Archive for September, 2008

Meaningless Games

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

During the past couple of weeks I’ve heard the term “Meaningless Game” used frequently, and I disagree with the whole concept.

I do understand that after a certain point in the season, which team wins a given game may have no impact on the final standings. So, in terms of the final standings, a particular game may be considered to be “meaningless”.

But I say, if the game is truly “meaningless”, it should just be forfeit. Like the bottom of the 9th when the home team is ahead. Why play it at all? Find a beach somewhere to relax on and sip Pina Coladas. I would like to think that these games were not played just for the gate receipts and TV revenues.

In a 162 game schedule, each game has 1/162 impact on the final standings. That’s less than 1% (0.61728% to be exact). I’m not a statistician but in my very limited statistical experience, generally anything less than 5% is considered to be negligible, ie., meaningless.

So, by that logic, each individual game of the regular season is “meaningless”, and by a pretty wide margin. If that’s the case, why do they play ‘em? And why do we watch ‘em?

Because they’re NOT meaningless. Individual games are not meaningless. Spring training is not meaningless. Batting practice is not meaningless. Conditioning and strength training are not meaningless.

I love this game too much to write off any part of it as meaningless.

There are those who consider the World Series to be the only “meaningful” games of the year, for those are the ones which directly determine the championship. For them, the entire regular season and all the playoff games are simply a spinning of wheels among mostly “also ran” teams.

Sorry, folks. I don’t buy it. There were no “meaningless games” during the regular season, and there aren’t going to be any “meaningless games” during October.

Now let’s get it on.

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The Offseason Outlook – Part I

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Off-Season already? We’re not even into the post season yet. I understand, but I thought it would be fun to see how the team shapes up for next year, before the off-season begins. Last season we went out so quickly that most fans, myself included, mourned a few days and didn’t care to read about the Cubs, let alone the off-season. I thought I would get a jump on that and show you what this team will look like assuming no one that is eligible for free agency returns.

C - Bloodline release Geovany Soto / Koyie Hill

1b – Derrek Lee / Micah Hoffpauir

2b – Mark DeRosa / Mike Fontenot

SS - Ryan Theriot / Ronny Cedeno

3B – Aramis Ramirez

LF

– Alfonso Soriano

CF – Felix Pie / Sam Fuld

RF - Kosuke Fukudome

SP – Carlos Zambrano

SP - Ted Lilly

SP - Jason Marquis

SP – Sean Marshall

SP - ? (Potential options are Rich Hill, Jeff Samardzija, Kevin Hart, Chad Gaudin)

MR – Angel Guzman

MR – Michael Wuertz

MR

– Neal Cotts

MR – ? (Potentials – Billy Petrick, Jose Ascanio, Jose Ceda, Randy Wells)

MR – ?

CL – Carlos Marmol


Obviously, I don’t truly believe that the Cubs will bring back no one and go with in house options, but it’s important to take a look at what we have in house before going out into the market to fill the needs. Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at the free agents and give my take on which should be brought back and which should be let go. Until then, bask in the wonderful team that could be yours.

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A Day Of Rest

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Lou announced in yesterday’s pregame show that today, Monday, was going to be a day of rest for him. No baseball thoughts. No thinking about who’s healthy and who’s injured. No thinking about who’s hitting and who’s not. No thinking about who’s gonna start and who’s gonna relieve. No thinking about who matches up with whom. So I’m gonna take day of rest, too.

Rest and relaxation. R and R. Or rest and recuperation. R and R. Or rest and rehabilitation. R and R. Sometimes referred to as I and I (you can fill in the blanks).

I think Lou said he might get in some golf. I’m not a golfer but if I were, today would probably have been a good day for it. At least until the rain started.

I gotta tell you, my day got off to a really good start. Then I walked Bowser and did some yardwork. Took a load of brush to the dump. I may still fit in a run and some bicycling and some some reading, too.

A day without the Cubbies between the regular season and the playoffs. I would tell you about the book I just finished, but that would bring up the “C” word and I’m not going there today.

Maybe tomorrow. Not today. Today is a day of rest.

