Author Archive

NERD Game Scores for Thursday, August 11, 2016

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by sabermetric nobleman Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

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Most Highly Rated Game
New York AL at Boston | 19:10 ET
Pineda (125.1 IP, 77 xFIP-) vs. Rodriguez (57.2 IP, 115 xFIP-)
When the author’s haphazardly constructed algorithm for determining the watchability of a game recommends a Red Sox-Yankees contest as the day’s most promising — when that sort of thing happens, I understand the disappointment Victor Frankenstein must have experienced when faced with the great disaster of his experiment. Like Frankenstein, I’m abhorred by my creation. Like Frankenstein, I would probably not mind if it incinerated itself at “the Northernmost extremity of the globe.” But it’s only an algorithm. So it can’t even do that.

On the plus side, hot, hot, hot prospect Andrew Benintendi is likely to start once again tonight.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Boston Radio.

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NERD Game Scores: A David Phelps Unsolved Mystery

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by sabermetric nobleman Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

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Most Highly Rated Game
San Francisco at Miami | 12:10 ET
Samardzija (141.0 IP, 104 xFIP-) vs. Phelps (58.2 IP, 81 xFIP-)
Over the first four years of his career — during which he operated in mostly a swing role — Miami right-hander David Phelps sat at roughly 91 mph. Through July of this year, working exclusively out of the bullpen, Phelps recorded an average fastball velocity of 94-95. This past Friday, making his first start of the season, Phelps sat at 94-95 — and actually more like 95-96 with his four-seam fastball. As with most other pitchers, Phelps at 94-95 is markedly different than Phelps at 91. Which version of Phelps appears today is a mystery to be solved by everyone at about noon simultaneously.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: San Francisco Radio or Television.

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A Data Point in the Matter of Brandon Woodruff’s Command

Attempts to measure and/or quantify command have proven elusive. It’s a different thing than control, almost certainly, and it likely isn’t fully represented by control-oriented metrics such as walk rate or zone rate or first-pitch strike rate. Command is informed not merely by a pitcher’s capacity to throw strikes but rather by his body’s ability to execute the pitch his mind — and his catcher and maybe his manager — has requested.

Of course, the reader needn’t rely on a loathsome weblogger’s views on the matter. Here’s actual major-league pitcher Ryan Buchter meditating on the same concept in a post published by Eno Sarris just today.

When he’s stuck in a bad count, the lefty digs in. “I just pick out a spot and throw a ball just out of the zone,” he says. “To right-handers, I miss off the plate away. I’m not going to give in. I’m not going to throw the ball down the middle and hope it works out. It’s not like I’m wild. I’m not throwing fastballs to the backstop or in the dirt. I’m just not giving in to hitters. If I’m throwing outside, I’m just throwing outside. Even if it’s a lefty up and a righty on deck, and I fall behind, I don’t give in. That’s my game.”

Buchter cites a certain instance in which he’s throwing balls out of the zone on purpose. Superficially, he’s exhibiting poor control. In reality, he’s demonstrating good command.

Despite entering the season having produced only modest success in the low minors, right-handed Milwaukee prospect Brandon Woodruff was nevertheless well regarded. Of Woodruff, Dan Farnsworth wrote the following in his evaluation of the Brewers system:

One Brewers source put Woodruff’s status best: his numbers don’t do his talent justice. He still has plenty of potential with a quality delivery and stuff, and has had stretches of real dominance in the past year and a half. He will start in either High-A or Double-A, and the Brewers are hoping this is the year he really puts himself on the map, with his ongoing oblique issue from last year hopefully behind him.

The current post exists because Woodruff has recently put himself on the map real hard. After producing one of the top strikeout- and walk-rate differentials (22.2 points) across all High-A, Woodruff has recorded almost exactly the same numbers with Double-A Biloxi. Over the past month, the effect has been exaggerated. In six starts and 38.0 innings since July 8, Woodruff has recorded strikeout and walk rates of 32.4% and 2.9%, respectively. For reference, consider: Woodruff’s strikeout mark would represent the highest among qualified Double-A pitchers by over seven points; his walk, the lowest by half a point.

