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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Comments

Jack - According to fangraphs, Howard's 2009 season was worth $22M. He'll make $20M in 2011, 2012, and 2013. It's 2014, 2015, and 2016 that they'll be paying him $25M (which was his theoretical win value in 2006). But by that time, and even now, win values will be different. And this all assumes that Howard's actual value to the Phillies franchise matches his theoretical win value. That's something to discuss and would be very interesting.

mike - re decline. What's cited: BB%, HR/FB, SLG, ISO, BABIP, production against the fastball, swinging strike %.

Phils really need Blanton to come back strong. The Phils are first in the division, and could/should be better, and that's with a severely depleted lineup (just look at what happened last night with the every other inning rallies) and without 2 SP (which has forced them to use Kendrick and the backend of the pen more than they should have to).

Is that an Eric Gagne shoulder? What we all wouldn't give to at least have his velocity at the back end of the bullpen.

Howard is worth more to the Phillies than to any other franchise in baseball. You have to toss in his star power, history as a WS winner and the merchandizing they get out of him for any argument of his true value.

Its one of those situations (like Jeter in NY or even Griffey in SEA) that is more than just an "on the field" financial decision. The marketing the Phillies get out of the deal will likely make up for any failure when it comes to his Win Values.

The Phils definitely place more of an emphasis on his ability to carry the team for stretches than the "stat-heads" do. Charlie constantly refers to the value of "the big piece", and the Phils see value in his clutch hitting that most analysts don't.

I think NEPP is right that Howard is more valuable to the Phils than he would be to any other team, which is like the oppo hometown discount...but the Phils very clearly see him as the cornerstone of the franchise and wanted to treat him as such. I can argue that all day long, but I don't make these decisions.

Everyone keeps talking about the 'marketing value' of Howard and I just don't know how much that it is true in '14 and '15 if this team is average/below average & Howard's production has really dipped.

Attendance started to notably decline in Schmidt's later years simply because the team wasn't any good after '86.

And Fat Joe is desperately needed...Right now this team looks like it can't win unless Halladay shuts down the opposing lineup for 8 or 9.

Not to be one of those people picking at an old issue, but this team sure looks like it could use another high-quality SP, even after Blanton returns...

jhs: Teixeira's younger than Howard and he signed that deal about a year and a half ago. Plus he started life as a 3B and is generally considered more athletic than Howard, and thus more likely to maintain his production.

Clout: What exactly have you read that says SLG% is more important than OBP? Because everything I've seen says the opposite. It's one of the chief criticisms of OPS, that it weights the more valuable stat OBP equal to (less even considering the different denominators) than SLG%? Love to read your source on that one.

Clout: Everyone values OBP more than SLG, and rightfully so. Here's a simple thought exercise for you, which will explain why a stat like OPS is flawed because it weights OBP and SLG equally:

An OBP of 1.000 means a team would score an infinite amount of runs. A SLG of 1.000 could be a solo home run followed by 3 strikeouts. Team A quite clearly is better off than Team B. Now, obviously they're on different scales (a perfect SLG is actually 4.000), but that's the point. Every additional point of OBP is thus relatively more valuable than a point of SLG.

Every statistical formula attempting to improve on OPS weights OBP more than SLG. You can find any number of them using this crazy "Google" machine, if you'd so like. One stat, wOBA (which like OPS attempts to value a player's full offensive value), created by Fangraphs, has Utley's .397/.508 line as a .402 wOBA, while Howard's .360/.571 as a .393 wOBA. This is because a marginal point of OBP is worth more than a marginal point of SLG.

Does this make sense to you or is it blowing your mind?

****Attendance started to notably decline in Schmidt's later years simply because the team wasn't any good after '86. ****

Yeah, but people still came to see Schmidt play. I clearly remember it always being far far more difficult to get seats down the 3B line than the 1B line in even the late 80s simply as a result of Schmidt being on the roster.

jhs: Howard was also already under contract for '10 & '11 so what do those two years have to do with the extension? I understand what your saying, I just don't think those 2 years are germane to the argument. . . Haven't finished the article yet, but here's some perspective for you on Howard vs. Teixeira in the out years of the deal: http://nymag.com/daily/sports/2010/04/why_ryan_howard_is_more_expens.html

NEPP: If the team is bad, do you really care if people are still going to see Howard play 1B?

