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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

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true!

Suck on THAT Keith Law.

AGREED. I would take a .290 average, 35 homers and still be in the top 3 in RBI's anyday over .250, 200 k's and 50 homers. He really has grown to a great player.

I bet those hr totals will go up as his hr/fb percentage normalizes.

That stolen base run last year sealed the deal for me.

Ryan Howard gets my vote as one of the most under-appreciated Phillies of all time. Sadly, his contract extension almost certainly means this will not ever change.

I like that his K% has gone down and I think if you add his typical great 2nd half, you could be looking at a near career year for him overall despite a small drop in power.

RBIs, like wins, are meaningless. I learned that on Beerleaguer.

What inspires me about Howard is the constant work he puts into his game. While many have their opinions about his contract extension, I was all for it. He's committed to being a great player.

Howard will end up with a bronze statue of himself outside CBP in 20 years and he'll be only the 2nd Phillie with 500 HRs. Good enough for me.

He's even improved vastly defensively. He still makes an errant throw now and then, but he's much better now than 2 years ago.

Howard is a more complete player. I still think he's another hot month or two from his best season since 2006. Say he repeats his June over the next 30 games.

I think we have to wait and see what happens this summer. If he has his usual late summer months, sorta like he had in June, etc.. It would be something if his worst month ends up being his May .290/.367/.411.

This would be a player with better weak parts of the season. His past worst months

May 10: .290/.367/.411
June 09: .245/.316/.480
April 08: .172/.297/.343
April 07: .221/.396/.390
April 06: .306/.388/.494

A .367 on base in his worst month.

****RBIs, like wins, are meaningless. I learned that on Beerleaguer.****

I dont recall anyone ever saying either thing.

The "total player" probably would have some semblance of plate discipline and maybe the ability to hit LHPs even a little bit.

In any case, "hitting more balls that find holes in the shift" is not likely to be some sustainable skill, so I wouldn't count on the average to stay up. You might want to hope he finds the power he used to have again. Also, his ever-tumbling walk rate is a bad sign for a player in his 30s.

I like Ryan Howard, and I give him credit for always trying to improve himself, but just because his batting average is up doesn't mean this change is a good thing.

Oh and one last thing, it's not "statisticians" that "thirst" for OPS, it's anyone who wants a productive offense.

***The "total player" probably would have some semblance of plate discipline and maybe the ability to hit LHPs even a little bit.***

Other great players had big platoon splits too...like Stargell, McCovey. We just notice more with Howard thanks to bullpen specialization.

You could argue, considering the relative importance of OBP over SLG that his April .274/.310/.484 was worse than his May, even with a higher OPS. It's still an improvement over his worst months in recent years.

Personally, I'd rather have more SLG than OBP out of my cleanup hitter. Within reason of course...a #4 hitter still needs to get on base at a good clip.

i've mentioned it before aawhile back, comparing his new approach to tiger woods' new swing a few years back even though he was still winning.

I think taking this new apporach of more contact for a full season will ultimately combine with his previous approach of trying rip the cover off the ball and mend into a truly complete swing where he can make contact when needed but still reach back and go for the fences at will.

"rbis and wins are meaningless, i learned that on beerleaguer"

That is what you call a learning disability.

you can thank me later, ryan.

NEPP: "Wins are meaningless in evaluating a pitcher."

Look familiar?

He's not a total player now, but he's closer than he was at any point since maybe 2007.

re Howard's splits and the shift

hand - ba/obp/slg -- ld/gb/fb - babip - hr/fb

vs LHP career: .228/.309/.442 -- 21/41/39 - .304 - 23.3
vs LHP 2010: .244/.295/.429 -- 22/42/37 - .295 - 19.4

Always thought the shift had more of an impact on his numbers against LHP. He's making the same contact against them he has historically (even in 2006), but his BAbip is actually down.

