Archive for April, 2006

Thursday: 04.27.2006

Rumors, News, & Notes…

  • It looks like Tony Clark has said he'd waive his no-trade clause in a move out of Arizona, with the Chicago Cubs being mentioned as a destination. He isn't complaining or demanding a trade, but rather saying that if moving him out of the Arizona will help the team, then so be it.
  • The Florida Marlins apparently offered Dontrelle Willis to the New York Mets for David Wright. Of course they did, because that would be an excellent deal for them. I like Willis just fine, but he's not worth Wright, not by a long shot.
  • Offseason acquisition Juan Cruz will replace Russ Ortiz in the Arizona Diamondbacks' rotation, a move that is looooong overdue.
  • Though rumors have leaked that the group headed by Ted Lerner has been selected as the next owners of the Washington Nationals, the office of Bob DuPuy has quashed the idea saying a winner will be picked by mid-June.
  • After seeing the video, it is hard to suggest anything but a long suspension for Tampa Bay Devil Rays' prospect Delmon Young. The rest of the season would be sufficient.
  • Akinori Otsuka will take over as the Texas Rangers closer in place of Francisco Cordero starting this weekend. Cordero has blown five straight saves and carries and 11.70 ERA in 10 innings.
  • Richie Sexson cites the bevy of top-flight pitchers the Seattle Mariners have faced that has led to their early season struggles. I especially like when he refer to Justin Verlander as "Detroit's guy that throws 100."
  • After already losing Derrek Lee to a broken wrist, the Chicago Cubs held their collective breath after a finger injury to catcher Michael Barrett. The sigh of relief came at the news that the finger is sprained and not broken.
  • Cincinnati Reds reliever Ryan Wagner was shocked when he didn't make the club coming out of spring, but he feels he is making strides towards coming back whether the numbers show it or not.
  • In the Most Accurate Description category, San Diego Padres manager Bruce Bochy wins for labelling his team as "awful". They didn't look good backing into a NL West title last year and they look even worse occupying the basement thus far in 2006.
Wednesday: 04.26.2006

Lackey Dominant; Road Trip Ended at 6-3

John Lackey allowed five walks against the Tigers on Wednesday afternoon. That was the only significant damage inflicted upon the Angels starter in his eight innings of one-hit work. Scot Shields only allowed one hit in a scoreless as the Tigers were dumped 4-0 in the final game of a nine-game, three city, road trip.

The Tigers went 6-3, but ended on a sour note being shutout twice in three games against Los Angeles. On Monday night, Ervin Santana struck out 10 batters in six innings and his bullpen tallied four more strikeouts in three shutout innings to give the Angels the 3-0 win. After that game, manager Jim Leyland expressed his concern with the team’s two-strike approach:

“The greatest hitter of all-time, Ted Williams, said that when the pitcher gets you 1-2 or 0-2, you’re on the defensive,” Leyland said. “You can’t be as offensive. You have to make an adjustment. And we’re not making adjustments.”

The team followed up with games of six and eight strikeouts.

“I’m not trying to change anybody’s swing,” Leyland said. “But we swing and miss too much. You’ve got to put some balls in play in big situations… Leyland continued, “You don’t want to take away your aggressiveness, but you definitely have to tone it down in certain situations.”

In 64 at-bats with an 0-2 count, the Tigers have registered 27 strikeouts. Down 1-2, 45 of 100 at-bats have resulted in a strikeout. On a 2-2 count, the team is batting an absymal .209 with 43 strikeouts in 110 at-bats, including 13 K’s from Chris Shelton in 24 at-bats. They are dead even at 25 with walks and strikeouts in 67 full counts, but hitting just .179. All told, the team strikes out 41% of the time they are in a two-strike count (140-for-341).

The level of patience displayed against Lackey with the five walks is encouraging, but likely more attributed to Lackey’s wildness than the team’s sharpened eye. Lackey has walked four or more (topping out at eight) in four of his five starts. Without a more patient approach at the plate, the Tigers will be susceptible to big strikeout nights all season.

The team has an off day tomorrow before hosting the struggling Minnesota Twins for three and then two-game stints against Kansas City and Los Angeles to round out a seven game homestand. At 13-9, the team is a game and a half behind the Chicago White Sox. A change fortunes at home might allow the Tigers to leapfrog the White Sox in the coming week. They are 11-4 on the road, but just 2-5 at home.

