A fan of the Yankees, Red Sox, and large sample sizes.
ABSENT MINDED PROFESSOR
I don't usually write about myself, but if I can help anyone feel better about things that went wrong this weekend, then I'm glad to help out.
On Friday, I managed to lose my wallet in the two mile drive between the bank and my house. Really. The bank didn't find it, and I didn't have it when I got out of my car 5 minutes later. I cancelled the credit cards, and have to go pay for a new license tomorrow.
Then, this morning, I went into school early to finish writing my exams. Worked for about thirty minutes, then went out to my car to grab some more stuff. I brought out the wrong set of keys, locking myself out of the building, and everything important in the building. I had to walk a block to a pay phone and wake up my principal to let me back in.
Other than that, it was a pretty good weekend. My cell phone even still works after I did my best to destroy it with water and sand at the beach. I rule.
PROUD TO BE A RED SOX FAN
Johnny Damon's out of the lineup today, and rather than put his replacement (Gabe Kapler) in the leadoff spot, Terry Francona used his head and reshuffled the lineup. The 1-2 punch today is Mark Bellhorn and Kevin Youkilis.
Most people would cringe at Bellhorn as a leadoff hitter - you know, no speed. But his .390 OBP is higher than any other current leadoff hitter. And putting a rookie in the number two hole is a MLB feau paux - but with a career minor league OBP of three billion, that move seems pretty smart to me.
Nice move, boys.
I officially like John Kruk and all his antics. His baseball views are a little skewed (ok, extremely skewed), but he is entertaining. And not in the obnoxious way that Terry Bradshaw's "entertaining". Kruk's a good find for Baseball Tonight. Now they just have to do something about that whole baseball incompetence thing. Has he made any one ball jokes, yet?
$100 AND $500 BILLS
Fantasy baseball is a fun game. It builds ego, makes us feel like a part of the game, and keeps college friends together. And there's a battle line drawn between the people that play in shallow leagues versus deep leagues.
At most discussion boards it goes like this:
"Shallow leagues are no fun. They're so easy. Every team's an All-Star team."
"Shutup. You're an elitist prick. I'll kick your ass in a shallow league."
I think both arguments are correct, to a certain extent, and both sound really lame, too.
Fantasy baseball is a zero-sum game. By definition, there will be one winner, one second-place finisher, and one big loser. Whether your team is "good" or "bad" depends on how your team finishes compared to the other teams. Just because a team has a lot of All-Stars doesn't make it a good team. Calling a player an All-Star means that he's good compared to other major league baseball players. If MLB contracted down to 6 teams, would Rafael Furcal be an All-Star anymore? No, he'd be replacement level talent.
Just because a "good" player is available on the waiver wire doesn't mean he's going to help a team in a shallow league. My metaphor is this: if you pick up a $100 bill, that's great. Except if everyone else is picking up $500 bills. The absolute skill of Rafael Furcal doesn't change depending on the size of the league. It's his relative value that changes. Hell, if the league expanded to 30 teams, Neifi Perez might be league-average. As it is, he's extremely replaceable to MLB teams, but is still better than 99.99% of the world population.
In some respects, it's harder to succeed in shallower leagues. The difference between one All-Star and another is hard to predict.
RETURN OF THE KINGS
Last year, the Red Sox led the known universe in most of the important offensive categories, including the most important category, runs. Many predicted a return to merely very good this year, and that was before Nomar and Nixon were lost to injuries. Both of those guys are close to returning, and it begs the question, how much will they help the Red Sox offense.
Joe Morgan, a sabrmetric fave, said this in his recent ESPN chat:
No, I don't think they will be lights out when they get back. But it will put them closer to where they were last year. They won't run away from the Yankees. The Yanks offense is just going to get better. The only thing the Yankees have to worry about is their pitching. I wouldn't get too overjoyed when Nomar and Trot come back.
I'm not picking on Joe. I've moved past step 11 on the ladder of baseball competence.* But I disagree with him in this case, and it's a good question to answer. Let's take a look at how the Red Sox will look with Nomar and Nixon back in the lineup.
