Dave Brown of Yahoo! Sports just posted an intriguing interview with Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy. They talk about everything from the right-hander’s experience getting hit by a line drive, his tweeting, the trade that sent him to Oakland, as well as his familiarity with some advanced stats.
His thoughts on some traditional stats, pitcher wins and RBI, caught my attention:
DB:xFIP and WAR are great, but don’t pitchers need wins to take to arbitration?
BM: Yeah, that’s the worst part about wins. It’s the same with RBIs. They are the two numbers that truly get you paid. It’s absurd. But you become conditioned to having to think about it. In the minor leagues, I don’t think organizations push it, but you get built on that because that’s what you grow up with. And then when you should be getting to a point when you realize it’s a worthless stat, now you realize that your entire financial future depends on it, that stupid number, an arbitrary cutoff point.
McCarthy is one of a very short list of players who have publicly shown an interest in Sabermetrics. Zack Greinke is another, as he utilized stats to help him win the 2009 AL Cy Young award. It is nice to hear, every now and then, that a player has taken an active role in furthering his understanding of the game.
The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.
Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.
Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.