Fremulon has given me the day off to get an early start on the long weekend. Mrs. Tremendous and I will be heading to Branson, MO for some much needed R&R, so I may not post much over the weekend. (Or maybe I will get bored and post a ton. That's the thing with Branson. You just never know what you're going to get. Except when it comes to this guy, who is always gold.)
As a parting gift, take a look at this neat little binary star of idiocy, sent to us from a reader named Michael. There is such simplicity in this. It warms my heart.
Joe Morgan: I was in Cincinnati on Saturday for Davey Concepcion's retired number ceremony, and other memebers of the Big Red Machine were there, and it was a great event. And Davey deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
Ken Tremendous: Huh.
.267/.322/.357 OPS+: 88 EqA+: .256 WARP3: 108.4
And that WARP was basically all fielding. So if you believe he should be in the Hall, it's as a fielding SS. And Ozzie Smith's WARP3 was 138.5. And Ozzie's EqA was .263. Zack (Ohio): Joe, you've always been a fan of great starting pitching. How does the combo of CC, Carmona, and Westbrook match up come playoff time?
KT: I like the implication that: thinking starting pitching is important might be unique to Joe among baseball analysts. You know what I think is important in sprinting? Leg muscles.
Joe Morgan: Well they matchup well, but they need to make the playoffs first. But any team would hate to face them in a short series. That is one of the top starting rotations. In a short series those three guys would be hard to beat.
KT: With whom are they matching up? Sabathia has given up 17 runs in 25 IP against Detroit this year. Carmona got knocked around a bit by New York. Boston and New York both handled Westbrook pretty easily. Now, these are all small sample sizes, but you can't just say that someone "matches up" well without his matching-up partner. Or can you?!?!? No, you can't.
Andy (Tampa): Albert Pujols has been red hot lately. If the Cardinals do win the division could he make a late push for MVP?
Joe Morgan: Yes, because he is the reason that they were able to stay in the race all year long.
KT: They are 64-64. The only reason they could stay in the race all year long is that their division is horrifyingly bad. And for the record, they were not "in the race all year." The Brewers were destroying them, and have fallen back to the pack.
Without his bat they would have fallen out of the race, and he has been the leader of this comeback.
They did fall out of the race. Then everyone else fell too, drawing them back into the race passively. It's hilarious to me that the "MVPs should come from winning teams!" boneheadedness could give Albert the MVP for being on a team that plays basically .500, and not like Magglio if the Tigers go 92-70 and miss the playoffs by a game.
Brent Seaborn (New York, NY): Hi Joe! What should the Yankees do about Mike Mussina? Do you think he's finished?
Joe Morgan: I was surprised that they gave him a three years extension;
he had not perfomred down the stretch these past few years.
KT: Mike Mussina, September stats, 2004-2006
6-3, 2.78 ERA, .245 BAA. 71/14 K/BB ratio in 77 innings.
It is a very hard to tell when a guy is finished, especially coming from the outside. I cannot say that he is finished, but I was shocked that they gave him a three year contract,
and I do not think he can be a dominant pitcher anymore. But he can still win games, and that is what they are counting on.
KT: Actually, it seems that he cannot win games, and that that is what they are counting on, by promoting Ian Kennedy. So other than everything in your entire answer, you are right on the money. Jack (Rancho Cucamonga, CA): Now that the always consistent Gary Sheffield is on the DL, do the Tigers -- even if they play the game the right way -- have a chance to make the playoffs? Or is it too early to tell?
Joe Morgan: Well he will be gone for two weeks I guess, but if he can comeback, they are as good as any team in the league. But without him, they drop down to fourth or fifth in the league.
KT: We have documented before how much Joe has a crush on Gary Sheffield, but this is insane. This is Charles Foster Kane trying to make Susan Alexander an opera star. Gary Sheffield has an .878 OPS in 114 games this year. That is good for fourth on his own team, behind Magglio (your AL MVP or -Runner-Up), Granderson, and Guillen. Polanco is right behind.
So, you are telling me, that with Gary Sheffield, the Tigers are essentially the best team in baseball, but without him, they are fourth- or fifth-best. Not Justin Verlander. Not Magglio. Sheffield, and his 6.5 WARP3, is the difference between being the best team and the fifth-best. Not Granderson, and his 11.6 WARP3. Not Placido, and his 9.4 WARP3. It's Sheff.
Sheff is an excellent hitter. But saying he makes the fifth-best team become the best team is like saying that Baskin Robbins would be nothing without Gold Medal Ribbon.
The problem is not only missing Sheffield but their pitching has not pitched to their capabilities.
Ah. So it's not just Sheffield. Thanks for clarifying. You should go back and edit that silly part where you talked about how Sheffield-- oops. You're moving on.
Todd (Philly): If you could compare Dave Concepcion's playing style to a current player, who would that be?
KT: Enough. For God's sake, the guy retired years ago. He was an excellent defensive SS. Why do we spend so much time on this?
Joe Morgan: The difference is that if Davey played today, he would have an easier time hitting home runs, so his numbers would be better and he was a great defensive short stop.
KT: Everyone would "have an easier time hitting HR" today, theoretically. The guy's OPS+ was 88. Relative to his peers, he was a sub-par offensive player. If he were playing now, relative to his peers, he would be a sub-par offensive player. He has like 101 career HR. Do you think he'd have been Cal Ripken if he played from '82-'02 or something?
So it is very hard to tell, he has a bit of Tejada (of course Tejada hits more, but like I said that may be a product of the era in which he plays) and Jeter in him,
No. Sorry. No. There was no Miguel Tejada in Davey Concepcion. Tejada has had 8 straight years of OPS+ over 112. Davey's career high was 116. Tejada's career slugging % is 120 points higher. And Jeter is even better, in this regard -- 12 straight over 100, 10 straight over 113, touching 160. This is not a product of the era in which these men play, except that they are stronger and better hitters.
but he was better defensively than either one.
True. Triply true in re: Jeter.
And that's what makes him a HOF, is that he is different from everyone else.
"Different?" That's a HOF criterion? This guy was a sometime-catcher who was left-handed. Maybe he should be in.
Make no mistake about it, players like Bench and Concepcion's numbers would be much better in these small parks and with the livelier balls.
Possibly. So how 'bout we just judge them relative to their peers? Oh -- already did. Bench: in. Davey: out. Great, but out.
(Side note: if anyone out there wants to bash McGwire for being one-dimensional, please don't support Concepcion. It will be embarrassing for everyone. Thank you for your time.)
Matt: Do you think the Tigers have a good shot to make the postseason with getting pitching back and starting to hit better than before? They are only back 2.5 games of Cleveland in the Central and soon to be 3 back of the Mariners in the Wild Card after tonight. They still have a series against the Mariners on Sep. 7-9. Will they catch and/or pass the Mariners to make win the Wild Card?
KT: This is a lot of specific information, which begs a specific argument for or against a specific team's chances to accomplish a specific goal. I smell trouble.
Joe Morgan: Well I think everyone has a chance right now, with the Wild Card. We are in a situation where there are a lot of teams that have a chance. Just look at what the Cardinals did last season. They almost did not make the playoffs, and yet they won the World Series, so if a team gets hot at the right moment anything can happen.
KT: No mention of: the Tigers' pitching, the Tigers' hitting, the Tigers' deficit in the Central, the Tigers' deficit in the WC, the Tigers' chances against the WC leaders, the Mariners, or the Tigers. A clean sweep. Of vagueness.
Otto (CA): Joe, do you think the A's will ever get some guys that know how to manufacture runs by advancing the baserunner, bunting and stealing a base or two? It's frustrating watching this team as it is dead last in the AL West in runs.
KT: Buckle up. Joe + A's Questions usually = yikes.
Joe Morgan: Well they are built on walking and hitting home runs, and they have not been doing that a lot this year. That is their philosophy, as far as walks and home runs.
A. This is old information. They are actually built on pitching and (to a certain extent) defense. They have been in the top 4 in ERA each of the last 4 years. I fear you are sort of discussing Moneyball, when we all know you haven't read, nor do you understand, nor do you want to understand, nor do you know who wrote, Moneyball.
B. Let's just also give that 2-step comment another looksee real quick. "Well they are built on walking and hitting home runs, and they have not been doing that a lot this year. That is their philosophy, as far as walks and home runs." Does that make sense to you? They are built on walks and home runs. That is their philosophy, as far as walks and home runs. Is that American English? During the regular season there are so many weak pitching staffs that you can at times get away with looking for walks and trying to hit home runs, but once you enter the playoffs that is not the case.
This argument, the most oft-heard anti-"Moneyball" argument, is goofy. (I put quotes around "Moneyball" because it is not the case that Moneyball is about how teams should walk more and hit HR. It is about finding undervalued skills in the competitive marketplace of baseball team roster management and using them to compete against teams with higher payrolls, and at the time it was written, the A's happened to feel that OBP was undervalued, so they were adding guys like Scott Hatteberg whose primary skill was plate discipline. &c.)
Perhaps you do not walk as much in a short series against a better pitching staff, and perhaps you might not hit as many HR in a short series against a better pitching staff than is league-average. But building your teams around guys who walk a lot and have power (as opposed, theoretically, to players who don't walk a lot and have speed, or something) doesn't mean you are going into the playoffs hoping to just draw walks. It means that you have hired players with good plate discipline who can take pitches and be patient and wear down those good starting pitchers in order to knock them out of games earlier. The 2005 ChiSox buzzed through the Angels (.325 team OBP) and the Astros (.322 team OBP) with every ChiSox pitcher seemingly throwing complete games, in large part because those two teams are notoriously impatient at the plate. (They also buzzed the Red Sox in the ALDS, thanks to decent pitching, but also to 14 runs off Matt Clement and a bunch of scrubs in Game 1 and the resultant momentum.)
Anyway, it's just extremely short-sighted to say that teams that walk a lot and hit HR are "in trouble" in the playoffs -- for many reasons. Like that it neglects to mention what the pitchers are like. And it assumes that the only way for these teams to score is to draw walks with the bases loaded or something.
Am I still typing? Why? He can't hear me. That is why they have struggled in the post season. They may win the division with that philosophy, form time to time, but they will never win a World Series like that.
