Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.

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Posts about Professional baseball

Mid-day talker: Twins catchers worst in MLB at framing pitches in 2014

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: April 18, 2014 - 12:46 PM

The Twins are above .500 through 15 games. That's good! They are getting a ton of unexpected contributions on offense (Chris Colabello and Jason Kubel leading that charge), their starting pitching has been at least contributing in a lot of games lately and they have been aggressive on the bases in key situations.

But despite dispatching Ryan Doumit in the offseason, who was one of the worst pitch-framers in MLB from 2008-2013, the Twins are still lagging seriously behind in that department.

In fact, according to Baseball Prospectus, they are dead last (H/T Jeremy Nygaard from Twins Daily for the link on Twitter).

BP tracks this with what it calls a "Regressed Probabilistic Model" of framing (RPM for short). In brief, RPM works by calculating the combined probability (and associated run value) that each pitch will be called a strike; summing those probabilities (and run values) across opportunities; attributing those values to a player (catcher or pitcher); and regressing "career" values to the mean.

So far this season, Twins catchers -- primarily Kurt Suzuki -- are the worst in MLB at essentially stealing strikes ... or, if you prefer, getting borderline pitches called strikes instead of balls. The calculations from BP say this has cost the Twins at least four runs already this year.

The Yankees, by contrast, are at the top of the food chain when it comes to gaining "extra" strikes on borderline calls. That has gained the Yankees more than six runs, per the site.

That sounds like a lot of runs so early in the season, but it is conceivable when you think about it. Let's say a 2-1 borderline pitch is called a ball instead of a strike. Using the larger sample size of 2013, Twins pitchers had a whopping 1.093 OPS against them after a count went to 3-1. But they had an OPS of just .659 against them after a count went to 2-2. Not every borderline call matters. But we can see how enough of them matter to add up to a significant number of runs.

Twins P Kyle Gibson lobbied for rare complete game, but he was overruled

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: April 17, 2014 - 3:19 PM

Kyle Gibson had been effective through two starts this season, allowing just one run in each case and getting a victory both times. Within both starts, though, there were cracks that left plenty of us with "yeah, buts." He went just 11.1 combined innings in the two starts and allowed eight walks, neither of which are signs of sustainable success.

On a blustery Thursday afternoon, though, Gibson continued his trend of great results and reversed the trends of high walks and low innings. He went a career-high eight innings of shutout ball, walking just one and using just 105 pitches. On the postgame radio interview, Gibson said he lobbied to try to pitch the ninth and go for a shutout, but he was overruled -- understandable with a seven-run lead on a chilly day.

Had he gone out and thrown the ninth, however, Gibson would have joined some rare company.

There have only been FOUR complete games pitched all season, which will probably make retired players from previous generations spit and curse. The Twins had just one CG last season, a shutout delivered by Andrew Albers.

If Gibson keeps this up, though, he should get his chance -- maybe on a warmer day in May or June.

Tuesday (The racial profiling of a former MLB player) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: April 15, 2014 - 9:14 AM

Former Major Leaguer Doug Glanville, now a baseball analyst for ESPN, has a thought-provoking piece about racial profiling over at the web site for the Atlantic. Glanville, who lives in Hartford, Ct., was shoveling his driveway one day when a police officer approached him.

He approached me with purpose, and then, without any introduction or explanation he asked, “So, you trying to make a few extra bucks, shoveling people’s driveways around here?”

All of my homeowner confidence suddenly seemed like an illusion.

It would have been all too easy to play the “Do you know who I am?” game. My late father was an immigrant from Trinidad who enrolled at Howard University at age 31 and went on to become a psychiatrist. My mother was an important education reformer from the South. I graduated from an Ivy League school with an engineering degree, only to get selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft. I went on to play professionally for nearly 15 years, retiring into business then going on to write a book and a column for The New York Times.Today, I work at ESPN in another American dream job that lets me file my taxes under the description “baseball analyst.”

But I didn't mention any of this to the officer. I tried to take his question at face value, explaining that the Old Tudor house behind me was my own. The more I talked, the more senseless it seemed that I was even answering the question. But I knew I wouldn’t be smiling anymore that day.

In the long piece, the situation's many layers are explored. Two things struck a particular chord with us: 1) the fact that it didn't escalate into anything beyond a few calm words exchanged, yet the damage was still quite evident, and 2) the fact that Glanville seems to have a very good sense of self and his particular upbringing throughout it.

Please give it a read. You won't be disappointed.

Monday (So, what did we miss?) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: April 14, 2014 - 9:46 AM

 

So, as some of you might have noticed, we haven't posted in these parts for a while. And as some of you might know, the reason is pretty simple: we had two weeks off after the March 30 birth of our first child, a daughter named Anabel.

 

She arrived after a somewhat lengthy process, but she did arrive right on her due date -- which also happens to be the same birthday as our wife Julie (aka the RandBall Better Half). She is healthy, sweet, and generally good-mannered (both of them are, we suppose), though Anabel did have her first rough night last night by keeping us up until about 3 a.m. with unexplained crying.

Babies are going to do baby things.

The past couple weeks have been somewhat of a blur. They also happened to be two pretty crazy weeks of sports. As such, here are very brief recaps of what we missed out on posting on, even if we barely remember a lot of it happening:

*UConn won the NCAA men's hoops title; the Gophers won the NIT title. Wisconsin lost in the Final Four. We were watching "Say Yes to the Dress" in the hospital during a couple of Elite 8 games since the person delivering the baby gets the remote, so don't come back to us for much more insight than that. (Side note: What is the point of that show? Nobody wins anything. There's not really a host. It's just basically watching people shop for a wedding dress.)

*Small sample size, but the Twins can hit but can't pitch? Is that right? As expected.

*Corey Brewer scored 51 points in a game? Also, the Wolves have defeated the Grizzlies, Heat, Spurs and Rockets while we were away, but they also lost to the Magic and Kings? Yeah, that sounds just about right for a season that makes no sense.

*Justin Holl. Seriously, one of the most amazing finishes to a game we have ever seen. No other way to describe a short-handed tie-breaking goal with 0.6 seconds left in an NCAA semifinal against a bitter rival.

*And the Wild will face ... Colorado in the playoffs? We can only hope coach Patrick Roy comes out of retirement to let in another Game 7 overtime goal.

OK, there was tons more that happened. But we need to save some of it for some longer posts on what figure to be plenty of long nights.

TFD: Derek Jeter is the 11th-greatest leader in the WORLD, says magazine

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: March 26, 2014 - 5:12 PM

Yeah, Derek Jeter is retiring so we need to say more nice things about him than usual. But is he really the 11th-best leader in the world?

That's what Fortune magazine will have you believe:

As he begins his 20th and final season in pinstripes, Jeter remains the type of role-model player that even a Red Sox fan must grudgingly respect. It's not the five World Series rings he's won or his team record for career hits. In a steroid-tainted, reality-TV era, Jeter, the son of two Army veterans, continues to stand out because of his old-school approach: Never offer excuses or give less than maximum effort.

Never gives less than maximum effort except with gift baskets. Probably why he isn't number one.

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