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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Win Shares and "Valuableness"

As glad as I am that Derek Jeter did not win the MVP, there are still things to be said about the MVP award and overall player "valuableness" (if that's even a word). So to begin...

Offensive Valuableness: Although this idea just hit me yesterday, I'm sure that it already exists as some stat that I've read about before but forgotten. So we've been saying here that Jeter really isn't that valuable to the Yankees (surrounded by 8 other All-Stars & 2 former MVP's, etc..). But there hasn't really been a way to quantify it, until now. (Note the following stats are from ESPN's Stats page provided by Stats, Inc.) So everyone knows that Jeter beat Morneau in RC with 128.2 to 119.7 which does indicate that Jeter provided more offensive production than Morneau. However, what if you took Jeter's RC (i.e. offensive contribution to the Yankees) and found it as a % of the total RC by the Yankee team (952.5) and did the same for Morneau with the Twins (809.7). Jeter accounts for 13.5% of the Yanks RC (theoretical) and Morneau for 14.8% of the Twins RC (theoretical). So Morneau created a larger % of runs (i.e. offensive value)for his team. Doesn't that therefore make him more valuable? Now the obvious problem with this method of calculation is that if you took Travis Hafner and put him on a team with 8 Nefi Perez's, his % of RC would probably be somewhere near 75%, but of course the team would never win. So yes as your team diminishes, a player's value would increase, but past a certain point the argument doesn't hold. It probably isn't good for an absolute comparison between 2 players, but rather a relative comparison between 2 players that are very similar in other statistical areas (this year Jeter, Ortiz, Hafner, Frank Thomas, Mauer, etc..) Now one could make the argument that transplanting someone like Hafner onto the Yankees and instantly his % of RC (and therefore valuableness) would drop. However, I'd like to think that if Hafner batted with AROD/Giambi/6 other All-Stars protecting him, his stats (and RC) would improve since he would see more pitches to hit with a much better lineup and thus accumulate hits rather than walks. Granted, this is only a measurement for offensive production and does not take into account defense or baserunning (or "intangibles"--which basically means being lucky enough to win 4 WS rings in your first 5 years). It seems to me that this would be a logical way to judge how valuable a player was to his team on a purely offensive basis during a year.

Win Shares: Win shares is a statistic used by sabermaticians to argue about player's statistical performance during a season. Although the idea is well-intentioned "evaluating the contribution of individual players to their teams' overall performance..", it fails in that player's who play on teams which underperform relative to their RS and RA are punished (in that their WS totals are lower than they should be). The majority of Win Shares accrued by players is based on offense so this discussion is only dealing with those. There are 4 possible scenarios that can happen in any game due to 2 categories of outcomes summarized in the table below:

Results on Offensive Win SharesTeam WinsTeam Loses
Player performs wellPlayers gets large credit towards WSPlayers gets no credit (deserved) towards WS
Players performs poorlyPlayers gets little credit towards WSPlayers gets no credit (undeserved) towards WS

When a player's team wins he gets the large or small amount of credit that is due to him based on his offensive performance. When the team loses, the player gets 0 credit towards WS. If the player performed poorly, then he was losing very credit he would have gotten if they won (although if you use a system with negative win shares, I suppose it is possible that in winning a player would receive negative win shares for extremely poor performance which would lower his WS as compared to adding 0 from a loss). Now, if the player performed well but the team loses, he gets no credit, whereas he should have received a large amount. This is the fundamental flaw (as I see it) in WS. Players who perform well in games where they team still loses are penalized in that their WS are artificially low. Case in point: Travis Hafner. Hafner played on a team last year which scored 90 more runs than they allowed last year, but finished 4 games under .500. How does this happen? Terrible pitching or more specifically terrible bullpen pitching. A theoretical example follows: suppose Travis Hafner has an excellent day at the plate (2-5, HR, 3 RBI). The Indians have the lead entering the 8th 4-3. However, the White Sox come back and steal the win 5-4. Thus, Hafner gets no (due) credit for his performance. But if they could have held the lead, then Hafner would have gotten something added onto his WS total. Perhaps you realized that his scenario I just described actually happened. Multiple times. The Indians blew 23 save chances last year, which didn't even lead the AL--thank you KC, but they did have the worse save % in all of baseball--51%. If the Indians were league average and saved 66% of their games, they would have had 7 more wins, which would have meant some more credit for Hafner (the level of which is unknown). The whole point of this is that Hafner's WS total is dependent upon 2 things: his individual performance to produce offense (which he has complete control over--for the most part) and his team's ability to win baseball games (which he has somewhat minimal control over--especially on the pitching side). Thus, when relief pitchers or even starting pitchers blow games and the Indians lose those games even though Travis Hafner played tremendously well, he doesn't get any credit towards helping his team win (even though in some cases he clearly did).

P.S. He beats Jeter in OBP, SLG and provided essentially the same value as Jeter offensively in 5 months that Jeter did over 6 months. Plus, he has his own freakin' candy bar. Not some gay cologne. We love Travis Hafner.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Jokesters at

As I'm sure you've all noticed, fiscal sanity has taken a vacation this fall, and GM's across the continent from Toronto to Chicago to Los Angeles have been throwing money around more foolishly than my high school friends on an underage Malaysian boy cruise (i.e. very foolishly).

In particular the signings of Juan Pierre and Gary Matthews Jr have drawn considerable and much deserved criticism from sports writers (even NY Post's George King was able to take some time out from imagining that Beltran was more valuable than Pujols in 2006). Amusingly, there is one place that each of these signings is seen as a great move. One place that can find no fault with these soon to be albatross contracts. And that place is as you may guessed

Regarding the Dodgers signing of Juan Pierre to a shocking $45 million dollar deal, MLB struggled to find positive things to write, choosing to point out that Pierre played 162 games in 2006 rather than focus on his .330 OBP or his career high in outs. Unable to come up with enough to say regarding Pierre's 2006 season, rather hysterically drifts back to 2003:

During the Marlins' championship season of 2003, Pierre finished 10th in National League MVP voting, as he led the league in five categories, including games (162), at-bats (668), stolen bases (65), singles (168) and sacrifice hits (15).

Any Dodgers fans out there worrying about how their team will score runs in 2007 can surely take solace in knowing that in 2003, their new centerfielder led the National League in sacrifice hits. So when Pierre comes up with a runner on third and less than 2 outs, fans can rest assured that he will indeed ground out.'s thoughts on the Angels signing of Gary Matthews Jr are priceless. The whole article can be found here, but before we go over some highlights, lets take a look at Gary Matthews Jr.
It's pretty obvious that this 32 year old centerfielder had a career year in 2006, but just how much of an anomaly his season was may surprise you.

Career Avg.791458136.263.336.419.755
2006 1021979194.313.371.495.866

Clearly, the Angles are paying Matthews with the expectation that his career will continue along like his 2006 season. This is a big chance the usually cautious Angels are taking, and quite frankly there is no evidence to support their assumption. apparently sees no risk:

  • The Angels landed a centerpiece for their holiday table with the signing of free agent Gary Matthews Jr. on Wednesday
  • Matthews represents an offseason victory for the Angels
  • The 32-year-old will take over in center field and provide Gold Glove-caliber defense while adding speed and some power to the top of the order seems to have Matthews confused with Johnny Damon, or Vernon Wells. Oh well, we all should have known Matthews would be woefully overpaid as soon as he made the All Star team and Travis Hafner did not.

Now it's time to sit back and wait to see who will be the next team to overpay for a mediocre player. Who will get the next outragious contract? Surely a pitcher will sign soon, and whether it's Schmidt, Suppan, Lilly, Meche or Zito the team who signs them will most likely regret it within a few years. But probably not as much as the Angels will regret the Matthews signing. And when they do, I don't expect to read about it on

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

AL MVP Voting---George King is an Idiot

Earlier today (11/21) in a chat Rob Neyer was asked

"Connor (Seattle): Why do we get so wrapped up in these nonsense awards? Who cares who wins the silver slugger or the gold glove? My opinion - every player would trade MVP or Gold Glove for a World Series Ring.

Rob Neyer: The awards themselves have little "meaning," but they do give us a chance to ask some important questions, and for that reason alone they serve us well.

Eh..not exactly. To quote Biff from B2TF pt 2: "Now, McFly, let's here the right answer?"
Ok, the reason people care so much is because the awards (which are for the most part meaningless/nonsense) are used by people justify arguments such as HOF status, but also used to justify other awards. Case in point: Tim Kurkjian on ESPNEWS today talking about Derek Jeter (note: the good part is about 35 seconds in):

"..But when you look at Jeter's numbers, 2nd in the league in Runs scored, etc, etc...Gold Glove at a premium defensive position for the best team in the league..etc."

I guess the reason reason that people (such as myself) care so much about these awards is because there are other people who place too much stock in them and use them to justify other things (even other awards). So we (the ones who care) pretty much know the awards are meaningless, but because other people out there think they are the end-all be-all in player evaluation, we want them to be awarded fairly and accurately. Because otherwise you end up with idiots trying to tell you that Jeter is a good defensive fielder because he has won 3 Gold Gloves (which everyone who follows baseball knows is not true).

We're not going to spend much more time debating and rehashing all the arguments because you can find them everywhere, but I just want to mention a couple of points regarding the voting and the arguments that have emerged in the final 3 days.

Keith Law called Morneau "a laughable choice for MVP" (then quickly changed the title of his post to "Mauer would've been better choice") . He is correct that is you are judging MVP purely on statistics and placing significant weight on fielding ability, then Morneau finishes a distant 3rd (or worse) behind Mauer and Jeter. But MVP has never been based purely on statistics (if it was, AROD would have 6 by now). He did note (correctly) some terrible voting mistakes such as leaving Mauer off of 5 ballots, someone voting AJ Pierzynski 10th (wtf?), and 3 people who put Frank Thomas 2nd despite the fact that he was only the 3rd best DH in the AL much less overall player.

Buster Olney laid out a fairly good case for Morneau being the MVP and it contains many of the same reasons we used here at REAL BBBB. He cites their statistics relative to their positions in the lineup (#3 vs #5 for Mauer vs Morneau) and something you might not have known "Morneau had more RBI with runners in scoring position than any player in the majors, while ranking 11th in RISP at-bats." In comparing Morneau to Mauer, its obvious that Morneau generated more runs on the offensive end (as demonstrated by RC 119.7-107.6). I'd like to see a "Runs Prevented" metric for defensive ability. How many more runs did Mauer prevent with his excellent defense than Morneau with his average defense? If the sum total of Runs Created/Runs Prevented comes out higher I would have no problem with judging Mauer as more valuable than Morneau.

