Posts Tagged ‘Babe Ruth’

Close to Opening!

April 1, 2010

For Hayden Sidd and his amazing stats

With each batter’s swing, baseball comes closer to that real spring ensuing with Opening Day.  Leaving behind the artificial stimulation of computer simulation (so as not to promote endless fantasy over incomparable reality), presently we will not need to warily open each day to a sentence of gaudily flawed diamond numerals.  For baseball begins yet again, destroying the finalities of its soothsayers with its annual renewal.

This foolhardy day seems the perfect time to reveal the formula that, by its pedigree of unerring accuracy, is guaranteed to assure the name of this year’s World Champion, while rightfully giving the game back to its real players for the usual miraculous unfolding of the season.

Now, when herds of unsheepish fans are rooting for themselves (and the authenticity of their baseball expertise) in the guise of player projections and win predictions, it may be time to appropriately reappropriate a misused, maligned seer brought forth only to justify that imposter Predictability.  But first, a bit of history is chomping at the bit.

 “Rejoice for the Good”

Pythagoras

Early in Base-Out history, simple run translations led naturally to speculative idylls, conjecturing runs and wins that I seasoned with more than a few grains of salt.  Baseball Graphics pioneer professor John Davenport was especially enthusiastic about my defensive BOP — against totals, which I often enthusiastically countered.  Nonetheless, this morning, over 30 years later, I can notice the simple “offensive bases” accumulated (TB + BB + HBP + SB + S.O.E.) model divided by 4, combined with a “defensive bases” allowed model (H + BB + HP + S.O.E. + SB – CS) translate almost perfectly for the World Champion 2009 Yankees’ dominance of 915 Runs Scored (915 on Offensive Model), 753 Runs Allowed (756 on Defensive Model).

Presaging perhaps Pythagorean W/L (but armed realistically with theoretical runs, rather than actual runs), to get theoretical wins, I played with concepts of “managerial luck” and “optimum opportunism” to account for differences in Winning and Scoring Percentages before abandoning this toy and other “childhood things” in order to salute the sanctity of the pending season’s tabula rasa.  It was time to return purposefully to stats for the original purpose of revelatory review rather than presumptuous preview, time to re-respect a world of anti-prognostication!

While eschewing both the spirit and letter of pre-analyzing Baseball Future, I also looked to that pithy Pythagoras to find his extolling of the good the basis of the GOOD (Games Outscoring Opponents Differential).  This is what we have been awaiting, that surefire figure of our rational pastime that enables us to patiently await and enjoy the full sensorium of upcoming, ongoing games without subjection to the projectionists’ premature ejaculations.

The GOOD knows that actual play on the playing fields can never be anomaly, establishing the following formula:

 GOOD = W – L

Rejoice!  The highest regular season GOOD assures post-season play.  The highest world series GOOD wins it all — every year!  So simmer down, fantasizers!  Let’em play ball—and let it all be played out, as was meant to be ever since Pythagoras of Samo walked upon what he would call “this base ball,” or what I like to call “the earth.”

 Last Year or When Worlds Collide or Why Space Ends on Closing Day

Soon, as we approach the closing day of spring training, the most recent of official games in our baseball consciousness will no longer be of the 2009 variety.  Although its mental space will be supplanted with the 2010 season, the memory of last year still has just enough room and recency to connect exhibition game participants like Jim Edmonds (who did not play in ’09) or absentees like Jermaine Dye (who did).  And just what is their currency for our embattled attention?  Another beckoning list, as they may in the next few days join those players with 20 or more homers in their final season–a powerful swansong barely avoided by free agent signers such as Jim Thome, Hank Blalock, and Johnny Gomes in the days (post-season 2009) when the sacred end of the off-season seemed so far away.

Where will Edmonds and Dye be on the fateful April 4, when the off-season and new season numbers contest for our mind’s eye?  For on that Sunday is when worlds collide:  the final Cactus League tilt between the Giants and Padres in the afternoon, the season opener that night featuring the Yanks vs. Red Sox!  Only then, will we know with alacrity and assurance whether our former All Star outfielders will be primed for destiny’s latest ledger.

