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:
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

Daily Distractions: This is a strike now, home opener tonight, Jamie Moyer comeback?

Here’s the set-up: Two outs, two strikes, bottom of the ninth inning. Joe Nathan is pitching for the Texas Rangers with a 5-4 lead over the Tampa Bay Rays. Nathan is stuck on 299 career saves. Home-plate umpire Marty Foster has a dinner bet riding on Nathan picking up number 300 tonight and his reservations are for 20 minutes after the final pitch.

OK, we made that last part up … or did we? Here’s where the pitch was relative to the strike zone (h/t MSimonESPN):

Joe Nathan strike

And here’s what the pitch looked like in real life:

Joe Nathan strike

Wait, watch that clip again.

 

Foster’s call reeked so foul of dinner-reservation theories, he second-guessed himself.

“I saw the pitch and, of course I don’t have the chance to do it again, but if I did, I wouldn’t call that pitch a strike,” Foster told a pool reporter after the game. “Joe [Maddon, the Rays' manager] was not violent. Joe was very professional. He was frustrated and I understand. He acted probably the best he can under that situation.”

Nathan didn’t disagree.

“It’s pretty safe to say we got fortunate, but I’ve seen plenty of them go the other way,” Nathan noted diplomatically. “I threw the pitch where I wanted to. He just didn’t offer at it like I wanted him to. Did I draw it up this way for my 300th? No, but I’ll take it.”

Not only did Maddon tweet about it, he still hasn’t deleted the tweet a day later.

The pitch wasn’t even framed well by catcher A.J. Pierzynski, as Jeff Sullivan points out in a very detailed FanGraphs piece.

Protect the outside corner as you peruse these links:

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

Daily Distractions: Astros already in the cellar, Kobayashi deal official, etc.

If there are 50 ways to leave your lover, there must be 50 more ways to put the Houston Astros’ paltry payroll in perspective.

Jed Lowrie recently signed a one-year, $2.4 million contract to become the team’s third-highest paid player (per Cots) and the fourth-highest if you include Phildelphia Phillies pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, who’s still owed a team-high $5 million by the Astros this season. On Monday Lowrie was traded to Oakland for Chris Carter and two minor-leaguers.

Yahoo now calculates that 20 players will make more money in 2013 than the entire Houston team, including Vernon Wells. A large payroll is no guarantee of success and a small payroll is no guarantee of failure. But FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal writes that the question is not where Houston will finish in its new division, but rather how many games it will lose en route to securing the top overall draft pick for the third straight year.

Welcome to the American League West, boys.

Onto the links …

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email