31 May 2009

Large loss, small post: Game 51 Unfair Loss Shares

Yesterday was the Dodgers' worst loss of the season. It was only their fourth loss by more than 3 runs. Their previous bad losses were by 5 runs twice and 6 runs once.

Yesterday was a rarity; the Dodgers are in nearly every game they play.

Unfair Loss Shares ( Dodgers )

Pierre -- 1
Loney -- 1
Stults -- 1

Unfair Win Shares ( Cubs )

Johnson -- 1
Fontenot -- 1
Dempster -- 1

30 May 2009

Dodgers Doggerel: Game 50 Unfair Loss Shares

Awful rhyming headlines from yesterday's 2-1 Dodger loss to the Cubs:

Lilly, Hill make Dodgers ill

Loney rides the strikeout pony

Pierre rides the double play mare

Ethier rides the double play steer

Those headlines pretty much sum up who's getting the unfair shares from yesterday's game. If only the more Dodgers had been like Matt Kemp, who rode the home run, um, Shemp. ( Since Kemp is a big guy, Moe and Larry would also probably have to help carry him. ) Late double plays are the worst, and a previous single or walk won't save you, Ethier and Pierre. Okay, Ethier's single wasn't actually previous to his double play, since it happened in the ninth inning, but only an extra base hit could have saved him at that point.

More terrible rhyming headlines of yesterday's sporting news:

Hurdle curdled

Rockies crazy to elevate Tracy

Melo encased in purple and gold jello

Ariza eats the three pointer pizza

Since I couldn't come up with even a bad headline involving Kobe and adobe, I'll stop there.

Unfair Loss Shares ( Dodgers )

Loney -- 1
Ethier -- 1
Pierre -- 1

Unfair Win Shares ( Cubs )

Lilly -- 2
Hill -- 1

29 May 2009

Game 49 Unfair Win Shares

It was another night at the minor league park for us, so I heard the last inning of the Dodger victory through a transistor radio pressed to my ear. Sam Lynn ballpark in Bakersfield is the kind of place where they will sometimes play goofy sound effects or stock sound clips to punctuate the action of the game. So it was that in the moment when Troncoso struck out phenom Fox with the bases loaded to preserve a 2-1 victory, I heard a chorus of Hallelujah. They were celebrating a tough strikeout in Sam Lynn, but I knew what the brief burst of joyous music was really for.

Torre has his relief pitchers bat this year more often than any other Dodger manager I can remember. I guess that's in part a product of having such a short bench. I don't think there's any Dodger reliever good enough that I would choose him pitching the ninth with a one run lead over the chance to extend the lead. That said, I would not support using a pinch hitter in that situation if it meant someone like Mota had to pitch. I'm okay with Troncoso pitching two innings last night, but he should have come in on a double switch to prevent him from coming to the plate.

There is a lot of unfairness in the unfair loss shares for the Cubs. And that's great! That's the way it is supposed to be. When you lose the world is your enemy, and the smallest flaws and mistakes may be magnified. Jake Fox had one hit and one strikeout, but the strikeout is all that's visible after the game. Bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, two out, one run down --- nothing you did before matters if you don't get it done there. Game's on the line and that's when you show the world that you are stuffed full of manly, clutch cliches. It turns out Fox's manly cliche meter is reading zero. He's not giving 110%, or putting a good swing on it, or taking what the pitcher gives him, or swinging a hot bat, or even picking up his teammates. Instead he dropped his teammates into a flaming pit of loserness. Or maybe Troncoso was just too good, but unfair loss shares aren't about what the other guy did. In the world of unfair loss shares you didn't get beaten, you were a loser. It's a cruel world.

Sadly I'm not quite as hard and ruthless and unfair as I should be, or I would also give an unfair loss share to Bobby Scales, the career minor leaguer making good in his first shot at the big leagues. Yeah, I should give one to him, the guy who hit a home run that accounted for the only Cub run. His strikeout preceding Fox's more than erases the good he did with the home run, doesn't it? His strikeout in some ways is even worse than Fox's, because all he had to do was hit a fly ball and the game is tied. But Troncoso was too good, he might complain, if he was here to defend himself, and then I would give him a second unfair loss share for being whiny and sassing back at me. I've almost talked myself into giving him one, after all, but I won't. Soriano and Theriot get the last two unfair loss shares for messing up the eighth inning for the Cubs, and they might also in their defense point to Troncoso being too good, but I don't want to hear about it. Whiners.

Troncoso was sure a bringer of doom, wasn't he? I'm almost tempted to give him two unfair win shares instead of Wolf.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Wolf -- 2
Troncoso -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Cubs )

Theriot -- 1
Fox -- 1
Soriano -- 1

28 May 2009

Talking Through My Bullpen Angst: Game 48 Unfair Win Shares

The Dodgers yesterday completed a total sweep of the Rockies. This means that the Dodgers worst offensive game ( 7 runs ) beats the Rockies best offensive game ( 6 runs ) in the series. The Dodgers have one previous total sweep this year, of the Giants from April 13 to 15 at Dodger Stadium.

Of course, Broxton almost blew the total sweep, not to mention the regular sweep and the game. This is one of those things that is probably best to forget about, given that is was Coors Field, he hadn't pitched in a while, and he's been so great all year. Broxton isn't the guy in the 'pen who should worry Dodger fans, in any case.

Consider the following hypothetical --- and let me emphasize that, for purposes of jinx-warding, this is hypothetical, a thought experiment, if you will.

The Dodgers make it to the playoffs, and are playing the Brewers in the first round. They've split the first two games, and Kershaw is pitching game 3. He does well, allowing only one run through 5 innings, and the offense is clicking and scores 6 runs. It looks like an easy victory. The only problem is that Kershaw is making too many pitches, and he runs into trouble in the sixth inning and Torre calls to the bullpen before things get out of hand. Only, it turns out that things really get out of hand once the bullpen gets involved. No one from the 'pen has it. First Wade stumbles, allowing a couple of inherited runners to score, before Torre calls on Troncoso to stop the bleeding. 6-3 now. Then in the seventh inning Troncoso runs into trouble, and Ohman comes in, but he can't shut them down either, so then Torre turns to Belisario, who finally gets the last out, but now the score is 6-5 after seven. But Belisario isn't the answer either, because he allows a hit and a walk to lead off the eighth inning, and Torre is forced to turn to Broxton early. Maybe Broxton can perserve the lead, but it's going to be a tall order. What looked like an easy victory has turned into a nail-biting toss-up.

So, how is this hypothetical worry-fullfilment scenario challenged? There are at least seven points to make against it:

1. The Dodger relief pitchers, with the exception of Mota, have all had good outings where they helped the team win a game. All of them ( aside from Broxton ) worry me, but at the same time I must remember that they aren't bums.

2. Two months is way too short a time to form judgments on any but the best and worst relievers. Heck, a full year is usually too short with relievers, given the amount of year-to-year fluctuation you see in the stats of most relievers. We know Broxton is great, and we know Mota is awful. But the rest of them? Too soon to come to conclusions.

3. The relievers you start the year with usually aren't the same ones you finish a year with. I don't know where the new relievers will come from, but I do know that the Dodgers never have the same bullpen corps the entire year. Whether through promotion or trade some new faces will come in to replace the failed. At the very least I don't expect to see Mota last the year with the team.

4. The Dodgers might not make the playoffs. Then we wouldn't have to worry about the relievers blowing a game like that. I don't like this point. I call do-over on number four.

4. The offense might score some runs to give the 'pen a bigger cushion. Missing from my hypothetical was what the Dodger offense was doing. While a bullpen should be able to hold a 6-1 lead ( and the Dodgers 'pen usually will ) they might get even more of a cushion if the Dodgers keep scoring, as they did in the 16-6 game.

5. The Dodger 'pen ERA is 3.93, good for seventh in the National League. That's not great, but it's pretty good. The Dodgers starting pitching and offense are so good that the Dodgers don't need a great 'pen. They're three games above the beast ( above 0.666 ) even with the slightly above average 'pen performance so far.

6. The Dodger 'pen would probably have a better ERA if the starters went more innings. The Dodgers are giving a lot of innings ( relatively speaking ) to the eighth guy out of the 'pen ( most teams don't even have an eighth guy out of the 'pen! ). They'll probably be able to shorten up the bullpen if they make the playoffs, since there are more days off and the five inning end of rotation starters who tax the 'pen won't be starting anymore.

Now for the unfair shares. Kershaw is still walking too many, but he had a pretty good start considering it was Coors. I really want to give an unfair win share to Ethier for getting two hits and scoring twice, but the Little Engine That Could and Loney beat him out.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Kershaw -- 1
Loney -- 1
Pierre -- 1

Tulowitzki had another miserable game with lots of stranded runners, including a strikeout with the bases loaded in the ninth. He came this close to getting two unfair shares for the game. Jimenez seemed to be outpitching Kershaw up until he ran into big trouble in the seventh. And Hawpe gets a very cruel and unfair loss share for his pinch hit ground out with the winning run on first. He had the game on his bat right there and he failed: he has to get an unfair loss share for that. This is what unfair loss shares were made for.

Unfair Loss Shares ( Rockies )

Tulowitzki -- 1
Jimenez -- 1
Hawpe -- 1

27 May 2009

The Little Engine That Could: Game 47 Unfair Win Shares

Who is the most surprising Dodger of the early season? I guess it can't be Milton, with so many other candidates who have more playing time, but still, I was shocked to see him come into Coors Field and pitch well and get a win. I guess I shouldn't be, when every other bit role player who the Dodgers turn to seems to shine. Check out this list of Dodger reserve hitters by OPS:

Hoffmann -- 1.073
Castro -- 1.006
Pierre -- 0.996
Lorretta -- 0.842
Ausmus -- 0.781

These are all fairly small samples, especially Hoffmann, but all together it gives the Dodgers a huge offensive boost. I guess it can't last, since Pierre can only approach such a high OPS while batting near 0.400, and Castro is a known out-maker. But it also seems that there is a magic around the Dodgers this year, even persisting through the Manny ordeal. I bet even Daryle Ward would hit well for the Dodgers this season. ( Ward had an OPS of 0.403 for the Dodgers in 2003, about half of his career OPS. His OPS+ that year was 9! )

Maybe the exception to Dodger role players doing well is some of the relievers. And yet even there none of them save for Mota are truly hopeless. The best of the non-Broxton bunch may be Troncoso, and he had a very nice game yesterday. Pitching two scoreless innings in Coors Field is huge, even with a fairly big lead, because, you know, it's Coors. So I really want to give Troncoso an unfair win share. Doesn't it seem like two of the shares should go to pitchers when the Dodgers allow only one run in Coors anyway?

