December 2011

2011 in review (stats-wise)

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,700 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Re-View of the Preview: Cincinnati Reds

First off, here, is the entry in question.

Predicted Record: 85-90 wins

Actual Record: 79-83

I really don’t know where to start with this entry. For whatever reason, I detailed the Reds losing talent at almost every position, yet I only downgraded them one win. In addition, I should have expected either a fluctuation up or down with this team because of their youth. I should have put this in the first entry as a provision in the first entry.

This is the only way I can explain being off by the amount I was off by. Other than that I really have nothing to say. I wish I did, I’m kind of disappointed by how short this entry is.

New Year’s Resolutions 2012

Last year, I wrote an entry pertaining to my balhawking goals for the New Year of 2011. That, in my opinion, is one of the great things about Baseball: you always know what season the person is referring to. In all of the three other Major Sports, the season begins one year, and the champion is crowned the next year. Anyway…Getting back on subject, I just put down certain goals I hoped to achieve for that following season. For the record, I managed to accomplish 4.5 of these goals…including the Partridge in a Pear Tree addition at the end.

I enjoyed writing these and using them as a metric to keep track of myself. So, I decided to do another entry of the same idea this year. Here are my goals for 2012:

1. Go to 50 games- I went to 46 games this past season. How I see it, I should be able to make 50, because I will not have to be my school’s baseball manager come September. True, I will be moving in/adjusting to college life, but that doesn’t mean I can’t go to games in September. Just a note to put in here, I may be taking a trip with my family in the summer, and this would take off 1-2 weeks from my Baseball schedule, but I still think I can make this back in September.

2. Average 4.5 Balls Per Game- This may seem a bit ambitious given last year’s average of 3.5, but I would like to point out that my Season High average was 4.48. Also, my average the season prior was 2.56. So if I improve one Ball Per Game like I did last year I should achieve my goal. The only bump in the road is that my first baseball trip boosted my average an incredible amount and I am only going on a trip with tough stadium (snagging wise) on the list.

3. Go to 8 Stadiums- I have the benefit of having 2 stadiums right in my hometown and having a secondary residence in Washington DC. So that’s 3 stadiums right there. I also have a 3 Stadium trip in the works for 2012. It would be: Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia, not necessarily in that order, sometime in June. There will almost certainly will not be a second baseball trip because of the trip with family I mentioned in goal #1.

4a. Double my career total- I have snagged 222 Baseballs to this day. Doubling my career total would be having 444 total Baseballs after the 2012 season. If I got to 50 games like I have as a goal and average 4.5 BPG, I will reach this goal, but i have to reach both goals in order to do this so…

4b. Snag 200 Baseballs- I am not so sure I can average 4.5 BPG. So if I can’t double my career total, I want to at least snag 200 Baseballs.

5. Catch one Game Home Run. Period.- The fact that I went to 46 games last year and failed to catch a single Home Run ball, to me at least, is pathetic. I have had many, many…many close calls, but I NEED to seal the deal and become part of the Baseball game. Sure a Foul Ball is nice, but the only impact that has on the game is that the batter has one more strike on him, a Home Run directly impacts the score of the game.

6. Catch 5 Game Balls total- I know I put this on last year’s list and I only got 2. However, this season I think I will just stop going down by the dugouts period and only sit in places where I have a chance at a Game Ball (except for Yankee Stadium where I can’t afford a ticket in the third deck of the Stadium.

7. Be in the mygameballs.com Top 10- To get in this year’s “Top 10″ one would have needed 214 Baseballs. This will be one of my tougher goals if that number hovers in the same number. I predict/really, really hope it comes down, but that will still take a lot of work and determination/preparation.

8. Go to 10 games at Nationals Park before June’s end- This one might be tough because I have school until May and then a baseball trip planned for June. The rationale behind it is that I really have high-ish expectations for the Nationals attendance next season once Bryce Harper comes up. If he comes up from Spring Training then this goal is void, but I want to soak up the glory still left in that stadium while he is in MiLB.

9. Average 5.0 Balls Per Game at Nationals Park- Even with Mother Nature doing her best to hinder me every time I went to Nationals Park, I still have managed to post a 4.83 BPG average for my career there. Sure the crowd’s will be a bit bigger in 2012, but I hope the simple fact of having Batting Practice will compensate for this.

