Saturday, May 10, 2003
IP H R ER BB SO HR PIT ERAMINNESOTA 5, BOSTON 0
Montreal (Vazquez) -130 over Los Angeles (Dreifort)
Detroit (Bonderman) +110 over Tampa Bay (McClung)
Boston (Wakefield) -120 over Minnesota (Rogers)
Baltimore (Johnson) +110 over Kansas City (George)
Total to date: + $1,435
W/L record: 73-67 (3-1 for +385 yesterday, including +230 on my main man, Johan Santana!)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Friday, May 09, 2003
Yesterday was a good dayCalled up the homies and I'm askin y'all
Which court, are y'all playin basketball?
Get me on the court and I'm trouble
Last week f---ed around and got a triple double
Freaking brothers everyway like M.J.
I can't believe, today was a good day
-- Ice Cube, "It was a good day"
Amazingly, my worst fears about yesterday did not come true. I went to the oral part of my language final and got myself a solid, underachiever's 80/100. After I was done, my teacher looked at me and said, and I quote, "You don't deserve this, but I'm going to give it to you anyway. Just do better on the written final next week."
To which I said, as I was running out the door, "Okay..."
Then I was on my way to "Mass Media Ethics," which is a class that was interesting occasionally, but, more often than not, very boring to me.
And to make matters worse, it always took the teaching assistants like three weeks to grade our papers and give them back to us. There were 3 major papers in the class, the last of which was turned in way back on April 24th - and they still hadn't given us our grades on it yet. The third paper was/is worth 15% of the total grade for the course, which meant I had no clue how I was doing in the class heading into yesterday's final, which counted for 25% of the class.
Here is what I did know:
Paper #1 - 40/50 (80%, B-minus)
Midterm - 74/100 (74%, C)
Paper #2 - 50/50 (100%, A+)
TOTAL - 164/200 (82%, B-minus)
Yes, you're reading that right, I got 50/50 on my second paper. The subject? LeBron James. Seriously.
I'm telling you all right now, if I were allowed to write about sports for every assignment in school, I would graduate Summa Cum Laude.
Those three things that I did have grades for cover "only" 50% of the total grade, with the other 50% being the 3rd paper, the final and "attendance and participation" - all of which I had no clue what % I would get.
Which meant, as of yesterday at about 12:30, I was right on the border of "doing well" and "I think I might fail this class."
If I got my 3rd paper back and I got, say, a D on it, that would mean I had a C heading into the final. And that means if I did poorly on the final, I was in real danger of flunking the class (anything lower than a C-minus means the credits don't count for the major).
So I arrive at the class and sit down and the professor comes in and says, "when you turn in your final, we will give you back your last paper."
Is there any possible reason why the TAs couldn't have graded the third papers by Tuesday (our last meeting before the final) and given them back to us BEFORE the final exam? It's not like it would have changed how I did on the test, but I'd have felt a lot better knowing where I stood in the class before it was actually over.
So now, as I am sitting there waiting to take a test that counts for 1/4 of my entire grade, I keep thinking that I have no idea if I am about to get an A in this class or am about to flunk it. It's really a pretty unsettling feeling to have. Plus, I wasn't feeling very confident in my ability to get a decent grade on the final.
And then the TAs handed out the final. 9 essay questions. I flipped through them all before I started and realized I was going to be able to answer at least 7 of them well and the other 2 at least reasonably okay. In my world, that counts as good news.
I actually breezed through the final and was one of the first 15 or 20 people to finish it. I went up to the front of the room, handed it in and grabbed my 3rd paper. I didn't look at it until I got out of the room and, when I finally glanced at it, I saw...
58.5/60 - A+
"Today was a good day."
I am pretty sure I have a solid "B" in the class now, which is like an A+ for an underachiever like myself. Gotta keep that GPA hovering around 3.0, right?
I want to thank everyone who sent me an email yesterday, wishing me luck and all that good stuff. By my count I got 41 emails that basically said nothing other than "good luck" and "keep up the good work" or something similar. Sometimes it's tough keeping up with my ever-growing email mailbox, but I will always have time for the type of emails I got yesterday. Thank you all.
