Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Laying Henry Chadwick to rest...The Seattle Times

Henry Chadwick developed the box score. Chadwick thought the batter should get no credit for a walk--which is why at-bats do not count walks, and why batting average is consequently scoffed on by mathematically literate baseball fans. Allan Roth, a statistician hired by Branch Rickey (he who developed the concept of a farm system and who signed Jackie Robinson), demonstrated in the 1960s that on-base percentage and slugging percentage were far superior measures of offensive production, and yet we still see Avg., RBI, and HR totals in most mainstream newsmedia today.

The Seattle Times is changing that. Jeff Angus, a member of the Northwest chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research who has recently begun writing a sabermetric column for the Times, reports that the Times will be featuring more sabermetric-friendly stats in print every Tuesday.

Angus also tells the NW SABR list-serve that:
    I think this is the first time a daily newspaper has run a full
    Sabermetric surrogate for the Leaders Tables. If it runs weekly as
    planned, I'm pretty confident it will be a first.
This is indeed an important step in bringing newer stats into a broader cultural awareness. Granted, we won't likely be hearing Rick Rizzs talk about Willie Bloomquist's OPS any time soon, but this is another important step in the right direction. Let's appreciate all that Chadwick did for Baseball, and then lay his antiquated statistics to rest.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

So much for numbers

From last night's broadcast:

    [Neihaus had speculated that lefty Villone would be removed before facing righty A-rod. Matsui, whom Villione had been brought in to face, had just singled. Hargrove stayed put, and Villone would face Rodriguez after all.]

    Fairly: Rodriguez is 0 for 7 against Villone.

    Neihaus: So was Matsui.

    Fairly: Well, so much for numbers.
Of course, this is a silly argument, because the problem isn't numbers in general, it's the sample size. Sort of like adopting total philosophical relativism as a reaction against total determinism.

Actually, the overal numbers of this game suggest the M's got the large end of the wishbone for this game--which is fine, because somebody's got to get lucky. But NY had 11 hits to Seattle's 10, 6 walks to our 1, 15 total bases to our 14. So much for numbers. The breaks went our way, the Yankee errors and our hits happen at just the right time, and we avoid the sweep.

Still, is this game any indication the M's can turn it around, at least a little? As I see, there are too many pieces missing right now, and I'm not talking about Everyotherday Guardado. Madritsch out till September, Pineiro down in Tacoma fixing his mechanics, Beltre day to day with a hamstring, Pokey Reese DOA, and our entire bench might as well be a missing piece, with the possible exception of Dave Hansen, if he still has anything left.

Still, a great game last night.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Two Salamis in a week...allowed

Ouch, J.J.

Of course, hindsight being 20-20, we can all second guess Hargrove for pulling lefty George Sherrill after facing (and retiring) only one batter, since the next batter, Bernie Williams, is a switch hitter with nearly identical splits over the last three years. Not that there are many better options in the pen.

Yes, I am still alive, and waiting for Beltre and Olivo to start hitting the way we know they can.

This team still has a lot of problems, though--mostly pitching. As Larry Stone says, however, the M's have few options at this point.

Hey, we took two of three from Boston this time around, so at least it's not like the home team here in KC, where you're nearly guaranteed a loss every time they take the field. You think the M's are bad? The Royals are pathetic. As if that's much comfort.

We got a long season ahead of us, and I hope by the end of it, we'll see most of the reasons for optimism come to fruition.