It was reported earlier this week that reliever Tommy Hunter was close to landing a two-year deal with the Yankees worth between $11.5-12 million before it was voided due to an issue with his physical. Coming back from core muscle repair surgery, he ended up settling for a one-year, $2 million deal with the Indians.
Indians manager Terry Francona said earlier this week that Hunter will likely begin the season on the disabled list, but he went a step further this afternoon by telling Jordan Bastian of MLB.com that he could be sidelined through mid-May. Craig Stammen, who recently signed a minor league deal with Cleveland, is also expected to miss the start of the season as he makes his way back from surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon. Both could be useful bullpen arms if they come back healthy, but the Indians will have to make do without them in the early part of the season.
Hunter, 29, compiled a 4.18 ERA and 47/14 K/BB ratio over 60 1/3 innings between the Orioles and Cubs in 2015.
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.