Monday, January 31, 2005

Scroll down for the drill; here's the link to Pinto's post. I'll list the actual runs above average before the numbers prorated to a full season, just because that makes more sense to me.

And another thing: remember, this is just one season, so the below is not meant to represent a player's true talent level. Even if I believed 100% in this method, which I don't, I don't believe Steve Finley is as good a defender as Carlos Beltran, even if we grant the premise that they had defensive seasons of equal quality in 2004.

My hope is that doing this will make comparisons between Pinto's method and UZR, as well as the non-play-by-play metrics, easier. Pinto's giving us plays above expected, which we can convert to plays above average for any one year. So someone's 20 plays better than average, what does that mean? This is the attempt to figure that out.

I should also note that the conversions for outfielders are less exact than those of middle infielders. Practically every ball that gets by a middle infielder is a single. Outfielders, by contrast, allow hits of every stripe. In converting Pinto's outs to runs, we have to make the assumption that each outfielder prevents singles at the same rate he prevents doubles or triples. This assumption is obviously false. However, UZR is, to the best of my knowledge, the only semi-public system that gives an outfielder more credit for preventing a double than preventing a single.

When you're measuring range by a number like Pinto's or zone rating, you're basically measuring OBP Against for a defender. But to figure out runs, you also need SLG. For middle infielders, that's pretty simple, because they're damn near equal. For outfielders, not so much.

All of which is to say that while I'm pretty confident that the numbers I've posted for the middle infielders credibly convert Pinto's numbers to runs, I am far less confident that it will be credible for other positions.

Anyway, here we go with the estimates:

Player            Runs Above Average

Corey Patterson 23.2023
Andruw Jones 17.9346
Jay Payton 13.5458
Mark Kotsay 10.5679
Vernon Wells 10.3257
Wily Mo Pena 8.4441
Tike Redman 6.5660
Jim Edmonds 6.5610
Marquis Grissom 6.5509
Luis Matos 6.4773
Endy Chavez 5.7220
Mike Cameron 5.5610
Luis Terrero 5.2436
Torii Hunter 4.8814
Grady Sizemore 3.8561
Lew Ford 3.1165
Preston Wilson 2.5552
Scott Podsednik 1.2540
Laynce Nix 1.0132
Milton Bradley 0.7521
Rocco Baldelli 0.6342
Coco Crisp 0.6181
Nook P Logan 0.5977
Kenny Lofton -1.4825
Craig Biggio -1.8034
Juan Pierre -1.9508
Marlon Byrd -2.3406
Jason Michaels -2.9727
Aaron Rowand -5.3107
Johnny Damon -5.3634
Carlos Beltran -5.4549
Steve Finley -5.7894
Jeromy Burnitz -6.0519
Chone Figgins -7.7018
David DeJesus -11.2500
Alex Sanchez -12.5832
Ken Griffey Jr. -15.4196
Randy Winn -16.9601
Garret Anderson -18.7756
Bernie Williams -24.9356

Player            Runs Above Average

per 4000 BIP
Wily Mo Pena 27.8975
Corey Patterson 24.2383
Jay Payton 17.2400
Andruw Jones 17.2343
Grady Sizemore 14.9376
Luis Terrero 14.5414
Lew Ford 12.1327
Vernon Wells 11.7733
Mark Kotsay 11.1039
Luis Matos 10.7882
Tike Redman 7.2156
Preston Wilson 7.1436
Jim Edmonds 7.0270
Endy Chavez 6.9334
Marquis Grissom 6.9037
Mike Cameron 5.9033
Torii Hunter 5.8416
Nook P Logan 2.0338
Laynce Nix 1.4788
Milton Bradley 1.2868
Scott Podsednik 1.2095
Coco Crisp 1.0063
Rocco Baldelli 0.7800
Juan Pierre -1.8269
Kenny Lofton -3.5727
Marlon Byrd -4.1219
Craig Biggio -4.4031
Carlos Beltran -5.1461
Steve Finley -5.5767
Johnny Damon -5.6515
Aaron Rowand -6.8090
Jason Michaels -11.8849
Jeromy Burnitz -14.9184
David DeJesus -19.0537
Randy Winn -20.5267
Alex Sanchez -24.1691
Ken Griffey Jr. -29.6898
Chone Figgins -29.7593
Garret Anderson -31.3781
Bernie Williams -38.1217
The suckage of the Angel "centerfielders" of Anaheim should come as no surprise. And we do have the pleasing result of having both Andruw Jones and Jim Edmonds coming out pretty well; Zone Rating thinks Edmonds is pretty good and hates Jones, where UZR loves Jones and thinks Edmonds is terrible. So that seems to make sense.

There are surprises, though. Let's compare to UZR again:

Player    PMR    UZR    Difference

Winn -17 +22 39
Griffey -15 -52 37
Edmonds + 7 -24 31
Grissom + 7 -19 26
Nix + 1 -23 24
Finley - 6 -28 22
Payton +13 +34 21
Rowand - 5 +16 21
Bernie -25 -44 19
Chavez + 6 +22 16
Burnitz - 6 -22 16
Baldelli + 1 -15 16
Redman + 7 +20 13
Patterson +23 +32 11
Hunter + 5 +16 11
Kotsay +11 + 9 2
Garret -19 -17 2
As you can see, there are some huge, huge differences here. I'm sure part of that is because of what I discussed up top: not all outfielders prevent the same type of hits equally. But that can't be the only explanation.

(By the way, anyone have any ideas on how Ken Griffey Jr. was -52 runs in 78 games? That's what UZR is, and that just seems crazy. -52 runs!)

David Pinto has his second base numbers up, so as I did with shortstops yesterday, here's an attempt to put that into runs. This time, I'll give you runs prevented per 4000 balls in play (which appears to be roughly a full season) as well as actual runs above average so we can see the regulars without all the small sample size interlopers.

Player          Runs Above Average

per 4000 BIP
Chase Utley 39.6504
Nick Green 29.8582
Willie Harris 26.7980
Bill Hall 26.4337
Orlando Hudson 25.9354
Mark Loretta 20.5481
Placido Polanco 17.9412
Tony Graffanino 17.7581
Luis Rivas 16.9561
Aaron Miles 14.3585
Rey Sanchez 14.0826
Jeff Kent 12.9995
Juan Uribe 12.8216
Mark Grudzielanek 11.1060
Keith Ginter 8.6658
Junior Spivey 7.3010
D'Angelo Jimenez 5.8478
Luis Castillo 4.1346
Omar Infante 1.7293
Alex Cora -0.3362
Bret Boone -1.1137
Alfonso Soriano -1.8485
Adam Kennedy -1.8888
Tony Womack -1.9660
Brian Roberts -2.3235
Mark McLemore -2.7343
Jose Castillo -3.9181
Ronnie Belliard -4.4164
Marcus Giles -5.6248
Danny Garcia -5.9944
Ray Durham -14.0173
Todd Walker -14.8814
Jose Hernandez -15.2068
Marco Scutaro -18.0686
Scott A Hairston -18.1780
Jamey Carroll -19.6685
Geoff Blum -21.3877
Ruben A Gotay -23.7138
Jose Reyes -28.4624
Jose Vidro -30.1419
Mark Bellhorn -31.3620
Miguel Cairo -33.8793
Enrique Wilson -50.8959

Player          Runs Above Average

Orlando Hudson 23.1362
Mark Loretta 21.0199
Willie Harris 13.6784
Nick Green 13.3358
Placido Polanco 13.0949
Aaron Miles 12.0366
Chase Utley 11.6996
Jeff Kent 11.2168
Luis Rivas 11.1845
Tony Graffanino 9.2834
Bill Hall 8.2833
Rey Sanchez 7.6695
Juan Uribe 6.2069
D'Angelo Jimenez 5.9025
Mark Grudzielanek 4.4711
Luis Castillo 3.9129
Keith Ginter 3.0645
Junior Spivey 2.9187
Omar Infante 1.1779
Alex Cora -0.2641
Mark McLemore -0.7678
Bret Boone -1.1132
Tony Womack -1.6280
Danny Garcia -1.6324
Adam Kennedy -1.7221
Alfonso Soriano -1.8038
Brian Roberts -2.3471
Jose Castillo -2.7948
Marcus Giles -3.3988
Jose Hernandez -3.8906
Ronnie Belliard -4.4523
Jamey Carroll -5.1311
Geoff Blum -6.0234
Ruben A Gotay -6.8447
Todd Walker -7.7856
Jose Reyes -7.8744
Scott A Hairston -9.7975
Ray Durham -10.7722
Marco Scutaro -13.4135
Jose Vidro -20.1436
Miguel Cairo -22.1764
Enrique Wilson -22.8735
Mark Bellhorn -24.3924
I don't know how much I believe Adam Kennedy was below-average, but there you go ... even advanced defensive metrics seem to be in their infancy, if several different sophisticated and seemingly rational systems can't always agree. Compare some of these to the few UZR numbers that have been made public:

Player     PMR     UZR   Difference

Cairo -22 +20 42
Uribe + 6 -13 19
Hudson +23 + 6 17
Castillo + 4 -12 16
Kennedy - 2 +12 14
Soriano - 2 -15 13
Roberts - 2 + 9 11
Kent +11 +20 9
Womack - 2 + 9 7
Cora 0 - 7 7
Boone - 1 + 6 7
Belliard - 4 -11 7
Miles +12 + 7 5
Scutaro -13 - 8 5
Polanco +13 +11 2
Vidro -20 -19 1
Durham -11 -11 0
Holy cow, look at Miguel Cairo! Per ball-in-play, Pinto had him next-to-last amongst all major league 2B with at least 1000 BIP, but Lichtman has him tied for first in the majors! For whatever it's worth, his Zone Rating ranked next-to-last amongst MLB qualifiers ...

We have a long way to go here, folks.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

David Pinto has published his defensive ratings of shortstops for 2004.

It occurred to me that it might be possible to convert these results into an estimate of how many runs against average each SS prevented.

To do this, I turned to Chris Dial's methodology, in which a run value is assigned to each out a defender makes. For instance, 98.7% of outs made by a SS prevent a single. A single is worth .47 runs. Each out is also just that: an out, which has a value of roughly .28 runs. So, 98.7% of the outs made by a SS prevent .75 runs. (The other 1.3% account for 1.06 runs each, because sometimes those screamers by the SS get through the gap and go to wall for extra bases.)

So, in looking at Pinto's methods, we can easily see how many outs each shortstop made against expected, which is different from average. What I did here was go through and convert those outs to runs. For all the SS's he lists, the mean Runs Against Expectation was -16.22 per 4000 balls in play (roughly the amount a full-time SS would see, maybe a bit lower). So we can compare each individual's outs per 4000 BIP against -16.22 to see how far above average they were in 2004.

For instance, David Eckstein had 3,562 balls in play against him. He made outs on 356 of these when about 400 would have been expected, based on the probabilities observed from 2002 through 2004. Using Dial's methodology, we find that he prevented 268.43 runs where 301.81 would have been expected; so he's -33.37 Runs Against Expected. We convert that to 4,000 BIP to get a number of -37.47. However, as the average SS was -16.22, that makes Eck -21.26 against average, which is pretty bad -- and quite honestly, that surprised me a great deal.

Anyway, here's the above method applied to everyone Pinto has listed for 2004:

Player          Runs Above Average per 4000 BIP

Pokey Reese 26.5559
Adam Everett 23.1330
Cristian Guzman 21.2978
Julio Lugo 18.4622
Rich Aurilia 17.2691
Bobby Crosby 15.7747
Jose C Lopez 14.2525
Jimmy Rollins 13.6555
Alex Gonzalez 13.4198
Neifi Perez 13.0626
Cesar Izturis 11.8924
Chris Woodward 11.1344
Carlos Guillen 10.8787
Chris Gomez 10.7692
Wilson Delgado 3.70296
Orlando Cabrera 3.11573
Khalil Greene 2.47566
Craig Counsell 1.89519
Jose Valentin 1.26903
Jack Wilson -1.09913
Ramon E Martinez -1.65256
Edgar Renteria -3.28747
Derek Jeter -4.39761
Jose Vizcaino -6.43863
Miguel Tejada -8.44408
Royce Clayton -8.98143
Michael Young -9.35026
Kazuo Matsui -9.70417
Deivi Cruz -11.4588
Omar Vizquel -12.7924
Alex Cintron -12.7784
Angel Berroa -14.8513
Alex S Gonzalez -15.6186
Barry Larkin -17.3740
Rafael Furcal -19.6530
David Eckstein -21.2571
Nomar Garciaparra -23.4721
Felipe Lopez -36.9916

Per Rich Lederer.

It's about damn time.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

-The Angels Mailbag on the official site has the following headline: "Can Yan beat lefties?" My initial response was: "Lefties? Yan can't even beat righties! Esteban Yan sucks."

But I don't write for MLB.com, Doug Miller does, and in his answer he declares: "Also, interestingly enough, hitters had more problems (.255 average in 42 1/3 innings) against Yan last year from the left side than they did from the right side (.292 in 44 2/3 innings)."

It's not just batting average, either. Lefties hit 255/332/339 against Yan last year in 165 AB, while righties hit 292/351/497 against him in 171 AB. What gives?

A big part of it was batting average on balls in play. When the ball was in the park, lefties had a .311 average against Yan, but righties had a .339. That's almost the whole difference right there.

Over the course of 2002-2004, RHB hit 285/341/463 in 492 AB against Yan, and LHB hit 274/353/444 in 387 AB. I don't see him as a reverse-type pitcher who is better against lefthanders.

--BPro's Triple Play Thingamajigger discusses the Angels today, and has this interesting passage:

The Angels signed Cuban defector Kendry Morales to a six-year contract in early December .... Unfortunately, the Angels have nowhere to put him. The Angels have committed to Dallas McPherson at third base and Darin Erstad just won a Gold Glove at first base. Casey Kotchman seems to have the inside track at designated hitter.

Wait a sec, Kotch has the inside track at DH? That's the first I've heard of it, which doesn't mean it's not true, but no one's really been discussing that. I suppose it is a possibility ... but I was under the impression that it would be either Morales or a DaVanon/Rivera platoon, with The Legs getting some time there after Kennedy returns. Spring Training will be quite interesting on this front ...

