Who was better in Game 1: Halladay or Lincecum?


This may be the first time I’ve ever said “shove your stinkin’ stats! I know what my own eyes tell me!” and wasn’t being snarky. But Dan Rosenheck’s piece in the New York Times concluding that Tim Lincecum’s 14 strikeout performance was better than Roy Halladay’s no-hitter actually has me saying it.

It’s not that I disagree with Rosenheck’s results, as such. He’s not, I don’t believe, making value judgments here. He’s using defense independent pitching analysis. He’s looking at Win Probability Added. The numbers, as far as a luddite like me can tell, add up. I’m not sitting here like some octogenarian newspaper columnist misusing that “lies, damn lies and statistics” quote while shaking my cane.

No, it’s not a case of me — a fellow traveler of many a stat-head — rejecting sabermetric orthodoxy. It’s just
a case of one fan — me — finding his own limit of the utility of statistical
analysis and saying: “Hey Dan: neat article. But it’s totally beside the point.

Sure, I suppose if I wanted to attack Rosenheck’s analysis I could get into the strength of each pitcher’s opponent. Or I could try to break down each pitcher’s command. Or I could actually track batted-balls and find some error in his approach. Or I could question the utility of using DIPS in a single game in the first place.

But I need not take any issue with his analysis to conclude that Halladay was better. I’m
merely sitting here as a baseball fan who watched the entirety of both
performances. I’m merely declaring — gleefully — that Doc was better than Timmy, no question about it, bub, and don’t you dare try to tell me any differently.

I usually cringe when someone tells me that statistical analysis has its limits and that looking at things from beneath a green eye-shade is an awful way to try and understand the game. But in this one instance, yeah, my inner-Joe Morgan is coming out.

Jharel Cotton to undergo Tommy John surgery

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Athletics right-hander Jharel Cotton will undergo Tommy John surgery, per an announcement on Saturday. Cotton initially experienced some elbow soreness during a Cactus League start earlier this week and was officially diagnosed with a strained ulnar collateral ligament and strained flexor muscle on Thursday. He’ll be out of commission until 2019 at the earliest.

This isn’t the first time Cotton has dealt with elbow issues. According to MLB.com’s Jane Lee, he had screws inserted in his right elbow after sustaining a stress fracture in 2013 and suffered some minor elbow discomfort again last fall. Prior to his diagnosis, the 26-year-old was poised for his third run with the A’s in 2018. He pitched his first full season with the club in 2017, turning in a 5.58 ERA, 3.7 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 in 24 starts and 129 innings.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle adds that the team is open to adding pitching depth this spring, though they’ll wait to see if the price goes down on some free agents first. Barring that, right-handed long reliever Andrew Triggs could be tabbed to fill the fifth spot in the rotation.