CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com
New! Search comments:
(NOTE: Relevance, Author, and Article are not applicable for comment searches)
I knew Pujols wasn't having a great season, but I didn't appreciate just how bad it is until now. The fact that Pujols is even in the same conversation as <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Tony+Armas">Tony Armas</a></span> suggests the end should be near.
I feel like this idea could make for a great series. Worst season for a 20 game winner. Worst season with 600 PAs. Worst season for a regular on a 2nd place team. Worst season for an All-Star. The list goes on. I suspect that some of these have already been written, but the great thing about baseball is that every season brings new surprises... and disappointments.
Excellent article, Patrick. I enjoyed the read.
This is a nice tribute to a guy who by all accounts is a terrific person and teammate and who for a few short years in the late-aughts was an outstanding ballplayer.
I enjoyed this. Especially Kate Preusser's description of meat on a stick.
It's so easy to second guess, but I didn't like Perez sacrifice bunting in the third inning either. With Kluber not having his best stuff, it was pretty clearly not going to be a 1-0 or 2-1 game, and the bunt effectively quashed Cleveland's chances of a multi-run inning.
A fascinating article.
I particularly admire your quixotic mission to isolate value from context. The halo effect is rampant not just in sports (it’s probably even worse in the NFL), but in business, law, medicine, politics... basically any endeavor where people are rated or compared and success is determined at least in part by factors out of the individual’s control.
Hell will freeze over before the MLBPA agrees to a roster size reduction.
One other point that surely factored into the Red Sox's analysis in 1990, but that looks lamentable now, was that Bagwell was blocked by not one but two other 3B in the organization. <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=16777">Wade Boggs</a></span> was still manning the hot corner for the big club, and (less memorably) future two-time All Star <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=16899">Scott Cooper</a></span> was making a name for himself in AAA. Perhaps the Sox's biggest mistake was in failing to project Bagwell to have enough power to make the transition across the diamond.
Searle's Chinese Room thought experiment was developed to refute the "strong AI" view that human minds/understanding/consciousness cannot be reduced to an algorithm or a string of inputs and outputs. The sabermetric equivalent would be to argue that baseball performance can be reduced to a string of stats. Does anyone believe that? Perhaps there are sabermetric idealists out there arguing for a "strong stats" view privileging data over people, but I have never come across one. One of the great joys of reading BP and other stats-oriented perspectives on baseball is how they enhance my understanding of players' performances, not diminish them. It's an argument for better stats, not the elevation of data over the performance itself. If that were the case, there would be no reason to watch the game.
The duck line made me laugh out loud. Bravo, Sam.
If you have Wainwright in a fantasy league, is it time to hit the panic button and drop him in favor of <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=58731">Julio Teheran</a></span> or <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=70485">Joe Ross</a></span>? Or do you sit tight a little longer?
Your analysis assumes, I think, that the batters' ABs are randomly distributed against the shift (or not). Is that the case? Do teams employ the shift just as often behind their top pitchers as their not-top pitchers? If managers use the shift more often when lesser pitchers are pitching, then you would expect hitters to end up with a higher rate of hits against the shift, and that wouldn't necessarily mean that the shift doesn't work.
This is a wonderful, thought provoking article. Thanks
Nice article. I feel like every baseball writer must have his own Dom Brown.
Does recent history of developing major league talent play into your ranking at all? I could imagine Colorado's decidedly mixed record of developing home grown talent dropping it down a few pegs, and, say, St. Louis' strong track record propping its ranking up (based on MLB talent in the organization's top under 25 list).
I was hoping this would present a bunch of different areas that the crowd tends to get wrong, like undervaluing util-only hitters in your <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=1499">David Ortiz</a></span> example. That would be an interesting topic of a future article.
It seems to me the area most primed for innovation is around conditioning and injury prevention. The incentives are there--its easy to figure the cost of losing <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Jose+Fernandez">Jose Fernandez</a></span> or <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=68391">Matt Harvey</a></span> for 12 months--but so far the (off-the-field) data sucks. Some club could easily separate itself from the pack if it could find away to keep its best players on the field more of the time.
It is funny that you think the sport that excluded men of color until 1947, had unofficial quotas for the next 25 years, enforced the reserve clause, colluded against free agents and looked the other way in the face of fairly obvious evidence of PED abuse is risking its moral imperative by not hiring from a more diverse pool of interns.
I just want to say that I really liked this article. It is provocative in all the right ways.
The player you are referring to generally goes by the given name <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Christian+Vazquez">Christian Vazquez</a></span>.
Wow, that's a ton of scouting. Thanks for the fun read.
Thanks for the great read.
My sense is that the drop-n-drive delivery that was taught at the high school and college level for a generation is on the wane, possibly being replaced by the old fashioned rock-n-roll strategy, ironically enough. Is that right?
On a completely separate note, have you ever evaluated the deliveries of <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=19214">Steve Blass</a></span>, <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=16692">Rick Ankiel</a></span>, <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=55530">Daniel Bard</a></span> or any of the other once promising pitchers who completely lost their sh*t at the highest level? I would be interested to see if they had any common tendencies that might have contributed to their struggles.
I enjoyed the write up on <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Brian+Johnson">Brian Johnson</a></span>. He doesn't get a lot of ink as a prospect because his stuff isn't sexy, but he seems like one of those non-prospect prospects that will nonetheless have a long career as a major leaguer.
Man, no love for <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Brian+Johnson">Brian Johnson</a></span>'s gem Friday night? 9 K's to go along with 6 perfect innings against the misnamed Bats of Louisville.
It's spelled L-U-C-K. The chances of Keuchel's <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=BABIP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('BABIP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">BABIP</span></a> staying at .157 for the rest of the season are approximately equal to <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=66326">Yordano Ventura</a></span>'s chances of winning the Man of the Year award.
Sorry if you addressed this and I just missed it, but how much of the change in odds is attributable to changes in expected performance going forward and how much from the banked wins/losses? Is it all from the latter?
Also, a few more references, and Ben Kenobi will need his own Player Card. I imagine him as a <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=20382">Mickey Cochrane</a></span> type (good numbers, great reputation, but perhaps a little over-rated during his time) with a beard.
Your analogy with an insurance company is interesting, but your description of how insurance companies insure mortgages and mortgage bonds isn't quite right. For starters, subprime mortgages aren't insured. That's what makes them subprime. If the borrower is able to get PMI, then it would be a qualifying loan. Insurance companies also used to insure mortgage bonds (bundles of individual mortgages) and CLOs (bundles of mortgage bonds), but it was the individual mortgages within the bonds that were supposed to be uncorrelated (what allowed the ratings agencies to give the the bonds AAA ratings), not the bonds themselves. But I don't think any private insurance companies still insure mortgage bonds, just the GSEs.
I just hope the Astros' strategy works out better than AIG's.
"As important as the swing path is, it’s essentially useless without the incorporation of the lower half of the body."
This made me think of Ken Griffey, Jr., who did both of these things about as well as they can be done.
Ethier went from underrated to overrated in exactly the time it took to sign a 5/$85m contract.
I love the Morneau comp because they are contemporary players with a similar peak skill set who faced a similar decline around the same age (albeit with different causes). It's also easy to forget that before their respective declines, Ethier was the better player. I would be surprised if some team--perhaps even Morneau's Rockies--wouldn't be glad to take a Morneau-esque $6m/yr filer on a guy who only 2 years ago was a 3 WARP player. But that would require LA to increase its bath fund from $30m to $50m. That's a steep price to free up a roster spot.
You haven't gotten a lot of comments on these articles, so I just want to say that I really enjoy the series!
If the BP writers were the only voters, the only 2015 members would be Pedro, Johnson and Smoltz, because the others would have been voted in years ago.
Are we really prepared to live in a world in which John Smoltz is a HoFer but Roger Clemens is not? Really? In Smoltz' best year Clemens was 2 full wins better. Over the course of their careers, Clemens was roughly 70% better. Heck, Clemens generated more WARP in just 13 years for the Red Sox than Smoltz did in 20 years for the Braves. It makes a mockery of the whole thing.
The return for Latos is a complete head scratcher to me too. They gave up a guy with a career FIP better than either Jon Lester or James Shields for a bullpen prospect and a non-prospect. Unless his elbow issue is worse than we're lead to believe (a real possibility), this is just a straight salary dump.
Doug, I love your articles, and this is some of your best work.
Do you think it's a coincidence that the two best deliveries in the division belong to foreign-born players, or does this speak to something more broadly about how pitching mechanics are taught here in the States?
Which team doesn't overrate its prospects?
Am I the only one to be surprised to see Castro above Russell and Baez on the U25 list?
How many position players have ever played as few games as Cuddyer did in 2014 (49) at age 35 or later and come back and had at least one 2 WARP season, nevermind two? I don't know the answer, but I suspect it is a very small list indeed.
Where is CJ Cron?
Where would Gausman be on this list?
Based on the number of original draftees who stayed in the 1st round in the redraft, the MLB teams seemed to have had a higher flop rate in 2010 than in the other redraft years you've covered. Any theories for that? Was there a change in the draft/slotting rules in 2011? Or does the extra year of development time just allow for more separation of wheat from the chaff?
This question is slightly off topic, but what would you do with Matt Kemp at this point? Trade for him, or trade him away? Is he a drop candidate in a 12-team mixed league?
Your main premise is that pitchers on the mound pitch differently in different situations to pitchers in the batter's box. The five ABs between Gallardo and Kennedy don't prove it, but it's a good anecdote that holds up well under the eye test. I wonder if it's also true with respect to non-pitcher batters. In other words, is situational pitching real? Announcers talk about it a lot on air, but that of course doesn't make it real. I seem to recall someone shooting holes in the idea of "pitching to the score" in connection with Jack Morris's HOF candidacy, but that doesn't necessarily mean Morris (or anyone else) doesn't throw more sliders or reach back for a couple of extra MPH when, say, there's a runner on second base in a close game. Conventional wisdom certainly supports the idea, but I've never seen the gory math.
Isn't that what MLB did in the 1960s during the 4 man rotation era?
In 2009, David Ortiz came into the season dinged up and out of shape and posted a .230/.290/.333 April slash line with 0 HR and a troubling 22 Ks in 87 AB. He followed it up with a .143/.278/.242 line in May. The Boston faithful were calling for him to be benched. Fortunately, he found his swing in June and everyone lived happily ever after.
You might want to clarify that when you say "chemistry" above you're talking about ~team~ chemistry, and not the kind that produced the Clear and other similar substances that sadly have had a bigger impact on MLB than other sports, at least on public perception.
Otherwise, great piece.
I love the shout out to Devon White. He triple play that wasn't in the WS was one of the all-time great catches.
Syndergaard has a monster profile. What is it that's keeping him from being a potential no. 1 starter? I would have thought that if his potential 7 CB and potential 6+ CH both pan out, that together with his 8 FB that would be enough for a potential no. 1 overall future, with a fallback as a no. 2/3 if those two secondary don't continue to improve.
I was expecting something closer to the $14m qualifying amount. Burnett has basically been a 2 win pitcher for the last 10 years. I suppose he received a premium for accepting "only" a one year deal, but does this mean that the price of a marginal win for a marginal team like the Phillies is more than $8 million?
If I am rooting for the team that's rallying, I want to see my team hit a home run, but home runs do kill rallies in the sense that they diffuse a multidimensional situation that gives the TV commentators more to talk about. There is just more to say when there are men on base, and you can speculate about a bunt, hit-and-run or pitchout. Tim McCarver used to love to talk about the wheel play and the value of bunting towards third when there is a man on second.
This is awesome. Great job.
Ah. I think you caught the bit that I missed: insurance.
I can't understand why a team would ever agree to a player-only optional opt out on one of these long term contracts. It effectively transfers ALL of the back end risk to the club. Either Kershaw meets or exceeds expectations during the first 5 years (a la A-Rod circa 2001-2007) and opts out (best case scenario) or he melts down or breaks down like Zito or Sanatana and the Dodgers are left holding the bag. The odds of a goldilocks scenario where he pitches well enough to deserve the $30m/year but not so well that his agent advises him to opt out seem vanishingly small. Is this just another case of a GM trying to win now and figuring that in 5 years it will be someone else's problem?
Allen Iverson was the best sub-6 footer in NDA history. His historic combination of speed, agility and grit would have translated just as well to the diamond, the pitch or the gridiron as the parquet.
