One thing Miguel Cabrera won’t miss about Prince Fielder: protection

43 Comments

Upon hearing the news that the Tigers had traded Prince Fielder to the Rangers for Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera appeared to be mourning a bit on Twitter, posting a collection of pictures involving the two during their time in Detroit. It was a humanizing moment for a player who has given us no choice over the last two years but to think of him as an unstoppable hitting machine.

Many, particularly those in the national baseball media, wonder how Cabrera will fare without Fielder behind him to protect him.

But as David Schoenfield illustrates in his column at ESPN Sweet Spot, there just isn’t any evidence that Fielder actually provided any lineup protection to Cabrera. He notes that Cabrera hasn’t seen many more fastballs nor many more pitches in the strike zone, at least at a statistically significant level. Additionally, while Victor Martinez may not have Fielder’s power potential, he is no slouch.

The same idea pops up whenever two great hitters either come together or go their separate ways. I dug into the numbers back in September 2011 to see if Hunter Pence was actually providing Ryan Howard with any protection for the Phillies. Like Schoenfield, there just wasn’t any evidence.

Based on the numbers we’ve been able to compile over the years, lineup protection either doesn’t exist or the effect is so small as to be indistinguishable from random variation.

The Hall of Fame rejected the BBWAA vote to make ballots public

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Last year, at the Winter Meetings, the BBWAA voted overwhelmingly to make Hall of Fame ballots public beginning with this year’s election. Their decision was a long-demanded one, and it served to make a process that has often frustrated fans — and many voters — more transparent.

Mark Feinsand of MLB.com tweeted a few minutes ago, however, that at some point since last December, the Hall of Fame rejected the BBWAA’s vote. Writer may continue to release their own ballots, but their votes will not automatically be made public.

I don’t know what the rationale could possibly be for the Hall of Fame. If I had to guess, I’d say that the less-active BBWAA voters who either voted against that change or who weren’t present for it because they don’t go to the Winter Meetings complained about it. It’s likewise possible that the Hall simply doesn’t want anyone talking about the votes and voters so as not to take attention away from the honorees and the institution, but that train left the station years ago. If the Hall doesn’t want people talking about votes and voters, they’d have to change the whole thing to some star chamber kind of process in which the voters themselves aren’t even known and no one discusses it publicly until after the results are released.

Oh well. There’s a lot the Hall of Fame does that doesn’t make a ton of sense. Add this to the list.