What’s a no-hitter worth?

Last night, Minnesota Twins’ pitcher Francisco Liriano threw the first no-hitter of the 2011 Major League Baseball season. No-nos are so rare that they are entrenched in baseball lore alongside the perfect game. With new statistics developed over the last twenty years, the no-hitters value is changing.

Famous baseball statistician Bill James created the GameScore. The tool seeks to measure a pitcher’s value over the course of a single game. The GameScore has since been translated to position players under a different formula and name, but James’ formula remains the go-to for evaluating a pitcher’s performance.

Warning: some math will follow. The formula itself begins with the number 50. 50 represents the average score of a single game. Any final score above 50 is an above average performance, while anything below 50 is sub-average. Then outs, innings pitched, and strikeouts are added to the number while hits, earned runs, unearned runs, and walks are subtracted from the number. All put together, the formula = 50 + 1* Outs (recorded) + 2*IP after the 4th + 1*K – 2*H – 4*ER – 2*Unearned Runs – 1*BB.

Liriano’s no-hitter scored an 83 on James’ formula. An 83 doesn’t sound too bad, right? That’s good enough for a B in grade school and college. But it’s only the fourteenth best game pitched this season. Four pitchers have scored 90 or above this season: Cliff Lee with the season’s best (to date) 92, Dan Haren and Ian Kennedy each with a 91 score game, and Tim Hudson with a 90 (he just finished that game about an hour ago).

Francisco Liriano

Other pitchers ahead of Liriano include Anibal Sanchez (89), Josh Beckett (87), Kyle Lohse (87), Dice-K Matsuzaka (86), Jaime Garcia (86), Carlos Zambrano (85), Chad Billingsley (85), Jason Marquis (84), James Shields (84), Roy Halladay (83), Shields again (83), and Yovani Gallardo (83). Obviously, Liriano is in a four-way ties for fourteenth, but the fact remains that his no-hitter is not worth as much as the aura that surrounds the unique feat.

So what brought down Liriano’s score? Obviously it wasn’t the outs recorded or the number of innings pitched past the fourth inning. His low strikeout total (2 for the game) hurt. In fact, of the twenty best games pitched this season, only Gallardo had an equally low strikeout total. No other pitcher in the top twenty games struck out less than six. Another element that doomed Liriano was his high walk total. He issued six free passes to the White Sox in the game which accounted for twice as much as any other pitcher in the the top twenty games.

In 2010, there were five no-hitters (not counting Halladay’s post-season no-no). Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Halladay, Dallas Braden, Edwin Jackson, and Matt Garza each accomplished the feat during MLB’s 162 game season. Yet, only three of those fantastic performances made the top twenty pitched games according to GameScore: Halladay second with a 98, Braden tied for fourth with a 93, and Garza tied for seventh with a 92. Halladay’s playoff no-hitter scored a 94. The very next day, Giants’ ace Tim Lincecum scored a 96 for a two-hit shutout over the Atlanta Braves.

Roy Halladay

Avoiding the GameScore metric for just a second, all of these games are well-pitched and deserve recognition. However, if you asked the average fan, which of the games is better, I’m betting they’d pick the no-hitter 99 times out of 100. And their choice may be justified. Then again, they may be choosing the worse performance (I know, really nit-picking here).

The point, though, is that baseball fans and statisticians have introduced interesting new measures of a player’s effectiveness over the last two decades. Tradition will continue to favor the no-hitter. Baseball has been around for nearly 150 years, and that doesn’t go away over a single game or twenty years of new formulas.

No-hitters are great to watch. They have everything a fan wants: heart-pounding excitement, anticipation, a great defensive play or two saving the game, etc. Just know, they’re not the only way to gauge a pitcher’s performance.

If you’d like to follow GameScore throughout the season, click here.

Selection Sunday: Small-Armed Reaction

The NCAA Tournament field was unveiled last night.  Thank God Charles Barkley was there, because his lack of professionalism and preparation made the committee look a little closer to competent by comparison.  Look,  I know TNT and TBS are carrying some games this week – and I’m happy about the additional coverage – but why do we need Chuck talking about “that Jimmer kid out west” and making it painfully obvious that he did zero prepwork for his One Shining Moment?  I don’t have a problem with Ted Turner wedging himself into the March Madness mix.  Just swap Chuck out for Ernie Johnson and things might be okay.  He was turr’ble last night.

Anyway, on to the field itself.  Obviously, there are some much-discussed head-scratchers like UAB and VCU.  Maybe you can make a case to say Colorado deserved a spot.  But I don’t get too hung up on “who’s in, who’s out” because the bubble was simply awful, so trying to field a group of 68 teams this year must have been a real challenge.  This was clearly not the year for expansion.  If anything, last night made the case for contraction.

