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I am really, really, really sick and tired of hearing "It's early, but . . ." What if some of the early-season events are actual indicators and not merely scurrilous scatterings of small samples? So let's all play the first annual (snicker) edition of "Fluke" vs. "Trend"! Grab some Yoohoo, find a friend (or hire one, this being a community of nerds, after all), and pull up a chair (or two, this being a community of fat nerds, after all).

Eight games in and the A's are doing exactly what I thought they would be doing. Outside of the Two-H-Club -- Danny Haren and Rich Harden -- the rotation looks iffy. Other than Juan Cruz, the bullpen has been terrific. Offensively? Yuk. They've scored three runs or less in five games. They work counts and draw walks but don't drive people in. Erubiel Durazo has four singles in his eight games. Keith Ginter has twice as many home runs as Eric Chavez. Nick Swisher has nine strikeouts and one walk. Bobby Kielty and Charles Thomas are 0-20 with one walk. The team has been beaten or held down by such luminaries as Gustavo Chacin, Rob Bell, Josh Towers, and Hideo Nomo. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Opinion? TREND.

Through eight games, Albert Pujols does not have a strike out.

Opinion? TREND. He will not strike out once this entire season.

The Orioles starting second baseman is slugging a robust .931, he's stolen a couple of bases, and he's hit four home runs. No, they did not trade for the player Marcus Giles was supposed to be. Of course I'm talking about Brian Roberts, the little switch-hitter who could. Anyone who has seen Roberts play knows he's a good baseball player with modest statistical evidence to back this up. On the other hand, is he this good? Probably not. But is he on the verge of a breakout? Possibly. In preparing for my AL-only keeper auction fantasy draft, I read a blurb on Roberts which said something to the effect of, "Having hit 50 doubles last year, Roberts could be on the verge of a power surge." After cleaning up the coffee I spit out from laughing so hard, I turned to the annual Marcus Giles Career Season Pimping Page. So who's laughing now, Gizzi????? Still . . .

Opinion? An obvious FLUKE, though Roberts is a terrific player.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are hitting .297/.373/.519 as a team and have scored 47 runs. The team has no pitching so they had better be scoring runs, but it's not as if they have a roster of Brian Roberts's -- i.e. players doing things they have never done before. Troy Glaus was clobbering the ball last year until he got hurt, and he's off to a nice start so far in 2005. Luis Gonzalez won't hit even 30 home runs again, but he's going to slug .500. The potential is there for Shawn Green to bounce back -- he's only 32-years-old -- and while it's unreasonable to suggest a return to 45-plus home runs, 35 is not asking too much. Craig Counsell has drawn nine walks already, and in general is a good OBP guy to have around. To repeat: There are people who know how to reach base and to hit for power in Phoenix. Sadly, there are also people who know how to allow people to reach base and to hit for power in Phoenix, so watch out in the swimming pool.

Opinion? TREND.

Not given a lot of respect in the analyst community, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are 5-3, using a formula similar to the A's, with one exception: they're scoring runs. With a team OPS of .721, we're still trying to figure out how they're doing it, but they've amassed 45 runs in eight games, or 16 more than the A's. Like the A's, they are getting outstanding work from their bullpen, in particular the rubber-armed (or so the Angels hope) Scot Shields, who's already appeared in five games. On the other hand, as a team the Angels are allowing 1.54 base-runners per nine innings. If that keeps up, they're going to give up more runs than they score. Or will they?

Opinion? TREND. The Angels's statistics will look inferior but the only one that counts -- wins -- will be more than anyone else in the division.

Not given a lot of respect in any community, the Toronto Blue Jays are flying to the tune of a 6-2 record. Their new closer, Miguel Batista, has a win and three saves despite throwing, roughly, nine balls to every strike. Rookie starter Chacin has been terrific in his two starts, and Josh Towers seems to have found four MPH on his fastball. Eric Hinkse has been re-born as Albert Pujols, though I think the Jays and their fans would settle for something more like Eric Hinske, circa 2002. As a team, they are hitting .321/.385/.512 with runners on base. They are playing extraordinary defense. Their team K/BB ratio is nearly 3:1. In short, nearly everything has gone right. Which can only mean . . .