I don't care that the Phillies overpaid because I want to see ownership make a lot of money. So that justification doesn't matter to me, the fact that they'll recoup some value in "marketing" gains. I care that having a 35-year old 1st baseman being paid 25 million is going to affect the Phillies' ability to put the best team possible on the field.

For people who think giving out generous contracts doesn't matter, I point you to the case of Cliff Lee. For those of us who don't believe this was all about recouping prospects, it's quite clear that the Phillies did it because they couldn't fit him in their budget. And on a related note, we're paying almost 8 million to Jamie Moyer this year. And Lee would've cost 9.

Interesting article on Baseball Prospectus (sub req'd, but some is free). http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=10677

Very fair, I think. Best quote:
"The deal will ultimately come down to two primary factors, neither of which can be properly estimated by either group of commentators: the rate at which Howard ages, and the rate at which the price of a win inflates. Obviously, if Howard ages gracefully and produces well into his thirties, the Phillies are probably going to be getting a great bargain. Equally obviously, if he tanks, the Phillies are in trouble. If major-league salaries inflate the way that they did during the middle of the 2000s, Howard is going to have plenty of leeway to age without being useless; if salaries hold steady like they have over the last few years, Howard is not only going to need to maintain his production, but might need to learn to pitch, too, in order to be worth his salary."

Something small about Utley-that I really hope turns out to not be true. His style of play is more prone to him getting injured and missing significant time when he turns 35 and older. So it may not be necessary to give him a large deal.

I saw on the last thread the guy who thinks he should be the GM thinks that salaries will remain the same through the end of Howard's deal and that even two years from now the depth of first base will be 1.) still there and 2.) cheap. I guess his skill set is based on clairvoyance.

If that's the case I know how we can save a ton of money going forward. We could fire Amaro and then buy one of those fortune teller machines they have at local fairs. Every time we need to make a decision we can just pop a quarter in it and ask it questions and go from there. Plenty of cash will be freed up. We may have to hire someone to constantly walk around looking to make change for a dollar though. Still think we'd make out in the end.

****If that's the case I know how we can save a ton of money going forward. We could fire Amaro and then buy one of those fortune teller machines they have at local fairs.****

Of course the problem with that begins when we wake up 20 years older and our own mother doesnt even recognize us. Then we end up getting a computer programming job in the city while we try to hunt down the correct machine so we can revert back to childhood. We live, we love and we even learn a little bit about this great experiment called humanity.

"We could fire Amaro and then buy one of those fortune teller machines they have at local fairs."

http://www.charactersunlimitedinc.com/fortune_teller.html

Zoltar 'Delux' is $6,600 (+$300 for a dollar bill slot) vs. 'Economic' Zoltar is $4,500.

So yeah you save a couple of hundred of thousand probably on Amaro's annual salary but you would still need to pay somebody to come up the questions to answer Zoltar.

Jack - Marketing gains offset some of the losses attributed to the contract. From the Phils perspective, a Howard playing 160 games and hitting x/y/z is more valuable than Adam Dunn with identical numbers, even if from fangraphs perspective their WAR is identical. How much more is hard to say.

Dan - my favorite bit in that piece "neither of which can be properly estimated by either group of commentators."

I think we're all rooting for steady Joe to come back soon and come back steady. Hopefully without the bumpy first several starts he had last season.

Sadly, we don't feel confident right now in our #2 keeping us in the game, our #3 is injured in an iffy way, our #5 will be what he is, and our #6 seems like he's not quite ready to reclaim prime time just yet.

Actually, I have a question about him, KK that is: Can he be effective out of the 'pen for a few innings at a time? Or would the team be better served by sending him to AAA? How about Herndon - Should he stay or should we risk losing him? It seems it's between those two for the BP right now. And when Lidge and Happ come back, 2 more pitchers have to go. (Wish one of them could be Baez, or that someone would light a fire under him.)

Regardless of the arguments for and against the extension, I'm rooting for Howard and hope the team continues to have the available resources it needs to maintain the high level of play we are all coming to expect.

GBrettfan: I think KK should go to AAA so we can keep Herndon, personally.I've been real impressed with Herndon.

MG: Perfect. I am giving them the option to hire me for the job of asking questions. All I need is a press pass and a 10 dollar food voucher for all home games.

Jbird, citing that Will Leitch article on NYMag is a joke, right?

What I don't quite get is the idea of trying to say whether or not Utley or Howard are more or less valuable to the team. They're different players with different skill sets. For example, slugging is a more important stat for Howard's position in the lineup and OBP is more important for Utley's.

