Please Move Matt Kemp Up

The bottom of the order in the National League is reserved for pitchers and usually the worst hitters. This season, the average 7-9 slot is occupied by a non-pitcher hitting .249/.320/.381 – the equivalent of Luis Castillo. For whatever reason, Joe Torre has decided to up the ante for those lower-hole hitters by placing Matt Kemp in the tier – the same Kemp with a higher OPS than Ryan Howard.

Kemp is the Dodgers second best hitter when sorted by wOBA or wRAA. Entering last night’s game his line was .305/.369/.474 and yet in 52 of his 81 appearances this season Kemp has batted 7th or lower, and only two of those appearances came as a pinch hitter. Most nights Torre is running out a lineup that goes in order as follows: Rafael Furcal, Orlando Hudson, Manny Ramirez, Andre Ethier, Casey Blake, James Loney, Russell Martin, Matt Kemp, and then the pitcher.

Kemp might not even be the biggest issue with this current lineup since Furcal is receiving the most plate appearances while boasting a .297 wOBA. Furcal is better than that, but if hitting poorly (or really well in Kemp’s case) has no affect on Joe Torre’s lineup plans, then why have Casey Blake, Russell Martin, and Juan Pierre been able to slip and slide batting slots based on their performances?

Torre’s been blessed with a large lead in the standings so early in the season that the Dodgers’ playoff chances are sealed. Batting Kemp 8th isn’t going to cost the Dodgers the division and probably not even the top seed, but what message is Torre sending to Kemp and to opposing managers by keeping a stellar hitter in front of the pitcher? Kemp’s placement seems to extend beyond performance, and that’s too bad, after all Torre is supposed to be the master of managing egos and personalities, and here he is hurting his team by flexing his own.




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178 Responses to “Please Move Matt Kemp Up”

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  1. Josh Wexler says:

    Maybe it’s something in the LA water. After giving Jeff Mathis the majority of PAs at catcher all season, Mike Scioscia has finally started playing Mike Napoli a bit more over the past week or so… and batting him eigth!

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  2. DavidCEisen says:

    Letting Furcal try to play out his funk makes sense for the Dodgers, but they should probably switch Hudson and Kemp. Its crazy that Kemp isn’t on pace to hit either 100 RBI or score 100 runs, which is a great example of the uselessness of those two metrics. It almost makes me wonder if the Dodgers are trying to save some money in arbitration: “Sure he gets on base and runs the bases well, but he doesn’t knock ‘em in or get home often enough”, yadda yadda. I have a feeling they don’t care too much about advanced metrics in arbitration courts.

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    • Steve Shane says:

      bat kemp 2nd over Hudson??? are you crazy???

      This is a prime example of an false argument made by “stat ppl” without considering how the game is actually played in real life.

      what are the qualities you want in your #2 hitter (especially in the NL)
      1) can handle the bat/ie high contanct rate. Hudson has a career 84% contact and 83% this year, Kemp is 73% and 73%
      2) doesnt strike out a lot. Hudson has never had >100 K in a season, Kemp is a 150 K/yr guy
      3) doesnt have a low #P/PA. both have basically the same at 3.95 this year, with hudson having a slight edge career wise.
      4) can lay a sac bunt down. I dont know if Kemp can bunt, Hudson sure can.

      Do I agree that kemp is getting screwed batting 8th, yes, but bat 2nd, no.

      and I think most ppl realize that RBIs and Runs are lineup spot dependent. No one is going to score 100 Runs batting 8th, but Runs is an important stat for your top of the lineup and RBIs are important for your middle of the order.

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      • Joe Twinsfan says:

        The general point of lineup construction is that you want to get your best hitters lower in the lineup to get them more PAs. Torre is failing at this. Whether or not Kemp can lay a bunt down is irrelevant-it is outweighed by the postive value he would bring in getting him extra spots in the bat. Also, its not as if Hudson has been setting the world on fire in the two hole. He’s barely cleared the Mendoza Line over the last month. SSS I realize, but come on, Kemp is playing like a superstar here.

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      • Teej says:

        Your lineup is sure to go 1-2-3 only in the first inning. And you probably shouldn’t be sacrificing a runner to second in the first inning anyway. The idea that a No. 2 hitter has to be Placido Polanco has always been confusing to me. Why?

        This is a prime example of an false argument made by “stat ppl” without considering how the game is actually played in real life.

        Well, in real life, the No. 2 hitter comes to the plate with the bases empty more than any spot behind him, according to Tango and Co.’s research in The Book. And he sees a higher number of important at-bats than the No. 3 hitter. I’d rather give more plate appearances to my best hitters, and you generally want your best hitter in the 2 or 4 hole. I’d have no problem hitting Kemp second.

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      • RollingWave says:

        Since Furcal never gets on base nowadays anyway. why does it matter if the #2 guy can lay down a bunt?

        And in today’s game. if your leadoff man gets on in the first inning, do you actually bunt? it’s likely 0-0 and with a whole damn game to play, most sane coachs would just let him hit and see if they can get a bigger inning out of this. which kinda makes this point irrelevant. since the chances of your number two guy being up with your lead off man on in the later innings with no out and a 1 run game would happen maybe twice a month.

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      • Joe R says:

        “And in today’s game. if your leadoff man gets on in the first inning, do you actually bunt?”

        You do if you’re Jerry Manuel. BOOM.

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      • Joe R says:

        There is so much wrong with this post it’s silly
        1) Bunting is stupid
        2) O-Dawg sits on 20 Sac hits in his now nearly 8 season career. Juan Pierre, for comparison, has 109.
        3) Kevin Youkilis batted 2nd in the 2007 ALCS. He’s about to strike out over 100 times for the 4th season in a row. He’s awesome and the Red Sox won the World Series.
        4) Hudson’s historically been more patient, I will give that. Kemp’s also 24. I have a hunch that this is a skill he can develop, cause, ya know, 24 isn’t exactly a grizzled vet.

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  3. b_rider says:

    I noticed this when the Mariners played the Dodgers recently. What is Torre thinking? Is it because he is a CF, and he thinks that CFs are supposed to hit at the bottom of the order? Similarly, Wakamatsu was batting Gutierrez 8th and 9th for most of the season, despite the fact that he is one of the best hitters on the team at working the count.

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  4. fan says:

    Can I solicit some All-Star votes as well? Sad to think he gets robbed of that feat by batting 8th in the line-up. Vote Kemp! at dodgers.com

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  5. Joe Twinsfan says:

    I feel this is as good a time as any to make the argument for Kemp to be voted into the All Star Game. Kemp’s combination of his 305/.369/.474 slash line and an absolutely silly 10.1 UZR in center ranks him 4th(!) among all position players in the NL in WAR, behind only only Pujols, Utley, and Ramirez. You only have a few hours left so get to it!

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  6. Tom B says:

    maybe torre just doesn’t have a clue, like we’ve been saying in NY for about 5 years

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  7. Steve C says:

    This should not really apply to Kemp unless he has always been in the bottom of the order. Is it possible that batting in front of the pitcher is inflating his OBP and helping him learn better pitch recognition / selection? Similar yet opposite to the idea of having two sluggers back to back. Except in this case Kemp will see a lot fewer good pitches to hit because “no one” is behind him.

    Just trying to play devils advocate a little. Though the Red Sox let Bill Mueller win a batting title hitting at the end of the order.

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    • Davidceisen says:

      Hitting 9th in the AL is not equivalent to hitting 8th in the NL. Mueller was hitting ‘in front of’ the top of the order, so he needed to be pitched to.

      Kemp has seen 50.2% of his pitches in the zone this year, compared to 50.6% last year. The biggest difference in pitches seen this year from last is 1st pitch strike, but he is swinging at 5% less balls.

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  8. dbuff says:

    Torre actually hit Kemp 9th in some interleague games. The idea that you would give your 2nd best hitter app. 10% less AB’s by hitting hit in that spot is obviously irrational. If the opposing manager were allowed to set the Dodgers batting order he would hit Kemp 8th. Apparently this is an ego thing.

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    • aweb says:

      I like that way of thinking about it – where would an opposing manager bat Kemp if he got to choose for the Dodgers? It doesn’t seem likely to be 8th…Loney’s been average or worse for almost two years now, Martin has turned into Gregg Zaun (takes a walk, not much else).

      The stangest thing with Kemp to me is that it’s not like this is an unexpected hot streak or breakout year. His defensive numbers have vastly improved, but his offense was about teh same in 2007, and not that far off in 2008.

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  9. Will says:

    Maybe they just have something against Kemp in LA. At one point last year they were benching him regularly in favor of Juan Pierre. It’s just absolutely ridiculous. He’s losing plate appearances to significantly worse hitters.

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  10. Mo Wang says:

    Blake, Hudson, and Pierre all had monster performances in May, while Kemp was not doing too well, and so Kemp quickly found himself at the bottom of the order. But Torre refuses to switch things up now even though things are starting to even out. Since June 1st, here are how the batters have fared:

    Blake: .270/.333/.405/.739
    Hudson: .211/.258/.325/.583
    Pierre: .282/.331/.339/.670
    Furcal: .261/.349/.387/.737
    Loney: .261/.331/.426/.757
    Martin: .216/.339/.258/.597
    Ethier: .244/.311/.563/.874
    Loretta: .152/.204/.196/.400

    Kemp: .310/.368/.460/.828

    Kemp has had the highest AVG and OBP (and has been one of the better power hitters) on the team since June 1st yet Torre still places him in the worst lineup spot in the order. Blake is batting cleanup still, which is dumb. Furcal has been eating up outs all year long. Martin is a terrible hitter this year and there is no logical reason for batting Kemp behind him. Torre even put Loretta ahead of Kemp during interleague games with a DH available. Kemp batted 9th in the AL ballparks. Kemp was almost exclusively put in the bottom third of the lineup for all of June except for days when a veteran (like Blake, Hudson, Furcal, etc) got a day off. If Kemp was lucky he could creep up to the 6 hole in those cases.

    Just look at the 3-4-5 hitters now that Manny is back. The fact that Torre willingly surrounds Manny with Hudson/Blake as opposed to Kemp/Ethier shows that Torre is just being lazy and sticking with veterans over younger guys for the premium batting positions for no good reasons. It is going to take a really bad losing streak for Torre to change this lineup up the way it needs to be changed. He batted Ethier and Kemp in the 7th/8th spots yesterday against the Mets. It is pretty ridiculous that he lets Hudson and Furcal and Martin all consistently bat ahead of these guys. I remember many times during June thinking that Torre’s lineup actually would have been more optimal if it had been listed in reverse order.

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  11. sleepy in seattle says:

    The last time he batted 2nd he was 0-3 with 4 total pitches seen. The last time he batted 5th, Kemp responded with an 0-6, 4 K performance. I have been very selfish in wishing Kemp would bat higher in the lineup for my own fantasy team purposes. In real life, he needs to keep batting lower in the order. He is obviously more comfortable and has gotten used to the lower spots. Joe Torre has even said that he like the more rounded lineups aka like the late 90′s yanks. Keep the pressure off Matty

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    • Teej says:

      One time I saw Barry Bonds strike out.

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    • kensai says:

      Remember last year when Rafael Furcal got hurt and Torre threw Matt Kemp into the 1 and 3 hole? How’d he do then?

      I’ll wait while you look up the splits.

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    • CH says:

      The lineup is still well-rounded if James Loney and Russ Martin hit 7/8 with Kemp hitting 6th. Or if Kemp hits 5th bumping Blake, Loney and Martin to 6/7/8.

      You could just as easily move him up to 4th, 2nd or 1st, and the lineup would still be well-rounded provided that the same players are still playing. 8 solid players are 8 solid players, but your best non-Manny player should be in a consequential spot in the order. At the moment, his production is being (semi-)wasted.

      If well-rounded lineups were that important, the Giants would use Sandoval and Molina in the 7 and 8 slots so they could “work on their plate discipline” or whatever.

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    • Jesus says:

      I haven’t looked up any official numbers yet, but I’m fairly sure that Kemp has had a couple of 0fer nights in the 8 hole as well.

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  12. Mo Wang says:

    Last year Matt Kemp batted in the top 3 spots quite often, as well as the #6 spot. Here were his numbers:

    1st: .305/.360/.492/.852
    2nd: .313/.348/.504/.852
    3rd: .310/.340/.448/.789
    6th: .280/.340/.417/.757

    Seems to me that he can handle the pressure of the top lineup spots just fine. This is a bit more reliable data then completely judging him as a subpar #2 hitter because he was 0 for 3 the one time Torre used him there recently.

    Or like the other guy said, one time I also saw barry Bonds strike out.

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    • Stephen says:

      Look here:

      http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/players/7780/situational;_ylt=AkYm3ssFlxgK8raHFcCyOiKFCLcF

      Now tell me where he is hitting best? That’s right, not in the top of the order. Look at this year, for you are arguing for this year. Personally, I would like to see Kemp hit higher in the order (and I don’t own him on any fantasy team). Torre is winning games and that is what matters. Kemp is having a good year and is thriving hitting 7th and 8th. Just quit thinking that he will hit that way when he is moved up in the order.

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      • Al says:

        You’re an idiot. Look at the number of chances he’s had. 3 batting second; 22 4th, 24 5th. It’s much more meaningful to look at numbers over his career, or during a year when he had a significant number of PAs, than to look at numbers for this year just because it’s this year. To whatever extent batting order splits are ever meaningful (I’d guess it’s rarely a great extent), splits with this tiny number of PAs are certainly meaningless. So, again, you’re an idiot.

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      • Stephen says:

        Yeah, I am a complete idiot? Really? Common! David Wright is having a down year and everyone and their mom is complaining… But history shows he should be so much better. Wright is also in a 1 for 23 slump and everyone is complaining. No, he wont move down in that order, but Kemp has struggled hitting higher in the order this year. Yes, it is a small sample size, but if your team is winning, why fix something that isn’t broke. If you are a Dodgers fan you should be thrilled that your team is winning. If you are arguing solely from a fantasy purpose get a life.

        Al, You didn’t provide any reason other than low amount of PA’s this year and using last year number why I should be an idiot. If we use last year numbers, or any years numbers to make decisions for this year. Thus, two years ago Fausto Carmona was amazing, he should be pitching in A ball would be a valid argument. However, this logic is rejected because it isn’t rational.

        Please support your evidence with more than talent and complaining.

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      • Teej says:

        Unnecessary “idiot” comments aside, Al is right. The sample size is just absurdly small.

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      • Al says:

        I don’t give a rat’s ass about fantasy baseball. I do care about people making idiotic arguments, like the one that a guy “can’t hit” in a particular lineup spot based on some 50 PAs closer to the top. Hitting in the 8-hole and hitting in the 2-hole are not separate, uncorrelated skills. They are, in fact, highly correlated skills. So to prove something extraordinary to me, that Kemp can hit 8th but not 2nd, you’ll need to bring more significant evidence than 50 PA.

        A player falling off the table, as in your Fausto Carmona example, is something totally different because it’s something that happens all the time. He has a year and a half of poor results as proof that he’s not pitching well. A player losing the ability to hit unless he’s batting 8th? That’s far-fetched, and requires more than 50 PA worth of evidence. I don’t think it makes much sense to bat a guy who’s producing well that far down in the order, but since the media and fans go nuts when a manager messes with the order, I don’t necessarily blame Torre for not changing the order while his team is cruising. that said, standings are wiped away in the playoffs and he’ll want to have his best hitters getting the most chances; might as well make that change now.

        But there could well be some reason I don’t know for batting Kemp 8th. I don’t think anyone that suggests he bat 8th is an idiot. I think anyone that suggests he can’t hit anywhere else based on 50 PA is an idiot. That’s you. You’re an idiot.

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      • Stephen says:

        http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/players/7780/situational;_ylt=Aor5Z5fR6Cr0czQsmFQI986FCLcF?year=career&type=Batting

        Well, his career stats in each position would show that he doesn’t hit well in the 2-hole or 5-hole. Claiming to batting him in the 4-hole would be the same argument that you use against me – not enough PA (32). Sure he has hit well leading off the game, but he strikes out too much for a lead off hitter (sans Soriano, most teams don’t put a high strike out prone hitter). Bat him 3rd and move Manny to 4th would make a lot of sense, but why? This year he strikes out close to 25% of the time while walking 9%. The walk rate is decent.

        Now, I never said he can’t hit higher in order and not produce. I said he hasn’t yet this year, and why force him up higher if he is succeeding where he is at and the team is still winning? You don’t mess with success? I will continue to argue with you if you call me an idiot because I think messing with what is working is ridiculous. Don’t fix something that isn’t broken.

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  13. sleepy in seattle says:

    I think its safe to say Kemp won’t be seeing time in the lineup in the top 3 spots. The only chance was if an injury happened or someone got suspended 50 games for PED.. Wait, That did happen and he still batted in the lower spots.

