Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-8-7

8/7/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Top of the 1st
THINK YOU’RE COOL?
Okay Red Sox fans, Schilling lost last night, 4-2 and the Yankees beat the Blue Jays in Toronto and the lead in the AL East is 6 games, the slimmest it’s been since early May; I see you, you’re starting to edge toward the ledge…relax…stay cool. At least that’s the suggestion of the folks at coolstandings.com (www.coolstandings.com).

According to their website, the folks at coolstandings.com calculate every day the percentage chance each team has of winning division, percentage chance each team has of winning the wild card and the percentage chance each team has of making the playoffs. They do this by simulating the rest of the season millions of times, based on every team’s performance to date and its remaining schedule, and then look at how many “seasons” a team won its division or won the wildcard, and they have their numbers.

The key method they use are simple team statistics (e.g. runs scored and runs against) to predict how each team will fare against all others using a variation of the Bill James “Pythagorean Theorem” to predict results. They refer to this calculation as “smart mode.”

At this point, I have to take their word for it, because when it comes to this geeky stuff, Billy-Ball is definitely un-cool. I take great pride in my ability to calculate a tip at a restaurant; I just wish I was allowed to have the opportunity prior to the second cocktail.

Now, I know Bill James is a brilliant baseball visionary and statistician. I can also tell you that Pythagoras was a mathematician and philosopher who founded a community in southern Italy sometime in the 6th century B.C. His followers were extremely secretive and loyal, and held a mystical view of numbers and their relation to nature. He formed a cult academy (Liberty University?) in which followers were told to abstain from meat and beans and he believed in and taught reincarnation. How these beliefs resulted in the theorem that in right triangles, the square on the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares on the other sides is clearly beyond someone of my limited intellect.

Coolstandings.com explains that the Bill James Pythagorean theorem states that a baseball team’s winning percentage can be estimated using the following formula:

PCT = (RS^2)/(RS^2 + RA^2)

where RS is runs scored, and RA is runs against. This formula works because baseball scores roughly follow a Rayleigh distribution. Over time, the formula has been tweaked using empirical evidence (i.e. actual game scores). For instance, instead of using an exponent value of 2, a value of 1.83 is often used.

My brain hurts.

Now, they also have what they refer to as “dumb mode.” I am grateful that they didn’t know me as they were creating this for I fear they would have named it “Billy-Ball mode.” To prove their point, I would have been bragging to everyone that they named a mode after me until someone pointed out it was dumb. Be that as it may, dumb mode is something that dummies would do: flip a coin.

They point out in this method you could simply assume that any team has a 50-50 shot of beating any other team and as result flip a coin to decide who would win each game. They brilliantly write, “This method isn’t too realistic, but it usually gives Chicago teams a better shot at the division.” For lack of a better term, they call this prediction mode “Dumb mode”.”

Okay, so what are the results? Here are the top three teams in each division as of today on coolstandings.com:
NL East:
The Mets currently lead the Braves by 4.5 games and the Phils by 5 games. According to coolstandings.com, the Mets are expected to win 90.4 games, the Braves – 86.4, and the Phils 85.0. The Mets have a 66.3% probability of winning the division, the Braves – 21.5%, and the Phils – 12.1%.

NL Central
The Brewers currently lead the Cubs by 1 game and the Cards by 7 games. According to coolstandings.com, the Brewers are expected to win 86.2 games, the Cubs – 87.5, and the Cards 74.3. The Brewers have a 38.8% probability of winning the division, the Cubs – 60.9%, and the Cards. – 0.2%.

NL West
The D-Backs currently lead the Padres by 2 games and the Dodgers by 4 games. According to coolstandings.com, the D-Backs are expected to win 86.9 games, the Padres – 88.1, and the Dodgers 85.1. The D-Backs have a 28.7% probability of winning the division, the Padres – 42.9%, and the Dodgers – 15.6%.

AL East
The Red Sox currently lead the Yankees by 6 games and the Blue Jays by 11.5 games. According to coolstandings.com, the Red Sox are expected to win 98.3 games, the Yankees – 90.7, and the Blue Jays 82.7. The Red Sox have a 92.3% probability of winning the division, the Yankees – 7.6%, and the Blue Jays – 0.1%.

AL Central
The Indians currently lead the Tigers by .5 games and the Twins by 5.5 games. According to coolstandings.com, the Indians are expected to win 89.5 games, the Tigers – 89.3, and the Twins 82.8. The Indians have a 50.0% probability of winning the division, the Tigers – 46.1%, and the Twins – 3.9%.

