Link Dump: Shout-out edition

Is Joba throwing too many sliders?
Game 126: Avenging a sad loss

Just a couple of links to kill the time before Pettitte takes the mound.

Check out the Daily Box Score

Over the course of this past off-season, two blogs became daily reads for me: Beyond the Box Score and FanGraphs. The writers at both sites do a good job of cultivating discussion about the game. Those not statistically inclined might not like it as much, but even then it’s not all about the numbers. It’s about trying to gain a deeper understanding of how the game works. And along with that will come many bad ideas. The best of us have them.

I’d like to plug one column in particular, and that’s Tommy Bennett’s Daily Box Score. Every day he curates a number of links which probe deeper into the game. Not only are the links always good — and not always with a statistical bend — but Tommy does a great job of weaving them together. Plus, he’s a friend of RAB, so make sure to check it out.

Sabermatrician disagrees with Ben

Remember that bit on bunting Ben wrote this morning? It eventually made its way to BBTF, and by those means made it to The Book Blog (linked in the headline). Tom Tango points out what he thinks are two false statements, and then plugs his book, specifically the 50-page chapter on bunting. My bookmark has been at that point since the beginning of the season. I feel kinda stupid now that I haven’t read it. It’s only been freaking five months.

Appeals court votes against steroid list seizure

So it looks like we won’t be seeing the remaining 100 names from the 2003 performance-enhancing drugs list any time soon. In a 9-2 decision the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the government was wrong in their seizure of the list. “This was an obvious case of deliberate overreaching by the government in an effort to seize data as to which it lacked probable cause,” wrote Chief Judge Alex Kozinski.

“The risk to the players associated with disclosure, and with that the ability of the Players Association to obtain voluntary compliance with drug testing from its members in the future, is very high,” the judge wrote. “Indeed, some players appear to have already suffered this very harm as a result of the government’s seizure.”

So while names might still leak out — presumably there are still sources who have this information — they might not be as forthcoming. MLBPA lawyer Elliot Peters thinks that the leakers “should be investigated and punished.” It’s tough to argue against that. Even so, it’s a shame that A-Rod, Ortiz, Sosa, and Manny will take the fall for this, while 100 more players will remain anonymous.

Community scouting project

Tom Tango makes his second appearance in this post because of his ambitious project: community scouting reports. The idea is to break down defense into a number of categories and have people who have seen the players fill in their ratings. Tango makes a number of points in the introduction, including what I consider the most important: if you’re not sure, skip it. It’s tough to see how Melky Cabrera takes his first step on a fly ball if you’re only watching on TV. This is meant to provide an accurate assessment, not prove how smart you are.

You can check out the Yankees report here. They have more entries than any other team — surprise, surprise. Everything looks pretty good, though I think Jeter’s footwork is a bit better than 0.1 (on a five-point scale) better than A-Rod, and I wouldn’t say his footwork is any worse than Cano’s. In any case, I’ve got some idea for ratings in my head, but I’m going to pay a bit more attention over the last month and make sure I hit a few games with these observations in mind.

Is Joba throwing too many sliders?
Game 126: Avenging a sad loss
  • Tony

    Melky (1) isn’t that fast and has (2) terrible instincts.

    • Accent Shallow

      I think “terrible” is overstating it, but he’s not exactly awesome out there. I think his instincts are on par with Gardner, which isn’t really saying much.

      • Matt ACTY/BBD

        I think Gardner has much better instincts than Melky. The former seems to take much better routes to the ball than the latter.

        • Accent Shallow

          Maybe, or does Gardner’s speed mask his poor jumps?

          • Salty Buggah

            It probably does and that’s what makes him a significantly better CFer defensively.

          • Jamal G.

            No, it doesn’t. I’m sure I need a much larger sample size, but taking a look at Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, something stark jumps out at you:

            In 1,674.1 defensive innings in center field, Boston red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury has a -11.6 mark. In comparison, Brett Gardner’s career UZR mark in 670.2 defensive innings in center field is 17.7. Now, by all accounts these two have the same speed, so the initial reasoning behind these stark differences in defensive performance is a lack of an ample track record for the latter, and that the former may not take the greatest of routes to ball hit in his “defensive zone.”

        • Drew

          It’s tough to judge instincts by watching the game on tv. Even in person, it’s rare that you’ll just focus on the centerfielder on every play.
          Both Melk and Gardner have taken missteps before adjusting and tracking the ball. One thing is certain, Gardy’s speed helps him adjust and get to balls that maybe Melky couldn’t get to.

          Another thing, Grit plays very shallow and Melk plays somewhere in the middle, sometimes deep. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

    • Tony

      Melky is probably better at tracking balls, but he generally gets bad jumps. He has slightly above average speed. I really see him as an outstanding LF or good RF more than a CF (though his bat doesn’t work in the corners). Gardner doesn’t get great jumps, but he’s faster and usually takes routes to balls that aren’t comical.

      Melky has a low baseball IQ. You can see this in every part of his game. The hero swings, the bad baserunning, the fact that he has seemingly never hit a cutoff man.

      • Drew

        Melky runs like a gremlin and you love it. Admit it Tony!!

        • Tony

          He does, and it is amusing. I can admit to that.

  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    In Ben’s defense, people discussing his post at BBTF should note that Tango’s criticism of Ben’s post came up in the comments beneath the original post, and Ben addressed them.

  • Mike HC

    Ben took the specific circumstances into account in his article. The fact that Swisher has never been a good bunter and Melky was hitting behind him. That seemed to be more of just a plug for his book then actual criticize of Ben’s article. Tango was pretty generic and general in his “disagreements.”

    • Jamal G.

      That’s the thing, although I agree with ben, I think the argument is that those in our camp may not have looked at the specific circumstances in a complete and total manner. The argument I brought up just below states that we can;t just look at the circumstances being that a slumping hitter is on-deck, but that said slumping hitter’s tendencies and that of the hitter up at the plate needs to be closely looked at to better judge the wisdom of the bunt.

      • Mike HC

        I agree that you have to look at the specifics, and the specifics still say don’t bunt. There was a good chance Swisher would not even get an effective bunt down, which he didn’t. Secondly, all Swisher had to do was get on base, and he gets on base at a much higher clip than Melky. He didn’t even have to make contact of any kind

        • Jamal G.

          Yes, but as stated below, the chances of him reaching base safely is more than cut in half in regards to him recording an out via the strikeout or fly-ball.

          It’s funny: when you hear mainstream types say “play the percentages” in regards to bunting, they are correct, it’s just that the percentages they are referring to are incorrect – it’s not about which situation breeds a greater probability of scoring, but what the batter is more likely to do with his at-bat based on an ample-sized track record.

  • Jamal G.

    Although I continue to disagree with the bunt, reader Mike Emeigh (I AM Calvin Coolidge) at BBTF made the best pro-bunt argument I have seen:

    You can’t use generic run expectation matrices in this situation – you have to look at the specific configuration of hitters coming up and tailor your strategies accordingly.

    The next two hitters in the Yankee lineup were Cabrera and Jeter. Neither is a power hitter, both are more likely to make contact than Swisher and both are more likely to hit a ground ball than is Swisher (with the possibility of a double play looming with a runner on 1B). […] If Swisher hits a (non-HR) fly ball or strikes out – both of which he does with some frequency – then you have runners on first and second (or maybe first and third) with one out and two guys who put the ball in play on the ground with some frequency.

    The ground-ball rates of both Melky Cabrera and Derek Jeter are 48.9% and 54.6%, respectively, and both respective numbers are second and first amongst Yankee hitters that have garnered 200-plus plate appearances this season.

    Nick Swisher’s fly-ball percentage of 44.6% is the highest amongst the sample group, non-Mark Teixeira division. Also, as Mike pointed out, “Swisher hits a (non-HR) fly ball or strikes out …” quite often: in the 384 at-bats Swisher has amassed as a member of the 2009 Yankees, he has either recorded an out via the strikeout or hit a ball into the air 70.6% of the time. That being quite the fucking large number, Girardi saw fit to eliminate that quite probable occurrence and call for the sacrifice bunt.

    The more I look at the situation and the relevant numbers, the more I begin to understand what Girardi was thinking. Who knows, maybe the absolute manner in which we view the bunt (i.e., Swisher is a good hitter; Melky sucks; NO BUNT!) needs to be looked at in a bit more complex manner.

    • Mike HC

      Coming up with numbers for why a hitter will most likely fail in any given situation is extremely easy to do. You could basically do that for every hitter in every situation.

      • Jamal G.

        Agreed, but how does that change the credo that says a manager’s or coach’s job is to put his players in the best possible situation to succeed? In this case, success is defined as reaching base safely, not hitting into a double-play, or not recording an out via a fly-ball. Seeing as how there is no move that Girardi can employ to greater increase the chance of Swisher reaching base safely, his only other available options are to significantly – or eliminate – decrease the chances of Swisher striking out or recording an out via a fly-ball.

    • Evan

      Once again, maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to critique Girardi. That’s not to say I agree or think it was the right move but it certainly makes the decision more understandable than it seemed to me at the time.

    • toad

      He hit a line drive or fly ball 174 times in 471 PA’s. But guess what. Seventy of those were hits. So I don’t see the 70.6% as an overwhelming argument.

  • LivefromNewYork

    I didn’t like the bunt and I did say this morning that I’m a fan of Girardi’s wonkiness. Maybe he overthinks some things, but at least he thinks and doesn’t always go to cookie cutter solutions. He’s not SO outside the box as to be outrageous but I think (and I’ve said this before) he tries stuff and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

    One thing I do know is that the bunt sparked some interesting discussion.