FIRE JOE MORGAN: Give Me a C! Give Me an H! Give Me an A! Give Me a T!


Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

FJM has gone dark for the foreseeable future. Sorry folks. We may post once in a while, but it's pretty much over. You can still e-mail dak, Ken Tremendous, Junior, Matthew Murbles, or Coach.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Give Me a C! Give Me an H! Give Me an A! Give Me a T!

Chat! Chat! Chat!

Mike: (York, Pa): Hey joe, how did you enjoy the Little League World Series? I know I enjoyed listening to you. Have fun.

Joe Morgan: I thought it was great.

Ken Tremendous: Cool.

It was a fun event.

KT: Good. Glad you had fun.

It was the first time that I had ever been there.

KT: Huh.

The excitement and pagentry was great.

KT: So, you liked it.

I thought it was great.

KT: Right.

I hated to see one team lose...

KT: I'm bored.

... but it was great for them to get there.

KT: I am asleep.

Nick Chicago: So is Jermaine Dye finally the top canidate for AL MVP? .326-39-106 are all in the top 5 and with Big Papi out indefinitely the only competition I see is Jeter who is only leading in batting avg by 11 points. What are your thoughts?

Joe Morgan: When I was in Boston a couple of weeks ago, I said Derek Jeter was 1 and Big Papi was 1A and Dye was the other candidate. The other two guys are in heightened situations, but I think Dye is the most consistent producer from Day 1. Remember for a while, Big Papi was only hitting .250-.260. But Dye has been consistent, but he was overshadowed by Thome for a while.

KT: Your AL leaders in VORP, up to the minute:

Hafner 76.7
Manny 62.6
Jeter 61.4
Ortiz 60.9
Dye 59.5

Joe is actually pretty right on with his assessment here. However, he is only right because the Indians stink, and thus Indians are probably not really in the MVP discussion right now. Hafner is the best hitter in baseball, and I seriously doubt that his 15-run lead over Jeter in VORP is made up for by Jeter's mediocre defense. If there were any justice, Hafner gets it, and Jeter's second.

And before you write in and yell at me and call me a Jeter hater -- which I am on a personal level, but which does not impair my ability to evaluate him statistically, btw -- look at some of these stats and try to tell me Jeter is better than Hafner. I dare you. (Be sure to look at MLV. And if you're old-timey, check out SLG as well.)

Clay : (Savannah, GA): Joe, do you remember a season where 3 players had 30+ game hit streaks?

KT: Fifty bucks says Pete Rose gets a mention here.

Joe Morgan: No, I don't remember any time like that. I was on the time when Pete Rose had his 44-game streak and it was fabulous.

KT: You all owe me $50.

kevin cali: Who is the best man to call a baseball game, if you had to pick one? (It's a shame that baseball fan ouside of LA cannot listen to Vin S. everyday, he is the best.)

Joe Morgan: Well, I don't think you're alone. I think a lot of people think Vin's the best, maybe ever. He used to do national broadcasts on TV. But I think he's better on radio than on TV.

KT: Somewhere, Jon Miller is crying.

David (Chicago): Joe, How good do you think Josh Barfield can be? He has surpassed most expectations this year.

Joe Morgan: I haven't seen him play much. We've only done one Padre game. We're going to do one next week in San Francisco. But I've noticed that he has nice reactions and he looked like a good player. I agree, he has surpassed the expectations. I talked to him and he has a good attitude.

KT: Add the Padres to the list of, I'd say, 25 MLB teams that professional baseball-watcher Joe Morgan has not seen play enough to comment on their players. Unless you play for the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, Mets, or White Sox, Joe will plead ignorance when asked about your rosters. To wit:

Brent (Bakersfield, CA): Do you think Barry Bonds can stay hot for the rest of the season if hegets an off day here and there? Will the Giants pitching hold up to make a run at the Wild Card?

Joe Morgan: Well, I live in the Bay area, so I get to see a lot and read a lot on the Giants.

KT: I live in the Bay Area, so I get to see a lot and read a lot on the Giants. I finally understand this problem. Joe, despite being a nationally-televised broadcaster, does not realize that we are living in an era where people in any part of the country -- nay, verily, the world! -- can access information about events that occur in other parts of the country or world. Someone needs to alert Joe immediately that he can learn about the Padres without physically being in San Diego, California.

