Craig Calcaterra

Tempe Diablo

The Angels-Royals game was delayed because of bees


And by this I am not referring to the Angels’ Triple-A team, the Salt Lake Bees:


I’m getting on a plane this morning to go to spring training in Arizona. I do hope they have this cleared up by the time I get there.

A-Rod made a pretty slick play at third base

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 7.06.32 AM

Over the winter and, again, as spring training started, the New York tabloids were on Alex Rodriguez’s case about his attempting to play defense. The idea being that he’s not the Yankees’ third baseman anymore so even his efforts to take groundballs at third base were an act of defiance of some sort. Some selfishness on his part designed to be provocative.

You’ll recall the conceit of these items. That A-Rod “didn’t get the memo”


And of course:

Well, it appears that A-Rod continues to selfishly refuse to read the memo. And that evil SOB must’ve drugged or brainwashed Joe Girardi to allow him to actually play third base in a game yesterday. And must’ve drugged or brainwashed all of us into seeing him actually perform there decently:

He said after the game not to expect too much of him on defense this year, but hey, he can fill in from time to time. He also went 1 for 2 with a double. So the long-promised “A-Rod will be a disaster” spring training is not exactly going as planned

God, A-Rod. You can’t even screw up properly.

Spring training stats don’t matter . . . except when they do

Cleveland Indians v Cincinnati Reds

“Spring training stats don’t matter.” We often repeat that. And, in a general sense — the sense in which most of us think about stats — they kind of don’t. A guy who hits .395 in the spring is not necessarily poised for a batting title. A pitcher who puts up a spring ERA of 1.04 is not bloody well likely to keep that going. Even in a broad “guys who do well in spring will do well in the regular season” assertion is not very well borne out by the numbers.

But that doesn’t mean that there are no predictive spring training stats. Dan Rosenheck of the Economist believes he has determined that there are:

Yet in spite of all these caveats, the claim that spring-training numbers are useless is wrong. Not a little bit wrong, not debatably wrong—demonstrably and conclusively wrong. To be sure, the figures are noisy. But they still contain a signal. At the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference held in Boston on February 27th-28th, I presented a study (see slides) that explained how to extract the statistical golden nuggets buried in this troublesome dataset, and offered some lessons this example provides for the practice of quantitative sports research more broadly.

The stats that are predictive: peripherals like strikeouts per at bat for hitters and K/BB ratios for pitchers. The predictions one can make from such things are not spelled out in 50-foot neon letters and numbers — thus making them not easily consumed by the majority of us who are, at best, analytical dilettantes — but there is a signal above all of the spring training noise to be had if you’re looking for it.

Rosenheck’s larger takeaway: whenever you hear someone assert something unequivocally like “spring training stats are meaningless,” don’t buy it. Because it’s quite possible they just haven’t looked hard enough. And maybe don’t care to.


Mat Gamel is still alive. The Yankees just signed him.

gamel getty

Mat Gamel was a top Brewers prospect for years, hitting .301 with 53 homers and an .886 OPS in 290 games at Triple-A over the course of his career. But he took a long time to get it together at the major league level. When he was finally given the Brewers starting first base job, bam, he tore ACL. That got fixed and, bam, another torn ACL. He hasn’t played in the bigs since 2012. Just horrendous luck for the guy.

Today he gets another chance, as the Yankees signed him. Obviously he’ll be in the minors, assuming he can show he’s healthy. But being organizational depth at this point is something to shoot for if you’re Gamel.

Good luck, kid.

Daniel Murphy exits game after being plunked on the hand

Daniel Murphy AP

In the middle of all of the Matt Harvey excitement, something else happened in today’s Mets-Tigers game: David Price plunked Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy on the hand with a pitch. It seemed wholly accidental, if you care about such things.

The pitch hit Murphy on the back of the hand. He stayed in at first, but he was removed from the game before taking the field in the top of the second inning. He’ll presumably get X-Rays.

Between the Bean and the plunk, not the best week in the world for Murphy.