William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

Author Archives: William Tasker

Freddy Garcia does something remarkable

There is a lot of scientific stuff in the article about spin and the smooth part of the ball and the seams. The bottom line, it seems, is that Garcia at times throws a pitch that moves in the opposite way normal versions of the split-fingered pitch should move. According to the article, one physicist spent hours looking at the pitch frame by frame from video and even wrote a scientific paper about his findings. That link can be found within the article noted.

The article and the findings by the physicists does perhaps explain how Freddy Garcia can strikeout 6.2 major league batters per nine innings despite having absolutely nothing on the ball and a fastball that, on a really good day, can reach 87 miles per hour. Getting swings and misses is more than just speed. It is also throwing a pitch the batter does not expect with movement the batter cannot detect. The article quotes Chris Stewart and Russell Martin and they confirm that Garcia does throw this remarkable pitch with somewhat regularity.…

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August 3, 1998

The game featured a pitching match-up of Orlando Hernandez and Mike Oquist. Hernandez was in the middle of a run that would make him the toast of New York. The Yankees had signed the recent 32 year old Cuban defector back in March and Hernandez entered this contest with a record of 5-3. He would only lose one more game the rest of the season. Mike Oquist was heading in a different direction. Oquest was a 32nd round draft choice of the Orioles way back in 1989 and beat the odds to pitch in the majors beginning with the Orioles in 1993 and later with Oakland starting in 1997. Oquist entered this contest having coughed up six runs a piece to the Red Sox and Blue Jays in his previous two starts.

The temperature was a warm 87 degrees with a light breeze.  Tim Tschida was the umpire behind the plate and a little more than 18,000 fans showed up to watch the contest.…

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A historical perspective on Jeter and Cano

One of the ways fun is had from this seat is using the stat sites to make lists. Just yesterday, a list was created to find the ten worst wOBA scores for Yankees since 1961 with a minimum of 1,000 plate appearances. The thought was that 1,000 plate appearances gave the player at least two equivalents to full seasons to prove how bad a hitter he was. The data includes the time with the Yankees only and not with other clubs. The list came out to look like this from lowest to highest:

  1. Fred Stanley – 1,157 plate appearances, .269 wOBA (1973 – 1980)
  2. Gene Michael – 2,659, .270  (1968 – 1974)
  3. Alvaro Espinoza – 1,528, .270  (1988 – 1991)
  4. Jake Gibbs – 1,795, .274  (1962 – 1971)
  5. Sandy Alomar- 1,005, .278  (1974 – 1976)
  6. Bucky Dent – 2,429, .282  (1977 –  1982)
  7. Bobby Richardson – 4,217, .286  (1961 – 1966) **started career in 1955
  8. Bob Meacham – 1,591, .288  (1983 – 1988)
  9. Tony Kubek – 2,251, -289  (1961-1965)  **started career in 1957
  10. Horace Clarke – 5,143, .289  (1965 – 1974)

As you can see from that list, only Gibbs was not a middle infielder.…

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What to expect from Casey McGehee

So what do we expect from McGehee? That is hard to peg as he has been a National League player for his entire career. He has played for the Cubs, Brewers and Pirates. McGehee was acquired mostly to serve as a stopgap for Alex Rodriguez at third with A-Rod out for six to eight weeks with a fractured bone in his hand. McGehee will likely platoon with Eric Chavez at third and the duo will give the Yankees very good defense at that corner no matter who plays. McGehee has had very positive fielding metrics the past two seasons. He had a low fielding percentage in 2011 with twenty errors, but his overall fielding was still regarded as above league standard.