Dan (NYC): Hey Joe, Late last night Hideki Matsui was cleared for BP. If he is able to come back by October, how do you see him fitting into the Yankees lineup? And how much scarier does this make the Yankee offense, considering many of the contenders pitching lack playoff experience?

KT: See if you can follow the möbius strip of knowledge that Joe drops here:

Joe Morgan: First and foremost a guy that sits out that long won't come back and make the same impact. He won't be the same Matsui that we saw last year at this time. We'll have to see what kind of production he can give them. I think right now, they're doing a good job with the players they have. Damon, Abreu are going to play every day. You're not going to get much better with Matsui, you will with Sheffield. I say that because Sheffield can dominate a game and carry you for days at a time.

KT: (1) A guy that sits out for a long time can't come back and dominate. (2) Matsui is one of those guys. (3) Plus, they have reserve outfielders who are doing a good job. (4) And yet, Gary Sheffield -- also injured for a long time, also an outfielder -- will make the team better, because (5) he can dominate.

mitch (mo val, ca): pedro or koufax in their primes?

Joe Morgan: That's a tough question, because you're looking at different eras.

KT: Yes, true. But, we have stats like ERA+ that adjust for those eras. Now, I'm not saying that these stats are perfect, but they give you some indication about who was better relative to the league and era in which he played. And at least by that measure, Pedro is better. Let's take each guy's two best years (arguably, in Koufax's case...)

1999: 245 ERA+, .923 WHIP, 313 K's in 213 IP
2000: 285 ERA+, .737 WHIP, 284 K's in 217 IP

1965: 160 ERA+, .855 WHIP, 382K's in 335 IP
1966: 190 ERA+, .985 WHIP, 317 K's in 323 IP

Now, Koufax did have a better WHIP year -- 1963, when he sliced through the NL at .875. And obviously he threw more innings, but Pedro's K/IP ratio is a lot better. If you go by all-time adjusted PRAA, Koufax's two best years are 64 (1966) and 59 (that amazing 1963 year), and Pedro's are 62 and 56. Gosh, it's darn close. But I would say that Pedro's 2000, with a ridiculous 285 ERA+ and .737 WHIP, is possibly the single best season relative to his league that anyone has ever had. Overall, it is almost a dead heat, all things considered. Let's see what kind of statistical analysis Joe comes up with to compare the two...

Koufax had charisma and power and people liked that. Pedro had some charisma too. I'd probably go with Koufax, but it's a very tough decision, because I like to see them both pitch.

KT: Huh. Okay. I didn't think to run their numbers through the Charisma-Power Index. Or the Liked-By-People Metric. Let me do that fictional and stupid thing, and let's see what we get:

Pedro (career): 288.7761489 glorpulons; VV6*3 Likeability Factor (33[13] power rake J-bones 7)
Koufax (career): 288.7761489 glorpulons; VV6*3 Likeability Factor (33[13] power rake J-bones 7)

A dead heat!!!!!!!!! Unbelievable!!!!!!!!

Sean (Attleboro, Mass.): As a fmr. player, how do you feel about Carl Pavano holding back telling the Yankess about the injury sustained in his car accident?

Joe Morgan: My take is that he was wrong for not telling them. But I understand why he did it, because he was already injured and he didn't want to add more fuel to the fact that he hasn't been able to perform in New York. He was still wrong, you have to stand up and tell them and he didn't do that.

KT: Ladies and gentlemen, the world's only Carl Pavano Apologist.

Mike (Lansdale,PA): I think the Little League World Series is great for the kids, but they need to get the camera's and the mic's out of the kids faces and the dugouts! What do you think?

Joe Morgan: I'll say that I agree with you. I don't want to get any deeper than that, because I work for the people that put the cameras and microphones there.

KT: Ladies and gentlemen, the World's Greatest Company Man!

Chris (St Louis): What should the Cardinals do with Mulder?

Joe Morgan: That's a very good question and it's also a very difficult question for me, because I'm not there to see how he's throwing and his mental state.

KT: Jesus Christ on a popsicle stick, will someone please get Joe a St. Louis newspaper so he can evaluate these players?! How do you expect him to talk about the St. Louis Cardinals?! He's in Pennsylvania for God's sake! What, is he supposed to like, get a pair of super binoculars so he can see all the way to St. Louis?! You are asking too much of this poor man!!!!

But I do know this that Tony La Russa will make the right decision.

KT: Oh. Never mind. It won't matter. He's an idiot.

