Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Baseball Post

Two unrelated items, both loosely Giants-related but of general baseball interest (I hope)....

1. The Giants start a series in Pittsburgh tonight; it will be the fourth consecutive series against a first place team (Dodgers, Reds, Nats, Pirates). I haven't heard anything about it, but that has to be a record, or close to it, no? It sounds like one of those things that Elias would produce and the broadcast team would use; I watched the last two games on MLB network, with the Nats feed, so perhaps I missed it.

There's no way it could have happened up through 1968, right? And it's hard to believe it could have happened in 1969-1993; it's possible, bouncing back and forth between the divisions, but still unlikely. It becomes plausible only with the three division format and interleague play. Playing consecutive series against teams from three different divisions isn't rare; the Giants have done it already quite a few times this year, and had a A's, Brewers, Fish, DBacks sequence that was four different divisions in addition to the A's, Bums, Reds, Nats sequence that they just finished. And as they showed through the current thing, you don't need to play against four different divisions to encounter four different first place teams. I'd still be more surprised if a team has ever done a streak of five than if it turns out this is the first streak of four.

2. Could the All Star Game voting break? It sure seems plausible. As you may know, it's been broken before, when Reds fans stuffed the ballot boxes in 1957. Unless I'm forgetting something (and I could be!), it hasn't happened in the modern era, but it clearly could. What would Bud Selig do if Crawford made the team? What would he do if some other team's fans wind up getting their entire starting lineup?

Now, I agree with those who say the fans have typically done a better job than what we get out of the players' vote since that began a few years ago -- in which "better" means more stars that I'd like to see. But I certainly wouldn't be surprised if that broke down in the future.Oh well; I guess I'll quit there, although I was thinking of making the case that the Panda is a legit alternative to David Wright as the starting 3B. But I'll skip that for now.

8 comments:

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  2. Vancouver Canucks fans came really close to breaking the all star voting years ago. Rory Fitzpatrick was leading for most of the season, a career journeyman who was barely playing. There's a widely-believed conspiracy theory that the NHL rigged the voting to prevent it from happening in the last week:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2007/01/rorygate.html

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  3. yeah, hitting four different first place teams seems quite difficult, judging from a quick scan of the Sox results from most of the 2000s, and a few in the 80s. the biggest problem is the way homestands and road trips are scheduled. you often play three series at home, and then the next two on your road trip are against two of those same teams. i.e.: Home CLE, TBR, NYY; Away CLE, TBR (2009, April 27-May 10). However, it should be easier at the beginning of the season (discounting your opening series, which begins with everyone in first).
    For example: in 2009, after one home opening series, the Sox went on the road to LAA and OAK, then home with BAL, MIN, and NYY, then away to CLE and TBR. I’m not checking their records, and I doubt it happened, but it could have fairly easily. But that's kind of copping out, it's not midseason, when it's more of a battle to stay in, or jump into, first.

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    1. FWIW...you could talk about playing consecutive series vs. first place teams, not needing them to be four different teams; you could also talk about them being in first at the beginning or even sometimes in the series. For the Giants, it's four different teams, plus they've been in first for each game, so it's now 11 games in a row vs. first place teams, and tomorrow will make 12...not certain yet, but likely, that Sunday will be 13.

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    2. That's extraordinary. And really the ultimate. Because most of your potential 4-team lineups are going to have to include 2 from one division, owing to travel schedules. That means you're going to have to beat one of them enough to knock them out of first, because their division rival, who jumps into first, is likely your next opponent. In the Giants' case, Washington came in between, so you had a bit more breathing room for Pittsburgh to get hot. I think you need to alert Elias.

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  4. I guess I'll quit there, although I was thinking of making the case that the Panda is a legit alternative to David Wright as the starting 3B. But I'll skip that for now.

    "Legit alternative"? As in, one of the top five third basemen in the NL this year? OK. As in, anywhere close to deserving to start over Wright on the merits of his performance? Simply - no.

    In fact, it seems that Sandoval's overwhelming election after being behind until the final few days proves that the ASG voting system is broken.

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    1. Huh? Who said anything about this year?

      The case for Sandoval is that he's been an awful good hitter over the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Wright has certainly been better this year, but last year was pretty ordinary. Now, it's also true that Sandoval missed a six weeks both years, so in terms of value on the field, he's still going to come up short. The definition of "best" that gives Sandoval a fighting chance involves something like...best current ability based on the last year and a half, but either not counting health as a factor or, more plausibly, saying that his past health problems were freak injuries that don't say anything about his current ability to stay healthy, in part because he's certainly not going to break a hamate bone again. And Wright was hurt last year, too.

      Put it another way: here they are over Sandoval's four full seasons in OPS+ (* for this year's half-season):

      Wright 179* 131 124 116
      Panda 156 145* 144 99

      That looks relatively close to me.

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  5. Like with many topics about the All Star Game, remove the absurd connection between who wins and home field advantage in the World Series and we wouldn't have to care.

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