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MLB Notes
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 7/10/2008 4:17:00 PM
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How frustrating is David Bush? First his impressive component numbers never matched his ERA. Then he was just plain bad last year. And now heís posted a ridiculous 20:0 K:BB ratio over his last two starts. It looks like heís reverted back to his helpful WHIP/hurtful ERA ways, which can be useful in NL-only leagues, but expect more disappointment shortly. And itís a shame too, because thereís clearly potential here.

Iím not going to nitpick the All-Star selections, but itís unconscionable Jason Varitek is on the team and Johan Santana isnít.

Mariano Rivera is simply amazing. At 36 years old, heís currently having the best season his already storied career. How about a 1.06 ERA, 0.64 WHIP and a decent 50:4 K:BB ratio. A reliever really shouldnít be in Cy Young conversations, but heíd finish in my top-5 right now.

Mike Pelfrey has allowed one run or fewer in three of his last four starts and five out of his last seven. Still, he was pounded in the other two outings and walked multiple batters in six of those seven starts. Heís finally showing signs of improvement, but Iíd concentrate more on his ugly 59:43 K:BB ratio than his 3.93 ERA.

How about Mark Mulderís comeback? Who had the 16th pitch in the pool?

Over the last five games, Miguel Cabrera is 11-for-23 with five homers and eight RBI. The time to buy-low has officially come and gone.

Midseason awards:

NL MVP: Lance Berkman Ė Chipper Jones and Albert Pujols are worthy candidates playing on superior teams, but Berkman has the better numbers and has played in at least 10 more games than each of them. Berkman leads major league baseball (and by a wide margin) with a .661 slugging percentage. He also paces the NL in total bases, extra-base hits, runs created and times on base. Heís also gone 14-for-16 on the base paths. His 1.107 OPS ranks first in baseball.

AL MVP: Milton Bradley Ė Heís missed 15 games on the year, and the Rangers are in third place. Still, Texas is a surprising 48-44 and remains in the playoff picture, and Bradley currently leads the AL in OBP (.441), slugging (.596) and adjusted OPS+. Heís homered every 15.3 at-bats and has been intentionally walked more than anyone in the league. Teammate Josh Hamilton deserves consideration, but Bradley has a 126-point OPS advantage on him.

NL Cy Young: Dan Haren Ė Most will pick either Edinson Volquez or Tim Lincecum, both of whom have had terrific seasons. But quietly, Haren has been the NLís best pitcher through the first half of the season. He doesnít have the gaudy K rate, but he leads the league with a 5.15:1 K:BB ratio, and itís not even close, thanks in no small part to an NL-best 1.53 BB/9 IP mark. Pitching in possibly the best hitterís park in the National League, Harenís league-leading 0.977 WHIP is truly remarkable.

AL Cy Young: Cliff Lee - Justin Duchscherer has been the ALís most dominant starter, but because he missed almost all of April, this one comes down to Lee and Roy Halladay. Although Halladay has pitched nearly 20 more innings, the difference in ERAs more than makes up for it on Leeís side. Both have equally impressive component stats. With a 1.037 WHIP and 5.21:1 K:BB ratio, Lee gets the nod.