So, McGehee will hold his own on defense. What about offense? His splits the last couple of seasons have strongly favored his right-handed bat against left-handed pitching. But his overall career numbers show a much closer balance between the splits.…

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Nova flames out. Yankees lose to O’s, 11-5

It seemed from this angle that the game’s balanced changed with Mark Reynold’s at bat in the top of the second. Nova had started the inning by allowing consecutive singles to Adam Jones and Matt Wieters. Nova then blew away both Lew Ford and Wilson Betemit on strikeouts. It looked like he was going to get out of the inning as he had Mark Reynolds, one of the most prolific strikeout batters in history, down 0-2 in the count. Nova and Martin had a little conference to decide what the next pitch would be. It would be a terrible decision. Nova threw the flattest of sliders and Reynolds punished it for a ground rule double to left. Here is pictorial proof of how bad that pitch was (from Brooks Baseball):

From there the floodgates opened and Nova could not hold back the flood. Omar Quintanilla singled to score two. Nick Markakis singled and J.J. Hardy walked to load the bases.…

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Some thoughts from the Red Sox series

– As faithful reader, Jay Robertston, stated in a recent comment, the Yankees have reached a tipping point with their outfield defense. Granderson’s gaffe was awful on Saturday night and makes this writer look totally stupid for defending his defense the other day. And Andruw Jones could not have had a worse game in the outfield yesterday. Watching Jones play outfield is sort of like watching Joe Namath after he left the Jets. It is obvious that this once gifted outfielder could not run down a racing president at a Nationals game. Hopefully Swisher will return tonight and Ichiro Suzuki will end the misery in left.

Derek Jeter looked almost rangy in two plays yesterday up the middle. One he converted into an out and the second was victimized by too speedy a runner. It was still nice to see.

– It was a few weeks back when the Yankees had several runners thrown out at the plate, or is the memory mistaken?…

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Lindy McDaniel

There is nothing in Lindy McDaniel‘s composite stats that make you shiver with delight. His 3.45 ERA sounds pedestrian. His career 1.272 WHIP sounds ordinary. He gave up his share of hits. The only thing his stats show us is a long and reliable career where he consistently took the ball and threw for as long as you wanted him to throw the ball. For example, in 1973, one of the years mentioned in the first paragraph, Lindy pitched 47 times, 44 of them in relief. He finished the game as the team’s last pitcher 32 times. And yet he threw 160.2 innings! His record that year was 12-6 with ten saves AND a complete game start.

It was one of those games in 1973 that stands out more than any other. The date was August 4, 1973 in a game against the Detroit Tigers. Ralph Houk’s Yankees were only a half a game out of first place and faced Billy Martin in the opposite dugout.…

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Grappling with Granderson’s fielding stats

Granderson is a case where these old eyes do not get where the metrics are coming from. These eyes watched a lot of Bernie Williams in center and Granderson runs circles around Bernie. And yet, not only is Granderson ranked dead last among major league center fielders, he is dead last by a huge margin. His defensive metrics are downright Bernie-like.

Now people are always saying to not get wrapped up in just one year’s fielding data. They say to look at chunks of three years. Okay. Let’s do that. His first year with the Yankees was positive according to all the major sites. But last year’s fielding valuation threw Granderson under the bus and this year is heading in even deeper chasms than last. So the three year trend is sinking faster than Best Buy’s profit margin. And look at his UZR, which currently sits at -16.8. Of all qualifying center fielders, that is more than ten points worse than the second worse guy.…

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Yankees cannot solve King Felix, lose 4-2. A-Rod hurt

Freddy Garcia pitched a good game if you look at his stats casually. But if you give up three runs to a team that has difficulty scoring and has John Jaso as its cleanup hitter, do those three runs count more like five? To be sure, he ended much better than he started. After Granderson gave the Yankees the quick lead in the top of the first, Garcia gave the run right back as Michael Saunders hit a bomb way out to right. Garcia then struck out the side in the second after a lead off single.  But he did not fare as well in the third and in the end, it was the third inning that cost the Yankees the game.

Brendan Ryan started the inning with a grounder up the middle that kicked off of Garcia’s foot. By the time the ball got to A-Rod, it was too late to make a play. After a deep fly ball to right, Michael Saunders hit a sharp single to right.…

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