Reds prospect Travis Wood impresses in debut versus Cubs

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Travis Wood has boosted his prospect stock dramatically by posting great numbers in the minors since coming back from shoulder problems in 2008 and turned in an impressive debut yesterday against the Cubs, taking a shutout into the eighth inning.
He exited with two runners on base and they both scored off reliever Nick Masset, but the 23-year-old southpaw and former second-round pick certainly pitched well enough to at least remain in the rotation until Edinson Volquez returns from Tommy John elbow surgery.
Wood is far from an elite prospect and as a fly-ball pitcher Cincinnati’s ballpark isn’t an ideal fit, but the combination of a low-90s fastball with a strong cutter and changeup potentially makes him a mid-rotation starter long term. He had a 2.27 ERA and 232/76 K/BB ratio in 265.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A since the beginning of last season.

Must-Click Link: Sherri Nichols, Sabermetic Pioneer

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If you are old enough and lame enough as I am, you may have lurked around on sabermetic message boards in the 1990s. If you did, you may have heard of Sherri Nichols, who back in the day, was a significant contributor to the advancement of statistical analysis, particularly defensive analysis.

While it’s probably better that not everyone is as old and nerdy as me, the downside of it is that most people haven’t heard of Nichols and know nothing about her contributions. That changes today with Ben Lindbergh’s excellent analysis of Nichols and her work over at The Ringer, which I recommend that you all read.

The short version: Nichols is the one who planted the seed about on-base percentage being valuable in the mind of Baseball Prospectus Founder Gary Huckabay, back in the late 80s. She’s also the one most responsible for the rise of zone-based defensive metrics in the 1990s, such as Defensive Average, which she created and which served as the basis for other such metrics going forward. She also played a critical role in the development of RetroSheet, which collected almost all extant box score and play-by-play information going back to the turn of the 20th century, thereby making so much of the information available at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs possible. A key contribution there: making the information free and available to everyone, rather than closing the underlying data off as proprietary and either charging for access or keeping it in-house like some recent data collectors have chosen to do. Ahem.

A larger takeaway than all of Nichols’ contributions is just how loathe the baseball community was to listen to a woman back then. I mean, yeah, they’re still loathe to listen to women now, as indicated by the small number of women who hold jobs in baseball operations departments, but back then it was even worse, as evidenced by Lindbergh’s stories and Nichols’ anecdotes.

A great read and a great history lesson.