Dan Johnson Watch
Oakland A’s first baseman Dan Johnson broke out with a big game on Wednesday going 2-for-4 with a game-tying home run in the top of the ninth. The home run was his first of the season and the two hits rocketed his average up to .145. Way to go, Dan!!!

Tuesday: 04.25.2006

Runs Aplenty in April.

One of the biggest stories of the young 2006 season is the explosion of runs we’ve seen in just under a month. Theories of why include a juiced ball, drug policies, and continued watering-down of starting pitching. The juiced ball theory has been the most prolific thus far as many want to believe that the more stringent steroid policies have stifled performance-enhancing drugs’ presence in baseball. I’m not completely averse to the idea of a juiced ball, but I’m reticent to jump on the bandwagon of gumdrops and glitter crediting the tougher policy with the eradication of PEDs just yet. I also don’t necessarily buy into the idea that starting pitching is significantly worse than years past so as to allow such a jump in offense.

Just how high have the numbers jumped as we near the end of the first month of play? Thus far, runs per game are their highest since 2000 at 10.05. League slugging percentage is also at its highest since the same year at .439. Here’s a look at things since 2000:

Year Runs/Gm Lg AVG Lg SLG
2000 10.77 0.270 0.450
2001 9.61 0.260 0.425
2002 9.26 0.258 0.410
2003 9.44 0.261 0.418
2004 9.83 0.268 0.427
2005 9.14 0.262 0.409
2006 10.05 0.267 0.439

We’re seeing almost an entire run more per game so far this season and seemingly two or three double-digit postings per night. In fact, through the first 23 days of the season there have been 58 double-digit run totals put up or about 2.5 per night. Oddly, only 10.33 runs per game have been scored in 12 games at the launching pad known as Coors Field. That total is the third lowest monthly total since 2000 for Coors Field. In 2000, the last time runs per game topped five in April, Coors Field checked in with 16.30 runs per game.

So what do we make of this fast start? For the time being, nothing. Sample size is an issue being that it has only been a month and while runs are up 0.91 from last year’s April output, they are only up 0.22 from 2004’s April output. One thing is for sure, it will be increasingly difficult for pitchers to stifle the run parade if they continue to pitch to Albert Pujols and Jonny Gomes. The two lead their respective leagues with 12 and 10 home runs this season.

Monday: 04.24.2006

Symposium Notes

On Thursday of last week, I attended a special symposium held at the University of Texas focusing on performance enhancing drugs and sports. The panel featured columnists from across the nation including Howard Bryant, Gary Jacobsen, Richard Justice, T.J. Quinn, Mark Fainaru-Wada, and Lance Williams. University of Texas professor John Hoberman, an author on the subject matter, was also in attendance. I got there a bit early just because I didn’t encounter nearly as much traffic as I planned on hitting. I killed some time reading a book before I finally went into the auditorium. I immediately saw Justice, whose attendance prompted me to go in the first place, and decided to introduce myself. We talked for a good 20-30 minutes about a bevy of topics. He’s a real engaging guy and extremely friendly. He mentioned that Red Sox have literally told Roger Clemens that whatever he wants to come play for them, he can have. Nothing is out of bounds. Justice said the biggest roadblock is that Clemens is enjoying retired life too much right now.

Soon the other panelists start filing in and I’m standing in this circle as if I’m just one of them. It’s a pretty cool feeling. They aren’t high-class celebrities or anything, but they also aren’t jerks just because they have achieved some status. Austin-American Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls is in attendance as a spectator, also a good guy.

With the event just about to get started, I grab my seat. Frankly, I was surprised that it wasn’t more crowded, but regardless, I was glad I went. Professor Hoberman moderates the first panel titled “When the big story is steroids. How sports journalists cover rumors and allegations of steroid use — and the stories they miss.” He starts with some introductory talk regarding the doping awareness in United States sports landscape as it tries to catch up to Europe. He also poses the question of whether or not the under 40 years old crowd is more likely to give someone like Barry Bonds a pass. He continues that polls suggest: yes. He cited New York Times and Denver Post polls that showed the age group’s inclination to overlook Bonds’ alleged misdeeds. He posits that the rampant academic doping in the classroom (adderall and Ritalin) might be a substantial cause for the leniency. Hoberman brings up the phenomena of selective coverage and selective indignation. The police enforcement field from city policeman to prison guards is heavy into steroids, yet little has been said of the issue since it was the topic of a story on a 1989 episode of 60 Minutes. Cycling, he says, is arguably the most drug-soaked sport of all and yet the issue is almost censored out of the sport. He then opened up to the panelists with this question: “How do you assess source reliability?” Some key points touched on by the panelists include:

  • Williams points out that for he and Fainaru-Wada, there was a federal investigation that made the situation they were in unique.
  • Fainaru-Wada says that the chasm from jokes and rumors to a published story is huge.
    Documentation vs. anonymity being the key.
  • Jacobsen, invited for his work on investigating steroids on the high school levels, says doping rumoring is absolutely rampant on the high school level. The break that he and his partner, Gregg Jones, got was when a mother found a vile in her son’s closet.

The conversation switches to source relations:

  • Quinn describes the tightrope walked by a beat writer of keeping your access to the teams intact while properly using the information gained by that access. Some beat writers feel that breaking the steroids issue open isn’t their job, to which Quinn contests is a load of crap (my words, not his). The feeling of protecting the game over reporting the facts isn’t journalism and has no place in the field of journalism.
  • Bryant continues to subject on beat writers treading that fine line and goes on to say that you cannot stick a story like this on the beat writer. It compromises the relationship of a beat writer. He says being closer to the steroids issue isn’t an advantage at all because of the high level of risk involved.
  • Williams concurs with Bryant regarding the notion that you can’t stick this kind of story on a beat writer and points how being relative outsiders was influential to he and Fainaru-Wada’s work.
  • Fainaru-Wada notes that the lack of education possessed by the writers about the drugs was a problem, too. This sets off a few comments from Quinn and Bryant with regards to excuse often put forward that “he can’t be using, he’s always in the gym” made by those realizing that being a gymrat in no way absolves someone as a potential user, rather heightens the suspicion.
  • Jacobsen notes that from one season to the next, seeing a player put on 20-25 pounds of muscle should set off red flags, yet many note the growth without following up on it.

The discussion continues centralized on players and the level of entitlement felt by many of them, entitlement on every level including the entitlement to use to drugs. Quinn asked Jacobsen how prevalent the entitlement factor is on the high school landscape. Jacobsen notes that it exists, especially within the superstars, but to a much lesser degree across the board.

Just prior to the Q&A on the first panel, the discussion turns to the backlash felt by investigative reporting in the sports world. Williams recalls the backlash against the AP writer that broke the McGwire-Andro story and Quinn recalls a story of the savagery felt by one of his mentors, Bill Gleason, after
Gleason questioned Michael Jordan about the Nike sweatshops immediately after the fourth championship. These examples highlight the risk that comes with going against the grain as a sports reporter.

I’ll focus on the second panel on Wednesday, which deals with the question of “Can Baseball Be Saved?” Like I said on Friday, I had a fantastic time at the symposium and I’m glad I went. Meeting those journalists was great and they were a joy to talk to during breaks as well as hearing them speak during the panel discussions.

Friday: 04.21.2006

Thrilling Win Takes Series.

On Monday, I’ll report about the Symposium I attended yesterday, which was fantastic. For now, my thoughts on today’s series winner against the A’s.

Despite working with a lead before tossing a single pitch, Jeremy Bonderman promptly put he and the Detroit Tigers up against it. After a Magglio Ordonez RBI-double, Bonderman gave the Oakland A’s three runs of their own on four hits. The game would stay 3-1 for the next seven innings until the A’s were forced to call on star middle reliever Justin Duchscherer due to the unavailability of closer Huston Street. Duchscherer hadn’t allowed a run in his first eight innings of the season; he wouldn’t make it through his ninth. The Tigers got four hits and two walks, including the go-ahead walk by Curtis Granderson with the bases loaded to take, and hold, the lead.

