The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Monday, June 18, 2007

 

Hip Hip Jorge and other Bronx Tales

Lovely win for Yankees last night to take round two of the Subway Series against a reeling Mets club that looks as though all nine players are channeling Jay Payton's brain waves. Seriously, Carlos Delgado forgetting how many outs there were was just one more ugly moment for a team that's been in vaporlock for the past couple weeks; having watched them against the Dodgers I've seen plenty of the Mets during their slide.

Chien-Ming Wang's career-high 10 strikeouts were impressive, showcasing his much-improved slider and change-up but perhaps also a byproduct of his struggling opponents; the sight of Jose Reyes corkscrewing himself into the ground on the latter in the eighth and then trying not to crack up was worth the price of admission, but it also speaks volumes as to how out of whack the Mets' heads are these days.

The Yankee offense looked in fine form, piling the late-inning runs on in true Bronx Bomber fashion (always good to leave a footprint on your opponent's neck). I missed a live viewing of Alex Rodriguez's monster home run, but then I've seen plenty of those lately; over his last 14 games, the kid is hitting .412/.492/.961 with eight homers, and he's been having great at-bats all over the place.

Also nice to see Jorge Posada rip that eighth-inning short-porch special, which came shortly after I saw his ESPN promo for the first time. Today I took a quick JAWS-flavored look at Hip Hip Jorge's budding Hall of Fame case over at Baseball Prospectus Unfiltered. The short version is that his peak is about average among Hall of Fame catchers but that he'll probably need two excellent or three solid seasons after this one to reach the career WARP levels, no sure thing for a catcher who turns 36 in August. Still, it's pretty impressive that he's even on the Cooperstown radar.

Update: There's much discussion of what I had to say about Posada over at Bronx Banter. I've got about a post or two worth of comments in there myself, some pertaining to Thurman Munson, and a couple of charts whose formatting got messed up, so I'll repost here.

The first is a ranking of the 32 catchers under discussion according to Fielding Runs Above Average. Sparky Anderson famously dissed Munson after the 1976 World Series by telling a reporter, "Don't ever embarrass anybody by comparing him to Johnny Bench," but his boy is no longer the benchmark by which defensive catchers should be judged:
Player           FRAA
Ivan Rodriguez 200
Gary Carter 149
Yogi Berra 145
Johnny Bench 142
Tony Pena 127
Del Crandall 123
Gabby Hartnett 113
Bill Dickey 111
Buck Ewing 100
Ray Schalk 98
Jim Sundberg 95
Lance Parrish 89
Charlie Bennett 83
Thurman Munson 79
Roy Campanella 74
Mickey Cochrane 58
Darrell Porter 54
Carlton Fisk 47
Jorge Posada 34
Benito Santiago 32
Bill Freehan 28
Javy Lopez 20
Rick Ferrell 14
Jason Kendall 2
Joe Torre -2
Gene Tenace -5
Deacon White -11
Ted Simmons -23
Wally Schang -51
Roger Bresnahan -72
Ernie Lombardi -126
Mike Piazza -150
The second is the other side of the coin, the best hitters among catchers according to Equivalent Average, a rate stat which measures relative offensive ability, with park and league adjustments built in. EqA is essentially runs created per out, adjusted to a batting average-like scale. Slugging and ability to get on base are in there, as they are in OPS+. A .260 EqA is defined average, a .300 is outstanding, .230 is replacement level (note: the previously published version of this at BB and here used the wrong version -- adjusted for season, rather than adjusted for all-time -- of the stat. The correction helps Posada considerably.):
Player            EqA
Mike Piazza .315
Gene Tenace .309
Joe Torre .298
Jorge Posada .298
Bill Dickey .295
Mickey Cochrane .295
Ernie Lombardi .295
Johnny Bench .292
Gabby Hartnett .292
Roy Campanella .292
Roger Bresnahan .289
Yogi Berra .288
Carlton Fisk .285
Wally Schang .285
Ivan Rodriguez .284
Ted Simmons .284
Thurman Munson .282
Darrell Porter .282
Gary Carter .281
Buck Ewing .281
Javy Lopez .279
Bill Freehan .277
Jason Kendall .277
Deacon White .276
Charlie Bennett .273
Lance Parrish .271
Del Crandall .263
Rick Ferrell .261
Benito Santiago .256
Jim Sundberg .255
Tony Pena .248
Ray Schalk .246
Note that Piazza ranks last with the leather and fist with the lumber. If I were to "zero out" his defense, giving him credit for league-average defense every year, his numbers would shift from 97.5 career WARP/66.1 Peak WARP/81.8 JAWS to 114.9/69.9/92.4, which would put him in the Bench-Carter-Rodriguez-Berra group, the crème de la crème of catchers. His lousy defense has that big an impact on his case by my system, but it won't keep him from Cooperstown.

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