Last night, the Tampa Bay Lighting closed out the Montreal Canadiens to move to the Eastern Conference Finals in the NHL. And in the NBA playoffs, the Houston Rockets gave the LA Clippers a taste of their own medicine in a 124-103 drubbing to even that series 2-2. With so much great postseason action, chances are you weren’t watching the LA Dodgers host the Miami Marlins last night. And that’s OK. But you missed an earlier contender for home run of the year.
The shot came off the bat of Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Naturally. In the top of the first, Stanton crushed an 0-1 pitch literally out of Dodger Stadium. Statcast measured it at 475 feet (the third longest recorded by MLB’s real-time tracking system), and it left the park at a speed of 114 miles per hour.
A year ago, Alex Rodriguez was serving a season-long suspension for having used performance-enhancing drugs. The closest he could get to a ballpark was watching his Yankees teammates on TV. But that was probably for the best. The last time he was on the field, in 2013, he was booed nearly everywhere he went, from Boston to the Bronx to the Bay Area.
Last night, though, things were different. The attitude, the scandal, the suspension — none of it mattered. Because A-Rod made history.
In our April issue, we have a feature on stats that makes the case for better ways to evaluate baseball players. The alphabet soup of advanced metrics include OPS+ (Adjusted On-Base Percentage Plus Slugging Percentage), FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), and UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) — and they’re likely to give you a headache. But don’t worry! Some kids in the Heschel SABR Club in New York have your primer on some key sabermetrics you need to know to be a better fan.
1. WAR (Win Above Replacement) is by far the coolest name on this list. But it’s also a key advanced metric. It counts how many wins a player adds to his team’s total compared to an average replacement. While not a perfect stat by any means, WAR is becoming more and more popular. This year, both Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw, the AL and NL MVPs, led their league in WAR.
Major League Baseball has been around since the year 1876. So you’d think that there’s not much it hasn’t seen. But a game played in front of zero fans? That’s a first.
Today, the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Chicago White Sox, 8-2, in front of an empty Camden Yards. Fans were left out of the stadium, and the game was pushed up to a 2 p.m. start time, in response to violent protests against police in Baltimore.
The previous two games against the White Sox had been postponed, and instead of calling off the final game in the series the league decided to play but to keep the stands empty in the interest of safety.
Average attendance for a Baltimore Orioles game at Camden Yards this season has been 33,289. But on Wednesday, the Orioles will host the Chicago White Sox in front of zero fans.
Major League Baseball announced the decision this afternoon. It’s just the latest step the city, team, and Major League Baseball have taken in response to increasing unrest in Baltimore.
Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre is all about celebrating with teammates after a big play. Give him a high-five. Fist-bump away. But DO NOT touch his head. Ever. He hates it so much, that his fellow Rangers — and even players on other teams — try to pat his dome just to be funny. But he doesn’t like it. At all.
Which makes the idea of Beltre playing duck-duck-goose with a bunch of elementary school kids so much fun. The Rangers released a video today promoting the team that hints at the hijinks. It needs to be a much, much longer clip:
One of the high points for me as a SABR Analytics Correspondent this year was attending the conference with my friend, Max Melamed. He’s the person I went to my first baseball game with (Yankees Old Timers Day 2009), and he founded the Sabermetrics Club at our school. It’s the first-ever high school SABR Club, and last season we worked together on the Sabermetrics Fantasy League. Here is our recap of the Analytics Conference.