Breitbart evidently now has a sports page, where its writers provide the same acumen for terrible analysis that they do on the political side. Because you see advanced statistics and math is for liberals. Instead, conservatives need numbers that reinforce their already existing beliefs against reality. Like all that matters in understanding pitchers is if the pitcher’s team racks up a win:
In this article, columnist John Pudner introduces a new, proprietary metric, called Value Add Baseball. The idea behind it is to evaluate starting pitchers based not on how well they pitch, but how well they pitch in specific game situations. If a starting pitcher’s team scores six runs, he can give up five runs and still maintain a lead; by contrast, if a starting pitcher’s team scores only two runs, then he can give up three runs but still fall behind. The point of Value Add Baseball is to adjust for this: To make it clear that the pitcher who allows five runs when his team has scored six has done better than the pitcher who has allowed three runs when his team has scored two.
Sound crazy? It should! “The starting pitcher is the one player who has responsibility each game for getting his team the win,” Pudner writes. But, actually, it is not the pitcher’s job to get his team the win. It is the team’s job to get the team the win. Baseball is a team sport! The starting pitcher contributes to the win—typically, I agree, more than any other individual player does—by helping, along with his defense and catcher, limit the other team’s runs. But this metric holds the pitcher completely responsible. And it subscribes to the myth of “pitching to the score,” which is just plain wrong.
Consider: It is generally agreed that the best baseball game ever pitched came on May 29, 1959, when the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Harvey Haddix was perfect through 12 innings before he gave up a run to the Milwaukee Braves in the bottom of the 13th. (Hank Aaron was on base at the time.) Because the Pirates themselves had scored no runs through 13, Haddix “lost” the game. If I understand Value Add Baseball correctly, his “rating” for that game is worse than that of a starting pitcher who gave up five runs through seven innings while his own team scored nine. That is, plainly, ludicrous.
Look, Harvey Haddix sucked that day, OK. And the greatest pitcher of all time is obviously Jack Morris, he of the 5-run win. Felix Hernandez winning the Cy Young in 2010 was the greatest travesty of all time except for the Kenyan Usurper’s two presidential wins and of course that evil George H.W. Bush stealing the 1988 Republican nomination from godly Pat Robertson. And how dare those liberal sportsnerds create a statistic called WAR, taking away from what war is supposed to do, kill brown people.
Bill Barnwell lists some bad NFL contracts, but of course his definition of “bad contract” is one in which the team loses value, not one in which the player is dramatically underpaid relative to his contribution. Given labor agreements that substantially restrict rookie and early year player compensation, a list of underpaid players is naturally going to be headed by guys like Mike Trout. Excluding those, what would a list of long-term contracts (NFL, NBA, or MLB) that were very “bad” from the perspective of the player look like?
The Yankees’ acquisition of Alfonso Soriano is another sign that the team’s ownership really has had trouble adjusting to the new reality that you have to develop from within in order to compete. Half-heartedly trying to get below the luxury tax, the Yankees decided to pass on resigning players like Nick Swisher in the offseason, instead choosing to rely on a bunch of ancient and oft-injured players. That’s gone as well as expected, meaning that the Yankees arguably have the worst right-handed hitting team of all time, according to Ben Lindbergh at Baseball Prospectus (sub required to read the whole thing):
As a team, the Yankees have hit .221/.283/.311 from the right side of the plate. That’s 30 points of OPS worse than the Marlins, who rank 29th in that category (and who play in a pitcher’s park and don’t have a DH). The Yankees haven’t hit a right-handed homer in over a month (Jayson Nix, June 25th), and they went three weeks without one before that (Mark Teixeira, June 4th). It’s like the whole team has turned into Pete Kozma.
This is historic offensive futility, and the fact that the Yankees had the highest payroll in baseball before trading for Soriano adds insult to impotence. The Yankees’ .594 OPS from the right side is the 17th-lowest ever (or since 1916, which is as far back as Baseball-Reference goes when searching for that split). None of the entries on the list below them is from the last 30 seasons; most are from low-offense eras and pitcher’s parks. In fact, considering the context, the 2013 Yankees have a real claim to the title of worst right-handed-hitting team of all time.
Let’s just say that again. The Yankees do not have a right-handed home run since June 25. Today is July 26. Among the teams worse than the Yankees in that list referred to above are the mighty 81 Blue Jays and the legendary 02 and 03 Tigers. Actually every team since 1950 is better than the Yankees at right-handed hitting.
Acquiring Soriano in itself is probably fine if you need an ancient slugger having a surprisingly good season but who is a major liability on the basepaths and in the field. That doesn’t help the Yankees much; the reality is that there isn’t anything out there short of the Marlins trading Giancarlo Stanton for a bag of balls that is going to help them much. They need to be sellers, not buyers. It’s amazing that the Yankees’ record is as good as it is since they have vastly outperformed what their statistics suggest their record should be. In other words, the Yankees are by far the luckiest team in baseball this year and that’s unlikely to continue in the last 2 months. But they are the Yankees and they only buy.
Given that the Yankees are utterly bereft of decent hitting prospects in the upper echelons of the system and the increased age and long-term contracts of their players, it’s likely the Yankees will be a lot worse next year.
