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Thursday, September 04, 2008

AL MVP Race - Offense Plus Defense (OPD) - Through Sept 02, 2008

Carlos Quentin? Dustin Pedrioia? Alex Rodriguez?  Who is the best candidate for the AL MVP?  Has Pedroia’s recent hot streak and media hype lifted him to a top five candidate?  He’s certainly played well enough to be the best player on his team.  Or has he?

What follows is a discussion of the AL OPD (offense plus defense) leaders and who should be headed for the MVP.  Sometimes the month of September can be enough to move players in this ranking when they are tightly bunched.  So, while these are the leaders, the rankings are not cemented. 

The runs are rated above average at position.  The offense is XR, park-adjusted, and specific to the number of outs a player has used up.  The defense is DRS (Defensive Runs Saved: ZR converted to runs), explained in my previous work.  It is runs, not plays, above average. The units are the same, so I simply add the numbers together.  The decimal places are for consistency’s sake, not meant to represent accuracy.  There are several runs of give in these (and any) numbers, offense or defense. 

In this data, the catcher defense is properly calculated, including all passed ball, stolen base data, as well as incorporating the ZR data.  This is different from previous datasets, but the complaining about it was enough to get me to make the effort. 

There is some taint in some of the defensive data.  If a player played more than one position, I have summed all of his defensive contributions and using that total number for his DRS at his Primary defensive position.  There are very few players this affects, and none are impacted significantly.  Marco Scutaro is significantly affected.  He is a +4 at SS, but plays all over well enough to boost that to a +12 defender.  I believe using all the data more accurately reflects his total contribution to his team’s successes.  I also include Tony Pena’s and Jamie Burke’s pitching runs.  All of the AL, plus team totals is shared in a Google Doc here.  The green represents the top mark in a category at a position and the yellow represents the worst mark.

All that done, let’s talk about some players.  Scroll to the bottom if you want to see who the AL MVP leader is.

Designated Hitter

Player	Name	Team	Primary	DRS	XRa+	OPD
Thome	Jim	CHW	DH	0.00	15.79	15.79
Ortiz	David	BOS	DH	0.00	9.88	9.88
Floyd	Cliff	TBR	DH	0.00	7.65	7.65

Well, these guys are out of the running.  They have a smaller set to be compared to, so perhaps I should lump them in with 1Bs?  No, that drops these guys by three runs.

First Base

Player	Name	Team	Primary	DRS	XRa+	OPD
Youkilis	Kevin	BOS	1B	6.37	23.15	29.52
Huff	Aubrey	BAL	1B	-3.86	31.99	28.12
Morneau	Justin	MIN	1B	-1.30	25.30	24.00
Pena	Carlos	TBR	1B	2.24	19.04	21.28

Youkilis is a very strong player.  He is presently fifth in the league in OPD, with Huff at seventh.  Here’s the first Oriole in the top performers list.  They had some players with terrific seasons.  Some people have suggested Morneau for MVP, but I don’t see it.

Second Base

Player	Name	Team	Primary	DRS	XRa+	OPD
Pedroia	Dustin	BOS	2B	8.70	18.88	27.58
Kinsler	Ian	TEX	2B	-0.44	26.29	25.85
Roberts	Brian	BAL	2B	0.49	23.46	23.95

Pedroia is the best second baseman after his hot streak.  It’s hard to say if he’ll be there on October 3rd.  His defense gives him an edge, but Roberts and Kinsler are better hitters and Pedroia could lose ground there quickly.  He does have lots of home games, so we’ll see.  Pedroia is 8th in the AL, three slots behind his teammate Youkilis.  I don’t think he’s the MVP.  And Roberts - another Oriole.

Shortstop

Player	Name	Team	Primary	DRS	XRa+	OPD
Scutaro	Marco	TOR	SS	12.38	7.11	19.49
Aviles	Mike	KCR	SS	2.85	14.24	17.10
Jeter	Derek	NYY	SS	-0.09	11.72	11.62

Marco Scutaro is getting an eight run boost playing defense all around the diamond, so the real leader here is Aviles.  Look at Derek Jeter being average at defense!  You go, Derek!

Third Base

Player  Name	Team	Primary	DRS	XRa+	OPD
Rodriguez	Alex	NYY	3B	-3.28	34.73	31.45
Beltre	Adrian	SEA	3B	13.94	6.23	20.17
Guillen	Carlos	DET	3B	9.34	10.46	19.80
Longoria	Evan	TBR	3B	0.12	19.60	19.72

It turns out that Alex Rodriguez is a superior player.  His defense isn’t good, but close to average.  Adrian Beltre is giving the Mariners what they paid for this year.  A great glove and a good bat.  What?  His OPS+ is 109?  That sounds about right.  Evan Longoria chased up the charts pretty good.  ARod is number four on the AL OPD chart.

Catcher

Player	Name	Team	Primary	DRS	XRa+	OPD
Mauer	Joe	MIN	C	3.15	29.25	32.39
Shoppach	Kelly	CLE	C	5.07	14.14	19.21

Joe Mauer is just a great player.  Too bad he’s too tall to be good for very long.  That injury to Victor Martinez is positively Bledsoe-ian.  At the end of the page, I extended the top twenty to twenty-two so I could capture Scutaro and Shoppach.  Just a little recognition for players that couldn’t possibly be getting the attention they deserve.  Mauer is third in teh AL MVP race, and still seeing his teammate get the most attention.

