Some very good baseball players are doing some very bad things this year.
Baseball Prospectus’ True Average report is endlessly fascinating. Matt Kemp’s .376 TAv is absurd, and Mike Trout, the just-turned-21-year-old rookie superstar, is right behind him with a gaudy .370. And how about David Ortiz in fifth place with a .342! Who saw that coming? The top of the list is an amazing mixture of quotidian greatness (Votto) and fantastic surprises (Jaso??).
But I’m equally fascinated by the bottom of the list. Change the pulldown to the right of TAv from DESC to ASC, set the min. PA to “200,” and hit View Data. (Alternately, you can just click here. At the top of that list are the very worst hitters in Major League Baseball. Just like with baseball’s best hitters, the bottom-dwellers run the gamut from “duh” (Yuniesky Betancourt at 25th-worst) to “huh?” (Ryan Raburn, worst in the majors).
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The Brewers advance to the NLCS with an extra-inning game to remember
If you didn’t catch tonight’s NLDS finale between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Arizona Diamondbacks, you missed quite the game. Framed as a potential pitchers’ duel between Ian Kennedy and Yovanni Gallardo, the two starters didn’t disappoint. Each went six innings, pitching well enough to maintain the pitchers’ duel pretense but allowing enough action to keep the fans excited—a perfect blend. The announcers commented during the game that every base hit is a rally in the playoffs, and while that might be a bit of an exaggeration, it definitely felt like it in a back-and-forth game like this.
A look back at the best and worst outfield VP picks of 2011.
Value Picks is such a mixed bag, especially before NL-only and AL-only players were separated out. Sometimes, a “Value Pick” is a player the authors think should be owned in every league, even shallow mixed leagues, because they're just that good. Other players are more appropriate for deeper mixed leagues or shallow single-league leagues. And, of course, some players are total bottom-of-the-barrel shots in the dark (here's looking at you, Trent Oeltjen!)
Nyjer Morgan and Alex Rios join the outfield VP ranks this week.
Arrivals Nyjer Morgan, Milwaukee Brewers (Yahoo! 18%, ESPN 18%, CBS 27%) Value Picks has shunned Nyjer Morgan for most of the season—not for lack of faith in his abilities but because so many early raves were written about him that readers were expected to know the opinions on the ballplayer. With the season winding down, it's time to revisit an old friend. Nothing about his skills has really changed, and here's what was written before:
Chris Narveson sustains his second-half success, Nyjer Morgan makes a case for more playing time, and the Pirates flirt with .500.
The 2011 season is now a week-and-a-half old. Each team in baseball has played through three series, and every team has had the chance to go through its rotation—such as it is in early April, when off days allow some clubs to dispense with fifth starters—twice now. Some, like the Brewers, have even been able to squeeze three starts out of their Opening Day starter. The season is much too young to know anything for certain (other than that Manny Ramirez will not be contributing to the Rays this year), but that doesn't mean the performances that we've seen so far this year should be ignored completely. Even with all of the time and effort, researching and projecting, and discussing and arguing we do in the offseason, nothing can take the place of the actual games, and nothing will ever keep players from surprising us.
Listed below are the five biggest surprises in the National League Central so far this year. As with all statistical surprises (especially those that hinge in large part on small sample size), these observations are meant to be mostly descriptive, not predictive. Players are still subject to the tyranny of true talent, and hot (or slow) starts mean little in the long run.
Milwaukee's offseason of trading minor leaguers for big league upgrades continues.
The Brewers have acquired Nyjer Morgan from the Nationals for minor leaguer Cutter Dykstra, according to William Ladson of MLB.com. Just days ago, Doug Melvin moved reserve outfielder Chris Dickerson to the Yankees for Sergio Mitre, but had downplayed his team’s interest in Morgan in the time since –even going as far as to say his team had “no interest” and he’d rely instead on the outfielders in camp. It’s up for debate whether Melvin was being coy to conceal his next move or if the variables around a potential deal changed.
Breaking up the Pirates to end the losing should not be cause for maudlin laments about what's been lost.
One of the more arrogant positions I hold is the idea that just because you have or had the talent to be a major league player, it doesn't necessarily follow that you have the talent to evaluate players. You can extend this to "have the talent to evaluate teams" or any number of ideas that require a grasp of analysis, both skills and statistical. It's the difference between being an airline pilot and being an airline mechanic-both jobs are critical for keeping a plane in the air, but they're not interchangeable in any meaningful way, and they require competely different abilities. It's not an insult to say that a pilot probably couldn't fix an engine, and it's not an insult to say a shortstop probably couldn't run a roster.