August 6, 2012
The Best Baseball Questions on Yahoo! Answers
This weekend, dozens of people with baseball-related questions went to Yahoo! Answers to get answers from yahoos. Get it? I switched the words. What I'm saying is Yahoo! Answers, everybody. The best. Especially the best for baseball questions, which, in nearly all cases, could be answered quickly by one of the many websites that track and record every pitch ever thrown, or else are entirely unanswerable. Just the very, very best.
Rather than leave these poor people without answers to their questions, I'd like to answer a few of this weekend's questions. Only the most important ones, obviously. Let's go answer some nutballs' questions!
After 90 minutes, I walked across a rocky garden to knock on the first door I had come to. A shriveled abuelita answered, and I held up the photo I had brought with me.
She nodded, then gently closed the door. I didn’t know what to do. I took out my phone; no signal. Just the time: 1:07 p.m. I looked up at the sun, looked down at a lizard belly-down on the hot gravel, and decided I would rather wait it out under the shade of her porch. I took a pull of water, then another, and spit a mouthful at the lizard.
The door opened. The abuelita handed me a small yellowed envelope, sealed. Then she pointed. Far, far beyond, I saw another shanty. She held up two fingers. Okay, I thought. I can handle two kilometers. She pointed at the envelope, and I nodded. Now I was her mailman, too.
I reached the shanty just before two. No porch. I knocked, and the sun slugged at me while I waited. Finally, the door opened, and a man with a thick beard, a hammer, and a cerveza bottle filled two inches deep with black tobacco spit answered the door. “What you want?”
I handed him the envelope. I pointed at the abuelita’s house, barely visible. He opened it, read it, looked up at me, and laughed. “That all?”
No, I told Dave Van Gorder. You were on the 1985 Reds. I need to know how many of you guys hit 20 doubles that year.
He thought it over. “Four of us,” he said. “Rose. Milner. Esasky. Parker.”
“Oh hell naw, not Oester.”
I thanked him, and walked back to my car. I stopped to give the abuelita a cactus rose I had picked.
9. Cano vs. Bumgarner
Oh man I remember that! Actually, I don’t remember that. My memory is just awful, so I remember exactly two things about the All-Star game: Mike Trout got a hit off R.A. Dickey, and Chris Perez rode a horse to the mound. But that Verlander and Votto thing sounds amazing. Now imagine it with some curveballs.
2. Cespedes vs. Chapman. Not just because they’re Cuban! When I think of a dead fastball hitter, I think of Cespedes. I don’t know if there’s anything to this, but my brain thinks it’s true, and your brain probably does, too. I think this because he has the 12th-best True Average in baseball this year, and because I once saw him swing at a slider that hit the pitcher’s own foot, so he must be a good fastball hitter. So maybe he would hit Chapman’s fastball, and I would get to see him hit Chapman’s fastball! Mostly this matchup is sexy, though, because I want to see what Cespedes looks like swinging and missing at Chapman’s fastball. I bet it'd be wild. (They’re both Cuban, as well.)
1. Trout vs. Strasburg. Strasburg vs. Harper would be way cooler, because of them being the most hyped prospects ever, but barring a spectacular—the very very best ever—waiver pickup, they’re not going to be facing each other in the World Series. Trout fills in well, as the Harper vs. Trout debates put Trout just one generation removed from the Harper vs. Strasburg hype matchup.
Just like it looks: awbpuh.
But I also think these metrics have been tremendously valuable for baseball analysis because now we know what defense is actually worth. Before somebody started keeping track of how many plays are made and aren’t, the value of defense overall was just so vague. Depending on the philosophy of the person speaking, good defense might have been the most important part of the game or the least. Now we know! We know that a good defender is worth five or 10 runs more than an average one, that a great one might be worth 20, and that a terrible one is terrible to roughly the same extent the other way. This is just incredibly valuable information to have. Even if you think these metrics are too unreliable to make Wins Above Replacement formulas perfectly accurate, they make Wins Above Replacement formulas possible; just adjust with your own defensive assessments if you prefer! Even if I never see another defensive metric, defensive metrics will have a great effect on how I evaluate baseball players. So that's a prelude to your questions, ChristLives. Now, as to the specific players in your question...
Whoops! Just read the rest of the question, and I see now that you just wanted to show off all this cool new punctuation you got for your birthday. Great punctuation! Be safe with all that punctuation, son.
1. Justin Verlander
BP. So tell me, what was the best part of growing up together in the Jeter household?
Jeter: Oh, it was always a lot of fun. We were always pushing each other to achieve more and more, to run faster or win more trophies. We were always competitive with each other. I was never as good at basketball, or ping-pong, but I was way better at a lot of things: darts, for sure. Bowling. Swimming. We were both really fast, but I was probably a little bit faster back then. Obviously, I had much better range at shortstop.
BP: Great! Well, thanks for talking to us today, Carmelita.
(NOTE: I used this framing device once before, for The Score. Most of the photos, and therefore most of the questions, have since fallen off the site. If you want to really have a freaky reading experience, go read that piece, without the benefit of any questions, here.)