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Felipe Alou really did bring in a ton of lefty relievers

Posted by Andy
Earlier today a reader mentioned Mike Krukow's comment referring to Felipe Alou's common use of left-handed relievers.

I decided to check into the veracity of this claim...

Trivia time #5: Who are these 7 players?

Posted by Andy

Quite an unusual group, huh?

David DeJesus comps

Posted by Andy
Now that David DeJesus has signed with the Cubs, I thought I'd take a quick look at some comps for him.

False WPA values for 3 games in 2011

Posted by Anonymous
FYI -- While doing some research on Saves and Win Probability Added, I noticed that the WPA values on Baseball-Reference.com are incorrect for 3 games from the 2011 season.

My Funky Valentine: oddities from the playing career of Bobby Valentine

Posted by Andy
As Bobby Valentine prepares to take the reins of the Boston Red Sox, here's a look back at some of the unusual things from his days as a player.

Trends in Saves: Length and Distribution

Posted by Anonymous
In 2011, the average Save lasted 1.006 IP, an all-time low. This figure has been falling since the mid-1980s:

Really high K/BB ratios (or "The Miguel Olivo Club")

Posted by Andy
Here are non-pitchers who in a single season struck out at least 9 times more than they walked (minimum 5 walks):

Highest Ratio of On-Base to Batting Average

Posted by Anonymous
In a recent thread, reader mcearlgrey asked about the greatest discrepancies between on-base percentage and batting average. Here are the highest ratios of OBP to BA since 1893:

Trivia Time #4: Who are these 32 pitchers?

Posted by Andy

This result is found with a simple Baseball-Reference Play Index search....but what were the search parameters?

Miami Marlins new "downtown" stadium

Posted by Andy
For most folks, I would imagine, their first glimpse of the Marlins' new stadium is quite underwhelming. Certainly that was my experience this weekend in Miami. The stadium is seen here viewed from I-95. It's not actually all that near the downtown (though a lot closer than where the Marlins used to play) and it's not in a great area. Hopefully the stadium itself will be the catalyst to change this. I'm very curious to see how this plays out--hopefully it won't be a $1 billion disaster.

2011: No Pitchers with 10 Starts and 10 Games Finished - Hasn't Happened Since 1904

Posted by Raphy
Every season there are  pitchers who pull double duty;  they makes some starts, but also pitch in  relief . Sometimes this includes rehabbing starters. Other times it includes relievers who need to make emergency starts. Often its the team's extra starter, who relieves when his starting abilities are not needed. Every season this leads to an interesting combo, pitchers who start 10 games and also finish 10 in relief. Almost every season until now.

2011 was the first season since 1904, in which no pitcher both started 10 games and finished 10 in relief.   The complete list since 1901 can be found in this link. Here are the most recent years.

2011: The year of the 24-year-old center fielder

Posted by Andy
Baseball history is filled with great young center fielders. For some reason, they seem to capture the excitement of the fans more than any other position players. Think of a great young center fielder from baseball's past--chances are good that you thought of Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Kirby Puckett, or Ken Griffey Jr.

This past season, two more young center fielders put up great seasons.

Trivia time #3: Who are these 25 starting pitchers?

Posted by Andy
These are the only 25 starting pitchers since 1919 to do what?

This, I think, is a very tough question.

Pitchers Who Need to Say Thanks

Posted by Raphy
One of the most basic criticism of ERA as a tool for measuring pitchers is the way it handles runners left on base when the pitcher leaves the game.  Two pitchers can throw identical games and walk away with extremely disparate statistics because of how their bullpens fared after their departure. It seems unfair to penalize a pitcher for runs allowed that were only partly his fault.

One way of examining this  disparity is by looking at the number of runs given to a pitcher after he has left the game and adjusting it to show how many runs he should have given up. The Baseball-Reference.com Starting Pitching Page has a record for each starter's bequeathed runners as well as how many of those runners scored. Overall in 2011, starters left the game with 3186 runners on base and 1046 of those ended up scoring. In other words, on average, 33% of the runners left on base when a starter left a game ended up scoring.

