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I don’t consider myself a ‘stat guy.’ I was never a strong math student. But I do like
to analyze baseball stats from time to time. The world of baseball
statistics has ‘blown up’ in the past 10 years with sabermetrics. Don’t
ask me to demonstrate what these stats are? I just find them interesting to look at and analyze. Two of the more trendy stats out
today are VORP, and a UZR/150 score.
is concocted out of graphs, charts and ‘god knows what’ to get an overall
rating of how many runs a player saved, or lost, above any average
fielder. The moniker stands for ‘ULTIMATE zone rate per 150 games
defensive games.’ First of all, I love the name. It compares some of my favorite
defensive baseball players to my favorite wrestlers, ‘The Ultimate
Warrior.’ Follow the link above if you actually want to know
what it is about:
For all those not familiar with VORP,
it means (Value Over Replacement Player). VORP is a number generated
in terms of runs that are contributed offensively over a general replacement at
a certain position. For example, Derek Jeter had a 65.0 VORP
and Hanely Ramirez had 75.0 VORP in 2009. This means that Jeter
contributed 65.0 more runs to his team over a general replacement shortstop in
2009, and Hanley contributed 75.0 over a general replacement. Not that
big of a difference for Jeter when you consider the ‘fantasy phenomena’ that is
Marlins shortstop, Hanley Ramirez. Jeter’s offensive production in 2009
(VORP doesn’t account for a player’s defense) was among the game’s
elite. Jeter’s VORP was really a testement to the immense contribution
he had on the Yankees 2009 A.L. East pennet team last season.
For me, it helps to visualize these so called ‘replacement players’ for each
position in order to assess VORP.
In the case of shortstop, the last two years Tigers shortstop, Adam Everett,
has had a 0.3 VORP. Epitomizing the stagnate offense of the shortstop
replacement – respected only for his glove. Another guy would be John
McDonald from the Blue Jays – with a -2.3 VORP. McDonald is even a little
worse than the 0.0 mark of the average replacement at shortstop. He is
still replacement worthy, but that is not saying a whole lot as the 0.0 number
value is made to characterize any ordinary player that can fill the role.
Lets breakdown the Blue Jays 2009 season related their
VORP and judge each player’s offensive value based on their
- Fred Lewis, LF, Blue
Jays, $455,000 – 2009 VORP 6.7
acquired Fred Lewis this season taking a risk on a player that has
obvious athletic gifts. 2009 was a terrible season in San
Francisco for Lewis. He lost his job mid-season
and was sent to the minors. A 6.7 VORP in ’09 shows that Lewis very close
to replacement level in left field. The Blue Jays hope their hitting
coaches can help Lewis reach his full potential. At his current price, AA
should be commended because Lewis looks like a risk worth
- Aaron Hill, 2B, Blue
Jays, $4,000,000 – 2009 VORP 41.6
was a ‘career season’ for Aaron Hill that saw him make the All-Star game
and win a Silver Slugger. His VORP shows that 2009 put him well above
replacement level. He is emblematic of the modern slugging 2nd
baseman. Hill is a free swinger that is criticized for not getting on
base enough. He is our player with the most value in a stage of rebuilding,
so trading Hill has been thrown out there. Personally, I like Hill’s
swing and approach at the plate. It is overly-aggressive but I don’t see
any indications of that hindering his ability. At this point, I’d hold
onto Hill, as he fits right in with the current mold of offensive producing 2nd
- Adam Lind, DH, Blue
Jays, $550,000 – VORP 44.7
Lind also had a ‘career year’ in 2009. The Jays locked him into a
long-term contract for the foreseeable future before 2009 began. This was
an astute decision, in my opinion. Lind performed on the level of some of
the best #3 and #4’s hitters in the game last year. It was a good
decision to keep Lind in the Jays future. We are getting great value out
him on a 4-year 18 million dollar contract with options for even more
Wells, CF, Blue Jays, $15,687,000 – VORP 15.4
if having a VORP at 15.4 wasn’t bad enough, Vernon Wells posted a -15
UZR score ranking runs gained/or lost on defense. Defensively, Wells was
scored among the worst centerfielders in the league last season. When you
deduce the defensive scores from the VORP, you get a replacement level
player making seven figures. 2009 was a horror story. It got
down right ugly for Vernon Wells. At times, I couldn’t watch. It
would give me nightmares. However, 2010 is beautiful!!! Wells is
hitting at a very high level, and actually earning his contract!!! The
nightmares are gone. 15MIL is a huge commitment to any player. It
could be argued that no player deserves that amount. Wells streakiness,
injury prone seasons and age will definitely make him a contract that the Jays
will part with or trade at some point. Right now, Wells is looking much
more athletic in the field and very savvy at the plate. What a difference
a year makes?
Blue Jays, $7,950,000 – VORP 18.4
Overbay is hard to gage
because he is a player that saves runs on defense, having a UZR/150 score of
plus 6. His VORP is slightly above replacement level, but at a position
where the offensive output at the replacement level is the highest.
Overbay is a contributor, but the raw stats like AVG., doubles and RBI’s have
declined. Overbay will earn 8 million this season and the Jays will
likely look to Brett Wallace (a centerpiece in the Roy Halladay trade) to fill
1st base in the future. I wouldn’t be too patient with
Wallace. If the Jays get in contention in the next few seasons, I’d chase
after a guy with some proven production.
- Edwin Encarnacion, 3B,
Blue Jays, $5,175,000 – VORP 9.6
Encarnacion played his best year at the Great American Smallpark in Cincinnati.
He had a couple years with great offensive production, amid horrible defensive
skills. He was acquired with a number of prospects for Scott Rolen last
season. The Jays picked up Encarnacion’s hefty contract. A very low
VORP compounded by injuries and terrible defensive skills puts Encarnacion at
replacement level in the 2009 season. Nobody is expecting much from
Encarnacion, so there is room for him to prove himself with the
organization. If the Jays aren’t drafting, looking or thinking of
establishing 3rd base help now, they are not doing their job.
- Alex Gonzalez, SS, Blue
Jays, $2,750,000 – VORP 5.8
injury riddled 2009 season for Alex Gonzalez in Boston
was probably a legitimate gripe. Gonzalez has burst on the scene in
2010. He is proving himself much more than a replacement level SS,
hitting .277, with 7 HR’s and 19 RBI’s thus far. The Jays only saw
Gonzalez as a stopgap option, so they signed him to only one year. He may
for a larger, longer contract next season while the Jays wait on young top
Cuban prospect Adeiny Hechevarria to develop in the minors. I’d give
Gonzalez another 2 years if he keeps playing like this?
- John Buck, C, Blue Jays,
$2,000,000 – VORP 7.4
‘stopgap’ for the Jays was John Buck, although he is a player that is
not playing well above his head right now. The Jays signed him for one
year while they develop some catcher talent in the minors (i.e. J.P. Arrencibia
and Travis D’Arnaud). The depth of talent at the catcher position is not
that significant. I wouldn’t be worried about this position. Buck
provides some pop in his bat while playing near replacement level. I
don’t think we will get much more out of him. The best that the Jays
could do is draft, and try to develop their young catchers into a rare case of
Brian McCann or Joe Mauer. If this takes longer than expected? Buck
might get another one-year contract with the team?
- Travis Snider, RF, Blue
Jays, $405,800 – VORP 6.5
Snider is a case of a guy that crushes the minor leagues, but has not
nearly translated that into the majors. The near replacement level VORP
indicated a lack of playing time last season, and some relative struggles for
Snider. The Jays should be patient with Snider, as he is still very young
and could be an emerging star that we could get very good value out of.
It depends how well the Jays do, if Snider tests their patience level. I
might upgrade this position if the Jays turn into buyers at some point, and let
Snider take more time in the minors. Just being here at this age, 22,
Snider is well above the curve.
Bautista, Blue Jays, Utility
season Jose Bautista mainly played a utility role with the Jays.
This season he has moved around positions on a more permanant basis.
Edwin Encarnacion’s recent injury has Bautista currently filling in as the Jays
starting third baseman. Before the arrival of Fred Lewis, Bautista was
rotated around the corner outfield position. Regardless of where Bautista
ends up playing, he has proven to be a very useful acquisition – providing some
extra base pop in the order, hitting 6 HR’s with 20 RBI’s this early in the
season. Upon the return of Edwin Encarnacion, he may relegate both Edwin
and Fred Lewis to a utility role.
back on last season, the Jays only had 2 players here that produced significant
VORP. They need to raise the depth of production in different
ways to help a very young, inexperienced, but inexpensive pitching staff.
That is the only way we could compete with likes of the Yankees, Red Sox and
many guys have been stepping it up this year?
year has been very pleasing to those looking for improvement in the Blue Jay
lineup from last season. The Blue Jays lead the entire league in
homeruns! I would not have expected that. Alex Gonzalez, Vernon
Wells and Jose Bautista look on pace to have breakthrough seasons and increase
their VORP. If Snider, Overbay, Lewis and Buck can make solid
contributions to the lineup, then the overall output in VORP will be much, much
better than last season. Nobody expected this kind of the production from
the Jays so far, it has me giddy, happy and definably over-joyed! We are
VORPin it up, and slugging with the ‘big boys’ in the A.L. East.
Did this really happen??? You have just entered the ‘twilight zone!’ Do, do, do, do ….. do, do, do, do!
It happened in another parraell universe where the Jays didn’t go on a 9-game losing streak in late-May??? Instead, it was a nine game winning streak, and the Jays rode that momentum to the promise land baby!
What else happened in the parallel universe?
Now get ready to enter the crazy nickname zone! Do, do, do, do …. do, do, do, do!
Here is one that I didn’t even make up. It was a shame to hear that Jays middle-reliever, Dirk Hayhurst, will be out most of the season with right shoulder surgery – or as he puts it, ‘Ninjas attacking his shoulder.’ I have his Twitter, and the guy is hilarious! His book, “The Bullpen Gospels: Major League Dreams of a Minor League Veteran,” is scheduled to be released on March 30. He has an excellent imagination, especially the infamous bullpen ledgend of ‘The Garfoose.’ Hilarious story! A very interesting ballplayer, and I am waiting for his book.
I didn’t make this one up either, but I always thought it was cool! While Kevin Youkilus was thriving in the minors, Oakland GM Billy Beane had his sights set on acquiring him. Like no other, Youkilus fits the ‘Moneyball’ ideal of production, working long at-bats and maintaining a high .OBP (on base percentage). They called him ‘Youcules the Greek God of Walks’ for this reason, and salavated over him for good reason. Youkilus is a slightly under-rated ‘grinder’ in my opinion, and a huge asset to the Red Sox!
Everyone knows how much I love Japanese food, that is how this name evolved. And, it is fun to say! Try it … quite fun! I’ve always respected Matsui as a player. I think that he will missed by the Yankees next year. Matsui had a way of grinding out at-bats, and annoying opposing pitchers that tried to cope with the relief of not facing AROD, Giambi (in his prime) or Teixera.
Now, this might be the worst one of the nicknames. I call Bobby Abreu, ‘Booby Abooba,’ just because it is fun to say. The guy has abnormally large pectoral muscles. I can’t help that. God, this blog has just reached a new all-time low! Sorry Bobby Abreu. You are a very good player, and a key contributor to my keeper ‘fantasy baseball team.’ I’m just a weirdo!
As we get ready for Spring, I will end with one of my personal favorite Blue Jays. John MacDonald is an absolute delight to have on the Jays. He is always interacting with fans before the game, he does anything the club tells him to do in a utility role and although he is small, the guy gives 100% every time he is called upon. Mothers, like mine, all across Canada love this guy and can’t wait for him get on the field. You can tell he has a genuine love for the game, even though he has never been in primary role.
In essence, he is the ‘Tiny Tim’ of the low-market Blue Jays club. Would John MacDonald ever have any place on the Yankees or Red Sox? No way. He’d be weeded out by ‘big names,’ ‘big talent’ and ‘big money!’ However, it is guys like him that represent ‘the good of the game’ and keep me watching!
Anyway, thanks for reading and I hope I didn’t freak anyone out too much.
Too much school right now! I’ve been writing essays about boring stuff, instead of blogging lately! It is actually hard for me to determine what is more productive? If I write this essay, I can get a degree? If I post on this blog, I will be happy? I wish baseball blogging, or writing, was a University program, lol!! Here is a taste of what I’ve been doing. CAUTION: You might burst into a deep sleep upon reading!
This paper will examine the explanations put forth for the overall lack of unionism and lack of workplace human rights in East Asia. The lack of unionism in the region, with regard to degradation of human rights in the workplace, draws on one distinct explanation. This explanation focuses on the organized tactics of spatial labour control that seeks to manipulate organizing threats of migrant workers in East Asia. The topics that will be studied, pertaining to this explanation, include migration, labour’s lack of political inclusion, the structural spatial control of labour, and the physical space that is manipulated by East Asian corporate elites. The idea of organized spatial control presented by Philip Kelly includes the following to explain crucial labour topics that contribute to the overall manipulation of human security in the workforce:
constructing the individual as an autonomous unit of negotiation; constructing the workplace as a container for dispute resolution; establishing the industrial estate as a denationalized and desocialized space; constructing spaces of national sovereignty and imagined national/ethnic community; and, the distancing of homeplace from workplace through the use of migrant workforces.
Enough of that!!!! Back to baseball!!
