If the postseason hasn’t been exciting enough for you, we’re happy to give you our wrap-up of one of Baseball Prospectus’ longest standing contests, HACKING MASS. As per our usual tradition, we’ll peruse the most valuable, most popular and the winning squad of HACKING MASSters, and give you reference to the full list of players. Let’s get the ball rolling with the HACKING MASS All-Stars:
HACKING MASS All-Star Team
Our All-Stars this year feature several repeats, including perennial hackster Brad Ausmus, who has accumulated the most ESPN (Exuded Stiffness Points, Net) amongst catchers since the inception of HACKING MASS in 2002. Ausmus and Scott Podsednik are both on the All-Star and All-Popular teams, but outside those two, the All-Star team was relatively unpopular. We’ll touch on this more later, but to some extent the All-Star team is inevitably filled with players that were unexpectedly terrible. This is a continuing trend, and part of what makes HACKING MASS such an exciting competition.
Mark Loretta is probably the most unexpected member of the HACKING MASS All-Star team, sporting a fairly decent career line of .299/.363/.402, but has consistently gotten stiffer over his career. His ESPN has gotten higher each year since 2002, at -20, -11, 0, 43, and 66 in 2006.
Elsewhere, Scott Podsednik continues accumulating ESPN and has moved up to third place for all left fielders after collecting 124 ESPN the past two years. For the pitching staff, Joel Pineiro had his second consecutive 100+ season as one of only five players to eclipse triple digits this season. Of the five, three were shortstops, including Ronny Cedeno, Clint Barmes, and Angel Berroa–Ausmus was the fifth.
HACKING MASS All-Popular Team
No surprises in the infield, as everyone has figured out that Ausmus is the best catcher to have, and he has been a safe HACKING MASS pick for a few years. Womack is a veritable posterboy for HACKING MASS, but didn’t really get enough playing time this year to rack up the ESPN with only 50 AB.
In the outfield, Jacque Jones disappointed many owners, posting a negative score. Jones’ popularity was likely due to an unfavorable forecast, as he has never been especially valuable in HACKING MASS; his highest score was last year’s 25, but he’s had a negative score in three of the last five seasons. Outfield spots tend to be much more difficult to fill than the infield, so guys like Taveras and Podsednik are a HACKING MASSter’s best friend. In all, the All-Popular team combined for 515 points, which would have gotten a prospective owner 47th place.
Your Winner: Hairy Inquisitive Sex Octopus
This year’s winner is Sean Riley, a library clerk from Auburn, California. He assembled the winning team with a couple Astros, a couple Ortizes, HACKING MASS stud Scott Podsednik, and a few spare parts that all accumulated ESPN for him. As in past years, the winning squad didn’t have any selections that were overly surprising, and all players had positive scores.
When asked about his team, Sean commented that “picking both Ortiz pitchers was an easy call,” noting that even when Russ Ortiz was released by the Diamondbacks, he was optimistic that somebody would be foolish enough to give him some more innings; the Orioles happily obliged by giving Ortiz 40 innings while he amassed a hacktastic 8.48 ERA.
Sean also commented that “as long as the Astros favor defense over offense, I will continue to pick Brad Ausmus and Adam Everett; year after year after futile year.” It seems like a sound strategy–we’ve reviewed Ausmus’ credentials, and Everett also has been very valuable to HACKING MASS squads, accumulating the most ESPN for an offensive player in the last three seasons total.
Rounding out the squad were veritable HACKING MASS role players like J.T. Snow, who Sean had hoped would have more playing time in Boston, but “he sucked just enough in the little time he played that he still cashed in,” helping Sean’s team at a position where it can be hard to find elite hacksters. Congrats to Sean on taking home the goods this year.
|Position||Player||Popularity||2005 ESPN||2006 ESPN|
|First Base||J.T. Snow||24||37||14|
|Second Base||Aaron Miles||115||47||61|
|Third Base||Vinny Castilla||301||43||65|
|Left Field||Scott Podsednik||709||56||68|
|Center Field||Willy Taveras||450||84||75|
|Right Field||Jeromy Burnitz||172||29||30|
|Pitcher 1||Ramon Ortiz||21||77||68|
|Pitcher 2||Russ Ortiz||373||111||77|
As with last year, we’d like to point out the continuing competition to have the most negative ESPN. There is no prize for biggest loser, especially with such blatant efforts to do so, but it is worth noting that SneakySouthPaw‘s Killer Brew managed to amass -813 ESPN in 2006.
The aspiring statistician in me also wants to point out that part of the fun of HACKING MASS is that it is much harder to predict which players will play the worst, especially when accounting for playing time. The nature of the player pool and the talent distribution makes it easier to predict which players will succeed on an annual basis–there are a limited number of excellent players so that picking the most valuable is easier than selecting which players will be the worst out of a much larger pool of mediocre players, simply based on the odds. So while it is fascinating to see who can accrue the most negative ESPN, it is not a particularly difficult task.
For this article I’ve cited the overall standings since the start of HACKING MASS in 2002, and over the last three years. Below, for curiosity’s sake, I’ve included the top five players for total ESPN accumulated over the past three seasons at each position. The players are listed at the positions for which they were qualified in the 2006 HACKING MASS competition, which is why you see (for example) Bernie Williams at first base.
In the coming days, we’ll wrap up the second annual Predictatron contest.