Baseball Jeremiad


A Curiously Intelligent Baseball blog

Cleaning Up the Reader (Vol. 3)

And finally, we’re caught up.  Almost.

The Mets are doing the Little Things.  Matt Klaassen explains.

Grant Balfour is throwing slower, yet more effectively in this young season.

MLB Trade Rumors offers some interesting odds and ends.  One such end: Sweet Lou isn’t Cincy bound.

Joe Posnanski feels for Zach Greinke.  I think Zach must feel for himself too.

A great Cleveland Indians take down.  Worth your five minutes.  Thank you, Bruce Dennan:  “We stink, stink.”

You say Sandoval, I tell my middle infielders to “roll it up.”

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An April Showdown?

The Mets are heading to Philadelphia this week for a three-game series.  Well, this is what Omar Minaya wanted, right?  Meaningful games in April!

In other news:

The Mets completed a sweep of the Dodgers today. 

Not even the elements could stop the Mets. 

Skipper Manuel is going to stick with Ollie come what may. 

Those footsteps you hear belong to Jimmy Rollins. 

The Brad Lidge cometh.

(Sorry, but two more Howard links — and the guys who wrote ’em ain’t schlubs)

John Heyman likes the Howard deal.

Joe Posnanski does not.

MLB Trade Rumors says that the Phillies’ talks with Jayson Werth are at an impasse.  Two things can happen here, it seems: the Phillies re-sign worth and he continues to kill the Mets; or, the Mets sign Werth and he becomes a poor man’s Pat Burrell.

The Joy of Sox tells us that Red Sox keep playing one-run games.  My baseball instincts tell me that doesn’t speak well for the team’s future.

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When Reality Mirrors Perception

My father and I have a running list of guys who “kill the Mets.”  For example, Chipper Jones always killed the Mets.  My father recalls Willie Mays absolutely killing the Mets.  There are also lesser known players who we perceive to “own” a certain team. 

For example, in a book written by the folks at Baseball Prospectus a couple of year ago, they review the perception about Mark Redmond “owning” Tom Glavine.  In a summary that doesn’t do justice to the amount of work they put into the chapter, the phenomena of the small sample size seems to rule the day.  That’s not to say, however, that certain players don’t have more success against some players than others.  In fact, this doesn’t even mean that certain players don’t play above their seeming statistical ability against players of necessarily more talent. 

In The Entitled, Frank Deford writes a scene in which the manager, Howie Traveler, uses an all-field, no-hit infielder as a pinch hitter because the player in question had gotten a hit off a pitcher with a similar assortment of pitches earlier in the season.  In this particular case, the pinch-hitter lines a frozen rope that is gloved by the second baseman.  The move fails; but an inch or two either way and Traveler would have been brilliant. 

A few days ago, Joe Posnanski wrote a column picking up on a similar statistical trend.  Using Jack Morris as a starting point, Posnanski investigates a Bill James study about the what he calls “The Bully Factor.”  In short, James investigated whether some players did better against poorer teams and worse against better teams.  Surely, this concept seems self-evident, but it’s rather fascinating when you get into the nuts and bolts of it. 

Posnanski investigates the “Bully Factor” numbers for Jack Morris.  And look what he discovers:

So, Jack Morris? Well, considering the scope of his career, he was not terrible against Class A teams. He was not very good, no. He was 48-57 with a 4.50 ERA. The ERA is high, but as a percentage of his career ERA, it’s more or less what you would expect. Morris’ won-loss record is actually worse against Class B teams — those good but not great teams. He was 44-57 with a 4.14 ERA. That means he was 22 games under .500 against the better than average teams. That doesn’t blare “WINNER!” but, hey, it’s not especially horrid. Gaylord Perry was 26 games worse than .500 against the Class A teams. Nolan Ryan was 32 games under .500 against the Class A teams.

Still, you know where this is leading. That’s right: Bill found that Jack Morris was the biggest bully of the last 50 years. The bulk of his won-loss record was compiled against the Island of Misfit Toys. This is not to say he dominated bad teams … not exactly. His ERA against Class C and Class D teams is a pretty ordinary 3.54.

But his win-loss record against the dregs is special:

Class C teams: 77-39, 3.64 ERA
Class D teams: 82-29, 3.42 ERA

There you go. Against C and D teams, Jack Morris went 159-68, a robust .700 winning percentage. You want to say Jack Morris knew how to win … you need to finish the story. Jack Morris knew how to beat lousy baseball teams. He was better at beating those bad teams than most pitchers in baseball history.

Jack Morris, in other words, got fat in a way that wasn’t necessarily connected to the overall quality of his performance. 

My irrational conclusion: Chipper should wear a Mets’ hat into the Hall.  They got him there.


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The Free Hate

Joe Posnanski examined why it seems to be alright to hate Alex Rodriguez.  His answer: no one will argue with you about it.

Or, in his own words:

In this, A-Rod may be singular in our sports scene. Everybody else has rabid defenders. If you take a moment to bash Bob Knight … or Tiger Woods … or Tony La Russa … or Derek Jeter … or Terrell Owens … or Kobe Bryant … or Ben Roethlisberger … or Michael Vick … … or Peyton Manning … or Tim Tebow … or Phil Mickelson … or Randy Moss … or Roger Clemens … or John Calipari … or Roy Williams … or Barry Bonds … or just about any other athlete or coach who might spark negative views (even if is is because they are so positively portrayed), there will likely be a swam or people who will tell you (with gusto) that you are wrong. There are a lot of people who believe John Rocker was misunderstood.

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A Gift from Above; or, from Joe Posnanski

Posnanski writing a Monday morning round-up column?  Too cool.

Haven’t even read it yet, but you know it’s worth the post.

As for me, this is a print-out and enjoy with a second cup of coffee type of offering.

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Baseball Musings

  • Adam Dunn could become only second player ever to have higher number of strikeouts than BA (currently 157 K and .163). First was M Reynolds. 8 years ago
  • At least the New York Times remembers the Expos... 10 years ago
  • MLB Network on Sabathia: "CC is one of the few pitchers in the league who is his own batting eye." 10 years ago
  • Sabathia vs. Halladay tonight: noted hitting hurler Sabathia is hitting .500 against Cy Young winners (okay, he's 1 for 2 against Johan) 10 years ago
  • RT @jaysonst: Now that Stephen Strasburg has pulled into town, the most important era in Nationals history has officially begun. http:// ... 10 years ago

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