With a mere nine days left in the regular season, here are several go-to links to make your Monday a bit more bearable:
- Congratulations to the Reds and Giants on capturing the National League Central and Western Division crowns respectively. Christina Kahrl of Sweet Spot looks at what, more than anything, got Cincinnati to this point: quality starts from their pitchers.
- The White Sox got swept in Anaheim over the weekend and are clinging to a one-game lead in the AL Central. Here’s one silver lining: Leadoff hitter Alejandro De Aza has not grounded into a double play all season. As Big League Stew’s Kevin Kaduk points out, if De Aza keeps that drought going through the final 10 games, “he’ll become just the fifth batting-title qualified player since 1942 to go an entire season without a GIDP on his ledger.”
- On Thursday morning, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post argued that Melky Cabrera, who is still sitting out a 50-game, performance-enhancing drugs suspension, should not have to relinquish his claim to the batting title:
First of all, I didn’t realize people still cared about the batting title. I thought we all had agreed that batting average is a laughably antiquated statistic?
Second of all, of course Cabrera is eligible. If we’re going to start legislating he record books based on the notion of statistical integrity…holy cow, what a train wreck that would be. What do you do about Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron, the two leaders in all-time home runs – one of whom is highly suspected of using illgal PEDs and the other of whom confessed to doing so?
Even if we limited such legislation to people who have failed drug tests since 2005…how do we do this? Do you take away hits from Melky? Do you therefore adust the records of the pitchers who surrendered hits to Melky? And if we’re just taking away the “title” of batting champion…what is that accomplishing? Does the batting champion actually get anything? A free bowl of soup?
- On Friday afternoon, Cabrera, his union, and Major League Baseball agreed to a “one-time amendment” whereby the player would no longer be considered eligible for the title. Agreeing with Davidoff, Sport Illustrated’s Jay Jaffe wrote that the decision might have set a troubling precedent:
The move is an odd and unsettling one. Again, the batting title isn’t a subjective honor voted on by the media or uniformed personnel, it’s simple mathematics, a statistical record of what actually happened, and to make an exception to precedent opens up a can of worms that is destined to spill everywhere. We don’t have any real idea what impact PEDs have on player performance; despite the home run records that fell at the feet of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds in the late 1990s and early 2000s, dozens upon dozens of other alleged users appear to have seen little to no performance gain, and even the gains of the tainted players may be distorted by the era of rapid change that included expansion, new ballparks, rule changes, and changes in the baseball itself that took home run rates to unprecedented highs.
- Via Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra: Yunel Escobar recently wore eye black emblazoned with a Spanish-language gay slur that the shortstop later claimed was merely a joke. In response, the Jays handed the shortstop a three-game suspension.
- In a column entitled “Today in Poorly Formed Thoughts,” Dustin Parkes of theScore takes aim at the argument that, in determining who should be the American League Most Valuable Player, the offensive statistics embedded in the Triple Crown — home runs, runs batted in, and batting average – should be weighted far more than wins above replacement, which encompasses both offense and defense.
- The trailer for 42, the upcoming feature film starring Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson and directed by Brian Helgeland, went online last Thursday.
- One month ago, Pirates fans saw a postseason appearance as a 50–50 proposition. Two weeks ago, they were confident of their first .500 season since 1992. This morning, they get to read Fangraphs’ Alex Remington explain why the Pirates are so prone to second-half fades.
- Glenn DuPaul of the Hardball Times attempts to determine how best to determine a starting pitcher’s second-half earned-run average based on his performance in the first half. Interestingly, DuPaul discovers that strikeouts minus walks divided by innings pitched ((K – BB) / IP) is more accurate than more complex formulae.
- Ichiro Suzuki shows how to beat out a comebacker: Simply smack a one-hopper deep into opposing pitcher Jarrod Parker’s jersey.
That’s it. Have a walk-off week!