Dave (Florida): Todays pitchers are supposed to be stronger than pitchers 25-30 years ago, but in your day they threw 20-25 complete games a year. Now a days pitchers cant even get into double digits, why did that change?

Joe Morgan: Well, it changed because we started babying pitchers. By that I mean that we didn't force them to finish what they started. Things are more specialized. Gibson, Koufax went out there to win. Now I see headlines where a guy goes five and gets the win.

KT: You see headlines? You have never seen this happen in person? I used to joke about this, but I seriously doubt if Joe watches a single baseball game other than the ones he broadcasts.

Mike (Milwaukee): Joe, As a hall of fame 2nd baseman I was wondering your thoughts on Rickie Weeks and his future in the League?

Joe Morgan: I haven't had much of a chance to check him out, but I have heard some good things.

KT: He has HEARD SOME GOOD THINGS about Rickie Weeks. This is getting serious. He has definitely never watched a baseball game other than the ones he has broadcast. Is anyone else reading this?!

But I like to see a player myself before I say what he's going to do.

KT: Don't yell at the chatters for asking you your opinions on players, you dolt. You are supposed to know things about players. Don't you dare get snippy and say that you like to see people before you give an opinion. WE HAVE ALL SEEN THE PLAYERS. WE WATCH BASEBALL GAMES. YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING BASEBALL GAMES TOO, BECAUSE YOU ARE A BASEBALL ANNOUNCER.

Justin FJM (Denville, NJ): Hi Joe - What do you think is the most important aspect of being a leadoff hitter? Steals? On-base percentage? Something else?

KT: A special shout-out to loyal reader Justin, who managed to work FJM into the text of a JoeChat. Nicely done. Let me just add a word of caution here, though -- and this is not directed at Justin, per se -- that we do not want to get into a situation where loyal FJM readers start like disrupting the chats or anything with "Stern Rules"-style interruptions. It will only be fun for us to keep reading and dissecting these things if they are allowed to run unabated. Asking questions is fine -- as I did a while back, perhaps recklessly -- and little hidden shout-outs are much appreciated. But let's not go all crazy now that Justin has broken the ice. Deal? Awesome. Now, to the answer:

Joe Morgan: I think the most important thing is having a leadoff hitters mentality.


By that, I mean is at the start of the game, taking some pitches so your teammates can see how the guy is throwing. You need that mentality.

KT: I'd call that a "skill," but okay.

Rickey Henderson was perfect for that. The second part is making things happen from that position. Rickey made things happen when he was on base, Reyes does too. Then, it's getting on base.

So, in order of importance, it goes: (1) Having a mentality. (2) Doing things when you're on base. (3) Getting on base. Who else besides ol' Kenny T. sees a problem with the order of (2) and (3)?

Joe Morgan: I enjoyed the questions this week and I look forward to talking to you next Tuesday.

KT: Stern Rules!!!!!!!!

Labels: ,

posted by Unknown  # 6:08 PM
One of our annoyingly astute readers, Adam, wrote in with this annoyingly correct comment:

"Hafner is the best hitter in baseball, and I seriously doubt that his 15-run lead over Jeter in VORP is made up for by Jeter's mediocre defense. If there were any justice, Hafner gets it, and Jeter's second."

You are incorrect here. Players who play in the field are usually judged by their defense above the average -- BP calls this fielding runs above average. But if you don't play defense, you don't even get to accumulate ANY defensive runs. That is, you're not an "average" defender because you don't play; you're below replacement level because you don't play. Hafner has -1 fielding runs above replacement, while Jeter doesn't really have to be particularly good to gain those 15 runs back -- he could play a below-average defense, but he's still accumulating defense above replacement level (since replacement level is horrible defense). In this instance, Jeter is actually good defensively -- 25 runs above replacement so far this year. That gives him a 26-run advantage in defense over Hafner, more than enough to make up for the hitting.

He is absolutely right. I don't know exactly what happened, but I believe that when I checked BP's DT Card for Jeter, I saw his FRAA of 1 and thought I was looking at FRAR -- not crazy, since he had a FRAR of zero in 119 games in 2003. (The site has adjusted Jeter's totals after yesterday -- his FRAA is now -1, adjusted for all-time. Which reminds me -- how flukey is that 17 he put up last year? What the hell is that? It makes me very suspicious of the whole metric, that he can be solidly negative his entire career and then one year suddenly add a win and a half through defense?! My guess is, it was Wang's power sinker forcing easy grounder after easy grounder to be tapped right to him. But I digress.)

