Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

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

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008


It's Cool

It's cool everybody. Everything's cool.

Jason Bartlett was voted MVP of the Tampa Bay Rays by the Tampa Bay chapter of the BBWAA.

I know, I know, he's supposed to be a very good defender. But let me say some things about Jason Bartlett: He's missed like 30 games this year; he's hit three fewer home runs this year than Carlos Zambrano; he's 8th on his own team in VORP; and he plays on the same team as Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria, and B.J. Upton.

I just want to announce here on this blog, that if any baseball analyst of any kind tells me that "you really have to watch Jason Bartlett play every day to understand how much he means to this team," and that same analyst is found drowned at the bottom of my hot tub the next morning, and I am found standing upon that corpse, in the hot tub, wearing my trunks and a hoodie and just relaxing and smoking a joint, and maybe ordering a pizza or something, and instructing the delivery guy to come in through the gate because I'm in the back standing on a body in my hot tub -- if all of that happens, I would really appreciate if someone could meet me outside, by my hot tub, and float me a few dollars for the pizza, because I will be in no mood to get off of that corpse, or get out of the hot tub for that matter, and plus I will probably have forgotten to bring some money out to the hot tub with me.

Thanks guys. You're the best.

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posted by dak  # 3:34 AM
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Monday, July 21, 2008


Awards Are Important

I go to New York for five days and Murray Chass starts a blog? What the hell is going on here?

Let's cleanse our collective palate with a lime sorbet known as: Phil Rogers's Mid-Season Awards.

Quick review: awards are meaningless, the criteria are absurd, this is all bunk.

Worst Surprise, Player: Johan Santana, Mets.

In the time it takes to read the explanation, try to name 50 guys who are "worse" surprises than Johan Santana. Go!

Who would have thought this guy would fail to grab a spot on the National League All-Star team?

Anyone who (a) understands that wins are overvalued and/or (b) knows that the ASG voting is borderline sociopathic, as evidenced by the facts that (b-sub1) Cristian Guzman had to be on the team as the Washington National representative and (b-sub2) that somehow the NL players or Clint Hurdle or a bunch of pederastic chimps or whoever actually chooses the reserves got together and decided that (b-sub2-sub1) Miguel Tejada and (b-sub2-sub2) Brian Effing Wilson should be on the All-Star Team, despite the fact that (b-sub2-sub1-sub1) Lance Berkman and (b-sub2-sub2-sub1) Tim Lincecum were already representing their respective teams and actually deserved to be there.

A two-time Cy Young Award winner in the AL, he was expected to dominate after being traded from Minnesota to the Mets. He pitched well, statistically, in the first half, going 8-7 with a 2.84 ERA in 19 starts.


Trying to parse your complaint.

Categories Johan Santana Is In The Top 10 of So Far, In The National League:


But the Mets have been only 10-9 behind him.

How can you be this stupid?

The man is pitching very very well, as the above facts indicate. It's not his absolute best year ever, but he's having a very good year. You acknowledge that the team is only 10-9 behind him. And this is all presented in service of his election to "Worst Surprise, Player" in your mid-season awards.

I don't normally like to be strident, but that is incredibly stupid.

Let's imagine I am part of a 25-man team that makes frozen 4-cheese ravioli dinners. And every time I'm on a shift, I take my syringe and I expertly inject the pasta with goat cheese (my task) and I have like a 99.4% success rate of successful goat cheese injection, and when my raviolis go on to the next man on my team, ready for edam infusion, they are just perfectly formed and looking tasty and delicious. And by the time they reach the end of the assembly line, they are torn to shreds, leaking gouda, and somehow covered in bat feces -- so bad are the other men on Team Ravioli.

