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Friday, October 12, 2018

BenFred: Harper would make the Cardinals must-see TV

Bryce Harper sure loves his shows.

It turns out he spends his off nights like Cardinals fans during the past three postseasons — on the couch, clicker in hand, trying to dodge the sting of watching other teams’ champagne celebrations.

A recent Washington Post column named the TV series the Nationals star is into these days. “Suits,” “Yellowstone” and even some old-school “Gray’s Anatomy.”

So, how would you react if Harper became a Cardinal?

QLE Posted: October 12, 2018 at 03:43 AM | 63 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bryce harper, cardinals

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   1. PreservedFish Posted: October 12, 2018 at 07:59 AM (#5764981)
"Gray's Anatomy?"
   2. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: October 12, 2018 at 10:24 AM (#5765047)
So, how would you react if Harper became a Cardinal?

Glad he's not in pinstripes.
   3. Lest we forget Posted: October 12, 2018 at 10:40 AM (#5765057)
I'd love it, and he'd kill it. Dude has got 10-15 years of box office appeal in front of him, and he's pretty good with the bat, too. Most of the time. When he's not injured. Or enduring some weird, lengthy slump.
   4. salvomania Posted: October 12, 2018 at 12:15 PM (#5765124)
Wow, according to hi bb-ref page Harper's defense was so bad in 2018 that it was worth -3.2 WAR, making Harper a sub-2.0 WAR player overall in 159 games. That's terrible.

Since his rookie year BB-ref has his defense as non-positive every year but one (2015), and then it was worth 0.4 WAR.

I know we need to take these numbers with a grain of salt, but I'm not so sure it's a good idea to sign a long-term contract with a bad defensive player who will only get worse the older they get.
   5. phredbird Posted: October 12, 2018 at 12:31 PM (#5765135)

I'd love it, and he'd kill it. Dude has got 10-15 years of box office appeal in front of him, and he's pretty good with the bat, too. Most of the time. When he's not injured. Or enduring some weird, lengthy slump.


there you have it. his down side makes me nervous.

as usual, i'm too lazy to actually do any of the metrics, but it sure looks like the cardinals are able to develop outfielders who can do most of what harper does, and be better defensively, and a lot cheaper.

we've had piscotty, pham, grichuk, bader, martinez ... kept some, traded some to fill other holes ... i know i'm leaving somebody out.

we've already traded for ozuna and signed fowler.

do we really need to fork over major dough for this guy when it looks to me like we need to be looking for dependable arms?





   6. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: October 12, 2018 at 12:43 PM (#5765142)
I think it's time to admit that Harper is not the player everyone hoped he would be, and probably won't ever be that guy. He's a good hitter, a bad fielder, injury prone. His upside is that he's young (for a free agent), but he's not a team-changing signing and if he signs a half-billion dollar contract he's almost certain not to be worth it.
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 12, 2018 at 12:49 PM (#5765148)
I think it's time to admit that Harper is not the player everyone hoped he would be, and probably won't ever be that guy.

I think 26 is way too young to admit that. He's got a 140 career wRC+ and is 6 months younger than Aaron Judge.

I'd be thrilled if the Yankees sign him and stick him at 1B, to minimize injuries.
   8. bunyon Posted: October 12, 2018 at 12:51 PM (#5765150)
I think Voxter is right and it brings up an interesting offseason. I guess it only takes one team to go crazy but most front offices are much smarter these days.

What do Harper/Boras do if his top offer isn't close to what they're looking for?
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 12, 2018 at 12:55 PM (#5765153)
What do Harper/Boras do if his top offer isn't close to what they're looking for?

Take it. Dude's going to get $250M.
   10. SoSH U at work Posted: October 12, 2018 at 01:02 PM (#5765159)
He's got a 140 career wRC+ and is 6 months younger than Aaron Judge.


And only one fewer season as good as Judge.

   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 12, 2018 at 01:11 PM (#5765162)
And only one fewer season as good as Judge.

No. His 2017 is virtually identical to Judge's 2018. 492 PA, 155 wRC+, 4.8 WAR vs. 498 PA, 149 wRC+, 5.0 WAR.

So, he has one season better than Judge's best, one season equal to Judge's 2nd best, and other seasons of 4.4, 4.1, 3.0, and 3.5 WAR, whereas Judge has nothing else.

Setting aside the money, I think Harper is a better bet for the the next 10 years than Judge. Late bloomers tend to be late faders. I'd much rather be committed to Harper through age 36 than Judge, though Judge may be better for the next 3 or 4 years.

   12. SoSH U at work Posted: October 12, 2018 at 01:21 PM (#5765166)
No. His 2017 is virtually identical to Judge's 2018. 492 PA, 155 wRC+, 4.8 WAR vs. 498 PA, 149 wRC+, 5.0 WAR.


Virtually isn't identical. He has one season as good as Judge's two best. It just took him seven seasons to get there.

He's had one monster season. The rest of the time he's a good hitting corner bat with declining defense and a series of injuries that would cause me worry.*

I'd stay very far away from a long term deal on Bryce.


