Don’t panic over Melky

Posted By on August 16, 2012 10:08 am

Hey, this blog still exists?

I know that both of my loyal readers probably gave up on this blog since I haven’t written anything on it in months except for those posts that looked strangely like paid advertisements. Hmmmm. Anyway, I’m back because, as often happens, I started to make a point on twitter and couldn’t sufficiently explain myself in 140 characters.

The point is this: The loss of Melky Cabrera is tougher blow for the Giants emotionally (among the players and fans) than it is realistically.

What? You’re an idiot, Fletch! Do you realize how much better Melky is than Gregor Blanco? And do you realize that one game can be the difference between making the playoffs and not?

What I mean is this: 45 games is not a lot of games. A lot of weird things happen over 45 games that wouldn’t happen over 162. I could give you a million examples of someone who looked awesome or terrible over 45 games, when the opposite was actually the case. For 45 games, anything can happen. To players and teams.

Now, let’s look at this statistically. I kinda hate the stat WAR, because I don’t like the defensive component. But if you take that out, and look only at offensive WAR, I think it’s semi-useful, if only as a means to compare. So Cabrera’s offensive WAR, according to B-R, is 4.5. Gregor Blanco’s is 1.2.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but WAR is a cumulative stat, so a guy who plays more has a higher WAR than a guy who plays less, even if their production is equal. Blanco has about 70 percent of the plate appearances of Cabrera, so I think we can say if he had that extra 30 percent of PAs, producing at the same levels, his WAR would be 30 percent higher, so about 1.5.

So the difference between 500-PA Cabrera and 500-PA Blanco is about 3 wins. Over the final 45 games there are maybe 180 PAs left for Cabrera/Blanco, so that’s a difference of … what? … maybe one win? (And this isn’t even taking into account that Blanco is actually better than Cabrera defensively.)

But one win is the difference between making the playoffs or not!

Yes, that’s true. But this theoretical one win is the average. If the Giants played the final 45 games a million times with Cabrera and a million times with Blanco, on average they’d be one win better with Cabrera. But you know that there would be wide variations within that. Sometimes they’d be five wins better with Blanco, because even bad players get hot and good players get cold over short spans. It happens. Happens all the damn time.

We’re talking about replacing 11 percent of a team’s plate appearances over 25 percent of the season.

That’s nothing.

Don’t believe me? Look at the Reds. Did you realize that Joey Votto has been out for a month? What have the Reds done since he’s been gone? They’ve gone 21-8!

That’s a fluke, Jeff. They are not better without Joey Votto, and you’re an idiot for suggesting it. It’s just a small sample … oh wait!

So the point to all of this is you should step away from the ledge. The Giants did get worse yesterday. No question about it. But over 45 games (44 now, since they already lost their first post-Cabrera game on Wednesday), teams don’t always play to the level of their talent.

I expect that the Giants will be in the race right till the end, just as I did before Cabrera got suspended. They may win and they may lose, but whatever happens is going to be determined on the virtual randomness of a few bounces here and there, or a few well-timed hits. That’s what truly affects the outcome of those two or three or four games that will be difference between making the playoffs and not making it.


2 Responses to “Don’t panic over Melky”

  1. Marvin says:

    I am more worried about the pitching, with the problems of Lincecum and the inconsistency of Zito and the problems in the bullpen. The Giants are not scoring a lot of runs, and probably will continue to do so. They will need to get better pitching or rather, more consistent pitching from top to bottom of the rotation.

    Thanks for writing again.

  2. Anonymous says:

    How prophetic.

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