Tagged: Nolan Ryan

Looking back at bad predictions

Been on an archive binge again, and I decided to look at my predictions and early impressions posts. First, the good. In the AL East, I predicted that the Yankees and Rays would be in the division race until the final week of the season and that one of them would be the wild card. However, I failed to predict that the other would win the division, although in all fairness, it was impossible to predict the number of injuries Boston would have and they still weren’t mathematically eliminated until Game 157, so I think I did fairly well. Only problem was the order of the bottom two in the division, but a lot of people made that error. Also, the NL East. Perfect. The Phillies were division champions, the Braves were second and were the wild card, the Marlins and Mets were almost in a dead heat for third, and the Nationals are both in last place and only picking 6th or 7th in the 2011 draft. NL Central wasn’t horrible, either. I had the Pirates as the worst team in baseball, which they were, and I had the Astros fifth and the Brewers fourth–they were actually fourth and third, but only 1 and 2 games ahead of the fifth-place team, respectively. I said the Reds would “make some noise”, and they exceeded my expectations, winning the division handily. My only real mistake was expecting the Cubs (the aforementioned 5th-place team) to be good.

Not so good: The AL Central, AL West, and NL West. The Central I called a “three-team race”, and while I did correctly pick the top three teams, it wasn’t very close at all as the division was the first to be clinched, and furthermore the team I picked to win it finished a distant third and was more or less out of contention in August. The AL West I called a “mystery”, and didn’t really say much explicitly until we got to the playoff predictions, which revealed that despite my faint praise, I had picked the Mariners to come out of that jumble. The Mariners went on to lose 101 games and set new records for offensive futility, as well as revealing that Don Wakamatsu had a case of “John Gibbons Syndrome”. Ouch. The NL West, I called a “four-team race”, making cases for the four teams in question and failing to actually pick a winner, saying that “all I’m willing to predict is that the Padres will finish in last place.” The Padres entered the final day of the season tied with the Braves for the wild card lead and just 1 game behind the Giants, whom they were playing, for the NL West title, and furthermore if they won and the Braves lost, the Pads had the tiebreaker to get the division title and relegate the Giants to wild card status. They ended up losing and the Braves won, denying them a chance to play a 163rd game (not that that went particularly well for them in 2007), but still, bad. And Arizona’s collapse last year wasn’t a fluke, as they turned in the third-worst record in the majors. Yeah, you can blame part of that on the fact that their longtime ace was out for the entire year (remember him?), but it also became obvious that their rotation had never been more than two deep and they had no bullpen. In other words, they’re the pre-Nolan Ryan-era Texas Rangers. (Ryan’s time with the Rangers as an executive, not as a player.) And when their other best pitcher got off to a bad start as well, it was a ticket to last place. The “other best pitcher” then got traded mid-season.

Also, as the “early impressions” blog suggested, the Giants, who beat out the Padres for the division, appeared to have been my choice for #4. Another conclusion that can be reached from early impressions: I said this early order for the AL West was “almost exactly counter to my expectations”, with Mariners over Angels being the only thing I had right:

A’s
Rangers
Mariners
Angels

Thus, my prediction would have been:

Mariners
Angels
Rangers
A’s

Now look at the actual final standings:

Rangers
A’s
Angels
Mariners

That means that, once again, only one out of a possible six relative positions was as I expected, in this case, Rangers ahead of A’s. It’s really hard to screw up that badly.

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The Year of the Pitcher II continues!

Holy. Crap. That’s all I can say right now. Much like 1917, 2010 started with a lot of no-hitters and slowed down as the season wore on, with the final regular season no-hitter being thrown in July–I joked in the end of August that we were running out of time to fit one in for the month.

By the way, I’m just now learning that MLBlogs employs censorship…and that they aren’t exactly restricting it to actual curse words. My only guess for what the starred-out word in that entry is would be “w.h.o.p.p.i.n.g”, which means “really big” and is…oh, wait, I think I understand, the first syllable is phonetically identical to an antiquated slur against some sort of ethnicity, I’m not even sure what because it’s so outdated, though the spelling is different if I’m not mistaken–no “h”.

