Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Help at 2b???

I was just thinking. With the Astros, for all intents and purposes, out of it, do you think the Sox would make a run for Biggio to play 2b? He's still got some pop in his bat and is a pretty good fielder. It would give them another veteran very hungry for a ring, and someone who is consistently not striking out...

I haven't looked in to his salary, but if they are looking for a bat (and not looking to log jam a position any further) than Biggio might be the guy...



  1. I'm not sure about that one. I mean Biggio does have more pop in his bat. But Bellhorn's OBP is the same as Biggio. And when Bellhorn was really effective last year (in the 2 hole, scoring lots and lots of runs), it was the OBP that really matters. we don't need the pop with Manny and Papi coming up behind him.

    I would much rather see them shore up the pen than waste even the lowest prospect on Biggio.

    Plus Biggio would have to agree to any trade. And he may want to try to get a ring, but he may, may increase his HOF credentials by being a "all my career in HOU guy" riding in togehter with Bagwell in the summer of 2011.

  2. "Pedro plunked Biggio on May 1, 1997 and has a bit of a reputation for throwing at batters. But, he's only 6th among active pitchers in career hit batsmen, with 116. And, 16 of those were Yankees, so who could blame him? Pedro and Greg Maddux are the only pitchers who have hit Craig Biggio with a pitch and gone on to win the Cy Young award in the same year (but Maddux did it twice, in '93 and '94)."

  3. X, I agree with the pop, but you could then move Renteria down in the order where he might also be more comfortable.

    If Schilling comes back we will be adding another arm to the pen (either Arroyo or Wake) giving us a long man out there in case of bad starts...I think Embree is showing signs of improving, and Foulke has been better lately. Any thoughts that we might go after Guardado? I could see with his team sucking, a good chance of the Sox looking at him as another option and a good fit.

    I do think that we need better pitching, no doubt, just thought of Biggio as a possible "rental" for the rest of the year.

    Also, Earl, no idea what your post meant...just the way I like it...

  4. I guess I see it like this:

    Going in to the second half of the season, which would you rather see - us hit better or pitch better?

    If you are counting on Schilling to be the savior and on Foulke to yurn up okay, then we can start trying to improve am offense that is currently 3rd in the AL in runs scored a whopping 4 runs behind Texas. While our pitching is the 3rd worst in the AL - even worse than the Yanks.

  5. Yea I agree. I'd really like to see us make a move at some guy that basically did "ok" as a starter but would be a good mid-reliever for us. I can't really think of anyone off the top of my head, but I am sure there is a guy out there.

    Either that or go get a real gun that we could plug in to the starting rotation and use Arroyo and Wake to mix things up.

  6. Yeah... I gotta say, if the Sox make only one move, it's got to be for pitching. In an ideal world (at least, in my ideal world) the Sox deal for a solid SP an shift Wake to the pen, solidifying both. But 2B... Bellhorn is struggling, but he's still right arond average in terms of 2B around the majors when you look at his OPS. He gets bad press due to the K's, but that's pretty unwarranted. Plus, theamount we'd have to give up for a guy like Biggio is just not worth it for what would amount to a half-year of production. Add to that the fact that Biggio's power numbers are inflated by the Astros home park (Biggio has a .349 SLG on the road this year, while Bellhorn's Rad SLG is .430) and I'd have to say no thanks.

  7. K's from Bellhorn are getting far too much hype. sure he leads the league (majors), but he at least is not grounding into DPs. I'd rather have the K. Plus he is among (if not the) leaders in number of pitches per AB. A very underrated statistic. In most cases I would rather see 7 pitches and K than have a fly deep to the track on the second.

  8. Watch it X. As we were debating Bellhorn during last year's ALCS, I mentioned his lack of GIDP. Guess what he did 2 hours later...I bet you just jinxed him again. there's a guy who doesn't hit into double plays, nosiree....

  9. yeah he has 11 already. ugh.

  10. Renteria seems to do everything in bunches this year... hits, GIDP, errors... I can' wait for his grand slam run.

  11. Oh, and that plunkbiggio site? That's pure brilliance.

  12. No GIDP for Bellhorn. Thank goodness. And a HR for Renteria. And Foulke, again, not making it look easy.

    Not sure how plunkbiggio came in to my book reviewbook review:

  13. Hey, I was just throwing something out there...

    I was also thinking that the Yankees might be showcasing Cano (although if they were smart they'd keep him). Knowing the Biggio is in his last year in Houston (and Houston will be looking for a replacement), the Yankees might try to get Clemens by dealing Cano and $$$. Houston, therefore, might be willing to part with Biggio for a lot less than it seems.

    I will try to take a look and see at some of our old exchanges, but I believe that we figured out that the Ks (and # of double plays) Bellhorn had last year was not impressive.

    This argument comes from saying that if he puts the ball in play that he might ground in to a double play. He might also hit a single, or a double, triple, home run or a sac fly. He might ground in to a fielder's choice or any number of things. Those are all just as likely. Can someone explain this whole leaning toward the GIDP thing to me? The guys creates a lot of useless outs. He also walks a lot which, granted, is good, but also doesn't score the guy from second or third. I think in the end it all balances out, but I would rather have a guy who makes contact more often up there. The reason? It makes the fielders have to make choices. If a guy rarely makes contact, a middle-infielder doesn't have to worry about the hit and run. Therefore, there is less of a chance for a hole to open. AND, you can't put slower runners in motion because chances are you are then in a strike 'em out throw 'em out double play.

  14. "a middle-infielder doesn't have to worry about the hit and run. "

    They already don't when they are playing the Sox. Even with Renteria Terry won't hit and run.

    I was thinking some of that might change this year, but obviously not.

  15. The Bellhorn thing is this: Strikeouts are generally much more looked down upon that your average out, but they really aren't any more damaging, and in fact might be slightly LESS damaging. So, when I see people complain about Bellhorn's K's... if all of those K's had been regular outs, I don't think he'd get that level of criticism. The strikeout is sort of looked at as an unmanly act, like he couldn't even try. Bellhorn is one of the absolute most selective hitters in the game; he generally doesn't swing at bad pitches, and his BA when he puts the ball in play is .400. Other than that, he walks and strikes out, and his OBP is better than most other 2B's. Personally, he can strike out as much as he likes as long as he gets on base at a good clip; how you make the outs is statistically insignificant. My problem with Bellhorn this year is his woeful SLG. Last year, when he was hitting for power, he was THE BEST offensive 2B in the AL. The BEST. Despite all those K's, he had a higher OPS than every other AL 2B. The only reason he doesn't this year is because his slugging is down, not because he's striking out.

  16. And, the whole productive out thing... notice how you don't hear about it from anyone but fans anymore? That's because the announcers needed a way to use the 2002 Angels to attack statheads, so they invented a stat. You heard about 'productive outs' basically for the 2002-2003 offseason, and then never again. That's because in the end, most productive outs, unless they actually score a run, decrease a team's chances of scoring at any given time.

  17. Then why do they have pitchers in the NL try to bunt someone over instead of having them strike out? I'd rather have a ball hit to the right side (with a runner on second) or a sac bunt or fly out (sac fly) instead of a K. I don't look at a K as unmanly.

    I think, as a hitter, it is just as much your job to move runners along as it is to hit. A "k" definitely does not do that.

    Take Bellhorn out of this equation. Make it about anyone. I always hear the argument that if someone strikes out that, at least, they aren't hitting in to a double play. I think that's a bad argument. Any other conclusion is just as likely (hit, walk, error, etc...).

    I do think there are productive outs. I think there are unproductive outs. I know Bill James tried to show that this is not the case, but stats aren't everything (and you can bend stats to prove just about whatever you like). If someone tells me that a "k" (an out) is as productive as a sac fly (an out), they're nuts...If someone is going to tell me that moving a runner to second or third with a ground ball or fly out with less than two outs is the same as a "k", same conclusion. It changes the way the defense has to play. It changes the way the pitcher has to pitch. It puts pressure on the defense and gives more options to the next hitter.

    I wonder if there is a stat that shows the OBP of hitters following a runner moving in to scoring position.

    How many times have you seen a leadoff runner get on, the next guy K and the next guy gidp? If the second guy moves the runner up it forces the defense to pitch to the next hitter (without much risk of a double play), with a runner in scoring position, or walk the guy (putting two guys on)...

    It does make a difference. More things can happen when you put the ball in play.

  18. There are 'productive' outs. A sac fly, or a grounder that scores a runner, etc. But in terms of probability, over the course of a season, it's been proven many times over that a contact out and a strikeout are virtually identical in terms of probability of scoring. the reason for this is primarily GIDP: any one double play so dramatically decreases the probability of scoring, by removing a baserunner and adding two outs, that it negates a lot of the scoring potential of moving runners along. I understand that it's frustrating to see a runner on 3rd with one out and have a guy K, but a contact does not necessarily score that runner anyway. Yes, stats can be "used to show anything", but no one who works with stats has ever shown that strikeouts are significantly worse than a normal out. Now, obviously this varies in specific situations, but so do a lot of things in small sample sizes. With a decent sample size, stikeouts have been shown to actually save a miniscule number of runs. If you'd like, I can give you links.

    Pitchers are a different issue with this, because - to put it bluntly - pitchers suck. The bunt is essentially, for a pitcher, an admission that the chances that a pitcher gets a hit are so small that a bunt is a smarter play (interestingly, there have been studies that show that even in those situations, it's not conclusive that bunts are any 'better' than having a pitcher swing away). Bottom line is, people put WAY too much emphasis on productive outs. They represent such a small percentage of events as compared to anything else that they become, if not statistically insignificant, then not very significant. This is an instance where your eyes lie. In any given situation, yes, a productive out would be great. But swinging away can produce a lot of results, and not all of them are either a hit, a productive out, or a K. So, no, moving a runner to 2nd or 3rd with a productive out is not the same as a K, but you're not comparing the right things. You should be comparing the difference between a K and a contact out, one which may or may not move that runner along. And there are dangers in those outs: pop-outs, line outs, double play balls, etc. You're right, more things can happen when you put the ball in play, but not all of them are good, and the probabilities remain highly similar.

  19. Then why do they have pitchers in the NL try to bunt someone over instead of having them strike out?

    Because pitchers suck at hitting. If they're an automatic out, you might as well make something of it.

    Bellhorn, on the other hand, does not suck at hitting, and is not an automatic out. His .400 BA with balls put in play, and his .400 OBP with RISP are both phenomenal. If it takes a whole bunch of K's for him to do that, so be it.

  20. Here are a few good articles on this subject, jut a few of the things that turned up with a quick google search:

    Larry Mahnken on produtive outs
    Jeff at Mariners blog Leone for Third
    Fourth Outfielder, a Dogers blog, on Three True Outcomes players.

    These are all three pretty solid. There are a ton more, but many are behind subscription services, or ones that I just didn't find in my cursory googling.

  21. At the risk of being argumentative...I just like discussing this point, if you must know.

    Yes, over the course of the season, things may average out according to stats. One double play in a 7-1 game that you are winning may pull down other good things that you have done, like 2 sac flies, a double that scores a winning run, and something else. That is what I am saying about stats. They aren't always situational. The opposite could occur. You hit a sac fly up 15 runs. Now you are up 16...Big deal. Stats are stats. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't...

    I think that the job of a hitter is to move runners along in any way that you can. Any at bat in which you fail to gain a base or move an existing runner along is a failed at bat. Bellhorn has a lot of these (as do many others)...I don't think that you can overlook the Ks.

    In this scenario a ground out (not advancing a runner) and a strike out are the same. But, runner on second or third, ground ball to the right side that moves the runner along and a strikeout are not the same.

    Earl, yes, most pitchers suck at hitting, but bunting the ball in to play definitely could lead to a double play. It happens...But, the payoff for the risk is worth it. Any bunt not right at someone more than likely results in the lead runner moving along.

    All other stats aside...Bellhorn aside. Would you rather have a guy that strikes out a ton or someone who consistently makes contact and puts the ball in play?

    I just think the constant swing and miss type limits you in terms of strategy.

  22. "All other stats aside...Bellhorn aside. Would you rather have a guy that strikes out a ton or someone who consistently makes contact and puts the ball in play?"

    That, to me, is an incomplete question. Aaron Boone has hardly struck out this year. Neither has Jim Thome. We criticize Bellhorn for striking out, but Ortiz is in the top 10 and we talk about him as a potential MVP.

  23. By the way, I am not comparing Productive outs against Ks here. I am comparing putting the ball in play against Ks...There is a big difference.

    I am not thrashing Bellhorn. I am just trying to make the point that "not hurting" the team by striking out is a weak argument. He's "not helping" the team by striking out.

    Putting the ball in play could result in an out, a double play or a triple play. It could also result in a single, double, triple, homer, sac fly, error, fielder's choice (moving the runner or not) and probably some others I am not thinking of. ALSO, to consistently not be able to put the bat on the ball you take away any threat of a hit and run allowing the defense to not think of that as an option.

    And with the argument that Bellhorn hits 400 when he puts the ball in play...That kind of backs up this theory.

    Again, ball in play versus Ks, not productive outs versus Ks.

  24. "not be able to put the bat on the ball you take away any threat of a hit and run"

    Again, we are talking about the Red Sox.

  25. I love the 'stats are just numbers' line whenever a statistical argument is advanced. Yeah, stats are just stats... and observation is just observation. The dismissal of statistical evidenc simpl has to be better than just saying 'numbers can say anything'.

    "I think that the job of a hitter is to move runners along in any way that you can."

    Correct, but incomplete. The job of a batter is to score runs, either by mans of getting on base themselves, or by doing something that puts an existing runner across the plate. Contact is one way of doing this in many situations, and obviously contact as a whole is better than striking out. No one's saying it isn't. What you're arguing is that strikeouts are worse than a regular out, which is simply not true. You can name a situation where it is, and I can name a situatin where it isn't; this isn't an ither or thing. When someone steps to the plate with a runner on third and one out, of course I'd love to see produtive contact. No one saying contact is a 'bad' thing. What you're missing in this is that similarly, strikeouts are not a 'bad' thing, as compared to other forms of outs. No, Bellhorn's not 'helping the team' by striking out, but neither would he be if those strikeouts were all contact outs. He helps the team when he gets on base, either by walking or by collecting a hit, which he does t a very solid frequency.

    Basically, the whole strikeouts vs. contact outs argument misses the forest for the trees. We're obessed with outs to a certain degree, and lose focus on the getting on base aspect. The number of imes, ad the amount, that Bellhorn could help his team by making a contact out, or hurt his team by striking out (or vice versa on both counts) is so miniscle in comparison to his ability to help his team by getting on basethat it borders on ridiculos how much attention is given to that facet of his game. Mark Bellhorn currently ranks 21st in the majors in on base percentage. 21st. He ranks second among all 2b's. Te fact that he strikes out a lot, when compared the the fact that he gets on base a lot, is tremendously insignificant. Even if he were to make contact outs with all of those K's - that is, never strike out but still have the same rate stats - virtually nothing would have changed in terms of hs production. Or the teams. Yes, it's possible that he struck out with a man on third in a tie game instead of hitting a sac fly, and that man - who would have scored - didn't. It's also possible that he struck out in a tie game with a runner on first instead of hitting into an inning-ending DP, and that man - who wouldnot have scored - did. It's also possible that he truck out when he would have popped it up, or lined to the third baseman who doubled off the runner, or any number of ways in which he could ake an out but fail to score the runner.

    The most reliable way of scoring runs is by having a bunch of guys who get on base, not by having a bunch of guys who make outs a certain strategically good times. And those few times where it would make a difference one way or another are a) sttistically insignificant due to their low frequency, or b) cancel each other out.

  26. If Bellhorn had 47 RBIs and the capacity to hit 40+ homers like Ortiz, you're right, we probably wouldn't be having this argument. Bellhorn's projected RBI total isn't even 47 for the year...That is why Ortiz is a candidate for MVP. He produces a ton of runs for this team. Last time I looked Bellhorn wasn't.

    Thome, has 40+ strikeouts and has K'd over 30% of his at bats. The reason his total of Ks seem low is because he's missed about 12 or 13 games.

    I like Bellhorn, don't get me wrong. I think he's great at turning two, but I would also like to see him move more runners along, get the RBI totals up, etc...

