Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Better a Day Off than an Off Day

What do baseball players do on open dates? For the Sox players, after Spring Training and an opening road trip, I imagine that most are home with their families. Ballplayers are famous for going to the movies (although a few wouldn't for fear that it would affect their eyesight), and most of the Yankees must have seen the sights in Boston by now. Probably not too many would be in line to see Fever Pitch.

Asked about whether he would be wearing his Sox World Series ring very often, Curt Schilling reported (on WEEI today) that his daughter took his ring for 'show-and-tell' today. Pretty cool day at school, huh? Let's hope that the ace has something for show-and-tell tomorrow. By the way, Schilling also predicted that both Hideki Matsui and David Ortiz would have big years because of a determination to take chances, making adjustments to get better.

Statistical anomalies. Ichiro has followed up his fantastic spring by hitting .464 thus far, and courtesy of the Sox, Eric Hinske and Gregg Zaun lead the league in RBIs with 10 and 9 respectively. Scott Posednik of the White Sox and Carl Crawford of the D-Rays each have four stolen bases, and Dmitri Young (Detroit) has an OPS of 1.403, thanks to his three homer day. David Ortiz is third at 1.218.

On the mound, Johan Santana leads the league in strikeouts, followed by Jeremy Bonderman, Randy Johnson, Matt Clement, Freddy Garcia, and Rodrigo Lopez. Of pitchers with at least two appearances, the ERA leaders are Lopez (0.64) and Tim Wakefield (1.32). Bob Gibson's 1968 ERA of 1.12 isn't likely to be challenged. For those who need a reminder, ERA is calculated by multiplying earned runs allowed by nine and dividing by innings pitched.

Doug Pappas, in the 2004 Baseball Prospectus has some fascinating comments about the vicissitudes of pro baseball teams. He reminds us that in 1991 that Oakland had the highest payroll, and that the Pirates won their division three years running. Pappas creates something called the Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins using the formula:

((winning pct. - .300)/162)/(payroll - (28 x MLB minimum))

He explains that the .300 comes from estimating that a replacement player team would go .300 (not 0-162) and assumes a 25 players roster and three player disabled list. He then classifies players by either low or high Marginal Payroll to Marginal Wins ratio compared to their record. He examines MLB from 1995 to 2003. He explains that a low MP/MW ratio and good record equals good management and that a high MP/MW ratio with poor record suggests poor management. A high MP/MW with good record means buying wins, and a low MP/MW with poor record means undercapitalization (or ownership stinginess).

The results aren't entirely expected. Teams like Florida, Oakland, and Minnesota trended better, and teams like the Cubs, Orioles, Tigers, and Mets trended worse. The Braves spent more and won more, and the Yankees weren't necessarily the high rollers per win. I don't know the originator, but the saying goes, "money can't play." I guess the aging Celtics were a great example of a team that aged itself out of competition.

Fantasy player of the week. Pat Burrell, Philadelphia, with four homers, seventeen RBI, and a 1.446 OPS in eight games.


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