--Angels merchandise is assaulting LA, which is a great thing. Interesting:

Although the Angels have removed Anaheim from their uniforms and merchandise, spokesman Tim Mead said the agreement did not mean team items bearing the Los Angeles name would now appear.

"We have not authorized any Los Angeles merchandise," he said. "You just won't see that."

Wait, so there won't be any shirts that say "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim"? Not one? That struck me as odd, but there it is. I guess everything will just say "Angels" from now on ... and I'm just fine with that.

        G   AB  H  2B 3B  HR  SO  BB  SB  CS  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS+  EqA  CS%

2004 46 70 17 3 0 2 17 7 2 1 243 308 371 77 .238 24(13)
Car. 46 101 26 5 1 1 22 9 3 1 256 316 360 75 .234 28
Pro. 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 --- --- --- ---
Josh Paul is an okay backup catcher on a team that doesn't need one. He doesn't play defense better than the Molinas, and he doesn't hit better than them. He does run better than them, so if you want a third catcher who can pinch run for one of them and not waste one of your real pinch runners, I guess he's your man.

I'm sure Josh Paul (whose name begs to be said in full; can you imaging just referring to him as "Paul"?) is a great guy and all that, I just have no idea what the hell he's doing on this team. But I get excited whenever he's up, because it's so rare. I would not be surprised to see him to go Salt Lake this year, but we'll see how the roster shakes out.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


2004 97 337 93 13 0 10 35 18 0 1 276 313 404 86 .244 26(11)
Car. 97 337 90 15 0 10 31 15 0 1 267 302 385 79 .232 37
Pro. 108 375 99 17 0 10 35 16 0 1 264 294 385 79

2004 73 203 53 10 2 3 52 10 4 1 261 296 375 74 .231 49(1)
Car. 73 181 45 9 1 1 43 8 2 1 251 287 341 62 .217
Pro. 53 134 32 6 1 1 33 6 2 1 240 271 328 58
I think one of the undercovered stories for the Angels in 2004 was the defensive dissolution of Bengie Molina. You can see above that he was much worse than normal in throwing out baserunners, but that's not all. Look at his passed balls per nine innings:

2002:  .044

2003: .038
2004: .071
Now, I'm going to say something here. You should all sit down, and make sure there is no liquid in your mouth that you don't want sprayed on your keyboard. Okay?

You ready?

Bengie Molina is fat and slow.

Take a minute to get your head around that one, so we can continue.

Catchers, as a breed, are slow. But what they have to be is quick. Throwing out runners depends at least as much on footwork as on arm strength, so to be a good catcher you have to be quick and agile with your feet. You have to be able to jump up in a split-second. Otherwise you don't block balls in the dirt and you don't throw out baserunners.

I believe Bengie Molina has reached critical mass here, folks. He's just not as quick and agile behind the plate as he was two years ago. Yes, he's older. He's more injury prone. And there's more weight for him to try to quickly shift to catch the Carl Crawfords of the world.

Jose, in comparison to his brother, is lithe and agile. He went crazy throwing out runners last year, and allowed .051 PB/9 IP. Jose had a great, great year with the glove, and I think his being in relative good shape was a factor in that.

The problem, of course, is that Jose can't really hit. I mean, he did do well by his standards last year, but I don't know that we can count on him doing that again. He seems to be a hard worker, so maybe it is. If he really is in the same neighborhood as Bengie as a hitter, and Bengie's defensive shortcomings continue to grow and his longcomings continue to shrink, there's not much point to keeping Bengie around past 2005.

Both these guys are placeholders, anyway, while we wait for Jeff Mathis. Jeff Mathis, who hit a horrific 223/308/392 in his first extended bout with AA, last season.

Depending on how Mathis bounces back, catcher could be a problem for the Lads in 2006. But, for 2005, Los Dos Molinas should continue to provide their blend of somewhat acceptable offense (for a catcher) and high-upside defense to the Angels. The position shouldn't be a sore on the Angels' 2005, but barring a resurgence in health and defense for Bengie it won't be a source of great strength, either.

Monday, January 24, 2005

In follow-up to my post immediately below this one, let's take a look at something else interesting David Pinto has posted today: the defensive support received by each pitcher. I pulled all the Angels out so we could look at them together. The "Rank" figure places each pitcher amongst pitchers that had 300+ balls in play against them for one team, and, as they were on Pinto's list, they are listed by the difference between actual outs and expected outs per ball in play. There were 146 such pitchers in 2004:

Pitcher  Rank   BIP  ActOuts  PredOuts  Difference

Colon 68 626 438 438.68 - .68
Escobar 77 583 407 408.66 - 1.66
Ortiz 89 401 275 277.99 - 2.99
Washburn 101 490 338 344.70 - 6.70
Lackey 140 621 423 447.24 -24.24
Sele 142 470 317 336.88 -19.88
Pretty dismal. In reality, the difference for those top four guys isn't that big a deal, a couple outs here and there at best.

But here's even more evidence of John Lackey getting screwed. Didn't it always seem like he was getting nickel-and-dimed on hits he allowed? Here's an indication that the Angel defense was letting him down.

Here is a goof-off that shouldn't be taken seriously. I take a look at this and say, "Wow, John Lackey threw 24 outs worth that he didn't get credit for." What if we give the guys credit for the outs they should have had behind them by adding it on to their inning pitched total? Imperfect and inelegant, but hey, I don't want to do my work today so I'm going to do it. ERSAA is Earned Runs Saved Above Average, and I'm only doing the returners:

                  Actual                 Adjusted

Colon 208.3 116 5.01 - 9.7 208.6 116 5.01 - 9.6 .1
Kelvim 208.3 91 3.93 +15.3 208.9 91 3.92 +15.5 .2
Wash 149.3 77 4.64 - .8 151.6 77 4.57 + .3 1.1
Lackey 198.3 103 4.67 - 1.9 206.4 103 4.49 + 2.3 4.2
I think our rotation can improve in 2005, and part of the reason is they looked worse in 2004 than they really were. The differences aren't huge for any one guy, but they add up for a team over the course of a year.

One of the more alarming circumstances this off-season for the baseball blogosphere is that Mitchel Lichtman's consultancy with the St. Louis Cardinals precludes him from publishing complete Ultimate Zone Rating figures for 2004. It's not that UZR is perfect, but it always seemed closer to perfect than what Davenport and Bill James have made of traditional fielding data. So an important piece of the puzzle is missing for looking at player defense.

We do have raw Zone Rating, of course, from ESPN.com, so that's a good thing. But, as is obvious, not every ball hit into a player's "zone" is equal, and every player at a position does not get an equal number of opportunities in each part of his zone. A good defender might have an artificially low ZR just because more difficult balls were hit into his zone than another player saw.

MGL, with UZR, attempts to rectify that to some degree, and also attach run values to each event. Without his figures, is ZR the only thing to look at?

Thanks to David Pinto, the answer is "no." Last year he unveiled a system somewhat similar to UZR called "The Probabilistic Model of Range." Pinto takes actual play-by-play data to determine the probability of a ball being fielded, i.e. a ball hit at such-and-such a speed to such-and-such a place at such-and-such a height will be caught 10% of the time, and this fielder had 100 balls hit there, and he caught 15 of them, so he made five more outs than the average.

