Saturday, May 23, 2009

Jon Heyman: Still hates Blyleven, still hates stats

Ah, yes, the cure to all insomnia; an article about Jon Heyman's little world view of the Hall of Fame.

I'm too tired to give a witty into, here it is.

Hall of Fame or Hall of Shame? My current votes on Steroid Era stars

Okay, so we're going to talk about McGwire, and Bonds, and Clemens, and Sosa, and maybe A-Rod, maybe Manny, right? Because I mean, we're talking about the steroid era, and these are some of the real posterchildren of it...

Hall of Fame voting is a tricky thing.

It's always been a tricky thing, and it's gotten trickier since new statistics (or even new ways to look at statistics) can suggest that different values be placed on different players. I saw Bert Blyleven in the press dining area Sunday at Yankee Stadium, and it reminded me how tricky it is. I haven't voted for Blyleven yet, and have explained my position a couple times. A few folks with blogs didn't like me not voting for Blyleven, or didn't like the way I explained it. I have been called names over this decision, and I won't detail my reasoning again here, as I don't want to incite anyone.

Wait, we're back to your pathelogical hate of Blyleven again? Seriously, I could go on and on, but check out this page, then this page, and make a real case on why player A was better. Jon Heyman's normal case for it: make lots of shit up, immediately attack those who will disagree. Works when opponents are stuck typing about Heyman on blogs.

Wait, there's more:

Blyleven has become the greatest example of a tough Hall call that has become emotional and even gotten nasty in some cases. Generally speaking, at the heart of Blyleven's case is the value one places on statistics. Those who favor him admire all his statistical achievements, which are admittedly many, and they believe that his numbers are proof of his greatness.

And his statistics are very good. Better than the already enshrined Don Sutton. Much better than Jack Morris. And his playoff statistics were great.

Those who do not vote for him make more of a qualitative judgment about his impact, and place his standing below the line for enshrinement.

Blyleven only mistake in his career was playing on too many crappy teams. Idiot should've magically willed his teams Eckstein-style to glory.

I don't want to get too deep into all the pros and cons regarding Blyleven now. I just mention him as an example of a tough call.

So to start an article on the steroid era, we take the first two paragraphs to bash Blyleven. Can anyone who reads this blog please email me or something as to why Heyman and other writers have such an out on Blyleven? Or is this just them being stubborn and hopelessly ignorant to new research? I would love to learn.

In any case, the Hall calls are about to get much trickier and much tougher than Blyleven. In fact, there is a whole era of tough calls coming. There are so many tough ones ahead that Blyleven may come to be seen as mere child's play.

There is a lot to think about when considering players in the Steroid Era. These calls won't only be about numbers. There are value judgments to be made about cheating, and possibly about how much the cheating helped particular players.

And finally, here we go.

That's all I really wanted to cover here, the rest of this article doesn't really bug me, just how the PR department of Scott Boras, Inc. always seems to be ready to lay into Blyleven's career with unsubstanciated "qualitative" reasons.

Note to Heyman: When you view men using made up facts about their "makeup", you tend to do things like:

Allow a guy who won something once in the mid 90's on a loaded team to tank your team to the tune of 1-4 in the final 5 weeks

or you

Trade your star PG for a 6' SG with a 42.5% FG rate*

or you

give a guy $50,000,000 over 5 years for one catch he made

This all being said, Jon Heyman would probably make a terrific GM for the Giants or Nationals.

*Yes I know it frees up a lot of cap room for the Pistons. But what are they going to do with the money? Sign Carlos Boozer? For $20 mil / yr?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why crappy closers need to never, ever blog

Hi everyone.

*crickets chirp*

Talking to myself? Well fine, SCREW YOU TOO.

But seriously, baseball is entering a dark time. A time where, thanks to recent discoveries about A-Rod and Manny, have further dealt a blow to logic, reason, science, etc. A time where part time blogging, former full time punching bag closers named Todd Jones can theorize about something so idiotic as...

The re-emergence of smallball is a welcome trend

no, no it isn't.

The research has been done over, and over, and over again. Out-ball (or as some call it, small ball) is bad. Giving up outs is bad. This is proof.


E(Runs|Runner on first, no out) = 0.93784. E(Runs|Runner on 2nd, 1 out) = .74077.
E(Runs|Runner on 2nd, no out) = 1.08644. E(Runs|Runner on 3rd, 1 out) = .97619.