All-time turkeys (The worst individual seasons in baseball history)

Posted by Andy
Whether or not you're celebrating Thanksgiving today, here's a little turkey for you--some of the worst performances in baseball history.

High Heat Stats news

Posted by Andy
First, a hearty welcome to all our new readers in the last couple of days.

A few small news items:

The most valuable season in baseball history: Tim Raines in 1979

Posted by Andy
Tim Raines had the most valuable season in baseball history in 1979, his first in the majors, despite appearing in just 6 games. How is this possible?

Kenley Jansen's MLB-record strikeout rate

Posted by Andy
Once again, strikeouts hit an all-time high in MLB in 2011. Check out the highest K per 9 innings numbers this past year (minimum 40 innings pitched):

Carl Yastrzemski's batting approach

Posted by Andy
I just saw some footage of Carl Yastrzemski batting, and boy he really choked down on the bat, huh? Some of you older folks who saw him play must know, but the three things I noticed were:

A) He held the bat way, way down low, with his lower hand well past the knob.
B) The bat looked incredibly long, although the length may have been accentuated by how low he held it
C) His swing seemed remarkably unlevel for such a successful hitter.

Click through for some baseball card images I grabbed confirming how low he held the bat.

Ryan Braun wins the NL MVP

Posted by Andy
Ryan Braun has won the NL MVP in a landslide over Matt Kemp.

I'm a bit shocked based on just how valuable Kemp was in Wins Above Replacement:

WAR Position Players
1. Kemp (LAD) 10.0
2. Braun (MIL) 7.7
3. Votto (CIN) 6.5
4. Sandoval (SFG) 6.1
5. Tulowitzki (COL) 5.8
        Reyes (NYM) 5.8
7. Stanton (FLA) 5.7
8. McCutchen (PIT) 5.5
9. Pujols (STL) 5.4
10. Fielder (MIL) 5.2
        Berkman (STL) 5.2
        Pence (2TM) 5.2

Clearly the voters took team performance into account, for better or worse.

Home Runs:One at a Time- Now Complete

Posted by Raphy

A while back, over at the old blog, I took a look at the players who hit the most home runs without hitting more than one in a game. The last two and a half years have seen considerable advances in the PI, and  the expanded PI database, the ability to run PI streak finder results through the batting season finder, and the home run logs, now allow us to create complete leader boards for this topic. If you are interested in recreating the results, the basic methodology is explained in post referenced above.

Here are the all time career leaders  in HRs without a multi-HR game.

Supreme Splits Part 2: Player Age

Posted by Andy
Check out the 2011 batting splits by player age:

Ages 25- 14218 1177 44137 39638 10004 1979 285 1029 4487 880 322 3395 8886 .252 .315 .395 .710 .299
Ages 26-30 27251 2151 82534 73644 19088 3851 429 2119 8992 1711 638 6881 15258 .259 .326 .409 .736 .299
Ages 31-35 15219 1241 47523 42514 10663 2103 149 1178 5164 547 243 3893 8599 .251 .317 .390 .708 .287
Ages 36+ 3692 287 11024 9909 2512 466 35 226 1163 141 58 849 1745 .254 .314 .376 .690 .285
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/21/2011.

Tons of interesting stuff here...

Did Jered Weaver have a better season than Justin Verlander?

Posted by Andy
Justin Verlander won the AL Cy Young and MVP awards, but one could argue that Jered Weaver had a better year. Now, don't get me wrong--if I had an MVP vote or Cy Young vote, both would have gone to Verlander. What follows is a sort of devil's advocate argument in favor of Weaver.

Bloops: What Halman's Death Signifies to European Youth

Posted by Raphy
Bojan Koprivica has an interesting take over at the Hardball Times.

Pitchers winning the MVP (Congrats Justin Verlander!)

Posted by Andy
Justin Verlander has won the AL MVP for 2011, and rightfully so. He and Jose Bautista were a toss-up for the league lead in WAR (both at 8.5 and well ahead of 3rd-place Jacoby Ellsbury at 7.2).

