The great baseball writer Bill James once wrote a chapter in one of his Abstracts about hitters before and after getting beaned by a pitcher. These injuries can be devastating (don’t look!) and sometimes have enormous short and long-term impact on a player’s career. I have always been sensitive to this issue because my Expos got screwed over most summers with this crap.
- SI, July 14, 1980: The Montreal Expos see no humor in being a target for National League pitchers, but that hasn’t stopped them from meting out punishment of their own. On May 3 Third Baseman Larry Parrish was struck on the right wrist by the Giants’ Ed Whitson and missed 31 games. On May 30 Rightfielder Ellis Valentine took a pitch on the cheekbone from the Cardinals’ Roy Thomas and won’t play again until this week. On June 12 Centerfielder Andre Dawson was struck on the right wrist by San Diego’s Eric Rasmussen and missed five games. “We think the Dawson and Parrish cases were deliberate,” says Montreal Manager Dick Williams. “We don’t like people throwing at our people. There will always be a time to get back for something. It may take a year or two, but these things aren’t forgotten.” Source
I think the Ellis Valentine beanball had real impact on his career, and Parrish had so many it took him a few years to get back to early promise. The Pirates were the worst. Buncha lunatics.
MATT BENNING’S CONCUSSION
I’ve been watching more baseball lately, October will do that to a guy. I’ve also been thinking about that 30 year old chapter by James, and about Matt Benning and why his passing is so different than one year ago. If I made a list of all the things he seems to be lacking (confidence, decisiveness) the most alarming is passing. He’s sending grenades where last year they were pure gems. Maybe it’s the concussion?
- Matt Benning Corsi for 5×5 October 2016 to Feb 3 2017: (582-495) 54.04
- Matt Benning Corsi for 5×5 Since February 3, 2017: (323-362) 47.15
I understand February was a long time ago and there are all kinds of factors (quality of competition, partner) but I think Matt Benning a year ago had more nuance to his game, especially passing. It’s also true the gap between 47 and 54 percent isn’t so massive you’d necessarily pull him from the lineup. Still, a real concern. He was 41gp, 2-8-10 before the incident and is 25gp, 1-4-5 since, so the offense has remained fairly consistent. I know it’s a stretch to imply the issue is ongoing, but you know those bean balls sometimes covered longer than one season and that’s for sure.
WOWY MCDAVID (FWDS)
- Original Pouzar asked about the McDavid WOWY’s yesterday, thought we might have a look to see what we can find. Source
- Most of these numbers are in a criminally small sample size. I’m not math expert, but any time I post something like this, a responsible math human will send a quick note to remind me that this kind of table irritates the people who want math to be used responsibly.
- There are players who show well in all three categories: Leon Draisaitl, Anton Slepyshev, Jussi Jokinen, Patricl Maroon, Kailer Yamamoto, DrakeCaggiula, Zack Kassian, Ryan Strome, Mark Letestu, Iiro Pakarinen. Oilers are having a nice Corsi run.
WOWY MCDAVID (BLUE)
- The Oilers third pair of Yohann Auvitu and Eric Gryba is performing better without than with McDavid, and they are killing it with 97. That’s some kind of number set.
- Small sample size alert.
- Kris Russell and Matt Benning are not strong without McDavid, all other blue get A’s across the board.
- Darnell Nurse has good possession numbers.
Another Bill James beauty is ‘replacement level’ players, or rather a non-existent player who would represent something near average while being readily available. In 1985 baseball terms, a ‘replacement level’ left fielder would probably hit 16 home runs, drive in 74 runs and hit .269. Kevin McReynolds, 1991. That’s a good player but you can probably find him without sending out a lot of value—maybe he’s a free agent who didn’t get signed in the first wave.
Yesterday, I wrote the following: “If Kailer Yamamoto plays all year on 97’s wing, going 15-25-40, is that success?” I didn’t mention it, but in my own mind I was trying to find a line in the sand for ‘replacement level’ 1R in the modern NHL era. It’s impossible to find a ‘replacement level’ Connor McDavid right winger because those guys are going to get good boxcars just because of who they’re hanging out with every night. Here are the RW’s who played with 97 last season and their 5x5boxcars:
- Leon Draisaitl 674:01 minutes (10-15-25)
- Jordan Eberle 402:31 minutes (6-9-15)
- Jesse Puljujarvi 84:01 minutes (0-4-4)
- Drake Caggiula 67:13 minutes (1-2-3)
- Zack Kassian 38:22 minutes (2-2-4)
- Tyler Pitlick 34:06 minutes (0-0-0)
- Iiro Pakarinen 3:40 minutes (0-0-0)
Not all of these men lined up at RW, but they are the group we’d recognize as playing mostly that position with Connor McDavid one year ago. Leon Draisaitl and Jordan Eberle are above ‘replacement level’ although you’ll find people who will argue the point on Eberle (I am not one of them).
- If we add up all of the minutes, we get 1,304, averaging 16 minutes a game at 5×5.
- That seems a little high for replacement level, but we’re dealing with McDavid’s winger here.
- The total boxcars for 97’s RW’s at 5×5 one year ago? 19-32-51.
- That’s above replacement level for sure, if we added even a small amount of special team production to this player (5-5-10) the boxcar total would be 24-37-61. That’s well above replacement level.
- What if we took away Draisaitl and Eberle, then extrapolated the rest back to 1,304 minutes? 17-46-63. Good Christ, is Connor McDavid’s ‘replacement level’ RW a 60-point winger? Check my math!
- I’m not certain how we’d establish replacement level for a McDavid RW to be honest. It’s interesting that the ‘replacement level’ wingers did so well with McDavid a year ago. Maybe a “Yamamoto” is the way to go, just not the actual Yamamoto this year?
Kailer Yamamoto is on pace for a 40-point season, that seems low for a ‘replacement level’ player at this spot in the order. Agree?
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun two hours with much to discuss, I can’t wait! 10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Pierre Lebrun, TSN and The Athletic. Is it time to panic in Montreal? And what about Edmonton?
- Andy McNamara, TSN. NFL weekend was wild and crazy.
- Jason Gregor. Eskimos incredible comeback, Oilers in Pittsburgh.
- Simon Boisvert, Prospect Insider. What should the Oilers do with Kailer Yamamoto?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!