2013 Bold Prediction: Michael Baumann

Throughout the week, the Crashburn staff will be unveiling their bold predictions for the 2013 season.

Michael Young will make the All-Star Team.

It’s also possible that he’ll bounce back enough to be a real contributor to the Phillies this season, but that’s really a separate issue.

Young will wind up on the All-Star team for the same reason he wound up on the Phillies: third base nowadays is a yawning bunghole of irredeemable detritus from which there is neither escape nor redemption. Playing third base full-time is like being loved by Barbara Hershey in a movie. If baseball’s positions were the novels of Robert Heinlein, third base would be I Will Fear No Evil, an unpolished mess conceived and written in a fever.

The National League needs two All-Stars at third base, and as of right now, it has about six who are worth a crap: David Wright, Chase Headley, Ryan Zimmerman, Pablo Sandoval, Aramis Ramirez and David Freese. Seven if you think Hanley Ramirez isn’t moving back to shortstop. Martin Prado is also worth a crap, but he’ll probably play all over the place. Ditto Todd Frazier.

Still, that’s a bunch of third basemen, and that’s not even considering the possibility that somebody like Pedro Alvarez gets his act together. If third base had a royal line of succession and David Wright were the king, Young would still be the Hereditary Baron of Remote Exurbia. But Wright is hurt, as are Hanley and Headley. Zimmerman isn’t, but give him a couple weeks and he’ll maim himself slicing a bagel or something. He always does. Sandoval, despite having destroyed civilizations during last year’s postseason, is in the public doghouse again for being fat, as if that’s 1) a new thing that 2) has ever prevented him from being good before.

But even if that’s there’s an opening, why will it be Young, and not Frazier or Alvarez, who gets that open spot?

Michael Young is the perfect storm of overratedness. He’s a “team leader,” for one. The best way to get people to think you’re good is to have been good in the past. We don’t re-evaluate our perception of players nearly often enough, so if people thought you were good even eight or ten years ago, they’re willing to grant tremendous latitude to you now. This is the only reason why Ryan Howard is going to hit cleanup for the Phillies rather than hitting sixth and platooning with John Mayberry or Darin Ruf.

Second, Young’s value is almost entirely tied up in his batting average. He plays all around the diamond with a uniform defensive…creativity. He hits for some, but not much power and displays some, but not much patience at the plate. He steals few bases. But Young, bless his heart, will hit .300 in his sleep. And because his managers tend to foolishly play him 1) every day and 2) near the top of the lineup, he’ll be among the league leaders in hits as well.

Post a high batting average and people will think you’re good. Two years ago, Young got a first-place MVP vote despite posting a 2.1-win season on a team that included Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton and Elvis Andrus. Young is the holder of a particular meaningless hat trick of accolades: batting title, Gold Glove and hits leader. The people who make All-Star-type decisions: average fans, coaches and managers still think Young is good, even if he was never as good as they thought he was.

Third base is not the deepest position in the National League, and its luminaries don’t have a reputation for particularly robust health. Young is going to play every day, and I’d say it’s even likely that he’ll hit .300 over half a season. In fact, it wouldn’t shock me particularly if he wound up hitting .350 in June. If you make enough contact in a small enough sample size, the sky’s the limit. Even if your defense is such that posting GIFs of you giving grounders the Roger Dorn treatment has become Bill Baer’s daily bread. Because defense doesn’t matter in the All-Star game. Batting average does. Reputation does. And Young has both in abundance.

Leave a Reply

*

53 comments

  1. Cheesecrop

    March 28, 2013 05:05 AM

    By Bill Baer | @CrashburnAlley | on Mar 27, 2013

    The reason I thought it was trolling is because your tone is the same those who still cling to RBIs with every ounce of strength remaining.

    Factors that influence RBI totals: on-base percentage of hitters ahead of him, runner speed, runner base running aggressiveness, runner base running efficiency, park factors, environmental factors, randomness.

    etc., etc.,… on down the post

    ———————————————
    First off, the most obvious of the obvious: you can’t win a game unless you score a run. Why measure anything if you’re ignoring the success rate (which in essence is what all the metrics must bow down to – the success rate).

    Beyond this, though, you’ve reduced both runs & RBI’s to such random variables that it seems (to me at least) that you’re attempting to isolate the very ability to score a run. If you remove the very idea of the RBI through a hit, or a sacrifice, & then remove any other pitcher elements that a runner could utilize to make it home (wild pitch, passed ball, HBP w/sacks loaded, etc.), then you’re left w/only one thing.

    That is, for a player to steal home. When a player steals home, he’s removed all the variables from the equation, & has taken it upon himself to produce a run. It doesn’t even matter how he reached third base, since he’s pretty much re-written the whole situation as a “me against the world” scenario.

    By this logic, then, the greatest player (unquestioned) must be Ty Cobb. He holds the record for most steals of home, w/50. Stealing home would have to be The ultimate statistic above all others, if you remove the value of basic hits & RBI’s (at least their value towards scoring a run).

    I’m not attempting to argue the metrics here, so much as the logic behind them. Are you Really Sure that this is the way to go?

    Percentage stats measure how many times the player is in a given situation, but counting stats are the one’s that are winning the games (some of them, at least).

  2. Scott G

    March 28, 2013 11:27 AM

    Jimmy Rollins leads off the game and hits a double. Ben Revere hits an RBI single scoring Jimmy Rollins from second.

    1) Jimmy Rollins is credited with a run scored.
    2) Ben Revere is credited with an RBI.

    3) If Ben Revere, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard all were to have struck out, Jimmy Rollins would get “punished” with no Run scored. Is it his fault that his teammates were unsuccessful at their job? Jimmy Rollins still hit a double. He cannot control what his teammates do after him. Jimmy should receive partial credit for the run scored (he got on base, far enough so that a single scored him). Ben Revere also must be given credit for the Run scored because he got a hit.

    4) If Jimmy Rollins were to not have gotten on base, Ben Revere’s single would not have scored anyone. Would it be Ben Revere’s fault that the bases were empty? No. Jimmy Rollins should get partial credit for the RBI for being on base, and Ben Revere should receive partial credit for coming through with a hit.

    Now, Jimmy Rollins hit a double, which is better than a single. Doubles undoubtedly provide easier scoring chances for other runners than singles do. Jimmy Rollins doesn’t get an RBI for his double because of his position in the lineup. He wasn’t “lucky” enough to have anyone batting before him. In this case it was because of the fact that he was the first batter of the game. In many other cases, he misses out due to the 7,8, and 9 hitters usually being the worst quality hitters on the team. Does that make his hits less valuable because he’s the lead off man? Of course not.

    How can you say, look at Chase Utley, he had 100 singles, 40 doubles and 20 home runs. He tallied 110 RBIs! Look at Jimmy Rollins. He had 100 singles, 40 doubles, and 20 home runs, but he only tallied 80 RBIs. Chase Utley had 110 RBIs so he’s better than Jimmy Rollins because he only had 80 RBIs.

    This conversation also happens with runs: Jimmy Rollins scored 110 Runs, but Chase Utley only scored 80 runs. Jimmy was more valuable than Chase because he scored more.

    Don’t we see the faulty logic with this?

    Stats should be put in a context neutral environment because not all lineup slots provide the same opportunities, and not all team rosters have players with the same abilities.

  3. Phillie697

    March 28, 2013 11:33 AM

    Last time I checked, it’s still a team game. What counts at the end of the game is how many runs the TEAM scored, not how many runs Michael Young scored.

    Too many people take team results and try to attribute it to individual players. That’s great, we all want to do that. But guess what, a lot of other people a lot smarter than you have already done that. It’s called advanced statistics. If you can’t accept them and want to come up with your own, I can’t help you there except, well, sorry, make fun of you, unless you somehow go through the same rigorous process those people who are a lot smarter than you did with their “new fangled” statistics.

Next Article2013 Bold Prediction: Paul Boye