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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Paul Lebowitz: Mean, Mean-Spiritied, Meaningless

But, but…isn’t that what Twitter is for? As Lebowitz takes on Rob Neyer’s tweets…

Rob Neyer posted the following on Twitter yesterday about Derek Jeter:

Just to be clear about this … the issue isn’t *where* Captain Groundout bats in the lineup, but that he’s in the lineup at all.

Then, after that bit of analysis, Neyer sort of receded off into the background (much like leaving ESPN to be the lead editor—or something—on SBNation) and doesn’t provide a solution to the Yankees non-existent issue at shortstop.

...There’s a meanness that emanates from some stat people like Neyer and Keith Law that’s off-putting; perhaps it’s from never having played the game of baseball; perhaps it’s a bitterness that comes from writing about an activity and longing so desperately to have their way seen as correct; or maybe they’re just obnoxious jerks.

But what’s the point of such short-sighted cruelty—without a solution—based on one month for a player who has been one of the best and most consistent players in baseball since 1996 and has played clean?

EDIT: Here’s the original article: Derek Jeter: Captain Groundout. H/T to Jose Is The Special Seabiscuit. JF.

Repoz Posted: May 05, 2011 at 01:06 PM | 89 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, dodgers, media, sabermetrics, site news, yankees

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   1. Kurt Posted: May 05, 2011 at 01:34 PM (#3818800)
Repoz, you magnificent bastard.
   2. Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: May 05, 2011 at 01:45 PM (#3818804)
Interesting that he doesn't link to Neyer's piece to allow the reader to read the piece in context.
   3. whoisalhedges Posted: May 05, 2011 at 01:49 PM (#3818807)
Yes, that's how Rob always struck me: a mean-spirited jerk.
   4. True Blue Posted: May 05, 2011 at 01:51 PM (#3818810)
But he's a great book reviewer for Amazon.
   5. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: May 05, 2011 at 01:51 PM (#3818811)
Interesting that he doesn't link to Neyer's piece to allow the reader to read the piece in context.


In the excerpt he quotes a Tweet. Unless there is a longer article referenced elsewhere there is little reason to think that the quote Lebowitz provides is not the *entire text of the Tweet.* It's not like you go on for any length on Twitter.
   6. SoSH U at work Posted: May 05, 2011 at 01:52 PM (#3818812)
some stat people like Neyer and Keith Law


People, huh? I thought they were the reanimated dead?
   7. Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: May 05, 2011 at 01:58 PM (#3818821)
The (admittedly short) article.

Neyer doesn't offer a solution to the problem but he presents some work from Aaron Gleeman on the viability of Jeter with his very high groundball rate.
   8. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: May 05, 2011 at 02:00 PM (#3818827)
I hate how these off-putting stat people like Neyer and Keith Law and Albert Belle have ruined the enjoyment of baseball for me.
   9. Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: May 05, 2011 at 02:01 PM (#3818830)
What strikes me about Lebowitz' piece is that Neyer's piece really wasn't anything to get energized about. The stuff on Jeter was a bit of a throwaway "hey, this guy is having a lousy year" type thing that seems to be a bit more common from Neyer at SBN. Seems like he's posting a lot of stuff that goes somewhere between "Tweet" and "article."
   10. Norcan Posted: May 05, 2011 at 02:03 PM (#3818836)
From a guy whose tagline is, Ruthless Baseball Analysis From The Best Writer You've Never Heard Of, he has a very low threshold of what constitutes as cruel. I hardly think stating that Jeter is playing so badly that he doesn't deserve to be in the lineup as too cruel or mean-spirited. The sample size isn't just one-month; it's been sub-par for more than a year now.
   11. Ron J Posted: May 05, 2011 at 02:06 PM (#3818838)
Dunno. I don't find a gratuitous cheap shot ("Captain Groundout" adds nothing to the piece) cruel. Nor do I find the Broxton comment cruel.

That's not to deny that Lebowitz's initial point is wrong. There is a lot of needless invective in stathead writing. And some of the cleverest bits of stathead writing had a cruel underlying theme (I'm looking at you Billy)

To get to his specific point about Jeter though. The issue is not how well he's playing right now. The issue is whether his current level of play represents a change in ability level. That Jeter was a fine player for a long time doesn't matter a whole lot. And his current stats tell you very little about this. This feels like a scouting/coaching issue. Slow bat or bad luck? Specific (correctable) mechanical flaw? Fatigue?

Maybe he needs more time off right now. Don't know. What I do know is that he's at an age where brutal years for great players is not uncommon (and most bounce back to have one more pretty good year after successfully making the adjustments that the career crisis forces on them). That he's been a very good, durable player for quite some time is of no particular relevance to the question at hand. Father time gets everybody, when varies by player.

