The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Holy crap, the St. Louis Cardinals really are going to win the World Series. Not because they won Game 1 on Saturday, but because Bruce Jenkins says they will lose.

Anyone who doubts Jenkins' value as contrarian indicator should ponder the following nuggets of wisdom from the aforementioned column:

That was a fabulous final pitch thrown by the Cards' Adam Wainwright, an absolute freeze-'em curveball that left Carlos Beltran helpless. Still, on an 0-and-2 count with the World Series on the line, you have to swing at that ball. There's no excuse for ending a playoff series with the bat on your shoulder.

That makes sense, because if Beltran had swung at a pitch out of the strike zone, and missed, or popped up, or grounded out, Jenkins would have been right there to pick him up. I mean, he would have been right there with a patented Jenkinism-of-the-ages like "no truly great hitter, Ruth or Mays or Jackson, would have taken a weak swing at a bad pitch, 0-2 count or no."

In a classic seven-game Series in 1934, the "Gas House Gang" Cardinals of Pepper Martin, Ducky Medwick and Dizzy Dean beat the Tigers of Greenberg, Charlie Gehringer and Schoolboy Rowe (they knew how to dole out nicknames in those days).

Sucky nicknames, but yes, they could dole out nicknames.

Can't imagine the A's hiring process continuing without Billy Beane at least considering the best man for the job, Dusty Baker. He's headstrong, and likes to take complete charge of a club (with good reason), but he's exceptionally easygoing, having survived prostate cancer, Steve Bartman and the Chicago media with his health and dignity intact

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Ok. I found my jaw and reattached it. Does the San Francisco Chronicle employ fact checkers? Baker disdains on-base percentage, Beane thinks it is the most critical offensive skill in baseball. The A's are full of up-and-coming young players; Baker likes to ignore them to start veterans with no hitting ability that he develops an irrational attachment to. (As one wag on a baseball blog said recently, "Dusty Baker the A's manager? Say hello to starting left fielder D'Angelo Jimenez.") Baker is a big-name manager who will command top dollar, the A's have no money (and wouldn't waste it on a Neifi Perez-loving lunatic even if they did). Baker shreds pitchers arms, the A's pay attention to hurlers' pitch counts.

Baker and Beane are powerful, strongminded men with firm beliefs about how baseball should be played, and those beliefs do not align in the slightest. To suggest that Beane should hire Baker is absurd.

Still not convinced you should go down to Vegas and lay a wager on the Cards? There's more!

There was more than a little Rickey Henderson in Jose Reyes, the Mets' superb leadoff man, this season. He runs wild, hits for average, goes deep, and can ignite a dugout with a winning personality far more consistent than Rickey's.

Here are links to the Baseball Reference pages for Henderson and Reyes. Armed with this data -- yes Mr. Jenkins, that is a word native to the English language -- we can examine how much of Henderson is in Reyes.

2006 was Reyes' second full season. He played in 69 games in 2003, in 53 games in 2004. In 2006, his age 23 season, Reyes posted the following numbers:

.300/.354/.487 (.841 OPS), 19 HR, 64 SB, 17 CS = 79% success

Rickey! broke into baseball in 1979, also at the age of 20, playing 79 games. I'd like to use his third year, and second complete season, as a comparison, but that was the strike year and Rickey! played only 108 games. So we'll factor it to the 153 games that Reyes played this year:

.319/.408/.437 (.845 OPS), "8.5" HR, "79.3" SB, "31.2" CS = 72% success

Reyes has more pop, and stole fewer bases but with more success. (In 1982 Rickey! would swipe 130 bags, shattering the stolen base record.)


He runs wild,

Check. Also I should be fair and note that Reyes had 17 triples. Rickey! had 7 in 1981, which was as many as he would ever hit in his career.

hits for average,

We'll see if Reyes continues to hit .300. Rickey! wound up with a career BA of 0.285. (Is that "hitting for average"? For a corner outfielder?)

goes deep,

Check, in 2006, although last year he hit 7 out.

and can ignite a dugout with a winning personality far more consistent than Rickey's.

No no no, I have a firm grip on my jaw this time. How is this like Rickey!? Does Reyes gripe that he wants days off? Does he refer to himself in the third person?

And he gets on base.

Right? I mean we all know how Rickey! could work a walk and had a .401 career on-base, right?

In 2006, Reyes' breakout season or career year, he finally posted an above-average on-base percentage. In 2005 Reyes had a 0.273 "batting for average" and a 0.300 OBP. Reyes has been in the majors four seasons, 1837 at bats, and has taken 98 walks. Double-digit walks in three seasons' worth of at-bats! Rickey! took more than 100 walks in seven different seasons.



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