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Believe it or not, ESPN has some good stuff out there

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Believe it or not, ESPN has some good stuff out there

Postby nuggets » Tue Jun 14, 2005 8:20 pm

Namely Rob Neyer

Pujols over Lee at first base

Sure, I could. It would be an awful lot of work, though, and there are already people doing that sort of thing. For example, over at Baseball Prospectus, they've invented all sorts of ways to evaluate hitters, all of them sophisticated and all of them plenty accurate for something like picking All-Stars. If we ignore specific outfield positions (as the actual ballot does), here are what we might call the "BP All-Stars":

Code: Select all
AMERICAN              NATIONAL

C Jason Varitek       Michael Barrett

1B Mark Teixeira      Derrek Lee

2B Brian Roberts      Chase Utley

SS Miguel Tejada      Felipe Lopez

3B Alex Rodriguez     Rob Mackowiak

OF Gary Sheffield     Bobby Abreu

OF Johnny Damon       Pat Burrell

OF Vladimir Guerrero  Miguel Cabrera


There might be a spot or two with which you could argue – maybe David Wright's playing time outweighs Rob Mackowiak's production? – but these are essentially the players who have put the most runs on the scoreboard. There's more to baseball than just that, of course, so let's look at the All-Stars according to Win Shares, which consider defense and clutch hitting.

Code: Select all
AMERICAN NATIONAL

C Jason Varitek    Johnny Estrada

1B Mark Teixeira   Derrek Lee

2B Brian Roberts   Jeff Kent

SS Miguel Tejada   David Eckstein

3B Alex Rodriguez  David Wright

OF Gary Sheffield  Bobby Abreu

OF Johnny Damon    Brian Giles

OF Aaron Rowand    Luis Gonzalez


It hasn't been a good year for first basemen in the American League or shortstops in the National, and I certainly don't have a problem with Teixeira or Eckstein. But are we ready, I mean really ready, for Rowand and Mackowiak in the starting lineups?

Maybe you are. I'm not.

If a great player's putting up great numbers, he should start. If a good player's putting up great numbers, let's skip the good player and find a great player who's putting up good numbers. Is that a formula? It certainly could be, but I don't think it needs to be, except in the most general sense of the word:

All-Star = Great x 2 or Great + Good (with the first "Great" referring to the player rather than his 2005 statistics)

So with that "formula" in mind, let's run through the American League.

At catcher, Varitek's the obvious choice. At first base, one could argue for Mike Sweeney, but Teixeira is not only better this season, but he was better last season as well. Roberts is probably just a good player enjoying a great season, but who else is there? Tejada, Rodriguez, Sheffield, Damon … all of these are great players having great years. We do have to dump Rowand, though, and the obvious replacement is Guerrero, who has, when not on the disabled list, played exactly like Guerrero.

The National League's tougher because you've got more good players having great seasons. For example, at first base my All-Star is Albert Pujols, because while Lee is certainly enjoying the better season, Pujols isn't far behind, and he's obviously the better player. I know some of you believe Lee should be "rewarded" for what he's done, but 1) a month from now, Pujols might have better numbers anyway, and 2) more to the point, the point of the All-Star Game is not (and never has been) to reward the players, it's to entertain the fans. And I suspect most fans want to see the best players in the game. That's not to suggest the fans always know who the best players are. But if they did, that's who they'd want to see.

At second base, the choice is between Kent and Utley. Utley's been more productive per at-bat, but he hasn't played every day, when he's played he hasn't always played second base, and he's just a raw kid. Kent's played every day at second base, and he deserves one last All-Star hurrah.

Eckstein at shortstop? Hey, I'm surprised, too. But he really is the best choice this year. With no superstar shortstops in the National League, here are the best this season:
Code: Select all
            Games  OBP  Slug

David Eckstein 61 .380 .390

Felipe Lopez   49 .356 .562

Cesar Izturis  60 .358 .380

Alex Gonzalez  58 .339 .407

Jimmy Rollins  62 .305 .383


Sure, Cincinnati's Lopez has been fantastic with the bat. But he hasn't played every day and he's nowhere near Eckstein's equal with the glove. Rollins just got the silly new contract, but $40 million doesn't make him the best shortstop in the league.

As for third base, of course Mackowiak just won't do. But with Scott Rolen out and Mike Lowell struggling, there just aren't a lot of choices. Fortunately, Wright's also having a fine season, and he's certainly got the pedigree.

In the outfield, Abreu's the only no-brainer. Giles and Luis Gonzalez are both deserving, but Adam Dunn, Carlos Lee, Jim Edmonds and Burrell are all right there, too. I would take Edmonds for his glove (and his long-term credentials) and Luis Gonzalez, but you really can't go wrong with the others. It's a lousy year for left fielders in the American League, but a great year for them in the National.

At catcher, you can have Estrada or Barrett, whomever you like. I'm taking Barrett, though, because if Estrada starts an All-Star Game my criticism of the Millwood-Estrada trade will look even sillier than it already does. Which makes my teams look something like this:
Code: Select all
AMERICAN              NATIONAL

C Jason Varitek       Michael Barrett

1B Mark Teixeira      Albert Pujols

2B Brian Roberts      Jeff Kent

SS Miguel Tejada      David Eckstein

3B Alex Rodriguez     David Wright

OF Gary Sheffield     Luis Gonzalez

OF Johnny Damon       Jim Edmonds

OF Vladimir Guerrero  Bobby Abreu

Amazing what a formula can do, don't you think?


Senior writer Rob Neyer writes for Insider two or three times per week during the season. To offer criticism, praise or anything in between, send an e-mail to mailto:rob.neyer@dig.com.
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Postby go_jays_go » Tue Jun 14, 2005 8:22 pm

Ughh..Another article by nuggets :-/

J/k..Great read ;-)
Last edited by go_jays_go on Tue Jun 14, 2005 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby beltrans_boy » Tue Jun 14, 2005 8:23 pm

Rob Neyer is the only good baseball writer for ESPN. I'd even hesitate to call him an ESPN writer. He's a freelance sabermetrician with a few books to his name. He's worked with Bill James before. He knows his stuff.
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Postby nuggets » Tue Jun 14, 2005 8:33 pm

go_jays_go wrote:Ughh..Another article by nuggerts :-/

J/k..Great read ;-)


:-C ......... :-S ...... :^ ............ :-)
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Postby nuggets » Tue Jun 14, 2005 9:23 pm

beltrans_boy wrote:Rob Neyer is the only good baseball writer for ESPN. I'd even hesitate to call him an ESPN writer. He's a freelance sabermetrician with a few books to his name. He's worked with Bill James before. He knows his stuff.


Jerry Crasnick offers some pretty good insight from a different angle on the game and I've found many of Gary Gillette's articles to be valuable. ESPN has really picked it up this year with everything they are doing on the baseball side.
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Postby j24jags » Tue Jun 14, 2005 10:59 pm

great read ;-D
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Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Wed Jun 15, 2005 6:35 am

beltrans_boy wrote:Rob Neyer is the only good baseball writer for ESPN. I'd even hesitate to call him an ESPN writer. He's a freelance sabermetrician with a few books to his name. He's worked with Bill James before. He knows his stuff.


Neyer ain't no sabermetrician. He's a popular writing who is very good at explaining sabermetric information to the average Joe.
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Postby matmat » Wed Jun 15, 2005 6:42 am

still no love for Ramon Hernandez, though. what is he doing wrong?
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Postby Pogotheostrich » Wed Jun 15, 2005 8:44 am

I used to love reading Neyer but he is only available on ESPN Insider now and I'm too cheap to pay for it. The only good free thing on ESPN now is Page2.
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Postby blackbearabroad » Wed Jun 15, 2005 9:52 am

Can I hear an Amen for that? but even the archives on page 2 now are Insider only
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