Now, it's not converted to run figures like UZR, but that's still pretty good, and it will be interesting to see how these numbers look over time.

To fill the UZR Gap, Pinto is beginning to publish his PMR for 2004. He has started with team totals, and his calculations (which represent practically, but not quite all, of 2004 at this time) reveal what many of us witnessed and noticed in 2004: the Angel defense was fairly lousy. In fact, by this measure, the Angel defense was the worst in the game, making 90 less outs than would be predicted by where the balls were hit. I'd bet that a lot of these outs were hit to center, left, and third, so it will be interesting to see as Pinto publishes individual ratings in coming weeks.

90 outs is no small deal, by the way. An out is worth about -.28 or so runs against average, so that's about 25 runs given away right there. And that's not even considering that each non-out becomes a hit that has some degree of value, so it's even more. That's probably two or three wins we didn't have because of our fielding.

You can read all of Pinto's writings on defense here for more detail on his system, with more essential posts coming here and here. In the middle of that comes this entry on Father Time, Steve Finley, from over a year ago. Like UZR and Davenport, Pinto sees Finley as being below average (this is for 2003), and it actually breaks down where he wasn't catching balls that season. It's pretty interesting. Pretty much, don't hit line drives right at Steve Finley.

I'm certainly not saying this is perfect, but I appreciate any work that adds to the discussion, and with UZR out of the picture for now, Pinto's PMR might be the best thing (read: least imperfect thing) we can get our hands on for awhile.

I'm not going to run player projections for these guys like I have for everyone else, basically because I don't have a reliable way of dealing with their minor league stats. So let's just talk about them, shall we?

One thing that is noticeable in both of these guys' minor league records is that their walk rates have been in steady decline as they've progressed to the majors. Now, obviously, walk rate isn't everything, but command of the strike zone becomes increasingly important as you get closer to the majors.

Is this cause for concern?

Here are their walk rates (BB/AB), with two other guys thrown in for comparison:

Level   Kotch   D-Mac   Salmon   Glaus

A .158 .150 .172 ---
AA .088 .146 .190 .207
AAA .070 .089 .222 .096
MLB .060 .075 .162 .159
What can we learn from this? Well, even guys like Salmon and Glaus, very patient major league hitters, walk less in the majors than they did in the minors (though Glaus' .159 is quite close to his minor league .161 total). I don't have intentional walk figures for the minors, but a possible explanation is that dominant hitters are pitched around less as they ascend, as they are both facing better pitchers (that can actually get them out) and are surrounded by better hitters (disincentivizing pitching around them). Also, facing better pitchers means that you are, by definition, facing pitchers with better control and walk less people. Sorry for sounding to tautological there ...

Of course, walk-drawing and plate discipline in general tends to go up as players age. I think McPherson will settle into a guy that walks at least once for every ten at-bats, maybe a bit more. This is going to be very important for McPherson, because with his strikeouts he does not project as a high-average hitter. Fifty walks in 500 AB will raise your OBP by almost .100, which is no small shakes, especially when you're probably gonna hit around .250. I'm not saying McPherson will accomplish that in 2005, but he'll get there. Will he be a guy like Glaus or Salmon that can walk 90-100 times a year? Based on their minor league records, I doubt it. McPherson is somewhere near Glaus in AAA walk rate, but Glaus blew through the PCL at such speed that there's some small sample size to deal with.

I'm just making this up, but I'd expect Dallas to be around a 240/310/490 or so this year. He's going to strike out a ton, maybe 150+ times. There will be rough stretches. But he could also walk about 50-60 times and hit 30 homers.

I'm not as concerned about McPherson's defense as I probably should be. In his coffee cup last year, he did not make an error. He did look skittish afield at times, but he also showed good reaction and instincts. It seemed like he was more prone to make mistakes when he had time to think about making a play, such as making a throw. Hard work on concentration and footwork -- and working with Alfredo Griffin -- should go a long way toward improving this. Griffin worked wonders with Eckstein and Adam Kennedy, and McPherson has the reputation of being a hard worker, so I'm optimistic. Add this to the fact that Dallas will be throwing to better first basemen than normal, and he'll likely have less errors than his minor league record may indicate.

In the long term, I think McPherson will do pretty well. He might have a 270/380/600 season or two in him, but I would be ecstatic if he just came within shooting distance of Troy Glaus' career 253/357/497. And remember, for all the power we've witnessed from McPherson, his minor league career Isolated Power (Extra Bases per At Bat) is .259, while Glaus' was an outrageous .332. And Glaus was 23 his first year as a full-time major league regular; McPherson started his age 23 year at A. We will be very fortunate if McPherson develops to the level of Glaus.

As for Kotchman, I know I've mentioned this before, but there's no real reason he shouldn't be starting in Los Angeles of Anaheim this year. The man -- excuse me, the kid -- hit .372 in the PCL last year. Okay, so it's a hitters' park in a hitters' league, so lop off a bunch of that to see what he would hit in the majors. Go ahead and lop off 70 points; you still have a .300 hitter. And while there's more to life than hitting .300, it's a hell of a place to start when you can barely drink legally.

But because The Punter can't play the outfield, Kotchman goes back to AAA to see if he can hit .400 this year. Given Erstad's fragility, it will of course come as no surprise to see Kotchman take a second hack at Wally Pipping Ersty at some point in 2005.

I think Kotch is going to develop into a hitter that takes Garret Anderson's peak (2002-2003) and adds 20 or 30 points to the average and another 10-15 walks. I'm projecting a lot of power for him, but he has what the scouts call a projectable body, and has hit a plethora of doubles in the minor leagues. Remember, Garret was a late bloomer in power; his minor league ISO was a mere .108, and didn't really kick in the majors until he was 28 years old. Kotchman's career minor league ISO is .177, and he averages 8.34 at bats per extra base hit where GA in the minors only got one every 12.57 at bats. Now, Garret's power development is a bit uncommon, but as Kotchman's already ahead of him at the same age, you'd have to think it looks pretty good for his future.

So I'm looking at Kotchman as a potential 330/380/540 guy at his peak, which seems really optimistic, but there you are. If he learns patience at the plate, he could be an absolute monster. As of right now, he only seems like a guy who will walk about 40-50 times a year, but even knocking that up to 75 would make him a consistent .400+ OBP player.

The only real negatives on Kotch as a player are the free swinging (he has to learn that grounding out on the second pitch is not necessarily better than striking out on the fifth) and the fact that he runs like a long-lost Molina. But he's fine defender already, and has a bright future.

Both of these guys do. I think Kotchman has the brighter one, if for no other reason than he is so much younger. But it will be exciting to see these guys at the Big A over the next years, and to see what kind of players they become.

Friday, January 21, 2005

From Rob I learn that the Angels have signed, amongst others, Bob Dylan.

(Sorry. Someone had to do it, so I'm taking the bullet for tha Halosphere on that one.)

Also Ben Affleck's Arch-Nemesis Lou Merloni has been signed to a minor league deal ...

-Anaheim got a smackdown on its desire for a preliminary injunction, so now their last chance to derail Moreno's LA Train will be at a to-be-scheduled trial. It is my inexpert legal opinion that the city of Anaheim is screwed here. I know I have at least one lawyer who reads me, maybe he or others can jump into tell me I'm wrong.

-The minor league coaching staff has been revealed. Mike Brumley no longer manages at AAA Salt Lake, and has been replaced by Dino Ebel, formerly of the organization of the other LA team. Rancho Cucamonga manager Rusty Meacham has been replaced by last year's AA manager at Arkansas, Tyrone Boykin, opening up the AA spot for Tom Gamboa, best-known for getting randomly attacked by some slack-jawed yokels at a White Sox game.

A couple of former major leaguers have joined the staff, with Bryn Smith the pitching coach at AAA and Craig Grebeck lined up as a hitting coach(!) at Mesa in the rookie league. I liked Grebeck, he was kind of like David Eckstein without the opportunity*, but hitting coach? Well, he did hit his first major league home run off of Nolan Ryan ...

-For three days I've been trying to come up with a player review entry for Casey Kotchman and Dallas McPherson. Still nothing. Hopefully next week, so don't go anywhere ...

*Seriously, it's a bit creepy.

             Grebeck      Eckstein

Inches 67 66
Pounds 148 170
AVG .261 .278
OBP .340 .347
SLG .356 .353
OPS+ 87 87
BB/SO .832 .838
AB/SH 40.6 40.9

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Ladies and Gentlmen, here are the 2004 statistics for two pitchers, along with the league average in each category.

             IP    BFP   W   L   ERA*  K/BF  BB/BF  HR/BF  H/BF

Pitcher A 149.3 640 11 8 4.64 .134 .063 .031 .248
Pitcher B 208.3 878 11 12 3.93 .218 .087 .024 .219
League* ----- --- -- -- 4.59 .162 .084 .029 .237
*ERA adjusted for park; League BFP estimated, so in actuality
the league numbers would be slightly lower, as HBP and sacs
were not included in estimation
Okay, one year does not a comparison make, so let's look at 2002-2004 as a whole:

             IP    BFP   W   L   ERA   K/BF  BB/BF  HR/BF  H/BF  SV  ERA+

Pitcher A 562.7 2368 39 29 4.01 .145 .065 .062 .231 0 112
Pitcher B 466.7 2030 29 28 4.13 .214 .098 .023 .225 42 112
So here's an interesting comparison. Pitcher B has been used in a different way than Pitcher A, but in terms of run prevention they have been equal over this time.

Oh, one more thing: Pitcher B is 28 years old and was signed as a free agent, but Pitcher A is 29 and seeking a salary through arbitration.

As I'm sure you've realized, Pitcher B is Kelvim Escobar, and Pitcher A is Ace Washburn. Jarrod signed a contract for $6.5M for 2005, thus avoiding arbitration. Kelvim Escobar is due to make $6M this year, and is due to make $6.5M in 2006.

Looking at the above, I guess the Angels got Jarrod for a pretty good value, at leats looking backward. I'd have to say Kelvim's immediate future is brighter, though. Maybe Wash can come back from his struggles over the last two years ... but I don't really know that he's going to be worth $6.5M this year. But given deals handed out to the likes of Derek Lowe and Kris Benson this offseason, and the fact that Escobar at his 2004 level of performance is quite a bargain, I shouldn't complain.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

- Clutch DaVanon has inked a one-year deal with the Lads, worth $950K. Good value.

- Sean is back with a typically savvy look at what the Angels are doing to replace what they've lost offensivly from Glaus, Eckstein, and Guillen. The outlook is somewhat less than inspiring, and I think Sean is on target.

- Jay Jaffe has posted his park-adjusted DIPS figures for 2004. Things look good for the Halos: Scot Shields ranked third in the game amongst qualifiers in DIPS ERA, and K-Rod's monster season does not appear to have been motivated by luck in any way, as his ERA was only .06 ahead of his DIPS ERA. In fact just about every regular Angel pitcher performed close to how you would expect, with the notable exception of John Lackey's, whose DIPS ERA of 4.16 was .52 better than his actual mark. As it often seemed Lackey was being unfairly victimized by bleeds and bloops, that's a validation for the fact that he could post better numbers in 2005. Alongside expected bounce-backs from Bartolo Colon and possibly even Jarrod Washburn, and the possibility that a healthy Paul Byrd should solve the five-spot wound, it's another indicator that the rotation is one spot on the team where we can be optimistic about some improvement in the coming season.

- I just noticed that the Yahoo team page for the Angels calls them the Los Angeles Angels, with no mention of Anaheim (except for last year's standings). So the name change is working somewhere.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Studes at the Hardball Times looks at bullpens through the lenses of Win Probability and Fielding Independent Pitching, and in both cases the Angel Pen of Bull was lights-out in 2004.

Which you already knew, but it's fun to see even more evidence.

Of course, now Percy's gone, so all the relievers move up one, which hurts our depth. Thank God for Esteban Yan.

Richard points out a new entry in the land of Los Angeles Angel commentary of Anaheim, the Halo Herald. This is brought to you by a guy named Rich, so that gives us a Rich, a Richard, and a Rob -- the three R's! I'm feeling a little outnumbered ...

So, for Christmas I got this Day-by-Day Angel calendar, and it has all kinds of MLB and Angel trivia. Aside from the sudden goofiness of having every day say "Anaheim Angels" on it, there's some good trivia here. This one, today's, actually threw me; I only got three out of the four:

The Angels have had four managers who managed other teams to a pennant (either before or after their Angels career). Can you name them?

I'm always a little annoyed when a trivia question ends with "Can you name them?" because that makes "No" a legitimate correct answer. Moving beyond the pedantry, take your guess, and I'll put the answer in the comments section ...

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

       G   AB  H  2B 3B  HR  SO  BB  SB  CS  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS+  EqA  ZR(2B)

2004 144 468 130 20 5 10 92 41 15 5 278 351 406 98 .264 .847(1)
Car. 144 489 136 26 5 9 76 31 17 7 278 329 406 91 .252 .854
Pro. 143 465 129 22 4 10 81 37 17 5 277 347 404 99
If you've been reading my ravings for awhile, you may have picked up on the fact that I am quite fond of Adam Kennedy. Here's why:

1. Adam Kennedy has had an OBP better than the league average for each of the last three seasons.

2. Adam Kennedy led AL qualifiers at second in zone rating in 2004, was third in 2003, second in 2002, and first in 2001. If you want to look at the majors instead of just the AL, he was first in 2001, second in 2002, sixth in 2003, and second in 2004. I haven't studied it thoroughly, but he is almost certainly the most consistent of any second base defender over that period in his excellence.

3. Mitchel Lichtman's UZR has a weighted average of +25 runs for Kennedy from 1999 through 2003, second only to Placido Polanco, who played far fewer games, and as such has a much lower sample size. From 2000 through 2003, Kennedy was a total of +70 on defense by this measure, and in 2004 he was +12.

