"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Killing Them Softly

Man, it’s gorgeous out there today. I’ve gotta say, once it gets hot and sunny out, I can’t summon any real sense of urgency for day games. Not that I enjoy watching any less… but I get pretty laid-back about it.


Today’s game was appropriate, then, as the Yankees beat the Rays 4-3 with one of the least exciting three-run eighth inning comebacks you’ll ever see. It was still a nice win (and the Yanks’ 20th come-from-behinder of the season), it’s just that a few walks, an error, and a couple of dinky shoulda-been DP balls is hardly the stuff of legend. For an inning there it was like playing the old Devil Rays of a few years ago. Still, whatever works, and the Yanks, for now, have regained their .5-game division lead.

For the first five innings, the game was mostly a Matt Garza-Joba Chamberlain pitching duel. They both allowed a single run in the third – Joba on a B.J. Upton RBI double, Garza on a Nick Swisher homer – but that was it. Then in the sixth Joba, who’d been cruising along pretty efficiently, lost his fastball control and got himself into a mess. With the bases loaded, Gabe Gross hit a single up the middle and the Rays took a 3-1 lead. Chamberlain recovered to K Dioner Navarro, though, and that combined with Alfredo Aceves’s impressive six outs meant New York’s deficit never got too daunting.

The Yankees launched their passive-resistance-style comeback in the eighth. Damon and Teixeira singled, A-Rod walked, and then Cano walked – and if I were a manager and my reliever managed to walk Robinson Cano with the bases loaded, I’d be out of the dugout so fast the cameras would only pick up a Superman-like blur. Anyway, then Posada reached, and the game was tied, thanks to a painful error on a likely DP ball by Willy Aybar at third. Matsui hit another likely DP but beat the throw to first (yeah, you heard me) and got away with a force out. And with that, the offensive fireworks were complete. The Yanks’ one-run lead was all they needed, since Mariano Rivera returned to his customary awesomeness and made short work of the Rays, including final out Evan Longoria.

Meanwhile, I’m really liking David Cone as an announcer these days. He seems to enjoy himself, he throws around obscure player slang, and he always seems to be just moments away from forgetting where he is and telling some great, wildly inappropriate story about his playing days that will traumatize young children and gpossibly get him canned. Fun.

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1 lordbyron   ~  Jun 7, 2009 6:25 pm

Cone is excellent as is Leiter - people shoud listen to them more often!

2 The Hawk   ~  Jun 7, 2009 6:40 pm

That was a good recap

3 ms october   ~  Jun 7, 2009 7:01 pm

yeah i am a huge cone fan. i want to be listening the night he tells a crazy, inappropriate story - but i don't want him canned.

i actually found the 8th inning comeback exciting - just ugly.

4 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jun 7, 2009 7:10 pm

[4] There was one game when Hernandez likened a very confusing, worked over scorecard to, I kid you not, "an acid trip."

I realize that's just a crazy, inappropriate simile and not a crazy, inappropriate story, but I couldn't believe my ears--and he's still around!

5 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 7, 2009 7:36 pm

Great game thread today, thanks to all you crazy Banterers..I've got a Guinness set aside to watch Joba&Mo on the mlb archive tonight..

About the discussion of Japanese ballparks..I had not seen the stadium dimensions that someone linked to previously..very interesting. I can say that Jingu Stadium where the Yakult Swallos play (and I am lucky to live within walking distance of) is so small that A-Rod would hit 50 homers a year there, easy..it looks to the eye even less than 355 to the alleys.

As for Matsuzaka..when I first got to Japan I saw him pitch in his rookie season for the Seibu Lions, he was not even 19 years old..and he threw some games with ridiculously high pitch counts. I firmly believe that he's one of the most talented pitchers in the game, but his arm is close to dead now..that 240-pitch game at the Koshien High School tournament is not a myth! He could likely be retired by the time he's 33 or 34...

6 monkeypants   ~  Jun 7, 2009 7:41 pm

[5] I firmly believe that he’s one of the most talented pitchers in the game...


7 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 7, 2009 7:46 pm

[6] Hahaha, Gyroball or no Gyroball, the guy (when healthy) is very very hard to hit..

8 OldYanksFan   ~  Jun 7, 2009 8:31 pm

Dice-K is good, but walks too many and has too much mileage on his arm. I don't think his contract is worth it.

9 RIYank   ~  Jun 7, 2009 9:00 pm

[4] Classic self-reference, weeping.

I really like Cone, too. In fact, so far, the presence of Cone and O'Neill makes the overall broadcast experience excellent, even though Kay is a bit of an ass.

