The Fight

Dave · July 25, 2010 at 9:12 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I leave for the weekend – it was great, thanks for asking – and, of course, a player gets in a fight with the manager in full view of the TV cameras. Figures. As the guy in charge of the big Mariner blog, I feel like I’m supposed to write about this. I just don’t know what to say about the situation that you should really care about.

The baseball media (and yes, I include blogs like this one in that genre) does a good job of offering insight into certain areas of the game. We also are basically useless when it comes to amateur psychology. Regardless of the level of access or the ferociousness of opinion, very little of what is speculated about offers any real knowledge about what may happen. Really, let’s just look at the facts of this situation.

Chone Figgins, lauded clubhouse leader and great team chemistry guy, got into a public fight with Don Wakamatsu, calm and rational manager known for how much his players like him. Or maybe liked him. They seemed to last year, though not so much this one. Clubhouse relations have appeared to deteriorate after Ken Griffey Jr, lauded clubhouse leader and great team chemistry guy, sulked about playing time and retired mid-season after being relegated to the bench role he’s deserved for half a decade. Meanwhile, Milton Bradley, notable hothead and clubhouse cancer, has been a boy scout for the last few months, even as the season went down the drain and his personal performance went in the toilet.

The labels that these guys were affixed with run counter to how they’ve acted in almost every single case. The guys whose value in the clubhouse was so highly talked about have been the ones causing problems, and now, we’re being told that a clubhouse full of veteran team leaders lacks leadership.

Blogger, reporter, radio host, in the end, we’re all pretty much equally awful at predicting anything that has to do with how baseball players will interact with each other in the future. The usual approach is to take a guy’s reputation from where he’s been and assume it will dictate his actions no matter where he goes or how time changes, but that assumption falls on its face all the time. This team was supposed to have great chemistry, in large part due to guys like Figgins and Griffey. From most accounts, that just hasn’t materialized.

Rather than trying to expand on this point, I’ll just let Jim Leyland take it away, from when he was asked about the Washington Nationals last month:

“It’s not what Pudge brings into the clubhouse,” Leyland said. “It’s what Pudge brings on to the field. He’s hitting .336! That’s the kind of production you want. [Shucks], I can find a nice bunch of guys you want in the clubhouse. I can find that. He’s producing. That’s what’s good. That’s how I look at.”

“They didn’t bring Strasburg up because he’s a nice guy,” Leyland said. “They brought him up because he’s a big talent. He has a chance to be an unbelievable pitcher and he’s won two games already.

“Take all that clubhouse [stuff] and all that, throw it out the window. Every writer in the country has been writing about that [nonsense] for years. Chemistry don’t mean [anything]. He’s up here because he’s good. That don’t mean [a hill of beans]. They got good chemistry because their team is improved, they got a real good team, they got guys knocking in runs, they got a catcher hitting .336, they got a phenom pitcher they just brought up. That’s why they’re happy.”

Jim Leyland isn’t interested in playing amateur psychologist. He’s just going to assume that winning teams are happy teams. I am too.

When the M’s start winning regularly again, I’m sure Chone Figgins and Don Wakamatsu will get along just fine. You can speculate about what it means if you want, but in the end, none of us really have any idea.


48 Responses to “The Fight”

  1. Westside guy on July 25th, 2010 9:41 pm

    I don’t know if I’d want Jim Leyland managing my baseball team – but I love the guy. He’d probably be a hoot at a party, as long as you weren’t the one he was calling [cow puckey] on.

    If you were the guy he was [repudiating], it wouldn’t be much fun – but you’d deserve it.

  2. fiftyone on July 25th, 2010 10:04 pm

    I personally receive a great deal of encouragement from confrontations taking place on the teams I support. I would be extremely disappointed if this team smiled and hugged its way to 63-99. I’d much rather watch them get dragged kicking and screaming to that dead end. That would tell me that at least some of them hate losing, and a team of .336-hitting guys who hate to lose and hate each other and can’t stand their manager sounds fantastic to me just about now.
    (I only use BA as a tribute to Leyland.)