Using the Marcel the Monkey projection system (I'd link to it, but the old Baseball Primer articles aren't available right now), here are what Nomar Garciaparra, Trot Nixon, Pokey Reese, and Kapler/Daubauch/McCarty were projected to do this year:
Nomar:.298/.345/.509 5.6 AVG/OBP/SLG RC/25
If we figure that each position's RC/25 is 1/9 the total offense (not true since RC/25 doesn't combine linearly), then the switch at both positions yields about .3 runs per game more. Over 162 games, that's an extra 50 runs. Using the estimate of 10 runs/1 win, the Red Sox improve by 5 wins per 162 games. If we prorate that to perhaps 3/5 of a season, the Red Sox will gain 3 wins.
Now, the Red Sox will not run away from the Yankees most likely (how do you run away from a team that good?), but 3 wins is awesome. Personally, I will be overjoyed when Nomar and Trot get back.
Ladder of Baseball Competence
1. Fall in love with Joe Morgan, Rob Dibble, Harold Reynolds, Jim Kaat, and other ex-ballplayers sharing their wisdom.
2. Start reading Jayson Stark and Peter Gammons, who provide lots of news, notes, and useless information.
3. Watch enough baseball to realize that hey, David Eckstein looks outmatched, but he gets the job done.
4. Start reading Rob Neyer, and have daily epiphanies for a week.
5. Start reading Baseball Prospectus, who Rob Neyer occassionally links to.
6. Fall out of love and start bashing Joe Morgan, Rob Dibble, Harold Reynolds, Jim Kaat, and other ex-ballplayers.
7. Fall in love with Baseball Prospectus.
8. Start cheating on BP with other BP, Baseball Primer.
9. Start bashing Rob Neyer.
10. Realize you're more than a two-website guy, and start reading all the baseball blogs.
*11. Stop bashing Rob Neyer, Jayson Stark, Peter Gammons, Joe Morgan, Rob Dibble, Harold Reynolds, Jim Kaat and everybody else, realizing that everyone has their own contributions to the baseball world, and you can pick who you listen to.
12. Start your own blog, and spout off information that other people can make fun of.
13. Write blog entry referencing your own blog, and begin destructive self-referencing cycle.
14. Dunno, haven't gotten there yet.
BASEBALL PROSPECTUS REMEMBERING DOUG PAPPAS
When I first started reading a lot of sabrmetrically slanted baseball writing about five years ago, I got sucked in immediately because of the intellect and sense of "duh, why didn't I think of that" included in most articles. I only read Pappas' work when he was published at Baseball Prospectus, but he was a guy who thought for himself, and didn't bite on what others were offering.
I often get asked by my high school students if I really add up prices at the grocery store, or measure out angles when working around the house. I'm proud to say that yes, I do in fact take an interest in the quality of my life, and do make an effort to be knowledgable about my decisions. I laugh at people who think supermarket discount cards really save them money, rely on mainstream commercialized news, or refuse to form their own opinions. Yeah, it's hard.
Doug Pappas was one of those guys who formed his views based on research and preparation. His opinions carried weight because they weren't so much opinions as presentations of the facts. If you disagreed with his writing, you were basically calling him an outright liar.
Buy what you want to buy, not what people are trying to sell you.
WALKING THE USS MARINER PLANK
If this is correct, might the Yankees be interested in Aurilia? Can he play 2B? Sure, he's played like a replacement player so far this year, but that's better than Enrique Wilson, and probably below the level of which Aurilia's capable. I don't want Aurilia to be the final answer this year, nor would he really help all that much, but jeez - Enrique Wilson? Come on. And don't answer me with Miguel Cairo.
With Jose Vidro signing a deal with the Expos, there aren't many (any?) 2B available, as the A's are finding out. Once teams start to dump, Ray Durham, Junior Spivey, or Bret Boone might be available. Sure, it's lame to whine about the one position the Yankees are below average at, but it's a big hole. Can Aaron Boone heal in two more months?
I watched the last two innings of Randy Johnson's perfect game on TBS. The announcers were obviously calling the game from the point of view of the Braves, but still were able to show amazement and appreciation of Randy's performance. In fact, they were probably rooting for the perfect game in the two innings I watched.
Tom Glavine's got a no-hitter through 6, and the Rockies announcers hate him, the umpire, and everyone involved. They've whined about some close calls ("You don't have to just give him the no-hitter, ump!"), and generally made Glavine's performance seem cheap and flukish. Regardless of the truth of their claims (somewhere in between no truth and all truth), nobody wants to hear a game called like that.
And now they're whining about how cheap Cliff Floyd's nubly infield single was. Get over it, guys. Try to be entertaining and at least pretend you like the baseball game.
Watching (well, listening to) the NESN broadcast this afternoon, they ran a little feature on how the Boston defense has improved over the last ten games, committing only 3 errors, as opposed to 33 errors in the first 36 games, or something like that.
Look, the Red Sox have the second-best DER in the American League. They've been fielding well all year. Yes, they'd have been even better with less errors, but that's a tautology. Considering Fenway's a hitter's park, it's pretty impressive that the Boston defensive numbers are so good. The offense is solid, but it's the defense that has them in first.
Since mentioning the Red Sox wouldn't be complete without mention of the Yankees (it's like Laurel & Hardy, or 'intents and purposes'), the Bombers have a similar offense to the Red Sox (with more name recognition), but a much worse pitching staff. In fact, the Yanks are pretty luck to be sitting less than two games back of the Sox, since they've only scored 7 more runs than they've allowed.
THE DIPS GET DIPS
Hell has frozen over. The Bills will win the Super Bowl. ESPN.com now includes DIPS ERA in their sortable pitching stats. I don't know whether I should be really happy that the world wide provider of sports broadcasting has taken one small step for man, or to be unhappy that these numbers are now easily available to everyone in my fantasy leagues. I'll go with the first, and promte the dissemination of important information. Check it out. To find over- and under-rated pitchers, sort by DIPS% which compares dERA to actual ERA.
MEAN PARENTS SUCK
If I ever have kids, my number one goal is to not give them a name that will scar them for life. Parents who leave their kids with names like Dusk, Bubba, or Fiontonicia are just inconsiderate. But even worse are the parents that pair up a first name with their last name to create something horrible - Richard Small, I.P. Freely, and Amanda Hugankiss are schoolyard favorites. Do you really think your kids can ever love you if they know you picked their crappy-ass name?
And then there's Randy Johnson. In case you're unaware, "randy" is a synonym for "horny" in Great Britain, and a johnson is... well, you know what a johnson is. My friends and I get a great chuckle out of The Big Unit's (snicker) name and nickname more frequently than we really should.
It gets even better when his name is used in headlines. There are just some verbs that are completely inappropriate. I often wonder if the headline writers are trying to see how many people get it. Take the ESPN.com Scoreboard page, for example - Perfect game: Big Unit blows away Braves. I mean, really. Is that necessary?
If only Albert Pujols had a "better" first name, Randy Johnson would have some competition.
RANDY JOHNSON TURNS IT ON
I don't believe in jinxes. To prove it, I'm typing this in the top of the 8th inning as Luis Gonzalez singles to right. Whether or not The Unit finishes of his perfect game, talking about it beforehand has no bearing on the outcome. Of course, I can only prove that if he finishes the perfect game, so I'm rooting for him to do so.
I don't particularly like Randy, except that I always admire and root for exceptional talent, and he's on both my NL fantasy team and my Strat team. And it's always cool when rare events occur.
Perfect through 8...
How bad must the Braves hitters be feeling right about now? Oh, and how bad must they be? First, the Braves strikeout 18 times against Ben Sheets, and their next game they don't even get on base. Ouch.
25 in a row...
So, DIPS says the lack of hits isn't due to Randy's ability. Do pitchers show skill on balls-in-play, but just not consistently? I've only watched two innings. Were all of the balls-in-play easy plays?
26 in a row...
Man, this is cool.
Two strikes... Eddie Perez managed to lay off the high heat.
HE'S GOT IT!
