Reaffirming My Love Of Dan Haren (Stolen Goods)

Last year, I called Dan Haren incredibly consistent and cited a little bit of pitch FX data.

Today, Mike Fast of The Hardball Times quantified how consistent Dan Haren is on a macro-graphing scale. Worth reading if you want to know just how consistent and accurate with a baseball Dan Haren is.

Best TV Shows of 2010

Although 2010 is only halfway over, there have been some great TV so far. And with shows like Mad Men just coming back, the second half of 2010 looks very bright. Here is my list of the greatest shows of the year.

A quick disclaimer before we begin, a TV show must fulfill the following qualifications in order to make the list
- The show must have aired at least one episode, or is officially slated to air at least one episode in 2010
- The show will be judged based upon where the series stands at this point in time, not what the series have done in the past
- This list consists of only shows I watch. And while I watch a lot of TV, there's just no way in hell I can watch every single TV series. So I'm sure I have left off one of your favorite shows.
- I have never seen Lost. So any GOI fans who want to comment on how I left off Lost, your cries will fall on deaf ears. I'm not gonna rank a show I haven't seen.

Honorable Mentions: Last Comic Standing, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the Monday Night CBS Comedy Block (How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory)

15) Heroes (NBC)

For those loyal fans who stuck with the show after the writer's strike decimated Season 2 and thus most Heroes followers, who were pleasantly surprised with how Season 4 turned out, up until the very very very end. R.I.P. Heroes.

14) Burn Notice (USA)

The first of a handful of USA shows- which currently produces very fun and enjoyable programming. Burn Notice is just fun and shit blowing up. Plus Bruce Campbell is just awesome.

13) Psych (USA)

Again, another USA shows that's just enjoyable. It's just fun and I laugh every time the main character Shawn Spencer says anything.

12) The Office (NBC)

Like the rest of America, I too have loved The Office from the very beginning, and it's still funny and will make me laugh. Plus what sucked everybody into the show, Dwight being weird, Michael being awkward, and the Jam and Pam will-they-won't-they, is just old and dated. As much I enjoy this show and watching these characters, I'm glad to see Steve Carrel leave the show. All these reasons is why The Office gets bumped out of my top 10

11) Persons Unknown (NBC)

A mini-series currently being run that caught my attention because the previews of the show made it look like a really good movie called The Cube (props to DME for showing that movie to me). The show is about a group of strangers that are kidnapped and stuck in this town and you don't know why, but each episodes peals a layer off of the onion to help you answer the question of "Why are they here"

10) Archer (FX)

The pilot episode was one of the funniest things I've seen on TV in a long while and the show has it's moments throughout it's first series. The show had a handful of bad episodes along the way but just some great gems that friends and I can not spot quoting. From the creator of great cult shows such as Frisky Dingo and Sealab 2021, Adam Reed brings us a cartoon about a bafoon 007-type agent voiced by the great H. Jon Benjamin. And despite the stupid fart jokes are some really smart jokes. For example, in the pilot, Archer picks up his shirt from an Indian dry cleaner, sniffs it, and says "smells like Indira Ghandi's thong" Probably should have paid attention in history class to get that one. However, Season 2 will decide if I will continue watching this series or not.

9) Entourage (HBO)

Despite Entourage only having four episodes in 2010, they have turned a complete 180 since the awful Season 6. Entourage is my favorite show of all time so it will always hold a special place in my heart. The best episodes were always the ones in which Ari's or Vince's career were in trouble. But with Season 6, both Ari and Vince had great lives so the show decided to check in on the love lives of Turtle and E. But Season 7 creates conflicts that you actually care about- as opposed to any "problems" in Season 6.

8) South Park (COM)

The last three episodes (The Towlie intervention and the two-parter every-single-inside-joke episodes) were pretty bad so the show ended with a sour taste in everyone's mouth, but the first four (The Tiger Woods, Scrootie McBoogerBalls, Facebook, and KFC/Medical Marijuana) were just absolutely hilarious

7) Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Despite the fact that Season 1 of the show was a huge rip off of The Office (which made sense because the good writers of The Office wrote for Parks and Rec), the show has gotten much better. I've since become a huge Aziz Ansari fan and I enjoy Aubrey Plaza's sarcasm as well. The show still is trying to contrive plot lines which made The Office great (i.e. the Ann/April/Andy love triangle a la Jim and Pam [fun facts: Rashida Jones involved in both love lines]) but still very funny once it found it's own voice.

6) Modern Family (ABC)

Another show slightly hurt because it had too many episodes which opened the door for some really bad shows, but overall very funny and a very original take on the traditional family sitcom. Plus, one of the characters on the show was an offensive lineman for University of Illinois (and wore a Juice Williams jersey in one episode) w=and I get a chubby every time someone mentions "Illinois" on TV.

5) Community (NBC)

I don't even know what to say about the show except that it's just really really funny. And anyone who was a hater of Joel McMale (cough cough DME cough cough) needs to watch this show because it will change your mind on him.

4) White Collar (USA)

Currently the best of the new flock of USA shows and the lead character, master thief Neil Caffrey, is one of the best characters currently on television. USA may not be original or groundbreaking, but they're just enjoyable and fun.

3) Justified (FX)

Deadwood's Timonthy Olyphant plays Kentucky Marshall Raylan Givens who kills a man within the first scene of the show. Givens is a bona fide bad ass and has spent the entire season drinking, fucking, and kicking ass. I would have preferred the show to have a unified bad guy to Raylan Givens and they sort of did that with Boyd Crowder (and did do it to an extent towards the end of the series), but overall this show is a teenage boy's wet dream.

2) 30 Rock (NBC)

Unfortunately Office fans turn off the TV after the show's over, which is a shame because they're missing the funnier show. 30 Rock is by far and away the best comedy, not only of 2010, but since it's creation in 2006.

1) Mad Men (AMC)

Sure Man Men has only had one episode in 2010, and that was it's Season 4 premiere two days ago, but it's the best show in television at the moment. The last half of Season 3 was just great (after the boring first half which laid the groundwork for the second half) and Season 4 takes off just where Season 3 ended. I don't even want to give away anything about the show. Not only out of respect for DME and TBO who (I don't believe) are caught up yet, but so "The Wire Effect"* doesn't happen to anyone else. Needless to say the show is just awesome and shame on you if you haven't watched an episode before.

*The Wire Effect is where everybody hypes up a show and gives parts of it away as to raise your expectations, but when you watch the TV show your expectations aren't met because they were unfairly raised to begin with (aka The Superbad Effect)

We've Been Waiting Weeks For Him

This is a post about Rickie Weeks.

Did you see what a did there. I used "Weeks" as a pun. Jesus I'm hilarious

Rickie Weeks have been a top prospect for the Milwaukee Brewers for years. And every year the Milwaukee propaganda (all two of them) hypes up Rickie Weeks and every year Weeks seems to come up short- either because of failure to perform or injury. Mainly injury.

Except for this year.

At the every beginning of the year DME was telling me a story about how a girl he worked with was in an 8 team league and drafted (and started) Rickie Weeks. We both laughed at just how dumb this girl was. Well 4 months later she looks like a genius. Weeks has been the second best second basemen in Yahoo! this year behind Robinson Cano. It helps that D-Ped and Chase Utley have had extended trips on the DL.

But even still, Weeks leads all 2B this year in home runs (20), along with 7 steals, 68 runs, 62 RBI's, and a .274 has made him extremely valuable in fantasy. All while being healthy and starting 99 games this year.

And although Weeks has negative defense this year at second, his 3.7 WAR has made him extremely valuable to the Milwaukee Brewers as well. (Weeks wouldn't be a Milwaukee prospect being good at offense and bad at defense a la Ryan Braun and Mat Gamel). Weeks has Grady Sizemore power with a .207 ISO and walking a tick over 10% of the time (good for a .376 OBP) this year.

I have no actual analysis here, but just saying. Good for Weeks this year. And considering how cynical we bloggers can be, especially me, it's nice to give players props when props are due.

Do The Bulls Need Tracy McGrady?

The LeBron James "Decision" occurred while I was in Mexico away from all of American media telling what I should think about sports. That gave me a week on the beach to consider what "The Decision" meant, and more importantly what ramifications it has on our home town Bulls. That is how a GM should think, and hopefully how Gar Forman and John Paxson do think. That being said, I started going over some of the remaining free agents in my head that could help the Bulls counter the Big 3.

Ronny Brewer was on my radar as a long, athletic, strong guard who could defend the position that James, Wade, and most every superstar in this league plays. Signing JJ Redick would have been a disaster. I have come to respect Redick's game despite being a Dukie, however the Bulls would have been raped by every shooting guard with Redick on defense. Then it came to me that McGrady is still available as a free agent. Would it be worth the risk to sign a former superstar who never fully recovered from microfracture surgery on his knee?

Dan Haren To Angels: A Look At His Prospective Value

Sunday, the Arizona Diamondbacks traded Dan Haren to the Angels for starting pitcher Joe Saunders and left-handed pitching prospects prospects Pat Corbin, Rafael Rodriguez and Tyler Skaggs.