* Not that he's injury prone, which I think is usually not accurate (we ascribe a prescriptive condition to something that's just happened in the past, much like "can't the big one"). I would worry that the byproduct of so many injuries would catch up to him as he ages.


   13. dlf Posted: October 12, 2018 at 01:28 PM (#5765168)
No. His 2017 is virtually identical to Judge's 2018. 492 PA, 155 wRC+, 4.8 WAR vs. 498 PA, 149 wRC+, 5.0 WAR.



Virtually isn't identical.


The error bars on these stats tell me that they are identical within our ability to measure. Well, I think we can acknowledge the difference in PAs is real even if the WAR and wRC aren't ... :)

I would love it if the Braves were to sign him. They've got a ton of money available. Can easily slide Acuna to RF and Harper to LF to maximize the D. And live with the streakiness. He isn't Mike Trout, but he is a top performer. Bad/disappointing teams, and particularly fans of bad/disappointing teams blame good players for not being great. Good teams leverage what good players can do to make them even a bit better.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 12, 2018 at 01:29 PM (#5765170)
Virtually isn't identical. He has one season as good as Judge's two best. It just took him seven seasons to get there.

That's just wrong. He had a better wRC+. A 0.2 difference in WAR is meaningless.

Any long term FA deal is usually a bad idea, but they're usually a much worse idea when a player is coming off his best season, rather than his worst. If you could sign Harper for 10/300 I think you'd end up very happy with it.

Edit: coke to dlf.
   15. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 12, 2018 at 01:34 PM (#5765173)
What do Harper/Boras do if his top offer isn't close to what they're looking for?
B*tch to the media about how unfair everything is.
   16. dlf Posted: October 12, 2018 at 01:38 PM (#5765177)
He had a better wRC+. A 0.2 difference in WAR is meaningless.


Thanks for the cola, but I'd say the marginal difference in *both* WAR and wRC+ are meaningless. (Not that this changes your larger point, I just felt like arguing.)
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 12, 2018 at 01:42 PM (#5765182)
but I'd say the marginal difference in *both* WAR and wRC+ are meaningless.

I'd agree.
   18. SoSH U at work Posted: October 12, 2018 at 01:45 PM (#5765185)
The error bars on these stats tell me that they are identical within our ability to measure.


Why do error bars only go one way?

Obviously, it's possible that Bryce Harper's 2017 was better than Aaron Judge's 2018. By that same application, it's also possible that Aaron Judge's 2018 was much better than Bryce Harper's 2017 than what WAR (either one, the other gap is 0.3) tells us. So I'm comfortable in saying that he had a better season, even if the possibility exists he didn't (particularly in this context).

And if your Braves and snapper's Yanks want to get into a bidding war for his services, knock yourselves out. I'd prefer the Sox stay far away.

   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 12, 2018 at 01:54 PM (#5765190)
Why do error bars only go one way?

Obviously, it's possible that Bryce Harper's 2017 was better than Aaron Judge's 2018. By that same application, it's also possible that Aaron Judge's 2018 was much better than Bryce Harper's 2017 than what WAR (either one, the other gap is 0.3) tells us. So I'm comfortable in saying that he had a better season, even if the possibility exists he didn't (particularly in this context).


C'mon, you know how this works. If the error bar is +/- 5 runs (made up) on each player's metric, then a 2 run difference is no difference at all.

It's not possible that either season was "much better" than the other. One might have been a little bit better, but effectively, they're equal.
   20. maccoach57 Posted: October 12, 2018 at 02:04 PM (#5765200)
Teams that IMO should be all-in on Harper and I think could get him: Giants, Cardinals, Cubs, Angels.
   21. Sweatpants Posted: October 12, 2018 at 02:43 PM (#5765222)
I think it's time to admit that Harper is not the player everyone hoped he would be, and probably won't ever be that guy. He's a good hitter, a bad fielder, injury prone.
The rest of the time he's a good hitting corner bat with declining defense and a series of injuries that would cause me worry.
With regard to his defense, I think that this is a an overreaction to one season's performance. It could just as easily be an off year or one of those things rather than a sign that this is the level his defense is at now.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: October 12, 2018 at 03:11 PM (#5765242)


C'mon, you know how this works. If the error bar is +/- 5 runs (made up) on each player's metric, then a 2 run difference is no difference at all


I know how it works. I don't agree with it. To me, treating unequal numbers makes no sense. If the error bar is +-5, then Judge was either .7 WAR better of .3 worse (or 1.2 vs. 0.8 if it's per player), depending on the metric. So, in all likelihood, he was better. I don't know why we can't say that just because it was close.

Of course, we're devoting far more time to my offhand remark than is necessary. Bryce Harper has one outstanding season in seven. The same number Aaron Judge has had in two. He hasn't gotten better. If his defense isn't declining, as sweatpants notes, it's because it's never been particularly good. He's never been very healthy. That's not a player I would want to spend a fortune on.
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 12, 2018 at 03:17 PM (#5765247)
Bryce Harper has one outstanding season in seven. The same number Aaron Judge has had in two.

