July 29, 2009

Why I'm a Cubs fan, reason #23705

I want this man to see the Cubs win a World Series before he dies

July 23, 2009

Cubs MVPP (Most Valuable Position Player) - believe it or not!

Cubs position player WAR through games of 7/23.


Believe it or not, Ryan Theriot has been the Cubs most valuable position player so far this season.

To get these numbers, I split the PAs based on the number of innings each player had played at each position. The defensive UZR values used to find the WAR are what they have accomplished SO FAR this season. I did not include baserunning or catcher defense. I guess Theriot lucks out for the lack of TOOTBLAN penalties (dying laughing)

Fuld scores highly because he hit very well and posted good UZR in the small sample size we've seen so far from him.

link to spreadsheet

July 21, 2009

I usually like Neyer, but...

Do Phillies Need Halladay (or Lee)?

Can the Phillies go to war with the Dodgers (etc.) with their top four starters, as they stand right now? We're talking about Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer, and Happ.

Is Rob kidding? The Phillies pitching has been terrible this year. Terrible. They're no longer last in the league in FIP, having been passed by the Indians, Orioles, and Brewers in the past few days, but a 4.71 FIP is pretty awful (4.88 starters, 4.42 relievers). The Phillies bullpen posted a 3,82 FIP last season, while their starters posted a slightly less terrible 4.53 FIP.

Fundamentally, the Phillies' top four starters right now are just as good as the Phillies' top four starters last year. And just in case anyone's forgotten, last year the Phillies won the World Series.

Neyer addresses this to some extent here, though he doesn't mention the bullpen stuff. Yes, the rotation isn't that fundamentally different. However, Moyer has been especially terrible this season, and Happ has outperformed his FIP by a run and a half. It's more likely that he's just an average pitcher (or worse - ZiPS still has him pegged as a 4.7 FIP pitcher).

Now though, Halladay. You don't think the Phillies would love to replace Moyer (5.58 ERA, 5.58 FIP, 4.79 ZiPS FIP) with Halladay (2.73 ERA, 2.75 FIP, 3.15 ZiPS FIP). Those Halladay numbers aren't league adjusted either. Look, I don't think they need him to win the division (see 2008 Rich Harden), though he is worth about 2 extra wins to the team by WAR. But you'd love to have that kind of pitching in your playoff rotation.

July 16, 2009

Book Review Clearinghouse: The Master and Margarita

I was very excited to read this book, due to references to it in Everyone Drunk But Me, not to mention that Keith Law put it as #1 in the Klaw 100. I came away disappointed though, finding the main characters unlikeable and the plot too scattershot to keep me very interested.

One of the main things that bothered me about the book is that you don't really meet the title characters until halfway through. The Master is a tortured writer, shattered by the fact that his bizarre (and interesting, from what we see of it) history of the death of Christ from Pontius Pilate's point of view has been rejected by publishers, and mopes around an insane asylum. Margarita, his lover, makes a deal with the Devil (who has shown up with a cast of amusing cohorts to make mock of Soviet society) to bring him back to her so they can live together. Shenanigans ensue and she gets some measure of revenge, and the quasi-religious stuff from the Master's book is folded into it as well. I didn't really get either of them I guess. - I thought the Master was a jerk and can't really understand why Margarita would be in love with him.

As for the other (human) characters, I found them pretty unlikeable/uninteresting as well. The first half of the book was pretty much the devil and co wreaking havoc on all the social climbers etc within the communist society. I guess this was supposed to be a scathing indicment of the communists, but it all seemed pretty tame to me. Maybe I would have liked it if I was reading this from the perspective of someone who thought atheism was inconceivable or that soviet society itself is amusing in and of itself. Social climbers tend to be idiots, no matter what form of government you're operating under.

What I did like about the book was the excerpts/history from the Master's book about Pilate. I'm really just a sucker for biblical history (true or not), so I thought all of that was pretty cool. You do end up feeling sorry for Pilate in this account, but he's a pretty pathetic guy. The Devil's retinue were fairly amusing, especially Behemoth, the flippant giant cat who had "an affection for chess and vodka".

Maybe I'm just a Philistine, I don't know. But this book was not very enjoyable.

July 14, 2009

Fun with reference sites, part 1

Over at ACB, we were talking about the awesomeness of Bob Gibson. As these things tend to go, I spent the next half hour or so poking around b-ref and fangraphs looking at the careers of other big name pitchers. I'm not going to make an attempt to rigorously rank any of them vor various reasons (valuing peak v longevity is hard). I just wanted point out their awesomeness.

Bob Gibson

Gibson was a fantastic pitcher, and famous for his intensity. His numbers suffer a bit though, as he pitched in one of the most pitcher-friendly eras in baseball history.