Posts tagged ‘Buster Olney’

Tuesday: 02.8.2011

Daily Dose – February 8th

I can’t believe how close pitchers and catchers are to reporting.  Baseball season is right around the corner, I can feel it!!  It’s the only thing getting me through this awful cold weather.  Let’s hit the dose for Tuesday:

I’ve been a fan of Daniel Tosh (@danieltosh) since he was an unknown comic doing Taco Bell commercials years ago.  I saw him at the local comedy club around that time and the next time he was in Austin, I was one of the three comics who got to open for him.  Once I heard he was going to have a show, Tosh.0, I didn’t really care what it was going to be about, I knew I’d watch it.  I have not been disappointed as it’s easily one of, if the funniest show on TV.  As much as it makes me laugh on a week to week basis, this clip might be my favorite of all-time:

A while back, Unreality Magazine did a piece covering the 10 Hottest Girls in TV Comedies.  I figured it was a pretty good idea for a column.  While I disagree with some inclusions and the order, it is hard to argue with the content otherwise.  Alison Brie and Katrina Bowden were far too low given that they actually excel in both the hotness and the comedy whereas some were included merely because they are very pretty and part of comedy shows even if they aren’t particularly funny themselves.

No arguments for the picture of Kaley Cuoco they used as she looks great there, but anyone who watches Big Bang Theory knows that that particular picture is definitely Ms. Cuoco at her peak.  I’d have had a bit further down the list despite the fact that she’s pretty funny on BBT.  By the way, I’m sure I’m one of many, but I was saying that the eldest daughter on Modern Family looked like a younger Mila Kunis from the very first moment I watched the show.  It’s a pretty easy link so I’m not trying to suggest I started it or anything.  Any time you are getting compared to Mila Kunis, you know you’re awesome.

A pair of tweets about two of the best Cleveland Indians players had to give fans some hope for the upcoming season.  Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) tweeted that Grady Sizemore is running and taking swings with April 1st, Opening Day for the Tribe, not out of the question.  Meanwhile the Cleveland Indians Twitter feed (@tribeinsider) tweeted that Carlos Santana has been cleared for batting practice and catching activities.  Olney mentioned that Santana is a bit ahead of Sizemore in the rehab process.

Over at Beyond the Boxscore, Justin Bopp (@justinbopp) created a sweet picture of Albert Pujols’ spray chart from last year.  Click on the picture itself and it enlarges to about 3x the size.  He also did one for Carlos Gonzalez last month.  I’m a sucker for infographics like this which is why I can’t get enough of Craig Robinson’s work over at Flip, Flop, Flyball.  If you’re familiar with Robinson’s work, you might want to pre-order the FFFb book due out in July.  Hell, even if you’re not familiar with it, you’ll love it once you click the link and you’ll still want to pre-order the book.

ESPN is running a series of columns grading each team on their offseason grouped by division.  Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) and Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) have done the first four (East & Central) and I’d assume they’re going to do the whole series.  Crasnick covered the American League East and Central while Stark had the National League East and Central.

Sticking with the Worldwide Leader, they have been posting videos from their Fantasy Baseball Summit a few weeks back and it could be (read: most definitely is) because I’m kind of a dork, but I’m loving them.  They started with a Mark Teixeira v. Kevin Youkilis debate and have since released clips on Jayson Werth, Joe Nathan and Adam Wainwright.  The Wainwright clip is especially interesting and I suggest everyone in mixed or NL-Only leagues take a look.

One thing I really enjoy about John Sickels’ Minor League Ball site are his series articles.  The ones I can think of off the top of my head that he does are Crystal Ball, Prospect Retro and Career Profiles.  He’s been doing a lot of reader request Career Profiles of late and I recommend you check them out: Eric Chavez, Francisco Liriano, James Loney, Rickie Weeks and Jayson Werth are just a few that I really enjoyed.  You can look through the rest here and find players that interest you most.  In addition to Project Prospect, who I mentioned yesterday, Sickels’ site is another must-read for anyone interested in the minor leagues.  Whether you already consider yourself a prospect maven or you’re interested in becoming one, his stuff is great.

Twitter Recommendation: CNBC sports business report, Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell), is an absolute must-follow on Twitter.  Don’t let the sports biz moniker deter you either, he covers more than just sports and posts tons of interesting facts and great links about a wide variety of topics.  If I could only pick five people to follow on Twitter, Rovell would easily earn a spot.

