Inherent in the desire to develop better baseball statistics–and as a result, improve baseball analysis–is the belief that this information is not only available but also not being used by the men and women who run baseball. As Moneyball and the resulting reaction has showed, some General Managers seem to be using the same methods for performance evaluation that were used 20 or 40 years ago. It therefore stands to reason that GMs are paying players not for actual performance, but rather for perceived performance as viewed through the rusty and decrepit glasses of decades-old beliefs about the statistics of the game. For this study we wanted to find out if General Managers were, in fact, paying players along the lines of their objective “value” (as defined by VORP), or if there were something else in play.
Best Matchup (Best combined record with both teams being over .500): Boston @ New York Yankees
We seem to have reached a point in baseball history where it is–what is the word?–understood that the Yankees somehow deserve to get the best available player on the trading block. When they don’t, their owner and fans appear shocked. With Freddy Garcia gone to Chicago and Carlos Beltran now in Houston, it will be interesting to see how firm Arizona’s resolve to keep Randy Johnson will be. The Newark Star-Ledger has also been kicking up some Tom Glavine-to-the-Yankees talk. It stands to reason. Glavine has been the best pitcher in baseball so far in 2004 (39.3 VORP, besting runners-up Mark Mulder and Carl Pavano), so it only makes sense that he should be on the Yankees. Why? Because it’s the Yankees’ world and we’re just the extras sent over by Central Casting to fill in their background.
I’ve been getting a lot of e-mail lately that runs like this:
I know you like Edgar Martinez, but don’t you think he should retire? He can’t run, he can’t hit. He should have some pride.
It’s true, I’m emotionally attached. But I know that, so I can recognize it, take a deep breath, and be rational about it.
And my answer is: “I have no business telling Edgar, or any player, to retire.”
I’m working on a piece that will run next week about unorthodox deliveries. Steven Goldman and I spent some time comparing the motions of Walter Johnson and Randy Johnson. I’ve also had my head buried in my Japanese “Nature of Pitching” book. Sure, I can’t read it, but the diagrams are great. Still, the best part has been going on MLB.tv and watching the archived games. I can watch the toe-tap of Tim Hudson, the pattycake in Akinori Otsuka’s windup, and the flaw in Roger Clemens delivery. For all the complaining I do about MLB, MLB.tv is about the coolest thing ever for a baseball fan. The archive and condensed games trump watching it on the big screen for me. If anyone has an interesting delivery in his or her memory banks, drop me a line. So, powered by that, let’s get right into the injuries…