Results tagged ‘ Fun With Double Splits ’

Note of the night/Stat of the day, Sept. 28

Note of the night: Don’t look now, but Matt Holliday is having, well, a Matt Holliday kind of season. 

His slash lines:
2008: 321/409/538
2009: 313/394/515
2010: 313/389/539
That’s almost eerily consistent. Of course, he didn’t just hit 310/390/540 every week of the season. He’s come on extremely strong lately, including a 378/486/633 line in September. It started a bit ugly, but the end result is going to be exactly what the Cardinals signed up for.
Somewhat like Albert Pujols, Holliday is a bit reluctant to talk about trends. But he acknowledged that things are going well lately.
“I’ve had a pretty good month,” he said. “I don’t know what the numbers are. I feel like I’ve driven some runs in. It’s so day-to-day to me that I don’t really look at periods. But I feel good.”
Rather than the numbers, Holliday pointed to how he’s getting them.
“I feel like I’m seeing the ball well and hitting the fastball up the middle and pulling the offspeed,” he said. “Those are my points, trying to hit hard balls through the middle of the field, and if an offspeed pitch hangs, pull it.”
Stat of the day: After a 1-for-19 start to his big league career, Allen Craig has hit. Since the All-Star break, he’s at 286/333/468 in the Major Leagues (and, of course, crushing when he’s been down at AAA). 

I remain a Craig believer. I think he can hit, and I think he will hit at the big league level.

Fun with double situational splits: When Albert Pujols leads off an inning at home this year, he’s 20-for-42 (.476) with six walks, five strikeouts and eight extra-base hits, for a .542 on-base percentage and a .905 slugging percentage.

And, finally, the playlist:
I’ve been listening to the Drive-By Truckers pretty much incessantly lately, but an all-DBT playlist will have to wait until Saturday or Sunday in honor of their upcoming show at the Pageant. So instead, y’all get to take the reins tonight. Five suggestions from Twitter followers (@MatthewHLeach) are listed below:
Pearl Jam, “Do the Evolution”
Otis Redding, “Dock of the Bay”
Avett Brothers, “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise”
Mike Doughty, “I Hear the Bells”
The National, “Available”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, Sept. 9

Note of the night: Matt Holliday was ejected in the fourth inning on Thursday night after he argued a called third strike, making a bit of a show of it in the process.


Holliday flipped his bat away, walked away demonstratively and took his helmet off before finally flipping his helmet away as well — and that was the final straw that drew the ejection from home plate umpire Mike DiMuro.

I went back and forth on this a little with some people on Twitter, and here’s the truth of the matter: it almost doesn’t matter what Holliday said to DiMuro. You have a better chance of staying in the game if you stand still or walk away demurely while dropping a string of obscenities than you do with theatrical actions like Holliday’s.
In fact, if you watch the video (see the link here), you can clearly read Holliday’s lips as he says, “I didn’t say anything!” after he’s been tossed. But it’s just a truth of the game: making a show of things is a bigger transgression than salty language.
We didn’t get a chance to talk to Holliday after the game, but TLR did address the matter, and he didn’t seem too shocked by the decision.
“There’s a rule that allows you to keep a player in the game, and just [fine] him for the equipment. But DiMuro, he’s a good umpire. That was his good call. I know Matt didn’t curse him. He just questioned the call. But then he walked away and threw it. I think there’s an argument that that’s why that rule is in place. You can just fine him and keep him in the game.”
This really isn’t to pick on Holliday, although it may seem that way. Rather it’s to make a point that players know the rules, and fair or not, they are the rules. Personally, I saw the ejection coming, and I guarantee you that TLR and folks in the Cardinals dugout did too. Doesn’t mean it was the right call, but it wasn’t a surprising call at all — and therefore it would seem that it was avoidable.
Stat of the day: On May 14, Skip Schumaker was at 219/296/273. Since then, he’s batting an even .300 with a .353 on-base percentage and a .396 slugging percentage.
Now, those first six weeks did in fact happen. But that’s more than a half season, 90 team games, in which Schumaker is hitting exactly like you would have expected him to hit based on the previous two seasons.
Stat of the day, 2: Since injuring his knee in Washington, Yadier Molina is 8-for-38 (.211) with no walks, three strikeouts and one extra-base hit (admittedly a very big extra-base hit). Over the previous 35 games he had been at .339/.388/427.
Fun with double situational splits: Albert Pujols is batting .387 with a .441 OBP and slugging .759 in night games since the All-Star break.

And, finally, the playlist:
There’s so ridiculously much good music with Georgia connections, I don’t even know where to start. So let’s just kind of go all over the map.
R.E.M., “Pretty Persuasion”
Outkast, “Ms. Jackson”
Drive-By Truckers, “Wednesday”
Gnarls Barkley, “Smiley Faces”
B-52s, “Give Me Back My Man”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, August 30

Hello from Houston. I’ll be kind of free-floating this series, working on a couple of longer-term features plus a column (maybe more than one) and some other stuff. Meanwhile, Richard Dean has your main Cards coverage.

Still, I’m at the park, so I’ve got some things to offer. The weather upon arriving in Houston was… striking. Nasty, nasty storms. It’s moving toward fall in some parts of the country, but down here it’s still summer. Anyway, on with the entry:
Note of the night: Jake Westbrook is 1-3 as a Cardinal, and the team is 1-5 in his starts. 
Little hint: that doesn’t tell you anything about how Westbrook has pitched. He’s averaged 6 1/3 innings per start and has gone at least six every time. In five of his six starts, he’s pitched a quality start, and his worst outing was four runs in six innings.
There’s no reason the Cardinals couldn’t be 5-1 with Westbrook on the hill, rather than 1-5.
In fact, look deeper, and he’s pitched even better than the runs allowed would indicate. He’s amassed 34 strikeouts against six walks. He’s got an absurd ground out/fly out ratio of nearly 5:1. 
Everything that Westbrook can control, he’s controlled well. Everything else… hasn’t gone so well.
“He’s probably not happy here,” TLR quipped.
Westbrook didn’t say that. And in fact, he’s not thrilled with the way he’s thrown the ball. But he also knows things could look a lot different for him.
“I’m fairly consistent,” he said. “I definitely feel like I’m capable of pitching better. I’m trying to get deep into the ballgames and give us a chance to win, and I feel like I’ve done that for the  most part. Could I have done better? Of course. And it’s my job to figre out how to do that.”
As for that 1-5 team record…
“That’s what I worry about, and that’s not very good,” he said. “A lot of that has to do with me not being as good as I can be, and I need to figure out a way to be better.”
Stat of the day: The Cardinals have five players currently on their roster who have at least 350 plate appearances this year and an OPS below 700. That’s the most of any National League team and tied with the A’s for the most in baseball. Aside from the Cards, in the National League, only the Padres even have more than two such players.

I’ve harped on it all year, but this is just another example. The biggest problem with this team between the lines is lineup depth. The core of the lineup is excellent. It just hasn’t gotten anywhere near enough help from the other guys.
Fun with double situational splits: With runners in scoring position in August, Albert Pujols is 10-for-20 with five extra base hits, eight walks and NO strikeouts, good for a .500/.643/1.050 line.

 And, finally, the playlist:
This one is dedicated to my beloved bride back at home, whom I’m eager to see in a couple of days. 
The Hold Steady, “Chips Ahoy”
Drive-By Truckers, “The Wig He Made Her Wear”
R.E.M., “These Days”
Mike Doughty, “Navigating by the Stars at Night”
Gorillaz, “Superfast Jellyfish”
-M.

Notes of the night/Stat of the day, Aug. 26

Note of the Night, 1: Yes, Felipe Lopez was removed in the fifth inning on Thursday night. No injury was announced, so I theorized that it was simply a move for defense.


