Monday, August 18, 2008

Pitching Trivia Quiz

Q: Who was the last member of each franchise to lead the league in wins?

Atlanta Braves
a. Greg Maddux
b. John Smoltz
c. Russ Ortiz
d. Tim Hudson

Chicago Cubs
a. Greg Maddux
b. Kerry Wood
c. Ferguson Jenkins
d. Carlos Zambrano

Cincinnati Reds
a. Aaron Harang
b. Bronson Arroyo
c. Danny Jackson
d. Tom Seaver

Los Angeles Dodgers
a. Derek Lowe
b. Hideo Nomo
c. Brad Penny
d. both a & b
e. both a & c

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Trivia Quiz

I was watching the Braves-Giants game on Wednesday and paid particular attention to the AFLAC Trivia Question (how is it possible to sponsor every MLB trivia question on every network in America?).
Anyhow, with Tim Lincecum pitching for the Giants, the question was: "Who was the last Giant pitcher to lead the league in strikeouts?"
That's a tough one. The Giants haven't had a lot of power pitchers over the past 50 years or so. I'm the former team captain of my high school academic team, so I have some expertise in this area (trivia/miscellany/too much free time). First, I look at the current squad and count back. The only names of big winners from recent squads that popped up were Jason Schmidt and Russ Ortiz. Schmidt was a possibility, but I didn't think he ever actually led the league. (The play-by-play man picked him anyhow.) And Ortiz was never a big strikeout guy.
Then I start going back by eras, using any postseason appearances as benchmarks. Who were the Giants' pitchers on their 1987 and 1989 teams? The only names that came up were Bill Swift, Mike Krukow, and Atlee Hammaker. Good pitchers, but not dominant. I did remember that John Burkett had a big career year in the mid-90's, but that was due to wins, not actual dominance.
The Giants had a lot of good pitchers in the 70's, despite the fact that they did most of their winning on other teams. Gaylord Perry? Not enough of a K man. And I couldn't think of the other key Giants pitchers from the 70's. I remembered John Montefusco, who won the Rookie of the Year with a big season one year and then faded away. He became my default choice. I could have sworn there was some other big Giant rookie around that time, but I couldn't place a name (I was thinking of Mike McCormick, but he wasn't the guy).
That left the 1960's, and it was a stretch for me to believe that a team as good as the Giants hadn't had a pitcher lead the league in strikeouts since then. Juan Marichal was The Man for the Giants in the 60's, but I seem to remember that he never actually led the league in K's, mainly because he was up against Koufax and Gibson.
Okay. Now I know for sure that Carl Hubbell led the league in strikeouts back in the 1930's. But surely somebody has done it since then? The answer I settled on was Montefusco, but with some misgivings.

The answer?

Bill Voiselle in 1944.

The announcers playfully chided their trivia guru for giving them such an impossible question. I marveled at the fact that the Giants had had so many good teams since 1944 without having a real ace, Marichal excepted. You could maybe count Gaylord Perry or Jason Schmidt, but they didn't stick around for long.

Out of this, I came up with a great idea for a trivia quiz. Ask the same question for every major league franchise, and not just for strikeouts; for several key stats. It’s the sort of thing for someone with too much spare time, so here I go. And I’ve decided to include you in on the fun.

I submitted my own answers to the question. I’ll reveal my answers, along with the real ones, at the end of the entry:

Q: Who was the last member of each franchise to lead the league in batting average?

Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves
a. Hank Aaron
b. Rico Carty
c. Chipper Jones
d. Terry Pendleton

Chicago Cubs
a. Ernie Banks
b. Derrek Lee
c. Billy Williams
d. Ryne Sandberg

Cincinnati Reds
a. Pete Rose
b. Joe Morgan
c. Barry Larkin
d. Tony Perez

Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers
a. Steve Garvey
b. Willie Davis
c. Jackie Robinson
d. Tommy Davis

Monday, August 04, 2008

AL Central After the Deadline

[Blog deleted because Blogger's blog-writing interface is a piece of crap.]

Most everyone knows the frustration of writing a letter, paper, or essay, and then having it accidentally deleted. Well, we all know most of the ways to avoid this, and most word processing software has come up with failsafes against it.

Not Blogger.

You know how, in a word processor, you can highlight stuff? And then if you push the arrow key right, or down, it takes you to the end of the highlighted portion? Well, on Blogger, they've added a special feature; if you highlight a selection and push an arrow key, it interprets that as "erase."

I was just finishing up my 3-4 hours of work on the AL Central entry. I pushed the letter "A", and accidentally hit "Ctrl" at the same time. This highlighted the entire entry. So when I pushed the next key (a millisecond later), it was all gone.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Deadline

Cincinnati Reds trade Ken Griffey, Jr. to Chicago White Sox for 2B Danny Richar and P Nick Masset
Joe Sheehan, Baseball Prospectus:

Now, there are a lot of permutations here, and not a single one looks attractive. Neither Dye nor Quentin is equipped to move to center field for more than an inning or so. Griffey isn't remotely a center fielder any longer, and an outfield featuring those three in any configuration, well, you probably can hear Javier Vazquez's teeth grinding as he contemplates the idea. You can't sit Thome, who's a better hitter than Griffey. If you give Konerko's playing time to Griffey, you force either Swisher to first base, Griffey to the outfield and Vazquez to a dentist, or Thome to
first base. The Sox have had Thome don a glove four times in three seasons, and if they go that route, they run the risk of off-field drama as Konerko adjusts to the bench and his legions of fans in Chicago go nuts. Keep something else in mind: the only one of the five players Griffey is better than, and even this is arguable, is Konerko.
The Sox gave up so little that you can't fault them for making the deal, but it's not clear what it does for them.

Sheehan is right on the mark. I can't say how Griffey really makes the White Sox better. I would also argue that Griffey is not better -- at this point in his career -- than Paul Konerko. Griffey, 38 years old, was hitting 245/355/432 in a good hitter's park in the worst division in the worst league. As a right fielder, Griffey was -11 Fielding Runs Above Average, making him one of the worst defensive right fielders in the NL. Konerko, 32 years old, was hitting 214/312/349. Even considering the difference in leagues, Konerko's offense was worse, yes. But he was also a perfectly average defensive first baseman, whereas Griffey was a liability. Konerko hit 259/351/490 last year, so what we're seeing from him is a slump, whereas Griffey is nearing the end of his career.