If you have any ideas for topics, please email me. Thanks,Stan!
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Monday, May 15, 2017 marks the 76th anniversary of the beginning of Joe DiMaggio’s record 56-game hitting streak, which ran from May 15 to July 16, 1941. The streak ended On July 17 when he went 0-for-3 against the Indians, with third baseman Ken Keltner making two outstanding plays to stop the streak.

In Chapter 16 of my book, “Sandlot Stats: Learning Statistics with Baseball,” I developed 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 applied my formula to many other batting streaks such as the most consecutive games with at least one home run, 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.

Below are the players with the longest hitting streaks in both the Major and Minor Leagues. Observe that Joe is the only player that appears on both lists.

Hitting Streaks

In a recent article Sara Lang looked at the streak by the numbers:

.408: DiMaggio hit .408 (91-for-223) during the streak with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs.

.375: He entered May 15 (the first game of the streak) with a .306 batting average. That rose to .375 after the July 16 game, the final game of the streak.

4: DiMaggio faced four future Hall of Fame pitchers: Lefty Grove, Hal Newhouser, Bob Feller and Ted Lyons.

10: DiMaggio extended the streak in his final plate appearance 10 times, as Elias research notes.

16:DiMaggio started a 16-game hitting streak the game after the 56-game one ended. So he hit in 72 of 73 games total. In those 73 games, he had 120 hits, 20 home runs and six strikeouts.

44: The longest hitting streak since DiMaggio’s is a 44-gamer by Pete Rose in 1978.

29: The longest hitting streak by a Yankees player since DiMaggio’s streak ended is a 29-gamer by Hall of Famer Joe Gordon in 1942. Derek Jeter’s longest hitting streak was 25 games in 2006. Don Mattingly’s longest was 24 in 1986. Those are the three longest for the Yankees since DiMaggio.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The book “Moneyball” chronicles how Billy Beane used certain batting statistics to build the low budget Oakland Athletics into a contender in the early 2000s. With the help of Paul Depodesta he showed that on-base percentage (OBP) was much more valuable for run production than batting average. Concentrating on a player’s OBP and ability to create runs, he was able to sign players with WARTS for less money. Two examples of such players were David Justice and Scott Hatteberg. Justice was an aging player who lost his power but still retained his high OBP average and Hatteberg was a catcher with a bad arm who had the ability to create runs.

In today’s game of baseball, the big budget teams are signing starting pitchers based on the fact that they can throw the ball close to 100 mph. They want strikeout pitchers. Unfortunately, strikeout pitchers use up their 100-pitch limit by the fifth or sixth inning. This leads a team to bring into the game their middle inning relievers which happen to be their weakest pitchers. A manager hopes these middle relievers will get his team to their setup and closer for innings eight and nine. The flaw with this thinking is so much of the success of a team becomes dependent on their weakest pitchers. Another problem with power pitchers is they seem to wind up either in a line for Tommy John Surgery or on the DL for an extended period of time. Just look at the New York Mets. For 2016 and 2017, the Mets lost, for extended periods, Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Stephen Matz, and most recently Noah Syndergaard.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, under the direction of their pitching coach Ray Searage, have developed a Moneyball strategy for pitching for his low budget Pittsburgh Pirates. With the encouragement and support of Pirates management, Searage’s philosophy of pitching is described by the phrase “three pitches or less.” From the time a pitcher joins the Pirate’s organization at any level they are indoctrinated into this phrase. “Through the minor leagues all the way up to the parent club, this is what we preach,” Searage said, “We are aggressive. We will attack you. We want you to swing, and we will make adjustments accordingly. These are our values.”

The success of Searage’s philosophy is measured through the following sabermetric statistics applied to pitchers. In averaging 3.75 pitches per batter faced since the start of Searage’s tenure in 2011 (the fewest in the majors), the Pirates lead the majors in inducing a grounder 49% of the time and causing soft-contact on 20% of their balls in play. This explains why since 2011 the Pirates ranked 6th in ERA despite ranking 22nd in strikeout rate.

