Author Archive

On Underrated and Overrated Players

There’s been some recent discussion in comments on these pages, particularly those involving the Circle of Greats, about underrated and overrated players.  I don’t consider myself any more qualified to determine how individual players are “rated” than anyone else, but a few years ago on my personal blog, I tried to take an objective approach to this question.  I concluded that, from 2009 through early 2011, Michael Bourn was the game’s most underrated player and Carlos Lee was its most overrated.

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Playing for the Tie

Last night in St. Pete, the Red Sox trailed the Rays, 4-3 in the top of the ninth.  Fernando Rodney opened the frame with six balls in seven pitches, walking Will Middlebrooks (who gave way to pinch runner Xander Bogaerts), and falling behind Jacoby Ellsbury, who then blooped a single into shallow left.

Read on for more and to weigh in on John Farrell’s strategy.

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Who Would Hit the Most Home Runs in 2013?

Dalton joined me for lunch a few weeks ago in the land of lobster and oversized novelty boots.  We got to talking about Barry Bonds, offensive environments, and asterisks.  Both of us are irked by fans willing to completely ignore individual accomplishments based on single factors like PEDs or Coors Field.

Rather than removing these numbers from history with asterisks, official or personal, the thinking fan, we agreed, has an obligation to adjust certain individual accomplishments for context.  Roger Maris had eight more games in which to hit his 61 homers than Babe Ruth got to hit his 60.  Mark McGwire took 3,500 CCs more androstenedione than Maris in hitting his 70.  Barry Bonds got to play six more games in Coors Field than McGwire when he hit his 70 (but also played 78 more in San Francisco).  While some of these factors are more difficult to control for, we should be able to determine who hit the most home runs relative to his peers.

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My Take on ARod and Steroids

…just kidding.

Instead, how about a quick look at the effects of yesterday’s suspensions on the 2013 baseball season?  Seven players who were on major league rosters as of Sunday were suspended for 50 games each.  After the jump, we’ll look at those players, their year-to-date WAR (per baseball-reference), and their teams’ positions in the standings as of this morning.  In ascending order of potential playoff race impact:

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Balancing the Schedule

It seems like it took 56 to 60 percent of our energy to get there, but we’re finally halfway through the 2013 baseball season.  Perhaps the most fascinating development of the first “half” is the dominance of the AL East, with four teams playing at least .537 baseball, which equates to 87 wins over a full season.  Only eight teams outside the division, and none in the NL West, have won as many games as the fourth-place Yankees.  To top it all off, the team in fifth place is the team many of us expected to win the division.

While this would be a remarkable development taken at face value, it’s even more astonishing when one considers the imbalance in MLB’s schedule.  Those five AL East teams have played 44 percent of their games against each other, obviously breaking even in those games, while compiling a 158-112 record against all other teams.  Essentially, the AL East is a 95-win team when playing outside the conference.

After the jump, we’ll take a look at what balancing the schedule might look like based on early returns from 2013. Read the rest of this entry

What Can Nerds Learn From Wedgies?

Yesterday, Mariners Manager Eric Wedge blamed sabermetrics, “for lack of a better term”, for Dustin Ackley’s failure to perform at the major league level.  From the linked mlb.com piece (skip to the bottom to read it yourself):

“It’s the new generation. It’s all this sabermetrics stuff, for lack of a better term, you know what I mean?” Wedge said. “People who haven’t played since they were 9 years old think they have it figured out. It gets in these kids’ heads.” Read the rest of this entry

Glavine vs. Smoltz

Tom Glavine and John Smoltz were born a year apart and made their Major League debuts for the Braves a year apart.  They were teammates in Atlanta from 1988 through 2002, went their separate ways, and then retired a year apart.  They’ll hit the Hall of Fame ballot a year apart, and should both sail into the Hall, possibly in the same year, though it seems both more likely and more fitting that they’ll be inducted a year apart.

With the exception of the rotations Bobby Cox set every April and most Octobers for the fifteen years they spent together, Glavine and Smoltz have rarely been pitted against each other.  It looks like Glavine’s about to be inducted into the Circle of Greats this week.  Could Smoltz be right behind?  Should Smoltz make the Circle before Glavine does?  Let’s take a look at their respective accomplishments after the jump.

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Opening Day Starters

Throughout the winter months, this site has been primarily devoted to history.  We’ve dissected Hall of Fame cases, debated the relative merits of Circle of Greats candidates, and mulled over the value of the stats we use to measure value.  With meaningful baseball on the docket for tomorrow, let’s get back to the present.

Thirty men will take the mound in their teams’ first tilts of 2013, each representing said team’s greatest hope.  Someday we’ll dissect the Hall cases of eight to twelve of these guys, making sure to properly adjust for parks and eras and defenses.  But tomorrow is not about objective analysis and advanced metrics- it’s about baseball.  Let’s celebrate (after the jump) by slicing and dicing the 30 opening day starters by their rankings in a few categories, some more meaningful than others.

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Hall of Fame Backlog: Have We Been Here Before?

It’s pretty obvious that there was a lot of talent at the top of the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot.  With Kenny Lofton, and to a lesser extent, David Wells, failing to garner the five percent needed to see another ballot, it was one of the deeper ballots in recent memory as well.  The 2014 ballot drops those two, but adds Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, and a handful of viable candidates for whom voters may struggle to find room in a year with so much talent on the bill.

The first Hall of Fame ballot, in 1936, was obviously top-heavy and deep as well, naming not only inductees Ruth, Cobb, Wagner, Johnson, and Mathewson, but snubs like Cy Young, Tris Speaker, Nap Lajoie, and the still-active Lou Gehrig.  The interceding years cycled through ballots with several obvious Hall of Famers and those on which Bruce Sutter looked like the best choice, as various Veterans Committees were tasked with clearing out ballot backlogs and did so to various degrees.

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The Hall of Peak Value

Soon after I posted my piece about the Hall of Could’ve Been, commenters started naming players who fit the title of the Hall better than most of the players I included.  Herb Score, Tony Conigliaro, Dickie Thon, J.R. Richard, Pete Reiser, and many other players had practically unlimited potential, only to see their careers derailed, usually by injury.  The two sets of criteria I established put the spotlight on a few players who could have been much more than they were and a few who actually did achieve greatness, but who just happened to have the right mix of single-season and career WAR to make the cut.

The players I listed may fit better in the Hall of Peak Value than in the Hall of Could’ve Been.

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