Window Shopping: oY?

The notion of a “platoon split” refers to the fact that, on average, batters have more success against opposite-handed pitchers than they do against same-handed pitchers. Thus, right-handed batters generally fare better against left-handed pitching, and left-handed batters generally fare better against right-handed pitching. If you think this sounds like some Monty Hall voodoo, take a look at the numbers. It’s one of the oldest tricks in baseball.

Occasionally, however, a player will buck the trend and find himself with a reverse platoon split, meaning that he hits same-handed pitching better than opposite-handed pitching. Such appears to be the case this year for Detroit outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

The 2015 season is shaping up to be a career-best for Cespedes. Here are his current offensive numbers:

yo2015His 3.2 fWar is good for twenty-second overall, and his 120 wRC+ (a comprehensive measure of offensive value) is third-best on his team, behind only Miguel Cabrera and the sensational J.D. Martinez. Pretty good.

What’s lurking behind those numbers, though, is something seemingly odd and definitely obviously foreshadowed by the words in this post you’ve read so far: a reverse platoon split. Cespedes bats exclusively right-handed, but, contrary to the long-prevailing trend, he has much more success against right-handed pitchers than left-handed pitchers. These are his current splits:

yo2015splitThese numbers aren’t even close. Continue reading

Detroit Tigers Midseason Status Update

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The anticipated events of the next two weeks will go a long way toward shaping the identity of the next phase of the Detroit Tigers organization. Will they push for a World Series run or cash out their movable assets while they’re at their highest values? This is the time to decide. My latest contribution to Banished to the Pen is a quick assessment of where the team stood at the All-Star Break that should help contextualize their options and actions as they enter the second half of the season.

The full post (scroll down for my segment) is available here.

Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Cobb’s Braves Stadium Bond Deal (via Fulton County Daily Report)

The Cobb County Braves stadium deal is safe. The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday unanimously upheld the bond issue for up to $397 million to finance the deal, affirming a ruling by Cobb County Superior Court Judge Robert Leonard.

But the high court also underscored some of the concerns brought up by the three plaintiffs who challenged the deal. In the opinion, written by Justice David Nahmias, the justices said, “We do not discount the concerns” raised in the three appeals “about the wisdom of the stadium project and the commitments Cobb County has made to entice the Braves to move there.”

Cobb County surprised Atlanta in November 2013 with a deal to lure the Braves away from downtown and into a suburban site near Interstates 285 and 75 off Cobb Parkway. Construction is underway on the new SunTrust Park, which will supplant Turner Field.

The court said the residents’ objections to Cobb’s financial incentives “lie predominantly in the realm of public policy entrusted to the county’s elected officials for decision, not in the realm of constitutional or statutory law. And to the extent the concerns affect whether the bond proposal is sound, feasible and reasonable, we defer to the trial court’s findings on those factors, which were supported by evidence in the record.”

The court concluded with a warning. “If the stadium deal does not fulfill the high expectations that have been set for it, there may be a significant political price to pay for those who negotiated and signed onto it,” Nahmias wrote. “But under the law of Georgia as construed in the precedents of this court, we cannot say that the trial court erred in validating the bonds or that the validation process was deficient. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.” … Read More

(via Fulton County Daily Report)

Max Scherzer: All-Star, Secret Agent

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During Home Run Derby batting practice this evening, the MLB Network crew on the field in Cincinnati snagged an interview with Max Scherzer. At the end of the interview, the on-field crew asked Scherzer to throw back to Dan Plesac in the booth by saying “Hello Chief, it’s Max.” After some brief clarification, an apparently unwitting (or merely unwilling?) Scherzer got the line right, to the great enjoyment of Plesac, who was ready in the booth with his shoe phone to his ear.

Plesac, an established fan of the 1960s detective comedy television program “Get Smart,” has made the reference before, but this appears to be the first time Scherzer has been a willing participant.

