Baseball Jeremiad

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A Curiously Intelligent Baseball blog

Of Course, It’s a Yankee Hat

Calcaterra cues up the ugliest, most vile looking hat you’ve ever seen in your life.

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Copernican Links: Tuesday Edition

Fangraphs asks where the devil Jason Bay’s power is residing.  Jack Moore provides a rather depressing conclusion for Mets fans:

What we’re seeing with Bay seems to be one of the nastiest combinations of park effects, regression to the mean, aging, and simple poor luck that I can recall a power hitter encountering. It’s certainly possible that Bay has simply lost some of his pop, but right now the most likely scenario is that Bay is working through an extended slump. ZiPS projects him to add 19 more home runs before season’s end, as opposed to the 9 that his pace suggests. It’s too early to dismiss Jason Bay as a power hitter, even if he can’t replicate his awesome 2009.

It’s June; thus, it must be Cape Cod baseball time.

And That Happened is still a must read, each and every single day.

Rob Neyer dishes on the players’ opinions on umpires and replay.

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Phillies Extend Howard; Sabermatricians Go Ballistic

Craig Calcaterra tees off:

But he’s also — at best — the third most valuable player on the Phillies, and reasonable arguments can be made that he’s not even that high. He’s big and he’s slow and despite that extra work he’s put in, it’s more likely than not that he’s going to age poorly.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a list of Ryan Howard’s most comparable players through age 29 — his age for the 2009 season — according to Baseball-Reference.com: Richie Sexson, Cecil Fielder, Mo Vaughn, Willie McCovey, David Ortiz, Tony Clark, Mark McGwire, Carlos Delgado, Fred McGriff and Norm Cash.  The only two guys on that list who didn’t fall off a cliff before age 36 are McCovey and McGriff, and they were a heck of lot skinnier than even Ryan Howard v.2.0 is. The rest of those names should constitute nightmare fuel for Phillies fans.

Rob Neyer unloads too:

Ryan Howard’s new contract is a testament the enduring power of the Are-Bee-Eye. It’s also a testament to old-school ignorance: ignorance of aging patterns, ignorance of position scarcity, ignorance of opportunity costs … hey, take your pick. The Phillies have done a lot of things right over the last few years. But this is a big bowl of wrong.

And Matthew Carruth of Fangraphs:

Even if you think baseball’s salary per win goes up to $4.25 million this coming offseason and rises at a 5% clip every winter through 2017, Howard will need to produce an average of 4.75 wins from 2012 through 2017 just in order to justify his salary. If you factor in that Howard gets (even more) long-term security from this deal, then that average production levels goes up to 5.3 wins.

In other words, Howard will need six seasons that were better than his 2009 season, except over his 32-37 years. I’m not sure I would lay even money on him achieving even half of that. This contract is both incredibly risky and unnecessary since Howard was already signed through 2011. Say hello to baseball’s newest worst contract.

And Duk at Yahoo! Sports:

Part of it may be an overreaction to the Phillies making a mistake by not buying out a few of Howard’s post-arbitration years at a cheaper rate, but playing the waiting game would have:

1) Given Amaro time to see if Howard’s skills decline over the next two years or suffer a big injury that would limit or cut his production in a similar way

2) Allowed the Phillies more time to weigh and address other upcoming needs, like re-signing Jayson Werth(notes) this offseason or strengthening a bullpen that could use retooling.

And:

If Howard is worth $25 million, Pujols is worth $50 million a year.”
ESPN’s Keith Law on the Ryan Howard extension.

Then again, Tyler Kepner of the “Bats” Blog doesn’t think it’s a bad idea:

Howard, 30, is an elite power hitter for the Philadelphia Phillies, with at least 45 home runs in each of the last four seasons. But he has transformed himself from a one-dimensional slugger into an asset in the field and on the bases, too. It helped earn him a five-year, $125 million extension on Monday from a team that had once been uncertain about how long to keep him.

But, even Crashburn Alley is very hesitant:

Most Phillies fans will love the extension, as it keeps a fan favorite in town for a long time. Stat-savvy fans immediately dislike the deal. Most Phillies fans will come to loathe the deal in several years when the Phillies are hamstrung by Howard’s relatively large salary and declining production.

Already, Howard has shown signs of decline as his walk rate has declined every year since 2007 and sits at a paltry 3.6% thus far in 2010. His BABIP has been lower as more and more teams have employed an infield shift against him. Opposing teams have also been bringing in more left-handed relievers to face Howard and his production against them has swiftly dropped. His strikeout rate has declined gradually but so has his isolated power. Using FanGraphs’ pitch type linear weights, Howard’s production against the fastball has dropped every year since 2006. He has swung at more and more pitches outside of the strike zone every year since he came into the Majors. Finally, his whiff rate (swinging strike percentage) has increased every year since 2006.

This will be a fun ride for two, maybe even three more years, but it will quickly become tumultuous.

And if you’re into charts and graphs, check this out (courtesy of Crashburn Alley):

Ouch.

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Apologia Pro McCarver, Tim

A common pastime of intelligent baseball fans is to complain about the play-by-play men and color commentators on national baseball broadcasts.*

*Let’s leave out local broadcasters in this discussion; some are homers, some are barely able to communication using the English language.

Much vituperation gets directed at FOX’s Tim McCarver.  Granted, McCarver does indeed offer his opinions as if he is being paid by the word.  He can be arrogrant, self-serving and trite in his opinons.  Surely he swoons over stars — he petitioned for the canonization of Albert Pujols at least three times last night — and states the obvious multiple times within the same inning.  I get all that.  For someone who reads Baseball Prospectus regularly or enjoys the intelligent snark of Craig Calcaterra, listening to McCarver, Rick Sutcliffe or Hall of Famer Joe Morgan can be a drag. 

And yet, it’s easy to forget that the majority of baseball fans are not sabermatricians.  Most baseball fans watch baseball for enjoyment and nothing more.  They don’t necessarily understand the intricacies of the game and appreciate McCarver and the rest of his ilk explaining the minutiae that stat heads take for granted. 

As I sat watching innings thirteen through twenty of the Mets/Cardinals last night, I realized that McCarver’s style focuses on the fellow who comes home from a long day of working in his backyard, cracks open a beer and sits down to enjoy the game.

And you know what?  That’s alright with me.  My TV remote has a mute button.  And I use it.

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Baseball Musings

  • Adam Dunn could become only second player ever to have higher number of strikeouts than BA (currently 157 K and .163). First was M Reynolds. 6 years ago
  • At least the New York Times remembers the Expos... http://fb.me/BhzEslEO 7 years ago
  • MLB Network on Sabathia: "CC is one of the few pitchers in the league who is his own batting eye." 7 years ago
  • Sabathia vs. Halladay tonight: noted hitting hurler Sabathia is hitting .500 against Cy Young winners (okay, he's 1 for 2 against Johan) 7 years ago
  • RT @jaysonst: Now that Stephen Strasburg has pulled into town, the most important era in Nationals history has officially begun. http:// ... 7 years ago

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