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Wednesday Halolinks: The numbers don't mean a thing

Who cares what the numbers say when the trouble runs much deeper.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

I admit it, I don't know how a major league team is run.  Or more specifically, I have no idea who makes the final decisions, sets the organizational goals, instills the team's thoughts on how the game is supposed to be played...from the minors all the way up to the big club, and who does the actual coaching.  How much of an impact do coaches like Mike Butcher really have on the way the club's pitchers throw the ball?  A little further down this post is an article about first pitch strikes, and how the Angels are last in the league at starting 0-1 in the at-bat.  Isn't this why they have a pitching coach, or is this on the pitchers?  Minor league coaches?  Scouting department?  Little league coach?  This also goes to last night's epic bed-shitting performance by Ernesto Frieri.  Who's fault is it he threw nothing but fastballs?  Was he just going off the advice of his pitching coach and trying to use his best pitch more effectively?  We read and analyze the stats for every little thing in an effort to figure out what happened, but without knowing why a player did the things he did, the numbers are pointless.  If Frieri has the ability to get major league hitter out using a slider, or change-up, or whatever, but his coach tells him to go out there and throw nothing but belt-high fastballs, why does it matter what the numbers say?  It doesn't.  So what if Fernando Rodney's next pitching coach tells him to throw his change-up more frequently and he has the best season of his career after leaving the Halos.  Or, Ervin Santana is having a fantastic season after leaving the Angels and adjusting which pitches he throws in certain situations.  The numbers can't fix stupid.

