Judging The Lee
Star writer Lee Judge gives his mid-season review of the Royals in the Sunday (7/17) edition. Lee grades the players using a chart purportedly developed some 35 years ago by SEC Coach Ron Polk. It's purpose is to "determine who is producing the most for his team over the course of a season." Lee says it is intended to measure "production and good baseball." After weighing the tremendous amount of valuable insight and information that Lee provides, I was only left pondering two questions: 1) So The Star really pays somone for this crap?, and 2) How do I get this job? Without picking apart the chart, which is not that difficult to do, or all that interesting, here are some key points that Lee makes:
- Melky Cabrera leads the team in points on the chart, mainly due to his "versatility." Okay, at least we've got that straight. Melky is versatile. Good deal. He also apparently leads the Royals in something Lee calls "Outstanding Plays." Good deal. I can't believe I've never heard of this chart before. I think we're on to something.
- Following Escobar, Frenchy is 3rd on the team with 427 total points. Yes, above Gordon, Butler, and Hosmer. We're told he "leads the team in 8+ pitch at-bats, which means he's not hacking all the time." Lee, I know sabermetrics have no place in your life as an astute baseball observer, but could you explain further the correlation between seeing 8 pitches in an at-bat and the frequency in which a batter swings? If we must ignore meaningful numbers, cannot we at least employ logic?
- Chris Getz Out is ranked as the 5th most productive player on the team, just ahead of Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer. Lee states that "Getz should be the poster boy for Ron Polk's system: It was designed to reveal the worth of players like him." Hmmm. Seriously, Lee? THEN WHY IN THE HELL WOULD ANYBODY USE THE SYSTEM, UNLESS THEIR MAIN OBJECTIVE IS TO GET INVITED TO EVERY GETZ FAMILY BIRTHDAY PARTY OR BAR MITZVAH FOR THE NEXT 25 YEARS!?!? We are told that "Getz does not have to do anything great, as long as he does a lot of things well." Here are Lee's examples of things Lil' Getzy does well: takes extra bases (too bad he can't take first more), steals bases (too bad he can't steal first more), bunts (too bad the IF and OF is already playing him at Little K depth), moves runners (too bad he doesn't move them across home base more), plays solid defense (true, compared to our other 2B, Wilson Betemit), and doesn't make mental mistakes. I cannot ridicule the last point, I think Getz leads the league in MM% (Mental Mistake Percentage), as well as lowest overall number of LIJ (Lapses In Judgement).
- Billy Butler's Strengths are listed as "Hitting." That is it, no further explanation or elaboration by Lee. Just the word Hitting. Then, for Limitations, is listed "Everything else." Well, Lee, some people and teams would just as soon have somebody that was as good at "hitting" as "all the little things" that Chris Getz supposedly provides. Obviously you are not one of them. Too bad Billy isn't as "versatile" as Melky, as 'good at the little things" as Lil' Getzy, or provide the "leadership or humor" that Frenchy does.
- On Mitch Maier: "He is solid in every department and would be starting on a lot of other teams." Names of departments or teams was not provided by Lee. (There was not much room for details by this point in the page...only one sentence each for Mitch and Betemit. At least we had plenty of room on the page for the 5 player photos and a Lee Judge original cartoon.)
- Lee also felt the need to sneak in a little jab at sabermetricians within the article. Note to Lee Judge: To almost all of us, baseball and the statistical analysis of it is a hobby. Most of us have productive jobs and professional lives as well. You draw cartoons for a living. And apparently not all that well, since your employer now makes you write about baseball, something you obviously know jack shit about. Hey, at least the Royals have a group of good guys, so that, for the first time in your life, you can feel some sort of social relevance. End Note.
In summary, Lee says that "...this is a better team than we've seen in awhile." Don't have a TV, Lee? Don't pay any attention to the Royals opponents? Cause basically every MLB team you have seen this year is better than this team.
Also this Diamond Gem: "They're that close to being a winner: A run here or there, not five runs here or there." No word on where Lee thinks they ought to look for those "runs here or there." Probably just need to take a few more extra bases or make more Outstanding Plays. Or basically keep trying just a little bit harder, even though we are hard tryers already, except for Billy. Only thing he is good at is hitting.
Within the article, Lee fails to mention OBP or OPS even one time, so I'm guessing improving that isn't going to lead to any more runs. SLG % must be okay, too, since he only mentioned that once. At least those aren't an issue.