A ridiculous statement. Insane. Ignorant. The 2006 Cardinals won the World Series with no hitting and no pitching, and 83 regular season wins. If they can do it, any team can do it, in any season, with any level of talent. In a short series, the Royals can beat the Yankees in four straight. The DRays can smother the Mets. The U.S. hockey team can beat the Russians. Jay Mohr can be funnier than Jerry Seinfeld. Anything can happen. Except Mohr over Seinfeld. Mitch (Hartford, CT): Glad to hear you're a Concepcion HOF supporter Joe.
KT: I said: enough!!!
How do you see the NL Central shaping up?
Joe Morgan: Like everyone else, I have no idea who will win. it is unbeleivable that the Brewers after playing so well are now playing so poorly...
KT: It is? It's "unbelievable?" That has never happened before? A team has never gotten off to a hot start and then faded when the laws of their averages have caught up to them?
Jim (MA): Joe, it doesn't look like any team will win 100 games this season (maybe the Red Sox), do you think that is good for baseball?
Joe Morgan: Well it depends on how you look at it. We have parity now, and some people think that is mediocrity.
KT: "Some people" = you. Sack up and own it.
You always want a star team to lead the pack, because that makes other teams raise their play.
Or, it leads to boring dynasties that cause fans of smaller market teams to lose interest in the sport.
I think there are so many teams now that are just average. Good teams have consistency and you are just not seeing that this much this year, just look at the Yankees.
I guess it was too much to ask to get through an entire chat without Joe using the word "consistency."
Liz (Miami): Hi Joe, I've been a Marlins fan since their inauguration, I was wondering if you had an opinion on the way this organization has been run, both currently and in the past. Thanks.
KT: Dear Liz:
No, he does not have such an opinion. He knows nothing about the Marlins.
Joe Morgan: In the past they went out to win and they did and then they would dismantle the team. Now they are trying to build a lasting foundation. I actually think they are pretty good. I have not seen too much of them, but I think they have a pretty good idea of what they are doing, I talked to Tony Perez about it this weekend. Tony thought they had some good players are taking the right approach and I agree with him.
Russ (Vancouver): Is seattle legit? I can't say that the rotation (behind felix) scares me much. Washburn, Batista, Weaver? Will that be enough to make the playoffs?
KT: Dear Russ,
He doesn't know anything about the Mariners either. He is going to make a lot of vague gestures towards the idea of pitching and then bail. Just warning you.
Joe Morgan: Well we are back to the same point of, who does have a great roatation? If all the rotations are equal then we have to look at trhe offense. Is their offense good enough to win? And I think it is.
I hate to be "this guy," but I told you so.
P.S. "All the rotations" in baseball are "equal?" Really?
Joe Morgan: As I have tried to point out, starting pitching is stil the most important part of pitching,
KT: Why don't people understand that starting pitching is the most important pitching? Here -- here's another way to put it that you might understand. You know "The Bourne Ultimatum?" Okay, well, "The Bourne Ultimatum" was the best part of "The Bourne Ultimatum." Now do you get it?
it's what wins you games down the stretch. Just look at the next 30 games, and it will be starting pitching that will be the key to getting teams into the playoffs.
Brilliant. Incisive. Whimsical, but not irritating. Imaginative. Unique. Joe.
They also buzzed the Red Sox in the ALDS, thanks to decent pitching, but also to 14 runs off Matt Clement and a bunch of scrubs in Game 1 and the resultant momentum.
the words "to the extent to which you believe in that sort of thing, which I'm not sure that in the case of you, Ken Tremendous, is very much."
2. It appears that Jack from Rancho Cucamonga ("Now that the always consistent Gary Sheffield is on the DL, do the Tigers -- even if they play the game the right way -- have a chance to make the playoffs? Or is it too early to tell?") is something of a Joe baiter, what with his mentions of
a) Sheffield b) the word "consistent" c) "play the game the right way"
and the way he gives Joe an out to ride the fence.
3. HatGuy sez: Sweet Gold Medal Ribbon ref! Get it? "Sweet"!
I believe in actual momentum; that is: in a short series, scoring 14 runs in Game One forced the BoSox to blow a bunch of bullpen innings early, which was rough because they had only a couple of 68 year-olds (Wells and Wake) to throw in 2 and 3.
Reader Robert writes in with a sentient echoed by many like-minded individuals:
Here’s the thing that annoyed me most about this week’s chat: Morgan has spent years deflecting any question about someone’s chances of election to the Hall by saying that as Vice Chairman of the Board of the Hall of Fame, he shouldn’t comment on whether he thinks someone should be in or not. (Examples: 7/14/07 JoeChat, 4/19/06 JoeChat.) And yet here he is, actively stumping for Dave Concepcion – naturally, a friend and former teammate – to be elected to the Hall of Fame. It’s not that I’m surprised – Joe apparently thinks everyone on the Big Red Machine should be in the Hall, up to and including Ed Armbrister – but wow. Just when you thought this guy couldn’t sink any lower.
Still using wins to judge a pitcher? I thought we'd moved out of the Dark Ages. Beckett has received almost 7 runs per game of support, whereas guys like Haren ( 5.44), Santana (5.24), and Bedard (4.60) have all received considerably less. Or are they supposed to will their teams to play better with their magical clutchness and playing of the game the right way like Beckett does? Also, VORP (one of those spooky, newfangled computer stats) has Kelvim Escobar first, followed by Santana, Bedard and Haren. Beckett is a distant seventh. --Rob, Southington, Conn.
There goes that VORP again. When the standings are determined by VORP, I think I will take it more seriously. But as you know, they still go by wins and losses. Like I said, I am an admirer of Bedard's. I had him second. Why don't you send your insults to Jim Leyland, who didn't even pick him for the All-Star team?
So Heyman will only use statistics that determine the standings. Of course you realize this eliminates at-bats, hits, walks, strikeouts, stolen bases, doubles, triples, home runs, RBIs, Batting Average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Not that Heyman would use those last two anyway, because, you know, 'on-base percentage?' That could mean anything! Now, win-percentage. Theres a stat I could get behind. Or lose percentage. Another great stat. Why don't these stat geeks program their computers to do that? Huh!?! I gotta sit down...
And from Kevin:
You missed a tasty nugget in Heyman's mailbag. First he says, in re: the AL MVP:
However, I only wanted to mention players I thought had a chance to win the awards. In this rare case, I think only Alex Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez realistically can win, with A-Rod's chances about 95 percent now. In the unlikely event the Yankees and Tigers fall completely out of the race or A-Rod (who incidentally has been terrific in the field and on the basepaths) gets hurt, I might have to re-evaluate. In that case, I'd put Ichiro and Vladimir Guerrero at the top of the next tier.
OK. Ichiro. Fine. But then, in the very next question, re: the AL ROY...
In your list of AL Rookie of the Year candidates you neglected two other Red Sox rookies: Dustin Pedroia and Hideki Okajima. Yes, Dice-K was the big name at the beginning of the season but others are out there also. -- Henry, Homestead, Fla.
I'd still have to go with a front-line starter over a singles-hitting second baseman and a setup man. Matsuzaka had all the expectations and pressure on him, and he delivered in such a way that hardly anyone is questioning the team's financial outlay for him. Pedroia has been superb in his role, and Okajima even better. But I am afraid they are handicapped by their roles.
So....Ichiro, as a singles hitter, is a possible candidate for AL MVP, but Pedroia, a singles hitter, isn't a possible candidate for AL ROY? Huh?
Good point, Kevin. I very much enjoy that both of these reader e-mails include bewildered "Huh?"s as ultimately, the only reasonable response. Heyman has simply rendered some people dumbfounded.
Some numbers: Ichiro has 192 hits on the year, with 30 of them being the extra base variety. Pedroia checks in with 128 hits and 35 XBH. Even though Ichiro's batting an absurd .353, he's only outslugging Pedroia .439 to .438.
Ichiro is a terror on the basepaths and by all accounts a phenomenal fielder. But he is decidedly a singles hitter.
Also, getting back to VORP -- isn't a tiny part of Heyman's grooveless, reptilian brain* flickering just the slightest in response to the fact that a growing percentage of e-mails he receives at his job as a baseball writer refer to some newer baseball statistics? Shouldn't that mean anything to him?
I am convinced that 80% of recalcitrant old baseball men's aversion to VORP and WARP and the like can be attributed to the fact that the acronyms sound sort of dorky. Or specifically, dorpy. If the stats were called something cool, like Thunderbird Number or Obsidian Blade Value, I think more guys would get on board.
Anyway, remember that week in 2006 when Ken Tremendous went to Argentina and made a big deal out of it? I just got back from Brazil and did not make a big deal out of it, mainly because I failed to post anything about deficient baseball commentary or gormless sportswriting while in Brazil. I consider this an enormous failing on my part.
What the VORP? Performing under pressure a big factor in MVP debate
Yeah. It's that sweet an article. Actually, it's a mailbag, and Carolyn from Boca Raton, Florida (beautiful, charismatic, saintly Carolyn) starts us off right:
Regarding your NL MVP candidates, how about those two guys in Florida? Yes, the Marlins are not in playoff contention, but it's hard to ignore Hanley Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera, especially considering they're first and second, respectively, in the NL in VORP, and rank in the top three in Runs Created. It looks like you went through all the playoff-contending teams, and chose a "good" player from each. Let me ask you: If Cabrera were on a playoff-contender this season, would there be any doubt who the MVP was? -- Carolyn, Boca Raton, Fla.
Carolyn makes a lot of good points, and I imagine she lives in a gleaming white Spanish-style home in Boca Raton and rides horses bareback in the springtime. But back to the point: yes, Hanley Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera sit 1-2 in the NL VORP standings (BP subscription req'd), followed very closely by Misters Wright, Jones (Larry, not Andruw), Utley and Pujols. A San Francisco outfielder ranks seventh.
So yes, Carolyn, Cabrera would be a very strong MVP candidate if his team were any good, as would Hanley. As for your accusation that Mr. Heyman only looked at playoff-ish teams --
Actually, you're right. That's exactly what I did, and how I came up with Prince Fielder as my NL MVP leader. His "good'' year is actually more than good, and the Brewers are right in the thick of the playoff race.
Prince is having a terrific year, and he probably actually is the lead dog in the NL MVP race because it's an award voted on by guys exactly like Heyman. Is this just?
Well, he's 10th in the league in VORP, a full 21 points behind both Cabrera and H. Ramirez. He has an excellent EqA (.322 -- lower than Cabrera's, Pujols', Bonds', Utley's, Jones', heck, even Hanley's), and he plays indifferent to bad defense at the easiest position on the diamond. To be honest, I don't think he's all that strong a candidate.
