MLB Network Calls, 11.18.15

I love MLB Network on Sirius.  Great content which doesn’t dwell on one thing or another for too long – two days recapping the world series, and then on to other topics.  Even with not much going on, they have great content for much of the day, terrific hosts (though Russo is so crazy loud that I cannot have him on in the background at work, since you either have to turn it low enough that he doesn’t bother others, in which case you can’t hear anyone else, or turn up enough that you can hear everyone else and then get the stink-eye from passers by of my office when he is bellowing at the top of his lungs speaking in seemingly his only available tone and modulation of voice) and a ton of good guests.  I end up having conversations – well, arguments, mostly – with callers to the morning shows in my car on the way to work, and thought I would go over a couple of them while working out the posting kinks that I am trying to figure out.

  1. Caller expresses disbelief that Kris Bryant won ROY unanimously, because Matt Duffy certainly deserved first place votes.  In support, caller cites the facts that Duffy (i) has a better RISP and a better average, (ii) plays a lot better defense and (iii) plays in a bigger stadium than Bryant does.
    While these points are mostly true, it is baffling to me how this would lead to anyone voting for Duffy.  Yes, he has a slightly better RISP (though not 2-out RISP), and did bat 20 points higher, and from a dWAR perspective plays slightly better defense (1.2 for Duffy, 0.6 for Bryant), and does play in a bigger stadium (which I don’t think anyone believes is the primary difference in their relative offensive production), Bryant was so much better offensively, that the ROY was, appropriately, a foregone conclusion.  Setting aside the slight RISP and BA edge that Duffy has, Bryant led in everything prety much every other facet of the offensive game.  Bryant had more doubles, triples, home runs and walks, had 60 points more slugging, and (for those WAR lovers out there) was worth an extra full WAR (note that I typically refer to Baseball Reference WAR, rather than FanGraphs, primarily because I am much more facile with sifting though BR stats than FanGraphs.  As an aside, I like the concept of WAR, but since Bill James kinda cast shade on the accuracy of the various WAR formulae, I have been sure to take it with more of a grain of salt than most other seem to).  OK, yes, he struck out almost 200 times, but it’s not like Duffy is Joe Sewell, contact-wise, and in the current game, I think we have all begun to accept that a strikeout is not such a bad out after all, most of the time (especially when the striker outer in question has busty RISP stats, as both Duffy and Bryant do).
    The immediate thought I had, though, was ‘of course everyone voted for Byrant,’ because given the binary choice of who you would select if you had the first draft pick in a two player draft between Bryant and Duffy, every one of us (including probably Matt Duffy, if the selection were secret) would pick Bryant.  Well, maybe almost every one of us.
  2. Caller is baffled as to how last year Ned Yost finished third in the Manager of the Year race (the Royals expected to be terrible, and instead making the WS), but this year, after the Royals ran away with the division (pretty much literally) and winning the WS, he only finished sixth.
    I think that Yost, who has probably historically been considered a below average manager, got a lot of credit in 2014 because his team seemed to overcome the lack of almost any conventionally desirable attributes – power, walks, a good rotation – to go as far as he did with traditionally unappreciated strengths – defense, speed and a hellaciously good bullpen, all mortared together with a great clubhouse, let us say an unconventional love of the bunt, and a bunch of baffling, yet ultimately successful, game strategy choices by Yost.
    In 2015, things were tougher for ‘ol Ned MoTY wise for a few reasons.  First, people expected the Royals to perform, which is always a blow to the manager’s ‘of-the-year’ chances, since basically all you can do when you are expected to win is (a) screw up, (b) what you are expected to do, in which case, *shrug*, or (c) overcome some significant unforeseen obstacles, generally 2014 Texas Rangers or 2015 Washington Nationals level injury woes, and still actually perform as expected (see Matheny, Mike) or, I guess, (d) fail to overcome them (see Williams, Matt).  Second, the Royals play in a division that was simply awful, with the White Sox and the Tigers averaging just 75 wins, and the big divisional story being the Twins not being as abysmal as projected, riding some unexpected rookie performance to 83 wins, a mere 12 games behind the Royals, who seem to have clinched right around Carl Garner Federal Lands Cleanup Day (that’s September 12, for those few of you not up to speed on your obscure holiday celebrations).
    So really, I think to the voters, when they compared Yost to Banny (who after being handed Cole Hamels led his team, mostly written off at the all star break, back from the dead and into the playoffs), Hinch (who took the picked-to-maybe-finish-second-to-last-in-the-division Astros  two weeks short of wire-to-wire with a whole team full of interesting backstories and an unnatural love of the Rob Deer method) and Molitor (who was probably a big reason behind the previously referenced unexpected rookie performance of the also picked-to-maybe-finish-second-to-last-in-the-division Twins ) they saw a guy that pretty much just had to get out of the way, and let the ship steer itself.


About tongonation

Weapons Grade Curmudgeon
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