Now to talk about Jeter, Buster Olney makes an excellent point which somehow every Jeter lover always overlooks: "Offense from No. 2 hitters like Jeter is great but not necessarily integral, not when you've got a $13 million guy hitting in front of you, a $15 million-a-year guy batting third, a $25.2 million player batting cleanup and a $17 million-a-year guy hitting fifth. "
Or as we've been saying here at REAL BBBB all along, "8 All-Stars and 2 former MVP's providing batting lineup protection couple with subpar SS defense and the best closer of all time, yet a #2 singles hitter is the reason they win." No, didn't think so. Which brings us to my next point.

In response to the above argument, many people have been saying that because Morneau had 2 teammates who finished in the top 10 of the voting (and Jeter didn't) that the argument about Jeter's supporting cast isn't valid and therefore Morneau really wasn't all that important. This argument is complete crap because while it is true that Santana performed better than any starting pitcher and Mauer perhaps performed better than any other Yankee hitter, the fact remains that the other 7 Twins hitters performed much much worse than the other 8 Yankee hitters (on an individual basis)--including those other 8 hitters which have all been All-Stars and have 3 MVP's between them. Same thing with the pitching. Santana had 24 QS, Mussina 23. Comparing all other starters Minn 49, NY 56. Or look at starters ERA besides Santana & Mussina: Twins 5.44, Yankees 4.82. So yes, the Twins had one A+++ starter and one A+ catcher besides Morneau, but there are also 18 other players on the Twins (C's, D's, F's---Kyle Lohse, Scott Baker) significantly worse than those other 24 on the Yankees.

Finally, Rob Neyer had a whole post about deciding the MVP as an empiricist (statistics) or intuitionist (best player on a winning team). The MVP isn't clearly defined so some people vote one way and some people vote another way. If you want to make the award an empiricist award, fine; a logical argument could be made for Jeter on the basis of his VORP and Win Shares (although again, I believe this total is inflated because of his team) that deserves the MVP. And although he does come up lacking in certain statistical measures (even VORP where he barely beat a guy who didn't swing a bat for the final month of the season), on pure statistical, offensive statistical evidence there's a case to be made for Jeter as MVP. Now on the other side, you have the argument player who was the most pivotal factor in helping his team reach the playoffs. The question really is "Who was most responsible for Team X winning?" This would be how Frank Thomas finished so high in the voting. While some use the same statistics to determine the answer, its an inherently different question than "Who was the best player?" Frank Thomas clearly wasn't the 4th best player in the AL; he probably wasn't even 10th best in the AL. But if you took him away from the A's, they would probably go from a division winning team to a middle of the pack .500 team battling it with Texas (or so the argument would go). What Neyer and Law refuse to comprehend is that removing Jeter from the Yankees would have minimal impact on the number of wins and overall offensive output (this gets into a whole side argument about win shares which I am going to post later). This also comes back to the name of the award (Most Valuable Player, not Player of the Year). Thus, I don't think Jeter can honestly be considered as an Intuitionist candidate. As a statistical (empiricist) argument, sure, an argument combining statistical and intuitional evidence, perhaps, but not using soley intuitionist reasoning which is apparently what most voters did this year (as in most year's past).

One more thing. George King is a total moron. This guy has the gall to complain about the MVP voting here. Now you might be asking doesn't he have the right to complain about the voting? And the answer is no. No he doesn't. Not when he left Pedro (23-4, 2.07, .92, 313) Martinez off his MVP ballot completely because he claimed "MVP is for everyday players. Pitchers have their own award.", yet voted for 2 pitchers (David Wells, Rick Helling) the year before (1998) for the exact same award. Email George King: and tell him "George, you have no right to complain about the MVP voting this year when you left Pedro Martinez off your ballot in 1999 because you said pitchers aren't eligible for MVP, yet you voted for 2 pitchers the year before (in 1998). "

Monday, November 20, 2006


Ryan Howard wins the NL MVP over Albert Pujols. Most people would agree that Pujols was clearly better than Howard this season (except of course that he had fewer HR and RBI's which could be attributed both to a 2 week absence and playing in a pitcher's park instead of a bandbox). We don't need to run down the litany of statistics which could used to demonstrate this point as Rob Neyer has already done here. What I would like to do is point out three interesting (and somewhat stupid things about this vote):

1) Pujols was actually voted 3rd on 1 ballot - One writer (*cgh, *cgh George King) voted Beltran ahead of Pujols. It's not that Beltran had a *bad* year; it's just that Pujols was better than him in almost every offensive aspect of the game (one interesting stat to compare--SLG in close & late situations---Pujols .792, Beltran .532---Yes Pujols outslugged Beltran by over 400 pts in close & late situations). Also, even though Beltran's numbers may be worse than they should be since his home AVG was the worst in the NL, Pujols home park was no hitter's paradise either. So, the statistical argument for Beltran is pretty weak (unless you base it completely on the fact that he plays CF a more demanding position than 1B). Plus, (and this is essentially the anti-Derek Jeter argument which I've yet to see be refuted yet), Beltran's supporting cast (offensively) was much much better than Pujols. If you don't already know this because you live in a cave, then I would offer the fact that the Mets had players ranked 20, 24, 58th (Reyes, Wright, Delgado) in VORP (not including Beltran) and the Cardinals 55th (Rolen). So you can't make the he's the reason that the team wins argument (which is essentially the one used for Ryan Howard--even though he had the best offensive 2B in all of baseball in his lineup). So what's the reason left to vote for Beltran over Pujols then?

