Why Not Understanding Marginal Utility Is a Circular Problem

Let’s say you are building a dam, and you want to make sure this is the best dam that’s ever been built. You gather your logs, get some help from friendly beavers, and in two weeks have put together a pretty fine dam if you can say so yourself.

Then, when the river starts to actually run strong, you begin to see that some pieces of wood aren’t that great. But you know those holes are there; they’re always going to be there. Not every piece of wood can be equal. The foundation, the best pieces of wood, the core of your dam, is what makes it a great dam. The other logs are just inevitable imperfections that, even if they are mended, won’t ever make that big of a difference.

So, needing to strengthen your dam somehow, you push the strong logs of your dam. And you push them and push them until you can’t take it anymore; but you’re dam still isn’t as good as you want it to be. You give it a serious look-over. No, it’s not the minor logs that are serving their purpose. It’s not your building skills. It’s the damn supposed “best logs” not living up to their expectations. So you rip them out and try to get even stronger pieces of wood. Before you know it, you’re out of the logging business and trying to get a senior scouting job with some National League club.

By now, you get my drift. Unfortunately, not everyone does, and the problem isn’t as minor as it seems. When executives of any trade, but for our purposes baseball, refuse to improve on the margins, they are not only hurting their overall utility but creating future problems.

The best example I can give here is the Mets, although I’m sure you can think of examples with your own favorite team. The Mets started this season with the following lineup:

C Rod Barajas
1B Mike Jacobs
2B Luis Castillo
3B David Wright
SS Jose Reyes
LF Jason Bay
CF Gary Matthews Jr.
RF Jeff Francoeur

Do you see the weak logs? It shouldn’t be that hard. Mike Jacobs is now a Triple-A player for the Jays after proving he can’t hit major league pitching during his brief stay with the Mets. Gary Matthews Jr. had a .234 wOBA for the Mets, striking out in 41% of this plate appearances. Rod Barajas is currently on the DL, but has been below average with a .292 wOBA and 0.5 WAR on the season. Jeff Francoeur honestly doesn’t deserve to play baseball at any level professionally, despite how affable he may be. His .284 wOBA is made even worse by his tendency (or just self-afflicted rule) to swing at everything often and early. I won’t even mention Alex Cora.

Many of those players have been replaced. Josh Thole has been very good during his limited time at catcher, Angel Pagan has been one of the best players in baseball this season, and Ike Davis is having a nice rookie year at first base. Still, this unsurprisingly hasn’t been enough for the medicore Mets. When you see that it took months for R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi to replace Oliver Perez and John Maine in the rotation, nobody should be surprised at the record of the Mets.

When James Kannengeiser of Amazin Avenue gave some wise ways the Mets could improve their ballclub, it was met with this reply from Matt Cerrone at the ever popular MetsBlog:

Sure, releasing Oliver Perez, Jeff Francoeur and Alex Cora might help, and it would sure get the attention of fans, but, at the end of the day, Mike Pelfrey, Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Reyes, Jason Bay and others are still on the roster and still need to get their collective act together.

Matt saw that the weak logs were hurting the dam, and simply decided that the bigger logs had to get their “act together.” I guess it didn’t matter that Mike Pelfrey has a better ERA/FIP/xFIP/tERA than last year, or that K-Rod has been flat-out great, or that Jose Reyes has been incredible after a slow start thanks to coming back from an injury (and is still on pace for a 3-WAR year per 150 games), or that Carlos Beltran got back from serious knee surgery after the All-Star break. The strong logs were not strong enough.

I wish I could say that this is a problem that is just relayed via talk radio and blogs, but it’s not. General Managers consistently choose to ignore minor holes on their roster, and this comes from a lack of understanding the true value of stats like Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Solid roster management is one of the most valuable traits that any sports executive can have. Unfortunately, those strong logs can only take so much pressure until they break.




