The Big Fat Bartolo Colon All-Stars

Baseball is a sport of athletes, but some players did not get the memo. Players like Big Fat Bartolo Colon. Guys who play the game with big hearts and bigger stomachs. There's only enough food in the clubhouse for one of them (see Brewers, 2008). Together, these players forge "The Big Fat Bartolo Colon All-Stars." Each is weighed in Pounds Per Inch (PPI).

C: Pablo Sandoval (5-11/246 >> 3.46 PPI)
1B: Prince Fielder (5-11/268 >> 3.77 PPI)
2B: Ronnie Belliard (5-10/212 >> 3.03 PPI)
SS: Juan Uribe (6-0/230 >> 3.19 PPI)
3B: Miguel Cabrera (6-4/240 >> 3.16 PPI)
RF: Carlos Lee (6-2/240 >> 3.24 PPI)
CF: Andruw Jones (6-1/240 >> 3.29 PPI)
LF: Matt Stairs (5-9/215 >> 3.12 PPI)
DH: Dmitry Young (6-2/298 >> 4.03 PPI)

SP1-C.C. Sabathia (6-7/290 >> 3.67 PPI)
SP2-Carlos Zambrano (6-5/255 >> 3.31 PPI)
SP3-Joe Blanton (6-3/252 >> 3.36 PPI)
SP4-Sidney Ponson (6-1/258 >> 3.53 PPI)
SP5-Bartolo Colon (5-11/245 >> 3.45 PPI)
RP-Bobby Jenks (6-3/275 >> 3.67 PPI)
CL-Jonathan Broxton (6-4/294 >> 3.87 PPI)

Manager: Lou Pinella

In total, this team would weigh 4,058 pounds. The average player weight is 253.63 pounds, while the average player PPI is a whopping 3.45. By contrast, David Eckstein's PPI is 2.64.

Will The 2011 Free Agency Class Be The Best Ever?

Notwithstanding extensions, here is a list of just some of the many players set to become free agents after the 2011 MLB season:

Albert Pujols
Ryan Howard
Prince Fielder
Adrian Gonzalez
Jose Reyes
Jimmy Rollins
Grady Sizemore
Felix Hernandez
Justin Verlander
Matt Cain
Jonathan Papelbon
Jonathan Broxton

and of course, Bud Selig.

The 2010 Pro Bowl Honors Are Useless

This year, because the Pro Bowl is BEFORE the Superbowl and not after, many more selections than normal will get Pro Bowl honors. Thus, many players who did not have that good of a year (a la Chad Ochocinco) look like they have a better career than they do. The Pro Bowl is more than a game- it's a manifestation of greatness. But when you treat the Pro Bowl like it's only a game and overlook the honors part of it, the honor becomes meaningless.

This year, 14 players from both the Colts and Saints have been replaced because, well, no need to state the obvious. Add to that the 17 players that have "injuries" and that fact that Brad Childress sent home Vikings lineman Bryan McKinnie (hmmmm), that mean that 32 players are now considered Pro Bowlers due to original starters not playing. Now some of these players deserved to be Pro Bowlers (a la Vincent Jackson, Matt Schaub), but did all 32!? Think about this- Donovan McNabb and David Garrard are also Pro Bowlers.

And to pour salt on the wounds, the 14 players from both the Superbowl bound teams still NEED to show up. What!? These players are about to play in one of the most crucial games of their lives (still important for most Colts players) and they are forced to still be on the sidelines which also screws over their team. Colts head coach Jim Caldwell says he has to rearrange his practice schedule to fit around the Pro Bowl for his players.

It makes sense that there are so many players from the Superbowl bound team that are also Pro Bowlers. The Colts and Saints were by far the top two teams in the regular season so it's no surprise that they had so many Pro Bowlers and also are going to the Superbowl. It was clearly foreseeable that having the Pro Bowl the week before the Superbowl would cause a lot of replacements, like has clearly happened.

Moral of the story: Roger Goddell is absolutely fucking retarded by breaking something even worse that before.

Sox 5 percent more annoying than Cubs

I'm a little surprised the Bears are not higher on the list. I guess people simply stopped complaining after Jay Cutlers 3rd 4-interception game of the year

Stolen Goods: Do Lefties "Break Out" More Than Righties?

In an old, but still relevant article, Rany Jazayerli of Baseball Prospectus tackles the question of whether or not southpaws develop later than their right-handed counterparts. The data is aplenty if you want to sift through it all, but the conclusions are thus:
There is simply no compelling evidence that southpaws develop any more slowly than right-handers do...

...lefties, as a whole, were not any worse than the right-handers, and in some cases were better...

Maybe a good percentage of left-handers have a breakout season around age 26, but that's only because a good percentage of all pitchers break out at that age. Yes, there are many examples of left-handers who didn't reach their full potential until their late 20s, but there are just as many examples of right-handers who took just as long.

GOI joins the exclusive 20,000 club

The Quintessential Sabermetrics Argument: FIP and xFIP

A quintessential component of The Quintessential Sabermetrics Argument: Batting Average was that a lot of batted ball data tends to normalize because hitters do not have as much control over balls in play (BIP) as commonly believed. True, players who consistently make certain kinds of contact more often can maintain higher BABIPS, as can speedsters, but once the ball is in play, whether or not that balls is a "hit" is highly dependent on the positioning and ability of the defense.

From here, we turn from batters to pitchers. A pitcher controls a few things about the outcome of an at bat, each to a variable degree:

  • A pitcher is in almost absolute control over the general location of his pitch. There are some marginal variants such as temperature, wind speed and wind direction in effect, but a pitcher who does not hit his spots can generally only blame himself. He either gripped the ball incorrectly, released it too late, "has the jitters," just can't pitch, etc. The location of his pitch is something in his control.
  • A pitcher also almost completely (though less completely than location) controls intentional walks. The Jeff Francouer and Miguel Cabreras of the world aside, if a pitcher wants to intentionally walk a batter, it will happen.
  • Compared to intentional walks, a pitcher exercises less control, but still a large degree of control, over unintentional walks. Unintentional walks integrate the batter more into the outcome equation and the result is less guaranteed (largely because players like Bengie Molina and umpires like Tim McClellan do not understand the concept of a strike zone). Generally speaking, however, a pitcher controls the general location of his pitches and batters will more often than not lay off pitches outside of the zone.
  • A pitcher exercises much less control over strikeouts than he does walks, but he still exercises a large degree of control over them. This decline in control over the outcome occurs because the batter is more integrated into the strikeout process. Whereas with walks a player takes a passive role, the hitter is now taking active participation against the pitch; he can lay off or swing and the result will either be contact or no contact. A pitcher with deceptive release points, sharp break and a large velocity disparity between pitches will tend to "fool" batters more often, whereas hitters can more easily square up straight pitches with no movement. Although the pitcher controls the type of his pitch, the degree of deception, the movement, etc., he does not control whether or not the hitter will be able to guess where the ball's true location will be. What the pitcher controls, therefore, is the ability to influence batter's probability of contact; we just simplify this statement in the form of "strikeouts."
  • As we move from no contact to contact, the degree of control a pitcher exercises over the outcome of an at bat declines further. A pitcher does not control the actual outcome (type of contact) of the at bat (this is because there is no magic "groundball-only-and-always" pitch), but he does exert influence over the tendency of type of contact to result from the at bat. A pitcher who throws pitches with sharper break is more likely to have a hitter get "on top of the ball" and chop it into the ground.
  • A pitcher does not, however, control the strength of the resulting contact. I would say that pitchers with more deceptive "stuff" are more likely to induce weaker contact than the average pitcher, but once the ball is out of their hands, the question of contact becomes something only the hitter can answer. The ball en route, the hitter must guess where and how to swing. Assuming he does not strikeout, if he guesses poorly, the result with be weak contact -- an infield flyball or weak grounder. If he guesses correctly, the resulting contact will be stronger and harder hit.
  • Because the pitcher controls the tendency of the ball to be in the ground or in the air, but he does not control how hard it will be hit on the ground or in the air or how far, then it makes sense that a pitcher does not control home runs; only the tendency thereof. Pitchers face so many batters that we can generally assume that the average hitter they will face will have "league average" power. The guy with the league average power hits just over a home run per every 10 flyballs he hits. We call this HR/FB rate (I prefer HR/non-GB rates as a whole, as line drives also turn into home runs sometimes, but HR/FB rate is sufficient for our purposes). The league, as a whole, averages a HR/FB rate in the 11% range, though most pitchers have HR/FB% which normalize to the 9-12% range (depending on where they play). Pitchers, over a large enough sample size, regress into this range because they do not control how hard batters will hit their non-groundball-resultant offerings. Since 2002, 73 pitchers have cumulatively thrown 1000+ innings. Of them, only Jason Schmidt (7.5%), CC Sabathia (8.4%), Cliff Lee (8.5%), Barry Zito (8.6%), Mark Redman (8.8%), Jarrod Washburn (8.8%), Roger Clemens (8.9%), Pedro Martinez (8.9%), Odalis Perez (12.3%), Nate Robertson (12.7%), Derek Lowe (12.7%), Brandon Webb (13.2%), and Brett Myers (15.5%) -- at total of 13 pitchers (five of whom just barely made the cut) -- did not fall into the 9%-12% HR/FB ratio range. Of them, Lee, Sabathia, Zito, and Washburn pitched at exteme home run suppressing parks for most of the sample size, while Webb and Myers pitched at extreme home run exaggerating parks. You might also notice Derek Lowe and Brandon Webb's presence here, despite being the league's two most extreme groundball-oriented pitchers; this only further drives home the point.
  • Does a pitcher control pop ups? A pitcher certainly controls flyball tendencies, but it is uncertain if "inducing pop ups" is a skill possessed by pitchers. Certainly 2002-2006 Barry Zito would have you believe so. I have no seen any conclusive scientific evidence either way, but I can affirmatively state that pitchers who induce more infield flyballs tend to have lower BABIPs.
  • What about hits? A pitcher exerts almost no control over non-home run hits. As mentioned above, once the ball is out of the pitcher's hand, it is out of his control (at least from the perspective of pitching ability). Once the ball is put in play, it is the fielders who determine whether or not a ball is going to be a hit. The pitcher may control the direction of the ball, like he does the type of contact, but it is the hitter's guess of the pitch (often which is random in and of itself) which determines if it is a ball down the line, right to the third basemen, hit to the gap, etc.
  • Left On Base Percentage (LOB%) is another element that pitchers exercise very little control over. Although better pitchers tend to have higher LOB%, LOB% nonetheless regress to some mean, whether it be that of the league average or player's career average. The reason why is very closely related to the "pitcher does not control hits" argument. Because the pitcher does not control if a specific at bat where contact is made results in a hit, a pitcher does not control when contact is made. This means that they do not control BABIP by leverage (a term used to describe how important or impactful upon the probability of outcome a specific situation in a game is). Sure, a pitcher is more likely going for the strikeout or for a groundball when there are runners on base and the game on the line, but the BABIP results and contact% generally remain stagnant over large enough sample size comparisons of situations with variable leverage indexes. This goes towards that whole "there is no such thing as clutch" argument.
  • From all of the aforementioned reasons, it is important to look beyond ERA and WHIP in evaluating a pitcher's true ability beyond the success he does or does not experience in a single season. ERA measures single-season results with all the non-neutral luck variables factored in. Using ERA to identify a pitcher's talent is like trying to identify a pieces of strawberry in a finely blended all-berry smoothie (food metaphor). We need to look beyond what a pitcher does not control and into what a pitcher does control. This is where FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching statistics (which you may know it as DIPS, or Defense Independent Pitching Statistics) comes in handy. The statistical analysis grunt work has already been done (thanks to Tom Tango) and the coefficient of determination is pretty high (approximately five times that of ERA).

    FIP is a better measure of future success than ERA. FIP essentially takes the three elements a pitcher exerts the most control over (K's, BB's and HR's) and weights them in regard to their historical impact on ERA and then adds to them a league-specific factor to round out the resulting number to an equivalent ERA number. The formula for calculating FIP is 3.2+((13*HR)+(3*(BB+HBP-IBB))-(2*K))/IP. ERA tends to regress towards FIP over time. It likely will not match it (too many variables at play), but you can determine whether a player is likely to improve or regress in the future based on FIP-ERA differentials (FIP-based trading and team management is a cornerstone of fantasy baseball success).

    But wait, DME, you say, didn't you just say, and I quote, "a pitcher does not control home runs; only the tendency thereof?" You are correct and this brings me to the advanced form of FIP I prefer to utilize called expected FIP or xFIP ("x" is a general term you see in front of statistics to represent some predicative value). xFIP is similar to FIP in how it incorporates the historical weight of K's, BB's and HR's on ERA, but whereas FIP uses a pitcher's in-season home run totals to calculate a pitcher's in-season FIP, xFIP uses a metrics we might call xHR, where xHR is a specific function of the league average HR/FB rate. xFIP measure's a player's future ERA under the theory of HR/FB rate regression.

    There is another FIP-like metric out there called tRA, which utilizes a pitcher's total batted ball profile to evaluate his luck-neutral results from a single season and predict a player's future ERA. tRA is not exactly scaled to reflect ERA, so it can be a bit confusing. I personally do not use tRA because I do not believe a pitcher controls "line drives" (at least not as classified and encapsulated in box score data).

    From all this explanation and ramble, we derive the following maxims. A pitcher who walks less batters, strikes out more batters and keeps the ball on the ground is likely to succeed. A pitcher who induces more contact and pitches for the 2007 White Sox is not.

    The Quintessential Sabermetrics Argument: DVOA and DYAR

    Cubsfan4evr once asked me what the most important stat of football was. We spent some time thinking about this and the ultimate answer we came up with was: points. We tossed around total yards, but does it matter of you have 200 more total yards than your opponent of you lose the game by one? (see Minnesota/ NO NFC Championship game). However, we debated yards so much because it really does play an integral part of the game. Obviously, it's really hard to score if you don't move down the field to get into FG range/ get a TD. I want this to be in the back of your mind when reading this post.

    Here's some examples for you:

    Player A: 18/30 for 300 yards, 3 TDs, no INTs or turnovers

    Player B: 18/30 for 300 yards, 3 TDs, no INTs or turnover

    Logic would tell you that both Player A and Player B each had just as good of a day because both had the same exact stat line. But let's say Player A was facing the worst defense in the league and Player B was facing the best. This changes your perception on who has the better day doesn't it? Player B then clearly had the better day because Player A should have put up better stats than Player B, yet he did not.

    Another example:

    A RB gains six yards on first down. That player has greatly helped his team because it gives the team a greater chance to get the first down. If that team gets the first down, it's easier for that team to move down the field and gives them a better opportunity to score points. Now let's say that same RB gains six yards, but this time it was on 3rd and 7 and the team is then forced to punt. That RB still got six yards (which still shows up in stats like Yards Per Carry (YPC)), but the result on his team is drastically different.

    What can we learn from these examples? Well from example one, we learn that defenses are important. It's a lot easier to put up stats against a crappier opponent than it is against a more difficult one. From the second example, we learn that situations and downs are important. When we combine these, we learn that we must judge players based upon the specific situations that they are in.

    However, to judge these players against everyone else in the league, we must compare these specific situations versus how other players in the league would do in those specific situations. If the average RB in the league only gains 2 yards on 3rd and 7 situations, then even though our RB in the second example only gained 6 when the team needed at least 7, he still did better than what a lot of RBs would have done and he still gets a bit of a edge.

    This is the groundwork for what I call football sabermetics and what the site Football Outsiders (FO) does. Even though FO does not actually call their statistics football sabermetrics, I mean let's call a spade a spade.

    Here's another example for you.

    1. The Giants drive 80 yards to get a TD. Tiki Barber gets 45 of those yards, Eli Manning gets 30 of those, and Brandon Jacobs gets a 5 yards TD run.
    2. Tom Brady is on his own five yard line and gets intercepted by Bob Sanders. On the next play Joseph Addai runs into the end zone for a TD
    3. The Carolina Panthers drive 80 yards to get a TD. Jake Delhomme gets 20 yards going 4/4 (I'm sorry Panthers fans but this is just a hypothetical) and DeAngelo Williams gains 60 yards on 8 carries with the TD.

