Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Worst Blogger Alive....

Since the worst blogger died.

Quickly, San Francisco is still my pick to take the World Series. The Rangers have faired well to this point while not having to face the caliber of pitching that they will see from the Giants. Further, four of the possible seven games will take place in a pitchers ball park, where those can'o'corn homers will be more along their rightful lines.

I'm going with San Francisco in five, although I want to say six.

Either way, Giants win.

I think Panda has a huge series.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Gutting It Out

I don't know a lot, or really anything about cars, so I rarely if ever give my input regarding them. I don't follow basketball and probably couldn't name the "star" player on every team in the league, so I won't stick my nose into a discussion about basketball. Football, ditto. European soccer, same thing. When someone with a background in politics raises a point regarding politics, I typically concede to that person, assuming they know what they are talking about.

Why then, can't radio personalities do the same?

(Maybe the greater question is why I continue to go to the sources I do for entertainment).

I have in my short time writing made mistakes, lot's to be certain. I even mistakenly called right handed pitcher Clay Buchholz a lefty, and at the time, that was much of the reason I liked him as a prospect. I've even started a second, yet short lived blog about my favorite OHLer, Andrew Shaw because I felt as though he deserved to be drafted - didn't happen.

On the radio this afternoon I heard Jim Rome (guh!) give a monologue about how Roy "Doc" Halladay had one of the gutsiest performances in recently history. Rome even asserted that this performance may have overshadowed the performance of Curt Schilling a couple years back. Rome attempted to make it out as if Halladay's performance was the fuel to ignite the fire that was the Phillies win. You can bet that if the Phillies take this series, Rome will talk about how Halladay went out there on "one leg".

Here's the scoop if you missed out on it.

Halladay claimed to have pulled his groin sometime in the second inning. And according to Rotoworld, "might explain why his stuff looked so shaky throughout the night".

Of course, his second inning groin pull had to do with how poorly he pitched in the first inning. It was entirely owed to the fact that Giants hitters were hammering the ball all night!

I'm sorry, maybe I'm beginning to sound like a Doc hater, but this is going too far! The guy is a fantastic pitcher who has had a memorable season and is probably destined for the hall of fame. It's tough to say negative things about him.

However, this wasn't a gutsy performance. What we saw was a pitcher who simply didn't have his best stuff that happened to pull his groin after 30 or so pitches.

Pitches...Pitcher...Throwing pitches. Wait, this gives me an idea...

Tom Verducci has the "rule of 30", where he asserts a pitcher under the age of 25 that increases his workload by more then 30 is vulnerable to injury. Entering last night's ballgame, Halladay had tossed 266.1 innings during the 2010 season (including the All Star Game and Post Season). This falls just 3.2 innings short of eclipsing the magic 30. Maybe we have something here?

We also see that Halladay has thrown 150 more pitches during 2010 then he did during his career high season in 2003. 2004, the season after his previous career high, also resulted in Halladay missing a significant amount of time.

I'm not saying this is an open and shut case, but could throwing a career high in innings and pitches result in Halladay running out of gas? If he were 25, almost everyone would be convinced this is true, so why not for a 33 year old? A 33 year old who year after year has been among the league leaders in pitches thrown and innings pitched.

Baseball Prospectus has a stat called "Pitcher Abuse Points". It hasn't been used to link many injuries recently, and I'll be the first to admit the premise isn't iron-clad. In fact, this stat was created over a decade ago and not much work has been done to further it. Even BP's ex-injury expert Will Carrol wasn't found utilizing this stat.

In any event, PAP is created using the following formula, as per BP,
These points are cumulative: a 115-pitch outing gets you 20 PAP's - 1 for each pitch from 101-110 (10 total), and 2 for each pitch from 111-115 (10 total). A 120-pitch outing is worth 30 PAP's, while a 140-pitch outing is worth 100 PAP's - more than 3 times as much. This seems fair; a pitcher doesn't get tired all at once, but fatigue sets on gradually, and with each pitch the danger of continuing to pitch grows.
Further, BP breaks the pitch tallies into a chart as follows:

Pitcher Abuse Points
Situation PAP/Pitch
Pitches 1-100 0
Pitches 101-110 1
Pitches 111-120 2
Pitches 121-130 3
Pitches 131-140 4
Pitches 141-150 5
Pitches 151+ 6

This is all a lead up to stating that Roy Halladay has finished in the top 5 in PAP for the last five seasons, possibly pointing to a breakdown in the pitcher. Maybe pitching into October has caused the otherwise indestructible Halladay to fall apart?


I need to again state that this isn't me hating on Roy Halladay, two years ago I fought tooth and nail to convince the writers at Baseball Daily Digest to use some critical thinking in making their selections. What I am doing here is proposing the idea that Halladay's "gutting it out" was possibly due to him being worn down due to overuse, something he displayed in the first inning. His "gutting it out" was not due to pulling his groin in the second inning, as his performance did not tail off after that point - he was arguably a better pitcher after the second inning.

Friday, October 15, 2010

ALCS and NLCS

Well, I went four for four with my AL and NL division series picks. I was a little nervous about picking the Rangers over the Rays and the Giants over the Braves, but in the end, everything ended how I expected.

On my twitter account (@TheOLIB) I tweeted that I expected the Giants to take the World Series entering the first day of the post season. I made this decision based on the pitching of the Giants and while Roy Halladay is getting all the press after his no-hitter, with people going as far as ranking him among the best right handers of all time (something I disagree with and will write about at a later date) I still feel as though the Giants 1-2-3 of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez are superior to the Phils 1-2-3, not to mention I prefer the Giants bullpen.

Where the Phillies have some fortune is going up against a lot of right handed pitchers, only four of the Giants active pitchers pitch from the wrong side with essentially nothing in the end game. That being said, I would anticipate seeing a lot of Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez during this series and a little less Santiago "what's my name" Casilla - even though Casilla has looked incredible this season.

I still have the Giants taking this series in what should go the distance. Hopefully this series has Lincecum winning a couple of games head-to-head against Halladay which will remind people that while Doc has been a phenomenal pitcher for his career, his timing is what truly makes his career stand out (pre-Schilling, post-Hernandez/Lincecum dominance).

Over in the American League I'm going with the Yankees taking the Rangers. I'm taking this one based on strategy, not so much the strategy of having Cliff Lee heading to the bump for game three, but for sending CJ Wilson out there for game one. I would have conceded game one and wend for back to back W's without CC Sabathia on the hill. That is, Wilson is essentially going to have to outpitch Sabathia to win game one, not an easy task facing any group of hitters, but against the Yanks, that much more difficult.

Additionally, this is a possible seven game series where a shaky bullpen is that much more vulnerable, especially against experienced hitters that are solid at putting the ball in play. With all the Yankees hitters up to full speed, it's doubtful the Rangers will have an easy inning towards the end of the game. That said, I see this one ending in five, maybe six with experts blaming it on Washington for the wrong reason (Lee) rather then the rotation configuration as a whole.


So again, Yankees over the Rangers in the ALCS and Giants over the Phillies in the NLCS with the Giants taking home the World Series.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Curiosity Kills Something

Right, it's playoff time and I'm making a quick post about a single-A catcher, deal with it. I made my Division Series picks at the final hour over on my twitter page (yea, I "tweet") and also promised for a post that evening - best unemployed writer, ever!

Anyways, there has been a fair amount of negative things written about Nationals catching prospect Derek Norris. Here are comments by two of the industries most well-known prospect authors.
  • Kevin Goldstein stated, "[Norris] became an on-base machine with little power" while giving him a mulligan due to injuries (I'll touch on these later).
  • Jason Gray wrote, "Norris will look to rebound from a subpar season in the Carolina League, where he hit .235 and slugged just .419."
Truth be told, I actually thought there was more negative press about the 21 year old. However, we still have two authors who walked away unimpressed with the power that Norris displayed in 2010.

Quick explanation. Keith Law wrote in a recent chat transcript that it isn't uncommon for hitters to take a year to a year and a half to recover their power stroke after a hamate injury. I have read that similar power sapping can occur to wrist injuries. The hamate bone is, from my non-medical opinion, a part of the wrist, and as such, Derek Norris' power sapping should not have been too much of a surprise.

Norris also suffered a minor concussion when he was hit in the head by a "96mph fastball". Which Norris admitted took him a fair amount of plate appearances to bounce back from, something his month-by-month statistics show as this was the only full month where Norris posted an OPS under .830 (keep this number in mind for later). Even his playoff-shortened month of September had Norris posting an OPS of .865 (if my math is correct).

Of course we don't want to altogether eliminate Norris' month of June, but we can see that something might not have been right that month, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that it had to do with having just taken a fastball off the head.

Neither of which is the point. The point here is that Norris didn't really have that bad of a season. In fact, his power numbers as is would suffice in the big leagues.

Consider where he would stand with those numbers at the show. These numbers I am speaking of are the end of season line of an .838 OPS and an ISO of .184.

Among catchers with 390 plate appearances (Norris had 387) there are 20 qualified catchers, five of whom posted an OPS higher then Norris' .838, while six put up an ISO over Norris' .184.

In other words, if Norris' numbers translated cleanly to major league baseball, he suffered a serious hand injury, and a concussion, we're looking at a top 5 or 6 hitting catcher in baseball. Keep in mind Norris is also putting in a conscious effort to being a better defensive catcher, something we all know a guy like Jorge Posada could care less about.


Derek Norris is one of my favorite prospects and should be one of yours as well. Keep his name in mind over the next 20 months or so, because he'll be making a splash in Washington while Stephen Strasberg is making a push for his first Cy Young award.


Quick question, is the catcher position getting "deep"? There are a fair amount of highly regarded youngsters that are already in the majors, and we should see another handful or so in the next year.

Monday, October 4, 2010

All About the Playoffs

Dave Cameron of FanGraphs keeps the playoff story alive in proposing yet another idea for "improving" baseball down the stretch. Honestly, it's not a terrible idea, although I'm not sure it will solve any current "problems" while not annoying certain fan bases.

To me, the bigger issue is that we are rewarding teams for winning their division under any circumstance. Take the Texas Rangers, for example. Here's a team that if divisional winners weren't given the golden ticket (a mistake in my opinion) would have JUST made it into the playoffs. They finished one game above the Red Sox and two ahead of the ChiSox, two teams that were eliminated with more then a week left.

One has to wonder what kind of "extra effort" those teams put in if they knew it was about win #90 (a foreseeable goal with the Red Sox needing 15 and the Chi Sox needing 17 as of September 1st) instead of win #95 (based on the Yankees and Rays pace as of September 1st).

Likewise, authors have made a stink about a lack of drama in the American League East, but what about the lack of drama in the American League West?

Sadly the 2010 season didn't offer a lot of last week entertainment. Most teams were more concerned about setting up their rotations for the playoffs and wondering where they would play their first round of golf rather then digging deep and making a run of things. But keep in mind that the 2009 season had a division winner crowned on day #163.

Wait, let's look at 2009 again...

Wow, if teams weren't put into the playoffs based on geographical boundaries, we could have has a VERY exciting end to the season. While the Yankees, Angels, and Red Sox were all locks to make the playoffs and had things all but wrapped up a week in advanced, look at all the teams that come into contention if they are shooting for the 86 wins that both the Tigers and Twins settled in with.

We'd have the Rays, who finished with 84 and had the two best teams in the American League in their division (can't blame a team for packing that in). We'd also have the Rangers, who with 87 wins would have been the class of the final playoff spot, possibly providing a little more oomph with leading a race rather then trailing by 10 games. And we'd also have the Mariners, who with 85 wins might have had a shot.

2009 offered a little bit of drama with the Tigers and Twins fighting it out and needing an extra game, but imagine if those imaginary geographic lines didn't exist? There would have been 5 teams fighting the last days of the season for one playoff spot.

Maybe 2009 was a special case, how about 2008? Same thing, the American League Central went down to game #163 while two nearly equal teams, the Yankees and Jays were out with plenty of time left in the season.

What about 2007? Not too much excitement. Although having 88 wins and chasing two 94 win teams has got to look a lot nicer then chasing a single 94 and another with 96 as the Mariners and Tigers had to do respectively.

Then there is 2006, where a 90 win team didn't make the playoffs, while in the National League, an 83 win team made the playoffs with an 85 win team dusting off their fairway woods.