The bigger problem I have with the committee is similar to what we saw last year.   Teams continue to be poorly seeded (this year more than last) and regions are wildly unbalanced (not quite as bad as last year).  Last year, you’ll recall the outrage about the supposed third 1-seed Duke being given a very advantageous bracket, while overall 1-seed Kansas received the most challenging region.  When Duke cut down the nets in Indianapolis after squeaking by a feisty Butler team, many pointed to their relatively easy path as being a major reason for their title run.  Similarly, Pittsburgh (again, the third 1-seed) seems to have received the rock-star treatment this season.  Pitt’s draw may not be quite as ridiculous as what 2010 Duke received, but it’s still pretty remarkable when you look at it beside the other three regions.

Seeding was the real story this year.  Kentucky trounced their opponents in the SEC tournament and finished their season on a very strong note.  Their struggles on the road during the heart of the season were well-documented, but it seemed the Wildcats were putting it together at the right time, closing the season at a very high level.  The committee saw it differently, as Kentucky received a 4-seed in the toughest region of all, the East.   (Oh, and as a bonus, they face the Ivy League again, so get your “hicks vs. pricks” jokes ready, my fellow Elitist Jerks!)

To make it to the Final Four, Kentucky would have to go through #1 overall seed Ohio State and possibly Syracuse or North Carolina.  Compare that to Florida, the team Kentucky boatraced Sunday afternoon to take the SEC tournament title.  The Gators received a 2-seed in the aforementioned and relatively soft Southeast region.  Kentucky ended the season #7 in the Pomeroy ratings, while Florida was #19.  Both are quality teams, but the seeding gap (especially factoring in regional strength, location, etc.) is hard to overlook.

Texas is another team who ended up a 4-seed despite having a very strong season.  Granted, they may be the anti-Kentucky, peaking in the middle of the season and closing meekly.  But still, they had a quality resume and finished #4 in the Pomeroy ratings.  Their path?  A match-up with Duke in the Sweet 16, followed by (if chalk holds up) San Diego State or UConn.

Or how about Washington?  They end the season #15 in the Pomeroy ratings and draw a 7 seed, potentially playing recently-red-hot-but-now-entirely-uncertain North Carolina in Charlotte in the second round.  It almost makes you believe that “east coast bias” crap those crunchy hippie nutjobs talk about.  Almost.

Oh, and while we’re in the East, how about the reward Ohio State received for being the best and most complete team in college basketball all season.  32-2, #1 in Pomeroy, and they get North Carolina, Syracuse, and Kentucky.  And let’s not overlook a potential matchup with a legit George Mason team in the second round.  If the Buckeyes make the Final Four, they will look back and know they fought for it.

Speaking of Big Ten teams, how in the world did some of these squads receive such inflated seeding?   Penn State and Michigan State as 10 seeds?  Illinois as a 9?  I’m starting to wish Jim Tressel would fire Gordon Gee and Gene Smith.

Finally, I’d like to take a moment to laugh at Seth Greenberg.  He routinely schedules  a quilted Northern® soft non-conference slate, hangs around .500 in the ACC, and then cries on the second Sunday night of March.  Back in the day, 8-8 or 9-7 in the ACC would be certainly good enough.  But that was when the ACC had more than three really good coaches.  Look, I know the Hokies had some really terrible injuries and without them Virginia Tech would probably be safely in the Big Dance.  But stuff happens, and you have to adapt.  His team fell short yet again, and we all expected Seth to complain.  The difference this year was that Greenberg didn’t stop at hoarse-voiced whining.  He essentially floated the theory of some sort of anti-Virginia Tech conspiracy.  Greenberg said:

“Just disappointed. You almost wonder if someone in that room has their own agenda and that agenda doesn’t include Virginia Tech. Just plain and simple. I totally wonder it, if someone in that room has an agenda. The explanation was so inconsistent with the result that it was almost mind-boggling. I guess they even brought up our non-conference schedule. Kansas State, Purdue, Oklahoma State, UNLV, Penn State, St. Bonaventure that was supposed to be big and Mississippi State that was projected to win the SEC. I’d say that’s a pretty significant slate and challenge. So they must not have looked at it very closely. But I guess they did. I feel for these kids. Doesn’t take away from what we accomplished this year … but it’s extremely disheartening. You would hate to think that politics would be involved, but it makes you wonder.”

First of all, Seth, if you think the committee is capable of organizing and carrying out a conspiracy, you’re giving them too much credit.  Second, play somebody.  Third, get your guys motivated for games against teams NOT from the Triangle.  Fourth, there’s a phrase you need to become familiar with: “Man’s game, bitch.”

When play starts this week, most of what you have just read will no longer matter.  As I’ve said before, the NCAA tournament is the greatest event in sports, and no matter how hard they try, the committee just can’t ruin it.  So, call in sick Thursday and Friday, crack open a beer at 11 a.m., and root for your favorite team and your Cinderella pick.  And by all means, check in at EJSIC for more tourney coverage (from the other guys) and nonsensical, self-absorbed drivel (from me).

