Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Austin Jacks One

We just copyrighted that headline.

Don't even think about it, John Sterling.

It takes a lot to get me excited about about a Spring Training. This would fall under the category of "a lot".

Boom. A grand slam against the Red Sox by my favorite Yankee farmhand.

13 days...

I Knew It Was Too Good To Be True

When the initial reports of $6 beers at the New Yankee Stadium came out yesterday, I was thrilled. Even though they only serve schwilly light beer at the Stadium and it's miserably overpriced, it's a lot of fun to hike up to the upper deck and do some day drinking.

Frank, Big Wille Style and I put away our fair share of $9.50 brewskis last year (and $9 the year before) while sitting in our Saturday Package seats in Sec 7, Row M. Despite the fact that we got shut out of our Saturday games this year, I was looking forward to not getting bent over every time I ponied up for a cold one. I thought maybe they were throwing fans a bone because of the economy. Of fucking course not.

As always, New Stadium Insider saw through the P.R. bullshit and discovered that the beers they are offering for $6 are only 12oz, whereas last year it was $9.50 for 20oz. The price per ounce actually increased slightly (from $0.48 to $0.50). Guess we will still be packing a flask of Jameson or Johnnie Walker this year.

Furthermore, our resident Culinary Correspondent HowFresh Eats notified me that Citi Field's food options destroy those at the New Yankee Stadium:

Did you know that that Citi Field is completely outfitted by Danny Meyer? Shake Shack, Blue Smoke and several other spots. While we get Johnny Rockets and Hard Rock. That pisses me off to no end.
Ever heard of Shake Shack? HowFresh did some intrepid reporting on the location near my apartment a few months back. It is out of this world. Take a look at the what fans at Citi Field are going to be able to choose from. Now tell me you wouldn't take those options in a tenth of a second over what they've got in the Bronx.

Like Ben at River Ave. Blues, I'm just not that excited about the food options at the New Digs. I pretty much never ate anything from the Old Stadium (outside of the Stadium Club), but that was because the food was disgusting. They had a chance to start over but kept the same crappy holdovers, I mean... "Traditional Favorites" like Famiglia Pizza, Premio Sausage, Nathan's Famous and Carl's Steaks.

Some new additions sound pretty good, like the Latin Corner (Cuban sandwiches & burritos), Soy Kitchen (sushi), and Noodle Bowls, but I'm probably still going to opt for a quick sandwich from Lenny's and eat it on the subway ride up. When I go to Citi Field though... I'm bringing my appetite.

Doing Splits

I don't play fantasy baseball, but I would like to give you some advice if you do.

Let someone else draft Matt Holliday.

I'm guessing there is some sucker in your league that is going to have their perception skewed by his 2nd place finish in the 2007 NL MVP voting or Woody Paige's homeristic knob slobbery. Perhaps they remember the play at the plate in the 13th inning against the Padres in the 163rd game of the '07 season and subsequent World Series run and snatch him up in the first round. Unfortunately for them, he will now be hitting in the spacious McAfee Coliseum which would harm any hitter's offensive production, let alone someone with Holliday's home/road splits.

If you are a fan of any team with money to spend in the 2010 offseason, you may want to pay attention to this as well, because he will be a free agent (represented by Scott Boras) next year.

Five years is a pretty damn large sample size and those differences are staggering. I can see a player's slugging percentage varying dramatically from home to away based on the dimensions and conditions of other parks, but his average and OBP are both far lower away from Coors. As friend of the blog Simon said on GChat yesterday, he's is like Manny Ramirez at home and Xavier Nady on the road. Look at those guys' stats. He's dead on.

The good news for Holliday owners and A's fans is that his numbers on the road have continually improved throughout his career. Although he didn't have a particularly good year in 2008, his splits were the least dramatic of his five years in the league. That was both a function of his home numbers dropping (especially slugging) and his road numbers getting better.

On other astonishing nugget I found along while perusing his Baseball Reference pages was that his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was .324 on the road, which is well above the league average (+/- .290). But at home... it's .382. Wow.

(Chart via FanGraphs)

That's not a single season fluke. That took place over the course of 5 seasons and almost 350 games. Granted, the better a hitter is, the better his BABIP will be, given that the ball comes off the bat of the best players the hardest, making it more difficult to field. That said, Manny Ramirez's career BABIP is .344, Albert Puljos's is .323 and A-Rod's is .327. Holliday's overall is .356.

Coors Field installed a humidor in 2002 to counteract the effects of altitude, but it appears as though BABIP is skewed higher in Denver. Todd Helton has a pretty significant home/away BABIP split (.358 to .313). Garrett Atkins (.351 to .279) and Troy Tulowitski (.330 to .302) do too.

It should be interesting to watch Holliday this season, and as fans of AL teams, we will have a few chances to do so. I'm still a little dumbfounded by these numbers, but all signs point to the former Rockie falling off this year with out the assistance of altitude. One thing is for sure though, no matter what happens, Scott Boras is going to be demanding way too much for him next offseason.