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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Part 1 of 3: Did the Yankees have a successful regular season in 2012? Their 95-67 record was the best in the American League. They either led the league or were tied for first place in their division from June 12 through the end of the season. They had a 10-game lead on July 18 in the AL East. This lead eventually evaporated and with a week left in the season the Orioles pulled even. However, the Yankees finished two games ahead of the Orioles.

The Yankees overcame an injury plagued season. The Yankees put 16 different players on the disabled list a total of 17 times. These 16 players missed a combined 1,510 games. Starting left fielder Brett Gardiner was sidelined beginning April 17 and was exclusively used as a pinch runner in the last month. Mariano Rivera made just nine appearances in the season. Michael Pineda, their projected number three started, missed the entire season. Their ace, CC Sabathia, was on the DL twice. Andy Pettitte suffered a broken ankle and missed three months. Alex Rodriguez missed over a month after suffering a left hand fracture. Teixeira missed nearly the entire month of September with a calf injury. Joba Chamberlain suffered a dislocated right ankle and made only 22 appearances in relief. David Robertson, their projected seventh inning pitcher, missed time on the DL.How did the Yankees overcome so many missed games by key players? The Yankees hit a franchise record of 245 home runs and finished second in the Majors with 804 runs scored. The Yankee starting pitchers compiled a combined 71-50 mark, the best winning percentage among all AL starting staffs. Rafael Soriano, the projected eighth-inning setup man, replaced the injured closer Mariano Rivera and had 42 saves in 46 chances. Sabathia, Kuroda, and Hughes gave the Yankees a trio of pitchers with at least 15 wins for the first time since 2006. Kuroda adjusted well to his new league with career highs in wins,16, starts, 33, and strikeouts,167. Pettitte returning from retirement posted a 2.87 ERA in 12 starts. David Phelps, a not top 10 prospect, filled several roles including spot starter, middle reliever, and setup man while compiling a 3.34 ERA. Boone Logan made a career-high 80 appearances as a lefty specialist compiling an ERA of 3.74. Castoffs Clay Rapada and Cory Eppley appeared in 70 and 59 games respectively compiling ERAs around 3.00. The Yankees .987 fielding percentage was third best in the Majors. The two aging veterans Eric Chavez and Raul Ibanez playing more than expected contributed many clutch hits. The July acquisition of Ichiro Suzuki contributed speed and defense while batting .322 as a Yankee. Granderson hit a career-high 43 home runs. Robinson Cano had an MVP type year. I saved for last the contributions of, The Captain, Derek Jeter. At the age of 38, Derek had one of the greatest performances ever for a 38 year old shortstop. He led the Majors with 216 hits and batted .316. More than his statistics, the “Jeter Way” sets a positive example for the rest of the team. Finally, I credit general manager Brian Cashman for his shrewd acquisitions of Kuroda, Chavez, Ibanez, Suzuki, Eppley, Rapada, Lowe, and for resigning Pettitte.There were disappointments for 2012. A-Rod continued his decline accounting for only 57 RBIs his lowest total ever for a full season. Granderson set a franchise record with 195 strikeouts. Russell Martin had a batting average below the Mendoza line for most of the season. Ivan Nova, a 16 game winner last year, struggled all year and finished with an ERA above 5.0. Freddy Garcia demonstrated he was a three inning starting pitcher. CC Sabathia had a subpar season for him. Andruw Jones’ bat disappeared in the second half of the season.

For many Yankee fans a season is only successful if the Yankees appear in the World Series. Not me. I say yes the Yankees had a successful regular season.  

 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

To get up to speed on this posting please see my last posting. A brief summary is at a store in Naples, FL I met Ms. Root, whose father’s uncle was Charlie Root. He was the pitcher who in the 1932 WS pitched the ball that Babe Ruth supposedly pointed to the centerfield stands prior to the pitch. On the next pitch the Babe deposited the ball into the centerfield stands.

Ms. Root’s father told her that his uncle was really bothered about the called shot and being remembered only for yielding the “called shot of Ruth”.

Later on, I looked up the statistics compiled by Charlie Root. He had a fine career winning over 200 games. In researching him further I found out he was asked to play himself in the 1948 film about Ruth, he turned it down when he learned that Ruth’s pointing to centerfield would be in the film. Charlie Root said, "Ruth did not point at the fence before he swung. If he had made a gesture like that, well, anybody who knows me knows that Ruth would have ended up on his ass.”

Now back to the gentleman who joined our conversation. After saying he was a former baseball player he gave his name as Henry Devincent. He told me he played in the Cincinnati farm system for two years, 1956 and 1957. He continued his story by saying for most of the time he played in Class D ball which was the lowest class of minor league ball at that time. For those who don’t know it at one time the minor league system consisted of several classes. From lowest to highest it went as follows. The lowest being D-ball followed by C-Ball, B-Ball, A-Ball, AA-Ball, AAA-Ball. In 1957, he announced his retirement and in his final game hit a home run. After arriving at the dugout a teammate asked if he was still going to retire and he said I am off to medical school. Today at the age of 78 he is a retired physician. He then went on to tell me stories mostly about Joe DiMaggio and his relationship with Mickey Mantle.

I will recount from memory some of the things Henry told me as we sat outside the store in Naples, Fl. When Mickey Mantle arrived in 1951 from his minor league team to the big club he was given the number 6. The number you were given corresponded to your locker number in the clubhouse. Since Joe DiMaggio wore number 5, his locker was next to Joe’s locker. When Joe saw that all Mickey had was dungarees and a shirt, he told Mickey this was not the Yankee way. Mickey said he had no money. Joe reached into his pocket and pulled out three 100 dollar bills gave it to the clubhouse attendant and told him to take the kid and get him a couple of suits. Joe always addressed a rookie as kid. Mickey always addressed Joe as Mr. DiMaggio. He did say that on road trips Joe always ate in his hotel room and never went out with the guys. Whenever any reporter asked Joe how was it to be married to Marilyn Monroe, Joe got real upset and walked away without answering. In those days being a baseball player was considered a part time job. In the summers, many players worked at places like UPS. Henry told me after two years in Class D ball he saw no future in baseball and took off for a more profitable career in medicine. He knew Robin Roberts, the Hall of Fame pitcher of the Phillies, whose highest salary was $32,000 for a season.

My wife exited the store and I said goodbye to Ms. Root and to Henry Devincent and thanked both of them for a most enjoyable 30 minutes.

Yes, baseball follows me wherever I go.

 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Recently my wife Tara and I took a short trip to visit our two granddaughters in Naples, FL. On the plane I was already thinking about my next post about the upcoming WS. As fate would have it my next post found me. On Thursday evening, we went to downtown Naples. We stopped at a store called “The Best of Everything” and as usual I sat outside with two men while my wife shopped. Not knowing either man, I broke into their conversation. When the topic turned to baseball, of course I shamelessly promoted my book Sandlot Stats. One man then said his wife had a famous relative in baseball. He volunteered the name Charlie Root. Honestly, the name did not mean anything to me. He then said Charlie Root was his wife’s father’s uncle and threw the home run ball to Babe Ruth in the fifth inning of the third game of the 1932 World Series.

What was so special about that particular Ruth home run? Legend has it that Ruth called this home run before Charlie Root delivered the pitch. The time was the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series at Wrigley Field in Chicago. During the at bat, Ruth made a pointing gesture, which two existing films confirm, but the exact nature of his gesture remains ambiguous. The story goes that Ruth pointed to the centerfield stands during the at bat. It was allegedly a declaration that he would hit a home run to this part of the park. On the next pitch, Ruth hit a home run to centerfield.

The at bat went as follows. Root’s first pitch to Ruth was a called strike. Ruth then looked over at the Cubs' dugout and raised his right hand, and extended one of his fingers. The next two pitches were balls and then came strike two. The crowd cheered loudly. Ruth then waved back at the Cubs dugout and held up two fingers. He began to shout at Root, and it is at this point Ruth definitely made a pointing gesture in the direction of Root, centerfield, or the Cubs' bench. Root's next pitch was a curveball that Ruth hit at least 440 feet over the wall.