  27. Also, regarding this:

    "And with the argument that Bellhorn hits 400 when he puts the ball in play...That kind of backs up this theory."

    It actually doesn't. Bellhorn hits that high because he is extremely selective about the balls he akes contact on. Free swingers tend to have a lower number there, because tey're swinging at and making contact with more bad pitches, resulting in more outs. His high BABIP is directly tied to his hih K and walk ratios.

    Which brigs me to quoted point 2:

    "Again, ball in play versus Ks, not productive outs versus Ks."

    I said in the last cmment that you can't compare these two, but let's say that we do. The comparison, then, is between those ties when he make contact, and those times when he doesn't - including walks. Mark Bellhorn walks at a rate higher than anyone in the league this year except for three people. The reason he strikes out so much is because he is patient, he does take walks. The same is true of many high-strikeout guys. So, you're basically comparing the wrong things, twice. Either you can compare K's to contact outs, or contact PA's to non-contact PA's. But comparing contact PA's the K's is ust selective reasoning.

  28. I like Bellhorn, don't get me wrong. I think he's great at turning two, but I would also like to see him move more runners along, get the RBI totals up, etc...

    But te fact that Bellhorn strikes out has nothing to do with his RBI totals. you know what does?

    Bellhorn: .360/.365
    Ortiz: .383/.562

    Those are OBP/SLG numbers. Ortiz doesn't get RBI's by moving runners along. e gets them by collecting extra-base hits. Bellhorn this year has had a power shortage. f all the things to complain about with Bellhorn, why not look at the one that matters: the fact that he simply has not hit for power? Last year, Bellhorn struck outas much, walked as much, didn't make contact as much... and ended with 82 RBI's, mostly batting from the two hole, whichis not a huge RBI spot. He did this because last year, Mark Bellhorn slugged 80 points higher that he doing this year. (Also, he's been hitting out of the 9 spot this year, which reduces RBI).

    So, again, strikeouts in this equation are realy insignificant. If strikeouts led to no RBI's, then how did Bellhorn have 82 last year?

  29. Andrew, I see what you are saying about possibilities. I agree with you. Yes, many things can happen when the ball is in play. In the end it is a toss up. An easy ground ball gets booted, the hardest hit line drive to the gap is snagged by a fantastic play.

    I am not merely dismissing stats, though. I am just saying that they don't prove everything. Especially in a game like baseball where anything can happen on any pitch.

    The stats said that Renteria shouldn't have bunted. Then Ortiz follows him up with a game winning homer. Renteria had a higher career batting average against Ryan than Ortiz. It's just how things work out.

    I am sort of playing devil's advocate here. All of these arguments are compelling to me...I just haven't found proof positive in either direction that says one is better than the other. The problem is, as you very clearly (and well-put) showed (and I stated this just above) that anything can happen.

    I still am of the opinion that there are more possibilities on contact than on a strike out. A strike out means that is it...A ball in play is maybe just more intriguing because action is involved? There are endless possibilites? Yes, there are bad sides, too.

    Not sure what I am getting at, but I am loving all this banter about it...

  30. Me too... better this than the ranters I seem to have suddenly attracted at my place...

    in any case, I think there's something to the argument that people pay attention to K's because there's no action. Same reason walks were devalued for a long time, really. People want to see the ball hit. A guy who consistently doesn't do so is stigmatized to a certain degree; I bet if all of Bellhorn's numbers, including walks, were exactly the same, except he had league average number of K's and all hose other ones were turned into pop-outs, there'd be no one or close to no one on his case, ven though a pop out doesn't do a damn thing either. The other problem is that K's are the only kind of out that people keep stats on. You never hear that someone just broke the MLB record for pop outs in a year, because they're not listed, or separated from other outs in any way. So, strikeouts are a special case when ous are concerned; sometimes they're better than contact outs, sometimes they're worse, and - at least statistically - those two things tend to even out over any meaningful amount of time. Not to say it's annoying o see a guy standing at third while the batter K's, but how many times have you prayed fr a slumping hitter to do anything but hit a ground ball when there's a guy on first?

