mlb newsworthy moments

DRA, an empty stadium, injuries and All-Star ballots


Upon waking up this morning (much later than most being on the west & best coast) I realized there are way too many things going on in Major League Baseball right now than I could possibly write about in separate articles so I’m going to see if I can cover all the big points in one post.

 

DRA (or Deserved Run Average) is a lovely new statistic brought to us by the sabermetrics community, more specifically, the smart guys over at Baseball Prospectus. The most basic way to put it is that it is much more accurate in determining a pitcher’s overall performance than ERA.  I read the article and I understand this new statistic that is supposed to more accurately measure a pitcher’s performance than ERA. I’ve never been good at sabermetrics, seriously. I just figured out things like WAR and FIP and WHIP. Now they’ve gone and thrown another one at me and it definitely isn’t hanging right there over the plate where I can get a great read on it.

I’ll give you a very short and sweet overview because it incorporates a lot more than a pitcher’s number of runs divided by the number of innings, then I will leave you with a link to their “basic” article on the new stat which in turn will take you to a more in-depth article (something I never could have gotten through!) if you’re a sabermetric type thinker or that kind of thing is overly interesting to you.

In the mean time, here’s the basic deal as far as I can tell – feel free to correct me if I am wrong. Like I said, this is far from my strong suit. DRA takes into account a number of factors that ERA does not. Unless the pitcher throws a wild pitch or leaves a fastball right over the plate, they have very little to with anything that happens once the ball is put into play. Whether or not a play results in an out, a hit or a run depends on so many more factors like the ballpark they’re in, the weather at the time, how good of an arm said fielder who ends up with the ball happens to have.

On the BP site they explain how even the tendency of hitters to steal on certain pitchers more than others could allow them to even just take an extra step towards second which could result in them getting to third on a base hit instead of just getting to second.

There’s also always the question concerning ERA when a pitcher puts a guy on base and is then taken out of the game. How responsible is that pitcher really if the reliever then walks the next three batters? Or better yet pitchers are lumped into the same category if they load the bases and get out of the jam than if they just went out there and struck out the side.

It’s obviously quite a bit more complicated than all that, especially in how they calculate it all. That goes right over my head. But the team a BP did make a list of the “25 best qualified starters by DRA over the past 25 years.” Quite a few pitchers make the list more than once or even twice but Pedro Martinez topped the list in 2000 when he would have had a 1.03 DRA. The full list is in the Baseball Prospectus article that can be found by clicking HERE

Overall, I don’t particularly like changes to what I know but I think the more they expand and learn about DRA the more important in evaluating pitchers, even for the awards, the new stat will become!

There were a couple of other announcements that caught my eye this morning that don’t warrant their own post but deserve to at least be noted.

All-Star Ballots are now officially open for your voting pleasure and convenience on MLB.com and individual team sites. An important detail to note is that all ballots will be online. You won’t find the usual paper ballots at your local ballpark. So if you want to see your favorite players (I believe in and have cast my vote for Stephen Vogt! … for example) at the Mid-Summer Classic in Cincinnati rubbing elbows with Pete Rose, who new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has given permission to participate in the ceremonies*, then you’d better get on your computer, phone or tablet and cast your votes! The ballots became available this morning, you can vote up to 35 times and voting will close at 11:59 pm ET on July 2. The All-Star Game is scheduled to take place on July 14 but like last year there will be an All-Star Week for fans to get the full All-Star experience.

*Rose’s participation is not to be confused with reinstatement but in my opinion it is most certainly a step in the right direction by the new commissioner.

Injuries: If you haven’t already heard about the New York Yankees’ and the predicament they are in with their ace Masahiro Tanaka you can read about it HERE. An Arizona Diamondbacks starter was the latest in line to be hit in the face with a line drive. Archie Bradley took a liner to the face off of the Colorado Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez who called the whole incident “a nightmare.”

Luckily Bradley was relatively alright. He’s still headed for the disabled list but preliminary evaluations did not even show signs of a concussion. He’s lucky to be alive.

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Brandon McCarthy was once hit in the head with a line drive, had to have emergency brain surgery and still suffers from the effects of being hit, such as now suffering from seizures. I mention this injury in my post on Tanaka but another important injury of note is that the Dodgers have lost McCarthy, who they just signed to a four-year $48 million contract, for the season. He like so many others has a torn ulnar collateral ligament and will require Tommy John surgery.

While players get injured everyday the Cincinnati Reds placed pitcher Homer Bailey on the DL with a potentially serious elbow injury and the Dodgers’ recently placed Yasiel Puig on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Hamstring injuries can be tricky to recover from and anything involving a pitcher’s elbow always raises alarms. So while I am leaving out some players these injuries seemed to be the most intense and important to their teams.

Unprecedented event at Camden Yards: Due to the recent riots in Baltimore after the funeral of Freddy Gray, who died under mysterious circumstances when in the custody of the Baltimore police, the Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles have already had to postpone two games.

Wednesday they will play to an empty stadium, something that has never before been done in MLB history.  Cases of playing to a stadium closed to the public have been documented but never at a MLB game. The lowest attendance ever recorded was six spectators but never a completely empty game. The game was also moved up five hours because Baltimore is now under a citywide curfew of 10 pm. 

The Orioles weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays will be played at Tropicana Field with the Orioles acting as the home team. The two missed games have been rescheduled into a single-ticket double header on May 28.

Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter had this to say about the situation,

“It’s all about what’s best for the city and the safety of our people. The last thing you want to do is put the fans in harm’s way. You have to err on the side of safety. It’s definitely going to be unchartered territory.”

Firsts in a sport that has now spanned three different centuries are absolutely unchartered territory. I’m personally interested in how the players reactions will be following the game which has already begun. Baltimore is currently leading Chicago 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.

Hopefully this post has caught you up on a few details that I deemed important, if I have missed something major (and I will be doing a piece on the Los Angeles Angels’ continued poor behavior towards Josh Hamilton so that did not escape my attention. I will also in the near future be addressing the DH debate) please let me know! Thanks! Enjoy your day, may your team come away with a victory (unless you’re an Angels fan – sorry! Conflict of interest!)!