AARP 6, Milennials 1

The Association of Ancient Regurgitant Phillies has come to Atlanta to confront the very young Braves. Going to extra innings in such event should benefit the younger crowd, but it didn’t.

Julio Teheran was great. 6 K’s, No BB’s, 8 IP. Ryan Howard hit one solo shot. He is wretched against lefthanders and barely playable against righthanders, but Howard still seems to kill the Braves. And thus it stayed for a long time. This was not a hibernation game. A great pitcher in Cole Hamels was on his game. And, he tends to be a little better against the Braves.

Justin Upton and Andrellton Simmons got the one run to tie in the 9th. Many opportunities to break through, but it went to 13 tied 1 to 1. Bullpen was great, until Hale came in in the 13th. He gave up 5, but only 2 were “earned.”

Seemed kind of like Saturday’s game, didn’t it?

I am closer to “Phillie age” than “Braves age” and these extra innings sessions are killing me.

53 thoughts on “AARP 6, Milennials 1”

  1. Rumor mill has it that the Cubs are looking for 2 top prospects and 2 mid-tier prospects. We don’t even have 2 top-prospects to give them. How ’bout 4 Minor League players, a few washed up major leaguers and their high salaries? hehe

    To put it bluntly, the Braves won’t be trading for Samardzja. One idea that could be worth exploring, should the Braves trade BOTH Floyd and Harang would be to talk with the Cubs about a bad contract swap for Edwin Jackson. The Cubs are really struggling offensively and could use some juice in that category over the course of the next few years. What would it take to get them to do a BJ for Edwin Jackson swap?

  2. JC’d
    A hitting coach’s job is to set a philosophy for the team on hitting. I agree, the Braves have a lot of aggressive hitters. However, it seems like we become even more aggressive with runners on base.

    At this point I think it is absolutely fair to question if our hitting philosophy is the problem, or are these guys just too stupid to get it.

    I don’t think these guys are adjusting well. Their pitch recognition is poor. I think a lot of this has to do with coaching or at least scouting.

    I think Jason Heyward is a great example of this. He has had a hole in his swing forever. He consistently hits the ball on the ground to second base. He takes forever to adjust. When he does, he goes on tears. It just takes about a month. This guys is too talented to be like that.

    If it is really the hitters going up there constantly swinging at bad pitches and they are being told to have a different philosophy, then it is a coach/management issue for not getting them to buy in.

    Don Baylor was the last great hitting coach the Braves had.

  3. @JonHeymanCBS: i like war but find it hard to believe yasiel puig and jason heyward have played equally well this year. both have 2.9 war

    As for the Cubs….After the Soriano years, I don’t think they’ll want to revisit it with BJ. Interesting though.

  4. @5,

    Would you really rather have Heyward at this point than Puig (personalities aside)? That’s putting an awful lot of weight on defense for a corner outfielder.

  5. So both players are 2.9 Wins Above Replacement? I understand that the sum of oWAR and dWAR is not WAR. But does WAR place equal value on defense and offense? Regardless of position? As Marc notes that is putting a lot of value on corner outfield defense.

    I’ll take the slugger in RF every day.

    Puig – .325/.417/.550/.967 OPS+ 170 oWAR 3.1 dWAR -.5 WAR 2.9
    Heyward – .250/.332/.379/.711 OPS+ 97 oWAR .6 dWAR 2 WAR 2.9

    BTW League average RF offense – .266/.336/.424/.760

    edit: statistics from BRef

  6. If the intent of WAR is to quantify the effect a player has on his team’s ability to win games then I think that the statistic loses a lot of merit. Big Caveat – I fully understand that I may not understand what WAR is meant to quantify.

  7. @7, lots of people have made the point that WAR overvalues corner defense. I’d divide the defensive component in half (or maybe even reduce it more). Heyward is a below-average offensive player this year at his position. That should dominate his overvall value because he simply gets way more chances to hit than to field. It’s common sense, but common sense isn’t really part of the WAR equation.

  8. Alex,

    I’ll still take Puig. I would bet if you exchanged players this year, the Braves record would be better than it is and the Dodgers would be worse.

  9. @9

    That’s what I do. It’s still probably wrong, but at least it passes the eye test.

    That said, in the Sunday game alone Heyward made a plus catch, a plus-plus catch (both against Trout), and a properly executed throw that resulted in a rundown. I have no trouble saying he’s a significantly positive contributor even at his current offensive numbers.

  10. I would take Puig over Heyward. I would probably put him in left until he became more disciplined. Puig just has so much upside.

  11. @12, yeah I’d say Heyward has been a positive player for us. But I can’t say he’s been better than Puig. 250 points of OPS is just way too much to ignore.

