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Tuesday

21

February 2017

43

COMMENTS

Things To Know for Tuesday

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Repeatable. Of the 112 World Series that have been contested since 1903 (in 1904 the Giants refused to play the American League champ; in ’94 no Series was played because of the baseball strike), 21 have resulted in a repeat win by the team that won the year before. Only 109 of the 112 could have resulted in a repeat. So, 21/109 results in a repeat winning percentage of about 19%. While not predictive of the Cubs’ chances for a repeat this coming season, it does give some useful perspective. This year will be a challenge for the team and fans.

The curious case of Hector Rondon. Last May 12, August Fagerstorm wrote for Instagraphs that Hector Rondon had been the second most effective reliever in all of major league baseball for the preceding season. In the early weeks of the ’16 season, Rondon was even more effective. At that point, Rondon had faced 43 batters, striking out 21, while yielding no walks and only 4 singles. His FIP was negative, -.015. Although Rondon was throwing more strikes than ever, batters were swinging less than ever. His rate of called strikes was the highest in the majors.

Then something began to change. The batters started swinging. Rondon’s numbers began to deteriorate. Not a lot. But enough to be noticeable. It seems the league may have made an adjustment. He was throwing more strikes than in the past, and when they swung, the hitters were hitting the ball harder. For the balance of the season, Rondon’s hard contact rate was the highest of his career. He finished the season with a hard contact rate of 32.6%.

Of course, Aroldis Chapman was acquired mid-season and that changed how Rondon was used thereafter. Comparing Rondon’s stats before Chapman joined the Cubs with after he joined the Cubs is not an apples to apples comparison. Then, on August 17, Rondon injured his right triceps. He missed the balance of August and early September. When he returned to the team, he was not nearly as effective as he was before the triceps injury. Still, he finished the regular season with some decent numbers: 18 saves, 7 holds and 5 blown saves. His ERA was 3.53. His strikeout ratio was 10.24 k/9. His WHIP was 0.98.

What many of us will remember most though were the blown saves, the home runs and Joe Maddon‘s loss of confidence in Rondon in the post-season. Joe did use him several times in the play-offs, but mostly not in leverage situations. And rightly so. Rondon was not the same pitcher after he came back in mid-September.

One of the the questions that interests me most about this season will be whether Rondon can return to form? He is 28 years old. How will he handle the challenges of 2017? He has the native ability to be a very valuable guy in the bull pen. And Wade Davis is long of tooth. Rondon’s success could be critical to the Cubs’ success this year.

The physics of baseball. The Chicago Council on Science and Technology and the Chicago Public Library will present Baseball: It’s Not Nuclear Physics — Or Is It? on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Check the council’s website for details.

There is no cost to attend. The presentation will be available on-line too, so don’t fret if you cannot attend in person. The speaker will be Alan Nathan, professor emeritus from the University of Illinois. In his day job, he was a particle physicist. But in his spare time, he is a die hard baseball fan. An unusually entertaining speaker, Dr. Nathan likes to quote Yogi Berra, “you can observe a lot by watching.”

  • Bruce Fritz

    I saw Alan Nathan give a presentation last year. It was fantastic! I highly recommend it.

  • Eddie Von White

    I highly recommend not fretting.

  • Sherm

    I have some questions. How many times in those years did one, or both teams from the previous WS have the chance (i.e. get back to the WS?) Certainly it seems like it had to be easier in the days of fewer playoff rounds, but the odds increase with each round won, I’d think.

    Is August 17 WHEN Rondon injured his triceps? Or is that when he finally said he couldn’t pitch effectively WITH the injured triceps? I’d guess the injury occurred earlier in the season…closer to the date that batters began “swinging more” because his movement and velocity were probably just a touch off – with a very minor tear, that got progressively worse. If he’s 100% healthy, there is no reason to think he’d be anything other than what he was before the injury.

    How long are Wade Davis’ teeth?

    I want to hear a philosopher do a talk. Maybe “Baseball: It’s not — or is it?”

    Every time I see mention of Aroldis Chapman? I’m glad he’s gone. I’m not sure why…possibly the domestic abuse/choking his girlfriend/firing his gun 8 times in anger – but I don’t like the guy. Sure, he can throw hard and is an asset to any team…but nonetheless, in my opinion, good riddance. I said something to that effect to my son-in-law over the weekend while visiting them in Texas, and my grandson, 9, said “why?” I said “he’s just not a good guy…” He said, (because he’s 9) “Why?” I said, “He’s an idiot.” He said, (wait for it) “Why?” I said, “he beat up his girlfriend and should have gone to jail…but the league suspended him, blah, blah…” He asked “is she still his girlfriend?” and I said “yes.” He said…”Maybe she’s an idiot, too.” I think he’s got a point. So, long story longer…at what point in our history did it become okay for athletes to behave badly and get away with it? Does it start with the coddling of players in high school…or even earlier? Is it parents? Coaches? Schools? Fans? All of the above? We just keep lowering our standards and I find it frustrating.

    Here’s my prayer for the Cubs: may the good guys always be good. Stay clean. Be grateful. Be humble. Be generous with your time.

    I love Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist and a host of others, too – including other players around the league because they are outstanding (or at least they sure SEEM to be) people who not only can excel at a sport, but at being a good person, and a good steward of their God-given gifts.

    Not sure where that came from…just started typing and there it was.

