Before we start, a very important update to an earlier post. Longtime readers of the annotated box score remember when I featured a pistachio commercial that aired during last year’s World Series, and the press release written in coordination with it — specifically, that Big Pistachio was excited to make a “statement-making entrance into the salty snack category.” Their latest statement comes with an exclamation point:
This season, the folks at Paramount have put their “Wonderful Pistachios” in 11 ballparks, including Petco (Padres), Fenway (Red Sox), Citi (Mets), Citizens Bank (Phillies), Great American (Reds) and Dodger Stadium.
“A baseball fan is used to having a nut in his or her hand,” said Dominic Engels, vice president of global marketing for Paramount. “We’re presenting them with the pistachio, which they might not have thought of before.”
Pistachio news, very important. Follow Dominic Engels on Twitter. He claims he eats pistachios with at least two meals a day.
On to the box score!
I heard John Kruk the other day on the radio say this:
“The Yankees and the Red Sox, they expect to play each other in the World Series.”
Which is obviously just a misspeak, but it makes for an interesting thought experiment. What if the Yankees and the Red Sox were in their own league? And they did play each other in their own World Series, which would probably set all sorts of records for smugness and would definitely be a great place to run advertisements for inexplicably green caps (more on that later), but would also feature a good portion of the best players in the world. And then all the other teams would play each other in a separate league, and after the season each league would create an All-Star team and those teams would play each other in some sort of one-game exhibition to raise money for tsunami relief. Who would win that one-game exhibition?
Probably the stars. But this needs more math, so I got all scientific on it.
I asked Xeifrank of DodgersSims.blogspot.com to simulate this game for me*. I created the rosters and chose the venue (Kansas City — neutral park, DH), and he ran 100,000 simulations.
To be consistent, I picked the best player for each position based entirely on Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections for 2011, taking the player with the highest WARP. I cheated a little bit for one position — shortstop — but only because Alex Rodriguez is at least a plausible option at the position. (I also considered Pedroia there.) Otherwise, I kept everybody at their positions. Here are the lineups:
|Kevin Youkilis, 3B||1||Carlos Gonzalez, CF|
|Robinson Cano, 2B||2||Troy Tulowitzki, SS|
|Alex Rodriguez, SS||3||Albert Pujols, 1B|
|Adrian Gonzalez, 1B||4||Ryan Braun, LF|
|Nick Swisher, RF||5||Adam Dunn, DH|
|Carl Crawford, LF||6||Nelson Cruz, RF|
|David Ortiz, DH||7||David Wright, 3B|
|Russell Martin, C||8||Joe Mauer, C|
|Curtis Granderson, CF||9||Ian Kinsler, 2B|
Roy Halladay and CC Sabathia are the starters. Mariano Rivera and Rafael Soriano are available out of the bullpen, as are Joe Nathan and Hong-Chih Kuo. The rest of the bullpen is staffed by league-average stand-ins. The results:
The YankSox would do pretty freaking well. They would win 46 percent of the time, which translates to a 74-win team over a full season against the very best players in Major League Baseball. (I only staffed each team for one game, of course, but go with me.) Further, the YankSox are actually favored when they are playing at home: They win 50.3 percent of the time. And that’s despite not being able to use such stars as Mark Teixeira, Jon Lester and Dustin Pedroia, who are blocked by just slightly better options.
The average score: 4.4 to 4.
Here are the average stats for each player in the game, if you’re interested. Some other things that I loved about the results:
- Albert Pujols would have a .377 wOBA (weighted on base average, an everything stat) even if he never faced any starting pitcher besides CC Sabathia. Evan Longoria’s wOBA in 2010 was .376.
- The league-average reliever had an ERA of 3.93 last year. The league-average reliever facing the stars in our simulated game had an ERA of 5.46.
- David Ortiz, somewhat surprisingly, leads everybody in the game in simulated home runs. Probably because he would almost never have to face a left-handed pitcher. Ortiz had a 1.059 OPS against righties, with 30 home runs, in 2010. He had a .599 OPS, with two home runs, against lefties.
- I went with Russell Martin as the catcher because I wanted to stay consistent/objective with how I chose players. But Xeifrank used his own projection system, which seems to like Martin a lot less than PECOTA does. (Martin hit .239 in this simulation, with a .279 wOBA — that’s basically what Jason Kendall did last year.) If one of these teams could somehow add Joe Mauer or Brian McCann, I wonder how much of the gap between the YankSox and the Stars would close. Actually, I wonder how much it would close if we’d just used PECOTA’s rosier assessment of Martin.
