Viewer Mail 2.16.2011

Spring Training

Joe writes RE WAR:

The way you look at WAR is wrong. It is a statistic trying to tell us how good a player is, taking into account all facets of the game. You don’t bring in “team” just like you shouldn’t in MVP discussions, etc. It is all opportunity driven.

James K also writes RE WAR:

Yeah, you’re misunderstanding WAR. Check out WAR primers from FanGraphs and Yahoo!

Now, now…coming at me with a condescending pat on the head—no matter how slight—will not be met with a positive response.

Um…yes, I do understand WAR; but the way it’s presented is of little use to me because I don’t need to have a starting point of zero to get a grasp on the value of a player.

It may sound egotistical, but I don’t care; I can judge a player without a baseline number comparing him to some generic “Triple A player” who’s available, replaceable and negligible in performance to the next guy.

In a team sport, how do you not bring team into the discussion? Would Jayson Werth have accumulated his 5.2 WAR from 2010 had he not been in the Phillies lineup? What’s his individual value going to be with a rotten team in 2011, the Nationals?

My guess is that it’ll go down; and even if it doesn’t, so what? What good does this do if one component of the unit is head-and-shoulders above his counterparts on his and other teams and the team is still terrible?

Let’s have a look at an example different from Werth; a cog in the machine if there ever was one: Scott Brosius.

With the Athletics in 1996 and the Yankees in 1998, Brosius had a similar WAR of 5.3 (1996), and 5.7 (1998). The 1996 A’s went 78-84; the 1998 Yankees 114-48.

If either team had Brosius or didn’t have Brosius the results would’ve been close to what they were; as a part of the group he was an important part, but that had little to do with the end results positively or negatively.

How do you remove the team aspect in judging a player in a team sport?

Baseball is a sport of freedom within structure; of individual within a team concept; you can succeed individually as much as you want, but without the team you’re nothing.

The number assigned to the player based on WAR has nothing to do with winning in that team concept especially when it’s interpreted wrongly and treated as a final answer in judging a player who might put up big numbers because he’s part of a great team and in an advantageous situation.

According to the suggested links of WAR explanation, this is not taken into account.

Maybe this will, er, slam my point home in a clearer fashion:

The Other Mike in The Bleacher Seats writes RE Zack Greinke:

But, his ERA last year was 4.17, which is more par for the course for Greinke.

I can’t believe in the guy when he follows up his Cy Young campaign by reverting to such pedestriocity.


The rule here is that no one uses words that I don’t understand.

Actually his 2.16 ERA in 2009 was more out of line with his career than was the 4.17 in 2010.

Check his Gamelogs and you get a clearer picture of how he pitched. Looking beneath the vanilla result presented by ERA, you can conclude that the increased walks and homers emanated from poor location; Greinke wasn’t hitting his spots as he was in 2009 and he gave up more walks and homers which led to the repeated crooked numbers he allowed.

Objectively, the Brewers didn’t give up that much to get Greinke and it was a no-brainer for them to make the move whether it works or not; my main question with him is his emotions and how he’ll react to expectations that were previously—again to the WAR debate— individual and non-team related; no one expects anything from the Royals in a team concept (at least, apparently, until 2013 when the prospects supposedly arrive); the Brewers are supposed to contend now and without a big performance from Greinke, they won’t.

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE C.C. Sabathia:

Yeah, I don’t see him opting out… but, Bengie Molina hit for the cycle so anything is possible I suppose.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan also writes RE Sabathia:

CC can certainly test the open market after this season, but as you say – Who will pay him more than the Yankees will/can? Meanwhile, he had knee surgery and has to prove he can bounce back THIS season.

The opt-out is put into the contract for a reason and with the way Sabathia’s pitched, the market and his durability, he’d be foolish not to consider it. Much like the Yankees exposed themselves stupidly with their public disagreement, Sabathia and his agent are leaving that door open so it’s known he might be available after the season.

It’s in his mind that no one can outspend the Yankees; but the chasm between Brian Cashman and his bosses regarding Rafael Soriano, plus the clear desperation inherent with the club considering Carl Pavano and signing the retreads they have clearly have emboldened Sabathia to make let it be known that he has the choice at his disposal.

Norm writes RE Mike Francesa and Bernie Madoff:

Francesa still taking calls on Madoff…and still revealing ignorance…this is what happens when you are surrounded by lackeys and yes-men; no one has the temerity to tell him he should shut up and not embarrass himself.

I didn’t mention it when it happened, but you reminded me of the recent show dedicated to the 2000 Mets-Yankees World Series and his interview with Don Zimmer; Francesa went to great lengths to praise Evan Longoria and, without saying it specifically, there were the ever-present shots at David Wright because he’s Wright and not Longoria.

The familiar themes—egomania, omnipotence, expertise not just in sports but in everything—have rendered Francesa transparent to the newer listeners as well as the old. It’s tiresome.

3 thoughts on “Viewer Mail 2.16.2011

  1. Sometimes, to get your point across, you have to make up a word. Like pedestriocity.

    …and, that’s exactly my point. For all but 1 year Greinke has been middle of the road. If he was hitting his spots in 2009, that’s great, but is he going to do that in 2011? I have considerable doubts.

    While it may have made sense for the Brewers not giving up much, it certainly didn’t make sense to my team. The report was Elvis Andrus + Martin Perez + other top prospects (or something like that).

    Too much for too little.

  2. Great take on WAR.

    (Personally, I feel it’s just a way for stat zombies to think they sound cool when they talk)

    So, looking forward to your take on the Pujols sitch… on Jon Heyman’s “reports” and Ken Rosenthal’s “reports”, etc.

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