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Daily Box Score 6/25: Superstitions, Knock on Wood, and a Season-in-a-Graph

Superstition is an essential part of baseball: not jinxing the no-hit pitcher, avoiding infield lines, and engaging in complex at-bat routines are part of daily life on a baseball diamond.  But does any of it help?  Prompted by slumping Magglio Ordonez's decision to lop off his hair ("Change" "Overhauling. Maybe I hit like old Magglio" "Hot, too heavy."), Fantasy 911 asks the question and provides plenty of examples.  Wade Boggs ate chicken before every game, Larry Walker was obsessed with the number three, and don't ever ask Glen Davis if you can have a stick of gum.  

This week's news that the Moneyball movie had been dropped by its studio, despite commitments from both Brad Pitt and Steven Soderbergh on the film, has many in the baseball community upset.  But fear not!  It may still be possible to enjoy some of this project, even if it never sees the light of day.  Apparently, the studio decided to cut bait after the most recent screenplay revision, allegedly claiming that they did not like the direction the project was taking.  However, thanks to the magic of the Internet, we have access to an earlier copy of the script.  Billy Beane (Pitt) was to try to convert Paul DePodesta to weightlifting?  Sign me up!  Besides, even if Michael Lewis never thought Moneyball would make a good movie (and, really, who did?), it's still great to see all of Billy Beane's sterling quotes typeset like a screenplay.

Yesterday saw the exciting conclusion of this year's College World Series, as LSU's Tigers topped UT's Longhorns in what started out as a much closer game than it ended (funny how that works).  The White Sox first round selection in June's Rule 4 Draft, Jared Mitchell (23rd overall) continued to impress, hitting a three-run homer to put the Tigers out to an early lead.  One newly-minted professional baseball player, Longhorns closer Austin Wood (drafted 150th overall by Detroit) struggled in relief.  In a regional game, despite the fact that he had pitched the night before, Wood conspicuously tossed 169 pitches in a 13 inning outing, allowing no runs and guiding UT to victory.  

The high pitch count raised more than few eyebrows, but it may actually understate the problem in college baseball. The Hardball Times takes a look at the pitchers who have tossed more than 120 pitches and were drafted in June. While Wood is the one that sticks out, there are many notable names on the list (Leake and Minor, while Kyle Gibson and Stephen Strasburg just missed the cut). Interestingly, Kennesaw State and its draftees Chad Jenkins (first round) and Kyle Heckathorn (first round supplemental) all had very good records when measured by Pitcher Abuse Points (PAP).

Next, a request for help.  Plunk Everyone is looking for data on which players in the majors use elbow protectors, too see if this variable might impact HBPs.  Seems like an interesting idea, and it shouldn't be too tough to send him information about your favorite team.  I can tell you right now, Chase Utley doesn't wear no stinkin' elbow pads, and he doesn't seem to have any trouble getting hit.   

Finally, for those of you out there who are visualization nuts, Viva El Birdos takes a surprisingly clear and easy to follow look at how the Cardinals reached 40 wins this season.  Using batters' and pitchers' WPA graphs, it's very easy to see that, while the Cards were carried early by their bats, it has been all done with the pitching lately.  You know what they say, "it's not how--it's how many."  Click here to see the one graph to rule them all (pitchers' WPA, hitters' WPA and W-L all superimposed).