Just as a refresher, here's quick look at the pitchers to win the league MVP award:

2011 AL Justin Verlander
1992 AL Dennis Eckersley
1986 AL Roger Clemens
1984 AL Willie Hernandez
1981 AL Rollie Fingers
1971 AL Vida Blue
1968 NL Bob Gibson
1968 AL Denny McLain
1963 NL Sandy Koufax
1956 NL Don Newcombe
1952 AL Bobby Shantz
1950 NL Jim Konstanty
1945 AL Hal Newhouser
1944 AL Hal Newhouser
1943 AL Spud Chandler
1942 NL Mort Cooper
1939 NL Bucky Walters
1936 NL Carl Hubbell
1934 NL Dizzy Dean
1933 NL Carl Hubbell
1931 AL Lefty Grove
1924 NL Dazzy Vance
1924 AL Walter Johnson
1913 AL Walter Johnson

The Hall of Fame vote: Getting it done by committee

Posted by Andy
I'm pleased to post this guest article by Graham Womack of Baseball: Past and Present.

As of this writing, there are 295 people enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with that number sure to grow in the next couple of months with voting season once again upon us. Of the honorees in Cooperstown, 109 were inducted by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Two others, Lou Gehrig and Roberto Clemente got into the Hall of Fame through special elections. Everyone else was put in Cooperstown through some kind of committee.

Dating back to the first vote for the Hall of Fame in 1936, committees have wielded enormous influence in selections, from a Centennial Committee in 1937 that got legendary A's manager Connie Mack his plaque to a special meeting of the Negro League Committee that enshrined 17 black baseball greats in 2006. And that says nothing of all the men inducted over the years by the Veterans Committee, by far the most active of the groups save for the writers since its founding in 1953. All this being said, a few more commitees might be in order.

Greg Halman 1987-2011

Posted by Andy
Mariners outfielder Greg Halman was murdered in his home country of the Netherlands.

According to the story, his own brother is a suspect in the case and has been arrested.

This is such a terrible thing for the family--the only thing worse I can imagine than losing a family member is when another family member is the suspected criminal.

Halman was one of just 9 players to appear in MLB born in the Netherlands:

Rk Yrs From To ASG G Birthplace Pos
1 Bert Blyleven HOF 22 1970 1992 2 699 Zeist *1
2 Robert Eenhoorn 4 1994 1997 0 37 Rotterdam /465
3 Rikkert Faneyte 4 1993 1996 0 80 Amsterdam 8/97
4 Greg Halman 2 2010 2011 0 44 Haarlem 7/89
5 John Houseman 2 1894 1897 0 84 4O/65
6 Joe Otten 1 1895 1895 0 26 /2O
7 Win Remmerswaal 2 1979 1980 0 22 The Hague /1
8 Rick VandenHurk 5 2007 2011 0 42 Eindhoven 1
9 Rynie Wolters 3 1871 1873 0 49 Schantz 1/O5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/21/2011.

It appears he is the first major-league player to die in the Netherlands, as Baseball-Reference.com doesn't show any players who died there. That makes sense looking at the above list, since most of those players are still alive and those who played in the 1800s likely immigrated to the United States and ultimately died here.

Halman was one of 69 players to appear in at least 2 games at each of the 3 outfield positions in 2011.

He had several big hits for the Mariners in 2011 and his best game came on June 5th when his 2-out 2-run triple broke a 7th inning tie and helped the Mariners beat the Rays 9-6.

Supreme Splits Part 1: Home and Road

Posted by Andy
Long before the introduction of all the advanced metrics available on Baseball-Reference.com, Sean posted all sorts of splits, and I fell in love with them immediately. I think there is no better basic analysis that reveals so much beyond basic stat lines.

I'm working up a few posts showing just how cool splits can be, even with just a cursory examination.

Starting off, here's a look at home/road splits.

2011 Relief Odds and Ends

Posted by Raphy
It is difficult to evaluate relievers with isolated classic statistics, but even so it is interesting to note that several relievers made all-time top ten lists in 2011. Obviously the modern usage on bullpens and the situations faced by the pitchers effect the meaning of these numbers, but I'll leave it up to you do decide the value of these stats, if any.