Opinion? FLUKE. Sorry, kids, but the fun will end soon; the team simply isn't this good. But who cares? Enjoy it while you can, and if the team keeps playing as it has -- not giving away at-bats, not allowing free and cheap baserunners, playing defense as if their lives were at stake -- it's going to be a good year in Toronto no matter what.
It's early, but . . . | 25 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
mathesond - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 04:26 PM EDT (#111253) #
Will Roberts continue to outhit Sosa by a 4-1 margin? Which is more indicative of Danny Kolb's season - the 9.00 ERA or the 75% save coonversion rate? Will Kolb finish the year with more saves than K's again?

(I think the answer to the last one is TREND)
Terran - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 04:42 PM EDT (#111255) #
I think the Jays are starting a trend too. Obviously we're not going to finish the year with a .750 win percentage and we might not even make the playoffs, but the Blue Jays this year are all about balance and short of another terrible year injury wise, I think that's what we're going to see. I think 80-86 wins and a third (or maybe even 2nd if the Soxs or Yankees falter) showing is not unrealistic.
Joe - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 04:47 PM EDT (#111256) #
Remember, folks, this is the same Gitz who said "Mark my words, kids. Come June, you are going to rue the day the Jays acquired Lilly," so his prognostication abilities are in question. :)
Mylegacy - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 04:58 PM EDT (#111260) #
Trend, here's why.

As Yogi would say the game is 90% pitching and the other 50% is mental. Our pitching is SOLID. The starters one through five and one through 7 in the pen. If someone is having an off day we can pick them up, stop the bleeding.

Defense, very, very, very close to WOW!

Bats, OK this is the one area where we could be iffy. BUT, Wells, O'Dog and Koskie are all realitively cold. They will warm up as Hinske, Hiilebrand and Rios cool.

This team could suprise.
Mylegacy - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 05:01 PM EDT (#111261) #
Hiilebrand?? I gotta lay off that second martini at lunch.

Hillenbrand, sorry.
Original Ryan - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 05:02 PM EDT (#111262) #
In fairness to Gitz, he didn't specify which June. When Ted is 68 in June of 2044 and has posted a record of 0-35 with an ERA over 200 in each of the past 26 seasons, I'm sure we'll all be wishing the Blue Jays had never picked him up.
Named For Hank - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 05:32 PM EDT (#111269) #
...or signed him to that 300 year guaranteed contract.
Mick Doherty - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 05:42 PM EDT (#111271) #
I'm sure we'll all be wishing the Blue Jays had never picked him up.

O.R., I'm sure the people of T.O. will be O.K. with T.R., even at 0-35, given his 442 wins in the preceding 26 years.

uglyone - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 05:44 PM EDT (#111272) #
Arnie's Army (the Jays pitching corps) has the 2nd lowest walk rate in the league.

Opinion? TREND.
Craig B - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 05:54 PM EDT (#111275) #
Grab some Yoohoo, find a friend (or hire one, this being a community of nerds, after all), and pull up a chair (or two, this being a community of fat nerds, after all).

Dude, if you've got a problem, start by laying off the YooHoo.

I may be fat, and a nerd, but I'm not... wait...

Chuck - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 05:55 PM EDT (#111276) #
Arnie's Army (the Jays pitching corps) has the 2nd lowest walk rate in the league. Opinion? TREND.

Might be a trend, but it might also be due to facing TB 3 times in 8 games.

Craig B - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 05:56 PM EDT (#111277) #
or signed him to that 300 year guaranteed contract

LAW! Step into my office please...

jsoh - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 06:09 PM EDT (#111280) #
this being a community of fat nerds

Hey! I'm an action nerd, thank you very much!

