Much has been said about the success of the Cardinals’ bullpen this postseason. It’s hard to imagine Saint Louis-ans  still enjoying baseball this late in October had the likes of Ryan Franklin, Miguel Batista, P.J. Walters, Brian Tallet, and Trevor Miller still been employed. But then again, the Cardinals never would have made the playoffs without drastic upgrades in the bullpen (Dotel and Rzepczynski), rotation (Edwin Jackson), and at shortstop (Rafael Furcal). Per Buster Olney on Twitter yesterday, TLR echoed these sentiments by conceding that the team would have struggled to stay above .500 without said reinforcements.

Let’s take a look at the impact of these guys down the stretch. For the pitchers, I’m choosing to use rWAR (baseball-reference) since it uses ERA instead of FIP. This is appropriate for evaluating the impact these players had in August and September. Fangraphs’ WAR (fWAR) would be better suited for evaluating future value since it uses FIP, a better predictor of ERA than ERA itself (unless you’re talking about larger sample sizes).

Edwin Jackson: Accumulated 0.8 WAR in 12 games started (78.0 IP). Despite boasting a lower ERA after switching to the National League, other statistics suggested he actually pitched worse. Jackson struck out fewer batters (5.9 K/9; 7.18 K/9 with Sox) and generated 7-8% fewer ground balls. He did maintain his improved control (2.65 BB/9).

Marc Rzepczynski: Accumulated 0.1 WAR in 28 appearances (22.2 IP). In contrast to Jackson, Scrabble’s (tired of carefully typing his real name) ERA inflated after joining the Cardinals. However, he struck out more batters (11.12 K/9; only 7.55 K/9 with Jays) and maintained an impressive ground ball rate (63.2%). He did struggle a little with his control, adding an extra BB/9 to his walk rate. Even though he suffered 5 meltdowns (4 shutdowns), he was clearly a better option than Miller or Tallett, both of whom were eventually released by the Jays.

Octavio Dotel: Accumulated 0.2 WAR in 29 appearances (24.2 IP). Dotel pitched out of his mind after arriving in St. Louis as his modest 3.28 ERA doesn’t even begin to tell the story. He’s always been able to miss bats (career 10.91 K/9), but he improved his strikeout rate on the Cardinals (11.68 K/9) while also drastically improving his control (only 1.82 BB/9 compared to career rate of 4.01 BB/9). All of that combined for a stellar 1.57/2.31 FIP/xFIP.

Arthur Rhodes: Accumulated 0.1 WAR in 19 appearances (8.2 IP). Rhodes signed on to fill the other obligatory left-handed specialist spot in the bullpen and pitched like you’d expect a 41-year-old to pitch in the big leagues (5.90/4.77 FIP/xFIP).

Rafael Furcal: Accumulated 0.9 WAR in 217 plate appearances. Furcal’s .323 wOBA didn’t exactly light the arch on fire, but it didn’t need to when he was replacing Ryan Theriot (.292 wOBA) at shortstop. And the offensive upgrade wasn’t as obvious as the defensive improvement. While FanGraphs’ UZR ranked them closer than expected with the glove, Total Zone graded Theriot to be worth 8 runs below average while Furcal was good for 2 runs above average in considerably fewer innings at the position. Furcal accumulated more WAR for the Cardinals despite having 250 fewer plate appearances than Theriot.

Total: All in all, 2.1 WAR is represented here. That sounds pretty modest, but when you consider the guys they were replacing (arguably below replacement level talent), the impact was likely more profound. Trever Miller and Brian Tallet combined for -0.5 WAR during their time in St. Louis. And it wasn’t just the Cardinals that gave up on them: Tallet threw all of 0.1 inning before being released by the Jays while Miller only logged 3.2 innings before his release. Miller caught on with the Red Sox but he only threw two more innings in Boston. Dotel replaced P.J. Walters who spent most of August and September with Toronto’s triple-A affiliate.

What about the position players?

Furcal’s predecessor at shortstop (Ryan Theriot) had a 0.5 WAR through July. While his offense never significantly improved, defensive metrics (UZR and Total Zone) graded him as above average at 2nd base. So Theriot was transformed from an everyday liability into a serviceable part-timer. FanGraphs’ UZR grades Furcal to be nearly as bad defensively as Theriot. Honestly, that seems way off. According to Baseball-Reference – which incorporates Total Zone Rating into its WAR system – Furcal had a much larger impact in his short time with the Cardinals (1.4 WAR).

In center field, the Cardinals replaced Rasmus – who played below replacement level for the remainder of 2011 (-0.5 WAR) – with Jon Jay, who racked up 0.8 WAR over the season’s final two months. That’s a pretty significant swing in terms of 2011 outcomes. Now, as Marc Normandin outlined yesterday at SB Nation, Rasmus does have a much higher ceiling than Jay, so he may still develop into the better player, but that didn’t happen this season. Time will have its say.

Earlier in the season, I had this to say following Rasmus’ departure:

Do the Cardinals have a better chance of winning the NL Central in 2011? Probably. Have they sacrificed their ability to do so in 2012 and beyond? Perhaps considerably.

Given Colby Rasmus’s ceiling, I’m not ready to abandon that statement, but it is hard to imagine things falling into place any nicer for John Mozeliak. Having considered all of the above factors, I think it’s reasonable – if not conservative – to suggest that the above moves added 3 or 4 wins to the Cardinals’ 2011 record. At the same time, I’m not sure that Mo’s activity at the trade deadline should serve as a blueprint for other GMs around the league.

Jayson Stark had an article at ESPN earlier today that contained the following quotes from Mozeliak:

“So we just had so many questions about what 2012 would look like,” Mozeliak said, “we felt like now was the time to go for it.”

and

“I felt like it was aggressive, to try to do it. I know it wasn’t the most popular move. And I’m sure, if we don’t qualify for the postseason or we’re not playing here in mid-October, then yeah, you’re open to criticism. But I also know, if we don’t take risks, we’re probably not here, anyway.”

Mozeliak’s concern about the future should have provided all the more initiative to keep Colby Rasmus. He is under control for three more seasons and has the potential to develop into an impact player. In general, it’s not prudent to ransom the future by selling off one of your only cost-controlled position players when you’re worrying about where all of your other chips may fall.  It’s easy to wonder if Mo’s hand was forced by TLR who openly criticized Rasmus one day before the trade. My guess is that TLR is likely to return in 2012 since he has the chance to rank 2nd in all-time managerial wins. Did Mo really want to manage this volatile relationship for another year? And Rasmus didn’t exactly help his cause when he requested a trade in 2010 anyways.

If you can’t tell, I still have mixed feelings about this whole thing. I worry about TLR’s ever growing influence in the front office and his ability to strong arm players out of the organization. There’s still the sense that something isn’t right between the player development system and big league personnel. And I’m still not confident in Mo’s overall decision making process or negotiating abilities. For every solid trade/signing (Holliday), there’s been some real head scratchers (Pedro Feliz) thrown in there.

I don’t know. All of these anxieties seemed much more valid before the Cardinals were about to play the Texas Rangers in the World Series. Now it just makes me seem like a killjoy. Mozeliak’s moves allowed the team to make a run this year. And even the most ardent critic of TLR has to pause for a moment and wonder how they got here, right? The man – and this team – deserves some serious credit. You’re familiar with all of the hurdles they encountered along the way. Wainwright’s injury. Franklin’s implosion. TLR’s shingles. Holliday’s injuries. Pujols’s wrist. Craig’s knee. Duncan’s extended absence to comfort his wife who had a brain tumor removed. And yet here they are. It’s time to put the nay-saying aside. And enjoy the ride. I know I am.

Tony La Russa

Image via Wikipedia

After viewing Tony LaRussa’s interview with Frank Cusumano yesterday, I tweeted, “TLR’s a control freak, Colby’s slightly hard-headed, and T-Raz is always sayin’ sh*t. This isn’t going to stop, is it?” Much to my dismay, it ended quicker than anticipated in a deal that seems unnecessarily expansive.

I worked today, so it’s hard to know which reporter was first to break the news, but Joe Strauss had the details at STL-Today:

The Cardinals have traded center fielder Colby Rasmus and relievers P.J. Walters, Brian Tallet and Trever Miller to the Toronto Blue Jays in a multi-player package including starting pitcher Edwin Jackson, relievers Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski and outfielder Corey Patterson.

There you have it. Fear realized. Your favorite team just traded a promising 24-year-old outfielder who was under team control through 2014 in a deal centered around Edwin Jackson, a talented pitcher who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

As I wrote Saturday, it’s not that I opposed trading Colby Rasmus. It’s just that I hoped Mozeliak would resist organizational pressure to pull the trigger on a deal unless he secured cost-controlled talent in return. It’s fair to wonder if whatever leverage Mo had in negotiations involving Rasmus was negated by LaRussa’s criticism of Colby last night. On the other hand, it’s likely that the parameters of the trade were already in place, and TLR’s knowledge of the impending trade influenced his decision to publicly air frustrations about Colby.

Either way, LaRussa’s organizational influence has become increasingly apparent in recent years. And we’re left with another transaction fueled by player personality and intangibles rather than raw talent. That’s how we ended up with Ryan Theriot booting balls all over the infield. Meanwhile, Brendan Ryan has outperformed Theriot offensively and defensively, and this decision has cost the Cardinals more than 2 WAR to date.

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Colby Rasmus

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

On a Cardinals team struggling to find traction in a mediocre division, Colby Rasmus has become the vogue mid-summer discussion topic (again) as the July 31st trade deadline looms. In case you hadn’t yet reached your fill of P-D articles, sports talk radio shows, and blog posts on the subject, I thought I’d throw my two cents in the bucket as well.

In 2010, Colby was the most valuable offensive center fielder (.366 wOBA) in the league not named Carlos Gonzalez or Josh Hamilton. In 2011, he’s ranked the fourteenth most valuable offensive center fielder (.324 wOBA) in the league between the likes of Michael Brantley and Peter Bourjos. Forget the league. Rasmus is only the fourth most valuable offensive center fielder in the division behind McCutchen, Bourn, and Stubbs.

A player’s trending walk and strikeout rates can indicate whether or not someone is taking steps forward in their career. Not only has Colby maintained his walk rate (11.5%), but he’s also cut down on strikeouts by seven percent (20.3%). Surprisingly, this hasn’t coincided with improvement for Colby. Instead, his production has declined precipitously in the past two months to the extent that he’s yielded playing time to Jon Jay. So what happened? First, let’s take a look at Colby’s plate approach.

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The other day I was perusing through the stat lines of the triple-A players in Memphis and noticed that quite a few of them were getting on base frequently via the walk.

One thing that has helped the Cardinals charge their way to a league best wOBA (.344) is their propensity for drawing walks and limiting strikeouts. Check out how they are fairing in these two categories:

The Cardinals rank second in the league in walks (tied with the Pirates at 9.6%) and fourth in limiting strikeouts (tied with Athletics at 17.9%). In comparison, their 2010 rankings were eleventh in BB% (tied with the Dodgers, Brewers, and Tigers at 8.7%) and fifth in K% (18.5%).

Their increased ability to coax walks can partly be explained by the acquisition of Lance Berkman (17.4%) and the career best rates of Matt Holliday (12.2%) and Colby Rasmus (13.9%).

