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Wake Up Baseball Fans – WAR is Fake and Meaningless 2

Posted on July 28, 2018 by Dean Hybl
Mike Trout is a great player, but sabermetrics thinks he is one of the greatest of all-time.

Mike Trout is a great player, but sabermetrics thinks he is one of the greatest of all-time.

As a baseball fan who has been paying attention to baseball stats since the early 1970s when my primary motivation to learn to read was so I could read the statistics on the back of baseball cards, I have reached my limit with those baseball “stat geeks” who have taken the game I love and turned it into a mathematical equation that seems more designed to show how smart they are rather than really identifying who the best baseball players are.

I started reaching my limit over the last several years when the sabermetrics craze has minimized some baseball greats while pushing others to a higher level, regardless of what their real statistics say.

The greatest example of this is Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout. If you judge baseball based simply on sabermetrics, you will likely try to argue that he is the greatest baseball player since Babe Ruth, heck, maybe even better.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Mike Trout is a great player, but I am not yet ready to consider him in the same conversation as some of the all-time greats.

Earlier this year, there was an article claiming that Trout was on his way to having the greatest single season in baseball since Ruth. That sounds amazing, but at the time he was hitting .below .300 and was not ranked among the league leaders in home runs or runs batted in.

What the sabermetrics folks have done is change the definition of what is considered important in judging the success and greatness of a baseball player.

For generations, batting average, home runs, extra base hits and runs batted in were the primary stats used to judge greatness. Heck, those were most of the stats listed on baseball cards when I was growing up. Secondary to those would be things like runs scored, on base percentage and slugging percentage.

Beginning in the mid-1980s with the publication of Bill James Baseball Abstract and continuing at a greater pace as fantasy baseball (originally known as rotisserie baseball) started building in popularity, there has been a growing desire among some baseball fans to look at the value of players in different ways.

Bill James originally devised the idea of “win shares” and that concept has been taken to a greater extent through sabermetrics with what is now considered by some baseball fans as “THE” measurement statistic of a player’s value known as WAR (Wins Above Replacement).

While I am not going to pretend to know enough about WAR to explain how it is computed, it is very clear that at some level WAR is designed to reward players who do more than just get base hits, drive in runs and hit home runs. Players who score well in WAR tend to get on base a lot, score runs and are quality defensive players.

In 2012 there was quite an uproar when the old school baseball definition of greatness clashed head-on with the new school definition of value for the American League Most Valuable Player Award.

At first glance, the 2012 AL MVP voting should have been a “no brainer”. Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera had an amazing season in becoming the first American Leaguer since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win the triple crown (lead the league in home runs, batting average and RBIs). Read the rest of this entry →

Costly Baseball Thumb Injuries, Then And Now 0

Posted on November 22, 2017 by Joe Fleming
The Los Angeles Angels could not overcome the thumb injury suffered by star Mike Trout during the 2017 season.

The Los Angeles Angels could not overcome the thumb injury suffered by star Mike Trout during the 2017 season.

Considering that the wounds are relatively minor, a blistered or sprained thumb has caused considerable consternation in baseball over the years. In the 2017 season, a sprained thumb might have cost two teams each a playoff berth, and of course, there’s also that famous thumb injury in 1986 which arguably extended the Curse of the Bambino another twenty years.

Medically, a sprained thumb affects the tissue in either the interphalangeal joint (thumb knuckle) or metacarpophalangeal joint (thumb base). In addition to physical activity, arthritis often causes either a hyperextension (when the thumb moves backward) or hyperflexion (repetitive motion). A few simple exercises, and perhaps a thumb brace and a little ice, usually cure the problem. But alas, these measures were insufficient to change the course of history for these three teams:

2017 Los Angeles Angels

The World Series Champion Houston Astros eventually ran away with the American League West title in 2017, but in May, preseason favorite Los Angeles appeared to be in the driver’s seat. Then, in a May 28 loss that brought the team’s record under .500 for one of the first times that season, MVP candidate Mike Trout sprained his thumb. Read the rest of this entry →

2015 Major League Baseball Preview: Most Overrated and Underrated Players in the Game 0

Posted on April 03, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Despite being one of the best offensive and defensive players in the game over the last six years, Adam Jones gets little respect from baseball "experts".

Despite being one of the best offensive and defensive players in the game over the last six years, Adam Jones gets little respect from baseball “experts”.

As we prepare for the start of the 2015 Major League Baseball season, the key to success for most teams will be whether their premium players can live up to their high profile and then who will emerge as breakout players in 2015.

ESPN recently ranked their top 100 players across Major league Baseball and as always, there are some definite head-scratchers amongst their picks. They seem to have certain players that they regularly move to the top of their list while others who have registered similar statistics and are just as crucial to their teams are for some reason downgraded.

Below is a look at five players that I believe are rated too high and five others who should be ranked higher.

Most Overrated:
Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels – ESPN Rating: Number 1
Now don’t get me wrong, Mike Trout is a great player, but it makes absolutely no sense that he is ranked as the number one player in baseball by ESPN and Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles (more on him later) doesn’t crack the top 25. If Trout were truly the best player in baseball, then he would be among the best in the league when his team needed him the most. Yet, in 2014, Trout batted right at the Mendoza line (.200) with runners in scoring position and two outs. He did not have a home run and drove home 15 runs. Conversely, Jones, who is also a much better defensive player, hit .319 with 2 home runs and 22 RBI in the same situation. Others in the top 25, including Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Cabrera and Josh Donaldson were also significantly better than Trout in those tough situations.

Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox – ESPN Rating: 7
Good left-handed pitchers are certainly valuable, but Chris Sale made 26 starts in 2014 and hasn’t started more than 30 games in any of his three seasons as a starter for the White Sox. He certainly deserves to be in the top 25, but is he really more important to his team than Jose Abreu (ranked 12th overall), who played in 145 games last season and hit .317 with 36 home runs and 107 RBIs? Illustrating my total disdain for how these ranking are compiled, Sale was ranked 18th a year ago after going 11-14 during the 2013 season.

Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona Diamondbacks – ESPN Rating: 9
Okay, I really need someone to explain to me how someone like Paul Goldschmidt could go from hitting 36 home runs with 125 RBI in 2013 to 19 home runs and 69 RBI in 2014 and actually improve on the ESPN top 50 list from 16th to 9th. I know he was injured and played in only 109 games, but others on the list actually improved their numbers in 2014 without moving up significantly in the ratings. I also don’t understand why Goldschmidt is held in such high regard when he struck out 110 times in 109 games last season and in his career has struck out 438 times in 462 career games.

Carlos Gomez – Milwaukee Brewers – ESPN Rating: 27
There is no question that Gomez is a good player, but is he really better than fellow centerfielder Adam Jones (ranked 40th)? Both players are 29 years old and excellent defensive centerfielders, but offensively there is little comparison. In 2013 and 2014 Gomez had the two best seasons of his career with nearly identical numbers of .284 batting average, 23 HR in 2014 and 24 in 2013 and 73 RBI each seasons. He also struck out 146 times in 2014 and 141 in 2013. For his career, his batting average is .260 and he has an OBP of .314, Slugging Percentage of .420 and .734 OPS. Jones has hit 25 or more home runs in a season four times, including 33 in 2013 and 29 in 2014. He also has driven in at least 82 runs four times, including 108 in 2013 and 96 in 2014. In addition, Jones has hit .280 or better in each of the last five seasons and .270 or better for seven straight years and has a career batting average of .280, OBP of .320, .461 slugging percentage and .781 OPS. How ESPN can say Gomez is significantly better makes absolutely no sense. Read the rest of this entry →

Miguel Cabrera Posts A Season For The Ages, But Is It MVP Worthy? 2

Posted on October 04, 2012 by Dean Hybl

Miguel Cabrera is the first player in 45 years to win baseball’s Triple Crown.

With his impressive late season surge, Miguel Cabrera has become the first major league player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win the Triple Crown as the league leader in home runs, batting average and RBI. However, it is also likely that Cabrera will join another former Red Sox star on an even more amazing list.

All-time great Ted Williams won the Triple Crown twice, but interestingly, he finished second in the AL MVP Award voting in both of those seasons. In 1942, Williams finished 21 votes behind Joe Gordon of the New York Yankees. In 1947 the Splendid Splinter lost the MVP to Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio by a single vote.

Others who won the Triple Crown without being named MVP of their league include Lou Gehrig in 1934 and Chuck Klein in 1933.

Despite his amazing statistical year and hot final month that helped push the Detroit Tigers into the playoffs, many expect Cabrera to finish second in the MVP voting to Los Angeles Angels rookie outfielder Mike Trout.

In both of the seasons when Williams finished second, his team did not make the playoffs. The 1942 Red Sox finished second, nine games behind Gordon and the Yankees. In 1947, the Red Sox placed third in the American League, 14 games behind DiMaggio and the Yankees.

Though the 2012 Tigers actually finished with two fewer wins than Trout and the Angels, because of the current division format, Cabrera will be advancing into the playoffs while Trout starts his offseason.

Given the amazing statistics of Cabrera, .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI, you would think there would be little discussion about the MVP Award. Especially when compared to the numbers of Trout in those same categories (.326 average, 30 home runs and 83 RBI). However, because Trout served as a leadoff hitter, he out-performed Cabrera in several non-power categories that helped illustrate the rookies all-around value including runs scored (129 to 109), on base percentage (.399 to .393) and stolen bases (49 to 4). Read the rest of this entry →

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      Billy Kilmer

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