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Monday, February 21, 2011


Thank God we got Carp back.

From the previous thread:

Jack, seems we agree. Howard could go either way. I guess the difference between us is that I'll not be ringing alarm bells after 1 down year where he was injured.

i don't think lee's side is really an "issue". maybe something else will be but this particular injury is gone. he's pitching tuesday. they wouldn't be doing that if he was actually hurt

The other lesson: Any injury, no matter how slight or how far in the distant past, will be blown out of proportion if it affects any of our fearsome foursome.

st: How do you know it's gone? Maybe it is just sleeping.

Hey JW, are you applying to write for Hustler? First Coutlangus and now references to Wilt the Stilt's unit!

The phantom Baez injury killed me!

clout, is it sleeping or just hibernating?

awh: Also, it's not that ISO is a "be-all, end-all" stat. It's just, and I think everyone here would acknowledge, what makes Ryan Howard great is his power. That's what he has.

Look, if he were a great defensive CF with an OBP of .400, he could have an ISO of .001, for all I care. But he's not. He's a power-hitting 1B. For him to be great, that's what he has to do.

is it hibernating or is it dormant?

Yeah... .316, .292, .292 is a precipitous decline for our power-hitting first baseman! Panic ensues!

Everyone knows what happened last year. He suffered an injury that caused him to miss time and then lingered. That meant a guy who's a 2nd half slugger didn't slug much in the 2nd half.

Lies, damned lies and statistics.

Jack, Aaron is not an isolated case and neither is Stargell. Go look at Frank Howard. His ISO dropped 4 straight years from ages 27 - 30. It then exploded.

Perhaps it has nothing to do with the players body type or age, and has more to do with how pitchers will approach a hitter differently through the course of his career and the hitter's ability to make adjustments, as Howard was attempting to do last season (and seemed to have solved things in the 100 or so PA before he got injured.)

And we agree - it's his power. But to quote you...ISO is a "descriptive" stat, not a "predictive" one.

Just go look at the careers of the guys I listed. You'll see.

Great post about the 2010 injuries. Funky slides, a hit by pitch, a stray swing of a bat, and a temper tantrum. The old age/injury prone "future telling" by many to try and curb the enthusiasm of this team are overstated I believe.

And as smartly pointed out in the post, there will be injuries - but nothing that would indicate the Phils are cursed with them more than any other team.

Printed on this year's seasons tickets:


*Hamels photo in his daygame cap - a foreshadow to the official end of his vampire'ness I hope.

awh: Look, we've established that we're both in agreement. Howard could go either way. And I do think he'll bounce back this year (as I've posted numerous times).

The problem with your analysis, though, is that all you've done really is say "look, here's a bunch of great players that did great things, like bounce back from declines and hit great after 30." No one denies that if you look at a list of HOF players, you'll see those sorts of things.

The issue is that only one of those guys, McCovey, is actually on Howard's list of comparable players. The rest of the list is guys like Richie Sexson, Mo Vaughn, Cecil Fielder, etc. You've totally ignored that there is an enormous dataset of players who HAVEN'T gone on to have HOF careers after age 30. Self-selecting for the best players is obviously going to give you a trend for the better--by definition, the guys you've chosen had great careers after 30.

awh: Which is a long-winded way of saying, you've shown that it is *possible* for Howard to have a long, sustained period of excellence following a brief decline like those guys.

We're no further, though, in assessing how likely that probability actually is.

Iorcore: Did you miss the part where JW wrote "injuries actually happen, and seem to happen more with age."

I don't think that post meant what you think it meant.

Jack: But 2010 shouldnt be categorized as just the Phillies showing signs of age.

But I took JW's post as: The Philles will show thier age in 2011 and injuries will happen. The oblique strains, blown tires, and pulled muscles will be there - BUT it would be unlikely that the events of 2010 take place again.

