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   101. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 09, 2010 at 09:45 PM (#3612281)
Papelbon looked ok there.
   102. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 09, 2010 at 10:12 PM (#3612305)
Papelbon looked great today, but Girardi sure as hell didn't. First he pinch-runs Gardner for A-Rod in the 8th, and then Gardner sits there like a stone for Cano's entire at-bat. If Gardner didn't have the confidence to steal against Bard, what the hell was he doing there in place of A-Rod?

Then with two on and one out, Girardi pinch-hits Berkman for Thames, who'd doubled off the wall in his previous at bat, instead of holding his one barrel (Berkman) out to pinch-hit for Granderson, who's 2 for his last 200.

So then in the ninth, instead of being able to lead off with Berkman, you've got nothing but Granderson, who of course strikes out for the 100th time in his last 95 at bats. Who didn't know that?

And then when Tex gets up with the tying run on second, the Sox don't have to worry about A-Rod on deck---instead they've got to sweat Gardner, who's about 1 for August. Great thinking ahead, Joe.

All that said, Papelbon deserves all credit, especially for that nasty splitter, and it was an exciting game all the way. But Girardi sure made it a lot easier for the Red Sox with those two weird moves.
   103. TVerik. Old Java Rodney. Posted: August 09, 2010 at 10:19 PM (#3612312)
It was a cut fastball that barely grazed Cano, and only because it didn't break back toward the plate as much as Cano expected it to, as he made no effort to get out of the way.


Yes, there's always an excuse. "It was a curve ball!" "It slipped out of his hand!" "The Sox couldn't afford to give up another baserunner!"

I've seen Beckett pitch about as much as anyone who is not a Marlins/Red Sox fan over his career, and the longstanding evidence overwhelms the individual acts. I think you have a guy who chooses to play the game that way. Whether you want to root for him or not is a matter for you to decide.
   104. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 09, 2010 at 10:30 PM (#3612321)
Then with two on and one out, Girardi pinch-hits Berkman for Thames, who'd doubled off the wall in his previous at bat, instead of holding his one barrel (Berkman) out to pinch-hit for Granderson, who's 2 for his last 200.
I liked that move. Thames doesn't hit righties, and Berkman does. It's nice that Thames doubled his last AB, but that's off Lester, I don't rate his chances vs. Bard.

Meanwhile, if Granderson is going to hit anyone, it'll be a righty and you know that by the time he comes up Papelbon will be in the game, and Boston isn't pulling him for a lefty, so you're giving him the best shot to suceed.

Garnder for A-Rod, on the other hand...
   105. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 09, 2010 at 10:32 PM (#3612324)
The fact that Beckett has a tendency to throw at hitters isn't damning evidence that in a particular situation he threw at a particular hitter.

Beckett throws a purpose pitch pretty much the same way every time. It's a straight fastball aimed directly at the hitter in the strike zone area - abdomen to knee. (See the pitch he threw at Choo in his last start.) The pitch to Cano was a cutter with a lot of movement on it. That's not his purpose pitch.
   106. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 09, 2010 at 10:32 PM (#3612325)
I saw that pitch, and it's possible to think that (a) Beckett is a complete dick and everything you (TVerik) say he is, but that (b) at the same time, that particular beanuniforming wasn't intentional. And obviously I'm no Beckett fan.
   107. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: August 09, 2010 at 10:33 PM (#3612326)
I've said this before, but Josh Beckett is no more an ace than an orange is a grapefruit.
   108. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 09, 2010 at 10:38 PM (#3612328)
Yeah, I'm with #s 105 and 106 here. Beckett is a ########, but that one to Cano wasn't intentional.
   109. TVerik. Old Java Rodney. Posted: August 09, 2010 at 10:42 PM (#3612332)
Oh, I don't think the Cano nicking is necessarily intentional.

But, when I was 17, I regarded my 1970 Chevy Nova with no seat belts a safety risk, and stopped driving it as soon as the option presented itself. It never killed me or anyone else, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a safety risk.

Matt, I didn't get here (and I've never questioned the innate goodness of a player before, based on what I've seen in uniform) by just seeing him throw at batters, though that's a large part of it. His quotes, his non-playing actions, the fact that whenever there's a Red Sox scrum on the field they need to designate a coach to restrain him have all contributed to my observation. It's like he saw a film of Pedro Martinez and figured that the sum total of what made Pedro Pedro was solely in the way he conducted himself, and it would be easy to imitate.
   110. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 09, 2010 at 10:47 PM (#3612337)
But, when I was 17, I regarded my 1970 Chevy Nova with no seat belts a safety risk, and stopped driving it as soon as the option presented itself. It never killed me or anyone else, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a safety risk.
Cars aren't people and don't have intention. Cars are risky in a consistent way across time. Cars are simple. A person may be a "safety risk" as you allege, but that doesn't mean everything he does, or even anything more than a tiny percentage of things he does, are unsafe. People are complicated.