THE FOUR-MAN & THE COORS MAN
I was listening to the Phillies broadcasters announce the Philadelphia at Colorado game yesterday afternoon, and they kept harping on the fact that if you're going to try a four man rotation, it just has to be done with four veteran pitchers that can work late into games. They made it seem like this was a foregone conclusion and that the Rockies were idiots.
I hate arguing with anyone that proclaims the Rockies are idiots, but I don't think I agree with Phillies' announcers. Sure, the four Rockies' starters are on strict pitch counts, making their bullpen pitch a few innings every game. But since they know how long their starters will go, they can schedule their bullpen a little better than other teams. Plus, dropping the fifth starter gives them one more arm out of the bullpen.
So if it's not a bullpen issue, is it a development issue? Are veterans more capable of pitching every fourth day than young starters? Are young starters at risk because they're pitching more often? Nope. It's not pitching frequently that tends to be bad for the arm, but throwing pitches when tired, as in high pitch counts. By limiting pitch counts, the Rockies are likely saving their young arms. And I can't really support this claim, but perhaps pitching more often will help them improve faster.
Might these young starters on three days rest be less effective than on four days rest. Perhaps, but I don't think so. Either way, that's not a young/old issue.
One other thing to consider is the rumor that pitching at Coors takes more out of you. The lack of oxygen creates more soreness and more fatigue. Is it more helpful to recovery to pitch shorter more often, or to pitch longer less often? I don't know. It would be an interesting thing to look at at. But again, that's not a young/old issue.
I'm a fan of the four-man rotation. I think it's advantageous and not that much of a risk, especially if starting pitchers are brought up preparing for it. I can't wait for many of the organizations who use it in their minor league systems to try it at the major league level. It won't suddenly improve a team by 10 wins, but if you can add up lots of these half-game advantages, it makes a difference.
Also, is there any hitter that's more attuned to his home ballpark than Vinny Castilla?
Starts in Colorado = total domination. Moves to AL = suck. Moves to Atlanta = sucks a little less. Moves back to Colorado = total domination.
In any case, his career definitely doesn't help the "Todd Helton would be a stud anywhere" argument.
GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS, ESPN
On Baseball Tonight, John Kruk was justed asked (I'm paraphrasing), "If you had to pick the AL Cy Young winner right now - the one pitcher you would want to start one game you had to win - would you pick Kevin Brown? Pedro Martinez? Curt Schilling? Who?"
To which John Kruk replied, "Jarrod Washburn".
Harold Reynolds agreed, saying "It's all about the wins. ERA can get distorted when pitchers have to pitch with a lead. They pitch to the score. Man, I can't believe I'm actually agreeing with Kruk."
It's good, Harold, that you briefly realized Kruk is a crazy man, but you are horribly horribly wrong about this.
ESPN, you pride yourself on being the World-Wide Leader in Sports. Frankly, you should call yourself the World-Wide Provider of Sports Broadcasting. True leadership implies having foresight, taking risks, and showing the courage to admit that the traditionalists just might be wrong.
Revolutionary ideas, correct ideas, ideas that stand on their own and don't need spin-doctors to keep them alive, can only be contained for so long. Eventually they will catch hold and spread like wildfire among the sports world. It's already happening, and it will only continue to accelerate. We don't need the help of ESPN, but they could help fan the flames, and in the process, truly show themselves to be the sports leader they claim to be. If they stick with the status quo, they'll be left in the dust.
Extra: For more of my thoughts in the Wins vs. ERA vs. Pitcher Talent issue, check out this thread at RotoJunkie.
RED SOX PLEDGE
If you tune into NESN broadcasts, you occasionally see ads of Red Sox players reciting a an altering version of the Pledge of Allegiance. I find a lot of Red Sox Nation thing annoying (mostly the anti-Yankee, non-baseball stuff), but this is pretty cool.
I pledge allegiance to the fans, of the entire Red Sox nation. And to the Fenway faithful, in all the stands. One team, under Terry, unbeatable. With offense, and pitching - Play ball.It comes across better if you actually watch the commercial.
SKYKING GETS 3000th HIT; LOCK FOR HALL
They say 3000 hits is a the biggest milestone of them all - one of those numbers that all but guarantees a spot in the Hall of Fame. Add in the fact that it only took one year to get there, and I don't think there's really any doubt on this one.
