Thursday, December 31, 2009

All Time Team: Third Base

COOLY: Just like Usher, it feels so good to be back.

Okay, now that I've gotten that music video link out of my system, I feel better.

Zach and I decided that we probably shouldn't leave you all hanging regarding our All Time Team. Especially after my brilliant nomination of Jim Edmonds, I'm sure that many of you are completely on board with what we have to say.

And in the same light as the Edmonds defense argument, my first nomination for third base is Brooks Robinson. I will get about the subject of his defense after you take a look at his mediocre-ish hitting stats: 2848 H/ 268 HR/ .267 AVG/ .322 OBP/ .401 SLG/ and a gaudy 28 SB in 23 seasons while facing the great pitchers of the 50's and 60's. Not too shabby, but those are barely even Hall of Fame numbers, let alone ones being worthy of mention in the debate as the greatest third baseman.

(Zach's Note: There is no way you can compare Brooks Robinson to Jim Edmonds. Jim Edmonds sucks. Stop trying to validate your depressing stance on a slightly above average defender.)

However, no one remembers Brooks "The Human Vacuum Cleaner" Robinson for his bat. Of course, no one really tracked UZR and shit like that back in Robinson's days, but I think the 16 straight Gold Gloves and machine-like nickname speak for themselves. Also tack on one MVP and 15 All Star selections to Robinson's resume as the greatest fielding third baseman of all time, which should not be discounted considering that third is considered to be one of the most difficult fielding positions.

ZACH: The next point of the argument needs to be, do we consider Ripken and Stray-Rod? This argument isn't even about number; both clearly have the hitting and fielding chops to be in the argument for Top 5. W really need to analyze what the cutoff was to make them a third baseman. Ripken had 5 full seasons at third, and 15 seasons at short. Well, I guess that answers that argument (Note: I had no idea that Ripken played that many seasons at short. I only remember him at third. I guess that shows my age.) Stray-Rod's transformation is a little more recent. His totals are 6 seasons at third and 9 seasons at short. While this may be a great argument by the end of his career, I don't this Rodriguez qualifies yet.

Now we've narrowed it down to two clear finalists, Mike Schmidt and George Brett.

George Brett

Does this go into our evaluations of the third baseman? Of course. Although, the things we really need to look at are numbers. Brett had 20 season/ 3,154 H/ 317 HR/ 1,595 RBI/ .305 AVG/ .369 OBP/ .487 SLUG/ .857 OPS. Those are pretty solid numbers, and they tell a lot about who George Brett was. Brett was a good hitter, with a little pop. If we play out Rodriguez' career, do his numbers dominate Brett's? Absolutely.

Some other George Brett stats that stick out: 13 All Star Appearances, 1 Gold Glove, 1 MVP, 1.21 BB/K, and a semi lucky .311 BAIBP. Did Brett benefit from a light hitting position for most of baseball history? Absolutely. You will not see that light of power hitting number anywhere else on this list. Did Brett benefit from one great home run freak out? Absolutely. He made himself relevant for generations of baseball enthusiasts for one play.

Mike Schmidt

This is a fairly easy argument because Schmidt and Brett played at basically the same time. What do we need to do to compare the two? Compare MVP, Silver Sluggers, and unfortunately, Gold Gloves. Schmidt: 3, 6, and 10 , respectively. Brett: 1, 3, and 1. This is hands down a Mike Schmidt victory.

Let's explore the numbers: 17 seasons, 2,234 H/ 548 HR/ 1,506 R/ 1,595 RBI/ .267 AVG/ .380 OBP/ .527 SLUG/ .908 OPS. With 13 All Star Appearances, 3 MVP's, 6 Silver Sluggers, 10 Gold Gloves, a paltry .80 BB/K, and an unlucky .285 BAIBP.

While Mike Schmidt may frustrate me during his color analyst stints, his numbers speak for themselves. He beat George Brett head to head in MVP's, Gold Gloves, and Silver Sluggers. People of that time period clearly felt that Mike Schmidt was far and away better than George Brett. It's a shame that there weren't more power hitters at this position early on in baseball; however, that stat is surely to change.

Zach's Best: Mike Schmidt
Zach's Worst: Is there any chance that I would not pick Nick Punto as the WORST EVER THIRD BASEMAN???? If you didn't know I was going to say that, you clearly have not been reading close enough.

Cooly's Best: Mike Schmidt
Cooly's Worst: David Bell

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tracking History

I missed the milestone, but last Tuesday (December 22nd) marked the six month point of this blog's existence.  Thank you to all who have supported us, it means a lot considering this thing was spawned out of a bored afternoon at the workplace.  I had no idea that we would go on to add six (occasional) writers and lasting this long.

Remember to keep up with us via facebook and twitter.  And we hope for your continued support in the future.  Thank you once again.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Best Defense Middle Infield

For those of you who missed the first couple of entries, you can find them here. Today I'm bringing you a little Middle Infield. You can not have a middle infield discussion without watching this clip. Now that I have your attention, lets get to the good stuff:

Second Base

What makes a great second baseman? Quickness. Range. Great hands. And Amazing footwork. Quickness and range go hand in hand here. Range is crucial because of the limited range the first baseman is allowed. The second baseman must go deep into holes and stop slow ground balls as well as field screaming grounders hit by the middle of the order lefties.

Great hands are vital to a great double play combination. The second baseman is responsible for throws from third and short on the double plays, and these throws range anywhere from missiles leading second into the runner to soft tosses which force quick throws. A great second baseman must have quick hands and a plethora of double play moves. These moves must include stepping to the inside of the bag, the step back, using the bag as protection, and the I'm going to get killed move.

The way to master each of these moves is to work tirelessly on footwork around second base. A second baseman must be quick enough to move his feet away from a lumbering runner, and that is only focusing on the footwork required for double plays. Virtually every throw a second baseman makes is unnatural. This is why you often see second baseman make quick sidearm throws; these cut down on the release time. Throwing to first is across the body at a difficult angle. Throwing to second requires equally difficult footwork and quickness, and throwing from the hole requires arm strength and balance. Second base is definitely one of the more underrated difficult to play positions (if that makes any sense). On to Neyer's thoughts:

2B -- Chase Utley

I thought this was best defensive player, not best offensive player? This one may actually be right on the money, however.

Utley still hasn't won a Gold Glove, but that's the voters' fault because he's deserved three or four of them already.

While he doesn't have the prototypical quickness that I talked about in earlier paragraphs, Utley has shown remarkable skill at 2nd base. Lets let Rob explain.

And what a strange trip it's been.

Where did that sentence come from?????? Just talk about his playing second base.

He began his college career as a shortstop, then spent some time at DH before finally shifting to second base.

How does this have anything to do with how well he played second base? Craig Biggio played catcher, meaning he is shit awful at second base. See how my logic works. Wait, you don't? Rob would understand.

In the minors, the Phillies turned him into a third baseman, but that shift was reversed when third baseman David Bell joined the franchise.

Did Chase even play 2nd base?

Finally, Utley was back at second base, where he belonged.

How does he not mention his time at 1st base? Utley actually played Major League games there. If you are going to waste our time making irrelevant points at least see them through to completion.

Frankly, Utley doesn't have the arm to play third base, and his relatively weak arm does hurt him when trying to turn double plays.

5 sentences. 0 support for his claim.

But he still has the range of a shortstop, and makes an immense number of plays to both his left and his right that most second basemen simply don't make.

Since Rob didn't make his point, allow me. Chase Utley has finished in the top 3 in UZR/150 each of the last 5 years. He even put up an astonishing 21+ in 2007 and 2008. While guys like Orlando Hudson have been heralded more for their spectacular plays, Utley simply gets to more ground balls than every other second baseman. When I initially saw this, I thought "no way" (It was a highly dignified moment). Utley is not exceptionally quick, and he doesn't remind you of a typical second baseman. However, Utley's numbers speak volumes. His 5 year stretch from 2005-2009 is simply much better than every other second baseman.


Shortstops need to be the captain of the infield. They are the focal point of the defense. They are the athletes which can make a defense superb or tear a defense to shreds. The shorstop needs to be one of the most talented, athletic players on the defense. Unlike the positions we have talked about previously, technique takes a backseat to talent at this position. Superior range and arm strength are not things that can be taught, they are inherent traits that a player has. The player with the smoothest, best glove at the position, Adam Everett. Take it away Rob:

SS -- Adam Everett

No arguments here.

Everett has never started 150 games in a season.

That is a bad way to start your point. Good ways include: Everett has topped 15.0 UZR/150 5 times in his career. He leads the past decade in +/- and over the span of 2005-2007 finished with a +/- of +92. The next highest total, +45.

He's started more than 120 games in a season just twice.

Rob, do you know how making points works?

That's the best explanation for Everett's failure to win even a single Gold Glove: The voters prefer every-day players.

And players that hit better than a career .245. Another cool stat on Everett, even though he has never been able to hit, his WAR dipped into the negatives only in his rookie season. He even peaked as a 2.0+ WAR player from 2003-2006. Remember, he could not hit for shit.

And they particularly like every-day players who can hit at least a little. That's just not Adam Everett. But despite his general lack of playing time, he has easily saved more runs in this decade than any other shortstop: 87 runs, to be (approximately) precise, and 18 runs per 150 games.

Congratulations, Rob's first stat in two paragraphs, after he announced he would be using stats.

Everett turns 33 this winter, and he's not the fielder he once was. But for five or six years, there simply wasn't a shortstop who could make more plays than Adam Everett.

However, everyone would have just had to take your word for it because you never backed this statement up. Good work Rob.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from Start Wedman

Merry Christmas to all twelve of our readers!  We really appreciate you guys still wasting your time with us.  In order to celebrate this joyous holiday, enjoy this creepy picture from Tommy La Sorda's blog:

Merry Christmas to all!  And get excited for next week since I will have nothing to do but sit around my new apartment and blog while my roommates work.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

REMIX!!!!!!!!! George Brett Style

Thank you

You just turned one of the best videos of the year into an even better video!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Best Fielders: Catchers and First Base

If you missed the first part, here it is. Today I will be taking you through the fine art of catching, and a little bit of the grace of first base.


Before we get into Rob's picks I want to clarify what a great catcher is. It is extremely difficult to define a catcher's defensive prowess using statistics. Some great ones are catcher's pop time (time it takes from ball hitting catchers glove to hitting second baseman's glove). A good major league pop time is somewhere around 1.80 seconds. Unfortunately, these stats aren't readily available. Some catchers with great pop times are said to be Yadier Molina, Old Ivan Rodriguez, and Miguel Olivo wasn't too shabby when he was on the South Side. Some with bad pop times would be Mike Piazza, Victor Martinez, and Jason Kendall (also suffering from noodle arm).

Other things that might help you judge a catcher are pass balls (kind of) and caught stealing percentage. The major downfall of caught stealing percentage is the pitcher variable. You may have a pitcher that works to keep the runner at first close, using pickoffs and a slide step. You may also have a pitcher like Greg Maddux that could give a shit if the runner stole second.

This isn't even getting into the art of calling a game. Some major league catchers don't even call their own games, which is atrocious. Even though this is such a critical part of the game, it is almost impossible for an outside source to know who is good and who is bad at calling a game. The only way to possibly know is if you are pitching, and how comfortable you feel with your catcher.

Catching is difficult to define because there are so many aspects of catching. Intelligence, toughness, quickness, hand eye coordination, savvy, and strength all play a roll in one of the toughest positions to play. You can see a big guy like Joe Mauer behind the plate and immediately assume that he is no good (he doesn't block the ball exceptionally well, and with his size you would think his pop time to be slow). However, Joe is actually an above average catcher, using his superior athletic ability to pick a lot of balls in the dirt as opposed to blocking. While a quick catcher who blocks the plate and covers a lot of ground is more conventional, who is to say a catcher that picks the ball is no good. The main goal is to keep the ball in front of you. While blocking the ball may be more effective for most people, genetic freaks can get away with a picking tactic. (Side Note: the catcher I have the most fun watching is Yadier Molina. Great blocker. Seems to have a good feel for the game. Great pop time and his snap throws to first are some of the most exciting plays in baseball). On to Neyer's pick:

C -- Ivan Rodriguez

How could you argue with this? He has been revered by his peers for his catching prowess. Word is that this has taken a backseat to his work at the plate, not behind it, but Young Ivan was dreaded behind the plate. Teams did not even think about running on him.

All that stuff I said about statistics? When it comes to catchers, you can forget about them.

Mainly, for the reasons I stated above.

Because one of the catcher's biggest jobs is supposedly working well with the pitchers, and to this point nobody's yet figured out a good way to measure that ability (if it even exists).

But there are some things we can look at, and Pudge does well in most of those things.

Terrible. Sentence.

He won five Gold Gloves in this decade. He threw out 41 percent of the runners who tried to steal against him (and with his reputation, a lot of runners just didn't bother).

I wish he would stop bringing up Gold Gloves.

And at 38, he just got a two-year contract for $6 million.

Not because of his defense.

First Base

While first base isn't nearly as technical as catcher, there is still an art form to playing the position. You can identify a bad first baseman in three plays.

Play 1: Ground ball to the shortstop. How does the player move to the bag? Are they clumsy? Swift? Footwork is the key here. A first baseman needs to take the minimum amount of steps from his fielding position to the bag, all the while maintaining eye contact with the shortstop and finding the bag with his foot. This takes work. It is not natural, and gets easier with repetition. However, if you are bad at these things, it is easily covered up. Move one step closer to first than you need. This gives the player plenty of time to reach the bag, and a split second to glance at his feet. (Paul Konerko always glances at his feet. Watch him.)

