Thursday, October 09, 2008

BP's Joe Sheehan Disputes McCarver's Bombastic Bullshit

God, I love Baseball Prospectus. But more than that, I love people like Joe Sheehan, who take blowhards like Tim McCarver and demonstrate the facts which soundly disprove their unfounded statements.

As we posted earlier, Fox MLB color commentator McCarver got some press recently by making some pretty pointed barbs at Manny Ramirez. Sheehan's fact-checking found that the stats don't back up his claims. Take, for example, Sheehan's comments on McCarver's assertion that "Manny’s doing things that even Manny doesn’t do, [like] scoring on a double to right field from first base":

I think this is a reference to Game Three of the NL Division Series, in which Manny Ramirez scored from first on a two-out double by James Loney [which was awesome to see in person, by the way, something that McCarver did not do--but I digress]. Is this play terribly unusual, something that Ramirez would not have done prior to the trade from Boston?

I think one of the beautiful things about the 21st century is that when people say silly things about baseball-or for that matter, politics-we’re going to be able to bring actual information out to counter the silly things. Smart people, talented people, like Bil Burke, will be able to go back through the record and prove or disprove statements like the one above.

In his two months as a Dodger prior to postseason play, Manny Ramirez scored from first base on a double to right field. Once. He had two chances to do so, and he did it once.

With the Red Sox this year, Manny Ramirez also scored from first base on a double to right field. Once. He had two chances to do so, and it did it once.

From this we can conclude that Manny Ramirez is doing things in Los Angeles he never did in Boston. Or something like that.

The samples are tiny, but basically, Ramirez didn’t score from first on doubles to right at any different frequency this year than he had of late. One-for-one last year, two-for-four in 2006, one-for-two in 2005. The idea that he hadn’t is just something Tim McCarver invented to sound smart, to make it seem like he knew something about Manny Ramirez that informed his position. And because the people who reported McCarver’s ramblings are dedicated journalists with laminated cards and everything, they fact-checked the claim and…no, wait…I did that. Bil Burke did that.

Not only does Manny Ramirez score from first on doubles to right more often than Tim McCarver thinks he does, and in no different proportion post-trade than he did pre-trade, but he scores from first on doubles to right more often than the average baseball player. The league gets home around 37% of the time, with some of the failures being very costly outs at the plate. As shown above, Ramirez gets home around half the time, and hasn’t been thrown out at the plate on that play since 1999. If the idea is to pick on Manny Ramirez, this is the wrong place to make a stand.

Of course, Tim McCarver doesn’t care, and that’s why this is important. See, come Thursday night, Tim McCarver is going to look into a camera and tell tens of millions of people what he thinks about Manny Ramirez. He’s probably going to revisit this theme any number of times over the following couple of weeks, especially if the Dodgers reach the World Series. When he does, there isn’t going to be a graphic showing Ramirez’s stats during the timeframe when he was supposedly being such a detriment to his team. There won’t be a cutaway to Joe Sheehan in the studio pointing out that Ramirez outplayed most of his teammates and carried two or three of their carcasses while not getting the three-day paid vacation they got. We won’t hear Joe Buck come over the top of McCarver and point out that Ramirez played nearly every day in July.

It will just be McCarver making fact-free assertions, and America listening. That’s wrong.

It’s time that this stops, and all I can do to make it stop is put facts out there and hope that they get to baseball fans, to television executives, and maybe, just maybe, to a TV booth in St. Petersburg. Facts matter. Data matters. Facts and data don’t have agendas, don’t like or dislike individuals, aren’t invested in a particular storyline or protecting their friends and sources. Facts just sit there on the page and dare you to ignore them....

Manny Ramirez played in 90% of his team’s games in July and hit like a beast, coming up huge in a critical division matchup late in the month to help the Red Sox avoid a sweep and sustain their place in the standings. Those are my…no, those are the facts.

What do you have, Tim?

Click the link, there's much more in Sheehan's can of whupass than what I excerpted.

At least this gives me more reason to watch, I suppose. I'm still listening to Vin Scully, though.


QuadSevens said...

We should let every team in MLB, except the Dodgers, subscribe to McCarver's BS and be brain washed. Then we send this article, and any future stat packed pieces, to the Dodgers brass so that they sign Manny to a nice deal. Everyone will be happy.