Haren went to Arizona from the A's only two and a half seasons ago for a haul of prospects that included Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Carter and Brett Anderson. Considering how good Haren is (career 3.61 xFIP, 3.38 xFIP this season) and how much the Diamondbacks paid for him, it is surprising to see how little they wanted in return, even if they were trying to dump salary. It is hard to imagine that this was all that the Diamondbacks could get in return when the Yankees (Jesus Montero), Twins (Wilson Ramos) and Mets (Wilmer Flores, Jennry Mejia, Fernando Martinez) were all on the market for a quality arm.

Readers of my Game of Inches blog should all know how much I love Haren. I have detailed just how good he is many times, defended his honor on ESPN podcasts, and despite his early season struggles and career second half struggles, Haren remains a top 10 rest of season starting pitcher in my estimation

On average, pitchers generally surrender home runs on 11 percent of flyballs (note: using OF_FB% instead of FB% has no statistically significant impact on xFIP). Per The Hardball Times' top secret four-year park factor data, Arizona inflates HR/FB% for pitchers. However, Haren has not played all his game at home: he's pitched 66.2 of his 141 innings on the road (52.7 percent of his innings have come at home). Hence, the true park factor index of Chase Field on Haren's starts is only 1.058. This pushes Haren's adjusted park factor HR/FB rate to 11.64 percent. His current rate is well above that, at 13.9 percent.

To translate Haren's ERA, we cannot simply take his xFIP and run with it. As Derek Carty has previously pointed out, a change in leagues has a noticeable effect on a pitcher's K/9, BB/9 and HR/FB percentage thanks to that designated hitter guy (versus the pitcher). Thus, we need to first translate the peripherals and get a zFIP (alternative expected FIP).

As Haren has 607 batters faced, most of his peripheral rates are statistically significant. Hence we can use his current strikeout and walk rates as a baseline. At the moment, Haren has a 9.00 K/9 and 1.85 BB/9 (4.86 K/BB). As noted above, his expected HR/FB% this season is ~11.64 percent. To account for Haren's change in leagues, we need to (1) subtract 0.57 from his current K/9) add 0.05 to his current groundball rate, and 3) 0.21 percent to his adjusted HR/FB rate. Over the course of 141 IP and 165 flyballs surrendered, these numbers extrapolate into 132 strikeouts, 30 walks and 19.5 home runs.

Keeping Haren's HBP/IBB totals constant and using The Hardball Times adjusted FIP formula of 3.2+((HR*13+(BB+HBP-IBB)*3-K*2))/IP), we get a zFIP of 3.74 for AL Dan Haren. Using this 3.74 mark as the baseline for our ERA projection, we need to get an expected innings total and account for park factors and defense.

The Angels only have 62 games remaining. Assuming that Haren slides right into his rightful role as team ace, this puts him at around 12 more starts on the regular season. Haren is averaging six and two-thirds innings per start, which would put his innings load max around 80. For the sake of getting a nice number, let's pretend the Angels, who are seven games out of first place, make a playoff run this season (though I think Haren is more of a 2011/12 acquisition) and allow Haren to reach this max load. At a league-adjusted K/9 of 8.43 and zFIP of 3.74, this would give Haren 75 strikeouts and 33.25 runs allowed.

Now that we have an innings projection, we need to accord for park factors and team defense. Per Baseball-Reference, Angel Stadium inflates run scoring by 2 percent. Since a player generally plays just half his games at home, we should use a 1 percent park factor. Multiplying Haren's runs total by a 1.01 park index, we get a new RA total of 33.58.

Though park factors will likely not have much of an impact on Haren's expected RA total, the Angels' defense, which includes Bobby Abreu, might. In 883.2 innings of defense, the Angels have allowed 26.2 more runs to score than the league average defense. (The Angels have the fourth lowest UZR/150 in baseball). This gives the Angels a UZR/inning of -0.02966. Over 80 innings pitched, that means that the Angels defense will allow 2.37 more runs to score than would the league average defense. Adding this to Haren's park factor adjusted RA total, we get a final RA total of 35.95.

Over 80 IP, the above indicates that Haren has an expected ERA of 3.82. That is well below the Angels' current team ERA/xFIP of 4.40/4.37.

But what about Haren's WHIP? Thanks to Tom Tango's research and a day of macro programming, I created an xWHIP calculator a few weeks ago to answer that very question. Plugging in the relevant numbers, we see that Haren's current WHIP of 1.35 translates into a xWHIP of 1.07 with a hits per nine rate of 8.2 (yet another sign of Haren's awful luck in 2010).

As noted above, a change in leagues generally results in a +0.05 increase in a pitcher's BB/9 and Angel Stadium has a 0.99 walk rate index compared to Chase Field. This yields an xBB total for Haren the Angel of 16.7 per 80 IP.

Similarly, Angel Stadium has a 0.99 hits rate index compared to Chase Field of .90. This yields an xHits total of 65.6 for Haren on his new team, at least before defense is considered. However, as noted above, the Angels have a UZR/INN of -0.02966. Tom Tango has previously broken down runs-expectancy based on types of hits and has found that the average single is worth approximately 0.49 runs. Assuming that all additional hits allowed by the Angels' defense would be singles, the Angels' defense would yield an additional 4.8 hits. Adding this to his expected hits total, we find that Dan Haren as an Angel has an xHit total of 70.4 per 80 IP.

The above analysis yields an xWHIP of 1.09 for Dan Haren in Anaheim. Through today, the Angels have a team WHIP of 1.40. Hence Haren is a noticeable improvement for the Angels in the baserunner prevention department (which is somewhat important given the state of the Angels' defense).

Fantasy spin: All in all, my analysis shows that Haren has the following expected pitching line as an Angel: 80 IP, 3.82 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 75 K, 4.5 K/BB. Those numbers are not quite as ERA/WHIP pretty as Cliff Lee's projected numbers (though much of it has to do with the Angels' poor defense), but his plus-quality ERA/WHIP and high strikeout ability make Haren a tantalizing must-own AL option for the rest of the season. If you have FAAB, empty it accordingly.

Real life spin: One can easily see how Haren can improve the Angels' current 4.40 team ERA/1.40 team WHIP. What one cannot see, however, is how the Diamondbacks benefit from this trade. Bryan Smith of Fangraphs analyzed what the Diamondbacks netted in return for Haren and somewhat rationalized the deal. However, given Haren's talent, the market for a quality arm (of which Haren was the best and cheapest available option), and what the Diamondbacks paid for Haren in the first place, this trade makes very little sense to me.

Stolen Goods: wOBA Against Leaders

One of my favorite, most under-utilized statistics is wOBA against for pitchers: a figure which measures how often a pitcher puts a batter on base and the quality of the contact made against said pitcher. Colleague JT Jordan over at the Hardball Times listed the top/bottom pitchers in terms of wOBA against. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Latos, Johnson, Wainwright and Ubaldo lead the NL, while Nolasco, Haren, Harang and WayRod are letting senior circuit hitters get to them the most. Read the article to find the full top/bottom 10 starters in the AL/NL.

wOBA against is just another tool to help explain why a pitcher is over/under performing his peripherals and measure the quality of his success. Bravado for highlighting the statistic, JT. I don't care if a certain blogmate, who will go unnamed, hates the damned stat.

Stolen Goods: Updating Sample Size! Sample Size! Sample Size!

Courtesy of Derek Carty of The Hardball Times, here is an elaborate update to an older GOI post cataloging the requisite PA thresholds for hitters before certain statistics become statistically significant:
  • Strikeout rate/Contact rate: 150 PA
  • LD%: 150 PA
  • Walk rate: 200 PA
  • GB%: 200 PA
  • GB/FB: 200 PA
  • FB%: 250 PA
  • Home run rate: 300 PA
  • HR/FB: 300 PA
  • BABIP: Doesn't reach a 0.50 r-squared at 650 or below.
  • Batting average: Doesn't reach a 0.50 r-squared at 650 or below.
  • K/PA: 150 BF
  • GB%: 150 BF
  • LD%: 150 BF
  • FB%: 200 BF
  • GB/FB: 200 BF
  • K/BB: 500 BF
  • IF FB%: 500 BF
  • BB/PA: 550 BF
  • BABIP: Doesn't reach a 0.50 r-squared at 650 or below.
  • HR/FB: Doesn't reach a 0.50 r-squared at 650 or below.

At Least Educators Believe In Sabermetrics....

Even though Joe Morgan or Chris Rongey doesn't "believe" in numbers, there are those that do.

The importance of numbers is important in all aspects of life, not just baseball. I'm currently watching the entire series of The Wire. In the show stats are used outside Orioles games (the show takes place in Baltimore), mainly in the police department and the educational system. Under pressure to reduce the negative stats, both departments skew their stats to help their numbers. It's called "juking the stats".

It's well documented about the problems of the No Child Left Behind Act, most notably in the book Freakonomics (and in Season 4 of The Wire). The Act forces States to administer tests and how the students of the test perform is the basis of school funding. However, one man, like Bill James looking at Runs and RBI's, took at look at how the No Child Left Behind Act and how it's run and decided to speak out against it.

Here's an article about sabermetrics and the educational system:

A recent quote on Twitter from an article by education reporter Alan J. Borsuk caught the attention of Core Knowledge blogger Robert Pondiscio: "Schools can learn from baseball. [Milwaukee] Brewers wouldn't start [pitcher Trevor] Hoffman just because he's been pitching longer."

In his article, Borsuk argues that teachers should not be summarily judged based on the number of years they've been in the classroom. "It doesn't begin to tell the full story of their ability to teach."

In his blog post, Pondiscio takes that idea and runs with it. Thanks to the sophistication of baseball's number crunching, he explains, the sport is better equipped to predict the success of a player on the field than we are to determine the success of a teacher in the classroom.

Pondiscio explains that baseball has undergone a revolution in the past 25 years in which the statistical analysis of players or a team—better known by baseball fans as "sabermetrics"— is endlessly mined to determine the potential for winning.

The sabermetricians have developed individualized statistics for pitchers—known as fielding independent pitching or "FIP." These stats analyze how well a pitcher performed, regardless of his teammates' efforts. The field of education could benefit from individualized statistics like FIP, Pondiscio points out.

We are in the test scores, bromides and intangibles era of measuring teacher quality. If you're a principal, wouldn't you love to know the 'school effects' of teacher performance when it came time to make hiring decisions? Would it change your perception of merit pay if there was a classroom equivalent of FIP—the factors directly under a teacher's control? What if we could compensate teachers based on their replacement value compared to an average first year teacher?
And don't worry, I didn't give anything away about The Wire if you haven't seen it


Jhonny Perralta's Inside-The-Park Home Run

This gives new meaning to "Park Factors"

You know how I know your mom is Jewish? Listen to the background of this video.

xWHIP Challenge #2: Tom Gorzelanny

(Click to enlarge)

xWHIP Challenge #1: Tim Hudson

Will Tim Hudson's second half WHIP be over/under 1.30?

DME: Over, closer to 1.35
SexyRexy: Under, I love Tim Hudson.

xWHIP Calculator Says (click to enlarge):

New Podcasts Up

The 'Bright' One and myself have a new podcast up where we talk about the new Louie show, random White Sox talk, and, of course, LeBron going to South Beach.

You can listen to the new podcast here

Introducing The xWHIP Calculator

If you have the old version of the xWHIP calculator (anything before v.1.4.3), please download the new one (available through the link below), as it will give you the most accurate projection.



I am forever locked in Mortal Kombat for the souls of sports fans everywhere. Statistics are my science and 'the immeasurable character of men' is the obsolete religion of blind faith. My job is to prove that God doesn't exist and that athletes are merely cold, metal machines with no hearts or souls.

Earlier this week, I projected Cliff Lee's prospective rest of season WHIP. The formulaic process of calculating his xWHIP got me thinking and I spent the (entire) morning creating an xWHIP calculator (visually based on the THT xBABIP Quick Calculator). If you would like a copy of the program, you can download the xWHIP calculator by clicking here. The password to utilize the excel sheet is soto18.

Explanation of the xWHIP Calculator

According to Gameday data, circa 2005-2010, BABIP by batted ball type is general broken down as follows:
  • Popups: .008
  • Groundballs: 0.237
  • Outfield Flyballs: 0.269
  • Line Drives: 0.733
This data includes home runs, which is why the Outfield Flyball xBABIP is so high. If you take home runs out of the equation, the xBABIP for Outfield Flyballs and Line Drives fall to .174 and .727, respectively.

I've taken the above numbers and paired them with a formula that normalizes a pitcher's line drive percentage to 19% and spits out remaining balls in play (BIP) data. The calculator also features a defensive adjustment so that you can account for a pitcher's team defense. The defensive adjustment operates under the assumption that all "saved hits" were of the singles variety.

Below is a picture of the xWHIP calculator. The numbers plugged into the model for the picture are those of Tom Gorzelanny through July 17, 2010.

The grey cells are for data you should input. The green cells feature the xBIP data per IP. The blue and orange cells feature xWHIP and xHit calculations. The data cells are pre-formatted to visually round all numbers to keep the sheet clean, though cells will retain the full value of any number entered.

I hope everyone enjoys this. If you have any questions/concerns/comments/criticisms, please email them to, with the subject line xWHIP Calculator.

On a final note, I would like to give a special thank you to Derek Carty, who (possibly unknowingly) helped me create this xWHIP calculator.

The Decision: Cause I Love Myself That Freaking Much

Rumors have been rampant throughout the entire summer as to the future of Game of Inches superstar and blog-o-sphere 2 time MVP "The 'Bright' One". Speculation from sources close to the situation have leaked rumors trying to predict where TBO will take his talents and girts at the end of the summer. You have been stressing and analyzing all the details and possible scenarios, but the time has come to make a final decision, straight from the horses mouth TBO himself.

The latest buzz has confirmed that the decision has come down to 3, count that 1-2-3, destinations that will be lucky, fortunate, grateful enough to welcome TBO and hand him the key to their city. TMZ has provided footage showing picture evidence proving that TBO had spent the last week in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico negotiating a 5 year lease in the Presidential Suite with the Riu Palace to live out his prime career years on the sandy beaches of Mexico. Either that, or he spent the week laying poolside, sipping on Dos Equis XX, whooing the European hotties.

However, the trip was cut short from his usual 2-3 week holiday stay, and TBO has returned to his home town of Chicago, Illinois. May this be an indication that talks fell through, or is this the final O.J. Simpson knife in the back of his loyal Chicago readers. It is well known that TBO is the predominant voice of the Chicago sports scene. His family and life long friends reside in the city that has raised him, educated him, and made him into The 'Bright' One. Here he has loved and lost, does he dare ripe the heart out of The 'Windy' City.

A dark horse candidate has arisen from the endless list of suitors, Miami School of Medicine has reached out to TBO and offered him a luxurious package he may not be able to refuse. If you recall, TBO flirted with UMiami in the summer of 2008, when he visited and was accepted to the the medical school. Of course, loyalty took over before he settled on UIC for the next 4 years of his life. Or at least that's what we thought. After a very successful first year of medical school, except for anatomy, F%*# You anatomy, TBO can exercise an opt out clause and take his talents back to South Beach where TBO has spent every summer of the last 10 years. Although it seems too good to be true, it has the city of Chicago reaching for their brown paper bags before hyperventilating to death.

To get the final answer, TBO has selected his special guest Bill Simmons to live chat with him on the Game of Inches blog.

BS: Ohhhhhhhhhh Johnnnnnyyy, oops wait, ohhhhhh TBO!
TBO: Big day, big decision, big nerves, big excitement. Did I mention I'm a big deal?

BS: What was the ultimate deciding factor in your final decision?
TBO: To me it came down to 2 things. Winning at life and being happy doing it. I just gotta think about me and that's what I did. You know what that's all about Bill

BS: Can you describe your interactions and what you learned from all of your meetings?
TBO: What can i say? I just feel so blessed and humbled for being made so great, everyone telling me i'm great, and getting compensated for being great. I had many sleepless nights debating where I should go. Each city has so much to offer. Chicago is where i was bread into my greatness. I have a place in the city for school. I have my parents basement where my grandma cooks and cleans for me. It may not be glamorous, but it's home. And there's no place like home.

On the other hand, Mexico offers the lavish lifestyle of relaxing on the beach, with topless babes a plenty. The schools may not be up to American standards, but you will see all sorts of tropical infections and diseases that you may not find in the states.

Miami has always been near and dear to my heart, such that I strongly considered moving to South Beach in 2008. I was willing to pay the higher out of state tuition for the glamor of Miami school of medicine. I would get to work with some of the finest physicians in the country, who have already won awards individually, and train to become the greatest Cardiologist the world has ever seen. For me, I've already proven myself individually, now it's time to work as a team and bring home the ultimate prize. Being in Miami, The 'Bright' One can share the city with The 'Chosen' One. Has a nice ring to it...huh

BS: The time has come. Will you reveal where you will be taking your talents?
TBO: Man this is tough, but this fall I will be taking my talents back home to Sweat Home Chicago (applause ahhh ahhh wooh wooh). See unlike one Lebron James, I'm not a traitor to my home town. I feel Chicago is part of who I am, and who I want to be in the future. I have made my mistakes, let down people in the past, but want to grow and get better for the future. I want to use my medical skills and knowledge to help my fellow people in need. I have my family, my friends, my sports, and my school. Everything else is gravy

Like Jim Rome, I am OUT!

Sophomore Of The Year Awards

Every year, baseball honors some player (often undeserving) in each league for being the best rookie (ROY) and best pitcher (Cy Young) and player (MVP).

Alas, what of those players who show remarkable improvement during their second year in the league? Or those who break out in year two, rather than year one? These unheralded heroes go unheralded.

Alas, no more! This gallimaufry cannot stand!

Starting with the end of the 2010 baseball season, the Game of Inches blog (henceforth "GOI") will issue an annual and coveted "Sophomore of the Year" (SOY) award to the best player in his second major league season.

Sound off your early season favorites in the comments. Winners to be announced after the conclusion of the 2010 World Series!

