Wednesday's Saber-Links

Here's Wednesday's edition of Saber-LInks:

Chris Lund of the Hardball Times discusses how rare an opportunity it is for the Nationals and Orioles to have a shot at making the postseason: Should the Orioles and Nationals be going for it?--THT

What does this all mean? For the teams that have made the playoffs in the past 10 years, at least one has found itself on the outside looking in one year later. For the Orioles and Nationals, this is something they know all too well, and it must be avoided at all costs. The O's and Nats have reached a stage where they need to win, and win now. Quite simply, they don't know when they'll be back—assuming they are at all—and need every advantage they can get.

Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated talks about the Angels' recent skid: Angels falling off the playoff path and road ahead is rocky | Hit and Run

Pujols is hitting a very characteristic .316/.387/.628 with 24 homers since Hatcher’s firing in mid-May. Downs is nearing a return from his shoulder strain, and regardless of the fifth starter, the team still has Weaver, Greinke, Wilson and Haren as its front four. Ownership has given this team virtually everything it needs to secure a playoff spot, but it’s on the Angels to take care of business.

Michael Barr of FanGraphs discusses whether Jon Lester's latest start is reason to believe the old Lester has returned: The Jon Lester Reclamation Project | FanGraphs Baseball

The vultures were swarming above Fenway, and many observers were simply waiting for the inevitable announcement that he was hurt. After establishing himself as one of the best pitchers in the American League, Lester was having his worst season as a major league pitcher, and it was only getting uglier as the season wore on. And then on Sunday, Lester went and struck out 12 Cleveland Indians over six innings pitched.

Colin Wyers of Baseball Prospectus uses FIP and WAR as examples of imperfect metrics that still are very useful: Baseball Prospectus | Manufactured Runs: The Importance of Imperfect Models

It’s quite easy to see how FIP "breaks" here—it’s a linear model, and the slope of the line means that it will go below zero if the conditions are right. Unlike reality, FIP is not bound at zero at the lower end. If a pitcher’s strikeout rate, relative to his walks and home runs, gets very high, you will see FIP go negative. But FIP will bend before it breaks—there are going to be some above-zero pitchers who nonetheless have lower estimates than they would if FIP was realistically bound at zero on the lower end.

The final link of the day is unrelated to sabermetrics, but a different form of baseball that many of us may not know about. Jay Shapiro writing for ESPN the Magazine talks about a small town in Uganda that is sending an African team to Williamsport for the first time in the history of the Little League World Series: Uganda's Lugazi is second-ever African team to qualify for Little League World Series - ESPN The Magazine - ESPN

On the other side of the enclosure, there is a patchy field of grass, and a little bit of magic. That yard produced the second African team ever to qualify for the Little League World Series in the 60-year history of international teams competing in Williamsport, Pa. The first was also from Uganda, just one year ago, but that team from Kampala never made it to America due to incomplete and sloppy documentation.

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