Daily Notes, Including the Most Boring GIF of All Time

Table of Contents

Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of the Daily Notes.

1. The Standings, and How Teams Stand According to Them
2. The Corey Kluber Society, Its Current Status
3. How 1987 Baseball Card Values Compared to Actual Player Value
4.Today’s MLB.TV Free Game
5. Today’s Complete Schedule

The Standings, and How Teams Stand According to Them

There are a dozenish contests remaining in the regular season, and fourteen teams with legitimate playoff aspirations, several of them owing to the Texas Rangers. According to FanGraphs’ very own playoff odds, the NL Wild Card is and has been resolved, and the Rays, Indians and Rangers are the leading contenders to have their playoff hopes determined by a single game.

But good teams are boring, and besides, they have a whole month to themselves, called “October.” The far more interesting race right now is the one at the bottom, as teams vie for the coveted top-10 draft pick, and the consecrated draft protection such picks provide teams interested in signing their very own Kyle Lohse. The current standings (asterisk denotes clinched):

Team Record GB
Houston* 51-99 (18.5)
Miami* 55-95 (14.5)
Chicago (A) 59-91 (10.5)
Chicago (N) 63-87 (6.5)
Minnesota 64-85 (5)
Seattle 66-84 (3.5)
Milwaukee 66-83 (3)
New York Mets 67-82 (2)
Toronto 68-81 (1)
Colorado 69-82 -
San Francisco 69-81 0.5
San Diego 69-80 1
Philadelphia 70-80 1.5
Los Angeles (A) 73-77 4.5
Arizona 76-73 8

A summation of the current state of baseball: the San Diego Padres, eleven games below .500, hold the median record in the National League.

The Corey Kluber Society, Its Current Status

The Corey Kluber Society’s planned meeting today has been postponed until Sunday, September 22. Corey Kluber will continue to exist and act as according to his own nature, but appreciation of his talents must be done in private, and preferably in the company of someone trained in first aid and CPR. We apologize for an inconvenience this may have caused.

How 1987 Baseball Card Values Compared to Actual Player Value

It is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1987 baseball card set, perhaps the finest year in the junk wax era. Not only were the sets aesthetically appealing, between the classic woodgrain of Topps, the edgy black-bordered Donruss, and the modern fading-blue stripes of Fleer, the packs of 1987 cards hid a surprising wealth of rookie talent. The set contained two Hall of Famers (Larkin, Maddux soon), three who would have made it if not for steroids (Palmeiro, McGwire, Bonds) and several other players who are in the upper echelon of the Hall of Very Good (Kevin Brown, Will Clark, David Cone, Chuck Finley).

Of course, all baseball cards are now worthless, and are shipped en masse to Greenland for use in barrel fires and for feeding caribou. But at the time, many of these cards were trophies for the hypothetical elementary-school child. So the question is: how did the value of the cards match up with the value of the players on them?

Because (I am told) GIFs rake in the page views, and because ten graphs seemed excessive, I created an animation of the scatterplots of every rookie in the 1987 Donruss set. The X-axis represents the player’s career WAR, and the Y-axis represents the value of the card (in mint condition) in December of the given year, according to Beckett Baseball Card Monthly.


You may look at these graphs and think, “Those are quite poorly done!” You may also be thinking, “It seems unfair to judge the value of a card based on their past future deeds. I mean, Pete Incaviglia hit 30 home runs his rookie season. How could America not love him?” This is true. For the latter readers I present a second set of graphs, this time comparing card value to the value of the player at that point, and for the first five years post-1987.


Both graphs, the reader will quickly determine, look like a blob of blue dots, though a few outliers are worthy of mention. Fans couldn’t know that Bo Jackson would stop being Bo Jackson, but it turns out that much of his value derived from hype and that one home run. Ruben Sierra also skews the graph with his post-Texas meltdown.

It turns out, perhaps unsurprisingly, that baseball card values follow an exponential trendline rather than the usual linear variety. Economically speaking, this is because demand is stupid, and people only want the best of anything. Those players seen as being the “greatest” of the year (and that title changed hands regularly over the first fifteen years) saw prices well above what you would expect, while players below (like poor Chuck Finley) were dramatically underpriced.