Sexy Rexy's Sports Gripes: LeBron Edition

Yes, I realize I'm late giving all you lucky fans MY two cents on quote The Decision endquote. Yes, my "''" buttons work fine. Stupid interns, can't find good help these days. Even though no one has a job. Yet I digress. I was going to do a podcast about this as soon as I sat through an excruciating 15 minutes of Stuart Scott and Jon Berry's opinion and another excruciating 15 minutes while LBJ babbles on and on about quote what a tough decision this has been endquote. Damn it Johnny, stop taking everything I say so literal. Stop writing what I'm saying! Stop that. qwefqewnfbqwejfbqdvbcqwjvqewcbqwd,ncb

Sorry about that folks, I had to fire Johnny and he wouldn't relinquish the computer. So now it's all me. Despite you having enough time to formulate your own opinion about LeBron and even though you heard EVERYBODY at ESPN and your local sports talk radio tell you their opinion, here's mine:

- Everyone except the five Heat season ticket holders and Pat Riley is pissed at LeBron for some reason or another. I am no different. Except the only reason I hate him is because he didn't choose Chicago. I'm not even a big basketball fan by any stretch of the imagination but I was wishing upon airplanes in the night sky that they were shooting stars so I could wish that LeBron would choose Chicago considering everyone in the media for two straight months told me he was coming to Chicago. I would have actually watched basketball/ follow NBA box scores if LeBron came to Chicago.

- Also, I hate LeBron because when the interviewer FINALLY came around to asking LeBron where he was going, LBJ's response was "South Beach". When the interviewer then said "you mean Miami; you're going to the Miami Heat?", LeBron just starred at him blankly. Really fucknuts!? You couldn't just say "Miami Heat" or at least reiterated after you were asked that you're going to the Miami Heat!? Or say "the Heat". Or at least the namesake city of the team you're going to play for? Even a 24 year old could have thought of that.

- By the way, if you think about it, WISHING airplanes were shooting stars just so you can then go ahead and MAKE A WISH is pretty fucking retarded. Think about it.

- I have absolutely no inherent/ objective reason to hate LeBron's actual team choice. All I heard in the off season is that LeBron needs to go to a place where he can win. Well, I think LeBron can win with DeWayne Wade, Chris Bosh, myself, and The 'Bright' One playing center. I'm pretty sure LeBron choose a place where he could win multiple championships, like every critic said he needed to do. But because he'll win with other superstars it was a bad decision? What!?

- This "LeBron doesn't want to be the man" nonsense is getting way too out of hand. When people are comparing King James to Michael or Kobe, are they forgetting the other four players that were on the court with these players? Did people forget that Kobe was The Man in L.A. for a long time post-Shaq and pre-Gasol and it got him nowhere? Did people forget the reason Boston won a Championship recently and just went to the Finals was because of what the media dubbed "The Big Three". And do people forget that Michael Jordan had a top 50, probably a top 35, best basketball player of all time during his six rings. A little man by the name of Scottie Pippen. And three of Jordan's rings came with Pippen along with a great player who also has won many rings prior; a guy by the name of Dennis Rodman. Ever heard of him? No really, have you? Can you please tell me who he is?

- Along the same line, LeBron did not hurt his global image. He's still going to be a sponsor for Nike and Vitamin Water and what have you and still sell shit all over the world AND have multiple rings to go along with the millions upon billion of dollars that he's going to make. And then he's going to sleep with 20 different women, a few in each city he plays on the road (the one hot girl in Charlotte, keep your legs warm!) and then get caught in a huge scandal that will actually hurt his image and he'll end up paying one of the girls a few BILLION dollars. This type of scandal will be unprecedented and will never happen before or after LBJ did it.

- Everyone who is criticizing James for "how he handled 'The Decision'" and the press conference are just jealous haters who wish he came to their city and team. The only "bad" part of the interview was that ESPN, the lying douchebags that they are, told us that The Decision would be at 8:00 and when 10:15 finally rolled around and everyone at ESPN gave their own dumb ass opinion (mine is clearly the only one that matters!)along with a really boring interview, then did we all hear where exactly LeBron was going- even though ESPN told us all day LBJ was going to Miami anyway.

- LeBron owes Cleveland nothing but an apology that he was a little bitch in the playoffs and even though the Cavs were the best team in the East for like five straight years, James could only go to the Finals once and win no titles. He didn't have to go play for Cleveland just because they drafted him and just because he's from the area. Let the man, aka little bitch, play wherever he wants to.

- The only bigger little bitch in this entire saga is Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. We're all pissed LBJ didn't came to our team but we all don't take out editorials in the paper and whine and complain about it and throw a temper tantrum like a three year old. We instead act like adults and bitch and moan about it on an independent sports blog mainly related to baseball and football that no one reads.

As Porky Pig would say Th-th-th-that's All, Folks!

DME's Top 50 Second Half Starters For Fantasy

During the All-Star game last night, I compiled a list of my top 50 fantasy starters for the rest of the season. I considered the total value contributed across Ws, Ks, ERA and WHIP in creating this list. Hence, a guy with low Ws/Ks upside (ie, Brett Anderson) sinks low on this list, even if they are a very good pitcher in real life. This list does not per se reflect the best real-life pitchers in baseball.

And now, on to the show:

01. Tim Lincecum (increased SwStr%, but decreased K/9? I smell a turn around)
02. Roy Halladay
03. Felix Hernandez
04. Josh Johnson
05. Adam Wainwright
06. Francisco Liriano
07. Jon Lester
08. Dan Haren
09. Chris Carpenter (if healthy in the second half)
10. Cliff Lee
11. Ubaldo Jimenez
12. C.C. Sabathia (c'mon, he's a second half stud)
13. Justin Verlander
14. David Price
15. Jered Weaver
16. Max Scherzer
17. Roy Oswalt (especially if traded away from HOU)
18. Zack Greinke
19. Ryan Dempster
20. Yovani Gallardo (if healthy in the second half)
21. Ricky Nolasco
22. Matt Cain
23. Cole Hamels
24. Phil Hughes
25. Stephen Strasburg (he is only this low because he's on a strict innings limit. If you pair Strausburg and Zimmerman, they are collectively a top 15 SP over the 90-100 they'll combine for)
26. Clayton Kershaw
27. Mat Latos
28. Colby Lewis
29. Tommy Hanson
30. Gavin Floyd
31. Ricky Romero
32. Matt Garza
33. Shaun Marcum (if healthy in the second half)
34. Hiroki Kuroda (if healthy in the second half)
35. Javier Vazquez
36. Clay Buchholz (if healthy in the second half)
37. Kris Medlen
38. Scott Baker
39. Jonathan Sanchez
40. Chad Billingsley
41. Wandy Rodriguez (look at his last 6 outings)
42. Johan Santana (he's far from the Santana of old)
43. Johnny Cueto
44. Jorge De La Rosa
45. John Danks
46. Erik Bedard (if healthy during the second half)
47. Carl Pavano
48. Marc Rzepczynski
49. Edinson Volquez (if able to locate his pitches during the second half)
50. Josh Beckett (not assuming that he's 100% healthy for second half)

On the bubble: James Shields, Brett Anderson, Kevin Slowey, Tom Gorzelanny, Tim Hudson, Madison Bumgarner, Ian Kennedy, Jordan Zimmerman, Brett Myers, Clayton Richards

Moneyball The Movie Update: Actor Chris Pratt Joins Cast

According to a promotional representative working with Sony films on the motion picture production of the award winning sabermetrics novel Moneyball, Chris Pratt has joined the cast of the film to play former A's 1B Scott Hatteberg (the guy Joey Votto unseated in Cincinnati in 2008). Per the press release:
Los Angeles (July 13, 2010) – Chris Pratt star of the NBC hit comedy series “Parks and Recreation” has joined the cast of “Moneyball” which includes Brad Pitt, Robyn Wright, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Pratt will star as former Oakland Athletics 1st Baseman Scott Hatteberg.

The Bennett Miller-directed baseball project is being produced by Scott Rudin and Michael DeLuca and was written by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, based on Michael Lewis’ 2003 nonfiction book about Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane and his strategy for building a successful team without paying players enormous salaries.

Chris Pratt is quickly establishing himself as one of today’s most versatile young actors in film and television. In film, Pratt just completed shooting a role opposite Anna Faris in the Fox comedy What’s Your Number also starring Chris Evans. Pratt will next be seen in the Universal Pictures film Young Americans also starring Faris and Topher Grace due out in January, 2011. Additional films Pratt has starred in include Wanted, Bride Wars and Jennifer’s Body. Chris Pratt is represented by Mosaic, CAA and attorney Peter Nelson.
I'm excited for the release of this film, which has been in the works for years now, but am sincerely hoping it takes a less overly dramatic direction than last year's The Blind Side, based on a different Michael Lewis book.

Luol Deng Puts Home Up For Sale

Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng has put his Northbrook townhouse (near the Berto center) on the market. This is after all of the rumors settled down if he would be traded this off-season if the Bulls landed two or three of the big free agents. The Bulls lost out on getting any of them in Wade, James, and Bosh so now it looks like Deng is staying put. This is a big, expensive townhouse.

Per The Chicago Tribune
Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng has placed his three-bedroom town home in Northbrook on the market for $639,000.

