• Cashman & Girardi: “CC” = “Championship Caliber” Player

    Posted by on March 28th, 2009 · Comments (10)

    Via Kevin Kernan -

    “Basically, what we aspire to as a front office is to find high-octane competitors. If you combine that with talent, you’ve got a championship caliber player,” GM Brian Cashman said last night as [CC] Sabathia shut down the Reds, 4-1, firing 7″ effortless innings at Steinbrenner Field. “We believe CC is that.”

    “He’s the type of guy who makes the staff compete against each other, which is always a good thing,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I love it. That’s the type of guys you want on your team.”

    Via Baseball-Reference.com, here are Sabathia’s career post-season numbers:

     Year   Round Tm  Opp WLser  G   GS   ERA   W  L SV CG   IP   H   ER  BB  SO
    +------+-----+---+---+-----+---+---+------+--+--+--+--+-----+---+---+---+---+
     2001   ALDS  CLE SEA     L   1   1   3.00  1  0  0  0   6     6   2   5   5
     2007   ALDS  CLE NYY     W   1   1   5.40  1  0  0  0   5     4   3   6   5
            ALCS  CLE BOS     L   2   2  10.45  0  2  0  0  10.1  17  12   7   9
     2008   NLDS  MIL PHI     L   1   1  12.27  0  1  0  0   3.2   6   5   4   5
    +------+-----+---+---+-----+---+---+------+--+--+--+--+-----+---+---+---+---+
      3 Lg Div Series       1-2   3   3   6.14  2  1  0  0  14.2  16  10  15  15
      4 Postseason Ser      1-3   5   5   7.92  2  3  0  0  25    33  22  22  24
    +--------------------+-----+---+---+------+--+--+--+--+-----+---+---+---+---+

    I’m happy that Sabathia is on the Yankees this season – even if the Yankees bid against themselves and broke the bank to sign him.  But, I think the Yankees, and their fans, had better allow for the chance that CC is the A-Rod of pitchers…meaning great in-season numbers and a choker in  the post-season.

    I’m not saying that Sabathia is a lock to fail in October.  But, those numbers are pretty darn ugly, no?

    Comments on Cashman & Girardi: “CC” = “Championship Caliber” Player

    1. March 28th, 2009 | 8:21 am

      Um, sample size, anybody?

      And I’m not even sure A-Rod is the A-Rod of batters, in the sense you’re using his name. He was an excellent postseason player until a couple years ago. And he wasn’t even all that bad in 2007.

      His only genuinely bad postseason stats stretch across a whole 29 at bats in 2005 and 2006. So, again, how about an acknowledgment of the analytic limitations of small sample sizes?

    2. March 28th, 2009 | 8:32 am

      So, if A-Rod had batted .900 in October and CC had an ERA of 0.98 in the post-season, it means nothing, as well, because of the sample size?

    3. March 28th, 2009 | 8:44 am

      So, if A-Rod had batted .900 in October and CC had an ERA of 0.98 in the post-season, it means nothing, as well, because of the sample size?
      ==============
      Predicatively? No.

      What does it mean that Alex Rodriguez has hit .315/.413/.611 in 3 League Championship Series? What does it mean that Derek Jeter hit .176/.176/.176 in the 2007 LDS? What does it mean that Jeter hit .500/.529/.938 in LDS the year before that?

      Given enough at bats, any player’s numbers in the postseason would be just about the same as his numbers in the regular season (or maybe a little worse given the increased quality of the competition?). All of this talk about good and bad postseason players is mostly just statistical noise.

    4. March 28th, 2009 | 8:53 am

      My issue with the Sample Size argument is this:

      Say BATTER A is 6 for 7, lifetime against PITCHER A. And, BATTER B is 0 for 8, with 6 Ks, against PITCHER A.

      The manager needs a PH to face PITCHER A with the pennant on the line. If he were to select BATTER B and say “Yeah, I know about the stats. But, those are small sample sizes. Plus, BATTER B hit .300 for us this season over 600 PA whereas BATTER A hit .250 over the second half of the season…”

      …how long do you think it would take the fans, media, and Front Office to kill the MGR when BATTER B pinch-hits and whiffs?

      And, would anyone blame them for killing him? So, sure, according to statistical study, small sample sizes can be proven to mean little. However, in the real world, where perception is reality, they mean a lot.

    5. March 28th, 2009 | 9:32 am

      Well, okay, you’re talking about narrative. And narrative is important, because it’s how we discern meaning. I get that.

      But why does the narrative have to be so myopic? Why can’t we bring the narrative more in line with statistical analysis, and thus make the narrative more accurate?

      I don’t know. The truth is, I’m not really sure how to respond to your argument without getting unduly philosophical. You’re right that story matters. I’d just like to see the story be less sensationalistic and based on more significant stats.

