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SaberSphere 4/02: Strikeouts, Replacement Level, and James Shields

Today's SaberSphere looks into articles ranging from research on James Shields to Elvis Andrus' new deal with the Texas Rangers. Don't forget, yesterday was opening day, and all vignettes concerning the first day of the season are welcome on the SaberSphere. Lastly, check out what you could be chowing down on at ballparks around the country.

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Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Today's Tuesday, which means yesterday was opening day. Congrats baseball fans, we have finally reached our goal, to be able to watch meaningful baseball every day for the next 7 months. Today's SaberSphere appropriately mixes great research with some fun, going from an analysis of strikeout rates to looking into the perfect game equivalents for position players. We should always keep up our skills when it comes to evaluating talent, so how about individual pitches? Finally, don't forget to take a big honking bite out of a Beltre Burger, or maybe it's the Luther Burger that does the trick.

Strikeouts have consumed the talk of the town recently, and James Gentile is on the case. Makes sure to take a look at his previous studies of the increase in K rates over the last few years, but more so, take a look at this piece. James articulates the schematic for this conversation, speaking specifically to the asymmetry in value of strikeouts between pitchers and hitters.

In this well written piece by Dan Rozenson, Dan goes through Royal's new ace James Shield's repertoire on the mound. Sound like the same dribble you usually hear from broadcasters, nope, this isn't the usual. Dan's gone deeper, looking at Shield's pitches one-by-one using PITCHf/x, and even speaks to the DIPS effects of Shield's performance on the mound.

Many of you watched the Astros open the 2013 regular season with a surprise victory over their divisional foe the Texas Rangers. Bud Norris started for the Astros, keeping the Rangers in check for 6+ innings. His formula for success is slightly different than most starters, and Spencer has decided to tell you all about it.

This article is just flat out cool. What a clever idea to take the ultimate one-game success for a pitcher and translates it into a similar performance for the other positions on the field. It seems simple, but any fan of the game should take a look at this piece, it's just pure baseball fun.

This has been a great series of articles. Baseball Prospectus's staff has gone through all of the tools and skills scouts commonly look for amongst the various positions, describing how to differentiate these skills, and naming who they think has the best of the best. In this edition, the crew at BP focuses on the best pitches in the minors, all-time, and what to look for when watching pitching.

The most recent big signing wasn't Buster Posey or Justin Verlander, but Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. Andrus agreed to remain in Texas for 9 years, and Dave Cameron breaks down the good, the bad, and the ugly of the deal and Andrus' play.

For Sabermetricians who are constantly trying to learn more about the metrics they use so often, take a look at Chris Jaffe's piece on supestats. He goes through different parts of WAR including win shares, fielding metrics, and the like.

With Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference recently coming to a consensus on a baseline for what makes a replacement level player, WAR has become an easier statistic to use. In addition, it's opened up some interesting tidbits in baseball's history, leading Rob Neyer to look at the ultimate replacement level player in baseball history.

Opening day is here, and Cee Angi takes you inside one fan's, or maybe not, opening day experience. Her piece weaves baseball history, trivia, and current news into a fun op-ed that underscores all the amazement that baseball has to offer.

This section is supposed to be reserved for non-baseball items, but after reading this article I couldn't resist. Check out what some ballparks are offering to entice us to call on our inner slobs. Pay close attention to the commentary, it's very clever. Also, who wouldn't want chili in their bag of Fritos?