I was going to do something on how Brett Gardner in 2010 saw more pitches per plate appearance than any player since they started recording such things ever had, and how Gardner is so out of place compared to the sluggers who make up the rest of the top 10. Then I saw who is No. 5:
10. Jack Cust, 2007, 4.40
9. Bobby Abreu, 2007, 4.40
8. Daric Barton, 2010, 4.40
7. Kevin Youkilis, 2009, 4.43
6. Kevin Youkilis, 2006, 4.43
5. Reggie Willits, 2007, 4.45
4. Bobby Abreu, 2006, 4.46
3. Jayson Werth, 2009, 4.50
2. Nick Swisher, 2008, 4.53
1. Gardner, 2010, 4.61
Gardner saw 13 pitches in four at bats Sunday, an average of 3.25 per plate appearance.
No two teams have more ugly merchandise for sale at MLB.com than Boston and New York. There’s this hat and this shirt and these boxers and this hat and this beanie and this visor and this (!!!) shirt. But most of those are clearly only manufactured to try to edge into the $300 billion white elephant gift industry. You never see anybody wearing them. The green Red Sox hat, though, has somehow become almost totally mainstream. Incredible.
Definitely wear what you want, guys. You’re adults. And no matter what you put on, if you wear it confidently, it’ll look good. But you should stop wearing those hats.
David Ortiz’ GIDP.
With the bulk of that bat landing right near the pitcher’s mound.
A couple things on broken bats. One is that broken bats have been decreasing since 2008. At the peak, roughly seven bats per day were shattered into multiple fragments across Major League baseball. “Researchers have found that the number of shattered bats has decreased by nearly half since its high point in 2008.”
Secondly, it’s no surprise that Bill James has an interesting solution to the problem that remains, as well as the related issue of batters flinging their bats into the stands.
A really, really simple solution that is absolutely certain to work. You make a rule that if the bat OR ANY PART OF THE BAT is thrown by the batter more than 40 feet from home plate, the batter is automatically out, and it goes as a strikeout. If you do that, I guarantee you that hitters will discover real quick that a) they CAN hold on to the bat, and b) they can find bats that don’t shatter on contact. The absence of such a rule allows the batter to get the benefits of a vicious cut and a bat designed for maximum bat speed, but excuses him the dangerous consequences of this combination. That’s unnatural. The natural thing is simply to hold the batter responsible for the bat.
Yankees and Red Sox.
Get used to these teams. ESPN has 11 Sunday Night Baseball games scheduled, and the Red Sox and Yankees are all over them. In fact, there isn’t a single American League or interleague game scheduled that doesn’t include one of these teams, and, like this week’s game, the May 15 game has ‘em both. Of course, this TV revenue is shared equally among all teams, so I’m not sure any of the other 28 owners are complaining. Historical TV ratings for these games aren’t the easiest thing to find, but I did find the ratings for most of one season and charted them:
That’s a huge difference. The average game with Boston and New York got 4.1 million viewers, while the rest of the Sunday night schedule averaged 2.4 million.
Check out those Angels games. Their four games — including one against Boston — averaged 1.7 million viewers, and their game against the White Sox got 1.1 million. This was back in 2008 when the Angels were relevant, winning 100 games that year, and yet just one-fourth as many people watched them play on Sunday Night. Here’s some other shows that got 1.1 million viewers:
- Heidi Klum’s “Seriously Funny Kids” show on Lifetime.
- A gospel singing show on BET called “Sunday Best.”
- The first airing of the 2010 Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet.
Meanwhile, the 4.2 million viewers for the Yankees/Red Sox is comparable to Conan O’Brien’s debut on TBS. So, yeah, complain about the omnipresence of Boston and New York on ESPN. But if the programming director for ESPN ever opts to air an Angels game (or a Blue Jays game, or haha a Royals game) instead of Boston/New York, he or she should probably be fired.
• Loose end that didn’t fit anywhere: The Boston Public Library is publishing nearly 3,000 photos of the Red Sox taken by Boston Herald photographer Leslie Jones between 1917 and 1956. The first 100 are up, and they are absolutely glorious. Seriously, best thing on the web right this week.
• And BIG THANKS to Xeifrank. He’s great and he’s on Twitter.
*Description of what Xeifrank’s simulator considers: “The simulator takes into account such things as defense, park factors, home field advantage, pitchers tiring and a proprietary set of hitter and pitcher projections that are calibrated on a daily basis.”