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This game report talks about why this loss particularly hurt, why Rick Short is becoming one of my favourite Nationals and includes a study that tells you nothing. So why wouldn’t you want to read it?

It doesn’t matter much anymore, but this loss was particularly painful on top of the fact that Batista blew a second save against the Devil Rays in eight days. The added downside of this loss came because of Gustavo Chacin’s performance and the fact he didn’t pick up the victory. In what is shaping to be a very wide-open AL rookie of the year race Chacin was probably the frontrunner in late July. However, a below-average August and the difficulty he’s had winning games since then look like they’ll cost him.

Other notable contenders for the award include Huston Street, Dan Johnson, Joe Blanton (although his lack of wins will also cost him), Tadahito Iguchi, Russ Adams, Jonny Gomes and Chris Young. That doesn’t even count Robinson Cano, who might pick up a few votes because of New York hype. With so many names in the hat, I think if Chacin ends up will 12 wins or so it will cost him compared to the pretty numbers of a number of these candidates, most notably Street and Iguchi. If Chacin was on 15 or 16 wins I think it would be a whole different story, but the reality of the voters is that wins play some factor in their decision-making process. And that’s why Batista’s failure to clinch Chacin’s win is going to come back to haunt them.

I talked about Rick Short before, but most of you are probably asking yourself, who is Rick Short? And why would you like someone with the same name as Jobu’s loser friend? Well, Rick Short is a career minor-leaguer who had played 11+ seasons in the minors through June 9, 2005, amassing some pretty nice totals. He had accumulated 1,235 hits, 84 homers and 583 RBIs with a batting average over .300. On June 9 the second baseman was recalled from New Orleans, for his first career trip to the big leagues. On June 10, 2005 Short got his first big-league hit and RBI with a single of Joel Pineiro in the fifth inning, after which he promptly left the game. However, Washington made a couple of transactions on June 10, trading Tomo Okha to Milwaukee for Junior Spivey and claiming Ryan Drese off waivers from Texas. Short was sent down to open up a roster spot for Drese, as Spivey replaced him as an option in the infield.

Short was DFA’d and it looked like that one magical at-bat on June 10th might be it for Short’s career in the big leagues. You’d have to ask him if it would have made it all worthwhile, but I suspect it would have and that he’d never forget that evening. However, on July 1 Short was recalled from New Orleans again, as Ryan Church went on the DL. With Nick Johnson also out, the speculation was that Short would see time at 1B while Wilkerson played in the outfield. Short pinch-hit in two games at Wrigley Field, grounding out to Aramis Ramirez on July 2 while facing Jerome Williams and drawing a walk on July 3rd against Ryan Dempster. He was sent back to New Orleans on July 5, as Matt Cepicky was soon recalled and saw time in the outfield, while Wilkerson and Baerga played first.

Short’s stay in the majors wasn’t over though, and he was recalled on September 2nd as part of the expanded rosters. In this case it’s a good thing the Expos still weren’t around, as if they were and were still in the same financial situation they never would have been able to recall players like Short. On September 2nd he pinch-hit again, against Aquilino Lopez, and fouled out to Bobby Abreu. On September 3rd he replaced Nick Johnson defensively after a minor injury and fouled out to Ryan Howard in his only at-bat before being replaced by Jose Guillen.

On September 7th, against the Florida Marlins, Short entered the game as part of a double-switch in the sixth inning. He came up to bat in the bottom of the inning against Dontrelle Willis and promptly homered to left field. He would fly out in the seventh inning to Jeff Conine, but his solo shot was Washington’s only run as they lost 12-1 and slipped further out of the wildcard race. Yesterday, Short got his first start of his MLB career, batting second and playing second base. He flew out to Jeff Francouer in the first and popped out to Adam LaRoche in the third. In the bottom of the sixth inning Washington went back-to-back, with Nick Johnson homering after Short hit the second of his MLB career, against John Smoltz. Short came to bat in Washington’s five-run eight inning and was hit by a pitch by John Foster.

So, to conclude, a touching story about a 32-year-old career minor leaguer finally getting a chance and delivering a hit in his first (and probably only) big league at-bat has become even more special because of the additional opportunities he’s received. Short’s career MLB line now sits at .333/.455/1.000, as he’s gone 3 for 9 with a BB and a HBP. More impressively, Short now has 2 homers in 11 career plate appearance, with the homers coming off of John Smoltz, who has 6 All-Star appearances and a Cy Young Award, and Dontrelle Willis, who has 2 All-Star appearances and a Rookie of the Year Award, and he’s only 23. These weren’t Quadruple-A pitchers and if he didn’t before, now Short certainly has big league accomplishments to be proud of.

I decided to use the bulk of this game report to investigate Jays pitchers and what percentage of pitches they throw for strikes. Does this reveal anything interesting? Well, the easiest way to do this seemed to be to break the season, so far, into five monthly sections and investigate it through that approach. To make this easier on the eyes, I have classified the sixteen pitchers who have pitched for the Jays this year into two groups of five and one of six, and we’ll examine them that way. Yes, I know seventeen pitchers have actually pitched for the Jays this year, but Marcum didn’t begin pitching until September, so he has no monthly stats for me to use.

Onto the first group of pitchers, those with the highest percentage of strikes out of their total pitches.

It is no surprise Josh Towers leads the way, but it was surprising to me that there were four starters out of the five pitchers. I had assumed that it would be a fairly even distribution, I guess because I assumed the top-tier starters would pound the zone with strikes but that the back-of-the-rotation ones wouldn’t, and we’d see some relief arms there. Perhaps Toronto’s results are different from many teams due to the type of pitcher both Towers and Bush are (although back-end strike machines like Silva, Saarloos and Seo come to mind as I write this). I didn’t expect to see Lilly’s name on this list after his struggles, although Speier’s is also no surprise.

There doesn’t seem to be much correlation within the month-by-month totals for these pitchers. One may see some interesting results, like Towers’ very successful August when he was basically throwing 71% strikes or the fact Halladay’s worst month occurred when he was “only” throwing 65.5% strikes. However, Bush’s best month (I’m using ERA as a quick-and-dirty measure of monthly success) came when he had the lowest strike percentage and Speier’s strike percentages in April and June were close, despite the fact his monthly ERA’s were not similar at all. If one is looking for a correlation, the best example seems to be Lilly, as if you arrange his month’s from worst-to-best in terms of strike percentage, his monthly ERA’s will correspond.

In this second group of pitchers we find the last remaining full-time starter in Gustavo Chacin, and we also see the bulk of the Jays bullpen in Batista, Frasor and Chulk. Gaudin also appears on the list, which is out of the character as the other struggling Jays pitchers, McGowan, League and Whiteside, all appear on the third chart.

Again, there is little correlation between the two categories. Frasor’s worst month by far came when he was throwing an uncharacteristically high percentage of strikes, and my gut instinct suggest he was maybe trying to correct his struggles by throwing the ball right over the plate and thus was getting hit hard. Batista jumped from about 64% strikes to 70% strikes in June, but he actually saw his ERA rise from the earlier months. However, when he fell to only 61-62% strikes in the next two months, he struggled. Chulk’s results show no correlation to his strike percentages. Chacin’s show slight matches, as if you group his months into two good (April, July), one mediocre (June) and two bad (May, August) and group his percentages similarly, the categories match, even if the specific months are not exactly the same. Nevertheless, even grouping them like that is subjective and tenuous.

Schoeneweis and Walker show very little correlation, if any, and aside from the fact that Downs fell off a cliff in June, just as he was struggling to throw more than 50% strikes, his results tell one little, as well. The bottom three have pitched so little and struggled so much, it would become the most pointless part of what is quickly becoming a pointless exercise to look at them in any detail.

