Tuesday, November 06, 2007

November is the cruelest month ...

or maybe that was April. If my boy T-money had run a sports blog instead of penning whackjob Modernist opuses, he'd have changed the month but kept the title: we're in the Waste Land. (That's right, mothereffers, I just dropped a T.S. Eliot reference into the first line. You know you missed me.)

So it's been awhile, awhile as in amonthorso. I been busy, you know? I've been writing postmodernist short stories about gay priests and reading Oakley Hall and Haruki Murakami and applying for jobs in Singapore and dressing up as Kevin Federline, in addition to my usual hatin' and perpetratin'. And besides, nothing of note has happened. back then the Phillies were on the fast train out of Playoffsville and the Eagles had just been curbstomped by an NFC East rival.

Well, the train arrived on schedule. Otherwise, shit is the same. What about the World Series, you say? What about it? Maybe you mistook me for some asshole chowd if you thought I gave a flying f-word. All it did was cement Boston, a city I used to love above all others except Philadelphia, as the red dot on the target of my sporting hatred. Worst sports fans in the world. I miss the curse. Let's move on.

What about Pats/Colts, you say? Actually, I doubt anybody said that, because the goddamned game was covered like a fresh body by everybody from Stu Scott to your neighborhood Pats douche. And AFC football resides right above IHL hockey on the list of sporting leagues I give a shit about.

What about the Eagles? Oh Christ, who even cares anymore. They suck for all the reasons I've been talking about for years. Their offensive and defensive playcalling expose their personnel weaknesses rather than playing to their strengths. They have no receivers. The coaching is as abominable as I've ever seen. Westbrook can't save them when he doesn't get the touches, and McNabb's not good (or healthy, or both) enough to win games on his own anymore, which has been true for two years. The only new thing that's come up in the last few weeks is that Andy Reid's house is a drug emporium. He still won't be fired this season, so I'll have to watch the same bullshit next year -- pass every down on offense, blitz every down on defense -- and, barring a 4-12 season (which I'm praying for this year), he might not be fired even then. His contract is too big. So from here on out I'm just waiting for them to finally blow it up and rebuild. And drinking. A lot.

There's the J-Roll for MVP campaign I've been trying to mount. But the NL MVP isn't announced for two more weeks, and the voters will give it to Holliday, because his team made the World Series (where he and they both pulled an epic choke job), and because they don't care about the fact that he's not an MVP-caliber player on the road, or other little things like the defensive half of the game or speed or runs scored.

The start of the NBA? Please. Why don't we just write about NASCAR.

College ball? Well, it's early, but Lute Olson has taken a leave of absence. There's that. But I don't know what to say other than that I wonder if Parkinson's disease qualifies as a "personal reason." The only person with any sort of inside perspective whom I know, TGWNA's good friend Anonymous, didn't have much to say about it. Personally, I think this is his last season. He looked horrendous by the end of last year -- you no longer need to be looking or have HD to see the shakes and bewilderment -- and so did his team. I don't worship Lute like most Tucsonans and UA alums, because I've had to interview him and I've watched immensely talented but poorly coached UA teams choke for the last six years. But it's still really sad to see this. I've been a UA fan for a long time -- I went to his basketball camp in sixth grade, and have the hopelessly awkward picture to prove it -- and I certainly don't have any animosity for him, either. (Can't speak for my compatriot on that one, though.)

Maybe I'm way off here. I'm sure something else really is going on to prompt the leave of absence. But I'm also pretty sure the team will play better without him, and that his age will become an unavoidable issue this year, and that, even in Tucson, the whispers have probably already started. Once that happens, it's only a matter of time. I think the best-case scenario for Lute lovers is that he remains the figurehead for two more years, with O'Neill running the show behind the scenes. Let's just hope O'Neill can pull a Ben Howland and turn around a sinking program. I guess the worst case is that he never coaches another game, but I don't think that'll happen.

But hey, what do I care? As of tomorrow, I'll be a member of Sixth Man! Suck on that, you public school plebes.


eriz said...

Just a couple of things

MVP is voted on before the playoffs start, and common perception at the time was that Philly would whip Colorado.

Coors Field park factor: 109
CBP park factor: 105

Holliday OPS at Coors: 1.157
Holliday OPS on Road: .859
Rollins OPS at CBP: .892
Rollins OPS on Road: .859

Coors isn't that much better of a hitter's park than CBP, and Holliday OPSed 1.157 there. That's incredible.

Rollins WARP3: 11.7
Holliday WARP3: 11.7

Rollins is an average fielding SS, and Holliday is an above average fielding LF.

The fact of the matter is that Holliday is a better hitter than Rollins. While Rollins is playing a premiere defensive position, Matt's incredible offensive season resulted in identical WARP3 values.

Rollins may very well win the MVP, and I wouldn't be upset in the least; but he sure as hell didn't deserve the Gold Glove he won.

