Tuesday, October 26, 2010

25 Baseball Players Playing in the Playoffs

Still not as good as FJM.

John Heyman was forced to write a baseball column on a day with no baseball. Instead of taking the obvious route (Why Choke-Rod choked away the Yankees' chance to win the World Series again and/or Why Choklie Manuel choked as a manager against San Francisco), he instead tried to give bad sports writing some new flavor. So +10 points.

It's about postseason heroes. Fine. +-0 points.

From this season. So... small sample size, but there should be a few, right? Maybe "5 postseason heroes so far." +5 points.

Uh oh. Minus a billion points.

Several players have enhanced their reputations this October, though none more so than the top two guys on this list -- the unheralded Cody Ross and the much-heralded Cliff Lee. Ross has done what no one expected, and Lee has done exactly what he did last postseason, undoubtedly en route to a stratospheric salary in 2011. Here is my list of 25 men who have enhanced their statures so far this October.

"Here's two guys who have done well in the postseason and 23 others. Holy crap. 25?! There have been 27 games played in the postseason this year. And 25 "heroes." This gets ugly, fast.

It might as well just be like, "Hey, here are some guys who are involved in the postseason." 25!

1. Ross. The former rodeo clown wanna-be was acquired by the Giants for nothing. Not only that, but they claimed him off the waiver wire partly just to block the Padres. The Marlins let him go only to save a measly $1 million, and at the time he looked like nothing more than an extra in the Giants' crowded outfield. Now he's earning folk hero status. He has shown: 1) that he's clutch, 2) that he can beat the best pitchers, and 3) you don't ever want to throw him an inside fastball. Has all three of the Giants' home runs in the NLCS.

So Heyman is already fighting an uphill battle because some of these are going to be downright nonsense. But he manages to fudge one of the gimmes up horribly with this analysis of Cody Ross:

1) He's clutch.
2) He can beat the best pitchers.
3) You don't ever want to throw him an inside fastball.

Ross is 7/23 in the playoffs this year with three home runs and is OPS-ing 1.385. Which is awesome and everything, but ... really? 23 at-bats and we're willing to attach all three of these to Cody Ross, a career slightly-above-average hitter?

Fun time: which of these three is the silliest? Mail your answers to no one, they're all stupid.

3. Buster Posey. The cleanup-hitting catcher must be making those who voted for someone else in the Rookie of the Year balloting second-guess themselves. It looked like a toss-up between Posey and Atlanta's Jason Heyward, but Posey bats cleanup for a team that may be headed to the World Series. Heyward was moved up in his lineup, but only to No. 2, and put up numbers that were not much better in many more games. Some might suggest that the Giants could have called Posey up earlier, but maybe they waited for exactly the perfect time. It isn't easy catching this young pitching staff, and he's doing it marvelously. "As good as Joe Mauer at the same age," one competing executive said.

"Take that, people who voted against Buster Posey in an award based on regular-season play! Look how good this guy is in the postseason! [Posey's postseason OPS is .612 (I know it's a small sample size but still, how is this guy a "postseason hero"?)]"

Also, this is shooting fish in a barrel but:

Buster Posey, age 23: .305/.357/.505, 129 OPS+
Joe Mauer, age 23: .347/.429/.936, 144 OPS+ (holy shit!)

Mauer please.

Number four is Matt Cain, which is perfectly fine because he's pitched really well (Obviously two was Lee). Five is Halladay, which I believe proves that this list isn't in any kind of order (?). Six is Lincecum, whatever.

So there are six guys I guess you could call, at least semi-defensibly, "postseason heroes." But ah, clever reader, you correctly recalled that Jon Heyman is trudging forth with another 19 "heroes", do you? Well done. Where will he pull them from? Choose the correct answer:

(A) His ass
(B) A

7. Robinson Cano. No less than Reggie Jackson said he could see Cano hitting three home runs in a big postseason game. So far, he has four overall and is batting .387.

This was written on Friday, and then the Yankees went out and lost, so Cano never got his chance to hit three home runs in a game, which was, I guess, predicted (?) by Reggie Jackson, which makes him a playoff hero.

So just in case you're keeping track, the first six are on this list by merit of playing well in the postseason. Other ways to be a "hero":

- Have Reggie Jackson think you could hit three home runs in a game.

8. Elvis Andrus. Folks understood that he could field, but seeing him up close makes a difference. Also, being compared occasionally to Omar Vizquel doesn't hurt, either. Hitting .344 for the postseason.

Be "occasionally" compared to Omar Vizquel. Also, at any point, an editor at SI could come in and take out the word "hero" and change it to "some people who are playing pretty well in the postseason." But then I wouldn't have taken issue with this and I'd be doing work right now.

Nine is Wilson, who probably loses points because he doesn't remind Jon Heyman of anyone.

10. Andy Pettitte. His reputation as a big-game pitcher wasn't hurt when he picked up his record 19th postseason win in Game 2 of the ALDS.