In any event, this exercise teaches us little we didn’t know. Successful pitchers tend to throw strikes and certain types of pitchers need to throw strikes to succeed, such as Towers. However, the samples in one month are too small to really tell us anything, other than the fact a declining percentage may indicate mechanical difficulties or something else the pitching coach should investigate. However, trying to match up struggles in individual months throwing strikes with results-based struggles doesn’t really work, even if you expand it to look at peripheral stats. To conclude, this information is still important for a team to monitor on a start-by-start basis and generally, but if you are looking for a reason why a particular pitcher struggled in one month, it will most likely not be the answer. Still, it gives you a bunch of cool trivia to test your friends with:

Month that a Jays starter threw the lowest percentage of strikes: Chacin, May, 59.4%

Highest monthly percentage of strikes by a non-Towers pitcher: Batista, June, 70.3%

Jays reliever that throws the highest percentage of strikes: Justin Speier

Worst percentage of strikes in a month by a Jays regular pitcher (must have thrown over 200 pitches): Walker, July, 57.5%

Finally, I leave you all here with a trivia question. No using online sources to help. I didn’t know it when I was asked, myself. Two sets of brothers have played for the Blue Jays in their existence. One pair, a pair of Canadians, is obvious. However, who are the second set of brothers to play for the Blue Jays?

Devil Rays 6, Blue Jays 5 | 27 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
cbugden - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 06:12 AM EDT (#127844) #
That would be the Butler brothers (parents are Newfoundlanders) and the Macha brothers
groove - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 08:09 AM EDT (#127846) #
Maybe if you want to get some performance indicators out of the ball/strike numbers you should subtract all the # of hits off the strike total. It matters if you're throwing strikes that are meatballs.
Pepper Moffatt - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 09:34 AM EDT (#127851) #
Awesome report, Thomas. It's so good, that I have nothing to add. :)

Totally and completely off-topic: You guys are the smartest bunch of Canadians on the Interweb, so I thought I'd ask you guys a question that has been bugging me and a couple of my friends.

What's the name of that actress who seems to be on *every* Canadian TV commercial for the last two years. She's probably mid-late 20's and has straight red hair and a raspy voice. She's been in a couple of Tim Horton's commercials, for example. You know the one. She's also been on a couple TV shows, but I can't remember which ones, or else I'd look it up in IMDB.

It's weird to see one actress in every single commercial. She's become to the aughts what Lynette Mettey was to the 70's.

Rob - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 10:08 AM EDT (#127852) #
Moffatt, do you mean the woman from those Westjet ads? The raspy voice doesn't fit, but she does seem to be in every commercial.
Thomas - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 10:21 AM EDT (#127853) #
My "trick" trivia was got by the first person. Bah.
Jonny German - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 10:22 AM EDT (#127854) #
For what it's worth, VORP has the rookies like so:

Blanton 38.4
Chacin 36.9
Gomes 32.6
Street 32.5
Shelton 29.4
Iguchi 25.4
Kazmir 25.1
Johnson 24.0
Sisco 23.6
Young 22.3
Hernandez 21.6
Adams 21.3
Cano 16.9

Gus is currently at 180.3 IP and is on schedule for 4 more starts, so hopefully he'll have no trouble cracking the 200 IP mark. Well, hopefully he'll win all four to go 16-8, but that's a little less likely.

Highest VORP amongst NL rookies? Duke at 24.3 followed by Francoeur at 23.3.
Jonny German - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 10:24 AM EDT (#127855) #
One frustrating aspect of yesterday's loss which I haven't heard anybody else mention is Gathright's steal of 3rd in the bottom of the 11th. Was I the only one who thought it was glaringly obvious that he would be trying to steal? Why not call for a pitchout?

Whitt also made a strange move in having Speier walk Cantu in the 10th so that Schoeneweis could come on to pitch to Crawford. It definitely made sense to have SS come on for the wall of lefties, but first base wasn't open and Speier is more than capable of handling Cantu. What's more, it's an extra-inning game and now you've burned your best reliever sooner than necessary and made Schoeneweis' job tougher, both in having runners on and in having to finish an inning and then start the next.
Flex - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 10:37 AM EDT (#127856) #
I believe Moffatt does mean the woman in the Westjet ads. She was also in the Bell bundle adds, as the woman at the checkout wondering why the guy buying three items wasn't getting a discount.

