“I opened my eyes and saw the real world, and I began to laugh and I haven’t stopped since.” — Kierkegaard
Statistical guru Bill James recently laid bare that Tony Phillips has a higher career WAR than Braves poster boy Dale Murphy in a shocking (to me at least) expose. To be fair, James has said that the WAR statistic has its problems (personally, I think OPS is a far superior stat) stating that “the REAL problem with WAR is that it is a Comparison Derivative—thus, highly sensitive to small errors. The problem is that when working with Comparison Derivatives, a 1% error can manifest itself as a 20% error, a 50% error, a 90% error, or a 200% error.” It’s like the old saying: a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A single error in the statistic can have a huge effect on its overall accuracy. Nevertheless, I found it cool that Phillips was on James’ list of highly underrated players and I agree that he didn’t get the recognition he deserved. To whom it matters: Murphy had a higher career OPS– .815 to .763. and no, I don’t think he deserves to be in the HOF despite seemingly unending arguments to the contrary.
Oakland Pathetics Rookie Mason Miller tossed 7 no-hit innings against the Mariners a few nights ago before being pulled by numbskull manager Mark Kotsay for, and I kid you not, Dick Lovelady, (recently plucked from the Braves shit heap…but he’s CHEAP!) who tossed 5 pitches before giving up a game-tying homer to .113 hitting AJ Pollock–essentially blowing the game and all the positive free-flowing, rolling in the mud, hippie vibes. Talk about a buzzkill! And so it goes with the A’s bullpen aka “The Gas Can Squad” as Oakland fandom continues with this maudlin (thanks to carpetbagger John Fisher) baseball season. I guess the saying still holds true: You get what you pay for.
My insomnia and existential terror returned the other night (go figure) so I decided to watch some NPB and lo and behold, there was the recently disgraced Trevor Bauer on the hill pitching his first game in just over 22 months! The social media creep scattered seven hits in seven innings, allowed one run, struck out nine, and threw 98 pitches in the Yokohama Baystars‘ 4-1 victory against the Hiroshima Carp. I guess it’s safe to say that I didn’t get much sleep and was kicking myself as I wearily watched the post-game Bauer interview before a board of corporate sponsors and clutching a stuffed animal in the Japanese kawaii tradition. I’ve got to say, Bauer definitely had the “Bear” necessities to get the job done. (and there it is…I’ve been reduced to dad jokes. I’m not sure if this blog is uncharacteristically and abstractly cool or increasingly uncool and mentally ill) Sweet dreams everyone!
Fate had me just reviewing some VERY recent attendance data:
Last two nights
Oakland at Seattle
(three previous home games: 41,414, 41,475, 40,158)
We’re still not (yet) at “653”… but the writing is on the walls…
At this point in time I’m thinking the dismal record and attendance is hurting Fisher more than anyone. Well, that is the hope at least. Decimating your own franchise in the midst of the 2 most important negotiations in team history is a hell of a negotiating tactic.
Oops, I got it wrong somehow… those games were AT Oakland… (which is no surprise, then… I guess)
If the A’s would hold MLB’s first Lady Boy Day promotion and start Dick Lovelady, I think it would pack the Coliseum.
A sure cure for your insomnia is my archived post on how the St. Louis Stifels wanted Tony Phillips to be their second baseman: https://retrosimba.com/2016/02/27/how-cardinals-pursued-tony-phillips-to-play-2nd-base/
The St. Louis team previously known as the Cardinals started wearing advertisement patches on their classic “birds on the bat” uniform jerseys this week. The company that is paying oodles of money for the privilege is Stifel, a financial institution. The ballclub now looks like a beer-league softball team, with “Stifel” proudly displayed on the uniform sleeves.
Stifel makes me think of stifle, as when TV’s Archie Bunker would yell at his wife, “Stifle yourself, Edith.” That’s how I feel about major-league baseball now. “Stifle it.”
Hahahaha…there’s some great stuff here, Mark.
Dick Lovelady might have inserted himself in that sacred fraternity with Rusty Kuntz and Dick Pole. Childish, sure, but goddamn if a little sense of humor isn’t needed right about now.
Lady Boy Day! Great idea in theory but I wouldn’t want to have to hear that bigmouth fascist Marjorie “Monkey Face” Greene blather about it until my ears bleed.
Sorry about the patches. I know a lot of fans from other teams have complained about the gaudiness of them. Baseball is a busines, I get it, but you also have to do what’s best for the game and I don’t feel like that is what’s currently happening. Greed wins yet again and the fans suffer. Is baseball even really “fun” anymore?
Yes! Tony Phillips. Thanks for mentioning the article about underrated players. I just read it. I’ve never really read James, but I’m going to now. I always figured he’d be hard to understand because of all the metrics, but he’s actually easy to read and funny too. And about Phillips, his strat-o-matic cards musta been some of the best out there, with those years he walked over 100 times and as James mentions, playing just about every freaking position.
