Monday, June 14, 2010

Poll Results: Are Umpires Doing a Good Job?

So my posting of the results of this poll has been pretty delayed, but it looks like it's going to work out because of some more recent events that I can talk about in this post that I wouldn't have been able to talk about had I posted these results on time. Anyway, here are the results from the last poll:

Are Umpires doing a good job for the most part?

Yes 8 (61%)

No 5 (38%)

The majority of you, albeit not an incredibly powerful majority, seem to think umpires are doing a good job for the most part. Part of the reason I posted this was because I was curious to see how much Jim Joyce's mistake would effect people's votes. I'm sure last year's post-season blunders also helped contribute to 38 percent of the voters not thinking the umpires are doing a good job.

Interestingly, ESPN ran a poll of players to see how they felt umpires were doing, and also to see who the players felt the best umpires in the game were. 65 percent of players (which is actually close to the results of this poll) seem to think that the umpires are doing an average job or better. More interestingly, they found that Jim Joyce was the bes tumpire in the major leagues according to the players, and this poll was done after the Galarraga game.

Overall, I have to agree that umpires are doing their job. They do make their share of mistakes, but so do officials in every other sport. Umpires are right the majority of the time, unless they are CB Bucknor, in which case the strike zone seems to change on every pitch.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Stephen Strasburg

So, a couple of weeks ago I posted a poll about Stephen Strasburg that you guys participated in, and the majority of you seemed to think he was overrated, and I agreed, stating that he would be a major league contributor very soon, but also feeling he would not be as overpowering as many had projected.

If his first two starts are any indication, he is going to be overpowering. In 12.1 innings, Strasburg has struck out 22 batters and walked only 5 (although those 5 were all in today's start). While walking 5 in 12.1 innings is not an impressive start, a 22-5 K/BB ratio is fairly impressive.

It should be noted that the two offenses that Strasburg has faced, the Pirates and the Indians, are rather anemic, and near the bottom of their respective leagues in Runs Scored, and this could have something to do with his fast start. However, the fact remains that the line-ups he has faced so far ar emost certainly an upgrade from the AA and AAA line-ups he was facing, and he is essentially continuing to do what he did in the minor leagues.

I still feel that Strasburg will likely hit a bump in the road at some point, and there's no way he maintains his incredibly low ERA or his enormous K/9 rate. However, I do think he will surpass the expectations that I originally set for him.

Part of the reason I feel this way is because he was able to excel in his first start under what was immense pressure. He gave the Nationals their first sell out in the regular season that wasn't Opening Day since like, the park opened. He also had everyone in sports media watching him, and his team giving him a nickname like "Jesus". Strasburg was able to tune all of this pressure out, and completely and utterly dominate the Pirates. Mentally, he is tough enough for the extremely mentally tough game of baseball, and if he has that to go with the pitches he has, he is going to be very hard to stop.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bud Selig's Comments on Jim Joyce's Blown Call

So, as expected, Bud Selig quickly came out with comments in regard to Joyce's blown call.

Unshockingly, Selig said he would not reverse the call, which I think is a good idea because (as Kurkjian notes in that video), it would open up a can of worms in regard to baseball. While some seem to be worried that past umpire mistakes would have to be re-examined and overturned if Selig overturned this call, I thinkt he main problem would be the future. I can almost guarantee that in the future, had Selig overturned the call, there would have been a situation in which something happens that causes a team or player to demand another umpiring decision to be overturned. The problem is, in most cases, an umpire call is not even easy to talk about overturning because you can't reply certain parts of the game. While it's true that the blown call was on the very last out of the game, I still feel it would have created problems in the future in regard to people demanding the commissioner over turn umpire calls.

The other important thing that Selig said is that he is going to analyze umpiring and figur eout what they can do to increase accuracy. In other words, he's considering implementing further instant replay reviews. I'm glad to see that he is considering this, the "Special Committee" he appointed during the off-season has also apparently been throwing the idea around. I think it's important that they get it right if they do implement it, and limit the number of reviews that a manager can ask for, otherwise the system would be abused. It would even kind of make sense if it were the umpires themselves who decided when to use the instant replay review, such as during an extremely close play like the one that occurred during Galarraga's 1-hitter.

Should be interesting to see what happens with instant replay, I have a pretty strong feeling that it will probably be implemented by the 2011 season.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Three Perfect Games in One Season...Or Not..

So, tonight Armando Galarraga threw a perfect game, but didn't get credit for it because of a botched umpire call in the 9th inning. That link also has a video, if you want to see how close (or not close, in this case) the play was for the umpire to make a mistake.

It's kind of shocking that that would happen, and it's going to create even more scrutiny for Major League Baseball umpires, something that I know increased following the series of botched calls during the playoffs last year. It's probably also going to lead to an increase in talks about expanding replays for the game.

One of the more shocking things about this botched call is how level-headed Galarraga and his team-mates have been about it. Galarraga and Austin Jackson both stated that they understand that Jim Joyce is human and that he is going ot make mistakes. Many a pitcher would have gone crazy the moment they saw the umpire call the runner safe. Definitely have to give credit to the young Galarraga for keeping his composure.

It should be interesting to see what the MLB says about this, but you can bet that this missed call will probably go down as the worst in history in any sport, simply because a Perfect Game is one of the rarest things in baseball (although they seem to grow on trees lately..), and this umpire's call kept it from happening.

Poll Results: Stephen Strasburg

Is Stephen Strasburg over-hyped?

Yes. 7 (70%)

No. 3 (30%)

Who's Stephen Strasburg? 0 (0%)

The majority of you seem to feel that Strasburg is certainly an overhyped player, and you're probably right. With the amount of attention he has received, it would be pretty hard for him not to be overhyped, unless he manages to put up an ERA of like 2.50 for the rest of his career.

However, all signs seem to indicate that Strasburg can definitely be an immediatley serviceable major league pitcher. So far in his minor league career, between the Washington Nationals AA and AAA affiliates, Strasburg has has 10 starts. Over those starts, he has put up a 6-2 record with a 1.43 ERA. What's scary is that his peripherals indicate that his numbers could be even better. Strasburg has put up a .795 WHIP, a 10.7 K/9, and a 2.1 BB/9. Those numbers, especially the WHIP, really indicate that Strasburg is way above the skill level of everyone else in the minor leagues. While it's hard to see him posting numbers even close to that in the major leagues (starting pitchers rarely have a WHIP below 1.00), it really indicates that he is going to be a solid pitcher, even right away. I would not be shocked to see Strasburg, who is rumored to make his first start in the major leagues next week, manages to put up an ERA right around 4.00 and have a K/9 of close to 9. Those numbers may not be overwhelming, but they certainly are for a rookie who was drafted last year.

But yes, Strasburg is likely overhyped. Many people will probably be dissapointed if Strasburg puts up a 4.00 ERA during his first major league season simply because of the amount of hype he has received, and some people may be expecting far too much from him. Hopefully he can find a way to handle that scrutiny, and just let his talent carry him.