Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Brennan Boesch All-Stars

With the All-Star game weeks away, I thought I would compile a list of deserving players who should make the All Star team but may or may not be All-Star worthy. Think of this list in terms of say Chris Coghlan robbing Andrew McCutchen in the Rookie of the Year last year. Sure Coghlan had a nice season and maybe deserved the award, but we knew that it was mildly flukey. Right?

Anyway, this isn't Rookie of the Year debate. I just wanted to post some numbers as of June 27, 2010 and then revisit this at the end of the season. For this post, I am focusing on hitters.

Brennan Boesch: .337/.389/.611 162 OPS+

Paul Konerko: .302/.396/.583 157 OPS+ At 34, he is having a career year, and the last two seasons indicated a downward trend.

Vernon Wells: .281/.336/.562 141 OPS+

Alex Rios: .311/.369//.541 139 OPS+

Corey Hart: .272/.339/.576 144 OPS+ and leads the national league with 18 home runs

Josh Willingham: .277/.408/.498 144 OPS+

Aubrey Huff:
.298/.389/.520 138 OPS+

Kelly Johnson: .264/.366/.494 121 OPS+

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Max Scherzer Shuts Down the D-Backs

Former Arizona Diamondback Max Scherzer threw a rare gem in a victory over his former team.

Scherzer pitched 7 strong innings striking out eight and only giving up two walks. The Detroit Tigers defeated the Diamondbacks 3-1 on Sunday. Diamondback starting pitcher Ian Kennedy, who like Scherzer, was featured in last off season's three team blockbuster trade, pitched a strong 6 2/3 innings issuing zero walks and striking out five batters. His downfall? He gave up two home runs to Carlos Guillen and Brennan Boesch.

Going into this game, it looks like Kennedy has had a better year than Scherzer--especially if you use ERA as the basis of your argument. Scherzer has a 6.14 ERA and Kennedy has a 3.57 ERA.

Looking at Scherzer's stats, through 66 innings, his bb/9 are consistent with his career averaged at 3.4/9 (not that great), but his hr/9 has sky rocketed to 1.6/9 and his k/9 have dipped slightly at 8.0/9. The dip in strike outs could be due to the fact that he is facing a designated hitter instead of a pitcher or pinch hitter.

Kennedy has been a nice surprise for the Diamondbacks. He was the most intriguing player in the trade because he had GREAT minor league numbers, but has been injured for much of the past two seasons. In 88.1 innings, he has 7.8 k/9, 3.2 bb/9 and 1.5 hr/9.

Both pitchers have very similar rate stats. If Scherzer can lower his home run rate to somewhere closer to his career of 1.1/9, his ERA will drop and if Kennedy can do the same, he will be able to sustain his ERA.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ken Griffey Junior's Retirement

Ken Griffey Junior's retirement is similar to Michael Jackson's death.

I heard about Griffey's retirement at work, likewise, I heard about Jackson's death at work. After hearing about Griffey's retirement and Jackson's death, I immediately thought about how great they once were and how irrelevant they became later on in life.

Think about this: Griffey owned baseball in the 90s while Jackson owned music in the 80s. Look at the following stats.

Ken Griffey Jr. OPS+ throughout the 90s:

1990 135
1991 155
1992 149
1993 171
1994 170
1995 122
1996 153
1997 165
1998 150
1999 139

Then not much.

Michael Jackson number one hits

1972 Ben
1979 Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough
1980 Rock With You
1983 Billie Jean
1983 Beat It
1987 I Just Can't Stop Loving You
1987 Bad
1988 The Way You Make Me Feel
1988 Man In The Mirror
1988 Dirty Diana
1991 Black Or White
1995 You Are Not Alone

Then not much.

Griffey's irrelevance came mostly from injuries and then ineffectiveness due to age. Jackson's irrelevance came mostly from accusations, bizarre behavior, plastic surgery and not putting out much music. Griffey had an effective, healthy and all-star worthy 2007 season. His slash stats that year were .277/.372/.496 (119 OPS+). Jackson had a nice hit with You Rock My World in 2001, which reached to number 10. For the last 10 seasons, Griffey wasn't in the baseball spotlight--save for a couple all-star appearance, worthy or not. The talk was Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson and other big names. Strange because Griffey was THE biggest name in the 90s. For the last 14 years, Jackson wasn't in the music spotlight--save for a few appearances at music shows and the 30th Anniversary Special. Usher, Eminem, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Beyonce and other musicians were featured at clubs. Jackson was THE biggest name in the 80s.

The talk about Griffey was the injuries. Was it shocking to see Griffey come up limping on the base paths or hurt himself while tracking down a fly ball? The talk about Jackson was the plastic surgery. Was it shocking to see Jackson with a new nose or facial bone structure for that matter?

Griffey also depicted cool. Who didn't want to wear the backwards hat after seeing him rock the style in batting practice? Jackson depicted cool. I know I wanted to wear the one glove while attempting to do the moon walk on the playground.

I thought about the two after Griffey announced his retirement, I thought about how he was my favorite player at one time and how I haven't thought about him much since his first season with the Cincinnati Reds in 2000. It's not that I stopped liking him, but he wasn't around for me to enjoy. I recalled how much I loved him after watching some YouTube clips and sifting through my baseball cards. After Jackson's death, I started listening to some of his songs again on YouTube. I always had Man in the Mirror on my iTunes, but I forgot how much I loved Black or White, Will You Be There and Beat It.

I also started thinking about the two when I read the comments section from the Rob Neyer article. Neyer had a rational perspective on Griffey's career, and it contained a lot of praise. However, fan boys didn't see his point and didn't recognize the praise and attacked based on some of the negative comments. If you scour message boards (yes, guilty pleasure), you will see people attack any negative, fair or not, comment about Jackson.

For Griffey, the fan boy response is something like, "He saved baseball in Seattle, and he played like a kid and was a great 5-tool player."

For Jackson, the fan boy response is something like, "He was a misunderstood beautiful man who cared about his fans and did a lot of charity work. He was a great musician and a poet."

It's amazing how a retirement and a death can make people recall all the good that someone did and forget the not-so-good. I will conclude with my thoughts on each subject.

Ken Griffey Jr. was one of my favorite baseball players growing up: the others being Frank Thomas, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Kevin Appier. He and Bonds were the two best players of the 90s and absolutely owned their skills. Griffey could hit, run and field. That being said, after a nice, what I thought to be, farewell season in 2009, he came back for one more year. I don't blame him for taking the money. I blame Jack Z for offering the contract. Regardless, he accepted the contract, and this season was disastrous. He took a nap, couldn't hit and was ultimately benched. None of this will affect my childhood memories of him, but as an adult, it is a part of his profile.

Michael Jackson was one of my favorite musicians growing up: the others being MC Hammer, The Cars, B52s and Tom Petty. He and Prince were the two singers who owned it in the 80s. Jackson could sing, dance and write. That being said, he was extremely weird. His skin tone, plastic surgery and hanging his youngest son from a hotel balcony made me wonder what's in his mind. Of course I have failed to mention the big elephant in the room: the sexual allegations with kids. We'll never know the truth, and I won't even pontificate my thoughts on the situation. None of this will affect my childhood memories of him, but as an adult, it is a part of his profile.

I think really, at this point, all I can do is enjoy their skills. And for that, I'm going to find my old Walk Man and put in my Will You Be There cassette and pop in my Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr. for the N64 and rock out. Don't worry, the N64 is already hooked up to my TV. Always.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ken Griffey Jr. Retires, Fan Boys Go Crazy Over Non Bias

Ken Griffey Jr. retires, Rob Neyer writes a balanced perspective fan boys display reading comprehension fail.

After Neyer discusses Griffey's bad performance this year and below average performance last year, he gives a nice ovation:

"He was a great player. No question about that. But for many years, he wasn't quite the player people thought he was, or was supposed to be. In retrospect, did Griffey really deserve his spot on the All-Century Team? Did he really deserve to win 10 Gold Glove Awards? Did he really save baseball in Seattle? Tomorrow, it will be said that Griffey was the best player of his era who didn't use steroids. Was he really, though?

Actually, he might have been. Only three of Griffey's contemporaries are credited with more Wins Above Replacement: Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Jeff Bagwell ... and Bagwell's just slightly ahead of Griffey, well within the margins of measurement error.

Griffey's reign as baseball's greatest player didn't last long, and he didn't hit 800 home runs. But he played in the same outfield with his father, he symbolized baseball in Seattle for a decade, and even while struggling with a long list of injuries during the second half of his career, he built a brilliant career that will land him in Cooperstown the moment he's eligible.

Maybe he wasn't as good as he could have been. But he was better than almost everyone else."

It's not a gushfest at all, but Neyer keeps things in perspective and ultimately concludes that he was better than almost everyone else. A couple things to keep in mind regarding Griffey. No way did he deserve to play this year. I don't blame him for taking the money, but for as much praise as I have given Jack Z, he really screwed up signing Griffey after last season.

Since signing with the Cincinnati Reds before the 2000 season, Griffey has put together two really good seasons, two above average seasons, four injury-filled seasons and one average seasons, one bad season and one horrible 33 game final hurrah.

In the 90s, he was great every year. He was a true all-around player and a lock to be in the MVP hunt. Overall, he is a sure hall of famer and one of the true greats. It's sad to see him go out like this, but for whatever reason, Jack Z thought it was best to bring him back. And now we're left with the awkward, can't say good bye now, mid season retirement. Instead of thinking about the surprising, yet merited, retirement today, I will find a VHS player and play some mid 90s all-star game that I have recorded on VHS tape.

Enough about my take on Griffey, let's check out the reader backlash in regards to Neyer's column. Keep in mind, Neyer said that Griffey didn't live up to his potential, but he was still better than almost everyone during his generation. Truth, right?

Well, comprehension fail here we go.

folsom band writes:

"In retrospect, did Griffey really deserve his spot on the All-Century Team?" Hell, yes. "Did he really deserve to win 10 Gold Glove Awards?" WTF? Yes. "Tomorrow, it will be said that Griffey was the best player of his era who didn't use steroids. Was he really, though?" Now, you've gone too far - of course, yeah."

If he would have read the next sentence, Neyer says that he might have been the best.

MittEaters writes:

"Neyer is a tool who has always hinted at an anti-Griffey bias. Junior probably blew right by the dork in the dressing room one time and he's always held a grudge."

I'm not sure how many locker rooms Neyer has been in, but where is the anti-Griffey bias?

reed_jones writes:

"Neyer you have lost a reader with this terrible piece. Take a look at the numbers but I guess for you ignorance is bliss."

Let's take a look at those numbers.

2009: .214/.324/.411 slash stats. He was not horrible, but he was not good enough to play every day. And since he turned 40 last year, his projected numbers would not improve.

He comes back and puts up this in 108 plate appearances in 2010: .184/.250/.204. Sure he could have improved on them, but he wasn't going to go on a hitting tear and be the all-star he once was in his prime. The numbers suggested retirement.