Named For Hank - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 06:23 PM EDT (#111281) #
Might be a trend, but it might also be due to facing TB 3 times in 8 games.

Are the Red Sox chopped liver or something? Or just average?

Pepper Moffatt - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 06:24 PM EDT (#111282) #
Grab some Yoohoo, find a friend (or hire one, this being a community of nerds, after all), and pull up a chair (or two, this being a community of fat nerds, after all).

Worst.. generalization... ever!

I think it was Dave Till who said it last: You're never as good as you look during a winning streak or as bad as you look during a slump. So I don't know if the Jays recent string of success will be a trend (thought it's been a hell of a lot of fun), but I don't think the inevitable 2-8 stretch they're bound to go on at some point will be a trend either.

rawbee - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 06:37 PM EDT (#111283) #

Might be a trend, but it might also be due to facing TB 3 times in 8 games.

I would think that would be more than balanced out by facing Boston and Oakland, who were 2nd and 3rd in the AL in BOB last year, in the other five games.

Any rotation with Halladay, Towers is off to a nice start in preventing walks.

Actually, I think all the starters are being encouraged to throw strikes and let the defense worry about the rest. With the defense the Jays have, that strategy could make Towers and Chacin league average starters. League average is pretty good from your #4 and #5 guys.

I intend to remain blissfully optimistic about this team for as long reasonably possible.

Keith Talent - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 06:58 PM EDT (#111284) #
But what's so great about April baseball is you just never know if it's the real thing or not. Remember KC Royals a handful of years ago, that hot start pushed them into playoff contention. Everyone was equally surprised by the Minnesota Twins in 2002 and that started a dynasty in the Central. The Braves shocked everyone in 1991, they've won every division title since. The year before that, 1990, the Cincinatti Reds rode a hot start to a World Series title.

So, I'm enjoying this; and, you never know...
Nolan - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 07:02 PM EDT (#111285) #
Hey! I'm an action nerd, thank you very much!

My heart skipped a beat for a second when I read this. Could it be possible that I just read a Eddie Izzard quote on a Jays site?

Besides, I think some of would also be executive nerds...

VBF - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 07:10 PM EDT (#111287) #
But what's so great about April baseball is you just never know if it's the real thing or not. Remember KC Royals a handful of years ago, that hot start pushed them into playoff contention. Everyone was equally surprised by the Minnesota Twins in 2002 and that started a dynasty in the Central. The Braves shocked everyone in 1991, they've won every division title since. The year before that, 1990, the Cincinatti Reds rode a hot start to a World Series title.

Yes. Despite reality telling me that baseball is a game of cheques and balances and that the Jays will even out at some point, I'd like to believe that this is the season where everyone expects us to fall at some point, yet we fail to.

The offence may experience peaks and valleys but pitching and defence will be a mainstay, something that we really haven't had for a while. If the offence goes through a slump, the pitching is there to win those 2-1, 10 inning barnburners.

Magpie - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 08:25 PM EDT (#111300) #
baseball is a game of cheques and balances LOL. In New York, anyway.
Dave Till - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 08:38 PM EDT (#111304) #

I think it was Dave Till who said it last: You're never as good as you look during a winning streak or as bad as you look during a slump.

Not sure whether it was me who said it, but I'll gladly take the credit. :-)

I'm not sure what to make of this team yet. I think that the starting pitching has been a bit flukey: opposing hitters seem to have hit a lot of balls right at people. I also don't think that some of the hitters are going to keep this up; how could they?

But there are indicators that the team has genuinely improved. One, of course, is Hinske; he has made an adjustment, and the league hasn't caught up yet. The other important point, IMHO, is that the team has a lot fewer weaknesses than last year.

