Author Archives: Mark Smith

Legitimacy

And that’s a shame. Over the past few years, I’ve come to love the sabermetric community and many of the people within it, but situations like this remind me that legitimacy and the struggle for it is like walking a tightrope. It’s a perilous climb to the top where a breeze one way or the next might knock you off (this is where sabermetrics is, and this is the most dangerous part; once you get to the other side, it’s harder to be knocked off), and when you get to the end, it often looks a lot like it did when you started. Sabermetrics is getting to the point where its ideas are becoming legitimized and accepted, and as they gain this new power, certain people seem to be taking liberties with it, including the right to not be challenged.

Tom Tango called out the post and colored his audience’s reading of it before he even gave it a chance.…

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Shields or Ubaldo?

These two charts show what their values are if they are establishing new levels of production. Shields takes the lead, but it’s not by nearly as much as the last scenario (Edit: It’s much closer now, if not dead-even, but this scenario seems the least likely of the three). The value of Jimenez’s contract is pretty overwhelming. Shields’ contract is getting past the point of being a huge bargain, though it is still a bargain, but Jimenez’s is a massive bargain.


These two charts are if the two go back to being what they were before this season, which I think is the second-most likely scenario. Both seasons could be blips, and it’s possible that either player could just go back to being what they were. In this scenario, Jimenez lays waste to Shields (Edit: Still does, just slightly less so).

As I said, lots of things could happen. That’s the hard part of being a general manager, but I wanted to quantify it a little for you to see their values to illustrate a few important points.…

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Derek Jeter and the All-Star Game

The reasoning is probably fairly obvious. If you’re a first-ballot guy (whether or not you believe in such things), you’re probably a consensus great player, hence a “legend, and a guy that people will remember for a long time. Derek Jeter clearly fits that description. There’s no disputing that he’ll go in the first time, and I think he’ll go in with one of the highest percentages ever. The problem, of course, is as I stated above. You have to draw a line somewhere. Would Chipper Jones, if he played next year, be considered? He’s definitely a Hall of Fame player, but will he get on the first time (I imagine he will)? Would a guy like Roberto Alomar have made it?

But in this instance, I’ll argue that you put those fears aside. Hall of Fame elections are important and have lasting impact. Allowing a “legend” player who will probably get in anyway isn’t really hurting anything if he gets another All-Star appearance.…

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Home Plate Collisions

Another argument is that Posey and all catchers understand the risk when they sign up to play catcher. It’s notoriously demanding behind the plate, and catchers know what they’re getting themselves into. It sounds good on the surface. Well, what do you think about factory workers? Back at the beginning of the century, they understood the risks of working in Industrial Revolution factories, but society still realized the conditions were too dangerous and changed the situation. Yes, they understand the risks, but that doesn’t mean they should be there to begin with. Yes, if I had the chance to make millions as a catcher, I would do it, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t prefer to do it without getting crushed at home plate.

I also saw this argument, but I don’t think it was common. Catchers have pads and can withstand being hit. Just in case you believe this, yes, catchers have pads, but they aren’t great. They’re only somewhat helpful against half-pound leather projectiles, but that’s usually one after the ball has hit the ground.…

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Saying Good-Bye Is Never Easy

Then the rift happened. Frank Wren refused to give Smoltz what Smoltz thought he deserved, but it was pretty easy to dismiss him. Smoltz was known for his competitive fire, but he could also be stubborn. You could love Smoltz like a brother, but you knew the parents were making the right decision by not giving him everything he wanted.

Glavine was a bit harder, though. He was always the consummate professional, always polite, and wasn’t asking for the moon. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury during Spring Training that kept him out of the starting rotation, and when Tommy Hanson blew through AAA hitters, the Braves had to make a decision—put Glavine in the rotation or let the rookie begin his career. The Braves chose Hanson. Glavine was understandably upset, and I had no idea how to feel. On one hand, Glavine wasn’t the best choice for the rotation, but on the other, this seemed disrespectful. Didn’t Glavine deserve one more chance?…

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Sight and Truth

In the morning, I walk out of my apartment toward my car, and a man is getting into the car to my left. That’s the pure sight/interpretation part of it. It is what is actually happening at that moment. I, however, can make more of an observation than this. Knowing this car belongs to someone, is that the person it belongs to? Does that person live here? Have I seen them before? How is he getting into the car? All of these questions ask me to apply meaning to what I’m seeing and make a judgment based on that. Whatever I decide to, though, won’t be completely backed up by evidence. He could be trying to jimmy the door open, and while that should tell me that he’s a thief, it may also mean he locked the keys in his car and doesn’t want to call and pay for a locksmith. Analysis, even with the best evidence, may be a bit misguided without knowing the entire situation and what went into it.…

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“Best Player Available”

First, you obviously consider talent. You want to know how good a player is now and can be in the future. But this is fraught with danger. Can you really tell who is better than who right now? Sure, Gerrit Cole is better than the guy available in the third round, but is he really better now than Trevor Bauer? And what about comparing pitchers to position players? How can you tell Cole is better than Rendon, or that Rendon is better than Danny Hultzen? Not only do you have this “present” question, you have to worry about the future. Cole might be better than Dylan Bundy now, but who will be better in 4 years? Who will have the better career? Crossing the pitcher-hitter boundary again, will Rendon be better than Bundy? And what about high schooler vs. high schooler? Will Bubba Starling be better than Bundy in a few years? And which of these (present and future) talent do you weigh more heavily?…

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Cole, Rendon, and Drafting Pitchers vs. Position Players

Argument for Pitchers

Pitchers are one of the most valuable resources in the baseball universe, and if you can find young pitching, you’ve hit the jackpot. Unfortunately, pitchers are so precious because they tend to get hurt more often than position players because of the extremely unnatural motion they must make so frequently. While you already have normal attrition for prospects as they fail to make the adjustments to move up the minor-league ladder, pitchers have the added obstacle of avoiding major injuries that diminish the quality stuff they had when they were drafted.

And that’s why you should draft more of them. If pitchers have the same talent obstacles to getting to the majors and the added injury factor, you will need more of them in your system to off-set the severe attrition taking place. But you don’t want to simply get any pitcher. You need good pitchers near the top of the draft to ensure that you have more than the Pittsburgh Pirates staff.…

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How Much Do You Really Want Felix?

The above table shows a projection of his value over the next 4 seasons. Hernandez has been worth about 6.5 wins each of the past two seasons, and there’s no reason he can’t match that and even eclipse it as he continues to mentally and physically mature. For the win values, I started with $5 million per win for 2011 and added $0.25 million to the win value each season for inflation, which is probably a little low but I’m trying to be conservative. Over the next four seasons, I’ve projected Hernandez to bring in a surplus value of $81 million, which leads us to our next question—what is that worth in terms of talent sent back.

For now, let’s stick to prospects. According to Victor Wang’s research, we have a decent idea of what prospects are worth. Jesus Montero would start the asking price, and as a top 10 hitting prospect, he would be worth $36.5 million, leaving the Yankees with $44.5 million more to fill.…

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