Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Chien-Ming Whiff
2007-06-18 06:01
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

The Yankees recovered nicely after dropping the first game of the weekend series, taking a sloppy affair on Saturday afternoon, and then dominating the Mets on Sunday night to the tune of 8-2. Chien-Ming Wang was impressive for the third straight outing. He came within just one out of a complete game and struck out a career-high ten batters. Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada both hit home runs and the Yankees kept pace with the Red Sox who swept the hapless Giants at Fenway Park.

Jose Reyes was a terror on the bases against the Yankees--he stole five bases in the first two games before being gunned-down by Posada last night--but Derek Jeter had a terrific weekend as well. Take your pick as far as who the best shortstop in New York is, at least you've got an argument. They have different styles but both Jeter and Reyes look like they are having an awful lot of fun out there.

Comments (71)
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2007-06-18 06:59:22
1.   Chyll Will
I'll bet they have fun with the comparisons, too. As talented and skilled as Reyes is, he has a lot to prove to be compared outright to Jeter, and I'm sure he knows that. Jeter has not only four more rings than Reyes, but four rings in his first five years in the majors. Lucky perhaps, but then even before Jeter was captain, teammates often deferred to him (especially after Paulie left). Jeter has a je ne se quois that Reyes has yet to develop and others in Jeter's class have not necessarily sustained as long as he has. No fair putting Alex in this equation since he's transformed himself for the sake of the Yanks, though I'm sure the snarky answer to the above question would surely be him.

Reyes is a treat to watch; his speed and grace on the field and the basepaths, his strong arm and his development as a hitter have been special. Given the same luck of avoiding major injury, Reyes stands a good chance to be better than Jeter. For now though, even Reyes would not question who's the superior shortstop of the two in the big picture.

2007-06-18 07:00:00
2.   Cliff Corcoran
My favorite thing about Wang's outing last night is that he faced the minimum through 14 batters thanks to a DP and that caught stealing of Reyes. Sitting in the bleachers, I was furious when Torre took Wang out with one out to go for a complete game, but after I found out he was at 113 pitches, I calmed down a bit. I might still have given him one more batter for a chance at the CG, but you can't really argue being protective of your ace's arm--and Wang is definitely the Yankee ace. Not bad for a 26-year-old third-year player in a rotation with Clemens, Pettitte and Mussina.

Another interesting fact from last night's game: the Yankee batters who led off each inning hit for the cycle: Matsui and Cano singled, Rodriguez doubled, Abreu tripled, and Damon homered.

2007-06-18 07:20:12
3.   C2Coke
2 And according to Abraham, Wang also had a stiff neck, perhaps that was it. I was annoyed when Wang came out in the ninth and didn't get to finish that last one out. Then I thought, there are three, four months left.

1 Jeter is gotta be the better one now. In a few years, we can think this over again and the answer could be different.

All in all, the past two weeks were greeeeeeaaaat!

2007-06-18 07:21:23
4.   Mattpat11
I still don't understand the phenomenal difference between 111 pitches and 113.
2007-06-18 07:36:36
5.   Sliced Bread
That was the second consecutive Sunday night that I literally got off my duff and yelled at the TV.

Last Sunday it was David Chase's abrupt cut to black at the end of "The Sopranos."

Last night, it was Joe "Don't Stop Believin'" Torre yanking Wang (heh) 1 exit short of his destination.

It took me about 24 hours to appreciate Chase's creative decision to leave the ending up to the fans.

By that math, it will another 12 hours before I will be at peace with Joe robbing Wang of his complete game closure.

Wang didn't seem too bothered about it, and that's the most important thing.

re: the Jeter v Reyes thing.
I was at the game on Saturday, enjoying primo seats courtesy of my Mets fan brother-in-law's business connections -- and Reyes's speed was something to see in person. He's cartoon fast.

He was the Road Runner to Jorgie's Wile E. Coyote this weekend, and even as I was desperately rooting for Posada to catch him it was fun to watch Reyes in action.

No question Reyes does some things better than Jeter, but you can't compare their careers.

Bottomline, even after all these years, the first position player I'd pick to go into battle with is Jeter.

2007-06-18 07:41:43
6.   rbj
Myers had K'ed Delgado 9 times out of 14 ABs. I think Joe wanted one last look at a Myers vs. Delgado in anticipation of a possible World Series matchup.

And hey, it's going to be two full days off for Proctor. I wonder what his arm is feeling.

2007-06-18 08:02:03
7.   weeping for brunnhilde
5 "He was the Road Runner to Jorgie's Wile E. Coyote this weekend, and even as I was desperately rooting for Posada to catch him it was fun to watch Reyes in action."

Ha haa ha!!


Reyes is a special player, no doubt about it.

The fact that he's improved his game to dramatically in so short a time (plate discipline, mainly) is extraordinary.

And his body has yet to fill out, so when it does, he should provide even more power, though I'd hate to see more bulk hamper his agility in the field and his quickness on the bases.