The strikeouts are almost certainly informed — in part, at least — by Woodruff’s terrific arm speed. Two years ago, erstwhile lead prospect analyst Kiley McDaniel conveyed reports of Woodruff’s fastball sitting in the 94-97 mph range. More recent observations suggest the right-hander is currently visiting the upper bound of that range with regularity. Pat Kelly, coach of Southern League rival and Reds affiliate Pensacola, recently referred to Woodruff’s four-seamer as a “97 mph fastball.” Meanwhile, Woodruff’s pitching coach with the Shuckers, Chris Hook, suggested that the velocity of the pitch has been “anywhere from 95 and 97.” All things being equal, velocity is a benefit.

The combination simultaneously of Woodruff’s physical tools and in-game success — the sort of success (measured by strikeouts and walks) that’s predictive of future success, as well — suggest that he’s probably well-equipped to handle major-league batters in the near future. Not to dominate them, necessarily, but certainly to compete against them. Which, even that might seem like an optimistic assessment of a pitcher who entered the season absent from every top-100 list and ranked as the Brewers’ 31st-best prospect before the season per Baseball America. But pitcher development is swift — marked not by slowly rising and descending trend lines but jagged and improbable improvements and attrition — and reassessments of pitchers have to be appropriately swift, as well.

The purpose of this post is to serve as a sort of reassessment of Brandon Woodruff. But only accidentally. In reality, the purpose of this post was merely to serve as a sort of annotation to the video footage that appears at the top of it. That footage is from the top of the fourth of Woodruff’s most recent start, against the Pensacola club mentioned previously. After Pensacola shortstop Zach Vincej quickly fell into an 0-2 count, Biloxi catcher Jacob Nottingham called for a fastball on the outside corner. Nottingham settled into a kind of split, not unlike the sort Tony Pena used to assume with the Pirates and Red Sox and probably other teams. Woodruff threw a fastball directly over that outside corner for a called strike three.

What can one pitch reveal about whoever’s thrown it? Well, this particular pitch reveals that, no fewer than one times, Brandon Woodruff has exhibited flawless command of his fastball. That’s an improvement over zero times — anyone would have to agree. And there’s what else this pitch has done — namely, to provide any sort of pretense upon which to contemplate Brandon Woodruff.


NERD Game Scores for Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by sabermetric nobleman Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Cleveland at Washington | 19:05 ET
Bauer (119.0 IP, 100 xFIP-) vs. Scherzer (156.2 IP, 79 xFIP-)
After reaching a high of 92% on July 20, Cleveland’s probability of winning the AL Central has declined to the 75% mark at which it currently rests, per the methodology used at this site. The Detroit Tigers have been largely responsible for that alteration, reducing their deficit in the division to merely 2.5 games. The projections remain optimistic about Cleveland, however, calling for them to expand upon their lead before the end of the season. That likely won’t happen tonight, however: Max Scherzer and the Nationals are favored — above and beyond whatever sort of advantage home field might impart.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Washington Radio.

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FanGraphs Audio: A Study in Nonsense with Jeff Sullivan

Episode 674
Jeff Sullivan is a senior editor at FanGraphs. He’s also the curious little guest on this edition of FanGraphs Audio.

This episode of the program either is or isn’t sponsored by SeatGeek, which site removes both the work and also the hassle from the process of shopping for tickets.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 1 hr 12 min play time.)

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Play

Dan Szymborski FanGraphs Chat – 8/8/16

12:03
Dan Szymborski: Boom.
12:04
Joe Musgrove: How’d you get your writing start? I’m wondering for post-mlb work?
12:05
Dan Szymborski: Whether or not that’s the real Joe Musgrove, I got my writing start arguing with WebTV/AOL Users on usenet, which was kind of the Twitter of the mid-90s.
12:05
Dan Szymborski: That also makes me sound really old. Writing really just takes an opinion and practice.
12:05
Matt: Hi Dan. I missed you.
12:05
Dan Szymborski: Now that sounds like a lie.

