Friday, December 4, 2009

In The Weeds

One thing you've certainly noticed if you read Ghostrunner on First at all this season is a certain affinity for Brandon League. I love him because he's unique and because he's awesome. Despite nearly giving up on League in August, by season's end I was convinced of his ability and feel he's ready to make The Leap. All signs point to a monster 2010 for League, for a million different reasons.

I've already drawn attention to his curiously low FIP and superbly low xFIP (lower than Zack fucking Greinke!) and his impressive uptick in strikeouts and strikeout ratio.

Another thing that could work in League's favor? His complete inability to get a call. Jeremy Greenhouse did some awesome work yesterday on Baseball Analysts looking at who "controls the zone" and which players face a larger strike zone. Who was right there at the bottom, with a whopping 35 balls that "should've" been strikes called against him? Why our Brandon League of course! It's an extension of the fine work done by our very own Jon Hale suggesting control pitchers get better calls than power guys. What if League gets even half his missed pitches called strikes? Brandon League is blowing up!

On Wells

So AA chooses to believe his eyes over the various cloak & dagger defensive metrics when it comes to Vernon Wells's defense. I get it, they're flawed. Many of the flaws come out when the reps get high enough (as Bastian points out - he's averaged -11 UZR over the past three seasons) but that's fine, they aren't the be-all or the end-all. What does AA see, other than a massive inherited contract?

My eyes see a guy that doesn't take terrific routes, for whatever reason. I see a guy chasing the ball rather than running to the spot. I made a similar comment on a DJF post in July, using this video as an example. Wells makes the catch there, but the last second hard right turn is troubling.

Does Franklin Gutierrez use evasive maneuvers at the last second? An extreme example, but no. He runs to the spot, stands around, waits, chats to Ichiro about the latest in tentacle rape porn, then makes the play. Outfielders typically begin declining after they hit 30, so we can't expect Wells to improve. I think he would make a fine right fielder, mostly because I don't have any thing else left to believe.


  1. I can't remember where exactly on the interwebs it was (could very well have been GROF) earlier this year that League was the victim of strikes called balls. I wonder ... why League?

    On Vernon - good for AA for sticking by his starting CF because he's not going anywhere any time soon. J.P. might have called out VW publicly, but you can see the different approach that AA is taking. The funny thing is that you didn't even need to look at UZR to see that Wells played CF horribly this year.

  2. I'm glad AA is leaving Wells in centre. You're one of many Wells will prove wrong.

    And long live Brandon League.

  3. I've got no beef with Vernon, he's just not a good CF anymore.

    I think League gets hosed because his pitches move so much. He might also lose out because he misses the target but still finds the zone. Umps never give that call and League can be pretty wild.

  4. Tentacle rape comment is why you're consistently the best Jays' blog writer. On this Friday, I will raise a glass to you, good sir.

  5. So... Lind for center then? He can prance down balls like no other.

  6. Brian Tallet's MustacheDecember 5, 2009 at 12:33 AM

    Sal Fasano for CF!

  7. There's nothing worse (well there are tons of things worse, even within baseball but anyway...) than an outfielder who consistently takes bad routes to the ball.

    Its not that they get bad reads over and over and over, it's that they're lazy and are relying on making last minute adjustments. Which essentially turns tough catches into impossible ones (especially when someone like Wells has lost a step).

  8. I live for obligatory "Brandon League is dreamy" posts. I fear he's just too unquantifiable and unconventional (and let's face it, still too unpredictable) to be given the proper analysis outside a few people, dedicated bloggers included. Every League result is of the extreme, so unfortunately, I'm not sure how many can shake off those dramatic implosions despite his utter dominance in between. Honestly, do you see League as a closer, and probably more importantly, do you believe League will even benefit a team as a closer?

  9. The thing about Wells is, it's obvious that he shouldn't be in CF anymore but the Jays don't have anybody capable of taking his place. AA pretty much has no choice but to back his current guy, and as it stands I don't really have a problem with that because there's nobody else on the team who should be out there. If that situation changes and AA doesn't change his stance, that would be bullshit, but for now it's just the only real option.


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