Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pitcher's Park?

The Athletics moved to Oakland in 1968 from Kansas City.  Since then, here's what the A's have compiled.  It's a startling list:

Oakland Coliseum, Oakland A's

44 seasons
15 division titles
1 wild card
6 AL pennants
4 World Championships
5 Cy Young Awards
7 MVP's
5 Hall of Famers
7 Rookies of the year
4 Rolaids Relief Awards
7 Home Run champions
4 ERA leaders
3 Saves leaders...

ZERO batting titles

Pitcher's Park?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Giants Franchise - Historical Greatness

I've heard some all-time franchise stats before, scattered here and there from announcers or talk show hosts.  I've wanted to collect or calculate some franchise stats for a long time now.  Fortunately the Baseball Reference [dot] com website has some sortable data that is easily accessible.

So, in case you've wondered about all-time rankings for franchises, I can tell you about a great franchise: the Giants.  The Giants are the winningest franchise in baseball history, winning more games than any other franchise, ahead by several hundred wins.  Of course, the NL is older than the AL, so it stands to reason that the Giants would have more wins than the Yankees.  The Giants are surpassed in winning percentage by only the Yankees.  The Giants have more hall-of-fame players than any other franchise, by far.  Only the Cubs have scored more runs; only the Yankees have hit more home runs; only the Yankees have won more pennants; and by the slimmest of margins, only the Dodgers have a better all-time ERA.

The Yankees, Cardinals and A's are the only teams with more World Series championships, but looking at the Giants history, they should have won more than the A's and Cards.  But they didn't.  Maybe they will pass these teams in the next decade or so (as they owe it to their starved fans).  Go Giants!

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Giants Win The World Series - Again

The Giants win the 2012 World Series!  Their second championship in three years.  I can say right now that this will never get old, as I'm sure fans of other teams have found when their teams win several in a row or in an era.

The win was in such convincing fashion, that it will be well remembered in baseball history.  They didn't only beat the best team in the AL, the Tigers were a powerhouse team with the most potent lineup, the most visible 3-4-5 hitters in the game - including the triple crown winner - and what most people consider the best pitcher in baseball.  They were picked to win it all before the season, and it came as no surprise that the Tigers put it together in the post-season.

The Giants will be remembered for winning six consecutive elimination games, three after being down 2-0 to the Reds, and three after being down 3-1 to the Cardinals.  They will also be remembered for beating Verlander in game 1, sparked by an historic three-homer game by Pablo Sandoval.  They will be remembered for pitching two consecutive shutouts against this lineup, and for striking out the triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera to win it all.  They will be remembered for Barry Zito's game 5 shutout against the Cardinals in NLCS game 5, and his victory over Justin Verlander in WS game 1.

Well, they will be remembered for lots more than that, but I'll save the detailed stats for a future post.  Keep it up Giants!  Let's try to win some more.  We can smell dynasty.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Giants Baseball Primer

For those of you who might be surprised by what you're seeing in the World Series (I'm writing this after game 2 of the 2012 series, with the Giants up two games to none on the Tigers), or this post-season for that matter, I have put together this Giants Baseball Primer to help initiate you to how Giants baseball is played.  This can also serve as a refresher course to Giants fans who are familiar with the strange happenings with the orange and black.

First, and foremost, what you are seeing is not an anomaly.  This happens all the time.  The Giants have been playing this way for a number of years now, and all their post-season accomplishments - however bizarre - have been on national TV with millions of viewers.  The Giants are not hiding anything, but all is in plain view.

The Giants have a great pitching staff.  Their 2010 World Series champion staff was the best baseball had seen since the 1965 Dodgers.  They shut down everybody.  They still have most of those pitchers here, and even though they aren't quite as good as in 2010, they can pitch the same way.

Madison Bumgarner shut the Tigers down with a two-hit shutout.  He did nearly the same thing to the mighty, mighty Rangers in 2010 game 4.  Vladimir Guerrero and Josh Hamilton were hypnotized, so it should come as no surprise that the same thing happens to Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.

The Giants have a mediocre lineup.  They have the fewest home runs of any team in baseball at home.  (But, for some reason, they hit the most road homers in the majors, out-homering their opponents on the road.  Go figure.) The Giants are so lame at the plate, they don't know what to do when the bases are loaded.  Most teams do better with runners in scoring position, but the Giants do worse.  They do what comes naturally to them: they make outs.  Look at last night's game.  They scored only two runs, and they made three outs on those two plays.  Grounding into a double play with the bases loaded, and a flyout with the bases loaded.  Game over.  Again, this should come as no surprise, as they beat the Reds in 2012 LDS game 3 by making outs, and did so many times against the Cardinals in the NLCS.  A great pitching staff plus a mediocre lineup plus a pitcher's park equals low scoring games.

According to the Transitive Property of Equality, if A=B and B=C, then A=C.  Let's apply this to the Giants:  San Francisco is the weirdest place on the face of the earth.  San Franciscans are the weirdest people on the face of the earth.  Twenty five of the weirdest baseball players are on the Giants roster.  Halloween is orange and black.  The Giants are orange and black.  Every day is Halloween in San Francisco.  The weirdest things happen in San Francisco.  Pitchers are blown off the mound in All-Star games.  Earthquakes happen during World Series.  Bridges collapse.  Stadium lights go out at bizarre times.  I could go on and could write a book about this.  But I think you get my point.  Don't be surprized when things happen that are normally surprising elsewhere.  They always happen here.  No exceptions.

If your pitcher is pitching a no-hitter into the late innings of a close game, YOU WILL LOSE.  This always happens.  Derek Lowe of the Braves found this out in the 2010 NLDS.  Roy Halliday of the Phillies found this out in game 1 of the 2010 NLCS.  Homer Bailey of the Reds found this out in game 3 of the 2012 NLDS.

The longer a game is scoreless, the better the odds of a Giants victory.  The Giants are used to low-scoring, nail-biting one run games.  As last night's game went scoreless into the sixth inning, I knew the Giants would win.  They KNOW late inning scoreless games.  They live them and breathe them.  The list here is too long to post.  Remember Cliff Lee vs. Tim Limcecum in game 5 of the 2010 World Series?

Our games start when the rest of the country goes to bed.  The Giants silently put together winning teams while east coast media sleeps.  They should be warning people of how the Giants play, but they don't.

Lastly, the worst strategy to use against the Giants in post season is: "We're going with what got us here."  Doesn't work very well.

This concludes my Giants Baseball Primer.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mathematical Elimination

Most websites that carry the Major League standings these days have a column with an elimination number.  Looking at this number from the point of view of the first place team, it can also be called the "magic number."  This is the number of games the first place team wins plus the losses of the team in question that will total the elimination number.

But there's a factor missing in "mathematical elimination" that I wish would appear in the elimination number.  I will explain.

Scenario #1:  Suppose Team A is in first place, two games ahead of Team B with three games left to play.  Team A's magic number (which is the same as Team B's "elimination number") would be two.  Team B can win the division if they win their three games and Team A loses its three.  Or the could tie and Team B could win a playoff game.  That's simple. 

Scenario #2:  Now suppose Teams A and B are tied for first place, and Team C is two back with three to play.  Team C has an elimination number of two, but both Team A and Team B have magic numbers of four against each other.  Well, in this case it is less likely, but if Team C wins all its games and both Team A and Team B lose their games, Team C still will win the division.  In this scenario, Team C still has a chance.

Scenario #3:  Well, there's a potential catch to scenario #2.  What if Team A plays Team B the last three games of the year?  Even though Team C is only two back with three to play, because one of the teams, A or B, necessarily will win at least two of three against the other, Team C has already been mathematically eliminated!  Their "elimination number" is still two, but it's impossible for them to win.  They were already eliminated at least from the previous game played.  Elimination numbers don't take into consideration the number of games played between multiple teams in front of that given team.  And if there are more than two teams ahead of the given team, it becomes even more complex.  In short, the problem is that guaranteed future wins are not counted in the elimination number.

A real life example came from 1989.  With a month left in the season, the Giants were 5 games up on the Padres.  A short news clip noted that the woeful Braves were mathematically eliminated the previous day.  The assumption was that the Braves could have won all their remaining games, the Giants would lose all their games, and the Padres would lose all games but at most five.  A three-way tie would result and the Braves could win a tie-breaker.  But upon looking at the schedule, I saw that the Giants and Padres still had six games against each other to play.  How could the Giants lose all six and the Padres win five at most?  Only if both teams lost the same game, which couldn't happen.  So I figured out that the Braves were actually eliminated the day before that.

How can the real elimination number be calculated?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Interleague Rivalry Matchups for 2013

In my last post, I said I would publish a list of interleague rivalries, those interleague matchups that will (or probably will) occur every year, regardless of which divisions play each other.  These rivalries in 2013 will consist of a home-and-away four game series, two games in each city, in the last week of May.  Here is a list of all rivalries, with American League team listed first.  The first five rivalries will be the five pairs of teams that play in the same metro area, followed by the rivalries that play in the same state, followed by all the rest.  Then some notes.

