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Why I don’t create new stats

I’ve been writing about baseball online for four years, and early on, I learned I needed to work hard to create anything meaningful. A few years ago, I killed a weekend creating a stat I dubbed, “Runs Accounted For.” It looked at a player’s run and RBI totals compared to his team’s run total and, as I later learned, was more or less a simplified version of Bill James’ work, Runs Created. I didn’t know this when I posted my piece (I hadn’t read a James book up to this time), and proudly, naively, I submitted a link to Baseball Think Factory expecting to be applauded.

The response I got is fairly typical for anyone who creates a new baseball metric and is one reason I don’t devote much time inventing stats.

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Sunday supplement: The late games!

@Rockies 9, Padres 1: Colorado’s 5th straight win matched their longest streak of last year. Three straight home games yielding 3 runs or less is a first since June 2011. And four straight starts of 6+ IP and 2 runs or less … they didn’t have even two in a row like that after June 3-4 last year.

  • Wilin Rosario has hit 33 HRs in his first 124 games caught, 138 games played. That’s 4 more HRs than any other catcher within his first 150 games played. Coors helps, of course — but he also has 13 road HRs in 238 PAs, which is about the same as Piazza’s career HR percentage.
  • Yonder Alonso took a solid 62 walks last year, but none in 6 games so far this season.

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Notes on Sunday early games

@Mets 4, Marlins 3: Miami squandered umpteen baserunners, then donated the game in the 9th. Ahead 3-2 with 1 out and none on, Steve Cishek aimed inside on a 2-2 count to Ruben Tejada, and nicked him. Kirk Nieuwenhuis looped a single to left-center, and Tejada dared the rag-armed Juan Pierre to catch him at 3rd.

With a 1-run lead and 1 out, Pierre’s play was to 2nd base: Keep the DP in order, keep the winning run at 1st. But he threw to 3rd, badly, and when the rookie 3B came off the bag for the throw and kept his head down afterwards, Nieuwenhuis waltzed over to 2nd. Then came the manager’s move I don’t think I’ve seen before:

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Saturday snippets

Twins 6, @Orioles 5: Chris Davis’s dinger drought at 1 game. O’s now 0-2 in 1-run games. Not that it means anything for the future.

  • Josh Roenicke, #2 last year in relief games more than 1 IP, worked the 6th through 8th innings, preserving the tie and earning his first AL win.

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Quiz – Ian Stewart (Solved)

ian stewartIf you don’t know Ian Stewart, he is a third baseman, playing mostly for the Rockies, but currently with the Cubs. He’s never had a qualifying season but has exceeded 400 PAs twice in his career. In the equivalent of 3 full-time seasons, he has career totals including 66 doubles, 10 triples and 59 homers. His career slugging percentage is almost 200 points higher than his batting average, and he has more strikeouts than hits in every season of his career.

Nondescript though that synopsis may be, Ian enjoys the distinction of achieving a certain offensive feat more often than every other major-leaguer who has played his entire career since 1916. What is this unusual feat?

It’s approaching midnight Eastern, 27+ hours after this quiz was posted, so I’m calling this one a stumper. The HHS readers were quick to identify that the quiz was about appearing in an opening day game on a player’s birthday, but failed to note the batting feat that Ian Stewart has achieved more often than any other player. That feat is to get a hit in an opening day game on your birthday, something that Stewart has done twice and 24 others have managed only once, including Daniel Murphy of the Mets this season.

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Friday game nibbles

@Giants 1, Cardinals 0: Barry Zito kicked off the champs’ home schedule, and his possible walk year, with 7 shutout innings and a perfect night at the plate, including a sacrifice that set up the only run. In a sign of respect for Zito’s role in the title run, he was left in to try for the last out in the 7th with 2 aboard — and he got it.

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Home away from home OR the road trip from hell

In his Game Notes for April 3rd games, John Autin identified that Michael Brantley had reached based 7 of 9 times in the first two games of the Indians’ series in Toronto. Turns out it wasn’t the first time Brantley has found Rogers Centre to his liking – in fact, he has been a Blue Jay killer just about every game he’s played there.

After the jump, more on players who really take a shine to some ballparks, and also those who would prefer to miss trips to certain cities.
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Quick hits on Thursday’s games

Phillies 2, @Braves 0: A streak-buster on two fronts. Atlanta had won Kris Medlen‘s last 23 regular-season starts, back to May 2010. Cliff Lee had lost his last 9 decisions when backed by 0-2 runs. The veteran was completely dominant, allowing just 2 singles, one of them promptly erased, in posting his highest Game Score since mid-2011.

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Wednesday’s game notes

@Diamondbacks 10, Cardinals 9 (16): Ian Kennedy‘s pinch-sac-bunt, which was followed by Cliff Pennington‘s game-winning single, was valued at -0.013 WPA. Pardon the Snakes if they disagree. Arizona’s tying sac fly in the 12th was also set up with a sacrifice, by Gerardo Parra. He also homered, tripled and stole a base, becoming the first since Kenny Lofton ’92 with that assortment.

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High Heat Stats joins the USA Today Sports Weekly team!

If you subscribe to USA Today Sports Weekly (which grew from Baseball Weekly) or buy it in your local news stand, you may have noticed that High Heat Stats is now a contributor:


This week’s piece is about high-leverage RBI as a fraction of a player’s total RBI, and shows how much better Prince Fielder was than Miguel Cabrera, and why the Angels might be in trouble.

Please pick up a copy locally if you’re not already a subscriber!

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