Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Shamelessly Exploiting Kevin Correia's Hot Start for Pageviews

Do you like meaningless stats?  Do you enjoy cherry-picking?  How about fallacy?

Are you enamored with Kevin Correia and his shockingly awesome start to this season?

Do you like being asked questions?

I thought it might be fun to look at Kevin Correia's stats, with an eye toward history and multiplication.  If you think that sounds fun as well, please keep reading. 

Pro-rated stats

The Twins have played 22 games this season.  Correia has started five games and stands to start about 28 more (give or take, depending on whether the Twins move to a one-man rotation or something bizarre like that). 

Wait, let's explore that.  If the Twins decided, "hey, let's see if we can't make Kevin Correia's arm explode" and allowed him to become the full-time starting pitcher, he would get 140 more starts.  Right now, he is winning three of every five starts and losing once in five.  This would be his record if those numbers held (which I am pretty sure they would):


Hmm, that's an awful lot of losses.  He would probably lead the league.  Here is how many strikeouts he would have, averaging 15 for every 5 starts:


That's a lot.  However, that would be over roughly 1050 innings, and thus not very impressive but really impressive. Nolan Ryan struck out a modern record 383 batters in 1973, and did so in 700 fewer innings.  Not nearly the workhorse Correia could become under this scenario though.

Ok, this is just not realistic.  I mean, if any team is going to a one-man rotation, wouldn't the Twins be the last team you would expect?  Let's try to be normal here.

If Correia keeps this pace and gets 28 more starts, here will be his final numbers on the season:

9.9 rWAR, 2.1 fWAR (THATS A JOKE DO YOU GET IT?) 240 IP, 20-6, 2.23 ERA, 225 hits allowed, 59 ER, 33 BB, 99 K, 0 balks, 0 wild pitches and 0 hit-by-pitch.

I'm quite certain that FanGraphs.com would 404 as well.

Find players with crazy rate stats like Correia's

Pro-rating stats is easy. It's basically multiplication, which any eight-year-old can do.  Six-year-olds?  Not so much, but six-year-olds lack in a lot of areas, if we are going to honest with ourselves.    

Using Baseball Reference's season finder, we can pinpoint just how many pitchers have stats like Correia's and how they compare.  I'll start with his rate stats, which currently sit as such:
  • SO/9 - 3.7
  • BB/9 - 1.2
  • HR/9 - 0.5
  • H/9 - 8.4

14 pitchers have posted a season with those stats, since 1901.  It hasn't been done since 1942 which simply means that Correia is a throwback.  Tiny Bonham, Babe Adams, Slim Sallee, and Noodles Hahn have the most ridiculous names from the list.  Oh, and Al Orth.

So, it's rare.  I am sure many pitchers have put up comparable stats over 36 innings though.  Correia's walk rate alone is masterful.  I wonder how many pitchers have had a walk rate that low for a full season...

93 is that number, most recently Cliff Lee just last season.  Brad Radke did it four times and Carlos Silva once, for a nice 4:1 Brad to Carlos ratio.  The highest season ERA on this list is Radke's 4.49 back in 2003.  

The best ERA from someone who didn't pitch when all people who were photographed looked surprised that their photo was being taken even though you had to sit for like, a really long time, is Greg Maddux, when he posted a 1.63 ERA back in 1995. 

On the flip side, Correia's strikeout rate is quite low.  Historically low, one might say less than confidently. 

It's not really that historic.  Actually, it has happened 2,237 times since 1901.  Rather than be thorough and comb through the data, let's cherry-pick, as you all tacitly agreed that you enjoyed it.  Since 1961, this feat has been accomplished 261 times, which is much more manageable for me. 

The worst ERA of that group belongs to Livan Hernandez, who posted a 6.05 ERA in 2008, at the age of 67.  Carlos Silva was second, at 5.94 back in 2006.  The best ERA of this bunch belongs to Joe Horlen, with a 2.06 ERA back in 1967.  Correia's current ERA would be the 4th best since 1961 with a strikeout rate as low as 3.7 per nine innings.

Since 1961, only five names appear on both lists, and one is a 2005 Carlos Silva, which has an oak-y finish. 

Correia currently has a 179 ERA+.  This number is astronomical.  Just how astronomical?  Well, only 68 pitchers have posted such an astronomical number since 1901.  Just glancing at the list, Randy Johnson did it 58 times and Pedro Martinez did it 57.  I could be counting poorly, as I was hit in the nose with a dodgeball while putting eye drops in.  Regardless, if Correia can keep up that number, he will join some elite, blurry company.   

