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Higher ceilings also come with higher risks. Kevin is less developed and thus has more of a chance of stalling out or even going backwards, while CJ is more of a sure thing.
Not saying the Angels made the right choice, but it makes some sense, especially for a perennial contender. Then again, considering the position (1B/DH), they should really be looking for high-ceiling players. You don't see many playoff teams with merely average first basemen.
I take some issue with comparing Sabean's comments to Steinbrenner's. Steinbrenner was arguing that his highly paid pitchers (who are, last I checked, professional athletes) are too valuable to be asked to potentially run 90 feet in a straight line, turn, and run 90 more. That's idiotic. The Wang injury was unfortunate, but it was a fluke - MLB pitchers should be able to run the bases without injuring themselves.
Sabean, meanwhile, is arguing that his highly paid, highly valuable baseball players shouldn't be involved in collisions with other highly paid, highly valuable baseball players. Since baseball is supposedly a non-contact sport, I think that's reasonable. Now, openly wishing for Cousins' career to end is a bit excessive, but it's not as dumb as Steinbrenner's comments.
To be fair, though, those stats should take into account where those runners are, and what the situation was when the reliever entered the game. In your example, suppose the middle reliever enters the game up 10-2 with a runner on 3rd and nobody out. If he gives up a ground ball, and the infield is playing back, is it REALLY the pitcher's fault that the runner scores? Conversely, if the bases are loaded with 2 outs, the reliever can very easily get credit for three runners stranded.
Casey Kotchman (.429/.400/.714)
Uh, what? I understand it's mathematically possible, but that's one of the weirdest lines I've seen all year.
If only I could +1 staff comments...
Most of the sabermetric work I've seen focuses on personnel decisions (i.e. the GM level) or in-game tactical decisions and assignment of playing time (i.e. the field manager level.) I'm always encouraged to hear about players such as Brian Bannister who have tried to incorporate sabermetric analysis into their play. Do you think there are opportunities for players to use analysis to improve their games, and if so, are there current major league players who are doing so already? Is it something limited to pitchers and catchers (pitch selection and such) or can hitters and fielders also take advantage of this work?
Ideally, yes, but not all teams are built to win games. If you're a manager on a subpar team (which, granted, the Braves are not) and you do something unorthodox, you're very likely to get fired. If you manage by the book, you stand a somewhat better (though still not great) chance of keeping your job. On the flip side, managers on winning teams are likely to keep their jobs whether they do unorthodox things or not, so again, the incentive just isn't there.
Really, the best time I can think of for a manager to try unorthodox strategies is when a fringe contender is battling for a playoff spot down the stretch. If your strategies are successful, you're a hero. If not, well, you'd probably be fired anyway.
"The book on Francoeur this season may not yet be Bible-length, but it’s definitely Revelations-inscrutable."
Not to be a jerk, but the last book of the Bible is called Revelation, with no s.
"yet he’s still harder to walk than a pet rhinoceros"
is one of the best phrases I've read all year.
Significant is a relative term, here.
I ask because Mora is actually a somewhat decent comp for Bautista. In his mid to late 20s, he bounced around between the majors and the minors, played a bunch of different positions, and generally couldn't get settled anywhere. At age 30, he finally becomes an everyday player, and responds with a slightly above-average season, a very good partial season, and then an MVP-caliber season in 2004.
Obviously Bautista is far more talented than Mora, but he was also shuffled around much more in his early career (the guy passed through 5 organizations in his age-23 season alone.) Seems like a similar story, just much more exaggerated at both extremes.
Out of curiosity, what's the rationale for excluding Melvin Mora? I suppose he could post a negative WARP and screw up the percentages that way, but the odds of accumulating (losing?) enough value in limited playing time are remote.
I've never understood why people criticize teams for relying too much on the home run. Teams with a lot of power also tend to be teams that score a lot of runs (though as the Orioles demonstrate, not always.)