A native of Sudan who left Duke University after one year to enter the NBA draft in 2004, Deng has been with the Bulls his entire career.

Built in 2000, the 2,511-square-foot town home has two full baths, two half baths, a kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, a large master suite with custom closets and a lower level with a bathroom and lots of storage.
Deng paid $336,000 in 2004 for the town home, which is in a neighborhood popular with Bulls players.
Did you notice how much Deng paid for the townhouse and how much he is trying to sell it for? That is a big increase, maybe he doesn't realize this is a bad time to sell an house. Shouldn't Deng have put his house up for sale a few months ago if he thought he was getting traded? Unless he feels he is safe now and wants to get something bigger.

Justin Verlander Entered Into An Unconscionable, Voidable Contract For Milk In The 10th Grade

Per Sports Illustrated:
On his [Justin Verlander's] deal with friend Daniel Hicks in 10th grade
I wanted a chocolate milk that cost 50 cents, and I didn't have the money. So I said, "How about I give you. 1 percent of my pro signing bonus if you give me 50 cents now?" He found a napkin, wrote it up, and I signed it. I forgot about it, but after I signed, he comes over and whips out this old napkin. I'm like, Oh my God! My bonus was three-point-something million. Was a chocolate milk worth $3,000? I want to say yes. I was parched.
And I thought Milk was expensive at $3.15 a gallon.

Stolen Goods: Why You Can't Subtract FIP from ERA

While perusing through some old sabermetrics articles on The Hardball Times, I came across this article by Colin Wyers explaining why the ERA-FIP ("E-F") stat is not particularly a scientific measure of regression (See graph, below).

Neither FIP, tERA or xFIP has quite the same range or slope as ERA. As Wyers explains:
"This doesn't mean that FIP is useless, of course - it should do a good job of putting pitchers in the right ordinal ranking - the best pitchers will generally have the lowest FIPs and the worst will have the highest, at least within the limits of sample size. But what it will do is distort the distance between the best and worst pitchers."
Quite the interesting read, I recommend checking it out.

Whipped: A Prospective Look At Cliff Lee's Second Half WHIP Projection

Over at THT, I've completed my rest of season ERA projection analysis for Cliff Lee. Now, it's time to take a look at Cliff Lee's prospective WHIP.

In my ERA analysis, I pegged Cliff Lee for 105 innings for the rest of the season (15 starts with an average of 7.0 innings per outing). Further, in part 4 of my ERA analysis, I postulated that Cliff Lee would likely have a second half BB/9 closer to his 3 year average of 1.41 than his current rate of 0.52. Why? Well, the only pitcher I can recall to have every posted a BB/9 that low is Carlos Silva (circa 2005) and he didn't even pitch 200 innings. Greg Maddux twice posted BB/9's below one (0.99 in 1995 and 0.77 in 1997), but Maddux was consistently the king of control and did not even walk 1000 batters for his career. Cliff Lee has great control, but he's not Greg Maddux. Hence, I'm going to use his 3-year 1.41 BB/9, which would give him an end of season BB/9 of 0.97.

All that is left to do in order to project Cliff Lee's second half WHIP is to calculate his xHits total. To do this, I am going to use his first half BIP data and normalize the LD% at 19%, which is what, over the large enough sample size, pitchers tend to regress towards (Derek Carty of THT will be releasing an article about this sometime soon, I believe).

Through the first half of 2010, Cliff Lee has struck out, surrendered a home run to, or walked 100 of the 408 total batters faced, putting 306 balls in play (if you did the math, you'll notice that 408-100 is actually 308. I have no clue what happened to these other 2 mystery batters as Cliff Lee has 0 IBBs and 0 HBPs so far this season. Maybe foul outs?). Of the balls put into play, 127 of them have been groundballs (41.5%), 53 have been line drives (17.3%) and the remaining 126 balls in play have been of the flyball variety (41.2%). Breaking down the flyballs further, 115 of the 126 flyballs have been outfield flyballs, while the other 11 have been infield flyballs (8.7% IFFB%).

According to Tom Tango's research, BABIP by batted ball type is general broken down as follows:
  • Popups: .020
  • Groundballs: 0.241
  • Outfield Flyballs: 0.177
  • Line Drives: 0.728
First, let's normalize Cliff Lee's LD%. At 19% of BIP, that would give Lee ~58 line drives per 306 BIP. This leaves 248 BIP to work with.

Lee has a GB/(GB+FB) rate of 50.2% and a FB/(GB+FB) rate of 49.8% for a GB/FB ratio of 1.008. Given the relative symmetry between Cliff Lee's GB and FB rates, I am going to apportion the remaining 248 BIP evenly between grounders (124) and flyballs (124). Breaking the flyball data down further, using Cliff Lee's 8.7% IFFB ratio, we give Cliff Lee 11 popups to 113 outfield flyballs.

Using these normalized BIP numbers (124 GB, 58 LD, 113 OFFB, 11 IFFB) and the above BABIP rates, we get a "hits allowed" total of 92.33. This, paired with his 1.41 BB/9 rate, over 105 IP, would yield a base runners allowed total of 107.78.

All in all, the above calculates into a WHIP of 1.04.

But wait, that's not the end of our analysis. What about the Rangers' ballpark effects and defense? Those two factors clearly have an impact on Cliff Lee's pitching line.

Going back to our xHits formula, we need to account for the park's dimension effects on BIP types. Hence, our xHits calculation will look as thus, based on THT's top secret four-year park factor data: (124*.241*0.99490209)+(.177*113*0.99848143)+(.728*58*1.05542638)+(.020*11*0.96431953).

This yields a penultimate, pre-defensive adjustment, xHits total of 94.48 for a WHIP of 1.06 over 105 IP.

Defense is a hard adjustment to accord for. Does good defense prevent singles? triples? doubles? homers (in the case of Dewayne Wise)? Tom Tango has previously broken down runs-expectancy based on types of hits and using our previous UZR/INN rate of +0.0269 for the Rangers (see my earlier Cliff Lee ERA analysis) and 2.82 runs prevent per 105 IP, we can reverse engineer a hits prevented total. However, without accurate 1B/2B/3B/HR defensive prevention ratios, this defensive adjustment will not be perfect.

Thus, similar to how I adjust xBABIP, I am going to optimistically assume that all prevented runs would come exclusively from singles and reverse engineer a hit-prevented total based on that. As a single is worth 0.47 runs, 2.82 runs prevented would equate to 6 hits prevented. Subtracting this from our park-adjusted 94.48 xHits total, we get a final xHits total of 88.48 for WHIP of 1.00 on the button.

When we take this analysis combined with my prior ERA analysis, we find that Cliff Lee will likely post an ERA between 3.13 and 3.70 with a WHIP of about 1.00 for the Rangers.

Draw what conclusions you will. As much as I like Smoak, he far from an elite hitter (Matt LaPorta, traded for other ex-Indians rental C.C. Sabathia, has more wOBA upside) and a fair price to pay for someone who will undoubtedly help the Rangers reach the post season and net them two top picks as a type A free agent this offseason. Especially when you have Chris Davis to spare.

Translating Cliff Lee The Mariner Into Cliff Lee The Ranger

In a follow up post to my article Translating Cliff Lee The Mariner Into Cliff Lee The Yankee, I did a very similar analysis for THT Live entitled Translating Cliff Lee The Mariner Into Cliff Lee The Ranger.

Stayed tuned for more mid-season baseball goodness as the Rumor Mills heat up over the next 22 days. Jayson Werth (to Yankees?) and Ted Lilly (to Mets? Yankees? Twins?) are getting a lot of trade buzz as of late. Who do you think will be traded next?


Parts 3 and 4 of my analysis are also online.

Translating Cliff Lee The Mariner Into Cliff Lee The Yankee

UPDATE: Since posting this article a few hours ago, it has been announced that Cliff Lee is going to be traded to the Rangers (along with injured RP Mark Lowe) for Justin Smoak and three other (as of yet unnamed) prospects.

This means two things:
1) I will not perform parts 3 and 4 of this analysis. Instead, I will be doing something similar, only with the Rangers (instead of Yankees), for THT Live. This post will remain here as a memorial of what could have been for the Yankees if Cliff Lee went their way instead.
2) The Rangers are likely to call up Chris Davis, who I covered in my THT AL Waiver Wire article two weeks ago, is likely to get a call up very soon.


According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Yankees are on the verge of acquiring Cliff Lee from the Mariners in exchange for top-tier C prospect Jesus Montero (who they would not move for Javier Vazquez or Curtis Granderson) , 2B prospect David Adams (who will probably shift across the diamond to the hot corner with Dustin Ackley around) and some other unnamed prospect (possibly RHP Zach McAllister).

I'll cover Montero in next week's AL Waiver Wire Column for THT (I was going to cover him for this week's AL Waiver Wire Column, but did not because I doubted he'd have a shot at MLB play this year for the Yankees) and likely re-asses Cliff Lee, but for now, I am going to do a quick and dirty "how Cliff Lee would look in Pinstripes" analysis.

