We’ll follow up on some stats talk we got into on yesterday’s blog and expand it to Cubs manager Dale Sveum’s thoughts on some pitching numbers. The Cubs take on the Cincinnati Reds tonight, and congratulations to their manager, Dusty Baker, who manages his 3,000th game tonight.
Dusty managed 1,556 games with the Giants, 648 for the Cubs and 795 for the Reds. He’s trying to become the third manager in Cincinnati history to lead the team into the postseason more than once. Bill McKechnie did it in 1939-40, and Sparky Anderson did so too many times to count. Davey Johnson had the Reds in first place when the strike hit in 1994 and won the NL Central in 1995.
We talked OPS last night with Sveum, and today, I asked him about the stat and why fans and media should be looking at it along with the traditional “baseball-card” stats.
“I think it’s the one stat that truly shows the wins and losses a guy can produce on the offensive part of it by being on base and having slugging percentage to be able to score easier, to be able to score quicker,” Dale said. “All those things come into play. Last night, for instance, they scored 3 runs, on a 2-run triple and a double. So you score more runs with slugging percentage. Of course, you score more when people are on base. To me, it’s the most defining offensive stat there is. I think it defines you as an offensive player.”
Pushing my luck a little further, I wanted to get to pitching, so I asked Dale about WHIP, just to name one.
“WHIP goes along with, if you’re keeping the ball in the park and your WHIP’s low, it all works out,” he said. “But if you’re WHIP’s low and you’re not keeping the ball in the park, you look up and the earned run average 4.30, 4.40 and you know why, because he’s not keeping the ball in the park if the WHIP’s in the low 1s.”
I’d like to sit down with Dale one on one someday to talk more with him about this kind of stuff. It gets a little tough in a group setting.
Just proving that you can talk about this kind of stuff with ballplayers and former ballplayers, a few of us had a chance to visit with Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. We’ll have more in the paper tomorrow (and online) about the Gold Glove race between defending winner Phillips and the Cubs’ Darwin Barney. Phillips himself brought up such measuring sticks as “zone” ratings, which include things such as Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and UZR/150, which measures runs saved over 150 games. Note that the jury is still out on these ratings among stats gurus.
“Now, how people vote is not the same,” Phillips said. “Everybody goes off of errors. Everybody goes off of zone things. But the thing is, it’s really hard to go off people’s zone when (managers) got the shift on, and that messes up your zone. Some people have more range than others. They get to more balls that some guys don’t get to. When they get to balls like that, they make an error and get penalized for that. That’s the thing about me, I have a lot of range at second base. The majority of my errors have been on plays normal guys don’t get to. When a guy doesn’t have that much range, they just catch the balls that are hit right at them.”
A couple leftovers from Monday:
--Cubs pitchers struck out a season-high 15 against the Pirates. Travis Wood had a career-high nine.
--Wood also threw a career-high 116 pitches, surpassing the 114 he threw June 15, 2011 while with the Reds, against the Dodgers.
--The Cubs have lost 21 consecutive games when scoring 3 or fewer runs dating to their July 28 3-2 win over the Cardinals.