On the other hand, if the Yankees weren't hitting so many homers, people would probably say they can't keep winning without power. Eh.
As an aside, does anyone know where the term 'cheese' for a fastball came from? Bread and butter makes sense, but who associates cheese with high velocity?
Food metaphors all over the place. Makes me wish FJM were still around.
That's not exactly what they've done, though. The Twins have encouraged Liriano to pitch to contact more (there was an article on this a few days ago), they kept him down in AAA while he was clearly ready to come back the big leagues a couple of years ago (granted, they had 5 strong starters at the time) and as recounted in this article, they tried to trade him a few months ago. Not saying that this necessarily proves Jay's point, but he certainly hasn't just been left alone.
While it's not statistically significant, it does make intuitive sense that pitchers who allow less contact would also get more outs per contacted ball. It stands to reason that pitchers who get a lot of swings and misses would also get a lot of swings and near-misses, inducing weak contact and thus easy outs.
Anyway, great article. One of the maddening things about the Twins (not that they're the only organization that does this) is that they seem to try to force players to be something they're not. Hence David Ortiz's lukewarm performance as a Twin, for example. Then again, they tend to win, so who am I to complain?
I don't understand how shortening the regular season would add revenue. Ideas 2 and 4 have merit. I don't really understand 3.
To be fair, you've cited five seasons in an 85-year span. Obviously those weren't the only great pennant races, but still. Meanwhile we've had plenty of one-game playoffs and other races that come down to the wire, usually between teams that are well above .500
The funny thing about the Wild Card, as it currently stands, is that the WC winner is almost always a strong team. It's not unheard of for the Wild Card team to have the second-best record in the league, and they almost always seem to have a better record than at least one of the division leaders. This is despite having one of the other playoff teams in the same division.
Given that, it doesn't really make sense to punish the Wild Card (which, again, is almost always a strong team) while rewarding somebody like the 2006 Cardinals who coasted to victory in a weak division. Give the bye to the teams with the best three records, whether they're division winners or not.
Funny to see Randy Hundley mentioned in an article. Is Hundley the Molina of English last names?
I'm inclined to disagree slightly on that point. Yes, the Rangers wound up with surplus value from Millwood, but that surplus value would have been even greater if he were paid market value at the time of signing. It's still a good signing, but they paid more than they should have.
On the other hand, if paying above market value caused Millwood to pick Texas over some other team, then it was clearly a good choice.
I'm a Red Sox fan, and I still (somewhat grudgingly) am coming to respect Gardner a lot.
Yeah, I see that error too.
I agree that spending a ton of money on the bullpen isn't generally a good strategy, but the Yankees are a poor example. First, they have essentially unlimited money, so this bullpen spending isn't diverting resources that could be better spent elsewhere. Second, Rivera is a historically unique pitcher, a reliever who somehow manages to pitch at a very high level in high-leverage situations every single year. If there's any reliever worth that kind of guaranteed money, it's Mo.
Hmmm. What's the TV equivalent of 'positional scarcity?'
Given that you compared Derek Jeter to a bunch of Best Picture-winning films, I'd hasten to point out that for all the praise he's gotten, he never did win the MVP.
Nor do we know if he was juicing for much, if not all, of his career. The only direct evidence we have, the two failed drug tests, is from very late in his career.
Not saying he wasn't juiced (though as a Red Sox fan I'd prefer to think so) but we don't know either way.
True, but one can also point out that plenty of WS teams have had a 4- or 5- or 6-game losing streak at some point in the season. Why does it matter that this one happens to be in the first 6 games?
Uh, yeah. That's why Steve Phillips is no longer a GM.
Huge SSS alert, obviously, since we're talking about 64 PA last year and one game this year, but if Granderson really has improved against lefties, that Yankees lineup just got a *lot* scarier. Terrible splits are the only thing keeping Granderson from being an elite player.
"Guerrero had 29 home runs and 115 RBIs last season, levels Beltre hasn't reached since 2004, his walk year with the Dodgers."
Uh, wait. Did I just see a BP article use home runs and RBI as a measure of a hitter's worth? As the only measure, even?
First of all, as long as we're going to look at flawed stats, I can point out that while Guerrerro had 29 homers and 115 RBI, Beltre had a mere 28 homers and 102 RBI. Beltre, meanwhile, led the league in doubles (49 to Guerrerro's 27) and beat out Vlad in terms of batting average ( OBP (.365 to .345) SLG (.553 to .496) OPS (obviously) and OPS+ (141 to 122).
Granted, that was the second-best offensive season of Beltre's career, so it's fair to expect some regression, especially given that he'll turn 32 in a week. Still, the man looks out of place on this list, given that he's the only player coming off a really good year.
There's something bothering me about the Best Health/Worst Health ratings - actually, it's more the Worst Health and Big Risk side of things. Yeah, Harang is rather injury-prone, but he's also not someone the Padres are really relying on - they took a fairly low-cost flier on him *because* he's injury-prone. Saying that he has the worst health on the team isn't telling us anything we don't already know. The same goes for Pat Neshek.
Now, someone like Orlando Hudson, a significant health risk who's also the team's starting second baseman - and who is on a multi-year, eight-figure contract - is much more interesting and much more potentially damaging. I suppose that's what 'The Big Risk' is supposed to cover, but too often it focuses on a player who projects to have excellent health. Case in point: 'Big Risk' Mat Latos is green across the board (granted, he's actually injured right now, so the risk is still there).
I'm not trying to be overly critical, by the way, since I'm actually really enjoying these articles. There's just an oddity here - maybe change the 'Big Risk' to be a player who combines an important role with a high chance of being hurt (like, say, Hudson) and have another category like 'Can Least Afford to Lose?' That's what the 'Big Risk' segments have been about - the team's least replaceable player, whether he's healthy or not.
It could, but I'm pretty sure the Brewers have said that Gomez is still the starter. Still, the presence of Morgan could bump Gomez from the lineup if he continues to struggle, sooner rather than later.
Uh. I'm pretty sure the original comment said 'neither Glavine nor Smoltz.' Maddux, as a probable top-10 all-time pitcher, was in his own category.
I guess Halladay isn't a "lock" in the sense that if he tanks this year and next and is out of baseball by 2013, he won't make it. On the other hand, if he were to suffer a career-ending injury tomorrow, he probably wouldn't make it.
Neither of those outcomes is terribly likely, so it's fairly safe to say that Doc will make the Hall of Fame. Oswalt might make it there as well, and Lee has a shot if he can maintain his late-career surge (Randy Johnson lite?)
The issue with anointing an all-time great rotation like that is that by the time most pitchers are Hall of Fame locks, they're sufficiently deep into their careers that they aren't all that good anymore. Maddux and his 4 Cy Youngs would be an exception, but Glavine and Smoltz wouldn't. Looking back, we may well stick this Phillies rotation with the best, but we aren't there yet.
Well, it's not as though the Brewers will play a replacement-level guy at first when Fielder leaves. Somebody, probably Mat Gamel, will have to replace him. Still a dropoff, but probably not the 4 or 5 wins you mentioned.
Further, while the Reds are on the rise, the Cubs are aging and the Cardinals may lose Pujols. Milwaukee should still have a legitimate shot in 2012.
The Brewers have pretty much ignored defense for the last few years. Trading Alcides Escobar for Yuniesky Betancourt (not that Yuni can hit much either, but he's a terrible fielder) was the last nail in the proverbial coffin.
But, uh, yeah. Miguel Cabrera playing shortstop?
Fortunately for the D-Backs, healthwise, Mike Hampton announced his retirement yesterday.
Once again, I wish I could +1 staff comments. So, uh, +1.
First guy that comes to mind is Mike Napoli.
Uh, yeah, I'm also confused by this analysis. Pujols is an elite defender at first and Holliday is above average in an outfield corner. Schumaker and Theriot aren't great, but eh. They'll be fine.