And, in a way, it was. Here’s TLR’s explanation for the move:

“It looked to me like Felipe’s arm was bothering him, so I made the change.”
I wasn’t able to talk to Lopez in the clubhouse postgame, so I will follow up tomorrow. 
Note of the Night, 2: This could have been a chess match, but I don’t think it really calls for one. I asked TLR about whether Bryan Anderson was an option in either of the situations where a pitcher batted.
He paused. Took a while. Sized it up. And decided to give an answer, thankfully.
Essentially, he argued that the first time, with a runner on first and two outs, it wasn’t enough of a potential scoring situation to burn his last position player. The second time, of course, there was a man in scoring position. But he said he added up the combination of Anderson being the last man on the bench AND the unlikelihood of his coming through against Doug Slaten, who has been a lefty-killer this year (9-for-60, 0 XBH, 5 BB, 21 K), and determined that it didn’t make sense.
The quote:
“I don’t think that was the move to make, going down to the last player. Catcher goes out… We had a way to go. If it had been an RBI situation… Lohse didn’t hit with a guy in scoring position. And then the last time up, it’s Slaten, and do you see what Slaten does to left-handers? I don’t think that was a good at-bat to give our last player a chance. Now if we had some protection, because I think Anderson would hang in there. but if he’s the last guy, against Slaten, a guy who’s wiping left-handers out, no, I didn’t think that was the way to go.”
In short, he seems to be arguing that if it had been a different pitcher, he’d have used Anderson, even as his last player. And if Anderson weren’t his last player, he might have used him, even against Slaten. But the combination ruled it out.
Note of the night, 3: At the end of the night tonight, Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch and I had a chat with Albert Pujols about his participation in this weekend’s Restoring Honor rally at the Mall in Washington. I have a story up on the topic on the site, but wanted to flesh it out a little bit more here. Basically, Pujols made it very clear that he wants no part of anything political, and that like TLR, he was assured that when he participates, it will not be political.
That’s not to say it won’t turn out that way. And it’s not to take sides regarding the politics of the organizers. But I came away from the conversation with no doubt in my mind that Pujols wants no part of a political event. Just for what that’s worth.
Stat of the day: The Cardinals have played 89 ninth innings this year, and scored in 30 of them, or 33.7 percent of the time. That’s their highest percentage in any inning except the 19th, where they’re 1-for-1. They’re averaging .72 runs per ninth inning, which is also their highest in any inning except the 19th. Their next most productive innings are the fifth and the first.

Fun with double situational splits: Against lefties, with runners in scoring position, Randy Winn had been 1-for-12 on the year before tonight.

And, finally, the playlist:
More Stones, sorry, but I’m on a kick lately. Five favorite live Stones tracks:
“Gimme Shelter,” Brussels 1973 (or ANY 72-73 show)
“Satisfaction/Uptight” from the 1972 US Tour, w/Stevie Wonder
“Some Girls” from the 99 No Security Tour
“Stray Cat Blues” from Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out
“It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll,” Aragon in Chicago, 2002 (w/Bono. I was there. It was amazing)
-M.
 

Stats of the day, August 24

As you might expect, the clubhouse wasn’t too chatty tonight, so no Note of the Night for you. Instead, hopefully the stats are tasty enough to tide you over. And as you might expect, I’ll be following this entry with a Chess Match.

Stat of the Day, 1: Adam Wainwright has a 5.51 ERA for his career at PNC Park. Yet Tuesday was the first time he had lost here in 10 games, eight of them starts. He had been 5-0 in Pittsburgh. He still has allowed only one homer at PNC in 50 2/3 innings.
Stat of the Day, 2: The Cardinals are tied with the Brewers for the second-best team OBP in the National League. They’re also now fifth in runs per game.
Stat of the Day, 3: Albert Pujols’ next double will be his 30th of the season. That will make him, according to Baseball-Reference.com, the third player in Major League history with at least 10 seasons of 30-plus home runs and 30-plus doubles. Not the third with 10 consecutive. The third to do it 10 times ever in his career. Admittedly, this says something about the era, since the other two players to do it are Manny Ramirez and Carlos Delgado. But even so, Pujols will be 10-for-10, while no one else in the history of the game has done it more than 10 times in total.
Stat of the Day, 4: Pujols’ OPS for August is 1.353. If he were to finish the month with that high a mark, it would be the second-highest for any month in his career, behind only April of 2006 (346/509/914, for a 1.423 OPS).

Fun with double situational splits: This Pujols fellow, he’s pretty good. In night games in August this year, he’s 28-for-56 (.500) with 11 extra-base hits for a .946 slugging percentage, and five walks for a .541 on-base percentage.