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NERD Game Scores for Monday, August 08, 2016

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by sabermetric nobleman Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

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Most Highly Rated Game
San Francisco at Miami | 19:10 ET
Cueto (155.0 IP, 84 xFIP-) vs. Fernandez (131.2 IP, 57 xFIP-)
This brief entry begins and also mostly ends with an examination of the following graph, which depicts the season-long trajectory of the National League clubs which currently possess the top-five probabilities of reaching a divisional series.

chart (2)

Notably, two of the lines here represent clubs that are also clubs involved in this game tonight. The Giants possesses about a 62% chance of qualifying for the NLDS; the Marlins, about a 21% chance. Which is to say: this contest features real consequences for each team. Which is to say: what else can one demand of this game that is simultaneously human and all-too-human?

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: San Francisco Radio or Television.

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NERD Game Scores for Sunday, August 07, 2016

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by sabermetric nobleman Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

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Most Highly Rated Game
Boston at Los Angeles NL | 19:10 ET
Price (150.2 IP, 75 xFIP-) vs. McCarthy (29.1 IP, 90 xFIP-)
On the one hand, here’s a game featuring two clubs, in Boston and Los Angeles, at the very height of postseason uncertainty; on the other, here’s a second game featuring two other clubs, in Houston and Texas, that belong to the same division. The numbers suggest greater certainty regarding their respective postseason odds (with the Rangers qualifying, the Astros not) but their game also possesses greater consequences. There’s no wrong choice is the point. Although, that said: there’s no right choice, is a second and valid point.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Los Angeles NL Television.

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NERD Game Scores for Saturday, August 06, 2016

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by sabermetric nobleman Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Toronto at Kansas City | 19:15 ET
Sanchez (139.1 IP, 81 xFIP-) vs. Duffy (108.2 IP, 81 xFIP-)
Toronto currently possesses almost as little certainty as is mathematically possible regarding their postseason future. Per the methodology used at the site, the Blue Jays hold a 45.1% probability of winning the AL East and 42.0% probability of qualifying for the wild card. As for all of us, their future is dark, uncertain.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Toronto Radio.

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The Best of FanGraphs: August 1-5, 2016

Each week, we publish north of 100 posts on our various blogs. With this post, we hope to highlight 10 to 15 of them. You can read more on it here. The links below are color coded — green for FanGraphs, brown for RotoGraphs, dark red for The Hardball Times and blue for Community Research.

MONDAY
The Dylan Bundy Hype Train Is Finally Boarding by August Fagerstrom
Conveniently, Bundy recorded the best start of his brief career the day after this post.

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NERD Game Scores for Friday, August 05, 2016

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by sabermetric nobleman Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

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Most Highly Rated Game
Boston at Los Angeles NL | 22:10 ET
Wright (137.2 IP, 104 xFIP-) vs. Kazmir (116.1 IP, 95 xFIP-)
This game isn’t the evening’s most highly rated one because Andrew Benintendi might appear in it. Rather, it’s because both the Red Sox and Dodgers find themselves contending with such daunting uncertainty wherein the postseason is concerned. It’s possible that Andrew Benintendi will appear in the game, however. Which provides the reader an opportunity to observe Andrew Benintendi, Hot Prospect, and even to warm one’s hands by Benintendi’s considerable radiant heat.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Los Angeles NL Television.

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The Fringe Five: Baseball’s Most Compelling Fringe Prospects

The Fringe Five is a weekly regular-season exercise, introduced a few years ago by the present author, wherein that same author utilizes regressed stats, scouting reports, and also his own fallible intuition to identify and/or continue monitoring the most compelling fringe prospects in all of baseball.

Central to the exercise, of course, is a definition of the word fringe, a term which possesses different connotations for different sorts of readers. For the purposes of the column this year, a fringe prospect (and therefore one eligible for inclusion in the Five) is any rookie-eligible player at High-A or above who (a) received a future value grade of 45 or less from Dan Farnsworth during the course of his organizational lists and who (b) was omitted from the preseason prospect lists produced by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, and John Sickels, and also who (c) is currently absent from a major-league roster. Players appearing on a midseason list or, otherwise, selected in the first round of the current season’s amateur draft will also be excluded from eligibility.

In the final analysis, the basic idea is this: to recognize those prospects who are perhaps receiving less notoriety than their talents or performance might otherwise warrant.

*****

Greg Allen, OF, Cleveland (Profile)
Two prominent members of the Five, right-handers Junior Guerra and Aaron Wilkerson, have been acquired by the Brewers since that club hired David Stearns as its general manager. Outfielder Greg Allen very nearly became the third. Widely reported to represent one part of Cleveland’s offer to Milwaukee in exchange for catcher Jonathan Lucroy, Allen ultimately remained with Cleveland after the Brewers catcher vetoed the trade.

Allen was recently promoted to Double-A Akron and appears to have adapted quickly to that level. In the 22 plate appearances since last week’s edition of this column, Allen’s recorded a 1:1 walk-to-strikeout ratio plus also a double and two home runs — while making all five of his starts in center field for Akron. He remains second on this season’s haphazardly calculated Fringe Five Scoreboard.

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NERD Game Scores for Thursday, August 04, 2016

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by sabermetric nobleman Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

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Most Highly Rated Game
Boston at Seattle | 22:10 ET
Pomeranz (116.1 IP, 90 xFIP-) vs. Miranda (2.0 IP, 38 xFIP-)
Cuban left-hander Ariel Miranda, signed originally by Baltimore for $725,000 and recently just traded to Seattle for Wade Miley, is expected to record his first major-league start tonight. Though lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen gave the 27-year-old a future-value grade of only 40, he also suggested that said grade didn’t fully account for all the possible outcomes regarding Miranda.

From Longenhagen’s report:

While he only projects as a back-end starter or up-and-down type of pitcher, I think there’s a chance the Mariners have netted themselves an arm that can compete every fifth day rather than one upon which they call merely in emergencies. Cuban prospects have been volatile because, at least in part, of how inconsistently they play in real games leading up to their MiLB/MLB careers. It’s possible Miranda is just now beginning to hit his stride and that the Mariners have caught some lightning in a bottle, even if it’s just an inning-eating, slightly above-replacement kind of lightning.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Boston Radio.

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NERD Game Scores: An Unassailable Brock Stewart Syllogism

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by sabermetric nobleman Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

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Most Highly Rated Game
Los Angeles NL at Colorado | 20:10 ET
Stewart (5.0 IP, 70 xFIP-) vs. Anderson (54.0 IP, 79 xFIP-)
Here’s a syllogism regarding Brock Stewart, who’s scheduled to record his second-ever major-league start tonight:

  • Pitchers who record strong strikeout- and walk-rate differentials (frequently expressed as K-BB%) as minor leaguers tend to experience major-league success.
  • Among all affiliated minor-league pitchers who’ve recorded 100-plus innings, Brock Stewart has produced the top K-BB% this season.
  • Therefore, Brock Stewart is likely to experience major-league success.
  • Also, he recorded an average fastball velocity of 94 mph in his lone major-league appearance this year.
  • That’s not really part of the syllogism, but it’s still relevant to Stewart’s major-league success.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Los Angeles NL Radio.

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FanGraphs Audio: Dave Cameron Trade-Deadline Autopsy

Episode 673
Dave Cameron is the managing editor of FanGraphs. During this edition of FanGraphs Audio, he guides the program’s host through the morass of transactions which occurred at baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline.

This episode of the program either is or isn’t sponsored by SeatGeek, which site removes both the work and also the hassle from the process of shopping for tickets.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 57 min play time.)

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Play

NERD Game Scores: Night of a Thousand or Six Debuts

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by sabermetric nobleman Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Toronto at Houston | 20:10 ET
Dickey (131.1 IP, 111 xFIP-) vs. McCullers (76.1 IP, 74 xFIP-)
It isn’t true, but what if it were, that the sum of Lance McCullers‘ innings-pitched total and xFIP- always equaled 150? Like, if he pitched seven innings tonight, his xFIP- would drop to 67. If he pitched another seven innings in his next start, he’d then have a 60 xFIP-. And then, if he recorded 61 innings in his next-next start, he would sport a negative xFIP-.

In conclusion, what the author has utilized here is a series of counterfactual conditionals, utilizing both the subjunctive and conditional verb moods.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Toronto Radio.

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NERD Game Scores for Monday, August 01, 2016

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by sabermetric nobleman Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Toronto at Houston | 20:10 ET
Stroman (135.1 IP, 83 xFIP-) vs. Undecided (N/A)
Not unlike the major of a college junior who’ll definitely just end up getting an English degree, Houston’s starter for tonight’s game against Toronto is currently listed as “Undecided.” Per the author’s haphazardly constructed algorithm designed to assess the aesthetic pleasure of baseball, however, the Astros’ lack of certainty on the matter seems to matter little. Because, regard: Toronto’s starter is compelling right-hander Marcus Stroman. And because, regard also: Toronto and Houston both possess non-zero odds of winning their respective divisions, qualifying for a wild-card spot, or none of the above.* In the end, of course, “none of the above” is what’s chosen for all of us.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Toronto Radio.

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FanGraphs Audio: Eric Longenhagen’s Fortnightly Program

Episode 672
Lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen is the guest on this edition of the pod, during which he provides scouting reports on prospects — like Philadelphia’s Dylan Cozens and Minnesota’s Zack Granite and the Yankees’ Kyle Higashioka — acquitted well by the most recent iteration of Chris Mitchell’s KATOH projection system; discusses a pair of notable 2017 draft prospects present at Under Armour’s recent prep showcase at Wrigley Field; and talks about the realities of “commanding to both sides of the plate.”

This episode of the program either is or isn’t sponsored by SeatGeek, which site removes both the work and also the hassle from the process of shopping for tickets.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 1 hr 10 min play time.)

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Play

NERD Game Scores for Sunday, July 31, 2016

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by sabermetric nobleman Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

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Most Highly Rated Game
Baltimore at Toronto | 13:07 ET
Tillman (132.1 IP, 103 xFIP-) vs. Sanchez (132.1 IP, 80 xFIP-)
The purpose of this brief entry is twofold: first, to note that Aaron Sanchez continues to produce excellent strikeout and walk numbers relative to his ground-ball rate and, second, to experiment with a graph-making utility created by FanGraphs employee Sean Dolinar. The following visual, which illustrates the former, is the fruit of the latter:

Sanchez 2

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Baltimore Television or Toronto Radio.

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NERD Game Scores for Saturday, July 30, 2016

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by sabermetric nobleman Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

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Most Highly Rated Game
Washington at San Francisco | 16:05 ET
Lopez (4.2 IP, 25 xFIP-) vs. Peavy (104.2 IP, 120 xFIP-)
With the exception of all the “runs” he allowed, right-hander Reynaldo Lopez‘s major-league debut last week was more or less an exercise in best-case scenarios. Regard: he exhibited elite arm speed while recording an equally elite strikeout- and walk-rate differential. He also neutralized left-handers completely by means of his curveball. Regard, more: of the 20 curves he threw to them, 14 were strikes (70%) and zero were put into play.

Here’s an example of that curveball and those lefties:

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: San Francisco Radio or Television.

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