Monthly Archives: December 2010
Nail on the head. You have a right to hold the opinion that Jack Morris was a better pitcher than Bert Blyleven. But your opinion would be wrong, because Morris was not a better pitcher. Blyleven was.
Now, if you want to say you enjoyed watching Morris pitch more than you enjoyed watching Blyleven, that’s also your opinion. Provided you are telling the truth, however, that’s an opinion which can’t be refuted by facts. If you liked watching Morris pitch more, then you liked watching Morris pitch more. But that would be a matter of personal taste, and not a matter of objective analysis. One runs into big problems when personal taste and objective analysis are confused.
I don’t think this opinion problem is limited to just baseball, by the way. There seems to be society wide issue with confusing subjective opinion and objective facts. Everyone has the right to an opinion; not everyone’s opinion is right.
1936 was the first year a class was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame. Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Herman Ruth, and Honus Wagner were the five elected. At the time, the United States had a population of about 128 million people; 481 men played major league baseball in that year, a figure that represented about 0.000375% of the United States’ then-population. Click Here to Continue Reading
Runs Created is a statistic invented by Bill James that estimates how many runs a player contributed to his team on offense (that is, how many runs he created with his bat). The basic formula is:
Hits plus Walks
times Total Bases
divided by At Bats plus Walks
Or times on base, multiplied by power, divided by opportunities. Other writers have created more accurate versions of Runs Created since James, but this thirty year old formula is 95% accurate for predicting a team’s runs scored. If you apply the formula to a player, you can estimate how many runs he created for his team just using his hits, walks, total bases, and at bats.
David Wright passed Darryl Stawberry in 2010 as the Mets’ franchise leader in runs created. The top ten Mets in runs created, all time (the top three are easily guessed):
To find the one team with a better three-year WAR total than next year’s Phillies, whose aces have 59.7 WAR, look no further than the 1976 Mets staff of Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack, Jerry Koosman and Mickey Lolich (with 63.4 WAR). This is not to say that the Mets had the best season ever by a group of starters in 1976; rather, the Mets came into the 1976 season with the deepest staff in history, based on their performances over the previous three years.
Baseball-Reference’s Sean Forman takes a look at baseball’s best front fours for the Times. The final 1976 tallies for those four Mets pitchers:
- Tom Seaver 14-11, 2.59 ERA, 5.7 WAR
- Jerry Koosman 21-10, 2.69 ERA, 4.6 WAR
- John Matlack 17-10, 2.95 ERA, 4.1 WAR
- Mickey Lolich 8-13, 3.22 ERA, 1.4 WAR
Seaver, Koosman, and Matlack pitched up to their expectations, while Lolich was the lone disappointment of sorts. The front three all had ERAs below 2.95, but Shea Stadium depressed run scoring by about 6% in the 1970s. The ERAs are somewhat deflated and look a bit more impressive than they really are.
Seaver pitched 23.2 more innings than Koosman and had a lower ERA, but Koosman wound up with seven more wins and one less loss. The reason? The Mets scored 4.3 runs per game in Koosman’s starts (and 4.7 in Matlack’s), but just 3.4 in Seaver’s starts. It was a tough year for Seaver. Seven of his eleven losses came in quality starts, and the bullpen blew three wins for him. In late July, he pitched a ten innings of shutout ball against the Pirates and walked away with a no decision, and he lost two complete games. For comparison, the bullpen blew no wins for Koosman, and he managed to pick up four wins in non-quality starts.
Since the Mets’ strategy for this offseason seems for the most part to be “run out the clock,” this leaves us to focus on their current roster — specifically at those players leaving the new front office no financial flexibility. This being the case, I’m going steal a page out of Bill Simmons’ book (by way of Fangraphs) and rank the trade value of everyone currently on the Mets, from 55 — the least valuable in trades — all the way down to 1 — the most valuable in trades.
A few rules and explanations:
- THIS IS NOT A LIST OF THE BEST METS PLAYERS IN ORDER. It’s a list of who has the most value to another team in a trade. Johan Santana is a much better pitcher than Dillon Gee, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about who has more value in a trade. Which means . . .
- Contracts and age play a huge part. Jason Bay is a better player than Josh Thole, but would you rather trade for a declining Jason Bay and the guaranteed $51 million dollars left on his contract, or the improving Josh Thole, who will make $414,000 in 2011?
Because contracts count, the top of the list, where the least tradable players are, is populated with the Mets’ big money and aging players; the middle is mostly prospects; and the end of the list is where the young, underpaid players are.
- The list began life as a completely objective one, where every player was actually assigned a dollar value based on their predicted future performance against their contract — I drew heavily on Sickels, Baseball America, and Victor Wang’s research to assign dollar values to the prospects — but after setting it up like that, I also moved everyone around subjectively until it felt right.
- EDIT: I think I need to throw this in too: Prospects are NOT ranked in order of how good of a prospect they are. Pitching prospects, for the most part, are ranked ahead of hitting prospects simply because they are pitchers, and everyone always needs pitching. Also, Victor Wang took a look and found that, on average, John Sickels’ C-grade pitching prospects are worth more than their C-grade hitting counterparts. That said, numbers 40-23 on this list could really be moved around in any order, particularly if you know more about the Mets farm system than I do (which is probably likely).
- Part 1 runs today (#55-#21), Part 2 runs tomorrow (#20-#1). Click Here To Continue Reading