Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Game of the Day (4/21/91)

Pirates 13, Cubs 12 (11). Chicago's Mike Harkey took on Pittsburgh's Randy Tomlin. Both of them were 24 years old at the time of the game, and neither would end up having a particularly noteworthy career; Harkey would have the best single season by either man - and it was his rookie season, which came in 1990 and was thus already behind him.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Game of the Fortnight (4/20/15)

In terms of producing exciting contests, the 2015 baseball season is off to a fine start. April 12 produced both a 14-inning affair between the Astros and Rangers and an 11-inning showdown between St. Louis and Cincinnati in which there were three lead changes, and the Reds left the go-ahead or winning run in scoring position for three straight innings before the Cardinals finished them off. Both of those were exceeded by Arizona and San Francisco's 12-inning battle on April 16, in which the Giants rallied to tie in both the ninth and tenth, gave up two in the twelfth, then got one of them back only to leave the tying run on second.

But all of those options were merely vying for second place behind Red Sox 6, Yankees 5 (19).

Melog Rankings: Post-Monte Carlo 2015

April is here, which means the weather is warming up, it's raining all the time, and the tennis season has shifted onto European clay. It's always been one of Rafael Nadal's best months; last year was the first time in a decade that he went without a title in April. Let's see how the first part of this year's fourth month has changed things.

Game of the Day (4/20/91)

Tigers 2, White Sox 1 (12). Detroit's Walt Terrell, a nearly-33-year-old right-hander winding down an almost-2000-inning career with his second stint as a Tiger, took on Chicago's Greg Hibbard, a 26-year-old lefty whose previous two seasons looked promising, but who would soon enter a pretty sharp decline largely due to an utter dearth of strikeouts.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Game of the Day (4/19/91)

Pirates 5, Cubs 4. Chicago started Danny Jackson, who is one of the more fortunate journeyman pitchers in baseball history; he pitched in the postseason five times, for five different teams, and came out of it with two rings. (In the '85 playoffs, Jackson's Royals trailed 3-1 in both the ALCS and the World Series; Jackson posted complete game victories in both Game 5's, and the Royals came back to win both series.) Pittsburgh's starter, Vicente Palacios, threw less than 20% as many major league innings as Jackson, but that was largely because much of his career was spent in the Mexican League. Baseball-Reference has a fairly interesting short bio of him here.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Game of the Day (4/18/91)

Brewers 4, Orioles 3 (11). Baltimore's Jeff Ballard was just 27 years old when this game was played, but had under 200 innings remaining in a big league career that had seen him join a rotation for the first time at 23. It wasn't an enviable fate - unless you were Milwaukee's Mark Knudson, who was 30 and had under 50 innings to go before the finish line.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Using Slam Scores: Difficulty of Final

Last time out, we used Slam Scores to evaluate which players might be overrated or underrated by conventional wisdom. This time, we’ll be… doing something almost identical, actually, but in a different way. It’s easy to find the players who’ve won the most Grand Slams, but it’s rare that anyone puts systematic consideration into the question of who was beaten in the process of winning them.

So let’s find out – which players have faced the toughest slates of opponents in Grand Slam finals?

Game of the Day (4/17/91)

Mariners 4, Twins 3 (11). Minnesota's Kevin Tapani and Seattle's Scott Bankhead were both 27-year-old right-handers (Bankhead about 8 months older). Bankhead entered the '91 season with over 600 career innings pitched, over 3 times as many as Tapani had thrown to this point. From '91 on, Bankhead had just over 270 innings remaining in his arm; Tapani, meanwhile, had over 2000 to go.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Game of the Day (4/16/91)

A's 8, Angels 5 (11). California's Mark Langston was a veteran left-hander in the middle of a long and excellent career, and was embarking on a season in which he would receive Cy Young votes. Oakland's Joe Slusarski was making just the second start in a career that would eventually include exactly as many starts as Langston's 1991 season (and fewer than his opponent would make in four other individual years).

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Game of the Day (4/15/91)

Indians 1, Red Sox 0 (13). Cleveland started 24-year-old right-hander Charles Nagy, who was spending his first full season in the rotation for the team he'd stick with for over a decade. Boston countered with 32-year-old southpaw Matt Young, who was pitching for his fifth major league team (plus two minor league squads) in six years. I'm sure there have been plenty of matchups between pitchers in more widely varied circumstances, but this one has to be at least 90th percentile in that respect, right?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Game of the Day (4/14/91)

A's 7, Mariners 6. Oakland's Dave Stewart faced Seattle's Erik Hanson. Both right-handers had thrown very well in 1990, and neither of them would ever pitch quite that effectively again.