Interesting comment by Murphy on the deal under The Phillie Philosophy:

The fascinating thing about this contract is that it will likely end up serving as a referendum on the organizational philosophy that they have established over the last few years: If you have performed well and represented the Phillies with professionalism on and off the field, they will take care of you.

This philosophy was on display when the Phillies bid adieu to Pat Burrell after 2008, yet handed Jamie Moyer a big two-year contract extension. It was on display this offseason when they bid adieu to Brett Myers, yet gave Joe Blanton a three-year deal. And general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. explicitly stated this philosophy on Monday, when he said several times that he decided to give Howard a monster extension with no obvious concessions on the player's part a year-and-a-half before free agency because "he deserved it."

"When we commit these kind of dollars and these kind of years to a player, it's not just because of what he does on the field as an athlete," Amaro said. "It's also as a person. To me, and to our organization and to our fans, he's not just an special athlete, he's a special person, and that makes a difference."

More than any contract the Phillies have awarded to date, the Howard deal will determine whether this philosophy is refreshing, or quaint. Judging by the positive reaction of the ticket-buying public, the fan base feels it is the former. Judging by the past production of players after the age of 31 and the amount of payroll space involved, it will be an upset if it does not turn out to be the latter.

And, of course, it could turn out to be both.

Phillies: The anti-Eagles? Seems to me RAJ is handing out contracts based on what players have done in the past. While there are worse ways to manage a team's payroll, it's not really cutting edge. The Eagles seldom seem to hesitate to cut a player whose best days are behind him. The Phillies won a WS in 2008.

Who am I to say which is better and which is worse? I suspect that based on what RAJ has done to date, this town will be an Eagles town once more by 2013.

Clout, where has it been argued that slg is more valuable than obp?

When Weimar/Zimbabwe-esque Hyper Inflation arrives in the next few years [right before we switch to using Chinese currency for everyday transactions], Howard will feel like a fool for locking himself into this contract.

AS - just thought I'd throw it out there. It does seem a little bizarre that the Yankees out bid all comers for a younger Texeira back in 2008 and then we paid Howard more.

AS - That Leitch article HAD to be a joke...there is no measure by which Texeira could be considered a "much better player by a lot." Their careers have very similar offensive profiles to this point, with Howard having a very distinct advantage in HR/RBI/SLG%. Texeira tends to hit for a higher average, and is a switch-hitter, so I guess that counts for something.

And the people who still insist that Howard is a "Mo Vaughn-type" haven't bothered paying attention.

Murphy doesn't it, at least in the part TTI posted. But this philosophy of the Phillies is in stark contrast to their professional franchise neighbors across Pattison Ave. The Eagles routinely dump high character guys for financial and football reasons with little to no consideration to what the player "deserves"

Yeah different sport, but it is an interesting comparison I think. The Eagles assume a little too much - "the fans will always be there" type of philosophy.


"Murphy doesn't it" is supposed to read

"Murphy doesn't SAY it"

Any word on Rollins? Re: Howard - I think the timing is odd, and they could have waited a yr+ to see how things go; but in the end I don't think you can argue too much against it only on the basis of how far we've come as an organization. To dole out that kinda cash and be taken seriously as a franchise is a huge leap I never thought we'd see this team take back in the dark ages of the late 90's/early 00's. If the Big Man can help get a couple more pennants I could care less that we will overpay him in his last years.

Also, I'm pulling for a hot start from Jon Singleton now, maybe he can be worth something as trade bait.

Dan in Philly: You beat me to the same thought.

Greg S - facemasks and shorter seasons & careers probably lead to more "cheering for the laundry" philosophy to football than baseball.

Jeff Lurie thinks being #1 means being the team w/ the most money left under the salary cap every year. I do not always agree w/ the Phillies' strategy for fielding a championship team, but the simple fact is that they have managed to do so far more successfully than the Eagles. It would also appear that Philadelphia's baseball franchise takes their fans into account (at least to some extent) when making their payroll decisions, whereas the NFL franchise across the street enjoys grabbing increasingly large amounts of fan money & repays it w/ repeated sharp kicks to the collective groin of the same. In short, comparing the Phillies to the Eagles has become utterly laughable.

GTown_Dave: Hallelujah! But don't say that too loud here, there are still some closet Eagles-first phans here that are only here until that team gets itself back in order.

