Friday, December 16, 2016


(May 22, 2015 - Source: Mike McGinnis/Getty Images North America)
I may be a newbie here at BYB, but I’m a quick learner. One thing I’ve learned very quickly is that my new boss Casey has a real flair for provocative headlines. Let me explain...

The other day, I submitted what I considered one of my tamer posts about how the Chris Sale signing with the Red Sox wasn’t the end of the world for Yankee Universe. It was meant to be an uplifting "Don’t-give-up-hope" type piece based partly on my own optimistic world view as a Yankee fan, but also backed by some historical data that’s pretty hard to ignore.  My piece was titled CHRIS SALE IN FENWAY PARK? GOOD LUCK WITH THAT. Check it out and get up to speed.

(Sept. 10, 2016 - Source: Jon Durr/Getty Images North America)
Among other things, my data included a brief summary and just one of several charts from a story by Neil Greenberg, a well-respected statistical analyst who writes for the Washington Post. In his piece, it simply pointed out that Sale was moving from a home park favorable to pitchers into one that’s favorable to hitters. You can read that HERE
(Sept. 11, 2016 - Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)
Greenberg’s point, and mine by the way, was simply that it would be reasonable to expect Sale to become slightly more, shall we say, “human” going forward. He supplemented this point by pointing out that Sale’s new rotation mate David Price just experienced a similar humanizing impact on his numbers this season after being traded to Boston. It was a great read and why it was referenced in the first place.

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I took pains in my piece to point out Sale was a great addition for Boston, as we have on BYB as well. (Read BOSOX SNAG SALE. RESPECT IT!) My piece wasn't a knock, in fact I conceived the piece as a kind of Chewable Tums for any Yankee fans suffering lingering heartburn over the Sale deal. Interesting, comforting information like we do here at BYB, and a sprinkle of Sabermetrics and cheerleading to help the medicine go down. In other words, it was strictly benign.

Now Casey's the boss, and what he says goes. I respect that... so when I saw his headline attached to my Sale piece CHRIS SALE IN FENWAY PARK? GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, I laughed out loud.

"Good luck with that!" That’s the kind of thing you say when Brian tells the world Bubba Crosby may be our centerfielder!  I knew right then I'd get some heat one way or another, and I did, from a BYB faithful and good guy:

Being the benevolent leader he is, Casey allowed me the honor of responding. It's Bleeding Yankee Blue. They actually correspond with their readers.  I know I'm home... anyway, here's my response.

Silly metrics, eh? You like the K.I.S.S. school of good old-fashioned believe your eyes simple arithmetic counting stats that YOU KNOW? Okay. I'll keep it simple, and we love you Mike, so we hope you respond back; 

You say 22 innings and no home runs. I say, he coughed up 9 runs over those 22 innings. That’s a stat I know.  I also know that calculates to a 3.63 ERA.  Heck, we have a rook named Bryan Mitchell who pitched 25 innings as a starter last year who had a better ERA than that. Think about it.
(Aug. 9, 2016 - Source: Jim Rogash/Getty Images North America)

Another stat I know is those 22 innings were over three starts and he only won one of those games. Heck, we just kicked a guy to the curb named Nathan Eovaldi who had a better winning percentage at Fenway than Sale does. 

And here's another stat I know... Sale served up 20 hits over those 22 innings. That’s roughly a hit an inning. Does that sound like dominance to you? It doesn't to me.

You say you know the stat you stated, Mike. But what you don’t know is the context, and that’s what metrics helps provide.

(July 31, 2014 - Source: Brian Kersey/Getty Images North America)
Metrics tells us that two of Sale’s starts were actually very good. Not complete games and "Turn out the lights, party’s over", but very good. The other one was a friggin' nightmare. And it’s that one out of three that’s instructive. Why? Because when an ace has a bad day, he can usually battle through it. But at Fenway, where a high fly ball rate pitcher sporting a rising hard-hit ball rate is already pushing the envelope, things can go south in a hurry. And while your 22-inning stat is obviously what us Saberheads call SSS (small sample size), metrics do tell us that over a full season he’s likely to see higher numbers there, not lower; and not only because of who he is and how he pitches but because of where he’ll be doing it at least half the time, who else it’s happened to and how often.

Finally, I’d just like to mention that this isn't a slam at a faithful reader of BYB. It's just me explaining the way I see it.  Comments are welcome, Casey insists and we writers love it.  I just wanted to be clear, maybe more clear now that I saw your comment. 

(July 25, 2014 - Source: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images North America)
Oh, and while I'm throwing out stats, here's one that's also quite interesting:  In Sale's last month with the White Sox, over his final six starts, he was giving up dingers at the rate of one every 5 innings. Interesting, right? Really something to think about. Anyway, I’ll stick a bloody sock on it for now...

Mike, Thank you for reading my stuff. I really do appreciate it, and appreciate the fan banter. Hit me back anytime. I’d love to hear from you again.

Casey, thanks!

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