Left Field

Player	Name	Team	Primary	DRS	XRa+	OPD
Quentin	Carlos	CHW	LF	-0.90	29.77	28.88
Scott	Luke	BAL	LF	8.78	13.63	22.40
Damon	Johnny	NYY	LF	-2.40	22.53	20.13

Carlos Quentin and Luke Scott.  Who?  What?  Quentin is 6th in the league in OPD, and really been just tremendous all year.  Here’s the third Oriole.  How is that team so bad?

 
Right Field

Player	Name	Team	Primary	DRS	XRa+	OPD
Bradley	Milton	TEX	RF	-1.96	36.06	34.10
Markakis	Nick	BAL	RF	-2.65	25.56	22.91

The old dinosaur Milton Bradley is having a great year.  Not being body-slammed by your coach is helpful.  Bradley has the second highest OPD in the AL, but I don’t suspect he’ll see any MVP votes.  And another Oriole.

Center Field

Player	Name	Team	Primary	DRS	XRa+	OPD
Sizemore	Grady	CLE	CF	9.27	35.47	44.74
Grandersn	Curtis	DET	CF	1.01	22.66	23.67
Hamilton	Josh	TEX	CF	-4.57	25.03	20.47

Josh Hamilton will get the Texas MVP votes because he has the story, and he’s really helped my fantasy baseball this sason (as has Bradley).  Curtis Granderson is having a great season as well.  But the league MVP should be Grady Sizemore (if not Cliff Lee).  Sizemore has been everything a player can be - top hitter in the league and the best defensive center fielder.  That’s a great player.  the Indians are staging a furious, albeit futile, comeback, so perhaps he will get some votes. 

The Top Twenty (Two)

Player	Name	Team	Primary	DRS	XRa+	OPD
Sizemore	Grady	CLE	CF	9.27	35.47	44.74
Bradley	Milton	TEX	RF	-1.96	36.06	34.10
Mauer	Joe	MIN	C	3.15	29.25	32.39
Rodriguez	Alex	NYY	3B	-3.28	34.73	31.45
Youkilis	Kevin	BOS	1B	6.37	23.15	29.52
Quentin	Carlos	CHW	LF	-0.90	29.77	28.88
Huff	Aubrey	BAL	1B	-3.86	31.99	28.12
Pedroia	Dustin	BOS	2B	8.70	18.88	27.58
Kinsler	Ian	TEX	2B	-0.44	26.29	25.85
Morneau	Justin	MIN	1B	-1.30	25.30	24.00
Roberts	Brian	BAL	2B	0.49	23.46	23.95
Grandersn	Curtis	DET	CF	1.01	22.66	23.67
Markakis	Nick	BAL	RF	-2.65	25.56	22.91
Scott	Luke	BAL	LF	8.78	13.63	22.40
Pena	Carlos	TBR	1B	2.24	19.04	21.28
Hamilton	Josh	TEX	CF	-4.57	25.03	20.47
Beltre	Adrian	SEA	3B	13.94	6.23	20.17
Damon	Johnny	NYY	LF	-2.40	22.53	20.13
Guillen	Carlos	DET	3B	9.34	10.46	19.80
Longoria	Evan	TBR	3B	0.12	19.60	19.72
Scutaro	Marco	TOR	SS	12.38	7.11	19.49
Shoppach	Kelly	CLE	C	5.07	14.14	19.21

 

Chris Dial Posted: September 04, 2008 at 09:37 PM | 190 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Sam M. Posted: September 06, 2008 at 12:53 AM (#2930662)
Sam is hypersensitive about it because he called me crazy to compare him to Wright. The Yankee fans are hypersensitive because I suggested he was better than Cano and they told me I was crazy.

You should be happy to have been half-right and gloat at the Yankee fans, who (in any case) deserve it.

You might also consider Cano as a cautionary tale, since Pedroia has so far had only this one year . . . and Cano had a year just about as good in 2007 -- and where is he now? One year is enough to get giddy about, but it's not enough to base firm conclusions on. I know you think that Pedroia is immune to being looked back on as having had a flukish 2008, but people are going to be awfully ready to remind you if, by chance, it turns out you were -- egads! -- wrong. Tempering your fun now (even vis-a-vis Yankee fans) is an investment against the payback later, in case the worm turns again.
   102. Chris Dial Posted: September 06, 2008 at 12:59 AM (#2930685)
To be fair, the Yankee fans were saying Cano was better than Reyes, too. SO they got that one right. What?
   103. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 06, 2008 at 01:35 AM (#2930777)
What would you do if you were me? Be honest now.

Kill myself.
   104. villageidiom Posted: September 06, 2008 at 01:50 AM (#2930816)
Chris - earlier you said, effectively, that clutch performance in 2008 has no relevance to a discussion of who should be MVP in 2008, because it's random. Two things on that:

1. Whether clutch performance is random or nonrandom is a matter of belief, not science. To date all science has been able to demonstrate is that (a) there's too much noise in the data to detect if there's a signal - that is, we can't tell if it's random or not; and (b) because of the noise, clutch performance cannot be accurately projected. It seems, however - especially when you look at things like the results for Crisp 2007 vs. Crisp 2008 - that defensive performance, while having a more detectable signal, has enough noise in it to suggest that there's a lot of randomness there, too.

