Pirates 2, Braves 1

Atlanta Braves vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – Box Score – October 1, 2012

Breaking news alert: we’re not gonna win the division. Fortunately, unlike last year, we’re still in the postseason, for at least one more rockin’ game. Kris Medlen’s gonna go for us, and life is good, man. Knowing that we’re in the playoffs sure makes tonight’s stinkbomb a lot easier to swallow.

First of all, you can’t blame Paul Maholm, who was really quite good. In seven innings he allowed just five hits and racked up eight strikeouts against three walks. He would have been scoreless if not for toolsy Pirates rookie Starling Marte. First, Marte hit a Baltimore chop over Chipper’s head; it would have been a cheap double if Reed Johnson hadn’t let it kick past him, allowing Marte to receive a “triple.” Then, in the fifth, Marte hit a leadoff homer. That was it for the Pittsburgh offense.

This was could be one of Maholm’s last starts in a Braves uniform, even if Fredi inexplicably decides to slot him before Minor in a potential playoff pitching rotation. Maholm has a $6.5 million option for next year, and the Braves should probably pick it up. I feel a lot better about him than I feel about Tommy Hanson or Jair Jurrjens, even if Randall Delgado or Julio Teheran will finally be ready to grab a rotation spot at some point next year.

That’s a question for another day, though. I feel about the Braves offense the way Mahatma Gandhi reputedly felt about Western civilization: “I think it would be a good idea.” Then again, according to Wikiquote, Gandhi may never have said this. That would be roughly appropriate for the analogy, because the existence of the Braves offense is also very much in doubt.

Of course, the Braves faced a lefty they’d never faced tonight, so naturally they allowed themselves to be two-hit, despite the fact that Jeff Locke came up in the Braves organization so you’d think they might have been able to scout him or at least figure out how to most effectively razz him from the bench.

Nope. Locke walked five Braves, even walking the bases loaded in the third inning after a Jason Heyward RBI single, but Freddie Freeman grounded out on the first pitch, thoroughly ending the threat — not just for that inning, but for the entire game. The Braves went hitless for the rest of the night.

It’s okay, really. The Braves are 7-3 in their last 10 games, 19-11 in their last 30 games, and are playoff-bound. We’re a good team that’s basically peaking at the right time. Unfortunately, while the pitching and defense is almost unfathomably good right now — the Braves haven’t allowed more than three runs since September 21 — the hitting is a lot iffier. We have the pitching to hang with anyone in October. Then again, we’ve seen that movie before.

177 thoughts on “Pirates 2, Braves 1”

  1. Great recap!

    Did you mean to say this might be Maholm’s last Braves start? I’ve assumed since we got him that the option was definitely going to be picked up.

  2. Great recaps, guys. I wish I could help, but to quote Daniel Craig, “a writer, I am not.”

    It was frustrating to know that Jeff Locke kept the Braves from winning the division. It’s just another way Nate McLouth is trying to screw us. Watch him hit a walk-off home run against us to win the World Series.

    But as Alex said, the reality is we’re going into the playoffs playing some of our best baseball. I rationalized last year’s collapse by accepting that we would have been 3 and done had we gotten into the playoffs. This year, I have a bit more confidence.

  3. It was a good try to win the division, but we gave up too many chances before tonight. It will be good to rest people in the last two games.

  4. Thinking about how good Mike Minor has been since the break I was surprised to see that he finished the regular season with slightly less WAR than last year. But overall he is still the 3rd most valuable pick from the entire first round of the 2009 draft, trailing only Strasburg and Trout. Trout, incredibly, has just managed to hit 10.0 WAR for the season, which is not only easily more than twice Minor’s career WAR but also well more than Strasburg’s career WAR.

  5. To be fair, Minor was supposed to move fast. It might be that 5 years from now, he’s still the third most valuable player from that class, but don’t be surprised if he moves down a couple lots either. And at the same time, the selection is certainly looking a lot better than the reviews it was getting on draft day. ^_^

  6. The braves should let JJ and Hanson walk and pick up Maholm’s option. I will take a rotation the 3 Ms and maybe Huddy and one of the young kids.

    Minor has really come on. I like him a lot. I think his 91-93mph fastball/change stuff will play EXTREMELY well in October.