Diesel said...

@ eriz
As is readily apparent to anyone who's read this blog, I am very much a fan of sabermetric evaluations in arguments like this, but I'm starting to have a real problem with WARP3 as a reliable measure, because of the use of Clay Davenport's Fielding Runs as the defensive component.

Quite simply, I'm as unwilling to believe that Matt Holliday is an above-average fielder as I am to believe the same about Johnny Peralta, two players who tally impressive FRAR (Fielding Runs Above Replacement). Even Clay Davenport has expressed some dismay at the fact that his system thinks so highly of Peralta, and I imagine the same could be said of Holliday. So, I believe Holliday's WARP3 is inflated in this regard, considering that he looks like an absolute butcher in LF.

Also, I think Rollins is an above-average SS, though he's certainly not the best fielding SS in the NL. When healthy, it's Adam Everett by a wide margin, and this year Tulo should have been the winner. But it's not like the GGs mean anything, anyway.

I still think Wright is the MVP, a position that's supported by WARP3, VORP and traditional measures held against positional scarcity. But Holliday and Rollins aren't horrible picks, and I'd probably give the edge to Holliday if it's a binary decision, even though Rollins is one of my three favorite players in the majors right now.

Pepe said...

According to your unsupported (at least here) opinion, Rollins is an average fielding shortstop. According to the managers of his opposing teams, he's the best in the NL. Why should I believe you over them, especially when you don't give any support? I'm not saying the Gold Glove is the best evaluation of a player's defense (Bobby Abreu, anybody?), but at least bring something to the table if you're going to say Rollins is average defensively. Especially when it's not true. It's ludicrous to say that Matt Holliday is better defensively than Jimmy Rollins. Why? Because zone rating, one of the most flawed measurements extant, says so? Please.

You're also cherry picking your offensive stats. Since the WARP3 is identical (and since I don't care about it), using OPS to support some kind of advantage is essentially comparing a 5'8," 160-lb shortstop to a hulking left fielder as if they played the same role in their respective offenses. Which is nonsensical. The fact of the matter is that Holliday drove in more runs, while Rollins produced more. That's because they have different offensive roles -- Rollins batted first or second all year, while Holliday hit in the middle. That'd be like me saying Rollins was clearly better because he stole three times as many bases, had three times as many triples, and scored more runs.

Rollins also put up his stats while starting 162 games at the most valuable position and amassing a MLB record for ABs in a season and -- if you believe in clutch -- coming up huge in the game that sent them to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.

The fact that they have identical OPSes in other parks doesn't help your argument much, either. Like I said, Holliday wouldn't be a viable MVP candidate if it weren't for Coors. Rollins still would be if it weren't for CBP, because his other numbers support it.

Pepe said...

That last comment was for the OP, not for you, Diesel. I was typing my comment when yours went up.

Diesel said...

One interesting thing to note, now that I've looked everything up:

Holliday by Fielding runs:
FRAR: 33
FRAA: 15

Rollins by Fielding runs:
FRAR: 48
FRAA: 15

So, if we're going by the defensive components used in WARP3, both Holliday and Rollins were equally above-average. The difference in FRAR numbers can be attributed to the lower threshold set for a replacement SS, which intuitively makes sense.

This doesn't change my feelings about Fielding Runs, by the way. I just thought it was interesting.

I'm not sure about Pepe's assertion that Holliday wouldn't be in the running were it not for Coors. He'd still be the best hitter on a playoff team if the Rockies played in Dodger Stadium, which would account for something. But where eriz sees a remarkable home OPS as a big factor in his decision-making process, I see that kind of split as a problem. Maybe enough for me to reconsider my already tentative support of Holliday's superiority over Rollins.

Pepe said...

And here's a quick and dirty comparison I just did: projecting a hypothetical season in which each player played 162 games on the road.

106 R, 186 H, 44 dbls., 2 trip., 22 HR, 300 TB, 110 RBI, 70 BB, 136 K, 14 SB (at a 70% success rate)

140 R, 216 H, 50 dbls., 18 trip., 24 HR, 374 TB, 94 RBI, 56 BB, 100 K, 42 SB (at more than a 80% success rate)

Those numbers are skewed a bit because Rollins started 82 road games, and Holliday only 76. But that in itself is also another category in his favor.

I rest my case.

Brett said...

Diesel ---

Is pepe referring to you when he says re: not having animosity toward St. Lute: "Can't speak for my compatriot on that one, though."

If my memory serves me right, was it you who Lute called out at the Pac-10 tournament as being a "yellow" student journalist?

I don't remember why, but I slightly remember that happening. Maybe it was Wolfson.

Diesel said...

Yep, that was me.

eriz said...

oh yeah, I think Wright deserves the MVP without a question.

But frankly the Holliday vs. Rollins debate is silly. I'm not trying to argue that Holliday is somehow more deserving of an MVP award. All I'm saying is the contentions you make about Holliday are a bit bombastic. Some people try to make the argument that a guy's hitting should be judged solely on Road batting. Most players bat better at home because they know the park and use said park to his advantage. A batter with an .859 OPS season on the road will rarely OPS 1.157 at Coors. That's a ridiculous season that waaaaaaaaaaaaay overachieves any estimates on Coors' park factor.

FRAA stats are without question highly suspect and more so for Outfielders.

And I'm not saying that Rollins is an average defender persay, just that his season is pretty middle of the pack in the NL by most metrics.

eriz said...

and I can assure you that at least %90 of Holliday's Coors field HRs would have been Home Runs in nearly any ball park

Pepe said...

Look, you left the original comment saying it was a fact that Holliday was clearly a better hitter than Rollins. It's just not true. That's all I'm saying. Unless you really think the effect of Coors field is because he just magically knows how to play better there, and not because it's 5K feet higher than most ballparks.

The road numbers don't lie. Look at the hypothetical I posted above. That's the best thing I can think of to imagine what each player would do in an imaginary "average" MLB ballpark. And Rollins has a clear advantage.

I don't see Wright winning it for reasons that are not his fault.

eriz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eriz said...

do you really think Holliday only hits 22 HR at an imaginary neutral park?

You are completely ignoring Holliday's spectacular season hitting at Home. Coors is without a doubt the best hitter's park in the majors, though not by the enormous margin it used to be. But does Coors, by itself, turn an .860 OPS hitter into a 1.157 guy? No no and no.

Rollins is the better baserunner and defender, but there is no question that Holliday is a better hitter.

Holliday's 2007 park adjusted EqA is .325. Rollins' is .297. And that metric contains a strong contribution from stolen bases.

So, basically what you're saying is that Coors' park factor of 109 applies only to players not named Matt Holliday. Coors field park factor (adjusted for matt holliday) is obviously 126.

Bill James himself said that he could not bring himself to punish a Red Sox player (i forget which one) who made a living bouncing doubles off the green monster. Don't punish Holliday because he hits better at coors (where he plays half his games) than any other batter hits at coors.

Diesel said...

I know this is hard for either of you to accept, but you're both right. That means the other's not wrong.

Coors alone doesn't explain Holliday's home performance, nor does it diminish it; those numbers still count. And, as eriz points out, EqA does a pretty good job of bringing everything into account with offense (including park effects), and Holliday was about .25 points better than Rollins.

However ...

Rollins' offensive season, coming from the SS position, is as impressive as Holliday's raw numbers if we're comparing. Holliday is a great-hitting LF in any park. Rollins, at least this season, was unquestionably the best offensive SS in the majors not named Hanley Ramirez, and Ramirez is one of the worst defensive players in the majors.

Man, it's nice to have arguments up in this piece again. Who said November sucks?

eriz said...

And furthermore, to make your argument you propose we throw out thousands of sample points that determine how much of an impact Coors field has on batters in general. Then to top it off, let's throw out half of a season worth of Plate appearances from each batter, thus further raising statistical uncertainy of your conclusion.

eriz said...

okay, last point. I'm at work and am currently bored to tears. Look ,I like Jimmy Rollins a lot. The Phillies are the first baseball team I followed as a kid, so I still like them too.

I think making a argument of Rollins vs. Holliday in terms of overall Value is pointless since both players are very comparable in terms of dumbers yet serve different roles both defensively and with their bats.

I'm just really sick of hearing about Coors as some sort bastard ballpark that turns average players into Babe Ruth. Yes, Coors is a hitters park. But it's not a home run mecca anymore and actually plays more or less like an average "hitters park." I actually think PetCo is even more of a disgrace to baseball than coors is, because games there are so goddamed boring.

Expect more livid ranting over the merits of meaningless awards when i come back to work tomorrow.

Have a good night fellas

Pepe said...

No, you're absolutely right (or I guess that would be "yes, you're absolutely right" ...), it is kind of pointless to compare the values of two players who are so different. That's the thing with MVP debates -- they're such a pain in the ass. "Valuable" is too arbitrary. Maybe that's why so many people (including me) listen too much to their gut.

As for Coors, I have the same exact feeling about CBP. I want to kill Smoltz and Glavine every time they whine about it after losses. And while I think Petco's dimensions were a really shrewd business decision, watching baseball played there puts me to sleep. (Literally. I took a two-inning nap the last time I was there.)

Anyway, thanks for the comments, and look forward to seeing you around here again.

Big C said...

That "The Guy from Boston" fella is so cool, it's scary. He is my new best friend; my doppelganger, if you will. A less hairy, more Italian (seems impossible, no?) version of myself. And I thought that all of the heroes were gone.