The Gray Pages

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

What Separates Me From You

Tom Verducci, never one of my favorites, nevertheless has a great column reviewing the pitchers that have switched leagues over the past couple of years. His conclusion? That pitching in the NL will drop nearly a full run off a pitcher's ERA versus pitching in the AL.

This makes perfect sense to me. After watching last year's playoffs, I couldn't help but notice how thin National League lineups are. The Cardinals scored a pile of runs last year, but got very little production out of the 8th slot and (of course) their pitchers. If Reggie Sanders got on base with one out (he often batted 7th for St. Louis), there was a pretty good chance he wouldn't score. It's interesting (well, to me, anyway) to note that Coco Crisp and Reggie Sanders had basically the same number of at bats and OPS last year, and Crisp scored 14 more runs than Sanders did. The fact is, it's easier to pitch in the NL than the AL.

I'm a little irritated at T-Verd's laziness on the issue of walks. He found that the pitchers leaving the AL increased their walks from 2.2 per 9 innings to 2.6. No follow-up, just a guess from him over what might cause it. Over a 200-inning season, that's 520 walks versus 440, so we're not talking a small difference here. By my lazy-ass math that I've been using since I was 10, 80 bases is 20 runs. (I have no idea that's true, but it's always been my theory.)

I played around with the statistics at, looking for intentional walks in the No. 8 slot, which Verducci suggests is the difference in walks. Here's the list of everyone who had more than 3 IBB in the 8th slot last year:

Brad Ausmus, Hou (11 intentional walks)
Alex Cora, Cle (9)
Alex Gonzalez, Fla
Brian Schneider, Was
Khalil Greene, SD
Charles Thomas, Oak
Brent Mayne, LAD (8)
Craig Counsell, Ari
Mike Matheny, SF (7)
Robby Hammock, Ari (6)
Jose Hernandez, Cle (5)
Jose Castillo, Pit
Deivi Cruz, SF (4)
Joe McEwing, KC
Gary Matthews Jr., Tex
Laynce Nix, Tex
Gary Bennett, Mon (3)
Todd Greene, Col
Einar Diaz, StL
Raul Chavez, Hou
Neifi Perez, ChC
Wilson Delgado, Fla
Javier Valentin, Cin
Paul Bako, LAD
Mark DeRosa, Tex
Jason Phillips, LAD
Jason LaRue, Cin
Yorvit Torrealba, SF
Coco Crisp, Cle
Omar Infante, Det
Brad Hawpe, Col
Yadier Molina, StL

So, of the 32 players, 23 of them were in the National League. The other interesting thing I noticed is how often catchers bat in the eighth slot in the National League. More on this later.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Top of the Order

What Frank Has Done

Leading off: Brad Wilkerson. Well, this can't last. At career .261 hitter doesn't become a .400 hitter overnight. However, Wilkerson, or "Wilky," as I like to call him (actually, I don't) was clearly the guy who should be hitting leadoff, as I said a month age (scroll down to my most recent post). It's nice to have my requests honored. It's also important to note that he's 27, which is ALWAYS the year (well, 95 percent of the time, I'd guess) that players peak. If he can get on base at a .390 clip, it will make a big difference to this offense.

No. 2: After an unfortunate and thoughtless experiment -- Christian Guzman -- in this spot, Frank Robinson has moved my favorite Nat, Nick Johnson into this spot for the last 3 games. Hopefully, he's there to stay. It's important to remember that batting orders distribute plate appearances. It is inarguable that the No. 2 hitter will get more plate appearances than the No. 3, or No. 7. Why the Nationals would have ever wanted Guzman over Johnson here is beyond me.

No. 3: Jose Vidro. Vidro has all of the team's plate appearances in this slot, much like Jose Guillen is the only cleanup hitter the team has seen. Vidro is a point of concern for me. He's 30 years old, and coming off a year in which he only played 110 games due to injury. In the couple games I've watched on tv, I haven't seen anything that suggests Vidro is collapsing. In fact, his slugging percentage thus far is in line with his career averages, which I think is a good proxy for health. His on base percentage, though, has plummeted. Through six games, he has no walks. I'll withhold any criticism here. It just looks like a slump to me.

Friday, April 08, 2005

To Jason

Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for Ed Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.