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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Thursday, September 13, 2007


Born to Chat

Ignoring a nationwide call for a goofiness cease-fire, Joe Morgan has decided to hold another chat.

Alfonso (Boston):
Hello Joe. How much does Manny Ramirez's defense hurt the team? Would they be better off trading him in the offseason so Jacoby Ellsbury could play everyday.

Joe Morgan: It seems like when we bring young people up at the end of the year and they get off to a good start, people tend to believe they will play that way for an entire season. You know what you get with Ramirez, a great hitter. And Manny's defense does not hurt them as much as his offense helps them. It is hard to replace players that drive in runs the way Manny does.

Ken Tremendous: Joe's not entirely wrong here. I have resisted drinking the Ellsbury Kool-Aid -- although it looks effing delicious -- due to his less-sugary minor league numbers and the fact that historically there is zero correlation between a player's first 40 MLB at bats and his career statistics. (See Pedroia, Dustin.) However. It should be noted that Manny is currently having his worst offensive year since 1994; that he is on the wrong side of 35; that he costs 20m a year; and that while his defense does not quite completely wipe out his offensive contributions, it sure takes the sheen off 'em.

I don't know what the point of all of this is, except that just saying "Manny's a great hitter" isn't quite good enough to pass muster anymore. On a side note, isn't it crazy how little anyone has talked about Barry Bonds since he hit 756? Does he even play baseball anymore?

Frederick (Jackson, Mississippi):
Who is more clutch? Gary Sheffield or David Ortiz?

Joe Morgan: That is a difficult question because --

KT: -- I'll finish your thought here, Joe. It is difficult because "clutch hitting" is not an ability, per se, but a random correlation of very few data points whose importance is enhanced by the human inclination to remember the extraordinary and not the mundane. That's what you were about to say, right?

-- both have done a great job in tight situations, but Ortiz has proven to be the best big-game hitter in baseball. I think he has risen to the occasion more than anyone else. I would have to choose Ortiz at this point over anyone else in the game.

KT: Oh. Okay. Well, that's another way to go.

I say this a day after Ortiz hit a walk-off 2-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to beat the DRays (an .840 WPA, for those of you who love WPA): most evidence seems to suggest that there is no such thing as "clutch hitting ability." There is "clutch hitting". There is the abstract concept of "ability." But there is no "clutch hitting" skill you can learn, in the way that you learn how to hit for power, or control the strike zone, or throw a slider two inches off the black to induce a groundout. Sorry. Take it up with people who are smarter than I am.

Quick example: I was just now poking around the FoxSports site, and I found this in an old Ken Rosenthal column:
While center fielder Carlos Beltran is probably the Mets' best offensive player, the most important might be left fielder Moises Alou. "He's one of the very best clutch hitters in our game," one rival executive says. "He doesn't care about the situation or who is on the mound. If he gets his pitch, he'll beat you." Alou's career numbers with runners in scoring position: .307 BA, .391 OBP, .513 SLG.
One of the best "clutch hitters" in the game -- .307/.391/.513 with RISP! That's clutch. Except that career, overall, he is: .302/.369/.517. That's basically the same. In fact, it might be the case that he is simply a better walker with men on base. And his SLG is actually lower with RISP.

Enough of that. Let's get to some classic Joe comedy, courtesy of his last sentence:

But Sheffield is one of the best offensive players in the history of the game.

Again, he's not wrong, I guess. Gary is tied for 49th all-time in OPS+. I just like it when Joe gets all hot and bothered about Gary Sheffield.

George (Boston, MA): The White Sox are bringing back essentially the same team next year, and now they'll have the same manager too. Meanwhile they've pretty much mailed it in on this season over the past several months. If nothing changes, what's the chances that they'll play any different next year? Thanks.

Joe Morgan: That is a decision that Ken Williams hgad to make. It was amazing to me that their offesne went dormant to start the year, and then a lack of pitching followed. They are counting on Contreras to rebound, and for Dye, Thome, Konerko to turn it around. What I see them doing is bringing this team back because they have so much money invested in these players. I think they are going to see how the first half of next year's season plays out and then react accordingly to how the team plays.

KT: They're going to see how the team plays, and then react accordingly to how the team has played. This innovative strategy of baseball management is called: "Baseball Management." The White Sox invented it.

John (Chicago, IL): Joe, who do you think, in your opinion, is going to represent the AL in the World Series this year and why? I like Boston because they have the best run differential in baseball and their pitching top to bottom has been statistically the best all year. What do you think?

KT: Hey kids! New to our site and want to know why we think Joe Morgan should be fired? Check out this fun answer!

Joe Morgan:
Well the run differential means nothing. It is like OPS, it mean nothing in the grander scheme of things. (...)

Run differential "means nothing." The number of runs a team scores, as compared to the number of runs it gives up, means nothing. Nothing at all. It has no bearing on how good a team is. How could it? After all, it is simply a measure of how many runs a team has scored and how many runs the team has given up. What could that possibly tell anyone about anything? I mean, let's look at the teams with the best run differentials in the AL.

New York
LA Angels

The four worst teams in the league!

Look, run differential isn't perfect. Every year, teams have terrible run differentials and make the playoffs. The Padres and Twinkies had no business winning their divisions last year. The Snakes have no business winning this year, based on RD. But in general -- let's just all use common sense, here -- the number of runs a team scores and the number it allows should roughly correlate to how successful that team is. Just as, say, a statistic that combines a player's on-base percentage and his slugging percentage should correlate to how good a fucking hitter he is. Why is that controversial?

BTW: if you guys are super into math and want to read about Poisson distributions and revised exponents in the Pythagorean theorem application to ExWL, go here. (Warning: NSFW!!!!)

