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Oh I hope not.
Interesting observation regarding B. J. Upton. It reminds me of Bill James' comments regarding Oddibe McDowell years ago. McDowell just kind of glided when he walked. He oozed silky smooth athleticism. He started out his career just fine at the age of 22. But after a few years of not getting any better he just fizzled out. Interesting too was that he was drafted six times including number one overall before finally signing with the Rangers. They had January and June secondary drafts back then.
Stan Musial presented the key to good hitting better than anyone I believe. "Pick out a pitch you like and knock the S*** out of it." Not swinging at pitches outside the strike zone. Crushing pitches in your happy zone. That is the key to hitting. Walks are a byproduct of a guy who is really good at the pitcher-hitter confrontation. Wedge is correct in saying if a guy is just up there looking for a walk, he will get in trouble (behind in the count) quickly and will tend to not swing at,"his" pitches and end up with a batting line like Ackley's. The real question is, is that the reason why Ackley stopped hitting or is it something else?
Bill James had the results for long, medium and short at bats for every player a few years ago. I thought it was fascinating. As it turned out, many, and as I recall most hitters, did worse during their long at bats -- I think it was defined as seven or more pitches. I'd love for this to be something we could find again.
It's common today for announcers and fans to call all long at bats "good" or even "great" at bats. But I thing a guy smoking a first or second pitch into a gap or over a wall is a great at bat.
A huge part of hitting is getting "your" pitch, not having a long at bat. I think we sometimes forget that.
Thanks for this. As a baseball history guy and a resident of Federal Way, this book sounds right up my alley.
Garry Maddox had the reputation of being the best CFer around. How does he measure up?
When I was a kid, when you would get your Topps baseball cards, there were always players who never seemed to be in the packs, but others who were maddeningly frequent. Bill Monbouquette was one of those guys who was in a lot of packs. Five Bill Monbouquettes and no Johnny Callison? What's up with that?
A catcher's ability behind the plate is one of the least understood parts of the game. These articles you guys have been doing regarding pitch framing and all the other stuff is fantastic. Thanks for providing us with so much great information.
I now watch the catcher during games very closely to try to see what he does well and not so well. It's just one more example of there always being lots more to learn about this great game.
Interesting discussion regarding Rollins. As a Phillies fan I can tell you that Manager Chuck says he has two rules. Be on time and hustle.
Rollins was also benched for not hustling before, even when the Phil's were winning divisions and World Series and stuff.
that said, guys jog to first in disgust all the time after popping up in a big spot like he did yesterday.
I think it has a fairly positive effect when Manuel sits Jimmy after something like that. Rollins is a very good ball player. He takes it well when he is disciplined I believe.
Although this isn't exactly much ado about nothing, it's not too big a deal to me.
Rollins runs hard when stealing and hitting doubles and triples and scoring from second on a hard hit single. That helps the team win. Not running as hard as he can after hitting one of his many pop ups or after hitting a routine grounder isn't a huge deal. He might fake it a bit,better though in the future. I'd be happy with that.
Yeah, I agree with this. Figuring stuff out like that will help with understanding defensive stats I'd guess. This is really a fantastic article as well. BP has been bringing some heat this summer with several really fine pieces demonstrating the way SABERMETRICs are maturing as we are getting really good at understanding that there are still a lot of things to learn and a lot of things we still can't solve to certainty. That's what is the coolest thing about all these stats and studies. As Byrum Saam used to say many years ago. You never do know. And that's a wonderful thing.
Indeed. I am also in my 50s. I love Sabermetrics having started to read Bill James' Abstracts starting in 1982. But I also love that someone like Eric Bruntlett can be a World Series hero. I enjoy getting into discussions about WAR and UZR and PECOTA and all that stuff. I hate math but I like to talk about regression to the mean. I even understand some of the BP articles with charts and lots of numbers and complicated formulae. I enjoy talking baseball with friends who don't know much about Saber stuff and care even less. Baseball is the greatest game ever. People can enjoy it at all sorts of levels. My wife, who doesn't know a PECTOTA projection from Bill PECOTA himself likes going to games. I may have an advantage because I'm older and not all that smart anyways. But I really enjoy everything about the game.
If you guys ever get a chance to read any of Roger Angell's great books from the 60s and 70s I'd recommend any of them. He was an essayist for the New Yorker who wrote about baseball at times. He published several collections of his baseball essays. In the one that covers the seasons including 1973, his observations of Mays' struggles in the field are pretty memorable. At least to me as I remember them after a few decades.
This is one of the best articles I've read regarding the whole SABER/Joe Morgan debate. I fell in love with Sabermetrics in 1982 and it changed the way I followed baseball forever (Sabermetrics isn't really all that young).
That said, I've always believed that the Saber numbers don't come close to telling you everything. And for all the reasons Russell stated. I've never been able to articulate this nearly as well as Russell did here and certainly not from the unique position he is in. Being very close to the actual inner workings and having access to stuff we don't gives him a very unique view point regarding this type of thing. It's great to have him back.
