The Baseball Exchange

What Was I Even Whining About? by 27yankees

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 by 27yankees

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.


Season Awards Predictions by 27yankees

That time of year has come – the playoffs, so it makes perfect sense to try to predict who wins the various awards of baseball. Keep in mind that I am not saying who I think should win, rather I am saying who I think will win. Also, keep in mind that the awards given in the offseason are voted upon before the postseason begins.

Alex Rodriguez. Come on. I don’t have to explain this one, do I?

Matt Holliday probably clinched it by getting that huge hit on the one-game playoff versus the Padres.

AL Cy Young
Josh Beckett had the most wins. Surprise?

NL Cy Young
Jake Peavy. We’re all smart people here.

AL Rookie of the Year
Dustin Pedroia may not deserve it, but he gets the Boston spotlight and the flashy numbers.

NL Rookie of the Year
Ryan Braun. Sorry, Troy. But he edged you out. To be honest, Troy wouldn’t deserve it anyways because he was only an average hitter when you factor in the Coors Effect. But the difference in defense still doesn’t quite make up for it. Smart stats aside, it’s hard for the sportswriters to ignore 30 homers.

AL Manager of the Year
Jim Leyland? Mike Hargrove? I’m kind of out of options here. There was nobody who stood out at all. I guess Eric Wedge makes the most sense, or maybe Mike Sciosia.

NL Manager of the Year
Bob Melvin virtually willed the D-Backs into the playoffs, and though I thought that Ned Yost was the frontrunner, the Brewers missing of the playoffs means that Melvin will likely take the metal home.

My Favorite Stats, including Win Shares vs. WPA by red

Ok, so maybe I am a bit of the “Bill James II” variety of bloggers. Not ashamed of it either. It amazes me how much people still put so much value on batting average, win-loss records, hustle, team chemistry, or the ability to “concetrate”. But that’s a whole different story, I’d like to present you with some of the best statistics ever invented:

1. Win Shares – A Bill James invention, just the flat-out best way of rating a player. VORP and WARP are also convenient, but Win Shares evaluates every aspect of the game, including fielding, while VORP and WARP focus on just batting or pitching. There have been some critics of it, but overall it works as a solid, reliable way to rate an overall production of players.

2. WPA (Wins Probability Added) – Sort of an alternate form to win shares, (though it does no include fielding) in which, in layman terms, rewards “clutch” hits more. Trying to find an example of this, wikipedia helps me out:

Win Shares would give the same amount of credit to a player if he hit a lead-off solo home run that turned out to be decisive as if he hit a walk-off solo home run; WPA, however, would give vastly more credit to the player who hit the walk-off homer.

In other words, WPA rates who’s the “most valuable” player, while Win Shares rates the “best” players. So, we could take this and figure out who’s “most valuable” to their team (i.e. the MVP) and which pitcher is just plain best.

Top 10 AL Leaders in WPA, as of 9/20/07:

Alex Rodriguez: 6.49

Magglio Ordonez: 5.99

Vladamir Guerrero: 5.96

J.J. Putz: 5.52

Rafale Betancourt: 4.89

Fausto Carmona: 4.14

David Ortiz: 3.97

Erik Bedard: 3.87

Carl Crawford: 3.50

C.C. Sabathia/Jonathan Papelbon: 3.49

Given WPA’s nature, it tends to like relievers a lot, given that they are often the deciding factor in games. Now, AL Leaders in Win Shares:

Alex Rodriguez: 35

Magglio Ordonez: 34

Ichiro Suzuki: 31

Victor Martinez: 30

Vladimir Guerrero: 29

Grady Sizemore: 28

Carlos Pena: 27

Granderson/Ortiz: 25

Posada/Hunter: 24

Upton/Lowell/Cabrera: 23

The first pitcher pitcher to come in is C.C. Sabathia, in a five way tie with 22 win shares, then Carmona with 21. Interesting group here. A-Rod, not surprisingly, comes in first, but the difference between A-Rod and Mags is much larger in WPA than Win Shares. Also, Ichiro, who comes third in win shares, has a WPA of only 1.98, far below pretty much everyone else on the top win shares list. My guess is that when he makes deciding plays in a game, they’re more likely to be a one RBI single with runners on first and third rather than a three-run homer from most of the other guys on the list. Win Shares also tends to give more shares to batters, as you can easily see. You can also easily see that A-Rod’s the MVP, no competition. Now, let’s move on over to the top AL pitchers. I’ll start with Win Shares, since Cy Young isn’t so much as most valuable pitcher, but just flat-out best.

