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Articles Tagged Kent Hrbek 

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September 5, 2012 8:42 am

The Platoon Advantage: Shaving an Icon

7

Michael Bates

What's a 'stache? Maybe immortality.

I was flabbergasted when I heard the news today, relayed by Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk, that Keith Hernandez was considering shaving his mustache.  It's not that facial hair is invariably a good thing, but it does give its wearer additional texture and makes him more interesting.  Hernandez's soup-sopper has been a part of his face since the 1970s and has been an iconic representation of the man and what he stands for.  Let's be honest, without the mustache, Keith Hernandez would be no more loved and appreciated today than his baseball doppelganger, John Olerud

Both are undeniably fine ballplayers.  Smooth-swinging lefty first basemen with line drive swings, excellent patience, and slick gloves.  Heck, they played the same number of years, finished within 60 hits and 15 runs scored of one another, and are separated by one point of OPS+ (Olerud 129 vs Hernandez 128). 

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March 1, 2012 5:50 am

Bates' Dugout Motel: Valentine Speaks!

12

Michael Bates

Bobby Valentine holds a presser and says that everything you know about the game is wrong.

Bobby Valentine was kind enough to spend a few minutes in front of a microphone on Tuesday, which he is usually reluctant to do, and proceeded to cast aspersions in the way of the Yankees, Derek Jeter, and the Captain’s famous 2001 flip to Jorge Posada to beat Jeremy Giambi. “We’ll never practice that,” Valentine told reporters. “We’ll never practice that. I think he was out of position and I think the ball gets him out if he doesn’t touch it, personally. But the Jeter-like simulation today is the [establish] what the first baseman and third baseman do as the ball is coming in.” So, in one foul swoop, Valentine essentially called Jeter’s defining moment unnecessary and questioned whether Jeter was even in the right place.

I’m aware that this borders on baseball sacrilege, but it’s conceivable that Bobby is right. Jeter does seem to be way out of position, and it’s also possible that the throw would have come through in time, given that it seems to be relatively on-line. That shouldn’t diminish the fact that it was a very athletic play, and it may very well have saved the Yankees’ bacon in 2001, but it may be represent an unnecessary embroidering of the Jeter legend.

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With the Fall Classic now upon us, the staff at Baseball Prospectus shares their most memorable World Series moments.

Every baseball fan has a special World Series memory, whether it's Willie Mays' catch, Bill Mazeroski's home run, Brooks Robinson's defense, Kirk Gibson's limp around the bases, or Derek Jeter becoming the first-ever Mr. November. With the World Series opening tonight at AT&T Park in San Francisco with the Giants facing the Texas Rangers, many of our writers, editors, and interns share their favorite memories of the Fall Classic.

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Sabermetricians are often accused of not enjoying the game of baseball and instead just caring about the numbers. But it's entirely possible to love both. And in the best case scenario, the numbers can help us even further appreciate our enjoyment of the game.

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October 5, 2006 12:00 am

Prospectus Today: Division Series, Day Two

0

Joe Sheehan

The Play is the talk of the water coolers, but plenty of other things happened on an abbreviated second day.

\nMathematically, leverage is based on the win expectancy work done by Keith Woolner in BP 2005, and is defined as the change in the probability of winning the game from scoring (or allowing) one additional run in the current game situation divided by the change in probability from scoring\n(or allowing) one run at the start of the game.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_18 = 'Adjusted Pitcher Wins. Thorn and Palmers method for calculating a starters value in wins. Included for comparison with SNVA. APW values here calculated using runs instead of earned runs.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_20 = 'The number of double play opportunities (defined as less than two outs with runner(s) on first, first and second, or first second and third).'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_22 = 'Winning percentage. For teams, Win% is determined by dividing wins by games played. For pitchers, Win% is determined by dividing wins by total decisions. '; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_23 = 'Expected winning percentage for the pitcher, based on how often\na pitcher with the same innings pitched and runs allowed in each individual\ngame earned a win or loss historically in the modern era (1972-present).'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_24 = 'Attrition Rate is the percent chance that a hitters plate appearances or a pitchers opposing batters faced will decrease by at least 50% relative to his Baseline playing time forecast. Although it is generally a good indicator of the risk of injury, Attrition Rate will also capture seasons in which his playing time decreases due to poor performance or managerial decisions. '; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_31 = 'The Baseline forecast, although it does not appear here, is a crucial intermediate step in creating a players forecast. The Baseline developed based on the players previous three seasons of performance. Both major league and (translated) minor league performances are considered.