  • So here we go.  Top of the ninth, tied ballgame.  Who does Mike Scioscia bring into the game?  The one pitcher who is having trouble keeping the ball in the yard: New York Yankees at Los Angeles Angels - May 6, 2014 -  "Frieri got Yangervis Solarte to fly out after seeing five straight fastballs, then threw five more fastballs to strike out Brett Gardner."  Sure, it's the bottom of the Yankee batting order, but these are still major league hitters: Angels can't hold back Yankees in 4-3 loss - Los Angeles Times.  "No. 9 hitter Brian Roberts, who entered with a .239 average, no home runs and four runs batted in, drove a knee-high fastball from Angels reliever Ernesto Frieri over the right-field wall in the top of the ninth for the Yankees' game-winning run."  Ten pitches, ten fastballs.  What do you think Roberts was looking for?  Guessing game burns Frieri, Angels - The Orange County Register.  "Roberts, who hit his first homer of the year, said, contrary to Frieri’s expectation, he walked into the box ready to swing at a first-pitch fastball. "I’m not sure I’ve looked for anything else," he said."  And why would he.  Also within this post is this interesting tidbit: "Manager Mike Scioscia said he doesn’t view this as a setback to the rehabilitation of Frieri’s role."  Because performance apparently doesn't matter as long as we maintain the role.
  • And finally, here's what Frieri had to say about his pitch selection: Angels get no relief in 4-3 loss to New York Yankees - Los Angeles Times.  ""I feel good, man; my fastball was coming out good today, and I just made one mistake," Frieri said. "Everyone knew I was throwing a fastball. He was cheating on me, he put a good swing on it and hit it out. It’s crazy."  No, what's crazy is thinking that's crazy.  If everyone knew you were throwing fastballs, why not throw something different??
  • When are Josh Hamilton and Kole Calhoun supposed to be back?  Angels Afterthoughts: Yankees change on Wilson - Orange County Register.  "Raul Ibanez went hitless to drop to .138. Last year’s awful start bottomed out at .148 on April 24. He was hitting .167 on May 4 last year. Starting on May 7 – hey, that’s Wednesday – he hit .303 with nine homers over the next 20 games. Considering C.J. Cron lurking on the roster, it would be a good idea for Ibanez to get going about now…"
  • Hmmm, so maybe you might want to skip someone in the rotation so the other four starters stay on schedule.  Just a thought: Angels' Santiago eager to work on normal rest - The Orange County Register.  ""When you go through spring training, what your body is prepared to do is pitch every fifth day, and then you are pitching every sixth day," pitching coach Mike Butcher said. "It’s a little odd. It happens, but I think our guys are looking forward to pitching every fifth day." Although the starters have performed well overall, Butcher said the extra rest is not always a good thing. Across the majors last year, pitchers on four days rest had a 3.96 ERA, compared with 4.12 on five days. The Angels’ two experienced starters have shown that to be true in their careers, too. Jered Weaver has a 3.11 ERA on four days rest, compared with 3.67 on five days. C.J. Wilson has a 3.50 ERA on four days rest, compared with 3.88 with the extra day."
  • Here we go, the root of the problem: The Angels’ Reluctant Strike Throwers - FanGraphs Baseball.  "The Angels currently trail all of baseball with a 51.4 first pitch strike rate. The second lowest first pitch strike rate belongs to the Colorado Rockies at 56.1 percent. Not only have Rockies starters thrown nearly five percent more first pitch strikes, they may have a strategic reason to nibble early in the count (it’s starts with a watery beer and ends with "Field"). For the curious, the Yankees lead baseball with a 64.6 first pitch strike rate. Their entire staff is very serious about starting with an 0-1 count, led by CC Sabathia‘s 70 percent rate. Not only are the Angels bad at generating first pitch strikes, they’re historically bad. We have first pitch strike data going back to 2002. The 2004 Tampa Bay Devil Rays hold the distinction for the worst full season first pitch strike rate. It’s 54.4 percent. If the Angels don’t improve, they’ll have the worst first pitch strike rate in recent history."
  • "The world is made for people who aren't cursed with self awareness."  'Dude in White Shirt' at Rays game has no idea a ball is whizzing by his head - Yahoo Sports.  "Engaged in conversation with another dude in a light-colored shirt seated next to him, Whitey was caught unawares that  his number almost was up until the ball was basically past him. It's probably a good thing he didn't react to the sound of his impending doom, because he probably would have turned his head right into the ball's path. Only after the ball broke the sound barrier and slammed into the row of seats behind him — inducing the screams of other people in his section — did Whitey realize that something bad might be happening somewhere."
  • Hey, did you hear, that Jeter guy is retiring: New York Yankees at Los Angeles Angels - May 7, 2014 -  "In addition to the series finale settling the series, Wednesday will also mark Derek Jeter's final regular-season game at Angel Stadium, and the Angels plan to hold a pregame ceremony to honor the retiring Yankees captain, who has been cheered loudly throughout the first two games."
  • Here's the first instance of replay having a definite effect on the outcome of a game: Pirates win on overturned call against Giants, 2-1 - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  "The review umpires overturned the call on the field that Marte was the final out at the plate, giving the Pirates a 2-1 win against the San Francisco Giants Tuesday night at PNC Park on a walk-off video review."
  • BABIP: Separating fact from fiction - Beyond the Box Score.  "Rather than discuss 194 qualified hitters and their current BABIP and xBABIP numbers, I'd rather focus on that last column, titled "Differential." Here I simply found the difference between the players' current BABIP and calculated xBABIP (xBABIP - BABIP). Let's identify the top players who are underperforming their xBABIP at the moment based on how often they've hit the ball hard and/or how well they run. In other words, based on Zimmerman's work, these are the tough luck guys so far in 2014."
  • This is pretty amazing.  I've wasted spent at least a half hour figuring out the best way to spend a month: Baseball road trip: How to visit all 30 MLB stadiums in 30 days. "If visiting all 30 stadiums in 30 days sounds like a great idea to you, you’re in luck. The tool above, constructed by Ben, allows you to build your own road trip. Pick your home stadium and a start date, and the algorithm will shoot back a custom-made road trip that will take you to every stadium in America, and back to the city where your trip began, in 30 days or fewer."