Silver Slugger awards shouldn't be controversial, but Jason finds a gap remains between advanced metrics and voters.
When you do an article search on this site for the phrase "Silver Slugger," you get 57 results, the first of which, by Gregg Pearlman, is apparently the 18th article ever written for Baseball Prospectus and the most recent of which is Geoff Young's piece about the Padres throwing their heft around the N.L. West this offseason.(That's #19056.) Young's Silver Slugger mention came because Jason Marquis won one. Pearlman was writing about Barry Bonds. (Or really about sportswriters' relationship with Bonds. This was October 1997. We were innocent once, and young.)
By contrast, when you search "Gold Glove," you see just a smidge over nine times the results. (The first of which, hilariously, is another Gregg Pearlman article -- this one includes a lamentation of the J.T. Snow trade—which is numbered "1" in our content system.)
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You could be forgiven for thinking this was a boring postseason. I believe I noted once or twice that few of the games lately have been close. The numbers confirm this. If we use the average leverage index of each game and then average all those games together, we find that the average leverage index of this year's postseason was but 0.97; last year's postseason games had an average leverage of 1.01. For the Giants, the difference between this year's championship path and the 2010 run is even starker: 1.12 two years ago, 0.78 this year. To put that into perspective, 0.78 is roughly the leverage for the batter who hits in the bottom of the eighth trailing by four, whereas 1.12 is roughly the leverage for the batter hitting in the top of the seventh of a tie game.
The Giants didn't play their best five games, but it was good enough to beat a very good Cincinnati team to advance to the NLCS.
If you put enough gas in your spaceship and just keep flying, you’ll eventually get to a planet that looks just like this one. There’s a guy just like you and one just like me, and every letter the guy like you is reading was written exactly like the letters that I am actually writing. The only difference is that, on the other planet, Hideki Matsui was looking for a changeup, but Pedro Martinez threw him a fastball, and Matsui took it for a called strike three. The Red Sox kept their three-run lead. And it took eight years before Grady Little was ultimately scapegoated for a Boston loss and pushed out.
Buster Posey, Alex Avila, and Ryan Hanigan are showing off different techniques in the postseason.
One of the side benefits of the postseason is its place as a sample. You get to see all kinds of different players with varying skill sets, talent levels, and techniques, and all the different ways they achieve success. The downside, if you want to call it that, is when you start noticing minute differences and it becomes a focus. Take catchers and their mitt positioning between setting the target and receiving the pitch. It’s the most-seen, least-noticed part of a catcher’s job. You focus on the mitt to see where the pitch is probably heading and then you shift your attention back to the pitcher once he begins his motion. But not every catcher passes the time in the same way:
Buster Posey is having an extraordinary season, but he's not the first position player to improve after recovering from a serious injury.
When I was a kid, I broke my collarbone. Doctors told us that bones that break tend to grow back even stronger. “You are not broken,” the doctor might have said, as if he were merely a narrative device to be used many years later, “you are getting structural reinforcement!”
Man does that sound like a scam, but here we are in September, and look at Buster Posey. As I write this, he has a 170 OPS+. (If it goes down this weekend, I will probably leave it as “As I write this.” If it goes up, I will update it with the higher figure before publication. Pro tip!) A 170 OPS+ is insane. Mike Trout has a 170 OPS+. Remember how good Mike Trout is? And he’s only 21? Buster Posey is not 21, but he is a catcher. As you know, “And he’s only 21” and “But he’s a catcher” are extremely close to each other on the Factoid Scale:
Vin Scully files away facts about each player, and then he repeats those facts forever. These are the facts he repeats about Buster Posey.
Some people like to read magazine profiles of top athletes, but I prefer to listen to Vin Scully tell their life stories in small chunks over the course of two decades. Tonight, the Giants will play the Dodgers. Buster Posey behind the plate, Vin Scully behind the microphone, as it has been 21 times before and as it will be forever and ever and ever and ever.
Vin Scully’s factoids might seem, oh, repetitive and occasionally arbitrary, but they are actually a very important part of humanity’s future. There will come a day when all the paper dissolves, and there will come a day when Stuxnet erases all of our digital documentation, but there will never come a day when Vin Scully isn’t talking about baseball players. He is the only indestructible repository of historical information that mankind has ever created, and he is our only hope of remembering that Rich Aurilia once worked as a stagehand at the Metropolitan Opera.
We generally don't expect top athletes to choke, but that doesn't mean they don't get just as nervous as you would.
There was a brief period in my life when I was afraid to drive. I had had a near accident on I-5 when I, inexplicably, could not find the brake pedal and had to veer off the freeway at full speed. After that, I drove in dread of missing the pedal again. I tried to visualize myself braking, but even in the visions the nervous part of my brain took over and my visualized foot would just flail dumbly and unsuccessfully. This is what we call choking. A bit of nerves made me unable to perform a basic function. The level of stress it took to cause me to choke was: the threat of having to slow down a car. It did not take a lot of stress to cause me to choke.
We take it for granted that baseball players won’t choke, except in the extremely rare cases when they do. We are aware of those cases, and those cases make sports a little bit unpredictable and exciting, but mostly we take it for granted that they won’t choke. We take it so for granted that we have repurposed the word to describe merely failing in a big situation, which has nothing to do with choking. In a competition between two athletes, after all, one must fail. There’s nothing psychological about it. If you say Alex Rodriguez chokes in big situations, you mean he pops out. You don’t mean he forgets how to swing and holds the bat upside down.
Baseball's Cousin Oliver, baseball's do-gooder cartoons, baseball's sadistic game show, and the most soap-opera name ever.
If you follow the entertainment industry, you’ve no doubt heard of upfronts—the annual meeting at which broadcasters preview their fall slate for advertisers. Upfronts are a lavish affair, held at grand venues in New York City. TV networks delivered their upfront pitches two weeks ago.
What you may not know is that Major League Baseball also holds upfronts for their prospective sponsors. This year’s event was on Friday, May 18 at the Office Suites of Bayonne in the Gateway Region of New Jersey. Baseball Prospectus’ entertainment correspondent, Ian Miller, attended this year’s event, and has these highlights of fall baseball programming. Part 1, the American League, appeared last week.
Buster Posey was injured one year ago, but hits like Scott Cousins' are less celebrated than they were three decades ago.
It was a year ago today that Scott Cousins ran over Buster Posey. That was such an obnoxious thing, I'm sure we can all agree. Support collisions fine, don't support collisions fine, but we can all support Buster Posey and bipedal locomotion.