2) The gawdy HR/RBI totals persuaded the voters in the NL - There's a perception that voters drool over extremely high HR/RBI (i.e. power) numbers and give those much more weight in voting for MVP (if you aren't familiar with that go here). The fact that Ryan Howard won the award would seem to indicate that trend is continuing. Which should bode well for David Ortiz. Did Ortiz lead the league in HR's (check). Lead the league in RBI's (check). Yet, Ortiz will be lucky to finish 3rd all because the Red Sox faded down the stretch and finished 3rd. Maybe it was because Ortiz simply faded down the stretch in September. Nope, already debunked that myth here. The point of all of this is that in the NL the voters go for the gawdy HR/RBI totals while ignoring a player with better offensive (and defensive numbers), while in the AL it looks like they are going to not award a player with the gawdy offensive numbers (Ortiz), but rather one without the gawdy power numbers and whose numbers are worse (Jeter). So, shouldn't the same uniform standard be applied to both leagues???

3) Some baseball writers are total morons - Although this is really a continuation of #1, it bears repeating: some baseball writers have absolutely no clue what when it comes to evaluating baseball players & their statistics. Although this will be expanded more in our next post on the AL MVP race, it's clear that some writers know only about their hometown and much else. Lance Berkman was 9th on 1 writer's ballot. Yes, 9th. Looking at the stats he was 3rd in OPS, 4th in VORP, 3rd (tied) in Win Shares, and hit a ton of homeruns on a terrible offensive team (next to last in SLG, 6th to last in Runs). So its very difficult to make the stats argument that there were 8 players better (statistically) than Berkman. How about the winning team/playoff argument? Although Houston finished with worse records than PHI or STL, they were closer to making the playoffs than other team and only missed by 1.5 games. Think maybe Berkman's Sept. had anything to do with it (9/24/.330/1.109). Also, if you look at the other 5 players besides Pujols/Beltran/Howard who were voted ahead of him on this ballot, you either have more players on the Mets (who are somehow more valuable despite being an additional player on a team with a higher ranking MVP candidate as compared to a player on a team with no MVP candidate), Marlins (who finished behind Houston in the Wild Card race), Nationals (no way Soriano can be considered MVP until his OBP is at least .370), Phillies (re-read the article for multiple Mets candidates), or Padres. In any case, there is no excuse for voting Lance Berkman 9th because he was not statistically worse than 8 other players in the NL nor was "contribution to team winning playoff possibility" worse.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


A-Rod has been despised by Yankee fans and sportswriters for pretty much all of the 2006 season. Now we find out just how far that anomisity extends when we see that Joe Crede was voted the "Silver Slugger" at 3B in the AL for 2006. Never mind the fact that the only offensive categories that Joe Crede beat A-Rod in were Doubles (31 to 26) and GIDP (21 to 25). Not AVG. Not HR. Not RBI. Not OPS. Not SecA. Not EqvA. Not IsoP. Not RC/27. One might wonder then how Joe Crede would be chose to receive the Silver Slugger award. A quick trip to the wikipedia entry for Silver Slugger Awards provides all the details we need to know:

"Winners are picked by major league managers and coaches, who are not allowed to vote for their own players. "

Oh. So that's why.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Arod vs. Jeter: The Idiot's Debate

Recently, I received an email from a buddy of mine which included some very odd statements, which I will share with you, dear readers. One thing that my cowriter and I here at realbbbb cannot stand is when people make statements and offer no evidence of any kind to substantiate it. For example, my father recently said "I don't know why people hate George Bush so much, he's done a fine job in office." I asked him to clarify that a bit, and provide some evidence and he sort of mumbled and trailed off. This irritates me more when it comes to baseball, because unlike politics, I actually know a lot about it, and when people tell me things I know they have no evidence for, it really aggrevates me. (The only thing that upsets me more, is when I catch myself doing this and then rush to see if I was right and realize that regrettably I was not)

The 3 statements by my friend to which I most strongly object can be found in the following uninteresting post.

1. "Arod can't hold Jeter's jock. Besides Jeter is a clutch player."

Assuming he does not mean this literally, this is quite plainly a stupid thing to say. I cannot imagine what statistics he is thinking of when he said this, and I'm left to assume he was simply ignoring the stats all together. He'd have to be, because I've listed them in the following table. It's not a tough comparison.

Derek Jeter vs Alex Rodridguez Career Offensive Statistics


I see no need to discuss the numbers in the above table. Therefore, I will not.

