Thursday, July 5, 2007

I Don't Mean To Rant...

But lately, a lot of things on the MLB diamond have gotten under my skin. Usually I'm mild-mannered and easy going, but this time, I have to pull out the Richard Nixon Mask and go shake a can of spray paint in front of the fools who raised my blood pressure.

Joe Torre

I don't know if you had heard, but he doesn't know how to run a bullpen. Baseball Prospectus' Christina Kahrl can attest, as can Steven Goldman. Torre did a horrendous job organizing his bullpen for the 2003 World Series, and he typically leans on and eventually savagely murders his most trusted relievers. The great closer Mariano Rivera has been a lucky survivor, but many others have fallen beneath the Blade of Joe.

One such victim is current Yankee reliever, Scott Proctor. In the spring of 2006, Proctor came to the realization that his straight 96 MPH fastball wasn't quite enough (crazy notion) and developed a nice curveball to go with it. Proctor made the Yankee roster, and did a damn good job for a while. His first 29.1 innings, a span of April 4th to May 20th, was very good. He whipped up an ERA of 1.84 and held opponents to a Kendall-esque OPS of .540. Torre quickly fell in love, and he began to use Proctor...and use Proctor...and use Proctor.

From May 23rd to July 2nd, a span of 35 team games, Proctor appeared in 20 (21.2 IP.) He was no longer turning hitters into Brad Ausmus, instead, they were transforming him into Jose Mesa. His ERA during that period was a touchdown, and the opponents OPS looks good on a corner outfielder (7.48 and .945, respectively.)

So, from April 4th to July 2nd, a span of 79 team games, Proctor had thrown an outrageous 50.1 innings. To compare, fellow reliever Kyle Farnsworth had thrown 37 innings from April 4th through July 4th. Torre was overworking Proctor, using him in games he had no business being in. Examples include pitching the 7th inning during a Yankee rout of the Boston Red Sox on June 5th; Nine days later, pitching 1.2 innings against the Indians with the Yankees ahead by 5; and finally, starting the ninth inning against the Mets with the Yankees up by 9 on July 2nd. Proctor was showing signs of becoming a valuable reliever, but his awkward usage problems led to some shellings (his first appearance after the Mets game was less than stellar, as he was knocked around for 3 runs in 2 innings. The Yankees were down by 15 runs when Proctor entered that game.)

Proctor went on to throw an incredible 102.1 innings that season, and they all came via relief. He set the Major League record for appearances in a season, and so far in 2007, he's on-pace to do it again.

But that story allows me to tell this story:

On June 26th, Proctor started the ninth inning of a tie game at Baltimore, on 2 days rest. Prior to the 26th, Proctor had thrown 41 innings (that's 38 appearances in 72 team games) and was doing a fairly good job not giving up runs, but he was hardly dominant. A 27-19 K to BB ratio backs that point up.

Anyway, the first batter, Corey Patterson (yes, that Corey Patterson) came up and drew a walk on 8 pitches. Next up, the perpetually underrated Brian Roberts singled after 7 pitches. That's 2 runners on, no outs (with the Yankees great closer Mariano Rivera, sitting in the bullpen, having not pitched since the 22nd.)

Proctor caught a break with the next batter, as Carlos Gomez popped out on a bunt attempt after a single pitch. So, 2 runners on, 1 out, 16 pitches, Rivera not even moving in the bullpen.

Nick Markakis was up next, and he walked on four straight.

Now, look here. After 20 pitches and 2 walks, isn't it clear to everyone that your guy out there doesn't have it? Especially considering it's a tie game in the Ninth, and even MORE so considering the greatest closer of all time is wasting away in the bullpen, on FOUR days rest. But, Torre left Proctor alone, and up came Ramon Hernandez.

After a somewhat grinding 7 pitch at-bat, Proctor missed inside with a 94 MPH fastball, and walked in the winning run.

Now, who's fault was that? Was it Proctor? Can you really blame a guy for not being on once in a while? Sure seems to me that you don't blame the foot soldiers, you blame the General. Your fault, Joe.

Zito and Pudge

I guess winning the big BBWAA awards entitles you to, not only, a piece of hardware, but also a big, huge plaque that makes everyone adore you. Listen, and this is no joke: Barry Zito was not the best pitcher in the American League in 2002. Pedro Martinez was. Listen, and this too is no joke: Pudge Rodriguez wasn't even close to being the best player in the AL in 99 (Derek Jeter was the best hitter, but quite frankly, Pedro deserved that award too.)

During the 2006 off-season, most pundits (read: idiots) were declaring Barry Zito the premier arm on the market (Matsuzaka anyone?) and remarking that he could change a franchise. Well, the Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox apparently missed that memo, as they all passed on the lefty. But the San Francisco Giants caught that drift, and they swooped up Zito, signing him to the largest contract ever given to a pitcher. The deal (7 years/$126M ((2007-13)), plus 2014 club option) was outrageous, and critics, such as Baseball Prospectus' Joe Sheehan and Christina Kahrl, and former BPer and current writer Keith Law, quickly described how awful the deal was.

Zito's highest K/9 was a meager 7.9 during his 2001 year. That's hardly dominant, but Zito had tended to keep his walks down (3.2 BB/9 in 2001, his best K to BB year.) Ever since 2001, Zito has never went higher than a 7 K/9, and his walk rate has continually rose. I don't know about you, but I think I could find a better way to spend my 126 Million dollars.

Now, on to Pudge. The people (you can read that as idiots too, honestly) voted Rodriguez to start in the 2007 All Star Game over Jorge Posada and Victor Martinez. I have to wonder, do most people even consider looking at stats?

Pudge's Line: .279/.291/.439
Posada's Line: .331/.403/.515
Martinez's Line: .324/.387/.538

I feel saddened that someone would really feel that Pudge has been superior to Posada or Martinez overall. Anyone, no matter how amazing defensively (Pudge is still good, but he's no longer awe-inspiring behind the plate) shouldn't be given 700 PA's if he can't reach base in at least 30% of his Plate Appearances. Sure, that player works well as a back up, but allowing a player to take that many PAs when his OBP is at least 50 points below being just decent, that kind of move is indefensible by my account.

I'm not here to tout the case of Posada, because I know he's on a batting average streak and that's drawing up his OBP to .403. Martinez is the best hitting catcher in the game, and he should be recognized as such. To even think to include Pudge in that discussion is pointless, because you cannot back it up. Whether it be EqA, or VORP, Pudge simply isn't in the same league anymore.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Prospect Mania!

Every February, baseball fans go through a serious withdrawal. Anything little thing can attract the attention of the masses, and Prospectdom is no different. Every fan gets all giddy about his or her favorite team's top prospect (unless you live in the Diego or your a Nat-a-holic). Royals fans (ha!) were excited about Alex Gordon, Yankee fans (Oh yes, I was and still am) were drunk off of Hughes, and Tigers fans were jumpin' for joy over their top arm Andrew Miller and stud outfielder Cameron Maybin.

Anyway, a lot of the top prospects in baseball have made their Major League debuts. I've decided to go over to Baseball Prospectus and use their list of the Top 100 Prospects in baseball for this article. I took the top 10 prospects who are currently at the Major League level, and decided to evaluate them.

The list...

1. Alex Gordon, 3B-Kansas City Royals
2. Phil Hughes, SP-New York Yankees
3. Delmon Young, OF-Tampa Bay Devil Rays
4. Homer Bailey, SP-Cincinnati Reds
5. Tim Lincecum, SP-San Francisco Giants (actually 6th)
6. Chris Young, OF-Arizona Diamondbacks (8th)
7. Ryan Braun, 3B-Milwaukee Brewers (12th)
8. Yovani Gallardo, SP-Milwaukee Brewers (14th)
9. Andrew Miller, SP-Detroit Tigers (17th)
10. Troy Tulowitzki, SS-Colorado Rockies (24th)

(Note...nearly every single case I'm making here should be taken with a grain of salt, due to Sample Size concerns.)