 

EJSIC 1st Anniversary

The first wedding anniversary is celebrated with paper, so I figured this was appropriate.

September marks our first year of delivering jerkishness to the masses and we’ve decided to mark the occasion with a couple of shameless popularity contests.

First, our readers and writers will be asked to vote on their favorite Post of the Year. Use the comment section to post your nominations. We will compile the nominations we get here with the writer’s nominations and let everyone vote on them. The winner will receive a prize of unnamed worth.

Second, we will be handing out our first ever EJSIC Writer Awards. These will also be voted on by the masses (ie. Elmo) and our writers. I’ll post the list of awards up for grabs later in the week.

We’ve got a big week ahead. Keep your clicker well lubricated.

The No-No Lotto

Since it’s apparent that any pitcher from a middle of the rotation innings eater to ace studs can throw a no-hitter this season, let’s look at who could be next.

1. Adam Wainwright (St. Louis). One of two Cardinal aces, Wainwright has a 1.94 ERA (2nd best in baseball), and he’s lights out at home. Odds of a no-hitter: 35%

2. C.C. Sabathia (New York). Big C.C. has motored along quietly in his second year in the Big Apple. He’s grown stronger with the season. Plus, 9 innings are common outings for Sabathia. Odds: 19%

3. Carl Pavano (Minnesota). Yankee fans cringe at his inclusion, but Pavano has experienced a career resurrection in the Twin Cities. The likelihood of him grabbing a no-no seems considerably greater than other. Odds: 7%

4. Josh Johnson (Florida). The best pitcher in baseball has to be on the list. His 1.61 ERA and 8 games of 1 run or less make him a very likely candidate for a no-no. Odds: 41%

5. Clay Buchholz (Boston). Buchholz has one no-hitter in a previous season, but 2010 is becoming his breakout year (and it also shows why the Red Sox were reluctant to trade him so many times). His only problem? The short porches in Fenway Park. Odds: 23%

6. Tim Hudson (Atlanta). The Braves ace is also having a very solid season. When he keeps his sinker ball down, as he has the majority of the season, then he’s very tough to hit. Odds: 16%

7. Matt Latos (San Diego). The All-Star snub has assumed the role of ace for the first place Padres during life without Jake Peavy. Can he continue the stellar season? Odds: 21%

8. John Danks (Chicago). It’s not easy to have a quiet season in the second biggest media market, but when you pitch behind Jake Peavy and Mark Buehrle, it’s a little easier. Odds: 11%

9. Roy Halladay (Philadelphia). He’s gotten a perfect game once this season against the Marlins, but he also has 3 shutouts and 7 complete games. Doc Halladay has the goods for a second no-no. Odds: 27%

**Disclaimer – The author of this article has very little knowledge of statistics. All odds were made up in his head.**

EJSIC Fishing Tournament

Jose Kortez's monster 29 inch walleye from Minnesota, 2009

Michael Street and me, Jose Kortez, have decided to figure out who is the best fisherman. This is no small task. There’s a lot to be considered here. For instance, I fish to feed my family out of necessity, while he fishes in a private pond because he’s rich and famous. I have to think like a fish to convince them to bite the piece of chewing gum I’m using as bait, while he has fancy battery operated baits made for him by the King of Egypt. And he is fishing in Tennessee, Georgia, and Mississippi, while I am fishing in West By God. He’ll be trying to catch largemouth bass with his fancy lures, while I’ll be trying to catch their smaller relatives, the smallmouth bass with chewing gum and bloody tissues.

And, while we’ll be comparing our catches every week on this site (with pictures to verify we’re being straight with you). Furthermore, we’d like to welcome our readers (and Al) to submit pictures of their catches to have displayed proudly on our site. To submit your monster fish pictures (or pictures of attractive women trying to fish), just send them in an email to Jose.Kortez@yahoo.com. I am 99.9% likely to post every picture you send even if they are in poor taste – if you want your name and fish length/weight included, you should probably include it in your email.

So, here’s how this is going to work. We’ll use the Master Angler list provided by each state. Since it is obviously quite an honor to catch a fish that qualifies for that list, we’ve decided to use 80% of the Master Angler lengths to compare for our contest. Here are Tennessee’s, Georgia’s, and West Virginia’s Master Angler lists. Mississippi, and this is no surprise to people from every state except Alabama, is so backwards, there is no Master Angler or citation program, only state records. But in normal states for instance, Tennessee considers a 22 inch largemouth to be a trophy, but in our contest, any largemouth over 17.5 inches would qualify (about 80% of the Master Angler length). In West Virginia, a 20 inch smallmouth is a trophy, but anything over 16 inches would qualify for our contest. However, because we are so much better than you, you can count every fish you catch to see how close you are to Elitist Jerk status.

