So when you see that the Angels are projected for last in the AL West, or that the Phillies won't win the NL West, or that the Giants look better than expected, remember that the differences among those teams and the ones they're competing with are minuscule. I think the … well, the #1 team below … is the best team in baseball, and the Nationals are the worst. I'm also comfortable with the bottom six or so teams being ones with virtually no chance to contend in 2007. Between those two poles, though, are 23 teams that just aren't separated by much. I have a 13-game gap between the #2 and #24 teams in the game, and that's tiny. My projections, taken literally, are a giant shrug of the shoulders.
After starting his baseball career as a beat writer, Fred Claire moved on to public relations with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He'd go on to spend 30 years in the Dodger organization, capped by his stint from 1987 to 1998 as general manager. Following 11 years as GM, including a 1988 World Series victory, newly-minted Fox ownership fired Claire soon after the landmark Mike Piazza trade of '98. Claire now works as a consultant for Performance Health Technologies of Boulder, Col., marketing a shoulder rehab device called SportsRac to pro athletes and weekend warriors. BP recently spoke to Claire about his career in Dodger Blue, the death of family ownership in the game, the Pedro Martinez trade, and the Dodger Way.
You can catch Fred Claire, along with BP's Joe Sheehan and Jonah Keri, and other guests, at the Barnes & Noble bookstore, 245 N. Glendale Ave. in Glendale, Calif., Thursday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m. We'll be talking baseball, Dodgers, Baseball Prospectus 2004 and Claire's new book, Fred Claire: My 30 Years in Dodger Blue, over pizza.
Bobby Jenks: The next Goose Gossage? Bobby Estalella finds a job. Tony La Russa finds a new broken toy in Tony Womack. Syracuse could give the Devil Rays a good battle. These and other pontifications in today's jam-packed Transaction Analysis.
We're back in the saddle again with a double-barrelled edition of Prospectus Triple Play. The Red Sox are engaging in an arms race for the ages. The Reds are looking two years down the road. The Marlins have the potential to burn up on re-entry. The Yankees have quietly made a deal or two. The Pirates continue running in place. And the Padres are gearing up for a brand new season in a brand new stadium, with a number of fresh faces in the lineup.
The end of March is a time of great anticipation in the baseball world. Fans are nearly as anxious as the players to see the teams head north and start getting some hard answers to the questions that surround their favorite ball clubs. Since veterans have generally established expected levels of performance, much of the buzz and uncertainty surrounds rookies who have survived the spring sifting.
For franchises like Arizona (John Patterson and Lyle Overbay), Philadelphia (Marlon Byrd) and the Yankees (Hideki Matsui), the ability of their prized rookies to make the jump to the majors may be the difference in winning the division. In Cleveland (Travis Hafner and Brandon Phillips) and on Chicago's North Side (Hee Choi), youngsters are centerpieces as the teams try to return to competitiveness. Meanwhile, Kansas City (Angel Berroa) and Tampa Bay (Rocco Baldelli) are banking on new faces to provide some optimism for the future. Regardless of the team's near-term goals, their chances of achieving them will be buoyed if their first-year players make a big splash. While impatiently waiting for the words "Play Ball" to be yelled out Sunday evening in Anaheim, I decided to determine what rookies have turned in the greatest "impact" seasons in history.
A player's season needs to be evaluated in the context in which it occurred to determine its impact, since identical statistical lines from two different environments (e.g. 1968 National League versus 2000 American League) can have vastly divergent values. To accurately measure the impact of a rookie's performance, it must be compared only to other players in the same league within the same year. And since analysts have made great strides in quantifying defense the past few years, positional value and a player's defensive performance should also be included in the evaluation.
We've tabulated this year's HACKING MASS results, and we've got ourselves a winner. Keith Lindahl led his imaginatively named squad to a fantastic 371.76 ESPN to easily capture the 2001 HACKING MASS title. Keith's winning team is a smorgasboard of stiffness: