Thursday, November 30, 2006

K Kings: Kill and Be Killed

There have been 13 pitchers to record at least 3,000 strikeouts since 1957. Here, then, is the baker's dozen, along with the players they rang up the most, and the ones they faced the most without a single K.

Nolan Ryan - 5714 K
Favorite Victim: Claudell Washington (39 K in 102 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Julian Javier (0 K in 18 PA)

Roger Clemens - 4604 K
Favorite Victim: Chili Davis (30 K in 922 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Brian Harper (0 K in 23 PA)

Randy Johnson - 4544 K
Favorite Victim: Rickey Henderson (30 K in 85 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Orlando Cabrera (0 K in 35 PA)

Steve Carlton - 4136 K
Favorite Victim: Dave Kingman (36 K in 112 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Tommy Helms (0 K in 65 PA)

Bert Blyleven - 3701 K
Favorite Victim: Reggie Jackson (49 K in 140 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Scott Bradley (0 K in 30 PA)

Tom Seaver - 3640 K
Favorite Victim: Tony Perez (41 K in 117 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Craig Reynolds (0 K in 35 PA)

Don Sutton - 3574 K
Favorite Victim: Willie McCovey (38 K in 146 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Rudy Law (0 K in 30 PA)

Gaylord Perry - 3534 K
Favorite Victim: Lee May (32 K in 109 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Bill Buckner (0 K in 46 PA)

Phil Niekro - 3342 K
Favorite Victim: Tony Perez (36 K in 174 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Cookie Rojas (0 K in 29 PA)

Ferguson Jenkins - 3192 K
Favorite Victim: Deron Johnson (34 K in 113 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Johnny Ray (0 K in 29 PA)

Greg Maddux - 3169 K
Favorite Victim: Ray Lankford (31 K in 108 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Tony Gwynn (0 K in 103 PA)

Bob Gibson - 3117 K
Favorite Victim: Willie Stargell (41 K in 152 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Darrell Evans (0 K in 35 PA)

Curt Schilling - 3015 K
Favorite Victim: Andres Galarraga (22 K in 54 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Orlando Merced (0 K in 23 PA)

And because he's right there...

Pedro Martinez - 2998 K
Favorite Victim: Jorge Posada (33 K in 69 PA)
The One Who Got Away: Tony Gwynn (0 K in 36 PA)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bad Days

6/27/86: Robby Thompson was caught stealing four times.

9/9/98: Alex Gonzalez goes 0-for-6 with 6 strikeouts.

Luis Aparicio had 129 games in which he went hitless in at least 5 AB.

John Shelby, Wayne Garrett, Danny Thompson, Ron Swoboda and Tommie Agee all had an 0-for-10(!) game.

16 players have had a 5-hit game without scoring or driving in a run.

9/20/00: Not bad, but Ben Petrick goes 0-for-3 with 4 RBI (two RBI groundouts, a sac fly and a bases-loaded walk).

Craig Biggio has 20 multi-HBP games.

Jim Rice had 30 multi-GIDP games.

8/13/06: Luke Hudson pitches 0.1 innings and gives up 11 runs.

Mike Torrez and Rudy May each gave up at least 5 runs and lasted less than 1 inning 9 times (nine times).

Bert Blyleven threw 9 complete games in which he lost 1-0.

Tom Seaver had 4 games in which he threw at least 10 shutout innings and didn't win.

Jaime Navarro had 3 games with negative game scores.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


I'm beta testing the new P.I. feature at So far I gotta tell you it's really cool. For instance, Mariano Rivera has recorded 199 outs on comebackers in his career. That includes four in one game on 5/15/04 against Seattle, as well as Jay Gibbons on three consecutive days (8/14/03-8/16/03). And Rivera has 135 game-ending strikeouts.

Still testing this stuff out, but there's sure to be more wicked awesome stuff to follow.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

How to waste 136 million dollars

Today brings us the first major free agent to change teams this offseason. Alfonso Soriano is heading to Wrigley Field for an 8-year, $136 million contract. You might remember two years ago, the Mets signed Carlos Beltran for seven years and $119 million. Same dollars per year, yet Soriano gets the longer deal despite being three years older than Beltran was. Compare them by age:

Beltran: .273/.346/.501
Soriano: .268/.304/.432

This was Soriano's first full season. As for Beltran, this was his third season of 100+ RBI, 100+ runs, 20+ home runs and 25+ stolen bases. Clearly Beltran has thel onger track record of success.

Beltran: .307/.389/.522
Soriano: .300/.332/.547

Pretty similar, though Beltran's 57-point OBP advantage trumps Soriano's 25-point SLG advantage.

Beltran: .267/.367/.548
Soriano: .290/.338/.525

Soriano got the singles, but Beltran had the far superior power, patience and speed.

Beltran: .266/.330/.414
Soriano: .280/.324/.484

Beltran's first season in Shea Stadium and Soriano's first year in Texas. The only time Soriano was better at the plate.

Beltran: .275/.388/.594
Soriano: .268/.309/.512

Simply no comparison. Beltran is the far superior player.

What those numbers don't say is that Beltran has more career stolen bases (227 to 210) and a much better success rate (88% to 78%). Most importantly, Beltran is an excellent defensive centerfielder while Soriano is a below-average leftfielder. I think it's fair to say Beltran's glove is worth an extra twenty runs over Soriano.

Do some quick math. Beltran is around 50 runs above a replacement centerfielder. He's one of the best fielders in the league; let's say he's 10 runs above average. That might actually be consevative. So Beltran is worth 60 runs a year, which is worth perhaps $15 million. Pretty close to his actual contract. Considering the Mets are a playoff team and play in a huge market, he's worth even more than that.

Now Soriano's bat is probably worth 30 to 40 runs over a replacement leftfielder. His fielding is anywhere from average to maybe 10 runs below average. So best case scenario, Soriano is worth 40 runs; worst case, he's worth 20 runs. That makes him worth $5-10 million. Even giving him the benefit of the doubt, he's still nowhere near a $17 million ballplayer.

To make things worse, Soriano turns 31 in January. He'll be 39 when the deal ends. This deal has the potential to be one of the worst in the history of free agency.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Don't run on Whitey

I thought this was really cool: Baseball-Reference has added game logs and splits dating back to 1957. Awesomeness. So what sort of fun stuff do we find?

From 1957 to 1967, Whitey Ford pitched 2161.1 innings. He allowed 20 stolen bases. Twenty. In eleven seasons. Versus 32 caught stealings. And 32 pickoffs. That's nuts. He had four separate seasons ('58, '59, '61 & '64) of at least 200 IP and no stolen bases.

How insane is that? Nolan Ryan allowed at least 20 stolen bases every single season from 1971 to 1992.

As a percentage of runners on first base, 2.5% of baserunners attempted to steal off Ford. Compare that to 17.4% versus Ryan. Runners simply didn't challenge Ford.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Wins v. ERA

With the World Series over and free agency still a few days away, there's not much going on in the baseball world. I figured I'd take this time to quickly go over the uselessness of wins for pitchers.

Proponents of wins insist that some pitchers "know how to win" and their records supersede their ERAs. Opponents, on the other hand, say that pitchers can't control their run support. Now it occurs to me that this is very easy to check.

Consider: two pitchers, one with 13 wins and a 3.50 ERA and the other with 18 wins and a 4.50 ERA. Who would you rather have next year?

Let's find out. I decided to take the top 20 pitchers in MLB in 2005 in wins and ERA, and see what they did in 2006. Due to ties, we end up with the top 23 in wins and top 24 in ERA. Here are the average results for each group:

Wins leaders: 17-9, 217 IP, 3.57 ERA, .645 Win%
ERA leaders: 15-9, 212 IP, 3.10 ERA, .629 Win%

Both groups were obviously very good, in large part because ten pitchers appear on both lists (Willis, Colon, Carpenter, Oswalt, Garland, Pettitte, Santana, Buehrle, Beckett, Martinez). So let's remove them:

Wins leaders: 16-10, 211 IP, 4.04 ERA, .617 Win%
ERA leaders: 12-9, 203 IP, 3.18 ERA, .581 Win%

That's more like it. Nearly a full run difference in ERA one way and a four-win difference in their records the other way. Present those two pitching lines to baseball fans and you'll find quite a divide in their responses.

Fast forward one year. This is what our two groups did in 2006:

Wins leaders: 11-11, 177 IP, 4.59 ERA, .509 Win%
ERA leaders: 12-10, 182 IP, 4.18 ERA, .554 Win%

How do you like that? Not only did the ERA group continue to post a better ERA the following year, it also had more wins, fewer losses and more innings. And that's despite Roger Clemens sitting out the first half of the season.

Bottom line: this year's ERA is actually a better predictor of next year's W-L record than this year's W-L record is. Which means judging a pitcher by his win total is silly.