Now onto the 'clutch' part. Most baseball statisticians will tell you that clutch hitting does not exist. The fine people at Baseball Prospectus have taken the time to more or less prove that no hitter is consistently clutch from year to year. The most likely reason for this is luck. To get a hit in a particular at bat, no matter how good you are, or how much you want to get a hit the most you can do is try to hit the ball hard. Even if you do, more often than not the ball is going to be caught.

To satisfy those who want to know, let's take a look at the two players in question and see how they did with Runners In Scoring Position (RISP) Shall we?

Jeter '05.261.386.355
Jeter '06.381.482.581
Arod '05.290.410.484
Arod '06.303.431.508

Obviously, Jeter's 2006 is pretty damn good. Surprisingly for some, Arod's 2006 is also good. Though clearly, not as good. However, Jeter's "clutchness" if you will certainly varies from '05 to '06. Through their careers they are fairly similar with Jeter holding a slight edge in Average and OBP, and Arod having the expected large advantage in Slugging. Make of the numbers what you will, but sometimes just because you feel certain ways about players, that doesn't make it true.

2. "Obviously Jeter is better, he's got 4 rings and Arod has none, and Jeter is the career leader in postseason hits ands runs."

Not sure where to start here. I suppose we'll start with the idea that the number of World Series rings a player wins is directly related to how good that player is. (dwthb-for those mathetmatically inclined folks (such as myself), such an equation might look like this: where Sl = Skill Level and Ws = # of World Series Rings won.) We all know this is not the case. World Series are won by team and not players, unless the one player in question is a starting pitcher who starts 3 times in a 7 game series (gibson, lolitch, koufax, matthewson) and dominates. His suggestion that the reason Arod has not won a world series and Jeter has is that Jeter is the better player is perhaps a bit misdirected. A better reason for the disparity in W.S. rings can be seen in the following table.


Team ERA: 5.21

Ace: Sterling Hitchcock: 13-9, 5.35

Closer: Norm Charlton: 20 sv, 4.04

Team ERA: 4.65

Ace: Andy Pettitte: 21-8, 3.87

Closer: John Wetteland: 43 sv, 2.83


Team ERA: 4.79

Ace: Randy Johnson: 20-4, 2.28

Closer: Norm Charlton: 14 sv, 7.27

Team ERA: 3.84

Ace: Pettitte: 18-7, 2.88

Closer: Mariano Rivera: 43 sv, 1.88


Team ERA: 4.95

Ace: Jamie Moyer: 15-9, 3.53

Closer: Mike Timlin: 19 sv, 2.95

Team ERA: 3.82

Ace: Wells: 18-4, 3.49

Closer: Mariano Rivera: 36 sv, 1.91


Team ERA: 5.24

Ace: Freddie Garcia: 17-8, 4.07

Closer: Jose Mesa: 33 sv, 4.98

Team ERA: 4.13

Ace: Orlando Hernandez: 17-9, 4.12

Closer: Mariano Rivera: 45, 1.83


Team ERA: 4.50

Ace: Aaron Sele: 17-10, 4.51

Closer: Kazuhiro Sasaki: 37 sv, 3.16

Team ERA: 4.76

Ace: Clemens: 13-8, 3.70

Closer: Mariano Rivera: 36 sv, 2.85


Team ERA: 5.71

Ace: Rick Helling: 12-11, 5.17

Closer: Jeff Zimmerman: 20 sv, 2.40

Team ERA: 4.02

Ace: Roger Clemens: 20-3, 3.51

Closer: Mariano Rivera: 50 sv, 2.34


Team ERA: 5.15

Ace: Kenny Rogers: 13-8, 3.84

Closer: Hideki Irabu: 16 sv, 5.74

Team ERA: 3.87

Ace: David Wells: 19-7, 3.75

Closer: Mariano Rivera: 28 sv, 2.74


Team ERA: 5.67

Ace: John Thomson: 13-14, 4.85

Closer: Ugueth Urbina: 26 sv, 4.19

Team ERA: 4.02

Ace: Mike Mussina: 17-8, 3.40

Closer: Mariano Rivera: 40 sv, 1.66

Obviously, pitching is what wins. Only once from 1996-2003 did Arod's team post a better ERA than Jeter's team. That would be in 2000, when the two teams met in the 2000 ALCS, with the Yankees beating the Mariners in 6 games. Before you ask, Arod batted .409 with a 1.253 OPS in that series. (It's rare for one pitcher to singlehandedly win a series, but common for a pitcher to lose a series. Exhibit A would be Arthur Rhodes in this ALCS, who blew 2 games and ended the series with an ERA of 31.50)

It's also worth noting how important closers truly are. The Yankees have had 2 closers during Jeter's time as their shortstop, while Arod's teams had different (and minimally successful) closers in every year but one.

Last thing in regard to this quote. Jeter is in fact the career leader in postseason hits and runs. I can't argue that. He is however, also the career leader in at bats, strikeouts and total outs. Why? Because he's played so many postseason games (only Bernie Williams has appeared in more).

3. "As Jeter goes, the Yankees go."

This is a strange statement. And frankly, a hard one to prove or disprove, as would be any other example of a player and team, especially without the benefit of a statistics team working behind me. There are basically 2 ways to go about checking on this that I can think of. The first is comparing Jeter's statistics in Yankee Wins vs. his stats in Yankee losses. Unfortunately, loser though I am, I have neither the time nor resources to do this.

