• Avoiding The “Inefficient” Inning

    Posted by on May 17th, 2005 · Comments (7)

    A recent Star-Ledger piece entitled “Striking out in the majors now is considered no worse than any other out” contained the following:

    The Moneyball theorists consider a strikeout no worse than any other kind of out — better, in fact, than a double-play grounder. But there are still talent evaluators who can’t stand the idea of a high strikeout total.

    “Ultimately, the strikeout, you get no value from it,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said. “There’s no moving of the runner, no way for the defense to feel pressured. It’s worthless. To me, it’s the biggest offense you can commit on offense.”

    Cashman’s belief is that a fair ball creates a chance of something good happening for the hitter — be it an error, a ground ball that moves a runner — while a strikeout offers no such opportunity. As for players like Dunn or Sexson, who manage to be productive in spite of their high strikeout totals, Cashman’s answer is that they’re not as productive as they could be.

    “The guys who can hit home runs and still be productive despite being big whiffers, I still term those guys as inefficient,” Cashman said. “I’ll look at that and say, ‘Look how much better this person can be.'”

    Looking at the stats from 2002 through 2004, there were 20 men in the American League to whiff 300+ times during this period. In terms of K/AB ratio (of these 20) the leaders were:

    Mike Cameron 0.290083411
    Carlos Pena 0.285714286
    Corey Koskie 0.248370746
    Jose Valentin 0.246671338
    Carlos Delgado 0.246575342
    Jorge Posada 0.239417071
    Jason Varitek 0.236784938
    Jason Giambi 0.231052244
    Eric Hinske 0.221451104
    Jacque Jones 0.212856277
    David Ortiz 0.210124827
    Alex Rodriguez 0.206877729
    Alfonso Soriano 0.205438066
    Bret Boone 0.198573779
    Torii Hunter 0.195547533

    Memo to Joe Torre: Please do not bat Posada, Giambi, and A-Rod, back-to-back-to-back in the line-up……..ever. Ask Cash for more details on why.

    Comments on Avoiding The “Inefficient” Inning

    1. May 17th, 2005 | 4:49 pm

      Cash has a point, Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle were awful hitters. They should have traded Mick and never signed Reggie. I guess we’re all smarter now that we have Tony Womack playing left field.

    2. May 17th, 2005 | 5:01 pm

      Cliff – Mantle whiffed more than 125 times in a season just once. He whiffed more than 100 times in a season 8 times in 18 seasons. He was far from the K-king that many make him out to be, etc.

      Reggie, on the other-hand, whiffed a lot. Was he a very productive player all his years in NY?

    3. May 18th, 2005 | 2:53 am

      Mantle’s K’s were pretty extreme for his era.

      Reggie’s OPS+ figures for his five years in pinstripes:

      150, 135, 150, 172, 119

    4. May 18th, 2005 | 7:06 am

      Ah, but to Cash’s point “how much better” could Reggie have been if he was able to make more contact in some seasons? Nearly 1/3 of Reggie’s Yankee RBI were when he drove himself in on a HR. How many non-HR RBI did Reggie have in NY? It was less than 68%, for sure. Maybe Reggie drives in more runners if he makes more contact?

    5. May 18th, 2005 | 7:18 am

      “Mantle’s K’s were pretty extreme for his era.”

      Cliff, actually, Jim Lemon was worse than Mickey, and Eddie Mathews, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Gus Zernial, Larry Doby, and Wally Post
      were in the ballpark of Mantle’s K rate.

      It’s not like Mantle was Rob Deer or something.

    6. Jason O.
      May 18th, 2005 | 9:53 am

      Because the variability of balls put in play (that are not home runs) is so high, I tend to agree with Cashman…don’t strike out and there’s a significant probability that even a weakly hit ball could be a hit.

      This is a corollary to the most interesting debate in baseball: Because of the variance of balls hit in play, should pitchers be penalized (as much as they currently are) for anything other than HRs, and walks?

    7. May 18th, 2005 | 10:19 am

      DIPS say no, they should not.
      But, others say the jury is still out on that.

      But, on the flip side, DIPS say Ks are great for pitchers. So, if they’re so great for pitchers, why are they not bad for batters? And, the ability to avoid them, a good thing for hitters?

      The coin must have two sides. This is why I think Ks are bad for hitters.

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