Monday, May 30, 2005


Raul Mondesi, -Sigh-

It seems that Raul Mondesi will soon be out of a job with the Atlanta Braves due to poor numbers and a nagging leg injury. At a relatively young age of 34, it's possible that Mondesi could be out of baseball, with most of his skills still intact.

He was at one time my favorite Dodger, a five tool player with jaw-dropping talent. The cheer "Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuuulll!" was commonplace at Dodger Stadium in the 90's, and Mondesi was absolutely electrifying. His 1999 opening day performance may have been his greatest day, as he hit a 3 run HR off Gregg Olson to tie the game with 2 outs in the 9th inning, and later hit a game-winning HR in the 11th. That was the single greatest game I ever witnessed at Dodger Stadium.

I remember another game where the opposing hitter hit a single to right field. As he jogged to 1B, Mondesi casually charged the ball, and absolutely gunned a one hopper to 1B for an out. The crowd went nuts with chants of "Mon - De - Si! Mon - De - Si!" I was sitting in the RF Pavilion. I cheered.

Mondesi played with reckless abandon at times, and his raw talent was evident to all. But all that "raw talent" never matured into "skill." He missed cutoff men at times, rarely showed plate discipline, and swung for the fences on virtually every slider off the plate. In a game loaded with adjustments, Mondesi rarely changed his game.

The bullheaded Mondesi eventually went off in the famous F-bomb tirade against LA management. This act, among others, ultimately got him traded to Toronto in exchange for choir boy Shawn Green. A few years later, Mondesi got dumped from the Yankees due to clashing with management. Just last year, Mondesi managed to get axed from 2 teams for basically not showing up. He was a headstrong bull on and off the field, which was both a gift and a curse.

Mondesi's talent was good enough to sustain a nice 10 year career, but he could have been the superstar everyone thought he would be. So much for the second coming of Roberto Clemente. What a talent gone to waste.

Friday, May 27, 2005


Current Standings, and Mrs. Benson

The team to beat in the division looks more and more like San Diego. The Padres are 2nd best in the NL in runs scored while 6th best in runs allowed. (LA is 3rd best in runs scored and a miserable 15th best in runs allowed.) Prior to the SF series, LA finished a tough stretch against 4 potential playoff teams: St. Louis, Atlanta, Florida, and Anaheim. The team managed to win 4 out of 13. San Diego also faced St. Louis, Atlanta, and Florida, and won 9 out of 10.

LA has had numerous problems, and many are a duplicate of last year.

1) The pitching depth looks thin again after a surplus of arms in ST.
2) Werth has done a good impression of himself by missing most of April and May.
3) Erickson has been so thoroughly Nomo-like that I suspect that Mr. Lisa will break a fingernail and land on the DL soon.

The current record is also similar to last year.

2005: 12-2 on 4/20, 24-22 on 5/27
2004: 9-3 on 4/18, 24-21 on 5/27

Last year's team was only 2 games above .500 as late as June 26th. So there's hope.

The rotation is in shambles behind Lowe and Penny, but the schedule is relatively soft after 3 games against Arizona. The Cubs, Brewers, and Tigers have inferior offenses, as they have scored runs lower than the ML average. It's an opportune time for someone to step up and fill in until Odalis returns and Weaver recovers from "dead arm".

Things could be worse. It's possible that Ishii would be the #3 starter right now if it weren't for the Phillips trade. (As I stated a while ago, thanks, Omar! ) I wonder if the Mets are suffering from "Ishii-itis" yet: 16Ks and 18BBs in 29 innings. At least the Mets fans can enjoy the fine writing skills of Mrs. Kris Benson, among her other talents. A quick excerpt to display her writing talent:
They happened to lose Friday, but all I had to do is take my clothes off and Kris felt all better.
Cute story. I wonder how long before the folks at Baseball Tonight/Yard Work jump on this one.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Why Not Bat Bradley #3, Choi #5?

