Xander Bogaerts back on pace to reach 200 hits, win AL batting title

Back on Wednesday morning, I showed that Xander Bogaerts and Miguel Cabrera were hitting at paces that would cause Bogaerts to (most likely) surpass Cabrera for the AL batting title. Though I didn’t mention it at the time, these projections also showed that he’d reach 200 hits even if he sat out a couple of games, and a few more than that if he played all the remaining games. After a pair of low-hit games knocked Bogaerts off that pace, his 3-for-4 performance last night has put him right back on it.

In trying to project future totals using “the pace at which a player is producing right now”, how many games do you use to determine what that pace is? The last 5? The last 10? 20?

I circumvent that question by using all of them … I calculate his pace of production over his last 5, 6, 7, 8, etc. games, then use that pace applied over the remaining number of games to be played to see what final numbers he’s headed for. This gives a big collection of possible final numbers; you then choose one in the middle.

On Wednesday I did that for Cabrera and Bogaerts using their paces of production as established by their last 8, 9, 10, etc. up to their last 20 games. That gave 13 paces of production for each player. I then applied these to their remaining games assuming they’d not sit out any games, and then again assuming they’d each sit out two games. I got these results:

If playing all remaining games
Bogaerts Cabrera
Low 0.327 0.324
Median 0.329 0.326
High 0.332 0.331
If sitting out two games
Bogaerts Cabrera
Low 0.327 0.326
Median 0.329 0.328
High 0.331 0.332

In all but one of these 26 projections, Bogaerts would end up with at least 200 hits.

I just updated these numbers, and now they look like this:

If playing all remaining games
Bogaerts Cabrera
Low 0.327 0.325
Median 0.329 0.326
High 0.330 0.332
If sitting out two games
Bogaerts Cabrera
Low 0.327 0.327
Median 0.328 0.328
High 0.329 0.332

Here are Bogaerts’ projected numbers of hits:

Bogaerts projected 2015 hits
# of recent games used If playing all games If sitting two games
20 204.0 200.8
19 203.3 200.2
18 203.0 200.0
17 203.3 200.2
16 203.6 200.5
15 204.0 200.8
14 205.1 201.7
13 204.9 201.5
12 203.8 200.7
11 204.4 201.1
10 204.0 200.8
9 204.7 201.3
8 204.3 201.0

Longer term projections (based on his last 40 or more games) almost all have him finishing with 200 hits exactly if he sits out 2 games, 203 hits if he plays all remaining games, and a .327 average.

If they play it out, and stay on pace, Bogaerts probably will win the batting title and will get to 200 hits.

Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com for the gamelog data I used for this article.


Who should AL Player of the Month be, Encarnacion or Bradley?

To think about who should be the American League player of the Month for August, we could start by looking at those with the highest OPS on the month (and at least 50 plate appearances):

 Encarnacion, E TOR 1B 23 86 23 35 11 0 11 35 9 15 0 0 0.407 0.460 0.919 1.379
 Ortiz, D BOS DH 26 91 17 32 8 0 9 22 16 17 0 0 0.352 0.432 0.736 1.169
 Bradley, J BOS CF 26 79 23 28 9 3 5 23 11 24 3 0 0.354 0.429 0.734 1.163
 Donaldson, J TOR 3B 27 105 29 34 7 1 11 35 16 25 2 0 0.324 0.408 0.724 1.132
 Gutierrez, F SEA LF 19 62 12 21 4 0 7 20 4 19 0 0 0.339 0.388 0.742 1.130

Based on offense alone, you have to pick Encarnacion, though Ortiz, Bradley, and Donaldson all show very well here. But can defense close the gap? Not for Ortiz, the DH, but maybe for Jackie Bradley Jr., the defensive wiz in the outfield. Now I haven’t seen Encarnacion’s defense this month, but I have to wonder, how likely is he to have made plays at first base in August like this catch:

Bradley Jr.’s incredible catch

or this catch:

Statcast: Bradley’s great grab

or this throw:

Statcast: Bradley Jr. gets Bird

or this catch:

Must C: Bradley Jr.’s great grab

or this throw:

Bradley Jr. nabs Sanchez

or this catch:

Bradley runs in for catch

or this throw:

Bradley Jr.’s throw nabs Infante

or this catch and throw:

Bradley’s running catch

Given the game-changing, run-saving nature of Bradley’s defense so many times in August, that has to propel him squarely into a two-person discussion for who should be AL player of the Month for August.

Do you think the pick should be Encarnacion, Bradley, or someone else?