10 monkeypants   ~  Jun 7, 2009 9:19 pm

[8] I agree...and his HR rate is pretty high as well. I know the legend of Dice-K--greatest pitcher in Japan evuh, gyroball, etc. But I think that he is just another example of a super-great Japanese league star whose skills translate to a lower success level in MLB (see my post from the game thread, with Ichiro as the great exception). Maybe this is because of the mileage on his arm--who knows? It can never be proven one way or the other. All we have is the evidence from his time in MLB, and the results are pretty mediocre. even last year's high win total and low era masked some ugly peripherals (namely the tremendous walk rate, as you note).

On top of all this, he would have to be really, really, really good to justify his contract and the posting fee. That said, the Sox won a WS with Dice-K on the staff, so the contract is by definition "good" in the eyes of many.

11 seamus   ~  Jun 7, 2009 9:24 pm

[9] glad someone else noticed.

[11] dude you are so right!

12 OldYanksFan   ~  Jun 7, 2009 10:27 pm

[10] The WS in 2007 had little to do with Dice-K, who was just slightly above average that year.

Dice-K is making $17m+/yr thru 2012. The (tax free) posting fee would have saved us $20m, but has been little use to the Sox. If he can go 3 more year of 115+ ERA, it won't have been a bad deal... but Japanese pitchers have never aged well in MLB. Time will tell.

Ichiro however, is in a class of his own. I get the feeling, because his team has never been in contention, that he is not going full out. I'd love to see him on a team that is playoff bound. I have a feeling he has a high gear he hasn't used yet.

13 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 7, 2009 10:29 pm

[10] well, the contract was excessive with that huge posting fee..but it's all relative. they paid twice as much as the Yankees did for Igawa, but got 200 times the results..

seriously, whoever scouted Igawa should have been fired by now...what a disaster!

14 unmoderated   ~  Jun 7, 2009 10:53 pm

emma, i'm guessing some of that slang you talk about was cone referring to a ball curving foul as 'leaking oil."

not sure why, but that had me cracking up.

love the cone. he gets better every time out.

15 Just Fair   ~  Jun 7, 2009 11:08 pm

I've liked Cone in the booth from the get go. He stopped his story short today about the dog biting his finger because he didn't want PETA on his back. : ) He said, it too, was Cuban and came over on the raft with El Duque. Funny. I recently began the Torre book and it describes how he used to get Steinbrenner all riled up and would piss off O'Neill pretty good.

16 monkeypants   ~  Jun 7, 2009 11:45 pm

[12] Of course I agree with you about the WS and Dice-K. Sadly, many fans see it that way, I think.

[12] ERA+ of 115? well, he had one of 108, then he a had a fluky year last season with not so good peripherals but an ERA+ of 159. This year it's 67 (!!!). I say he's lucky if he ever reaches EAR+ 115 in any of the next three seasons. hell, I think he'll be lucky to pitch much better than league average. 100 million for that?

[13] Well yes, the Igawa signing was notoriously bad. But it's not really worth examining such contracts relatively, is it? Just because Igawa's was the worst doesn't make Dice-K's "good" by any stretch. The Sox massively overpaid for his services, but this blunder was masked by the team's overall fortunes. just like the foolish Irabu signing was masked by the Yankees success in 1997-9.

[12] Ichiro however, is in a class of his own...

He's been the best Japanese league transplant so far, but let's not get carried away. He is also in my book of vastly overrated good players. I ca't get too excited about a corner outfielder who has a career .809 OPS (117 OPS+). Yeah, the speed helps, but he's only had one truly excellent season (though he is working a fine season this year). Plus, he has all of that speed and defensive ability, then pissed and moaned about being put in CF.

17 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 7, 2009 11:54 pm

[15] As has been said, Cone seems like a guy it'd be great to have beers with. O'Neil seems wayyy too uptight for that, Singleton would be a great story-teller, Flaherty's monotone would bore you to death..obviously Kay wouldn't be invited! Am i forgetting anyone in the 65-man YES booth?

[16] Ichiro.. gets 200 hits every single year, scores 100+ runs, steals bases, plays GoldGlove D.. will be in the HOF and is one of the 10 best players in baseball..wouldn't say he was over-rated at all.

You are right about the Igawa signing.

18 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jun 8, 2009 12:07 am

[9] [11] Oh. Heh heh heh heh.

19 OldYanksFan   ~  Jun 8, 2009 12:14 am


"For several hours before Rivera took the ball Saturday afternoon in that tie game, he’d suffered with a stomach ailment that brought aches and repeated vomiting, according to one Yankee. Rivera had rolled off the trainer’s table, where he’d hoped to sleep it off, and into the bullpen in the eighth inning, when he began to warm up.

So, no, he didn’t have his best command. And, no, he didn’t have his best fastball.

But, he didn’t sprinkle the Yankee Stadium mound with breakfast, which, in itself, was a small victory, even in defeat.

“He was so upset afterward,” the teammate said.