Are the two guys who left Bonds and Clemens off their ballots, but voted for 10 other candidates who similarly played during a period in which there was no steriod testing, going to explain their votes?
More great BP analysis. Great work!
This series should be accompanied by a poll so that readers can vote for their favorite fake trade.
My favorite is easily Zach Levine's #9, which earns top honors for creativity and forward thinking.
"but unlike Arencibia, he hits like a normal human"
I think you mean he hits like a normal starting MLB catcher. Facing MLB pitching, a normal human would be completely hopeless. It's easy to forget how good even the worst professional players are.
My sense is that BP is higher on Mondesi and lower on Zimmer than other well-known prospect rankers. Is it fair to say that that's due to your respective assessment of the players' upside?
That begs the question though, doesn't it? No one knew in 1955 that Mantle and Mays were going to be inner circle Hall of Famers (or Bonds in 1991). At the time, the guys who won were all considered the superior, if more seasoned, players.
I for one like the current system. Not because it accomplishes any higher goal, but because it doesn't. For all the reasons Sam mentions, I concede that as a mechanism for "fixing" free agency it is utterly stupid. But as a consumer of baseball news and gossip, I like the intrigue it creates. Without the draft pick compensation system, who would care about what Kyle Lohse was up to in late March, or what Michael Wacha was doing in October? Sure, it has all sorts of unintended consequences and likely shaved several millions off of Michael Bourn's latest contract, and Kendrys Morales's next one, but it gives astute GMs another way to separate themselves from Jim Bowden, Sam Miller something to write about (passionately), and the rest of us something to read and argue about.
Perhaps it was just me, but I found the treatment of Peterson's position confusing. Even though it is listed as 1B, it is noted that there is at least a chance he sticks at third, which would lead me to assume that he's been playing exclusively or primarily at 3B in the minors. A minor nit in an otherwise quality piece.
Sad to see how far Danny Hultzen's star has fallen. Here's hoping he's able to come back and carve out some semblance of an MLB career.
Thank you, Mike, for bringing some much deserved attention to the 1988 NLCS. It was one for the ages.
I enjoyed this too. I wonder how the experiment might differ if you chose a declining veteran like Roy Halladay or Tim Lincecum instead of an unknown like Hernandez. It might bring out the contrasts between the different mediums even better.
Love this series. Keep them coming. Bravo.
This is an awesome piece of in-depth analysis. I'll take this over another SI-style puff piece anyday. Thanks!
Is there a more damning criticism in baseball today than a comparison to Jeff Francoeur?
What kind of stats are you projecting for Erasmo for the rest of the year? His PECOTA projections are in line with Joe Saunders', which is not exactly must add material.
I am glad to see all of the high ceiling prospects at the top of this list. It bodes well for MLB's future. But to say that any 19 year old in A-ball has a ~floor~ of multiple All-Star appearances and a 16+ year career is a bit absurd. I hope he's the next Willie Mays, but there have been way too many next-Willie Mays to suggest that any prospect is a sure thing.
For me, all three are wonderful players, but only Harper has the whiff of a once-in-a-generation-talent about him. I worry that Trout doesn't age as well and that Machado's ceiling isn't as high (though it is still plenty high).
Given the topic of this article, I would be curious for your take on a related question that I've been grappling with for years. What matters more in a lonnnnng fantasy baseball season, the Big Decisions (should I draft Justin Upton or Josh Hamilton, or should I trade Joe Nathan for Freddie Freeman?) or the little decisions (should I start 5 SPs and 3 RPs this week, or 4 SPs and 4 RPs? should I take a flier on Marwin Gonzalez?)? I used to think it was the Big Decisions that mattered most, so I would spend hours and hours each March doing research and making projections. And then one of my leagues switched from daily lineups to weekly lineup changes, and it had a big impact on the parity of the results (the crappy managers stayed crappy, but the three of us who had had a strangle hold on the top 3 or 4 spots every year now find ourselves pulled toward the middle of the pack). When I looked back at our league results over a few years, I noticed that there was very little correlation between how I did on draft day and where I finished at the end of the season. In fact, I had some of my top finishes in years when I drafted poorly and so was quicker to pick up a young Hanley Ramirez, Matt Holiday or BJ Upton to replace the crappy veteran I had drafted in the 8th round. Maybe this is an imponderable question, but I would be curious to know your view.
I agree with the others that I found the series interesting and would love to see more.
Along the lines of Lastblues' comment, I would also be curious to know how much context matters in the ultimate decision to move a prospect off of a premium defensive position or to keep them there and try and stick it out. For example, for Profar and Machado, the teams' needs mattered a lot. I would think that the Red Sox would be more inclined to keep Bogaerts at SS because they don't have an Elvis Andrus on the big club, even though Bogaerts is a less pure defensive prospect than Profar, but I would be interested in a scouting take on that as well.
I would be really interested in the second-order analysis of this series. Isolate what Kevin Seitzer and Chili Davis (and Leo Mazzone and Greg Pavlick) are doing that is working and what Dwight Evans and Gregg Ritchie (and Milt May) did that didn't work, and you have a recipe for scoring (or preventing) more runs. I would have guessed you'd find a correlation with the three true outcomes, but the Chili Davis example (good performance overall, but a big drop in selectivity) suggests the intriguing possibility that there is more to it.
I am really struggling to understand the distinction between pure shortstops and pure-enough shortstops. Some guys who were deemed "pure" shortstops when they were coming up--Yuniesky Betancourt comes to mind--turn out to stink, whereas other guys who lack one or more of the tools of "pure" shortstops--I'm thinking of Hanley Ramirez or Derek Jeter--are able to stick at the position at the MLB level due to the force of their will, bat or reputations. Despite his shortcomings in the field, I would still rather have Hanley Ramirez than Jose Iglesias as my team's starting SS, and I imagine all 30 teams feel the same way.
But maybe it's just a gimmick to spice up the series and I should take it (and myself) less seriously.
Kudos to Matthew Kory for an awesome take on Dustin Pedroia.
I am having a hard time getting my head around the fact that your strategy scraps the traditional role of the starting pitcher, which is an ingrained in the culture and history of baseball as the ball and the bat, but keeps leaves the faux tradition of the late-inning reliever intact. Why not try to come up with a scheme that maximizes the value of the Mariano Riveras and Arodlis Chapmans, rather than just minimize the damage from having to run Carl Pavano out there every 5th day?
It's interesting to read how players' prior prospect status affects their write ups. For instance, Teheran had disappointing results at AAA and with the big club, so his profile has a somewhat negative slant, while Graham had better results at lower levels, and his report is glowing, even though the two have similar projections and Teheran is ultimately rated higher. Was any consideration given to ranking Graham above Teheran? What separates them at this point? Is it mostly Teheran's age?
Has any team had more future Hall of Famers than the 1924 Giants?
Please tell me that Miles Head's middle name is Andrew or Alexander. If so, then he deserves a look with the big club on name alone.
It would be interesting to see would happen in the AL MVP race if the Angles win their division and Pujols and Trout both put up monster years. I could see them splitting the west coast vote and the award going to someone like Robinson Cano.
Last year KG had Shelby Miller ranked #1 in the organization and said he was a future star in the mold of Matt Cain. This year you have him ranked #2 and project him as a no. 2 starter. Do these differences reflect a difference of opinion between you and KG on Miller's upside? a slight downgrade from last year due to 2012 performance? or is Miller essentially the same guy, but Matt Cain is only a no. 2 starter on this scale?
I couldn't agree more. This is fantastic stuff!
I look forward to your articles every week.
One minor note: it was the Mariners in '86, not the Brewers.
Here's hoping that Matt Davidson makes it to the middle-of-the-force.
I am struggling to understand how you can say that, based on on-the-field performance alone, and putting aside PEDs and Coors Field effects, Larry Walker is a more deserving HOFer than Mark McGwire. Their career WARP, VORP and TAv all look remarkably similar to me.
There is an interesting article to be written about the careers of Anibal Sanchez, Jon Lester, and Jonathan Papelbon who, after being teammates on the 2005 Portland Seadogs and top prospects in the Red Sox organization, have all had more than their share of peaks and valleys in their careers. Who would have thunk a couple of years ago that Sanchez would be the 2012 post-season hero and the one signing the $80 million contract, and Lester the one with the biggest question marks?
There is plenty of room to debate the relative merits of the Royals-Rays trade--one's judgment largely depending on one's opinion of Myers as a prospect--but some of the criticism that's been directed at Moore (yeah, I'm looking at you Keith Law) has been over the line. This isn't a case of a team trading the farm for an over-the-hill slugger or a broken-down former ace in a PR move that's doomed to fail. Shields and Davis are legit big league starting pitchers today, and Myers is, at best, a star of tomorrow. Maybe it doesn't work out for KC in the long run but that doesn't mean Moore was motivated by anything other than the desire to put the best baseball team on the field. I think sometimes people who spend their lives scouting minor leaguers (quite rationally and understandably) overvalue the prospects they fall in love with.
Have you ever considered doing a regression analysis of prior years' amature rankings, perhaps side-by-side with those of Baseball America, Scounts Inc., etc., against later MLB data to see how the amature rankings have panned out? Geoff Young did a smaller version of this exercise a few days ago comparing the Giants' drafting against their NL West rivals which was pretty interesting. I'd be curious to know if BP's predictive success is more like Pedro Martinez's winning percentage or Adam Dunn's batting average.
If there's one thing Kenny Williams can't get enough of, it's aging former All-Stars. A-Rod goes to Chicago in a Manny Ramirez-type deal, with the Yankees picking up $20m a year in sunk costs just to get his stink out of the Bronx.
I agree with Jason that RBI and AVG aren't arbitrary, useless stats. But awarding Cabrera MVP points because Josh Hamilton failed to hit a couple more HRs ~is~ arbitary. (Not that that's what Jason was suggesting.) It can't be the case that Cabrera is more valuable just because his AVG, HR and RBI happened to lead the league. They are what they are. In a year with two historic performances that produced almost equal value at the plate, I give the slight edge to Trout for baserunning and defense.
Why do you attribute Wood's problem with pitch recognition to a natural ceiling? In other words, what leads you to conclude that pitch recognition is a natural ability, like height, whereas the power skill can be developed with better technique? I don't necessarily disagree with you, but it's not obvious to me why recognition isn't a skill that can be improved like any other, either with physical enhancement, like contact lenses or eye surgery, or better deliberate practice. Do hitting instructors in the minors even try to improve players' pitch recognition (other than through mindless hours of bp)?
When you say that a pitcher has a "lack of feel," what does that mean? How is feel different than control and command?
The hits are on the
For what it's worth, I based my guesses almost entirely on the batter's reaction/position. Except for a couple of pitches that were right down the middle, I found it very difficult to devine much of anything from the pitch.
I caught Ubaldo's game in Boston on Friday (not literally), and for what it's worth, I was struck by his physical presence on the mound but completely underwhelmed by his ability to translate that into a powerful delivery. In that game he was just as bad out of the windup as the stretch, he walked with a noticeable limp to and from the mound, and looked shaky when putting weight on his back leg. I would be surprised if leg strength/conditioning weren't a significant factor in his struggles.
If the radar gun can't tell you who's a No. 1 and the numbers can't tell you who's a No. 1, isn't that another way of saying that it's a meaningless concept? Now that Verlander has won the AL triple crown everyone agrees he's a No. 1, but it wasn't that long ago that he had a 4.84 ERA and a low strike out total and people were saying he didn't have what it takes to be a No. 1. As the saying goes, you're only as good as your last game.
Say what you want about Theo Epstein's pitching and defense experiment, but you can't blame the Red Sox's offense for their place in the standings. Despite the injuries, they are currently top ranked in a number of categories, including runs and OPS.
Is it really true that \"objective standards have lost\"? By any standard, objective or otherwise, Rice would be far from the worst player elected to the HOF. You seem to forget that VORP, WARP, JAWS, etc. are just formulas devised by all-too-fallible humans in an attempt, but only an attempt, to better measure baseball performance. Not only were the formulas developed after Rice\'s playing days were over, but you keep tinkering with them each year! What\'s so objective about that? He does pretty well in other \"objective\" measures like Black Ink, HOFS and HOFM. I am not saying that the fear argument should carry any weight -- it was debunked a long time ago -- but I do think you\'ve taken the mythology of your supposed objectiveness a bit too far.