Posts Tagged ‘Don Sevcik’

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”


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

Taking Note

October 1, 2009

September 29, 2009

To all my baseball-speaking friends, I write from Chicago, the center of the baseball universe, the only city where teams from both leagues have played since 1900 (that makes 220 seasons, exactly half of which I’ve been privileged to see unfold), home of the White Sox (formerly the White Stockings), the Cubs (formerly the White Stockings!), and Don Sevcik’s Barry Code.

At the Don’s gracious invitation (see Michael Coreolone, Godfather III” “They keep pulling me back” scene), I will share a note-taking of what I take note, beginning here with herewith an ample example from today’s games, which I call “A Tale of Two Homers” . . . .

As Chris Iannetta’s thrilling pinch-hit 11th-inning home run cleared the right field fence to ensure Colorado’s 7-5 win over the Brewers (an hour after Huston Street nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory for the Rockies, and two hours following the season’s most unnerving “Go Cubs Go” denial rendition by the usual capacity Wrigley Field crowd), I realized that a formerly unimaginable feat of futility touching two centuries had come to pass:  those wriggly cubbies were ensured of finishing a tenth straight full decade without a World Series triumph, today being clinched away from playoff play!  (Conjure the 1909 Cub fan, disappointed his team could not repeat their title run!  Who could know the non-title streak could and would grow to over 100 years?)

Another case of a non-Chicago game being drawn back to the equator of Chicago baseball history was the Twins-Tiger division showdown this afternoon in Detroit.  Chicagoan Curtis Granderson unwittingly made sure Hall of Fame Soxer Hoyt Wilhelm’s unnoticed relief record streak of 5 straight under 2.00 ERA seasons was safe when his seemingly futile homer settled in the seats against the great Joe Nathan, consigning the Minnesota right-hander to no more than 3 such consecutive years, despite saving the 3-2 win.

How all baseball roads lead to Chicago!  How about this bit of essentia (opposite of trivia!)?  Two All Star sluggers, homer and RBI leaders during AL careers, playing their penultimate seasons in Chicago, both with a 1.000 W/L pct. and ERA under 2.00, pitching in their final big league seasons.  Hint:  Each had a previous season pitching with ERA of 0.00!  Answer:  Jimmie Foxx and Rocky Colavito (Foxx played for Cubs, Colavito for Sox).

Speaking of the Sox, this current and last week of baseball’s latest season and decade has, of course, both 20th and 21st century Chicago written all over it.  Hearing the season-ending fascination with Yankee and Angel offensive juggernauts reminds me to remind you that the top scoring team of this decade–and the only one to score more than 6 runs per game (unless the Yanks average 20 runs per game their last 4)–was indeed the Frank Thomas-led 2000 Chicago White Sox.  And (too strangely) coincidentally, the highest scoring team of the first 10 years of the 1900s was a White Sox club also playing in their first year of that decade, averaging nearly 6 runs per game!  (A good springboard to peruse the Don’s “Team Stats” comparisons, with similar BOPs and BAMs, despite a nearly 200-homer difference between the 100-year-apart Sox sockers!)

Another high comedy highlight from the West Coast night:  ex-Sox and Cub David Aardsma (first in baseball history’s alphabet–move over, Henry!) closing out Seattle’s 6-4 victory over Oakland, assuring both a losing season and last place finish for the movie-minded Moneyball A’s of guru Billy Beane!

Thanks all, for all!