Sometimes you think big. You have hypotheses or theories about how the game of baseball works in some fundamental way or you have a deep analysis of a player or a team or transaction that shines a light nobody has yet shined.
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About Torii Hunter and aggression and strike zones and adjusting.
Here's Joey Votto, whose power travails you've probably heard about and whose weird stat line has been the subject of some head-scratching, through Monday's action: 63 plate appearances, 21 walks, one homer, one triple, one double. That's the highest walk rate in baseball (it's not close) and an isolated power of .146. This article isn't about Joey Votto. That makes this maybe a weird "lede" but bear with me.
A new book looks at the many obstacles along the route to becoming a major-league city.
The history of the business of baseball is filled with at least as many scoundrels and thieves as the history of the game on the field. Google something like "worst owners baseball history" and you'll find reams of blog posts and articles with stories of racism, and rich men laying waste to cities, and incompetents, and all manner of other hoodlums. Of course, team owners never act alone. Cities and counties and states are run by the same power elite that produces the lead dogs of sports franchises, and leagues frequently have help from local politicians in their schemes to build boondoggle stadiums, place expansion franchises, and shift teams from city to city.
Just because teams can't necessarily measure clutchness and chemistry doesn't mean they don't have to think about how to buy it.
Baseball knowledge expands rapidly, inside the organized professional realm and out. We know things about outfield defense and batted balls and catcher pitch-receiving and pitcher skill and the best way to score a run that we did not know 10, 20, 50 years ago. There is also plenty we do not know, sometimes particular to baseball and sometimes dealing with general human knowledge as applied to baseball. (Think about questions of psychology, for instance.) The question, or one of the questions, if you're in a front office, is how these areas of knowledge intersect with your willingness to pay D dollars for player P.
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.
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.