Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chris Capuano Joins Exclusive Club

Pitcher Chris Capuano today joined an exclusive club of baseball players.  He didn't record his 3000th strikeout or win his 300th game.

Among members of the group he joined are: One Hall of Famer (Rickey Henderson), nine All-Stars (including Capuano), and a player whose last name would probably be first in an alphabetical listing no matter how many baseball player names you can find (David Aardsma).

One of the three Mike Stantons is on the list too (yes, I counted "Giancarlo" among the Stantons Mike) along with current Yankees broadcaster David Cone (which also marks the second David mentioned in this post if you happen to be keeping score).

So, just what is this group, exactly?  Well, today, Capuano became just the 21st player, and the thirteenth pitcher, to play for the Mets, the Yankees, and the Red Sox.

Yes, just like Bartolo Colon, Tony Clark, and John Olerud, Capuano is one of the few to have played for Boston, New York, and New York.  Is this as significant an achievement as having reached the 3000-strikeout plateau?  No.  Is it still pretty good? Yes.  Not everyone makes the majors, and fewer still get to play for three franchises that are so easily recognizable.  

So congratulations, Mr. Capuano, on your achievement and good luck in your Yankees tenure!

*All statistics and information used in this post came from

**You can find the full list of players who played for the Mets, Yankees, and Red Sox by clicking here, though Capuano has not been added to this list yet.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Which Starting Pitchers Should the Yankees Try For?

There are a few players the Yankees could pursue to fill their need for a starting pitcher, and three pitchers that, by contrast, I would suggest they not go after.  Let's start by separating those two groups from each other.

Pitchers the Yankees should leave alone:
1.  Cole Hamels
2.  David Price
3.  Cliff Lee

Pitchers the Yankees should go after:
1.  Bartolo Colon
2.  James Shields
3.  Ian Kennedy

Okay, so what's wrong with the first group?  Cole Hamels is having a good season, but he's owed waaaayyyyyy too much money.  His contract calls for $22.5 million per year from 2015 through 2018, along with two different options for 2019.  

The Yankees can pay someone else that much in the off-season without having to give up prospects.

Price?  He's young, he's not owed a ton of money, and he has a good strikeout-to-walk ratio ... but he is probably going to cost a lot in prospects.  In a New York Times article dated July 1, 2014, Jorge Arangure Jr. wrote of the Yankees trying to get Price, "they might not have the high-caliber prospects who would make a deal possible."

And Lee's coming off an injury, which should be a red flag to anyone.

So why might Colon, Kennedy, and Shields be good fits for the Yankees?

None of them would likely be very expensive, which is a plus.

Each would also provide a statistical upgrade to the rotation.  Here are the fielding independent pitching (FIP) and strikeout-to-walk ratios (K-BB) of Colon, Kennedy, and Shields compared to David Phelps, Shane Green and Chase Whitley.  They're written like slash lines for batters, like this: Player last name: FIP/K-BB ratio.  

Colon: 3.58/5.28
Shields: 3.80/4.04
Kennedy: 2.98/3.70

Phelps: 4.39/2.24
Green: 3.65/2.40
Whitley: 3.98/3.33

As you can see, the three players I said the Yankees should target are ahead in the majority of these stats.  That's why I think New York should go after them.  They're all doing well and could help the team.  

And should things go poorly, none of the three players are either owed all that much money or have a lengthy contract, so it wouldn't be a disaster.  But let's hope that if the Yanks do trade for any of these players, that things do go well and they end up helping the team.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Home Run Derby: Why I Think We Watch

Players hit balls.
Players hit balls far.
Players hit balls as far as they can.
Players hit balls as far as they can as many times as they can.

This is the Home Run Derby in a nutshell.  Baseball players take turns trying to hit as many home runs as possible before making seven "outs," with an "out" in this case being anything that is not a home run or a pitch taken by the batter.  Whoever hits the most home runs wins.

Well, I oversimplified the description a little bit, especially now that the rules have changed.  But the Derby winner does have to hit lots of home runs, and that's what I think makes the contest so great.