    In each of these scenarios, the RB gets the TD. Yet in each of these scenarios, did the RB deserve the TD run? DeAngelo Williams absolutely did, but did Jacobs and Addai? This is another example of where each situation is different and this is also something DVOA takes into account. This also shows how surprisingly unimportant individual TDs can be. This seems counterintuitive because this goes what was just discussed in the beginning- it's not really about yards, but all about the score. However, that's not necessarily true on an individual level. How individual players get to the points is actually more important than the points themselves. Mike Alscott spent years vulturing TDs away from Warren Dunn. Dunn got the yards but Alscott got the TD. Yet you ask anybody which one was the better RB- and they'd all say Dunn. Again, this is on an individual level to judge how good an individual player is.

    FO says it perfectly, "DVOA does a better job of distributing credit for scoring points and winning games by using a value based on both total yards and yards towards a first down." I've used DVOA in many, many posts, but let me explain it to you better. In laments terms, DVOA rates players compared to how the league average would have done in that same situation. DVOA is used for all aspects of the game, but for our purposes today, I'm just gong to discuss it within the aspect of a QB, RB, TE and WR. If a WR has a 10.0% DVOA rating, that means what they do is ten percent better what the league average player would do, and if that same player has a -20.0% DVOA rating, that means a replacement player could have done a 20% better job than that player. For you baseball guys, think of DVOA as analogous to VORP.

    DVOA stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. It is first compiled by finding VOA (guess what that stand for?) by looking at how every single situation played out, it's success and failures, and then looks to see how that individual player did in relation to how the rest of the league did (this goes back to the example of a RB gaining 6 yards when the average back would have only gained 2). But as we've stated before, how that player does against a certain defense also matters. So that VOA is then weighted against what defense the player is facing and the position their offense is on the field.

    However, DVOA only ranks how an individual player does per play (analogous to YPC). But there is some value of a player that continually produces- even if it's only league average. That's where DYAR comes in. The example FO uses is: let's say you have a RB that carries the ball 300 times in a season. Now, let's take that player out of the equation, what happens to those 300 plays? Normally, a team would put in a league average player (again VORP at work). However, which back up would you rather have: Maurice Jones Drew or Fred Taylor? When MJD was playing with Taylor, he was technically the back up but obviously the better back. Now how would you rather have, Peyton Manning or Jim Sorgi? What about Tom Brady or Matt Cassel? Everybody's back up is different so those extra 300 plays isn't necessarily weighted against you're individual back up- but to how league average back ups have done in similar situations using DVOA. Therefore, how you perform as a whole compared to how a back up would do is weighted on a scale to produce DYAR- Defense-adjusted Yards Over Replacement.

    Let me also give you a great example now of the disparity between perception based on "normal" stats and football sabermetrics- Adrian Peterson. Adrian Peterson is widely regarded as one of, if not, THE top running back in the NFL. If you watch him play and break tackles- it could be magical. You hear all these great features ands skills AD has and you see how good he is in fantasy and you think he is Jesus. But when you use football sabermetrics, he's good, just not Jesus good. Last year he was 12th in DYAR and 22nd in DVOA (3.3%). When you compare him to how he did against similar defenses and situations versus other RBs- we was just good. His value came in that he got a lot of carries as shows by his DYAR ranking.

    Now I fully admit DVOA and DYAR should not be used in the same way that WAR and UZR and BABIP and wOBA is used. Football is still a team sport versus baseball which is extremely individualized. There are still systems and lines that affects an individuals play and frankly there's a bit of distrust I have towards the stats still. But I think it's great evidence towards judging a players true worth.

    If you're still interested and want to learn more about how to better analyze football, read The Hidden Game of Football, the landmark book that paved the way for FO.

    You can also read, FO's explanation of DVOA and DYAR here.

    Will ESPN Ever Get Their Box Scores Right?

    Somehow Chauncey Billups and Trevor Ariza have managed to play 50 minutes in a 48 minute game. If that doesnt constitute grindiness, I don't know what does

    Chicago Landlord Suing Milton Bradley

    Milton Bradley has a history of problems. 2009 was no exception, as he hated on Cubs fans, fought with everyone from teammates to umpires, and even left games early when he got mad. But it was not just games that Milton Bradley skipped out on. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Milton Bradley is being sued for walking out on a Condo-lease at the Magnificent Mile in Chicago. In the words of the author, "add his landlord to the list of people who don’t like former Cubs rightfielder Milton Bradley..."

    The landlord is suing Bradley for $44,100 in back rent, late fees and interest through this month in addition to emotional damages for single-handedly ruining the Cubs 2009 season for fans everywhere.

    Stolen Goods: Why Haven’t We Had More Japanese Players In The Majors?

    Jim Albright of posits a great question: why haven’t we had more Japanese players in the Majors? The article breaks down the historical reasons into six parts:
    1. 1935 and earlier-No professional Japanese baseball league
    2. 1936-1950-Wartime and occupation
    3. 1951-1963-Korean War to the Murakami Affair
    4. 1964-1994-Murakami Affair and the De Facto Ban
    5. 1995-2000-Pitchers Break the De Facto Ban
    6. 2001-present-Position players arrive
    The most interesting bit, in my opinion is the Murakami Affair. It sheds a lot of light into why the breadth of foreign players in basebal is more or less a "recent" phenomenon. Definitely worth the read.

    Shawn Springs thinks Hurricane Katrina is hilarious *UPDATE*

    Shawn Springs, the veteran cornerback for the New England Patriots, was a guest on First Take today on ESPN2. He was given some softball questions about the Super Bowl and was expected to give some softball answers. I mean it's not like they know how to do anything else on ESPN. Well Shawn obviously had other things in mind. When asked which team he would rather not face in the Super Bowl, he responded "Well if it was me, I would hope a hurricane comes through". Nice choice of natural disasters Shawn Springs. I think you are looking for the word tornado. Tornado. It would have been more politically correct if you wanted Manning and Brees to simply get struck by lightning or get foot poisoning. Do you also wish there would be more unemployment in Detroit and a larger financial crisis on wall street?

    I may have video evidence for you loyal readers later tonight, but no promises

    *UPDATE* As promised I got you the video. I never disappoint, unless you're of the female gender, in which case it's 50-50

    The Titans Suck At Running The Ball

    Despite the fact that Titans RB Chris Johnson almost set the rushing record, had one of if not the best season for a RB ever, Fatboy LenDale White had was productive last year (and was this year in his limited carries), and all this despite Kerry Collins and the very weak passer in Vince Young (which means teams ABSOLUTELY were looking to defend against the run all the damn time), Titans fired their Running Backs coach today. Really Titans? Really!?

    Here's gonna be another example where a great player/coach is on the open market and a Chicago team is going to pick up this player.

    Quick DH Rant

    Disclaimer: I do not like the DH (which may seem odd as I have a degree in economics and am essentially saying that I do not believe in the division of labor) and I am not here to defend its existence in baseball. I am simply here to defend an underappreciated DH who belongs in a DH-only role.

    I was listening to 670 THE SCORE earlier today, and heard a strange comment by Mully and Hanley. Mully and Hanley tried to say "hey look, we love Jim Thome and appreciate all that he's done for Chicago, but he was only a 1 WAR player last season" (in actuality, Thome was a +1.5 WAR player in 3-4 months (he did not play in NL-interleague games) of ABs for the White Sox as a DH, and a -0.2 WAR player off the bench for the Dodgers in extremely limited ABs). Bless their hearts for trying to use Fangraphs and sabermetrics to support their arguments, but it's important to use the statistics right for them to be valuable and effective.

    True, Thome is aging, worth "only" about +2 WAR pr 600 PAs and is also limited by both age and health to a DH-only role. +2 WAR is still valuable, but let's just say it's not enough for the Sox. What Mully and Hanley didn't account for, however, is that DH's generally have limited value in general because they provide one-side of the game contribution and get a -17.5 run reduction (-1.7 WAR) from their batting line. In other words, any DH is inherently less valuable and going to have limited value in comparison to "other baseball players" who play the field.

    If you are signing a player in general who will play the field, you want a guy who will maximize his total contribution. In the average player, this contribution is a combination of position, offense and defense. Because there are more inputs for the non-DH, a non-DH who does not have Adam Dunn-like fielding abilities will inherently have a higher WAR; especially if they play a premium position like SS. The higher the WAR, the better the player. Teams want +5 WAR guys over the +3 WAR guys and the +2 WAR guys over the +1 WAR guys.

