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Performing a postmortem on a high-profile arbitration case from the past.

While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.

We've been conducting mock arbitration cases at BP for the past two weeks, but back in Eric Gagne's heyday, Gary analyzed how his actual hearing might have gone down in the piece reprinted below, which was originally published as a "6-4-3" column on February 28, 2004.
 


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February 21, 2012 3:00 am

Western Front: Runs? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Runs!

5

Geoff Young

Given their overturned offense, will the 2012 Giants be able to improve their won-loss record from 2011?

Not long ago, while discussing the anemic offense of last year's Mariners, we noted that 10 MLB teams scored fewer than four runs per game in 2011. Only two of those teams finished with a winning record. The San Francisco Giants represented the most extreme case; they won 86 games despite having the National League's worst offense.

That got me to thinking: How often has the team with the NL's worst offense finished with a winning record? The answer may come as a surprise.

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June 9, 2010 7:00 am

Changing Speeds: No Contact Allowed Redux

1

Ken Funck

Cubs closer Carlos Marmol is on his way to setting a record for least contact allowed in a season.

As you may have noticed, Stephen Strasburg made his major-league debut last night. While the MLB Network crew virtually doused themselves in superlatives and set themselves on fire before, during and after the broadcast, Strasburg managed to live up to the hype, earning his first win and striking out 14 batters in seven innings without allowing a walk. The interwebs are rife with tales of Strasburg’s poise, his triple-digit fastball, and the command he displayed with his four-pitch arsenal.

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May 1, 2009 12:43 pm

Checking the Numbers: Whiffery

8

Eric Seidman

An evaluation of who's been inducing hitters to swing and miss.

On May 28, 2007, Freddy Garcia took the hill for the Phillies, squaring off against the Diamondbacks in a standard, run-of-the-mill game that would ultimately have no bearing on the standings. Nor would it boast any outstanding feats you'd have cause to recall. Quite simply, the meeting served as the perfect example of a nondescript game that lives in the memories of a few avid baseball fans for one minuscule reason or another. Though Garcia proved to be a bust for the Phillies, he pitched very effectively in this particular outing, missing a flurry of bats. By missing bats, I am not referring to the shorthand for fanning a hitter, but rather the literal definition: he induced a lot of swings and misses. A quick glance at the box score shows that Garcia recorded 18 swinging strikes against the Snakes, an impressive tally, and one he had not reached in almost two years. Swinging strikes are rare in major league baseball, especially when compared to the other events capable of occurring on a pitch, and they usually signal some sort of overpowering of the hitter, whether that's with a deceiving off-speed delivery or an ample supply of late movement.

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Boras, Borris, further Fenway freak-outs, and Jeff Kent's ageless charm.

A LEGEND ASCENDS TO HIS RIGHTFUL THRONE

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July 31, 2007 12:10 pm

The Mill: The Day

0

Baseball Prospectus

Down to the wire on the non-waivers trade deadline.

  • Jim Hendry denies that he's made Felix Pie available, and states that he hasn't talked to Jon Daniels. He's not lying, but once you grasp the mechanics of how a trade is actually made, you'll realize that what Hendry says is not mutually exclusive from the reports that Pie was discussed. It's not just Hendry, Daniels, or any GM that's making calls. It's also a club's scouts, assistants, and even some owners get involved. In the course of those discussions, players get named and then discussed among everybody in the other organization. Teams try to read the other, like poker players. The Indians' DiamondView system is reported to actually have a system for collecting this type of information, with their staff supposedly recording mentions of players year round to try to divine who might be mentioned and who might actually be available. I can assure you that Pie was discussed by at least two teams that thought he might be included in a later offer-offers that never materialized.
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    The Dodgers and Giants start bringing in some reinforcements, while the Twins work to keep what they already have.

    '04 VORP Age Contract J.D. Drew 78.7 29 5 yr/$55 Derek Lowe -11.5 32 4 yr/$36 Eric Gagne 28.4 29 2 yr/$19 Cesar Izturis 29.7 25 3 yr/$9.9 Odalis Perez 49.7 28 3 yr/$24 Like the moves of other sabermetrically-inclined GMs (Billy Beane, Theo Epstein, J.P. Ricciardi), DePodesta's decisions have been scrutinized more than most, with traditional media, casual fans and even statheads ridiculing, scratching their heads, or just plain struggling to keep up. A quick look at some of these signings:

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    February 28, 2004 12:00 am

    6-4-3: Beating Eric Gagne

    0

    Gary Huckabay

    The Dodgers offered a number of $5 million, and Gagne's rep, Scott Boras, offered $8 million. How come the lower number was so compelling? Sadly, the current CBA lacks a clause allowing unfettered access to the process to self-important analysts, so we have to posit a little, and ask around some front offices to hear possible explanations. One NL exec had this to say: "Boras overreached." Not that there's a whole lot of ambiguity in that statement, but after prodding, the exec clarified the statement: "Gagne's in his first year of eligibility, and there's a bunch of comparable guys. They're not as good, but they're a clear baseline from which it'd be easy to convince the panel to work." This is true.