Anyway, Adam is totally right, although Hafner is at 10.0 WARP3 and Jeter at 10.1, so even with a slightly negative defensive component, Hafner is almost exactly as valuable as Jeter. By the end of the year, I expect Hafner to pass him.

Some people wrote in to add Carlos Guillen's name into the mix, though Jeter is way ahead in WARP3, 10.1 to like 7.3 or something. Jeter also has a higher EqA, .315 to .307. Jeter's better. And you know how much it pains me to say that. Although, I would like to amend my comment about Hafner getting it "if there were any justice," and say that the catcher in Minnesota, with the .927 OPS and 9.4 WARP3 and .321 EqA is a better choice than Jeter. I was riled up about Joe and laid my eggs in the Hafner backet, partly because he is fast becoming one of the truly great hitters of all time, and no one is paying attention. But for MVP, assuming the Twinkies make the playoffs, I would go Mauer 1 and Jeter 1A.

Got a bunch of very thoughtful comments about the Pedro-Koufax section, including this one from Matthew, which has a good (I believe) discussion of what exactly IP means in the comparison:

I think Koufax is better, although not by much. If someone says it's a dead heat, I don't really have a problem with that. But anyway...

Koufax threw 320+ innings in his last 2 seasons. Other pitchers threw a lot more then, too, but only 3 threw more than 300 innings in those 2 years.

The ERA+ argument with Pedro is not really helpful, either.

The problem is that you can say that Pedro did a 250 ERA+ or whatever in 210 innings, but Koufax did that, too. Plus he did another 110 innings of 110 ERA+, which adds extra value.

Pedro's best ERA+ was 285 in 217 innings.

Sandy Koufax's best ERA+ was 190 (in 323 innings).

Now a 285 ERA+ in 1966 context would equate to a 1.15 ERA.

And Koufax did exactly that, for 217 innings! For the other 106 innings he pitched that year, he was merely above average -- 2.89 ERA (league ERA, 3.28).

It may seem like a too quick-and-dirty way of analysis, but Koufax was as valuable as Pedro in 1999-200 PLUS 100 innings of a good reliever or an Andy Pettitte-level pitcher.

Another way to think of it is this:
Would it be better for Pedro to miss the first two months of the season because he is not 100 percent and you KNOW he'd have a 285 ERA+ for 217 innings that year, or would it be better to have him pitch at less than 100 percent, but still effectively (113 ERA+) for two months, and THEN have exactly the same last four months (285 ERA+ for 217 innings)?

Plus, there are twice as many sh*tty pitchers making a living in the 1990s/2000s, thereby widening the gap between best and worse, separating the good pitchers even more from the floor.

Do you really think it would be more likely that Koufax could put up mind-bending ratios-in-comparison to the league, when the league comprises 50 pitchers like Julian Tavarez accumulating 20 percent of the innings, while squeezing by at 200 innings a year; or that Pedro could stretch out and dominate a league where he'd have to face Juan Marichal and Bob Gibson 10 times a year and pitch 25 complete games?

But back to the ERA+ argument -- I don't think you can just look at ERA+ and say, ok, Pedro's is higher, he's better (which, by the way, I am NOT accusing you of doing). And this is because it's different that OPS+ in that there is a floor ( i.e., 0.00 era) which is physiologically impossible to attain. And so when Pedro has a "better" ERA+ than Koufax, it's not necessarily because he's better. Because of the floor, the lower your era, the harder it is to increase your ERA+.

Expounding, it's important to note that the ERA floor, while theoretically 0.00, just can't be expected to be zero. Guys play poor defense that isn't charged an error. Vlad takes a ball about to hit the ground and slams a solo shot. Etc. and so on. Bob Gibson's 1.12 doesn't match Pedro's best seasons (as far as ERA+). How much lower could Gibson really be expected to go? I'm sure with a good break or two, maybe it's .99 or something, but he was already rubbing against the floor.

That's the problem.

To me, I guess it comes down to the fact that Koufax could give you a Pedro-like performance for 2/3 of his season and then a pretty darn good performance for an extra 100 innings. The postseason favors Koufax as well. The arguments for Pedro, however, are that he pitched in tougher ballparks, off a lower mound, and faced the DH for most of his career (and certainly in his prime). So yeah, calling it a dead heat is fine, but I put a lot of value in IP, so I give the edge to Koufax.

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