rosa: I’ll pick Felix Hernandez of the Maritime Marliners. I thought about picking Jeanmar Gomez because he’s a Pirates pitcher and I do love those. And because he has a pretty awesome name. But then I was looking at Wikipedia and it says that Gomez is a “sinkerballer.” From as best as I can gather, that seems to mean that he makes the batter hit groundballs, rather than getting a lot of strikeouts. I’m confused as to how this would make him a good pitcher or why this is a good strategy. I understand that he’s eliminating batters from getting homeruns, but isn’t a groundball kind of a good thing for the batter? If a batter gets a fly ball, that’s usually going to get caught. If the batter hits a ground ball, he seems more likely to get a single or double or triple. Do groundballs have more errors associated with them than fly balls? It seems like they would because the ball is bouncing around in the dirt and nobody can catch it and then everyone has to scramble to throw it to the right person. Rather than a fly ball, where they just stand under it with their glove above their head (I just got a mental image of myself shielding my head with a baseball mitt and squealing like a girl while a fly ball almost clobbers me in the head. But then I catch the ball and win the game for my team, the “Sparkle Unicorns”). Anyway, regardless if it’s a good pitching strategy, Gomez does not seem to be the best pitcher for Game Score Bingo because he won’t have many strikeouts and he’ll have lots of hits against him. Maybe one of you can explain to me the strategy of “sinkerballers.” Or maybe I’m so baseball knowledge poor that I’ll never understand. Much like how I cannot, for the life of me, remember what a pinch hitter is and how it differs from a designated hitter. Or how I can’t keep straight the difference between a “double” and a “double-play.” Baseball be hard. But I’ll pick Felix Hernandez today and if Jeanmar Gomez gets a good game score, I’m going back to picking solely based on names and cute smiles.
skoormit: You are correct that sinkerball pitchers tend to produce fewer strikeouts. So, for Game Score Bingo, that's a factor against picking someone. But for the pitcher's team, groundballs are good. Groundballs turn into outs at about the same rate as fly balls. When they don't turn into outs, groundballs are almost always singles, very occasionally doubles, almost never triples, and literally never home runs. Fly balls, on the other hand, are the ones that, when they do not turn into an out, will often turn into an extra base hit. Also, groundballs turn into double plays far more often than fly balls. For those reasons, all other things being equal between two pitchers, MLB teams will prefer the pitcher that gets more groundballs.
The Big Hurst: I expect some friendly blowback today for picking against the D-backs. Meanwhile, Miss Paddington von Bearington raises some cool points.  Is a certain kind of pitcher more likely to get good Game Scores?  Is it a different kind of pitcher than we normally think of as a quality pitcher?  Is there any disconnect?  Sinkerballers can be good pitchers if they prevent hits and walks, just like anyone else.  I did a quick, back-of-the-envelope study the other day for the last couple of years and found that pitcher ERA seems to tend to correlate with pitcher Game Scores, so picking based on ERA isn't wholly inappropriate.  But it wasn't entirely correlative, and there were some notable outliers (Kazmir, Masterson, Scherzer, Freddy Garcia, and Cueto).  I don't know if there's a reason for this, or if they're just odd points in an incomplete study.  I've wondered whether I should be picking on some combination of Innings Pitched/Games Started (endurance) and Strikeouts/Inning (stuff).  But that sounds too complicated to worry about every day.  I also think there's a thirty year (or more) debate - still not completely settled - about the value of a strikeout as opposed to a out made in play.  Pitchers who strike out lots of guys tend to be better for longer, so they're "better" in baseball terms.  But in other contexts, the value of a strikeout might be debatable.  Ask Adam Dunn, Mike Napoli, or Dan Uggla.


The Big Hurst: GAME SCORE BINGO for skoormit!  5th, 6th, & 7th?  That's pretty good.  I thought I was doing well, until Kershaw pitched.  I've got four of the top five pitchers here pitching against very good offenses.  I root for him, but that Dickey gem seems pretty unlikely.