1) Students at Northeastern University have developed a shirt that they hope will aid in the detection of changes in a pitcher’s mechanics that can indicate fatigue. Pitcher injury/attrition is a massive, massive issue in baseball (and was a particular problem for the M’s), and I like the idea here. It’s not perfect, but this is an undergraduate project, and it’s a fascinating idea. (It’s machine washable!).
2) Some of you already saw this on The Book Blog -written by sabermetrician and M’s employee (I never get tired of saying that) Tom Tango- but Craig Glaser has an interesting twist on measuring a batter’s ‘selectivity.’ Limiting his analysis to 2-strike pitches, Craig’s measuring how likely a batter is to swing at a strike (and not swing at a ball). Why 2 strikes? Because a batter on a 2-0 or 3-0 count may take a pitch he thinks is probably a strike because he’d rather wait for a better one (thus, this isn’t exactly the same thing as ‘knowledge of the strike zone’). Why does it matter? Well, check out this conclusion:
“If a batter puts a ball in play and the pitch was a strike: Batting Average: .298 SLG: .492
If a batter puts a ball in play and the pitch was a ball: Batting Average: .181 SLG: .254.”
Great stuff. Of course, I give bonus points to any references to Chris Sabo, so the fact that Glaser’s blog is called ‘Sabometrics’ was a big plus.
3) I know Baseball Prospectus has taken some shots from the saber community, and from our fearless leader in particular. But this piece by Pizza Cutter is just dead-on. I, for one, completely agree with the premise that we don’t know very much about ‘chemistry,’ which players are ‘clutch’, or which ones are ‘all about themselves/the stats’ and what effect any of these may have on building a winning club. I’m comfortable saying that there seems to be a non-negligible effect and that it may have helped the M’s in 2009. The problem is that the people who often use this argument against the analytical community *don’t know how to measure this either*. The implicit argument is that it’s better to spout off about Player X’s ‘clutch’ skills or Player Y’s ‘selfishness’ with absolutely no back-up outside of an anecdote than it is to say, “I don’t know if he’s a selfish bastard who’s killing this team with his personality or not, but I can tell you how many runs he created.”
Some players in 2008 seem to have seen Ichiro as aloof or not team-oriented. In 2009, Ichiro seemed to get along with his teammates swimmingly. In 2008, A-Rod was a playoff choker, and in 2009 he was a playoff hero. In 2006-7, Brian Giles clubhouse antics kept the team loose and helped them fight for the division title. In 2009, Brian Giles was no longer hilarious, because being jumped on by a naked guy hitting below the Mendoza line in a lost season is, apparently, *not cool*. These attributes can be annoyingly ephemeral! So here’s to all we DON’T know about baseball, and here’s to all of the people willing to say that we don’t know everything!
4) Again, many of you have been following along for a while, but I wanted to plug USSM mod/Lookout Landing author Graham MacAree’s amazing ‘Sabermetrics 101’ series over at LL. Read ’em all.
5) This came up in comments on one of the Wes Littleton posts, but pitch f/x guru Dave Allen (whose piece on Cliff Lee is available in the 2010 Mariners Annual, available at fine retailers everywhere or from Maple Street Press here!) wrote an interesting piece on pitch sequences. This is focused on 2-pitch sequences amongst pitchers with (essentially) 2 pitches in their repertoire, so it’s not exhaustive, but it’s interesting, and I’m glad we’ve got people like Allen looking into this. I love you, pitch f/x.
6) The Tacoma Rainiers unveiled their Cheney Stadium redesign plan to the Tacoma City Council today. Here’s the Rainiers presser, here’s the Tacoma News Tribune’s piece on the design proposal from back in November, and here’s a TNT piece from today on the design. Check out the photo gallery at the end of the last link.
The City put up $30 million in bond proceeds, and the Cheney Foundation would add in a few million as well. State funding isn’t mentioned as a funding source; the Rainiers received state capital budget appropriations of $2.5 million in the 2007-09 capital budget (the money was appropriated as a community project from the old Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development to the City of Tacoma for the Rainiers), but presumably that money went towards the new scoreboard that debuted in 2009.
The City’s putting up the bulk of the money for the renovation, but the debt service will largely come from private sources. A $0.50/ticket charge will help pay off the $28m debt, and the Rainiers will pay a higher rent under a new 30-year lease agreement. Thanks to mike in comments and this City Council handout (see page 21).