Finally – Real Games

Opening Day is a special day in Cincinnati, any Reds fan knows this as a being one of lives solid a truisms. We also know that the thrill is not a sensation that is only aligned with the Reds and their fan base, thus when I hear that opening day is coming I tend to think of the game as a whole not just the Reds and their long held tradition (which was started by Frank Bancroft back when Vine Street was lined with saloons and 5 cent beer)

It’s been a long winter, one that found me with little time to write or dig my head into any of the baseball history and Reds stuff I’ve promised or have cooking up in my notes. Work is as everyone says a “bitch” but a good one that keeps me away too long from thinking about silly, meaningless minutia about the Reds or baseball, but as always stuff about the game helps me occupy my free time and sometimes you just have a need to write some of it down, even if it doesn’t amount to anything more than a hill of beans.

Starting off the season:

We’ll hone right in on Saturdays game at the Los Angeles Coliseum between the Boston Red Sox and the Dodgers (51 years ago the Dodgers tested the waters for departing Brooklyn by playing the Sox in an exhibition in San Francisco, the positive response assured O’Malley that he was making the right move.)

If you don’t know about the odd dimensions of the LA venue then take a look below at this layout

When the Dodgers went west they owned a small park that PCL Angels had played in, it was a bandbox (as proven in the TV show Home Run Derby and the initial season of the LA Angels) therefore they decided to play in the Coliseum, a venue designed for anything…but baseball.

The rest is history, 4 season in a strange park with an odd setup that hurt some players like Duke Snider who as a LH hitter was 25 homers above the league average in Brooklyn and then only 6 the next season in LA. Meanwhile RH hitters aimed for the short fence and the high screen, and that’s where Wally Moon gained his notoriety.

Parks like the above skew the data, that is clear. It also can be seen as nothing more than an aberration to long term data, mostly because the participants often realize that the data is skewed. An example can be found in the 1884 Chicago White Stockings team who played in a park that would be the opposite of Dodgers venue

This park was short lived and in an era that home runs were if anything scarce. Yet the Chicago team raked throughout the season and by the end season they had 99 more home runs than the league average. To this day that is the third best in MLB history, and that is a fine example of skewed data. The next year the ground rules changed and the Home runs above league average dropped from 99 to 30.

But what a season, 7 of the top ten HR hitters in the league were Chicago players:

HOMERUNS                        DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE
1    Ned Williamson               23       27        4
2    Fred Pfeffer                 20       25        5
3    Abner Dalrymple              17       22        5
4    Cap Anson                    16       21        5
5    King Kelly                    9       13        4
6    Silver Flint                  6        9        3
7    Tom Burns                     3        7        4
T8   John Clarkson                 2        3        1
T8   Billy Sunday                  2        4        2
10   Walt Kinzie                   1        2        1

Well thank god the game isn’t played there today.. because this is what it looked like last night.

Anyway, the Dodgers and the Giants are celebrating their 50th year on the coast, I know I’m glad they are out here, and as the years pile up you hear less and less lamenting about their joint exodus from Gotham. So in honor of all those teams that fed let’s give a look at what teams have the longest tenure at their former residence.

Boston Braves         - 76 Years
New York Giants         - 74 Years
Brooklyn Dodgers         - 73 Years
Washington Senators 1.0     - 59 years
Philadelphia A’s         - 53 Years
St. Louis Browns         - 52 years
Montreal Expos         - 35 Years
Kansas City A’s         - 13 Years
Milwaukee Braves         - 13 Years
Milwaukee Brewers 1.0     - 1 Year
Seattle Pilots         - 1 Year

Crazy Stats for Opening Day:

When Jeff Keppinger takes the spot at short for the Reds on opening day it will the 5th straight different starting shortstop for the Reds in 5 opening days.

Big deal right?

Maybe… however the last time the Reds had a string that equaled this was from 1908 to 1914 when they had a different shortstop for seven straight seasons.

They were
Ruiswitt
Mowrey
Downey
Atizer
Esmond
Tinker
Herzog

The winning percentage for that era was .460, the winning percentage of the current run is .465.

For years the Reds were spoiled in the shortstop position, now….. not so much.

Speaking of shortstops:
Khalil Green entered a unique club last season, one that makes him not only the only shortstop in the group, or middle infielder… but the only little white guy in the group.

It’s a strange group, the club is limited to players who had 70 or more extra base hits AND an on base percentage below .300

First off Lee may is the first man to do it and the other two members I’d expect to see on this list… BUT…GREEN?

The game is a tad different these days, but you’d think in the name of Paul DePodesta a man might not bat enough to get 70 extra base hits in a season with that sort of on base percentage.

Unless he’s bringing something else that counteracts the lack of on base skills/

All I know no one drafted Green in my strat-to-matic league.. because we like guys who get on base I guess.

EXTRA BASE HITS >= 70
OBA <= .300

AGE                           YEAR     AGE      EBH      OBA
1    Joe Carter               1989       29       71     .292
2    Sammy Sosa               1997       28       71     .300
T3   Khalil Greene            2007       27       74     .291
T3   Lee May                  1970       27       70     .297

So what are we waiting for?

Let’s start the season… as they say up north.

Game On!!

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