This is a very special edition of Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday. You see, as the Toronto International Film Festival strolls into town, my fine city will be inundated with a larger false sense of self-importance than a formerly nannied teenage girl throwing a temper tantrum.
As fate would dictate, The Score Towers are located mere minutes away from the heartbeat of the douchery: The TIFF Lightbox building. The type of people who not only refer to a building as a light box, but also describe it as a “dynamic cultural anchor” for the city, are running rampant in the same area where I come to and from work and consume my lunch. Not cool, fate. Not cool.
So, in addition to winding down your Friday afternoon, this week’s TSTOAF may also be used as a means of distracting oneself from the influx of people with nothing to say that are currently speaking just to be heard. Seriously, have you even been in line for a movie at a film festival?
Did you get the chance to read Ken Rosenthal’s latest column at FOX Sports on the AL MVP debate?
Let me spare you the trouble: Straw man! Generalization! Straw man! You pesky bloggers, get off my site.
I understand why some sabermetricians freak out over the MVP voting every year, howling for the mainstream media to get a clue.
But you know what?
Those analysts need to get over it.
Rosenthal goes on to suggest that the MVP vote is subjective by design and the rules literally state that there is no clear definition of what “valuable” should mean. The only problem is that no one is saying otherwise. No one is attempting to stifle debate. The people that Rosenthal is telling to “get over it” are bringing things like facts and reason to the discussion. It’s not their fault that facts and reason usually do a better job of convincing than hearsay and anecdotes. Talk to John Locke.
I once wrote the following about Dan Shulman:
I cannot stress enough how fond I am of listening to Shulman call a game. Doing play by play for such a large audience, all with different levels of baseball knowledge, is no doubt a difficult task with which to find success.
How do you make your commentary understandable to a hearing aid utilizing great grandmother who was once courted by Honus Wagner, but also appealing to the baseball nerd taking notes for his blog the next morning that’s going to rip you if you refer to batting average and RBIs instead of on base percentage and WAR?
Somehow, Shulman’s calm and correct words are able to strike a perfect balance. Like the best party hosts, he recognizes that the celebration isn’t necessarily about him. His duty is to make sure that all the party goers have the best time possible. He’s able to do this all while making his efforts seem natural.
I wish I hadn’t written those things because such praise is probably a bit hyperbolic. It becomes more regretful when I think about how it’s not an exaggeration at all if I had described Vin Scully in the exact same manner.
GQ recently spoke with the voice of the Dodgers about some of his more famous calls, and it’s probably the best thing you can possibly read this weekend.
The Maddening Thing About Fantasy Baseball
I tend to think fantasy sports are best played in a head to head format. It seems more competitive and there’s usually less of a chance that people will give up on their team halfway through the year knowing that pride will be on the line in a head to head match up against your best friend in August.
However, September call ups in baseball absolutely, positively shred the legitimacy of fantasy playoff rounds in baseball. Calculating week to week contributions is finicky business to begin with, but watering down those three or four final weeks with expanded rosters makes victory or loss next to meaningless.
In unrelated news, I was just beaten out of my fantasy baseball league’s head to head playoffs.
Shameless Self Promotion
As always, you can check out our facebook page by clicking here, and if you’re into it, try “liking” us to get updates on new videos and funny pictures in your facebook news feed, as well as the occasional link back to the blog. Staying on the social media train, you can also follow me on Twitter so that we can make snarky comments together during baseball games and learn all of my keen insights into such things as the worst place on your face to get a prepimple.
Also feel free to subscribe to our iTunes feed which will bring all the audio goodness of our podcasts and live streams and other things featuring our ugly mugs to your computer free of charge.
For more long(ish) form content, check out some of the work I’ve been doing for Baseball Prospectus. My last column re-imagined Yankee Stadium as a map in one of those fantasy books that sit on your shelf until they get turned into a movie and then you flip through them one afternoon and then lay them to rest there for ever after.
Playoff Teams Ranked
I’ve never understood the appeal of power rankings in sports. I categorize them on the same level as sports awards shows. Isn’t the whole point of competition to see who the best is? What possible benefit can be derived from subjectively suggesting that Team A is better or worse than Team B?
So, without further ado, here’s how I’d rank the playoff bound teams in terms of playing in a playoff sseries:
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Texas Rangers
- Boston Red Sox
- New York Yankees
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Atlanta Braves
- Detroit Tigers
- Arizona Diamondbacks
The All In Twins
After winning their division the last two seasons, the Minnesota Twins currently have a worse record than the Kansas City Royals in the American League Central. And so, my immediate reaction to Buster Olney’s more inciting than necessary headline from today’s column was a pointed guffaw.
But then I looked at Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau’s player profiles and noticed that their combined 1.1 wins above replacement have come after a total of 140 games have been missed between the two. Try imagining the Toronto Blue Jays without Jose Bautista and Yunel Escobar and you get a fairly accurate idea of the offensive punch that the Twins lineup carries.
Web surfers who caught a wave that took them to Getting Blanked last weekend might have noticed that their Saturdays and Sundays will never be the same again. That’s because we’ve convinced the excellent Bill Baer from Crashburn Alley to give up his weekends and cater to our editorial staff’s every GIFfin’ whim.
Check out the site during the weekends and you’ll see all the best screen grabs and GIFs from the world of baseball. And if you see something you want to see again, feel free to bother Bill on Twitter, just don’t forget to let him know what broadcast you were watching, the inning, how many outs there were, the batter at the plate, and preferably the count as well.
Speaking of Twitter, here are a bunch of other baseball nerds you probably want to get in on the ground floor of following:
- Chris St. John from Steal Of Home;
- Ian Malinowski from DRays Bay;
- Bill Petti from Beyond The Box Score;
- Jason Wojciechowski from Beaneball;
- Colin Wyers from Baseball Prospectus; and
- Jeff Euston from Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
Your baseball Twitter credibility just got a whole lot more solid. Believe.
The Best And Worst At What They Do
We use FanGraphs an awful lot in these here parts and we’re immensely grateful that the brilliant minds behind that site have accumulated all of the numbers that they have and put them in one place for our consumption without cost. While we may use certain ones more than others to explain why Player A is great or why Player B sucks, we might neglect to mention the leaders in some of the more obscure statistics we’re using. Well, neglect no more.
- Jose Bautista’s 19.6% is the best walk rate in baseball. It’s 3.5% better than the next closest batter, Carlos Pena. Bautista also has the highest win probability added. Did you hear that MVP voters?
- The most recent member of the 2,000 hits club, Juan Pierre, has the lowest strikeout rate among regular hitters in baseball, collecting a K in only 5.8% of his at bats.
- Brett Gardner receives the largest boost to his WAR through fielding with his 22.6 fielding runs above average, while future first baseman Mark Reynolds is judged to have cost the Orioles more than 22 runs by being put in the field in place of an average defender.
- Meanwhile, Elvis Andrus is judged to have created seven more runs than the average player simply through his base running, while Paul Konerko has cost the White Sox 9.2 runs more than average on the base paths.
- Jose Reyes ranks among the top of the the speed score stat which uses Stolen Base Percentage, Frequency of Stolen Base Attempts, Percentage of Triples, and Runs Scored Percentage to come up with a number.
- FanGraphs has judged Kurt Suzuki to be the worst clutch hitter in baseball this season, while Bobby Abreu has been the best.
- Ryan Ludwick has come up to bat with higher stakes than anyone else.
- Ian Kennedy leads all other pitchers in win probability added.
- Rookie Jordan Walden has come into games in higher leverage situations than any other reliever.
- 27.9% of the batters who face Zack Greinke end up striking out. That’s tops in the league.
- Gio Gonzalez walks 11% of the batters he faces. That’s also tops in the league, but I don’t think Gonzalez will ever be bringing this up at an arbitration hearing.
- 11.7% of the strikes thrown by Michael Pineda are swung on and missed. No other pitcher can say that.
RIP: Pat Burrell’s Career
There’s a possibility that Pat Burrell won’t play baseball after this season. It’s not just because he’s been a barely used cog in the anemic San Francisco Giants’ offense this season, he also suffers from some painful foot problems. I remember Burrell being a good player for several years in Philadelphia before bottoming out during his one year with the Tampa Bay Rays.
While his year in the AL East was definitely Burrell’s worst, he put up fairly average WAR numbers in Philadelphia except for in 2002 when he hit 37 home runs. The most interesting year of Pat The Bat’s career to me was in 2007 when he was judged to have cost the Phillies almost 21 runs with his defense. This could be the only case of a player with 30 home runs, a .900+ OPS and a weighted on base average of .391 accumulating a sub two WAR.