4. Kennedy is a good and smart baserunner. He has had only one season where he had a substandard SB%, and is above 70% for his career. Anecdotally, I'd have to say that I'm never shaking my head or throwing things at my TV when he's running the bases, which are acts I must take several times a game for most of the team. MGL keeps track of baserunning, too, and says Kennedy was a total of +5 above average in baserunning over the course of 2000-2003. Given the narrow band of variation on this part of the game, that's pretty good. And just to finish up the talk on MGL's analysis, he projects Kennedy as the best overall 2B in the game in 2005 (post 91 here) were he to be healthy for the whole year. I don't know if I buy that, but who knows ...

5. I was there when Kennedy hit his three home runs in Game 5.

6. I was telling a female co-worker that I was sad about Kennedy being hurt, and she said she didn't care because she doesn't follow baseball, but then another female co-worker who likes the Angels jumped in to say that she should care because Kennedy "is cute." So Kennedy is attracting comely college-age women to the ballpark! (He practically has Wally Joyner's hairline, so I don't really know how that works, but I'm not really an expert on the subject ...)

If I were the Ninja Guy, I'd sum it up thusly:

1. Adam Kennedy is a mammal.
2. Adam Kennedy turns ground balls into outs ALL the time.
3. The purpose of Adam Kennedy is to flip out and hit three home runs in the ALCS.

In short, though he's obviously not a superstar, Kennedy is one of those guys who really does do all of the little things well, and is an above-average player and valuable contributor.

So, anyway, I'm sad that Adam's hurt for an undetermined amount of time, and that we might not see him on the field until August. Legs Figgins may hit as well as Kennedy, and though he's not likely to be as good a fielder the drop-off shouldn't be too large. And as I've argued a few times in the past, Kennedy should be platooned. He's not very good against left-handed pitchers, and the team would be really well off to let Figgins take those at-bats.

This assumes, of course, that Kennedy can come back from injury okay. Here's hoping he does, and that he can enjoy several more years of success.

Monday, January 10, 2005

He sucked.

Friday, January 07, 2005

       G   AB  H  2B  3B  HR  SO  BB  SB  CS  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS+  EqA  ZR(RF)

2004 156 612 206 39 2 39 74 52 15 3 337 391 598 154 .322 .871(5)
Car. 156 588 191 36 5 34 75 58 19 10 325 390 589 147 .315 .886
Pro. 144 546 179 33 2 34 68 64 19 8 327 401 585 149
Was Vlad really the MVP of the league last year?

As I see it, there are/were about a dozen players in the running. Let's take a look at them all as measured by several different metrics that are out there. I like looking at a panoply of different measures because no one of them is perfect or tells us everything.

(Key: What we have here are Clay Davenport's Pitching Runs Above Average or Equivalent Runs Above Average from Baseball Prospectus; Keith Woolner's Value Over Replacement [Position], also from BPro; the player's ERA+ or OPS+ as reported by Baseball Reference; and Lee Sinins' Runs Saved or Runs Created Above Average as from The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.)

For summary statistics, including offense and defense, we have Win Shares as reported by The Hardball Times and Davenport's Wins Above Replacement (Position) 1 from BPro. After Vlad, they are all listed alphabetically.

              PRAA        ERA+  RSAA

Vlad 51 88.5 154 56 29 9.2
CGuillen 31 70.5 141 36 23 8.9
Hafner 44 70.9 158 51 22 6.6
Ichiro! 39 80.9 135 56 27 8.6
Matsui 36 57.5 139 44 30 6.3
Mora 44 73.6 149 54 25 6.4
Ortiz 38 71.3 145 46 25 6.4
Ramirez 43 68.6 152 49 27 6.7
A-Rod 34 62.3 133 35 30 8.6
Santana 48 88.8 182 54 27 11.4
Sheffield 38 63.4 143 40 31 7.3
Tejada 28 73.0 126 23 30 9.9
Okay, let's pare this down.

First of all, we can throw out the Yankees immediately. The only reason I have them on here is because of the Win Shares. Y'see, there's this kind of glitch in that system ... if a team wins more games than you would expect from their runs scored and allowed, those extra wins get distributed evenly to the team's players. The Yankees won a lot more games last year than they "should have," so all their players benefit. In theory, that seems fine, but in practice, I think it's silly. Sheffield and Matsui were not legit MVP candidates, and A-Rod was very good (fueled by excellent defense) but not quite there, either. They gone.

Sticking with the AL East, Manny Ramirez is a wonderful hitter, but he can't field and at all and is a disaster on the basepaths. In the meantime, David Oritz doesn't field at all, nor does Travis Hafner. Melvin Mora: good bat, bad glove. Good hitters all, but see ya.

Ichiro and Guillen can go, too. Ichiro wasn't as good as Vlad, and though Carlos Guillen was at least as good as Miguel Tejada on a per game basis, he got hurt and didn't finish the season. That counts. So if neither one of these guys is the tops in the league at their position, how could they be MVP? Goodbye.

So, back to the final three:

Player        RAA   VORP  O/E+  RCAA  WS  WARP1

Vlad 51 88.5 154 56 29 9.2
Santana 48 88.8 182 54 27 11.4
Tejada 28 73.0 126 23 30 9.9
Well, things don't look so great for our hero in the summary stats. He's second in Win Shares and third in WARP1. But let's take a closer look.

First of all, it's obvious that Vlad created about as many runs beyond average as Santana prevented. But remember, Vlad does things with his glove, and Santana doesn't really.

Of course, it's in the glove that Tejada gains on Vlad. As a plain ol' hitter, Guerrero cleans Tejada's clock, whipping him in 30 points of OPS+ and between 20 and 30 runs. The question becomes: does Tejada's being a good defensive shortstop in 2004 overcome this difference?

The problem with evaluating defense is that even most of the good work done out there is pretty clunky. Bill James with Win Shares and Clay Davenport have done decent work, but there's a real limit on what can be done with out play-by-play information. It's guesswork, and sometimes it's flat-out wrong.

The best publicly available defensive metric that deals in runs is Mitchel Lichtman's Ultimate Zone Rating. The problem is that full data stopped being public this season, as MGL is now employed by the Cardinals. (Well, another problem is that it isn't perfect, either, but I think it's a lot closer in most cases than the other systems I've mentioned.) However, he does chime in at BTF every now and then with figures for a select few. He did so in this thread.

He finds Tejada to have been +20 defensively last season (Davenport says +17). He also says Vlad was -1 (Davenport says +1), so in both cases UZR is actually very close to what Davenport uses.

MGL also has slightly different offensive numbers. As it was on a public forum, I will quote directly from that linked thread: "Tejada was +20 UZR plus +23 in batting lwts, or +43. Vlad was -1 UZR (0 in arm) and 43 in batting lwts, or +42."

Given the accord between UZR and Davenport, I am comfortable in saying Tejada was around +20 and Vlad around average. This also comports with zone rating, which has Vlad in the middle of the pack amongst AL right fielders and Tejada closer to the top amongst shortstops. Win Shares, as best as I can tell, has maybe a 10-run lead for Tejada.

Now, MGL does some things with positional adjustments I don't fully support, so let's back off and summarize what we (think we) know:

Vlad was about 20-30 runs better with the bat than Miguel Tejada.
Miguel Tejada was about 10-20 runs better of a shortstop than Vlad was a right fielder.

Now, intuitively, we all pretty much know a shortstop's defense is more crucial than a right fielder's defense, if only because they handle more chances. Yes, the right fielder's chances have more extra-base potential than a shortstop's, but in general the shorstop has been considered more important.

If this is true, to what degree is it true? Over the course of a season, is an average defensive shortstop worth 2 more runs than an average right fielder, or 20 more runs?

Traditionally, what sabermetricians have done is use the offensive difference between positions as a proxy for this when making positional adjustments. I reject this entirely. Well, not entirely ... it has applications, but doesn't really address our question.

As MGL alludes to in the BTF thread to which I linked above, the Tango Tiger has done some work on this. Over 150 games, the difference between an average shortstop and an average right fielder is about 10 runs.

So the average shortstop starts out at +10 against an average right fielder. Tejada gets an additional 20 for being above average for a shorstop, so he's up to +30.

Now Vlad, we decided, was an average defender last year, so he's still at zero.

When we bring offense into the equation, Vlad picks up. He was probably about +50 last year -- MGL had him a bit lower, and Sinins has him a bit higher, so let's stay around Davenport's number (+51), which is in the middle. So we have Vlad +50, Tejada +30.

Tejada was around +25 or so in offense (MGL says +23, Davenport says +28, Sinins says +23). So that gets Tejada up to +55.

Using MGL's numbers strictly, but with Tango's positional adjustments, Tejada leads 53-42. Using Davenport's numbers with those positional adjustments, it's 55-52 for Tejada. Using Sinins' offense with the defensive average and the same positional adjustments, it's Vlad 56-53.

Now maybe it's just me, but if you have one guy at +55 and one guy at +50, that's a toss-up.

Look, it's foolish and dangerous to pretend we know things we don't. There has been a lot of great baseball research in the last twenty years, and as I'm sure you can tell, I'm quite fond of it. But I think the idea that we have everything pegged down to five runs -- especially when such a big part of the equation is defense, about which our measures are far less than perfect -- is a bit silly.

Obviously, you can make the argument that Tejada was better/more valuable/whatever than Vlad last year. I can't tell you you're wrong.

But you can also make the argument that Vlad was better.

Coming back to Vlad vs. Johan Santanadana for a moment ... Johan saved about 50 runs beyond average and Vlad was +50 for offense, defense, and position, so there you go. Another toss-up. And while it's true that a run saved is worth ever so slightly more than a run created, the effect is tiny, and the difference between Vlad and Santana in terms of runs is sufficiently negligible that picking one as being better as the God's truth is out of the question.

The way I see it, there are three guys who are too close to call, all wrapped up withing about five runs of each other. Now, I haven't considered the fact that Vlad and Santana played for division winners when Tejada did not; that's because I don't think it matters. That sort of thing is a last-ditch tiebreaker for me, I couldn't care less about the quality of the rest of a team in determining the most valuable player. Well, we do have pretty much a tie here, so perhaps that should be a factor. If there were ever a case, this would be it.

Sometimes you look at an MVP award and you can say without a doubt: "That's a mistake." Sosa over McGwire, Tejada over A-Rod, Juan Gonzalez a couple of times, and so on. And then sometimes you look at an MVP award and you say, "I'd argue for this guy, but it's pretty damn close either way." At worst, Vlad's win falls into that category. He was deserving, he earned it, and he'll be a bargain for the Angels even if he drops off a bit in 2005.

What my ballot would have looked like, had I gotten my act together in time for the Internet Baseball Awards:

1.   Vlad

2. Santana
3. Tejada
4. Carlos Guillen
5. A-Rod
6. Ichiro!
7. Mora
8. Ramirez
9. Sheffield
10. Matsui

Thursday, January 06, 2005

BTF has linked to a Baseball America story where Alan Schwarz sits down in a roundtable with Voros McCracken (DIPS creator now consulting with Boston), Gary Huckabay (a Baseball Prospectus founder and analyst for the Oakland A's), Gary Hughes (assistant GM of the Cubs), and the Los Angeles Angels' own scouting director of Anaheim, Eddie Bane.

Bane has caught some flack in the more sabermetrically-leaning sectors of the Halosphere for being more of a throwback than a forward-thinker. But in this interview he comes across as fairly open-minded about things and well-read. Here's one interesting exchange:

ALAN SCHWARZ: One thing that Eddie and Gary, you might not be aware of, is that a few years ago Voros came up with something called Defense Independent Pitching Stats, which . . .

EDDIE BANE: Alan, you said, "You guys may not be aware." That's one of the things we're battling. We are aware. I read these guys' stuff all the time.
Well, take that, Alan Schwarz!

One place where the so-called "Moneyball" types differ from traditional scouts is in their view of high school pitchers. Bill James wrote about what risks high school pitchers were years ago, and this thought process has grown to totally overcome many saber-minded organizations. Bane dismisses that out of hand, but does provide criteria by which the Lads will take a high schooler into the fold:

We’d need at least a three-pitch mix already. Command already. We’d not just take an arm in the first round. We’re trying to get our scouts away from the radar gun as much as possible. So a three-pitch mix with makeup.

I think that's actually a pretty sound recipe, as of course it does seem silly to draft zero high school moundsmen. The Angels haven't developed a high school pitcher in awhile, but it will be interesting to see if the Bane era does produce any.

This was one comment by Bane that gave me pause:

Our job, when we go to a high school game, is there better be some swinging as soon as we get out of the rental car. I’ve never wanted to draft a guy where the first line in the report is, “He’s got a good eye.” We’re looking for guys who swing that bat. And if they’re swinging and missing in high school, we ain’t going to be very interested.
Um, what's so bad about having a good eye? And if a guy is swinging and missing in high school, what does that have to do with having a good eye? If you have a good eye, you're only swinging at pitches you can hit, right?

Here's one of those exchanges that almost invites parody:

ALAN SCHWARZ: But what would you have to see to be encouraged [when scouting a AA hitter in a hypothetical]?

GARY HUGHES: The swing, the approach at the plate, the show of fear.

EDDIE BANE: If you show fear, you're gone.

VOROS McCRACKEN: How would someone show fear?

GARY HUGHES: There would be a little give at the plate.

EDDIE BANE: You give on a pitcher with a decent slider . . .

VOROS McCRACKEN: That happens to everyone--everyone gets their knees buckled every once in a while. So if you rule a guy out that gets his knees buckled, that seems extreme. You'd need to see him show fear a bit more consistently. I'm not sure . . .

EDDIE BANE: I am sure. Because if I see fear in a hitter, I'm not ever coming back. I don't see fear in good big league hitters. I know that they get fooled and they'll bail on balls. But for me, that's a different term than fear.

GARY HUGHES: The best player who ever lived bailed--Willie Mays.
The show of fear, huh? It does seem mighty subjective ... but I actually do know what they mean, and I can't say with certainty that they're wrong.

There is also a passage, which I won't quote here, where Bane pretty much dismisses Steve Andrade after Voros brings him up. So that will be interesting to see play out.