Fernando Rodney, in his second inning of work, held the A’s for the 4-3 victory. Speaking of Rodney, the Tigers activated Todd Jones, an off-season acquisition overpaid to become to the Tigers’ closer. I don’t think there will be a controversy until Jones messes up. So basically until he pitches. Believe me, I want him to succeed after that contract (2 years, $11 mil.), but I don’t feel his excellent 2005 numbers are sustainable, especially at 37 (turns 38 next week).

As I watched the replay of the game, thanks to MLB.tv, I was immediately worried by Bonderman’s weak first inning. All I could think was, here we go again. Bonderman always seems to struggle out of the gate before finding a groove in the middle innings. This could be why he has piled up 47 against 32 losses in his short career. Prior to this season, he simply didn’t have an offense capable of climbing out of the holes he left for them. That said, let’s hope he doesn’t have to rely on the offense to continually bail him out going forward. Teams that don’t get to Bonderman in the first three innings are going to find it increasingly tough to get to him at all:

2003-2005 AB R H 2B HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG
Inning 1-3 1026 167 291 67 38 81 217 0.284 0.340 0.474
Inning 4-6 803 122 200 41 27 86 151 0.249 0.319 0.416
Inning 7-9 209 26 57 12 3 17 43 0.273 0.329 0.402

 

His first three innings are brutal by comparison as he continually sticks himself in a hole. If he alleviates the early inning problems, the middle and later innings should also improve because he won’t be pressing to make up for the early mistakes. Bonderman is still in need of some polish to become a consistent, quality starter.

And he has got to work on his prepartion for the start of games if he ever expects to become the top-flight starter his talent suggests he can become. Thankfully, he was bailed out on Thursday afternoon and the Tigers head up the coast to start a set with Seattle with a series win, 2-1, and a record a game above .500 at 9-7.

About a week and a half ago, I said that Chris Shelton and Dan Johnson would end with similar numbers come October. I will stand by it and take the fire that is sure to beset the inbox, because at this point, Johnson would have to make a helluva comeback from a .029 batting average and .170 OPS to catch up to Shelton. Hell, he needs a comeback of epic proportions to catch Rondell White at this point. In fact, Johnson is likely headed for a demotion as his struggles simply don’t seem to be improving.

Wednesday: 04.19.2006

Taking in a Seminar and a Site Debut.

Tomorrow, I'm attending a day-long conference at the University of Texas, my alma mater, by the McGarr Sports Journalism Symposium on "The Illicit Quest for Excellence: Athletes and Performance Enhancing Drugs." Obviously, it's a subject matter that has been thoroughly covered, but a solid list of panelists include the writers of Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO and the Steroids Scandal, thus my interest is piqued. The full list of panelists is as follows:

I mention my attendance to the event primarily because I'm writing this at 10:00 PM so I can go to bed around midnight for the first time probably two months. I'm something a night owl, so I had to tire myself out so I could sleep on a regular schedule and get up at 6:00 AM to shower, eat, read the paper, and get there early enough to find parking on campus for the day as well as make sure I compensate for traffic. I will report back on the Symposium tomorrow as I eagerly await meeting Justice face-to-face having interviewed on the radio show I used to have when I was in school. In the meantime, I'll engage in a popular blogging practice, known as a link-dump. I've decided to title this semi-regular activity "The Adventure of Linking" as a play on the title of a popular Nintendo game from 1988. Without further ado, the debut of "Linking":

– A great piece by John Walsh of Hardball Times on the dearth of Left-Handed Catchers with some solid explanations as to why it is such a rare phenomenon.

– Given the popularity of a particular ABC Sunday Night soap opera, this guy's name is funny. Maybe if he hits big in the majors, as John Sickels suggests he could, then he might be able to get close she with whom he shares a name.

– It may just be a matter of time before Barry Zito departs Oakland, so how about Seattle?

– Is just me or are these fingers huge? Maybe he bought them so he'd have space for rings, but fortunately, he's been without for some time now.

– I'm neither a Mets nor a Red Sox fan, yet this could be the greatest thing ever made.

– An excellent expose on the tomfoolery being committed by the Detroit government with regards to the future of Tigers Stadium. As a native and a life-long Tigers fan that spent many a summer nights at the Corner, this severely angers me, but I'm glad Brittain brought it to light.

– While funny, this is probably a sad commentary on the times we live in.

– The first ever blogger?

– Some might say that this is gratuitous, but I'd contend it's actually really,really,necessary for the success of this debut.

