A Simple Kind of Fan. Live from Cancun 2.15.11
This will be a somewhat abbreviated post this week. After a month into the blog, I needed a vacation already! Hence, while you are reading this, I am away in Cancun and surely sunburned, inebriated, and incoherent. However, there are a few housekeeping items that I would like to touch on today while I bask in the sun. Amongst other items, I will be discussing and analyzing why Corey Hart and Casey McGehee should be switched in the order for 2011.
One thing I am quickly learning about the blogging business is that I am expert proofreader when it is not my work I am proofreading. This might be the single aspect of blogging I underestimated the most. I can certify that after proofreading the copies and posting them, I have always found a mistake almost immediately AFTER posting. My hats off to guys like Jim Breen, Kyle Lobner, and Dan Walsh who do this type of thing for a much bigger audience with barely an error.
Once the season starts to get into full swing, we will be adding a few more weekly talking points. As I have stated, we will be doing a fantasy baseball league this year. I will have more info on this in the next few weeks, but drop a line in the comments if you are interested in participating. The standard entry fee this year will be your mortgage, but first born children are also an acceptable form of payment.
One question I have had several people ask me about is the comments, and more specifically, why I do not respond to them. I typically will not reply to comments because of time constraints and sheer laziness. Almost all have been positive and I appreciate it. Rest assured, I read every one of these, and once the season starts, I will be dedicating more time to the comments. I will also be running a mailbag from time to time. No worries Shane, by the end of the season I will have convinced you unequivocally that keeping Rickie is much more critical to the long term health of the organization than keeping Prince. We will also start to look at previews for the division, the NL, and MLB. I will also have my projections for Brewer players before the opening of the season.
The “What the f*&# does that stat mean” stat of the week.
When comparing similar players, simply looking at batting averages, home runs, and RBIs is not enough to distinguish differences between them. One statistic I like to use when comparing players is ISO. Isolated Power (ISO) is a measure of a hitter’s raw power, in terms of extra bases per AB. The method to calculate this statistic is not a complicated process. The actual formula is ISO = (2B + (3B*2) + (HR*3)) / AB. Don’t get too caught up in the math. For A Simple Kind of Fan, ISO is easily calculated by taking a player’s slugging percentage minus his batting average. In simple terms, ISO is basically a ratio of Extra Base Hits per at bat.
Interestingly enough, ISO was created by the famous general manager Branch Rickey and Al Roth in the 1950′s (this pair also invented On Base Percentage). ISO attempts to quantify a player’s ability to hit for power as exhibited in extra base hits (doubles, triples, and home runs). While batting average counts all hits equally, and slugging percentage gives credit for total bases (but also counts singles), ISO measures just the player’s extra-base hitting abilities.
In 2010, the Major League average ISO was .167. The best power hitters in the game typically will have an ISO around .300. Let’s take a look at the Milwaukee Brewer position players and their ISO numbers in 2010, according to Fangraphs.
Rickie Weeks: .195
Corey Hart: .242
Ryan Braun: .197
Prince Fielder: .209
Casey McGehee: .179
Yuni Betancourt: .146
Jonathan Lucroy: .076
Carlos Gomez: .110
The numbers reveal what we already know. The top five hitters in the order all are above average hitters, in terms of extra base hits per at bats. Like others, I believe that McGehee should be hitting second and Hart fifth. Hart’s power, if repeated, helps provide a solid RBI punch after Prince. In addition, McGehee hits the ball to right field as well as any Brewer. A few weeks ago, I heard Doug Melvin say that the team is looking forward to being aggressive on the base paths and consequently will run into some outs over the course of the year. He specifically stated that the team will be much more aggressive going first to third.
Both McGehee (.337) and Hart (.340) had similar on base percentages in 2010. Two big differences between the players were ISO power and strikeout percentage. McGehee’s (16.7%) strikeout rate was much lower than Hart’s (25.1%) in 2010 and his ability to put the ball into play more consistently gives the team more options in the hit and run game over Hart with a 2 strike count. If the Brewers truly are going to be more aggressive running the bases in 2011, I predict it will start with switching McGehee and Hart in the order.
As I have stated many times, much of the success this season will rest upon the ability of Carlos Gomez to provide at least a minimum amount of consistent offense. Gomez can flat out fly and plays great defense, but he has not shown an ability to hit the ball with authority thus far in his career. Conversely, Yovanni Gallardo led the team in ISO with a mark of .254 last season. This statistic should lend credence to Yovanni hitting a minimum of eighth in the order, and I feel one could argue Yo should be hitting seventh on days he pitches. If you feel that is an unwarranted statement ask yourself this: It is two outs, bases loaded, and the Brewers are down one run in the 5th inning. Who do you want batting between Lucroy, Gomez, or Gallardo? If you actually watched the Brewers last year, the answer to that question is simple.
Of course, I also use this statistic in fantasy baseball. In the mid to late rounds I am constantly comparing ISO, WAR, and BABIP to ensure I get the best available player and not the biggest name. Here is a great article highlighting ISO and how you should use it to dominate your league. After all of the fantasy baseball tips you have received, you should have no problem dominating any league I am not also participating. While these advanced statistics are no guarantee of future results, they have served me very, very well over the years and will do so for you as well.
Throwback of the week.
It is an OUTRAGE that Ted Simmons is not in the Hall of Fame. Sleepy Simmons was a mainstay for the Brewers in their heyday. In fact, because of this outrage, I may write a future column highlighting his credentials. If you look at Simmons offensive accomplishments alongside the great Catchers of all time, he can hold his own. I understand when discussing the position of catcher, defense needs to be taken into account. However, Simmons offensive accomplishments overshadowed his below average defense. I have done all of the work and I have found you a Ted Simmons Throwback Jersey for less than $29! You are welcome.
Dates Appearing Closer on the Horizon
Thursday, February 17. First official workout. 2 days away!
February 28th. Split squad action kicks off the 2011 Spring Training Schedule