New Chapter..

Ever since I was six years old, all I have ever wanted to do was be around the game of baseball; specifically, I wanted to play professionally. As a kid, I had it all planned out. My plan was to play professionally for as long as I could, then become a scout or a coach and eventually, hopefully, make it to the front office. I still remember the day I first deeply thought about the front office of a Major League baseball organization…

The day was March 25, 1997. That day the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians announced a four player trade. A trade that involved my two favorite players, David Justice of the Atlanta Braves and Kenny Lofton of the Cleveland Indians. Justice was headed to Cleveland along with another player who I had great admiration for, Marquis Grissom. Lofton was coming to Atlanta along with hard throwing, left-handed, reliever Alan Embree. I was shocked, excited, but most importantly, fascinated. What allowed this trade to happen? How could this trade happen? Who made it happen? Why did it come just one week before the season began? What a shake up! These same two teams had just met in the World Series 17 months earlier, and each team was dealing a cornerstone of those 1995 teams. David Justice was a huge reason for the success of the Braves in the early 90’s and, before Chipper Jones came on the scene in 1995, was the face of the franchise…at least offensively. Kenny Lofton was one of the most exciting players in all of Major League Baseball, and he too was a huge reason for the success of the Indians in the 90’s. To this day, after 20 years of religiously following the game, this trade is still the most memorable for me. Not because the trade involved my two favorite players (I also happened to love both organizations) but because it changed the way I saw the game of baseball. For me, it opened up a whole new aspect to the game. I knew about trades and free agency before that day but, before then, I never deeply thought about them. That day I knew that one day I wanted to be involved in such a transaction. Not as a player…but as an executive. I wanted to be the person behind the scenes.

Since that day, back in the spring of 1997, it has been my dream to work in the Baseball Operations department of a Major League organization. For two decades I have been on the outside looking in…just a fan. Growing up I thought that by age 26 I would be much further along in my pursuit of this dream, but I am still just a fan and I will continue to be just a fan for the 2015 season. However, tomorrow morning I begin a new chapter in my life; a journey down a new road. I will drive 40 hours across the country from Southern California to Eastern Pennsylvania. I have never been that far east of the country. I do not know anybody out there. My closest family is 6 hours away. I will be living with two guys I have not yet personally met. I have no idea what to expect. I will be heading out there cold turkey. But, I do know this: I have been offered the opportunity to work as a Video Scout Intern for Baseball Info Solutions. This is my chance. My first real chance to prove to people who work in and around the baseball industry that I have something to offer. That I can add real value to a Major League organization. I truly believe this, with all my heart. I promised myself years ago that if I ever got a chance, even the smallest chance, I would take it and run with it. For the past 20 years, and especially the past few, all I have been asking for is just a chance…that’s it. Just one small shot to prove myself. Baseball Info Solutions has given me that chance, and I promise I will take full advantage of it.

“If I have half a chance I grab it, rabbit run.” – Eminem

“If you have the guts to be yourself…other people’ll pay your price.” – John Updike, Rabbit Run

(what a poor sap) – 11/08/2015

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San Diego Strikeouts?

Much has been made about the San Diego Padres improved offense going into the 2015 season. The additions of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Will Middlebrooks and Derek Norris have a lot people labeling the Padres a legitimate contender for the National League West in 2015. While I am not arguing that the offense did not improve with these moves, it has nowhere to go but up after finishing last in runs scored in all of Major League Baseball in 2014, it may not be as strong as Padres fans are expecting. Last year, the Padres finished with the sixth most strikeouts in the National League and the 10th most in all of baseball. The team combined to strikeout 1,294 times in 5,905 plate appearances, about 22% of the time. The addition of these five players, assuming each player stays healthy and plays for the Padres, will most likely lead to an even greater strikeout percentage for the 2015 San Diego Padres.

Listed below are the 2014 and career strikeout percentages of the Padres five newest additions:

Player PA (2014) SO (2014) SO Pct. (2014) PA (Career) SO (Career) SO Pct. (Career)
Upton 641 171 27% 4,314 1,026 24%
Kemp 599 145 24% 4496 1,064 24%
Myers 361 90 25% 734 181 25%
Middlebrooks 234 70 30% 894 238 27%
Norris 442 86 19% 982 223 23%
Total 2277 562 25% 11420 2732 24%

If we learned anything from last season, especially during the postseason, it is the importance of putting the ball in play. During last year’s regular season the San Francisco Giants struck out 20% (1245/6087) of the time, and in the playoffs they struck out 16% of the time (109/676). During last year’s regular season the Kansas City Royals struck out 16% of the time (985/6058), and in the playoffs they struck out 18% of the time (105/572).

Pennant Winners: 1983-2014

In the book The Hidden Game of Baseball, written by John Thorn and Pete Palmer, chapter 12 discusses the home and road winning percentages of the 166 teams who had won their league’s Pennant through the 1982 season (starting with 1901). According to the book, the league average home winning percentage, based on historical averages from 1901-1982, stands at .543; while the league average road winning percentage stands at .457.* Thorn and Palmer stated that out of the 166 pennant winners, through the 83 Major League seasons from 1901-1982, only 24 had home or road performances less than 10 percent above average (14.5% of pennant winners). To perform 10 percent above average at home a team needs to produce a .597 winning percentage; to perform 10 percent above average on the road a team needs to produce a .503 winning percentage. Only 7 of these 24 pennant winners played below .503 on the road, while 16 played below .597 at home.

Interestingly, in the 31 seasons since 1982, in which pennants were crowned**, 30 pennant winners have failed to play at least 10 percent above average either at home or on the road (48.4% of pennant winners). Now there are many factors as to why this percentage has risen so dramatically over the past 32 years, not the least of which is the addition of more teams and rounds in the playoffs. However, according to The Hidden Game of Baseball, this percentage was on the rise in the 15 years leading up to the 1983 season; largely because the AL and NL both split into two divisions for the 1969 season creating the need for a League Championship round in the playoffs. Out of the 30 pennant winners during this time period (1983-2014) 17 failed to play at least 10 percent above average at home, while 13 failed to play at least 10 percent above average on the road. Here is the list:

Year Team Pct. Home Pct. Road Pct. BPF
1983 Philles 0.556 0.617 0.494 99
1984 Padres 0.568 0.593 0.543 100
1987 Twins 0.525 0.691 0.358 105
1988 Dodgers 0.584 0.556 0.613 98
1989 Giants 0.568 0.654 0.481 97
1990 Reds 0.562 0.568 0.556 105
1991 Braves 0.58 0.593 0.568 106
1993 Blue Jays 0.586 0.593 0.58 101
1996 Braves 0.593 0.691 0.494 105
1997 Indians 0.534 0.543 0.525 103
1997 Marlins 0.568 0.642 0.494 95
1999 Yankees 0.605 0.593 0.617 98
2000 Mets 0.58 0.679 0.481 96
2000 Yankees 0.54 0.55 0.531 99
2001 Dimondbacks 0.568 0.593 0.543 108
2003 Marlins 0.562 0.654 0.469 98
2005 Astros 0.549 0.654 0.444 101
2005 White Sox 0.611 0.58 0.642 103
2006 Tigers 0.586 0.568 0.605 100
2006 Cardinals 0.516 0.613 0.42 99
2007 Rockies 0.552 0.622 0.481 107
2008 Rays 0.599 0.704 0.494 101
2008 Phillies 0.568 0.593 0.543 102
2009 Phillies 0.574 0.556 0.593 101
2010 Rangers 0.556 0.63 0.481 109
2011 Cardinals 0.556 0.556 0.556 98
2012 Tigers 0.543 0.617 0.469 105
2012 Giants 0.58 0.593 0.568 89
2014 Royals 0.549 0.519 0.58 105
2014 Giants 0.543 0.556 0.531 95

Bold = Highest and Lowest for each column

Notes

* Major League Baseball has gone through numerous changes during the 32 seasons since 1982, including the addition of 4 more teams. It is very likely that these changes have led to a difference in what constitutes a league average home and road winning percentage. However, for the sake of this article, lets assume that the league average winning percentages between 1901-2014 are identical to the league average winning percentages between 1901-1982.

** No postseason was played in 1994.

Sources

  • The Hidden Game of Baseball
  • Baseball Reference