May 19 Game Thread: Beware the Barley Behemoths

Jonathan Lucroy continues to be one of the more underrated players in the league, and Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun are hitting. But that’s about it.

However, their pitchers have the fifth-best ERA in baseball at 3.19 (we’re number one with a 2.82), and a big part of the distance between them and us is Matt Garza and his unsightly 4.83. Take him out of the mix, and the rest of their staff has a collective ERA of 2.94. Other than former closer Jim Henderson, the bullpen’s been strong, led by a resurgent Frankie Rodriguez. But this team’s fortunes will depend on whether Kyle Lohse, Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, and Wily Peralta can all stay strong. Their FIP suggests that all four of them may have gotten a bit lucky, as the team’s FIP is 3.75, more than a half-run higher than the team ERA. But you can’t take a win off the scoreboard, and they have more than we do.

I’m still trying to find songs that are sort of punklike without being orthodox punk. So here’s my favorite Canadian band:

78 thoughts on “May 19 Game Thread: Beware the Barley Behemoths”

  1. a big part of the distance between them and us is Matt Garza and his unsightly 4.83. Take him out of the mix

    Ah, but you needn’t, since we get the pleasure of his company on Thursday.

  2. Over the course of his career, he’s been a really strong pitcher. So I doubt his lack of success will last. On the other hand, I think Marco Estrada is unlikely to remain as effective as he has been — his FIP is almost a run and a half higher than his ERA, and he’s leading the majors in home runs allowed, giving up two per nine innings.

  3. Just a stray thought left over from yesterday – I wonder how much influence Schafer’s working of a walk in the 8th off Seigrist had on that borderline call by Cooper? I have to think it that walk played a part in getting that last call.

  4. I like WAR more than most, but I have to question it a little when it has BJ at a positive 0.1 so far this year. I assume it’s mostly defense but wow.

  5. Last thread, Alex, you said a more appropriate comp for Heyward is Andruw not Frenchy. Well, Andruw wasn’t a bust. Heyward…… I know, RF defense, injury/illness, snippets of spectacular play, out of this world athleticism but of all the guys that aren’t hitting this season I’m the most frustrated by Heyward.

  6. Yes, Heyward is by far the most frustrating player on this team. He’s drawing a few walks but he’s missing far to many fastballs. He’s moving too much at the plate in my opinion.

    So, what’s really the point in keeping Uggla at this point?

  7. Heyward isn’t a bust! At all! He produced 6 wins above replacement in 2010, 5 wins in 2012, and combined for about 6 wins in 2011 and 2013 — and if you remember that league average is about 2 WAR, that means that he was an above average player in both of his “bad” years. Jason Heyward is 24 years old and has 20 career Wins Above Replacement. Jeff Francoeur is 30 years old and has 7 career Wins Above Replacement.

    Andruw was an incredibly good player who disappointed people when he didn’t turn into Willie Mays. Jason Heyward is not as good as Andruw, but the comparison works, because his glove and baserunning actually literally make him an above average and occasionally All-Star caliber player, despite his incredibly frustrating and occasionally downright awful offense.

    The real problem is that his rookie year is looking like a peak for him. If anything, his swing has regressed. Still, even if he’s a 4 win player instead of a 6 win player, that’s still a good player. Jeff Francoeur routinely struggled to stay above replacement level. Jason and Jeff just aren’t particularly comparable.

  8. Al Kaline had his peak at age 20, and Eddie Matthews had his peak at age 21, so if Heyward’s age 20 season ends up being his best season it wouldn’t be unprecedented.

  9. I don’t think Heyward is a bust either. I mean there’s still way more career that’s yet to be played, and he’s been really really good for a few stretches of time.

    That said, WAR for corner outfielders is completely broken in-my-kinda-humble-opinion. Cut the defensive component in half and you’ll get a better measure of true value.

  10. Alex Rodriguez had his peak at age 20, too. But they had a lot of other extraordinarily good seasons. This is Heyward’s fifth season, and he’s had two All-Star caliber seasons and two merely above average seasons. So his established level isn’t completely clear.

    Actually, another person who was mentioned last night could be a good comparison: Mike Cameron. Cameron struck out a lot, but he hit a bunch of homers, played all-world defense, and was worth more than 45 WAR. He was long one of Mac’s favorite players. If Heyward turns into Mike Cameron, he won’t be a Hall of Famer, but he’ll be one of the better players in baseball for more than a decade. That’s pretty good.

  11. I don’t think Heyward is a bust but I agree with krussell that WAR’s emphasis on his baserunning and defense overstates his value. If he was playing CF, I might buy it but right fielders are supposed to be dominant hitters. For corner outfielders, defense and baserunning are complementary, not primary, skills. And if he doesn’t get on base, what good are his baserunning skills anyway?

  12. I agree with both things said about Heyward. Like csg said, it seems there is too much movement in his swing, almost as if he’s too anxious. I think if he got away from the twitching, he could be smoother to and through the ball.

    But on the flip side, I concur wholeheartedly about what Alex said too. I mean, after all this dude is only 24. And he keeps showing flashes of trying to do the right things such as drive the ball the opposite way on outside pitches. More and more balls are starting to find holes albeit slowly.

  13. Jason Heyward will probably turn into a Hall of Fame calibur player. It’s just sad he will probably do it in a different uni.

  14. I don’t think he tries to hit outside pitches the other way. Pitchers can get him out in too many spots right now. Pound him in and he can’t get the bat to the ball due to all of his movement, throw it outside and he tries to pull it so we get that weak grounder to 1st and 2nd. He doesn’t sniff Lefties either.

    I think he’s too talented to be this streaky. A couple of small fixes and he would rake.

  15. @12 Positional archetypes matter in team construction because of relative scarcity, but not in this discussion. When Heyward creates an out that another player at the same position would not have created, it doesn’t make a lick of difference whether or not that position is right field, center field, or catcher. An extra out is an extra out. You like defense in center field because a center fielder has more opportunities to make plays, and better defensive skill thus has more impact there. But that’s baked into WAR already.

  16. It’s baked into WAR but the recipe is broken. A RF’ers four or five plate appearances per game are more important than his 2 chances in the field per game (most of which are very routine).

  17. It’s very possible that UZR and Defensive Runs Saved are broken when it comes to corner outfielders — frankly, I’m not familiar enough with the methodology to really be able to offer an informed opinion — but they pretty much agree when it comes to Heyward. He’s one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball and is worth 10-15 runs with his glove every year. When you couple that to positional replacement value — the fact that you’d rather have him in right field than a scrub you just called up from Triple-A — that’s how you get to be a 3 WAR player despite offering nothing offensively.

    Hopefully, he will actually remember how to hit, as he did in 2010 and 2012. But it is possible for someone to be an above average player despite being a terrible hitter, just as it is possible for someone to be an above average player despite being a terrible fielder.

  18. @17,


    Somebody else said that Heyward was still a young player and he has time. But he’s been in the majors for five years. Even though he is young relatively and chronologically, I don’t think you can really call him a young player anymore in the sense that he is still learning. It’s five years and he still hasn’t figure it out.

    CSG mentioned a couple of small fixes and he would be raking. First, that assumes that his problems are simply mechanical and not endemic to his swing. Second, it assumes that he can actually make these fixes. I assume that Greg Walker and everyone else knows what his problems are; if they were that easy to fix, they would already have done so. As for being talented, you are confusing, IMO, athleticism with hitting ability. He obviously is strong, fast, can hit the shit out of the ball at times and is, of course, a great outfielder. But that doesn’t mean he can hit or that his swing isn’t seriously flawed. I don’t know enough to say one way or the other but I wouldn’t conflate his “talent” with his ability to hit.

  19. My guess is baserunning is very accurately measured and weighted. The variables (bases, outs) are discrete and limited in number, and there’s a strong consensus as to the value of an extra base or an extra out as it pertains to run probability. It’s probably the most trustworthy aspect of advanced metrics by far.

  20. Heyward’s swing has a hole on the low and inside, and he stands way off the plate to compensate. Makes it tough to hit the outside pitches, tougher still when he’s trying to swing around the apparently instead of hitting to left field. There’s a lot of movement in his setup and his hands aren’t back at all, which seems more pronounced this season. He dives into the pitch and it takes a while for the barrel to come through the zone. Contrast with The Offense (great nickname), whose swing is so simple. Whatever Heyward’s WAR is, or how it’s weighted, to my eyes he’s disappointing at the plate. Defensively, he’s a gem.

  21. It’s like our guys have never tried to bunt before they reached the majors.

  22. 30, 32- You’re pressing our luck, guys. Hibernation Time or simply The Incompetence could break out again at any moment.

  23. How did we manage to find someone worse than Snitker? I didn’t think that was even possible.

  24. Ok i’ll concede that Heyward isn’t a total bust but I still insist that at his current level of offensive production he is a major disappointment. I think that this has already been stated, but a corner outfielder aint out there to win games with his glove.

  25. Freddie doesn’t fail in that situation often. Anyone else I would have expected that K.

  26. Fredi is in the mode of “I will ride on Minor’s back as long as I can” tonight. I guess someone in the bullpen needs a rest?

  27. A friend texted me the following:

    “So Powell said this was maybe the most impressive offensive game of the season, as there has been pressure on the Brewers every inning.

    In the course of agreeing, Don mentioned they have had several opportunities to put the game away.”

    Sad but true…

  28. BJ looks like he’s made an adjustment at the plate. Standing taller and not as open maybe? Definitely better balance tonight it seems.

  29. I wish we could do better than Carpenter in the eighth. I miss O’Ventbrel. Of course, that’s the least of this team’s problems, but we got spoiled for a while there.

  30. 48- Even for this team, 9 hits in 7 innings isn’t impressive. Our announcers can’t really be this dumb or shell-shocked, can they?

  31. Atta boy Chip, you dumbass. Way to continue to dare the baseball Gods until they finally give Braun his first homer and RBI since the oblique injury.

  32. @8 Eddie Mathews had one great season at age 21, but he had great seasons pretty much every year thru age 31. And his last two years in Milwaukee while not as good, would look pretty good in 2014.

  33. Nats lose at home, in 15 innings. Only thing that could sound as sweet, is if they lost at home, in 16, 17, or 18 innings. Or, I guess in 19.. or.. you get the idea.

  34. #70
    Not only that, but with 2 outs & a runner on 2nd in the bottom of the 14th, Rendon smacked a sinking liner to right-center that had game-winner written all over it.

    But Billy Hamilton made an outstanding, diving snag to preserve the tie.

    Nats gotta be hating that game.

  35. I was just checking oWAR and dWAR at baseball reference….I was shocked to see Heyward so high for defense. His dWAR is 1.6, the highest in baseball. How is that possible?

    He’s not that good is he?

  36. @51 David Carpenter has been consistently excellent for the Braves. Since he joined the team in 2013, he’s made 77 appearances covering 85 IP, and has allowed only 66 hits and 25 walks while striking out 97 batters (in other words, more Ks than H+BB).

    Carpenter’s composite Braves line (2013-14) is a 2.01 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 3.88 K/BB. Those are closer-level numbers.

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