The Phillies certainly do present the opposite to the Eagles. Whereas the Eagles find it better to get rid of a guy a year too early than a year too late, the Phillies seem to take the opposite approach. They've been more than willing to hand out extra years in contracts in order to get the guys they want.

It's worked out well so far, but that was never the issue. The issue was what these deals will look like at the back end.

From MLBTradeRumors:

"According to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, the Phillies' organization believes they'll be able to re-sign Werth, a stance reiterated when GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said Howard's contract wouldn't affect their chances of retaining the 30-year-old. Werth's agent, Jeff Borris, echoed Amaro's sentiment, though he added that it wouldn't be appropriate to say whether he was optimistic about a Werth extension."

"The issue was what these deals will look like at the back end."

And it's impossible for us to predict now all the possible contingencies that might come into play.

Say we get to the WS a couple more time before Howard declines. I'll be happy with that.

Even more, say he declines when he's 35 and 36 - so he's overpaid - but the Phillies get to another couple of WS during those years because other players are being overpaid compensate for his decline.

I'll take that too.

I'd rather enjoy having a top-level slugger who's happy about playing here and a management that's willing to fork over the bucks to make other established players happy. It sure beats the alternative - which we experienced in this town for far too many years.

Chris - The part of Zolecki's post that I thought more interesting on this subject:

I've gotten the sense recently that the Phillies think they can sign Jayson Werth to a contract extension. It might be because they realize they have to have at least one right-handed bat in the middle of their lineup. But I don't think today's deal means Werth is gone. Now, if Werth wants a five-year, $100 million deal, yeah, the Phillies probably won't sign him to something like that. But if it's a fair deal -- the Roy Halladay, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins contract extensions seemed to work out for both parties -- then I see a chance at Werth sticking around. They could use him, too./blockquote>

Emphasis added. Seems like Werth would probably have to be willing to take a discount, depending on what the market for his services is.

The money portion of the contract seems to be widely public and talked about. The 10 million buy-out seems really high. It makes the last option year very likely to be picked up.

What I can't seem to find is if there is a "no trade" clause or not. I'm hoping there isn't. I really like Ryan and he's great for the team. I'm hoping he hits 548 bombs and has his 6 retired. But if there is a no trade clause, and we've made him the 2nd highest paid player in the game (and he's not the 2nd best) it seems RAJ chased after Ryan until Ryan caught him.

Jack: Yeah, if I had to identify 2 key tenets of Ruben Amaro's philosophy, those tenets would be: (1) identify who you want and overpay, in terms of both years & dollars, to make sure you get them; and (2) don't shy away from productive players just because they're in their mid-30s or older.

Although the second tenet of Amaro's philosophy gives me more pause than the first one, there is nothing inherently wrong with either. However, if you're going to give large multi-year deals to 30-something-year old players, you had better have a very low whiff rate on those deals. Otherwise, the whole philosophy breaks down.

According to Cot's, there's a limited NTC. The difference between the option ($23M) and the option ($10M) is no small number, A-Train. That's a year of Utley's current salary.

Jack, Red: Which is better, a walk or a hit? Given the choice, which would you rather have?

This is where statheads turn logic upside down.

I do think it's interesting that, in some ways, this management style is very risk-averse. People will laud ownership for giving out these sorts of deals, but if the money is there and available, then these deals are actually the easy thing to do. The easy thing is to re-sign the guys the fans already know. The easy thing is to trot out the arguably the most successful core group of Phillies in history year after year; hey, if they fail, at least they're still the heroes who won the 08 title, right?

The harder thing to do is justify change. The Eagles take shots from the media and fans every year on this. I'm not trying to defend the Eagles--I'm a much bigger fan of the Phillies and certainly their style has resulted in more recent success. But I think you can make the argument that they're making the much safer decisions.

Clout: Where has anyone said a walk is better than a hit? The point is that, however you do it, getting on base is what's important. If the SLG is the same, a .250/.350 hitter is simply more valuable than a .300/.330 hitter. It might not seem like it, but it's true.

Howard's limited no trade clause allows him to only be traded to KC, Washington, Cincinnatti and Montreal, if they ever receive a team again.

Clout, I'm sorry, is that an argument that slg is more valuable than obp?

"But I think you can make the argument that they're making the much safer decisions."

Well no kidding. However, if you want to have any chance at winning championships you've got to take risks. The Eagles run a fine business, but a bad team. Unfortunately, the blind loyalty of the ticket-buying fan base provides them no incentive to deviate from that model. The Phillies know that their attendance revenues will drop like a rock if the team doesn't continue to compete, win & appeal to the fans, which (I believe) has motivated them to spend in ways that buck conventional wisdom.

Jack: I understand that. But, unlike you, I also understand that a single is more likely to drive in a run than a walk even though both are equal in OB.

G-Town Dave: You misread my argument. The Phillies are making "safer" decisions, not the Eagles. Like I said, if you have the money to spend, the easy thing to do is spend it on the guys the fans already know and love. The issue becomes when it might be a better decision to embrace change over the guy you know. The Phillies seem much more likely (with the exceptions of Burrell and Myers, which could've been justified anyway on baseball grounds) to go with the guy they know over taking any chances. I'm merely saying that this, regardless of the results, is a more risk-averse strategy as far as the Front Office is concerned.

It's harder to do what the Red Sox did, which was virtually change an entire team between the 04 and the 07 championships. They took a lot of heat during those years. But it worked out well for the long-term.

Jack: That method of thinking ignores the inconvenient fact that runners on base are worthless unless they score. Unless total base runners overtake total runs as the stat by which winning a game is determined, runs scored will always be the most important factor, & hits are far more likely to drive in a run than walks.

Clout: I'm with Phillies Red. Was that an argument against my "OBP is stronger than SLG" statement? Because it sure didn't seem like one. If it was, it failed.

In the real world, though, you don't have a lineup full of 1,000 OBP players. And, if you had a lineup full of .400 OBP singles hitters, who drew tons of walks, I would venture to guess that your team would struggle to score runs.

To state the obvious, in the real world you need guys who get on base and guys who drive them in. So if I'm looking for a leadoff hitter, it doesn't bother me that Ichiro Suzuki's career slugging percentage is only .433; his job is not to slug, but to get on base, which he has done at a .377 clip throughout his career. And if I'm looking for a cleanup hitter, I'm less concerned with his walk totals than with his slugging percentage. Which lineup do you think would have scored more runs last year? One with Ryan Howard (.360 OBP) batting cleanup or one with Chone Figgins (.395 OBP) hitting cleanup?

Jack: You're right, I did misread your point. However, I don't really think the Phillies have taken the "safe" route by signing guys like Howard to long term deals. "Safe" in terms of fan reaction, perhaps, but it's risky as hell by any other measure ... & I write that as someone who supports the Howard deal.

Howard's no-trade clause allows him to pick 9 teams per year that he is willing to be traded to, IIRC.

Jason Bay just hit his first HR as a Met in his 69 AB. After a career high ISO .269 last year, his current ISO is .104. His FB rate is way down and his LD rate is way up (prob why he's posting a nice BA and has 3 2B and a 3B). Not sure if it's the playing environment or just the nature of his early BIP data (LD% at 25%).

G-Town Dave: Then why does OBP correlate with runs scored way more than Batting Average does?

http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/story/2006/2/12/133645/296

The writer of this article determined the importance of OBP and SLG to runs per game for each spot in the lineup. The results seem intuitive - for the leadoff hitter, OBP is more than 3 times as important as SLG. For a cleanup hitter, OBP is only 11% more important than SLG.

For every lineup spot, OBP is more important for run-scoring as SLG, although the increased importance of OBP is much less for a cleanup hitter than for other spots in the lineup, as several have pointed out.

bap: The one with Howard, obviously, because the difference in SLG, which you don't mention, is so massive as to make Howard clearly the better offensive player.

The issue we were discussing before is that when the margin is close, OBP is simply more important, regardless of lineup construction. If Utley puts up .400/.500, and Howard puts up .350/.550, Utley is the better player that year, no matter where they hit in the lineup. OPS says they're equal; this is why OPS is flawed. It puts two numbers on an equal scale when individually, their scales are different.

DH Phils: Good link and post.

BAP: You asked whether Ryan Howard or Chone Figgins would have been a better cleanup hitter last year. This is a silly comparison, of course, because Figgins has a 35 point OBP advantage but Howard has a 178 point SLG advantage - I don't think anyone would suggest that OBP is 5 times as important as SLG.

If Figgins were .395/.546 as compared to Howard's .360/.571, then I would argue that Figgins would be a slightly better cleanup hitter.

clout/Jack: WAR takes into account the relative values of walks and each type of hit.
I do think WAR underrates Howard, as the timing of his hits increase his value (ie he's much better with men on base), but Utley is pretty clearly the superior player.

Yeah, nice find. Here's the part that caught my eye, and relates to the question at hand (to be clear, this looks to be empirical, and so does not qualify as an argument, strictly speaking [see how I've learned to meticulously qualify my statements around here!!]):

"For example, here is the regression equation of team runs per game for the years 2001-03:

R/G = 17.11*OBP + 11.13*SLG - 5.66

This makes OBP about 53% more important than SLG, a fairly typical result."

And that makes plenty of sense to me. I'm still honestly curious if there are studies or arguments that say slg is more valuable than obp?

Also, I feel like people are mischaracterizing my point. SLG is a VERY important stat. It's just, on a relative level, slightly less important in a player than OBP. That doesn't mean we judge players solely by OBP--that's NOT what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that in considering the whole context of a player, OBP should be weighted slightly more than SLG (and that's true regardless of where a player hits in the lineup, though as DH Phils pointed out, that can be adjusted somewhat).

This doesn't seem like it should be a hard concept for people to grasp.

Also, clout, you make the walk vs. hit argument. I would guess (although I haven't done any research on it) that batting average is more highly correlated with on-base percentage than it is with slugging percentage, because it is a major component of on-base percentage. The OBP vs. SLG argument has nothing to do with walk vs. hit - walk vs. hit is an argument for batting average over OBP.

I mentioned my hypothetical hitter who had the same OPS as Howard, but with a higher OBP and a lower SLG. That hitter, at least in 2009, exists and managed to bat .320 with 200 hits.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/braunry02.shtml

Jack: Am I to understand, then, that the Phillies had a productive offensive game last night?

DH Phils - Not entirely true. Some hits are for extra bases and count more towards SLG.

Gtown - I know it is hard to grasp, but 4 hits and 7 walks is a productive game - esp. against a guy who has trouble find the zone. Sometimes productive offensive night aren't rewarded.

Jack: Also, you're attempting to compare incomparable things w/ your OBP vs. BA question. Of course OPB correlates w/ runs scored more than BA alone, as OPB includes both Hits & Walks. My point was that a Hit (alone) is more likely to drive in a Run than a Walk (alone).

GTown Dave: In last night's too-silly-to-analyze one game sample size, the Phillies had an OBP of .308 (not good). Also, they slugged .194 (not good). Also, their batting average was .129 (not good). As a result, they scored 1 run (not good).

What is your point? That slugging is more important than on-base percentage because the Phillies slugged more terribly than they got on base in a one game sample, ignoring analysis of many years of data?

Jack: You didn't answer my question. Which is more likely to drive in a run, a hit or a walk?

"My point was that a Hit (alone) is more likely to drive in a Run than a Walk (alone)."

This is a point that every single baseball fan agrees with and that has been challenged by nobody in the 150-year history of baseball. Who do you think believes otherwise?

Sophist: Nonsense. An offense is not productive if runs are not scored. An example of a productive offense not being rewarded would be the final game in Arizona, not the pathetic 0-11 w/ RISP display of last night.

Jack/DH: Well, yeah, I suppose I used an extreme comparison to make my point. That point, however, was simply the same one that DH made: Different spots in the lineup require different skills. I do agree that, as a general proposition, OBP is more important than slugging percentage.

DH Phils - That's a fair point too. My view is that the Phils played well enough offensively to score a whole bunch of runs last night and just didn't get the hits when needed. They're just 2 or 3 hits (singles even) from a close game. As bad as .308 is, given 31 AB in the entire game, 2 or 3 more hits swings that wildly.

Many of us are thinking of the Howard deal in terms of his perfermance on the field and the merchandise the team will sell. Both of those are without a doubt the biggest piece of the pie. However, an additional aspect that I've been thinking about today is the fact the purchase of an entire generation or two of Phillies fans. In other words, when current 12 year old kids grow up and take their kid to a game they will say, no matter who the first baseman will be at that time, "I always remember Ryan Howard at first base." If this contract ends fairly, there will be only good memories, and those good memories will keep generations bringing generations. In other words, it's a purchase of good will...it's more than 7 years, it's Ryan Howard's lifetime.

G-Town Dave: If the Phillies get on base the way they did last night consistently, they will have a very productive season. Hitting with RISP is NOT a consistently repeatable skill. Getting on base is.

