Steve Carlton

Joe Posnanski reminds us (again) why a pitcher’s wins are overrated

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It seems like the Cy Young award voting this year will be pretty straight forward. None of that stuff like we had last year when half of the baseball commentariat yelled at the other half that the win totals shouldn’t matter when deciding who the best pitcher is.  All of the possible Cy Young winners this year have healthy win totals. And the guy who will likely have the most wins — Justin Verlander — has an outrageously good case for the award even if you ignore them.

But Joe Posnanski’s essay about the value of wins — not just their valuelessness — is good reading all the same.  Because, as he usually does, he provides that nice conciliatory middle ground that the people on either side of the pitcher wins debate — or most other debates — usually fail to provide.

How so? By reminding the win crowd that wins aren’t the best statistic, but doing so in a manner that isn’t all pissy and impatient like some of, um, us who don’t like pitchers wins tend to do.  Here he does it by good example. The best: his handling of Steve Carlton’s 1972 season, often cited as an argument for pitcher wins as being a useful metric, but shown to be less-than-useful upon close examination. NOTE: also check out The Platoon Advantage’s take on this from last year.

And on the other side: he reminds us that just because pitcher wins don’t tell us anything particularly useful about the quality of the pitcher for analysis purposes, they are interesting to discuss.  They may not have value as a metric, but they have value as a topic.  In this Posnanski is quite close to the “remember the beer” argument of which I have become such a fan.  The argument which holds that we are not prevented from enjoying discussion and even honoring of something simply because it doesn’t comport with sabermetric principles.  At least as long as we don’t pretend that the cool event/accomplishment we are honoring means more than it truly does.

I’m guessing Posnanski has read it too, and he is remembering the beer.  And speaking of beer, I have a cookout to get too.  Happy Labor Day everyone.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a designated hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.