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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

This is the first blog of a three blog series. This blog will give the reasons I use for making my MLB predictions for a new year. The second and third blogs will give my actual predictions for the three division winners and two wild card teams in each league for the 2017 season.

To recap the 2016 season these were the final standings.

2016 Results

The three division winners in the AL were BOS, CLE, and TEX. The two wild card winners were TOR and BAL. The three division winners in the NL were WSN, CHC, and LAD. The two wild cards were NYM and SFG.

My Linear Formula for the 2016 season was W% = .000579*(Runs Scored – Runs Allowed) + .50 where W% was a team’s expected winning percentage based on their (runs scored – runs allowed). Using the expected winning percentage from my formula the following would have been the final standings for 2016.

2016 Linear Formula Results
 

From my formula the three division winners in the AL would have been BOS, CLE, and SEA. The two wild card winners would have been TOR and BAL. The three division winners for the NL would have been WSN, CHC, and LAD. The two NL wild card winners would have been SFG and STL.

The only difference in the five playoff teams, comparing the actual playoff teams to my expected playoff teams from my formula, was for the AL TEX made it and SEA did not and for the NL the NYM were in and STL was out.

The reason for giving the above data is to justify why I use my formula to help me make my predictions for next year’s playoff teams based on how the runs scored and runs allowed for each team will change from the previous year. These changes in runs scored and runs allowed are estimated by looking at the new players added and the old players deleted from each team. From the addition and subtraction of players for each team I estimate a new runs scored and runs allowed for each team. Then using my Linear Formula, I arrive at a team’s estimated winning percentage for the new season.

My next two blogs will give my predictions for the two leagues for the 2017 season.

By the way using my method last year I predicted the CHC would defeat TOR in the World Series. Of course, even though TOR made the playoffs it was CLE that represented the AL in the World Series. 


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The last Yankee dynasty which began in 1996 was triggered by the young players’ rookie Derek Jeter, second-year pitcher Andy Pettitte and second-year pitcher Mariano Rivera. Soon afterwards Jorge Posada joined the other three and the four became known as the “Core Four.” Beginning in 1996 and ending in 2007 the Yankees made the playoffs every year and were 4-time World Series Champions.

What a weekend August 12-14 was in Yankee-Land. On August 12 the Yankees celebrated A-Rod’s last Yankee game, on August 13 the Yankees celebrated the 20th anniversary of their 1996 World Series Championship team and on August 14 the Yankees honored Mariano Rivera by adding his plaque to Monument Park.

With A-Rod unconditionally released on Friday, the Yankees on Saturday brought up from their Triple A farm team Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge. Both players in their first at bats on Saturday powered back-to-back home runs. The feat of two players hitting back to back home runs in their first at bats in the majors had never been done before in the history of baseball. Austin’s home run was to right field and just cleared the 314-foot sign, whereas; Judge’s home run traveled 457 feet and tied for the fourth longest home run ever hit at Yankee Stadium. In that same game home runs were also hit by Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks. Manager Girardi has stated Aaron Judge will be their permanent right fielder and it is clear that Gary Sanchez is their catcher of the future. All of the above mentioned players are under the age of 27 or as Yankee broadcaster John Sterling put it, the “Baby Bombers” have arrived.

It is fitting that after celebrating the 20th anniversary of their 1996 World Series Championship team, which also marked the first year of the last Yankee dynasty, we can talk about the next Yankee dynasty.  Clearly the strategy of GM Cashman is working better than I expected and probably even better than Cashman expected. The Yankees as of this writing are still in the hunt for the second wild card spot. But there are too many teams in front of them and their starting pitching as it stands now is suspect to say the least. Except for the Tanaka and Sabathia the rest of the starters including Pineda, Eovaldi and Severino have been woeful. However, the bright side for the next couple of years will be watching these young players develop into solid major leaguers triggering the next Yankee dynasty. 

Why do I call this the early stage for the next Yankee dynasty? Over the next two years the Yankees will be rid of many costly salaries. After the 2018 season, with Beltran’s $15 million, Teixeira’s $22.5 million, Sabathia’s $25 million, A-Rod’s $21 million and other bad contracts gone, the Yankees will have globs of money to throw at almost any great player they want. What about signing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado or Jose Fernandez, a free agent in 2019? Cashman’s strategy of unloading Chapman, Miller and Beltran to receive back 12 very good prospects has rebuilt the Yankee farm system into one of the best in baseball. These good prospects can be used as trade bait to bring back to the Yankees top starting pitchers. I predict the new Yankee dynasty will start at the beginning of the 2018 season. The Yankees will be very competitive in 2017 and possibly can be a second wild card team. This will depend on the Yankees fortifying their pitching staff in the off season. Remember, the Yankees could resign Beltran and Chapman for the 2017 season. The addition of 29-year old Adam Warren this year has already helped the pitching staff.

It would be hard to predict now which of the young Yankees will be the “Baby Bombers” that trigger the new Yankee dynasty. But for the next few years Yankee fans can really enjoy watching the new Yankee dynasty taking shape


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

A-Rod’s statistics paint a picture of one of the greatest baseball players of all-time. The table below list some of his eye-popping career batting statistics.

A-Rod Stats
 

What about his honors? He was a 3-time MVP. He was one of only five Yankee greats--- Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra and Maris --- to win multiple MVP Awards. He was a 2-time Gold Glove SS, a 10-time Silver Slugger, a batting champion in 1996 and a 14-time All-Star. Clearly, I could go on with his yearly accomplishments but no more proof is needed to declare his greatness. He is second only to the Babe in most home runs hit in one decade (Babe 467 [1920-1929], A-Rod 435 [2000-2009]) and is the only player to hit at least 150 home runs for three different teams (NY, Sea, Tex).

My original draft of this blog written on Thursday painted an ugly picture of Yankees manager Joe Girardi, a manager who I really respect. Here are some of the pieces I wrote in that first draft. “Thursday night in Boston, Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez played his final road game of his career. For his final rode game, A-Rod was slotted in the 4th position in the batting order serving as the DH. A-Rod made it clear he wanted to start all three games against the Red Sox and start at third base in his final game at Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, his manager refused both his requests. Why did Joe Girardi refuse his requests? For some absurd reason A-Rod sat out the first two games against the Red Sox. Did Girardi sit A-Rod for the first two games because he felt these were must win games and he had better player alternatives for winning these games? I don’t think so! Remember, the Yankees already waved the white flag several days ago by getting rid of two of the top closers in baseball and their best hitter. Considering A-Rod has been a model citizen this year--- never complaining about his lack of playi­­ng time, leading the cheers from the dugout and working with younger players such as Castro and Gregorius---, A-Rod earned the right to start the final four games of his Yankee career. Would the Yankees have turned down the same request if it was made by Jeter?  

Friday has come and has gone. A-Rod played his last game for the Yankees. The game was scheduled to start at 8 PM instead of the usual 7 PM. The reason for this was the Yankees planned a small celebration for A-Rod. The night started with a storm that one might have reasoned was delivered by the baseball gods to represent A-Rod’s career. Mariano walked his two daughters out of the dugout and they were embraced by their father. The sellout crowd continually cheered and chanted A-Rod’s name. He started the game but not at third base. In his first at bat he delivered a scorching line drive to right that split the outfielders and drove in the Yankees first run. You could see the joy in has face as he stood on second base. This was his only hit in four at bats. But there was a ninth inning surprise. With the Yankees leading 6 to 3 and Betances pitching, out trotted A-Rod with his glove on his left hand. Yes, he would play third base for one out and then leave the game as the fans cheered. Arriving at the dugout he was hugged by Girardi. Yes, Joe granted his wish to play third base in his final game even though it was just for one out.

So what about A-Rod’s future? Well, the Yankees are obligated to pay him the $27.5 million he is owed along with a nominal amount in his new position as advisor and instructor for the Yankees. From my readings the bilingual A-Rod loves to work with young players and will be valuable working with such Latin players as Gleyber Torres (just acquired in a trade) and Jorge Mateo (promising minor league SS).

More on A-Rod’s future in a follow-up blog.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The book, “Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports,” written by Kostya Kennedy takes you through a day by day account of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941. Many baseball people believe this streak will never be duplicated. It should be noted that 1941 was also the last year a player ended a season with over a .400 batting average when Ted Williams batted .406. In Chapter 16 of my book, “Sandlot Stats: Learning Statistics with Baseball,” I develop a new formula which uses a player’s seasonal batting statistics to assign a probability of that player duplicating any batting streak. Then I apply my formula to calculate which players had the highest probabilities of duplicating special batting streaks. Of course, the most talked about batting streak is DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. Another interesting streak belongs to Ted Williams when in 1949 he reached base successfully in 84 straight games. Which streak was harder to achieve? My formula assigned DiMaggio a probability of .0001 (1/10,000) and assigned Williams a probability of .0935 (935/10,000) of achieving their respective streaks. This says that, using their batting statistics for 1941 and 1949, for every 10,000 seasons DiMaggio would duplicate his streak one time while Williams in 10,000 seasons would duplicate his streak 935 times. Clearly DiMaggio’s streak was the harder to achieve.  

I also apply my formula to many other batting streaks such as the most consecutive games with at least one home run, the most consecutive games with at least one extra base hit, the most consecutive games with at least two or more hits, the most consecutive games without striking out and many other streaks. If you are interested in seeing the mathematics I used to develop my formula and the players who actually own these records, please read Chapter 16---titled ‘Streaking’--- in my book.

A discussion of DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak always resurfaces whenever a player starts approaching DiMaggio’s record. The Cleveland Indians 20-year old catcher Francisco Mejia, ranked their number four prospect, playing for the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats entered August batting .344. On Aug.4, he extended his hitting to 45 games by doubling in the 9th inning after going 0-4. As of this writing his hitting streak stands at 47 games. This ranks his streak as the 7th longest in Minor League history.  

Below are the players with the longest hitting streak in both the Major and Minor Leagues. There are many observations that can be made from these two tables. DiMaggio is the only player that appears on both lists. In fact, his 61-game streak in the Minors was longer than his 56-game streak in the Majors. Yes, Joe D. was a very special player. Except for Joe the other players listed in the Minor League Table had limited Major League success. In contrast, the Major League players listed are all Hall of Fame caliber players. What conclusions can you draw from this? 

HItting Streaks - Minors
 

HItting Streaks - Majors
 


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner have finally faced reality. The 2016 Yankees are not an awful team but are simply a .500 team. After a 25-year run which began with the Core Four, the Yankees realize that the future is not now. Let us Yankee fans never forget the 25-year run which began with the Core Four and produced five World Series Championships. However, after being swept in a three-game series by the Rays, the Yankee owner and GM finally admitted they are now sellers. The list of Yankees traded before the August 1 non-waiver trading deadline included Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova. In return for these veterans they received ex-Yankee Adam Warren and 12 prospects, of which at least 6 have been evaluated by scouts as top prospects. GM Cashman has transformed the Yankee farm system from an eyesore to one of the best in baseball. Since Beltran and Chapman will become free agents and both have said they are open to resigning with the Yankees, it is possible both will be in pinstripes next year. IF they wanted to they could also bring back Ivan Nova for next year. If all that should happen Cashman would have received the 12 prospects and Adam Warren for Andrew Miller. What a heist?

The bad news for the Yankee fans is that, by giving away their best hitter Beltran along with two of the top five closers in baseball in Chapman and Miller, the Yankees have waved the white flag on the 2016 season.

On the other hand, there is much good news in what has just occurred. The 12 prospects included SS Gleyber Torres --- the top prospect of the Cubs --- and outfielder Billy Mckinney---the 24th pick in the 2013 draft ---, both received in the Chapman trade. The Miller and Beltran trade brought back outfielder Clint Frazier --- who according to Cashman has “legendary bat speed” --- and pitcher Dillon Tate, the fourth pick in the 2015 draft. Adding these prospects to the already existing Yankee prospects including Greg Bird --- who has already shown he is a big league 1B ----, Adam Judge --- a power hitting outfielder ---, Gary Sanchez --- a highly thought of catcher ---, Jorge Mateo --- their prior number one prospect ----, pitcher Luis Severino and others, the Yankees have assembled a prospect pool that not only can make the Yankees better in the future but also can be used to trade for other teams’ talent. There is still more to Cashman’s plan. Over the next two years the Yankees will be rid of many costly salaries. After the 2018 season, with Beltran’s $15 million, Teixeira’s $22.5 million, Sabathia’s $25 million, A-Rod’s $21 million and other bad contracts gone, the Yankees will have globs of money to throw at almost any great player they want. What about signing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado or Jose Fernandez, a free agent in 2019?  

Well, what about the 2017 and 2018 seasons? I believe the Yankees can remain a competitive team by combining their major league ready prospects with players like Ellsbury, Gardiner, Gregorious and Castro. They may also pick up a pitcher like Chris Sale or some other ace who becomes available. Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Luis Severino will still be there. Also, Dellin Betances should be more than just a capable closer. There will now be room for many of these young prospects to have a chance to show that they are really Major League players. It will be fun watching these young players develop and just maybe a new Core ???? will emerge.

Yes, Yankee fans, if Cashman’s plan is successful we can look forward to the beginning of a new Yankee dynasty starting in 2019. 


 


 
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