  3. G-Man on July 25th, 2010 10:20 pm

    Losing teams fire their managers, too, even if it doesn’t make sense.

    When the idea of canning Wak was broached by some columnists after the Figgins incident, I said, please, no. But I’m starting to get used to the idea now.

  4. Catherwood on July 25th, 2010 10:29 pm

    But it doesn’t make sense to fire the manager. The manager doesn’t make a veteran like Figgins act like a complete scrotum. Figgins was wrong; Wak was right.

    The problems on this team do not stem from the manager. Sure, he’s made some pretty bone-headed decisions this season, and they may have cost the M’s one or two games, maybe. How many games has Figgins cost the M’s by hitting like my grandmother? How many games has he cost by running the bases like he’s skipping along on an easter egg hunt?

    Managers neither win nor lose. Players do that. And players should be held responsible for both the good times and the bad.

  5. Miles on July 25th, 2010 10:30 pm

    Chemistry? TNT was invented by a guy as a yellow dye. That didn’t make the big bucks until some guy came around and made dynamite out of it. Dynamite made some guy by the name of Nobel the big bucks.

    Chemistry is all well and good, but until you start blowing the crap out of things, it doesn’t mean squat.

  6. refusetolose on July 25th, 2010 10:39 pm

    chemistry does matter, anyone who has played this sport knows that. you don’t need sabremetrics for that.

    and dave, griffey’s gone, the people like you forced him out…get off his back, stop with the cheap shots. it’s classless. he’s a first ballot hall of famer. and just because he wasnt that player in 2010, or 2006, doesn’t give you the right to insult him when he’s not even on the roster.

  7. Carson on July 25th, 2010 10:50 pm

    Even Blowers totally blew it off on the post game show, citing how he’d seen far worse on flights, in the tunnel, at dinners, etc.

    It’s amazing, though, that while these baseball people can understand that frustration from losing and poor performance can cause these little fights (which they then go meh to), they refuse to disregard how important clubhouse chemistry is.

    Oh well. This will be a never ending thing we’ll deal with.

    Good to see Chone right back in the lineup the next day and producing. Not so nice to see Lopez still wandering around looking lost and not even given a day off.

  8. Snuffy on July 25th, 2010 10:52 pm


    I appreciate your loyalty but I’m fully with Dave. Griffey stayed well past his due date and it’s not a cheap shot to speak about it openly and honestly. Hopefully this will be a teachable moment for ‘Z’ and we can avoid the same mistake in the future.

  9. Sidi on July 25th, 2010 11:11 pm

    chemistry does matter, anyone who has played this sport knows that. you don’t need sabremetrics for that.

    Seriously? You’re the worst troll ever. My high school history teacher got closer to the majors than you’ve ever dreamed of. Well, he did hit AAA before his shoulder exploded, but you’re still doing a terrible job at trying to piss people off.

  10. Westside guy on July 25th, 2010 11:35 pm

    and dave, griffey’s gone, the people like you forced him out…

    So, you don’t think that the fact he was hitting .184 and “slugging” .204 had anything to do with him being benched by Wak and eventually leaving? You seriously blame the bloggers?

    What color is the sky in that world where you live?

  11. Edgar4Hall on July 26th, 2010 12:01 am

    I have to say that what Leyland and Dave is saying can be right but can also be wrong. I know that Baseball is never going to be like football, where trust and Chemistry is crucial, but I still think it is important and might have a different meaning in baseball. Put the best group together that can win but that doesnt mean always having the best players out there. Say you have a SS who hits well but does not have range with a 2B thats very similar. That is chemistry on the field that wont work because of the faulty fielding. Chemistry is important and yes it always improves when you are winning but it seems taht even when you lose, you need to have a bunch of palyers that can push the right buttons on each other to keep tthe fire going. I think that what Wak did was establish two things. One, it established that he was drawing a line and that players needed to wake up and fight and two, to spark a player who was lagging but had a fighting spirit in Figgy. In both cases I think he succeeded. If he succeeded then I think that means that he and Figgins actually have GOOD chemistry since he knows how to get under his skin and inspire him.

