How MLB Teams Got Their Names: NL Central

The K Zone News

A Series by Maddie Marriott and Mike Duffy

Installment #3 by Maddie Marriott

January 24th, 2019

Your favorite series is back and better than ever with its third installment.  If you’re new to this series, check out the first two installments here: AL West and AL Central. In this series, we take a look at what makes a team who they are: their name.  Today we’ll be checking out the five teams in the NL Central Division: The Chicago Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the St. Louis Cardinals.

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The Chicago Cubs

The organization now known as the Cubs started out as the Chicago White Stockings.  Interestingly enough, there is no relationship between this team and the current White Sox- today’s White Sox took the name after this organization dropped it in 1889.  I’ve also read that the team wore shoes of “white goatskin,” which doesn’t really scream “baseball uniform” to me, but I guess the late 1800s was a weird time for fashion, as evidenced by the huge dresses and weird hats.  Anyway, that name stuck until 1889, when the team became known as the Colts due to the young ages of their players.  They were called the Colts until 1897, when they became known as the Orphans for a short time after Cap Ansen left the team, leaving them without a manager.

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The Cubs that Chicago fans know and love were known by that name starting in 1902.  The name was first used by a newspaper journalist, again the result of the youth of the team, as well as their new manager, Frank Selee.  Some still used their previous names, but the short and sweet “Cubs” caught on rather quickly, and by 1907, it was the official name of the team.

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The Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati teams have been known as the Red Stockings since professional baseball originated in the city in 1869.  We all know how baseball players feel about their socks, so I bet you can guess where this name came from.  This specific Red Stockings organization formed in 1882, and they quickly became known as the Reds, the shortened name being placed on uniforms by 1911.

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The Reds changed things up for a while in the 1950s to make sure they wouldn’t be associated with Communism.  During a time when everyone thought everyone else was a secret Communist thanks to Senator McCarthy of Wisconsin, Cincinnati took steps to ensure that baseball, the most American of activities, would not come under any suspicion from the government.  From 1953 to 1961, Cincinnati’s baseball team was known as the Redlegs, a small but important distinction. Interestingly enough, the team kept the large “C’ in their logo during the so-called Red Scare until 1955, which, although seemingly inconsequential now, would have probably been enough to arouse suspicion at the time.

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The Milwaukee Brewers

The franchise now known as the Brewers was born in Seattle as the Pilots in 1969.  The Pilots derived their name from Seattle’s history with William Boeing, aviation pioneer who founded the Boeing Company in 1916.  The Boeing Airplane Company was soon a staple of the Pacific Northwest, including the city of Seattle, and came to dominate industry in the region.

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After a single unsuccessful season in Seattle, the team came under new ownership and moved to Milwaukee. Breweries were a big deal in Milwaukee at the time, so like many other teams, the Brewers were named after their new city’s leading industry.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates’ name actually stems from a battle of the Pennsylvania teams, at the time known as the Pittsburgh Alleghenys (I know, I don’t like that spelling either) and the Philadelphia Athletics.  For those of the readers that are not great with geography, Pittsburgh’s original name, the Alleghenys, is a reference to their stadium’s location in what was then known as Allegheny City and the Allegheny River that runs through Western Pennsylvania.

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After the 1890 season when a few Alleghenys left the team to join a Pittsburgh franchise in a different league, the team signed several players from their rival, the Philadelphia Athletics.  The Athletics were not happy, to say the least, referring to the Alleghenys actions as “piratical.” The nickname stuck and many referred to the team as the “Pirates” starting during the 1891 season.  By the time they reached their first World Series in 1903, they were formally known by the Pirates, which has a much nicer ring to it than Alleghenys.

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The St. Louis Cardinals

If I had a dollar for every time socks showed up in one of the articles in this series, I’d have enough money to buy my own franchise and give it a more creative name.  Professional baseball started out in St. Louis as the Brown Stockings, named after their brown socks.  The impeccably named Brown Stockings had a rough year in 1898, going 39-111 and losing their stadium to a fire.  (Side note: their owner was also kidnapped for outstanding debts, but I think that’s a story for another time.) Looking for a fresh start, they went with the Perfectos.  Shoot for the stars, I guess.

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Under new ownership, the team was looking for yet another rebrand since Perfectos was, as Aimee Levitt put it, “sort of lame.” The official story of the Cardinals’ name says that a reporter, William McHale, overheard a woman in the stands at one of the Perfectos’ games commenting on the beautiful “cardinal” shade of the players’ uniforms.  He used that name in his column, and the city approved.  The name was widely used by the players and fans alike by the end of the 1900 season.  The bird in the logo was not adopted until the 1920s.

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If you like this series and want to see more installments, let us know in the comments or on any of our social media accounts.  You can follow The K Zone News on Twitter here, or on Instagram here.

If you want to read more of my writing, my articles about Sixto Sánchez, Odúbel Herrera, and The 2018 NL Cy Young Race are linked here.  Check out all of the great content the K Zone News has to offer in the Article Index. The links to the first two articles in this series are in the first paragraph of this article and can also be found in the Article Index.

All credit for images goes to original owners.

Sources:

How the Cubs Got Their Name

http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/chc/history/timeline.jsp

How Each MLB Team Got Its Name (National League)

http://www.espn.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/56756/tbt-when-the-reds-became-redlegs

http://www.historylink.org/File/8023

The Only Major League Baseball Team to Go Bankrupt: The Story of the Seattle Pilots

https://www.post-gazette.com/sports/pirates/2013/10/03/Let-s-Learn-From-the-Past-How-the-Pirates-got-their-name/stories/201310030085

https://www.mlb.com/cardinals/history/timeline

https://www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2011/10/21/ever-wonder-how-the-cardinals-got-their-name

 

 

How MLB Teams Got Their Names: AL Central

The K Zone

A Series by Maddie Marriott and Mike Duffy

Installment #2 by Maddie Marriott

January 9, 2019

Welcome back to your favorite series: How MLB Teams Got Their Names! (*crowd roars*) If you haven’t checked out our first article about the AL West, you can read it here. This series explores the origins of one of a team’s most important distinctions: its name. Today we’ll be looking at…drum roll please…the AL Central! We’ll look at the origins of the names of the Cleveland Indians, the Detroit Tigers, the Chicago White Sox, the Kansas City Royals, and the Minnesota Twins.

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The Cleveland Indians

Probably the most controversial of the MLB names, “Indians” has an interesting and somewhat unclear history.  The team joined the AL in 1901, originally known as the Bluebirds, but often shortened to the Blues, for their all-blue uniforms. The players were certainly not fans of this name and after one season they were renamed the Bronchos, a less common spelling of Broncos, after the wild horse.  That name only lasted a year, as  the team was called the “Naps” from 1903-1914 after Napoleon Lajoie, a player-manager for the team. After Lajoie left Cleveland for Philadelphia, the organization wanted a new name.

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There is some debate over the true reason behind Cleveland choosing the name “Indians.” They claim it was chosen to honor Louis Sockalexis, the first recognized Native American in the league. Sockalexis played for the Cleveland Spiders from 1897-1899. Unrelated but interesting fact, the 1899 Cleveland Spiders were one of the worst teams, if not the worst, in MLB history, with an abysmal record of 20-134.

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After taking a look at the way other players talked about Sockalexis, I have some doubts the name had anything to do with honoring him. His teammate and Cleveland Hall of Fame player Jesse Burkett once said “I haven’t hit over .100 since he [Sockalexis] joined the team […] Wait till I strike my gait and I will make him go back to the woods and look for a few scalps.” There are lots of other quotes like that one and general stories about the racism Sockalexis endured in this article, also linked at the bottom of this page.

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Another way to interpret the name choice of the team is not as nice to think about, but in my opinion, the more likely scenario. The name “Indians” provided Cleveland with an opportunity to capitalize on countless race-based jokes, cliches, and images that would promote the team. This is certainly not the only questionable team name in major league sports (I’m looking at you, Redskins). I’ll let you decide for yourselves which is the real reason behind the name, and if it’s time for Cleveland to switch things up.