If we're gonna have this discussion in general, I've seen Joba Chamberlain attempt to kill people with his fastball. Whether you choose to root for someone like that is your own decision. We've all got jerks wearing the uniforms we root for.

EDIT: anyway, you said, sarcastically, "there's always an excuse." In this case, though, it's not an excuse, it's an argument that your interpretation was wrong. I guess your first sentence here is walking back precisely the thing everyone was disagreeing with, so there isn't actually any disagreement anymore.
   111. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 09, 2010 at 10:48 PM (#3612338)
I liked that move. Thames doesn't hit righties, and Berkman does. It's nice that Thames doubled his last AB, but that's off Lester, I don't rate his chances vs. Bard.

I don't rate anyone's chances against Bard too highly, but Thames is .268 / .385 / .439 / .824 against righties this year, and in general he's been a very good hitter, even against some of the best hard throwing closers----remember how this game ended? Berkman's had a much better career, but he's still new to the league and hasn't exactly been on fire, even counting last night.

Meanwhile, if Granderson is going to hit anyone, it'll be a righty and you know that by the time he comes up Papelbon will be in the game, and Boston isn't pulling him for a lefty, so you're giving him the best shot to suceed.

Of course the real problem is the Yanks' woefully weak bench, but AFAIC I don't ever want to see Curtis Granderson at the plate with the game on the line, if there's any chance of avoiding it. He's been consistently overpowered by good pitchers for the past four months, and he's now in a 3 for 28 funk, including 10 strikeouts and only 2 walks. His only hope would have been four straight pitches over the backstop. Anyone who was watching him swing today would have seen this.
   112. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 09, 2010 at 10:54 PM (#3612343)
Thames is .268 / .385 / .439 / .824 against righties this year
Single-year RHB platoon numbers are not predictively useful, for sampling reasons. If you've seen a real change in ability from Thames against RHP, which you can describe, that could be a worthwhile argument that Thames is worth playing against a tough RHP. His single-year platoon stats, though, do not work that way.

Pretty much no one was going to hit Papelbon today. He was working the fastball 94-97 with movement and commanding the splitter down in the zone. When he's doing that, he's one of the best couple relievers in the world.

EDIT: on the general point about Thames / Berkman / Granderson, Girardi reminds me quite a bit of Francona. These guys are the archetypal contemporary-era managers, I think. The contemporary manager tends to stick with underperforming veterans both to maintain order in the clubhouse and because they tend to be very skeptical of "streaks" due to their statistical knowledge. Francona waits for months for his guys to come around, and he's usually right. I'd expect Girardi is doing the same, and basically rightly so.
   113. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 09, 2010 at 10:59 PM (#3612347)
Of course the real problem is the Yanks' woefully weak bench
I don't think that's really the case. Pena is terrible, of course, but on a day facing a tough lefty, the Yankees could (and probably should) have Berkman and Granderson coming off the bench, and vs. a righty they'd have Thames and Kearns. You might not love those options, but it isn't "woefully weak" by any means.
   114. Ray (CTL) Posted: August 09, 2010 at 11:11 PM (#3612352)
Berkman's had a much better career, but he's still new to the league and hasn't exactly been on fire, even counting last night.


It's 28 PAs, Andy. And he hit for an .881 OPS in July.

If there's an actual "new to the league" effect, I haven't seen any study that demonstrates it.
   115. Ray (CTL) Posted: August 09, 2010 at 11:14 PM (#3612353)
The people who dislike Beckett, or are outraged over anything he has done, humor me.
   116. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 09, 2010 at 11:23 PM (#3612355)
This incident is a start.

There was an incident a year or two ago where he complained obnoxiously about guys not playing the game the right way when they took too long to watch the ball after a homer.

This isn't quantifiable, but Beckett seems to me to get in the middle of a scrum during bench-clearing incidents much more than other players, and I think he regularly intentionally throws fastballs at people.
   117. Roger Cedeno's Spleen Posted: August 09, 2010 at 11:33 PM (#3612362)
My last real memory of El Duque was that Houdini act he pulled in the 2005 ALDS...


*flashes back to Game Three of the 2005 World Series*

FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!
   118. Spaceman Posted: August 09, 2010 at 11:48 PM (#3612367)
"After the pitch and a puzzled reaction from Abreu, Beckett marched “menacingly toward the plate""

