Friday, September 24

A few notes on the Tribe

Loved this article from WFNY which effectively articulates why Paul Hoynes' ridiculous pro-pitcher-wins-as-a-stat article was so bad and really kind of embarrassing to read.

I was somewhat concerned to find out that Indians manager Manny Acta opposes instant replay. That's a fairly indefensible position to take, if it really is his view. He also said something in Cleveland magazine to the effect of, "the less I know, the happier I am," which is a troubling thing to hear from a man whose command of information strongly affects the performance of my favorite baseball team. Ignorance isn't bliss, it's ignorance.

I get bummed out a bit by Negative Nellies ripping the Tribe while they're down, especially when it's unjustified. Not surprisingly, a frequent Indians-basher over at The Cleveland Fan has taken some more shots at the 2010 Wahoos, and not surprisingly, most of it is ill-informed and unfair. Inspired by this week's FJM reunion, I'm on it.

I was coming home from somewhere really important (because everything I do is really important) on Wednesday or Thursday night and listening to the Tribe game on the radio.

Jayson Nix made his first appearance of the evening at the dish and Tom Hamilton said, "Nix comes to the plate in a 4 for 33 slide."

I said to myself, "That’s not a slide. 4 for 33 is pretty much just Jayson Nix."

4 for 33 is .121. Nix is batting .244 on the season. Never let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

For me Nix epitomizes the 2010 Tribe season.

That’s because he’s just not very good to the point of being pretty damn bad.

His OPS+ is 100, which is okay to the point of being pretty damn exactly league average. If all our players were as effective at the plate as Nix, we'd have a few more wins.

Even the guys in the lineup that are put on a pedestal like Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo are really just pygmies amongst midgets. They’re not bad ball players but neither are they the guys you’re going to build your club around. I hate to be the most negative man on the planet but look at the numbers for these guys.
I think he actually does enjoy being the most negative man on the planet - otherwise, why keep doing this?

Choo is hitting .294 which is good for 28th in the league. His OPS is .866 which is good for...28th in the league.
Batting average is not a useful indicator of player value - this is well-established by now. It simply does not correlate to scoring runs and winning games. On the OPS tip, note that Choo plays in Progressive Field - when you adjust for park factor and use OPS+, he's seventh in the AL. He's also 8th in offensive WAR (wins above replacement) and second in the entire AL in WAR. Read that again: by WAR, which statistically-oriented people view as the most comprehensive measure of player value, Shin-Soo Choo is the second-best player in the American League in 2010.

He’s hit 19 HRs (65th in the league) and has driven in 80 runs which is tied for 41st in the league.
Come on, we're past using RBI's as a metric, right?

Nice numbers.
Better than nice.

Add in his ability to throw and you’ve got a solid player.
Choo is also second in the AL in defensive WAR, just a shade behind Franklin Gutierrez, meaning that Choo is rated as the top right fielder in the league. Let's not gloss over this.

What you don’t have is a superstar like the midgets around him in the lineup and the fans still following the team might have you believe.
Also, the numbers would have you believe that, if you looked at ones that best reflect player value.

And yes, those midgets in the lineup probably reduce Choo’s numbers across those statistics I gave you about 5%. There aren’t many guys getting on ahead of him or scaring opposing pitching behind him so his numbers would be improved in a better lineup (as would anyone’s numbers).
So you're saying he might be the American League's single most valuable player in 2010 on a better team? Interesting.

Cabrera is even more 'blah'. That’s a .264 hitter with 3 HRs and 24 RBI on the season. His OPS is .649 y'all. That’s damn near Lou Marson. Well, it’s not quite that bad but Sweet Lou has the same number of HRs and a similar number of RBI.
Goodness, please stop using RBI. It's not 1985 anymore. But agreed, Asdrubal has had a poor season at the plate, though let's remember that he OPS+'d 113 a season ago, plays shortstop, suffered a broken arm mid-year, and is only 24 years old.

And it’s not like Cabrera is doing all of his damage by stealing bases and scoring runs. He’s scored five more runs than Marson and has 3 fewer stolen bases than the Tribe’s light hitting catcher.
Runs, the best way to measure player value.

The decomposing corpse of what used to be Travis Hafner
OPS+ of 125.

is leaps and bounds a better offensive player than Asdrubal Cabrera and Hafner is vilified and the butt of many a jokes from Tribe fans.
The criticism of Hafner isn't just because he's less effective than he used to be: he also does not play defense, can't hit every day, and makes literally twenty-six times as much money as does AstroCab.

Why do we elevate the Choos and Cabreras to a status they probably are not worthy of?
Because Cabrera was one of the AL's best shortstops just one year ago and Choo is one of the most valuable players in the American league and they make, combined, less than $1 million? Was that supposed to be a rhetorical question?

Because on a roster loaded with guys like Jayson Nix and Andy Marte they stand out not so much because they rise above others on the major league landscape but more so because the landscape in Cleveland is a couple thousand feet below C-level.
Clearly they are more valuable to the club because of the lack of other talent around them, but especially in the case of Choo, this doesn't mean that they aren't among the game's best players as well.

That’s what this club is facing right now. They’re bad and their best players are mediocre.
Except for Choo and Chris Perez, both of whom are way better than mediocre.

Add in the fact that they don’t even have enough of those mediocre players to force dregs like Jayson Nix out of the lineup and it’s just downright depressing.
Losing Grady Sizemore and Carlos Santana for the whole season didn't help either. I feel like this should be mentioned.

I’m trying to look down into the minor leagues and see where the kids are that will pull the Indians out of this death cycle but I can’t find them.
I'd look at the DL first.

They’re going to have to find them if they want to be relevant anytime soon. And it’s clearly not something that can be addressed by this club in free agency.
Agreed on both counts.

Hmm...maybe the Mariners are interested in making another deal?
Marte for Felix Hernandez, straight up. Hey, a guy can dream.

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