As for what, if anything, Scherzer misses about his time in Detroit, the former Tiger offered that he misses being able to make fun of a certain equipment manager who was bad at fantasy football in person, lamenting that now he only can do so by text message. As the host in the second clip linked in the preceding paragraph seemingly correctly infers, Scherzer is much more interested in fantasy football than real great T.V. shows, which is his loss. As demonstrated again tonight, though, Plesac’s love for the bit is the fan’s gain.

Window Shopping: Pigs in the Pen

It’s July, which means it’s time for MLB teams to sort out their trade-deadline strategy. While fans distract themselves with All-Star festivities, general managers are preparing to execute player transactions in attempts to load up for a playoff run or, in acceptance of their near-term fates as noncontenders, build for the future.

In this context, the Detroit Tigers find themselves in a bit of a bind. After a very strong start, they’ve slid back to a .500 record and have been entrenched in the middle of the AL Central, never too far out of first place, but never really within striking distance. Would a first-place finish from this position be unprecedented? Hardly. Can they claim a fifth-consecutive division title without making a significant trade this summer? Almost certainly not. The Tigers’ record is not a product of underperforming their potential; instead, it likely is a reasonably accurate reflection of this team’s collective ability to date, warts, lower-body injuries, and all.

There is no question that the Tigers should be buyers this month, however thin their wallet may be with currency in the form of desirable prospects. I can’t say with any certainty whom Detroit should acquire this month– starting pitchers Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels are the most valuable targets on the market, but the sellers’ prices may be too rich for the blood of the Tigers’ farm system– but I do agree with the prevailing preference for bolstering the pitching rotation. Shane Greene‘s floor proved too low to allow the team to continue to wait to see how high his ceiling might go, Alfredo Simon’s regressed to the very average levels we should have expected out of him as a starter, and, with appearances in just four games in 2015, Justin Verlander’s projected resurgence isn’t happening. The return of game-calling extraordinaire Alex Avila to his precarious post behind the plate can’t fix that many holes, and neither, I suspect, can J.D. Martinez‘s unsustainable home-run rate. Detroit needs to find another starter.

The trade-deadline attention on the pitching rotation represents a shift of attention away from their bullpen, the conventionally identified leading source of all of the Tigers’ problems. Continue reading

What does Adam Schefter’s publication of Jason Pierre-Paul’s medical records mean for the future of athlete health information?

In the context of yesterday’s Jason Pierre-Paul fireworks/amputation news, my latest post for TechGraphs asks whether the increasing use of wearable sports technology could have negative consequences for athletes, and, further, whether athletes may be effectively powerless to avoid those consequences.

The full post is available here.

The Redskins and The Slants: How an Asian American band name case may affect the Redskins trademark (via The Volokh Conspiracy)

A federal district court today upheld the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s cancellation of the Redskins mark. A federal statute bars registrations of marks that “may disparage … persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute”; the district court agreed that the Redskins fell within this prohibition. This decision doesn’t bar the Redskins from using their name, but it does reduce their ability to use trademark law to stop various infringing Redskins gear.

The analysis strikes me as unpersuasive: I don’t think that historically trademarks have been used to “communicate[] messages from the [government].” I don’t think “the publicly closely associates [trademarks] with the [government].” And while the government does have and does exercise some control over which trademarks are allowed, I don’t think that this itself can suffice to justify viewpoint discrimination, since in all viewpoint-discriminatory programs (including ones the Court has condemned), the whole dispute was about the fact that the government was trying to exercise control about what speech is allowed.

Instead, it seems to me that trademark law is much closer to the programs in which viewpoint discrimination is forbidden . . . . The special government-provided benefits given to trademark owners — or copyright owners — are similarly private speech, despite the government involvement, and the government shouldn’t selectively deny those benefits to speakers who have certain views. … Read More

(via The Volokh Conspiracy)

Yes Jam

Last Sunday, Chris Squire, best known as the bass player for the band Yes, lost his battle with leukemia. Although the band underwent periods of lineup changes, you have never heard Yes without Squire, in part because of the value of his prominent playing style, and in part because of his controlling legal interest in the band’s name. As we prepare to honor the birth of a nation stateside, in memory of Squire, we take a moment to turn our ears back to England, to which we are forever tied: