The Great Debate: Closing Remarks (….At Long Last)

Net-net, the 2010 team is better than the 1998 team offensively. Easiest way to demonstrate this? Well, if you read through the lengthy argument here, discussing 2010 versus 2009, I think it’s fairly clear that 2010’s team is better at the plate. Johnson and Granderson compare positively to Matsui and Damon (though plenty of people have let me know, in no uncertain terms, that they think that’s bologna—nevermind the statistics!). Feel free to disagree. But bring some statistics to back you up, would ya? Next, add in a full season of A-Rod (rather than having him on the DL the first month, and a shell of himself for the first month or so after he was back). Finally, just for good measure, slot Brett Gardner in for Melky Cabrera. For those of you who think this isn’t a big difference (or that Melky is better, even), consider this: two weeks ago Gardner took the lead over Melky for career WAR. Gardner, in 1/5 the playing time of Melky Cabrera, has been worth 3.7 wins above replacement. Melky clocks in a 3.4. Five times as much playing time, folks. Brett Gardner’s not just better than Melky–he’s a lot better than Melky.

So where does that leave us? 2009’s offense (.366 wOBA) was better than 1998’s (.361 wOBA), and 2010 is very likely to be better than 2009. Seems pretty simple to me.

Defensively, the two teams are pretty comparable. Given our lack of advanced statistics tracking back to 1998, I’m not going to waste more of your time writing about it.

So the final piece is the pitching—and as TCM and I both suggested earlier, it’s pretty close. Data can be found here.

Not convinced? Worried about Javier Vazquez’s poor start? Fret not—even with Vazquez’s early season ERA of 9.00 (!!) included, 2010’s starters (3.62 FIP) have been flat out better than 1998’s (4.11 FIP). Now, it’s early in the season—I don’t expect that sort of dominance to continue…same as I don’t expect Javy Vazquez to continue stinking up the joint. He’s got a solid track record—and a .345 BABIP thus far in the season (which, compared to his .308 career number, suggests that he’s been quite unlucky on balls in play). He’s also watched two outs turn into hits due to the crappy play of Marcus Thames in LF (both came at critical points, and each led to multiple runs). Again…this guy was the second best pitcher in the National League last year by FIP. Yes, there’s an adjustment to make going from the NL to the AL. So go ahead—tack on a full run to his FIP. He’s still the 2nd best pitcher on the 2010 Yankee staff at 3.77.

And on the other side of things, could Phil Hughes surprise to the upside? If you’ve watched his starts so far this year, I think you’d be hard pressed to not be a little bullish.

Finally, the bullpen (stats can be found here–same as above):

Look, we’re splitting hairs with this discussion. Both bullpens are quite good. 1998 may have a slight edge…but it’s not enough to outweigh 2010’s advantage in the rotation. Working with just what we know—1998’s bullpen put up a solid 4.24 FIP. Thus far in 2010, it’s been a tick higher, at 4.45.

So 2010 takes the offense, and pitching/defense both appear to be at worst a wash. So, call me crazy, but I’d take 2010 over 1998.

Here’s another fun bit. Since Alex Rodriguez returned to the team on May 8, 2009, they’ve played 161 games, and won 108 of them. OK, so that’s not 114, and they’re left 6 games short (5, if they win tomorrow). However, if you look at the Pythagorean Records, the gap narrows a bit—1998 sits at 110, and this sample (2009-2010) sits at 105. Which is close enough, if you ask me. Why? Because the competition the 2010 team is and has been up against is dramatically better than the competition that 1998 were up against. Call me crazy, but as I see it a team that can put up a pythag of 105 in the AL East in 2010 is better than a team that can put up a pythag of 110 against 1998’s version of the AL East.

This is where it gets a bit hazy. I’m sure somebody out there has a way to quantify this—but that somebody isn’t me. Just consider, however, the rise of the Tampa Bay Rays, from the worst of the league to the top four or five teams in baseball. The Red Sox have improved as well. With the exception of the Blue Jays, the entire AL East has improved. I’ll just ask openly—you think that if the Yankees were to play the 1998 Devil Rays instead of the 2009 Rays, they wouldn’t average a few more wins? The 1998 Devil Rays scored 620 runs….and were scored on 751 times—good for a pythag of 61 wins. In 2010, they’re a lock for 90+ wins. (Look at that, I do have some numbers.)

In the end, what’s it all mean? Means it’s good to be a Yankee fan in 2010—and don’t be shocked when they’re testing triple digit wins in mid-September.

Remember: You heard it here first.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

THE GREAT DEBATE!

Will and TCM will continue with their cases, each having made their Opening Statements:

For the next phase of this debate, we examined the infields of the 1998 Yanks versus the 2010 Yanks:

We’re now into the Outfielders and DH of the 1998 Yanks versus the 2010 Yanks:

And the pitching staffs can be debated here:

And the Closing Arguments:

25 thoughts on “The Great Debate: Closing Remarks (….At Long Last)

  1. Bret

    Last year they scored 915 runs and gave up 753 for a phythag of 95-67.  This year they are currently on pace to score 864 (or 51 fewer runs).  They are winning because they are only on pace to give up 603 runs at the moment which would be many fewer than the 1998 team and which you and I know will not last unless you expect Petitte to end the year with a 1.29 ERA, Hughes to turn into Bob Gibson etc.  However, the hitting has included an incredible start by Posada and Cano but poor starts by Johnson and Tex.  Everyone else is pretty much on pace with last season so far so I don't see where the extra runs will come from and given that Johnson is hurt (again) he can't be relied upon to replace Matsui.  I think a good prediction for them is around 850 runs which is basically their current pace.  And I don't see the pitching holding up at nearly this pace.  If they score 850 runs and give up the same number of runs as last year they will be on pace to win exactly 90 games which is what I've been saying all along.  You keep stating they will win triple digits this year without realizing how lucky they were last year to win 103.  If you think the offense is being understated for some reason or you think the pitching is going to give up fewer than 4 runs per game all year I'd love to hear the rationale. 

  2. Jimmy

    Good article.  I think the numbers need to be put in historical context though.  What was the league average wOBA in '98? My guess it was higher than it is now.  That would give the advantage to the '10 team…. the same wOBA in '98 doesn't buy quite as many wins (a priori of the pitching).  On the other hand, the 2010 team is batting in the hitter-friendly new Yankee stadium, inflating their wOBA.  Might it be more useful to compare the away splits of each team's wOBA?

    Same goes for the FIP.  Baseball players aren't hitting the ball as hard now as they were in '98- maybe that explains the FIP differences.  My guess is that the higher HR/FB ratio in '98 might be enough to explain the FIP discrepancy.  I'd be curious to see their FIP with historical adjustment for HR/FB ratio.  That's clearly more work than anyone actually wants to put in, but would certainly be interesting.

  3. Bret…stick to trying to argue that Melky Cabrera is better than Brett Gardner. It's more fun for me to argue that one.

    In terms of being lucky to win 103 last year, sure–it's definitely tough to win 103 games when your best hitter is missing for a full month (and is replaced by Cody Ransom), and your #2 pitcher goes down for the season in April (and is replaced by Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin). Could that sort of thing happen again this year? Sure. Is it likely? No.

    And regarding the small sample size–of course. I certainly didn't claim that any of the performances so far had stabilized–and that includes both Javier Vazquez and Mark Teixeira, both of whom will have good years for the Yankees, despite being amongst the worst in baseball to this point in 2010.

    Your posts here have consistently been very assuming that the status quo on things which you believe will continue. This includes Vazquez being bad, Brett Gardner being bad (remember back when you suggested he'd been benched for Randy Winn?), now it includes Johnson being injured. That's gonna happen from time to time with Nick.  But as far as I know, he's in the lineup today. Of course, on the other side of things, anything that you don't believe in is bound to change. Seems a bit disingenuous a position from which to argue.

    At the end of the season, if the Yankees win only 90 games, you'll have a post in your honor, here at IIATMS. That's how confident I am.