I love Captain Kickass. He's ####### crazy, even though he's probably not.
   119. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: August 09, 2010 at 11:56 PM (#3612370)
I think that to an extent both sides of this Beckett conversation can be right. I had exactly the same reaction as Erik - 'somebody's getting hit soon.' That being said, I don't think Beckett meant to hit Cano... and my initial impression was actually NOT that Cano was at all surprised to get skimmed by that pitch.
   120. John DiFool2 Posted: August 10, 2010 at 12:43 AM (#3612386)
Despite knowing better, I think a lot of people here revert to old habits when evaluating pitchers, and, as in this case, deciding whether someone deserves the "ace" moniker. They appear to rely less on objective facts, seeming to go with more gut feelings than anything else. Beckett's FIP/xFIP are both 30 points lower than his actual ERA; now, it is certainly possible that there is a reason inherent in Beckett's talent or approach which would explain that. It's ~as likely (probably moreso) that he's been unlucky to one extent or another, and/or has pitched in front of bad defenses. People have pointed to his "stellar" 2007, and contrasted that to his seemingly mediocre 2008 & 2009, but the xFIP was about the same in all 3 years: HR/9 had a slight uptick, but his K, BB, and K/BB all held pretty steady (slight increase in walk rate in '09). In other words, he apparently was the same pitcher all 3 years, but, due to circumstances likely beyond his control, 2007 looks to be an outlier, while in fact '08 and '09 were "inliers".

Sabathia, someone everyone here seems to acknowledge without question is an ace, has a career xFIP 20 points higher than Beckett's. And no, luck has no obligation to "even out" over the course of someone's career, tho again it's possible that Sabathia has been consistently doing something right that Beckett isn't (even this year, when CC's xFIP is .80 points higher, and Beckett's a full 2 lower).
   121. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 10, 2010 at 12:48 AM (#3612392)
Single-year RHB platoon numbers are not predictively useful, for sampling reasons. If you've seen a real change in ability from Thames against RHP, which you can describe, that could be a worthwhile argument that Thames is worth playing against a tough RHP. His single-year platoon stats, though, do not work that way.

I've watched about 80%+ of the Yankees' games this year, and I'd take Thames for himself and then Berkman for Granderson in a blink over Berkman for Thames and then Granderson for himself, no matter who was pitching. Thames has been a solid (130 OPS+) performer all year, Granderson has been a complete stiff since early April (and was 3 for his last 27 at the point of decision), and those were the choices. IMO it was a complete no-brainer, and I still can't figure out what Girardi was thinking.

------------------------

Berkman's had a much better career, but he's still new to the league and hasn't exactly been on fire, even counting last night.

It's 28 PAs, Andy. And he hit for an .881 OPS in July.


But my point wasn't to leave Berkman to rot on the bench, but to pinch-hit him for Granderson rather than Thames.
   122. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 10, 2010 at 12:58 AM (#3612397)
Thames has been a solid (130 OPS+) performer all year

In 120 PA. And his performance couldn't possibly have anything to do with the way he's being used (and not used), since that would imply that Girardi might, in fact, not be a freaking moron.
   123. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 10, 2010 at 01:19 AM (#3612405)
People have pointed to his "stellar" 2007, and contrasted that to his seemingly mediocre 2008 & 2009, but the xFIP was about the same in all 3 years

It's possible that xFIP isn't all that useful.

And no, luck has no obligation to "even out" over the course of someone's career, tho again it's possible that Sabathia has been consistently doing something right that Beckett isn't (even this year, when CC's xFIP is .80 points higher, and Beckett's a full 2 lower).

I think it's far more likely that CC is doing something right that xFIP doesn't pick up. FIP has it's limits with regards to left-handers and xFIP has it's limits when it comes to assessing reality.
   124. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 10, 2010 at 01:36 AM (#3612415)
We do that Berkman's swing isn't designed to take advantage of right field in DNYS.

Per THT (but not discussing mid-season trades) moving from AL to NL decreases a hitter's performance.
   125. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 10, 2010 at 01:47 AM (#3612423)
The people who dislike Beckett, or are outraged over anything he has done, humor me.


Why do you find Beckett distaste amusing?
   126. Ray (CTL) Posted: August 10, 2010 at 02:01 AM (#3612430)
Why do you find Beckett distaste amusing?


Because for one thing the pitch that hit Cano was a cut fastball at 88 mph. And people here say they "expected" him to plunk someone. Yes, because when pitchers head hunt, they usually throw 88 mph below a pitcher's lower thigh.

Beyond that, I just think that making judgments about a player's character, and disliking players on that basis, is silly and immature.
   127. RobertMachemer Posted: August 10, 2010 at 02:05 AM (#3612432)
Per THT (but not discussing mid-season trades) moving from AL to NL decreases a hitter's performance.
Am I misunderstanding something? From the link you posted...

Overall, the general notion that a hitter will perform better in the NL than the AL seems to be true. Most importantly for fantasy owners, a batter gains a full point-and-a-quarter in contact rate, .005 points in BABIP, and 1.5 points in HR/FB simply by playing in the National League.

Doesn't this state that someone moving from the AL to the NL sees an improved performance, rather than a decreased one?
   128. Ray (CTL) Posted: August 10, 2010 at 02:13 AM (#3612440)
Doesn't this state that someone moving from the AL to the NL sees an improved performance, rather than a decreased one?


Anyway, I didn't read the link, but the snippet doesn't have anything to do with a "new to the league" effect; it speaks of a "different league" effect, which is something else.

That is, one would expect a "new to the league" effect to wear off once the batter "adjusts to the new league"; not so with what is being discussed in the snippet.
   129. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: August 10, 2010 at 02:19 AM (#3612442)
The managerial move I don't understand is starting Granderson against an LHP. Ever.
   130. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 10, 2010 at 02:25 AM (#3612448)
In 120 PA. And his performance couldn't possibly have anything to do with the way he's being used (and not used), since that would imply that Girardi might, in fact, not be a freaking moron.
Right, Thames has 120 PA and 68 of them are against lefties. 24 of his 32 starts are with a lefty starter. That's nothing like typical ratio, so clearly Giardi is (wisely) playing to his strengths.
   131. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 10, 2010 at 02:26 AM (#3612449)
Beyond that, I just think that making judgments about a player's character, and disliking players on that basis, is silly and immature.


I dislike him because of numerous incidents like Mikael linked to, frequent tough-guy comments about practices I abhor (such as throwing at people) and, on a more aesthetic level, his pitching, which oft infuriates me. I find these all to be perfectly reasonable reasons to dislike a ballplayer. I have no idea what kind of human being he is off the field, and since I doubt I'll ever meet him, it doesn't really matter. And disliking a ballplayer is no sillier or immature than liking one, though I've never seen you amused by confessions of the latter.
   132. Darren Posted: August 10, 2010 at 02:41 AM (#3612454)
Been meaning to post a thread on this, but I think there's a good case to be made that the Red Sox completely misread the pitching market this offseason. They've signed 2 very good starters for about $17 mil/year each. Meanwhile, Lee was dealt for peanuts, and Oswalt and Haren were making far less than $17 mil (for less years) and their contracts seriously lowered their value.

Now, if they had instead signed Matt Holiday...
   133. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 10, 2010 at 02:42 AM (#3612455)
The managerial move I don't understand is starting Granderson against an LHP. Ever.

I think Gardner is really hurting. The alternative was Kearns in CF (all well and good) and Thames in left (runs screaming from the TV room).

the pitch that hit Cano was a cut fastball at 88 mph

It was also in the middle of the batter's box.
   134. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 10, 2010 at 02:44 AM (#3612457)
Now, if they had instead signed Matt Holiday...

He'd have contracted Dengue Fever during spring training.
   135. John DiFool2 Posted: August 10, 2010 at 02:56 AM (#3612462)
I think it's far more likely that CC is doing something right that xFIP doesn't pick up. FIP has it's limits with regards to left-handers and xFIP has it's limits when it comes to assessing reality.


Then what, then, exactly? A .50 run swing between two pitchers (Beckett is .30 runs above his xFIP, CC .20 below) is pretty significant. [nosnark]Is there a recent article at THT or FG or somewhere which explores any plausible theories, aside from the much-discussed ability of some pitchers to allow lower BABIPs than others? [Beckett's career BABIP is .304, CC's .295, so that's a start] I think the default (null) hypothesis has to be that any such difference is due to factors outside the control of the pitcher(s) in question, unless demonstrated otherwise.
   136. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 10, 2010 at 03:04 AM (#3612465)
I think the default (null) hypothesis has to be that any such difference is due to factors outside the control of the pitcher(s) in question, unless demonstrated otherwise.

I think the butler did it.
   137. Spaceman Posted: August 10, 2010 at 03:17 AM (#3612468)
I think that has to do with Beckett allowing 51 HR's since '08, while CC only allowed 37.
   138. rLr Is King Of The Romans And Above Grammar Posted: August 10, 2010 at 03:27 AM (#3612472)
I pin it on that stupid little Confederate cavalryman patch of hair that Beckett has under his lower lip.
   139. Spaceman Posted: August 10, 2010 at 03:27 AM (#3612474)
moving from AL to NL decreases a hitter's performance

It said no such thing, but anyway:
Miranda: .567 (mlE)
Berkman: .519

:)

More importantly though, Miranda would not have cost Posada PT or Arod, his shin. I'm as certain today as I was once the trade went through, that it just ain't gonna work.
   140. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 10, 2010 at 03:30 AM (#3612476)
Then what, then, exactly?

Spaceman nails it. xFIP normalizes HR rate based on flyball rates and I've never read a convincing reason for doing that.

Is there a recent article at THT or FG or somewhere which explores any plausible theories, aside from the much-discussed ability of some pitchers to allow lower BABIPs than others?

My impression, based on what I've read, is that lefties have a lower BABIP. And CC is a lefty. So you've got a guy with a lower BABIP and a lower HR rate over his entire career, and there's good reason to believe those are skills, not merely luck at play over huge samples. And xFIP ignores those differences because it's a poor stat.
   141. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 10, 2010 at 04:05 AM (#3612489)
127 -- no, you were not misunderstanding, I was mistypin.
   142. Dale Sams Posted: August 10, 2010 at 04:23 AM (#3612502)
Now, if they had instead signed Matt Holiday...


