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Friday, June 24, 2005

392 Feet And Two Runs: Angels 7, Dodgers 0

32 ft/s2*(7s/2)2 = 392 ft
That's how high that popup went, presumably over the highest part of Angels Stadium, but it was also outside the combined ability of Cesar Izturis and Antonio Perez to field. Somebody should have called for it, but neither did, and in the end, Dallas McPherson continued running even as his towering pop hurtled back down from the stratosphere, taking second base on the error. Chalk one up, for once, to aggressive baserunning. Weaver, who had a perfect game going into the fifth, lost it after that two-out popup became a run. Weaver actually wasn't horrible and for once the earned/unearned run dichotomy seemed to reflect something like justice. Dallas McPherson scored a run due to the defense's failings. But wait -- does Jeff DaVanon get a hit off Weaver if he isn't rattled like this? I don't know, but it maybe forms the counterargument that Weaver's terribly fragile as a pitcher, and now we see a little of the guy who got booed out of the Bronx.
i have decided i hate the angels, for sure.
-- vishal
A sentiment shared by plenty of Dodger fans this year. The Dodgers are 1-3 against the Angels in 2005, and have been outscored by them 21-7, a 3:1 edge. Some of this surely -- tonight's game especially -- can be chalked up to injuries, but Angels pitching has to be given its due. Lackey has a 3.50 ERA in the AL, and shows every sign of returning to his 2002 form. In fact, since his April 22 start against the Yanks, Lackey's had a 2.56 ERA. Collectively, Angels pitching is the best in the majors right now, a fact that I'm still having a hard time getting my head around. Already, we see some indicators of regression: you don't get a good feel that Donnelly will return to the 0.38 ERA pitcher he was in the first half of 2003 ever again, not when it took him 23 pitches to get out of the ninth, and surrendering a hit to the likes of Oscar "Chihuahua Eyes" Robles.

Meantime, the Dodgers have the 21st best staff ERA in the majors, and while I tend to think the Angels and Dodgers' team ERAs will converge as the year proceeds, little brutal innings like that pitched by Osoria have tended to make the Dodger bullpen a thing of shreds and patches. And yet, Weaver's ERA actually declined after today's game! It reminded me a good bit of the amazing but ultimately futile outing Kaz Ishii had against the Angels: scoreless through five, and then -- kablooie, except not so much with the kablooie part.

Dodger glovework has been atrocious lately, and tonight's game provided two examples of that. Outside of the missed pop in the fifth, there was a simply awful play on an Adam Kennedy popup in the seventh which got Jayson Werth, Jason Repko, Jeff Kent, and Cesar Izturis to all converge on a ball and fail to field it. Three players you see all the time make this error, but four? This surely has to be some kind of record. As Vinny put it after this Titanic disaster, "There's nothing to say".

On top of this, Jason Phillips seems to be struggling a bit with his throws to second. One today was ridiculously high; the other, late (though it wasn't his fault, the pitch was a slow curve), resulted in Jeff DaVanon getting pasted in the face with the tag. It probably aggravated DaVanon's broken nose, which may provide some Dodger fans with a small measure of satisfaction.

But the cappers -- one of which turned a routine groundball into runs -- were two Jeff Kent plays at second, both balls hit by Jeff DaVanon. The first, a range play that Kent simply didn't make in the fifth, cost the Dodgers a single as the ball just scooted just beyond his glove, Dallas McPherson scoring on the hit. The second, an immaterial failure to nab a bouncer, just made Kent look silly. Somewhere, Kent is ripping some reporter a new one.

(Speaking of reporters -- did anybody else catch the postgame interview with Tracy where they asked him "What should have happened?" with regards to that popup? Do reporters ever want to smack other reporters? Because if I were there, I'd be sooo tempted.)

On the other side of the house, Figgins' growth defensively is becoming nothing short of jaw-dropping. Not only is he competent -- and I'm beginning to think the word "good" can be applied -- at third, but in centerfield today he made a spectacular running catch and throw in the seventh that bolted the runner to second. His play in the outfield just gets better and better. Like I've said, I'm gonna miss him once he gets expensive.

Offensively, the Dodgers actually put up a few hits -- five in all -- and judging by the early innings, I thought sure the Dodgers would punch through at some point as the Angels weren't effective at all against Weaver. Cody Ross got his first National League hit, Oscar Robles got a meaningless hit against Brendan Donnelly in the ninth, but that was the end of it. The offense otherwise -- the scoring part, anyway -- was all Angels, including a three-run dinger that Dallas McPherson plunked into dead center. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen him hit a home run anywhere but dead center. Damn, that kid's got some power. I just wish he'd stop striking out so much.

Recap


Update 7/2: I neglected a 1/2 term in this calculation, so the actual height was 196 feet. Apologies all 'round.

Comments:
On the other side of the house, Figgins' growth defensively is becoming nothing short of jaw-dropping. Not only is he competent -- and I'm beginning to think the word "good" can be applied

That will happen when you don't see him in right field for a while. There's like a force field that makes him suck over there.
 
Recall he also sucked at third last year. Kid's learning, and fast.
 
Rob,
I'm asking some of the science people in SABR to get an estimate on how far up McPherson's ball travelled.

There is another factor that the ball did go forward about 100 feet. I think your math assumes the ball just went straight up.

But I'm way way out of my league in this area.
 
Bob -- the first-year physics explanation goes like this:

1) Velocity is a three-dimensional vector.
2) For the purposes of determining altitude, we do not care about x or y axis movement; all we care about is the z (vertical) axis. This is true because the ball's acceleration only occurs in the z axis.
3) I also ignore drag effects; a ball is pretty aerodynamic. If there's any quibble with my analysis, it's here.
4) The ball stayed in the air for 7 seconds. This means that half that time was spent rising, and the other half falling. Ergo, we need to calculate the distance from the peak of its arc to the ground using half that time -- or 3.5 seconds.
5) The accelleration due to gravity is the well-known 32 ft/s^2 (no <sup> tags in comments!).

Hence the equasion in the blog post.
 
All that physics in college, and this is what I use it for. Should I ask for my money back?
 
One more thing: you could also factor in that the ball started about three feet up or so. But I figure the seven seconds number is also inexact, so I'm not going to represent that the error bands are well known here, and I can afford to be a bit sloppy.
 
haha, thanks for highlighting my comment, rob. i feel special.

it's not JUST that they beat the dodgers, but it's also that, watching them, it just seems like all the breaks happen go their way. not that they aren't a good enough team that can and should capitalize... but i guess it's that whole angel karma of the few years that bugs the heck out of me. and then to see them beat my two teams, the dodgers and A's, isn't fun either. add to that their smallball style and everything, and wow, i guess the angels annoy me more than i thought, haha.

ps. nice try with the physics stuff, though

-vishal
 
"Nice try"? Explain, please.
 
i wasn't intending to slight your equation, rob! it wasn't a sarcastic or dismissive "nice try". i literally meant that it was a good attempt. i'm sure it went up about that high.

still, i doubt it was exactly 392 feet, unless the hangtime was exactly 7 seconds, which i thought was just an approximation. even if it was say, 7.2 seconds, that changes it to 414 feet. i think your figure is in the right ballpark though, regardless.

-vishal
 
Oh, obviously it wasn't 392 feet, just as we have no way of knowing exactly how long that pop fly was in the air.

Thanks for the explanation.
 
Rob,
The physics guys at SABR say the popup would have been just 196 feet high. You need to cut the distance in half because the ball went up and down.

Bob
 
Huh? Get me in touch with your buddy. I already accounted for that.
 

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