That's absolutely ridiculous. On no planet can you call a 5.0 WAR season outstanding and a 4.8 WAR season not outstanding. That's just a dishonest stacking of the deck against the guy you don't like.
   24. GuyM Posted: October 12, 2018 at 03:19 PM (#5765248)
Looking at his comps at B-Ref, you can see the very different possibilities ahead. Throwing out two guys still in their primes (Trout, Upton) and one special case (Tony C), you have these 7:
Frank Robinson (34)
Miguel Cabrera (33)
Eddie Mathews (33)
Griffey Jr. (30)
Andruw J. (29)
Canseco (26)
Ruben Sierra (25)

In () are the ages they posted their last elite seasons (Canseco was still productive off an on thru age 31, Robby thru 38). If Harper has a future anything like the first three guys, the team that signs him will be very happy. But if it looks more like the other 4, it will be somewhere between disappointing and catastrophic.
   25. SoSH U at work Posted: October 12, 2018 at 03:22 PM (#5765250)
That's absolutely ridiculous. On no planet can you call a 5.0 WAR season outstanding and a 4.8 WAR season not outstanding. That's just a dishonest stacking of the deck against the guy you don't like.


No, that's just crappy reading on your part. I said that Bryce Harper and Aaron Judge have had the same number of outstanding seasons. Bryce Harper managed that in seven seasons. Aaron Judge in two.

   26. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 12, 2018 at 03:29 PM (#5765253)
No, that's just crappy reading on your part. I said that Bryce Harper and Aaron Judge have had the same number of outstanding seasons. Bryce Harper managed that in seven seasons. Aaron Judge in two.

Now, we're pretending 5 WAR in <500 PA isn't outstanding?

And why would you penalize Harper for reaching MLB at 19 vs 25?

Forget it.
   27. JL72 Posted: October 12, 2018 at 03:30 PM (#5765256)
I said that Bryce Harper and Aaron Judge have had the same number of outstanding seasons.


Except that glosses over the fact that Judge's season is a 2 full wins lower by WAR (using B-R).

Lumping those together while trying to say that Judge's other season was clearly better than Harper's next best (even if only by a bit) seems unfair.
   28. SoSH U at work Posted: October 12, 2018 at 03:42 PM (#5765262)
Now, we're pretending 5 WAR in <500 PA isn't outstanding?


It's an outstanding rate, but the less than 500 PAs count too, which makes it not an outstanding season. To quote, well you, c'mon, you know how this works.

And, of course, nice job ignoring the fact that you completely misread my original comment.

And why would you penalize Harper for reaching MLB at 19 vs 25?


I'm not penalizing anything. You're the one who dragged Judge into this conversation, not me. The point I'm making is for all that headstart Bryce has had, it hasn't allowed him to produce more MVP-caliber seasons than Judge.

Bryce Harper has one outstanding (spectacular even, to distinguish between his great year and the one from he who should no longer be named) season in his seven-year big career. The rest of the time he's been a good to very good hitter, but a corner outfielder with middling defense and a body that's gotten banged up quite a bit. That's not the profile of a guy I want to spend 300 million and 10 years on.
   29. TDF, trained monkey Posted: October 12, 2018 at 04:06 PM (#5765281)
Bryce Harper has one outstanding (spectacular even, to distinguish between his great year and the one from he who should no longer be named) season in his seven-year big career. The rest of the time he's been a good to very good hitter, but a corner outfielder with middling defense and a body that's gotten banged up quite a bit. That's not the profile of a guy I want to spend 300 million and 10 years on.
Bryce Harper has 3 seasons of 3+ WAA, the same number of seasons Aaron Judge has been in MLB.

As for his defense this season, I'll just remind you everyone thought Votto's defense was toast after '16 (-14 runs); he's been +20 runs on defense over the past 2 seasons.

Now with that said, I would be hesitant to give Harper the kind of money someone is going to cough up (10/$350M or so) precisely because he's going to get hurt and/or have some off years. He's the hitting version of his teammate Strasburg.*

*For all the hype, after 9 big-league seasons Strasburg has one season of >3.5 bWAR.
   30. Spahn Insane Posted: October 12, 2018 at 04:08 PM (#5765282)
Teams that IMO should be all-in on Harper and I think could get him: Giants, Cardinals, Cubs, Angels

I've got no interest in the Cubs committing to a long-term megadeal for Harper if his defense is as bad as his recent numbers suggest (and even if it isn't, defense isn't a skill that typically improves with age), and would be reluctant to sign him long term anyway in light of his injury history. That, and Epstein & Co's track record with large FA contracts is pretty damned poor.

I'd like to see them go after Machado, but only if he's willing to play third. Then move Bryant to left, trade Schwarber and/or Almora and/or Happ for pitching help or something. I could get behind that. But it sounds like he's stuck on being a shortstop, and I imagine there'll be somebody willing to accommodate him.
   31. GuyM Posted: October 12, 2018 at 04:23 PM (#5765290)
For all the hype, after 9 big-league seasons Strasburg has one season of >3.5 bWAR.

