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Analyzing Gammons' analysis

In a recent article, Peter Gammons discusses the marquee names of the upcoming free agent class, and who has or hasn't helped their pocketbook with their 2004 performance.

Gammons could name two major league baseball players that I've never heard of for every person that I could call a friend and has more front-office contacts than any other baseball writer working today. It's a good thing too, because if he relied solely on his analysis skills, he might be fired tomorrow for incompetence (Or not, since ESPN seems to have a singular goal of keeping clueless baseball analysts gainfully employed: John Kruk, Harold Reynolds, Jayson Stark).

Often, one gets the feeling that Rob Neyer -- one of the few knowledgeable baseball analysts on ESPN -- wants to lambaste his colleagues, but holds back because he writes for the same publication. SFStation need not make such reservations.

Exhibit 1:

"Edgar Renteria is the best shortstop on the market, Nomar Garciaparra the biggest name."

If Renteria is a better player than Nomar, than I will grace the cover of GQ when their 'Man of the Year' issue hits newsstands. In the last eight years, Renteria has posted a higher OPS than Nomar once, and in that year, he bested Garciaparra by seven points.

Since both became regulars in 1997, Garciaparra has 27 more doubles and 99 more home runs. In addition, his career batting average is 32 points higher and his OPS 171 points higher.

Exhibit 2:

"There's no question about (Odalis) Perez's ability, but the six wins and 44-41, 4.01 lifetime record doesn't indicate the durability of a 1-2 starter."

How the number of wins and your ERA relates to durability, no one knows, but we'll ignore that fact for now. If people rated pitchers by only looking at win totals, they would mistakenly get the impression that Perez had a terrible year. Apparently, this was Gammons' method of evaluation. Of course, this would also mean that Randy Johnson, Ben Sheets and Oliver Perez weren't worth any more than a pile of scrap metal.

Fortunately, logical people know that looking at only one stat can be misleading. Here's how he ranks among his NL peers in other pitching evaluation metrics.

ERA: 3.16 (8th)
Value Over Replacement Player (in runs): 43.5 (10th)
Support Neutral Wins Above Replacement: 2.6 (13th)

Given that there are 15 teams in the NL, the top-15 pitchers in the league have to be considered legitimate number-one starters. And by virtually every statistic, Perez ranks as one of the 15 best pitchers in the league.

For Gammons to call Perez an inadequate number-two starter isn't just wrong, it's idiotic. Gammons is lucky that libel laws don't apply public figures, otherwise Perez's agent might be FedEx-ing paperwork to Gammons' box seat at Fenway right now.

Exhibit 3:

"While his ERA (4.40) is still higher than the past, the 15-8 record indicates his willingness to stay in games; his heart has been shown in previous postseasons."

Since Morris, and every other pitcher in baseball, will stay in the game as long as the manager asks him too, I don't see how his win-loss record has anything to do with heart. In fact, a much more reasonable explanation for his gaudy win-loss record would be that he plays for the St. Louis Cardinals and they win a lot more often than they lose regardless of who's pitching.

As for showing his heart in postseasons, he is 0-2 with an ERA of 5.94 in two NLCS starts. However, he's been quite good in Divisional Series. Again, this begs the question, how is heart involved?

Exhibit 4:

Mike Scioscia: "Sometimes your best player isn't the best player, at least statistically. The players all know Erstad is our best player, just as anyone who manages against the Red Sox knows Varitek is their best player, or Jeter is the Yankees' best player…If they want someone else, fine, find someone else to manage."

Peter Gammons: "Not that Scioscia has to worry, because (Angels GM) Bill Stoneman gets it."

This quote alone should make Scioscia a frontrunner for the Darwin awards. The logic, if you can call it that, is a bit difficult to follow. Darin Erstad is the Angels best player and Jason Varitek is the Red Sox best player, yet their teammates Vladimir Guererro and Manny Ramirez are the leading candidates for AL MVP. Oh, and Jeter is better than A-Rod in the same way that J.T. Snow is better than Barry Bonds.

For a moment, Gammons had a chance to only be the second dumbest person to contribute to the article, but then he had to go and agree with Scioscia.

Special commendation this week goes to New York Yankees pitcher Kevin Brown, for punching a clubhouse wall and fracturing two bones in his left hand. On one hand, Brown should be praised for having the good sense to use his non-pitching hand to vent his frustrations. Playing devil's advocate though, one would think that a 39-year-old man would have devised more sophisticated ways to deal with on-the-job stress by this point.

In light of Brown's and Kyle Farnsworth's recent temper-tantrum-related injuries, one wonders whether it would be prudent for teams to install stress-reduction apparatus in the dugout. Perhaps, they could hang a water-filled punching bag next to the clubhouse bench that players could punch, kick, bite etc… after they strike out or give up a three-run homer. Another alternative could be to ask the bench coaches to hand out stress-balls to all the players when they return to the dugout after each inning.

As always, all comments are welcome and can be sent to [email protected].