Daily Distractions: Caving to the #whiff, like the rest of Major League Baseball.

There’s an episode of The Simpsons in which Krusty the Clown agreed to give away a free Krusty Burger if the United States won gold at certain events in the 1984 Olympics. When the Soviet Union boycotted the Games, Krusty stood to lose $44 million.

For some reason I was reminded of this episode when this came through my Twitter feed this morning:

CJ Wilson ad

Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson is a pitchman for Head & Shoulders’ hashtag-friendly “Season of the Whiff”.

You see, Procter & Gamble is donating $1 to the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) campaign every time a Major League Baseball player strikes out this season. To raise awareness of its Head & Shoulders shampoo brand, P&G is encouraging fans to tweet the hashtag #whiff along with the hashtag of your favorite team.

According to AdAge.com, Head & Shoulders spent $60 million in measured media last year, so MLB’s record strikeout rate probably won’t leave the company’s executives pulling their hair out like Krusty. Which is good, since bald shampoo executives can’t exactly offer a ringing endorsement of their product.

I’ll be here all week.

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Daily Distractions: The ugly signifiance of 9-15 for the Angels.

Josh Hamilton

The Angels couldn’t come back from a 9-15 start last year. Will Josh Hamilton make the difference this year? (Associated Press photo)

The Angels are 9-15.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because that was the Angels’ record on May 1 of last year — otherwise known as The Day The Angels Turned It Around A Little Too Late.

The Angels went 80-58 after May 1, 2012. Will that be enough for them to catch at least two of the three teams ahead of them in the American League West standings? (And would a wild-card berth even be a satisfying outcome for this team?)

History says the answer is no.

Sports Illustrated’s Jay Jaffe wrote today about the Toronto Blue Jays’ odds of overcoming their 9-17 start, which leaves them a distant fifth in the American League East. He threw out a series of dire stats, all of which are applicable to the Angels:

• Since 1995, the first year that the postseason included wild card entrants, only six teams have gone 11-15 or worse through their first 26 games and still made the playoffs. That’s six out of 146 (4.0 percent) who either won the division or a wild card spot.

• Only one of the six teams, the 2001 A’s, had a worse record than the Blue Jays [and Angels] at this juncture, yet they still finished with more than 100 wins, offering a sliver of hope that Toronto might still be a juggernaut.

• Three of the six reached the postseason by securing wild card slots (something that’s even easier now given the expanded format that added two playoff teams last year). Two of those teams, the 2005 Astros and 2007 Rockies, went on to win pennants, though they were both swept in the World Series.

Any way you look at it, the Angels’ odds aren’t good. If you desire a dose of optimism, Baseball Prospectus still gives the Angels a 37 percent chance of making the playoffs, and a 3.7 percent chance of winning the World Series. Study the chart, and BP’s simulated seasons also acknowledge that the Angels are in a really tough division.

My Monday bullet points:
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Angels trade Chris Snyder to Baltimore Orioles for Rob Delaney.

Rob DelaneyThe Angels acquired another relief pitcher Sunday, trading minor-league catcher Chris Snyder to the Baltimore Orioles for right-hander Rob Delaney.

Delaney, 28, has five games of major-league experience with the Twins and Rays, all out of the bullpen. His numbers aren’t impressive: Eight walks, three strikeouts and seven earned runs in six innings — a 10.50 earned-run average. With the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate, the Norfolk Tides, Delaney was 0-1 with nine hits and six earned runs in 5 ⅓ innings (a 10.13 ERA) this season.

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Daily Distractions: Where Hank Conger shines on defense; Yu Darvish gif, etc.

Hank Conger C.J. Wilson

One aspect of Hank Conger’s defense has been surprisingly pleasant to watch this season. (Getty Images)

One of the Angels’ catchers is among the top five in the league at framing pitches.

Who would have guessed it’s Hank Conger?

Oh, and the Angels’ starter, Chris Iannetta, is among the bottom five.

Treat everything you read in today’s Baseball Prospectus article with the caution due a 21-game sample size — four, if you include only the games Conger has caught. But there was a point in spring training where merely making an late, accurate throw to second base was enough to lift Conger’s spirits, and this article sheds light on another area of his progress defensively.

Conger hasn’t made an error yet this year. That isn’t to say all his throws have been accurate; some have short-hopped an infielder but were caught anyway and didn’t go down as an error. (None have short-hopped the pitcher.)

For all the nuances that go into fielding the catcher’s position, framing pitches is an easy one to miss. It’s dependent on the pitcher (to find the corners of the plate) and the umpire (to be swayed into calling a pitch based on how it’s received), in addition to the catcher.

Some more recommended reading for a Sierra Leone independence day weekend:

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