Indians activate Travis Hafner from the disabled list

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According to the Indians’ official Twitter feed, designated hitter Travis Hafner has been activated from the disabled list.

Hafner was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 29 with yet another case of soreness and discomfort in his shoulder.  It’s kind of shocking, given the big man’s history of shoulder problems, that he was able to return within three weeks.  Look for him to be inserted in the Tribe’s starting lineup immediately.

The 33-year-old Hafner is batting .267 with a disappointing .798 OPS, nine home runs and 33 RBI in 270 at-bats this season.  But he’s owed $13 million in 2011 and the same amount in 2012, so the Indians are probably stuck with him.

Outfielder Jordan Brown was optioned back to Triple-A Columbus in a corresponding move.

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.