    Maybe we can all hope for a huge losing streak and the dodgers quit scoring runs. That will maybe change old man Torre’s thinking.

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  14. Eric/OR says:

    I guess “handling the bat”, not striking out, sac bunting, and being a veteran are all more important than getting on base and scoring runs. Shame on you, slavish traditionalism.

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  15. While I understand why you are complaining about Kemp batting so low, I think most lineup studies show that there are only marginal gains other than having your best hitter (as defined by the study) hit either 2nd or 4th or 1st (depends on study again).

    In any case, Kemp is hitting nicely overall, but which is the real Kemp, the 2008 version or the 2009 version? He had a really nice April, but his May was more like 2008. He’s been slightly better in June and July, but is that small sampling or an improvement? With him striking out so much, one could argue that he’s due for a fall and regression.

    Meanwhile, while the other hitters are doing worse, they are not that much worse. Blake might have less OPS, but his ISO is much better in his career, so I can see the argument could be made to have him in an important RBI spot over Kemp. And the career numbers for the others are comparable, Kemp is not that much better than the others.

    But I’m just playing devils advocate. I don’t see why he’s batting so low either. He should be up top, particularly since he’s stealing so many bases, and the Dodgers have been living on borrowed time with Hudson, his road numbers all through his career has been relatively steady, his seasonal numbers only went up when playing in Arizona’s hitter’s park, but LA has a pitcher’s park, and that will eventually catch up with him and his batting line. I would bat Hudson 8th.

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  16. Ken says:

    Joe Torre is an awful manager. There is no getting around this. He’s never won with lesser talent the way great managers (someone like Bobby Cox) has.

    Granted linking a team’s success to the manager is tenuous at best, but they guy gets a ton of credit for the Yankee championships even though a monkey could have filled out that lineup card and won.

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  17. dbuff says:

    It feels wierd debating whether or not a 20 home run, 35 stolen base .300 hitter should or should not bat 8th in a National League lineup.

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  18. Mo Wang says:

    dbuff put it very nicely.

    By the way, Loretta is batting 5th and Martin is batting 6th tonight. Ethier is 7th and Kemp is 8th. What a joke. You want to bat Blake/Loney ahead of Kemp, fine, I guess, even though I disagree. But there is no justification at all for batting Loretta/Martin ahead of Ethier/Kemp.

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    • joser says:

      It’s been weirder, too, earlier in the season. Martin has batted 2nd some games, for no reason I could rationalize.

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    • Joe R says:

      Keeping those vets happy (read: kissing ass).

      As long as the team’s winning and the media declares Torre one of those “old school guys who gets it unlike those geeks who hate baseball”, it’s not getting fixed.

      Lineup order is overrated, anyway, but it’s lame to give lesser hitters more PA’s for being “vets”.

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  19. coreyjro says:

    Personally, I think having a power speed guy in the 8th spot may be a good strategy. He’s likely to get opportunities to clear the bases before the pitcher comes to bat, rather than just hit singles and have the pitcher strand two runners instead of one. The other idea is that if you pitch around him completely he can steal a base.

    Now if you put Casey Blake there, he certainly has some power, but you’d definitely pitch around him to get to the pitcher.

    If you put Juan Pierre there, you can pitch to him and he isn’t likely to make you pay with more than a single and a stolen base, but you wouldn’t pitch around him.

    With a power/speed player, neither strategy is dominant. Pitch around him and he can run, pitch to him and he can hit it out of the yard.

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  20. DavidA says:

    even the EPSN guys tonight were talking about how weird it is that they have him batting 8th. too bad Torre doesn’t watch the games.

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  21. Wally says:

    First, I’m not sure Furcal is better than this. Sure last year he killed for like 36 games, but in the seasons before that his line was nearly identical to what it is now (.270/.333/.355 in 2007 to .251/.324/.336 today). And that guy is leading off? Please.

    Hudson in the 2 hole isn’t the worst thing in the world. Some of you above seem to be underrating him. He is sporting a .357 OBP you know? Rameriz is obviously fine. Blake is doing pretty well in the 4 spot as well, though we all know he isn’t going to keep that up. Loney in the 5 hole is a problem, as is Martin in the 6th hole (he got a good OBP, but no SLG, which just cries for the 8th/9th spot. Then, going forward, your 2nd and 3rd best hitters (OK maybe 2nd and 4th with Blake sneaking in ahead of Either) are batting 7th and 8th? This is a complete joke. It should be pretty easy to fill out a line up. Just off the top of my head it should look something like:

    Hudson
    Kemp
    Either
    Rameriz
    Blake
    Loney
    Furcal
    Martin

    And Corey, you make some sense, but when you figure that after Kemp gets on base or even steals the pitcher or eventually Furcal will make the final out, you see his PA is wasted. You want to group your best hitters together and get them the most PAs possible. Beyond that its generally good to have high-OBP guys in front of high-SLG guys, and guys that do both (ie. Manny) in the middle. Other than that, keep the sub-.700 OPS guys as far away as possible (Furcal and Martin, at least until Martin comes out of this ridiculous funk he’s in).

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    • Deacon Drake says:

      Hell, I may even switch Kemp and Hudson… Regardless, following Kemp with the punchless combo of the pitcher and Furcal is stupid. Right now, he is on an island between the slumping Martin/Ethier and the 9/1. Anyway to find out who has been stranded on base the most times this year?

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    • For Hudson, just look at his road numbers throughout his career. It’s pretty consistently bad. The only years his offense was good was when he was in a hitters park in AZ. He’s not in a hitters park this year.

      He lucked out this season by starting off white-hot, but he’s been petering out:

      April: .337/.411/.537/.948, .354 BABIP
      May: .328/.404/.414/.818, .409 BABIP
      June: .222/.269/.343/.612, .247 BABIP

      And his slump has been noticed by Torre, he had started every game played until July, when he has started only 3 of 5 games (after 76 straight starts). He is hitting only .133/.188/.200/.388 so far in July, .222 BABIP. Career BABIP of .317.

      Here are some home/away splits:

      Career – Away: .278/.336/.408/.745, .311 BABIP
      2009 – Away: .287/.344/.386/.730, .353 BABIP

      Career – Home: .287/.358/.456/.815, .323 BABIP
      2009 – Home: .292/.371/.455/.826, .318 BABIP

      Unless he’s a hitter who likes to hit in Dodger Stadium, a well known pitchers park, his home numbers this year is going way down, closer to his away numbers.

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      • Wally says:

        Obsessive, most players hit better at home, and Hudson’s split is not anything out of the ordinary. A .050 point differential in OPS between home and road games just isn’t much to worry about. I also don’t really see your point about the April/May/June splits. Hudson isn’t going to maintain a .408 BABIP, but he also isn’t going to maintain a .247. So going forward (which is what we care about when making today’s or tomorrow’s line up) Hudson should more or less maintain what we’ve seen from him this year. In fact, Zips is projecting him to get a little better: He has a .285/.352/.412 so far, .289/.361/.430 expected for the RoS. Hudson is a good hitter, and it would be a pretty big waste to put that .360 OBP, with relatively weak SLG, lower in the order.

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  22. DavidA says:

    hmmm, Kemp goes 3 for 3 with a walk and a triple tonight. scores twice, which is nice, i guess, but he drives in a grand total of …… ZERO runs. to make matters worse, Ethier goes 0 for 5 in the 7 spot and grounds into a game ending double play with a RISP and Kemp on deck. NICE.

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  23. DavidA says:

    fwiw, i could maybe see leaving kemp lower down in the order when they are facing RHP. his OPS against righties is a rather pedestrian 760, so maybe that’s not quite as much of a travesty. against lefties though, he’s gotta be higher up in the order. (career OPS against lefties is over 1000!) tonight he should have been hitting cleanup. could have made the difference in what was a very tight ballgame.

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  24. Mo Wang says:

    Kemp certainly does mash lefties very well.

    To those who agree with the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” philosophy, I would offer the fact that Torre promoted Blake from the 8th spot to the 4th spot partly because of how well Blake batted in the 8th spot. Blake has batted .317/.397/.584/.981 in the 8th spot this year. He did extremely well, so Torre moved him up. Kemp is batting even better than that so far in the 8 hole. Torre is not being consistent here. As the original author wrote, “but if hitting poorly (or really well in Kemp’s case) has no affect on Joe Torre’s lineup plans, then why have Casey Blake, Russell Martin, and Juan Pierre been able to slip and slide batting slots based on their performances?”

    Kemp’s performance merits a major bump up in the order. Hopefully Torre will see that as guys in front of Kemp continue to perform worse than Kemp does.

    I would also think that it is more advantageous to have Kemp’s speed higher in the order where he is surrounded by better hitters that are more likely to drive him in if he can get himself into scoring position. I think it is a pretty big waste to put that speed in front of the pitcher. Martin’s performance this year is screaming out “I should be batting 8th!!!” He’s not even that much of a veteran, so I don’t know why Torre is so reluctant to move him down when it is so painfully obvious that he is an inferior hitter to Kemp.

    Jon Weisman also chimed in briefly on the situation after tonight’s game: “the reasons for Kemp to bat higher than eighth in the lineup became as easy to spot as, well, a guy taking the SATs in his underwear.”

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  25. Josh Wexler says:

    Ober ~1800 career innings, Washburn has only seen 28% of his balls in play go for hits. So, perhaps we can give him a little more credit than we otherwise might.

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  26. Slick says:

    Maybe Kemp has an attitude problem? Maybe all these advanced stats mean nothing to managers and all the other coaches they have at their disposal who have vast knowledge of the game beyond the stats? To call Torre a horrible manager because you spent a high draft pick or a considerable auction dollar value on him and he is batting 8th is just sour grapes. Kemp is 25 and has a lot of years ahead of him to a productive hitter in a higher lineup spot. Its time to mop up all your collective tears and trade him for someone more productive. Everyone obviously has a man crush on this guy so if you have him, why not trade him for someone more productive (or to address a particular need for your fantasy team) instead of waiting and whining. Fantasy winners make trades and capitalize on this kind of info. Here you have a commodity that everyone wants so make your team better. Instead most of you would rather be in last place with a bad team than trade a coveted young star.

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  27. Mo Wang says:

    Actually, Torre has publicly stated that he loves Kemp’s attitude and that’s partly why he bats Kemp lower in the order. He said Kemp is the type of guy who doesn’t mind at all where he hits in the lineup, whereas the older guys might get offended if Torre dropped them in the batting order.

    This rationale still seems ridiculous. If any team’s 2nd or 3rd best hitter tells the manager that it is ok to move him down in the order to accomodate crappier players, that’s a nice gesture and all, but it is up to the manager to determine that this would be a dumb strategy to actually follow through with. I doubt the Ranger manager would drop Hamilton to 7th or 8th in their order just because he didn’t want to risk hurting the feelings of other players like maybe Blalock or Vizquel by batting Hamilton ahead of them.

    The manager has two main duties on game day – post an optimal batting lineup for that day, and manage the bullpen competently that day. Torre is not good at either one of these.

    But hey, if you think that having pitchers sac bunt Kemp over to 2nd base 4 times in the last 2 games is actually helping the team and is a good way to utilize Kemp’s speed in the lineup, then that’s your problem.

    Looks like Ethier is batting 2nd tonight. Martin is 6th. Hudson is 7th. Kemp is 8th. Blake is cleanup.

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    • Slick says:

      The Dodgers currently have the best record in baseball. So yeah, I guess Joe Torre knows nothing about managing. He just makes bad decisions and his team over comes them. I’m sure that’s exactly what is going on.

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  28. Mo Wang says:

    I didn’t say that he knows nothing about managing. I said that he is not a good manager.

    The record of a team does not necessarily reflect the quality of the manager. The 1998 Yankees were one of the best teams ever. Does this mean that Joe Torre did one of the best managing jobs in the history of the game during that year? Nope.

    The Rockies made the World Series in 2007 but had such a poor start to this season that the manager was fired before the halfway point. Does this mean that Hurdle knew how to be a good manager in 2007 but sort of forgot how to be a good manager in 2009? Nope. He’s the same manager in 2009 that he was in 2007. The players just performed differently.

    So you have to go beyond looking at team record when looking at whether or not a manager is good at his job. Because quite often the talent of the team can overcome poor managing. And a lack of talent on the roster can frequently undermine the efforts of a good manager. Do you really believe that Manny Acta is the worst manager in baseball this year? Just because his team plays like garbage doesn’t mean he is a bad manager. Similarly, the Dodgers great record does not mean that Torre is doing a good job this year.

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    • Slick says:

      C’mon fantasy nerd, by saying someone is a bad manager is the same as saying he knows nothing about it. There is such thing as a good manager who doesn’t understand the job. At the end of the day the only thing that matters is wins and losses (and profit to the owners). As fan of sports in general, I don’t care how the wins come. Coach/Manager of the Year doesn’t go to the team with the worst record. Managers have a lot to do with a team’s success. If you think otherwise, you are on glue. It’s not Joe’s fault that when he manages a team, he is given the tools to win but also uses them effectively. If the Dodgers are in last place and Kemp is still batting 8th, fine, call him a lousy manager. But when they are winning, why call a manager bad. How can armchair manager call a real manager bad anyways? You have no idea the pressure he faces night in night out to be successful. Baseball is a billion dollar sport. His decisions could cost his owner a lot of money. Instead his decisions are making his owner money.

      We are all going to forever be upset when we don’t see our favourite stud in waiting get the playing time and stats we expect…especially if it appears the real life manager of the team is holding him back. In this case, its obviously not. Kemp is succeeding in the 8th spot regardless.

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      • Mo Wang says:

        You are wrong, there is a big difference between the two statements:

        1: This guy is not a good manager.
        2: This guy knows nothing about how to manage.

        Or think about the following statements

        1: Juan Pierre is not a good baseball player.
        2: Juan Pierre doesn’t know how to play baseball.

        Same idea, there are some major differences there. Any reasonable person can understand that, and I shouldn’t have to explain that any further.

        And of course wins and losses are the only thing that matters. Good managers use their rosters in an optimal fashion to maximize team wins. That’s the whole goal of managing: maximize wins. That is why the Kemp batting 8th thing is a bad decision by Torre. He is costing his team wins by batting Kemp 8th. It might only be one or two wins by the time the season ends, which will likely be insignificant considering the competition, but those are still wins that Torre is chiefly responsible for losing by batting Kemp 8th for no good reason. And this could easily bite him in the rearend during the playoffs.

        And your logic is flawed when you state that if the Dodgers were in last place that it would then be ok to criticize Torre for batting Kemp 8th. He should be criticized for batting Kemp 8th regardless of the team record and standings. In a much more extreme case, this would be like saying that batting ARod 8th is a good choice for a manager to make as long as the Yankees keep winning. They would be winning in spite of batting Rodriguez hitting 8th, not because of it, right? And they would win more games with Rodriguez not batting 8th. This is obvious.

        (This is an extreme hypothetical situation, because of course you would never even think about batting a great hitter like Rodriguez 8th. No good manager would put an all-time great hitter in the 8-hole in meaningful games. Only a bad manager would do that. Like that time when the bad Yankee manager in 2006 batted Alex Rodriguez in the 8-hole in an elimination game in October. What was that guy thinking?)

        Kemp is no ARod, but it is a similar idea. His bat would be producing more runs (and therefore wins) for his team if it was placed somewhere in the top or middle of the batting order. it is a very simple idea. You put your best hitters in those spots. Kemp is one of their best hitters, so he should be in one of those spots. Simple, right?

        Maybe you are of the belief that players have completely different skill sets and performances in different lineup spots. I am not part of that school of thought. And so the fact that Kemp is thriving in the 8-hole only makes this decision seem even crazier to me. That production could be coming from the 3-hole or 4-hole or 5-hole, but instead it is coming in front of a pitcher. Kemp could be on base all the time in front of Manny or Blake or Ethier. But instead he is on base in front of a pitcher. Torre is costing his team runs by batting Kemp 8th, and he’s had more than enough time to notice this mistake and fix it.

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  29. sleepy in seattle says:

    I think this is like crying over spilled milk. Barring any major injury, Kemp will not see the light of day. LA keeps on winning while he is lower in the lineup. Mash the stats anyway we want but Torre likes him down in the order.

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  30. gb says:

    Well something must be working, The Bison is now 5th in WAR with 4.3.

    Amazing.

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  31. Slick says:

    Mo

    You are just arguing semantics. You can’t make the claim that he would do better higher in the lineup based on his stats in the 8th spot because you cannot predict the future. For all we know he could be terrible higher in the lineup. Again that is just guess work at best. Baseball is the most over-analyzed sport. There are tons of stats, like on this site, that basically don’t mean anything because there is another stat somewhere else that renders another meaningless. Perhaps I will eat my words if he moves up and produces, and so what, I couldn’t care how it makes me look. I am not trying to be seen as a know-it-all and get a fantasy columnist job which it appears that most of the rejects are these comment boards are doing, especially yourself. But calling successful managers terrible because they aren’t starting your fantasy players where you expect them is just sour grapes.