Noticing a pattern? Giving up outs = giving up runs in the long term.
Do that 51 times in a season (sound like a lot? Colorado led MLB with 90 (!!!!!!!!!!!!) in 2008) and you essentially give up a win.

So no, smallball is not welcome. Smallball is why so many people had mancrushes on Vince Coleman in the 80's. And in case you missed it, the 80's weren't exactly on the forefront of offensive strategy.

But enough of me, let's get to the real entertainment:

Is there any wonder why stolen bases are up this season? Homers are down, and small ball is the new vogue thing.

Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford, who leads the majors with 21 steals, stole six bases in a game last week and had a nine-game stolen base streak that came to an end Thursday. What Crawford did let the cat out of the bag, so to speak. Guys like Denard Span, Curtis Granderson, Grady Sizemore and Juan Pierre and looking to run. And they are starting to become a more important to their offenses than ever before.

Okay, before I start...really, Todd Jones? Really?

(as of 5/14's games)
Crawford: .329/.390/.448 117 OPS+
Span: .299/.372/.380 105 OPS+
Granderson: .257/.333/.493 112 OPS+
Sizemore: .227/.308/.400 82 OPS+
Pierre (meh): .383(!)/.439(!!!!!!)/.483(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) 139 OPS+ (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

So 4 of the guys you mentioned are top tier, young defenders having everywhere from good to very good offensive seasons using nothing but hitting rate stats. One (Sizemore) has kind of sucked so far in 2009, but a lot of that can be attributed to his .269 BABIP, compared to his career .321. He'll be fine once things normalize (and they will). And Pierre, well, his BABIP is .390, vs. a career .312. And for "small ball", he's 5 for 7 and has 1 sac hit in 67 PA's.

The rise and fall of the steroid era in Major League Baseball has shifted the interest back to bunting, baserunning, hitting and running, and even stealing home (yeah, that is a shout-out to Jacoby Ellsbury). We're on the verge of the home run -- and the home-run hitter -- not being as big a concern as the little guy.

Fear the small guys.

I really cannot believe a former pitcher would say this. Seriously, look at this:

We're on the verge of the home run -- and the home-run hitter -- not being as big a concern as the little guy.

Let that sink in. Throughout absolute HISTORY, pitchers have not thought this way. If they did, I would think that 1978 Yankee leadoff hitter Mickey Rivers would have gotten more than 3 IBB's.

*cue Luis Tiant circa 1978*

Tiant: Mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mickey Rivers, coach

Zimmer: What's the matter, Luis?

Tiant: Can't I just walk him so I can face Reggie Jackson sooner?

Zimmer: No, you cannot.

Tiant: But what if he puts a curse on us, you know, making us pre-destined to wear pinstripes one day in the near or semi-distant future?

Zimmer: Won't happen, El Tiante. Don't worry.

And also, guess what's been the walk off play in two world series? A Home run. Guess what else was a walkoff play? A Stolen base (courtesy of Babe Ruth. Yes, Babe Ruth. One run game, 1926 WS, Ruth and his 55% steal rate in 1926 went for it. With 119 OPS+'ing Bob Meusel at the dish. With Lou Gehrig on deck. SMALL BALL).

And since we've discussed Crawford's stealing penchant, let's compare it versus the rest of his hitting statistics using Tom Tango's Linear Weights:


Player Single Double Triple HR Walk IBB HBP Sac Out SB CS RC RC/27
Crawford '09 34 10 2 1 13 0 2 0 97 22 0 26.083 7.26

As shown, Crawford's been pretty productive in 2009. In 159 PA's, he's created 26 runs according to linear weights, or a roster of him would make 7.26 runs / game.

Guess how much of that has to do with steals.


Go on.

I'll give 3 seconds.




1 1/2


1 1/4




22* .193 (the historical value of a steal according to data) = 4.246. Or 16.33% of his run value. People want to nitpick one flashy part of a guy's game and lump him into some crappy group. It's like saying Lebron James and Nate Robertson are equals because they can both perform flashy dunks. It's insane.

Where was I again? I've completely lost myself. Oh yeah.

Each and every day this season, there is more emphasis being put on each of them. Some of the best players when it comes to small ball: Granderson, Sizemore, Johnny Damon, David DeJesus, Stephen Drew, Rafael Furcal, Ian Kinsler, Nate McLouth, Jose Reyes, Brian Roberts, Jimmy Rollins, Ichiro Suzuki, Alfonso Soriano, Chone Figgins.

These guys move the ball around, hit the gaps on command and work the ball around the infield. And they all can fly.

Augh, augh, augh, augh, and AUGH.

All these players have in terms of value is the ability the ball around the infield?

Granderson's hit 73 HR's since 2006, while also playing one of the best CF's in the game.
Same for Sizemore, except he's bombed 91 since 2006. Johnny Damon's done a lot of ball moving in 2009: moving right into the bleachers. DeJesus has been awful, as has Drew and Furcal. Ian Kinsler and Nate McLouth rely on small ball, really? Are we watching the same sport?

I just don't have the energy to dissect the rest of these guys. Tell my family I love them. And not use my life insurance policy for a condo down the cape.

A bold prediction: These types of small-ball players will pass the three-run-homer guys in terms of importance over the next 12 months.

I really have no words for this statement, I think the emoticon is :O!!!!

Yes, teams without huge hitting and run output win titles, and not as rarely as many may think. But it is never, EVER, because they can put on the hit and run better than anyone else. It's usually because of some other force of awesome on their roster (2005 White Sox - pitching, 2008 Rays - defense and bullpen). These teams do not win because they score less, they win DESPITE scoring less.

There will be a bigger emphasis on speed, and it will be just like the '80s all over again.

At least that means it will be another decade before the Yankees win the series, I guess.

P.S. Part of me secretly wonders if Todd Jones just wishes he got to face more prolific out-makers in his time in MLB. That 1.413 career WHIP out of the pen isn't exactly Rivera-esque.


Pre-ASB Stolen Bases in 2008 average per team: 58
Pre-ASB Stolen Bases in 2009 average per team: 56


Friday, May 15, 2009

Joe Morgan's starting Right Fielder, Jeffrey Braden Francoeur

Just kidding, Frenchie doesn't bunt well or "make things happen on the bases".

But anyway, here's his opinion on the importance of not making outs:

"If on-base percentage is so important, then why don't they put it up on the scoreboard?"

Secondly, as provided to me from this website:

Yep, don't see OBP anywhere on that big screen.

Never mind, he'd make a perfect #8 hitter on Joe Morgan's team. That way there will never be someone clogging up the bases for his leadoff hitter (my guess: Joey Gathright).

Monday, May 4, 2009

Why Johnny Damon won't be a GM anytime soon

Hey boys and girls,

As a long time Red Sox fan, needless to say, any elitism from Yankeeland grinds me up good.
When it comes from Johnny Damon, it's worse.

But when it's just something this stupid, it can actually be comedic.

“I couldn’t believe that they were letting him walk and try to find a team, Damon told WEEI. “That’s the difference between New York and Boston…If you’re a part of New York, they’re going to keep you there: Posada, Jeter, Mariano, it’s the first time in history guys have been on the same team for 15 years. It goes to show you something about how the Yankees think, and how many Yankees players have been exclusive with one team. They keep them forever. (The Red Sox) were ready to let (Varitek) go. He’s their starting catcher. That’s how the two teams work. You know his days are going to be numbered here. But hopefully not — he deserves to be here until his career is over.”

So, from what I understand, the difference between the Yankees and the Red Sox is:

Yankees - offer aging catcher $52.4 million over 4 years, guaranteeing him $13.1 million at age 40.
Red Sox - search for younger catcher to move team forward, eventually decide Varitek is the team's best option for the near future, offer him fair market value contract.

And this is a BLACK MARK on the Red Sox.

Odds Jeter would be earning $20,000,000+ / yr at age 50 if Damon was GM: 2:5.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Small Sample Size fun with Jon Heyman

Now, in my attempt to hastily name this blog, I probably picked the wrong guy. Especially in the world where men like this are allowed to roam free and spread their crappy opinions to the masses.

And of course, the marriage between him and one week sensation Emilio Bonifacio was personified in this little write up.

Bonifacio breaks out with Marlins, aces struggle and more notes

Don't get it wrong, Bonifacio still has the capacity to become a solid major leaguer. He has great speed, and he is a rangy defender. He's also only 24.

