July 16, 2001
The Daily Prospectus
Sharing the Dais
I went to dinner last night with family, so I only saw small pieces of the games ESPN and ESPN2 were televising, and I didn't catch who was calling the Angels/Padres game. What I did catch was some discussion of Pads manager Bruce Bochy, in about the fourth inning, in which the color man praised Bochy for getting great work from Bubba Trammell and called Ryan Klesko a reclamation project, lumping him in with Phil Nevin.
We'll start with the more defensible statement. While Trammell has gotten more playing time this year than in any season prior to it, it would be hard to argue that he has benefited in any real way:
Year AB AVG OBP SLG EqA
Trammell isn't playing any better than he's played before, and hasn't been anything special for a corner outfielder. He's four runs below position, according to Clay Davenport, and it's not like he makes it up with defense. He's a talented player who has deserved more playing time than he's received in the past, but this year, he's a generic corner outfielder. His performance doesn't add anything to the case for Bruce Bochy; in fact, you might conclude that since he hasn't matched his performance with the Devil Rays, that Bochy has done a poor job with him.
The more enjoyable notion is that Ryan Klesko and Phil Nevin were comparable at the point which the Padres acquired them.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG Ryan 2431 374 684 140 18 139 450 .281 .361 .525 Phil 764 87 94 33 3 27 94 .230 .301 .387
Uh, yeah. Klesko was brought in as part of a deal for two starting players (Reggie Sanders and Wally Joyner). Nevin was acquired for a utility infielder (Andy Sheets). Nevin, in the year before he came over, had a 662 OPS as a backup catcher. Klesko had a 908 OPS as the Braves' cleanup hitter.
My point? Question everything. Just because it's on ESPN, or on Fox, or in your local newspaper, or at Baseball Prospectus, don't make it so.
Now, we turn "The Daily Prospectus" over to Keith:
There's been a lot of bitchin' and moanin' here in Beantown about the Yanks' "soft" schedule. Sometimes it simply revolves around the fact that the Yankees have 12 games remaining against the Triple-A-style Tampa Bay Devil Rays, while the Sox have just six left. (Never mind the fact that for the whole season, both teams get the same number of easy victories against Chuck LaMar's Cirque de No-way.) One factoid that has recently gained currency in Boston is that the Yankees have the "easiest" schedule for the second half out of any team in the AL, with just 16 games remaining against winning teams.
There are a few critical flaws in the argument that haven't gotten as much airtime. One is that the Yankees have or had plenty of games against near-.500 teams the Blue Jays (13), Marlins (3, just completed), White Sox (6), and Angels (7). Another is that the Red Sox themselves left the break with just 19 more games coming against teams with winning records, with six games against the Indians replacing the Yanks' three against the Phillies.
Is there any meat at all to Red Sox Nation's complaints about the Yankees' upcoming schedule? It turns out that there really isn't. If you strip out the matching games from the two teams' schedules, you're left with the following games:
Yankees Games WinPCT Red Sox Games WinPCT
The WinPCT column shows the winning percentage of the opponent as of the All-Star Break. The entry where that column meets the total line shows the weighted average opponents' WinPCT.
On first glance, it does appear that the Sox are at a disadvantage when it comes to their remaining schedules. But a .428 winning percentage over 37 games comes out to a record of 16-21, while a .450 winning percentage over 36 games comes out to 16-20. The difference in the two schedules is no more than a rounding error.
If the Sox fail to make the playoffs, they should blame their horrible luck with the injury bug rather than any conspiracy involving the schedule.
Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here.