But wait, says Heyman. I have more to say --
While I understand your sentiments, I am more interested in "wins created'' than runs created.
Really. Wins created. What, exactly, is Prince Fielder's wins created on the year? How about Gabe Gross'? His team is in the thick of the playoff race. They have wins -- well, some, anyway. They actually have a losing record. If they were in the AL East, they would be 15 games out. Prince Fielder is also on this team. I wonder if Heyman's considering any Blue Jays or A's for AL MVP? They're neck and neck with the Brew Crew at this point.
Since you totally made up the phrase wins created and it's meaningless, I will say Gabe Gross has 10 WC and Fielder has 68.4. (The rest of the Brewers account for negative wins.)
And the day I consider VORP is the day I get out of the business.
Enthusiasts of sabermetrics often get accused of zealotry. This, my friends, is zealotry of the highest level. Doesn't this sentence sound like some Sinn Fein IRA terrorist shit or something? "The day I break bread with the Protestants, Danny, is the day my bonny Irish heart stops beating." Or something. I don't know anything about Ireland.
The idea of the MVP is to honor the player who has had the biggest positive impact on the pennant races.
This line is perfectly acceptable if it's changed to "Jon Heyman, and Jon Heyman alone's idea of the MVP is to honor the player who has had the biggest positive impact on the pennant races." And a useful disclaimer would be: "Jon Heyman does not acknowledge any leeway for nuance, subtlety, evidence, or critical thinking in the determination of the MVP."
Here's a fun thing: from 1911 to 1914, Hugh Chalmers of the Chalmers Automobile Company handed out a sort of proto-MVP called the Chalmers Award, given to the player who "should prove himself as the most important and useful player to his club and to the league at large in point of deportment and value of services rendered." Sounds a lot like the nebulous BBWAA MVP award, doesn't it?
The 1913 NL Chalmers, the third (and second to last) ever, went to one Jake Daubert of the Brooklyn Superbas. The Superbas' record that year was an underwhelming 65-84, good for a winning percentage of .436.
Today, Miguel Cabrera's and Hanley Ramirez' team, the Florida Marlins, sit at 58-75, for a winning percentage of ... also .436.
Eerie, isn't it? Aren't you glad I'm back from Brazil? I am.
I love when a sportswriter thinks up something like "I am more interested in 'wins created' than runs created" like it's some pithy turn of phrase, seemingly unaware that there are a whole group of statistics (WARPS 1, 2, and 3) which very closely resemble the idea of "wins created."
Hanley Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera lead Prince Fielder in WARP1, WARP2, and WARP3.
I was watching the YES broadcast of the Yanks / Tigers game on Saturday, with Wang pitching. I've heard that Wang is much better from the windup than the stretch, and this seems true based on what I've seen. However, discussing this, Kay and Al Leiter had this exchange (paraphasing):
Kay: "...And when Wang pitches from the windup, his ERA is .53! That's like a high school ERA!" (I don't really understand what this means, but whatever). "His ERA from the stretch, though, is almost 16.00! That difference is 'UGE! So Wang really has trouble pitching from the stretch."
Leiter: (not sure if he was just dodging Kay as much as he could or not) "Yeah, Greg Maddux told me once that you should always warm up from the stretch, since that's how you'll be throwing your most important pitches..."
Then Kay basically repeats how amazing the large difference between Wang's stretch and windup ERAs is.
When nobody is on base, his ERA is small. And when runners are on base, his ERA is high. Wow.
You heard it there first, people. The number of solo homers Chien Ming Wang gives up is smaller than the number of runs scored on him by all other methods combined.
his ERA with runners on base is 8.32, so not anywhere close to 16.00. In fact, Wang might actually be a better pitcher from the stretch than from the windup: with runners on base, Wang has a 1.22 WHIP and has given up only 2 HR in 70 1/3 IP, while with the bases empty, he has a 1.36 WHIP with 5 HR allowed in 89 IP.
I also was curious about whether that statistical disparity (ERA with runners on base vs. not) was typical, and it turns out that it isn't. Johan Santana, for example, has a 5.35 ERA with runners on base vs. 1.57 w/ bases empty. Why the difference between Santana and Wang? Is Santana a better "stretch" pitcher and a worse "windup" pitcher? Of course not. The simple answer is that Wang doesn't give up the long ball -- only 7 (I believe he has the best HRA/IP ratio among AL starters). Santana does (27, most in the AL).
Also, a few people have written in to suggest that perhaps it was Leiter, and not Kay, who made the original comment about High School ERA and so forth. Either way, someone in that booth that night was a dummy.
I can't even comment. Just read it and decide for yourselves. Pay close attention to: the racism, the wrong-ness, and the thoroughly weird last paragraph.
Thanks to Repoz at baseballthinkfactory for the heads-up. (Here's their thread if you want to read some nice comments, like how Andy Rooney can't remember how old he was within like two standard deviations.)
Reader Chris writes in with some updates on our favorite MLB announcers:
In the bottom of the sixth, Hawk and DJ have eclipsed all past displays of ignorance. In regards to the abysmal season the White Sox have been having (and, as a Sox fan, it's been excruciating for me), the two dropped these gems:
DJ: ...Not in the minds of the coaching staff or the front office. Hawk: Well, nobody could see it coming. It's just that simple.
DJ: Nobody knew or could have foreseen the Sox playing the way they have this year. If anybody could have explained it to them earlier in the year [Ozzie] probably would have slapped him in the head and walked away.
DJ:...It's been uncanny, nobody could truly explain it. Nobody foresaw this kind of turnaround.
I will refer Messrs. Hawk and DJ to this post from March, referencing an article that discusses how a computer predicted the ChiSox would go 72-90.
And I would also invite Ozzie Guillen to "slap [the computer] in the head and walk away." Because I would like to see what that looks like.
You guys know how we feel about Juan Pierre. We like him as a dude. We like the way it looks like he's borrowing a giant man's helmet. We like calling him John Peter. And we think he stinks at baseball.
Just for giggles and shits, I plugged the phrase "Juan Pierre" into our Bill Simmons 1980's Movie Reference Software (available at BestBuy), and here's what I got:
"In the world of out machines, Juan Pierre is the WOPR." Not bad for $24.95!
And now, take it away, Jayson Addcox of mlb.com! What is it about the on-base percentage that a player like Juan Pierre -- who leads the Dodgers in at-bats, runs scored, hits, stolen bases, triples and games played -- gets knocked for not having his higher than .350?
So much to digest, so quickly. Let's chuck the grammatical wonkiness out the window and just try to deal with the question at hand: Why does Juan Pierre get knocked for having an on-base percentage below .350? I made a list!
1) Because he's a lead-off hitter. 2) Because he has no power to make up for his lack of OBP. 3) Because he's being paid $45 million by the Dodgers. 4) Because his OBP isn't just a hair below .350 -- it's .324 this year. 5) Because .324 is good enough for 134th out of 171 eligible MLB batters. 6) Because there's a massive conspiracy against Juan Pierre.
By the way, why didn't he just say "gets knocked for not having his higher than .400"? It would have made Pierre look a lot better to anyone who was too lazy to look up his actual OBP.
Of course, Juan Pierre leads the Dodgers in triples, so I'm supposed to let it go, I guess. I'm supposed to forget that he's a lead-off hitter who doesn't walk for a second, and give him credit for leading the team in AB's? Wait -- hold on -- I'm supposed to be giving him credit at all for leading the team in AB's when in the same sentence you're admitting that he can't get on base? Ba-wuh?
He's batted in four different spots in the lineup this season. When he's hitting well, he's in the leadoff or No. 2 slot, but when he's slumping, manager Grady Little hasn't hesitated putting Pierre in the seventh or eighth slot.
I know I'm opening myself up to "you wouldn't know because you never played baseball" criticism here, but is it really so difficult to hit in different spots in the line-up? Does Juan Pierre's head explode when he sees that he's batting in the 7th spot? Is he suddenly going up to the plate and trying to catch the ball in his mouth because he has no idea how to hit 7th?
(Incidentally, I did play baseball, at least when I was young. Played 3rd base for my little league team. My coach encouraged me to play 3rd like a hockey goalie, and ended up earning the nickname "Reggie" that year thanks to late 80's Bruins goalie Rejean Lemelin. What were we talking about again?)
The issue with Pierre is that he doesn't walk. Plain and simple, his OBP suffers because he averages one walk every 21 at-bats. On the season, he has just 24 walks in 510 at-bats, which is the lowest in the Majors. On the flip side, Pierre doesn't strike out often, either. He has struck out just 32 times this season, which is once every 15.9 at-bats, making him the hardest batter to strike out in the Senior Circuit.
In the red corner: walking. Getting on base. Not getting out. Making the pitcher throw at least four pitches to you. Getting to first base so you can do the one thing you do well: steal bases.
In the blue corner: not striking out. In Pierre's case, finding other ways to get out. If you believe us, not really a good thing. Not a bad thing, just not a good thing.
Not striking out isn't "the flip side" of not walking. It's a different goddam coin. A coin that you keep in your pocket when talking about baseball because it's not really relevant, unless you want to talk about the virtues of the coin itself in a vacuum. You know what I mean. (Hopefully. Because I don't.)
Also, those of you who like not-striking-out-ability usually point to things like productive outs and "good things happening when you put the ball into play." Of course, Pierre's a lead-off hitter, so more than any other player in the line-up, he's going to have the lowest percentage of opportunities for "productive outs" anyway. This season, Pierre leads the Dodgers with 147 hits. He is fifth in the NL with 45 multi-hit games, he leads the Majors with 14 sacrifice bunts and he's second in the Majors only to Jose Reyes with 50 stolen bases, and yet his OBP supposedly isn't cutting it.
"Jayson, it's Darryl. Just going over your copy for the latest mlb.com article...No, yeah, it's fine. One thing. Looks like the word 'supposedly' somehow got into the last sentence of paragraph eight...Right...No? You sure?" "He's a disruptive force when's he's on base," Little said. "The other team has to be concerned with him regularly and it disrupts the pitcher. The whole key is for him to get on base and that's what we like."
Write it down, kids: When writing an article in support of Juan Pierre, it's okay to admit that he has a low OBP, as long as you quote the manager of his team saying that the whole key is for him to get on base. A thing, which, you've already pointed out, he does poorly.
