Thursday, July 22, 2010

Finishing Strong

I took yesterday off to see the Yankees with my aunt, uncle, and grandfather, and they ended up winning a wild game against the Angels 10-6. That puts my season record at 5-1, which is by far my best personal performance of all time. Dating back to last season, I'm 9-1 in my last 10. I don't believe in luck, per se, but I do think the Yankees should pay me to attend their baseball games.

Something really strange and interesting happened in yesterday's game. With two outs in the 7th, Gardner was at the plate facing an 0-1 count. The pitch was a strike, and he turned to the umpire and said something. Nobody is exactly clear about the exchange, but the ump decided it crossed the line, and he tossed Gardner. Girardi came out to protest, but no overturn was forthcoming. So with the count 0-2, Colin Curtis stepped in to pinch hit. He waited out three balls, then drilled a full count fastball into the right field stands for a 3-run home run.

The score was 7-5 at the time, and the Angels had come all the way back from a 6-0 deficit, so the homer was key- it put the game out of reach. The stadium crowd knew they'd just seen something pretty bizarre and special, so they continued cheering until Curtis' teammates made him come out for a curtain call. Pretty cool stuff. According to the Boston Herald, Curtis saw Gardner in the tunnel to the clubhouse shortly after. "You're welcome," said Gardner.

I'm trying to find out whether this is the first time in MBL history a player has taken over mid-at-bat and hit a home run, but no verdict yet. I imagine somebody, somewhere is on this.

Another highlight was Sweet Robbie Cano drilling a third-inning two-run homer into the bullpen. It was his 995th career hit. I decided to run the numbers and see how he compares to Pete Rose.


Pete Rose had 4,256 career hits in 15,861 plate appearances. That means he got a hit 26.8% of the time.

Robbie has 995 career hits in 3,436 plate appearances, good for 28.9%.

Obviously these stats aren't very good for predicting, since the numbers factor in Rose's late years of decline. Also, we have no idea how Robbie will fare in the injury and longevity departments. But just for kicks, let's check out what Rose was doing with a similar plate appearance number.

After 3,357 plate appearances, just 80 shy of what Robbie has currently, Rose had 899 hits. At that point, he was getting a hit in just 26.7% of his plate appearances. In other words, Robinson is about 70-80 hits ahead of the Pete Rose pace. If we assume a similar career arc, and roughly equal longevity (which is a whole hell of a lot to assume, but let's have some fun), Robbie would end up beating Rose by about 150 hits. And for the record, Rose was 26 when that season ended, and Robbie is 27.

Again, though, Rose played until he was 45. And from his numbers, it looks like he was never really hurt, at least until his early 40s. Even then, he never had fewer than 100 hits in a year. So there's a long way to go before we give Robbie the all-time batting crown. But on a smaller scale, maybe it wouldn't be too outrageous to predict that he could eventually eclipse Derek Jeter in the Yankee hit department. Assuming he stays in pinstripes, that is. (While we're here, I should note that Jeter's lifetime hit percentage is 27.8, and if he can stay healthy and play into his 40s, he actually has a fighting chance to overtake Rose...)

The win puts the Yanks 2 ahead of the Rays, and 7 up on the Red Sox. Nothing is impossible, but it may be time to start panicking in The Bean. Beckett returns tomorrow, and his performance over the next month is absolutely critical if they hope to make a run at the Rays and Yanks. Buchholz needs to regain his form as well. After suffering a hamstring injury, yesterday's start was pretty rough. Lester appears to be their only reliable starter at the moment, though Dice-K has strung together a few nice starts. And we don't need to even mention the bats; the Sox are suffering a year of injuries like the Yanks had during the woefully unlucky '08 season.

So in late July, I have to admit I'm feeling fairly confident. The Yanks are sitting pretty atop the east, and if the emerging offense can carry us until Pettitte's return, I believe our position is safe. With Teixeira having reached safely in 37 straight games, and his average back near .260, the middle of the order looks tougher than ever. The stress is still on, but for a moment it's possible to smell the roses and remember that it's good to be a Yankee fan.


  1. You really think Jeter can average 200 hits a year for seven more seasons? (age 37-43)

  2. The real question to ask is whether Jeter can break Pete Rose's record. The short answer is no, but the long answer is maybe.

    Jeter, at age 36, has 10,237 plate appearances and 2,853 hits. Rose, at age 36, had 10,717 plate apperances, and 2,966 hits. So with 500 more plate appearances, Rose had 113 more hits. To date, Jeter's hit % is 27.8. Rose's was 27.6.

    Rose was 37 by the time he played another game, whereas Jeter just turned 36 in June. Jeter has averaged 697 plate appearances per year, not counting his 51 plate appearances in 1995. If you subtract a month's average from that (he turned 36 on June 26), you have about 540 plate appearances until he's the exact same age that Rose was when he had 2,966 hits. 540 x 27.8 (Jeter's hit %) is 150 more hits.

    So if we add that to Jeter's current total, we have a projected hit total of 3,003 hits when he hits 37. When Rose hit 37, he had 2,966.

    In other words, Jeter is 37 hits ahead of the Pete Rose curve. If he plays exactly as long as Rose played, and stays .2 percentage points above Rose's hit percentage, you'd project that he would break the record by about 50 hits.

    That being said, Pete Rose played until he was 45. Will Jeter be able to play that long? Will he want to? Will he be able to stay with the Yankees in a full-time capacity if he decides to make a run at Rose's record?

    Probably not. But maybe.


  3. There is zero chance of him catching Rose. With the advanced stats available today nobody will be putting him on the field full time even 4 years from now. His defense will continue to decline, and he doesn't have the power to be an option at DH or 1B.

  4. You're probably right. On the other hand, if he can put up 3-4 more very good years, and Rose's record is in sight, I can imagine a small market team signing him for the express purpose of attracting crowds to watch him break the record. Of course, he would have to play third base.

    But I agree, the chance is really small.