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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Comments

Mea culpa on the "handedness" of Dunn.

Back to the drawing board (or game board) (blecch).

Congrats to Vic. He's definitely a better CF than the last Phillies CF to win an award.

JW: Actually the more sabr oriented fielding guys voted Rollins the best as well, by a wide margin.

Brian G: That would confirm what I've long suspected: That there's no consistent way to statistically evaluate fielding. Rollins has been basically the same defender his entire career. I stopped looking at fielding books a few years ago when Rollins was ranked 8th or something in the league.

What about Utley...according to the Plus/Minus system he was far and away the best 2nd baseman in baseball this year. Our MVP at the plate and in the field gets overlooked again!

JW: I've always thought he was rock solid but wasn't blown away by his range, whereas this year he improved in that department in my eyes. Who knows if my perception was correct, but prior to hearing that his sabr numbers were better that's still how I felt.

Ryan: And I actually thought Utley wasn't as good as he's been in the past(until the playoffs when he was out of his mind), but did see his plus/minus numbers were through the roof, so who knows...

Ryan, our boy Utley has worked very hard at his defense and hardly resembles where he was a few seasons ago - that said, he is a lot of things - a gold glove 2nd basemen is not one of them.

Utley definitely has the tools to be a Gold Glove second baseman. He surely makes as many spectacular plays as just about any second baseman in baseball. However, he also has a tendency to muff too many easy plays, and his throwing arm is not the surest.

JMARR - Agreed. Utley is an average/above average 2nd but not a Gold Glove. Strong arm and turns a decent pivot on a double play (one thing he has really improved since he first came up) but his lateral range isn't great.

Still no complaints largely about Utley in the field except that he tends to start out the season very slowly defensively in April.

Still surprised that Vic won the Glove Glove in CF. Rowand didn't have the range of Vic (due to Vic's incredible speed) but he positioned himself better and took better routes to the ball.

Vic's blazing speed makes him have incredible range and enables him to get away with playing so shallow at times or taking a bad route on the ball. I wonder if Vic loses a slight step in 2 or 3 years (and you usually do at 30 or so) that he will have such incredible range.

Its funny. I genearlly think most Philly fans were down on JRoll this year because of his attitudes issues at times and his falloff in power numbers yet he became a more selective hitter this year at the plate by walking more (and upping his OBP) and winning a Gold Glove.

Secretly, I bet that Bowa is smiling because JRoll had the season that Bowa wanted out of JRoll during his tenure - a Gold Glove caliber fielder who steals bases with a very high success rate and is willing to trade away some fly balls/power to get on base a bit more.

Jimmy more than deserved his 2nd (Should be his 4th...thanks Omar Vizquel) Gold Glove. I'm not too sure about Vic but what the hell, its been one of those special years for the CF. I'm guessing he's in for a substantial raise with all this thrown in.

The David Wright one is along the lines of Jeter's GGs or Bobby Abreu's. It was a total WTF?!? moment when I saw that. I thought Glaus would walk away with it but what do I know?

On Utley: Utley is a better 2B defensively this year than Jeter was a defensive SS in his GG seasons. Jeter winning proves that anything is possible. It was one of those "Wow he sucked for so long and is now average...lets reward that jump from crappy to average." At least Chase is an above average defender at his position who is capable of the occasional spectacular play.

Several posters in prior thread (bonehead, mpn, lefty) have said the Phillies owe no more money to Thome. According to Cot's contracts, that is false. I've yet to catch them in a mistake but if someone can find something that shows they're wrong I'd like to see the link. Cot's says the Phillies owe half his contract for 09 or half the buyout.

Cots is usually pretty accurate. I'm guessing they are correct in this case. There was originally a club option for 09 for $14 million or a $3 million buyout. I would guess they came to some agreement on that option year when they traded him...if we are on the hook...FVCK!

I have no way of evaluating the worth of these awards because you'd think visual evidence of day-to-day play is required. Utley was great this year, but I know Phillips only from his web gems (which were spectacular.)

I wonder how the voters decide?

Sorry...its a $13 million option that vested and we owe somewhere between $3-5.5 million. Wow, that Rowand was sure worth it.


Speaking of defensive prowess, this might be a bit far-fetched, but how about getting Orlando Hudson for 2nd base and moving Chase to LF? Hudson is sick with the glove and would be a very good on-base% 2-hole batter capable of dropping 20 HRs

Gotta love some sportswriters. Do they just make s**t up?


Check out the link on this page for mlbtraderunours.com


The front page offers a synopsis of an article in the San Jose Mercury News:

"Here's a new one: Baggarly's heard the Phillies will listen to offers for shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Rollins is owed just $23.5MM over the next three seasons."

re: Thome. Phils paid $22M to the Sox when he was traded, which Cot's says is about half of his salary plus the buy-out.

From 06-08 Thome's contracted total salary was $40.5M. His 09 salary would be $13 or a $3M buy-out. So you could say the Phils still owe Thome $3M. Or you could say they still owe him ~$11M. Or you could say they already paid him when they traded him. Not sure how the lump sum is cut.

Marcus Hayes & I had some angry e-mails after he stated on DNL Live that Rowand is a far superior CF than Victorino. He was so adament that he told me he speaks to GM's & MLB team executives & they agree w/ him. I asked "How about in 2 years when he gains more experience in CF" His answer "Nope".
Congrads Shane-i used to curse you when you used to swing for the fences but you proved me wrong.

sophist: It is allocated over the life of the contract.

Funny post from BP.com. They ask, what's you team's design? One answer for the Phils:

Phillies: ensure continued revenue expansion by signing a "name" player, eg Manny/Burnett. Pursue positive equity through trade of Howard (Steinbrenner is crazy)

What will really happen: give out arb raises, make token effort to pursue big RH bat, settle for Juan Rivera, try and convince fans team is improved

But Cholly said that Werth was our starting CF. I doubt even his dog believed that one.

clout: This is what Cot's says: "acquired by White Sox in trade from Philadelphia 11/05, with Phillies paying $22M to White Sox in deal (about half of remaining salaries & buyout)." No where on that link does it say half of this year's salary. The $22 million figure is INCLUSIVE of the buyout for this year. Now, this might not be correct, but Cot's does not say what you claim they say.

MPN: That's exactly what it says. The Phillies pay "half of REMAINING salaries and buyout." 2009 is a remaining salary or buyout.

In any event, to say they aren't paying for Thome's salary this year is false.

The beauty of the Vic thing is that he now has a year's worth of experience in CF and maybe a bit more confidence (not that he ever lacked that). Maybe command is a better analogy, knowing that he is Da Man in center. His routes can only get better. It won't last forever, but Ruiz, Utley, J-Roll, Vic is not bad up the middle defense.

KoolEarl, I imagine others have various opinions about moving Utley to LF, but I'm not seeing how his arm would translate to that required of an outfielder. He has sort of a weird, quick throw that certainly works for 2B, but his arm just doesn't seem to have that same natural power and strength to it that Rollins and even Feliz have.

Jimmy and Shane definitely deserved these. I thought Utley might have deserved the GG at 2nd as well. One of the unheralded aspects of this team was just how good it was defensively. Shane, Werth, Utley, Rollins, Feliz and Ruiz all are above-average defenders for their positions. Only Burrell and Howard among the regulars rate as negatives on defense, and they sure make up for it with their bats. Defense really does make a difference...

As to the poster who compared Wright's GG to Jeter and Abreu. Not even close. Jeter and Abreu are, at least these days, among the worst defensively at their position. I would rate Wright as one of the top 3 or 4 defensively in the NL at 3rd base. Without looking at any numbers or ratings, I would have to put Zimmerman at the top of the list for defensive 3rd basemen. He amazes me with the glove every time I watch the Nats.

Congrats to J-Roll and Victorino. They both really earned it. Even when J-Roll was struggling at the plate his fielding was always top notch. It was really fun to watch both of them play. This proves that you need strong defense up the middle to win championships.

As far as Utley goes he is definitely above average and I wouldn't argue with him getting a gold glove. He might not be the most gifted fielder like J-Roll, but he gets an incredible amount out of his natural abilities. He had a streak of web gems this year and all you had to do was watch baseball tonight to see proof. I am not going to argue with Phillips as the winner though. He is spectacular. Anyone remember the catch he made at CBP when Vozquez blanked the Phillies and Myers had a no hitter going into the 7th? I believe that was Jimmy Rollins bobblehead night, but could be wrong.

Can any team top Ruiz, Rollins, Utley and Victorino for defense up the middle? Add the very capable efforts and Feliz and Werth, Burrell, who at least threw some runners out and didn't make many mistakes (I'll ignore Howard although he did even out some of his bloopers with some great plays), and you have a pretty damn good team defense there. That's what makes champions and pitchers like Jamie Moyer a 16 game winner.

Also, defense is all about intangibles so there is no way stats can rank fielders except for errors.

clout: Hold on it says "about half" which isn't half.

This is the full entry, so unless I am seeing something you aren't please let me know:

Jim Thome dh
6 years/$85M (2003-08), plus 2009 club option

* 6 years/$85M (2003-08), plus 2009 club option
o signed by Philadelphia as a free agent 12/02
o $10M signing bonus (paid in 4 installments, 2003-06)
o 03:$9.5M, 04:$10.5M, 05:$11.5M, 06:$12.5M, 07:$14M, 08:$14M, 09:$13M club option ($3M buyout)
o 2009 option guaranteed with 600 PAs in 2007 or 1,100 PAs in 2007-08 (vested 2008)
o award bonuses: $0.1M for MVP ($75,000 for 2nd, $50,000 for 3rd), $0.1M for WS MVP, $50,000 each for Silver, Slugger, Gold Glove, LCS MVP or All Star selection
o no-trade clause (waived 11/05)
o acquired by White Sox in trade from Philadelphia 11/05, with Phillies paying $22M to White Sox in deal (about half of remaining salaries & buyout)
* 3 years/$21M (1999-2001), plus 2002 club option (Cleveland)
o $3.5M signing bonus
o 99:$7M, 00:$7M, 01:$7M, 02:$7.5M club option
o performance bonus for MVP: $0.5M for 1st or 2nd place, $0.4M for 3rd or 4th, $0.3M for 5th or 6th, $0.2M for 7th-15th
o club exercised $7.5M 2002 option 2001
* 4 years (1994-97), plus 1998 club option
o signed extension with Cleveland 3/1994
* 1 year/$0.135M (1993) (Cleveland)
* drafted by Cleveland 1989 (13-331) (Illinois Central College)
* agent: Pat Rooney
* ML service: 15.042

Furthermore it says "about half of remaining contract" at the time of the trade. This info on Cot's may not be accurate, but unless there is some Straussian reading to Cot's that I am not aware of, I think you overstretch the evidence for you position on this one.

You know, since it's the offseason and there's nothing better to talk about, I'm just gonna comment on a prediction I made last offseason. People may remember that I and some other posters, namely Clout, were involved in a lengthy discussion on the importance of defense. I argued that the addition of Feliz, along with replacing Rowand/Vic with Vic/Werth in CF/RF, would make the Phillies a significantly better defensive team, and that this would be reflected in the Team ERA. I believe I predicted that the Phillies Team ERA would drop around half a run. How did it turn out?

2007 ERA: 4.77
2008 ERA: 3.88

Now, certainly it is difficult to tell what is better pitching and what is better defense. But I don't think it's going too far out on a limb to say that better defense = less runs scored. On the occasion of the Gold Gloves being deservedly won by Jimmy and Shane, we ought to keep the importance of defense in mind going forward.

Funny thing. So I'm watching the parade again on Comcast On Demand (yeah I have nothing else to do and all 330 minutes of it are On Demand) and Larry Christianson noted that Tug McGraw won the world series and was number 45. This year we saw Brad Lidge win it and he was number 54.

80 compared to 08
45 compared to 54

Baseball works in weird ways. I think that's one of the reasons there is so much fascination with the game. There's too much full circle stuff like that to be coincidence.

Jack: Yeah right on. I believe I felt the wrath of Clout in my assessment of how Feliz would be a good pick up and defense was important.

I don't think its totally weird that defensive stats fluctuate from year to year. Offensive stats do so as well, and they have much bigger sample sizes.

Except for the first 3 weeks of the season where the Phils played some brutal defense (especially in the infield), the Phils were generally a pretty solid defense ball club last year especially up the middle as several posters have stated with 2 Gold Gloves.

Funny thing but this team did gradually improve defensively during Gillick's tenure. Now with Burrell's likely departure, this team will likely even be better defensively (even if they don't get anywhere nearly replacing his bat).

It's great that Rollins is finally getting recognition for his prowess on defense. One of Jimmy's best attributes as a player is that he is a very consistent defender. No matter how he looks at the plate J-Roll always brings his glove. Jimmy and Chase turning the double play is one of the great pleasures of watching this team. I can also say that I have never seen a player that saved so many runs keeping the ball in the infield when a hit to the outfield would have scored a run.

It's impossible to know, but anecdotally, I thought Jroll just seemed more on defensively this season than in seasons past.

Jack - Trying to sneak in some back-door support for Feliz. Their were several reasons why the Team ERA was nearly a run lower but the main factors were:

- A staff that had a higher K/9 this season (6.71 in '08 vs. 6.48 in '07)

- An improved K/BB ration this season
(2.03 in '08 vs. 1.88 in '07)

- Most importantly a dramatically reduced HR/9
(0.99 vs.'08 vs. 1.23 in '07)

Defense didn't have anything to do with those stats.

The reason why this team's pitching staff is unlikely to be quite as good next year is the HR/9 number. It actually was higher earlier in the season because Myers was giving up HRs by the truckload and Hamels gives up his share too.

Anyone else see the Jimmy Rollins on the trading block rumor? I'd hate to see him go.

Now, I know this will never happen, but in regard to our LF situation: we are looking for someone on a relatively short contract (fingers-crossed Michael Taylor), who won't break the bank but will put up some solid numbers. Barry Bonds. Who cares if he's lefty, he hits lefties like Ryan Howard hits high school pitching. This is Philly though and Bonds' act certainly won't fly with the fans (the first time he jogs to first) and I have a strong feeling the clubhouse won't take his sh*t either. Still, statistically he'd be perfect for us. Hell, statistically he'd be perfect for any lineup.

Carson. I saw it.

The Phillies will apparently "listen to offers", which is not the same as actually shopping him.

The first question that comes to mind:

Is said rumor true?

I have a hard time believing it is, though stranger things have happened.

Maybe they grew tired of his antics last season, or he's asked for an extension at a ridiculous price. Who knows?


In all seriousness though, in theory every player is on the block in the offseason if the team can be improved by moving that player, so it makes sense to "listen to offers" for all of them, even if you have no intention of trading them.


I spoke to a cousin of mine in NY last night who's a Met fan (he offered his congratulations), and we were discussing various players on both squads.

He would trade David Wright straight up for Utley - such is the respect for Chase in the Big Apple.

The other thing he told me is how well respected Vic is in NY. He's love to see Vic in RF at Citi Field.

Also, he told me that there were rumors the Yankees might be making an inquiry about Vic.

Makes sense - Vic a better OF than anyone the Yankees have.

I've also heard reports that the Phils are done paying Jim Thome. Cot's isn't totally clear on that. I think the last payment was last year, unless it was the last "full payment" and they still owe bonus money or something.

Rowand "took better routes to the ball" than Victorino. Utter nonsense. Victorino is the superior fielder in every respect and Rowand's equal in daring and courage. As for the offensive side, Victorino puts far more pressure on the opposition in numerous ways and will outhit Rowand in every department except power. Rowand was a great clubhouse presence by all accounts but Victorino's infectious good humor and energy and highly valued by his teammates as well.

"and highly valued"

make that "ARE highly valued...".

MPN: How is 2009 not part of "his remaining contract"?

Makes sense - Vic a better OF than anyone the Yankees have.

what? defensively, sure, but Damon & Abreu both posted OPS+ over 120.

Jack: So J-Roll's defense was so much better that it caused a drop of nearly a full run in ERA even though he missed a month with injury?

Or is it possible that the Phillies had better pitchers and the holdovers pitched better than last season?

Logic and my own eyes say the latter is the truth.

To believe the drop of a full run in ERA was caused by defense you have to believe that:
1. Vic is head and shoulders better than Rowand in CF
2. That Jenkins/Werth are head and shoulders better than Vic in RF
3. That Rollins was a mediocre defensive SS in 2007.
4. That Howard was much better defensively this season than 2007.
5. That Pedro Feliz is God with the glove (and I know that's an opinion held by 99% of posters here) and way better than Nunez.
6. That Utley was way better with the glove this year than last even though his FA was identical and his RF and ZR (bogus stats that they are) were virtually unchanged.

Of course, some people believe anything.

Dave X: What are these mysterious "defensive stats" that fluctuate from year to year?

As much as I like Vic, his trade value has spiked up over the last few months. And, some big budget teams need CF/OF.

I also think that there is not a whole lot more upside to his game.

I would listen seriously to potential trade offers.

who plays CF if you trade Victorino? that's absurd.