So...without further adieu...(note...glossary of terms at the bottom)

Alex Gordon-Third Base-Kansas City Royals
296 PA .235/.325/.373 .242 EqA 1.5 VORP -2 FRAA

I doubt this is what Kevin Goldstein envisioned for Gordon when he constructed his Top 100 list. Gordon was an almost unanimous number one across the country, with only Daisuke Matsuzaka and Delmon Young being the one's to surmount him. Gordon's line at Wichita was a fantastic .325/.427/.588, and with that came a .312 EqA and an impressive 65 runs over replacement level. However, his Equivalent line at AA (.302/.386/.538) was good, but not best prospect in baseball good. It's entirely possible (and quite likely) that Gordon will be a good player(with a great peak,) but I doubt his career will end being more valuable than someone like Jay Bruce, who is a extremely good candidate to be the best prospect come 2008.

Phil Hughes-Starting Pitcher-New York Yankees
10.7 IP, 9.28 K/9, 3.38 BB/9, 5.91 H/9, 3.38 ERA

Okay, to be fair, ten innings is certainly not enough to make a fair evaluation. But still, something can at least be learned from it. During Hughes' debut at The Stadium against the Blue Jays, Hughes gave up quite a few hits in his 4.1 innings, but he still managed to strike out 5 and only walk one. That's a very nice sign from a young pitcher. Everyone knows what happened in the next start, as Hughes was baffling the Rangers, throwing a no-hitter up until his hamstring barked. During the rehab for the hamstring injury, Hughes suffered a Grade 3 Ankle Sprain, delaying his return until at least August. Some (such as At Home Plate's Justin Zeth) have suggested that it would be best for Hughes if he were to take the year off, to combat the threat of a cascade injury. The Yankees appear to be ignoring said theory, and are planning on having #65 back in mid-August.

Delmon Young-Right Fielder-Tampa Bay Devil Rays
323 PA .278/.310/.415 .252 EqA 5.6 VORP -4 FRAA

The one knock on Delmon Young, other than his attitude (Dude chucked a bat at an umpire!) was that he'll swing at anything in his line of vision. His walk rate is a terrifying .4%, and it appears that Major League pitchers have taken notice. Young's still hitting what comes over the plate (9 Home Runs) but all to often he's simply swinging and missing (61 Strikeouts in 323 ABs.) Young's arm is fantastic, as advertised, but he's not too slick in the field, measuring as below-average by FRAA's count. Chances are, Young will get hot during the Second half, but it's quite possible that Delmon Young is growing up to be the prototypical streaky hitter. He'll adjust to the pitching, the pitching will adjust to him, and so forth. Alfonso Soriano could end up being a decent comp, but minus the speed.

Homer Bailey-Starting Pitcher-Cincinnati Reds
19.7 IP, 3.66 K/9, 6.41 BB/9, 9.15 H/9, 6.41 ERA

Out of all the slow starts, this one is the most troubling for me. Hailed as the next great Texas power pitcher, Bailey is doing the exact opposite of what you want. His K rate has dropped by 7, his walk rate has tripled, and he's giving up a number of more hits than he previously had. Now, of course, it's possible that Bailey needs to adjust to Major League hitting. But, and this why TINSTAAPP was developed, Bailey fits the mold perfectly of the kid who could simply blow away lesser competition with a low 90s fastball and a decent curve. Major League hitters have seen that before, and unless Bailey learns and seriously adjusts, he'll end up alongside Elmer Dessens in Reds lore.

Tim Lincecum-Starting Pitcher-San Francisco Giants
59.0 IP, 9.46 K/9, 4.42 BB/9, 7.47 H/9, 5.19 ERA

Oh, how I love Tiny Tim. Lincecum, drafted in 2006 out of Washington, fell to the tenth pick where the Giants selected him. Teams ignored the 14 strike outs per 9 innings (he led Division 1-A in strikeouts and strikeouts/9) and decided to focus on his 6 foot 170 pound build, and how easily he could "break down". Oops. Ignore the kid's ERA for a second, and just look at his per/9 stats. 9.46 Strikeouts every 9 innings is fantastic (only .04 behind Johan friggin' Santana!), 7.47 H/9 is a fine number (especially given the swiss-cheese esque defense behind him.) Now, admittedly, the walks are troubling, and they will most likely come down to about a 3.5 figure. The ERA is a direct result of having an abysmal defense behind him, as the hit rate isn't bad. He is giving up a fair amount of home runs (.92 HR/9) but still, Lincecum's performance hasn't garnered a 5.19 ERA.

Chris Young-Center Field-Arizona Diamondbacks
273 PA .241/.279/.431 .246 EqA 3.9 VORP -9 FRAA

One of Kevin Goldstein's favorite players, Chris B. Young (using the "B" to avoid confusion with the Padres right-hander who shares his name) was supposed to step in and provide at least some pop and decent speed. No one ever guaranteed Young would hit .300...and it appears those people were correct. Young has simply not been effective at the plate. His .241 batting average has dragged his OBP into Jeff Francouer territory, which is by no means a compliment. He's still slugging at an okay clip, which is a good sign. Young's problems appear to be directly tied to his fairly low .259 BABIP, and when that comes up to about .290, so will the average and OBP. One thing that the un-lucky BABIP cannot effect is his defense, which is at this point, "precisely replacement."

Ryan Braun-Third Base-Milwaukee Brewers
132 PA .328/.371/.605 .326 EqA 16.5 VORP 0 FRAA

Out of all the hitters I'm going over today, Ryan Braun has been the most successful. Most people thought Ryan Braun would be, essentially, Prince Fielder redux. Braun always hit for a lot of power in the minor leagues, but his .328 average appears to be the result of a hot streak (and a .388 BABIP.) His highest minor league BA was .355 at Single A (albeit in 152 at-bats and a plus .400 BABIP.) His defense has been better than expected (by that I mean, he's not beyond-awful) which is good because Fielder couldn't play another position on the diamond. Braun will cool down, but he's still probably good to slug .550, and that's pretty good, especially with Fielder having his best season yet.

Yovani Gallardo-Starting Pitcher-Milwaukee Brewers
13.3 IP, 8.10 K/9, 3.38 BB/9, 6.08 H/9, 2.70 ERA

First off, Gallardo's case should have the words Sample Size stamped on it. But still, he's looked good. Yovani (pronounced Yo-vaughn-ee) Gallardo (guy-air-dough,) the Brew Crew's top prospect arm, was called up after butchering Triple-A (12.75 K/9, 2.90 ERA in 77.7 IP) and being touted as the Fourth Best Pitcher not in the big leagues (The four best pitching prospects were generally considered to be Hughes-Lincecum-Bailey-Gallardo, in almost any order.) The Brewers should be pleased with Gallardo, as he's looked good, like a "Young Mike Mussina" as ESPN's Tim Kurkjian put it. If I were the Brewers, I'd be very pleased if Yovani Gallardo became a pitcher of that level of quality. With current ace Ben Sheets showing signs of decline (a steep drop in K/9,) it's possible that Gallardo could be the Brewers best pitcher in 2008.

Andrew Miller-Starting Pitcher-Detroit Tigers
23.3 IP, 5.79 K/9, 4.24 BB/9, 7.71 H/9, 2.70 ERA

Lauded as the next Randy Johnson by scouts, Andrew Miller was considered the best pitching prospect in the 2006 First Entry Draft, but fell to 6th and the Tigers due to sign ability concerns. He coasted through a few innings at Single-A before getting the call up and debuting at Yankee Stadium (perfect inning.) Miller hasn't sparkled so far in the Bigs, he's been a recipient of luck, as he's allowing too many outs to come via balls in play. However, Miller's stuff and the 23 IP suggest that he'll end up raising the K/9 quite a bit if he stays at Comerica Park the rest of the year. A rotation of Bonderman-Verlander-Miller could be as good as the Braves' Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz trio was in the 90s.

Troy Tulowitzki-Short Stop-Colorado Rockies
318 PA, .277/.347/.426 .261 EqA 10.1 VORP 10 FRAA

Troy Tulowitzki has been pretty good. For a short stop, especially a 22 year old, he's hitting pretty well. His batting average is okay, OBP isn't spectacular but isn't a black hole, and he has a mediocre amount of power. Coors Field is surely helping the numbers, so I guess that dims the optimism bulb just a tick. But if there's one thing Tulowitzki does really well, it's play defense. He's currently 10 runs above average at the most important defensive position, and that in of itself is worth a roster spot. Tulowitzki is only 22, and should improve in all parts of his game as he matures. But right now, Tulowitzki is hitting well for a short stop, and when you toss in the awesome defense, Tulowitzki has a sparkling 3.5 WARP1.