2. It seems odd to dismiss clutch performance as random variation that is a matter of fortunate timing, and accept some significant level of precision (not to the hundredths, obviously, as you've pointed out) in defensive numbers that have the same issue. (Same goes for other offensive numbers.) Whatever good fortune has resulted in defensive fluctuations from year to year, the player gets full credit because it really happened and he really took advantage of the good fortune that came his way. If it's timing of hits... well that's random, so let's count none of it, even though it really happened and the player really took advantage of the good fortune that came his way.

If we're talking about projections forward, I get why we don't project it. One shouldn't take one year's anything and assume the same will apply next year, especially things for which we don't see strong correlations from year to year. But if we're measuring actual performance, I don't see why we don't include stuff like clutch performance. If Wright hit 80 HR this year, we wouldn't project it to next year, but in MVP discussions we wouldn't say, "That was random, so let's ignore it."

I'm not trying to suggest Pedroia is some kind of clutch god, or that he's better than Wright. I'm just saying there's a difference between trying to project the future and trying to explain the past. If people are counting clutch performance in 2008 in evaluating who had a better 2008, I don't see what's so wrong with that.
   105. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: September 06, 2008 at 02:04 AM (#2930829)
#### you guys. Robby will be back.
   106. konaforever Posted: September 06, 2008 at 02:17 AM (#2930836)
Robby Alomar? I doubt it.
   107. AROM Posted: September 06, 2008 at 02:54 AM (#2930889)
Villageidiom,

Good points about counting or not counting the clutch. I haven't made up my mind on it. I can see both arguments, using context neutral stats and context dependent stats. One problem I have with context dependent stats (say WPA + defense instead of linear weights + defense) is that we're mixing apples and oranges here. Until we start calculating context-dependent defense that is.

If you buy into the concept of clutch, isn't a homerun-saving catch with a runner on and a 1 run lead in the 9th more important than the same catch in the 6th inning of a game you lead 16-2? If I write one of these "whose the MVP" blogposts in the future I'll try to look at both clutch and nonclutch stats, though the lack of clutch defense IMO weakens the argument.

Context Neutral, it's hard to argue against Sizemore, he's got over a 10 run lead over 2nd place* Joe Mauer, except that Cliff Lee has a similar lead over Sizemore, Cliff has 53 fewer earned runs than the league's 4.76 ERA would have in his innings. Lee has also allowed only 3 unearned, which seems like a below average number.

*Milton Bradley must be docked a few runs because he's listed as a RF. That is wrong, he's played 113 games and 86 of them as a designated hitter.
   108. Brosef Posted: September 06, 2008 at 04:40 AM (#2930945)
Lets get this straight everyone. Pete Rose may be better than Pedroia relative to the competition they both faced, but Pete Rose is not better than Pedroia. I'm pretty sure if AGE-38 Pete Rose tried to play against today's competition, he would face a significant suppression in his statistics. 8 Pedroias would be a better team than 8 Pete Roses. I'm not sure if they can pitch?

And until someone adjusts Wright's and Pedroia's stats for position, park, league (maybe even total competition), and luck...and then figures out how valuable they are on defense relative to their position, I am reserving judgement. Intuitively I say Wright, but there's so many variables...
   109. tjm1 Posted: September 06, 2008 at 06:39 AM (#2930980)
You are right about Rose; I was just referring to him as a hitter as it was a response to your making a comp to him (based on his hitting I assumed, and you made a comment about how Rose hit going forward). Pedroia won't have a career remotely as good as Rose's.


My point was that there are guys like Rose and Sandberg who had similiar looking careers at age 24 as Pedroia does now. These guys didn't really develop much more. Rose a little bit, Sandberg, really not at all. Sandberg was a first ballot HOFer, and Rose would have been if not for the gambling thing.

OK. Let me put David Wright in historical perspective. In ALL OF MAJOR LEAGUE HISTORY, there has been one -- one -- third baseman who has had an OPS+ of 130 or above in each of his first four full seasons. David Wright.

That's not actually true - Jim Ray Hart did it, and Bob Horner came extremely close, and Dick Allen's first four years his OPS+'s were 161, 145, 181, 174 and he was playing 3rd all those years. Al Rosen just missed your mark in one season, but on the whole had a first four years of his career offensively than Wright has had. But all those guys, like Baerga and Orta in the Pedroia list, were not nearly as good defensively Wright.

But I'm not trying to make the point that Pedroia has a brighter future than Wright, because I don't believe that. I'm just trying to make the point that Pedroia looks like he has about a 50-50 chance to be an inner circle Hall of Famer at this point, and that's just based on the offensive numbers and the fact that he's a good defensive 2B. The guys who put up similar numbers through age 24 and had similar defensive ability include several of the best 2Bs of all time, and really no "red flag" players. The downside of this comparable list is Robbie Alomar or Robinson Cano, and I think Cano will rebound after this year's off year. With regards to Wright, I think there's a reasonable, but much less than 50/50, chance he'll end up beating out Schmidt for the title of best 3B ever. I think it would take a catastrophic injury, or a Bob Horner style career full of chronic minor injury problems that make him retire young, to keep him from becoming an inner circle HOFer.
   110. Greg K Posted: September 06, 2008 at 07:02 AM (#2930984)
To be honest kevin I was thinking of putting myself in your shoes for a similar situation
The closest I could think of was Halladay vs Cliff Lee for the AL Cy Young (I'm a Jays fan)

Most of my friends who are Jays fans get all in a huff over Cliff Lee for Cy Young since Halladay is a clearly a better pitcher (duh). But I'd be forced to admit that while I love Halladay more than a human should love another human, Lee has been a more successful pitcher this year...

