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Nice game for Wang and Melky. As I was watching, I thought the impact of Melky's at-bats were magnified by the fact that Halladay was getting so many Yankees out on the first or second pitch of the at-bat. I think he had an inning where he retired the Yankees on 4 pitches, an inning where he retired them in 5 pitches, and an inning where he retired them in 6 pitches. Halladay was cruising, so a 10-pitch at-bat from Melky was just what the Yankees needed.

By the way, did you see what Halladay yelled after Melky's home run? He yelled "Fucking ballpark!" haha. Thank God for the short porch in right

Halladay might be the biggest sour puss in the game. It was hilarious watching him piss and moan out there. He did the same thing when they didn't turn the double play behind him. Too bad man, don't give a lefty something he can yank on the inside of the plate in Yankee stadium.

Oh, one more thing that I found interesting about last night's game...

I'm reading a book of sabermetric studies called "The Book", and the wrtiers of the book looked at the results of at-bats when a runner attempts a steal. The authors found that a hitter's performance is drastically worse in at-bats where a runner attempts a SB, as compared to when the runner holds at first.

When you think about it, it kinda makes sense...after all, how many times do you see a batter take a weak cut at a ball on a SB attempt, just to "protect" the base-runner? It seems to happen quite often. So, not only do you get a lot of weak grounders and soft pop-ups on SB attempts, even if the batter misses he usually either strikes out or is left facing a pitcher's count for the rest of the at-bat.

Basically, the hitter becomes just as "distracted" by the SB attempt as the defense.

What reminded me of this was Vernon Wells' at-bat in the 8th inning. With 2 strikes, Alex Rios took off for second, and Wells took a pitch that was clearly out of the strike zone high. The ump called it strike 3, and as Paul O'Neill noted, the ump's view may have been blocked by Posada as he stood up to make the throw to second.

Who knows...maybe if Rios stays on first, Wells' at-bat continues and the Jays put a rally together. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe he ends up striking out anyway. Either way, I thought it was pretty interesting to see an example of a batter being adversely affected by a SB attempt during his at-bat

That pitch was definitely a ball, and it's funny that you mention that stat because I think that's maybe the first time I've ever seen a call affected positively for a pitcher in that situation. Usually when the ump gets blocked he favors the batter.

I'd like to read that book, but my first guess is that the stat is misleading. If you think about the circumstances surrounding steals, there is a lot going against the hitter in the first place.

A lot of steals come with two strike counts, or at least pitcher's counts, because guys are looking for an off speed pitch to run on. Like you said above, some steals are botched hit-and-runs, meaning a weak hack at a bad pitch and a disadvantage in the at bat.

Another case where the average drops but it's not necessarily a bad thing I saw happen twice the other night in the Twins game. Two times Carlos Gomez led off with a single and stole second base very early in the count. Both times Joe Mauer then pulled a grounder to the right side to move him over to third. Two productive outs (one of which wound up in a run for his team), but two failed at bats according to sabermatricians (is that a word?)

Personally, if you're going to steal, I like to do it early in the count because it gives the guy at the plate a chance to do something with you if you get into scoring position. Especially in that situation where you've got Wells and Thomas coming up. If he's going to steal, it has to be earlier.

Brian, just wanted to say that it's nice to have you discussing baseball again. I know you're firmly entrenched in the playoff race for the Sixers, but definitely good to read your analysis of the game last night. Baseball's back!

Thanks Cam. It's going to be some serious double duty blogging for the next month or so but I'm pumped for the start of the baseball season.

My wife's level of excitement over the number of games I'm going to be watching is a different matter altogether.

Ugh, I went to college with 10 million Ballmer fans. Is she from Northern Virginia?

I agree with you there...stealing early in the count makes more sense with Wells and Thomas coming up. And, I also agree that the context of the average SB attempt (botched hit-and-run, two-strike count, etc.) affects the results.

Also, one other thing I forgot to mention is that the study then broke the hitters down into three categories according to age: young (less than 25 years old), old (35+ years old), and everybody else.

The bulk of the negative effect from stolen bases came from the "young" group, and the "old" group was more affected by it than the middle group. The middle group (players aged 26-34) had a minimal effect. The fact that the young, inexperienced players tended to struggle suggests that there is a certain distraction factor involved, which eventually withers away as the player gets more experience. Perhaps the old group struggles more because as their reflexes become slower with age, they have enough trouble catching up to a 95-mph fastball as it is, without the added distraction of a runner taking off for second.

Also, the positive effect of a successful SB far outweighs whatever negative effect the SB attempt may have on the hitter, especially if the attempt comes early in the count, when the hitter has more pitches to dig himself out of a pitcher's count, and/or early in the inning, when the next couple of hitters have a chance to knock the guy on second in. Thus, if there is a "distraction effect" to the hitter, it's probably not big enough to prevent a team from attempting a stolen base, especially with a player in his late-20's/early 30's at the plate.

Personally, I love the stolen base attempt with 2 outs and an 0-2 count on the hitter. If you get thrown out, so what? The odds were against your team scoring a run anyway, and the hitter gets to start his AB again next inning with a 0-0 count. And if you're successful, all you need is a single to knock you in, which is much more likely than a double/homerun with an 0-2 count on the hitter.

Damn, I'm happy baseball season started, haha. I feel like I can discuss strategy all day...

Completely agree on the 0-2 count with 2 outs, especially when you're in the top/middle of the order.

It feels like a long time since I've talked about tangible on-the-field baseball strategy. I've sure missed it.

Haha, I'm having the same problem with my fiancee. She knows how much I love baseball and how much I couldn't wait for the season to start. She's definitely dreading it now. Plus, she's a Baltimore fan so baseball season tends to be slightly depressing for her!

very positive side note i noticed, im sure you did too, was girardi's two decisions

one where he moved arod in , and one where he moved giambi in. both were timely as hell and prevented possible hits. Just good to see the little things getting done

Definitely. I didn't have a problem with any move he made last night. I was also 100% shocked the runner didn't go on that ground ball to Giambi. If I'm an opposing coach, I make Giambi throw the ball at every opportunity.

Nope, she's from Baltimore. She and her father hate the Yanks, but they also hate Boston, so that's OK with me. As far as I'm concerned, I could care less about the O's. Except for Markakis and Guthrie, cause I have them on my fantasy team. I love how you spelled Ballmer. That's exactly how they say it too.

Sorry for not replying to the specific post by the way. I thought I was clicking the correct Reply link so I'm not sure why that's happening.

Don't worry about it. Markakis better put up huge numbers this season, I'm counting on him for my fantasy team.

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