I'm not defending the stat per se, but it's worth pointing out that just as players have good years and bad years at the plate, they have good and bad years in the field. We don't generally bat an eyelash at a player's Runs Created, say, fluctuating by ten or twenty runs from year to year. Why shouldn't their fielding runs saved fluctuate as well?
While interesting, I'm not sure that qualifies as 'shocking.'
In Harper's case, it would be 5 years until eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, since he was drafted so young. But in Harper's case, he has a big league contract, so the point is moot anyway.
Yeah, pretty much. They can keep him in the minors for up to three seasons. In season 4, he has to be in the big leagues for good or clear waivers (which someone of his talent most assuredly wouldn't). But his arbitration clock doesn't start ticking until he's actually on the active roster.
I'm more saying that he's *not* in the same category as Santana or Posey or Wieters (assuming the good version of Wieters ever shows up) than that he's in the same group as Avila or Castro. If that makes any sense.
True, and that's not even counting the top young catchers who just recently hit the big leagues. Santana, Posey and Wieters could all be superstars if everything breaks right. Plus there's some gems of lesser luster, like Josh Thole, Alex Avila and Jason Castro.
"So, here we are, in the good times right now and right here, even without a Bench or a Mike Piazza or a Gary Carter."
Joe Mauer and Brian McCann don't fit in that group? I'll grant that neither can match Piazza with the bat, but their best seasons are right up there with the best Carter and Bench ever did.
Uh, yeah. I thought the sentence in the article was referencing Adam Everett, but it's wrong either way.
Technically, he said 'fantastic,' not 'famous.' While Ryan was an all-time great, his five seasons in a Rangers uniform weren't all that stellar (he was in his 40s, after all.) He's still probably the best pitcher ever to pitch for the Rangers, but Lee may have been the best during his stint with the Rangers.
Well, there's a difference between having 'a finesse-based game' and being 'a pure finesse pitcher.' Likewise, there's a difference between 'above-average velocity for a southpaw' and 'throwing hard.'
Still a funny catch, but it's two sides of the same coin.
Huh. Seems funny that he's on there ahead of some (admittedly borderline) 4-star prospects.
You mean other than #50 being a pitcher and #90 being a third baseman?
Sorry, just couldn't resist taking things a little literally.
Jose Iglesias (#37) is the top four-star prospect on that list, so that boundary is between #36 and #37. There are no three-star prospects on this list.
I have to echo the previous comments here. This is quite possibly the best-written piece I've ever read on BP.
You know, I'm pretty sure that things like that *do* show up in the box score, or at least in the more advanced fielding metrics. Plays made and not made are figured into FRAA (and UZR, and Plus/Minus, and so on) regardless of whether they're intentional or not.
I agree that Sheffield's tanking on defense is distasteful (though we don't really know how much he did it) but the amount of value he provided with his bat so far outweighs it that he's still a legitimate contender. To paraphrase your sentence: "That type of play should have no place in the major leagues, unless you can also put up a 140 OPS+."
The key here is that Pujols plays the least demanding position on the diamond. A decade ago, people said that Ken Griffey Jr.'s contract with the Reds couldn't possibly go wrong. Yeah, about that...
But as a first baseman, Albert has a much better shot at aging well. Whoever signs him will probably overpay, but not by a whole lot.
Umm, do you think games played in April, May, June and July don't count in the standings? Sure, the Dodgers could make a trade at the deadline to fill their LF hole. They'd be much better off if that hole were filled right now.
And despite that, the Giants just won the World Series. Yeah, they were bad for a few years, but an established franchise can stand a few bad years without falling apart.
Leyland: "It's not like we've been a bunch of donkeys."
It seems like the Red Sox are rather lacking in top prospects (trading Kelly and Rizzo will do that) but still have a fair amount of depth in the system. How deep into the top 20 do the three-star prospects go?
