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Daily Box Score 7/6: All-Stars, Steals, and Players as Foods

No doubt by now, you've perused the All-Star selections, which were released yesterday. Maybe you're mad about Josh Hamilton, Tim Wakefield, Ryan Howard, or Jason Marquis making the team. Maybe you're angry there was no love for Javier Vazquez, Mark Reynolds or Pablo Sandoval.

But wait! Those last two may yet make it, thanks to the Final Vote. The campaign machines are already gearing up, and MLB.com even lets you customize a campaign button widget for your social network of your choice. Remember, there is no limit on how many times you can vote.

Do you know the difference between FIP and QuikERA? The two stats both attempt to evaluate a pitcher's true performance, independent of fielding. But they differ in that FIP includes HRs allowed, while QuikERA is limited to strikeouts, walks and groundballs. So which is better? Well, that depends whether you think pitchers control home runs allowed, or merely fly balls allowed. Cyril Morong thinks there is a skill to preventing home runs above and beyond preventing fly balls. His conclusion is:

The correlations for walk rates and strikeout rates from ['03-'05] to ['06-'08] were 0.736 and 0.767, respectively. But for HR rates it was 0.505. This seems high enough to say that, yes, pitchers do differ in the HR rates they allow, even if the reason is their flyball rates.

Sounds like a vote for FIP.

What is the golden age of the stolen base? Was it the heyday of Rickey, or maybe Lou Brock? What about right now? At Dugout Central, Kerry Whisnant looks at the historical trends and finds that not only is the long-term SB trend upward, but that right now is the era with the highest stolen base percentage. Currently, the success rate for steals is approximately 73%, versus 57% in the 1950s. And although data are limited to the Retrosheet era, there is one aspect that is particularly surprising.

So the actual SB success rate was below break even in the mid-50’s, but from about 1960 to the late 90’s tracked fairly well with the break-even success rate. In the last few years, however, even as the break-even point has dropped (due to somewhat lower offensive levels), the SB success rate has continued to rise. Having the actual SB success rate consistently above the break-even point is unprecedented, at least in the Retrosheet era.

What could account for this historical level of success on the base paths?

On a lighter note, what type of food is your favorite player? Tyler Maas at Bugs and Cranks comes up with a comprehensive list. My favorites:

Angel "Thin Sliced" Salome

Alex "Absolut" Cintron

James "Ba" Loney

Shin-Soo "Big League" Choo

Barry "Baked" Zito

Got any of your own?

Finally, a look at some of the League's less successful teams. The Royals have fallen on very hard times since a promising start, and Royals Review, using WAR, wants to know why. So is Dayton Moore a good GM? Royals fans, take solace!  You look fine in comparison to the hapless Natinals. They just can't seem to get anything right--not even the fireworks.