MLB ISO Leaders from 2008-2010:

1. Albert Pujols - .304
2. Ryan Howard - .273
3. Adam Dunn - .271
4. Carlos Pena - .255
5. Jose Bautista - .253

So yeah, I think its being overblown. 2nd best ISO in all of baseball in the last 3 years.

Jack, I purposely didn't pick players who all had HOF or "great" careers. Frank Howard was finished at 36. So were others.

Why did you mention Sexson, Fielder and Vaughn? Sexson? Look what happened to him after they started testing (and yes, I'm insinuating). Vaughn and Fielder? Fat slobs who let their bodies go and their careers decended into the netherworld.

You mentioned McCovey, but not the others on Howard's comp list who had productive careers into their 30's.

Besides, I have issues with the "similar" players list anyway. Norm Cash was 6',185, and hit 40 HRs exactly ONCE. Is he really "similar" to Howard?

So let's just agree to agree that we have to see how it plays out.

As I've said, Howard, like any player, could drop off the table. Based on his work ethic, etc. I wouldn't bet on it.

Well someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed today

awh: Sure, and there's other examples like Fred McGriff, who was a fantastic athlete that took great care of his body, and, other than two very good seasons at age 35 and 37, came nowhere close in his 30s to matching his 20s. McGriff age 23-30: 153 OPS+. Age 31-40: 119 OPS+.

Again, agree to agree we'll see how it plays out. I just think your analysis was inherently flawed because you're self-selecting guys whose careers you want Howard's to follow, and ignoring guys who for whatever subjective reason you think aren't relevant. It's not exactly rigorous (though I understand you weren't claiming it to be.)

Again, we'll see what happens. I think Howard has a good year this year, near .275/.360/.560.

Jack, Howard is an historic player where HR power is concerned. Thus, I compared him to historic players.

The fact that you choose to focus your concerns on non-historic players is where the disconnect in your analysis occurs.

FWIW, Bill James projects a .271 ISO for Howard in 2011.

That would have placed him 7th in the Majors in 2010.

James also projects him to post an OPS of .915.

Marcel is a bit more pessimistic in both categories with .244 and .848 respectively.

The other lesson: Any injury, no matter how slight or how far in the distant past, will be blown out of proportion if it affects any of our fearsome foursome.

No, the other lesson is that the front office won't be honest about injuries even during the offseason.

Comparing players is sort of fruitless as it presupposes that one player can be characterized by another player.

There is a possibility that Howard steeply declines in the next few years where he becomes a shell of himself like some of the other "comparables." There is a possibility that he doesn't and has a career like some of his better "comparables."

A list containing guys like Vaughn, Sexson, and Fielder though isn't a fair comparison. Really it's hard to compare guys right now with guys who played entirely in the steroid era.

Guys like Fielder and Vaughn though were big sluggish guys who were not known for keeping themselves in shape. Howard has shown that he cares about that aspect of his game and works to come into camp lighter and more fit. I don't know how that translates in the future to his game, but I have a feeling it means his decline will not be an effect of him being a sloth.

Go look at a photo of Mo Vaughn...then go look at a photo of Ryan Howard.

Other than them both being African American baseball players, they literally have nothing in common when it comes to body type.

NEPP: True, but Howard doesn't have anything in common with Lou Gehrig or Hank Aaron in terms of body type, and that didn't stop awh from using them as comparisons.

For that matter, he doesn't have much in common with Willie McCovey besides being 6'4 and Africa-American. McCovey played 40 lbs. lighter than Howard.

I dont disagree with that either. However, those that tend to predict a swift demise to Howard's abilities continually point to his "body type" when doing so. Howard is one of the most athletic big men in all of baseball...a fact shown by his 13 triples in the past 3 seasons (4,4,5 in 08,09,10 respectively).

The man is in fantastic shape and he takes care of himself.

CJ: You can't mention that Howard's decline could have been caused by the injury on here. That kind of logical response gets quickly dismissed.