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Here We Go Again

Monday, September 29th, 2008

I don’t know about the rest of you, but Wednesday can’t come soon enough. I’m already trying to figure out if I can get the H E double hockey sticks out of work early to make sure I’m at home in time to catch the first pitch. The last two playoff appearances have left a bad taste in my mouth, and I’m ready to see some butt whoopin’ from what is probably the best Cub team we’ll see in our lifetimes. Which is kind of a strange thought, considering all the complaining we do about them.

This is the first time in a long time, that I was really stuck to the TV all weekend long. Not to watch the Cubs, but to see how everything else played out. It still amazes me that after 162 games, it still always seems to come down to the last day. I hated the Wild Card when it was introduced, but I’ve certainly warmed to it the past few years. It really has made baseball more exciting. That’s the single best call Bud Selig has made.

As for the Cubs, I like the match up with the Dodgers. It’s going to be interesting to see which team can break through first against two very good rotations. Speaking of which, did Ted Lilly just make one heck of a statement for being in the playoff rotation over Zambrano? I think he did. I guess Lou thinks otherwise, since Zambrano is scheduled for Game 3.

Rest up people, although I don’t think this ride is going to be as bumpy as 2003, it’s going to be exciting, nailbiting, and one that makes us reach for the Pepto regularly.

Go, Cubs, Go!

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A Great Day To Be Alive

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

It’s A Great Day To Be Alive. Remember that, today, it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how the bullpen performs. And how the regular starters hit. And, hopefully, nobody slips on the Miller Park turf.

It’s 3 up and 3 down in the Cubs 1st.

And Angel Guzman does, in fact, take the mound. He’s throwing heat at 95 mph. Guzman strikes out the side in the Brewers’ 1st, after giving up a lead off single.

Aramis Ramirez breaks up CC’s no hitter with a single to left. Micah drives the ball through the legs of the Brewers’ “Plus Size” 1st baseman, putting runners on the corners. Cedeno hits a double play ball, but he’s safe at 1st (and he gets an RBI) because “a tie goes to the runner”. Aramis scores on the play. Cubs lead 1-0. And so the 2nd inning ends.

Angel Guzman returns to the mound in the Brewers’ 2nd, and takes them 3 up and 3 down.

Carlos Zambrano leads off the Cubs 3rd, batting for Guzman, and goes down swinging. Alfonso draws a walk, but Theriot hits into a 4-3 double play.

Chad Gaudin is pitching for the Cubs in the Brewers’ 3rd. The Brewers go 3 up and 3 down on 3 infield ground balls.

Sabathia takes the Cubs 3 up and 3 down, with 2 Ks, in the 4th.

Neal Cotts is on the mound in the Brewers’ 4th. After a K and a 7, Prince Fielder goes down swinging. The Cubs’ Bullpen Committee had a one hitter going.

Micah looks at strike 3. If the Fox radar gun is to be believed, that was a 105 mph toss.
And the Cubs go 3 up and 3 down in the 5th. Mr. Sabathia has a 1 hitter going.

Kevin Hart is pitching and Koyie Hill is catching in the Brewers’ 5th. 3 up and 3 down.

Koyie Hill looks at a called 3rd strike, Alfonso flies out, and Theriot gets the Cubs’ 2nd hit of the day, a single to center. Dee Lee pops to Ray Durham on the outfield grass.

In the 6th the Brewers go three up and 3 down. Score remains 1-0 Cubs.

Aramis opens the 7th with his 2nd single of the day, and the Cubs 3rd hit of the game. But a double play takes him off the bases. Micah flies out to center. Three up and three down for the Cubbies in the 7th.

Ray Durham leads off the Brewers’ 7th with a double, the Brewers’ 2nd hit of the day, against the new Cubs’ pitcher Sean Marshall. He takes third on a grounder to third. One out. The Brewers’ Buffmobile 1st baseman takes a semi- intentional BB, and that’s all for Sean Marshall.

Michael Wuertz walks JJ Hardy on 4 pitches to load the bases with one out. Corey Hart fans on 3 pitches. 2 outs. Craig Counsell walks on 5 pitches, forcing in the tying run. Jason Kendall hits into a fielder’s choice to end the inning. Brewers tie the score 1-1.

The Cubs go 3 up and 3 down in the 8th. CC Sabathia looks good, today.

