April 03, 2016

Opening Day for the Greatest Numerical Sport: The New York Times marks the opening of the MLB season with some numbers that are becoming unreachable in the sport: 75 stolen bases (last by Jose Reyes, 2007), 250 innings pitched (Justin Verlander, 2011), 100 relief innings (Scott Proctor, 2006), 40/40 club (Alfonso Soriano, 2006), 20 sacrifice bunts by a non-pitcher (Juan Pierre, 2007). You know it's time for the great game to return when we're thinking about sacrifice bunts by a non-pitcher,

posted by rcade to baseball at 09:35 AM - 19 comments

Before I read the article and see their predictions...


75 stolen bases (last by Jose Reyes, 2007)

Dee Gordon stole 64 in 148 games in 2014, and 58 in 145 games in 2015. His OBP has gone up every season for the past 3 seasons. He won a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove, and the Marlins a terrible team. Barring a fluke injury, he should get into 155+ games this season, and could break 75 stolen bases (especially with an old-school manager like Mattingly (who has seen first hand what a speedster can do)).

I'll give him a 35% chance to pull it off.

250 innings pitched (Justin Verlander, 2011)

David Price through 248.1IP in 2014. He's just signed a massive contract with the Boston Red Sox. He's going to be asked to show his worth for that contract. I think there is a better than decent chance (barring injury, I'd say 40%) that he breaks 250IP this year.

100 relief innings (Scott Proctor, 2006)

Given the rise of the bullpen (Royals), there MIGHT be a chance for a pitcher to do this again, but I think it's time has run out. The player with the best hope of pulling this off is probably Dellin Betances (Yankees). He threw 84IP in relief last year when he was the #2 reliever. He's been bumped down to #3 (well, when Chapman comes back from suspension), so I could see his role be expanded to the 6th/7th inning. I'll say a 30% chance he reaches 100IP (especially if Chapman/Miller don't falter).

40/40 club (Alfonso Soriano, 2006)

The best choice to do it:

Manny Machado (35/20 last season) and he's only 23 years old. A tiny bump in power, more chances on the basepaths, and he's my guess as to who pulls it off this year. I'll say 30% chance.

20 sacrifice bunts by a non-pitcher (Juan Pierre, 2007)

Ugh. I hope this never gets broken. It's a silly mark and something any manager should never aspire to see broken on their team, and no player should ever WANT to break. I think the only hope is a terrible hitter on what would be a great hitting team.

Hello, Darwin Barney (Blue Jays)! If you're batting, and you have guys like Pillar (86% contact rate), Donaldson, Bautista, Encarnacion, and Tulowitzki batting after you, then maybe a manager might consider you bunting over a runner or two (if there are zero outs) to give the other guys the chance to knock them in.

Still, I can't see it happening. Let's say a 15% chance of it occurring.

posted by grum@work at 10:06 AM on April 03

Machado getting a 30% shot to do 40/40 is optimistic. My pick is Charlie Blackmon (17/43) last season. The homers are the bigger challenge and that Rocky Mountain inflation could take hold. But I'd only put the chance at 10%.

posted by rcade at 12:43 PM on April 03

Machado getting a 30% shot to do 40/40 is optimistic.

It's opening day! I'm always optimistic!

posted by grum@work at 12:59 PM on April 03

Good point. Today is peak optimism.

posted by rcade at 01:31 PM on April 03

As a Reds fan, "Opening Day" is not on Sunday, but Monday this year. Precisely, at 4:10 p.m. Monday afternoon, when the Reds game starts. The four letter network screwed with the baseball Gods when they had other games the day before the Reds.

posted by jagsnumberone at 01:28 AM on April 04

Hi Folks. just to let you know the Owl, Mrs Owl and one of the owlets will be in the good old US of A from 11 - 29 June. We will be based in the beautiful surrounds of New Haven, Connecticut, but will be doing a bit of travelling as well.

Question for the Brains Trust - what is the best ball park experience in the vicinity? As this is my first trip to Septic land, I feel an urge to commune with the Great American Pastime, complete with a sunny afternoon, a hot dog and a beer.

Thanks in advance.

posted by owlhouse at 04:41 AM on April 04

For major league baseball, you're looking at Yankee Stadium, Citi Field (or whatever, the Mets play there), or Fenway (Red Sox). I myself have only been to Yankee Stadium pre-remodel, so I can't compare with the others, but Fenway has a reputation. It's slightly further from New Haven than the New York stadiums would be.

posted by LionIndex at 07:08 AM on April 04

The Braves are doing their part to prove to the terrorists that America won't be defeated.

posted by bender at 09:14 AM on April 04

Thanks Lion Man. I understand that tickets to Fenway are hard to come by. It might have to be the Yankees then.

Ms Goddam from Gotham might even be there!

posted by owlhouse at 10:06 AM on April 04

Bender - I am salivating already.

posted by owlhouse at 10:08 AM on April 04

If seeking more of a late 19th century colonial experience, Fenway might be the closest thing we have to the Members' Stand at Sydney CG. Wrigley Field as well.

If you want contempo, Citi Field seems to be the preferred place in NY at the moment. If the setting and the experience matters more than cachet or (transplanted) historic vibe.

Minor league parks are highly enjoyable and more relaxed, such as historic Yale Field in New Haven. Somewhat akin to the Basin Reserve in scale and feel.

But without having a large mollymawk size up your folding chair for use as a nesting site while you're visiting the port-a-bog.

posted by beaverboard at 12:10 PM on April 04

Ms Goddam from Gotham might even be there!

Jersey, not Gotham. But close enough. I'd be down for a Yankee Stadium meet up.

Could I also convince you to come out to a Sky Blue game on the 19th? Kerr and Foord are back with the team. Can't guarantee it, but I might be able to swing a brief meet & greet with them (provided Australia hasn't whisked them away for Rio prep).

posted by goddam at 01:20 PM on April 04

Thanks everyone. Flights are booked and visa waivers are in. I'll keep you posted here or in another media.

posted by owlhouse at 07:49 PM on April 04

The Sky Blue game might be ON. I'm sure the Matildas will be playing - we want them to be match fit for our gold medal match against the US in Rio. :-)

posted by owlhouse at 09:52 PM on April 04

Wrong coast, Owlie! Do you have a layover in SF on the way?

posted by billsaysthis at 10:11 AM on April 05

I understand that tickets to Fenway are hard to come by.

It will depend on how they're doing. The place thinned out pretty well last year and there are always tickets on the secondary market-- a mid-week game shouldn't be too expensive unless it's the Yankees.

posted by yerfatma at 02:40 PM on April 05

Sorry Bill - travelling the other way. When I have a longer holiday, Mrs Owl and I will do a proper road trip. I'm told SF is the closest American city to Sydney in terms of culture, food and climate!

posted by owlhouse at 09:40 PM on April 05

Having been to both I can agree with that comparison. I wonder what academic institution might be in New Haven to attract your visit...

posted by billsaysthis at 10:41 AM on April 06

Mrs Owl's sister's kids' elementary school in Milford?

posted by owlhouse at 07:49 PM on April 06

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