It's sad to watch him go to his left and see him make plays Derek couldn't dream about making.

(In fairness, though, Derek did make a nice play to his left last night, a play I was surprised he made.)

2007-06-18 08:25:18
8.   Schteeve
I was glad they pulled him. I didn't want to see him throw 120 pitches just so he could have the glory of a CG.
2007-06-18 08:26:18
9.   Schteeve
Also, how about that change up that Wang threw Reyes in the 8th or 9th. Reyes fell down trying to hit it. Good stuff.
2007-06-18 08:32:34
10.   weeping for brunnhilde
9 I know! Talk about cartoonish. That's the flip side of his cartoon-running.

I felt sorry for the guy because it was just yet another small humiliation the likes of which the Mets and their fans most certainly do not need these days.

Having not so long ago suffered through such agonies ourselves, I really feel for them.

2007-06-18 09:07:01
11.   RIYank
Over at Canyon of Heroes, one of the commenters quotes Wang as saying this in a post-game interview:

"Of course I wanted to finish the game, but I already lost one point to the previous left hand hitter. Since my arm was tired, I think it was better for the team if I rest."

(Obviously, English is not this commenter's first language -- I assume the interview was in Chinese.)

The guy has a couple of other interesting quotes, too. Check it out:

2007-06-18 09:15:23
12.   standuptriple
5 Speaking of corporate seats, I have 4 tickets to the Yanks/SF game on Sunday that I have to raffle off to our department. Could have kept them myself if I wasn't going to be in Milwaukee. Stupid buddy had to get married this weekend.
2007-06-18 09:29:16
13.   Count Zero
9 That was just unfair. I loved the way Reyes was laughing at himself after he did it -- he's a very charismatic guy. It also takes a lot of self-confidence to laugh at yourself in that situation. I tip my hat to him.
2007-06-18 09:38:57
14.   Count Zero
On to more important matters...who has info on Kai Liu and Zhenwang Zhang? Is one of them like 7'6" or anything? ;-)
2007-06-18 09:42:10
15.   Kered Retej
I know I am as guilty as anyone for bitching about Joe every time he mis-manages the pitching staff, so in fairness to him, I feel like I should give him some credit for taking out Wang at his pitch count, rather than worrying about some arbitrary stat. Right or wrong, he did go against the conventional grain for the right reasons. There's no reason to overtax your top pitcher with a 6-run lead, just for the sake of getting him a CG. Now, if Joe could just apply the same logic to the save stat, I would be much happier.
2007-06-18 09:42:41
16.   markp
I wanted him to be pulled after eight, so taking him out with one out to go wasn't a very big deal.
2007-06-18 09:43:52
17.   Kered Retej
12 Hey can I get in on that raffle? Or does anyone else have extra tickets for the Yanks in SF? I'd love to go, but I'm also a cheapskate...
2007-06-18 09:47:14
18.   Shaun P
Reyes is a heck of a player, lots of fun to watch and you can see why the Mets fans love him. I wonder if he'll show the same kind of power Jeter has. Reyes hit 19 homers last year, but has only 3 so far this year. The steals are nice, but it will be the power that makes Reyes an elite shortstop.

On another topic, here is a fantastic post about Jorgie:

The ending is the most interesting part.

2007-06-18 09:51:23
19.   markp
Torre's problem has never been leaving starters in too long. It's always been the number of appearances by the set-up guys.
What's really odd about this season is that the first four starters are all going deep into games (assuming Clemens continues to do so) and the BP may end up under-worked before too long. This after a lot of people were saying they'd all be worn out by August.

I think Igawa's going to be an important asset as a solid 5th starter. Of course when Hughes returns, that could be a bit more up in the air.

2007-06-18 09:57:34
20.   standuptriple
17 Sorry, can't give them out. But that is "Pride" Day at the ballpark. Maybe if you were real friendly and put on some short shorts...
2007-06-18 10:00:27
21.   seamus
19 It should be interesting to see how Igawa deals against a national league team. He can walk bonds though. screw him and his chase.
2007-06-18 10:06:20
22.   RIYank
Hey, I wonder if I can get some advice here.
I'm planning to take two of my kids to Cooperstown this summer (very soon if possible). What's a good place to stay? I don't want one of the fancy resorts -- too expensive and mainly wasted on my sons anyway. They'd want a pool, that's probably the only non-negotiable requirement. I've been poking around on-line, hadn't realized how expensive it is (almost nothing < $200/night).
Any advice appreciated.
2007-06-18 10:13:51
23.   rbj
21 Why waste 3 pitches each time. Plunk him. Barry wears enough armor.

I got to see Reyes for a year in A ball (SA League). Even then you could tell that he was much better than most of the guys. IIRC, his team won the SAL championship that year.

