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Thursday, June 07, 2001

Ochoa rising to task when called to lead off

Alex Ochoa is a very underrated player.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 07, 2001 at 02:39 PM | 10 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. rlc Posted: June 08, 2001 at 11:39 AM (#69160)
Possibly the most underrated 29 year old OF with a career .779 OPS in the game today.
   2. scruff Posted: June 08, 2001 at 12:26 PM (#69161)
RLC, that's a b$%^s&*@ potshot you're taking. In 1999 he stepped his game up a level, adding in the 3 years before that isn't really fair, he's not that player anymore. He quadrupled his walk rate that year (who was the hitting coach?!), and has been a very good player ever since.

His OBPs the last 3 years are .404, .378, .352. His SLG have been .466, .586, .441. He's scored 127 runs in 836 plate appearances. That's 101 per 665 PA, and he hasn't been batting lead off all that time. He's drawn 83 BB, or 66/665 PA. He's hit 48 2B, 9 3B, 25 HR. He's driven in 124 runs. He's had 225 hits. He's hit .307. He doesn't have a huge platoon split for his career, so it's not like the numbers were all piled up against lefties or anything, although he's crushing them this year.

I think this is a pretty good line:

AB - 584
   3. Jay Jaffe Posted: June 08, 2001 at 04:27 PM (#69163)
Ochoa's definitely come into his own, and I'm glad for him. But I can see where RLC is coming from. Ochoa was so overhyped early in his career, five-tool-player this, budding star that. I'm sure the Orioles, the Mets, the Twins and the Brewers might wish they had him now, but he really hasn't accomplished much relative to all the praise that was prematurely heaped on him. I mean, he's 29 and he's never even had 300 ABs in a season, on teams that were just about out of the pennant races on day 1.

I see the Reds have another five-tool wonder: Ruben Rivera. Don't even get me started on that guy...
   4. scruff Posted: June 08, 2001 at 04:44 PM (#69164)
Jay, when he played for Milwaukee, he played great in 1999, they blew it letting him go. I guess the figured Marquis was a better option.

I can see what you say about the other teams, but that's no reason to hold it against him now. Bernie was a disappointment until 1994. We had heard about him since the late 80s as this great prospect and he was very average from 1991-93. But Ochoa's been a good player for 3 years now. He was decent in 1996, his first half-shot, then when he underperformed early in 1997, the Mets gave just gave up on him. The Twins chose a 39-year old Otis Nixon over him 1998, I can see why he atrophyed over those two years. Granted he played pretty poorly, but you can see why, everyone expected the world from him, and when he started slow he became a scapegoat. In 1999 he got a fresh start and has been a good player ever since.
   5. Jay Jaffe Posted: June 08, 2001 at 05:59 PM (#69166)
Guys--I don't begrudge either Alex Ochoa or Ruben Rivera their success. I'm just glad I didn't have to wait for it on my team's watch. As a fan I just get tired of hearing about some scout or pundit year after year talking up the same five-tool player when the guy can't even hold down a spot as a fourth outfielder. Especially here in NYC, where I live and where both of these guys had the weight of expectation thrust upon them.

The Yanks decision to give up on Rivera was a smart one, in retrospect, because here we are five years later and Ruben is only starting to put it together. Ochoa, on the other hand, was mismanaged along the way, several times over at that. Otis Nixon, Marquis Grissom... yeech. That said, you'd hope the guy could make his own case that he was a better player than those clowns.
   6. Robert Dudek Posted: June 08, 2001 at 07:23 PM (#69167)
I absolutely hate it when somebody says that player X is no good because of a career OPS of XYZ or OPS of ABC this year or last year. As if a player can be defined by one stat. I'm talking about OPS unadjusted for League and Park - which the aforementioned lazy-bones wouldn't bother with.

OPS is a crude approximation of a player's offensive value and is only used as the be-all-and-end-all by lazy people. A better summary stat would be either XRUNS/PA or XRUNS/27outs or a similar metric, whichever base you feel most comfortable with.

A player's position and how he plays it is extremely relevant.

On another thread, someone said that Ichiro was nowhere near Manny in terms of MVP so far. As evidence they gave (what else) their OPS figures. Well, Manny has been almost exclusively a DH (55DH,3 LF games) this year and Ichiro has played like he is the best defensive RF in my lifetime (combining Jesse Barfield's arm with a centerfielder's speed). He has been the most efficient leadoff man in the majors - and he is exceeding his runs scored projection to boot (see earlier thread about James' Leadoff Efficiency metric). Both men have been the most efficient players at their respective offensive roles. Of course, Manny's role is more valuable - but is it enough to reverse the tremendous difference in positional and defensive value ?