Gee, I wonder how you landed on ">3.5" as the benchmark for pitching excellence? Could it possibly be because Strasburg has posted seasons of 3.1, 3.1, 3.4, and 3.5 in the past 7 years?

Strasburg has pitched 7 seasons since his surgery. He has 23.9 WAR, a total exceeded by only 12 other MLB pitchers in that time, and an average of 3.4 (!) WAR per season. I'd guess there are approximately 29 other teams that would be happy to have him.
   32. Hank Gillette Posted: October 12, 2018 at 04:30 PM (#5765295)
*For all the hype, after 9 big-league seasons Strasburg has one season of >3.5 bWAR.


His rate stats are better than that, though. He’s averaged 4.8 bWAR per full season. Of course, you are unlikely to get a full season from Strasburg. He’s fragile. But working with that, he is a valuable commodity. ⅔ of a season of 129 ERA+ is better than not having him at all.

I can’t believe that there are still people complaining about the Nats shutting him down in 2012. If the Nationals had not handled him so carefully, he could have been like Don Gullett, a good pitcher out of baseball after his age 27 season.
   33. Hank Gillette Posted: October 12, 2018 at 04:32 PM (#5765298)
So, how would you react if Harper became a Cardinal?


I don’t know why he would trade one hot, muggy location for another. But, if he signed with the Cardinals, I would wish him well and hope that he has a few more seasons that reflect his potential.
   34. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 12, 2018 at 04:34 PM (#5765299)
I don’t know why he would trade one hot, muggy location for another.

Better baseball tradition, better fan base, better uniforms, and the announcing crew can't possibly be any worse.
   35. Hank Gillette Posted: October 12, 2018 at 04:36 PM (#5765302)
What do Harper/Boras do if his top offer isn't close to what they're looking for?


Take it. Dude's going to get $250M.


That’s a far cry from the $400 million I saw being bandied about a couple of years ago.

I’d guess that if that is the offer, they would try for an opt-out after 2-3 years.
   36. Hank Gillette Posted: October 12, 2018 at 04:43 PM (#5765311)
I don’t know why he would trade one hot, muggy location for another.


Better baseball tradition, better fan base, better uniforms, and the announcing crew can't possibly be any worse.


Good points. At least he doesn’t have to listen to the announcing crew. And the money, no doubt. I’ve read that all other things being equal (which I interpret as the money), he’d like to stay with the Nats.

If those defensive stats are in any way close to being accurate, he should be looking for an American League team. I am no expert, but to me, Harper looks lost every time he has to go back on a fly ball. He also likes to show off his arm, and sometimes throws to the wrong base trying to catch the lead runner.

His assists went down from eight in 2017 to one in 2018, which could be a factor of opposing runners respecting his arm, but they hadn’t figured that out by 2017, but did in 2018?
   37. Hank Gillette Posted: October 12, 2018 at 04:59 PM (#5765320)
I think it's time to admit that Harper is not the player everyone hoped he would be, and probably won't ever be that guy.


If Mike Trout had gotten the hype that Bryce Harper got, even he would barely be meeting expectations.
   38. Walt Davis Posted: October 12, 2018 at 05:03 PM (#5765325)
#4: Salvo, I'd have thought you'd picked up on this over the years here. dWAR is not what you want to be using here as it includes the positional adjustment. Having negative dWAR mainly means you are not a C or SS, you might be a below-average 2B/3B/CF. If you are a 1B/LF/RF, you will generally have negative dWAR because the positional adjustment starts you at -7 or worse.

Leaving aside whether Rfield is any good or not, prior to this season, Harper was +28 for his career compared with an average RF/LF/CF (roughly a 3/1/1 split of innings). This year Rfield says he was titanically awful which might be true but a drop of 30 runs on defense in one year would almost have to be a nagging leg injury of some sort. If it's the sort that heals in an offseason, then his declining defense is probably not a big deal.

It doesn't seem like teams take this into account as often as they should but this should be a real advantage for AL teams in terms of talent acquisition. As long as Harper continues to hit, an AL team can always stash him at DH -- that might not be ideal but it's better than a lumbering 1B/LF who might also have to miss an extra 5-10 starts a year due to his aching feet/knee/ankle/back/whatever. Harper should be more attractive to an AL team.
   39. Walt Davis Posted: October 12, 2018 at 05:09 PM (#5765332)
FWIW, Statcast kinda agrees on Harper's defense this year, putting him 12 outs below the average OF (not the average corner OF), the 5th worst this year. But 12 outs below the average OF is a far cry from 26 runs worse than the average RF/CF (95 and 59 starts).

And for us Cub fans, Schwarber swooned in the 2nd half to finish 9 outs below average, in the bottom 10. Still, given he's an LF, that's not a big deal. Now Adam Jones at -13 while playing CF ... that's bad.
   40. salvomania Posted: October 12, 2018 at 05:43 PM (#5765350)
#4: Salvo, I'd have thought you'd picked up on this over the years here.

I have a hard time keeping straight all the numbers, and the similar-sounding stats, and the slightly different versions of stats, so I may wield them clumsily at times.

