An interesting statistical note about Yadier Molina

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The beautiful thing about science — any field of it — is that you start out with a hypothesis and you use data to confirm or reject your hypothesis. You don’t simply accept something as fact because a lot of people believe it or because someone in authority told you it was true. Science does have its flaws, especially when performed by humans, but it’s quite a good system, one that has served us well over the years. Sabermetrics, or more generally the practice of statistical analysis, has brought that into baseball, offering us some sometimes cold truths about what we thought we knew about the game.

For years, we have accepted that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has a bunch of intangibles that make him better than any other catcher in the game. And it still may be true that he has them, but perhaps the impact of those intangibles has been overstated. Over at FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan dug into the numbers expecting to find that pitchers performed much better with Molina behind the dish than with other catchers. He was surprised by what he found:

With Molina, the pitchers averaged a .746 OPS against. With non-Molina, the pitchers averaged a .757 OPS against. That’s a difference of 11 points, and if you just look at the guys who had samples of at least 500 plate appearances instead of 250, the difference is 15 points. There’s a difference that exists, but it’s hardly massive at all, and it might be entirely explained by Molina’s quality framing. For as good as Molina’s reputation is when it comes to guiding a pitcher through a game, these numbers right here suggest he’s hardly a wizard. Or, if he is a wizard, then a lot of catchers are wizards.

[…]

But maybe game-calling also just isn’t that big of a thing. By which I mean, maybe there isn’t that much of a spread, once you get to the majors. As in all skills, the majors are selective for elite ability, and calling a game is a big one. There do exist poor sequences, but big-league catchers probably won’t call them. It’s possible they’ll end up with similar approaches, especially given that they tend to work with the pitchers in advance of their games.

Molina was one of the three finalists for the NL MVP award, eventually taken home by center fielder Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates. He was barely edged out of second place by Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Molina finished fourth in 2012’s voting as well, behind Buster Posey, Ryan Braun, and McCutchen.

Nationals place Stephen Strasburg on the disabled list

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Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks. He said he had trouble getting loose and had some stiffness in his forearm. Two days ago Dusty Baker said that expected Strasburg to make his next scheduled start on Saturday at home against the Rockies.

Nope. Not happening.Today the Nationals placed Strasburg on the 10-day disabled list with a right elbow nerve impingement.

Not that they expect it to be a long stay. The plan is for him to miss one start, rest up and come back. Erick Fedde will be promoted from Triple-A Syracuse to pitch in Strasburg’s place on Saturday against the Rockies.

Optimistically, this is a situation in which, if the Nats were in a tight race, Strasburg would try to gut it out, but since they’re not, they can afford to be cautious with him. Obviously time will tell if such optimism is warranted.

Danny Tartabull: dumbest fugitive alive

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Remember Danny Tartabull? He was a pretty dang good, and underrated, slugger in the 1980s and 1990s. For a brief moment he was even baseball’s highest-paid player. He began with the Mariners, but his best years came in Kansas City where he put up a line of .290/.376/.518 (144 OPS+) with 124 homers over five seasons. From there he went to the Yankees, where he continued to be a solid producer for the most part, with an .845 OPS (128 OPS+) and added another 81 homers in four seasons. He was a journeyman after that and retired after the 1997 season.

Since then things haven’t been all that great for Tartabull. While he was a key contributor to the teams for which he played, he didn’t contribute much to his own dang children. In 2011 he was adjudged a deadbeat dad with a $275,000 outstanding child support bill for which he received a criminal conviction. He was granted probation, which he violated, and then failed to report for the six-month jail sentence he was handed. Since 2012 there has been a warrant out for his arrest.

Given that there are still enough people around who know and remember Danny Tartabull, it seems like it’d be pretty easy to track him down. He’s been a fugitive for the past five years, however, likely due to the police not prioritizing a six-month sentence for a deadbeat.

Thankfully, though, Tartabull helped them out. How? He called them:

54-year-old Tartabull has basically been under the radar ever since … until July 24, when he called police himself to report that his car had been broken into near his apartment in Agoura, CA.

When cops arrived, they ran Tartabull’s name through the system and noticed the active warrant — and immediately arrested him.

Not supporting your kids is shameful. Skipping out on a jail sentence is wrong. Calling the cops when there’s a longstanding warrant for your arrest is stupid.

Congratulations, Danny. You haven’t played baseball for 20 years, but this week you won the triple crown.