So there you have evaluation of the top prospects playing in the Bigs. Sometime in August I'll flip open this page, and see if I was as dumb as everyone thinks.

Glossary of Terms

VORP: Value Over Replacement Player. The number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player at the same position would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances. VORP scores do not consider the quality of a player's defense.

EqA: Equivalent Average. A measure of total offensive value per out, with corrections for league offensive level, home park, and team pitching. EQA considers batting as well as baserunning, but not the value of a position player's defense. The EqA adjusted for all-time also has a correction for league difficulty. The scale is deliberately set to approximate that of batting average. League average EqA is always equal to .260. EqA is derived from Raw EqA, which is (H + TB + 1.5*(BB + HBP + SB) + SH + SF) divided by (AB + BB + HBP + SH + SF + CS + SB). REqA is then normalized to account for league difficulty and scale to create EqA.

FRAA: Fielding Runs Above Average.

K/9: Strikeouts Per Nine Innings

BB/9: Walks Per Nine Innings

H/9: Hits Per Nine Innings

WARP1: Wins Above Replacement Player, level 1. The number of wins this player contributed, above what a replacement level hitter, fielder, and pitcher would have done, with adjustments only for within the season. It should be noted that a team which is at replacement level in all three of batting, pitching, and fielding will be an extraordinarily bad team, on the order of 20-25 wins in a 162-game season.

BABIP: Batting Average on balls put into play. A pitcher's average on batted balls ending a plate appearance, excluding home runs. Based on the research of Voros McCracken and others, BABIP is mostly a function of a pitcher's defense and luck, rather than persistent skill. Thus, pitchers with abnormally high or low BABIPs are good bets to see their performances regress to the mean. A typical BABIP is about .290.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Just Some Congratulations

Way To Go, Sammy.

Hopefully you and your old buddy Mark get the recognition you deserve.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Cy Young Time!!!

Now that I've devoured the MVP debates (albeit in June), it's on to the hurlers. The usual candidates aren't really in the discussion this year, expect for one guy (he's been...oh the best pitcher in baseball since 2003.) The NL appears to be a different story this year, with 2005 NL Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter hurt, Dontrelle Willis being mediocre, and other regulars such as 2006 Champ Brandon Webb and Roy Oswalt being good, but not spectacular. However, one old-timer is making a hell of a case for being the NL's best pitcher so far.

The NL race is really only between three guys (so far.) Padres right hander Jake Peavy, Dodgers right hander Brad Penny and (wait for it...wait for it...) D-Backs lefty Randy Johnson.

No joke.

Among all pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched (to remove relievers) who has the highest K/9?

A. Johan Santana
B. Jake Peavy
C. Felix Hernandez
D. Randy Johnson

If you chose "D", you'd be correct. Johnson appears to be thriving in the weaker NL (the AL's better, but the gap is closing) after not being nearly as dominant (he was good last year but very un-lucky) in the AL for two years.

Now, quickly...who leads the NL in VORP?

It's not Johnson (his weak innings pitched total reduces him to 12.3), it's Peavy. Who's second? Penny.

Who leads the NL in Park-Adjusted Runs Allowed? Peavy. Second? Penny.

Now, who do you think has the two lowest HR/9 rates in the NL? Peavy and Penny. (Both are incredibly low and will not stay at their current rates of .10 for Peavy and .20 for Penny.)

If Johnson had about 40 more innings pitched, he'd probably be the favorite. However, he just went on the DL with a back injury (after off-season back surgery! Good News!) and is probably un-reliable to hit 150 IP.

My money, at this point and time, is on Peavy. His K rate is very solid, his BABIP is reasonable, and although the homers are gonna come up, it'd put his ERA at around 3.25 or so, and that's pretty good.

Okay, now to the AL.

Tell me if you've heard this before, but Johan Santana is the AL's best pitcher. Better than Haren. Better than Sabathia. Bedard is closer than you'd think, but I still like Johan.

Here's why:

1. Phenomenal K rate. After his 9.25 K rate in 2005 and 9.44 last year, his K/9 has jumped up to 10.16 this year. However, his BB/9 and HR/9 are also up. Could be nothing, but maybe Santana is going for the K more than he used to. Also, his G/F (Ground out to fly out) ratio is down.

2. Fantastic RA. Among AL pitchers with at least 50 IP, Santana ranks 14th with a 3.48 mark. Now, that in of itself isn't too stellar. But, considering the high HR rate, both are likely to come down. It'll end up in a Santana-esque range.

3. H/9. Santana is 7th in the AL, allowing 7.45 hits per 9 innings. That's a good mark, right in line with his 2 previous marks.

Now, on to Bedard. He's possibly Leo Mazzone's only shining star during his Baltimore tenure so far. He's leading the AL in K/9 (10.72), has a very nice 2.97 BB/9 rate (which means he has about a 4 K to BB ratio...tasty.) A solid H/9 rate of 8.33 and a homer an inning HR/9 rate rounds out the rate stats.

Now, why am I dismissing Dan Haren and John Lackey? Haren and Lackey are 1-2 in VORP, but Haren sports a .215 BABIP and Lackey's 6.90 K/9 rate makes their RAs (2.25 and 3.01) unreliable, and likely to go up. However, if someone did give the nod to Haren or Lackey, it wouldn't be grand theft.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Dunn Dilemma

Rumor has it that the Cincinnati Reds are looking to deal their lefty slugger Adam Dunn. Dunn's the prototypical Three True Outcomes player, the kind of guy who hits a homer, walks or strikes out nearly 50% of the time. That tends to lead to a player not aging well, and that appears to be the case for Dunn. But let's ignore that for a second.

Why do the Reds want to deal Dunn?

1) They're out of contention. At 26-42, (but with a Pythagorean 30-37) the Reds have been unlucky, but still not particularly good. With top pitchers Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo and newly called up Homer Bailey locked up for 4, 4, and 6 years respectively, the Reds have a decent starting pitching core for the next few years. However, their best hitter this year, Ken Griffey Jr, is 37 years old and is, at this point, a near lock to top out at 400 ABs every year. Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Josh Hamilton and potentially Edwin Encarnacion form another decent core up the middle.

Still, even with average production from the rest of the spots in the lineup and rotation (a stretch), and above-average production from the "core" (Arroyo won't be a good starter in 3 years, Bailey could be a hit or miss guy, and some in the Reds organization consider Encarnacion a failure at this point), that's not necessarily a winner, even in the NL Central. The Brewers appear to have a decent team in line for the next few years, and the Cubs might be okay for a little while, depending on how Carlos Zambrano decides to get his money, either from the Cubs or from some other team.

2) The Fans and the Media in Cincy couldn't hate him anymore. Dunn's not a particularly alluring player. He's a serious defensive liability (5 runs below replacement in left field so far in 2007), strikes out a ton (he set the season record for K's in 04, and nearly bested it in 06), and his general "ogre-like" appearance and movements leave a bad taste in the mouths of many people. That's not to say he hasn't been a good player.

3) He's entering decline. Dunn was supposed to be a big ole' slugging machine, and for a while, it looked like he was entering a Jason Giambi-esque career path. His 2004 batting line was tremendous (.266/.388/.569, .316 EqA, 53.4 VORP, 6.5 WARP1, ) especially considering it was his age 24 year. Most immediately suspected he would continue to grow as a hitter, although, even in 2004, he was a terrible fielder (5 runs below replacement level in left). Austin Kearns was long considered the Reds premier hitting prospect, but after the 2004 season, Dunn became the best hitter on the team (even more evidenced by GM Wayne Krivsky's God-Awful 2006 trade with the Nationals, in which he sent Kearns and short-stop Felipe Lopez for a bag of balls, 2 bad arms and a an old short-stop who never could hit. One of the prospects is doing decently well at single A Dayton, however. Still, the trade was a tremendous bomb for the Reds.)

All seemed to be well for Dunn. According to, after his age 24 season, his most similar hitter up to that point was Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson. Although the strike-outs were bad, he was walking at a .16 clip, and the .388 On-Base Percentage was very good.

Then 2005 rolled around. Although not a terrible year, it was the start of the decline, although it went un-noticed by the stat-heads. His line (.247/.387/.540, .308 EqA, 45.0 VORP, 6.5 WARP1) was good, but it did qualify as a regression (although his defense improved to the tune of 2 runs above replacement at first and in left, explaining the same number of wins provided)

The future wasn't bleak by any stretch for Dunn after 2005 though. His BR comp after 2005 was Darryl Strawberry. That's admittedly not Reggie Jackson, but it's also not the end of the world. However, 2006 was a disaster.

Even though the Reds hung around until the bitter end of 2006, they did with a much regressed Adam Dunn. Dunn's batting line collapsed (.234/.365/.490, .282 EqA, 23.5 VORP, 3.6 WARP1) and he fell from being a dominant slugger to a mediocre one, especially for a left-fielder (he finished 14th in VORP in 2006 for all left-fielders with at least 300 PAs.) His defense also regressed back to his normal means (5 runs beneath replacement in left.)

One key thing to note about his on-base percentages in 05 and 06 (.387 and .365) are hugely dependant on his batting averages (.247 in 05 and .234 in 06). His walk rates in those two years? The exact same .16. His BABIPs? .281 and .279.

So, what does that mean? For all accounts and purposes, it looks like Dunn's 2004 was an outlier (he had a somewhat fluky .321 BABIP) and that his normal career path was never Jason Giambi or Reggie Jackson.

Dunn's becoming nothing more than a Matt Stairs esque player. He was born to play DH, but if his slugging percentage dips beneath .500 again, I'm not sure how valuable that is.

So, what should the Reds do? It appears that the team missed the boat in the off-season of 2004. Rumors were abundant that the Reds were shopping Dunn, but they bit in to the belief that Dunn was improving, and kept him. Now it appears that Dunn's went from an elite hitter to a roughly mediocre one. Add in his way below average speed and defensive ability, and Dunn's got limited trade value.

Some people believe that the Reds have hurt Dunn's progression. They have tried rigorously to cut down his strike outs, and in the process they may have permanently damaged his approach at the plate. That's a wound not easily healed, and the Reds probably aren't the place for him to re-learn things.

If a team such as the Yankees called and offered up a pair of pitchers like Tyler Clippard and Ian Kennedy (2 young arms that have limited ceilings,) it would behoove the Reds to pull the trigger. The days of Dunn being worth the moon are over. He won't be worth the money he'll make in 2008.

(Special Thanks to Justin, who helped me research the topic!!!)

Glossary of Terms

VORP: Value Over Replacement Player. The number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player at the same position would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances. VORP scores do not consider the quality of a player's defense.

EqA: Equivalent Average. A measure of total offensive value per out, with corrections for league offensive level, home park, and team pitching. EQA considers batting as well as baserunning, but not the value of a position player's defense. The EqA adjusted for all-time also has a correction for league difficulty. The scale is deliberately set to approximate that of batting average. League average EqA is always equal to .260. EqA is derived from Raw EqA, which is (H + TB + 1.5*(BB + HBP + SB) + SH + SF) divided by (AB + BB + HBP + SH + SF + CS + SB). REqA is then normalized to account for league difficulty and scale to create EqA.

WARP1: Wins Above Replacement Player, level 1. The number of wins this player contributed, above what a replacement level hitter, fielder, and pitcher would have done, with adjustments only for within the season. It should be noted that a team which is at replacement level in all three of batting, pitching, and fielding will be an extraordinarily bad team, on the order of 20-25 wins in a 162-game season.

(Definitions from the Glossary)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Who's The AL MVP? (Edited for the Senior Circuit!)

In April, it seemed rather clear that Alex Rodriguez was on his way to his 3rd AL MVP. 14 Homers. 34 RBI. 2 Walk Off Home Runs. No one could touch him.

In May, he slumped to the tune of about a .750 OPS, and someone passed him in VORP and in OPS.

Hello, Mr. Ordonez! Where have ye been?

That's right folks, Magglio Ordonez is trucking along to the tune of a .354 EQA and a league-leading 47.3 VORP. His 1.104 OPS, is 2nd in the AL behind Rodriguez.

So, it appears this whole MVP thing is turning into a quagmire! Who to chose?

Well, it's not like Rodriguez has simply quit. His own .344 EQA, 45.5 VORP and 1.110 OPS are all quite good. Also, his WARP1 is 5.1, besting Ordonez's 4.4. (WARP1 takes into account defense...Rodriguez is 2 runs above average at Third, Ordonez is 3 below average in Right.)

But, there's one key teeny-tiny little stat that should be considered. It's called BABIP. It means, in layman's terms, the percentage of balls put in play that turn into hits. Typical averages are around .280, and anything drastically lower or higher can usually point towards a regression to the mean.

Magglio Ordonez's 2007 BABIP: .383
Alex Rodriguez's 2007 BABIP: .306

Looks like Rodriguez is getting a few lucky bounces, while Ordonez is about 70 points higher than normal. He isn't likely to stay at .383 and when it drops, so will the Batting Average, (his own league-leading .371 average will end up around .300, and with it the VORP, EQA and OPS.)

So, if I voted today, my vote would have to go to Ordonez. But chances are, Magglio will regress, and Rodriguez will end up challenged by a superior hitter, one like Travis Hafner or Vladimir Guerrero.

Ok, on the to Senior Circuit folks.

If you watch ESPN, the first name that will pop into your head when someone says "NL MVP" is the new face of the Mets, Jose Reyes.

I can't say I'd disagree too much with that. The NL has a bunch of really good players so far, but no A-Rod type performance that sets someone apart.

Here are your NL leaders in VORP as of June 18th:

1. Matt Holliday- 35. 1
2. Miguel Cabrera- 34.4
3. Chase Utley- 32.9
4. Jose Reyes- 32.1
5. Hanley Ramirez- 31.2

Difference between #1 and #5? 3.9. That's incredibly close. Now, the NL Leaders in OPS:

1. Barry Bonds- 1.073
2. Matt Holliday- 1.015
3. Miguel Cabrera- 1.013
4. Prince Fielder- 1.011
5. Chase Utley- .969

Still incredibly close, at least between #1-#4. A familiar face fills the first position, and the Prince fills the 4 hole.

Matt Holliday is 1st in VORP and 2nd in OPS (with a .320 EqA and a 4.3 WARP1). However, Holliday's BABIP is incredible (.409) and therefore almost guaranteed to drop about 50 points (his career BABIP is .344) and with that most of his rate stats. Still, a 60 VORP year is well within his grasp.

Reyes and fellow young stud short-stop Hanley Ramirez nearly cancel one another out. 32.1 (Reyes) vs 31.2 (Ramirez) in VORP scores. .861 OPS vs .879 OPS. .306 vs .311 in EQA. 4.1 vs 3.4 in WARP1.

I can't really see a winner in that debate, so we'll move on to who I think has been the premier player in the NL this year (so far)...

Chase Utley.

Yep, Chase is the best player in the NL right now. His EqA is a fantastic .322, and his WARP1 is an incredible 5.3 (he's already provided the Phils with 5 wins, and it's June? Wha-what?) His BABIP is 2o points higher than normal, but this could end being Utley's career year.

(Note: this is all subject to change when Phat Albert reclaims his throne as the best player in baseball.)

The Cy-Young discussion will begin later this week!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Move Over Brad Ausmus!

Your no longer the worst catcher in baseball! It's time for the Jason Kendall Watch!

Through June 13th, here is Jason Kendall's batting line:

.199/.240./.212 -16.2 VORP with a stunning .151 EQA.

He would have to bump all of his slash stats up at least 50 points to meet his 10th Percentile PECOTA Projection (.238/.309/.286).

Here's hopin you do it Jason!

Take That Raccoon Lodge!

Way to go Billy Beane!

A Worthy Cause

Green Day recently released their newest single since the kinda-sorta failure "Jesus Of Suburbia", entitled Working Class Hero. It's a re-hash of a John Lennon cult-classic, but the song itself isn't the story.

This Is

Is there anything better to support?

The Introduction

Hello all! I am Brk, the ruler of these here parts! Welcome to my blog, where I will post a lot of different things. Baseball is my passion, and therefore I will often post my thoughts on matters concerning the Yankees (I love 'em, so I guess I better duck and cover), SABRmetric endeavors, the idiocy of numerous journalists, announcers and fans, and a FireJoeMorgan esque look at some of my most "entertaining" conversations regarding the sport.

Baseball isn't all I will write about though. I am a cook at a local diner, so I'll probably give you something about that. I will write about political things, and generally just stuff that gets me all riled up.

Should be fun.

I hope you enjoy the ride.