10. Average 3.5 Balls Per Game at Citi Field- My career average there is 2.57, but there are also some renovations being done to the Outfield walls (which I will probably blog about once the season nears closer), because the ballhawks there complained the walls were too far. No, just kidding, I wish they held us to one one thousandth of that regard. However, a bi-product of the walls being moved in is that it will be easier to snag hit balls in Left Field and moderately plausible in Right Field. Before, one would have to got to Right Field solely to get a ball thrown to them, because there was about a window of two inches where a non-line-drive Home Run could possibly reach. Now, it will not be easy by any stretch of the imagination to get a ball hit, because of the incline of the seats, but it is at least a semi-viable option when the Left Field seats are too crowded.

11. Average 2.5 BPG at Yankee Stadium- I can see myself reasonably accomplishing this goal, because I know that there is a way to catch Baseballs at this stadium. The only thing is that I think I will be too scared to go to Yankee Stadium most of the time, because it is a shut-out waiting to happen. I think I will have to just resort to buying bleacher tickets and hoping for the best. This stadium/environment is one made for catching the Hit Ball, but this just so happens to be one of my weaker attributes, which segues perfectly into my next goal of…

12. Improve on my HB/TB ratio- I think I focus too much on the strategy of getting players to throw me a baseball. I think I should just try and focus on the Hit Ball more, because this will also help of my Game Ball oriented goals earlier in this entry. Besides this, I still think it is pathetic how bad I am at catching Hit Balls.

13. Go to Camden Yards 3 times- Maybe it was because I went down there for Ballhawk Fest, but even in the near Saharan conditions, it was one of the best environments I have ever been to and it just, I don’t know, was relaxing. It is a place I think I should go more just to appreciate ballhawking and Baseball more. It is almost the polar opposite of Citi Field. Which brings me to my next point of…

14. Enjoy the summer of Baseball- There are not many people that can go to 50 games a year in six different seasons. Last year I was constantly being stressed out by what wasn’t happening: How much more Citi Field security was cracking down on ballhawks, the time I didn’t have in the day because of community service, how many partial batting practices I had rained out in Washington, etc. I just need to remember that this whole experience is for FUN and I need to enjoy it no matter how many things I need to do at once. I can worry about the other problems separately, but baseball problems should be cherished because that mean I’m still going to baseball GAMES.

15. Post Entries Regularly- This will be a little easier this year, because I won’t have my community service 9am-3:30pm taking up a big chunk of my day. However, it is still hard because of the reasons mentioned in last year’s entry.

One last thing, I just hope this year’s resolutions don’t come with a revision like they did last year.

Re-View of the Preview: Washington Nationals

First of all, here, is the initial entry.

Predicted Record: 70-75 wins

Actual Record: 80-81

I actually thought this would be a stallish year for the Nationals waiting for both Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper to come up. However, the Nationals had a surprisingly strong lineup. Whenever I was in the Outfield for their At-Bats, I was always confident that I could possibly get a ball hit to me within three hitters. Actually, Jayson Werth was one of the weaker parts of the lineup.

 

Also, I think part of the reason they improved so much was via the simple improvement on defense. Can anyone remember the years the Nationals were REALLY bad? It was almost hilarious some of the error they would make on defense to lose games. Their Pitching still has to improve in the rotation, but the virtual additon of Stephen Strasburg shouldn’t be that bad.

 

Another thing, the second most important addition I had for the Nationals last offseason didn’t even play for most of the season. I had Adam LaRoche being the second biggest impact player the Nationals acquired behind Jayson Werth. Of course, the Nationals eventual MVP for the year now plays at 1st Base: Michael Morse. However, if you don’t remember, I went to the Nationals’ last three home games this past season (the links are here, here, and here starting with the last game and going backwards. Also, for newer readers, I usually do take a bunch of pictures with the games I got to, but I lost all of the pictures for those three games. A better example of one of my entries for a game can be found: here.) and Michael Morse was being put in the Outfield. Yes it is definitely not his defensive strong suit, but I  think this is a sign that they expect to have him in the Outfield next season.

 

Anyway, the Nationals, I think we can agree, were a surprising team in 2011 and I did not predict they would do this well.

Re-View of the Preview: New York Mets

First off, here, is the initial entry.

Predicted Record: 65-70 wins

Actual Record: 77-85 wins

Ok, so maybe I was a bit too overreactive to the Mets. After all, they did have 79 wins in 2010 and I gave them a B- grade, which meant I saw it as a sucessful offseason. However, I did make my prediction on the notion that the Mets would be unloading both Carlos Beltran AND Jose Reyes. Yes, that Jose Reyes who had the highest WAR among BOTH leagues among this season’s Free-Agent class at somewhere in the 7 range. Also, the Mets played above my expectations in most other fields except pitching.

 

I really don’t have much of an explanation as to how. Why? As crazy as this may seem, I attended less games at Citi Field (13) this past season than I did the year before (15). It’s crazy, because in 2011 I attended 46 games whereas I attended only (I love being able to say that) 20 games total. The reason being that Citi Field just stresses me out in general. It really wasn’t a fun place for me any more for a variety of reasons. As a result, I tried to avoid it at all costs and go to Nationals Park instead. So, i really wasn’t able to get a good grip on what the Mets were, because if I don’t go to the games, last season I was just too busy between going to games, writing entries, doing community service, etc to do much else at all e.g. watch Baseball TV.

 

So, I really just fed off the sentiment of the rest of New York in this prediction. Everyone held the Mets as a laughing stock and I made a prediction amidst all of that. Thus, my prediction reflected the panic/mocking and I didn’t use my head as I did with most of the other entries. I think the Mets will be a…Wait, this isn’t the Offseason Recap and Review entry. I guess you’ll just have to wait until then to see what I think of the Mets’ 2012 season.

Re-View of the Preview: Florida Marlins

First of all, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it. As I type this, it is already halfway through said holiday her in France. I hope, though, no matter what a anybody believes, that this be a good day for them. Now, here, is the link to the first entry predicting the then Florida Marlins’ 2011 season.

Predicted Record: 75-80 wins

Actual Record: 72-90

So I was a little off on this prediction. Though, I was a LOT closer than I thought when I initially looked at the discrepancy between the two records. That is because, I failed to put Josh Johnson in the Notable Subtractions column. Does anyone remeber the first two months or so of the season? Josh Johnson had about 3 or4  starts it seems that he had a no-hitter for the first 6 innings of a game. He was THE best pitcher in baseball when he got injured, and that is with Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw included. Johson was their bonafide Ace and had I known he would have been down for most of the season, I would have down graded the Marlins about four wins. Case in point, the second to last video on Johnson’s Player Page is entitled, “J.J. is key to Marlins’ success.”

Just a side note, as much as I like Josh Johnson, I don’t think he will get over his injury woes. Last Year, when Stephen Strasburg was coming up, everyone and their mother had their eyes on him. Curt Schilling was no exception. He did a segment with ESPN or MLBN where he looked at both Josh Johnson side-by-side with Stephen Stasburg because he wanted to look at a Pitcher of the same height of 6’5″ (Strasburg is 6’4″ and Johnson is 6’6″, but whatever)

 

Had Josh Johnson been out from the beginning of the season, I would have adjusted my prediction correctly. So all things considered, I predicted the Marlins’ season pretty well. They were who I thought they were! A team that was above average offensively, but not so spectacular to overcome any lack in pitching. I’m not saying their pitching staff was horrible without Johnson, but they have a lot of slightly above average homegrown Pitchers and some below average mercinaries. All in all, this is a well run organization for the funding it provides its GM with.

Re-view of Preview: Atlanta Braves

First off, here, is the entry horribly mangled by the transition to WordPress. It just happens that some pictures in certain entries appear as several in this particular entry appear as they were lost in the transition from Two Apart to WordPress.

 

Predicted Record: 91-96 wins

Actual Record: 89-73

 

This was pretty much right on because most of my prediction revolved around the acquisition of Dan Uggla, who was absolutely wretched compared to expectation this season. I mean, yes, he did have a 33 game hitting streak from the beginnings of July to the beginnings of April, but do you realize that despite that he had a .233 average for the season. This just shows how terrible his first half was that he could get at least 1 hit for 33 games straight and still not have an average above .250.

 

Imagine he actually hit his usual .260-.280. We would have a different World Series champion this year. It wouldn’t necessarily be the Braves, but they were the team the Cardinals beat out to get into the playoffs in the first place. Despite all of this, I still have no idea how the Braves didn’t make the playoffs. After the first game in their penultimate series against the Nationals (which I was at all three games of) the Braves magic number (number of their wins+ Cardinals losses to get into the playoffs) was 2 or 3. The weirder thing: a Nationals fan in the bleachers the second game was telling  a Braves fan that nothing would give him more joy than to keep them from the playoffs, which looked like a fantasy at that point.

 

Anyway, I pretty much nailed the Braves if Dan Uggla would have played up to expectations.

Re-view of the Preview: Philadelphia Phillies

First of all, here, is the link to the initial entry.

 

Predicted record: 94-99 wins

Actual Record: 102-60

 

So I was 3 games off. I actually think that was pretty good. The only knock I have on my prediction is that their rotation actually was THAT good. I thought that someone was bound to have an off year and their rotation would be a little less spectacular, but they did not fail to disappoint. Even when a starter was injured, they had a hidden starter in the rotation in Vance Worley.

 

I will stand by my statement, though, that the Phillies’ lineup was nothing spectacular like the years previous when it was hailed as: “the only American League lineup in the National League”. Other than this, I really have nothing to say about my prediction but that I did underestimate the Phillies even with what I thought were pretty high expectations. I did predict they would be in the playoffs and I apologize. I think I am going to stop predicting the playoffs, because I am from the school of thought that the playoffs are very much luck dictated and the Regular Season is what shows the true best team. I’m not saying that the playoffs are bogus, but there should be no way that the Cardinals should have beaten the Phillies given their respective records. The playoffs do provide great entertainment value (just look at this past season), but it is not the best team that always wins the World Series. The worse team of any given match-up has a reasonable chance of beating the better team no matter the discrepancy.

 

Anyway, I underestimated them a little, but I did get the Phillies’ prediction mostly right.

Re-view of the Preview: Baltimore Orioles

First off, here, is the link to the entry where I didn’t get carried away in the (at the time I wrote the entry) magic of the “Buck Show”.

Predicted Record: 70-75 wins

Actual Record: 69-93

Yes , I did give the Orioles an A+. Yes, I did only increase their win total by 4-9 games.Let me explainthe logic. The Orioles were on their way to at least an 100 loss season before Buck Showalter stepped in as manager. I knew that Buck was agreat manager, but I also knew he couldn’t keep winning at the level he was at the end of the 2010 season, because he had never done so with a team of the skill level of the Orioles. Therefore, I lowered their record of last season by 5 games to 61-101, gave the Orioles 3 of those wins back for the buck factor, to raise their record to 64-98,  then examined the net wins added on by their acquisitions and came to the decision that they were a 70-75 win team. Certain players’ undeperformances (Cough, cough, Kevin Gregg, cough, cough) then lead to their underachieving my expectations for them this year and fall just below the record range I predicted for them.

 

I still stand by my point that the Orioles helped their potential win total last season more than the Red Sox did. Case in point, what match-up ended the Red Sox’s season? The Red Sox may have boosted their potential win total for next year or the years afterward, but the Orioles are much better than they would have been had last offseason never happened. I certainly stand by my point now more than ever when I say that the Orioles *need* starting pitching to win even more games. I was in Baltimore for only three games and I could tell that this was the case.

 

Again, not a totally correct prediction, but I did very accurately predict how well the Orioles did in 2011.

Re-view of the Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

Here, is my entry analyzing  the Blue Jays’ 2010-11 offseason and predicting their 2011 season’s successes.

Predicted record: 77-82 wins

Actual Record: 81-81

 

Some how someway I predicted the Blue Jays’ 2011 pretty accurately. Let me explain my relationship with the Blue Jays: I do admire them as a team, but because of the circumstances (distance and the TV situations this creates), I pay attention to them probably the least out of the teams in the AL East with the Rays a close second.

 

Truth be told, I have little to no idea how the Blue Jays won their games. The extent of this knowledge is propbably that Jose Bautista was really hot in the first half and ended up with 50-some odd HRs.

 

I can’t really tell you how, but I was right in predicting the Blue Jays’ season even if I did pay less attention to them than I normally do in most seasons. Although, I do stick with my prediction of them getting better in the next few years as a result of Alex Anthropoulos, as he has demonsrtated his above-average ability to piece together what seem to be great trades (you can’t really evaluate any trade until all of the players in the trade leave the respective teams they were traded to).

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