Saturday, August 8, 2009

Glossary of terms

Since I'm starting to post a little bit (lot of bit), I decided to take this moment of insomnia to introduce any reader to terms I like to use, in the event they do not already know them (this list will be updated as I see fit):

Statistical terms:

WARP - Wins Above Replacement Player. Used by baseball prospectus. Some weird proprietary formula crap going on there, but generally makes sense. Good way of showing anyone with a functioning brain and a willingness to learn something new how insane 80's managers were for thinking Vince Coleman was a good leadoff hitter.

FRAA - Fielding Runs Above Average. Even more weird, even more mysterious, positionally adjusted. Still way better way to evaluate defense than Errors or Range Factor alone.

EqA - Equivalent Average. Remember when you were like 3 and thought Batting average was an awesome way to tell how a player hit, and that .260 was an "average" hitter? Well, EqA is kind of like that, except this actually does. Invented by Clay Davenport, raw EqA, as shown here, is found by:


And then a whole bunch of mathy shit I'm too lazy to describe to you right now. Then it is scaled and the average hitter gets assigned a .260. Great hitters are usually around .300, replacement level hitters tend to hover around .220, etc.

UZR - Ultimate Zone Range. Probably a better stat than FRAA, or at least less mysterious. Sum of your Range runs above average, Error runs above average, arm runs above average, and double play runs above average. Needless to say, an average fielder for the position would have a "0". Unfortunately, this metric is undeveloped with catchers, clearly a huge flaw.

Last year Chase Utley led the majors in UZR with 20.2. Needless to say, he's an awesome fielder. Carl Crawford was 2nd with 19.6. Last place was Brad Hawpe at -37.2. That's really bad. That's "trade him to an AL team ASAP" bad. So far in 2009, Vernon Wells rocks a -20.1, further living up to that awesome contract he got. Jacoby Ellsbury has a -12.6, which is either a fluke or a sign that he needs to be traded straight up for Shin Soo Choo before everyone else catches on.

OPS+ - Adjusted On Base plus Slugging. Everyone knows OPS by now. Harold Reynolds, as you know, doesn't like OPS, meaning you should use it more. All seriousness, however, it is a weird, flawed metric, and meant to be replaced by numbers like EqA. However, it is an easily calculated number that can give you a general idea of how well a player:
- Gets on base
- Hits for power
OPS+, is simply era and park adjusted. The formula for it is 100*(OBP/lgOBP + SLG/lgSLG - 1) For example, if you go .280/.400/.520 for the Padres, and someone else goes .300/.410/.530 for the Rangers, everyone thinks the Phillies player is better. But then when you remember that said Rangers player plays in a little league park and the Padres player plays on fucking Jupiter, you use this knowledge and the information to verify it to come up with an adjusted number. This is why Brian Giles has an OPS+ for his career of 136, and Mark Teixeira has one of 135.

ERA+ - Adjusted ERA. Same thing, except for pitchers. ERA+ = 100*(ERA/lgERA). Pedro Martinez, surprisingly, has the best ERA+ of any starter of all time according to (think of all those < 3 ERA years in Fenway Park in the middle of the steroid era).

K/BB - Strikeouts per walk. Simple enough.

WHIP - Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched. A way better indicator going forward of a pitcher's effectiveness than plain ole ERA, especially a reliever. Essentially, WHIP tells you that while it was cool that Dice-K went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 2008, his WHIP of 1.32 kind of said it was pretty flukey and he was about to at least moderately implode. Of course, my fellow Sox fans just assumed it was him being a superclutchimo, except now he's an asshole that only cares about the WBC.

The terms:

Magic aura (or aura for short) - the presense that exudes from any great player. This presense usually alternates as said lazy journalist sees fit. For example, when Carlos Beltran played for the Astros, he was a magic man who lifted himself and his team in the biggest games. Then he went to the Mets, struck out in the 2006 NLCS, and has ever since been the antithesis of magical magic aura. It was said Ryan Howard possessed this in September 2008 when he singlehandedly carried the Phillies to the NL East title. Other notable men of magic aura are Derek Jeter, David Eckstein, and Jack Morris.

Cue the band - what happens when a writer makes a particularly awesome point about something.

Awesomo - a term I use liberally to describe many things. Among them:
Barry Zito's contract
Willy Taveras' leadoff hitting ability
Jerry Manuel/Dusty Baker's managing style
95% of sports writers

Compiler - a term coined by Jon Heyman for Bert Blyleven. A way to describe a player who "selfishly" accumulates "statistics" but doesn't deserve legendary praise. Feel free to use this term for any player you dislike.

Impact - another crappy term from his Heymanist for Jack Morris. Used when there is no real substantial argument to call player A better than player B except for WS wins or AS appearances or something.

Clogging up the bases - also known as baseclogging. A bad, bad thing men like Adam Dunn and Kevin Youkilis do, rudely getting in the way of fast guys by getting on base via walks. Many managers, like Dusty Baker, Jerry Manuel, and Tommy LaSorta for historical reference, will do what they can to avoid such incidents.

True Yankee - Real description: A man who plays for the Yankees. Crappy, insane description: A man with magic aura (as noted earlier), a man with that certain something. In other words, a man who has either played on a championship Yankee team, or a man who plays baseball well and causes IQ deprived Yankee fans to long for his sweet, sweet embrace (as you can see in one highly vomit enducing blog post here (yes I am mocking another amateur. Deal with it)).

The people:

Joe Posnanski - good writer. Very good writer. Go here.

Joe Morgan - ESPN's #1 baseball analyst. You can pretty much turn everything he says into a drinking game. A great way to solicit a crazy answer from Joe Morgan on his weekly JoeChats (Tuesdays at 11 am) would be to ask him something about any of the following topics:

Concetration (typo on purpose)
No great teams
Small ball
Billy Beane

Just go here and wonder why this man has the job he does.

Jerry Manuel - Sure, he's been housed by injuries in 2009. He's also turned David Wright into a slap hitter who's due to suck once his .424 (!!!!!) BABIP goes down, he's thrown decent players under the bus, and he hates statistics. Tells Luis Castillo and his .393 OBP to bunt regularly.

Dusty Baker - The classic. Hates OBP because he's big on "driving in runs and scoring runs", and that "sometimes you get so caught up in On base percentage that you clog up the bases" (don't believe he said this? Scroll to the bottom). For this, he continues to let Taveras and Gonzalez hit 1-2 in the lineup, as OBP machine Ryan Hanigan hits 8th, to fully prevent base clogging on his team. In addition, he sends a regular cliental list to Dr. James Andrews, which includes Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, and Edinson Volquez (and soon Johnny Cueto).

Jon Heyman - possibly my least favorite writer. What's wrong with SI. Broke Bonds signing with the Giants and has rested on that since (cause you know, calling the SF Front Office is so HARD!!!!11!ONE!!). Hates VORP, will handpick his MVP by simply browsing the standings and picking whoever has a lot of Home Runs, rendering the seasons of any player not lucky enough to play on a 90 win season useless. Hates Bert Blyleven, loves Jack Morris, has invented terms just for them (compiler and impact, as shown above).

Bill Plaschke - ever need to vomit so you can get a sick day from work? Allow Billy P here to wax poetic for you. Loves Ned Colletti, yet hates the one thing he's really done right as Dodgers GM, which is sign Manny Ramirez (actually Colletti did work on getting Ethier, I will admit, but I digress). Will still credit Colletti anyway, despite the fact that most of the team's current core is either the work of Dan Evans and Paul DePodesta (Kemp, Billingsley, Kershaw, Martin, Loney), way overpaid (Pierre, Furcal), or way overrated (Blake, Hudson). Winners are champions, losers are chokers, etc.

Colin Cowherd - the namesake. Somehow gets his snotty looking face on TV now (albeit at 4 pm). No good opinions on anything, loud, and covered the Sean Taylor shooting with about as much class as OJ Simpson handled his ex-wife's possible relationship. ESPN's genius idea: give him more on-air time.

Stephen A. Smith - former terrible NBA analyst on ESPN, turned terrible political commentator on MSNBC. Next time someone bashes Fox News, remember, Screamin' A is on MSNBC.

Max Kellerman - someone actually worth listening to. Went to genius High School, graduated from Columbia, married a lawyer, now does boxing for HBO. Used to do Friday Night Fights with Brian Kenny, which ironically would've been a way, way, way better duo on Baseball Tonight than anything that ESPN throws out there right now.

Karl Ravech - tortured soul host of Baseball Tonight. There to ask his ex-jock co-workers the simpliest of baseball questions, and watch as they go on a 3 minute mangling. A local guy from Needham, MA.

Steve Phillips - former Mets GM turned terrible baseball analyst. Told Brian Kenny, as I recently highlighted, that OBP is "not the most important thing" when evaluating a hitter, something Brian Kenny repeats at least 2-3 times in fact is. Somehow turned the 2nd highest payroll in MLB into players like Mo Vaughn, old Robby Alomar, old Rickey Henderson, Bobby Bonilla, and traded Jason Bay for this and this. Even shopped Jose Reyes. Obviously this is a man you can learn a lot about baseball from.