If you take this all into account, I think Manny is still ahead, but Ichiro is not far behind.

To sum up. There is a lot to consider when evaluating a player over the long or short term.
   7. scruff Posted: June 08, 2001 at 07:32 PM (#69168)
"I'm just glad I didn't have to wait for it on my team's watch."

Jay, I say the same thing to guys that consistently finish in the lower half of my fantasy league all the time. Especially to guys that draft every expected to be good young pitcher that comes along, and then watch him pitch for a money team the year after they dump him. That's what seperates the good organizations from the bad. The bad ones teach those guys how to play, the good ones wait until they are ready to acquire them. Not that Cincy is a good organization right now, but you get my point.
   8. scruff Posted: June 08, 2001 at 07:41 PM (#69169)
Robert, I agree with you 100%. Manny is in a terrific hitter's park and Ichiro is in the 2nd best pitcher's park in the AL. People forget that when they discuss the two. I agree with you that Manny is ahead, but it's a lot closer than people think.

That being said, I'd take ARod's season over anyone in the AL right now, even in the best hitter's park in the league.
   9. rlc Posted: June 09, 2001 at 02:53 AM (#69171)
My, I seem to have touched a nerve. Nonetheless, I stand by my statement - name one 29 year old OF with a career .779 OPS who is more underrated than Ochoa.

While you're thinking it over, I recommend clicking around a bit on this site - there's a lot I could learn if weren't so lazy and ignorant.

There's an article about how Ochoa's cannon arm makes up for the offensive gap between him and Sosa, Drew, Walker, Guerrero, Green, Burnitz, Abreu, et al:

http://www.baseballprimer.com/articles/cdial_2001-06-04_0.shtml

There's a page that shows Bernie Williams putting up a disappointingly very average .760 OPS at age 23:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/w/willibe02.shtml

There's even an article that goes into the joy of ad hominem attacks:

http://www.baseballprimer.com/articles/mccracken_2001-04-17_0.shtml

But getting back to Alex Ochoa - if I were going to try to measure how underrated a player is, I'd need to know how he _should_ be rated. If I weren't so cripplingly lazy and ignorant, I'd calculate the XRUNS/PA of all the RF in the majors, but instead I'll just link to Davenport's EQAs:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/current/eqa.html#possort

which shows that, by this metric at least, Ochoa should certainly be rated higher than Derek Bell and Eric Owens. The metric also suggests that playing in Cincinnatti in 2001 he is basically an average offensive RF, and given that he is 29 and thus more likely to decline than improve, he may fall slightly short of Cooperstown.

And of course Jay hit the nail on the head - having heard Ochoa touted as the next big star since he and Curtis Goodwin were limping smoothshod over the Carolina League, I'm afraid I have trouble adjusting to his being _underrated_.
   10. Robert Dudek Posted: June 09, 2001 at 07:43 AM (#69172)
jd...

XR (Extrapolated Runs) is a Linear Weights Run Estimation which JimFurtado (contributor to this site) developed using data from 1955-1997 (I think). If you go to the Baseball Stuff link and then JimFurtado's stuff, you will find a series of articles on his method compared to others.

There are 3 XR formulas - the most precise one is:

.5*single+.72*double+1.04*triple+1.44*Homerun+.34*(HBP+W-IW)+.25*IW+.18*SB-.32*CS-.090*(AB-H-K)-.098*K-.37*GIDP+.37*SF+.04*SH

There is a reduced version (called XRR) which is the same except for the following changes: .33*(HBP+W)-.098*(AB-H); GIDP, SH, SF and IW are not included.

Once you have calculated XR, you can divide it by outs (AB-H+GIDP+SH+SF+CS) and multiply by 27. Or you can use an XR/PA (AB+SH+SF+HBP+W) to calculate a rate of production. It is my feeling that XR per Out overestimates the value of a man with a high OBP; XR/PA may slightly underestimate that same man's value, but I trust it a lot more.

This, of course, does not account for park factors. At this point in the season it is probably too early to figure park factors for 2001. You can use 1999 thru 2001 data and figure a park factor. In general, we know that Fenway slightly favors hitters and Safeco is one of the 2 or 3 best pitcher's parks.

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