Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday Baseball Post

Just a little bit late, obviously.  Every time I start, I wind up with something trite, so I think I'll do a bunch of bullet items, instead.

1. All I ask of my team's GM is that the Giants play meaningful games in September. 

2.  I really, really, wish that I had predicted an Albert Pujols Triple Crown back in May.  I said it to someone back then, but never wrote it up here.  I think he's going to make it, and barring it affecting the WC race, I'm rooting for him.

3.  Saw Ken Burns on Letterman the other night...he's done a sequel of sorts to his Baseball doc focused on the last thirty years, and for what it's worth he was talking mostly sensibly about steroids.  On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that highlighting steroids at all is the wrong way to talk about 1980-2010 baseball, but of course that's what we're going to get at this point.

4.  TNSTAAPP strikes me as the wrong reaction to Stephen Strasburg's injury.  Strasburg isn't a washout pitching "prospect" at this point; he's a front-line major league pitcher who got injured.  TNSTAAPP is supposed to be about the many things that can go wrong on the way to the majors (not only injuries), but those things didn't happen here.  The correct cliche to use is one about Pitcher Get Hurt, or You Can Never Have Enough Pitching. 

5.  My dad and I are in complete disagreement about Pablo Sandoval: I'm an optimist, and he isn't.  Any thoughts?

8 comments:

  1. We'll know a lot more about Pablo in Spring Training 2011.

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  2. That's a very subtle point about TNSTAAPP, because of course Strasburg *is* very much a top pitching prospect, and something did happen to him. But your point is astute: he didn't fail on the way up, he got hurt. The really really subtle point is that one of the things that happens to prospects is that they get hurt on the cusp of becoming innings-eating behemoths -- that is what happened to Strasburg. So I think it's fair to consider him a kind of TNSTAAPP-prime, with the proviso that, injuries aside, he didn't seem to have *any* difficulty adjusting to MLB levels.

    One other thing I wanted to say was, and this was an idea I was kicking around before Strasburg got hurt, is that it does seem like there are an inordinate number of incredible ass-kicking seasons put up by *very* young pitchers who arrive on the scene and absolutely dominate for a season or two before becoming "merely" excellent or something else happens to them. Off the top of my head I can think of Liriano, Greinke, Fidrych, Prior, Kerry Wood, Lincecum, Guidry although I think he was a bit older, Gooden, Fernando, perhaps Sutter. Those are all post-1975. I can't put my finger on it, because sometimes more mature pitchers have amazing seasons too, but there's something about those "first burst" seasons that seems to be in another category, guys who show up and NOBODY can hit them, their stuff is too powerful, as if even they themselves don't quite know how they're doing it. And then consciousness sets in, and there's no way to recapture that sublime level ever again. And those kinds of seasons, maybe Koufax and Pedro (Randy is a whole different deal) excepted, don't happen much to guys in their late 20s or early 30s, no matter how great they are.

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  3. I think you're wrong about TINSTAAPP. One of the underlying mechanisms is that young pitchers (in the injury nexus as they say) have a high probability of getting hurt. Strasburg performing quite well this season didn't take him out of the injury nexus or demonstrate through attrition that his pitching mechanics were sound. Your definintion relies too heavily on the decision by the Nats to promote him. He's young, he got hurt. We wait to see what happens next.

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  4. But all pitchers get hurt. I mean, you wouldn't say that Jake Peavy proves anything about pitching prospects, right? If TNSTAAPP means anything more than "pitchers get hurt," then it has to be something about how minor league performance translates to major league results, or at least that's how I've always understood it.

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  5. #1 is where I used to be, but the Rowand deal just seemed to send me over. And for all the good reviews of Sabean over the past half season, but the current #1, #3 and #4 batters in the line-up are not under contract next year, but benchwarmers Rowand and DeRosa will be back.

    I agree with you on Sandoval. He's figuring it out now. Last year was not an aberration. Perhaps he simply wasn't ready for the amount of pressure that was being put on him to carry the team. Over the past two weeks he's seen far more patient at the plate and the results are more in line with 2009.

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  6. People predict a triple crown for Pujols every single year.

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  7. TINSTAAPP means that young pitchers get hurt at a higher rate than young hitters. The more (professional) innings they pitch the greater confidence we can have that they will be able to handle even more innings. Maybe that is not sexy enough. Dunno. I'd say that Strasburg showed he had the stuff to hang in MLB, but he hasn't shown he can have a career.

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  8. Anon,

    You have a citation for that? I can never find anything in USENET archives, but my memory is that it was a Gary Huckabay coinage, and both performance and health (to the extent that they're separate things) were part of it. Searching...well, see this Joe Sheehan piece.

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2197

    Relevant quote:

    "Not the Mark Prior class--the polished college pitcher who comes into professional baseball pretty much ready for the major leagues. Those guys are never pitching prospects; they're pitchers marking time with 15-20 starts until their team decides to promote them."

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