Saturday, August 10, 2002
More idiocy over at ESPN.comYesterday I wrote about the mind numbing experience that is reading Phil Rogers' thoughts on the NL MVP race.
Apparently whatever Rogers has is rubbing off on other columnists.
Sean McAdam breaks down the AL MVP race in his most recent column.
Now, I'm not going to bash McAdam like I did with Rogers, because, well, Phil Rogers makes Sean McAdam look like Bill James.
But, he did say some "interesting" things...
Who is his choice for MVP? None other than my favorite player, Torii Hunter.
McAdam discusses some of the reasons why Hunter should win (defense, baserunning, hitting, etc) and then says:
"The case against: Hunter's RBI total (72) is off and he doesn't steal as many bases (17) as other athletic players do."
His RBI total is "off"? What does that even mean?!
He is on pace to drive in 100 runs! And he is doing it with Jacque Jones (.326 OBP) batting leadoff and Cristian Guzman (.292 OBP) batting 2nd.
He doesn't steal as many baseball as "other athletic" players do? Other athletic players?! He has got to kidding me.
Hunter is currently 11th in the league in steals, with 18.
Anyway, I won't give him too much crap for what he says about Hunter. After all, he did pick him as the MVP, so what he says in his "case against" doesn't mean a whole lot.
Here is what McAdams has to say about the Yankees' candidates...
On Alfonso Soriano:
"But for now, he'll likely be handicapped by being part of such a star-studded team."
and on Jason Giambi:
"The case against: The Yankees won before Giambi. They're winning with Giambi. They'll win after Giambi. See the point? Good as Giambi is, he's joined a powerhouse and it's hard to quantify his impact."
I am not going to comment on this at the moment, I just want you to remember what he said.
Basically that they are on a team that is a little too good, so they shouldn't be MVP.
Remember that, okay?
Next up, we have McAdam on Ichiro!:
"The case against: Compelling as he is to watch -- at the plate, on the bases and in the field -- Ichiro is also, let's face it, pretty much a singles hitter offensively. He fails to make a dent in any of the run production/power categories. Matched against some of the more punishing hitters in the league, Ichiro comes up short."
This is different from last season in which way exactly?
Ichiro! is hitting for almost exactly as much "power" as he did last season (.350 AVG/.457 SLG last year and .346 AVG/.459 this year).
McAdam tries to explain the difference:
"The verdict: Ichiro took the game by surprise in 2001, which generated lots of publicity."
This goes right along with what I said in my entry about Phil Rogers' column.
Sportswriters like to find something new and exciting and pump it up and vote for it.
Then the next year, when the thing they voted for isn't as new or exciting, they find another thing (like a former starting pitcher that has been converted to a closer).
More McAdam on Ichiro!:
"When the Mariners ran off in the AL West [last year] and he was the obvious linchpin. But the Mariners are merely good this year and Ichiro's case as MVP isn't as compelling."
And I also want you to remember what he is saying about Ichiro's team.
That last season they were really really good, so he deserved the MVP, but this season the Mariners are not quite good enough.
And now McAdam on my pick for MVP, Alex Rodriguez:
"The case against: The Rangers are going to finish last in the AL West, albeit in baseball's toughest division. That's not Rodriguez's fault, as he's doing everything -- offensively and defensively -- that could be asked of him. But his team's poor showing gets to the "valuable'' part in the Most Valuable Player equation."
Another thing to remember.
According to McAdam, the Rangers are not good enough for ARod to win the MVP.
McAdam also says about ARod:
"For now, A-Rod will have to be content to simply be the game's best player, hardly a consolation prize. In this era of oversized offensive numbers, it's doubtful we'll ever again see a player from a second-division club named MVP, the way it once happened for Cal Ripken and Andre Dawson."
So ARod is the game's "best player," just not the "most valuable" player. I know some people like to make that argument, but to me, that makes absolutely no sense.
Not to mention the fact that Andre Dawson was not anywhere close to "the game's best player" when he won the MVP.
Anyway, I have a more important revelation to show...
Remember the things I told you to remember? NO?!?! C'mon!
Well, ok, you didn't really have to. I will recap them for you:
Alfonso Soriano plays on a team that is TOO GOOD.
Jason Giambi plays on a team that is TOO GOOD.
Ichiro! plays on a team that is NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
Alex Rodriguez plays on a team that is NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
Torii Hunter plays on a team that is JUST RIGHT.
Does this sound like the story of "Goldielocks and the Three Bears" to anyone but me?
Soriano and Giambi's pourage is TOO HOT.
Ichiro! and ARod's pourage is TOO COLD.
And Torii Hunter's pourage is JUST RIGHT.
Phil Rogers and Sean McAdam should collaborate and write children's books.
Their first one could be called "John Smoltz and the Three Bears."
Be careful what you wish for (continued)Pedro did not disappoint.
His final line against the Twins today:
And he improves to 16-2, 2.14.
Not too bad. I just wish it didn't have to have come against my team.
Be careful what you wish forA few days ago I wrote an entry about how great it is to watch Pedro Martinez when he is being Pedro.
Well, guess what? Today I get the honor of watching Pedro dominate my favorite team, the Twins.
So far, it seems like he might not have his best stuff today. He is throwing a ton of changeups and only the occasional fastball (like the one he just struck out David Ortiz on), which is topping out at about 91 or 92.
Not that it has mattered so far. His line as I am writing this: 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 SO, 0 BB.
600 (continued)For those of you interested in reading about what someone who was actually at Pac Bell last night to see Bonds hit #600 has to say, I suggest checking out "Only Baseball Matters."
I had fun watching it "live" on television last night, I can only imagine what it felt like to be in Pac Bell with about 40,000 other witnesses to greatness.
Friday, August 09, 2002
600Barry Bonds just deposited career home run #600 over the fence in straight away center, at Pac Bell.
I don't really have much to add at this moment.
I just wanted to say that I was watching while it happened, and it was pretty freaking cool.
It strikes me that I may have just watched the 600th career home run by the greatest ballplayer I will ever see play.
