Daily Notes: Featuring an Idle Thought on Imperfection

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

1. An Idle Thought on Imperfection
2. Today’s Notable Games (Including MLB.TV Free Game)
3. Today’s Game Odds, Translated into Winning Percentages

An Idle Thought on Imperfection
Inspecting Tuesday’s single-game xFIP leaderboard (among starting pitchers only) — a thing which is now possible after FanGraphs CEO and star of every nightmare David Appelman added a “Yesterday” split to the leaderboards here at the site — one is not surprised, in the wake of his 14-strikeout effort against Houston, to find Yu Darvish‘s name at the top.

One is also compelled to note in how many ways Darvish’s game was imperfect — an imperfection that is amplified, undoubtedly, for its proximity to perfection.

First, here’s the table in question:

Name Team IP xFIP
Yu Darvish Rangers 8.2 0.02
Marco Estrada Brewers 5.0 1.80
Hyun-Jin Ryu Dodgers 6.1 1.99
Hisashi Iwakuma Mariners 6.0 2.11
Madison Bumgarner Giants 8.0 2.89
Trevor Cahill Diamondbacks 5.2 2.98
David Price Rays 6.0 3.48
Lucas Harrell Astros 6.0 3.76
R.A. Dickey Blue Jays 6.0 4.48
Jorge de la Rosa Rockies 4.1 4.53
Jaime Garcia Cardinals 5.2 4.57
Justin Masterson Indians 6.0 4.85
Jason Hammel Orioles 6.0 5.13
Jarrod Parker Athletics 5.0 6.65

One already knows that Darvish came within one out of a perfect game, and one hit of a no-hitter. After being relieved by Michael Kirkman in the wake of Marwin Gonzalez‘ single, he also (i.e. Darvish) came just an out shy of a complete-game shutout. Of some amusement to the sort of nerd who is reading these words is also how xFIP — an otherwise entirely innocent ERA estimator — compounds the sense of imperfection by suggesting that Darvish’s line would typically be the sort to concede not zero, but 0.02, runs. “You were very good,” says xFIP (impossible, of course, it being inanimate). “But perfect? Not so much.”

It is too convenient, given Darvish’s origins, that the author was recently introduced to the concept of wabi-sabi. So far as I understand it — and it’s very possible that I don’t understand it — wabi-sabi is a popular aesthetic point-of-view in Japan, by the terms of which an object might be considered beautiful because it is flawed, or at least by the way in which it is flawed.

I’ve witnessed enough foolish romanticization and willful misunderstanding of “exotic” Eastern concepts to recognize that I’m unqualified to discuss wabi-sabi at length. But even the likely bastardized version I’ve submitted here is compelling on its own terms, I think.

Perfect games are inherently interesting for two reasons. First, is because a pitcher is always trying to get every batter out, anyway. When he succeeds in actually doing that, it represents an instance of one player having exerted his will completely on a group of others. Second, of course, is because of how infrequent perfect games are. There’ve been only, what, 23 of them ever in the majors? That’s a small fraction of the games ever to have been played. Perfect games are rare, and rare things and events are generally attractive for their rare-ness.

Ultimately, though, those reasons have no relation to the spectator’s own personal experience of the event, or relationship with it — which are ultimately the terms on which one is likely to evaluate the “beauty” of an event or object. In the way that, according to Tolstoy, unhappy families are unhappy in their own way, so are imperfect events or objects imperfect in their own way. This makes them even more rare, really, than their perfect counterparts.

“Why are you even talking about this?” is a reasonable question for the reader to ask right now. “I don’t precisely know,” is the most reasonable answer. One other possible answer, though, is probably how an event like this — where one, like Darvish, has come very close to scaling the heights of perfection, but failed — seems to demand commentary. Perfection speaks for itself, perhaps, whereas failure needs to be couched within a narrative, such that the spectator can become comfortable with its otherwise potentially painful or disappointing implications. Because failure is more of the rule, anyway, than success — and failures, like Darvish’s, which occur on a large stage, are the ones to which we look for cues on how to make our own failures more palatable. That’s probably why I, personally, am talking about this.

Today’s Notable Games (Including MLB.TV Free Game)
Detroit at Minnesota | 16:10 ET ***MLB.TV Free Game***
All 31 writers who contributed to the present site’s staff predictions for 2013 chose the Tigers as the probable winner of the AL Central. That same club finished with the highest cumulative projected win total by the methodology used in our positional power rankings. With regard to this game in particular, Anibal Sanchez (179.0 IP, 4.05 ERA, 2.7 WAR projected line, per Steamer) faces Kevin Correia (130.0 IP, 4.88 ERA, 1.1 WAR).

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Detroit Radio.

San Diego at New York NL | 19:10 ET
In 10 starts last season, Mets right-hander Matt Harvey (147.0 IP, 3.91 ERA, 2.4 WAR projected line, per Steamer) struck out nearly 29% of the batters he faced. He also finished withing the top-10 of this spring’s SCOUT pitching leaderboard — an accomplishment that translated into success for last spring’s pitching leaders. He faces Clayton Richard (189.0 IP, 3.89 ERA, 2.8 WAR).

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: New York NL Television.

Colorado at Milwaukee | 19:10 ET
Young and hard-throwing Juan Nicasio (118.0 IP, 4.26 ERA, 1.9 WAR projected line, per Steamer) faces even younger and more hard-throwing Wily Peralta (95.0 IP, 4.56 ERA, 1.0 WAR).

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Milwaukee Radio.

Today’s Game Odds, Translated into Winning Percentages
Here — for purposes entirely of entertainment and not for gambling, which is a Scourge of Propriety — are all of Tuesday’s games with moneyline odds (from relatively “sharp” sportsbook Pinnacle Sports) translated into projected winning percentages (and adjusted to account for the vigorish).

Games listed in Pacific Time for reasons that are unclear even to the author and presented in order, first, of National League and then American League and, finally, then interleague play.

Game Teams Starters Line Win%
4:05 PM Miami Marlins Kevin Slowey 3.36 29.2%
PT Washington Nationals Gio Gonzalez 1.39 70.8%
4:05 PM Chicago Cubs Edwin Jackson 2.20 44.6%
PT Pittsburgh Pirates Wandy Rodriguez 1.77 55.4%
4:10 PM San Diego Padres Clayton Richard 2.28 43.0%
PT New York Mets Matt Harvey 1.72 57.0%
4:10 PM Philadelphia Phillies Roy Halladay 2.15 45.6%
PT Atlanta Braves Paul Maholm 1.80 54.4%
5:10 PM Colorado Rockies Juan Nicasio 2.15 45.6%
PT Milwaukee Brewers Wily Peralta 1.80 54.4%
6:40 PM St. Louis Cardinals Lance Lynn 2.04 48.0%
PT Arizona Diamondbacks Brandon McCarthy 1.89 52.0%
7:10 PM San Francisco Giants Tim Lincecum 2.16 45.4%
PT Los Angeles Dodgers Josh Beckett 1.79 54.6%
11:10 AM Kansas City Royals Ervin Santana 2.32 42.3%
PT Chicago White Sox Jake Peavy 1.70 57.7%
11:10 AM Texas Rangers Alexi Ogando 1.56 63.0%
PT Houston Astros Philip Humber 2.65 37.0%
1:10 PM Detroit Tigers Anibal Sanchez 1.67 58.6%
PT Minnesota Twins Kevin Correia 2.37 41.4%
4:05 PM Cleveland Indians Ubaldo Jimenez 2.61 37.6%
PT Toronto Blue Jays Brandon Morrow 1.57 62.4%
4:05 PM Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz 2.04 48.0%
PT New York Yankees Hiroki Kuroda 1.89 52.0%
4:10 PM Baltimore Orioles Wei-Yin Chen 2.27 43.2%
PT Tampa Bay Rays Jeremy Hellickson 1.73 56.8%
7:05 PM Seattle Mariners Joe Saunders 2.27 43.2%
PT Oakland Athletics Tommy Milone 1.73 56.8%
4:10 PM LAA Angels C.J. Wilson 2.15 45.6%
PT Cincinnati Reds Mat Latos 1.80 54.4%

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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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