Grateful Rays give Orioles’ Robert Andino a standing ovation

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Robert Andino couldn’t be granted a playoff share, but the Rays did give him a standing ovation when he came to bat in the first inning Friday of their game against the Orioles.

Andino had the ninth-inning single that beat the Red Sox on the final day of the 2011 regular season. The Rays went on to beat the Yankees later in the evening, giving them the AL wild card.

“We just talked about that prior to the game, what was the appropriate thing to do? We saw him in the two-hole, we said let’s give him a nice round of applause,” Rays manager Joe Maddon told the Tampa Tribune. “He was startled by it. He didn’t know what was going on. He was looking around. I thought it was pretty good.”

Andino went on to double in the at-bat. The Rays and Orioles ended up playing to a 3-3 tie in 10 innings.

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.