Tracy flip-flopped Drew and Choi over the weekend, and I would like to see another change. Just as Beltre forced his way up from the #7 spot to cleanup last year, Bradley has made a strong push to move up from his #5 spot. I would like to see a lineup where Choi drops to #5, and Bradley jumps to #3.

First off, I realize that a change in the batting order is relatively insignificant as long as something stupid isn't done. (Leave it to Tracy to bat Robles #2 and Choi #7.) Secondly, this isn't a knock on Choi, as he is starting to fulfill his potential. It's just that somebody needs to move down if Bradley moves up in the order. I don't think Drew should be the one bumped down. Even though Drew has struggled, his OBP has been quite good due to his high walk rate.

From The Hardball Times:

Drew's OBP is a tad lower than Choi's, but look at the difference in power.

Runs are mainly scored by getting men on base (OBP), and then driving them in (SLG). The top 5 batters have OBPs within 0.030, which is fairly close. Meanwhile, the difference in Drew's SLG to the power trio of Bradley/Kent/Choi is substantial. Put another way, Drew is not better suited to hit #2 than Choi, but Choi is WAY better suited to hit #5 than Drew.

In addition, breaking up Choi and Drew would prevent the opposing team from using their top situational lefthander on consecutive lefthanded batters. Similarly, when Werth comes back and probably hits in the #6 spot, Choi would break up the righthanded bats. Moving Bradley up would also give the top of the lineup a bit more speed.

It's interesting to think how good this lineup could be once Drew gets out of his slump. Compare Drew's "line drive percentage" so far this year to last year.

Once Drew starts hitting, he becomes an OBP machine. With good speed on the bases, to boot.

Many have said that Choi's power would eventually be best used in a run-producing spot. I think that now would be as good a time as any, since Choi has seemingly figured it out.

Friday, May 20, 2005


"Beat LA of Anaheim!"

About five years ago, I was sitting in the Pavilion for a Giants game. The SF fans wearing orange were being pelted with food by the usual thugs in the cheap seats. One errant toss hit a young guy wearing an Angels cap on the head. He turned around, pointed to his cap, and yelled out, "Why'd you hit me for? I'm an Angels fan!" The overwhelming response was laughter, myself included. Admitting to being an Angels fan was akin to driving a Yugo in LA.

In my mind, the Angels were nothing more than the cute little team by Disneyland. Stories such the Indian burial site, Dave Henderson's HR, Donnie Moore's subsequent suicide, and the team bus crash added up to a cursed lore which was both tragic and somewhat humorous.

Then it all changed. Proving that anything really can happen, the little Rally Monkeys won the World Series in 7 games over the Giants, a grand finish to a miracle season. (Yes I watched, if only to root against the Giants.) Soon afterwards, a new owner stepped in with bold visions of turning SoCal into the "City of Angels."

What if Spiezio didn't hit that HR in game 6? This budding rivalry would not exist if the Angels didn't win the World Series. The emboldened cousin to the south wears the newer crown while the blueblood to the north brags of past tradition despite only a single playoff win since 1988. So the rivalry builds, and not only on the field.

Petty acts such as selling "LA Dodgers of LA" caps, announcing the Halos as "The Angels of Anaheim", and listing the Angels as "ANA" on the scoreboard only raises the public perception of the Angels to that of the Dodgers. Moreno wants a rivalry, and McCourt has taken the bait. This catfight between the Parking Lot Attendant and the Billboard Painter could turn into the business equivalent of Chan Ho Park's karate kick.

The Freeway Series starts tonight. I'm hoping for a warm reception for Finley, and chants of "Beat LA of Anaheim!" afterwards.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Rambling Thoughts, Part II

Antonio in, Grabs out:

Perez got called up after spending much of his rehab assignment working at 3B. This leaves only Robles and Bako as the left-handed bats off the bench if a right-handed pitcher starts against LA, assuming that Tracy sticks with the Ledee/Repko platoon.