2010 FIFA World Cup Preview Series – Group A

As part of a concerted effort to preview the 2010 FIFA World Cup, EJSIC will be showcasing each of the 8 groups (2 per week for the next 4 weeks) as well as the various stadiums in use and unique characteristics of African football that will be on display. Leading off is Group A which includes the host country South Africa along with 3 other top 20 teams: France, Mexico, and Uruguay.

South Africa

World Rank: 90
Appearances: 2
All-time Record in Finals: 1-3-2 (W-D-L)
Matches: 6/11 vs Mexico, 6/16 vs Uruguay, 6/22 vs France

Analysis: South Africa, nicknamed Bafana Bafana, has a lot of work ahead if it wants to advance to the knockout round in June. But a solid performance in last summer’s Confederations Cup (a tune-up for the World Cup) left fans feeling optimistic. South Africa lost to eventual champion Brazil 1-0 and then lost the third-place game to Spain by an extra-time goal. As the host country, Bafana Bafana will find plenty of support in their games amidst the whirling buzz of the vuvuzelas.

Mexico

World Rank: 17
Appearances: 13
All-time Record: 11-12-22
Matches: 6/11 vs South Africa, 6/17 vs France, 6/22 vs Uruguay

Analysis: Mexico is a group favorite for advancement after reaching the second round in the last four World Cups. Unfortunately for El Tri, that’s been the end of their play. Mexico will be relying on the talented young shoulders of Giovani dos Santos and Carlos Vela to reach its first quarterfinals since 1986. An opening round game against the host country will be tough, but Mexico has the talent to win.

Uruguay

World Rank: 18
Appearances: 10 (2 victories)
All-time Record: 15-10-15
Matches: 6/11 vs France, 6/16 vs South Africa, 6/22 vs Mexico

Analysis: Uruguay reached the finals by winning a playoff against CONCACAF representative Costa Rica 2-1 (aggregate). And they are looking to build upon that momentum in a top-heavy group. Uruguay features a relatively young team under the leadership of former player turned coach Oscar Tabarez.

France

World Rank: 10
Appearances: 12 (1 victory)
All-time Record: 25-10-16
Matches: 6/11 vs Uruguay, 6/17 vs Mexico, 6/22 vs South Africa

Analysis: France enters the tournament as the favorites to win Group A despite a shaky qualifying effort and a Thierry Henry hand ball against Ireland. France is a veteran group that lost in the finals of the last World Cup to Italy so their group of players know what it takes to win during this event.

Predictions

Group Winner: France
Group Runner-up: Mexico

Match to watch: Mexico vs Uruguay (6/22). This will be the last match of the group and it very well could determine who moves on as the runner-up. Each team is likely to have one win and one loss (against France and South Africa respectively) barring an upset which would mean a tie heading into this match. The winner could be sealing a trip to the second round.

Players to watch: Lots of talent in Group A. Some to look for include: Thierry Henry (FRA), Steven Pienaar (RSA), Cuauhtemoc Blanco (MEX), Giovanni dos Santos (MEX), Nicolas Anelka (FRA), Diego Lugano (URU), and Diego Forlán (URU).

Full Schedule with times and venues can be found here.

EJSIC College Football Top 25 10/25/09

The EJSIC Top 25: NCAA FOOTBALL

Here we are following week 8 of the college football season. The AP and ESPN have their week 9 polls out and we here at EJSIC appreciate their efforts, but in the interest of the fans, we feel it’s better for us to provide a real poll for your viewership. It’s not based on media hype for next week’s games, any ridiculous key words (the wildcat), or any other nonsense – all that matters are the teams, who they’ve played, and who they’ve beaten.

So, here it is. All the information you need to make your own minds up. As always, we’re interested in your thoughts, what you would do differently and maybe a quick justification for why. Presented below are the rankings, team, record, (votes – first place votes). Also included are next week’s opponent, wins against teams currently in the top 25, and notable losses to teams with losing records.

1. Alabama 8-0 (147 – 3) Week 9: BYE
Top 25 Wins: #14 VA Tech (5-2), @ #24 Mississippi (5-2), #21 S. Carolina (6-2)
Bad Losses: None
2. Florida 7-0 (146 – 3) Week 9: Georgia (4-3)
Wins: @ #9 LSU (6-1)
Bad Losses: None
3. Texas 7-0 (137) Week 9: @ #13 Oklahoma State (6-1)
Top 25 Wins: # 23 Texas Tech
Bad Losses: None
4. Cincinnati 7-0 (123) Week 9: @ Syracuse (3-4)
Top 25 Wins: None
Bad Losses: None
4. Iowa 8-0 (123) Week 9: Indiana (4-4)
Top 25 Wins: #23 Arizona (5-2), @ #12 Penn State (7-1)
Bad Losses: None

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