New York Yankees / New York Mets
Los Angeles Angels / Los Angeles Dodgers
Chicago White Sox / Chicago Cubs
Oakland A's / San Francisco Giants
Baltimore Orioles / Washington Nationals

Tampa Bay Rays / Miami Marlins
Cleveland Indians / Cincinnati Reds
Kansas City Royals / St. Louis Cardinals

Seattle Mariners / San Diego Padres
Boston Red Sox / Philadelphia Phillies
Toronto Blue Jays / Atlanta Braves
Minnesota Twins / Milwaukee Brewers
Detroit Tigers / Pittsburgh Pirates
Texas Rangers / Arizona Diamondbacks
Houston Astros / Colorado Rockies

Notes: The Texas Rangers and Houston Astros were longtime interleague rivals, both being from Texas, but now the new realignment has moved them into the same division. Each of them has a new National League rival.  The groups that don't have a natural rivalry built-in seem a bit forced, but what else can baseball do?  I'm not sure long lasting rivalries will be created between these teams, but you never know.  Detroit and Pittsburgh are only a few hundred miles apart, and the Twins/Brewers pairing might be helped by the already existing Vikings/Packers rivalry from the NFL.  Not to mention college football.  Toronto and Atlanta played against each other in the World Series, and Seattle and San Diego share an ocean.  Boston and Philly are large east coast cities that could make a good rivalry.  The last two sets I have no hope for.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The 2013 Season Schedule

The new 2013 season schedule is out!  I've checked it out (for all 30 teams to some small degree) to see how it deals with the new realignment.  The Houston Astros will be moving from the NL Central to the AL West next year, and each league will have 15 teams, and each division in baseball will have 5 teams.

I believe in an unbalanced, yet symmetrical, schedule.  Baseball history was full of such a thing until 1977 when the American League expanded from 12 to 14 teams.  Well, the new schedule has a number of surprises, some seem good, others not so.

I believe in an unbalanced schedule simply because if you have divisions and a balanced schedule, the divisions are meaningless.  You simply need to play more games against teams in your own division.  Otherwise, just have one league and x number of playoff teams.

I believe in a symmetrical schedule simply because it fosters a level playing field for all teams.  If the schedule is asymmetrical, there will be built-in bias for some teams.

Okay, enough of that.  Let's get to the schedule.  The schedule is unbalanced, and slightly asymmetrical.  The schedule retains the traditional 162 games for each team.  It seems that each team plays the other teams in its own division a total of 19 times each.  Ten in one park, nine in the other.  Nineteen games times four other teams equals 76 division games.  Each team plays the other ten non-division teams in its own league either 6 times (against four of the teams) or 7 times (against six of the teams) for a total of 66 out-of-division league games. 

Interleague features for the very first time that each team in a division plays each team in the other league's matching division, and only that division.  (Except for "rivalry" matchups which I will get to next.)  Each team in a division plays the teams in the other division a mix of games: three games each against four of the five teams, then two separate two-game series - home and away - (for a total of four games) against the fifth team.  This totals 16 interleague games against the selected division to be played that year.  In addition, because each league has an odd number of teams, every series during the year will see at least one interleague matchup, including opening day and the last series of the season.

Finally, the "rivalry" interleague games.  For the first time ever, every team in baseball has a rivalry team in the other league.  This is because the number of teams in each league are the same.  I will provide a separate post listing those rival matches.  Here's the cool thing about the rivalry matchups.  All rivalry series in baseball will be played simultaneously.  The last week of May, starting with Memorial Day, will see a four game series (M, Tu, W and Th) between each rivalry.  But, it will be a four game home-and-away series!  The first two games on Monday and Tuesday will be in the park of one team, and the second two games will be in the park of the other team!  This means that the metro areas that share two teams (and thus are rival teams) will play four games completely within the metro area.  I will develop this, again, in a subsequent post.  Also, I noticed a scheduled day-night double header during one of the rivalry series.  I'll tell which teams at a later time.

So, each team it seems will play 76 division games, 66 inter-division games, 16 interleague divisional matchup games, and four interleague rivalry games, for a total of 162 games.  As strange as some of the things are in this schedule, the relative symmetry compared to schedules past is far preferable to there being an interleague matchup each day of the season, as an example.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Giants All-Star Game Pitchers

As a life long Giants fan, I am grateful for their discovery of pitching in the last ten years.  Prior to the end of the Bonds era, the Giants were known for one thing: hitting.  Their long time fight song, "Bye Bye Baby" (please click on the link and treat yourself to a one-minute classic) is about the home run.  And their players have shown this.

