Last week, our resident San Diegan Geoff Youngreviewed the things he'd written throughout the year as a matter of his own accountability. I think accountability is bunk, but I also think, as a weekly columnist, that it's worth looking back on the words we write when the season ends. I'm more about description than prescription, but plenty of times, even if that's your game, the thing you're describing ends up behaving much differently than it did before you started describing it. I'm fairly certain that there's no observer effect going on, but who's to say? Maybe it really was me who caused the A's to start hitting.
January 6, 2012, The Wisdom of Uncertainty This was a ProGUESTus piece in which I proclaimed that I don't know nothin' 'bout no baseball. Steven Goldman and Ben Lindbergh didn't get the message and allowed me to come aboard as a regular contributor. I've got nothing to add. Have some Operation Ivy.
Jason Kendall's career may be over, which leaves only the eulogy.
Jason Kendall appears to be retiring for good, which makes it eulogy time. My personal recollection of Kendall from his time in Oakland is of a guy who suddenly forgot how to throw, who had the kind of power that caused pitchers to giggle happily as they motioned their outfielders “in, in, in,” who grounded into altogether too many double plays, … and who was, at the end of the year, an above-average player because he kept his backup off the field and got on base a reasonable number of times for his position and park. There is much more to be said, though, because Kendall didn’t reach the A’s until 30 years after his birth (on which more later), his best seasons having already passed.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Examining the possibility that the Nationals may have signed the wrong person to mentor their young pitching staff.
It’s been an unexpectedly good offseason to be a veteran catcher in Major League Baseball. The Washington Nationals gave 38-year-old Ivan Rodriguez a two-year contract worth $6 million. True, Pudge did win the AL MVP in 1999, but a decade later, he is no longer much of a threat offensively, and his once legendary throwing arm behind the plate has lost some of its thunder. In 2009, 65 percent of would-be basestealers took their base against Pudge, still a good rate, but down from a mere 45 percent early in his career.
The physical toll of catching regularly has affected different players in different ways.
Twenty-two catchers have caught 1,000 games before their 30th birthday. The list begins with Johnny Bench (1,498) and ends with Lance Parrish (1,039). Joe Mauer, newly 26 years old, is not yet on the list, and is still waiting to make his season debut. In the meantime, he's frozen at 498 games behind the plate. Should he average just over 100 games a season behind the plate between now and turning 30, he will join Bench, Parrish, and such luminaries as Pudge Rodriguez and Jason Kendall in this small, historical group. As the wildly divergent career paths of the players mentioned suggest, Mauer's ultimate inclusion in the Mille Catchers group might mean something, and it might not. Consider this a cautionary tale.
The league's best-record playoff team against its worst, but you might be surprised who the favorite really should be.
Who would have thunk that we'd see the Diamondbacks playing the Cubs in a postseason series? Well, you'd might have thunk it if you'd done been reading PECOTA, which predicted both of these mild surprises. That not withstanding, this is not the even matchup that you might expect from two teams that took until the last weekend of the season to confirm their date at the prom. One of these clubs, if fact, has no excuse for losing.
Wrapping up the series on the fine art of pitching where the bat ain't, or putting the bat where the ball isn't.
So it's a long road we've traveled over the past month, looking at non-contact results on the diamond. Fortunately, like all good things, it must come to an end. We ended up last time looking at the leaders in swinging strikeout and looking strikeout rate since 1999 (which is as far back as we have comprehensive pitch-by-pitch data). A few things stood out while looking at those two lists:
Two of the most successful small-market teams in baseball meet in the Division Series--again.
For all the talk of how postseason baseball is dominated by teams in big markets, these two small-market franchises have now accounted for almost a third of the AL's playoff slots since 2000. They play in a pair of universally derided parks, the Twins' Metrodome and the A's Coliseum. The former has always been a target of cracks, while the latter was a nice little park before the Raiders ruined it with an addition in the late 1990s.
We salute those players who most resembled Rob Deer in 2005.
In more mundane terms, the Three True Outcomes (TTO) are those plate appearances
that end without the defense getting a chance to touch the ball, plate appearances that end in a home run, a walk, or a strikeout. What started as a tongue-in-cheek tribute to
a unique player (Deer) has, ironically, turned out to have useful applications
not for batters, but for pitchers, in the form of Voros McCracken's work into
defense-independent pitching statistics.