Bob Howry is on the mound for the Cubs in the 8th, with the score tied 1-1. Howry gives up a single to Mike Cameron and a 2 run homer to Ryan Braun. Brewers lead 3-1 with 2 out. Jabba the Hutt goes down swinging to end the inning. Brewers lead 3-1.

The top of the order will bat for the Cubs in the top of the 9th. OK, guys, let’s see what you got. Alfonso Soriano flies out. Ryan Theriot singles to center. Dee Lee hits into a game ending double play.

CC Sabathia pitched his 3rd consecutive game on 3 days rest today, a complete game. CC gave up 1 run on 4 hits and he was definitely in control of the game.

Bob Howry takes a well earned and well deserved loss today. It was he who gave up a single and a 2 run homer in the 8th.

The Cubs’ Bullpen Pitching Committee did a pretty good job of pitching today. Maybe Lou should start “The Committee” every once in a while, just to rest the starters and just for the fun of it. Only thing is, apparently, Lou would have to bring in one of the starters to relieve the relievers in the 7th inning or so.

Both the Brewers and the Cubs had 4 hits today. I had no high expectations for the Cubs Bullpen Pitching Committee, so I’m not too worked up about the pitching, except to note that, overall, they did a great job.

But the lack of offense by the Cubs “A Team” championship batting lineup is, to me, cause for concern. That lack of run production cost them a game today and it will cost them games in the playoffs. Then again, this was a meaningless game so I probably shouldn’t try to extrapolate any meaning from it. Never mind…

**CUBBIE DUDE CUBBIE BLUE COLLAR CORNER**

I BELIEVE:
- Carlos Zambrano did get into the game today.
- Angel Guzman faced 7, got 6 outs with 1 hit, 4 Ks and no runs.
- CC Sabathian recorded his 1st K of the game against Carlos Zambrano (pinch hitting).
- Chad Gaudin faced 3, got 3 outs, all infield grounders.
- Neal Cotts faced 3, got 3 outs including two Ks.
- Kevin Hart faced 6, got 6 outs.
- Sean Marshall faced 3, gave up a double and a walk.
- Michael Wuertz faced 4, walked 2 (one of which forced in a run).
- Bob Howry faced 5, struck out 2, but also gave up a single and a 2 run game winning home run.
- CC Sabathia pitched a 1 run, 4 hit complete game on 3 days rest. He won’t be getting much rest this week, either.

- This has been an unbelievable regular season for the Chicago Cubs. I have truly enjoyed it. Now lets git ‘er done in the playoffs!Dodsworth release

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He's A Steamroller, Baby

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Ted (The Human Steamroller) Lilly is on the mound for the Cubbies, vs Ben Sheets for the Brewers. It’s a sunny afternoon at Miller Park. Let’s go!

In his pregame show, Lou used the word “audition”, so I’ll use it, too. The Brewers are fighting for their life today, while the Cubs are holding auditions. And The Auditioning Cubs take a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the first. Daryle, I take it all back.

Ted Lilly mows ‘em down. Brewers go 3 up and 3 down in the 1st, with 2 Ks.

Now Ted (The Human Steamroller) Lilly blasts a ground rule double over Corey Hart and bouncing over the fence. But, with runners on 2nd and 3rd, Fuku flies out to center TO END THE INNING.

I hate to say it, but Ronny Cedeno E6s Prince Fielder to 1st. The Steamroller gets the Brewers to ground into a fielder’s choice and then tap a bouncer back to the mound. Oh, yes, Ted Lilly is looking good today. We move to the 3rd inning with the Cubs leading 2-0.

An error and wild pitch put Cedeno on 2nd with no outs. Sheets walks two to load the bases with one out. Fontenot lines a single to right, scoring two runs. Cubs lead 4-0, and that’s all for Ben Sheets. Mark DiFelice is the new pitcher. And so the inning ends. Fuku will lead off the Cubs 4th.

In the 3rd Ted Lilly rolls right over the Brewers, 3 up and 3 down. I’m likin’ it.

Fuku draws a walk!! And steals 2nd!! Wooo Wooo Fuku!! And takes 3rd on Micah’s ground out!! Where he dies as Daryle Ward fans to end the scoreless inning.

