Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's the Age-Old Debate: Is Jon Heyman a Dufus or a Dumbass?

SI's Jon Heyman writes stupid things pretty much every week. This week he's talking about the upcoming free agent class of centerfielders, including Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter. And, in an effort to sound like he knows what he's talking about, invents a historical controversy that I'm pretty sure only he knows about:

It's the age-old debate: career vs. year. Jones is having the better career, Hunter the better year.

Career vs. year? Is this really an age-old debate? I've been a rabid baseball fan my entire life and have never heard of this debate...

Okay, okay, let's say, all other things being equal (including age, probably most importantly)...you have a choice between shelling out cash for:

A. Some 28 year-old dude who has hit 25 homeruns and 100 RBI for each of his first 6 seasons, although this season he is "underperforming" at 20 homeruns and 85 RBI


B. Some 28 year-old dude who has hit 15 homeruns and 75 RBI for each of first 6 seasons although this season he explodes for 30 homeruns, 100 RBI.

I mean, to me, it's pretty obvious. The first guy is not only dependable, but available at a reduced price. Vica versa for guy B.

Not that Hunter or Jones really fit either of these categories- both have been really consistent throughout their careers, with Hunter averaging ~25, 90 and Jones at ~35, 105. And Hunter's "career year" is pretty identical to what he did last year, anyways- as of today, he's played in one more game, hit 3 fewer homers, and knocked in 4 more guys (although OPS+ is 11 higher) than last year.

Jones is still way better, though, and 2 years younger. Not exactly an age-old debate.

I guess I can't completely blame Heyman for thinking this debate exists (and, in fact, is so ancient and ingrained in the flesh of humanity that it not only was one of the causes of the American Civil War but also caused a 3 month stand-off b/t Achilles and Hector at the Battle for Troy (see the Aeneid). Achilles argued for career; Hector died slowly of spear-to-the-throat) since baseball GM's often behave as if flash-in-the-pan one-hit-wonder shooting-stars are just as deserving as rock-solid day-in-day-out sure-as-the-sun-rises tough-as-leather eat-shit-and-bark-at-the-moon go-to-guys.

E.g. Here are two obvious "year" guys who were way overpaid because professional baseball executives ignored the limp-itude of all of their other years:

-Adrian Beltre, who average 20 homeruns and 75 RBI (OPS+ about a flat 100) for each of this first 6 seasons, but then exploded with 48, 121, and a ridiculous 163+ en route to a 5 year, $64 million contract.

-Gary Matthews Jr. (of the career OPS of .750), who went slightly nutty with OPS of .866 in his contract year, earning 5 years and $50 million.

I forgot what I was talking about. The point is, Jon Heyman is a dummy. The End.


David said...

Wait a minute... Did you just say that Andruw Jones is "way better" than Torii Hunter?

That certainly would have been true 2 years ago, but Andruw Jones isn't just finishing up a bad season -- he's finishing up a season that will rank among man-kinds most heinous crimes.

This is not the same as batting .190 for the first 2 months and then turning it around a la Adam Laroche. Jones has been terrible all year. He's always struck out too much, but in the past you could forgive that because of his power and defense. Obviously, the power has dropped off, but the real issue with Jones is the defense (http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=stark_jayson&id=2880887).

Andruw Jones sucks this year, and even if his power numbers climb back up towards 40, he'll still only be as good a player as Adam Dunn (well, maybe not that bad, but you get what I'm saying).

Torii Hunter will get a deserved better contract than Andruw Jones for next year.

Gweedoh said...

Okay, okay, maybe not WAY better, but he's still better, AND more deserving of a bigger contract. Here we go.

So I did some research, 'cause I was totally unaware that Andruw's defense had dropped off so badly. BUT, thing is- Hunter isn't that much better- and certainly isn't the superior cf most people think he is- using the same metrics.

Zone Rating (Stark's main weapon), MLB rank, 2005-07
Hunter: 10th, 13th, 7th
Jones: 15th, 20th, 16th

Putouts (cited by Stark as evidence of Jones' decline), 2006-07
Hunter: 343, 370
Jones: 378 (10 more games), 379 (2 more games)

Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA, zero being average), last 3 years

Hunter: 2, 2, -2
Jones: -5, -1, 0

So, according to these (super cherry picked) stats, Hunter, is not THAT much better than Jones defensively.

Offensively, I mean...if you ignore this year...it's unarguable:

VORP, '04-06
Hunter: 23.4, 19.5, 32.6
Jones: 28.6, 52.8, 49.3

Jones has the better history, the better upside, AND he's 2 years younger. That's why I vote for Andruw Jones as the next president of the United States.

David said...

Andruw Jones is fat.

Chad Bahamas said...

Ok, so who gets the bigger payday? Hunter was better this year and GMs don't have long term memories. Part of me thinks one of those idiots will overpay for Hunter. But only because Andruw Jones is younger and has sexier HR totals I say he gets a bigger payday because he gets more years.

Hunter 5/75
Jones 6/100 <== absurd

I wouldn't want either guy at those prices.

Remember when the Cards were tied for the NL Central lead and I said they would finish at least 7 games back? Nostradamus is a pussy.

Gweedoh said...

I'm going to go ahead and be a dick and point out that, in fact, Torii Hunter is WAY fatter than Andruw Jones.

Hunter - 6'2", 205
Jones - 6'1", 170 <==absurdly in need of updating...

Actually, ESPN has them at 225 and 210 respectively...I definitely didn't expect that. Jones looks at least 300 lbs. anyways.

Also- let's not forget some intangibles that will figure in the contract negotiations:

Hunter: Smiles a lot, APPRECIATES the game, robs Barry Bonds of homeruns, plays for the lovable small-market Twinkies

Jones: Is a lazy asshole, doesn't live up to his potential, strikes out 7 times a game, has a teammate named "Chipper," plays for the evil empire of the 90's

David said...

I think they mean that Andruw Jones' neck weighs 170 lbs.