In this post, I wanted to dissect every MLB teams ‘staples,’ briefly since 2003. A ‘staple’, as known by many who take global political economy, is a single product that defines the economic standing of a region/country of the world. For instance, the ‘old south’ of the United States had ‘cotton’ as their staple, the Maritimes of Canada has ‘fish’, and Japan has ‘electronics’. I compare this to players on current MLB teams.
Many teams have the same type of ‘staples,’ as players in their organzation. Although in past years, these players might not be the best players on their teams. In my opinion, many of them can be percieved to be accountable for a club’s success or failure.
So lets take it back, and look at the players that have stuck with their clubs since 2003 until recently!
Starting with … surprise! surprise!
Toronto Blue Jays 2003 – Roy Halladay, Alex Rios and Vernon Wells
Almost no other team is as relevant to the 2003 ‘staple’ theory than the Blue Jays. The success of the Jays hinges on these players. The BIG word regarding them however is … INJURIES!!! It is hard to argue that these three players are NOT a strong nucleus to build a team around. Many will argee that these past years have seen the Jays go through a lot of bad luck with injuries, specifically regarding these staples! In 2005, Halladay was anchoring the Jays to a serious wild card run when Kevin (flippin) Mench smacked a ball of Halladay’s ankle ruining that year. Halladay has also had some arm trouble in past years. As far as Vernon Wells, I ask what year hasn’t he cause instability in the Jays lineup because of injury? He simply is our only legitimate threat in the lineup, and he is often either on the DL, or playing not because of injury. The Alex Rios project has seen it’s share of inconsistancies. The talent is there, but for some reason, you get the feeling we haven’t seen fully what he can do in a year. He can look like he is going to hit 40 HR’s then not hit one for 2 months? So case and point, the Jays have gone as these staples have gone. Very inconsistant, because of injury and what have you. Characteristics of a slightly better than mediocre team, which is what they have shown since 2003. Too much rambling on the Jays, sorry I couldn’t help it they are my team.
Boston Red Sox 2003 – Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez and Tim Wakefield
Ortiz did not start the 2003 season with Boston, but he was definately an early turning point for the team that won in 2004. Manny and Ortiz are what made Boston so strong! They are staples in themselves, instilling fear in the middle of that order. Without them, no 2 World Series would have been won. I would argue that life without Manny will be different for Boston, however, they are in the process creating their own ‘staples’ now with Pedoria and Youkilus. Varitek and Wakefield have been steady contributors. They give the team an identity. Varitek has arguably been the best catcher in baseball from a leadership perspective, and Wakefield might not get amazing numbers, but having him in the rotation is always something that teams and hitters have to prepare for. These staples have made Boston achieve great success since 2003. Tek and Wakefield will continue to do this, as Boston transitions out of the Manny/Ortiz (might be showing decline with injury) years.
Chicago White Sox 2003 – Paul Konerko, Joe Crede and Mark Buehrle
I’ll try to make this shorter. CWS won the World Series in 2005. They did it with great pitching that year (particularly from Buehrle). They also did it with hitting the long ball! Konerko and Crede definately exemplify that philosophy! Those players produced a ‘staple’ of success for Chicago in that year, and also last year making the playoffs. The AL Central is a tightly competitive division, so it is hard for any team to see constant prolonged success in that race.
Cleveland Indians 2003 – C.C. Sabathia, Travis Hafner and Cliff Lee
2003 was the year that these young players in Cleveland started to develop, and they did develop to guide the Indians into a 2007 playoff run (stopped by the Red Sox). Hafner has been hurt and inconsistant replacing Ellis Burks (old name) as the cleanup hitter in 2003, and Lee wasn’t that great until this year. These were strong and young ‘staples’ that helped Cleveland to a lot of success in 2007, and 2006 when they came close the playoffs. Losing Sabathia will hurt, however!
Detroit Tigers 2003 – Fernando Rodney, Brandon Inge and Nate Robertson
All these players were backups, or in the bullpen in 2003. Detroit had to reinvent themselves, and that led them to the World Series in 2006. Like I said before, in many cases these ‘staples’ may not be a team’s ‘best players’. These players all had ‘career years’ in 2006, and were great for Detroit in the playoffs. Proving my point once again, as the ‘staples’ go, so does the success of the team.
New York Yankees 2003 – Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina
A lot of them, huh. Arguably, what has made the Yankees so successful over these years is the fact that they have these steady guys (staples) on the club! Before this season, 13 straight playoff appearances, but have fallen victim to other hot American League/National League clubs. However they do it, in 2003 they did it with Robin Ventura, Raul Mondesi and Nick Johnson also in the lineup, they do it! The look of the Yankees become quite different without the presence of many of these players.
Oakland Athletics 2003 – Mark Ellis and Eric Chavez
Hard to have a staple on a team that reinvents itself that much! In 2003, Mulder, Hudson and Zito were the strength of that team! Mark Ellis is a steady player at second base, but Chavez has been a big dissappointment for the A’s. They signed him, which is amazing for the A’s just in that fact, but it backfired as injuries have plagued him. I thought Chavez was going to be a very promising player for years to come, it looked that way. He fell off, the A’s fell off! Maybe Beane will never sign anyone to a big deal ever again!
Seattle Mariners 2003 – Ichiro Suzuki
A great ‘staple’ to begin with, although he hasn’t been as amazing as he was in some years, Ichiro is the face of the Mariners. The point here is that it is only Ichiro! He needs the support of other ‘staple’ players, to help. Edgar Martinez was there in 2003, but he was far too old already. Brett Boone looked promising, but that was all drug induced. They haven’t had solid players that they could fill positions with and call ‘staples’ in years! ‘Staples’ are what characterize the Mariners lack of success in this case.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2003 – Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli
They were the Devil Rays in 2003, so I can call them that. Crawford is an absolutely electric player on the field! Signing him to a big deal was definately the right call, and as soon as the Rays got a better supporting cast around him, they succeed. Baldelli’s injury plagued career has set the Rays back in past years. The Rays drafting with the 1st pick, has made them able to develop new ‘staples’ that they NEED to hold onto in order to succeed further. Crawford was, by far, a standout player for years before 2009.
Texas Rangers 2003 – Michael Young, Hank Blalock and Joaquin Benoit
Pretty difficult when the only solid staple on your pitching staff, is not solid or a staple at all. The Rangers can always hit and score runs, Michael Young has definately been a big part of that, but the pitching is terrible. Chan Ho Park was their ACE in 2003. Blalock looked promising, but injuries have kept him from doing anything great. The Rangers were very troubled in the years leading up to now, their ‘staples’ were not sufficent and lacking in talent, especially in the pitching staff.
Minnesota Twins 2003 – Justin Morneau
2003 was Morneau’s first year, and while he, Tori Hunter and Johan Santana were the ‘staples’ of some Twins’ playoff teams, they find themselves in the situation of having to be more cost efficient. Morneau will keep the Twins competitive in the AL Central, as they have been, but the Central is usually a toss up every year, as to who will win? Can’t argue with the Twins, they usually play great baseball every year and are in the hunt, too bad the playoffs haven’t been kind to them! “At least they make the playoffs,” says a disgruntled Blue Jay fan!
Kansas City Royals 2003 – Absolutely Nobody!
I really feel for the Royals, always having to reinvent themselves. In 2003, the Royals had Carlos Beltran, key word HAD. But even if they resigned him to be a staple, would they be any good? Probably not, is the sad answer. This is their rotation in 2003!
1. Runelvys Hernandez 2. Darrell May 3. Miguel Ascencio 4. Shawn Sedlacek 5. Chris George
Haven’t even heard, or remember, the last two guys. Sadly, those type of players have become their ‘staples’.
Baltimore Orioles 2003 – Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora and Daniel Cabrera
All these players were not in the O’s starting lineup/rotation in 2003, they were just developing. Roberts is a fine player, but the others are simply mediocre. Again, their problem exist with the pitching staff, which is very inconsistant and does not have a significant ‘staple’. They’ve been a very mediocre club and so have their ‘staples’. You can’t tell too much looking into their ‘staples’. Sidenote: ex-Blue Jays Cy Young Pat Hentgen was on the Orioles in 2003, along with other ex-Jays David Segui and Tony Batista.
Anaheim Angels 2003 – Garret Anderson, Scott Shields, Francisco Rodriguez and John Lackey
After the year the Angels won the World Series, they only have four players remaining from that era today. An excellent vetern hitter, two guys that have anchored what is arguably the best bullpen in baseball year in and year out and a very solid starting pitcher. Since 2003, the Angels have done a lot of tinkering around these guys, like adding Vlad and getting rid of Eckstien, Glaus and Erstad. However, the strength of the Angels has always been their bullpen, and you can’t think of a more solid hitter for the team, than Garret Anderson! All these guys were staples of some very good Angel clubs, that often were featured in the playoffs.
Agree? Disagree with the 2003 staple theory? The NL next post!
 Phillip Kelly, “Spaces of Labour Control: Comparative Perspectives from Southeast Asia,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 27 no. 4 (2002): 398.