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Monday, September 27, 2004

A Gambler's Guide To The Post-Season 

Today Baseball Prospectus released their updated Post-Season Odds Report, and without any registration required. The report is based on a one million-fold Monte Carlo simulation of the remainder of the season, which basically means they simulated all of 2004's remaining regular season games with a computer a whole lotta times to get their results. The results are thought-provoking, at least, and readers are hereby advised to give them a look.

Seeing B.P.'s predictions prompted me to look at some online gambling odds to see if Vegas could be exploited by picking pennant or World Series winners. Using B.P.'s data, my own personal ranking of teams, and by exhaustively analyzing each potential playoff scenario, here are my Vegas-busting picks:

1) Atlanta to win the World Series (value = 1.36*)

The Braves pay 12 to 1 if they win it all thus year. I have them as the fourth-best team in the National League, behind St. Louis, Chicago, and Houston, in terms of ability (judged completely subjectively, but certainly well-researched) to win a post-season series. My own calculated odds for the Braves are 8.8 to 1.

2) Chicago Cubs to win the World Series (value = 1.19*)

At a price of 10 to 1, the Cubs look to me like a great Series pick. With their strong starting staff, the Northsiders could take out any of the other N.L. playoff contenders. I may even be underestimating their value a little; if you believe that they are better than the Cardinals, the Cubs are a better value than Atlanta. I say it's about 8.4 to 1 that the Curse of the Billy Goat ends in 2004.

3) Atlanta to win the National League (value = 1.15*)

For the aforementioned reasons, the Braves are also a good value as N.L. pennant winners. Vegas pays 9 to 2, I have them at about 4 to 1.

4) Chicago Cubs to win the N.L. (value = 1.08*)

See number three above. Again, if you believe that the Cubs are a better shot to win than the Cardinals, this pick moves up to number two, at a value around 1.3. Vegas pays this pick at 4 to 1, and I have it at 3.7 to 1.

Now for some tempting bets that don't pay in my system:

1) St. Louis to win the N.L. (value = 0.69*)

Paying only 11 to 10, this bet simply doesn't make sense to me. If you can get 8 to 5 or better, though, you have my blessing.

2) Oakland to win the A.L. (value = 0.54*)

Paying 9 to 2, Oakland looked at first to me like a decent sleeper bet here. The bet's downfall is that Oakland is only projected to even make the playoffs about 75 percent of the time. These would be decent odds, however, if Oakland is able to secure a playoff spot.

There you go. If I was the gambling type, I am on the record with where my money would be going.

A note on the Cubs: As a fringe Cubs fan, my placement of the Cubs on the "good value" list may be biased, although not how you'd expect. As I said, I have the Cardinals ahead of the Cubs in my National League rankings. It would be easy for not only a die-hard Northsider, but any logical mind, to formulate an argument that the Cubs are the team to beat in the N.L. If you assumed that Prior or Wood will catch fire in the post-season, and that Carlos Zambrano will remain nearly untouchable, the case is an easy one. It is possible that in an attempt to remain unbiased, I have underestimated the Cubs starting pitching staff and thereby undervalued them. Be forewarned.

* Value = Vegas Payoff รท My Calculated Payoff

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Friday, September 24, 2004

SA and CSPAN leaders have been updated, since I know how much everybody loves them. I don't think Bill Hall has been off the CSPAN list all year. Poor guy.

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Thursday, September 23, 2004

Here's another historical perspective on the Mariners' slide, by Ben Jacobs of The Hardball Times.

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How Bad Have The 2004 Seattle Mariners Been? 

I was perusing the Mariners' pitching statistics provided by ESPN (must be my inner sadist at work), when I noticed something interesting: Jamie Moyer leads the Mariners in wins with seven. (Seven! That's only two more than four!) It's a tight race for the lead, with Ron Villone and Gil Meche posting so far six wins apiece. (Joel Piniero has also notched six victories in 2004, but he's not going to win any more games from the disabled list.)