All of this is to say that the wild card isn't the issue. The wild card is predominantly rewarding one of the top teams in the league for being a top team. Is it taking some drama out? Certainly! But think how ridiculous the old system was where a team like the 2009 Red Sox, the team with the third most wins in the American League, would have been sitting at home.

The system, as is, works. It's not perfect, but it works. I would get rid of the geographical lines altogether, as it isn't as if the players are riding buses or non-chartered airplanes.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The WhO's

During tonight's Jays-O's radio broadcast I heard a "record" that hasn't been getting any press and also one that drew me to an even more startling conclusion.

Baltimore Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis became the third (yes, the THIRD) major leaguer in history to have 4 straight seasons of 43 or more doubles. Wow, really? Ever? That's quite impressive, well done Nick!

However, what really stuck out to me as the Jays announcers were talking about Markakis was that Nick may have more extra base hits (55) then runs batted in (53) - which in fact is true. While Nick has been hitting in the two hole for a good chunk of the season, having as many runs batted in as extra base hits is disastrous!

Possibly that is somewhat of an overstatement. However, how disheartening does it have to be for Markakis to be hitting the ball so well, yet offering so little production for his club?

I suppose this simply highlights the fact that the Orioles have been terrible at creating runs this season. So bad, that they need to have one of their best hitters hitting 2nd as things rapidly go downhill after that point. The team has three hitters with an on base percentage above league average. Their first basemen have the second lowest combined OPS in the league and it can't be chalked up to Justin Smoak (who has played for both the worst and third worst teams in terms of team first base OPS).

With as much young pitching depth as the Orioles have, their lack of hitting both at the major league and minor league level make it increasingly less likely that this team turns around any time soon. We may not be looking at the Pirates, but I'm not sure we are too far off given the depth of the systems and pockets of the teams in this division.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Illogic" - A Race for MVP

I will touch on this more in the coming days, but I simply could not pass up on the opportunity to call out one of the most stupid comments I have ever read. And let me tell you, that bar is quite low!

Cliff Corcoran of SI.com writes,
[Joe] Mauer might be the first player you'd eliminate from that list, if only because his performance this season (.331/.407/.473, 9 HR, 74 RBIs) falls so far short of his otherworldly MVP campaign of a year ago.
You can check out the list of obvious candidates for yourself. You can also ignore the fact that for some reason I keep going back to SI.com despite the continual abomination that is their baseball writing (although there is more to come).

Despite all of that I have to wonder where Corcoran gets off eliminating Mauer based on the fact that Mauer is failing to be Mauer. That is, Corcoran feels as though simply because Mauer's MVP season in 2009 was greater than his season in 2010 that he is undeserving of it this year. What he fails to mention is that there is a hippo standing on a banana in odd numbered months that make it impossible to vote for the Twins backstop.

What a joke!

Well thanks for eliminating Mauer out of the MVP race based on that logic, I was really scratching my head there!

But Corcoran goes on to oust his own logic time and time again.

First, he suggests that Troy Tulowitzki is undeserving of the NL MVP simply because he missed a month of the season (okay) and consequently his counting stats are down (okay, fault MVP voters). However, this "logic" only applies to Tulowitzki because...Well, because.

That is, Corcoran believes that despite not leading the league in any counting categories and missing a significant amount of time, Josh Hamilton is the favorite to win AL MVP. Sadly, Corcoran leaves out his rationale behind the pineapple taking home the Cy Young, but I can't imagine the logic would be much different then removing Tulo from the NL ballot for injuries and a lack of counting stats and adding Hamilton to the top of his despite the same inefficiencies.

Second, Corcoran uses his "Mauer defense" MINUS the counting stats argument to write why Albert Pujols deserves third instead of first in writing,
"The counting stats are there, but relative to his own absurd standard, Pujols' rate stats are down this season. In the course of winning the last two NL MVPs, he averaged 42 home runs and 125 RBIs, totals within his reach this year, but also hit .342/.452/.656, which is yet another level of awesomeness above what he has accomplished in 2010. Expect Pujols to be penalized a bit for failing to live up to his own past performance..."
Corcoran does mention that this may be "unfair" however is not willing to fully commit to the level of fairness in this discussion nor state if Pujols should be the winner.

Going against his own logic, Corcoran writes about the counting stats being there, but the failure of Pujols to be Pujols as his fault. There is an interesting comment about Coco the talking monkey and Afghanistan though, which certainly leads to a further understanding of who will win the NL MVP.


If I were a less serious baseball fan, or simply a casual observer of the sport. Maybe I'm from Minnesota and I'm bummed that the Vikings started off 0 and 2 and I'm looking for something to heal those wounds ending up at Corcoran's article. However, upon completion I'm not certain this person would have a better understanding of who the deserving MVP is in either league. Where an argument goes against one player, it supports another; where it disqualifies one, it inflates another. Simply put, the logic makes teaching flip cup to a class of 5 year olds seem like a great decision.



By the way, that's a decision I made while teaching in Korea, so thank you Mr. Corcoran.

(Take note that 3 of the students were one'n'done - I'm a great teacher!)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Expanding MLB's Playoff Format

Mmm, I don't like it.

Next!

Here's the basis; Tom Verducci at SI.com writes an article suggesting a way to improve Major League Baseball's playoff format and add some revenue. He has an excellent point that recent "win or go home" games have drawn outstanding viewership and the lack of these nail biters have hurt baseball. Although the former has evidence only in that the National Football League is a behemoth and Major League Baseball is simply puttering along. I'm not sure if Verducci follows the National Hockey League or not, but the Stanley Cup has went the distance in 4 of the last 7 seasons, yet the NHL isn't doing all that hot. In fact, the NHL Finals have gained little (if any) ground on the NBA Finals despite being drastically more dramatic (the NBA Finals have went 7 games only four times since 1988).

Verducci states that teams are content simply making the playoffs in Major League Baseball. Whether factual or not, this is not really a big deal in my opinion given the home field advantages (albeit small) provided to teams. While Verducci points out that the Rays may sit their staff ace in a potential division winning game at the end of the season, it's tough to blame the Rays for wanting David Price available to pitch at least twice in the first round of the playoffs. Further, with injuries being a part of any sport, it's smarter to keep your best pitcher available for the playoffs, rather then risk him getting hurt for home field advantage.

Verducci suggests an idea which I totally disagree with. He suggests that MLB open up two wild card spots instead of the current set up of one (per league). He sets up a situation where the two wild card teams play a play-in game, where the winner goes onto the playoffs and the loser goes home. What this would do is create more meaningful games as teams further down the pecking order would still have a shot at the playoffs. To me, there isn't anything really wrong with this basis and it's tough to argue against making baseball more competitive in September. But that's it.

Verducci writes, "I have a hard time thinking of a down side to this system." His rationale for said statement is, "It rewards division winners and penalizes second-place teams."

Okay, that is fair, and Verducci brings up an example of the 2005 Houston Astros who were far out of contention as early as May 7th.

But here is where I disagree. We are giving lesser teams a ridiculous breath of air. Anything can happen in a single game and while this game may have encouraged a few better games on the last day of the season, we could conceivably hurt the playoffs by allowing - for example - the Boston Red Sox (leaving history out of the picture) into the playoffs.

That is, the Yankees and Rays are the two best teams in baseball, by a fairly significant margin. I'm sure the Rays would prefer to win the division, but they certainly aren't going to kill themselves to get in. They are currently 7 games ahead of the Sox and a vastly superior team (owning a +123 run differential to the Sox +68).

Verducci is then suggesting that we potentially kick the second best team in all of baseball (inexcusable) out of the playoffs for a good, not great team in the Sox.

Worse yet, while this system would give the Rays something to play for if they were tied with the Yankees on the final day of the season, what does this do to the 5th ranked team? A team like the current White Sox who are out of the playoffs but if the season were to end today, would have nothing to play for on the last day - win and they are in, lose and they are in (the wildcard playoff that is).

In fact, I would argue that the Rays would be likely to sit Price on the last day of the season anyways, as they would want him for the more meaningful game against the ChiSox. That is, on the last day of the season, if tied with the Yanks, their destiny isn't even in their own hands. Whereas against the ChiSox, it would be.


Verducci isn't wrong to ask the question of how we can improve the playoff format and the last week of the season. He is wrong, however, to suggest a one game playoff. Using the NFL as a barometer in this scenario is not appropriate as the sport is vastly different. The NFL, for example, never uses a "best of" playoff format.

This then leads to the question of how MLB can improve the playoffs and the end of the season. One area I have always been a proponent of is not allowing any division winners into the playoffs based solely on their standings in the division. Some years this may be unfair as one division may be particularly strong, but even in that scenario, if we go by Verducci's logic, "just win" and you have nothing to complain about.

For example, this season the American League would be represented by the Yanks, the Rays, the Twins, and the ChiSox, the four best teams in the league. This would satisfy Verducci's desire for more meaningful and competitive games. It would make more teams eligible down the stretch as we would have a team like the Jays sitting 6 games out of the playoffs instead of 12. That would give us 4 teams fighting to make the American League bracket instead of 1.

In the National League, things get even better, where we have three exciting races, but only involving two teams. My suggested playoff format would invite an additional two teams into the playoff picture.


How would you change Major League Baseball's playoff format without watering down the competition? Keep in mind, making more teams eligible, while adding the excitement of March Madness, doesn't always add excitement to the final and could potentially water it down.

That is, while the wildcard has been a good addition, remember the throttling the ChiSox gave the 'Stros in the 2005 World Series.


I personally like the way things are, I would just like to see an additional bonus for the best team in the league. For example, in Japan, the best team only has to win 3 games to win the series whereas the underdog has to win 4. In Korea, the league winner sits out the first two rounds of the playoffs.


Verducci, you have some good intentions, but your comparisons aren't accurate. Baseball is not Football, and nothing is the NCAA Tournament. Don't waste your time trying to make baseball like those two events.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

"Illogic" - I Really Tried...

I know, I know, I'm not going to make it in the business if I keep making enemies, burning bridges is not a good idea. I know my "elitist attitude is not going to get" me far. But when there are errors in baseball writing, I feel the need to point it out - I sure wish someone would do the same for me.

I found myself on SI.com reading one of the cover stories about Manny Ramirez, a perfect time given Ramirez's recent trade to the White Sox and the weekend set of the Whites versus the Reds (socks that is). I typically don't find myself reading SI.com too frequently as I find they mix real life emotions with that of sport. Yes, it is fine to get emotional over sports and to feel some semblance of joy or sorrow based on them, but at the end of the day, they are simply sports and are there for entertainment and nothing more.

In any event, the article mentioned the headaches that Manny will provide to the Chi Sox, as he had to the Red Sox, Indians, and Dodgers. The author mentions a couple highly publicized events which made Manny into some sort of anti-hero.

The purpose of this article isn't to praise Manny Ramirez, I really don't care about him as a person, he's one of the greatest hitters regardless of performance enhancers (which, this just in, ONLY helped hitters, meaning that the stats from the past 20 years have only inflated the numbers of the hitters - great science Mr. Shaughnessy) and that's all that matters to me. The purpose of this article is to question why another author is making assumed claims about a hitter based on illogic (spell check confirms, I just made up a word and am now titling this series "Illogic").

So here goes...

The author writes,

It's harder for Manny to hit now that it's harder to juice.

Testing is not his friend. Some of the power and skill is gone.

Oh! That's the correlation?!? It's harder to hit now that Manny can't use steroids, and that's it? No other reasons it's harder for Manny to hit? Nothing? Okay, I'll give you a second to think about that....

Anything?

No, not yet?

How about now?

Here, I'll give you a couple hints...

#1 "Ballpark Factors" are a "factor" in the performance of a hitter and pitcher. Fenway, for example is consistently improving the numbers of a hitter, especially a right handed power hitter who needs to hit the ball 310 feet instead of over 370. Conversely, Dodger stadium tends to sap this power.

It's not a difficult concept. The numbers are fairly straight forward. Some ballparks help a hitter (Fenway) others hinder a hitter (Dodger Stadium).

Admittedly, Manny's Fenway vs. road OPS doesn't really display this. In fact, Manny managed to hit better (according to OPS) at Dodger stadium then at Fenway. OPS isn't the greatest statistic, but it shouldn't be dismissed.