2007-06-18 10:19:32
24.   Schteeve
18 Posada is so amazingly valuable.
2007-06-18 10:19:47
25.   Chyll Will
Just a slight sidetrack, for which I apologize, but did anyone notice that Baltimore fired (or is about to fire) Sam Perlozzo? I mention this because they're looking at Girardi as a replacement. I wrote a long piece about it, but much too long to be a comment here, so I put it at my own site if anyone's interested...

The odd coincidence is that Sam got fired primarily for the things we criticize Joe for AND for doing something Joe just did; apparently Sam did not enjoy nearly the same amount of support from his crew. But what if Girardi does tackle the job? Does that mean Mattingly is The Chosen One? (or Michael Corleone as the case may be...)


2007-06-18 10:21:09
26.   Schteeve
19 It will take half a dozen consecutive quality starts before I have even a shred of faith in Igawa. I hope he makes a fool out of me.
2007-06-18 10:23:51
27.   JL25and3
7 (In fairness, though, Derek did make a nice play to his left last night, a play I was surprised he made.)

On the other hand, in the ninth inning of Saturday's game, Jeter barely waved at a grounder about three feet to his right.

I was mightily impressed with Reyes, and I think there's a strong case to be made that, right now, he's a better player than Jeter. For starters, any comparison of their defense is laughable. Jeter's a much more consistent hitter, but he doesn't hit for much power, either - Jeter's only got 2 more homers this year, but Reyes makes up for it with triples. And the youngster's got 30 more stolen bases already...

I love Jeter, so I can't be dispassionate. But offer me an even-up trade, and that love is the only thing that would hold me back.

2007-06-18 10:27:42
28.   weeping for brunnhilde
18 Hey Shaun, I know we don't see eye-to-eye on this and I'm not trying to stir it up, but I can't see how you can say that.

If Reyes can still 50 bags a year and hit .300 and keep up his defense, he's an elite shortstop, even if he hits 5 homers a year, which I suspect he won't, but even if he did, he's looking pretty elite to me.

If he continues to learn to steal bases then basically you walk him and you're looking at a double, maybe even a triple, and the chances of pitchers throwing mistakes to the numbers two three and four guys has to go up, except for the most elite of veteran pitchers.

Again, not trying to be combative, but I'm not quite sure how you can overlook all that.

2007-06-18 10:37:52
29.   weeping for brunnhilde
27 Oh, believe me, I make no apologies for Derek's defense.

At this point, I wish there were a face-saving way to get he and Alex to switch, for the good of the team.

2007-06-18 10:47:53
30.   Chyll Will
28 I don't think he or any of us are overlooking that, Weep. However, the average fan, like it or not, loves homers. I think David Wright is not a superior player or athlete to Jose Reyes, but the reason why he got far more money than Reyes is because he hit more homers than Reyes. Same with Soriano. People in general are in love with the long ball, and Jose Reyes could be the next coming of Vince Coleman (but with a much more tolerable personality) or even Ricky for that matter, but unfortunately will not be regarded as the elite player en totale unless he either hits for more power or wins a few championships with his skills. Speed is his game, and speed will be the first thing to go with almost all players (even before power). For that matter, the Mets may have known that when they gave Wright a bigger, longer contract than Reyes.

An elite shortstop, yes he is or will be. I like that he's turned out to be the real star on that team. But in my opinion, he has a ways to go before he's regarded as an all-time elite player.

2007-06-18 10:52:06
31.   unmoderated
Hey #22, i live in oneonta, which is 20 minutes from cooperstown. i apologize for the lodging situation, it's really insane. it's all about demand, there aren't a lot of hotels/motels, and during the summer, there are a ton of people in the area.

there are currently two baseball tournament camps running, each with 15-20 teams or so, plus the usual HOF tourists, plus the local Belgian brewery has been doing a lot of promotional events. there are a lot of little bed and breakfast type places that charge from $50-100 a night, plus the Super 8 in Oneonta. I can give you a lot more info if you want, email me at michael.popek AT i don't want to threadjack too much.

2007-06-18 10:58:48
32.   Start Spreading the News
I hate to bring stats into this SS discussion.

But as of today, VORP for Jetes is 30.1 while Reyes is 32.1. So case closed -- Reyes is better!

Oh wait. But VORP is a counting stat so that includes playing time. If you want to look at rate. Jeter's rate VORPr is .431 while Reyes' is .443. So still Reyes is better!

But what about EQA? It turns out that BP has Reyes ranked right over Jeter:
Name Team(s) Pos Out PA EQA EQR RAR RAP RARP
JOSE REYES NY_-N SS 198. 315. 0.306 51.5 26.3 18.4 27.2
DEREK JETER NY_-A SS 186. 309. 0.301 46.1 22.5 14.9 23.2

Then what about defense? Mets currently rank #1 in team defensive efficiency. The Yanks are #7. Someone else can figure out who is a better defensive player. My belly full of guts says Reyes.

Obviously, the long term answer is Reyes since he is so young and has a belly full of guts to match Jeter's.
Overall as of RIGHT NOW, Reyes is the better player. Will it stay that way? My belly full of guts says that for this year, the answer is no.

Jeter is coming off a year where his VORP was 80.5 -- the next closest was around 65 and it wasn't Reyes. So I expect Jeter to play better offensively. Even if he doesn't match last year's performance, a VORP is 65 is reasonable. Especially if Abreu continues to be hot and hit behind him.

2007-06-18 11:01:57
33.   Shaun P
28 Chyll captured some of my points in his 30, but here's my long-winded response anyway. =)

28 Our typical difference of opinion, weeping. =)

Consider this. Jeter tends to hit .300, and plays defense well enough (I have no idea what advanced metrics think of Reyes) - so let's say they're even with the glove. What are the differences?

Derek averages a little more than 20 SBs a season, which gives Reyes a 30 SB or so advantage. (We'll also presume they steal at an equally proficient rate, but I believe Jeter is a little more efficient.)

But Jeter averages around 15 HRs a year - a 10 HR advantage over your hypothetical Reyes stats.

So what's worth more, 10 extra HRs or 30 extra SBs?

I'm no advanced statistical guy, but let's look at how many runs each score on average. I know runs are a contextual stat, but if there is one thing you'd think SBs would help, it would be runs scored. The steal almost entirely eliminates the DP and puts Reyes in position to score on a single.

But . . .

Jeter averages about 120 runs/season, while Reyes (so far) averages about 95 runs/season.

So it seems like the extra HRs are worth more.

Remember too, that Jeter's power makes pitchers more afraid to pitch him, especially with runners on base, because he could hit one out. If Reyes comes up with runners on, a pitcher is going to be less worried, because Reyes can't steal if the base ahead of him is occupied. And while Reyes' is certainly pesky on the basepaths, there is strong evidence that having a pesky runner on doesn't affect pitchers enough to make a difference.

Without lots of power, I think Reyes is, and will be, a very good shortstop. But not an elite (say Hall of Fame) one.

2007-06-18 11:08:49
34.   weeping for brunnhilde
30 Point taken, Will, and I'm glad you mentioned Rickey, because he was clearly at the forefront of my mind. He developed power, but even without the power, walking him was an automatic double and to me, it's hard to beat that because that kind of offensive contribution is just so, so reliable and slump-proof.

I guess it's about the definition of the word "elite," but I guess my only point is that I don't believe someone needs to hit with power to be considered an elite player if they make other offensive contributions.

Semantics, maybe.

2007-06-18 11:23:14
35.   weeping for brunnhilde
33 Point taken, Shaun.

I guess to me, the very last thing I think about as far as Derek goes is power. His homeruns just don't factor in much to my assessment of him. He hit 24 or whatever it was in 1999, and that was great, but last year he hit 13 or whatever it was, and frankly, I didn't miss those extra homers. I never thought that his value had depreciated because of that, though perhaps statistically it had.

I'm not sure how afraid pitchers are of Derek hitting one out. That was Alex's big dig, remember? About pitchers not being afraid of him, but rather of Bernie and Tino and Paulie?

As to the value of 10 extra homeruns or 30 extra stolen bases, it's hard to say.

The thing about the stolen bases is that they're reliable, a great weapon even if the pitcher brings his A-game, even if the hitter's slumping. You can count on speed more than you can the long ball.

And as I say, I don't know how you measure the impact of speed on rattling the pitcher and driving up his mistakes to the next batters, but every player always mentions that, which leads me to believe there's something to it.

And the threat of the steal also makes it hard to walk Reyes, which means his speed could get him more extra-base hits just because no one wants to walk him so they throw him a meatball which he could hit hard and end up on second or even third anyway.

I know the stuff I'm talking about probably isn't measurable, but I'm not sure it's voodoo either.

And as to defense, just from watching Reyes, I don't think there's any comparison to Derek.

In general, one of the things about the stats is that they don't necessarily reveal how one individual performance affects the performances of the rest of the team, which should be taken into account.

When do the personal feats of the athletes make their teammates better?--it's still a team sport, afterall.

2007-06-18 11:26:08
36.   Chyll Will
34 I agree with you, man. It's just that most people (and I gather the HoF voters) wouldn't, and as Shaun points out, that's why. I wish: 3 Reyes + 3 Jeters, + 1 Alex + 3 Jorges + 2 Miggies (the Mantle editions)+ 2 Melkies + 3 CMWs + 2 Andys and a case of Moes = Dynasty. But with runners in scoring position and two out, who do you want at the plate, Reyes or Jeter?
2007-06-18 11:36:37
37.   Bama Yankee
25 Nice blog, Chyll. Keep up the good work. I plan to stop by every chance I get.
2007-06-18 11:40:18
38.   pistolpete
I really hope Girardi doesn't take the Baltimore job - #1 we'd lose a potential managerial candidate post-Torre, and #2 we'd have to compete against him in our own division.
2007-06-18 11:40:36
39.   Chyll Will
37 Thanks a whole lot, Bama! I can't wait to get the comic strips up and going, I'll let you all know about that at least >;)
2007-06-18 12:37:16
40.   JL25and3
33 First off, let's not say they're equal with the glove. It's not even close, and I really don't need stats to demonstrate that. I've watched Jeter for a dozen years, and Reyes makes plays Jeter can only dream of. Reyes also has a much stronger arm.

As for the power, Reyes had 19 homers and 17 triples last year. His isolated power was 40 points higher - in fact, his slugging average was higher, despite the disparity in batting average. The homers may have been a fluke, but the triples certainly weren't - and in any case, Reyes is no 5-HR hitter.

Jeter's power is definitely not what separates him. His power isn't really that big a deal. It's his consistency, his ability to churn out hits game by game. Not a lot of walks, not a lot fo power, but an extremely consistent average hitter.

2007-06-18 12:38:09
41.   JL25and3
38 I'm really not worried about competing against the Orioles. They're a long way from being good, no matter who the manager is.
2007-06-18 13:04:33
42.   weeping for brunnhilde
40 Agreed, JL, pretty much across the board.

Especially with the glove; it's clear that Reyes is superior on that count.

His hands are surer, his range is greater, his arm is stronger.

The one thing I'm not sure about is if Reyes is as good on those outfield popups, though I seem to recall him being pretty smooth on those as well.

Also, I'm not sure about how Reyes handles pressure, because that's a big thing about Derek, the fact that he rarely makes errors in big spots.

That one he made in Game 6 against Florida was huge, as it allowed the second run to score late in the game, but otherwise, his strength is his consistency and the unflagging focus that accounts for it.

2007-06-18 13:19:27
43.   bob34957
Wang along with Andy, Rodger, & Moose makes our Starting rotation much better than expected. Mattpat11, hello from your favorite imbecile, LOL
2007-06-18 13:21:45
44.   JL25and3
42 And I can say the same - agreed, pretty much across the board.

I also wondered about Reyes on popups, because that's the one thing Jeter does exceptionally well on defense. It still doesn't make up for all those ground balls Reyes gets to.

As for pressure, it's hard to say, but this weekend helped Reyes's case a little. Unless something really surprising happens, we should get more of an idea come October.

No question that pressure rolls off Jeter's back. I'm not convinced that he performs better under pressure, just that he doesn't let it affect him at all.

2007-06-18 13:50:13
45.   weeping for brunnhilde
44 Exactly, he's consistent, which is why (personally) I can never tell from watching him if he's in a slump, or if he is, why.

With other guys, it's clear pressure gets to them because they'll give away ab, lunging, swinging at pitches they should take, taking pitches they should swing at, etc.

This is what Alex seems to do when he's not right and it certainly has seemed in the past that pressure (or who knows what) has effected his game, because his swing is always true, but his balance is the first thing to go when he's off.

Derek is caught off-balance his fair share, but I've never really noticed that when he's not getting hits it's because he's off-balance more or because he's fooled more.

I pretty much always know what I'm going to get with him.

But again, I put it out to everyone, how do we account for Derek's falling from the .350s to the .320s in a space of a about 3 weeks?

Anyone notice any change at all in his at-bats, because I sure didn't. He just didn't seem to be hitting as many line drives, but mechanically, he looked the same to my eyes.

2007-06-18 14:22:06
46.   51cq24
45 What exactly is the difference between being "off-balance" and being "fooled," other than either blaming the hitter or crediting the pitcher? A hitter is off-balance when he is fooled. The reason Jeter's batting average has dropped somewhat is that he hasn't been getting hits. The same reason Arod's average ever falls. The same reason anyone's average ever falls. I'm not going to dispute how great a hitter Jeter is. He's great. But you can't just say you feel like he isn't slumping when he is, whereas you feel like Arod really is when he is. Why do you have that feeling? Maybe because Arod is a power hitter so his slumps are more apparent. Maybe because you like Jeter more so you make excuses for him. Maybe because you don't notice everything. I really don't know why you have certain impressions. But feelings don't make a hitter good or not. Results do. And no one on this team has had better results, this year or in his career, than has Arod. Last year was a different story, but like I said, even the best hitters have off years. And maybe he was actually hurt. He was making weird side-arm throws from 3rd that have seemingly turned back into strong throws and overall excellent defense. To be honest, as great as Jeter has been, he has never been the big bat in the lineup, and when he has a bad week or a bad month, it isn't nearly as apparent as when Bernie Williams did or Alex Rodriguez does.
2007-06-18 14:29:46
47.   Chyll Will
45 I know this sounds too simple, but maybe he's tired? Jeter has mentioned from time to time that it's hard to sustain a certain level of play over an entire season, and this season has been more difficult than most, so maybe he's just tired. Still, he'd rather invite Alex over for a slumber party than admit that he's tired or hurt, so... He's had to carry the team for a longer period than others times in the recent past, which may partly explain A-Rod's sudden drop in May (the other being the alluded pressure you mentioned.) Same thing will happen (or is happening?) with Jorge. But the thing with these guys is that they bounce back pretty well, and if Bobby, Godzilla and A-Rod keep their current pace while the others catch their breaths, they'll get back even quicker.

Funny thing with him as well, he'll go through a seemingly long dry spell, then come back in hit or reach base forty-five games in a row. He always has a way of contributing when other things don't work, which is remarkable in this day and age. I wouldn't worry, Weeping, he'll be all right...

2007-06-18 14:32:56
48.   weeping for brunnhilde
46 I think we're talking past each other.

I'm not quite sure how to respond...

2007-06-18 14:34:43
49.   Chyll Will
46 Hitting off-balance does not always imply being fooled. Sometimes a batter can be machanically out-of-whack and pop-up or ground out when he would normally rope a straight-down-the-middle fastball. To him, he's swinging off-balanced or out-of-whack.
2007-06-18 14:37:11
50.   weeping for brunnhilde
47 Oh, I'm not at all worried, Will, just trying to figure out how to account for my observations.

If I were a hitting coach, what would I tell Jeter? I know what I'd tell Alex when he's slumping (whether my advice would be sound or not is another story, but I'd be able to offer it), but I can never point to anything in Derek's game that accounts for his slumps is all I'm saying, and that's curious to me.

Fatigue certainly can be an issue, but what does that actually mean? Perhaps that his swings aren't quite so strong so a lot of his ground balls don't have enough on them to get through?

I don't know.

I'm just trying to put my observations into some kind of order.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-06-18 14:41:29
51.   weeping for brunnhilde
49 Right, for instance, a guy's timing could just be off so that he's lunging routinely, even at the average fastball, not because the pitcher's mixing in lots of off-speed stuff, but because the batter's just not tracking the ball so well so he cheats or something.

Pedro in '99 kept everyone off-balance because his stuff was just unhittable. It wasn't the hitters' fault.

But I've seen Alex kept off balance by a guy with a 90mph fastball and a decent breaking ball, not great stuff by any means, but good enough to make Alex look silly.

My only real point is that I rarely see Derek look as silly as Alex can look and I wonder what that's about.

2007-06-18 14:45:10
52.   Chyll Will
50 Has his movements been slower than normal? I don't know, because I don't get to watch the games on TV unless it's on a local channel, but if he's moving around a little slower, that could have a lot to do with fatigue. A hitter's swing is what enables him to make solid contact, but his legs are where most of the power is based, so if his legs are tired, it might diminish some of the pop in his swing, to which the natural reaction would be to adjust to compensate. I'm guessing as much as you; with you're lyin' eyes and my scrambled egg, we can come up with some kind of acceptable theory...
2007-06-18 14:47:38
53.   weeping for brunnhilde
46 "Maybe because Arod is a power hitter so his slumps are more apparent. Maybe because you like Jeter more so you make excuses for him. Maybe because you don't notice everything."

I think this is what I'm trying to say.

Alex's slumps are more apparent and I don't notice everything, which is why I'm asking about why Jeter slumps.

I think you're kind of failing to understand the nature of my inquiry.

You say you really don't know why I have certain impressions and all I can say is that I watch the games and look for the sorts of things I know how to look for.

If there's something mechanical I should be looking for to account for Derek's slumps, by all means, spill the beans.

What do you see?

I'm trying to learn.

2007-06-18 14:50:20
54.   weeping for brunnhilde
52 Heh. :)

Well, I do see pretty much every game, and all I can think about is that when Derek's wrong, his ground balls seem to be weaker, so that well could be attributable to the fatigue you mention, but his line-drives also taper off, so that would seem mechanical, but I'm not sure.

But he never actually looks bad at the plate, which is my point. His hits dry up a bit, but he never looks lost the way Alex can.

2007-06-18 14:51:18
55.   Chyll Will
51 You said it yourself, Alex's approach at the plate is not about contact, but capitalizing on mistakes. Great home-run hitters most often K in a way that looks really silly, with the exception of Ruth and Bonds, maybe. Remember how Dave Winfield would instantly lose the bat whenever he got fooled on a pitch he wasn't looking for?

Jeter says all the time, he's not trying to hit a home run, he tries to make contact and get on base; his HRs in his mind are more often by accident.

2007-06-18 14:53:55
56.   weeping for brunnhilde
52 And the other thing, which I've mentioned before, is that when Derek had that 0-32 or whatever it was, he seemed to bounce out 5-3 a lot. Could that be a timing thing?
2007-06-18 14:54:10
57.   cult of basebaal

The thing about the stolen bases is that they're reliable, a great weapon even if the pitcher brings his A-game, even if the hitter's slumping. You can count on speed more than you can the long ball.

" ... And as I say, I don't know how you measure the impact of speed on rattling the pitcher and driving up his mistakes to the next batters, but every player always mentions that, which leads me to believe there's something to it ... I know the stuff I'm talking about probably isn't measurable, but I'm not sure it's voodoo either ..."

googling "stolen base threat effect" produces the following

The vaunted secondary effects of stealing bases--distracting the pitcher, putting pressure on the defense--do not appear to exist. In fact, most secondary effects argue in favor of keeping the runner of first base. A runner on first is more disruptive to a defense, with the first baseman holding and the second baseman cheating towards second for a double play, than a runner on second. Additionally, studies show that stolen-base attempts negatively impact the performance of the batter at the plate, presumably due to hitters getting themselves into negative counts by taking pitches or swinging at bad balls to protect the runner.


This analysis suggests that the price the offense pays for a caught stealing is three times the benefit they get from a successful steal. Another way of looking at it is that in today's game, you need three successful steals for each caught stealing (a 75 percent stolen-base rate) just to break even. Previous research had suggested that the SB/CS break-even point was closer to 2-to-1, but it looks like today's high run-scoring environment creates an even tougher standard than that. It goes back to a baseball truism that we discussed last year: Outs are precious, much more precious than extra bases


The biggest flaw in previous studies about how batters do with and without base-stealing threats on first is that they did not control for the batters. Obviously the pool of batters is different depending on what kind of player is on first.

Anyway, here are the results:

Non threats on first (per 500 PA, sac bunts removed)

PA's sngl dbl trpl hr bb hbp so roe BA OBP SA OPS

6872 85.9 23.7 2.4 16.3 35.8 3.7 81.4 5.5 .279 .336 .446 .782

Threats on first (per 500 PA, sac bunts removed)

PA's sngl dbl trpl hr bb hbp so roe BA OBP SA OPS

6872 88.0 24.2 2.7 15.4 33.9 4.6 71.4 5.9 .282 .338 .447 .785

As you can see, the OPS's are almost exactly the same, suggesting that hitters do around the same whether there is a threat on first or not. As you can also see, the individual components differ markedly. The suggestion is that while the pitcher and the defense may be distracted and the pitcher may throw more fastballs/strikes, this effect is almost completely negated by the batter taking more strikes and/or being distracted himself

2007-06-18 14:57:17
58.   weeping for brunnhilde
55 Ah, dear old Dave hurling his bat at the poor shortstop or worse, the unsuspecting fans.

It's amazing to me that he managed to hit .340 that year, but it tells you how players can adjust and totally reinvent their game if they have the will.

2007-06-18 15:04:00
59.   Chyll Will
56 Did you mean 5-4-3? That would imply he's jumping at a lot of pitches, which most likely means his timing is off. Could that be from fatigue? Don't rightly know, but if you're a batting coach, you look for that in each at-bat and every play he makes in the field.

Ah, yes, Winnie taking out an innocent shortstop or fan in the front row was one of my guilty pleasures in the eighties >;)

2007-06-18 18:35:50
60.   51cq24
58 People go into slumps because it's impossible to hit a baseball consistently. I'm not saying that the pitcher is always the one controlling each at bat, I'm saying that it isn't always easy to know what is happening. You may think that Arod is lost at the plate sometimes, or that he's just a mistake hitter. But then why has he driven so many 95 mph fastballs to the outside part of the plate over the right field fence? Why is his career average .306? That's just 12 points lower than Jeter's.
I'm sorry if I'm being aggressive, but you are talking about someone who is probably the best hitter any of us will ever see, and you're saying he isn't a good hitter because he looks lost at the plate sometimes. It's just a little crazy. This guy is not just a mistake hitter, he is not just trying to hit a home run every at bat. He is an all-around incredible hitter. And whether and why he goes into slumps is irrelevant, because everybody does. If you want to have a serious, intelligent conversation about someone, you can't start it by saying he isn't a good hitter when he is obviously great.
2007-06-18 18:44:09
61.   51cq24
As for Jeter right now, he clearly is tired. He isn't making ground balls close plays like he used to, and I think it may have something to do with when he fouled a ball off his shin a few weeks ago and really jumped around a little after it. I forget where that was, but he hasn't been running the same since.
2007-06-18 19:16:47
62.   weeping for brunnhilde
61 Yeah, Seattle, maybe?

Or have we been to Kansas City this year?

It was some kind of a non-descript team, non-descript stadium, wasn't it?

2007-06-18 19:52:30
63.   weeping for brunnhilde
60 I think the problem is that you're begging the question.

You conclude by saying "He's obviously great" but that's exactly what's in dispute and you can't take your own standard of greatness for granted.

I think we're talking about precisely what the essence of greatness is, but just don't agree on the definition.

And what does it mean to be a good hitter?

Your definition is statistics-based, mine is observational.

There's no amount of statistics you can throw at me to convince me that I'm not seeing what I'm seeing.

I may misinterpret what I'm seeing, but I'm not inventing things out of whole cloth. I have a great deal of confidence in my eyes because I think they're fairly discerning. Not as keen as my ear is for music, but keen enough.

I pay attention to how people look, to their ticks and shifts of balance and temperament and as much visual information as I can soak up and use it to form impressions. The final impression may be distorted, but it's based on the reality of my senses, which is the beginning of all knowledge, isn't it?

Is that not the very definition of empiricism?--observation?

Ok, I'll stop now, sorry, I'm getting carried away.

2007-06-18 19:59:01
64.   weeping for brunnhilde
59 :)


See, I used to hate when he did that.

I hated seeing him fooled, it just looked so undignified and clownish.

I want to watch a baseball game, not a circus!

Especially to see him do that compared to Mattingly, who was the best batsman I've ever seen.

Really, to watch him spray the ball around like that and never strike out was just miraculous.

I think that's why I have the tastes that I do, because of Mattingly. He was really something to watch.

Alex is like that now that he's locked in, but Alex's swing is too perfect.

I don't know, chalk it up to boyhood legend, but man that guy was something. He never struck out.

2007-06-18 20:24:54
65.   weeping for brunnhilde
57 Hey, cob, point taken, but you didn't address the main point. The secondary effects were the frills, possible ancillary boons, but the reliability of the stolen base v. the reliability of the long ball was (I think) my primary point.
2007-06-18 20:39:13
66.   51cq24
63 But you obviously also observe his "too perfect" swing and the results of that swing that can be translated into statistics. I know what you mean- sometimes he strikes out on pitches you think he should crush, sometimes on pitches he should lay off. But so does Jeter. Jeter even strikes out to end the game with the tying run on base sometimes. Sometimes he takes a 3rd strike down the middle because he's leaning way too far over the plate. There is no hitter in the history of baseball who didn't have bad at-bats and slumps. Even Mattingly, who may not have struck out as much as Arod, but didn't do more with the balls he put in play.
Arod has the nicest swing I've ever seen. If it means that sometimes he'll look silly because he doesn't adjust it to just put the ball in play, I'll take it. Because in the end he's gonna do more offensively than anyone else on this team (or probably anyone else in baseball).
2007-06-18 20:50:54
67.   weeping for brunnhilde
51 You're right, 51, he has the most fluid, perfect swing I have ever seen too.

"If it means that sometimes he'll look silly because he doesn't adjust it to just put the ball in play, I'll take it. Because in the end he's gonna do more offensively than anyone else on this team (or probably anyone else in baseball). "

Fair enough. I just can't stand to watch batters look silly. It's viscerally disturbing for me to watch.

2007-06-18 20:56:39
68.   weeping for brunnhilde
51 Oh, and also, I'm not saying Jeter's never fooled or takes strike three, I'm saying A) he at least seems to do such things less overall and B) at the very least, such at-bats seem to be sprinkled around, not all bunched up over a period of two or three weeks.

And that's important to me, because as glorious as it is to watch Alex hit now, it's agonizing to watch him hit when he's slumping.

I can't remember ever going through a stretch where I've found Derek's at-bats agonizing to watch.

Can you?

2007-06-19 04:49:11
69.   51cq24
68 No, he's amazingly consistent.
2007-06-19 11:19:31
70.   cult of basebaal
65 well, define what you mean by "reliability" and find some evidence that it actually exists and has an actual correlation with post-season success.

"Run production as a whole hasn't had much relationship with playoff success. Neither have any of the individual offensive metrics. The A's postseason struggles have sometimes been attributed to their tendency to rely on walks and home runs, but there is no evidence that teams that play Smallball instead fare better in the postseason. Although stolen-base attempts have a slight (but statistically insignificant) positive relationship with PSP, sacrifice-hit attempts have a slight negative one. Speed Score, a composite of five different offensive statistics that provides evidence about a player's wheels, has no relationship with PSP at all. Nor do teams that hit well in the clutch in the regular season see that advantage carry forward into the playoffs."

2007-06-19 12:19:30
71.   weeping for brunnhilde
70 I think we're having two different conversations, cob.

I'm talking about my experience watching baseball and you're talking about metrics.

I'm perfectly willing to concede that my experience is subjective, but just because it can't be quantified doesn't mean it has no bearing on reality. Yours is one kind of reality, mine is another.

I'm not really trying to prove anything so much as articulate how I experience the game.

Maybe sometimes it would help if people relied on statistics a little less in my case because often it just feels like talking past one another.

I'm not against statistics or anything, I just think they can get in the way of communication sometimes, at least in my case.

Pretend you're watching ballet or something, maybe, because that's how I see baseball. I look at form and grace and performance much more than I do results.

No statistic in the world can convince me I'm not seeing what I'm clearly seeing. My conclusions may be off, but often I'm not drawing conclusions, just offering observations.

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