Regarding Morgan. He is pretty typical of ex-star players and their attitudes towards the "new stats." He believes he was a great player because he worked much harder than most others and he had special winning skills and the ability to do things that win games and championships that can not be captured by some nerd with a computer.
And really, he's right about that I believe. Morgan played on championship teams. He also played on teams that weren't so great in San Francisco, Houston Philly and Oakland and those teams far outperformed what they were expected to do. So he has an idea about things like intangibles and stuff that can't be quantified.
The way he dismisses "statistics" -- as he calls everything regarding numbers -- isn't really correct. But no one should dismiss everything he talked about either. He wasn't all wrong or always wrong or really even close to it.
13 walks and 5 doubles in 16 games. .397 OBP. Something to build on anyway. Phils have a tendency to draft tool sheds who strike out; don't walk and either run fast or hit really long BP homers. Hoping Greene turns into a more complete hitter.
Type "Hurricane" into Baseball-Reference.com and you come up with Bob "Hurricane" Hazle who, as a 26 year old rookie, hit .403/.477/.649 for a cool 1.126 OPS with the World Series winning 1957 Braves in 155 PAs. He was done as a big leaguer after one more season and OPSing only .583 for two teams in 1958.
You also get the "Hondo Hurricane" -- Clint Hartung. No one knew if he would make the Hall of Fame as a hitter or a pitcher. The hitting part looked better as he went .309/.330/.543 =.872 in 97 PAs as a 24 year old in 1947.
As it turned out, he wasn't really all that good as a pitcher or as a hitter but he lasted 6 seasons as the Giants tried to figure out what to do with him.
No kidding. Jeezus skarski10 grow up.
Ben, you're article was a good one. We Phillie fans have been reading about our club's demise for most of the spring and have been offering counterpoints for a while now. The biggest thing they've done is gone from a great offense, led by Rollins, Utley, Howard and Werth to a team built around dominant starting pitching and a good bullpen. They haven't developed any position player who equal Rollins, Utley and Howard. Not many clubs have. So they are a different team now.
The key to the team is Halladay, Lee and Hamels. It will be interesting to see how they deal with their aging position players. It is absolutely a concern. But not one that can't be overcome.
bflaff's comment regarding the Phils' resistance to statistical analysis reminds me they are pretty good at many of the things the SABER types love. Record setting base stealing success. Solid defense. Great K/W rates from most of their pitchers. Getting the best guy (by far most of the time) in trades. Not using sac bunts or intentional walks much at all.
For an old school club they fielded a pretty durned new school team over the last 6 or 8 years. And I'll take that over an organization that employs a team of computer toting folks that fields a 75 win team year after year ten times out of ten.
Last year, the Phillies got 756 PAs from Wilson Valdez, Mike Martinez, Ross Gload and Pete Orr. They were all awful. Brian Schneider had 139 PAs with an OPS + of 38. From May 1st to the end of the year, Placido Polanco had a .591 OPS while playing with a sports hernia.
This team won 102 games and won its division by 13 games. They have been battling the very issues brought up here as evidence of their downfall for a few years now. Injuries and decline from key players. And yet they continue to win more games than the season before.
Utley is an important factor here. The Phils were the number 2 run scoring team in the NL after his return last season. But they were still 28-18 before he returned. Further, they will have Hunter Pence for a full season instead of Ben Francisco in the outfield. All the news isn't bad for this club.
Their minor league system isn't highly rated but they have some good young relievers who are close to big league ready and some young aces and plenty of tool sheds in the lower-mid levels. A few of those guys pan out and we're talking a pretty good system as has happened pretty much for the last many years starting with Rollins; Utley and Howard and continuing to Dom Brown and Vance Worley.
Aurelio Rodriguez' baseball card when he was an Angel was actually the batboy. 1965 or so. I have the card which is the only way I knew the slick fielding Rodriguez was an Angel.
The Phillies won the NL East by 6 games last year. Oswalt was great but he wasn't a 6 win guy in 1/2 a season.
Ibanez has some crazy weird home/road and lefty/righty splits so far. He's a funny player. Has looked cooked hundreds of times during his long, late-blooming career.
The thing that's weird about Bautista is he was really not much good until last season. He was a utility player who could play a lot of positions, didn't hit for much average, had a little power and would take a walk. Guys like that don't turn into Barry Bonds.
The guys who had really good careers after age 30 after not doing much beforehand are knuckle ball pitchers, Jamie Moyer, and some guys who were held out of the big leagues due to wars and racism.
Two guys who weren't pitchers (or delayed by war or other bad things) that I can think of who were really good in their 30s but not so much in their 20s are Raul Ibanez and Hank Sauer.
There may have been more but I can't think of them. It's just really rare. And, so gar, Bautista has been the most remarkable in my view.
What's going right. Felix; Smoak and Pineda.
What's going wrong. Everything else.
I like that guys like Chass are still writing stuff like that. The more they write and talk, the more silly they sound and the more folks who actually like to think and stuff will get interested in the "newer" stats (many of the "new" stats and ideas are getting into their 20s and 30s) and the newer ways of looking at baseball.
