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Great Scott?

Posted at 3:15 PM on October 24, 2005 by Bob Collins (7 Comments)

I know Scott Podsednik is overrated because a few years ago he slipped to the 7th round in an APBA league. Those folks are pretty smart and if Posednik slipped, there must be a reason for it.

Then he went out and won the National League Rookie of the Year.

I thought of that last night in the 8th when the Houston Astros scored two runs on a pinch-hit single by Jose Vizcaino. I can't remember who the runner was but the guy at third scored easily and when Vizcaino went opposite field....Podsednik charged the ball and the runner on second was just barely to third when he came up with the ball in relatively short leftfield.

"This guy is dead," I offered to my son.

"Yep," he replied.

Whereupon Podsednik threw to the catcher-whose-name-must-not-be-uttered who dove to make the tag but a terrific slide prevented it. He was safe.

This would be akin to your spouse pouring a cup of coffee in the time it took you to put on your parka and boots, start the car, and back it out of the driveway to warm up and return just in time for her to be putting the pot down.

That is one horrible arm, a fact the announcers missed.

They also miss this little nugget: Podsednik isn't that good. He gets credit for the turnaround in Chicago, but a .351 OBP and a .349 slugging pctg is really quite...ummmm... ordinary. That's a .700 Total Ops.

Let's look at a few of the offensive equals (via Total OPS)

Terrence Long
Marcus Scutaro
Mike Lamb (bench-player for Astros)
Jerry Hairston
Darrin Erstad

So we know it's not the guy's defense that makes him valuable, and his total Ops suggests it's not the guy's offense either. Fifty-nine stolen bases are nice, but the value of a stolen base itself is questionable.

The ChiSox are a charmed team. Someone ESPN pointed out this morning that they keep making mistakes, and they keep working out for them. If you look at the Pythagorean formula, the ChiSox are quite simply the luckiest team in baseball.

And it looks like that'll be enough.

But it's good news for the Central Division competitors because luck can't last forever.

Comments (7)

I wouldn't attribute it all to luck. They have some very good players, and some very good pitchers. They have gotten some breaks, and they have taken advantage of them. They don't make a lot of mental mistakes. Have they gotten some luck? Sure. Name the last champion that was unlucky when they won it all. But it isn't all luck. They are also pretty good.

Posted by Jeff | October 25, 2005 10:45 AM

They do have good starters and, yes, they do have good players and, no, I'm not attributing it ALL to luck. But the Pythagorean method never lies. The ChiSox win-loss record is far beyond what the runs scored vs. runs allowed formula would normally yield.

Don't get me wrong. I think the ChiSox deserve to be where they are. But if you try to duplicate the season they've had, the numbers will balance out. The longer they go playing at this level, the greater the liklihood they'll return to norms.

Unless you really believe that Scott Podsednik is that much better than Carlos Lee. (g)

Posted by Bob Collins | October 25, 2005 11:37 AM

Yeah, Podsednik is overrated, but then again, for the role he plays on that team, a .351 OBP is much more significant than a .349 SLUG; .351 is better than the OBP of anybody the Twins put in the leadoff spot this year, and even better than the two most frequent leadoff men for the Indians (Sizemore .348, Crisp .345).

Luck is often a by-product of opportunity, and the Sox have given themselves good opportunities this season. Will it last? Probably not, but only probably not.

Posted by David Wintheiser | October 25, 2005 12:12 PM

//but only probably not.

Funny thing about luck, ain't it. Yeah, that's a good point, there's no sense sticking a guy in the top of the order and then lamenting his slugging percentage.

A lot of people yesterday were talking how surprsing it was that a guy who didn't hit a homer in the regular season hit one in the World Series. Surprising? No. What was surprising is he didn't hit one in the regular season, because he's usually good for about 10 dingers a year.

So let's say Scott's forte is his ability to get on base. I'll buy that. But .351 with no power and no defense to speak of...well.... that's not good either.

Methinks whatever credit Scott Podsednik gets for rejuvenating the ChiSox, probably belongs instead on the mound.

Posted by Bob Collins | October 25, 2005 12:20 PM

By the way, just for kicks, I messed around with the VORP. The Value Over Replacement Player is a measurement of a player's contribution in runs over a replacement player at the same position given an equal number of plate appearances. This is another fine measure of a player's contribution whether it be via OBP, SLGNG or whatever toward runs. Since only runs matter.

In leftfield, the rankings are:

1. Jason Bay (PIT) #5 overall
2. Miguel Cabrera (FLA) #7 overall
3. Manny Ramirez (BOS) #14 overall
4. Adam Dunn (CIN) #32 overall
5. Hideki Matsui (NYY) #34 overall
6. Pat Burrell (PHI) #37 overall
7. Moises Alou (SF) #46 overall
8. Carl Crawford (TBA) #49 overall
9. Cliff Floyd (NYM) #50 overall
10. Matt Holliday (COL) #68 overall
11. Luis Gonzalez (AZ) #74 overall
12. Carlos Lee (MIL) #80 overall
13. Rondell White (DET) #97 overall
14. Reggie Sanders (STL) #104 overall
15. Frank Catalanotto (TOR) #111 overall
16. Kevin Mench (TEX) #124 overall
17. Jeff Conine (FLA) #144 overall
18. Garrett Anderson (ANA) #152 overall
19. Ryan Klesko (SD) #153 overall
20. Ryan Church (WASH) #154 overall
21. Matt Murton (CUBS) #191 overall
22. Randy Winn (SEA) #194 overall
23. Scott Podsednik (CWS) #208 overall

Remaining names in order include Bobby Kielty, Ryan Langerhans, Ricky Ledee, and John Rodriguez.

Posted by Bob Collins | October 25, 2005 1:05 PM

Scott Podsednik isn't necessarily better than Carlos Lee. But Scott Podsednik + Dustin Hermanson + Orlando Hernandez are better than Carlos Lee. The money saved by dealing Carlos Lee went into the bullpen. It's apples and oranges anyway, Podsednik and Lee fill different roles.

Podsednik was 2nd on the Sox in OBP, so he's not exactly bringing the team down on offense. If you add stolen bases to Podsednik's TB (subtracting for times he was thrown out) his SLG goes from .349 to .420 which makes his adjusted OPS .771. It's not perfect of course because a single and stolen base isn't a really a double if the batter after him makes an out before he steals the base. But three times this season (twice in one game) Podsednick went from first to third within the at bat of the player behind him. How is that significantly different than a triple?

Podsednik's speed affects the game whether it's the ability to score from 1st when the average player would only make third or by affecting the pitcher. The cookie he hit out for the walk off was precisely because Lidge didn't want to walk him and have his speed on the bases. Lidge challenged him and lost.

As for defense, Podsednik's speed allows him to get to balls that Lee can't. Podsednik had a zone rating of .898 this season as opposed to Lee's .853. Or in BP numbers Podsednik has a Rate of 108 to Lee's 94. Lee's strength is his bat, not in the field.

Regardless, the main turn around for the Sox has been pitching. Anyone who says otherwise hasn't been paying attention.

Posted by Scott Janssens | October 26, 2005 3:16 PM

I'm not sure I illustrated my point about defense very well. I recall one particular game (against the Twins IIRC) where the other theam had runners at first and second with two outs. The ball was jacked toward the corner. If Lee had been playing left it would have been a two RBI double, with Podsednik it was the third out.

Posted by Scott Janssens | October 26, 2005 3:24 PM

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