Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Future Baby Names (Part 1, D-Backs Review) 

In a former life, my wife was a teacher. As the good, caring boyfriend/fiancee/husband I was/am, I would sometimes help her grade papers.

Goodness, what a tedious process. To some extent the grades did help provide distinctions between students, separating out the bright and hard-working from the dull and lazy. But it was an awful lot of work. (And I only did a small portion of it.)

Once you graded enough papers (or entered their grades into the grading software), you could figure out which ones my wife did not enjoy teaching. And sure enough as we started talking about baby names for our child (we didn't know the gender ahead of time), several names were nixed because they belonged to a particularly unpleasant (or dull, or both) student.

I relate this because as I begin a review of the first half (or 55%) of the D-Backs' season, I wanted to clarify why I won't be issuing formal grades. I also wanted to explain why the likelihood of us naming any future kids after the 2004 Diamondback squad is small.

Also, it should be noted that since I started after the start of the season, I don't have any predictions or expectations to compare to. Lucky me. Also, I'm not going to try to be exhaustive. Scott Hairston played the outfield once or twice. We'll just assume he played 2B, OK?

We'll start with the outfield. The statistics following players' names are as follows:
1. 55% of 2003 VORP
2. 2004 YTD VORP
3. 2004 Win Shares
4. 2004 Win Share Above Average

Left Field

Luis Gonzalez (29.3, 23.2, 11, 2) -- Luis' year isn't quite as good as last year's thus far. Sexson's absence has probably hurt, but it doesn't explain the drop-off from last year. Still, he's got the most Win Shares and Win Shares Above Average of any position player. Now, if only Luis could look the ball all the way into his glove (which he's failed to do at least twice this year). Luis is the most untradeable Diamondback -- the only place he's going in August is the operating room for elbow surgery (maybe). I like Gonzo -- my favorite D-Back -- but don't like the name Luis.

Center Field

Steve Finley (21.9, 26.5, 9, -1) -- Finley, a notoriously slow starter, warmed up faster this year and has the most VORP of any position player, ranking 2nd only to Jim Edmonds for NL CFs. Even so, his Win Shares are actually below average. I like Fins and have never quite understood the depth of feeling regarding his poor defense as he looks OK to me, which says everything about my own lack of knowledge of the game. With my name Stefan, you think I'm going to name a child similar but different?

Right Field

Danny Bautista (1.5, 19.6, 10, 1), Quentin McCracken (-5.8, 1.2, 1, 0) -- Bautista has exceeded any reasonable or even unreasonable expectations after a poor 2003 season. Q, well, it's going to be hard to get back to his 2003 level of play -- he's going to have to start throwing games. Daniel's not a bad name, and while Quentin's got its good points, I'm ruling it out on performance reasons.

So, overall, when three guys get exactly 1/3 of your win shares, I can't really assign much blame to the team's failures to the outfield who, as a group, are exceeding their 2003 production. Whether or not they're earning their salaries, that's a subject for another time.

Final note: the D-Backs' Win Shares get pummeled because of the D-Backs' record. I know, I know, that's the whole point of Win Shares, but as I've noted before, the D-Backs have the worst "luck" in the league when comparing to their Pythagenport record (OK, the Red Sox and the Mariners now beat them out slightly). Use the 3rd order record instead of their actual record, and you'd add about 21 Win Shares to the team's total, of which Gonzo, Fins, and Bautista would each claim about 2 of.

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