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


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