Monday, September 27, 2010

Rox Talk - Week 25

The Week That Was
A 1-5 week against the D-Backs and Giants. The Rox currently stand at 83-72. Four and half games back from division leading San Francisco in third place and four games behind in the Wild Card chase. Currently 52-26 at home and 31-46 on the road, the Rox have outscored its opponents 754-682 (expected wins is 85 versus historical wins at 74). On pace for 87 wins with 788 runs scored and 713 runs against. Playoff indicator (Runs scored/Runs Against ratio) is 1.11 (>1.16 indicates high playoff potential).

One word - Disappointment. To have come so far and then swept in Arizona? Forget the Giants series, the D-Backs series set the tone. Had the Rox won 2 of 3 in Phoenix, the Giants series I am sure would have gone another way. But those are the breaks. This year the inconsistencies just won out. Starting pitching which has been a mainstay, failed causing the bullpen to be used up which caused the offense to have to play behind. All recipes for failure. Worse part of it all was getting swept against the second worse team in the NL. Unconsciousable and just pathetic...I'm out!

Playing Down to the Competition

One simple statistic to sum of this year:

40-28 (teams with >.500 record) Giants are 29-36, Padres are 30-35

43-45 (teams with <.500 record) Giants are 59-32, Padres are 57-3

And we wonder why we aren't going to play in October!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rox Talk - Week 24

The Week That Was
A 3-3 week against the Padres and Dodgers. The Rox currently stand at 82-67. One and half games back from division leading San Francisco in third place and three and half games behind in the Wild Card chase. Currently 51-24 at home and 31-43 on the road, the Rox have outscored its opponents 727-646 (expected wins is 83 versus historical wins at 71). On pace for 89 wins with 790 runs scored and 702 runs against. Playoff indicator (Runs scored/Runs Against ratio) is 1.13 (>1.16 indicates high playoff potential).

Would have been nice to win one more against the Padres especially at home. This is the second time this year the Rox could have moved ahead or tied with them in the standings but failed to do so (last game before the All Star break). After another week of battling, the Rox still find themselves in third place. Guess the positive in all this is that teams aren't gunning for us but the negative is that at this time we still need to leapfrog two teams to win the division and two teams for the Wild Card. In the Wild Card, the Phillies and Braves are battling each other this week so it would help us if the Phillies just sweep the Braves and allow the Wild Card to come out of the NL West. Padres still seem to be struggling while the Giants continue with dominant pitching and some suspect hitting. Of course the Rox hitting is keeping the team afloat while our pitching is struggling.

Two weeks ago it was CarGo, this past week was Tulo, when might a pitcher step up and stake a claim that we deserve a playoff berth? Hard to describe what Tulo has been doing in the past 15 games. He hit 14 homers putting him in the same sentence has Bonds and Belle. His September barrage, if it holds up and the Rox sneak into the playoffs could annoit Tulo MVP of the League. I'd imagine though, because of this team's makeup, both Tulo and even Ubaldo would much rather be in the playoffs then gain any individual superlatives (although Tulo would prefer a Gold Glove award).

So two weeks to go, 13 games in all, with this weekend probably determining the eventual winner. Let's assume Rox take care of business in Arizona (Tues-Thurs) and maybe hoping the Dodgers help us out with the Padres and the Cubs taking a couple against the Giants. That makes the Giants/Rox series this weekend potentially huge! Earlier today on the Dan Patrick show he commented on the convoluted playoff scenarios if the division ends in a three way tie. Because the Rox have won the season series against the Padres and currently own the series against the Giants, the Rox would have first choice of what to do. They could either elect to have two home play in games or choose to travel to winner of the first play in game winner! How crazy would that be!
Attendance Win Games?
In a related article to my thesis of why I am a terrible fan it would suggest that perhaps my attendance, even though I can't stand it, does relate to my team victories! In an academic paper the author suggests that a one standard deviation increase in attendance results in a 4% increase in the likelihood of a home team win and that increasing attendance by 48% a home team's run differential would increase by one run (data collected from 1996 - 2005).
I did my own analysis from 2006 - 2010. Spreadsheet below shows the hard data. Graph follows. The graph shows the winning percentage difference.

The grey bars is Rox away winning percentage. Rox tend to win more on the road when the crowd is less than 35,000 people. While at home (purple bars), Rox tend to win more when the crowd is above 25,000 although for some reason it becomes nullified when the crowd hits 30,000 - 45,000. Amazing to see how poorly Rox play at home when the crowd is less than 20.000. Moral of the story is go to the game (even if your like me and feel you are the curse!)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why I am a Terrible Fan

Why I am a Terrible Fan
I have a love/hate relationship with Baseball. In April I am infatuated, can't get enough. May starts to get frustrating because usually my team hasn't awaken from its slumber. June and July just seem to disappear into the summer ether. August seeks the truth as now the teams are what they are, and then finally the grueling, gut wrenching September. My joy of going to games goes from love it in April to dreading it in September especially if my team is in the Hunt. How is it that I can't watch my favorite team when it becomes crunch time?

