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And So It Goes....

Overall: 7-1-0 (0.875)
Basis Function: Daubechies4

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

May 9th, 2009 Picks

Well, I suppose I could have added 3 wins to my streak with Perry, the Yankees, and the Lakers, but there were quite a few other picks that would have killed my streak. I mean, Sergio Garcia loses after missing a 7 foot putt on #18, the Cubs lost after leaving the bases loaded and giving up a 2 run homer the next inning, Contreras remains broken and the White Sox are demolished (for the most part) by the Texas Rangers. So, 0-0-0 it was for me yesterday, and today looks to be much more accommodating. And on to the picks.

1) Padraig Harrington vs. Kenny Perry – Perry cards a lower front 9 score
2) Aston Villa @ Fulham – Fulham win
3) Tiger Woods’ 3rd Round Score: 68 or lower vs. 69 or higher – 69 or higher
4) Tampa Bay Rays @ Boston Red Sox – Tampa Bay
5) Atlanta Braves @ Philadelphia Phillies – Atlanta
6) Denver Nuggets @ Dallas Mavericks – Denver
7) Pittsburgh Penguins @ Washington Capitals - Washington
8) Seattle Mariners @ Minnesota Twins – Seattle
9) Tony Stewart vs. Kyle Busch – Busch has a better final position
10) Mo Williams vs. Mike Bibby – Bibby pts. and ast.
11) Kansas City Royals @ Los Angeles Angels – Kansas City
12) Chicago Blackhawks @ Vancouver Canucks – Vancouver

1) Padraig Harrington has had more overall success at TPC Sawgrass, finishing in 2nd place in 2003 and 2004, while Kenny Perry has never finished higher than 3rd although he’s played at The Players’ every year, but one, since 1990. Since 2005, however, Harrington has struggled a bit more, missing the cut twice and finishing no higher than 52nd. Kenny Perry has only missed the cut twice in the past 20 years of playing this event and finishing in 15th place last year. This year Kenny Perry has been the more successful golfer by a ways. Harrington has missed the cut in 4 events already this year and has yet to finish in the top 10 of any of the 10 events he’s participated in. Kenny Perry has played in 12 events and missed the cut once while finishing in the top 10 six times, including a playoff loss at the Masters and a playoff win at the FBR Open. Not surprisingly the money leader of the two is also the statistical leader in most categories. You can view Kenny Perry’s stats and Padraig Harrington’s stats by clicking on their names or at pgatour.com. Since 2001 Harrington has played 30 rounds at TPC Sawgrass and has hit even par or better on the front nine 16 times. His average score has been +0.3 and his median score has been even par. Since 2005, however, his average score is +0.9 and his median score is one over par, while his scores have ranged from -2 to +6. From 2001 till now Kenny Perry has played 28 rounds at TPC Sawgrass, carding front 9 scores of even par or better in 20 of those rounds. His average front nine score has been -0.2 and his median score is even par. Since 2005 his average score has been -0.3 and while his median score remains at even par. The image below is what these two players will be looking at as they begin their rounds, hole #1.
3) In 2001 Tiger won this event and had 3 rounds 68 or lower. In the 24 rounds he's played on this course since then he's had 3 rounds 68 or lower. In 2007 his fourth round was a 67 after he carded 75, 73, and 73. You have to go back to 2004 to find another round of 68 or lower for Tiger on this course. His third round was a 68, and his other three rounds were 75, 69, and 73. His first round score was 71 and his second round score was 69, the improvement largely due to an improvement in his putting. He also saw a drop in his driving accuracy in the second round, which his short game can more than make up for, but he risks getting in serious trouble and earning some penalty strokes if he remains inaccurate off the tee. I also think it's difficult to keep a low putting average, so he may miss out on some birdies. He's playing pretty well so far this year, but even when he was the most dominating force on the Tour he rarely carded better than 3 under at Sawgrass. Obviously you have to believe he can do it, but it's unlikely enough for me to take 69 or higher.

4) Scott Kazmir visits Fenway Park to face off against Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox in a rematch of a game played on April 8th. Kazmir got the better of that matchup as the Rays won 7-2 thanks to a 4 run 5th inning. Since then Jon Lester has had a number of decent outings, and one impressive 7 inning shutout while Kazmir followed his first start with a series of strong performances before suddenly becoming a run dispenser in his last two starts, against the Orioles and Twins. Both the Rays and the Red Sox have been hitting the ball well lately. The Rays have a .279 batting average and a .531 slugging average in their last three games, meaning they've been getting their average number of hits but the ball has been flying off their bats. In their last 3 games the Red Sox have a batting average of .337 and a slugging average of .528, which isn't too unusual for them at Fenway. In 248 at bats against Kazmir the Sox are batting .254 and slugging .423 so he can be expected to put a damper on their recent success, assuming he can dial back in to his form at the start of the season. In 127 career at bats the Rays are batting .291 and slugging .457 against Jon Lester so I expect them to be able to score some runs against Lester. The real wild card here is Kazmir. If he's back to form the Rays will win, but if he is lobbing balls over the plates the Red Sox's hot bats will carry them to victory. So, how do you think Lester will do?

5) Javier Vazquez is starting for the Atlanta Braves, and he's been a fairly good pitcher this year. He strikes out 11.6 batters per 9 innings pitched, strikes out over four times as many batters as he walks, has a low 1.27 WHIP, and before he gave up 3 two run homers in his last start had given up only one home run in 32 innings. In 152 at bats against Vazquez the Phillies' batting order has recorded a .211 batting average and .414 slugging average, well below their averages this season. Joe Blanton, on the other hand, has recorded a 6.84 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in his 5 starts this season. He is coming off a very solid 6 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in his last start, allowing only 4 hits and 1 earned run. I'm inclined to think Blanton's performance in that game was due to a combination of the Cardinals' slumping bats, as well as a return to his form from season's past. The Atlanta Braves are hitting the ball fairly well lately, around their season averages of .256 batting and .401 slugging and I think they'll do at least that well against Blanton. The Phillies could very well take a lead and win with hits off of Vazquez near the end of his pitch count, or off of the Braves' bullpen, but overall it's more likely the Braves will maintain a lead.

6) Denver is up 2-0 in this series, and are 6-0 against the Mavericks this season. They've already won twice in Dallas, including a two point win the last time they visited. Denver has been phenomenal in this years playoffs, with their 58 point victory at New Orleans, and terrific play in the fourth quarter to close out teams. It seems Denver is an obvious pick in this matchup, but there are some caveats. Aside from that two point loss to the Nuggets Dallas are 17-1 in their last 18 home games. In that loss to Denver the game could easily have gone either way. Dallas was playing well in Denver in Game 2, but the loss of Josh Howard hurt them. Howard is still injured but is expected to play in Game 3. Then there is the fact that after dominating New Orleans for two games, and taking a 16 point lead in the first quarter of Game 3, Denver ended up losing on a Saturday afternoon to the Hornets. Dallas has been more competitive than the Hornets so Denver can ill afford to slacken their efforts this time around. I think Dallas has a very good shot at winning this game, but I also think Denver will not make the same mistakes they made against the Hornets. If Josh Howard cannot fully take advantage of his athleticism I have to give the edge to the Nuggets to go up 3-0 in this series.

8) Two aces who have had their troubles this season, in Felix Hernandez for the Mariners and Francisco Liriano for the Twins are matched up in today's game. Hernandez is coming off a 6 inning loss to the Texas Rangers, after giving up 6 hits and 2 home runs, resulting in 6 earned runs against him. It's not the first game he's been hittable this season. In his third start the Oakland Athletic's got 7 hits and 5 earned runs off of Hernandez. Still, King Felix is someone who is more than capable of holding a team to 1 run for 7, 8, or 9 innings. In 91 at bats the Minnesota Twins have only hit one home run, and batted .209 against him. Francisco Liriano had a few shaky starts to his season giving up 17 earned runs in 212/3 innings, and the Twins losing all four games. He's been much better since then, allowing 4 runs in his last two starts, leading to Minnesota victories. In 92 at bats the Seattle Mariners are batting a pitiful .185 and slugging .208 against Liriano. I would expect both pitchers to do well today and for both teams to struggle to score. That means it could come down to one hit, followed by a walk, and a sacrifice fly or two. The Twins are the much better team offensively, with Mauer, Cuddyer, Crede, and others providing powerful bats. In their last three games the Twins are batting .344 and slugging .505. Compare that to Seattle's three game averages of .230 batting and .280 slugging. I would expect Minnesota to have a poor game at the plate in any case, and with Hernandez pitching that is much more likely. While Liriano should shut down Seattle completely I think they have a better chance of getting a couple of hits leading to a run or two. Seattle's bullpen has also been better in not giving up home runs. They've allowed 0.06 per inning pitched, twice as efficient as the Twins' bullpen who are allowing 0.12 home runs per inning pitched. I actually like Minnesota to win this game, but put more faith in Hernandez's ability to avoid a poor game.
10) The Cleveland Cavaliers have dominated this series, and have done so with a total team effort. LeBron James has obviously dominated, but the other Cavaliers players have been outplaying their counterparts on the Hawks. It's going to be difficult for Mike Bibby to score and get assists when the Hawks are held under 90 points, so it appears as though Mo Williams is the obvious choice here. Looking at the charts above one can see that on the road Williams averages the same number of points and assists as Bibby averages at home. The major difference that's apparent from the histograms is that Bibby is much more consistent. He has a large number of games clustered right around his average. Mo Williams is a bit all over the place, with a moderate number of games below his average, above his average, and in between. Of his 43 road games Williams has 17 games with 15 or fewer points and assists, while Bibby has only 7 with 15 or fewer. Williams also has 15 games with 25 or more points and assists, while Bibby has 12 such games. I have to give the advantage to the player who is less likely to have a low number game, and that would be Mike Bibby.

12) We all know that Zach Greinke is going to lose a game at some point this season, and that he's going to get shelled. The Los Angeles Angels are as good a candidate as any to be the team that does the shelling. In 87 at bats against Greinke their batting order has a combined .299 batting average and a .552 slugging average. Joe Saunders is not a bad pitcher either, with a 3.29 ERA and 1.20 WHIP so far this season he's mostly missing the strikeout numbers to be considered an ace. The Royals have done well against Saunders in the past, however, with a .303 batting average and .576 slugging average in 33 at bats. Personally, I think Saunders has some more batters to face before it can be concluded the Royals have him figured out, but it's safer to say the Angels have Greinke's number. Still, there's no reason to expect Greinke to have his first bad start except that for every shutout or sub 1.00 ERA game he throws means he's more and more likely, but I'm inclined to go with the pitcher who has yet to show friendly stuff to the batters he's faced.


  1. AAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHH....dude, I had a 7 gamer, then I picked Aston Villa....@$^!@@&##%@!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    OK, sorry, had to vent that, I was gonna pick Perry, too, but oh well.

    I think I'm really just gonna go after the monthly. I'm at 19 wins so far in May, so if I can build 5 gamers, lose 1, build another 4 gamer, etc...I won't feel as bad.

    How are you doing?

  2. Stuck on a 4 gamer, I keep avoiding picking the morning matchups, even though I've been picking 'em pretty well... *yargh*