The other way is to look at the teams performance without the player in question. The only such evidence we have is the 2003 season, when Jeter dislocated his shoulder on a slide into third (thank you Ken Huckaby). He missed the month of April that year. So the question is, did the Yankees suffer?

The answer is no. They went 20-6 in April of 2003, their best record in any month that season. They also allowed the fewest runs of any month in their season that April. Obviously, this is a pretty small sample size and it probably doesn't tell us much. But at the very least it tell us that the Yankees can probably survive without Jeter. What's interesting, and I don't want to beat this argument into the ground (because if anybody who still thinks Jeter is one of the best fielding shorstops out there obviously doesn't care much for "facts") but lets look at range factors for the team, shall we?

Erick Almonte; 4.14

Enrique Wilson: 3.94

Derek Jeter: 3.75

Let's not forget that the league average for shortstops that year was 4.54. Small samples, but worth noting.

One last attempt at taking this statement down. Jeter has hit .500 in 2 different playoff series: The 2002 ALDS vs. Anaheim and the 2006 ALDS vs. Detroit. Yankees lost both series in 4 games. What does that mean? That when Jeter is at his best, it's just not enough to carry a team as my buddy suggests. By the way, it's obviously still impressive to hit .500 in a 4 game series, but it's clear that one player hitting .500 does not win a series.

These two examples are obviously small samples (a month in 2003, two 4 game series) but it's the best I could do without going through thousands of boxscores. (again)

One final note, I think that if you were to say that "as ------- goes, the Yankees go," wouldn't it have to be Mariano Rivera? Afterall from 1997-2001 when the Yankees were at their height, they failed to win the World Series twice in those 5 years. What happened in the playoffs in those 2 years that didn't happen in the other 3? Rivera blew a save (1997 vs. Cleveland, 2001 vs. Arizona).

* For the record, this post was not about saying that Jeter is a bad player. He most certainly is not. He's a very good player. Anybody actually trying to say that he sucks, is retarded. But the ideas that he is better than Arod, or that he's the reason the Yankees have won 4 World Series are simply silly ideas.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Other Off-Season Predictions

Of course, there's more going on this offseason that just the 10 names we discussed earlier. So I offer up 7 other offseason discussion topics (teams, players, etc.) to really get that hotstove going. After all, there's more to do in the offseason that watch reruns of The Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic Channel - right?

1. Juan Pierre - The Cubs thought they had the perfect catalyst and table setter in front of Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. While Lee got hurt, Pierre simply underperformed. Or at least that was the thinking. But did he really? Here are his 2006 numbers compared to his 2005 numbers:


















It looks like Pierre actually improved on his '05 season, (and actually set a career high with 32 doubles) but suffered from a lack of more run producers behind him to drive him in. Pierre will only be 29 on opening day, and still in his "prime" so it's possible that a team that needs an outfielder could get a bargain here.
Atlanta needs a leadoff hitter and could use Pierre in left field for '07 and then to replace Andruw Jones in center when he leaves for boatloads of money after next season.
Chicago will probably want to keep Pierre and hope with a full season from Lee, that Pierre can get back to scoring 100 runs.
Giants might be in the market for an outfielder, maybe in left...

2. Daisuke Matsuzaka - There is a lot of speculation about the possible destinations for this far east import. How good will he be? Nobody really knows. He obviously has good stuff, but of course, so did Hideki Irabu. I think we can narrow down the possibilities to the following: Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Cubs. Would any other team be willing to shell out $30million just for the right to negotiate with Boras? (Personally, I think every team would be willing to spend $30million to drop Boras in the ocean.) What's interesting about the posting the process, is that if some team wanted to just block the Yankees, they could bid $60million and then just lowball Matsuzaka. If he stays in Japan, the MLB team gets its posting fee back. Interesting.
Most likely destination: Texas sees a quick fix for its pitching staff. And this team loves the idea of a quick fix (see Rodriguez, A - Park, C) and they have money to spend.

3. Gary Sheffield - Obviously, everybody should hate this guy, right? Has he ever left a team on good terms? Maybe Atlanta, but after his less than sterling 3-30 combined postseason effort with the Braves, I don't think Bobby Cox and Co. were begging him to stick around any longer. Does anybody else wonder why Sheffield was given a free pass after the Yankees' 2004 ALCS collapse? Did anybody notice that in games 4-7 Sheffield went 1-17 with 0 RBI? Somehow, this guy got a reputation as a big game player, but I dont know where or how. His career playoff batting average is .248, an OPS of .799, with 6 homers and 19 RBI in 44 games. But moving on, he would fit perfectly with the Phillies (between Utley and Howard) and in Houston, protecting Berkman. Those short fences would be fun for him to take aim at. And as Tyler Kepner of the NY Times pointed out this morning, since he's so close to 500 homers, a holdout for more money is unlikely.