DH Phils: If they were the same age, would you trade Howard for Braun even up?

GTown - When it comes to one game, we disagree. Sometimes productive offenses don't score. 0/11 nights w RISP are frustrating anomalies of productive offenses (with tough AB w/ RISP or with holes in the lineup). DH Phils has sufficiently debunked your point in any case.

DHPhils:

Here are the Phillies' offensive numbers overall, & w/ RISP. Personally, I'd rather the Phillies have a lower OBP in the latter situation, & a higher BA & SLG.

Overall - .272 BA / .348 OBP / .440 SLG

RISP - .247 BA / .361 OBP / .363 SLG

Sophist: Agreed. If you add one hit each for Werth and Francisco, you end up with 14/41 OBP (.341) as opposed to 12/39 OBP (.308), which I guess really just illustrates how ridiculous it is to analyze a one-game sample.

Although, if they had gotten those hits, they would probably have a respectable 4-5 runs with a decent OBP and still a very poor SLG and average.

Anyone knows that a hit is more likely to drive in a run than a walk, if guys are on base. But you're ignoring that a guy who takes less walks isn't always getting hits to drive in runners-he's often making outs as well, and that's far worse than taking a walk. You have to discount the costs of making outs 7 out of 10 times on balls in play with guys on base before you can count the benefits of getting a hit 3 of those times.

But, still, your point proves absolutely nothing as far as this conversation goes. Clout, you claimed that SLG was MORE important than OBP. I, and others, posted clear reasons why the opposite was in fact true. Do you have any response, or is it simply "a hit is more likely to drive in a run than a walk?" Because I'll know to move on if that's all you can come up with.

Does Howard's contract increase the likelihood that the 1B free agent class of 2012 (Gonzalez, Pujols) exit the National League?

I can only imagine that Pujols will demand (and receive) a larger contract than Ryno, and there's a chance that Gonzalez will as well. How many NL teams can afford to tie $30 mil + up in one player? Can the Cardinals afford to pay Holliday AND Pujols considering the Howard deal? Can anyone else in the NL compete with the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels with the market that Howard has set?

clout: You're moving the goalposts. Howard has a higher career OBP and SLG, in addition to playing better defense. If they were the same age, I would rather have Howard.

Read my post again. If I had to choose the 2009-only offense of one of the two players for the cleanup spot (or any spot) in my 2009 lineup, I would choose Braun.

At the risk of sounding like MVPTommy, I think you have to be totally lacking in common sense if your faith in a particular statistic is so devout that it causes you to believe that a 4-hit, no-homerun, 1-run night is a productive offensive performance.

"Here are the Phillies' offensive numbers overall, & w/ RISP. Personally, I'd rather the Phillies have a lower OBP in the latter situation, & a higher BA & SLG.

Overall - .272 BA / .348 OBP / .440 SLG

RISP - .247 BA / .361 OBP / .363 SLG "

The SLG with RISP is much lower than overall. If the choice is between .361/.363 and .348/.440, I agree that I would prefer .348/.440.

I would imagine that much of the higher OBP with RISP is due to intentional walks and pitch around (or as Wheeler says, unintentional-intentional) walks.

DH Phils: This is what Clout does. He'll just argue at different levels of generality based on whatever helps his point, and will move those around mid-debate. At some point, he'll realize that you've made a point he can't really contest, and he'll just go quiet and not talk about it anymore.

GTown Dave: I guess I didn't really address your point, which I assume was the following: that with RISP, OBP is less important than SLG. I haven't done any research on that, but I would guess that is accurate. However, only 31% of Howard's 2009 PA came with RISP (a relatively high number, but still a minority of his PA). In the 349 of his 703 PA (50%) that came with the bases empty, OBP was much more important than SLG. Averaged over all of his PA, I'd bet that in the aggregate, OBP was slightly more important than SLG (consistent with the link I posted earlier).

Per Salisbury on the twitter sidebar here, Jayson Werth's agent said "We're at an impasse."

Is it just me, or would it be better if the press just left it alone? I just don't see how reporting every moment of a process is productive. I'd rather be pleasantly surprised if they do reach an agreement than to learn about the good, bad and indifferent along the way.

Jack: My point is simply this: If someone goes 2 for 4 with 2 singles and someone else goes 02 for 2 with 2 walks, you would say they are equal because their OB is the same and OB trumps SLG. I would say the guy with 2 singles was more valuable because he was more likely to drive in runs.

