Slightly longer version here.
Scott’s observations about Murray Chass not cottoning to newfangled statistics or the computer geeks who frighten and confuse him came to mind when I was in a Barnes and Noble this afternoon, and saw copies of Who’s Who in Baseball on the magazine stand. The cover of the thing looks exactly as it did 30 years ago, and the inside is also exactly the same: the editors have decided to stick with the identical stats I remember from the days when the Bee Gees ruled top 40 radio. For example, among the abstruse new stats that still haven’t found their way into Who’s Who’s batting statistics are “walks,” “slugging percentage,” and “on-base percentage.”
Which raises the question, who is plunking down $9.95 for a compendium that has about 2% of the information available for free (in far more up to date form) on a site like Baseball Reference? Apparently the nostalgic tendencies of baseball fans extend to the products of the publishing industry.
Klein called the recent “devaluation of wins” a mistake.
“Remember when it used to be said of good pitchers that ‘they do what it takes to win’ and of certain pitchers that ‘they’re good enough to lose,’” he added. “Granted, there are always hard-luck pitchers who consistently pitch strong games but get minimal hitting support.
“But I always felt there was a class of pitchers who would win 2-1, and another class of solid pitchers who, in big games, would lose 3-2. Wins are still the most important stat. Felix Hernandez was declared the Cy Young winner, but I didn’t hear anybody declaring the Mariners the AL champs. Why? They didn’t have enough wins.
Noble said these days “most stats aren’t predicated on who wins but added, “That’s kind of silly. Isn’t that the reason for playing?”
As for the new statistics, Noble said, “You can’t quantify everything. That’s the charm of the game. You can have 18 hits and lose by 5 runs when the other team has 6 hits.
“There’s more new stuff because there are computers. In the past we couldn’t figure out these things. It’s the computer more than anything else. These guys grew up with computers. There are guy who make money creating these stats.”
And the advocates of the statistics, Noble added, forget that people play the game.
“They ignore the David Eckstein factor,” he said. “He’ll do something that will piss you off,” he said, something, he meant, that you can’t find in the statistics. Or “Jeter late in a game,” adding, “Jeter was seen as the worst player at all positions but who else makes that play against the A’s in the playoffs?”
The defense could site systematic studies, note how crazy it is to blame Felix Hernandez for playing for a historically bad offense and how appalling it is to imply that he lacks guts, etc. But for today we will point to yesterday’s Boston Marathon, in which Mr. John Lackey was credited with a “win” for having the guts and Jack Morris makeup and Pete Vukovich pancake foundation to get the shit beat out of him for five whole innings, and Bartolo Colon was credited with a “loss” for being so gutless as to be the only pitcher in the game to pitch multiple innings with any effectiveness.
The defense rests. Although it does concede that stats do not fully quantify the extent to which John Lackey does things to piss you off.
What a sad way for one of the greatest right-handed hitters ever to go out. This also reinforces my belief that it could be a pretty rough year in Tampa; without Ramirez I just can’t see them having the power to compete in the East.
Congratulations to L. Peters of Luke8398 1 for being the only entrant in the LGM Tourney Challenge to pick UConn to win!
|1||Luke8398 1, L. Peters||230||120||80||80||160||320||UConn||0||990||95.9|
|2||wasserst 1, I. Wasserstein||260||200||160||80||160||0||Kansas||0||860||94.9|
|3||DribblerDawgs, S. Heath||240||200||160||80||160||0||Florida||0||840||94.7|
|4||FunBoy84Lyfe, C. Baumer||240||140||160||80||160||0||Kansas||0||780||93.6|
|4||MM-MMg00d 1, F. Biltnikoff||240||180||120||80||160||0||Kansas||0||780||93.6|
|6||Geometer U, A Geometer||240||160||120||80||160||0||Kansas||0||760||93.0|
|7||Pickled Tink, P. Murphy||270||200||120||160||0||0||Notre Dame||0||750||92.7|
|7||AlexD1985 1, A. Dvorkin||230||160||120||80||160||0||Pittsburgh||0||750||92.7|
|7||mixingmemory 2, C. S||210||180||200||160||0||0||Kentucky||0||750||92.7|
|10||brettjthomas 2, B. Thomas||240||140||120||80||160||0||Pittsburgh||0||740||92.3|
|10||jsorbet1 1, J. Sorbet||220||120||160||80||160||0||Kansas||0||740||92.3|
If “Luke” would contact me at the e-mail address on the far right sidebar, I’d be happy to communicate relevant prize info.
Also, remember that I have belatedly fired up LGM’s Baseball Challenge. Not too late to join!
League Name: Lawyers, Guns and Money
Apparently the Brewers read Scott’s breakdown of the balance of power in the NL Central, and determined that they could more than afford to start the season in a three game hole to the Reds. Two takeaways from the series:
West: 1. Tex 2. Oak 3. LAA 4. Sea The Rangers ran away with the division and they’re not old, so they’re the presumptive favorites, and I see no reason to pick against them — their offense is easily the best in the division and they have interesting young pitchers (albeit in a park where it’s tough for young pitching to develop.) For the last couple years I’ve been saying that the A’s have been massively overrated by the sabermetric community and they’ve turned out to be mildly overrated, so now that I think they’re only mildly overrated maybe now they’ll win? Perhaps. The young pitching is impressive, but then so is Texas’s. And while the lineup is improved it’s still pretty bad. And I also think its passable-to-good on base with little power structure is badly designed to their home park, which murders sequential offense. I don’t they’ll score enough runs to win. My pessimism about the Angels should be viewed in the proper context — i.e. that I’ve predicted 7 of their last 1 bad years. But I’m still willing to write them off; the core lineup is old and not terribly good, the back end of the rotation poor, the once-outstanding bullpen essentially vanished. I think they’ll be closer to Seattle than Texas. The Mariners have had exaggerated good and bad luck for four years, so I’d expect them to settle in as a below-average but not awful team. The best pitcher in the league has some not-bad support, but while the offense will surely be better merely “terrible” would be an improvement over “historically inept.” Third place is the upside.
Central 1. Chi 2. Min 3. Det 4. Cle 5. KC The top three teams in this division are almost dead even on paper, so my choices are essentially random. I think the White Sox have the best mix of depth and front-line talent and depth, and especially like the Dunn acquisition. The Twins have a little more support for their core than the Tigers, although I’d rather have Cabrera/Verlander/Scherzer than Maurer/Mourneau/Liriano; if the Tigers get anything out of the back end of their rotation they could win the division. Choo and Santana give the Indians a nice core and the surrounding talent has some upside, but the starting pitching is ghastly. The Royals have even less pitching and their interesting core players aren’t as interesting — a lot of talent in their pipeline, but they’ll be working against a GM who thinks that the likes of Francoeur and Melky are playable.
East 1. Bos 2. NYY(*) 3. TB 4. Bal 5. Tor Everyone likes the Red Sox, and I don’t disagree; they have the strongest mix of pitching and offense in the toughest division in American sports, even if Beckett and Lackey are question marks and you’d like them more if they had a real shortstop or catcher. That isn’t to say that they should be huge favorites, though — age or no age the Yanks still have an absolutely devastating offense, and a killer bullpen than might help their very thin rotation get by until the cavalry arrives from eliminated small markets. I can’t pick a team with Burnett as their #2 starter to win the division, but only improvements by Toronto and Baltimore can keep them from the wild card; they’re the second-best team in baseball, but whether the record will reflect that is another story. The Rays remain real contenders, and the rotation could well be the best in the division. But while they scored a lot of runs last year, they greatly overachieved the actual performance of their hitters based on exceptional baserunning (some of which has fled to Boston) and and luck (which can’t be counted on.) I don’t think they have the power to win this division. The Orioles’ addition of veteran hitters is irrelevant to their long-term success but may help to make them more respectable, and Showalter’s short-term record is good. The Blue Jays could actually win almost any other division, so I don’t mean this as a diss, but the injuries to the rotation worry me, and the offense projects as the weakest in the division.
West: 1. SF 2. Col 3. L.A. 4.ARI 5. S.D. The defending champs are likely to get worse years from their overachieving veterans but more value from their young players, and of course the rotation in the best in the league west of Philly. The Rockies are interesting, but the lineup has some holes, their best player has trouble staying on the field and their best pitcher tailed off substantially in the second half last year. I like the Dodger rotation, but the lineup ends at the #4 hole and an organization in turmoil is unlikely to improve their hand during the year. Last year, nobody thought the Padres were good, and despite the fact that they nearly made the playoffs…I still don’t think they’re good; apart from the bullpen it’s hard to see the virtues and by far their best player is gone, although I like the pickups of Hudson and Maybin. So in a coin flip I’ll pick the youngish talent of the DBacks to finally push forward a bit.
Central 1. Mil 2. STL 3. Cin 4. Chi 5. Pit 6. Hou I’m reluctant to jump on bandwagons created by offseason acquisitions, but the Brewers’ were tailored to their needs, and with the Wainwright injury I think they deserve to be favorites in this thin division. The Cards, with best player in the game and a manager and coach with an extensive history of getting the most out of pitchers with modest credentials, still have to be respected. With apologies to Farley he Reds are like the Brewers but not as good; they could win again given some breaks but I think they need a consolation year. The Cubs played better after teh departure of Uncle Lou, and I like the Garza pickup, but they remain unimpressive offensively and defensively. The Pirates have more future than the Astros and may pull ahead of them this year, although they remain pretty hideous. But the ‘Stros…bad lineup and mediocre rotation with no future…it’s a rough situation.
East: 1. Phi 2. Atl(*) 3. Fla 4. NY 5. Wash I mentioned last year that while the current Phillies group felt like a great team, they had yet to win 95 games even once. Well, they cleared the hurdle last year and added the biggest prize in last year’s free agent crop. But they remain a talented but flawed team, just reconfigured. The rotation is indeed the best in baseball — although only one of the aces is under 30 — but this has served to conceal the fact that it’s the only really good part of the team. The only elite player remaining in the lineup is hurt with no timetable for return, and the bullpen isn’t very good either. The comparisons with the 2-way Braves of 90s tempt me to pick them second to prove a point, but the while the Phils don’t have healthy legitimate stars in the lineup anymore they also don’t have a lot of holes, so I think their pitching will be good enough to stay ahead of a good Braves team. The Marlins have an impressive core of young and prime talent (Ramirez, Johnson, Stanton) that could get enough help to contend this year, although I think they’re a year away. If you wanted to be optimistic about the Mets you could point out that they outscored their opposition last year despite a ton of bad luck with their lineup. That’s true as far as it goes, but on the other hand their starting pitching was much better than could have been expected — with Santana out, the only pitcher I’d expect to be even above-average is Dickey, a 36-year old with one good season under his belt. And it’s not like you’d want to bet on Beltran or Bay being All-Stars this year either. The manager is a retread and the ownership is in worse shape than Arthur Penske, so things will get worse before they get better. Indeed, I’m tempted to pick them last, but the Nationals are sort of the rich man’s Pirates, some long-range promise but a present that’s still pretty grim.
As much as I look forward to Opening Day, watching the Mariners tonight will definitely be bittersweet.
And in a final Opening Day note, the lineup of the New York Metroplolitans features Mr. Willie Harris. As a corner outfielder. I guess Ice Williams was unavailable…
hickes 01 asks:
Hey, What happened to the LGM Fantasy Baseball league?
And the answer is: I completely forgot about it.
LGM Baseball Challenge
League: Lawyers, Guns and Money
The hope this year is that some ragtag group of rebels can overthrow the tyrannical M. Ricci regime, possibly with the support of massive NATO airstrikes.
Another marginal prospect who gets more attention than he deserves because he`s among the best of the sorry lot in the Reds organization. Votto has ball-crushing power, but, it`s of the classic long swing/slow bat variety that will get nullified by pitching in the high minors if he can`t adjust. At 22, he`s spent two and a half years in A-ball and needs to make his move in 2006. If you want an ominous sign, he failed to impress the AFL last year.
Looking forward to baseball…
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