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This series is almost a mirror of a week and a half ago, with Guthrie versus Cecil leading things off, after which each team had made one change. Rick VandenHurk replaces Jo-Jo Reyes in the O's rotation and gets Henderson Alvarez. Meanwhile Tommy Hunter will face Dustin McGowan, who replaces Luis Perez, who if I understand things correctly will pick up McGowan after he goes his 5 innings/85 or so pitches. Reyes is being skipped by the O's not for innefficiency, shockingly, but because he just gave birth to his second child. Or I guess his wife did, and he went to be with her. McGowan is in because the team wants him to start so that he has less chance of aggravating his various ligaments and the like, or at least that is the official explanation.

Anyway, let's Advance Scout.

In all honesty, things this week are essentially no different than they were 10 days ago whence these teams, and pitchers, both last faced each other. So, read about that here if you want. The Curious Case of Dustin McGowan holds more interest, in as much as his comeback is somewhat remarkable and inspiring, and because he was once a very good pitcher and the Jays could use some of those. His relief appearance against the Red Sox wasn't anything special - he went 4 innings and faced 20 batters. Five of them hit, including one home run, three of them walked, and five of them struck out, and all this led to three runs. If one were to look for positives, it would be that McGowan was throwing as hard as he ever did three years ago, with a fastball running at 94 and a hard breaking ball at 88. Heck, even the 12 or so changeups he threw were around 87, which is harder than Brad Mills fastball. So, there are some tools there, and I think there's good reason to take comfort from that.

As for the grander question of what does this all mean, mostly for next year, well, who knows? Will McGowan ever be able to throw 100 pitches? Should be be a reliever exclusively, to try to judiciously squeeze out whatever is left of his arm bit by bit? Might he throw 200 innings? I don't know how much point there is in discussion beyond wishful speculation, because I'm sure no one, not McGowan himself nor his phalanx of doctors, really and truly knows how his arm will hold up. The man didn't pitch for three years after all. I think the club would love for him to be a starter next year, even if he's only going 5 and 6 innings, because most of the other prospects for the rotation are, well, prospects. At this juncture it seems like it's going to be Rickey Romero and Brandon Morrow, he who cannot figure it out. After that Henderson Alvarez is making a pretty strong case, but there is plenty of time left for that to go wrong. Carlos Villanueva had a nice run, and may deserve a shot, but I think that many of us in our heart of hearts know he's not really a the guy, just an a guy; Luis Perez similarly. I don't think there's any reason to give up on Kyle Drabek yet, but clearly there is still something to be figured out. Since I crowed about Brett Cecil figuring things out since his return from the minors he's given up 8 runs in 12 innings. Is a Romero-Morrow-Cecil-Alvarez-McGowan rotation good enough? I think that they have been good enough in the past to hope that they are again next year, but I don't think there's any reason to assume that they will be; crap happens after all.

Friday: Jeremy Guthrie v. Brett Cecil

Guthrie throws 92-93 with the heater, throwing a slider and change 10 MPH slower than that. He's also mixing in more low 70s benders, albeit without a ton of success. His fastball has historically been his best pitch, though he hasn't been doing much with it this year. He stoned the Jays two starts ago, allowing only five hits and a walk, and then got lit up by the Rays.

Saturday: Rick VandenHurk v. Henderson Alvarez

Rick VandenHurk is only 26, and threw some 155 fairly to very unsuccessful innings for the Marlins before coming over to the Junior Circuit. VandenHurk gets strikeouts, but poor command means he walks too many, and he's an extreme flyball and line drive pitcher, so he gives up his share of home runs and hits. He threw 154.1 innings in AAA for the Orioles with an ERA and FIP in the mid-4s, so I wouldn't expect too much. What VandenHurk is is big, 6'5 and 220 lbs. He throws pretty hard, around 93, with the whole array, slider, change, curve, the former two in the low 80s and the later in the low 70s. Lifetime Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are 1 for 5, Mark Teahan and Adam Lind are both 2 for 4, and Yunel is 4 for 12 and Kelly Johnson 1 for 13. As for Alvarez, I was optimistic when I wrote this up before the Orioles series, and since then he's thrown 14 scoreless innings allowing only 7 hits and a walk while striking out nine. Plus his GB/FB ratio was 26/7, which never hurts too much (and in the Boston game, a bunch of those flyballs were weak pop ups to CF, though at least one was tagged and caught.)  The TV crew was impressed by the development of his breaking ball; I don't know that it's really improved in season, but that is definitely the thing standing between him and some form of greatness. His fastball has such unbelievable movement, it's very pleasant to watch. Count me as a fan.

Sunday: Tommy Hunter v. Dustin McGowan

Tommy Hunter doesn't strike out anyone (under 5/9 innings for his career, and under 4/9 this year) and there's only so long one can pull that off. To his credit he doesn't really walk anyone, and doesn't give up many home runs. He has a career babip of .277 in some 300 innings, and if that's not a repeatable skill then he really is in trouble though, because when batters connect they connect, with a LD% of 22% this year and close to 20% for his career. He throws a lot of fastballs, a normal one around 92 and a cutter that's about 5 MPH slower. His cutter is good though his best pitch is probably his curveball, which he throws fairly often (15%), and he'll mix in the occasional change.  In his last two starts against the Jays and Yankees (since that first bit was written) Hunter gave up 11 runs, 9 earned, in 12.2 innings. Yunel was 4/5, and Brett Lawrie and Kelly Johnson both had three hits.

Otherwise, Jose Bautista has been decisively passed in the WAR war by Jacoby Ellsbury. Over the last 14 games Bautista is hitting below .200 with a .730 OPS - he's still walked and homered. But realistically to have a shot he has to be way better than everyone else, so he pretty much has to fugue if he wants to take home some hardware. The error bars on UZR are high enough that I think you could make a decent argument for Bautista as being the best player, in baseball, but at this point there is no reason to expect him to win the MVP award, or even finish second say. The momentum behind Verlander seems to be getting pretty huge, and Dustin Pedroia is 0 for this week (nicely coinciding with the BBFL playoffs; thanks Dustin) so it no longer appears likely that there will be a split in the Red Sox vote, assuming Adrian Gonzalez doesn't get a bunch of votes for some random reason.

Brett Lawrie is I believe basically leading baseball in a lot of things since his callup; his slash line now sits at .330/.403/.678, and his wRC is 202. Despite having 129 plate appearances he is fourth amongst rookie hitters in WAR, and the way things are going he could end up first pretty easily; he's at 2.4 and the leaders are at 3.0. I wonder what happens if he leads all rookies in just about everything but only ends up with 200 superlative plate appearances. I highly doubt he would get it, nor am I sure he would deserve it, but it is an interesting thought experiment. If he hadn't broken his hand... Also just for fun, if you sort of pro-rate Lawrie's season so far he ends up north of 10 WAR. He's probably not that good, because only Barry Bonds has been that good anytime lately, but it's 33 games and 129 PA so it's not like that's nothing. Oh, and he's 21, and it looks, at least to me, like he could stick at third. Yes please.

In other news, the Orioles will probably run out a lineup that looks something like this, if you care:

J. Hardy, SS
N. Markakis, RF
A. Jones, CF
V. Guerrero, DH
M. Wieters, C
M. Reynolds, 1B
N. Reimold, LF
C. Davis, 3B
R. Andino, 2B

Infirmary: Jake Arrieta and Luke Scott are dunzo, as is Brian Roberts in all likelihood (for the year, not forever.) Chris Davis, and Cesar Izturis may make it back at some point.

Credit: Stats from Fangraphs, BaseballReference and Yahoo.

Chart: No chart today; I'm on a train, plus it's essentially the same as from two series ago, and McGowan and VandenHurk don't have ML numbers anyway. So use your imagination!

Advance Scout: Baltimore Orioles, September 9-11 | 105 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Ron - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 01:39 PM EDT (#243508) #
The HR's have dried up for Bautista after he performed in the HR Derby. He has hit poorly at home ever since the ESPN Cheating story came out. I wonder if there's any correlation between these events.
Zao - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 01:55 PM EDT (#243513) #
Maybe, but his worst month for HR was actually in June, so you could say his HR's dried up before the HR Derby.

