The question of cultural competence is one of the struggles that will define the next generation of Sabermetrics.
"The game is becoming a freaking joke because of the nerds who are running it. I'll tell you what has happened, these guys played Rotisserie baseball at Harvard or wherever the f--- they went and they thought they figured the f---ing game out. They don't know s---.” –Goose Gossage, March 11, 2016.
Finding a place in today's game for one of the great baseball gambits.
I love the Belanger Gambit. It is, perhaps, my all-time favorite baseball thing, the thing I would pick first if I were drafting baseball things. For those who don’t know, here’s how the Gambit goes. Back in the 1970s, Earl Weaver loved having the sparkling glove of shortstop Mark Belanger in the lineup every day for his Baltimore Orioles. When Weaver preached “pitching, defense, and the three-run homer,” Belanger was a huge pillar of that second tenet. On the other hand, and much to the chagrin of his manager, Belanger couldn’t hit a lick. His glove work at shortstop was usually more than enough to outpace his problems at the plate, but he usually put a dent in his team’s offense. His .231 career True Average is (to the delight of baseball history nerds!) the same as that of Aurelio Rodriguez, but also (more helpfully, to you who want to get a sense of who he was as a hitter with some familiar context) halfway between those of Ozzie Guillen and Royce Clayton.
Mark Belanger, Offensive, Defensive, and Value Statistics, Prime Seasons
Arizona and A.J. Pollock aren't on an extension path, while Cespedes is a possibility in Houston--or, at least, an unlikely possibility.
D’backs table extension talks with A.J. Pollock
Few players did better for themselves heading into their first tour of arbitration than A.J. Pollock, who delivered a 5.4 WARP campaign on the strength of 39 doubles, 20 homers, and 39 stolen bags. The 28-year-old bloomed late but has established himself as a star-level contributor, the sort of player teams are eager to lock up as free agency draws nearer. Unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, while they’ve accomplished a lot this offseason, locking Pollock up long term may have to wait.
The federal government gets into the sabermetrics biz.
Last week in Federal court, former St. Louis Cardinals executive Chris Correa was indicted on, and pleaded guilty to, charges that he improperly accessed the Houston Astros’ database, Ground Control, on multiple occasions. Before we go any further in this article, let’s get something out of the way. What Mr. Correa or anyone else involved in the case did or did not do is a matter for the FBI to investigate and the courts to adjudicate and I will leave that in their hands. Correa is quoted in the article as saying that he “trespassed repeatedly” and that he accepts responsibility for the case. Everyone else, not surprisingly, has largely declined to say much else.
What Kyle Gibson does that is almost, but not quite, unique.
Kyle Gibson had Tommy John surgery on September 7, 2011. The Twins won that day, but they had lost the five games prior to that one, and they would lose the next 11, as they hurtled toward a 63-99 car wreck of a finish. It didn’t much matter, since Gibson wasn’t quite on the doorstep of the majors when he went under the knife, but it would turn out to be bad timing. See, Gibson was back on the mound in miraculously little time, making seven rehab appearances for the Twins’ Gulf Coast League club in July 2012. By the end of that month, though, the Twins were far from contention again, and they traded the expiring contract of Francisco Liriano to the White Sox. Gibson debuted in Minnesota on another losing team a year later, but the ships had passed in the night. Improbably, the Twins developed two pitchers with the same radical, nearly unique approach to their craft within just a couple years of each other, but the pair never shared a starting rotation.
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All the cool teams are collecting relievers again, but are they more like pogs or Magic: The Gathering cards?
Last year, the must-have item of the Winter Meetings shopping season was a catcher with mad framing skills. In a short period of time, Hank Conger, Ryan Hannigan, Miguel Montero, and everyone who owned a chest protector on the Padres roster changed teams. This year, tastes have changed. Now, the new hip thing that all the cool teams have is a crazy good closer. More to the point, a second crazy good closer to pitch in the role once known as “the eight- inning guy.” It’s not enough to have one shoe any more. You need two.
Baseball has been trying to figure this problem out since free agency began. Baseball players are free actors and may sign with whomever they choose—and that usually corresponds to whoever happens to offer the most money. Some teams have more money than others. How to keep the big money *cough*Yankees*cough*Dodgers*cough* teams from simply buying championships and ruining all the fun for everyone else?