Four hypothetical WBC teams, Jack Cust's favorite snack, and other stuff.
It's 2013, which, as you well know, means it's time for the World Baseball Classic, which in turn means that it's time to speculate about rosters and project results and ask just how much Italian blood you need to be eligible and complain about Team Canada's weird caps and be jealous of Team Mexico's sweet sweet sweet unis. More than all that, though, here's what I'm really interested in:
Jason goes looking for Hall of Famers and finds none.
The first thing I'd like to do is thank the BBWAA for admitting me to its ranks even though I'm merely a part-time blogger and weekly contributor to a website that has, in the past, had as an implicit mission statement the Association's destruction.
The second thing I'd like to do is thank the BBWAA for waiving its usual 10-year rule whereby one does not acquire a Hall of Fame vote until one has been a member of the Association for a decade. Really, you're too kind.
Silver Slugger awards shouldn't be controversial, but Jason finds a gap remains between advanced metrics and voters.
When you do an article search on this site for the phrase "Silver Slugger," you get 57 results, the first of which, by Gregg Pearlman, is apparently the 18th article ever written for Baseball Prospectus and the most recent of which is Geoff Young's piece about the Padres throwing their heft around the N.L. West this offseason.(That's #19056.) Young's Silver Slugger mention came because Jason Marquis won one. Pearlman was writing about Barry Bonds. (Or really about sportswriters' relationship with Bonds. This was October 1997. We were innocent once, and young.)
By contrast, when you search "Gold Glove," you see just a smidge over nine times the results. (The first of which, hilariously, is another Gregg Pearlman article -- this one includes a lamentation of the J.T. Snow trade—which is numbered "1" in our content system.)
Searching for the most-balanced team in the past six decades of baseball history.
You're familiar, I'm quite sure, with the sacrosanct quintet of "tools" that the very best baseball players are said to possess, the running and the hitting and the power and the throwing and the fielding that only a very few athletes pull together in one package on the field of play. You're also familiar with the idea that tools are (a) not all there is the universe and (b) not equally valuable. Examine, for instance, 2012's top five position players by WARP:
Friends, winter has come. An entire set of Meetings in Nashville has been dedicated to ringing in the season. The air is cold, there is no baseball, and it is all we can do to keep ourselves occupied while trying not to be driven mad by the latest Ken Rosenthal rumor about Justin Upton, or Jon Heyman report on Zack Greinke. We are forgiven, then, for turning to food. After all, food is frequently warm, cooking it makes us busy, and it does not require the presence of baseballing men on our televisions or radios.
Which is not to say that food and baseball don't make a natural pair. A bite and a beer, both the eating and the acquiring, can ease the boredom of a slow fifth inning in a meaningless August blowout, particularly as the hot dogs in many ballparks have been supplemented by more upscale options and the available beers have expanded from the usual selection of Bud, Bud Light, Bud Lime, Bud Dark, Bud Plus, and Bud Unleaded. Still, when I say "upscale," I for the most part mean "hamburgers from Shake Shack instead of Carls Jr." As far as I know and have been able to Google, nobody's yet offering escargot in the mezzanine on the third-base side. What I would like to demonstrate for you, if you'll permit me, is that some classic dishes in French cuisine can provide a gateway to thinking about baseball and baseball players while simultaneously making you ravenous.
Do you know what bullpen coaches do? I will be honest with you: I was a baseball fan for a long time before I learned that bullpen coaches exist and are different from bullpen catchers. (They both start with "C"!) It was even later that I learned that bullpen coaches are not merely functionaries employed to answer the phone when the pitching coach gets lonely and/or bored.
Is there a better way to vote for Manager of the Year?
Manager of the Year is stupid. Manager of the Year voting is stupid. Given the former, it's not clear that the latter matters in the least, but indulge me.
Despite the language in the above paragraph, I'm not a 2002 stathead, though I certainly was once upon a time. I can't pretend today that the semi-tangible, semi-measurable aspects of managing a baseball team that fans love to talk about are the most important aspects, because it is highly likely that they are not. Computers and front-office nerds alike (hold the jokes, HOLD THE JOKES) can do an excellent job deciding when to bunt (never), when to substitute a relief pitcher (as often as possible), and how to construct a batting order (Barry Bonds leading off!), yet we've heard more in recent years about the possibility of a player-manager (Paul Konerko) than nerd-managers. (And no, Joe Maddon does not count—he was briefly paid to play the game of baseball, after all, and I'm talking about putting Paul DePodesta or Ben Lindbergh in the dugout, not an ex-minor-leaguer who happens to wear glasses and listen more carefully to his team's analytics department than most dugout men do.) This absence of nerditry would suggest that baseball teams making seven- and eight-figure bets on their personnel and leadership decisions value significantly the immeasurable side of managing that includes dealing with personalities, keeping an eye on low-level health issues, and even actual coaching. Sure, teams can be subject to biases and path-dependency just as anyone else can, and the size of the gamble doesn't mean the play isn't stupid (heyyyyy Wall Street), but we can't go off half-cocked on these teams and demand firing Dusty Baker every time he bunts, either.
Does a change of cities change a General Manager's tendencies?
Do you like sausages? Here's a look inside the sausage. I wanted to start this article by saying, "Boy, general managers sure don't move around from team to team the way players and field managers do!" I proceeded to make a list of all the current GMs who had previously held the top job with a different franchise. That list:
Fewer incumbents have won Gold Gloves the past two years. Is this a sign of a more engaged voting base?
Gold Gloves are bunk. Let's talk about them anyway.
Baseball-Reference, because it has everything under the sun, has the lists of Gold Glove winners for the American and National leagues through history. Like other pages on B-Ref, it uses shading to indicate sequences and thus gives the user at-a-glance insight into how often the award at a given position changes hands. (It's also a feature of, inter alia, team defensive lineup pages, so that a position held on lockdown all year by one player is distinguished easily from a rotating cast or platoon situation.)