  12. @12 Heyward was spectacular against the Angels. However, he needs to be more consistent on offense. At this point I’d take league average offense. I have given up on him being that special offensive player.

    @10 – Yeah, I get it. Pitching and Defense win games. But as Marc, alludes to @11, how much better is our record with .967 OPS from right field?

    Broken record alert: If Heyward and Johnson can up their offensive games we can carry BJ and Andrelton. BJ apparently has lost interest in hitting and seems to want to concentrate on the aesthetics of the swing and miss. And Andrelton still wants to hit his way off the island. I’m not sure either has the capacity to improve much this season.

  13. I’m not saying Heyward is terrible or not worth having on the team. He is a plus player. But he’s not a dominant player, which is what the Braves need. His defense is certainly valuable but some of that’s because the Braves have so much trouble scoring and have to rely on their defense-in part because Heyward’s offense is so mediocre. Heyward would be fine as is if (1) more wasn’t expected of him; and (2) the Braves could compensate offensively in other areas. As it is, I see him as a disappointment although I know others do not.

  14. Heyward is still so young. He’s not a disappointment yet. The bar has been set so very high though. Some expected Hank Aaron. I expected Dave Justice. He’s not even close to Dave Justice yet.

  15. Yes, he is only 24 and he has time to turn it around but the long stretches of mediocrity on offense are tough to take when so much of the team’s success depends on his performance. Its looking more and more like 2010 and 2012 were outlier years. Color me disappointed. I was hoping for great and all he is turning out to be is contributor.

  16. @17 – Heyward is in fact currently giving above league average offense and spectacular defense. WAR properly weights defensive contribution. Yes, Heyward has gotten more opportunities for great plays in RF than should typically be expected, but those opportunities really did occur and he really did make the plays. Those are real runs or fractions of real runs saved every time, and they are exactly equivalent to producing the same amount of runs on offense.

    WAR isn’t a projection, so you’d expect him to get a more normal amount of defensive opportunities in the future and his WAR rate to decrease (assuming stagnant offense, which if we’re projecting you wouldn’t assume since every projection system shows him improving on offense), but he’s banked what he’s gotten so far and deserves full credit for it.

  17. I can’t wait until Edward gets here. Sheesh. People overvalue consistency and, I suspect, criticize WAR without fully understanding its components.

    It so happens that Jason Heyward has accrued 19 fWAR, the same total as David Justice amassed in his first five full seasons. Except Heyward hasn’t completed his fifth.

    If we’re talking about current problems with the team, Heyward is so far from the discussion, relative to other players, it’s not even funny.

    CJ is worse than BJ. He needs to be platooned.

  18. @21 not sure which metric you are using but Heyward isn’t hitting this:
    .266/.336/.424/.760 = league average for RF which you expect be higher than league average for everyone.

  19. He’s giving above replacement level offense, but not above league average offense.

  20. I think the original point was whether Puig was more valuable this year than Heyward and I continue to think that he is.

  21. It’s hard to argue relative value of players if you don’t agree on the metrics. I violently disagree with the weightings for WAR’s defensive component. Thus I fall back to the offensive measures which are less subjective and have a higher sample size.

    For RF’s just compare the bats. That’ll get you at least 75% of the way there. Baserunning and defense can fill in the other 25%.

  22. Adam R at 22,

    Through his first 5 partial seasons (1500 PA??), meaning BEFORE last year, Chris Johnson had a significant reverse platoon split. Like 820 ops against righthanders and 700 ops against lefthanders. 2013 was the FIRST season he had EVER been better against lefties than righties. IN FACT, the “career year” of CJ was almost entirely the result of maintaining former levels against righthanders and picking up 150 ops points against lefthanders.

    And “reverse platoon splits” can be real for righthanders. They usually aren’t for lefthanders.

    Walker had worked VERY hard with CJ during preseason 2013 because they were looking at the platoon and had to get him to hit lefties.

    So, I remain hopeful that when we get to the wire, CJ’s offense will be down from last year, but still more than serviceable.

  23. People overvalue consistency and, I suspect, criticize WAR without fully understanding its components.

    If it’s all right with you that we continue expounding while we wait for Edward, I think it’s a perfectly legitimate exercise to contrast two players and try to suss out their relative value. The point is not to throw out WAR (or trash Heyward), but to try and understand the limitations of the tool.