Print This Post



Pat Andriola is an Analyst at Bloomberg Sports who formerly worked in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. You can contact him at Patrick.Andriola@tufts.edu or follow him on Twitter @tuftspat

59 Responses to “Why Not Understanding Marginal Utility Is a Circular Problem”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Onions says:

    This is one of the things Frank Wren accomplished when building the 2010 Braves. David Ross, Brooks Conrad, Omar Infante, and Eric Hinske aren’t sexy names, but they’re great role players who’ve done a fine job supporting some “big logs” like Chipper, Escobar, Glaus, and McLouth, who aren’t/didn’t play up to expectations.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. vivalapiazza says:

    Although I agree with the main point you’re trying to make, I don’t necessarily agree with your examples. Dickey has been worth -0.5 WAR over the last 5 years and has not posted any positive WAR year since 2004. There’s no reason he should have been in the rotation at any point in April. Yeah, he’s been a god-send for the Mets, but that cannot have been predicted. His history is in line with the guys you mention as weak logs (Jacobs, GMJ, etc). If they called him up to replace Perez in April, and he pitched like someone could have reasonably expected (i.e. shitty), he’d be another case of a weak log for your article. By citing him as an example, you’re relying on hindsight being 20/20.

    As for Barajas, I didn’t see very many articles in Spring Training, April or May saying that he should not have been in the line-up.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • descender says:

      I think the point he was trying to make was that the weak logs decide your fate, not the strong ones.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Joamiq says:

      The articles are written by the same people who blame the big logs. The contributors and readers over at Amazin Avenue all agreed that Henry Blanco was better than Barajas.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Preston says:

    On Jeff Francoeur – he’s got .1 WAR this season; that’s certainly not helping the Mets, but it’s sort of pointless to release him unless you have a player that you believe is above replacement level to take his place – by the very definition of replacement level, that’s certainly not a given. Also, he’s by no means a useless player – he has a .348 wOBA this year and .347 wOBA for his career against lefties, which with his slightly above average defense makes him a perfectly legitimate platoon player. Is he overpaid and overused? Certainly, but let’s not let those facts obscure what he is.

    You absolutely have a point that the weak logs are hurting the dam, but at the same time it’s also true that some of the stars have been underperforming. Bay is on pace to finish around 2 WAR – that’s an average player. Reyes may have some excuse due to his injury, but a 3 WAR/150 is a good player, not the great one that Reyes has been (from 2006-2008 his WAR each year was between 5.5 and 6). The Mets are 6.5 back in the East and out of the Wild Card race, due to factors including some poor roster decisions and some unfortunate injuries. If thy are to have a shot at contending this year, they need to optimize their roster as Kannengeiser suggests, but they’re also going to need their stars to play like stars from here on out.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jason B says:

      I like this article a LOT. The Mets had so many weak logs, in the rotation and everyday starters, that it was expecting a lot of them to stay in contention all year. The question is how their payroll got so bloated, with so little professional-grade talent to show for it. And speaking of professional…

      “Jeff Francoeur honestly doesn’t deserve to play baseball at any level professionally.”

      I know he makes for our SABR-poster-child-whipping-boy, but Frenchie is a perfectly acceptable AAA player (his 3-game sulkfest in AAA last year notwithstanding). That is professional baseball, strictly speaking.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. JMeyers says:

    K-Rod flat-out great? Really? Check your stats before you write adjectives to describe stats. http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=rel&lg=all&qual=y&type=3&season=2010&month=0

    Pagan one of the best players in baseball this season? Whoa…..not so much. Are you referring to the same stats my grandpa does? http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=of&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=300&type=3&season=2010&month=0

    Other than those two players descriptions, I think the article is really good. Thank you for the entertaining read.

    -10 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Pat Andriola says:

      Thanks for the comment. I’m actually referring to advanced stats, so unless your grandfather is a fan of Fangraphs, no. Angel Pagan has the 13th highest WAR in all of baseball for position players. Yes, that qualifies as “one of the best this season.” He’s higher than Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, David Wright, and Kevin Youkilis.

      K-Rod has a 2.68 FIP, 3.38 xFIP, a 2.35 ERA, and the third best K/BB of this career. That counts as “great” in my book.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • marcello says:

      WPA? Why are you using that to define good and bad?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. aweb says:

    There’s no reason that the “strong logs” should break in the situation of a baseball team. Lots of star players have carried on being star players even without any strong support on the team, both hitters and pitchers. Reyes and Beltran didn’t get injured because the catcher didn’t produce. Jason Bay hasn’t stunk (compared to hopes) because Oliver Perez was really bad. The Mets could have been substantially better either by having star-level performances from guys who ended up injured, or by having a stronger team at every position…but neither happened.