And I am only 20 years old.
There is nothing quite like baseball when it is right.
Ding! Ding! Ding!This site just went over the 1,000 visitor mark! (The counter is at the very bottom of the page)
Not bad for a site that has been up and running for only a week.
Thanks to everyone who has stopped by for a look (and hopefully bookmarked the page) and a special thanks to everyone who has recommended the site to someone else.
Also, thanks to everyone who has emailed me, I really enjoy them and I always answer each one.
I am however a little disappointed that I haven't gotten any pro-Phil Rogers emails yet.
About 25 or 30 emails that basically agree with me that he is a moron, but none that disagree.
C'mon, there has to be someone out there who agrees with Rogers.
Maybe Mrs. Rogers? M'am, if you are out there, send me an email.
Never count your money when you're sittin' at the table...It's over.
Jim Thome led off the 8th inning with a walk.
The next batter, Milton Bradley, doubled down the left field line to end the no-no.
It was fun while it lasted. Milton Bradley breaks up Kenny Rogers' no-hitter...there is a funny joke in there somewhere.
For those of you with "MLB Extra Innings"...Rangers' starter Kenny Rogers has a perfect game through 7 innings against Cleveland. So, if you have "MLB Extra Innings" on DirecTV or whatever else carries it, tune it in.
And from the "why the heck isn't this game being televised somewhere" department...
Reds' third baseman Aaron Boone already has 3 home runs against San Diego and it is only the 5th inning. He hit 2 in the first and 1 in the fourth, all off of Brett Tomko (who left the game after 3 1/3, giving up 10 ER).
Somewhere there is a village missing its idiotThere are some stupid people in this world. There are some really stupid people in this world. There are some people that I would go so far as to call complete morons. When those people say something idiotic, you can live with it because, well, they are morons, they have an excuse.
Then there is Phil Rogers.
I don't really know what to make of Phil (or Mr. Rogers if you like).
I would assume that Phil Rogers has a functional brain of some sort.
After all, he presumably graduated from some college or university and managed to get a job at a national newspaper.
And some how he then managed to get a job at ESPN.com, writing really idiotic baseball columns for people like myself to pick on.
This week's column is a real winner.
In it, Rogers attempts to make the case for John Smoltz for National League MVP.
First let me give you a few quotes...
Here is Phil Rogers talking about relievers and the MVP:
"It never sounds like a great idea to give a Most Valuable Player Award to a relief pitcher. Perhaps that's why it hasn't happened since 1950 in the National League, which hasn't honored any pitcher as its MVP since Bob Gibson in 1968. But it's time for the writers who will vote on the NL MVP to reexamine the relative value provided by an ultra-dependable stopper versus a starting pitcher or a run-producing hitter. John Smoltz and Eric Gagne are very much in the MVP mix as teams head into the season's final turn."
But why Phil? Why is it all of a sudden time to start thinking more about giving the MVP to relievers? Rogers doesn't really say why this is something that should happen, other than because it hasn't happened all that much previous to this year. Heck, the MVP hasn't been given to a pinch hitter or the bullpen catcher ever, let alone in a while, so why not start to reexamine giving the MVP to them?
I'll tell you why, because the MVP should go to the Most Valuable Player in the league, not some guy who plays a position that hasn't had an MVP for a while.
"There is no clear-cut frontrunner at this point, creating the possibility that it could wind up as split as the American League was in 1999, when seven players received first-place votes."
What are you, new here?
Are you unfamiliar with the Giants' Left Fielder? His name is Barry. You should introduce yourself to him.
After that, you might wanna take a look at his stats. Not too shabby.
He is on pace to have best On-base % OF ALL-TIME! Oh, and he is also on pace to have only the 4th season with a .800+ Slugging% OF ALL-TIME!
Wanna know who the other 3 were? Babe Ruth in 1920. Babe Ruth in 1921. AND BARRY BONDS LAST SEASON!
Okay, enough with Phil's generalities, here is what he said specifically about John Smoltz:
"Pitching is the reason Atlanta is on track to lead the majors with 106 wins, and nobody -- including Tom Glavine or Greg Maddux -- has been more responsible than Smoltz. His 39 saves have been the anchor for a staff that had a 2.92 ERA through Wednesday. That's the lowest for any team since the 1988 Mets. He's ahead of Bobby Thigpen's record 57-save pace from 1990."
Let me get this straight Phil, cause I really do want to understand.
John Smoltz, who has 3.94 ERA this season, is the most responsible for the Braves' team ERA being 2.92?
Actually, I would say that John Smoltz and his 3.94 ERA are most responsible for Braves team ERA NOT being about 2.80.
The guy has an ERA a run higher than the rest of the team, how in the world can he be the most responsible for the team's ERA being so low?!
Funny thing about the guys you say Smoltz is more responsible for the low team ERA than, Maddux and Glavine. They both have ERAs below the team ERA!
So do FIVE OTHER GUYS IN THE SAME BULLPEN AS SMOLTZ! Chris Hammond, Mike Remlinger, Darren Holmes, Kevin Gryboski and Kerry Ligtenberg are all relief pitchers, just like Smoltz. But unlike Smoltz, they all have ERAs that are less than the team ERA.
In fact, among guys who have pitched more than 10 innings for the Braves this season, THERE IS ONLY ONE GUY ON THE ENTIRE BRAVES TEAM THAT HAS A HIGHER ERA THAN JOHN SMOLTZ.
Phil goes on to say...
"That 4.01 ERA ain't very purdy, to put it the way a Braves' fan might. It's also misleading, however. Those following closely will remember the outing in the first week when Smoltz took one for the team, allowing eight runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Mets. The impressive part was he came back to work a scoreless inning the next night and earned his first save two nights later. Take away the eight-run inning and his ERA would drop to 3.16."
As idiotic as that logic is (after all, that Mets game did actually count as a real game in the standings) even if you take it away and give Smoltz the new, lower 3.16 ERA, it is still higher than the entire team's ERA! And there are still 8 guys on the team with better ERAs, including 3 that have pitched twice as many innings as Smoltz.