But... .285/.341/.362 in the minors. 63.6% of those PA's came from Rookie ball to High A ball, and he's been highly volatile due to his low walk rate. But hey, let's see what the 5 star general of the anti-stats crowd has to say:

MIAMI -- When the oh-so-smart Marlins traded arbitration-eligible players Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham to the competing Nationals in November, it looked like a typical small-revenue club salary dump. But with the Marlins, typical dealings are almost always more than they seem.

Beside the obvious benefit of extricating themselves from two arbitration cases they didn't need or want, the Marlins received three younger players in the deal, including speedy infielder Emilio Bonifacio, whose value was declining fast -- at least in the eyes of others. When Arizona dealt Bonifacio to Washington straight up for set-up man Jon Rauch only last summer, many figured that the Diamondbacks had ripped off the Nats (although Rauch has turned out to be nothing short of a disaster for the Diamondbacks). And this winter most accounts of the Marlins-Nats trade involving Bonifacio portrayed the speedy infielder, who hadn't distinguished himself during his brief tenure with the Nats, as an afterthought or throw-in.

I'll bite here. Rauch has been pretty disastrous for Arizona, and I don't really know much of anything on P.J. Dean. But of course Bonifacio was considered a throw in. Smolinski is 20. He could still develop into a very good MLB'er. Bonafacio is kind of the epitome of a utility player. And it's not like the Nats were making a huge splash by dealing for Olson and Willingham.

But the Marlins knew better. And now, a week into his Marlins career, Bonifacio, who moves faster on the diamond than anyone in baseball, has moved up in everyone else's eyes. Those outside the Marlins organization once again view the 23-year-old as an exciting young player after watching him ignite the Marlins offense with a .500 batting average, exhibit the best baseball speed since Deion Sanders and lead his club to a 5-1 start.

Truths in this statement:
Bonafacio is exciting
Bonafacio is fast

Truths in my statement:
Chris Shelton had the same kind of start to his MLB career.

The Marlins' scouts seem to know things others do not, so they figured it might be worthwhile to give Bonifacio, primarily a second baseman, a look at third base.

True, but who else could they use at third in 2009? Wes Helms? Maybe the corpse of Judy Johnson? That's probably better than Wes Helms at least.

So far the slap-hitting speed demon has looked like a star at a position normally reserved for power hitters.

Kind of neutral on this statement. Most of the good ones are considered bangers, but I don't know. There are good, and have been good, third basemen that don't go for 25 HR / season. Point, nobody.

Bonifacio put together multiple-hit efforts in the Marlins' first five games of the season and produced enough theatrics to excite even the minimal crowds they draw down here. Johan Santana shut him down on Sunday, but his 0-for-4 effort only dropped him to .500 on the season. President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, while noting that it's still very early, said, "We recognized the bat was still developing. It's not a finished bat."

Beinfest is ok here, maybe he's right on Bonifacio. But, Jonny boy, Bonifacio was 13 for 21 on Balls in Play to start the season. That's a .619 BABIP in 5 games. That's nearly double what his BABIP was looking like in the minors. That means a lot of luck. That means it's probably not a good idea to base your opinion of a player on that data.

His legs, not his bat, will make Bonifacio, but if he can make consistent contact he'll be dangerous. Scouts say he's an 80 runner (on their 20-to-80 scale), and viewers could see why during his Opening Day inside-the-park home run against his former Nationals mates, during a triple in Game 2 and then again on an infield hit that caused fellow speedster Jose Reyes, the Mets shortstop, to rush to try to record the out (he couldn't do it).

Speed is great. Speed helps players a lot. But...seriously...speed will make him? How's that working out for Joey Gathright, Heyman? 79 for 107 in career steal attempts. Willy Taveras? Emmanuel Burriss (yes I know he's a rookie. He's here anyway)? Speed's probably not the ability a player wants to hitch on for his career.

"It's a different feel for us," Beinfest said. "It's a different way to try to manufacture runs from a year ago, when we relied on the home run." The big game-changing twist came when the Marlins inserted Bonifacio, moved power-hitting Jorge Cantu from third (where he was a liability) to first and removed all-or-nothing first baseman Mike Jacobs.

"Manufacturing runs", the happy face way of saying "we don't hit well". But it's not like Cantu and Jacobs are the kind of guys you build a team around. Cantu is a crappy defender, so of course the Marlins stuck him at first, and moved out Mr. Hacker himself. The crappy Russell Branyan. Who, unsurprisingly, has cooled off big time and is now back to his nOBP ways. Bonifacio is a better option on the team than Jacobs, but that's really not saying as much as people like to think.

If Bonifacio's bat has been a revelation, his glovework has been no less so. "Our [scouts] thought he had enough arm for shortstop [when they acquired him], so they thought they'd take a look at third," Beinfest said. But there's a big difference between having the arm and playing the vastly different angles at third, and early in spring there were questions about whether Bonifacio would be able to make a smooth switch from second. (Some Marlins people believe the team would be better off with Bonifacio at second instead of power-hitting star Dan Uggla, though they do need Uggla's pop.)

Whatever Marlins person was in favor of benching Dan Uggla for Bonafacio deserve to be shot into the moon.

And once again, .619 BABIP.

But Bonifacio looks fine at third, and he has helped make the Marlins a speedier, slightly better-fielding team than a year ago, when they surprised folks by winning 84 games despite ranking 15th in the NL in fielding percentage.

Marlins really weren't all that bad...oh yeah, I forgot, Uggla made 3 errors in the All Star Game. This is obviously very important and indicative of the defensive aptitude of the club.

Florida also trots out an impressive quintet of under-27 starters this season, beginning with superb talents Josh Johnson (who looks like he's ready to emerge as a true No. 1 after outdueling the Great Santana on Sunday, 2-1), Ricky Nolasco and Chris Volstad. Nonetheless, Las Vegas odds makers posted the Marlins' over-under number at 76 wins. That's quite a slight considering they won 84 last year when journeyman Mark Hendrickson was their Opening Day starter while Johnson carried out rehab, Nolasco worked out of the bullpen and Volstad pitched in the minors. "We didn't have our pitchers lined up last year," Beinfest said when asked about the 76-win prediction. "We don't talk about rebuilding here. We try to play in October."

Don't know again. Marlins are always hard to read. The roster turns over faster than a Walmart checkout department, and is usually chalk full of high draft picks. But once again, in the fluke department, Volstad has been helped a lot by his current .182 BABIP against. Most baseball people coming into 2009 were high on Johnson as well. This kind of ebbing and flowing has just been the M.O. of the Marlins for years. Can you tell I'm not feeling well tonight? These aren't even jokes, these are just bitter comments.

That's true, even though, as always, the club made all its changes with the bottom line in mind. Beinfest delicately summed up the trade with Washington by saying, "We needed to reallocate our assets." In addition to Bonifacio the Marlins acquired two low-level minor leaguers in the deal, second baseman Jake Smolinski and pitcher P.J. Dean, two "young guys we like," Beinfest said. So far in Washington, meanwhile, Olsen has been awful and Willingham's an unhappy bench player.

Olsen has always been pretty crappy, and Willingham...well, Bowden loved him some corner outfielders this offseason. And once again, Smolinski has a .755 OPS in the minors and just turned 20. Bonafacio was not the pillar of this deal.

While the Nats deal with those players and their impending arbitration cases, the Marlins continue to maintain a payroll that, while up to $35 million this year from an absurd $24 million last year, is surely well below their revenues. (While Beinfest doesn't complain, their revenue-sharing monies alone should support a greater payroll than $35 million.)

With the Marlins, however, it's never worth looking at the payroll. No matter what they spend, they think they can compete. And by landing players like Bonifacio, they usually do.

Oh Jonny, Jonny, Jonny. Let us break down the Marlins two World Championship years, okay? In 1997, they decided to break the bank, relatively speaking. Made trades for Gary Sheffield, brought in Moises Alou and Bobby Bonilla. Their core was not young trade purges, it was established MLB stars.

And in 2003, they had players like I-Rod, D-Lee, Mike Lowell, and Juan Pierre when he sort of wasn't crappy. Actually, Bonafacio is a lot like Juan Pierre. Congrats, Heyman, point for you, Marlins will be lead to the title with a walk-impaired speedster again.

In closing, .619 BABIP. For now, I am off, and will valiantly protect the good citizens of America from more Jon Heyman keyboard-diarrhea.