    It’s true that if you are trying to build a great team, you should be able to find both stars and solid regulars, and the Mets are certainly in a position to spend enough to have a great team. They shouldn’t be where they are, which is more of a “if things go well and players don’t get injured, we’ll contend”, than a “if things don’t go well, we might not make it to the playoffs”.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Wally says:

      I agree and I think it could have been worded a little differently, but I also think the idea is that having a few really awesome players and bunch of below average players is a very risky position to be in. Should just one or two of those player go down, you just don’t have any room to make up for it.

      To get a little picture of my point: Say you have 14 guys that produce 3 WAR each, and could replace them with a 1 WAR player if lost. Your team then has a max potential of 42 WAR, and if one player is hurt you drop to 40, two 38 and so on. If you have 5 guys that produce 5.5 WAR and 9 guys that produce 1.5 WAR, you have basically the same team if no injuries, with a max of 41 WAR. However if you have one of the wrong players go down to injury, you’ve basically just lost 4.5 WAR from your team and you should expect this to happen on ~1/3 of your injuries. Two of those players get hurt, and you’re down to 32 WAR and went from being a contender to fighting for a .500 record.

      So you need to try and get as good of players as you can, and there is nothing wrong with targeting the Beltrans or Reyes, but you need to construct a balanced roster should one or two of those guys not perform as you expect. Which is an eventual certainty.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • vivalapiazza says:

        On the flip side, if a team has 5 studs and 9 below average players, it’s MUCH easier to improve that team. If a team is filled with 3 WAR players, it’s much harder to improve because you’d need to find players worth more than 3 WAR. Finding someone that can outproduce 1.5 WAR, however, is palatable for a decent GM.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Thomas says:

    K-Rod 11k’s per 9, a FIP under 3, and 1.3 WAR as a reliever. Thats flat out great.

    Pagan 4.3 WAR. Really no need to explain. Thats better than A-Rod, Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JK says:

      Doesn’t that imply that maybe, just maybe, there is something slightly wrong with WAR?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Pat Andriola says:

        There may possibly be, but that doesn’t imply it. Angel Pagan has a .376 wOBA, is great on the basepaths, is fantastic defensively, and plays a premium position, along with being healthy for the entire year. That’s a great player.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jason B says:

        I’m not sure if he was saying Pagan’s 4.3 WAR implies there is something wrong with the metric, or K-Rod’s 1.3.

        To which I would reply – no, K-Rod can be great and still have a “low” WAR figure (lower than a lot of pedestrian everyday players) just because his usage has been limited to save situations (the occasional 20-inning marathon notwithstanding), whereas everyday players have a chance to “accumulate” WAR and fractions thereof…every day.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • descender says:

        If those players were having good seasons that weren’t shown in the WAR number, then yes it would.

        … but they are not.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Knoles says:

        Pujols is having a bad season? No kidding, since when is a wOBA at ~.400 a bad season? I get that first base is not as important defensive position as whatever other position Pagan plays most of the time but if WAR tells me that Pagan is more valuable than Pujols it seems subjectively hard to swallow.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B N says:

        “if WAR tells me that Pagan is more valuable than Pujols it seems subjectively hard to swallow.”

        I don’t find it hard to swallow at all. The simple solution is this:
        1. What would the dropoff be if you traded Pujols for any one of the next 10 best first basemen? (over this season)
        2. What would the dropoff be if you traded Pagan for one of the next 10 best CF?

        At the 10th best 1B, you’ll be hitting Butler and Texeira. By the time you get to 10th best CF, you’re going to be scraping some guys who are a much bigger step down. Austin Jackson, Rasmus, and Span are all around there. These are all good players, but I can entirely believe that Pagan and Pujols have had similar values this season.

        Which is not to say Pagan is better than Pujols. Pujols has been doing this for a LOT longer. Pagan is probably not going to be as good next year, while Pujols could end up being better (this has been a so-so season by his ridiculously great standards). Additionally, one could state that the offensive dominance of Pujols benefits you extra in the postseason or against tough pitchers- helping you win more games against tougher opponents. But with that said, a well-hitting, good def CF is worth an awful lot. It’s a scarce commodity.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Knoles says:

        @B N — Would you trade Pagan straight up for Pujols? If you believe these WAR values are the true talent level then they imply that the team getting Pagan is getting the better deal. Esp given age, contract, etc.

        You also are implying that the scarcity of CFs that can hit makes Pagan more valuable than Pujols, but then still say that Pujols is a better player, which i infer to mean that you don’t really believe the positional adjustments are correct. So bascially, you disagree with me, but then you go on to state the Pujols is better…which again is whay it is hard for me to think that Pagan is better then Pujols…

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Kevin S. says:

        WAR != true talent level, and I don’t think BN ever implied that.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Fullgatsu says:

        @Knoles

        I think you are putting words into his mouth. If Pagan continues to outproduce Pujols in WAR all following seasons I would think it’s clear on whom is the better choice. Pujols is a more probable choice to repeat his performance based on earlier performance but so far Pagan have had better result this season then Pujols, if he can continue this remain to be seen.

        I think you should learn the difference between “One could state” and “Go on to state” they are not the same.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Wally says:

        Sometimes, a player just has a fluky season. That doesn’t mean the statistic is wrong. It just means that one guy was really good for one year.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • BC says:

      WAR is not a measure of true talent, but a measure of performance up to date. The meaning of Pagan having a higher WAR is that he has performed better up to date. This does not imply that he will perform better in the future.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. MetsFan says:

    Pagan is 6th in WAR for position players — it’s fair to say he’s among the best.

    The problem with Francoeur is that his 0 WAR is really useless. He doesn’t provide any flexibility as a backup outfielder or pinch hitter. He’s kinda useless at hitting and fielding. I’d rather a 0 WAR guy who can’t field or run, but is a valuable hitter or a slick fielder who hits so bad he’s 0 WAR. The Mets have some guys hitting in AAA. Why not bring them up and see if they can contribute at some level?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. bflaff says:

    The Mets dam collapses at first contact with water, if that’s the metaphor we’re sticking with here.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. James says:

    Of course, the inverse of this is Amdahl’s law. You can only improve the team so much by improving the guys with limited roles(Alex Cora). Swapping starters is big though. Really, I think this is an instance of poor player evaluation rather than not understanding marginal utility. Also, replacements have to be available. Your stuck with .1 war if your next best guy is -.1 WAR unfortunately. The Red Sox played Kevin Cash with something like their top 4 organizational catchers on the DL. Cash is historically awful, but he was available because of it. I don’t think it really applies to the mets, but scarcity seems to be misunderstood in baseball. Sometimes, teams don’t make a move because none is available.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Pat Andriola says:

      Thanks for the comment, James. And I was just using hyperbole for Francoeur. He’d be a fine outfielder for the St. Paul Saints :)

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jason B says:

      But there were *plenty* of guys in starting/featured roles that were either unexceptional logs (Barajas, Castillo) or worse (Jacobs, Matthews, Francoeur, 3/5 of the rotation) coming into the season.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Sam says:

    YOU DISRESPECT THE LEGEND. YOU SPELL THE LEGEND’S NAME WRONG? WHY?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Angel Pagan's agent says:

    “Pagan 4.3 WAR. Really no need to explain. Thats better than A-Rod, Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez.”

    Only on Fangraphs. Thanks for the laugh.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • descender says:

      It doesn’t say that he’s a better player than them. he is having a better season. Is that hard to understand?

      Jose Bautista leads the league in home-runs, but he is not the best power hitter in the league by a long shot.

      See the difference?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Tony L says:

        Yes it is hard to understand how someone like Pagan can be compared in favorable light to a guy like the great Pujols.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Tom B says:

        Tony L – it’s not that outlandish. It merely states that Pagan’s production has been more useful to his team than Pujols’ production.

        Saying one is better or as good as the other doesn’t come into the conversation.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Wally says:

        Don’t worry Tony, I’m sure Pujols will have the better WAR by season’s end.

        Pujols’ fielding has been rated as roughly average, and second worst of his career. That will probably go up. Similarly a .400ish wOBA is just not Pujolsian. He’ll improve that most likely as well. Pagan however, is not likely to be a true talent .375 wOBA hitter, nor a +10 CFer. Maybe close to that, but not all the way. So he’s likely to regress a little as well. Then we’re only talking about a .2 WAR difference between the two. That’s well within the margin of error for fielding alone. So it all work out. You just gotta wait for N to get a little bigger.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Franco says:

    I like the article. The only thing I’m not sure of is whether the Mets FO purposely tries to get by with some great players surrounded by shit and thinking it’s enough. Or if they really have a problem identifying the difference between replacement level scrubs and average ball players.

    I’m more inclined to think the latter when you look at the contracts that Omar hands out. It’s a big market team so you expect some overpay for star players. But when you look at Oliver Perez, Castillo, Francoer and even Cora, they are all getting paid as average ball players. I mean… they paid Gary Matthews 2M to start/platoon in CF when they had a good internal option.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • descender says:

      I equate what the Mets have done for the last 4 years to throwing bricks in a pile and waiting for the house to build itself.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Kevin S. says:

      The sad thing about the Mets is that they’ve managed to suck while underpaying their star players and running that kind of payroll. It’s kind of impressive, actually.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • vivalapiazza says:

        2009 was an injury-plagued season that no team, even the Yankees, could have survived. In the other 4 seasons from 2006-2010, don’t the Mets have the most wins in the National League? They’ve only made the playoffs once, but they haven’t exactly sucked.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Wally says:

        Yes its impressive and sad at the same time.

        Its too bad we don’t have a large minor league system of GMs or even owners with replacement level and that. Cuz I’m sure the mets would be way below replacement. I just see no reason why the average fangraphs reader couldn’t have walked into say, the Mets of 2007, and built a power house.

        I’d guess maybe baseball’s next big hurdle is not to evanuate talent on the field, but off it.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Tony L says:

        @viviapiazza — Look at this years Red Sox and Phils — both have had injuries on par with Mets, yet they aren’t 20 games under .500. Relying on the crutch of injuries is a weak argument, that team was poorly constructed from the start with no depth on the bench or in the high minors.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • vivalapiazza says:

        If the Phils lost Rollins, Werth and Howard for almost the entire season, Halladay for the end of the season and Utley was out with a concussion for several weeks, then that would be in line with the Mets’ 2009 situation. They haven’t had close to that sort of injury-plagued season. Last year, the Mets lost Beltran, Reyes and Delgado for almost the entire season….no team could survive that!

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • oh dear says:

        vivalapiazza – the yankees won 89 games in 2009 dealing with a very similar load of injuries. 4/5 starters and matsui at the least, and i’m sure there are other position guys that i am forgetting.

        doing what the mets did in 2009 is a result of one thing, no heart.

        oh, and jerry manuel is the worst manager in the history of baseball.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • vivalapiazza says:

        oh dear, 4 of the 5 best players on the Mets (Reyes, Beltran, Delgado, Santana) all missed a significant portion of the season last year, and their best player (Wright) missed a few weeks due to a concussion and wasn’t the same upon returning.

        I’m assuming you’re speaking of the 2008 Yankees and not the 2009 Yankees. They lost Matsui and Posada for a good chunk of the season. What were they, their #7 and #8 hitters? The rest of their lineup was fine. As for their pitchers, Wang missed a good amount of the season. I don’t see any other significant injuries, unless that’s the year Hughes got hurt?

        It’s one thing to have some starters miss a lot of the season. It’s another thing to have your 5 best players all miss time.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Max says:

        @vivalapiazza — Wasn;t Pagan on the Mets last year? I thought he was their best player? (or at least one of the best players this year).

        Mets fans use this crutch of injuries a bit much. If you count on a 37 year old 1b as one of your 4-5 best players then be prepared to deal with an injury. If you count on a CF with no cartlidge in his knees then prepare for him to mis 80 games a year. Do you see this logic here? There was no preperation for any injuries there was no back up plan except a no hit 1b, Sheffield in LF, Church for Francouer in RF…There was no reaction to the team falling apart. And this year, with these guys healthy, except the CF with no cartlidge, they are at best a .500 team but will probably finish 10 or so under. The Red Sox have a ton of injuries this year, go look them up, and they are still 10+ games over .500, lets see how they finish. I hate agreeinng with ‘oh dear’ beceuse he/she is probably a Yankee fan, but 2009 (and 07 and 08) had no heart and where chokers.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • vivalapiazza says:

      Max, Beltran & Delgado averaged 160 games in 2008. It’s easy to dismiss that with “oh, he’s 37 years old!” and “he has no cartilage!”, but what could they have reasonably done? Beltran was the best CF in baseball coming off of a season where he played 161 games. Delgado played 159 games in 2008 and hit the cover off of the ball in the 2nd half of the year. You really expect a team to spend cash on legit back-ups at those positions?

      The biggest hit may have been Reyes (and they were actually in first place when he got hurt last year). When you have an elite SS in his mid-20′s, you don’t spend millions on a fallback option.

