Tuesday, October 5, 2010

THANKS TO RICK SANCHEZ, IT ONLY TAKES ONE MORE FOR THIS TO BE AN OFFICIAL TREND:  A caller to a Tampa radio station asks whether the only reason James Shields is starting in the Division Series** is because he, like the owners, is Jewish.  (He's not.)

** This post originally called it the "LDS," but that's way confusing.


  1. isaac_spaceman9:14 PM

    James Shields 2010 ERA:  5.18
    James Shields 2010 FIP:  4.24
    James Shields 2010 xFIP:  3.72

    James Shields career BABIP against: .316
    James Shields 2010 BABIP against: .354

    James Shields career LOB%:  71.3%
    James Shields 2010 LOB%:  68.4%

    Pitched pretty well this year, that unlucky Jew. 

  2. Adlai9:15 PM

    Ok, my guess as to what "LDS" stood for was drastically off. Would have made it a more interesting story, though.

  3. isaac_spaceman9:25 PM

    I have that exact reaction every time Spacewoman says she has to call [Legal Document Services], her firm's acronym for word processing. 

  4. Should I spell it out, or keep the ambiguity?

  5. Robin9:54 PM

    I still read "LDS" at Latter-Day Saints, which at some time as the PC way to say "Mormon."  And that made this item VERY confusing.

  6. ChinMusic12:00 AM

    These stats raise so many questions.  First, I am shocked that his numbers would be better independent of his defense.  Isn't Tampa considered to have a good defense that gets to a ton of balls in the outfield and limits doubles and triples?  Also, the guy led the league (meaning the most) in allowing earned runs, hits and home runs.  His ERA+ was 76 and he had a -1.3 WAR.  Can all that be explained by luck?  At what point does a difference in BABIP become significant, anyway?  He faced 899 batters, 5 were HBP, 187 struck out, 2 were intentionally walked, 51 walked and 34 hit home runs.  That leaves 620 who put the ball in play.  A difference of .038 in BABIP for those 620 batters translates to 23.56 extra hits over the course of the season, or one every 8.6 innings he pitched.  Is giving up an extra hit every nine innings or so enough to have a meaningful impact on a season?  Is there anything to be gleaned from the fact that the ball wasn't being put in play against him as much this year, as Shields set full season career highs for K/9, BB/9 and HR/9?  In fact, despite having the lowest IP of his four full seasons, Shields set career highs in runs, earned runs, hits, home runs, strikeouts, HBP and wild pitches and was only 1 walk shy of his career high.  Maybe he struggled with his control, which put him in a lot of counts where he had to throw fastballs over the plate.  I don't know what any of these numbers mean in a practical sense, but they probably have nothing to do with the caller's belief that Shields is Jewish. (aren't we supposed to say the whole word?)

  7. When I worked for a major department store chain (rhymes with Bowls) as a person who operated a cash register I was a "Point of Sale Associate."  Well, everybody was an "associate" so we were just called POSes.  NEVER failed to crack my dad up.  "So, Amy, how's life as a POS?"  And, yes, we had a POS manager and POS contests and so forth...

  8. bill.6:19 AM

    Leviticus Derangement Syndrome?

  9. Joseph J. Finn9:10 AM

    Huh.  I would have gone with the ALDS myself, but I can see the confusion with the original.<span> </span>

  10. Adam C.10:00 AM

    I grew up in Tampa.  This story fails to surprise on two levels:  1) the caller's ultimate conclusion/belief system, and 2) the general lack of an understanding at anything other than base level "Did we win or lose?" for any major sport.

  11. isaac_spaceman11:43 AM

    From what I'm reading, Shields's velocity is not down, and though his walks are up, they're still pretty good (fewer than 3 per 9).  LOB% makes a very big difference, and that's basically all luck.  BABIP could trend (and for Shields, has trended up), though usually it correlates with a loss of velocity or deterioration of one pitch, and that doesn't appear to be the case here.  So a lot really does just look like luck. 

    Some of it may not be.  There's an excellent article at draysbay.com that looks into Shields's home run problems this year.  The upshot is that Shields is having problems spotting his fastball in late innings, and as a result is vulnerable to late-inning home runs off fastballs over the middle of the plate (especially first-pitch fastballs).  Sample size is pretty small once we're talking about these kinds of things, but there at least is some data to support an argument that the difference between FIP and xFIP is performance-based, not just randomness. 

    But while Shields maybe isn't the top-tier pitcher his xFIP might suggest, there's also enough there to indicate that he's much better than the pitcher that you would expect if you loved ERA (and hated the Jews).