The folks over at Baseball Prospectus have a creative approach to previewing every team this season. The question for each team: "what strategies does this team use to gain an advantage?" Or, as they put it, "what is every teams' moneyball?" Dan Rozenson addresses the Rockies. A couple of year's ago, Rozenson claimed that curveballs at altitude lose bite and don't break as much. He suggested that sliders fare better suited to altitude. In this article from last week, Rozenson shows that the seven pitchers with the most WAR since 2011 all employ heavy use of the slider. Most of them don't even throw a curveball. On a smaller scale, he notes that Jordan Lyles used a spike curveball in Houston and in April of last season, but by the middle of the season he had almost completely stopped throwing it. The identified advantage is in pitch selection. For readers here, this article is more confirmation than revelation, but like the rest of the "Every Team's Moneyball" series, it's worth a read.
This excellent initiative is designed to arouse interest in and teach some fundamentals of math and science to school children from grades five through eight. Created and led by Ricardo Valerdi, the program includes lessons in statistics, field geometry, the physics of ball trajectory, player analysis, and biomechanics. This is a great way to get students interested in math and science through the application of both to baseball. I would be remiss, however, if I didn't wish that the program also included a focus on the humanities. The "science of baseball" and the "art of baseball" are too often kept separate.
Do you live in or near Denver? What are you doing on April 10? Mark your calendars now. Denver Post writers and ROOT Sports personalities will attend the annual Opening Day breakfast at Wynkoop Brewery in LoDo. The doors open at 8 a.m. and the conversation starts at 8:30, which is plenty of time to inhale a breakfast burrito or two.
The title doesn't do Nick Groke's profile of Jairo Diaz justice. Sandwiched between a physical description of Diaz and a word about his stuff is an overview of the state of affairs between Venezuela and the United States. An expression of this tension is in the closing baseball academies in Venezuela and the difficulty of scouts to even enter the country. Groke states that "Venezuela could become the new Cuba." If by this he means a completely broken relationship and the closing of the path that ballplayers such as Diaz, Carlos Gonzalez and Jhoulys Chacin have travelled, the consequences will be felt most by those individuals and their families. One of the consequences of the U.S. embargo against Cuba was that it left Cuban ballplayers in the United States adrift and forced them to make decisions nobody should have to make: Do I stay here and try to fulfill my professional ambitions as an athlete, or do I return home to my family?
This is a fun experiment. Parker Fleming, a St. Louis Cardinals fan, is going to follow the Rockies this year as if they were his team. He'll be recording his thoughts for Rockies Zingers. I expect this will result in some engaging thoughts about fandom, and what I expect would be a somewhat uncomfortable immersive experience. It will be interesting to follow Parker throughout the season.