To be fair, Wells only takes up one roster spot, so they've achieved a very slight upgrade by consolidating that production. If trading Napoli creates an opening for, say, Hank Conger, then the Angels could improve somewhat.
Still doesn't make the deal any less stupid, though, given that they could have grabbed a bargain-bin outfielder and traded Rivera and Napoli for something that would've cost a lot less than Wells.
"the skipper believes the Angels need improvement across the board if they are to approach their average of 5.5 runs per game of 2009, which sunk to 4.2 last season."
Hey, I have a solution for you. Stop giving at-bats to Jeff Mathis. Give them to Mike Napoli instead.
Perhaps the average level of arm strength is just lower among Japanese athletes. Ichiro's cannon aside, throwing the baseball is not something most imported position players are known for.
Throw in Clemens' seven, and you've got 22 within a three-year span, plus two of the better pitchers never to win the award in Schilling and Mussina. I'm not sure there's ever been so much pitching talent hitting the ballot at once, and those last two guys may well end up being the odd men out.
I also agree (mostly) with the points made by BERSMR and cdt719. The bar for all other positions is more or less set by the last 100-odd years of major league baseball. In the case of relievers, though, it's only the past 30 years, and the position's model has been constantly changing in that time. There aren't enough relievers inducted to really set a standard, especially when you consider that Wilhelm pitched in a very different era and Eckersley spent much of his career as a starter.
Furthermore, I think it's unfair to say no to Lee Smith just because the bar has raised in the past few years. If JAWS determined a few years ago that he was worthy of induction, then as far as JAWS is concerned, he's already a Hall of Famer. If the voters made a mistake by not electing him previously, we shouldn't compound that mistake by leaving him off the ballot based on everchanging standards.
Consider trying to apply JAWS to some of the very very early Hall of Fame ballots, when the only players in were all-time greats even by the Hall's standards: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson, etc. We could be looking at a modern-day Hall of Fame with only 25 members. Right now, that's sort of the situation with relief pitchers, or at any rate it will be once Rivera and Hoffman get in.
Uh. Larry Walker's career OPS+ is 140, and his career TAv is .303. Bichette's numbers are 106 and .262. Park-adjusted, Walker was still an elite hitter. Bichette was an average-ish hitter.
I'm sure your comment was facetious, but making such a claim about Dante Bichette is absurd. The man hit 274 home runs in his actual career. Let's give him the balance of his career, which is parts of 7 seasons, in Colorado instead of Milwaukee, Anaheim, Boston and Cincinnati (a hypothetical, given that the Rockies didn't even exist for the first five years of his career). He may have reached 300 HR, perhaps even a few more. Certainly nowhere near enough to get any serious consideration.
Christina did a piece on that in September, actually. According to JAWS, Pujols is already the all-time record holder at first base in terms of peak value, and is closing in on the record for career value.
Here's the link:
Yeah, I'm guessing the union is pretty upset right now. It's not a pay cut per se, though, because Lee was a free agent. Still means the union will be mad, but it also means they can't do anything about it.
Right, right, the home run cycle. According to Wikipedia, it's been done once in the history of professional baseball, in a Double-A game, by someone named Tyrone Horne. It's also been done a few times in college.
Late-career Bonds was only sort of a TTO powerhouse. He hit lots of HR and had an ungodly number of walks, but he was never a strikeout machine like Thome, Dunn and the like. His career high (excepting his rookie year) was 93 in 2001, and the next three years were 47, 58, 41.
Obviously his total TTO% for those years is high because of all the walks and home runs, but you could almost call him a 2TO player.
The wins record is plausibly breakable, I think. I highly, highly, HIGHLY doubt it will ever happen, but I can think of a perfect storm scenario (guy starts managing in his early 30s, consistently winds up on great teams, goes on and on and on into his late 60s) in which that MIGHT be possible.
But the losses? No chance.
To be fair, he hit only 38 last year. Does that matter? Eh, not really.