If anyone needs to puke, reading Lanny Davis appropriating the Washington Nationals to push his dream of a purple America where everyone in the Beltway can just get along by the Democratic Party moving to the right should accomplish it.
I’ve always dreamed of starting a grassroots campaign for Toronto Blue Jays reliever Steve Delabar for one reason or another. And now I have my chance. Of course, fans get to choose the final all-star. For some reason, all the attention this year is whether Yasiel Puig will be the choice in the NL. Not much about the AL. Maybe that’s because fans have the joy of deciding between 5 right-handed middle relievers for that spot, a situation I am sure really excites Bud Selig and the marketing team of MLB. The candidates are actually quite good–Delabar, Joaquin Benoit, David Robertson, Tanner Scheppers, and Koji Uehara. Who would I vote for? Who cares. Certainly not Tanner Scheppers because of his terrible first name, not that it is his fault. I mean really, shouldn’t there be national counseling to expectant parents on the names they give their children.* Maybe Koji Uehara as a reminder to all Rangers fans what a great trade their team made in giving up a washed-up first baseman named Chris Davis for him a couple of years ago. Wonder what happened to that guy?
In other baseball news, I will be attending a Mexican League game tonight. I look forward to extreme awesomeness. I understand there are cheerleaders.
* This reminds me of a Rangers game I was at a few years ago. These racists behind me were making fun of the names black and Latino people give their children. It was very eye-rolling, very Texas. I remember especially them really laughing at the name of offensive linemen D’Brickashaw Ferguson. In these situations, I tend to hold my tongue and just keep listening for future story fodder, but my brother was getting really agitated. Then these racists called out to their daughter who was running around. Her name? Shiloh. I about doubled over laughing. You named your girl after a Civil War battle and you are making fun of black people? Then I remembered that they were racists and I was in Dallas. Good times. Good times.
After yet another pitcher, this time Alex Cobb of Tampa Bay, goes down from a liner to the head, it’s hardly unreasonable to say that pitchers need to wear helmets on the mound. I suppose a full face guard is ideal, but even a batting helmet would be tremendously helpful. Or does a pitcher have to die on the mound to create the necessary change?
With respect to this…
I guess what I don’t understand is why extremely successful players like A-Rod and Ryan Braun would take the risks associated with further connections to an organization like Biogenesis. Acknowledging all that is wrong with MLB’s approach to steroid usage (uneven enforcement, unclear metrics, invasive procedures, excessive moralism, etc.) it’s nevertheless true that MLB is waging a war on steroid usage, and that this war is broadly supported by the journalistic commentariat. Even if A-Rod, Braun, and the rest are innocent, they’re running serious risks. I can appreciate why marginal players would seek the risks as worth it, given the huge financial difference between marginal- and marginal+ careers. But A-Rod and Braun, already under suspicion and with Hall of Fame credentials in question? Barry Bonds, an elite player, made the decision to move to PEDs in the 1990s, and it paid off for him. Now, however, we’re operating under a much different administrative and normative framework; it’s hard to imagine how A-Rod, Braun, and the people around them saw this as a winning long-term strategy.
Pierce is right on the money. The experience of going to PNC Park, including just being in downtown Pittsburgh and walking around the ballpark neighborhood, is second to none in all of baseball. I’ve been to Fenway and while I respect the history there, PNC is a more enjoyable experience all around.
A fight over health care benefits between unionized workers and management at a factory in Pennsylvania has gotten the attention of Major League Baseball’s players, who are urging the workers to “stick together” against an effort to double health premiums without increasing benefits.
The dispute is centered at a VF Majestic factory in Pennsylvania, where all of Major League Baseball’s jerseys are manufactured, and it set to heat up when a three-year labor agreement expires Friday. The workers, affiliated with the Service Employees International Union, haven’t authorized a strike and are hoping to avoid one as they push back against Majestic in upcoming negotiating sessions. Heading into those negotiations, the workers received advice and support from Michael Weiner, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Player’s Association.
In fact, the Twins starters’ inability to miss bats isn’t just bad by 2013 standards — it’s spectacularly, historically awful. The last teams’ starters to strike out hitters at such an infrequent rate were the K-deficient Royals and Angels staffs of the early ’80s. But league-average strikeout rates were much lower 30 years ago than they are this season, when they’ve reached an all-time high. According to FanGraphs, if you line up the Twins starters’ strikeout rate against league average this year, then compare that number to other rotations in previous seasons, you get … the worst strikeout rate by a starting staff in the history of baseball.
It’s really amazing to watch major league batters strike out at astounding numbers except when they play the Twins when they never strike out. Can the Twins become the adjusted lowest strikeout team of all time. Only by watching thrilling pitchers like Scott Diamond and Kevin Correia can we find out!
The following is a long discussion between myself and Ted McClelland, spurred by his Slate article on baseball player salaries and social cohesion. Mr. McClelland graciously offered to conduct an e-mail debate on the question, and to allow me to post the results of this debate on the blog. My initial questions are in bold; his responses and counter-questions are italicized.