Wednesday: 04.19.2006

Around the Minors.

On the heels of another loss, I’ll use today to update the early season progress for some of the top prospects both on the Tigers and in all of baseball. I’ll start with the top 10 prospects that Baseball America lists for Detroit that are not in the majors. This excludes Justin Verlander, who pitched well in the loss tonight, Joel Zumaya, and Jordan Tata, ranked 1st, 2nd, and 7th, respectively. That makes third-ranked Cameron Maybin the leadoff player in Around the Minors:

1. Cameron Maybin, OF, 19 years old – West Michigan Whitecaps (A) – ranked 31st on BA.com Top 100
Maybin is quickly putting to rest the idea that because he wasn’t facing elite talent in his North Carolina high school, that he may not be ready for pro ball. In just nine games, Maybin is hitting .316 with a .366 on-base percentage, .579 slugging percentage and nine runs batted in. Half of his 12 hits are for extra bases including a home run. His lone downside so far come from the 10 strikes (against just two walks) in his first 38 professional at-bats. In a totally irrelevant tidbit, NBA player Rashad McCants is his cousin.

2. Brent Clevlen, OF, 22 years old – Erie SeaWolves (AA) – ranked 4th in Tigers system
Clevlen is in his fifth minor-league season after impressive bounce-back season in 2005. Since he began his career in 2002, Clevlen had showed tremendous plate discipline, especially for an 18-year old, and was rewarded with back-to-back promotions finally landing in Lakeland High-A at age 20. There, he was clearly in a funk and never hit his stride. The Tigers left him in Lakeland for 2005 and all he did was come back and post a .302/.387/.484 season en route to a Florida State League MVP for the team with the best record in the minors. Through 13 games this season, Clevlen isn’t where he wants to be hitting just .255, but unlike his disastrous 2004 when everything went wrong, his eye has remained sharp with a .364 on-base powered by a 1.1 K:BB ratio in 47 at-bats.

3. Wilkin Ramirez, 3B, 20 years old – Lakeland Tigers (High-A) – ranked 5th in Tigers system
Ramirez is a young free-swinger who is pretty rough around the edges. He lost all of 2004 to a torn-labrum, but is young enough to where the injury wasn’t a major setback. As primarily a designated hitter in 2005, he had 39 extra-base hits including 16 home runs and mixed in some decent speed with 21 steals in 29 attempts. To put he kindly, he doesn’t find himself in the same class as Clevlen in terms of plate discipline. In two seasons, he has posted OBPs of .321 and .317 and he has just 48 walks in his 185 games. He earned his free-swinger merit badge with 143 strikeouts in 131 games last season. More of the same in early 2006 with 16 strikeouts and one walk as Ramirez has posted a .234/.245/.340 line in 11 games with Lakeland.

4. Humberto Sanchez, SP, 22 years old – Erie SeaWolves (AA) – ranked 6th in Tigers system
Sanchez is the third of the fireball arms in the minors for Detroit. He enters his third season with Erie after missing significant time in 2005 with groin and oblique injuries. He has amassed 317 strikeouts in 331 minor league innings (8.62/9), but a less-than-impressive 1.52 WHIP during the same time. With three starts already this season, he has struck out 20 while walking just five with a 1.69 earned run average in 16 innings.

5. Tony Giarratano, SS, 23 years old – Erie SeaWolves (AA) – ranked 8th in Tigers system
Known much more for his glove than bat, Giarratano earned a promotion to the show last year filling in for the injured Carlos Guillen. He labored through 42 at-bats with just a .143 batting average. He had a chance to break spring with AAA Toldeo, but management instead thought he’d be better served with another season in Erie. With just a .218/.232/.327 line, it appears as though they were right.

6. Jeff Larish, 1B, 23 years old – Lakeland Tigers (High-A) – ranked 9th in Tigers system
Larish is a masher from Arizona State, where he put up huge numbers in big sophomore and senior seasons. His junior was plagued by a wrist injury, but he still managed a .308/.396/.468 line, decent for college. In 24 games last year, Larish impressed with six home runs and a .280/.417/.549 line. He has picked up right where he left off this season with a .308/.451/.538 line including two home runs and nine walks to just six strikeouts in 39 at-bats.

