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Baseball Statistics Pornography
March 27, 2009 8:48 AM   Subscribe

Mariano's Gonna Cut You, and other stat-and-graph filled baseball analysis from Beyond the Boxscore.

via the excellent Yankees blog at LoHud. 10 days to opening day! * Unless you are a Braves/Phillies fan.
posted by Mach5 (12 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
As a die-hard but (I hope) not particularly annoying Red Sox fan, there have always been Yankees that, although I “hate” them, I don’t actually begrudge one iota and, rather, admire the hell out of. Bernie Williams was one, Jeter is another, but towering above them is Mariano Rivera.

As many others have said many times, he was truly the centerpiece of the late-90s Yankee dynasty. Yankees have a late lead in a close game? Done. Game Over. Don’t even think about trying to mount a comeback.

I agree with the post: The BB/K ratio is out of control. But let’s consider the BB/IP stat. 6 walks in 70 and 2/3rds inning. SIX. Some quick and dirty calculation suggests that Mariano faced roughly 250 hitters last year, and walked SIX of them. I can name a handful of highly regarded starting pitchers who, not infrequently, will walk six batters in a single game. This speaks not only to his ability to hit his target, it also speaks to his ability to make the stuff he throws out of the strike zone look hittable. And that’s what scares people about Mariano. He seems to already know, before you do, whether or not you’re going to swing. If you don’t swing, it’s gonna be called a strike (he’s also gotten a little help from the blues on this, but that comes with the territory when you’re as respected as he is) and if you swing, well, that post pretty much lays out what you’re up against.

In that way, the 2004 ALCS was, for Red Sox fans who respect their opponents, about as good as it gets. Watching Rivera blow the saves in Game 4 and Game 5 (I hate to think this had anything to do with the tragedy his family suffered between the ALDS and ALCS, though I suspect it might) was watching the last 8 years of Yankee dominance dissolve before our very eyes. Rivera met his match in Dave Roberts. Just as Rivera had established a power that left hitters helpless (I know he’s going to throw the cutter! I know it! But there’s nothing I can do about it!) Roberts had that same power on the basepath. EVERYBODY knew Roberts was running. To watch him stand up the line, fingers slowly fluttering, legs twitching, was, literally, breathtaking. And there was nothing Rivera could do to stop him.

Come Spring of 2005, the Red Sox had their WS ring ceremony in Fenway before a game against the Yankees. The Yankees were given player-by-player introductions, and most got rowdy boos, as expected. When Rivera came out, however, the crowd erupted in thunderous applause, which caused Rivera to crack a huge smile and wave. While the easy way to read this was that they were “thanking” him for losing the game for the Yankees, I think that, while that was partially true, they were also, very legitimately, applauding him for the unbelievable presence he had been over the years. He was the key component in establishing a seemingly unstoppable enemy, and vanquishing that enemy was all the more satisfying for his contributions in building them up as such.

The Yankees have become something of a joke in recent years. After the players they picked up in the offseason, I’m sure they’ll be competitive this year, and if they are, Mariano will be an essential part of the equation. Seeing how dominant he remains, even at 38 years of age, really makes you appreciate just how unique he really is.

But anyway, this is awesome. Thanks.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:25 AM on March 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


Rivera's 2008 is amazingly similar to, but clearly inferior to, Eckersley's 1990. Mostly due to Moe giving up twice as many home runs.

But even the walks - yeah, six in 70 2/3 is awesome. But four in 73 1/3 is better. And one of those four was intentional (!).
posted by Flunkie at 9:36 AM on March 27, 2009


I still can't believe the 1990 As got swept by the Reds in the World Series. They had everything! A line-up full of ego and juice, two 20-win pitchers with sub-3.00 ERAs, and the most dominant season by a closer EVAR.

1990 was certainly a year for pitching. Check out the top five in AL Cy Young Voting. Not bad for the A's to have 3 guys in the top 5, and the other two are Clemens' (arguably) best season and Thigpen's (just broken) 57-save season.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:46 AM on March 27, 2009


Wicked awesome!
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:26 AM on March 27, 2009


As a die-hard but (I hope) not particularly annoying Red Sox fan, there have always been Yankees that, although I “hate” them, I don’t actually begrudge one iota and, rather, admire the hell out of. Bernie Williams was one, Jeter is another, but towering above them is Mariano Rivera.

Yeah, this. I really don't mind Jeter sticking around to eat up $20-odd million in Yankee payroll, hit 12 HRs a year, and let ground balls up the middle go for singles, but I sure wish Mariano would just retire already. He's simply way too good. Mariano! Work on your golf game! Price out some Florida real estate! Anything!
posted by letourneau at 11:12 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really don't mind Jeter sticking around to eat up $20-odd million in Yankee payroll, hit 12 HRs a year, and let ground balls up the middle go for singles

You're forgetting the intangibles.

Though I pride myself on being as civil as possible with opposing fans, one of my best friends in college was as pro-Yankee as I am pro-Sox, and I took immense pleasure in referring to Jeter as "Captain Intangibles" for years after this article. Granted, when the Yankees eliminated the Sox from playoff contention in 2005 on game 161 of the season by a trademark Jeter run-to-the-left-pick-up-the-ball-jump-turn-around-in-mid-air-and-throw put out at first, he took immense pleasure in getting in my face and yelling "YOU CAN TOUCH THAT!" Reap what you sow, I guess.
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:46 AM on March 27, 2009


This looks like it would be really interesting if it were explained in some way. I don't give a shit about baseball, so I have no idea what K:BB is (or any of the other stats), but I DO like statistical anomalies that undermine conventional wisdom.
posted by cmoj at 12:03 PM on March 27, 2009


cmoj: Check out these glossaries if you are so inclined. K is a strikeout, BB is a base on balls (walk), so K:BB is the strike to walk ratio. Mariano's K:BB is absurdly low.
posted by Mach5 at 12:18 PM on March 27, 2009


edit: strikeOUT to walk ratio
posted by Mach5 at 12:19 PM on March 27, 2009


Excellent. Thanks.

Sweet!
posted by cmoj at 12:25 PM on March 27, 2009


You're forgetting the intangibles.

Also the "calm eyes." And the "talk to the hand, ump." And the "bending over as though punched in the solar plexus if a pitch passes over the inside half of the plate."

...trademark Jeter run-to-the-left-pick-up-the-ball-jump-turn-around-in-mid-air-and-throw put out at first...

Heh. I hope that was followed by a hearty FIST PUMP. "A lesser shortstop would have made that play look easy!"

On preview: Mariano's K/BB ratio is extremely high, not low. He strikes out lots of dudes and hardly ever walks them. Big numerator, small denominator.
posted by letourneau at 12:32 PM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


"bending over as though punched in the solar plexus if a pitch passes over the inside half of the plate."

I absolutely love this move. It's like a relic from a time where baseball players would, at the game's conclusion, change into stripey bathing suits and lift comically-sized weights.

Also in that category: Sal Fasano.
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:26 PM on March 27, 2009


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