    This offense scares me. We are sputtering and of course St. Louis is coming to town and we will more than likely see Wainright and Carpenter in that game.

  7. I think Maholm will be back. I think this is the winter that Delgatto or Tehran are moved.

  8. I think its a no brainer to pick up Maholm’s option. I’ll add the caveat that I don’t know the budget implications.

  9. @13 – I think we eliminated ourselves last year. Man, I sure wish someone would get hot with the bat soon.

  10. 12- If the most recent Braves TJ case, Medlen, is any indication, Beachy won’t be back until after the all-star break, and even then it will be rehab starts in the minors followed by perhaps a few major league starts or more likely pitching out of the bullpen in September. On the other hand, Hudson had TJ in August of 08 and managed to make it back in time to make a non-negligible number of starts in 09 (about a half dozen if I remember). I suspect they are more careful with a younger pitcher like Beachy than with Hudson.

    7- Minor was definitely more advanced, but if what we have seen since the start of July is the real Minor, his projected WAR is pretty impressive and it should hold off quite a few of those younger kids for a while. I actually missed Mike Leake who has a marginally higher career WAR but I don’t think many people still believe he’ll be more valuable than Minor over the long haul.

    For some reason I can’t find WAR stats by month, but guesstimating from his monthly metrics it looks to me like Minor must have had a negative WAR of close to 1.0 at the end of June (anyone have access to WAR splits?). So his current production projected over a full season makes him close to a 5 WAR pitcher. That’s hard to believe, but if it pans out we’ll be a tough team for the next few years.

  11. Well, I suppose we just delayed the inevitable. With Boom-Boom Tommy on the mound, we wouldn’t be winning the division tonight.

  12. Beachy might be back by the All Star break. If the Braves are considering moving Hanson, then they have to keep both Delgado and Teheran. Our pitching depth isnt as good as it was this time last year.

  13. I’d start Hudson tonight.

    1) I don’t want him against the Cardinals, as he matches up extremely poorly against that team. Medlen should definitely be the play-in guy.

    2) As our 1A starter, we want him in the first game of the next series.

    3) The choices are to pitch him tonight on short rest, game 1 on short rest, or have an extremely long break between starts. I’d play him tonight with a low pitch count so he can start game 1 on normal rest.

  14. Here are Minor’s monthly xFIP numbers (couldn’t find WAR splits either):

    3.58, 5.66, 5.39, 3.31, 4.70, 3.54

    Since the end of June, his overall xFIP is 3.91. This is quite a bit higher than his 2.21 ERA over the same period, reflecting really low BABIPs and really high strand rates in July and September in particular (.191 & .162 and 90.3% & 92.6%, respectively). It should be noted that this roughly corresponds with Simmons and Janish playing SS instead of Pastor and Wilson.

  15. It’s supposed to be Lohse on Friday unless the Cards have to play Thursday against LA. I fully expect us to lose based on history, but hope I’m wrong. If the Braves lose the Medlen start Friday, I assume it has no effect on his consecutive wins streak as the postseason doesn’t count towards streaks, right?

  16. I imagine that the plan is to have him go tomorrow with a low pitch count, then it won’t matter if he’s on short rest for Sunday. I would probably lean towards your plan, actually, but I doubt it makes that big of a difference. I do favor sending him out there for 50 pitches or so in one of the next two games.

  17. @21

    Technically no, but you would be on your own getting excited for the continuation of the streak next April.

  18. @21, you can define this streak however you want to define it. This isn’t an official thing. If you want to make it regular season only, more power to you. For me, the novelty of it would be lost if he loses in the postseason.

  19. It’s supposed to be Lohse on Friday unless the Cards have to play Thursday against LA. I fully expect us to lose based on history

    What history are we looking at? Braves have won 23 consecutive Medlen starts. Braves have also hit Lohse pretty good in the past. I fully expect a 1-0 or 2-1 game.

