Thinking Out Loud

Randy Wolf has a chance to pitch forever.   He’s still going strong as a reliever, but if he ever chooses to (or has to) go to the bullpen, he’ll be a lights-out LOOGY.  His numbers against left-handed hitters are almost unbelievable.   Heading into Monday’s game against the Rockies lefties were just 7-70 against him (.100 BAA).  Of those 70 AB’s … 34 ended in a strikeout.  That’s outstanding.  In his career he’s averaging over 10K’s per 9 IP against lefties so this isn’t a new thing.

I used to think that batting average was the most hollow of all statistics.  I’ve changed my mind.  It’s RBI.  Runs Batted In is a product of opportunity.  For RBI to have relevance, it should be computed as a percentage.  What percentage of runners on base does a batter drive in?  Then you can compare players who hit in stacked lineups versus players who don’t.  Players who frequently come to the plate with runners on the base-paths … versus guys with fewer opportunities.  There’s an old baseball adage, “Don’t tell me what you hit … tell me when you hit.”  This takes that adage and gives it a modern spin.

The best baseball mascot I’ve ever seen?  It no longer exists except in my mind … but back in the late 90’s in the independent Western League the Sonoma County Crushers struck gold.  The Crushers got their name because of the many wineries in the area (crushing grapes).  Well, the mascot also came from local lore as well.  It was a yeti.  A massive, hairy beast that went by the name of The Abominable Sonoman.  The name was a ringing double, but the costume was a home run.  This hairy-thing had a spot-on costume complete with purple feet stained from crushing grapes.  Perfection.
 
I love the straight steal.  In late-game, looking-for-one-run situations, why give up an out with a sacrifice bunt, if you have an average to above-average runner on first base?  Pressure the pitcher and catcher.  Make them throw you out on a straight steal.  It takes either a smartly-called pitchout, or a close-to-perfect pitch, throw, and tag to get the base runner.  In my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. 
 
Tampa Bay has figured this out.  Joe Maddon is playing chess when everyone else is playing checkers.
 
I’m a trivia guy.  Baseball players generally are not.  But there are exceptions.  The player with the most interest in baseball trivia that I’ve met?  Albert Belle.  No doubt about it.
 
Looking back at the last thirty years, I think I could make a case that Rickey Henderson influenced the games that he played in more than anyone else.  I’m not sure that Rickey H. is respected enough for the career that he had.  If you get a chance, take a look at his numbers.
 
While looking at numbers, take a look at the only “perfect” player in MLB history.

– Eric Collins

5 Comments

This stream of consciousness post is like the shovelware DVDs at the 99cent store. It seems like you are just piling up whatever you can think of until you reached a certain amount of words. Why don’t you just pick one of these thoughts and expand upon it enough for it to be a complete post on its own? And ask yourself, “Would Vin Scully ever post the acronym LOOGY by itself?” I don’t think so, Vinny would realize that it is a marginal term used only by baseball nerds and that the average fan is more likely to associate it with a disgusting discharge spit by a player when he is in a close up on national TV. Go ahead and use the term, but have the thoughtfulness to add the parenthetical comment (Lefty One Out GuY)

P.S. RED PEN – In second sentence: reliever s/b starter

32and53fan- Kinda rude going all English teacher on Eric here. The guy is thoughtful enough to open up a line of communication with the viewers… I don’t think he needs to be held to any serious journalistic standards. Go pick on Buster Olney who blogs the same way.

Eric- Thanks for beating on the drum on the flaws in RBI. Of course RBI as a % of opportunities is essentially AVG with RISP. And that assigns value to clutch hitting which is dubious, and excludes the value of OBP. Contact hitters like Garrett Anderson are going to rack up RBI while making gobs of outs on balls in play. What about the leadoff double that gets stranded on 2B? RBI treats this as a non-event. It all just keeps pointing back to OBP and SLG as pure metrics that reflect the talent of the hitter, independent of the guys around him. Of course OBP & SLG are linked to the flaky AVG stat. So it’s important to acknowledge walk rate and isolated power. Love your open-minded approach. Keep up the good work!

I was just pointing out that he probably meant to say starter instead of reliever in case he wanted to go back in and edit his post.

Shovelware may have been a bit harsh. All of his paragraphs on their own were fine. It just seemed a little disjointed all together like that. Maybe Eric has been reading too many game notes press releases and it has influenced his writing style.

Nothing wrong with rambling on. There’s only one Vin Scully.
I’m glad the Dodgers got Wolf back this year. I was sad to see him go when he did. He’s a guy who’s earned the right at this point to pitch on better teams, like Greg Maddux. Wolf’s got nothing left to prove and just can go out there and pitch his best and try to sunset his career in fine fashion.
Talking about RBIs I made jokes the other day about how Matt Kemp went 3-4 in a game but didn’t drive in a single run. Why? Andre Ethier hit 3 home runs in that game batting right before him. Too bad for Kemp but good for the Dodgers. I don’t think Kemp minded at all though.

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