True, there have been slumps this past year, periods of non-posting that lasted longer than Derek Jeter's Luis Sojo impersonation. But between rotisserie baseball, Strat leagues, specific baseball news, and baseball analysis, I've got enough topics to keep me going at least a few times a week. Of course, those few times may all come on the same day when I find myself with some free time.
As those of you who also try to keep a blog know, any notes containing even mild words of encouragement are awesome. Your emails and the list of referring URL's are the only sign to me that people actually read anything here. Not that I need others to justify my ideas, it's more that you justify the fact that I take the time to post my ideas here. (I don't really pay too much attention to the site counter because 75% of those hits are probably from my mother or me.)
Anyways, comments are now working*, so it's easier to share you own opinions about the ideas I've shared. Currently, I'm especially interested in what people have to say about fantasy valuation.
* - working as well as any other aspect of Blogger software. Dont' be surprised if this blog suddently goes GreyMatter one of these months.
GRASS IS GREEN IN YANKEE LAND, TOO
Although the Yankees failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities to win today's game, there are some positive signs to take away from it on the hitting side of things.
Alex Rodriguez hit two homeruns, his 8th and 9th of the season, and raised his average to .291. Anyone still worried about him? I almost snagged him in a trade in my Strat league earlier this year, when his owner was worried about the lack of SS eligibility and early season slump. I don't think right now is the time to revisit that deal.
Bernie Williams continue to hit his way out of his horrible early season slump with a homerun. Bernie's a good hitter, and although he's getting old, and never had a ton of power, he's not totally finished. I expect a .280/.370/.460 kind of year from Bernie. And thank god he's playing, and hitting second, instead of Kenny Lofton. The only place I wouldn't mind seeing Lofton is second base.
Gary Sheffield also hit a homerun, only his third of the season. It might just be a slump, or his pre-season thumb injury might still be bothering him. Either way, the Yankees heed him to be at least 80% of his traditional self to keep pace with the Red Sox this year.
Whenever I have to tell people I'm both a Yankee fan and a Red Sox fan, they first demand an explanation (my dad brought me up a Yankee fan, then I went to school in Red Sox country and watched them daily), then they ask me how I can root for both of them. Well, in years like this when both organizations have great teams, it makes for one hell of a divisional race.
DARTMOUTH VS PRINCETON
I went to Dartmouth. Here's a link to an article in our school paper analyzing the Dartmouth vs. Princton playoff game from a sabrmetric point of view. As is pointed out over at Baseball Think Factory, there are some smallish flaws, but the author makes good points, and I can't resist posting a link to an article from my alma mater.
YOUKILIS FAILS TO TAKE A WALK
The Greek God of Walks, called up to replace Bill Mueller for the weekend, failed to take a walk in his first MLB game. Just goes to show you how minor league stats just don't translate to the Majors. And where did he get the idea that hitting a homerun would be productive? Just know your role, and stick to it, Kevin.
Ok, seriously, great to see Youkilis produce in his first MLB game. He should only be with the Red Sox for a few games, until Mueller returns. Youkilis might put up similar production to Mueller this year if given the chance, but Mueller's a better fielder, and Youkilis could use the time in AAA.
Two more pluses for the Red Sox today: Bellhorn hit a homerun and walked twice, and Arroyo pitched 8 shutout innings. How many times can you say a team is really happy with their two-hole hitter batting .236? And how happy must the Sox be that the fill-in for their disappointing submariner has turned out to be an above-average pitcher?
Bellhorn: 236/398/407 for a OBP-heavy 800 OPS
Arroyo: 1.09 WHIP, 3.53 ERA in 35 IP
BEING FAMOUS AND VALUATION THEORY
Studes mentioned this blog in the reference section of his Angels article over The Hardball Times and there have been a lot of extra hits here today. (That is, more than 7.) Thanks for the mention, and I'm glad to have "inspired" somebody else. I used to dislike the Angels, but the attitude taken by Arte Moreno, their new owner, has really impressed me. Their fast start has my prediction of them clearly winning the AL West looking pretty good right now. (And no, I'm not going to mention my bad predictions, like the fact that Miguel Cabrera will have a poor sophomore year.)
