Tuesday, June 26, 2007

11 Years Of Interleague Play

Here's the results of all 11 years of interleague play. The World Series winner came from the stronger league six times out of ten, which I guess doesn't mean much of anything.
One other payroll note: the entire Devil Rays team this year will get paid $3 million less than Alex Rodriguez. That's insane, and it's only going to get insane-er.


Quadruple-A, Part 2

Interleague play is finally over, thank God; though it mercifully ended on a high note for the Mets. The NL looks like the inferior league again this year, losing out to the AL 115-137. Of course, this is a lot closer than last year's drubbing (98-154 in favor of the AL, if you recall), but the AL still played .540 ball, to the NL's .460. If the leagues are still at the same relative strength they were last year, that's about what you'd expect.

But once again, the reason why? It's the salaries, stupid. This year, AL teams outspent NL teams by over $120 million, despite the fact that there are two fewer AL teams. That's a difference in team payroll of almost $20 million, on average; roughly the between the Phillies and the Reds. Of course the AL is better than the NL.

Obviously a big chunk of that is accounted for by the Yankees and the Red Sox, but still, seven of the top ten teams, salary-wise, are in the AL. In case you were wondering, the AL accounts for 52% of MLB's total salary. I think the AL should be expected to win at least 52% of the games.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mets vs. Twins, Game Three

I'm live-blogging, fuckers!

This team is absolute horseshit right now. God damn it, here comes Guillermo Mota and his 6.00 ERA. Oh, good. Apparently the Mets are going to roll over for the Twins here. How the fuck the Mets are still in first place in the NL East is a god-damn mystery. Fortunately the Phillies and Braves have obliged us by playing like shit during this losing streak, too. Ugh.

Well, Mota pitches a scoreless seventh to lower his ERA to 5.54. Sweet. Of course it doesn't matter; the way the team is hitting these days, a 4-run defeceit might as well be 40.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Got A Bad Feeling About This

Johan Santana’s numbers versus the Mets, courtesy of David Pinto’s day-by-day database. Yeesh.

Hell Is Other Pirates

HJ, you forgot a couple things. In Hell, the game is always called by Joe Morgan, and Kenny Rogers always walks in the winning run. Ben Roethlisberger still doesn’t wear a helmet. Also, there’s nonstop salsa music. God, I fucking hate salsa music.

On the other hand, it’d be some consolation to know that Larry is also in Hell.

I’ll try to save you a cool spot.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I Hate Roger Clemens, Yankees

Roger Clemens is a punk. Arguably the greatest pitcher of all time, but a punk nonetheless. He’s like the pudgy kid in fourth grade that becomes a bully out of self-defense, so no one will make fun of what a fat sack of crap he is. That kid will pick on you right up until you fight back, then run home and cry when you pop him one on the nose.

That’s why Mike Piazza has no sack. There, I said it. When Clemens threw that bat fragment at Piazza in the Series, Clemens was testing the Mets, specifically Piazza, to see if they were willing to stand up to him, like a bully picking on the new kid on the first day of school. By not charging the mound, Piazza effectively gave up his lunch money, and the rest of the team followed his lead and rolled over, too.

If Rocket Roger was really interested in being the pitching savior for the Yankees, he damn well would have been ready to pitch against the Red Sox in Fenway. Instead, he waited to join the team until he would start against the punchless Pirates. Whether or not the Yankees have a shot at the postseason this year will depend not on how well they play against other teams (they're too talented, slow start aside, not to win their share of games) but on how well they do against the Red Sox. If they want to hold onto the AL East, they pretty much need to win out against the Sox, not beat up on a crappy NL Central team that Roger's beaten six times in nine starts since 2004. Wuss.

Having said that, the Mets are playing like absolute crap right now. I would actually cut off a finger for a win at this point. Not my finger, mind you; but somebody's.
Anyway, one of my favorite things on the internets are the upcoming series previews on Metsgeek.com. I always check it out when the Mets start a new series, especially if it's against a team with whose pitchers I am not familiar. Alex Nelson does a great job of telling you about the match-ups, who's pitching against whom; who throws what, and how both teams are playing in general. Good stuff.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sosa: Is This Guy For Real?

Short answer, no.

Jorge Sosa, a reclamation project signed over the winter, started the year in Triple-A, but since getting called up has gone 6-1 in seven starts with a 2.64 ERA. That’s pretty freaking good. But is he really this good, or is he just lucky?

Sosa came up in 2002 as a 23-year-old and had a few mediocre-to-bad years with the Devil Rays before getting traded to the Braves in 2005. He had one great season in 2005, going 13-3 with a 2.55 ERA. After pitching guru Leo Mazzone left the Braves in 2006, new pitching coach (and former Met/second spitter) Roger McDowell turned the knob back to ‘suck,’ and Sosa had a crummy four months starting for the Braves before he got traded to the Cardinals for a bag of magic beans, then had a crummy two months pitching out of the Cardinal bullpen. The Cards left him off their post-season roster, and did not try to re-sign him after becoming the worst team to ever win a World Series.

The Mets took a flyer on Sosa this winter, and after a crummy spring training he was assigned to Triple-A. Then, Pelfrey stunk up the joint, the Mets called up Sosa, and he’s been pitching great ever since. So, is he this good?

The answer, of course, is no. He’s lucky. Below you’ll find four graphs of Sosa’s career peripheral numbers (peripheral numbers, like strikeouts per nine innings pitched or strikeout-to-walk ratio, are frequently better predictors of pitcher success than their ERA or win-loss record, which can be greatly affected by luck).

Frankly, his numbers just aren’t that good, including this year, even with his 2.64 ERA. Except for 2004, Sosa has never struck guys out at a better than league-average pace. He has managed to limit the walks this year and in 2006; but his strikeout-to-walk ratio is barely league-average. Sosa is a flyball pitcher (almost 50% of the balls put in play against him are fly balls) who doesn’t strike many guys out, but doesn’t walk many, either. Which means that he is going to live and die based on how many of those fly balls turn into big fly balls, i.e. home runs.

And unfortunately, pitchers don’t have a lot of control over that. Around 11% or 12% of fly balls get turned into home runs, on average. If a pitcher’s home run-to-fly-ball ratio is significantly higher or lower than that, it’s probably due to luck. Sosa’s HR/F rate this year: 7.4%. Which means I expect a fairly significant regression to the mean. In Sosa’s case, the mean is ‘sucky.’

Of course, this might be a brilliant move on GM Omar Minaya’s part. Shea Stadium is definitely a pitchers’ park, and with its spacious outfield, it’s particularly good at limiting home runs.