Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Brew Crew through

So I'm bummed. Obviously. I wish we won. I wish we had at least played better in losing. I wish we had traded for Reyes. I wish I was big.
I don't want to dwell on this to much but it's hard not to. I am so proud of this team. They won more games than any other Brewers team ever. They made it to their first CS since 1982, and the first playoffs I could watch (only a one year-old in '82, in Europe in '08). I got so much joy from watching the team this year it's hard to feel let down by them.
I know the playoffs are as much about luck as they are about being good at baseball. I know this. It still hurts.
I hope that I will remember the season for the fun it was in the future. I hope we get a SS with some range. I hope it's not another 29 years.
A lot of things happened during this series but among them was me noticing how terrible umpires are. The advent of baseball technology is amazing, not the least of which is slow motion instant replay. The umpires blew several important calls. I'm not blaming this for the loss as these bad calls went both ways. Primarily though I was blown away by the Pitch FX data. Even the one just on the broadcast showed some pitch calls that were not even close. Ryan Braun got a strike call on a fastball that was shown to be lower than the previous fastball that was called a ball. The strikezone varied so much from batter to batter it was stupid. Umpires suck, I want robots.
Here's a list of things that I want to look into to see if my impressions were off or not:
- The Cardinals seemed like much more patient hitters, especially in games 3-6. P/PA will tell us this pretty quickly.
- Braun and Fielder were trying too hard and pressed, and their P/PA was much lower than their season average.
- The Cardinals struck out far less than the Brewers in games 3-6. I know strikeouts are not the terrible thing that they are made out to be but it's just an observation.
- It seemed like the Brewers were all trying way too hard. The errors may be a product of that but I'm mostly referring to every batter going up there with home run swings. I want to see if the Cards bullpen (who really gets the credit for containing our offense) even give up a lot of HR.
- Tony LaRussa is still an idiot.
Thanks again for the great season Crew. I'll call when I feel ready again.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's always the Central, isn't it?

So we have an all Central NLCS. Neat for us, as we care about the NL Central here at NL Central Stage. You know our motto: "If it's not NL Central, then it's pretty much the minors."
A deranged fan asked me if the NL has more intradivision LCS (LCSs?) than any other division. I was doing other research anyway so I looked into it. Get ready for some numbers.
From 1995-2011 there have been 34 LCS and 11 intradivision matchups. Of those the numbers for each division were:
AL East: 5
AL Central: 0
AL West: 0
NL East: 2
NL Central: 3
NL West: 1
So yeah it's the AL East, buoyed by 3 different NY vs. Boston series. I suppose it's not that much of a surprise. Still, I'm happy to see the NL Central a not entirely distant second. Also we are much less hateable so I'm happy in my polite Midwestern fandom.

Championship Market

Commentary in these playoffs has already mentioned many times that Milwaukee is a very small market. It's the smallest in baseball in fact. Seeing as how this is the Brewers first appearance in an LCS since 1982 it seemed possible that this was the smallest market for combined LCS ever?

I decided to dig into a bit as I ran an experiment. It required spurts of activity followed by waiting so it's good time for me to do online research, and occasionally it doesn't have to be work related.

The idea that Milwaukee is the smallest market is based on their Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). It works as a general measure of the population of a city area as opposed to the population of the city itself.

A few notes: I limited my analysis to the Wild Card Era because I didn't want to spend an entire week on this and I answered my original question pretty quickly. I used census data from 2000 as an approximation for 1995-2011. While there were some significant changes in populations from 2000-2010 in some markets (i.e. +23% for Dallas-Fort Worth) the lack of yearly data rendered completely accurate analysis impossible regardless of method. You'll notice some years with only three markets. Those are years that two teams that share an MSA both made it to their LCS and it doesn't make sense to count both populations.

So you don't have to go back that far to find a year with a smaller total market.

Texas 5,221,801
Detroit 5,456,428
Milwaukee 1,689,572
St. Louis 2,603,607

Boston 5,819,100
Cleveland 2,945,831
Arizona 3,251,876
Colorado 2,581,506

1995 (first WC year and smallest market)
Seattle 3,554,760
Cleveland 2,945,831
Atlanta 4,112,198
Cincinnati 1,979,202

All three years are lower than the markets for New York (21,195,865) and Los Angeles (16,373,645) alone.

There are some obvious problems with this analysis. The big one is that the MSA is not actually the market for many teams. For some (Baltimore and Washington) their MSA includes another market meaning that the MLB doesn't actually count the entire MSA. There are others (Boston) whose market greatly exceeds their MSA. Still, it was interesting looking into how little my home town, that used to feel so big, really was.