But I don't know where Troncoso squeezes in. I have to give one to Milton for his nice, if short, start. Blake has to get one for driving in three --- that was the biggest moment of the game. And the last one, I fear, will go to The Little Engine That Could.

If Pierre hadn't tripled to set up the fifth run and singled in the sixth and seventh runs then Troncoso would have been protecting a 3 run lead instead of ultimately a 6 run lead, and I think then he would surely get an unfair win share for his efforts. Of course, if the infield hadn't been playing in when Pierre came up in the eighth inning then his little slap bloop thing would have nestled gently into Quintanilla's glove instead of I-think-I-can-I-think-I-canning over the drawn-in infield for a cute-as-a-button little two run singlet. So yeah, Troncoso. You just lost an unfair win share to an anthropomorphic blue train.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Blake -- 1
Milton -- 1
Pierre -- 1

On the Rockies side, Fowler and Tulo left a lot of runners, and Cook didn't make the Dodgers leave their runners, so they get the loser shares.

Unfair Loss Shares ( Rockies )

Fowler -- 1
Tulowitzki -- 1
Cook -- 1

26 May 2009

The Padres are RIGHT BEHIND the Dodgers: Game 46 Unfair Win Shares

Runs scored plus runs batted in for each Dodger in yesterday's 16-6 Dodger win:

Pierre -- 5
Kemp -- 5
Castro -- 5
Hudson -- 4
Martin -- 4
Hoffmann -- 3
Blake -- 3
Loney -- 2
Stults -- 1

The top three on the list will get the unfair win shares. I think it's becoming a rule that Castro and Pierre have to be the offensive co-stars at least once a week.

I heard most of the second big inning on the radio as I took some newspapers to a big recycling bin. Steiner had the call, of course, and he will get into it with great zest when something is happening. He often gets ahead of himself, making a ball that is just short of the warning track sound like a home run, or, well, what he did in the second big inning.

With Kemp at second and Loney at first, Hoffmann hit a sinking liner that got past the outfielder for a double. Steiner is really excited when the ball gets by. He takes a big verbal windup, then lets loose with "And Kemp scores, and Loney is RIGHT BEHIND HIM!" Okay, cool. Two runs in. But wait, there's more. Or less, actually. "Now Loney is being held at third!" says Steiner. Oh. But, I thought he was RIGHT BEHIND Kemp ( which I remember thinking impressive, since Kemp is very fast ). Is third base twenty feet from home plate now? I guess Steiner's interpretation of what RIGHT BEHIND means is different than mine.

Now that's all mildly amusing, but it's what happened next that really makes it. The very next batter, Castro, singles up the middle with Hoffmann on second and Loney on third. Undaunted by his previous slip-up, Steiner winds up again and let's loose with "And Loney scores, and Hoffmann is RIGHT BEHIND him!"

This time it held up.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Pierre -- 1
Kemp -- 1
Castro -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Rockies )

De La Rosa -- 2
Grilli -- 1

25 May 2009

Gomey, the Bucket, and Froggy: Game 45 Unfair Loss Shares

The Dodgers' high A affiliate Inland Empire 66ers are in Bakersfield for a four game series, and we decided to attend the game last night. In lieu ( it took me six tries to spell that word correctly, which means I tried every combination of e-i-u before I hit the correct one ) of talking about yesterday's horrible Dodger loss, I'll rather tell some bizarre stories of being at a minor league game.


So in the fourth inning Mauro Joe Gomez of the Blaze hit a solo home run to make the score 4-2 in favor of the 66ers. We're sitting on the first base side of the field, between the dugout and the home plate, just four rows from the edge of the field. The only thing separating us from the field is a chain link fence, and the mental line between ballplayer and fan. When Gomez hits his home run there is a great cheer from the crowd, of course. The woman sitting in front of us was no exception to the cheering. She's cheering, "Yay Gomey!" and similar. Okay, this seems pretty standard. Gomez trots around the bases, crosses home plate, then begins to walk back to the dugout. His path takes him right in front of where we are sitting, right past us, and right past the woman in row two who is still cheering for him. "Way to go, Gomey!" Now look, I have no problem with cheering, but still --- he's six feet away, and it's not like she's lost in the crowd, or anything --- it's just her, and us, in a box of about 24 seats. He's right there! And so he turns and looks at her, and how can he not, I guess, since she's pretty well shouting at him from six feet away. Poor Gomey has this expression of embarrassment, awkwardness. He kind of gives her a half smile and a little nod as he walks by, as if to acknowledge, yes, I hear you cheering your head off for me for that ball I just hit over the very short left field fence. How can I not? You're practically right on top of me. After that little nod the woman in front of us stopped cheering.

The Home Run Bucket

After Gomey hit his home run an old woman came around with a grimey blue bucket with a squeeze horn on the side. Home run money, she says. To us. She's asking us. For home run money. Wait, what? They collect money for the player who hit the home run. Oh. What about the pitchers? I don't say this, mind you. I don't say anything, I'm too flabbergasted. Why collect money for the feats of some players but not others? Is there a perfect game bucket? What about the minor league Juan Pierres of the world? Couldn't they use a little extra money too? What if the player was a high draft pick who got a huge signing bonus? Does he really need 50 extra dollars from the fans?

The old woman, who I think of as the team matron, holds out the bucket. It's kind of awkward ( again, Gomey, you keep producing these awkward moments ) and she's pretty insistent, in a matronly way. My wife gives her a dollar. The team matron squeezes the horn. Toot! Money in the bucket! Is it tax deductible? I guess not. The bucket is really grotty. Grody. Probably a clown's fish bucket in a past life. Maybe it was used by team mascot Salty the Sailor back in the early 80's when Bakersfield was a Mariners affiliate. I wouldn't touch that money if I was Gomey. Have it laundered first.


Every time we've gone to a Blaze game recently there's been the same guy selling programs just beyond the entrance. He has a really rumbly, gravelly, froggy voice. It's something else. He's the ambassador to the newt people when he's not selling programs. "Programs! Get your programs here!" He's pretty good, in a theoretical way. It's not like anyone is buying programs, but he does get your attention. I think he'd do well at Dodger Stadium. He's in his 50's, with a pot belly, very tanned, and white sideburns. He's truly a character. He looks like he was probably palling around with Salty the Sailor back in the Mariner days. They probably used that home run bucket as a spittoon.

Around the sixth inning Froggy decides to sit in the third row right in front of us. No more programs to sell, I guess. But wait, he doesn't sit down first. First he comes up behind the woman in row two and puts his fingers behind her sons head. You know, bunny ears. Ha ha. From a 55 year old man with white sideburns. Well, okay, fair enough, I guess. But wait, there's more. The son is sitting right in the woman's lap now. ( He wasn't there during the Gomey incident. ) So Froggy has his fingers almost in the woman's face, only she hasn't realized yet. When she does, awkward moment number three. The first that can't be traced back to Gomey. Why is that man putting his fingers right in my face? I guess he's a regular there, and they kind of know each other. So it's not as awkward as it might have been. But still. So after that, he sits down in row three.

One of the Blaze batters is up, and he takes a pitch. It's a ball. Ball three, actually. And Froggy yells, in his very Froggy voice, "That's okay! Don't worry about it!" What? Don't worry about it? It's a ball. He took a ball. That's a good thing. Are you rooting for the other team? Why would he worry about taking a pitch? Then ball four comes, and Froggy says the same thing. "That's okay! Don't worry about it!" Well, he's not worried about it, he's going to first base with his walk. And the dime drops for Froggy, and he says, "Don't worry about it --- uh, you're on base, you got on base, good job." Maybe Froggy thinks walks aren't for real men. Real men hack, and hack again, as if they have frogs in their throats.

Oh yeah. Why do I keep calling him Froggy? Can I call him that just because of his voice? Well, there is that, but that's not why I'm calling him that. When Froggy sat down, he was drinking some red liquid from a styrofoam cup. Maybe it was Kool-aid, or anti-freeze to keep his voice in fine condition. I don't know. Anyway, written in pen, on the side of cup, was a single word. That word? Froggy.

Unfair Loss Shares ( Dodgers )

Martin -- 1
Billingsley -- 1
Wade -- 1

Unfair Win Shares ( Angels )

Rivera -- 1
Hunter -- 2

24 May 2009

Haiku Sunday: Game 44 Unfair Win Shares

Angels and Dodgers
Not a Dan Brown film event
Just baseball with Vin

five syllables and five outs
perfect symmetry

Big bad Jon Broxton
Line drive outs scare in the ninth
Strike outs rule the tenth

Russell J. Martin
Where is the golden power?
At least you doubled

Lackey lacks a win
Because Shields could not hold it
Blake singled one in

Pierre knows the drill
three and oh, three and one, take
three and two was low

No Arredondo
Pierre is not a slugger
Why would you walk him?

Thirty and fourteen
The Dodgers are in the clouds
Simply amazing

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Belisario -- 1
Broxton -- 1
Blake -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Angels )

Shields -- 1
Arredondo -- 1
Matthews -- 1

23 May 2009

Pop Quiz, Hotshot: Game 43 Unfair Loss Shares

Question 1:

The Dodgers were 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position because

A) They didn't have "the will of the warrior".
B) They were unlucky.
C) They don't have enough iron in their diets.
D) They have poor character and heart.

