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Must-click link: 25 Things You Didn't Know About Baseball

Sep 17, 2010, 3:31 PM EDT

Derek Jeter is clutch. Mark Teixeira should win the gold glove. Carlos Lee is the worst player in the majors. All things that almost go without saying.

Except they’re wrong, as Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan explains in this year’s version of his highly-enjoyable 25 Things You Didn’t Know About Baseball column.

Lots of pitching metrics this year, including who is the hardest thrower (consistently speaking), which teams have the most trouble with certain pitches and who is the worst fielder in all of the game.

Hey, you weren’t selected to be the Dodgers’ next manager. You have time on your hands. Check it out.

  1. geoknows - Sep 17, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    You mean, in lieu of actually WORKING on a Friday afternoon?

  2. Jonny5 - Sep 17, 2010 at 4:17 PM

    Nice article. The DRS and UZR issues are a first for me. Wow, does that need work.

  3. bbeer - Sep 17, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    This is the kind of stuff I’ve been preaching forever. Jeter has never been a good shortstop. No range.

  4. walk - Sep 17, 2010 at 7:58 PM

    What stat measures the ammount of damage yunel’s crappy throws to first cost his team in injuries? The ball makes it to first but it is often thrown into baseline where his one bagger has to take a hit from the runner.

  5. TardiveZoar - Sep 18, 2010 at 1:34 AM

    Go Giants, they have a rag tag team but it is possible to get fairy dust in SF, so pennant hopes are alive.
    As long as they whup the Dodgers my season is a success.

  6. PAU - Sep 18, 2010 at 2:08 AM

    I’m not terribly impressed with the article. Some interesting things, but much of the article is lacking to me.
    1. Whether or not Jeter has ever been clutch is debatable. It’s not as if a batter goes up there trying not to get on base unless it’s a clutch situation. People do react differently to stressful situations, but whether or not someone is clutch, and how clutch they are, is difficult to measure at best.
    2. I think the argument presented here is quite poor. Does anyone believe Scott Feldman had one of the “best” cutters last year? It was certainly an effective pitch for him last year, but I feel the semantics here are misleadingly imprecise. Anyone who didn’t expect Feldman to regress strongly backwards this year, or for hitters to fare much better against his cutter specifically, wasn’t watching him pitch. Though the advanced metrics are an incredible tool for analysis, using it as the basis for making such a declaration is laughable in my opinion.
    Further, I’d be suspect of any such claims based on Pitch F/X data. Pitch F/X is an amazing technology, and quite cool, but the system still has its kinks to work out. Classification of cutters, among other things, has been a notoriously difficult task for the system.
    3. The comments on Austin Jackson are largely sound analysis with the exception of one glaring mistake:
    “BABIP is a controversial statistic because it implies that all balls put in play which aren’t home runs have about a 30 percent chance of landing, regardless of the pitcher, the hitter or anything else”
    That statement alone almost made me stop reading the article. Overall, a ball in play across the entire population will tend to have about a 30% chance of becoming a hit. That percentage, however, is indeed signiificantly correlated to the pitcher (slightly) as well as the hitter (more strongly). Further, it is correlated to the type of ball put in play. The only reason most controversy exists over BABIP is due to the misunderstanding people have over it.
    4-8. Do I need to go into this? Defensive metrics can be useful, but they’re also very clearly flawed. That Passan acknowledges this clearly invalidates the defensive claims he makes.
    9. This reeks of a straw man to me. I don’t know anyone who follows baseball with any significant interest that believes anyone but the most exceptional pitchers can get by with a fastball alone. The extraordinary few that do so are relievers.
    10. Do I need to point out that Jeff Mathis is a poor hitter, because he can’t hit fastballs (or any other pitch really)? I don’t find anything especially wrong what he says about Bergesen. I just don’t think it’s at all insightful.
    11. If there are no innings restrictions, Aroldis Chapman was already going to dethrone Zumaya as hardest average fastball. It’s simply unfathomable to me how hard he throws. Amazingly, Strasburg’s average FB velocity might be skewed slightly by the occasional sinker he mixes in.
    12. I’m fine with #12.
    13. Interesting stat, though I find Strasburg’s 89.7 MPH changeup more interesting, because he’s a starter.
    14. This one’s been true for awhile now. For a guy with already shaky control, it’s almost impossible to get a called strike on such a big breaking ball. Low curves will be called where the catcher gets his glove on it. High pitches are called where they cross the plate, and are more difficult to break off effectively to boot. Hearing Vin Scully christen that pitch as I watched gave me goosebumps, though. If I’m a Dodgers fan, I think I’d rather watch their games on TV than at the ballpark.
    15. This one’s probably the most interesting for me. It’s not entirely counterintuitive that Kuroda would have such a spread. He’s got a wide assortment of pitches with vertical movement. It’s an interesting stat, though, and one I might need to look at in a bit more depth.
    16. Two in a row. It’d be interesting to see a comparative stat for the official scorer’s of different teams.
    17. Two of of three ain’t bad? As a Twins fan, this stat is all too familiar and unpleasant.
    18. Three for four. Passan is getting hot.
    19. Again, calling these pitches the “best” is grossly misleading.
    20. It’s probably a bit more accurate to apply the data to hitters, though still a bit misleading and reliant on small samples.
    21-22. Again- small samples make the factoid pretty irrelevant.
    23. Interesting that Pujols isn’t on that list.
    24. Bashing Carlos Lee is mildly interesting to me.
    25. Some liberties are taken here, but I do find this last one fascinating.

  7. Sam Lee - Sep 18, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    This is like reading Soviet history. I get the impression that nobody cares whether UZR and the like are actually awful at what they attempt. My favorite in the whole article was that clumsy, slow inept Matt Holliday is the 3rd best defensive left fielder. That is hilarious.
    I also thought that metrics were tweaked specifically because Texeira wasn’t getting good enough ratings. It can’t be that he’s not awesome can it?

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