Apparently Grabowski had a sore shoulder from throwing. That's strange since I thought you had to catch the ball before throwing it.

Homerun-Air Disease:

Weaver must have contracted this near-fatal virus before his start today. Previously, the virus infected Erickson, who finally appeared to shed those same symptoms over the weekend.

Quarantine Mr. Lisa! He's contagious!

"He's not a dog. A dog is loyal and runs after balls."

I just noticed that the website is on sale for $2500. Someone should forward this info to the webmaster at

Only 50,000 ever made:

The free t-shirt given out on 5/16 is a "great collector's item", according to this Ebay seller. (Included is the ticket stub - Woo Hoo!) Now I know what to do with my 3 Fred McGriff bobblehead dolls collecting dust somewhere.

I personally like this shirt better.

EDIT: Even though the team has been struggling, things could be worse. According to Baseball Prospectus, San Francisco's former closer Hermanson is currently ranked #1 in "expected wins added" while new closer Benitez is near the bottom. It's Joe Nathan redux. Bonds is hooked up to a 24 hour IV, Schmidt's on the DL, and Pierzynski has an OPS of .814 with the White Sox. Misery by the Bay...

Monday, May 16, 2005


The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

"There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: Those with a rope around the neck, and the people who have the job of doing the cutting." - from the movie The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

A few thoughts and clarifications on Erickson, who apparently managed to cut the rope around his neck with yesterday's fine performance.

The graph that charted line drive % versus defensive efficiency showed that the defense was not helping Erickson out, but not by an overwhelming amount. (Thanks to 6-4-2 for the mention.) The thing that I should have stated is that ERICKSON IS NOT A STRIKEOUT PITCHER. Erickson's strikeout rate is about 4 less per 9 innings than the average LA pitcher, so the fielders must turn more balls in play into outs. The underformance by the defense is thus magnified.

As for yesterday's game...

{ theme music from The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly }

The Good:

Erickson saved his own neck with a great performance. He carried a one-hit shutout into the sixth inning by mostly keeping the ball on the ground. (3 to 1 groundout to flyout ratio.) Hee Seop Choi continued to swing the bat by driving in a run with 2 outs in the 2nd inning.

{ theme music from The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly }

The Bad:

I don't have a problem with Izturis attempting a bunt sigle in the 9th, but why stand there hoping that the ball goes foul? This and the unsuccessful stolen base attempt cost the team 2 outs. As for Tracy calling for a bunt by Robles with runners on 1st and 2nd in the 3rd inning ... position players who can hit should never bunt so early in the game. So why did the unproven Robles hit 2nd and Choi 7th? It's usually wise to give the ABs at the top of the order to those who can hit. In all, 3 failed bunts.

{ theme music from The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly }

The Ugly:

From 1st place to 3rd place in a day. 10 runners left on base against a shaky Tim Hudson. Dave Roberts, of all people, hitting a 3 run homerun to help the Padres pass the Dodgers in the standings.

Sometimes I want to move over to Fire Jim Tracy and rant, rant, rant.

Saturday, May 14, 2005


9 HRs, 12 BBs, 5 Ks

Erickson currently has a 7.83 DIPS ERA, which is 398th out of 423 ML pitchers according to ESPN as of May 10th. Unlike almost everyone else, I'm not ready to jump on the "Dump Mr. Lisa" bandwagon yet. (Emphasis on "yet") Here are some of his numbers.

3.2 BB/9, 1.3 K/9, 1.7 G/F (from Hardball Times)

Erickson's walk rate is not high compared to the NL average (3.5) and the Dodgers average (2.8). He's not striking anybody out, so the ball is going into play frequently, but he's keeping the ball mostly on the ground as he has done throughout his career. When the ball does go in play...