And, finally, the playlist:
I’ve been listening to a lot of Rolling Stones today, but stuff from outside the “canon.” So here are five favorites from less-heralded Stones albums.
“Connection” (from Between the Buttons)
“She’s So Cold” (from Emotional Rescue)
“Crazy Mama” (from Black and Blue)
“Too Tight” (from Bridges to Babylon)
“Almost Hear You Sigh” (from Steel Wheels)
-M.

Notes of the night/Stats of the day, Aug. 23

Hello, all…

Back from a great mini-vacation in the Smoky Mountains, and coming to you live from Pittsburgh. I’ve been far too negligent about writing on the blog lately, so hopefully this serves as a nice, meaty return.
Note of the Night, 1: Monday night marked TLR’s 1300th win as the manager of the Cardinals, extending his own franchise record. For some perspective, there are only 27 other managers in the history of the game who won 1300 games total. Of those 27, 18 are in the Hall of Fame. La Russa reached that number after already establishing himself as one of the game’s top managers in two other stops.
La Russa became the 12th manager in history to win 1300 games with one team. And, typically, he brushed it off when it was brought up.
First, he sincerely didn’t know. As he was holding his postgame news conference, he received a text message congratulating him on the milestone. He asked me and Rick Hummel if the stat was true. Told that it was, here’s what he had to say:
“It’s a real nice number. It’s called longevity. That’s the reason for the number. Our fans are not happy with that number because we’re not in first place.”
Note of the Night, 2: TLR reached a round number on Monday, while Albert Pujols got closer to one. He’s one homer away from 400. But he insisted it’s not something he has to work to keep out of his mind.
“You don’t play for numbers,” he said. “It’s a great milestone, but I’m not thinking about it. I hope it will come with a great win with our ballclub. That’s what I play for. I thank God that I was able to hit it today in the first inning, to give a little bit of cushion for Kyle.
“It’s something that, yes, it’s a big milestone, but you get 400, you want to get 400 more I guess. I play one day at a time, one year at a time.”
There’s a pretty decent chance he reaches it this week, and even in the next two games. He’s torrid, and he crushes the ball in Pittsburgh.
Note of the Night, 3: Allen Craig had no warning he was going in to play second base on Monday night. He could do the math and figure out he might be the choice, but it wasn’t like he was given a heads up.
He didn’t mind.
“I was hoping I’d get [a play],” Craig said.
TLR said he had no hesitation to give Craig a look there.
“He’s an infielder,” the manager said. “I played second base, how tough can it be?”
Stat of the Day, 1: Yadier Molina is batting .348 since the All-Star break with a .395 on-base percentage.

Stat of the Day, 2: Matt Holliday has 206 doubles since the start of the 2006 season, the most in the Major Leagues.
Stat of the Day, 3: According to the amazing and invaluable Play Index at Baseball-Reference.com, and my hand-calculations based on that resource, Monday marked the 14th game in ujols’ career in which he’s come to the plate needing a triple for the cycle.
He’s had a single, double, and homer in the same game I believe 26 times, but it’s the 14th game that he’s done it and then come to bat with a chance to finish the deal. Three of those times, he’s homered.
Fun with Double Situational Splits: Since the All-Star break, Brendan Ryan is batting .368 with a .400 OBP and a .447 slugging percentage against left-handed pitchers.

And, finally, the playlist:
How about a road special for the beginning of a long road trip? And while we’re at it, let’s go 10 songs for a 10-game trip.
Willie Nelson, “On the Road Again”
Black Crowes, “Wiser Time”
Bob Seger, “Turn the Page”
Bruce Springsteen, “Thunder Road”
The Who, “Going Mobile”
Metallica, “Wherever I May Roam”
Rolling Stones, “All Down the Line”
Chuck Berry, “You Can’t Catch Me”
Pearl Jam, “Rearviewmirror” (single greatest driving song ever, IMO)
Johnny Cash, “I’ve Been Everywhere”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, August 11

So… that was an entertaining series, eh?

