General Baseball

Some Random Musings

1. Interesting article here at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required), contending that Eric Chavez isn’t even worth what the A’s have just agreed to pay him. Particularly interesting is a section on Chavez’ performance against lefties, which is truly abysmal. Joe Sheehan, in the article, contends that Chavez, without improvement, really doesn’t deserve to play against such lefties, that at current levels he’s really a platoon player. It’s a radical thought, that a player conventionally accepted to be a star on the rise, an $11m per year player at that, wouldn’t be qualified to play full-time.

2. I was thinking about my impression of switch-hitters. I have, in my head, this image of a player (I think it might be Carl Everett, which may explain where I am going with this) who can hit pretty solidly from one side of the plate, but really really stinks from the other. I have historically wondered why that player doesn’t stick to one side of the plate, and just get better, say, at hitting lefties while hitting lefty. Heck, if they can hit .300 against righties when batting lefty but turn around to bat righty against lefty but only barely crack .250 then why not work in the cage, in the offseason, on the lefty/lefty matchup? But then I started looking at last year’s switch hitters in the AL and NL, and noticed that almost all of them are remarkably consistent. From Posada to Chipper Jones to Carlos Beltran (and even Carl Everett!) the differential from one side of the plate to the other was much smaller than I thought it would be. My bias against the weak-from-one-side switch hitter, at least last year, was unfounded. More statistical searching to come, as I want to know why I have this bias.

3. John Stirling is a mediocrity, really, not a good announcer at all. Lucky him, he’s got a big-time radio voice to make up for what he lacks in baseball smarts.

4. Jerry Remy is a highly underrated announcer. Problem is, he’s got a brain for a national TV audience but the voice for local cable.

5. Saw the Yankees landed safely in Tokyo. Another birthday wish down the toilet.

6. Yearly predictions tomorrow – time to make an even bigger ass of myself!

3 replies on “Some Random Musings”

Prospectus might not be in favor of that Chavez deal, but the sabermatricians at Baseball Primer have a different view. As they note, it is Tejada, and not Chavez, who has most likely had his “career” year. So there is a potential for some huge numbers from Chavez. Moreover, it is not too uncommon for a player to improve his hitting versus his weak side as he grows older. So if Chavez does improve his hitting against lefties, he will dramatically improve his overall value. And this is to say nothing of his defensive ability, especially crucial as a rookie replaces Tejada at short. So, how this fits into a dollar-for-production question is another story, but that’s something Beane has always been expert at calculating, and the fact is that the A’s do have some room to work with over the next few years.

The Prospectus article fully acknowledged Chavez’ age – it just supposed that so far he hasn’t justified his place as a full timer, and that if he doesn’t improve against lefties, which the story also acknowledges he could, that he’s a platoon player. It didn’t presume he won’t be worth the value of the contract eventually. To me it seemed that the article questioned the conventional wisdom that Beane is holding onto Chavez at fair or better than fair value – even I posted something to that effect, and this analysis is an interesting counter to my own initial reaction.

I haven’t read the Prospectus piece, so it’s not really fair for me to comment (it’s also been a while since I read the Primer article). However, I would note a bit of circular logic: how can Chavez improve against lefties if he’s platooned? You can’t have it both ways. In a larger perspective, outside of A-Rod, who’s a wildcard, he’s far and away the best player at his position in the AL. Defensively, no other player is in his class. How about this for a stat: Chavez had 80 more chances than any other AL player at his position. Even noting the massive foul territory in Oakland, that’s a big differential. So there’s clearly tremendous value in having him in at ALL times. And seeing as most of the AL’s best lefties are on the A’s….you can see where Beane is coming from.

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