In April you have tons of games left and watching is just a joy after the long winter months but then September hits and I squirm, my butt hurts, and every out is an eternity. The joy has gone and now it becomes torture. I spend an inordinate amount of time studying the game, reading the game, running numbers of the game. I know that if the Rox score 5 runs they have a better than 50/50 chance of winning, that if a pitcher throws about 24 pitches in an inning odds are that the opponent has scored a run, and that when the win blows from left field to right field at Coors the number of home runs increase.

With all this in my head I study the game, I accept the randomness of it all, but then September comes and passion takes over. Numbers to me go out the window and suddenly the rawness of the game becomes too much. Having been an athlete, the desire to be an active participant takes over and just sitting there on the bench knowing I can't make a difference just eats at me. The nerves, excitement, the ups/downs just remind me how much of being part of something competitive can get to me. All of this just leads me to believe I am a terrible fan because I can't sit and watch my team when the games become important. My belief, my bedrock of support just wilt and suddenly I find myself thinking the worse. Instead of winning the tight games, the myriad of things that can go wrong suddenly become apparent. So when my team needs my support, I find things to do instead of watching and only revel in their victories through highlights and wrap up stories.

It is as if my anti-support will truly matter and actually help them win! So this is my deluded view as a baseball fan. Care passionately for most of the season but when crunch time comes distance myself so that if disappointment comes I have a buffer layer but if success occurs I jump in saying I was with them all the way. Ultimately whether I support my team is truly irrelevant. My being there or my watching them isn't going to determine whether they win or lose no matter how dedicated of a fan I am and I don't have the karma to determine winners and losers. If I did know the outcome then I probably wouldn't be that passionate about the team! So I admit I am a terrible baseball fan but is it so bad to be passionate?

Giambi Speaks
I sent in my question to the Denver Post fan mail and they picked my question?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rox Talk - Week 23

The Week That Was
A 7-0 week against the Reds and D-Back. The Rox currently stand at 79-64. One and half games back from division leading San Diego in third place and two and half games behind in the Wild Card chase. Currently 50-22 at home and 29-42 on the road, the Rox have outscored its opponents 683-613 (expected wins is 79 versus historical wins at 68). On pace for 89 wins with 774 runs scored and 694 runs against. Playoff indicator (Runs scored/Runs Against ratio) is 1.11 (>1.16 indicates high playoff potential).

I'm speechless or maybe you should call it writer's block? Can this team do it again in September? I'll be honest, I wrote them off after they lost two of three in Arizona about 3 weeks ago. San Diego was on cruise control (we were 11 games back at that point) and there were five teams ahead of the Rox. Since then the Padres and Cardinals have tanked, the Braves have struggled and fallen into the Wild Card, and while the Giants have played decent ball, our Rox don't seem too far away.

This week the pixie dust was flying. First U-Ball gets number 18, CarGo is talked about as a potential triple crown winner, Tulo's bat went crazy, Giambi's walkoff, and then the wackiest play you ever saw and that was a come from behind steal of home to seal the victory (or should I stay steal the victory?). Either way it has to be one of the greatest weeks in Rox history at least for defining heroes.

Now the question is what now? Rox have 19 games left (9 at home, 10 away) with Padres coming in this week. Ideally Rox sweep the Padres and dump them into 3rd place. We then go on the road to LA and Arizona, then back home against SF and LA with a final trip to St Louis. Perfect scenario would be for the Rox to take the Division lead after SF passes through Denver and then we pummel the Dodgers and then face St Louis and wave the Division title in Holliday's face! That would mark a great season. We then get Reds/Braves and then get Philadelphia in a seven game series for once. Although Phillies have a World Championship and have been to two World Series, remember the Rox put them in their place in 2007. It would be a nice bookend to end their run and get to the Series again, with home field advantage! Remember U-ball started the All Star game, it would be nice to see him start Game 1 of the World Series at Coors! Dream baby!

The Crazy Week That Was
First off Inside the Rockies saved me the time and effort and highlighted every Rox steal of home. Nelson's was the 15th and for the most part it was the first straight steal in Rox history although as Tracy Ringolsby explains EY Senior had one too but it was because a double steal didn't work. It would seem that the historian's had trouble discovering how rare a feat a straight steal of home by a rookie was. Either way Nelson gets his first MLB stolen base the hard way. I find it hard to believe, looking at the list, that Todd Helton has two swipes of home! Also interesting to see that 11/15 steals of home were in fact done at Home!

Last week after CarGo's insane early week performance (he pulled within 3 homers of the being the Triple Crown leader), the National news media jumped on the band wagon. Of course the primary moan against CarGo was his home and away splits. History would show that Rox hitters have always had a tough time proving that they should exist in any offensive discussion about a great season. A triple crown and possible MVP discussion would certainly bring the Coors Field Effect back into play. If somehow the Rox do make the playoffs I can't fathom that CarGo wouldn't be a front runner. Anyway the discussion last week was home and away splits and I thought maybe we should look at win and loss splits among the MVP leaders. See data below:

The NL numbers were determined taking win/loss splits of the NL up to this point in the year and then calculating the numbers for 130 games played (which was about the average number of games the three leaders had up to this point). After getting the data I am not for sure what I was really looking for. I think originally I was thinking that to be called a MVP and as part of being the most valuable player that somehow even when the team lost that said player would still put up huge numbers. So basically I was looking to see who had the best numbers when their team lost. As the numbers show all three players don't have very good numbers when their team loses. So it kind of makes my point moot in that when they play like MVPs their respective teams win. Big problem with CarGo was that he really didn't bat most of the year in a MVP spot (3rd of 4th in the order) and thus his numbers are somewhat different then the other two. It is pretty apparent that CarGo is a hacker. His dismal walk rate really affects his OBP but boy his slugging sure makes up for it. CarGo is pretty much a basher and probably be considered a Adam Dunn type batter (thank god he plays a better outfield!). In addition CarGo probably doesn't get much love for his speed and baserunning nor his outfield play. With 19 games to play he can certainly cement his position with a monster September!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

CarGo = MVP?

Wow today was the tipping point for the Colorado Rockies and Carlos Gonzalez. Affectionately known as CarGo, he has been up to this point, part of baseball's witness protection team. A snub at the All Star break, he lost out to Omar Infante of the Braves, because the NL manager basically wanted a life long AAAA player on his roster in case the game went to extra innings...yeah whatever!

Anyway the fray began quietly this morning when Joe Posnanski wrote on his blog the extreme road/away splits of CarGo. Gee nothing new because every great season by a Colorado player has been analyzed relentlessly (i.e. Walker, Bichette, and Holliday) and enough pundits have said that the Coors Field effect should dismiss any significant offense value (and of course this discounting won't help Ubaldo's Cy Young chances even though his season should be considered the greatest ever!)

Then later in the day we hear from Dave Cameron at FanGraphs denouncing much of CarGo'soffense at Coors because the run value at Coors is so inflated.

And then finally Rob Neyer weighed in as well...and then Rob twittered this link and then even on ESPN's Scott Van Pelt radio show, Scott himself even took time out of his busy football smatterings to discuss how insane CarGo has been recently.

So all in all a fantastic publicity day for our forgotten baseball team. Finally a player gets his due. At this juncture the only possibly way CarGo wins the MVP at this point is if the Rox make the playoffs. If that happens he is a shoe in otherwise forget about it. By the way if you read through the Joe Posnanski comments section you will find a incredible link with some amazing analysis. Who knew its the fastball that kills pitchers at Coors not the breaking stuff...AMAZING! Think about says a lot why Rox hitters are tame on the road...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rox Talk - Week 22

The Week That Was
A 4-3 week against the Giants, Phillies, and Padres. The Rox currently stand at 72-64. Four and half games back from division leading San Diego in third place and five and half games behind in the Wild Card chase. Currently 43-22 at home and 28-43 on the road, the Rox have outscored its opponents 635-591 (expected wins is 72 versus historical wins at 64). On pace for 86 wins with 756 runs scored and 704 runs against. Playoff indicator (Runs scored/Runs Against ratio) is 1.07 (>1.16 indicates high playoff potential).
A 4-3 week at this point would seem to equate to doom but three of those wins were against the division leading Padres and so only a week ago the Rox were eight out of the division title but now find themselves within striking distance especially with three more against both the Giants and Padres.

Rox are a resilient team. With the O's willing this team to the finish line. Tulo and CarGo have been monsters these last two weeks. Question is what can we do with 26 games left to play. Fortunately 16 of these are at home and only 10 left on the road (LA, Arizona, and St Louis). That final series in St Louis could be interesting especially if the team can make up some ground against the Reds. Of course it would be awfully nice to clinch a playoff berth in St Louis too since last year the Cards clinched at Coors.

What the Rest of World is Saying...

For the record, from '95 - 01, Rox won 231 of 558 games on the road versus 314 at home. From '03 - 09, Rox won 225 of 567 on the road versus 316 at home. Further analysis of the run scoring environment from '95 - 01, Rox scored 2319 runs and allowed 2598 (expected wins in 250) on the road versus 3973 runs scored and 3743 runs allowed (expected wins is 294) at home. From '03 - 09, Rox scored 2377 runs and allowed 2747 (expected wins is 246) on the road versus 3273 runs scored and 3037 runs allowed (expected wins is 303) at home. So the humidor has saved 1406 additional runs...pitchers thank you for that, although '95-01 was the height of the steroid era so who is to say the humidor has done anything?

Also of note is that the visitor's split of runs allowed at home versus at Coors from '95-01 averaged 164 difference. So this means our pitchers allowed 164 more runs at Coors then they did away from Coors. Since '03, this average has dropped to 41. Again one has to wonder is this because of the humidor or Rox understanding what type of pitcher succeeds at altitude? Unfortunately if you think having groundball pitchers matter the average GB/FB ratio for both periods of time comes out to be 0.85! So much for that theory...Perhaps it is just home grown talent understanding the mental challenges of pitching at altitude, too bad the offense can't figure out how to hit on the road