Marquis de Blah

With the All-Star rosters unveiled, Charlie Manuel showed that you can be a championship-winning manager and have no more intelligence than your average fan when it comes to putting together an All-Star team. Picking Jason Marquis over Ubaldo Jimenez vividly illustrates that point that Manuel is still living in the dark ages.

Ubaldo Jimenez is what the All-Star game should be about — showcasing the brightest and the best talent in the major leagues. For starters, he throws consistently harder than any major league starting pitcher, averaging 95.6 MPH on his fastball. Obviously, putting together an All-Star pitching staff should not based upon finding the pitchers who throw the hardest, but it doesn’t hurt that Jimenez is also really, really good. His fielding-independent ERA (FIP) is 3.33, 7th among NL starting pitchers, and his wins above replacement total is 2.9, good for 5th best. To to sum up: Jimenez is young, he has electric stuff and is pretty stinkin’ good at pitching.

Jason Marquis on the other hand is leading the NL in the preeminent Wins category, with 10 to his credit. What Manuel seems to have forgotten is that Jason Marquis is the definition of a back-end starting pitcher (with a career FIP of 4.88). He forgot that Marquis has an average repertoire and is striking out just 4.2 batters per nine innings. He overlooked the fact Marquis is getting lots of run support, at 7 per game. Marquis does have a near-identical ERA as Jimenez (3.87), but he is exactly the type of pitcher you expect burn up as he hurtles quickly back to earth. His rest-of-season ZiPS projection calls for a 4.73 FIP. All Manuel saw was 10 Wins.

I don’t expect an old school manager to care about rest of season ZiPS, FIP or WAR, but I would think they would know the difference between an ace and a back-end starter having a fluky first-half of a season. And who wouldn’t want Ubaldo Jimenez coming out of their bullpen, pumping in 100 MPH fastballs? Few fans get the privilege of seeing Jimenez pitch with him tucked away in Colorado, and unfortunately they’re not going to get the chance to see him shine on one of baseball’s biggest stages.




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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.


27 Responses to “Marquis de Blah”

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  1. trevor says:

    Javy Vasquez is even more deserving. He’s been the 3rd best pitcher in the NL according to WAR. With that 5-7 record I didn’t really think he had a chance though.

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  2. Joel says:

    Eh, the logic of this piece is sound, but I can’t help that if we’re talking about ASG snubs, it’d be better talking about Javier Vazquez and Jair Jurrjens getting ignored, or perhaps why Tim Wakefield is even near an ASG much less in one. For what it’s worth it’s not like Marquis is having a bad season, and I’m always wary of sabermetric evaluations of groundball pitchers regardless.

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    • Erik Manning says:

      Sure, understandable. But if you’re going to take a Colorado pitcher, Ubaldo would have to be your guy.

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    • Judy says:

      Obviously, there are pitchers who deserve it more based on performance, but the Wakefield pick is less of a mindless choice based on w-l record than it is using his win total as an excuse to give the guy a lifetime achievement award. I don’t know if that makes it better, worse, or the same. But I’d also be even more wary of sabermetric evaluations of knuckleball pitchers than groundball ones.

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      • Joe says:

        Agreed. The Wakefield choice is really a reward to a guy who has been a model citizen and stand up baseball guy. I can certainly live with the choice.

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  3. Jay S. says:

    I think we all know what the managers say about choices like this:

    “He’s been around a while. He’s earned it.”

    Or some crap like that…

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  4. lester bangs says:

    Charlie Manuel can’t even figure out that it’s a bad idea to stack two or three LH hitters in his lineup, consecutively. You want him to understand FIP? Not gonna happen.

    There are travesties in every ASG roster fill, but Marquis/Jimenez doesn’t get me riled up, no matter that Jimenez is clearly the more talented pitcher. Same ERA and more wins, sure, Marquis is gonna get the nod. That’s just how the old guard thinks. Vazquez should be there over both of them, in a perfect world.

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    • Davidceisen says:

      When your best hitters are Utley, Howard, Werth, and Ibanez it is kind of hard not to stack LH hitters. Maybe he should use Ruiz in between Utley and Howard?

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      • Joe Twinsfan says:

        Span, Mauer, Morneau, and Kubel put the Twins in a similar bind.

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      • don says:

        Two in a row is probably unavoidable, and Utley doesn’t have much of a platoon split anyway. Playing the three big lefties back to back to back seems dumb to me though, especially since Werth hits lefties so well.

        Against a righty starter, I wonder what the value of having your three best hitters vs. righties back to back to back the first three times through the order is compared to what you lose with that setup against the bullpen. Hmm…

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      • lester bangs says:

        I can see two in a row, but there’s no need to go three in a row, it’s just a gift to the other team. And Werth, of course, is right-handed.

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  5. lester bangs says:

    Also keep in mind that it’s *possible* someone on the Rockies was consulted and they pushed for Marquis. Jim Tracy doesn’t strike me as a new-age numbers cruncher, either.

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  6. Jamie says:

    he went with marquis because the phillies are going to try and trade for him.

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  7. brandon says:

    Gallardo and Vazquez are both scheduled to pitch on the 12th for their teams, so that effectively eliminates them from consideration (unless you want to carry more pitching dead weight). Marquis is scheduled for the 11th and Jimenez for the 10th, so Ubaldo wins that tiebreaker, as well.

    I’m with Erik, my guess is that Charlie saw the numbers and decided to go with the veteran rather than the young player.

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  8. Lucid Judas says:

    The All Star Game is all about politics. How could it not be? The players are elected after all.

    As Jamie pointed out, the Phillies may have interest in dealing for Marquis, making his selection to the ASG a very shrewd move that could actually help his ball club in the long run. Sending Ubaldo could actually hurt the Rockies, giving him one more bargaining chip come contract time.

    I completely agree that Ubaldo is the better pitcher and Manuel is certainly aware of this, otherwise he’d have them re-ordered in the rotation. I’d argue that his selection of Marquis demonstrates that he is competent of the facts at hand as well as the context of the situation. How often does selecting an All Star have the potential to give you better leverage in trade talks and contract negotiations?

    I think it is more likely that he sent Marquis because of the numbers you have high lighted, not in spite of them.

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    • Desu says:

      what is this I don’t even

      I’m under the impression that you think Manuel is the manager of the Rockies. There’s no other way your post makes sense.

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      • Lucid Judas says:

        I just realized that… oh well, would have been interesting if he was.

        In my defense, prior to this year I’ve never been much of a baseball fan so I’m still learning all the players, managers, etc.

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  9. puck says:

    Maybe the all star game is about showcasing young talent as the author states. Maybe it’s about the game “counting” and thus, trying to win the game. Or, maybe it’s also about rewarding guys who may only now be excelling at the level where it’s feasible to put them on the team, but who have been contributing to good teams. With the gigantic roster size, I’d like to think there’s room for at least a little of all these sorts of things.

    In Marquis’s defense–he and Hawpe (and Helton) have been the 3 guys who have been good for the Rockies from opening day. Marquis has pitched well in his wins–0 “cheap wins” as per bb-ref. Both he and Jimenez have pitched a lot of innings, but Marquis has a slight lead there entering today’s start (6.8 IP/start for Marquis to 6.5), and has been doing it with far lower pitch counts, and that’s been important given the poor performance of the Colorado pen.

    Now, I’m not arguing that these things alone make for a *good* all star selection, thus I think there are more deserving non-Colorado starters. However, if Manuel was going to pick a Rockies starter, I don’t have a problem with it being Marquis if the idea was to use the choice to recognize someone for a job well done. Marquis is a big reason why the Rockies have a shot at a playoff spot.

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  10. Will says:

    Sabermetrics fascinate me, though I don’t come close to fully understanding them. I will tell you on this one, though, that you’re dead wrong. Marquis deserves to be there.

    To me, the All-Star Game isn’t about showcasing young talent. It’s about showcasing the game’s best players, regardless of age. Marquis has been one of the top pitchers in the NL this year.

    Jimenez had a horrid April. Marquis has had 2 bad outings all season. Every other game that he’s pitched in, the team has had a chance to win, and they usually have. He’s leading the NL in wins, and he has a low ERA. He should have 12 wins, but the bullpen blew two of his leads late in games. If he’s not an All-Star, nobody is.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge Rockies fan, and I love Ubaldo Jimenez. I would love it if he were there, and maybe some numbers say he should be, but Sabermetrics don’t win games. Consistent pitchers do.

    You also have to be aware that Jimenez can sometimes be prone to giving up a big inning. Often when he does, it’s his first inning, when he’s not as loose as later in the game. With Manuel managing the team, he has the idea that if he wins, it gives the NL the home-field advantage in the World Series. He’s gotta manage as if he plans to be there in October, and that means going with the guy that is less prone to the big inning.

    Marquis deserves to be there long before Jimenez does.

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    • wobatus says:

      I have to say I agree that Marquis over jimenez doesn’t bother me a bit, and I have Jimenez in my fanatasy league, and Marquis is a free agent in my league-no one trusts him to keep it up I guess. :)

      Marquis has more wins. Yes, wins are based on how the team does and is a flawed stat, but it is what it is. He has a better era, also a flawed stat, but this is even more so it is what it is. marquis has given up fewer earned runs? Luckier babip? Yeah, so? This is akin to a trader going to his boss and saying ya know, the stocks and bonds I picked were fundamentally much stronger-uh, unfortunately, they went down and the other guy got lucky and chose a stock that went up even though it is way overvalued.

      Marquis, of course, has induced a lot of grounders. So has Jimenez, but marquis’s perecentage is a tad higher. marquis also has walked fewer batters.

      You can complain all you want to about the fact Jimenez SHOULD have been luckier, given up fewer hits based on his kl rate. He didn’t. And he certainly walked more, not many, but enough. And the runs scored by the rockies in their 17 starts each were almost thes ame. 79 for marquis, 75 for jimenez. So, I guess they were placed better for Marquis, but the only reason that might matter is as a predictor of their future results. On results to date, marquis has him beat.

      Is Jimenez a better pitcher? Oh, sure he is. Has he been better year to date? Well, maybe. Marquis has had very nice results. You fangraphoids even had an article about him that didn’t completely dismiss him. And teams are ranked by, uh, how many games they win and lose. Rockies have won more of marquis’ starts, whoever gets the credit. And yes, he has given up a few more unearned runs than Ubaldo, but in 8 more innings.

      Actually, Ubaldo does get a little wilder as a game goes on. That has been an issue with him, perhaps even more than the early innings. For example, he lost the Arizona game July 5, was leading until the 6th, had a no hitter thru 4 or so, he gave up 3 runs in the 6th and one in the 7th and walked 5 guys. May 27th against Dodgers he had bad luck but led the game and gave up 3 in 7th and lost a game he was leading.

      And when is Marquis going to go 11-5 with a sub 4 era in Coors again by the break? he should go. Jimenez will presumably get another shot. But even if he doesn’t, you can’t penalize a guy because he didn’t get it done the way you want him to. Yes, process beats results in planning for the future, but for a selection based on results that have, ya know, resulted already, you have to look at what happened. nless you want to change the game of baseball completely and say it doesn’t matter how many games teams win, at the end of the season we’ll do a regression of all babips, k rates, homer to flyball rates, come up with how many runs SHOULD have been scored and given up by each team, do a pythagorean for their expected w-l based on that and call the winner of that exercise champions.

      If Marquis had in fact given up 5 runs a game and still went 11-5, i wouldn’t send him. He didn’t. He gave up the fewer walks. He got the grounders, the dp at the right time, or got the key out late in aclose game instead of weakening, whatever.

      And frankly, even if he K’d no one and was rescued by stellar d left and right that somehow failed to show for Jimenez, I’d still want to see that flukey lucky guy. Justlike i wanted to see Fidrych back in his magical season in the ’70s even though he was striking out no one. not that marquis is that kinda fan favorite or show, but you get the idea. He did it. Why deny it?

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  11. Andrew says:

    The way Marquis pitched tonight (.597 WPA) is a pretty good example of why he’s an all-star. Ubaldo is still a year or two away.

    Go Rockies!

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  12. Matt B says:

    I love how Charlie Manuel’s stats and his career .260 Slg were included on the sidebar, haha.

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  13. DavidA says:

    I realize I’m a bit late to comment on this, but I was wondering something in regard to FIP projections for groundball pitchers. Does the formula take into account their increased propensity for inducing double plays? It seems like this would be a big factor for pitchers like Marquis (at least the Marquis of 2009, who is sporting a 57.7% GB rate at the break). I believe their ERAs should be lower relative to their WHIP, due to the extra baserunners that are being erased due to the DPs. (The lower HR rate would be another factor obviously, but I assume that is already factored in.)

    just curious about that. i thought i saw a similar phenomenon for D. Lowe too, at least prior to this year. seems like for GB pitchers, the FIP projection is on average a good bit higher than their actual ERA.

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  14. Joe R says:

    This is where I tend to deviate from the pack in terms of thinking: pitcher stats.

    If a pitcher can induce tons of grounders while limiting walks and homers, that’s just as valuable as one that strikes out a ton of guys.

    I only post in here today because I’m all riled up after Mark Buehrle scored one for the worm killers.

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