Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Fruit Hangs Low

Two days off during the All Star break? How must one fill time and column space? Why listicles, of course! The National Post's Jeremy Sandler clearly took the task of generating letter grades and mid-season awards as you or would take to washing the dishes or raking the yard.

Mid-season awards are a decent way to spark a tiny bit of debate, mostly around the criteria used for said selections. Jeremy Sandler nips this in bud by seemingly eschewing criteria all together. Allow Sandler to explain why he feels Ubaldo Jimenez deserves the NL Cy Young while Roy Halladay deserves nothing because Chase Utley broke his thumb.
All the sabermetricians who argue wins don't matter take note: a league-average 10 wins in place of Jimenez's 15 would drop Colorado from breathing down San Diego's neck in the NL West to a .500 team in fourth place...Innings leader Roy Halladay (10-7, 2.19 ERA) is the NL pitcher owed an apology by his offence. He has two complete game losses and a nine-inning shutout for which he got a no decision.
Hardly a sabermetrician, I still must argue that wins do matter as they're the thing we use in the standings to tell which team is better than the other teams. Team. It's a team stat and this is an individual award. Halladay is quite rightly owed an apology by the Phils worsening offence, yet Yoo-Baldo gets all the credit for his Rockies picking him up? I dunno. Besides, this is Josh Johnson's award to lose and no amount of HR/FB suppression will let Ubaldo take it away.

The Jays grades are tough to figure. John Buck gets an A+ thanks to his 14 home runs and 43 RBI, "on pace for personal highs." Adam Lind gets a F for his 12 home runs and 40 RBI, because those are sad numbers for a talented hitter. The lesson here: everyone wins with lowered expectations.

One would think Vernon Wells lackluster fielding over the last few years would bring the expectations to the basement, and one would be right. Sandler insists Wells's defense is in decline but the numbers suggest otherwise.

UZR finds Wells still below average but not to the degree of the last two years while Dewan's plus/minus has Vernon 5 runs to the happy side. Considering the depths of his hamstring and shoulder woes, this is at least decent news.

All in all, the only thing more forced and pointless than mid-season report cards and hypothetical halfway awards are blog hit pieces fisking those articles. The circle of life!

Thanks to Seasonal Chef for the obvious image


  1. I also found this bit odd, regarding John Buck:

    On pace for career highs across the board, though personal ERA of 4.83 detracts from total rating.

    So if his personal ERA was lower, what grade would he have gotten... A++?

    (Actually, I think John Buck's letter grade may have been accidentally deleted; every other player has his own personal letter grade directly above his name, while there is nothing there for John Buck. I assumed that meant that he also got an A+ like Bautista, but other consecutive players receiving the same grade still have their own grade listed above their name -- i.e. McCoy, McDonald, and Overbay).

  2. The problem with wins is that it's not a metric that should be used to judge a pitchers performance as an individual. I agree with what you said, Drew, it is a team sport, and--of course--wins is the only metric that matters when it comes to the standings: wins is a metric of the combined efforts of the pitcher AND the defence AND the offense.

    Would you use wins as a way to gauge who is better between Halladay and Jimenez? No, you shouldn't because you'd really be asking who's the better pitcher and who has the better team behind him and who has had a little more luck on his side (offense clicking when pitcher is pitching in the game).

    In the fantasy leagues in which I am commissioner, I use Quality Starts instead of wins. I find it to be a much better gauge at pitchers' individual performances. If you really want to take away the team aspect from pitching metrics, FIP and xFIP do a better job too.

    Just my two cents...


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