They'd have him back about a week ago after Beltre crushed his ribs.
   143. Dale Sams Posted: August 10, 2010 at 04:24 AM (#3612504)
The people who dislike Beckett, or are outraged over anything he has done, humor me.


Then the Youkilis hate must be akin to A Marx Brothers film.
   144. Deacon Blues Posted: August 10, 2010 at 03:00 PM (#3612688)
My problem with xFIP is really quite simple. It seems to me to be a useful tool for a lot of things, particularly season-season-variance for the same pitcher. But when you have a number of pitchers who consistently are better or worse than this metric would suggest, then I think the metric needs to be examined. Namely, CC and Beckett have been named here, Rivera and Glavine come to mind. Vazquez for the wrongs reasons (I believe, too lazy to check numbers). I've heard theories suggesting the cutter can screw things up. Maybe so. But I don't think anyone here would suggest that Rivera is about to come back down to earth b/c he's been outperforming his xFIP for more than a decade.
   145. Spaceman Posted: August 11, 2010 at 02:35 AM (#3613471)
You can take xFIP and BABIP and stick em where the sun don't shine. They're wrong, and a certain Andrian "+.59" Beltre is out to prove it. Show me the money, baby!

Actually, they're not wrong. What's wrong is their reliance on "luck" and how the word is used to rationalize unexpected results.

"Luck" is not actually luck at all. Yeah, it's present in baseball, like in the rest of life, obviously, but not to the point where A. Jackson can be blowing BABIP away 2/3 thru a season and Beltre is arguably baseball's best 3B, after being an offensive dog for 5 years.

No, in Jackson's case, that's called seriously pissed off at the Yankees and determined to show them up, and with Beltre, it is quite literally, show me the ####### money!. These are two supremily inspired players.

Same with Jimenez. the CY in waiting finds himself 5-0, and thinks to himself, holy ####, this is the year! Supremely inspired.

Don't refer to it as luck, find something better; jacked, energized... the mojo factor! I don't know, but "luck" just sounds silly. Players aren't lucky for months, or even weeks, they're lucky (or unlucky) one play at a time.

Well, that's what I drink anyway.
   146. Darren Posted: August 11, 2010 at 02:54 AM (#3613493)
No, in Jackson's case, that's called seriously pissed off at the Yankees and determined to show them up,


I thought it was called speed. Oh and luck.
   147. Darren Posted: August 11, 2010 at 03:04 AM (#3613502)
Whoops, I missed #144--I see there are five players who are not completely defined by xFIP. Must be useless.
   148. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 11, 2010 at 03:14 AM (#3613516)
Whoops, I missed #144--I see there are five players who are not completely defined by xFIP. Must be useless.

Well, it doesn't really work for lefties. And knuckleballers. And pitchers who throw sinkers. And pitchers who throw cutters. But other than that, it's mostly right, so yeah, go ahead and use it to evaluate every pitcher in the league.
   149. Darren Posted: August 11, 2010 at 03:21 AM (#3613524)
Cowboy,

To be honest, I haven't read the whole thread but those last two posts struck me as saying "Hey, it doesn't work for these 5 guys" and "I don't like the word luck so I will attribute good performances to whatever makes for an interesting narrative..." or some such. I don't think xFIP is great (FIP seems better, but still with some obvious limitations).
   150. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 11, 2010 at 03:33 AM (#3613534)
To be honest, I haven't read the whole thread but those last two posts struck me as saying "Hey, it doesn't work for these 5 guys" and "I don't like the word luck so I will attribute good performances to whatever makes for an interesting narrative..." or some such.

Fair enough. I thought I was getting lumped in there, hence my defensive tone.

I don't think xFIP is great (FIP seems better, but still with some obvious limitations).

Agreed. I see a lot of use to FIP, although I still wonder why people swear to it even though we know some pitchers have more control of their BABIP than others. xFIP bothers me because I don't see any reason to believe HR rate should be normalized. Just because many pitchers have a similar HR rate per flyballs doesn't mean they all do (which can be demonstrated pretty easily), and rather than acknowledge that, xFIP fans just write it off as luck. It seems a lot more logical that CC Sabathia (to pick someone who has been discussed here) has a skill to allow less HRs than other pitchers rather than say he's been luck in three different home ballparks over 2000 IP. Or a guy like Curt Schilling, who allowed a way out of proportion number of HRs with the bases empty because he changed his approach with runners on and managed to limit HRs to a far greater degree over a 3200 IP career. Calling something like that luck just doesn't pass the smell test for me, it's clearly a repeatable skill.
   151. Spaceman Posted: August 11, 2010 at 01:12 PM (#3613682)
I thought it was called speed. Oh and luck.