Even in the main stream media you see and hear more and more new ideas being written and talked about. The folks who want to learn more will. And those who want to stay stuck in the "good old days" (that never existed which is another huge glaring weakness in Chass' arguments) will do so regardless.
But guys like Chass provide a very good point of departure for explaining the more realistic look at baseball and statistics and how things really work.
So I'm glad Chass keeps writing this stuff.
I watched that movie with my wife on AMC a long time ago. We still sing the San Francisco song in that idiot J. McDonald voice on occasion. And, in fact, I sing it for Ben Francisco as well. (The only words I actually know are San Francisco thgouh -- we go La-La-La-La-La-La for the rest -- you probably have to be there).
Anyways, Francisco is an OK player but I think his defense isn't good and we'll miss Werth for that reason as well.
BTW, I'm almost certain the Phils tried Utley at 3B one year in the minors and it wasn't pretty.
Get well soon Domonic.
Further, that ball was incredibly foul. Not close. And Halladay had the best view of it. That was an umpire mistake, not a baserunning mistake. I'm glad Halladay didn't aggravating his injury by running on that play.
Technically, it was a mistake by Halladay by not running but it was really understandable and overall a good thing for the Phillies. It advanced the runners and kept Halladay from having to run the bases.
I think fans of all teams believe that. I know Phillies fans believe it ab out our heroes. I think it happens once in a while so it gets burned into our memory. It would make an interesting study I'd bet. I have a feeling good teams facing no-name pitchers crush them at a pretty good rate. But we tend to remember the frustrations of when our guys get hamstrung by some guy no one ever heard of.
>>>>>>We should definitely be aware of that, but that shouldn't stop us from trying to improve and it doesn't give sabermetrics' detractors a free pass.<<<<
That's really the point of the article though. No one gets a "free pass." Both the 100 percent saber detractors and the 100 percent "stat geeks" have weaknesses in their arguments that are not insignificant.
Like slideric above said (quoting Bill James): "The more we learn, the more we realize there is to learn."
Recently I read someone who said pitcher wins are a "meaningless" stat. To me, this kind of thinking is the epitome of the kind of thing Tommy is talking abut. Yes, wins aren't nearly as important as they used to be. And in a small sample size like a single game or even a single season, they don't have as much meaning as they do over the course of 4 or 5 seasons or a career. Not a lot of guys win 10-15 games a year. And if they do has meaning and value. Even if it isn't a sabre number.
I think it's important to understand that we can't "know" everything and also understand how that effects the new metrics we use.
I understand you not wanting to keep pounding the dying horse Verducci Effect issue but I just have one observation. Jurrjens' innings increase between '08 and '09 was only 26.2 innings. Why would he even be mentioned regarding the effect since Verducci's magic number is 30 innings pitched?
Morganna started in the early 70s. I remember Jim Bouton writing about her in his second book.
I'm very glad to see Colin spelling out the continuum of force standards here. It's one of the few places I have found that actually tried to bring some good facts to bear on this issue.
That said, here's some stuff from a study after the Seattle PD used the taser for a year:
"Both officers and subjects reported low rates of injury during Taser incidents as compared to other use of force situations.
In 68% of the incidents, subjects sustained only puncture abrasions from the darts, or no injury.
Some injuries occurred prior to deployment, and some injuries occurred as subjects fell to the ground after being hit with Taser darts. No subject injuries were major, and no injuries were directly attributable to the Taser.
The low injury rate associated with the Taser is one of its biggest selling points for officers. Taser officers frequently reported to trainers how much they appreciated having a tool at their disposal that can resolve incidents "without anyone getting hurt."
The Taser was found to be an effective "less than lethal" weapon that can be used to temporarily disable or stop suspects/attackers."
Police officers are trained pretty thoroughly on the continuum of force stuff. The questions here are: is taser use considered a compliance technique?; was this simply active resistance?; should tasers be used as a compliance technique?; how safe is a taser really?
One interesting thing I've read while researching this issue is many police departments require their officers to be "tased" as part of the training.
I think you can make a case that using the taser was safer for everyone as opposed to tackling and pig-piling the kid. Both officers and criminals get hurt all the time in those situations.
In this case the taser did its job exactly as it was supposed to. The question is, should this be normal procedure to stop fools when they're running on a field of play?
When researching this, I found it difficult to get a balanced view on these devices. They are called torture devices and are said to be the cause of hundreds and hundreds of deaths. They are also said to be great ways to subdue suspects and they greatly reduce the chances of anyone getting hurt.
I don't think there's a simple answer to this. We need more balanced reporting on this issue. I'm not really hopeful of that happening though.
I've read a couple of articles that indicated that as well. But MOST of the things I find already accept the effect as something real but I've always had some doubts about it. I've always been kind of skeptical about the whole "effect" except that it's not a bad idea to not have a big increase in workload with young pitchers. I'm not sure there is anything magical about 30 innings.
