To my wife, who puts up with this nonsense annually, I have a pre-emptive answer for you when you walk into our play room for the next six months, see me in the fetal position with the TV tuned to yet another Mariners game and ask, "Are you rooting for Seattle?" In the words of Marc Cohn, from Walking in Memphis, "Ma'am, I am tonight!"
Given that a lot of readers of these pieces aren’t just baseball fans, but are also fond of sports betting, as the 2014 preview series comes to a close, this is the perfect venue to tell you a story about the intersection of those two topics. As a result of writing my book, I met a lot of people I would have never met otherwise; this is a recounting of one of those experiences. It’s a column that you’ll never read about on mlb.com, but probably should.
It’s quotes like this that launch 2,000 word articles on FanGraphs followed by 8 dozen snarky posts in the comments section. It’s logic like this that leads to Brandon League getting a guaranteed $22.5 million contract after a string of 72 innings pitched in 2012, during which he gave up a home run on just 2.1% of the fly balls he allowed – 8% below league average and 11% below his career average (accumulated over 5 times as many innings, mind you.) It’s Gary Matthews, Jr. getting a $50 million contract a year after hitting .343 on balls in play, with no increase in power. That’s 43 percentage points above his career and the league’s average.
Traditionally, I like to start my preview series each spring with a defensive-focused piece that becomes the centerpiece of the logic-based previews that are to follow. You can check the archives and see the 2012 Detroit Tigers preview and the 2013 Los Angeles Angels preview for examples. In them, I talk about my theory that projecting and even grading team defenses is far different than a mere sum-of-the-parts exercise (’12 Tigers essay) and how the dreaded ‘eye test’ may be responsible for a significant amount of distortion in the Total Zone and Ultimate Zone Rating systems that form the backbone for the defensive portion of differing WAR calculations (’13 Angels).
Owing to the requirements of SEC rules which require publicly held corporations to disseminate to their shareholders materially adverse news, companies are notorious for issuing these negative press releases on Friday afternoons, after the stock market has closed. The thought is that the weekend news cycle may push the negative item to a less-publicized standing by the time Monday morning rolls around and the stock market reopens. Need to issue an earnings warning because your quarterly results are going to fall short of previously-issued guidance? Use Friday to issue a 4:30pm EST press release. Need to announce the sudden resignation of your CEO so that he can ‘spend more time with his family’? No better time than Friday evening. Writing a preview piece for the upcoming baseball season that is relatively negative on the fortunes of your current hometown team – a team on which you are friends with some employees? Write it up Friday night for weekend dissemination in the middle of March Madness!