One thing to look at with Bush is his home/road splits this year: 2.87 ERA at home, 6.95 on the road. He's been about 2 runs per game better at home than on the road each of the last two seasons as well. No real idea why, but it's something to think about if you're going to use him in your lineup. Three starts ago he got hammered at Arizona and anyone who watched that game would have thought he was throwing BP.
Posted by herbilk at 7/10/2008 4:46:00 PM
If you look at the numbers you can make the same argument for AROD as Bradley. Their numbers are eerily similar, take a look. I have a hard time giving the MVP to someone (either player previously mentioned) to someone who's missed 1/6 of the games.
Posted by kevinccp at 7/10/2008 5:03:00 PM
I read this 5X to make sure I wasn't hallucinating...
NL Cy Young: Dan Haren Ė Most will pick either Edinson Volquez or Tim Lincecum.
Your chances with him are OVER.
Posted by kevinccp at 7/10/2008 5:37:00 PM
I strongly disagree with Bradley as MVP. I'd argue two guys on his own team - Hamilton AND Kinsler - should be MVP before him. Hamilton has 21 more RBI than the second-highest guy. Kinsler leads the majors in runs (16 more than the next-highest AL guy), is hitting .335, has 14 HR and 53 RBI batting leadoff. But if the voting were right now, I think Carlos Quentin would win. The Sox are in first and he has held that lineup together.
Posted by MPStopa at 7/10/2008 5:45:00 PM
Herb - Great point about Bush's home/road splits and one I should have pointed out. That makes him much more usable, especially in daily leagues.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 7/10/2008 9:16:00 PM
Kevin - I'd have no problem giving the MVP to ARod. And I can also understand the reluctance to give it to him or Bradley because of the games missed - both valid arguments for sure...Dude, I can't let my man-love get in the way of objective analysis. Actually, it was a strategy to throw the judge off, so maybe now I can get the restraining order removed.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 7/10/2008 9:20:00 PM
Stopa - Kinsler is probably the fantasy MVP so far, but no way has he been a more valuable player than Bradley. Who cares about runs and RBI? That's almost as bad as saying my Haren pick was wrong because of his record. I mean, Kinsler's 81 runs scored are impressive, but Bradley has a .441 OBP compared to his .392, so how is that a criterion? Kinsler's a better base runner? Or is that more indicative of his teammates and where he hits in the lineup?

Regarding RBI, I actually wanted to write about this. Maybe there's a true skill here independent of stats like OPS. Ryan Howard currently has 83 RBI with a .234 BA (and a subpar OPS). But that's mainly because of an unsustainable BA with RISP, so that seems more like a fluke.

However, a better example is Carlos Lee, who has more RBI than any OF in baseball since 2003 and yet never had an OPS of .900 in his career. Sure, health is a big reason for that, but the RBI production is undeniable. He's been in good situations (where he hit in the order, lineup, ballparks), but I think there's something to the fact he doesn't strike out a ton for a slugger - and putting the ball in play appears to be a factor here.

Sorry to go off on a tangent. I was actually arguing for dependent stats like RBI for you there. But seriously, Bradley's been on base more often and done far more damage with his hits than your other two Texas candidates this season.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 7/10/2008 9:39:00 PM
Players who don't walk a lot like Carlos Lee get more RBI. Players who do walk a lot have higher OPS numbers because they make fewer outs. But all the RBI machine players like Juan Gonzalez, Garret Anderson and Joe Carter benefitted by not taking too many free passes. A sac fly with a man on third and no outs is far worse than a walk in most situations. RBI and OPS can go together, but then the player is incredibly efficient (Pujols) or lucky (Howard this year). Barry Bonds some years didn't get a ton of RBI because he was walking 200 times.
Posted by cliss at 7/10/2008 10:13:00 PM
As with any ratio, OPS doesn't take into account games missed due to injury. And while I hear what you are saying, Dalton, and I'm not saying it's a horrible analysis or anything, how often do you hear OPS used as the reason why a player is MVP? The year Morneau won the MVP his OPS was far from elite yet his RBI did it for him. Whether that's right or wrong, that's how it works.

And I'm not sure that isn't right. Shouldn't it be about run production? A two-out walk with nobody on helps your OPS. But why should that help the MVP discussion? At the end of the day, baseball is about scoring runs. So when a guy has 16 runs scored more than the second-highest run-scorer, or 21 RBI more than the second-place guy, that means more to me than aa higher OPS, esp. when the guy with the higher OPS missed games. All that said, I didn't pick Hamilton or Kinsler - I picked Quentin.
Posted by MPStopa at 7/11/2008 3:57:00 AM
That's exactly right, you never, if ever hear OPS as a reason why a player wins MVP. But that doesn't make it right. It just shows how clueless the media is in general. The pitchers who generally win Cy Youngs are the ones with the most wins. And the Morneau MVP choice was horrible. I'm not arguing who will win, I'm arguing who should win based on the best methods at evaluating baseball players.

Read what Liss said about the sac fly thing above. Why should a walk help the MVP discussion you ask? Because it makes you more valuable to your team. If it's about run production, then being on base more then the next guy should be a factor. Go ahead and argue against Bradley b/c he missed games, that's fine, but stats like runs/RBI are team/situational dependent and an unreliable metric to equate to value.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 7/11/2008 8:14:00 AM

Can you explain to me how the Giants can possibly justify bumping Lincecum up a day this week to get him a 2nd start before the break when he's clearly been showing signs of fatigue and in fact his velocity was down by about 5 MPH in the Mets start?

Bruce Bochy is going to turn this kid into the next Mark Prior...which would be a complete disaster.

Give Lincecum the day off on sunday and let him pitch on 8 days rest next Thursday.
Posted by billgoofnow at 7/11/2008 9:10:00 AM
varitek in the all-star game is a joke. and what's with the small market guys beating out the new yorkers for the last roster spot?

how is a sac fly with a runner on third and no outs "far worse than a walk in most situations"? assuming the sac fly is successful, that play = 100% chance of scoring a run. it's not the same as giving up an out by asking adam dunn to bunt a runner over from 1st to 2nd. tangotiger's "crucial situations" win expectancy charts show that taking the walk is only better in the 7th inning when the home team is down by one run (down one with no outs and runners on 1st & 3rd = .612; tied with bases empty and 1 out = .548) -- that's one out of six situations (the charts i found in a quick google search were for games tied or within one run in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings). i agree that low-OPS guys who manage to drive in runs might be overrated, but scoring runs is not.
Posted by claskowski at 7/11/2008 9:36:00 AM
I like the Kinsler argument because his 16 more runs at the end of the day count more than anything else. The argument shouldn't be who is the best player, it's who is having the most valuable season. and, where you hit in your lineup unfortunately will make a difference in your value.
Posted by nayfel at 7/11/2008 10:27:00 AM
Billgoofnow - I totally agree regarding Lincecum. This is a team with zero playoff hopes and needs to be more worried about the future. Bochy needs to go.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 7/11/2008 2:21:00 PM
claskowski - Interesting stuff. I'd be interested in checking out tango's chart. He def. knows his stuff. Do you know that a runner at first base and no outs scores more often than a runner at second with 1 out? Bunts are almost always the wrong decision.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 7/11/2008 2:24:00 PM
nayfel - I agree the MVP should be about who is having the most valuable season, but we just disagree on who that is. Bradley is on base more and does more damage with his hits.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 7/11/2008 2:48:00 PM
The guy from third is going to score most of the time anyway. You're usually giving the opposition a free out. If you walk, you have a 50 percent or so chance of scoring another run, and you haven't made an out. I say most situations because if it's tied in the bottom of the ninth (or even if you're down one), then the sac fly is more valuable. But in the third inning, I want the walk in that situation, not the sac fly.
Posted by cliss at 7/11/2008 5:04:00 PM
And it's not just sac flies. If Carlos Lee averages 50 less walks than a high OPS guy, that means he'll have 50 more official at-bats. If he were to walk every time, that's an OPS of 1.000. But his actual OPS is usually around .890. So his non-walk OPS is probably about .850. So for those 50 plate appearances he's giving you .850, and the walker is giving you 1.000. BUT over those 50 extra at-bats, Lee is going to get 10-11 more RBI. (well, maybe the walker gets a bases-loaded walk), so let's call it 10.

So for being less productive over those 50 at-bats, Lee is plus-10 RBI. That's why it's retarded to give the MVP to the guy with more RBI over the guy, who given the same number of plate appearances, has the better OPS.
Posted by cliss at 7/11/2008 6:07:00 PM
Keith Law picked Kinsler as his AL MVP today, for what it's worth.
Posted by spianow at 7/16/2008 7:33:00 PM

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