Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Taking a closer look at ESPN’s SportsNation Braves vs. Giants Poll Questions

On ESPN's SportsNation they have a bunch of polls up about the different division series matchups. The questions about the Braves and Giants raise some interesting questions (and not just because of the questionable stats used).

So let's take a closer look:

Question 1:

Who had the better rookie season? Jason Heyward (.849 OPS, .270 BA, 18 HR, 72 RBI) or Buster Posey (.862 OPS, .305 BA, 18 HR, 67 RBI).

At first glance this looks like a very close matchup but you must also remember that Heyward played 34 more games then Posey did due to starting the season with the big club. In my mind that makes Posey's counting stats more impressive if you take his current rate and project them to 623 PA that Heyward had you get this line:

Posey: .305 BA, 25 HR, 32 2B, 94 RBI

Having done that there are still a number of areas where Heyward has excelled over Posey, primarily the ability to get on base. Heyward nearly pulled off an amazing feat for a rookie posting an OBP of .393! He had nearly a walk for every strikeout which is an amazing skill for a rookie who is just breaking into the league.

I could go either way with this one, but in the end I lean toward Posey for putting up very similar offensive numbers while playing a much harder defensive position.

So America is voting with me but this to me could go either way, I think that they are swayed by the stats posted here where it is favorable to Posey.

Question 2:

Which closer is better? Billy Wagner or Brian Wilson.

Talk about a crap shoot. These 2 guys are both extremely good and amazing well matched statistically.

Take a look:

Billy Wagner: 69.1 IP, 13.50 K/9, 2.86 BB/9, 0.65 HR/9, FIP 2.10, 0.89 WPA, 37 SV, 7 BS, 2.2 WAR

Brian Wilson: 74.2 IP, 11.21 K/9, 3.13 BB/9, 0.36 HR/9, FIP 2.19, 4.14 WPA, 48 SV, 5 BS, 2.7 WAR

The other thing is that both of these guys have hard fastballs 95.6 mph and 95.9 mph respectively, which hitters swing and miss at high rates.

You really couldn't go wrong with either of these guys anchoring a bullpen but I think again that I lean toward Wilson who has shown that this season he can consistently go longer then just 1 inning and he excels in the high leverage situations.

America is leaning the other way and I can't say that they are wrong. Wagner has been a very good pitcher I just think that Wilson has done more in higher pressure situations and that sways my vote.

Question 3:

Who is a more valuable player? Omar Infante (No. 2 in NL BA, No. 80 in NL WAR) or Andres Torres (No. 7 in NL WAR, No. 41 in NL BA)

Well first and foremost the fact that Torres rates 73 places higher in Wins Above Replacement should be a significant boost in why he's a much more valuable player but we can look deeper.

Omar Infante: .321/ .359/ .416, 15 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 7 SB, 2.8 WAR

Andres Torres: .268/ .343/ .479, 43 2B, 8 3B, 16 HR, 26 SB, 6.0 WAR

When you look beyond the fact that Infante has a batting average that is 50 points higher you see that Torres just about beats him in every other category. Even with a 50 point lead in batting average he only has a 16 point gap in OBP and he trails in everything else. If you look a little further at the wOBA Torres has the lead.

If you look further beyond the hitting numbers you see that Torres is again vastly superior. In the outfield Torres is an elite defender with a UZR on the season of 21.5 compared to Infante who plays all over but is average overall with a UZR for the season of -0.1. On top of that Torres also adds quite a bit of value with his speed on the base paths.

Compared to the other questions this one is not really close at all after a deeper look. Torres is a much more valuable player.

I think that America is crazy here. This shouldn't be close at all and I think that it is because of the numbers they chose to present along with the question. Batting average only tells part of the story of a players value, sure Infante has excelled at getting singles but that is about it. Torres gets on base at nearly the same rate, hits for much more power, has better speed and has an elite glove in the outfield. It shouldn't be close, America I am disappointed.

Question 4:

Which Manager is better? Bobby Cox or Bruce Bochy.

I am not sure exactly how to go to much deeper here. Just on the top of my mind both skippers I am sure have made some questionable decisions and some brilliant decisions. In the end though I still don't think that a manager has that much impact on how good a team will be over the course of the season the magnitude is probably only a 2-3 wins either way.

In a short playoff series the difference is probably not that big of a deal. Both guys probably follow the traditional wisdom of baseball and look at small sample sizes and try to make decisions. So really it is probably a wash.

If I had to choose between the two I would lean toward Cox but I do like that Bochy isn't a big sacrifice bunter and he seems to manage the pitching staff well.

Again I vote with America (and it isn't close, as of this writing Cox takes every state in the country and has the lead by a wide margin) but my opinion on this is not that strong maybe someone else can fight the good fight on who is more deserving.

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