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August 19, 2005 12:00 am

Fantasy Focus: Disappointing Prospects and the Owners Who Love Them

0

Erik Siegrist

How should a fantasy owner interpret Justin Morneau's season? Erik Siegrist takes a look.

If the player's a pitcher, you can to some extent take solace in philosophy. "TNSTAAPP," you might say to yourself, shrugging your shoulders in resignation. But if it's a hitter, you find yourself facing a dilemma with very sharp horns indeed. Do you keep him and hope the hype wasn't misplaced? Or do you cut him loose and risk seeing him blossom on someone else's roster?

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One of the most enduring concepts in baseball is the "clutch hitter." Despite statistical evidence to the contrary, scouts, fans, and major league front offices continue to believe that some hitters are "clutch" and others are not. This is particularly evident in the playoffs, where the inability of a player with strong regular season statistics to hit in October is offered as evidence that the player is not "clutch," while other players are lauded for a few, well-timed base hits. While there is no statistical evidence for systematic clutch hitting, however, it is still possible that some players do under (or over) perform in the playoffs, due to a tendency for "mistake hitting." Perhaps there are hitters who build their statistics up against bad pitching, but when faced with the quality pitching delivered in the playoffs, the holes in their game are exposed. Likewise, there may be players who do not have spectacular regular season numbers, but who have a solid batting approach that leaves them in an equally good position against low and high quality pitchers. The former type of player might be seen as "choking" in the playoffs, while the latter is seen as turning in a clutch performance.

While there is no statistical evidence for systematic clutch hitting, however, it is still possible that some players do under (or over) perform in the playoffs, due to a tendency for "mistake hitting." Perhaps there are hitters who build their statistics up against bad pitching, but when faced with the quality pitching delivered in the playoffs, the holes in their game are exposed. Likewise, there may be players who do not have spectacular regular season numbers, but who have a solid batting approach that leaves them in an equally good position against low and high quality pitchers. The former type of player might be seen as "choking" in the playoffs, while the latter is seen as turning in a "clutch" performance.

For example, here are scouting reports, taken from CBS Sportsline web site and The Sporting News, for Jeff Conine and Mike Lowell.

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May 27, 2004 12:00 am

Lies, Damned Lies: Southpaw Stories, Part I

0

Nate Silver

Two months ago, the Oakland Athletics signed Eric Chavez to a six-year, $66 million contract extension that will keep him with the club through 2010. Despite some head-scratching from the public, there are good reasons behind why Billy Beane campaigned to do for Chavez what he hadn't done for former MVP shortstop Miguel Tejada. Unlike Tejada, Chavez is a player whose skills, like his fine defense and his ever-improving plate discipline, are likely to be undervalued by the market. On top of which, Chavez has continued to demonstrate growth season after season, and PECOTA thinks that he's a very safe bet going forward. It is no secret, however, that Chavez has a tragic flaw: he can't hit left-handed pitching. From 2001-2003, Chavez managed a stellar line of .306/.375/.579 against right-handers, but a Mathenian .229/.278/.395 against southpaws. The A's, recognizing his defensive value and perhaps hoping that repetition would breed improvement, continued to start him anyway, in spite of a rotating array of viable platoon alternatives. This year, indeed, has brought about a turnaround--Chavez is crushing lefties so far on the season (.288/.373/.561), while performing well below his career averages against righties (.214/.358/.398). Whether there's any rationale for the change other than sample size, I'm not certain (I don't get to see the West Coast teams play as often as I'd like to). What is clear, however, is that if such a change becomes permanent--if Chavez learns how to hit left-handed pitching at the age of 26--it would be a relatively unprecedented development. In most cases, a platoon split for a left-handed hitter is something like a finger print or a dental record: it remains a readily identifiable and more or less unchanging part of his profile throughout the different stages of his playing life. A left-handed hitter with a big platoon split early in his career is, in all likelihood, going to have a big platoon split later in his career.

It is no secret, however, that Chavez has a tragic flaw: he can't hit left-handed pitching. From 2001-2003, Chavez managed a stellar line of .306/.375/.579 against right-handers, but a Mathenian .229/.278/.395 against southpaws. The A's, recognizing his defensive value and perhaps hoping that repetition would breed improvement, continued to start him anyway, in spite of a rotating array of viable platoon alternatives.

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