My reaction to this news was along the lines of, "Wow, that's gotta be some kind of record," so I did a bit of research. Since 1944, in seasons of 140 games or more, only two teams have had their pitching staffs paced by a seven game winner. The 53-109 1996 Detroit Tigers were led by one-time Mariner Omar Oliveras, and the 61-101 1987 Cleveland Indians had a tie at the top, with reliever Scott Bailes joining knuckleballers Tom Candiotti and Phil Niekro at seven wins apiece.

The Mariners have a real shot at joining this illustrious group. Meche and Villone will be hard pressed to wins two more games. Jamie Moyer, sitting at seven wins already, will start probably two more games this year. The way Moyer's been knocked around all year, it wouldn't be difficult at all for the M's to blow Moyer's final two outings and put themselves in the record books. Go M's!

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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

A Two-Day Reminder Why We Should Never Count The Little Guy Out 

Nine hits in two games. Ridiculous. He went from "barely on pace and falling fast" to "lock for the record" in 48 hours. Ichiro's hit pace now stands at a tidy 265 with 11 games to play. He needs to average just 0.909 hits per game the rest of the way. At four at-bats a game, that's just a .227 batting average to merely keep up with Sisler.

Lost in the hubbub, Raul Ibanez went six-for-six today. Not bad at all.

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He Did It Again! 

Bob Melvin, with runners on second and third and no one out in the top of the fourth inning tonight, called for a sacrifice with the nine hitter Ramon Santiago at bat and Ichiro on deck. Ichiro, of course, was predictably walked.


Does Melvin know who George Sisler was?

BTW - I criticized this annoying tendency of BoMel's way back in May. Can him like a sardine, Goat Boy.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Explaining What We've All Known From The Beginning 

Here's another great article about our little buddy Ichiro, courtesy of Management By Baseball. Jeff Angus uses the fact that, while Ichiro is something like 25th in the AL in OPS, he is first in Runs Created, to illustrate a primary failing of OPS and to show that a whole bunch of small successes (singles) add up to a lot of production. Read the article. Now.

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Friday, September 17, 2004


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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

A Great Site Worthy Of Your Readership 

Any college hoops fans reading my occaisionally wise words is hereby advised to check out College Basketabll, Yoni Cohen's outstanding weblog on the college game. He posts several times a day, and covers EVERYBODY. It remains to seen if he is afflicted with the East Coast bias, though.

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Monday, September 13, 2004

Weekend Update 

First off, I'd like to apologize to Mom and Dad. For the first time in my life, I made a visit to the Seattle area from out of town without paying a visit to the Caldwell Family Compound in Snoqualmie. I had a pretty busy schedule, and it was all in Belfair and Seattle. Sorry. I tried.

The wedding was a blast, marred only by the concurrent Cougar defeat and by being Lon-blocked (inside joke). Funniest thing I overheard, out of the mouth of Means, the groom:

"See that guy over there, in the gray shirt and crimson tie? (Means points at me.) He's a Coug, and he'll be keeping track of the score of the game, if you ever want an update. You can tell he's a Coug 'cause he's drinking at noon."

The weather was miraculously pleasant despite a bad forecast, and everyone in attendance had a good time.

As for the M's game on Friday, a 13-2 shellacking is never the best game to see, but seeing Pedro in action (in the dugout, not the mound) was by itself worth the cross-state trip. I'm sure Pete can tell you about that though.

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Scary Ideas From Around The Country And How They Relate To The Mariners And Seahawks 

Peter Gammons, "Expanding 'Moneyball'; Judging defense becoming key"
While some dissect the "Moneyball" theories, the A's, Red Sox, Dodgers, Mets, Indians and others are trying to find the next new new thing, which in this case is quantifying what heretofore was considered incalculable -- defense.
So, the qualified GMs are tackling defense now. Bill Bavasi doesn't know how to calculate slugging percentage. This is worrisome, to say the least. What Beane, Epstein, et al. are doing are the kind of things we'd all love to try, given talented statistical research staffs and million-dollar budgets.

Bill Simmons, "The NFL and 'Goodfellas" Part II"

The Sports Guy's NFL preview, written to tie into forty quotes from Scorcese's "Goodfellas." He's got the 'Hawks at 12-4 with home field advantage throughout the playoffs, losing in the end to SG's beloved Patriots by seven in the Super Bowl. A lot of national media have been picking the 'Hawks to advance far into the playoffs this year, but Simmons doesn't even feel like he really needs to explain his choice. It's like he thinks everyone would agree that the statement "The Seattle Seahawks are unrivalled in the NFC in 2004" was written in stone high atop a mountain somewhere. We need some national 'Hawks nay-sayers, sooner better than later.

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I have missed those day-by-day graphs of players' batting averages that used to be on the player cards at the Worldwide Leader, so I made one myself:
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Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

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Thursday, September 09, 2004

What A Weekend! 

Two big goings-on this weekend:

1) Longtime Sox-1918 reader and frequent commenter Means is gettin' hitched Saturday in Belfair, so I'll be on the westside all weekend.

1a) The Cougs take on the Colorado Teammate Rapist Buffaloes at Seahawks Stadium on Saturday, with kickoff right around the time the padre gets to "Do you, Means, take the hand blah blah blah."

1b) I'm going to be an usher at the wedding, so it would be in exceedingly poor form to listen to the Coug game mid-ceremony.

1c) My celly is web-enabled, giving me easy access to score updates.

2) Petey Z and his girl Leah are also going to be in town this weekend, and Pete, Leah, and I will be at Friday's Sox-M's game, sitting IMMEDIATELY BEHIND THE RED SOX' DUGOUT!!!!!!! I've seen games against Minnesota, the White Sox, and Anaheim from those same seats, and let me tell you, it's a treat. I think I'll wear my "1986 World Series" t-shirt. Look for me on TV. And look for Pete, too. He'll be the guy right next to the guy with the "1986 World Series" t-shirt. If any readers will be at the game and want to stop by and say hi, please do. Pete and I would love to meet you.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Outsiders on Ichiro 

Check on over to the Hardball Times for an article warning readers not to place too much stock on the hits record. Whatever.

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Monday, September 06, 2004

He's Gonna Do It 

226 hits in 137 games. That's 1.65 hits per game. If He has a 19 percent "September Slide" for the rest of the season and "only" records 1.33 hits per game the rest of the way, He'll end up somewhere in the neighborhood of 259 hits.

Tomorrow: off

Wednesday: vs. Cleveland (Cliff Lee)

He is 1 for 3 lifetime vs. Lee, .333/.333/.333 (AVG/OBP/SLG)

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Thursday, September 02, 2004

From today's "Did You Know?" factoid section of the Seattle P-I baseball page:
Going into tonight's game, Ichiro has 67 multihit games; Dan Wilson has 65 hits.

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Warning: Nay-Saying Follows 

Ichiro, as you're well aware, needs 45 hits in the Mariners' last 31 games to tie George Sisler's 84-year-old single-season record of 257 hits. He's got an excellent chance to break the record, since his seasonal hits per game pace of 1.618, if carried out for the rest of the season, would put him at 262. I'm not counting him out, of course, but he's far from the lock that Baseball Tonight or Sportscenter would make him out to be.

Ichiro's "September Slides" have been well documented in the first three years of his career. He's a career .290/.336/.404 (AVG/OBP/SLG) hitter in the months of September and October (playoffs notwithstanding), with just 1.10 hits/game, compared to .328/.374/.440 and 1.36 hits/game over his whole career. Factoring in his career 19 percent decline in hits per game, Ichiro's "Adjusted Pace" is for a mere 253 hits, four shy of Sisler '20.

Needless to say, if Ichiro maintains his hot streak for a few more games, his adjusted pace will soon surpass Sisler's total. Then I'll say he'll probably get the record.

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