Just to get back to Howard vs. Utley this year from the last thread, Utley's OPS this year is .849 and Howard's is .859.

Utley's WAR is much higher, but that's because a replacement level second baseman is a terrible hitter. Wilson Valdez, who is a replcament level player, has 0.8 WAR this year, as compared to 1.3 for Howard (Utley has 2.6). That means that in WAR, Howard is supposedly closer in value to Valdez than to Utley. Does anyone think that's a reasonable assessment?

Phylan: I'm sure Arthur Rhodes would have loved to see that total inability to hit LHP the other night.

It's very rarely brought up, if ever, but along with his great play on the field, Ryan Howard is a breath of fresh air to baseball. He's great as the face of this franchise and as an ambassador to baseball. He's incredibly humble, a hard worker, and he's just out there having fun. Listening to him last night sit down with Berman, Morgan and Valentine during the HR Derby was a pleasure. He spoke at times like many of us would: a fan just enjoying seeing some of the best hitters in the game swing for the fences.

I, like everyone else, get angry when Howard doesn't come through in a big spot (as if Pujols or Fielder come through in every big spot; confirmation bias, anyone?), but I'm glad Howard signed that extension, because I'll get to cheer for Howard throughout the remainder of his career, most likely, and I'm definitely down with that.

The Boss is gone.
Monty weilds the same control over the phils that Steinbrenner did with the Yanks but doesnt take the PR hit as he is a lot more subtle.

John: That's why WAR is flawed. A player's value soars on the basis of position scarcity, not his skill set.

WAR is a great stat, but, like wins or ERA for a pitcher, it is best used in conjunction with other stats to get a true picture of a player.

Eric Milton had 14 wins and a .700% winning percentage for us in 2004...based on that, I must assume he was one of the top pitchers in baseball.

You could argue that he's been slightly "lucky" as BA goes against RHP.

vs RHP career: .309/.405/.649 -- 24/38/38 - .342 - 33.3
vs RHP 2010: .320/.379/.551 -- 24/38/38 - .370 - 16.7

If you "corrected" for his BAbip, he'd have 4-6 fewer hits overall. He'd be hitting .282-.290.

It's not like .859 is a bad OPS, either. It's actually quite good these days.

Howard has evolved and has lots and lots of time to keep producing. Personally, I like what Howard has done: slimmed down, better contact, fewer strikeouts instead of going into his thirties heavier and striking out 200 times. My thought is he's setting himself up to stay productive into his mid-late thirties this way.

"Phylan: I'm sure Arthur Rhodes would have loved to see that total inability to hit LHP the other night."

Are you really trying to argue that a sample size of 1 trumps an entire career of PA against left handed hitters?

Really?

****WAR is a great stat, but, like wins or ERA for a pitcher, it is best used in conjunction with other stats to get a true picture of a player.****

THIS...this being the only argument anyone has ever made against Wins.

****It's not like .859 is a bad OPS, either. It's actually quite good these days.****

As I posted in the last thread, Pujols' OPS is down over 200 points from the same point last year. Offense and power are just down this year.

"John: That's why WAR is flawed. A player's value soars on the basis of position scarcity, not his skill set.

WAR is a great stat, but, like wins or ERA for a pitcher, it is best used in conjunction with other stats to get a true picture of a player."

So what Howard's WAR is really telling us is that it is much easier (comparatively) to get another 1st baseman with Howard's skill set, than another first baseman with Utley's skill set, or another pitcher with Halladay's skill set.


To me, this actually speaks against Howard, not for him.

With as few days off as Howard takes and all the DL time the team has logged this year, , I think he did himself and the team a favor by skipping last night's HR Derby.

Seperate topic - after last night's broadcast I may never complain about T-Mac/ Wheels/ Sarge again.
Endless shoe discussions and a HR call that sounds like a sheep bleet (ba, ba, ba back...)are not good TV. And we have Fox to look forward to for the game!