"He's the best choice at the moment. An MVP Award would look nice next to the Cy Young he won in 1996."
The NL Cy Young award would look good in between my Mario Mendoza bobble-head doll and my autographed picture of Kurt Bevacque too, can I have it?
Unlike Smoltz, I don't have an ERA that is almost 40% higher than my entire team's ERA.
There seems to be a need for sportswriters, espcially those voting for things like the MVP, to latch onto a specific type of player or a specific position and pump it up as something special.
One season it might be a Japanese outfielder who hits for a real good average, is real fast and...oh my god, how cool...uses only his first name! That outfielder doesn't drive in very many runs, but hey, who cares about that...he "sets the table" and that's the important thing.
Another season (or seasons) it might be a a Texas outfielder that drives in a ton of runs. He isn't fast like that Japanese guy and he doesn't really get on base all that much, so he doesn't "set the table," but hey, he is a "clutch hitter" knocking in those runs and that's the important thing.
Another season it might be a Texas catcher who hits for a high average and...oh my god...steals a few bases. He doesn't get on base a lot, so he isn't "setting the table" and he was only 3rd ON HIS OWN TEAM in driving in runs, so he wasn't really a "clutch hitter" knocking in those runs. But hey, he is a catcher with some stolen bases and he controls the running game and is "great with the pitching staff" (that happened to finish 11th in the league in ERA) and that's the important thing.
And this season it is apparently (at least to Phil Rogers) an Atlanta reliever. He doesn't pitch a lot of innings, so he isn't that "staff ace" and "horse" you always hear about and his ERA is actually pretty high, way higher than the rest OF HIS OWN TEAM, so he isn't really that dominating "stopper" that you always read about. But hey, he has a lot of saves for a good team and...oh my god...he used to be a starting pitcher!
Guess what Phil, a closer won the MVP in 1992, thats 10 years ago. I think we can go more than 10 years without a closer winning an MVP award. I am not sure how, but some how we can manage.
Oh and since then you've had your chance to vote for a pitcher for MVP. His name was Pedro and it was all the way back "In the year 2000..." Compared to his league he had the GREATEST ERA OF ALL-TIME. Oh, and he pitched about 3 times as many innings as Mr. Smoltz will this season.
Phil, the village called, they said they don't want you back.
Send those angry emails to...If you haven't already, I suggest reading Rob Neyer's recent article about Derek Jeter's defense and whether or not it has improved this year.
Before I say any more, let me first say that I am far from a Yankee basher, and would actually consider myself a casual Yankee fan.
That being said...
I have a friend, let's just call him "Scott," who is a Yankee fan and a casual baseball fan.
Months ago we had a long argument about Derek Jeter.
Scott feels as though Derek Jeter is and has been one of the top 2 or 3 players in all of baseball.
He points to the high batting average and championships rings, as well as stuff like the Giambi-flip and the catch he made falling into the stands.
I, being the baseball geek that I am, tried to enlighten him with actual facts and statistics involving Jeter.
First I tried to explain to him why batting average is not the best way to judge a player offensively. I didn't bring up anything complicated like EqA or VORP or anything like that. I just tried to explain the merits of on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
I then explained to him that, although Jeter is certainly a huge part of all those championships, he is not any better or worse of a player for winning them. If Jeter hits 15 home runs one season and they don't win the championship, it is the same as hitting 15 home runs and winning the championship, his home run hitting was not any better. I also asked sarcastically if Luis Sojo was, in his mind, a Hall of Famer.
Finally, I tried to explain to him that there are more important things to a defensive player than making a few highlight reel plays in a season.
Of course, Scott bought absolutely none of that.
Now, whenever he is watching a game or reading a paper and he sees that Jeter hit a homer or made a diving catch, he sends me an email that reads, simply, "Jeter Sux Huh?"
I, of course, never said anything close to "Jeter Sux." I believe Jeter is a very very good baseball player. Just not as good as my friend Scott and many other people think he is, mostly because of his defense.
Because of the lack of headway I made in that argument a few months ago, I decided to focus my new approach to enlightening my friend to simply discussing Jeter's defense.
After all, Jeter's offense is very good, so trying to convince Scott that his offense is simply very good and not as great as he thinks it is, is sort of pointless anyway.
I try to explain to him why errors are not a great stat.
I try to explain to him the merits of range factor or zone rating or double plays or the more complicated measures of defense.
But, all he sees is the Giambi-flip, the catch made while falling into the stands and the diving grab he saw on Plays of the Week a few days ago.
I have decided that the argument with Scott is almost 100% pointless, so I am considering leaving it alone. I mean how much harm could there be in allowing some casual baseball fan to believe that Derek Jeter is a gold glover.
But, the people who read this blog are obviously not casual baseball fans. So, you are my next target.
Derek Jeter is simply not a good defensive shortstop.
Very good hitter, probably a heck of nice guy, has a lot of championship rings...NOT A GOOD DEFENSIVE SHORTSTOP.
He consistently ranks at or near the bottom in pretty much every defensive stat:
Range Factor. Meaning he makes less plays per inning and per game than most shortstops.
Zone Rating. Meaning he makes less plays on balls in his "zone" than most shortstops.
Double Plays. Meaning he turns less double plays than most shortstops.
This season, Derek Jeter is last in the American League in all 3 stats (Don't believe me? Click on those links above and see for yourself. Notice who is at the bottom of all three lists?). He is making the least amount of plays, he is making the least percentage of plays on balls hit in his zone, and he is turning the least amount of double plays, so bad in fact, that the Yankees are on pace to turn the least amount of double plays in the last 20 years of the American League.
Now, I know, some people will bring up the Yankee pitcher's strikeouts or the flyball nature of the staff, but Jeter is not the first shortstop to play behind a strikeout/flyball staff. And, a person does not consistently rank at the bottom of every defensive stat if they are not a bad defensive player.
And, of course, the more complicated measures of defense.