Compared to some of the elite leadoff batters in the game, Pierre's .324 on-base percentage is considerably low. Reyes has an OBP of .375, Hanley Ramirez is at .392, Chone Figgins is at .392 and Ichiro is at .396, so the consensus is that a No. 1 or 2 hitter in the lineup needs to have a .350 or higher OBP.
It's a cloudy, muggy Sunday afternoon here in Partridge, KS., getting up to 88 later, and it looks like it might pour any second. Normally, this would be fine with me, as I would just sit in my den and watch baseball for ten hours. Except: today, Fremulon Ins., Inc. has called me into the office.
Emergency restructuring of the pension plans, thanks to ripples sent through our investment portfolio due to the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Booooo-ring. After a couple hours of research, I think to myself I think, "What am I doing working so hard? It's Sunday, for land's sake!" So I open my FJM e-mail, and voila: the perfect distraction. I find a little piece of heaven linked from reader Matthew. It's by a delightfully spry old cooter named Jerry Green, from the Detroit News, who has a bone to pick. Jerry wants to know:
A quick search of the ol' memory banks, and the baseball rules contained therein, will remind us that the points, or "runs," that are granted to the team of a player who hits a home run out of selfishness, egotism, and Ayn Randian self-interest will exactly equal the points his team gets if he goes deep, like, altruistically. So, already a bit confused, let's read on to see what has Jerry's panties in a bunch.
The digital clock over the TV is pushing toward 11 in the p.m., ticking toward bedtime, and on the color screen there goes another shot. Deep, deep, going gone.
I am not usually one to make fun of older people. But in this, the very first paragraph of an article on baseball in the year 2007, Jerry sees fit to specifically mention that his clock is digital, and his television has a "color" screen. When was the last time anyone regularly watched non-color TV? The only reason one might go out of one's way to mention that one's screen is colorized is if, subconsciously, this fact is still kind of a big deal. (And what are you doing watching baseball highlights at 11:00 anyway, Jerry? The Steve Allen Show is on soon.)
"He went yard," shouts the announcer, using for the 15th time in the last 10 minutes ESPN's favorite network-contrived cliché for the old-fashioned home run.
I yawn. Again.
It is the fifth time I have seen this same home run, er, yard shot, in the last 23 minutes.
Too bad Michigan law mandates that you have to keep watching it.
Alas, I am too dazed to push that little silver escape button, the off gizmo, and retire to my current book.
Again. I have nothing against old people. Many of my best friends are old people. My college roommate was an old person. But when you overexplain, in print, what a "remote control" is, and refer to it as a "gizmo," you (a) are playing up how old and crotchety you are as a badge of honor, (b) are just too old to remember where the "delete" key is on your keyboard, or (c) are Andy Rooney.
I am part of the vast captive audience. There is no escape. There is no mercy.
...There is "changing the channel," isn't there?
My ankles are locked, my eyelids are drooping, but I can barely drag myself to the sack.
These things happen. Calcium chews and multivitamins will help.
I am victim of our pop sports culture.
ESPN believes that it invented the home run.
We have been fed this summer a steady dose of milestones.
Sammy Sosa's 600th home run.
Alex Rodriguez's 500th home run.
Barry Bond's 754th, 755th, 756th, 758th, and onward, home runs.
One might argue that we haven't been "fed" these things, so much as they have "happened." And are "of interest." To people who "like sports."
Over and over, while we remain prisoners.
The other night, honest, Karl Ravech, the moderator of ESPN's Baseball Tonight show, had a segment: "The best three things and the worst three things that happened since Bonds' 754th home run." This followed: "The Minnesota Twins are 6 and 2 since Bonds' 754th home run."
This a day after Bonds surpassed Henry Aaron's home-run record with No. 756.
I am no fan of ESPN these days. They do a lot of incredibly stupid segments that have nothing to do with sports coverage, like "Who's Now?" and "Getttin' Heavy" and "NASCAR Hip-Hop Thunder!" and "Which Sandwich?" But after months of research I have devised a way to avoid these irritants: don't watch them.
E -- Embarrassing!
S -- Silly!
P -- Puerile!
N -- Nonsensical!
Man. You really went for it here, didn't you, Jerry. I bet you wish you could take this back. I mean, you put each one of these things on a different line, and punctuated with exclamations. You have a lot of confidence in this humor trope.
And I remain in captivity, addicted to the pre-dreamtime baseball scores and TV images.
Reading is an option. The internet also provides sports information. Did you read Tim Page's first-person account of Asberger's Syndrome in the New Yorker this week? Fascinating, I thought.
I have become immune to the season's most imaginative newspaper headline: "Bonds homers; Giants lose."
Again. And again.
Bonds! Sosa! A-Rod!
What does it mean?
Riddle me this -- in this whacky, over-hyped world of sound bytes and yard shots, what has any one of them ever won in Major League Baseball?
Buckle up, people. Things are about to get crotchety.
With all their home runs, with their vast millions in salary, with their adoring fans, at least in their home ballparks, when has any one of them ever helped a team win a pennant or a World Series championship?
Allow me, quickly, to remind Jerry of a few things.
1. There are eight position players, five starting pitchers (usually) and several relievers on a baseball team. They play 162 games per year, then between one and three playoff series in an attempt to win the World Series. Teams have vastly different payroll thresholds, and every year they contend with injuries, fluctuations in performance, and the relative strength of the other teams in their division. One man, no matter how good, cannot single-handedly win a championship in a team sport.
Bonds played on one pennant winner in his 21-plus seasons. The Giants lost that World Series. But Bonds hit four home runs -- for the loser.
What a bad baseball player he is. He would be better if he had hit zero home runs for the winner. Logic!
His Pirates and Giants went 2-7 in various postseason ventures. Barry Bonds has hit more home runs than any other athlete in 131 years of Major League Baseball. But he is tied with thousands and thousands of lesser athletes in total World Series victories: 0. Zero, zilch.
He is also tied with Ernie Banks and Ted Williams. Frank Thomas won a World Series with the ChiSox in 2005, despite having only 105 AB during the season and not even being on the postseason roster. Does that make him superior to Barry Bonds in some way? It's a team sport, dumbass. And some people play for shitty teams.
Sosa has never played for a pennant winner nor a World Series team in 18 big league seasons. He appeared in the postseason twice. The Cubs went 1-2 in three series. They almost won a pennant one recent October, but perpetuated their series of failures since 1945.
Sosa's fault. All Sosa's fault. The nerve of Sammy Sosa to have prevented/never helped the Cubs win a World Series since 1908. If I am not mistaken -- and I don't believe I am -- it was Sosa who interfered with the foul pop that Alou might have caught in that NLCS game in Wrigley in 2003. I believe it was also Sosa who botched that easy grounder later in the inning. (I've always wondered -- why was he playing SS? Alex Gonzalez was a gold glover!!!) And why did Sosa pitch so terribly in Game 7 when Kerry Wood was rested and ready to go? If I were a Cubs' fan, I would hate Sammy Sosa, because he never single-handedly won a World Series.
A-Rod has been a dismal flop in his ventures into the postseason in his previous 13 seasons with the Mariners, Rangers and Yankees.
Frequent readers of this web-log might remember that I have a particular bee in my bonnet in re: people claiming ARod is an Untrue Yankee because he has "failed" in the postseason where far superior players like Chad Curtis and Scott Brosius have succeeded. But now, now we have a whole new ballgame.
Jerry is claiming, and I quote, that "A-Rod has been a dismal flop in his ventures into the postseason in his previous 13 seasons with the Mariners, Rangers and Yankees." If you will please excuse my language: Fuck the heck are you talking about?
I will first point out that the Rangers did not make the postseason while he was there. A point you might have made to help strengthen your flaccid argument, if you'd spent less time fidgeting with doo-dads and whatnots and focussed more on checking information to see if your wild and idiotic claims had any veracity.
Second. Here's what ARod did as a Mariner in 13 postseason game (not counting 1995, when he had 1 AB each in 2 games):
18-51 3 BB 3 2b 3 HR 8 RBI
That's a .352/.388/.588 line. That's a .976 OPS. That's a dismal flop.
The only time you can truly call ARod a postseason dismal flop was last year in the ALDS against Detroit, when he went 1-14 with nary a double to call his own. Yes. Dismal flop. Second would be the previous year's 2-15 against the Halos, but he was walked six times and thus had a .381 OBP. Which ain't bad. But here's the point:
Joe Dimaggio went 2-18 in the 1949 WS (.111/.238/.278).
Pujols put up an almost identical line in the 2001 NLDS.
In 1950, Phil Rizzuto (RIP) went 2-14, .143/.294/.143.
Should I keep going? Okay.
1922 World Series. Picture it. Giants-Yankees. Roaring Twenties. Jazz! Babe Ruth knocks 2 sweet hits in 17 tries, Sultanly Swatting at the rate of .118/.250/.176. Or how's this: in the 1977 ALCS against Kansas City, Mr. October himself went 2-16 with no extra base hits, non-dismal-flopping his way to a .125/.222/.125 line.
In fact, lets just go ahead and do this:
Mr. October, career, in October: .278/.358/.527. One HR every 15.6 AB Mr. Dismal-Flop, career, in October: .280/.362/.485. One HR every 22 AB
Jackson's totals are more impressive when you consider he has more than twice the AB, and many more HR, and so on and so forth. But the original comparison is valid, thanks to its very invalidity. What do I mean? I mean that the whole exercise of looking at one (or even two, or three) postseason series is stupid.
They are tiny sample sizes of data, that can be cherry picked at will to make any point you want. That's why Mark Lemke is a postseason legend, but a sub-par overall Major Leaguer, once the number of data points increased and his true talent level shone through. It's why Marty Barrett at one time shared the record for hits in a postseason series. The smaller the number of AB, the higher the possibility that something crazy happens, like ARod going 1-14.
Want to claim ARod is a choker, even just as a member of the Yankees? Cite his last two series, which were bad. I will counter with the 2004 ALDS against the Twinkies, where he went 8-19 with three doubles and a homer, going .421/.476/.737.
(Once again. I hate Alex Rodriguez. And I am spending my entire Sunday looking up Reggie Jackson's postseason hitting stats just to prove that Alex Rodriguez is good. My boss is going to be pissed. I am pissed.)
He has never played for a pennant winner, never has had one at-bat in a World Series. The teams he has played for went 3-6 in postseason series.