4. Alex Rodriguez - If you stop any Yankee fan on the street (and right about now they are hard to find, try again next September, when as usual they come crawling out of the woodwork like the relatives of a lottery winner), they'll tell you what a choker Arod is. These no doubt, are the same people who in 2005 were arguing that he deserved the MVP. Admittedly, Arod's 2006 season was a dropoff from 2005 but he still hit 35 homers with 121 RBI. And after two consecutive lousy playoff series (fans forget that Jeter was a combined 6-44 in the 2001 ALCS/WS, but hey that's not his fault) fans want him out of town. Well, here are 2 big reasons why that won't happen:
1. With arod gone, the Yankee lineup would be a little onesided. Damon - Jeter - Abreu - Matsui - Giambi - Cano. Top 6 hitters, 1 righty. And that one has no power. The Yankees need Arod's righthanded bat to hit cleanup right between Abreu and Matsui, especially with Sheffield likely to be out the door.
2. At this point, Arod has to consider his decision to come to the Yankees a complete disaster. He will no longer be considered the greatest shortstop ever. The media is convinced that he cannot handle playing in NY and he constantly finds himself being compared to a player (Jeter) that he is clearly superior to in every imaginable way (looks not withstanding) but has had the misfortune, unlike Jeter, to arrive in NY when the pitching staff is not at the height of its strength and cannot carry the Yankees to the World Series. So what can he do? If he accepts a trade, in the eyes of many he is admitting that he can't handle it. Will his ego allow him to do that? I doubt it. My guess is if he can overcome being dropped to 6th and then 8th in the lineup in the playoffs (an epic managerial gaffe, of which only Rob Neyer of ESPN has even begun to mention the ramifications) ARod will return to hitting cleanup between Abreu and Matsui and have a career year. But hey, I've been wrong before.

5. Ervin Santana - Seems that a lot of big names have been mentioned in trade rumors with this young flamethrower. He gained notoriety by outdueling Mike Mussina in a big game (but really, how hard is that), and had a solid sophomore campaign in 2006. The Angels have apparently dangled him while trying to acquire Arod, Tejada and Carl Crawford. Obviously, those 3 players are All-Star quality offensive forces. But why would the Angels, at a time when young quality pitchers are worth their weight in HGH, I mean gold, dangle such a hot commodity? Are they scared off by his 5.95 road ERA in 2006? A 24 year old starter in the AL who allows less than a hit/inning pitched and holds batters to a .311 OBP should be more of a centerpiece. But the Angels appear to want to upgrade their offense, and with Arod unlikely to be dealt, here's betting Santana ends up in Tampa Bay with Carl Crawford setting the table to Vlad.

6. Boston Red Sox - For the first 4 months of the 2006 season, the Red Sox miraculously conceled just how terribly flawed they were. Nobody seemed to notice how bad Beckett was actually pitching, or how the bullpen had only one reliable reliever, or how Matt Clement was a joke, or that David Wells wasn't back yet, or that Mark Loretta had about as much pop in his bat as Luis Castillo, but without the speed. All of that was conceled by the Consistencey of Schilling, Papelbon, Wakefield, Ortiz, Manny, and a plethora of big clutch hits and late inning comebacks. This team was so defying the laws of nature by not failing that God himself tried to kill it (Ortiz's heart, Jon Lester's illness). But now that the dust has settled, we can look back on the 2006 season and wonder how anybody thought a team starting Kyle Snyder and Jason Johnson had a chance to go anywhere. Now the questions are mounting for Boston:
Will Beckett actually be good? - He should be better. As soon as he remembers his changeup.
Does Schilling have one more year left in the tank? - Maybe not 6 months, but at least 4.
Will Wakefield come back strong? - Should be fine.
Can Clement just take out the clubhouse garbage each day?
Will Papelbon's shoulder handle starting? - Everything I've read indicates it should be good.
Who will close? - My money is on Gagne.
Who will set up? - Timlin was bad last year and got tired. Hansen is not ready. Tavarez looked
good while starting late in the season.
Who will play second and short? - Julio Lugo will probably fill one of those voids.
Where will the runs come from? - Besides Manny or Ortiz, who knows?
Is Varitek this bad? - Probably in a decline, but couldn't be that sharp.
Is Coco Crisp this bad? - has to improve unless contracts leprosy.
Should the Red Sox take a year to rebuild? - No. Too much money at stake. Landing Matsuzaka might turn things around in a hurry.

7. Harold Reynolds - It's just getting funnier. But hey, at least Boston Market gets some free advertising, right?

There's a lot more going on this offseason, but frankly, I'm tired. And I'm sure DWTHB has some more to say. And hopefully, he won't call me, because I'm getting more sick of that guy then Dr. Nick Riviera is of the Coroner.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

2006 Free Agent Preview

Our 2006 Free Agent Preview
Since sportswriters often make terrible predictions, we decided to go ahead and make some of our own regarding the 2006 Free Agent class and where they will end up.

PlayerDWTHTBTent TimeActual Team
Carlos LeeRangers


dwtwtb - The Rangers have no problem spending big money on long term free agent contracts and traditionally favor hitters over pitchers. If Lee doesn't end up here, he goes to the Astros.

TT - Houston has a lot of money to spend now that Bagwell, Pettitte and probably Clemens are off the books. Lee would provide a boost to their anemic offense and much needed protection for Berkman.

Alfonso SorianoOrioles


dwtwtb - This is the exact type of contract the Orioles would sign: a long term expensive deal for an offensive player they don't need.