His line drive rate. Oh, and it's not luck.

Also: I obviously do not know the aforementioned players motivations. I can guess Beltre's, but it's still only a guess. But they are motivated, driven; not lucky.
   152. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: August 11, 2010 at 01:24 PM (#3613694)
If your assumption is that A-Jax is extra motivated this year to show the Yankees they were wrong about him shouldn't he have been similarly motivated last year to prove to the Yankees that he belonged? Why did that not translate into a great year at SWB?

Similarly with Beltre, if you assume his motivation is $$$$ why was he not motivated last year when he was also in the last year of his contract? If it was purely about motivation, shouldn't he have had a 2004 or 2010 type season last year instead of the worst year of his career?
   153. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 11, 2010 at 01:37 PM (#3613700)
First, no one was talking about hitter BABIP. I will say, though, that the number of people who can strike out every fourth time up and still hit .300, in baseball history, is basically nil. The players with the highest career BABIPs of the contemporary era are Ichiro and Jeter, both at .357. Austin Jackson is currently at .422, sixty points higher than the greatest ball-in-play batting average hitters of his time. Forty points higher than the career BABIP numbers of Ty Cobb and Willie Keeler.

I would love to place a little bet on this - $10 sponsorship at B-R, say - set the over/under at .400 BABIP for the remainder of the season? I'll take the under and bet on luck, you can bet on mojo and motivation and over .400.

Second, JDF was using FIP and xFIP to argue that Beckett is a significantly better pitcher than people think he is, when they consider only his runs allowed numbers. I enjoy the implicit argument of Spaceman's that in fact Beckett's problem is not luck, no, he's really a quite bad pitcher this year who has lacked motivation or mojo or something.

Third, what I think is useful about FIP and xFIP is that they help us not get too worked up over single-year numbers. Pitchers differ among themselves in BABIP, in strand rate, in home run rate, and so on. However, these differences are hard to see in single-year statistics, for sampling reasons. So, when we don't have a lot of data to go on, FIP and xFIP are helpful for boiling a pitcher's numbers down to its more stable components - walk, strikeout, and groundball rate. However, when we've got several years of data, as with Beckett in Boston or a full career as with Sabathia or Vazquez, I'm very skeptical that these differences should be ignored or counted as "luck."
   154. Spaceman Posted: August 11, 2010 at 01:38 PM (#3613704)
Similarly with Beltre, if you assume his motivation is $$$$ why was he not motivated last year

Cause his ball ached?

He was injured most of the year, you know. Balls, shoulder..
I really have no clue about Jackson. I think it's safe to say his career BABIP will not be this high, but it is now, and I don't think that should be attributed to luck.
   155. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 11, 2010 at 01:43 PM (#3613707)
I will agree with Spaceman in saying that "unlikely to be maintained" and "lucky" are not equivalent claims. There are lots of things that aren't exactly "luck" that can cause strange spikes in performance. Good starts and cold weeks can happen for various reasons - these are people, they do people things. They can be more or less motivated, more or less worried about their kids, more or less rested from a night in a hotel bed, more or less hung over, and so on. That's not luck, per se, and it affects performance.

I think it's important to say, though, that we typically have a better understanding of how well a player is likely to do in the future when we discount these strange spikes, whatever may have caused them.

And it's important to say that luck really exists. Anyone who's played sports knows that sometimes you just happen to do well for a while, or poorly for a while. The world is complicated, and human events are impacted by chance in real and important ways.
   156. Famous Original Joe C Posted: August 11, 2010 at 01:44 PM (#3613709)
I don't think that should be attributed to luck.

Then what should it be attributed to? Would you prefer "good fortune"?
   157. Spaceman Posted: August 11, 2010 at 01:45 PM (#3613710)
I would love to place a little bet on this - $10 sponsorship at B-R, say - set the over/under at .400 BABIP for the remainder of the season?

If Jackson ends the season with a BABIP higher than .400, Cashman made a very poor call on this young man. I can't even imagine how mentally tough this kid would have to be to stay this focused for a full year.

Don't want any part of that bet.
   158. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 11, 2010 at 01:50 PM (#3613716)
And it's important to say that luck really exists.

After watching the bottom of the ninth in Arlington last night, I couldn't agree more.
   159. Spaceman Posted: August 11, 2010 at 01:51 PM (#3613718)
"unlikely to be maintained" and "lucky" are not equivalent claims. There are lots of things that aren't exactly "luck" that can cause strange spikes in performance. Good starts and cold weeks can happen for various reasons - these are people, they do people things. They can be more or less motivated, more or less worried about their kids, more or less rested from a night in a hotel bed, more or less hung over, and so on. That's not luck, per se, and it affects performance.

Yes, exactly. Thanks.
   160. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 11, 2010 at 01:51 PM (#3613720)
Another major issue that affects performance in unpredicable ways, but isn't exactly a factor of "luck", is health. And not just DL trips - as Spaceman says, Beltre's been banged up a lot in his career, and played through it. This year he appears to be atypically healthy.

Every book I've read about playing baseball professionally has emphasized that ballplayers spend the entire season in some amount of pain. Rarely is a player entirely healthy, even if he's in the starting lineup six days a week. Darin Erstad's .350 season, I think, was partly a "health fluke", a season when an incredibly talented but easily injured guy managed to keep himself more healthy than he ever had before, or ever would again. That's not exactly "luck" - Erstad really was great when he was that healthy - but he wasn't going to be able to stay at that level, because part of being Darin Erstad, usually, is being hurt.
   161. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: August 11, 2010 at 02:03 PM (#3613730)
But aren't the issues in 155 and 160 just variations of luck? Erstad was lucky to be healthy the entire 2000 season. Career years are almost always a function in some regard of "luck." We can sit here all day and debate what amounts to "luck" but it would seem to me that going through six months without a bad night's sleep, avoiding even the niggling little injuries and having life away from the ballpark not influence your day to day functionality is lucky.

Doesn't mean a guy doesn't need to have talent and focus and desire and anything else you want to assign to it but those things exist on a fairly consistent basis. Sticking with Erstad by all accounts he worked his butt off pretty regularly and as you say he had talent when he was healthy. In 2000 a variety of factors both inside and outside his control came together to allow him to take full advantage of his talent and desire. That to me is "luck."
   162. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 11, 2010 at 02:17 PM (#3613746)
This is a definitional question.

I tend to think of "luck" in baseball as describing events whose causes can't be traced particularly usefully. When we can usefully identify causes, even if they're causes that are unlikely to be maintained into the future, what's going on isn't exactly luck, to me. A lot of backlash against the terminology of "luck" in baseball analysis, I think, comes up because people use the word differently. If you're just using the word to refer to events whose causes are unlikely to remain in play in the future, people will often take you to be talking about events whose causes are not reasonably knowable.

I think it's useful to have more precise terminology for talking about baseball, so I like having "luck" mean something more precise. For what it's worth, Austin Jackson's BABIP rate looks utterly inexplicable to me. I've watched him hit, and he's not a special hitter. He swings and misses all the damn time. He's sort of a mess up there. Austin Jackson hitting .300, I'd call that luck.

EDIT: Yes, Erstad was "lucky", but that can go all the way down if you want it to. I mean, Adrian Beltre was lucky to grow up to be six feet tall and incredibly athletic. I want to distinguish between baseball events that have causes that are likely to remain in effect (Adrian Beltre being a major league ballplayer because he is a great athlete), baseball events that have causes that are unlikely to remain in effect (Adrian Beltre having a great 2010 in part because he is unusually healthy and perhaps unusually motivated), and baseball events where the causes are probably unknowable (Austin Jackson hitting .300 while striking out once a game).
   163. Ray (CTL) Posted: August 11, 2010 at 02:33 PM (#3613760)
After watching the bottom of the ninth in Arlington last night, I couldn't agree more.


Agreed, it was lucky that the Yankees escaped the bottom of the ninth.

As to the bottom of the tenth, I like how Michael Kay insisted it was no problem at all to intentionally walk Cruz with men on second and third and one out, since "Mariano never walks anyone." Then when the count went to 3-0 on Murphy, Kay was like, oh sheit.

Then Rivera had to come in with three straight cookies because, well, Girardi had taken away his edge. And Murphy was all over it.
   164. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: August 11, 2010 at 02:35 PM (#3613761)
I like the breakdown of events in your edit. I think "causes that are unlikely to remain in effect" would be what I call luck and "causes (that are) unknowable" may or may not be luck but shouldn't be dismissed because we don't know them yet. My guess is that most of those ARE in fact luck but it is probably too simplistic to just dismiss them without more information.
   165. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: August 11, 2010 at 02:39 PM (#3613768)
In fairness to Girardi you have to assume Mariano isn't going to 3-0 on David Freakin' Murphy.
   166. Paxton Crawford Ranch Posted: August 11, 2010 at 03:31 PM (#3613830)
Saints be praised, Cash to the DL with a strained hamstring. Saltalamacchia gets the call. Yips or no yips, meh hitting stats or no, he's still better than Kevin-freaking-Cash. It'll be nice to see what we've got with Salty; Cash doesn't belong anywhere near a major league roster; the move pretty much makes itself. FWIW, he's thrown out 2 of 3 runners since joining the PawSox. In that small a sample, scouts are going to tell you more than stats, and I would assume Boston has gotten good reports on his throwing.
   167. GGC Posted: August 11, 2010 at 09:57 PM (#3614207)
Any of you guys follow the Red Sox on newspaper sites at all? Michael Silverman of the Herald was at that FanGraphs shindig over the weekend. He said that he has eschewed the traditional game story. I looked at his story from last nite and compared it to the AP wire story. Not much difference in style compared to the wire report, as far as I can detect, but Silverman’s piece reads better. It’s a stronger story about how four forgotten pieces of the roster contributed to Boston’s victory. I find myself a mite confused as to why Carson Cistulli praised this development. I thought one of the larger complaints by the blogosphere was how mainstream media types try and put storylines into their coverage.