Not exactly the same situation I know, but I find when I'm comparing players I always give a slight punishment in my head to the player I like better, just to correct for any bias I may be bringing to things. For instance my two favourite players of all time are Biggio and Maddux, but objectively I lean towards Alomar and Clemens being better than them.

Although I've been salivating over Travis Snider for over a year now, and right now I am having more fun than I remember ever having watching a player before. I can see myself aggressively and shamelessly arguing Snider's position as the best hitter in the universe over the next 10-15 years.
   111. Greg K Posted: September 06, 2008 at 07:05 AM (#2930986)
By the way, I mean in a couple years making that argument about Snider
Clearly right now it's kind of silly to say what kind of major league hitter he is
   112. alskor Posted: September 06, 2008 at 07:53 AM (#2930989)
I take all those things into account, except for the clutch, which is random, and not a function of "better". You aren't selecting Pedroia there, you are selecting the timing of his hits, which isn't a function of the player.


Do we really want to say its "random?" I agree it has little to no predictive value, but I have no problem with giving a player credit for getting hits in clutch situations during a season. Even if we could show this ability was totally random and we were weighing the relative values of two players with identical (adjusted) batting lines I would be willing to use the fact that one player's hits came at more important moments for his team as a tiebreaker. While it may not be indicative of any special skill, it still speaks to the value a batter has brought to his team...
   113. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: September 06, 2008 at 10:22 AM (#2931004)
how in #### is Pedroia considered a better baserunner? plays a tougher defensive position and plays it better, i'll agree on, but Wright has some of the best baserunning numbers in the game. He's simply a superior offensive player than Pedroia, the only point where he's a touch weaker is in BA.
in
As someone who's a fan of both the Sox and the Mets, there's really no question that at this point in their careers Wright is a better player. That Pedroia is within hailing distance of Wright this year shows what a great year he's having.
   114. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 06, 2008 at 12:02 PM (#2931013)
I'm just trying to make the point that Pedroia looks like he has about a 50-50 chance to be an inner circle Hall of Famer at this point, and that's just based on the offensive numbers and the fact that he's a good defensive 2B.

I think thats a little over the top at this point. Inner circle? His HOF chances alone have to be less than 50%, and inner circle below that.

But there is now a reasonable chance that he is a future HOF and maybe even an inner circle HOFer, while 1.5 years ago you had to be a raving lunatic to believe either of those.
   115. Sam M. Posted: September 06, 2008 at 01:00 PM (#2931024)
That's not actually true - Jim Ray Hart did it, and Bob Horner came extremely close, and Dick Allen's first four years his OPS+'s were 161, 145, 181, 174 and he was playing 3rd all those years. Al Rosen just missed your mark in one season, but on the whole had a first four years of his career offensively than Wright has had. But all those guys, like Baerga and Orta in the Pedroia list, were not nearly as good defensively Wright.

Neither Dick Allen nor Jim Ray Hart played third base full time all four of those years. As for Allen, in 1966 (his third full year), he played about a third of his games (47 of 138) in LF. Quibble? Perhaps, but for a guy who ended up not being a career-long third baseman, it ended up being a nice little harbinger. And in Hart's fourth year, 1967, he played almost as much LF (73 games) as he did 3B (89 games). Perhaps it's telling that David Wright is already, at age 25, within four games of matching Hart's career total in games played at 3B (683-679).

You admit that both Horner and Rosen did NOT do it, so I hardly think they count against my point. As for Rosen, his first four years were ages 26-29, making him an extremely poor comp for David Wright (whose first four were ages 22-25), and much less impressive even if you think Rosen's seasons were, on their face, collectively superior.

I'll repeat: David Wright is off to the greatest start to a career for any third baseman in major league history other than Eddie Mathews. That said, he is also now at the point where he's going to have to do some major acceleration to keep up with the pace that guys like Brett, Chipper, and especially Schmidt set from this point forward.
   116. Sam M. Posted: September 06, 2008 at 01:15 PM (#2931027)
What about Longoria, Sam?

Sigh.

Evan Longoria has not had an OPS+ of 130 or above in his first four major league seasons.

He hasn't had his first four major league seasons.

Now, I have to ask myself . . . do I really want to ride this merry-go-round once last time with you, kevin? Do I want to bother explaining yet again that I do believe in MLEs, quite a lot, in fact? That there is a difference between believing that a player's MLEs tell us something about what he is capable of doing in the majors, and believing that he is capable of the amazing consistency, at a HOF-caliber performance level, of a Pujols or a David Wright? If you honestly believe that the extremely high value I place on those special players, and the contribution they have proven they can give at the major league level, means I don't believe in MLEs, then you haven't been listening. I don't believe in other players' <u>major league stats</u> as predictive compared to those uber-players, kevin.

