julien's baseball blog

Some moves are slightly good. Some moves are slightly bad. I tell you about them.
Monday, May 24, 2004
 
where barry bonds should bat
barry bonds should bat leadoff. it's true. at this point, his on-base skills are more valuable than his power skills. it's amazing but true.

say barry leads off and hits one out. what's that? that's right, 1-0. you're spotting yourself a one-run lead.

the point is this guy is so good you wanna give him as many plate appearances as possible. but the other thing is they'll pitch to him more often. lead bonds off and he hits 60 home runs every year.

barry hates the idea. he led off when he came up and told anyone who would listen how terrible it was. and it is somehow pathological. so fourth is fine. he'll lead off the second inning.

really, the giants should just order their lineup by on-base percentage. for any team, that's close to optimal, but you usually want your best hitter third. end transmission.
Thursday, May 13, 2004
 
in case you were wondering
the dodgers' best player is eric gagne.
 
don't drink another one
where was i? right, i was rambling about replacement level. here's the bottom line: most players are near replacement level. you got your slick-fielding infielders, your power first basemen, your middle relievers. they're all over the place. it is not important to evaluate them. their value is the same. they are replacement-level players.

so what's left? the stars. the top two pitchers, the closer, the three hitter, whoever. when comparing teams, you look at the best player from each, and see who's better, then look at the next best, etc. take it as far as you want, but a general rule of thumb is the difference in second-best players is half as important as the difference in best players. the difference in third-best players is half as important as the difference in second-best players. and so on. after a few players, it gets pretty meaningless.

let's do some examples:

padres v. diamondbacks:
best player: brian giles v. randy johnson: rj way better.
second-best player: the d-backs second-best player is brandon webb. i don't know who the padres second-best player is. maybe burroughs, maybe peavy. we've already gotten to the point where it doesn't matter. the diamondbacks are way better.

red sox v. yankees:
best player: pedro martinez v. kevin brown: pedro
second-best player: curt schilling v. javier vazquez: schilling
third-best player: nomar v. arod: even
fourth-best player: manny v. sheff: even
fifth-best player: lowe v. posada: posada
sixth-best player: damon v. mussina: mussina

the analysis is deep because there are many stars. but the red sox are clearly better. they have the top two.

this is fun. let's do some more:

angels v. a's:
best player: eric chavez v. vladimir guerrero: chavez
second-best player: tim hudson v. troy glaus: hudson
third-best player: barry zito v. bartolo colon: zito, i suppose

a's win the west.

giants v. dodgers:

best player: barry bonds v. who cares

giants win.

marlins v. braves (the phillies finish third):
best player: josh beckett v. andruw jones: beckett
second-best player: juan pierre v. marcus giles: maybe pierre
third-best player: lowell? willis? v. rafael furcal: furcal
fourth-best player: john smoltz

this one is really close. i still say the braves win it.

in the central, it's prior and wood. in the other central, it's santana

the nl central could be the astros though. kerry wood now has mild elbow tendinitis. mark prior is not yet back. this is how it starts. i hate to bring up the early nineties mets, but i have to.

someone please stop dusty baker before he kills these kids. the mark prior/doc gooden comparisons are gonna be depressing.
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
 
a fifth'll get you stinkin
we've had a month, and a bit . . . about a fifth of a season. now would be a good time to run some walconpow's. maybe i'll do that. maybe i won't.

there's been a bit of down time here. but just when you think i'm gone, i come roaring back. nietzsche used to take nine months off. he called it his pregnancy. my births are premature.

it's popular around these parts (the baseball blogosphere) to analyze everything. every player, every move, blah blah blah. the blog that is most complete is the blog that gets the props.

but i oppose that sort of thing. most of the things we see have happened before. most players are types, like many other players. a few are unique. so the thing to do is talk about types of players, types of situations. the superstars, then, are their own type.

sabermetricians have done us a service by introducing the concept of replacement level. unfortunately, the have also screwed it up horribly. the reason this has happened is that they base their analysis on runs. the fundamental premise of sabermetrics is that all runs are created equal. there are exceptions, usually having to do with relief pitchers, but by and large a run is a run is a run. i've said this before.

i don't have to worry about structuring this argument because i don't care if i convince anybody. bill james developed the win shares system, which will hopefully point us in the right direction. we need to make wins the fundamental basis for analysis. win shares is still based on runs, but it's a start.

who would you rather have, juan pierre or jim thome? i'll take juan pierre in a second. john kruk takes him over barry. that's ridiculous, but he's on to something: juan pierre has all the skills that are most important in a low-run environment. those skills are contact, defense, and speed.

what people need to realize is a pitcher is a run environment. just as we adjust for park and league, we need to adjust for the pitcher. we need to realize that runs scored against roger clemens are different from runs scored against shawn estes.

sabermetricians say it evens out. that is the most unscientific thing i've ever heard.
 
ha ha ha ha!
batgirl posts an exclusive interview of aj pierzinski.

found the link at the raindrops.
 
a new direction
there's a new blog: the baseball pod. its purpose is to coordinate the efforts of the baseball pod project. it won't be very interesting to most of you, but it is public.

in the past i have had a "people will work on things if they want to" attitude. the result has been that there is little direction. i've always done it that way because that's the way it works for me. but i'm gonna change my style. people appreciate a little motivation on a project that they're interested in.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
 
flutter by
the new yorker has an article about knuckleballers.

maybe the coming age of the pitcher will see a knuckle explosion.

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