Can you (or anyone else) direct me to the articles you have read regarding this issue?
This whole Verducci Effect thing is kinda confusing to me because there is no context associated with it -- no comparison between the rule of 30 guys and other groups of young pitchers. And what do you do with minor league innings?
Regardless, near as I can tell Jurrjens had a big jump in IP (how big depends on how you count minor league innings) from 2007 to 2008. From 2008 to 2009 he went from 188.1 to 215 which doesn't make the 30 inning Verducci limit. So Jurrjens shouldn't count as a rule of 30 victim, right?
Am I missing something?
Anyway I understand the work load thing as a red flag and I agree with that. You gotta be careful with young pitchers.
Kaiser Wilhelm the pitcher would be a good one to do some time. He's certainly very dead. Interesting career for a guy named after an enemy leader. Kinda like if there was a big league pitcher named Saddam Hussein now I guess.
Phils 8 hit, 16 walk attack results in a win but I forget the score. I think it was 13-6. Big win for the Phils coupled with their late inning heroics vs. the Yanks today. This team never quits!!!!!
Baseball is back -- Yay.
I thought that too. But I think someone already came up with Total Average. Indeed, it was Tom Boswell way back in the 70s.
I do like the idea of using simple words to describe a new age stat instead of acronyms. One thing I'm tired of is guys making fun of new age stats because they sound funny -- VORP; WAR; stuff like that.
Here's another way to look at it. Last season the Phillies top four starters (in games started) were Blanton; Hamels; Happ and Moyer. Eight other guys had starts for a total of 51 starts!
While Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez were two of those guys, Brett Myers; Chan Ho Park; Rodrigo Lopez; Andrew Carpenter; Kyle Kendrick and Antonio Bastardo were the others.
Almost all teams get a pretty high number of starts from guys who aren't in their original first four or even five. The battle for the 5th starter really pales in comparison to the number of starts given to mid season trade guys and injury replacement guys and guys who get called up to replace someone who just isn't doing the job.
I think a lot is made of who is going to be the 5th starter in the spring but it doesn't end up being as important as who are going to make all those other starts.
Thanks for the update Will. I'm sure there are studies regarding the YAE/Verducci effect. But when I google it I get 22,000 plus hits and almost all of them seem to be articles describing the effect and saying how good it is and listing the next season's "victims." I did find this one by our very own Eric Seidman (I refer to him as Our because he's a fellow Phillies fan):
Anyways, here's something I agree with 100 percent:
"If it’s there or not there at a deeper statistical level — and I’ll be honest, I don’t have a firm grasp on Jeremy’s methodology — it’s great that we’re looking at it. I think on a more superficial level, it’s still a nice rule of thumb. I know there are others looking at it, but I do want to point out that I think the stats are much less important than getting to the root of the problem: how do teams effectively manage the health and workload of starting pitchers?"
I don't mean that it's useless. But let's not make more of it than it is. I think this rule is being treated as ground breaking and really informative and I just don't think it is. To be honest, what is the difference between a "rule of 30" and saying you should be careful with young arms? It's Ok as a rule of thumb. Rules of thumb aren't a bad thing. But doing a study that compares rule of 30 breakers vs. non rule of 30 breakers isn't that hard to do for someone with time.
Actually, I have a lot of problems with PAP and the 100 pitch limit. Most of the studies that have looked at both have concluded that it hasn't helped to limit pitchers to 100 pitches as if 100 pitches is some magic mark. Today, you see very few 120 + pitch games. That's a good thing. But there's no reason to believe that breaking the 100 pitch mark is a problem.
Being careful with young arms -- and even older arms is a good thing. But I don't think the rule of 30 tells us that much. And I'd like to see it studied a bit and fankly I'm surprised it hasn't been.
Last year alone, Kershaw, Jurrjens and Lincecum all had lower ERAs and didn't break down. Further, as previously mentioned, Hamels and Pelfrey's performance were both about the same despite elevated ERAs. John Lester's ERA went up but his xFIP went from 4.08 to 3.13 and you'd be hard pressed to prove he was worse last season than the year before. In fact he was better in every way except for a .20 rise in ERA that can probably be explained by BABIP. John Danks was a tad worse last year but not something out of the ordinary for any young pitcher.
I don't care all that much for the Rule of 30 or the YAE or whatever you want to call it. It's not a study. It's an observation that young pitchers should be treated with some care which I don't think is a ground breaking observation. There is no comparison between those who break the rule and those young pitchers that don't. Aren't ALL young starters prone to up and down years? If you make a list of young pitchers who had a good year and observed that they had an increase in ERA the next year, regardless of innings increase, would it be much different than a Verducci list?
That's what we really need to know and no one has done that. Matt, we're counting on you.
But does it even do this? How does the list of Verducci Effect (or rule of 30 or whatever you want to call it) pitchers compare to any other list of starting pitchers? Or young starting pitchers? Or young starting pitchers who were born in the winter?