    I hope this makes sense. Pretty tired but I hope that a point gets through

  12. ThundaPC on July 26th, 2010 12:06 am

    Winning definitely makes people feel good. On the flip side, even winning teams can have problems when they lose.

    That inning vs. Hideki Okajima in Sunday’s Red Sox game sure was fun wasn’t it? Wonder what was going through Okajima’s mind? Apparently, everyone else is wondering too.

    Hopefully we never build another team based on happy-go-lucky good feelings. There’s just too much unpredictability involved.

  13. Xteve X on July 26th, 2010 12:08 am

    Leyland totally gets it.

    Winning breeds chemistry, not the other way around. It’s not something that can be manufactured, no matter how hard this front office tries and has been trying for years now.

  14. Jeff Nye on July 26th, 2010 12:41 am

    Actually, it was me that forced Griffey out, not Dave.

  15. Breadbaker on July 26th, 2010 12:45 am

    I guess I’d say that it’s not necessarily winning that breeds chemistry, it’s performance above expectations. The Mariners last year didn’t win that much, but they played above all three of their pre-season expectations, the team’s prior performance and their talent level. The problem with that is that it’s not sustainable without an infusion of added talent and only Cliff Lee (now gone) and Michael Saunders can be said to have exceeded expectations this year.

    You can lose 100 games and have good chemistry if you have the talent level of the 2003 Tigers and beat your expectations by 20 games. You can win 100 games and have bad chemistry if you bring George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson and a close pennant race together.

    Wak is still learning as a manager. He faced no pressure at all last year, and while there were challenges, they were “fill in this spot after X went down with injury” challenges. The best players all performed well and some (Aardsma, Branyan) overperformed. Zduriencik brought in fresh talent whenever anyone went down and Wak did a good job of keeping the balls in the air.

    This year is so different. Honestly, though, if there hadn’t been a clubhouse fight it would have been necessary to invent one. If no one had cared enough to have a confrontation, then Wak really would have lost the team.

  16. henryv on July 26th, 2010 1:07 am

    My concern with Wak is that he basically has failed this year at every part of the job of a manager.

    -He hasn’t put together good line-ups… I know, I know, you can’t make a masterpiece out of this garbage, but you can at least move Saunders up.
    -He hasn’t put the best players on the field. Any time you field Rob Johnson, that is automatically true.
    -He hasn’t managed the clubhouse strife, I think. From and outsiders perspective. But it really seems to be a clusterfark from my living room.
    -He hasn’t managed the bullpen well. (Replace Rob Johnson’s name with Sean White in point #2.)
    -His players don’t seem to be focused. I know, getting Jose Lopez to focus is a little like getting a hummingbird on crack to focus, but come on.
    -His pinch hitting (or lack there of) doesn’t make much sense.

    I mean, with the measurables, and observables, it seems like Wak is not doing so hot.

    Winning definitely makes people feel good. On the flip side, even winning teams can have problems when they lose.

    Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds, anyone? But both those guys were terrible a-holes anyways.

    I actually ran into Jeff Kent’s grandfather at a Wendys in Bellingham about a decade ago. Or at least he claimed to be. He was a very nice guy. Wonder what happened.

  17. Axtell on July 26th, 2010 1:16 am

    Gotta love the whole argument from those who say ‘you can’t talk about this, you didn’t play the game!’ argument.

    Chemistry is a myth, just like ‘clutch’. It can’t be defined because it doesn’t exist. If chemistry mattered, you’d hear more about it. You only hear about it when teams are winning, which proves that its a result of winning, not the other way around.

  18. terry on July 26th, 2010 3:31 am

    Clearly it’s Ichiro’s fault….

  19. nick.h on July 26th, 2010 5:40 am

    I don’t think that ‘clutch’ is a myth. You can start to see how players preform under pressure by looking at RISP stats, 2 out with RISP, performance late in the game when their team is down. You can actually quantify the results of ‘clutch’ even if you can’t quantify the psychological aspect of it. There is no statistic for creating a positive-or negative-atmosphere. That certainly exists… but there’s no way to quantify it.

    That said I still agree with Leyland et al. If you win you feel good about yourself and like the people that help you win.

  20. Badbadger on July 26th, 2010 6:31 am

    The idea that you can assemble a team with good chemistry from people you know only by reputation requires you assume that baseball players are inhuman, and certain ones radiate ‘veteran leadership’ the way a radioactive isotope radiates alpha particles.

    Human relationships are always context dependant. You can’t tell how two people will get along, and you really can’t tell how 25 people will get along.

  21. argh on July 26th, 2010 6:47 am

    You know the old club house saying: “If you can’t swing and hit the baseball, you can at least swing and hit your manager.”

  22. joe simpson can hit on July 26th, 2010 7:58 am

    An argument could be made that it was Griffey who showed a bit of classllessness both times he left Seattle, but who cares. Saunders and Smoak, that’s who I care about now.

  23. Mike Snow on July 26th, 2010 8:06 am

    I expect Figgins would agree about the relationship between winning and chemistry, considering his response to the question about whether he was “on the same page” as Wakamatsu.

  24. firova2 on July 26th, 2010 8:42 am

    The Griffey situation was more damaging to this team than expected. When he left, he failed to thank Wak, left the impression that it was his benching that led to his departure, and has not been available or come forward since to make it clear that Wak was not at fault. Some players seem not to have gotten over that. Figgins’s comments have been pretty defiant: no one can keep him from playing, he says. Well, Mike Scioscia kept him from playing on the Angels anymore.

    There are some issues involving management of the team I find curious. Why should there be any question in Felix’s mind as to why he is being pulled in the eighth inning? Have Wak and Adair told him in advance what is going to happen and what it overall innings goal is for this year? I appreciate Felix’s competitiveness, but if a plan is in place shouldn’t he a) know all about it and b) zip it when he’s taken out according to the plan. None of this “ask the manager” stuff when asked why he left the game.

    And why did Z sit down with both Wak and Figgins? That makes it seem like they are equals and equally at fault, when clearly Wak is in charge, he made a decision for the organization, and it should be Z talks to Wak then Z and Wak talk to Figgins? There are some wrinkles in the way the team is managing this stuff (or at least the way it has been presented to the public) that are problematic.

  25. deflated on July 26th, 2010 8:53 am

    Any time someone starts harping on the importance of chemistry I can’t help but think of the ’02 Bonds-Kent Giants. A team built around two of the most disliked players in MLB, dugout fights, it all led to game 7 of the WS.

    Chemistry is not a required ingredient for good teams. If Figgins started hitting it’ll all be fine.

  26. JMHawkins on July 26th, 2010 9:28 am

    I don’t think that ‘clutch’ is a myth. You can start to see how players preform under pressure by looking at RISP stats, 2 out with RISP, performance late in the game when their team is down. You can actually quantify the results of ‘clutch’…

    Indeed, you can, and it’s been done. The result is that “clutch” is almost totally a myth. At best, a “clutch” hitter is the equivalent of two or three points of batting average better. A .280 hitter becomes a .283 hitter in clutch situations.

    Whoo hooo!

  27. Hammy57 on July 26th, 2010 10:03 am

    There isn’t a pitcher in baseball that doesn’t want to pitch all 9 innings of their start, especially when they have a shutout going. We are just lucky that Felix isn’t an A-Hole with a me me me attitude. I’m not saying that Roy Halladay is, but Charlie Manual has tried to pull him out of games many times and he refuses. Just saying.

  28. BillyJive on July 26th, 2010 10:23 am

    Actually I can think of a few….
    Calros Silva…in some cities Sizzler closes at 9…
    Erik Bedard….he has better things to do…

    WINNING=CHEMISTRY not the other way around.

