Greatest MLB games project part 1 (1914-1949)

I have to admit my fascination with stats like WPA, aLi and Clutch to make numbers out of purely intrinsic moments, to rank the situations that you just know are pressure-packed and clutch-worthy.   What I have thought of doing is ranking the greatest teams by their batting aLI and also Game Score for pitchers.  I will rank the games by the average score for both teams in the games.  After that, I wanted to do likewise for postseason games as well as WS, as well as series-clinchers and also regular season winners (beyond game #162).   Leverage Index over 2 is especially high, and so the teams with this number or higher had to deal with a lot.
I believe, outside of numbers, that the best games involve a tight low-scoring pitching battle between 2 pitchers, maybe a 1-0 game or 4-3, extra-innings, tough to gather a lot of power. There may well be a comeback by one team, and lots of scoring chances thwarted, dazzling defense, and maybe a bit of the unusual.  A game where the outcome is highly in doubt for much of the way.

My tool here is’s Play Index, an amazing device for picking out games, events and streaks, and even splits, in the game’s history, as far back as the dead-ball era.

Borrowing from Wikipedia’s list of notable games in each season, I decided to choose one game as the representative from each year to see if it measured up to my own list and the actual top aLI games.
My next lists will be the best regular season clinchers and any games that were decided in the last week of the season including games 162-165.
After this I’ll explore all 1-0 games as well as close games that involved a no-hitter.
After this, all extra inning games, then games as measured by time.
I’ll build separate lists for postseason, WS, and series-clinching games.
For all games I’m first looking at the descriptions on Wiki and lists from the Play Index, initially ignoring the aLi and Game Score stats. I’m doing this just to see if I guess correct on this stat or if there were more dramatic games that I missed out on.

Here’s the baseballgreatest spreadsheet with the games I selected for the years 1914-1949.  1950s to 1968 will arrive soon.

Mares/Santa Cruz featherweight title fight analysis

Sometimes Wiki can really be your best friend when you need it.  I was confused about the big fight coming up at the Staples Center in Los Angeles,  for a WBC Diamond featherweight title. Diamond?I think I heard of it,and some reference to Silver too, but why these extra belt? Is this just so history has to show that a magic belt had to be won for any old fight? Seems that’s how the World Boxing Council wants it.   Good old Wikipedia says that the Diamond belt is to recognize winning a fight of great significance, one awarded per weight class. The fight on Saturday would grant the first such belt in the class. And, on paper, it does shape up well.  Abner Mares, former WBC World featherweight title, goes for the glory against undefeated multiple super bantamweight champ Leo Santo Cruz.   Not sure if I like all these belts.   I so long for simpler times.
Mares is 29-1-1, 15 wins and 1 loss by KO.  This will be his 4th fight vs an undefeated opponent.  The one blemish came vs Jhohnny Gonzalez 2 years ago this week.  Since then he’s gone to 2 decision, and caused one retirement, each fight at 10 rounds. Steps up again to 12 rounds, maybe even lifetime highweight. He was 128 vs Jose Ramirez on 12/13/14.  In 12-round fights, he’s gone 9-1-1, with one early and 1 late KO in his wins.   He’s been on the greater radar since 2009 and held his first title (IBF World bantamweight) in 2010, acquired at the Staples Center.   He kept some sort of title aloft until his loss to Gonzalez.    This will be his 4th fight in this venue, just 8 miles from home in Montebello.
Triple high cycles without counting his growing intuitive expression.  Physically he’s weaker than previous days but his attitude is very good and he’s at peak mentally.   Strong athletic abilitly in general and a willingness to finish a fight.  Very good outlook here.

Santa Cruz, ‘El Terremoto” is based in Rosemead,10 miles from Staples Center. 30-0-1, 17 KOs.   Held the WBC World super bantamweight title snice 8/13 until 1/15  It will be his 6th fight vs an opponent with 0 or 1 loss. In 12-round fights, he’s won all 10, with 2 KOs each early, mid and late stages.
As much as Mares has a strong outlook, it’s most difficult for Santa Cruz.  Intuition is in a temporary critical phase, and he’s rather weak physically and emotionally.  Seems most likely to quit the fight at some point.

