Saturday, July 29, 2017

Where Have All The Runs Gone?

Are you having an off year offensively? Don’t worry, a lot of us are. Run production is the lowest it’s been since records have been kept. Here are a total of runs per game for each year since 2010:
2010: 20.09
2011: 18.73
2012: 18.51
2013: 20.45
2014: 20.76
2015: 20.00
2016: 21.69
2017: 18.25

So are runs per game at its lowest of the decade one year after the league set a record for runs scored in a year? Were we using juiced balls the last few years without even knowing it? I think the answer lies in the one noticeable difference in the league this year vs. last year…..the new Marlboro Swim Club. What was once a field known for high scoring games has become a defensive haven.  How much has it changed? In 2014, I had kept statistics for each field in the league. Here are the runs scored numbers for each field compare this year to the averages from 2014:

Union Hill Right:
2014: 20.54 runs per game
2017: 19.60
Union Hill Left:
2014: 20.03
2017: 17.55
Municipal:
2014: 18.88
2017: 19.08
Marl El:
2014: 20.74
2017: 15.46
East Francis:
2014: 18.35
2017: 16.86
Middle School:
2014: 23.13
2017: 24.36
Swim Club:
2014: 24.40
2017: 14.94


 We are averaging a whopping 9.46 fewer runs a game on the Swim Club field than we were in 2014. That’s by far the biggest difference out of each field. Only Marl El can even claim to be in the same ballpark at a -5.28 difference. This decrease in production at the Swim Club is enough to explain why our total runs in the league are so low. If we replaced the runs scored this year at Swim Club with the runs average scored at the Swim Club in 2014 then the league’s run average per game would bump to 19.48. It would still be the lowest since 2012, but at least it would not be a record in futility.


One answer could be that it’s just a fluke year. Maybe the league catches on fire and runs per game will approach the levels of recent years. Are there other factors to take into consideration? Are pitchers better now than they’ve been in previous years? Is the influx of talent in the league having a bigger effect on the quality of defense than it is on offense? Although these are possible influences, I think the renovations to the Marlboro Swim Club are the biggest factor. It’s the one change that is based on actuality and not theory as well as the one with data behind it. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Power Rankings for week of 7/23 games

Last week's ranking is in parenthesis. 

1. Pollock(1)- Team Pollock’s 6.1 run differential is more than double than the next team on the list(Goldfarb at 2.7).

2. Goldfarb (5)- For as great as Team Pollock has been this year, if Goldfarb wins tonight there will be a virtual tie atop the National League.


3. Bykofsky (2)- It might not time to worry yet, but two of the last three games were blowout losses(16-5 to Lapine and 17-4 to Pollock). Surprisingly, both were on UH Left which should be a field that plays to Bykofsky’s strengths.

4. Marrone (3)- A one-run loss to Harris feels like a huge missed opportunity for Marrone to gain control of the top seed in the AL. I love the energy this teams plays with. Marrone will move up the rankings next week if they can defeat Pollock on Sunday.

5. Brock (3)- The regular season comes down to who is missing from week to week almost as much as it does about talent. How much can the team by knocked when they lose without Justin? A loss is still a loss, but in the long-term, the team presents as big of a challenge as Bykofsky and Marrone.

6. Wallman(7)- You can get away with having an average offense in the regular season when you have the stingiest pitching/defense in the league. I think it could be a potential problem in the playoffs though as historically speaking, teams with top hitting/average defense make it further than top defense/average hitting. More on that in a future blog entry though.

7. Harris(8)- Team Harris and Team Wallman are sides of the same coin. Again, credit to Harris for silencing the many naysayers  right after the draft. Good defense never goes out of style.

8. Lapine (NR)- Accoring to the team stats page on the website, Team Lapine has the highest OPS in the league. They averaged 5.67 runs the first 6 games of the season going 0-6 and are averaging a whopping 12.89 runs the last nine going 6-3. While it may seem odd putting a last place team this high on the power rankings, very few teams have played as well the last two months.

Around The League:

Team Beilis/Team Jacoby/Team Paladino: Interleague play has not been kind to these three teams. They have a combined 1-20 record against the AL.  

Team Applebaum: They get lost in the shuffle playing in an American League where almost every team is either .500 or one game away from it. They’ve been caught by the injury bug this year, but if they can beat Goldfarb on Sunday, they’ll start attracting more attention.

Team Feldman- They may have fallen off the power rankings this week, but this is a team that has more than a fighting chance of getting Feldman to the semi-finals for the first time since 2006.

Team Randell- The run differential is a league worst -4.5, but they’re getting hot just like Team Lapine.

Team Granese- Losses and wins come in pairs for this team, and as the pattern indicates, it’s hard to get a read on this team. It’s been hard getting everyone on the field at the same time, which has clearly been their greatest hindrance. Granese and Bykofsky are the only two teams that have played zero games with a full 13.

Team Sarcona- I like this club being that they’re one of only three that have defeated my team.  They were getting a lot more attention a few weeks ago when they were riding a five game winning streak. This will be an interesting few weeks because they’re in danger of falling all the way to the back of a very competitive American League. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Power Rankings

1. Pollock- While I think it’s a coincidence that the rankings are starting up again when our team is doing well, here we are. While I have some reservations putting us #1 and putting a “target on our backs”, I don’t think I can avoid it at this point. We’re ranked #1 in Runs Scored and #1 in Runs Against, which would be an unprecedented achievement if it holds true at years end.  


2. Bykofsky- Just like last year’s near championship team,  the 2017 Bykofsky club is dominating because they have the offensive punch to go along with the stellar defense that’s synonymous with Team Bykofsky. It helps when the captain is batting .750 past the midway point.  With homerun threats from both sides of the plate (Becker and Kleschinsky), there might be a battle to pick UH Left with Marrone. 


3. Brock- I’ll take time to anoint Justin Brock the heavy frontrunner for Marlboro Softball Player of the Decade. He’s won three championships, while playing two separate key positions, and has made a quick transition into being a successful captain. Now if only he could get someone to write a game summary! Does their negative run differential indicate their 10-4 record isn’t as strong as it looks? Their 5 game winning streak has included 3 one-run wins, and a 2-run victory. Last night’s victory against Marrone is a sign that more decisive victories are on the way.


4. Marrone- How many homeruns would Doc hit if all their games were played on UH Left? Doc is on the shortlist of MVP candidates, but it takes a team effort to put up an 11-4 record. Lots of credit goes to the array of rookies playing well above where they were picked in the draft. 


5. Goldfarb- If Brock is the player of the decade, Goldfarb is the favorite right now for captain of the 10’s. Coming into this season, only Jacoby had a better winning percentage as captain(.600 vs. .584) but this season, puts Goldy ahead. Goldfarb has played a remarkable stretch of five consecutive one run wins where four unfortunately (for them) resulted in losses. Call them the Anti-Brock. Still while I don’t think it’s a fluke that Brock pulled out their close call wins, I don’t think those four consecutive losses capture who this team is. 


6. Feldman- Now we’re getting into the sleepers section of the rankings. Team Feldman owns a negative runs differential thanks to two games where Feldman could not pitch. Their -0.9 differential turns into a +3.0 if you take out those two games. Will not drafting a back-up pitcher cost Feldman down the road? When Feldman is pitching, this team is as strong as almost anyone else. 


7. Wallman- Before the season started most predicted Wallman would have the best runs against but rank towards the bottom of runs scored. The season has pretty much stuck to that script as Wallman is ranked 2nd in Runs Against but 10th in Runs scored. If they want to break into the top 5, they will need to produce more runs in a season where high potent offenses are actually down(Only 5 teams currently average 10+ runs a game compared to 12 teams last year). 


8. Harris- The biggest surprise to most prognosticators is that Team Harris is holding its own midway through the year. The Harris Blueprint this year was to draft a very solid defense with just enough offense to win games.  As with Team Wallman, it’s a formula that has produced mixed results. Still, credit has to be given for Harris seeing the immediate potential in Zach Krauss, the clear favorite for most improved player thus far. Krauss and Schefkind have done their part in making it harder to pitch around Callow, but Justin still predictably leads the league in walks.


Other Quick Thoughts Around The League in No Particular Order:

Team Lapine- High potent offense is starting to play to its potential.  Whoever is winning the American League is crossing its fingers, Lapine finds its way out of the 8th seed.

Team Sarcona- Close to making the Top 8. The stellar return to form season for Noel Gluck is a big reason why this team finds itself in the middle of the pack.

Team Randell- A few weeks ago it was beginning to look like the season was going off the rails. The team has shown some signs of life lately, and it will be interesting to see if they continue to turn their season around.

Team Granese- Many people, including myself, picked Granese to have the best record in the league. Suffice to say, at 6-8, they come in as the season’s biggest disappointment so far. Missed games are a big reason why as they are the only team that hasn’t played with a full 13. 

Team Applebaum- Ed Fradkin is VERY good at hitting softballs.

Team Jacoby- I’m not used to seeing a Team Jacoby ranked in the bottom 5 in Runs Against. In fact, it’s never happened. 

Team Paladino- Sure this is coming from a member of the one team Paladino has beaten so far, but they are NOT as bad as their record shows. Any team that has hitters like Mike Paladino and Ari Mesmer along with rookie standout Darren Saler can stay in any game. Their last four losses have all been by a margin of 1 or 2 runs.


Team Beilis- It’s been a pretty rough season so far, but when the first three picks are rookies the hope is the team will click come playoff time. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

2016 Playoff Preview Part 1- Past Trends



I’ve written in the past about the few common elements that for seemingly mostly coincidental reasons are shared by many of our league’s champions. Rather than delve into these elements, here is a quick recap. 

For whatever reasons, league champions tend to:

·         Include at least two first-year players (5 out of the last 6 winners)

·         Include no players from the previous year’s championship teams. (Darren Freeman was the last player to play for two consecutive champions. This was back in 2009 and 2010.)

·         Come from a top 8 runs scored team. (Since this data was part of the “standings” page, all 6 champions were in the top 8 for runs scored that year. As far as top defenses, only half the champions this decade were in the top 8 for Runs Against)

The most recent trend concerns the rebound performances by captains who were knocked out early in the previous year’s playoffs.  Since 2013, every captain who made the finals was knocked out in the first round the previous year. This obviously excludes Marrone in 2013 since it was his first year being a captain. 

Here’s a list of the captains knocked out in the first round 2015, now primed for a run at the finals:
Goldfarb, Younger, Randell, Applebaum, Lapine, Jacoby, Marrone , Pollock

Just like the previous indicators, this should be chalked up to coincidence. I don’t buy into any theory that a captain is anymore hungrier the year after an early exit. Still, it’s fun to look at what teams are primed for a championship based on these trends.
Here are the teams who fit the criteria for each of the championship trends listed above:

Two Rookies: Pollock, Lapine, Applebaum, Sarcona, Goldfarb, Beilis, Jacoby, Granese, Marrone, Randell
No Repeat Champions: Pollock, Lapine, Sarcona, Younger, Beilis, Paladino, Wallman, Jacoby, Bykofsky, Feldman, Randell
Top 8 in Runs Scored: Bykofsky, Jacoby, Applebaum, Goldfarb, Wallman, Randell, Pollock, Marrone

Here is how many of the four trends each team has going for them going into this year’s playoffs:
Lapine- 3
Jacoby -4
Goldfarb- 3
Harris- 0
Wallman- 2
Randell- 4
Marrone- 3
Feldman- 1
Sarcona- 2
Pollock- 4
Granese- 1
Applebaum- 3
Younger- 2
Bykofsky- 2
Paladino- 1
Beilis- 2

Once again, this is a purely fun way of predicting who will win the championship based on recent trends. In fact, “Top 8 in Runs Scored” is the only category here that is based on performance.  Logically, a team’s chances of winning should not diminish if one of its members played for last year’s champions. Nonetheless, here are the only teams who fit all four criteria. 

Jacoby
Randell
Pollock

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Are These Records Meant To Be Broken?

Before I get into this individual stat heavy edition of the blog, let me state for the record:
 
1)  Yes, winning games is more important than individual stat performance.

2) Of course these numbers are based on questionable scoring decisions. I don’t know how many scorebooks give people credit for doubles when it should be a single+advancing to second on a throw or give credit for RBI when a run scores on an errant throw, etc.


Despite these flaws, I believe our keeping of statistics helps make this league unique. If you disagree, fine. But if you never visit the league leaders page on the website, then you probably shouldn’t read the rest of this blog post. Don’t do it! Trust me. You won’t be happy.

This blog entry is going to focus on the record holders in several key offensive categories in the Post Stat Era. I’ve never established a name for this time period which is 2010-present. So for now on, I’m calling it the PSE. We’ll look at the PSE leaders and the chances the record will be broken this year. This blog entry, therefore, serves as my attempt to jinx Team Bykofsky since they are currently on pace to break every team and individual record to date.

Batting Average:   Ron Carlin- .704 in 2011

Every year around this point in the season I think this is going to be the year that batting averages go through the roof. All the great hitters are going to figure out how to get a hit almost every at bat and we’ll have a leaderboard full of .600 averages.
In fact, here are the number of .600 seasons each year starting in 2010:
2010: 3
2011: 4
2012: 6
2013: 7
2014: 11
2015: 9

The steady growth (until a slight dip last year) strengthens my belief that we’ll eventually view .600 seasons the way we used to view .550 seasons. This makes it all the more remarkable that the PSE record for highest batting single season batting average happened all the way back in 2011. To put it in more perspective, in 2011 there were 32 players who hit .500. Fast forward to 2015 and that number has jumped to 45. During a time when offense, or generous stat keeping, is increasing, Mr. Carlin is the only player to maintain a .700 average the whole season.

Right now you can’t even make it onto the leaderboard unless you have an average above .611. It’s hard to remember that all it takes is one 0 for performance to knock you off the pedestal. It’s even harder to remember that this can happen to anyone, even those who seem programmed to get a hit every at bat.

Right now we have the following players who eclipse the .704 mark set in 2011:
Joe Mamone .742
Steve Schefkind .722
Pat Brock .708
Robert Bykofsky .704

These are all top players who would not at all be fluky contenders for putting together a record setting season.  The same goes for Ed Fradkin (.684), Justin Bykofsky (.690), Dave Polzer (.667) and rookie stud Anthony Dimarco (.667) who are just a few hits shy of .700. Yet we could probably have this same discussion every year. There is some sort of reassuring feeling that the law of averages tend to catch up to all of us. It makes that journey to .700 all the more tantalizing.  So will it be done this year? Like every time early June I’m tempted to say YES! This is the year where the offensive explosion results in a new PSE batting champ. But the realist in me thinks, “Don’t fall for it”. Each of these players is one 0-4 away from making this an extremely uphill battle.

RBI:  Lenny Sarcona- 46 in 2010

Like the record for batting average, it’s pretty amazing that as offensive numbers have increased, the PSE record established early in the decade still stands. There have been a few other times players have come close to reaching 46. Last year, Justin Callow topped out at 43 while in 2013 both James Dell’alba and Lee Kushner finished with 43. This year, however, may represent the best shot at someone reaching 50 RBI for the first time as Joe Spoto is on pace for roughly 2,445 RBI this season. 

Seriously though, his 24 RBI in 6 games has him on pace for an incredible 88 RBI for the season. What helps Spoto’s cause, and I truly don’t mean this as a jinx, is he’s no fluke and neither are the guys batting ahead of him in the lineup.

As I mentioned before when talking about batting averages, it is only expected that the Bykofskys are going to cool off a little. But even with a slump being factored into the equation, Spoto can break the record of 46.

And while Spoto may break the record for RBI in a season, one of his current records may fall. . . .

Doubles: Joe Spoto 21 in 2014

This may sound ridiculous, but watching Spoto turn a seemingly ordinary single into a double is one of my favorite things to watch on Sunday mornings. Here’s someone who knows he’s so fast, and so much has to go right for an outfielder to throw him out at second, that he does not even hesitate when rounding first base.

I think as players begin emulating this style more, we’ll see this record fall. There are a handful of speedsters who can make this happen, one being Offensive Player of the Month Joe Mamone. Mamone is on pace for 35 doubles, so he’s a natural candidate to break Spoto’s mark. The number 21 has been approached many times before. Since 2011, four players (Justin and Pat Brock, Ed Fradkin, and Andy Pargament) have finished the season with 19 doubles.

In addition to Mamone with 11, we also have Pat Brock who is on pace to record a slightly more modest 33 doubles. Both Mamone and Brock play with a style similar to Spoto. They know their speed is so great that a double is almost automatic based on where outfielders are playing them. It’s this philosophy that we’ll be looking at a new doubles king by the end of the season.


Coming soon I’ll look at a few more records that may or may not be challenged this season. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Reversal of Fortune

As my team sits at 1-6, I was hoping to find some interesting fact that falls under the category of “Misery Loves Company”. Luckily, I found one. Only one team that had a winning record last year has a winning record this year. Here are last year’s .500 or better teams with their 2015 win/loss records in parentheses.

2014:

Applebaum (2-5)
Jacoby (3-4)
Randell (2-5)
Carlin (1-5)
Wallman (2-4)
Beilis (7-0)

Teams that have won the championship this decade(Lapine, Pollock, Harris, Jacoby, Applebaum) are a combined 11-24.

The flip side to this is teams who had a season to forget in 2014 are having much more success this year. Captains who  were 9-13 or worse in 2014 are 26-11 in 2015.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Power Rankings

Here are the power rankings with no commentary. Hopefully I'll be able to write something up this weekend:

1. Goldarb
2. Beilis
3. Younger
4. Bykofsky
5. Paladino
6. Feldman
7. Harris
8. Marrone