AL West
The Angels currently lead the Mariners by 4 games and the A’s by 12 games. According to coolstandings.com, the Angels are expected to win 93.4 games, the Mariners – 86.0, and the Phils 78.6. The Angels have a 90.4% probability of winning the division, the Mariners – 9.4%, and the A’s – 0.2%.

They also have a “smart” and “dumb” playoff picture for you to consider, but rather than tell you what they think the most likely playoff scenarios will be, I suggest you go and take a look for yourself (http://www.coolstandings.com/playoff_picture.asp?sn=2007).

This is a home run of a website (if they are right) and it will be interesting the rest of the season to see how they do.

If you have a unique baseball website that you would like Billy-Ball to review, please let me know – bill@billy-ball.com.

Top of the 2nd
10-10 WINS
The 5th inning was simply amazing last night for the St. Louis Cardinals – I don’t which is more amazing the 10 runs they scored or the fact that they got 10 hits in a row. The Cardinals tied a major league record with 10 straight hits in a 10-run fifth inning, with pitcher Braden Looper and Aaron Miles getting two apiece in a 10-5 victory over the San Diego Padres. The Cardinals are among many teams with 10 consecutive hits, doing it in 1920 and 1922. The Cardinals also scored 10 runs in the fifth inning June 16 at Oakland.
The 10-run inning was the most against the Padres since they gave up 11 in a 15-5 loss at St. Louis on May 8, 2005.

Here’s how the Cardinals 5h inning went:
David Wells pitching for San Diego:
Braden Looper: Strike looking, Ball, Strike swinging, Ball, Foul, Looper singled to left center.
Aaron Miles: Strike looking, Foul, Miles reached on an infield single, Looper to second.
David Eckstein: Ball, Strike looking, Eckstein singled to right, Looper scored, Miles to third.
So Taguchi: Ball, Ball, Taguchi singled to center, Miles scored, Eckstein to second.
Albert Pujols: Ball, Ball, Foul, Pujols singled to left center, Eckstein scored, Taguchi to second.
Juan Encarnacion: Encarnacion singled to center, Taguchi scored, Pujols to third.
Scott Rolen: Strike swinging, Rolen homered to left center, Pujols and Encarnacion scored.

Mike Thompson relieved David Wells.
Ryan Ludwick: Ludwick homered to center.
Yadier Molina: Ball, Ball, Ball, Molina walked.
Braden Looper: Looper reached on bunt single to pitcher, Molina to third, Looper to second on pitcher Thompson’s throwing error.
Aaron Miles: Miles singled to center, Molina scored, Looper to third.
David Eckstein: Eckstein hit sacrifice fly to center, Looper scored.
So Taguchi: Ball, Strike looking, Taguchi grounded into double play shortstop to second to first, Miles out at second.
End of Inning (10 Runs, 10 Hits, 1 Error)

Top of the 3rd
GOOD NEWS FOR THE TIGERS…FINALLY
Gary Sheffield should be back in the Tigers lineup on Wednesday night and Marcus Thames on Thursday. Sheffield’s right shoulder is on the mend and his left shoulder should be fully recovered by Thursday from a cortisone shot he got on Sunday.

As for Thames, who’s been on the disabled list since July 19 because of a pulled left hamstring, manager Jim Leyland said if Thames gets through a two-day injury rehab assignment with Toledo without a setback, he’ll be the Tigers’ starting first baseman on Thursday against Tampa Bay left-hander Scott Kazmir.

The Tigers had the best record in baseball on July 21, but their 6-4 win last night over Tampa Bay was just their fourth victory in 16 games.

Top of the 4th
WAIVER DEALS
Lynn Henning of the Detroit News in his weekly update provided much of this information.

Major league teams had until 4 p.m. July 31 to make non-waiver trades. Now, teams only can make a trade once a player being moved clears waivers.There are four different divisions of waivers:
* Trade waivers:
These are applicable only in August and September. A player must be placed on waivers and clear waivers before he can be traded. The exception is that a team claiming him off the waiver wire also can make a deal with the offering team.
* Optional waivers:
These apply after a player has exhausted his three years of minor league options. A player whose options are gone must be offered to other teams via the waiver wire before being sent down.
* Outright waivers:
This is how a team subtracts a player from the 40-man roster as a means for adding another player to the 40-man list. If a player put on outright waivers is claimed by another team, that team must add the player to its 40-man roster.
* Unconditional waivers:
This is a farewell gesture for many players. The player basically is told he has no future with the team and is offered on the waiver wire to anyone who might be interested. At that point, the player is released and free to begin a new life.

* A player who finds himself on the waiver wire is available to another team for 48 hours. Trade waivers and optional waivers are known as “revocable” waivers, meaning the offering team can retrieve the player after a claim has been made.
* A player on optional waivers also can be retrieved. The team can decide to bring back the player and send to the minors another player who has an option left. Or, the general manager can make a trade with the claiming team.
* Outright waivers and unconditional waivers are “irrevocable” waivers. Once a team has placed a player on either of these lists, the team is washing its hands of him. He will either hook on elsewhere or retire.
* If more than one team claims a player off waivers, the team with the poorer record gets first consideration. (For the first 30 days of the regular season, the previous year’s standings are used). If teams from both leagues claim him, the team from the same league as the player is given first choice.

Top of the 5th
WHEELCHAIR SEATING
The new $611 million baseball stadium for the Washington Nationals will have wheelchair seating in nearly every section and will fully comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, team President Stan Kasten said. The seating will be in place by the time the 41,000-seat stadium opens in Southeast Washington in the spring.

Top of the 6th
TAKING STOCK OF B*NDS
The Giants defeated the Nationals last night 3-2 on Randy Winn’s bases-loaded single with one out in the 11th inning, but by that time Barry B*nds was long gone. B*nds went 0-for-3 with a walk and came out of the game after seven innings so that both he and Billy-Ball could sleep.

B*nds’ Hall of Fame godfather, Willie Mays, was in the house. So was his oldest daughter after she returned from a trip to Sweden. And so was his 8-year-old daughter, Aisha, who had “Pitch 2 Dad!” written in black marker on her right cheek.

B*nds fouled out to third in the 1st and walked on five pitches in the 3rd. In the 5th, B*nds hit into a 6-5-3 double play. Then in the 7th, Bonds struck out swinging.

Australian comic Peter Meisel notes that on the Billy-Ball list of ‘Youngest to Hit 500 Home runs’ (http://billy-ball.com/Youngest500homers.htm) that Barry Bonds isn’t even on it. Just shows with practice and hard work you can get better.

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
Away Home Time (ET) Away Probable Home Probable
Marlins Phillies 7:05 p.m. VandenHurk (3-2) Moyer (9-8)
Mariners Orioles 7:05 p.m. Weaver (2-10) Trachsel (5-7)
Devil Rays Tigers 7:05 p.m. Hammel (1-1) Robertson (6-9)
Yankees Blue Jays 7:07 p.m. Clemens (3-5) Towers (5-8)
Braves Mets 7:10 p.m. Carlyle (6-3) Perez (10-7)
Dodgers Reds 7:10 p.m. Hendrickson (4-5) Arroyo (4-12)
Cubs Astros 8:05 p.m. Marshall (5-5) Williams (5-12)
Twins Royals 8:10 p.m. Bonser (5-7) Bannister (7-6)
Padres Cardinals 8:10 p.m. Peavy (11-5) Reyes (1-10)
Indians White Sox 8:11 p.m. Westbrook (2-6) Danks (6-8)
Athletics Rangers 8:35 p.m. Gaudin (8-7) Gabbard (4-1)
Brewers Rockies 9:05 p.m. Capuano (5-8) Hirsh (4-7)
Pirates D-Backs 9:40 p.m. Gorzelanny (9-6) Owings (5-5)
Red Sox Angels 10:05 p.m. Wakefield (13-9) Saunders (5-0)
Nationals Giants 10:15 p.m. Bacsik (5-6) Zito (8-10)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
The Cub’s Eric Patterson made his major league debut, playing left field in the 9th and sacrificing in the 10th. He is the brother of Corey Patterson, who played for Chicago from 2000-05. The Pattersons became the 10th set of brothers to play for the Cubs.

The Cubs lost to Houston, 2-1 in 10 innings.

Top of the 9th
VISIT THE EVER-GROWING BILLY-BALL-MALL
Thanks to good and talented friend Jay Lozada, it is looking better than ever – http://billy-ball.com/mall.asp

Bottom of the 9th
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Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports, espn.com, sportsline.com, mlb.com and numerous other e-sources. Opinions expressed in Billy-Ball are obviously solely the opinions of the author of Billy-Ball and do not reflect those of source material no matter how off the wall they may be.