Friday, July 09, 2004

The Hardball Times

First I want to say that The Hardball Times has a lot of informative and enjoyable articles. But like most other media that covers baseball, it is way too focused on the Yankees, Red Sox and Twins.

Okay, maybe that last team isn't exactly overexposed in most media outlets. But Twins baseball sure does take up a lot of bandwindth on the internet. This is due to some popular sites like Twins Geek and Seth Speaks, but mostly due to Aaron Gleeman.

Since Gleeman has started penning articles for The Hardball Times his style of writing has been nearly identical to the pieces he published on his blog. Unfortunately, so is the content.

Now if this was any other team I wouldn't care that much, but the Twins are turning into the Sox's biggest rivals. So the last thing I want to read each day is how great Joe Mauer is going to be or how Johan Santana is the best pitcher in the AL.

But more bothersome are the constant jabs at the White Sox. Today he had this to say:

Konerko is having a nice year, sure, but he currently ranks just 9th among American league 1B/DH in Win Shares Above Average (WSAA).

Just looking at Konerko's offense, he trails David Ortiz (who made the AL team) and Travis Hafner (who didn't) by about 20% in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) and trails ... brace yourself ... Frank Thomas by nearly 25%. Throw in the fact that Konerko was awful last season (.234/.305/.399 in 137 games) and I don't see what the big fuss is about. Clearly The Big Hurt is not an avid THT reader, because he'd know to save his expletive-laced tirades for a good cause, like Bobby Abreu.

Now I'm not sure how many stats Gleeman looked for before finding ones that fit his argument that Konerko wasn't deserving of a spot on the All-Star team. In fact he gets the VORP wrong. He states that Ortiz and Hafner have a VORP 20% higher than Konerko while Frank Thomas has one 25% higher. Now I know Gleeman is very capable at statistics so maybe he is looking at a different numbers, but here are the numbers I see in the link:

Frank .509
Hafner .495
Ortiz .449
Konerko .445

So Konerkerko is about 15% below Frank and Hafner and pretty much even with Ortiz. Oh, and the other three mainly play DH. Konerko actually leads AL 1B in this category.

I mean the category is 1B right? So guys who actually spend most their time playing it should get consideration before a player like Hafner who has spent all of 36 AB at the position.

But the most compelling arguments for considering Konerko for All-Star spot are not found in the stats that Gleeman produces but rather in the ones that he conveniently leaves out. I mean, Win Shares and Replacement Values aren't the first stats I look at when I want to see who is worthy of All-Star status.

Konerko is 9th in the AL in OPS, 3rd highest as a 1B if you include Thomas & Ortiz.

Kornerko is 7th in the league in slugging %, again 3rd highest as a 1B if you include Thomas & Ortiz.

Konerko is 6th in the AL in Home Runs.

Konerko is 4th in the league in IsoP.

Obviously, there is a strong case to made for Konerko to be on the All-Star team. I can only assume Gleeman ignored these stats because of his strong dislike for the White Sox.

But unless Gleeman wants to become a lawyer instead of a journalist, he should present all the facts, not just the ones that fit his argument. Now I have no problems with people who cherry pick facts on a blog dedicated to their favorite team. But I assumed The Hardball Times was more of a journalistic enterprise and would have higher standards.