Note of the night: Matt Holliday did not return to Wednesday’s game after the rain delay. He was feeling some groin tightness, and the club decided it would have been unwise to push him on a very wet field.
“During the rain delay, he got something,” TLR said. “He wanted to go back out there, and then we saw the splashes and decided not to risk it. His legs were really getting tight.”
Holliday seemed entirely unconcerned about it, and said that he expects to play on Friday at home against the Cubs.
“With the wetness, it’s not smart to go out there and slip around,” he said.
Stat of the day: Over his last nine starts, Adam Wainwright is 7-1 with a 1.14 ERA, 51 strikeouts and 13 walks. In his last 12 starts, he has allowed no earned runs eight times.
Fun with double situational splits: Holliday is batting .370 with a .469 on-base percentage and a .630 slugging percentage with runners in scoring position since the All-Star break.
And, finally, the playlist:
Stone Roses, “Fools Gold”
Cure, “Never Enough”
New Order, “Shellshock”
Sisters of Mercy, “This Corrosion”
Nine Inch Nails, “Sin”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, July 28

Note of the night: When Albert Pujols hit a potential double-play ball in the 11th inning on Wednesday night, he pulled up well short of the bag. Even after a bobble on the relay throw, it took another bobble for Pujols to be safe on the ball.


Then the next batter, Matt Holliday, hit another grounder, and Pujols didn’t make the first attempt to break up the double play.

ESPN noticed. Fans noticed. It got a lot of attention, and rightly so. So we asked Pujols about it after the game, and he explained.
The slugger said he came up with some left calf tightness as he was running to first on the grounder, and that’s why he pulled up. It wasn’t too much for him to come out of the game, but it was enough that he felt he needed to play cautiously. That was magnified, in his mind, by the fact that the Cardinals had just about run out of players.
I included some of his comments in my game story, which is up on the site, but here’s what he had to say at some more length.
“I did it actually running,” he said. “I tried to make sure that they didn’t turn a double play. I told Chad [Blair, the Cardinals' video coordinator] when I came in, I felt my calf got a little tight. I just wanted to make sure, we didn’t have any more players, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t do anything stupid to come out of the game. I hit the ball and I took off, and about halfway to the line, I felt it getting tight and I kind of pulled back. I’m glad it was a bad throw. 
“Another day, with my legs fresh, I probably would have tried to break up the double play. But that’s the way it goes. I pulled back, and that’s the smart play. You can look at it a different way. You can look at it like I wasn’t hustling, but you know what? Late in the game like that, if I feel good, I’m going to do everything that I can to try to break up the double play. But when you don’t have anybody in extra innings and you feel something, the last thing you want to do is hurt yourself and be the last guy and throw a pitcher out there to play your position.”
It definitely looked like Pujols was still moving gingerly as the game went on, but it doesn’t seem to be anything severe.
“I’ll be fine,” Pujols said when asked about Thursday afternoon’s game. “Little massage, get it loose. t’s nothing like a pull or anything. I felt it more like a little tight.”
We asked TLR whether Pujols would be in the lineup tomorrow (actually later today — about 9 hours away as I write this), and he was noncommittal. But it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him get a breather after a 13-inning game, especially with a knuckleballer pitching for the Mets.
Stat of the day: Following this afternoon’s game against the Mets, the Cardinals’ next six weeks break down as follows: 27 games against teams with losing records, including 16 against the Pirates, Astros and Nationals; 6 games against the Reds; and exactly one series that fits neither of those categories (3 games against the Giants at home in late August).
This is a serious opportunity for this team to get well and take control of the division race, if it’s good enough to do so. By contrast, during that same stretch, the Reds have series against the Braves, Dodgers, Giants and Rockies as well as the head-to-head games.
Fun with double situational splits: Colby Rasmus is 14-for-47 (.298) with six extra-base hits, five walks and nine strikeouts against left-handed pitchers since June 1. He’s slugging .553 with a .365 on-base percentage against lefties in that span.
And, finally, the playlist:
Sometimes New York puts me in a hip-hop mood. Sometimes artsy stuff, sometimes punk. And sometimes, NYC puts me in a Stones mood. So tonight, it’s five NYC-inflected Stones songs.
“When the Whip Comes Down”
“Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)”
“Dance Pt. 1″
“She Was Hot”
“Shattered”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, July 27

Note of the night: Lots of apparent injuries and injury scares tonight, but after asking about them all, it sounds like everybody is OK.

Yadier Molina came out of the game early not because of injury, but just because the game was already starting to get a bit out of hand. TLR figured he would “save him some innings” while also getting Jason LaRue a chance to play. It’s a pretty fair guess that LaRue’s next start won’t come till at least Saturday.
Brendan Ryan was struck on the fingernail of his index finger by a pitch, but came through it just fine and stayed in the game. Sounded like it was a nonissue.
Albert Pujols appeared to wince when he ran out a grounder in the third inning, but TLR also said that Pujols was fine. 
“I asked him if he was OK,” La Russa said. “Said he was good to go.”
Stat of the day: Adam Wainwright has allowed nine homers in 72 innings on the road. At home, he’s allowed two homers in 81 1/3 innings.

Fun with double situational splits: Against lefties in night games this season, Ryan Ludwick is 7-for-42 (.167) with a .275 on-base percentage and a .333 slugging percentage.

And, finally, the playlist:
There’s just a ton of good new music out this year, so today’s playlist is a selection of one track from each of my five favorite albums thus far in 2010 (in order, No. 5 up to No. 1).
Sleigh Bells, “Tell ‘Em” (from “Treats”)
Drive-By Truckers, “Birthday Boy” (from “The Big To-Do”)
The Black Keys, “Sinister Kid” (from “Brothers”)
Gorillaz, “On Melancholy Hill” (from “Plastic Beach”)
Big Boi, “Shine Blockers” (from “Sir Lucious Left Foot”)

-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, July 7

Note of the night, 1: Quite a few things contributed to Evan MacLane pitching in the ninth inning on Wednesday, but one of them was that Dennys Reyes was unavailable due to illness.

TLR said after the game that Reyes might well not have pitched in that situation anyway, but that nonetheless Reyes was ill. Reyes confirmed shortly thereafter that he is dealing with an infection and not feeling well.
He said he’s been dealing with it for a couple of days, and that it’s not necessarily worse today than yesterday. Of course, Reyes pitched yesterday, so it’s not entirely clear what exactly the situation is. 
Note of the night, 2: Going back to last night (so skip this if you so desire), we had the chance to ask TLR this afternoon about a few of the ninth-inning decisions from Tuesday night.
He stood by the decision to play no-doubles with Carlos Gonzalez at the plate. His argument was that since Gonzalez was the tying run, you wanted to make sure that he didn’t get into scoring position. To my mind, it’s still the opposite — even first base is scoring position with Gonzalez on base and Giambi at the plate, and if you get the out, the game ends. But that’s the manager’s stance, and I figured I ought to pass it along.
He also stood by the decision not to remove Franklin, though I got the impression he was less certain of that in retrospect. He was frustrated (and he wasn’t the only one) with the strike zone for Chris Iannetta, feeling that Iannetta should have been struck out before he ever went deep. He essentially argued that for a good bit of that inning, Franklin hadn’t really done that much wrong.
“The only reason I would have gotten him was just the number of pitches and the game was tied. Just to preserve him for tonight.”
I still believe, and he didn’t dismiss this (though he didn’t confirm it, either) that if Motte or McClellan had been available, the hook would have been quicker. Usually when TLR is really convinced that a decision was right, he’s happy to defend it and present his case — as he did with the positioning on Randy Winn. In this case, there was less of a clear argument. I’m not sure he’s sure it was the right move.
Stat of the day: LeBron James has sco Whoops, sorry about that. Matt Holliday has eight extra-base hits in his last eight games. His slugging percentage has climbed from .488 to .527 in those games.
Fun with double situational splits: Albert Pujols is hitting .260 with a .370 on-base percentage and a .488 slugging percentage against right-handers on the road this year.
And, finally, the playlist:
Nina Gordon, “Tonight and the Rest of My Life”
Kings Of Leon, “Slow Night, So Long”
Rolling Stones, “Time Waits For No One”
Tanya Donelly, “World On Fire”
Pearl Jam, “Corduroy”
-M.
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