Yesterday was a good day and today has the potential to be one too. My dad is coming over here this morning to help me move out of the dorm, I am going home to see my dog (and my mom, I guess) and the Twins play the Red Sox tonight, in what has to be considered the greatest pitching matchup in Aaron's Baseball Blog history:
Johan "The Official Pitcher of Aaron's Baseball Blog" Santana versus Pedro "The Official Right Arm of God" Martinez.
I have been clamoring for Santana to get some starts for what seems like years now and he finally gets a chance and it is against one of the best hitting teams in baseball and one of the best pitchers of all-time. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. Well, maybe a little bit...
I think Santana will probably be on a fairly low pitch-count, this being his first start of the year and all. Kyle Lohse pitched a complete-game shutout against the D-Rays last night, so the bullpen is rested and ready. My prediction for Johan?
Boston is a team that is very patient, so I wouldn't be surprised if he struggles with his control a little bit and got up to whatever pitch-count he will be on fairly quickly.
If we aren't completely exhausted from moving all my crap back home, I might have to talk my dad into taking me to the game. After all, how many times do you get the chance to see your two favorite pitchers go against one another?
I saw this beauty in the Star Tribune the other day:
"Second baseman Luis Rivas was out of the lineup Tuesday after Gardenhire learned Rivas has been suffering from flu-like symptoms for six days. Rivas threw up in the dugout in Boston."I was chatting with Craig Burley of the Batter's Box last night and I relayed the Rivas information to him, to which he replied:
"Was he watching video of himself hitting?"[Rimshot]
Los Angeles (Brown) -150 over Montreal (Vargas)
San Francisco (Foppert) +155 over Atlanta (Maddux)
Detroit (Bernero) +125 over Tampa Bay (Parque)
Minnesota (Santana) +230 over Boston (Martinez)
Total to date: + $1,205
W/L record: 70-66 (4-1 yesterday for +300. Also, one correction from Wednesday: Kyle Snyder started for KC, not Miguel Ascenio, so the bet is voided.)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Thursday, May 08, 2003
Somebody pray for meI am gonna keep this short and sweet. I have 2 finals today and a third class in which a "Final Paper" is due. As you can probably guess, I am wayyyyyyyy stressed out and about ready to concede failure on at least one of the finals.
So, if you've got something you pray to or a lucky something you rub, I'd appreciate you praying to it and rubbing it for me. Trust me when I say this: I need all the help I can get.
Assuming I make it through today, I will be back tomorrow with a new entry.
In the meantime, if you haven't already, you might want to check out my entry from yesterday:
Beat 'em like they stole something (Part Two)
Or, if you're sick of what I have to say, go check out "The Southpaw." It's a relatively new blog that hasn't yet started to get a ton of traffic. Right now it is sort of like one of the "hole in the wall" restaurants that you like going to, because no one else really knows about it. I think it would be fun to flood the site with some traffic today, so head over to...
Houston (Redding) -150 over Pittsburgh (Suppan)
San Francisco (Ainsworth) -120 over Florida (Penny)
San Diego (Lawrence) +135 over Montreal (Ohka)
Toronto (Lidle) -110 over Texas (Drese)
Baltimore (Helling) +130 over Kansas City (Asencio)
New York (Wells) -105 over Seattle (Garcia)
Total to date: + $1,005
W/L record: 67-65 (5-3 yesterday for +205, with one rainout)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Wednesday, May 07, 2003
Beat 'em like they stole something (Part Two)Yesterday I discussed the Runnin' Marlins and their incredible base-stealing exploits this year. Through Sunday they had "lapped the field" in stolen bases, with twice as many (52) as the second-most prolific team (Anaheim - 26).
Also in my entry from yesterday, I found out that the "modern-day" record-holders for team steals in a season are the 1976 Oakland Athletics. I was checking out their team page over at Baseball-Reference.com and I realized that a team like this simply deserves a blog entry devoted entirely to them...
1976 Oakland Athletics
Record: 87-74 (2nd in AL West, 2.5 GB)
Runs Scored: 686 (5th) | Runs Allowed: 598 (2nd-tie)
Let's start with the reason I stumbled across this particular team: Their stolen bases.
The '76 A's stole 341 bases and were caught 123 times - a success-rate of 73.5%. To put that in some context: The rest of the AL stole bases at a 64.5% clip in 1976.
