Thursday, February 16, 2012

Oh shut up, Jonah Keri

I'd like to open this post with a three paragraph rant about why Jonah Keri annoys me, but I don't have the time or energy and you probably wouldn't have the patience to read it. My damn high school language arts teachers told me a thousand times to "show not tell" when it comes to writing effectively, so I think I will take their advice to heart and jump right into the article. I will not take any other advice they gave me to heart, as doing so might cause me to become a crazy divorcee with seven cats.

/cheap shot at perfectly nice people

Houston, We Have (Lots of) Problems
The Astros' blueprint for rebuilding

Fuck NASA for putting their mission control center in Houston. Thanks for decades of godawful lines like that, with decades more doubtless to come.

There are thousands of ingredients that go into building a successful baseball franchise. But sometimes the difference between a great franchise and a lousy one can be summed up with a single number.

This was published on Grantland, which is why Jonah channels Simmons (who is in turn channeling that worthless shithead Malcolm Gladwell) in his first sentence by handing us an obnoxiously oversimplified explanation. Ever read "The Tipping Point?" Don't, it's a waste of fucking time. Sometimes what started a small idea or event picks up speed and turns into a really huge idea or event thanks to certain factors. SPOILER ALERT. Oh sorry, should have said that before the other sentence.

In 2005, 2006, and 2007, the St. Louis Cardinals drafted a total of 24 players who've since made it to the big leagues — the highest number for any team during that three-year span. The Cardinals won the World Series last year thanks in large part to players like Jaime Garcia, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, and Lance Lynn.

In the 2005, 2006, and 2007 amateur drafts, the Houston Astros drafted a total of four players who've since made it to the big leagues, the lowest rate of return in the majors. The Astros went 56-106 last year, good for the worst record in baseball and the worst in franchise history.

And this is why Jonah Keri stinks. He found a cool stat, completely unworthy of anything more than a tweet, and is now trying to build his whole argument around it. DUR THE ASTROS NEED TO DRAFT BETTER. No fucking shit they do! But that stat and the Garcia/Jay/Craig/Lynn bit distort the issue beyond usefulness. As soon as you start saying the Cardinals had a parade and raised a flag "in large part" due to those four guys, you're ruining your article. I can no longer read it. As I stare at the page and try to process the words, all my mind can see is a picture of you wearing a dunce cap while grinning like Lloyd Christmas.

Garcia was halfway decent during the regular season (3.56 ERA but only 1 WAR) and postseason, although he did his best to try to make sure the Brewers got to the WS instead of the Cardinals (2 NLCS starts, 8.2 IP, 7 ER). John Jay was a 4th OF who moved into CF after Colby Rasmus got traded. He was worth a whole 1.3 WAR during the regular season and then mashed his way to a .182/.262/.218 triple slash in 63 playoff PAs. Allen Craig had more WAR than Garcia and Jay combined even though he only got 219 regular season PAs, and crushed the ball in the World Series, but it's not like he was on the short list for team MVP. And Lance Lynn threw a whole 34 regular season innings and got lit up in the WS. The totals for these four guys: 5.8 WAR, half of which were Craig's.

Sure, they needed every win they got just to make the postseason. You still can't say they won that title "in large part" due to these guys. It's preposterous. It's not close to close to being true. Pujols, Carpenter, Holliday, and Berkman generated 20ish WAR. Only one of them is a Cardinals farm product, and the one who was most important down the stretch and in the playoffs (Carpenter, DUH) was acquired via free agency.

Twenty-four to four. That's what separates baseball's champs from its chumps.

No, what separated them last year was 1) the Cardinals having one of the ten greatest hitters of all time 2) the Cardinals having a dominant pitcher get hot at the right time 3) the Cardinals striking paydirt on Berkman, who appeared to be mostly done in late 2010 4) the Braves taking a gigantic shit in their collective bed and then playfully rolling in it rather than bothering to show up for any of their September games.

Dumbass fans of faux-objectivity say "HEY KERI SOMETIMES WRITES STUFF FOR FANGRAPHS THAT MUST MEAN HE'S A BASEBALL SUPERGENIUS!" Meanwhile, he's distributing garbage like this. The article goes on for another 1000+ words describing changes in the Astros front office (getting rid of Ed Wade might be the platonic ideal of addition by subtraction), but why read it? I'm too distracted by this nonsense. Writing that those four homegrown players are "in large part" to be thanked for the 2011 Cardinals championship is no less obnoxious than the hundreds of "that Eckstein really has some heart, doesn't he?" articles that prompted the invention of the internet back in 2006.

Call this post nitpicky if you want; I'm sure that's what the mouth-breathers from FanGraphs would do if they knew/cared about little ol' FJayM. If you read Keri frequently, though, I hope you'd at least agree with me when I say that he's not nearly as baseball savvy or as good a writer as he thinks he is. In other words, this post is about more than a quick throwaway intro of his. It's about everything he writes. In other other words, I don't know how well this post will stand up and feel the need to make excuses about it before anyone even gets a chance to read it. That's probably a good clue that it's time for me to stop writing. I wonder what's on TV?

/turns on Sportscenter

/has seizure

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Keri writes for FanGraphs sometimes. Great, so we've established that he enjoys being in poorly-written circle jerks with obnoxious, self-important SABR-heads. Still wanting: Any real baseball and/or writing bona fides.