Clout, that's kind of the point of WAR -- to measure a player's overall value to his team. And that is contingent on the value of the position he plays.

NEPP: Did you miss yesterday's thread or do you have Alzheimer's?

"Seperate topic - after last night's broadcast I may never complain about T-Mac/ Wheels/ Sarge again"

The most telling part of the broadcast was that Will Ferrell actually made a better broadcaster than Joe Morgan or Chris Berman. I didn't have an issue with Bobby V. but he hardly spoke.

I posted this earlier this season, but I still think it's interesting re Howard's performance over his career against LHP. Some people like to ask, since he hit them so well in 2006, what happened?

Take a look at his batted ball data

yr: LD/GB/FB - BAbip -- XBH% - BB% - K%

06: 19/45/36 - .368 -- 40% - 10 - 39
07: 19/31/50 - .282 -- 51% - 13 - 41
08: 22/40/38 - .300 -- 43% - 9 - 41
09: 22/41/37 - .299 -- 43% - 10 - 37

10: 21/42/37 - .295 -- 34% - 5 - 30

With the exception of 07's GB/FB numbers, he's been remarkably similar contact-wise, as well as in his BB and K numbers, against LHP. The biggest difference is BAbip. Not surprisingly, this year his power, K, and BB numbers are down slightly.

"Utley is so much beter he can miss lots of games and still provide more value than Howard

Using War.

Pretty awesome huh? Utley is freaking amazing."

Obviously absurd. What Utley's higher WAR tells you, more than anything else, is that WAR is insufficient as a way to measure a player's value.

****Did you miss yesterday's thread or do you have Alzheimer's?****

I dont recall it as I was off-line for most of the day. Probably didnt read it.

WAR is screwed up because Jimmy Rollins has played 31 games at shortstop, but yet gets a full +6 for positional value. If WAR is supposed to be a cumlative stat over the course of a season, they need to prorate the defensive adjustments. Howard's WAR being under Rollins is ludacris - a great defensive shortstop with a 110 OPS+ BUT has only played 30 games all year long - how can he be more responsible for wins than an average/below average 1B with a 126 OPS+ that has played every single game this season?

Just curious - since Howard is so "awful" against LHP - how many players over the past 5 years in MLB have more HRs and/or RBI than Ryan Howard?

Heather, phylan: You are both correct, but it sort of ignores the forest for the trees.

It is much harder to replace a 1950 Studebaker with another 1950 Studebaker than it is to replace a 2010 BMW with another 2010 BMW. Conclusion: It is much better to drive a 1950 Studebaker than a 2010 BMW.

And a better method besides war is. . . .?

Sorry - that should have been how many players over the past 5 years in MLB have more HRs and/or RBI AGAINST LHP than Ryan Howard?

"WAR is insufficient as a way to measure a player's value."

Obviously about 50 statistics taken in conjunction are the best way, followed up by copious scouting reports.

However, barring such an in depth analysis, I would argue that while it is true that any single metric doesn't 100% accurately measure a player's value, WAR comes as close as any.

Small sample sizes: 2009 NLDS and CS.

"And a better method besides war is. . . .?"

A method that uses multiple factors and common sense (as opposed to blindly using one statistical paradigm).

"However, barring such an in depth analysis, I would argue that while it is true that any single metric doesn't 100% accurately measure a player's value, WAR comes as close as any."

Which says absolutely nothing about its actual value. "Coming as close as any" with one method, in this case, tells us that a player that hasn't hit as well as another, has more errors than another, and has missed considerable as another - has been a significantly more valuable player.

Patently absurd.

"Heather, phylan: You are both correct, but it sort of ignores the forest for the trees.

It is much harder to replace a 1950 Studebaker with another 1950 Studebaker than it is to replace a 2010 BMW with another 2010 BMW. Conclusion: It is much better to drive a 1950 Studebaker than a 2010 BMW."