Now check out Memphis:

The Memphis Redbirds’ BB% (11.1) is good for third in the Pacific Coast League, though they strike out a decent amount (only five teams had a worse K rate than 18.3%). Recently promoted Matt Carpenter lead the team with a 17.6 BB%, but others displayed impressive walk rates as well: Andrew Brown (15.5%), Adron Chambers (13.3%), James Rapoport (13.2%), and Mark Hamilton (19.6%).

I don’t have much else to add, but I do hope the trend continues throughout the season… and maybe even beyond.

 

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PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 12:  Lance Berkman #12 of ...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

The Cardinals now rank second in the league in team wOBA (.356). This is not a joke. Since I wrote that piece about their slow start offensively merely one week ago, they started scoring runs at a torrid pace. Their BABIP has jumped 61-pts (.324)! They have hit fewer ground balls (48.8%), more line drives (20.2%); their fly ball rate hasn’t changed much (31.0%), but they’ve cleared the fence at a more realistic rate (12.9%). While they’ve started walking a little less (7.9 BB%), they have the third lowest strikeout rate in the league (16.7 K%). Altogether, the Cardinals have transformed from an unlucky team to a surprisingly fortunate one in the span of seven days. Fans, let’s keep our cool. Much like we shouldn’t have panicked when the offense was seemingly MIA after one week, we shouldn’t be quick to anoint them league leaders either. Perspective, friends; you can either have it now or the long season will eventually force it upon you.

With that said, it has been a lot of fun watching Lance Berkman hit 6 home runs in the span of 5 games.

Let’s take a look at the past few games…

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I already kicked this dead horse once, but I finally got around to downloading the latest CAIRO projections, which come complete with platoon splits. I wish I would’ve known about that before I dinked around for a half hour or so getting splits for my lineup post. Anyway, the prognosis is rather negative for Cardinal hitters against southpaws.

Behold the ugly.

Player Vs L
Albert Pujols 0.453
Matt Holliday 0.396
Lance Berkman 0.348
Yadier Molina 0.332
David Freese 0.331
Allen Craig 0.325
Ryan Theriot 0.313
Colby Rasmus 0.307
Nick Punto 0.289
Gerald Laird 0.289
Daniel Descalso 0.287
Skip Schumaker 0.283
Bryan Anderson 0.277

Eno Sarris at Fangraphs already hit on how horrible the bottom of the Cardinals lineup is, but it just get so much worse against left-handed pitchers. For I’m afraid that after Albert and Holliday, things begin to unravel in a hurry. Berkman who is no guarantee to hit southpaws if the current trends continue, but I guess that more prone to believe this projection than just make a judgment based on last year’s splits. Molina and Freese are the only two players left that project to be league average.

Finally I will say that I’ll definitely take the over on Colby Rasmus here, but the larger point remains that after the Big 2, the Cardinals lineup against lefties ranges from league average to … well… poopy.

When I started writing this post, the season hadn’t quite ended so it might seem a little out of place but I had already set the foundation so here’s a belated entry in which I lament the Rockies inability to reach the post-season despite an incredible performance by their SS. After that, we’ll turn our attention towards 2011 and John Mozeliak’s ambitious checklist.

2010 Ends Fittingly
When it became clear that the Cardinals truly had went “poopy in their pants,” as Jack Clark so eloquently put it, I started rooting for the patented late-season Rockies surge. Troy Tulowitzki appeared to be on a mission in September when he accumulated 40 RBIs and 15 HRs. Don’t like counting stats? Me neither. That’s good for a ridiculous .492 wOBA (twenty-six points better than the second place guy who also happens to play for the Rockies; Carlos Gonzalez). Tulo hit 14 HRs between 9/3 and 9/18; according to Hit Tracker, all but two of them would have left a majority of MLB parks and none were considered lucky. He also plays a premiere defensive position well (6.1 UZR/150 on season) and features a mullet that he’s promised to keep growing as long as fans continue donating money to charity. Other than my soul, what wouldn’t I be willing to trade for Troy Tulowitzki?

The Phillies were the only NL team that had a better cumulative wOBA for September as a whole but the Rockies offense faded in the second half of the month with a .306 wOBA in the past fourteen days. Don’t blame Troy; he stayed strong with a .396 wOBA. The Rockies pitching simply couldn’t match the crazy awesome Giants staff that posted a 2.75 Team FIP and 4.03 K/BB. The Rockies ended the season having lost thirteen of their last fourteen games. It was kind of fitting then, that the Cardinals and Rockies were left to face off in the season’s final week to see who ended 2010 with the dirtier trousers. Unfortunately for the Rockies, they had an above .500 record which meant that the Cardinals would inevitably win the series.
Mozeliak’s 2011 Checklist
Looking toward 2011, John Mozeliak provided a check list of sorts in Bernie’s not-so-recent column:

  1. “…a couple of guys who can hit 15 to 20 homers.”
  2. A number two catcher who can provide more offense.
  3. Cleaning up middle-infield defense.
  4. Improving overall poor base running.

Let’s break down each bulleted point and compare the Cardinals’ top offensive performers against all postseason teams (Phillies, Giants, Reds, and Braves) within the parameters established by Mozeliak (at least 15 HRs).

2010 Postseason Teams Vs. Cardinals
Player HR wOBA
Giants
Huff 26 .388
Uribe 24 .322
Posey 18 .368
Burrell 18 .371
Torres 16 .363
Reds
Votto 37 .439
Rolen 20 .367
Bruce 25 .363
Stubbs 22 .345
Phillips 18 .332
Gomes 18 .330
Phillies
Howard 31 .367
Werth 27 .397
Victorino 18 .339
Utley 16 .373
Ibanez 16 .341
Braves
McCann 21 .361
Heyward 18 .376
Glaus 16 .331
Prado 15 .352
Cardinals
Pujols 42 .420
Holliday 28 .396
Rasmus 23 .366

Yes, I’m aware how ugly that table looks compared to the width of the page. Turns out all of the division winners had at least five such players (Reds have six) while the Cardinals only had three (Pujols, Holliday, and Rasmus). Although that sounds like a significant difference, when you consider numbers that encapsulate a more complete offensive picture, only the Giants(!) had more players with at least .360 wOBAs. Maybe the Cardinals don’t have as large of an offensive chasm to fill after all. With that said, there are already Rasmus trade rumors swirling and we haven’t even made it out of October yet. Yikes. Let’s hope that the Cardinals resist the urge to placate a manager only willing to go year-to-year and look beyond HR totals when signing/acquiring new players this hot stove season. Beware of guys like Uribe who, despite hitting at least 15 HRs since 2004 (exception of 2008), has only managed to post above average wOBAs twice.

Next on the list is a back-up catcher who can provide more offense. Of course, this is not the type of player that will make or break a team’s competitiveness but it would be nice to have someone capable of posting an OPS+ of at least 75. That’s something the Cardinals haven’t had since, well, Yadier Molina in 2004. Speaking of Yadi, Brian McCann is the only NL catcher that has logged more innings behind the plate in the past three years. At just 28-years-old, we’re starting to see the physical repercussions of such a demanding work load. Maybe the Cardinals are recognizing this as well and they’d like to give him more rest in future seasons. Despite this indication, I remain skeptical that they follow through with pursuit of an offensive minded back-up catcher. Exhibit A: In Molina’s absence, Matt Pagnozzi (.586 OPS in minor league career) has been given regular playing time over Bryan Anderson (.782 OPS in minor league career). That Anderson can’t accumulate AB’s in meaningless September games despite offering this exact skill for the major league minimum price is perplexing; would it be that surprising to see him packaged in a trade this off season?