    Gagne wasn't eligible for arbitration until after the 2003 season. During the time leading up to his first arbitration hearing, he earned a renewal-rights-tastic $550,000 after a 2002 season in which he pitched 82.1 innings, allowed 55 hits, struck out 114 against 16 walks, and saved 52 out of 56 games. In short, he was what might be called "pretty good", or, for our less restrained readers, "unbelievably sick and devastating". In 2003, it's safe to say he earned his $550,000, putting up this statistical line for the year:

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    January 26, 2004 12:00 am

    A Study in (Near) Perfection

    0

    Blake Kirkman

    To say that Eric Gagne's adjective-inducing 2003 performance was just another season would be akin to the notion that the Beatles were just another rock band. The truth of the matter, at least in the case of Gagne, is that his season's performance was one for the ages. The all-world reliever was not merely good, he was "Nintendo." Traditional metrics alone, such as his 55 saves and sporty 1.20 ERA, showed enough to make the goggle-wearing Dodger closer the sexy pick for the National League Cy Young Award, while he further impressed by striking out an astronomical 137 over-matched batters in only 82.3 innings. Further proof that his performance was from another world (and no, I don't mean Canada) was his limiting opponents to an eye-popping .133 batting average against. As is most often the case, the traditional metrics prove to be only the tip of the iceberg in discussing Gagne's 2003. For all the strikeouts and saves, the bottom line may best be seen through the realization that Gagne was the best reliever in baseball in terms of preventing runs. His 32.6 Adjusted Runs Prevented, based on the analysis of Michael Wolverton at Baseball Prospectus, represents the idea that Gagne prevented approximately 33 runs more than what would have been prevented by the average major league reliever during the course of his specific 82.3 innings pitched. That's an incredible difference of 3.6 runs for every nine innings pitched.

    To say that Eric Gagne's adjective-inducing 2003 performance was just another season would be akin to the notion that the Beatles were just another rock band. The truth of the matter, at least in the case of Gagne, is that his season's performance was one for the ages. The all-world reliever was not merely good, he was "Nintendo."

    Traditional metrics alone, such as his 55 saves and sporty 1.20 ERA, showed enough to make the goggle-wearing Dodger closer the sexy pick for the National League Cy Young Award, while he further impressed by striking out an astronomical 137 over-matched batters in only 82.3 innings. Further proof that his performance was from another world was his limiting opponents to an eye-popping .133 batting average against.

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    October 28, 2003 12:00 am

    Internet Baseball Awards

    0

    Ryan Wilkins

    As many of our readers were submitting their ballots for the annual Internet Baseball Awards, 11 Baseball Prospectus authors went into the polling booths themselves, voicing their opinions on who should win the major baseball awards this year. Here are the results...

    As many of our readers were submitting their ballots for the annual Internet Baseball Awards, 11 Baseball Prospectus authors went into the polling booths themselves, voicing their opinions on who should win the major baseball awards this year. Here are the results:

    National League Player of the Year

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    Milton Bradley wants to start running more. Eric Gagne is a legitimate part of the Cy Young discussion. And Mariners keep making the Devil Rays look like a race of supermen. All this and much more news from Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Seattle in your Friday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.

  • I Stand Here Cryin': Oh, the humanity. The Indians joined Baltimore, San Diego, and the White Sox as the only teams to lose a series to the Tigers this year, dropping the last three of four this week in Comerica. When Cleveland and Detroit took the field at Comerica, it was astonishing how many players from both sides had been either lost to injury. The lineups from the final game of the series:
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    Milton Bradley is turning into a legitimate superstar for the Indians; Eric Gagne is on pace to have perhaps the greatest season ever for a reliever; and the Mariners' bench is made up of a number of soon-to-be Tigers. All this and much more news from Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Seattle in your Friday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.

    AVG OBP SLG EqA VORP Bradley .336 .440 .518 .342 38.3 Baldelli .309 .335 .446 .278 16.8 It's something we've said before, but it's worth pointing out again; major-league baseball players are the best in the world at playing baseball. They're not necessaily the best in the world at evaluating baseball players. They'll continue to be a part of the All-Star process, but it's not necessarily an improvement over the old way of doing things. Any electorate that would submit more votes for Rocco Baldelli than for Bradley deserves to have its judgment questioned.

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