Friday, August 24, 2007

Griffity Griffity Griff

Apartment life is great! My roommate and his girlfriend are excellent cooks, so I am eating very well these days. Much better than all the pizza and fast food that I used to get back when I lived in my mom's basement. That was back when I was a "blogger". Now I'm just some guy who writes on a website.

Anyway, onto the focus of today's "You Suckings", Richard Griffin. If you take the trouble to read his mailbag, he's a pretty informative guy. He might know more hard facts about his team than anyone I've seen (or at least usually he does his research). So why oh why does he show up here? Well, simply because often times he chooses to agree with readers in some messed up way rather than reporting the truth.

Here's the relevant part of the question:

Q: Richard,

I love your column and candor during the season. What do you think is the biggest thing missing from the Toronto offence?

a) Solid clutch hitter;

b) Speed;

c) Too many big bats with low averages, versus guys that can get on base (making long rallies tough to come by);

d) A combination of all of the above.

Greg Lawrie, United Kingdom

OK, Richard, it's a multiple choice question. There are 4 choices. Acceptable answers are a), b), c), and the one that shouldn't have even been written into the qusetion, d). Good luck!

As for your question that features four options.

a) Yes they need a solid clutch hitter. Two-out with runners in scoring position tells you a lot. You can't hand the situation off to the next batter. Jays hitting with two outs through Monday: Troy Glaus .180, Reed Johnson .143, John McDonald .211, Lyle Overbay .139, Alex Rios .216, Matt Stairs .174, Vernon Wells .180. Team .220.

Not really false, given those numbers, but, and there are a few qualifiers on this, there really is no such thing as a clutch hitter. Troy Glaus doesn't have any genetic dysfunction that prevents him from getting base hits with two outs (John McDonald does...he's bad at baseball). Fact of the matter is, that's just pure coincidence that the Jays are so far below their average with 2 outs. Also, note that these are not the averages with 2 outs, runners in scoring position, just the overall two-out averages, which tell you very, very little about how "clutch" the Jays have been.

b) Yes they need more speed. The Jays have 41 steals and have yielded 109. Rios has 12 steals to lead the team, but is no longer batting leadoff and has the brakes put on. Johnson has speed but is not a base stealer. Wells is a great instinctive base runner, but has eight steals. They need a better pure leadoff hitter and then can bat Johnson No. 2.

No. They don't need more speed in the form of steals. Stolen bases, because of the fact that stealing bases at a 75% clip is essentially break-even for run production, are very, very uncorrelated to the amount of runs a team scores. The league is stealing bases this year at a 73.75% rate, so teams trying to steal bases at all has probably decreased the amount of runs we've seen this season. I repeat. Stolen bases are the absolute most overrated commodity in an offensive player.

I really don't think I've beat this into people enough, so starting with the team that has stolen the most bases in the AL, the Angels, and ending with the Blue Jays (who have somehow stolen less than Billy Beane's A's), here are the rankings for total runs scored.

LAA: 4th
BAL: 9th
TB: 12th
MIN: 13th
NYY: 1st
DET: 2nd
TEX: 6th
BOS: 3rd
SEA: 5th
KC: 11th
CLE: 7th
CHW: 14th
OAK: 8th
TOR: 10th

Very little, if any, relationship. Here comes the part that really bothers me.

c) Yes, they have too many big bats with low on-base numbers.

Who? Who are these "big bats" with low on-base numbers? Other than Vernon Wells, who is at a poor .314 clip, here are some "big bat" OBPs.

Alex Rios: .366
Frank Thomas: .371
Troy Glaus: .345
Lyle Overbay: .343
Matt Stairs: .363

Griffin, this is your own team. I can't tell you how stupid and lazy that was. You want to know the REAL reason your team doesn't score? Reed Johnson is leading off for your team and OBPing .324. He doesn't have power, either. Royce Clayton and John McDonald platooning at short features two of the worst hitters in the game. Adam Lind has 235 ABs with a .274 OBP. The Jays can't afford to have such bad players being in the lineup without a single guy with a .300 EqA (Alex Rios: .294) to counterbalance them.

d) Yes, yes, yes, yes.

This was a multiple choice question, and you just answered "yes" to every choice.

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