    However, the perspective of evaluation must change slightly when you look to sign a DH-only player. A DH-only player only contributes offense. His WAR will be negatively impacted by the fact that he is a DH, no matter how good his bat is. If player A and player B are both equally good at offense, but player A is an average defensive LF (-7.5 run adjustment, +0 fielding runs) and player B is a DH (-17.5 run adjustment), WAR would not be the best method to evaluate which player to sign if you are looking to sign either A or B to a DH-only role. Player A looks better because his WAR is likely to be a full integer higher than B, but that does not mean A will be more valuable than B in the DH-only role. What teams should be looking at when evaluating prospective DH-only role players is not "who had the better WAR," but who had the better Batting Runs Above Replacement (BRAR) line.

    Quick tangent, on that note: Rotating mediocre offensive players, whose total value comes from all-around play, through the DH role is a terrible idea. The DH exists to maximize offense. Omar Visquel, who posted +1.3 WAR in limited action (62 games) last season, will not translate into winning additional games if you play him at DH.

    You want a guy like Thome because all he can give you is batting and he does it quite well. As I mentioned before, it is one thing if you are someone who can play OF or 1B or whatever. If this be the case, then by all means, please use WAR to compare and contrast players. Here, you want the healthiest, most all-around contributing player. However, this is a DH-only situation for Jim Thome and any team looking to sign him is looking for a DH-only player to play only DH. In this situation, you need to look not at WAR, but BRAR, and note that a DH-only player is bound to have a more limited WAR than comparably good hitting non-DH-only players.

    Of all DH's who received 250+ PA's last year, only three (Adam Lind, Jason Kubel and Hideki Matsui) had WARs higher than Thome (who posted a +1.5 WAR mark as a DH for the Sox). Of those three, only Lind was worth +3 or more WAR (+3.7, to be exact). Additionally, all three of Lind, Kubel and Matsui received somewhere between 100 and 200 more PA's than Thome did in 2009.

    Thus, we cannot evaluate a DH from last season, who we are prospectively signing as DH for this season, and say "oh he's only an X WAR guy." Obviously the guy whose slightly good at defense and offense combined and plays a valuable position will be worth more in the field, but as a DH, it's about one thing and one thing only. What's your batting line? And Thome's is still good.


    ADDENDUM: I would also here like to here quote an earlier post, as I feel this comment is quite relevant to this overall argument:
    "As a RF, Dunn's cumulative batting and fielding production gets a -7.5 positional adjustment (UZR measures all defense equally; Fangraphs accounts for differences in fielding difficulty between positions in WAR calculations thru positional adjustments). As a DH, Dunn would get a flat -17.5 positional adjustment and a zero fielding rating. In other words, as a DH, Dunn just get -17.5 runs subtracted from his batting line. As a RF (or LF, for that matter), Dunn gets -7.5 subtracted from his batting line in addition to his lackluster fielding. Thus Dunn, like anyone with a consistent -10 or worse fielding glove at RF/LF, belongs in a DH role."
    The same holds true for any 1B who plays with a -12.5 FRAR (Fielding Runs Above Replacement) or worse glove. They too, like the poor outfielder and frequently unhealthy slugger, belong in a DH-only role. The thing is, it's very hard to be that bad at first base...only Adam Dunn was at least that bad last season...

    Jim Rome Is My Hero

    It's a shock to me that I haven't pledged my love to Jim Rome on this blog. Honestly, I would dedicate an entire blog to Jim Rome and his radio show, tv show, and life in general. Yes, we do love Bill Simmons and Adam Carolla on this blog, but I grew up listening to Jim Rome. I would actually record his live stream on the radio while in school and anxiously run home to listen to his "smack". I'm going to make a conscious effort to produce more and more Jim Rome related posts. Every talking head on TV has an opinion, but no one brings it like the "Pimp in the Box". And those of you who only know him from TV don't really understand what he's all about.

    Today on television, he had one of the simplest, yet best one liners i've ever heard. Discussing Tim Tebow's struggles at the Senior Bowl practices, where Tebow kept fumbling the snap under center, he said "look intangibles are great, but you know whats even better? Tangibles." Finally, we have a national proponent of G/9

    The Blackhawks Know How To Party

    The Blackhawks recently got embarrassed on the ice against the Vancouver Canucks, but they more then made up for it the limo after-party. Yes, you may call this somewhat gay as there are 3 half naked men in the back of the limo, but considering they shower together every day, it's actually a step up. And there are 1.5 attractive girls with them...

    It's Xavier Nady!

    Xavier Nady is kinda famous within this travesty to mankind we call GOI. For all you die hard baseball fans who wasted 9 bucks watching another Adam Sandler tank job called "I now pronounce you Chuck and Larry" would have seen Xavier Nady's blurred out face batting for the Mets on television in one of the scenes. I've seen enough baseball to basically know every players silhouette, so when I saw Nady's swing in the background, I instinctively yell out "It's Xavier Nady" so the whole theater can hear me. Trust me, it was the most entertaining part of the movie. All four..errr..three members of this blog were in attendance and got a good laugh, at me, or with me, who care. And it has stuck as an inside joke for blog years.

    Nady has always been and remains a 4th outfielder, as is his role with the Cubbies. Nady has always been a 1-tool hitter, given that he has career Matt Kemp power. Yet, no other skills have developed for the 31-year old righty. Does this warrant a 1-year contract that can be worth as much as $5.35 million? The best comparison I can give you is that Nady is a slower, worse defensive version of Ryan Spilborghs. Then why didn't Hendry just get Ryan Spilborghs instead? He's even one of Hendry's Boys! Don't believe me, well look here and here and here. With Nady's average at best defense, low on-base, and insignificant speed, I would not expect more than a 1 WAR season. Still he's better than Joey Gathright so that's a positive.

    Greg Oden Poses For Playgirl, In His Own Bathroom, With His Own Camera (NSFW)

    If you don't like to start your day with the sight of a giant, black man's genitalia, then this slideshow is definitely not for you.


    Apparently Oden's legal team has been threatening blogs for displaying his private parts with unauthorized photos, so I decided to take them down from our site as well. I mean it would be hard for Oden to sue us, considering we have no money. And I dont even know how he would reach our blog. Heck, I dont even know how to reach our blog.

    For those of you who are not threatened by state and federal law, you can find the pictures here

    How To Be A Notre Dame Fan

    Courtesy of Sparty & Friends

    David Garrard Is A Pro-Bowler? Really!?

    This is another reason the actual Pro Bowl game is dumb. Because there is an actual game and because essentially all good to halfway decent AFC QBs are injured, David Garrard gets to put another Pro Bowl on his resume.

    -Peyton Manning- going to Superbowl (and because Goddell is retarded and has the Pro Bowl BEFORE the Superbowl, Manning won't play in Pro Bowl)
    -Tom Brady- injured
    -Phillip Rivers- injured
    -Ben Roethlisberger -injured in Week 17 so never even got Pro Bowl honors
    -Matt Schaub- starter
    -Vince Young- first back up

    And now David Garrard. Wonderful. This is worse than Kerry Collins going over Phillip Rivers last year. Jay Cutler had a better year than than David Garrard.

    Garrard was 16th in the NFL in yards (8th in the AFC), 17th in the NFL in QB Rating (8th in the AFC), 15th (8th)in Completion Percentage, 22nd (10th) in TDs, and 23rd (12th) in INTs.

    Even if you HAVE to have three QBs and you need a third, you then go in third order: Kyle Orton, Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer AND THEN David Garrard.

    Flow Charts Are My New Favorite Fad

    The Adam Dunn All-Stars

    Adam Dunn is a unique baseball player. He combines Cecil Fielder's power, Rickey Henderson's plate discipline, Rob Deer's contact rates, with Chuck Knoblauch's defense. DME and I set forth to put together the so aptly named Adam Dunn All-Stars of current MLBers who meet this strict criteria:

    C: Chris Iannetta
    1B: Russell Branyan
    2B: Dan Uggla
    SS: Alex Rodriguez
    3B: Mark Reynolds
    RF: Jack Cust
    CF: Jason Bay
    LF: Adam Dunn*
    DH: Jim Thome

    *Team Captain

    Stolen Goods: The Value Of A Good Farm System

    Sky Andrecheck over at The Baseball Analysts has a great piece up regarding the importance and impact of a good farm system on a team's future success. The article contains the following chart.

    Interesting stuff. Makes me wish the Cubs had a real farm system.

    Take That Nerdy Cornell Basketball Player

    I recently saw, on one of the top sports blogs no less, a video of a Cornell basketball player solving the Rubiks Cube in the airport while his teammates looked on in utter amazement. It took the kid nearly 3 minute to complete the cube. I'm no expert and will not be competing for the world record any time soon, but I know I can destroy 3 minutes with my eyes closed and hands tied behind my back. Let's get it on!

    Thats 2:50 by my calculations. My turn

    Thats 2:06 by my watch. Cornell basketball players are easily amused I suppose

    Is Adam Dunn Underrated?

    Is Adam Dunn underrated? Yes, Adam Dunn strikes out a lot (almost 1/3 of the time), plays poor defense, makes minimal contact with baseballs (his career contact rate is 71.5%; the MLB average was 80.5% last season) and has a career batting average just under .250. Still, Adam Dunn has a career OPS above .900. He's walked 913 times in 5417 career PAs (16.9% walk rate, .383 career OBP). Dunn's averaged 39.3 home runs per season (and hit exactly 40 like clockwork from 2005-2008). His .276 ISO over the past 3 seasons is the sixth best mark in the majors, while his 118 HRs over that span are two more than Pujols' 116 and his 339 BB's are second to no one.

    And yet, Dunn struggled to find work last offseason when he became a free agent (he didn't officially sign with the Nationals until February 12). This should have come as no surprise to even the most casual Adam Dunn follower. Dusty Baker never appreciated his skill set and J.P. think he's a useless slacker. Heck, even Jason Varitek unintentionally took a shot at Big Donkey.

    But it is not as though nobody except his mother likes him. Sabermetric-minded fellows, ranging from the casual and hilarious to the serious and boring (just kidding, I absolutely love THT) have defended Dunn from every jab taken at him. Even we at Game Of Inches have defended the Big Donkey in the past.

    But is Adam Dunn underrated?

    True, Adam Dunn is a great offensive player (career .384 wOBA), but he's also an equally atrocious fielder, a fact this is often glossed over (as it was in the introductory paragraph to this post). Winning baseball games, if boiled down to the most simplistic mathematical formula, is a differential between Runs Created and Runs Allowed. A run gained with a bat is equally as valuable as the run prevented with the glove.

    It is with this maxim in mind that I point out the follow fact which probably eludes the casual Dunn fan: Adam Dunn has been a sub-3 WAR player since 2005. He's been a sub-2 WAR player in all of those seasons except 2007. Over the past two years, Dunn has cumulatively worth under 2.5 WAR. By contrast, B.J. Upton, Andy LaRoche, Miguel Tejada and even Paul Konerko were more valuable in 2009 than Dunn has been cumulatively over the past two seasons. Last season, despite creating 35.5 runs more than the average player with his bat, Dunn was a meager +1.2 WAR player thanks to the 36.3 runs his glove cost the Nationals. Omar Vizquel, who only played 62 games last year, was worth +1.2 WAR.

    Yeah, Adam Dunn is that bad at fielding.

    Fangraphs values Dunn's +1.2 WAR performances in 2008 and 2009 at just over $5 million in terms of free agency dollars. And yet, the world of baseball was shocked when Dunn was "only" able to sign a contract for 2-years, $20 million. Dunn was paid $8 million last season and is set to earn $12 million this season. Even if Dunn's fielding, which has been on the decline since 2004, is half as bad as it was this season, he will be, assuming that his offensive production remains steady, a +3ish WAR player. In terms of free agency dollars, a 3.0 WAR season would be worth approximately $13.5 million next season. If this is the case, then Dunn would have been "overpaid" by $1 million by the Nationals over the life of his contract -- not bad, essentially market value.

    So I beckon the same question again: is Adam Dunn really underrated? Or is he just so underrated that he has become overrated (or at least adequately rated)? What is clear is that Adam Dunn belongs in the AL, playing DH (where players get a -17.5 positional adjustment to their batting line, half of Dunn's negative fielding impact).


    Valuable Post Script:

    As a RF, Dunn's cumulative batting and fielding production gets a -7.5 positional adjustment (UZR measures all defense equally; Fangraphs accounts for differences in fielding difficulty between positions in WAR calculations thru positional adjustments). As a DH, Dunn would get a flat -17.5 positional adjustment and a zero fielding rating. In other words, as a DH, Dunn just get -17.5 runs subtracted from his batting line. As a RF (or LF, for that matter), Dunn gets -7.5 subtracted from his batting line in addition to his lackluster fielding. Thus Dunn, like anyone with a consistent -10 or worse fielding glove at RF/LF, belongs in a DH role.

    I'm placing a "Quintessential Sabermetrics Argument" tag on this post because it underlines the unheralded importance of fielding.

    The Bengie Molina All-Stars

    Bengie Molina is what we call a unique baseball player. He combines a 20 home run bat with Shawon Dunston's walk rate, Chuck Knoblauch's defense, Mark McGwire's speed, and Big Fat Bartolo Colon's physique. DME and I set forth to put together the so aptly named Bengie Molina All-Star team of current MLBers who meet the this strict criteria:

    C: Bengie Molina*
    1B: Mike Jacobs
    2B: Jose Lopez
    SS: Miguel Tejada
    3B: Jorge Cantu
    RF: Jose Guillen
    CF: Vernon Wells
    LF: Juan Rivera
    DH: Miguel Olivo

    *Team Captain

    Can The White Sox PLEASE Bring Back Thome

    ESPNChicgao reported that Ozzie Guillen wants to make up his mind about whether or not to resign Jim Thome by tomorrow. The answer should be a clear and unequivocal "Yes, I want to sign Jim Thome!"

    This argument of a rotating DH is dumb. Just like what Matthew Berry says- you always want the line up that consists of the best players to give you the best chance of winning, and Thome is a better player than any of the players the Sox are considering for their rotating DH role (like Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones, or Mark Kotsay).

    At age 39, Thome can still play (at DH). There have been minimal decline in his skills during his stint on the Sox and there's no reason that if Thome doesn't play defense (which he won't), that he can't stay relatively healthy and productive. And the fact that Thome is still on the open market tells me that other teams are also dumb, they don't want Thome, and thus the Sox should be able to get him relatively cheap.

    Here is all the categories Thome was better than Kotsay, Jones, or Vizquel last year:
    -Dollars (fangraphs stat)
    -Salary (fangraphs stat)
    -Batting value (fangraphs stat) [Vizquel and Kotsay were negative]

    You may not understand all of the stats, but just understand this, Jim Thome is a better offensive player than any player being considered for Guillen's "rotating DH" spot

    Sure, there are absolutely signs of Thome's age coming around, like a steady decrease of his ISO since he joined the Sox (yet last year Thome still had a better ISO than Vizquel and Kotsay last year). But Thome is still walking at a constant rate, hitting fly balls and line drives at a fairly constant rate. Sure he's been swinging at pitches outside the zone more and more for the past three years, but he's also been making more and more contact with balls thrown outside the zone as well. Fact is, Jim Thome has a damn fine eye for pitches still (kind of goes along with DME's theory for why older players in baseball tend to be guys that also walk a lot) and can still be productive.

    Jim Thome is without a doubt the Sox's best option at DH, can still play, and probably would not cost the Sox a lot. I see no downside to signing Thome and again am pissed at Kenny Williams being a dumbass.

    Carl Skanberg summed it up nicely (Smells Like Mascot link on right and scroll down to the "Quest for DH" comic strip).

    Why Is Jonny Gomes Unemployed?

    As, I've previously asserted, Jonny Gomes is sort of an Adam Dunn-lite. The only real difference between the two is the walk rate (Gomes is a career 9.9% walker, while Dunn's career walk rate is a majestic 16.9%; league average is under 9%). Of course, when you have a player who, like Dunn, makes contact with only 70% of his offerings (league average is around 80%) and strikes out a ton (32.2% career strike out rate), you probably want them to get on base by walking (or getting plunked) as much as possible because they probably aren't going to hit their way on (much to Dusty Baker's chagrin). Still, that hasn't kept Gomes from posting a league average .330 OBP through out his career. But we all know you don't hire Gomes for his walking abilities or his fielding talents. It's that sexy .230 career ISO that attracts, or should attract, major league teams. You know who also has a .230 career ISO? Chase Utley. You know who doesn't? Joe Mauer.