      If they lost 1 or 2 of their stars or they lost some role players then that’d be different. But to lose that many stars, 3 of which got injured early in the season….that’s tough to deal with.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Jim Lahey says:

    I don’t get it. Are you saying the strong logs are to blame or the weak logs?

    I can read it both ways. The strong logs aren’t strong enough to pull along all that crap they put on the field but you’re talking about marginal utility so it seems like upgrading one of those weak logs is only marginally useful and wouldn’t really make the dam nice and strong? Hopefully I’m misinterpreting

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Adam says:

    I don’t disagree at all with the gist of your point here, but I believe it’s a bit misleading. No one would argue that early Mets lineup was awful, but Ike Davis came up within the first 2 weeks of the season, Pagan took over in Center for MAtthews early on, and It only took “month” (singular) to replace Ollie and Maine in the rotation. The Mets better understanding the concept of *sunk cost* would certainly behoove them.

    And K-Rod flat-out great? You can throw numbers out and point out Manuel’s ridiculous usage patterns (I shall never use you in a non-save situation!….unless you need work in a blowout) and point out the flawed stat. BUT…bottom line is if his sole (under-utilized) purpose is to preserve 1-3 run leads for 1 inning and he has failed on 5 of 28 chances, he’s just not “flat out great”.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • descender says:

      … and what closers have better than “5 of 28″ (i’m not even checking that stat but you can have it, k-rod has 1 “blown save”)?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Sean says:

        Here, let me google that for you: http://hosted.stats.com/mlb/getleaders.asp?rank=303. K-Rod’s save percentage ranks 11th in the NL. Sure, small sample size, but we’re also using small sample size when discussing Pagan’s season. Also, K-Rod clearly has 5 blown saves on the year – I’m guessing you confused “Balks” with “Blown Saves.”

        I guess I’m also a little flummoxed about the adjectives for the Mets players, since Reyes is having a down year by his standards (he’s posted seasons of 5.7; 5.5; and 6.0 WAR), and it would have been hard for Pelfrey not to improve on his 2009 numbers (although he has been dreadful from July).

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Erik says:

    I think the comments in this thread further illustrate the lack of understanding what WAR really is…and means.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. STEALTH says:

    “General Managers consistently refuse to ignore minor holes on their roster, and this comes from a lack of understanding the true value of stats like Wins Above Replacement (WAR).”

    I agree with the points you’re making, but wouldn’t you want to say that too many GMs *do* ignore the holes on their roster, thus playing Cora, Francoeur, etc… refusing to ignore the weak logs, or paying close attention to them, would be a good thing; ignoring them would be the bad, correct?

    You’re right, Erik, apparently WAR isn’t that easy to understand???

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Ogre39666 says:

    Great analogy. Very well said.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. LongTimeFan says:

    This piece by Pat Andriola states the obvious, and could have been expressed in one paragraph. Fangraphs is valuable website, butt it consistently over intellectualizes. Dress up a pig and it’s still a pig. Do I need WAR’s and wOBA’s to assess player value in lieu of my own observation? No. Is a headline such as “Why Not Understanding Marginal Utitility Is Circular Problem,” necessary for something so obvious and simple in observation such as the relative strengths and weaknesses of iMets players and how it impacts the whole ? No, I don’t think so. The people who visit this website are already smart. Overkill is unnecessary to prove that you are.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. Kingman 26 says:

    This is a truly weak piece by someone who quite obviously does not follow the Mets closely.

    “Angel Pagan has been one of the best players in baseball this season.” No he hasn’t; not even close. He has been very good though.

    “Ike Davis is having a nice rookie year at first base.” Nice at VERY best. Lots of Ks, weak BA and OBP, slow, and decent fielder.

    “Mike Pelfrey has a better ERA/FIP/xFIP/tERA than last year.” Pelf has been abominable for a month or more.

    “K-Rod has been flat-out great.” No, he most certainly hasn’t. Among the league leaders in blown saves, he has been very good, but not remotely close to “flat out great.”

    “Jose Reyes has been incredible.” A laugher; absolute nonsense and ridiculous. Has been mediocre at the plate, in the field recently, and on the basepaths. By any standard, especially Jose’s past.

    A very silly and nonsensical article that vividly proves the occasional accuracy of the very negative things people say about “statheads.”

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. LetsGoMutz says:

    What is the additional Marginal Utility added from beating up your father in law? K-rod was lights out last night! (Alegedly)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *