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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bill Conlin might be certifiably insane

It's been quite some time since I've seen an FJM breakdown. I'm not nearly as talented as the likes of Ken Tremendous, but I definitely feel the need to give this one a shot. I mean he refers to a plural stat as if it were singular (RBI), and he refers to Ryan Howard as RH.

Here's to you, Ryan Howard

On the day after the All-Star Game was played in Phoenix without Ryan Howard, this column is directed at the haters and bashers who have been coming out of the woodwork in larger numbers than usual.

I really haven't heard many Ryan Howard haters recently. I honestly don't know what he's talking about. I listen to 610 all day at work, and these people have some of the worst outlooks on sports that I've ever heard. If they aren't critiquing Howard, who is? Usually, it's the Philly journalists pointing out Howard's terrible K totals. We know Ks generally come with the territory of power.

For the record, I don't complain about Ryan Howard. He's a pretty good baseball player, and he has very good power. He has definitely declined since his first few years when it comes to his offensive output, and has gotten better in the field. No one can argue with Howard's mediocre OBP and wOBA if you go for that thing. Well, maybe Conlin could...

They are predictable as smog in a heat wave. They pretend to be knowledgable baseball fans, but trip themselves up every time because they are dead wrong. And egregiously stupid.

I mean this is how I would appeal to my readers. I'd probably call them idiots. Yea, that's good for business. Forget the fact that he is the one who is dead wrong and stupid, just forget that. Oh, yea, sweet analogy, Bill.

I hear the reason why he was not voted into the All-Star Game by the fans - and Phillies fans basically ignored him while stuffing the ballot box for an injured Shane Victorino - is because the National League has all these great first basemen. And RH is no longer one of them ...

Shane Victorino has been more valuable to the Phillies this year in my opinion. I'll try to present my argument in an objective manner so arguments really can't be made. Victorino plays CF, undoubtedly more valuable than 1B. Victorino leads the team in OBP and SLG. How is he not more valuable than Howard? I haven't even brought up WAR.. you'll see why.

So, chew on this: Prince Fielder went to the All-Star Game and captained a Home Run Derby team that was blown out of the water by a couple of real hitters named Adrian Gonzalez and Robinson Cano, who put on one hell of a show.

Not that Fielder is chopped liver. He is, after all, tied for the league RBI lead with some slipping, already over-the-hill guy named Ryan Howard. Each had 72 at the break. Oh, and Prince did rule Tuesday night, being named MVP after his three-run homer helped the National League win, 5-1.

So Prince Fielder was the captain of some absurdly ridiculous event that happens to occur the night before the all-star game? Robinson Cano won this event. Does this mean he's a better hitter than anyone else in the contest? Does it mean he's a better power hitter? Absolutely not. Forget the fact that Cano plays a very difficult defensive position VERY well, he's not a better hitter than Adrian Gonzalez. Albert Pujols wasn't in the home run derby or all-star game either. I think we should be complaining about that.

By the way, Howard's vs. Fielder's triple slash so far this season?

Howard: .257/.353/.475
Fielder: .297/.415/.575

Yea, it's not even close.

Ready for something ridiculous? Because This statement drove me crazy...

But let me mention that Howard bats cleanup for a first-place team that leads the majors in wins and has the biggest division lead at the break in either league.

... Really? That's your argument? Michael Martinez has batted 2nd a few times this year... But in all seriousness, the Phillies are definitely in first place, and have the best record in the majors. If I asked anyone why they're in first place, I'd guarantee that I'd hear something like: Roy Halladay, or Cliff Lee, or Cole Hamels, or the starting pitching staff. I'd definitely not hear Ryan Howard. The offense has been pretty putrid. The Phillies have scored 384 runs this season. That ranks 14th in MLB. 14/30. The Phillies have allowed 295 runs. This total is by far the best in the league in 2011. 1/30. To try and use the player who bats cleanup in a league average offense when that same team has the best pitching staff in the league is just absurd. This shouldn't need much explanation.

Oh, but he's a butcher with the glove (all of four errors), clogs up the bases (as if Fielder is Michael Bourn) and is not providing close to acceptable return for the $125 million salary. (And since that contract just kicked in and he's on pace for 140 RBI, maybe you should wait a while on that.)

...blah blah blah...

Here's a typical email from a regular who has been on Howard's case since Day 1. He posted it just as the Phillies were about to explode for that 14-1 destructo of the Braves Sunday:

Placido Polanco had 6 RBIs on opening day in 2010. He was on pace for 972 RBIs. See the problem with using one game/person as a sample?

The Phillies are paying Howard more than the Sox are paying Adrian Gonzalez a professional hitter. That would be funny if it wasn't so embarrassing.

... wait, that's actually a pretty good statement. Maybe not all small samples are absurd.

I replied: ". . . There's not one (censored) player worth what he's being paid ... That's why there should be a statue of Marvin Miller in front of the MLPA headquarters."

Let's curse at our readers!!!

Just then, Howard singled home the lead run off Derek Lowe in what was still a tight game.

The emailer's reply:

Only because for some reason Lowe didn't throw a breaking ball in the dirt. He doesn't get paid to hit singles off the trademark. He's killing this team like he did in 07 09 & 10.

Andddd we're back to the ridiculously small sample size not being a good indication of things... There's also a small chance he's trying to bait Conlin.