The team leader in steals was centerfielder Billy North, who went 75/104 (72%). North was a nice little player during the 70s, despite not having even the slightest bit of power. He typically hit for a fairly good batting average, took a lot of walks and had great speed. But, despite batting averages that were almost always above league-average, he never slugged league-average and hit only 20 career homers in 3,900 at bats. North stole a ton of bases throughout his career and was usually successful right around 70% of the time.
Here are his stolen base numbers:
Year SB CS SB%For his whole career he was 395/557 (70.9%). 1976 was North's best season for stealing bases, but otherwise it was your basic Billy North-season. He hit .276 and walked 73 times in 154 games, for a .356 on-base %. He had only 27 extra-base hits, including 2 homers, in 590 at bats. He drove in only 31 runs in 675 plate appearances, which is the 8th lowest total for an outfielder with over 670 PAs in baseball history.
While North certainly did not have any power, his slugging numbers look a lot worse than they actually were. North slugged .337 in 1976, which looks incredibly bad. However, when you look at the environment he was playing in, it wasn't so horrible. The American League, adjusted to the Oakland Coliseum, had a .354 slugging % in 1976. In case you're wondering, the AL slugged .424 last season.
North slugged about 5% below league-average in 1976. Some guys that were around 5% below league-average in slugging % last year: Craig Biggio, Eric Karros, Travis Lee, Doug Mientkiewicz, Terrence Long. Basically, a .337 slugging % in 1976 is equivalent to a .403 slugging % last season, which really isn't so incredibly awful for a centerfielder, and certainly looks a whole lot better than ".337" on the back of a baseball card.
If "environment" can turn a .337 slugging % into a .403 slugging %, what can it do for a .356 on-base %? Quite a bit actually. North's .356 OBP in 1976 was about 13% better than the adjusted league-average of .315. Last year the AL OBP'd at .327, which means his on-base % was equivalent to about .369 last year.
We might as well finish his "new" stat-line by doing his batting average. He hit .276 in 1976, about 10% higher than league-average. So, after adjusting all his stats from 1976 AL to 2002 AL, his new numbers are: .290/.369/.404.
That puts Billy North's 1976 season, in which he hit .276/.356/.337, at nearly the same level as the 2002 season of Derek Jeter (.297/.373/.421) and similar to, but a step (or two) above guys like David Eckstein (.293/.363/.388), Doug Mientkiewicz (.261/.365/.392) and Luis Castillo (.305/.364/.361).
It's really amazing what adjusting someone's "raw" statistics for the era and environment they played in can do to your perception of a player. I mean, if I just showed you Billy North's stats from 1976 and you saw the .276/.356/.337, you'd think he was a pretty miserable hitter. The fact that the performance was actually about the equivalent of .290/.369/.404 last season in the American League just shows how different baseball is now.
By the way, before I get bombarded with emails from Jeter fans telling me how dumb I am for suggesting a guy that slugged .337 was in the same ballpark as Jeter was last season, let me remind you that it's the stats talking, not me!
Believe it or not, Billy North's .337 slugging percentage wasn't even the lowest among Oakland's everyday players in 1976. Their starting shortstop, Bert Campaneris, slugged .291 with a .256 batting average, which is damn near impossible. In fact, since 1920, only 2 players have ever had a higher batting average while slugging below .300:
Frank Taveras - .258 AVG / .297 SLG (1976)
Spook Jacobs - .258 AVG / .283 SLG (1954)
That '76 season must have really been something, huh? 2 of the "top" 3 seasons ever in this category took place in 1976!
Frank Taveras had 519 at bats in 1976 and hit 0 homers, 8 doubles and 6 triples. 90% of his hits were singles and he got an extra-base hit once every 37.1 at bats. Simply amazing.
Taveras played for the Pirates the next season (1977) and his manager was none other than Chuck Tanner, who was the manager of the 1976 A's! Taveras slugged .331 for Tanner in '77 and stole 70 bases, a career high.
Oh, and before you go thinking that Campaneris' slugging % from 1976 really wasn't all that bad and just needs "adjusting" like North's...no, it's still awful. His .291 SLG was about 22% worse than league-average, which is the equivalent of about .330 last year. Campy did manage to get on base 33.1% of the time in 1976, which, along with his defense and base-running, made him a fairly valuable player, especially for a shortstop.