All his fault.
That adds up to an astonishing sum of nearly 1,900 home runs among them without a single championship.
But did they go yard a lot! With worthless home runs.
Home runs are never worthless. They are always worth between one and four runs. And without those 1900 home runs, it is fair to say that their teams would have had many fewer postseason games, and thus many fewer chances to reach the World Series.
These three guys are worthy of Hall of Fame selection whenever they turn eligible, Bonds and Sosa accompanied perhaps by asterisks.
For the record, Babe Ruth played for 10 pennant winners and seven World Series winners in 22 seasons. The Babe is unmatched with 15 World Series home runs with the Yankees, and a 3-0 record as a pitcher with the champion Red Sox.
When Babe Ruth played baseball, there were two leagues, and thus two playoff teams. If you won the league, you played in the World Series. And since Babe's team also featured many other Hall of Famers -- both pitchers and position players -- he played in the World Series a lot. And since baseball was segregated, and not international, he did not play against the best possible competition. And so on and so on and so on.
Babe might have been the best hitter ever. His OPS+ is 207. But comparing his WS stats to anyone's from the Divisional Era -- never mind the Wild Card era -- is stupid on stilts.
Ruth, the home-run master, was the consummate winner.
Too bad ESPN was not in business to capture the wondrous exploits as "The Babe went yard," on its Baseball Tonight show.
What are you even complaining about? Babe Ruth was the ultimate showman. He partied harder than anyone. He was all about celebrity. If BBTN were around in the 1920s, Babe would have had his face in front of those cameras 24/7. He would've had his own reality show. He would've been cutting every deal he could to milk extra $$$ out of the MLB $$$ deals with whoever. And he would've had a lot of venereal diseases.
Also for the record, Kirk Gibson contributed immeasurably to victory in two World Series with home runs. He never has been close to enshrinement in Cooperstown.
Because there is no category for "Best Dramatic Performance in the Postseason in the Smallest Possible Sample Size of One AB." I'm pretty sure some memento of that AB (the ball is lost, I think, but Vin Scully's radio call on tape, or something) is in the Hall. Apparently, like Colin Cowherd, you cannot differentiate between permanent enshrinement for career achievement, and enshrinement for famous moments.
Bobby Thomson hit a home run for the New York Giants to win the best pennant race in history, in 1951. He is not in the Hall of Fame. Bill Mazeroski hit a home run to win a World Series for the Pirates. He reached the Hall of Fame belatedly in the veteran's category, based on his fielding skills. Joe Carter won a World Series with a home for the Blue Jays. Joe has no chance ever to reach the Hall of Fame.
Joe Carter's career OPS+ is 104. You think he should be in the Hall of Fame? (I know he's not really saying that, but it's implied.)
But all of them "went yard" when it mattered.
Yes they did. Good for them. Wonderful moments. The rich tapestry of sports, and so on. What are we talking about, again?
The Embarrassing, Silly, Puerile, Nonsensical all-sports (poker? spelling bees?) network has an amazing influence on its captive audience.
America has been led to believe that A-Rod is having the best season of any ballplayer currently playing.
...He is. Except for maybe H-Ram, to whom he's second in VORP, though ARod has a higher MLVr. See for yourself.
Therefore, the current hot debate with the Tigers competing in New York this weekend is the American League's most valuable player competition.
A-Rod is being championed as the shoo-in for the MVP. He leads MLB in home runs and RBIs.
Magglio Ordonez hits home runs that win ball games.
Well, shit. Because ARod hits the kind that cause Peruvian earthquakes and give kids diseases.
He hits singles and doubles that contribute to winning ball games.
Dammit. I had no idea. ARod only hits the kind of singles that earn him, personally, money, which he uses to invest in blood diamond mines in Africa. And ARod's doubles -- besides taking runs off the board from his team -- are converted into energy that powers a rec center for Aryan nation youth gangs.
He hit a home run last October that won a pennant and sent his team into the World Series.
ARod sucks. Because he has never been placed in this exact situation and come through in exactly the same way. Robin Ventura is way better than ARod.
Ordonez happens to be immeasurably more valuable to his team than A-Rod is with all his fluff and flourishes, flubs and superfluous home runs.
There are any number of statistics I could use to prove you wrong, but I will actually just repeat what has been implied, and what is self-evident, if you think long and hard about what you just wrote and published:
You are stupid, sir. This is a stupid thing to say.
They are both extremely valuable to their teams. To imply that ARod is less valuable because he, I guess, hits more home runs, but has never exactly hit a home run that won a pennant for his team...I mean...that is just...farty. That is farty writing. That writing smells like farts.
Okay. Back to work. Hey! It's 7:30! Quittin' time!
Originally in this post I included an obscure inside joke between me and a friend, regarding the idea of one man winning a championships in a team sport, that read:
Even Danny Manning needed Keith Smart.
I just edited it out because it was resulting in too many "A ha! You are a dummy!" emails, even after I had tried to explain that I knew that of course, Danny Manning played for Kansas State, and Keith Smart for UConn.
I also unintentionally imply -- as Jonathan points out -- that the A-Gon who played SS for the Cubbies in 2003 was the slick-fielding one who later played for the Red Sox and now the Reds. That A-Gon was, of course, actually on the Marlins at the time.
Many people wrote in with versions of this sentiment, from Matthew:
"He [Ordonez] hit a home run last October that won a pennant and sent his team into the World Series."
What he probably meant to write was, "He [Ordonez] hit a home run last October that won a pennant and sent his team into the World Series, where he hit .105/.150/.105 with two hits (both singles) in nineteen at-bats as his team lost to a vastly inferior club and possibly the worst World Series winner of all time in the 83 win Cardinals."
1. Preseason football often features players who are unlikely to make the team. 2. Therefore, they must perform well, or they will be cut, and will be forced to seek work elsewhere.
That's the whole article. He restates that point 100 times. To wit:
With just one fumble, UPS has a new driver.
Direct TV is one dropped pass from getting a new service rep.
The second half of a preseason football game is like watching an episode of MAD TV; a collection of names that no one will remember.
These poor guys have about a dozen plays in front of about a dozen fans to try and change their lives forever.
A few solid tackles and a sack could mean a paycheck with two commas, eating filet mignon three nights a week, buying their parents a dream house and dating Alyssa Milano.
If they miss those tackles and don't get that sack, they will spend the next 20 years of their life explaining the collating features on the new Canon XPS and selling Xerox machines to small business owners in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
If a preseason game goes into overtime, you might see a guy from DeVry.
[E]each guy who is on the field is playing for his very life.
If Ray Lewis misses a tackle, he'll still be on the field a minute later. If the guy from Kutztown State misses a tackle, he might start writing Internet blogs.
Sweet swipe on bloggers, there, Jay. Screw those blogging nerds from Kutztown. I mean, seriously -- what kind of loser would...write...about sports...on the...internet?
I'm not sure why Mohr decides to bash Kutztown University (aka "Kutztown State"), considering that for its size (it's a D-II school) it has produced one future hall of fame WR (Andre Reed) and a Pro-Bowl linebacker (John Mobley).
Hey everyone! Never read Dan Shaughnessy and want to see two jokes that demonstrate how lame and out-dated his sense of humor is? Okay.
He blew two games in three days in Baltimore, first spitting up a 5-1 lead, then coughing up a game-tying two-run homer to Miguel Tejada...He was Eric Gag-me-with-a-spoon.
Eric Gagné was a bomb. Then he was the bomb.
I put "gag me with a spoon" at maybe...1982? And referring to someone as "the bomb" is roughly as embarrassing in the modern day as was that moment in the "Bringing Down the House" trailer wherein Eugene Levy (white) says to Queen Latifah (Black), "You got me straight trippin', boo."
Joe has emerged from the hot tub long enough to conduct a computer chat with his computer fans. Quickly, now, before the tub beckons again:
Joe Morgan: All the races are pretty much up for grabs and there are a lot of teams in the playoff hunt and I think that is great for baseball.
Junior: Ah, beginnings. Look again at this opening sentence. 'Tis no sentence at all, but rather three sentences connected by "ands." Also, the second sentence is pretty much implied by the first. All in all, a very good start for a fifth grade essay on Why I Love Baseball and Baseball Is Good by Timothy Swanson (Mrs. Tubbs' Homeroom).
John (Washington, DC): Joe, I was wondering if you were impressed with the Phillies this weekend, and if you think that they have the best offense in the National League?
Joe Morgan: If you look at the numbers they are scoring more runs per game,
Jr: The most, yes. 5.47 runs per game. Second place are the Colorado Rockies, with 5.14, followed by Atlanta with 4.97. I point this out to show you how large the gulf is between first and second place. This will pay off soon.
but you also have to think about the fact that the games will be played in their ball park, which is a small park.
A fine point by Mr. Morgan. Astute. Statistically aware. Subtle, almost. Except for the fact that the Phillies also lead the NL in road runs per game (they score 5.39, which means they'd probably still lead the league in total runs per game if they played in a neutral ballpark).
I would not say they have the best offense in the NL
-- despite the fact that they lead the league in OPS+ (park-adjusted), runs scored, runs per game, road runs per game, and slugging --
but they do have a core of very smart and patient players.
who are also the best at scoring runs, as a team, team-wise, teamologically speaking, in the National League.
But I think the numbers have a lot to do with the small ballpark.
You mentioned this already. The numbers are affected. But we can use operations on these numbers to figure out how much they're affected. And then we can learn more about the universe and better help the kind people who are asking questions in these -- Joe? Joe? He's in the hot tub. He'll be back in a second. Here he is again.
They are a good offensive team, but they are not head and shoulders above anyone else.
I'll buy that. But the question was if they were the best, not head and shoulders the best. By all reasonable metrics up to this point in the season, it really strongly seems like that the correct answer is yes, they are the best. Unless you have a different take, specifically vis-a-vis the consistency of the Phillies as opposed to the consistency of some other team.
I think when healthy the Mets are the best offense in the NL, with Reyes, Beltran, Castillo, Delgado, Wright and Alou are a little more consistent when they are all healthy.
Reyes and Wright are great. Beltran's been in a bit in a possibly injury-related funk, which affected his Internal Consistency Motordrive (ICM). Alou is 40 and hasn't played a full season since 2004. It is, perhaps, optimistic to expect him to remain injury-free for the rest of the year. I don't know what happened to Delgado this year (age, probably), but his consistency's been way off. He's been inconsistent to the tune of a .275 EqA, which isn't impressing anyone for a first baseman. Luis Castillo, well, I've never found him to be all that consistent. He posted a .268 EqA for Minnesota and his 2007 aggregate OPS+ is a stunningly inconsistent 91.
The point is, yes, the Mets have a good offense. You named a few sort of average-y guys in your argument. But I can't believe you didn't mention that the Phillies have had the best offense up to this point in the season but almost certainly will not have the best offense from here on out because they've lost the ultra-consistent Chase Utley for a good amount of time.
jeremy (ohio): are the indians and tigers trying to let the yankess win the wild card? what is going on with those two teams lately?
Joe Morgan: Well you could ask the same thing about Boston in the East. I am shocked with how Detroit has plaed lately, but I guess that shows you how important Gary Sheffield is for this team. But if they can get the bullpen figured out they should be okay. But the Yankees are now in both races, and these teams had a great chance to put them away. The Yankees, with this veteran team, I believe, now have a very good shot at making the playoffs, and just a few months ago they looked dead in the water.
Jr: Gonna mention the Indians at all? No? Travis Hafner's stunning, mysterious fall from grace (a dip in EqA from .368 to .301)? (Joe busies himself using a bucket to bail some pool water into the tub to cool it down.) Whenever you're ready.
Connor (walpole, MA): Joe, do you think that the Gagne deal will eventually turn in the Red Sox' favor? What's up with him right now?
Joe Morgan: I can't answer what's up with him, because I thought it was a great deal.
You can. You can answer. Just because a result differs from what you guessed beforehand doesn't mean you're absolved from ever talking about that result ever again. You will demonstrate this by answering, in direct contradiction to what you just said.
It seems like health issues will always be an issue with Gagne.
One possible answer, yes.
I am shocked he has not pitched better. But there is a difference between pitching ina bullpen for a team that isn't playing for anything and pitching in a bullpen for a team trying to win the East. Gagne has not experienced this type of pressure in a while. Maybe that is the reason, or maybe it is something physical.
Very well hedged. Joe can't make an argument that Gagne can't pitch under pressure because he's done exactly that in the past. In 2004, when the Dodgers won the NL West, Gagne had a WHIP of 0.91, an ERA+ of 189, and 114 strikeouts to 22 walks. So now it's "he has to get used to the pressure again."
I'd like to posit a pre-emptive theory for a hypothetical guy who pitches well under pressure then immediately doesn't pitch well under pressure: he "is struggling under the pressure of the expectation that he'll pitch well under pressure again." Parse that, motherfuckers.
Jay (LA): Why does Chipper Jones not get MVP consideration like David Wright when he has had just as good a year as Wright, and he has played in 27 less games?
Joe Morgan: Well its the 27 less games.
Jr: Agreed! Well done. Let's move on.
The Braves did not fall out of the rtace when he was not there, and those games make a difference.
Oh, Joe. Why did you have to do this? It's important that Chipper missed 27 games because 27 games is a big chunk of the season. Can we just leave it at that? It's so convoluted and weird and stupid to argue that because they didn't immediately slump when he went out that he's not the MVP. Well, at least you're not talking about RBIs.
And he is third on his team in RBIs so it is hard to say that he is the MVP of the league when he is not even leading his team in RBIs; and that is because of those games he missed.
This is a worse way of saying the very simple "he missed too many games." Garrett Atkins has more RBI than Albert Pujols. In the AL, Sammy Sosa has more RBI than David Ortiz. Enough already.
Kurt (Wilmington, NC): Joe, what happened to Cleveland's offense? Cleveland's top 2 starters, Sabathia & Carmona, are going up against a struggling Jeremy Bonderman & a rookie in their 2 game set at home. Cleveland needs both of these games.
Jr: Second question about Cleveland. First part of this one is about their offense. (Movie trailer guy voice) In life, you hardly ever get a second chance. Joe Morgan was about to get his ...
Joe Morgan: Well it is too early to say they have to win both games. But you expect to win those games when you have Sabathia in the first game.
Offense offense offense offense
(Also: "you expect to win those games when you have Sabathia in the first game"? This is not a coherent thought.)
With the Indians they went on a spurt and now they have cooled off, and every team goes through this, and that is why you need good pitching when you go through these lulls.
There you go, Kurt in Wilmington. Cooled off. Boom. It's a wrap. Cut and print.
The Yankees a few months ago could not score more than two run per game. All teams go through these low run producing stretches. It is impossible to stay hot trough a season, and that is when you rely on pitching.
The Yankees also have a payroll that exceeds the GDP of Chad. The Yankees have seventeen All-Stars at every position, and several more serving as groundskeepers just for the fuck of it. The Yankees once battled the X-Men to a standstill, even with the Phoenix fighting for the mutant side.* Comparing the Tribe to the Yankees, I think, isn't going to be much of a consolation to Wilmington Kurt.
Eric (NYC): Ok Joe, "bold predictions" time. Who are your AL and NL MVP's? I've got A-Rod beating Ordonez, and Holliday edging out Prince.
Joe Morgan: I have A-Rod and Ordonez neck and neck. If the Yankees win the East and the Tigers win the Central then I give it to A-Rod. But I need to see what team finishes the highest.
Jr: If A-Rod goes 0 for the rest of the season with a 100% strikeout rate and Ordonez homers every at bat from here on out, but the Yankees finish "the highest," A-Rod wins it.
Right now though, A-Rod is my MVP, but we have some time to go, and a lot of times the MVP emerges in the later parts of the season. In the NL I have Fielder over Holliday. So as of right now, it is Fielder and A-Rod, but we still have a lot of baseball to play and that could all change.
A-Rod and Maggs are 1-2 in VORP in the AL. Prince Fielder? Number five in the NL, behind two (!) Fish (Hanley and M-Cab) and two guys who've missed some games (Chipper and Chase). Fielder is eighth in Win Shares, behind guys like Eric Byrnes.
He'll probably win it. (Fielder, not Byrnes.)
Ben (Louisville): Joe, I'm a huge Dbacks fan and love what the team has done in rebuilding. But tell me, what are the chances of signing or trading for someone HUGE like Johan Santana if the Twins offer him up or he gets to free agency?
Joe Morgan: That's out of my realm. I am surprised at how well the Dbacks are in first place because they have been outscored by the opposition. But they have done a great job of staying in the games and they have brought up some good young players. I do not know who would get Santana if he were in the open market. I assume the Yankees would spend the most money to get him, but I have no idea where he would end up.
Jr: Cliffs Notes version of this JoeAnswer:
out of my realm surprised I do not know I assume I have no idea
Jeremy (St. Louis, Mo): Joe, you seem to really like the Mets if they are healthy. But what if they arent healthy come Sept/ Oct? Do you think they could still make the playoffs? And if so could they actually win?
Joe Morgan: I think they can make the playoff because the Braves still have starting pitching problems. The Phillies when you look at their starting pitching vs the Mets, how does it matchup? Every team has weaknesses. I think the Mets can make the playoffs if they are not healthy, but they need to be healthy to win it all. It will be interesting to see what pedro contributes to the Mets if anything. If you look at a guy like Roger Clemens, even though the numbers may not show it, really helped the Yankees with his presence. So maybe Pedro can other that to the Mets.
Jr: Pedro Martinez, it is up to you. You alone can help the Mets OPS .950 for a month. You can turn Luis Castillo into Robinson Cano, Shawn Green into Bobby Abreu, Moises Alou into Hideki Matsui, Ramon Castro into an inexplicably godlike hitter. You alone have this power because you, Pedro, you are a veteran pitcher. Like Roger Clemens. And you have ... a presence. A presence that transforms. A presence that purifies. A presence that alchemizes lead into gold, Melky into Ruth, Duncan into Ruth, Betemit into Ruth. We turn to you, Pedro. Magic-ify the Mets. Roger did it, I know he did, even though the numbers may not show it.
*The Phoenix Force is an immortal and mutable manifestation of the prime universal force of life. (Credit: Wikipedia)
Reader Ben chimes in with something we had noticed but were too lazy to research:
Joe is infatuated with Gary Sheffield. Not to mention his batshit insane defense of [Sheff's] accusations against Joe Torre, here are the most recent JoeChat allusions to Gary Sheffield (preceded by the topic of the question at hand)
Re: The Indians and Tigers slumping: "...I guess that shows you how important Gary Sheffield is for this team."
Re: Detroit's slump: "It's a long season, you can't stay consistent for that long. Any time Sheffield's not in the lineup."
Here's where it gets really fun.
Re: The health of Detroit's bullpen: "Because of the addition of Gary Sheffield, their offense will be stellar."
Re: Curtis Granderson's All-Star credentials: "...there were other guys left off as well, such as Sheffield."
Re: The Yankees slump: "The biggest mistake they made was getting rid of Sheffield."
Re: Bobby Abreu's slump: "That's why they miss Sheffield."
Wherein we allow you, the readers, to correct something you, the readers, contributed the previous day.
Re: Mr. Patrick Brian Burrell (alias "Pat the Bat") and his ability to piston his legs and propel his body with much celerity, Joshua has the following correction:
You've got the Pat Burrell story all wrong. JM didn't say that they were going to play behind Burrell because he can run (you don't play behind someone who can run, even JM knows that). What happened was JM expressed his surprise at the fact that the Braves were playing Texiera behind Burrell, despite the fact that "Burrell can run" (for the record, Burrell CAN run, just extremely slowly). I was flabbergasted when JM said that, because anybody who knows anything about Pat Burrell knows that he has below-average speed - for a catcher with a broken ankle. As a Phillies fan, I was disappointed when Francouer gunned down Burrell at the plate shortly thereafter, but took a little comfort in the fact that at least it made JM look like the complete moron he is (not that we needed more evidence). Importantly, contrary to Reader Jason's account, Burrell was not running on contact, he was running WITH THE PITCH (on a full count with two outs). When Werth hit a screaming one-hopper to Francouer, I knew it would take a bad throw to score Burrell, but I thought he'd at least be in the picture when McCann caught the ball and turned to look for him. Shockingly, JM never acknowledged his mistake in claiming that "Burrell can run." But I've always felt that running fast is the key to good speed.
Tomorrow, we will run a Dept. of Assholish Spelling Corrections wherein we correct Joshua's spelling of "Francoeur" within this correction. Thank you for the correction, Joshua.
I did not watch Sunday Night Baseball last night, but apparently a lot of you out there did, and Joe did not disappoint.
They're going to play behind Burrell at first here, because Burrell can run.
As a man who calls himself "Greggo" tells us:
Burrell has 5 career steals in a Major League career which started in 2000. He has not attempted a steal since 2004.
Reader Jason explains what happened next:
A few minutes later, Burrell was thrown out by a mile at home by Jeff Francoeur on a play when Burrell had been running on contact.
The following is from Ian:
Basically within the first 3 minutes of the telecast, as Jamie Moyer is warming up, he [Joe] comments on how it's unusual that Moyer has allowed more hits than innings pitched.
I don't have Tivo to transcribe exactly what he said, but he said something to the effect of "this is unusual for Moyer, who has always been very difficult to hit. That's what has set him apart from other lefthanders."
So Jamie Moyer is hard to hit, unlike most lefties, who are easy to hit.
Jamie Moyer has started at least 20 games in, by my count, 17 different seasons. In those 17 seasons, he has allowed less hits than innings pitched exactly FOUR times. Three of those were consecutive, during his peak years with Seattle from 2001-2003. 2003 was the last time he allowed less hits than innings pitched.
For his career, he has allowed 3606 hits in 3494 2/3 innings pitched.
Joe also told us the story of where he was when Bonds hit 756. Curtis elaborates:
I would suspect that you’ve gotten a lot of reports of this, but just in case thought I’d chime in. Joe filled us all in on what he was doing during Bonds breaking of the record. It turns out Joe was in the tub. And then he continued to state that “I had said I would stand and applaud, and I did...”
This is a mental image I will never get out of my head.
Joe chipped in with another clutch Morganism near the end of the broadcast, as e-mailed by Ryan:
Not sure if you caught the end of Braves-Phillies last night, but Jon Miller announces the player of the game is Ryan Howard, for hitting a 3-run homer.
Morgan disagrees with this sentiment, saying it should go to Jimmy Rollins. Paraphrasing Morgan, "You know me, I'd give it to the infielder. I'd give it to Jimmy Rollins, but I always go with the infielder."
Ryan Howard plays where, exactly?
And finally, Joe enters Yogi Berra territory with this perfectly succinct breakdown of pitching:
I've always felt that starting pitching is the most important part of the rotation.
Once in a while we'll come across signs of progress that are so promising, they melt the icy chains around our H.E.A.R.T.S. (we have robot hearts).
And so it is with the most cautious of optimism that we salute Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, for printing a rare mea culpa -- that he was wrong about the importance of statistical analysis. Check out the Q and A:
I think you hear less and less about sabermatricians because it's become more and more commonplace...Even lowly sportswriters like me have changed the way we look at games. I now consider on-base percentage and OPS (on-base-plus-slugging) a better indicator of a player's offensive performance than batting average. And believe me, that's quite an admission because I remember back in the early days of Inside the Rangers, admonishing a reader for relying on OPS as some "new-fangled" device. Turns out, I was the stuck-in-the mud old-timer. Statistical analysis is out there more than ever. Spend a little while surfing the Web and you'll get all the evaluations and projections you could ever want.
Mazel Tov, Evan. Your FJM commemorative 2-year anniversary umbrella is in the mail!
I mean, that is some hard-hitting journalism. That is what we in the mainstream media call: a bold lede. Barry Bonds, the all-time home run king, and the linchpin of the biggest performance-enhancing drug investigation in the history of sports, will be remembered for (a) the all-time home run record and (b) the controversey [sic] surrounding the steroid scandal.
To help you write newspaper headlines in 2007, here is a handy list of some people, and the things they will be remembered for:
John F. Kennedy: President; being assassinated Neil Armstrong: traveling to moon; walking on moon Eddie Van Halen: guitar-playing; being in "Van Halen" John Glenn: Orbiting earth; orbiting earth again Jerry Seinfeld: TV show Seinfeld Moon Monster: kidnapping Neil Armstrong; replacing with fake Neil Armstrong; programming fake Neil Armstrong's computer brain to laser-destroy world's salt supply
Also, there is the article, by Ian O'Connor, about Barry Bonds. Snippets:
Barry Bonds is...defined by the how, not the how many. He cheated on his way past Hank Aaron's 755, and he can't swat that 99-mph truth into McCovey Cove. I'd still put him in the Hall of Fame.
Right here, right now, I'd still include his name on my ballot.
I have said this before, but I have no problem with this. It's essentially a personal choice. If you believe that a message should be sent, and that using PEDs violates the nebulous "character" clause in the HOF voting, then vote "no" -- to Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Raffy, all of them. If you believe that it does not matter, vote "yes." If you believe that "innocent until proven guilty" applies not only to our country's judicial system, but to HOF voting as well, vote "yes."
For the record, however -- "innocent until proven guilty" was invented for court cases. It was not invented for baseball HOF voting. The people who use "innocent until proven guilty" to refer to things like baseball HOF voting are the same people who think they can talk dirty around their co-workers and are somehow protected by that "freedom of speech" thing they've heard so much about, not realizing that while the Federal Government cannot punish them for saying that Janice in accounting has a nice ass, that Janice in accounting can, and probably will, aided by the company's HR director.
Not that anything like this has ever happened at Fremulon Ins., Inc. mind you.
The larger point here, though, is that if you choose to employ "innocent until proven guilty!" to refer to people who totally definitely cheated, like Barry Bonds: please realize that I completely agree with you that Barry Bonds should not be thrown in jail unless he is actually convicted of a crime in a court of law. But there is no Bill of Rights of Baseball. In fact, the rules governing almost all MLB awards and honors are incredibly vague, and are voted on by either dummy journalists or even dummier fans, and so if I want to use my brain, and mathematical probability -- I wholeheartedly recommend this article at Kermit the Blog, which calculates the odds of Barry hitting 73 at age 37 at one in 53 million -- and the actual sworn testimony of the actual man, and just motherfletching common sense, and I decide that Barry Bonds used PEDs and that because of that he shouldn't be in the HOF, and I have a HOF vote, then sorry, people, but that's fine, and you can't use "innocent until proven guilty" to shame me because it has nothing to do with HOF voting.
But Ian's position is fine, too, in my opinion. (You know us -- we're not strident guys.) So let's keep going.
But despite what we know about Bonds at this very moment – he surely used performance-enhancing drugs to break Aaron's record, and he surely stands among the biggest jerks in baseball history – I would put him in Cooperstown, a place that has immortalized jerks, racists and cheaters among its many gentlemen, progressive thinkers and good sports.
Again, I think this is fine. Ty Cobb once jumped into the stands and beat up a heckler who had no arms or legs. He was also a terrible racist. Gaylord Perry threw a spitball. Blah blah blah. It is 100% legit to say that Barry -- and McGwire, and whoever -- should be in, PEDs be damned.
I did not vote for Mark McGwire, and I don't plan on ever voting for Mark McGwire. It has less to do with Little Mac's pathetic performance on Capitol Hill than it does the fact he didn't have half of Bonds' talent, even if his homers seemed to travel twice as far as Barry's.
Here's where I start to get lost.
Bonds may have been more "talented" than McGwire. But Mac's career OPS+ is 163. His career EqA is .336, including .381 in 1998. (Bonds EqA in 2004: .456. It kills me that he cheated so much, because if he hadn't, that would be my favorite statistic of all time.) If you don't have a problem with Mac's steroid use, there's really no argument to keep him out.
The evidence suggests performance-enhancing drugs made McGwire a Hall of Fame player. Without them, McGwire might've gone down as a rich man's Dave Kingman.
Dave Kingman, career:
.236/.302/.478 HR: 442 EqA: .276
.263/.394/.588 HR: 583 EqA: .336
McGwire is the "rich man's Dave Kingman?" That's like saying Harrison Ford is the rich man's Joe Rogan.
The evidence suggests performance-enhancing drugs made Bonds a better Hall of Fame player. Without them, Bonds might've gone down as a poor man's Willie Mays.
There's a difference. A big difference.
For the record, Mac hit 49 HR as a relatively skinny 23 year-old rookie. Bonds didn't hit over 33 until he was 28. Bonds was obviously a better all-around player, but come on.
Truth is, more stars than we know have used steroids and/or human growth hormone. A chemically enhanced Bonds often competed against dirty pitchers backed up by dirty fielders. It's hard to keep him out of Cooperstown when other big-name, big-game cheaters have surely escaped detection.
So a complicated process – the Hall of Fame voting process – gets more complicated, more subjective, more hazardous to a voter's mental health. When, exactly, did a slugger begin cheating? Just how good was the slugger before he started cheating? How many opposing pitchers were cheating – and therefore creating a level, if corrupt, playing field – when the cheating slugger took his home-run cuts?
I agree. These are fine points. Why did you not vote for McGwire, again?
I suppose if you're going to be a snide dick about people committing spelling errors, you are dooming yourself to committing some yourself. Thus, it is with heavy heart that I admit, too, that I spelled "linchpin" with a "y," until reader Mike pointed out my error.
Those of you writing in to tell us of the "Joe Morgan Response" to Phil Mushnick and FJM should be advised: Yard-Work is a parody site, wherein the authors mimic the stylings of various journalists and personalities. It is not real. It is, however, quite funny, I think. The whole site is well-worth checking out. I once got into a fake-sparring match with a fake Daniel Okrent that was quite enjoyable.
(This chat took place before the most famous steroid user in history hit his most recent HR and then weirdly refused to hug his own son at home plate. Am I the only one who found that creepy?)
Joe Morgan: Congratulations to Barry. Congratulations to A-Rod and Tom Glavine for their great achievements this past week. There will be other guys chasing milestones this year.
Ken Tremendous: True of every year. In every sport. Off to a good start.
Jon (Emerson, NJ): Do you see the Yankees winning the wild card and what roll do you see Giambi filling when he returns?
Joe Morgan: I think the Yankees are like three or four other teams, but can they stay consistent.
KT: A "consistent," right off the bat! Man. That's good stuff. If you are new to the site, look in our archives at every single JoeChat in history and you will find at least one, and usually 40+, uses of the word "consistent."
Joe writing the word "consistent" has become like the Rolling Stones playing "Satisfaction" in concert. It's a classic. You know it's going to happen eventually. When you start to sense that it might be coming, you get excited. And then it happens! I am holding up a lighter right now. And a cell phone with a glowing screen. And chewing off my own arm.