He’s a Steamroller, Baby!! 3 up and 3 down in the Brewers 4th. Score is 4-0, Cubs.

Lilly Steamrolls ‘em again the the 5th, 3 up and 3 down. Score is 4-0, Cubs.

And Fuku hits into a 6-4-3 double play to end the Cubs scoreless 6th. There have been 6 hits in this game. The Cubs have 6 hits.

In the Brewers’ 6th, Ted begins to throw some balls. He walks one and has to face 4 batters to get 3 outs. He’s a Steamroller, Baby!!

The Brewers’ bullpen is gettin’ ‘er done. The Cubs have gone 3 up and 3 down in the past 3 innings. Score is 4-0 after six and a half innings.

Ryan Braun breaks up the no-hitter with a double to left leading off the Brewers’ 7th. And somehow what should have been Prince Fielder’s fly out to short right center drops for a single. Two pitches into the 7th, The Steamroller is through for the day. Carlos Marmol comes in with Brewers on the corners and no outs. Marmol gets his Brewers 3 up and 3 down. Cubs lead 4-1.

Jason Marquis is pitching in the bottom of the 8th. One out, one walk, two hits, one run and one hit batsman later Neal Cotts comes in to face Prince Fielder. Score is 4-2. One pitch/E6. Score is 4-3. Neal Cotts is gone (through no fault of his own). Ooops, that was not scored as an error. Give Fielder a hit. Michael Wuertz comes in and gets two FCs to end the inning. Cubs lead 4-3. Jason Marquis didn’t do so hot. But Michael Wuertz goes to the head of the class.

Theriot singles and Fuku slams a 2 run homer in the top of the 9th. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!! Cedeno singles to right. The Cubs are lighting up the Brewers’ closer, Salomon Torres. And Mitch Stetter comes in to pitch to Micah with one on and no outs.

Micah pops out and Felix Pie walks. Stetter is gone; Todd Coffey is in with 2 on and 1 out. Reed Johnson singles to left, scoring Cedeno. Cubs take a 7-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth with Kerry Wood.

Three up and three down in the bottom of the 9th. Cubs win 7-3.

Ted (The Human Steamroller) Lilly had a no hitter through 6 innings today. Daryle Ward, batting clean-up, had a 2 run homer. Ronny Cedeno did not, in my opinion, distinguish himself today. Michael Wuertz performed exceedingly well today. Kosuke Fukudome broke the game open with a 2 run homer in the 9th. Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood performed up to their high standards. Jason Marquis had a rough go today.

For the Brewers, Ben Sheets didn’t have it today. Mark DiFelice and Dave Bush looked good in relief.

Tomorrow CC and Z will pitch.Dodsworth ipod UKM: The Ultimate Killing Machine full

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It's Miller Time

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

The Cubs have a strong offensive lineup tonight, vs. Jeff Suppan who has struggled in September. Let’s hope his struggles continue. The roof is open at Miller Park, it’s a beautiful night in SE Wisconsin. Go Cubs Go!

The Cubs’ hitters made good contact in the 1st. Five batters came to the plate, and each drove a ball to the outfield. Two for singles, and Hoffpauir was robbed. Granted, Dee Lee’s single was off the glove of Craig Counsell, but it ended up in left field. They keep hitting like this, it will be a good evening.

There is a 2 or 3 second delay between the radio action and the ESPN video feed. So I get a radio heads up about what I’m gonna see. I like that.

The Brewers’ hitters didn’t get anything out of the infield in the 1st inning. Granted, Ray Durham’s single ended up in right field after glancing off the mitt of Dee Lee. If this keeps up, it will be a good evening.

The Cubs’ batters continue driving balls to the outfield in the 2nd, including Jim Edmond’s which sails over the fence for four bases. Cubs lead 1-0.

The Brewers find the long ball in the 2nd, including Jason Kendall’s RBI double over Alfonso’s head. Wake up, Alfonso. Game is tied 1-1.

In the 3rd, Suppan, looking very impressive, strikes out the side (Dee Lee, ARam and Hoffpauir) after allowing a single to Fontenot.

Dee Lee turned a beautiful 3-6-3 double play in the 3rd. You gotta admire that play.

I’m looking for Carlos Zambrano to come in from the bullpen in a couple of innings.

Am I the only one who’s tired of hearing about “Fred and Ethyl Mertz’s 45th Wedding Anniversary” type announcements during the game? Geez, Louise!

**GAME CHANGING PLAY ALERT** In the 4th, Hoffpauir loses his footing in right field, turning an out into a double for JJ Hardy. Oops. I hope he didn’t hurt himself on the slip.

Mike Fontenot is 3 for 3 so far tonight. Alfonso is 0 for 3 so far. Ryan Theriot is 2 for 2 so far. Maybe Soriano should not be batting in the lead off position.

**SECOND GAME CHANGING PLAY ALERT** In the 5th, Hoffpauir singles with 2 outs, placing Fontenot on 3rd. But Micah tries to take 2nd and he’s thrown out, ending the inning. So I guess he didn’t hurt his leg on the slip in right field. Maybe he rattled his brain, though. Then again, he wasn’t out by much at 2nd. So we’ll give Hoffpauir an “A” for aggressive base running, but he gets an “F” for f***ing up.

Soto gets pulled during his 6th inning at bat. He was wincing in pain while swinging at a pitch. Oh, man, we don’t need Geovany hurt. Oh man. Koyie Hill replaces Soto. Koyie fans. The next batter, Jim Edmonds, singles but is put out trying to steal 2nd base. He was out by a mile. Did Theriot miss a hit and run sign? Or what?

In the Brewers’ 6th, with Sean Marshall pitching, another fly ball to left sails over Alfonso’s head. We’ll call it a double for Ray Durham. Nice play, Alfonso. How’s the vacation going? Marshall walks Ryan Braun, and then makes Price Fielder look pretty uncoordinated as he goes down swinging.

Replacing Sean Marshall with 1 out in the 6th, Jeff Samardzija is throwing at 98 mph. Corey Hart slaps a fly to left. Too bad Alfonso is moving like a snail tonight. He casually watches the ball drop in front of him for an RBI single. That’s three hits so far he maybe should have had. 0 for 3 at the plate; 0 for 3 in left field (except for the gimmees). I am not, at this moment, in the Alfonso Soriano fan club.

Leading off the Cubs’ 7th and pinch hitting, my man, Kosuke Fukudome, does not distinguish himself. A dribbler back to the mound? Well, at least he doesn’t strike out like the next two batters, Alfonso and Fontenot, do.

Alfonso is now 0-4 at the plate. Maybe Soriano will step it up next week in the playoffs. Maybe.

Brewers 7th inning. Chad Gaudin pitching. Great play by Theriot. Then, catcher’s interference. Balk. Single. Three run homer to left. Brewers lead 5-1. Pick off. Double off the wall. Carlos Marmol steps in and puts out the fire.

Cubs 3 up and 3 down in the 8th. Seth McClung is looking very impressive, tonight.

And Carlos Marmol is looking pretty good himself tonight. He faces 5 batters and gets 4 outs.

Going into the top of the 9th, McClung has the Cubs 9 up and 9 down since entering the game in the 6th inning. (Jim Edmonds singled but was put out trying to reach 2nd on a blown hit and run.) Now it’s 10 up and 10 down. 11 up and 11 down. Ryan Theriot draws a walk.

Darlye Ward comes in to pinch hit with 2 out and a man on 1st. I have a very bad feeling about this. And the mighty Casey has struck out.

Looking back on it, I think the momentum of this game totally changed in the 4th inning when Micah Hoffpauir slipped in right field and turned an out into a double for JJ Hardy. No runs scored in the inning. In fact, the other 3 batters were all put out, including two Ks. But, for me, somehow the momentum shifted. I can’t explain it.

The Cubs now have about 96 hours to “get a grip”, or this is going to be a very short postseason.

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A Moral Dilemma

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Hypothetically speaking, say you were to get lucky and score tickets for a Cubs playoff game. You got them for face value, and they’re damn good seats. You’ve never seen the Cubs live during the playoffs, and you think this may be the year.