If you have a position that you can only replace with a 1950s Studebaker, then the Studebaker is indeed more valuable since it is harder to replace.

If you have a position where you can replace it with a 2010 BMW, a 2010 Corvette, a 2010 Porsche 911, I would argue that the BMW loses value since there are other options out there that would do nearly as good of a job.

This car analogy is a little silly but hopefull you understand what I'm getting at.

NEPP: I'd suggest you go back and read it, but I suspect that would be the mental equivalent of waterboarding and against the Geneva Convention, so I won't suggest that.

Personally I'd take the Studebaker because I like classic cars.

Unless its a 6 series Convertible BMW? Is that the case?

Wow. Typos galore today. Should have said - has missed considerably more time than another....

I don't disparage WAR as some do, but you can't forget that WAR has both a hitting component and a fielding component, and that the latter is based on single-season UZR.

But what if you had a can of tuna and a can of salmon? Does anyone know their relative WAR values?

"Small sample sizes: 2009 NLDS and CS."

Yes, those would indeed be small sample sizes compared to Howard's entire career.

Are you putting me on or something?

Errors?

euph: prorate the defensive adjustments.

If 1B is -6 over an average 150 game season(i think they use 150 right?) then each game played at 1B should only be -.04 towards a players' value.

sophist: And you forgot to add that even the biggest UZR proponents say that single-season UZR is not a good measure of fielding ability, that you need at least 3 seasons worth because there is so much noise in the stat.

Utleys uzr has been steady for about five years, so no problem there.

The point being, Utley has been somewhat less than stellar in his defense this year.

I mean, seriously, that anyone can say that Utley has been a greater contributor to the Phillies success (such as it is) this year, defies credibility.

The only way that you could come to such a conclusion is by comparing the players to potential replacement players. So, sure, if there were any possibility that the Phillies were going to go out and sign Pujols this year - than making that comparison has value; but in general, WAR tells you something about their relative worth in a completely abstracted sense.

Looking at how they've performed this year, and considering that Utley has missed as much time as he has - it is completely laughable to claim that he has been more "valuable" to the team than Howard.

This is the perfect example of how useful metrics can be completely misunderstood by people who apply them in ways that render them meaningless.

Thanks for the perspective on Howard. Agree that he is (incredibly, considering his stature and prominence on the team) a somewhat underappreciated member of the team.

I think the way he exploded on the scene as a rookie and following year led to unrealistic expectations, and when he does ring up another of those weak, flailing Ks against junkballing lefties, he looks horrendous. Still, a great (and still improving) player.

We can argue for the next decade about whether he is overpaid or not, but putting that aside, I'm sure glad he's with us, for many reasons.

OT: Florida is selling. Any interest in Cody Ross? FA in 2012, righty bat.

"Looking at how they've performed this year, and considering that Utley has missed as much time as he has - it is completely laughable to claim that he has been more "valuable" to the team than Howard."

Just for the sake of clarification, if this rant was directed against me, I am in no way saying Howard is less valuable this year thus far than Utley regardless of what WAR says.

What I am saying is Howard has been less valuable to the team overall (in say, the last 2 years) and will continue to be less valuable going forward.

Howard is a very good player, but he is about to be paid as the 2nd highest player in baseball when in reality if everyone is healthy, he's about the 3rd best player on his own team.

If anyone wants to argue the point that he's actually one of the top 5 in baseball or even the most valuable player on the Phillies' team, I would be open to listening.

****Florida is selling. Any interest in Cody Ross? FA in 2012, righty bat.****

Depending on cost...yeah, I'd have interest.

Theoretically, Francisco SHOULD be giving us that type of production and probably could if he was played enough but I dont see UC doing that. Maybe if Ross were acquired, he could platoon with Ibanez. It would free up Francisco to be traded.

The UZR thing is why I use Baseball-Reference's WAR for postition players. Instead of UZR it just uses a defensive efficiency metric.