    Now I'm not here to advocate that Jonny Gomes is going to light the world on fire for any team he plays for. That .274 ISO last season is probably going to come down and even though his K% has improved each of the last few seasons, Gomes is still going to strike out around 30% of the time and force teams to stomach a .250 BA and .330 OBP somewhere in the lineup. He's still going to hit a lot of extra base hits, however, and it's not like he's got the feet or body of a Molina brother. It beckons the question of what can we expect from Gomes in 2010?

    Last season, Gomes hit .267/.338/.541 (.879 OPS) with 20 HRs and a .313 BABIP in half of a season of game play. According to THT's xBABIP calculator, Gomes' luck neutral BABIP (xBABIP) was a somewhat comparable .306. As a result, Gomes' xHit barely takes a hit, falling from 75 to 74. Even if we assume that lost hit was a home run, Gomes would have hit .263/.334/.527 (.861 OPS) in a luck-neutral environment in 2009.

    So what does that say for 2010? It says that Gomes .373 wOBA was not entirely unreasonable and that even with a slight decline in power, a .350 wOBA is entirely plausible for Gomes. Gomes's fielding inabilities will likely counterbalance his offensive contributions, but when you account for other adjustments like positional (-7.5 runs) and replacement (+20 runs), you are left with a +1 or so WAR player. That would make Gomes a $3.5 to 4 million dollar player in terms of 2010 free agency dollars. CHONE seems to agree with me, claiming that Gomes is a +2 run bat and -6 run glove over 150 games. That's nothing special, but Gomes won't cost you much and it's an investment worth taking a risk on given Gomes' clear power upside.

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    The Worst Sports Announcer In The World Competition (championship)

    A mighty thank you to everyone who voted in the playoff round of The Worst Sports Announcer In The World Competition. We've grown from a meager 31 votes cast in round one to 119 for the playoffs. It was a close one, but two finalists have emerged from the thirty-two names which began it all. Joe Morgan just barely edged out Hawk Harrelson by one vote, while Jay Mariotti, in perhaps the biggest upset of this competition, took in more votes than Joe Buck.

    So who is worse? Who makes your ears bleed more? Joe Morgan or Jay Mariotti? Cast your vote in the final round of The Worst Sports Announcer In The World Competition by clicking HERE (sorry, but voting has closed) or by clicking the giant blue link atop the page. The winner will be announced Wednesday, February 3.

    The results for the playoff round are below (click to enlarge):

    Corey Maggette is having the best month ever

    A little history on Corey Maggette. He grew up playing basketball on the Chicago playgrounds before taking his game to Duke University. He was one of the first Dukies to leave college before his senior, thanks to his incredible build(6'6") and physic(225LB). Spending most of his career playing for the Clippers in LA, he has been the model of consistency. Though never the best player on his team, nor the team leader, his career output of 17/5/2 with .457/.321/.821 makes you a lot of money in the NBA. He has always been an underrated player who's efficient style of play gets overlooked in the numbers driven league.

    At age 30, he is enjoying the best season of his career. Despite taking a modest 12 shots per game, he is averaging 20.6 points per game. A shot efficiency difference of 8.6, would rank as the best differential of all time, and even more impressive given extremely low shot output. He has been able to accomplish this great season by shooting an unheard of 55% from the guard position to go along with 84% on the 8.6 free throw attempts he puts up each game. You may be asking yourself what the big deal is? A lot of players should be able to do that. Well, no. 55% from the field is probably equivalent to a baseball player hitting .360, while 8.6 FTA is like walking 100 times in a season. Both incredible achievements. Let alone both in the same season.

    However, those season stats aren't even in the same statosphere when compared to what Maggette has accomplished in the month of January. He has increased his shot total to just under 15 per game in the 10 games he has player this month, while his point total has soared to 29.2 per game. That is an unimaginable scoring efficiency difference of14.4!!!! He has averaged nearly 2 points for every shot he takes from the field. Imagine if Kobe Bryant had that type of efficiency. Considering his 23 shots per game, that would equate to about a 45 point per game average. In reality, Kobe only averages 28. So Maggette is scoring 1 more point, while taking 8 less shots than the great Kobe Bryant in this month. Sure this is a tiny sample size of 10 games, with no chance of Maggette extending this production through the entire season, but this accomplishment cannot be overlooked. I would equate it to Sammy Sosa hitting 20 homers in June of 1998.

    So how has Maggette been able to pull of this Wilt Chamberlinian performance you may ask? His triple slash lines are a good start, 29/7.5/4 and .588/.375/.906, but the biggest thing is his free throw proficiency. He has attempted at least 10 free throws in all 10 games this month. In comparison, Kobe has only done that twice this month, and Derrick Rose's career high is only 9. So he's averaged 12.7 FTA and hit 90 percent of those for a sweat 11.5 "free" points each game. So the combination of a crazy high field goal percentage and a dozen free points equals the single most efficiency scoring month I have ever seen.

    Maybe Corey Maggette can start getting some love around the NBA

    Cliff Lee Seeking 10-year, $200 Billion Dollar Deal

    Details here (interesting interview with the Seattle Times).

    On another note, I am not the only one hating on Gary Matthews Jr.

    Derrick Rose cocks it back for the flush

    Dusty Baker Flow Chart

    Continuing this week's Dusty Baker theme, here is the greatest flowchart ever created by man (click to enlarge):

    Reproduced with permission of Beyond The Boxscore.

    Gary Matthews Jr.: Addition By Subtraction

    Unlike his father before him, Gary Matthews Jr. has never been a good hitter. Since his debut in 1999, he has only three times been an above-average hitter (2002 [116], 2004 [105], and 2006 [120 wRC+]). Matthews Jr. was a good fielder back in the day, however. From 2002-2006, he was worth 45.4 fielding runs above replacement (FRAR) in centerfield. Since 2007, it's been an entirely different story however. After posting a 3.2 WAR season in 2005 and 4.2 WAR season in 2006, the Angels inked Matthews Jr. to a 5 year, $50 million contract, somehow expecting him to maintain his 3-4 WAR ways through his age 33-38 years.

    Clearly, they were wrong. Since, Matthews has been worth +0.5, -0.8, and -0.8 WAR. He's actually cost the team approximately $5.2 million dollars in lost production. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the Angels were forced to "Alex Rios" him to the Mets (give him away for nothing and eat almost all of his contract). What should come as a surprise is that Gary Matthews Jr. is getting a $500,000 pay raise next year for getting traded. That's right, GMJ has a clause in his contract which awards him an additional $500,000 in salary every time he's traded.

    So how bad is Gary Matthews Jr.? He's so bad, you have to pay him more to get rid of him. Not even Neifi Perez was that cruel.

    Sad News

    It is our sad news to announce today that one of this blog's founding members, Cubsfan4ever, will no be longer contributing material as a "regular contributor" to this blog. We will miss him dearly as a regular, though guest posts of his may appear from time to time.

    DME, TBO, and SexyRexy will continue to work diligently towards the proliferation of the material, image and overall quality that is Game Of Inches.

    Jesus v. Baseball

    The lord giveth and the lord taketh. Just ask Rocco Baldelli or Corey Lidle. One day you're on top of the world, and then the next you face the crippling mortality of man.

    Today, the lord took another victim of America's greatest past time, Grant Desme. Just a few months removed from a breakout minor league season where he hit .288/.365/.568 (.933 OPS) with 31 HR in A-ball and lit up the AFL, Desme is hanging up his cleats and picking up his bible. Goodbye baseball, hello priesthood. Just reaffirmation of a motto we've previous asserted here at Game Of Inches: "Jesus saves."

    (Note: I am not, nor am trying to, make fun of the death of any major league baseball player)

    Pro Bowl Selections Get Slighty Evened Out

    Like every year for the Pro Bowl, players selected get "injured" and new, deserving players get to go to the Pro Bowl and still have on their resume.

    1) Frank Gore replaces Steven Jackson. While I think Jackson should have been the starter, Gore absolutely should have been the first alternate (over AD) and deserved a spot over DeAngelo Williams. It's a great thing Gore gets to go to the Pro Bowl this year

    2) Matt Schaub replaces Tom Brady. Schaub was the 4th best QB in the AFC this year so I didn't think he deserved to necessarily represent the AFC. But he probably was a top 5 QB this year and deserved to be rewarded for the great season he had.

    3) Steve Smith (NYG) replaces Larry Fitzgerald. I personally think Marques Colston deserved to go if an NFC wide out didn't go, but you can make a damn fine argument for Smith and he still had a very good year

    4) Vince Young replaces Phillip Rivers. Once Peyton Manning wins the AFC Championship Game, all three selected AFC QBs will not go to the Pro Bowl, so was Young the 5th or 6th best AFC QB this year? I don't know because it's hard to measure Vince Young. But I still would have selected Ben Roethlisberger (ugh this pains me to say that) over Young.

    5) Chad Ochocinco replaces Wes Welker. Randy Moss gets screwed again. Moss, Vincent Jackson, and Santonio Holmes all had better years than Ochocinco.

    There have been some other replacements like Clay Matthews over Lance Briggs and Jonathan Goodwin replaced Andre Gurode, but who really cares about "non-skilled" players, right?

    How To Fix All-Star Selections

    There are major flaws with All-Star selections in any major sport and how the games itself are played. I'm here to help you baby birds and I'm going to fix the system.

    Most major sports select their All-Stars midway through the season. This becomes a huge problem because who really deserves to be an All-Star, the best of the best, should be determined by the sample size of an entire season. By not deciding All-Stars at the end of a season, we, as sports fans and sports leagues, are only giving honors and rewarding players for only playing part of a season. Yet players still play after an All-Star selection, players still put up stats after a selection, and players still (for the most part) put in effort to continue to win games. Everything that athletes do after an All-Star selection essentially becomes meaningless and void. Think about this, Jermaine Dye was an All-Star snub last season and Brad Hawpe was an All-Star. When you look at these players numbers at the time of All-Star voting, these players rightfully deserved to go. But each of these players had awful second halves. Worse than getting Paris Hilton's sloppy 5,212th bad. After a season, we judge how a player is doing after his entire body of work. If a player has been inconsistent (i.e. a guy like Pat Burrell), he gets criticized for it. But that's not how it's done with All-Star voting. Because we don't know how a players' entire season gets played out, we are rewarding players for being good for a period of time. But if that same players becomes inconsistent, he receives less of a punishment because he already has his All-Star selection.

    This is also an argument about fairness. A guy with a great first half and shitty second half doesn't get the same treatment as a guy with an awful first half but a phenomenal second half. Even if you don't want to classify something as "fair" or not, there's just something inside of you that you know is wrong to select All-Stars before the season is over. Think about it. When you vote for MVPs, you vote for them at the end of the year. In other sports like football, Pro Bowl alternates are chosen based upon their entire season of work (because the season is over when these players are chosen). When you look back upon an athletes year they had, you look at their entire year- not just part of it.

    So now that we've decided that All-Stars should be chosen after a season is over, we must now determine who gets to choose who becomes an All-Star. Number one plan implemented is that ordinary fans are not allowed to vote on players. Ordinary fans are dumb and do not know how to truly measure how good a player is. This year the aging and crappy A.I. was voted an All-Star based upon what he has done throughout his career. Alfonsio Soriano and Manny Rameriz got an unnecessary and high amount of votes for last years MLB All-Star. Now I'm not suggesting that everyone has to be as "smart" or in depth as a guy like DME is with baseball to be allowed to vote, but if fans are to have the power to vote, then there needs to be a screening process first.

    I'm all for having players and managers/coaches have a huge input. Sure, occasionally you get what happened in 2008 where the players voted the awful Jason Varitek as the 3rd AL catcher over A.J. Pierzynski because everyone hates AJ and Varitek is well respected. But as whole, these people see and evaluate others in the league and truly know the worth of each players. I'm also not against having columnists and well known and respected analysts vote on All-Stars like they tend to do for MVP and Hall of Fame voting, but again a screening process needs to be utilized. We don't need any Steve Phillips voting on All-Stars based upon what he "sees with his eyes" (in fact, any analysts who solely basis his decision upon a players worth but his eyesight alone is not only not allowed to vote on All-Stars but is also banished from the sport). This system establishes that the "true" All-Stars get chosen.

    Now let me pause her for a second and tell you why chosing All-Stars this way is important. The biggest argument I've heard is that "All-Star games are the fans game. This is a game just for the fans and the fans should be able to choose what they want to see." This reasoning is flawed in two respects. The first, is that the fans absolutely don't give a shit about the games itself. The NFL moved the Pro Bowl from a week after the Superbowl to the week before because nobody watched nor cared about it. Sure people watch the MLB All-Star game, but that's just because "it means something" and most fans will tell you that choosing home field advantage via the All Star game is a dumb idea. Fans do not care inherently about the games themselves; they just don't.

    Secondly, and more importantly, All-Star selections help determine Hall of Fame voting. Of course All Star selections are not the end all be all, they still are a major factor that HOF voters look at when determining who belongs as the best of the best. A sport like baseball is starting to, and can, trend away from that because statistics are a FANTASTIC way to judge individual talent. But stats are harder for a sport like football. Stats are not necessarily the best way to judge say about how is the best offensive tackles of all time, or safeties. In this instance, All-Star selections are a great way, like The Hidden Game of Football suggests, to determine HOFers. This is also another reason to why AS selections should be after an entire season and not in the middle.

    Lastly, the games themselves. As mentioned earlier, nobody gives a crap about them. Sure SOME people would throw a stink of there never was an All-Star game again, but I think a side poll GOI had (of course not in the least scientific nor am I claiming it is) showing people didn't care about the Pro Bowl, is indicative of fans view All Star games in general. The game itself is worthless to people, it's the athletes that have been selected that people care about.

    So the final solution? First, have AS selections done after a season has ended. Next, have a screening process so only those who really know how to evaluate athletes are allowed to have an input in AS selections. Lastly, just have a list (analogous to what college basketball does with it's First All American teams or Silver Sluggers) of who is an All Star; there is no need to play a meaningless game.

    Boom. Done. I've fixed everything. Sure, some people (like say league commissioners who will lose a shit ton of money and revenue that All Star games bring to their sports), but screw those guys. This is for the greater good.

    Does Kurt Warner Belong In The Hall Of Fame?

    Today on ESPN's Pardon The Interruption, they will debate this because it is theorized that Warner will retire before the start of next season. As if ESPN didn't already beat a dead horse with this when the Cardinals went to the Superbowl, ESPN is bringing back this argument.

    Luckily for you, GOI has already answered this question for you. Read my original post here.

    My Dad Is Cooler Than Your Dad

    Michael Jordan Has A Personality. Who Knew?

    So It Begins...

    I've begin Mock Drafting live over on I just drafted a 23-player, 12-team team from the 4th spot and ended up with the following players:

    C-Geovany Soto (11)
    1B-Chris Davis (9)
    2B-Dan Uggla (5)
    SS-Asdrubal Cabrera (12)
    3B-Alex Rodriguez (1)
    OF-Ichiro Suzuki (3)
    OF-Nelson Cruz (4)
    OF-Jay Bruce (7)
    UT-Ian Stewart (13)
    SP-Felix Hernandez (2)
    SP-Javier Vazquez (6)
    SP-Ricky Nolasco (8)
    RP-Jose Valverde (10)
    RP-Billy Wagner (14)
    P-Kevin Slowey (15)
    P-Kerry Wood (16)
    P-Ben Sheets (17)
    P-Aaron Harang (18)
    BN-Scott Downs (19)
    BN-Derek Lowe (20)
    BN-Todd Helton (21)
    BN-Matt Thorton (22)
    BN-Gio Gonzalez (23)

    I noticed the bulk of pitchers and shortstops (as a whole) went late, while Catchers, 3B and OF went quickly.

    The Onion Must Read Our Blog

    Just a few days after I introduced Aldrois Chapman to Dusty Baker, parody paper The Onion decided to take their own take on the situation:
    CINCINNATI—Within just a few minutes of Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman's arrival in the United States, Reds manager Dusty Baker had already overused and mangled the 21-year-old's arm beyond recognition, team sources reported Sunday. Baker, who has been accused of overtaxing young pitchers' arms in the past, reportedly greeted Chapman with a bucket of 250 baseballs and told him to "hurl them" as fast as he could, later encouraging the fastballer to "go nuts" with his pitching style. "He didn't even let me stretch out first," Chapman told reporters through an interpreter. "And when I started to wince from the pain and soreness, he just gave me a thumbs up, winked, and told me to keep throwing."
    Gotta love The Onion.

    The Quintessential Sabermetrics Argument: Batting Average (and Hits)

    If you believe in statistics, then you have undoubtedly encountered what I like to call "The Chris Rongey Quotient" (granted, in hindsight, arguing that Rios is a worse value than Nix was quite silly on my part -- still the underpinnng denial of Rongey that stats explain important things is fun to listen to). This set of humanity consists of people who have watched sports longer than you, know more about useless stats than you, may or may not work "in the industry," think Andre Dawson is better than Tim Raines and also ignore/insult all of that which disagrees with them. Such persons will constantly pester you with the same statements when you try and talk about sports intelligently: Who the hell is Billy Beane and why is his stupid book (which I've never read) so stupid? Stats are for people who live in their mother's basement. You can't score runs if you don't get any hits. You just made that stat up.

    Maybe you are not a stat-a-phobic person. Maybe you are just a person who wants to know "whats up." You like sports and want to learn more, but do not know where to begin.

    Whether you are the guy looking to shut Chris Rongey down or the guy who wants to learn more about basic sabermetrics, let this post and those that follow it (I am dubbing this series "The Quintessential Sabermetrics Argument") be your guiding light. We will begin with the basics (the quintessential truths, etc.) and then move towards their application.

    Lets get things started with a very basic topic: Batting Average (and Hits).

    To explain why batting average and hits are pointless "metrics" by which to measure a hitter's abilities and run scoring, we must consider first what is a hit. To put it most simplistically, a "hit" is a ball put into play which is not converted into an out. The question is not what is a hit, but why is it a hit, which illustrates the futility of the metric. Does the hitter truly earn his "hit?" In theory, yes. A ball smoked to the gap is clearly an "earned hit." But why was the hit earned? Where is this "gap?" Is it a fix position? No.

    A hit is simply this: a ball put into play that slips through the defensive positioning and ability of the fielders. Are either of these factors within the control of the hitter? No, not really. The difference between a double to the gap or a caught liner is simply "was the shift on?" A hit up the middle versus a double play can be a question of whether or not the shortstop was holding the runner at second on. The difference between a liner down the line and a caught ball is whether or not Ryan Howard was playing 1B or DH in an interleague game.

    Clearly the hitter controls or exercises some control over the direction of the ball and the strength of contact by "timing" and "squaring" the pitcher's offering, but once the ball is in play, whether or not that balls is a "hit" is almost entirely depending on the positioning and ability of the defense. The glaring exception to this rule, of course, is the home run. That is a "hit" truly and 100% earned, although fielders can even steal those sometimes.

    In short, hits are not something a player particularly controls. There is a lot of luck involved and over long enough sample sizes, luck tends to average out. It is not shocking, therefore, that over 162 games against 20 or so teams, a player's collective "balls in play" (BIP, non-HR balls put into play) which are converted into hits tend to fluctuate between a normative band of numbers (usually between .290 and .310, though any given player's BABIP varies based on his speed, types of contact (each of GB, FB, LD are differently correlated with BABIP), and strength of contact). Last season, the lowest BABIP a team had was .285 (the Reds) and the highest a collective team had was .326 (the Angels). Only four teams did not have a collective BABIP between .288 and .312 last season. The MLB average BABIP last season was .302.

    Thus, knowing that BABIPs tend to normalize (in aggregate towards .300 and individually towards a player's expected BABIP and that hits are mostly defendant on BIP averages, it is not so difficult to conclude that hits are a poor measure of a hitter's ability -- if for no other reason than a hit is more in the fielder's control than that of the hitter.

    Is batting average also a poor metric by which to measure a player and team's ability to score runs? I will pretend that you answer my rhetorical question by stating "of course it isn't, that's why we have RBIs" because 1) runners being on is situational and independent of a hitter's ability, 2) the normalizing effects of BIP do not cease effect in high leverage (clutch) situations, and 3) clutchiness really does not exist (read the link for more info on why).

    To answer my question, I posed another question: how does one score runs? Scoring runs is accomplished by a two-step process: putting runners on and moving them over. Putting a runner on base is measured by On Base Percentage (OBP), which accounts for both hits and walks. Hits are largely a function of luck and regression towards some mean over time, while walking is more of a static skill (a player's ability to read the strike zone and determine a pitch's trajectory is not as dependant on outside factors other than an umpire's [in]ability to call balls and strikes). Moving the runner over is measured by the hitter's power, or ISO (Slugging Percentage (SLG) minus Batting Average (AVG)). A double will move a player over more bases than a single and a triple more than a double, while a home run will clear the bases and score the batter. The higher a player's power, the higher his SLG. Because SLG is measured as ((1B)+(2*2B)+(3*3B)+(4*HR))/(AB), a player with absolutely no power (hits only singles) would have a SLG of 1B/AB, where H (hits) would be equal to 1B. Thus, a player with no power's SLG would be equal to his AVG (AVG=H/AB). As a player has more power, his SLG becomes larger than his BA. This is why a player's power is measured by ISO.

    Where, I dare ask you, is "hits" a component of this runs-scoring model? It exists, hidden away in getting on base and to some extent moving the runner over, but the "ability to get more hits than the average guy" component of the game that most people attend to when they say "he's a good hitter" is more noise than evaluation. " AVG, though not entirely useless, is a misleading and inefficient metric by which to measure runs scoring ability. It's a part of the equation, but it is a misnomer to point to batting average as a point of leverage in the equation. The best metrics which account for runs scoring are OBP (which encapsulates AVG (which does account for 50-65% of OBP)) and ISO.

    Any questions?

    Bring Out Yer Dead: Jim Edmonds

    Earlier this month, it was announced that Big Mac might be added to the 25-man roster if the Cards are still in contention on August 31. Now LaRussa is in talks with bringing back another retired ex-Card, Jim Edmonds.

    Edmonds of course did not voluntarily retire last year. Like other still productive players such as Frank Thomas and Kenny Lofton (and almost Pedro), Edmonds was left in the dust when the market for overpaid, aging players collapsed last offseason. Whereas Edmonds once, as recently as only a year or two prior, would have been almost guaranteed at least a one-year, $5 million deal, teams around the league (yes, even the Yankees) pushed to get younger, smarter and more efficient with their money.

    In only half a season (85 games) with the Cubs in 2008, Edmonds posted a ridiculous .256/.369/.569 triple-slash line (.394 wOBA) with 19 HR and 49 RBI. Edmonds did all of this with a .260 BABIP (.315 xBABIP using THT's xBABIP calculator). Bad luck, in theory, robbed Jim Edmonds of 10 hits. If we credit Edmonds with those additional hits and pessimistically assume that all of those additional hits would have been singles, Edmonds would have hit .296/.403/.608 (1.011 OPS) in his 298 PA stint on the Cubs. Amongst all major league players in 2008 who came to the plate 290+ times, only Albert Pujols (1.114 OPS), Chipper Jones (1.044 OPS), and Manny Ramirez (1.031 OPS) posted higher OPS's.

    During his brief tenure with the Cubs, Jim Edmonds was worth +14.4 Batting Runs Above Average (BRAR) and -6.7 Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAR). When you adjust his numbers for playing time and position, Edmonds came out to a 1.9 WAR player over essentially one half of a season for the Chicago Cubs. That extrapolates Edmonds as being a 3.5-4 WAR player over the course of a full season for the Cubs. All of this is before you adjust his batting line to account for bad luck.

    Edmonds is now 40 years old, however, and it would be somewhat naive to think he could repeat his 2008 season, especially being a year removed from major league play. Being incredibly pessimistic, let's just say that Edmonds would have been a 3.5 WAR player over the course of a full season of play in 2008. If we account the traditional -0.5 WAR adjustment for age by season, that still puts Edmonds as a +2.5 WAR player if he is still in shape. Subtract another -0.5 WAR for "being rusty" and you still, in theory, have a quality +2.0 WAR player.

    Now, a lot of this is of course "in theory." 298 PA is a poor sample size by which to judge OBP, SLG, OPS, and ISO. Edmonds is also going to turn 40 this year and dealt with several injuries in 2006 and 2007 which limited him to partial seasons (~400 PA) each year. There are clearly a lot of "what ifs" and "in theories" to be said here, but if Edmonds is healthy, and if the Cardinals (or any team, for that matter) are willing to take the risk, and if Edmonds is willing to take a huge paycut, then its very possible that Edmonds could be the ultimate low-risk, high-reward OF this season for a team with a budget crunch and holes to fill.

    Best Manning Commercial Yet...Real Life