"People thought he was good and he was pretty good." There are 15 entries left on this list.

11 is Mo and is badly written but whatever. Now we get to the fun part.

12. Bruce Bochy. The Giants' manager has taken a few hits but he's a very solid manager who has brought together a collection of players that sure doesn't look like it should be beating the Phillies. Never had a shot at winning the World Series with the 1998 Padres, his only other pennant-winning team, but his rotation gives him a chance this time.

Yes, Bochy outmanaged Charlie Manuel, for as much as a guy can get outmanaged. But I will argue to the death, as did the blog I steal this idea from now, that a manager doesn't coach up Cody Ross to hit home runs. But to Heyman, he's a hero. A HERO.

Firefighters on 9/11
Soldiers dying for our freedom
Bruce Bochy for being a "very solid manager"

13. Nelson Cruz. According to Mark Teixeira, Cruz could be baseball's next superstar. A throw-in along with Carlos Lee in the trade that sent the two of them to the Rangers in 2006, Cruz is hitting .378 with four homers. He's hoping to play on Friday night despite a tight hamstring.

14. Bengie Molina. Nobody but Texas really wanted him when the Giants were looking to get rid of him because they were about to promote Posey to the majors. Yet, here is Molina in the postseason again, eight years after being the starting catcher on the Angels' World Series title team, contributing for the Rangers with a big home run vs. the Yankees in ALCS Game 4.

Qualifications to be a postseason hero, by Jon Heyman

- Reggie Jackson talked about you
- You sometimes remind people of Omar Vizquel
- Mark Teixeira thinks you're good
- You've played in the playoffs before

15. Juan Uribe. Bad wrist and all, he has delivered at the plate and in the field. Has timed a very good all-around season with impending free agency.

Ugh, Juan Uribe? This is a bucket of wrong. First off, Uribe is hitting .214 this postseason, and actually in a not-too-terribly small sample size, he is hitting .220 and OPSing .631 in 92 postseason plate appearances. This guy sucks. Also, what part of this season was "very good all-around?" The 99 OPS+?

In my estimation, hitters are judged on the following criteria:

Getting on base

Now let's see how Juan Uribe did in his "very good all-around season":

Hitting: He hit .248 this season. That's not good.
Defense: Zone rating puts his runs saved above average at a whopping: 0. That seems average to me.
Speed: Obviously not known for his feet, but he somehow managed get caught stealing 2/3 times he ran.
Power: 24 HR, which is good. .440 SLG, which is alright, isn't it?
Getting on base: .310 OBP = NOT GOOD.

So Juan Uribe, who was good in one facet of the game, average in one, and bad at everything else, and who has never been good in the postseason (unless you count the 10 ABs in the 2005 ALDS), is a "postseason hero." Jon Heyman gets paid to make this claim based on: nothing.

16. Ryan Madson. He has looked dominant in the setup role, with eight K's in 5 2/3 scoreless innings.

Two days later, Madson gave up the series-winning run. Obviously Heyman isn't a fortune teller but this is what happens when you list 25 people as "playoff heroes."

17 is Kinsler, fine. 18 is Cole Hamels, who actually pitched really well. It must be that Ryan Madson reminds Heyman of Goose Gossage, whereas Brett Myers said Hamels only reminds him of Curt Schilling.

This is a waste of time.

There are still SEVEN more people on this list.

19. Aubrey Huff. Had a reputation as a snarky guy who played for losers. But here he is batting third for a team one game from the World Series, and he's one of their stand-up guys in the clubhouse.

Qualifications to be a postseason hero, by Jon Heyman

- Reggie Jackson talked about you
- You sometimes remind people of Omar Vizquel
- Mark Teixeira thinks you're good
- You've played in the playoffs before
- Bat third for the Giants

20. Mike Maddux. Rangers pitching coach has done a nice job once again with a young staff.

Mike Maddux. Postseason hero. The basketball coach that pulled a guy from a burning car, and Mike Maddux for making C.J. Wilson a starter.

21. Travis Wood. Talented Reds youngster outpitched Aroldis Chapman in the NLDS, throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings. He was also the only one to hit the ball hard vs. Halladay in his no-hitter.


22. Jonny Venters. Some suspected that Bobby Cox overused him, but he came through with 5 1/3 scoreless postseason innings that included eight strikeouts.

You might think that Wood should be below Venters because this arbitrary hero ranking list because Venters has two more scoreless innings, but you're forgetting to factor in the +3.54 HERO factor (HERO stands for HEyman Rating Order) that Wood's hard hit added to his overall numbers.

23. Jayson Werth. Carl Crawford will still probably be favored by most teams because he's three years younger and an even better runner. But five-tool outfielders who come up with big hits like Werth has fare well in free agency. He's hitting only .214 in the postseason but showing power, defense and speed.

Seriously, he's a "hero."

The last two are Dave Righetti and Jose Contreras. I have no fight left in me. This was stupid.

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