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January 28, 2007

Loaded

Batting with the bases loaded, 2006:

Team
AVG / OBP / SLG
-- OPS
AVG+ / OBP+ / SLG+
-- OPS+
Plate
Apps.
Runs
Runs per PA
Runs as % of Total
CLE
.382 / .385 / .737
-- 1.122
128 / 116 / 154
-- 170
187
176
94%
20%
TEX
.358 / .392 / .623
-- 1.015
118 / 116 / 125
-- 141
171
153
89%
18%
CHW
.336 / .363 / .656
-- 1.019
111 / 107 / 131
-- 138
157
144
92%
17%
MIN
.333 / .359 / .570
-- .929
111 / 109 / 118
-- 127
167
149
89%
19%
DET
.330 / .358 / .487
-- .845
108 / 107 / 101
-- 108
134
110
82%
13%
NYY
.303 / .363 / .473
-- .836
100 / 109 / 96
-- 105
245
184
75%
20%
OAK
.297 / .350 / .481
-- .831
98 / 105 / 99
-- 104
203
156
77%
20%
LAA
.313 / .333 / .475
-- .808
103 / 100 / 99
-- 99
114
88
77%
11%
SEA
.285 / .313 / .462
-- .775
96 / 94 / 97
-- 91
150
115
77%
15%
KAN
.301 / .324 / .374
-- .698
97 / 95 / 75
-- 70
142
106
75%
14%
TOR
.236 / .287 / .417
-- .704
77 / 86 / 82
-- 68
167
113
68%
14%
TAM
.273 / .290 / .386
-- .676
91 / 87 / 79
-- 66
100
74
74%
11%
BOS
.236 / .280 / .388
-- .668
77 / 83 / 79
-- 62
211
136
64%
17%
BAL
.262 / .298 / .333
-- .631
86 / 89 / 68
-- 57
171
116
68%
15%
AL Avg
.303 / .335 / .490
-- .826
--
166
130
79%
16%

The “+” numbers are relative to the park-adjusted AL line with the bases loaded. As you can see, it’s deluxe hitting territory. The last column represents the percentage of the team’s total runs scored in bases-loaded appearances.

This chart partially explains how Oakland manage to finish near the league average in (park-adjusted) run scored despite finishing next-to-last in average and slugging. Notice the 203 bases-loaded plate appearances, third behind New York and Boston. How did the Athletics do it? Perhaps some luck, but also 650 walks, 133 more than the league average. Yes, contrary to the opinion of some, clogging up the basepaths really does help.

Also, woe is Tampa Bay.

Posted by Lucas at 11:17 PM

January 25, 2007

Why Sosa Will Rock

Have you seen the lineup for this year’s Coachella Festival? It includes:

Rage Against The Machine
Happy Mondays
Jesus and Mary Chain
Crowded House

Comebacks are in! Old is the new young!

Posted by Lucas at 06:31 PM

January 20, 2007

Pitchers OPS+ and Hitter Counterparts

Here’s a fun little game: turning every pitcher’s performance into a comparable batter. Below are the opposing batting lines for Ranger pitcher who faced at least 100 batters. The three hitters who most closely match that line are listed to the right. If none of the three qualified for the batting title, I listed a fourth who did. Just in case you're curious, I determined comparability by ranking the sums of the squares of the differences in average, on-base percentage and slugging between pitcher and hitter. Now that I’ve put you to sleep with the previous sentence, the list:

Pitcher
Opposing AVG/OBP/SLG
-- OPS
Opposing AVG+/OBP+/SLG+
-- OPS+
Most Comparable Batters ('06 Stats Only)
W. Littleton
.189/.275/.262
-- .538
68 / 81 / 59
-- 40
Jerry Hairston, Abraham Nunez, Paul Bako,
(Clint Barmes)
A. Otsuka
.241/.276/.318
-- .594
87 / 81 / 71
-- 52
Miguel Cairo, Neifi Perez, Cesar Izturis,
(Ronny Cedeno)
J. Benoit
.224/.314/.310
-- .624
81 / 92 / 70
-- 62
Brandon Fahey, Matt Treanor, Alex Cora,
(Adam Everett)
S. Feldman
.266/.324/.373
-- .697
96 / 95 / 84
-- 79
Julio Franco, Jack Wilson, Chone Figgins
F. Cordero
.265/.325/.395
-- .720
96 / 95 / 89
-- 84
Randy Winn, Jason Michaels, Jeff Conine
C. Wilson
.234/.326/.395
-- .722
85 / 96 / 89
-- 85
Jason Varitek, Joe Borchard, Chuck Finley,
(Jhonny Peralta)
R. Bauer
.272/.338/.381
-- .718
99 / 99 / 85
-- 84
Adam Kennedy, Sean Casey, Chone Figgins
J. Rupe
.287/.344/.374
-- .718
104 / 101 / 84
-- 85
Nick Punto, Shannon Stewart, Mark Loretta
K. Millwood
.272/.317/.418
-- .735
99 / 93 / 94
-- 87
Kevin Mench, Jesse Barfield, Omar Infante
R. Mahay
.250/.335/.412
-- .747
91 / 98 / 92
-- 90
Matt Stairs, Cliff Floyd, Jose Bautista,
(Hank Blalock)
V. Padilla
.266/.338/.419
-- .757
96 / 99 / 94
-- 93
Julio Lugo, Chris Burke, Cory Snyder,
(Tony Graffanino)
R. Tejeda
.288/.360/.438
-- .797
104 / 106 / 98
-- 104
Edgar Renteria, Russ Martin, Connor Jackson
J. Wasdin
.266/.355/.468
-- .822
96 / 104 / 105
-- 109
Austin Kearns, Jim Edmonds, Aubrey Huff
J. Koronka
.294/.356/.468
-- .824
107 / 104 / 105
-- 109
Ryan Garko, Ryan Zimmerman, Magglio Ordonez
K. Loe
.317/.359/.486
-- .845
115 / 105 / 109
-- 114
Andrew Ethier, Mike Lamb, Gary Matthews
A. Eaton
.299/.366/.483
-- .848
108 / 107 / 108
-- 115
Andrew Ethier, Mike Lamb, Jose Reyes
J. Rheinecker
.349/.393/.477
-- .869
126 / 115 / 107
-- 122
Freddy Sanchez, Derek Jeter, Russ Johnson
E. Volquez
.359/.427/.538
-- .965
130 / 125 / 121
-- 146
Joe Mauer, Miguel Cabrera, Joe Bard

UPDATE: Oops. Anyone notice that C.J. Wilson's third comparable is Chuck Finley? That should be Steve.

Posted by Lucas at 12:33 PM

January 16, 2007

Spot The Trend

I'm not going to outright reject the idea that Sammy Sosa can still play Major League Baseball capably. But I do see a trend:

Year
Age
Plate Apps.
Home Run Rate
Walk Rate
Intentional Walks
2001
32
711
9.0%
16.3%
37
2002
33
666
7.4%
15.5%
15
2003
34
589
6.8%
10.5%
9
2004
35
539
6.5%
10.4%
4
2005
36
424
3.3%
9.2%
3
2006
37
0
0.0%
0.0%
0

Posted by Lucas at 09:12 PM

All Arb-Eligible Players Signed

Texas signed outfielder BRAD WILKERSON to a one-year deal for $4.35 million, reliever AKINORI OTSUKA to a one-year deal for $3.00 million, and reliever RICK BAUER to a one-year deal for $735,000, avoiding arbitration with all three.

Reasonable contracts for all three given the strictures of arbitration. A player taking a pay cut in arbitration is as rare as a unicorn, so even Wilkerson gets a 12% raise after his lost 2006. Jon Daniels has absorbed his predecessor’s loathing of arbitration hearings.

Texas now has 14 players signed for a sum of $69.265 million, ignoring incentives.

Posted by Lucas at 04:42 PM

Special Weekday Photo


My roof, 16 Jan 2007. Austin shuts down completely every couple of years or so. This is why.

UPDATE: Relatedly, here's the graphic from local station KXAN:


Is anything sillier than local television news? For a meteorologist in Austin, icy weather must be better than sex.


Posted by Lucas at 01:17 PM

January 15, 2007

Benoit Signed

Texas signed reliever JOAQUIN BENOIT to a one-year contract for $1.05 million, thus avoiding arbitration.

Benoit gets a fairly modest raise over last year’s base of $750,000. He held opposing batters to a nice line of .224/.314/.310 overall (roughly speaking, he turned everyone into Brandon Fahey or Matt Treanor) and stranded 34 of 44 runners, a better rate than all but Wes Littleton. He also posted an uninspiring 4.86 ERA and has no lock on a roster spot. All pitchers melt down on occasion, but some of Benoit’s were painfully memorable, including allowing three runs in That Game and permitting a bases-clearing lead-losing triple to Adam Everett just three days later.

Benoit had one of the flakiest set of splits I’ve ever seen:

None on -- .240/.327/.340
Runner on first only -- .110/.217/.110
Runners in scoring position -- .298/.374/.381

Yes, with only a runner on first, Benoit’s opposing batters went 8-for-73, all singles, with 10 walks and 30 strikeouts.

Posted by Lucas at 11:51 PM

January 12, 2007

Meyer DFA'ed To Make Room For Trade Acquisition

Texas traded pitcher JOHNNY LUJAN to the Chicago White Sox for catcher CHRIS STEWART. Stewart joins the 40-man roster, and Texas has designated infielder DREW MEYER for assignment.

Stewart was Chicago’s 12th rounder in 2001. He’ll start in AAA with a chance to back up Gerald Laird in Texas. Stewart batted pretty well in AA as a 23-year-old (.286/.341/.460) but backslid to .265/.314/.393 in AAA last year. Lujan is two years younger and hit a big wall in high-A Bakersfield last year after gliding through lower levels in 2004-2005. So Texas gets the sure thing, albeit a drab one, in exchange for a longshot.

To clear space for their shiny new fourth catcher, the Rangers designated the tenth-overall pick on the 2002 draft. Drew Meyer depended heavily on a high batting average in college and has yet to develop much patience or power in five years in the minors. He never posted better than a .789 OPS except during a brief return to the Rookie League in 2004.

I loathe the “We drafted X when we could’ve have Y!” game because no team survives it. The best GMs on the planet routinely pass up future studs. However, I would note that the subsequent seven picks were Jeremy Hermida, Joe Saunders, Khalil Greene, Russ Adams, Scott Kazmir, Nick Swisher and Cole Hamels. On the other hand, Picks 1, 3 and 5 were Bryan Bullington, Chris Gruler and Clint Everts. It’s a tough racket, the draft.

Posted by Lucas at 07:03 PM

Weekend Photo


Jack, 20 Dec 2006.

Posted by Lucas at 06:34 PM

January 10, 2007

Thoughts On The Steroid Era

Today, Ken Rosenthal defended Paul Ladewski’s blank Hall Of Fame ballot:

As for the Ripken and Gwynn snubs, without question, they're difficult to fathom. But I've got no problem with Paul Ladewski of the Daily Southtown in suburban Chicago submitting a blank ballot because of his reluctance to vote for any player from the Steroid Era.

Notice the phrasing. Rosenthal didn’t place Steroid Era in quotes or call it the “so-called Steroid Era.” The appellation is apparently uncontroversial and beyond dispute, no different than, say, the Cretaceous Period. Rosenthal didn’t invent the term, of course. Writers and fans have used it freely for years.

I think such blanket classifications are wonderful. In fact, I would like to contribute to our collective baseball edification by categorizing most of baseball’s history into Eras.

  • 1887-1946: The Racial Purity Era
  • 1946-1978: The Amphetamine Era
    (Except for June 12, 1970, when Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter under the influence of LSD.)
  • 1979-1992: The Cocaine Era
    (Okay, coke use tapered off by the late 80s, but I doubt players were heavy into Ecstasy. Not on the field, anyway.)
  • 1993-2004: The Steroid Era
  • 2005-Present: The Moral Purity Era
As mentioned by Rosenthal in his previous Hall-ballot column, “Voters can’t correct past mistakes.” He’s right, but in all seriousness, why not? The Hall rules weren’t carried down from Mount Sinai on a stone tablet. If the voters are truly adamant about upholding the sanctity of the Hall, amend the rules and cast out the folks who helped institute the “color line” (Cap Anson, A.G. Spalding), commissioned a fabricated history to make baseball “more American” (Spalding again), admitted distributing illegal drugs to teammates (Willie Stargell), or cheated on the field (Gaylord Perry). Then, they’ll have a Hall that befits their sense of righteousness.

I’m not trying to be an apologist for Mark McGwire. He wiggled like a worm in front of Congress. Maybe he drank “cream” and “clear” smoothies for breakfast every morning. But forget maybes. Here are some facts:

  • Mark McGwire admitted to using the steroid androstenedione.
  • McGwire retired after 2001.
  • Major League Baseball had no policy regarding andro or other steroids until 2003. No rules, no testing, no suspensions, no nothing.
  • The United States did not illegalize andro until 2003.

Absent proof of ingestion of other substances, the voters have punished McGwire for legal activity. Paul Ladewski’s blank-ballot assertion is that he can’t determine who used and who didn’t, so everyone’s guilty until proven innocent. That sounds more like cycnicism than a moral stand. I would love to know his voting history, and whether he investigated steroid use during the 1990s, and if he has any record of ferreting out plagiarism and other journalistic malpractices at the Daily Southtown. Also, what prevented him from voting for pre-Steroid Era players like Jim Rice or Alan Trammell, if he felt they were worthy?

Finally , I usually enjoy Rosenthal, but his opener is painful:

First of all, don't rip the eight voters who failed to vote for Cal Ripken and the 13 who failed to vote for Tony Gwynn. It's a free country, last time anyone checked.

You shouldn’t criticize people with whom you disagree because it’s a free country? I didn’t take civics in college, but that sure sounds backwards to me.

Posted by Lucas at 06:37 PM

January 08, 2007

Run Scoring At Home And Abroad

Several Rangers have struggled to hit on the road, most notably Hank Blalock and the departed Alfonso Soriano, giving the Rangers a reputation as a poor road-hitting team. Failure to hit on the road possibly cost the team a division title in 2004.

This reputation no longer conforms to reality. Texas hasn’t achieved a .500 record during the last two years, but road hitting should not bear the blame. Indeed, last year a weak home performance contributed to an inexcusable losing record in Arlington.

The following tables show Texas’s abilty to score at home and on the road during 2003-2006. The AL average runs scored per game was adjusted for park and for home team. Irrespective of location, home teams tend to hit slightly better than visitors. All adjustments use one-year factors (no smoothing using multiple years of data), and figures are rounded. Note that The Ballpark reverted from “insanely hitter-friendly” to “reasonably hitter-friendly” in 2005.

RANGER HOME GAMES
2003
2004
2005
2006
AL Runs Scored per Game
4.89
5.01
4.76
4.97
Park Adjustment
1.22
1.22
1.08
1.08
Home Adjustment
1.01
1.01
1.02
1.04
Adjusted League-Average Runs Scored per Game
6.00
6.14
5.24
5.57
Texas Runs Scored per Game
5.93
6.06
5.79
5.28
Run Index
99
99
110
95

RANGER ROAD GAMES
2003
2004
2005
2006
AL Runs Scored per Game
4.89
5.01
4.76
4.97
Park Adjustment
0.98
0.98
0.99
0.99
Home Adjustment
0.99
1.00
0.99
0.98
Adjusted League-Average Runs Scored per Game
4.76
4.91
4.69
4.80
Texas Runs Scored per Game
4.27
4.56
4.89
5.02
Run Index
90
93
104
104

Posted by Lucas at 07:00 PM

January 06, 2007

Hairston Signed

Texas signed utility guy JERRY HAIRSTON JR. to a minor-league contract.

After my initial reaction (“Aaaaa!”) subsided, I decided this deal makes sense. Hairston, while by no means a good hitter, isn’t nearly as bad as last season’s display. He can play anywhere but catcher and probably can reach base near the league-average rate. As long as the new skipper doesn’t fall into the trap of believing Hairston’s is anyone’s platoon mate or a top-flight defensive specialist, all is well.

It’s a hard fall for a player who competed for starting 2B with the Cubs last March, and, to my knowledge, was seeking a full-time job this winter. Hairston is only 30 and made $2.3 million last year. Now, instead of getting DeRosa money, he’s an NRI.

Posted by Lucas at 12:51 PM

January 04, 2007

Summary of Ranger Hitters By Fielding Position

Here’s a summary of the information presented throughout the last month. I use a two-year park factor and apply two-thirds of the weight to the most recent season. The Ballpark hasn’t been as crazily hitter-friendly during 2005-2006 as it prior years. The factors are:

Average: 1.005
On-Base %: 1.005
Slugging: 1.020

The Ballpark has a Runs factor of 1.037.

That “P” in front of OPS+ and other stats means “position;” it calculates how Rangers perform relative to other players in the league at a particular fielding position. Also, keep in mind that if you divide the team’s OPS by the league-average OPS, you will not derive OPS+. OPS+ is calculated by adding OBP+ and SLG+, then subtracting 100 (which is why, as you’ve probably noticed, some really terrible hitters have a negative OPS+).

Positions ordered by OPS+.

Pos.
Park-Adjusted
League-Average
(AVG/OBP/SLG
-- OPS)
Texas Rangers
(AVG/OBP/SLG
-- OPS)
P-AVG+
AL Rank
P-OBP+
AL Rank
P-SLG+
AL Rank
P-OPS+
AL Rank
2B
.281/.333/.402 --
.735
.292/.357/.459 --
.816
104
6
107
2
114
2
121
2
SS
.281/.333/.418 --
.751
.307/.349/.441 --
.790
109
4
105
5
105
4
110
4
1B
.280/.353/.476 --
.829
.275/.364/.505 --
.869
98
6
103
5
106
6
109
6
CF
.276/.335/.443 --
.778
.292/.349/.457 --
.806
106
3
104
4
103
6
107
5
LF
.281/.349/.459 --
.807
.273/.341/.469 --
.810
97
11
98
7
102
6
100
6
C
.271/.332/.425 --
.756
.274/.313/.440 --
.753
101
7
94
11
104
8
98
8
3B
.270/.340/.451 --
.790
.282/.348/.429 --
.777
104
5
102
4
95
9
98
8
RF
.287/.350/.478 --
.828
.271/.319/.424 --
.743
94
11
91
13
89
14
80
14
DH
.267/.351/.481 --
.832
.238/.309/.410 --
.719
89
13
88
13
85
12
73
12
Team
.276/.341/.446 --
.784
.278/.338/.446 --
.784
101
8
99
9
100
7
99
3

Posted by Lucas at 05:44 PM