TTI: Did the injury have something to do with the low numbers? Yes, I think we can safely say that. He did not hit well after coming back. Can we take that to mean he would've had a great season without the injury? No, I don't think we can. You can't assume a counter-factual being true. On the day of his injury, he was slugging .528, which would still have been the lowest of his career.

I don't come on here to argue about Ryan Howard (really, I don't). And I've already stated about a thousand times that I think he will bounce back this year. But according to Clout and TTI, it is my duty to correct bad logic when I see it. And it's all over the place here.

Howard always hits better in the 2nd half...particularly Sept. There's no real reason to suspect 2010 would have been different had that not occurred last year too.

NEPP, are those "projections" influenced by 2010?

Howard's Slugging as of 1 August by year (final SLG):

2010: .528 (.505)
2009: .535 (.571)
2008: .494 (.543)
2007: .594 (.584)
2006: .615 (.659)
2005: .488 (.567)

So, Howard has played 6 nearly full seasons in the Majors. In four of them, he has posted significantly higher SLG totals from his number as of 1 August. Last year he declined and in 2007, he dropped off just 10 points from his 1 Aug number.

Odds are, if healthy, Howard would have had a similar hot couple of months.

***NEPP, are those "projections" influenced by 2010?***

I can only assume that they are.

Jack: But people don't say, "Well he had an ISO decline the past 4 years BUT this past year he was injured quite a bit." They say, "Decline in ISO the past 4 years." that qualifier is needed. It's needed because
Howard has historically been a big second half producer. The ankle injury affected his playing time and then affected his game on the field. An ankle injury doesn't just go away. It gets rehabbed to a point where you can play on it without a constant threat of wrecking it. But then it flares up from time to time and it affects what you can do. I can speak from experience there. My guess is that he missed the 15 days, and then went through another 15 or so days where his ankle limited exactly what he could do. If you look at his numbers- in 2008, for August and September, he hit 18 home runs. Same in 2009. Last year he hit 8.

Just mentioning his ISO decline without the qualifier is being intellectually dishonest.

Also note that I said "You can't say his decline COULD have been caused by his injury." I wasn't saying he would've had a great year regardless, but in your haste to jump on something I said you made yourself look foolish.

Jack, Ryan Howard had a niticably different approach in 2010 where he seemed to be trying to cut the K's and make more contact.

Was his diminished power at the beginning of the season a result of the new approach, or a result of him precipitiously declining from one year to the next?

By June 27rd his SLG was .507, and his OPS was .857. He was far off his career norms. Then, for the first time in his career, he went through a 10 game stretch where he hit no HR. None. Still, his slash line in those games was .316/.357/.500 in 42 PA.

The, things changed dramatically. From July 7th until he was hurt, he hit 8 HR in 97 PA and put up this line: .280/.381/.622. That sure looks like a loss of power, no?

Then, injury.

I'll stick my neck out. Howard will have a BIG rebound year.

Wait for Prediction Day to find out how big. :)

Alby: Did the front office lie about Cliff Lee's injury? The first I saw about it was this weekend when twitter blew up with an injury that was no longer affecting him. Or are you considering it a lie that the front office didn't hold a press conference the moment the injury was discovered to tell the world about it?

NEPP: Great find on Howard's SLG on Aug 1 and Final. Says what awh is trying to say - only in about 100 less posts, 10000 less words, and 95% less nonsense.

Jason, your writing is getting progressively wittier - in a tastefully subtle style, without self-consciously straining for comedy, a la Jayson Stark. Maybe the better word is 'pithy'. It's just fun to read. Bravo.

CJ: I'm saying that the front office is tight-lipped about the health of its players, even during the offseason. Unless you bet on the games, I don't suppose it much matters, but for several years now some Beerleaguers have kept track of this sort of "dishonesty" (or if you prefer, lack of forthrightness) when it comes to injuries.

So, we're gunning for 116 wins, huh? Gotta love J-Roll:

I guess I expected him to say, "We'll win 89 games and miss out on the post-season." Right?

