Sorry about the lack of posts the last few days – Derek has been pimping his book down in Arizona and hosting pregame fun with Bill Bavasi and Kevin Towers, while I’ve been taking care of some photography business, Jeff’s hanging out with sunsets in Okinawa, and Jason was graduating from the CIA – the cooking one, not the espionage one.
Even with multi-author blogs, occassionally we’ll all get busy and you’ll get a day or two without a thread. Thanks for not burning the place down in our absence.
So, what have we missed;
The team is beginning to build faith in a resurgent year by… losing every spring training game they play. They’re now 0-5 in games that don’t count. No, this doesn’t matter at all. No, you shouldn’t care. No, this isn’t evidence of Mike Hargrove’s inability to motivate his players. It means nothing. Really.
The team has setup the rotation so that King Felix gets the opening day nod. To which I say huzzah. There’s a good sentiment behind protecting his young arm, but your best pitcher should be rewarded with the first start of the season, and there’s simply no way to not ackonwledge the fact that Felix Hernandez is the Mariners’ best pitcher. To give the honor to a mediocrity like Jarrod Washburn isn’t going to help Felix. Developing bitterness in your franchise players isn’t protecting them.
Jerry Brewer wrote a column about how Richie Sexson is misunderstood. He’s not though – we understand perfectly well that he’s a league average first baseman making $14 million dollars, and he’s a competitive disadvantage that the Mariners would have been wiser to have dumped and spent the money on better players. No misunderstanding – he’s just not that great of a player, and his salary his one of the reasons the Mariners continue to spend more money than other teams and finish 10 games behind them in the standings.
What “Predicted ERA” does is essentially the same thing for pitchers. James did the bulk of the legwork, but Olkin finalized the product, which, by the way, is how roughly 99.9 per cent of all inventions in this world usually wind up happening. My goal is not to turn this blog into a stats-laden think-tank that will bore the heck out of the average reader. But there are certain stats in baseball that are very important to the outlook of a team and the Mariners did hire Olkin on a freelance contract basis in 2005 so I think even traditionalist, stats-phobic fans will learn something here.
It’s great to see that something like Predicted ERA can get a writeup in the local fishwrap, considering it’s far from a mainstream stat. It’s great to see Baker acknowleding that ERA can vary wildly from a player’s true talent level, and pointing out that this tool exposed Jarrod Washburn as a fraud from day one. However, and this isn’t a knock on Baker as much as it is a knock on the Mariners, Predicted ERA has been made obsolete by much more effective statistics that do the same thing, only better.
As I wroteup in my Evaluting Pitcher Talent post, looking at things on a macro level is going to lead to incorrect assumptions because of the difficulty of separating out influences of the pitcher, the defense, and the park. Predicted ERA (OPS/31, for those who haven’t read the article) doesn’t adjust for any of these things.
Mat Olkin’s a smart guy, so hopefully he was just throwing Baker a bone and talking about a stat that he helped create a while ago to give him good column fodder, because if the Mariners are really leaning on Predicted ERA to evaluate pitchers while the rest of baseball has moved on to far more accurate statistics, it’s just another sign of how far behind the times this organization is.
However, Baker’s willingness to interact with his readers and throw bones to the statistical community is a stunning reversal from the Pocket Lint era, and it’s great to even be able to have that kind of discussion with the Times beat writer.
Oh, and I know I’m behind on the Community Projection updates – the series is still going on, and if you’re on the list, you’re still getting the emails – I’ll post a recap of the results of the last few tonight.