Bill James' Win Shares, which ranks Jeter as a D+ defensively (on a scale of A+ to F).
Baseball Prospectus' fielding rating, which consistently ranks Jeter at or near the bottom of all shortstops.
Diamond-Mind baseball, which is one of the most accurate simulations available, assigns Derek Jeter the 2nd to worst available rating defensively.
Scott, are you listening? Or better yet, Scott have you read Neyer's article that I emailed to you?
Yeah, yeah...I know..."Jeter Sux Huh?"
Thursday, August 08, 2002
WoodyLast night Toronto shortstop Chris Woodward hit 3 home runs.
Even more impressive than that, since being appointed the Jays' starting SS about a month ago, Woodward is hitting .330/.390/.617.
On the year, he is at .309/.369/.618.
Now that is what I call a good-hitting shortstop.
So, the question is, do we have a new name to add to the list of phenomenal AL shortstops?
We used to have the "Holy Trinity" of shortstops (Nomar, Jeter, ARod), but ARod had to go and ruin it by becoming the best player in baseball.
But shortly thereafter Miguel Tejada became a viable 3rd member of the "New Holy Trinity" of shortstops.
Last year it looked like we might have to make room for a 4th member after Cristian Guzman's breakout/all-star season, but Guzman hasn't been the same this year.
But now it looks like we have might have a future 4th member after all.
Chris Woodward has only had 152 ABs this season, which makes me immediately think "small sample-size." So, I dug a little deeper.
Before this season, Woodward has had 3 (short) stints with the Blue Jays. In 1999, 2000 and 2001.
In those 3 stints, combined, he had only 193 ABs, hitting only .192/.242/.347 (with 5 HRs, 11 doubles and 2 triples). Which, again, makes me think "small sample-size."
It is not really fair to judge a guy on 26 ABs one year or 63 ABs another year, because in such small samples, 2 bloop singles here or an extra homer there could seriously change the result.
So, I decided to find out what Woodward has done with significant playing time...
The problem I ran into is that Woodward hasn't really had much in the way of significant playing time because of his tendency to get injured.
Here is what I did find, however:
Last season at the age of 25 and at AAA Syracuse he hit .306/.360/.580 in 193 at bats.
Hmmm...that looks almost identical to his 2002 numbers thus far with the Jays.
In 2000 at the age of 24 and also at AAA Syracuse he hit .322/.370/.545 in 143 at bats.
Once again, a very small amount of at bats, but great numbers for sure.
In 1999 at the age of 23 and also at AAA Syracuse he hit .292/.378/.395 in 281 at bats.
Finally a decent amount of ABs, and once again good numbers (with less power).
So, what we have here is a guy who has shown the ability to hit for a very good average during his last 3 minor league seasons. In over 600 ABs he is hitting over .300.
Also, he has shown the ability to hit for very good power during his last 2 minor league seasons.
In 336 ABs, he has hit 16 homers, 27 doubles and 5 triples.
Those numbers project to about 30 homers, 50 doubles and 9 triples over the course of a 162 game season.
We also have a guy who drew a lot of walks in 1999 (38 vs. 281 ABs) but not very many in 2000 and 2001 (27 combined vs. 336 ABs).
And finally, we have a guy who has shown a real ability not to stay healthy.
As I showed earlier, in his previous big league experience (before this season) Woodward struggled to hit for average, but hit very well for power. With such a small sample size, a few extra bloop singles each year could really have boosted his batting average a lot. On the other hand, with such a small sample-size a few of those doubles and homers he hit really boosted his power numbers.
But he has shown the ability to hit for average AND power in the minors. Which makes me believe that, because he has always been able to hit for power in the majors (his major league power numbers prior to this year project to about 15 homers, 33 doubles and 6 triples in a full season), he has struggled with his batting average in the majors simply because of a small sample-size.
After looking everything over, I think the Blue Jays have found themselves a shortstop. He is young, he is cheap and he can hit, which is exactly what I like. And I bet it is exactly what J.P. Ricciardi likes too.
While I don't expect Woodward to continue to hit .309 with a slugging percentage over .600, his minor league numbers, together with what he has done, both this season and in prior stints in the majors, tells me that he could be a very productive major league hitter, which makes him a very good hitter for a shortstop.
I would say that he could very easily settle into the .280/.340/.450 zone and stay there for several seasons, with a peak that could be pretty similar to what he has done so far this year. All of which would make him a very valuable player.
The Blue Jays appear to have 3/4 of their future infield in place and producing at high levels.
Along with Woodward, the Jays have 2002 Rookie of the Year front runner Eric Hinske crushing the ball at third base and recent callup Orlando Hudson at second base.
Together, they are (I know I said this already) young (currently, 26, 25 and 24 respectively), cheap (all making at or very near the league minimum) and productive.
Add that together with Vernon Wells in center field and Josh Phelps at DH and the Jays' offensive core looks pretty darn good for the near future.
Now, if they can trade Carlos Delgado, Shannon Stewart and Jose Cruz Jr. (and their salaries) for some young, major league ready, pitching to go along with the already great Roy Halladay and possible another young bat for 1B, LF or RF, they will officially be ready for primetime and an Oakland A's type of run.
Wednesday, August 07, 2002
MooseMike Mussina gave up 14 hits in 7 innings last night to the Kansas City Royals. That in itself is bad enough, as any of you who read my "Yuck" and "Yuck continued" entries on the putrid Royals' lineup already know. But it gets worse for Moose. In the start before last night, July 31st, he gave up 11 hits and 7 runs to Texas.
Joe "a pitcher is paid to win, not prevent runs" Morgan would probably point out that Mussina is 13-6 and on pace to finish 19-9. But, as many of you already know, Joe Morgan can, occasionally, be a complete moron. Great ballplayer, probably the best 2B of all-time. Pretty good announcer, I like him more than a lot of people. But he has some not-so-great ideas that tend to come out during his ESPN.com chat sessions or in his ESPN.com columns.
Anyway, back to Mussina...
David Pinto thinks that maybe Mussina is tipping his pitches. David said that it seems as though the batters know what is coming. He also points out that Mussina's walk rate is still very good.
Mussina may or may not be tipping his pitches (I would lean towards the latter), and to be honest I don't watch him enough to know either way. However, I think there are several key factors that are causing him to struggle so badly.
#1) His strikeout rate
Last season Mussina struck out 214 batters in 228.2 innings pitched.
In 2000 he struck out 210 batters in 237.2 innings pitched.
So his Ks/9 in 2000 was about 7.9 and his Ks/9 last year was about 8.4.
What about this year? So far Mussina has 111 Ks in 145 innings pitched, about 6.9 strikeouts per 9 innings.
And in June/July/August (so far) Mussina has 46 in 72 innings pitched, about 5.7 Ks/9 innings.
What does all that mean? Well basically Mussina is allowing more balls to be put in play.
Statistical studies, such as Voros McCracken's Defense Independent Pitching Stats (DIPS), have shown that a pitcher generally has no effect on whether a ball that is put into play is a hit or an out.
Meaning, whether it is Randy Johnson or Todd Ritchie, a team's defense is almost entirely reponsible for hits and outs from at bats that do not result in a strikeout, walk or home run.
Because of this, pitchers with high strikeout rates, like Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, etc tend to have lower opponent batting averages because they allow less balls to be put into play.
So, Mussina is striking out less batters, allowing more balls to be put into play and thus relying on his defense to make outs (and prevent hits) more than he has in the past.
#2) The Yankees' defense
Striking out a batter is always the best option, because it doesn't allow for any chance of a hit. However, with some defenses, striking out fewer guys and allowing more balls to be put into play is not as big of a disadvantage as it is with others.
For example, a flyball pitcher that does not strikeout a lot of batters might do pretty well in Atlanta, mostly because of Andruw Jones. Tom Glavine in 2002 is a good example of this.
Glavine is only striking out 5.1 batters/9 innings, a pretty low number.
He also gives up one of the highest % of flyballs in the NL.
Thus, he is allowing a lot of balls, specifically flyballs, to be put into play.
Of course, with Andruw Jones behind him, a lot of the balls are being converted into outs.
If he had, for example, Jeremy Giambi (or Bernie Williams, Mussina's centerfielder), playing CF behind him, a lot more of those balls would suddenly turn into hits.
Which takes me to the Yankees' defense in 2002.
The Yankees currently rank 10th in the AL and 23rd in MLB in coverting balls put in play into outs.
The top AL teams in Defensive Efficiency are Anaheim and Boston and the top NL teams are Atlanta and LA.
The results are very obvious. Boston is #1 in the AL in hits allowed and Anaheim is #2. In the NL, Atlanta is #1 in hits allowed, LA is #2.
So, basically, the Yankees' defense is, as a whole, not very good at converting balls in play into outs. They can still manage to have decent pitching numbers, mainly because their staff strikes out a lot of guys, thus not relying on the defense as much as some other teams.
Which brings me back to Mussina.
Because he is striking out less men than usual, he is relying more on his defense to make outs. And because the defense is not very good at making outs, more balls are becoming hits.
#3) The Gopher Ball
I have already talked about something Mussina can control (Strikeouts), as well as something Mussina can not control (balls in play and whether or not they are made into outs).
Now I want to focus on another thing Mussina can control, something the defense has absolutely no effect on, Home Runs.
With a strikeout, their is no chance for the batter to get a hit. And with a home run, there is no chance for an out to be recorded (and a 100% chance of a hit and atleast 1 run).
This season Mike Mussina has allowed 21 homers in 145 innings pitched, on pace for 31 allowed in 212 innings.
That total would match his career high, which was, probably not so coincidently, in 1996 when he had the worst ERA (4.81) of his career (before this year, of course).
Last year Mussina allowed 20 homers in 228.2 innings or .78/9 innings. In 2000 he allowed 21 homers in 237.2 innings, for an almost identical rate of .79/9 innings.
As I said, this season Mussina has already allowed 21 homers (matching his 2000 total and 1 more than his 2001 total) in only 145 innings, which is about 1.3/9 innings.
So, to recap:
Mussina is striking out less batters and thus allowing more balls to be put into play.
The Yankees' defense is sub par at converting balls in play into outs, thus allowing more hits than an average defense would.
Mussina is allowing significantly more home runs than he has in the past.
My friends, all of that adds up to a 4.90 ERA and a higher opponent's batting average than he has had since, you guessed it, 1996.
Tuesday, August 06, 2002
Drumroll please...The Twins got their butts kicked yesterday afternoon. I would normally write about such a thing, but the game was not on television and I didn't venture out to the Metrodome to watch it live. Thankfully, some other people (about 28,000 of them) did.
I suggest this game recap over at TwinsGeek.com. It is very funny, as is a lot of the stuff on the site.
The "long rant" section of my brain is apparently on vacation today because so far nothing has inspired me to write my usual 5 trillion words on Pedro or Bud Selig or whatever.
So, I figured today would be a good time to do a little, drumroll please....READER MAIL!
Before I start, I just want to thank everyone who has checked out the site since it's birth on August 1st (hey, that rhymed!).
I also want to thank those of you who sent me emails. I was amazed at how many I got in the 4 or 5 days since this site has been up and running.
I promise to read and respond to every single one I get, so please, keep those emails coming.
And an added bonus, I haven't received any death threats yet, which makes me feel real special.
Also, no "Your writing turns me on so much, I need to meet you" emails from lingerie models living in Minnesota (or anywhere, I can travel!), but I am sure they are just a little shy. In a week or so when they are completely addicted to the site, the model emails will come flying in.
Now, without further adeu, ladies and gentlemen....READER MAIL...
Our first email comes to us from Boston.
Matt, in reponse to yesterday's entry about Pedro Martinez says, "Great Pedro post."
Why thank you Matt, it is always nice when people are able to recognize genius. Oh, wait, he said some more stuff...