Question 2:

The Angels are

A) The Dodgers biggest rival.
B) The Dodgers smallest rival.
C) The Dodgers most average-sized rival.
D) A Dodger rival of indeterminate size.

Question 3:

The Angels won yesterday because

A) The American League is better.
B) They channeled their rage at being denied the DH into a bravura 2 for 17 performance with runners in scoring position.
C) Life isn't fair.
D) They were helped by ethereal beings in the outfield.

Question 4:

Orlando Hudson bunted for a sacrifice in the seventh inning last night because

A) He secretly wishes he was a pitcher.
B) He was too lazy to risk getting a real hit and having to run the bases afterward.
C) He wanted to test his theory that the Dodgers were completely incapable of driving home a man at third with less than two outs.
D) Real men bunt.

Question 5:

The Dodger unfair loss shares go to

A) Martin and Hudson for leaving runners at third and Wade for giving up the go ahead runs.
B) Pierre ( all three ) for getting caught stealing ahead of a walk.
C) Mota for still being on the team and two for new guy Hoffman because he needs to be hazed.

Question 6:

The Angel unfair win shares go to

A) Aybar and Izturis ( two ) for sticking around with the Angels after their Dodger brothers have long since moved on.
B) Jered Weaver ( all three ) for pitching semi-decently after Dodger brother Jeff Weaver threatened to tell the world about his bed wetting problem if he didn't give up a bunch of runs.
C) Hunter for his horrible evil outfield catches, Figgins for his precious RBIs and Arredondo for being the Angels most impressive pitcher.



If you got 0-5 correct, you fail the quiz.
If you got all 6 correct, you probably cheated.

Unfair Loss Shares ( Dodgers )

J. Martin -- 1
Hudson -- 1
Wade -- 1

Unfair Win Shares ( Angels )

Hunter -- 1
Arredondo -- 1
Figgins -- 1

21 May 2009

Hail the RBI! --- Game 42 Unfair Win Shares

All hail the RBI. The mighty RBI.

And those who bring to us the RBI: hail to them. Hail to the one who produces the precious RBI. His feat shall live and be sung of for a thousand thousand years, ( or until the next game, whichever comes first ).

All hail Russell Martin. Hail to J. Martin, maker of the RBI, driver of runs, batter of industriousness. Where lesser men failed before him, again and again, like mice being eaten by hawks, Martin was a cunning hamster, safe in his cage.

It was the inning of eight, and there was one run for the Dodgers, and there was one run for the Mets, and no man could drive in a run, not since the time of Hammurabi ( or the third inning, whichever is more recent ). And Hudson stood at the second base, and Ethier stood at the first base, and Martin took his stance at the plate. The first offering he disdained. The second offering came, and he swung, and low! the ball went, skipping across the earth, so hard and true that the in-gathered fielders could not touch it, and the out-gathered fielders were made to gather it after a lengthy time, and Hudson could run to the third base, and touch it, and then run to the home plate, and touch it, and thus record a run for the Dodgers.

And that was the last run that would ever be scored, and so the Dodgers were victorious, and shouted in glad cheer, while the Mets gnashed their teeth. For his RBI, Martin is granted a share of the win, though it be unfair, for he only had one hit, where Hudson and Pierre had two hits each, and a run scored each, but they did not do what Martin did, that feat of impossibility: the RBI.

Of the Dodger pitchers, many were strong, and all together they preserved the feat of Martin, before and after. They were the guardians of Martin's RBI moment, the keepers of the tie, the warriors of the win. They would not allow the RBI. Brent Leach was like a hawk, gobbling up Mets batters Murphy and Tatis like mice, and he is granted a share of the win, though it be unfair, for he consumed two outs, where Broxton consumed three, and Troncoso consumed six, but only Leach was called to enter the game with runners on second and third. And Weaver is granted a share of the win, though it be unfair, for he did allow an RBI, but he also consumed fifteen outs, and so he is forgiven, and allowed to ascend.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Martin -- 1
Leach -- 1
Weaver -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Mets )

Murphy -- 1
Martinez -- 1
Putz -- 1

20 May 2009

Game 41 Unfair Win Shares

Casey Blake hit a huge three pointer late, and the Mets had a couple of three point tries of their own blocked by Belisario and Wade. Broxton's steal of the in-bounds pass in the waning moments of the game sealed the two point win.

I guess I'm still in basketball mode after last night's thrilling two point Laker victory in game one of the Western Conference Finals, or the WesConFin, as I like to call it, as if it was Wisconsin's messed up cousin. I wonder if the Nuggets just blew their best chance to steal a game on the road. I could see them folding after game 1, but I could also see them coming back even harder in game 2. Will the Lakers be ready?

Back to the Dodgers: Blake and Billingsley are the standouts from last night's game. Billingsley, in particular, I was impressed by, because he just wasn't impressive, not early on. This isn't something new, either. It's been a while since Billingsley has had his really great stuff. Every start this past month when I've watched him it seems like he's struggling, fighting it, walking too many hitters. He's walked at least 4 in every start in May. He walked 5 yesterday. And yet, every time Billingsley walks off that mound, he's worthy of an ovation. He always goes at least six innings. He never gives up more than 3 runs. He is an ace. If he is not an ace, there is no ace.

Billingsley has an on-base percentage of 0.400. That doesn't mean much, but it's a fun fact anyway. He was the main part of the Dodger offense last night, at least until Blake turned the game around. That double he hit in the fourth inning was amazing. When he hit it, I thought it was a single. A nice, solid, single. So I thought when he took my eyes off of it to follow the action in the Laker game. But then I looked back, and saw the ball had reached the wall, and Blake was coming around to score, and I realized he actually crushed that thing. That was amazing. If that ball was an NBA Player Billingsley would have been assessed a flagrant 2. That was quite a hit for a pitcher.

It's no surprise when Blake crushes one, especially if he gets a dog meat pitch. Dog meat as in meat for dogs to eat, not meat made out of a dog. Not that Blake is a dog, either. Aw, it's just an expression. That pitch was a nice juicy can of spam out over the plate. Probably Maine shouldn't have been in the game at that point. He had spam written all over him. He sure served it up. But Blake still had to hit it.

Some home runs are meaningless, solo-jacks in a game that is already decided, or even a grand slam in a game that is long since gone, such as the one Mota gave up last Sunday. Some home runs are important --- solid contributions to the effort, such as Blake's solo shot that started the scoring against Volstad last weekend and earned him his first unfair win share. And then there are a few home runs that are essential. They turn the game around. They show the true power and majesty of the home run. These are the home runs that give us hope when the game is nearly gone. These are the home runs that give us dread when the lead is small and the opposing slugger comes up with runners on. One swing and the game is changed. A rearrangement. The Mets had a chance at one in the seventh and eighth innings last night, and came up short. Casey Blake had his chance, and he hit the spicy ham out of it.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Billingsley -- 1
Blake -- 2

Unfair Loss Shares ( Mets )

Martinez -- 1
Maine -- 2

19 May 2009

12_4: Game 40 Unfair Win Shares

At the top level of baseball there are the exceptional plays. Diving catch, darting curve ball, stolen base, fast ball on the corner, drag bunt down the line, a leaping snare and throw across the diamond, a home run over the center field fence. A triple to the gap. The Dodgers know these plays, and many others like them. They often make them. That's how you win games at the highest level.

Running, catching, throwing. Touch them all as you go around the bases. Concentrate, set your feet, make an accurate throw. Catch the ball with two hands. This is the game at the basic level. In the major league we rarely think about these things. It's a calamity when a basic play goes wrong. It's worse than just losing. It's not even belonging in the game at all.

Ryan Church missed third base in the eleventh inning last night. The Mets could have taken the lead. They did take the lead. Church touched home plate and the Mets were ahead 3-2. Remember the time Ethier scored after the inning-ending double play line-out? That run was added later, after the fact. Where did it come from? It came from here. The Dodgers stole that run from last night's game. An appeal to third base would have prevented Ethier from scoring. A failure to appeal at third base would have allowed Church to score. There it is. Balance is restored.

The Dodgers won the game last night by pitching well and making the defensive plays they could make. If the Mets had scored 6 runs on Dodger pitching it's likely none of the errors and blunders would have mattered. An embarrassing blunder is not necessarily a game losing catastrophe, not unless the other team can make it one. The Dodgers were handed the game in the eleventh inning, but first they had to get there. They had to earn that tie through ten innings. Wolf and Broxton got them there, and they get the unfair win shares. Troncoso pitched well for awhile too, but in the end he failed, only to have his failure trumped by one even greater.

The Dodgers once had two men tagged out at the plate on the same throw against the Mets. That blunder is ultimately more memorable because it came in the playoffs. But what we saw in the eleventh last night was more primal, more immediate. When the Dodgers had those two runners out at the plate the game was not lost. They still could have won it, and almost did. The Mets still could have won after Church missed the bag. Baseball is not a morality play, or a cliched narrative. Just because you look horrible one moment doesn't mean you have to lose. Yet there is one exception: if you make your blunder in the bottom of an extra inning, with the score tied and a man on third, then yes, it really is the game, right there. Mets fans of a certain age will remember a time when their team benefited from such a blunder. The stakes were far lower last night, the audience far smaller, the game more disposable, and yet still, I think --- Reed's throw home after fielding Hudson's chopper sailed past the catcher and went right through Buckner's legs.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Wolf -- 2
Broxton -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Mets )

Church -- 2
Reed -- 1

18 May 2009

No-no-no-no-no-no-no-double-drat: Game 39 Unfair Win Shares

Here's my problem:

Castro 3 4 2 1 2 1
Pierre 5 2 3 3 1 1
Lorretta 5 2 3 3 1 1

There are three legitimate ( are surprising ) Dodger offensive heroes from yesterday, but at most 2 unfair win shares to distribute to them. Kershaw has to get one for his 7 inning effort, and maybe he even deserves two. That's not going to leave enough for the barons of the bench, Castro, Pierre, and Lorretta. But it's not easy to choose among the three --- especially when Pierre and Lorretta have the exact same box score lines!

I'd better work on the pitching first. I really liked Kershaw's game, but I don't know if I loved it. Strange, yeah? I mean, I loved the potential no-hitter he was brewing. I even got into the whole superstitious don't say "no-hitter" thing, which I usually think is silly, but somehow it felt right yesterday. Maybe it was pre-game nervousness over the Lakers' fate in game 7 against Houston that pushed me into exuberant irrationality. But the no-hit bid was fun, even though it didn't get past the beginning of the eighth. The no-hit bid even exiled the Laker game to the little TV while it lasted. Nothing else could have done that.

Kershaw was dominant for stretches yesterday, but there were also times when he seemed shaky. There were batted balls that could easily have been hits early on. He was wild, especially in the middle innings. It's those four walks that keep me from being too ecstatic for Kershaw's game yesterday. I just have a feeling that Kershaw's performance yesterday could have been a lot different if just a few things didn't go his way early on. That said, he did strike out nine, so maybe I'm being a little too harsh here.

Back to the offense --- I think Castro has to get an unfair win share for his early home run, and because he got on base more than anyone else on the Dodgers. But between Loretta and Pierre, I have no idea. So I'll make it about defense, instead, and give the last share to Pierre based on his great first inning catch to preserve the no-hit bid early on. So Kershaw gets only one unfair win share, which is unfair but that's the way it goes when the offense blows the game open early.

Mota gets a laugher share because it's officially a laugher when Mota pitches two innings and even gets an at bat and I don't mind a bit. Except he didn't actually pitch two innings because of that grand slam he gave up. The rule is you lose the laugher share if you give up a grand slam. Give back the Tommy Lasorda Bobble-belly, Mota. No laugher share for you!

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Kershaw -- 1
Pierre -- 1
Castro -- 1

Laugher Share ( Dodgers )

Mota -- 1 vacated

Unfair Loss Shares ( Marlins )

Koronka -- 3

Game 38 Unfair Loss Shares

For the first time in my life I saw Landshark Lager for sale somewhere yesterday. It was at World Market. This also explains why this unfair shares summary is a day late; I was out shopping when I should have been writing.

I guess economic times really are tough if an obscure beer label owned by Jimmy Buffett can afford to name a stadium, even a dump like Joe Robbie Dolphins Landshark Stadium. Actually the "s" in Landshark is supposed to be capitalized but I refuse to put big letters in the middle of words. The only exception I make is for SanDeE from LA Story.

If you don't remember what happened in the game two days ago ( Saturday ) then it's not surprising, as the game was not very memorable, just a regular old loss in the middle of a road trip. You know how every team has about 50 games they are going to win and 50 games they are going to lose for sure? This was one of the Dodgers' pre-ordained losses. That's what happens when you have a couple of retread pitchers featuring prominently. Milton lasted 4 innings, but he won't get a loss share because things didn't get out of hand while he was in. Weaver lasted one inning, and gave up a home run to someone named Baker, and he will be tagged.

The other reason you might not even remember that Saturday game is that it was caught in a temporal anomaly, being broadcast on an hour's tape delay because of Marlin concert Shenanigans. Even the Gamecast seemed to go wonky in the late innings. I'm guessing Furcal is somehow at fault for this, since he did everything else wrong on Saturday. Maybe he was on such a destructive roll, going 0-5 and committing a horrible error to blow open the game in the eighth that he just couldn't help himself and messed up the internet feed as well.

Unfair Loss Shares ( Dodgers )

Weaver -- 1
Furcal -- 2

Unfair Win Shares ( Marlins )

Baker -- 1
Uggla -- 1
Nunez -- 1

16 May 2009

One Game Above: Game 37 Unfair Win Shares

After last night's tense win over the Florida "Land" Marlins at Land Shark Stadium, the Dodgers are now 25-12, or 13 games above 500. But when a team is winning as much as the Dodgers, it's time move to a different frame of reference than 500. That 500 reference scale if for teams such as the Giants, who bravely march on at one game above 500. The Dodgers ( at least right now ) demand a higher scale, to better match their feats of glory and luck ( I'm looking at you, Pierre ).

The Dodgers are one game above the beast.

So, games above 500 are found by subtracting losses from wins; if the answer is negative, then you're below 500 of course. Games above the beast are found by subtracting twice the number of losses from number of wins. The Giants are 16 games below the beast. It must be said that the beast is truly a beast, for each loss will drop you two games down in this scale, while wins only gain you one spot back up ( natually, since break even is twice as many wins as losses ). This beastly reference frame is named after the number of the beast, which is 666, which is nearly what two thirds is, if you put a decimal point in front of it. Some may tell you that two thirds is even closer to 0.667, but 667 isn't anything interesting so I'm ignoring that.

Who allowed the Dodgers to edge a game above the beast last night? Blake was the first to act against Volstad, with a double in the third and then a home run in the sixth to help the Dodgers taste the heady run-scoring brew for the first time all night. Up until Blake's home run Volstad had prohibited the Dodgers even a taste of an intoxicating rally. Blake, as the cork puller, the bottle opener, if you will, gets his first unfair share of any kind this year.

In an alternate universe Pierre might be getting an unfair loss share for this game. If his sharp ground ball finds a fielder's glove during the seventh inning rally, then he ends the inning with a double play. That would have been two rallies he messed up, counting his silly caught stealing in the sixth inning. But instead his hard grounder found the hole, two runs came in, and he was the hero of the moment, giving the Dodgers the lead for the first time.

The last unfair win share will go to Broxton, who was shaky, but battled through it, and made the defensive plays he had to make, inspired Eric Collins to call him a "dancing bear", and sealed the win in the end.

Volstad gets an unfair loss share after the Dodgers repealed him with a three run sixth and a leadoff man in the seventh. Uggla and Amezaga were the late rally killers for the Marlins, and so they get the other two shares. Uggla was spared making the last out of the game only because he got himself kicked out earlier. Instead Gload took his place and flied out. I doubt Uggla, who is batting below 0.200, would have done any better.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Blake -- 1
Pierre -- 1
Broxton -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Marlins )

Volstad -- 1
Amezaga -- 1
Uggla -- 1

15 May 2009

The Dodgers vs. the Career-Year-Giants

The Dodgers are dominating the NL West standings right now. They are 10.5 games clear of the Snakes and Padres, 9.5 games clear of the Rockies. Only the Giants at 5 games back are even in the picture. I'm not saying that it's impossible for those bottom three teams to challenge in the race again, but they're going to have to show a really dramatic turn-around before it's worth even considering. They're just too far back, with too many problems. That leaves the Giants as the Dodgers' only competition.

But what kind of competition are the Giants? They're 18-16, but they've been outscored 136-148. The pitching is good, maybe even great, but the hitting, oh that hitting --- the Giants right now only wish they could follow the path of the 2003 Dodgers, who rode great pitching and a terrible offense to fringe contention. The Giants have been outhomered 18-33 this year, have been outwalked 96-138. Does this sound like a team that can compete with the Dodgers, even the Manny-less Dodgers?

So, what if one gives the Giants a good offense? Who says they have to keep hitting so poorly? The easiest solution would be for them to trade for Albert Pujols and Ryan Zimmerman, or have the Barry of 5 years ago, but since that's not going to happen, what if one just assumes that every Giants starting position player has a career hitting year from here to the end of the season? The Giants as they are right now can't compete with the Dodgers, but perhaps the Career-Year-Giants can!

So here they are, in no particular order: the Career-Year-Giants of 2009, listed with on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

Benji Molina -- 0.330 -- 0.570

There's no need to go to the record book to find what a Molina career year looks like --- he's having it right now! His slugging percentage of 0.569 is well higher than anything he's ever done before. His on-base percentage is right at his career average, even with only two walks on the year. The highest he's ever gone is 0.336, so I'll give him close to that. I don't know, maybe pitchers might start to pitch around him a little if he keeps on a 40 HR pace, but the truth is Benji just hates to walk.

Pablo Sandoval -- 0.360 -- 0.500

Sandoval is only 22 years old, so there isn't much to look back on. Last year he split time between high A, AA, and the big leagues, and held his own at each level. He's doing fine this year, though not as well as he did in limited big league time last year. I'll give him last year's major league numbers for his career year percentages, though I suppose this is one case when my estimate of best case stats could be too low.

Fred Lewis -- 0.400 -- 0.450

Lewis is 28, so he's not really a candidate to get a whole lot better, but neither does he have much of a big league history since 2008 was his only full year as a starter. He's having a career year this year in on-base percentage, so I'll give him that, and then take his slugging percentage from last year, add just a little bit, and call it good.

Emmanuel Burriss -- 0.360 -- 0.340

Rookie Sandoval may look like a catcher, but rookie Burriss hits like one. I guess he must have a hell of a glove because I just don't see it with him. He came up for a bit last year and didn't do much with the bat. Nothing has changed this year. There's nothing noteworthy about his minor league record except for the bizarre fact that he was skipped past AA. But I guess this is all the Giants have. Maybe they could try to reacquire Vizquel from the Rangers, who has a ~0.900 OPS in limited action this year.

Edgar Renteria -- 0.400 -- 0.480

This is an easy case. His career year came in 2003 with the Cardinals, and I'll just use his stats from that year.

Randy Winn -- 0.360 -- 0.500

Winn was amazing when he came over to the Giants at the end of 2005. Marlon Anderson out of nowhere amazing, I mean. He had an OPS over 1.000 for those two months after being traded from Seattle. Except for that magical stretch-run his OPS has always been below 0.800 since 2002. So what did Winn's magical stretch-run get the Giants in 2005? Well, it helped the Giants finish only 7 games back of the 82-win Padres. So, he falls a bit short of the Marlon Anderson experience there.

I'm not going to give Winn his numbers from those two months in 2005, but I will go with his full season stats from that year.

Aaron Rowand -- 0.380 -- 0.540

He had career years in 2004 and 2007, and I've combined them for maximum benefit. He is really struggling this year, so much that I wonder if I shouldn't lower his career year ceiling. But he's still only 31, so you never know.

It's Rowand, Winn, and Renteria who are really dragging down the Giant offense right now, along with the horrible offense they're getting from first base.

Travis Ishikawa / Jesus Guzman -- 0.340 -- 0.480

Two fringe prospects, one of whom is already failing at the big league level. Ishikawa is the starter at first for now, but he's really struggling, and there are rumors that Giants may call up Guzman at mid-season. Guzman doesn't look like a great prospect to me -- to old, too few walks, you know the drill. But maybe he can hit anyway. He's tearing it up at Fresno right now. So I'll give the Giants some decent career year numbers here. This is really the biggest leap of them all, because right now the Giants are getting nothing from Aurilia and Ishikawa.

So what would the Giants have if all their starting position players had career year numbers from this point forward? I kept the bench stats the same, except that some of Aurilia's future plate appearances went to the new and improved first baseman combo platter. Otherwise I preserved the current ratio of plate appearances each player is getting to come up with new team-wide stats, which are shown below along with real stats of the Giants and Dodgers so far in 2009.

-------------------------------- OBP -- SLG
2009 Real Giants ------------ 0.317 -- 0.363
2009 Career-Year-Giants ---- 0.345 -- 0.442
2009 Real Dodgers ----------- 0.374 -- 0.433

So the Career-Year-Giants still come up plenty short of the real Dodgers in on-base percentage, but they do pass LA in power. Overall the Career-Year-Giants still can't score as many runs as the Dodgers, but maybe if we also gave Randy Johnson a career year ( he currently has an ERA above 5 ) they might have enough to make up 5 games on the Dodgers.

Now, the Dodgers could still collapse due to injuries and slumps and suspension. Or they could stumble a bit, especially from that awesome team on-base percentage. Nothing is certain. But if the Dodgers keep playing they way they have for the first 36 games, or even reasonably close, they are certain for the NL West title. Even the Career-Year-Giants would fall just short of these Dodgers. As for the real Giants? The Giants if they keep playing like they have been? They're DOA. They're going to sink like they're wearing cement shoes and sleep with the Snakes.

Game 36 Unfair Win Shares

Every start Chad Billingsley has made this year has been a quality start, according to both the official definition of quality start and any other reasonable definition one might come up with. Chad's lowest game score of the year so far is 50. Every time out he gives the Dodgers a chance to win, and usually they do, with a record of 7-1 in his starts. Billingsley pitched slightly better than a resurgent Cole Hamels yesterday, and he picks up a well deserved unfair win share. It might even have been two, if things had turned out otherwise at the end of the game.

Another player who loses a share is Loney. He was all set to get one a second consecutive day, but then Broxton blew the save, and everything changed. What Loney's home run was didn't change --- it was still a deep home run off of a tough left-hander that broke a 1-1 tie --- still a terrific clutch home run. That would always have been true even if the Dodgers had gone on to lose 7-2 after that home run. But the story of the game changed. The place, and importance, of the home run in context of the game changed. Unfair win shares are all about doing the right thing in the right time, and then hoping someone doesn't screw it all up later.

What if Broxton had given up three runs in the ninth inning, causing the Dodgers to lose 4-3? Would he get two unfair loss shares? He probably should have, in that case. But this is where other games bleed in, where the 35 previous stories interfere, even though they shouldn't. The narrative of the season so far pushes me toward mercy: Broxton has been so good all year that he should be cut some slack, and maybe given only the one unfair loss share. Yet that kind of thinking is against the rules. It violates the laws and customs of unfair shares.

Broxton did not give up three runs, though. He got that last strike out to preserve the tie, and that moment was itself a kind of save. Not the kind of save we were looking for when the inning started, but the kind of save that we needed in that moment. Things change, contexts change, and you have to keep battling. Manny is suspended, and well, tough luck, but keep scoring runs, keep winning. The game is tied, so now strike out this guy and get it to the tenth where the great offense will win it. Kuroda is out, so bring in Stults and back him up with lots of bullpen arms. Keep fighting. Broxton does. He has what it takes.

Martin was the hero, on base four times ( really three since he threw one back by being picked off ) all day and driving in the go ahead run in the tenth. That's an unfair win share for him. But heroes can't do it all: you need insurance too. You need fire men and fire insurance. So if Martin was the hero, then Kemp was the insurance man. For a two run lead call Kemp. He insured the Dodgers against disaster in the ninth by setting up the third run with his triple. He insured me and most other fans and probably Joe Torre from even more stress in the bottom of the tenth when he doubled in the fifth run. It was bad enough to have Howard come up as the tying run in the bottom of the tenth, but as the potential winning run? No thanks.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Billingsley -- 1
Martin -- 1
Kemp -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Phillies )

Durbin -- 1
Werth -- 1
Victorino -- 1

14 May 2009

Game 35 Unfair Win Shares

The Dodgers have the best record in the Major Leagues again!

In the six games since Manny was suspended, the Dodgers have outscored their opposition by 7 runs, though their record is only 2-4. The four losses were all by 2 runs, while the wins were by 8 and 7 runs.

Randy Wolf's ERA is now 2.77. He's striking out nearly a batter an inning. His K to walk ratio is as good as it's been since his Ceasar salad days with the Phillies in 2001 and 2002. ( So maybe it won't last? ) But his fly ball to ground ball ratio is higher than it's ever been as well, so he figures to give up plenty of home runs in the games ahead. Better not walk anyone ahead of those homers.

James Loney hit his first home run of the season yesterday. I hope he can hit his next one before the All-Star break. Aww, I'm just kidding, sort of. It's just that it's hard to feel confident about Loney these days. Let's see, according to Hardball Times his line drive percentage is 13th in the NL among qualifying batters --- that's about as good as a positive for him that I can come up with. Maybe some hits will start to fall in. While Loney may be getting a little unlucky, he has nothing on Andy LaRoche, who is third in the NL with a 28.4 line drive percentage but has a batting average on balls in play BABIP that is actually lower, at 0.276. I've always heard that, roughly speaking, on average, BABIP = LD% + 0.12. So either Andy is really unlucky or his line drives are pretty lame.

Loney and Wolf are obvious for two of the unfair win shares. The front-runner for the last spot on the podium is Casey Blake, who drove in three runs and hit a homer. And I also really want to give him one just to get his unfair share record off of 0-0. But I can't. Blake's three runs driven in came after the Dodgers led 6-1. It's not that those aren't important runs, not with some of the shaky arms in the 'pen, but Hudson's contributions early were even more important. Hudson drove in the first run and scored the second run, then later got on base and scored the sixth run, all before Blake ever got involved. Sorry, Blake. You'll have to be content with a Laugher Share.

On the Phillies side, it is with great delight that I give Shane Victorino the non-Myers unfair loss share for his stink bomb 0-5 batting performance. Oh, maybe some of those outs were line outs, but in the box score they all look like failed bunts to the pitcher.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Loney -- 1
Wolf -- 1
Hudson -- 1

Laugher Share ( Dodgers )

Blake -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Phillies )

Moyer -- 2
Victorino -- 1

13 May 2009

Still Tied for Fewest Losses: Game 34 Unfair Loss Shares

I could spare myself some angst if I just told myself that the Dodgers hit into some bad luck last night. A lot of their outs were line outs. Straight-line outs, I mean, instead of curved-line outs, or jagged-line outs. Or would a ground out be more of a saw-tooth-line out?

I want to propose a list of facts that everyone can agree on:

1. Negative emotions can harm a player's concentration.
2. Lapses in concentration can lead to poor hitting.
3. Manny's suspension has caused negative emotions in the Dodger hitters.

Therefore ...

Okay, maybe not everyone would agree with the above three statements. I don't think 2 should be in question, though. And 3, while it could be exaggerated, is surely true. Same for 1. It's the connection between statement 1 and statement 3 where the argument falls apart, I guess. Are any of the Dodger hitters going to be experiencing negative emotions that harm their concentration while they are batting? There are examples of players excelling through much worse emotional pain than having some goofy superstar teammate suspended.

I should also remember that the Dodgers have actually had some good scoring games since the end of the Manny innocence. But it's hard to remember that when they let Chan Ho Park escape with 2 runs allowed in 6 innings. And no home runs. None! That's unbelievable. It must be Manny's fault. He would have taken Park deep. He would have protected Hudson and Ethier to the point where they also hit home runs. I find this argument so compelling, even though it's silly too. Except for the part about Manny taking Park deep --- that absolutely would have happened. No doubt.

I don't know who to blame for that game. I got hitless Furcal, and Kershaw the walker, but who else? I guess I can't give the last unfair loss share to Manny. Maybe I can give it to Eric Collins, the smooth announcer who roughed up my sensibilities with a terrible bar argument to defend his choice of Rollins over Hanley Ramirez as best shortstop in the NL East. "He has an MVP and a World Series ring," is the gist of what he said. But the MVP was two years ago ( and kind of questionable ) and the ring only proves that maybe Rollins has better teammates. What was most obnoxious is that he acted as if saying this made his argument unassailable. There has to be more, you know? Maybe he was joking? Maybe I misinterpreted?

I'm going to give the last Dodger unfair loss share to Martin. It's a tough one, because he did have a single hit, like many other Dodgers. But I can't give it to Pierre because he was hitting the ball hard all day, including the last out, which was kind of hard. Kemp, like Martin, made an out in the ninth inning, but Kemp also had another good day in the field. Martin didn't have a good day defensively, especially on the steal of home. ( I feel like pointing out, however, that every single time Werth stole a base in that seventh inning, it was followed by a walk that would have pushed him over anyway, though it should also be said that one walk was intentional and all of them may have gone differently if Werth hadn't stole. ) Yeah, now I feel better about giving Martin the last one.