I'm not quite ready to type up a full entry on the idea, but I've been thinking a lot lately about fantasy valuation. For a long time I've been a big fan of the replacement model, where players get credit for their stats above and beyond positional replacement level, as a percentage of the overall pool. I'm changing my mind. To what, I'm not exactly sure yet.
Replacement makes sense. If everyone has to have a shortstop, the 8 homeruns that every available shortstop will hit aren't worth anything. If there are 500 homeruns available above replacement, 10 homeruns above replacement should be worth 10/500 of the money allocated to homeruns. You pay for stats based on supply and demand.
But here's the issue. Every category should have the same amount of money spent on it. (Well, not necessarily, but that's just a different, independent modification, so I'll ignore it for now.) Therefore the average money spent on homeruns by all teams should be the same as the average money spent on stolen bases should be the same as the average money spent on ERA, etc. And if a team spends that average amount of money in a category, they should expect to earn average roto points on that category.
Now, what if a team spends more money that average on one category, and that same amount less than average on another category? In theory, the number of points gained in category one should cancel out with the number of points lost in category two. But does replacement theory guarantee that? No. In fact, it's quite possible that spending an extra $15 on one category will get you 3 points, while spending an extra $15 on another category will only get you 2 points.
If you think of the number of stats needed to get a certain number of points in terms of the money you need to spend to get those stats, then you're really dealing with with the same unit for every category, that unit being money. (I think of this as normalization - but in a non-statistical way). Not all categories are are spread out in the same way. In some categories, it taks a lot of money to move from middle-of-the-pack to first place. In other categories, the distance is a lot closer.
To quote from this good thread over at Mastersball.
Traditionally, different categories tend to be spread out differing amounts. Why? I'm not exactly sure, but probably because the stats of some categories are spread between a lot of players (runs, rbis, strikeouts) while others are dominated by a small few (sbs, saves). So let's say the twelve teams are distributed like so in the HR and SB categories (the average team will spend 400/12 = $33 per category). These example distributions are both more dense towards the mean, and spread out towards the ends, which is typical. It's just that SBs are spread out more.HR: 18, 22, 25, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 41, 44, 48
So yes, I'm likely to eat a lot of my words that I've spewed about the replacement model over the years. But I think there might be some merit to combining the two techniques. It may makes sense to take into account replacement level before normalizing each statistic. I'm not sure. It may turn out not to matter.
ESPN.COM MLB SCOREBOARD
It seems as though Joe Kennedy just pitched a couple days ago. Well, that's because he did. The Rockies have moved to a 4-man rotation for the rest of the year or until disaster strikes, whichever comes first. I'm a big fan of the 4-man rotation, so I'll be hoping it works out "well" for the Rockies, mostly o that other teams won't be afraid to try it. Of course, it can't make your top four pitchers into studs; it can only allow you to avoid the awful fifth starter. Kennedy's the only Rockies pitcher flashing true skill, but we'll see if it keeps up the entire year. His dERA is at 3.88 compared to his actual ERA of 2.49, so he'll probably "disappoint" the rest of the season. But a Rockie with an ERA of 3.88 is something to be proud of. Let's go, Joe.
MARLIN POWER SPLIT
Three players on the Marlins have hit 9 HRs so far this year - Lowell, Choi, and Cabrera. Nobody else on the team has more than 2 HRs.
The Cubs, on the other hand, have every member of their starting lineups with at least 3 HRs, plus their 4th outfielder, but nobody's hit 9 HRs.
If the Dodgers had finished last in runs scored by only one run last year (instead of by 70 runs), they would have been expected to win 92.5 games, or 9 games better than they'd be expected to win given their actual runs scored. 92 wins would have been good enough for the Wild Card. (Which means there would be no talk about the amazing small-ball Marlins.) The Dodgers are off to a solid start this year, thanks to a competent, if not great, offense. As Bill James preached, there's value in being average. The 2003 3.19 team ERA didn't hurt, either.
Let's look at another NL West team that's having both an amazingly good year in one respect, and an amazingly poor year in another - the San Francisco Giants. Barry Bonds v. 2004 is putting Barry Bonds v.2001-2003 to shame, which is hard to do. And the rest of the San Francisco offense? Um, yeah.
Barry Bonds: 424/682/1.017 for a 1.699 OPS
Rest of team: one other players with an OPS above .800 - Marquis Grissom at .906
Bonds has created roughly 30 runs, making 34 outs. That works out to be about 22 runs/game (25 batting outs).
The rest of the team therefore has accounted for 98 runs in 720 batting outs. That works out to be 3.4 runs/game.
Last year, the offense that held the Dodgers out of the playoffs scored 3.5 runs/game. It's just criminal that a lineup featuring one of the best hitters of all time having one of the best years of all time might rival one of the most pathetic lineups of all time. Were the Giants able to find two league-average OBP players to bat first and second, and one or two solid power hitters to hit fourth and fifth, San Francisco would destroy opposing pitching. Brian Sabean gets cut a lot of slack, even by sabrmetric types, because he's built many successful teams using his own methods. But the 2004 Giants are a complete waste of talent. Hell, if the Red Sox can find a way to be at the top of the league in fielding and bullpen ERA, the Giants can find some MLB-ready hitters.
Update: The Hardball Times has Barry Bonds at 38 Runs Created. My 30 runs created was a rough estimate using Extrapolated Runs, making sure to treat the IBB differently from the non-IBB. If we credit Barry with creating 38 runs, that puts him at 28 RC/25 and the rest of the Giants offense at 3.1 RC/25. Way, WAY more pathetic.
THE HARDBALL TIMES STATISTICS
I love these graphs. Not only do they contain information slightly different from what you can get anywhere else, it's real easy to visually see how the teams compare to each other.
Today I was looking at the DER (defensive efficiency ratio - the percentage of balls in play that the defense turns into outs) of the Anaheim Angels. The Angels have been a pretty good fielding team since their championship year, thanks in large part to Darin Erstad in centerfield. John Lackey pitched a shutout last night, yielding only three hits in 9 innings. He also only struck out 3 batters, thus relying on his fielders for a whole lot of help. Are the Angels still a good fielding team even with Erstad at firstbase?
Nope. Their DER this year is basically in a three-way tie for last in the American League with Detroit and Minnesota. Their all turning balls-in-play into outs a 66.4% clip. The top team in the AL, Tampa Bay, is at 72.0%. Boston, following the "screw the fundamentals/Moneyball" approach, is second in the league in fielding.
How were the Angels at fielding over the past few years? Looking at the historical graphs over at Baseball Graphs, I estimated the Angels DERs the years Erstad has played CF (since Edmonds left). Also, after each year is the number of games Erstad played in CF.
2004: 66.4% (13th in AL) - none
2003: 71.5% (4th in AL) - 66 (all when healthy)
2002: 73.5% (1st in AL) - 143
2001: 71.8% (4th in AL) - 146
2000: 71.5% (1st in AL) - 30 (112 in left, GAnderson in CF)
Hmm, looks like some great fielding most of those years, and then a crash this year. Garret Anderson played CF in 14 games, actually posting lower range factors and zone ratings than Chone Figgins and Jeff DaVanon in the same number of games.
Yup, if Erstad's going to be taking up a spot in that lineup, he should be in CF.
I've tried a few times to write about the anti-Moneyball backlash going on, especially over at ESPN.com and on Baseball Tonight. Each time my thoughts haven't come out very coherently, but Jay Jaffe was nice enough to write almost exactly what I was trying to write.
I don't usually link to other articles, but this one is definitely worth reading.
As far as Buster Olney's Productive Outs article goes, the part that amuses me the most is that the anti-statistics movement not only tries to use a statistic to prove its point, but uses the statistic poorly. As usual, the argument ends up being something like, "'Cause I said so."
As far as ESPN baseball announcers go, the part that amuses me the most is that the guys who had pretty good careers (Joe Morgan and John Kruk) owe much of their success to OBP, especially Kruk who was approximately a career .300/.400/.450 hitter.