This week’s mailbag features some questions about pitching stats, top 100 prospect rankings, and potential replacement for Joe Girardi. If you want to send in a question, use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.
Anonymous asks: BRef updated their WAR calculation by adding park factor adjustments. As a result, CC leads both Felix and Liriano. In conversations about the CY race, we mostly talk about raw stats and do not talk much about the park factors. Does this change you guys’ mind about who should be CY?
No, not particularly. WAR is a great way to measure a player’s production, but it’s not the be all, end all. Felix Hernandez and Francisco Liriano not only benefit from their pitcher friendly home parks, but also because they play in weaker divisions than the AL East. It might make more of a difference if the three were close in terms of performance, but it’s clear CC Sabathia lags behind the other two. Let’s look:
Felix: 225.2 IP, 2.5 BB/9, 8.5 K/9, 0.6 HR/9
Liriano: 178.1 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 9.5 K/9, 0.2 HR/9
CC: 217 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 7.4 K/9, 0.7 HR/9
Liriano clearly has the best peripheral stats of the bunch, and really it’s not even that close, but he’s thrown 47.1 fewer innings than Felix and 38.2 fewer than CC, which is a ton. That’s what, five or six starts worth? If it was five or ten innings, fine, but 40? Eek. Sabathia’s peripherals are the worst of the bunch, but the difference between his homer rate and Felix’s is negligible, and the same could be said when you look at their road stats (0.8 HR/9 for CC, 0.7 HR/9 for Felix). The Mariners’ ace obviously has a big advantage in FIP (.301 to .356) given the strikeout and walk rates.
I get the ballpark factor, but I think Felix has just been so absurdly good and it hasn’t mattered where he’s pitched. That’s up for debate and not for me to decide, but that’s my two cents.
Anonymous asks: You are allowed to remove one measuring statistic (such as RBI, Batting Average, UZR, FIP) from the public’s consciousness. In addition, you are allowed to make one statistic mainstream. Which one do you choose for both, and why?
I’d probably trade pitcher wins for FIP. A win doesn’t tell you anything, just that a starter completed at least five innings and left the game with a lead, regardless of size or how he actually pitched. FIP at least provides some context and removes the things the pitcher can’t control, which actually gives you an idea of how he pitched.
If wins were called something else, like say “times left with a lead,” perhaps they wouldn’t be so highly regarded. The term “win” absolutely has some connotations to it that can cloud judgement. Bartolo Colon was maybe the 20th best pitcher in baseball when he won the Cy in 2005, but he had those 21 wins. Just doesn’t make sense to reward a guy with a personal counting stat when his teammates do half the work, if not more.
Will asks: Can you see Montero, Romine, Betances, Brackman, and Banuelos all in the top 100 prospect ranking? If so, where?
Yes, I definitely think all five can crack just about any top 100 list. Montero is one of the five best prospects in the game, so he’ll be right up there. Even if someone feels like being particularly harsh about his defense and uncertain future position, the bat still makes him a top ten prospect. Anything lower than that and there’s some Yankee hate factoring in.
The pitchers are very tough to sort out because they’re all so close. Based on how I feel right now, Banuelos is the best prospect of the three, followed closely by Brackman and then Betances. Either way, they’re all legit 30-60 range pitching prospects, and while that seems like a large gap, it’s really not. The difference between the 30th best prospect and 60th best prospect on a typical top 100 list is very small and not worth getting upset over. What is important is that all three are not quite elite pitching prospects just yet, but they’re all very good and among the best in baseball.
Romine’s prospect standing has taken a bit of a hit this year because he struggled so much in the second half (.237/.292/.349 after June 1st, though he did finish strong and has played well in the playoffs), and even though we understand this is his first full season as an everyday catcher, that’s not a get out of jail free card. He’s still a good prospect and should comfortably slot in the 60-100 range. If you want me to be more specific, 70-80 sounds about right.
Anonymous asks: Next year if the Yankees don’t resign Joe Girardi, who do you think would the be best fit for the job?
Girardi’s future with the team is in question thanks to this latest and oh so ugly slump, though I’m almost certain he’ll be in the dugout running the team next year. But if not, if he’s instead in Chicago or the broadcast booth again or whatever, let’s look at some options to replace him.
I think the Yanks would prefer to replace him with someone familiar with how they do things, meaning someone either in the organization right now or someone who was in the recent past. Bench coach Tony Pena is an obvious candidate, and third base coach Robbie Thomson could receive consideration as well, though his lack of managerial experience at the MLB level works against him. Both have been linked to other managerial jobs recently. Triple-A Scranton coach Dave Miley has big league experience with the Reds and is certainly familiar not just with the “Yankee Way,” but also the players he’s coached (Brett Gardner, Phil Hughes, etc.) and worked with in Spring Training (all the vets, basically).
Don Mattingly’s name is sure to come up, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to take over for Joe Torre in Los Angeles after the season. Tony LaRussa’s contract is up in a few weeks but he should be a zero factor. He’s probably the worst-case scenario when it comes to a new manager. Padres’ first base coach Rick Renteria is generally considered to be one of the best managerial prospects out there, but he has no prior relationship with the Yanks or big league managerial experience. I really don’t know too much about potential managers beyond that, unfortunately.
In terms of traits, basically every manager needs to have patience and be able to command the respect of his players, but a Yankee manager needs absurd levels of patience and must be good with the media. If he’s not, it can get real ugly, real quick. You’re not going to find a perfect manager that does all of that, but you have to hope to get someone close to that.