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by Dave Cameron - August 29, 2011
Dan Szymborski FanGraphs Chat
60g Home .332/.404/602 1.006 OPS 15HR
53g Road .257/322/449 .771OPS 9HR
65 Home .355/.425/.645 1.070 OPS 16HR
68 Road .241/.318/.432 .750 OPS 9HR
If you’re willing to believe that Morrow’s should-be-context-neutral-skill with runners on base is actually worse than average, why is it so hard to believe that Ryan Howard hits better with men on base (therefore increasing his utility to the team?). While a slight loss of break on a curveball or speed on a fastball out of the stretch is hard to see for an average fan watching on TV, in the case of Howard the defenders play in (significantly) different positions with men on base as they do with no one on base. It’s really hard not to notice this. The no-one-on-base positioning is where they play to have the best chance of getting Howard to make an out; when men are on base they need to play him in a less effective alignment in order to prevent stolen bases. Five years of numbers back up that Howard is a better hitter with men on base. I know that it might be difficult to re-write WAR for the few (but increasing) guys who defenses shift against and therefore hit better with men on base. The fact that it is difficult to fix does not excuse pretending it’s not perfect though, and I don’t think it’s fair to use that stat as a hammer to pound him when it misses (and is designed to miss) a noticeable and repeatable skill for Howard of hitting with men on base.
As for whether he’s a better keeper than Freeman in fantasy baseball, aside from proving your Fangraphs bona fides by making fun of Howard (congrats on doing so), there’s really no plausible argument for that.
I see this issues as different (and I left open the *possibility* of *some* effect, which is short of wholeheartedly embracing the concept). Pitcher “on-base vs. bases empty” hasn’t been researched to the same degree that it has with hitters and with pitching from the stretch is a mechanical change to a degree that hitters simply don’t face in subtler approach changes.
If I haven’t already established my snark at this point, after 15 years of baseball snarking (like writers such as Law, Kahrl, or Zumsteg, I came through mid-90s usenet), then I really need to start upping my game!
Snark well noted. In retrospect, my last comment should have been more clearly directed at the question not the answer.
Ackley has more WAR than Jennings among mid-season call-ups. Not a huge difference, and Jennings did it in fewer games, but there it is.
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