Jason looks at the worst players, by career WARP, to make multiple trips to the All-Star Game.
Last week, we looked at players who racked up large career WARP figures but for one reason or another (underappreciation, the league being incredibly stocked at their position, steady goodness rather than flashes of greatness) didn't make very many All-Star teams. This week, having sufficiently buried the lede, it's time to look at the players who inspired this investigation in the first place: the very worst players to make multiple All-Star Games. Caveats and notes:
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A look at whether a sleeper can really be a bargain in fantasy leagues
Every season, a handful of players improve by leaps and bounds. There’s no denying this fact. These breakout players tend to have an inordinate impact on both the success of our teams as well as our collective consciousness. That too is well established. Those who ended up with Asdrubal Cabrera, Melky Cabrera, or James Shields in 2011 will thank the lucky heavens and hope for similar fortunes this coming season. Anybody who has been paying attention to the Jeremy Lin story will testify to the same. But is it wise in fantasy baseball drafts to chase these players instead of selecting others with more established production? That’s a more complicated subject.
In the preseason, we’re all very excited for the games to begin. These days, there’s a booming industry providing player analysis and attempts to forecast the season ahead, aimed directly at those who compete in fantasy baseball leagues. Among the most popular features this time of year is the community’s attempt to identify which players are primed to provide value well beyond their salary or draft spot.
As teams and players settle in arbitration or avoid it entirely, refresh your memory on how the process works.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
Michael ends his look at Japanese imports with some conclusions and a look at the future of the transpacific player market.
In the Asian Equation series, I’ve traced the history of the current posting system that imports players from NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball, the Japanese major leagues) and how the success of Ichiro Suzuki has affected it, from the position players who arrived in his wake to the pricey disappointments among starting pitchers and the marginally successful relievers. In this final column, I’ll take a look back to draw conclusions from this history and see what we can expect from the NPB market in the future. As with my previous columns, Patrick Newman’s advice and ideas were very helpful, as is his website, NPB Tracker.
The simplest, broadest conclusion concerns the players themselves, where we must draw an important distinction between talent and skills. As Craig Brown wrote in the comments section of his article on Tsuyoshi Nishioka, “. . . comparing two middle infielders just because they come from Japan is like comparing two middle infielders just because they come from Delaware.” Just because they’re from Japan doesn’t mean we can draw specific conclusions about individual ballplayers, their talents, or their ability to succeed in Major League Baseball. This goes double for Ichiro, whose skills are idiosyncratic on either side of the Pacific. Throwing money at Japanese players expecting them to be slap hitters with weird batting stances and an uncanny ability to find defensive holes is as foolish as thinking every Venezuelan shortstop will field (and endure) like Omar Vizquel. We can’t expect specific players to have certain inherent talents just because they were born in Japan.
Tom Tango returns to address your second and final batch of questions from last week.
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
You asked, he answered. Below is the second and final batch of responses to the questions BP readers submitted for sabermetrician Tom Tango. All questions are presented in their original form.
Updates to the Team Tracker and the Player Forecast Manager make the tools more effective for managing your Scoresheet roster.
In-season Scoresheet team management probably gets rote for more owners, with good teams going on auto-pilot, perhaps with some injury adjustments, bullpen shuffling, home/road adjustments, and some “prefer to face” changes. Once such owners get into a system, there is little drama other than trades and drafts–mainly configuring the team for optimal playoff performance. For other teams, the drama is even less, as they are configured for future success, and failure to eke out a win here or there with managerial moves bothers them not at all. For the frantic few, however, every fraction of a percentage gained or lost could mean the difference between postseason glory and an early offseason.
Putting every major-league player back with his original team in an alternative universe can tell us a lot about team building.
In March, I introduced The No Turnover Standings which measured what teams’ records would have been if Major League Baseball did not allow any player movement and all players had provided the same production for the team that originally drafted or signed them as amateurs. As I described in that article:
Do teams that went without rookies for extended periods of time have something to tell about organizational behavior?
I attend perhaps two baseball games a month during the regular season. I really ought to go to more, because a lot of my column topics come when I'm sharing a couple of beers with a friend and exchanging ideas, enjoying the leisurely pace of live baseball without the distractions of TV or the net. On Tuesday night, I took in the Sox-Royals game with Josh Orenstein of the MLBPA, and one of the subjects that came up was how long a team can conceivably go without developing a rookie.
Everything you wanted to know about the BP Kings Charity Scoresheet Draft.
Peter Gammons' unfortunate incident focused the spotlight on cerebral aneurysms, but my connection is more personal. My mother had a cerebral aneurysm rupture way back in 1977 and was fortunate to survive.
Draft Strategy: Be strong at scarce positions offensively, avoided the dreaded Pitcher-AAA as always, and work on building a better bullpen to compensate for the lack of early starting pitchers. I sort of strayed from that strategy by taking John Lackey relatively early, and I might have a problem at second base if Jose Lopez doesn't pan out. I wanted to build a good core under the age of 30, and I did a fairly decent job of that. One of my harder decisions was my first one--Grady Sizemore vs. Joe Mauer. The consensus seems to be that I went the wrong with Sizemore--the consensus could be right, but I get the idea that three years from now Mauer won't be catching as often, to preserve his knees. Maybe that's too far forward to look, but at the same token, I see Sizemore as basically being risk-free.
I participated in the Mock Draft in the Scoresheet newsgroup, and because of that I expected the draft to be a little more prospect-heavy early-on. With the notable exception of Nate Silver, it wasn't, which suits me fine. I'm happy to have Brignac and Adam Miller among my top prospects.
Draft Strategy: Our only real strategy was to get big bats with the first few picks, then turn to pitching. Other than that, we basically reacted to the draft. We had the third pick, and in a league with an obvious top three, that made things easy. The one who's left is your guy, and that was Joe Mauer, whom we were happy to have. When Vernon Wells fell, we felt, to us at No. 22, we had our theme for the early part of the draft: Young, studly up-the-middle guys.
A review of who might come to the States as free agents, through the posting system, and names you just want to know.
Why the sudden interest in who's next? It wasn't all that many years ago that people scoffed at the idea of a Japanese player making an impact in the major leagues. There were a lot of reasons given for the lack of interest, but I believe the lack of high-profile Asian athletes on the American sports scene perpetuated some old ideas about the size, strength, and durability of East Asian players. Misconceptions remain until someone gives us a reason to change our minds.
In the year 2000 I was living and working in New York. That was when the name "Ichiro" began to make the rounds, as the Orix Blue Wave was getting ready to send the outfielder to the Mariners. Many people I spoke with at the time rolled their eyes at the move. The big money the M's were spending on a little slap hitter from Japan was widely questioned. I vividly recall my shock at the rationale behind these journalists' opinions. "Japanese players are too small, lack power, and won't stand up to the grueling Major League routine. Major Leaguers are much bigger, stronger, and likely to dominate the average Japanese position player. They don't throw as hard as we do. The parks are smaller. How can we expect to believe in the quality of Japanese baseball when minor league wash outs go over there and succeed?"
Even Alexis Gomez came from somewhere (Kansas City). Kevin tells us how the Tigers and A's acquired the rest of their postseason difference-makers.
\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.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_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.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_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).';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_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. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_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).';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_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. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_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.