Next, when the throw comes where is the player stretching? Is he moving toward the ball, or taking a step aimlessly? Moving toward the ball cuts off the distance of the throw and can easily be the difference in a close play.

Play 2: The pick off. This is a difficult play for righties, as they have to move the glove further for the tag. The trick is to catch the ball late, and move the mitt only a short distance. While the tag may not be sweeping, it results in a short stabbing tag. More coordination is required here, but it could make a pitcher's good pickoff move look great. Lefties have it easy. They are already catching close to the runner, and can make a nice swipe tag.

Play 3: Fielding a bunt. Not all that hard for a righty, except for making sure they don't hit the runner with the ball. The turn to the outside is easy and natural, and is quick. Even the least graceful of first baseman can handle this. This play can set a lefty apart. How natural does their fielding look? Do they force an underhand? are they positioning themselves before they field the ball? All important things to look for. Neyer's Pick:

1B -- Albert Pujols

I forgot, being a good fielder requires you to hit well. Shame on me. While Pujols may be above average at first, he is no where near a natural at the position. Look at him move to first. Quick and powerful enough to play a little off the bag, but he always looks at his feet. He is not a natural at the position. He is also, quite clumsy on fielding bunts. Basically he's clumsy in general. His exceptional baseball quickness makes up for a lot of faults he shows on the diamond. Is he a good first baseman? Sure, but he is not the best.

It almost seems unfair. Most players, even the greatest of them, have an Achilles' heel. But not Albert Pujols.

I would accept him on my team.

He runs well. He hits brilliantly. And his fielding? After playing some third base and some left field, Pujols finally settled in at first base in 2004, his fourth season.

Him being below average at two positions does not make him a good first baseman. It makes him quite the athlete. He has good range for a first baseman, but what does that really matter. Doesn't the second baseman take all the balls in the hole anyways?

Since then he's utterly dominated all first basemen in the sophisticated defensive metrics. Not coincidentally, he's the only four-time winner of a Fielding Bible Award.

Albert's 2009 UZR/150: 0.8. This is the stat Neyer said he was using. Again, I'm not saying Pujols is bad. Check out his 2007 numbers: 16.0. (These stats weigh heavily on player range, which isn't that important in a 1B)

My pick: Doug Meintkiewicz. Check out his UZR/150 numbers over the past few years. Consistently averaging 10+. You need more support? He sucked at hitting. While being good at hitting does not make you a good fielder, sucking at hitting and having an 11 year career means you were doing something right defensively. Why wouldn't the Red Sox spend an extra couple of million to pick up an average hitter in 2005, because Doug Meintkiewicz was a damn good fielder. Watch replays of Meintkiewicz moving around the bag; he was extremely graceful. His footwork was impeccable. He played a power position and hit only 66 career home runs. His career will never be duplicated. There will not be another awful hitting firstbaseman to stick around for 11 years.

Best Fielders

Hat tip to reader Chris for sending in this gem of a topic. I'll be doing a mini-FJM here. Rob Neyer had a fairly interesting piece, granted it was horribly written, about the Best/Worst Fielders of this decade. I've been debating doing something like this, mainly because I find baseball defense fascinating. Intricacies of positions always amaze me, and because of this, I will let you all suffer through my analysis. This being the end of 2009, we can all see how alluring it is to make best of the decade lists: Best music videos, best rappers, best celebrity sex tapes. Clearly the best defenders was coming.

Gold Glovers of the decade

Hopefully, you don't need to bat .300 and hit 30 homeruns to make this list. I will only bring you a few positions at a time, and also be giving my keys to each position. After a few posts of that, we will tackle Rob's worst of the decade section.

Let's assume that your job is to come up with a list of the five best-fielding shortstops in the major leagues.

Or you are a horribly dorky blog writer that finds this fun.

Just to narrow the field a bit, you decide to consider only those shortstops who started at least 120 games this past season. That's 17 shortstops … and 21,240 (and 1/3) innings.

That seems quite arbitrary.

Has anyone watched all 21,240 innings? Has anyone watched more than a small percentage of those 21,240 innings?

I'm guessing people associated with baseball. Like, I don't know, people who's job it is to write baseball columns. O, people like Rob Neyer, may watch a decent percentage of those innings.

And that's just the shortstops.

And that is a bad sentence and paragraph.

Anyone who says you can't judge fielders unless you see them play every day is essentially saying you can't really judge fielders at all, because nobody sees every fielder every day.

There are people who compile highlights of the best plays everyday. Then, they show these on programs such as Baseball Tonight, or if you are intelligent, MLB Network. If you pay even a little bit of attention, you notice the same people keep showing up. That can't be a coincidence.

So, we reject that notion.

He's so defiant. He needs an exclamation point here.

We believe that one can judge fielders with some confidence, with the help of statistics -- here, I've relied on Mitchel Lichtman's Ultimate Zone Rating

You've gained respect in my eyes, Rob.

-- and any other evidence at hand (including Gold Gloves).

You just lost that respect.

With all that in mind, here are our choices for the best defensive players of this decade:


I have no idea how you can judge one good defending pitcher from another. They get maybe 16 balls hit to them a year. They cover first sometimes, but besides being light on your feet and a little grace, there is nothing separating mediocre from great here. There are a few things you can do as a pitcher that puts you in a better position to field slow rollers up the middle. One being controlling your windup. Some guys, K-Rod (how frustrating is it that we can't get baseball clips on Youtube?), don't give a shit where they land, and would not ever be caught dead fielding a ground ball. Other guys like Mark Buerhle are great fielders because they are soft tossers who position themselves well after throwing the pitch. These guys pitch to contact and tend to be older pitchers (guys who have lost a little on their fastball).

The other big part of pitching defense is holding runners close. I've gone over this already, but it is absolutely important to mix up timing to the plate and vary throws to first. Another big thing is speed to the plate. This ensures the runners has the shortest amount of time possible to steal a base. Again, guys who excel at this tend to be soft tossers who pitch to contact.

What does the best fielding pitcher of the decade need to have then? 1) They need to be a soft tosser. 2) They need to be left handed (helps in picking people off). 3) They need to be old. (Note: I made this list before reading Rob's comments) enough to have lost everything their fastball once had. With that, lets introduce Rob's pick:

-- Kenny Rogers

Now retired, Rogers won Gold Gloves at the ages of 39, 40 and 41

Old, Check.

… which leads to an obvious question: How brilliant was he, when he wasn't ancient?

How is that the obvious question? I have the obvious answer, though, very mediocre. He consistently earned a 4-5 FIP, which has nothing to do with defense, except it measures how well he faced opponents offenses. Wait a second, that's the definition of defense. O well, lets just count how many gold gloves he won.

Well, he also won Gold Gloves when he was 35 and 37 … which leads to … Never mind.

I cheated, I read ahead.

Rogers was incredibly athletic after releasing the pitch,

Incredibly athletic, or great at positioning himself after the throw?

and the left-hander was also quite hard to run on.

Lefty check.

The truth is that he probably should have started winning Gold Gloves long before he hit his middle 30s.

Nope, because you have to be old and crafty to be a good defensive pitcher. That's the truth. You need to get over trying to throw fastballs past hitters. You need to focus on sound mechanics that leave you in a great fielding position. Also, this conversation starts and ends with Maddux. Watch his mechanics, flawless. He is in position to field as soon as he releases. Rob Neyer 0, Zach 1.

I did not realize I would be rambling this much. I will be back tomorrow with a breakdown of Catchers and possibly First Basemen.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Man Who Makes Sabermetricans Look Dumb

The big news around the Midwest this past week was obviously the Milton Bradley trade (I mean, who the fuck even knows if Boston and Philadelphia exist anymore after this weekend's snow?)  Cubs fans were particularly enthused to let MB go.  Or as they all refer to him, "That Piece of Shit."  Honestly, I don't know if I talked to one fan who did not at one point call Bradley a "Piece of Shit."  I just think it's kind of an uncreative nickname, if you ask me.

However, Cubs fans were not the only people fellating Jim Hendry for this week's move.  The Chicago area writers were also.  I could link to all of the articles relating to praise I speak of, but listen, I have a life, and I really don't need to be giving the Tribune and Sun Times any extra hits.

Of course, when you have two parties like Cubs fans and Chicago sports writers, generally considered to be two of the dumbest voices in sports behind Stephen A. Smith and Lou Holtz, praising a situation, you are going to have people against it.  Especially people who love Bradley's career .371 OBP.  Those people will write articles like this one, which I would normally agree with.  Fangraphs is good at using stats that matter like WAR, which is probably the most important of them all.

However, this time, Fangraphs, I have to say that you are wrong.

Listen, yes, Milton Bradley's OBP is unreal.  And in Texas, he put up a 4.5 WAR in only three-fourths of a season.  That's pretty sick.

But there in lies one of the problems with Bradley, he only lasted three-fourths of the season. 

In fact, when you look through his career, the most games he has ever played in one season is 141 when in Los Angeles.  After that, his past two seasons with 126 games in Texas and 124 in Chicago rank second and third on Bradley's list of most games played in a season.  Yikes.  Bradley problem number one - you have to have someone competent enough to replace him whenever he eventually goes down.

Problem number two - bad PR.  Sometimes when analyzing baseball moves, one has to keep in mind that teams are, in fact, businesses.  From time to time, you have to pay money and take a hit for your on the field product in order to keep the fanbase happy.  The positive PR that this trade has generated alone has to have made this deal worth it for the Cubs.  On the other hand, what the fuck are the Mariners doing?  Bradley will inevitably wind up at DH a lot in the AL.  Great move considering that their number one PR-generator will see less playing time now.  Have fun explaining that to the fanbase!

Problem number three - obviously these stats guys have not seen Bradley play.  The one problem with stats is that they do not show some of the intangible things in the game like momentum and team chemistry.  I know that statheads say these things do not exist, and for the most part, I agree in saying that baseball people overstate the importance of these things.  But Milton Bradley is the exception to this rule.  Remember when he threw the ball into the right field bleachers?  If they had been watching that game, they could have seen how that one error literally cost the Cubs that game.  I have never seen any player with the skill to single-handedly use one play like that to ruin a team's chances of winning an entire game.  Bradley is unreal, but like in a Ron Artest way.

In conclusion, I realize that I sound just like all of those Cubs fans and terrible sports writers without concrete evidence to back up my conclusions.  But trust me, as terrible as this post was, the Sabermetricians have Bradley all wrong. 

Now rip me apart, please.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pierre is Winding up to Throw, Duck!!!

...That throw ended up going 47 feet and bouncing 3 times before hitting me.

Thanks for showing up 2010 White Sox. It will be a jazz making fun of you for the next 10 months.

For all of you wondering how I felt about Juan "Suck" Pierre getting traded to the White Sox, lets just say I'm not all that thrilled about it. When word broke via text messages during work to me, I felt like crying. Then laughing. Then the inevitable dismay.

I feel my text messages following this debacle summed up the situation quite nicely:

My father: Juan Pierre to the Sox
Me: Consider 2010 a losing season for the White Sox
My father: but he's black and hispanic (I don't even think that is true, but you may see where I get this from)
My father: He hit .304 and 30 SB last year
Me: Don't think like that. He is awful he also had a .310 OBP.
Me: And has the worst arm ever to play baseball.

That was tame...

Me: I can't wait to see Pierre 2 hop the cutoff man every game next year.
Cooly: I think Williams thinks this is a fantasy draft in 2001.

Mr. Anonymous: White Sox got Juan Pierre. HAHAHAHAH (By the way the estimated amount of time Mr. Anonymous and I have made fun of Juan Pierre is nearing 10,000 minutes)
Me: Andruw and Pierre! How could this get any better?
Mr. Anonymous: I'm very excited! If this was 1998 you would be awesome.

Me: What the fuck are the White Sox doing?
Reader Chris: I saw the news earlier. I don't quite know what kenny is thinking? It is funny that those 2 are back together after they couldn't do anything with the Dodgers.

That lead to this, quite accurate mass text:

Me: Better arm: Juan Pierre or Jim Abbott's stump?

That's pretty much how I feel about this trade. I would rather have a guy with 1 arm playing left than Juan Pierre. This is absolutely the tip of the iceberg regarding my travels with young Juan Pierre. If you don't realize that 3 out of every 4 of my White Sox posts will have some negative comment about Pierre, then I'm glad you stumbled upon Start Wedman. Be prepared for a fascnating ride.

Seriously, this was an absolute punch to the gut. He is awful. I will get into why he is bad at baseball in later posts. Right now, I feel like crying. This is like if John Starks were to start coaching the Bulls, or Brett Favre joined the Vikings (Damn!), or if Kenny traded for Nick Punto. Shit lets not give Kenny any ideas, because how can you pass up a guy with no power (in a power position), that plays terrible defense, and gets on base twice a month?????

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Greatest Baseball Sporcle Quizzes

It's Friday and I don't feel like doing a ton of work, so I'm going to give you the greatest Baseball Sporcle quizzes. For those of you who do not know what Sporcle is... prepare to have the rest of your day wasted.

MLB Teams Last MVP Not only is this one fun, but it is a little tricky. Funniest moments: Putting Clemente for the Pirates. Being outraged Canseco was not the A's answer. Realizing the Indians have sucked for a long time. Realizing the Mets suck even worse. My score 22/30

Kenny Lofton Teams Easy until you realize they give you 1 minute. My score 8/11

.400 Hitters Um... Ted Williams???

HR Leaders of the 1990's Hilarious to laugh at steroids. Juan Gonzalez!!!!. My score 12/24

300 Win Pitchers
I guess I didn't realize how little I knew about pitchers. My score 9/24

Home Run Leaders A-Z
This is a good one. I'm ashamed I did not get C. Matty better get U. And if anyone gets Z, they are the coolest person alive. My score 11/25

2008 MLB Leaders This would have been much easier if it were 2009. 16/28

Real tough. I only got the Blue Jays because I read about him today. 14/30

MLB Managers Here is a hint, it's spelled Scoscia. 21/30

MLB Retired Jerseys Fun if you have time to kill. I did it awhile ago. I don't remember my score.

MLB Wins Leaders A-Z Again, I don't know pitching history. 7/25

WS Droughts Note #1. 8/10

Silver Slugger (Pitcher) This one's for you Big Z

Single Season HR Leaders **Cough** Steroids **Cough** 2001 Dodgers is easily the best. Followed closely by Brady Anderson. 43/53

Stolen Base Leaders Rickey's the Best! Rickey's the Best!

There are a ton more, too! Have fun. Sorry I ruined a completely useful Saturday.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Greatest Fanstasy Season Ever

While we are in the doom known as winter, I thought breaking down the greatest fantasy season of all time would be a fun way to pass the time. A stipulation on how I am going to select this: I will be analyzing the numbers based on today's average stat lines. Without this stipulation, the Triple Crown winners in history would easily end the argument. Seeing that most of the Triple Crown winners won with a whopping 30 home runs, this would not qualify as the greatest fantasy season ever. As a standard, we will be looking at the classic offensive fantasy stats: Runs/HR/RBI/SB/AVG.

Off the top of my head, there are a few candidates that stick out. Bonds in 2001, Big Mac/Sosa in 1998, Yaz in '67, Maris/Mantle in '61, or one of Stray-Rod's, Pujol's, or Manny's seasons? I'll take you through all of these seasons and a few more in hopes to find the greatest Fantasy season of All Time.

Roger Maris, 1961, He hit a lot of home runs
132 R/61 HR/ 142 RBI/0 SB/ .269 AVG. As far as runs, home runs, and RBI's go, that is just about as good as you are going to get. But that run of the mill Average, and 0 stolen bases. I would like to have a guy not completely tank two categories, I mean this is the greatest of all time. Next.

Mickey Mantle, 1956, A great all around year
132 R/ 54 HR/ 130 RBI/ 10 SB/ .353 AVG. Great Run total. Great HR total. Good RBI's. A few Stolen Bases with that Average! That is a stat line good enough to name a child after.

Carl Yastrzemski, 1967, The Triple Crown
112 R/ 44 HR/ 121 RBI/ 10 SB/ .326 AVG. Ok, those numbers are great. But would that win a Triple Crown today? No. No doubt that is a great stat line, and he would be drafted top 3 in any fantasy league with those numbers. But look at them next to Mantle's best season. Do they even compare? Honestly, I don't even think it was Yaz's best fantasy season. That may have came in 1970: 125/ 40/ 102/ 23/ .329. Better or close to the numbers in every category except RBI's.

Mark McGwire, 1998, Home Run King
130 R/ 70 HR/ 147 RBI/ 1 SB/ .299 AVG. Wow! What can 'roids do for you? That season blew Mantle's HR and RBI out of the water. But Mantle has a sizable lead in AVG and SB. Mantle Played that year in the OF, Big Mac at 1B. Both typical power positions, so no real edge there. So what makes more of a difference, HR/RBI or AVG/SB? The way I see it is All power hitters are going to put up sick HR/RBI numbers, there are very few guys that would match those AVG/SB numbers. Mantle is still our leader, but by a hair.

Sammy Sosa, 1998, Second Best Juicer
134 R/ 66 HR/ 158 RBI/ 18 SB/ .308 AVG. Is this a better line than Big Mac's? Yes! Mac has him in Home Runs, but Sammy has the edge in every other category. Does this mean that Sammy is our current leader as best fantasy season ever? Unfortunately, yes. I must correct this.

Alfonso Soriano, 2002, Second base 30/30 Season
128 R/ 39 HR/ 102 RBI/ 41 SB/ .300 AVG. Is it that much of a positive that Soriano played Second? I think it definitely puts him on this list, but since he wasn't the best statistical player that season, I don't think he can qualify.