So my boss, Hunt Sperkleman, C.E.O. of Sperkleman Four Cheese Ravioli and Penne Arrabiata, Inc. (NASDAQ Ticker: SFCR: 92.50, +10.68, +13.1% as of Monday, 12:02 PM EST, thanks to rumors of a takeover bid from Sheinhardt Wigs), comes down to the assembly line, and he looks around and he sees all the morons on my team. He sees W.K. Horflitz, whose nose is running directly into the pasta cutter. He sees Janet Przyblr, who's on the phone, gabbing with her new husband, as chunk after chunk of unmelted brie just goes rolling by on the assembly line. He sees them all, and he says: "Ken! You're disappointing me!" and I say: "Why, Hunt?" and he says, "Only 8 out of 15 people who eat these raviolis like them!" and I say, "But I did my job!" and he says, "You can go ahead and end this metaphor now -- I think people get the idea."

The good news is that Santana is historically a fast finisher, although Thursday didn't bode well. He gave up five runs in four innings against the Reds.


On April 6 he gave up one run in 7 IP against the Braves and got a loss.

On May 4 he gave up one run in 6 IP with 8 Ks against the D-Backs and got an ND.

On June 6 he gave up one earnie in 6 IP and got a loss thanks to a second, unearned run.

In his next start, June 12, he gave up 3 H and 0 R in 7 IP (with 10 Ks) and got an ND because his team also scored 0 R in those 7 innings.

He then lost three decisions in a row, twice pitching okay, once going 7 strong against Seattle, giving up 7 H and 1 run but losing anyway because again, his offense did nothing.

He got another ND on July 4, going 8 innings, giving up only 6 H and 2 R, striking out 6 and walking zero, but -- and you see this trend emerging here -- his offense fell down like one of those little plastic deer when you push the button underneath its pedestal, causing its legs to collapse.

Here are the scores of the games the Mets have lost with Santana pitching, and the # of earned runs Santana gave up while in the game:

3-2 (2)
3-2 (3)
5-2 (1)
6-1 (4)
5-4 (0)
2-1 (1)
4-2 (3)
5-3 (4)
3-1 (1)

So, in the nine Santana-involved losses the Mets have suffered, they, the Mets, have scored a total of 18 runs. 2 runs a game. Their offense averages 2 runs a game, in those losses. And this face somehow makes Johan Santana the "Worst Surprise, Player" of the first half.

Let's go back to the assignment. How many Worse Surprises can you name?

Richie Sexson
Freddie Sanchez
Edgar Renteria
Melky Cabrera
Jeff Francoeur
Gary Matthews, Jr.
Robby Cano
Paul Konerko
Carl Crawford
Derek Jeter
Alex Gordon
Alex Rios
Miggy Tejada
Defending NL MVP Jimmy Rollins
Bobby Abreu
Brett Myers
Justin Verlander
Nate Robertson
Andrew Miller
Joe Blanton
Aaron Harang
Homer Bailey
Dontrelle Willis
Fernando Rodney
Ian Kennedy
Phil Hughes
Fausto Carmona
Jeremy Bonderman
Roy Oswalt

There are some.

All big-name players, pretty much, who have been disappointments (though some, like Verlander, are coming on strong). Hey -- how about Carlos Delgado? There's another one.

Rookie of the Year, AL: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox.

Ellsbury is hitting only .269 but he has stolen 35 bases and scored 60 runs. He gets a slight edge over Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria and Texas' David Murphy.

Tacoby Bellsbury EqA: .255 (below average)
Evan Longoria EqA: .303 (way above average)

Please. I love the guy. He's part Native American, and quite sexy, but if you give Bellsbury the award you are doing so because of what he did last September and October, and that's insaner than insane. Longoria is destroying Bellsbury statistically this year -- and he's a great fielder, too. It would be a shame if Longoria lost.

Manager of the Year, NL: Jerry Manuel, Mets.

Get ready for some hard-core retroactive association.

This is a premature call, but you've got to be impressed with the 17-9 record since Manuel replaced Willie Randolph on June 17.

I do? The Mets underperformed all year. Then a thing changed, and they eventually started not underperforming. Should I be impressed with their 8-9 start after Randolph left? Because that's the awesome record they jumped out to in their first 17 games after Randolph left. 8-9. Thank God they got rid of him when they did, or they wouldn't have been able to go 8-9 in those next 17 games.

He has enabled an uptight clubhouse to relax and is riding a 10-game winning streak after Thursday's victory in Cincinnati.

This is all Manuel. Not Reyes, Pelfrey, Wright, Delgado, Beltran, Wagner, Maine, or anyone else. Manuel.

Florida's Fredi Gonzalez was looking like the choice before the Mets went on the winning streak. He has put his team into contention with a $21 million payroll, a nice little bit of sleight of hand.

Has had team in contention all year with payroll lower than salary of Derek Jeter, or ARod, or Giambi: nice little bit of sleight of hand.

Happened to be managing team with $680 million payroll when team finally stopped underperforming and reeled off 10 in a row: Manager of Year.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 3:37 PM
H/T: everyone who sent us this, starting with Jake.
Slade sez:

You talked about...the June 12 D-back game where Santana went 7, with 3 hits, 3 BB, and 10 Ks and got an ND. However, it wasn't because his offense didn't score for him. They actually had a 4-0 lead when Santana left. Then, in the middle of a huge, week-long meltdown, Billy Wagner blew the save in the 9th and the D-backs came back to win in the 10th.

Here's the PBP for it. Kinda sad, really...

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Friday, December 14, 2007


Award Watch

The 2007 FJM Food Metaphor of the Year Award is a lock. Take it away, Wojo:

The Mitchell investigation was doomed from the beginning. The report itself is 409 pages of cotton candy -- wisps of truth teased into a Don King hairdo full of air, hearsay and perhaps wishful thinking. Blow softly on it and it bends and rips apart.

"A Don King hairdo full of air." My God it''s so beautiful.

Of course there are still three weeks or so left, and you know that December is when the media outlets release all of their award-hopeful food metaphors. But my vote is in.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 11:15 AM
Many thanks to Tom H. for the tip.
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Thursday, November 22, 2007


Thanksgiving? More Like Nothanksgiving (I'm Talking About Bill Conlin)!

Hey, Bill Conlin just wrote an article about Jimmy Rollins winning the MVP. Guess what? Squanto could have written a better article. That's right. I said it. Squanto. (I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, can't I read just one sabermetrically-inclined meta-commentary "comedy" blog without running into a Squanto joke? The answer: no, you cannot. Squanto.)

Bill Conlin | Rollins' winning numbers

I'm guessing Conlin didn't write this headline. Numbers can't win, dummy! Teams win. Players win. Guts win. The only numbers that matter are the numbers that measure the size of your heart (and guess what: these numbers don't exist because heart can't be measured!!!)

TO APPRECIATE the sheer scope of Jimmy Rollins epic run to yesterday's MVP award, you almost have to forget he plays a position where defense has always been the No. 1 priority.

Keep this in mind while you read this article: Jimmy Rollins did not -- emphatically did not deserve to win the MVP award, because he was indisputably not close to being the most valuable of players. He was, humorously, something like 9th or 10th, or hell, if we're being friendly, maybe in the top 5. Maybe.

And while the American League has had two freaks of nature who have put up engine room numbers at shortstop - Cal Ripken and the pre-third base Alex Rodriguez - the National League hasn't seen anything quite like the season the Flying Fireplug regaled us with last season since Ernie Banks. Not from a shortstop.

Yes, perfectly valid, except for the fact that Rollins was offensively outplayed by a shortstop in his own league this very year. 2007. The year we're talking about.

Flying Fireplug
OBP .344
OPS+ 118
EqA .298
BtRuns 15.0
VORP 66.1

Shitty Assplug
OBP .386
OPS+ 145
EqA .323
BtRuns 42.1
VORP 89.5

Shitty Assplug plays for the Florida Marlins. So yeah, instead of saying "the National League hasn't seen a season quite like this one since 1842!" a better thing to say would be "a season like this hasn't been seen since a season happening at this exact same time, only totally better in almost every way!"