C.C. Sabathia: 22

Fausto Carmona: 21

Erik Bedard/John Lackey:19

Beckett/Haren/Santana: 18

Putz/Vazquez/Escobar/Beuurle/Halladay: 17

Wang has 15. Interesting to see Beckett so low, then again Sabathia has pitched 40 more innings than Beckett. Now, we move on over to WPA, and to be more realistic wih Cy Young voting, I’ll only include starers:

Fausto Carmona: 4.14

Erik Bedard: 3.87

C.C. Sabathia: 3.49

Roy Halladay: 3.04

Josh Beckett 2.97

Given that Sabathia pitches deeper into games, as proof of his 230-some innings, you would think then that that would give Sabathia a higher WPA, but you would be wrong. Carmona is well ahead of Sabathia by .65 WPA. Personally, I think Sabathia deserves it – he has roughly the same ERA+ as every other contender, but the fact that he’s sustained that with much more innings than anyone else gives him the edge. Anyway, onwards.

3. Pythagorean Record – Another Bill James gizmo, this is possibly my favorite statistic, or at least the most fun. It basically shows how much luck a team has had in their season by calculating, using a simple formula, the record the team should have statistically. If the pythagorean record is lower than a team’s actual record by, say, five games, it suggests the team has won at least five games with the help of some luck, and vice versa. The Yankees have been unlucky all season, and only by their torrid post-all star stretch have they put the difference between their pythag record and their actual record at only four games. On the other end of the spectrum, the D’Backs have won an astounding eleven games to luck. Pythagorean record is also useful to see which teams are going to be for real down the stretch run or in the playoffs. Exhibit A: The Mariners, whose Pythagorean record is below .500 at 74-78. Ichiro should have waited until the end of the season before deciding to re-sign.

4. Zone Rating (Revised) – Way back in the 1870s, Henry Chadwick, the father of many baseball statistics, wrote this about fielding: “The best player in the nine is he who makes the most good plays in a match, not the one who commits the fewest errors.” In other words, as Alan Schwarz explains in his fantastic book The Numbers Game, “Chadwick preferred range to avoiding the occasional error.” Finally, more than a hundred years after Chadwick first came up with those words, a straight-forward statistic measures just that: Zone Rating. ZR basically measures the amount of balls in a fielder’s “zone” that he gets to. A much more in-depth description by BBTF can be fond here. Revised Zone Rating just basically counts balls hit out of a player’s zone seperately and likes double plays.

Gold Gloves aren’t always that easy to calculate, especially if you try to mix the stats up. For example, Omar Vizquel leads the NL with a .889 RZR, yet is fourth in fielding win shares, and a full 2.6 win shares below the league leader, Troy Tulowitzki. (Who, incidentally, deserves the GG.)

5. Hitting Charts – Ok, this one is really more data than formulaic statistics. Nevertheless, hit charts are both eye opening and fun to sift through. For example, take a look at this hitting chart for Curtis Granderson at Comerica. If you check “triples,” you can see he likes to pull the ball into the right field corner for a three-bagger, and the same with home runs. However, for a double he’ll hit it in the left and right-center field gaps more often than not. What does it mean? Exactly what it says it does, and that’s the beauty.

But you probably already know all of that.

In other news: GOD HELP US ALL.

Next best thing to his autograph?

Also, check out this great article by “non-prospect” Dirk Heyhurst, it’s a must-read, along with his whole archive of articles. As TwentySeven would say, “good stuff.”


Top 10 Reasons why the Colorado Rockies Will Be Serious Contenders in ’08 by 27yankees
September 20, 2007, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Awards, Baseball Scouting, Baseball Statistics, Top Lists

TwentySeven here! I liked my post the other day about Phil Hughes, the format specifically. So, I’m proud to present you with:

The Top Ten Reasons why the Colorado Rockies Will Be Serious Contenders in ’08

10. The NL West is a mediocre division. Sure, it’s not NL Central territory, but there are no real powerhouses in the division and the only really bad team in there are the Giants.
Continue reading

Perhaps Chris Britton’s name is written in invisible ink? by red
August 25, 2007, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Awards, Boston Red Sox, MiLB, MLB, New York Yankees

Chris BrittonDo the Yankee management not understand that Chris Britton (pictured at left – dig the sideburns) is major league material?! Bruney has 50 innings of work with majors and minors combined! If Villone is tired, I know, call up a guy who’s pitched every day in the majors and minors, his arm will suddenly be refreshed by the promotion! And they think he’ll be able to stand pitching another 15 innings the rest of the season, and possibly the playoffs. There’s a reason Bruney was sent down in the first place, his BB/K ratio is 30/32. Chris Britton pitched a full season in the majors last year with a 3.35 ERA! He’s not a prospect anymore, you don’t have to keep him locked up in AAA getting ready for the big leagues. Britton is… oh, wait. He’s already pitched 56 innings in the minors. Great. Nice work. Just perfect. Way to ruin an entire perfectly good year for a good reliever on a team that needs relievers of the good variety. Ugh, sometimes I don’t get the Yankee bullpen. Actually, with the exception of the 9th inning in a close game, I never get it. Even then, sometimes the decisions Torre makes puzzles me to no end. Well, Bruney did pitch a scoreless inning today, maybe… nah. He’ll blow it.

Ah, yes, I remember when optimism lasted more than ten seconds.


In other news: Wake up Chicago! Stop handing your games on a silver platter, and to the Red Sox at that. Everyone’s always “surging” like the Red Sox are “surging”, why can’t they just say winning a lot? And winning three games in a row is really surging. And why do I have the sneaking suspicion that that silver platter that is the white sox will suddenly become less silvery and less plattery when the Yankees come to town? Wait, the Yanks don’t play them for the remainder of the year. There goes my theory. Which is both good and bad, because I want the Yankees to win, but then I also want them to win… And why do I have the sneaking suspicion none of this made much sense?


By the way, I noticed Bruney was pitching out of the windup in the 9th inning of Saturday night’s Yanks-Tigers game, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do that. Perhaps that was something they tweaked in the Scranton/W-B to improve his command. I’ll have to investigate. Also, by the way, the Tigers announcers showed Bruney warming up in the bullpen and labeled him “Joba Chamberlain.” I almost had a heart attack when I thought Joe was putting him in a five run game – then I noticed he didn’t quite look like Joba… then I realized it was Bruney. And they didn’t correct the mistake.


17 K’s? Really? Baseball Notes 8/19/07 by 27yankees
August 19, 2007, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Awards, Baseball Strategy, Daily Notes

Johan Santana (Mr. Cy, right) is ridiculously good. This time of the year is his annual Cy Young push.Johan Santana

8.0 IP, 17 K’s, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB

Only 8.0 IP? Why not a complete game? The bum!


By the way, those 17 K’s make for a nice, sweet Twins record.

The guy has a ridiculous changeup, and if the Twins want to be good a few years from now, they are going to need to pony up the cash for this man. Francisco Liriano is good, but he’s a huge injury risk, and even if he can be as good as Johan, the team really needs the guy. They also need some offense.

The Twins, to me, are something of a joke compared to typical playoff teams. They have that dominant ace, the dominant bullpen arm, and there are a few good bats in their lineup (Cuddyer, Morneau, Mauer)… On the other hand, Torii Hunter is going to walk this season, and it’s a foregone conclusion that the Twins can’t afford him if they want to get some of their other guys. Not only that, but they can’t even surround their legit talent with any medium talent players at all. Sorry, but Nick Punto and the “piranhas” just aren’t going to cut it. They rare a small budget team without much in the way of a farm system, and that’s a formula that’s just set up for failure. They need to get a bigger budget or improve their farm sometime soon. People think of the Twins as legit contenders, but I only see a team with rotation holes once you get past the ace and a few strong players surrounded by a weak lineup. Sorry.

Sammy Sosa is a killjoy, by the way. In Mark Buerhle’s no-no, he got a walk to prevent a perfect game. In Johan’s game, he got the two hits and probably prevented Johan from getting a perfecto. Not only that…

Sammy Sosa v J. Santana this year: 3-4, 1 HR, 2 BB, 1 K
Other Rangers v J. Santana this year: 3-47, 0 HR, 0 BB, 29 K

I mean, wow. Jeez.

In other news, Ryan Braun hit another homer. The Hebrew Hammer strikes again.

Also, my parents threatened to disown me again (Okay, not really. Go figure).

I realized today that the pitching on my fantasy baseball team is ridiculously good: Roy Halladay, Erik Bedard, Chris Young, Phil Hughes, Noah Lowry (he’s actually really good), and Aaron Harang. I’ve discovered that I’m a really good judge of talent in baseball. Most people said Chris Young’s ’06 was a fluke, but I saw that he had Tall Pitcher Syndrome before ’06 (though Petco can’t hurt), and knew he was for realsies. Bedard? His changeup is almost Santana-esque from what I’ve heard. Phil Hughes? Hey, he’s a Yankee. Lowry? Pitched hurt most of last year. Harang? On any other team, he would be really really famous. He’s not even the most famous pitcher on his team, which is kind of ridiculous since he’s better than Bronson Arroyo. By quite a bit.

And, my relievers and hitters aren’t all that bad either. I guess I’m just good at this stuff.

Yeah, so good stuff.