  29. nick.h on July 26th, 2010 10:35 am

    Hawkins: I’m not going to try and defend something that I myself have not researched (well I’m gonna defend it, but I will defer really easily). I understand the problem of small sample size of clutch ABs, but now with the unberness of fangraphs we should be able to look at clutch performance over years and maybe solve that aspect of the problem. It gets replaced by other problems, but still. For a single example I can think of: A-rod in his career with the bases loaded vs his career w/o bases loaded. Certainly not a piddly difference as your .003 diff would suggest.

  30. StankeyGrammasBroglio on July 26th, 2010 10:57 am

    I know you all laughed at me last month, when I gave my thoughts about the fall of the individual, manly, competitive SOB players, men with great talent and enormous focus, who don’t do well with the kindergarten, Miss Frances Ding-Dong School crap that has infected many major league teams (silly interviews, silly TV commercials, silly psychological hand-holding, bla bla). You all did not get it!! Leyland gets it. Stop with the tear-in-the-eye Wakamatsu, and his (and ownership’s) concerns about Ding-Dong School “plays well with others; shares; uses his napkin” bla bla. Just let men play ball and let them sort themselves out in the dugout. When men pull together to get things done, they do their own natural sorting out: by talent, seriousness, focus, and commitment. Whenever a feminized press gets them to start chatting about all that, then it’s lost.

  31. davepaisley on July 26th, 2010 11:18 am

    For a single example I can think of: A-rod in his career with the bases loaded vs his career w/o bases loaded. Certainly not a piddly difference as your .003 diff would suggest.

    Everybody hits better with the bases loaded, so you’re looking at a wrong definition of “clutch”.

    “Clutch”, if it exists, would show that a particular player does significantly better than the league average over a long period of time in the same “clutch” situations. There is no indication that any player has sustained it for a significant period of time.

    This is all relative to their average performance, so if a player hits better than their own average in clutch situations, it means they hit worse than their average in non-clutch situations. In other words, if they existed, does it mean they just don’t try when it doesn’t matter?

  32. Axtell on July 26th, 2010 11:20 am

    Stankey, what exactly are you talking about? You sound like a cantakerous old man telling the kids to get off his lawn.

    Feminized press? Sounds like someone has issues with women!

  33. Swungonandbelted on July 26th, 2010 11:25 am

    This team’s already a joke, but if you fire Wak this year, where do you go from there? Since Lou left after the 2002 season:

    Bo-Mel gets hired for 2003 – 2004 as a rookie manager and goes 93 – 69 in his first year, with an aging roster, and goes 63 – 99 for 2004 when that roster is over the hill and ends up getting canned.

    Mike Hargrove is brought in as a “veteran” manager for 2005 to replace the departed Bo-Mel, and he ends up going 69 – 93, 78 – 84 in 2006, and 45 – 33 in 2007 before up and quitting in the middle of the season.

    John McLaren (veteran bench coach) replaces Grover, and goes 43 – 41 to finish out the season for 2007, and comes back for 2008. He goes 25 – 47 in 2008 before he ends up getting fired mid season.

    Jim Riggleman (veteran manager)is promoted from bench coach to manager, and finishes out 2008 by going 36 – 54.

    Wak (first year rookie manager)comes in for 2009 and the team overachieves, going 85 – 77 even as the team has a run differential of -52. (only one team in 2009 has a better record with a negative differential – Detroit goes 86 – 77 with a -2, a 50 run improvement for a win percentage improvement of .003 (or 0.3%)).
    Wak returns for 2010, and with a team that collectively needs a head shrink, a group hug, and a swift kick in the ass, is facing down 100 losses.

    If you can Wak this year when the team is in a rebuilding mode (and they are), who do you bring in at this point that isn’t going to look at the job as “I have two years to make a heap of dung smell like roses or I’m out?” The M’s have had 6 managers in 8 years, and as long as the team is rebuilding, it would seem like continually firing managers may end up being counterproductive in the long run.

