Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Another BP Hit Piece on Sabean

[NOTE:  wrote this back in November when the BP article came out, but never got back to finishing it until now, when looking at prior drafts that were unpublished]

It never ends with BP and their hit pieces on Sabean.  Here is their latest (hat tip to Shankbone).  I have not forgiven BP for their 2010 Annual chapter on the Giants advocating that Brian Sabean be fired as GM for the Giants.  I'm sure you will never see that emblazoned on the cover of their book, "We recommended that the GM who put together two World Championships in three years - the first NL team to do it since the Reds in the 70's and only the third NL team in the last 90 years - should have been fired."  I've looked at their 2011 and 2012 annuals to see if they apologized for that but so far no.  Maybe in 2013?  Finally?  Probably not, given this article.

This column is named "Punk Hits" and really, it is aptly named.  This is the perfect example of why I say that it is best to have analysts following one team writing articles because when you get a generalist in, or worse, someone who just don't care (see the column name), because they don't have the full story, and yet they will influence a wide swatch of also unknowing people, essentially, the blind leading the blind.  That's why I feel the burden to defend Sabean vociferously on the Internet, because people insists on writing on something that they either do not know or do not care about or both.  For this author, it seems to be both.

I'll start with "The Good".  How anyone can write anything that is meant to be taken seriously (and since it is BP, a lot of people take their word seriously) and not mention getting Jeff Kent, Robb Nen, and Jason Schmidt in trade for the good, is beyond me.  And then in discussing people who played huge roles in winning the 2012 World Series, he leaves out Ryan Vogelsong and Brandon Belt, as both were drafted/signed by the Giants too.

In "The Bad", he acknowledges that he don't know about Zito's situation, spending a whole big paragraph on it, when he don't even believe it is Sabean's fault.   That's where having an analyst who actually follows the team is invaluable, because Andy Baggarly broke the news a year or two ago that it was Magowan who was the one pushing to sign Zito to that contract, not Sabean.  End of story.  Would have saved half that paragraph, I think.

It would also help to know that every team has a lifecycle and that the lean year in the mid-2000's was due to the good years from 1997 to 2004, which made the mid-2000's a lean period.  It also didn't help that pitchers who looked like they would be good contributors in some way - Ainsworth, Williams, and Foppert - all failed to reach their potential.  Just like it helped that the ones who were rising in the late 2000's - Cain, Lincecum, Bumgarner, Wilson, Romo - did reach their potential (though not all went well, Lowry and Alderson didn't).

And then he gets into "The Psychology", and so he gets that noted psychologist, Grant Brisbee, head cheese over at MCC.  Grant grants that "He's a good GM.  I wouldn't have said that four years ago, but either he's changed or his luck has."

Lucky They Are Still Ignorant

And there you have it, the "luck" term again.  Really?  Is BP really going to go with the "Luck" angle on the Giants championships?  Don't they realize what a slippery slope that is?  Because every championship team has some element of luck involved, and if you make a big deal about the Giants luck, then you need to do the same for each and every one of championships that has happened in the past.  And if each championship has "luck" as a key component, then why are we bothering with following a sport that is so depended on luck?  What meaning is there when a team wins?  "We're the lucky ones!"  I really do not understand why people don't realize this.

Sure, talk about luck from a sabermetric perspective.  Yes, the Giants were above their Pythagorean, so there was some luck there by current analytical tools, as they were 6 games above their Pythagorean.  However, I can explain that one easily, Bochy had the team out performing the saber rule that teams regress to a .500 mean in one-run games, they were 10 games over .500 in that, and if you turn half of them to losses, the Giants are now only 1 game above Pythagorean.  Looks like all the luck is in that one stat.

However, as I've shown in my analysis of one-run game record for managers, Bochy is that unique manager who is capable of finishing any particular season at least 8 games above .500 in one-run games.  He has over 40% of his managerial seasons among the leaders in the NL in games above .500 and most of them were 8 games or better.  He has averaged roughly 4+ wins above .500 in one-run games during his career, making average seasons good and good seasons great for the teams he has managed.  So there was no real luck involved with the Giants in terms of Pythagorean, it was all pure Bochy managerial skills.

And I've posted this many times in Fangraphs or THT, hoping to interest any of their writers to follow up on the bread crumb that I laid out there, and do the analysis, so that it's not just the crackpot joke who ogc's people saying this, so that they do their own analysis and show the genius that is Bochy to the general baseball world.  And it is genius when you can average over 4 games over .500 in one-run games during your career, and has been among the leaders in games over .500 in nearly half of your seasons as manager, when most managers struggle to stay above .500 in one-run games.   That makes him a 4 WAR manager.

More On Naysayers

The Sabean (and Bochy) Naysayers just don't get it and apparently don't care to get it, they rather stick their head in the sand.  And that is why I wash my hands on them now, and don't really bother engaging any of their ignorant and stupid headed comments regarding Sabean or Bochy. 

It is not like I'm not open to criticism of their decisions and actions.  I do question them when I think they did something wrong (like Zito and Rowand signings), and I've questioned some of their moves here at my blog.  But the way I see it, there have been so many people questioning their moves, especially at the major Giants watering holes, but very few who seem to support their moves, at least pre-2010, that I don't bother with many of the smaller things (like game decisions or bench positions) since I assume there are already people discussing that. 

Plus, I acknowledge that I don't necessarily know everything, so I try to see it from the Giants perspective.  For example, with Zito, his contract works if inflation stayed high in baseball and brought the average salary to the $18-20M range by the end of the contract.  But the Great Recession blew that out of the water and he's still way over paid.  Also, they expected him to pitch pretty well, below 4 ERA in his early portions of the contract, and that didn't happen either.  For Rowand, he had shown good OPS for good stretches of time prior to free agency, and basically the Giants bet that with good hitting and good fielding, he'll be OK as a contract.  They bet wrong, his hitting and fielding were never that good for them, and, for him, again, it was injuries that derailed him.  That and thinking that riding a mountain bike is good fitness for a professional baseball player.

I also don't really deal with the smaller things because I've been more worried about the big picture.  I didn't view discussions about the 25th man to be very productive towards winning a World Championship, which was the concern back then.  If a mistake with the 25th man results in the Giants not making the playoffs or World Series, then I don't think that we really belong there anyway and even had we had got in, probably would have lost.  The 25th man should not be a key success factor towards winning a World Championship.

And give me counter-data.  I laid out exactly why I thought about the Giants, but instead of addressing the issue at hand, and maybe pointing out studies that are the opposite of what I was referring to, they bring up the AJ trade, or Zito signing, or Rowand signing, or Ruben Riviera being our 25th guy.  Which is not much different from the Giants in recent years, giving Uribe, Torres, Stewart, Casilla, Blanco, Arias, Vogelsong a try, or the ones who didn't make it, Velez, Guzman, Downs, Wellemeyer, Keppinger, Hall, Theriot, Loux, Hacker, Kroon.  Some make it and some don't, but the Giants were trying to find that keeper and they cut their losses quickly, which is all you can ask for.  But the Naysayers just clung to the mistakes that they saw and had no latitude for change in direction or improved success, for in their minds, once a failure, always a failure.

So I get it now, the Naysayers are never going to change their minds.  If they are so blinded by their irrational hatred for Sabean/Bochy that they are going to attribute two World Series championships in three years - something that hasn't been done in the NL since the Big Red Machine did that in the 70's, nearly 40 years of teams trying and failing - to luck, and feel entitled to make sophomore jokes at Sabean's expense - calling him a moron, essentially - then I don't know what else I can say that will change their minds. 

I've tried for over 5 seasons now, and gotten nowhere, so I truly get it.  If they don't "get" two World Series Championships, and I hate to use names or labels in such a way, but I think it is finally clear to me who the morons are.  And it isn't Sabean or Bochy. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Is the Starting Pitching Failing the Giants?

Many folks are questioning whether the Giants starting rotation is OK, saying that they have failed the team, from what I heard on the radio.  I thought I would look into that.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Curiously Strong Alchemy of S-squared P-squared

What is it about Scutaro, Sandoval, Posey, Pence batting in a row?

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Bucky Was Lucky, But Maybe He's Plucky

That's typical:  I say I'll write less then I go and write soon.  :^)  But it's baseball and baseball is my passion...

I heard a snippet of an interview of Bucky Showalter, where he was testy because the reporter brought up the fact that his 2012 Orioles were 20 games over .500 in one-run games, the best ever in MLB history.  He jokingly said that he would tape the reporter's quote to the team's lockers (to motivate players presumably).  Given my research on Bochy's record in one-run games (best in his era, by a long shot, and as his numbers are barely, but clearly, over the 95% test, he should be the only manager in his era where, assuming .500 is the true mean, as sabers say, they hypothesis test says that he is statistically significantly over .500 (how far is the real question, but he's been averaging 4 games above .500 in one-run games).

Monday, April 01, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Play Ball! Opening Day

Ah, spring training is over and the new season will begin soon.  It is exciting that the Giants are the toast of the majors, having won two championships in three seasons now, top dog to consider for at least the next few seasons, bringing back almost the entire team that group hugged its way to the top, plus the contract extensions for Sabean, Bochy, and now Buster.

Winning it all is a crapshoot, so who knows what will happen in 2013?  Predictions now are so meaningless because we won the two championships with key players who were not even with the team at the beginning of the season.  The main goal right now is making it into the crapshoot, the playoffs, and I think the Giants are in good position to do that, based on what is happening now.

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