Archive for January, 2007

New Logo

Thanks to my cousin Charlie for redesigning the site logo. I like it quite a bit.

Update: Here are some of my past banners for posterity.

The original from Doug Drinen.

My new banner in honor of the move off of the Blogger software.

Charlie’s first banner.

Disappointed Again

For several years, Braves fans have had two post-season rituals: watching the Braves lose in the playoffs and seeing Dale Murphy fall short of Hall of Fame induction. The Braves didn’t even make the playoffs this year so I thought that might be a good omen for Murphy. But with all the Hall of Fame talk, I soon became scared that Murph might fall off the ballot. That didn’t happen—he garnered 9.2% of the votes—but I’m not sure it’s much of a victory.

Last season, I developed a list of position players not in the Hall of Fame but should be. Murphy was on that list.

Player            	First    Last    P(in HOF)
Bill Dahlen        	1891    1911    80.18%
Pete Rose        	1963    1986    78.39%
George Van Haltren    	1887    1903    72.86%
Keith Hernandez        	1974    1990    70.99%
Dwight Evans        	1972    1991    68.46%
Dale Murphy        	1976    1993    68.43%
Jimmy Ryan        	1885    1903    66.83%
Bob Elliott       	1939    1953    58.84%
Phil Cavarretta       	1934    1955    57.99%
Bob O’Farrell        	1915    1935    55.68%
Vern Stephens        	1941    1955    52.99%
Bob Johnson	        1933    1945    52.79%
Dolph Camilli        	1933    1945    52.59%
Cupid Childs        	1888    1901    51.64%
Larry Doyle        	1907    1920    50.56%
Deacon McGuire        	1884    1912    50.09%

As a side project, I also looked at the Hall of Fame chances of not-yet eligible players.

Player			P(in HOF)
Barry Bonds		100.00%
Rickey Henderson	99.80%
Frank Thomas		97.44%
Ken Griffey		95.63%
Larry Walker		95.03%
Cal Ripken		91.22%
Roberto Alomar		88.01%
Jeff Bagwell		86.85%
Rafael Palmeiro		83.96%
Barry Larkin		81.51%
Alex Rodriguez		74.10%
Ivan Rodriguez		66.90%
Edgar Martinez		64.03%
Tim Raines		63.32%
Fred McGriff		62.86%
Gary Sheffield		60.90%
Tony Gwynn		60.78%
Mark McGwire		58.73%
Craig Biggio		56.77%
Juan Gonzalez		55.64%
Sammy Sosa		51.77%

One year later, Ripken and Gwynn made it, but McGwire did not. I do think that McGwire will eventually get in, but I wonder about Barry Bonds and that 100% probability.

Thinking about who gets into the Hall of Fame is a great way to introduce people to sabermetrics. One of the first books Doug Drinen handed me on sabermetrics was Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame? by Bill James. After that, I was hooked.

For more on Murph and the HOF see Mac Thomason’s excellent series.

Random Things I Noticed During My Winter Break

— In an article in ESPN: The Magazine, Michael Lewis investigates why NFL coaches continue to punt “too much” on 4th down, even after being confronted with David Romer’s paper on the subject. Doug Drinen has a nice discussion of the paper in several posts (I just linked to one). Dave Berri has a nice post on Lewis’s article.

Lewis concludes that coaches don’t go for it simply because it’s against to code of coaching, and by doing so you limit your chances of being hired as a coordinator by your peers—because there is a good chance you’ll be fired. If you violate the rule, you’re out of the club. Interestingly, John Fox—who didn’t have kind words for the Romer paper in Lewis’s article—must feel he’s got a lot of job security after what he pulled against the Falcons on Christmas Eve. Not only did the Panthers only pass 7 times during the game, but on eight plays the Panthers pulled the quarterback out of the backfield. When you think about it, if you have Chris Weinke as your quarterback, it’s a smart play; but, it couldn’t have won Fox many friends. He completely embarrassed Jim Mora and his coaching staff when they couldn’t stop the pre-Knute Rockne offense of the Panthers. Had it not been Christmas Eve, I expect Arthur Blank would have fired Mora minutes after the game. I’ve never seen a football play without a quarterback on the field. If going for it on fourth is uncouth, his move couldn’t have made Fox popular in the coaching world.

Overall, I find Lewis’s explanation unsatisfying, but that’s hardly a criticism. I think he does a good job of explaining away other alternatives—like NFL coaches are dumb. It’s an interesting question that merits further study. I wish I could come up with a satisfying explanation of my own.

— Barry Zito ultimately signed a seven-year $126 million contract with the San Francisco Giants. I project that if he pitches exactly as he did in 2006 for the next seven years, he’ll generate a total of $124 million over the life of the contract. That doesn’t mean I’d have recommend this deal to the Giants—I don’t think he can keep his performance up for that long—but I’m surprised at how close those numbers are.

— I just got my copy of The Hardball Times Annual 2007. I’ve just started thumbing through it, but I especially enjoy Mac Thomason‘s profile of John Schuerholz.

— For Christmas I received a copy of R.E.M.’s latest, And I Feel Fine…: The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987. I’m a big R.E.M. fan, but I held off purchasing the latest collection so I’d have something to get for Christmas. If you’re going to pick up a copy, make sure you get the collectors edition, which has a second disk (who needs the greatest hits when you already own them all?). I have a decent collection of bootlegs, but these live and demo recordings from the early years are fantastic. The Hib-Tone version of “Sitting Still” is my favorite track right now. I wish they’d released it a long time ago. Er, but who am I to complain, considering the consumer surplus I’ve enjoyed from R.E.M. for most of my life? I’ll just say “thanks” instead.