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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

This man is 6-ft-7 in tall weighing 282 pounds and plays professionally for a NY team. Is he a power forward for the NY Knicks? Is he a tight end for the NY Giants? The answer is no to each of these questions. He is the starting right fielder for the NY Yankees and his name is Aaron Judge.

Reading a column written by Marchand, I discovered some really fascinating superstitions of Judge that I never noticed before. Moments before seeing his 1st pitch in a game Judge pops 2 pieces of Double Bubble sugar-free bubblegum in his mouth. Until he makes an out, he'll continue to chew it. If he picks up a hit in his first at-bat, it stays in. Another hit, and he keeps chewing. In fact, as long as his future at bats do not yield result in an out the gum stays in his mouth. So if he was to have 4 consecutive hits or walks in a 4-hour game he would still be chewing tasteless dried out pieces of gum. When he makes an out he will get rid of the old gum and replace it with 2 pieces of new gum. You could say each out sets him up for a fresh beginning. Judge started this superstition in college and has no plans on changing it.

Another unique judgeism is, after the 3rd out of an inning, he waits in front of the Yankee dugout for his fellow outfielders. There he offers words of encouragement and high-fives as they enter the dugout. Judge says. "If someone makes a good play or someone does something on defense, I want to be there and say, 'Hey man, nice play' or 'Good job.' If there is miscommunication in the outfield, it gives me a chance to grab them real quick and say something."

Could the Yankees have picked a better last name for PR purposes than the word judge. In fact, the Yankees have created the new Judge’s Chambers which accommodates 18 fans picked at random from other seats. The fans get to borrow a black judge's robe and keep a foam gavel that reads, "All rise!"  Judge, 25, has already been compared to Derek Jeter by his manager Joe Girardi. Girardi said," Back in Jeter's day, when the Yankees scored or got a big hit, Jeter was always the first out of the dugout to congratulate his teammates. It was a trademark No. 2 move.” Girardi continued, “That’s who he was; Derek was all about winning. I feel the same about Judge. It is very genuine. He is all about the team. His encouragement of players, helping guys, being upbeat all the time -- it is really kind of cool to witness." Girardi thinks Judge is a leader in his own way despite being a rookie -- something that might irk veterans if Judge weren't so respectful and earnest. His teammates notice that Judge is not trying to stick out, but rather help out.” He is a positive influence on his teammates," left fielder Brett Gardiner says. "He always has a positive attitude. He says different things to you every time [when he waits to go into the dugout] and different things to each person, like,  'Let’s go get some more runs.' 'Nice play." .

Judge credits his parents, who adopted him as a baby, for giving him his first lessons on putting team above self. He says he's been blessed with coaches who have done the same. Judge is accommodating in talking to the media, but he almost blushes when speaking about himself. The top-step move could be seen as grandstanding, if Judge didn’t act the right way. "It’s genuine," third baseman Chase Headley says. "He is not doing it to have somebody write about it or see it."

Offensively and defensively Judge backs up his leadership role. He is second in WAR, tied for first in HR, and 6th in OPS. Defensively being so tall and having a long-arm reach has enabled him to make catches in the outfield that would be impossible for others to make. Add to this a strong throwing arm and the Yankees have a 5-tool future superstar like Mike Trout.


 
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

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 table below shows for each of the AL teams their actual 2016 winning percentages (W-L%) along with their expected winning percentages (Lin W-L%), calculated using my linear formula Lin W-L% =.000579*(RS – RA) +.50, RS is runs scored and RA is runs allowed.

2017ALPredictions
 

My choice to win the AL East is the Boston Red Sox. Yes, the Red Sox lost David Ortiz and his 38-home run 2016 season. But, kudos to the Red Sox management for acquiring Chris Sale. Sale will join defending American League Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello and David Price (if healthy) to give Boston a front-of-the-rotation combination that potentially could be the best in the Major Leagues. Sale hasn't won his own Cy Young Award, but he has finished in the top six in AL balloting each of the past five years. Two other notable moves included the signing of free-agent first baseman Mitch Moreland to upgrade the infield defense and trading for Tyler Thornburg, who will serve as a setup man for Craig Kimbrel. Offensively, no one expects Moreland to replace Ortiz. However, Moreland taking over first base will allow the Red Sox to shift Hanley Ramirez into the DH role and that improved overall defense does help close the value gap between Moreland and Ortiz. Sorting out the No. 4 and 5 starter spots between Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez is a problem every team would love to have. I believe the Red Sox are the most improved team in the AL and will improve on their 2016 AL best Lin W-L% of 0.606 increasing their win total to over 95 wins.

My choice for the AL Central is the Cleveland Indians. The starting pitching should be improved over last year with the return of Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar to full-time duty fortifying a rotation fronted by Corey Kluber. Adding Andrew Miller as their closer to go along with Cody Allen will improve an already excellent bullpen. The signing of Edwin Encarnacion, Austin Jackson, and Chris Colabello will create more runs for the offense. With strong starters and an improved bullpen and offense, the Indians should increase their Lin W-L% to about 0.585 which would put their win total at 95 and make them a runaway winner of the Central Division.

In my opinion the AL East and AL Central have clear cut winners in the Red Sox and Indians. However, the AL West is not so clear cut. In 2016, The Texas Rangers won the division with a W-L% of 0.586. However, their Lin W-L% was only 0.505. The reason for this discrepancy is they won 36 of 47 1-run games. This will not happen again in 2017. So, I have eliminated Texas as a winner. This leaves me with the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros as my two choices. Both these teams have made notable additions. For Seattle, Jean Segura and Jarrod Dyson will give them a great one-two punch at the top of the lineup setting the table for a trio of 30-homer sluggers Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager. For Houston, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Josh Reddick will join an offense that already featured Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer, giving Houston an offense that potentially stacks up to any in baseball. Seattle should improve their Lin W-L% to about 0.550 and Houston should improve their Lin W-L% from 0.515 to 0.535. Whichever pitching staff does better will determine the winner. My choice is Seattle based on my belief that King Felix Hernandez, who turns 31 in April, after a shaky 2016 will return to his throne in 2017.

To summarize, my 3 divisional winners are Boston, Cleveland and Seattle and my two Wild Card teams are Houston and Toronto. Finally, the team that will represent the AL in the 2017 WS is the Boston Red Sox. 


 
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. 


 

 

 
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