Matt Klaassen

mattklaassen

Matt Klaassen lives in the Greater Toronto Area, where he spends most of his time reading and writing obituaries. For some reason, he is allowed to write for FanGraphs several times a week. If you just can't get enough of Matt, you can also follow him on Twitter.

Recent Posts

The San Francisco Giants are in the World Series, and just as everyone thought, Marco Scutaro was the hero. Wait, who?

Yeah, Marco Scutaro, whose 500/.533/.607 line in the National League Championship Series would have been enough to thrust him into the spotlight even if he had not endured a brutal breakup slide by Matt Holliday in Game One. As a tribute to Scutaro’s performance, here are a few relevant thoughts on a spectacularly normal Major League regular.

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Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland has come under a bit of fire lately, mostly for his late game bullpen management, or mismanagement if you (like Miguel Cabrera) prefer.

However, as it is with any manager, Leyland has both good and bad characteristics. The marginal difference he makes relative to other managers is very difficult (or virtually impossible, depending on how one parses the situation) to measure. One thing beyond how he has chosen to use his relievers that has stood out to me is how he’s kept his two catchers – Alex Avila and Gerald Laird – in a platoon through the postseason.

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Do you know what would be awesome? If Brian Matusz turned out to be related to 1970s NFL player and semi-famous 1980s actor John “Tooz” Matuszak (Caveman with Ringo Starr and Olivia Newton-John!). What, you don’t remember Tooz? Oh, man, you really missed out. I’m kind of surprised to learn that he isn’t that Ogre guy from Revenge Of The Nerds. No matter, I guess I should probably stick to writing about Brian Matusz.

Last night, the 25-year-old southpaw played a key roll in the Orioles 3-2 victory over the Yankees. Matusz had a bit of a shaky beginning to his appearance, but when he came back out for the eight he got three straight outs after giving up a single. It was a big moment for Matusz, who after being a hot prospect and showing some promise as a starter in 2010, had his pumpkin turn into an unmitigated disaster in 2011. This discouraging trend carried through to this season, until he was transitioned to the bullpen near the end of the regular season by manager Buck Showalter.

In his new role with team, Matusz has pitched very well, and after last night, he obviously looks like a savvy inclusion on the Orioles’ post season roster.

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Wow, what a season. And with such a big comeback at the end.

I am referring, of course, to our final look at the Getting Blanked Catcher Defense Ratings for 2012. Was there something else that happened?

When we last examined the rankings, a new leader had emerged. Will his work over the last month of the season hold the tide against the waves of challengers trying to unseat him and claim the title of Getting Blanked’s best defensive catcher? An answer to this, some other random comments, and, crude ratings of the defensive value of every catcher who saw time behind the plate in 2012, all after the jump …

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The list of upcoming free agent position players is what’s politely referred to as interesting. With an increasing number of players signing long-term extensions before they ever meet free agency (and looking at the recent Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Braun, and Joey Votto contracts, why not?), the pickings are increasingly slim, and it looks like it is going to be that way for a while.

Obviously, Josh Hamilton and David Ortiz are two big names on the list, but neither is an obvious high-demand guy like (to stick with just a few examples), say Prince Fielder last year, Carl Crawford the year before (yeah, he really was in demand back then), or Mark Teixeira in the 2008-2009 off-season.

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In case you haven’t been following things: there is a heck of a race going on, to see who is really the most valuable player in the league. That league, of course, is the National League, where Ryan Braun, Andrew McCutchen, and Buster Posey are all having great seasons for playoff contenders (or former contenders, in the case of McCutchen). One could also make good cases for players like Chase Headley, David Wright, and Yadier Molina, among others.

Yes, perhaps MVP arguments are silly. Some will say that the awards really “don’t matter.” My reply to that is there are many things that don’t really matter, for exmample, sports. So argue away.

Given the excitement and debate (that should be) going on around the National League MVP, it is only fitting that topics of discussion (at least on my Twitter feed) have been dominated by the American League MVP. While Mike Trout is running away with the “stathead (to use Jerry Crasnick’s term) ballot,” there is dissent on others.

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Get this: injuries are bad for baseball players and their teams. It is a tough and shocking truth, but I’ll be brave enough to put it out there.

Recovered yet?

I don’t think I need to elaborate on that point, at least not on the obvious dimensions: the lost playing time, the (usually) inferior replacements, and so on. However, something quite different has struck me this year: the way season-ending injuries can make players look better than they should. I call it the “injury halo.”

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