Knowledge Bomb: Be careful with stats, they can be dangerous.  Houston Astros third baseman Chris Johnson came out of nowhere last season to put up 94 games of fantasy goodness including 11 HR, 52 RBIs and .308 AVG.  Some will look at his line and think that a full season will bring about even better numbers for the 26 year old in 2011.  In fact, I’ve seen him being trumpeted over Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez based on one stat: OPS.

In his 362 plate appearances, Johnson posted an .818 OPS.  Make no mistake, that’s a pretty solid figure especially for an unknown like Johnson.  Not many think he can repeat next year (including me), but those that do have dangerously wielded that .818 OPS around like a sword.  In his 386 plate appearances, Alvarez “only” had a .788 OPS, 30 points away from Johnson.

While OPS is a useful stat for quick and dirty catch-all production estimations, not all OPS marks are created equally.  The problem here is that OPS brings batting average into the equation so a fluky batting average, like Johnson’s which was powered by a .387 BABIP, can artificially boost one’s OPS.   Alvarez had just a .256 average which cut deep into the OBP end of OPS.  But when you go second level and look at the Isolated Power of each, Alvarez clearly has the brighter future based on their first 90+ games.

Isolated Power is Slugging Percentage minus Batting Average.  Alvarez popped a .205 IsoP, 5th among National League third basemen.  Johnson had a .175 mark, good for 9th.  Alvarez probably won’t hit .300 in 2011, he may not even top .270, but as Johnson’s luck regresses his average will sink and he may end up struggling to stay above .270 himself.  Without the batting average advantage, you start comparing the two in runs scored, driven in and home runs and Alvarez wins a walk.

Alvarez has legitimate 25 home run power already with the potential for more while Johnson is a middling power contributor who will likely top out in the mid-teens.  He’s one to avoid for 2011 as his 2010 numbers, including his OPS, will undoubtedly inflate his value to a level that won’t be commensurate with his performance this year.  If you want a bargain at the thin hot corner, talk up Alvarez’s down average and strikeout tendencies and then swoop in and take him and reap the hefty rewards.

Pitchers and Catchers report in five days…

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Friday: 02.4.2011

Daily Dose – February 4th

A quick dose today as we prepare for snow here in Austin.  Yes, snow.  It’s still something of a novelty here, but it’s not all that rare as we’ve had snow a couple of times in the last few years.  Of course it will still paralyze the city and no one will have any clue how to drive in it.  By the way, we are looking at 1-2 inches… yep, that’s enough to paralyze the city.  OK summer, you can come back anytime now.  HURRY!!!

Beyond the Boxscore’s Daniel Moroz (@CamdenCrazies) put together a great piece on the worst 30 home run seasons in baseball.  I was sad to see that Curtis Granderson made the list for his 2009 season, but at least he was one of the “best”.  It is pretty stunning how awful the worst of the bunch was in overall value (or severe & utter lack thereof).

One of the biggest questions in fantasy baseball circles this offseason is around the projections of Jose Bautista for 2011.  After his insane breakout 54 home run season, everyone is interested to see if it was a total flop or if he is a legitimate top power hitter in the league now.  Jon Paul Morosi (@jonpaul) has piece out explains why he thinks Bautista shouldn’t be ignored.  As for his fantasy value, expectations are the key.  If you are looking for another 54 home runs, you’re almost certainly going to be disappointed, but if you want 32-36 with 105-115 RBIs, a decent batting average and a great on-base percentage (some leagues use OBP), then Bautista is your guy.  He’s not Brady Anderson 2.0, folks.

Royals Authority writer Nick Scott (@brokenbatsingle) asks whether it was the year of the pitcher or the year of the smaller bat?  An interesting query that takes an in depth look at how a small change could’ve had a significant impact.  Scott makes clear that the bat change was likely a contributing factor to the decreased offense we saw in addition to other theories floated as opposed to a singular reason.

Oh no!!  One of my favorite players went to one of my least favorite teams.  Lastings Milledge has joined the Chicago White Sox, hated rival of my beloved Detroit Tigers.  I can’t believe Milledge is already in “minor league contract” territory.  I love that guy and I really thought he was going to be awesome.  I guess at 26 he can still have a career resurgence (or I guess it would be a career surgence in his case).  As author Satchel Price points out in a Milledge comparison, this proves that while their farm system may be baseball’s best, the Royals front office remains horribly inept when it comes to free agent signings.  I’m pulling for Lastings as long as he doesn’t rip my Tigers.

