The Finals will start right up today (Wednesday) with a single game between defending champion Southside Tavern and challengers the Pat Simpson Club. This will be followed by a doubleheader on Thursday, then single games next Tuesday and Wednesday if necessary. Our permit runs out this week, but Commissioner Mark Senna worked with Paul McCaffrey of the Parks & Recreation Department to snag two more dates next week so this series wouldn’t be shortchanged. The league is very thankful to Paul, and the City of Boston, for this help.
At this time, we’ll be entering the eighth dimension of math again. I’d like to give you a stat of my own that I came up with years ago. I call it “Total Average” (there is another stat called that in baseball terminology, made up by sportswriter Thomas Boswell, and similar to other math by Bill James and those involved in Sabermetrics, but mine is a bit different.) Here’s an explanation, then I’ll show you how these teams stack up in that regard.
Here's how you figure my version of Total Average (TA): (H + BB + RBI + R) – outs, divided by (AB + BB) In other words, every hit is a point, every walk is a point, every run batted in is a point, and every run scored is a point. For every out, you subtract a point. Then you take that total and divide by the number of at-bats plus walks. The number can work out to higher than 1.000 (theoretically, it could be 6.000, if a guy hit a grand slam every time he came up to bat). It’s also possible to have a negative number. If a batter has made more outs than the total of his good contributions, it will work out to a negative percentage. Rather than waste time figuring it exactly, I just list that as a zero. That's easy shorthand for a pretty bad stretch of games. It doesn’t mean that player made no contribution to his team’s success, but it does at least mean he’s been slumping badly.
The strength of this statistic, versus other stats, is that it takes into account not just simple numbers of hits or walks, but also how valuable those times reaching base were in context. By including the RBI and R numbers in the total, it gives an expression of clutch hitting as well as discounting 'empty' walks and hits that didn't result in any runs being scored (which is, after all, the point of the game.) I’ve done this stat for every team I’ve either coached or played on, and I've come to the conclusion that it's the single best snapshot concerning the overall value that any player brought to his team, as a batter, that season - better than AVG, OB%, SLG%, OPS, or any other percentage stat. It tells you how much of those four categories (H, BB, RBI, R) you can expect, on average, from any single at-bat by that player.
If I was limited to only one stat to evaluate who to put in the line-up, this is the stat I'd use. There are other considerations for a manager (pitching and defense, of course, not to mention maybe the ability to check an ego at the door) but if you're only looking at producing runs, the top 10 guys on your roster in TA should be batting.
Now that I’ve explained it, here are the TAs for the playoffs for every player eligible – and who has played in the playoffs so far - on the two remaining teams.
Derek Dubois- 2.000
Miguel Dupree – 1.848
Sandy Jonge – 1.294
Mike Selig – 1.222
John Manning – 1.167
Toco Soto – 1.154
Pat Dolbeare – 1.150
Sam MacDonald - .947
Kevin O’Hara - .814
Danny Ekasala - .545
Donis Gerdino - .400
Nate Mattson - .375
Jason Calnan - .333
Eric Merces - .111
Choco Samuel - 0
TEAM - .973
Pat Simpson Club
Brian Hurld – 1.033
Jeff Kasper - .966
Pat Sullivan - .794
Chris Flaherty - .775
Scott Simpson - .722
Brian Goodman - .718
Jason Allen - .667
Brian Donovan - .632
Bobby Gomes - .630
Mark Goodman - .537
Mike Garland - .364
Anthony Flaherty – 0
Gerry Sarro – 0
TEAM - .675
A quick look at those figures makes a pretty convincing case for Southside taking this series. But we’ll go a little further into the eighth dimension and take those figures to make a prediction. If you take the team average and multiply by 20 (I won’t go into further math that I used to get that multiplier – trust me on this one) TA can be a very accurate predictor of how many runs a team will score depending upon who is in the lineup. For instance, Southside has averaged exactly 17 runs a game during their playoffs thus far. Multiply their team TA by 20 and you get approximately 19.5 (the discrepancy can be attributed to playing less than a full seven innings on offense in some games.) If you take their “worst” 10 players TA, it comes to about 11 runs a game; their best 10 will give you about 23 a game. Add the 11 and 23 – you get 34, which would be an average of… that’s right, 17. For Pat Simson Club, they’ve averaged 12.4 a game in reality. Their “worst” and “best” will give you about 10 runs a game or 15 runs a game. The average of those two figures? 12.5.
Now, using those figures again, Southside will average between 11 and 23 runs, while Pat Simpson Club will have a range of 10 to 15. If Southside plays their best 10 every game and they all play to the levels they’ve been playing to thus far, they sweep. However, Simpson can win games here. They’ll need to play to their best levels and have Southside drop off some. I don’t think this will be a sweep. I think Pat Simpson Club will play with lots of heart and be in these games. Also, these figures, as I said, don’t take pitching or defense into account, so there’s that. I’ll predict Southside in four, but Pat Simpson Club does have a shot if things fall very right for them. My absolute hope is it’s a very competitive series and a good series for all of us to watch and enjoy!
That will wrap it up for now. See you at the ballpark!
[Jim Sullivan writes for the Boston Herald. Go to the Boston Herald website at bostonherald.com/opinion/op_ed to see his writing.]
A few reminders from your commissioner:
Parking - guys please leave your cars at home as the available parking spaces around the field is VERY limited. Most spaces are Resident only so unless you are a South Boston resident then you will most likely get a $40 ticket that the league cannot cover. Some relief (Thomas Butler Park on First Street will have 1200 parking spaces) is on the way but is still a year away. If possible, car pool, take the T, or bike/walk to the park and save yourself the headache.
Umpire/Scorekeeper fee - please pay the umpire $25 and pay $5 to "Sully" the official scorekeeper BEFORE the game begins.
Forfeits - we don't like forfeits in the M Street Softball League as they cost the league money and waste people's time. With that said, if you know there is a scheduled game that is going to be a problem then let me know ASAP and I will work with you in finding additional players, rescheduling the game, and/or cancelling it all together.
Inclement weather/rain outs - the league will usually make a decision by 5pm on whether or not the game is on or off. Once the decision is made then the league will reach out to the coaches - we will not leave you hanging. The league website (sbsports.com) will also be updated within minutes of a cancellation.
Bats - just a reminder that composite bats are illegal...however, bats that have a composite handle and metal barrel are OK. DeMarini Steel is a very popular bat in our league as is the Anderson RocketTech.
Equipment - the league will provide bases and also has a catcher's mask that your catcher can borrow (ask Sully) on a nightly basis.
Pitching rules - we are using the same rules as we implemented last year...that's strict modified pitching - no sling, no windmill, and no arc. It's pretty much straight back with the arm, a forward step to the plate, and deliver the ball. A great source on the "Classic Style" with videos can be found here 10manmodified.com/pitching-rules/videos-of-modified-styles/
Starting lineups - reminder, we use four outfielders, P, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS and if you want (optional) you can use a DH and an EH for a total of 12 players. The EH can take the field and substitute for any defensive player while the DH cannot take the field (unless injury).
Playoffs - 16 teams will be eligible for the playoffs.
Playoff eligibility - although the rosters are open there is minimum number of plate appearances or innings pitched (25) a player must meet to qualify for the playoffs.
Stats, news, etc... - please check the league website for all the latest news, standings, stats, and more.
Schedule - we tried to evenly spread out the amount of start times for each team...it's not an easy or exact science. The regular season will run from May to mid August followed by the start of the playoffs.
Wishing you and your players a great season of softball at M Street.
M Street Softball League