No middle infielder has ever stocked a trophy case in one season with a record 716 at-bats, 212 hits, 139 runs scored, 38 doubles, 20 triples, 30 home runs, 41 stolen bases, 380 total bases and a big man's slugging percentage of .531.

Shitty Assplug, Redux: 212 hits, 125 runs scored, 48 doubles, 6 triples, 29 home runs, 51 stolen bases, 359 total bases, and a shitty man's slugging percentage of .562. Fewer at bats, and 68 fewer outs.

Jimmy Rollins made more outs than any MVP in the history of the National League.

I defy anyone to show me the trophy you get for having a slugging percentage of .531. In my imagination, it's shaped like the numbers 531, made of osmium, and totally invisible, because it doesn't exist EVEN IN MY IMAGINATION.

Rollins became just the fourth player in big league history to have 20 or more doubles, triples, homers and stolen bases in a single season, joining the 1911 Cubs' Wildfire Schulte, some guy named Willie Mays and 2007 Tigers centerfield dervish Curtis Granderson.

Another guy who played this year. And this quadruple-20 shit is so meaningless it's embarrassing. How many baseball writers do you think allowed that to influence their vote? All of them? I say all of them.

Do you know only one man in history has accrued 16 doubles, 83 runs, 6 walks, 42 hit by pitches, and 134 caught stealings? That man is Alan Alda (2004 Diamondbacks).

Jimmy Rollins is what you get when you cross a ballet dancer with a bulldog.

The other thing you get when you cross these things is a horrifying pornographic film. Then boom, Rollins pops out.

Despite his defensive contribution being backhanded by Red Sox front office stat man Bill James - baseball's most influential cybergeek - the league's managers and coaches awarded him a Gold Glove.

Probably a mistake. Though that's impossible -- the Gold Glove voters are infallible. They've never done anything wrong or silly or downright embarrassing and indefensible.

Apparently, James decided that a Range Factor based on successful chances (putouts plus assists) times nine innings, divided by number of defensive innings played is more important than the result - for example, a friggin' out. Despite his No. 3 fielding percentage of .985 (behind Troy Tulowitzki's .987 and Omar Vizquel's .986) Rollins rated No. 15 in the James Range Factor. Fortunately, the baseball men who vote for the Gold Gloves depend on what they see, not laptop science. Jose Reyes, a nimble windshield wiper, ranked No. 25 in RF.

And "laptop science" goes directly into the Label bin. Thank you, Bill Conlin.

The diminishing criticisms revolved around an on-base percentage that just didn't equate to the demands of a table-setter.

How were we to know that what Rollins had in mind was not only setting the table, but consuming the meal and then clearing it with a dish-scattering flurry of offense?

Food metaphors. Gold mine. Loving it. Hey, Bill, also, great point you're making here that totally undermines your article. Jimmy Rollins was fucking 47th in the NL in OBP. 47th. Shane Victorino out-OBP-ed this flying fireplug. Rollins was 7th in the league out of 14 qualified shortstops. Lower than Jack Wilson.

Now Conlin gets really crazy and starts comparing Jimmy to Ernie Banks.

Banks was superb in 1958-59, leading the league in homers and RBI, but Rollins scored more runs this year, had more hits, more steals, doubles and triples. Banks had 32 errors in '58, just 12 in '59 but his range was starting to erode by then.

Since you're really close-minded to new ideas, I'm going to be super ageist and assume you're very, very old -- that you reek of embalming fluid and Centrum Silver, that you give out buckwheat pennies at Halloween -- so I'll speak up: YOU CAN'T COMPARE COUNTING STATS ACROSS ERAS AND BALLPARKS.

The league OPS in 1958 (adjusted for Banks' home ballpark) was .752. This year it was .794 (adjusted for Rollins' home park). If you insist on getting really dumb, the batting average in 1958 was .267, compared to .279 this year. I feel dirty just writing that, but maybe, just maybe, it will help Bill understand what he's doing wrong. PEOPLE SCORED MORE RUNS THIS YEAR.

Banks OPS+ 156
Rollins OPS+ 118

This is stupid.

I was concerned that Rockies hitting dynamo Matt Holliday, the close runner-up, might steal the election with the hanging chad of his heroic batwork in the Rockies dramatic comeback playoff victory over the Diamondbacks. I could envision BBWAA ball writers ready to e-mail the results of a season extended to 163 games, needing just to fill in lines 1 and 2.

And just when you think Bill Conlin is done -- just when you think he can't top the inanity, uninformeditude, and just plain willful ignorance he's exhibited in the first 95% of the article, he slams you with the hanging chad reference. Well played, Conlin. You may not be knowledgeable about baseball, but you're a hell of a comedy writer. You've just made a believer out of me.

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posted by Junior  # 1:09 AM
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Friday, November 16, 2007


Phil Rogers Tinkers With Stats; 4 Dead, Logic Wounded

This is going to be annoying to break down. But I can't ignore an article that says that ERA is three times as important as any other stat for a pitcher.

Forget "poor" Josh Beckett. If anyone got overlooked in American League Cy Young voting, it was the Los Angeles Angels' John Lackey, not the Boston Red Sox's Beckett.

Who has been whining about "poor" Josh Beckett? What are those quotes for? I am the biggest Red Sox fan in the world, and I have absolutely no problem with C.C. Sabathia winning the Cy Young award. It was the right choice.

Sabthia: 241 innings with a 1.141 WHIP, a 209/37 K/BB ratio and a 143 ERA+.
Beckett: 200.2 innings with an identical 1.141 WHIP, a 194/40 K/BB ratio, and a 145 ERA+.

An additional 40 innings with the same, excellent WHIP and a better K/BB ratio = better year. That's pretty uncontroversial.


Lackey: 224 innings with a higher 1.210 WHIP, a 179/52 K/BB ratio and a 151 ERA+.

So, better adjusted ERA than Sabathia, but fewer innings, and a significantly worse K/BB ratio (and thus higher WHIP).

This article should now pretty much be over.

Sure, if you factor in the regular season and the postseason, Beckett was the best pitcher in the majors in 2007—a combined 24-7 with a 3.00 earned-run average. It's no accident his team won the World Series.

Again, no argument from me that Beckett should not have won -- nor from any other rational human who understands that post-season stats do not count toward this voting. Sabathia > Beckett in 2007.

But the Cy Young Award, like the other awards the Baseball Writers Association of America hands out, is about getting your team into the playoffs, not carrying them once they're there. They are regular-season awards, and as such, Beckett should not have been better than third in the tight, four-pitcher race involving C.C. Sabathia (the winner by a nose), Fausto Carmona, Lackey and Beckett.

Well, now, hang on there, Sparky.

Carmona: 215 innings, a pretty pedestrian 137/61 K/BB ratio, a 1.209 WHIP (thanks to that crazy sinker thing he throws) and a 151 ERA+.

I'd say that the 60 or so more Ks and fewer walks puts Beckett's year ahead of Carmona's. Carmona's is almost identical to Lackey's, really. In fact, they're all super close. I'm not sure there's a great argument to be made that Lackey or Carmona had a better year than Beckett, except that they did throw more innings...but not many more, and Beckett allowed fewer baserunners per's probably the closest 4-man race in a long time. I'd say C.C. is the clear winner, Beckett is second, and Lackey and Carmona tie for third.

This was a fascinating vote, in large part because only one victory separated the four of them (Beckett had 20, the other three 19).

The victory total is the absolute worst possible way to compare or contrast their levels of success.

I have no problem with Sabathia winning, but Lackey would have gotten my vote if I had been voting. He led the AL with a 3.01 ERA. Carmona was second at 3.06, followed by Sabathia in fifth at 3.21 and Beckett in sixth at 3.27. No stat better tells the story for pitchers than ERA.

No stat better tells the story for pitchers than ERA.


