A.J. Pierzynski seems to be doing something unprecedented. Guess what: He is doing something unprecedented.
Sometime last week on the Effectively Wild podcast, either Sam Miller or Ben Lindbergh mentioned the great year that A.J. Pierzynski was having, and how interesting it was that he was having such a year at 35, and how further interesting it was that he was having such a year at 35 after never having hit even remotely like this in his major-league life. "Jason, old bean," I said to myself, "Jason, that sounds like a topic that the good readers of Baseball Prospectus, especially the ones who don't listen to podcasts, might want to hear about. Or about which they might want to hear. Either way, they're interested."
Now, if I believe in anything, I believe in a clear and readable structure, so the first fact to establish is that Pierzynski, who prior to this year was mostly noted as a rabblerouser, a part-time playoff announcer who hews closer to Eric Byrnes than Orel Hershiser, and the one-time object of Brian Sabean's early-century fetishes, is in fact having a fantastic year. Here are some numbers: Pierzynski has a .298/.347/.544 batting line that translates to a .306 True Average; he has accumulated 27.2 VORP (which, you'll recall, includes all the stuff you find in WARP except for FRAA, and is expressed in runs above replacement); and 23 homers in 393 plate appearances. (All stats are through Monday night's games.)
Team all-stars by WARP string-where would the pennants stop? Plus, some of the best and worst songs of 1987.
Jorge Posada and the Third-String Yankees
I was asked on the radio last week where Jorge Posada ranked as a Hall of Fame candidate. I responded that he was the third-best catcher in Yankees history in career value, which proved to be a good, not-quite-off-the-top-of-of-my head guess (when someone asks you to rank the presidents, you can play it lose as long as you start with George Washington and not Warren Harding, but when it comes to ballplayers you have to know your Berra-Dickey do-re-mi). I became curious as to just how good the third-best team in a team’s history might be. Part of the fun of following baseball is making lists, and this seemed to be a good excuse to make one.
If we ranked each position by career WARP, how far down would we have to go before we reached a team that wouldn’t win the pennant every year? Would Jorge still get his share of rings?
As new technology continues to change how we evaluate players, Jorge Posada's Hall of Fame case might hinge as heavily on what we don't know about him as what we do.
It’s good to be a baseball fan in the 21st century. Not only is it easy to keep up with the action-packed offseason (which for the Yankees, pre-Pineda/Kuroda, amounted to re-signing Freddy Garcia, Andruw Jones, and Rick Down) at sites like this one, but thanks to the wonders of modern-day technology, we no longer have to wheel out a motorcycle or a piece of army ordnance every time we want to find out how hard a young pitcher throws. We also spend a lot less time arguing about things that aren’t subjective. In the 20th century, debates about velocity went something like this:
Yellow journalist 1: Who throws harder: Jack Pronto or Jack Celerity?
Yellow journalist 2: Pronto. Boy, but does he makes the glove pop.
Yellow journalist 1: That may be, but batsmen can’t catch up to Celerity’s speed ball.
Yellow journalist 2: Batsmen can’t even see the pill when Pronto pitches.
Yellow journalist 1: [Good hitter] said he’d never faced anyone faster than Celerity.
Yellow journalist 2: [Other good hitter] saw Pronto and said he hadn’t been as scared since San Juan Hill.
Yellow journalist 1: Well, Walter Johnson throws harder than either of them.
Yellow journalist 2: Pshaw. Walter Johnson throws slower than my mistress.
Walter Johnson: That’s slander!
Both yellow journalists: /yellow journalist fist-bump
Even in baseball's highest-powered division, some of the players who are paid only to hit aren't living up to their end of the bargain.
With his Red Sox down 10-2 in the eighth inning last night, David Ortiz tried to do what he has done so many times in his Boston career: put the team on his back and slug his way to victory. He flicked his wrists and drove a Will Ohman offering over the Green Monster for a three-run shot, leaving the Red Sox down by only five.
Boston would add a pair of runs in the ninth, but Ortiz wouldn’t get another chance to bat. Already 2-for-4, he would have come up as the potential tying run, and in 2011, two years removed from a very poor season, the aging DH would have drawn lusty cheers from the Fenway Faithful. His looming free agency could create a messy contract situation in Boston come November, but for now, Ortiz is enjoying a renaissance, leading the team with 12 home runs and also boasting a .380 on-base percentage and a .563 slugging percentage.
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The Yankees GM's weekend of pouring gasoline on the Jorge Posada controversy could signal deeper rifts in the House of Pinstripes.
Things got very surreal in the Bronx this weekend. While the Yankees were going about their business of losing a season-high fourth game in a row on Saturday night—not to mention their third series out of four amid a 3-8 skid—general manager Brian Cashman took to the airwaves during the third inning via an interview with Fox's Ken Rosenthal, then briefed the press corps at even greater length to further spin an emerging story. In doing so, he made an already bad situation worse, creating what was quite possibly the low moment of his 14-season tenure at the helm of the Yankees, while continuing a remarkable offensive against decorum that has to draw into question his long-term future with the team.
Jorge Posada and Chone Figgins are both struggling in the BABIP department, and for wildly different reasons.
A pair of American Leaguer hitters are scuffling at the plate in the early going, particularly when it comes to batting average in balls in play. Nothing sets off the alarm bells like an old catcher, shifting to a new role and struggling at the plate. In Jorge Posada’s case, this isn’t just any alarm: this is a five alarm inferno.
The Yankees look to get back to yet another World Series while the Rangers are in uncharted territory.
From 1996 through 1999, the Joe Torre-led Yankees and the Johnny Oates-piloted Rangers faced off in three American League Division Series, the first three times the latter franchise had ever reached the postseason. The Yankees won nine of those 10 games, holding the Rangers to a lone run apiece in their 1998 and 1999 sweeps. Times have changed, however, and while the Yankee machine has simply kept rolling, racking up four pennants and two world championships while missing the playoffs just once since their last meeting, the Rangers endured a dark decade before reemerging as AL West champions thanks to the shrewd deal making of general manager Jon Daniels and the fruits of their well-stocked farm system.
The Yankees' catcher gets shut down, but how much of this could have been anticipated, and could the team have managed the situation any better?
It's not often that news breaks during a chat. I'd ignored a couple calls, but apparently my readers didn't, asking about Jorge Posada almost as soon as the news started to trickle out. The Yankees' catcher was headed to the DL with more shoulder problems, and worse still, the season could be over for the irreplaceable backstop if he elects for surgery to correct the damage. But what is the real story on Posada and his throwing shoulder? Let's take a deeper look at Posada, what's going on with his shoulder, and the short- and long-term outlook for him.
Since the turn of this century, what have been the best and worst performances with the bases juiced?
Who are your three best friends in the world? I'll tell you who they are-the three guys on your favorite team who find themselves on base simultaneously. When the bags are juiced and the camera pans around the infield showing the three baserunners and the announcer says their names, don't you say to yourself, "Man, I love those guys!"
Derek has a rundown of a Game You May Have Heard About.
So the question is, why are we back with these two teams? They came into this weekend series a game and a half apart in the standings atop the AL East. So far, the Yankees have taken the first three games-sweeping a Friday doubleheader that featured an afternoon blowout and the longest nine-inning game in major league history in the nightcap, then blasting past the Sox in the late innings of Saturday's game. With two games left in the series, the Red Sox have the opportunity to salvage the series, or to watch a prime chance slip through their fingers. With the level of competition we are seeing in the AL Central, the loser of this division race is anything but guaranteed a playoff spot via the wild card.