I had no idea Bauer was pitching in Japan. What’s next? Gang bang with the Geishas?
As always, great post Gary.
Hahahahaha. Gang bang with geishas. I literally laughed out loud!
Yeah, James is really easy to read and he’s also really humble and shy. It’s good stuff as you already stated. Have a good day, Steve.
You too, have a good day, Friday! Looking forward to getting as far away from work as possible.
I feel your pain. As a Knicks fan, I have endured over the pat 20+ years as our dope of an owner interferes with idiotic trades and other nonsense. Question for you; will you be a Vegas fan if they move or do you finally break from the fan base and follow a new team?
I will never follow a new team. I’m thinking (and this feeling may change) that I would follow the team but the nostalgia would be dead. Of course the Oakland fans and culture would be gone as well and that was the reason why people loved the team. I think the Vegas fans would be far more boring. It’s a slippery slope.
The Knicks and the Heat has been a good series so far, but I fear that if you guys don’t get at least one in Miami you may be done for.
Watching the A’s reminded me of the movie “Major League,” but without the improbable success part.
hahahaha…that’s what everyone is saying. Good call, Ken. I suppose that would make me the Randy Quaide character screaming, “You bush league, no-talents!”
Phillips was SOOO underrated (he was Zobrist before Zobrist) and remarkably consistent. From ’90 through ’95 between 4.4 and 5.6 WAR each year – that’s absurd high-level consistency. Total WAR over those six seasons was higher than Bagwell, Edgar, Biggio, Alomar, Gwynn among many others. And that’s without factoring in being a switch hitter who can play pretty much every position – two things that are very valuable to teams that are virtually impossible to measure.
Wow! That’s pretty mind-blowing. The Dale Murphy comparison seems kind of mundane compared to a bunch of HOFers.
WAR: Phillips 50.9 Zobrist 44.5
OPS: Phillips .763 Zobrist: .783
They are VERY comparable players. Good call. They both for the most part played the 4-7-9 positions as well.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Jon.
Another good post, Gary. I’ll try not to get on too long a rant about WAR, but here goes. WAR is a tricky, and I agree with you that OPS is a better metric. WAR has a positional component that people seem to ignore. Phillips’ WAR is based on his stats vs. other second basemen (or whatever position he was playing at the time), while Murphy is compared to other center fielders, who typically have better offensive stats, so his stats may not have been as far above the average center fielder as Phillips’ were above the average second baseman. Therefore, comparing WARs across positions is a bit of an apples-and-oranges situation. Also, career WAR is the total of a player’s seasonal WARs, so someone like Phillips can have a career WAR of 50.9 while a player like Ralph Kiner, who played only 10 seasons, has a career WAR of 48. Murphy aside, I don’t think anyone would try to make a case that Phillips was a better or more valuable player than Kiner just because Phillips’ career WAR was higher. Well, I got on a rant anyway; my apologies. And finally, I don’t believe Murphy or Phillips are HOFers.
These are all great points, Hugh. You even brought up a fact that I didn’t know…that WAR is about longevity as well. The whole thing seems complicated and like you said, “apples and oranges.” If Bill James, the creator of the statistic, says that it has its flaws then we should probably listen.
Completely off-topic, but you mentioned Ralph Kiner. I used to live in a Los Angeles suburb called Alhambra where Kiner attended high school. He’s even got a statue there.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Your opinions and comments are valuable and always welcome here.
(sigh) Vida… is gone.
I always felt that he’d have been AS fun to meet in 2023 as in 1973.
It would be so grand to hear stories from his high school days, from both football and baseball.
The only younger league MVP in any of the big American sports leagues was Wayne Gretzky. (that despite an erroneous online report by NBC trying to credit Johnny Bench with having been younger at the time of his MVP season (1970) than Vida was in 1971… which is silly given that JB was born in 1947 and Vida in 1949)
Thankfully it is only a minor footnote that Vida was 0-and-3 career-wise in World Series games… for on the grandest scale, it “didn’t really matter” (in hindsight).
Maybe Vida was somehow made to seem “better” for having given up home runs in the All Star Game to Johnny Bench and Hank Aaron. To some amusement he was down 3-0 upon leaving the game… only to have the last half of that third inning bring one of the most iconic home runs in All Star Game history (Reggie Jackson off of the light tower) along with enough runs scored to take the lead.
This linked story from Sports Illustrated of old is always a good read about Vida Blue’s roots:
Thanks for this heartfelt tribute, SeaGuy. I’ve been meaning to write a story about Vida but I’ve just been so dang busy. I was quite shocked and saddened when i heard the news.
Used to root for the Oakland A’s during my student years. That was during the time of such stars as Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, etc.
Those were quite the teams. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Charly. Stop by again sometime. 🙂
i will, my friend, i surely will.