Well, boys and girls, here we are on the verge of the last full week of spring training. One more lap. I don't know about you, but I am gettin' totally ripped from the rising adrenaline rush as we get closer. There shall be time enough for the monotony of routine that comes from game after game after game among the normal summer months loaded with distractions. But this is spring! Here comes Opening Day! Fresh mowed grass and the beer is not yet stale! And just enough time left to start making roster cuts of dead weight...
- Trout Porn: Can Mike Trout get even better? I am on the record as suggesting that Trout is still toying with pitchers and, as giddily incredible as he has been to date, he is gonna eventually turn into an offensive predator of a caliber not seen for some 140 million years. (Oddly needing to update here: somehow the article to which I am linking has now been placed on our own front page, meaning that I am now linking to...uh...here.)..........Mike Trout is just impossible to pitch to. "I’m not sure you can stop him entirely, so you basically just try to control him. You just try to keep the ball in the ballpark. If he gets on base—so be it. Sometimes that’s the best result." Think about that. Letting. Him.Get. On, Base. Is. Sometimes.The. BEST. Result. I love that...........Mike's nickname sucks. Folks these days just don't allow handles themed from the 1920's to resonate. It is what it is. So we need to invent a new one for today's mindset. You know, that modern mindset that gets easily......squirrel!........
- Ernesto Frieri: Frieri is looking for a new walk up tune. And, seriously, he's now accepting suggestions. "They have been really good to me, tweeting me links of songs to look at," Frieri said. "I just want to make sure it's the right one for me this year. It has to be something that whenever I listen to it, I'm ready to pitch." Come on, people, we can do this.
- Erick Aybar: Aybar has had an epiphany. Getting on base more often might be a pretty good plan to take up to the plate. So, like, he's working on taking walks. "...[Jerry] Dipoto said he believes Aybar has consciously tried something new, and Aybar said as much earlier in the spring." God Bless Don Baylor?
- Josh Hamilton: Mike Scioscia is looking to fiddle with the middle of the order and drop Hamilton out of the 4 hole against lefties. Why? Well, probably because of that time-tested and scientificalmagically proven fact of lineup protection. "We're going to work around the middle at times until we get it settled," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "But we definitely want Albert to get his opportunities to hit with guys in scoring position, so you have to set the table in front of him and hopefully have some guys behind him. So we might work that a little bit. We'll see how it goes, though..."
- Readiness, Part 3: Still keeping tabs...'cuz I can.
|Player||AB to Date||Current Rank Among All MLB Players||Rank Last Week||Rank Two Weeks Ago|
|Chris Iannetta - C||24||tied for 471st||tied for 537th||tied for 469th|
|Albert Pujols - 1B||37||tied for 111th||tied for 128th||tied for 319th|
|Howie Kendrick - 2B||37||tied for 111th||tied for 205th||tied for 319th|
|David Freese - 3B||33||tied for 222nd||tied for 349th||tied for 319th|
|Erick Aybar - SS||34||tied for 191st||tied for 296th||tied for 319th|
|Josh Hamilton - LF||9||tied for 767th||(dead last)||(dead last)|
|Mike Trout - CF||40||tied for 64th||tied for 87th||tied for 244th|
|Kole Calhoun - RF||46||tied for 14th||tied for 58th||tied for 85th|
|Raul Ibanez - DH||33||tied for 222nd||tied for 167th||tied for 319th|
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This Date In Baseball History: 1908 - Ty Cobb signs a contract that will pay him a base salary of $4000 for the upcoming season, plus a bonus of 4800 should he hit over .350. He will, indeed, lead the league in hitting that season. But at only .324, he will not collect his bonus...........1957 - The Reds report that they have signed a TV-radio broadcasting deal that will pay $9.3 million............1965 - Gary Kroll and Gordie Richardson combine for he first no-hitter in Spring Training history as the Mets defeat the Pirates 6-0..........1966 - The Dodgers and Astros play an exhibition game in the Houston Astrodome, becoming the first teams to play a pro game on turf..........1968 - This explains a lot. The expansion Kansas City franchise announces their new team name, the Royals. This is in tribute to the KC Negro League franchise, The Monarchs, which played in "The City of Fountains" for 45 seasons..........1978 - Alvin Dark becomes only the second manager in history to be fired during Spring Training..
Great Moments in Baseball Statistical History
(My primary source for this series is the excellent book The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics, Alan Schwarz author, Thomas Dunne Books Publisher.)
George R. Lindsey
Baseball Meets a Hard Scientist
Last week I included a passage from Schwarz at the end, which referenced military strategists who were supposed to be using statistical approaches to determine flight formations and, instead, were using those skills to dive into baseball events. This is true, as it really happened with one George R. Lindsey. Lindsey, a Canadian, came from a decent line of accomplished relatives, including several generations of military heroes. He also happened to marry quite well. His wife was a biological scientist herself who published formulative and influential work concerning molecular structure, her research partner winning a Noble Prize and her work being a foundational basis for her lab mates across the hall, James Watson and Francis Crick. So our George comes to us with some serious street cred.
Lindsey was spending his day hours trying to model the asymmetrical nature of warfare for the purposes of planning for warfare engagements in the Canadian military. To further his efforts and improve his results, he cast about to find some parallel forms of human endeavor that might be useful study targets in order to improve his models. Baseball, because of the inherent nature of strategy-action-stop-measure, made for an excellent study target. Besides, George loved baseball.
Dragging his father (retired military himself) into the cause, George proceeded to exhaustively record and deconstruct nearly 6,400 half innings, every single situation and play and outcome, all by hand. Through the subtraction of what the situation was prior to the action, from the outcome of the action itself, Lindsey was able to work through the problem of determining the statistical value of many specific strategic plans and multiple outcomes. In two seminal publications posted in the scientific journal Operations Research, Lindsey was able to formally prove for the first time that left-handed batters have an edge over right-handed batters if facing a right-handed pitcher. Or whether or not it was wise to play at double-play depth versus drawing in the infield when the bases were loaded early in a game with no outs in the inning. He was also able to formulate the run value of a base hit, a double, a triple and a home run. Coming to close to the same values as F.C. Lane decades earlier, Lindsey's values were pretty close to what are in use today (computers have made all the difference). And, to the actual reference point of science, it was Lindsey who was now introducing the practice of probability theory to his calculations. Baseball had met hard science. And the year was 1959, right about the time when the majority of today's MSM was being born.
- Foreshadowing: Here is something to think about when pondering a Mike Trout extension. AAA prospect George Springer, he of only 62 games at that level, rejected an offer from the parent MLB club Houston Astros that equated to $23 million over seven years. Springer has yet to even sniff the major leagues and has hit a measly .161 in spring this year. The deal was projected to buy out Springer's club-controlled years, his three arb years, and one FA year. While Springer is listening to his agents forecasting huge arbitration awards, all I can think of of Brandon Wood.
- OT: Ok, this is way off topic, but it's March, so it is topical. And brilliant. My money is on a Final Four of Duke Fans versus Trekkies, the winner going up against either Anti-Vaccination Nuts or Christian Conservatives, who will stave off a near upset by Breastfeeding Advocates.
- Baseball, The Dating Game: This should make perfect sense to anybody who has cruised past the Budweiser Pavilion on game nights. I've been married for 30 fabulous years, so it doesn't apply to me, and yet I can certainly appreciate the new world order in modern relationship creation. So when I read that MLB is partnering with Match.com for single team fans of every franchise, I have to admit to the cleverness of it all. It seems like a more productive plan for putting "more butts in the seats" than rally monkey click-clacks.
- Promos: You know I get pretty jacked at awesome promo events throughout baseball. And you should also know that I mock the lameness that is the creativity flowing forth from the bright young minds of State College Boulevard. But, in their defense, lameness turns out to be pretty common throughout MLB. My fave is the Mets giveaway listed. "Mets...to honor that than with a 1969 commemorative Nolan Ryan bobblehead on May 10 against the Phillies? Trade it for a Jim Fregosi bobblehead and watch it strike out 5,221 bobbleheads over the next 22 years."
Video Of The Week
(In honor of MLB Opening Day 2014, I give you Barehanded Baseball)
(Having troubling viewing the video? Click here.)
It's just a $4 baseball. Let's show some dignity, kid..........It's true. We traded Scioscia for Gretzky. And, no, it's not fantasy sports or trading cards. We are talking real people..........Meet the god of all corndogs. Large enough to feed an entire family. Priced accordingly..........NHL player Rich Preverly collapses on the bench and dies, gets revived, and asks to go back into the game. MLB star Adrian Gonzalez goes sightseeing in Australia, has an owie in his back, takes himself out of a game...........Yesterday, Craig Goldstein wrote a cute little piece of satire with Mike Trout as the foil, and won the Internet. The comments are priceless...........Hieroglyphic uniforms. Because Minor League Baseball is just too damned fun. Far superior to these jingle bells jerseys.
And now, being the full service weekend linkage institution that we are, here is the obligatory moment we take out of each Friday...for beer...
Friday: Head on over to Steingarten LA for Abbey Beverage Company's Monk's Ale & Raven Beers "Edgar Allen Poe Series" Pint Night.
Saturday: Zoom down to San Diego for Craft Beer For Us, Water For People. That one gets bonus points just for attitude...........Closest to the Stadium, The Catch in Anaheim is doing FirkFest. Featuring local craft breweries, it's also happening at Farmers park there in Anaheim..........38 Degrees Ale House & Grill in Alhambra is putting on Sam Fest - The Inaugural Los Angeles Barleywine Festival...........Or, gather for the South Bay Beer Club Event #3 at O'Flaherty's Pub in San Jose. How did I miss #'s 1 & 2??
Sunday: Artisan Wine Depot, in two locations (Mountain View and Los Gatos) are hosting a Sunday Beer Tasting, featuring Prairie Ales and Jolly Pumpkin.
Stay safe, everyone!