Which I've told you before. Which tells me you probably won't listen this time, either.
   117. Sam M. Posted: September 06, 2008 at 01:30 PM (#2931034)
??

He's played one season and is at 133 this year.


Exactly!

The point I had made about Wright is that he (and Mathews) are the only third basemen in history who have had an OPS+ of 130 or above in their first four seasons. Longoria doesn't qualify -- he hasn't had four seasons. He hasn't had two!

I made a point. You brought up a player entirely irrelevant to my point.

Now, if your argument is that Evan Longoria is just as good as Wright, my answer is that you are massively underrating the value of a player proving that he can sustain his performance, and provide it consistently over time. The fact that Omar Minaya knows exactly what he will get from David Wright is incredibly important to being able to plan for the seasons ahead in building the Mets. Longoria is terrific, but he hasn't yet shown that to the same degree of certainty; the list of players with ONE season like his is very, very long. Do I personally believe he'll join that list? No. But I am less certain of that than I am in the belief that David Wright will sustain HIS level. That confidence level, based on prior, sustained, major league performance, has value.

You (apparently) don't think it does. To each his own.
   118. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: September 06, 2008 at 01:33 PM (#2931036)
Can someone fix the Umpires thread, please?
Thanks!
   119. Sam M. Posted: September 06, 2008 at 01:35 PM (#2931037)
But on the other, you're comparing Wright to guys like Brett and Schmidt even though Wright doesn't have anywhere the track record those two have.

Patiently: No. I'm comparing him to those guys at the same stage of their careers. That's why I said he's off to a start, and compared it to the start of other outstanding third basemen. It's not cherry-picking -- it just so happens he's just finishing his fourth season, so it's what we have to work with.

And then, as I acknowledged at the end of # 147, as he enters the age of his career in which most players (and most of these HOF third basemen, certainly) peak, he's going to have to pick up his pace to keep up with them. If I was cherry-picking, why would I have made that point? His first four years have been as good as anyone's (Mathews aside) -- and certainly more consistent at that high level. And to stay ahead of them, he'll have to start mixing in some 170-180 OPS+ seasons in with the 150 seasons. I have no idea if he can or will; if he repeats their career arc, he will. If he stays at his current level, churning out 135-150 OPS+ seasons, he won't. We'll see.
   120. chris p Posted: September 06, 2008 at 01:37 PM (#2931038)
of a Pujols or a David Wright? I

now you're getting ahead of yourself. wright's best full season ops+ is 150. pujols WORST is 151.
   121. Sam M. Posted: September 06, 2008 at 01:49 PM (#2931045)
now you're getting ahead of yourself. wright's best full season ops+ is 150. pujols WORST is 151.

I meant that only in terms of the incredible consistency with which they each give, what they give. Obviously, Prince Albert's contribution is at a much, much higher level.

This statement can only mean you don't trust MLE's.

No, kevin. Again, you are not listening. STOP IT. For once, stop reading everything through only the point YOU are trying to make. I trust consistency of great major league performance over BOTH MLE's and major league performance. I don't believe that we can trust Evan Longoria's MLE's to be as reliable as David Wright's consistency, and I don't believe we can trust Kevin Youkilis's major league numbers, either, compared to David Wright's consistency. I am making a point about the value of the consistency of greatness and reliability v. EVERYTHING ELSE, not about minor league numbers being unreliable.
   122. Blackadder Posted: September 06, 2008 at 01:55 PM (#2931047)
The Wright vs. Pedroia argument is silly, but I did want to mention one thing: I don't understand why everyone seems to agree that 2B is a harder position than 3B. As far as I know, both position-switching and direct replacement level studies indicate that the two positions are basically just as difficult, even if catering to different skill sets. It is true that second basemen hit worse than third basemen, but that is because they are on average worse at baseball, not because the position is harder.

Also, Pedroia has zero chance of being an inner-circle hall of famer. The only inner-circle second basemen are Nap Lajoie, Eddie Collins, Rogers Hornsby, and Joe Morgan. I don't think even kevin thinks Pedroia is in that class.
   123. Sam M. Posted: September 06, 2008 at 01:57 PM (#2931048)
The only inner-circle second basemen are Nap Lajoie, Eddie Collins, Rogers Hornsby, and Joe Morgan. I don't think even kevin thinks Pedroia is in that class.

Wanna bet?
   124. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: September 06, 2008 at 02:31 PM (#2931056)
As far as I know, both position-switching and direct replacement level studies indicate that the two positions are basically just as difficult, even if catering to different skill sets. It is true that second basemen hit worse than third basemen, but that is because they are on average worse at baseball, not because the position is harder.

It's the different skill set that is required, that makes it harder for a 2B to produce both quality defence as well as good offense. That does not worse at baseball. Most 3B would be absolutely horrendous if they moved to 2B...
   125. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: September 06, 2008 at 03:21 PM (#2931081)
Wanna bet?


He had a ton of hits, but I wouldn't classify Rose as "inner circle".

Why do all of the long threads end up getting locked?
   126. Sam M. Posted: September 06, 2008 at 03:53 PM (#2931101)
Then this means you don't trust yourself in making projections and are only willing to make evaluations after all the facts are in. What good is that? Anybody can do that.

It depends on what you are trying to project. If you want to use MLEs to project that Dustin Pedroia (or Evan Longoria) is going to be a very good major league player, I'm with you all the way. But you are never satisfied with reasonable, and reasonably cautious, use of what the data will actually permit. You have to go to irrational exuberance, and proclaim a guy the next inner circle HOFer based on extremely limited data, and data that begs us to be temperate in how we use it.

I do not project ANY players, minor league or major league, to be "inner circle HOFers" based on (a) MLEs, or (b) a small sample set of major league data. I do not project a player like Longoria to be as good as someone who has established himself, over nearly 700 major league games, to have a talent level and a career arc equivalent to that of the greatest players at his position in history. And I don't project David Wright to be as great as Mike Schmidt or George Brett based on his (by comparison to them) limited play, either; I've been careful to talk only about his START compared to theirs.

You want to jump the gun? Go ahead. Have at it. I would LOVE Longoria, or Ryan Braun, to be that great. I love great players; I think they're one of the most immensely wonderful things in the game. But I also love waiting to see their abilities unfold and be proven before my eyes.
   127. tjm1 Posted: September 06, 2008 at 04:07 PM (#2931109)
I perhaps have been using too liberal a defintion of inner circle Hall of Famer. I meant more along the lines of the guys whom everyone agrees belong in there, than the best of the best. I agree there is very little chance Pedroia will put up a Joe Morgan/Eddie Collins type career. I think there's a really good chance that he can put up a Rod Carew type career, with more power and better defense, but less base stealing and a lower batting average.

You admit that both Horner and Rosen did NOT do it [have at least a 130 OPS+ for their first 4 seasons], so I hardly think they count against my point [that Wright is off to the best start of any 3B].


Not really. If the point is that Wright is off the the best start of any 3B, then a player like Rosen, who was slightly worse than your arbitrary cutoff mark once, and way, way better three times in his first four years is an argument against your point. The point that Rosen was older is valid, although Rosen was also in the War and lost development time before that. Rosen, unlike the other guys, was about as good defensively as Wright is.

As for Schmidt - Wright's rookie year was much better than Schmidt's. No question. Schmidt's next four years include three better offensively than any year Wright has ever had, and one better than any year he's had except for last year. Throw in Schmidt's superior defense, and I think Schmidt got off to a better start than Wright overall. Schmidt, again, was a bit older, but Wright doesn't seem to be progressing, really. He seems just to be maintaining a very high level that he established as a rookie.

Compared with Scott Rolen - Wright's gotten off to a better start as a hitter. Rolen was a better fielder. I think those two are very close.

Compared with Eddie Mathews - at age 20, Mathews put up a 113 OPS+. He followed that with 171, 172, 172, 143, 154, with the last four of those corresponding to the same ages where Wright has been in the majors. I don't think you can say Wright is off to a better start than Mathews without admitting that Rosen got off to a better start than Wright. Realistically, if you rank by aggregate of the first four years, both of them got off to better starts than Wright.

Boggs was older, but started off with 127, 150, 125, 151, again, a better aggregate than Wright, even if his weakest performances were a bit worse.

Home Run Baker is a similar story.

Anyways, I think the fact that you can construct a simple statistic like first 4 years with at least 130 OPS+ with almost all his games at 3B, and come up with only David Wright is a good sign for Wright, as is the fact that only a couple of the guys who come close even if the rules are made less arbitrary are flame-outs. I don't agree that this stat means that Wright has had the best four year start of any 3B ever.
   128. Darren Posted: September 06, 2008 at 04:13 PM (#2931112)
Sam M., you're too smart to be getting dragged into this.

On the question of Pedroia regressing from his current BA in the .330s, I wanted to make a couple points. First, his career BA is .315. If he hit that the rest of the way, it would drop his season average about 2 points.

Second, Pedroia broke his hand last year around September 5. At that time, he was hitting .329. For the rest of year, he played with a broken hand and put up a .261 average, dragging him down to .317 on the season. You could make a reasonable case that a healthy Pedroia is about a .330 hitter. I don't think that that is the likeliest conclusion, but it's a possibility.

This is not to say that he deserves the MVP, of course. But it may go a long way to determining whether he steals it from its rightful owner, Grady.

Chris, one other point on your use of DH vs. OF for a player. If a player is classified as a RF because he plays some RF, isn't that pretty unfair, numbers-wise. It essentially treats all of his games at DH as if he played them at a league average level, in RF. In your list, for example, it makes him look like he has almost the same defensive value as Markakis does, which is clearly not the case. Or am I missing something?
   129. konaforever Posted: September 06, 2008 at 05:23 PM (#2931143)
I don't understand why everyone seems to agree that 2B is a harder position than 3B. As far as I know, both position-switching and direct replacement level studies indicate that the two positions are basically just as difficult, even if catering to different skill sets. It is true that second basemen hit worse than third basemen, but that is because they are on average worse at baseball, not because the position is harder.


Um no. Think Troy Glaus at second base. Scary thought.
   130. Greg Maddux School of Reflexive Profanity Posted: September 06, 2008 at 05:40 PM (#2931153)
Think of any second baseman with a weakass arm at third base. Scary thought.