    Pete is right that WAR is not a predictive measure, and it’s not the fault of the metric itself that it is often taken as such (we hear “he is a six win player” far more often than “he had a six win season”, I think). But the offensive component says more about the innate value of a player, while the defensive component is more situation-dependent, due to the differing variability of opportunity from one season to the next. Think about it — a full time starting position player sees maybe 2000-2500 pitches per season. Those pitches are going to be pretty much the same next year as this year — not exactly, but probably very close. The year-to-year variability in offensive value will be supplied mostly by the player.

    There’s bound to be a much larger variation in the number and type of defensive opportunities, though, especially at a position where the opportunities are relatively few and relatively important. Dan Uggla can’t turn a single into a triple, but Jason Heyward can turn a triple into an out. But he has no control over how often he’ll get to do so. For corner outfielders especially, the year-to-year variability in defensive value will be supplied largely situationally. Pete’s defense of defensive WAR is essentially the same as a pro-RBI argument. Good as far as it goes, but the limitations are pretty clear if you look closely enough.

  24. #25 is exactly right. This discussion is much more about WAR than it is about Heyward.
    I understand WAR and, most days, I really like it. But it’s continued overvaluation of Heyward’s defense through the early part of this season has opened my eyes to its weaknesses like nothing else since I’ve started paying attention to sabermatrics.

  25. @29, yes the defensive counting stats being opportunity driven (just like RBIs) are one issue, but the other bigger issue for, and one that you probably can’t quantify, is that there’s a really good chance that Puig would also make some of the same “plus” plays as Heyward has this year if given the exact same set of chances. The guy is big and fast and has a huge arm. There’s no way he’s a negative out there in RF.

  26. David Justice had nothing but 800/900/1000 OPS seasons for pretty much his entire career. Heyward isn’t in that conversation just yet.

  27. Heyward is a very good player in many ways but, at this juncture in his career, not a great hitter, at least not in the category of a Chipper Jones. (And, yes, I know that’s an unfair comparison.) And, given the Braves’ offensive deficiencies at other positions, they need him-or someone-to be a great hitter.

    It’s certainly true, given the makeup of the team, that the Braves would be worse off if Heyward wasn’t such a good rightfielder. But, at this point, I would sacrifice some defense for more offense at any position other than shortstop. Miguel Cabrera, even when he was playing a lousy third base, was able to compensate for a lot of other problems. The Cardinals went to the World Series last year and were a pretty bad defensive team as I understand. Despite what people say (and I used to be one), it’s not clear that pitching and defense wins championships, at least not in the almost total absence of offense.

  28. @30 – When I’ve been critical of Jason Heyward folks have bombarded me with posts pointing out his shiny WAR inflated by his spectacular defense. I’m just saying that offense is > than corner outfield play when it comes to winning ball games.

    @31 – And yet Puig has a negative dWAR.

  29. Grady Sizemore DFA by the BoSox today… LF CF w/a decent platoon split. Been bad lately, but I’d take him over Success to spell Bupton.

  30. i can’t see how anyone who has seen both of them play would choose Heyward over Puig.

  31. I see the discussion of Heyward and Johnson are high on priority today. As far as Johnson goes, I think he is providing exactly what the Braves though he would in the long run. If you look at his career numbers, he has never walked much and has always struckout. I knew last year was a fluke because who can really carry a BABIP of .394 every year except for an elite offensive player which Johnson is not.

    Heyward is a product of the where he bats in the order. He is one of the few Braves’ players that knows you have to change your approach depending on where you hit in the order. I know many do not put much stock in batting order changing a players overall stats, but in Heyward’s case, it appears to have some clout. If you take a look at his splits throughout his career, he simply hits better out of the top of the order. His power number go up, batting average, and his walk to K ratio being better. He would be a much more productive 6-hole hitter for us if you look at his career from that spot. Plus, this allows us to see if La Stella can handle leadoff.

  32. 32-David Justice played in a different offensive era, so it’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison though Justice’s OPS+ averaged around 126 for the first 5 years and Heyward has averaged 113. Also keep in mind that Heyward started his career 4 years younger than Justice did and he undoubtedly provides immense defensive and baserunning value over Justice.

  33. Heyward has been pretty good the last few weeks. He is not the issue.

    Greg Walker is the issue.

  34. On another note, after the heavy usage and ineffectiveness of Hale lately, why wouldn’t you also send him down and bring up a fresh arm?

  35. @40

    I agree with you for the usage reason and a feeling that we are about to have a rotation change. Our one value that we have some room to work with is our starting pitching when it comes to trades. I do believe one or two of our starters from this season will be finding another home before the trade deadline for a sound bullpen addition. We can send him down to get ready just as we have done with Alex Wood. or we send him down so that he still looks good as trade bait before anymore of these late inning games kills his overall value in a trade package.

  36. I wonder if the crappiness of the bench is related to Liberty’s cheapness. When the Yankees were dominating in the 90s, their lineup was good, but hardly overwhelming. But they always spent a lot of money on the bench; they had guys like Strawberry, Fielder at one point. When the Braves won the WS, they had Mike Deverereux. These guys weren’t playing regularly but they were a lot better coming off the bench than what the Braves typically have. It seems to me that Liberty’s unstated (or maybe stated) premise with Wren is, ok, we will pay some big money for regulars but you are going to have to make do with the dregs for the bench. Schaefer is attractive because he’s cheap.

  37. @43

    I agree. Schaefer is attractive because he is cheap, fast, and can play any of the outfield spots without a drop in defensive play if not an actual boost. I wish he hit better, but he is still a keeper at his price. Doumit’s only value is that he is a switch hitter. Other than that, he is a subpar substitute because he cannot play any position well. Only other real value is he allows us the luxury of using Gattis as a pinch hitter on days Laird catches. I still think we could upgrade from him considering he has voiced his opinion on not wanting to catch anymore. Pena can play all infield positions and switch hit. He just doesn’t do the switch hitting very well. Laird is a player who always seems to do something good by either calling a good game or getting a key hit, so I won’t knock on him. Uggla basically turns our 25-man roster into a 24-man roster. There is no viable reason to keep him around. Yes, we would owe him 11 million to release him, but at the moment he isn’t even providing league minimum production. We could at least allow someone from triple AAA a chance. I mean we are already paying the 40-man roster people league minimum. We have a couple down there that could be role players.

    In the end, we need at least two changes on the bench. I say Doumit and Uggla are the easy choices to upgrade.

  38. @23 – League average for the league (101 wRC+) not for RF, no. But WAR penalizes the crap out of right fielders exactly because they’re expected to have a higher mean offensive level. The penalty is baked in, as is the bonus for being compared to the generally worse defenders in RF.

    Also, his OBP is higher than the RF average which, it is well established, is severely underweighted in OPS. OBP is more valuable than SLG.

  39. @31 – Not true. You don’t accrue negative defensive value by just not getting opportunities to make spectacular plays. You get it by not making plays that average players make.

  40. @46, but surely a lot of the difference in dWAR has to come from the fact that Heyward has had like 50 more chances than Puig. It’s very much a counting stat in the end.

  41. @31 again, for exact comparison, DRS has Heyward making 90/98 plays in-zone (91.8%). He also has a phenomenal 61 plays made out of zone. Compare that to Puig who is 72/81 (88.9%) and 35 out of zone plays. So it’s more opportunities for Heyward, yes, but he makes plays at a higher rate as well.

  42. The comparisons of Heyward and Puig are really not fair to either player. Anybody can see from watching them that they are two completely different talents and mentalities. Puig thinks he is primetime thus on puts forth full effort when it is him in the spotlight. He puts all his effort in offense and has so many mental lapses on defense that it is hard to watch. Also, there is a reason Heyward’s OOZ plays is so much higher that Puig’s is. It is because Heyward puts full effort out in the field where Puig only puts effort into how far he can throw the ball on defense. So, Heyward wins defensively between these two everytime no matter how man chances they get because defense takes effort thus shown in Heyward’s 61 OOZ plays.

    Offensively, Puig wins hands down because his natural talent is better than Heyward’s here. There is nothing we can do about that although I do believe Heyward will develop to become even better.

    On a more personal note, I cannot stand Puig. I have tried to like the guy, but he is the worse kind of team player. His teammates and him have had issues on multiple occasions about how he carries himself and plays the game. We have never had that issue with Heyward.

  43. Likability isn’t really part of the WAR discussion. I’m just saying I’d rather have Puig because offense should be weighted more than defense when talking about LF and RF. You get more chances in the average game to do something good on offense than you do on defense when you are playing corner OF.

    Puig’s lesser total of OOZ defensive plays is more a function of the Dodgers having a dominating strikeout-heavy pitching staff and the Braves having an entire staff of fly-ball pitchers. Why penalize a player for stuff outside of his direct control?

  44. @50

    I agree that Likability doesn’t count which is why I said “on a personal note”.

    I will give you that the percentages for the Dodger’s does say they have a higher percentage of GB outs as compared to FB outs, but have you watched Puig play defense? Even analyst say that he doesn’t give max effort. His teammates and him have spats about the issue. Like many have said on here, you cannot just look at the numbers when evaluating defense due to different situations and opportunities. What you can do is watch a player and tell if he is giving you all he has. Puig is not on defense.

    I do agree with you that our team could use his bat. In our current situation, he would give us the better opportunity to win. In the long run, I really think it will even out.

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