Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Setting the Tone - An Observational Experiment

A hunch I've had about Alex Rios, especially watching him for this season and last season, has been that he has a tendency to let his first at-bat really dictate how he hits for the rest of his game. If he has a good result early, he hits well; if not, he has a bad game at the plate. So what I've decided to do is to actually chart this and do a little statistical analysis on the findings.

So here's the rough explanation:
Duration: April 21st to June 7th, 45 games
First AB will be labeled either 'good', 'neutral', or 'bad'
Batting average will be tracked in those three categories
Good ABs: Hits, Sac Fly
Neutral ABs: Walks, HBP, ROE, Sac bunt
Bad ABs: Any outs other than sacrifices
Stats tracked: Hits, AB, batting average, HR, RBI, K, RISP

Over the course of those games, results get tabulated, and at the end of the experiment, we'll determine the batting average over those three categories, and see how they bear out. Might extend the experiment further, as well, to 60 games or so. Seeing how this affects how Rios at the plate should be an interesting exercise, and my hypothesis is that the numbers are going to bear out the qualitative observations over the last year. Also, I could use a project like this to fill my time.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Week One

So I'm aware of the fact that over six games, what I say is not statistically significant, but thus far, I've liked what I've seen out of the 2009 Blue Jays so far. They've been able to come back and win games from behind that they had no business winning, have gotten good to excellent starting pitching, and have been tearing the cover off the ball, and that's led them to a 5-1 start. So in here, I'll feature a few cogs of the Jays machine and my thoughts on their performances this week.

The Brilliant
  • Adam Lind, DH. Lind has absolutely flogged the baseball in his first six games, putting up a six-RBI performance on opening night, and wrapping up this week going 12-26, with three homeruns and 12 RBI. Lind was a terrific hitter all through his minor league career, and expect him to continue to thrive here at the MLB level now under Cito Gaston and Gene Tenace.
  • Aaron Hill, 2B. Hill has put up a very strong 8-26 so far in the early goings, along with eight RBI and two homeruns, one of those a key three-run bomb in the second game against Detroit, and starting the season on a six-game hit streak. Hill has always had a quick bat; if he puts up power numbers like he did in 2007, and can improve his on-base percentage, he'll be a key piece that was sorely missed in 2008.
  • Roy Halladay, SP. Yeah, I don't think this name is really a surprise. Save a shaky 7th inning in his start against Detroit, Doc has been sharp as a razor, posting a 3.86 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, and a 2-0 record in his two starts. Expect another Cy Young push out of Roy, as well as a run at 20 wins once again.
The Good
  • Scott Rolen, 3B. Rolen is off to a great start as far as his hitting in concerned, currently sitting on 8-17, and continues to play his excellent defense, but didn't have a great start as far as production numbers go, with only two RBI. Admittedly, not entirely his fault with Lind hitting the way he has been this week.
  • David Purcey, SP. Purcey's start against Detroit was very well executed, in spite of the no-decision. The 27-year-old left-hander pitched seven strong innings with five strikeouts, two earned runs, and three walks. That last number he'll have to bring down, but he will win his fair share of games this season if he does.
  • Ricky Romero, SP. The rookie left-hander pitched a solid game against Detroit on Thursday, a six-inning, two-run, five-strikeout effort. The brightest thing about that game though, was that in one inning, with the Tigers having already scored two and still threatening, he escaped the inning, and would pitch well for the rest of the outing and get his first MLB win.
The Bad
  • Jesse Litsch, SP. Although Litsch pitched reasonably efficiently in his Wednesday start, he had a lot of trouble keeping the ball down, and got burned as a result, giving up five runs on seven hits, including three homeruns. On the plus side, it's a pretty minimal correction to make, and he should have a strong start on his next time out.
  • Rod Barajas, C. Barajas has started the season just 1-14 with just one RBI, and while you generally don't look for huge offensive output from the catcher position, you'd like Barajas to be giving you a bit more than this. Upside? Still strong defensively in the first week, and for the most part, he's got his pitching staff in good sorts.
The Ugly
  • BJ Ryan, RP. Ryan has started off ice-cold for Toronto this season, in two outings, he's had 1 2/3 IP, four earned runs, four hits, three walks, and a blown save. He needs to get it together, and get back to his 2006 form, or he'll likely lose the closer role if he can't find a way to throw strikes.
  • The Opening Night Fans. I had the misfortune of witnessing a debacle at the 2008 home opener last season, where rally towels, garbage, and a pizza were thrown onto the field, and a streaker took the field. A similar mess happened this season, with more garbage, baseballs, and golf balls thrown onto the field, bad enough that the Tigers actually left the field during a nine-minute delay, and resulted in a threat of forfeiture. That has to stop.
All things said, I think Jays fans have a lot to look forward to this season. If the young pitchers can play well and the offense keeps clicking, they'll be able to put the league on notice with a strong April.