People who've actually studied the subject find the difference to be negligible. Maybe two runs.
   131. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: September 06, 2008 at 05:44 PM (#2931157)

1. God (997)
2. Babe Ruth (991)
3. William the Conqueror (989)
4. Alexander the Great(931)
5. Superman (942)
6. Frank Merriwell (937)
7. Chip Hilton (921)
8. Moby Dick (917)
9. William Wallace (909)
10.Moses (989) (While he can part the Red Sea, the similarity score is somehwoat low because Pedroia isn't Jewish)


The tool is so racist. All but two on this list are white dudes!
   132. Dr. I likes his panda steak medium rare Posted: September 06, 2008 at 06:12 PM (#2931176)
Why do all of the long threads end up getting locked?



Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies?
   133. Chris Dial Posted: September 06, 2008 at 06:14 PM (#2931178)
*Milton Bradley must be docked a few runs because he's listed as a RF. That is wrong, he's played 113 games and 86 of them as a designated hitter.
This simply isn't the case. In the AL this season, RF have an OPS of 0.804. DHs have an OPS of 0.776. Making Bradley a DH would *INCREASE* his OPD.
   134. Dr. I likes his panda steak medium rare Posted: September 06, 2008 at 06:21 PM (#2931183)
This simply isn't the case. In the AL this season, RF have an OPS of 0.804. DHs have an OPS of 0.776. Making Bradley a DH would *INCREASE* his OPD.


Chris, are you comfortable with this? For this sort of analysis, wouldn't it make more sense to lump RF/LF/1B/DH together, and generate some sort of group average?

Also, it is interesting, but not really surprising, that RF'ers as a group out hit DH's.
   135. Chris Dial Posted: September 06, 2008 at 06:22 PM (#2931184)
Chris, one other point on your use of DH vs. OF for a player. If a player is classified as a RF because he plays some RF, isn't that pretty unfair, numbers-wise. It essentially treats all of his games at DH as if he played them at a league average level, in RF. In your list, for example, it makes him look like he has almost the same defensive value as Markakis does, which is clearly not the case. Or am I missing something?
No, that's fair. But, Markakis' replacement may have played better in RF. I am simply adding the runs Bradley *did* save in RF. If I put Bradley as a DH, his value would increase - but Markakis would count as the best RF, I guess.

At any rate, I hate the DH. Hate it. When in doubt, a player that can play *and Bradley can and does* at a position gets credit for that.

It's also FAR too cumbersome to split everything out for fractions of runs. I did check out a DH to 1B switch, and the DHs *lost* a run or two.
   136. Blackadder Posted: September 06, 2008 at 06:23 PM (#2931185)
What Maddux said. Also, I believe Tango pointed out that the average second baseman gets paid less than the average position player, which would be consistent with the idea that they are, on average, not as good. Not that Pedroia isn't having a terrific season, of course, but I think he should rate a little lower than Chris' methods would indicate.
   137. Chris Dial Posted: September 06, 2008 at 06:30 PM (#2931196)
Chris, are you comfortable with this? For this sort of analysis, wouldn't it make more sense to lump RF/LF/1B/DH together, and generate some sort of group average?
Am I comfortable with it? Yes. In teh writeup I noted (wrt DHs) "perhaps I should lump them in with 1Bs?". No. because IMO, the guys at DH simply cannot play in the field. They played all the interleague games, and the Sox didn't see fit to put David Ortiz on the field. Nor Jim Thome. These guys, IMO, don't deserve to be counted in with players with gloves.

Often the argument is "if there weren't a DH, teams would find a place for them." I don't think so. Frank Thomas certainly wouldn't. I don't know that Ortiz could make it through a season at 1B. I seriously doubt it. Same with Thome, and as such, his ABs would be *extremely* reduced.

The players listed at DH are only DHs. The ones with lots of DH at bats do so because the team wants another glove. We know Bradley can play in the OF.
   138. tjm1 Posted: September 06, 2008 at 06:38 PM (#2931202)
This idea that 2Bs aren't as good as 3Bs: is this a new inefficiency? Should teams be taking marginal 3Bs and moving them to 2B? Are they converting 2Bs to CFs too quickly?

Or are the fielding stats that do this underweighing double plays? Or maybe are most of the cross-positional players your typical utility infielders, guys who have the skill set of a 2B more than that of a 3B, so that they look worse when they play third? The real issue is whether it's easier to find a guy who can hit who can also field 2B competently or 3B, not what would happen if you switched positions between certain guys. Just consider switching centerfielders and second basemen. Most of the second basemen would be fine in center. The left-handed centerfielders would be absolute disasters at 2B. That doesn't mean that there's an enormous gap between the defensive demands of second base and centerfield.