I've been following this list for a while. I have read one article from Hardball Times addressing this issue:
Here's the authors conclusion:
The bottom line: a dramatic increase in innings on a young pitcher elevates the risk of injury or a setback to their development.
But the evidence points to the opposite. Pitchers who see a large increase in workload are more likely to continue to be successful than those who don’t. It’s important to remember that correlation does not mean causation—just because throwing a lot more innings than a pitcher ever has before is correlated with future success does not mean that managers should be riding their young pitchers hard—but it does imply that Verducci’s argument is incorrect, and there is absolutely no reason that we should expect these YAE candidates to do worse because they’ve overworked."
I'd like to see a real study that addresses this issue. I hope you guys give Matt a shot at it soon.
I guess it's on some shelves. It's not shipping out to me until the 26th of February or thereabouts. Amazon strikes again. Next year I'll do something else.
McCovey and Cepeda were the first pair that crossed my mind. Those Giant teams of the early 60s had so much talent. And they traded it all away with very little return. The three Alous; Manny Mota; Jose Cardenal; Randy Hundley. Later they traded an excess outfielder named George Foster for Frank Duffy.
I remember the Red Sox had a young Ben Ogilve and Cecil Cooper.
Here 'ya go:
"Also in 1939, at the urging of owner Clark Griffith, American League owners enacted a rule prohibiting the league’s pennant winner from buying, selling or trading players during the following season… the decision had the desired effect — the Yankees finished in third place in 1940."
While it's possible Amaro is really old school and he does have blind spots regarding "productive outs" and other aspects of old school thinking, the results don't support this conclusion. The Phillies, as an organization have been speaking the old school mantra for years now. Manuel, Gillick, Dallas Green (whatever his job is) and other spokesmen for the club are always talking that old school, talk.
But the Phillies as a team are pretty "new school." They lead the league in runs scored nearly every year by getting on base and slugging guys home. They do not use the sac bunt and they steal bases at a remarkably successful rate. The Phillies have for years, done some outstanding work in collecting players by focusing on what they can do rather than what they can't. This is pretty much the heart of new school thought.
Regarding Manuel, the 2009 Prospectus Annuel said this: "Manuel may not be the classic, generalized ideal of a sabermetric manager, but if there's a good reason why not, we'd like to hear it . . . appreciation of his skill in game and roster managment is probably best observed on the diamond, and not in the interview room."
I think the same is probably true regarding Amaro.
Manuel selected Werth to be on the team. Victorino was voted in by the fans.
I agree 100 percent. The Phillies were probably the best team in baseball by the end of last season and they were much better than the Mets. After struggling with their starting pitching and some guys (Howard in a big way) finally shaking off some long slumps, the Phils were clicking from mid August on.
They were 38-15 over their last 53 games. That isn't luck. They were a very fine club. The Mets lost out to a better club as did the rest of MLB. The best team doesn't always win the World Series. But it did last season.
"If Howard were wearing any other uniform, it wouldn't change his numbers at all (actually, if anything, they'd probably be worse overall, since he wouldn't benefit from Citizens Bank Park)."
Lifetime, Howard has very similar home and road OPSs (.972 home/.960 away. Further, he has hit more home runs and many more double on the road. This season, he has 6 home runs in CBP and 12 away from the friendly confines. His OPS is .991 on the road and .834 at home this year as well.
I don't know if Sheehan is biased or not -- nor do I care. I like his articles because he writes well and he inspires me to look stuff up and think about baseball and the Phillies in particular. But this type of lazy analysis is what the complaints are about -- I don't think it's an over reaction by Phillies' fans -- I'm sure of it in my case. It literally took me less than 5 minutes to look this stuff up -- isn't baseball-reference.com grand?
Sheehan writes about Utley playing over his head when his stats are nearly perfectly in line with his career norms (except 55 OBP points highwer than career)and ignores Beltran being well over his head and Wright sporting an OBP 56 points above his career average.
It's all good though in my view. I love this rivalry. And Joe is contributing to it in a big way. He gets a big reaction and that's the point really. Good stuff all around really.
Feliz's four walk game was amazing. The Phillies, due to Manuel and Milt Thompson, have been pretty good regarding getting guys to reach career highs in OBP -- sometimes by a lot. Rod Barajas and Aaron Rowand are two great examples but there have been others. Feliz has fit in to that scheme as he drew a career high walk rate last season and an OBP better than .300 for only the second time in his career.
However, his increase in OBP this season is due to him hitting above .300 more than for any ohter reason. He is a career .255 hitter with a .294 OBP. Now he is hitting .305, which accounts for nearly all of his +60 increase in OBP. When his average drops to the .250ish range, his OBP will be in the very low .300s. A slight improvement to his career numbers but not by all that much.
Feliz really has trouble with pitch recognition. He's trying to do better with the Phils it seems, as the Phillies are really an OBP type team. But he really doesn't look like he sees pitches all that well. He does hit them pretty well when he does get one in his zone though.
Another thing that's interesting about Feliz is he has some pretty nice clutch numbers throughout his career. I wonder if a talented hitter who has trouble with the pitch recognition thing (if that's possible -- but it seems to be the case here) has some kind of advantage in the clutch.
The Phillies used to get a lot of guys like this. Veterans who could really hit some. Jay Johnstone was one of my favorites. He had four really solid years for the Phils who picked him up for pretty much nothing. Johnstone had that crazy bad year with the Sox in '72 (.188 BA). But he really hit well for the Phils and then lasted until he was 39. He also had that LCS when he went 7 for 9.
Bill Robinson, Del Unser, Greg Gross, Jim Eisenreich, Wes Covington, Pete Incaviglia -- I'm sure there's more. The Phils of my youth and beyond seemed to have a knack for picking up good hitting spare or platoon outfielders.
Utley is way down statistically so far this season. Dewan's system uses video review and it's supposed to be more sophisticated this season.
I think the system goes hand in hand with watching the games. The two (stats like +/-; UZR, et. al. and watching the players) go hand in hand I believe. Visually, the difference between Howard this season and previous ones is pretty remarkable. Howard has always been pretty athletic but he was clumsy and tentative in the field. He worked very hard in the off-season with Sam Perlozzo and it seems to have made a big difference this season. He also dropped some pounds which helps. I think the stats are bearing it out. He is, in my view, a much improved fielder.
Actually, when teams bring in those often not-that-great lefty pitcher in to pitch to the lefty heavy Phillies, it's not a bad thing sometimes. Utley hits lefties pretty well. Werth crushes them. The Philies, as a team, have done very well vs. lefties in recent years. So if Howard's presence in the lineup encourages teams to use more kinda-lousy lefties vs, them that's a good thing.
Yes. Every year too, you get all the snub articles after the selections are made. I really dislike this part of the ASG thing. No one gets "snubbed." Guys get selected for various reasons and for good reasons almost always. Other guys don't. That's the way things like this work and always will.
The "snub" pieces and talk always strikes me as quite silly for the most part. There is no single criteria for making an All-Star selection. Career achievement is a good reason to select a guy; a guy having a great start of the year like Ibanez -- that's fine too. How about a guy like Fukodome last season? Sure, why not? There's no reason to ever get all buggy regarding All-Star selections ever.
There may have been a handful of selections over the years that have defied any logic. But for the most part, guys who go to the game are selected for a good reason -- the reasons aren't always the same. If Toby Harrah has a great first half some year and starts an All-Star game instead of George Brett I think that's just fine. As far as I know Toby was a fine man and I like that had a chance to be All Star starter over George Brett one time. (I'm not sure that actually happened but I remember that was a debate thing one time -- should Harrah start over Brett based on a half season of near greatness?).
Oh crud. I meant to add to the second paragraph that while it wouldn't be bad to get a Willingham type to occasionally sit Howard vs. a lefty starter, platooning him makes little sense.
Platoon Ryan Howard talk is pretty silly unless you also advocate platooning Adrian Gonzales who has a .738 OPS vs. lefties.
It would be a good thing for the Phils to get a good right handed hitter for the bench and to sit Howard vs. lefties once in a while. Willingham is a great example of the type.
Howard, by the way is not big and fat right now (well he'll always be big but he looks rather svelte now) and has also been pretty sparkling in the field this season -- and the no errors thing is only part of it. His defensive improvement looks very real -- he worked hard to do so and it took I believe. Dewan's +/- system has him at +5 -- tied for 2nd in the big leagues. Dewan's system is far from flawless and might not be as good regarding first base defense, but it's something that shouldn't be ignored either I don't think. His defense, his throwing and his digging out throws and snagging the other wild tosses has resulted in a miniscule number of infield errors for the Philas as a team.
Further, Howard is pretty unique. He hits many home runs to the opposite field, which makes him a different type of hitter compared to the big, fat guys that tend to go south soon after turning 30.
Howard has been over rated by some -- I don't think there's much doubt about that. But when he gets on a roll, he can nearly carry a team by himself. I think there's some value to that. He is not a platoon player any more than Gonzalez is.
I think what would change things is that a team tries it and it works. This will be a tough thing but that is how most changes occur in baseball. You are absolutely correct in managers are going to lose their jobs quickly if they do this and they don't succeed with it. So it will take a set of circumstances that would allow the manager to make the necessary changes and keep his job when it doesn't work out sometimes. But if his team wins the World Series or something, then the media gets on board and other teams start to use it and all of that good stuff.
The evolution of the relief pitcher is very interesting. Use of relievers has changed throughout baseball history and I think it will again. The media tends to be the followers here and not the leaders. Once a manager makes a new use of relievers successful, the media follows along.
Today's Braves game was a perfect example of a great time to bring in Gonzalez (in the 7th). He could have faced the lefties and chances are he would have gotten out of the inning with the lead. And they still had Soriano to close. Cox ain't going to get fired anytime soon most likely. And the Braves really have two closer type guys anyway.
(The Braves' weaknesses were really exposed in this game. Other than fragile armed Gonzalez and Soriano, their bullpen is pretty shaky. And Chipper and Anderson are hurt already).
Jeff Clement will start the season in AAA Tacoma and Morrow will be in the bullpen -- maybe as the closer.
Regarding the Mantle hip problem. If I remember this right, he went to get a shot from some quack celebrity doctor for a flu bug he picked up somewhere. Anyway, the quack doctor botched the injection resulting in a really nasty infection/abscess/mess.
He missed the end of the '61 season ending the Mantle half of the Mantle/Maris 60 homer chase.
Utley thinks he\'ll be ready on April 5th. Of course, the player himself is not the best person to ask. But he has been running and taking grounders already. He\'s making good progress it seems.
I don\'t know. I think they finished the season as a pretty good bullpen. They did have a quick start. But they didn\'t regress all that much. The main guys -- Lidge/Madson/Romero/Durbin/Condrey allowed 13 1st half homers and 11 second half homers. Unfortunately, the first half was 96 games and the second only 66 at the BR page that I looked at. Maybe someone can find better data somewhere. Still, an increase but not a huge increase in HR allowed.
Further, Lidge got Hurdled at the All Star game and struggled some in July as a result. He gave up his two homers while recovering from the 53 times he warmed up that night. He was nails again by the end of the season and during the playoffs.
Perhaps the Phils\' bullpen wasn\'t the best in baseball by the end of the year as Joe predicted. But they were still pretty durn good. Ask the Mets, Brewers, Dodgers and Rays.
Still, you make a good point. Expecting Lidge to do as well as he did last season might be a bit much. But the Phils\' bullpen looks to me to have several guys who have been mostly good throughout their careers.
I don\'t think so. Romero was pretty Romero like. Madson added a lot of giddyup to his fastball last season but he has been a good reliever for years now. I don\'t think he\'ll lose the MPH off his fastball. They only had Eyre for a short time but he pitched like Scott Eyre for the team -- not really out of the ordinary. Even Durbin, who was good, had been pretty good as a reliever prior to last season. Gordon was hurt and bad pretty much. Seanez was pretty much normal Seanez.
The big thing with the bullpen was they suffered very few injuries. That and Lidge was unbelievable.
Another thing that might help the Phils cause is they have some guys like Happ, Carrasco, Donald and Marson that look capable of helping the team this year at some point. Last year they really didn\'t get much help at all from the farm (well, Happ made some good starts).
Mine is not shipping until March 2 according to my account information. I hope it\'s wrong. Last year they sent that erroneous message that the shipment was going to be delayed for many weeks. I ended up cancelling last year and went to Barnes and Noble or someplace.
Gotcha. Here\'s hoping (from an Phils\' Phan perspective) that Myers can put in a full season of good pitching; Blanton has one of his good years and Happ (or someone holds down the 5th spot in good order. The Phils had few pitching injuries last season so we really need another good season in that respect too. Can\'t wait \'til it all starts and thanks for a great article and informative replies.
I\'m just saying those years weren\'t career years, as defined as a year that is not in context with the rest of a guy\'s career. Moyer has had many season\'s as good as last year. I don\'t think last year will be Hamel\'s best -- it could be but he certainly looks like a stud right now. Madson threw 77; 87 and 134 innings in 2004-2006. He\'s always been a workhorse. Further, his 94-97 MPH fastball that he unveiled last year isn\'t going away any time soon I don\'t think.
I really don\'t think the Phils had all that many career years out of their main guys and, in fact, several guys were below their norm. Carlos Ruiz is another guy who had a season that was far from a career year and who should improve from last season.
Right now, I see the Phils and the Mets as very close with the Phils probably having a slight edge.
I\'m not sure the Phils had all that many career years last season. Lidge for sure. Durbin I guess but he wasn\'t THAT good. Anyone else?
Howard was off his norm. Rollins too. Utley was battling the hip thing most of the season. Myers got sent to the minors for a time. Blanton has been better. Hamels didn\'t seem to be pitching over his head. Madson\'s gains last year looked real as his velocity incresed significantly. Victorino and Werth played within their capabilities in my view while Jenkins had his worst year ever most likely.
The Phils ran Eaton and his horridness out there for 19 starts and Kendrick was getting his head kicked in for most of the second half. There\'s a decent chance the Phils get better starting pitching this season. Ancient Jamie Moyer might be the key there.
I understand the point regarding championship teams riding career years to glory. The White Sox did so with many of their pitchers a few years ago. A team close to all Philadephian\'s hearts -- the \'93 squad rode many career years to a superb NL championship season.
But I don\'t see last year\'s world champs really riding a bunch of career seasons to the Big Broad Street Parade.
Also, right now the Phils seem to be indicating that Utley will be ready for opening day. That would be pretty big. If Ibanez can keep his late career hitting spree going for another year, the Phils look to be sitting fairly pretty right now. Time will tell of course.
I wonder how many folks thought Casey Stengel would make a good manager when Case was an active player?
I think Cabrera was pitching with a hurt arm last season. His performance got worse as the season went along.