    6. thenewguy
      March 28th, 2009 | 10:16 am

      What does it mean that A-Rod has a .258/.330/.409 line for the ALDS but a .315/.411/.611 line in the ALCS? Also, his teams are 3-4 in the DC and 0-3 in the CS. Does this mean that we should expect A-Rod to hit in the CS but not the DS?

      If we are talking about what we EXPECT CC to do, then we aren’t talking about “perception,” Steve. We are trying to use statistics to discern whether or not CC will be a good pitcher in the postseason. In other words, we are using his stats to predict whether how he will perform. The problem with using his postseason stats to predict his future performance is that such a small sample size is not indicative of how he would perform over a long period of time (say, 2-3 postseason series for the next 7 years.)

      So yes, maybe in that small narrative you proposed, Steve, media, front office, and fans will get upset that a manager used a small sample size to predict how a single at bat would turn out. But we are talking about how CC’s career postseason numbers will look when all is said and done. And for that, using a small sample size is ridiculous.

      Steve, you surely can’t think that CC will be sport a 6.5 career postseason ERA for his entire career? (Assuming he throws enough innings, of course.)

    7. MJ
      March 28th, 2009 | 11:07 am

      Here’s what I’ll say about Sabathia: is it possible that maybe, just maybe, he’s gassed when he gets to the playoffs? After all, his pattern of usage in 2007 and 2008 has been heaviest late in the season. Is it possible that slightly more judicious use (say, his manager not pitching him with a 12-0 lead in the 8th inning in mid-September) might help? I think it’s worth exploring this line of thinking before we immediately categorize him as an October loser.

    8. Evan3457
      March 28th, 2009 | 12:41 pm

      Perhaps Cashman and Girardi are referring to his work effort and demeanor as opposed to his actual postseason performance to date.

      Because, you know, as the General Manager is solely to blame for the fact that the Yankees went from multiple championship winners to World Series losers to ALCS losers to multiple ALDS losers to out of the postseason entirely, perhaps he felt it was important to acquire a pitcher who can help to start reversing that trend, even if his track record shows conclusively he’ll never, ever help them win it all.

      Maybe AJ can help them win it all. Or Joba. Or if A-Rod’s injury recurs or worsens, maybe gritty Cody Ransom will lead them to the promised land.

      ================================
      I know that’s not the argument you’re making, exactly. But what are they supposed to do; sign Sabathia, praise his work effort, praise his willingness to sacrifice for the team, (as he did for Milwaukee down the stretch last season by pitching complete game after complete game to save their dreadful bullpen while he was in the last weeks of his contract and a free-agency bonanza on the horizon if he could just stay helathy), and say something like:

      Well, we know C.C.’s a hard worker, great in the clubhouse, and a fantastic asset in the rotation during the regular season, but unfortunately, he’s a stiff in October, so we’re not counting on getting much out of him in the playoffs. In fact, we’re probably going to move him to the pen in the postseason.

      That might poison the relationship between team and player a little, don’t you think?

      They could choose their words a little more carefully, and not refer to “championship” anything? What if a reporter follows with a direct question about his postseason record?

      I mean, they just signed the guy to one of the biggest contracts in big league history. What do you think the company line of a team that did that is going to be?

    9. butchie22
      March 28th, 2009 | 4:06 pm

      Steve good call on CC, he’s not that great in the post season and those numbers don’t lie. Arod hasn’t been Arod in the post season since the 4th game of the ACLS in 2004. Sample size or not, he hasn’t set the world on fire since then. CC isn’t that great in October no matter what anyone says and the numbers back that up. A small sample size, unh? That is the sample size you have to go on! The same stat freaks would be extoling his virtues if he had a 1.00 ERA in that same sample size. Talk about spin…I thought I’ve seen or heard every type of spinning,BUT this one is too much. Burnit has never pitched in October, Joba might have to be shut down before October, and Wang has either been mediocre or terrible in October. And that leaves Pettite …..Pettitte is 14–9 with a 3.96 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 35 postseason games (but who could forget Game 6 of the 2001 World Series? that was an embarrassment and somewhat of a seeming anomaly). One out of the starting five is a certain given in October, BUT the rest not quite. At this point, let’s hope that they make it to October with this starting five including Cheeseburger Charlie.

    10. March 29th, 2009 | 7:58 am

      That is the sample size you have to go on! The same stat freaks would be extoling his virtues if he had a 1.00 ERA in that same sample size.
      ===============
      No, we wouldn’t. But thanks for that.

      Look, you’re right that the numbers don’t lie, insomuch as they tell what has already happened. All I’m arguing is that because the sample size is so small, they don’t really give us any idea what’s going to happen in future playoff series. To get a better idea what’s going to happen in future series, you should look at the larger sample size, which would be CC’s regular season stats.

      Because, as I already said, given enough at bats or innings pitched in the playoffs, playoff numbers will approach regular season numbers (just as Pettitte’s and Derek Jeter’s have). And most of this stuff about players performing especially well or poorly in the postseason is statistical noise.

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