This was the generic chant from the Tab-and-Scrapple Choir. He doesn't hit for high enough average, he never hits in the clutch (See Mike Schmidt abuse files from the 1970s). He needs to bunt or slap the ball to left against the shift. Yada, yada, yada ...

One guy even invoked the despicable, undecipherable WAR stat. That's a totally bogus acronym for "Wins Above Replacement." It presents a patentedly unsupported hypothesis that measures the "projected" performance of an "average" Triple A player called up to replace Major League regular A ...

Pretty certain he didn't even get the gist of the stat right, but to quote FJM, "here's the thing about certain stats. If you don't like them, you don't have to use them. Just don't disregard something you don't understand."

I'm laughing too hard to continue. You saw what happened last season when Howard missed 19 games with an ankle sprain and was off-form the rest of the season, yet still managed 31 homers and 108 RBI.

RBIs!!!! Not RBI.

In the words of Edwin Starr at Woodstock: "(WAR) what is it good for? Absolutely nothin.' (Hunh!)"


For the record - and I'm giving Michael Jack a pass for his dismal rookie year - in his first five full seasons after 1973, MJS averaged 34.2 homers and 99.4 RBI.

For the record, I ate 5.00 strawberries and 23.24 blueberries with my breakfast yesterday.

So let's move on to some serious power hitting by the man considered to be the greatest all-around hitter in franchise history. That would be Hall of Famer Chuck Klein.

Klein was a candle who burned briefly but brightly in his five full seasons playing in a lopsided Baker Bowl that was tilted favorably for both his lefthanded pull power and defensive prowess as a rightfielder.

So let's put Howard's first five full years up against the Great Chucker. And I'm throwing out RH's Rookie of the Year 2005 because he played in only 88 games.

Klein had a 1930 for the ages. So did the Phillies. He batted .386, but failed to win the batting title in a National League consumed by an orgy of offense. He scored 158 runs, flogged 250 hits, ripped 59 doubles, eight triples and 40 homers for a gargantuan 170 RBI. Unfortunately, that was the year when Hack Wilson drove in 190 for the Cubs.

There's nothing like comparing players from different eras. CLEARLY all of these stats are similar to ones that players today accumulate.

They must have been playing slo-pitch softball because the Phillies' team batting average was an incredible .315. That offensive juggernaut managed to lose 102 games in a 154-game schedule.

So you acknowledge that there's a huge difference here, but continue trying to compare them? Alright...

Howard is tied for the NL RBI lead despite being an island in the stream. Until Chase Utley came back after missing two months, there was a mostly inept revolving No. 3 hole in front of him and a No. 5 hole committee that underperformed.

In 1930, Klein had the best protection since the invention of the kevlar vest. He batted No. 3 with Lefty O'Doul hitting .383 in front of him. The cleanup hitter was third baseman Pinky Whitney, who batted .342.

There's been studies done to show that lineup protection isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Also, for what it's worth, I ran some numbers 2-3 years ago to try and back up what "The Book" says about the 2nd lineup spot being more important than the 3rd. That year (and this year) Victorino batted 2nd and Utley batted 3rd. Victorino's OBP was no where near as good as Utley's. One would assume that Howard would knock Victorino in more than Utley; however, this wasn't the case. This year, Victorino has the highest OBP on the team, and bats 2nd most of the time when healthy. Makes sense to me that with Victorino on base 2 slots in front of Howard that RBI opportunities would abound for the big man.

Klein was traded to the Cubs after his fifth full season:

- The Chucker drove in 693 runs for an average of 138.6.

- Howard has driven in 680 runs for an average of 136.

- The Chucker hit 180 homers for an average of 36.

- Howard has hit 229 homers for an average of 45.8.

I'd rest the defense right there, but feel compelled to add that Klein spent most of his seasons here on teams in or near last place.

I don't have to tell you where Ryan Howard has spent his five seasons.

Really?!?! This is how you're going to end this article? I mean what other way would you end a terrible article except with a terrible conclusion. That DOES make sense. You point out that Chuck Klein had very similar production to Ryan Howard while on a terrible team, and that is supposed to put Howard ahead of him? One minute you claim that lineup protection exists, and then discredit it by saying that similar stats coming from a great team signify a better player than those stats coming from a terrible team. I'm somehow more confused now than when I was halfway through the article, which I thought would be tough to do.

Alex Rodriguez started his career with the Mariners, and he had great years on a bad team. Adrian Gonzalez played for the Padres in an enormous field, put up great numbers, and again, the team sucked. These players put Howard to shame, and their teams sucked. This seems to be the same mentality (just opposite) that Murray Chass wrote about last year that was critiqued by FJM while guest posting on deadspin. In case you haven't read it, I HIGHLY SUGGEST YOU READ THIS.

For the record, 1B that I would rather have right now instead of Ryan Howard?

Albert Pujols
Adrian Gonzalez
Mark Teixeira
Kevin Youkilis
Miguel Cabrera
Prince Fielder
Joey Votto

Again, I don't hate Howard, but let's not overrate him.


hk said...

It is amazing (and/or strange) how criticism of Ryan Howard's contract extension, which has not even begun, is somehow misconstrued by certain media members as a criticism of Howard the player. when in fact, it is a criticism of the GM.

Andy Musser said...

So if Edwin Starr supporrted the Vietnam Conflict, Conlin would like sabermetrics?

Scott Graham said...

Burrell used to get criticized for the same thing, and I'd argue that his contract was better value than Howard's.

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