Hitting For The Cycle: New Breed Stat Guys, Baseball in Florida, Pitching to Strikeout, and Player Tracking Technology

Single: Wait, we’re still arguing that people who like stats don’t enjoy or appreciate baseball? By Craig Calcaterra (Hardball Talk) and A Response to Bob Ryan by Dave Cameron (FanGraphs)

To start off today’s piece we are going to focus on two different pieces which focus on a third non-linked piece; confusing, I know. This weekend Boston Globe legend and old-school writer Bob Ryan decided to take pot shot after pot shot at those who are sabermetrically-inclined. Among a myriad of indirect insults, he claims that “New Breed Stat Guys” don’t even enjoy the game because they simply want to second guess everything. It’s a crap piece and both of these writers (and countless others) have properly lambasted him for it.

I recommend reading both of these pieces which come to roughly the same conclusion but get there in drastically different ways. Calcaterra’s article has much more fire and passion, whereas Cameron shows his typical restraint while building a calculated response. Both of them make their points and both a worth a read.

Quote: “I can tell you, there is no one more focused on baseball — aesthetically and intellectually — than one of those [New Breed Stat Guys].”

Double: Can Baseball Survive in Florida? By Peter Gammons (Gammons Daily)

This question has been asked and asked again ad nauseum. You may not have realized it yet, but this is a pretty important year for both of the Floridian baseball clubs, and it’s really not going well thus far. Not only are the Rays in last place in the suddenly weak American League East, but they are also down three of their young stud starting pitchers due to injury. The Marlins, two weeks ago the darlings of baseball, are over-performing for now but have now lost Jose Fernandez for the next twelve months due to Tommy John surgery.

Two teams that have high hopes, one for now and the other for the future, are now dealing with the potential of a second half of 2014 with attendance dropping even further than it has been in the previous five seasons. Will Stanton finally tire of the empty seats in a brand new ballpark? Will the Rays ever get a new stadium? Will baseball work in Florida? Gammons’ answers all these questions and more in a very eloquent way. What else is new?

Quote: “And if they’re still averaging 19,107 in September, then it may be time to look at Montreal or New Haven, San Antonio or Indianapolis.”

Triple: In Defense of the K – Or How I Learned to Stop Loving Ground Balls by Dave Cameron (FOX Sports)

In fact, strikeouts are not fascist, according to new research by Dave Cameron. Going against the conventional wisdom that has dominated the Nationals headlines with Strasburg and Zimmermann over the past few years, Cameron digs into the numbers to figure out exactly how effective it is to be a ground ball pitcher vs. a strikeout pitcher.

There is a bit of a difference between the top 25% ground ball pitchers and bottom 25% ground ball pitchers, but it only comes out to 1 extra out per start. Not drastic at all. There is plenty more tidbits in this piece and it would take a while to dig into all of them – so I’ll just leave you to enjoy them!

Quote: “And trading strikeouts for ground balls comes with its own downside, as it might save you a few pitches, but it costs you some runs in the process.”

Home Run: MLB Shows Off Its New Player Tracking Technology and It Looks Awesome by Mike Oz (Big League Stew)

MLB has a new toy this year, and it’s probably their best innovation since the advent of MLB.tv more than 10 years ago. You have no doubt heard that the powers that be over at MLB Advanced Media were working on a player tracking system and seen highlights of what it was capable of through a few clips from last season. Well, they have released their first batch of videos for this year and they are incredible.

The data featured in these videos are mind boggling – spin rates, leads down to inch, catcher pop times, release times, acceleration rates, etc. If this is the future, it is going to be a fun ride for those “New Breed Stat guys” – hope you enjoy the ride!

(Image via screengrab: MLBAM video)

About Craig MacHenry

Writer for The Nats Blog and co-host of Nats Talk On The Go podcast