Friday, May 28, 2010

Update On Municipal Stadium Marker

Jeff Logan, president of the Kansas City Baseball Historical Society, saw my previous post about the disappearance of the Municipal Stadium marker, and picked up the phone to call the city. He managed to get through red tape far enough to learn that the marker is being stored in a parks and recreation building somewhere. He was told the company trying to build homes on the former site of the stadium wanted the marker removed. That business is apparently DK Homes.

The marker being removed is a disgrace to the great legacy of Kansas City baseball. I certainly hope the marker will be returned, and soon, but I just don't think that's the plan. The marker was anchored in concrete; If you look at the picture I posted of the now barren corner, it's apparent that new concrete has been laid since the marker was removed. Sad. If anyone reading this has any further information or ideas on what could be done, let me know.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Where's The Municipal Stadium Marker?

This picture was taken on April 10, 2010 at the corner of 22nd & Brooklyn in Kansas City.

On April 7, 2000, a historical marker was placed here commemorating the site of Municipal Stadium, the heart of Kansas City baseball from 1923 to 1972. Buck O'Neil lead the crowd in a rendition of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" at the unveiling that day. He said, "This was some corner. On opening day, they would start from 18th and Vine and parade up Brooklyn right on up here. The band played and came into the back of the ballpark. And we'd fill it up." Bob Lewellen, a member of the group that spearheaded the creation of the marker, said, "The marker will be here forever." (Quotes from April 6th and 7th, 2000 Kansas City Star.)

So, umm...where's the marker? I made a trip to the corner to check out the sign and the spot of so much great baseball history in this town, but was surprised to see it is gone. I have no idea why. This sign is down the block along 22nd Street, and indicates a company called DK Homes is developing the area. Perhaps they removed it?

Here's what the marker looked like when it was there:

Monday, May 3, 2010

Royals wOBA, wOBA, wOBA

Just to satisfy my own curiosity, I made the below chart to compare current Royals' career weighted on-base average (wOBA) through May 2nd. The third column is the player's age. We're obviously dealing with vastly different sample sizes for some guys, and guys who are at different parts of their career arc. Jason Kendall is nowhere near a .336 anymore: his last three seasons have been .272, .293 and .290.

You might notice from the chart that the Royals are old and terrible at baseball.

If you're not familiar with wOBA--I consider it the ultimate measure of a hitter. Here's my brief, somewhat simplified understanding of it: First, batting average and slugging are both flawed, for one because they completely exclude walks. Pure on base percentage (or average) is much more useful than AVG or SLG, but is still flawed because different events, such as a walk or home run, are valued the same. OPS (OBP+SLG) is maybe a little better yet, but still retains the flaws of OBP and SLG and probably overvalues SLG in relation to OBP.

WOBA solves all of these problems by adding "weights" to the different outcomes of a plate appearance based on how many runs the average walk, single, double, triple, and home run create. Tom Tango, wOBA mastermind, came up with these values for the different outcomes:

HR 1.70, 3B 1.37, 2B 1.08, 1B 0.77, non-intentional BB 0.62

Then to come up with a number that would be familiar, wOBA is scaled to look like OBP numbers that baseball nerds are familiar with. In Tango's words, "an average hitter is around 0.340 or so, a great hitter is 0.400 or higher, and a poor hitter would be under 0.300." You really don't have to fully understand all the specifics behind the number; just know that it is awesome. You can find wOBA stats at FanGraphs.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Digital Ballparks Tour Of Municipal Stadium

Digital Ballparks bills itself as an "online baseball stadium museum." So far, 513 stadiums are featured on the site. April saw three Kansas City stadium additions: Municipal, Kauffman, and Community America Ballpark where the T-Bones play. The "tour" of Municipal is a real gem, with 35 pictures, many of which I'd never seen before, that give you a real feel for the place.