Also, his home and road stats for the season are almost identical now. It could just be a natural evening out of the stats which were a relatively small sample size at the time of the article.
Mick Doherty - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 01:58 PM EDT (#243514) #

Dude has 40 homers with three weeks left in the season, which leads all of Major League Baseball. Give me "dried up" stats like that for any season, any time!


jester00 - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 02:08 PM EDT (#243516) #
Lets also keep in mind that Joey has done what he has done this year with essentially zero protection for the most part.  Put a big bat behind him next year and his numbers will go boom.  To me right now, he looks like he is getting frustrated at being pitched around and is beginning to chase stuff which is messing with his swing.  He's trying too hard to get big hits because he's tired of being walked and stranded.  All imho.
John Northey - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 02:12 PM EDT (#243517) #
Checking Baseball Reference for sOPS+ (OPS+ vs league by month)

April: 266 (Only Bonds has had one this high for a season)
May: 252 (add in Dunlap & Ruth)
June: 138 (22nd best season for a Blue Jay ever)
July: 194 (71st best full-season OPS+ season ever)
August: 175 (254th best full-season OPS+ season ever)
September: 78 (8 games)

Remember, last year's amazing season he had a 164 OPS+. He has outdone that in 4 of 5 full months this year. He had 3 months in the 210's last year, 1 at 160, 1 at 100 (April) and 1 at 90 (June). Guess June's suck for the power Bautista.

Btw, his current 185 is only 2nd best ever for a Jay. John Olerud's 1993 was 186. Yeah, that was a good year.
Paul D - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 02:28 PM EDT (#243519) #

I don't think that protection would make the slightest difference to how Bautista performs.  In general it doesnt' make much difference, and his numbers can't really go 'boom', because they're already there.

Mike Green - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 02:40 PM EDT (#243521) #
A player nicknamed Joey Bats needing protection?  Fuhgeddaboutit. 
jester00 - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 02:44 PM EDT (#243522) #
I disagree that protection doesn't make a difference.  Therefore I'm really hoping AA makes a play for Fielder so we can find out next year!!
MatO - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 02:56 PM EDT (#243524) #

Bautista missed a game a couple of weeks ago with a stiff neck.  I wonder if it's the same problem he had earlier in the season that cost him a few games and maybe he's been playing a bit hurt since then.

Alvarez was touted as throwing mid-to-high 90's but in his last game he seemed to be in the low 90's most of the time.  I suspect he gets more movement on his fastball when he doesn't throw as hard.

Man is Lawrie locked in.  Even his 2 outs last night were loud.

hypobole - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 03:02 PM EDT (#243526) #
It may be me, but Jose's swing seems a bit longer and slower at times lately. Maybe it's from trying to adjust to the steady diet of breaking balls a lot of teams are feeding him, but his bat just doesn't seem as quick as it looked earlier this year.
Mike Green - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 03:15 PM EDT (#243527) #
Alvarez was at 94-95 on the stadium gun early and 92-93 later in the game.  Maybe the minor league guns are a little hot.
Magpie - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 03:29 PM EDT (#243529) #
Jose Bautista has been decisively passed in the WAR war by Jacoby Ellsbury.

Do people actually use something as crude and ill-suited for the task as WAR when comparing two players? Seriously?
John Northey - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 03:43 PM EDT (#243530) #
I doubt anyone takes WAR that seriously. I use it as a rough tool, since few tools exist that are good for mixing/matching hitters/pitchers that are publicly available.

As to the WAR race, Jacoby Ellsbury is listed at 6.8 WAR (0.7 WAR via D) at B-R vs Bautista's 8.0 (0.6 WAR via D) and the ML leader is Matt Kemp at 8.6 (1 WAR via D). FanGraphs has Ellsbury at 8.2 (1.6 via defense), Bautista at 7.9 (a tiny bit below 0 on defense), and Kemp at 6th with a 6.8 (1/2 a win below 0 on defense).

Defense makes a major difference here with a win and a half difference for Kemp depending on the method you use (assuming I read everything right).
uglyone - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 03:55 PM EDT (#243531) #
According to fangraphs, alvarez is averaging 93.4mph on his fastball so far, which ties him for 18th amongst all mlb starters this year qualified or unqualified.
Jonny German - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 03:57 PM EDT (#243532) #
Is WAR the new RBI?
hypobole - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 03:59 PM EDT (#243533) #
Magpie, WAR may be crude, but it is one of the better metrics to compare players, especially hitters. On the other hand  Ellsbury has barely (a margin of error lead can't be labelled decisively) passed Jose on FanGraphs WAR, but Jose has a decisive edge on BBR WAR.
Mike Green - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 04:09 PM EDT (#243534) #
The WAR measures for Ellsbury vs. Bautista, if broken down, do clarify what the issues are if you were actually going to evaluate which player did the most to help his team win.  Here's how Fangraphs has it:

Player Batting Baserunning Defence Replacement Positional
Bautista 59.2 3.5 -2.1 19.2 -4.8
Ellsbury 38.5 2.0 15.8 21.3 1.7

The batting, baserunning and defence figures are runs above average.  Ellsbury has played more, so he gets a couple of extra runs for the difference between average and replacement, and he plays center instead of right; and he gets 6.5 runs for that. 

The big item is, as Anders noted, evaluations of Ellsbury's defence. For WAR purposes, Fangraphs uses 1 year UZR.  DRS also likes him very much this year, but it is likely a fairer figure is in the 9-12 range.  What that tells you is that Bautista and Ellsbury are likely in the same range and one could plausibly vote for either of them on the basis of what each has done to help his team win.  If you want to say that the range for Ellsbury's defence is 5-15, you won't get an argument from me.  It still leaves the issue as a tossup, as far as I am concerned.
gabrielthursday - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 04:11 PM EDT (#243535) #
Regarding Lawrie, I think we can look forward to a bump in his dWAR whenever UZR updates, as his DRS is at +8 now, while he's only at 2 UZR.  For Rookie of the Year, I think it's really stupid to limit the "real" qualifiers to those with 2/3 of a season.  If the guys who have been up all season can't deliver superior overall value, they don't deserve the prize.  Regression happens to most hot starts, but if you can add on 2-3 months of replacement production to a player's line, and he's still more valuable, then he has earned the prize.

Not all rookies get called up early in the year, but they only get one shot at the ROY.  They already have the challenge of not having the playing time, to exclude them on an arbitrary basis is simply unfair.
gabrielthursday - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 04:24 PM EDT (#243536) #
Regarding Ellsbury v. Bautista, we should also note that Bautista is +4 according to DRS.  That would be a shift of 0.6 WAR in itself.  One could also argue that Bautista provides additional value in having played 2 positions, allowing the Jays to optimize their lineup when we lacked a 3B.
dan gordon - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 04:33 PM EDT (#243537) #

I think it's great that the Jays are going to have McGowan start on Sunday.  I speculated that they might move him into the rotation after one more Perez stinker, but they didn't even wait that long.  He's a guy who could make a big difference next year.

Bill James did a lot of work on the old baseball idea of "protection" for hitters.  He concluded that it doesn't exist.  He looked at a lot of guys' stats with or without a really good hitter after him in the batting order, and he said there is no difference in performance.  His most famous example was Dale Murphy and Bob Horner with the Atlanta Braves from about 1978 to 1986.  It was a great example because they both played for the Braves for a long time, and when they were both in the lineup, Horner always hit right after Murphy.  Horner was often injured, so there was a very big sample size of Murphy at bats with and without Horner hitting right behind him.  When Horner wasn't in the lineup, there were a collection of dramatically weaker hitters hitting behind Murphy.  James found that there was no statistically significant difference in Murphy's performance with or without Horner hitting behnd him.  What difference there was actually saw Murphy hitting very slightly better without Horner.  James' comment on the whole "protection" idea was that if there is an elephant in the room, you can see signs of it.  If the idea of "protection" was true, there would be considerable evidence that it exists, and he found none, relegating it with other old baseball saws like the "rising" fastball, the thrown ball "accelerating" when bounced on artificial turf, and many others.