Jack, not to criticize your entire line of reasoning, but you also need to acknowledge that given Howard's role on the team, the relative important of his SLG and OBP numbers shifts. In balance, Howard's value lies in his ability to drive in runs, not in his ability to draw walks and/or hit for average.

I know that you consistently say that you like Howard, but then again, you consistently focus on his weaknesses and diminish the importance of his strengths. It's like when you've focus on his poor numbers against LHP, which is of importance, but also is evidence of how good he is against RHP - the majority of pitchers in the game - when you consider his overall numbers.

I believe the impasse was due to the fact that the Phils have focused on Howard's extension, not that the Phils + Werth have engaged in negotiations and are too far apart to ever agree...at least that's what I read earlier today.

I hope they didn't start the negotiations and it went the way of the 1-day Cliff Lee contract extension talks...

"Jack: My point is simply this: If someone goes 2 for 4 with 2 singles and someone else goes 02 for 2 with 2 walks, you would say they are equal because their OB is the same and OB trumps SLG. I would say the guy with 2 singles was more valuable because he was more likely to drive in runs."

So your point is basically that if two players have equal OBPs, the one with the higher SLG% is more valuable? That's some amazing insight...

" In the 349 of his 703 PA (50%) that came with the bases empty, OBP was much more important than SLG."

That is true. On the other hand, a moderate increase in the number of walks when the bases are empty is far less meaningful than a moderate increase in the number of double, triples, and homers he hits when there are runners on base. Once again, a reason why for a cleanup hitter, the importance of SLG relative to OBP shifts.

The problem on both sides of this argument arise when people speak too generally. It is meaningless to argue whether OBP is more or less important than SLG without considering the specifics of context which lie beyond the reach of cold stats. It's like arguing about whether Utely or Howard are more important to the team. They play different roles, and so it is difficult to make a valid comparison.

clout: That's silly and not at all what Jack is saying.
He made that distinction by saying how Howard is obviously more valuable than Chone Figgins even though Figgins had a higher OBP last year, because Howard's SLG is so much higher.
Don't play dumb.

As for the actual game tonight:

If this offense can beat up Wellenmeyer tonight, they are getting swept in SF. Here's hoping the offense can put up a crooked number against him tonight.

DH Phils: Yes, that's basically my point. To sum up, I consider Ryan's PAs w/ RISP somewhat more important than those w/ the bases empty (a "high-leverage" situation for hitters, if you will), & in those instances I definitely value SLG over OBP. I probably should have been more clear from the outset -- being that the main subject of the thread was Howard, I assumed where I should have specified.

Bobby Cox's evaluation of the deal:

If Howard is worth $25M, then Pujols is worth $50M because he is 2x better than any player in MLB.

Yet another reason to dislike Cox even more as if you needed much of a reason in teh first place.

Lets talk about the game tonight. My eyes are telling me that Howard and Utley are swinging at bad pitches, everyone else is waiting for the next guy to get the big hit, and the Phillies pitchers are getting slightly unlucky in regards to hitters finding holes and not getting calls.

Anyone want to back me up?

MG - That comment is fine by me; I see it as just another way to drive up Pujols' eventual contract with St. Louis, and hamstring a chief NL competitor. You don't think Pujols has read all the comments that have been made about him since the Howard deal was signed? And you don't think his thought process now is "I wanted 25 mil per, but if Howard's getting 25 mil I want 30"?

Every last comment like that drives up the asking price for Pujols, and the Cardinals pretty much HAVE to pay whatever he wants. Their fans would never forgive them for letting Albert walk.

BAP - How convenient of you to overlook the 8 men who reached base last night from something besides a hit.

Phlipper: Howard is arguably the best hitter in baseball against right-handed pitchers. I got no problem saying that all the time.

Clout: You and I both know that's not what I was saying, and you aren't even coming close to addressing the original question. OBP is "relatively" more important than SLG. I would never say a guy with a .350 OBP and a .400 SLG is better than a guy with a .345 OBP and a .600 SLG. I'll quote myself from before:

"SLG is a VERY important stat. It's just, on a relative level, slightly less important in a player than OBP. That doesn't mean we judge players solely by OBP--that's NOT what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that in considering the whole context of a player, OBP should be weighted slightly more than SLG (and that's true regardless of where a player hits in the lineup, though as DH Phils pointed out, that can be adjusted somewhat)."

Please point out what you have a problem with there. Thanks.

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