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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Game 1

It was a frigid Friday night when the ceremonial first pitch of the game was delivered by Bernie Williams. It is official Bernie has signed his retirement papers. Look for his number 51 to grace Monument Park in the near future.

As it turned out the combo of Michael Pineda and Mark Teixeira was all that the Yankees needed to defeat the Mets and end their 11-game winning streak. Pineda (3-0) pitched 7 1/3 masterful innings allowing just 5 hits and a run. Along the way he struck out 7 Mets and threw 78 of his 100 pitches for strikes. This marked the longest outing by a Yankee starter this year. The often injured Pineda was dominant throughout the game.

DeGrom was rocked during the first three innings giving up three homers. Teixeira hit back to back two-run home runs in the 1st and 3rd innings. His 1st homer ended deGrom’s 18 1/3 scoreless inning streak. Ellsbury contributed a solo blast in the 3rd inning. These 3 home runs were hit to right-field but were not cheap shots. Teixeira’s 2 were hit way back in the stands and landed almost in the same place. Ellsbury’s homer was a line-drive rope. After 3 inning the Yankees scored 6 of their runs and went on to win game one of the Subway Series by score of 8-2. DeGrom gave up a career high-tying 6 runs.

Game 2

The starting pitchers for game 2 were CC Sabathia and Matt Harvey. Lucas Duda staked the Mets to a 1 to 0 lead by homering in the first. The Yankees tied the score in the third by scratching out a run after a Stephen Drew double. It all fell apart for CC in the fourth, With 2 out the Mets scored 4 runs highlighted by a triple by Lagares and Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki’s first major league home run, a two-run shot. CC’s fast ball topped out at 90 mph and the Met hitters hammered the ball. It could have been worse except for a great diving catch by Ellsbury.

The difference between the young Harvey and the old CC was clear. Harvey’s fastball clocked out consistently between 95 and 98 while CC’s fastball ranged between 88 and 90. As I watched the game the statistic known as well-hit balls was clearly evident. The only well-hit ball by a Yankee hitter off of Harvey was Drew’s double; whereas, the ball flew off the Mets bats. There were 3 Mets home runs and a solid triple. With 2 strikes CC no longer has an out pitch. CC was removed in the fifth inning.

Final score 8-2 Mets. The only Yankee bright spot was Teixeira’s third home run in 2 days.

Game 3

The rubber game pitted Nathan Eovaldi for the Yankees against the Mets Jon Niese. After a leadoff home run by Granderson in the top of the first, A-Rod countered with his own solo home run in the bottom of the first. The Yankees came back in the second with 3 doubles and 4 runs. The last double was A-Rod’s second hit in two innings. For A-Rod it was his 659th home run leaving him one away from Willie Mays’ 660 which is fourth on the all-time list. At the end of third inning it was 5-4 Yankees. The Yankees went on to win the rubber game by a score of 6-4.

Eovaldi was hit hard and did not last 5 innings. However, the Yankee relievers were solid with Shreve, Martin, Betances, and Miller pitching 4 2/3 scoreless innings. It was Miller’s 7th save in 7 attempts.

My Takes

Here are my takes from this Subway Series . The Mets do have trouble defensively at second and shortstop. Matt Harvey is back and is one of the top 5 pitchers in baseball. The Yankees Betances and Miller could be the best pair in the majors at closing a game. CC is now a number 5 starter. Pineda is a true number 2 starter. Eovaldi can’t win just throwing a fastball 98 mph. A-Rod and Teixeira are both performing way above expectations. Lagares could be the best defensive centerfielder in baseball. The Mets are well on the way to the playoffs and may be joined by the Yankees.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

It has been many years since there is so much anticipation between Mets fans and Yankee fans for the 2015 edition of the Subway Series beginning on Friday, April 24 at Yankee Stadium. The Mets enter the series with (can you believe it) the best record in baseball at 13-3. The Yankees, after a slow start, have won 6 of their last 7 games including 3 out of 4 from the very good Tigers. Currently, the Yankees have a record of 9-7 and are tied for first place in the AL East. Clearly, right now the Mets are the hottest team in baseball and the Yankees might be the second hottest team. This is the first time in the history of the Subway Series both teams enter the competition at least tied for first place. Two of the most talked about players this spring (albeit for different reasons) Matt Harvey and Alex Rodriguez will be in the limelight. This year both teams will host a three-game series which guarantees a winner for each series.

The Mets have been hit with the injury bug. They will enter the series without David Wright, their best positional player, their starting and much improved catcher Travis d’Arnaud, and relievers Jerry Blevins, Vic Black, Josh Edgin, and Bobby Parnell. Let’s not forget the loss of Zack Wheeler, their projected number two starter. In spite of these loses they have been winning with excellent starting and relief pitching. They have been scoring just enough runs to win many close games. Their closer, Jeurys Familia, is a perfect 8 for 8 in saves. If the Mets win 50% of their remaining games they will win 86 games. Since 90 wins usually guarantees a ticket to the playoffs, Mets fans can definitely start thinking about post-season play. Turning to the Yankees, they enter the series much healthier. Starters Ivan Nova and Chris Capuano are expected back in a couple of weeks. Brendon Ryan, their backup shortstop, will also return shortly.

The pitching matchups for the first three-game series include Jacob deGrom vs. Michael Pineda (Friday), Matt Harvey vs. CC Sabathia (Saturday) and Jon Niese vs. Nathan Eovaldi (Sunday). We will see power arms from all these pitchers. Among the 104 qualified starters Eovaldi, Harvey, and deGrom rank in the top ten in average velocity of their fastball.

The eyes of New York fans will be glued to two special players. Of course, I mean A-Rod and Harvey. A-Rod has surprised the fans and baseball experts by looking like his old self. He is hitting the fastball and physically looks great. Matt Harvey has returned from Tommy John surgery and also looks like his old self. I can’t wait to see the matchup between these two players.

I will have a follow-up posting after the series concludes. It is now 20 minutes from the start of game one. Enjoy the three-game series. This is A MUST SEE.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

After completing a sweep of Miami, the Mets now have a 10-3 record. They won their first seven home games for the first time and completed their first four-game sweep since July 2011 in Cincinnati. The winning streak is New York’s longest since an eight-game streak in June 2010. The Mets also began their 1986 and 2006 seasons with 10-3 records and won division titles in both those years.

After 13 games the Mets have the second best record in the majors despite the loss of their best positional player David Wright (hamstring) and their projected number two starter Zack Wheeler (elbow surgery). They also lost their projected closer Jenry Mejia, suspended for 80 games for PED use, and lefty pitcher Elgin.  So how have the Mets thrived despite these key player loses?

It all starts with their pitching. The Mets five starting pitchers for the first 13 games have a combined record of 9-2 with a combined ERA of 2.70. Their combined ratio of strikeouts to walks is 74 to 11. Matt Harvey, returning from Tommy John Surgery, has 24 Ks with just 1 walk. He also has a record of 3-0. DeGrom has 17 Ks and just 3 walks. At this point in the season the Mets may have the best starting rotation in the majors. Everyone talked in the off-season of getting rid of the 42 year-old Colon. So how has Colon answered his critics? Colon is 3-0 with an ERA of 2.25. He has 18 Ks and just 1 walk in 20 innings. What about the Mets new closer Jeurvs Familia? Well, he is six for six in saves with an ERA of 2.35. I know the season is a 162-game marathon and the above is just a small sample of 13 games but Mets fans have every reason to be excited about their pitching staff. Their team ERA is 3.00 which ranks the Mets 7th out of 30 ML teams. Can you imagine how good the starting staff would have been with Wheeler?

We now turn to the Mets positional players. We begin with the starting catcher d’Arnaud. After being sent down to the minors in the first half of the 2014 season, he returned in the second half and showed he could really be a solid starting catcher. He has begun the 2015 season with a .317 AVG and an OPS of .892 and leads the team with 2 HR and 10 RBI. Unfortunately, in game 13 he was hit by a pitch which resulted in a broken hand. This will be a big loss for the Mets. At first base the Mets made the right decision in keeping Duda and letting Davis go. Duda has rewarded the Mets by hitting .396 with an OPS of .947 for the first 13 games. His defense at first has also improved. At second Murphy is off to a slow start batting a mere .156. But don’t worry because he is a .300 hitter and before the season ends that’s where his AVG will be. His defense has always been criticized but I see him improving. At shortstop Flores won the job over Tejeda because of his bat. However, he is only batting .222 after 13 games. But in his last few games he has shown a marked improvement. His fielding is adequate at best. Before being placed on the DL Wright was batting .333 and continues to be excellent defensively. He seems to be returning to his All-Star form after an injury-plagued 2014. Their centerfielder Lagarus continues to demonstrate why he won the gold glove in 2014. I see a definite improvement in his hitting. Granderson in right field is off to a slow start batting just .146. However, as their leadoff batter he has 12 walks. He is a good defensive outfielder with power. He will produce home runs in Citi Field now that the fences have been brought in. Cuddyer in left field is solid and is batting .333. As a team the Mets rank 10th in AVG, 15th in OPS, 22nd in HR, and 11th in runs scored.

My prediction is even with the loss of both d’Arnaud and reliever Blevins in their last game to go along with the other losses of key players, the Mets will make the 2015 playoffs because of their pitching. Once again the Mets will be THE AMAZING METS.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The month of April gives sports fans two great events to usher in the warm weather. They are opening day in baseball and the Masters Tournament in golf. Not being a fan of golf (having never played) why do I put these two different sports in the same sentence. Yes, they both occur in April but that is not my reason. While listening to the discussion of the Masters on sports radio the feat of accomplishing golf’s Grand Slam is talked about. For those of you who like me do not follow golf winning the Grand Slam in golf means in April winning the Masters, in June winning the U.S. Open, in July winning The Open Championship, and in August winning the PGA Championship. All four tournaments must be won in the same year. Since the Masters began in 1934, this feat has never been accomplished. The player who came closest to accomplishing the Grand Slam was Tiger Woods when he won all four of these tournaments consecutively over two years, 2000 and 2001. Tiger’s feat was subsequently called The Tiger Slam. The only four golfers to win all four of these championships during their careers (but not in the same year) were Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Ben Hogan. This feat is called golf’s Career Grand Slam.

So what feat in baseball do I think about when the Grand Slam in golf is discussed? The words grand slam in baseball refers to hitting a home run with the bases loaded. So the words home run come to mind. Adding the terms batting average and RBI to home run we are now talking about the Batting Triple Crown in baseball. A batter achieves The Batting Triple Crown when he leads either league in the three statistical categories of batting Average (BA), home runs (HR), and runs batted in (RBI) for the same season. These three categories represents a batter’s hitting skill, hitting for power, and creating runs for his team. Most recently in 2012 Miguel Cabrera earned the Batting Triple Crown, replacing Carl Yastrzemski (1967) as the last player to achieve this. Yastrzemski in 1967 actually tied with Harmon Killebrew for the league lead with 44 home runs. The Career Batting Triple Crown is accomplished when a player wins or ties for the three titles of BA, HR, and RBI but not in the same season.  

Since the American League joined the National League in 1901 the list of Batting Triple Crown winners include the following 12 players: Nap Lajoie (1901), Ty Cobb (1909), Rogers Hornsby (1922, 1925), Jimmy Foxx (1933), Chuck Klein (1933), Lou Gehrig (1934), Joe Medwick (1937), Ted Williams (1942, 1947), Mickey Mantle (1956), Frank Robinson (1966), Carl Yastrzemski (1967), and Miguel Cabrera (2012). Every player on this list except Cabrera (who is not eligible) has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Unlike the Grand Slam in golf two players can win the Triple Crown for the same season. The 1933 season actually had two winners, one in each league.

In the years to come will we have our first Grand Slam winner in golf or our next Batting Triple Crown winner? Since we have never had a Grand Slam winner in golf one might vote for the Baseball Triple Crown occurring first. But there are also good arguments for the Grand Slam in golf occurring first. In golf starting with the year 1934 and ending with 2014 there could have been a maximum of 81 Grand Slam winners; whereas, in baseball from 1901 to 2014 there could have been a maximum of 114*2 =228 possible winners. This makes the 14 Batting Triple Crowns to the 0 Grand Slams less impressive. Many baseball writers believe the Batting Triple Crown is much more difficult to win today because today’s batters choose to specialize in batting average or hitting with power. The gap of 45 years between 1967 and 2012 demonstrates this. Further, it is more difficult today in baseball since each league has 15 teams instead of 8 teams. What do you think?


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The big news going into the Final Four of March Madness is will Kentucky extend its winning streak from 38 to 40 games and win the National Championship. The last time a college basketball team achieved this was when Indiana in 1976 went undefeated and won 30 games to win the National Championship.

What is a streak? It is any consecutive number of successes by a single team or player. Success for a team can mean winning a game, hitting a home run in a game, getting double digit hits in a game, etc. Success for a player can mean getting at least one hit in a game, hitting at least one home run in a game, getting on-base at least once in a game, etc. A streak can be over just one season or can extend to multiple seasons. In what follows we will only consider streaks for one season. By all definitions, a streak signifies dominance by a team or player because long streaks do not happen by accident. Yes, usually there is at least one game when luck was necessary for the streak to continue. Many say Kentucky’s victory over Notre Dame this year had a luck component. In what follows getting on-base means the result of a plate appearance is reaching base by either getting a hit, a walk, or being hit-by-pitch. A plate appearance is any result of an at-bat. Here are some notable baseball streaks by a player.

  • Most consecutive games without striking-out (115): Joe Sewell, 1929
  • Most consecutive plate appearances with a hit (12): Walt Dropo, 1952
  • Most consecutive games with at least two hits (13): Rogers Hornsby, 1923
  • Most consecutive games with at least three hits (6): George Brett, 1976)
  • Most consecutive games with at least one home run (8): Dale Long (1956), Don Mattingly (1987), Ken Griffey Jr.’s (1993)
  • Most consecutive games with at least one base-on-balls (22): Roy Cullenbine, 1947
  • Most consecutive games scoring at least one run (18): Red Rolfe (1939) Kenny Lofton (2000)
  • Most consecutive games with at least one triple (5) John Wilson (1912)
  • Most consecutive games with at least one RBI (17): Ted Grimes, 1922.
  • Most consecutive plate appearances getting on-base (16): Ted Williams, 1957

The mathematicsto develop a model for predicting which streak would be the hardest to duplicate and which player had the highest probability of duplicating the streak always fascinated me. This led me to develop a formula for using any player’s batting statistics for a given year to assign him a probability of duplicating a particular streak. The formula I developed is Ch. 4 in the book Mathematics and Sports published by the Mathematical Association of America. Also, Ch. 16 (Streaking) in my book Sandlot Stats: Learning Statistics with Baseball develops this formula and uses this formula to compare various batting streaks.

Two of the most celebrated players in baseball Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams own two of the most notable consecutive game streaks in baseball. Ted Williams, known for his batting eye, owns the streak of most consecutive games getting on-base (84 in 1949). DiMaggio’s streak of most consecutive games with a hit (56 in 1941) immortalized the number 56.

Which of these two streaks would be hardest to duplicate? Applying my formula to these two streaks. Williams had a probability of, 09444 (1 in 11 chance) of achieving his 84-game streak in 1949. DiMaggio had a probability of .00010 (1 in 10,000 chance) of achieving his 56-game streak in 1941. As further proof that the 56-game streak was the tougher to duplicate, DiMaggio’s probability of achieving the 84-game streak in 1941 was .00565 (1 in 17 chance) and in 1949 the probability of Williams achieving the 56-game streak was .000001 (1 in 100,000 chance). The second longest hitting streak is 44 games (Pete Rose 1978).

Flash! Wisconsin wins ending Kentucky’s quest for perfection.


 

 

 
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