Alex Rodriguez, 1998 and 2007, All around Greatness
1998: 123 R/ 42 HR/ 124 RBI/ 46 SB/ .310 AVG. At SS! This is a phenomenal season, at a position that may lack a little power. Was this better than Sosa's line in 1998? I don't think the edge in SB and the positional differences make up the difference in the power stats.
2007: 143 R/ 54 HR/ 156 RBI/ 24 SB/ .314 AVG. He gives up 12 home runs to 1998 Sammy, but is better or equal in every other stat, and he qualifies at 3B. I'm giving this one to A-Rod.

Nick Punto, 2007, All Around Suck
53 R/ 1 HR/ 25 RBI/ 16 SB/ .210 AVG. This was his line for an entire season!!!! And he kept his starting job!!!!

Albert Pujols, 2003, Quality Year
137 R/ 43 HR/ 124 RBI/ 5 SB/ .359 AVG. Quite the year, but better than A-Rod. No sir!

Barry Lamar, 2001, The Main Event
I hate Barry Bonds. But look at this line. 129 R/73 HR/ 137 RBI/ 13 SB/ .328 AVG. Yowza! Stray Rod wins Runs, RBI, and SB and Bonds wins Home Runs (by a lot) and average. Are 19 Home Runs better than 20 runs, 20 RBI and 10 steals? I don't think so.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Glossary of Terms

Well, its winter... Eff! While I pretty much loathe everything about winter, here are the absolute worst things: it's cold, it snows, snow is cold, snow makes getting to work a bitch, the ladies don't look as skeazy in the cold, the sun goes down at 4 (well before I get out of work), I often have to scrape my windshields, it's cold, and THERE IS NO BASEBALL!

Without a steady stream of baseball hitting me every two seconds, I've decided to define some of the sabermetric terms I try to throw around the blog (Remember I told you I'd give you kick ass songs to listen to while you read). I feel this will make me better and more knowledgeable, and allow you to grasp what the fuck I'm talking about. Warning: there will be no order to the terms I define, and people who actually know sabermetrics will scoff at me frequently. Well, I don't care. It's the internet. I can't hear your feeble scoffs!

On Base Percentage

You all should know OBP by now. Hell, if you are reading this site, you probably know me in some way, and there is no way I would ever talk to someone who does not know what OBP is. OBP is simple, and really the first stat anyone should have created. It's easy to, On Base Percentage. Simply the amount of times that a player reaches base versus the amount of times a player does not reach base.

Simple right? Then how did it take baseball telecasts the better part of a trillion years to show On Base Percentage on a players stat line. If anyone was actually thinking, this should easily have been the first stat ever created. A batter either gets reaches base or gets out. A pitcher either allows a runner on base or gets them out. THIS IS THE POINT OF BASEBALL!!! Now that it has become widely accepted as a great stat, there is really no point of arguing the merits of the stat.

Instead, the much more interesting thing to do with OBP is to analyze how a lineup should be formed using it. I've already gone into how Leadoff men should have high OBP's. I've already talked about how Alfonso Soriano shouldn't be allowed to sniff the leadoff spot. Another interesting subject may be, where to place your poor OBP guys. If you are a good team, you have one or two. If you are a bad team (Pirates) you have 7. If you are the Yankees you have no one that has a bad OBP.

Where should these good teams be stashing away their low OBP guys? I have two options. One of these qualifies as a huge Sabermetric fopaux, the other is the easy answer.

1) Bat your Nick Punto's of the world second and last. This seems to be the "old" way of thinking. Because with this logic, you are willing to put a guy in the 2 hole that doesn't need to get on base, but can move the runners along. Placing them in the 9 hole is also an easy answer, as this is where your worst hitter should go.

2) What I would do is put my Nick Punto's as far away from my good hitters as possible. This includes before them and after them. If you are batting your Nick Punto's in the 2 spot, they are right next to your best two hitters in a conventional lineup. If you bat them last, they are right before the guy you never want making an out, with implications being an extended inning is in jeopardy. If you have your Nick Punto batting last he gets out, which means if either one of the leadoff or 2 hold gets out, your inning is basically shot, with your best hitters coming up.

My idea would be to bat your best hitters 2 and 3, instead of 3 and 4. I would also put my Nick Punto in the 7 hole. This gets your lineup's horseshit as far away from Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau as possible. This means that your good players (Mauer and Morneau) will never have any RBI/Run scoring possibilities relying on Nick Punto to do something good.

I don't know if this segment was exactly what you were expecting, honestly it turned out nothing like I was picturing before I wrote it. I guess I'll just have to see where these take me in the future. And you are forced to read it.