The Detroit Tigers

Okay, I’m just gonna say it: Major League Baseball is weirdly obsessed with socks. The fact that this article has multiple stories about socks is just strange. Anyway, we’ll get to the first of many sock references in this series in a minute. Detroit’s MLB legacy began in 1881 with the Detroit Wolverines. Some dispute that this name came specifically from the University of Michigan Wolverines name, but it certainly comes from Michigan’s nickname as “The Wolverine State.” The Wolverines remained until 1888 when they were forced to disband due to the low population of Detroit at the time.

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Surprise! Professional baseball is back for good in Detroit in 1896. There are two stories describing how the name “Tigers” came to be, and only one has to do with socks. The first story is unofficial, but some believe the name comes from the black and orange (or brown) stockings the team wore. I found some conflicting information about this story, as the name was penned in 1896, but the Tigers didn’t officially wear black and orange socks until the 1920s. You know what they say: Which came first, the team name or the matching socks?

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The official story of the Tigers team name comes from the Civil War. The name was chosen to honor the Detroit Light Guard, a military group said to have fought with the “ferocity of the jungle beast.” The Light Guard was held in high esteem in the city of Detroit and some sources confirm the blue color of their uniforms comes from the color of the Union uniform.

The Chicago White Sox

The organization that would come to be known as the White Sox started out as the Sioux City Cornhuskers in Iowa in 1894. Iowa is the corn capital of the US, so that name basically explains itself.

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After one year, the team was sold and moved to St. Paul, where they became known as the St. Paul Saints. Information on this team is particularly difficult to find because of the St. Paul Saints organization that still exists today, but all evidence seems to point to the fact that the team was simply named after the city.

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The team moved to Chicago in 1900 and took on the name “White Stockings” after, you guessed it, their classic white stockings. The name officially became “White Sox” in 1904, and has remained the same ever since. Apparently, it was common slang in the early 1900s to substitute “x” for “cks.”

The Kansas City Royals

If you read the last article in this series about the AL West, you’ll remember that the Athletics made a brief stop in Kansas City before moving out to Oakland after the 1967 season. MLB gave one of the four expansion teams set to begin play in 1969 to the newly vacant Kansas City.

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The origin you’re probably thinking for the team name is incorrect, because the Royals are named after good old-fashioned cows. The American Royal was a livestock show held yearly in Missouri beginning in 1899. This name was chosen to honor the enormous livestock industry that powered Missouri at the time after it was submitted in a name-the-team contest.

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The Minnesota Twins

The Twins were born out of the already existent Washington Senators in 1961. Eagle-eyed readers might notice that the same can be said for the Texas Rangers from my previous article. This move from Washington to Minneapolis occurred ten years before the next incarnation of the Senators team moved out of D.C. and to Arlington. I’ll admit, as a Phillies fan, it brings me an unreasonable amount of happiness knowing Washington D.C. had two failed franchises in ten years, even if it was almost sixty years ago.

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The Twins are named after Minneapolis and St. Paul, the “twin cities” in Upper Midwest Minnesota. This name gives a sense of identity to fans from St. Paul, even though their city didn’t make it in the team’s name.

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If you want us to continue this series, let us know in the comments or on any of our social media accounts. Once again, the first installment is linked here. You can find The K Zone on Twitter or on Instagram.

If you want to check out some more of my writing, my articles about Sixto Sánchez, Odúbel Herrera, and the 2018 NL Cy Young Race are all linked here.  Check out all of The K Zone’s great content in the Article Index.

All credit for images goes to original owners.

Sources:

https://www.cleveland.com/tribe/index.ssf/2018/01/why_are_the_cleveland_indians_1.html

http://sportsecyclopedia.com/nl/clev99/spiders.html

https://mlb.nbcsports.com/2014/03/18/the-cleveland-indians-louis-sockalexis-and-the-name/

Detroit Tigers: Why Are the Tigers the Tigers?

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Chicago-White-Sox

http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/kc/history/timeline.jsp

https://www.npr.org/2014/10/21/357859480/don-t-let-history-of-kansas-city-royals-name-steer-you-wrong

https://www.mlb.com/twins/history/timeline-1960s

 

How MLB Teams Got Their Names: AL West

The K Zone News

A Series by Mike Duffy and Maddie Marriott

Installment #1 by Maddie Marriott

January 2nd, 2019

A team’s name is a vital part of its identity. The name shapes almost everything about the team’s image, including merchandise, uniforms, and their beloved mascot. While names can share a similar importance across the league, how each team got its name is quite different. Whether it’s from the origin of their players or the staple of the city, the origin of each MLB team’s name is uniquely interesting.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the origin of the names of AL West teams: The Houston Astros, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Oakland Athletics, the Seattle Mariners, and the Texas Rangers.

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The Houston Astros

Houston’s baseball team was originally called the Colt .45’s when they were founded as an expansion team in 1962. This name came about after the owners of the new team hosted a name-the-team competition that allowed people of the city to submit their own ideas for the name of the first Texas baseball team. Colt .45, a gun used in the fight for the American West, won out because of its historical significance to the city. William Neder, the man who submitted the winning name, wrote, “The Colt .45 won the west and we will win the National League.”

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The Colt .45’s changed their name to the Astros in 1965 to represent the huge aeronautics and space industry in the city. Houston, at the time called Space City U.S.A., was the center of aeronautics activity in the United States. The spring training headquarters for the team was even located at the Cape Kennedy Launching Pad. Furthermore, the front office hoped that the name change would get rid of the stigma that Texas was a land of “cowboys and Indians” and help bring the team and the city into the 20th century.

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The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The history of the “Los Angeles” team name is…complicated to say the least.  The name “Angels” came from the city’s former Pacific Coast League (PCL) team. “Angels” has stuck as the team name, but the city name in front (and behind) has changed multiple times. They started out playing in Los Angeles, sharing a stadium with the Dodgers, also from Los Angeles. The team moved out of that stadium and into Anaheim Stadium in 1966. They then appropriately changed their name to the California Angels. Thirty years later, the team was renamed the Anaheim Angels after the city put in an additional thirty million dollars to the renovation of their stadium.

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Unfortunately, the name changes didn’t end there. In 2003, The Walt Disney corporation sold the Angels to Arte Moreno. Two years later, in 2005, it was announced that the team would be renamed “The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.” Yep, that’s two cities in there. People everywhere were confused, and the people of both Anaheim and Los Angeles were upset.  Moreno claimed the name change was part of a marketing plan to extend the Angels’ fanbase into urban Los Angeles. The people of Anaheim felt cheated, especially since the city had paid for the stadium about a decade earlier. The city of Anaheim sued with the support of Los Angeles to keep the name from changing, but eventually lost the case, and the mouthful of a name has remained ever since.

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The Oakland Athletics

The Oakland Athletics started out in 1901 as the Philadelphia Athletics. They were named after the Athletic Baseball Club of Philadelphia, a local organization founded in 1859. The Athletics remained in Philadelphia until 1954 when they moved to Kansas City.  Just thirteen years later, in 1968, the club moved to Oakland. The name “Athletics” is often shortened to “A’s” which can be found on much of the team’s merchandise and some of their uniforms. The name has been called the “oldest name in baseball.”

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The Seattle Mariners

The Mariners were actually not the first Seattle-based baseball team. The Seattle Pilots were formed in 1968, but after one unsuccessful season, the owners sold the team to a Milwaukee car dealer who moved the team to his home town. After the state’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against the league for failing to field a team in Seattle as promised, new teams were created in Seattle and Toronto.

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The Seattle Mariners were created as an expansion team in 1977. Once again, a name-the-team contest was held to pick a name for the team. The name “Mariners” was submitted by multiple fans, the most compelling argument being, “I’ve selected Mariners because of the natural association between the sea and Seattle and her people, who have been challenged and rewarded by it.”

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The Texas Rangers

The organization originally began as the Washington (D.C.) Senators in 1961. After a noticeable lack of success in the number of seasons after their creation, low attendance and therefore, low revenue, contributed to poor play. The team relocated to Arlington, Texas after the 1971 season.

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After the move, the team needed a new name. “Rangers” was chosen by team owner Robert Short, honoring the Texas Rangers Division, a Texas-born law enforcement agency founded in 1823. The agency was originally founded to track down and punish a band of Native Americans, but evolved into the state police force.

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If you want The K Zone to continue this series, let us know in the comments or on any of our social media platforms. You can follow us here on Twitter, or here on Instagram.

If you want to check out more of my writing, click here to find my articles about the 2018 NL Cy Young Race, Sixto Sánchez, and Odubel Herrera.  You can check out all of the content on the K Zone here.

All credit for images goes to original owners.

Sources:

https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/xoh08

https://astrostalk.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/whats-in-the-astros-name/

https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/the-absurd-history-of-the-los-angeles-angels-of-anaheim/

http://www.phillyvintagebaseball.org/about/

Seattle Mariners Team History

http://www.historylink.org/File/9560

https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/met04

 

 

 

The NL Cy Young Race: Contenders, Chances, and Predictions

The K Zone

by Maddie Marriott

August 27th, 2018

As the 2018 Major League Baseball season begins to wind down, the race for the coveted Cy Young Award is just heating up.  Named after Cy Young, the winningest pitcher of all time, the award is meant to honor the best pitcher in both the American and National Leagues at the conclusion of each season.  This year’s National League race is just as competitive as ever, with four standout candidates based on several statistical categories: Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets, Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals, Aaron Nola of the Philadelphia Phillies, and Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

 What makes this award so fascinating and hotly debated is the subjectivity of the term “best pitcher.” There are numerous factors that determine if a pitcher should be considered for this award, and what one voter thinks is important may be different than the next.  The winner of the award is voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, and has been since the award’s introduction in 1956 by then commissioner Ford Frick.  For the first ten years, the award was only given to one pitcher in the league, but was changed to honor a pitcher from each league after Commissioner Frick’s retirement in in 1966.

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Don Newcombe was the first winner of the Cy Young Award with the Brooklyn Dodgers the year before the franchise moved to Los Angeles.  Unlike some awards, it is not uncommon for players to be honored with the Cy Young Award multiple times in their career.  Sandy Koufax was the first to repeat in 1963, 1965, and 1966, and it has been done sixteen times since then.  Roger Clemens as the most of these awards with an impressive seven, his first in 1986 and his last in 2004. Max  Scherzer is the only one of this year’s top choices to have a previous win, as he earned the honor in 2013, 2016, and 2017. I mention this trend only to clarify that previous wins do not exclude Max Scherzer from consideration this year.

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In order to determine which of these candidates should take home the trophy, I’ll use a point system for each factor.  The top pitcher in each category will earn four points, the second best will earn three, the third will earn two, and the last will earn one.  In the event of a tie, each pitcher will get the higher number of points.  I’ll keep track along the way and use these numbers to determine who should win the award, although no promises it will match my prediction.  The pitcher with the most points after taking these categories into consideration is who should win based on these stats.  My prediction for the winner will include a few other factors. 

In no particular order, the first consideration for each of the pitchers is ERA, or earned run average.  La Marr Hoyt had the highest ERA of any Cy Young winner with 3.66 in 1983.  The average ERA in the American League that year was 4.06.  The average ERA of previous Cy Young winners is 2.51.  Leading the pack of this year’s top options is deGrom with 1.71.  Scherzer and Nola are tied for second with 2.13, and Corbin follows at  3.17, still well within the range of past winners.

deGrom: 4 / Scherzer: 3 / Nola: 3 / Corbin: 1

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The next factor to consider is how many walks the pitcher gives up.  Walks are a way to assess a pitcher’s accuracy on the mound.  Jacob deGrom is best in this category as well, issuing 2.1 walks per nine innings.  Corbin and Scherzer tie for second with 2.2, and Nola with 2.4. 

deGrom: 8 / Scherzer: 6 / Nola: 4 / Corbin: 4

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Next: strikeouts.  While strikeouts aren’t the only effective way to make outs, they are an important tool to show the value of a pitcher in making his own outs without the aid of his defense.  Scherzer leads this category with 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings. deGrom comes in second with 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings, followed by Corbin with 11.  Nola brings up the rear with 9. 

 

 

deGrom: 11 / Scherzer: 10 / Nola: 5 / Corbin: 6

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Philadelphia Phillies

More specifically, swing and miss percentage indicates how well pitchers can hit tough spots and fool batters.  Scherzer leads this category with 16.1%, meaning batters swung and missed at 16.1% of his pitches.  Corbin and deGrom are tied for second at 15%, and Nola comes in fourth at 12.1%.

deGrom: 14 / Scherzer: 14 / Nola: 6 / Corbin: 9

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Ground balls are another effective way to get outs.  Ground ball percentage is an important statistic for a pitcher because grounders do not have the potential to leave the park and do not result as often in extra base hits.  This excerpt from fangraphs.com shows the importance of the statistic:  “In general, ground balls go for hits more often than fly balls (although they don’t result in extra base hits as often). But the higher a pitcher’s ground ball rate, the easier it is for their defense to turn those ground balls into outs. In other words, a pitcher with a 55% ground ball rate will have a lower BABIP on grounders than a pitcher with a 45% ground ball rate.”  Aaron Nola leads this category with a 50% ground ball rate, followed by Corbin with 48.4%, deGrom with 44.8%, and Scherzer with 36%.  Something interesting to note is that with these four candidates, ground ball percentage and stikeouts per inning have an inverse relationship.  This means that, for example, although Aaron Nola doesn’t strike out as many batter as Max Scherzer, he converts many more ground ball outs.

deGrom: 16 / Scherzer: 15 / Nola : 10 / Corbin: 12

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Next we’ll move onto home runs.  MLB players are on pace to hit almost 5,700 home runs this year, a benchmark only passed once in history in the 2017 season when players combined for a whopping 6,105 home runs.  As teams come to rely on the home run more and more, pitchers’ ability to keep balls out of the stands has become more important.  Once again, deGrom comes in first place in preventing the home run, giving up 0.41 home runs every nine innings.  Nola follows closely behind with 0.43.  Then comes Corbin with 0.61, and finally Scherzer with 0.89. 

deGrom: 20 / Scherzer: 16 / Nola: 13 / Corbin: 14

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In order to measure command and control on the mound, we’ll take a look at wild pitches.  deGrom has impressively not thrown a single wild pitch in the 2018 season.  Nola comes in second with 3, Scherzer follows with 4, and Corbin brings up the rear with 6. Catching also contributes to wild pitches, but each team’s wild pitches do not correlate with the above order enough to be a compelling factor in the pitchers’ performance.

deGrom: 24 / Scherzer: 18 / Nola: 16 / Corbin: 15

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FIP, or fielding independent pitching, measures a pitcher’s effectiveness at preventing home runs, walks, and HBP’s, and causing strikeouts. These stats are important to measure because they are an indication of how a pitcher works without the involvement of the defense.  FIP is set up using ERA as a constant, meaning theoretically a 2.00 ERA would indicate the same amount of talent as a 2.0 FIP.  deGrom is on top again with 20.7, followed by Corbin with 2.37, Scherzer with 2.63, and Nola with 2.66.

deGrom: 28 / Scherzer: 20 / Nola: 17 / Corbin: 18

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The final category to look at for these pitchers is WAR, or wins above replacement. Essentially, WAR sums up a player’s total contribution to his team.  To read a more in-depth explanation of WAR, check out Ian Joffe’s article by clicking here. Scherzer is at the top of the list with 8.8, followed by Nola with 8.6, deGrom with 7.7, and Corbin with 3.8. 

deGrom: 30 / Scherzer: 24 / Nola: 20 / Corbin: 19

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Based on these categories, there seems to be a clear winner in Jacob deGrom.  He is the current leader in five out of the nine measured categories and does not fall last in any of the other four.  However, he is not my pick for the award.  This is because of his 8-8 record on the season.  While I am very aware that there are many factors outside of deGrom’s control when it comes to his record, this is still a poor reflection on him and will probably away turn voters that place importance in the win-loss category.  Only two players have ever won a Cy Young with a winning percentage of 50% or less, Bruce Sutter in 1979 and Eric Gagne in 2002, but they were both closers.  To clarify, I would vote for deGrom because of his obvious advantage in the above categories. However, I do not believe the voters will do the same because they will take record into account more than I would.  degrom_scherzer

Despite the statistical support in favor of deGrom, I believe the 2018 NL Cy Young Award will go to Max Scherzer for a few reasons.  He leads the league in WAR among pitchers and is tied for the most wins with 16.  He has also pitched the most innings out of any pitcher, meaning he goes deep into games, a skill that is becoming more rare.  Furthermore, he has played for the most seasons by far out of an of the top candidates and, as mentioned above, is already a three time winner of the Cy Young Award.  This means that he has the respect of the voters as a veteran and has proven his skill many times before, as well as showing his consistently commendable skills time and time again.

Check out my articles about The Phillies’ Odúbel Herrera and top prospect Sixto Sánchez, or take your pick of tons of interviews and articles here.  Follow The K Zone Blog on Twitter to get updates on baseball and notifications about new articles.

All credit for images goes to original owners.

 

Sixto Sánchez: Assessing the Phillies’ Top Prospect and His Role in the Manny Machado Trade

The K Zone 

by Maddie Marriott

July 23rd, 2018

Anyone who pays attention to Major League Baseball has heard about former Baltimore Oriole, Manny Machado, being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers this past week.  Many thought the All-Star power hitter and infielder would be coming to the Philadelphia Phillies, but in the end, the Dodgers’ offer won out and they were able to add the All-Star slugger to their roster.

Rumors of a handshake deal bringing Machado to Philadelphia circulated around the league earlier this week and likely made their way to the Dodgers, who upped their offer and beat out the Phillies to bring Machado to L.A. There is no doubt that Machado would have made a great edition to the already successful Phillies.  Although they are first in the NL East, the Phillies are one of the worst hitting teams in the MLB.  In the first half of the season, Machado had a higher batting average, slugging percentage, and on base percentage than any of the Phillies, as well as more home runs and RBIs.  With a 2.9 WAR and a batting average of .317 so far in 2018, almost everyone here in Philly would have liked to see Machado swinging in a Phillies jersey.  But, it’s also worth asking the question: How much is he worth giving up?

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The final terms of the trade between the Orioles and the Dodgers included the Dodgers’ prospects Yusniel Diaz, Dean Kremer (who was the first Israeli to be drafted by a major league team in 2015), Zach Pop, Rylan Bannon, and Breyvic Valera in exchange for Machado.  Since Corey Seager, the Dodgers’ primary shortstop, is out for the rest of the 2018 season, the aggressive and even risky move makes sense for the Dodgers.  But, with Machado becoming a free agent at the end of this season, some would say they gave up too much.

 I can only assume this was an issue for the Phillies, who were reportedly willing to give up some of their top prospects to get Machado, including pitcher Adonis Medina, pitcher Franklyn Kilome, outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz, and infielder Arquimedes Gamboa, all in the top 10 in their list of prospects.  However, there is one prospect that, as Bob Brookover of The Inquirer wrote, is on their “don’t-even-bother-asking list.” That would be Sixto Sánchez, nineteen year-old pitcher from the Dominican Republic.

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So, how does Sánchez stack up against other pitchers? Let’s start with some stats.  Sánchez has made eight starts for the Clearwater Threshers of the Florida State League so far in the 2018 season.  He’s pitched a complete game and has an ERA of 2.51, well under the Florida State League average of 3.57.  His WHIP, or walks plus hits per innings pitched, is an impressive 1.071.  According to FanGraphs, anything above 1.1 is considered “great.” The average WHIP of the whole league is 1.31.  In 46.2 innings pitched, Sánchez has given up only one home run and eleven walks.  His strikeout to walk ratio in 2018 is 4.09, well above the Florida State League average of 2.59.  Sánchez falls in the top 25 in the league for these four stats. Phillies pitchers have given up home runs in important situations this year, but not Sánchez.  The fact that he has only given up one home run in forty six innings means that his average number of home runs he gives up per nine innings is 0.2.  His fastball has been clocked at a whopping 102 mph.

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Just as important as his stats is his attitude.  How Sánchez rebounds from his current elbow injury will be the next step in determining whether he will be successful with the Phillies.  Talent, which Sánchez clearly has, isn’t the only ingredient to success.  Whether keeping Sánchez was worth losing Machado to the Dodgers remains to be seen.  There are no guarantees with prospects, but also no guarantees for an upcoming free agent.  While Machado may be a safer bet for this season because of his already proven talent, I believe that keeping Sánchez is a better option for the future of the Phillies organization.   He has been compared to Pedro Martinez because of his size, skill, and country of origin. The people of Philadelphia can only hope that he lives up to the career of the All-Star and Hall of Famer.

34e93509f4b0cb589dc616a980b90e28_crop_exact(all credit for images goes to original owners)

Odúbel Herrera: Keeping Baseball Fun

Odubel Herrera

The K Zone

July 22nd, 2018

by Maddie Marriott

On any given night, centerfield for the Phillies is occupied by the freakishly athletic, always entertaining Odúbel Herrera.  The 26 year-old Venezuelan fireball has certainly made his mark in Philadelphia since making his debut with the Phillies on April 6, 2015.  Nicknamed “El Torito,” meaning “The Little Bull,” Herrera lives up to the name by playing both offense and defense with passion.  Defensively, Herrera is known to rob a home run or two, in style, of course.  He plays with flare, which usually means giving a little extra jump when pulling in a tough fly ball, just to keep us on our toes.  His most memorable snag of the season has to be from April 28th against the Braves when he quite literally reached into the bushes of the Citizens Bank Park outfield to pull in a Freddy Freeman home run.

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For all his defensive skill, his offensive performance has been nothing to overlook.  With his obvious speed on the base paths and notable power at the plate, it’s no surprise that Herrera has racked up over fifty home runs and two hundred RBIs in less than two thousand at-bats.  If it’s streaks that impress you, prepare to be amazed.  Herrera reached base in 45 straight games this season, which is the fourth longest streak in Phillies history, behind some names you might have heard before: Mike Schmidt leads the pack with 56 during the 1981 – 1982 season, followed by Bobby Abreu with 52 in 2000 – 2001, and Chuck Klein with 44 in the 1940s.  With this streak, he surpassed some other memorable names, like Richie Ashburn, Pete Rose, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley.  He homered in five straight games in June, and has already passed his previous home run record and is set to pass his previous RBI record.

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Aside from his athletic feats, there’s just something about Herrera that makes him fun to watch.  First, let’s talk about his hair.  Anyone who has seen Odúbel Herrera can probably agree that his most notable physical feature is his recently dyed dreadlocks.  Only a few people could pull of the unique bronze color, but Herrera is certainly has the confidence to do it.  “They love my hair,” he claimed in a quirky post-game interview with Gregg Murphy, “They call me Lion King.”  When you watch Odúbel play baseball, you know he loves the game as well as his teammates and fans.  Whether it’s flashing his signature bull horns to the dugout from second base or being caught with a goofy grin in the outfield, Herrera’s attitude toward the game reminds us why we watch baseball in Philadelphia in the first place; to work hard and compete, but have fun while doing it.  I can’t speak for all Phillies Phans, but I certainly hope El Torito flashes his bull horns in Philly for years to come.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Milwaukee Brewers(all credit for images goes to original owners)