Baseball Prospectus: Looking back on the 2002 draft, for a while people may have been questioning the Twins taking Joe Mauer over Mark Prior. Now, Mauer is up in the majors and doing well. What went into the thought process of drafting Mauer over Prior? How much did Mauer being from Minnesota factor into the decision?
Terry Ryan: A little bit of the hometown aspect went into the selection. And all that’s fine, but it wasn’t the overriding factor. Economics were a part of it too. There were probably a dozen guys in that draft room, and we did our homework, so there were no big question marks. We knew that Prior was a tremendous talent, Teixeira too. We were very equal on Prior and Mauer, with Teixeira a tick behind–he had a broken (leg) at the time. In the end it didn’t matter–both guys will be great players, Prior was a tremendous pick for the Cubs.
We knew more about Mauer than any player in the draft, we’d tracked him since he was 15. We’re a left-handed-oriented organization because of the Metrodome, a lefty-hitting catcher is hard to find, and catching is probably the most difficult position to find, behind maybe only starting pitching.
Welcome all to the results of the Baseball Prospectus Mid-Season Awards.
The points system is 10-7-5-3-1 for the MVP and Cy Young Awards, and 5-3-1 for the Rookie Awards. BP authors’ picks, with all-too-clever comments, are included here, below the awards standings.
Hitters: Ballots, Points (1st Place Votes), (Avg/OBP/SLG/RARP/VORP)
Pitchers: Ballots, Points (1st Place Votes), (ERA, IP, SNWAR or ARP, VORP)
Imagine spending a week at your cubicle at work, slaving away at that TPS report, and then as you hand it to your boss, she tells you, “Thanks, but the company just decided that they didn’t need the report after all. I was just about to e-mail you the memo.”
That’s about how I feel right now. Having painstakingly put together an article on Danny Kolb, which centered around Kolb’s incredible stretch of surrendering no extra-base hits all season, I was all set to have the article published during the All-Star Break–and then Kolb ran into the unstoppable force that is the PECOTA-powered Wily Mo Pena on Sunday.
(Yes, I’m aware that Jason LaRue homered off Kolb before Pena did. But I’ve been working as a journalist long enough to know it’s considered poor form to let the facts get in the way of a good story.)
So the article is ruined.
But you’re going to have to read it anyway, unless you really want to hurt my feelings. I’ve taken the liberty of making some small changes to the piece, in light of Kolb’s Sunday meltdown. Most of the points made in the article still stand, even if the punchline has been spoiled.
Today we dip into the mailbag to cover a number of topics related to recent columns. First, a question stemming from the article on starters’ support of relievers:
I noticed Phil Niekro and Steve Sparks are both on the list of most-helped starters. I would hypothesize that knuckleballing starters are ‘easier’ to help out than their straight-throwing brethren because of the extreme difference in speed/movement between a knuckler and a typical reliever’s mid-90 mph heat. What do you think?
–S.S. (no, not Steve Sparks)
Good theory. Many other readers were wondering the same thing, and sure enough…
All of this touches on why I’m rapidly losing my already withering affection for ERA as even a rough thumbnail estimate of pitcher quality. Michael Wolverton has written cogently on the pitfalls of ERA in the past. I’d go further by saying if you don’t take a pitcher’s BABIP into account, ERA shouldn’t be anywhere on your radar when making player evaluations. I’d liken ERA to the RBI–useful only at the margins, awfully prone to contextual distortions.
When we judge a pitcher’s performance, we need to grant primacy to the things over which he has the most control: strikeouts, unintentional walks, home runs and groundball-flyball tendencies. To credit or penalize a pitcher for how his defense is performing, how luck fancies him or how he wields a dubious skill of marginal influence is to do a disservice to the spirit of analysis.
The Angels’ offense has been marred by a lack of production at first base. The Cubs and Corey Patterson have been at the center of a number of rumors involving Braves CF Andruw Jones. And although the Brew Crew has done an admirable job this season of staying afloat, it would behoove GM Doug Melvin to sell off the remaining usable parts and build for the future. All this and much more news from Anaheim, Chicago, and Milwaukee in your Wednesday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.