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January 29, 2016 06:36:24
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man
Seattle is a great place to visit. Some of the sights of interest include the Space Needle, the downtown waterfront, the Klondike Gold Rush Museum, Pike Place Market, the Ballard Locks, the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, and many other exciting sights. Many of these sights are free and the rest are very inexpensive.
Of course, this leads me to the baseball sight of Safeco Field. Safeco Field, the home of the Seattle Mariners is in downtown Seattle and on the same street as the CenturyLink Field, the home of the Seattle Seahawks. This gives one the opportunity to visit both fields on the same day. Due to my brief stay I toured only Safeco Field.
The naming rights for Safeco Field was purchased by the Safeco Insurance Company for a period of 20 years for $40 million dollars. The first game played there was on July 15, 1999.
It was on my tour of Safeco that I discovered the man called Hutch, Fred Hutchinson, and why the people of Seattle consider him the greatest sports hero in Seattle history. My previous blog tells the story of Hutch. In this blog, I want to talk about how the paths of Ichiro Suzuki and George Sisler’s family crossed at Safeco Field and later in St. Louis.
George Sisler, a Hall of Famer, died on March 26, 1973. Sisler played for the AL St. Louis Browns 1915-1927 and retired in 1930. His career was marked by a lifetime .340 batting average. He batted over .400 twice, .407 in 1920 and .420 in 1922, and was named the AL MVP in 1922. He was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1939.
Ichiro Suzuki played for the Seattle Mariners 2001-2012. In 2001 Suzuki was named both the AL Rookie of the Year and AL Most Valuable Player. The only other player to accomplish both these feats in the same year was Fred Lynn. This would make a good trivia question. Suzuki is still active and I believe a future Hall of Famer.
It was in October, 2004 when Suzuki at Safeco Field broke George Sisler’s season hit record of 257, set in 1920. Sisler set the hits record over a 154-game schedule. Suzuki broke it in the Mariners' 160th game of the year. Fireworks exploded after Suzuki's big hit reached the outfield, creating a haze over Safeco Field, and his teammates mobbed him at first base. With the fans still cheering, Suzuki ran over to the first-base seats and shook hands with Sisler's 81-year-old daughter, Frances Sisler Drochelman, and other members of the Hall of Famer's family. Sisler's descendants had traveled to Seattle to witness Ichiro break the record set in 1920. "My father would have been delighted," Drochelman said moments later. "He would be so happy to know such a fine young man was doing so well."
We fast forward ahead to the 2009 All-Star Weekend in St. Louis, Ichiro Suzuki paid his respects to George Sisler by visiting his grave. Ichiro, accompanied by his wife, Yumiko, and some friends, laid flowers at Sisler's grave, at Des Peres Presbyterian Church Cemetery. Suzuki later explained that this was a way of repaying the Sisler family for coming to Seattle to see him break the record that was set in 1920. "I wanted to do that for a grand upperclassman of the baseball world," Ichiro told MLB.com. "I think it's only natural for someone to want to do that, to express my feelings in that way." "There's not many chances to come to St. Louis," Ichiro said, according to the Seattle Times. "In 2004, it was the first time I crossed paths with him, and his family generously came all the way to Seattle."
In 2004, Ichiro Suzuki finished the year with a batting average of .372 and the all-time hits record of 262. Yes, Ichiro Suzuki is a credit to both American and Japanese Baseball.
January 13, 2016 10:28:13
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man
The Joint Meeting of the two major math associations, the MAA and the AMS, was held January 6-10, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. I was selected to present a paper on how I use baseball to teach statistics using my book Sandlot Stats.
My wife Tara persuaded me to take a tour of Safeco Field, the home of the Seattle Mariners. During the tour, our guide mentioned the name Fred Hutchinson and called him the biggest Seattle sports hero of them all.
I was somewhat amazed at this statement. Ken Griffey Jr. had just been selected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame and of course there is Ichero Suzuki and Edgar Martinez. I had heard about the Hutch Award but really never associated this award to Fred Hutchinson nor did I know what this award represented. In retrospect, I did remember Fred managed the Cincinnati Reds at one time. The rest of this blog tells the story of Fred Hutchinson.
