Via Bleacher Report
It’s been just over a month since the San Francisco Giants won the World Series for the second time in three years. And it was pretty darn good timing that this was also the year that I gathered a few of my friends to periodically write about the team. We called those check-ins, the SF Giants Heat Check. For those of you who followed our posts, we gave you a deep and inside look at the club through the eyes of hardcore fans.
I was also able to write long pieces after every playoff game all the way through the World Series thanks to an ability sleep very little. This year-end write-up is for two reasons. First, I wanted a post on this website that linked to all my 2012 postseason writings. Secondly, I have a couple rants and a small review of the World Series film.
Rant 1 – Mike Trout Was Screwed In The AL MVP Voting
This is in no way a diss on Miguel Cabrera. He’s a fantastic hitter and hitting is of utmost importance historically when it comes to this award. But we are in a day and age with baseball where we can look deeper into the game and really try and figure out how important everything is when it comes to winning. For every argument, there is a pretty good counterargument. For instance, Miguel Cabrera’s team went to the World Series, so it played out well for those who voted for Cabrera. He had to be of the utmost importance to the Tigers to help get them that far. Then again, they won the softest division in all of baseball. With their 88 victories, they were the division winner with the least amount of victories. The second place finishing Chicago White Sox were the worst second place team in all of the divisions. Trout’s team won more games and did so in one of the tougher divisions in baseball. See how that counter argument stuff works?
Being that there are three facets to the game that positional players can make an impact in, I think that while Cabrera’s triple crown should mean a lot, it shouldn’t mean more than the other two facets that don’t count; fielding and base running. It’s well known that Cabrera isn’t a defensive stalwart, but it’s pretty clear that he’s not even an average third baseman. He was pushed to third because of the arrival of Prince Fielder, so it’s not all his fault, but he wasn’t a gold glove first baseman either. Trout on the other hand saved runs with his defense. If you look at the fielding analytics, the basic summary is that Cabrera didn’t save any runs. In fact, his defense allowed in more runs than your replacement level third baseman would’ve.
Add the base running stats (Trout stole 45 more bases and scored 8 more runs), and you have a much better definition of who had the better season. The stat which has gained tons of popularity in the last few years is WAR which stands for wins above replacement (level player). The basic gist is how many wins is the player of value to his team over someone who your random run of the mill ball player. Fangraphs has a great piece on WAR and how it’s calculated and we won’t get into that kind of baseball nerdness here, but as you might guess, Trout’s WAR (10.0 or 10 wins above replacement) was higher than Cabrera’s WAR (7.1 or just over 7 wins above replacement).
Rant 2 – If Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens Don’t Make The Hall Of Fame, No One Should
My biggest issue with this Hall Of Fame stuff is that it is up to baseball writers, who were so far behind in the times when it came to reporting on steroids during the steroid era, to decide the fate of players from that era, much like this writer who clearly admits it. Because the writers’ jobs are to report the truth about the game, they feel misled about the whole situation. And to me, that’s a bias that is hard to look beyond when it comes to voting.
If your job is to report the truths about anything and your subject misleads you and makes you look foolish doing your job, how can you then look at that subject in an unbiased fashion. In the past, I’ve been hard on the writers, both for being so naive about steroids in general and for then taking such an aggressive stance when it comes to dealing with alleged steroid users and judging who can and cannot be in the Hall. They’re not basing it on numbers really. They’re basing it on suspicion and theory, or things that they don’t know.
If Barry Bonds’ career up until 1996 was Hall of Fame worthy, should he get in even if it’s alleged he took steroids after that and through his biggest run of his career? And if he did take steroids (which we’re pretty clear he did), how much did they help? Or does he simply get disqualified because he more than probably took them no matter if we can’t really measure how many extra home runs they helped him hit? The entire thing is a headache and I can see why it makes the writers so frustrated.
The guy who makes logical sense is Tony Gwynn, someone who played in the steroid era but never would be suspected of taking steroids. San Diego Padres blog Gas Lamp Ball transcribed the highlights of an interview that Gwynn did on the subject. The quote that makes sense to me is this one:
I’m not one who thinks that everybody in the Hall of Fame today is clean. There were guys that smoked, guys that did amphetamines, and heck guys that did more than that.
I think there are also previous steroid users in the Hall, which is what muddles the process even more. Even though steroids have been around pro sports since probably the late 60s and steroid king Jose Canseco started his career in the late 80s, people want to blame the late 90s to early 2000s period as really the only time steroids were a big part of baseball. I call hogwash on that claim, but let’s use those rules. Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken Jr., Barry Larkin, Roberto Alomar, Wade Boggs, Paul Molitor, Dennis Eckersley, and Eddie Murray all played the tail end of their careers in what is suggested to be the major steroid era.
How do we know that any of those guys didn’t use steroids? We don’t. But what is our knowledge based on? It’s based on what we believe steroid users should look like and how their stats increased during the time. But what if I mentioned that Cal Ripken Jr. increased his home run output in 1996 by 100% from his 1994 season (he also played more games in 1996)? And that’s not to say that I think Ripken Jr. took steroids. It’s just a way to say that it is extremely hard to tell when it comes to what we know about steroids. So we’re basing this on a lot of knowledge we don’t have rather than knowledge that we do have.
I think steroid subjects should be treated slightly more harshly than non-suspected steroid users, but only slightly. Why? Because we don’t know more than we do. And because the people voting have a rational bias against the people they’re not voting for. Bonds and Clemens are the two greatest players in the history of baseball. They would’ve been Hall Of Fame worthy with or without steroids. You can even judge them based on what you don’t know.
In other words, no matter how big of douchebags we think both players are, if they don’t get in, no one deserves to get in.
Via The Grio
World Series Film Review
This one will be short. I promise.
The 2012 World Series film is something that Giants fans will thorougly enjoy. Will they learn anything new? No. Will they see anything they haven’t seen before? Eh, not really.
The film isn’t trying to break new ground about the season and I’m sure you’ll learn more about the 2012 version of the Giants by reading through our Heat Check posts. But when you are able to turn around a product less than a month after the final out of the World Series, you’re not going to get something award-winning.
But what it is, is a fantastic look back at the Giants’ run in the playoffs. There’s barely any talk about the regular season, which could’ve probably used a documentary of its own with all of the ups and downs. But to most fans, I think what they will care about is the glorious postseason run. And that glorious postseason run is documented gloriously.
If you have a Blu-ray player, do yourself a favor and get the Blu-ray version. The way that MLB shoots video is a sight to behold. All the important parts are hit perfectly even if they slight #RallyZito ever so much. But it was so fun to take that walk back through the playoff run. It’s a must-own for Giants fans and if you know a Giants fan that doesn’t have it, do them a favor and get it for them for Christmas.