Carmona: 3.06 (73 Earned Runs)
Lackey: 3.01 (75 Earned Runs)
Beckett: 3.27 (73 Earned Runs)
Sabathia: 3.21 (86 Earned Runs)

This is not a story. This is simply a coarse measure of runs scored, which can be affected by relief pitchers. How many of these runs were inherited by relievers who had bad days? How many other runs were saved by relief pitchers who had good games? The story of ERA (not even park adjusted, for goodness sake?) is a fairy tale with a morally ambiguous ending. It's a Golden Book in a dentist's office with 6 pages ripped out by a hyperactive kid. It's a Richard Bachman novel. It's a terrible story.

WHIP, on the other hand, for example, measures an individual pitcher's effectiveness per inning. That's better, for a lot of reasons which should be self-evident.***

For the sake of argument, I put together a simple formula to compare the top four Cy Young vote-getters. It ranks them among each other in victories, losses, ERA, innings and strikeouts. Because I think ERA is the most important, I've given it twice the weight. That formula gives Sabathia a slight edge over Lackey and a significant edge over Beckett and Carmona, who would be tied for third.

I have created a similar formula for judging the viability of the Democratic Presidential candidates. It ranks them among each other in health care plans, economic proposals, interest in aliens, and foreign policy. Because I think interest in aliens is the most important, I have given it twice the weight. That formula gives Dennis Kucinich a slight edge over Clinton, and a significant edge over Edwards and Obama.

If you weighed ERA three times as heavily as the other four stats, you would have a tie between Sabathia and Lackey, with Beckett dropping to a clear fourth.

If you weighed interest in aliens three times as heavily as the other stats, you would have a tie with Kucinich and Alf.

Sabathia's edge over the other guys comes down to leading the league innings and strikeouts.

Innings and strikeouts? What kind of stupid ways are those to measure the effectiveness of a pitcher, whose job is to throw as many innings as possible, and whose best possible outcome in any one at bat is a strikeout? Talk to me when you start weighing Skewed Angle of Cap Brim three times as heavily as strikeouts. Then you get Sabathia in a cake walk. Or Number of Shark Teeth on Necklace 3x as highly as Ks, which gives the award -- for the ninth year in a row -- to Turk Wendell.

That achievement may have contributed to the Indians not going to the World Series, as Sabathia and Carmona clearly wore down during the championship series against Boston.

Sorry -- real quick -- thought we weren't supposed to take anything that happened in the postseason into account, here, birdbrain. Remember when you wrote this -- "the Cy Young Award, like the other awards the Baseball Writers Association of America hands out, is about getting your team into the playoffs, not carrying them once they're there" -- like eleven seconds ago?

Beckett looked the freshest of the Cy Young contenders in October—no wonder; he barely threw 200 innings during the regular season, the lowest total.

Quick recap of the insinuations of the last two sentences: Sabathia threw the most innings in the regular seaosn? He does not deserve the Cy Young Award more than John Lackey, because throwing that many innings led to him being worn down in the post-season. Also, Josh Beckett does not deserve the Cy Young Award because he threw the fewest innings in the regular season, leading him to be fresh in the post-season.

Take that, logic!

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 12:28 PM
Been reading some discussion that the more SABR you go, the better Carmona looks. In VORP, for instance, it goes:


In SNVA (Support-Neutral Value Added), the ranking is:


And then if you do something crazy like look at SNLVAR (Support-Neutral Lineup-Adjusted Value Added Over Replacement):

Dude. That shit is nerdy. And I love stats.
*** Dave poses an excellent question:

Why mention the influence of relievers on a pitcher's ERA but not the influence of fielders on a pitcher's WHIP?

I'll tell you why, Dave. Because I'm a dummy, that's why.

For what it's worth, if you neutralize each pitcher's defense DIPS-style, you find some interesting shizz, which is this:

Sabathia: 3.09
Beckett: 3.04
Lackey: 3.48
Carmona: 3.92

Here's the link.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Deal With This, People.

ARod is the most "clutch" hitter in baseball. According to noted baseball sabermetric analysts the Pepsi Bottling Corporation.

The irony verily drips from my screen.

Thanks to Ben for the tip.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 11:57 PM
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