Who was Fred Hutchinson? The man referred to as Hutch played for the Seattle Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League, Fred's performance in 1938 reached a stature that will likely have no equal. He amassed a sterling 25-7 record, winning his 19th game on his 19th birthday in front of a record crowd of 16,354 that lined the outfield fences three rows deep at Seattle's historic Sick Stadium. Fred then reached national fame with the Detroit Tigers, winning 95 games over 11 years and notching 18- and 17-win seasons in 1947 and 1950. He later managed the Seattle Rainiers (in 1955 and 1959) and the major-league Tigers (1952-54), St. Louis Cardinals (1956-58) and Cincinnati Reds (1959-64), which he piloted to the World Series in 1961. Tragically, the man known for his tenacity, winning determination and courage died of lung cancer in 1964 at the age of 45.
Hutch’s awards included:
- Man of the Year, Seattle, 1938
- Most Valuable Player, Pacific Coast League, 1938
- Manager of the Year, National League, 1957
- Manager of the Year, 1961
- American League Player Representative, 1947-52
- Sport magazine Man of the Year, 1964
A Seattle newspaper quoted Hutch as saying, “The ones who work the hardest are the ones who make it, the ones who win. Sometimes that's the only difference. If you don't work hard at this game, you might as well hang them up. Sweat is your only salvation." The memory of Hutch will live on forever through the Hutch Award and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Foundation.
The Hutch Award was created in 1965 in Hutch’s honor. The award is given each year to a major-league player who best exemplifies Hutch's honor, courage and dedication. Each year, MLB teams are invited to nominate a player for the award. Past winners cast ballots to choose the next recipient and focus on a player's philanthropic activities, the real purpose of the award. The annual Hutch Award Luncheon takes place at Seattle’s Safeco Field, where the aisle end of each row of seats features an engraved sketch of Fred Hutchinson.
Over the past 15 years, the Hutch Award Luncheon has raised more than $4.3 million. Last year’s winner was Royals left fielder Alex Gordon, who supports Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.
In memory of his brother, Dr. Bill Hutchinson named his cancer research center after Fred. Today, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center stands as a living memorial and a testament to the profound connection between the two brothers. Since 1975,at Fred Hutch, home to three Nobel laureates, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.
Dr Stan the Stats Man,
Pacific Coast League,
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
January 5, 2016 12:29:48
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man
A streak in sports occurs when a team or player increases their performance to a higher level resulting in consecutive successes over consecutive trials. A trial could be a team’s game and success for that trial could be a win; a trial could be all plate appearances of a player for one game with success being getting at least one hit in the game.
In 2015, the NBA Golden State Warriors ran off a 24-game consecutive winning streak. This streak ranks third on the all-time NBA list for one season streaks. The LA Lakers in the 1971-72 season, featuring Hall of Famers Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, and Wilt Chamberlain, ran off a 33-game winning streak on route to a 69-13 record and the league title.
The Miami Heat had a 27-game winning streak in the 2012-13 season with a 66-16 record. The Heat went on to defeat SA Spurs in a series that went the full seven games to repeat as NBA champions. We shall see if the Warriors can duplicate the Lakers and Heat and win the 2015-16 NBA title.In 2015, the NFL Carolina Panthers started the season with 14 straight wins. In the history of the NFL there have been only three other NFL teams to do this. They are the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the 2007 New England Patriots, and the 2009 Indianapolis Colts. The 2007 Patriots became the first team after the NFL expanded its regular season to sixteen games in 1978 to finish undefeated. They won the divisional and conference playoffs before losing Super Bowl XLII to the NY Giants, giving them a final record of 18–1. The 1972 Dolphins finished the regular season 14-0 and continued on to win Super Bowl VII and thus go undefeated 17-0 for the entire season. The 2009 Colts lost their last two regular season games going 14-2 for the regular season. The Colts made it to the Super Bowl but lost to the Saints.
This brings me to baseball. In 2015, there was an impressive streak achieved by the Toronto Blue Jays. In fact, this streak was repeated by the Blue Jays for a second time in 2015. Surprisingly these streaks really went unnoticed by many fans. The Blue Jays had two 11-game winning streaks in 2015. The last time a MLB team had two winning streaks of at least 11 games was done by the Cleveland Indians in 1954. The Blue Jays clinched a playoff berth on September 25, 2015, their first since 1993, ending what was the longest playoff drought in North American professional sports at the time. On September 30, the team clinched the American League East Division. They went on to defeat the Rangers in the Division Series. They were eliminated from the playoffs when they lost to the Royals in game 6 of the ALCS.
This led me to comparing the 1954 Indians to the 2015 Blue Jays. Boy was I surprised at what I found. Here are their statistics:
The Formula I created to calculate a team’s Expected Win% is .000673*(RS-RA) +.5.
Using this formula:
The Expected Win% for Indians is .000673*242+.5 =.668.
The Expected Win% for Blue Jays is .000673*221+.5 = .649.
Conclusion: The Indians OVERPERFORMED; the Blue Jays UNDERPERFORMED.
The record for the longest winning streak by a Major League baseball team belongs to the 1916 New York Giants. That year the Giants had a 26-game winning streak which is the record. But, what is amazing is that prior to that streak they pulled off a 17-game winning streak. These two streaks gave the Giants a combined record of 43-0. But the most surprising fact about the 1916 Giants is there overall record in 1916 was 86-66 with 597 RS and 504 RA. This means if we take away their two streaks their record would be a dismal 43-66. Their actual Win% was .566 and their expected Win% was .000673*(597-504) +.5 = .563.
These three teams need to be examined using sabermetrics to explain their strange results.
January 1, 2016 06:02:07
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man
My wife Tara and I were vacationing in Naples a week before Christmas. We love to walk on our favorite beach there. It was two days (not the night) before Christmas when, during a morning walk on the beach, I accidentally stepped on the words Merry Christmas made in the sand. The woman who was constructing the words shouted watch out but it was too late. I destroyed some of her pretty artwork. I apologized and Tara and I kept walking on the beach. At that point I never looked at the woman. My wife loves to take pictures as we walk. Further down the beach a woman saw her taking a picture of me and offered to take our picture together. She did and we thanked her. At that point I introduced my wife and I to her and her husband. Their names were Steve and Kris. He was a principal and she was a teacher.
They both were on vacation from Minnesota and had two sons with them. We started talking and as expected I began talking about baseball and they both said they were huge Minnesota Twins fans. I gave them my card and suggested they go to my website www.sandlotstats.com and also visit my baseball blog. After our brief conversation with them we continued to walk on and expected never to see these two sweet people again.
But the story did not end there. It was 4 PM on the following day when I received an email from the woman, Kris, whom we met on the beach asking if we would like to join them for dinner at their rental condo to meet their friends from Minnesota whose husband is very interested in baseball. I called her back at 4:30 PM and told her we would love to join them. Normally, I do nothing on the spur of the moment but this day was different and we accepted their invitation. She asked if we like tacos and we said yes. It was now 5 PM. Tara and I hopped into our car and in 20 minutes arrived in the lobby of their building.
Her husband Steve met us in the lobby and escorted us to their apartment. Tara and I were introduced to Scott and Sue, their friends from Minnesota. Scott told me he did a weekly baseball podcast program with his son. He said he had over 5,000 listeners and believed they would be interested in hearing how I used baseball to teach statistics at Quinnipiac. His podcast program is called, Apples 2 Apples.
The six of us sat on the balcony which overlooked the Gulf as the sun set. It was postcard beautiful. Yes, Naples is paradise. I spent the rest of the time talking to Scott about various baseball issues. We both agreed that Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. He said what I have said many times that Rose should be judged on his baseball accomplishments only. We all know that there are members of the Hall who did far worse things than bet on baseball. We both cited Ty Cobb as an example. He told me how beautiful the new Minnesota Stadium was. It turned out he was staying on the East Coast and so at about 8 PM the party ended and Tara and I and Scott and Sue left together. Before leaving I gave Scott my business card and he said he would be in touch with me about my appearance on his show. Stay tuned as I will recount my experience after I appear on his show.
Here is where the funny twist to the story comes in. Remember, I said earlier how I stepped on this woman’s Merry Christmas sign in the sand. Well it turned out the woman was none other than the same woman who took our picture and invited us to diner. Yes, it was Kris.
As I have said many times before, BASEBALL DOES FOLLOW ME WHEREVER I GO.