Jack: I'm confused. Are you saying an ISO of .292 is BAD?

NEPP - It really is after Sept 1 that Howard's SLG really climbs northwards. Even last year, his numbers the final 2 months were dampened by his horrendous first 2 weeks back. After that, he started to hit again albeit not as he has in previous Sept.

This really is a 2nd-half offensive team. Only hitter who has notably better numbers in the 1st half is Utley because of his declining power numbers.

Looking forward to a bunch of 3-2 or 4-3 games in the early going.

****NEPP - It really is after Sept 1 that Howard's SLG really climbs northwards. Even last year, his numbers the final 2 months were dampened by his horrendous first 2 weeks back. After that, he started to hit again albeit not as he has in previous Sept. ****

Yeah I know but awh used 1 Aug as that was the day Howard hit the DL last year so I figured I'd use that date for my counter-argument. It still proved the point I think.

Per PhuturePhillies (from Zolecki), Carpenter is going to the bullpen and will work as a reliever in 2011.

So who's our 8th starter now?!?

Hahahaha, phlipper, err locore, calling someone out for "nonsense". LMAO.

Clout: No, let me be clear. A .292 ISO is very, very good.

If Howard continues to do that every season, he will be fine (although he still needs to reverse his declining walk rate--we both agree on that, no?).

The concern is any signs that it would go much lower. As I noted before, Howard is a power-hitting 1B. He doesn't provide a ton of OBP, he doesn't provide any great defense, and he doesn't provide any extra baserunning ability. Nor does he hit for a high average.

Power is what he does. He needs to be elite in that category to be a great player.

awh: i agree with your overall opinion most of the time, but usually end up arguing with you because of all of the avenues you take to get to your point, many times way off tangent like Howard's OPS during 42 HRless PA.

So maybe not nonsense, but just a lot of filler.

Career ISO for MLB Players With At Least 3500 PAs:

1. Babe Ruth - .348
2. Mark McGwire - .325
3. Barry Bonds - .309
4. Ryan Howard - .293
5. Albert Pujols - .293

Tied for 4th all time. That's pretty much the definition of elite.

Whenever there's someone complimenting Howard for something, Jack swoops in and admonishes them for not acknowledging that his career might end up like Mo Vaughn's. It's BL tradition.

NEPP: Yes, his pure power has been elite. No one is arguing that.

I hope it stays that way, is all I'm saying, because he brings less to the table than any of those guys. People say McGwire was a one-dimensional player--his career OBP is over .20 points higher than Howard's.

If the power goes, Howard's value goes. That's the whole point, and the reason why any signs of decline warrant close inspection. It's not blasphemy to say so.

When is Clout day this year?

Jack: Yes, McGwire's OBP improved quite a bit once the andro took hold. One-dimensional? Try triple threat. He could homer, walk AND juice.

Jason, your writing is getting progressively wittier - in a tastefully subtle style, without self-consciously straining for comedy, a la Jayson Stark. Maybe the better word is 'pithy'. It's just fun to read. Bravo.

Posted by: RSB

On the other hand, I wince when I read a word that is misused even by a sports columnist. It should be "moral of the story," not "morale." The former has to do with ethics and the latter with spirit.

Reverend: March 20th. That's the day when there's enough information about spring training performance to make modestly intelligent comments.

I want more posts by Alby. I thought he was on the BL payroll like me.

I miss Lake Fred.

I miss double h...

Ya Heard?

Knew getting Eddie Bonine was a smooth move! He threw knuckleball batting practice today! Howard, Mayberry, and Valdez were the victims according to Matt Gelb.

Great now we've managed to shatter our lineup's confidence in practice rather than waiting to face Wakefield & Dickey.

I've been trolling BLer for about 3-4 seasons now, but I'm still unsure why we call it clout day.

Someone please explain?

I miss regular season baseball.

"Whenever there's someone complimenting Howard for something, Jack swoops in and admonishes them for not acknowledging that his career might end up like Mo Vaughn's. It's BL tradition."

Iceman, it's downright predictable. Cecil Fileder, another fat slob, is another guy Jack consistently brings up. It's as though Jack lives in an alternate universe where Howard hasn't changed his diet and lost dozens of pounds since joining the team.

I also find it interesting that Jack only uses the players of Howard's "body type" who are African American. No mention of big guys like Boog Powell who's career also fell of a cliff at about 33(good ribs though).

awh - Jack probably thinks Strawberry is a great comp for Dom Brown, based on that reasoning.

"Clout Day has come and gone on Beerleaguer, marking the unofficial date that it’s acceptable to measure spring training performance and draw educated conclusions.

On Saturday while many Beerleaguers were enjoying the nice weather, the calendar flipped to March 20, known as Clout Day in these parts. Clout Day started three years ago when Clout (artist rendering right) tried to curb reader enthusiasm over meaningless spring training stats. " -JW, 2010 (

Hallmark of BL Threads:
Header talks about the likelihood of injuries in the current year, holding up the especialy fragile Mister Lee; thereafter follows a gazillion posts on Howards ISO.

I hope we're not peaking too early.

Darryl's rookie yaer: .257/.336/.512 with 26 HR 74 RBI in 473 PA.

Sign me up!

*Strawberry was 21 his rookie year, Dom will be 23.

double h posts over at The Good Phight from time to time, IIRC.

Shawn, bad link withthe parentheses.

Next time leave them out.

awh: I used Richie Sexson before.

Actually though, I generally ignore the body-type issue (which is why I could use both Sexson and Vaughn, who had radically different bodies). I think it's a red herring. There's a wide variety of body types that can and can't be successful in major-league baseball. I don't buy the argument that Howard is likely to decline early because of his body type, nor do I buy that his losing weight ensures that he'll be a star throughout his 30s.

I should say, I'm sure those things (body type and shape) do obviously impact performance in some way, at least at the margin.

I'm positive, however, that no one here knows in what way those things actually affect performance and by how much. So using them as an input in any analysis is an obvious flaw that should at least be acknowledged, if not ignored.

Random Ibanez quotes:

"It was great," Ibanez said about the offseason. "I had never been sledding. That was the first time. That was a lot of fun. I jumped on one of those little sleds, I went down a hill, which is brilliant. Whoever came up with that -- phenomenal. That was so cool. The kids loved it. I enjoyed doing it.

"It was cold. At times, I felt like Rocky Balboa when he was fighting Drago in Russia, training in the snow. I did have that feeling. But I didn't have the leather jacket with the sheep thing going [on the collar]."


Murphy says Worley is "The Vanimal".

Will a Mad Dog and a Vanimal occupy the Phillies 'pen in 2011?

"Jack probably thinks Strawberry is a great comp for Dom Brown"

Actually, it is hardly unusual for scouts to make comparisons based largely on body type. I have heard the Brown-Strawberry comparison made on more than one occasion.

I actually saw some side by side video breakdown of Brown's swing to Strawberry's on mlb network and they looked fairly similar. Now that's not to say its the best comp for Brown, but it looks to be based on more than just body type.

Strawberry was an 8 time All-Star by the time he turned 30.

Then the wings came off and his addictions destroyed him. He would have probably finished as a HOF guy had he not tossed his career away.

Strawberry was a much bigger prospect than Brown. As NEPP noted if Strawberry kept clean he would have been one of the greats.

Zoomer, the same is true for Dwight Gooden.

That dumbass snorted his career up his nose as well.

Gooden after his age 25 season:

119 - 46, 2.82 ERA, 1523 IP, 1391 K, 1.136 WHIP.

Oops, should say "Gooden, at the conclusion of his age 25 season".

awh - character counts and should be factored into drafting/signing along with talent. Let Gooden and Strawberry be cautionary tales.

MisterZoomer: I absolutely agree with you. This is one of the reasons the Phillies were willing to give a 125 million to Ryan Howard.

Zoomer, agree.

Off post topic here... Does anyone know where (preferably online) to get window decals that stick to the inside of the rear window?

Davey Johnson (and Tom Boswell) on Strawberry's development in today's Washington Post profile on Bryce Harper:

<< "I like everything about Bryce. I told him to keep having fun and express that talent," said Johnson, who managed Darryl Strawberry in Class AAA briefly in 1983 before the Mets brought him up to the majors, "probably too soon," to sell tickets. Though he had turned 21, Strawberry never had the polish to hit for average (.259 career), and his rush to the majors may have limited him to being a slugger with holes in his swing.>>

Cocaine is a helluva drug.

Hey, if you told me Dom Brown's career would match the Straw's - including all the cocaine/off field problems - Still sign me up.

+300HR, 1000RBI, +200 SB, 138 OPS+, tons of arrests and a drug addiction.

I'll take that from Dom anyday.

Mister Zoomer is correct. Strawberry, out of a HS in South L.A., was considered the best prospect in the nation and was taken #1 in the 1980 draft.

Brown was never ranked that high.

I'm not sure Strawberry would've ever hit for a high average because, like most power hitters, he struck out a lot and he walked a lot. His game was OB, speed and power and he was a fine defensive outfielder until coke caught up with him in the late '80s.

Even so, he finished with a career OPS+ of 138, which is pretty close to Howard's career OPS+. Straw's OPS+ through his age 26 season was 149.

Darryl would have been a HOF if not for the coke. He was a fantastic player.

Daryl Strawberry was a monster on "RBI Baseball".

Yes, I should clarify my earlier post. I have never heard any scout say that Brown is as good a prospect as Strawberry was, nor have I ever heard any scout predict that Brown will be as good a major leaguer as Strawberry was. I HAVE heard Brown compared to Strawberry, but only in the sense that they have the same body type and general skill set.

lorecore - The overall point I'm trying to make is projecting Strawberry's career onto Brown is wishcasting. Look at the OPS+ he posted from age 21 to 29. Anyone who thinks Brown can do that, even at 23, is being too optimistic. Brown can be good and maybe even great, but to make that comparison now is waaaaaay premature.

The alternate version of Split Needles is the best The Shins song. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Zoomer - exactly, thats why I'm saying I would be absolutely thrilled is Dom Brown had anywhere near the success of the Straw.

As I recall, when Von Hayes was a prospect he was compared to Ted Williams because of body type and swing.

Outside of 80 points of OPS+ and 220 points of SLG, there really wasn't much difference.

clout, good one!

Von Hayes actually is probably one of the most underrated Phils' players of the last 30+ years. Liked him as a kid and never understood half of the abuse he got. Wasn't his fault the team wouldn't spend, their prospects were largely flops during his tenure, and they generally had little quality starting pitching. He was was a good guy who was just rather quiet and kind of boring.

Traded for Ruben Amaro.

Per Jayson Werth: If the Phillies never traded Cliff Lee, then they could have signed him for cheaper and used those savings to sign Werth past this season.

Unless Werth was planning on giving the Phillies a hometown discount only if Lee was on board, how could he really believe that?

lorecore - I agree. I'm pretty sure the reason they didn't sign Cliff Lee is because he wanted the same deal he'd get in the open market.

Plus, if I'm not mistaken, Halladay would have been a FA this past offseason without that trade. Who is to say they don't go and pay him an open market deal and pass over Werth again?

lorecore, where did Werth say THAT? Pretty stupid comment, though it probably DID shock him that about a week after he signed the Phillies brought Lee back. sound to me like he may be regretting his decision to go for the money.

If he expected the Nats to somehow contend in the next couple of years I think he was kidding himself, even if the Phillies hadn't brought Lee back.

Money has a way of coloring people's judgement.

Jayson will be a very rich man who will be playing golf at home the next few Octobers.

I wonder if he'll then think taking top dollar was worth it?

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