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Archive for the ‘Rays’ Category

THAT Is a Strike?!? (Morning After Post) UPDATED

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At least the ump owned up to it.

Some real and deep analysis of the components of a blown strike call. Pretty good argument there that expecting perfect accuracy is absurd. On the other hand…..

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Written by jjvedamuthu

April 9, 2013 at 12:00

THAT Is a Strike? Really?

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The title of the post, of course, refers to the call that ended the Rangers-Rays game last night.

Watch the pitch here.

Actually PITCH-FX showed that though the last pitch of the game came on a 3-2 count, NONE of the six pitches Nathan threw to Zobrist were strikes.

Nathan clearly mouthed the word “Wow” as he came off the mound to shake the catcher’s hand.

Horrible.

Awful.

Pathetic.

Joe Maddon was pretty upset, and he and a lot of Rays’ players will be fined for their postgame comments about the call, though most of what they had to say accurately describes the awfulness of the called strike. (Calling it the “worst call ever,” as Jeremy Hellickson did, rather exaggerates the point as Don Denkinger’s call in Game Six of the ’85 World Series hasn’t been reversed and it was terrible beyond belief.)

Ben Zobrist, by the way, consistently demonstrates among the very best command of th strike zone in the game, sporting a walk rate north of 11% each of the last four seasons (the league average was 8.0% in 2012; a chart showing the relative merits of walk rates can be found here). Consistently, maintaining that walk rate means that Zobrist possesses a very good eye, and his strike zone judgment rates as “very solid.” Apparently, it is better than the umpire’s.

Written by jjvedamuthu

April 8, 2013 at 22:32

Chris Davis, Ray Slayer

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The Baltimore Sun beat writer tells us “Chris Davis [is] off to a scorching start.” Indeed. And the day before.

Written by jjvedamuthu

April 4, 2013 at 10:29

Evaluating Teams (or something similar)

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Excellent piece at Bill Simmons’ new website Grantland (named for Grantland Rice, I imagine) on the “new” Moneyball approach.

Article author Bill Barnwell does a nice job refuting the notion that Moneyball was just about OPS (getting on base and bashing the ball). Instead, the real focus of the book was on exploiting market inefficiencies.

Fielding has indeed been the latest exploitable market inefficiency. See Jonah Keri’s excellent The Extra 2% about the Tampa Bay Rays and their quantitative analysis.

They (the Rays) obviously know something about bullpens, too: the guys they let walk after 2010 made most baseball “analysts” wave their hands about how the Rays would suck, but of that group–Rafael Soriano, Joaquin Benoit, Dan Wheeler, Grant Balfour, and Randy Choate–only Balfour and Choate have been decent, and Choate is hurt. But the Rays’ ‘pen has been pretty okay (note the 3.44 bullpen ERA, good for 3rd in the American League, and tied for 11th in Major League Baseball; the Rays also sport  1.211 bullpen WHIP–4th in MLB–and a .635bullpen OPS allowed, which is 5th in MLB…pretty okay, indeed).

Michael Lewis is/was no dummy, and to flatten out his perspective the way “baseball traditionalists” did to bash sabermetrics is just freakin’ stupid. (Joe Morgan, for example, is a bitter old man…great second baseman in his day, but bitter old jerk as an announcer…hey, Joe, Billy Beane didn’t write Moneyball!).

UPDATE–Rafael Soriano’s troubles got more troubling. Rays bullpen is now much better than the Yanks, except, of course, at the very back end, since Mariano Rivera is the Terminator in relief pitcher form.

Written by jjvedamuthu

June 14, 2011 at 15:24

Rays to Draft a Lot

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Lots of picks, lots.

Written by jjvedamuthu

May 17, 2011 at 13:40

Posted in Rays

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The Rays of the Future

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Want to know why the Rays will  be the team to beat for a while? Read this Sports Illustrated piece (the website is great, the magazine not so much anymore…print media dying its slow death, I guess).

Money quote(s) from that piece:

Thanks to MLB’s quirky draft rules — in which teams that lose valued free agents are granted additional picks — the Rays have 12 of the first 89 selections in the draft that begins June 6, including 10 of the first 60 in what could be one of the two or three best pools of amateur talent in the past decade. [Emphasis added.]

Which leads to this:

The sheer volume of picks provides Tampa Bay with an unprecedented chance to restock their farm system. If the Rays so choose, they can even hedge their bets like never before with a combination of quick-to-the-majors prospects that can help extend the parent club’s recent winning ways while also filling the lower rungs of the minor leagues with high-upside, long-development players, too. For a club like the Rays who can’t afford to sign high-priced free agents, scouting and development is the organization’s backbone for player procurement. [Emphasis added.]

And then to this:

The Rays have long been major players on draft day, historically owing to their prime real-estate at or near the top of the first round. They picked in the top eight in 10 consecutive drafts after not winning more than 70 games in any of the previous seasons. They cashed in on B.J. Upton (No. 2 overall in 2002), Jeff Niemann (No. 4 in ’04), Evan Longoria (No. 3 in ’06) and David Price (No. 1 overall in ’07), all of whom are still with the team.

If you haven’t treated yourself to Jonah Keri’s The Extra 2% you really should do yourself a favor and read it.

Written by jjvedamuthu

May 4, 2011 at 02:39

Posted in Baseball, Rays

On Bullpen Fungibility

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Over at the Sweet Spot, David Schoenfield “strolls through the stats” and comes up with this gem:

Joaquin Benoit had a 1.34 ERA for the Rays in 2010, prompting the Tigers to sign him to a three-year, $16.5 million contract — one of the biggest ever for a middle reliever, one with a 4.47 career ERA. After giving up three runs on Sunday, Benoit has allowed 11 runs already — one more than all of 2010. Moral of the story: Never read too much into 60 fluke-ish innings.

Combined with Rafael Soriano’s performance in New York (1.784 WHIP!), you gotta’ figure the Rays did okay by letting these guys walk: their bullpen is doing fine, and so are they.

Written by jjvedamuthu

May 3, 2011 at 16:29

Posted in Baseball, Bullpen, Rays

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