Andruw Jones still a far better player than Terence Moore is a writer

63 Comments

MLB.com should be ashamed to have published such a hack job.

Former Atlanta Journal Constitution writer Terence Moore takes on Andruw Jones today as only he can:

The bottom line: Jones is only assured of joining the inaugural class of the Hall of Fame of Disappointment.

The majority of Jones’ lowlights came later.

With apologies to Simon & Garfunkel, where have you gone, Andruw Jones, and how did you lose your way to Cooperstown?

Not only was Jones supposed to waltz from Yankee Stadium in October 1996 to the Hall of Fame, he was supposed to do so as a lifetime member of the Braves.

Sad. Really sad.

And I thought I was obsessed with the Hall of Fame.

Honestly, that’s mostly what there is to it. There’s certainly nothing new there, unless you want to see a John Smoltz quote saying Jones had “it!”. Moore even regurgitates the story about the one time in 17 years Jones was benched for not hustling to catch a flyball. There’s no insight at all; nothing into what caused Jones’ inconsistency or early-30s swoon. Really, the whole article is a lesson into what one could do with access to a baseball player’s wikipedia page and an intro to writing course. There’s certainly nothing there that suggests Moore actually covered Jones for the bulk of his career.

And that’s what really makes this pathetic. Moore should have all of the artillery necessary to bash Jones if there’s anything there to bash. The only real takeaway from the column is that Moore expected Jones to hit 500 homers and become a first-ballot Hall of Famer and he’s taking it personally that it didn’t happen.

Sad. Really sad.

///

Actually, this is even worse than I originally thought. It turns out Moore’s column today is essentially a rewriting of Moore’s Jan. 4, 2012 column on Jones. And barely rewritten. He’s even got the same Simon & Garfunkel line in there, and he ends the previous piece with a “How sad,” as opposed to today’s “Sad. Really sad.”

A scout thinks the Astros strike out too much. The Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
3 Comments

Great moments in scouting. MLB.com’s Richard Justice spoke to an unnamed scout about the Astros, currently holding the American League’s best record at 76-47. The scout said that the Astros strike out too much and it will catch up with them. Justice pointed out that the Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball. The scout responded, “I don’t believe that.”

Justice, of course, is correct. The average major league team has struck out 1,006 times entering Sunday’s action. The Astros have by far the lowest total at 827, followed by the Indians at 881 and the Pirates at 882.

This scout doesn’t represent all scouts, but this is one of the major problems that advocates of statistics were trying to highlight before Sabermetrics became popular a decade ago. It’s a pattern. Person believes thing. Person either cherry-picks evidence to defend belief or is shown evidence that belief is not factually true and ignores it. Person refuses to change belief, using one of many excuses.

The other problem this highlights is the fallacy of “the eye test,” which is shorthand for treating a scout’s observations as sacrosanct due to his or her experience and knowledge of the game. In this case, the scout ignored easily accessed information, went with his gut, and turned out to be completely wrong. Furthermore, if “the eye test” were legit, the scout would’ve known that, for example, Yulieski Gurriel and Jose Altuve hardly ever strike out (11.1 and 12.4 percent strikeout rates, respectively). In fact, no one on the Astros’ roster (min. 230 PA) has a strikeout rate above 21 percent; the league average is 21.5 percent.

This isn’t to impugn the practice of scouting as a whole. There are a lot of things scouts can tell you about a player that data cannot and that has value. But for easily-researched claims like “the Astros strike out too much,” there’s no reason to trust a scout over the stats.

Mets acquire Jacob Rhame from Dodgers

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.

Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.

The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.