Of course, since Stewart had just turned 34, this wasn't unexpected in his case. Hanson, however, had not yet seen his 26th birthday.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Game of the Day (4/13/91)

Yankees 9, Royals 8. This is the second American League game to be selected so far in 1991 - and in both of them, Yankee starter Tim Leary has faced a pitcher who would eventually have a halfway credible (though unsuccessful) Hall of Fame case. His opponent this time was Bret Saberhagen, and since it was an odd-numbered year, that makes him a formidable foe.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Game of the Day (4/12/91)

Expos 4, Mets 3 (11). Montreal's Bill Sampen and New York's Ron Darling were relatively close in age; their birth dates were separated by about two and a half years. Despite this proximity, they were at significantly different stages of their careers. Sampen had made his major league debut at age 27 in 1990, and spent most of that year in the bullpen; as a result, this was the fifth start of his major league career. Darling, meanwhile, had been up since 1983, and had been in the Met rotation from the beginning, so his first appearance of 1991 was career start number 225.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Game of the Day (4/11/91)

Giants 11, Padres 9 (10). San Diego's Andy Benes and San Francisco's Mike LaCoss were both right-handed pitchers whose careers would eventually last 14 years and just over 400 games. Benes, however, was beginning just the third season of his career, while LaCoss was playing the opening chords of his swan song.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Game of the Day (4/10/91)

Phillies 8, Mets 7 (10). Philadelphia started Jose de Jesus, who was approaching the end of a relatively brief career, largely because he was on the way to leading the NL in walks in 1991. The Mets countered with a pitcher who would pick up his own league lead this season - eventual strikeout champ David Cone.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Game of the Day (4/9/91)

Mets 2, Phillies 1 (10). New York started Frank Viola; Philadelphia sent Jason Grimsley to the mound. The two were nearly diametric opposites. Viola was a 31-year-old lefty with good control who'd spent nearly a decade in the league, with his highlights including a shutout win in Game 7 of the 1987 World Series and an AL Cy Young award the next year. He was also one of baseball's most durable pitchers, having made at least 34 starts every season since 1983 (a streak that would continue through '92). Grimsley, meanwhile, was a 22-year-old right-hander with virtually no control who'd thrown fairly well in a fractional season of starting duty in 1990, but would go on to regress sharply in '91 before getting sent back to the minors in early June. That was not the last time Grimsley would be shipped back to AAA; he spent all of '92, '97, and '98 in the minors, and eventually made a permanent move to the bullpen. His tumultuous career eventually took him to seven teams, and came to an end after he was investigated for HGH use in 2006.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Game of the Day (4/8/91)

Tigers 6, Yankees 4. Detroit opened its season with Frank Tanana on the mound; the 37-year-old southpaw had once been an ace, but had long since entered the capable-innings-eater phase of his career. He was still a better Opening Day option than New York's Tim Leary, a 32-year-old right-hander who in 1990 had led the AL in losses and wild pitches.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Game of Opening Day 2015

Dodgers 6, Padres 3. As you'd expect on Opening Day, both teams sent their aces, which meant Clayton Kershaw took on James Shields.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Melog Rankings: Post-Miami 2015

Last time, we saw that this year's edition of the Indian Wells Masters event created only minor disturbances in the rankings, mostly because the outcome of the final was the same as it had been last year - Novak Djokovic over Roger Federer.

The fortnight since then brought the playing of another Masters event, this one in Miami. And while Djokovic defended this title as well (sweeping Indian Wells and Miami for the third time in his career), his victory in the final this year was over Andy Murray rather than Rafael Nadal. Let's see if that created a bit more movement.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

2015 Baseball Preview

The 2015 baseball season gets underway on Sunday, which means I'd better get the obligatory prediction post out of the way. Please keep in mind when reading this post that I picked the Padres to win the NL West last year, and that my Cy Young choices may in fact be cursed - not only have I never picked a winner correctly, but my guesses tend to have horrible years. (Last year, Clay Buchholz had an ERA over 5, and Michael Wacha barely cleared 100 innings.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Using Slam Scores: Overrated and Underrated

I've expended quite a bit of virtual ink in this space discussing Grand Slam Scores, which evaluate historical performance in Slams as a way of comparing tennis players. But any player evaluation method worth its salt should be able to do more than just supply an answer to "which guy is better?" questions. Are Grand Slam Scores up to that task?

Let's find out. We'll start by applying them to the question of which tennis players are the most likely to be overrated and underrated in conventional opinion.