On the other side, Pedro Feliz gets an unfair win share for walking four times. His four walks came on 20 pitches. He swung the bat only once, and missed. What a bum.

Unfair Loss Shares ( Dodgers )

Kershaw -- 1 (5-5)
Furcal -- 1 (4-4)
J. Martin -- 1 (2-3)

Unfair Win Shares ( Phillies )

Werth -- 1
Feliz -- 1
Park -- 1

11 May 2009

Bah! --- Game 33 Unfair Loss Shares

Who is the most important Manny in Dodger history? Manny Mota, who has been with the team in some capacity for the last 40 years, or Manny Ramirez?

There's no question about who the most important Mota in Dodger history is.

Unfair Loss Shares ( Dodgers )

Loney -- 1
Kemp -- 1
Mota -- 1

Pointy-Haired Loss Share

Torre -- 1

Unfair Win Shares ( Giants )

Winn -- 2
Howry -- 1

09 May 2009

Game 32 Unfair Win Shares

The only baseball game I saw today was a minor league game, between the Bakersfield Blaze and the Visalia Rawhide. The game featured a bizarre play in which it appeared the Blaze shortstop caught a line drive, only he trapped it, leading to two different run-downs, the result of which was two Rawhide runners standing on third base. The Blaze third baseman went to tag one of the runners, whereupon the umpire declared "safe!" The third baseman looked pretty mad at this call, and my wife is pretty sure the umpire at this point said, "tag the other guy". He did, and order was restored. I half expected him to try tagging the third base coach instead -- he was also right there, and wearing the road unform. But what would happen if that runner was never tagged? Surely the pitcher couldn't just make the next pitch with two runners on third, so why does the tag have to be made? It's all very strange.

Before the season the Dodgerama Superfluous-Computer simulated every game on the schedule and awarded unfair win shares to the best players in the simulations. For game 32 the Dodgers on the podium were supposed to be Manny, Furcal, and Kuroda, but it seems reality has developed a glitch and instead unlikely understudies Pierre, Castro, and Stults will take the unfair shares in reality.

I did hear the final outs of the game on the radio, and at the time I really thought that Kemp would get an unfair share, and Stults two. All I knew at that point ( with one out to go ) was that Stults had pitched beyond anything I could have expected and Kemp had been marvelous in the outfield. A guy has to get at least two shares for pitching a shutout, right?

Well, this is what makes blowout wins kind of hard to do unfair shares for. There are always plenty of players who excelled on one side, and plenty of players with terrible performances on the other side. Reading the play-by-play of the game it appears the Castro had the biggest hit of the game, the double that scored one and put him and Blake into scoring position. That hit was the key to that whole second inning. At least in the summary it seems that way. And Pierre was in the middle of both the first and second inning rallies, so he has to get one as well. Kemp is left begging, and Stults gets only one. That's probably the most unfair decision I've made so far this year.

I tagged Fred Lewis for the only non-Sanchez unfair loss share because he was 0-4 and from the post-game notes it seems like he had a rough day in the field.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Stults -- 1
Castro -- 1
Pierre -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Giants )

Sanchez -- 2
Lewis -- 1

Game 31 Unfair Loss Shares

Casey Blake enters the interview room.

Casey Blake. Blakebeard, if you will. You struck out with runners on first and second in the eighth inning, when you were the go ahead run. Why didn't you hit a home run?

I tried to walk instead. That guy had a good fastball. It was all I could do to foul them off.

Oh, so you were going to leave it to the next hitter? Make him catch up to that fastball?


So you tried to walk, and you failed even at that! You should get an unfair loss share right there.

It was a 12 pitch at bat, and the last pitch was really ball four, but the umpire called it a strike. Also I drove in the only Dodger run of the night.

Oh, is that it? You drive in one run and you think that's enough? I'll give you 3 unfair loss shares for that! Nah, I'm kidding. You're okay, Blake. You can go to the green room.

Blake leaves. Juan Pierre enters the interview room.

Little Juan Pierre. Juan-for-five, if you will.

Actually I was 1 for 2 with a walk and a hit by ---

Silence! I know what your stats were! The nickname stands!

Don't hate me because I don't fit your vision of what a good player should be. I play my game and play it well.

Sometimes I think you'll play your game to the detriment of the team. Why would you try to steal third with Ethier at the plate? Don't you know Molina is back there?

I'm faster than a speeding Molina throw.

No, you're not. You were out.

I was safe. You should give me the nickname "he hate me", because it's clear all the umpires hate me.

I saw the replay; you were out. And aside from that, why do you keep trying to steal bases when Furcal is up next? He's not likely to hit into a double play.

He hit into two, and would have hit into a third if I wasn't going when he hit it!

That -- that was an outlier, just like your high on base percentage so far this season! Urgh, very well. You may go to the yellow room.

Pierre leaves. Furcal enters the interview room.

Rafael Furcal. Furbolg, if you will. You hit into two double plays, and nearly into a third. What do you have to say for yourself?

If Juan had done what he usually does he wouldn't have been on base and I wouldn't have hit into all those double plays. It's his fault.

Begone! Straight to the orange room with you!

No, not the orange room! I had a double.

You also had a strikeout with runners on, in addition to all of your horrible double plays. The sharemaster has spoken. You must enter the orange room. In fact, you must enter it twice.

Furcal leaves twice. Billingsley enters the interview room.

Chad Billingsley. Benjamins, if you will.

No, I won't. Benjamins? What kind of stupid nickname is that?

See, because Billingsley leads to Bills leads to hundred dollar bills, which are benjamins, and also because you're so money.

That's dumb.

Not as dumb as Torre leaving you in to hit and then having you pitch the seventh when you were clearly gassed. You can head to the green room, with a warning not to walk so many in the future, but on your way tell Torre he's getting a pointy-haired loss share.

Billingsley leaves. Ethier enters the interview room.

Andre Ethier. Andre the Dodger, if you will. Anybody want a peanut? Ha ha. Okay, now seriously, you popped up to the catcher with the bases loaded in the fifth inning and two outs. That was the game right there! What do you have to say for yourself?

It shouldn't have been me coming up, it should have been Ma--

Don't you dare say the M-word! You are immediately banished to the orange room!

Andre leaves. The session is closed.

Unfair Loss Shares ( Dodgers )

Furcal -- 2 (4-3)
Ethier -- 1 (5-5)

Pointy-Haired Loss Shares ( Dodgers )

Torre -- 1

Unfair Win Shares ( Giants )

Zito -- 1
Wilson -- 1
Renteria -- 1

08 May 2009

Many Emotions

This Manny thing is all about emotion.

It's not anger, not for me. It's sadness, weariness. Wariness as well. I'm going into Dodger games now with my guard up, with a sense of dread. It'll be worse when they go on the road. I don't even want to think about what it will be like when he comes back, when the fans are really unleashed. San Francisco, San Diego. Even LA. When he comes back he'll be a storm at the heart of the team, wherever they go. I'm not sure I want him to come back. But when I say that, I don't really know. It's not coming from a place of outrage, a righteous feeling that justice must be done, that the game must be cleansed. It's more like lingering sadness. Almost grief, but no, that's really too strong a word. I don't know what to call it.

I wish, right at this moment, that the Dodgers had not signed Manny this offseason. That wish may be wrong. It's a hasty thing, based only in the feelings of the moment, the echoing shock of the suspension. But I don't want to deal with it. I want to follow a normal team, one that just goes out and wins or loses. I don't want the headline to be about something other than the score. I don't want morality or controversy to be a part of it. These things ruin the escape of baseball.

It helps to have Vinny announcing the games. His is the steady voice, the anchoring perspective. I missed Vinny's introduction to yesterday's game, but Jon Weisman had it on Dodger Thoughts. ( I knew he would --- I've been reading that blog long enough to know something like that would show up. ) Here's what Vinny said. I like that. No one man stops baseball. It's true. Far worse things than the Manny mess have already happened this season, and baseball still continues.

A lot of people are up on their high dragons, breathing fire. It's scorched earth, scorched newsprint, scorched websites. Manny must go. Zero tolerance. Manny must be suspended forever. Manny trashed baseball. I have no use for these kinds of proclamations. Which is maybe a weird thing to say, after I said that I wish he hadn't signed with the Dodgers, after I said that I don't know if I want him to come back. But I don't let my emotion harden into outrage which overrides perspective and reason. I know I'm being irrational when I say that I just want Manny to go away. It's a childish wish.

He's coming back. Manny is coming back. He's going to serve that suspension, and forfeit that salary, and then he'll be back. And he's going to hit the hell out of the ball, too, when he comes back. He'll still be a Dodger, and he will help the Dodgers win, and I'm not going to refuse to cheer for him. It won't be the same, it will never be the same, but I'm not going to boo, or go mute. Wouldn't Furcal and his DUIs have to be the first to get the silent treatment, before Manny? We don't cheer for character, we cheer for excellence. Not that character is completely irrelevant, but it's not the driving force. We cheer for wins.

Game 30 Unfair Loss Shares

There is an episode of Futurama where the evil industrialist "Mom" uses a remote control device to cause all of the robots of the earth ( which were built by Mom's Friendly Robot Company ) to rebel and overthrow humanity. I feel like something similar happened last night to the Dodger relievers. Some evil genius had a remote control device that controls the Dodger relievers, and he or she set it to "suck". I am tempted to now ask rhetorically, "How else can you explain all of the Dodger relievers kerploding at once?", but I am sure anyone reading this can think of many other, saner ways to explain it, so I will just say that they must have gotten to you. Don't be a sheeple! ( Or is that a Sheople? ) Consider too that Nats reliever Joe Beimel also had a meltdown on the mound, and the reason for this is clear: his Dodgerness hasn't yet been fully deprogrammed. He was caught up in the "suck" command as well, and for awhile it looked like the nefarious plan of the Dodger-hating evil genius with remote control would fail, but then little Juan Pierre came up to the plate, and then ... well, you know.