  20. I don’t see any reason to start Hudson on Wednesday, unless he says he wants to pitch a few innings.

    I also think our lineup should look like this for the next two days:

    Constanza- CF
    Johnson- RF
    EH- LF
    Overbay 1B
    Roadrunner 3B
    Pastor SS
    Baker 2B
    Boscan C

  21. @25

    I assume he’s mainly referring to the history of having never won an elimination game at Turner Field, but I agree that that doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on Friday, and that current trends over the last month hold more weight. So I would expect a well-pitched game where we get little offense and it goes down to the wire. If we’re tied or leading after seven, we’ll probably win. If we’re trailing after seven, we’ll probably lose.

  22. Thanks for the customarily great recap, Alex. Today’s lineup should be a doozy. Too bad we don’t have Gattis, Mejia and the rest of the AA-AAA gang to play the game. We may not do much today or Wednesday, but we’ll give ’em hell Friday.

  23. #26 – I wouldnt give everyone 3 days off right now. Id start the normal crew for 5 innings today and tomorrow. Then let them get a full day off on Thursday. That should be plenty of rest.

  24. Sorry, not trying to be a pessimist, just preparing myself for the worst and hoping for the best. And yes I’m referring to postseason history, where we haven’t even advanced a round in I don’t know how long. It’s been nothing but heartbreak for the last decade and seems a fitting narrative that our starter, with whom we haven’t lost a game since May of 2010, ends that streak in the most important game he’s ever pitched.

    All that being said, I have nothing but confidence in Medlen. I believe he’s the right man for the job and gives us the best chance to win, but I don’t trust the offense to not stink.

  25. I think most of the regulars will get rest today and start Wednesday, maybe getting taken out in the 5th or 6th. That’s what I would do.

  26. I’d probably plant Chipper, McCann, and Ross on the bench, except maybe to pinch hit (and then immediately pinch run for), and give all the other regulars one of the next two days off.

  27. Am I the only one here that doesnt think this 1 game play in should be considered post-season play? Until you are playing a best of 5 series with another team you arent in the post season.

  28. Typically, playoff games based on regular-season ties were considered regular season games. But, I suspect that MLB is counting the play-in game as a post-season game.

    BTW, I have a ticket to Game 3 and maybe Game 4 of the first round in Washington. Depending on who ends up with the best record,this could be against the Braves if, obviously, they beat the Cardinals. Should be interesting.

  29. #32: Totally agree. Time for the kids and subs to play. Give Chipper and McCann three days rest except for pinch hits. They sure could use it. It’s about the only advantage we can take out of losing the division race.

    #33: Good point. I think it probably ought to count as a playoff, even though my heart’s not fully in it. And aren’t there contract clauses for some players that specify bonuses for “leading the team to the playoffs”? So whether this does or doesn’t count as a “playoff game” would certainly matter in those cases.

  30. There’s no reason to stagger the off-days, because neither us nor the Pirates are playing for anything right now. So I’d give everybody off today (I like Smitty’s proposed lineup, I wasn’t sure it was possible to put together an all-bench lineup, but there you go) and then play mostly my regular lineup tomorrow unless somebody has to sit because of mild injury concerns (Chipper, McCann, Uggla, whoever). That way, rust shouldn’t really enter the equation. I just don’t really want anybody to have three days off in a row if we can help it.

    Note: If tonight gets rained out, like there was talk of last night, tonight is their day off and I play everybody tomorrow.

  31. Come to think of it, the best thing to do for Chipper would be to start him on Wednesday and then send Prado out to take his place in the field just before the start of an inning. That would be a dusty moment indeed.

  32. xFIP understates Minor’s awfulness in May and June, because he gave up a billion homers.

    Minor’s ERA (FIP) by month:

    April: 4.68 (3.29)
    May: 9.95 (8.23)
    June: 4.55 (5.78)
    July: 1.98 (3.54)
    August: 3.57 (3.73)
    September: 0.87 (2.68)

  33. Selected Current Braves Confidence Indices on a 100 scale. (CBCIs)

    Heyward 70
    Freeman 25 if he swings at first pitch 70 on others.
    Chipper 99 (Irrational Exuberance here)
    Uggla .217 (Batting Ave.)
    McCann Ask again later. (Magic 8 Ball scoring)
    Hudson 75
    Minor 75
    Med Dog 23 (in a row)
    Kimbrel Sideways 8

  34. Guys – I just realized something horrifying. While I’m happy to have Hudson available to start Game 1 of the NLDS, he was the starter in two of the most painful postseason losses in Braves history:

