Bits and Pieces
Released on March 20, 1964, Bits and Pieces was one of The Dave Clark Five's 15 consecutive Top 20 American hits in a two-year span. Yes, 15 straight--more than The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, The Four Seasons, and The Supremes. In fact, the DC5 had more hits than any British or American group during that period other than The Beatles.
The Dave Clark Five, who sold more than 50 million records worldwide, was banned from playing Bits and Pieces at their live concerts because fans would jump up and down to the song's beat, and promoters feared this would damage the theatre. This weekend's Baseball Beat column, which focuses on "pieces, bits and pieces" of news, information, and opinions, is dedicated to the Mersey Beat tunes of the DC5 and fellow British invaders.
Roger Clemens lowered his major-league best ERA from 1.50 to 1.41 when he threw seven shutout innings against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday. Interestingly, the Rocket is averaging more pitches per batter (4.20) this year than ever before but the number of pitches per inning (15.4) is his lowest total since 1991 and the third-lowest since the data became available in 1987. Hey, when You Got What It Takes. . .
The Cy Young Award appears to be a two-man race between a right-hander and a left-hander in both leagues. Clemens and Dontrelle Willis in the NL, and Roy Halladay and Mark Buehrle in the AL. I'm sure their attitude is Catch Us If You Can. That said, there are several other candidates, including former Cy Young winners Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, but perhaps the sleeper in the group is Chris Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Carpenter ranks second in the NL in wins (12), strikeouts (121), and complete games (3); third in innings (121.1); fourth in ERA (2.60); and fifth in WHIP (1.10). The 6-foot-6, 230-pound RHP may be this year's Johan Santana as he hasn't allowed more than three runs in a game since May 7. In his last ten starts, Carpenter has thrown 74.2 IP with 55 H, 14 R, 13 ER, 19 BB, and 81 SO. He has an 8-2 W-L record with a 1.57 ERA during that span.
Moreover, the 30-year-old Exeter, New Hampshire native has allowed just one run in his past four starts (4-0, 0.27 ERA). At a salary of $2 million, Carpenter is undoubtedly one of the best bargains in all of baseball. Walt Jocketty is Glad All Over.
Speaking of Santana, the southpaw is basically the same pitcher as he was last year. At first glance though, you might never know it. His 3.74 ERA is more than a full run over his AL-leading 2.61 in 2004. However, after going Over And Over the numbers, it is apparent that the main difference in his ERA is the change in batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Johan's BABIP was .240 in 2004 (second lowest in the majors) vs. .277 thus far in 2005 (45th).
Santana sits atop the league in Fielding Independent Pitching (or FIP) at 2.84. His FIP was 3.16 last year. FIP, a metric invented by TangoTiger, is similar to Defense Independent Pitching Statistics (DIPS), which was developed by Voros McCracken. Both stats measure a pitcher's effectiveness based on plays which are completely under his control: home runs allowed, strikeouts, and walks.
As further proof that Santana hasn't lost it, here are three other telling stats:
K/9 K/BB WHIP
2004 10.46 4.91 0.96
2005 10.68 6.09 1.01
Lesson? You need to look a lot deeper than ERA when comparing and evaluating the performance of pitchers.
Home runs are down slightly this year (1.02 per game vs. 1.12, 1.07, 1.04 the previous three campaigns), yet the National League has seven players who have gone yard at least 21 times through the halfway point in the season. Why? Because. Six players from the NL hit 40 homers in 2003 and 2004 and only four reached that mark in 2002. You have to go back to 2000 to find more than seven players who slugged 40 HR.
With 26 dingers, Andruw Jones is on pace to become the sixth center fielder to hit 50 or more during a season. Ken Griffey, Jr. hit 56 in back-to-back years (1997-98). Mickey Mantle (1956 and 1961) and Willie Mays (1955 and 1965) are the only other CF to reach the half-century mark twice. Hack Wilson also hit 56 in 1930. Brady Anderson slugged 50 in 1996, or greater than two times his next best season (24 in 1999).
On the subject of center fielders, Jim Edmonds hasn't grounded into a double play this year and, according to the Baseball Crank, has only hit into one during the past twelve months. The Cardinals CF has slugged a few HR during his career, too. With 15 more four baggers this year, Edmonds now has hit 317 and is within reasonable distance of becoming only the fifth CF ever to hit 400 HR in a career. The other four? The aforementioned Mays (660), Mantle (536), Griffey, Jr. (516), and Duke Snider (407). Other than this quartet, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, and Joe DiMaggio, can you name a better CF than Edmonds? I didn't think so. I Like It Like That.
Oh, I almost forgot. My favorite DC5 song was Any Way You Want It, a souped-up, hard charging track, featuring unique echo effects for the time. This lesser-known single peaked at #14 on the charts and was later a part of the Coast to Coast and Greatest Hits albums.
As it turned out, the Dave Clark Five should have been known as the Bobby Graham Five. Or perhaps the BG's. According to wikipedia, "Clark was not quite the multi-tasking specialist that publicity materials had suggested. Although he took a writing credit on each song, Clark didn't actually compose; rather, his name was on the songs as a contractural (sic) obligation with the members of the group. It was also revealed in 2004 that Clark, who had rudimentary drumming skills, did not play on the group's hit records. That work was done by session veteran Bobby Graham, as revealed in his 2004 autobiography."
[Additional reader comments and retorts at Baseball Primer.]