Reveille 3/24/14

by Jason Epstein

Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday at the office a bit more bearable:

  • The Dodgers swept the two-game, regular-season opener in Sydney over the weekend, defeating the Diamondbacks, 3–1 and 7–5. Eric Stephen of True Blue LA has the details.
  • “Does an unusually strong March have any predictive power over a player’s performance once the games count?” Neil Paine of the new FiveThirtyEight.com asks readers. “Well, sort of,” he answers:

To raise his expected regular-season wOBA by just a single point, a typical player would need to hit for a wOBA roughly 17 points higher than expected during the spring.

In other words, spring numbers can and should affect our predictions for a player’s regular-season production, but only slightly, and only after a particularly strong or weak performance.

  • It appears that Max Scherzer will dip his toe into the free-agent waters after this season. According to the Detroit News’ Tom Gage via MLB Trade Rumors’ Zach Links, the 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner rejected the Tigers’ latest contract-extension offer

  • From Jon Tayler of Sports Illustrated, above you see what Aroldis Chapman’s dome looked like after undergoing surgery for fractured bones in his face, thanks to a batted ball that also gave him a mild concussion, though no brain or eye damage.
  • While acknowledging that the new protective caps that MLB had trumpeted during the offseason wouldn’t have protected Chapman on that particular play, USA Today’s Ben Nightengale wonders why any of the headgear, which the manufacturer says has been approved for use, has yet to be seen on the diamond.
  • Baseball Prospectus ran 50,000 simulations of the 2014 MLB season and the habitual-doormat Astros captured the AL West flag in 0.4 percent of them and secured a wild-card spot 1.3 percent of the time. Sam Miller explains what happened in two of the more bizarre scenarios:

The Most Utopian Timeline: Simulation 33913
What makes it great: Astros win 99 games, the second-best season in franchise history, with a roster that enters the season with three total All-Star appearances (Castro, Altuve, and Crain, one apiece), a combined $35 million in salary, and a combined one Jesus Guzman starting at first base. Fifty-three years of Astros baseball, and this is the roster that wins 99. . . .

The Most Overall WTF Timeline: Simulation 36845
What makes it overall WTF: The Astros win the division. The Cubs win the division. And, with 81 wins, the Marlins win the division. There’s a one-in-eight chance of an Astros/Cubs or Astros/Marlins World Series matchup here. Shoot, the Royals are in there, too, so it’s a one-in-16 chance of a Royals/Marlins matchup. Incidentally, written language is like 5,500 years old, so to find this timeline we had to run seasons for nine times longer than writing has existed, just FYI for your records or whatever.

  • Blame is being unfairly assigned to the Astros for not promoting to the big-league roster George Springer after the top prospect turned down a contract worth $23 million over seven years, says Rob Neyer of Fox Sports: “It’s the Players Association that has always acquiesced in, and even encouraged, a system that seriously underpays young players and seriously overpays old players.”
  • In his Sabermetric Research blog, Phil Birnbaum takes aim at a claim in ESPN The Magazine that researchers have found a way to quantify “clubhouse chemistry.” 

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!