More on this inside.
   168. dave h Posted: August 12, 2010 at 02:19 AM (#3614339)
Luck also depends on perspective. For instance, say a hitter strikes out in a certain at bat. Very little of that is luck for the hitter - it may be the vaguaries of performance over a small sample, but it's still the performance of the hitter. If you look at it from the manager who did or didn't pinch hit for the batter, it's a lot of luck as to whether that move worked out or not. Even moreso for the GM.

If a crappy hitter smokes a ball into the gap it's not luck (assuming he didn't close his eyes). He just performed well that time. If he bloops one in, then fine, that's luck.

Also, everything MCOA said.

Also also, 4 games out.
   169. dave h Posted: August 12, 2010 at 04:09 AM (#3614374)
Well, 5 games out. But 3.5 for the wild card.
   170. Ray (CTL) Posted: August 12, 2010 at 04:15 AM (#3614378)
The dumb play of the game award goes to Nelson Cruz, for trying to take third on a fly to right with two outs, up 6-1.

He got thrown out by the oft-cited "ten feet" (Michael Kay).
   171. rconn23 Posted: August 12, 2010 at 04:31 AM (#3614382)
Marcus Thames. Greatest emergency No.3 hole hitter ever!
   172. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 12, 2010 at 12:22 PM (#3614457)
Marcus Thames. Greatest emergency No.3 hole hitter ever!

Well, he was .904 OPS against righties this year, and that was before last night's heroics.

Meanwhile, here's the latest on Cashman's offseason prize. Glad somebody's paying attention:

In an effort to squeeze some production from an increasingly disappointing season, Curtis Granderson is working with the hitting coach Kevin Long to revamp his swing. Describing them as radical changes, Long said he wants Granderson to eliminate unnecessary movement, square his stance and change the position of his hands, with the result ultimately being a much shorter stroke. This approach worked in the off-season for Nick Swisher, who needed the entire winter to adjust. Granderson does not have that luxury. “I would rather have the off-season, but every once in a while you’re going to have a teaching moment where someone says I’m ready,” Long said. “And this is one of those times.”
   173. Darren Posted: August 12, 2010 at 02:17 PM (#3614551)
Yes, overreact and revamp the entire approach of a goo Major League hitter.
   174. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: August 12, 2010 at 07:51 PM (#3614928)
The goo doesn't really factor in to it.
   175. Spaceman Posted: August 12, 2010 at 07:51 PM (#3614931)
Yes, overreact and revamp the entire approach of a goo Major League hitter.

Hence the need for radical changes.
   176. Spaceman Posted: August 12, 2010 at 07:54 PM (#3614938)
Yes! 2 of 3 from TOR, on the road, no less!
::ducks & cringes::
   177. RobertMachemer Posted: August 12, 2010 at 07:59 PM (#3614943)
*slap*
   178. Fat Al Posted: August 12, 2010 at 08:07 PM (#3614955)
As to the bottom of the tenth, I like how Michael Kay insisted it was no problem at all to intentionally walk Cruz with men on second and third and one out, since "Mariano never walks anyone." Then when the count went to 3-0 on Murphy, Kay was like, oh sheit.



Are you trying to imply that Michael Kay saying that it couldn't happen wasn't what caused Rivera to go to a 3-0 count? Because if so, I demur.
   179. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 12, 2010 at 08:14 PM (#3614959)
Yes, overreact and revamp the entire approach of a goo Major League hitter.

Well, I guess since this isn't a Yankee Therapy thread, I can understand why a Red Sox fan would want to keep Granderson's swing right where it is. They should have left Swisher alone, too.
   180. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: August 12, 2010 at 08:28 PM (#3614977)
xFIP is the very definition of a junk stat. I find discussions of it maddening, because it often seems to me that its defenders actually end up doing what incurious dunderheads think anybody conversant in statistics is doing all the time: asserting that deviations from a broken model essentially consist of a flaw in reality, not in the model.

Beckett systematically underperforms xFIP. He's just one of many. People who use it to defend Beckett's signing are pissing at the sky in an attempt to put out the sun.

All that said, Lee wasn't traded for "peanuts". Justin Smoak is the real deal.
   181. Darren Posted: August 12, 2010 at 09:04 PM (#3615030)
The first trade was for peanuts.

xFIP is the very definition of a junk stat.


I don't think so. Speed score is a junk stat. XFIP is meant to actually show something and it works fairly well if you use it as a sort of reality check.
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