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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Dr. Stan “The Stats Man” is currently on vacation. To keep the blog current I will be submitting postings written by students in my Baseball and Statistics course at Quinnipiac University. The posting below was submitted by Julianne Giordano, a Post Undergraduate student, and is about a special sports day in the life of her father. In my own life there was that one special day when I was playing basketball in high school and wound up winning the game by stealing the ball and then scoring the winning layup as time expired. The team surrounded me and it was the biggest sports moment of my life. If you have a special sports moment you would like to share with my readers please email me and I would be happy to publish it. Here is Julianne’s posting about her father’s special day .

I have never met another human being who loves baseball as much as my father. His incomprehensible knowledge of every team, player and ball game remains unmatched and he could name any statistic thrown at him without thinking twice. Seeing as the past fifty years of his life has been dedicated to America’s pastime, I was curious as to what was his top most memorable moment regarding baseball. Here’s what he had to say:

“So as a skinny, 150-pound Sophomore Pitcher at Hamden High School in 1980, I didn't have much hope of playing Varsity Baseball as we had 3 senior pitchers on the team already. The only advantage I had (although I did not consider it an advantage at the time) was that my brother had played at the school 3 years prior and was the star pitcher on a team that won a state championship in 1977. His success actually helped me get noticed in the pre-season. Anyway, our first game was moved from the campus field to an off- site field because our campus field was under water. Since the JV's could not practice, the coach took many JV players, including myself, to the game to show us what a Varsity game was like. The coach had very little patience for pitchers and our "big 3" all had terrible games. Yes, he used all of them that game. In the 5th inning we were losing 16-2 so the coach looks down the bench and says, "Giordano, go warm up". I thought he was kidding until he yelled "NOW". I got ready and sure enough, he lets me pitch. I go out there in a disgusting, yellow zip up JV uniform with the other team laughing at us and proceed to pitch 2 scoreless innings with 3 strikeouts. After the game the coach is so upset with the upper class pitchers that as "punishment" for them performing so terribly he decided to let me start the next game. Well, we lost that game 3-1 but I pitched very well. I wasn't sure whether I would get any consistent time after that but I was wrong. I ended up winning my next 8 starts and led us to the State Tournament. I was selected by the coaches to the All-League Team in 1980 and was the only sophomore to receive that honor. All in all, it was a great season for me and certainly my most memorable experiences as a ball player growing up.”

It is interesting to think what would have happened if the home field wasn’t flooded or if the other pitchers on the team were having great games.  This is just one of the many stories I’ve heard from my father regarding baseball and each one is as entertaining as the last. He loves talking baseball with just about anyone he can find, so I was considering introducing him to my baseball statistics professor. That is, until I found out Professor Rothman is a Yankees fan (my father is a die-hard Mets fan). 
By Julianne Giordano

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The expression used by general managers is “you can never have enough starting pitchers” holds true for the 2014 New York Yankees. On opening day the 5-man rotation included CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, and Masahiro Tanaka. Yes, Tanaka was considered the fifth starter. After 43 games the Yankee’s record is 23-20 and they are in first place 1/2 game ahead of the Orioles. Boy, has the 5-man rotation changed! The rotation now consists of Tanaka, Kuroda, and three  unproven starters, right-hander David Phelps, left hander Vidal Nuno, and right-hander Chase Whitley, who made his major league debut against the Mets.So where have all the starters gone? Ivan Nova is done for the year having undergone Tommy John Surgery. CC Sabathia will be out at least for six weeks with a cartridge problem in his knee. Michael Pineda pitched to a 1.83 ERA before being suspended for his pine tar incident. After the suspension he went on the DL with a strained back muscle. He is expected back within four weeks.

To say that Tanaka was as good as advertised is an understatement. Tanaka’s performance this year includes a record of 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA. Of all AL starting pitchers with at least 6 starts, he is first in WHIP (0.91), fourth in ERA, seventh in opponents’ batting average against (0.214), fifth in strike-outs (66), and third in fewest Base-on-balls (7). Can we call this performance a surprise? There were many critics of the signing of Tanaka based onhis 24-0 record in a Japanese League. Playing in Japan and in the US, Tanaka has an amazing winning streak of 34-0 since August 19, 2012. My feeling is if you have a 34-0 record in any league there is something special about you as a pitcher. After watching several of his starts, scouts now agree he is the real thing. He works both sides of the plate and has four legitimate pitches. His control is great and when he gets two strikes on a batter he can finish him off with the best splitter in baseball. In his last game against the Mets Daniel Murphy said, “I knew what was coming and still could not hit the ball.”

CC Sabathia is another story. His fastball had a velocity of 94 mph fastball three years ago. Last year his velocity dropped to 91 mph. This year his fastball velocity diminished to a very hittable 89 mph. CC is now a fifth starter. When CC gets two strikes on a batter he cannnot finish him off. This leads to high pitch counts, early removals from games, and more home runs.Michael Pineda is an injury waiting to happen. Even if he returns in four weeks it is just a matter of time before he is back on the DL. Kuroda is a 39 year old pitcher, who last year broke down in the second half of the season. Look for him to break down again after the All-Star break. This leads to the three unproven starters, Phelps, Nuno, and Whitley. Unfortunately, in their starts so far they have all shown themselves to be 5-inning pitchers.What about the Yankee bullpen? If starting pitchers continually leave the game in the fifth inning or before, theinnings pitched by the relief pitchers will mount up. Yes, Robertson has been solid as their new closer.  Betances is finally living up to his potential with 42 k’s in 24.1 innings and an ERA of 1.85. He can be used as the eighth inning specialist. This leaves Warren and Kelly as seventh inning specialists. Thornton the left-handed specialist has not produced (ERA 5.87). Aceves slatted to be the long-reliever has disappointed (ERA 6.35). The problem is as the season goes on the increased innings required of therelievers will wear them down.

Currently the Yankee starting pitchers have a cumulative 4.24 ERA and rank 10th in the AL and 24th in the MLB. To summarize, unless the starting pitcher rotation is stabilized, there will be no October baseball in New York City.

Update: Tanaka’s winning streak is over as he loses to the Cubs 6-1 on May 20.

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man reported on May 13, 2014 that Jose Fernandez was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right elbow. Later a tear in the UCL in his pitching arm was discovered and Tommy John (TJ) Surgery would be required. Fernandez, 21, is 4-2 with a 2.44 ERA in eight starts this season. 

Fernandez made his Marlin debut against the Mets on April 7, 2013. Fernandez was the Major League Rookie of the Year for the NL in 2013 and came in third place for the Cy Young Award. When Fernandez has the TJ Surgery he would join two other All-Star young pitchers, Matt Harvey and Stephen Strasburg, who already have undergone the TJ Surgery. These three pitchers are arguably among the top 10 starting pitchers.

A notable list of pitchers who have either had or will undergo TJ Surgery since the start of 2014 Spring Training include the Braves starting right-handers, Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy; Diamondbacks ace Patrick Corbin; Athletics starters Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin; Rays All-Star Matt Moore; Yankees starter Ivan Nova; Padres starter Josh Johnson. Others include Mets closer Bobby Parnell; Royals setup man Luke Hochevar; Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon. Dr. James Andrews, the first stop for any player with arm problems, was on Sirius/XM radio’s “Power Alley”. When asked why there seem to be so many guys needing TJ surgery these days. He said, “It’s not an anomaly, it’s a trend. And an alarming one in that so many more of the surgeries he’s performing are for high school pitchers as opposed to professionals with a few years under their belt. Kids are bigger and stronger these days, and their ability to throw harder is outpacing the development of their ulnar collateral ligaments.” He believed the biggest risk factor was year-round baseball, which left little time to recover. Also: young players are playing in more than one league, where pitch count and innings rules aren’t coordinated. Another factor is the radar gun. Young pitchers who throw over 85 or so are at risk, and all of them who are on a major league track are throwing that fast or faster, and are going up in effort when scouts with guns are around. Ultimately, you can’t prevent these injuries for young major leaguers, most of whom were damaged in high school only to have the UCL injuries happen once they’ve hit the pros.

If Dr. Andrews is correct in his belief that the damage to the pitching arm is done before the player reaches the major leagues, young pitchers must be carefully monitored from the time they are in Little League through their high school and college years. Since parents are really the only ones who know where and when a child pitches each day, I believe parents must take a more active role in this monitoring process. It would be useful to have a website developed to educate parents of pitchers on the dangers of overthrowing.

Commissioner Bud Selig recently said. "I'm very worried over the fact that it's happening with so much regularity, over and over. We have some great young arms, and it's very sad.”

This brings me to Dr. Frank Jobe who developed and performed the first Tommy John Surgery on Tommy John in 1974. In previous blogs, I argued that Dr. Frank Jobe and Tommy John should be elected into Baseball’s HOF by the Veterans Committee because of their pioneer contributions to baseball. The two blogs about Tommy John and Dr. Frank Jobe called “Two Men Joined at the Elbow” can be found in the archives in September 2013.

The chart below from Bill Petti shows the steep rise in TJ Surgeries over the years. I have not verified his numbers.

Increase in TJ Surgery Over the Years

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

I know you will enjoy reading the remarkable events experienced by Matthew DeVore II,a student in my Baseball and Statistics on his visit to Citi Field. What happened to him is a dream come true for any true baseball fan when they attend a baseball game.I know it was always my dream but it never happened to me. But it happened not once but twice to him. Please look at the picture of his evidence at the end of the story. Here is my student’s remarkable adventure in his own words.

On April 2nd, my friend and I attended a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets at Citi Field. Being a Washington Nationals fan myself, I wanted to get to the park early to watch them take batting practice. In order to make it to batting practice on time we had to leave around 3:30 pm. After making the one and a half hour drive, we arrived at the stadium. Citi Field is a gorgeous venue for baseball; I would recommend catching a game there. Upon entering Citi Field we headed straight for the left field stands. While we were walking down the steps in left field, I noticed that Ian Desmond --the Nationals slugging shortstop—was up and decided to stop where I was and watch him. My friend Andrew decided to move further over to the left when…CRACK! Desmond launches a ball to left and it’s coming right at me! I didn’t even have time to think about how I was going to catch the ball because it was coming at me so fast, so I just reached out and plucked the ball out of thin air to a round of applause from the other fans in the section. It was the hype. I will admit that catching the ball did hurt my hands a bit, but it was worth it. After catching the ball I went down to the front row to see if I would get lucky and catch another. Turns out it was my lucky day, because right when I got down to the front I was the only Nationals fan in a crowd of Mets fans. This was lucky because a ball was hit to Danny Espinosa, the Nats second basemen, and he looked in the crowd and pointed at me before tossing me the ball. I remember thinking to myself, “I’ve caught two balls before the game even started?! This is unreal!” So, we watched the rest of BP.

Once BP ended we headed towards the tarp near the Nationals dugout in order to hopefully snag some autographs. The first autograph I got was from Nationals CF Denard Span. After that I got an autograph from Nationals third basemen Anthony Rendon. I was ready to call it a day after that, but I waited just in case Bryce Harper decided to come over. I did mention it was my lucky day, right? Bryce Harper ended up walking right over to us to start signing for fans. People started mobbing him the second he came over, it’s clear that the guy is a superstar. I happened to be wearing my Bryce Harper jersey this day, and my friend Andrew told me to take it off so Harper would sign it. So I took the jersey off and laid it on the tarp hoping he would see it. He saw it. Harper came over and signed the jersey, then went back into the dugout. I was luckier than Lou Gehrig. We went to our seats and watched the game after that. The Nationals would beat the Mets, 5-1, on a gem from Gio Gonzalez and homers from Ian Desmond and Gonzalez. Overall it was a great day for me at the ballpark. Pictured below is the proof of my successes.

Yes, the dream is to catch a ball at the ballgame. If you have a story about catching a ball please email it to me.

2 balls caught in one game

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

This blog was contributed by Vincent Yancigay, a student in my Baseball and Statistics class.

Dr. Stan the Stats Man and Mike Abramson

Within the past week, Mike Abramson from the New Britain Rock Cats visited our Baseball and Statistics class here at Quinnipiac.

Mike Abramson Visits QU Baseball and Statistics Class

The New Britain Rock Cats are the Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. Mr. Abramson is the Vice President of Corporate Partnerships & Marketing for the Rock Cats. This is Mike’s eighth season in Minor League Baseball and his second as Vice President of Marketing & Partnerships. Mike’s current job entails taking care of marketing for the Rock Cats, which are the most-attended sports team in Connecticut. I found it interesting that Mike originally worked as a journalist for NPR before switching to marketing.

Before working for the Rock Cats, Mike spent time with the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Triple-A team for the Boston Red Sox. Some of his fond memories included when his wife asked one of the Red Sox players to get her tickets from the box office because the player looked like a young worker. Mike also had the honor of picking up some of the Red Sox players from their homes or even waking up one of them. This all happened before Mike came to the Rock Cats.

Working in sports is one of the things I thought I wanted to do. Mike said that the work days are long and many times he comes home so late he does not see his children because they are already sleeping. These are some of the difficulties in this profession but it seemed like he liked his job. However, he did not like extra-inning games. After hearing all of these negatives, I still want to pursue a career in sports.

Even though the Rock Cats is not a prime time Major League Baseball team like the Red Sox or the Yankees, it is possible some of these players can develop into great players. Some past Rock Cats players, who developed into special MLB players, are Torii Hunter, David Ortiz, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Michael Cuddyer. The Yankee new sensation Yangervis Solarte played for the Rock Cats in 2010 and 2011. After Mike finished his presentation, he invited the class to a game and even offered to bring us around on the field and show us more of the behind the scenes areas in the Rock Cats stadium.

Mike told us some great stories. One of the stories I really enjoyed is called the marriage proposal rejection hoax. This promotion involved creating a YouTube video of a failed marriage proposal during a Rock Cats baseball game. The team titled the video “Girl Says No to Marriage Proposal at Rock Cats Baseball Game.” Mike said he got the idea for the promotion after watching a public proposal. My people talked about what would happen if the answer were NO, and how that might affect a crowd, and those viewing it after on video. We worked with two of our employees on the skit and executed a digital strategy to set the video on a viral path; we could not be more pleased with the outcome."

Mike told us the video was viewed close to a million times on YouTube and was covered by network TV news, ESPN, and major newspapers. Mike later apologized if the stunt offended anyone. However, the promotion achieved its goal of increasing the attendance at Rock Cat games.

Mike’s presentation was entertaining and informative. It opened our eyes to various career opportunities in sports, informing us of the negatives and positives of these careers.




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