Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Week(s) That Will Be... 

The Phillies season will basically be decided over the next 13 games. If the Phillies are going to have a shot, they need to stay within striking distance of first and compete for the wildcard. They need to do well in these next 13 home games (another 12-1 run would be nice), or they'll pretty much fall out of the race.

For all of the hand-wringing about this season people forget an important factor in the Phillies struggles: they compete in a tough division and they are chasing a very lucky team. Check out the standings:

NL East:
Washington: 51-33
Atlanta: 47-37
Florida: 43-39
Philadelphia: 43-42
New York Mets: 42-42

Now check out the pythagorean win-loss records:

Pythagorean Win-Loss:
Atlanta: 51-33
Florida: 44-38
New York Mets: 43-42
Philadelphia: 42-43
Washington: 42-43

The Nats are out-performing their pythagorean win-loss record by a whopping 9 games, a product of their 30-12 record in close games. I wouldn't count on that continuing, though I've been predicting their collapse for weeks.

Congrats to Jimmy Rollins and Bill Wagner for joining Bobby Abreu in Detroit. I think Pat Burrell should be there, but oh well.

Stay tuned, because I've got some big plans in the works for A Citizen's Blog, including catching up on my email! Have a nice weekend everyone!

(2) comments

Thursday, July 07, 2005

What do Tom Cruise, Ritalin & Citizens Bank Ballpark have in common? 

Absolutely nothing! However, watching the Phillies five-hit shutout of the Pittsburgh Pirates got me thinking last night about an idea that I thought was nuttier than Tom Cruise: is Citizens Bank hurting the Phillies pitching?

I’ve previously dismissed criticism about Citizens on the grounds that so much of it was hand-wringing and based on anecdotal evidence. The 2005 Bill James Handbook put a little fuel on the fire by giving us numbers:

Home Runs: 123
Runs: 109
Hits: 101

Essentially, it means that it was 23% easier to hit a home run at Citizens than an “average” park, 9% to get a run, 1% to get a hit.

I derided the focus on home runs by noting than it was 10% harder to get a double at Citizens (Double factor: 90), and the 9% run differential was peanuts. If Citizens is so bad, I questioned, then why were the Phillies ERAs worse on the road than at home?:

Home / Road:
ERA: 4.33 / 4.61
WHIP: 1.32 / 1.40

Some stats I use defined …
WHIP – Walks plus hits by innings pitched: (BB + H) / IP = WHIP
ERA – Earned Run Average: (Earned Runs * 9) / IP = ERA
Hr/9 – Home Runs allowed per nine innings.
K/9 – Strikeouts per nine innings.
BB/9 – Walks per nine innings.

I pride myself on being intellectually honest, so I have to confess that there is a possibility that I might be wrong based on the numbers at the mid-point of the Phillies season thus far:

ERA: 5.35 / 3.86
WHIP: 1.42 / 1.28

Ouch. Check out the differences between Home Runs allowed per 9 innings:

Road: 1.00
Home : 1.67

And that seems to be the crux of the matter because in many other respects the Phillies pitch well at home than on the road:

K/9: 6.62
BB/9: 3.19
BAA: .244

K/9: 7.16
BB/9: 3.06
BAA: .277

The home runs essentially account for the difference between batting averages allowed (that’s what BAA is, by the way). The Phillies pitch equally well at surrendering walks and getting strikeouts, but it is the home runs that are killing the team on the mound. It partly accounts for the reason why all of the Phillies starters have ERAs nearly two runs higher at home than on the road. I’m not sure of any other way to explain it than to concede that the “Coors Field East” hysterics I derided last fall might have a point. Check out ESPN's Park Factor page:

Home Runs: 113
Hits: 98
2B: 86

Home Runs are the problem here. While I’m tempted to fudge the numbers and be evasive … (I’ve always gotten a laugh out of conservative anti-environmentalists who argue that the science “isn’t fully developed” on global warming: actually it is and their response is essentially waving an intellectual white flag. Basically they can’t dispute the numbers, so they claim the data isn’t complete.) … but I have to take my lumps here and suggest that Year 2 at Citizens seems to be confirming the “Citizens is Coors Field East” story we all got so tired of hearing last year.

We’ll see … I might be able to stick to my guns in the end, but I have to admit I could be wrong.

(24) comments

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Is It Over? 

There has been a lot of talk from the Phillies players and fans about whether or not this team has a chance to make the playoffs, from a blanket “We ain’t got a chance” from Billy Wagner to a recent Inquirer column advocating the team’s dissolution, people are ready to throw the towel in on this season. Not so fast:

-As I write this the Phillies are 42-42, a half game ahead of the Mets and nine and a half worse than the Nats. This is terrible news given the team’s swollen payroll, but not so bad. If anyone bothers to remember the Red Sox surged back from a similar deficit last July against the Yankees and nearly took the NL East.

And who says the Phillies need to overtake the Nats? Remember, this team is only five out of the wildcard race right now. They actually have the sixth-best record in the NL: aside from the Cardinals and Padres, no other NL team outside of the NL East is above .500 right now. The Phillies can make the playoffs.

-I think the Phillies should be active at the trading deadline and make some deals. Instead of doing their usual thing and deal prospects for relief pitching, I think the Phillies should deal David Bell (if possible), and Mike Lieberthal. This team needs help at third base and catcher if it is going to make the playoffs.

-Billy Wagner is a terrific, “lights out” closer. But I’d deal him for those defeatist comments he made. Having someone in your clubhouse bitching and moaning like that is unacceptable. If you want to play on a team that doesn’t have a chance, Billy, I’ll give you a plane ticket to Colorado to play with the Rockies. Pack him off to the Red Sox in exchange for some prospects to restock the farm system and give Ryan Madson the job. I think he’ll pick it up with virtually no slack.

-Please don’t deal Ryan Howard. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance from him and dealing Howard (especially with Thome’s struggles) would be waving a white flag of surrender in the face of Philly phandom. Don’t do it. Let him play. Give him a shot at third. Let him catcher for all we care: keep this talent.

-Is it possible for the Nats to continue to be 30-11 at home for the rest of the season? I refuse to believe it, but they keep on winning …

-The Phillies next thirteen games are all at home. If you want to count them out, wait until after July 24th to do so.

-The Phillies are in the Three Rivers for a four game set: for those with sharp memories you’ll pick up on why this is significant for me … Yes, I live in Pittsburgh (more specifically, a suburb south of the city called Dormont), so this is my one chance to catch the Phillies … sadly I missed games 1 & 2 (visiting family in West Chester over the Fourth and all: I attended the Birchrunville July 4 parade, by the way, which was a lot of fun), and I can’t catch games 3 & 4 because I’m busy at my job (I work for the Allegheny County D.A.’s office). I hate this new unbalanced schedule because it deprives me of the opportunity to see my favorite team if I have a scheduling conflict.

-For those from Philly out to scope out PNC Park, enjoy. It's a great stadium. If you want advice from me about places I like to eat here, scope out Roland's in the Strip District on Penn Avenue, or Primanti Brothers in the Strip. Can't go wrong, either way.

-More tomorrow. I’m baaaaack!

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