Part I: If Cliff Lee Pitched The First Half Of 2010 For The Yankees
Right now, Cliff Lee is sporting a pretty 2.34 ERA with 8 W's, a 0.95 WHIP and 89 K's over 103.2 innings of play (despite missing the first month of the season with an abominable abdominal injury). He's pounding the zone more often then ever before (career best 59.8% F-Strike%), getting more Swinging Strikes (career best 9.1% mark) and inducing more swings at pitches outside of the zone (carer best 33.5% mark). The results are a career-second best mark in K/9 (7.73), a career best (and completely stingy) walk rate (0.52), and an outrageously low 2.21 FIP (2nd best amongst SP's with 50+ IP) and 3.24 xFIP (5th best amongst SP's not named Matt Belisle who have logged 50+ innings).

Cliff Lee, a relatively neutral GB/FB pitcher, has of course seen his ERA deflated some by the
Mariners defense (5th best team in OF UZR/150, 9th best in team overall in UZR/150), while both his FIP and ERA have been deflated some by Safe Co.'s 3% offensive suppression and 0.95 HR/FB park factor index (per THT's super secret park factor data). Hence, though a trade to the Yankees may benefit Lee's W's totals, there may be some repercussion in terms of ERA and WHIP.

I'll cover WHIP regression at a future date (possibly this weekend). For now, however, I am solely focus on ERA projection.

Since this portion of my analysis is focused on translating Lee's current 2010 numbers with the Mariners into Yankees-based numbers, I am going to use ERA as the baseline for my part 1 analysis. As mentioned above, Lee is currently sporting a 2.34 ERA with Seattle, allowing 27 ER over 103.1 IP.

Seattle's defense to date has prevented 16.4 runs (per UZR data through 07/09/2010) over 755.1 innings of defensive play. That approximates a UZR/INN of about +0.217. Over 103.1 IP, that would equivocate into approximately 2.24 runs prevented compared to the theoretical "league average" defensive posture. Adding this from Lee's Seattle runs allowed total (RA), we get 29.24 runs allowed.

Next, we need to neutralize park data. As mentioned above, Safe Co. Park has deflated runs production by 6%, so we need to account for this in Lee's RA figure. Dividing his current RA by 1.03, we get a new RA of 30.15. This gives us a context neutral ERA of 2.62 for Cliff Lee.

New Yankees Stadium park factor data is very limited, as the park is less than 2 years old, but believe it or not, claims that the park has suppressed runs scoring by approximately 3%. ESPN's Park Factor Data for 2010disagrees, claiming the park to have inflated runs scoring by 17.7% this year. However, ESPN's Park Factor Data for 2009 agrees with Baseball-Reference. Given the small sample size, I'm going to split the difference 65-35 between B-R's 2009 data and ESPN's 2010 data, with higher weight being given to B-R's last year data. This yields a totally unscientific runs index of about +4.245%. Multiplying Cliff Lee's context neutral RA total by 1.04245, we get a new RA total of 31.43.

Finally, we must accord for the Yankees defense to date, which has a team UZR (through 07/09/2010) of +4.6 over 755.1 innings of defensive play. That is a UZR/INN of +0.0061, which equates to about 0.63 runs prevented compared to the theoretical "league average" defensive posture. Subtracting this from Lee's adjusted RA, we get a final total of 32.06 runs allowed over 103.1 IP.

This equates into a 2.79 ERA.

Not too shabby, if you ask me. Shame the Yankees aren't paying for Cliff Lee's production to date. Hence, we seamlessly transition into part 2.

Part II: What Kind Of ERA Can We Expect For Cliff Lee Pitching For The Yankees After The All-Star Break?
Before we project Cliff Lee's second-half numbers, we need to figure out how many innings will Cliff Lee likely pitch, barring an injury for the rest of the season. Right now, Lee is averaging an unbelievable 7.95 innings per outing. I am going to pessimistically round this number down to a flat 7 for two reasons. First, the Yankees are likely to give Cliff Lee some added rest down the stretch, as they did with C.C. last season, given his injury history and current workload. Second, the Yankees, who are in a playoff push and have reliable guys like Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera to finish off games, are highly unlikely (especially based on past experiences) to allow Cliff Lee, who suffered a serious abdominal injury during the offseason, to keep on pitching complete games as the summer continues to heat up (versus the Mariners, who are trying to bolster Lee's short term value). Given that he missed all of April, I find it unlikely that Lee will eclipse the 210 IP mark this season. Hence, we'll say 7 IP per start.

The Yankees have played 85 games so far this season and have 77 games remaining. On a five man rotation, this allots 15 games per starter plus 2 extra games to spare. For the reasons given above, I'll assume that Lee will not pitch one of those "extra two" games. However, I will assume that, barring injury, he will play in the other 15 allotted starts. This would afford Lee a second-half innings projection of 105 (for a season total of 208.1 IP).

Taking Cliff Lee's 3.24 xFIP as the baseline for projection analysis, we will use the above rates for Yankee Stadium and the Yankee's defense to project Cliff Lee's 2010 second-half ERA. A 3.24 xFIP over 105 IP would mean that Cliff Lee would yield 37.80 runs (RA) in a neutral context in the second half.

Adjusting first for park factors, Cliff Lee's 37.8 RA total would have to be multiplied by 1.04245, see supra, we get a park-adjusted RA of 39.40. Next, accounting for the Yankee's defense (+0.0061 UZR/INN), we subtract 0.64 (UZR/INN*105) from his park-adjusted RA to get a final RA projection of 38.76.

The above equivocates into 3.32 ERA for Cliff Lee if he plays in Pinstripes for the second-half of 2010.

This figure, of course, assumes that Cliff Lee's pin-point control (0.52 BB/9 through his first 13 starts) remains constant and he keeps hitters swinging and missing at the same rate. I'm not entirely convinced that Lee keeps up the super low walk rate, however.

Ultimately, though, you can see why the Yankees are willing to pay such a high price for Cliff Lee: he's legitimately really, really good.

Paging Daniel Hudson

Jake Peavy's detached muscle in his shoulder (which will likely end his 2010 season) clears a rotation spot for top Sox pitching prospect Daniel Hudson. Hudson, a 5th round pick in the 2008 amateur draft, has compiled a 2.90 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with a 43.5% GB% and a 364/87 K-to-BB ratio in 310.1 IP for his minor league career. Minor League Splits equivocates this production into a 3.94 MLB FIP.

Hudson has been relatively successful in the upper minors. Over 117.1 AAA innings between this year and last, Hudson has accrued a 3.38 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and a 132/40 K-to-BB ratio. A note of concern however: for the season, Hudson's AAA GB% has dipped to 40.7%. This may be a sample size issue, but this is the third consecutive year that Hudson has burned less worms than the last (falling from 50+% in 2008) and the Cell is not one of the better places in the league to lose groundball tendencies (per THT's "top secret" HR/FB% data, U.S. Cellular Field ranks second overall, behind only Citizen's Bank Ballpark, in HR/FB exaggeration with a 21.3% inflation index).

Let's take the above 3.94 MLB-equivalent FIP as the baseline for Hudson's MLB-projection. Assuming he takes over the role of SP5 and goes an average of 6 innings per outing, he would have at most 15 opportunities to start a game for a max innings output of 90. Given that he has already thrown 93.1 innings in the minors this year and only 147.1 innings last year, let's pretend the White Sox care about long term pitcher durability and innings totals and cap his season total innings at 177.1. That number would put Hudson approximately within the 30 innings range of the Verducci Effect and limit him to 84 IP in the majors this year. If Hudson does indeed throw 84 innings, he would allow, again assuming a 3.94 FIP, about 36.77 runs to score.

Right now, the White Sox are on pace to play ~1,444.1 innings of defense with team UZR total of -19.18 per 162 games. Assuming that Chicago's second-half defensive production remains constant, that would give the team a Runs Above Average Allowed per Inning (RAAA/INN) rate of approximately 0.0147. Per 84 innings of play, that would allow an additional ~1.11 runners to score compare with what the league-average defense would allow. If we add this to Hudson's defense-neutral runs allowed, supra, we get 37.88 runs allowed.

Finally, we look at park effects. Per Baseball Reference, U.S. Cellular Field has a park effects index of 8%, meaning total offensive output at the park is exaggerated by 8%. Since the Sox only play half their games at the Cell, we'll use a 4% index. This increases Hudson's theoretical runs allowed total from 38.01 to 39.40 (per 84 IP), yielding a 4.22 ERA.

Personally, I would peg Hudson's ERA over/under for 2010 slightly lower, between 4.00 and 4.20. He has demonstrated above-average control in the minors (2.5 MiLB career BB/9, 3.1 Triple-A) and a keen ability to miss bats (6.9 MiLB career H/9, 7.9 Triple-A plus 10.6 MiLB career K/9, 10.1 Triple-A). Hence, a sub-1.30 WHIP, provided the walks stay in check, would be entirely plausible in my estimation. K/9 might be a more fickle thing to predict. Minor League Splits pegs his career numbers as worth an upper 7's rate (7.69) and his Triple-A numbers in the low to mid-8's (8.67 for 2010). Given his consistent ability to whiff hitters in the minors, I would not be at all shocked if he posted a strikeout per inning. Still, I err on the side of conservatism and say he will post a K/9 somewhere between 8 and 9.