In fact, I think it's the number of home runs players hit that pulls me in personally as opposed to the distances.

Seeing Josh Hamilton hit 28 homers in a single round at Yankee Stadium back in 2008 was awesome.*  The laser show that Yoenis Cespedes put on last year was astounding.  And I'm looking forward to watching Cespedes and Giancarlo Stanton duke it out in a little more than an hour.

With all that said, I still hope the pair of sluggers, especially Stanton, hit the ball far.

So what's the real reason we (or at least I) love the Derby so much?

Without any specific research, I would guess it's some primal joy we have in watching a competition in which athletes use their abilities to repeatedly bash tiny objects long distances with sticks. A college professor of mine once assured me that certain physical exertions like crawling are part of human nature and I think it's sort of the same thing with the Home Run Derby.  

I could be wrong, of course, but pretty soon I'm not going to care all that much.  

It's almost time for the Derby and I want to watch.

*The number of home runs Hamilton hit in the first round in 2008 came from the article, "All eyes on Stanton in new-look Home Run Derby," by Anthony Castrovince.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Yankees Steal Brandon McCarthy

The New York Yankees acquired Brandon McCarthy from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Vidal Nuno with the Yankees also receiving cash from the D-Backs.

Good move by New York.

On the surface, neither player really seems to be all that spectacular.  McCarthy is 3-10 on the season with an ERA of 5.01, while Nuno is 2-5 with 5.42 earned runs per nine.  

Both also have a WAR of less than 0 on the season.

But dig a little bit deeper into some of their more advanced stats, and all of a sudden this is a trade that looks pretty good for the Yanks.  McCarthy's Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) on the season is 3.79, and he also has a strikeout-to-walk ratio that's ninth best among qualifying MLB pitchers.  

Meanwhile, Nuno's FIP is 5.15, and while that's lower than his ERA, the difference between those two stats is much lower for him than it is for the guy who's taking his spot in the Big Apple.  His K/BB ratio is also 277th among all MLB pitchers on the year.


And things get even a little bit better, at least for the Yankees. lists McCarthy's adjusted FIP at 98, while Nuno's is 128 (lower is better, so says Fangraphs).

Based on that info, I feel like the Yankees got the good end of the deal on this one.  They upgraded their starting rotation and  got cash from Arizona too.

You might even say that it was a steal.

**All of the stats used for this post came from, except for strikeout-to-walk ratios, which came from, and the statistics, which came from ... well,  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Jose Altuve and the Debate Over American League All-Star Second Basemen

About a month ago, I wrote a post in which I advocated for Chase Utley and Ian Kinsler to be the starting second basemen in this year's MLB All-Star Game.  While I haven't changed my opinion on Kinsler as the American League starter, I am going to discuss Jose Altuve and his qualifications for this season's A.L. All-Star Team.

In short, Jose Altuve is having an awesome season.

He's leading all MLB players in hits so far on the year, has a stolen base percentage of 92.5 for the season, and leads qualifying second basemen in on-base percentage (OBP) and on-base plus slugging (OPS).  

Alas, he's still not the best among A.L. qualifying second baseman.

Altuve's baseball-reference WAR of 3.2 falls short of Kinsler's 3.8. I don't know for certain, but I suspect this has something to do with his defensive WAR, a baseball-reference metric.  While Kinsler is second among qualifying A.L. second baseman in dWAR, Altuve is second-to-last, with a -0.2 mark.  

It's almost a shame that Altuve isn't better on defense.  Perhaps I'm partial to a smaller player since I'm only five-foot-four myself, but Altuve is having such a very good season, I really want him to start for the A.L. in the upcoming Mid-Summer Classic.  

Nonetheless, Jose Altuve is a very good player with very good qualifications.  He deserves to be an All-Star, though not really a starter, and, with skill, he'll hopefully qualify as a starting second baseman for future All-Star Games.

**Note-All statistics in this post came from, except for the fact that Altuve leads MLB in hits.  This comes from