Following the example of Billy Beane, Searage sought underachieving pitchers with Warts he believed could be transformed into following his philosophy of pitching to contact. Three such pitchers are Ivan Nova, Edison Volquez, and A.J. Burnett. All three of these pitchers lowered their pitches per batter under the tutorage of Searage. After having an ERA of 4.41 in seven seasons for the Yankees, Nova lowered his ERA to 3.41 since arriving in Pittsburgh in 2016. Volquez, after putting up a 4.75 ERA with four other teams posted a 3.04 ERA for his one year with Searage in 2014. A.J. Burnett came to Pittsburgh in 2012 at age 35 with an ERA of 5.20 for his past two years with the Yankees; he lowered it to 3.41 over the next two years with the Pirates.

In spite of ranking near the bottom in many offensive categories for the years 2013-2016, the Pirates finished second in their division for the years 2013-2015 and finished third in 2016. The Pirates made the playoffs as a Wild Card team for the 2013-2015 seasons. Winning their division in 2017 against the Cubs clearly won’t happen. However, one thing that probably will not change pitching will not be the problem.  


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Read what my student Greg considers the biggest surprise in the MLB for 2017 is so far. 

Every year there are storylines between teams and players, and surprises that come out of the league. The biggest surprise so far in 2017 has been one in the name of Eric Thames. Thames is a 30-year-old left-handed hitter who is currently doing wonders for the Milwaukee Brewers. Thames burst onto the MLB scene in 2011 with the Toronto Blue Jays and was an average hitter at best. Thames played the following year with the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners. His average over this time was a dismal .250 and his OBP was only .296. The following year Thames was not given another shot at the MLB. In 2013 Thames spent time between AAA and Rookie ball, which is not where you want to end up. Things were looking down for Thames and it seemed as if his MLB career would be over. What happened next would surprise almost everyone. Thames headed to the KBO (Korean Baseball League) to try to revive his playing career. The KBO is not a very well-known league, a step down from the well-known NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan), so the hitter’s success there is taken with an asterisk next to it.

What Thames did was unbelievable. He turned himself into one of the most feared hitters in the KBO and became a world-class slugger. Over the next three years, from 2014-16, he went on to have gaudy numbers of a .349 BA, .451 OBP, and a .721 SLG. In 3 years he accumulated 124 Home Runs and 382 RBIs, averaging 41.3 Home Runs a year and 127 RBIs. After these unbelievable numbers an MLB team would have to give him at least a tryout, correct?

That is exactly what happened. On November 29, 2016 Eric Thames would get his shot again at the MLB when the Milwaukee Brewers signed him to a 3 year $16 million dollar guaranteed contract. For a player who had only played in a lower level international league over the past three years, this was a big gamble for the Brewers. The Brewers were very intrigued to see how this would work out.

Fast forwarding to the start of the 2017 season Thames arrives at Spring Training hoping to make the Brewers big league club. People were skeptical of Thames numbers because of the KBO being a low level league, but the Brewers gave him a shot regardless. During the spring Thames hit a respectable .263 with only 1 Home Run. He attributed a very solid .368 OBP over 57 At Bats. This was good for the Brewers and it looked like their gamble signing might work.  

Through the first 7 games of the MLB season Thames was struggling power wise, hitting only one Home Run, but still had a respectable .318 BA. Since then, Thames is absolutely demolishing MLB pitching hitting .348 with 10 Home Runs and 17 RBIs. Thames has become a hitting machine that cannot be stopped. In games versus the Cincinnati Reds, Thames hit an astounding 8 Home Runs.

Now, when any player comes out of the blue and starts hitting unbelievably, the thought of “Is he taking steroids?” becomes a question. The Chicago Cubs “jokingly” suggested that maybe he is on steroids and then the entire thing got blown up. Thames was quick to shut it down saying that in Korea the drug policy is run by the IOC, which is even more strict than the MLB. Thames has been drug tested numerous times since the start of the season, and has come up clean every time.

In Conclusion, it is truly great to see a hitter who was down and out, who thought their playing career might be coming to a close, getting a shot with a big league club and proving his worth. The story of Eric Thames right now is for every kid who just got cut by his travel team. Or every kid sent down to a lower step of the minors then they thought they should have. With hard work and determination, anyone can make it back. Eric Thames is proving that right now, and he is living the dream.
- by Greg Kassar


 
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.


 


 
Google

User Profile
Dr. Stan, th...
stan@sandlot...
Male
Quinnipiac U...

 
Links
 
Archives
 

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

 
Visitors

You have 1095842 hits.