Monday, May 10, 2010

ESPN's Kurkjian Keeps Picking on Dodger Starters

After admonishing Clayton Kershaw for his inefficiency last issue, ESPN's Tim Kurkjian followed up with a piece in the latest issue (the reverse-gatefolded May 17 2010 issue, World Cup cover) criticizing Chad Billingsley. In "Soft Spots: [...] Key Weaknesses of Five Contenders", Kurkjian writes:

Chad Billingsley--Weakness: Pitch Efficency

Led by Clayton Kershaw (19.2 pitchers per inning) and Chad Billingsley (18.3), Dodgers starters lead the NL with 18.2 pitches per inning. "Billingsley has fallen in love with his cutter," says a scout. "He used to throw 95 miles an hour. Now he's down to 90 because he throws his cutter too much and has lost the life on his fastball." No wonder LA's bullpen has a 5.20 ERA; it's worn out because the starters can't go deep into games.

It's clear that Timmy K. has found a go-to theme for the Dodgers--pitch efficiency--and that's the metric that's going to damn us (rather than key injuries, lack of a four and five starter, the fact that we've got Garrett Anderson and Ramon Ortiz still on staff, etc.). But wait, of the five teams that Kurkjian criticizes as being "soft", three are from the NL West (Giants: Impatient at the Plate; Rockies: Weak Base Stealing). So maybe everybody's soft? So we can still win this joint?

11 comments:

Mr. Customer said...

Tim Kurkijan--Weakness: Original Criticism

NicJ said...

Burn.

Dusty Baker said...

He also has a lame, difficult to spell name. Strike two.

Mr. Customer said...

Rather, strike two on me for botching it.

Jason said...

Wait, he covered 3 teams from the NL West in a piece titled "Key Weaknesses of Five Contenders?"

So in his estimation, 60% of the contenders come out of the NL West? This in an ESPN related publication not involving Tony Jackson or Jon Weisman? Is this progress against the dreaded ECMB?

Still, my favorite ESPN post about why the Dodgers are no good was posted in the TMI column (Insider only) by Erik Manning of Fangraphs (a normally sane site) blaming the Dodgers' high pitch counts on a fear held by the pitching staff that their fielders won't catch any balls put into play.

Jason said...

^^ Whoops, bad link. Try this.

Dusty Baker said...

Do these guys really get paid to sit round and come up with this kind of shit? If so, why?

MR. F said...

In theory, they came up as writers; baseball analyzing ability was a secondary concern. So, in theory, they're good writers. But you know what they say. In theory, communism works. In theory.

Steve Sax said...

Riffing off of Mr Customer:

Tim Kurkjian--Weakness: Word Efficiency

Kurkjian's redundant re-hashings of simplistic statistical metrics has him averaging 750 words over two articles per salient point. "Kurkjian has fallen in love with the pitch efficiency statistic," says a blogger. "He used to come up with multiple insightful metrics to measure a team's productivity. Now he's down to one or two salient points per month because he can string it along into several sidebars and has lost his subscription to baseball-reference.com." No wonder ESPN the Magazine's circulation is in decline; even on a bi-weekly publication schedule, the articles don't seem to change all that much from issue to issue.

Dusty Baker said...

Sax shoots - he scores!

Mr. Customer said...

*nod of approval*