Juan Pierre - a nice guy who tries hard, likeable. For this reason, he earned a $44,000,000 contract from crazyballs Colletti. Had one good, high-BABIP induced month in 2009 and now no one can get enough of him again.

Tim Raines - A great player who will probably miss out on the Hall of Fame for a variety of reasons. These include:

- using cocaine (for a year, when he was like 20. Paul Molitor did too, but he's white so it's ok)
- not being as good as Rickey Henderson (a standard that everyone in the HoF has obviously been held to, like this man, or this guy, or for a recent example, this guy).
- "similar to guys like Vince Coleman and I don't think he's a Hall of Famer"
How these two are "similar"
.294/.386/.425, 170 HR, 811 SB, 84.74% success rate, 232 FRAR/6 FRAA, .309 EqA, 94.2 WARP-3
.264/.324/.345, 28 HR, 752 SB, 80.94% success rate, 7 FRAR(!!)/-133 FRAA(!!!!), .266 EqA, 7.2 WARP-3 (want to know Dustin Pedroia's in 2008 alone? 8.6).
- doesn't pass the "gut check". Obviously the most important factor in HoF voting.

David Eckstein: Scrappy, gritty, mutation of True Yankeeism. Probably more likely to make the Hall of Fame than Tim Raines.

Brian Kenny's Awesome

Seriously, watch the first 1:36 of this video for 3 things
1) How much better Brian Kenny is as this than Steve Phillips
2) How straw grasping Steve Phillips gets
3) How much Brian Kenny wants to just call him an idiot and storm off the set

Monday, August 3, 2009

MVP talk? LOVE IT!

Been an interesting year in the AL. Mauer started hurt, but heated up, good God did he heat up. Derek Jeter's arguably having one of his best years ever (at what, 35?). Ben Zobrist has come out of m-fletching nowhere to be one of the best players in MLB this year. Evan Longoria continues to be awesome, and Kevin Youkilis has officially gone from the "Greek God of Walks" to a full out slugger. Needless to say, it's a pretty good 5 horse race for the AL MVP.

But I digress. Lyle Spencer of, who do YOU think is the AL MVP?

Abreu making case for AL MVP honors

Oh. Um, that's...original thinking. Abreu, who's, like, not even on the first page of player value on fangraphs. Bobby Abreu, 13th in VORP in the AL. Bobby Abreu, who is 23rd in WARP in the AL.

Let's dive further into this, shall we?

MINNEAPOLIS -- Bobby Abreu, Most Valuable Player candidate.

Okay, well, at least he's not saying the MVP. But like, is he really?

Entering Sunday's series finale against the Twins, the Angels' free-agent bargain of the decade is found all over the American League offensive leaderboard.

'talics mine.
Come on, Lyle Spencer, you know that's wrong. The DECADE?
You think this ranks higher than David Ortiz (even though I heard he may have done something, any info?), or maybe Shin-Soo Choo and his peanuts contract? Russell Branyan? Anyone on the Oakland A's from 2001-2006? Little hyperbolic?

He is tied for sixth in batting average at .320 and sixth in RBIs with 73. He is third in on-base percentage at .415. He is first in hitting with runners in scoring position at .429. He is tied for fifth in walks with 61.

Okay, baseball arguments, I'm with you here. He's probably not even the best right fielder in his division, though, since some guy with a funny sounding first name plays in that place Nirvana's from.

His impact runs even deeper internally. The Angels, feeling the Abreu effect through his actions and his words, have advanced from ninth in the American League in runs scored (4.72) to first in the Majors (5.66).

Holy shitnuts this is crazy tits.

2008 Angels:
.268/.330/.413/94 OPS+ (with 2 months of Teixeira)

2009 Angels:
.290(!)/.353(!!)/.451(!!!)/108 OPS+ (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

It isn't Mike Napoli's big season, or Kendri Morales', or Juan Rivera, or Torii Hunter, it's Bobby Abreu's magical aura k 9-wejwe0wejwe jriej9iweit ojkrtgh...

sorry, keyboard seizure. I'm back.

But jeeze, man, he's not even the MVP of LAA. Explain yourself.

The AL's best team with their 62-40 record, the Angels have gone from seventh in batting average in 2008 (.268) to first in the Majors (.289). They have gone from 11th in on-base percentage (.330) in the AL to second (.353, behind the Yankees at .358). They have advanced from ninth in slugging (.413) to third (.449) in the AL.