I do, however, think this is healthy:

"I will have read this (statistics) stuff before I go into the ballpark. But I'm going to evaluate him myself as a scout--just as a scout--and I'm going to call Pat Gillick, if he had him in Toronto or Seattle in the past, and go, "Tell me about him." I'm going to get information from the press box. I'm going to work other scouts over. I'm going to know everything I can about this guy. "Yeah, I heard his elbow was hurting him." "No, it wasn't his elbow, he pulled a hamstring." "He had a drinking problem in the past." I'm going to have the DIPS information already. I mean, this stuff if fabulous. But I've got to have the other stuff too--the intangibles.
One thing that many statheads tend to overlook, I believe, is that a player's make-up is a big part of his developments. His work habits, his dedication, etc. Talented players fritz out all the time. If you have two guys with the same performance at the same age at the same level, what can separate them? You can't measure someone's work ethic from the stat line, and we can't overlook that fact. The need for human intelligence to back up performance records is just that: a need. All information need to be taken into account.

Given some of the Angel moves this winter, it doesn't really seem like they're taking a lot into account besides reputation, otherwise there's no way you pay Orlando Cabrera $5M per year than you would have David Eckstein.

Look, amateur scouting is the lifeblood of any major league organization, and minor league scouting ain't far behind. Bane dismisses the possibility that college or minor league stats can be predictive, which I think is dangerous. We know minor league stats are very predictive, and work is beginning to be performed on college (though we're not close yet). An organization has to be open to this information. I mean, Bill James started his work on minor league numbers two decades ago. This isn't exactly new. But these parting comments from Bane give rise to hope:

The future of scouting, and I hope the Angels are ahead of the curve, is we're going to have to understand what Gary Huckabay is writing about. And what Voros McCracken is writing about. We do. And we're going to get it. But the day of not needing a scout to see Mark Rogers and Brendan Donnelly, it's not going to come. I think people were trying to eliminate advance scouting by using Inside Edge or something. That's not working. ...

As far as "Moneyball" goes, I didn't like it. But the respect I have for these two guys today, just hearing them talk, I'm going to get their phone numbers and find out what Boston and Oakland's paying them. I can't tamper, but maybe get permission. This is good stuff. We use it. Maybe we don't acknowledge it enough.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Today Ryne Sandberg is a Hall of Famer.

Bobby Grich is at least as great a player.

All this as a reminder that my five- or six-part on series on Bobby Grich and why he belongs in the Hall of Fame is coming up soon, maybe in a few weeks.

Anyway, congrats to Ryno and Wade Boggs, both of which are eminently deserving.

And Bert Blyleven, I believe your day will come ...

(There's some debate on Grich and Ryno in the comments on Richard's entry re: the Hall. I chime in briefly, but can't give too much away!)

So I woke up this morning and had come to terms with the name change. Sure, it's silly, and I'll continue to make fun, but it obviously doesn't affect my life in any real way.

And then I go read Rob, and he links to this.

It's an Angel employee's resignation letter tendered upon the announcement of the name change. Or, rather, it purports to be ... but whether or not it is legit is no big deal, because it still portrays a sense of bitterness. Some highlights:

Angry fans and employees who feel betrayed by their boss don't make for a good mix. The reason the stadium has been run so well since its inception is because the employees actually had a sense of pride for not only its team, but for their city.

Well Mr. Moreno, you’ve managed to take that away from us. It wasn’t a job for many of us, but a true labor of love. We worked hard and did our tasks happily because of our love, and because that’s the Anaheim Way. That’s gone now; the last remnants of a once wonderful family have been torn asunder by this cold and callous business decision.

Okay, so this guy is overreacting, I think. But, then again, I don't live in Anaheim. Or even Orange County. I have never lived in Anaheim or Orange County. If this reaction reflects in any way the reaction of residents of that community, Arte could have something of a backlash on his hands. What use is creating a brand if it alienates your community and comes across as a joke to your neighbors?

Well, Arte's counterargument is articulated in this OC Register interview from a couple weeks ago. A revealing quote from Arte:

We get half of what the Dodgers get in broadcast revenue. Why? Seattle's radio deal is three times ours. Why does Milwaukee have a better radio deal than we do? Why? Why are we 28th or 29th in the country in broadcast revenue?
Well, I'm sure he has some marketing research to tell him that the answer to all these "Why"'s is that the team is called "Anaheim" instead of "Los Angeles." I'm not sure I buy it, but I'm no billionaire, either. (The interview is worth reading in full, by the way.)

So I'll say this for Arte: he has a plan and he's going for it. He's committed to winning and to making the franchise viable and competitive in the long-term. Obviously, I'm rooting for it to work, and if that means supporting the name change, I'll put aside my reservations and go with it.

Go Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim!

Monday, January 03, 2005

This is how I see the first telecast of the year going:

PHYSIOC: Hello everybody, we're coming to you live from Anaheim, Los Angeles to welcome you to a brand new year of Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Baseball! I'm Steve Physioc, and I'm here with Rex Hudler.

HUDLER: Hi Steve, I am pumped up for the new season!!!

PHYSIOC: A lot of changes for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim this year. The Angels have picked up a new centerfielder and a new shortstop, and they have two World Series championship rings between them!

HUDLER: That's right, Phys! Arte Moreno is committed to winning, and he directed Bill Stoneman to go out and get proven winners!! Veteran guys who know how to play the game, Phys. They know how to win!!! I am PUMPED UP for 2005!!!

PHYSIOC: The Angels have also made a big change to their name. No longer limiting themselves to beautiful Orange County, the Angels are now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim!

HUDLER: Yes indeed, Steve. By putting Los Angeles and Anaheim together, Arte Moreno is showing that this isn't just Anaheim's team or just Los Angeles' team. This team belongs to the Southland! And its wonderful fans!!!

PHYSIOC: The Angels have also strenghtened their already division-winning starting rotation by picking up veteran Paul Byrd.

HUDLER: That's right, Phys. Byrd is the word in Los Angeles of Anaheim this year!!!

PHYSIOC: Don't go anywhere. We'll be right back with exclusive interview with Los Angeles Angel General Managaer Bill Stoneman of Anaheim after these messages!

CUT TO COMMERCIAL where Rachel Bilson and Adam Brody eat at Pink's.


PHYSIOC: Welcome back to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Baseball! Earlier, Hud and I had the privilege to chat with General Manager Bill Stoneman. This is how it went:

CUT TO FOOTAGE OF A HAL 9000 COMPUTER sitting by the third-base baseline across from Phys and Hud.

HUDLER: Hey, Bill Stoneman, are you PUMPED about 2005?!?

STONEMAN (monotone): Yes.

PHYSIOC: Bill, a lot of changes this year. Cabrera, Finley, Byrd. How do you see the Los Angeles Angel chances of Anaheim this year?

STONEMAN: We have a good team.

HUDLER: Bill, how pumped is Steve Finley? Last year he was a Dodger, and now he's an Angel, and he didn't have to move!!! He's still in Los Angeles!

STONEMAN: We are excited to have Steve Finley on our baseball team.

PHYSIOC: Thanks for your time, Bill.


PHYSIOC: After these messages, we'll be back for the first pitch of 2005!

CUT TO THE ANGELS GETTING SHUT OUT, with the opposing pitcher throwing a perfect game.

And the Off-Season of Stupid continues.

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