TT - Sure Baltimore will bid, but Philly needs a solid RH bat to put between Utley and Howard. If they fall short on Aramis Ramirez (and they probably will) they'll dump Burrell on someone and sign Soriano.

Barry ZitoMets


dwtwtb - The Mets have money to spend, and aren't going to sit around hovering at .500 for 2 months waiting for Pedro to come back. They will sign Zito as a FA (getting to keep Milledge) and zoom right back to the top of the NL East

TT - Sure the Zito-Peterson reunion would be a tearjerker, but SD will have some coin to spend and Zito's flyball tendencies sure would play well in Yellowstone - I mean Petco.

Aramis RamirezCubs


dwtwtb - I think the Cubs are going to bite the bullet and sign Ramirez simply because they know he's a quality run producer (even if his fielding/baserunning hustle leave something to be desired), they need him with Derrek Lee, and they don't have any grade A 3B prospects. It's just going to suck for them that they're going to be paying $3-$4 million/yr more than they should have been because of that stupid out clause in his contract

TT - Here's a familiar refrain: The Cubs Blew it. Not only did they insert said stupid out clause into Ramirez's contract but they were too stupid to get an extension done during the year. Instead, Ramirez will land in LA and provide much needed protection for Vlad.

Jason SchmidtCardinals


dwtwtb - Mulder isn't coming back, who knows what to expect from Reyes/Weaver, Jason Marquis is just terrible, and I don't think Suppan is coming back unless the Cards want to shell out $50/million for 1 good postseason. So that leaves some openings in the rotation of the defending champs and Schmidt would benefit from staying in the NL (especially the NL central).

TT - Having some cash leftover from letting Ramirez get away, here's betting that Chicago uses it to shore up their rotation with a 34 year old power arm. Does that really make a lot of sense? No. But its the Cubs so why not. Zambrano and Schmidt would be a formidable 1-2 punch for the Northsiders, at least for the 4 months when Schmidt is healthy. Or maybe they'll want to leave a rotation spot open for Prior. Ha, ha, I'm just kidding.

Barry BondsTigers


dwtwtb - Bonds simply can't play the field with his knees and has to be a DH if he wants to continue playing and break Aaron's record. The Tigers need offense, particularly left-handed offense (unless Sean Casey is going to somehow bat .500 next year like the WS) and do not have a permanent solid DH.

TT - Bonds to the Tigers does make sense in a vacuum. However, we must ask ourselves if another team is interested in putting up with his crap for the 110-125 games he would play. His skills are certainly diminished, and DH job would definitely make things a lot easier for him and Detriot would give him a good shot at getting back to the playoffs. But that isn't how Bonds thinks, so he'll probably stay in SF for one more just so he can take a shot at the record in that uniform. And besides, the Giants won't have much else going for them in 2007 anyway.

Mark MulderBraves

Red Sox

dwtwtb - Mulder was the toughest to predict and I originally thought he would go to the Indians since I don't think he's going to attract a lot of interest and they would scoop in like with Millwood 2 years ago. But they already have 4/5 of their young decent rotation set (Sabathia, Lee, Westbrook, Sowers) so I don't think Mulder wants to be a #3-#4 starter. Thus, I think the Braves will sign him due to uncertainty regarding Hampton (injury), Chuck James, Horatio Ramirez, Tim Hudson(terrible), and Kyle Davies.

TT - While Mulder would probably love Atlanta, and who wouldn't, my guess is the Red Sox take a flyer on him. A lot of teams will probably have some interest, but the Sox have a lot of money. And a bad rotation.

Jeff SuppanYankees


dwtwtb - Suppan is exactly the kind of pitcher the Yanks would target in their desperate need for SP: a pitcher who has been inconsistent the past couple years but puts it together in the NL for one great year/posteason (Jared Wright, Carl Pavano, Chris Hammond, Steve Karsay)

TT - Nobody got a better look at how good Suppan can be when the chips are down the Mets. But that wasn't actually Suppan's first taste of October success (see 2004 NLCS game 7 vs. Clemens). The Mets miss out on Zito and need an innings eater to balance out their rotation.

Nomar GarciaparraAngels


dwtwtb - Nomar might re-sign with the Dodgers but it really doesn't make much sense for them since he will have to play the field (i.e. no days to rest but still get his bat) and they have James Loney waiting in the wings. I think he goes to the Angels who have a lot of young talent (Kendrick, Quinlan, M. Izturis, Aybar) which can be traded but no defined positions for each. Plus, Nomar wants to stay in So Cal. And the Angels offense was terrible last year.

TT - Why would Nomar leave LA? Money of course, but hey, the Dodgers have lots of it and he seemed to enjoy it there, playing with Kent and that piece of human excrement we all refer to as J.D. Drew.

Vincente PadillaAstros


dwtwtb - The Astros might jump on Suppan and if they do, I don't think they will sign Padilla, but if Clemens/Pettite don't return they will have major holes in their rotation. Of course they will also have about $28 million to fill those holes. I think they will pass on Suppan because some team will throw way too much money at a guy with a career 106-101 record and a 4.60/1.42 ERA/WHIP

TT - Padilla proved last year he could be reasonably effective in Arlington (4.80 ERA, .269 BAA) and Texas is desperate for starting pitching. That all leads to a Padilla getting a contract that he probably can't and won't live up to.