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Links, in honor of my secretary

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Yes, my administrative assistant works very hard. Scours the baseball newsfeeds, reports on only those articles and news items likely to be of interest to me, keeps track of my finances, sells an ad every month or two...okay, I'll thank myself later. Now, some baseball reading:

  • I always hate to miss a game, especially a win. But it's fantastic to come home and read about last night's results. The Ohka-coaster rolls on, a perfect alternation of solid and Obie-esque.

  • I had a thought about Tomo Ohka. His major league track record has always suggested he's a fine, above-average pitcher, but his inconsistency has led fans and managers alike to become somewhat disillusioned with him. Obviously, you never like to have your pitcher give up six runs in four innings, but what if he always comes up aces next time out? In other words, if you pitch 180+ innings with an ERA around 4.20, does it matter how those runs are distributed? I'm playing around with a test to find out. I'll let you know if anything comes of it. In the meantime, what do you think?

  • Speaking of tests, here's something else I'm working on. All of us, including Ned, are concerned about Brady Clark. He's hitting .194 through 67 at-bats. That's pretty bad, but as a stathead, a little alarm is going off in my head, saying "small sample size! small sample size!" But, of course, there's a point at which you have to start worrying. So I started working on another test. In a nutshell, it works like this: assume a guy is a .300 hitter (like, perhaps, Brady should be), which means for every at-bat, he has a 30% chance of getting a hit. Just by random chance, there will be some hot streaks and cold streaks. If you test enough random chances, you can get a sense of just how likely it is that someone will perform at a certain level for a certain period of time.

    Here's what I found. Let's assume Brady is, "naturally," a .300 hitter. Let's also assume (this is probably not true) that he's doing everything (making contact, etc.) just as well as when he's actually hitting .300. A little less than 3% of the time, he should bat .194 over a 67-AB span. Not because he sucks, just because of random chance. 10% of the time, he'd bat below .240. 25% of the time, below .270. That's a true .300 hitter.

    Now, let's try with Brady's career average: .279. Obviously, all those numbers go down. There's a 2.5% chance (again, purely based on luck, having nothing to do with any talent loss, aging, anything) that he would hit .164 or worse in 67 at-bats. 5% chance he'd hit .179 or below. 10% chance: .209.

    I don't think Brady's season so far can be completely attributed to bad luck, but it's something to keep in mind. When a player says he feels fine and a manager agrees (which apparently is no longer the case with Brady), a horrible short-term batting average may really be the result of hard liners finding gloves, unusually wide strike zones...you name it. More on this another day.

  • In case you missed it, there's a new face at BCB, and yesterday he wrote a great progress report on Brewers prospects.

  • And on Monday, I contributed an article about Frank Robinson to Baseball Digest Daily.

  • We haven't talked about Russell Branyan lately, have we? He's not doing so hot with the Devil Rays. In 39 at-bats, he's managed only one homer and three walks to go along with his 16 K's. I hope Russell turns it around and 3TO doesn't become 1TO. I was at a sports bar last night and caught some of the Yankees-Rays game, including a really awful-looking play Russell made in right field. When he was a Brewer, I occasionally lobbied for him to get spot starts in the outfield, but I can see why Ned wasn't eager to give them to him.
Early game today: 12:05 CT. Ben Sheets vs. Jorge Sosa as we go for the sweep. I'll put up a game thread in a little while.

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