The offense doesn't have any significant holes. The weakest hitter is probably Adams, and he's making a contribution (i.e., he's better than Woody or Gomez). The guys off to the slowest starts are the ones likely to be the most consistent at season's end (Hudson, Wells, Koskie).

The team defense is rock-solid this year; I can't think of anybody who is a below-average defender out there except possibly Cat, and Sparky substitutes for him when a glove is needed.

And, while the bullpen is likely to be shaky at times, there isn't any roster filler in there. And the starters have been good so far, except for Bush. (Aside: What has Josh Towers been eating for breakfast? Since when did he start striking out a man an inning?)

I still agree that it's too early to tell. But it's better to be 6-2 than 2-6, for sure. And success tends to breed more success, as players get more confident and opponents start to treat the Jays with more respect.

Useless Tyler - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 09:42 PM EDT (#111323) #
Looks like I'll be the only one who can say I never doubted the team when they win the pennant this year.

I mean, come on, at least back up arguments with some sort of fact - just saying "they're a bad team" could've applied to any of the cinderella teams of the past few years. Really though, if you're basing it solely on past performance, then that's flawed right there - there's no reason to think Hinske can't pull off a fine season, or that Halladay can bounce back, or that Chacin can be the next big thing, or that Batista can shut down hitters, because all sports are deliciously unpredictable in that fashion.

And yes, I am a blind optimist when it comes to the Jays, and damn proud of it. Go ahead and take this diatribe to quote profusely if they die down by mid-season, but I'll be happier as a fan to know that I had irrational faith than to smugly congratulate myself on predicting the collapse of the team I grew up with.

That sounded more self-righteous than it was supposed to, and sorry for that - but as a sidenote, regardless of how this Jays streak ends, come out to the Cheer Club for at least 2 hours and 40 minutes worth of similar blind optimism during each game - it's quite euphoric. Then you can all share my joy. :-)
Willy - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 10:00 PM EDT (#111330) #
"As Yogi would say the game is 90% pitching and the other 50% is mental."

No, no. He said, "Ninety percent of this game is half mental." Now *that* makes good sense, of course.
VBF - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 10:28 PM EDT (#111342) #
This quick start has reminded a little of the 1990 Reds but on a negative side it has also reminded me of the 2001 Jays. The 2001 Jays had a very impressive April and by May 1st had gone a remarkable 16 wins and 9 losses. Led by their questionable, Opening Day ace, Loaiza, and his 4-1 record, the Jays were sitting pretty in first place and destined for stardom.

Their Opening Day lineup, from Retrosheet and their line by the end of April 2001:

Shannon Stewart (.390/.455/.590)
Jose Cruz Jr. (.316/.369/.537)
Raul Mondesi (.278/.393/.495)
Carlos Delgado (.293/.478/.695)
Brad Fullmer (.288/.327/.385)
Tony Batista (.186/.245/.441)
Alex Gonzalez (.267/.319/.347)
Darrin Fletcher (.195/.253/.247)
Jeff Frye* (.213/.288/.277)

*Not on Opening Day starting lineup, played majority of April.

The physical lineup does actually share some similiarities with our 2005 Jays. The veteran catcher and veteran third basemen are the two most common factors. Organizational wise, the 2001 Jays were different than the 2005 version. And their style of play differed than the modern one. 2001 was a power oriented lineup with the possibility of three, 30 home run players.

Opening Day rotation for the 2001 Jays, their W/L and ERA for the month of April:

Esteban Loaiza (4-1), 2.77
Chris Carpenter (2-1), 3.15
Chris Michalek (3-1), 2.49
Joey Hamilton (1-1), 4.54
Steve Parris (1-2), 6.23

After a 16-9 April, the Jays went on to an ice cold 10-18 May. What happened? What can be accounted for a sudden hot flash only to go ice cold?

The starters ERA was respectable. One would suppose that during the early months, hitters haven't had a chance to warm up and sometimes even the cold temperatures can play a factor. However the Jays only played three games in April, in New York and the coldest it would get after that would be in a three game series in Kansas City. All other games were played under a Dome or in a warm environment.

The rotation of 2005 is MUCH better than 2001 which is why IMO if we can keep this success up it can stay with us for the duration of the season. The offense is different. A questionable rotation meant that if the offense collapsed the team would implode which explained their disastorous May.

This is where our small ball will come into play. When the offense gets scarce, manufacturing runs will get us through those tough months and can make the difference between 2001 and 2005.

StephenT - Wednesday, April 13 2005 @ 11:10 PM EDT (#111365) #

Early team rankings have the Jays 1st in offense and 2nd in defense (before tonight's games):

 Runs Scored Per 9 IP   Runs Allowed Per 9 IP        Winning Percentage
( 1)     TORONTO 6.59 | ( 1)   White Sox 3.66 | ( 1)     TORONTO   6- 2  .750
( 2)     Detroit 6.35 | ( 2)     TORONTO 4.06 | ( 2)   White Sox   5- 2  .714
( 3)     Seattle 5.57 | ( 3)     Detroit 4.19 | ( 3)      Angels   5- 3  .625
( 4)       Texas 5.52 | ( 4)   Minnesota 4.21 | ( 4)   Baltimore   4- 3  .571
( 5)      Angels 5.33 | ( 5)     Oakland 4.50 | ( 4)   Minnesota   4- 3  .571
( 6)   Baltimore 5.23 | ( 6)   Cleveland 4.62 | ( 6)      Boston   3- 4  .429
( 7)      Boston 5.16 | ( 7)   Tampa Bay 4.64 | ( 6)   Cleveland   3- 4  .429
( 8)   Tampa Bay 4.78 | ( 8)      Angels 4.97 | ( 6)     Detroit   3- 4  .429
( 9) Kansas City 4.65 | ( 9)     Seattle 5.00 | ( 6) Kansas City   3- 4  .429
(10)   NYYankees 4.65 | (10)   Baltimore 5.08 | ( 6)   Tampa Bay   3- 4  .429
(11)   Minnesota 4.21 | (11)      Boston 5.76 | ( 6)   NYYankees   3- 4  .429
(12)   Cleveland 3.90 | (12) Kansas City 6.15 | ( 6)     Seattle   3- 4  .429
(13)   White Sox 3.80 | (13)   NYYankees 6.39 | (13)     Oakland   3- 5  .375
(14)     Oakland 3.73 | (14)       Texas 6.50 | (13)       Texas   3- 5  .375
             Avg 4.98                Avg 4.98                     51-51      

Early Pythagorean has the Jays with the top runs scored/allowed ratio, Yanks last:

      Pythagorean WPct     Extra Wins
 ( 1) TOR   6- 2  .709 | ( 1) CHW   1
 ( 2) DET   5- 2  .682 | ( 2) LAA   1
 ( 3) SEA   4- 3  .549 | ( 3) MIN   1
 ( 4) LAA   4- 4  .532 | ( 4) NYY   0
 ( 5) CHW   4- 3  .517 | ( 5) BAL   0
 ( 6) TAM   4- 3  .514 | ( 6) KAN   0
 ( 7) BAL   4- 3  .513 | ( 7) TOR   0
 ( 8) MIN   4- 3  .500 | ( 8) CLE   0
 ( 9) BOS   3- 4  .449 | ( 9) BOS   0
 (10) TEX   3- 5  .426 | (10) OAK   0
 (11) CLE   3- 4  .423 | (11) TEX   0
 (12) OAK   3- 5  .415 | (12) TAM  -1
 (13) KAN   3- 4  .375 | (13) SEA  -1
 (14) NYY   3- 4  .358 | (14) DET  -2

Note: PythagWPct = RF^1.83 / ( RF^1.83 + RA^1.83 )
      where RF=Runs For and RA=Runs Against
It's early, but . . . | 25 comments | Create New Account
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