That the Yankees are probably less able to handle a long-term issue at shortstop than at any other position doesn't speak well of their planning in the off season. Giving heavy work to Chavez is practically begging him to break down, and while I think ARod was a better defensive shortstop than Jeter years ago, skills that are not used tend to atrophy. Color me doubtful that ARod would be any good at shortstop now, though I don't think giving Chavez an extra game a week (with ARod at short) is a silly idea. Other than the #$%^-storm anything like that would bring down. (Unless it was framed as a chronic condition with Jeter -- that he needs extra rest because of a wonky back or something)
   12. Delicious Cake Posted: May 05, 2011 at 02:12 PM (#3818843)
Lebowitz doesn't seem to realize that snark is the avenue of twitter postings. If he would actually read one of Neyer's articles, he would see that the guy is a bit more measured in his approach in a longer format. Lebowitz needs to stop taking throwaway one liners so damn seriously.
   13. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: May 05, 2011 at 02:12 PM (#3818844)
But what’s the point of such short-sighted cruelty—without a solution—based on one month for a player who has been one of the best and most consistent players in baseball since 1996 and has played clean?


1: If he's not good enough to play NOW, who cares if he played "clean" or not in the past?
2: It hasn't been one month, .260/.335/.334 last 160 games- that's an OPS+ of 80 for those playing at home (league .335/.414 over that span)- that's pretty much near replacement level offense for a SS

Do the Yankees have any better options right now? That should be the question
   14. McCoy Posted: May 05, 2011 at 02:14 PM (#3818845)
Has Lebowitz ever picked up a newspaper? Everyday real sports "journalists" all across the country are being far crueler than that in their articles.
   15. Ron J Posted: May 05, 2011 at 02:14 PM (#3818846)
#10 The problem with concluding last year was sub-par is that you're judging by the standard of Jeter as opposed to the standard of shortstops. OK, Jeter wasn't a wonderful defensive player. He was basically average offensively when compared to shortstops (meaning somewhat below average compared to starting shortstops)
   16. SoSH U at work Posted: May 05, 2011 at 02:16 PM (#3818848)
If he would actually read one of Neyer's articles, he would see that the guy is a bit more measured in his approach in a longer format.


This is Lebowitz. Even though he shares a basement base of operations with us, he's as thoroughly disdainful of the "Stat Zombies" as any Plaschke or Shank. Reasoning with him has proved fruitless.
   17. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: May 05, 2011 at 02:18 PM (#3818850)
Having his feelings hurt by stat-heads is on Jeter's bucket list.
   18. spike Posted: May 05, 2011 at 02:22 PM (#3818854)
perhaps it’s from never having played the game of baseball;

I love how this usually gets tossed in as a pejorative without a reference to the writer's athletic resume. Are we to assume that he did, and at what level?
   19. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 05, 2011 at 02:26 PM (#3818857)
I posted a message pointing out that Jeter hasn't actually been any good with the bat for more than a year now.

My comment is "awaiting moderation".
   20. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: May 05, 2011 at 02:35 PM (#3818870)
But what’s the point of such short-sighted cruelty—without a solution—based on one month for a player who has been one of the best and most consistent players in baseball since 1996 and has played clean?

The absolute sureness of writers about the "cleanliness" of certain players is hubris in waiting. Nothing personal to Jeter, but I'd love to see the backpedaling if Jeter surprised us with an announcement of his history of steroid use. Repoz would need an assistant to keep up with the pinatas.
   21. Joey B. is counting the days to Trea Turner Posted: May 05, 2011 at 02:41 PM (#3818876)
Not only do the Yankees not have an obvious alternative in place, but jeez, have we really already forgotten that they just signed him to a new three year contract for $51 million?
   22. Ron J Posted: May 05, 2011 at 02:48 PM (#3818886)
#21 Which as I've said elsewhere makes it inevitable that he'll get all the time in the world to demonstrate whether his stat line represents a change in ability level or is just Voros' Law in action (again).
   23. Chicago Joe Posted: May 05, 2011 at 02:53 PM (#3818891)
My comment is "awaiting moderation".

Maybe his mom called him upstairs for breakfast-Mickey Mouse pancakes, hooray!
   24. tfbg9 Posted: May 05, 2011 at 03:18 PM (#3818920)
that's pretty much near replacement level offense for a SS


And his play in the field is as bad as always, as bad you're gonna see for a guy who, in fairness, doesn't make errors.*

Is it time to kick him to the curb? The way they did with Bernie, and Joe, and Casey, and yes, the Babe? What is it about the NYY's and the super-douchy way they part with their key personel, after they've used up their usefullness?

"Caindy, its time to shoot that old smelly dog of yourn. I'll do it for ya, iffin' you jess cain't bring yerseff to."

*I fully assume Jetes will bounce back and have a passable season, replete with lots of top-step fist pumping.
   25. OMJ, urban D machine Posted: May 05, 2011 at 03:45 PM (#3818942)
#10 The problem with concluding last year was sub-par is that you're judging by the standard of Jeter as opposed to the standard of shortstops. OK, Jeter wasn't a wonderful defensive player. He was basically average offensively when compared to shortstops (meaning somewhat below average compared to starting shortstops)


Then why did they pay him like Jeter and not an average shortstop when they were only expecting everage production?
   26. spike Posted: May 05, 2011 at 03:59 PM (#3818958)
What is it about the NYY's and the super-douchy way they part with their key personel, after they've used up their usefullness?

$51M would alleviate much of my suffering were I treated in such a manner.
   27. Joey B. is counting the days to Trea Turner Posted: May 05, 2011 at 04:13 PM (#3818966)
Then why did they pay him like Jeter and not an average shortstop when they were only expecting average production?

Because he's not any old average shortstop, he's friggin' Derek Jeter, the guy with the five rings who pretty soon will have played more games as a Yankee than anyone in history.
   28. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: May 05, 2011 at 04:17 PM (#3818971)
There’s a meanness that emanates from some stat people like Neyer and Keith Law that’s off-putting ... maybe they’re just obnoxious jerks.

Pot meet kettle.
   29. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: May 05, 2011 at 04:19 PM (#3818972)
Then why did they pay him like Jeter and not an average shortstop when they were only expecting everage production?


Brand management.
   30. Dan Szymborski Posted: May 05, 2011 at 05:36 PM (#3819056)
That's not to deny that Lebowitz's initial point is wrong. There is a lot of needless invective in stathead writing. And some of the cleverest bits of stathead writing had a cruel underlying theme (I'm looking at you Billy)


This is what Billy thinks about that.
   31. Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: May 05, 2011 at 05:49 PM (#3819071)
Billy branching out. These kids grow up so fast.
   32. Monty Posted: May 05, 2011 at 06:01 PM (#3819086)
I remember when Rob was doing regular updates on (I think) Josh Booty's failure to be an MLB-quality player. That was kind of mean. But then he stopped doing it because he decided it was gratuitously mean. That monster!
   33. Srul Itza Posted: May 05, 2011 at 06:01 PM (#3819087)
The Yankees rolled the dice with Jeter. I am sure they realized that he would probably not be worth his salary on an objective level, but assumed that he would still be above average, or at least serviceable, and the rest of the money represented a PR investment and largesse from a very rich team.

Now, unless Jeter surprises most of us by showing that he really still has something in the tank -- and hope grows dimmer, day by day -- they are stuck with a sunk cost and no viable replacement in the near term.

Jeter is now out of the line up with a bad hip. It will be interesting to see how long, and where he bats when he comes back.
   34. rombuu Posted: May 05, 2011 at 06:24 PM (#3819112)
I'm glad Billy is keeping the faith as a Royals fan.
   35. A sad, lost penguin wandering the tundra, dreaming Posted: May 05, 2011 at 06:28 PM (#3819119)
According to LoHud, Jeter wanted to play, but Girardi decided to give him a day, in part because he's started all but 1 game this year. Both Girardi and Jeter said they expect him to be in the lineup tomorrow in Texas.
   36. zenbitz Posted: May 05, 2011 at 06:48 PM (#3819140)
Captain Groundout


Mean and funny is still funny.
   37. OMJ, urban D machine Posted: May 05, 2011 at 07:25 PM (#3819184)
Because he's not any old average shortstop, he's friggin' Derek Jeter, the guy with the five rings who pretty soon will have played more games as a Yankee than anyone in history.



And how many wins is that adding this year? Thanks for making my point Re: comparing him to average shortstops. If he is Jeter, and you pay him like jeter, you can't evaluate him against league average SS, you can evaluate him in terms of of his own standard, by which, he stinks.
   38. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 05, 2011 at 07:32 PM (#3819198)
Then why did they pay him like Jeter and not an average shortstop when they were only expecting everage production?

I think they also have a reasonable hope that if he truly stinks, he'll retire rather than embarass himself for 3 more years.

If this is Jeter's tru talent level now, I would expect him to retire after this season (assuming he gets the 3000th hit).

I can't imagine him wanting to put up two more seasons of a 600 OPS and completely ruin his career stats and legacy.

The Yankees would probably ease the way by restructuring 25-50% of his remaining contract into guaranteed deferrals before he retired, so he wouldn't forfeit all the $$$$.
   39. Walt Davis Posted: May 05, 2011 at 08:26 PM (#3819302)
2: It hasn't been one month, .260/.335/.334 last 160 games- that's an OPS+ of 80 for those playing at home (league .335/.414 over that span)- that's pretty much near replacement level offense for a SS

Really? Because I look at 2010, players with 200+ PA and at least 50% of games at SS and I find only 26 who put up better than an 80 OPS+. And 6 guys with 500+ PA with an OPS+ of 80 or worse.

If I look 2008-10, 800+ PA, 50% of games at SS, I get only 23 who can beat an 80 OPS+. There are 9 guys who are worse although only one of them (Betancourt) averaged 500+ PA.

So unless we re-defined "replacement" to mean "lower end of starting quality", he's not close to replacement level yet. Manzella (47), Izturis (50; 60 the last 3 years), Josh Wilson (62; 63 career), Juan Castro (55 career OPS+) is what a replacement level SS hits like.

Alberto Gonzalez 65, Tyler Greene 70, Anderson Hernandez 65.

Granted, Jeter should be embarrassed that over the last year he's been outhit by Omar Vizquel ...
   40. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: May 05, 2011 at 08:41 PM (#3819329)
It can't be more than a year ago that people were writing articles about Jeter getting 4,000 hits. Now it's a struggle to get to 3,000. As a bitter Mets fan, I approve.
   41. A sad, lost penguin wandering the tundra, dreaming Posted: May 05, 2011 at 09:04 PM (#3819368)
Meanwhile, Chavez broke his 5th metatarsal in today's game ...
   42. Tin Angel Posted: May 05, 2011 at 09:09 PM (#3819377)
Lebowitz just got into a rather pathetic twitter fight with GC from CSTB over this. He seems like a sad and deranged little man.
   43. Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: May 05, 2011 at 09:19 PM (#3819386)
Lebowitz just got into a rather pathetic twitter fight with GC from CSTB over this. He seems like a sad and deranged little man.