Juan Pierre, Mark Kotsay, Andruw Jones, Omar Vizquel and a struggling Gordon Beckham aside, the Sox still have three offensive juggernauts, who should provide plenty of run support, between Rios-Konerko-Quentin. Hence, my final over/under line on Hudson (which you can adjust based on your own IP beliefs) is 84 IP, 5 W, 4.10 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 79 K.

The bottom line is this: if you had Jake Peavy, you need Daniel Hudson. After Hudson, only Jordan Zimmerman, Edinson Volquez and possibly Brandon Webb stand out as reliable/tantalizing late season starting pitching options with the ability to help fantasy owners in need (with low ownership%).

Stolen Goods: Comparing Draft Picks And Prospects

In a piece that is less than a year old, Sky Kaulkman of Beyond The Boxscore analyzed the value prospects versus draft picks. Of most interest to me was the exponential disparity between the top 10 draft picks of the first round and the bottom 10 (pictured below).

As Kaulkman observes:
"the top picks are extremely valuable, and expected value drops quickly after the first ten or so picks, so that the value of a 16th-30th pick is closer in value to the 500th pick than the first pick."
For those interested in how much of a "bargain" prospects are for teams, generally, Victor Wang broke it down as follows:
16th-30th Surplus Value: $5.2M (late first round)
31st-45th Surplus Value: $2.6M (supplemental)
46th-60th Surplus Value: $0.8M (early second round)
The article is most certainly worth a full read (at the very least a glance), but if you want the short in simple answer, Kaulkman concludes that "while free agent compensation picks aren't worth giving away, a package of decent prospects will almost always be more valuable."

Who Deserves To Be An All-Star: 2010 MLB, Part Deux

I'm too tired/lazy/incompetent/apathetic to write analysis and gripes, but here's who deserved to be an All-Star reserves based upon WAR, wOBA, and FIP/xFIP.

The AL Team*

C- Mike Napoli (LAA), Victor Martinez (BOS)
1B- Miguel Cabrera (DET), Paul Konerko (CWS)
2B- Dustin Pedroia (BOS), Ian Kinsler (TEX)
SS- Derek Jeter (NYY)
3B- Evan Longoria (TAM), Alex Rodriguez (NYY)
OF- Ichiro Suzuki (SEA)
OF- Torii Hunter (LAA)
OF- Shin Soo Choo (CLE)
DH/Off- Kevin Youkilis (BOS)

SP- Cliff Lee (SEA), Jon Lester (BOS), Jered Weaver (LAA), Felix Hernandez (SEA), Ricky Romero (TOR), Zach Grienke (KAN), Justin Verlander (DET), Clay Buchholz (BOS)

RP- Matt Thorton (CWS), Mariano Rivera (NYY), Neftali Feliz (TEX), J.J. Putz (CWS), Frank Fransisco (TEX), Darren Oliver (TEX)
As you may have noticed, fuck guys just because they get the last three outs in a certain situation

Guys who get screwed because "every team needs an All-Star":
- Gio Gonzalez (OAK) screws over Clay Buchholz (BOS)
- Ty Wigginton (BAL) can replace the injured Dustin Pedroia (BOS)

The NL Team*

C- Miguel Olivo (COL)
1B- Adrian Gonzalez (SD)
2B- Brandon Phillips (CIN)
3B- Scott Rolen (CIN), Z-Pack (WAS)
SS- Jose Reyes (NYM)
OF- Matt Holiday (STL)
OF- Aubrey Huff (SFG)
OF- Marlon Byrd (CHC)
OF- Alfonso Soriano (CHC)
OF- Colby Rasmus (STL)
OF- Andrew McCutchen (PIT)

SP- Roy Halladay (PHI), Yovani Gallardo (MIL), Ubaldo Jiminez (COL), Adam Wainwright (STL), Tim Lincecum (SFG), Clayton Kershaw (LAD), Roy Oswalt (HOU)

RP- Jonathan Broxton (LAD), Carlos Marmol (CHC), Heath Bell (SD), Brian Wilson (SFG), Luke Greggerson (SD)
Still against guys "just because they close" but NL's dominant relievers just happen to be, for the most part, closers

Guys who gets screwed because "every team needs an All-Star":
- Chris Young (ARI) screws over Colby Rasmus (STL)

*roster positions for this post are based upon what positions the All Star managers actually choose

You Down With OBP? Unleash The Kila Whale

Mired in the Kansas City mess that is Dayton Moore's "process" are several plus-quality minor leaguers. This should not be surprising because, even if you are terrible at drafting, if you have a perennial top 5 pick, it is exceedingly difficult to continuously mess up the draft (though Moore seemingly attempted to do just that this year, by drafting Christian Colon, a high-contact SS with an allergy to walks and mediocre power (and career) upside (from what I hear, think Alexi Ramirez with less power, more walks), 4th overall). A few weeks ago, I took a look at "former" uberprospect Alex Gordon, age 26, who has kept on mashing to no avail since. There is also, of course, 2008's top pick, Eric Hosmer, age 21, whose strong walking skills (13% BB% this season), intriguing power upside (.198 ISO this season) and poor defense profile him as the stereotypical 1B/DH-type.

Then there's this other guy, Kila Ka'aihue, a 26 year old 1B/DH by trade, who has posted walk rates north of 12% in every minor league stop with a .207 career minor league ISO to boot. I am utterly convinced Dayton Moore hates him. Though the Royals, as a team, have a barely above average .338 OBP this year and are not dead last with their .403 SLG, they have been the bottom feeders of major league baseball in OBP/SLG/wOBA since at least 2004. Still, they refused to give Kila "I walk a lot" Ka'aihue his fair chance. Rather, the Royals tried to solve their wOBA woes by bringing in Mike "I don't know how to walk" Jacobs (for Leo Nunez, who has been a serviceable closer for the Marlins), who hit a handful of homers (19), but posted sub-.300 OBPs along the way for the second consecutive year. Meanwhile, Kila, mired in a "down year," posted a "pathetic" .252/.392/.433 line with 17 HR in 555 PA for the Royals' AAA-affiliate, getting a 25 PA cup of coffee to placate stats nerds everywhere.

Kila is currently back to his power hitting ways, mashing 16 HR in half as many PA as last season while posting a .310/.477/.597 line for the Omaha Royals. Minor League Splits says such a performance is worth an MLB-equivalent line of .249/.384/.433 (.817 OPS) with 10 HR in 245 AB. Still, Kila Monster, the true pride of Hawaii, gets no love and is wasting away his prime years of youth proving that he has nothing to prove in the minors.

There's a clear log jam at 1B/DH in Kansas City, with grandpa/Red Giant Jose Guillen and youngster Billy Butler, who is just starting to come into his own as a hitter, sticking around right now and Eric Hosmer on his way. Moore has never really given Kila and chance and it's quite likely that he'll need a change of scenery in order to stick in the majors. Kila could provide a quality trade chip for the Royals, as his MLB-equivalent .814 OPS would rank top 10 amongst DHs (meaning there's 20+ teams who could use his production, not to mention cost-controlled talent) and middle of the pack amongst MLB 1B's. Personally, I would love to see the Cubs acquire the second incarnation of the greek god of walks (and maybe Alex Gordon too; in exchange, the Royals can have Josh Vitters and Tyler Colvin).

In terms of immediate fantasy impact, Kila is more of a keepers league player at the moment. The 1B/DH log jam in KC makes Kila's short term P.T. possibilities near nil. However, Kila is a minor leaguer worth monitoring. He may be an injury away from the majors, though Alex Gordon will be likely be first in line for promotion. Though it's unlikely that Kila will move at the all-star break -- his lack of MLB experience makes him more off-season trade fodder (for impact talent loading, as Moore has the Cubs' sense of team building) -- stranger things have happened.

Whenever and however it happens, however, Kila needs the chance to prove to casual fans what us stats nerd already know: Kila has a lot of talent.

Marketing Campaign aimed to Land Lebron James

I heard that the Chicago Bulls had a four day ad campaign targeting Lebron James from last Monday June 28th through this past Thursday July 1st when free agency officially started. I am surprised that here in Chicago I heard nothing about this at all while it was going on. I heard rumblings of this on Saturday, but didn’t hear anything about all four segments (across the four days) until today.

This four day campaign was paid for by the Leo Burnett agency which is based in Chicago. Each day the ads gave Lebron James a different challenge. This Ad campaign seemed to be aimed at debunking the notion that Lebron shouldn’t come to Chicago because he would be in Michael Jordan’s shadow and compared to Jordan. Well, Lebron James is already compared to Michael Jordan and would be anywhere he goes. Thus, instead of trying to promote the many great reasons why Lebron should come to Chicago, they just aimed at getting across this one message.