One common opponent:
Eric Morel lost to Santa Cruz, who won the vacant WBC world super bantamweight title, 4/21/12, decision in 12.
Then in September 2012, Mares would score a 5th round TKO vs Morel, retaining his IBF World bantamweight title.
I predict this to be a mid-fight KO by Mares and owner of the vacant title.

Travers, Arlington-Washington Lassie stakes analysis

There is one major stakes race ahead which some feel is nothing more than the American Pharaoh Invitational, disguised as the Midsummer Derby itself, the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.   But is he really invincible? Saratoga continues to thrive upon its reputation as the ‘graveyard of champions’, and I’d like to see what value can upset the Triple Crown immortal.
First let’s see the Enlightened Trails for a bit.  Per the latest 2015-6 ENLIGHTENED DERBY-OAKS TRAILS chart, the weekend of September 5 there are 4 races on the docket, then 3 on 9/6 and 2 on 9/7.  Right after Labor Day is when we’ll really see equine stars shine.  These trails didn’t predict American Pharoah as a winner in one such race, the Del Mar Futurity but it did put him on my board as leading the Cali division, and I can say he was in the running for longer than most folks.
This Saturday there is the Arlington Washington Lassie, for top 2YO fillies going  7 furlongs on the all-weather surface, 75k at stake.   Here’s my top 3:
The unraced MARQUEE MISS impresses me with her strong worktab (9 reported at AP, 6 in the top 3rd of the daily reports, 2 bullets)
INCONCLUSIVE won her maiden debut by 4.5 lengths in a 22k race right her a month ago, going 5.5 furlongs in her deep closing style. Her 78 Brisnet score from that race is best on track of this field.  Gained 4.5 lengths on leader between 1st/2nd calls.
RUN TO GLORY was 2nd in another 22k maiden debut here on 8/8, going 5 furlongs. His 68 speed figure and trip indicate a rather wide trip chasing the leaders in post 6 of 7 and wasn’t able to kick home late. I’m thinking she can surprise with a different pace scenario and having a middle post.
Suggested odds: Hey Monba 11-1 (overlay), Run To Glory 29-1, Inconclusive 6-1, Avisionofchocolate 3-1, Lu Sea 9-1 (overlay), Moonlitdiscretion 5-1, Marquee Miss 5-1 (overlay)
As for the Travers, there’s much speculation about Upstart remaining in this race. Trainer Ron Violette, as of this typing, is still undecided about Upstart’s spot, and has until Saturday morning to decide.  I decided to give 2 versions of my top 3 with 2 sets of suggested odds, assuming Upstart is the lone scratch.
First scenario includes Upstart:

UPSTART, should he run, should contend and win here.  Having raced his first 2 lifetime at the Spa, his 106 Brisnet in the Funny Cide is the standard set for this field.  Prior wins while stretching in distance, has 1 near bullet work from 8/22, has a prior win taking on much more weight, and gets back regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., who has a 26% win rate here.  2 wins in 2 races here.
FRAMMENTO hasn’t won since his maiden breaker last October.  He’s managed 2 podiums since (FOY, optional claimer) and has largely been ignored by the betting public. Not even competitive since the FOY either.  So why now? He’s bounced from a 95 in the Belmont to an 88 in the Jim Dandy. The kicker is the turn-time. He increased his turn-time from 24:4 to 23:4 while losing speed rating. This suggests he should have more in the tank for this one.
FROSTED won the Wood Memorial and was 2nd in the Belmont and Jim Dandy, plus 4th in the Run for All Those Roses.  Good up-down pattern of figures going on and he’s set for an uptick (89-107-96-104-100). Improved turn time from 24:2 to 23:4 last time despite the downturn in speed figure.
Suggested odds for this scenario:
Texas Red 29-1, Tale Of Verve 14-1, AP 14-1, Upstart 3-1 (overlay), Mid Ocean 4-1(overlay), Frammento 5-1 (overlay), Frosted 5-1, Keen Ice 29-1.