Another difference between these two pitchers is Perez has had some good seasons while Cabrera never really has.
Robin Yount\'s brother Larry belongs somewhere. He hurt his arm warming up for his debut and never pitched at all. But he was announced as the starter so he\'s in the book.
The Rays simply are not deeper and better than the Phillies. That\'s a myth. The Rays have Dioner Navarro hitting sixth and Ben Zobrist and Gabe Gross in their World Series lineup. The end of the bench guys might be somewhat better, but they aren\'t too relevant in the World Series. Who cares if some Rays are better than Clay Condrey and So Taguchi.
The Phils starters, right now, are better than the Rays\' guys. Moyer was great almost all year and his two bad post season starts don\'t make him worse than Garza -- who was pretty mediocre away from home.
Myers has been mostly great since his return from the minors. Blanton has been very good for the Phils -- especially recently when it counts.
The Phils bullpen, led by guys who have been good for years, Madson, Eyre, Romero and Lidge is better than the rays buch of not so hot pitchers who had very nice regular seasons. Look at the 30 year old Balfur\'s career and J./P. Howell as well.
Price got torched by Bruntlett for cryin\' out loud and hye was one missed HBP call away from real trouble. He will probably be great soon. But I\'m not convinced he is right now.
These two teams were very even going into this series. The AL is better than the NL argument is not a good one. In October, the Phils have been at least as good as the Rays, and I contend they are a better team right now -- which is what counts.
Using season stats are misleading when you are dealing with guys like Myers, who had a terrible start. Blanton is also pitching better now than he did all year.
I think the big reason the Phils are beating the Rays is the Phils\' starting pitching is not worse than the Rays\' youngsters, as has widely been assumed by you and many others.
Overall, the Rays\' pitchers have had better years than Phils\' hurlers as measured by season metrics. But what is more important is the staff as it sits in October. And the Phils\' starters are at least as good as the Rays\' guys.
Sheilds, who only went 5 1/3 innings in his start, Kazmir, Garza and Sonnastine make a nice rotation supported by a very fine defense. But none of them are stud aces. Garza was very muchg helped by his home park and Sonnastine is not really the type of pitcher who can shut down a good lineup consistently, as we saw last night.
Meanwhile, Moyer was excellent nearly all year for the Phils. He had two rough starts in the playoffs but there really was no reason to believe he wouldn\'t pitch well vs. the Rays.
Myers was horrible early in the year and even went down to the minors for a while. But in the second half, he was mostly brilliant. The good Myers is better than any Ray pitcher most likely. Finally, Blanton has also been mostly good with Philly. He\'s not a really good pitcher but he is at least as good as Sonnastine. He is certainly capable of pitching many games similar to last night\'s effort.
I think some of then other reasons you and guys like Keith Law used to over rate the Rays in this series are also flawed. The fact that the AL is better than the NL is not relavent in my view. These two teams are very close in overall ability. The Phils may or may not be as deep as the Rays. But who really cares if the Rays bench guys that don\'t play are better than Clay Condrey and So Taguchi?
I think the reason sports writers and talking heads and guys like that will probably be saying stuff like this for a long time is they feel they must come up with answers to questions that are kinda complicated. And complicated answers sound wishy washy and the public won\'t stand for wishy washy answers.
They feel they must have an answer to the question of why the Cubs lost their first two playoff games at home. So they say it\'s because they weren\'t hungry enough or they didn\'t play with intesity and swagger and that kind of jive. Playoff experience fits in with these types of answers.
Answers like that are easy and simple and impossible to disprove. But they are just made up and don\'t mean anything either.
The real answer is we don\'t know a lot of stuff for sure. But we have data and history and knowledge of why teams win and why teams lose. And experience and swagger and intensity and hunger are easier concepts to spout off about than what studies show.
The fact that a lot of former players repeat this stuff doesn\'t help. Former players like to think they won becasue they had great heart and guts and were just better people than the guys they beat. They don\'t want to say that luck and ebb and flow and secret sauce and other things had a lot more to do with it than which team had more swagger and guts and playoff experience and stuff like that.
So the writers and talking heads feel they must have an answer to those questions. And the answer can\'t be based on some kind of study of the issue. It must be something simple that you can rattle off quickly and most of your audience will nod their heads and say \"that\'s right.\"
I\'d say the Phils have a fair understanding of statistical analysis. They have been a team that has been near the top or at the top of the league in OBP and slugging for much of this decade. Those are the two most important offensive stats.
They set records every year for base stealing efficiency. Very new school thinking.
They are loathe to give pitchers more than a three year contract (They aren\'t so good at signing the right pitchers at times -- Adam Eaton for example).
They traded for a closer who strikes out scads of guys -- which is a very good thing for a closer to do.
The Phils don\'t really have anyone to play 1B who hits any betteer than Howard vs. lefties. If they had some lefty masher 1B option, maybe they\'d sit Howard some. But I don\'t think they actually would. But they don\'t really have a good option anyway.