When Campaneris got on base, he did a lot of damage. Campy went 54/66 on steals (82%), which ranked 2nd on the team to North.
A somewhat related note: A lot of people make a big deal about Brady Anderson's 50 homer season or Luis Gonzalez's 57 homer season being gigantic fluke seasons for power, but what about Bert Campaneris in 1970? Campy hit 22 homers in 603 at bats. Taking that season out, he averaged 4.25 home runs per 603 at bats for the other 18 years of his career.
The '76 A's scored the 5th-most runs in the AL, so they must have had a little power, right? Actually, yes. The A's were 4th in the AL with 113 homers. There's another "think about that for a minute" stat. 113 homers was good for 4th in the AL in 1976. Last year that would have ranked them dead-last in all of baseball.
Sal Bando led the A's with 27 homers, which ranked 2nd in the AL behind only Graig Nettles (32). Bando didn't hit for much of a batting average (.240), so his slugging % and on-base % weren't that great for someone that was one of the league's top home run hitters. His adjusted OPS+ was 127, which is about the same as Eric Hinske (124) or Kevin Millar (131) last year.
Despite being one of the AL's best sluggers, Bando fit right in with the A's in 1976, because he went 20/26 (77%) on steal attempts. That is a career high in steals for Bando, by a pretty big margin. He stole only 55 bases in the other 1,861 games of his career, combined.
While Bando was the best home run hitter on the 1976 A's, Gene Tenace was the best overall hitter. Tenace is a player I find fascinating. He came up as catcher in the late-60s/early-70s and eventually split time between catcher and first base. Why is he so interesting to me? For one thing, he walked 100+ times in a season 6 different times in his career.
The idea of a catcher that walks 100 times a year gets me all excited and Tenace wasn't just a walking-machine, he was a power-machine too. Despite very low batting averages (.241 career), Tenace managed to post a career slugging percentage that was about 15% better than the leagues he played in.
Since I seem to be doing a lot of "adjusting" to today's environment, I might as well do it again: Ivan Rodriguez, one of the greatest hitting catchers of all-time, has a career slugging % that is about 14% better than league-average.
So, Gene Tenace walked 100 times a year and slugged like Ivan Rodriguez. He obviously didn't win any gold gloves like Pudge, but that's definitely the type of player I would want on my team. Tenace was one of the few Oakland players that didn't get in on all the running fun in 1976. He stole only 5 bases and was caught 4 times.
The only other everyday or semi-everyday players on the team that didn't run a lot were Joe Rudi (6/7) and Billy Williams (4/6).
Williams was never much of a base-stealer and, at 38, was at the end of his playing days. He hit only .211/.320/.339 in 413 plate appearances, in what was the final season of his Hall of Fame career.
Joe Rudi was only 29, but he was also coming to the end of his career, or at least his days as a good player. From 1972-1976 Rudi has OPS+ figures of 151, 109, 140, 135 and 122. He had an OPS+ of 127 in 1977, but in only 64 games. He posted a 102 OPS+ in 1978, which is the last time he was an "average" hitter. He hit only .227/.283/.385 in the remaining 4 years of his career.
In 1976 though, Joe Rudi was a very good hitter. Rudi hit .270/.323/.424, which was about the same as Bando hit. He also drove in a team-high 94 runs, but strangely scored only 54.
The only guy on the team that stole a lot of bases and did so with a below-average success-rate was Claudell Washington, who swiped 37 bags and was caught 20 times (65%). Claudell was very fast and was only 21 years old in 1976, so it's somewhat understandable that he'd steal a lot of bases and get thrown out quite a bit too. That said, he was 40/55 (73%) as a 20 year old in 1975. He never really developed into a great base-stealer (or the all-around player many thought he would become), but he did have some pretty good years swiping bases. He played for the Texas Rangers in 1977 and went 21/29 (72%).
In looking at the 1976 A's and their stolen base totals, the most surprising thing for me was that Don Baylor went 52/64 (81.3%) on steal attempts. As a 20 year old, I know Don Baylor as "Big Fat Don Baylor the Manager" and I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that he could somehow be one of the best base-stealers in baseball, at least for that one season.