Friday afternoon, it was revealed that Upstart WILL start, so I’ve removed the non-Upstart scenario.

Note that the reason I rank some horses over others has much to do with my spectrum of variables. I tend to favor horses and their connections for numbers that occur since the last race or number of races, and much less on historical data or pedigree.

Idealistic Stats 8/28/15 podcast

13th edition of the weekly Idealistic Stats podcast is now available.
Also accessible permanently at the Internet Archive:
Main website:
This week’s show includes recap of the prior week’s sporting events as
covered on the podcast.
I also look ahead to stakes action occurring on 8/29: The Travers Stakes and the Arlington-Washington Lassie.  I discussed more and unveiled the first games being used in the ‘greatest games’ baseball project.This project measures best games via 2 sabermetric stats. Spreadsheet soon to be published to the blog.
Music used in this program:
Annie Wenz “Play Ball” – Ride The Sky CD
Anthony Gomes “Turn It Up” – Electric Field Holler CD
DJ Flowerdove “Distant Project Gate (Remix)”
Thanks for listening!
Dan Herman
Twitter: @idealisticstats

8/22/15 Stakes analysis (Arlington-Washington, Alabama,PacClassic)

Recapping my thoughts process on the stakes action I covered for this week’s podcasts, here’s how I see Saturday’s big stakes races:

The $1million Grade 1 TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar is a 10 furlong race for 3YO+. My top contenders:
RED VINE dazzles with just 2 runs out of the money in 19 races, and 5 straight runs with triple-digit Brisnet numbers. Off since 7/5, he’s won several times first off layoff.  This closer is the undisputed speed of the field.   Prior wins while stretching out, plus shipping wins, gets Joel Rosario again. Only issue: Rosario/Clement tandem haven’t run at Del Mar yet.

MIDNIGHT STORM is 10-4-3-0, comes out of the Eddie Read here with a 93, this bounce after scores of 100 and 101 in prior runs. 4 works at Del Mar, 2 of them bullets.   Love the 20-1 morning line odds.
IMPERATIVE owns best track Brisnet, a 106 from last year’s Classic, when this surface was all-weather.  99 Brisnet in the Charles Town Classic last time out in April, did gain on leader at 2nd call last time; best of the rest.
Suggested odds: Class Leader 14-1, Bayern 14-1, Imperative 6-1, Red Vine 9-5, Midnight Storm 5-1, these latter two my 2 overlays here.

Next is the Arlington-Washington Futurity, Arlington Park’s representative race for the Enlightened Derby Trail, and the first Graded race (and division race) of this series. 7 furlongs for 2YO colts.
COCKED & LOADED is the deserving morning-line favorite, running 3 Brisnets in the 80s, earning maiden debut victory and the 250k Tremont at Belmont.  Bounced to 6th place in the Grade 3 Sanford on 7/25.   Rated as the speed of the field based on figures alone. Prior win stretching distance and 2 nice works entering today.

CONGRATS GIVEN makes first start here. I like him on the strength of all the quick works he’s done at AP, including a bullet work.
AIR AMERICA won 2nd maiden race with a 73 Brisnet, bounced to 66 running 6th in the Prairie Meadows Juvenile on 7/18.  Posted 3 nice works since claim.
Suggested odds:  Van Damme 7-1, Discreetness 7-1, Shogood 14-1, Cortege 14-1, Air America 4-1,Cocked & Loaded 7-2, Congrats Given, 5-1. Lots of overlays here.

Finally there is the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga, 10 furlongs for 3YO fillies.
EMBELLISH THE LACE won 2nd maiden race in dominating fashion, did likewise in a 50k optional-claimer, then finished 9th in the Grade 1 Mother Goose last out on 6/27 at Belmont.  I’m sure she can win straight off layoff. This is the only pure early speed of the field. Like most horses of this, owns prior victories based on class adjustment as well as good prior works; she also owns a shipping win, and has waited longest to stretch.  Liking the 10-1 morning line odds.
LOVELY MARIA, after her Ashland and KY Oaks wins, bounced to 5th and 90 Brisnet in the Delaware oaks on 7/11. I like the bounceback angle here.
CURALINA, big favorite early on, owns 3 wins and 2 2nds, a 98 in the Acorn and 95 in the Coaching Club American Oaks here on 7/26. Was 2nd in maiden debut here last year with 98 Brisnet.  The 98 score reveals that she is very consistent and might improve on her 95 score. The pattern of high scores keeps her in my top 3

Suggested odds:  Danette 14-1, Curalina 2-1, Lovely Maria 3-1, Embellish The Lace 2-1 (overlay). Good competive field here.

Idealist Stats 8/21/15 podcast

12th edition of the Idealistic Stats podcast is now available.
Also accessible permanently at the Internet Archive:
Main website:
This week’s show includes recap of the prior week’s sporting events as covered on the podcast.
I also look ahead to stakes action occurring on 8/22: The Alabama, the TVG Pacific Classic, and the Arlington-Washinton Futurity.  I also provide insight and update to the ‘greatest games’ baseball project.
Music used in this program:
Annie Wenz “Play Ball” – Ride The Sky CD
David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket “I Saw The Light” – Essential Songs Of Philadelphia: Sessions CD
DJ Flowerdove “Distant Project Gate (Remix)”
Thanks for listening!
Dan Herman
Twitter: @idealisticstats

Barbara Shinpoch Stakes/Arlington Million analysis

The Barbara Shinpoch Stakes is the representative 2YO filly race on the Enlightened Oaks Trail, being held at my home track of Emerald Downs in Auburn WA. Here my top contenders: 

2 JERRE TO CARRIE broke maiden here on 7/11 with an 80 Brisnet, then bounced to a 69 in the Angie C last time out.  I really like her turn time improvement in that race upon her previous as the reason I like the longshot.

9 SAY IT SLOW as first time starter has a bunch of workouts, including going 5f furlongs on 8/8 here, 4th of 14.   I like horses with a bunch of local fast works as prep.

4 KISS MY LULU belongs here, running an 87 in her debut on this track, best of the field for Emerald.

Suggested odds Princess Kennedy 9-1, Jerre to Carrie 8-5 (overlay), Freaky Kiki 5-1, Kiss My Lulu 5-1, Cape Grace 29-1, Say It Slow 5-1

The Arlington Million is run at the classic 10 furlong distance on the AP turf course. This is the 33rd running of this Grade 1 event, for 3YOs+. My top 3 are these:
10 TRIPLE THREAT was impressive in US debut, winning the Monmouth last time out by a nose. Prior to this, he’s run at top level in GB and France, with mixed results.  Frequently laid off, there’s no rust on him. Appears to be the true speed when evaluated by pace; he’s got a strong stretch kick. Waiting the longest to stretch out of this field.

LEGENDARY has run rather consistently for a number of months, winning 4 of 5 consecutive last year and never worse than 5th in her last 10. Owns a prior win while gaining in weight carried, and Sheldon Russell returns to ride. Best pace pattern of the field. Owns 21.4 turn time from last race, itself a 2 second advantage from prior. 

UP WITH THE BIRDS races consistently in Graded company and generally finds his way into the top 3.  Easily the best of the rest, I expect him to contend but not win outright.  Showed improvement in 2nd call Brisnet last time out, and had to deal with tough traffic and 4-wide running in the Arlington Handicap in that same race.  I’m willing to forgive this trip, especially with the 89 Brisnet in that one.

Suggested odds: Up With The Birds 14-1  Slumber 12-1  Big Blue Kitten 4-1  Wake Forest 29-1  The Pizza Man 22-1  Legendary 5-2 (overlay), Quiet Force 29-1, Shining Copper 29-1, Triple Threat 4-1