  31. Wait a minute. I remember in either 1986 or 1987 someone kept stats on Wade Boggs and he had some ridiculous numbers and the ones that struck me as amazing is that he only swung and missed like 35 times all year and that he only popped out on the infield something like 4 times. I forget the exact numbres, but it was mind boggling at the time.

  32. People come up with stuff like that from going through game logs (then scoresheets) for any given player. Mst sportswriters kept score at that point anyway, and could do so.

    Stats, Inc., which for forever has been the main stat-keeping organization, doesn't keep any stats like that, so it's tough o do multi-player or multi-year comparisons.

  33. Yeah, it was actually compiled by that guy who tracks the Sox and the globe prints some of his random stuff. I knew it wasn't available for all players.

    But Bogss sure did have some skills.

  34. Yeah... he was a genuinely amazing player who would have been far more appreciated in today's era thanhe was in his. He was an absolute first ballot HOFer, and I really hope that, as Gammons said recently, the Sox retire his number this summer when he's inducted.

  35. Yeah, I was thinking about Boggs and that year. That's just crazy...

    Hey, as far as pop-ups...This is a catch phrase from not too long ago...Nomar Garcia-pop-up....People were killing him about it. And that guy won back-to-back batting titles...

    I wonder if the fly out/ground out stat is out there. it must be by now...

  36. This could be our longest thread, ever.

  37. GB/FB is a stat you can find at leas on ESPN, but it doesn't go into pecifics as to type or number. I think it limits itself to outs, but I'm not sure.

  38. Hey, by the way, remember when this was about trading for Craig Biggio? :)

  39. Wow... I missed the party! As for Biggio, I think he needs to stay in the NL so that he can face Pedro a couple more times. Either that or he should come to any team in the AL East except the Sox so Clement can plunk him.

    As for the K's question, that was a fascinatating banter! In the end, it makes sense, K's aren't as bad as registering an out by getting the ball in play, especially if the batter is being selective.

    So is Bellhorn's .400 BA when putting balls into play the best measure of his selectiveness? On the surface I'd say sure. My other thought was that Bellhorn always seems to be in the hole. So what are the numbers there?

    Hole = 27%
    Ahead = 21.3%
    Even = 37.6%
    Full = 14.0%

    Doesn't look like he's making it harder for himself. What these numbers tell me is that he's patient enough to work it back to an even or full count. So how does he do with various strike counts?

    Ah... now we have something. With 2 strikes (0-2, 1-2, 2-2) Bellhorn is batting just over .100!!! This is what I find so frustrating. With Manny, Ortiz, Damon we've come to expect 2 strikes is nothing. We'll see them foul off a bunch and then hit a monster shot or in the case of Damon some one-hand flare. With Bellhorn, it has become predicatable, low-inside with any junk you've got and he'll gladly swing and miss.

    To me, this is what is a bit annoying about Bellhorn. Sure he can work the count, but he's woeful when he has to hit with 2 strikes! I am not sure if others have noticed the low and inside thing, but it would be great to see a little more discipline on Bellhorn's part to lay-off the obvious junk.

  40. Oh by the way, when batting with 3-2 Bellhorn is a whopping .08!

  41. The only other thing I can say about the Bellhorn being selective is that he swings and misses at a ton of pitches that are right down the center of the plate. I think when he puts the ball in play it goes wherever it goes. I don't think he aims it (most pros can pull or hit the other way and I think he can, too), but .400 on balls in play is just wherever the ball falls.

    I might be misunderstanding the whole point, but Dinosaur brings in an interesting point. If Bellhorn is so bad with 2 strikes then how can his selectiveness have anything to do with his .400 when in play?

    I would think he could put a lot more in play if he is so good at making contact and selecting pitches he likes to hit. Say an earlier pitch in the count that he knows he can hit somewhere...

    I don't think that argument follows what we're discussing...

    Also, Craig who???

  42. Dinosaur, by the way...I think he does lay off junk. That is why he walks so much. I think he has a great eye. You rarely see him take a strike three.

    You do see him swing and miss a ton, though.

    Down and in to lefties is the toughest pitch for them to hit. I am a rightie myself but I am told that is a blindspot for most left-handed hitters. That is probably why he misses that pitch a lot.