Because the buyout is the only portion of the $22 million total figure the Phillies are responsible for according to Cot's.

Re Thome's contract: The trade agreement was for the Phils to include $22M with the trade. That amount happens to approximate one half of Thome's 2006 salary, plus one half of his 2007 salary, plus one half of his 2008 salary, plus the $3M buyout.
We can debate how much of that the Phils should (artificially) attribute to 2009, but its not worth debate.
If we insist, however, $3M would be a fair amount to (artificially) allocate to 2009.

"To believe the drop of a full run in ERA was caused by defense you have to believe that:
1. Vic is head and shoulders better than Rowand in CF
2. That Jenkins/Werth are head and shoulders better than Vic in RF
3. That Rollins was a mediocre defensive SS in 2007.
4. That Howard was much better defensively this season than 2007.
5. That Pedro Feliz is God with the glove (and I know that's an opinion held by 99% of posters here) and way better than Nunez.
6. That Utley was way better with the glove this year than last even though his FA was identical and his RF and ZR (bogus stats that they are) were virtually unchanged."

I'll respond, in spite of your strawman premise. No one was arguing that the drop of a full run of ERA was caused by solely by defense.

1. Vic > Rowand. Rowand gets good jumps consistently, Vic sometimes gets a bad one but makes up for it on some balls with his speed and has a much stronger, accurate arm.
2. No, but they aren't much worse.
3. My observation with Rollins in 2007 was that he had trouble making plays to his right -- that he was circling the ball and in some cases couldn't get the throw off in time. I wonder if he had a little shoulder problem and tried to position his body to be more square to first. I looked for that in 2008 and didn't observe it.
4. Howard made some really good plays this year; I can hardly remember any in the past. Of course, he made a lot of egregious plays. I think overall he was a little better in 2008.
5. Feliz is not a God but he is a minor fielding deity. Better than Nunez, nearly infinitely better than Helms (whom you conveniently failed to mention). He has solid range, terrific hands and is nearly flawless in delivering the ball to 2B or 1B.
6. Utley was slightly down in 2008 from 2007 but not much.

Also, Ruiz made a few more nice plays at the plate and Coste does what he can. There were no Barajasian pooosy* plays in 2008.

* Using the James Bond pronunciation from Goldfinger.

Burrell was Burrell, a solid defensive OF in all aspects except his mind-numbing "speed".

Overall, an improved defense. A quarter to half-point in ERA seems reasonable at a gut level.

Bonehead: But I think the buyout is factored into the $22 million figure. I am not sure how the information on Cot's can be read in any other way.

Rumors are rumors but this is strange from the San Jose Mercury News: "Another Phillie name with local ties: Alameda’s Jimmy Rollins. There have been rumors that Philadelphia will listen to offers for the 2007 MVP. Even if true, the price would be prohibitively high. He’d look great in a Giants uniform, but I don’t see him being a realistic target for them."

I always thought that when we had Vic, Rowand and Bourn that Rowand was the third best CFer on the team.

Utley does seem to improve his defense as his career progresses. Feliz was better than Helms and Dobbs. Ruiz is better than Barajas. There was some improvement.

Edmundo: Well go with your gut, but reality suggests otherwise.

MPN: It is you who is misreading Cot's. I think this is pretty straightforward:

"acquired by White Sox in trade from Philadelphia 11/05, with Phillies paying $22M to White Sox in deal (about half of remaining salaries & buyout)"

Please explain how 2009 doesn't count as a remaining salary and thus the $22m is allocated to all prior salaries but not to 2009?

Ribbies: I'm guessing Ruben would at least consider an offer that included a young RH power hitter to replace Burrell and then cross his fingers that Donald can play major league SS. I don't think he can, defensively.

Because the option for 2009 was not half of remaining salary at the time of the trade and the buyout is factored into the $22 million figure. In 2008, Cot's said that the Phillies paid "2008 payroll obligations for former players: * $7,000,000 (est.) (Jim Thome)". So if you assume that the Phillies paid $7 million in 2006, 2007, and 2008 that is $21 million. So, maybe you are right, maybe we owe Jim Thome $1 million dollars this year.

on thome, tim dierkes at mlbtraderumors had this to say:

"I have seen suggestions that the Phillies owe $3MM for Thome, but I believe that's an error since his option vested."

not sure if they owe it or not, but it certainly seems like the contract that wouldn't die at this point.

ae: Werth.
And, the trade would not be made, obviously, without a requisite amount of talent in return. The trade would not be made if that talent does not more than make up for the slight drop off Werth in CF vs Vic in CF.

So, clout, I'm not sure where you stand. 2008 defense had nothing to do with the improved ERA? Is that YOUR gut tells you?

Todd Zolecki's column has a good salary analysis- Might help clear up some questions.

clout - the remaining contract was $40.5 MM for the three "for sure" years, plus either $3MM (buyout) or $13MM (for option). The Phils agreeed to a hard $22MM, which is just about one half of the "buy-out" total of $43.5 MM. If the option is tendered, they do not owe any more than the $22 MM originally offered.

Whether they owe anything on the contract in 2009 depends on how much of the $22 MM has already been sent to Chicago. If it has all been paid, then they owe nothing. If, say, $19 MM has been sent, they owe $3MM.

My guess is that they've paid the full amount by now.

If the Giants want Rollins, perhaps they should start their offer with Lincecum AND Cain AND be prepared to take on Adam Eaton's full salary.

"but unless there is some Straussian reading to Cot's that I am not aware of, I think you overstretch the evidence for you position on this one."

MPN, that's great! Leo Strauss and clout, the two kings of willful misunderstanding.

FWIW, I agree with your reading, though it is admittedly vague. The way I see it, the Phillies have already paid the $22M, and so therefore don't pay the Sox a dime this year.

Therefore, Thome isn't on the books for 2009, which is the point.

Just dug this up:

From February and Zolecki:

"The Phillies will play $6 million of Thome's contract with the Chicago White Sox this season. (They pay him $3 million next year, too.)"

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/phillies_zone/A_Record_Payroll.html

So maybe clout is on to something, but I'll wait until I see the 2009 payroll figures before saying anything else.

Strauss is still wrong on Plato though!

Edmundo: Improved pitching is what caused the improved pitching this season. Defense was a factor, but a minor one. To think defense accounted for a half run drop is laughable.

As a meta point, it's been fun reading how posters parse the language of Cot's, like it's Scalia taking apart the language to the Second Amendment.

For the Thome money - I wish Cot's said how much they paid in '06-'08 so you could know how much of the 22mil is already taken care of.

I'm pretty sure we paid the 22mil in those 3 years, meaning we'd be free in 2009, but nothing to back that up. I thought we we paid 7 mil the first year, so if the next two were at 7.5, there's your 22 right there, emaning we'd b free in 09.

Congrats to Vic! The good guys just keep on winning these days, don't they!

kdon: Well, I mean no disrespect to clout. This year I really found a new appreciation for him. Sure he's willful and can be a pain in the ass, but he's our willful pain in the ass and he never gets too high or too low, like say, RK or Carson.

Shaneomac runs circles around Rowand. Roawnd might have more of the fundamentals, but vic's arm strength and speed make so many more plays possible than Rowand can.

How many times did we watch Rowand airmail his relay throws by throwing his lollipop rainbows to home? he was a great pickup, but we've done much better without(ahem, ws champs)

clout, a half a run in defensive savings is too much, after all that's 81 runs. The Phils were not a horrible defensive team in '07.
Tampa Bay would be an interesting analysis. They had problems with Delmon Young and SS and 2B in '07 and replaced them with Upton, Bartlett and Iwamura. Those are huge upgrades. Longoria is supposed to be better at 3B than Iwamura was but I didn't see Iwamura play 3B.

Yo, new thread.

As I was the one who started this, let me comment here.

I have no doubt that better pitching contributed mostly to the drop in team ERA. Most of this came from more innings of a better Hamels, an unlikely great season from Moyer, and a better performance from the bullpen. However, Moyer there is certainly reliant somewhat on defense. His Fielding Independent ERA (measuring expected ERA based on what the pitcher can control), was 4.30, meaning he was 0.61 runs better than expected based mostly on defense and luck. Interestingly, Hamels had the exact same difference between his FIP ERA and his real ERA: 0.61. Not sure what this means, but it's interesting, and I suspect it has at least something to do with a good defense behind them.

All I'm saying is that it's hard to argue we weren't a better defensive team this year, and that it's likely that had something to do with the better pitching.

The other major contributor was a drop in HR rates by the pitching staff. What do people think about this? Was this a fluke, better pitching, Ballpark factor (maybe CBP is less a home run park than it used to be?)?

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