One Down 161 To Go

Posted by Baseball Bob at 09:44
Apr 032017

The Yankee quest for a perfect ended yesterday (opening day) along with the quests of the Giants and the Cubs (both probably more likely, though all three wildly unlikely).

Things did not go exactly as I predicted. First, Tanaka, lights out all spring, was brutally roughed up by the Rays, departing after 2 2/3 innings and SEVEN earned runs. The Yankee bullpen successfully locked the barn door after the horse had been stolen, the hay burned and the electricity disconnected. Starlin Castro had 3 hits for the Yankees, holding Tampa scoreless over 5.1 IP, with Warren allowing no hits in 2.1 IP. Castro and Headley had 3 hits apiece, accounting for 6 of the Yankees’ 9 hits, and Judge had a booming double in the 7-3 loss.

Meanwhile Madison Bumgarner had TWO HRs, the first giving SF a 2-0 lead in the 5th, and the 2nd breaking a 3-3 tie in the 7th. The Giants took a 4-3 lead into the 8th but their bullpen, which had the most blown saves (30!) of any playoff team last season, began their defense of this dubious title by blowing a save in the 8th, Derek Law facing 3 batters and allowing singles to each of them, tying the game at 4. SF then broke THAT tie in two batters, as the top of the 9th started triple, sac fly (5-4 SF). The inning continued single, wild pitch, walk, wild pitch (way to go, Fernando Rodney!) and then they escaped further damage with a medium fly and a dribbler in front of home plate. In comes high-priced closer Mark Melancon who records two quick outs to all but sew up the game. A funny thing happened on the way to the save, though, as double, single tied the game and gave the Giants their second blown save of the game (you really have to WANT it). Two more singles plated the winning run, giving Melancon a YIKES! and a well-deserved loss.

The Cubs and Cardinals was a pitchers duel between Carlos Martinez and Jon Lester, with the only run coming in the Cards’ third on single, single, sac fly. This score held up until the bottom of the eighth, when Grichuk homered for a 3-0 St. Louis lead. Cardinal Closer Oh came on for the easy (3-run) save, and gave up HBP, Single, Strike out, Homer (by Contreras), blowing the save and tying the game. Here come the Cubs! Not so fast – the Cardinals loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on Fly out, Double, Intentional Walk, Strikeout, Walk to bring up Grichuk (already a hero) who got a walk-off single and a 4-3 Cardinals win.

You could argue (if you think the Yankees are better than the Rays, which I do) that all three games were upsets, though all three also went to the home team, and in 2 of 3 that was clearly relevant. There were NO saves, but THREE blown saves and TWO walk-off hits. Isn’t this fun?

The rest of baseball starts today, weather permitting. No Yankee game, so boring 😉

It's Today

Posted by Baseball Bob at 10:02
Apr 022017

Well, my wait is finally over: baseball season opens today with 3 games: Yankees at Rays (1:00 pm), Giants at Diamondbacks (4:00 pm) and Cubs at Cardinals (8:30 pm). I certainly get why that last game is the evening featured game: defending champs, bitter rivalry, two good teams. But the other two are intriguing, as well.

The Yankees will start Tanaka, of course, their only legitimate star starter, and the Rays will counter with Archer, certainly their best pitcher. Archer hasn’t missed a start in at least 3 years, though 2016 was a bit of a down year for him, as his ERA ballooned to 4.02 after seasons of 3.22, 3.33, 3.23 (consistency, anyone?). Conventional wisdom for years has been that the Yankees are vulnerable to left-handed pitching, but I think that is not a thing, especially right now. McCann (L) has been replaced by Sanchez (R), Gregorius (L) by Torreyes (R) [to be fair, Didi MURDERED lefties in 2016]. Yes Bird (L) has replaced Teixeira (Both) but Tex was much better from the left side late in his career, and Judge (R) has replaced Beltran/Hicks (Both) so they clearly tilt much more to the right. I expect the Yankees to score, and Tanaka to pitch well, and the Yankees to start off with a win. We’ll see.

The Giants, with Bumgarner, should be clear favorites over Arizona with Greinke, but I am a Greinke fan. I know that he had, for him, a horrible 2016 (4.37 ERA) but he accumulated most of that in four disastrous starts (allowing 7, 7, 9 and 8 ER in 4.0, 6.2, 1.2 and 4.2 IP. I know those starts count, but my own pitching metric hovers him between B and B+ (I haven’t actually done the math) which is far from the disaster everyone portrays. He was 13-7 for a team that did NOT score a lot of runs (for him or anyone else) so he must have pitched well sometimes. I am afraid I have to predict the Giants, but Greinke and the DBacks could certainly surprise.

It will be interesting to see how Jon Lester fares this season with the Cubs. Lester is that rare species (a lefty who thrived in Fenway) but last year’s near Cy Young season featured David Ross, hardly a household name, but Lester’s personal catcher. Ross is gone now, and I think Lester will suffer for it. Lester pitched 202 innings in his age 32 season, AND ANOTHER 36 in the postseason, and I am looking for a bit of a collapse from him. The Cardinals are hungry, as their dominance in the division has been exploded by Chicago. I think the Cardinals will win this game.

All of this is silly, of course: unlike football or even basketball, the “favorite” in any game is typically only 55-45 to win, or maybe 60-40 in extreme cases (Phillies at Cubs?). Who knows who’ll win. That’s why we watch! That said, I won’t watch any of the games today – LDS General Conference is on from 12-2 and 4-6 and that four hours will probably constitute most of my TV for the day. I do have mlb.tv, which allows me to watch games DVR-style during or after the game, so I may try to catch some of the Yankee game between sessions of conference, or in the evening.

But, hey, BASEBALL!

It’s about time.

Almost

Posted by Baseball Bob at 11:19
Apr 012017

The Yankees have historically been scheduled to play in the inaugural game of new ballparks – I would guess they have “opened” three times as many parks as any other team. When it is an NL park they play an exhibition just before the season. Thus they played their final spring training game yesterday at new Sun Trust Park in Atlanta.

Starting for Atlanta was 43-year-old Bartolo Colon. Fun fact, Colon’s MLB career started BEFORE the debut of Turner Field, the park that Sun Trust is replacing (!!). Colon was replaced by the younger RA Dickey who is only 42. Gary Sanchez got the first (unofficial) hit in the new park, and Greg Bird got the first (unofficial) home run. Note: this is Bird’s EIGHTH of the spring – hey, fella, save some of those for the regular season.

The Yankee lineup for tomorrow’s opener in Tampa Bay: Gardiner LF, Sanchez C, Bird 1B, Holliday DH, Ellsbury CF, Headley 3B, Castro 2B, Judge RF, Torreyes SS with Tanaka on the mound. Go Yankees!

Bird, Judge and Sanchez all tore up spring training (almost as if they thought they had something to prove). Hicks did, as well. Let’s hope that the magic doesn’t wear off!

I have now seen many, many predictions for the coming season, and virtually ALL of them have the Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Nationals, Cubs and Dodgers winning their divisions. Consensus wild card picks seem to be Blue Jays and Rangers, Giants and Cardinals. This is same-old, same-old from last year, of course. The Yankees are rarely picked higher than 4th (never 1st or 2nd) and usually 5th. I have watched a lot of spring half-games (when the major leaguers are in) and I honestly feel that the predictions underestimate this Yankee lineup. They are (rightly) focused on the rotation, which IS shaky.

Interestingly, the 5th starter position seems to be between Jordan Montgomery and Chad Green. How do I know this? Well, Green was sent to Double-A (he was Triple-A last year) and they announced that both Montgomery and Green will start on the 6th and 11th of April. Since the Yankees’ first need for a 5th starter will be on April 16, does this suggest anything to you?

Meanwhile, I think the Rangers will push the Astros in the AL West, and the Mariners might, too. I think the Giants will push the Dodgers (they always seem to win 3/4 of their head-to-head matchups to stay in the race). And I think the Mets will push the Nationals. Since I also think the Yankees will be in the AL East mix, I am predicting 4 division races, rather than the one the media seems to think will happen. I would say it is about 4-1 against that the six designated division champs all win. But I’m not a betting man, in case you want some of that action.

Switching New York Teams, here is a side-by-side of the Mets and Nats:

C     D’Arnaud                Weiters                 Even

1B   Duda                        Lind                       Big Advantage Mets

2B   Walker                    Murphy                 Advantage Nats

3B   Wright                     Rendon                 Sadly, Big Advantage Nats

SS    Reyes                       Difo                       Advantage Mets

LF    Cespides                 Werth                   Advantage Mets

CF    Legares                   Turner/Eaton     Big Advantage Nats

RF    Granderson           Harper                 Huge Advantage Nats

So the Nats appear better, but not that much. And if David Wright could somehow be DAVID WRIGHT it would almost disappear.

And I know that the Nats are supposed to have this great pitching staff, but the Mets can pitch with ANYONE, and I have some hope for Matt Harvey returning to be Matt Harvey.

Overall, I agree that the Nats are better on paper than the Mets, but the Mets are YOUNG, have much more upside, and are hungry. I think it will be a horserace.

Spring Champs

Posted by Baseball Bob at 12:00
Mar 302017

I finally found the schedule, and the Yankees are officially the spring training champions (that is, best record in these no-count games): they lead St. Louis by 1 1/2 with one each to play. So yay!

More relevant is that the season starts this Sunday, with the Yankees visiting Tampa Bay for the Rays’ home opener. Their unofficial 25-man roster has leaked out, and the SS job temporarily belongs to Ronald Torreyes with Torreyes’ backup job going to Pete Kozma. Since Kozma isn’t on the 40-man roster, they have to make a spot for him, just as they would have for Tejada, Wade or Torres. Why, then, keep Kozma? Well, I suspect it isn’t ACTUALLY good news for Kozma, in some ways: it appears (to me) that their plan is to put him on the bench (he can play 2B, SS, 3B), play him as little as possible (late inning defensive replacement, possibly in interleague games after hitting for Torreyes) and then put him on waivers when Didi returns. If someone claims him from waivers, the Yanks lose him but get some money – if not he can be removed from the 40-man and returned to the minors.

The Yankees 25-man looks like 13 position players and 12 pitchers. The players are DH Holliday, C Sanchez and Romine, 1B Bird and Carter, 2B Castro, 3B Headley, SS Torreyes, IF Kozma, OF Gardner, Ellsbury, Judge, and Hicks.

Of those, Carter, Kozma, Hicks and Romine will be on the bench on opening day.

The Rotation is Tanaka, Sabathia, Pineda, Severino and TBA (they only need a 5th starter for the first time on April 16, 3rd time through the rotation). I honestly think it will be Jordan Montgomery, on NO ONE’S radar at the start of spring, but they could surprise me. Anyway, I think it will be between Montgomery, Green and Cessa (all sent to Triple A). I suppose Warren could still be a possible, but the other 3 will start in AAA, while Warren will relieve in NY. They are carrying, for the moment, 8 relief pitchers, but i think one of the stretched-out starters in Scranton will get the spot.

Wrong Again!!

Posted by Baseball Bob at 12:16
Mar 272017

The Yankees won again yesterday, bringing their spring record to 22-7. With only 6 games left before the season starts, they are near a lock to finish with the best record for the spring: the Cardinals are 18-8, the Pirates are 18-9 and the Mariners are 19-12, but they would basically have to lose every game (always possible in spring training games) for one of those teams to catch them. Assuming (too lazy to check) that all these teams play 6 more games, their magic number to finish ahead of each team: Cardinals 5, Pirates 4, Mariners 2.

The wrong again part was my earlier assumption that no one ever wins the spring and then the season. It IS very rare, but the 2009 Yankees actually did it, winning 24 games in the spring and the world series. So, go Yankees!

No decision has been made about the Yankee SS hole, but I learned some new information that makes one of the good options even less likely: None of Wade, Kozma, Tejada nor Torres is on the 40-man roster, which is full. This means that to use one of them as a fill-in would be to expose one of their kids to waivers (in order to remove him from the 40) or someone on the 40 needs to go to the 60-day DL (Didi is or can be on the 15-day DL, freeing a 25-man spot but not a 40-man spot). So they seem almost sure to go with Torreyes, Refsnyder, Castro (Refsnyder replacing Gregorius) to start the season, and will play at SS/2B a rotation of Torreyes/Castro, Castro Refsnyder and possibly Castro/Torreyes. Not so much fun but a sound business decision. I guess if Tejada or Kozma had impressed, they might have bitten the bullet, but they did not.

SIX DAYS to REAL baseball! For the first time in several years, I am legitimately excited for the season to start.

SS Analysis

Posted by Baseball Bob at 11:12
Mar 242017

No, this isn’t a comparison between Hitler’s die-hard supporters and Trump’s, though that might be interesting, too.

This is my 2 cents about the Yankees and Didi Gregorius’ injury while playing for the Netherlands in the WBC (again, I DON’T blame the WBC, injuries happen). Current word is he will be out at LEAST until May 1, which by Yankee standards means that May 15 is probable, and June 1 is possible. So 1/6 to 1/4 of the season with no MLB shortstop is a frightening prospect (Didi is a 3-4 WAR guy, so we are talking 0.5 wins (1/6 of 3) to 1 win (1/4 of 4) if the replacement is, well, replacement level.

Apparently teams with a SS to spare are circling like vultures, eyeing the Yankees top-2 farm system: the Tigers have floated their walk-year, starting SS Jose Iglesias (and fresh off a down year, to boot), and other bad options have been offered, as well. 26-year-old Arizona SS is a slick-fielding semi-regular (459 PAs in 2015, injured for part of 2016) but his bat is REALLY bad (career OPS+ 58). He is an option ONLY IF 1) he has a minor-league option left, so you could stash him at AAA after Didi returns and 2) The cost is minimal. On the latter subject, the D-Backs have a rule 5 pick from the Yankees, which means they have to keep him on the 25-man all year (I don’t remember his name): if the trade was to outright him to Arizona, removing the rule 5 restriction, and possibly a mid-level, low-minors lottery ticket, it might be worth pursuing.

Internally, the Yankees have a number of not-good options, one of which they are almost sure to take:

1) Ronald Torreyes – Yankee utility player in 2016, worth 0.5 WAR for the year. He is an OK hitter for a bench guy (81 OPS+ in 2016, he is young (24 this year) and a marginal glove at SS (he played more 3B than Short). He is a true utility player, have logged time last year at every IF position except 1B, and both corner outfield positions as well. This SEEMS like the most probable option, but as a starter he is likely not much more than a replacement level player.

2) Ruben Tejada – 27-year-old former Met, who played SS for them (and some 2B) for parts of 6 seasons (!) from age 20 to 25. His career OPS+ is 83, his career fWAR 3.0. But he was cut loose (non-tendered?), and played a bit last year for St. Louis and San Francisco and was truly awful: bad defensively, OPS+ 35 (!) and was below replacement. And he hasn’t exactly dazzled this year in spring training, where he is on a minor league contract. I doubt that he has options left, but he could play out the injury at ML minimum and be released. Ugh.

3) Pete Kozma – a poor man’s Ruben Tejada, Pete Kozma, also on a minor-league contract, has had exactly ONE real season in the majors (2013 with STL, OPS+ 53) but at least he can field the position. While Tejada’s .258 with one extra-base hit has kind of underwhelmed this spring, he is a MONSTER compared to Kosma’s stellar .179 in essentially the same playing time. Likely BELOW replacement (and 28 years old). Double Ugh.

4) Donovan Solano – not really a SS, he has played more than 10 games in a season there only once, and the Yankees would feel LUCKY if he were replacement-level (0.0 WAR).

5) Tyler Wade – NOW we’re talking! 22-year-old prospect, training to be Ben Zobrist (super-utility man) he played last year at AA and manned 2B, 3B and all the OF positions (NO SS though). In 2015 SS was his main position – the problem is that the Yankees have TOO MANY SS prospects, and they are beginning to sort them out by training them at other positions. So far this spring Wade has again not manned SS, but he HAS hit .351 (13/32 with 3 doubles) and played all over the diamond (but not SS). The buzz is that he was a solid if unspectacular glove at SS, and was open to learning new positions because he looked up and saw Didi Gregorius only a few years older than he is, and BOTH Jorge Mateo AND Gleyber Torres a year or two younger, and all solid shortstops, and said SURE. With NO AAA experience and a year removed from his last fielding chance at SS he seems a long-shot, but I personally LOVE this option, sort of (see Castro, below)

6) Jorge Mateo – he is a better prospect than Wade (who is pretty good) but even farther down the ladder, as he played in 2016 in High A. He was not in Major League camp, but he can play. He is likely to move off SS though, and he missed 2016 altogether due to injury. Not really an option, though it could be fun. He is 21.but (sort of) a 6-year veteran (soon 22).

7) Gleyber Torres – (what kind of a name is Gleyber??? He says he doesn’t know, and neither does his dad!) THIS is what the fans want, and IT ISN’T HAPPENING. He is the Yankees top prospect, acquired for 1/3 of a year of Aroldis Chapman, and he plays a pretty good shortstop (though not as good as Didi). Invited to ML camp after playing 2016 at High A, he has 13 hits in 29 at bats, and those 13 hits include 6 doubles, a triple and 2 HRs, which works out to a SLG of 1.000 (BA .448) for an ISO of .502. He already has a couple of errors, and has been reassigned to Minor-league camp and to AA to start the season. I suppose the danger of asking him to do too much too early (see: Melky Cabrera) is real, but he would add EXCITEMENT, FAN INTEREST, etc. and it COULD launch a HOF career, becoming to SS what Manny Machado was to 1B (20-year-old sensation). Do it, Cashman. I dare you. He won’t, though. Sigh.

8) Starlin Castro – the 8th option could be the first. Castro is the Yankees’ 2B, and he wasn’t great there with the glove nor (despite 21 HRs) with the bat. A two-time (!) all-star SS with the Cubs and still only 27, he has a league-average glove and a career OPS+ of 97, pretty good for a SS (93 last year). But the real point is that if you move Castro, THEN you can play (say) Wade at 2B, or possibly Refsnyder (not a SS so not in this analysis, but a bat-first utility guy who can sort-of play 2B). Refsnyder is 26 and no longer really a prospect, but while his brief stints with the Yankees have not been fruitful he HAS hit in the Minors (career OPS 807) and he is not awful at 2B.

MY WISH LIST: 1) Torres, 2) Wade 3) Castro/Wade 4) Castro/Refsnyder

MY ACTUAL PREFERENCE: 1) Castro/Refsnyder

MY PREDICTION: 1) Torreyes 2) Tejada 3) Castro/Refsnyder

Not Guilty

Posted by Baseball Bob at 14:03
Mar 232017

My loyal readers will have detected a familiar pattern: I resolve to blog often, do so for a few days, and then go silent. Days, weeks, months can pass with no word at all. I then wake up, renew my resolve, rinse and repeat. Not this time, though: I didn’t miss – the server stopped processing my site. I contacted my son, Mark, who generously piggy-backs my site onto his account (with Google, I think) and after some effort has me back up again. If you tried to go to Baseball-Bob.com you got the site not available message, but of course if you follow by RSS feed it just went silent.

Anyway, I followed the WBC avidly, and even stayed up to watch some of the west coast games. I admit that I failed to get to the end of any of them, because the Pool F games started at 10:15 my time, and the semi-finals and finals at 9:15, and I teach a religion class at 6:00 am, so it was just a bit too late. Anyway, in case you (along with 99% of America) missed it, the US qualified second in their first round pool, losing to Dominican Republic, squeaking by Colombia 3-2 and crushing Canada. In the second pool they squeezed by Venezuela, were beaten by Puerto Rico, and met Dominican Republic (the defending champion) in a winner-take-all rematch, which they managed to win.

On to LA they played undefeated Japan in the semi-final in a steady rain (in LA!) and the sloppy field ultimately gave them a break in the 8th inning when, with a runner on 3rd, a ground ball would have allowed a play at the plate, but the wet conditions caused a momentary bobble and the only play was to first, allowing the winning run to score in a 2-1 win. Puerto Rico, conquerors of USA in Pool F, beat Netherlands to set up a USA at PR final, with PR undefeated in the tourney. But Marcus Stroman decided to face only 18 batters in 6 innings (not perfect – a walk and a DP) and USA got their revenge and cruised to an 8-0 win and their first WBC title. It was so fun that I haven’t watched a single minute of the NCAA tourney, though now that it is over I may take a look ;-}

One casualty of the WBC: Yankee shortstop Didi Gregorius, playing IN AN EXHIBITION GAME for team Netherlands, hurt his shoulder and will not be available until May 1 at the earliest. 4 years ago Mark Teixeira was hurt in the WBC and basically was never the same player again. Fortunes of war. Players get hurt in spring training all the time – there is no real reason to think that it happens in the WBC any more often. But people still say it. Sigh.

Opening day is barely more than a week away (well, 10 days I guess, Sunday April 2). I expect to blog about that in the coming days.

I love this game!

HRs, anyone?

Posted by Baseball Bob at 07:51
Mar 092017

My playing around yesterday with Kershaw’s chances to get 300 wins (low) got me to looking at other career accomplishments (like 500 HRs) and looking at the leaderboards, I must admit that I had missed that Pujols now has 591 HRs – wow! His chances by the James tool are 99% (there is always a small chance of a career-ending injury). Oddly, though, his chance for 700 is not as large as you would think (24%) and he has NO established chance to break Bonds’ record. NOTE: I should have clarified yesterday, the tool doesn’t say “no chance” but “no established chance”. Obviously, we have no idea what Aaron Judge will be – he may mash 60 HRs a year and blow by Bonds in a dozen seasons, but the tool says it can’t see that happening on evidence to date.

This got me wondering (about HRs): Does ANYONE in the game today have an established non-zero chance to break Bonds’ record (762 HRs)? I of course didn’t run the numbers for all the players, but I did find this:

Chance of 763 HRs:

Mike Trout 5%

Wow! An established 5% chance after only 168 HRs. We know that Trout is a special player, but who knew? I don’t really even think of him as a super power guy, but he had 29 this year, down from 41 and 36 the two previous years, and he is just 24. Of course a 5% chance to do it is a 95% chance to NOT do it, but it is pretty remarkable none-the-less. Bryce Harper, if you were wondering, has no established chance to break the record.

Meanwhile, Israel completed its undefeated pool play, beating group runner-up Netherlands 4-2. Japan has emerged (no surprise) as the pool leader in the other far-east pool. Tonight’s game between Australia and Cuba may well decide the other spot: Japan has beaten them both, and Cuba has beaten China (Australia has yet to play them. The probable outcome is that the winner of this game will have two wins and second place in the pool, with Japan in first place.

Winning the pool carries no ACTUAL benefit, though: both teams go into a second-round pool, in which they will again play round robin, with two teams going into the knock-out, medal round. So China and Netherlands will join Japan and (probably) the Cuba-Australia winner for the next stage.

And play begins today in our own hemisphere. The USA is in a pool with Colombia, Dominican Republic and Canada – The USA should be one of the two best of these four (along with the Dominican) but neither Canada nor Colombia is a true pushover, and a loss to either puts our advancement at risk. We play 3 games in 3 days starting tomorrow, so by Sunday the next round will finalize.

No real news from spring training – no major injuries or other calamities. Many of the ML teams played against WBC teams yesterday, with some fun results (Venezuela beat the Royals 11-0, and the Twins beat USA 3-2).

I love this game!

Go Israel!

Posted by Baseball Bob at 12:01
Mar 082017

After beating host Korea 2-1 in 10 innings, Israel all but assured their entry into the second round with a 15-7 win over Chinese Taipei. And with Netherlands 5-0 win over Korea, Korea is in danger of not advancing for the first time (in 4 WBC). For Korea to advance now, Israel has to beat Norway and Taipei has to beat Norway also (with, of course, Korea beating Taipei). Weirder things have happened, but this has to be even more odds-against than Israel winning two games in the first place. and for Israel to fail to advance, Israel, Norway and Taipei all have to be 2-1 (all beating Korea), and Israel’s loss to Norway and Taipei’s win over Norway have to be so large as to wipe out their runs-differential over Taipei, currently at +17. So welcome to the second round, Israel!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: my final post of 2016 should probably echo this spring: I don’t KNOW that the Baby Bombers will actually be good: young players can break your heart. But it is MUCH more exciting to have an unknown team than a known one, unless the known one is like the Cubs (young AND proven) or includes a not-old player (Kershaw?) who is so good that he is chasing history.

Kershaw has 126 career wins, and is entering his age-29 season. Is he on pace to be a 300-game winner, in an era in which that is deemed essentially impossible? I would say it’s still odds-against, but then again so is he. His injury last season, limiting him to 12 wins, damages the Bill James estimation tool, since he still needs 174 wins and his current “rate” is only 15 wins per year (calculation: 3 x current + 2 x prior + previous all divided by 6) which means that he needs 11.73 more years. Bill James gives him only 6.6 more seasons (24 – .6 x age) so his “expected” wins is only 15 x 6.6 = 99, or 225 for his career. The formula for Kershaw’s 300 win chance is (99 – 174/2)/174 = 12/174 = 7%. If you think this is low, then so do I, but remember that he won only 12 games last year: the system doesn’t take into consideration injuries or rather it does: it counts them exactly like bad years!

Doing the same calculation for Kershaw LAST year, he had 114 wins, was 28, and had an established win rate of 17.66. Thus his expected future wins was 127 (instead of 99) and his chances for 300 wins were 127 – 186/2)/186 = 44/186 =24%. THAT seems more reasonable, but it ALSO seems reasonable that getting only 12 wins in your age-28 season has to hurt your chances. How much he bounces back this year, assuming he remains healthy and dominant, will determine how much progress he makes toward the goal. Just to bore you with more numbers, let’s assume that Kershaw wins 20 in 2017 (note: that would be only his third 20-win season ever). This makes his established win rate 18.33, his needed wins 154 and his years remaining 6, so the formula becomes (110 – 154/2)/154 = 33/154 = 21%. 300 wins is a tough goal!

I love playing with this system, but it is important to note that it estimates the chances that a great player will achieve a hard (counting) goal. If you want to estimate the chances that Brett Gardner will get 1500 career hits (he has 950) I suppose the method would work, but it is not designed to do so. The problem is the “years remaining” calculation. The formula 24 – .6 x age is an approximation of how many more years a good player can expect to play. It puts a 33-year-old at 4.2 which is reasonable for a very good player, but not necessarily for an OK player. And remember that this 4.2 is FULL YEARS – we are assuming that he can be expected to get 4.2 x 144 more hits in his career.

Thus you can’t project the number of HRs that Gary Sanchez will his in his career: he has NO established HR rate, NOR do we know how long he’ll play. But if you want to do career hits for Miguel Cabrera, well there is some history there to make some kind of an educated guess.

Enough rambling. The USA plays its first WBC game on Friday, and plays defending champ Dominican Republic on Saturday. The Yankees continue to win spring games (they are a spring-best 10-3) and not only doesn’t that matter AT ALL: I did a study once on the correlation between spring wins and regular season wins (very close to zero) and also when the last spring wins leader won the world series (I couldn’t find a single instance) but winning is still more fun than losing, and most of the Yankees under the microscope are playing will this spring.

More tomorrow, with any luck at all.

The WBC is under way!

Posted by Baseball Bob at 09:42
Mar 062017

Exciting times. The first game of the WBC has been played, and we already have our first upset. Lowest-ranked (41st in the world; every other team in the tourney is no worse than 20th) long-shot Israel somehow outdueled Korea 2-1 to win the opening game of the 2017 WBC. in case you missed it, which you almost surely did, Israel was the final team to qualify for the WBC, winning the final 4-team play in by beating Great Britain (4 years ago they lost that same game to Spain in extra innings). They are 200-1 to win the WBC, which most analysts consider very generous odds (1000-1 is probably more realistic). In fact, they WERE 60-1 against advancing, though with this win they will surely have much lower odds of making the next round.

There are 3 games today (that game was played today, our time, but yesterday in the far east), but the US doesn’t play until Friday, where we are home against Colombia.

This year is the USA’s best team ever, though many of the brightest stars (Mike Trout anyone?) still are missing in action. The 1992 Dream Team (Olympic Basketball) this decidedly ISN’T but at least our roster is major league players, a step forward from past WBCs. I think the Dominican (defending champs) is loaded, Japan is always dangerous, and Cuba a perpetual mystery. USA is in a 4-team bracket with the Dominican, so we can’t afford to lose to Colombia or Canada, or we risk not advancing (basically you have to win 2 of 3, so a loss to one of the others means we have to beat Dominican).

The games are available on mlb.tv and also the mlb cable network (if you get cable) but of course the far east games are played at an inconvenient hour. mlb.tv, which is effectively a dvr, solves this problem.

March Madness will be under way before the WBC is half over, so I may be the only American paying attention, but at least they have ONE fan.

Go USA!!!

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