Which, of course, brings us back to the point of our post, which is no “H”, as in the abbreviation for “hits”, as in what the Cincinnati Reds were lacking in Game 1 of the NLDS. That’s six official ones on the year, which combined with Armando Galarraga’s imperfect game would make the seven needed to tie 1991’s modern record. And the author of this latest no-hitter? No “one-hit wonder”, pardon the pun. Harry Leroy Halladay III, in his postseason debut, pitched just the second postseason no-hitter in playoff history and his second no-hitter this year, becoming the first pitcher to pull off this feat since the immortal Nolan Ryan back in 1973. (If I heard correctly, the TBS announcers forgot about Ryan, incorrectly attributing Virgil Trucks’ 1952 double as the most recent instance. The only other two besides Halladay, Ryan, and Trucks were Allie Reynolds in 1951 and, of course, Johnny Vander Meer in back-to-back starts in 1938). Also, ESPN Stats Bureau notes that Don Larsen’s World Series perfect game was in the 53rd World Series to be played, and this year’s World Series will be the 106th–as in, the 53rd postseason since Larsen’s perfecto, the only other postseason no-hitter.

The presence of Nolan Ryan in the previous paragraph also provides for a convenient segue to the other topic of note, which is his Texas Rangers. They, like the Reds, made their 21st century postseason debut today, and they picked up a win, 5-1, over the Tampa Bay Rays. Previously, the Rangers had gone to the playoffs just 3 times, in 1996, 1998, and 1999, losing to the Yankees in the ALDS each time. The 2-run second inning that started the scoring was the first multi-run postseason inning the Rangers had had since Game 4 of the 1996 Division Series (in which they led 4-0 but lost 6-4 to lose the series three games to one); in fact, it equaled their entire scoring output for the 1998 and 1999 American League Division Series combined, as they got swept both years, getting shut out in Games 1 and 3 and scoring just one run in Game 2 both times. Um…yeah, I guess the Yankees’ pitchers were that dominant back then. The Rangers have historically been a high-scoring ballclub, so for them to be held to just one run in a three-game series two years in a row is really something. Congrats on the big win, boys.

No no-no, but still one of the best performances ever

Does that sound weird? Well, yeah, it does. I’m not really sure if I agree with the theory behind “game score”. The metric is simple enough: Base score of 50, add 1 point for each out recorded, 1 more for each strikeout, and 2 for each inning completed starting with the 5th. (This in itself seems a bit cheap, since starters should be able to get through 5, even 6 innings–probably more.) Subtract four points for each earned run allowed, two for each unearned run, two for each hit, and one for each walk. As such, a nine-inning perfect game (or other no-hit, no-walk shutout) would be 87 points plus the number of strikeouts. This means that a low-strikeout no-hitter will usually only be in the 90s, or the 80s if there are a lot of walks (Edwin Jackson’s game score in his no-hitter was only 85, due to having 8 walks and only 6 strikeouts). Brandon Morrow, though he failed to get the no-hitter, had 17 strikeouts while only allowing 1 hit and two walks. That’s good for a final game score of 100, tied for fourth-best in a nine-inning game in the live-ball era, behind only Kerry Wood (1 hit, no walks, 20 strikeouts in 1998–game score 105), Sandy Koufax (14 strikeouts, perfect game in 1965–game score 101), and Nolan Ryan (16 strikeouts, 2 walks, no-hitter in 1991–game score 101). The last one to crack triple digits? Randy Johnson in 2004, when he struck out 13 in his perfect game. A quick look at the Kerry Wood game–only 7 outs not made by strikeouts and only one hit, no walks–shows that the maximum possible in a nine-inning game would seem to be 114. (Actually, it’s more like 141, since as many as three batters can reach on a third-strike passed ball/wild pitch in each inning without any runs scoring. However, this would take at least 162 pitches, and that’s with each strikeout requiring the minimum three pitches. In other words, don’t count on it.) That Morrow came that close to “perfection” without actually getting the no-hitter seems weird…or does it? Certainly, it was a better-pitched game than Edwin Jackson’s no-hitter, or even possibly Dallas Braden’s perfect game. (However, it could be argued that it wasn’t even the best-pitched “1-hitter” of the year–Armando Galarraga’s imperfect game required just 83 88 pitches, a model of efficiency.) On another note, what’s the highest game score ever recorded? Harvey Haddix’s “Best game ever pitched” had a game score of 107 (1 hit, 1 walk, 1 unearned run, 8 strikeouts, 12.2 IP). Has anyone else gone higher? (Probably–pitchers used to complete games no matter how long they were, and each extra inning adds 5 more to the game score–three for the outs and two for the inning completion. A 16-inning complete game–which has happened–would have a baseline of 122 before adding strikeouts and subtracting hits/walks/runs)