  4. Jimmy,

    You're absolutely right–and i wrestled with how to incorporate such a discussion in this post. Unfortunately, it'd take a lot of time, which is something I lack these days.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Will

  5. Bret

    No, I think Tex and Vazquez will be okay but it is now highly unlikely that Tex has as good a season as last year and Vazquez will not have close to a 2.87 ERA which is what he is getting paid based on.

    There are both sides to the early start, Cano is not going to hit .368 and Posada isn't going to hit 35 home runs.  Hughes had one good outing, more power to you if he turns into Christy Mathewson but he and Petitte are probably going to end up slightly better than league average.  Remember Sabathia and Burnett were very good and healthy last year, Petitte was solid and Aceves was great out of the bullpen as was Rivera.  Joba wasn't horrible either so I think the team will be satisfied to give up 753 runs again given all that went right in 2009, only one thing went Wang. 

    But I'm looking forward to the post.

  6. Bret:

    Last season Mark Teixeira was *worse* than his three year average. It boggles me that you keep beating the "Tex won't be better than last year" drum. He's actually more likely to be better. Vazquez isn't getting paid based on a 2.77 ERA–he's the 4th highest paid starting pitcher on the team–and as noted above he doesn't need to win the CY Young to be a ton better than the rabble that filled his role last year.

    Your comments on Pettitte seem fairly far fetched given that he was better than league average last year (and the 10 before that, or so) and he's looking great this year. Will he stay this good? Of course not. He doesn't need to!

    And to suggest that "only one thing went [wrong]" as if losing Chien Ming Wang was a small thing….Wang was one of the better pitchers in the league, and the Yankees' ace, for a couple of years. Losing him for the season was *massive*.

    Look, I like the discussion, but some of your points lack any research at all.

    Will

  7. Bret

    Will,

    The stats back me up offensively.  They are on pace to score fewer runs and no one other than Texieria is playing horribly while several are playing above their heads.  Face it, their offense is old with Jeter, Posada, Arod - and Gardner isn't very good, Swisher had a career year last year and Granderson has been steadily declining year by year and can't hit lefties.  Cano has improved but still isn't taking very many walks and eventually many of his hits will turn into outs.  They still have a good offensive team, it just isn't as good as last year due to career years by several and age declines and Damon and Cabrera's departure.

    As far as pitching, they will be fine but they aren't going to give up many or any fewer runs than last year.  Their top three are still good but they were good last year so no improvement.  Wang only made 4 starts last year so he couldn't have done that much damage, Vazquez has been almost as bad already.  The big wild card is will Hughes be that much better than Joba was last year.  I say that he won't (but even if he is the setup man will be worse than Hughes last year) and that the runs allowed will be right in the 750 range.  They are a good team, the Red Sox aren't very good so the Yankees probably make the playoffs.  I'm not saying that they suck, I'm just saying that triple digit wins or anything close to it is extremely unlikely.

  8. Bret,

    For the stats to back you up, you'd have to quote them–which you mostly don't. The stats that you *do* quote are polluted by odd assumptions. For instance, you suggest that the team will allow the same number of runs as last year even though they're not on track to do anything close to that so far. You base this on the idea that CC and AJ are unlikely to repeat their performances of last year (newsflash…CC was below his three year average last year as well…he's likely to do better). You go on to suggest that Hughes will do worse than Joba did last year (which looks pretty silly so far) and that Joba will do worse than Hughes last year (can't argue this one too much….but you can't really have it both ways. One is a better pitcher than the other, and will do better than the other.) On pitching, you're very quick to suggest that anything good for the team is only due to small sample size, and anything bad will stick around.

    On batting, however, you're quite happy to latch onto the projected outcome if they continue hitting at the same level that they have been, and suggest that *that* will remain constant till the end of the year. Because that one backs your argument up. Again, you can't have it both ways. Either you disregard all performance thus far (both batting and hitting, constructive for your argument or not) or you accept that they *both* have around the same level of predictive power.