I first heard about this Ad campaign on the radio, but I had trouble finding more information about it and pictures. So I included pictures of each Ad, which I thought was really well done. Here is the break down by day:






Who Deserves To Be An All-Star: 2010 MLB, Part I

Some quick notes before I tell you how MLB writers, players, managers and fans are, excuse my French, fucking retarded

- I am a firm believer that, like voting, you should have to take a test in order to vote for the All-Star game. And if you use the metrics RBI, Runs, Batting Average, or Wins to determine how you voted, you're automatically disqualified from voting. I don't care if you played baseball before or if you are currently playing- that doesn't mean you're smart enough to decide who's the best in your sport.
- This year, especially more than recent years, non-closer relievers were chosen. Guys like Matt Thorton, Arthur Rhodes, and Evan Meek were chosen as opposed to the teams respected closers. And that's a good thing. Ideally, the best bullpen pitcher on your team is NOT your closer, so that when your team is in a jam, your best reliever can come into the game and get your team out of the jam. It's nice to see these guys get more and more love as opposed to closers just because they get "saves".
- HOW THE FUCK IS ALEX RIOS NOT AN ALL-STAR!? Yes, I am a White Sox fan so of course I'm going to show love for my team, and there are others that got screwed this year, but this selection is just unjustifiable. Rios is 4th among AL OF in wOBA, 3rd among AL OF in WAR, 7th among AL OF in UZR/150, and 3rd among AL OF in OPS. He steals bases, hits home runs, has a batting average over .300 (all of which "baseball guys" like) and is by far the White Sox best player this year.
- I think Paul Konerko should be all All-Star too, but I'm not as worked up about it as I am about Rios. I think Morneau and Cabrera are better than Konerko, but he's light years ahead of David fucking Ortiz- who did get selected to the All-Star game. Konerko is t-2nd in the AL in home runs, 6th in the AL in OPS, 6th in the AL in wOBA, and 5th among AL 1B in WAR. By the way, Konerko is better than Big Papi in all those categories as well as: RBI, BA, OBP, and SLG. The one category David Ortiz does beat Konerko in: years of taking steroids.
- Stephen Strausburg does NOT, you hear me, NOT, deserve to be an All-Star this year. As awesome as he's been, like Manny last year, there are just as good of players out there that have performed just as well- but in many more games. They have been more valuable to their team than Strasburg has been in his six starts.
- Not every team deserves an All-Star. No other sports has this bullshit. If you're the Pittsburgh Pirates or Baltimore Orioles, you have a bad record for a reason, you're roster is full of shitty players. One of these shitty players does not necessarily mean they are good- especially to take away a valuable spot from a deserving All-Star. Ty Wiggington is an All-Star!? Really!?

Now onto to who actually deserves to start in the All-Star game

The AL Team
C- Joe Mauer (MIN)
1B- Justin Morneau (MIN)
2B- Robinson Cano (NYY)
3B- Adrian Beltre (BOS)
SS- Alex Gonzalez (TOR)
OF- Josh Hamilton (TEX)
OF- Alex Rios (CWS)
OF- Carl Crawford (TAM)
DH- Vladimir Guerrero (TEX)
SP- Fransisco Liriano (MIN)
- This pick actually shocked me too, but Liriano leads the AL in FIP and xFIP and his 3rd in the AL in K/9. All better than Cliff Lee and Jon Lester.

The NL Team
C- Brian McCann (ATL)
1B- Joey Votto (CIN)
2B- Chase Utley (PHI) inj
- 2B- Martin Prado (ATL)
3B- David Wright (NYM)
SS- Troy Tulowitzki (COL) inj
- SS- Hanley Ramirez (FLA)
OF- Josh Willingham (WAS)
OF- Corey Hart (MIL)
OF- Andre Ethier (LAD)
DH- Albert Pujols (STL)
SP- Josh Johnson (FLA)
- This was a hard one because you could also make a great case for Roy Halladay and Yovani Gallardo. Surprisingly, all three are better than Ubaldo Jiminez.

Next post, who deserves to be the back ups

Can The Cubs Please Fire Jim Hendry And Hire Josh Byrnes?

As you may or may not have heard, the Arizona Diamondbacks fired Josh Byrnes, one of baseball's smarter General Managers. As Dave Cameron of Fangraphs points out, ",if this was truly a decision made because of the D’Backs’ record the last few years, then I think their ownership just royally screwed up." I could not agree more.

Byrnes has built a quality young team in his brief tenure as GM and made some plus-quality moves this offseason in signing both Adam LaRoche and Kelly Johnson at basement bargain prices. Both players will likely fetch a quality investment return (both have already produced their salary's worth of production and could net a decent prospect) or, at least in Kelly Johnson's case, provide the Dbacks with a semi-long term, cost controlled option.

This move, a clear loss for the Dbacks organization, could be a big win for a team in need of a quality front office. Hint hint, Mr. Ricketts. This is the chance -- get rid of Hendry now and let Byrnes work his magic.

Further Proof That Baseball Players And Writers Know Nothing About Baseball

According to Anthony Castrovince of
"[T]he Russell Branyan trade . . . was, simply put, a very popular move in the Indians' clubhouse. Branyan was great with reporters, but he was not exactly up for team captain consideration by his teammates.

For whatever it's worth, the Indians are 11-6 without Branyan on the roster (6-6 when he was on the DL in April; 5-0 since the trade)."
Russell Branyan's 2010 stats: .264/.333/.500 (.361 wOBA), +4 FRAR fielding, +1.4 WAR (injury-shortened season)

The Indians, as a whole: .247/.323/.381 (.315 wOBA), 8.2 UZR/150

With the exception of Carlos Santana and Shin Soo-Choo, Russell Branyan's +1.2 WAR on the Indians in limited is higher than any other batter on the team (through 07/01/2010).

So yes, the Branyan trade totally makes sense for the Indians. He was costing the team at least a full run per game in Leadership Per Nine (L/9).

Top 50 Greatest Stand Up Comedians Of This Generation

EDITOR'S NOTE: I can easily foresee (especially from the GOI authors) disagreement about this list. As objective as I tried to be on this list, admittedly there's subjective bias added and everyone has their two cents. While I am not inherently against disagreement, in fact I encourage it, I will not tolerate any profanity or any grossly disparaging remarks. Any comments of the sorts will be deleted. That being said, argue away! Just be calm and reasonable about it.

Despite we here at GOI being amazing at sports knowledge, we are also knowledgeable about other things. One of those things is stand up comedy. We follow up and coming stand up comedians (in fact I saw Demitri Martin record his first break through album), follow Comedy Central and the late night circuit for new comedians, and even watch Last Comic Standing (in fact many comics on this list deserve a spot because of the show). Being just a big fan of any list in general, I decided to create a list of the greatest stand up comedians of my generation. Comedy Central ran a list of the greatest stand up comedians of all time, but many of those stand ups don't relate to me and the younger generations.

Here's a list of criteria I took into consideration for a comedian to earn a spot on this prestigious and desired list:

  • How funny the comedian is to me
  • How funny the comedian is to my friends and my generation as a whole
  • Repeatability and knowledgability of comedian and comedians' jokes to others
  • Impact of comedian on pop culture
  • Consistency of humor between multiple specials/ appearances
  • Impact of comedian on this generation

Now "my generation", despite it being an awesome Who song, can also be called into question. What constitutes "this generation"? Well, for starters, I am 23 years old, so for all kids within three years of me is considered part of this generation. But in reality, these are just comedians that were funny while I was in high school, college, and just out of college. Basically, comedians that had an impact on teenagers within the past ten years.

Now there are many funny people (most notably Stephen Colbert and Conan O'Brien come to mind) that don't deserve a spot on this list because they never were and are not stand up comedians and many funny people (most notably Seth Rogen and Jon Stewart) that were at one point stand up comedians, but have not really done stand up within the past ten years that earned a spot on this list. I tried to base this list on how a person was at their actual stand up routine, not their acting career, but shit happens. (Although I did factor in the comedian's comedy writing whether it was for a stand up special, a TV show, or a movie). There are also guys like Jerry Seinfeld and Ray Romano that still affected this generation, but I notably left them off the list because I didn't feel they were a part of the new generation of stand up- they were part of a prior one that just so happened to be so awesome that they carried over generations.

But enough disclaimers, on with the list!

50. Mitch Fatal
49. Kevin Hart
48. Andy Kindler
47. Jon Reep
46. Kristen Schaal
45. Eugene Mirman
44. Dan Mintz
43. Tom Papa
42. Nick Di Paolo
41. Jim Norton
40. Alonzo Bodden
39. Patrice O'Neal
38. Ralphie May
37. John Oliver
36. Paul F. Tompkins
35. Arj Barker
34. Russell Brand
33. Wanda Sykes
32. Zack Galifinakis
31. Doug Benson
30. Gabriel Iglesias
29. Aziz Ansari
28. Maria Bamford
27. Daniel Tosh
26. Chelsea Handler
25. Kathleen Madigan
24. Seth Rogen
23. George Lopez
22. Mike Birbiglia
21. Bill Burr
20. Ellen Degeneres
19. Greg Giraldo
18. Joel McHale
17. Sarah Silverman
16. Louie C.K.
15. Greg Fitzsimmons
14. Brian Posehn
13. Stephen Lynch
12. Dennis Leary
11. Jon Stewart
10. Jim Gaffigan
9. Adam Carolla
8. Patton Oswalt
7. Nick Swardson
6. Lewis Black
5. Dave Chapelle
4. Jeff Dunham
3. Mitch Hedberg
2. Brian Regan
1. Demitri Martin