Other Fun Facts/Miscellany
  • Correia is currently tied for 100th in the MLB in strikeouts.  Anibal Sanchez struck out 17 in one game.
  • Correia is tied for 7th in fewest walks, just ahead of Kevin Slowey.
  • Correia is 20th in ERA, just ahead of Kevin Slowey.
  • If you rearrange the letters in Kevin Correia, you get Cevin Korreia. 
  • Kevin Correia's fastball sits at about 90, or roughly 20 MPH faster than you can throw (probably more or even a lot more).
  • Joe Mauer is his catcher (I think), so that probably explains everything.
  • Correia was a Giant, then a Padre, then a Pirate, now a Twin, always a shapeshifter.
  • Correia's GB% is 45.8%, which makes him a fly ball pitcher, no matter what Beck Bremleven tries to tell you.
  • The proudest I have ever been of an analogy is from my Correia signing post.  See if you can find it!


Kevin Correia is pitching better than anyone expected.  Anyone.  If someone tries to tell you that they envisioned this level of performance, you have my permission to tie their shoes together, but only as a lesson.  Please draw their attention to the tied together laces and explain to them the lesson you have taught them.  I mean it, no one needs to get hurt just because they are a filthy liar.  His numbers are fun to look at because they are so unexpected.  I look forward to seeing what craziness his numbers will bring in the future.

Seriously, no one make anyone trip on their laces.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weekend Thoughts (4/28/2013)

The Twins split their four-game series with Texas this weekend.  Unfortunately, I missed the Sunday game due to something called "Couples Shower."  I was not aware of such thing, but have since decided that these should be outlawed completely.  I won a game of Bingo where all the numbers were replaced with wedding terms.  I was told I could pick any prize I wanted, so I chose "watching the Twins' game."  This was met with laughter, which was followed by my sadness.  Total abomination.  Where were you on this one, James Madison?

Anyway, I watched the other three games.  

I've stressed patience with Aaron Hicks, but I'm losing patience with Trevor Plouffe.  Check out his career lefty/righty splits:

vs RHP as RHB215659594129272236447147.217.281.386.66722910.24786
vs LHP as RHB1102422175814113322042.267.335.521.8551137.274137
vs LH Starter6962268247325915114361952.239.296.478.7741187.249113
vs RH Starter17114863356486128262226048137.227.296.397.69322410.25794
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/28/2013.

Is it possible that Plouffe is just a good platoon player, and nothing more?  I still want to see Plouffe get about 550 at bats this season, but I'm not sure he will earn that chance.  Eduardo Escobar is hot right now, and getting him some time against right-handed pitching might not be a bad idea.  Plouffe has a full season's worth of plate appearances against right-handed pitching, and the results are not pretty.  If you consider that his defense has been shaky and his throws are always adventurous, there are many reasons to be concerned.

Aaron Hicks

I vowed to not write about Hicks until there was something new to discuss, and I finally feel that Hicks is doing things that need to be discussed.  He seems to be turning the corner, but I refuse to speculate about his confidence level or concentration level, as I am not inside his head.  However, his competence level is up and that is something I can clearly see. 

He made a variety of impressive plays this weekend.  The four most memorable plays were probably his delayed steal on Friday, his awesome diving catch on Saturday and his 2 RBI double on Saturday.  He also showed off his strong, accurate arm in the second inning of Saturday's game, firing a laser to second to get Nelson Cruz trying to stretch a double.  However, two other plays caught my eye, each with more subtle impact. 

The first play occurred in the second inning of Friday night's game, when Hicks played a ball perfectly off the wall and nailed the cut-off man.  Pedro Florimon threw a rocket home to get Geovany Soto at the plate.  Hitting the cut-off man is obviously important, but sometimes guys with big arms will try to throw too much, so to speak.  Hicks is a flamethrower, but still seems to understand the importance of good, fundamental baseball. 

The second play was on Saturday and directly lead to the Twins'  first run.  Hicks was on first after reaching on an error.  Eduardo Escobar hit a rocket to left, and Hicks read the play the whole way.  He used his great speed to get to third without a throw.  It was an aggressive and correct play and when Brian Dozier hit a long fly to center in the next at-bat, Hicks scored easily.  These are two excellent examples of how Hicks' defense, baserunning and arm make him a more valuable player than his offensive stats may ever show. 

Brian Dozier

So far, so good.  This applies both to his move to the leadoff spot and his move to second base.  He looks fluid at second and provides a decent amount of range.  He doesn't seem to have any issues turning double plays.  At the plate, Dozier has been great since moving to his new spot in the lineup.  The type of hitter we (as fans) have to hope Dozier is (good plate discipline and good contact) is suited for that part of the order.  I fully expect Hicks to return to the leadoff spot at some point, but having Dozier there for now makes sense. 

Eduardo Escobar

Is Escobar the new Alexi Casilla?  He's short, small, and plays excellent defense.  He can play all infield positions.  He's right handed and a switch hitter.  He seems gregarious and seems to enjoy playing baseball.  He's probably my favorite player and I'm not sure why.  It all adds up.  Let's just get some space between his front teeth and call it a day.  I fully expect Escobar to cool off, but having a new, cheap Alexi Casilla isn't a bad thing.  While on this topic, I wrote about Casilla's HOF candidacy on Saturday.  

I think we have reached full "get excited" mode with Meyer.  Here are his stats so far this season:

2 Seasons1262.682929151.0118484565316566151.1327.
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/28/2013.

Small samples aside, the strikeouts and walks are definitely encouraging.  A slightly lower walk rate would be nice, but a K:BB ratio over three is always positive.  If Meyer keeps this up, he'll probably be in Rochester at some point.  I still think it's a stretch that he gets to Minnesota, but next season seems very likely.  Twins' fans have longed for an "ace" since Johan Santana was traded away.  Meyer has that potential.  

Get excited!

Other MLB Thoughts

Good gravy.  I picked Harper as my NL MVP prior to the season.  I also predicted a 40-40 season, which is very unlikely because he doesn't need to steal bases anymore.  The MVP part seems very reasonable.  However, I called the power even earlier.  Here is the first sentence that I wrote about Harper when I chose him as last seasons' NL Rookie of the Year:

You can click the quote if you want proof.  I wish I hadn't written "I think" because I was sure of it.  His power is insane.  Just look at his swing:

The controlled violence he creates with that swing is unreal.  If he doesn't hit 40 home runs this year, next year, the year after that, and every year going forward, it will be due to injury or a strike or the collapse of baseball as a sport.  Otherwise, there's just no way.

While I'm patting myself on the back, I called Matt Moore as an AL breakout player before the season.  It was an easy call, as Moore has tons of talent and was considered a prospect on par with Mike Trout and Harper prior to last season.  It's coming together for Moore and Tampa Bay this season.  Check out these stats from April:

2013 24 5 0 1.000 1.13 5 5 32.0 13 4 4 3 15 38 338 0.875 3.7 0.8 4.2 10.7 2.53
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/28/2013.

Those stats?  They're real, and they're spectacular.  They also might be a bit lucky, but that doesn't change them one bit.

St. Louis Cardinals

Oh yeah, the Cardinals are pretty much always good.  I thought Cincinnati would easily win that division and I figured San Francisco and Atlanta for the two Wild Cards.  However, I failed to remember that St. Louis is always good.  Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina are probably all Hall of Famers.  Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams are nice, young players, although Adams is hurt right now. 

However, St. Louis' pitching is what I am drawn to.  Shelby Miller is having an excellent season, and showing why he was such a coveted prospect.  Jamie Garcia and Lance Lynn have been great.  Jake Westbrook has been lucky good, but that works for now.  Adam Wainwright has a 37:1 K:BB ratio!  The bullpen is excellent, lead by Edward Mujica (terribly underrated) and Trevor Rosenthal (terrifying fastball).  The Cardinals are always balanced and always good.  I always forget that too.

Washington Nationals:

The Nationals went through a bit of a swoon recently, but it is way too early to give up on them.  ESPN should especially know better.  Check out this screen grab I got on Friday:

I think two Mets teams would be too much for Mets fans to handle.  Have a nice week everyone!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Exposing a Hidden Hall of Fame Player?

Earlier this week, I wrote about Joe Mauer and his Hall of Fame career.  I was really taken by just how well Mauer stacks up against catchers throughout history, players from this era and Hall of Famers in general.  If you didn't read it, you can find it here.  If you did read it, you can find it there too, but you probably shouldn't read it again.  Read this instead.  I thought, well, this is probably an exercise that I could complete for a lot of players, to see if anyone's greatness is being overlooked.

Using Baseball Reference's amazing play reference, I shall set out on a journey to find an overlooked player and rightfully adjust everyone's attitudes on his playing career.  If I can truly change the minds of the masses, then I will become the most powerful baseball blog-guy of all time.  If I can do this successfully, my legacy will be cemented right next to that DIPS guy and whoever invented OPS.  This is my one chance, and I cannot blow it.  History awaits.  Now, to pick the perfect candidate...

Alexi Casilla seems like a good choice.

Here are some Sexi Lexi facts:
  •          Casilla is a middle infielder
  •          Casilla debuted in 2006 at age 22
  •          Casilla is 28 and in his eighth season
  •          Casilla is not a power hitter
  •          Casilla is not a good hitter
  •          Casilla's has two skills - baserunning (?) and throwing the ball while completely parallel to the ground
  •          Casilla has played exactly 500 games in his career.  Round!

How does Casilla compare to his contemporaries in the middle infield?  Casilla has had 1794 plate appearances in his career.  Between 1988 and 2912, there are 121 middle infielders with roughly that many or more plate appearances.  Casilla ranks 100th in OPS+, right ahead of Pat Meares.  We are not off to a good start here.  He's 114th in home runs, 116th in RBI, 119th in hits, 94th in OBP, 104th in slugging percentage and 98th in batting average.

This isn't going well.

Well, this isn't Casilla's game.  He's not a hitter, he's a speed guy!  I'm guessing he'll be great in the speedy categories like doubles (114th), triples (95th), stolen bases (59th), and runs (114th).  Hmm.  He does have the second fewest at bats on this list, so it's pretty obvious that he just needs a chance to hit more, right?

Is it possible that Casilla just stacks up better against everyone?  Perhaps his skills do not compare favorably to other speedy infielders, but will look shockingly tremendous against plodding corner infielders and stupid outfielders.  Let's see how Casilla ranks within a different sample: 

Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1961 to 2012, Played 85% of games at C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF or DH, (requiring At least 1750 plate appearances), sorted by greatest Adjusted OPS+:

Casilla ranks 1209 out of 1331 players.  Crud.

Oh oh, maybe stolen bases!

Casilla ranks 498 out of 1331 players.  Blast, then crud.

So what?  Casilla's young.  I bet a lot of guys started their careers as bad hitters who offered little on the bases because you can't steal first and got hurt a lot or was just benched due to better options.  The only way to know for certain is to check Casilla against other Hall of Famers, during their first eight seasons.  Let's see how good they were before they hit their stride.    There were 123 players in this sample:
  •          Batting Average - 3rd from last - ahead of Ozzie Smith!
  •          OBP - 10th from last  - ahead of Ozzie Smith and Robin Yount!
  •          OPS+ - Last :(
  •          OPS - 3rd from last - ahead of Ozzie Smith!  Was Ozzie Smith good?
  •          Fewest Strikeouts - 36th! - although in a LOT fewer at bats
  •          Walks - Last, but not that far behind Brooks Robinson and Roberto Clemente!
  •          Hits - Last, but strangely only 65 fewer than Harmon Killebrew
  •          Doubles - 2nd from last, ahead of Killebrew, although Killebrew played like no games in his first five seasons...
  •          Runs - Very last
  •          RBI - Super Last
  •          Home Runs - 4th from last, somehow
  •          Games played - 2nd last, 12 more than Killebrew
  •          WAR - Last, comically so

Ok, so maybe Casilla was comparable to Smith, who still had about a 28 WAR advantage on Lexi.  Killebrew was three years younger when he debuted, so he gets a pass.  Although, I'm not ruling out Casilla hitting over 500 home runs now.

Perhaps jumping to Hall of Famers was a bit premature.  This really means nothing, when you think about it the exact way I am.  Perhaps Casilla is a late bloomer.  I bet lots of guys were.  We need a more apt comparison to his current self, with the understanding that he is going to definitely explode as a player within the next few seasons.

It stands to reason that if Casilla is working on a Hall of Fame career, his first eight seasons will compare favorably to other middle infielders after eight seasons.  Most of the time, Hall of Famers are judged against their positional counterparts.  When Casilla has his mid-career explosion, he will surpass his peers and cement his legacy.  That makes perfect sense.  Lots of prominent players will be low on this list, I bet.  Alexi must be better than some notable players.  So, let's find out!  I am very optimistic. 


Look, I don't see why I need to include these stats at all.  He's pretty much last in every counting stat and nearly last in all the rate stats.  So what?  Stats aren't everything.  There's the eye test too, you know. Plus, I thought RBI didn't matter and batting average was all luck.  What really matters is that Alexi has heart and hustle.  He also has a pretty nice smile and I just don't feel you are respecting that.  Respect his smile!

You know, I'm not sure why I am even bothering with this anymore.  I've clearly failed and will have to wait for another chance to establish myself in the realm of good blog-guys.  Maybe when I write about 1987 Topps baseball cards later this week, no one ever does stuff like that.  However, I do present to you one final stat, and a stat that no one can argue with.  If this doesn't at least get you partially on my side, I'm not sure what will.  In fact, I'll feel sorry for you.  I said it.  I even put it in a chart for the real stat-heads.

Balls Thrown While Horizontal for outs
Alexi Casilla
I think like 2
Everyone Else
Probably zero

Monday, April 22, 2013

Gimmick Post - Winter Weather Blues

It seems that just about every Twins game is snowed or rained or winded out these days.  When is MLB going to wake up and start banning weather from their games?!?  If nothing else, the Twins should have no home games in April, just in case it snows.  Then, they should have no home games in May because of melting.  June would be out due to mosquitoes.  September is probably pushing it when it comes to snow again.  August can be quite sultry.

The obvious solution:  The Twins play all 81 home games in a row, immediately following the All-Star break.  At roughly 3 hours per game, they could fit four games in per day.   This means that in about 20 days, the Twins could get all their home games in, without the threat of snow, melt water, dangerous pests and sultry temperatures.  If MLB ever got their act together and enacted a plan like this, maybe we wouldn't have to sit through these random days without baseball!

Without baseball, I decided that it might be fun to cram as many gimmicky ideas as I can into one post. I love gimmicks.  Slideshows, top ten lists, poems, bullet lists, other lists.  Ok, maybe I just like lists.  I still think I am on to something here.  Just a bunch of gimmicks all put together.  All it needs is a catchy title, and everyone will be hooked. 

I shall call it:  Gimmick Post.  Fasten your safety belts, it is going to be a wild ride. 

Random Top 5 List

Here are the top 5 teams in the AL Central as of 4/22/2013:
  1. Royals
  2. Twins
  3. Tigers
  4. Indians
  5. White Sox
That's right, your Minnesota Twins are in second place.  My Minnesota Twins are also in second place.

Fun Stat

If Aaron Hicks walks another time in April (if the Twins ever play in April again, right?  lol), he will set a Twins' rookie record for most walks in April by a first year player.  He is currently tied with Jim Eisenreich, who added 23 hits that month.  Hicks currently has 3.

KWL Chart

A KWL chart is an organizational tool that many teachers use with students to help them with a new topic.  They can also be helpful with topics we want to explore further. 

K is what you know, W is what you want to know, and L is what you have learned.

Here is a KWL chart that I made, with Brian Dozier as the subject:

I didn't learn much, but I am happy to know that Dozier has a friend in Josh Willingham.

My answer to a hypothetical question posted on the Twins' Facebook page:

Question:  Why don't all you whiners take your precious retactable roof AND STICK IT WHERE THE SUN DON'T SHINE!

Answer:  I feel there should be a question mark after your exclamation mark, but I'm just being a punctuation perfectionist.  I'm not sure what a retactable roof is either.  The irony of this question is that a retractable roof would conceivably be placed in an area where the sun does shine, thus blocking it out.  In a sense, you are answering your own question.  If the roof was where the sun does not shine, then we wouldn't be able to enjoy the sun anyway, thus making the retractable roof quite useful and not inhibiting to a person who wants to enjoy a nice, sunny day of baseball.  That being said, your use of capital letters is very effective.    

Random Photoshop:

Joe Mauer gets a lot of attention for his sideburns.  What if he didn't have them?

Yeah, so maybe the sideburns work.

A Link to something stupid I wrote:

I transcribed my guttural reaction to Ben Revere's catch last week.  You can read it here

Random Paint Image:

Here is a picture I drew of Target Field, from these past few weeks.  I tweeted this out earlier, but no one follows me on Twitter, so here it is again:

A Link to something not stupid I wrote:

I wrote a screenplay a few weeks ago.  It is both not stupid and stupid.  I think it's satire.  I'm not really sure.  However, there are many puns.  I punned Justin Morneau, Vance Worley, Brandon Boggs, Trevor Plouffe and Anthony Slama.  No one is spared!  No one!  Here it is.

Parting Haiku

No Twins game today
The relentless winter weather is bearing down on us like an unstoppable force, berating us with constant barbs of snow and a biting wind that will chew all the way to our very soul
Soon it will be May

Perhaps that wasn't a Haiku.  If you prefer accurate poetry, you can sub this line where you see fit:  Winter weather will not leave.

I like my version better.