Archive for September 15th, 2010

The Yankees logo may stand for pride and tradition in baseball circles, but according to a tally conducted by the New York Times, it is also the preferred fashion statement for criminals in New York City.

The survey, which was conducted by reviewing NYPD news releases, revealed that more than 100 people either committed a crime or were arrested/arraigned wearing Yankees apparel. Meanwhile, only about a dozen Mets hats popped up under such circumstances. Unfortunately for the Mets, however, one of those instances actually involved one of their players.

The New York Times story offered more than a few theories as to why Yankees apparel has become so popular among the criminal element, but one timely reason was what one criminologist called the “Jay-Z effect”. Maybe the rapper really has made “the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can”, but not in a desirable way?

According to Frankie Y. Bailey, an associate professor at the University of Albany, the Yankees apparel is a homage to the famous rapper and not the team. “He wears it and makes it look cool,” Bailey told the New York Times. “It’s almost like the Yankees have acquired a kind of street rep, a coolness.”

Several other just as credible theories were also advanced in the Times story, but the Yankees need to pay careful attention to Bailey’s statement. The image represented by the Yankee brand is not only important from a historical standpoint, but an economic one as well. Comingling that brand with elements beyond the game, whether it be rap, college football or whatever else, requires careful scrutiny because if damaged, it could be difficult to repair.

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vs. James Shields PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 45 0.341 0.356 0.432 1 5
Curtis Granderson CF 27 0.077 0.111 0.192 0 1
Mark Teixeira 1B 30 0.143 0.200 0.143 0 0
Alex Rodriguez 3B 28 0.208 0.321 0.417 1 2
Robinson Cano 2B 36 0.400 0.417 0.886 3 7
Lance Berkman DH 3 0.333 0.333 0.333 0 0
Jorge Posada C 26 0.261 0.346 0.478 1 3
Austin Kearns LF 5 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Colin Curtis RF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 200 0.250 0.290 0.431 1 8
vs. Phil Hughes PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
John Jaso C 3 0.333 0.333 0.333 0 0
Ben Zobrist 2B 2 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Carl Crawford LF 9 0.250 0.333 0.250 0 1
Evan Longoria 3B 5 0.250 0.400 0.250 0 0
Matt Joyce RF 3 0.333 0.333 1.333 1 3
Dan Johnson DH 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Carlos Pena 1B 9 0.333 0.556 1.333 2 2
BJ Upton CF 10 0.286 0.500 0.286 0 0
Jason Bartlett SS 3 0.333 0.333 1.333 1 1
Total 44 0.278 0.386 0.611 4 7


Yankees vs. Rays    
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
TB: 7-6 NYY: 11-7 NYY: 11-7 NYY: 139-76


  Last 10 Last 20 Last 30
Yankees 3-7 11-9 17-13
Rays 4-6 11-9 18-12


  Away vs. RHP
Yankees 39-32 57-34
  Home vs. RHP
Rays 44-27 53-41

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Over the past few weeks, the latest battle between sabermetrics and old school stats has centered on the American League Cy Young award. The old school advocates have coalesced around C.C. Sabathia and his league leading 19 wins, while the sabermetricians have argued in favor od Felix Hernandez and his overall statistical superiority. As it turns out, however, the debate has been all for naught because at least one advanced metric has come around to the old school way of thinking.

After taking into account park factors based on 2010 data, baseball-reference.com’s new calculation of Wins Above Replacement (WAR) now confirms that C.C. Sabathia has been the league’s best pitcher. Before the adjustment, Sabathia ranked fifth in WAR, or over one half win behind Felix Hernandez, whose 11-11 record has made him a non-candidate on many main stream ballots. Now that Sabathia has jumped to the head of the class, however, there is no need for the conflict.

B-R.com’s WAR Adjustment, Based on Revised Park Factors

AL Pitching – Old     AL Pitching – New  
Player WAR   Player WAR
Hernandez (SEA) 5.2   Sabathia (NYY) 5.4
Price (TBR) 5.1   Liriano (MIN) 5
Weaver (LAA) 5   Hernandez (SEA) 4.9
Liriano (MIN) 4.7   Pavano (MIN) 4.9
Pavano (MIN) 4.6   Weaver (LAA) 4.8
Sabathia (NYY) 4.6   Lester (BOS) 4.6
Lester (BOS) 4.5   Price (TBR) 4.6
Wilson (TEX) 4.5   Wilson (TEX) 4.4
Guthrie (BAL) 4.4   Buchholz (BOS) 4.4
Buchholz (BOS) 4.4 . Guthrie (BAL) 4.4
      Danks (CHW) 4.4

Source: Baseball-reference.com

But wait? According to fangraphs, Sabathia still ranks eighth in WAR, two runs behind leader Francisco Liriano, not Felix Hernandez. So, what gives?

Fangraphs’ WAR

Player WAR
Francisco Liriano 6.3
Cliff Lee 6.3
Felix Hernandez 5.9
Jon Lester 5.5
Jered Weaver 5.1
Justin Verlander 5
Zack Greinke 4.8
CC Sabathia 4.3
Gavin Floyd 4.3
John Danks 4.1

Source: fangraphs.com

The “dirty little secret” about many advanced metrics is they are based on subjective variables. That’s not really a secret to those with a strong understanding of how they are calculated, but it probably comes as a surprise to more casual sabermetricians who cite the statistics as gospel. In reality, however, components such as replacement level value, positional adjustments, park factors and defensive metrics (and the underlying principles of each) are just some of the differing underlying variables that make up many of the new sabermetric approaches to analysis. In the case of WAR, which seeks to define total value, all of these components are involved. Hence the variance between different sources, not to mention the changes that occur when better data is accumulated.