Trivia time #2: Who are these 14 pitchers?

Posted by Andy
OK this one comes from reader Dvd Avins...who are these 14 pitchers?

Wilson Alvarez
Andy Benes
Wally Bunker
Roger Craig
Dick Donovan
Mudcat Grant
Eli Grba
Charlie Hough
David Nied
Marty Pattin
Diego Segui
Dick Selma
Bobby Shantz
Bill Singer

I think this one is pretty easy, but I guess we'll see.

Trivia time: Who are these 10 pitchers?

Posted by Andy
Reader koma wrote in with this dandy of a trivia question. It's straightforward although will require a bit of work to figure it out.

Who are these 10 pitchers?

Bill Johnson
Randy St. Claire
David Cone
Hank Johnson
Tom Henke
Dave Roberts
Jose Jimenez
Mike LaCoss
Mark Calvert
Mario Soto

Post your guesses below.

What the second wildcard would have meant in 2011

Posted by Andy
So MLB is adding a second wildcard team for each league, and the two wild cards will have a one-game playoff.

Let's imagine what this would have meant for the 2011 pennant races.

Win some great baseball items!

Posted by Andy
Time for a contest, and this one is really easy to enter and win.

How to post comments on this blog

Posted by Andy
I've gotten a few requests for easy directions on how to post comments, so here they are. I'm also going to put a permanent link to this post in the sidebar.

This blog uses DISQUS to manage comments. The easiest way to post comments is to create a DISQUS login, which is free, quick, and easy.

Follow these steps:

Bobby Valentine to the Red Sox? We knew it months ago.

Posted by Andy
Pete Abraham reports that the Red Sox are talking to Bobby Valentine about their managerial job and that Bobby V is interested.

Now, those of you who have been reading my stuff for a while know that I make a lot of predictions, and sometimes those predictions are wrong. (You get 50 bonus point if the phrase "Phillies are done" just went through your head.)

But check out the following excerpts from chat sessions I had with Neil Paine:

Projecting C.J. Wilson in 2012

Posted by Andy
C.J. Wilson is one of the prized pitchers on the free-agent market, though some might call him a boobie prize.

Let's take a guess at what he might do in 2012.

The Texas Rangers are the last team to lose back-to-back World Series since...

Posted by Andy
...do you know which team?

Sveum to manage Cubs

Posted by Andy
Right guy, wrong team.

According to Gordon Edes, Dale Sveum has accepted the Cubs' offer to become their new manager. Score one for Theo Epstein.

Most IP without allowing a triple

Posted by Andy
Here are the most innings pitched in a season since 1901 without allowing a triple:

No more ads

Posted by Andy
I took down the ads because they were driving me crazy. We'll be relying on merchandise sales to try to break even. If you want to help ensure that this blog continues, check out the High Heat Store link on the right sidebar.

Maddon vs. Francona

Posted by Andy
Wow, I can't believe that Joe Maddon won AL Manager of the Year...how did he beat out Terry Francona?

Joking aside, I think Red Sox management did a great job of poisoning Francona's chances for managing in 2012. I can't imagine any team hiring him after the leaked allegations about marriage problems and pain medication abuse. He'll be back, though, after a year or two as a bench coach.

Extremes in 2011 BAbip vs. Established Norms

Posted by Anonymous
I compared batters' 2011 BAbip (batting average on balls in play) to their established norms, which I defined as their combined BAbip for 2008-10. I set the minimums at 200 PAs for 2011 and 1,100 PAs* for 2008-10. There were 176 players in the study. I've included regular BA data as a frame of reference.

Make of it what you will! (And see Andy's related post.)

Card of the Week: 1992 Bowman #367 Dale Sveum

Posted by Andy

I'm guessing that sometime today, Dale Sveum is going to be named the new manager of the Red Sox. But let's turn back the clock to the playing portion of Sveum's career. (For those who do not know, his last name is pronounced "Swaim".)

