The Mockingbird

More Brattain Bashing

with 2 comments

Either he’s drinking the same stuff as Griffin, or following the Jays really has broken his brain. From John Brattain’s latest article:

What’s worse, the Jays have blown scoring opportunities galore. They’re third in the league in grounding into double plays. The Yankees are first.

Wow. Actually the Jays are 11th. Out of 14. And the Yankees are 7th. Maybe he’s thinking of turning double plays? Because the Yankees lead in that. Or just the AL East? I have no idea.

Then there’s some bizarre segue from GIDP to back to runners in scoring position with 2 out, when they are by definition unrelated. And then on to one of my biggest pet peeves in the media this season:

Also, of course, the Jays’ biggest failure is hitting with men on base, period:

New York Yankees .290/.363/.463
AL average .280/.352/.431
Toronto Blue Jays .267/.338/.417

I’ve said this about a billion times…but how exactly is it your “biggest failure” when you hit 18 points higher with runners on base than you do in general? I just don’t get it…why do people, even stats people, keep saying this?? At least the focus has shifted from runners in scoring position (as in his “productive outs” article) to “men on base”. That’s probably because the Jays are now hitting .273, just 2 points under the league average (despite being below it in every other situation), with RISP.


Written by halejon

September 11, 2007 at 7:18 am

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  1. “Either he’s drinking the same stuff as Griffin,”

    Unlikely, I was sitting down from him in the press box on August 19: I was having a Coke (caffeine is your friend–never forget that) and I have no idea what he was drinking but his expression indicated that his beverage must have been decidedly tart.

    “or following the Jays really has broken his brain.”

    A possibility, but I’m sure a lot of other Jays fans watch games on the roofs of their homes wearing a halo made from a coat hanger, a garbage bag with holes for the head an two arms and bunny-slippers on the feet.

    The neighbours look at me funny but I’m guessing they’re not baseball fans–their loss. I was going to invite them over to watch the game since my roof is spacious and I have a lot of Coke sitting in the ice that I keep in my satellite dish.

    “I’ve said this about a billion times…but how exactly is it your “biggest failure” when you hit 18 points higher with runners on base than you do in general?”

    Sucking less, is still sucking.

    My double-play stats are from Baseball-Reference. I’m pretty sure I read it right. If I read it wrong–my bad and mea culpa. Not my first boo-boo as a writer and it won’t be my last–I promise I know I can keep.

    Bottom line: We have differing philosophies on what we’ve seen this year offensively–fair enough. Still, Gibbons stuck with an inefficient philosophy for too long in my opinion. I think more could’ve been done–you disagree. That’s cool. At some point over the course of 85 games where the Jays have scored less than the league average of runs per game (and 65 scoring three or less) I just felt a light might have gone on and a different approach adopted. Not a complete overhaul mind you, but something a little more creative to get things going. The first article dealt with opportunity, the second how it applies in-game.

    They started 2007 with a plan, that plan fizzled due to injuries. A bunch of guys went on the DL replaced with a bunch of out-machines. They got everybody back but four were still struggling with injuries. The Jays had numerous scoring opportunities that weren’t capitalized on. It happened repeatedly. So where’s the harm in trying something different? Especially when the parts you had in place to execute “Plan A” weren’t producing as expected? Would they have been any worse off? The wonderful thing about having nothing to lose is that no matter what you try, your situation will not worsen. So why not try?

    This was a team that should’ve contended. They had the pitching and then some. A league average offense probably gets the Jays the wild card. A different approach and maybe the Jays are 80-66 or maybe they’re 66-80–who knows? 80-66 and they’re in it, 60-88 they go home at the end of the month just as they will in 2007. Regardless there does come a point in a season where you realize it’s now or never–if you’ve got any tricks up your sleeve then let’s have them. But if something hasn’t worked over 120 games and you’re 61-59, I cannot see the logic to go with the status quo if you hope to take your shot. At some point you do whatever it takes to get a run across the plate. Stranded at third or out at home is the difference between trying for the girl or watching another guy get her. If she rejects you, then you weren’t getting her anyway and you’re no worse off. Take your shot and you just might end up happy–but if you sit around and wait for her to come to you … well, faint heart never won lady-fair–or the wild card.

    When you stop and think about, it might not be a bad approach to life: Resolve never to leave yourself stranded at third.

    Ah well, agree to disagree has always worked for me since it gives folks something to talk about over a cold beer. You’re a passionate Jays fan with a great blog so there’s nothin’ but love. As the sailors on the Pequod used to say: “Every man on this ship would rather be kicked in the ass by Ahab than knighted by the queen” and it that spirit, I’d rather be ripped by a knowledgeable Jays fan than praised by a Yankee (fan).

    Keep up the great work. I think we can agree on this: “GO JAYS GO!”

    Best Regards


    John Brattain

    September 14, 2007 at 9:33 pm

  2. Ah, jeez…it’s always awkward when someone responds to your hyperbole with humour and candour. You mean we post on the same internet??

    I think what really set me off was your first post on MSN implied that the current strategy/philosophy had obviously held the Jays back and that the numbers clearly backed it up if only Gibbons et. all had bothered to look into them. There’s a huge body of work out there about bunting, and the splits you quoted didn’t address the problems with it or establish the Jays as a special case. I have a lot less problem with arguing that it couldn’t be any worse and may as well give it a shot, though I still disagree- just a little more civilly.

    When it comes to strategy, you don’t always get points for being foolish and brave. It’s just not the same thing as taking a chance on approaching a girl- there’s no longshot payoff like maybe your slow power lineup will say yes and you’ll discover a bunch of runs you didn’t think you had a chance at. Sometimes things are just wrong. Like playing 1. a4 in chess or stealing at less than a very high percentage, there are reasons not to do them that have been established with theory and practice and there’s just no point in giving them a try even when nothing else is working.

    I think a better analogy is poker. Sometimes you do everything the right way and just get dealt a bad run of hands over a night. Every bone in your body wants to abandon the strategy you know works, but the best players know that’s just going to make things worse. That’s how I see this year for the Jays. There was no way they were going to end up winners when they were dealt a bunch of career worst seasons, and abandoning the appropriate style of play for their team wasn’t going to change that a whit. If you can find some contact .300 hitters maybe we can talk about playing like the Angels, but when most of your team has never bunted in their life and walks and hits for extra bases (both of which make preceding bunts pointless), there’s not lot you can do.

    Anyway, this is an endless and interesting argument, and while it may not sound that way, I think both sides have merit. Especially in a slump, I would often like to see more variety and tactics just to shake things up. But if your’e going to make a sweeping statement like calling the strategy that modern SABR analysis dictates a “losing approach”, some jackass is going to get uppity on his blog.



    P.S. I’m not sure if you would agree that you were doing this, but I do accept to a certain degree that it’s your job to make over the top arguments and stimulate interest and discussion. Nobody’s going to read a Sympatico article with the theis “maybe the Jays could be a little more active in certain situations and it would steal a win here or there even though they were doomed this season anyway.”


    September 16, 2007 at 12:57 am

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