There are lots of reasons to like stats like WAR, but just as many reasons to be leery of them. Without an advanced degree in statistics, it may not be easy to come to grips with concepts like regression analysis and linear weights, but that doesn’t mean the byproducts should be dismissed out of hand. By the same token, however, one should not suffer from deference to complexity. That which is not understood isn’t always right. Ultimately, the value of a statistic comes not only from its accuracy, but also its ease of application. If sabermetric proponents were more aware of that, the old school holdouts might be a lot easier to convert.

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The Yankees current road trip has been a roller coaster ride, but one with very little enjoyment. The first four games had featured more chills than thrills, and, for the most part, thrown the team for a loop. Last night, however, the Yankees were finally able to enjoy the heights as the team rebounded to reverse a recent trend of extra inning losses and reclaimed their hold on first place.

Carl Crawford slides into Arod’s waiting tag for the final out in last night’s game. Greg Golson’s throw caught the Rays’ speedster trying to tag up on Matt Joyce’s fly ball (Photo: AP).

The Yankees entered the second game of their first place showdown with a bullpen of well rested relievers, but the main question was whether Ivan Nova would pitch well enough to make their availability relevant. Over the first four innings, however, the young righty pitched so well it didn’t seem as if there would be much need for going to the pen. Nova needed only 50 pitches to breeze through the first four frames, allowing only three base runners. In the meantime, the Yankees staked the rookie to a 6-0 lead as Matt Garza struggled to solve the mystery of Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez, who went a combined 5-10 with a five RBIs and a homerun a piece.

Coming on the heels of Monday’s brutal loss, the early dominance was quite an impressive bounce back statement. Then, the fifth inning happened. After surrendering a lead off homer to Carlos Pena and then a double to BJ Upton, Nova appeared to press, especially as relievers started to jog down the left field line to begin warming in the bullpen. It was just two starts ago that Girardi pulled Nova from a game only one out from qualifying for a win, so perhaps that was still fresh on his mind? Whatever the reason, Nova eventually allowed four runs to cross the plate before once again being lifted with two outs in the fifth.

Just as he did in Nova’s start against Toronto, Girardi called upon Boone Logan to clean up the mess, but this time, Joe Maddon countered the move with the right handed bat of Willy Aybar. After jumping ahead 1-2, Boone left a slider over the plate and Aybar deposited it deep into the left field stands. In the blink of an eye, the Rays had turned a six run deficit into one-run lead and the Yankees seemed destined for another crushing defeat.

If Girardi was right about one thing in the previous night’s postgame, it was that the Yankees have plenty of resilience. Instead of hanging their heads, the team immediately tied the game in the top of the sixth, but did squander an opportunity to retake the lead when Austin Kearns struck out with the bases loaded. With the game now tied, the Yankees well rested bullpen was finally put to work, and, by the end of the night, it was a job well done.

After surrendering the go ahead home run to Aybar, Boone, who had not given up a run in 25 appearances dating back to July 18, recovered to retire the next four batters before handing off the baton to Chamberlain, Wood (whose use seemed to defy Girardi’s rule about resting a reliever that pitched in three of four games) and Robertson. That trio held the Rays hitless over the next three innings, thanks in large part to a fantastic diving catch by Granderson to end the ninth. So, the stage was set for another night of extra inning drama.

There were several points in the game when Jorge Posada’s bat could have been used off the bench, but leading off the 10th inning eventually proved to be the right time. Ahead in the count 2-0, Posada sat on a fastball and crushed it deep over the batter’s eye in center field. Ultimately, however, Posada’s heroics in the top of the inning would be overshadowed by a classic baseball blunder in the bottom.

With one out and Carl Crawford on second base, Matt Joyce lifted a lazy fly ball to Greg Golson in medium-deep right. In the previous game, Golson had trouble tracking fly balls in the dome, so this time, he gingerly approached the ball, trying to make sure not to overrun it. Considering Crawford’s speed and Golson’s position, a tag to third seemed as if it would go uncontested. However, after catching the ball, Golson took one step toward third and fired a laser throw to Alex Rodriguez, who impressively fielded the short hop and slapped the tag on Crawford to end the game.

One night after Brett Gardner ended an inning getting thrown out at third on a steal attempt, it seems hard to believe that a similar mistake would be made the very next day, especially in games of such importance between quality teams. Joe Maddon and Crawford justified the decision on the grounds that it took a great throw and an extra base against Rivera has added significance, but ultimately, questionable decision making factored into the outcome for the second straight game.

Most Consecutive Games Without Surrendering a Run, Yankees Pitchers Since 1920

  Start End Games W L SV IP
Mariano Rivera 7/22/1999 10/2/1999


2 0 20 30.2
Boone Logan 7/21/2010 9/13/2010 25 1 0 0 15.1
Steve Farr 5/29/1991 8/2/1991 23 0 0 14 26
Mariano Rivera 5/9/2005 7/4/2005 22 2 0 15 23
Mariano Rivera 6/16/2009 8/9/2009 21 0 0 18 21.1
Mike Myers 5/3/2006 7/3/2006 21 0 0 0 9.2
David Robertson 7/4/2010 8/21/2010 19 2 0 1 18.1
Jeff Nelson 6/16/1998 4/15/1999 19 3 0 1 15
Steve Howe 6/26/1994 8/9/1994 19 3 0 9 17.2
Lee Guetterman 4/6/1989 5/19/1989 19 0 0 6 29.2

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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