And yet, Rivera did not mention it after the game, and he did not reveal it late Sunday afternoon, when it would have played less like an excuse than, in victory, the simple retelling of a trying 30 hours. He did not hang those hittable fastballs or that loss on his illness. He did not blame manager Joe Girardi for asking him to pitch in a tie game when a healthier body might have – and probably should have – done.

He accepted the baseball".

20 Rich   ~  Jun 8, 2009 12:46 am

Once of the pleasant surprises of the season has been the Yankees' defense, which except for Posada (and at times Damon) has been pretty good.

21 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 1:41 am


Ichiro.. gets 200 hits every single year


scores 100+ runs


steals bases


plays GoldGlove D


will be in the HOF

Perhaps, but he shouldn't be. He also does not walk, does not hit for power, and does not hit his position. maybe in four or five more years, if he gets to 3000 hits.

and is one of the 10 best players in baseball.

He most certainly is not, and pretty much never has been. Heck, he's having one of his two best years so far, and he only has the eight best OPS of all MLB RFs. His defense and speed makes up for some of that, but it is laughable that he is one of the top ten players at all positions in the league. This assertion is even more untenable for the four seasons in which he had an OPS under .800 (2003, 2005, 2006, 2008), for a corner outfielder.

.wouldn’t say he was over-rated at all.

Given your preceding over-evaluation of him, yes indeed he is.

22 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 1:57 am

[21] to continue, playing around with different stats.

According to baseball prospectus (http://tinyurl.com/ml96ao), Ichiro is currently only the fourth most valuable player on his own team (the moribund Mariners), according to Value Above Replacement Player (VORP).

Last year, using VORP (http://tinyurl.com/mkswxm), he was the 56th most valuable hitter in the league, two spots below Derk Jeter (VORP is position dependent, so a light hitting RF is worth less than a light hitting SS).

23 thelarmis   ~  Jun 8, 2009 2:08 am

[8] true. but he had a good day today as far as K/BB = 8/0

Jazz Tokyo = i saw the 3 Sounds bit from the earlier thread. nice man, nice! what's funny is , i JUST listened to that same album yesterday, or the day before! i got 7 of their discs in that big box. i already had three titles. still, that's only about HALF of their output for BN. i'd really like to find their other cd's and i believe they've been released in Japan. still, i made a nice dent in my Three Sounds collection this week! : )

oh, that live Freddie Hubbard that was just released, is NOT that amazing. there are TONS of other Freddie cd's you should get first...

[21] wow. good stuff, man! i like Ichiro. i think it'll be amazing if he reaches 3,000 hits here. it's within his grasp. i think regardless, he'll prolly get voted into the Hall...

looks like i'll be around to catch the game on espn tomorrow. i sure hope Andy throws a gem.

24 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 2:17 am

[23] Ichiro has about 1900 hits right now. He'll finish the season with 2000+, then he'll need five more seasons at 200 hits/each. That's a tall order for a 40 y.o., but not impossible given his athleticism and hitting style. It will be interesting to see when (if) his speed starts to give out. He was 43 of 47 (!!!) last year, but only 9 of 13 so far this year.

25 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jun 8, 2009 2:21 am

I know batting average isn't supposed to mean anything anymore, but for God's sake, the guy is a lifetime .332 hitter in eight full seasons. Ok, so he doesn't walk. He hits!

I don't really care whether he's one of the ten best players or not, but man, tough room when 8 consecutive two hundred hit seasons is evidence of mediocrity.

26 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jun 8, 2009 2:27 am

His eight such seasons place him in a tie with Gehrig and some guy I've never heard of, behind Pete Rose and Ty Cobb.

What's a brother have to do to get some respect?

27 thelarmis   ~  Jun 8, 2009 2:30 am

[24] yeah, i've checked on that, too! it's definitely a tall order, but if someone can do it - it's Ichiro. i think any kind of leg injury though, might derail his pursuit of 3,000. since i'm a fan of round numbers and baseball statistics & history, i hope he reaches the mark!

on a sidenote, i really love mimicking his stance in my living room, even though i do it right-handed! i LOVE the calculated bat pointing and sleeve tug. : )

28 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 2:30 am

[25] OBP is more important than BA. He has a .332 BA and 'only' a .377 OBP. This year it's .384 despite being near the top of the league in BA. By compariosn, Swisher has nearly the identical OBP. That's right, Swisher and Ichiro make outs at the same pace this season.

And I never said he was mediocre--I said he was very good but overrated (as in, NOT one of the ten best players in the league, NOT HOF material).

29 thelarmis   ~  Jun 8, 2009 2:32 am

[26] is the guy you never heard of, either Wee Willie Keeler or Gorgeous George Sisler?

i was taking a walk this afternoon around my neighborhood and saw the name "Schulte" on a real estate sign. i thought of Frank "Wildfire" Schulte, from the 30's, 'coz i'm a big baseball geek! he was the first guy to tally 20 each of homers, doubles, triples and stolen bases in a season. sooo cool!!! Willie Mays did in the 50's, then we all remember both Jimmy Rollins & Curtis Granderson doing it in the same season a coupla years back...

30 thelarmis   ~  Jun 8, 2009 2:34 am

[28] that does seem to be a low ISO-D. < 50. what is the average isoD? i'm guessing maybe around 80, or so? is anything 100+ considered elite? thanks!

31 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 2:36 am

[26] You mean Gerhig of the .440+ OBP and .630+ SLG?

Ichiro is a fine player, but he doesn't belong in the same room as Cobb and Gehrig. Really, he's a freaky-fluky player: super fast, lots of contact, but really a bit of a hack. He's not particularly patient and he doesn't hit for power. He's the king of the singles hitters.

His style fits your aesthetic sensibilities, to be sure. And I grant that he is fun to watch. But he's not nearly the best player in the league at his position, he's not even close to the best players in the league overall.

32 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jun 8, 2009 2:43 am

[29] Nah, I've heard of them.

[28] I know you didn't say he was mediocre, I was being hyperbolic. But really, in my book, 8 (and counting) 200 hit seasons, something that the most elite hitters in the history of the game (Boggs, Carew, Gwynn, etc.) have not accomplished counts for a lot, certainly the HOF.

When you start your team, mp, you're free to take Swisher. I'll start my team with Ichiro any day of the week. I really don't get how it is that a walk is valued equally to a hit. Guy on second or third, a walk doesn't get him in, but only passes the buck.

*Someone* has to get hits, no?

33 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jun 8, 2009 2:55 am

Heh heh heh. Our exchanges recall to mind the following:

"When she got back to the Cheshire Cat, she was surprised to find quite a large crowd collected round it: there was a dispute going on between the executioner, the King, and the Queen, who were all talking at once, while all the rest were quite silent, and looked very uncomfortable.

The moment Alice appeared, she was appealed to by all three to settle the question, and they repeated their arguments to her, though, as they all spoke at once, she found it very hard indeed to make out exactly what they said.

The executioner's argument was, that you couldn't cut off a head unless there was a body to cut it off from: that he had never had to do such a thing before, and he wasn't going to begin at HIS time of life.

The King's argument was, that anything that had a head could be beheaded, and that you weren't to talk nonsense.

The Queen's argument was, that if something wasn't done about it in less than no time she'd have everybody executed, all round. (It was this last remark that had made the whole party look so grave and anxious.) "

34 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 2:57 am

[32] Hits are more valuable than hits, of course. But you can't ignore power, and taken as a whole, OPB usually tells the story when it comes to making outs. Sure, Ichiro is probably at the fringe--for example a guy who hits .400 with all base hits and no walks is probably more valuable than a guy who hits .300 and has walks for a .400 OBP. But his high BA masks real weaknesses in his game.

the point is not whether I would take Swisher over Ichiro. Rather, the point is that their value is much, much closer than their BAs suggest.

As for Ichiro's accomplishment that eluded so many elite hitters--so what? What makes 200 hits of such numerological importance? Boggs got 200 hits fewer time mainly because he walked so often. Generally, it takes a hack (like Rose or Ichiro) to really pile up the hits. Babe Ruth had three 200-hit seasons. DiMAggio had two. Ted Williams had none. Barry Bonds, none. Mantle, none. Big deal. They were all more valuable than Ichiro by a long margin. It only underscores how overvalued hits (i.e. singles) and by extension BA are.

Let's expand your hypothetical. When you pick your team, you take all the slap hitting, high BA, no strike-out singles hitters. I'll tae the guys who get on base 40% of the time and slug the ball over the fence. My team will beat yours. Regularly.

35 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 3:06 am

[32] Guy on second or third, a walk doesn’t get him in, but only passes the buck.

That you see not making an out as "passing the buck" betrays, I think, a fundamental philosophical difference. You would have been one of the infamous critics who complained about Ted Williams for not swinging at more pitches out of the zone and "settling" for walks.

36 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jun 8, 2009 3:14 am

No it won't; I'll get myself a stable of crafty junk-ballers that'll keep your guys so flummoxed and off-balance they'll be screwing themselves into the dirt, lucky to pick up the odd bloop hit.

So ha.

37 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jun 8, 2009 3:19 am

[35] Fair enough, but it depends on the situation. Mostly, I guess, who you're passing the buck to. If the lineup is robust, I can see the value of that, but if all you need is a single and Ichiro is a master at procuring them, I damn well want him swinging the bat and not looking to walk. Of course I don't mean he ought to swing at crap, but he can expand his zone because his style of hitting permits him to do so; he's looking to make hard contact, which he can do with a wider assortment of pitches than the guy who's looking to go yard and therefore has to wait for (relatively speaking) the perfect pitch.

38 thelarmis   ~  Jun 8, 2009 3:29 am

walking, also helps tire and frustrate the pitcher. it also allows the other batters to see the pitches in the guys' arsenal. after bouts of wildness, a pitcher might be more wont to grooving one in there. wearing down pitchers and getting on-base is a wonderful thing. walks are excellent.

what's that Anthrax lyric:

I'm the walkin' dude
I can see all the world
Twist your minds with fear
I'm the man with the power
Among The Living
Follow me or die!!!

walkin' dude w/ power? i never knew they were singing about Adam Dunn in 1987!!! ; )

39 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 8, 2009 3:36 am

Wow..interesting debate going on here. I think that monkeypants, you make some really strong points but are over-stating jussssst a bit. Ichiro is certainly a more valuable player than Nick Swisher. OBP is the most important offensive statistic, but you can't just judge players in an OBP vacum..is Adam Dunn a better baseball player than Ichiro because his lifetime OBP is higher and he hits more home runs? I would question anyone that things an Adam Dunn type player is better at the game of baseball than Ichiro...

Singles hitters have their place, especially if they bring speed and defense to the table. Yes, Ichiro plays right field, usually a power position. However, his speed, D and run-scoring ability make him just as valuable as some others whose VORP may be higher.

40 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 3:49 am

[39] I'm pretty certain that Adam Dunn is as valuable than Ichiro, balancing offense and defense. You would have to look at the more advanced metrics like runs created, which I belive calculate in the value of speed, etc. Defense is always tough to determine. But really, Dunn's higher OBP and MUCH higher slugging percentage are worth a lot.

I know it's not pretty watching a player like Dunn, and I know it cuts against the sensibilities of those who like watching Ichiro slap the ball around, but the reality is that guys who don't make outs (that is, get on base) and hit the ball over the fence tend be more valuable than speedy slap hitters.

41 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 8, 2009 3:58 am

[40] You "may" be right..but would you honestly take Dunn before Ichiro if starting a team? Dunn IS a great offensive player but he has zero value defensively..

and "three-true-outcomes" players like Jack Cust are terribly boring to watch, and not very good at baseball overall I feel..

42 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 4:06 am

[41] In a vacuum--it would be a tough call. But I think the decision is a lot closer you do, I agree with you that three-true-outcomes players ARE boring to watch. I think that Ichiro is more interesting than Giambi...or Bonds for that matter. But when it comes to winning baseball, give me the guys who get on base as much or more than Ichiro AND slug 100 points or more higher.

Maybe baseball should consider rules changes to encourage a more exciting, less static game. But every since babe Ruth figured out that if you are a more valuable player if your swing big and lead the league in HRs, walks, and Ks, that is the way the game has evolved.

43 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 8, 2009 4:15 am

[42] Yes, that is why I miss the 1980s game..youthful nostalgia aside, I loved watching the Cardinals and Royals in 1985..speedy guys slapping out hits on the turf, great D..and the occasional bomb by Jack Clark or Bye-Bye Balboni..it was great baseball. Japanese baseball is a bit like that but with wayyyyyy too many bunts and very odd managerial moves that can ruin a game.

44 RIYank   ~  Jun 8, 2009 7:10 am

However, his speed, D and run-scoring ability make him just as valuable as some others whose VORP may be higher.

Mr OK, VORP is a measure of how valuable a player is to his team. It's supposed to account for the factors that make his team more likely to win a game of baseball.
There might be some other sense of value, but the question is why we should care about that sense when we are not evaluating aesthetically but in terms of contribution to winning games.

45 OldYanksFan   ~  Jun 8, 2009 7:28 am

MP - I mostly agree with what you say about Ichiro's offense and OBP. The problem however, is we can't really qualify defense and speed in terms of their real impact on winning.

It would be nice to be able to equate Defense to OPS... such as:
Ichiro Speed + .803 OPS = .830 OPS .... or
Ichiro Defense + .803 OPS = .850 OPS
... or something like that.

The difference between an .800 and .900 OPS (Ichiro/Dunn) is about a base every 10 ABs, or every 2 games. How does GG D and speed on the bases compare to one-half base/game? Well..... every SB would equate to 'that base'. Every stolen hit would equate to 1, or 2, or 3 bases. And it's ahrd to quality the 'distraction' factor' a base runner like Ichiro has on a pitcher.

Based on OBP, Dunn 'might' get 5-10 more bases then IChiro (or make 5-10 less outs) per season. How many outs (and runs) is GG defense (as opposed to average or below average defense) worth?

We know how valuable Tex's bat has been, but what about his glove?
NOT considering age, I would take Ichiro over Dunn every time.

Ichiro is NOT one of the best 10 players in BB.... but is much, MUCH better then just looking at his offensive numbers.

46 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 8:02 am

[45] The problem however, is we can’t really qualify defense and speed in terms of their real impact on winning....

But we CAN. That's where things like VORP, WARP, Runs Created, etc come in.

OPS is just a short hand, it's not the be-all and end-all. And again, the issue is not Ichiro v. Dunn, specifically. Fine, take Ichiro every time. The point is that the decision between the two is a lot closer than most instinctively think, because the think Ichiro is worth more than he is, because he slaps a magical number of hits each season (200+) and has a strong throwinf arm in RF.

Frankly, I would pick Ichiro too, but I would play him in CF, where his weaker bat but speed/defense have more value. I think he is being wasted in RF, and moreover he does not hit enough for the position.

Finally, my main point still stands--Ichiro is not even close to being one of the top players in the league, and as such he should not sniff the HOF (but he will, since voters will be won over by his singles and batting average). Still, it does strike how overrated he is as a player, and this is only reinforced by the various arguments--usually citing intangibles (e.g. distraction factor)--thrown up in his defense. Just look at his numbers--four seasons BELOW .800 OPS for a corner OF. Speed or not, that is simply not that good. Derek Jeter has ONE season like that, at a more important defensive position, and everyone is ready to buy him a coffin. Ichiro is fine ball player, very fast and freakishly good at hitting singles. But he is not as good as his general reputation.

47 Rich   ~  Jun 8, 2009 8:44 am

Wins Above Replacement since 2002 via FanGraphs:





48 seamus   ~  Jun 8, 2009 9:00 am

For what it's worth, the sabermetrics in my opinion underestimate the value of singles hitters like Ichiro. Mainly because most are designed towards false ideals of what a certain position player should hit, rather than an exact measure of a hitter's value.

49 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 9:02 am

[47] Aha, that's the sort of stat I'm talking about. It's interesting to note that in 2002, Dunn's OPS was only .854, while Ichiro had one of his better seasons with an OPS of .813.

Now, it would be interesting to compare them across their careers.

50 OldYanksFan   ~  Jun 8, 2009 9:02 am

Remember MP, that defensive stats are not only flawed, but these numbers represent weighted averages, based on numbers produced by all players/teams over the course of a year.

They do not take into account situation, game score or any other factors that have an input on Wins and loses. Last night, a W was turned into a Loss, based on one botched defensive play.

Flip a coin 100 times. Did it come out Heads/50 and Tails/50?
Stats are best guesses based on mathimatical probability.
I love Stats. I am not belittling them. But they are not absolute in player evaluation, and only have so much value in the 'equation to rate a player'.

Some stats translate better then others. HRs for one. When a guy averages 50 HRs a year, we all understand that (although again, situations like RISP, hi/low leverage, late-and-close may be needed to further qualify it). We know if you have 3 hits in 10 AB, your BA is .300. Hard to argue that. But what is 'speed on the bases' worth? (What would God-damn Jorge NOT running directly into a tag in a crucial situation be worth?)

However, as I said above, Speed and Defense, and how they apply to actual games situations (Dave Roberts anyone) are much harder to qualify.

Ichiro is a great player. NOT like ARod, or Pujols, or many others, but he makes things happen. I still believe in general, we all underrate Defense, although we all here are getting a feeling the difference in this team withOUT Giambi, Abreu and Matsui in the field.

Again, I'm not making a specific case for Ichiro or whether he is 'HOF worthy' or not. But he is a harder player to truly assess then someone like Dunn. In general, of the 5 (or more?) tools a player has, Defense, Speed and a great Arm are harder to qualify.

You said yourself you would take Ichiro over Dunn. It's NOT a no-brainer. It's very close and could go either way. But if you take Ichiro, you are essencially saying that D, Speed and Arm are worth about .100 OPS points. And in this case, they may be.

We all know 'intangibles' exist. The question is their effect.
Are they like a flea on an elephant's ass...
or more like a small splinter in your fingertip?

51 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 9:03 am

[48] Probably true...but in truth, there aren't really any singles like Ichiro other than...Ichiro. Much like Bonds when he was getting walked every AB, he exists at the fringe and thus doesn't really "fit" easily into normal metrics.

52 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 9:05 am

[50] They do not take into account situation, game score or any other factors that have an input on Wins and loses. Last night, a W was turned into a Loss, based on one botched defensive play.

Neither do offensive stats, by and large. That's special pleading!

53 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Jun 8, 2009 9:37 am

This is all interesting. But surely, to keep saying Ichiro vs Dunn is 'close' or even 'closer than it looks' one needs to ignore the win shares stats posted above. That can be done, all stats can be embraced or challenged, but then you have to explain why you are validating OBP so much.

