Thursday, April 29, 2010

Game 21 WPA Chart

I wasn't able to watch much of the game, but I did find the time to look at the play by play and put together this kickass WPA chart.

Some thoughts:
  • How about that Robinson Cano fellow? Two homers, a double, three runs scored and a slick defensive play. He's now hitting .407/a billion/infinity. M-V-P, M-V-P, M-V-P... What? Too soon?

  • My prediction for A.J. Burnett's line was, um, considerably off. He put together another fantastic start (8 shutout innings) and once again stayed away from the three true outcomes (4K, 1BB, 0HR). He only allowed three hits to boot. As many baserunners as strikeouts? Dominance.

  • Marcus Thames continues to rake, tallying up a 3-4 performance and bumping his average up to .588. You're making it very difficult for me to bitch about your shitty defense, Mr. Thames.

  • Frankie Cervelli notched a base hit and has now reached safely in every game he's batted in this year.

  • Although it wasn't a save situation, Mo pitched the 9th. He walked Matt Weiters and struck out Miguel Tejada en route to a scoreless frame.

  • After picking up two hits last night, Curtis Granderson got back on the suck wagon with an 0-5. He's now 2 for his last 27.

  • That's a salvaged 5-4 road trip for the Yanks, making it 6 out of 7 series victories on the season.
That's all I got. Feel free to chip in any details I may have glossed over in the comments.

Game 21: Baltimore Todolo

As it stands, the Yankees are 4-4 on their current road trip. They went 3-3 during the West Coast swing, split the first two in the Charm City and will determine if the journey was a winning or losing one based on what happens tonight.

Brain Matusz takes the mound for the Orioles. Selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft, the 23 year old left hander made his major league debut last year. He faced the Yankees once last September, dominating them in Yankee Stadium to the tune of seven one run innings.

This season, he's pitched in four games and has lasted about six innings and given up three runs in each (give or take a frame or a run) giving him an ERA of 4.38. He's struck out more than one batter per inning and allowed just one home run, so his FIP is a run and a half lower than his ERA.

Matusz isn't overpowering. He throws around 60% fastballs, distributed about equally between his four-seamer and two-seamer, both of which come in around 90mph. His two-seamer rides inside to left handers and away from righties while his four seamer is straighter with a bit of sink. About one out of every 5 pitches is a changeup (in the 83mph area) while one of every 10 is a curveball (about 78mph).

A.J. Burnett gets the call for the Yankees today. Burnett has only allowed one home run so far this year, made possible by a rock bottom HR/FB ratio of 3.8%, compared to his career rate of 10.1%. The other two true outcomes have also come less frequently for A.J. in 2010 as he's walked just 2.8 batters per 9 innings and struck out only 5.7. The only thing he seems to be doing more of than usual is giving up hits (9.9/9IP compared to 7.9).

I'm not one for predictions, but it seems like Burnett is due for a regression-to-the-mean type start. If we went something like 6 innings, gave up two home runs, 4 hits, walked 4 and struck out 8, that would probably do the trick. Hopefully the offense will be there to pick him up.

[Song Notes: The original composition was done by prominent ragtime musician and Baltimore native Eubie Blake all the way back in 1909. The style of piano playing featured in the piece eventually came to be known as "stride", and Eubie was one of the innovators of the technique. Blake was born and raised in Baltimore, but he moved to New York once his career began to take off and lived there until he passed away in Brooklyn at the age of 96. Blake enrolled in NYU when he was in his mid-60's and graduated in 2 1/2 years, frequently appeared on Johnny Carson's and Merv Griffin's shows, was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Regan and had his music and life story adapted into a Broadway show bearing his name.]


Yankees: No Nick Johnson tonight as Marcus Thames fills in at DH and bats 6th against the lefty Matusz. Nick Swisher bats second in Johnson's place while the struggling Curtis Granderson gets the 7th spot, Francisco Cervelli the 8th and Brett Gardner bats second leadoff (9th).
Jeter SS
Swisher RF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Thames DH
Granderson CF
Cervelli C
Gardner LF
Orioles: After going 2 for 4 last night, Garrett Atkins finds himself back riding the pine this evening as the lefty-hitting Rhyne Hughes gets a crack at A.J. Burnett.
Adam Jones CF
Nick Markakis RF
Matt Weiters C
Miguel Tejada 3B
Luke Scott DH
Ty Wigginton 2B
Rhyne Hughes 1B
Nolan Reimold LF
Ceasar Izturis SS

Yet Another Linkaround

A fresh batch of links everyday is what you get when one blog author goes away on business and the other one has essentially no original material to offer. Better than nothing though, right?
Alex Remington of Big League Stew wonders if David Ortiz is nearing his end, the cartoon by Tuck from The Hardball Times implies that Papi already has.

If you only read one of these links, check out Jason Fry's post about finding a connection with someone he never knew through baseball.

Ben Shpigel of the NYT notes that a big part of the reason David Robertson has an ERA of 10.80 is that he's sporting a ridiculously high BABIP of .600 right now. Shpigel also recalls some of the unfortunate luck D-Rob has had in the past.

Larry from The Yankeeist mediated on the subject of Yankee blogging and hit on a lot of things I've thought about (and a few I hadn't).