Francisco (Jalisco, Mexico): The A's have had a little success in the past, but wouldn't you say that this year proves that Billy Beane's approach simply doesn't work?

KT: Hmmm. Legit question or Joe-Baiter?

Joe Morgan: I do not think you can just take one year and prove it. But I have never thought anyone could reinvent the wheel as far as how the game is played. Once you get on the field, everything that has gone on for 100 years does not change; and that means outscoring your opponent and pitching well.

And since you are more likely to outscore your opponent if you don't do stupid stuff like bunt and hit-and-run and stuff... it seems like you and Billy Beane are on the same page, Joe!

I do not think this one year proves anything, but the As playoff failures over the years demonstrate that you cannot win it all under that approach.

A. What approach?
B. Four division titles in seven years.
C. The A's playoff failures do not demonstrate anything except that once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen. Anything. The Reds swept the A's in 1990 despite the A's being hugely favored. Billy Beane had nothing to do with that. Kirk Gibson hit a home run off Eck. Dan Gladden hit a grand slam. Ozzie Smith and Scott Podsednik won games with HR. The A's have a payroll of just under eleven thousand dollars every year, and given that, are far more competitive than they should be. Because of the way they put their team together. How can anyone dispute this?

This year just proves that they lost a lot of good players over the past few years and it has finally caught up to them. But I think they have been reevaluating their approach. At one point they only wanted to draft college players, but this past draft they have drafted some high school players, and I think that is a good approach.

KT: They didn't only want to draft college players. They looked at some motherhumping data and concluded that college pitchers tended to be better bets to succeed than high school pitchers, so they erred on the side of drafting college pitchers.

You didn't read the book. You hate the book. You think Billy Beane wrote the book. Shut up about the book unless you man-up and read it, you dummy.

Andrew (Hoboken, NJ): Hi Joe - Always a pleasure reading these chats. I was wondering what you thought about Robinson Cano's future development? He has shown he can put up some great power/rbi numbers for a second baseman.

Joe Morgan: He is one of the guys that since the first time I saw him play I knew he was a great player. I do not see him everyday, but for him to be a superstar he needs to keep a high level of concetration, and some people seem to think he does not always concetrate as much as he should.

KT: dak yelled at me for being too priggish in my assault on Mike Pagliarulo's grammar and syntax. But I have a for-reals question: does Joe think the word is "concetrate?"

Eric (NYC): It seems like there aren't any more "great" teams out there this year, just a lot of mediocrity. In your opinion, what was the last truly great team?

KT: Definitely a Joe-Baiter, I think. "There are no more great teams" is one of Joe's go-to nonsenses. Along with "Gary Sheffield is great," "They need to be consistent." "I am on the Hall of Fame Committee so I don't like to talk about who should and should not get into the Hall of Fame," and "Dave Concepcion should definitely be in the Hall of Fame."

Joe Morgan:
It did not just start this year, it has been this way for a bit. A lot of good teams out there, but not many great teams. An great team has no weaknesses. All teams these days have weakensses, most of the time it is starting pitching. The last great teams I think were the Yankee teams that won all those titles. I think Boston, when they won the title were clsoe to beaing great. But I do not see any teams out there right now who I would call complete. The Yankees look great at times, but then they hit these big loosing streaks and that is not what great teams do. So I agree with you that there are not any great teams out there.

KT: Wonderful. A Gettysburg Address for a new generation. Bumbling, ramble-y, riddled with typos (sorry, dak), fact-less, nonsensical, exclusionary (didn't the 2002 Oakland A's win 103 games with some pretty good starting pitching?), halting, and bafflingly choppy. Well done, all-around.

Jerry (Red Bud, IL):
Are the Cards officially out of it? Will this weekend's series with the Cubs only give them the ability to play spoiler?

Joe Morgan: I do not think anyone is out of it.

KT: Hear that, Astros?

And they are in a position where they have to sweep the Cubs, and Milwaukee has not been consistent, so if they can sweep the Cubs who knows what can happen.

The first "consistent" in the whole chat. He's improving.

The Cards have hot a rough spot but it is still not impossible. But going back to Yogi, you just never know.

All of Joe's answers could be pictorially represented by a picture of himself shrugging with the caption, "Who can tell?"

Joe Morgan:
Yesterday I was asked if A-Rod hits 62 home runs would he be considered, in my mind, the legitimate HR season record holder, because he would have done it without any suspicion of steroid use. My answer would be no. It is what it is, and those number that were put up by Bonds and McGwire are there. There has not been any proof about what these guys did, only speculation. So until there is proof I cannot take those numbers away from those guys.

KT: Grand jury testimony, delivered under oath, does not count as proof. Our judicial system has been upended.

Great chat today. I really enjoyed your questions. I am looking forward to next week, when maybe we can discuss this A-Rod question then.

KT: Why not discuss it now? You're already chatting now, why not--





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posted by Unknown  # 5:04 PM
I can't believe I didn't think of this, but Eric did:

A big part of Alou's higher OBP with RISP is intentional walks. Once you factor out those plate appearances, that .391 drops to .370 (against an adjusted career number of .361). However, Alou does have a much higher RBI rate with runners on base...

Also, Ron points out that I really meant "human" where I wrote "humanistic," so mea culpa, and thanks to Ron for holding me to the same standards to which I hold everyone else in the universe.
Daniel chimes in:

Alou's stats this year (sample size issues of course, since the man can no longer physically play a full season):


His stats this year with RISP?

RISP 2 out?

And the ever popular "Close and Late"

Despite a .313 EqA, his WPA for 2007 is an astounding -0.92 thanks to a recurring theme of double play balls served up in pretty much any situation with multiple runners on base. So what has happened to his clutchness in the 260 at bats he's had this year?

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