And yes, Chase Utley has been a major contributor to the Phillies, as he always is. He's hitting .277/.383/.466, which, while not up to his own standards, is fantastic for a 2B with elite caliber defense. What's most impressive is that he's improved his plate discipline even more, reducing his K rate to a career low, and posting the second-highest BB rate of his career. That is value any way you cut it. The whole batting average thing is attributable in some part to BABIP, as he is posting the same LD% but around 30 points below his career average. That will correct itself. I just hope he comes back ASAP.

Yeah, I know it's Deadspin, but I couldn't help but laugh at the header:

Pablo Sandoval, Noted Fatass, To Speak To Children About Heart Health

Franscisco has been a major disappointment, yeah

"It is much harder to replace a 1950 Studebaker with another 1950 Studebaker than it is to replace a 2010 BMW with another 2010 BMW. Conclusion: It is much better to drive a 1950 Studebaker than a 2010 BMW."

clout, i'm skeptical of WAR as well but your car analogy is incoherent. obviously the operative question is not whether it's better to have a 2nd baseman or a 1st baseman.


GTown Dave: LOL thanks for the link...the comments are pretty funny too.

The Utley injury isn't fully factored into those value differences yet either. Howard has only played 15 more games than Utley. If he does come back early September, it'll end up closer to 60 more games and I doubt their WARs will be that close.

So, the point of all this is that Ryan Howard would be a lousy second baseman??

Anyone else rather have Cantu than Ross? A very good hitter against LHP, and overall, in 08 and 09. Having a down BAbip year. Can play 1B, 2B, and 3B.

BTW, RIP to George Steinbrenner....

Mr. Steinbrenner had his warts but I would have loved to have had him as an owner in Philadelphia. I probably wouldn't want to work under him or for him because he sounded like he could be very demanding at times. Nevertheless, the guy had a commitment to winning and that's what it's really all about.

I said already by the end of the year Howard will most likey have ended up more valuable than utley.

I hope JW's assessment is correct: "Howard has evolved and has lots and lots of time to keep producing. Personally, I like what Howard has done: slimmed down, better contact, fewer strikeouts instead of going into his thirties heavier and striking out 200 times. My thought is he's setting himself up to stay productive into his mid-late thirties this way."

But count me among those that preferred the Howard that hit 50 HRs a year instead of the one on pace for a low 30s output, even with the higher average. Ideally his better contact will start to come with more power in the 2nd half to create a new super-Howard. We'll see.

@JW Forget all this/that Howard nonsense...where in philly can you get a good fried clam roll sandwich?

Heather...Not sure what the difference between working for or under someone means...oh wait I get it..you literally mean under him...its good to be the boss :)

Cantu is a pretty bad fielder at third.

I'd take either him or Ross over Ben F.

fun quote of the day (courtesy of the AP)

"This will be Charlie's second straight year to try to beat that stupid American League jinx," Phillies chairman Bill Giles said of the Philadelphia and NL skipper, Charlie Manuel. "Charlie, your job's on the line, man."

not to stir the pot, but for all this talk about howard's improved defense, his advanced fielding stats (UZR -3.2 UZR/150 -5.6) and errors 9 say otherwise.

like everyone else, i presume, my eyes tell me differently, but the numbers is what the numbers is. (small sample size disclaimer)

Brian g

His hr/fb rates are low for him. If they go back to 30% super Howard is possible

I'm not sure I understand the praise the Ryan Howard gets. He's a great top-tier player, but Albert Pujols is light years ahead of Howard and always will be. Phillies fans should accept Howard for who he is, good but not unbelievably so. Unfortunately, Ryan's massive contract was too large and will be an albatross for the Phillies for years.

But if we're looking at what he's done this year, I'd like to point out that along with the increase in average comes a big decrease in walks and a 10 point drop in OBP compared to last year as a result of fewer walks. That goes hand in hand with a decrease in SLG that leads to a 70 point drop in OPS.

Ignoring the fact that people think Howard flips a switch in the second half of the season, his lower OPS seems to come from a change in his approach at the plate. Howard is swinging out of the zone more this year and swinging in the zone less, even though his overall swing rate is consistent with previous years. This is probably where the decrease in walks comes from. His contact is up all around, which can be accounted for in his decrease in K%. But if Howard is making more contact with pitches outside the zone, that's probably weaker contact, leading to more singles than 2Bs and HRs. More swinging outside the zone will also mean that Howard is taking fewer balls and getting fewer walks which is where his drop in OBP comes from.

Personally I prefer the higher K% Howard, because more HRs > more singles, even in a SABR oriented world (as evidenced by his drop in OPS).

Why can't we praise someone b/c X player is better? Can't we just praise someone for their own accomplishment(s)? Some of you guys/gals are absolute morons, I'm sorry.

Howard is a very good baseball player.

I obviously strongly disagree with the notion that he is "under-appreciated" (I actually think people in Philadelphia tend to overrate him--take a look at where national analysts place him in the ranks of today's stars), but he is one of the best power hitters in the game and one of the key cogs to a Phillies offense that has been the best in team history over the last few years.

Do I think he's worth the money he's going to be paid in 2016? God no. Do I want him on my team right now? Absolutely. I hope he tears it up in the 2nd half and leads the Phils charge to a 4th straight division title.

euphronius: "His hr/fb rates are low for him. If they go back to 30% super Howard is possible"
Unless the reason his hr/fb rates are low is because he's just trying to put the ball in play more.

Also, JW, would this post have read any differently had Charlie chosen the clearly deserving Joey Votto over Howard for the All-Star spot?

It seems odd to write about him through the lens of an All-Star when the selection was made pretty much solely because Charlie was the manager.

"And a better method besides war is. . . .?"

wOBA. only for offensive performance, but since WAR uses UZR which is not exactly "science", you might as well just take defense out of the equation, quantatively speaking at least.

Hey Conshy, does wOBA take ballpark out of the equation, such that a player like Howard is actually penalized for hitting in a samllish park that gives up HR at a higher rate than somewhere else?

If this were my site, this quote from BedBeard would go right below the logo:

"Some of you guys/gals are absolute morons, I'm sorry."

The Oyster House. Served on potato roll. Side of corn with old bay. $15. Good little deal.

Pujols is arguably the best hitter in 50 years...comparing anyone to him is unfair. Pujols is also likely going to end up as one of the Top 10-20 position players of all time. If Howard didn't play in the same era as him, he'd get alot less criticism.

Jack

Howard also got the second most votes at first, right?

I think they pay attention to that.


Brian G

The lower hr/fb could indeed be the result of swinging at crappier pitches rather than luck.

FWIW, Howard is 3" taller than Utley . . . . .

Max, i don't believe ballpark factors in to wOBA. then again, neither does wind speed/direction, pitcher ability, or outfielder jumpability. it's hard to judge every event of every game and make a stat to define them all as a whole. i like wOBA slighly better than OPS, but they're both fine.

"@JW Forget all this/that Howard nonsense ... where in Philly can you get a good fried clam roll sandwich?"

Yer damn skippy, I was wondering the very same!

Nevermind. Just saw the response. On my way out the door right now ...

::"This will be Charlie's second straight year to try to beat that stupid American League jinx," Phillies chairman Bill Giles said of the Philadelphia and NL skipper, Charlie Manuel. "Charlie, your job's on the line, man."::

The only difference is if George Steinbrenner was managing the team, Charlie actually would be fired if he didn't win the All Star game.

"Why can't we praise someone b/c X player is better? Can't we just praise someone for their own accomplishment(s)?"

Imagine if this same rule applied when it comes to saying that a player sucks. Beerleaguer would have come to an end on the day we got rid of Eric Bruntlett.

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