Thursday, May 01, 2008

Phoning In a Friday: The Comments

Hey gang, for about two months I've promised that I would start using Friday's entry to address many of the comments from the previous week's posts. And, of course, I haven't. Until today.

Some of you might wonder why I wouldn't just reply in the comments section. The answer is that way too often I don't check them until late at night, and by then replying seems a little silly because nobody is going to go back and check them out. Plus, this gives me an extra entry with very little required thought. Which is nice.

Before we jump in, I'll recommend to everyone that the come to the Twins game on Sunday and look for GameDay scorecard and programs, sold by the guys in the red vests. We'll be having our first "Customer Appreciation Day" of the year, which means the programs, scorecards, and Dugout Splinters will be absolutely free, instead of the usual price of $2. This will be the last time we'll give out the April issue, which was edited by Nick Nelson of Nick and Nick's blog, and features stories from Jesse Lund and Seth Stohs, so check it out if you're in the neighborhood.

On to the comments....

From What's Not Working - The Offense

ubelmann said:
That the offense is offensive is not only completely believable--it was completely predictable. We lost our most valuable position player from last year and were banking on all of our top hitters to both be productive and healthy, not to mention big steps forward from a pair of 22-year-olds. This is not the stuff that sure-fire improvement plans are made from.

You know how I said I add comments and they're way too late for anyone to read them? I think ubelmann and I were discussing this earlier in the preseason and at the end of the thread I was either tempted (or actually did?) offer to make a bet that the Twins would exceed last year's ineptitude. I would have done it in an email, but I don't think I have your email Mat.

And right now, it looks like it's a good thing I didn't. And since your comments are well documented, and given the several studies you site and the Twins existing performance, I have no choice but to .... well .... to stick my head in the sand and say I know I'm still going to be right about this dammit.

Dam said:
Remember Cuddyer who was batting clean-up before he was hurt missed over half the games. Offense will get better--Cuddyer will be healthy--Delmon will adjust to new team.

Yeah! Cuddyer! Young! How ‘bout you stick that up your PECOTA!?! We are not listening to ubelmann……we are not listening to ubelmann…

TT said:
I don't know that the current numbers have much meaning except that it is not an auspicious start. And that is hardly limited to their hitting. Only two AL teams have given up more runs per game than the Twins.

TT is right about the Twins pitching and it surprises me, so I’ve been meaning to study that too. Plus, otherwise, I need to be in denial on two fronts. And that takes a lot of effort.

From On Liriano and Important versus Measurable

Sbg said:
Just another point of reference: in the time that it takes a 93 MPH fastball to travel 60.5 feet, an 89 MPH fastball has traveled 57.9 feet, assuming no loss in velocity (which of course, there is). The slower ball is 2.6 feet behind the faster one! It seems to me that that 4.5% is very significant. But, yes, break and changing speeds, as we all know, is important, too.

I almost added that little computation to the story SBG. Great minds think alike. I didn’t because the more I thought about it, the less I cared. As a batter, swinging seem to be more about timing than distance. But that’s why I included the 4.5% thing. I’m glad someone brought it up.

SL__72 said:
And to follow up my last comment with something that is actually useful: Here is a really good article regarding fastball speeds.

You’re right SL_72, that was a really good article. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

It is written by John Walsh at the Hardball Times and he studied fastballs ranging from 80-97 mph and the affect that they have on hitters. He came up with some nifty results. I’ll quote his conclusions:

So, what did I turn up with this analysis? Well, keeping in mind the sample size and other caveats previous mentioned, I think I've learned that
1. fastballs outside don't depend much (if at all) on speed for their effectiveness;
2. conversely, inside fastballs are more effective the harder they are thrown (this one I already knew);
3. most of the observed effect appears to come from home runs: outside pitches are rarely hit for homers and when they are, a fast pitch is as likely to be hit out of the park as a soft toss;
4. a pitch thrown hard is more susceptible to the ump's bad call than a soft toss.

I could write a whole entry on this and how it relates to Liriano (though the study was limited to right-handed pitchers). And I wants me that data set badly. Thanks again for pointing it out to me SL__72.

From Stealing a Moment

jesse said...
I don't think the Twins are opposed to the idea of Gomez swiping home...or attempting to...but it just wasn't the right situation. You said it yourself--Morneau at the plate, and he swings from the left side of the plate. Not only is one of your best hitters at the plate, but with no obstruction the catcher could see the entire thing develop in his peripheral vision.

Anonymous said...
It is possible to steal home with a left handed batter. Ideally it would happen with a guy like Ortiz at the plate since the infield shift is on and the third baseman is a long way from the bag, allowing a longer lead.

I wouldn’t be shocked if the White Sox had a small shift on Morneau, because I got to tell you, I was absolutely stunned how far Crede was playing from the third base bag in that at-bat. It was almost as if the White Sox were daring Gomez to try it.

Hell, I would've even supported Morneau to trying a bunt down the third base line. I’m almost sure he could have beat out a throw.

As for whether it matters that Morneaus is left-handed, I don't rightly know. I can't remember ever reading something that broke down the strategies for stealing home. And it's not like there's much opportunity to talk about it anymore. Anyone have a good link for this? SL__72, what's going on? Asleep at the wheel? You used to provide such good links. What have you done for us lately?

BeefMaster said...
I wasn't watching the game, and I didn't notice on the radio - was the pitcher in the stretch? I guess I can see stealing home on a lefty in the stretch, if he's paying little enough attention to the runner that you can get a phenomenal jump (and he doesn't use a slide step every time), but I generally think of a steal of home as coming when the pitcher is throwing out of the windup. Is it more common against a stretch than I'm thinking? I've only seen a steal of home happen once in a major league game, and it was on a first-and-third double steal (Gladden at third, and Jim Dwyer, of all people, at first).

I only included this comment because I love the nickname BeefMaster. I used to know a guy nicknamed Beef in college. If I remember correctly, we met him at a party in Eau Claire where my buddy Matt and I knew just three other people, one of whom was Beef’s girlfriend. Matt and I decided we would meet people by doing vodka shots with strangers, and we talked Beef into joining us, but his girlfriend was having none of it.

But of course, he did. About every 15 minutes he’s sneak away from her, meet us in the kitchen with the rest of the party, and toss back a small shot of something clear and cold and awful. Probably Smirnoff.

And the point is that I think you can trust guys named some derivative of Beef. Even if he tells you he’s seen someone steal home. And with that, I wish you all a happy weekend.


TT said...

t is not an auspicious start. And that is hardly limited to their hitting.

OK. I wrote that. And, just to prove I really am a contrarian, there is one area where the Twins start is not inauspicious - they are in second place 1.5 games out of first. I suppose that proves neither hitting or defense matter much. Or maybe not.

Jake said...

I would really like to encourage this format. Good read and if it makes the geeks life a little easier so much the better as long as we GET MORE POSTS!!

BeefMaster said...

Ha! You really can trust me, though - I even managed to find the box score for that game on RetroSheet. I didn't know until I looked it up just now that it was Dwyer's last game with the Twins before being traded to the Expos.

Witnessing a steal of home is one of those things that I appreciate now a lot more than I did then - the 9-year-old me didn't realize just how rare it was. It was extra-special considering that we lived in South Dakota and went to just one Twins game a year.

As for the screen name, it's a tip of the hat to my family's cattle ranching roots as well as meeting my standards for silliness.

Anonymous said...

So...was the pitcher in the stretch or not?

Because part of the equation for stealing home is the pitcher is using a full windup, giving the runner enough time to make it a close play at the plate.