I just said this. Mr. Spencer clearly thinks this is from the warm fuzziness of Bobby Abreu.

Which begs the question, why did he always give Melky Cabrera wedgies? Only way I can think of Cabrera being so bad in 2008 now, thanks to Lyle Spencer.

Abreu has stolen 22 bases in 27 attempts, gone first to third like the young thoroughbreds, hit eight home runs and played solid defense in right field with Vladimir Guerrero unavailable.

Yes, you heard that right. 8 Home runs. From a corner OF. In a ballpark that's currently 3rd in HR factor. This is the MVP wagon we're hitching on.

BUT ZOMG 22 FOR 27 STEALS!!!!!!!!1ONE!!!!!!!!!!1111!!!!!!!!!! HNEFUIHEHJWE(W

If these aren't the credentials of an MVP candidate, somebody isn't paying attention.

Holy about these credentials:
365 PA, .301/.409/.578, 19 HR, 12/15 SB, +12.8 UZR, primarily 2nd baseman.

This is Ben Zobrist. He is having a far better season than Abreu.
Sure, Abreu's OBP is even more excellent than Zobrist's already excellent .409, but by 6 points. Takes a lot more than 6 points of OBP for an average defensive RF to bridge the gap to a very good defensive middle infielder with a 117 POINT EDGE IN SLUGGING HJER*(HWWEEHH.

Seizure again.

Abreu has had a lot of help, of course, but there's no denying his profound influence on this team.

"Bobby's been huge," Chone Figgins said. "You can learn a lot about hitting just by watching him. And if you want some details, he'll give you what you need to know."

Mentoring notorious hackers: MVP.

Abreu takes this, as with everything in his life, in smooth stride. He loves his new team, its aggressive style, its collection of athletes, the freedom that manager Mike Scioscia not only gives his players but demands that they take with relish.

"Mike only gets upset if you don't try to take the extra base," Abreu said...

Yes, please Mike Scioscia, run your team into more outs. Red Sox fans have loved it in the postseason.

grinning. "I really like this team, everything about it. We have a great chemistry here."

Abreu has heard how Figgins, Torii Hunter, Erick Aybar and pretty much everyone else in the cast have attributed much of their success, and the team's, to his style and approach, on and off the field.

Good guy, takes the team to TGI Fridays. Not like that asshole Joe Mauer in Minnesota who probably slashes their tires and bangs their wives.

Actually I'd let him get away with that if I were the Twins.

"I feel good to see Aybar, Maicer [Izturis], [Howard] Kendrick getting better," Abreu said. "They've got such good talent. They're starting to learn how to use it. You can see the progress they're having in being more patient, having good at-bats.

"Everybody feels the same here and works hard. Freedom -- that's the word. The way I share with my teammates, how they are [responding], that comes from the freedom we get from the manager. They're special guys who really enjoy the game.

"As a player, it's all you can ask for, what we have here."

He likes his team, cool, non-contentious point. Except when you're trying to discuss ACTUAL BASEBALLING ABILITIES, LYLE SPENCER.

The Angels are not expected to try to re-sign Abreu until after the season...

This strengthens Spencer's case, in Spencer's mind.

but they are fully aware of the impact he has had and how he has upgraded his value at age 35.

God I hope the Angels give him a 4 year / $45,000,000 deal now, and trot out on OF of Gary Matthews Jr, Torii Hunter, and Bobby Abreu for like $40,000,000 / year in 2011 when they're old and miserable fielders.

"Bobby has been everything we could have wanted," Scioscia said. "He's performed at a consistently high level all season."

Like the fine Argentine reds he'll occasionally sample, Abreu is aging gracefully, with a full-bodied excellence.

MVP candidate? Absolutely.

I have no issue with Abreu as a guy, but if he wins the MVP, I give up. I give up everything. His OPS+ is 127. Morneau's in his questionable winning year was 140, and he had a defensive reputation that Abreu lacks. Dustin Pedroia was a 122, but he was an excellent fielder at 2B and gets bonus points for being the size of a garden gnome and being fully bald at 25.

OPS+'s of various MVP candidates:

Zobrist: 154
Mauer: 173 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) as a catcher (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Jeter: 124 (as a SS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Youkilis: 153
Cabrera: 142 (and probably doesn't belong on this list)
Morneau: 162 (and 28 HR)

So yeah, if you think Bobby Abreu stacks up to this, well, God bless ya. I'm just happy provides so much good analysis.

In the "Saw this coming from a mile away department":

Edinson Volquez to have Tommy John surgery

Only one song perfectly describes another young pitcher under Dusty Baker getting injured: