BP Alumnus Marc Normandin and I are cat-lovers. No, no, we're not cats who make out with each other. We have cats, and we love them. We're also, duh, baseball-lovers. What better way to combine our interests than to have our cats make their best guesses at who the winners of the 2013 season will be?
We continue our tour of the nation's 40-man rosters.
The moment you've all been waiting for has arrived: today I finish what I started last week and discuss three facts, two true and one less so, about the most anonymous member of each National League team's 40-man roster. Each of these players is in a way of thinking one of the top 1200 baseball players in the world.
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Jason learns about some guys that, we swear, exist on 40-man rosters.
In Major League Baseball, the teams are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the players on the 25-man roster, who win games, and the others, who toil in the minors. These are their stories.
In December, I created a toy for figuring out which teams had the best all-around performances along the lines that we talk about multi-tool players, i.e. not by looking at final standings or even Pythagorean record but by examining the team's rank in four Baseball Prospectus metrics that cover the four ways baseball teams win or lose games:
Scroll through Amazon's top-selling books of 2012 and you'll see the expected assortment: The Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey, scads and scads of "practical" books (SAT prep guides, cookbooks, The Power of Habit), John Grisham. What you don't see are biographies. I count only two: Walter Isaacson's profile of the very recently deceased Steve Jobs and a new Thomas Jefferson book by Jon Meacham, the former editor-in-chief of Newsweek and a current editor at Random House.
Jason looks at the worst players, by career WARP, to make multiple trips to the All-Star Game.
Last week, we looked at players who racked up large career WARP figures but for one reason or another (underappreciation, the league being incredibly stocked at their position, steady goodness rather than flashes of greatness) didn't make very many All-Star teams. This week, having sufficiently buried the lede, it's time to look at the players who inspired this investigation in the first place: the very worst players to make multiple All-Star Games. Caveats and notes:
The most underappreciated players ever, by one worthwhile measure.
It's February, so perhaps it's not timely to write about the All-Star Game, but blame Sam Miller, who raised on Effectively Wild a few weeks ago the Sandy Alomar Conundrum: specifically, how did such a mediocre player manage to appear in six All-Star Games?
You know well that the selection of All-Star rosters is weird and fouled up in all sorts of ways. The popularity-contest aspect has been around as long as fan voting has, and even before that was the method du jour, you might still expect that fame played an important role because the Game had to sell tickets. Managers leaning toward their own players for reserve roles is an entirely understandable decision ("Coach, why'd you take Smith over me?") and yet one that doesn't necessarily result in the best possible roster. Starting pitchers are now routinely passed over if their spot in their real team's rotation interferes with their ability to pitch in the Game itself. Relief pitchers not named Mariano Rivera populate the rosters in a weird homage to the idea of relievers as uniquely special and valuable players rather than simply failed starters. Good measures of total player value tend to be ignored come All-Star time in favor of raw offensive stats and good players sometimes get shafted because some random hamster had a great first half that he'll never ever repeat in his life.
The Padres' third baseman had a breakout 2012. If he hadn't settled with San Diego, how might his arbitration hearing have gone?
It's salary arbitration season in Major League Baseball, and here at Baseball Prospectus we're holding mock hearings, arguing for or against the actual team/player filing figures before a three-person panel of certified arbitrators. We've selected 10 of this winter's most intriguing, highest-dollar cases to cover in depth over the first two weeks of February (regardless of whether the players' real-life cases remain unsettled). After each side's opening argument and rebuttal/summation below, we'll give you a chance to vote on what you think the result should be before seeing the panel's decision. For more on the arbitration process, read the series intro by Atlanta Braves Assistant GM John Coppolella, listen to his appearance on Episode 35 of Up and In, or check out the BP Basics introduction to arbitration.
In Part One of this 10-part series, we'll tackle San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley, who (unbeknownst to our arbitrators) settled with San Diego for $8.575 million last week.
The thing about driving a long distance alone is that you have a lot of time to think meanderingly. When you're driving a long distance alone on your way to a baseball event, your thinking tends to bend toward baseball.
During the particular trip I took last weekend to FanFest in Oakland, I saw a sign, I think somewhere near Coalinga, California, a perfectly usual sign, reading "high winds" or something else to that effect that got me joking
My pet peeve as a consumer of writing on and analysis of baseball is a failure to properly employ a sensible baseline. This frequently occurs via the writer not applying any baseline at all, instead presenting statistics or other performance indicators denuded of context. In Hall of Fame arguments, what does it mean that Bert Blyleven won 287 games? Is that a lot, given the era he played in, the teams he was a part of, the number of games he started? What about Fred McGriff's 493 home runs? What do these numbers mean?
Or think about the ways MVP arguments sometimes proceed, where one candidate has a .390 on-base percentage and another has a .580 slugging and a third stole 42 bases at an 82 percent clip and a fourth had a 2.30 ERA in 210 innings. Do you know who to vote for in this scenario? It depends on what year it is, right?