I think it is absolutely true that aesthetics plays a role in how we value athletes - the Federer piece posted this morning connects to that! And think about Ali in his prime ... Ichiro's distinctiveness and grace DO skew perceptions in his favor.

I have a different query, about the HoF, and was thinking about it actually last week in context of Matsui ...

If Cool Papa Bell and Oscar Charleston and Josh Gibson and other great Negro Leaguers are in ther Hall, isn't it in good part because the 'statement' is being made that had the world been a more just place they would have excelled in the AL or NL at a HoF level? (There's a rectification element, too, but the core is surely 'they were all-time worthy'.) So for someone like Ichiro or Matsui, why is it not legit to factor in their Japanese stats to some degree at least? To say 'had culture and economics and the international aspect of the game' been a little different a little sooner, they'd have had AL or NL careers for many more years and ....

Ichiro was 28 when he got to Seattle. Is it possible to doubt he's be at or around 3000 hits right now had he come over at 22 or 23? Could we not be talking about 4000 by retirement??

HoF for Ichiro is a flat-out lock for me. Even debating it seems silly.

Matsui had 7 or 8 MASSIVE years in Japan. Came here at 29. Do these not count in some way?

54 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 10:18 am

[53] But surely, to keep saying Ichiro vs Dunn is ‘close’ or even ‘closer than it looks’ one needs to ignore the win shares stats posted above.

Don't exaggerate--that as from ONE season, a season (as I noted) that was one of Ichiro's stronger and Dunn's weakest. Let's look at their career numbers. Ichiro will come out ahead, no doubt, but I *suspect* the results will be closer than you image.

As for his Japanese league statistics? Well, since the japanese Leagues are generally rated to be around the level of AAA, I would hesitate to use those seasons as evidence for a player's qualification for the MAJOR league Hall of Fame. Of course, if you are looking at it opportunistically ("grow the sport") or ideologically ("it is 'right' to include other leagues"), then sure, include them.

55 OldYanksFan   ~  Jun 8, 2009 10:25 am

[53] Hoss.... Nice to see ya (you pussy! This isn't a game thread!)
Here's my take.
Some stats are mathimatically easier then others. Such as BA is determined by Hits/AB. Did you know that? Do YOU agree with it? What's the formula for WinShares? Have you yourself analyzed it... and do you understand the components and how each is weighted?

While OPS is a relatively (mathimatically) simply, there are a number of 'other' OPS formulas. All of them weigh OPB more. One is (1.4*OBP) + SLG. So, even some the 'simple' stats are up for question. So depending on which formula you use, comparing players can vary.

Defensive Stats seem harder to qualify. Right here, people have posted a comment with 2 Defensive stats for Melky. One was very good, the other showing he was average. So, how good a fielder is Melky? And we all know about cherry picking stats.

So while I love to play with them, I (and maybe all of us) need to understand their derivations better, before we can assess their value. I hate to sound like an old timer (as opposed to a young punk like yourself), but I have gone from a 'stats geek' to believing my eyes, personal judgement and instincts a bit more.

I actually download the 2007 MLB DB, and put up a site, using ASP, to do calcuations, comparisons and displays. My goal was to create 'new stats' by basically combining existing stats into one formula, with weighted values (that were variable and could be entered) for each single stat.

So offensive value could be: 30%(OPS) + 10%(Speed factor) + 10%(RISP Factor) + ....... etc. You get the idea. I was trying NOT to cherry pick, but to incorporate many stats into one... and by varying the weights on individual pieces, and then seeing how it effected the outcome, we could get an idea of what ranges of weighting effect the overall outcome.

I would LOVE for the Banter to do this. Design compilation stats with weight values, to try and have more comprehensive 'overall value' stats.It would certainly make for some Hot threads!

I think WinShares attempts to do this, although we need it also done being 'Position Dependent'. William (I think) said that WS was weighted towards Offensive players (as opposed to Pitchers) so it wasn't a good stat to compare CC to Tex. I have seen other 'compliants' about WS.

Basically, when it comes to Stats in general, I take them all in, but am not always sure at what conclusion to arrive at.

56 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 10:35 am

[55] Here is an article from summer 2008, which compares various potential HOF outfielders, based on WARP 3 (which includes defensive statistics), compared to HOF OFs for career and peak.


Basically, Ichiro doesn't even come close to the HOF, unless we count his Japanese stats OR he plays several more seasons in MLB at a high level.

57 OldYanksFan   ~  Jun 8, 2009 11:29 am

[56] Just to play Devil's advocate:

What is the formula for WARP3?
How much is Speed, Defense and Arm strength in there?

Manny is 'just barely' In? (Maybe D plays a big part in the equation)?
Career OPS leaders (couldn't find OPS+)
1. Babe Ruth+ 1.1638 L
2. Ted Williams+ 1.1155 L
3. Lou Gehrig+ 1.0798 L
4. Albert Pujols (29) 1.0525 R
5. Barry Bonds 1.0512 L
6. Jimmie Foxx+ 1.0376 R
7. Hank Greenberg+ 1.0169 R
8. Rogers Hornsby+ 1.0103 R
9. Manny Ramirez (37) 1.0060 R
10. Todd Helton (35) .9982 L
11. Mark McGwire .9823 R
12. Mickey Mantle+ .9773 B
13. Joe DiMaggio+ .9771 R
14. Stan Musial+ .9757 L
15. Frank Thomas .9740 R
16. Lance Berkman (33) .9683 B
17. Alex Rodriguez (33) .9668 R
18. Larry Walker .9654 L
19. Jim Thome (38) .9639 L
20. Vladimir Guerrero (34) .9591 R
Johnny Mize+ .9591 L
22. Chipper Jones (37) .9564 B
23. Jeff Bagwell .9480 R
24. Mel Ott+ .9471 L
25. Ralph Kiner+ .9459 R

Garciapara: "....but his final "peak" season was only four wins above replacement..."

No, Nomar is not HOF, but a peak year and ONLY 4 Wins above replacement.... and replacement is worse then average. In his prime, Nomar was awesome. He had 2 years with an OPS > 1.000 and and OPS+ > 150. For a SS, that's nuts. But he was not great long enough.

58 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Jun 8, 2009 11:51 am

Should we move this to the new thread? I never know the right way to handle that!

Guys, I'm not arguing in favor of Win Shares as the 'best' measure. Only that (and I agree with OYF) there are so many different stats, that to cite OBP and ignore others needs some justifying.

Monkey, I'm not actually feeling confrontational on this, but ... even if we agree that Japanese league level is about AAA, are you really going to argue that Ichiro's skill level in baseball was not clearly established once he got to Seattle? In other words, maybe address my main point: we are discussing 3000 hits for someone who STARTED at 28, who would have been faster, leaner, for the 5-6 years before that. Or even the 3-4 years, if you like. That's 600-900 hits, maybe. Or 1000 ... it is all a guess, he might have been hurt. But the AAA argument gets iffy when you look at the skill level. And I stay with my Negro League players point, too ... baseball has already DONE this for the Hall.

Matsui is a 'purer' argument on this point. Some will say Ichiro should get in based on his Seattle stats, if he lasts 4 more strong years. Matsui is a no possible way HoF player based on NY ... but start factoring his lifetime numbers and ...?

59 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 12:13 pm

[58] To answer your core questions in paragraph three ("Monkey...")

1. To start off, I do not believe that HOF consideration should be based on arbitrary numerical benchmarks, like 300 wins or 3000 hits. So whether Ichiro gets 3000 or not is largely irrelevant to my argument.

2. HOF should not be based on "skill level," but on production at the MLB level. Jorge is borderline because the Yankees wasted a couple of prime seasons using him as a back up. Matt Stairs (not really a HOF candidate, of course) was wasted in MiL and did not start in the MLB until he was 27 or 28. Daryl Strawberry had as much skill level as anyone, but wasted it on drugs. In the end, it is too bad that Ichiro was trapped in the Japanese leagues, but that shouldn't bear--in my mind--on his HOF candidacy.

3. As for the Negro League argument: yes, the HOF set this precedent with the Negro Leagues. And from that perspective, you are correct. I for one have long felt that too many Negro League players have been allowed in for reasons that amount to reparation. But you are correct...the barn door is open, so let in the Japanese League players as well. But then, citing the Negro Leagues, we obviate the entire Ichiro-as-MLB player argument. we would need ONLY look at players Japanese League stats. Then suddenly players like Dice-K (eminently average in MLB) are HOFers.

One more point: I did not cit OBP and ignore others. In fact, I did the opposite: I called attention to his lack of power as a real negative for a corner position player.

It really does come down to an aesthetic and philosophical difference. Empirically, Ichiro is just not as good as most fans think that he is. Good, but not outstanding. But he is fun to watch. And if you value hits--and lots of them--over other outcomes, then he is your man.

60 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 12:16 pm

[57] I don't know what the formula is, and Baseball Prospectus does not reveal the exact formula (as far as know). I do know, however, that every time I cite a stat other than batting average, Ichiro does not come out as good as his reputation, to which someone responds with vague references to his "speed" or "arm."

Show me the numbers!

; )

61 monkeypants   ~  Jun 8, 2009 12:22 pm

[58] And yes, we could move this to the new thread...though I fear I am beating that poor dead horse too much!

So, I'll stop here and go up to the new thread. Moreover, I will hold off on any more posts until someone (me or someone else) can find some different metrics--Win Shares, Runs Created, etc--with which to measure ICHIRO!!!

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