In Defense of the Flyball (starring 2011 NL Cy Young, Ian Kennedy)

The discussion generated by Josh’s insightful post on Derek Jeter’s “groundball problem” got me thinking about a burgeoning trend in sabermetrics, one which has been avidly embraced by the MLB establishment.  Put simply: Groundballs are good.  Flyballs are bad.  (For pitchers, that is.)

Groundball Rate is now one of the “dashboard” stats listed at the top of player pages on FanGraphs, alongside conventional stats like wins and ERA, as wells as popular “new” metrics like xFIP, WAR, and BABIP.  In the inaugural version of a rotisserie league sponsored by SABR, one of the metrics on which we are judged is GB/FB ratio.  Pitchers like Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson, and Brandon Webb are frequently commended for their ability to induce grounders (and therefore, presumably, double plays).  Their success (including sizable paydays) has helped make the groundball-provoking sinker a wildly popular pitch, especially for prospects with otherwise mediocre fastballs (i.e. Justin Masterson).

The logic is straightforward enough.  You can’t drive yourself in with a groundball.  … Click here to read the rest

Game 25: Blue Jays 2, Yankees 5

The Yankees used a big fifth inning to take back the lead. Jorge Posada lined a nice double to right and Brett Gardner followed with a single, putting runners on first and third with no outs.  Francisco Cervelli, making his first start since his return to the Bronx, grounded out to short, allowing Posada to score the tying run.  Jeter grounded a ball to short and Escobar tried to get Gardner at third, but instead both runners were safe. Granderson then smacked his eighth homer of the season, giving the Pinstripes a 5-2 lead.  The score would hold through the end of the game, as Nova went into the seventh and Mariano Rivera closed it out in the ninth.

Bronx Cheers: Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod went 0-4 with two strikeouts.

Nick Swisher: Swisher went 0-3 with a strikeout.  He is now hitting .218.

Curtain Calls: Ivan Nova: Nova put together his second straight strong start.  He went 6.1 innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits. … Click here to read the rest

The Farm Report 5/1/11

Jorge Vazquez (1B) is not letting up.  He is hitting .323/.343/.635/.979 after the first month of play.  He has driven out nine homers and picked up three doubles and 27 RBIs.    Jesus Montero (C) had an unfortunate incident, taking a foul ball off the “groin,” which led to him sitting out a few games.  Still, he has shown he is ready to hit at the next level, going .365/.360/.473/.833 in April.  That is not a typo, Montero’s batting average is actually higher than his OBP, as he has not taken a single walk this season but has hit a sac fly.  Justin Maxwell (CF) has shown a lot of power at the plate so far.  He has driven eight homers and nineteen RBIs, also collecting a couple doubles and a triple.  He also leads Scranton in strikeouts, however, whiffing 35 times.

Brandon Laird (IF) and Kevin Russo (IF) both struggled at the plate.  Laird is hitting .184/.213/.289/.502, which is actually a decent improvement over his line a couple weeks ago. … Click here to read the rest

Kevin Millwood Opts To Leave The Yankees

Kevin Millwood had an opt-out clause in his contract that allowed him to leave the Yankees if not added to the MLB roster by May 1st, and he excercised it earlier today. Jack Curry was the first to break the news, which comes on the heels of an uninspiring stint at AAA for Millwood. Scouts had been critical of Millwood’s stuff since he first took the hill this spring, and he lasted just two innings while surrendering 6 runs in his last outing with the Yankees.

Millwood is likely hoping to catch on with another club and make a MLB roster, but unless he is retiring or the Yankees told him that he was not the next starter in line for a promotion, I think he made a mistake. He is likely deluding himself if he believes there is a club that will stick him in their rotation at this point, considering the lack of interest in his services last month and his weak AAA performance.… Click here to read the rest

Ivan Nova pitches into the 7th, Curtis Granderson seals the game

Ivan Nova gave the Yankees his second consecutive strong start, while the hitters did the rest. Nova gave the Yankees 6.1 innings of work, allowing only two runs on six hits and four walks. Nova wasn’t over powering, but he was effective, giving the Yankees all they needed to pick up the victory. He handed things over to the bullpen, who took care of the rest in text book fashion.

The Yankee offense came via the long ball. Mark Teixeira started things off with a solo shot off Jesse Litsch in the first inning. The big blow came in the fifth. Curtis Granderson deposited a three run-shot in the seats in right center, knocking in Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner. Between Nova and the relievers, that was more than enough for the Bombers to pick up the victory.

Robinson Cano was taken out of the game in the eighth inning. In his post game press conference Joe Girardi said that Cano bruised his palm catching a pick off throw from Nova.… Click here to read the rest

Game #25-Frankie’s back!

Yes ladies and gentlemen, at long last the Yankee fan heart throb from Valencia, Venezuela has returned, one Mr. Francisco Cervelli. We’ve had to put up with Russell Martin hitting all those doubles and HRs at the bottom of the order for the past month, but now every 3 innings those of us who haven’t been getting enough sleep can catch a quick nap when Posada-Gardner-Cervelli-Jeter is due up. I missed you Frankie, all those many faces, the BA with RISP that couldn’t last, the Home Run once every two years, the CS% lower than Jorge, the sense of fashion straight out of a 1980s Miami Vice episode.  Don’t ever change Frankie. Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold.

Here’s the lineup, courtesy of Brian Heyman over at LoHud:

1. Jeter SS
2. Granderson CF
3. Teixeira 1B
4. Rodriguez 3B
5. Cano 2B
6. Swisher RF
7. Posada DH
8. Gardner LF
9. Cervelli C

Ivan Nova gets the start, fresh off his strong outing facing the White Sox on Tuesday.… Click here to read the rest