27 April 2011

Miguel Tejada is the Rock That Keeps Tigers Away

Tom Verducci is known to take a good idea and then grease up every bit of fact to wedge them into his good idea.  He has done it before, quite famously, with the Verducci Effect.  The Verducci Effect states that pitchers are likely to get injured or become ineffective if they suffered an increase of innings pitched greater than 30 from year to year before they turn 25.  The concept is sound.  However, the data has not been entirely useful.  Understanding the variation between arms, 30 innings are likely to be an overly arbitrary number.  A similar instance also known would be Pitcher Abuse Points (PAP) as they do not correlate with pitching injury well.  Again, just because the numbers do not entirely support these concepts does not invalidate these concepts.  Moreso, it means that it is difficult whether or not there is an effect due to so many confounding factors.

Another pet project of Verducci is his love of how age performance curves may have changed after MLB instituted stricter drug testing.  In today's column Verducci writes:
There is no doubt Jeter and Tejada are struggling enough that their managers will face questions about where they bat in the order and how many days of rest they should be afforded. But guess what: This is what life used to be like for 37-year-old middle infielders. All of us have to recalculate what should be expected of players as they age through their late 30s.
That is a pretty foolish statement to make.  Just because Jeter and Tejada are doing poorly, are old, and you have a hypothesis . . . it does not necesarrily mean it is a good idea to lump them together.  Verducci fails here because he makes an assumption that there were actually 37 year old middle infielders who were good.  It just has never been so.

So, how many seasons has a 37 year old or older SS produced a WAR greater than 2?

Under Verducci's statement, we would assume that his carefully researched piece would indicate that a large proportion of those 19 season performances happened in the 2000s.  Here they are by year:

Bill Dahlen, 1908 3.9 WAR
Honus Wagner, 1911 7.2
Honus Wagner, 1912 8.1
Honus Wagner, 1913 2.9
Honus Wagner, 1914 2.7
Honus Wagner, 1915 4.5
Rabbit Maranville, 1929 2.3
Luke Appling, 1946 5.3
Luke Appling, 1947 3.8
Luke Appling, 1949 4.6
Pee Wee Reese, 1956 2.5
Maury Wills, 1971 2.0
Luis Aparicio, 1973 2.3
Larry Bowa, 1983 2.7
Ozzie Smith, 1992 4.3
Ozzie Smith, 1993 2.5
Mike Bordick, 2003 2.1
Omar Vizquel, 2004 3.1
Omar Vizquel, 2006 3.1

As you can see clearly, there is not some amazing boost to the presence of useful, old shortstops in baseball in the 2000s.  This sort of thing happens a couple times each decade and usually happens with a rather unique individual.  The fact that there is not likely going to be an average 37 year old or older SS this year in baseball is not exactly a useful piece of evidence.

Best bets to cross the 2.0 WAR threshold this decade?
2011-2012 Derek Jeter
2013 Marco Scutaro
2015 Rafael Furcal


Mike said...

I read Verducci's article and thought the same thing, particularly the useless chart that he provided.

Also, on a side note: You have the most thought-provoking orioles site out there. Its a shame there aren't more comments.

Jon Shepherd said...

Thanks Mike. I appreciate your comments. I try to think about and then write things I do not see elsewhere. Hopefully, I keep it going.

I think you might be pleased to hear that if everything goes to plan...we will be increasing content two to three fold in the next couple weeks.