Before and after 1976, Don ran a lot, but wasn't very successful. He went 32/49 (65%) with the Orioles the year before and 26/38 (68%) with the Angels the year after. In fact, if you take out 1976, Don Baylor had a career SB% of 68.3%. But, for whatever reason, he ran wild in 1976.
Baylor wasn't the only future manager doing a lot of running on that team. Phil Garner, who would later go on to do horrible jobs managing the Brewers and Tigers, was 35/48 (73%). As with a lot of guys on that team, the 35 steals was a career-high for Garner. He did go 32/41 (78%) with the Pirates in 1977 - on that same team with Taveras, managed by Tanner.
That pretty much covers the everyday players for the A's in 1976. The only other hitters with over 100 at bats in 1976 were Larry Haney and Ken McMullen, who went a combined 1/3 on SBs in 1976. You may have noticed that the everyday players don't quite add up to 341 stolen bases. Actually, they don't even add up to 300 SBs. That's because the 1976 Oakland A's had 2 bench players that combined to steal 51 bases while totaling only 31 at bats.
Matt Alexander, who was officially a backup "outfielder," went 20/27 (74%) on steals and got a total of 30 at bats in 61 games. This wasn't the first time this sort of thing had happened to Alexander. He stole 17 bases and had only 10 at bats for the A's in 1975 and stole 26 with 42 at bats in 1977. In fact, for his career, Matt Alexander stole 103 bases and had only 168 at bats. If you think that's something, check this one out: He scored 111 career runs and had 4 career RBI (yes, 4).
Even with all that said, Matt Alexander had absolutely nothing on Larry Lintz in 1976. Lintz had been a semi-everyday player as an infielder with the Expos from 1973-1975. 1974 was his best season. He had 319 at bats, hit .238/.334/.276 and went 50/57 (88%) stealing bases. He joined the A's in 1976 and let's just say he didn't use his bat a whole lot.
Larry Lintz appeared in 68 games for the A's and stole 31 bases, while being caught 11 times (74%). Not so weird, right? He also had a grand-total of 1 at bat the entire season. To be fair, that is short-changing him a bit. He actually had 4 plate appearances and walked twice and had one sacrifice bunt. Still, 1 at bat.
3 of his 4 plate appearances came in one series in May, against the Yankees. His 1 at bat came on May 7th against the Yankees. On a Friday night in Oakland, with the score 14-4 (Yankees) and two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, Lintz came up and promptly hit into a 6-4 forceout for the final out of the game.
The attendance for the game was 6,810. I figure that a game that starts with 6,810 people and is 14-4 in the 9th inning probably has about 100-200 people left by the time the final out of the game is made. Which means Lintz's 1 at bat the entire season was seen by about 200 people, maybe 300 if you want to count all the players and coaches on both teams and the guys selling hot dogs.
The interesting stuff on the 1976 A's doesn't even end with the everyday players and the "pinch-runners." The '76 A's also featured, at one time or another, the following players:
Willie McCovey (Hall of Famer, 521 career HRs)
Ron Fairly (2-time all-star, 21 seasons, 215 career HRs)
Cesar Tovar (Twins' everyday player from 1966-1972, 1,546 career hits)
Nate Colbert (3-time all-star, 10 seasons, 38 HRs in 1970 and 1972)
And that's just the hitters!
The pitching-staff featured Vida Blue, who went 18-13 with a 2.35 ERA in 298 innings, and Rollie Fingers, who was the very definition of an "ace reliever," going 13-11 with 20 saves and a 2.47 ERA in 135 innings - all in relief! Obviously not many pitchers are as good as Rollie Fingers, but the way Fingers was used in 1976 is the sort of way I think elite "closers" should be used today.
His 13-11 record and 20 saves show that he was obviously put into a ton of close games, when the A's were up or down by a run or two and tied. And he appeared in 70 games and averaged nearly 2 innings per appearance. There is no way you can make me believe that today's top closers are coming anywhere close to maximizing their value to a team by pitching the ninth inning when their team has a lead less than 4 runs.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Oakland's pitching-staff is that they got through an entire season using only 12 pitchers. Not "using 12 pitchers" like a lot of teams do now, I mean they literally used 12 pitchers the entire season.
Pitcher IPBatton (4 IP) and Mitchell (3 IP) were actually both September call-ups, which means the 1976 A's went the entire 25-man roster portion of the season with only 10 pitchers and none of them needed even a single trip to the disabled list!
