Archive for August, 2012

A People’s History of Pinch-Running Specialists

Late in the evening sometimes, when the moon is high and the echoes of my wife’s indie music have been soaked into the drywall, I will make an effort to Better myself as a Person and open, with no small hesitation, Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States. For those readers who are unaware or are not masochistic, People’s History is America as seen by the working class, the men and women who worked eighteen hours a day while dying of cancer and mercury poisoning simultaneously, who were thrown in jail for whispering and were regularly beaten for wearing denim.

In other words, People’s History is not what people in the marketing business call a “light read”. It almost explains why, after eighteen months, I have finished 54.7% of the book. I am not good with the concept of sadness.

But I wouldn’t have made it even that far without Matt Alexander:

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Understanding Nick Punto

“You can’t reason with grit,” Nick Punto told NotGraphs’ Investigative Reporting Investigation Team. And who are we to argue with Nick Punto?

Nickname Seeks Former Player: Vote on “Actual, Literal Brick Sh*thouse”

The nomination process, which involved sturdy building materials, sinew and poo, is complete. Now you may select from the 10 names that follow. The desperate question before us: Who, because he he could punch out a Sequoia, should be nicknamed “Actual, Literal Brick Shithouse”?

Thank you for exercising the franchise.

What Would You Say … I Do Here?

It takes a big man – and I’m speaking in terms of metaphors, not junk size – to admit when he needs help. You see, I’ll be taking a trip tomorrow to the very small town of Suring, WI for a family reunion. How small of a town is Suring, WI? Well, the image below is a recent one of the downtown area of Suring, WI.

I see they’ve installed a street light since my last visit.

I’m not worried about the town in and of itself, however. I’m worried more about the fact that a large portion of my family (father’s side) will be occupying this town at one time. Moreover, I’m worried about conversing with this group of people. Not to go all Doc Hollywood on you, but I live a different life than most of my kin. My day consists of things like public transit, sidewalks, smartphones, and black people. These are things to which my brethren are not very accustomed.

Though it may sound as if I’m making value judgments, I am not. I am merely trying to set the scene for what I will be dealing with tomorrow. I haven’t seen many of these people since my wedding and some even prior to that. As with any meeting of long lost family, there will be the normal barrage of questions pertaining to my life, of what it consists, and what I’m doing with it. My wife will not be joining me, though my parents should be able to vouch for her existence. I can talk about my home and my dogs, which will be just fine, but the conversation will eventually turn to my occupation. My day job, as it were, is fairly easy to explain. I fix computer systems for an insurance company. Boom. However, my parents will undoubtedly bring up my other venture, baseball writing, much of which appears on this very site. This is where the wicket gets sticky.

To most of my relatives, saying I write about baseball on the Internet sounds completely made up. I may as well say I am an underground astronaut or a unicorn rancher. Despite my numerous requests, I have still not received my NotGraphs business cards, so providing proof will be difficult. Assuming we can get past that, another set of questions will arise:

“Do you get to travel with a team?”
“What’s a clubhouse like?”
“Have you met Ted Williams?”

This is where I need help. I need to try and explain my position here at NotGraphs to a group of people unfamiliar with things like GIFs, Twitter, advanced statistics, blogs, irony, and the Internet in general. Since I am in a bit of a drought right now in the way of friends and positive influences, I turn to you, fair NotGraphs reader.

You’d be doing me a huge solid if you could provide a succinct, one-sentence answer explaining NotGraphs that can be understood by a more, let’s say rural, audience. Some of you will attempt to be clever (and will most certainly fail), but I know there are some out there who can assist me in my conundrum.

Help me, baseball nerds. You’re my only hope.

BREAKING: Life Isn’t All Rainbows

Reports out of Los Angeles suggest that life, in fact, isn’t all rainbows. Rather, it appears to be — tonight, at least — both rainbows and human legend Vin Scully.

To wit:

Image purloined surreptitiously from Whitney Holtzman.

Introducing Handsome-Independent Pitching

Barry Zito underperforms his handsome.

Highly Important Note: This post was composed prior to the author’s reading of Mr. Baumann’s quite similarly motivated post of earlier today We coordinated this completely on purpose.

Those of you who, for whatever reason — novelty, I suppose — read our “stepchild” site Fangraphs, in addition to Notgraphs proper, will have noted the dramatic rollout this week of the new metric “Fielding Dependent Pitching.” I applaud the Fangraphs team for their effort and encourage them to keep at it, but here at Notgraphs we remain, to put it politely, a step ahead. Here I would like to announce our newest product, an advanced metric that brings us a massive step closer to the holy grail of fully understanding and predicting pitcher performance.

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Phillies Press Release Calls to Mind Imaginary 1970s Buddy-Cop TV Pilot

Something rolled, not unlike waves of grain, into my inbox:

First of all, congratulations to Messrs. Cloyd and Ruf for what’s a genuine honor. Second of all, thank you to Messrs. Cloyd and Ruf for giving one the occasion to imagine new dimensions of the hard-nosed procedural …

New NotGraphs Stats, Investigative Teams

In a series of posts yesterday, some longer than others, Davids Appleman and Cameron introduced new stats, exclusive to FanGraphs, that help us to evaluate pitcher success. The discerning baseball fan will find these indispensable going forward — or at least they will find them to be an excuse to sit at a computer, staring at custom leaderboards for dozens of additional hours while their social lives and muscles atrophy.

Indeed, FanGraphs has become known for its insightful analysis and groundbreaking statistical endeavors. NotGraphs, on the other hand, if it has become known, has become known for…not those things.

Keeping up with the Davids.

But that is not to say that we NotGraphers are oblivious to the standards of excellence established by our parent site. That is why, in hasty, scrambling reaction to these exciting developments at FanGraphs, we at NotGraphs are announcing several new “stats” of our own, and even several new Investigative Reporting Investigation Teams. What follows are names and brief descriptions of said, on which we have no intention of following up.

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Texts From My Cousin

* Oakland scoreboard gives the strangest info. Currently showing: Seth smith July (career totals) 6hr/26rbi. that’s it.

* Derek Norris is batting .364 in the 7th inning in 2012. more highly predictive info from the oak scoreboard.

* Remember how 1Bs used to be plated on first when receiving a throw? Now it almost seems theyre stepping towards the throw.

* Looks like 1bs are gettin away with pulling their plant foot off the bag before the catch is made.

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Readers With Blogs (#3)

Here’s the latest in a series that takes a look at some NotGraphs reader blogs and points you toward some interesting things I find. Read about how this series started in this post.

1. Clean and simple, and a very nice scroll-through, Dante Bichette’s Inferno features pictures of baseball cards and quick factoids. As the Red Sox trade their entire team away… a reminder that hitting coach Dave Magadan’s lifetime .390 OBP ranks #100 all-time.

2. A celebration of the long-term relationship between the Braves and Peter Moylan. Can you name the seven relievers since 2006 who have made more appearances with one team than Moylan? Two are named in the post.

3. An interesting comparison of player height at different positions. Did you know that right fielders are the tallest outfielders?

4. Great headline: Red Sox Decide To Quit Playing Baseball, Might Open a “Laundromat or Something” Say Team Owners. And the post ain’t bad either. “If anyone turns on NESN in the next few days after having avoided the Internet, it will be like watching Scrubs after the show went to ABC, with Turk and JD nowhere to be found.”

5. Also from the blog listed at #4, a link to this interesting Paris Review piece about Rays AAA manager Charlie Montoyo.

6. A post about baseball jargon from 1943. Seriously:

Because the Texas-Leaguer caused such exasperation for fielders, in 1943 if one occurred during a game, sports writers around the nation could describe it as a “Sheeny Mike, banjo, humpback liner, plunker, Japanese liner, drooper, looper, special, leaping Lena or a percentage hit.” Leaving aside the somewhat racist connotations of the “Japanese liner,” and the fact that I have absolutely no idea what half of these phrases mean, they are still undeniably entertaining.

7. Finally, highlights from a radio interview with Lou Gehrig.