March 14th, 2006

Pitching

There Is No Choi in Mudville...

Gray, rainy day. What this day needs is a little science humor:

Two Scientists Walk In, One Walks Out...

Meanwhile, I keep running across kerfuffles where I really didn't expect them, like one about Jered Weaver's college baseball career over versus Mark Prior's mentioned over at Baseball Analysts. Sabermetrician Smackdown! It's not that kerfuffles are rare among sports fans. I mean, just sit in the bleachers at Fenway (or Shea) some time. It's just that the sabermetrics crowd usually reserve their bile for the mundanes, not their own. Even the world of high energy physics is not immune to petty squabbling, as Chad Orzel notes in his blog. Sure, some of the kerfuffles over physics theory are legendary, but kerfuffles over trackback access? Bozhe moi!

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Speaking about kerfuffles, the subject of many of them, Hee-Seop Choi, belted a 3 run bomb for Korea as they beat Team USA like a rented mule last night, 7-3. There has been no more polarizing player amongst the Dodger faithful than Hee-Seop. He's a big, likable lug with great power, and (possibly) a good batting eye, even though he strikes out a lot. You want to root for him. The sabermetricians look at his slugging percentage, all the walks he draws, and his low salary, and talk about what a great value he is for the numbers he puts up. Mundanes point out that he's hella streaky, which means yes, he can carry a team for days, but he will often suck for weeks at a time. Sabermetricians argue that the streakiness averages out over the course of a season, while mundanes say they'd rather have him hit single homers in three close games than three homers in a single blowout. The mundanes also suggest that the walks may be the result, not of a good batting eye, but because he's just not very aggressive at the plate, letting a lot of pitches go by whether they're balls or strikes. They also point out that the streakiness is likely due to some huge holes in his swing.

Unfortunately for Choi, his decision to play for his country may have eliminated any shot he had at still being a Dodger come opening day. Big home run aside, he hasn't hit well in the tournament, and even the Koreans don't want him playing defense at first. If he'd stayed in camp, he might have had a good shot with a good spring, but right now he's basically a stranger to the men whose opinions count the most, Grittle and Neddy, and will continue to be so as Korea keeps going deeper into the tournament. Meanwhile, top prospect James Loney is having a great spring backing up Nomah. Loney has hit well, and is reportedly a brilliant defensive player, all of which makes Choi expendable. Here's hoping Neddy can get someone decent in trade for him.

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I took a stroll by the bulb bed this morning, and it's ringed with crocuses.