The Baseball Exchange

Midseason Analysis of a Certain Baseball Team from the Good City of New York, Specifically in the Bronx
July 7, 2008, 8:45 pm
Filed under: MiLB, MLB, New York Yankees | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Well, we are now a little over halfway through the statistical season, and what a wild one this has been. There is so much I could be talking about, everything from the spectacular (or is it?) season the Rays have been having to the interesting breakouts we have seen so far. But perhaps it would be easier to just talk a bit about the Yankees. Continue reading


Pettitte confesses: He used HGH
December 15, 2007, 8:07 pm
Filed under: Steroids, The Mitchell Report | Tags: , , ,

 Pettitte admits briefly using HGH during 2002

Andy Pettitte used human growth hormone to recover from an elbow injury in 2002, the New York Yankees pitcher admitted two days after he was cited in the Mitchell Report. Pettitte said he tried HGH on two occasions, stressing he did it to heal faster and not enhance his performance. He emphasized he never used steroids.

This admission might change the way the Mitchell Report is being viewed and pave the way for more players to admit that they have used steroids before. Andy Pettitte is well respected within the players community and a big name like him sticking his neck out there could be a big deal.

In addition, I think that because he came clean about this, he’ll come out looking good for having the guts to take what comes with being labeled a cheater. The fact that he came clean about it doesn’t change the fact that he did cheat, but it changes the way I view him, and I’m sure it does for a lot of people too. Unlike guys like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds who avoid coming clean and get entrenched in people calling them cheaters, he put his neck out there and admitted it was wrong. That’s good for baseball.

What Was I Even Whining About?

Yesterday, I made a post about how silly some of the voters for the AL MVP award were.

Today, we learned that Jimmy Rollins won, and the complaints of yesterday quickly faded away to a new set of complaints.

For example: Jimmy Rollins? He had a great season, sure, but really. His numbers were inflated by Citizen’s Bank Park. His team just barely beat the Mets. David Wright’s play was just as deserving of an MVP award as Jimmy Rollins. You could justify it by saying that the Phillies got into the playoffs, but it’s not Wright’s fault that the Mets didn’t get into the playoffs. According to VORP, Wright was second in the NL behind Hanley Ramirez, who’s team clearly was not close to the playoffs.

Meanwhile, J-Roll was ninth in the NL in VORP. Heck, even teammate Chase Utley had a higher VORP than him.

Both J-Roll and Wright play excellent defense, though J-Roll does it at a more difficult position. However, though they had similar numbers, Wright made nearly 100 less outs in a similar number of at-bats, and his OBP was far higher than that of J-Roll.

However, this year the writers were looking for a good story. What’s surprising is that they found it in J-Roll, when there was such an obvious feel-good story in Matt Holliday. He was fourth in the NL in VORP. His numbers may have been inflated by the Coors effect, but he was clutch and was a key to the Rockies getting to the playoffs. I fully expected him to get all the votes; he was far more deserving than J-Roll.

Thankfully, Holliday got second place by a very close margin, so most of the writers agreed with me, but it’s still disappointing to see him fall second. He may never have another season like this again.

In other news, the Brewers traded Johnny Estrada to the Mets for Guillermo Mota. And boy, did Omar Minaya screw the Brewers over and get exactly what he wanted. Find a catcher? Check. Make sure it’s a short commitment? Check (Estrada is under contract for one season). Lose Guillermo Mota? Check.Omar Minaya, for any faults he might have when it comes to getting prospects into his system, is a shrewd GM. He made a great move here.

The Writers Screwed Up

The punchline here is that they didn’t screw up. The AL MVP was Alex Rodriguez, and he more than deserve it. In fact, he deserved to win unanimously. Did he? No. Why? Because the sportswriters out of Detroit are major homers.

The Detroit Tigers were several games out of a playoff spot. The Yankees barely scraped a playoff spot. In fact, considering how much A-Rod contributed, had he not been on the Yankees in 2007, replaced by an average third baseman, the Yankees would not have made the playoffs. That’s a lot of value that he provides.

There is no excuse for not voting for A-Rod. He did it all – excellent defense; consistent performance; excellent hitting out of an important defensive position, hitting in the clutch. Magglio had a great year; in a typical year he should have won. But A-Rod did not have a typical year; in fact, A-Rod had a historical year. There is a very legitimate argument that A-Rod had won of the ten greatest seasons of all time in 2007, and even an argument that, after Barry Bonds’ 2001 season, it is the second most valuable season by a hitter of all time. A year as historically amazing as A-Rod’s is just a class above Magglio’s year.

There were some other interesting things to note about MVP voting.  Mike Lowell… fifth? I’m sorry, but that’s just silly. According to VORP, there were fifteen more valuable hitters in the AL than Lowell. That’s a lot of people.

Jorge Posada ended up sixth behind Lowell. Despite the fact that Posada had the fourth highest VORP in the AL. I mean, catchers who can post and OPS+ of 154 with average defense just grow on trees, right?

In addition, Carlos Pena’s voting sadly disappointed me.  The fifth most valuable VORP-adjusted hitter in the AL got ninth place in voting.

Also surprising was Bobby Abreu receiving a seventh place vote. In perhaps his worst season ever, where he barely scrape a 114 OPS+.

Hopefully, the writers will learn. But until then, they make good blog fodder.


A Comment on BABIP

I’d just like to make a comment on BABIP. BABIP, or batting average on balls in play, is a measure that was discovered a few years ago by a writer on Baseball Prospectus. He discovered with a bit of research that BABIP varies a lot for all pitchers, great ones, or not so great ones. The difference he discovered between the great pitchers and the not-as-great pitchers was that the great ones struck out more batters, walked less batters, and gave up less home runs. Good pitchers are able to compensate for a high BABIP, or some bad luck, by striking out more batters, walking less batters, and giving up less homers. That’s what made Pedro Martinez so good. In addition to coining the term BABIP, he coined the term “peripheral stats”, which are stats like K/9, BB/9, and HR/9, which indicate how well a pitcher should be able to compensate for BABIP. This lead to the creation of peripheral ERA, or ERAp. This was a stat that indicated how well we should have expected a pitcher to perform given an average BABIP. Continue reading

Prince Fielder Sets A Record

Babe Ruth. Hank Aaron. Barry Bonds. Alex Rodriguez (soon)… and… Prince Fielder?

OK, perhaps it is a bit farfetched to says that Prince Fielder might be the next home run king. But the young man certainly had an excellent season; in fact, he hit the most home runs ever by a player under 24 years old, and became the youngest player ever to hit fifty home runs at age 23.

Though his defense suffers, a move to the American League at some point as a DH might be just what this young man needs to set a new home run record. It is difficult to predict how many home runs a player will get through his career, but I will now attempt to do it. Continue reading

Astros Trade Lidge
November 7, 2007, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Baseball Strategy, MLB

The Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday acquired Houston Astros closer Brad Lidge for righthander Geoff Geary, outfielder Michael Bourn and minor league third baseman Mike Costanza.

Philadelphia also received utilityman Eric Bruntlett.

Lidge, 30, went 5-3 with a 3.36 ERA and 19 saves for Houston in 2007. He averaged 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings and posted a 2.89 ERA in his final 53 appearances. Lidge has 452 strikeouts over the last four seasons – most of any reliever.

This trade signals a few things to me. First of all, if it wasn’t already apparent, it means that the Astros are officially trying to move into a rebuilding phase. Competitive teams don’t typically trade away a closer, even if it was a closer who was terrible a few years ago. Their acquisition of two prospects also signals something, which I will discuss later.

This signals that the Phillies might be willing to move Brett Myers back to the rotation (thankfully), because they have shored up that hole, and that they are also confident in a deal with Aaron Rowand or another free agent center fielder. Michael Bourn was expected to be their fallback strategy should they have failed to sign Rowand, so it would seem that they have confidence in signing him or another center fielder.

This move would look pretty good for both teams if Costanza hadn’t been included. A veteran reliever who has had dominant and not so dominant seasons and could probably use a change of pace, and a veteran utilityman in exchange for a young outfielder who is probably ready to be a starter and an above average veteran reliever. However, Costanza really tips the deal for me. There are several reasons for this. Both the Phillies and the Astros are somewhat lacking in terms of short term or long term solutions at third base. The Phillies combined Wes Helms and Abraham Nunez for by far their weakest position in their infield. The Astros had a struggling Morgan Ensberg and Mike Lamb, who leaves for free agency. Mike Costanza, though not an elite prospect, could be expected to be a strong starting third baseman in a few years and could really fill a hole for either team. This trade also helps the Astros fill holes in a very weak farm system; the Phillies have a weak farm system, too.

These facts tip this deal towards the Astros side and really leads me to believe that perhaps Ed Wade might know what he is doing.