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  32. Mo Wang says:

    I do not play fantasy sports. I am a Dodgers fan. I want to see my team win as many games as possible as well as a world title. If somebody told me that there would be a player on the Dodgers who has a season batting line of .324/.389/.503/.892 through Saturday’s games, I don’t care who this player is, I want him batting higher in the batting order than 8th. I don’t care if it is Juan Pierre. Or Furcal. Or Hudson. Or Blake. Any Dodger player who is hitting with that batting line through half a season of at-bats needs to be batting higher than 8th in the lineup. I can’t make it any simpler than that.

    And as far as it specifically relates to Matt Kemp, I am using much more than his stats in the 8th spot to determine that he needs to bat higher in the order. I have been venting to all my baseball friends since late May that Kemp needs to bat higher. Kemp was batting 6th and 7th in the lineup at those times. After watching hundreds of Dodger games over the last few seasons it is very apparent to me that Kemp is a better offensive player than Martin and Loney and Furcal. And even though I am not as familar with newer Dodgers like Hudson and Blake, their career stats suggest to me that Kemp is a better offensive player than they are. This is all part of why I want Kemp batting higher in the order. Torre is inefficiently using his 2nd or 3rd best hitter by putting him in front of a pitcher for over a month now. I was frustrated enough when Kemp was batting 6th and 7th in May (especially with Manny gone), but the other guys were doing well enough for me to not get outraged by it. But guys like Blake and Pierre and Hudson that were hot in May have cooled off considerably, while Kemp is on an unbelieveable hot streak. But instead he has been pushed to 8th in the batting order, which is inexplicable. Kemp is going to cool off soon enough, and it bothers me a great deal that Torre has completely failed to take advantage of Kemp’s great production over the last month. It is lazy and careless and irresponsible managing. This is not a manager that I have any confidecne in since he cannot even make this obvious of a lineup alteration.

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  33. Slick says:

    So if you don’t play fantasy sports, why come to this site? Is it just to gripe about how the manager of your favourite team has led them to the best record in baseball but won’t move up the guy you have a man crush on? Obviously it is. Perhaps if you are a Dodger fan you should learn about all the players on your team has on their roster. Most fans know their team inside out.

    Last night your hero batted 6th and went 0-4 while the inferior O-Dawg had 2 bombs from the dreaded 8th spot. Maybe it’s just a lucky spot in the lineup. Just bide your time, I know Kemp is good and will eventually settle into a higher lineup spot with the Dodgers or elsewhere, but I refuse to say he is being held back by his manager. That is a played out excuse of fantasy ‘experts’ everywhere who think they know how to manage a team because they crunch numbers all day. Managers appear to make their decisions regardless of hitting prowess. That is why guys who have a good glove and no bat still make it into major league lineups. But solid D isn’t sexy to the average fan who focuses strictly on hitting when examining a lineup card.

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  34. Mo Wang says:

    Are you really serious? There are plenty of people who come to this site that have no interest in fantasy sports. That’s why they have a separate section for the fantasy-related analysis, as there are plenty of us who have little or no interest in reading that. I was becoming skeptical of some of baseball prospectus’s advanced stats and was looking for an alternate source of advanced baseball analysis. This site greatly fills that need. You really need to open up your eyes if you think everybody who comes here is just looking for fantasy information.

    And I do know my team very well. So, I don’t know what your point is going there. What makes you think that I am not familiar with my team? And how is this aspect of things even relevant to the Matt Kemp discussion?

    It is pretty apparent that your arguments are not usually about the specific points of the Matt Kemp discussion. You haven’t provided any good reasons for Kemp to bat 8th. There is some statistical evidence out there for supporting the idea that lineup construction does not make a signficiant difference in the grand scheme of things. Maybe you could cite some of these findings, as I am definitely not very familiar with them. You just bash fantasy sports or people who criticize managers, but you like to avoid the main argument in front of us. Matt Kemp has been batting 8th in the Dodgers lineup for basically a month now, even though he has been one of their best hitters this year. Instead of mentioning nerds or fantasy sports, why don’t you instead give me some sound reasons for Kemp to bat 8th? The best you have given so far is basically “well they are winning so it’s ok.” Can’t you come up with something more convincing than that? Can’t you understand why that is such an unsatisfying response? Seriously, I would like to hear a better reason for why he should bat 8th.

    And I don’t think that Torre is holding Kemp back this year. I think that Torre is potentially holding the Dodgers back by batting Kemp 8th for no good reason. That is why this is annoying. If he was benching Kemp for guys like Juan Pierre, then that would certainly be an example of holding Kemp back. But he’s not doing that this year, as opposed to last year when he was benching Kemp for Pierre more than was necessary.

    Defense is another great aspect of Kemp’s game. Did you see the Willie Mays style catch he made the other night to save the game? This is also part of why I like Kemp so much. His defensive ability is improving at an incredible rate. Once the starting players have been chosen for a given game, I don’t think the defensive aspect of a player’s performance is relevant when creating a batting lineup. That should be all about offensive production. Plenty of teams have defensive whizzes who certainly deserve to play and are very valuable players. But those guys should bat lower in the order. Kemp’s offense has warranted a move up in the lineup for a while now. Once the 9 guys have been decided for the game, it is up to the manager to sort them in an optimal batting lineup. Defensive specialists, like an Adam Everett, should probably be batting lower in the order because they are not good offensive players. Putting a .320 hitter with an .880 OPS in as your #8 hitter seems crazy to me, especially when nobody else in the lineup is above average at all three of the following offensive skills: hitting for average, hitting for power, baserunning. I am not even looking at WAR or VORP or WARP3 or UZR, etc. I am basically using the main basic offensive stats (avg, obp, slg) and my intuition and observations from hundreds of games from the last few years. So this isn’t about being nerdy or finding a fantasy secret. This is about wanting the Dodgers to score more runs.

    I have used such basic stats in my argument that I am afraid that perhaps there is something advanced out there that I am indeed missing that will render my argument uselss. Like I said, apparently their does exist some data out there that suggests that lineup construction is not signficant. I am very open to reading these things and reevaluating my opinion. So instead of making fun of nerds and fantasy sports and people who want their team to be as awesome as possible, why don’t you instead provide me with some useful arguments for why Matt Kemp batting 8th is a good decision? I have only used some basic stats to argue that he should be batting higher. Maybe you know something more advanced than that.

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    • Slick says:

      You are being just ignorant as you think I am. I don’t need any stats or reasons to justify anything here. Torre makes his lineup how he wants. The Dodgers are succeeding. You are guessing just as much as I am that Kemp will or will not succeed higher in the lineup since we both have no idea how the added pressure will affect his play. It’s a 50-50 chance. You don’t know, and neither do I. His numbers warrant it…I get that. But that doesn’t translate into instant success. Kemp is young and there are some veterans on the team. You have to learn to keep them all happy. Kemp, for the time being, appears to be happy with his role. He will have his time, so why get so mad at the manager? Just enjoy the fact that Kemp and Either will get better by learning from Pierre and Manny.

      I like fantasy baseball. I have played for years. Too many stats and over-analysis by alleged experts have taken away from my experience and I will admit my bitterness.

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      • Wally says:

        Slick, placement in the batting order doesn’t effect the production of a player. So, no it isn’t a 50-50. We should expect Kemp’s production to be the same whether he bats 1st, 4th or 8th. And I find it pretty comical that you think Kemp has anything to learn from Pierre.

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  35. Slick says:

    It is 50-50 because you failed to see what I meant by it. I was saying we both have a 50-50 chance of being correct in this situation because we are trying to predict something that hasn’t happened! Perhaps statisically speaking, you can tip the scale some percentage points either direction but again that’s just basing things on predicted output which is no exact science.

    So you are basically discounting Pierre’s years of experience of how to get on base and superior base running skill and knowledge as completely useless info for young players espeically to one who has the speed of Kemp. Give your head a shake nimrod. It’s like saying an apprentice can’t learn anything from a journeyman. Stay out of this conversation, its just a pissing match between me and Mo Wang. It’s none of your concern.

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  36. Wally says:

    Slick, you’ve obviously lost this pissing contest then.

    Kemp had a 76% success rate in steals in the minors, before any Pierre instruction. Now in MLB he has a 77% success rate with the supposed Pierre instruction (which is better than Pierre’s 75% BTW). In the minors Kemp had a .359 OBP before Pierre instruction. In MLB Kemp has a .352 OBP with Pierre instruction (also better than Pierre’s .348 OBP). From where I sit, it sure seems likely that Kemp is learning a lot from Pierre….

    And no, things are not a 50-50 chance because what we’re trying to predict hasn’t happened yet. I have never turned the key on this brand new Civic, I guess its 50-50 that it starts? I’ve have yet to take my final coming up next week, so I guess its a 50-50 that I pass? Get the idea yet? We have loads of information out there to tell me just how likely it is that I start a car, or pass a test (and with what grade), just like we have tons of information to tell us how moving Kemp in the batting order is likely to effect him (or not) and his teams scoring. While it might not be an “exact science,” which I guess means to you that the conclusion comes with a standard deviation , it’s a heck of lot better than just throwing up your hands and saying its a 50-50. Doing that is just pathetic and only for the intellectually lazy or weak.

    Now, if you want to insult me, surely you can do better than telling me to shake my head, right?

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  37. Slick says:

    blah blah blah

    dazzle me with more stats and outlandish logic.

    To call Kemp a better base stealer than Pierre based is ridiculous. You can spout about success percentages when Kemp reaches 600 attempts like Pierre has. Kemp has 70 career SBs…Pierre has 452. Oh you are right, he couldn’t teach him anything! Experience means nothing. I will discount minor league stats as they have little bearing on how you play in the majors as you are facing inferior pitchers and inferior catchers. The rate of 2% difference at the major league level is insignificant compared to the amount of attempts which are 603 to 90. But I guess by your standards of 77%, he is on close pace to become the next Ricky Henderson who had a success rate of 81%. So lets see, he is Ricky Henderson on the basepaths, Willie Mays in the field and I guess we can throw in Hank Aaron at the plate. Wow!

    Jbecause he has numbers on his side, it doesn’t automatically grant him a free pass to bat higher in a lineup. He is young and has a long career ahead of him and will eventually hit higher in the order. I am not denying this as long as he continues to play as he is. Of course I think he deserves a chance, why wouldn’t I? I am just not calling Torre a bad manager for making the choices he is making. His team is winning and would they win more if they moved him up and moved Martin, Blake and Hudson down? How the hell do I know? On the other side of the coin, how the hell do any of you know? Perhaps they would do worse as now 6-7-8-9 are all of sudden easier outs. Maybe those veterans get mad at being moved down. Maybe this. Maybe that. Its all maybes until it happens.

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    • Wally says:

      I’m starting to think you’re just putting us on here Slick. Some of this stuff you’re saying is just ridiculous. I mean Kemp being a combo of Ricky, Mays and Aaron? That’s quite the hyperbole.

      Anyway….Pierre may have 600 attempts and a 75% success rate but that doesn’t mean he can actually teach someone else that is already very good at stealing bases anything helpful. Maybe he can, but if so, its impossible to tell if he has, as Kemp’s accomplishments so far aren’t out of line with his minor league performance. And yes, minor league stats show a lot about how good you will be as a major leaguer. Sure the talent level is lower, but the player in question isn’t fully developed yet either. He’s still going to receive more coaching (apparently from Pierre), increase his own experience level and his body is going to get faster and stronger.

      “The rate of 2% difference at the major league level is insignificant compared to the amount of attempts which are 603 to 90. ”

      Dee-dah-dee. I don’t care about absolute attempt numbers. I’m not trying to show how much total value Kemp or Pierre has accumulated through stealing bases, I’m showing how good each of these players is at this particular skill. So, I’m not sure how much Kemp can learn from a guy that basically has the same success rate as he does. Maybe Kemp is just relying on pure speed, and Pierre can give him a hint or two, but the point is you don’t know that. And its besides the point anyway. I think we’ve indulged this red herring long enough.

      “Jbecause he has numbers on his side, it doesn’t automatically grant him a free pass to bat higher in a lineup. He is young and has a long career ahead of him and will eventually hit higher in the order. I am not denying this as long as he continues to play as he is.”

      So, your position is that young players, no matter how talented, shouldn’t bat high in a line up because, well, they are young and have plenty of time to bat higher in the line up? This isn’t about earning the right to bat higher in a line up, its about building a line up that scores the most runs. That’s it. I don’t care if its the corpse of Ted Williams or your 8 year old daughter, the best hitters need to be higher in the line up.

      “I am just not calling Torre a bad manager for making the choices he is making. ”

      So, Torre isn’t a bad manager for making choices that are costing the dodgers runs?

      “His team is winning and would they win more if they moved him up and moved Martin, Blake and Hudson down? How the hell do I know?”

      At this point I don’t really think you have the capability to figure that out, so I can’t help you with that last question. People have tried to illuminate these problems you’re having and you aren’t getting it. Maybe we should bring in Juan Pierre and see if he can teach you this?

      “Perhaps they would do worse as now 6-7-8-9 are all of sudden easier outs. Maybe those veterans get mad at being moved down. Maybe this. Maybe that. Its all maybes until it happens.”

      Right, cuz its better that your 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th hitters be easier outs? It isn’t maybes. Putting your 2nd best hitter 8th and one of your worst (Furcal) 1st, is limiting your chances to win by giving more PAs to lesser hitters. And if Furcal gets his feeling hurt A) he’s not very professional and B) he can’t do much worse anyway, so who gives a rip? The benefit from getting Kemp an extra 4 or so PAs per week is going to off set any club house “chemistry” issues. Just so you know, leadoff hitters received approximately 2000 more PAs than 8th place hitters, or about 18% more, over 2588 games. Wouldn’t you rather have that 18% going to a guy with nearly a .900 OPS verses a guy with almost a .700 OPS?

      You might think its trivial, especially since the Dodgers are running away with the division, but it can add up to 1 or 2 wins over the season (particularly if you’re making this mistake in more than one place in the line up as Torre was with Either until recently). And in the playoffs it just might be the difference between winning or losing a series. But hey, they are winning now, so who cares……

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  38. Mo Wang says:

    I agree with what Wally is saying. It is not 50-50 that Kemp produces similar to his career batting line if he were moved higher in the order. How is he suddenly going to morph into a different hitter by being moved up in the batting order? Is the pressure so intense that he goes from being a regular .300/.360/.490 hitter to a .250/.300/.450 hitter? Is he so awesome at handling pressure that he suddenly bats an amazing .400/.480/.650? I think is there is a high probability that he bats close to his career norms, which is basically something in the mid 800′s OPS range. And by “high probabilty”, I mean something much bigger than 50%. Why would you expect a hitter to only have a 50% chance to be the same type of hitter in a different lineup spot? Would Mike Cameron become a slap-hitter if he batted 2nd in a lineup? Would Ichiro hit 25 HRs a year if he batted cleanup? These things don’t have a 50% chance of happening. I don’t get the logic there.

    Also, I would like to add that Slick’s main gripe with me is my outrage toward Joe Torre. It seems that Slick would probably agree that Kemp should bat higher, but that I should have more trust in what Joe Torre is doing since the Dodgers are winning and Torre has been very successful over the last 14 years, and that I am way out of line by calling Torre a bad manager. I can agree that my outrage towards Joe is too extreme considering that things are going well for the Dodgers.

    But just because things are going well right now doesn’t mean things will continue to go well if Torre continues to overlook the performance of his hitters, and instead puts the same lineup out there regardless of performance. He moved Blake up in the order after Blake hit a hot streak. I don’t understand why he doesn’t treat Kemp the same way. How is that fair? And Loney and Martin aren’t even veterans, so why is their place in the lineup secured while Kemp continues to outproduce them? Joe Torre has not provided a sufficient explanation for this decision to the media. He basically avoids the question and just says that Kemp doesn’t care where he hits. But that is poor managing, as far as I am concerned. The team needs should have higher priority than individual needs. Joe Torre’s strength as a manager is supposed to be his ability to manage egos and personalities. He was able to get guys like Fielder and Strawberry and Raines to accept limited roles on those great Yankee teams while the younger players emegred and became stars. But if he is still such a great manager of egos, then why can’t he get his players like a Furcal or Loney to accept a lower spot in the order because Kemp is hot and it will help the team? If it is true that they are fussing about possibly moving down in the order to accomodate Kemp, then Torre is allowing their individual selfishness to take priority over what’s best for the team. So I am still waiting for this guy to show that he can manage these egos and personalities. That’s supposed to be his strength. Instead he is just surrendering to their egos and personalities instead of prioritizing what’s best for the team. If the Dodgers were clawing for a playoff spot, I think Torre would have moved Kemp up ny now. And if that’s true, then that is bascially admitting that he is failing to post optimal batting lineups right now by batting Kemp 8th. Or maybe the guy really is nuts and would still continue to bat Kemp 8th even if the team was clawing for a playoff spot. Perhaps Torre really thinks that this current lineup will score the most runs. But if that is the case, I wish he would tell that to the media when he defends this choice. But he never says that.

    And yes, the idea of someone with a mid 700′s OPS getting 80 to 100 more plate appearances than a guy with a mid 800′s OPS is absurd. Kemp did a fine job in the leadoff role last year. He has good OBP and good speed. He would be better suited for those extra plate appearances than Furcal.

    And can anyone explain why Mark Loretta bats higher than Kemp whenever Loretta gets a chance to play? Is it simply because he is a veteran? Loretta is a poor hitter. Torre needs to have his head checked on at least this decision. Kemp batting 9th during interleague play was crazy. Loretta batting 5th was equally crazy. Kemp even said himself that he “was shocked” that he was batting 9th.

    Seriously, how does a good manager decide to bat Mark Loretta ahead of a streaking Matt Kemp? Can anbyody answer that? And how does a hot Matt Kemp find himself batting 9th during interleague play? And why can’t Torre convince the crappier players to bat lower? I don’t get it.

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  39. Slick says:

    Wally, I wasn’t the one who referred to him as WIllie Mays for making one fine catch in the OF, it was the Wanger. Since I find that a preposterous claim, I continued the preposterous claims and threw in that he steals bases like RIcky and hits like Hank. Obviously you failed to read into the sarcasm. The fact that you discount intangibles like experience and their overall effect on a lineup, or overall effect on anything in life beyond sports, is really unbelievable. To think that success rate based on incomparable sample size says nothing, shows you fail at understanding basic statistics. Its no more clueless than saying that if I played at the major league and went 1-1 for my career and gives me a 100% success rate, well that makes me better than everyone else because I never got caught.

    I unlike you guys, do not live in LA and do not live and breath every single move the dodgers do. Mo is correct, the crux of my argument isn’t that Matt Kemp is dog crap, he may very well be destined for great things.

    I bet your real issue is that Joe Torre is a former Yankee manager and like most of America outside the greater New York area, you can’t handle that he is successful outside of New York. Which would mean giving him credit for managing a team that allegedly a monkey could have. I know Yankee hate runs deep. Just let it go. He is doing for your team what he did for the Yankees, made them a winner. Accept that he has managing talent and knows what he is doing. In the playoffs his winning percentage is over .500. He knows how to win.

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    • Wally says:

      Slick, I don’t care about your supposed sarcastic remarks. You don’t build an argument around sarcasm. Second, I don’t live in LA, and I’m not even close to being a Dodger fan. Third, I don’t really care one way or another for Torre or the Yankees. These assumption of bias on your part are intellectually lazy and flat out stupid. But I suppose someone that thinks its a 50-50 that batting Kemp higher in the order will help the team would be predisposed to doing intellectually lazy and out right stupid things.

      My only point here is that Torre is making a poor choice batting Kemp so low in the order and it is hurting his team, and provided some evidence to support that claim. You then defend your position with the anecdotes of “he can learn from watching Pierre” and the fallacious questioning of motive. All together its just making you out to be the fool. Stick to the topic. This isn’t about living in LA or the Yankees.

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  40. Joe R says:

    And food for thought, statistical regression has pretty much proven the best hitters should hit 1, 2, and 4. The worst hitter 8th. The #9 hitter at least has high OBP value (probably make Russell Martin a perfect 9 hole hitter). Torre is minimizing his 2nd best hitter. It’s insane. Imagine how far Girardi’s head would roll if Teixeira or Jeter hit 8th.

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  41. Slick says:

    Just another over zealous Dodger fan who thinks he knows how to manage a pro baseball team better someone with more than 4000 games managed and 28 years of experience.

    Just accept that your team is winning with a manager who has a wealth of experience on his side to justify any move he makes. Quit complaining about winning. There is no justification for it. I have never heard of a sour winner. How can you not be happy with first place OVERALL? Oh it’s not good enough, we want to be 162-0 and we would be halfway there if Kemp was batting 3rd!

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    • Joe R says:

      1) I’m a Red Sox fan
      2) What has Torre actually won since 2000? He’s MLB’s Lloyd Carr, Terry Francona is Jim Tressel. Once he didn’t have the nuts grip the Yankees gave him of the AL East, he went to another team he could fairweather manage. He has one of the best players in baseball and he’s being treated like a minimally valued scrub.

      You realize he was 894-1007 pre-Yankees, right? That’s a cool .470 win percentage. And that right before going to NYY, he was canned by the Cardinals? Sure, he has experience, but how much is really needed to fill out a damn lineup card?

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      • Slick says:

        You are a Red Sox fan. You hate Torre out of spite. Your opinion is biased. You hate everything Yankee related.

        I bet you are unhappy with winning too. I am sure you criticize Francona’s every move. Why aren’t you raging that Ellsbury isn’t batting leadoff in favour of Drew? I guess your manager is the worst manager ever for winning too.

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      • Joe R says:

        lol you’re a joke, man. Sure I dislike the Yankees, but I’m fully capable of objective thought.

        And why do I not criticize Francona for leading off with Drew? Because I’m thrilled by it. Absolutely elated. Francona’s proven he’s capable of learning new things, doing stuff that isn’t “by the book”, and doing weird but logical things like giving a better hitter (Drew) an opportunity to affect the proceedings more. In the face of a media with an Ellsboner, Francona should be commended.

        Torre is a regular manager, who took over for a terrible one that gave Pierre and Furcal over 640 attempts at badness each (Kemp went .342/.373/.521 in 311 PA, awesome guy to bench).

        If the 2008 All-NFL 1st team came together as a team and Martz became coach, and he threw go routes 95% of the time, and they went 13-3 and won their division, is Martz a good coach? No, he’s not. Maybe there’s something to the climate, but how much can you attribute “managing” to guys like Casey Blake, Orlando Hudson, and Randy Wolf blowing into the high end of the PECOTA projection? For Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw’s 1st half? Stop to think the Dodgers are good because their roster is way better than anyone elses?

        Nah, Torre magic. Totally infallable.

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      • Joe R says:

        Forgot to add, this is the same Torre that let Bernie Williams routinely cost the Yankees 3 wins a season via horrific defense. The same Torre that moved one of the (at the time) best SS’s in MLB to 3B to appease his much more mediocre defender. The same Torre that in a span of a year, was the manager of a team that lost to the Marlins in the WS, and then manned the helm of one of the biggest gag jobs in sports history. Sure, Torre is a very good player manager, but he has a huge weakness, and it’s criminally insane to base your opinion on him solely from the run of those Yankee teams that were obscenely more talented than everyone else.

        If Slick were a CEO of a company, he’d be the guy to say “it doesn’t matter if our technology is outdated, or if our customer service ratings are bad, we’re the best in our industry”, and then is bewildered why those smaller companies are suddenly winning. General Motors would be proud.

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      • Slick says:

        Why are Americans arrogant know-it-alls? Thank you for an attempt at insulting my intelligence.

        Both of you fat slobs cheer for winning teams. Isn’t winning enough? Baseball is the most boring over analyzed sport of all time. I only follow it because I play fantasy pools. I occasionally hit up a Mariners game strictly to get drunk and hit on skanks. I don’t care who wins, who bats where or anything of the sort. The only thing that makes baseball tolerable is alcohol consumption.

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      • Joe R says:

        Stunning development: a website/blog dedicated to baseball analysis fosters analytical thought and ideas. Amazing.

        Once again, by your “theory”, if a team goes 82-80 with a $350,000,000 payroll because the manager decides to have an outfield full of pitchers, than who cares, the team is “winning”.

        Of course we insult your intelligence, you left it open and easy. Your point was “The Dodgers are winning and Torre is a winner, so stop complaining”. Well, Torre was very, very much a loser before Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, etc. helped save him from that distinction.

        So now it’s “over-analyzed” and “boring”, meaning you really have no point.

        And of course baseball is going to be analyzed. It’s the most tangible, easily interpreted major team sport out there, since much of a player’s performance can be isolated and evaluated on an individual basis. If you asked 100 people if Peyton Manning or Tom Brady was better, you’d probably see a 50/50 split, because football fosters a much greater grey area that may transcend their numbers. Baseball, however, allows us to see that Kemp is way, way more valuable than Torre thinks him to be. He’s getting the Marshall Faulk in Super Bowl 36 treatment.

        So if you were trolling, I took the bait, it was delicious. If not, I question your actual ability for any knowledge. Either way, it was a slow day at work, thanks for killing time for me.

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  42. Mo Wang says:

    Please, don’t make it sound like Joe Torre has turned around a struggling franchise.

    The Dodgers have had a winning record 11 times since 1996, out of 13 full seasons. That is consistent winning. They have had 86 or more wins in 7 of those seasons. Last year under Joe Torre wasn’t even one of those seasons. They only won 84 games last season with Joe Torre as manager. It was only their 9th best single-season record over the last 13 years. How is that impressive? And what do you think their record would have been without the Manny acquisition? They likely would have had a losing record. Torre only made the playoffs because the division competition was utter garbage, and because the GM got Manny. That’s luck, not skill. They won 82 games in 2007 with Grady Little (and no Manny), and 88 games with Grady Little in 2006. So Torre did little in 2008 to “make them a winner” any moreso than they already were in 2007 and 2006. He got lucky that the division was crap.

    The Dodgers are on pace to win 100+ games this year. What do you think is more likely: The Joe Torre who got saved by the Manny acquisition last year and lucked his way into the playoffs drank some really great green tea during the offseason that taught him how to win 15 to 20 more games by himself by his sheer managing ability, or that maybe just maybe the players on the field are just performing at a much higher level this year? If you think their increase in wins this year, compared to the last few years, is chiefly attributable to Joe Torre, well then you aren’t paying enough attention to the performance of the players. Torre doesn’t have Andruw Jones soaking up 238 plate appearances with a 34 OPS+ this year like he did last year. Juan Pierre was actually very good so far this year instead of repeating his OPS+ of 73 from last year in 406 plate appearances. That was a huge black hole. Casey Blake’s OPS last year was almost .080 points lower last year than it is so far this year. And don’t forget that Blake DeWitt manned 3B for most of last year with an OPS of .728 in 400+ plate appearances. Hudson’s performance has been a lot better this year than last year’s collective 2nd base tandem of Kent and Hu. Hu was given 129 plate appearances last year and put up an OPS+ of 29. Mark Sweeney had 108 plate appearances last year with an OPS+ of 12. These are some truly awful performances. So, the team wisened up during the offseason and cut the garbage off the team, while getting extremely lucky with Pierre and a little lucky with Blake so far. And I haven’t even gotten to the pitching staff and the overhauled bullpen.

    Basically what I’m saying is, Joe Torre is not the main reason this team is so much better this year. Torre was given a roster in 2008 with several empty spots of production, and the Dodgers won 84 games. This year they trimmed the fat and cut out most of last year’s garbage, and the team is on pace to win 100 games. Once again, do you think this is more attributable to the idea that Joe Torre is a managing genius, or is it instead more attributable to the fact that he doesn’t have all these terrible hitters rostered that put up historically awful OPS’s this year? And do you really think he is the reason that Juan Pierre was actually a good player during Manny’s absence?

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  43. VanRed says:

    There’s a reason NFL, NBA & NHL coaches generally make more money than MLB Managers … it’s because MLB Managers require the least amount of game prep/planning. Whilst MLB is technically a team sport … players generally work solo-style. For example: Pitcher vs. Batter. Having said that … an MLB Manager is still important. Behind every great team is great chemistry … & that chemistry generally starts at the top. Joe Torre isn’t technically astute as Tony LaRussa … Torre’s strength(s) lie elsewhere. He infuses confidence. We all know confidence is vital to a team’s success. A stacked line-up doesn’t guarentee success. Apparently the big question revolves around why Kemp bats 8th. As fans … we all have opinions. Bottom line … it works for the Dodgers. I’ve read several publications which quote Dodgers players as saying the club house has never been so solid top to bottom. That’s what matters … fellas believing in each other. Clearly … Kemp is satisfied with his place in the batting lineup & so are his teammates. Fan is short for “fanatic”. It’s embarrassing when a fanatic person takes a myopic view of his/her favorite player & makes that player bigger than the team. If a fanatic person wants to makes his/her voice heard … make the team. If not … know your role & stay in your lane.

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    • Slick says:

      You are correct, there are a lot of myopic fanatics in this string.

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    • don says:

      It’s working so it must be right is post hoc ergo propter hoc to a T. You really can’t take a discussion anywhere from there; you’ve closed it to any type of new insight.

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  44. Joe R says:

    Slick’s either a troll, an idiot, or one of those people who think the only way to enjoy baseball, or sports in general, is get drunk, high five your buddy, and pick fights with fans of other teams.

    Personally, I find analysis and dissection enjoyable, and I enjoy watching baseball more now that I have a better understanding of the science behind it then back in 2002 when I still believed in some sort of crazy moral aptitude to winning over talent + luck.

    Also enjoy being called fat, since I wasn’t a college athlete or anything.

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    • Slick says:

      That isn’t the only way to enjoy sports, but it is the best way.

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      • Joe R says:

        Drunkenness, wildly ascribing moral superiority/inferiority to explain winning, magic, curses, believing everything ESPN tells you.

        Then 2004 happened and I got the privledge of seeing a team that got on base, took basepath risks when the situation called for it, and was generally well constructed, win the WS and 4 straight ALCS games. While a team that started a historically bad fielder in CF while DH’ing or benching another for a DH with a .296 OBP on the season (what kind of dumb manager would do THAT, right?)

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  45. Mo Wang says:

    Getting away from the personal insults and off-topic comments that Slick likes to keep bringing up, I would like to add that the most perplexing thing to me about the Kemp situation is that both schools of baseball thought (statistical analysis vs old school conventional baseball wisdom) would support the notion of Kemp batting much higher in the order. And both schools of thought would probably support the idea that putting Kemp in front of a pitcher is probably the least useful spot to put him in. In fact, conventional baseball wisdom would probably feel even more strongly about Kemp needing to bat higher in the order than statistical analysis would. Afterall, Kemp is hitting .320 with good power and good speed. That’s a middle of the order hitter according to conventional baseball wisdom. So even if Joe Torre really has a hatred for advanced statistics and instead prefers conventional baseball wisdom, he is still making the obviously dumb choice here. It is pretty amazing that he is failing so hard on this one since it is such an easy problem to fix.

    And no, I am not being fanatical for saying Joe Torre is a bad manager. That’s my opinion. Your opinion is that he is a good mamager. I think both sides can be reasonably argued. That doesn’t make either one of us a fanatic. An example of a fanatic response would be calling for him to be fired every 5 minutes and saying he is the worst manager ever and that his mere presence is going to ruin the team. Hyperbole like that is much more suited for a fanatic. But nobody is saying those things. I don’t think he should be fired. I think this team is good enough to win it all with Torre at the helm, and I am rooting like hell for them. At the very least, he is a big upgrade over Grady Little. But there are still several other managers out there that I would prefer to lead the Dodgers instead of Torre.

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  46. Slick says:

    This topic jumped the shark a long time ago.The OP in this case suggests that Torre is flexing his ego based on burying Kemp in the order when his numbers show he should be batting higher. That statement in itself is strictly opinion based on the assumption that he has some insight into a person he doesn’t know. It’s no more insightful than JoeR telling me I couldn’t run a company or me calling him a typical fat American slob.

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    • Joe R says:

      Since we’re saying that MW is wildly ascribing advanced knowledge into someone’s mentality. let’s look at the first thing you said:

      “Maybe Kemp has an attitude problem?”

      Yep, no wild assumptions going on there.

      “They’re winning” is not the sole criteria of a good manager. Did Terry Francona suddenly go from crap to awesome when he got the Red Sox job? Did Dusty Baker go from awesome to crap cause of Bartman?

      If Kemp got moved up, the ONLY person who would receive an ego blow is Furcal, who I assume would become the 8 hole guy. I mean .256/.331/.350? Better keep that guy happy so he can give my team 700 Plate Appearances of that. Torre is giving the most PA chances per game to the guy with the worst OBP on his team among regulars.

      Even if Torre is costing his team just .2 runs / game in favor of appeasing egos, that’s 3 wins at the end of the season. And if the Giants and/or Rockies make a big acquisition in the next few weeks, 3 wins left on the shelf is a lot of wins.

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    • Joe R says:

      And by defense I mean offense.

      if you want to play “well Howard’s a better hitter so Howard > Kemp”, let’s also put Howard in center field, so we can really compare apples to apples. Wonder how that would go.

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  47. Mo Wang says:

    It doesn’t matter if the OP is correct or not in assuming that Torre is flexing his own ego. Torre is making a bad decision, regardless of whatever his true motivations are for doing it.

    Torre’s choice to bat Kemp 8th could only be justified by the man himself if he actually believes that this current lineup will score the most runs for the Dodgers. But he has never stated that. He just says some vague stuff about how Kemp doesn’t care where he bats. As I have said many times already, that’s a dumb reason to bat someone 8th. Batting a very good player 8th because they don’t mind it is dumb. Can you imagine Ichiro or Branyan batting 8th for the Mariners? Or Wright or Sheffield batting 8th for the Mets? Or Hunter or Abreu batting 8th for the Angels? So I am pretty upset with Torre’s publicly stated reasons for doing this since they make no sense from the standpoint of maximizing runs scored.

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    • Joe R says:

      PS Mo.

      I’ve talked to Dodger fans in the past, and it’s kind of insane. They SERIOUSLY think James Loney is as vital, if not a more vital cog to the future as Kemp.

      Now I don’t hate on Loney. His OBP is okay, his SLG is kind of flukishly low, his plate discipline is very nice, and of course, he’s young.

      But seriously, if his peak is a 4 win player as fangraphs would call it, that’s not even where Kemp is at the ASB. I see Loney as a Derrek Lee type, good player, want him on your team, not exactly the franchise though. Love him for $9,000,000 / yr, you can have him though if you want to pay him like a superstar, etc. But Kemp has Beltran potential. It’s depressing how many people can’t view a game outside of a vacuum that they like and see what an awesome player Kemp is. Power/average/plate discipline/fielding/base running, Kemp is currently your classic underwhelming superstar. Nothing jumps out at you, but you’d be insane to say he’s not one of the best.

      On that note, bit of poetic justice that Howard looked like a little leaguer last night on that strike 3 vs. Joe Nathan, since he was invited to the game despite Kemp being clearly better and more deserving to go in 2009.

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      • Slick says:

        I like James Loney. He deserves to given just as much chance to reach his potential.

        You two are Kemp fanatics.

        Now you are saying he is better and worth more than Ryan Howard.

        You are high.

        Go ahead throw some stats my way to prove how wrong and stupid I am! I would love to hear your justification of how Kemp is better than Howard!

        Afterall, you guys know everything, I know nothing. I chalk wins up to total fluke. Coaching and mananging is worthless. Let’s just let the fans set the lineups. They are the ones truely in the know! They see the stats. The numbers are everything. I guess it doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure it out.

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      • Joe R says:

        Hmmm let’s see, just using stats on here (so you can go look up what they mean, maybe learn something):

        Kemp wOBA: .386
        Howard wOBA: .373

        Kemp UZR: 10.2
        Howard UZR: 3.6

        Kemp WAR: 4.2
        Howard WAR: 2.2

        Kemp age: 24
        Howard age: 29

        Small sample size aside, Kemp has CLEARLY been better in 2009. And if you took 2 seconds to check his minor league numbers, they look pretty good as well. What part of “replaceability” is so hard for you to grasp? Your train of vacuum thought is why guys like Tony Perez are in the Hall of Fame and Bobby Grich aren’t.

        In MLB there are guys liek Pujols, Gonzalez, Fielder, Berkman, Youkilis, Teixeira, Pena, Cabrera, etc, all playing first base. What makes Howard so special given that all these guys can produce at least equal value? Better yet, what distinguishes Loney from this group?

        I swear you’re just trolling me and I’m biting. I don’t really care, though, serves as a distraction.

        If you don’t like numbers and evidence, fine, don’t use them, watch the game for the aesthetics. But when you argue based on nothing but ascribed causation, aesthetic value, and weird anti-American comments, you look like an idiot. Check the numbers, or better yet, do your own independent study, flipping Ryan Langerhans for Matt Kemp would hurt the Dodgers way more than Casey Kotchman for James Loney, and Kotchman for Howard. This isn’t rocket science. This is simply the baseball equivalent of saying a guy who scores 25 ppg but shoots 40 times in basketball isn’t very valuable compared to another guy who scored 20 ppg on 15 shots per.

        Torre’s an okay manager, but these are criticisms that a lot more people than just users of this site have.

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      • Slick says:

        When the game is on the line, who would you rather have at bat trying to win it for you? The obvious choice is Howard. Its about respect and intimidation. As a pitcher you know that one mistake over the plate and the game is over. Of course this is not a measurable stat. Its yet another intangible trait that makes a difference. For all I know, the numbers might say Kemp hits better with RISP but as a pitcher, I know who I would rather face. But I rely on you guys for stats that I really don’t care about.

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      • Joe R says:

        Great, a 1st baseman, whose entire value to a team is his defense, is “more feared” as a hitter than a Center fielder, making him more valuable and better.

        That’s an insane cherry pick. Howard’s in the 2nd tier of 1st basemen in 2009. Kemp’s arguably the best CF. This is not a hard concept.

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    • ineedanap says:

      Funny you should mention batting 8th for the Angels.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=3057&position=C

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  48. Mo Wang says:

    When you take both offense and defense into account, Kemp has been a more valuable player than Ryan Howard this year. Slick, didn’t you say something earlier about how people don’t appreciate defense enough? Kemp is one of the best defensive CF’s in all of baseball this year.

    I agree with you Joe R about Loney. Loney is a nice player, but Kemp could potentially be a superstar if he just develops a little more power. And he is so young right now that I could easily see that happening before long. But even if he remains at his current level, it is very exciting to think about how good this guy is going to be for the Dodgers over the next several years. Hopefully Colletti doesn’t eventually trade him around for an older veteran. You never know with this GM.

    Also, Slick you are wrong about calling me a Kemp fanatic. I already stated that I don’t care what Dodger hitter it is that is batting .320 with an .880 OPS, that guy needs to bat higher than 8th in the lineup . If Furcal was the one putting up a .320 avg and .880 OPS while Kemp was struggling with a low 700′s OPS, I would definitely want Furcal batting high in the order and Kemp hitting lower. This is not about some unreasonable admiration for Matt Kemp, it’s about wanting the Dodgers to score the most runs possible. Kemp is performing at a very high level right now, and the Dodgers need to stop wasting that performance by putting it in front of a pitcher.

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  49. Mo Wang says:

    heh…don’t do it Colletti!

    Hey Joe R, I know this is off-topic but what is the deal with Clay Buchholz? I thought I had heard something about him starting in the big leagues very soon for Boston. Is that true? Are one of their other 5 starters (Beckett, Lester, Penny, Wakefield, Smoltz) hurt or bumped out of the rotation to make room for him?

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    • Joe R says:

      If that’s the case, I’ve apparently been out of the loop. Means I wouldn’t be able to see him pitch on a 5 finger discount at Pawtucket.

      Who am I shitting, those games practically sell out, too, Rhode Islanders have nothing better to do.

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      • Mo Wang says:

        Ok so Buchholz is going to start on Friday. Then it sounds like they will send him right back to the minors. This is the Francona quote I just read:

        “Coming out of the break, we really wanted to line up our pitching. And when you have the fourth day out of the break . . . it really gives you a lot of rest. It can also lead to a tough day coming back. That’s why we’re working out tomorrow night. We can get a little heavy just because of the time off. And it’s a tough assignment to draw. So what we’re thinking is that Buchholz is going to be very excited, turn him loose, and maybe he absolutely deals, which would be great, and we also line up the rest of our pitching. And there’s something to be said for keeping Buchholz engaged in what we’re doing. This kid has gone down and done everything we’ve asked. I don’t think ‘throwing him a bone’ is the right way to say it, but keeping him engaged in what we’re doing and showing him we believe in what he’s doing, I think there’s something to be said for that.”

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      • Joe R says:

        Meh, I’m happy he’s getting a start. Must be frustrating to know you’re losing essentially a year of your MLB career because the team is so topheavy in pitching. He’ll be in the rotation in 2010.

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      • Slick says:

        Buchholz needs to be patient. Experienced players deserve roster spots because they have earned it. Just because some young guy appears to deserve a chance doesn’t mean that you automatically punt the vet in favour of a younger option.

        As I stated before, success at the major league level has just as much to with opportunity and being in the right situation rather than talent alone. Don’t worry, I know Buchholz has value, much like Kemp, hence I have him wasting an active roster spot on one of my fantasy teams (in a league that has no reserve spots) in hopes he goes off and stays up. Penny and Smoltz have earned the right over him though.

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      • Joe R says:

        Hence I said leave him down there til 2010.

        And no, vets haven’t “earned” anything for being older. If you’re a vet and sucking, you deserve to be replaced by someone who’ll help the team.

        But Penny and Smoltz aren’t sucking, so that’s a moot point. Well Smoltz a little, but he’s pretty much in spring training.

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  50. Peter says:

    Welp, thats certainly Matt Kemp.

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  51. Mo Wang says:

    I’m surprised Penny has lasted this long with the Red Sox in the AL East. Good for him. But I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he gets clobbered soon enough and Buchholz gets his spot.

    As for the “who would you rather have up with the game on the line” question, this is completely irrelevant when it comes to who the more valuable player has been in 2009. Joe and I were addressing the issue of Kemp vs Howard in terms on 2009 value thus far, not the issue of who would we want up with the game on the line. It’s not the “Who do you want batting with the game on the line”-Star game. If it was as simple as that, then any AL fan would say screw Brandon Inge and Jason Bartlett, the AL should have had ARod and Miguel Cabrera on the all-star team since those are guys you would rather have up with the game on the line.

    Also, you conveniently ignored the value of defense. Kemp has been arguably been more valuable than Howard this year with the bat, and when you take defense into account it is not even close who the better player has been in 2009. This issue is completely separate from the question of who you prefer to have up with the game on the line. And btw Howard actually was up with the ASG on the line and struck out. Of course one at-bat doesn’t indicate anything meaningful, but it’s pretty funny that you brought that specific question up considering that Howard had the lowest WPA of the game for all NL hitters because of the strikeout in a very meaningful situation.

    And I believe that Howard actually has been neutralized quite often in late-game clutch situations since he can’t hit lefties, and so the other maanger can just bring in their lefty relievers to get him out. I haven’t checked the numbers on this though. Maybe someone else out there could shed some light on this one to verify if this is true or not.

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  52. Slick says:

    We’ll see by the year’s end who is worth more as the season is half over. I agree to this date, Kemp appears to have been a better player, according to some stat called WAR, which in my fantasy league isn’t a category, but in terms of who is more valuable to the batting order, I would take a 45 homer threat any day of the week. I guess that’s really where most of differences in player value lie, I don’t care about absolute stats and who is the overall better player, I care about who wins me money. When Howard gets me 45+ homers and ~140 RBIs and Kemp gets slightly more than half that, that’s where I determine value.

    As for the All-star game, I didn’t watch it. I can’t watch regular games let alone exhibition ones. Well unless I am trashed. Just like the single-A game I went to yesterday. Thank goodness for beer because that was some of the weakest hitting and slowest pitching I have ever seen.

    The Phillies are going to win the WS again anyways. Their best players are in their prime, that’s essentially what determines a winner.

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    • Joe R says:

      Papelbon, Lester, Pedroia, Youkilis, Buchholz, and Ellsbury were all in their prime in 2007?

      That’s news to me.

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      • Slick says:

        I never said that at all. I was making a general statement about winning teams. MOST winning teams, not all, win because their best players at the time of winning the championship are in their prime years of production.

        Buchholz, Ellsbury and Lester barely even played that year so they weren’t exactly their best players nor in their prime then.

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    • Joe R says:

      And once again, you’re comparing apples to oranges. This is insane. You can’t just compare the hitting stats of a 1B to a CF, especially in a HR/SLG vacuum, and judge like that.

      List of 1B that have been better or equal to Howard in 2009 in no order:

      Youkilis
      Teixeira
      Pena
      Morneau
      Cabrera
      Branyan
      Johnson (maybe)
      Pujols
      Berkman
      Lee
      Fielder
      Gonzalez

      List of CF’s near Kemp

      Hunter

      Still don’t believe me, here’s another group of people saying essentially the same thing:
      http://www.baseballprospectus.com/statistics/sortable/index.php?cid=503545

      Apparently you have to play like Pujols to get any respect before age 26 for you.

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      • Slick says:

        According that list of ‘stats’ on that link, which you obviously take as gospel, you would rather have Scutaro at SS than Hanley Ramirez. Now that is insane. I wait for your exception to the rule comments.

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      • Joe R says:

        Or the “Scutaro is having a fine year but is obviously playing over his head, is 32, and likely to return to his normal, good not great level, while H-Ram is way younger, has been way better, and since his value is primarily offense can probably be moved to the OF in the future and be equally effective. Scutaro’s been a good defensive SS, when you combine it with a somewhat flukishly good offensive start, that’s a lot of value.

        But you’re right, I should throw out all things I’ve learned about the game, instead let’s worship Ryan Howard for hitting lots of home runs in a ballpark that ranks among the easiest to hit home runs out of. Good call.

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      • Slick says:

        I have never understood that argument.

        Why is Howard’s value limited to the fact that he plays in a hitters park? He still plays 81 games on the road. Why wouldn’t he do himself a favour and re-sign in a place that is friendlier to his game? It’s just common sense as player to put yourself in the best position to succeed. By your same logic, any pitcher who pitches in a pitcher’s park is just padding his stats and isn’t very good. Or if a hitter chooses a pitcher’s park, he is actually a better hitter and would be more valuable if he hit in hitter’s park and is wasting his career.

        Same with Joe Torre. Is it his fault that the Yankees spent as much money as possible to field a team? And now the same with the Dodgers?

        Your value shouldn’t be judged because you chose to play or manage in a place that gives you the best chance to win. When men are involved in competition, it’s all about winning. Your value really should be what you have done to help a team win regardless of what kind of numbers you put up. Baseball appears to be the only sport where fans seem to care so much about individual statistical prowess over team success.

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      • Joe R says:

        That’s not the main part of any point, Howard would hit no matter what park he’s in. The point is that there are a lot of 1st basemen that would deliver equal or better performance to what he’s giving. If the Blue Jays offered Roy Halladay for Randy Wolf, would the Dodgers say no because “they’re winning?” Of course not.

        Of course it’s about winning in the end, but a good way to get more wins in the end is better players. And better players, put up better numbers relative to their contemporaries (aka the guys who play their same position). Long run, Howard is probably a better hitter than Kemp, but Howard is a 1st baseman, his contemporaries are Pujols, Berkman, Morneau, Teixeira, Youkilis, Gonzalez, Branyan, and others. Kemp, it’s Beltran, Bourn, Hunter, Granderson, McLouth, Sizemore, Span, and others. Defense matters, too, and all the guys in group B are way more valuable defenders than the guys in group A (with possible exception to Pujols and McLouth). Hence, a guy from Group B with a .290/.380/.470 line is usually better than a guy from Group A with that same line, since they’ll be more valuable defensively (and usually faster if you’re into that).

        The reason why people care so much about the individual is that baseball is, in many ways, an individual sport. Sure being a good teammate is good, everyone knows people perform better on the job when they’re happy on it, but odds are Tim Wakefield’s wife making cookies for Kevin Youkilis isn’t turning Youk into a year after year all star*. BA/OBP/SLG, and all those stats are pretty much biproducts of a hitter’s own ability, unlike in, say, basketball, where a guy who scores 25 ppg isn’t a better scorer necessarily than one who scores 17 ppg, as the guy who scores 25 ppg may shoot more, or also may play on an inferior team where they have more responsibility to score (an example of this could be Ray Allen in Seattle vs. Ray Allen in Boston). Sure you can look at stats like WPA to see how much someone contributes to winning in the clutch, but that’s a volatile statistic from year to year. One year a guy could be a clutchy king w/ a 6+ WPA, and the next year be an unclutch a-hole with a 0 (Alex Rodriguez, ’07, ’08).

        So you’re 100% right when you say that a player should be judged by how much they contribute to winning, Slick. However, stats like this site’s wOBA and baseball prospectus’ EqA have been proven to correlate around 93%+ to runs scored on a team scale. So sure, there is still that 7% that you can say involves clutch, heart, grit, being a good guy, whatever, but if I had to choose between a grade A asshole with a .340 EqA / .450 wOBA vs. a church going, charity donating, family loving society pillar with a .260 EqA / .330 wOBA (aka average stats) who play the same position and same defense, I’ll take guy #1, deal with the bs, and win more games in the long run.

        *this is probably not happening, hypothetical

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  53. Mo Wang says:

    For the most part in baseball, individual statistical accomplishments are what drive team success. Unlike most other team sports, baseball is basically just a series of individual matchups. Sure there are plenty of things that don’t show up in the box score or stats that help a team, but these things make up a very very small percentage of the helpful stuff. So if your team has a bunch of individual players who are having good statistical years, the team will do well (Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, etc). And if your team doesn’t have many individual players having good statistical years, the team will struggle (Padres, Athletics, Royals, Pirates). The team will only do well if many of the individuals are doing well statistically. I think Manny Ramirez is a very unlikeable guy. But I root for him to have 50 Hrs and 140 RBIs and a .450 OBP because it will help the Dodgers win games, not because I have any interest in Manny being successful for his own benefit. I would guess Yankee fans feel similarly about Rodriguez.

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  54. The Fizz says:

    I see that Joe Torre is still hitting Matt Kemp eighth. I guess some managers are just too stubborn to admit they’ve been making a mistake.

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  55. Joe R says:

    Hey, Matt Kemp hit 6th on Saturday!

    Still behind the ever mediocre James Loney, but still, PROGRESS.

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  56. Wally says:

    And 5th today, with 5 RBIs. Coincidence? Maybe a little, but its about time..

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  57. Joe R says:

    Torre is still the only person on the planet who thinks Loney is a cleanup hitter.
    Didn’t the Braves just dump a guy to the Red Sox like sidewalk trash with similar stats as Loney?

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  58. Mo Wang says:

    5 more RBI’s for Kemp tonight.

    I’m not sure if this bump up in the order is permanent or not, but hopefully Torre is paying attention to Kemp’s performance for once. The dude is still hitting .320. The idea that Kemp was best suited for the 8th spot was always absurd. I wonder just how many rbi’s this man lost due to joe torre being a stubborn idiot for 4 months.

    But the other day Torre burned through 3 of his better relievers to get the final 4 outs in a an 8-run victory, so I’m not convinced that the idiocy has ended.

    btw here is a ridiculous rationale that Torre actually used somewhat recently when asked about batting Kemp 8th:

    http://www.dailynews.com/dodgers/ci_12916856

    He basically says betting Kemp 8th was Kemp’s reward for doing well. WTF is wrong with this guy.

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  59. Mo Wang says:

    Also, Casey Blake is batting .268/.349/.389/ since May 27th. I wish we would stop seeing his name next to Manny’s everyday in the lineup. Blake needs to be placed in the bottom half of the batting order, just like he was in the beginning of the season. His hot streak has been over for a long time now. But he’s a grizzled veteran, and Joe Torre likes grizzled vets, so I guess that buys him extra time in the heart of the order.

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  60. David A says:

    I think we’ll see Kemp in the 5/6 hole for the rest of the year. Maybe 4 occasionally. He’s got his slugging back over .500 and really looks locked in now. Steals will be down but I don’t care. Bring on the taters!

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  61. Joe R says:

    I love how Matt Kemp has in one season become essentially a SABRnerd superhero. So many of us love the guy because he’s so underappreciated.

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  62. dbuff says:

    The Torre article is borderline hilarious. If Torre hadn’t actually been hitting Kemp 8th all that time you would swear he’s putting the reporter on. What Torre said was exactly what a manager would say about someone hitting leadoff or cleanup so you have to remind yourself that Torre’s talking about hitting 8th in a National League lineup. Quoting Torre: “When I saw Matt with the quality of his at-bats, I didn’t hesitate to hit him eighth because it just looked like he had a better feel than I felt he would have had earlier in the season,” Torre said. “That was my biggest concern, because I didn’t want him hitting eighth earlier in the season because I just wasn’t sure he could handle it.” They could use that on Saturday Night Live.

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    • Joe R says:

      Amazing how he went from one of the most underrated players ever to an overrated manager.

      Eh, at least he’ll get in the Hall of Fame now.

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  63. Mo Wang says:

    And what makes it even more ridiculous dbuff, is that Joe Torre also stated in that article that choosing who to bat ahead of Manny is very important because it’s important to have guys on base for Manny. At the time the article was written, Kemp led the team in OBP (ignoring Manny), and he still leads the non-manny hitters in OBP right now. So if getting guys on base was so important…shouldn’t Kemp have been batting right in front of Manny this whole time? I guess not, because he is the sort of player that is special enough to bat 8th instead.

    That whole thing was so frustratingly mind-numbing.

    And even if Torre really does think that the #8 spot requires a special hitter (although I don’t think Torre actually believes this), this offers no reason for why he was batting Kemp 9th in the american league ballparks during interleague play, while the bench-player loretta was batting higher. There was no pitcher waiting on deck anymore. Torre managed in the AL for a long time with the Yankees. I’m pretty sure that he reserved his 9th spot for the worst hitters on the team. So why would he stick Kemp there? It made no sense.

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    • Joe R says:

      I love how the same 2-3 people (me included) keep bumping this for no reason.

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    • scott says:

      I’ll bump this shit all week, even though I’ve contributed very little.

      Seeing Kemp hit 9th against the White Sox with Loretta *two* hitters ahead of him was maybe the last straw. I frequently ask myself “Is Kemp going to hit 12th tonight?”

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  64. Broc says:

    Can we (ok, you guys) write a post or blog about what a groundball machine James Loney is. Could you guys figure if the whole year that Matt Kemp and James Loney would have been reversed in the order, how many RBI would each of them have? ANd I wish we could have pawned Loney off on the Padres… Damn it!

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    • Joe R says:

      Every Dodger fan I’ve met loves James Loney for some reason. Like, where they don’t see the issue in his nearly Eckstein-like SLG.

      Thanks Joe Morgan for highlighting him every time the Dodgers are on ESPN.

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  65. Mo Wang says:

    Yeah Loney’s SLG is terrible. Yet he usually finds himself in the middle of the lineup. Thanks Joe Torre!

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  66. Slick says:

    I like Joe Torre. His teams win games.

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  67. Mo Wang says:

    Yeah and Ramiro Mendoza has 5 rings. His teams have won lots of games too. I wonder why more people don’t like this guy.

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  68. Joe R says:

    Torre’s fine overall, he just does weird things. Tends to cater to vets too much, too, which obviously is only a real problem if that catering involves letting Bernie Williams start in CF.

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  69. Mo Wang says:

    You know what’s even crazier than batting Matt Kemp 8th? Look at what Scioscia is doing with the Angels lineup with respect to his catchers.

    Mike Napoli is hitting .291/.371/.531 in 313 plate appearances. OPS+ is 131.
    Jeff Mathis is hitting .205/.302/.321in 185 plate appearances. OPS+ is 62.

    On the surface it looks like Napoli is getting a decent amount of playing time, while Mathis is probably getting a bit too much playing time. But 68 of Napoli’s plate appearances came at DH during Vladimir Guerrero’s stays on the DL this year. When Guerrero is healthy the DH spot is unavailable for Napoli, and so Mike Napoli essentially splits catching duties with Mathis or sits on the bench, which is completely insane.

    So if we ignore the DH, Angels catchers this year have 425 plate appearances. Napoli has 242 of those plate appearances. Mathis has 183 of those plate appearances. That’s way too close. Or perhaps here’s a better way of looking at it. Vladimir has been healthy for about 50 games this year. The Angels have started Napoli in only 25 of those games. Mathis started in the other 25 games. Scioscia basically starts his catchers 50 percent each when Vladimir is healthy. The team’s record in those 50 games is 27-23. Their record otherwise is 37-19. Of course there is more to that than just Napoli’s lack of playing time in those 50 games where Vlad is healthy, but still, you would think that any MLB manager should be able to notice that the team is much much better with Napoli in there at C.

    The fact that Scioscia benches Napoli so frequently in favor of Jeff Mathis is absolutely insane. Look at their respective batting lines for the year again So, I’ll take Joe Torre over that guy. At least Torre plays Matt Kemp, even if he usually puts him in really really dumb lineup spots. Scioscia would probably start Juan Pierre in CF and bench Kemp or Ethier.

    Seriously, giving so much playing time to Mathis over Napoli would be like the Yankees splitting Posada and Molina 50-50, which just seems like a ridiculous concept that any regular fan could see is a dumb thing to do. But Napoli doesn’t have the rep of a guy like Posada, so I barely hear anybody challenge Scioscia on this one. Scioscia gets a pass in the media because everybody seems to think that he is some sort of demigod at managing. But this is beyond stupid. Why would any manager bench a catcher with a .900 OPS in favor of one with a .600 OPS? Is he even paying attention to his team’s much imporved performance when Napoli is playing?

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    • Slick says:

      Back catcher is a different position. It’s almost assumed that it has nothing to do with offensive ability. Offensively minded back catchers are often times moved to other positions. If my memory serves correct, an example would be Carlos Delgado who came into the league as a back catcher for the Blue Jays. A good friend of mine played fastball for many years and was a back catcher and while he was a good hitter, it was more of the fact that he called a good game and his pitchers felt comfortable with him. That was until he beaned one of his pitchers in the head with a muffed throw to second which he blames the SS on for not breaking for the bag but I digress. Scioscia was a back catcher when he was a major league player, so its fair to assume he knows something about the position.

      That said, strictly from a numbers point of view, it doesn’t make any sense at all. I have Napoli on AL Only roto team and it pains me to see what he could do with more PAs. But I don’t question managerial decisions. They know things beyond the numbers.

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      • Mo Wang says:

        (sorry, this is going to be a long one…)

        You admit the numbers render his decision nonsensical, however you follow that up by saying you refuse to ever question a manager? That makes no sense. Managers are the people in the sport who are most open to questioning because they make all of the decisions in regards to lineups, bullpen useage, and in-game strategy such as bunting and defensive replacements, etc. And they will sometimes make controversial or just flat-out incorrect decisions, and so they should be questioned on the motives behind these decisions. That’s also part of their job – answering those questions. So saying you refuse to ever question a manager seems completely ridiculous. When a manager decides to bat ARod 8th in the lineup in a crucial playoff game, or another manager decides to keep Pedro Martinez in the 2003 Game 7 a bit too long, they should be questioned on these things. Maybe they have a good reason for doing these controversial things. But why should they get a free pass for possibly screwing up at their job? At the very least, they need to be questioned.

        As for this specific case with Napoli, I don’t know any inner details as to why Scioscia splits his time evenly with Mathis when Vladimir is healthy. Perhaps Scioscia doesn’t want to wear down Napoli so that he still has some fresh legs in October. Perhaps Napoli’s defense is poor. Perhaps some pitchers prefer Mathis to Napoli. But this is part of the problem – the reason I don’t know these things is because nobody in the media ever questions Scioscia about this stuff. It is a simple question to ask. Let’s hear what he has to say. But Mike built up such goodwill with the 2002 world title that these media guys never challenge him on anything. They just assume he is correct – just like you treat every single manager apparently – and that’s just lazy and dumb. These managers need to be accountable for their decisions.

        So I am left to try to figure this out myself since nobody ever presses Scioscia on this one. There is a relatively clear pattern with Napoliis useage, when Vlad is healthy. He plays one day at catcher, then is benched the next day for Mathis. Then he plays the next day at C. Then he sits the next day on the bench for mathis. Occasionally Scioscia will use Napoli for 2 straight days, but then he will follow that up by using Mathis for 2 straight days. This pattern seems to have nothing at all then to do with certain pitchers being comfortable with different catchers. It is just a simple alternating sequence.

        Scioscia seems to be completely ignoring Napoli’s production. Napoli has an OPS over .900. Only one regular catcher has a higher OPS, and that is Joe Mauer. That’s right, Napoli’s OPS is better than McCann, Posada, Martin, V-Mart, Pierzynksi, and every other catcher in baseball not named Joe Mauer. When you produce like that, excuses like “maybe he has poor defense” or “maybe some pitchers are more comfortable with Mathis” just don’t cut it. And what’s the point of him having fresh legs for October if you don’t even make it there? Their offense will take a big hit everytime Mathis plays over Napoli, and this could cost them some crucial wins down the stretch. We’re not talking about a catcher with an OPS in the 700′s that just has a slight edge on Mathis. This dude is an elite offensive catcher this year. He has to start a heck of a lot more than just 50% of the games when Vladimir Guerrero is healthy.

        There are 8 teams this year that have had their total catcher time split between several guys due to either injury, a guy losing his job due to ineffectiveness, trades, minor league callups, etc. These teams are the Pirates, Padres, Nationals, Orioles, Indians, Reds, Mets, and Mariners. None of these teams have a single catcher that has caught more than 50% of the teams games. The other 22 teams all have one clear catcher that has caught more than 50% of the teams games. Out of these 22 teams, Napoli has the lowest percentage of his team’s total plate appearances from catchers. Napoli has 57% of his team’s total catchers plate appearances. Here are how the 22 regular catchers break down in this same category:

        Varitek – 75%
        McCann – 75% (and he was on the DL for a couple of weeks)
        I-Rod – 72%
        Saltalamacchia – 73%
        Navarro – 73%
        Laird – 80%
        Pierzynski – 80%
        B. Molina – 80%
        Martin – 84%
        Suzuki – 84%
        Y. Molina – 86%
        Kendall – 85%
        Barajas – 70%

        Those guys have caught a significant amount of their teams games. And many of them have been terrible offensive performers. Kendall, Navarro, I-Rod, B. Molina, Laird, Saltalamacchia, and Barajas all have wOBA’s under .300. That’s pretty awful. It is pretty tough to find catchers that can actually hit.

        Then we have the DL guys:
        Posada – 59% (spent a month on the DL)
        Mauer – 59% (spent a month on the DL)
        Soto – 58% (spent a month on the DL)
        Iannetta – 62% (spent over 2 weeks on the DL)

        Then we have the remaining other 5 main catchers

        Olivo – 64%
        Some Guy on the Marlins – 63%
        Ruiz – 60%
        Montero – 58%
        Napoli – 57%

        Montero was the backup catcher for a while but started to get regular playing time in June, and he has been on fire since. Arizona’s manager was smart enough to notice this, and so now Montero is the everyday catcher. His percentage is only this low because he wasn’t used much for the first 2 months of the season. Olivo has a wOBA of .314. Some Guy On The Marlins has a wOBA of .338. Ruis has a wOBA of .310.

        Napoli has been healthy all year. His wOBA is .384. This is extremely comparable to Matt Holliday, Bay, Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Thome, and Chipper Jones. Mathis has a wOBA of .281. There are not too many catchers that are worse than this. The Angels have a huge asset on their hands here that only the Twins can match – an everyday catcher that can mash the baseball just as effectively as many premier hitters in the game – and they are choosing to put him on the bench half the time. This is an irresponsible waste of the position on the field where they could be giving themselves a huge advantage over the opposition.

        Does anybody know why Scioscia is doing this? This is 3 years in a row where Napoli gets a good chunk of his playing time cut into by Mathis. And each year Mathis is a terrible offensive player while Napoli is a good offensive player. This year Napoli is the 2nd best hitting catcher in all of baseball. And he was an even better hitter last year, while Mathis was just as terrible as he is this year. Scioscia has had 3 years to figure this out. But he hasn’t, and it is hurting his team. So yeah, I’ll take Joe Torre over that guy.

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      • Slick says:

        You are right, I refuse to question a manager’s decision when their teams are winning. My stance is that simple. They are doing something correct because they have more wins than losses.

        Last check of the standings, Mike Scoscia’s Angels have the second best record overall behind Joe Torre’s Dodgers. I SUPPOSE their decisions may be costing them a win or two, but who can argue with the results? I know who, pessimistic fans who are never satisfied. This essay you wrote, which I skimmed, is proof enough that you only focus on the negative aspects and not all the good things managers are doing to win games. I suppose that is life, but I find it particular disturbing the lengths contributors on this site go to prove ineptitude rather than congratulating success. There really is no need to call out managers for every error they make, because when your team is winning, the correct decisions are outweighing the poor ones.

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      • ineedanap says:

        Mo,

        Actually, many of the fans and media give MS a hard time about Napoli not getting enough PAs. While Mathis is supposedly the better defensive catcher, and certainly looks more agile, I haven’t found any results to support this.

        The only logical conclusion I can come to w/r/t Mathis over Napoli, is health concerns, although MS has never expressed anything about it to the media. Napoli has been injured pretty much every year he has been in the majors and just had shoulder surgery in the offseason. So one could argue the splitting time thing has actually helped Napoli stay healthy all season.

        Somewhat surprisingly Mathis has done better since the ASB, although nothing compared to Napoli. Really, I think its a matter of keeping Napoli healthy to take over as DH/Backup catcher next season. Even though it frustrates the hell out of me, MS used to be a catcher so I kind of have to think he understands the situation better than I do.

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  70. dbuff says:

    I agree with Joe R. Maybe there’s even a method to Torre’s occasional madness. I enjoyed his Yankees years book on audio. OTOH success sometimes breeds the idea that one is superior to mere mortal concerns like statistical probabilities. After you’ve proved that you can win with the odds in your favor what is there left to do? To be better than that you need to beat the devil.

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  71. brooklyndodgerfan says:

    i know you guys will all hate me for this but matt kemp batting 8th has been awesome to watch. i think but i don’t have the math to back it up that it acted as a way of mitigating his strikeouts while maximizing the contact hitting of some of the other weaker players (martin, loney, ethier, and others.) to me, it made it much more important to actually deal with these players because kemp can hit for power and/or contact so he is always a threat before the pitcher. If you bat martin or furcal close to the pitcher, or both close to the pitcher then there are two or three much easier outs right in a row. since the dodgers this year seem to be a singles/contact hitting team rather than a load the bases, clear the bases team, the lineup makes sense to me. i see it as a lineup that actually minimizes weakness in a certain way rather than maximizing the potential numeric strength of the team. that’s just my take on having watched about 90 percent of the dodgers games this year. i am sure this is not really a way things are looked at here but to me the game is not as cut and dry as analysis of the data left by its wake makes it seem.

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    • Mo Wang says:

      I have also watched a large percentage of the dodger games, and I was very frustrated when the bat was frequently taken out of Kemp’s hands in 2-out RBI situations with an intentional walk so they could get the pitcher out. Kemp is one of the few players on the team that could actually clear the bases with power. I’d rather have a weaker hitter (for example, Loney or Hudson) in that spot getting the free passes, rather than having Kemp’s power potential wasted with intentional walks so the pitcher could end the inning. If Kemp hits in the middle of the order, they have to pitch to him with men on base. If he bats 8th, they can just walk him. Plus how many times was he sac bunted over to 2nd base by the pitcher when he batted 8th? This seems like a waste of his speed. I’d rather have a slower guy in that spot get sac bunted over. Kemp can just steal the base by himself, so it seems that having him sac bunted over so much was a waste of an out and a waste of his speed. This wouldn’t happen in the middle of the lineup either. I encourage weaker hitters to bat 8th since they will sometimes be given free bases simply because they hit in front of a pitcher. I don’t want my power guy having the bat removed from his hands so much.

      Well, that’s just my take on things. I hear what you are saying, but I just don’t agree with it.

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      • Slick says:

        You have the biggest man-crush on Matt Kemp ever. He steals bases at will! He hits home runs with his eyes closed! He can do no wrong!

        Orlando Hudson had an All Star first half. Quit referring to him as inferior.

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  72. brooklyndodgerfan says:

    i do see that position also. espicially the other night against the cardinals when they refused to throw matt kemp a strike just to get to the pitcher who then they took out and batted loretta who grounded out. everyone knew that was going to happen and also be a disaster. dodgers went on to lose that game for a number of reasons, but that at bat was a good example of what you’re talking about and really a key point in the game. Either way, looks like the order has been changing since the dodgers started struggling a little bit.

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  73. Mo Wang says:

    Yeah, the order has been changing. I guess Joe Torre is starting to get a bit worried about the Rockies and Giants. Hopefully Billingsley can get over his recent health and performance issues.

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  74. Mo Wang says:

    Slick, I did not say that Hudson was a poor hitter. I said that he is a weaker hitter than Matt Kemp. This is a statement of fact. Matt Kemp is a more powerful hitter than Orlando Hudson. Try to refute that. You cannot do it.

    And the fact that you never question a manager with a winning record is dumb. And you are wrong, the Dodgers and Angels do not have the best records in baseball. The Yankees do. Does this mean you think that Joe Girardi is the best manager in baseball? is he now better than Joe Torre and Scioscia? Did he convince A-Rod to hit that game-winning homerun in the 15th inning the other night? Did he tell sabathia to go out there and shutout the Red Sox for almost 8 innings on saturday? of course, let’s just give 100% of the credit for the success of these players to their manager instead of the player. Yeah, that makes sense.

    “when your team is winning, the correct decisions are outweighing the poor ones.”

    This is also not true. If the manager has many high-caliber players all throughout his team, chances are the team will be successful regardless of how good or crappy the manager is. Joe Girardi combined to get only 4 total outs out of his 2 best relievers in that 15-inning marathon. They were well rested, so they could have given much more. It was a waste of those guys. But you know what, he has a guy named Alex Rodriguez on the team who bailed his butt out of that dumb bullpen management because ARod is amazing at hitting homeruns. Girardi made a poor decision, but the Yankees won anyway because ARod is one of the best players of all-time. They didn’t win because Joe Girardi made a good decision to counter his own dumb decision. They won because of ARod, not Girardi.

    The skill of the players is much more important to winning than the managers are. Do you think Lou Piniella was a crappy manager when he was with Tampa Bay? Did he make really terrible managerial decisions all year long or something? No, he was given a roster filled of garbage players, and so the team record reflected that. That doesn’t give any indication about how good or bad of a managing job Lou did that year. I have no clue either since I didn’t watch any of Tampas games those years. But surely even Scioscia and Torre would have failed with those Tampa teams, because the players were that terrible. Do you think Grady Little was a great manager in 2003? No, he was given a roster full of amazing players. I don’t know how you cannot comprehend this. Managers can screw up all the time and their players can bail them out. It happens all the time. And managers can make good decisions and their players can simply fail to execute. The players are much more important to the outcome of the season than the manager is.

    “There really is no need to call out managers for every error they make”

    I have not done this. I am just calling them out for the dumbest mistakes they are making. Scioscia is benching a guy who is one of the best hitting catchers in all of baseball. That is insane. Torre was hitting Kemp 8th for a long time. That was dumb. Those were my two main gripes. Where was the part where I detailed every single mistake they have made this year? Look, every manager is going to make dumb little decisions throughout the season. Duh. But these two mistakes, especially Scioscia’s, are the kind of mistakes that can cost a team a division. And that’s why it is frustrating to see them making the same dumb mistakes over and over again. I am not griping about a manager’s decision to bunt in the 7th inning of a tie game or anything like that. These two mistakes are much bigger than that.

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    • Slick says:

      If managers have nothing to do with winning, explain what happened in Washington with SABRE-Hero Acta? Ever since they dumped him and made one trade, they have been playing really well. It’s almost as though his poor managing actually had something to do with the team’s record. The new manager is having success with basically the same team. Oh I forgot, managers have nothing to do with a team’s success.

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      • Mo Wang says:

        How many times are you and I going to repeat the same arguments to each other? Well, I guess at least one more time.

        First of all, I never said manager have nothing to do with winning. I said that the talent level of the players is much more important than the manager of the team. Let me give you a hypothetical example to illustrate what I mean by this, as you clearly don’t get it. Let’s say the Dodgers go on to win 96 games this year with Joe Torre as manager. To me, this means that the talent level of the team is somewhere around that 96-win mark. If they had a different manager, regardless of whether it is Manny Acta or Lou Piniella or Ken Macha or Clint Hurdle or most other managers, I would still expect the Dodgers to win something between 92 and 100 games. I do not believe that a change in manager will make more than 3 or 4 win difference at most, in the general case. As long as each manager plays his best players, the results will be similar because the talent of the players is significantly more important than whoever the manager is. That is what I believe. Obviously you disagree.

        But when a manager starts to do really insane things like bench Mike Napoli for one of the worst offensive players in all of baseball, then I feel that the manager can make a big negative difference, and so I want him off the team. Joe Torre is playing his best players, so I am ok with him as manager. I do think there are better managers than him, and I don’t think he is a good manager. But I don’t think he is a terrible manager, like Grady Little was. I don’t agree with Torre’s lineups and that can infuriate me sometimes to an irrational degree, as you have seen. I think his bullpen management is not ideal. But he puts his best players on the field every day, and so ultimately I don’t think the team would perform much better or worse with Joe Torre or many other managers in baseball. Maybe a 3 or 4 game difference at most. The players are a very skilled group of guys, and so the Dodgers will likely make the postseason regardless of the manager. That is how I feel. Maybe you disagree and think the Dodgers would only win 72 games this year if Joe Torre wasn’t the manager. I can’t really make any logical sense of what you think about managers, so that wouldn’t surprise me at all.

        And it is very odd that you use Riggleman as an example of a good manager, especially since you only judge managers by W-L record. His career W-L record as a manager is 535-663, which is less than 45% success. According to your logic, this sounds like the type of manager whose bad decisions have far outweighed his good ones. But he is 14-11 with the Nationals so far. So how do you explain that, given his previous history? Is he the person that is mostly responsible for this turnaround for the Nats? Did he suddenly learn how to make more good decisions than bad decisions??? Will you never question anything this man does since his record is above .500 this year? Do you think that his guy should be given 98% of the praise for the team performance in that stretch?

        Maybe, just maybe, the following players have had a lot more importance to that 14-11 mark with Riggleman as manager:

        Nyjer Morgan is hitting .385/.434/.484/.918 with amazingly superior defense in CF since Riggleman took over. Haven’t you read the articles all over this site praising the Nats for that trade? You could argue that Morgan is a more valuable player to the team than even Adam Dunn, given the defense. Especially since Morgan is hitting out of his mind right now. Do you understand the importance of having an elite defender in CF to the entire pitching staff? The Nats haven’t had a real CF all year long.

        Dunn is hitting .347/.457/.680/1.137 in this stretch.

        Zimmerman is hitting .363/.433/.788/1.220 in this stretch. He is one of the hottest hitters in the game right now. Have you bothered to notice this?

        Willingham is hitting .321/.413/.641/1.054 in this stretch.

        Guzman is hitting .360/.392/.560/.952 in this stretch.

        So that’s 5 out of their 8 guys in the lineup that are playing at an insanely high level since Riggleman took over. Do you really believe that all 5 of these guys are producing like this because of Jim Riggleman? Do you really believe that he is mostly responsible for their performance? I think that is a ridiculous idea. These guys are hot, and they are doing well, and they are the ones responsible for their own success, not Riggleman. That’s what I believe. But maybe you think Riggleman can single-handedly make these guys perform at this level for the rest of the year. If Riggleman was so awesome at getting hitters on massive hot streaks like this, then why has he won less than 45% of his career games as manager? Was he waiting until 2009 to show off this impressive ability of his? Hmm?

        These guys will cool off. They still have major issues throughout the entire pitching staff. The Nationals will lose plenty of games throughout the rest of the year. Rememebr you are staring at a very small sample of games. Right now they are on a great streak. The hitters are simply on fire at the moment. But keep in mind that the Nats were 6-11 under their first 17 games with Riggleman, and that was around August 1st, which was about one week ago. The team OPS was .759 in those 17 games. But then they won 8 games in a row. The team OPS is well over .900 during that streak. So what did you think of Riggleman when he only won 6 of his first 17 games? Honestly, did you think that he was a crappy manager, or did you think that the players were just terrible, like usual? Maybe you won’t admit it, but the logical conclusion is that they were still playing like crap because the talent level of the players is not very good. But then they had a great week, and all of a sudden you think Riggleman is a vastly superior manager to manny acta? Because of a perfect stretch of 8 games? So a week ago, Riggleman was just as terrible as Acta, but somehow in the last 8 days he has learned how to be an amazing manager? How can you possibly believe this? The explanation is easy – the players are hot, and the schedule was easy that week. They got to play the Pirates (who practically traded every single good player off the team) and the D-Backs and the Marlins. That is mostly easy competition. Obviously the Nats aren’t a good team either, but they will be more likely to win games against the Pirates and D-Backs as opposed to the Braves, Rockies, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Phillies, Ginats etc.

        So to recap:

        Fact #1: Jim Riggleman was 6-11 in his first 17 games this year. He has a career W-L record of 45%.
        Your probable verdict: This man is a terrible manager. Probably just as bad as Manny Acta.
        My verdict: I haven’t watched this guy manage a baseball game in a very long time. I don’t know if he is a good manager or not. I don’t care about W-L record, since the talent of the players is mostly responsible for that, and so it doesn’t indicate anything to me about what kind of a manager he is.

        Fact #2: Jim Riggleman is on an 8-game winning streak. His bats are on fire, and the schedule was easy.

        Your probable verdict: Riggleman is clearly a great manager. Way better than Manny Acta. Acta is probably the worst manager ever. Nyjer Morgan is only putting up an .890 OPS in the last 25 games because Riggleman is such a motivational force. Acta is a piece of crap who makes any player 80% worse. Although David Eckstein would probably be immune to the Acta effect since Eckstein is gritty and is full of heart.

        My verdict: I am not changing my opinion about any manager or player after just 8 games. That is dumb. I feel the exact same way about Riggleman as a manager as I did when he was only 6-11 with the Nats, because the players are mostly responsible for that winning streak, not Riggleman.

        And do you really believe that benching Mike Napoli half the time is really helping the Angels? If you don’t question the manager about that decision, then it would seem to imply that you don’t think it is hurting the team, which is nuts.

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  75. Slick says:

    Again, at the end of your latest essay, you completely disredard managerial affect on a team. Perhaps the reason why they are all on a hot streak at the same time is that they are buying into a different approach put in place by Riggelman. In turn, the players are relaxed and are playing better. Things like this are intangible and are the bane of of every number cruncher around.

    As far as Napoli goes, everyone knows offense is over-rated. He actually plays worse when he has to catch all the time. It was proven when Vlad was out and he was DH. He plays his best when he isn’t catching. So starting him over Vlad is the poor decision, not over Mathis.

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    • Wally says:

      Slick, there might be something to this “different approach,” what ever that may be, under Riggelman, but it can not sustain this effect. Guzman is not a hitter that can keep up a .952 OPS. Nor can Dunn a 1.137, or Zimmerman a 1.220, or Morgan a .918. These numbers will regress, some will regress A LOT. So when that happens, will Riggelman also be responsible for the regression? Will this new approach be to blame then as its getting the credit now? I doubt it, you’ll just come up with some other anecdote to be followed by another, and another, and so on.

      Managers and coaches certainly have some effect on the outcome of a game and on the skill of a player, but they do not turn Cristian Guzman into Alex Rodriguez or Ryan Zimmerman into Barry Bonds. So, if we can agree these performances aren’t sustainable while under Riggelman, how do we know Riggelman is really having this effect? If it was a real effect, and Riggelman could get more out of his players, we should expect all of these player performances to continue. But we don’t. For the most part these players are WAY over their heads. They will come back down to earth and the Nats will start losing again.

      Oh and the ~25 games is far to small of a sample size to draw any conclusion about Riggelman anyway.

      Also, the great thing about numbers is that the supposed “intangibles” are there. If you become a better player for what ever reason, the stats will show that. The numbers can’t always tell you why, but they can discern real changes in performance level from noise. And if you can line the performances up with changes (injuries, learning a new pitch, adding 30 pounds of muscle, changing your stance, a new coach), you can determine if it is likely those things caused a significant change in skill, given a large enough sample. However, what we are seeing now with the Nations will be proven to driven by noise, and not a real change in skill level (for those of us that actually need that to be proven, ie you).

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  76. Mo Wang says:

    Mike Napoli has 1179 career plate appearances. 1093 came as a catcher. 69 were at DH. You can’t draw any meaningful conclusions from 69 plate appearances. At the very least, it is certainly not enough to prove anything.

    “So starting him over Vlad is the poor decision, not over Mathis.”

    I don’t really understand this statement. Maybe you can explain it in a different way for me. The Angels do not start Napoli over Vlad for the DH spot. They only play Napoli at DH when Vlad is injured. When Vlad is healthy, Vlad is essentially going to be the DH, and Napoli can only get his plate appearances in at catcher (hence, he only has 69 career plate appearances as a DH). The choice for Scioscia has nothing to do with Vlad. It is a choice between playing Napoli or Mathis at catcher. Napoli is one of the best hitting catchers in all of baseball. Mathis is one of the worst hitting players in all of baseball. If offense at catcher was so overrated, explain why the Yankees don’t play Jose Molina everyday and just bench Jorge Posada? The numbers are pretty similar, and Posada is old and has a bum shoulder. Molina is one of the best defensive catchers in all of baseball. Molina can’t hit at all, but he’s been better than Mathis this year with the bat (which is a damning statement for Mathis). Posada is strictly an offensive catcher. The Yankees are not idiots – they know that the offensive value of Posada is way way way more beneficial than the lack of defense is. Once again, this is not a case where Napoli is putting up only slightly better offensive numbers that Mathis. In that case, I don’t mind going with the defensive catcher. But that is not the case here. Mathis is a terrible terrible hitter, and Napoli is the 2nd best hitting catcher in all of baseball. His ofensive value is tremendous. Mathis’s defense doesn’t come close to making up for it. Mike Scioscia is hurting his team by splitting their time evenly. If you think starting a catcher with an OPS that is bordering around the .600 mark for 3 straight years is a good idea, you are nuts. Offense and defense are both important. Ideally you can find players that are awesome at both. But this is often not the case, and in that case you have to go with the player who gives the better combination. Mathis’s offense is so bad that it cannot make up for his defensive edge on Napoli. Napoli’s offensive edge is too great.

    Or think about it like this. Jose Molina is a superior defensive catcher to Jeff Mathis. Molina is one of the best defensive catchers in all of baseball. Yet he is a career backup catcher, even when he played for Mike Scioscia earlier in his career. That’s because his career OPS is .618. That is godawful. You cannot play someone like that everyday. Jeff Mathis is not the best defensive catcher in all of baseball. His career OPS is .602. That is worse than Jose Molina. His defense and offense are both worse than Jose Molina. If Jose Molina’s defense wasn’t even enough to ever get regular playing time for himself during his career, because of the atrocious offense, then Jeff Mathis certainly doesn’t deserve regular playing time either. He should be limited to the typical playing time of any other backup catcher – one or two starts a week. Or do you think Jose Molina has been wronged his entire career and that teams never appreciated his defense enough to start him? I mean, come on. This is an obvious one. You are overrating defense in this case.

