K: Stephen Ray has what some would call “cheap internet,” which is not unlike the normal, everyday internet that Al Gore invented and that you and I have come to love, except it is unreliable and bad. As such I am posting these, his words, on his behalf. It was has been edited for content, grammar, any and all pro-Fredi Gonzalez material, and I’ve removed any and all incomprehensible southern colloquialisms and redneck slang. Let’s proceed:
At some point along the process of a young person “coming of age”, so to speak, he or she will come face to face with the fact that their days on earth are not limitless. Depending upon one’s worldview, this realization could lead to any number of emotional responses. Much ink has been spilled over this very topic for thousands upon thousands of years, so I do not intend to discuss it in much length here, although I would like to use it to draw your attention to one thing in particular: the baseballing season is nearly over. As of this writing, there are only 2 weeks left of regular season games before the post season starts. For some, specifically those currently in the heat of a playoff race, this is a time to focus on nothing but the present. Each day is bringing its own unique challenge, and this must be addressed before reorienting one’s focus to look ahead or behind. For others, these last two weeks are mostly a formality, as their fate in the story of the 2014 season has already been written. These are likely focusing on the future, determining how to make the most of the next year so as to not repeat the mistakes of history. For myself, being the author of this daily post, my focus is on the past. Specifically, yesterday, and the players who were significant therein. What does this say for my worldview and the emotional response I have to brevity of life, as here metaphored (you can turn anything into a verb) in the form of the ending of a baseballing season? Probably not much.
Right, on with the post.
RAW PERFORMANCE PLAYER OF THE DAY
Determining how well a pitcher performed in a given season is more difficult that some realize. All of the tools we currently use- ERA, FIP, xFIP, et al- each have their own set of biases and assumptions that get you within varying degrees of accuracy of the answer in question, but none are without fault. Personally, over the course of a single season, I believe FIP gets us closer to the correct answer than any other single metric. However, this breaks down at the single game level. Using FIP, Andrew Cashner had only the fifth best game for a starting pitcher yesterday, yet here he is as my Raw Performance POTD. How could that be? Because I prefer using a little toy statistic known as Game Score for evaluations of individual games. Game score assigns various weights to all events that occur while a pitcher is on the mound–runs, strikeouts, hits, etc.–and adds up the points from each category to give you a total score. Scores typically range from around 40 to 90, with elite games sometimes scoring over 100. Yesterday, Cashner had the best game score in baseball at 89, some 14 points better that the next best pitcher. He spread 7 strikeouts over 9 innings while allowing only 3 total baserunners and no runs, shutting out a powerfully mediocre Phillies offense.
CONTEXTUAL PLAYER OF THE DAY
I’ll be honest, I went back and forth over this one for a while. Should I pick Ben Zobrist for his walk off single for the Rays? What about Anthony Rizzo, hitting a walkoff homerun in his first game back from lower back problems? Then there was the crazy final inning of the Royals/White Sox game. With Kansas City trailing 3-2 with one out in the bottom of the 9th, Mike Moustakas hit a double to the gap. Jarrod Dyson took his spot on the basepaths, and after an Alcides Escobar groundout, managed to score while stealing third thanks to White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers losing a wild first pitch to Norichika Aoki. Aoki went on to hit a double himself, before getting swapped our for Terrance Gore. With two outs left in the tie ballgame, Lorenzo Cain hit a groundball that Alexei Ramirez failed to field cleanly, allowing Gore to come into score. This walk off infield single raised the Royals’ playoff odds from 66.8% to 79.4%, likely securing their position as one of the two AL wildcard teams. However, this entire sequence of events was a product of a lot of different people. Moustakas and Aoki with their doubles, Cain with the final single, and Dyson and Gore on the basepaths all contributed in a not-insignificant way. Because of this, I can’t really assign any one of them the Player of the Day title. Instead, this award is going to Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom.
DeGrom started his game by striking out the first eight Miami batters he faced before giving up a hit to the pitcher. He went on to allow only 3 runs across 7 solid innings, striking out thirteen and walking only one. You may be thinking, “that’s great and all, but what’s the context that allows him to earn this great honor?” You see, Jacob deGrom is in the midst of a battle for the NL Rookie of the Year, an award that many people believe is the Reds’ Billy Hamilton’s to lose. Billy’s early-season success with the bat has not carried over as much into the second half, and continued dominance from deGrom may be all the boost he needs to take it from the young speedster. It’s going to be a tight race, but Jacob did a considerable job padding his case yesterday evening, and for that I believe he deserves this award. If you think differently, let me know in the comments! Or remember that this is a purely subjective award that I can give to anyone I want and stay off my lawn. Have a #blest Tuesday.