Mozeliak’s vow to shore up the middle-infield defense seems to be an indictment on Skip Schumaker. See this video for proof. Brendan Ryan doesn’t really care which defensive metric by which you judge him: 11.6 UZR/150, 15 total zone total fielding runs above average, and 27 BIS defensive runs saved above average. Boog’s glove appears to have bought him at least one more season to put things together offensively. The effort and professionalism with which Skip tried to convert to 2B from the OF was much undoubtedly won him points in the clubhouse and made him a fan favorite but the Cardinals appear ready to abandon the experiment. And that seems like the right move. According to UZR, Skip’s defense was actually worse in 2010 (-17.7 UZR/150 in 2010; -8.5 UZR/150 in 2009). Combine that with an unfortunate offensive season (.299 wOBA) and he’s essentially become a replacement level player (-0.2 WAR).

Last on Mo’s agenda is to improve the team’s value on the base paths. According to Baseball Prospectus, however, the Cardinals were in the top third of the league, ranking 9th in equivalent base running runs (EqBRR). Of the top eight teams, only three made the playoffs. In fact, the league overall seems to be pretty bad at adding runs via base running. Only the top ten teams had positive EqBRR and the Cardinals were one of them. Fungoes has more on this topic here. Not that they couldn’t improve in this area, but base running doesn’t appear to be one of the team’s greatest needs.

The positive? John Mozeliak appears to know his team well. I wouldn’t argue with his assessment of team needs. If the Cardinals were able to improve in these four areas, we’d likely have a better team to root for in 2011.

The negative? I’m not convinced that he understands how to make these improvements. In Derrick Goold’s “Thrills and Spills” article, Mozeliak is quoted as desiring, “a more experienced presence,” on next year’s bench and roster. In 2010, the Cardinals added experience to the roster in the form of Aaron Miles, Randy Winn, Jeff Suppan, and Pedro Feliz. These players “helped” the club in the form of the following WARs: 0.0, -0.2, 0.1, and -0.5 (respectively). Maybe triple-A guys like Tyler Greene and Allen Craig wouldn’t have helped much more offensively, but they certainly had the upside that warranted giving them an extended chance. And now the Cardinals will go into 2011 with these guys still needing to wet their feet in the big leagues. 2010 was a wasted opportunity to learn more about guys that the Cardinals need to contribute in the future. The Cardinals don’t need experienced, seasoned, or veteran players. They just need more talent… and their failure to utilize that talent in 2010 even when freely available was (and is) disconcerting.

In terms of the future of the franchise, Rasmus>La Russa. The impact of a manager hasn’t been something I’ve seen nerds really be able to penetrate; it’s something that is made murky by secondary factors and the human element.  If you follow me on Twitter, you probably have come to conclusion that  I would like to roll La Russa up in a carpet and throw him off of a bridge.

I honestly don’t believe he’s a bad manager, as he didn’t get his reputation as a Hall of Fame manager for no good reason at all. But I do tend to think that his overall value to the team is greatly inflated in the minds of pundits and fans (thanks, Buzz!). What irks me is all silly personality clashes with players, the need to use his favorite pets, and his odd machinations and weird lineup cards.

The rub is that as La Russa goes, so might Pujols go. The Mang must be appeased because we need the Mang to stay in St. Louis. The Mang likes Tony. The Mang doesn’t like anyone who doesn’t like Tony. Therefore Rasmus must go.

It’s completely stupid, but you get the feeling that despite the public hugging-it-out we’ve read about between Colby and La Russa in the press the past few days, we’re going to read about Colby being jettisoned away some cold January morning if La Russa comes back for another season. And that thought is very depressing.

So to brace myself for the pain of witnessing my all-time favorite Faberge egg being moved, I am going to play this scenario out and then go back to soothing myself with false comforts that all is going to be well between the Raz and the Genius.

Using Sky Kalkman’s Trade Value Calculator, here’s what I conservatively (?) estimated Rasmus’ surplus value as. The Raz has averaged 3.5 WAR per 625 plate appearances. (Hint: Give him 600+ PA’s per season, then everyone is happy.)

What kind of a player could Rasmus fetch? The club isn’t in the place to trade him for a player making more than Rasmus, so we’re talking about trading prospects. Prospect surplus value has been studied by Victor Wang, and then smoothed out by this quick study based on some discussions with Matt Swartz. Click the link, eyeball the tables.

In a straight value for value trade, Rasmus could bring the Cardinals anything outside of a top ten hitting prospect.  The problem is, as Jayson Stark has pointed out, is that if a team perceives the Cardinals have to move Rasmus, they’ll only be willing to pay 60 cents on the dollar. That might get the Cardinals one really good pitching prospect. That may mean a Shelby Miller-type if the Cardinals were willing to wait, but given the Cardinals’ needs, someone closer to the majors and more polished makes a lot more sense. I’m not going to speculate about who that might be, but here is BA’s mid-season Top 50 for your perusal. I’m sure a lot has changed since it was published, but it gives you some ideas.

Moving Rasmus also leaves a big, gaping hole in the OF. No more fire burning in the outfield. :_(

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to find a happy place.

Takeaways: Personality clashes are dumb. Rasmus is good. The team could get a good player for Rasmus, but probably not a player as good as Rasmus. Also, personality clashes are dumb.

I’ve seen a few things around twitter the last couple days that I found warranted a little discussion.  Most of these topics revolve around the idea of clutch hitting or hitting with RISP (I’ll use the two interchangeably although there are slight differences).  The general line of conversation goes something along the lines of:

Old school guy:  Holliday (or Rasmus) is a horrible clutch hitter. Look at his numbers with RISP (insert one year sample here)

Saberist nerd:  Shut up old man.  Clutch is a myth, it doesn’t exist.  Holliday has a 0.385 wOBA and Rasmus’ is 0.360 they’re the 2nd and 3rd best hitters on the team

Old school guy:  Having a good wOBA (whatever that is) doesn’t matter if they aren’t helping to produce runs

I have a couple of comments on this general line of discussion.  First when the saberist speaks of clutch not existing he does not mean that clutch performance doesn’t exist.  Clearly Holliday has been sub-par with RISP this year.  It happened and is factual (luck factors in here, but you get my drift).  The saberist is talking about clutch skill when he says clutch is a myth.  By skill I’m referring to something that is repeatable and predictable.  The statistical evidence points to this skill being either non-existent or too small to measure (read too small to care about).  The basic experiment in The Book concluded that the player’s generic wOBA (i.e. generic hitting skill) is more predictive of future RISP performance than a player’s past RISP performance is of future RISP performance, so basically good hitters project to hit well in the clutch and bad hitters project to hit poorly.  Holliday and Rasmus both qualify as good hitters, and are therefore pretty likely to be good in the clutch going forward.

In the last post I looked at Colby’s propensity to pull outside pitches and what effect it may have.  Another common criticism/complaint about his approach is the high number of strikeouts.  Clearly in a vacuum striking out less would be a good thing; however there is likely to be a trade-off with power.  In an effort to frame the argument I wanted to look at the relationship between striking out more/less and adding/subtracting power.   To that end I took 3 yrs of matched pairs (2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010) and ran a regression on the delta in strikeout percentage and the delta in ISO.  The results were that the two were very weakly (adjusted r squared of ~0.01) positively correlated (coefficient of 2.2 that was significant to a p of 0.01).  That basically means that in general adding 1% to a players strikeout rate added 2 pts of ISO.  Clearly this wasn’t a deep mathematical study, but I found the results to be fairly intuitive and somewhat interesting.  Colby himself has followed the general trend too as his strikeout rate went up by ~10% and his ISO went up ~70 pts.

Now is power everything?  Of course not.  However, I just wanted to point out that there are likely trade-offs to be made if you want him to cut down on his strikeouts.

© 2011 Gas House Graphs Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha