Right Field

Reveille 3/11/13

Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make the second Monday of March a bit more bearable:

  • Bill Baer of ESPN’s SweetSpot examines Chris Sale’s contract extension and concludes that the White Sox got a bargain.

  • Meanwhile, John Lackey returns to the Red Sox rotation after Tommy John surgery but Full Spectrum Baseball’s Will Emerson explains that is hardly reason for the Nation to cheer.

  • A hockey match brawl broke out in the top of the ninth of the WBC first-round game between Canada and Mexico. Amazingly, the tournament organizers elected not to suspend any of the melee participants:

“Because at least one club — and potentially both — will not advance to the second round, WBCI has determined that disciplinary measures would not have a meaningful corrective impact,”

  • Closer Mariano Rivera announced at a press conference that he will retire after the 2013 season. A couple of related threads at Baseball Think Factory feature occasionally intense exchanges about Rivera’s value to the Yankees as well as about the value of the closer role itself.

  • As for the franchise, Rany Jazayerli of Grantland informs readers why “the end of the Yankees’ evil empire” is nearly upon us.

  • In an interesting Q&A that David Laurila of Fangraphs had with Farhan Zaidi, the director of baseball operations for the A’s describes why proprietary information is so important to his club:

Analytics, today, is kind of like 30 guys with 30 radar guns: That’s not meant as disrespect to scouts. I go out and scout, and a lot of times I’m one of the guys holding up a gun. It’s more of an analogy to recognizing what data is commoditized, and what data really gives you a competitive advantage. Knowing that — knowing when you’re using data that other teams have access to, versus data that is legitimately proprietary — is an important point to be able to recognize.

Everybody is holding up the gun and everybody writes down the reading like everyone is collecting performance data and evaluating it. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes that every team is doing individually, but really, much of that exercise is just running in place.

The question of what you’re doing that other teams aren’t is a tough question. You have to give your competitors respect. A lot of things you’re thought about, they probably have as well. You have to try to go a step beyond and do it better.

  • Thanks to the research of Laurila’s colleague, Jeff Sullivan, we now know that Gio Gonzalez’s impressive 2012 campaign included the most strikeouts of opposing pitchers, 41, since 1972, when fellow southpaw Steve Carlton K-ed 44 and Nolan Ryan punched out 42.

  • The Rawlings Sporting Goods Company and Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) have announced a new collaboration which will add an analytical dimension to the Gold Glove Awards. According to a SABR press release:

As part of the multi-year collaboration beginning with the 2013 season, SABR will develop an expanded statistical resource guide that will accompany the Rawlings Gold Glove Award ballots sent to major league-level managers and coaches each year. In addition, SABR will immediately establish a new Fielding Research Committee tasked to develop a proprietary new defensive analytic called the SABR Defensive Index™, or SDI™. The SDI will serve as an “apples-to-apples” metric to help determine the best defensive players in baseball exclusively for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award and Rawlings Platinum Glove Award selection processes. The collaboration also installs SABR as the presenting sponsor of the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award.

  • Matt Welch, editor in chief of Reason, is also an occasional contributor to Halos Heaven, a popular Angels blog. In his latest post, Welch excoriates a former sports editor of the Los Angeles Times for penning the “most inexcusably inaccurate, willfully ignorant, petulantly anti-journalistic columns I have ever read about the game of baseball.”

  • For those who have yet to draft for their Rotisserie teams, Ray Guilfoyle of Fake Teams reveals his revised 2013 list of the top 200 players and features Ryan Braun at no. 1.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Jason Epstein is the president of Southfive Strategies, LLC. He was a public-relations consultant for the Turkish embassy in Washington from 2002 to 2007.


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