Jason Schmidt ended a multi-generational fixation with the bat.  He was the first ace/stud/stopper the Giants had since Juan Marichal.  And the Giants were the only team in baseball during this era without one.  This one-sided approach to baseball - all time slugging greats amassing zero World Championships - showed its colors well in the Mid-Summer Classic.

In the 20 year period prior to Jason Schmidt's transformation of a franchise, some pretty amazingly abysmal statistics can be found for Giants pitchers in the All-Star game.  And I found them.

In the 20 years from 1983 to 2002, 13 Giants pitchers were selected to the NL All-Star team.  They made 10 appearances, for a total of 9.1 innings.  That's less than an inning per appearance!  And they were horrifying.  Almost all of them.  Only Mike Krukow pitched an inning without allowing the AL to score.  Okay, imagine those 9.1 innings as one nine-inning game.  Check out these statistics:

   G    W    L   ERA    IP    R    H    ER    HR  OPP     AVG
  10    0    3 18.32   9.1    21   24    19     5*  .462

(*Including the only grand slam ever)

And check out these ERA's:

 Mike Krukow   0.00
 Rod Beck   4.50
 Robb Nen   9.00
 Rick Reuschel  18.00
 Shawn Estes  18.00
 John Burkett  40.50
 Jeff Brantley  54.00
 Atlee Hammaker  94.50

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Giant All-Star Game

I've watched nearly every All-Star game of my life.  I've attended two.  And I have never seen the players and situations surrounding one team dominate the game in the way the Giants dominated this year's Mid-Summer Classic.

First, your fans step up to the plate and help vote three starters in.  Then, your pitcher is picked to start the game.  In the first inning, one of your players gets the first hit of the game.  He then scores the first run of the game.  This sparks a rally.  Later in the inning, another of your players walks to load the bases, then immediately after that another of your players hits a three-run triple.  He then scores on the next play.  All this is done against the other league's best pitcher, who is starting for them.

Because of this first inning eruption, and the fact that the game results in a shutout, your pitcher gets the win.  And, the player that got the first hit and run later hits a two-run homer.  Every run of the game but one is either scored, knocked in, or both, by players from your team.  A player in the dugout from your hated arch rival is overheard on national television note that this game has become your team's show.

Finally, your player that scores the first and last runs of the game wins the MVP award, and you have just obtained him this off season via trade from the team that is hosting the game.

I'm not sure how it's possible to do more.  Hopefully they just earned home field advantage for themselves.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How To Heckle Tony Gwynn, Jr

"Hey, Gwynn...your dad was a good player."

I tried this out last night in the centerfield bleachers at the Giants/Dodgers game.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Moving Down

A rite of childhood is moving down to the box seats in the late innings once all the rich people have gone home.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Today being Cinco de Mayo, the Giants wore their Spanish language jerseys with "GIGANTES" appearing across the front.  Now, I wonder why the Brewers didn't wear their "CERVECEROS" Spanish jerseys.  Hmmm...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

New Ballpark in Miami

Watching Opening Night in Miami and the new Marlins' park, Marlins Park.  It looks comtemporary and I'm glad it has a Miami flavor.  I haven't been able to look at all the features as the game progresses, so I'll have to visit someday.  I'll have to visit regardless.  I've also updated my ballpark list.

Now the Oakland A's are the only team remaining in MLB that share a ballpark with an NFL team.  Wonder how long that will last?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Granny Ramirez Coming To the Ballpark Closest to My House

Manny Ramirez is coming to the Swingin' A's?  With being much older and with much less testosterone, I've decided to call him "Granny."  And yes, living east of both San Francisco and Oakland means that Oakland has the closest ML team to my place.  So, I'll endeavor to attend a few A's games and see Manny, my seven year old's birthday and Christmas card money saved to buy Giants tickets notwithstanding.

It is a low risk move by Guillermo Frijole, even with the 50 game suspension to be served out of the green and gold.  And I can't wait to see if Manny will wear a green bandana or a gold one.  Maybe he'll wear both, alternating the complimentary color matched with the uniform color.  And I would die laughing if he led the Athletics to a World Series title, even though I would accept it.

Let's see what excitement he will bring to the city by the other side of the bay.