In case you haven't noticed, this blog entry is a perfect example of why I love baseball so much. There is so much information about the history of the game, so many interesting stories and interesting players, that can be found simply by picking some random team that played decades ago.
They 1976 A's werent particularly memorable. They won 87 games and finished in 2nd place, while the 1972, 1973 and 1974 Oakland A's all won World Series titles. The 1971 and 1975 A's won the AL West division. Yet the 1976 A's are just as full of interesting "stuff" as any of those championship teams were, and that is the beauty of baseball. It is the only sport in which a page of statistics can tell so much of the story, can provide such an amazing amount of information.
Thanks for stopping by today and make sure to check out Alex Belth's interview with Rob Neyer over at Bronx Banter. I read it yesterday and really enjoyed it. Alex is quickly becoming one of my favorite bloggers and he has done an amazing amount of awesome interviews in a short period of time, which makes me jealous because I don't even have one cool interview.
Speaking of Rob...His most recent column over at ESPN.com is a great one and it's the type of column that makes Rob such an awesome baseball writer.
Also, I have received quite a few emails recently wondering about the "1st Annual Aaron's Baseball Blog Pre-Season Predictions Contest." If you weren't checking this site out back then, I had a little contest where I asked everyone to send in their predictions for the season. (To read more about it, click here)
Anyway, I have been meaning to tally up all the picks and give a report on the "consensus" selections and the unique selections and all that, and I am still planning on doing it, but it'll probably have to wait until at least next week. It's gonna take me a while to add up all the picks and I am busy with Finals this week and next, so...
Milwaukee (Rusch) +155 over Chicago (Estes)
Philadelphia (Millwood) -140 over Arizona (Webb)
Colorado (Cruz) +160 over Atlanta (Reynolds)
San Francisco (Moss) -120 over Florida (Beckett)
Los Angeles (Nomo) -125 over New York (Trachsel)
Boston (Burkett) -140 over Kansas City (Asencio)
Detroit (Knotts) +155 over Baltimore (Daal)
Tampa Bay (Kennedy) +120 over Minnesota (Mays)
Oakland (Lilly) -150 over Chicago (Loaiza)
Total to date: + $800
W/L record: 62-62 (3-3 yesterday for +20 total)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
Beat 'em like they stole somethingI was watching "Baseball Tonight" on Sunday night and saw the following graphic:
Team Stolen Base Leaders:Obviously, this is not a shocking development. Back in March, when I did my season-preview, I said the following:Florida 52
"The Marlins are a stone cold lock to lead all of baseball in stolen bases in 2003, which should at least be somewhat interesting (and frustrating for Marlins fans) to watch. They led the Majors with 177 steals last year and I wouldn't be shocked to see them steal 250+ in 2003."Their current pace: 255 steals.
Beyond being able to see into the future to predict team stolen base totals, you probably also know me as someone that loves interesting/strange/extreme statistics. When I saw that the Marlins had "lapped the field" in stolen bases this year, I immediately wondered whether or not they could make a run at the all-time team record for steals in a season. Of course, I wasn't even sure what that record was...
With the help of Craig Burley of the Batter's Box, I found out that the all-time record is:
1911 New York Giants - 347 SBs
1976 Oakland Athlethics - 341 SBs
I included both teams, because the '76 A's are what I would consider the "modern day" record-holders. Do the Marlins have a shot at coming close to either of those totals? Probably not.
To reach 340 steals, they would need to average about 2.1 steals per game for the entire season. Through 33 games they are averaging 1.58 per game. That said, it is very early and one or two games with a ton of steals can really bump their average per game up quite a bit. For instance, if they steal 5 bases in their next game and 6 bases the game after that, their average for the season jumps up to 1.8 per game. Still, that's quite a ways from 2.1.
Okay, so they might not break any records, but they are definitely going to lead the league by a ton... Here are the stolen base totals for the Marlins, projected to a full-season:
Player SB CSI'll say this for the Florida Marlins, if you are going to go crazy stealing bases, you could do worse than how the Marlins are doing thus far. They are on pace to steal 255 bags and get thrown out 79 times, which works out to a nifty 76.5% success rate. There are a few different theories as to the actual "break even" point for stolen bases (the rate at which you don't gain anything or lose anything), but I think the general opinion is that it is somewhere around 70%.
The amazing thing about Florida's stolen base numbers thus far is that they don't even have their best "stolen base lineup" on the field. Alex Gonzalez is hitting the crap out of the ball (.336/.381/.644) for them at shortstop, but he isn't much of a base stealer. He is 0/3 so far this season and 15/27 for his 486 game career. (He's also a .246/.290/.390 career hitter, but that's a topic for another day).
Meanwhile, the Fishies have Andy Fox sitting on their bench. Fox filled in as the everyday shortstop last season when Gonzalez went down with an injury and ended up going 31/38 on steals in only 133 games. For his career he is 74/98.
So, for all the running they are doing, they could be doing even more! I imagine if Fox was playing everyday he'd have at least 10 attempts already and probably would have stolen 7 or 8 bases. If you take out Gonzalez's 0/3 and add in Fox's 8/10, you get 60 steals in 73 attempts - a 82% success rate.
And while they are at it, why not sign Rickey Henderson to play left field, instead of Todd Hollandsworth? Hollandsworth isn't much of a hitter and he doesn't steal many bases either. Counting this year, he is 10 for his last 20 steal attempts. And doesn't it just seem right that a team in the year 2003 that is making a semi-run at the all-time SB record and basically just running like chickens with their heads cut off should have the greatest base stealer of all-time on the roster?
If you tell Rickey to run as much as humanly possible, I bet he could still steal you about 50 bases, and you know he's going to have a very good percentage.
Speaking of Rickey...
As someone born in 1983 that became a semi-serious baseball fan in about 1991 and an official baseball geek in about 1996, Rickey Henderson's early stolen base totals always amaze me.
From 1996 to 2002, here are the top 10 stolen base seasons:
Player Year SBBig deal, right? Those are some pretty good totals over the course of those 7 seasons (including Rickey's 1998 season). Now, look at this...
Rickey Henderson's top 10 stolen base seasons:
Player Year SBI can't even imagine someone stealing 130 bases in a season. And Rickey did it in only 149 games!
Just to put that into some context: That works out to 0.87 steals per game. Last year, all of major league baseball stole a combined 2,750 bases in 4,852 games, which is 0.57 steals per team, per game. That means in 1982 Rickey Henderson outstole (is that a word?) the average 2002 team by more than 50%. In fact, only 3 teams in all of baseball had more than 130 steals last year!
For those of you who are like me and weren't around or watching baseball in 1982, just imagine a team that steals a ton of bases. And now try to imagine a single player that steals just as many as that entire team. It really is almost unbelievable.
Of course, Rickey wasn't the only guy swiping bags left and right during the 80s. Vince Coleman racked up 110, 107 and 109 steals from 1985-1987 Ron LeFlore and Omar Moreno stole 97 and 96 bases in 1980. Tim Raines stole 90 in 1983, 78 in 1982, 75 in 1984 and, amazingly, 71 in 1981 - in only 88 games!
I am not a big fan of stolen bases as things to build your offense around, but they are definitely exciting. I do wish I had been a fan back in the 80s, just to see some of those guys run (and run and run...). Of course, watching Barry Bonds launch homers into bodies of water and Sammy Sosa hit balls onto the streets surrounding Wrigley is a lot of fun too, it's just different.
San Diego (Peavy) +140 over Montreal (Hernandez)
San Francisco (Schmidt) -150 over Florida (Pavano)
Los Angeles (Perez) -120 over New York (Astacio)
Philadelphia (Duckworth) -120 over Arizona (Good)
Detroit (Maroth) +160 over Baltimore (Hentgen)
Boston (Fossum) -150 over Kansas City (Affeldt)
Total to date: + $780
W/L record: 59-59 (2-2 yesterday for +$100)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Monday, May 05, 2003
Mission: FREE BOBBY KIELTY - Status: ACCOMPLISHED
A little warning for this week: Entries may be somewhat light and/or non-existent because this is finals week for me. In the past I have always used the blog as a reason to procrastinate when I am supposed to be studying or writing a paper, so I'm guessing you won't see any dropoff in entry length or frequency, but I just wanted to let you all know that the possibility does exist.