    Moreover, you keep harping on the idea that the team will be worse due to Melky Cabrera's departure. You can tell me that the sky is neon green all you want…doesn't make it so. Interesting fact (not opinion)–Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera to this point have been worth 0.5 WAR. Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner have been worth 0.8.  And while Brett Gardner's been playing a bit over his head, so has Johnny Damon (unless you buy into the concept that Johnny Damon will be worth the same amount as Albert Pujols at the end of the year, which he has to this point–they're both at 1.0 WAR total). That's right…Granderson and Gardner have been more valuable than Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera. Getting into opinion (though opinion backed up by a string of facts through this discussion), I'd bet the house that Gardner is more valuable than Melky this season. I might bet the car that he'll at least double Melky's WAR value, but that's a slightly riskier proposition.

    And on the concept that no one is playing below their expected level other than Mark Teixeira–Alex Rodriguez (the best hitter on the team) has yet to start hitting for power (he's 30 ponits below last years wOBA, and 50 below the last three years average). Think that will continue? Derek Jeter isn't doing anywhere NEAR what he did last year so far–falling from a .390 to a .344 wOBA. I buy into the concept that Jeter is going to regress…but you really think he'd fall off a cliff that fast? (given that it would help your argument, maybe that answer is yes). And while Robinson Cano is above his head right now (falling back to last year's performance is worth 91 points of wOBA), Mark Teixeira's spread is far bigger (getting back to last year's performance, which was again below his three year average, meaning he's likely to surpass it slightly, is worth *130* points of wOBA).

    This idea that the team is outperforming offensively is based on gibberish. I haven't even mentioned Nick Johnson yet (or do you suggest he's going to go on the dl with a season ending injury tomorrow?) The idea that team is outperforming pitchingwise so far has merit–but your suggestion that they will be worse than last year just isn't based in much either, as discussed ad nauseum here.

    I'm throwing *objective* statistics at you here. Consistently. One by one. Not generalizations, or opinions, etc. And I'm just about done with responding.

    Will

  9. One last thing. "Wang only made 4 starts last year so he couldn’t have done that much damage." That's the point…he was slotted in for 35 starts, and the Yankees were hoping for the horse that won 19 games *two years in a row*. They got crappy performance for four games and then *nothing* for the rest of the season. That's a DRAMATIC loss.

  10. Bret

    Right but who replaced Wang in the rotation and what was his ERA?  Go look at Aceves' ERA last year.  I think Sabathia and Burnett will be fine, but if they repeat their performances they aren't better, they are the same.  As I said before, the offense is pretty much doing what one would expect, there is no one other than Tex and Johnson who one can definitively say will be much better than their current numbers and Cano and Posada neturalize this – Jeter has 3 homers already, he won't hit 25 homers, he hasn't been that bad and is hitting .296 and he is aging – he isn't a vampire from Twilight.  Pitching is different because Petitte has been unbelievable.  It sounds to me like your hypothesis is that Petitte and Hughes will have sub 2 ERAs, Sabathia will have a 3.4 ERA again and Burnett will be as good.  You know that is due to small sample sizes and has no chance of continuing but the offense isn't – it is due to age and guys coming off career years and a left fielder who couldn't hit the ball out of my backyard.  My points have been made clear, you don't need to respond but I think as the season moves along you will start to see things more objectively.

  11. Will@IIATMS

    Man, I am a glutton for punishment.

    Bret:

    I hope you're not suggesting that Aceves replaced Wang in the rotation (he had a single start). The four headed beast (Aceves, Wang, Gaudin and Mitre) started 25 (!) games, and put up a ball-achingly bad 7.39 ERA. You think that Vazquez isn't going to beat that by a long ways?

    Incremental regression by Burnett and Pettitte (again, CC is likely to incrementally *surpass* last years performance based on a 3 year average) is not going to wipe out the gains from having a servicable pitcher in the place of our rotating scrap heap from 2009.

    And if it sounds to you like I think Pettitte and Hughes are going to have sub 2 ERAs, you should get your ears checked. Everyone regresses to the mean over the course of a big enough sample size. That includes Vazquez on the other side of the eight ball.

    Next: Jeter having 3 homers really doesn't mean he's overperforming. I already mentioned his actual statistics up above (wOBA, which is so, so, so much more useful than HR) is drastically below last year's #. He's likely to be MORE productive to the team than he has been so far, but LESS than productive than he was last year. And the ground between those two points is rather large. Jeter's a player with whom we're very, very likely to see improvement on performance *thus far in the year*. Also: do me a favor and don't try to break my argument by quoting a rate statistic again….that's like bringing a rock to a gun fight.

  12. Bret

    Okay, how many runs approximately do you see them scoring and giving up?  To think they will win 100 games one would have to believe they are going to have a net gain of runs scored/allowed versus last year which is going to be virtually  impossible for the many reasons I stated.

    Aceves and Gaudin were both great last year, Mitre wasn't but if you combine the three of them their ERA was respectable for a back end starter.  Wang totally distorts everything because he was so afwul but he was gone well before June and hardly pitched.  It is sort of like saying that Hawaii is now a dangerous place to vacation because of Pearl Harbor.

    Again, I don't see the pitching as a weakness on the 2010 team, I think it is a strength just like it was a strength last year.  But I think it is a stretch to say they will be better than the 2009 team in terms of runs allowed unless something very unanticipated (like Hughes turning into Pedro Martinez) happens.  The offense is going to be the issue, it is good but not dominant like last year.

    The great thing about baseball is one of us will be proven right and one of us will be proven wrong come September.

  13. Will@IIATMS

    Bret,

    This is getting kind of tiresome. You're arguing that it would be impossible for the run differential to be better than last year, giving the bang up evidence of "for the reasons I've stated". I've basically torn your reasons apart, one by one, using hard, cold statistics. Statistics that don't care what your gut tells you, or how you feel–they just tell you what has happened, and what is likely to happen.

    To continue in that vein–you suggest that Wang's performance skewed the number upwards. That is undoubtedly true. However, he contributed less than 40 innings to the group as a starter. Take him away, and you've still got a terrible number there. And, by the way, we don't get to take him away. He was, in fact, there. Just as Javy has been there this season so far. We don't get to "mulligan" his performance, and act like it didn't happen. So as pointed out, the key number is still the 7.39 ERA that we got from the spot currently filled by Javier Vazquez. And could he be that bad? I suppose it's possible, just not likely.

    Frankly, I don't much care that you "think its a stretch to say they will be better than the 2009 team in terms of runs allowed". Not only has my analysis (5 or 6 articles of it on the topic on this site alone) suggested that for a few months now (objective analysis, based on statistics, however much it disagrees with your belly), they currently look great, too. I certainly don't expect this level of dominance to continue–as with most things, I expect it to fall somewhere between where it is now, and where it was last year. Which, necessarily, makes it better than last year. Heck, I might write you a post if just the pitching (by FIP, mind) is worse than last year across the team. Statistically, it's fairly unlikely.

    I'm not going to give you a guesstimate of how many runs I expect to be scored on and against this team. There are a whole bunch of moving parts to that, which would include far too much uncertainty. What I will tell you, comfortably, is that the team is likely to both score more runs, and be scored on less times, than last year.

    And I can't say this enough: this isn't based on how I feel. It's based on the statistics that I have put together. If the statistics suggested otherwise, I'd be shouting that to the world instead. I certainly haven't held back in my criticisms of the Yankees in my blogging life—so please don't take this as homerism.

    Heck, to be honest, it's harder to blog about the Yankees when they're constructed like this, because there is a LOT less to complain about, and those tend to be the easiest articles to write.

    Will

  14. Bret

    Most players begin to decline at age 28.  The Yankees have 1/3rd of their lineup at least 6 years past that.  I know you love Granderson and Gardner, you have made that abundantly clear but the fact is that neither is as good as you think or WAR calculates or whatever.  Granderson has been steadily declining as an offensive player the past three seasons – that is a fact (2007 -.913 OPS, 2008 – .858, 2009 – .780) and say what you want about Melky and Damon, they combined for 37 homers and 64 doubles last year – I don't see Grandy/Gardner/Thames coming anywhere close to that.  Those are facts that you say I don't use.

    Another fact – Tex had 39 homers and 43 doubles last year, that leaves 37 homers and 40 doubles in the next 143 games to match.

    Another fact – Posada's defense is terrible, cost them a big run last night and his hitting ain't going to continue at this pace.

    Another fact – The Yanks have scored many of their runs due to poor defense (not always called errors) by the other team – Texas was horrible defensively and Izturis error last night gave them two extra runs.  Without bad defense, they are on a much slower run pace and they are already well behind last year with those bonuses.

    The Yankees are not going to score as many runs, there is no way.  Type whatever you want into excel but I will be proven right.

    Pitching wise I'm less inclined to make a huge argument, I think their pitching is very solid – I just don't think they are going to exceed last year because they had three very solid starters, a decent 5th starter and good middle relief and a tremendous setup man.  This year the 5th starter will be better but middle relief will be worse and the setup man won't be as good.  I see it as pretty even with last year.

    Either way, I will be here in September to gloat or give a mea culpa.

  15. Will@IIATMS

    Bret,

    A lot of these arguments are really easily defeated by very few keystrokes. For instance, you say how Tex has so little time match last year's production…at this time last year, he had 3 HR and 2 2B. This year he's got 2 HR and 3 2B. That took me about 20 seconds to look up. Why even bother making that point?

    Posada's defense is indeed rough, but he's certainly not the bottom of the league. He's a chunk below average…if you want examples, simply look over at our friends in Boston, who have two terrible defensive catchers splitting time. And then consider that Posada is one of the best offensive catchers in the game (in the history of the game, in fact).

    On Melky and Gardner, sure, if you take OPS it's going to slant towards Melky-it overweights slugging FOUR to ONE against onbase percentage. That's a poor statistic to use if you want to actually take total production into account…which is what the statistics I'm throwing at you do. (wOBA, WAR)

    I always find it disappointing when people who don't understand statistics regress to the "your statistics are wrong" argument. The statistics aren't right or wrong. Maybe the conclusions I'm drawing from them are wrong–it's entirely possible.

    I guess we'll see.

  16. Will@IIATMS

    By the way–I'll go on the record with this tidbit. Having spent some time looking at Granderson's spray charts and HR charts, don't be surprised if he hits 37 HR himself, given the short right porch he now gets to aim at. Granderson has very, very solid pull power.

    And on Gardner…if you understand the purpose of slugging (total bases), consider Gardner's steals, because they are essentially turning singles into doubles (plus the mumbo jumbo about distracting the pitcher). Tack those extra bases on, and his "slugging" knocks Melky's out of the park. I know that's not an accepted way to look at this–so take away this: Gardner's stolen bases have value, even a lot of value, given how rarely he gets caught. That's value Melky that evens out the doubles and homers Melky got from time to time.

  17. Bret

    If you don't like OPS fine but Granderson isn't a big on base guy and his OPS was high because of sluggling.  I know Tex started slow last year as well, what I'm saying is he isn't likely to outperform last year's great season given his slow start.

    If you take a pot of 9 hitters it would look like this.

    Jeter – had a great year last year and would likely see regression even if you didn't factor in age.  Factor in age plus regression and it could get ugly (his 2008 was very unspectacular).

    Posada – soon to be 39

    Arod – now 34, off roids, and with a bum hip.  He isn't a 50 homer guy anymore, maybe 35 but even that might be a stretch.

    Cano – will be better than last year but guys who never walk can only have so much upside.

    Granderson – thought of as a superstar type player but the numbers don't back that up.  High power, low on base guy who strikes out a lot and struggles versus lefties.

    Gardner – no power threat, great speed but with a lifelong history of low on base percentage.

    Swisher – what if he reverts to somewhere in between 2009 and 2008?

    Johnson – Already hurt and struggling, doubtful he will be better than Matsui.

    Tex – probably will be similar to last year

    That lineup needs a lot to go right to score 900 runs barring a free agent signing or something else.  Remember Cervelli is getting significant time also and he hasn't exactly made Bill Dickey nervous.

    I don't see it happening but I'm always willing to admit mistakes and the runs scored column at the end of the year will be the determining factor.

  18. I simply don't have time to respond to all of this. I'll make one specific point, though–which kind of relates to your general argument style.

    You suggest that Brett Gardner has "a lifelong history of low on base percentage". Except his OBP at the major league level is .345 (.330 is average), and his OBP from the minor league level (significantly larger sample size) is *.375*.

    This is, again, easily researchable if you take the time before just spouting whatever is on your mind.  There are a few other doozies in here that I simply don't have the time to provide the actual numbers against. If you're going to continue this discussion, at least try and get it to the point that we're arguing the interpretation of statistics/performance, rather than the veracity of your claims.

    Will

  19. Aaaaand I made an error myself. His OBP at the major league level is .334 (fangraphs.com), which of course leaves him at slightly above average.  His OBP in the minors (from thebaseballcube) is actually .389.

    He's likely going to settle somewhere in between those two numbers. Apologies for the error.

  20. Bret

    Will,

    Stats can be made to do whatever you want I guess.  Gardner's OBP at the major league level is .334.  And while you are probably correct (I don't have time to research) that .330 is probably average, most guys with a .330 OBP stick around because they hit a double or home run once in while.  His speed is a huge asset but you have to get on base first and he hasn't shown that he has a propensity to do that.

    It is really a very simple argument I'm making, 1/3rd of the lineup is very old for baseball players, 2/9th replaced guys that were better than them, 1/9th is often hurt and is replacing a guy who was excellent last year, 1/9th is off to a horrible start off an MVP type year, 1/9th had a good year last year but a terrible 2008 and 1/9th never takes a walk.

    I'm just having trouble understanding where you see them outperforming last year.  It doesn't make logical sense.  Does that mean they won't score runs?  No, it just means they won't score as many as last year.  They are still a dangerous offensive team but they hit 244 homers last year, take 40 or so homers away and they are going to have to make up for it somewhere else – I don't see where.

  21. Bret

    And who cares what Gardner did in the minor leagues?  Chris Tillman threw a no-hitter last night for Norfolk, does that mean I should get champagne out the next time he faces the Yankees?  The big leagues are a whole different ballgame and he has had a fair number of at bats at that level without much progression. 

  22. Bret,

    If you don't care what Brett Gardner did in the minor leagues, why refer to his "lifelong on base percentage"? He's not yet played a full season at the major league level. Sure, I don't expect him to match his minor league numbers–but in the absence of a long track record at the major league level, that's a fairly useful datapoint. Nevermind that thus far this season (his first in which he's begun as an everyday player), his OBP is .394.

    And no, of course I don't expect that number to remain so high. But neither do I expect it to drop to a .330, given evidence through his career (yes, which includes the minor leagues) that he's got a fairly good batting eye.

    Just because it doesn't agree with your argument, doesn't mean you should flat out ignore it. Unless your main goal is to 'win' the argument, rather than find the correct answer.

  23. Bret

    I meant Damon.

    And when you compare Melky's 2009 to Granderson 2010 it doesn't compare very favorably for Granderson so far.

  24. Bret

    His batting eye matters little, he plays on a very good team and he is clearly the worst hitter on the team.  Pitchers will throw him strikes no matter what, it is on him to hit his way on.  Even if he becomes a .300 hitter I question his value because he won’t walk much and will maybe have 10-15 extra base hits and that is being kind.  He could easily hit .300 with a .700 or below OPS.

    But it isn’t so much that I don’t like his game and you do, it is that he isn’t nearly as good as the 2009 guy offensively in terms of extra base power or getting on base either.   He is going to have to steal a lot of bases to make up that difference.  Unless the Yankees have someone hidden away that I don’t know about, they have their work cut out for them to approach last year’s numbers.  I’m not trying to win the argument, I’m just trying to analyze each postion in terms of last season.

  25. Bret:

    Melky Cabrera Career OBP: .329
    Brett Gardner Career OBP: .334

    How again is Melky a better OBP guy than Gardner?

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