By Michael Jong
Coming off a disappointing Rays sweep of the Marlins, here are some links to dry those tears.
– First, let’s talk about tonight’s remedy for a losing streak, the Nationals! Tonight’s matchup features Ricky Nolasco going up against struggling former Marlin Scott Olsen, fresh off of a DL stint. As you know, the Marlins swept their games so far against the Nationals, and I suspect that today should be no different. I will however note that three of those games were late-inning thrillers that were close to the wire; in fact, in the three games in Washington, the Nationals held the lead the ninth before blowing the game. Can’t be too confident, especially against this fairly potent lineup.
– The Marlins need to stop the opponent’s running game, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Can’t say I disagree. It was hard to watch the Rays series thinking every single was going to turn into a double. Carl Crawford will get his, but when Gabe Gross is worrying you on the basepaths, maybe the Marlins pitchers should get to the plate a bit faster. Something to keep an eye on.
– This post by Jorge Costales and the corresponding reaction by Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel talk about trading Dan Uggla. Much of this discussion made me cringe. Costales used a combination of fielding percentage and range factor (more like relative range factor, as he was comparing players to the league average, though he didn’t state how well/poorly they were doing compared to league average) for his defensive evaluation, except that these numbers are inferior in statistical analysis and of course don’t give you a picture of what any of that is worth. A player would have to be atrociously bad at defense to be worth a win or so less then average, and Costales’ post doesn’t indicate a major difference between his analysis of Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla.
Ramirez has so far been about a league average shortstop according to UZR. Costales points out a declining range factor, but this early in the season fluctuations of that magnitude may be an issue of sample size. UZR has Hanley as two runs above average in range, although samples are small now for UZR as well. Where he’s always struggled has been in the error department, which shows on UZR and fielding percentage (ick). Uggla meanwhile has been horrific on the field, but from the way Costales describes it, it’s been just as bad as Hanley. Not the case, really.
Rodriguez mentions his preference of moving Bonifacio to second base instead of Chris Coghlan in case of a trade. I question that, unless the plan is to then move Coghlan to third, which is more acceptable. However, the primary reason why this trade of Uggla couldn’t go down is that the Marlins do not want to be forced to play Bonifacio anywhere. More on Costales’ post a bit later.
– Two weeks back I looked at lineup changes and how the Marlins would be affected in terms of run production, specifically moving the pitcher up to eighth in the order. I thought Baseball Musings’ simulator was overrating the total at the time. Well, Tom Tango talks here about lineup differences using values found in his invaluable The Book. The key figure: moving the pitcher up from 9 to 8 according to Tango yields two runs over the course of a season. MGL’s simulator yields a negligible result. That makes more sense to me.
– Mr. Tango also has a nice piece on why OPS isn’t a good evaluator. Actually, it’s more about not using OPS if you’re serious abotu statistical study. There’s a pretty good argument there.