Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday pythagorean - 4/20/2015

When you score runs and stop the other team from scoring, you win games. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, this was a week in which they failed to score runs or stop the other team from scoring, at least on too many occasions...

The Week That Was:
  • 4/13 - @Boston 9 - Washington 4. Tom Brady throws out the first pitch as the Red Sox open at Fenway on a beautiful day in Boston. Mookie Betts makes a HR-saving catch, steals 2nd and 3rd on the same play with the defense shifted against Ortiz, scores the first run of the day, and then hit a three-run HR to give Boston a 4-0 lead, all before the 2nd inning ends.

  • 4/14 - @Boston 8 - Washington 7. The Red Sox take a 5-1 lead with Justin Masterson outpitching Steven Strasburg through four innings. Masterson falls apart in the fifth, and Washington goes up 7-5. The Nationals' defense then falls apart, for the second day in a row, as Boston scores three runs in the 8th on a combination of walks and errors and defensive mental breakdowns to take the 8-7 lead which Koji Uehara, in his first appearance of the season, would protect.

  • 4/15 - Washington 10 - @Boston 5. Wade Miley gives up two in the first, then six more in the third, which he didn't get through, as Boston spends the entire afternoon trying - unsuccessfully - to come from behind. The 2 1/3 inning stint is the 3rd shortest start of Miley's MLB career.

  • 4/17 - @Boston 3 - Baltimore 2. Boston catches a break when Ubaldo Jimenez is thrown out of the game after intentionally hitting Pablo Sandoval in the 4th, Ryan Hanigan's 2-run HR ties the game in the 7th, and they collect their first walk-off win of the season when Xander Bogaert's bloop hit to right drives in Mike Napoli in the 9th.

  • 4/18 - Baltimore 4 - @Boston 1. Clay Buchholz allows only two runs in six innings of work, but the Boston offense does nothing, and the Robbie Ross' gives up a two-run HR in the top of the 9th to put it away for the Orioles.

  • 4/19 - Baltimore 8 - @Boston 3. For the third consecutive game, the Red Sox fall behind the Orioles 2-0, but Hanley Ramirez gives Boston the lead with a 3-run HR in the bottom of the first. The lead is short-lived as Porcello gives up another run in the top of the 2nd, then 2 more in the 5th and 3 more in the 6th for his first bad outing of the year, as the Sox lose consecutives games for the first time and fail to win a series for the first time on the young season.

Thoughts and commentary...
  • While down 2-1 against the Orioles, the Red Sox have not yet lost the series, as they played the wraparound Patriots' Day game this morning, weather permitting.

  • From Monday: "[W]e've got an early leader in the Player Of The Week Competition. So far, Betts has a 3-run HR, 2 runs scored, 1 walk, 1 hit and 2 stolen bases. And a 2-run catch. And they're not out of the 2nd inning yet..." Unfortunately for him (and the team), what Mookie's done best so far is hit line drives to outfielders on the warning track.

  • If you're concerned about Hanley Ramirez' defense in left field, you can find lots of people to join you in that concern, and commiserate with you, and spend time beating up on Hanley and his defense and his attitude with you. But you'll find them elsewhere, not here. As far as I'm concerned, Hanley's here to hit, and to catch the easy fly balls in left, and to track down and pick up and throw to second on the rest of them. Anything that goes beyond that does not interest me in the slightest.

  • Nothing good comes of competing with Washington on April 15.

  • There's been a lot of grousing - much of it well deserved - about the starting pitching during the second trip through the rotation. But they've lost 2-3 to Baltimore because they haven't hit. The Orioles have outscored them 14-7. They've gotten good pitching in 2 of the 3 games. Buchholz gave up two runs in six innings on Saturday, and Boston lost 4-1.

  • There has also been concern expressed about the bullpen. Thus far the relief pitching has been very good, or better.

  • Bad weeks (offense): Mike Napoli (.217/.280/.304/.584, 2.01 runs created, 2.79 RC/25 outs), Xander Bogaerts (.222/.300/.222/.522, 1.31 runs created, 2.34 RC/25 outs), Shane Victorino (.182/.400/.182/.582, 1.05 runs created, 2.62 RC/25 outs), Daniel Nava (.100/.100/.100/.200, -.72 runs created, -1.65 RC/25 outs). Yeah, Sandy Leon and Ryan Hanigan and Allen Craig were bad, too, but I expect that and will rarely bother pointing it out.

  • That was a quick hook on Jimenez on Friday night. And probably benefitted the Red Sox. I didn't have much of a problem with it, though. I thought that he intentionally threw at Sandoval, and it was close to his head. It was the kind of pitch that should lead to ejections, but usually doesn't. The fact that it usually doesn't is what leads me to label it both quick and questionable. If umpires consistently tossed guys for intentional pitches at the shoulder and head, I'd be fine with it.

  • Red Sox Goat of the Week - Justin Masterson was aiming for this, giving up 7 runs in just 4 2/3 innings, but Wade Miley matched him in runs while getting only half the number of outs.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - On a per-at-bat basis, it was Brock Holt (.412/.412/.471/.882, 3.29 runs created, 8.22 RC/25 outs), followed by David Ortiz (.375/.474/.625/1.099, 3.72 runs created, 7.75 RC/25 outs) (when he wasn't getting tossed for whining about calls.) For best cumulative performance, and Player of the Week, it's Dustin Pedroia(.333/.409/.556/.965, 3.88 runs created, 6.92 RC/25 outs).

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - The bullpen was, on the whole, effective, albeit with no standout performances. The starters, on the whole, were not, with a couple of performances that stood out. But not for good reasons. And there is no pitcher awarded this week.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/19/2015
Kansas City5.67(1)3.33(3)0.725(2)93930
NY Yankees5.33(4)4.67(8)0.561(6)7566-1
LA Angels3.58(11)4.17(5)0.431(8)57570
Tampa Bay3.92(8)4.85(11)0.405(10)58671
Chicago Sox3.45(12)4.73(10)0.36(14)47470

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Kansas City12240
NY Yankees8181

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Kansas City11844

Standings for the week
NY Yankees5.5(1)3.83(7)0.659(1)42420
LA Angels4.5(6)4(8)0.554(4)33330
Kansas City4.67(4)4.17(9)0.552(5)33330
Chicago Sox4(10)3.8(6)0.523(7)3223-1
Tampa Bay3.29(13)5.14(12)0.306(15)25341

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Monday Pythagorean - 4/13/2015

One of the things that I like to do during the baseball season is compile a weekly report of the AL standings, looking at runs scored and allowed, to see who's better than their records and who's worse.

For those unfamiliar, the Pythagorean report is based on a Bill James discovery regarding the relationship between runs scored, runs allowed and winning percentage. It intuitively makes sense that a teams record will be related to how many runs they score and how many they allow. What James discovered was that, for almost all teams, the winning percentage is very close to a ratio of the square of the runs scored to the sum of the squares of the runs scored and runs allowed. Which was dubbed the "Pythagorean" theorum of baseball.

The report consists of, for each team, their runs/game, runs allowed/game and Pythagorean project winning percentage, along with their rank among the teams in the league for each of those categories. The Pythagorean winning percentage is calculated as (r ^ 1.83) / ( (r ^ 1.83) + (ra ^ 1.83) ). (1.83 has been determined to be a slightly more accurate exponent with the current offensive levels than 2.) Using the Pythagorean winning percentage, the expected wins total is calculated and compared to the actual win total. Finally, any difference is expressed as "luck", with negative numbers representing underperforming teams.

Finally, there's a linear projection of final records, based on current winning percentage, and based on Pythagorean winning percentage.

Week 1 Pythagorean report

It's simple math, and you've all heard it before, but it's truth - any period of time over which you win 2/3rds of your games is a success. 4-2 is a successful week. Period. A team that wins 2/3 consistently all year ends up with 108 wins...

The Week That Was:

  • 4/6 - Boston 8 - @Philadelphia 0. Clay Buchholz shines with 7 scoreless innings, Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia (twice) and Hanley Ramirez (twice, including a grand slam) hit home runs as Boston opens the 2015 season with a comfortable and convincing win.

  • 4/8 - @Philadelphia 4 - Boston 2. The wind knocks down HRs from Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez, with Ramirez' shot a potential game-winning grand slam against Jonathan Papelbon in the 8th, and Rick Porcello's Red Sox debut is spoiled by a 3-run Jeff Francouer HR in the 6th.

  • 4/9 - Boston 6 - @Philadelphia 2. No one scores before or after the 3rd inning, but Justin Masterton only allows two runs in six strong innings, while also going 2-3 at the plate. Two games into the season, the ridiculous "when should we start worrying about Xander Bogaerts" stories are put to rest, at least for the moment, as he goes 3-4 and drives in 3.

  • 4/10 - Boston 6 - @NY Yankees 5. Strong effort from Wade Miley in his Red Sox debut, but doesn't result in a win when Edward Mujica allows a Chase Headley HR with two outs in the 9th. Boston takes leads in the 16th and 18th only to have the Yankees tie in the bottom of those innings. But NY can't match Boston's score in the 19th, and the Red Sox win the longest game (by time) in the team's history.

  • 4/11 - Boston 8 - @NY Yankees 4. Joe Kelly makes a start in NY rather than in Greenville (A) and is outstanding, while the Yankees look tired and weak on offense and in the field. Kelly leaves with a 5-1 lead after 7 dominant innings, retiring the last 17 Yankee batters that he faced, and giving a hug break to the Red Sox bullpen which had thrown 13 innings the night before.

  • 4/12 - @NY Yankees 14 - Boston 4. This one's over almost before it starts. As good as Buchholz was in his first start against the Phillies, he was that bad here, giving up 7 in the first, 3 more in the fourth after Boston briefly showed the potential for getting back into the game.

Thoughts and commentary...
  • In 1984, the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell published a book on baseball that's got some interesting stories, but isn't the greatest baseball book ever. What it does have, though, is a wonderful title. Why Time Begins On Opening Day. And this week, after a long off-season and a winter that left those of us in New England repeatedly buried in the snow, we finally got to the Red Sox much-anticipated opening day.

  • And what an opening it was. Baseball is a game in which perfection is fundamentally impossible. Yes, there are some games which are called "perfect", but if a team were actually playing a "perfect" game, it would never end, because they'd never make an out. The Red Sox made 27 of them on Monday in Philadelphia. That pedantry out of the way, there's really nothing more you could ask for from an opening day game than Boston got. Two HR from Dustin Pedroia, two from big-money addition Hanley Ramirez, one of which was a Grand Slam, another HR from lead-off hitter, rookie phenom Mookie Betts, seven scoreless innings from starter Clay Buchholz and two more scoreless from the bullpen, all adding up to an 8-0 win.

  • The obligatory second day off is a lot more palatable after the kind of opening that the Red Sox had than after the kind of opening that the Phillies had.

  • Ok, no one really thinks that Joe Kelly is going to win the AL Cy Young award, but it's a little bit less preposterous a notion after Saturday's effort.

  • The longest game, by time, in Red Sox-Yankees history. That covers some ground in a rivalry noted for extended game times...

  • The Yankees looked, and played, on Saturday exactly like a team that had lost a 19 inning game the night before.

  • As bad as the Yankees looked on Saturday, they looked better than Boston did on Sunday.

  • If Dustin Pedroia is healthy, if his hands and wrists are completely functional for the first time in three years, that's a tremendous boon for the Red Sox.

  • Craig Breslow, Robert Ross, Anthony Varvaro, and Junichi Tazawa combined to throw 12 scoreless innings on the week.

  • Understatement of the week: "Much better inning for Buchholz..." - ESPN announcer Dan Shulman, after Clay Buchholz retired the three Yankees he faced in the second inning on Sunday night. In the first inning, he'd allowed 7 runs, including a three-run double to Alex Rodriguez and back-to-back home runs.

  • Boston got outstanding starting pitching in five of the six games played this week, with Buchholz' Sunday disaster being the only exception. Of course, neither the Phillies nor Yankees looks like much of an offensive powerhouse right now, either.

  • Tales from the Jumping-the-gun department: Two (2) games into the season, there were already stories being written, and there was already angst being expressed on sports radio, about how long you could go with struggling Xander Bogaerts. To the extent that people feel contempt for sports-writers, this kind of nonsense is a large part of the reason why.

  • More than once this year, someone is going to say, "that's just Hanley being Manny." If he hits the way Manny did, it will be worth it.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Hanley Ramirez (.320/.333/.680/1.013, 4.86 runs created, 6.07 RC/25 outs) looks like he's going to do the job he was brought in to do. Dustin Pedroia (.207/.303/.448/.751, 3.42 runs created, 3.42 RC/25 outs) looks like he's finally healthy. But the Player of the Week goes to Xander Bogaerts (.407/.467/.519/.985, 6.33 runs created, 9.31 RC/25 outs).

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Before Sunday's first inning, there was a good possibility of seeing Clay Buchholz' name here. And I guess you are seeing it, but only in the context of saying that he is not the pitcher of the week. His first outing was outstanding, but you can't put your team behind 7-0 in the first inning and win the award, regardless of what else you've one, or what anyone else has done. Fortunately, there's another obvious candidate. Until late in the week, Joe Kelly was expected to make a rehab start in 'A' ball over the weekend. Instead, he ended up making a stellar start on Saturday against the Yankees, giving up only one early run, and retiring the last 17 batters that he faced in a seven-inning start, just hours after the marathon 19 inning game on Friday night had depleted the bullpen.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/13/2015
Kansas City6.67(2)2.5(1)0.858(2)51601
Tampa Bay4.67(8)4.5(6)0.517(6)33330
NY Yankees5.17(6)5.5(13)0.471(8)3324-1
LA Angels2.67(13)4.33(5)0.291(13)24240
Chicago Sox3(12)5.5(13)0.248(14)15241

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Kansas City1620
Tampa Bay8181

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Kansas City14022

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Sunday, March 01, 2015

Sunday music, 3/1/2015

Park Street Church Sanctuary Choir

Choral Introit

We Praise Thee
Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev
Salvation Is Created

Pavel Tchesnokov

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Red Sox spend a lot of money on Cuban teen. A LOT of money...

And apparently, there was good reason for doing so.

Keith Law (ESPN):
If Moncada were in the 2015 MLB draft, he'd be the first or second pick...He'd be a top-10 pick in any draft class, given his potential to play somewhere in the infield and hit for average and power; even if you want to cap his ceiling as that of an average regular at second or third, that's at least a $15 million-a-year player, and the Red Sox would recoup most of their investment before Moncada hits his second year of arbitration.
It may turn out to have been money just thrown away, but it sure looks like they have added a lot of talent to the organization in the last year. And, of course, by signing Moncado, we get the secondary benefit of the Yankees not getting Moncado. So that's a good thing, too...

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Don’t Blame Staples

Kevin Williamson, National Review Online:
San Francisco is raising its minimum wage from $11.05/hour to $15/hour, and the owners of Borderlands, who already were barely able to make the shop a going concern, announced that they would have to close. The minimum-wage hike meant that the store was going to go from making a princely $3,000 a year to losing $25,000 a year. Of course, you’ll still be able to get your sci-fi and fantasy novels – from Amazon, or from another similar operation without the labor costs involved with running a conventional bookstore. Which is great if you’re Jeff Bezos, but kind of stinks if you’re the sort of sad character (ahem) who likes to lurk around in bookstores. I’m perfectly happy to see every Staples clerk replaced by something sold to Staples CEO Ronald Sargent by Jawas offering a deep corporate discount. But, damn it all, I like bookstores. (And if San Francisco continues raising its minimum wage, the robots are ready.)

In San Francisco, the people who were bemoaning the impending closure of Borderlands admitted sheepishly that they’d voted for the minimum-wage hike. “It’s not something that I thought would affect certain specific small businesses,” one customer said. “I feel sad.”

Yeah, Adam Smith feels sad, too, you dope.

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The Daily Show host is leaving.

My reaction to the news that Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show is to quote, again, Screwtape.  Because this is what I always hear on the rare occasions that I'm unable to avoid listening to  Stewart1...

But flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people the joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it. If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour-plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy: it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practise it...

That sums up Jon Stewart for me.  "The joke is always assumed to have been made.  No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it."   And, of course, his audience, and his fans, are convinced of their own moral and intellectual superiority.  The cloud of smug emanating from every frame is intense. 

The downside is that he'll no doubt be replaced by someone just as bad, doing the same sort of schtick.  And no doubt he'll pop up somewhere else, doing the same thing.

But I'll manage to continue not watching...

1 - I don't ever watch his show, but there are enough people who do, and enough commentary about it, and enough viral videos demonstrating his awesomeness in interviews with relevant political figures, that I've seen quite enough of him, I believe, to comment. So I shall.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

What Shall We Give?

One of the pieces that the Park Street Church choir and orchestra performed at last night's Service of Lessons and Carols is this gorgeous piece, What Shall We Give? Here's the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performing it, conducted by its composer Mack Willberg.

Their choir and orchestra are larger than ours, but so is their space. I may be (ok, am) biased, but I think it sounded just as good in Boston last night as it did in this lovely video...

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Lexington fifers and drummers take Tea Party Ships and Museum honors

The headline is wrong, as there were no pipers present (well, none playing pipes anyway) but the sentiment is right.

Lexington pipers take Tea Party honors | Boston Herald

Congratulations to the William Diamond Juniors!

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