Then you open up the paper and read a story on how much these tickets are going for on eBay and Stubhub, and you could stand to make chunk of change. You’re not in financial straits, but extra cash never hurt. It a moral dilemma of proposterious dimension. A blue blooded Cub fan that can’t decide if being part of history would be as nice as sizable bump in the bank account.

What would you do? Sell the tickets? Or go to the game?

By the way, they’re for game five of the NLDS. Let’s hope the Cubs make my decision easier, and just win in three or four.

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The Tale of Theriot

Friday, September 26th, 2008

A recent thread once again brought up the greatness of Ryan Theriot. I have been meaning to do something like this for awhile, so I guess it is time.

Below is a look at where Ryan Theriot stands offensively and defensively in comparison to other every day shortstops in the National League. The numbers below will pretty clearly show that Ryan Theriot, is, in fact, below average both offensively and defensively.

Now… this does not mean that I dislike Ryan Theriot, or that he does not have place on this Cubs team. I believe that he does, and has played a good role for the Cubs. I just believe that many, many people extremely overrate what he brings to this team, and I show why.

Defensively

Out of 11 qualifying NL SS’s, Theriot is:

  • 7th in Fielding %
  • 11th in Range Factor
  • 8th in Zone Rating
  • 10th in RZR (which has 12 qualifiers)
  • 12th in OOZ, which doesn’t have qualifiers

Baseball Prospectus gives Theriot a 98 in their Rate2 stat, where 100 is average.
Offensively

Theriot has an OPS+ of 93. That, by definition, is below average. For those of you who do now know, OPS+ is “OPS normalized for both the park and the league the player played in,: with 100 being the average. Out of 9 qualifying NL SS’s, Theriot is:

  • 8th in OPS
  • 9th in total bases
  • 7th in runs created
  • 8th in Gross Production Average
  • 10th (of 11) in Equivalent Average
  • 8th (of 11) in EQR
  • 10th (0f 11) in RAR
  • 10th (0f 11) in RAP
  • 8th (of 11) in RARP
  • 9th in VORP

Theriot is 7th in total Win Shares (batting & fielding combined), and 7th in batting and 9th in fielding. Of course, a player on a winning team will have more win shares. Now, one commentator thought that it would be good to compare Derek Jeter and Ryan Theriot. I am not going to touch their defenses, because they are both at the bottom defensively, but lets look offensively at their numbers this year. Of course, it is important to remember that Derek Jeter is having his worst year since 1997.

(“winners” in bold)

  • OPS:Theriot – 737, Jeter – 773
  • OPS+: Theriot – 93, Jeter – 106
  • Runs Created: Theriot – 75, Jeter – 88
  • Gross Production Average: Theriot – .253, Jeter – .269
  • Win Shares: Theriot -13 , Jeter – 16
  • EQA: Theriot – .260, Jeter – .275
  • EQR: Theriot – 71.8, Jeter – 85.2
  • RAR: Theriot – 19.1, Jeter – 30.6
  • RAP: Theriot – 4, Jeter – 14.6
  • RARP: Theriot – 22.8, Jeter – 34.1
  • Theriot – 25.2, Jeter – 38.9

Theriot, in his best year, is nowhere close to Jeter, who is having his worst year of his career. Jeter is pretty significantly better in each category.

Let me be very clear. I do not dislike Ryan Theriot. I just do not think that he is a great baseball player, or an All-Star, or the Cubs MVP, or anything like that. He is a role player, and an average one at best. And he simply does not compare to Derek Jeter.

Oh … and more fun one. People around here hate Derrek Lee, mostly for reasons not known to me. But one reason is because Derrek Lee’s propensity for double plays this year. Would you believe it if I told you that Ryan Theriot grounds into double plays at a higher rate (18.1%) in double play situations than Derrek Lee does (17.0%).

But go ahead and keep bashing Derrek Lee and praising Ryan Theriot. Maybe my next post will be comparing those two.

NOTE: If you would like explanations/definitions of these stats, go to:

  • B-R (OPS+)
  • THT (Win Shares, Runs Created, Gross Production Average)
  • Baseball Prospectus (EQA, EQR, RAR, RAP, RARP)
  • ESPN (Fielding %, Range factor, Zone rating)
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