Spifficus - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 04:36 PM EDT (#243538) #
Been a couple days since I read it, but that article was a sham, with a nugget or two of half-interesting stuff interspersed with a whole bunch of baseless conjecture and displays of how little the author actually understood either implementation of WAR (see Lee vs Tulo for the best example). All this wrapped in a bow of trying to be "provocative".
John Northey - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 04:43 PM EDT (#243539) #
Lawrie has up to 18 games left. Assume 4 PA per game and you get 72 more PA, pushing him to around 200. It would be very hard to win rookie of the year with that small a sample.

For 100+ PA Lawrie leads all rookies in the AL in OPS (1.081), Avg (330), OBP (403), and Slg (678 - next is at 544). He is 7th in HR (could get up to 4th), and his 6-0 for SB-CS doesn't hurt either.

For guys with 400+ PA (thus a 'full season') you have just 3 players - Trumbo (256/295/481 26 HR to lead rookies and 80 RBIs to lead rookies), Hosmer (285/334/457) and Arencibia (221/281/454).

For guys between 250 and 400 PA (thus able to reach 300 PA) you get Revere (251/297/286), Morel (258/283/348), Weeks (303/342/415), Thames (266/313/468), Moustakas (227/279/281), Nunez (262/308/375), Nunez (262/308/375), Ackley (298/375/468 over 265 PA), and Hughes (240/310/372).

In the Lawrie region you also have Desmond Jennings hitting 302/392/544 in LF but I doubt he'll beat Lawrie with lower stats and an easier defensive position.

Of all of those guys only Ackley (2B), Trumbo (1B) and Hosmer (1B) catch me as possible winners.

However, Lawrie doesn't just have to be the best hitter. He also has to beat the pitchers and I don't think he'll do that.

Jeremy Hellickson has a nice 2.90 ERA to go with a 12-10 record (dead on 45 days of service pre-2011, the limit to be a rookie) for Tampa and I'd figure it is his to lose. Jordan Walden should crack 30 saves by seasons end (2.55 ERA) which would help his case (oooh...shiny saves!). Ivan Nova has the NY media all over him due to his pretty 15-4 record (3.94 ERA) but he isn't a rookie (6 days too much ML service time). Greg Holland isn't a rookie either (over 60 days of experience).

So I'd say it will probably be...
Hellickson, Trumbo (HR/RBI), then Lawrie. If Lawrie gets super-hot and hits another 10 HR or something then he'll probably pull it off, but that hand injury probably cost him the award.
Mick Doherty - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 04:50 PM EDT (#243541) #

Willie McCovey, 1969 NL Rookie of the Year ... 52 games, 209 plate appeaerances.(192 AB) ... so there is an exception to every rule.

Now, I don't think Lawrie will (or should) win, just that it's not unheard of. I also don't think he's likely to be Willie McCovey in the long term, either, but there's time to watch for that.

hypobole - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 05:22 PM EDT (#243542) #
John, where do you get Nova's service time #s - He was up for 7 days last May and 10 days last August, well within the "45 days before Sept 1" rule
Mike Green - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 05:29 PM EDT (#243543) #
Good point, Mick.  You are absolutely right.  Lawrie is starting off more like a faster Eddie Mathews than like Willie McCovey. 
There are 15 twenty-one year olds in major league history who have put up an OPS+ of 150 or higher (Lawrie's presently is at 186) in 100 PAs or more; they are Willie McCovey, Stan Musial, Brett Lawrie, Rogers Hornsby, Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Hal Trosky, Albert Pujols, Eddie Mathews, Ken Griffey Jr., Sam Crawford, and Cesar Cedeno.  Everyone other than McCovey did play a full season.  Still.

PeteMoss - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 05:33 PM EDT (#243544) #
The main problem with WAR is the defensive stats. I don't think they are anywhere near reliable enough yet to use to evaluate guys.
Thomas - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 05:49 PM EDT (#243545) #
John, Nova qualifies as a rookie, I believe. I think you must have miscalculated something.
Thomas - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 05:52 PM EDT (#243547) #

(I didn't realize that hypobole had already caught the mistake. Sorry for the duplication.)

Willie McCovey, Stan Musial, Brett Lawrie, Rogers Hornsby, Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Hal Trosky, Albert Pujols, Eddie Mathews, Ken Griffey Jr., Sam Crawford, and Cesar Cedeno

That is a pretty good club to be a part of. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

ayjackson - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 05:53 PM EDT (#243548) #

The main problem with WAR is the defensive stats. I don't think they are anywhere near reliable enough yet to use to evaluate guys.

It's pretty easy to notionally adjust for the defense.  I like to look at three years of defensive data and substitute that into an estimate of fWAR.

Chuck - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 06:00 PM EDT (#243549) #

Been a couple days since I read it, but that article was a sham,

I am presuming you are referring to the "WAR is new RBI" nonsense. I agree. It was self-satisfied, smug, intellectually dishonest crapola, dressed up as enlightened and insightful.

Even the title of the essay is a problem.

The RBI is an irrefutable statistic insofar as it is simply a count of what happened. Its merits are certainly debatable, especially since it is almost always presented as a tally and not a rate, where at least it would be contextualized with a denominator representing opportunities.

But WAR is not a cold hard tally of what happened. Quite the contrary. It is the result of mathematical models that attempt to measure both offensive and defensive contribution and combine these into one number. Its controversy stems not from lack of contextualization (as is the case with RBIs) but from the large error bars that are associated with its defensive component. The idea of WAR is admirable. It's reliability is where the problem lies. Anyone quoting WAR with decimal places is ascribing to it a level of accuracy it does not deserve.

uglyone - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 06:12 PM EDT (#243550) #
Lawrie's so damn good that we don't even notice what another of our 21 year old rookies is doing. Not quite as impressive as Lawrie, but pretty dang impressive.

SP Alvarez (21): 6gs, 6.1ip/gs, 1-2, 6.1k/9, 4.2k/bb, 1.04whip, 2.95era
SP Hellickson (24): 25gs, 6.6ip/gs, 12-10, 5.9k/9, 1.9k/bb, 1.13whip, 2.90era
SP Moscoso (27): 18gs, 6.0ip/gs, 8-8, 5.1k/9, 1.8k/bb, 1.14whip, 3.34era
SP Cobb (23): 9gs, 5.9ip/gs, 3-2, 6.3k/9, 1.8k/bb, 1.33whip, 3.42era
SP Pineda (22): 26gs, 6.1ip/gs, 9-9, 9.2k/9, 3.1k/bb, 1.09whip, 3.74era
SP Nova (24): 24gs, 6.0ip/gs, 15-4, 5.4k/9, 1.7k/bb, 1.35whip, 3.94era
Chuck - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 06:20 PM EDT (#243551) #

we don't even notice what another of our 21 year old rookies is doing.

Alvarez has been impressive, to be sure, especially given his age. But is worth noting that in his 6 starts, he has faced (with their ranking in AL offense shown in brackets):

OAK (12)
SEA (14)
OAK (12)
TB (8)
BAL (7)
BOS (2)

uglyone - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 06:26 PM EDT (#243552) #
funny enough, his only really BAD start came against that 14th ranked SEA offense (5.0ip/7.20era), while his two best starts came against the two highest ranked offenses he's faced in BAL (8.0ip/0.00era) and BOS (6.0ip/0.00era).

Beyond the numbers, though, can anyone remember another jays youngster who ever demonstrated this kind of stuff (and HEAT) combined with this kind of command, especially at this young of an age? I'm trying to think of some but I can't even think of one. I think of young guys with the killer stuff like Guzman and League who came up, but they never had this kind of command...not even really close. Even guys like Roy, carpenter, and escobar had serious control problems when they were younger.
Mike Green - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 06:34 PM EDT (#243554) #
 Alvarez has command in both senses: control of the strike zone, and composure and pace on the mound.  Very exciting pitcher to watch develop.
hypobole - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 06:38 PM EDT (#243555) #
Is there another team with 2  players 21 or under who have  played as well as Lawrie and Alvarez have with the Jays?
Mylegacy - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 07:42 PM EDT (#243558) #
Speaking of Alvarez - Anyone else remember Juan Guzman when he came up? I remember the catcher ordering him - to throw it down the middle - because his stuff was so electric it moved all over the place.

His stuff was SO GOOD (how GOOD was it?) - It was SO GOOD I used to be really surprised when they could actually get back to back hits off him. What a joy to watch.
Alex Obal - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 07:54 PM EDT (#243559) #
Bautista also deserves credit for hitting so well with a weak lineup around him for much of the year. I don't mean protection in the strict sense - Boston's ridiculous lineup forces opposing pitchers to face more batters, and to throw more pitches per batter. It follows that anyone in their lineup will have faced (a) more tired starters, and (b) more low-leverage relievers, than they would have if they played for Oakland.
Alex Obal - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 07:58 PM EDT (#243560) #
I thought the anti-WAR article was unconvincing, and this is coming from one of the more obnoxious WAR critics here. At least the analogies were cute. My objections to WAR are largely aesthetic. I liked it better when it was called VORP and nobody took it seriously.
Alex Obal - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 08:07 PM EDT (#243561) #
One more. Who was the last Jay whose fastball had enough movement to be a strike-to-ball, swing-and-a-miss pitch all by itself? Guzman?
Anders - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 08:22 PM EDT (#243562) #
I didn't mean to suggest that WAR is the be all and end all, just that people use it to measure MVP candidates, and for the first time this season basically Bautista isn't lapping the league in fWAR.

It seems to me that Bautista's MVP candidacy relies on him being so much better than everyone else, as he isn't going to get the playoff bonus or the intangibles bonus that Granderson/Ellsbury/Gonzalez/Pedroia and Verlander are going to get. He basically has to be way better than everyone else and hope enough of those folks split votes. I am reasonably confident Bautista is the best player in the American League, however one would want to measure it.

Chuck - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 08:45 PM EDT (#243566) #
My objections to WAR are largely aesthetic. I liked it better when it was called VORP and nobody took it seriously.

Funny, while WAR is not without its problems, I find it to be very pleasing aesthetically. So-and-so is a 6-win player. So-and-so is a 4-win player. It's easy to understand using a meaningful unit value.

VORP only measures offense. WAR attempts to measure both offense and defense.
Jonny German - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 09:32 PM EDT (#243571) #
Maybe I should have taken the time to say that I don't fully agree with that article, it definitely exaggerates WAR's issues. But WAR does have major issues.

Not surprisingly I'm in the "WAR is aesthetically ugly" camp. Wins are a nice concept, but totally abstract. Hyperbolic accounts & descriptions aside, there ain't never been a player who won a game all by himself. Even more of a problem for me, WAR is 90% secret sauce. You can't estimate it by looking at the base numbers and there's no consensus on how to calculate it.
Alex Obal - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 09:33 PM EDT (#243572) #
Superficially, yeah. It's all the same - only the names have changed. VORP amalgamated as many fashionable stats as possible into one Authoritative Number. WAR does the same thing. It is probably less inaccurate than VORP as a supertheory of supereverything. The tradeoff is that it's more pervasive and more trusted, hence more annoying.

I think the meaningful unit value is the change that annoys me the most. In a way, it bestows extra authority on the stat. "20-game winner" implies an aura of fog. Ditto ".300 hitter," I think. Even "42.8 VORP" does, because what the hell is a VORP? It sounds like science fiction and Strat-O-Matic. "Six-win player" doesn't. It implies fatalism, which I guess is funny in a backwards way.

And it's totally boring to talk in those terms. Shaun Marcum is a short, short-striding, short-arming pitcher with excellent command and control and a filthy changeup. He's vulnerable to the longball, and despite his efficiency he will never be a bullpen-saving workhorse. He's a quick, competent fielder, and (I think?) a leader figure. I suppose he's also a 3.5-WAR player, roughly, give or take 1.5 WAR. But looking backward, what does that tell you about Marcum beyond the constants it implies? Looking forward, when the error bars are so big, who cares? It's a copout to say WAR is a conversation starter. It mostly starts conversations about WAR.
John Northey - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 10:20 PM EDT (#243578) #
Got Novas days of service from Cot's Contracts Yankee page.
Matthew E - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 11:39 PM EDT (#243582) #
Anyone else remember Juan Guzman when he came up?

I remember. I remember in the 1992 World Series, Game 6, all the heroics going on with Nixon's base hit off Henke, and Winfield's double, and the Braves almost tied it up...

The whole time I was thinking to myself, "It doesn't even matter if the Braves win this game, because they'll never beat Guzman tomorrow."
Mike Green - Friday, September 09 2011 @ 11:58 PM EDT (#243584) #
What WAR does fairly well is to weight the various parts of the game roughly accurately.

On the radio a few nights ago, Alan Ashby was saying, "I know that there are people who disagree, but I think that slugging percentage is more important than on-base's driving in runs that is important". And Ashby is fairly knowledgeable about the game.

You certainly don't need to have a single all-encompassing number to understand the relationships between the different elements of the game (and it doesn't help at all in this if there aren't constant reminders of the process and the sources of error). It is a useful tool though, even if it isn't pretty.
John Northey - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 12:10 AM EDT (#243585) #
Hypobole - checking Baseball Reference (in addition to Cot's) I see Nova pitched in 2010 on May 13 & 16 (thus up for at least 4 days) and on August 23rd, 29th, and a batch of games in September & October. That adds 42 more days minimum. Thus no matter what Nova had to be up for 46 days in 2010 thus past the 45 day limit. Unless September call-up time doesn't count of course. Checking the official rules it turns out September time does NOT count, thus even though Nova has been up for too many days it doesn't matter since most of those were in September.

Weird how those rules work eh? A guy who was up for too long last year, and who almost cracked the magic 50 IP (42 total) gets to count as a rookie.
hypobole - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 01:00 AM EDT (#243587) #

Having Mark Teahen pinch hit reminds me of Monty Burns "playing the percentages"

The more I see of Kelly Johnson, the less I see him as someone we should resign.

Alex Obal - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 01:46 AM EDT (#243590) #
It is a useful tool though, even if it isn't pretty.

So it sorta guides people toward understanding who's good, at the cost of polluting fine baseball forums worldwide with misplaced conviction. Cost, benefit...

Brain teaser. Tropicana Field's 2011 and three-year park factors are both 91, lowest in the AL by far. How?
Spifficus - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 01:48 AM EDT (#243591) #
That misplaced conviction will be there with or without the existence of WAR. That's just the nature of fanaticism.
Alex Obal - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 02:27 AM EDT (#243594) #
I mean the shared conviction that we have a precise and accurate handle on players' true talent levels, measured on a universally understood scale. That slows the path to enlightenment. I think the uncertainty implied in not using a consensus catchall stat is healthy - it bespeaks a respect for the fog. Whether I think WAR is accurate is a separate issue. The conviction would be misplaced either way, of course, unless all you want to do is predict the past...
Spifficus - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 02:47 AM EDT (#243595) #
But war isn't a predictive stat, but an approximation of value of what was done. Sure there's a correlation with what will come (it usually takes a talented player to post a 5WAR, which bodes well for his ability to post a high war in the future), but it is not a predictivemeasurement. If people want to use it for predictive (as opposed to descriptive) purposes, how is it different from misusing another stat? It's not WARs faultpeople use it wron, just like 30 years ago, it wasn't the RBIs fault it was grossly misused.the stats are what they are, with their own uses... If people misuse them, the 'analyst' is to blame.

As for future enlightenment, don't fall for the "everything that can be invented has been invented," myth. Just because the masses are on WAR now doesn't mean work has stagnated (or that WAR itself won't continue to be refined). Heck, the various fx's are going to guarantee innovation for a decade.
Alex Obal - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 04:09 AM EDT (#243596) #
All of this is true, but none of what bothers me is WAR's 'fault' in that sense. The problem is (what I perceive as, maybe wrongly) its impact on the way we talk about baseball. It tempts us to become reductionist and lazy and boring, and it doesn't provide nearly enough insight to compensate for that. I might still feel this way even if WAR were 100% accurate and did, in fact, let you compare apples to oranges perfectly. As a descriptive stat, properly used, its value is very limited. It does give you the fuzzy bird's eye view of the league, which is nice for historical purposes I suppose, but beyond that it tells you nothing you don't already know, except constants. As a predictive stat, it's nothing. So why is it so popular?
Flex - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 10:02 AM EDT (#243598) #
The more I see of Kelly Johnson, the less I see him as someone we should resign.

I'm with you, hypobole. I'd rather grimace through the at bats of someone I have affection for and history with, who's giving it his all, than someone who looks as, frankly, pouty as Kelly Johnson. He had a few nice games, but the rose is losing its bloom.
Jonny German - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 10:06 AM EDT (#243599) #
It is a useful tool though, even if it isn't pretty.

A sledge hammer is a useful tool in demolition, but is rarely used in cabinet making. WAR is a similarly blunt tool yet is often used in discussing topics far beyond its eloquence.
raptorsaddict - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 10:52 AM EDT (#243602) #
This quote is just one of many, many reasons I come to BB. And, frankly, I could have used another dozen or so quotes from these comments alone. A fantastic level of discourse for those of us who operate at the "intermediate" level of statistical understanding - we know what (most of them) are, have a relatively solid idea of what a "good" WAR/FIP/OPS+/etc. number looks like. Reading this, I (along with many others) now have a much better understanding of what WAR is, so, thanks for the free knowledge!
bball12 - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 11:00 AM EDT (#243603) #
Agree with that sentiment. This is really excellent information and perspectives.

hypobole - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 12:10 PM EDT (#243605) #
I have to disagree with the sledgehammer analogy. In my mind, WAR is more of a multi-bit screwdriver, or a swiss army knife . They combine many components into a useful tool, even though they both have limitations. But if you have many different jobs to do (or are comparing many different types of players)  and are using only one tool, they may be the handiest tools you can have.
Thomas - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 12:20 PM EDT (#243608) #
...and are using only one tool, they may be the handiest tools you can have.

But, why are we using one tool? What is forcing us to use one tool? What benefit do we gain from reducing our analysis and terms of reference to one number? As Alex said above, Toronto fans watched Shaun Marcum pitch for three and a half years. We know what sort of pitcher he is and have some idea of his strengths and weaknesses. We can look up his ERA, FIP, xFIP, BB, K, inherited runners scored, strand rate, etc...

What do we gain from saying Marcum has a 2.8 WAR (on Fangraphs)? Perhaps if I have one minute to answer the question of who has been better in 2011, Marcum or Yovani Gallardo, I could compare that number to Gallardo's 2.4 WAR. But, for many of us, that's only incrementally better than comparing them by looking at Gallardo's 3.74 ERA and Marcum's 3.25 ERA.

Mike Green - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 12:27 PM EDT (#243610) #
Let me give an example where WAR is helpful. If one is voting for the Hall of Fame and one has to choose between Tim Raines and Jim Rice, the descriptive process does not really help you. Each player was better at some aspects of the game (with Raines being better at more of them of course). "Respecting the fog" in this case leads you astray. There is actually a right answer to this question.

WAR will tell you that Rice was worth somewhere between 40 and 45 wins over his career while Raines was worth between 60 and 70, and that even with WAR's wide error bar (which is actually lower on a percentage basis over a career), it does help with the understanding of the objective gap between the two players.
uglyone - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 12:33 PM EDT (#243612) #
I think we definitely would love to have a single number with which to judge a player's value.

I have no problem with the philosophy behind WAR, only with the way it's created.

For offensive players, the defense portion is far too unreliable to be confident in, and for pitchers, neither fangraphs' or BR's pitchers war are based on proven or reliable metrics, and both fail to pass the smell test far too often for my liking.

I love the idea of WAR, but the component numbers being used for much of it are just not good enough right now, IMO.

Personally, I just don't bother using pitcher's WAR ever. For hitters I'll use it, but any time I see an extreme defensive number (in either direction) I'll take it with heaps of salt.
Mike Green - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 12:41 PM EDT (#243613) #
Mark Teahen DHing and batting 5th today, with Cooper and Encarnacion on the bench and Lind at fist.

Teahen is 2-4 with a walk in his career against Vanden Hurk, including 2-2 last year. I guess that makes it a clear case for going with the batter who owns a pitcher.

This is what happens when a GM doesn't take the bull by the horns.
uglyone - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 12:42 PM EDT (#243614) #
I will not say anything about John Farrell.

I will not say anything about John Farrell.
Alex Obal - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 01:02 PM EDT (#243615) #
That is a puzzler. I guess Juan Rivera takes many forms.

Here's another example of what WAR's good for:

In the big picture, it has its little uses.
uglyone - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 01:12 PM EDT (#243616) #
Following up on the ROY I wrong in saying that this is the best Jays' rookie class ever?

3B B.Lawrie (21): 117ab, 8hr, 21rbi, 6/6sb, .325/.402/.667/1.068
LF E.Thames (24): 296ab, 10hr, 32rbi, 2/2sb, .264/.313/.463/.775
C J.Arencibia (25): 393ab, 22hr, 71rbi, 1/1sb, .219/.279/.450/.729
1B D.Cooper (24): 38ab, 1hr, 7rbi, 0/0sb, .184/.283/.342/.625

SP H.Alvarez (21): 36.2ip, 1-2, 6.2k/9, 4.2k/bb, 1.04whip, 2.95era
SP K.Drabek (23): 73.2ip, 4-5, 5.9k/9, 0.9k/bb, 1.76whip, 5.62era

RP J.Carreno (24): 9.0ip, 0sv, 0hld, 7.0k/9, 2.3k/bb, 1.22whip, 1.00era
RP L.Perez (26): 62.1ip, 0svs, 4hld, 7.5k/9, 2.0k/bb, 1.51whip, 4.76era

Matthew E - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 01:46 PM EDT (#243617) #
Too early to tell about this year's group, but what about the 1980 Jays, where Ernie Whitt, Damaso Garcia, Garth Iorg, Luis Leal, and Lloyd Moseby were rookies?
Thomas - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 01:55 PM EDT (#243618) #
Let me give an example where WAR is helpful.

I agree that WAR has its uses. If I did, didn't mean to imply it was completely useless. However, I don't find it particularly informative in analyzing players currently, at least in comparison to the wealth of stats, event descriptions and scouting reports currently available.

Arguing that small differences in WAR are particularly informative in telling us who has been the better player is problematic. If you've read some of Dave Cameron's trade proposals and analysis for his Mariners website, you'll have seen WAR near its worst.

bball12 - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 01:57 PM EDT (#243619) #
The Teahan thing - I don't get it - bu then again I don't get any of the bench/ 4-5th OF stuff at this point.
Looking back at the last 10 games - the Wise-McCoy-Teahan numbers are beyond dreadful.

A  160 BA
OBP at  220
5 walks and 25 K's

I understand you don't expect much from this slot - and it doesn't matter all that much now anyway  - but my goodness - at least make contact with the ball.

At this point - I am not even asking for hits or walks - just some contact.
I don't think that is asking too much .

My guess is that they are really missing Davis at this point as I am sure he would be doing better than this.

uglyone - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 02:04 PM EDT (#243620) #
let me add the + stats:

3B B.Lawrie (21): 117ab, 8hr, 21rbi, 6/6sb, .325/.402/.667/1.068, 183ops+
LF E.Thames (24): 296ab, 10hr, 32rbi, 2/2sb, .264/.313/.463/.775, 106ops+
C J.Arencibia (25): 393ab, 22hr, 71rbi, 1/1sb, .219/.279/.450/.729, 93ops+
1B D.Cooper (24): 38ab, 1hr, 7rbi, 0/0sb, .184/.283/.342/.625, 68ops+

SP H.Alvarez (21): 36.2ip, 1-2, 6.2k/9, 4.2k/bb, 1.04whip, 2.95era, 146era+
SP K.Drabek (23): 73.2ip, 4-5, 5.9k/9, 0.9k/bb, 1.76whip, 5.62era, 76era+

RP J.Carreno (24): 9.0ip, 0sv, 0hld, 7.0k/9, 2.3k/bb, 1.22whip, 1.00era, 442era+
RP L.Perez (26): 62.1ip, 0svs, 4hld, 7.5k/9, 2.0k/bb, 1.51whip, 4.76era, 90era+

I guess the 2002 class was pretty impressive, too, though they were older overall:

DH J.Phelps (24): 265ab, 15hr, 58rbi, 0/0sb, .309/.362/.562/.925, 138ops+
3B E.Hinske (24): 566ab, 24hr, 84rbi, 13/14sb, .279/.365/.481/.845, 119ops+
2B O.Hudson (24): 192ab, 4hr, 23rbi, 0/1sb, .276/.319/.443/.762, 97ops+
OF J.Werth (23): 46ab, 0hr, 6rbi, 1/1sb, .261/.340/.348/.687, 81ops+

SP J.Miller (24): 102.1ip, 9-5, 6.0k/9, 1.0k/bb, 1.65whip, 5.54era, 84era+

RP M.Hendrickson (28): 36.2ip, 0svs, 0hld, 5.2k/9, 1.8k/bb, 1.01whip, 2.45era, 191era+
RP C.Thurman (23): 68.0ip, 0svs, 0hld, 7.4k/9, 1.2k/bb, 1.62whip, 4.37era, 107era+
RP S.Cassidy (26): 66.0ip, 0svs, 0hld, 6.5k/9, 1.5k/bb, 1.27whip, 5.73era, 82era+
Alex Obal - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 02:06 PM EDT (#243621) #
Lawrie is starting to convince me all by himself...
Mike D - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 02:37 PM EDT (#243622) #
Encarnacion on the bench

To be fair, I assume that his wrist injury from last night is still causing him pain.  Having said that, (a) Teahen (b) hitting fifth and (c) not being lifted when a lefty entered...not good.

Glevin - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 05:29 PM EDT (#243627) #
"For offensive players, the defense portion is far too unreliable to be confident in..."

I generally hate when people use WAR for this reason. I'd much rather them say "His OBP and SLG were this and he was a great defensive player." Defensive WAR is just terrible. Somehow, Carlos Lee has become an elite defender this year. Corey Patterson is one of the best defensive players in baseball. ALex Avila is worth less defensively than Mike Napoli. If you combine excellent stats with deeply flawed stats, you get deeply flawed stats.
hypobole - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 06:45 PM EDT (#243628) #

 Defensive WAR is just terrible. ....Corey Patterson is one of the best defensive players in baseball.

The old defensive metric (and still used by some) is Fielding Percentage. To an outsider who never saw Patterson play with the Jays, he was perfect, as he was not charged with a single error his entire time with Toronto. However, despite this perfection, UZR says Corey was a -0.6 defender with the Jays.  You may argue, and I would totally agree, he was far worse than that, but UZR did not show him to be one of the best defensive players in baseball. However if you are talking about the positive numbers he has from the 18 plays made as a Cardinal, you're being disingenuous, because I'm positive you are fully aware of the concept of small sample size. In fact 3 years worth of defensive stats is most commonly stated as required  to make a fairly accurate representation of a players defense.

Speaking of Patterson; 2 fielders converge on an easily catchable fly ball, then stand back and allow it to fall while the batter ends up safely at 2nd. Neither fielder is charged with an error. In fact, the batter is given credit for a double, which impacts both his OBP and SLG%. Do those now become flawed stats?


nikeno - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 06:53 PM EDT (#243629) #
Meanwhile, has anybody noticed that Aaron Hill is hitting .365 in his time with Arizona? It's only 16 games, but I can't recall any time in the last two years where he had a streak like that.
Magpie - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 06:59 PM EDT (#243630) #
Tropicana Field's 2011 and three-year park factors are both 91, lowest in the AL by far. How?

This is really interesting, to me anyway. You may recall that back in 2007, I did a massive bit of research on Home Field Advantage, and in the course of events gathered information on how each team had done in scoring and preventing runs at home and away. At that time (early 2007), the Trop in Tampa Bay ranked as the most neutral park in history for its effect on offense. Ever. Through 2006, the Rays had scored and allowed 7063 runs at home, 7072 at home. It doesn't get any more neutral than that. But in three of the five seasons since then, including this year, the Trop has depressed offense by... an order of magnitude! In 2007, they scored and allowed 98 more runs on the road; in 2010 they scored and allowed 161 more runs on the road; and in 2011 they've scored and allowed 106 more runs (and counting) on the road.

Anyone have a clue why this might be?
Jonny German - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 07:23 PM EDT (#243632) #
The old defensive metric (and still used by some) is Fielding Percentage. To an outsider who never saw Patterson play with the Jays, he was perfect, as he was not charged with a single error his entire time with Toronto.

Fielding Percentage is a lousy stat. This does not preclude single season UZR from being a lousy stat.

In fact 3 years worth of defensive stats is most commonly stated as required to make a fairly accurate representation of a players defense.

And seasonal WAR uses a single year of defensive stats. This is a problem.
Magpie - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 07:40 PM EDT (#243633) #
This is a problem.

I was wondering - what would we get if we just added up all the WARs? Presumably, the total should have some relation to... something, right?

Offensive WAR: AL 234.7, NL 238.5
Pitching WAR: AL 215.7, NL 207.4
Defensive WAR: AL 0.5, NL 4.5

The prevailing assumption is that replacement level players can all play major league quality defense? Because the guys who are actually playing don't seem to be bringing that much more to the table.
scottt - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 10:51 PM EDT (#243637) #
Anyone have a clue why this might be?

New Yankee Stadium?

Magpie - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 11:08 PM EDT (#243638) #
The phenomenenon is much too large to be explained by playing 9 or 10 games a year in New Yankee Stadium instead of in the old one. It's so large that it suggests that something has actually changed in Tampa, something I haven't heard about.

Parks do change. Fenway Park (originally a pitcher's park) was once the best hitter's park in the AL. By quite a margin, and for almost half a century - beginning with when they moved the bullpens out of foul territory and into a newly fenced off portion of the outfield.

And then, in the late 1980s, they built a new press box. And it all changed. Fenway is just another good hitter's park, but nothing very special. Whereas the park in Arlington is a historically great place to hit. It's pretty much the Coors Field of the AL. And Texas hitters collect MVPs the way Boston hitters used to collect batting titles...
John Northey - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 11:32 PM EDT (#243639) #
Well, when it comes to defense you never get guys who save 100 runs in a season but you certainly get hitters and pitchers who can. Heck, do you even get defense at the 50 run level?

Also, you accept guys who cannot field (we certainly have had our share here) if they can hit. But few guys get a full-time shot if they field but don't hit (McDonald would've been an all-star if defense and no bat was as valuable as offense but no defense).

That is how you end up with defensive WAR near 0 for the league as a whole.

Btw, to check I ran through a couple of the best ever for defense...
Ozzie Smith: peak 32 runs (FanGraphs) 32 (B-R) - both in 1989
Cal Ripken: both systems peak at 23
Willie Mays: 21 via both (1954)

The Total Zone Runs for fielding leaderboard is...
#1: Adam Everett (40)
#2: Darin Erstad (39)
#3: Jose Cruz Jr (38) - yes, the ex-Jay with the Giants

The highest pre-stat heaven years were...
#1: Barry Bonds (37 in 1989)
#2: Mark Belanger (35 in 1975)
#3: Brooks Robinson (33 in 1968)

Now, while I liked Cruz Jr at times I sure didn't see him as having the ability to have the 3rd most valuable defensive season ever. Devon White's peak is 32 in 1992 for comparison.

For a career Brooks Robinson is #1 with 293 saved, then Mark Belanger & Andruw Jones at 241 (I can buy it because young Jones was amazing out there). Next comes Ozzie Smith, Roberto Clemente, Barry Bonds (OK so far) then Carl Yaztzemski (?), Cal Ripen, Buddy Bell, and Paul Blair for the top 10. Willie Mays & I-Rod are next with Scott Rolen in the top 20.

There are issues, especially single season ones, but that top 12 makes a lot of sense except for Yaz but he was known to be excellent off the Green Monster so I guess it is possible (he would've been compared to other LF'ers and they tend to be poor as a rule so a good one could jump out ala Bonds).

Now, what about batting runs? Peak all time is 126 by Bonds. 11 times guys have cracked 100 (Bonds, Ruth, Gerhig & Williams). 50 would put you in a tie for 426th. They don't list it down to 40.

What about pitching? Pedro Martinez holds the post-deadball (1920 and beyond) record of 79 (2000 - 8th all time better than anyone since 1894). Clemens as a Jay held that record briefly (74 in 1997). 40 would put you in a tie for 333rd best season (Halladay 2002 is there, his 3rd best season by this measure).

I think that pretty much explains it. Measures used so far have shown no fielder EVER has been able to save enough runs to match the 332nd best pitching season or the 500th best offensive season. Kind of explains the lack of pure all-glove no-bat guys (IE: worse than McDonald with the bat but still having a job), at least to the degree that we get no glove, all-bat guys (Dunn for example, although now he is no bat, no glove).
Magpie - Saturday, September 10 2011 @ 11:57 PM EDT (#243640) #
It's still seems odd that essentially 99% of all the defensive value over replacement in the game is being provided by the pitchers. Seems a little high. I may want to explore this!

Carl Yastrzemski was a great defensive player with an outstanding throwing arm. He covered enough ground to a do a solid job in centre field for the Red Sox early in his career, and he probably would have been a Gold Glove winning right fielder if he'd come up in any other organization. It's actually kind of weird that the Red Sox immediately stuck him in left as a rookie, except Ted had just retired and this was the New Guy.
Paul D - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 12:19 AM EDT (#243641) #

DWAR is over average, not replacement.

Magpie - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 12:20 AM EDT (#243642) #
Or let's consider a team. The Angels players have combined for 37.9 WAR. The team had gone 78-65 heading into tonight's action (Jeff Mathis?!), so presumably the Replacements would have gone 48-103 (and if not, why not?). Of those extra 38 wins, just over half of it (19 or 50.1%) comes from the offense, and most of the rest (15.6 or 41.1%) comes from the pitchers. Their defense accounts for the rest (3.3 or 8.7%). Does that seem right?

I dunno. Well, there is a large ballpark effect at work here - their offense is nowhere near as bad as it looks, and their pitching and defense is nowhere near as good.

By the way - possibly my favourite TWEET of the year, from Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns. He's chatting with fans, explaining why he stopped playing for Canada's national team. This unfolded over four separate tweets...

The moments and memories I had playing for Canada are the best of my career. It wasn't an easy decision nor one I wanted to make, to stop playing for the national team but something had to give. I was 30, playing year round, carrying injuries into both seasons, and not enjoying playing hurt. I was asked to do a lot for the suns and after 13 years with the national team I felt I had to choose one or the other to prolong my career. And the NBA is my lively hood.

My lively hood! Genius! The NBA, one lively hood.
Magpie - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 12:23 AM EDT (#243643) #
DWAR is over average, not replacement.

Seriously? We'll compare your weight to the regular people, and we'll compare your height to the midgets? Seems kinda weird.
Magpie - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 12:35 AM EDT (#243644) #
the Replacements would have gone 48-103 (and if not, why not?)

Because the laws of arithmetic are not to be mocked, that's why not. It should have read 40-103, a nice .279 winning percentage for the Replacements. Is that what the Replacements winning pct. should have been, by the way?
AWeb - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 02:26 AM EDT (#243645) #
Anyone have a clue why this might be?

New Yankee Stadium?

On TV, Tampa has terrible lighting - I assume some of this carries over for the hitters (maybe they changed the hitters backdrop - that's caused big swings in other parks). The biggest difference is probably that around the 2007-2008 era, Tampa Bay finally was run by some competent people, and one of the main things they did was focus on defense. Specifically, they seem to have found the type of defenders that excel in that dome of theirs. Crawford was nortorious for having insanely good home defensive numbers and merely good ones on the road. The turf could also be good for certain types of players that they may have found. Great outfield defense is limited in several spots in the division, specifically Fenway in Left, NY and Baltimore in Right (short porches), whereas they get the advantages at home (and Toronto). Turf may favour their hitters more than grass as well; it's possible that the management has configured the team to take advantage of the park. Boston used to do this a lot (before the new press box changed the wind especially, I think) - Fenway wasn't just a great hitters park, Boston sought players who would exploit it even further. As I understand park factors, making a team better suited to its home park would make the park effects appear more extreme than they would for a "neutral" team.

AWeb - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 02:32 AM EDT (#243646) #
Seriously? We'll compare your weight to the regular people, and we'll compare your height to the midgets? Seems kinda weird.

Defense is compared to average because the assumption is that the minors have a lot of players capable of playing average defense. That is, if you need to replace a player based on defense alone, you will be able to find an average defender as easily as you could find a replacement-level hitter. Or to put it another way, the replacement level hitter you find is expected to be an average fielder. Mike McCoy is probably the best example possible for the current team - he's a good defender, and a bad hitter. And most teams have a guy like him kicking around in AAA/bench roles.
jgadfly - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 03:49 AM EDT (#243647) #
IF ... Escobar is injured why don't the Jays make Adeiny Hechavarria available to play in the  road games ?   That way he doesn't have to leave the USA and he gets some valuable experience.
TamRa - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 05:17 AM EDT (#243648) #
Well, if Esco were out for the season, that last six-game road trip might be a small window to do something like that, but there's only 2 other road games before that and those are too soon for that kind of decision.

I'd like to see it but i kind of doubt it.

greenfrog - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 08:49 AM EDT (#243649) #
Notes from around the majors:

- If Boston loses to TB today, the AL wild card race will get a lot more interesting. The AL West runner-up could also have a horse in that race if the Red Sox continue to stumble.

- Speaking of which, the AL West race just tightened up some more (Tex now has a 1.5-game lead over LAA). Tough to say who will win. Texas has way more offense, but the Angels have better pitching and are strong defensively up the middle with Mathis, Aybar and Bourjos. Should be a fun race to follow.

- How about Aaron Hill? He's hitting 365/406/556 for the streaking D-Backs. Looks like a good change-of-scenery trade for Kevin Towers. Wonder whether they'll re-sign Hill after the season.
electric carrot - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 10:43 AM EDT (#243652) #
anybody else notice this:

Jays 73W 73L  RS 681 RA681 (nearly even home and away record too)

If Farrell has done anything this year he's cleared us of the curse of Pythagoros.

Also it seems to me the Jays have been remarkably stable this year -- I would bet 90% of the season we've been no more than 5 games away from .500.

BlueJayWay - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 10:51 AM EDT (#243653) #
I noticed that ^^^^

In fact, their season high in games over .500 is 4 (which I think they were at once) and season low below is 5, which they did twice.  So in fact their entire season has been in that range.  Probably about 90% of the season has been .500 +/- 3 games.  I also heard the other day they've been at .500 far more than anyone else this year, about 30 times.

I don't think I've seen a more five hundredy team than this.

scottt - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 12:35 PM EDT (#243654) #
It's so large that it suggests that something has actually changed in Tampa, something I haven't heard about.

Do you have the variance for the other parks in the same period? I have difficulties appreciating differences in a vacuum.
John Northey - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 12:46 PM EDT (#243655) #
Checking the Jays results at B-R...
Worst month: June 12-15
Best month: July 15-11

Against AL teams only...
Best record: Minnesota 5-1, Baltimore in AL East 11-6
Worst record: Tampa & NYY 5-10

Record against all but AL East: 542 (88 win pace)
Record against all but NY/Bos/TB: 560 (91 win pace)

No question, the killer for the Jays is the big 3. If you make it a balanced schedule (ie: 12 games vs every AL team and kill off interleague random who they play the extra 6 against) the Jays would have 86 wins over 162. Make it unbalanced and put them in the west and it would be about 86 wins again (depending on assumptions), in central it would be 88 wins. While in the AL East it is 81.

Sigh. Even with more wildcards it will be tough for the Jays eh?
scottt - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 01:09 PM EDT (#243657) #
The Rays became a stong defensive team in the last few years. Has the Trop become a pitcher park simply because the Rays pitch there?

Or maybe they have grown the infield. I mean, really long. :-D
uglyone - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 01:58 PM EDT (#243658) #
Joe Maddon is a special genius, and that extends to every aspect of the game - bullpen usage, situational batting lineups.....and defensive positioning.

Never, ever sign a free agent after he's played under Joe Maddon, because he will never look as good under anyone else.
uglyone - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 02:00 PM EDT (#243659) #
Maddon's first season as TB Manager was 2006, btw.
John Northey - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 02:12 PM EDT (#243661) #
No, a park doesn't change due to how the players play.

However, the Trop might have been adjusted by the team to help their style of play. If you are wanting lower scoring games (thus saving your bullpen for road games) it might be a good idea to, say, lower the temperature, make the ground softer (fake grass makes that easier), etc.

Changes to the park recently (publicly known)
2006: Aquarium in CF (10,000 gallon) - could increase humidity which would affect play

2007: new video boards added

2011: new dirt path and new turf

Doesn't say when it happened, but seats behind home plate are closest in the majors - would cut down wild pitches and passed balls because the ball gets back to the catcher quicker.

None of these individually would make a major difference one would think, but it does show how things change in a park over time. Could they have cut the light slightly (not enough to notice by 99% of people) to make the new video boards more visible? That would affect hitting. Could they have readjusted the ac so it blows in to home plate more, thus cutting home runs?

For comparison, the SkyDome/Rogers Centre has had park factors from 97 to 104 over the years (not counting 1989 which was a split season). Exhibition Stadium was ranged from 99 to 110. The Ex was a pitchers park only in its last full season, 1988.

If you use 3 year rolling averages you get a range of SkyDome-98 to 104, Ex-101 to 108. Much tighter.
John Northey - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 03:00 PM EDT (#243663) #
Boy does Cousins have a weird strike zone. Watching the game via Gameday I've seen 3 pitches that were very close to the center of the plate that were called balls. Also seeing pitches that are further from center called strikes. Very, very hard for the players when the ump has no idea where the strike zone is.
Gerry - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 08:20 PM EDT (#243673) #
It's rookie hazing day, evidence here, and here, and here.
Dave Till - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 08:47 PM EDT (#243675) #
Question: if a rookie gets less than 130 at-bats, and therefore qualifies as a rookie again in 2012, will he have to go through the rookie hazing twice? Or is it a one-shot deal, regardless of service time?

Unrelated to anything: please take the time to watch Brett Lawrie play, and just enjoy. This may not happen again: pitchers may find a weakness, he might get hurt or slump, or the day-to-day grind of baseball might cause him to lose some of the exuberance with which he plays baseball. I, for one, have never seen anything like him, and I have been watching Blue Jays baseball for significantly longer than Brett Lawrie has been alive.

Watching him barrel out of the dugout to congratulate J.P. Arencibia for his walk-off single is a natural mood-elevating tonic.

WAR may be crude, but it is one of the better metrics to compare players, especially hitters.

The only real problem with the new metrics is that they aren't well-known enough to tell a story. (And no single-value metric could ever tell a story.) Old-fashioned baseball statistics are flawed, but we all know them well enough to be able to visualize a player's game, and sometimes even his appearance, by typing a random set of numbers. For example: if a player hits .240 with 35 home runs, 90 walks, 0 stolen bases and 120 strikeouts, you probably can picture this player in your mind's eye. You can't do that with 2.5 WAR, even though WAR is likely a better metric for evaluating a player's worth. (Full disclosure: the idea that baseball statistics tell stories is not original with me: I read it in an old Bill James publication.)
Nick Holmes - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 09:11 PM EDT (#243677) #
"...please take the time to watch Brett Lawrie play, and just enjoy. This may not happen again: pitchers may find a weakness, he might get hurt or slump, or the day-to-day grind of baseball might cause him to lose some of the exuberance with which he plays baseball..." Well said.
scottt - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 09:57 PM EDT (#243681) #
No, a park doesn't change due to how the players play.

PF: ((homeRS + homeRA)/(homeG)) / ((roadRS + roadRA)/(roadG))

Would be better to normalize per inning, rather than per game.

Turns out the Rays are not scoring much at home at all. 3.22 runs per game vs 5.07 on the road at the beginning of August. So the park factor,as far as the Rays offense is concerned is 0.635. Nothing to do with the Rays pitching in any case.
Magpie - Sunday, September 11 2011 @ 10:00 PM EDT (#243682) #
WAR may be crude, but it is one of the better metrics to compare players, especially hitters.

Obviously a metric that attempts to incorporate defense is hardly the appropriate tool to compare hitters as hitters, if that's what was meant. Nor should anyone expect it to be, of course - that's not what it's for.

I'm of the opinion that any attempt to use a single number to assess a player's contribution is desperate work and needs to be taken with an immense grain of salt. They seem to be built on too many assumptions to fill me with confidence, and it's not quite clear to me how you check it. There is nevertheless a very good reason to do it anyway. That reason is not to compare Jacoby Ellsbury's 2011 season to Jose Bautista's (apples and oranges) or to Dustin Pedroia's (apples and pumpkins) or to Justin Verlander's (apples and chestnut trees.) Such metrics - Bill James' win shares is another - are really the only kind of tool you can use if you want to make broad - very broad - comparisons of large numbers of seasons. If you want to review the development of seventy-five different 23 year old second basemen, or five years worth of first round picks, this type of metric is by far the most useful tool.
Greg - Monday, September 12 2011 @ 06:24 AM EDT (#243690) #

Re: dWAR being measured against average.

This appears to be a matter of some confusion with baseball-reference's WAR stats.  What the "Player Value" section of a player's page is showing you is

RBat - runs above average offensively
RBase - runs above average on SB, CS, WP, PB
RRoe and RDP - Runs above average on errors and doube plays (these are included in RBat so this is just a further breakdown for curiosity's sake)
Rfield - runs above average on fielding
Rpos - positional adjustment of runs
Rrep - adjustment of all previous inputs against a replacement player

So it's not that fielding is measured against average because of any assumption about major league fielders.  Fielding is measured against average because EVERY aspect is measured against average, then that sum of averages is adjusted for replacement level.

oWAR and dWAR add to the confusion because their name implies that one measures the offensive contribution and the other the defensive.  This isn't the case (so you could argue they are poorly named stats).  dWAR is simply the "Rfield" aspect of WAR removed from everything else, because since single year Rfield is so unreliable bbref decided to separate that element out so that you can input your own value for a player's glove.  oWAR really should be labelled EverythingElseWAR.  It is measured against replacement level simply because when you isolate Rfield, the replacement adjustment by definition stays in the other grouping.

I think WAR is a fine stat, and while Rfield is by far its weakest element it is no reason to discard the stat entirely.  When I look at WAR I usually take it at face value, then take the Rfield element and adjust it against the player's past history/other metrics (such as Fangraphs defence) to come up with some rough number that approaches common sense.

I agree that people who use WAR by just throwing out the final number and thinking that ends the conversation are fooling themselves and not adding much of substance to the conversation.  But that's no reason to just toss out one of the best tools we have at the moment (when used with diligence and thought) for assessing player value.  Now if you want to say that a lot of people don't use it with dilegence and thought that's fair (and probably accurate), but that's an argument against people, not the stat.

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