    “Perhaps the reason why they are all on a hot streak at the same time is that they are buying into a different approach put in place by Riggelman”

    So why did they start out 6-11 then with him? Why wasn’t his approach not working then? And does this mean that now you expect them to hit like this the rest of the way since they are now fully acclimated to Riggleman’s system?? Do you realize how crazy you sound? Also, the Dodgers are 6-11 over their last 17 games. Does this mean that the team suddenly forgot how to work successfully with Joe Torre’s system? I guess that’s what you think, using your logic for giving most of the praise to Riggleman for his team’s success of late. Has Joe Torre really been a terrible manager over the last 17 games? Of course not. The players are playing like crap, and that’s not Joe Torre’s fault. It’s that simple. Just like the Nationals are playing well, and it isn’t because Riggleman is some amazing manager. What was your opinion of Riggleman when he started out 6-11? Are you really the type of person who would change their opinion of a manager after just 8 games? That’s just careless and dumb. But then again you think Mathis deserves to be a starting catcher, which is even dumber.

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    • Slick says:

      Odd how you start quoting sample size when earlier in this string I brought up sample size with regards to the Steals success rates of Kemp vs Pierre and Joe R said sample size is meaningless even though Pierre has almost 10 times the attempts as Kemp.

      Your opinions are just are ‘crazy’ as mine because they are just opinons. You seem to think you have sort of godly insight of what goes on inside managers and players heads but I certainly I am not calling you a kook, until now that is. You are just arguing for the sake of trying to prove me wrong because I side with managerial decisions over statistical probability. Enough already, I see your point, Napoli is a better hitter. His manager obviously doesn’t care. The Angels are first in their division and barring a complete collapse will finish in first. Good job Scioscia for holding back your team! Your decisions MAY HAVE cost them a handful of wins and you are a retard because you start the wrong catcher. You should be fired for winning your division. Shame on you for succeeding. Shame on you for having the support of upper management and ownership. The team doesn’t need you. Why does any team need a manager anyways? Why don’t the players just set the lineup. After all, they do all the work on the field, why should anyone else get any credit? In fact, it appears Mo is available to ‘manage’ the team, offer him the job and his trusty laptop with his Fangraphs homepage he’ll use to set the lineup.

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    • Slick says:

      To answer your question of why they started out 6-11 is easily done, it takes time to create and nurture a culture of winning. Rome wasn’t built in a day my friend.

      The Dodgers are 6-11 right now because Torre isn’t motivating them very well right now.

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      • Mo Wang says:

        I never pretended to have insight into what goes on inside a manager and players head. I never said stuff like “Mike Napoli must be depressed now because he doesn’t play enough.” That would be an example of pretending to have insight into a player or manager’s head. All I said was that splitting Napoli’s playing time with a super-crappy hitter is costing a team wins, and that batting Kemp in the lower third of the order is costing a team some runs, although to a much lesser degree than the Napoli situation. So I’m not sure what you’ve been reading.

        And of course winning the division is an obvious goal. But by splitting Napoli’s playing time, Scioscia could be costing his team home field advantage in the playoffs. Every win is still important. Scioscia is costing his team wins by splitting Napoli’s playing time. And is he going to continue to do this if his team makes the postseason? There are plenty of days off in October once the playoffs start. There’s no need to play a backup catcher. So is he really going to keep playing Mathis and Napoli evenly during that time? It is nuts to do this, especially if he keeps doing it in the most meaningful games of the year. Hey, maybe Scioscia has good reasons for doing this. Once again, I don’t know because I can’t get inside his head, even though you think that I think I can. Nobody in the media questions this guy, for some bizarre reason. I just want someone to ask him “Hey Mike, why are you playing Mathis so much considering how well Napoli is playing this year?” Maybe he has a good reason. Maybe Napoli has told Scioscia that he cannot handle playing every single day. But nobody has given any reason for this, not the manager or the GM or the players. So until that happens, I’m going to continue to firmly state that Mike Scioscia is making a completely insane decision by splitting Napoli’s playing time with Mathis. At this point, it is the obvious conclusion to make.

        “The Dodgers are 6-11 right now because Torre isn’t motivating them very well right now.”

        If this is truly how you feel, then why do you even bother coming to this web site? If you really believe that Torre’s lack of motivation has caused his team to go on a rough stretch of 6-11…then why do you even bother reading this web site? Because you won’t find many people at all who agree with you here. Joe Torre is not the reason his team is 6-11 in a recent stretch of games. Duh. Although maybe your just purposely saying nonsensical things to get a reaction. I don’t know. Either way it is very odd.

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  77. Joe R says:

    This is the thread that doesn’t end
    Yes it goes on and on my friends

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    • Slick says:

      Mo, I am not here to win a popularity contest and to just agree with the droning masses who take what this site says as gospel. I strictly use some of the info here to make some decisions for my fantasy team to try and win my various pools. There is some merit to it. That’s it. It’s rediculous that just because I don’t agree with everyone, that I am chastised as some side show. Everything you say uses words like COULD and MIGHT and is loosely backed up by some vague stats and even vaguer probabilities. Unfortunately, you and I both have NO IDEA if the Angels would win more games if Napoli started more games. Don’t bother throwing some meaningles numbers at it trying to prove me wrong….we just don’t know. That’s the bottom line…well unless you have some clairvoyance and can see into the future. Will this decision cost them home field advantage? It could just as easily as it couldn’t.

      Why do you even care what the Angels manager is doing when you are clearly a Dodgers fan? What is also clear as day is your level of fanatacism about the game of baseball abd obsession with numbers. It’s borderline anti-social behaviour.

      Why would any sports writer call out a manager who is clearly guiding his team to victory night in night out? Why would anyone do that? They don’t care because they are satisfied with winning, that’s why. All he would have to say is SCOREBOARD. We won didn’t we? That’s all he needs for justification.

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  78. Mo Wang says:

    “Why would any sports writer call out a manager who is clearly guiding his team to victory night in night out?”

    Why shouldn’t someone be questioned if they are doing things that could hurt the team’s future performance? If the Yankees suddenly decided to split Alex Rodriguez’s playing time with Cody Ransom, Girardi would sure as hell be questioned about it, even though the Yankees have an even better record than the Angels. This decision to split Napoli’s playing time with one of the worst hitters in baseball is almost as ridiculous as that far-fetched scenario. So yes, he should most certainly be questioned on it. On the surface it seems to be a really really dumb thing to do. He should at least explain why he feels it is the right choice.

    “All he would have to say is SCOREBOARD. We won didn’t we? That’s all he needs for justification.”

    It has already been explained to you a few times throughout this thread why this logic is faulty. I guess it didn’t sink in with you.

    “Why do you even care what the Angels manager is doing when you are clearly a Dodgers fan?”

    I guess you have never lived in NY or LA during a heated pennant race. You can’t just ignore the other team’s news and ongoings. I’m sure lots of Yankee fans know quite a bit about the misfortunes of the Mets this year. And Dodger fans mostly have a good idea of how the Angels are doing.

    “What is also clear as day is your level of fanatacism about the game of baseball abd obsession with numbers. It’s borderline anti-social behaviour.”

    This is funny, because I have certainly not gone over the top in using numbers here. In fact, I have kept things very simple by mostly attacking a decision as “dumb” or “insane” with my only numerical backup in the form of OPS and % of Plate Appearances From a Position. I have not even attempted to quantify exactly how many wins or runs these decisions are costing their teams. That would obviously have been my next step if I was truly obsessed, like you accuse me of being. I just said “maybe 3 or 4 wins”, which is clearly a guess with no quantitative analysis behind it. If you think that is displaying an obsession with numbers and statistical analysis, you have a very distorted view on advanced baseball analysis. And if you think that stating that Kemp should bat higher than 8th or that Napoli should play more is a symptom of anti-social behavior, you clearly need to have your head checked. I am not going around performing linear regressions and running T-tests and looking at distributions of player performance or any stuff like that. I have tried to minimize the use of numbers if anything, outside of stuff like OPS, which I think is pretty basic and easy to understand. But maybe you don’t agree that OPS is a pretty basic stat. Maybe you think it is a sign of someone who has a personality disorder. That is a crazy thing to accuse someone of, considering our debates up to this point.

    But here is the more important issue: why don’t you just stick to baseball talk rather than try to accuse people of having personality disorders because they disagree with you? I don’t think you have an anti-social personality disorder because you play fantasy baseball. That thought never even crossed my mind. I mean, come on dude, you are reaching. I think everyone would appreciate it if you kept the talk to baseball and stopped losing focus with completely unsubstantiated accusations.

    And of course nobody can say for sure how exactly the games would turn out if Napoli played every day. But the statistics on this web site suggest that there is a very very high probability that the team would do much better if he did play over Mathis, and that is why I am this annoyed with that decision. This isn’t a 50-50 scenario here. There is a very high chance that the Angels would perform better on the field if a player with a .900 OPS didn’t lose maybe 200 plate appearances a year to a guy with a .600 OPS. You might call these probabilities “vague” and “meaningless”, however, I doubt you would come to this web site for help with your fantasy team if you really believed that. Aren’t you using the stats on this web site to form your own best guesses (or probabilities) about how players will perform in the future, even though technically you don’t know if they will play well or not? That’s the same thing I am doing here when I rant about Napoli and Kemp. But when I do that, you seem to conclude that I have a personailty disorder. Pretty odd. I don’t get it.

    “I am not here to win a popularity contest and to just agree with the droning masses who take what this site says as gospel.”

    Let me elaborate on what I mean when I asked you why you even bother to visit this site. I used a poor choice of words and made it sound like I was attacking you for not being a mindless sheep and just agreeing with everybody. I apologize, since that was not what I wanted it to sound like. My understanding is that the people who come to this site have an interest in a number-based analysis of baseball to some degree or another. When you make statements like “I never question a manager with a winning record” or “The Dodgers are 6-11 because Joe Torre can’t motivate his players” it indicates to me no interest at all in analysis beyond the surface. You appear to be happy with a surface-level conclusion of assigning all praise/criticism to a figurehead and only looking at team record to explain decisions as being good or bad. Obviously, the goal of this web site is to go much much deeper than that when analyzing the ongoings of the baseball world. Your statements made it seem like you have no interest in this kind of deeper analysis. And that is why I was surprised that you would come here.

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    • Slick says:

      Here is an example of how I have used this site for fantasy purposes. About 6-8 weeks ago I decided to trade some hitting for pitching as I had a massive offensive lead in power categories. For those you who have forgotten layman stats, those categories were Runs, HRs, and RBIs. You know, the meaningless stats. I did some in depth research and noticed Cole Hamels BABIP is inflated over his career average. His ZiPS projected it to drop by about 20-30 points which should greatly improve his meaningless stats. So I traded Dunn, Y Escobar and Maholm for Hamels and C B Young. Has Hamels ‘luck’ improved since I traded for him? Not at all. Young was also slated to improve on his crappy BABIP but instead he keeps swinging at pitches outside the strike zone and got demoted. Good thing for me I traded Ad Gonzalez for Lincecum a few weeks earlier which softens the blow of acquiring a few bums using advanced statistical analysis. I won’t give up after one lousy trade but I won’t buy into this stuff 100% like most of the lemmings do here.

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  79. Slick says:

    Faulty logic?? Last time I looked, the final score over rides every ‘beneath the surface’ stat known to man. This isn’t faulty logic, its reality. The box score from last night’s Giants-Dodgers game showed a score of 4-2 Giants….not War +4.4 Giants – War -3.3 Dodgers. I suppose a better ‘score’ for a game in your mind is to just add up all their WAR values and which ever team has the better score wins! Don’t even play the game. Just simulate the season based on probability.

    Starting Mathis isn’t hurting the team’s performance, it’s only hurting Napoli’s accrued stats….get over it. Did you stop to think that perhaps his defence is one of the reasons they are preventing runs. Oh that’s right, scoreboard results are faulty logic.

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    • Joe R says:

      All he said was giving a bad hitters PA’s over a good hitter is generally determental to a team’s offense. I don’t see how that’s a point of contention.

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      • Wally says:

        Slick is obviously just arguing for argument sake at this point, and Mo Wang is entertaining him. Slick can not follow any particular line of reasoning from post to post. He just makes up what ever he feels will score some points (from who or for what only he knows), in an attempt to dispute a larger point by Mo Wang.

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      • Joe R says:

        True.

        I will say this on Slick’s behalf though if he is arguing legitimately and not just trolling:

        Mathis is a very good defensive C. Napoli, not so much. Also, the Angels record doesn’t seem to dip significantly no matter who’s in. There’s definitely a reason to give Mathis playing time, especially with the lead the Angels currently enjoy in the AL West. Maybe Mathis is getting a bit too much, however.

        Could also highlight the underlying problem that’s plagued Scioscia and the Angels FO in the post-2002 years, the tendency to overlook the value of a walk. We saw Willits in 2007 post a very good .391 OBP, but it was accompanied with a less than spectacular BA and SLG for a corner OF. When Hunter was brought on, it was Willits who took the big playing time hit, not the overpaid Matthews or the on his way out Anderson. Willits, of course, thanks to not even receiving 200 total PA’s in 2008 (minors included), is probably permaeffed.

        Anyway, the results actually agree with Slick, the Angels have pretty much been the same team recordwise with Napoli or Mathis at catcher. Maybe even in the long run, the Angels are better off by not using up the very talented Napoli early in his career since given his FRAA at catcher and hitting, screams future 1st baseman. Of course, that wasn’t the general argument made, it was more “Don’t question Scioscia because his team wins”. Maybe Scioscia is on to something by limiting Napoli’s time at catcher, but saying there’s no reason to question giving Napoli and Mathis a near equal split at catching despite one beating a world beating hitter for his position and the other being a Girardi clone? That’s DEFINITELY something worth questioning. Even if Scioscia is right.

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      • Wally says:

        I agree with your points there. There are merits to getting in your better defensive catcher (when you’re ahead late a run prevented is more valuable than a run scored for example), and letting your primary catcher get some rest. So I don’t think anyone is advocating leaving Mathis entirely out. However, in stead of arguing that Scioscia’s usage pattern of Mathis and Napoli is optimal (ie. giving reasons why this often used back up catcher was a better option than Napoli in the games he played?), Slick simply defers to the record, or something even lazier like, “we don’t know if the angel’s will win more games with Napoli in more often, its just a probability.” (Warning not exact quote) So, because of this Mo Wang is largely left repeating himself, while Slick takes one or two small points out of the big picture to makes ad hominem attacks, or strawmen out of them (see his last two posts).

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  80. bunderoo says:

    looks like kemps been batting 7seventh again

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    • Wally says:

      Right, Kemp bats 4th-6th for about 4 games, goes back to hitting 7th for 4 games, then he bats 4th on Saturday and 1st on Sunday? Is Torre moving his 2nd or 3rd best hitter from the most important batting spots 1st-4th to the least 7th-9th based on the handedness of the opposing pitcher? Even against righties Kemp is still their 2nd or 3rd best hitter.

      Does Joe Torre have any method to his madness, or is he just making this up as he goes along?

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  81. Wally says:

    I now think Torre just checks this blog post daily to fuck with us. In the last 14 games Kemp has batted 6-4-5-7-7-7-4-1-6-2-2-2-5-5.

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  82. Mo Wang says:

    Well at least there isn’t an “8″ or “9″ in that list!

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  83. Duke The Dumpster Droese says:

    Matty’s gotten some cleanup time lately!

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    • NYMdaWRIGHTchoice says:

      too bad that’s killin’ the team….oh well….not my problem…Torre’s always been an overrated manager with his silly moves….
      8th was exactly where Kemp belonged.

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      • Wally says:

        Since August 25, roughly when Torre started batting Kemp 2nd or 4th, Kemp has a .851 OPS. That’s pretty much the same as his season total of .869. Kemp is doing just fine.

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      • Joe R says:

        But it’s obviously killing the team, they just have the best record in the NL. Torre should stop team killing and give his average-hitting vets more whacks at the dish and stop allowing 25 year olds run things.

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      • NYMdaWRIGHTchoice says:

        nothing really else to say except:

        I TOLD YOU SO.

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      • Joe R says:

        Yeah, because a random 106 sample size in September is indicitative that a player hits better when batting in a certain spot of the lineup, and has absolutely nothing to do with an accompanying .253 BABIP for the month.

        Then again, maybe it does take a certain level of lunacy to be a Mets fan.

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  84. Isaac Yankem says:

    Over 400 of Kemp’s times to the plate in the reg. season came in the six thru nine part of the batting line up. But now he is a silver slugger, so maybe Mgr. Joe Torre will learn from this mistake next year.

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