  34. aaron c. on July 26th, 2010 11:31 am

    Erik Bedard….he has better things to do…

    Like rehab his torn labrum? Good heavens.

  35. terry on July 26th, 2010 12:10 pm

    I don’t think that ‘clutch’ is a myth. You can start to see how players preform under pressure by looking at RISP stats, 2 out with RISP, performance late in the game when their team is down. You can actually quantify the results of ‘clutch’ even if you can’t quantify the psychological aspect of it. There is no statistic for creating a positive-or negative-atmosphere. That certainly exists… but there’s no way to quantify it.

    That said I still agree with Leyland et al. If you win you feel good about yourself and like the people that help you win.


  36. drjeff on July 26th, 2010 1:03 pm

    I actually AM a professional psychologist, and I have no idea what the fight was about. I take issue with anyone who thinks that they can analyze someone’s actions based on observing their behavior from a distance and from reading about whatever those people choose to reveal to the press.

    Even when I’m sitting in a one-on-one therapy session with someone, all I can do is take people at face value. They’re holding things back even then, and I’m not shoving a tape recorder in their face after a game.

  37. msfanmike on July 26th, 2010 1:06 pm

    I know you all laughed at me last this month, when I gave my thoughts about the fall of the individual,

    Thank you for the levity

  38. Shanfan on July 26th, 2010 1:57 pm

    Swungonandbelted, thanks for pointing out something I was going to. Bob Melvin went on to win a Manager of the Year in 2007. His problem was that we brought in a GM who couldn’t evaluate the talent he had and overpaid for the crap he brought in. Bavasi and Fontaine turned out to be the poster children for the evils of nepotism. It seems to me that the Zduriencik Era is supposed to be about building and sustaining through the minors – acquiring talented, young players and teaching them in the “new way”. (I’m hoping for something like the Twins or the old Dodgers system, which actually had a book for everyone in the organization called ‘The Dodger Way’.) Z was the great talent evaluator. 2012 was the first year we would be seeing any results from this (the last year of Z and Wak’s initial contracts). I was under the impression that Wak and his staff were hired because they’d be the kind of staff for these “new way” players. The intervening years would be filled in by cost-effective veterans, salvage yard projects, and unappreciated youngsters. That we’re not competitive this year doesn’t totally surprise me or worry me.

    What worries me about the Figgins incident is that he was the first free agent acquisition by the new regime that was supposed to be a fixture and not a fill in and he’s turned out to be whiney and mediocre in every aspect of the game. Overpaying for over-the-hill pissers is a Bavasi move. And then Z not totally backing his manager makes it even more disturbing to me. This tells me that Wak has the target on his back, maybe rightfully so, but I don’t like the idea of the players running the asylum.

    Figgins is a little weenie of a player and not appearing to be aging well. A cursory review of his splits seems to show (I’m not good at this) a player who wore down the past several seasons. We’re seeing his best months right now and he’s due to start cooling off/wearing down again. That doesn’t bode well. Chone has spent his entire career in a winning organization surrounded by talented players who could pick him up when he failed. Maybe he’s only motivated when it matters. Now he’s on a talent starved, moribund team in a dreary season and acting like an entitled jerk and blaming the manager for his own failings. Do we have another Cirillo or Spiezio on our hands? That’s what worries me – that Z is not a genius, due diligence can’t ever predict which players will suck as soon as they get their fat payday, or that Seattle is ever doomed by the baseball gods (what’s Justin Smoaks BA since coming to Seattle?). There is a reason the Angels didn’t resign him after all. At least he’s stayed healthy and been available, but he’s not been worth his salary and appears to be less than team oriented.

    So much for the process, and so much for ridding this team of the poison from 2008. Maybe Chone’s best bet is to be traded to a contender and let him finish out his career like Kenny Lofton, bouncing from team to team looking for that missing piece at the top of the line-up but never being a keystone like in his younger days when he actually was an all-star.

  39. Dave on July 26th, 2010 2:18 pm

    Four paragraphs of flimsy judgementalism. Yay, internet commenting.

  40. Shanfan on July 26th, 2010 2:41 pm

    Well, I did go to Fangraphs and look at his monthly splits. And in the splits there’s also a “high-leverage” situation split – which Chone seems to excel at – and makes me wonder if this is anything like the “clutch” argument that people say doesn’t exist. What exactly is this? Why is it there if it doesn’t matter? That brought on the motivation comment. And I’m not the only one judging Bavasi and Fontaine as sucking. I’ll try to sound less judgmental next time and more ‘just depressed’ and wondering what happened, which is where this incident has left me – one of the more optimistic fans out there usually. You know, the kind who is still tuning in to the games and reading the blogs.

  41. JMHawkins on July 26th, 2010 2:43 pm

    you can Wak this year when the team is in a rebuilding mode (and they are), who do you bring in at this point that isn’t going to look at the job as “I have two years to make a heap of dung smell like roses or I’m out?”

    Well, I think what you (meaning the GM) ought to do is sit the manager down and say, basically:

    “Filling the roster with good talent is my job. Making the absolute best use of that talent on a day-to-day basis is your job. It’s my fault if you don’t have great hitters. It’s your fault if the worst hitter in the lineup is batting cleanup every night. I inherited a busted roster and it may take me months to fix the problems, and that’s not your fault. But you start with a clean slate and get a chance to correct your mistakes every single night. It is your fault if you don’t do that.”

    That’s my beef with Wak. I know he doesn’t have much to work with, but it also doesn’t seem like he does much to optimize what he has.

  42. JMHawkins on July 26th, 2010 3:16 pm

    For a single example I can think of: A-rod in his career with the bases loaded vs his career w/o bases loaded. Certainly not a piddly difference as your .003 diff would suggest.

    Okay, using fangraphs, we look at A-Rods wOBA splits for low, medium, and high leverage situations. Now this isn’t the same as bases loaded, but it’s a better split for “clutch” since leverage indicates how important the PA is to the outcome of the game. After all, hitting a Grand Slam in the top of the ninth when you’re already up by 5 with Mariano Rivera coming in is hardly “clutch.”

    Low-leverage: .421
    High-leverage: .418

    So the difference between High and Low leverage over A-Rod’s career shows this consumate “choker” takes a -.003 wOBA hit in clutch situations. (What was that number I mentioned in my first post?)

    But wait! If you look at his career wOBA, you may notice something odd. It’s .410. How can his career wOBA be lower than both the high and low-leverage wOBA?

    Because I left out medium-leverage PAs. The full set is:

    Low-leverage: .421
    Medium-leverage: .406
    high-leverage: .418

    Dude just goes to sleep in situations where the game sort-of matters, but lights it up in both blow outs and close games?

    He’s had a little over 500 high-leverage PAs since 2002, when Fangraphs starts the reporting on this stuff. The difference bewteen .410 and .418 wOBA over 500 PAs is well within the margin of random fluctuation.

    And if you want to use your original stat, bases loaded, it’s worse. In his entire career, A-Rod has had 250 PAs with the bases loaded.

    The basic problem with “clutch” is that the true number of clutch situtaions is small compared to everything else and you’re basically doomed to small sample size obstacles. A-Rod (dont’ forget to wish him a happy birthday tomorrow, BTW) is in his 17th season, 15 of them as an every-day starter. Only after that many games has he accumulated enough PAs in clutch situations to start edging out of the SSS problem, and – guess what? His clutch and non-clutch stats are within spitting distance of one another.

  43. Jeff Nye on July 26th, 2010 4:33 pm

    I am not going to touch most of Shanfan’s screed because I think it adequately mocks itself, but I will say this:

    Bob Fontaine is one of the nicest, classiest guys in baseball, and you’re an enormous jerk for taking a cheap shot at him.

  44. refusetolose on July 26th, 2010 9:17 pm

    Sidi: I currently play baseball in college–so how do you know I’m not going to the majors?

    And you’re high school teacher sounds like a great guy, ask him how teams he played on or played against performed when everyone hated each other and played for themselves?

    Then tell me team chemistry doesn’t matter.

  45. wanderinginsodo on July 26th, 2010 9:24 pm

    I appreciate what “DrJeff” says, no, we don’t know all the details because our window for viewing is so small. The press might act like they are given the right to make judgments from their observations, and to some degree, they are. Most of the press is well educated, have worked hard and they follow a code of conduct. What makes me love this blog is that it could produce biased crap like some of these comments, but Dave and the crew keep it smart and stream lined.

    Back to ‘The Fight’ and my non-statistically based opinion… I still believe a character of a person is determined on how they respond to difficult situations. As a fan, Figgins comes off as self loathing and spoiled. No, we in Seattle don’t want to talk about what Figgins did with the Angels. We want to talk about the here and now, and we pay our hard worked money to watch these guys play for millions, so if they’re going to be losers, at least please be lovable losers.

  46. Shanfan on July 26th, 2010 9:36 pm

    I never said Fontaine was not a decent or nice or classy man. What I implied was that he and Bavasi’s careers are based on what their fathers did, whom I worked around. I’m sure George W. Bush was a nice guy and one would enjoy having a beer with him, but W. was not the performer his father was – and that’s not saying much. The results speak for themselves. During their five-year era with the M’s they produced four last place teams. The organization is in shambles and bereft of talent. There’s still a chance that some of Fontaine’s drafted or developed players may contribute in a big way and I will eat my words. Maybe he was brilliant and Bavasi hamstrung him too. If you want to defend their tenure, go ahead. You don’t have to defend his personality or integrity because I never said anything bad about the man, only the results of his performance (and how they were granted their careers). That seems to be the point of this site, right? If Pat Gillick, Jr. or Jack Zduriencik, Jr. ever get a job with this club and the results of their performance suck I will say so, whether they are nice guys or not. And if calling out players for their performance – while acknowledging that they are nice guys – is not a cheap shot, why call me out? This site is overloaded with that. And it’s loaded with people taking shots at Figgins but somehow I’m the bad guy. Bob Fontaine, Junior is one of the nicest, classiest guys in baseball who was let go for poor results.

  47. Jeff Nye on July 26th, 2010 9:45 pm

    You said that Bob Fontaine only got his job due to nepotism. That’s a cheap shot, and while I don’t agree with all of his draft decisions, he had a significant track record of success, particularly at finding value in later rounds.

  48. Adam S on July 27th, 2010 6:25 am

    And you’re (sic) high school teacher sounds like a great guy, ask him how teams he played on or played against performed when everyone hated each other and played for themselves?

    Then tell me team chemistry doesn’t matter.

    I think this is the exact logical fallacy that leads people to conclude that chemistry matters in major league baseball. In low levels like rec leagues, high school, and maybe low minors chemistry probably matters. Teams full of players that don’t want to be there and can’t wait to get the season over obviously aren’t playing their best ball. And when baseball is a hobby not really a job, it’s easy to not care. In my rec softball league we always see tons of upsets in the playoffs — the lower seeded teams having fun and being loose take advantage of higher seeded teams that are pressing (that’s not quite chemistry but it’s close).

    But that chemistry/togetherness matters for amateur players, if we assume it does, doesn’t prove or even imply that it matters for the professionals at the highest level. Is Chone Figgins tanking intentionally because he doesn’t like Ichiro or Wak? Did Jose Lopez take extra BP and infield last year when he “loved” his teammates?

    As important, there’s good history of bad chemistry teams winning. The Yankees of the 70s seemed to always be fighting. The Red Sox were known for “25 guys, 25 cabs”.

    Lastly this “chemistry” thing doesn’t seem to be something you can import or even carry over. Last year Sweeney and Griffey were lauded for the chemistry they built in the clubhouse. In fact that was a key reason to bring them back. Same guys, same clubhouse, no chemistry.

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