That was bizarre. Lebowitz seems to be having an argument that no one else is having.
   44. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: May 05, 2011 at 09:36 PM (#3819402)
Really? Because I look at 2010, players with 200+ PA and at least 50% of games at SS and I find only 26 who put up better than an 80 OPS+. And 6 guys with 500+ PA with an OPS+ of 80 or worse.


Ok, 2006-2010
top 150 SS by PAs, (1 per team per year)
median starting SS OPS+ is 91.

top 20%: 123
second 20%: 102
middle 20%:90.5
next 20%: 79.5
bottom 20%: 63.5

Where is replacement level-well unless you think that the very worst starter is better than the best guy on the bench or in AA/AAA - which could only happen if talent is distributed evenly among all organizations- and every team makes perfect player evaluations- replacement level is ABOVE the level you described as "lower end of starting quality"
Manzella (47), Izturis (50; 60 the last 3 years), Josh Wilson (62; 63 career), Juan Castro (55 career OPS+) is what a replacement level SS hits like
umm no, they are what everyone else means when they say "sub replacement level"

If you want a bright line- I would guess it's at least around 75 for SSs- because that's where the bottom 20% averages out to if you expand the pool about 20% or so beyond beyond "starters".
So Jeter at 80 is above that- but then you have to consider that he simply is not a good defensive SS either.

WRT BBREF WAR? I took every SS, 2000-2010, 300+ PAS, OPS+ between 75-85, 68 player seasons, average OPS+ was 79.9, WAR fielding was +0.7, WAR baserunning as +0.6, WAR GDP was +0.2, WAR was 1.0, meaning that over 530 PAs, an OPS+ of 80 was about 5 runs above replacement level
   45. valuearbitrageur Posted: May 06, 2011 at 06:31 AM (#3819586)
My guess is that most shortstops who OPS+ 80 are actually decent defenders. Jeter is in the bottom quartile of shortstops by offense, and likely far below it by defense, that's replacement level for sure. it can't be that hard to get a decent defensive SS who can OPS+ 80, or an awful defensive SS who can OPS+ 95.
   46. Walt Davis Posted: May 06, 2011 at 08:05 AM (#3819589)
Ok, 2006-2010
top 150 SS by PAs, (1 per team per year)
median starting SS OPS+ is 91.


Ummm ...

Is that your defnition of starting SS? The top 150 in PA? And your definition of "SS" is??? I'm going with at least 50% of games at SS.

Over the last 5 years, only 105 SS have had 502 or more PA in a season. Your "starting" SS list goes down to 309 PAs. And they aren't playing all their games at SS. You've got thousands and thousands of PAs to account for.

"Replacement-level" guys are, get this, the guys who replace all those PAs your starters don't play. Actually those are the bench guys, the "replacement-level" guys are the ones below that. (And are "freely available" so optimality doesn't really play a role).

Still, let's take the 300 cutoff. I'll cheat and use 300 PA which gives me 154 player-seasons.

90th percentile: 121
70th percentile: 101
50th percentile: 90
30th percentile: 80
10th percentile: 65

First, we'll not that your claim is that 30% of "starting" SS are in fact replacement level. Or maybe 20% if you still consider Jeter above that level.

We'll also note that the two biggest drops in this distribution are between the 70th and 90th and between the 30th and 10th.

Who might these replacements be? Looking at players with at least 10 games at SS and between 50 and 300 PA ... there are 159 such seasons, also a little more than one per team. The median OPS+ in this group is 64, conveniently right where the 10th percentile was in the earlier table. Players around here are John McDonald, Ramon Vazquez, Augie Ojeda, Andres Blanco, Miguel Cairo, Josh Wilson, Angel Berroa (post-Royals), Willie Bloomquist, Jose Vizcaino, Juan Castro, Brandon Fahey -- y'know, mostly backup SS and (not listed) some aged former starters.

Using WAR and looking at those guys in some seasons ... Fahey, 61 OPS+, -.3 oWAR; Ojeda, 66 OPS+, .1 oWAR; Bloomquist, 62 OPS+, 0 oWAR; Greene, 58 OPS+, -.1 oWAR; Josh Wilson, 62 OPS+, 0 oWAR.

And, of course, Jeter 2010, 120 PA, 62 OPS+, -.1 oWAR.

65 OPS+ -- replacement-level SS.

Don't blame me, blame actual player usage.
   47. Ron J Posted: May 06, 2011 at 10:15 AM (#3819599)
#46 I've talked about using VOOW (value over open wound) before and this is what you're talking about. Replacement level talent plus normal performance variation. The low end is going to be brutal.

