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Daily Box Score 7/25: Something Might be Gaining On You

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Tomorrow, Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson will officially be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. As two black players are inducted, it seems worth remembering arguably the greatest player in the history of the Negro Leagues, Satchel Paige. Former Boston Globe journalist Larry Tye has written a new biography of Paige entitled Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend. You can find an interview with Tye from Fresh Air on NPR, as well as excerpt from the book, here. A short bit:

Going for win number twenty-six, something snagged: with a 1-0 lead in the ninth, and two outs, his infield made three straight errors. The bases were loaded and Satchel was fuming. The crowd began to hiss, which made him madder still. "Somebody was going to have to be showed up for that," he wrote afterwards. "I waved in my outfielders. When they got in around me, I said, 'Sit down there on the grass right behind me. I'm pitching this last guy without an outfield.'" He milked the situation the way he once did cows on The Mount, taking his time, pumping back and forth. Three pitches, three strikes, and a win preserved. It was his twenty-sixth straight victory and the crowd went wild. "You wouldn't think a few hundred could make that much noise. But they did."

View From the Bleachers also recommends the book (although the first comment over there made me wince).

Let's continue with baseball history. One of baseball's great what-ifs concerns the 1919 Chicago "Black" Sox. How good would they have been if they hadn't thrown the World Series? Would old man Comiskey have kept the team together, building a dynasty that would have challenged the Yankees in the 1920s? Some answers, of course, are at Seamheads, featuring excerpts from Mike Lynch's new book It Ain't So. Lynch also simulates the '19 Series to see what would have been expected to happen:

Unlike the actual opening of the World Series, Game One of the simulated series was a tight, hard-fought affair that went 11 innings before a victor emerged and, unlike the actual Series, that victor was Chicago.

One of the things a stat-head enjoys most is pointing out underrated players, and this season is no exception. First, Sixty Feet, Six Inches wonders where the Dan Haren hype has been.

You read that right. A 0.83 WHIP. Zero. Point. Eight. Three.

He's already pitched three complete games this year, including a shutout. He leads the Majors in K/BB ratio with a dazzling 7.42, the highest of his career after also leading last year with 5.15. Haren's ERA+ is 210, or exactly 110% better than the average pitcher, adjusted for ball park factors. Through 143 innings, he's walked only 19 batters.

Haren's tRA is an impressive 2.95. However, he trails Greinke, Lincecum, Vazquez, Hernandez, and Pineiro in that department.

Speaking of King Felix, Matthew Carruth wants us to pay more attention to him. He notes that Hernandez has improved his command and is throwing slightly fewer fastballs. 

A funny thing happened though, instead of throwing fewer fastballs this year (64.2% versus a career mark of 60.8%), Felix has instead simply thrown better ones. It was always one of the possible paths of improvement that we in Seattle talked about, it just seemed the least likely and more difficult of the two. Perhaps throwing all those fastballs has finally paid off with improved command.

Hernandez has a tRA of 2.83, which is fourth in the majors.

So, if I gave you the choice of Hernandez or Haren, right now, for one start, whom would you choose?

When is a hit by pitch not really a hit by pitch? How about when the errant throw represented ball four anyway? And where might we go to find such information? Why, Plunk Everyone, of course

Pitches thrown on 0-0 counts have hit batters 0.17% of the time, while for some reason 0.24% of pitches thrown on 3 ball counts have hit the batter.

I can only assume this means batters have adopted the HBP as a way to prove their grittiness to the opposing pitcher, and they don't care if they're getting hit by ball 4 if it gets their message across.

Could it be a wrinkle on the old unintentional-intentional walk phenomenon?

To update an ongoing story, there is more drama in l'affaire Sano. It appears the testing is complete but inconclusive. They have verified his identity, but not his age. According to the Pittsburgh Post-GazetteMLB claims Sano is at least 17 years old. The Pirates themselves found Sano's age to be between 16 and 17 years.

The catch here is that, if Sano is caught not telling the truth about either when the U.S. consulate there does its own investigation (and yes, that is the next step), he will not be permitted entry into America at any point. That, according to a source, was why the hearing Wednesday was held, to stress that part to Sano.

His agent said he is looking to include a visa-dependent condition in any contract Sano might sign, to reassure teams that they will not be on the hook if Sano is prevented from entering the country.

Have you tried baseball-reference's "The" search feature? For example, if you search "the babe," it will return the most viewed page of any player with the string "babe" (or any variant thereof) in the name. Over at the b-ref blog, they're having some fun with this feature:

I was recently wondering who’d come up the most for "the Charlie". I thought maybe Pete Rose, due to his nickname. But anybody with the first or middle name of Charles or Charlie is fair game, meaning even a guy like Whitey (Edward Charles) Ford is eligible. Turns out that the Charlie with the most page views is, ahem, Mickey Mantle.

Try it for yourself. I was deeply disappointed that "the michael" gave me Mike Piazza not Michael Jack Schmidt.

Finally, for some comic relief, Jayson Werth presents his plan to revamp the Home Run Derby:

"I don’t know what those guys get if they win," Werth told Rumblings.

"But I think they should get a bag of cash."

Wait. A bag of cash? Like what, a shopping bag? Full of $20 bills?

"No, of hundreds," Werth said. "I’m talking about a sack full. Maybe a little leprechaun could carry it out there and throw it at your feet if you win. Then you’d hop in the back of a big Brinks truck and ride away. That would be awesome."

Yes, Jayson. Yes it would.