Skip to content

Your morning dose of "playing in New York is different" porn

Aug 2, 2010, 11:00 AM EDT

If you read nothing but the New York tabloids you'd think that Lance Berkman was some reality show contestant rather than an accomplished and experienced major leaguer.

Joel Sherman discusses the Yankees’ deadline pickups, with specific reference to the Lance Berkman deal. After (correctly) noting that the quality of play in the AL East is much, much better than that in the NL Central, he goes on to note that it’s not just better opponents Berkman will have to get used to:

What players who come to the Yankees – unless they come from Boston or
maybe one or two other places – notice quickly is the intensity of the
games. Every pitch matters when you are a Yankee. It is a lingering
effect of having a team owned by George Steinbrenner, playing in the
largest media market in the world, having the most fans, having the most
enemies, having the largest payroll, by far, and having the most
expectations, by far.

It is a unique cauldron. And players either love and embrace the
intensity or find this is a difficult place to play. It certainly takes
getting used to and Berkman, Kerry Wood and Austin Kearns have to
recalibrate two-thirds of the way through the year. But as bad as the
Indians are, Wood and Kearns were at least playing in the AL. Berkman
was not only playing in the inferior league, but within the softest
division.

Sherman goes on to say — based on two games in pinstripes — that Berkman looked “slow and inadequate” and wonders if moving to the AL East has anything to do with that.

I get Sherman’s general point about there being more pressure and scrutiny in New York, but I think we’ve long since reached the point where those sentiments have become so cartoonishly overstated to be damn near worthless. I know players pay obeisance to the “everything is different in New York” thing when talking to New York reporters, but I can’t help but think that they roll their eyes at it behind the scenes.

They’re professionals. They put their uniform pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else. Yes, it’s harder to face the Rays and Red Sox than the Pirates and Cubs, but unless the player really has confidence issues — which should be the tiniest minority of players given how much confidence it takes to get to the big leagues in the first place — the difference in outside scrutiny cannot be nearly as big as New York reporters and many New Yorkers themselves like to tell themselves it is. It’s a difference of degree, not a totally different world.

And might I add that three days in from this trade I cannot believe just how much Lance Berkman — an MVP-level talent in his prime and a guy who has played in the World Series — is being discounted by Yankees fans and watchers?  He’s 34 and he’s in decline, but he’s still a useful player. If you came from another planet and read nothing but the New York tabloids these past few days you’d assume that the Yankees just traded for some reality show contestant. 

  1. JBerardi - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    Yeah, because the ASG and the MVP voters are such reliable gauges of baseball talent…

  2. Mark - Aug 2, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    “Mark, seriously? You are going to spout stats to me about J.D. Drew and tell me he’s been a good signing? The Red Sox are my second team and as Red Sox fans know, Drew has been a bust.”
    No, uninformed Red Sox Fans think he’s a bust. I’m not a Red Sox fan, but of the Sox fans I know that do have a clue about what they’re talking about, they realize he’s a good signing and has produced what he’s been worth to this point.
    “He was overpaid by Theo because he is a MOneyballer’s wet dream and while he hasn’t sucked, he hasn’t earned his $70 million the last 5 years.”
    Actually he’s been worth exactly what he’s been paid. By the way, how is signing JD Drew to a market value contract a “Moneyball wet dream”? Moneyball is about finding undervalued assets, not about OBP.
    “This is part of the reason stats like WAR are so overrated. ”
    WAR has it’s flaws, mostly on the defense side. But this isn’t one of those flaws. You don’t agree with it, or you haven’t taken the time to understand it – but that’s different than saying it’s overrated.
    “The guy has one big hit the last 4 years and it was the $70 million dollar Grand Slam off Carmona in game 6. Period. If you can name me another time he got a clutch hit, then by all means, go right ahead.”
    I don’t watch the Red Sox – I wouldn’t be able to name any big hits Ortiz or Youkilis have had recently either. But he’s had more big hits than that. What I do know, is that Drew has had an 850 or better OPS in 4/6 playoff series with Boston, and that’s pretty good as far as I’m concerned.
    “Yeah, he walks A TON so his OBP is high, thus bringing up his OPS. He’s constantly injured and so he’s very unreliable.”
    Actually, slugging is what brings up OPS. Not OBP. OBP is undervalued in OPS. But I’m sure you knew that, right?
    ” otherwise, throw away your excel spreadsheet and use your eyes!!!”
    Adorable. You told me to throw away my excel sheet. I guess I should get out of my parents basement too, right?
    I do use my eyes, and what my eyes tell me is that JD Drew is an excellent ballplayer. It’s too bad you can’t appreciate him though.

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 2, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    You are correct…18 HRs and 129 games…much better durability than I thought. But still not worth the $70/5 year deal Theo gave him, and I guess that’s really all my main point was. I hated the signing when they did it, and when Drew hit 11 stinking Home Runs in 2007, it was painful. Then he hit the $70 million Grand Slam and all was well. He improved to 19 and 24 the next couple years, but you can’t deny that he is majorly overpaid, can you? 14 million a year for 5 years? For a guy who averages 18 HRs and 129 games? Jason Bay got less total money than that for hitting 30 HRs a year and playing in 150 games. Of course, his contract is proving to be even worse, but that is what happens when you go to the Mutts.

  4. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 2, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    “Actually, slugging is what brings up OPS. Not OBP. OBP is undervalued in OPS. But I’m sure you knew that, right?”
    Isn’t OPS simply OBP + SLG? So if a guy has a higher OBP then his OPS will be higher, right? Maybe I missed something. If a guy hits 11 HRs and bats .270, which Drew did in 2007, then his OPS would usually be dreadful. However, since Drew walks a TON, as I said, his OBP was 103 points higher than his BA, which made up for his awful .423 SLG and gave him an OPS of an almost respectable .796. So your smart-assed assumption that SLG brings up OPS and NOT OBP did what it usually does…made an ASS out of U and MPTION.

  5. adam - Aug 2, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    Chicago: 2.85 Million People, 3rd biggest city in America

    Houston: 2.26 Million People, 4th biggest city in America

    Yeah, HUGE difference in size of cities, they don’t make them any smaller than Houston. And it definitely doesn’t have anything to do at night, what with about 4 different big parts of town you can go to at any time of night and have things to do.

    Long story short, you should really just shut up.

  6. Mark - Aug 2, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    “Isn’t OPS simply OBP + SLG? So if a guy has a higher OBP then his OPS will be higher, right? Maybe I missed something.”
    You did miss something. OPS is based on slugging + OBP, but OBP and slugging have different denominators to get to the individual stat. So what that means is for OPS 1 point of OBP = 1 point of OPS. However, 1 point of OBP is worth more than 1 point of slugging, because of how the individual stats are calculated. So what this means is that In OPS, OBP is undervalued. It also means that it’s easier to raise your OPS through slugging.
    As I said earlier, Drew having a high OBP doesn’t raise his OPS as high as you’d think.
    “If a guy hits 11 HRs and bats .270, which Drew did in 2007, then his OPS would usually be dreadful. However, since Drew walks a TON, as I said, his OBP was 103 points higher than his BA, which made up for his awful .423 SLG and gave him an OPS of an almost respectable .796.”
    Actually that’s still a pretty bad OPS. Even with the 370 OBP.
    ” So your smart-assed assumption that SLG brings up OPS and NOT OBP did what it usually does…made an ASS out of U and MPTION.”
    It’s pretty funny that you’re making that comment considering the fact that you obviously didn’t know how or why obp is undervalued in OPS.

  7. Kevin S. - Aug 2, 2010 at 2:16 PM

    Also, there’s a larger spread in SLG than there is in OBP – it’s easier (and less significant) to add 50 points of SLG than it is to add 50 points of OBP.

  8. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 2, 2010 at 2:25 PM

    “As I said earlier, Drew having a high OBP doesn’t raise his OPS as high as you’d think. ”
    Dude, you are talking GENERALITIES and I am talking SPECIFICS. Drew’s OBP made up for his pathetic SLG and made his OPS .796, which was 43 points above the 2007 league average of .753. So, yes, while everyone knows that SLG CAN skew the OPS more than OBP, IT ISN’T ALWAYS THAT WAY. Clearly, Drew’s 2007 proves this to be true. Had he walked an average # of times, making his OBP closer to .320, then he would have been BELOW the league average OPS of .753 in 2007. However, since he walked so much more than average, and raised his OBP to a VERY respectable .373, he raised his OPS to .796, or 43 points higher than the league average. And considering he had an anemic SLG of .423 in 2007, had he NOT walked so much, his OPS would have been equally anemic.

  9. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 2, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    Kevin, I agree for the most part. But in the SPECIFIC example of JD Drew’s 2007 season, his walks raised his OBP, and thus raised his OPS above the league average, even though his SLG was so weak at .423. That’s all I was saying. Yes, generally speaking, the walk doesn’t help as much as the hit because it doesn’t add to the SLG. I GET IT!!! But when your SLG sucks ass, as Drew’s did in 2007, then when you walk enough to raise your OBP a hundred points, it helps your OPS.

  10. Professor Longnose - Aug 2, 2010 at 2:50 PM

    Then essentially Berkman replaces Posada the lefty DH, and Posada, as a righty DH, replaces Thames. Frankly, the possibilities are varied and the sample size will be small, so it could end up being a net plus or minus on just luck.

  11. Kevin S. - Aug 2, 2010 at 3:21 PM

    Yes, but then again, it’s kind of rare that the acquisition of a platoon player for two months provides an upgrade even at the lower bound of his likely performance. Berkman/Posada/Cervelli chopping up catcher and DH is going to provide a higher *expected* performance than Thames/Miranda/Posada/Cervelli, though – I think that’s fairly clear. There’s obviously no telling what will actually happen over the course of two months.

  12. John_Michael - Aug 3, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    You made me smile.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Can Angels recoup loss of Richards?
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. R. Castillo (5006)
  2. M. Cuddyer (2569)
  3. K. Bryant (2347)
  4. G. Richards (2023)
  5. W. Myers (2022)
  1. H. Ramirez (1978)
  2. D. Ortiz (1971)
  3. A. Cashner (1850)
  4. J. Hamilton (1840)
  5. A. McCutchen (1798)