Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Zen Dayley: The tendon sheath we all know and love

Roy Halladay against Joba Chamberlain tonight, what could be better... well, for starters, Alex Rios getting the ball in the air.

  • The great power outage is making talk of a Triple Crown viable again, since the Astros' Lance Berkman and the Rangers' Josh Hamilton are already raising speculation.

    Conditions that cause fewer players to hit 50 homers, or drive in 140 runs means the Triple Crown has gone from next to impossible to the neighbourhood of impossible, if that makes any sense. Gary Sheffield (.330, 33 HR, 105 RBI) took the last serious run at the Triple Crown in 1992 in a scoring-starved setting of just 3.88 runs per game.

    The only other player who's even come close in the past 40 years was Dick Allen in 1972. Allen played in a league where the average team scored only 3.47 runs per game. Now you know why the DH was brought in the following season. Allen won the home run (37) and RBI (113) titles and led in batting average as late as Sept. 8, before finishing third at .308 in a league where only six players cracked the .300 mark.

    Of course, the last two Triple Crowns, Carl Yastrzemski's in 1967 and Frank Robinson's in 1966, came during what us statgeeks call baseball's second Dead Ball Era. Hell, going way back, when Ted Williams did it in 1942, scoring was down more than a half-run per game from the previous season (4.26, from 4.74), which stemmed from changes made to the wartime baseball.

    The analogy doesn't quite fit for the 1920s and '30s when Rogers Hornsby and Jimmie Foxx turned the trick in high-run environments. Then again, Babe Ruth never did it (one year he led in homers and RBI but hit "only" .393 and lost the batting title by eight points; the next year, he won his only batting title, but was second in RBI).

    Just for interest's sake, here's the run-scoring environment the seven most recent Triple Crown seasons were achieved in:

    Mickey Mantle, 1956: 4.66
    Joe Medwick, 1937: 4.51
    Ted Williams, 1942: 4.26
    Ted Williams (again), 1947: 4.14
    Chuck Klein, 1933: 3.97
    Frank Robby, '66: 3.89
    Yaz, '67: 3.70
    Far be it to point out that if the Triple Crown should really be leading the league in on-base percentage, homers and runs scored. Ruth did that seven times. Michael Jack Schmidt also did so in 1981, a strike season.
  • David Ortiz's injury to his left wrist is not unlike "the one Curt Schilling had in his ankle in 2004." Hold off on bloody wristband jokes, since in all seriousness, ShysterBall notes it was the tendon sheath that reduced Nomar Garciaparra from a future Hall of Famer to the second-most famous athlete in his own home, and also scuppered the late Ken Caminiti's career, among other things.
  • Rest assured that Jamie Campbell's "the Blue Jays ... are stealing bases and dropping bunts to get men across (and, my, isn’t it fun to watch)" iCab entry did raise some eyebrows.

    Watching at a team that's 12th in a 14-team league in doing the one thing you have to do to win a ballgame -- score some fruckin' runs -- is fun? It's fun only insofar as pacing nervously around your apartment during games in May wondering where the runs are going to come from and getting angry when a member of the best starting rotation the Jays have had in 15-plus years has the temerity to give up two runs in a game is fun? Granted, it does help fill in the evenings for a guy who, let's admit it, doesn't have anything else going on most nights.

    Come to think of it, it is kind of fun. Well-stated, Jamie Campbell.

    (Yes, folks, it's fruckin' ... not a F-bomb and not the overused frickin' ... spread the word.)
  • Succeeding on exactly two-thirds of your stolen base tries is a net gain of nuthin'. The National Post has an article today on the Jays' base-stealing that doesn't mention that their success rate is 67%, third-worst in the entire major leagues. The other 13 teams in the AL have made it 74% of the time.

    The Jays have 38 steals and have been thrown out 19 times -- that's 19 runners taken off the bases and 19 outs, or zero net stolen bases. The Red Sox have 30 net steals (52 steals, 11 caught stealing), although almost all of that comes from Jacoby Ellsbury.

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to neatesager@yahoo.ca.

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