"Living in Boston, I have been lucky enough to see Pedro, and make no mistake, Pedro during 99-00 was bigger than Roger ever was. Bigger than Rice, Evans or Boggs. Bigger than Brady, bigger than Cam Neely or Raymond. Bigger than Fisk, Lynn or even El Tiante. The only person who has ever compared in the city of Boston through out my life time is Larry Legend.
You just knew that no matter what it took in the big game Pedro was coming through. Except the difference was with Pedro every game seemed like a big game.
If you have a chance to see The Pedro Game, again, as he is coming in from the bullpen, all 160 pounds of him (and I have stood next to him, he doesn't weigh an once
over 170 or didn't then) the camera pans the Cleveland dug out. The look those players had was unforgettable, almost like they were accepting defeat in the forth inning. Unreal."
Great email Matt.
I know, watching that playoff game on TV, when Pedro came out of the bullpen I just knew the scoring was over.
I can only imagine how Cleveland, the highest scoring team in baseball that season, felt.
Here they are, bashing the crap out of the ball for 3 innings, like they did all season long, and then, boom, it's over. If I knew it was over, sitting in my living room, the Indians had to know it was over.
Our next email comes to us from Oakland.
Zachary, in response to "Aaron's" wondering if murdering Bud Selig would be so wrong (Yes, that's right, not me, "Aaron"), says, "I'm part Italian and my Uncle 'Vito' tells me, "accidents sometimes happen to people and 'der is nuttin' we can do."
Our next email comes to us from New Jersey.
"Uncle Vito" writes, "My nephew told me to send you an email. Apparently you have a "problem" that needs fixing?"
He then went on to quote me a price and gave me 47 ways (of which I could choose up to 3) that my "problem" could be solved.
Sorry Vito, I don't have that kind of money on me, after all, it's not as if I get paid for this!
Thanks for the email and please say hello to Mr. Soprano for me.
Our next email comes to us from New York.
Rick, in response to my two entries about player paces through two-thirds of the season (scroll down to August 2nd and 3rd), asks, "I know you said that ARod and Bonds are your MVP choices, but who are your top 5 in each league? What about your Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year?"
Here they are Rick (Remember, these are my picks for who deserves them if the season ended today, some things will change by the end of the year).
1) ARod (Leads the league in RARP, HRs, RBI, SLG%. 2nd in Runs, 6th in OBP. All while playing the toughest (non-catcher) defensive position at gold glove level.)
2) Jason Giambi (2nd in the league in RARP. Leads in OBP, EqA. 3rd in SLG%, 4th in RBI.)
3) Torii Hunter (5th in the AL in SLG%, 7th in HRs and Avg. 9th in RARP, 10th in SB. Top 15 in RBI, Runs, Hits, Doubles and the best defensive centerfielder in baseball.)
4) Alfonso Soriano (3rd in the league in RARP and Runs. 2nd in doubles and hits, 5th in HRs. 1st in SB. And playing one of the toughest defensive positions.)
5) Ichiro! (6th in the league in RARP, 4th in OBP, 1st in hits, 2nd in Avg, 7th in runs. Great defense in right field, having an even better season than last year.)
1) Barry Bonds (1st in the majors in OBP, SLG, RARP, EqA and EqR. The only reason there is even any doubt is because of injuries)
2) Brian Giles (2nd in RARP, EqA and EqR. 4th in OBP, 3rd in SLG. Good defense in LF. The most underrated player in baseball)
3) Jeff Kent (This tells you how horrible the rest of the Giants' offense is. 3rd in RARP. .329/.379/.552.)
4) Sammy Sosa (Yes, this is an "off year" for Sosa.4th in RARP, 5th in EqA, 5th in SLG. 1st in Runs.)
5) Tie, Vlad Guerrero/Adam Dunn/Jim Edmonds/Lance Berkman/Those two pitchers in Arizona.
1) Eric Hinske (Only rookie in the top 20 RARP. Only good hitting rookie getting full-time ABs.)
2) Bobby Kielty (Quickly becoming my 2nd favorite player. Gardenhire needs to play him every day. .311/.436/.502. 8th in AL EqA.)
3) Rodrigo Lopez (11th in AL in SNWL. On pace for 18-6, 3.16 ERA, 208 IP, .226 OAVG.)
4) Dustan Mohr (Playing well and often, but he and Kielty should be switched as far playing time. .296/.343/.469.)
5) Tie, Jorge Julio/Carlos Pena/Nick Johnson/Tony Fiore/Kevin Mench.
1) Damian Moss (9th in the NL in SNWL. On pace for 10-6, 177 IP, 3.03 ERA, .184 OAVG.)
2) Austin Kearns (Not hitting for as much power as I thought he would, but the OBP (.390) is great. .295/.390/.460.)
3) Kaz Ishii (Looked like winner for sure after April/May, but has cooled considerably. On pace for 17-10, 185 IP, 4.07 ERA.)
4) Brad Wilkerson (Quietly putting together a very good rookie season. .265/.366/.453 and on pace for 20 HRs and 80 BBs.)
5) Tie, Mark Prior/Jason Simontacchi/Josh Fogg/Alex Sanchez/Josh Beckett.
1) Derek Lowe (1st in SNWL. 1st in ERA. 1st in Opponent Avg. Tied with Pedro for 1st in Wins and WHIP.)
2) Pedro Martinez (2nd in SNWL, ERA, OAVG. 1st in Strikeouts, Ks/9, K/BB. Will jump ahead of Lowe by end of the year.)
3) Barry Zito (3rd in SNWL, Strikeouts, Ks/9. Tied for 1st in Wins. 4th in OAVG. 6th in ERA.)
4) Jamie Moyer (4th in SNWL. 1st in Innings Pitched. 5th in ERA. 3rd in Opponents average.)
5) JC Romero (2nd in ARP. 1st in Games Pitched. 7-1 with a 1.80 ERA. Only 45 Hits in 60 IP, with 57 Strikeouts.)
1) Randy Johnson (2nd in SNWL. 1st in Innings Pitched, Strikeouts, Ks/9. 2nd in Wins, ERA.)
2) Curt Schilling (1st in SNWL, Wins, K/BB. 2nd in Strikeouts, Ks/9, Innings Pitched. 5th in ERA.)
3) Tom Glavine (3rd in SNWL, Wins. 4th in ERA.)
4) Greg Maddux (1st in ERA. 4th in SNWL. 8th in Wins. Still getting it done, but not pitching as many innings.)
5) Eric Gagne (5th in ARP. 2nd in Saves. Cooling off lately, likely will not be in my top 5 at the end of the year.)
AL Manager of the Year (MOY?):
1) Ron Gardenhire (I'm a Twins fan, but he probably deserves it anyway.)
2) Mike Scioscia (This year's "Best managing job with a team no one thought would be this good.")
1) Bobby Cox (Best record in baseball. Mazzone probably deserves about half of the award.)
2) Tie, Bob Brenly/Jim Tracy/Bob Boone.
Our final email comes to us from Minnesota.
"Aaron's Mom" writes, "Honey, I am so glad you found something to do this summer, we were all getting worried about you. I haven't read the site yet because baseball bores me and I don't know how to get onto the internet, but if it has your writing on it, it couldn't be that horrible. Well, I guess it could actually. Don't forget to walk the dog."
I'll be back later, I have to go take the dog outside.
Monday, August 05, 2002
PedroI just got home from scoring 14 runs in the 8th inning of a 1-on-1 baseball game against my uncle. You haven't lived until you have gone to a baseball field with a bag of balls and gone 1-on-1 with someone. My uncle usually kicks my butt (unlike me, he was/is a very good baseball player), but today I had everything working, especially in that 8th inning. I ended up winning by 2 runs, which also tells you a little something about my pitching ability. And, if you are wondering how exactly you play 1-on-1 baseball, you'll just have to use your imagination.
As you can probably tell, I am in a good mood. So, no Bud Selig rants today...
Pedro Martinez went 7 shutout innings against the Rangers yesterday, allowing only 3 hits (all singles) while striking out 10 and walking 1. A vintage Pedro line for sure. Pedro is my favorite pitcher, as I suspect is the case with a lot of you. So, I thought I would praise his performance a little bit, while basking in the glow of my own performance today.
Pedro since the All-Star break: 4-0, 0.74 ERA, 36.1 IP, 17 Hits, 47 SO, 8 BB
Not too shabby. But, it gets better...
Pedro in July/August: 6-0, 0.55 ERA, 49.1 IP, 25 Hits, 69 SO, 10 BB
He actually was pretty great in April (3.38 ERA), May (2.58) and June (3.34) but his July and August starts have got to be one of the best stretches, for anyone, in a long time.
Of course, back in April, I watched Pedro's first start of the season (3 IP, 7 ER against Toronto) and it really made me sad for some reason. I suspect, like a lot of people, that I really love to witness greatness. I don't mean Jason Giambi greatness or Curt Schilling greatness or even Randy Johnson greatness. I mean a special kind of greatness. Barry Bonds in 2001 (and 2002, when he isn't hurt). Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals. Mark McGwire in 1998. Bob Gibson in 1968. Ted Williams in 1941 (and about 10 other years too). Babe Ruth. Pedro Martinez in 1999 and especially 2000.
I wasn't around to see Gibson or Teddy Ballgame, but I was a baseball fan in 1999 and 2000 and Pedro Martinez was as good as it gets. And there is something unbelievably special about that.
I remember watching game 5 of the Red Sox/Indians ALDS in 1999. The Tribe got 8 runs off of Saberhagen and Lowe in the first 3 innings and had a 8-7 lead, in what looked like a 15-14 game in the making. In the bottom of the fourth however, Pedro Martinez came out of the Sox bullpen and all of the scoring stopped (all of the hits too) for the Indians. Pedro pitched 6 no-hit innings and the Sox won 12-8. That was special. That was Pedro. That was greatness. He knew he was great. We knew he was great. The Indians knew he was great. And he didn't disappoint. There are a lot more examples, like the duel with Clemens at Yankee stadium in 2000. And I can only imagine what it would have been like to have been at Fenway for one of Pedro's starts in 1999 or 2000. That was greatness, live, in person, and at Fenway Park.
Last year we saw it, but only in flashes. His 16 Ks in 8 IP against Tampa Bay and then his 13 Ks in 6 IP against them 2 weeks later. 13 Ks in 8 shutout IP against Mussina and the Yankees, at Fenway. It was there last year, but only for a little while. In April (1.80 ERA) he was great. In May (1.17 ERA) he was Pedro. But then he got injured and he struggled (5.16 ERA in June and only 13 IP after the All-Star break). I hoped it would all come back.
Then I watched Pedro's first 2002 start. Toronto got 3 in the first. I still had hope, maybe he was just a little rusty. Toronto scored 4 more in the 2nd, without making an out. I thought it was over, the greatness was gone. Then Pedro struck out the next 3 hitters to end the inning and I could see it coming back. But after a triple, a hit by pitch and another run in the 3rd, and a single and a walk to start the 4th, I knew it was over. I was crushed. I mean, what a horrible way to start off a baseball season. After that 4th inning of Pedro's first game of the season, I stopped looking for the greatness. He got knocked around against the Yankees in his 3rd start and I just started hoping for a 4.00 ERA or an avoidance of a major injury.
Then one day I noticed Pedro's ERA hovering around 3.00. I started to get those thoughts back, just a little bit. Then I saw him pitch against that same Toronto team that had killed him in his first start. Pedro's line: 8 IP, 14 SO, 0 BB, 0 ER. Then a little later he went 8 innings, gave up 2 hits and struck out 11 against Tampa Bay. Then 8 innings, 2 hits and 9 Ks the next start against Anaheim. And last night, 7 IP, 3 hits and 10 Ks.
With all of the things that are wrong with baseball (and other sports too I guess) it is important to remember why we love it so much. For me, a big part of that is the potential to witness something special, someone special. True greatness.
