On slow starts and small sample sizes

The importance of taking a pitch
Game Three: The first rubber game

Last night, after he failed to record a hit, reporters pestered David Ortiz with questions about his slow start, and the embattled Red Sox DH erupted in the greatest example of Mad Libs ever. “You guys wait ’til [expletive] happens, then you can talk [expletive]. Two [expletive] games, and already you [expletives] are going crazy,” he said. “What’s up with that, man? [Expletive]. [Expletive] 160 games left. That’s a [expletive]. One of you [expletives] got to go ahead and hit for me.”

Earlier today, Fack Youk, in a post that fills in the graphic-language blanks, takes on the topic of small sample sizes and the early goings. We know that slow starts don’t mean much in the grand scheme of a 162-game season. We know that players will eventually regress to the means, get their hits, hit their home runs. We know that we can’t judge Ortiz on eight plate appearances and can’t proclaim the return of Joba based on two strike outs. Yet, so many people — from players to fans to reporters — do so. Anyway, check out what Matt had to say at Fack Youk, and remember that there are “[expletive] 160 games left.”

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The importance of taking a pitch
Game Three: The first rubber game
  • Nady Nation

    Papi’s rant reeks of ‘roid rage (no, that was not an intentional alliteration). Reports out of Boston say that he’s investigating what caused that outburst last night, and he’ll get back to us when he has more information.

    • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

      After all, “you guys know me”, right?

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        “I jus Papi”

        • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

          “I jus PapiPop-up

          FTFY!

          You’re welcome! ;-)

    • Beamish

      I think it just reeks of old age…

      Not every player ages well. Some fall off a cliff.

      • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

        :: incredulous ::

  • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno
  • bexarama

    Ortiz is totally right that it’s a small sample size, but it’s hilarious to see him blow up like that. As someone said, bring the guy a happy milkshake! The line about throwing the mango salsa at the reporter was pretty fantastic. It kinda makes me wish A-Rod responded like this whenever someone asked him about his playoff performances prior to 2009.

    Also can we please not turn this into a Joba discussion? Pretty pretty please?

    • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

      bring the guy a happy milkshake!

      SOMEBODY GET THE KID A HAPPY MEAL!

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    It is ridiculous, but in Papi’s case it’s been prompted by the questions he’s been facing since the offseason. Everyone was hanging a huge question mark on Papi for 2010, especially when the Lowell traded didn’t go through. If you told me a week ago Ortiz would be 0’fer the first two games, I could have guaranteed there would be mediots making a big deal out of it. Look at Rosenthal, he started his nonsense on the Yankees LF before the season even started, and the Yankees, unlike the Red Sox, don’t have a perfectly good replacement. If Garnder was 0-7 through 2 games, the same (stupid) articles would be written.

  • http://janeheller.mlblogs.com/yank_c.jpg T-Dubs

    “You guys wait ’til milkshake happens, then you can talk worms. Two funky games, and already you baristas are going crazy,” he said. “What’s up with that, man? Carpet. Steaming 160 games left. That’s a kangaroo. One of you spear fisherman got to go ahead and hit for me.”

    • bexarama

      A+

      I’m trying to figure out what “That’s a [expletive]” was.

      • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

        The general Google Reader/Twitter consensus is “bitch.”

        • rbizzler

          I was thinking MFer, but that makes sense too.

      • http://janeheller.mlblogs.com/yank_c.jpg T-Dubs

        “Shit happens. Then you guys talk shit. Two fucking games already. Motherfuckers are going crazy. What’s up with that, man? Shit. There’s fucking 160 games left. Y’all fuckers go ahead and hit for me.”

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Your Favorite Pundit’s Favorite Pundit

      Nickel for every time I’ve gone “Carpet Steaming”!

      (internet high five)

      • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

        Heh.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Your Favorite Pundit’s Favorite Pundit

          FACT: I always call my vacuum cleaner a “carpet muncher”, just to be juvenile.

          • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

            And I was just remembering the last time I went “Spear fishing”.

            • Pete C.

              sounds like someones gonna bite the pillow.

      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

        /euphemism’d

      • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

        Here, I’ll lend you one of these:

        http://www.amazon.com/gp/produ.....;s=kitchen (safe)

        You’ll need it to catch up to me, I’ve been at it longer.

        ;-)

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Your Favorite Pundit’s Favorite Pundit

      “Mother father Chinese dentist”.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CpAE9c1lN8

    • Tank the Frank

      Carpet steaming. That’s too much dude. Hilarious!

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Your Favorite Pundit’s Favorite Pundit

        I give because I love.

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ pete

    Ugh. Good for Ortiz, honestly. I wish more players would flip out at reporters when they pestered them with SSS-related issues. Not to say that I exactly expect a monster year out of Ortiz, just that there is literally nothing true today that wasn’t true a week ago.

  • Beamish

    Early season “small sample size” paranoia is such manufactured news that players should just learn to stare at the reporters after these questions then just laugh as they walk away.

    Twice through the rotation and then I might start thinking there could be something worth watching for the next two times through.

    On May 1 maybe we can draw some early conclusions.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ pete

      even then, all you’ve really got is how players have played thus far. It’d still be too early to make a call about what kind of season they’ll wind up with. But two games in, you don’t even have a good gauge of how players are actually playing.

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

    Both teams played hard, my man.

    • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

      And everyone who participated gets an award!

      /P.C.’d

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Your Favorite Pundit’s Favorite Pundit

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrOH-KHxXg0 (safe)

      Still one of my favorites ever.

      • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

        But…but…I’m still wondering how the other team played!

    • poster

      Just checked out your blog, A+ dissection of Wallace’s article.

  • bexarama

    can I just comment that Ortiz’s swing is incredibly ugly and it’s always bothered me? Waaah.

    • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

      I don’t think it’s necessarily ugly, it’s just rather long. The fact that he’s now unable to get around on the fastball just makes that worse.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Your Favorite Pundit’s Favorite Pundit

        His swing reminds me of an odd mix of Mark McGwire and Mo Vaughn.

        • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

          “Fat” and “steroid-enhanced”?

          Yeah, I’ll go with that comparison.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Your Favorite Pundit’s Favorite Pundit

            You left out “surly”.

            • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

              But you didn’t put Carl Everett in your comparison! Or I would have!

        • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

          Perhaps; I can’t quite remember Vaughn’s swing. The way Ortiz loads up needs to change, too. Going from memory, he’s got a bit of a high leg kick and he drops his hands before getting into what’s a long swing. If he can change his timing mechanisms, maybe he’ll begin to catch up to the fastball.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Your Favorite Pundit’s Favorite Pundit

            (looks for Mo Vaughn’s swing on YouTube; fails to find one; is depressed)

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Your Favorite Pundit’s Favorite Pundit

              Oooh, here.

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aohjcrW88Cs

              Skip to the 2:14 mark.

              • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

                Quickly reviewing that (I’m in class), Ortiz’s swing is like Vaughn’s in the follow through (though Vaughn keeps two hands on the bat longer) and Vaughn’s timing mechanisms are a little shorter.

                • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

                  I’d be remiss if I didn’t add:

                  /amateur scout’d

          • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

            Shhh!

            Someone might read that, and tell him! ;-)

  • Thank You Michael Lewis

    Ortiz is exactly right. To make an issue over two games is absurd. The best example of the effects of a small sample size comes from a 2009 article over at The Hardball Times

    “My purpose here today is to talk about the two batting lines posted below the jump. Both are from exactly 50 games, but I extrapolated each one out to 150 games just so you can get a better feel for what all these numbers mean over a full season.

    A: .340/.399/.716, 19 HR, 51 RBI, 43 runs 13 2B, .454 wOBA (223 PA)
    B: .222/.294/.418, 8 HR, 28 RBI, 28 runs 14 2B, .290 wOBA (214 PA)

    And here are those numbers extrapolated out to a full season of 150 games:

    A: .340/.399/.716, 57 HR, 153 RBI, 129 runs 39 2B, .454 wOBA
    B: .222/.294/.418, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 84 runs 42 2B, .290 wOBA

    The first line is Babe Ruth-esque, the second line is more Rob Deer-ish. Stop me if you’ve seen this before… but both batting lines are from the same player. The first “player” is the batting line of Raul Ibanez from his first 50 games this season, the second line is from his next 50 games (he’s played in a convenient 100 games this season). ”

    Source: http://www.hardballtimes.com/m.....o-seasons/

    • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

      Poor Rob Deer, never gets any love. :-(

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Your Favorite Pundit’s Favorite Pundit

      Well said and well sourced.

      Who is Michael Lewis?

      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

        Who is Michael Lewis?

        /Joe Morgan’d

      • Thank You Michael Lewis

        Michael Lewis is the best-selling author of Moneyball, The Blind Side, Liar’s Poker, and other great books.

        It was because of Moneyball back in 2002 or 2003 that I became interested in looking at the new forms of statistics in baseball the idea of finding value in different types of players.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Your Favorite Pundit’s Favorite Pundit

          Okay, making sure.

          It’s a generic name held by many other people, you know.

          • rbizzler

            Such a punk Tommie. You are supposed to be welcoming to newbies.

            • Thank You Michael Lewis

              I would normally pick up on the sarcasm, but as a newcomer I didn’t know who are the regulars.

              • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

                You’ll get used to us; we’re all decent (except pat; he’s a deviant). Welcome aboard.

        • rbizzler

          I think that you missed some snark there, but no worries, I liked the Ibanez example.

          No need to lead Sox fans away from the ledge though as that is where they feel most comfortable.

  • mustang

    The only problem I have here is what’s the need for the outburst?

    If Papi believes in his statement, which is true, and believes in his ability to rebound to his former self then is there really a need to go off?
    I wonder if his outburst is less about the media and more about an aging player with contract issues that is watching his skills diminish and really has no answers.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Your Favorite Pundit’s Favorite Pundit

      It sounds like Big Papi’s a little frustrated that his search for the real killers is going so poorly.

    • mustang

      Or maybe he knows the answers and just doesn’t like them thus the anger.

      I guess life is not easy after riod.

      I have no sympathy.

  • Pete C.

    Ortiz won’t be able to return to his former glory. That was his prime, maybe he was on PED’s to boot. His problem is he’s probably wondering some of this stuff a little himself.
    Nothing lasts forever, especially the ability of an elite hitter. No more Manny, maybe no more juice and no more youth, make up a pretty daunting trifecta to overcome.
    Say Hey, even Willie Mays had to deal with it.

    • mustang

      Agree.