I don't know who she is, but I can tell you she's the spitting image of an old actress girlfriend of mine, red hair and all, and so I have a big thing for her.
Jordan - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 11:07 AM EDT (#127858) #
I actually can't get all that worked up about whether or not Chacin (or Adams) wins Rookie of the Year. In fact, considering the career trajectory of the last Blue Jays ROY, I'd be just as happy if the award went elsewhere altogether.

It seems safe to say that if there's any trade interest in Miguel Batista this off-season, it won't be from Tampa, as the Devil Rays probably like him fine pitching right where he is.
Pepper Moffatt - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 11:09 AM EDT (#127859) #
Yeah.. That's her. Maybe raspy isn't the best description - but she does have quite a distinct voice.
Cristian - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 11:25 AM EDT (#127862) #
Is this the girl you mean Moffatt? I don't recall any Westjet ads but she does seem to be in a ton of Canadian commercials...Canada Post, Baileys, and some others I can't recall.
Pepper Moffatt - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 11:29 AM EDT (#127863) #
No.. that's not her. I love that Bailey's ad, though.

Flex: A friend of mine has a pretty major thing for her, hence why we're trying to figure out who she is. I really never got the whole redhead thing. My taste in women in commercials runs more towards blondes with high cheekbones. Like say, Lynette Mettey circa 1975.

But yeah.. I don't get the whole redhead thing. I've only dated one in my life. We've been together 4 and a half years and counting. :)
Pistol - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 11:32 AM EDT (#127864) #
AL ROYs over the past 15 years have turned into good players about half the time:

S Alomar
loquax - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 11:33 AM EDT (#127865) #

Are you talking about her? I'm really curious now too, for some reason.
Pepper Moffatt - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 11:41 AM EDT (#127868) #
No.. but I recognize her as well.

She's got straighter hair and more of a dark red colour. She was in the Westjet and Bell ads as mentioned, and a couple of recent Tim Horton's ads - usually with 2 or 3 other female office worker types.

I should offer a prize to the first person who figures it out. I just have to find something terrific to give away.
Christopher - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 12:13 PM EDT (#127871) #
I'm intrigued as well, and just spent too much time trying to find the answer.

If my search hadn't resulted in me coming across a Jan Smithers dedication page, it would have been a complete waste of time.
Magpie - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 12:42 PM EDT (#127874) #
I just have to find something terrific to give away.

Oh, I think everybody still likes cuttlefish.

I don't have a clue who you're even talking about, though. The older I get, the less my attention span can remain TV-oriented, and when the commercials start I'm outta there. Especially if Sheryl Crow starts singing that god-awful song...

Honestly, the last one I remember is this cute little blonde lying on the hood of a car for 7-up. When they were flogging the "Un-Cola." In the 80s...

Jobu - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 01:13 PM EDT (#127879) #
Mo' Phat,

Are you talking about that red-headed girl who pretends to be a doctor in a GoldBond commercial?
Chuck - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 03:00 PM EDT (#127885) #
Whitt also made a strange move in having Speier walk Cantu in the 10th so that Schoeneweis could come on to pitch to Crawford. It definitely made sense to have SS come on for the wall of lefties, but first base wasn't open and Speier is more than capable of handling Cantu.

Agreed. When I saw this, I thought it was a case of a non-manager simply over-managing, pressing more buttons than he needed to. I'm no great Gibbons supporter but I don't think he would have made that move.

Thomas - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 03:13 PM EDT (#127886) #
I actually originally had the same reaction, but the more I thought about it the more I agreed with Whitt. As I mentioned in the GR, Speier's been terrific for us this year, but he does give up his share of homers (9 in 60 innings) and Cantu has hit over 20 homers. On the other hand, lefties hit .179 off Schoeneweis and Crawford has a .597 OPS against lefties. He's only hit 4 doubles off lefties all year in 182 at-bats, and you have to ask yourself whether one or two of those might have been created by Carl's speed and hence would not have scored Cantu from first. So the odds Crawford doubles are very low and even if he gets a hit off Schoeneweis, you still have Scott facing another lefty in Joey Gathright.

To sum up, I'd be willing to make the gamble too, and assume that the odds of Crawford (and Gathright) driving home Cantu are less than the odds of Cantu homering off Speier.
Mike Green - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 03:30 PM EDT (#127887) #

Interestingly, Chacin wins the WARP1 battle over Blanton 5.1 to 4.9. Chacin is, I suppose, a better fielder, and this is reflected in the WARP1 ratings.

Batista took too much of the blame for this loss in my view. Single, walk, sacrifice, and 2 ground balls hardly amounts to getting beaten around. He's an average pitcher, maybe a little better. He'll give you 160-80 good innings a season if you let him, but has really pitched about as well as could be expected in the closer role. Speier's a little better, but the real question the Jays have to figure out is whether it's worth spending a lot of money to acquire "magic closer dust".

Andrew K - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 03:47 PM EDT (#127889) #
To re-ignite the debate about clutch hitting, take a look at the graph under item 8 of

It's Studes' "how teams score" graph for the AL. It shows number of at-bats with RISP, batting average with RISP, and home runs. The Jays have an above-average number of at-bats with RISP, but are almost last in BA-RISP and also very low on home runs.

I know there has been some evidence presented that the Jays do not hit badly in the clutch: therefore the fan's instinctive conclusion that they do hit badly in clutch situations is unsound. But this graph suggests that the fan might be right.
Jonny German - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 03:48 PM EDT (#127890) #
Thomas and I are both mistaken.

First base WAS open when Speier intentionally walked Cantu - Lugo had doubled with one out. And with Lugo on second, Cantu didn't need to hit a homer and Crawford didn't need to hit a double to win the game.

I still would have let Speier pitch to Cantu, but it's more debatable given that first base was open.
Bid - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 04:40 PM EDT (#127893) #
A baseball guy I know feels bad about Batista shouldering this whole load, and wonders why Gabe Gross didn't get to a catchable ball with the game on the line, regardless of the traffic on the bullpen mound.
Mike Green - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 04:56 PM EDT (#127895) #

Here is the current THT team chart. The Jays have a team GPA of .251 and have scored 669 runs. LA, Detroit, Oakland and the White Sox have GPAs between .248 and .254, and have essentially scored similar numbers of runs. It is true that the Jays have lost 3 points in batting average when batting with runners in scoring position, instead of gaining 5 points, as the average team has, but it does not appear that this has changed significantly their ability to score runs.

The real question is game-situation-specific clutch hitting, i.e. failing to get the key hit in close games late. The Jays do have a poor record in one-run games, and have significantly undershot their Pythagorean record. Whether that's due to dumb luck, a below average bullpen, an uninspired bench, poor late and close hitting, or some combination of the above is open to debate. My own view is that it's mostly bad luck.

Chuck - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 05:21 PM EDT (#127898) #
I still would have let Speier pitch to Cantu, but it's more debatable given that first base was open.

Given that first base was open and that Cantu is a wild swinger, Speier had a lot of wiggle room to go after Cantu with pitches out of the strike zone. Had that resulted in Cantu's 18th (!) walk of the season, so be it. I don't like the free pass to the wild swinger with a base open.

Rob - Monday, September 12 2005 @ 05:55 PM EDT (#127903) #
I know there has been some evidence presented that the Jays do not hit badly in the clutch: therefore the fan's instinctive conclusion that they do hit badly in clutch situations is unsound. But this graph suggests that the fan might be right.

It's a nice graph, but all it considers is batting average. (And homeruns, too, but I don't see any difference between the circle for Toronto as compared to LAAoA, Detroit, etc.) I don't see why using batting average by itself is a sound method. Placido Polanco is not a better hitter than Alex Rodriguez, but he has a higher batting average.

And that's what bothers me about RISP stats -- most of the time, all you hear about is batting average. If you can't tell the difference between a .270 hitter and a .300 hitter just by watching them -- that's 30 points, keep in mind -- then don't trust fans who bitch about their "unclutch" team when that team hits .264 and the top team in the league hits .294.

So while I'm here, I'll update everyone. Which team is Toronto and which is the AL average line?
Team A: .348/.428, 0.39 RBI per AB
Team B: .337/.426, 0.40 RBI per AB.
(I removed batting average because I already said it was .264, which would give it away. The league average is .273.)

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