11.3% line drives given up, 72.4 defensive efficiency (from Hardball Times)

Believe it or not, among NL starting pitchers, Erickson is ranked fourth best in avoiding line drives. (!!!) Historically speaking, line drives become outs about 25% of the time, while groundballs and flyballs are converted into outs about 75% to 78% of the time. In this sense, Erickson actually looks good! But is it? The average line drive rate for NL pitchers with at least 50 innings last year was 18.7, with a standard deviation of 2.4. Erickson's low line drive rate is bound to go up, if he continues to get innings.

"I think I was much better than the results indicated, and I'm sure the coaches would say the same thing," Erickson said. "A lineup like that is a tough one to give extra outs to. I don't think many pitchers can be effective when they get outs that don't turn into outs." Daily News, 5/11/05

The following is a graph of the 74 NL starting pitchers in terms of line drives given up versus defensive efficiency, which is a percentage of outs when the ball goes in play. The dark blue dot represents Erickson, and the 4 light blue dots represent the other Dodger starters. Elmer Dessens was not included with his single start.

(r sq= 0.159, slope = -0.435, stan err= 0.0442 )

A quick eye-balling of the graph indicates that the defense hasn't helped Erickson out relative to the other starters, but not outrageously so. (Brad Penny is the highest light blue point, and so must be the beneficiery of a terrific defensive effort so far.)

And now back to the ugly...

"A couple of balls left the building," Tracy said. "It's hard to make those plays, too." Daily News, 5/11/05

2.3 HR/9, 24% HR/Flyball (Hardball Times)

Ouch. Out of 74 NL starting pitchers, Erickson is 6th worst in HR/9 and 4th worst in HR/Flyball as of May 10th. The league average for HR/Flyball is usually around 11%. Here's a graph that compares flyball % versus the adjusted HR/9 rate (strikeouts removed) when the ball goes in play.

(r sq= 0.26, coeff/27= 0.16, st err=0.73 )

Erickson usually keeps the ball on the ground, but when the ball does get in the air, it's leaving the yard at an alarming rate. Bad luck? Sample size? Or are the balls simply being mashed? Possibly all three. If they're getting mashed, what is the quality of the opposing batters? According to Baseball Prospectus on May 12th, Erickson has so far drawn a tough set of opposing hitters.

The differences may look small, but that's about a half a run difference expected per 9 innings between Erickson and Weaver. Assuming that Erickson stays in the rotation, this should even out eventually.

So it's possible that Erickson will give up fewer homeruns. He might allow more line drives, but should get better defensive support. He'll also probably walk a few, and maybe the strikeouts will go up - it can't go much lower. So what does Erickson need to do in his next start?


Thursday, May 12, 2005


Rambling Thoughts

1) Now that Hee Seop's swinging the bat...

All of a sudden, Choi's glove is supposedly suspect. As repeatedly pointed out by Joe Morgan on ESPN last night, Choi was unable to make plays on 3 or 4 sharply hit balls while fielding only 1. Come on, IT'S ONE GAME!

Choi is surprisingly athletic for someone his size. He may never win a Gold Glove, but he's much better than Saenz or Grabowski. Let's not forget Eric "The Statue" Karros in his later years with LA. He didn't dive at sharply hit balls - he fell. Choi is better.

What will the detractors say next when Choi shows some skill with the glove? He can't bunt? He smiles too much?

2) Izturis is on fire

An obvious fact. His improvement is astonishing.

04: 20.2% line drive %, .317 BA for balls in play
05: 28.9% line drive %, .358 BABIP (from Hardball Times)

That line drive rate is by far highest on the team. Only Miguel Cabrera has a higher line drive rate amongst NL starters. This is both amazing and worrisome - can he continue to maintain that pace? On the other hand, given the high line drive rate, his BABIP is actually low.

Izturis' pitches per plate appearance is also way up, although that has not yet translated into a higher walk rate. I should look into this a bit more...

3) Broadcasters should give stats, not interpret them

During last Saturday's day game, Steiner explained that Cincinnati was a losing team because "their hitters strike out too much, and their pitchers don't get enough strikeouts." Apparently Steiner is unaware that Cincinnati's pitchers never face their own hitters.

Speaking of broadcasters,

4) I don't like the 2 man TV broadcast

Perhaps I'm so used to the single voice format that I am simply not used to the 2 man chatter. I don't mind it on the radio, where I find a second voice actually helpful in describing the action. On TV, I prefer less chatter because i can see what is happening on the field. That's part of what makes Scully so great. He knows when to talk, and he knows when to "shut up", as he puts it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


McCourt In The Black?

McDebt no more? The Dodgers almost broke even last year, and things look better this year.

McCourt's purchase of the Dodgers included a $15 million payment from FOX for this season, which nearly matches the $20 million stadium upgrade during the off-season. The Dodgers decommissioned $6 1600 Pavilion seats in favor of 1600 new seats with an average ticket value of about $100, according to the Daily News. More than three quarters have already been sold, so that's a net gain of about about $7 to 8 million so far.

Thanks in large part to the terriific team last year, the total attendance was about 3.49 million, which was the highest since 1983. This year's attendance is currently at 647,000 in 14 home games, according to ESPN. Take out the home opener sellout, average it out to 80 games, and add back in the home opener, and the team is on track for about 3.7 million visitors, which would set a team record. That would be an additional 200,000 tickets sold over last year. Figure that an average seat is about $19 buckos, and that's about $3 to 4 million more.

Say that each one of the estimated extra 200,000 attendees spends about $10 on food and merchandise. Say that they show up in sets of 4 and park for $10. I think that's conservative, and thats about $2.5 million more.

By my calculations, LA could take in about $14 million more than last year in ticket and stadium sales alone. And if the team stays in 1st place, more people might show up. After all, a game at Dodge Stadium is still a bargain compared to other cities, according to the Fan Cost Index. Not to mention going to Staples Center to see the lottery-bound Lakers and Clippers.

Payroll is down about $10 million, for now.

The net difference from last year to this year is already looking to be almost $25 million. This doesn't include the extra advertising all over the Stadium, nor the new sponsorship agreement with FOX that kicked in this year. And who knows the details of the penny-pinching the McCourts are doing within the organization. Cutting unneeded employees from the payroll? Collecting cans in the parking lot? Who knows. I'm guessing a turnaround of about $35 million compared to last year.

McCourt managed to buy from a motivated seller by somehow borrowing more than what he paid. After FOX and Malone nearly ruined an organzation by overspending and depleting the farm system, McCourt stands to possibly turn a decent profit in just his second year of ownership. The organization as a whole is leaner and trimmer, and not just on the baseball side, where Depodesta is continuing what Evans started, albeit with a different evaluation mindset.

The cash flows are looking good for McCourt. The PR department could use some work, though.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


A Simple Look At RBI Totals

The ability to hit better in critical "clutch" situations has never been statistically proved, and is usually shoved off as luck. I agree with this, although the ability to "choke" seems harder to disprove...

I quote the following from Baseball Graphs word for word.
If you take the statistical totals of any league in baseball history, multiply its OBP by its total bases (the key component of SLG), you will get a number that is almost always within 1% of total league runs scored! When you apply this math to individual teams, you usually get a number within 5% of team runs scored. This is an astounding mathematical concept. The person who discovered this basic truth must have felt like Archimedes, running down the hall naked and shouting "Eureka."

OBP and SLG correlate incredibly well with runs because:

1) get on base (hits + walks = OBP)
2) drive a runner in (total bases = SLG)

For example, the Dodgers scored 761 runs last year. Multiply the team OBP of .332 by .423 SLG by 5542 ABs and you get 774.4. It's a good, quick estimate. This is what I consider the general form of the Runs Created concept, which is:

RC(Ver 1.0) = { (Hits + Walks "OBP")*(Total Bases "SLG") }/(At Bats + Walks)

Introduce some extra terms such as stolen bases and sac flies, and you have the modern version of Runs Created, which is a theoretical value of of runs contributed by a single player.

What I did is a precursor to the Runs Created concept. Instead of multiplying a hitter's SLG by his own OBP, I multiplied a hitter's SLG by the previous hitter's OBP - RBIs mainly happen when you drive in those in front of you after all. For example, I multiplied Ken'ts SLG with Drew's OBP. I then normalized the results a tad because not every run is an RBI. The result is a predicted RBI for a hitter that can be compared to his actual RBI total. Best of all, it's in a format that everybody understands - RBIs.

I realize that this method is simple, is not original, has been tried by a gazillion people, and most have eventually come up with a better solution. I am making no attempt to account for runners prior to the guy infront of the hitter, say the leadoff guy getting on infront of the cleanup hitter. My original grand plan was to embed a Markov run expectancy matrix in a Monte Carlo simulation - a numerical method that usually works well. I don't have the time to code a program, so I am using this ridiculously simple (and crude) method instead.

First, the 04 season:

The most "clutch" hitter was the #7 spot, which was usually Encarnacion in the 1st half, and Cora in the 2nd half. Checking their numbers, those two indeed hit better with runners in scoring position last year. The big "choker" was the #5 spot, which was usually occupied by Mr. 0.199 with RISP.

Here is this year's team, as of 5/5/05.

Clutch: The #8 spot, with the catching tandem of Phillips and Bako hitting over .400 with RISP.
Choke: The #5 spot, which is Bradley, who is barely over the Mendoza line with RISP.

In terms of absolute RBI totals, Drew's slump to begin the season is clear at the #3 spot. Choi and Repko have apparently been fine in the #2 hole.

Anyway, I like simplicy... the fact that this method even works is a testament to the importance of OBP and SLG, and not my method, which is full of holes.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


1 Month Tendencies: Pitching & Defense

I compared the line drive rate given up by the pitchers to the team's defensive efficiency 13 games into the season. The defense looked barely average back then. It's now two weeks later, and here is the new graph, as of 5/5/05. The data is again from The Hardball Times, and is "raw" - unadjusted for park effects, etc. As before, the blue dot is LA, and the red line is the 04 NL trend line.

(r sq = 0.083, st err = 0.012, coeff = -0.273; LA LD = 17.7%, DE = 0.699)

For comparison, a graph of the 04 NL teams plotting the line drive % versus defensive efficiency is here. (r sq = 0.279, st err = 0.008, coeff = -0.953) LA's defense last year may have been the best in the league, according to that graph.

As expected, the line drive rate is no longer 13% as it was 13 games into the season. The defensive efficiency has correspondingly dropped from 0.740. Once again, the defense is looking barely average.

Comments on some other teams:

Florida (17.2%, 0.719) represents the highest point on the graph. Combine that defense with a park that is unfriendly to HRs, a power pitching staff, and a lineup that added Delgado in the off-season. They're my pick to finally unseat Atlanta for the NL East division crown. With Burnett healthy and in his walk year, their time is now.

Chicago (19.7%, 0.673) represents the lowest point on the graph. (Aramis and Jeromy, take a bow.) Fortunately for them, their pitching staff has had the highest strikeout rate (8.4 per 9) in the league, so fewer balls have gone in play. But with Wood out for a while, the K rate figures to drop. Bad defense, no bullpen, one of their 3 aces out...Baker's brushing up his resume.

Colorado (17.1%, 0.682) is not only subpar, but their pitching staff is allowing a league worst 5.1 K/9, and a league worst 5.0 BB/9. They have in effect cloned Kaz Ishii - scary.

The Yankees (18.9%, 0.655) are the worst in both leagues, as was the case 13 games into the season. Their strikeout rate of 5.6 per 9 is also near the bottom. Balls are going into play a lot, and they're not being caught. Trouble brewing in the Bronx...

Back to LA:

The team defense independent ERA stands at about 4, which is slightly better than the league average. The strikeout rate is near the bottom at 5.7 per nine 9, but at least the pitchers are not giving out too many free passes. (2.6 BB/9, lowest in the league) The 3 sinkerball SPs are contributing to a 1.46 ground/flyball rate, and the infield defense might be better now that 3B Nakamura, the 5 time Gold Glove winner in Japan, should get more playing time with Valentin out. (Although to be fair, Valentin was looking better with the glove recently. )

Whether Nakamura can justify a starting spot is another matter, given his cartoon swing. If not, Robles, Edwards, someone via trade...

Penny has come back strong, Alvarez is settling in, and Gagne looks to be back mid-May. Strikeouts should go up, and the infield defense should be better with Nakamura. (for now)

It's lookin' good.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Ross Porter Memorial Stats

In the spirit of Ross Porter's goofy stats while on the air...

These numbers are culled mainly from ESPN and MLB. Some are interesting, some are trivial, and some are downright misleading,

1) Pitchers have been terrible on the road.

Home: 3.08ERA, 1.07WHIP, 6.50K/9, 3.25K/BB, 5 HR allowed
Away: 4.89ERA, 1.48WHIP, 4.42K/9, 1.33K/BB, 15 HR allowed
23 runs allowed in 3 games at Coors Field, 22 allowed in 3 games at the BOB.

Park effect? Possibly. The difference in the K/BB rate is eye-popping, though.

Despite this-

2) The Dodgers are 9 - 4 at home, and 8 - 5 on the road. Similar.

LA at home has scored 58 while giving up only 39, but on the road has scored 76 while giving up 69.

3) The opponent is scoring first.

The number of times the opponent got ahead first at the end of an inning is 14 out of 26. LA has been playing catch-up, and has so far been successful with a 17 - 9 record. In the first 14 games when LA won 12, LA got ahead first 10 times. In the next 12 games when LA won 5, they got ahead first just twice.

Burning out the opposing starting pitchers with high pitch counts? Maybe.

4) Valentin just went south of the Mendoza line. Uh oh.

He also has a .722 OPS due to his high walk rate.

5) LA is 2nd in the NL in pitches per plate appearance at 3.83. But the hitters aren't hitting with 2 strikes.

0 and 2, .179 BA
1 and 2, .192 BA
2 and 2, .208 BA
3 and 2, .200 BA

So the hitters should swing earlier? Actually, averages by pitch count may be the most misleading stat ever. The numbers are naturally lower with 2 strikes because another strike ends in an out, whereas with 0 or 1 strike, the at-bat continues after another strike.

Come to think of it, I can't imagine Ross Porter misleading the audience with the last stat. (That is Tim McCarver's territory, I believe.)

Monday, May 02, 2005


Choi's Swing According To Wallach

Wallach said the following about Choi during the postgame radio interview after Choi's grand slam last Friday. (I'm paraphrasing here off memory - writing down quotes while driving 75MPH on the curvy stretch of the 110 freeway north of downtown is not a good idea.) According to Wallach, Choi needs to swing "inside" the ball so that the balls hit hard aren't pulled foul.

I've been looking for a way to describe why Choi's swing is so long and loopy, and Wallach hit it right on the head. I used to to do the same thing playing softball after a long layoff. Everything I hit hard was pulled foul. Fixing that problem is a apparently much easier in beer league softball than facing a 93 MPH fastball.

What baffles me is how Choi came to LA with that ridiculous swing in the first place. What did the Cubs and the Marlins teach? Was Choi incapable of learning then or were his minor leagues numbers so good that they left him alone? Did his swing fall apart overnight? According to some Cubs fans, he had the tendency to crouch down and come up while swinging during his rookie season. Wasn't this problem only recently corrected during this year's ST?

Choi is starting to get rolling. His OPS has climbed to .833 in 61 ABs, which is about .200 higher than a week ago. And the aggressiveness - what Wallach described as "patient aggressiveness" - is coming along. That grand slam was on a first pitch fastball that Choi was sitting on.

Next agenda for Wallach: Nakamura and his Paul Bunyan axe chop.

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