7. Kevin Whelan, SP, 22 years old – Lakeland Tigers (High-A) – ranked 10th in Tigers system
Another college product, Whelan, from Texas A&M moved from catcher to pitcher to become a highly-touted prospect. He was taken in the 4th round last year and quickly blazed through two levels to wind up at Lakeland this season. In 25 appearances, Whelan posted a 1.48 earned run average with a 5.1 K:BB ratio (41:8) and miniscule 0.58 WHIP. As the closer for Lakeland this season, he has glided brilliantly through four appearances, all saves, with three and two-thirds perfect innings that have included eight strikeouts.

Throughout the season, I’ll update the progress of these seven as well as others that climb the prospect charts of the Detroit Tigers. Now, a quick look at how some of the top prospects in all of baseball are faring in this young season:

Delmon Young, OF – AAA (Tampa Bay Devil Rays)
Eating AAA alive with a .420/.455/.480 line, but curiously without a home run.

Andy Marte, 3B – AAA (Cleveland Indians)
Also homerless, Marte is hitting .250/.357/.333 and keeping Aaron Boone looking over his shoulder.

Brandon Wood, 3B – AA (Los Angeles Angels)
Wood has rapped eight extra-base hits including two home runs collecting a .292/.364/.542 line in 12 games.

Alex Gordon, 3B – AA (Kansas City Royals)
At least the Royals have something to look forward to with Gordon mashing to the tune of .353/.393/.588.

Stephen Drew, SS – AAA (Arizona Diamondbacks)
One of several gold-level prospects for the D’Backs, his presence prompted a move to centerfield for Justin Upton. Has four home runs so far, but just a .235/.286/.471 line.

Ian Stewart, 3B – AA (Colorado Rockies)
Destroying pitchers early with 11 of 16 going for extra-bases including eight doubles, he also has seven walks against just eight strikeouts for a .320/.417/.620 line.

Troy Tulowitzki, SS – AA (Colorado Rockies)
Poised to form a power left side of the infield in Colorado with Stewart, Tulowitzki is hitting .311/.373/.489 despite 12 Ks in 45 at-bats.

Chad Billingsley, P – AAA (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Daring someone with the big club to falter, Billingsley is 2-0 in three starts with a 2.93 ERA and 19 Ks in 15.33 innings.

Homer Bailey, P – A+ (Cincinnati Reds)
Though 1-2, Bailey has been stunning in three starts with a 2.93 ERA and a 7.5 K:BB ratio in 15.33 innings.

Philip Hughes, P – A+ (New York Yankees)
Also 1-2, Hughes has been even more impressive with a sparkling 0.56 ERA and 18:1 K:BB ratio in 16 innings of work.

Jeremy Sowers, P – AAA (Cleveland Indians)
At 2-0, Sowers has been brilliant in 19.33 innings with a 0.47 ERA and 11 strikeouts against five walks.

Jered Weaver, P – AAA (Los Angeles Angels)
Despite a 3.75 ERA, which looks huge compared the others listed, Weaver has been dominant in two starts with 14 strikeouts and 0 walks in 12 innings of work. If his brother isn’t careful, Jered just might take his job!

Tuesday: 04.18.2006

Tap the Rockies.

It all started with a hypothesis from a friend

It all started with a hypothesis from a friend, Brian Fleischer, on a website I frequent:

“For the last few years at least, Coors has not become a launching pad until late April or May. Presumably because of the residual cold weather, it’s not such a bad idea to start Rockies pitchers or opposing pitchers at Coors for the first two or three weeks of the season.”

It sounded reasonable enough to me. First off, Fleischer is no idiot and he generally puts forth well-founded ideas. I found this one no different and decided that I would check the numbers and prove that it was right. What I found in the 2000-2004 data shocked me, to say the least. It turns out that the idea of residual cold weather in the early spring benefiting the pitchers in Coors Field was false:

2000-
2004
TGP TRS R/G
APR 65 886 13.63
MAY 68 881 12.96
JUN 69 937 13.58
JUL 61 815 13.36
AUG 67 766 11.43
SEP 75 948 12.64

In fact, April has the highest runs per game total at 13.63. From there, one of the participants in the discussion asked about just Colorado Rockies’ starters and their ability to keep runs down in the early months.

2000-
2004
TGP TRS R/G OppRS OppRS/G AVG TEMP
APR 65 886 13.63 414 6.37 50
MAY 68 881 12.96 373 5.49 58
JUN 69 937 13.58 461 6.68 67
JUL 61 815 13.36 408 6.69 76
AUG 67 766 11.43 386 5.76 72
SEP 75 948 12.64 493 6.57 63

Now we see that the Rockies’ pitchers are better in April and May than all other months except August, but given that August is the second warmest month, it is difficult to equate their success (relatively speaking) to the cooler temperatures. Next, there was a question as to what effect the humidor in Colorado had on the findings. The ball humidor was used in Colorado to deaden the ball and thus tame the outrageous figures put up in Denver’s Coors Field. At this point, I was no longer expecting anything from the April-May vs. rest of the season analysis, rather I was just interested to see the patterns, if any, that runs were scored in Coors Field. Here’s a look at the pre and post-humidor breakdowns:

2000-2002 TGP TRS R/G ORS ORS/G AVG TEMP
APR 39 531 13.62 258 6.62 50
MAY 40 533 13.33 201 5.03 58
JUN 43 618 14.37 296 6.88 69
JUL 34 476 14.00 256 7.53 77
AUG 39 464 11.90 230 5.90 73
SEP 48 616 12.83 312 6.50 65

2003&2004 TGP TRS R/G ORS ORS/G AVG TEMP HUMDiff
APR 26 355 13.65 156 6.00 50 -0.62
MAY 28 348 12.43 172 6.14 59 1.12
JUN 26 319 12.27 165 6.35 63 -0.54
JUL 27 339 12.56 152 5.63 74 -1.90
AUG 28 302 10.79 156 5.57 71 -0.33
SEP 27 332 12.30 181 6.70 61 0.20

Four months showed a drop in the humidor era, but two others showed spikes, one large and the other insignificant in the grand scheme. Overall, the humidor’s effect from 2000 to 2004 dropped the runs per game by about one. The precise total going from 13.33 runs per game to 12.31 runs per game.

So that was it, as far as I was concerned. Any idea of a specific time period being a good time to pitch in Coors Field appears to be non-existent. Fast forward to today when both the "Coors Field Mystic" and "Coors Field Cold Weather Theory" were challenged in the same forum by two new members. One suggested that the idea of opting not to pitch your pitchers in Coors for your fantasy baseball team may be over hyped, while the other once again surmised that Coors Field produces less runs in the early season due to the cooler weather. I don’t mention both to deride, rather to point out that these misconceptions are still being bandied about.

The latter member stated that a simple month-by-month breakdown of the four years cobbled together wasn’t enough to convince him that there is no basis for starting pitchers in Coors in April or May due to cooler. To him, as well as all of you, I present a yearly month-by-month breakdown with average temperatures for each year. As with the other data, 2005 is not yet fully available for analysis, so I’ll continue with 2000-2004:

2000 G RS RA TRS R/G ORS/G COLR/G AVG TEMP
APR 10 81 82 163 16.30 8.20 8.10 50
MAY 15 148 91 239 15.93 6.07 9.87 60
JUN 12 119 76 195 16.25 6.33 9.92 67
JUL 13 91 99 190 14.62 7.62 7.00 77
AUG 12 85 63 148 12.33 5.25 7.08 75
SEP 19 109 120 229 12.05 6.32 5.74 64
2001 G RS RA TRS R/G ORS/G COLR/G AVG TEMP
APR 15 122 109 231 15.40 7.27 8.13 50
MAY 10 83 59 142 14.20 5.90 8.30 57
JUN 19 123 121 244 12.84 6.37 6.47 70
JUL 10 61 82 143 14.30 8.20 6.10 77
AUG 11 56 58 114 10.36 5.27 5.09 73
SEP 16 109 102 211 13.19 6.38 6.81 67
2002 G RS RA TRS R/G ORS/G COLR/G AVG TEMP
APR 14 70 67 137 9.79 4.79 5.00 50
MAY 15 101 51 152 10.13 3.40 6.73 57
JUN 12 80 99 179 14.92 8.25 6.67 71
JUL 11 68 75 143 13.00 6.82 6.18 77
AUG 16 93 109 202 12.63 6.81 5.81 72
SEP 13 86 90 176 13.54 6.92 6.62 64
2003 G RS RA TRS R/G ORS/G COLR/G AVG TEMP
APR 14 114 79 193 13.79 5.64 8.14 51
MAY 15 89 69 158 10.53 4.60 5.93 58
JUN 14 89 80 169 12.07 5.71 6.36 62
JUL 11 80 54 134 12.18 4.91 7.27 77
AUG 15 79 77 156 10.40 5.13 5.27 74
SEP 12 66 91 157 13.08 7.58 5.50 59
2004 G RS RA TRS R/G ORS/G COLR/G AVG TEMP
APR 12 85 77 162 13.50 6.42 7.08 48
MAY 13 87 103 190 14.62 7.92 6.69 60
JUN 12 65 85 150 12.50 7.08 5.42 64
JUL 16 107 98 205 12.81 6.13 6.69 71
AUG 13 67 79 146 11.23 6.08 5.15 68
SEP 15 85 90 175 11.67 6.00 5.67 63

Year-to-year monthly temperatures remain consistent and still I see nothing that suggests there is ever a time when success can be expected in Coors Field. The outliers are the opponents’ runs per game of 2002. I feel they may’ve been tweaking with the humidor usage and overdid it in April and May before spiking back the wrong way in June and evening it out the rest of the year. It also could have been something as simple as scheduling, a point brought up by the member with whom I was discussing the issue. In fact, he mentioned that scheduling and lineup factors would be present throughout the data and while I understand that the teams change, oftentimes significantly, from year-to-year, I don’t believe that it is enough to skew the data over the course of the five year sampling. It was mentioned that the lineup in 2005-06 wasn’t up to par from the previous years, but I would posit that it is as good as, if not better, than the 2003 and 2004 lineups. For the record, only the 2000 Rockies team of all analyzed were over .500 (82-80).

After looking at the five years worth of data with regards to runs being score in Coors Field, I conclude that:

  • April’s cooler weather has no lowering effect on runs scored in Coors Field.
  • There is no specific month in which starting pitchers at Coors Field are more successful in comparison to the others.
  • At no time should you use starting pitchers at Coors Field in your fantasy league if you can avoid it.

Monday: 04.17.2006

Number 8!

After an Easter hiccup with the WordPress servers, we're back in business. Thankfully, Chris Shelton didn't experience a similar hiccup as his league-best eighth home run was the difference in a 1-0 pitcher's duel between Cliff Lee and Mike Maroth. Some notes from the Game 12 win that puts Detroit into a three-way tie with Cleveland and Chicago:

  • Maroth pitched one of the finest games of his career, as evidenced by the three hits allowed in seven innings of work. His pitch placement was the key to five strikeouts as well as two huge double-play balls and he knew better than to let Travis Hafner, who has been uncharacteristically torching lefties of late, beat him.
  • Ivan Rodriguez is back. He very likely won't contend for his third MVP award, but his eye is exponentially sharper and his bat is noticeably quicker through the zone than a year ago. He already has three walks this season in 10 games played after 11 in 129 games a season ago.
  • Joel Zumaya is something else. He was in a sticky situation from the outset of the eighth inning after giving up a single to Aaron Boone, who was then placed in scoring position by a Casey Blake sac bunt. From there he walked pinch-hitter Victor Martinez, tightening the clamps on himself, before striking out Grady Sizemore and Jason Michaels with a killer mix of 95+ MPH heat and a knee-buckling hook.
  • Fernando Rodney should not lose the closer's job when Todd Jones comes back just out of principle. I understand they paid Jones (way too much) to come back to Detroit, but Rodney and Zumaya are becoming an electric combination that could shorten games to seven innings for the Tigers.

The Tigers finish off the four-game set with the Tribe on Monday afternoon as the struggling Paul Byrd (1-1, 10.24 ERA) faces Nate Robertson (1-1, 4.38 ERA). Byrd has fared well against the Tigers for his career (2.91 ERA in 52.67 innings of work), but has just one start against the team since 2003 that came last year with the Los Angeles Angels.

Saturday: 04.15.2006

Go Away, Hollandsworth.

And take your two doubles and your home-run stealing catch. You're bothering me.