The unfair loss shares have to go to the relievers, even if it seems there were outside forces sabotaging them. If I was really mean, and really harsh, I would give an unfair loss share to Casey Blake. So what if he had a triple, double and single? He popped up when it most counted! You should have hit for the cycle, dude. But if I did this I would have to call these things Phillies-fan loss shares, and I'm not willing to go down that road yet.

Troncoso gets the first unfair loss share, and don't want to be too hard on him, because he's been so good most of the time this year. I still trust the Troncuilizer. ( He's been troncuilizing opposing batters all year! ) But you give up three runs out of the 'pen and you have to pay. Ohman followed Troncoso, and he wasn't effective either, and actually deserves some of the blame for Troncoso's runs, but there are too many other bad relievers for him to get a piece of the action. I just don't trust Ohman --- he does have some genuinely good outings, clutch outings, even, but there are a few too many bad ones mixed in, and he's already given up 3 home runs in limited action --- I don't like it. I fear worse is coming from him. I still think he probably won't last the season with the Dodgers.

Wade gets the second unfair loss share. He's probably not going to be as effective as he was last year. That's what the stats people have been saying, and I think they're right. But I think he'll still be a decent reliever most of the time. Leach gets the last unfair loss share. The damage that was done while he was in made the Dodger comeback much harder. I don't know what to think of him, but he'll probably be sent back to AA or AAA soon enough anyway. With Manny unavailable the Dodgers probably can't rely on just 12 position players for too much longer.

Unfair Loss Shares ( Dodgers )

Troncoso -- 1 ( 3-1 )
Wade -- 1 ( 1-2 )
Leach -- 1 ( 0-1 )

Unfair Win Shares ( Nats )

Johnson -- 1
Dunn -- 1
Hernandez -- 1

07 May 2009

Manny Tests Positive

He'll be suspended for 50 games.

I don't know what to say.

Rollin' with wins: Game 29 Unfair Win Shares

If the Dodgers had Jimmy Rollins, that post title would be perfect. But Rollins isn't on the Dodgers, and good thing too, at least in the early going, because though Furcal has struggled he's still outhitting Rollins by a good margin. No, the post title simply reflects the reality that the Dodgers are indeed rolling, or "rollin'", if you will, and that said rolling is accompanied by many wins.

Speaking of Furcal, he will get one of the unfair win shares. He scored the first two runs, then drove in the first of seven in the sixth when the laugher win sort of just snuck up on the Dodgers. The Dodgers had been merrily stranding runners and walking batters and running up the pitch count and making heavy weather of what should have been an easy win, and then suddenly it all fell into place and they led 9-1.

Hudson drove in the second run of that laugher inning with a bases loaded walk. I guess he was practicing for the next time the Dodgers need a bases-on-balls-off win. He earns yet another unfair win share for that and his other three times on base, including two RBOs ( runner batted over who would go on to score ) in the first and fifth innings.

Both Martin and Manny are contenders for the last spot on the podium. Manny it was who really blew the game open in the sixth with his splendid opposite field double down the line. If unfair win shares were based on artistry he'd get one for that hit, but then he'd lose it again for that ugly thing he hit in the fifth, the whatever it was --- well, how about I let ESPN's play by play tell the story:

M Ramirez grounded into fielder's choice to second, C Kershaw out at home, R Furcal to third, O Hudson to second.

Wait, what? No, that's completely wrong. I mean, I guess it's technically correct, which may be the best kind of correct, but it doesn't come close to describing what really happened. Since when is a pop fly hit behind the first base bag a grounder? When it hits the ground, answers the wise ass. Ok, whatever.

Martin did well, and I'm happy to see it, but these are unfair win shares, and since he didn't really figure in any of the scoring until after the game was decided, he's left down on the floor with the rest of the share-less Dodgers.

The last unfair win share goes to Clayton Kershaw. I don't really like giving them to starting pitchers who only go five innings, and yet this is the second in a row. But there is value in going five strong innings. It's better than going seven crappy innings, you know? Especially since the pitching staff is up to 13 men now. It helps if I think of Kershaw as a long man out of the pen, because I would have no trouble at all giving a reliever a share for five inning of one run work in a close ballgame. Heck, he'd probably get two. Kershaw kept the Dodgers in the game, kept them from ever trailing, actually, until the offense could go to work. I think that's good enough for me.

The unfair loss shares go the three stooges who pitched for the Nats in the sixth inning. That was easy. Harder to figure is the laugher share. By the time the Dodgers were running up the score more than half my attention was on the Lakers and Lost, so it's going to go to someone from one of those teams. Kobe is too much of a punk to get it, so I'm going to give it to Locke for being such a enigmatic badass.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Furcal -- 1 ( 4-1 )
Hudson -- 1 ( 9-1 )
Kershaw -- 1 ( 5-4 )

Laugher Share ( Lost )

Locke -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Nats )

Cabrera -- 1
Hinckley -- 1
Kensing -- 1

Note -- Dodgers season long unfair share records are now in the sidebar, loosely ordered by player type. Also, current unfair record is listed in parentheses after each share awarded now.

06 May 2009

The Princes of the National League: Game 28 Unfair Win Shares

Max Scherzer loses again. He's got to be feeling Dodgerbit. He went six full innings, and knocked a hit and scored an run in an effort to help his own cause, but it wasn't enough. The Snakes just aren't good enough right now.

If the Snakes are ever going to challenge the Dodgers this season they will have to do a lot better offensively. Take Justin Upton, for example. He's turned things around after a horrible first few weeks, and now has an on base percentage of 0.356. That's fine, especially for a super-talented young player who just figures to get better. What's not fine is that it's the third best OPS on the team among players with at least 50 PA. 494 of the Snakes 994 plate appearances ( nearly half ) have gone to players with an OBP of less than 0.300. There are automatic outs up and down the Snake lineup.

You could say that the Snakes miss Orlando Hudson, and I'm sure they do, but second base is one spot where they haven't seen much of a drop-off. The new second baseman Felipe Lopez has been the Snakes' best position player, with Upton a close runner-up. The Snakes miss the production they used to get from their current players, and in some cases the production they thought they would get from their current players. Chad Tracy isn't anything like the hitter he was in 2005. Connor Jackson is having an even worse start to the season than Russell Martin. These guys combined to go 0-8 and leave 9 runners left on base. They get two of the unfair loss shares. Shortstop Wilson gets the other one mostly for his run-allowing error in the first inning.

The past few years I've often been a skeptic when it comes to the Snakes offense and how good it could really be, but I don't think they are this bad. Still, the gap between the Dodgers and Snakes offense is so wide, and the difference in the standings so steep that it's hard to imagine the Snakes overcoming the Dodgers this season. But, you know. It's baseball. The sport that brought us the Braves of 1914, and the Miracle Mets, and 1988, and the Rays of last year, so who knows? Maybe I should imagine harder.



Back to the Dodgers. What can be said? There they are, born to be kings, the princes of the National League.

Another day I might have visited the unfairness of Weaver getting an unfair win share for yesterday's five inning start and Stults getting nothing for his five and change inning start in game 27. Or asked why Broxton and Belisario should put an unfair loss share on the line ( if they had pitched poorly ) but have no real chance at an unfair win share because they pitched only one inning each. Or considered Hudson's 1-4 day at the bat and 2-3 day with the leather, and pondered if the good of that really outweighed the bad. Or wondered if Ethier was really worthy of an unfair win share after his really shaky defensive first inning. But not today.

Who wants to think about such minutae when the Dodgers are 20-8. I'd give the whole team unfair win shares if it was allowed.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Hudson -- 1
Weaver -- 1
Ethier -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Snakes )

Wilson -- 1
Tracy -- 1
Jackson -- 1

05 May 2009

Rolling Down the Imperial Highway Toward Game 28

I was asked to explain why Byrnes got an unfair loss share for last night's game. Well, it's because he's a red-headed punk. He's a big, nasty, red-headed punk. Say, perhaps he's the big nasty red-head at our side as we roll down the Imperial Highway! No, I think that's supposed to be a woman. And yet there's nothing in the song that says it has to be a woman, is there? Now I'm confused. ( Edit: I just realized the red-head is probably the "girl" referenced in the first ( rarely heard ) verse, so I guess it is made explicit in the song. )

The reality is batting unfair loss shares are often especially cruel and unfair. There was no obvious situation last night where a Snake batter failed to come through, no moment where the game was blown by some batter afflicted with lumber slumber. It felt like a Dodger blowout for most of the night even if the score was never that lopsided, so it's hard to point to any one guy and say he's why the Snake offense failed. I could give all the loss shares to the Snake pitchers, but 2 was enough for them. They weren't that bad. I looked at Chris Young, who had a typically awful Chris Young night full of strikeouts and wasted potential, and in the first draft he was it. But then I turned to Byrnes after I realized he had left three men on base, including a groundout in the top of the sixth when the Snakes had their last real look at the game. It's possible that I just switched to Byrnesey because I'm biased against him or something, but I can honestly say I'm equally biased against both Byrnes and Young. You can throw in Reynolds and Drew in there too.

I like the Dodgers' chances tonight, if only because Snake pitcher Max Scherzer doesn't last long into games. He's averaging about 5 innings a start this year, after averaging the same last year. He's like an Eric Stults who doesn't share a confusingly similar name with an obscure actor. Scherzer is right up there in Kershaw-land with 4.4 pitches per plate appearance. You really need to be at 4.0 or below to pitch deep into games. Billingsley is at 4.0. Johan Santana is at 3.9. League average is about 3.85. Even Stults is just a little above 4.0, but he has other problems. Kershaw and McDonald ( 4.35 ) are the Dodgers most in need of lowering their pitches per batter ratios.

I wonder how a pitcher goes about lowering his pitches per plate appearance? You could pitch to contact, but what does that mean, other than serving up balls down the middle of the plate to be deposited in the outfield seats? "Yeah, boy that was some good contact I pitched into!" No, no. I guess you lower your pitches per plate appearance by having better command, throwing fewer balls, hitting the corners more often. You know, just by being a better pitcher.

Anyway, Scherzer is pretty good but he doesn't go deep into games, and his career record is 0-6, so the Dodgers better win and not let him get his first career win. That would suck.

I love LA: Game 27 Unfair Win Shares

Hate New York City
It's cold and it's damp
And all the people dressed like monkeys
Let's leave Chicago to the Eskimos
That town's a little bit too rugged
For you and me you bad girl

That is the never heard first verse of "I love LA" by Randy Newman. Never heard at Dodger Stadium, anyway. They really ought to play that first verse whenever the Dodgers beat the Mets or Cubs. And Newman should be approached to write a dismissive verse for every other NL city as well. What could he say bad about San Diego, though? Other than it being full of Padre fans I can't think of anything wrong with San Diego.

Does Newman get a royalty payment for each play of this song at Dodger Stadium, or is it a flat fee for the entire season? I'd like to think that he gets paid by play, so that the more the Dodgers win the more they owe him. Maybe someone in accounting is starting to fret because the team is going way over on the "Newman Royalty Budget". The Dodgers weren't supposed to win every game, he's thinking desperately. The budget will be destroyed if they go 81-0!

The main culprit in the Dodgers' budget busting start has been the outfield, who gobble up all the unfair win shares for last night's game. That head accountant guy is probably putting horns and little evil goatees on their pictures right now. Even Pierre! Heck, Pierre should actually grow a goatee. ( If he can. ) It would make him look tougher. He'd probably draw more walks. A pitcher would take one look at him and think, "Uh oh, I'd better not throw strikes to him. He has a home run goatee." Hey, it worked for Jayson Werth. He's a badass power hitter with his goatee thing. Without it he's just some smooth-faced strikeout dude.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Manny -- 1
Ethier -- 1
Kemp -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Snakes )

Davis -- 1
Rauch -- 1
Byrnes -- 1

edit: hey, I skipped ahead a few games. I had yesterday as game 29 instead of game 27. Fixed.

04 May 2009

Game 26 Unfair Win Shares

The bottom of the first

That was when Gaudin lost the game before he was even in the game. Eight pitches, none of them taken for a ball. Eight pitches, two strikes looking, two foul offs, and four base hits. If you're wild out of the strike zone, your defeat will be slow and agonizing. You'll have time to ponder your fate and hope for reprieve as you slowly fill the bases on walks. If you're wild out over the middle of the plate, you fate is already upon you. "They ambushed me," said Guadin after the game. Perhaps. But maybe you also weren't ready.

The top of the sixth

That was when the Padres had their look at the game. Billingsley was wild: he had walked two and thrown a wild pitch. His two outs in the inning had come on three ball counts. He had thrown only 10 strikes in the 24 pitches in the inning. The bases were loaded. This was the moment when the Padres could strike.

Instead, three pitches later, Nick Hundley had struck out and the Padres were left grasping at nothing. From the Dodgers perspective, that's just Billingsley being clutch. But from the Padres perspective, what is it? I don't know.

The bottom of the sixth

We see it so often. A pitcher is hit early, then settles down, then is hit late again and knocked out of the game. By the end of it his numbers look pretty bad, but for those middle innings he was actually pitching well. What does Gaudin take from this game? That he mostly pitched well, but was beat by a good offensive team? But look at the guys who got hits off of him in the sixth inning rally, and he can't really think that. Maybe he shouldn't think about the game at all.

Bud Black is spared his third pointy-haired loss share, since he didn't really have a chance to muck things up, but he's still going to come in for some more needling for his strange bullpen usage. Here is a section from an article on Padres.com about Bell not being used recently:

Bell was up and throwing in the bullpen in both games but didn't appear in either. On Friday, it was Duaner Sanchez who walked in the winning run. Then Saturday, it was rookie Luke Gregerson who allowed the game-winning hit in the 10th inning.

"There are times when you can bring him in," Black said. "There's a time when you bring a guy in based on the freshness of the other members of the bullpen. It can be a dangerous situation if you do it all the time. On the road, you still need to get the last three outs of the game."

But if you rely on Luke Gregerson in a tie game you don't have to worry about those last three outs at all, right Bud?

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Billingsley -- 1
Pierre -- 1
Hudson -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Padres )

Gaudin -- 2
Hundley -- 1

03 May 2009

Game 25 Unfair Win Shares

Bud Black once again left his best reliever in the pen while a lesser pitcher lost the game for him. But Bell will be fresh and ready to go for the save today after Gaudin outpitches Billingsley.

Troncoso was the pitching hero, and the only Dodger pitcher to make the unfair win shares podium. Wolf was good but not for long enough, and the mess he left tells against him ( though he nearly snuck onto the podium thanks to his set-up of the first Dodger run ). Wade was good, but life's unfair sometimes, and Mota was lucky.

The Dodger offensive heroes are somewhat obvious. The Padre goats are also obvious, especially Kouzmanoff.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Troncoso -- 1
Ethier -- 1
Furcal -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Padres )

Gregerson -- 1
Kouzmanoff -- 1
Hairston -- 1

Pointy-Haired Loss Share ( Padres )

Bud Black -- 1

02 May 2009

Game 24 Unfair Win Shares

How did Jake Peavy outpitch Clayton Kershaw? Let me list the ways.

Peavy threw 69% of his pitches for strikes; Kershaw only got 61% of his pitches over the plate.

Peavy went 8 innings; Kershaw went 7.

Peavy allowed 3 baserunners; Kershaw allowed 6.

Peavy struck out 8; Kershaw 3.

Peavy faced a lineup that has an OPS on the season of 0.808 and allowed no runs; Kershaw faced a lineup with 0.740 OPS and allowed ... no runs.

So yeah, Peavy was by a fair margin the better pitcher yesterday. I think I'd even say that if Manny had managed to pop a solo shot out of the park at some point. But Kershaw was good enough to keep the Dodgers even. And Peavy wasn't strong enough, or efficient enough, or something enough to go nine innings, and so the game was lost once he was out of the way. I'm not saying Peavy bears any blame for "only" going 8 innings, or that Bud Black did anything wrong when he pulled Peavy after 115 pitches. I think Bud Black did something wrong in bringing in Duaner Sanchez instead of Heath Bell. The game is on the line, Bud. If the Dodgers score it's over, so why not go to your best reliever who has had two full days of rest? That's a Pointy-Haired loss share for you, Bud. I'm happy to award it. I just hope I don't have to award one of these to Torre for the exact same offense later in the season. I fear I will.

Kershaw still needs to have better control. That's what got him into trouble in Houston and Colorado and it's what nearly got him into trouble in the fourth inning last night. That said it was really really REALLY reassuring to see him come back with a good outing. Even a great outing, judging just by the results. I just hope he doesn't turn into an early career Ervin Santana pitcher: great at home, lousy on the road. I suppose I should see what he does in a non-hitters road park first, I guess, before panicking.

Kershaw will get two of the unfair win shares, since there's just about no one else to give them to. Poor Peavy gets none, because his team lost. Allow me to chuckle gleefully at this for a moment. ( I really don't like Peavy. Every time he pitches against the Dodgers I'm rooting for Mariano Duncan to run onto the field and tackle him or something. ) So who gets the last spot on the podium next to Kershaw and his clone? I'm going with Ohman's clutch eighth inning mop up of Belisario's mess. Martin's walk was good but it comes up just short.

Before I go, I have to wonder if that game was the dullest walk-off win game ever. I'm NOT saying that game was dull, as games go. I like pitching duels, and just because no one is scoring doesn't mean nothing is happening. But when the only run of the game comes on a bases loaded walk --- you have to wonder. But there is also this: There was about an inch of checked swing between the win and extra innings. That call of "no swing" was about as exciting as a walk will ever get, I guess.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Kershaw -- 2
Ohman -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Padres )

Sanchez -- 1
Headley -- 1
Eckstein -- 1

( Headley had one hit but he also had a terrible game, with a double play and multiple runners stranded in scoring position. )

Pointy-Haired Loss Share

Black -- 1

01 May 2009

Party Like It's Twenty Zero Five: Game 23 Unfair Win Shares


The Dodgers start out 15-8, and Jeff Weaver is pitching for them --- it's like 2005 all over again! Fabulous! I can't wait for all the injuries, and for the Ja(y)sons to show up and infiltrate the lineup.

Actually, I wouldn't mind it if Jayson Werth came back. No wait, I take that back. We don't need Jayson Werth --- he couldn't crack this lineup of all +0.975 OPS sluggers. Werth is even being outhit by little Juan Pierre this year, though, you know. I mean, you know. But I won't say it out loud, and let Pierre have his moment in the sun. He's been a good fourth outfielder this year.

I'm really resisting giving Weaver an unfair win share. I know who he is, okay? But it's hard to ignore four scoreless relief innings that stabilized the game, especially when there are four strikeouts involved, because that would seem to indicate that it wasn't all luck. But it sure seemed like a lot of it was luck. He needed some fine plays behind him to keep his run column clean.

The problem for Weaver is there are so many offensive heroes who are clamoring for a spot on the podium. Kemp is the only one whose place is assured because he brought the defense as well as the offense yesterday, though the way he heedlessly charges around out there he's this close to becoming the next Repko. He almost turned Hudson into the next Furcal. Still, it's so much fun to watch Kemp play the outfield. It's also a little bit scary. He's like selfish-Kobe out there, so talented, so driven, and so untrusting of his teammates to catch the ball.

I guess I just can't deny Weaver. Then it becomes a battle between Hudson and Manny, and Manny wins because his home run went farther and he was involved in more rallies than Hudson. Kind of.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Kemp -- 1
Manny -- 1
Weaver -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Padres )

Hundley -- 1
Gregerson -- 1
Mujica -- 1