A reporter named Joe Williams ran the story and wrote the headline “Ruth Calls Shot as he puts Home Run in Sidepocket.” Williams summarized the story by saying, "In the fifth, with the Cubs riding him unmercifully from the bench, Ruth pointed to centerfield and punched a screaming liner to a spot where no ball had been hit before."

At the time, Ruth did not clarify the matter, initially stating that he was merely pointing towards the Cubs dugout to tell them he still had one more strike As time went on Ruth, enjoying the attention he was receiving, began to go along with the story. In his 1947 autobiography, Ruth gave another enhanced version by stating “he was upset about the Cubs' insults during the series and was determined to fix things and deliberately pointed to centerfield with two strikes.”

The question remains to this day: Was Ruth pointing at Root, the centerfield seats, or the Cubs’ dugout? Eyewitness accounts are inconclusive. Hall of fame catcher Bill Dickey believed Ruth was angry because Root quick-pitched him and pointed to Root. Associate Supreme Court Justice John Stevens, who was seated behind third base, believed Ruth pointed to the centerfield stands.

As Ms. Root and I were talking along came another gentleman who announced he was a baseball player. To be continued . . .


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

We begin with the highlights.

Miguel Cabrera accomplished the Triple Crown, the first since 1967. It was exciting because the home run title was in doubt until the last two games of the season.

Seven no-hitters (last accomplished in 1991)

The nameless Oakland Athletics came from 13 games behind on June 30 to win the division title by beating Texas on the last day of the season. 101 games were started by rookie pitchers.

The Washington Nationals had their first winning season since moving to Washington DC in 2005. They are the first Washington-based baseball team to advance to the postseason in 79 years. They clinched the division title on October 1.

The Baltimore Orioles had their first non-losing season since 1997. For most of the month of September one game separated them from the Yankees. The Yankees finally secured the division title in game 162. Baltimore won 16 consecutive extra-inning games. Kudos to their manager Buck Sholwalter.

Two great young players, Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals and Mike Trout of the L.A.  Angels, burst on the scene. Unfortunately, neither player will be seen in the playoffs for different reasons. Strasburg was shut down by Washington and the Angels did not make the playoffs. According to many Sabermetricians, Trout deserves the MVP Award. Strasburg is a candidate for the Cy Young Award.

R.A. Dickey, the lone knuckleballer left in baseball today, gave Mets fans a reason to turn out. He should win the Cy Young Award. He led the league in innings pitched, shut outs, strike outs, and complete games. He was second in wins and ERA.

The addition of a second wild card has been a big success. The one-game playoff for the two wild card winners gave fans two thrilling division races. The fans were the real winners.

The Miami Marlins gave Adam Greenberg the opportunity to finish his first at bat in the majors. Seven years ago Adam batted for the first time with the Cubs and on the first pitched was beaned. He was never the same but continued to play in the minors. Great job Marlins!

 

We now turn to the lowlights.

We must begin with Melky Cabrera, who was suspended for 60 games because of testing positive for using performance enhancement drugs. He later voluntarily took himself out of the race for the batting title.

The Boston Red Sox team, led by their manager Bobby Valentine, had their first losing season since 1997, their first season with more than 90 losses since 1966, and their worst season since 1965. Valentine was fired the day after the season ended.

Other disappointing teams include the Phillies and the Marlins. The Phillies finished third in the NL East with 81 wins. The pitching staff with three number ones really disappointed. Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay combined for 17 wins. The Marlins after signing Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle were expected to contend. Not only did they not contend but they finished last behind the hapless Mets. Their manager, Ozzie Guillen, deserves the same fate as Bobby Valentine

The Mets repeated their second half of the season swoon at one point losing 20 of 24 home games.

Finally, baseball said goodbye to future HOFer Chipper Jones, who ranks in the top 5 all-time for third baseman and switch hitters. The Mets are glad to see Chipper go.

 

 

 
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