I was shocked to see a bb-ref WAR number for Harper that started with a "1," and noticed the seemingly huge -3.2 in dWAR as the main reason for that, and made assumptions regarding his defense.
   41. TDF, trained monkey Posted: October 12, 2018 at 05:43 PM (#5765352)
Gee, I wonder how you landed on ">3.5" as the benchmark for pitching excellence? Could it possibly be because Strasburg has posted seasons of 3.1, 3.1, 3.4, and 3.5 in the past 7 years?
Because Strasburg was supposed to be a generational pitcher, not just a good one. This year alone, there were 28 MLB starting pitchers with >3.5 bWAR.
Strasburg has pitched 7 seasons since his surgery. He has 23.9 WAR, a total exceeded by only 12 other MLB pitchers in that time
He's slotted between the eminent Jose Quintana and the rotting corpse of Felix Hernandez. Again, not what we were all told he would be.

EDIT: This is what we were lead to believe. It's not what we've gotten.
   42. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: October 12, 2018 at 06:26 PM (#5765364)
Because Strasburg was supposed to be a generational pitcher, not just a good one. This year alone, there were 28 MLB starting pitchers with >3.5 bWAR.
How many of those guys are going to average ~3.5 bWAR over seven seasons?
This is what we were lead to believe. It's not what we've gotten.
Aside from Mike Trout and maybe Clayton Kershaw, nobody lives up to their sports media hype. It's unfair to point to articles like that as anything other than fluff pieces.
   43. GuyM Posted: October 12, 2018 at 07:08 PM (#5765377)
Because Strasburg was supposed to be a generational pitcher, not just a good one.

Oh, a *generational* pitcher. Now I get it. In that case, a standard of 3.51 WAR is totally intuitive -- doesn't seem cherry-picked at all.

Strasburg may well fall short of fans' hopes -- nearly all pitchers do. But if Stephen Strasburg is a bust, then we need to invent some new words for Ben McDonald, and Mark Fidrych, and Paul Wilson and Bill Pulsipher. And we don't know yet where Strasburg will end up. Thru age 29 he has 26 WAR. At the same age, Scherzer had 24. David Cone had 20. Randy Johnson had 15. It's a little early to close the book on Strasburg.
   44. Bug Selig Posted: October 12, 2018 at 07:56 PM (#5765390)
But if Stephen Strasburg is a bust, then we need to invent some new words for Ben McDonald, and Mark Fidrych, and Paul Wilson and Bill Pulsipher.
I'm not sure you mean Ben McDonald - or at least not sure he belongs on that list. He had more of a career than the other 3 put together.
   45. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 12, 2018 at 10:37 PM (#5765490)
But if Stephen Strasburg is a bust, then we need to invent some new words for Ben McDonald, and Mark Fidrych, and Paul Wilson and Bill Pulsipher.

I'm not sure you mean Ben McDonald - or at least not sure he belongs on that list. He had more of a career than the other 3 put together.

One thing Strasburg and McDonald have in common is that their first start in the Majors may have just about been their best. McDonald's first start got him an 83 Game Score, while Strasburg's debut registered a 75. Allowing for the pre-internet and social media context, the hype surrounding McDonald leading up to his debut was every bit as hyperbolic as it was for Strasburg.
   46. Walt Davis Posted: October 13, 2018 at 03:02 AM (#5765547)
noticed the seemingly huge -3.2 in dWAR as the main reason for that, and made assumptions regarding his defense.

And you'd be right (assuming Rfield is correct). Whether you want to look at the -26 Rfield or the -3.2 dWAR, that's massive and hard for any hitter to overcome (he's 17 runs worse than a DH!). It was more your comment that he's had negative dWAR in 4 of 7 seasons -- that's to be expected because he's been mostly a RF or stretched in CF. But in those other three negative seasons, adding up to -1.5 dWAR, he's rated as a +1 relative to the average fielder at his "position" (in this case a mix of RF/CF/LF) -- that's the sum of his Rfield. So, until this year, he was (per Rfield) a slightly above-average corner OF or a below-average CF which, since nobody's thinking of moving him to SS, is just fine.

If you want to get more confused, dWAR is really dWAA -- i.e. it compares to an overall average fielder. Really, dWAR is just an attempt to put all positions on the same scale but rarely do we want to compare the overall defensive value of a RF with the overall defensive value of a 3B. When comping guys at the same position or when asking something like "what can I expect out of Harper in the future", Rfield is the way to go. dWAR can also be useful for giving you some idea how, for example, a fading CF might do if shifted to a corner or whether your dodgy SS might be able to handle 2B/3B well enough to stay in the lineup or in making a decision like whether you want Schwarber in LF and Zobrist in RF or the other way around. Or how much defense we lose moving Heyward to CF with Zobrist in RF vs Almora in CF and Heyward in RF or Almora in CF and Zobrist in RF then balance those off against the offensive consequences.

So for this FA market, dWAR might be useful in assessing Machado. As a mostly 3B from 2014-17, he averaged 1.5 dWAR; as a mostly SS this year, he put up 0 dWAR which is pretty bad for a SS. In theory, it really shouldn't matter what infield position Manny plays -- if he was a 1.5 dWAR at 3B (about +12 for a 3B) he should be a 1.5 dWAR SS (about a +6 for a SS). But the real world doesn't always work out that way so this suggests sticking him back at 3B will gain you an extra win or more. Of course it was just one full season at SS and he (apparently) did much better in LA so maybe his dWAR this year was just a fluke and he can be at least an average defensive SS for the next few years.

Shoulda put this up above but anyway, for technical stuff ... dWAR = Rfield + Rpos, expressed in wins (above an overall average defender). Rfield is how well that guy did relative to an average player at his "position" (where his "position" is the weighted mix of the positions played). Rpos is (give or take) based on the fact that 1B are better hitters than SS because SS are expected to be able to run the ball down. Therefore slugging positions have negative Rpos.

oWAR = WAR - Rfield ... so wins over a replacement-level player at the same position. oWAR includes Rpos. Therefore WAR does not equal oWAR + dWAR but rather WAR = oWAR + dWAR - Rpos/10 (roughly). So yes, Harper's -3.2 dWAR pretty much kills his 4.2 oWAR and his Rpos is just -3 so it doesn't add much ... leaving him at 1.3 WAR.

The classic example is when somebody looks at Keith Hernandez's page and says "OMG, bWAR is a ####### moron, it says that Hernandez only contributed 1 win on defense (1.3 dWAR)" And in a way that's true but that's comparing him to some overall average defender which, basically, is a slightly below-average 2B, 3B or CF. But if we look at his Rfield component, that's +117 -- that's what compares him to other 1B and it's one of the best of all-time for a 1B, telling us he was about 12 wins better defensively than the average 1B of his era. If we pushed "dWAR theory" to its extreme, it suggests he would have been an average CF or, if he threw RH, an average 2B. So he was a guy with the range and hands of an average 2B or 3B (probably had the arm of a 3B) playing 1B. But sure, it also suggests that Shawon Dunston (-1.8 dWAR career) probably would have been as good a 1B as Hernandez and Gary Gaetti might have been the best-ever if he'd been put there. The first is very unlikely to be true but the second might well be true.**

** Depends on how 1B vs 3B works and matches the players particular ability. Hernandez had a definite advantage, esp on bunts, of throwing LH. Gaetti meanwhile probably had better range ... but great range might get wasted at 1B, especially to your right since it just takes you away from the bag and leaves you with a tough throw back to first (unless you've got a force in which case the extra range is probably great). And even if Gaetti had a stronger arm (no idea), there aren't many plays a 1B needs a strong arm though I suppose it would help make up for Hernandez's LH advantage. So Gaetti's "advantages" as a 1B may not have been advantages at all and he'd be wasted at 1B and end up with lower dWAR (equal Rfield, worse Rpos). dWAR also suggests that Gaetti would have been a much, much better SS than Dunston which is within reason but probably overstates it.
   47. Bote Man Posted: October 13, 2018 at 03:15 AM (#5765548)
Strasburg's debut came against a rag-tag Pirates team. Perhaps Mike Rizzo planned it that way in order to pump up the volume on his first start. He didn't need it, though: that place was rocking like Game 7 of the World Series regardless. I'll never forget it, and I wasn't even in the ballpark. 0 (zero) walks.

Back to the topic at hand, Bryce Harper's defense is portrayed pretty accurately by Hank in #36. Bryce LOVES to show off his arm by throwing to the wrong base, too frequently off-line and over the cutoff man, thus allowing a runner to reach an extra base in the process. It's infuriating. I don't have a lot of confidence in defensive numbers at this point, but my uncalibrated eye sees these odd throws, the curious routes he sometimes takes to fly balls, and the rare times he seems to loaf to retrieve the ball so I must conclude that he is in there for his bat, not his defense.

An NL club worth its salt must take these things into consideration, so I suspect the high bidder will be an AL club where his bat can be put to good use without sacrificing defense most of the time. Let's not forget that he started as a catcher, not an outfielder.

All the platitudes that Bryce spouted in recent interviews may very well be heart-felt, but he never really came out and said anything like "I bleed Nationals red". So like any mercenary he will end up with the team that offers him the most moulah. I will content myself with Juan Soto and Victor Robles in his absence. Life goes on.
   48. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2018 at 08:37 AM (#5765552)
Not a fan of the Cardinals even considering signing Harper, they are already committed at several positions, Harper would be a redundancy at one of those positions and would potentially block the development of other players. If the Cardinals are looking at a free agent splash, Machado is the name they should pursue, provided he's willing to play third base with no complaints(which is a big provision I know. I mean I know the Cardinals could just move Dejong to third and Machado to short to make Machado happy, but I'm not liking the message that sends to the dugout)

Agree with post 4 about dependable arms, but I think there is probably better value in trades to get that than on the free agent market.
Rotation wise the Cardinals need at least 7 if not 8 starting pitchers that they can kinda trust. They just re-signed Wainwright, add in Mikolas, Reyes, Martinez, Wacha, Flaherty, Weaver, Gant, Poncedeleon, Gomber?, Hudson; with that group you may not have the best health or most consistency, but you have a good selection of arms to use and backup the guys who are injured or not pitching well. They have a ton of other pitchers to use in the pen that may not be big league ready as a starter, but certainly able to perform well enough for an inning or two. Still they probably should look into trading for a well established 7th/8th inning guy using Gyorko, Martinez, Kelly/Knizner, Adolis Garcia etc. (guys who are effectively blocked but probably belong on a major league roster somewhere)

   49. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 13, 2018 at 08:45 AM (#5765554)
Strasburg's debut came against a rag-tag Pirates team. Perhaps Mike Rizzo planned it that way in order to pump up the volume on his first start. He didn't need it, though: that place was rocking like Game 7 of the World Series regardless. I'll never forget it, and I wasn't even in the ballpark. 0 (zero) walks.

That remains the only Nats game I've ever recorded, and likely the only one I ever will. I gave it to a friend of mine who's one of those Charlie Browns who thinks that this year / next year Lucy won't pull away the football, bless his heart.
   50. Bote Man Posted: October 13, 2018 at 10:40 AM (#5765574)
And to bring it back around to expected-to-be phenom hitters: name the other phenom-to-be who debuted the same night as Stephen Strasburg? Talk about getting overshadowed! That might provide some insight into a long-term, big money contract for a slugger.
   51. The Duke Posted: October 13, 2018 at 10:51 AM (#5765576)
Isn’t Harper destined for The Angels? Isn’t this the type of player they sign for way more than he is worth? And being on an AL team he can slot into pujols dh role when Albert rides off into the sunset.

I don’t like him for the cardinals. Another defensively challenged player is not what we need. Machado is who I would throw a lot of $$$$ at. He would immediately make the cards a multi-year playoff team.
   52. TDF, trained monkey Posted: October 13, 2018 at 12:06 PM (#5765593)
You know what's funny about all of this Strasburg push-back I'm getting? It's not because I said he "sucked" or any such thing; it's because I said
"(Bryce Harper is) the hitting version of his teammate Strasburg.*

*For all the hype, after 9 big-league seasons Strasburg has one season of >3.5 bWAR."
I didn't say Strasburg is a bust; I didn't even say he wasn't a good pitcher. I said he had one excellent season in his career, which isn't what anyone expected. And for that you guys are vilifying me.

By bWAR, Strasberg has never been the best pitcher on his own team:

Max Scherzer has been better each year they've been teammates, from '15-'18.
Jordan Zimmerman was better each year they were teammates, from '10-'15.
Tanner Roark has been better 3 of the 6 years they've been teammates (in '14, '16, and '18).
Gio Gonzalez was better 3 of 6 full seasons as Strasberg's teammate - in '12, '15, and '17.

He's a consistently above-average pitcher, which is very valuable. But he also has exactly one All-Star worthy season thru age-29.
   53. McCoy Posted: October 13, 2018 at 12:14 PM (#5765597)
People have always been sensitive about Strasburg. People never really get over their first crush.
   54. jingoist Posted: October 13, 2018 at 12:40 PM (#5765603)
Tony Kornheiser’s nickname for Strasbourg is “the Orchid”.
He’s beautiful when health/blooming but so fragile that his beauty is not long lasting.
I think that aptly describes the mans pitching record to date.
Both he and Harper were billed as “ the second coming” ; neither have been able to deliver on such lofty predictions.
Washington Nationals have truly earned the banner that states Most Disappointing Team for their time in DC as for whatever reason, the surrounding talent never gelled with these two to create a winner in the postseason.
   55. GuyM Posted: October 13, 2018 at 12:43 PM (#5765609)
52: Can’t speak for others, but I’m pushing back because 1) you used this ridiculous cherry-picked 3.51 WAR standard of excellence to diminish SS’s performance, and 2) you won’t fess up to #1.

There are 4 active pitchers who had accumulated more WAR than Strasburg through age 29: Kershaw, Verlander, Sale, and Greinke. If you “expected” considerably better than what he has done, the problem is your absurd expectations more than Strasburg’s performance.
   56. GuyM Posted: October 13, 2018 at 12:53 PM (#5765612)
“Tony Kornheiser’s nickname for Strasbourg is “the Orchid”.”

Eh, Strasburg has averaged 27 starts over the past 7 seasons. Would you prefer 30? Sure, but it’s not a bad durability record.

I would fault Strasburg more for running up big early pitch counts for several years, preventing him from pitching deep into games. Seems like someone with his control could have done better on that count.
   57. puck Posted: October 13, 2018 at 01:36 PM (#5765638)
Ok, so Harper is the Strasburg of hitters, which turns out is still pretty good. He's just not the stuff of myths and legends, or, Mike Trout.

Any idea what sort of contract he'll end up with? It still seems the eventual buyer is going to commit to some scary length of contract. Unless teams behave this winter like they did last winter, maybe Harper won't get the AAV he though he would but wouldn't it still be something like 10/$300 million with an opt out or two?
   58. TDF, trained monkey Posted: October 13, 2018 at 01:52 PM (#5765650)
52: Can’t speak for others, but I’m pushing back because 1) you used this ridiculous cherry-picked 3.51 WAR standard of excellence to diminish SS’s performance, and 2) you won’t fess up to #1.
You're right, I should've used the non-cherry picked 5 bWAR - an All Star-worthy season. He's had just 1 thru 9 years (the same number as Anibal Sanchez thru age-29).
There are 4 active pitchers who had accumulated more WAR than Strasburg through age 29: Kershaw, Verlander, Sale, and Greinke.
Um, there are 10, with five having 10+ more bWAR thru 29:
Kershaw - 58.8
Felix Hernandez: 50.0
Sabathia: 43.4
Sale: 43.1
Verlander: 36.4
Greinke: 35.5
Hamels: 33.1
Bumgarner: 29.9 (and he's just 28 years old)
Price: 29.9
Lester: 27.5
Strasburg: 26.3
   59. GuyM Posted: October 13, 2018 at 02:40 PM (#5765675)
Good catch. I forgot to say that I was looking at Bill James’ starting pitcher rankings, where SS now ranks #12. Of the 11 pitchers ahead of him, just 4 had more WAR thru age 29. But as you point out, there are others.
   60. Walt Davis Posted: October 13, 2018 at 06:28 PM (#5765761)
I'm not liking the message that sends to the dugout

Given the way players tend to feel about superstar players, I doubt any player in the dugout would bat an eye if the Cards put Manny at SS and moved deJong. Nobody there is going to be saying "but don't they know Machado is a sub-par SS??????"

And it's not clear that he is. Rfield put him as terrible in Baltimore and above-average in LA. He eventually wrestled his dWAR back to 0 suggesting he'd be -8 or -9 at SS. UZR has him at -5/150 for his career at SS, -7 this year.

On Harpers' defense -- all the stats seem to agree that this was the only season with poor (terrible) defense. Until this year, Rfield had him above-average. Including this year, UZR still has him as a bit above-average in LF and average in CF and RF for his career. Statcast had him as terrible this year but (give or take) an average RF in 2017 and 2016. Obviously you'd like to know if 2018 was an injury issue and that the injury was cleared up but to this point, it's one atrocious season and a much bigger batch of average to good. He's still only turning 26 so it's early to be expecting major defensive decline. But sure, if you're still trotting him out to a corner at 32, you're probably gonna get Reggie's defense (or worse). (Not a bad comp for him.)

As to his arm, UZR seems to give him +12 for his career; bWAR gives him +11. He's got 53 career assists which is pretty good but, like everything else, collapsed this year to just one.
   61. Walt Davis Posted: October 13, 2018 at 06:44 PM (#5765774)
Harper - Reggie just cuz it struck my fancy. Reggie didn't debut until age 21 for a very partial season so I'll take them for ages 22-25 (just a 20 PA difference).

RJ 261/361/501, 151 OPS+, 23 WAR, 21 oWAR, 15 WAA, 0 dWAR
BH 283/410/543, 150 OPS+, 18 WAR, 19 oWAR, 10 WAA, -4 dWAR

Harper had his massive age 22 season with a 198 OPS+ and 10 WAR; Reggie had a massive age 23 season with a 189 OPS+ and 9 WAR. Harper followed his massive season with a 1.5 WAR season; Reggie followed his with a 2.2. Reggie takes it mainly on defense with most of that due to Harper's terrible 2018. Still a 5-WAR difference over 4 seasons is a big difference.
   62. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: October 13, 2018 at 07:14 PM (#5765804)
Isn’t Harper destined for The Angels? Isn’t this the type of player they sign for way more than he is worth?
Don't tease me. The Angels played this season with Kole Calhoun dead body batting either first or second nearly 300 times this season. I would HAPPILY, HAPPILY have the Angels sign Harper.
   63. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2018 at 07:36 PM (#5765824)
Given the way players tend to feel about superstar players, I doubt any player in the dugout would bat an eye if the Cards put Manny at SS and moved deJong. Nobody there is going to be saying "but don't they know Machado is a sub-par SS??????"

And it's not clear that he is. Rfield put him as terrible in Baltimore and above-average in LA. He eventually wrestled his dWAR back to 0 suggesting he'd be -8 or -9 at SS. UZR has him at -5/150 for his career at SS, -7 this year


I still don't like the message, and if Machado struggles or plays poorly the team is locked into the verbal agreement or risk alienating their big signing, but Machado is probably at best a 0 rField shortstop DeJong is probably a +5 rField shortstop, Machado has the better arm, so it makes perfect sense to put him at third over Dejong.

Of course this is a what if scenario that isn't going to happen, the team loves Machado, but really don't have the desire to make another free agent signing and push themselves close to the salary cap when they have developing players who they probably hope to sign out their arby years. I would have no problem with them signing him and saying shortstop is yours on opening day, but we need you to be okay with us changing our mind around the all star break if it isn't working out as planned, and maybe we could try again next season... but the Cardinals are piss poor communicators to their players, so that conversation would never happen.

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