You should be out if your broken bat interferes with fielding a ball in play

I have long been troubled by the sight of an infielder in baseball trying to field a ball when pieces of the hitter’s bat are flying out onto the baseball field. Usually things end up the way they should, with the routine outs becoming outs, and the hits becoming hits. But just the same I often see a fielder hesitating to approach the ball in these cases, and I don’t think they should have to. The fielder shouldn’t have to choose between assuring his safety from being injured by flying wooden shards and making the play. That’s why I’d like to see a rule change to prevent having to make that choice.

Some years ago in an online forum I suggested that in such situations, the batter should be called out for interference. Specifically, if the batter’s bat or any portion of his bat interferes with or impedes a fielder’s ability to field a ball batted in fair territory, this by the judgement of the umpires, then the batter is out. There are already interference rules in the books; this would just extend them in what I think is a sensible way, which in my view is consistent with the existing interference rules. I’m making the call for this change again. Hopefully it will not only help fielders stay safe, but may also reduce the brittleness of some bats in use, so that we see fewer broken bats in the first place. Right now, there really isn’t a deterrent to using bats that are prone to breaking; it’s time to create one.

Jon Lester breaks record for hitting futility

Until today, nobody had ever gone more than 57 at bats into their career without a hit (at least in the last 101 years).  Having gone 0 for 2 today, Jon Lester has now gone 59 at bats without a hit; he’s 0-for-59 on his career.

Here’s the new top 15 list, by at bats, of hitless streaks to begin a career since 1914.

Name Team(s) Pos PA AB First hitless game Last hitless game Hitless Games RBI SO BB HBP SH SF
Jon Lester BOS-OAK-CHC P 66 59 6/16/2006 5/27/2015 25 1 35 1 0 5 1
Joey Hamilton SDP P 66 57 5/24/1994 6/3/1995 24 1 34 2 0 6 1
Ron Herbel SFG P 63 55 5/6/1964 5/11/1965 27 0 36 2 0 6 0
Marv Breuer NYY P 57 to 60 47 to 49 4/27/1940 9/4/1940 20 1 22 or 23 4 or 5 0 6
Luke Walker PIT P 56 48 4/18/1966 4/18/1970 27 2 29 2 0 6 0
Don Carman PHI P 53 48 9/13/1984 5/11/1987 28 0 21 0 0 5 0
Fred Gladding DET-HOU P 49 47 7/1/1961 7/5/1969 40 0 27 0 0 2 0
Chris Short PHI P 45 44 4/19/1959 6/24/1961 26 0 19 0 0 1 0
Randy Tate NYM P 47 41 4/14/1975 9/18/1975 23 0 22 1 0 5 0
Pat Jarvis ATL P 45 41 8/13/1966 6/12/1967 18 1 24 2 0 2 0
Miguel Batista CHC-MON P 43 41 8/11/1997 9/25/1998 24 0 26 0 0 2 0
Steve Stone SFG P 50 40 4/8/1971 5/16/1972 24 2 22 6 0 4 0
Roberto Hernandez CLE-TBR-PHI P 47 40 6/12/2007 6/18/2014 22 0 21 0 0 7 0
Denny Neagle PIT P 47 40 4/21/1992 5/16/1994 25 0 11 0 0 7 0
Mike Cuellar CIN-STL-HOU P 42 40 4/18/1959 4/25/1966 21 0 20 1 0 1 0

I do have posts on things other than Jon Lester’s hitless streak in the works, I promise.


Jon Lester on verge of record for hitting futility

In a post I made on opening day, I showed that, going back as far as Baseball-Reference.com has records (1914), Jon Lester was tied for the 22nd longest string of at bats to start a career without a hit at 36 (and tied for 19th when going by plate appearances at 43).  Now in the national league, he has quickly ascended these lists, going 0-for-18 on the season to take sole possession of third place on the list.  His 54 at bats and 61 plate appearances without a hit are exceeded only by second-place Ron Herbel , at 55 AB and 63 PA (in 1964 and 1965), and first-place Joey Hamilton, at 57 AB and 66 PA (in 1994 and 1995).

Jon Lester pitches tonight for the Cubs.  A hitless performance tonight puts him in second place, and may tie him for first.  I’m sure it’s not a record he wants, but perhaps it speaks to his high value as a pitcher.

UPDATE:  Jon Lester went 0 for 3, tying the record for most at bats to start a career without a hit.

My previous mathematically-oriented baseball posts

I’ve been away for a while.  But I’m returning.

Where have I been the past year?  Mostly over here, and sometimes commenting over here.  But during that year, I’ve done a lot of mathematics to study questions I had about the baseball I was reading about and following, and some of that has filtered into some of those posts.  I thought I’d provide a selection here of some of the more interesting ones.  Some of these contain hints to posts I plan on putting up here in the coming weeks, posts that will include discussions of the math of streaks, and just how much a small sample size actually tells us.  There will be other new topics too, not previewed in any of these posts.  Stay tuned.

Here is that selection of my mathematically-oriented posts of the last year or so:

A post from August 2014 explaining why batting 15 points above league average is sometimes actually hitting at league average. This in the context of examining one upcoming player.

A comment titled “Expected frequency of reverse platoon splits exceeds the actual numbers” to the article “Are reverse platoon splits sustainable?” on Beyond The Box Score. In this comment (scroll to the bottom of the comments section) I used binomial theory to come up with what would be the expected number of players, based on random chance alone, having a reverse platoon split in on-base percentage for the years 2012 and 2013. I show that the actual numbers were less than the numbers you’d expect by random chance, seeming to indicate that reverse platoon splits are unsustainable.

A comment titled “No, because starters face more batters” to the article “The Hidden Perfect Games of Relievers” on Beyond The Box Score. In this comment (scroll to the next-to-last comment), after making two points about the right way to compare starters and relievers for the purpose of the article, I discussed my first attempts at producing an expected number of “wrap-around” perfect games that will occur in a given season for starters and relievers, to help clarify any meaning that might be attached to the reported results. I did complete that work, which I plan to publish later on this blog, in a post about the math of streaks.

A post from September 2014 that argues that a certain young player is better than his overall numbers say he is, by analyzing his advancement as a hitter at each new level he played at.

A post from September 2013 explaining why one baseball team’s chances of making the playoffs were ridiculously close to, but not quite exactly, 100%.

A post from later in September 2013 which explains (in more detail than anyone probably cared to read) why that same baseball team’s chances of having home-field advantage were about 7 out of 11 (washing dishes at night gave me a lot of time to listen to baseball and think about this stuff).

Nobody backed into this wildcard spot!

Wow, what a finish in the AL wildcard race.  The Indians winning their last 10 games, and needing every one of those wins to take the top wild card spot, as the Rays and Rangers both went 8-2 at the end (the Rangers with a 7-game winning streak of their own).  This is the way you want to see a playoff race finish … lots of winning!

Reminds me a bit of the Rockies’ mad dash to the playoffs at the end of the 2007 season.  They had to win, I believe, 13 of their last 14 to tie for the wildcard spot.  It was exciting to watch!

Predictions:  The Rays are a stong team, but weaker on the road.  The Rangers have been impressive how they’ve turned things around at the end of the season, turning a big slump into a big winning streak.  I’m inclined to give the Rangers the edge here given their home field advantage and momentum, but the fact that the Rays have David Price pitching gives me pause.  At times this season he’s been lights-out, and though lately he’s been just consistently good, I have to think for a big game like this you’ll see him pitching well.  Slight edge to the Rays because of Price.  Should Price get injured before he’s done, edge goes back to the Rangers.

As for the following matchup with the Indians, I give the edge to the Indians.  They’re a good team with a manager that knows about getting into and through the postseason, in Terry Francona.  They’re on a roll and they’ll have a very partisan crowd in their favor, as their Wednesday wildcard game is already sold out, and their opponent is yet to be determined.

But in the end, the ALCS will be between the Red Sox and the A’s.  Let’s just hope for a lot of fun baseball to watch on the way there!

My prediction: wrong!

Well, no opening day HR for Big Papi.  I was wrong.

No excuses, right?  But I feel I must state:

I envisioned a day game.  Who the heck plays their opening day game at night?  The Red Sox have never done so in their entire history!  So I’m curious to see how he does in the first day game, as I believe he does better in day games.

I didn’t realize he’d be facing possibly the toughest lefty in the game.

They didn’t throw him much near the strike zone.  He got one pretty hittable pitch by my recollection, slightly up and in.  Jammed him, but when he’s on his game he destroys that pitch.

I’ll be watching carefully to see if he can launch one in his next couple of day games.  Hoping he does.

About this blog

Tomisphere On Baseball will be a blog expressing anything I’m thinking about matters relating to professional baseball, especially Major League Baseball, and with extra focus on the Boston Red Sox and the Colorado Rockies.  I grew up in the Boston area, and have lived in the Denver area since 1999, and follow both teams.

Before creating this blog, I put baseball related posts on my MySpace blog, at http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.viewCategory&FriendID=102632058&BlogCategoryID=23

The Will of the Baseball Gods – a postseason prediction

Here is a prediction for the postseason in 2008:

I believe the Baseball Gods will make their feelings about the ending of Yankee Stadium known this autumn by sending the Red Sox and the Cubs to the World Series.

That would mean that this year, the World Series would be played in the only two parks in baseball that are older than Yankee Stadium, and the only other parks built before 1961.  These three are the only remaining parks to have seen the likes of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe Dimaggio and Ted Williams.

There is a place for these older parks in this game.  They are our most tangible connection to the years gone by when the game of baseball was made great.  The Baseball Gods will want us to know that a move to the newer is not necessarily a move to the better.