They have a chance of winning, but it doesn't mean they're going to win. Giambi, if he can come back and hit, that left handed bat can help. They can get better if he can come back and produce.
Just so we're clear: the question is about Giambi coming back and whether that would help the Yankees, who are clicking on so many cylinders right now they had to rent a second car. (Their team OPS since the ASB is .953. Team OPS, friends. The entire team is hitting like Albert Pujols. A poster on SoSH recently pointed out that they went through a 2-week run of offensive prowess not equaled since like 1961.)
So anyways, Joe says: "If he comes back and produces, the Yankees will benefit." No mention of what it would do to the line-up, or the defense. No discussion of Andy Phillips, or Wilson Betamit, or who would sit if he DHed (Damon, probably, though how do you sit a $13m CF for very long?).
And as far as being left-handed, the Yankees' current line-up features Damon, Cano, Posada, Matsui, Abreu, Cabrera, and Betamit -- all of whom can hit left-handed. That's seven lefties they can have in the line-up if they so choose.
But thank god they're getting another lefty in there.
I'm already exhausted.
rOb (rs nation): Hey Joe, What'd you think of Schilling's return to the mound last night?
Joe Morgan: The Red Sox are a good team.
KT: Question was about Schilling's performance last night.
They've been able to play well even with him out. Question was about Schilling's performance last night. Their starting pitching is the key. Question was about Schilling's performance last night. The Yankees have the best lineup, but not the best pitching. Question was about Schilling's performance last night.
You didn't watch it, did you? Well, at least you did a good job of covering.
CJ (Farmville, VA): Hey Joe, hope things are well where you are. You think this may finally be the year the Angels win it all?
Joe Morgan: The only thing that concerns me with the Angels it their shortage of power. You can eliminate Vladimir by not pitching to him. He's the only consistent
KT: Cue the band! (Again.)
power hitter on that team. I love watching them play, because they play the way the game is supposed to be played.
They use bats when batting, gloves when fielding, and do not at any time introduce footballs into the field of play or run the bases backwards.
Adam (Chicago, IL): Hey Joe, do the cubs still have a shot at the postseason without soriano?
KT: And before you answer, could you ramble on for a few sentences in a way that creates a like mobius-word-strip of confusing redundancies?
Joe Morgan: Well, the next month will let us know. I thought they were going to get to the postseason with him in there. Milwaukee's still not playing well. I think he was the key to their team, because he's been the addition that's been a big key to the ballclub.
Great. He was the key to their team, because he's been the addition that's been a big key to the ballclub.Perfect. Now go ahead and answer the question.
It's not going to be easy, but they can still make the postseason.
Carl (NY): Hey Joe, watched you gorwin up, you were one of the best ever! How much does switching leagues hurt a player, say like Luis Castillo, who played their entire career in the other league?
KT: Those of you who don't get this reference, see the post below, which recaps a recent broadcast wherein Joe asserted that Luis Castillo, he of 10+ years in Florida, was unfamiliar with Wrigley Field's winds because he had spent his entire career in the AL. Much hay was made of this, both on our site and many others. How will Joe respond?
Joe Morgan: It used to be a big difference in the leagues. The umpires used to be different. The AL was a breaking ball league. The NL was a fastball league. It's changed now because the umpires are all the same, the players switch leagues more.
Ah. He won't even notice. Why should he, I guess?
Jacob (Denver): The Rockies are planning on getting a big time pitcher this offseason, if this happens, do you see them becoming World Series contenders next year? The offense has been amazing, all they need is another ace to complement Francis.
Joe Morgan: I see them being a contender. You have to be a contender for a period of time before you win the World Series. But it depends on what's happening with the baseballs up there. When they were scoring all the runs up there, I didn't think they had a chance. But now they're definitely a better team. But it will take a while for the World Series.
KT: First of all I'm not sure you have to be "a contender" for a "period of time" before you win the WS. Recent history might not bear that out, if you think about it.
Also, read that answer again. As one reviewer wrote of Thomas Pynchon's seminal 1973 masterpiece Gravity's Rainbow (I may be paraphrasing, from memory): "Turgid, dense, opaque, unreadable."
Matt (Grand Rapids): Is Detroit's slump just part of a long season or is there more to it than that? Joe Morgan: It's a combination. It's a long season, you can't stay consistent
KT: "Consistency" three-peat!
for that long. Any time Sheffield's not in the lineup. He's a big subtraction from the lineup. But injuries take their tolls on everybody. If Ortiz went out in Boston, it would change their lineup.
For the record, an actual non-pablum-dribbling analyst might suggest that the Tigers' post-ASB team ERA of 5.35 and Team WHIP of 1.52 might have more to do with their shoddy play than Gary Sheffield not being in the line-up every day.
SprungOnSports (Long Island): What do you see the Caridinals doing this offseason in terms of the players and management?
Joe Morgan: I don't really think they have that good of a chance this season. But the game's not over until it's over.
KT: The season, however, is probably over on August 7 if you are seven games out of first and have been outscored by one hundred runs. (That's insane, by the way. The Cardinals' Expected Win-Loss is 44-65, and they are only seven games out of first.)
Their starting pitching is not too good. But that's why they play the games. The games still have to be played.
Number one analyst on number one baseball-broadcasting network in the world. Multiple Emmy-winner. Joe.
Mitchell Woulf ( coleman,wisconsin): will A-Rod ever pass Bonds
Joe Morgan: A-Rod has the ability to hit over 756 HRs, but it's a long way from 500 to 756. And Barry says he'll play again next year. It's a long ways from there. Injuries, a lot of things can happen. There are a lot of guys on pace to do it, look at Griffey Jr.
KT: I wouldn't say there are "a lot of guys on pace to do it." In fact, because I am lazy, I will first link this piece by Nate Silver of BP, which goes into great detail about the subject, and second, I will turn this one over to reader John, who did a lot of boring number crunching.
Griffey has 589 and is 37 - he needs 167 for 756
How about guys under 30 w/ over 400 HR? None. How about under 30 with over 300? Also none. So who is "on pace"?
Adam Dunn - 228 @ age 27 - needs 528 or 53/yr for 10 years. Pujols - 274 @ "27" - 482. Assuming he play until he's "40" he needs 37 HR/yr Eric Chavez is 29 and has 227 and might not see 300... Adrian Beltre: 208 @ 28 - 548 to go Aramis Ramirez: 212 @ 29 - only 544 more!
Why did I pick those guys? Because they're the only active guys under 30 w/ more than 200.
So - let's say you need to have over 100 HR and be under 25 years old?
Congratulations, Miguel Cabrera. You are "a lot of guys."
Christian (Culver City, CA): Hey Joe, with the Dodgers not pulling the trigger on a power hitter at the deadline, you have to believe they are regretting it with their recent slide.
Joe Morgan: Well, they should have regretted it from the beginning. They've always needed a bat. They only have Jeff Kent as a slugger. They should have seen that a long time ago. I don't know why they didn't make a trade. They didn't want to trade their younger players. They'll just have to ride it out. They don't have enough offense to win the west.
KT: Current Standings, NL West, and # of runs scored for each team
1. Arizona - 467 2. San Diego - 477 3. Not-Enough-Offense-to-Win-the-West L.A. Dodgers - 506
I swear, Joe Morgan has never looked anything up in his entire life.
Rick SD: Do you think there is often too much weight and kudos given to individual stat data accomplishments in what is supposed to be a team sport?
Joe Morgan: Finally somebody that understands the game. You're right. Statistics are overrated. What you do to help your team win is what it's all about. These stats like OPS, it doesn't tell you what you do for the team. To my opinion, to help the team, you drive in runs or score runs. That helps the team. That's how you should be judged.
KT: We may need to create a whole second blog called FireThisChatAnswer.
Stats like OPS -- though I would prefer EqA, or WARP, or Win Shares or something -- tell you pretty accurately what you do for the team. No, they do not tell you certain things about hitting cut-off men, or taking an extra base on a single to center against Juan Pierre, or how you backed up a throw to second that prevented the winning run getting to third with one out in the ninth inning of a tie game on the road. But: they tell you a lot about how valuable you are on an everyday basis.
The craziest thing is, Joe isn't even arguing this with the classic "things that don't show up in the box scores" gambit. He is arguing -- and I really can't believe this even as I type it -- that Runs Scored and RBI are more valuable statistics than, for example, OPS.
Never mind the fact that he began the answer by saying that individual stats are overrated, and then proceeded to say that what does matter are two individual stats: runs scored and RBI. Let's just focus on how hilarious it is that with Joe's system, Julio Lugo (49 RBI) is doing more for his team than Placido Polanco, Corey Hart, Hunter Pence, Ryan Garko, or Joe Mauer. Or that Juan Pierre (66 R) is more valuable than Ryan Howard, Derrek Lee, Justin Morneau, Jorge Posada, Vlad Guerrero, or Carlos Pena.
For the last time (not really): runs scored is largely a product of other people on your team. RBI are largely a product of the other people on your team. Stats like EqA, or more crudely, OPS, are individual measures of how you impact your team independent of everyone else on your team. And thus, a better way to judge a player's contributions. This is not fucking rocket science. Jon (CT): Do the Mets have the pitching to make it through the postseason this year?
Joe Morgan: The Mets pitching was supposedly a problem last year. Not only did they win the division easily, they got to the 7th game of the NLCS. It tells me how good of a manager Willie Randolph is. There aren't any perfect teams. There aren't any teams without weaknesses. The Mets' weakness is their starting pitching. Their lineup is so much better than everyone elses.
Mets 2007 NL Ranks:
Runs: 7th OPS: 6th
ERA: 2nd BAA: 1st
Never looks anything up. Joe Morgan: Let's hope Barry can hit 756 and get this over with, because it is not being represented properly by the media. Let's get it over with and move on.
KT: Here. I'll write the proper press release, as Joe would like it:
SAN FRANCISCO - Aug. 7, 2007 With one swing of the bat, Barry Bonds tonight made controversy-free history by belting his 756th career untainted home run, passing Hank Aaron in a completely natural and positive way.
In a world tainted by scandal, baseball fans everywhere rejoiced at the magnificent achievement by this pillar of the community, who has never done one single thing in his professional or personal life that could possibly cloud this moment with unpleasantness.
"How does it feel?" asked Bonds, in a non-chemically-enhanced post-game press conference. "It feels clean."