As always, be sure to leave links, stories, articles and pictures in the comments.
The All-Star Game intentional walk imbroglio is heating up, and everyone is taking sides. Posnanski was furious. Erik says there's no place for them in the ASG. Tango just thought it was a bad idea. WSJ numbers maven Carl Bialik says the payoffs may not be symmetrical, however:
Walking a batter to set up a possible double play and get a better batter-pitcher matchup might improve the chance of two runs scoring but might diminish the chance of any runs scoring.
Rob McQuown thinks it was obviously the right thing to do. Wezen-ball defends the intentional walk as essential to the game, and says we should blame the manager. For historical context, check out Alex Remington:
How rare are All-Star intentional free passes? After Rob Dibble's 1991 walk of Rafael Palmeiro, baseball went 17 years without seeing one. The stars made up for lost time in 2008, though with three coming in extra innings: Joakim Soria intentionally walked Miguel Tejada, and Aaron Cook intentionally walked Carlos Guillen and Justin Morneau.
What do you think?
From 2000 to 2008, what was the best season by a player who had a .300 OBP or below? How about the worst season by a player with a .400 OBP or above? Using wRC, Mike Axisa at River Ave Blues has found the answer to both questions. Mitch Melusky and Edgar Martinez top the .400+ list, and Corey Hart and Chris B. Young top the .300- list. Find the full lists and commentary at the link. I'd be curious to see the all-time lists.
Should draft picks be tradable, as they are in football and basketball? The restriction on trading picks is designed to help encourage competitive balance, but critics argue it hurts the very team it ostensibly benefits. Andrew Kneeland uses the case of Matt Bush (who was recently released by the Blue Jays) to argue that small-market teams would be better off if they could trade their top picks. It's an interesting argument, and recent history suggests that Kneeland may be correct.
How good is Hanley Ramirez? Well, if he can stick at shortstop, he's in some rarefied company, says RJ:
Honus Wagner: .392 wOBA, 1,519 plate appearances, three seasons of play
Alex Rodriguez: .406 wOBA, 4,247 plate appearances, eight seasons of play
Compared to Hanley: .397 wOBA, ~2,752 plate appearances, five (four, really) seasons of play
He can hit a little.
Ever since Voros McCracken first suggested pitchers have little control over balls in play, statistical analysts have been searching for examples that might violate the First Law of DIPS. Dave Allen hasn't succeeded yet, but he appears to have found a fruitful line of inquiry:
It looks to me for a pitcher to seriously decrease his BABIP based on the horizontal loation of his pitches he either needs to induce swings (and contact) outside of the zone or be able to locate on the outer fourth of the plate.
Graham is completely correct to laud the season that Zack Greinke has been having. But even as he goes forth to convince those who do not rely on advanced metrics, could it be that another frequently-tantalizing pitcher has finally put it all together in a big way? The Ghost of Moonlight Graham argues that Wandy Rodriguez's huge month of July (3-0, 0.41 ERA, 22/5 K/BB in 22 IP) is proof that he has. His season stats are also impressive. His tRA is even a shiny 3.49.
Finally, yesterday Ryan Howard hit the 200th home run of his career, making him the fastest player ever to do so. The previous record holder was Ralph Kiner, who did it in 706 games. Howard required only 658 games. He was uniquely suited to do this, as he arrived in the majors late (first full season at age 26), has prodigious power, and plays in a homer-friendly home park.