    2005 NLDS, Game 4: Braves blow a 5-0 lead vs. Astros, lose in the 18th inning when Joey Devine gives up a HR to Chris Burke. http://bravesjournal.us/?p=2050

    2010 NLDS, Game 3: The “Brooks Conrad” game, where Brooksie’s complete inability to field allowed the Giants to stage an improbable 9th inning comeback. http://bravesjournal.us/?p=6310

  35. Other confidence ratings:

    Bourn- All the confidence, namely 70
    Prado- 90
    Constanza- 60 when running, 40 when fielding, 20 when hitting
    Baker- 0
    Overbay- Less than 0
    Hinske- Less than less than 0
    O’Flaherty- 98
    Hanson- Only if he buys a ticket
    Venters- 70
    Gearrin- 80 against righties, 8 against lefties
    Fredi- 50. Maybe he’ll screw something up, and maybe he won’t
    Mac- 100. Just a shame you’re not online to see it.

  36. #46 & 47 – Hudson has been awful this year against Washington. Should we be hoping for a Cincy matchup?

  37. Freeman 25 if he swings at first pitch 70 on others.

    HA, Freemans numbers swinging at the first pitch .469/.471/.802

  38. I think MLB is screwing fans by not at least giving some indication on when these post season games may start. I know that there are tie braker issues, but still. I have tickets for Sunday, and it would help if I could at least have some idea of when the game will be.

  39. Same, I’d really like to get tickets to Friday’s game but if it’s something like a 4:05 start I can’t do it.

  40. @51 – just heard on 680 that
    Yanks are in WC, Yanks are in primetime – shocker
    Braves will be in primetime over O’s
    Braves will be in primetime, A’s afterwards

  41. Another scenario: If the A’s win the next 2 vs. Texas, Oakland wins the AL West.

    So, the Rangers could host the O’s in the WC game.

  42. #53 – They are saying fridays game is completely sold out, even the standing room only is unavailable. All parking lots are full. That should be an awesome atmosphere.

  43. @56

    That’s not entirely accurate, as there are still some seats available on Ticketmaster, but there aren’t many, and the standing room only are marked as “low availibility”, as well.

  44. Yeah, I figured that. You can probably always pay extra on the streets and pick up a few while walking in on friday also. Chippers ceremony game had 51,920 announced. It was the largest crowd Ive ever seen there.

  45. I hate the fact that my feeling about this season will be determined by one friggin’ game.

    Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does – at least for me. (And I’m hardly a “regular season means nothing” kind of guy.)

    But this team won 90+ games. It has earned, I believe, a playoff SERIES.

  46. I hate the fact that my feeling about this season will be determined by one friggin’ game.

    Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does – at least for me. (And I’m hardly a “regular season means nothing” kind of guy.)

    But this team won 90+ games. It has earned, I believe, a playoff SERIES.

  47. We gotta play one game–tough titty.

    No sense in bitching about it. Everyone knew the rules before the season. Win the division, or win this one game. That’s it.

  48. Maybe they could change the rules at the last minute like in “The Hunger Games.” I can just see it-Braves win the game and MLB announces that it has decided to make it a series.

  49. #61 – Yup. However, baseball botched this whole wild card thing. 1 game shouldnt decide anything. Have a wild card series. At least make someone win two out of three to play the division winners.

  50. But this team won 90+ games. It has earned, I believe, a playoff SERIES.

    Nationals: 96 wins
    Reds: 96 wins
    Giants: 93 wins
    Braves: 93 wins
    Cardinals: can’t win 90 games even if they win all of their remaining games

    Prior to these new rules, the playoffs would be perfect: four teams worthy of getting in, getting in. But Selig created this backdoor for .500-teams-in-mid-September to still be able to think of themselves as “contenders.” MLB is going the way of the NBA.

  51. I think it’s great. Are there 10 more famous games in MLB history than Red Sox/Yankees Game 163 in 1978? Now they’ve figured out a way to schedule two “Game 163″s every year. It’s exciting as hell, and I can’t wait.

  52. It’s all fun and games until a 100-win second place team is bounced from the playoffs by an 85-win team on a controversial balk call.

  53. Yeah, MLB is going to have egg on its face when a 102-win wild card team (such as the 2001 Oakland A’s) is beaten by some team with 85 wins, the latter of whom everyone knows shouldn’t even have been in it at all.

  54. Because they don’t know if the Yankees will be there. As always, televising baseball is all about the Yankersox.

  55. Right now, MLB knows only that Atlanta will host the NL play-in and that the Giants and Tigers will host the Saturday games. They can’t set the Saturday schedule because they’ll want to show the AL in prime time if the Yanks or Rangers are second seed, but if it’s O’s vs Tigers, they’ll probably want the NL game featured if it’s Gnats vs Giants.

  56. Not crazy about the “play in” game, but as I see it, it’s a reaction to wildcard teams getting hot and winning on the power of 3 pitchers over teams who have been better throught the course of the year – see last year’s Cardinals. This should make the Braves work a little harder and force them to rely on an extra starter. of course if the Cardinals win again, it will completely backfire.

  57. The worst case for MLB has to be the Dodgers’ mid-season moneygasm resulting in a World Series title. I know the Cardinals winning would highlight the unbalanced schedule’s effect on the Wild Card races, but competitive imbalance is a much harder problem to solve. Also, it takes some thought to realize that the Cardinals are only in the playoffs from playing oodles of games against 100 loss teams, but the spending spree was well-publicized.

  58. If it’s a “game 163”, wouldn’t the Braves still have a better record than the Cardinals even if the Cardinals win?

  59. The new system certainly makes the division races more important but I don’t think it really makes it that much harder for a wild card team to win. Even if you have to use your best pitcher for the play-in game, it’s not that much of a disadvantage, depending on how the schedule works out. It’s just one game. Let’s say the Braves win (which goes against my very being) and, assuming the next series starts Sunday, they have Hudson and Minor in the first two games, and Medlen available on regular rest for Game 3. You are going to have to win games with other pitchers anyway. It’s just not that much of a disadvantage and, in fact, could be an advantage because Game 3 is a critical game in a best-of-five. I think the surviving WC team would still be in good position if they are hot. All this does is make it more likely that a mediocre wildcard team can win the World Series as opposed to a better Wild Card team.

  60. I may be the only person who thinks this, but it seems to me there’s a significant silver lining to the play-in game. Yes, it’s do-or-die — but if you win it, don’t you get a serious rush? It’s like winning in Vegas: you beat the odds, your luck is strong, etc. To me the emotional lift would have to be non-negligible. Yeah, it’s high-risk, but it’s also high-reward (especially this year only, in which winning it gets you the first two DS games at home).

    And we have the current best available starting pitcher going for us. Call me crazy, but I like our chances to win it and keep going.

  61. I just found an official Chipper jersey at Goodwill for 15 bucks. Unworn, near as I can tell, and just my size. I’ll take this as an auspicious omen.

  62. Actually he is now.

    •#Braves will start Sheets instead of Hudson on Wed., as expected since game won’t matter now. Hudson Game 1 if get to div series 1 hour ago

  63. Starks latest column has predicting the year end awards.

    AL MVP – Trout
    AL ROY – Trout
    AL CY – Verlander
    AL Manager – Buck Sho.
    AL Comeback – Dunn
    AL LVP’s – Yunel and Frenchy
    AL CY Yuk – Romero
    AL Executive – Beane

    NL MVP – Posey
    NL ROY – Harper
    NL CY – Kimbrel
    NL Manager – Johnson
    NL Comeback – Posey
    NL LVP – Marlins and Hanley
    NL CY Yuk – Bell
    NL Executive – Rizzo

  64. @73

    Yes, but what made the ’78 game exciting wasn’t the fact that they were tied — it was the fact that it was win or go home for both teams.

  65. @85

    You could have stopped with the Triple Crown part, as far as I’m concerned. The fact that his team will make the playoffs and Trout’s will not makes it even clearer. I personally think the sabermetricians are barking up the wrong tree with this Triple Crown being irrelevant thing. If somebody hit .400, would that be irrelevant too? It is possible to follow sabermetrics and not crap all over the fact that somebody’s about to win the Triple Crown for the first time in almost 45 years.