Well, what this list seems to show is that the 'aughts,' unlike the nineties, weren't the decade in which a whole lot of great pitchers centered their careers. The first half was dominated by great 90s pitchers who were still at or near their peak (RJ, Clemens, Pedro, Schilling) while the second half has been the domain of younger players that came up in the middle (Santana, Peavy, Felik, Lincecum, Greinke, etc.) The first five guys on this list are basically the ONLY five guys that have been dominant for the entire ten-year span (and even then, Santana and Hudson have dealt with some injury and inconsistency.)
It's tough to be a dominant starter for anything approaching a decade. Only a few guys do it, and only a small percentage of those few guys do it in years that fit an arbitrary clean decade.
That's assuming someone actually signs him in the off-season. If he's a Type A free agent, teams may be unwilling to give up their first round pick just to get a setup reliever, even one as good as Downs.
The Jays may be looking at a sign-and-trade situation, or failing that, just re-signing him and trying to make a deal at next year's deadline.
Maybe not, but surely some coaches and managers do. I seem to recall a Manny Acta quote from a few years ago to that effect, for example. So it's theoretically possible that a hitting coach somewhere would pass this information along to his players.
That said, I doubt there's much in this interview that normal MLB scouting wouldn't have figured out.
Well, minor-league pitchers get hurt too. So the ones that get called up are guys who, just like the big-league guys, have already passed through previous parts of the season unscathed and are thus probably pretty durable. Plus, minor-league fill-in guys tend to get rotated in and out, and the lower workload tends to reduce injury risk.
With all that said, this is still probably a pretty small factor. But I'm guessing it matters a bit.
Third base is an odd position - it's considered to an offense-oriented spot, yet the defensive tools needed to play there are comparable (if not quite equal) to those needed to play second or short. Many prospects who can hit like a third baseman should end up being moved to another position by the time they hit the big leagues (Billy Butler, say) or early in their major-leage careers (Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun, Albert Pujols.) I seem to recall Kevin saying that most of today's top 3B prospects have potential positional issues as well.
Conversely, prospects that can field the position well often have bats that would play at second or short, but not at third. It's a very difficult place to find a talent that fits.
Only two? The amazing thing about the NL East is that besides Heyward and Stanton, the Phillies have Domonic Brown (the best prospect still in the minors, according to KG), the Mets have Fernando Martinez (their #2 prospect going into the season, though he's been rather disappointing to this point in his career) and the Nationals, of course, recently drafted Bryce Harper. If everything breaks right (admittedly, that's a big if, especially w/r/t Martinez) the top 4 or 5 right fielders in the game could ALL be in the NL East within a few seasons.
Evidently signing a center fielder as a free agent is just an all-around bad idea. Only 3 positive WARPs in the whole class... ouch.
Granted, that wasn't a terribly strong class to begin with. Still, you'd expect players like Ankiel and Cameron to be at least above replacement level.
Blind Chicken Finds Kernel of Corn
I'm 99.999% sure that Roberto Clemente is the all-time hits leader, and probably the leader in most other offensive categories as well.
The other piece that throws off these preseason projections is in-season trades, which tend to make the bad teams worse and the good teams better, thus making overall run differentials more extreme than they would have been if every team had kept the same exact players.
For example, the Red Sox acquired Victor Martinez at last year'd trade deadline, which by itself accounts for a significant chunk of the 25-run swing between their projected and actual runs scored. Then again, the Indians scored more runs than their projection despite trading Martinez away, FWIW.
"Ryan and Halladay were two of nine pitchers to hit the disabled for Toronto; together, they cost the Blue Jays $2.4 million with their injuries."
Technically true. However, the Blue Jays also paid Ryan $5 million or so last year after his release, and still owe him $10 million for next year. Granted, he was 'healthy' at the time of the release, but Toronto is still on the hook for the entire back end of the contract because he physically broke down. In that context, it seems a little odd to praise the Blue Jays for "saving" $9 million compared to the league average.