The lower pay may indicate less value. It might also indicate that the stars at the position are mostly young guys right now. Utley, Kinsler, Pedroia, Cano (yes, he's having a bad year this year, but he's been very very good the past two), Uggla - of them only Utley, I believe, is even arbitration eligible. I'm pretty sure Brian Roberts is going to be a FA for the first time this off season. Of the 17 2Bs with enough at bats to qualify for the batting title, I think Mark DeRosa, Placido Polanco and Jeff Kent are the only ones who've ever been free agents. I'm not sure what the numbers are like at other positions, and I haven't read Tom Tango's work, but I'm guessing that 3 guys who have been free agents is on the low side, and that if this weren't accounted for, it would be a huge factor.
   139. Dr. I likes his panda steak medium rare Posted: September 06, 2008 at 06:39 PM (#2931203)
Am I comfortable with it? Yes. In teh writeup I noted (wrt DHs) "perhaps I should lump them in with 1Bs?". No. because IMO, the guys at DH simply cannot play in the field. They played all the interleague games, and the Sox didn't see fit to put David Ortiz on the field. Nor Jim Thome. These guys, IMO, don't deserve to be counted in with players with gloves.


I am fine with that. But if I understand what you are doing (and I may not understand it), a player could get extra credit for hitting as a DH. Why should a DH have the potential to get extra credit in this way? (Again, please correct me if I am off here.)

I am suggesting that when ranking a DH relative to positional averages, that we should use the hitting averages of a combination of the other DH's in the league, along with any other position that on average outhits the DH. Otherwise, when evaluating the hitting of a RF'er relative to a DH, we penalize the guy that plays the field. And for the guys that play tougher positions, we aren't giving them enough credit relative to a DH.
   140. Dr. I likes his panda steak medium rare Posted: September 06, 2008 at 06:41 PM (#2931206)
Often the argument is "if there weren't a DH, teams would find a place for them." I don't think so. Frank Thomas certainly wouldn't. I don't know that Ortiz could make it through a season at 1B. I seriously doubt it. Same with Thome, and as such, his ABs would be *extremely* reduced.


I totally agree with this. There are a few guys that would play out in the field, but many of the DH's would be getting used as part time players, picking up ~100-200 ABs.
   141. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: September 06, 2008 at 06:48 PM (#2931209)
The lower pay may indicate less value.

Or it may indicate that it's harder to put up big offensive numbers, with the skill set necessary to play 2nd base, than it is with the skill set necessary to play 3rd base. And offensive numbers largely dictate the pay check.
   142. tjm1 Posted: September 06, 2008 at 06:59 PM (#2931216)
I am suggesting that when ranking a DH relative to positional averages, that we should use the hitting averages of a combination of the other DH's in the league, along with any other position that on average outhits the DH. Otherwise, when evaluating the hitting of a RF'er relative to a DH, we penalize the guy that plays the field. And for the guys that play tougher positions, we aren't giving them enough credit relative to a DH.


There are some guys who say it's harder to hit as a DH, because they lose the rhythm they get playing in the field - similar to the way a lot of guys say it's hard to pinch hit. It's hard to check on this statistically, because a lot of the times guys who both DH and play in the field are DHing when they have a minor injury. I'm not sure I buy the first point, but I think both these points are reasons why DHs could have worse offensive numbers than players at some positions.
   143. Chris Dial Posted: September 06, 2008 at 07:11 PM (#2931223)
Dr. I, I like your ideas. It's a spreadsheet, so I'll see if I can average in all the positions a DH can play (1B, LF, RF).
   144. Dr. I likes his panda steak medium rare Posted: September 06, 2008 at 07:18 PM (#2931228)
There are other ways that might work, too. Perhaps DH should be held up to the standard of 1B, rather than averaging DH and 1B together. (or LF/RF, you get the idea.)
   145. konaforever Posted: September 06, 2008 at 10:10 PM (#2931342)
People who've actually studied the subject find the difference to be negligible. Maybe two runs.


What does the subject say about shortstop and thrid base?
   146. SkyKing162 Posted: September 07, 2008 at 06:58 PM (#2931874)
Chris two points about giving Bradley credit for RF because he can handle it -- one, he's an injury risk and coming back from ACL surgery. One could argue he CAN'T handle (or couldn't earlier in the season) and that he'd be risking injury and lost playing time/performance by playing the outfield. Two, by DHing he's taking up a lineup position that anybody else in the Rangers organization could play. It's easier to find a bat for DH than a similar bat who can handle right field. It's the whole Ortiz/Manny thing -- by DHing Ortiz, you're forcing Manny in the field.
   147. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: September 07, 2008 at 08:44 PM (#2932098)
short version: kevin likes being a dick, especially when he knows he won't suffer anything for it.
   148. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: September 07, 2008 at 09:08 PM (#2932136)
Finally, I don't like being conservative. I like to get out in front of the pack and be bold and aggressive. Asserting something after it's already common knowledge doesn't hold much appeal for me.


All I know is that Ellsbury's last two weeks better be Pedroiesque if he's going to catch up to Grady. Otherwise, it might be hard to convince the naysayers (the timid, the conservative, those who don't like getting out in front of the pack, etc) that Jacoby is Sizemore's equal.

A couple of counterintuitives predictions/observations:

Austin Jackson will be better than Jacoby Ellsbury. Ergo, Jackson will be better than Sizemore.

Craig Hansen will be a better reliever than Papelbon in two years.

Dunkin Donuts will overtake Starbucks as the place to drink coffee by the fall of 2009.

The Knicks will have a better record than the Celtics in 2010.

Rik Smits was better than Dirk Nowitski.

Stephen Spielberg is better than Martin Scorcese.

Some of these things will be/are true
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