Let’s recount the names of a dozen sluggers who went out in such style, with appreciation for any additions from Barry Coders.  I forecast only that The Don will be right on it with a “Last Season” link on the Barry Code to make it official.

 Here are my top 12 last-season larrupers:

  Player Team Year Total Comment
1. Dave Kingman Athletics 1986 35 No takers, many HRs
2. Ted Williams Red Sox 1960 29 SA .645
3. Mark McGwire Cardinals 2001 29 BA .187
4. Barry Bonds Giants 2007 28 Steroid bust, no trust
5. Hank Greenberg Pirates 1947 25 Greenberg Gardens gone, too
6. Roy Cullenbine Tigers 1947 25 Easily career high
7. Kirby Puckett Twins 1995 23 Tragic ending of career, life
8. Albert Belle Orioles 2000 23 Bad hip, worse attitude
9. Dave Nilsson Brewers 1999 21 Off to Australia Olympian
10. Sammy Sosa Rangers 2008 21 “Comeback year” finale
11. Will Clark Orioles/Cardinals 2000 21 Only two-teamer
12. Paul O’Neill Yankees 2001 21 20/20 treasure

 No No-Hitter ‘til 1940?  No Way!

My father’s long, tweed coat, worn with his protestations against Chicago’s winters, had its historic moment in the cold sun on April 16, 1940.  Seymour put the day’s events just behind December 7, 1941, on his amazing “I was there” list, evidently watching the first opening day no-hitter in big league history, as Bob Feller shut down the White Sox 1-0 at Comiskey Park.  Ray Mack’s game-ending, no-hit saving play “could barely be seen through the snowflakes,” Dad recalled.

Upon the 70th anniversary of the storied feat, I am not casting aspersions (in this case) on Seymour Codell’s credibility.  But (pardoning the punishing pun) I now see more:  this April is also the 110th anniversary of, let me say (contrasting respectfully the Feller claim), perhaps the very first opening day no-hitter in big league history.

             “The act will never be forgotten as long as baseball lives.  The performance of Southpaw Amole with go on record as one of the seven wonders of the national game.”

Detroit Free Press, April 20, 1900

Yet it has been forgotten, until now.  Twenty-one-year-old Doc Amole’s 8-0 whitewashing of the Detroit Tigers shocked the celebratory home crowd of nearly 5,000 as Buffalo easily prevailed in the season opener.  Amole, using “all sorts of curves and speed” went on to win 22 games for the seventh place Bisons in 1900.

Morris George Amole never pitched in another big league game after that season, dying in 1912 at the age of 33 of pulmonary arrest.  Per my previous blog mention that equated the 1900 American League’s level of play with the universally accepted 1914-15 Federal League campaigns, the 1900 American League is here and hereby recognized as a major league season.  MLB erroneously, I believe, at the time and ever since gives the 1901 A.L. its first official big league status.

Therefore, let’s stick around to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the literal White Sox opening day in Chicago.  It was April 21, 1900, and we are there (dudes) when Connie Mack’s Milwaukee Brewers beat Charles Comiskey’s White Stockings 5-4 at boisterous South Side Park.  The rest, including a World Championship against the “invincible” Cubs (formerly White Stockings) six years later in that same stadium, is history, and it all counts — on the Barry Code!

 Who’ll Win the 2010 Hitting Title—And What is That?

HA!  Hitting Average has it all over Batting Average!  Easy to compute, easy to memorize, Hitting Average was an early way to remind fans about tracking outs, while considering the type of base hits a hitter produces.  Today the HA is nothing to laugh at, playing an essential part of the base-out game we call baseball:  TB/(AB-H) does the trick!

Last season, N.L. batting champ Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins (.342 BA, .647 HA) was trounced by St. Louis Albert Pujols (.332 BA, .979 HA) for the N.L. hitting crown.  In the A.L., Joe Mauer of the Twins (.332 BA, .925 HA) was the man in both departments.

The best Hitting Average brings forth the Hitting Champion.  It’s that simple!  HA history says it all:  Tony Gwynn, with but a .693 career HA, had 8 more batting titles than hitting titles (eight to none).  Babe Ruth, with a career-leading HA of 1.049 captured 8 more hitting titles than batting titles (nine to one).  A first Ichiro Hitting Championship in the offing?  With a .650 lifetime HA, highly unlikely—but keep going, Barry Coders, there is still so much to look backward to!

 Post Scripting:

The blog is indebted to researcher Gary Velich for continuing to share his favorite Barry Code stats with other sites.  Recently, Gary asked whether I would publicly acknowledge his findings that my Runs Recounted formula (RR) correlated to actual runs better than the Runs Created and Point System totals of Bill James and Steve Mann, respectively.  Thanks, Gary, for linking me to these old acquaintances.

 In 2010 I vow to search mainly, however, for the numbers of Carlos Slim and Grigori Perelman!

 As for the estimable Mr. Velich, I became a big fan of his when, overcoming Sabermetric presuppositions by recognizing RR, Gary also confirmed that (1) the man who tripled with the bases loaded and then scored had indeed hit a more valuable three-bagger than the poor fellow who tripled with nobody on base and was stranded, and (2) the two players, while equal in individual accomplishment were, per Code Stats, unequal in team contribution.

For Gary and all Code Talkers, thanks for realizing “mere counting stats” (including ball-strike counts, scores of games, and amounts of wins) have all along contained the magical recounting stats comprising the diamond present that the past gives us to this very opening day!

 Have a great season (no fooling)!

 Barry Codell

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Encoding Essentia, Beyond Baseball’s Dementia . . . .

December 14, 2009

 Did You Not Know That?

In 1960, sitting on the bench of baseball’s worst team, the woeful 58-96 Kansas City A’s, was a second-string outfield that one day would ascend to a victorious Valhalla while remaining in danger only of unsplendid splinters. Did you not know that Dick Williams, Whitey Herzog and Hank Bauer would all one day manage World Champions? Upon announcement of Herzog’s entrance into the Hall of Fame this week, it’s a reminder to keep your eyes from the stars and look to the dugout once in a while, to conjure the improbable futures of current benchwarmers who may, like our unlikely immortals, wind up commanders in charge, winning the crown jewel of baseball bling–a World Series ring!

Speaking further of “unreckoned threes” (without resorting to Stengelese), if the pending trade of Boston’s Mike Lowell to Texas for Max Ramirez is finally approved, it would mean for the third time “Max Being Max” has been traded for a former All Star, without yet completing one major league season! Did you not know that in addition to ’07 W.S. MVP Lowell, Ramirez has already been traded for ex-big league stars Kenny Lofton and Bob Wickman? With three such transactions by the tender age of 25, Mr. M.R. has somehow, though benched in the bigs, with very little playing time, become a bastion of baseball essentia (by explanation, to be convivial, all that is not trivial!).

The recent unveiling of fascinating footage proving the National Anthem was first played during the seventh inning of Game #1 of the 1918 World Series between the visiting BoSox and the Cubs went without an essential bit of truth! Did you not know that the game was played at Comiskey Park? I thought so!

Switching to Pitching

Two Faves among Four-Inning Saves

July 19, 1955 – “Babe” Birrer earns nickname! Detroit rookie reliever Werner Joseph Birrer homers in consecutive at-bats, while hurling four shutout innings for his first big-league save, ensuring Frank Lary’s victory over the Orioles and becoming the only relief pitcher ever to save a game while hitting two home runs. Two years later, Millard Fillmore “Dixie” Howell of the White Sox (like Hank Bauer, a WW II hero) becomes the only reliever in history to win a game while hitting two homers.   Howell’s power display at Comiskey Park on June 16, 1957, is linked forever in my diamond mind with another favorite two-homer day for a ‘50s Sox left-handed hitter, all four landing in the distant right-field stands. On June 24, 1956, Hall of Fame centerfielder Larry Doby hit three-run homers in the first inning of each game of a White Sox double-header sweep over those Damn Yankees! And is this day, the anniversary of L.D.’s birth, December 13, 1925, not the right one to remember a slugging feat of that classy, history-making man?)

July 13, 1963 – Cleveland’s Jerry Walker pitches four scoreless frames to save the coveted 300th (and final) career win of the great, late Early Wynn!  Early’s precious 7-4 win over K.C. was his sole victory in 1963, and Jerry’s razor-sharp rescue was his lone save of the year, as well as the last of his career.  Historically, as AL All Star teammates in 1959, Wynn and Walker had already made their mark together.  Through the two All Star games of that year, starters Wynn of the White Sox and Walker of the Orioles proceeded to become, respectively, the oldest (Early,game 1) and youngest (Jerry,game 2) players ever to be in starting All Star Game lineups.  Ironically, in game 2, “Old Gus” relieved for youngest ever winning pitcher Walker in preparation, it seems, for their milestone win-and-save high-wire act!

What ties together these two historic saves and humbles even the most casual box score scanner (which I do not claim to be) are the pitching lines for the two games for the four aforementioned righties, perfectly mirroring each other, all 24 numerical entries in place!

Game No. 1 IP H R ER BB SO
Lary 5 6 4 4 3 3
Birrer 4 3 0 0 2 2
Game No. 2 IP H R ER BB SO
Wynn 5 6 4 4 3 3
Walker 4 3 0 0 2 2

Raves for “More Than Four Innings” Saves

June 1, 1920 – Hank “Lefty” Thormahlen pitches five relief innings in the Yankees 14-7 win over the Senators, saving the victory for George Herman Ruth (4IP, 4R, 2ER). The Babe’s only pitching appearance during his phenomenal 54-homer 1920 campaign is historically significant to this day, as he is the only pitcher (minimum 10 seasons pitched) to have had a winning season each year for each team he pitched for, a tribute to his underrated moundsmanship and the strange official scoring of that fateful June afternoon.

The man who is tied with Early Wynn at exactly 300 career wins, Robert Moses “Lefty” Grove is credited with the longest save in World Series annals. On October 9, 1929, in Chicago’s Wrigley Field, young Moses rescued “Swarthmore Smoothie” George Earnshaw, to preserve Game 2 laurels for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia crew, tossing 4-1/3 shutout innings following Earnshaw’s 4-2/3 IP, 3ER showing during the A’s 8-3 besting of the cursed Cubs.

Orioles Succumb to Two Strange Saves, But Prevent the Strangest

September 3, 2002Joaquin Benoit pitches seven innings of one-run ball to secure history’s longest save vs. the Birds.

August 22, 2007 – The highest scoring total by any team in one game saw the Rangers beat the Orioles 30-3 (after spotting Baltimore a 3-run lead), yet requiring a 3-inning save by Wes Littleton.

May 18, 1957 – With one minute to go before curfew ends the game in Baltimore, White Sox reliever Paul LaPalme does not hold the ball (or throw it to the screen!) but instead yields a homer to none other than Mr. Dick Williams, losing a save and 4-3 Sox win with a misguided pitch.

Two Cinch Series Saves

October 1, 1959Gerry Staley saves it for Early Wynn (11-0 White Sox over Dodgers) with 2 IP.

October 6, 1960 Bobby Shantz 2/3 inning preserves 16-3 win for Bob Turley, Yankees over Pirates.

In closing, thanks to Don Sevcik, my W-L differential (a simple significance) listings are on the Barry Code Boards, showing Randy Johnson and Jack Chesbro winning major league titles, pitching in both leagues, and Grover Cleveland Alexander capturing three straight. And speaking for all the other otherwise unacknowledged leaders, thanks to all for checking it out!

For Nathan Thurm and Johnny Sturm,Barry Codell…..