The Yankees are looking for nominees of people and organizations to honor during HOPE Week. What's that? Oh well, that's awfully nice of you, but I don't think they would accept a vulgarly-titled sports blog for the honors.

Jorge Posada's knee was pretty swollen after the game and he probably isn't starting tonight. Joe Girardi stopped short of blaming Jeremy Guthrie and didn't imply that any of the plunkings were intentional but made it clear that he was frustrated by the incident.

Via Iracane, the Yankees single-A affiliate - the Charleston River Dogs - are now offering a pickle dog. Instead of a bun, the frank is served on a pickle. Yes, please.

Check out this graphic from Wezen-Ball which charts the careers of some of the longest tenured baseball broadcasters.

Parkes over at Drunk Jays Fans and Will Leitch both explained why the alleged beat writer Twitter crackdown is completely counterproductive.

It's probably safe to say that Rob Neyer is not in favor of expanding the rosters for the All-Star Game. Jason gives a point by point breakdown of his feelings on the issues.

Ross from NYY Stadium Insider has a small but helpful tip for the next time you are looking to buy tickets for a Yanks game. He figured out how to find out how many seats are in your row so you can determine how close you are to the aisle.

Russell Adams at the WSJ came up with a formula to rank the greatest Yankees of all time. Guess who comes in first.

Over at his blog, prolific commenter Matt on Earth asks a few questions about Ken Singleton and a few more about Kate Smith. Lisa from Subway Squawkers provides some answers in the comments.

Carson Cistulli gives a thoughtful response to a simple question.

Orioles prospect Chris Tillman threw a no-hitter in AAA last night and will probably be working his way back into their rotation soon.

Tango looks at the value split between pitchers and non-pitchers and finds that hurlers account for just over 40% in most years.

Matt Klaussen notes that while fans are likely to give GMs a hard time over a bad deal, they are far less inclined to rake a player's agent over the coals if they are the one who takes the short end of the stick. It's interesting, because a good fan roots for the organization and understands that the team is much larger than any one player can be. It usually doesn't make sense to root for management over labor, but it does when you are a fan of a team.

Dave Cameron talks about Mariners Manager Don Wakimatsu, the courage he has in his convictions and the way he attempts to transfer confidence to his players. You know, the kind of stuff that mangers do on a daily basis but fans never give them credit for.
Be back a little later with the preview.

Have The Yanks Over Or Underachieved So Far?

Good morning, Fackers. Through the first 1/8 of the season, the Yankees have won at a 65% clip, which, if continued throughout the entire season would net them 105 wins. Not too shabby, right?

Well, Darren Everson from the Wall Street Journal sees a bunch of guys who are well off their career numbers and determines that the Yanks haven't been that impressive:
The Yankees are hiding a dirty little secret: This team, despite its 13-7 record, actually hasn't played all that well.

We don't just mean over the past week, which saw them lose four of five before their 8-3 victory over the woeful Baltimore Orioles Wednesday night. We mean period.

...In total, there are probably 13 players on the 25-man roster who would be happy with their numbers if they maintained them all season. Yet not only are the Yankees playing .650 baseball, there's a feeling around the sport that this team is virtually certain to reach the postseason. Never mind that the Tampa Bay Rays, another team in the Yankees' division, have raced off to a 16-5 start.

This all means one of two things: Either the Yankees are going to be really scary once they get their individual acts together, or they're actually fortunate to be in the position they're in right now.
There are certainly guys on the Yankees who are struggling, but as a team they are balanced out by players who are performing better than expected. The Yanks' run differential aligns evenly with their actual record, so I disagree with Everson's implication that they "haven't played that well".

He names Mark Teixiera, Nick Johnson and Javier Vazquez are the prime Yankee underachievers and I think we can all agree that those guys are sure to improve as the season wears on. But the Yanks are also getting outstanding contributions from a lot of players that aren't likely to be maintain them once sample sizes start catching up to them.

Robinson Cano is hitting a scalding .390/.430/.701. He has 6 homers and 15 RBIs, paces that would add up to 48/120 for an entire season. Those aren't completely out of the question, but even the most ardent Cano supporters would settle for much less. Jorge Posada is at .316/.400/.649, a line that will be atrophied as the season wears on and he logs more innings behind the plate. Nick Swisher has a 140 OPS+ whereas the highest mark of his career is 129. Frankie Cervelli (185 OPS+) and Marcus Thames (240) have both contributed valiantly in their limited roles and will return to earth as they are given more and more chances.

On the pitching side of things, even with Vazquez's terrible start, the rotation has a 3.50 ERA. Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes have been outstanding, with ERAs of 1.29 and 2.00, respectively. CC Sabathia is off to a great start. If A.J. Burnett could keep his mark around 3.20, it would be the lowest of his career. The bullpen has had some bad moments but overall, they've combined for a 4.30 ERA.

The only DL stint served by a Yankee player has been the one by Chan Ho Park and he's probably the 20th most important player on the team. It'd be nice if everyone was healthy all year long, but we know that's not going to happen.

I think the last paragraph of the quote from Everson's piece is a false dichotomy. Over any 20 game stretch of a season, individual players are going to be producing above, at or below what their numbers for the year turn out to be. However, when you combine everyone's production together, it typically evens out. When Teixeira, Johnson and Vazquez get their acts together, Posada, Cano and Pettitte will be returning to earth. The Yanks have played well so far, even if a few key players haven't.