As we have seen, time after time, you never know when that greatness is going to end. It might retire abruptly (Jordan), it might get injured (Pedro), it might just slowly go away (Ruth and Williams) and it might suddenly come back (Jordan and Pedro). When it does come back, like with Pedro, or when it is there right now, like with Barry Bonds, don't take it for granted. Make sure to catch a Pedro start or a few Giants game on MLB Extra Innings. Check the ESPN Sunday night schedule. Check your hometown team's schedule and make a trip to the ballpark to see it live. Heck, take a roadtrip to Fenway. Just witness it somehow, because greatness doesn't come around too often and it can be gone before you realize it.
Pedro, it's good to have you back.
Sunday, August 04, 2002
The DevilYesterday, Bud Selig spoke at a journalism convention.
Here are some of the things he said (according to ESPN.com):
1) "Despite the Minnesota Twins' on-field success this season, baseball commissioner Bud Selig maintains the team is no less a candidate for contraction than it was a year ago."
Am I wrong, or didn't Minnesota receive a guarantee that they would be playing baseball in 2003? And hasn't Selig said, time after time, that he is still planning on contraction during this off-season? That doesn't quite add up. If you are going to get rid of 2 teams for 2003 and you have told the Twins they aren't going to be one of them...? Someone, let's hypothetically call him "The Devil", is lying.
2) "Selig called the team's success this year an "aberration.'"
ab·er·ra·tion n. A deviation from the proper or expected course.
So, according to Selig, the Twins are deviating from the proper course by winning a lot of baseball games? Gee, sorry Bud, maybe we should be more like the Brewers and let the proper teams win the games.
And/or they are deviating from the expected course, which would mean that they are a complete surprise/fluke?
The Twins had one of baseball's best records at the 2001 all-star break and, although they struggled badly in the second half, they finished with an 85-77 record, good for 2nd place in their division.
And now, about 2/3 of the way through the 2002 season, the Twins have one of the top records in baseball, the largest division lead of anyone and an all-but-guaranteed spot in the post-season (If Selig doesn't cancel another season).
85-77 one year and 68-43 (on pace for 99-63) the next. Can that really be considering a fluke?
3) "Minnesota, which own the biggest division lead of any team in the American League, is the only small market team performing well this year, he said."
The idea that Minnesota is the only "small-market" team playing well this season is just idiotic.
I am not exactly sure how to define "small-market" so I will just use the team salaries.
Coincidently, I'll make the cut-off on teams with smaller payrolls than the Milwaukee Brewers, who rank 21st in payroll, with a total of about $50 million.
Minnesota Twins - 68-43 (27th in payroll)
Oakland Athletics - 63-48 (28th in payroll)
Cincinnati Reds - 57-52 (24th in payroll)
Montreal Expos - 55-55 (29th in payroll)
Florida Marlins - 54-56 (25th in payroll)
The Brewers, by the way, have a 39-71 record, worst (by a big margin) in the National League.
Oakland has had one of the league's best records (2nd best record in AL both last year and in 2000) for several years now, so are they an aberration too?
4) "Selig praised Twins management for putting together a division-leading team. But he said Twins executives have told him they're worried they won't be able to afford their top players next year."
So Selig is somehow worried that the Twins might have to dump a little salary for next season?
The White Sox (who I think might play in a bigger market than Minnesota) have been dumping salary for a couple of weeks now. So has Toronto, so has Cleveland, and a lot of other teams.
Believe me, trading away a couple of the Twins' arbitration eligible players would probably be a good thing for the Twins, regardless of money. I believe Jacque Jones and Doug Mientkiewicz are both arbitration eligible this off-season.
I have said before in other venues and will likely say so here in the future, that the Twins should be looking to trade Jacque Jones and Mientkiewicz.
Trade Jones and platoon Kielty and Mohr in left field, with Cuddyer in right field. Trade Mientkiewicz and put David Ortiz or Matthew LeCroy at 1B.
If they need to cut even more salary, try to find a taker for Rick Reed.
5) "Selig added he doesn't believe the Twins' fortunes will change without a new stadium. "The Vikings will tell you that too,'' he said."
Well, geez whiz, if the Vikings said it, it must be true!
Selig added that Santa Claus will come down the chimney on Christmas Eve. "Any kid under 8 will tell you that too," Selig said.
Selig added that Wins for pitchers and RBI for hitters are the most important stats in all of baseball. "Joe Morgan will tell you that too," Selig said.
Selig added that if you cross your eyes or make a funny face they will stay like that forever. "My grandmother will tell you that too," Selig said.
Selig added that the roof at Miller Park doesn't actually leak at all. "The people with umbrellas at the All-Star game will tell you that," Selig said.
Let's say someone, let's hypothetically call him "Aaron", said to someone else in the car on the way to dinner Saturday night that "If I were really old, like 90 or so, or if I had a terminal disease, I would seriously consider attempting to murder Bud Selig." Do you think I...oops...I mean "Aaron", would be wrong in saying that? Of course, "Aaron" is a really great person (trust me, I know him) and he would never actually murder anyone. Bud Selig, on the other hand, seems pretty willing to murder two franchises and is doing his best to seriously injure an entire sport.
And finally, because I have so much anger towards this man that I just can't seem to stop typing...
Milwaukee Brewers = 24,371 (with their brand new stadium, the all-star game and no bad press coming from the commissioner's office)
Minnesota Twins = 22,555 (with their horrible, old stadium, the threat of contraction before and during the season and a commish who won't stop bashing the team)
2002 W-L pace:
Minnesota Twins = 99-63
Milwaukee Brewers = 57-105
2001 W-L record:
Minnesota Twins = 85-77
Milwaukee Brewers = 68-94
Hey Bud, we have the biggest division lead in the entire world. We have a great, young team. We have a good farm system. We have a good GM. We have won 2 World Series Championships in the last 15 years. And we have been in Minnesota for over 40 years (longer than those stinking Brewers!). Leave us alone! If you are looking for a team to contract, I hear there are a couple of expansion franchises in Florida that some idiot chose to award that aren't doing so well.