Sveum was a 3rd baseman and shortshop with the Brewers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and then bounced around with a bunch of other teams through the rest of the 90s. He posted a career OPS+ of 82 with a .236 batting average, and thus wasn't particularly well know for his offensive abilities. Interestingly, though, he did post a 25 HR, 95 RBI season in 1987, but since that was a crazy homer-happy year, that was good for just a 95 OPS+. Before the steroids era, this was quite uncommon.

1 Rob Deer 1991 25 92 DET 134 539 448 64 80 14 2 64 89 175 .179 .314 .386 .700 *9/D
2 Dale Sveum 1987 25 95 MIL 153 586 535 86 135 27 3 95 40 133 .252 .303 .454 .757 *64
3 Cory Snyder 1987 33 89 CLE 157 615 577 74 136 24 2 82 31 166 .236 .273 .456 .729 *967
4 Dave Parker 1987 26 92 CIN 153 647 589 77 149 28 0 97 44 104 .253 .311 .433 .744 *9/3
5 Dave Kingman 1986 35 90 OAK 144 604 561 70 118 19 0 94 33 126 .210 .255 .431 .686 *D/3
6 Reggie Jackson 1984 25 94 CAL 143 584 525 67 117 17 2 81 55 141 .223 .300 .406 .706 *D/9
7 George Foster 1983 28 95 NYM 157 647 601 74 145 19 2 90 38 111 .241 .289 .419 .708 *7
8 Tony Armas 1983 36 85 BOS 145 613 574 77 125 23 2 107 29 131 .218 .254 .453 .707 *8D
9 Gary Gaetti 1982 25 93 MIN 145 565 508 59 117 25 4 84 37 107 .230 .280 .443 .723 *5/6D
10 Joe Pepitone 1964 28 91 NYY 160 647 613 71 154 12 3 100 24 63 .251 .281 .418 .698 *38/9
11 Del Ennis 1956 26 95 PHI 153 672 630 80 164 23 3 95 33 62 .260 .299 .430 .729 *7
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/15/2011.

It never happened before 1956, when 25 homers was downright Ruthian.

Now, there's a story about Sveum that is just about my favorite thing ever. I wrote about it a long time ago on the B-R blog, and I'm posting a slightly modified version of that post right here.

Sveum is the subject of my all-time favorite baseball quote. The only place I have ever seen it referenced was in the sports section of the Philadelphia Enquirer on August 20, 1992, in an article by Frank Fitzpatrick. This was about 10 days after the Phillies had traded Sveum to the White Sox, in the dog days of yet another losing season for the Phillies. (Little did anyone know they'd make the World Series the following year.)

Anyway, the quote, directly from Fitzpatrick's piece is:
Someone in center field brought a banner that read: "Bring Back Sveum." Last week, Dale Sveum, now with the White Sox, said he missed Philadelphia like a hole in the head. That prompted Phils general manager Lee Thomas to say: "Did he say anything about the hole in his bat?"
Oh, SNAP! Isn't that the best comeback you've ever heard? Lee Thomas was never afraid to speak his mind, but that was an unusually harsh statement.

Sveum has made more news in his career over bad issues than good one, his bitter departure from Philly a good case in point. Most famously, he broke his leg in a collision with teammate Darryl Hamilton (which was not Sveum's fault.) More recently, Sveum was let go as third-base coach of the Red Sox after getting more than his fair share of runners thrown out at home. (Of course, they did win a World Series in 2004 with him in that job...)

Anyway, let's talk about this baseball card. Bowman used to be its own company, but by 1992 it was owned by Topps and this was simply a subsidiary set issued by the card giant. The front features an odd photo, with the sun in Sveum's eyes and him engaging in that age-old baseball warm-up exercise: palm scratching.

The back features what looks like the media guide photo, which is as good as any, but would work better if the front were an action shot. The overall color scheme on the card back is simply atrocious: too many colors and patterns, and the large "B" in the middle is very distracting.

The stats on the back are splits by team, which is a pretty cool concept. It's of course not terribly meaningful, as most of the splits are tiny samples, but nevertheless it was interesting to see out-of-the-box thinking, and I do think this sort of card back helped usher in more broader attention to more interesting stats.