Monday, September 29, 2014

2014 Richie Ashburn Award

A number of years ago, I created the Richie Ashburn Award, to give credit for one of my favorite statistical oddities: players with a higher on-base percentage than slugging percentage. It takes quite a level of skill and plate discipline for a player to be able to force himself on base without the benefit of power. And since a player gets points on his slugging percentage for singles, usually Ashburn Award winners do so by working high numbers of walks.

The award gets his name for the great Phillies outfielder, one of the best in history at getting on base despite not being at all a power hitter. Let's quickly review the three rules for winning an Ashburn Award.

1. The player must have an OBP higher than his SLG. Close doesn't count. Better luck next year, Jon Jay (.303/.372/.378).

2. The player must have an OBP above. 350. Out of luck, Robbie Grossman (.233/.337/.333).

3. The player must have at least 400 plate appearances. Chone Figgins' .217/.373/.267 in 76 plate appearances isn't going to cut it.

Amazingly, there were no Ashburn Award winners in 2012 or 2013. And we came perilously close to not having one in 2014. But one player stepped up, sneaking in by .00003.

Congratulations, Matt Carpenter, who ended the two-year drought with a .37482 OBP and a .37479 SLG.

Matt Carpenter

Carpenter, who finished fourth in the National League MVP voting in 2013, saw his batting average and power take a dive this season. But his patience did not suffer, as Carpenter led the senior circuit with 95 walks.

2013 had been a breakout season, as Carpenter had led the league with 55 doubles while helping the Cardinals to their fourth NL pennant in ten years. While 2014 was less productive for the 28-year-old, he was still a highly productive player. Losing 40 points on his BABIP didn't help Carpenter's cause, but he will be in the leadoff spot when the Cardinals head to Dodger Stadium for the NLDS.

But who cares about all that stuff. The important thing here is that Carpenter has ended a two-year Ashburn Award drought.

Photo Credit: By gcny1956 (IMGP8588) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, September 01, 2014

Goodbye, Massachusetts

I have lived in Massachusetts my entire life. I went away to college for four years, but was still home for vacations and the summer, so it was hard to even say then that I'd moved away. I grew up in Melrose and moved to Somerville 11 years ago today. 

On Saturday, my wife and I moved to Syracuse, New York. The hazy picture above is from I-90 at about 6:00, when crossing the border. My parents and my sister-in-law still live in the Greater Boston area, so I will visit frequently, but the portion of my adventure where I call Massachusetts home has come to a close. I am excited for an exciting opportunity out here, but I already miss the only city that I've ever considered to be home.