So, yes it's completely predictable that a certain percentage of teams are going to get actual performance south of where replacement level "should" be. Generally the worst is in the 10 run range (for the team)

A better way to a pproach the available talent distribution would be to include MLEs for the guys at AAA (and arguably AA -- though this shouldn't matter much)
   48. Jim Furtado Posted: May 06, 2011 at 11:04 AM (#3819600)
So, yes it's completely predictable that a certain percentage of teams are going to get actual performance south of where replacement level "should" be. Generally the worst is in the 10 run range (for the team)

But the truly lucky ones get it while paying Jeter money. :)
   49. GuyM Posted: May 06, 2011 at 12:06 PM (#3819611)
65 OPS+ -- replacement-level SS.
Don't blame me, blame actual player usage.

It hardly matters. Jeter is at least 15 runs below a replacement SS in fielding, probably much worse than that. So even if you use 65, Jeter is still performing at replacement level or worse. If Jeter hits like an average SS, then he's basically a replacement player -- he has to do better than that to contribute value.
   50. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: May 06, 2011 at 12:21 PM (#3819616)
I think they also have a reasonable hope that if he truly stinks, he'll retire rather than embarass himself for 3 more years.


My instinct says the same thing, though when I think about it I have no reason to believe such a thing. No more, at least, than the people who get their panties in a twist when people suggest that Jeter may be resistant to moving down in the batting order. They seem borne of the same instinct: play as the best, or not play at all. The public image Jeter & the Yankees have cultivated suggest that such would be his attitude, but there's no way of knowing for sure.

What I think Jeter should do is demand a trade -- which would force the Yankees to eat his contract -- and then spend the next ten years doing a Rickey Henderson impression.
   51. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 06, 2011 at 12:44 PM (#3819635)
My instinct says the same thing, though when I think about it I have no reason to believe such a thing. No more, at least, than the people who get their panties in a twist when people suggest that Jeter may be resistant to moving down in the batting order.

Well, they both speak to pride.

Retire at the end of the season, and Jeter's a first ballot HoFer.

Stink up the joint for what would be 4 consecutive years, his reputation will be crushed. He'll drag his career stats down a bunch, and will leave folks with the impression of a guy who must have been over-rated. Probably doesn't get into the HoF until his 2nd or 3rd try.

At this point, the extra money has to mean a lot less to Jeter (unless he's been an incredible spendthrift) than the lost pride.
   52. Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: May 06, 2011 at 12:53 PM (#3819639)
Stink up the joint for what would be 4 consecutive years, his reputation will be crushed. He'll drag his career stats down a bunch, and will leave folks with the impression of a guy who must have been over-rated. Probably doesn't get into the HoF until his 2nd or 3rd try.


Baloney. You'd probably see some of the same type of things that were said about Ripken ("only got in because of the streak", "selfish") but there's no way that any loss of form would keep him out of the Hall. Just playing with numbers a bit if he hits .150 over his next 1000 at bats he finishes at .297 for a career. That's the kind of collapse it would take and the "problem" with that is if he hits .150 even Derek Jeter is not getting 1,000 more at bats.

He's going to finish over .300, at least 6 rings and as Lebowitz shows he is perceived as "clean." I think there is a better chance that he gets in unanimously than there is that he doesn't get in on the first ballot (barring steroids/gambling).
   53. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 06, 2011 at 01:01 PM (#3819645)
Baloney. You'd probably see some of the same type of things that were said about Ripken ("only got in because of the streak", "selfish") but there's no way that any loss of form would keep him out of the Hall. Just playing with numbers a bit if he hits .150 over his next 1000 at bats he finishes at .297 for a career. That's the kind of collapse it would take and the "problem" with that is if he hits .150 even Derek Jeter is not getting 1,000 more at bats.

He's going to finish over .300, at least 6 rings and as Lebowitz shows he is perceived as "clean." I think there is a better chance that he gets in unanimously than there is that he doesn't get in on the first ballot (barring steroids/gambling).


You think there's no backlash against a guy who actively sucks for 4 seasons?
   54. Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: May 06, 2011 at 01:08 PM (#3819647)
You think there's no backlash against a guy who actively sucks for 4 seasons?


There would be some backlash but not nearly enough to keep him out, not even close. Ripken is the best comp I can think of, he was pretty bad in 4 of his last 5 years and he got 98% of the vote. 90% of the voters are not going to look at a single number when they get the 2019 ballot, they are going to see "Jeter, Derek" and put an "X" next to his name and move on to Tim Raines.
   55. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 06, 2011 at 01:09 PM (#3819648)
You think there's no backlash against a guy who actively sucks for 4 seasons?


It's possible there could be a small one if the Yankees keep running him out to short and sticking him at the top of the lineup every day for four seasons while he sucks. I highly doubt it would be enough to keep him from 75 percent. A dead girl, a live boy or a dirty needle in his bed are the only things that might do the trick, and I'm only positive about the last one.
   56. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 06, 2011 at 01:17 PM (#3819650)
There would be some backlash but not nearly enough to keep him out, not even close. Ripken is the best comp I can think of, he was pretty bad in 4 of his last 5 years and he got 98% of the vote. 90% of the voters are not going to look at a single number when they get the 2019 ballot, they are going to see "Jeter, Derek" and put an "X" next to his name and move on to Tim Raines.

I think it's substantially worse than that.

I think the Yankee fans turn on him by early-2012 if he's terrible. Then the media piles on full bore. People will start raising the issue of his -20 defensive years, and maybe conclude that he really was that bad all along.\

Our society loves nothing as much as a fallen idol.
   57. Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: May 06, 2011 at 01:18 PM (#3819651)
Reading snapper's posts I think where we have a little difference of opinion is I think the Yankees will reach a point where they stop rolling him out there every night. I think the level of badness he needs to achieve to seriously impact his HoF case/legacy is a level that the Yankees would cease to accept much quicker than the life of the contract. Yeah, if he hits .150 for the next three years that might actually impact him but the Yankees are not going to tolerate that. Frankly, if he plays like he has all year I think the Yankees become a realistic landing spot for Jose Reyes.
   58. BDC Posted: May 06, 2011 at 01:49 PM (#3819666)
The contemporary NYC media of 2011-14 may well turn viciously on Jeter, but that isn't going to change a single HOF vote. The list of HOFers who dragged out careers at more or less length in more or less futility is as long as your arm. Even if the cliff is near, Jeter's career numbers are going to look much like Craig Biggio's (about whom we've had similar discussions). IOW, 3,000 hits and a very lofty place on the career Runs Scored leaderboard: that's going to be an uncontroversial HOF case. And that's without getting into Jeter's rings and postseason playing records, which Biggio can't match.

People surely remember how bad Roberto Alomar was in his last three seasons. He had to wait all of a year for induction, and he had to wait because the late futility prevented him from getting to 3,000 hits, which isn't going to be the case with Jeter. And Alomar's postseason record is not as gaudy as Jeter's. And Jeter never spit on an umpire, etc.
   59. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: May 06, 2011 at 02:13 PM (#3819690)
65 OPS+ -- replacement-level SS.
Don't blame me, blame actual player usage.

It hardly matters. Jeter is at least 15 runs below a replacement SS in fielding,


The median OPS+ in this group is 64, conveniently right where the 10th percentile was in the earlier table. Players around here are John McDonald, Ramon Vazquez, Augie Ojeda, Andres Blanco, Miguel Cairo, Josh Wilson, Angel Berroa (post-Royals), Willie Bloomquist, Jose Vizcaino, Juan Castro, Brandon Fahey -- y'know, mostly backup SS and (not listed) some aged former starters.
and collectively guys who field better than Jeter

2006-2010 the mean SS OPS+ is 86 (all SSs, "starters", backups etc).

Another way- 2008 to date, all currently active SSs with 300+ PAs, 47 guys, #31 has an OPS+ of 79 over that span - only 4 are under 65

65 is waaaay too high- 65 is not replacement level, 65 is a guy who desperately needs to be replace unless he's one of the top 2 fielders in all of baseball

Let's look at ZiPs- whee did Dan project guy #31? At an 83 OPS+
Guy #61 (SS left over after every team has 2)- at 73
   60. Rally Posted: May 06, 2011 at 02:31 PM (#3819714)
...There’s a meanness that emanates from some stat people like Neyer and Keith Law that’s off-putting; perhaps it’s from never having played the game of baseball


That comment makes me wonder if this author ever played the game at any level. Baseball is a cruel game. It's cruel to the little leaguer who wanted to play but has to sit on the bench all day because his team has little Derek Jeter on it. It's cruel to the kid who plays his best and develops into a pretty good high schooler, but doesn't get drafted and has to get a real job. It's cruel to the guy in AAA, so close to the big league paychecks and lifestyle, who keeps riding the buses and making close to minimum wage until he has to come to grips that he's not getting to the next level. And yes, it's cruel to the big star who one day finds that his aging body can't do the things he once did so easily.
   61. Rally Posted: May 06, 2011 at 02:35 PM (#3819718)
Didn't find a quick answer on his website as to whether he ever played, but did find this:

"Paul Lebowitz is the author of the 2001 novel Breaking Balls and his Baseball Preview/Guide published annually since 2007. He graduated from Hunter College with a degree in English; has blogged on various platforms about various subjects (mostly baseball) since 2006, is a Dark Lord of the Sith and emits deadly lightning from his fingertips."

Rob, Keith, you have been called "mean-spirited" by a Dark Lord of the Sith. That's not something to argue, but something to be extremely proud of.
   62. Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: May 06, 2011 at 02:41 PM (#3819723)
"Paul Lebowitz is the author of the 2001 novel Breaking Balls and his Baseball Preview/Guide published annually since 2007. He graduated from Hunter College with a degree in English; has blogged on various platforms about various subjects (mostly baseball) since 2006, is a Dark Lord of the Sith and emits deadly lightning from his fingertips."


For a guy who seems to consider himself pretty bad ass (Dark Lord of the Sith, "ruthless analysis") he seems to have an awfully thin skin.
   63. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 06, 2011 at 03:04 PM (#3819748)
I think the Yankee fans turn on him by early-2012 if he's terrible. Then the media piles on full bore. People will start raising the issue of his -20 defensive years, and maybe conclude that he really was that bad all along.\
For the same reason that this is reasonably possible, this is certain not to matter for Jeter's legacy or HoF voting, if it happens.

A supposed fan who turns on Jeter and starts hating one of the greatest Yankees of one of the greatest Yankee eras is a fickle idiot. Lots of people, especially in the media, are fickle idiots, or are willing to play the fickle idiot if it gets them twenty more minutes of talkin' time on WFAN. But, because these people are fickle idiots, five years after Jeter retires they'll have forgotten all about that stuff, in the same way they had to forget Jeter's greatness to turn on him.
   64. JL Posted: May 06, 2011 at 03:07 PM (#3819755)
That comment makes me wonder if this author ever played the game at any level.

I have never really understood what that phrase means. When ex-pros say it, I take it to mean never played professionally. But apart from that, is there anyone who follow the game who did not play it on some level, even if just a five on five game in the back yard with pitchers hand is out or something like that? So what is Lebowitz trying to say?
   65. GuyM Posted: May 06, 2011 at 03:17 PM (#3819771)
It's interesting that Jeter's defensive shortcomings are now acknowledged casually and almost universally, while just a couple of years ago that was not the case. But there's no evidence that his fielding has gotten worse. He's making just as many plays -- or more accurately, just as few plays -- as he ever did. And the "advanced metrics" say he's better now than he was 5-6 years ago. So what's changed?

The answer, I think, is that he stopped hitting. Opinions of Jeter's fielding are highly correlated with his performance at the plate. Of course, that's silly -- his hitting decline doesn't necessarily mean his fielding got worse. Then again, for years Jeter's great bat earned him a bunch of illicit Gold Gloves. So there's some rough justice here. Live by the sword......
   66. Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: May 06, 2011 at 03:28 PM (#3819781)
It's interesting that Jeter's defensive shortcomings are now acknowledged casually and almost universally, while just a couple of years ago that was not the case. But there's no evidence that his fielding has gotten worse. He's making just as many plays -- or more accurately, just as few plays -- as he ever did. And the "advanced metrics" say he's better now than he was 5-6 years ago. So what's changed?


I think part of it is that the evidence became overwhelming. Early on it was "just" a small segment of people noting his weaknesses. As criticism grew louder two things happened;

1. People who were willing to change their mind actually paid attention and started seeing what he was defensively
2. The defensive metrics became better and/or gained traction in a way that was not true even 3-4 years ago.
   67. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: May 06, 2011 at 03:31 PM (#3819787)
with pitchers hand is out

I've seen this term recently and it is new to me. We used to play "pitcher's mound is out", which the assumption that only the pitcher could cause the out. The 1B couldn't cover the mound, per se.

Is this new usage? Did Harvey's have some even quainter term when he and Doubleday would play on the Elysian Fields?
   68. GuyM Posted: May 06, 2011 at 04:16 PM (#3819836)
2. The defensive metrics became better and/or gained traction in a way that was not true even 3-4 years ago.

No, I don't think that's it. The best known "advanced" metrics have been pretty kind to Jeter in recent years. UZR had him slightly below average in 2010, but well above average in 2009 and slightly above-average this year.

What changed was the hitting. And then as people soured on Jeter, it made them more willing to see the defensive reality that was always there.
   69. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: May 06, 2011 at 04:37 PM (#3819857)
It's cruel to the kid who plays his best and develops into a pretty good high schooler, but doesn't get drafted and has to get a real job.

Having experienced this, and now vicariously experiencing it again through my son, it does not strike me as particularly cruel.

is there anyone who follow the game who did not play it on some level, even if just a five on five game in the back yard with pitchers hand is out or something like that?

I know some fairly rabid fans who have never so much as played catch. But even putting that aside, I think it's more than fair to say that one's understanding/appreciation of the physical demands of playing baseball at the highest levels is strongly influenced by the highest level one played the game at oneself. For instance, I'm quite confident that most of the sportswriters who rail against pitch counts have never themselves tossed a baseball 100 times in a two or three hour period, much less thrown 100 pitches with anything close to maximum effort.
   70. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: May 06, 2011 at 04:40 PM (#3819861)
"Paul Lebowitz is the author of the 2001 novel Breaking Balls and his Baseball Preview/Guide published annually since 2007. He graduated from Hunter College with a degree in English; has blogged on various platforms about various subjects (mostly baseball) since 2006, is a Dark Lord of the Sith and emits deadly lightning from his fingertips."


I think this conclusively settles the question as to whether or not he ever played baseball at any level.
   71. bads85 Posted: May 06, 2011 at 04:44 PM (#3819866)
It's cruel to the little leaguer who wanted to play but has to sit on the bench all day because his team has little Derek Jeter on it.


Little League is only cruel to those who are denied sno-cones after the game.
   72. Rally Posted: May 06, 2011 at 04:52 PM (#3819871)
I think this conclusively settles the question as to whether or not he ever played baseball at any level.


Jedi/Sith are damn good ballplayers. Luke Skywalker was a bit of a free-swinger, but like Vlad and Ichiro, tremendously exciting. Hitting a homerun blindfolded is quite a feat. Ben Kenobi, especially in his old age, didn't have much of a fastball but he sure could pitch. He'd look like he was on the ropes, and then sneak a 65 MPH 'fastball' in for strike three while the batter just stands there, saying "that was not the pitch I was looking for".
   73. Rally Posted: May 06, 2011 at 04:56 PM (#3819876)
In the years before computers came to my household, I created a makeshift game with D&D dice, a set of rules, and used Star Wars action figures to mark the players in the field and on the bases. Didn't find out about APBA and Strat o Matic until later, which is for the best. It was more fun my way.

You have not witnessed the limits of luck until you calculate Han Solo's BABIP.
   74. bads85 Posted: May 06, 2011 at 05:41 PM (#3819907)
Luke Skywalker was a bit of a free-swinger,


Only in his younger years.
   75. JL Posted: May 06, 2011 at 05:48 PM (#3819913)
I've seen this term recently and it is new to me. We used to play "pitcher's mound is out", which the assumption that only the pitcher could cause the out. The 1B couldn't cover the mound, per se.

That is essentially the rule we used, with the definition of what was the pitcher's mound varying in size based on the number of players we had.
   76. JJ1986 Posted: May 06, 2011 at 05:52 PM (#3819917)
Jedi/Sith are damn good ballplayers. Luke Skywalker was a bit of a free-swinger, but like Vlad and Ichiro, tremendously exciting. Hitting a homerun blindfolded is quite a feat. Ben Kenobi, especially in his old age, didn't have much of a fastball but he sure could pitch. He'd look like he was on the ropes, and then sneak a 65 MPH 'fastball' in for strike three while the batter just stands there, saying "that was not the pitch I was looking for".


Yeah, but Vader would have been lucky to have Jim Abbott's career if he'd played in a different era.
   77. spike Posted: May 06, 2011 at 06:05 PM (#3819939)
Yeah, but Vader would have been lucky to have Jim Abbott's career if he'd played in a different era.

I am no Star Wars aficionado, and it's quite possible I am missing something, but surely this statement would apply far more to Luke Skywalker, given his particular injury history.
   78. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: May 06, 2011 at 06:12 PM (#3819949)
What was Yoda's OBP?
   79. JJ1986 Posted: May 06, 2011 at 06:13 PM (#3819950)
I am no Star Wars aficionado, and it's quite possible I am missing something, but surely this statement would apply far more to Luke Skywalker, given his particular injury history.


When Luke hacks off Vader's hand at the end of Jedi, there's wiring there instead of human insides showing that he already lost it long ago.
   80. Dale Sams Posted: May 06, 2011 at 06:46 PM (#3819984)
For a guy who seems to consider himself pretty bad ass (Dark Lord of the Sith


All of the Sith seem to be pretty thin-skinned.

"Your faith in your friends is yours!"
"YOU ARE PART OF THE REBEL ALLIANCE AND A TRAITOR TAKE HER AWAY!!!!"
"I find your lack of faith disturbing. That property is in a prime location! Twenty minutes to the beach, twenty minutes to downtown!"
   81. tshipman Posted: May 06, 2011 at 06:47 PM (#3819988)
Luke Skywalker was a bit of a free-swinger,


I'll say. He even tried to fool around with his sister.
   82. Stormy JE Posted: May 06, 2011 at 07:19 PM (#3820016)
The Family Guy writers raised a good point: in ESB, why didn't Yoda help Luke take on Vader? IIRC, he wasn't completely decrepit until ROTJ.
   83. BDC Posted: May 06, 2011 at 07:53 PM (#3820033)
why didn't Yoda help Luke take on Vader?

Find his father unaided he must. Realize his ironic destiny he is destined to. The Dark Side simply defeating not of the movie the plot is.
   84. bads85 Posted: May 06, 2011 at 08:05 PM (#3820046)
Find his father unaided he must. Realize his ironic destiny he is destined to. The Dark Side simply defeating not of the movie the plot is.


All that, and the Emperor was out there.
   85. zenbitz Posted: May 06, 2011 at 08:18 PM (#3820067)
Anakin gets his hand cut off by Count Dooku near the end of "Attack of the Clones" (episode II).

It was not, however, replaced with a "ham".
   86. Dale Sams Posted: May 06, 2011 at 08:54 PM (#3820125)
Find his father unaided he must. Realize his ironic destiny he is destined to. The Dark Side simply defeating not of the movie the plot is.


Tell him at least Fukking LIGHTNING BOLTS the emperor could use, he should.

"Forgetting something I am....oh well."
   87. CrosbyBird Posted: May 06, 2011 at 09:44 PM (#3820166)
I think it's more than fair to say that one's understanding/appreciation of the physical demands of playing baseball at the highest levels is strongly influenced by the highest level one played the game at oneself.

Perhaps, although I've never thrown an overhand pitch in competition, and I still marvel that there exist any people that can do that with their arms for a full game, let alone a career. Some of those still shots of pitchers look like they've just got to be one wrong move from obliterating the arm.
   88. Monty Posted: May 06, 2011 at 10:05 PM (#3820181)
You have not witnessed the limits of luck until you calculate Han Solo's BABIP.


Never tell me the odds.
   89. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: May 06, 2011 at 10:50 PM (#3820219)
I still marvel that there exist any people that can do that with their arms for a full game, let alone a career

Well of course we do. This requires only that we are not idiots, thus disqualifying many sportswriters but few of the rest of us. But I was talking about having at least some inkling of the toll it takes on one's body.

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