Closing their season with a nigh-heroic seven game win streak, the Salt River Rafters marched dominantly into second place to close the AFL season after never quite challenging the also surging Mesa Solar Sox, winning six of their own in a row to keep their half-game lead. It was a tenuous week for fans of either team but a truly awful outcome for the players and fans of the Rafters, who did nothing but win and ‘couldn’t catch a break.’ It seems as if the Rafters were destined to lose, or if one looks at it positively, the Solar Sox were destined to win. This obviously isn’t true; the Sox’ team of top prospects played slightly better baseball earlier in the season and therefore are obviously deserving of their placement in the championship game against the hard-hitting Surprise Saguaros, but the point that I am laboriously making is that it was only slightly.
Trackman is a proprietary system (originally developed for use for the PGA) that uses radar technology to track the movement, speed and spin rate of the balls that zip around a baseball diamond. While proprietary means that it cannot be regularly and accurately transmitted into our brains the way pitch f/x stats have entered the lexicon recently, this does nothing to diminish the amount of useful information can be taken from it’s readings by those who can afford to pay for such info. As a sort of advertising for their product, the Trackman team will publicly release some of their non-major league readings. On the fifth of November the team released the readings they had taken up to that point in the AFL this year. After browsing through the admittedly fascinating numbers they have tracked, one of the things that jumps out at me is that Trackman seems to really like Blue Jays Top Prospect RHP Aaron Sanchez.
Today, the Salt River Rafters will head to Glendale to play the Desert Dogs in the first part of a two-game tilt that could very well decide the fate of the season of either team.
No-hit performances by pitchers are a bit like throwing a bulls-eye in a game of darts. The difference between a skilled dart-thrower and a non-skilled dart-thrower is great; it is unarguably a skill that is improved by the muscle memory gained via practice. Much like anything in life, skill at darts progresses along a curve; making the same effort to improve will provide diminishing returns as you move up in skill. One cannot practice enough to be able to throw a dart into the bulls-eye every time; it is conceivably possible to comprehend, but the amount of practice that would seemingly be required is prohibitive. This same effect can be seen in most any field where skill plays in; an average Joe has a miniscule chance of beating a master dart-thrower in a standard game of darts, but relative to the gap between their skill levels they have a much closer-together chance of throwing three bulls-eyes in a row. There’s an old expression about how you have to be good to get the chance to be lucky, and baseball offers more glimpses at the elite getting lucky than possibly any other modern entertainment.