In any event, ballpark factors ought to be considered, and the fact remains that Dodger stadium i less of a hitter friendly ballpark then Fenway Park. Regardless of "juice".

#2 Manny Ramirez is no longer in his late 20's/early 30's (aka the Prime of a hitters career). It is a well known fact that ball players typically get worse as they leave the prime of their career. I wouldn't expect a baseball writer to know this fact, as it doesn't draw reader interest the same way a headline including "Manny" and "badly" does.

In any event, Manny is simply an older hitter. With or without steroids, Manny would have seen a dip in production, the same way David Eckstein saw it - of course, we could chalk Eckstein's career ISO, which scored below "steroid era" league average up to steroids, after all, who knows what he would have been like without them? Positive test be damned, right Cox?

The point is, Manny's ISO peaked during his age 27 and 28 seasons at an amazing .330 and .348. During five of the next six seasons, Manny hovered around .300 having a low of a still impressive .262 in 2003 (presumably a statistical anomaly). Manny's age 35 season was easily the worst of his career and possibly signaled the end of what was an amazing career (keep in mind, that he still had an excellent season that year).

Then, the trade to LA occurred and Manny's career was, can I go as far as to say resurrected? He did, post a .270 ISO that season, which again, continued the negative trend that one would assume from an individual who is in his late 30s. This was then followed with a .241 season, and then the .188 he is posting this year.

We do see a trend forming here though. If you start at 2004 and run the numbers up to 2010 you see it clear as day - 305, 301, 298, 197, 270, 241, 188. That is Manny's age 32 season running through his age 38 season. It's tough to suggest that this isn't simply the normal aging pattern of a player (possibly to the extreme because Manny's peak was so incredibly high).

#3 Manny's "skills" have hardly diminished.

While Manny's power numbers have tailed off, his wOBA (weighted on base average) has seen only a marginal drop in production and remained well above that of the league average hitter. In fact, he is in the top 20 in all of baseball (among hitters with 200+ plate appearances) despite being clean - baffling, isn't it?

Another little factoid, he is one of only two hitters older then 35 in the top 20. I wonder how much of his career is to be blamed on steroids in the first place. That is, a hitter who is in the twilight of his career and is clean is still among the top 20 hitters in baseball, where does this put him for the prime of his career?


Instead of chalking Manny's decreasing power up to steroids, would it be so difficult to look a little further? Instead of assuming that steroids created Manny into the hitter he is/was, do some research, ask some questions. The fact is, there is very little to link PEDs to Performance Enhancement other then the name.

I really wish that writers who get paid would take some time and do a bit of research. Stop aiming for tabloid-style points and write concrete material that brings something to the discussion. Yes Manny will provide some headaches for this team's management, but he's also going to win the team some games.


The better headline would have been, "Kenny Williams admits letting Jim Thome go a HUGE mistake".

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thinking it Over - End of Year Awards

The Cy Young Award, and many other in baseball are typically given to a pitcher which it is often times difficult to agree with. I think back to when Bartolo Colon won the award in 2005, a year when he led the league in essentially one statistical category, yet walked away with the award.

This insight (read - tangent) came from my perusing of Baseball Prospectus' On the Beat series, where author John Perrotto provides us with a handful of scout reactions to some Major League players. On August 9th, Perrotto had this tidbit about sure-thing non-Cy Young contender Felix Hernandez,
"The fact that this guy is 7-9 is just further proof that you can't judge a pitcher solely on his win-loss record. He was 19-5 last season and his stuff is basically the same and he's pitching almost as well. Believe me, there's nothing wrong with him that some run support wouldn't help. He's still as nasty as ever."
And really, once you look deeper, Felix truly is having the same season as last year, with an argument that he's performing better. That is, his strikeouts are up (career high), his walks are down (career low). In fact, Felix is performing at the best level of his career across the board.

Felix is currently tied with CC Sabathia for the highest WPA in the American League. His 3.27 mark is higher then the total he put up in 2009 and the highest mark of his career.


I suppose what this post boils down to is A Case for Felix, as there is a legitimate chance that despite his mound heroics, Felix won't come home with the Cy Young this year. It wouldn't surprise me, that his potentially sub .500 record would leave him off the ballot of most BBWA despite being among the most valuable and dominant in the American League.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wahn, Wahn, Waaaaaahnnnnn

Yesterday the Bisons (you think I forgot about them, didn't you?!?) placed still-a-prospect Fernando "That's Fun to Say" Martinez on the disabled list. Ironically, this was also the same day the Bisons had their last big promo night of the season - a Fernando Martinez bobble head.

The bitter pill became even more bitter when the Bisons made an 8th inning comeback only to allow 5 runs in the 10th.

It's as if Buffalo knows I am back home - thanks!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

No, You Don't

I won't link you to the article which is the basis for this article, but I will give you a brief summary:
A hockey writer and self proclaimed pot stirrer, decided to take his turn writing about baseball - after all, hockey season is just around the corner and he wouldn't want his readers to forget he exists. Short story even shorter, the writer asks if Jose Bautista is juiced.

Well, that's unfair. He never directly asked the question, simply alluded to the possibility of bringing up said question.
There is so much to cover here I'm having a difficult time figuring out where to start.

First, into the allegation. I'm not going to deny nor confirm that Bautista is juiced. All we can go on is that he hasn't failed a test, so as far as the public knows, Bautista is clean. Is there a chance he is doing something that isn't being detected? Sure. But asking a question to an answer we already have isn't really journalism, is it? That is, over a decade ago the question was asked if players were using something to aid their performance. The question was answered and as such baseball was slagged with this imaginary line of a time when players began using "something to aid their performance".

Which leads to the second point. Cox writes,
For the following unpopular question, blame Major League baseball and all the nonsense it has spewed over the past decade.

Don't blame me.
No, I'm going to blame you. I'm going to blame you for a lack of journalistic integrity. I'm going to blame you for being a lazy journalist. I'm going to blame you for simply being you, a "pot stirrer".

I wouldn't expect Cox to know of a statistic such as isolated power (ISO), which gives a legitimate understanding of a player's power. Similarly, I wouldn't expect Cox to know about Park Factors. However, if one is going to "ask a question", shouldn't they at least know what they are talking about.

Let's do the hard work for Cox.

Yes, Bautista's ISO increased. In fact, it has doubled. Okay, case closed. Evidence in the bag. No no, Cox, wait a minute, maybe there is more.

Park Factors. These are...Well let's have ESPN explain them.
Park Factor compares the rate of stats at home vs. the rate of stats on the road. A rate higher than 1.000 favors the hitter. Below 1.000 favors the pitcher. Teams with home games in multiple stadiums list aggregate Park Factors.
In other words, a park factor can tell us if a park helps or hurts a hitter. Pretty simple. I'm sure even a hockey writer could figure this out.

In 2010 the SkyDome is playing to a park factor of 1.369 for home runs. In other words, the SkyDome is increasing home runs by 37% over the average ballpark.

PNC Park has a park factor of 0.757 for home runs, or it decreases home runs by 24% over the average ballpark.

That's a fairly large difference. One that hasn't existed since the opening of PNC, but on average, SkyDome has favored hitters and PNC has deflated them.

Possibly we have the beginning of an explanation, something to look further into before proclaiming Bautista a 'roid user.

Admittedly, I don't feel like going all the way into it, but briefly we can see that Bautista's career at SkyDome has produced a .312 ISO (close to his current season rate) with his PNC ISO sitting at .153 (close to his previous career average).

This doesn't merely open and close the case that Bautista's improvements have been a result of playing half of his games at the SkyDome. In fact, Bautista has provided a higher then career average ISO on the road this year.


So yes, Cox, you are right to ask a question. You are wrong, however to ask your current question. What would should be doing, as a journalist with some sort of integrity is asking, "what is up with Bautista" and then digging deep. Don't take the easy way out and slap him with the steroid tag. Do some research. Make a real story. Give some information that people can use and learn from.

What Cox did isn't baseball writing. It isn't journalism. It's the same garbage we see on FOXNews. It's a reporter with a bias directing his bias onto a subject with which he has little information. It's like asking a child who will win the World Series in spring, of course the child will answer that his/her favorite team will win.


But, at least it started a conversation and provides us with a jumping off point. That is, "Is Damion Cox a worthless writer?"
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