  66. But it’s also possible to not follow sabermetrics and still realize that Trout’s defense puts him way over the top.

  67. 86- The Angels have a better record, with a tougher schedule, than the Tigers. So you’re crediting Cabrera for somehow seeing to it that the Midwest has a lot of bad AL teams in it. And it’s not “crapping all over” the Triple Crown to reach the conclusion that Trout’s baserunning, on-base ability, and defense make him a superior all-around player this year.

  68. Regulars starting for the Braves tonight: Simmons and Bourn. The rest of the lineup is Pastornicky (2b), Overbay, Francisco, Ross, Baker (rf) and Constanza (lf).

  69. @87, throw in the fact that he leads the AL in SB and really, I value the Triple Crown, and Cabrera as much as the next guy, but come on. He also leads in OPS+

  70. If whoever came up with the Triple Crown idea a century ago decided that runs were a part of it instead of RBIs (which, really, would more accurately reflect all-around excellence), I think we’d be having a different debate. I’d vote for Trout.

  71. @88

    It isn’t like the Tigers are in AAA. He may win the TRIPLE CROWN. That is something that no one has done in my life.

  72. The Triple Crown is awesome. It is way better than the cycle. But it’s also like the cycle. It’s an incredibly rare achievement that is not at all the best thing you can do on a baseball field.

    Mike Trout’s having a much better baseball year than Cabrera. He’s much much much better at fielding and baserunning and arguably just as good at hitting. (Again, Trout leads the league in OPS+.)

    If Miguel finishes with the Triple Crown, no one will be able to take that away from him. But that doesn’t mean he has had the best season in the American League.

  73. 86- Oh, one thing I forgot. The last man to hit .400… didn’t win the MVP award. Or should the man with the 56-game hitting streak have been denied? I understand your impatience with sabermetrical stats, but remember that the Triple Crown are stats too.

  74. Briann, Williams hit .406 FOR THE YEAR. DiMaggio didn’t hit that during his streak.

    Trout may be this year’s AL MVP, but Joltin’ Joe was not the best player in the AL in 1941, in my opinion.

  75. (Nitpick: DiMaggio hit 408/ 463/ 717 during The Streak.) My point was that hitting .400 was not irrelevant, just not enough to overcome an opponent that also had an incredible season. Similarly, Cabrera’s Triple Crown is a historical landmark, but he’s helped the Tigers less than Trout’s helped the Angels.

  76. Yeah, define a Triple Crown as 1. Sliders in the dirt struck out on, 2. Amount of pizza and beer purchased for fans in right field, and 3. Jerseys worn by female, teenage Atlanta suburbanites and even Frenchy could win a Triple Crown. It’s a completely arbitrary thing to define as important completely regardless of its components.

    Now if you weighted the components according to their relative worth, there were more than three of them some of which represented fielding and base running, adjusted them for park and league, and related the result to a league average, I would think that this new, modified Triple Crown could be an excellent basis upon which to choose an MVP.

  77. 107: Okay, I was just going by OPS. I still don’t quite know what OPS+ indicates. Adjusted for park effects, I expect?

  78. And also adjusted for the league offense level, allowing for comparison of OPS numbers across time as well as ballparks.

  79. Simpson, just now: “Would the Tigers be in the playoffs without Cabrera? Are the Angels in the playoffs with Trout?”

  80. Yes, I’m actually watching this game. And no, I don’t know what is wrong with me.

  81. Why use OPS or OPS+ when you can use wOBA instead?

    Oh, and Mike Trout is more valuable, better, and even cooler than Miguel Cabrera. Trout is having as good a year as anyone I can remember. He’s close to the perfect player, in fact.

    And who cares if you lead the league in RBI?

  82. 112- It’s Braves baseball! It’s not your fault that they’re playing mostly Quad-A scrubs tonight. Think of all the Cubs fans who’ve been watching that for years!

  83. Brian J, right you are; but in 1941, Ted Williams led the league in home runs (37), base on balls (147), runs (135), slugging average (.735), and on base percentage (.551).

    Not too shabby for a non-MVP.


  84. 147- And that’s my point. Cabrera and Trout are both great players. I’m glad they’re in the other league. ;)

    (And one more thing about the 1941 season- the AL leader in hits was Cecil Travis. Followed by Jeff Heath. Stats do have limits.)

  85. @102

    Trout helped the Angels do precisely nothing of note. By definition, Cabrera helped the Tigers more than Trout helped the Angels.

    And calling the Triple Crown arbitrary and comparing it to three things that have nothing to do with anything is absurd. By that measure, the components of WAR are just as arbitrary. The Triple Crown comprises the three stats that were seen as the most meaningful offensive stats in baseball for a long time, and though they’re not the be-all, end-all they once were, they still have a lot of meaning. Batting average and RBIs do not mean nothing. By any measure, anybody who wins the Triple Crown is having one of the best offensive seasons in baseball history. Now, if that doesn’t get Cabrera the MVP, fine…whatever. I would argue that the Triple Crown means more than the MVP, anyway.

  86. Trout helped the Angels do precisely nothing of note.

    Disagree. The goal in baseball is to win games.

    Before Mike Trout came up, the Angels were 6-14, a .300 winning percentage, in last place in the division. Since his callup on April 28, they’re 83-57, a .593 winning percentage.

    He took them out of the cellar and made them a playoff contender.

    Remember, the Angels have more wins than the Tigers.

  87. @120 – given that I can tell you the last triple crown winners from both leagues, and can’t recall MVPs nearly as well, I would agree that it is certainly a more memorable achievement.

  88. Trout helped the Angels do precisely nothing of note. By definition, Cabrera helped the Tigers more than Trout helped the Angels.

    To paraphrase you, Felix Hernandez helped the Mariners do precisely nothing of note. By definition, did he help the Mariners more or less than, say, Gregor Blanco helped the Giants, who have made the playoffs this season?

    Because you’re basically saying your contribution to the team can’t be worth recognizing if your team didn’t make the playoffs…

  89. @120 – RBI, HR, and average all correlate more or less with offensive skill, so it makes sense that players who do well in those things are having good seasons with the bat. We agree on that. The problem is that just deciding that anybody who leads the league in all of those things at once is the best player in that league – that’s completely arbitrary and honestly sort of bizarre. If someone came up with that idea today they’d be summarily ignored or possibly snarked at by DOB, since that’s AJC-comments-level logic, but since Grantland Rice or whoever came up with it in The Good Old Days, it’s somehow given weight.

  90. No, guys, Tommy Hanson is a guy who helps his team do precisely nothing. Of course, it’s not like we’ve provided him much help tonight.

  91. Tommy certainly isn’t changing many opinions on whether he should be on the postseason roster I’d think.

  92. Some team is going to want to take a chance on Tommy this offseason, but I just don’t think we’re going to get very much in return.

  93. @124

    Oh, and by the way, I could just as easily argue that automatically giving the MVP to the guy who has the most WAR every year is equally bizarre. First of all, which version?There is not even a normalized, agreed-upon way to calculate the stat, and the way the various services weigh the various components is certainly up for debate.

  94. Tommy Hanson is going to be exhibit A (with Jair Jurrjens exhibit B) as to why good young pitchers should think long and hard before signing with Scott Boras.

  95. @132, It’s not “equally” bizarre. When you say “equal,” you’re committing yourself to the argument that WAR is just as good an indicator of value as triple crown stats. No one’s going to be with you on that. At least not anyone whose company you’d want to keep.

    At the very least, the “which WAR” thing is a conversation that’s actually worth having. But we can’t even progress to that conversation on a bigger stage because, you know, wins and RBIs and stuff.

  96. But you gotta remember, JoeCraig, we’re talking about young stud pitchers who are presumably at the top of their game when Boras makes his argument. What’s the counterargument you’re going to make to them? “Hey, you may want to reconsider. Just look at what happened to Tommy Hanson. It could happen to you.” I don’t think that a 20-something dude who has excelled at every level is going to take too kindly to the idea that he could lose his mojo out of the blue.

  97. If Maholm is worth 5mil or however much his option is, Hanson is worth 3mil just to see if an offseason’s worth of rest and reassessment can turn him back into something good. Don Sutton’s been talking about how he needs a changeup, and I’m inclined to agree. Give him a few months and a few million and see if he can do something with it. He has the advantage of realizing how bad he’s been and how much something needs to change, and that’s a big first step.

  98. Selling awfully low on Hanson. I think I’d wait until at least the end of ST to do anything. Medlen/Minor/Hudson?/Maholm?/Pick ’em as your pitching rotation sure could use a couple of Plan B’s going into next year. A relatively cheap Hanson is as good a lottery ticket as you are going to get unless you are willing to give quite a bit.

  99. If we have to wait until people stop using counting stats before there’s a constitutional convention, if you will, on which WAR is the right one, we’re gonna be waiting quite a while. Nothing is stopping anybody from normalizing the stat, or at least having the conversation. I would argue that if a normalized form of WAR were to be presented, it would go a long way toward legitimizing the stat in a lot of people’s minds. Right now, I could put together my own formula for what I think is important in determining player value, call it nWAR, and it would theoretically be just as legitimate as the other versions.

  100. @132 – At least some attempt is made to properly weight the various components of WAR, whatever the flavor, to fine-tune its correlation with team wins. Triple Crowns Above Replacement has three things that it weights completely evenly. It wasn’t designed to reflect accurately on anything because it wasn’t designed at all. It’s just three things slapped together because some guy in the press box had a hunch that they were really important.

    @134 – Exactly.

  101. @144 – nWar could absolutely be just as legitimate if you rigorously tested it against actual results and it performed as well as the two current mainstream WARs do. Implying that you could just make something up that does as well as those is giving serious short shrift to the fruits of many hours of work by many very smart people.

  102. @144,I starter to type a longer reply, but you know what – value is subjective. How to value a player is in fact not settled science. But saying that means your critims are subject to conversality – why are your preferred component stats particularly good at measuring this any more than the ones you eschew?

  103. I’m pretty sure Hanson is gonna suck forever. All those predictions that his shoulder or arm would fall seem to be on to something. Plus his delivery is just plain ugly and makes me want to slap his mother.

  104. @139

    You could detect an argument in Sutton’s statement that the development plan for Hanson has not been ideal. Learning a new pitch seems like something a younger pitcher like Teheran should be doing.

  105. It’s a damn good thing this game doesn’t mean anything. That was an absolutely ridiculous call, compounded by kicking Freddie out of the game.

  106. Learning a changeup could help Hanson if he can control both that and his fastball. But to learn one he would likely have to spend at least a year getting shelled and who is going to pay for that? It’s a real dilemma for someone, just hopefully not the Braves.

  107. 155: “He may be one of those backup catchers who, as Mac used to say, is renowned for his defense primarily because he can’t hit.”

    See, that’s funny.

  108. JC is an organzational soldier who’s been promoted to some kind of unofficial mascot I guess.

  109. Boscan is the new Joe Ayrault. I’m old enough to remember when we used to have a third catcher who could do something useful… especially against our current opponent.

  110. @148

    They’re not. That’s the point.


    Now you’re putting words in my mouth. I didn’t give short shrift to anybody. I merely stated that not having a normalized version of the stat is a serious issue toward the credibility of the stat as a whole.

    I also think you misunderstand my opinion of sabermetrics as a whole. One can find value in both sabermetric and traditional stats. It doesn’t have to be an either/or thing. Putting value in sabermetric stats does not require that one lose all wonder at somebody winning the Triple Crown (which hasn’t happened in my lifetime BTW…plus 16 years). Even if you think Trout should win the MVP, sayiing the Triple Crown is meaningless is just silly.

  111. Raul Ibanez just tied the Yanks’ game, so now there’s a better chance that they’ll win, forcing MLB will to defecate or vacate the bathroom.

  112. This is totally irrational, but I believe that anyone who wins the Triple Crown should be MVP. I know a third of it is the RBI crown, which is mostly a team award, but it’s so rare and special that it has inherent value. It has enough value that the player who earns it is the most valuable player in his league.

  113. Well, I should point out that, having just looked it up, there is much more precedent for this sort of thing than I thought. Of the 10 Triple Crowns that have been won in leagues and years where an MVP was awarded, only six resulted in MVP awards. Ted Williams won the Triple Crown twice and didn’t get the MVP either time. Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees (you might have heard of them…and him) won a Triple Crown and didn’t win the MVP, either. The last three have resulted in MVPs, but that was preceded by a stretch where only one of five Triple Crown winners won the MVP.

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