Here is a graph of the R-squared values for both sets of graphs, in non-animated form:


Even at the time, it took four years of data for the values of the baseball cards to approximate any kind of reliability in terms of player value. This shouldn’t be surprising, considering that in 1987 the game-winning RBI still existed. Still, of the five players with Hall-worthy numbers, only one, Mark McGwire, had a rookie card in 1987 as valuable as Dave Magadan. Barry Bonds, that little dot on the far right ruining all the correlations: he led the way with 8.6 WAR in 1987. His card was worth $0.45.

Today’s MLB.TV Free Game

Seattle at Detroit | 19:08 ET

There are important baseball games taking place today, contests between talented and competitive teams with much at stake. There is also this game. Brandon Maurer (72.2 IP, 133 FIP-, -0.3 WAR) symbolizes much of what has gone wrong for the Mariners this season, jumping straight from AA to the team’s starting rotation out of spring, mostly because it is against the rules not to have a starting pitcher. Instead of spending in the year in AAA Tacoma, lazing about and “developing”, Maurer has bounced between the rotation and bullpen to keep the team pertinent, which he failed to do and which also proved impossible.

Starting against him is Anibal Sanchez, who is better than Brandon Maurer.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: the laughter of a small child, or, if one’s team is included in the aforementioned standings, autotuned Carl Sagan singing about our relatively miniscule presence in the universe.

There are many other games worth your consideration, almost too many to list. But it would be criminal for me to neglect to mention Kansas City Royals starter Yordano Ventura, whose fastball and weight might conceivably be compared to wasps. It would be easily to imagine a variation on today’s notes comprised solely of previewing Ventura’s prospective achievements, if I had any prospecting expertise whatsoever.

Today’s Complete Schedule

Here’s the complete schedule for all of today’s games, with our very proprietary watchability (NERD) scores for each one.

Due to the surfeit of NotGraphs writers that will inhabit this space over the course of the week, I will offer the reader a respite from hilarity and provide genuine NERD scores for today’s slate of games. Note, however, the spirit of today’s notes, and the Seattle fandom that may or may not form the root of the present author’s prejudices, or sense of rebellion. As such, team and game scores for NERD today will reflect the draft pick race, and not the playoff race to which you are already surely accustomed. Tread warily.

Away SP Tm. Gm. Tm. SP Home Time
Mike Minor ATL 8 0 1 0 5 WAS Dan Haren 13:05
Freddy Garcia ATL 4 0 0 0 7 WAS Tanner Roark 19:05
Brian Flynn MIA 2 0 5 7 5 PHI Roy Halladay 19:05
Eric Stults SD 4 9 6 0 3 PIT Jeff Locke 19:05
Andy Pettitte NYY 5 1 7 9 9 TOR R.A. Dickey 19:07
Brandon Maurer SEA 4 6 4 0 9 DET Anibal Sanchez 19:10
Scott Feldman BAL 3 0 0 0 3 BOS Ryan Dempster 19:10
Yusmeiro Petit SF 7 10 10 8 6 NYM Zack Wheeler 19:10
Alexi Ogando TEX 5 0 0 0 4 TBR Jeremy Hellickson 19:10
Jef Samadzija CHC 7 2 7 8 7 MIL Marco Estrada 20:10
Mike Leake CIN 4 0 0 0 3 HOU Jordan Lyles 20:10
Corey Kluber CLE 10 0 1 0 8 KCR Yordano Ventura 20:10
Mike Pelfrey MIN 1 3 2 0 5 CHA Jose Quintana 20:10
Joe Kelly STL 4 0 6 10 4 COL Juan Nicasio 20:40
Zack Greinke LAD 7 0 1 1 9 ARI Patrick Corbin 21:40
Garrett Richards LAA 6 2 1 0 9 OAK Sonny Gray 22:05

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Patrick Dubuque writes for NotGraphs and The Hardball Times, and he served as former Bill Spaceman Lee Visiting Professor for Baseball Exploration at Pitchers & Poets. Follow him on Twitter @euqubud.

20 Responses to “Daily Notes, Including the Most Boring GIF of All Time”

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  1. Yaya Pigwius says:

    Who would have thought that a September Braves/Nats doubleheader would get a combined NERD of 1?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. cass says:

    This is completely unfair. The Nationals are extreme longshots for the playoff race and are not at all in contention for the draft pick race. Their games rank low by either measure.

    I ask, nay demand, that we get a Hail Mary adjusted NERD list that rewards hope in miracles. Rank teams by playoff odds in reverse order for all teams above 0%. So the team with a playoff chance as close to 0% as possible but not actually 0% would be ranked highest.

    If this is not done, I will know that the *Graphs writers are biased against my favorite team.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Iron says:

      I’m not a fan of the September version of NERD either way. Pennant races are exciting and awesome. I can definitely see influencing the watchability score up for pennant races. However, if you actually like watching baseball, a great team that has already clinched is pretty damn watchable.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dan Ugglas Forearm says:

      Also, the Braves, Dodgers, Cardinals, Pirates, and Reds are all competing for the best record in the NL. The Braves are 52-22 at home. There is definitely incentive to win the best record in the NL for all of the teams. To say they’re playing for nothing is wrong.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • cass says:

        They also might think about the fact that they’ve destroyed the Nats this year and that they would much rather face the Nats in the playoffs than the Reds. So if they want to take it easy the next three days, it wouldn’t hurt them. Throw a few meatballs here and there and they’ll be easing their path to the World Series.

        OK, this is only what I hope they are thinking…

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Iron says:

        A watchability scale that fails to differentiate a Dodgers(0) vs Braves(0) game and an Astros(0) vs Marlins(0) game simply because all four teams’ playoff fate is decided ignores most of what makes a game interesting and is a poorly designed scale.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Big Bucks Bonilla says:

    …You’re not Cistulli

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. olerudshelmet says:

    If that title is not truth in advertising, I don’t know what is.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    One can only hope Mississippi Matt Smith will do a daily notes with all starting pitcher names Curacao-ified.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • tz says:

      Here are the matchups sans NERD scores:

      Mimi Mijorius vs. Dawn Haarenensley
      Frddyly Garcijaius vs. Tanta Rowrkens
      Branickson Flyjnnens vs. Roelton Alladaajy
      Erickson Schtltjschius vs. Jeje Jockens
      Andelton Pewtttteens vs. RAwley Dickens
      Brandelton Murjerens vs. Wanibally Schaanchez
      Schcottley Fewlmaan vs. Ryanjicksonens Dmpschter
      Yuschmeiroenley Wetits vs. Zaza Wwheeeer
      Alexelton Oandjoius vs. Jerjemyly Hellickschoens
      Jeje Schaamadjzja vs. Mama Eschtradjaens
      Mike Leake vs. Jodjan Lylyleesch
      Cocoa Luwber vs. Yoyo Ventrawius
      Mike Pelfrey vs. Josejley Quintaaa
      Joely Keensly vs. Juwnickson Nicaschio
      Zack Greinke vs. Patrickickson Cowbinius
      Gaga Richwadsch vs. Schonnyjly Gaay

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mississippi Matt Smith says:

      I heart you people. Especially you, Wewe-Beejrly. But we are called ever onward, to broader horizons of bad humor.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Bip says:

    It’s a good day for the dregs of the NL West. Team NERD scores of 9, 10 and 10 for San Diego, Colorado and San Francisco respectively. Who knew that behind the distraction cacophony of the Dodgers’ boring domination there was a lively and dramatic race… to the bottom?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. eggy mule says:

    Giants-Mets deserves that 10. Seinfeld will be in the SNY booth

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Eric says:

    Love that the Giants-Mets game gets a 10. Not only is it important in terms of the draft-pick race, but it’s interesting that both starters were once highly regarded pitching prospects for the other team, traded for star offensive players in an attempt to get to the playoffs.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. John says:

    The Pettitte v Dickey game may take around 12 hours as all the players get bored waiting around for the ball to get to the plate.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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