    • JTBarrett16

      I remember an incident when I was in high school. I had to see my dean about something, and I hear this guy yelling at another dean. He goes you’re suspended 2 days. Guy goes, you can’t do that to me! I’m on the football team!
      Dean: You are? Good! Your suspension is 3 days then!
      Football player: WHAT!?
      Dean: That’s right. You’re not playing on Friday
      Football player: You can’t do this to me! (Bleep you)
      Dean: What makes you think you’re entitled to do what you want because you play football? Big deal. You’re the backup on the JV team that sucks. You’re not going to be playing in the NFL. You’re not going to be playing in college. Hell you probably won’t even make varsity, let alone start on the JV team. Now get out of my office before I call your coach and order you removed from the team!

      • Sherm

        Was it a Monday?

      • So did he make the NFL or what?

      • JTBarrett16

        No one from my high school has ever played in the NFL

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      His eye tooth is so long it can see Cleveland.

    • Eddie Von White

      In answer to your question – all of the above.

    • Brad Lyerla

      Baseball players have always exhibited a lot of immoderate behavior. The players are young men on the loose with time, money and access. Thus, you get drinking, drugs, girls, gambling, fighting and all the rest. Some of this comes out in the baseball history books that I have described in past posts. What is different now is that the press turned a blind eye in the past. So, it may seem like it is happening more frequently now, but I am not sure that it is more prevalent now than before.

      I did not like Chapman either. I saw no evidence of remorse about the incident with his girlfriend. And the story of his ratting out the people who tried to help him escape from Cuba, the first unsuccessful time, made Chapman look pretty bad too. But he was young, uneducated and may be under a legal obligation to remain mute on the girlfriend incident. So, it is hard to tell.

      I cut him a little bit of slack because he cried when he let the team down in game 7. That allowed me to soften my views on him a bit. It shows that he is not entirely about just himself. Also, Sherm, I recall when you shared a bit about your late son’s issue. That story is a great illustration about the humanity of these situations and the danger of judging others too harshly.

      On the subject of the repeat, there are many more ways to slice and dice the numbers, but the refinements really don’t add much. The 19% is a very rough approximation, but (even though I didn’t bother to do the math) my instinct is that you can try to refine it as much as you like and it still will give only a very rough picture of the difficulty of repeating.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        Good Point on the older ball players. The Cubs of the early 1900s had their share of drunks, but as is true there are also the good like Billy Sunday who played for the Cubs and later became a famous preacher.

      • That fame may be limited to Wisconsin, Jerry.

      • Brad Lyerla

        Billy Sunday, that’s a good reference. He was before the phony evangelists of more recent vintage.

      • Eddie Von White

        That’s inappropriate.

      • Brad Lyerla

        EVW, I can delete anything that should be deleted. Email me at blyerla@me.com Thanks.

      • Brad. Give it a look. I bet you can find the insensitive part without Eddie’s help.

      • Brad Lyerla

        I goofed. Thanks for calling me on it.

      • Doc Raker

        Brad offended someone? What did I miss? Did he misspell fony?

    • Adam Peters

      We all know you are just trolling for Lizzies, Sherm. How long are Davis’ teeth indeed.

      I agree with you about Chapman. I’m glad we had him when we did, but I’m also glad we no longer do. Thed really take character into consideration when making personnel decisions and it shows with this team. Chapman was an exception, but I think the plan was always to let him go after the season, and presumably he’d be on good behavior because it was his big contract year, so they probably figured his character wouldn’t be an issue for the 4 months he was with the team.

      • Eddie Von White

        So what you’re saying is in the eyes of Thed, winning trumps character.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        Flags Fly Forever! or FFF for short.

    • Seymour Butts

      June 14th 1949.
      That is the day Eddie Waitkus was shot by a “fan”. At that point domestic abuse by players became fair play.

  • Buddy

    I think Rondon will be fine if healthy. Same for Davis of course. I know he probably seems like he’s been around forever, but Davis is only 31 and has only logged 776 career innings in the majors.

    • Brad Lyerla

      Good points about Davis. My trainer worked with Jason Kipnis this winter for a month or two. Kipnis told him that Davis is still a monster. Very tough to face.

  • JTBarrett16

    Hardee’s with a great article today on The Players’ Tribune:
    https://www.theplayerstribune.com/carl-edwards-jr-cubs-fly-the-w/

  • Sandy Morganstein

    Website is http://www.c2st.org.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    ESPN has a story about Sammy in Exile from the Cubs, where Sosa says “I put Chicago on the map.” The man has a bigger EGO than anyone I know.

    • Doug S.

      Sosa – “When nobody knew who Chicago was, I put Chicago on the map.”
      …….Really?……………..thanks Sammy.

      • Buddy

        Until Sammy Sosa put Chicago on the map, I thought it was just a crappy Richard Gere movie.

      • Eddie Von White

        I thought it was what Doug thought it was.

      • Doug S.

        I thought it was a 7 piece band with horns that went on to record some cheesy ballads.

      • Doc Raker

        That’s what Len thinks

    • JTBarrett16
    • JTBarrett16

      What a joke. But I will admit even though Wood’s 20K game is what made me a fan, Sosa kept me watching them from 1998-2002. Sosa developed a big head and a bad attitude at the end of his time in Chicago and he still has a big head.

      • Kyle

        I doubt it. He took a lot of steroids.

      • JTBarrett16

        It shrinks the nuts, not the head

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        In his case I Believe it increased the nuts in his head.

    • Doc Raker

      Everyone knows Mrs O’Leary’s cow put Chicago on the map

      • Eddie Von White

        I thought that’s what took Chicago off the map.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        Those reports were fake news! That whole trend started earlier than most people think.

      • JTBarrett16

        Alternate fact: Mrs. O’Leary’s cow did not kick over a lantern. The lantern fell

      • JTBarrett16

        Fake news. Paul Bunyon stopped a meteor from hitting Springfield with his ass, and flung it towards Chicago and that’s how the Great Chicago Fire started.