I’m not sure when this became available, but I wouldn’t be surprised if NBC saw Ron Swanson’s Pyramid of Greatness go viral and then decided to make it into a poster they could sell for $19.95.  Parks & Recreation just might be the best show on TV right now and it’s due in large part to Ron Swanson.

Not only is Parks & Rec hilariously awesome, but it also features the lovely Rashida Jones who I have been a huge fan of since Boston Public back in 2000.  She was in some things after BP, but I don’t recall seeing her again until 2008 when she was on a pile of crap show called Unhitched which was also on FOX.  I watched it strictly because of her.  Since then she had a recurring role on The Office and I’d say that really set her career in motion with movies roles (I Love You, Man, The Social Network) and P&R all coming shortly after her Office arc.  She’s awesome:

The new book Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won has drawn mixed reviews from what I have read on Twitter.  I’ve seen some say it’s fantastic and a must read while others question the methodology behind some of the studies.  It’s on my list to read, but I’m waiting for it to come out in iBooks so I can use my iTunes giftcard to get it.  That’s more information than you need, but I can’t recommend it one way or another right now, but I can recommend this New York Times article on the Freakonomics blog where the authors answer questions about the book.

With Spring Training (thankfully) drawing nearer, Alex Remington of FanGraphs wonders if the Grapefruit League may soon become a relic thanks in large part to the sprawling stadium locations in Florida that pale in comparison to cluster, convenient facilities in Arizona.  Having been to both sites (Arizona for the Fall League only), it’s hard not to see Alex’s point.  When I went to see my Tigers in Lakeland, it wasn’t easy to plan on hitting other games.  The only other venue I made it out to was Tampa to see the Yankees and that was 45 minutes away.  It’s just a much better set up in Arizona.

Even though I’m more of an SVU fan myself, this statistical breakdown of the first 10 seasons of Law & Order is fantastic.  I always enjoy stuff like this if for no other reason than to respect the effort put into such a creation.  The author ends with his rendition of the famous L&O sound which he put down as “Ka-CHUNG”.  I’ve never heard that way, for me it’s always been “Dun-Dun!”

It was a sad day for Amanda Rykoff (@amandarykoff) as Andy Pettitte announced his retirement.  Though she took the news pretty hard, she mustered enough energy to put together a Farewell for the Yankee legend.  I’m about as far from a Yankees fan as you can get, but Pettitte was always one of the Yankees I liked as he helped me in multiple fantasy seasons.  I don’t think he’s Hall of Fame despite a great career.  It has nothing to do with the HGH issue, I just don’t think his body of work merits a Hall plaque.

And those who quote his or any other Yankees’ accumulated postseason numbers (most innings, most wins, whatever…), just stop.  That has more to do with circumstance than it does any significant skill.  Pettitte was strong in the playoffs, I’m not denying that don’t quote me accumulation stats as reasons why he should be in the Hall.  There just isn’t a HOF case for him.  Not now.  Not ever.  He will get more consideration than he deserves both because he is a Yankee and because of the postseason success, but in the end I think the writers will do the right thing and leave him out.

It’s hard not to laugh when Justin Bieber booed essentially just for being Justin Bieber as he is here:

And spare me with this idiot crying.  Shut the hell up, clown.  (Hat tip to Sharapova’s Thigh [@sharapovasthigh] for the video.)

Blog recommendation: If you’re a baseball fan and you’re not reading Buster Olney’s (@Buster_ESPN) blog daily then you’re missing out.  It is behind the Insider pay wall, but ESPN has made that well worth it in the past few years.  Olney, Keith Law (@keithlaw) and Chad Millman (@chadmillman) alone make it worth the money, but that’s far from all of the valuable material you get with it.  You can get Insider for $26 and it comes with a subscription to ESPN Magazine.  That’s a pretty great deal.  No, ESPN did not pay me for this plug.  I just think it’s a great product.  And if you’ve followed me on Twitter for any amount of time, you know I’m not afraid to tear into the Worldwide Leader when they deserve it (which is often).

Programming Note: I doubt anyone really cares, but since I write this at night I’m going to start dating it for the following day.  A lot of times I’m not finished until after midnight anyway and it just feels kinda weird promoting a piece dated as yesterday even though it’s only a few hours old when I post the link on Twitter in the morning.  So basically there will be no Daily Dose for February 3rd as this one will be the for Friday February 4th.