All posts by CarterHayes

Clyde Stubblefield – Funk Thing

You don't have to do no soloing, brother, just keep what you got... Don't turn it loose, 'cause it's a mother. - James Brown to Clyde Stubblefield

Some drummers are all pyrotechnics. Some are all power. Others are rock-solid consistent. Not many could play one little twenty second break immersed in a ten-minute impromptu vamp and make an irresistible, booty-shakin' force that changes the landscape of music forever. There are probably more people in the world today who have – whether they realize it or not – heard a Clyde Stubblefield break or vamp than people who haven't. The Funky Drummer laid the rhythmic foundation of five decades and counting of the most popular music the world has ever known.

Bonus: Clyde and Jabo solo, together.

2 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10 (2 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10)
You must be a WGOM Citizen to rate WGOM Videos.
Loading...

03 January 2017: Pick Three

Over the extended weekend I listened through my backlog of Effectively Wild episodes. Co-host Sam Miller is leaving the podcast after 1000 episodes (reading between the lines, his new employer - the 4ltr - made him quit). He'll be replaced by Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs; the podcast is also moving from BP to Fangraphs.

Episode 999 was a listener question show. A listener who is renovating his office asked for suggestions for three iconic photos that represent baseball's history & greatness. The hosts observed that their top three photos of historic/great moments might not be photos of the top three moments in their lives as fans. Either way, what are yours?

William Tyler – Highway Anxiety

This is not William Tyler's WGOM debut; last year Bootsy spun "Geography of Nowhere," a cut from Tyler's 2013 album Impossible Truth. He released his follow-up album, Modern Country, this June. Tyler wrote it in Oxford, Mississippi, and recorded it in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

For me the album evokes a contemporary perspective on Gram Parsons' Cosmic American Music, a genre that blurs country, folk, rock, soul, and bluegrass. Jazz is very much Tyler's addition to this mix – you can hear guitar greats Chet Atkins, Les Paul, and Bill Frisell in this track as much as Parsons' take on country-rock. Listen hard enough and you'll hear some Link Wray & Dick Dale, too.

3 votes, average: 9.00 out of 103 votes, average: 9.00 out of 103 votes, average: 9.00 out of 103 votes, average: 9.00 out of 103 votes, average: 9.00 out of 103 votes, average: 9.00 out of 103 votes, average: 9.00 out of 103 votes, average: 9.00 out of 103 votes, average: 9.00 out of 103 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10 (3 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10)
You must be a WGOM Citizen to rate WGOM Videos.
Loading...

Michael Kiwanuka – Black Man in a White World

Michael Kiwanuka's Love & Hate is one of my favorite albums of the year, and the above cut seems particularly apt social commentary and a fitting spin after Pepper's selection yesterday. If you're inclined, the live studio track below is excellent, but I didn't think it qualified by the (unofficial?) live recording convention for WGOM videos.

5 votes, average: 9.00 out of 105 votes, average: 9.00 out of 105 votes, average: 9.00 out of 105 votes, average: 9.00 out of 105 votes, average: 9.00 out of 105 votes, average: 9.00 out of 105 votes, average: 9.00 out of 105 votes, average: 9.00 out of 105 votes, average: 9.00 out of 105 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10 (5 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10)
You must be a WGOM Citizen to rate WGOM Videos.
Loading...

Falvey, Philosophy, & the Future

"Good pitching beats good hitting," the saying goes. "TINSTAAPP," might be the rejoinder.

Derek Falvey no longer works for the reigning American League Champions. As of today Falvey is in charge of the worst team in baseball. The newly-installed Executive Vice President & Chief Baseball Officer of the Minnesota Twins, Falvey has been credited with a substantial role in the development of the pitching program that provided the bedrock of his former team's success. He announced his first hire, Thad Levine, who will be the Twins' General Manager and Senior Vice President. Levine's previous duties in Texas included international scouting, player acquisition, roster composition, contract negotiations, and statistical/financial analysis. Rob Antony, the now-former interim GM, was considered the contracts expert in former GM Terry Ryan's cadre of longtime assistants and former GMs. Antony's new duties have not yet been defined. The continued involvement of Terry Ryan, Bill Smith, Wayne Krivsky, Mike Radcliff, Deron Johnson, Brad Steil, and even Jack Goin appear to be open questions.

As I contemplated the rosters of Cubs and their opponent last night, I felt the first major question of this new era of Twins baseball hit my mind with full force:

Will the Twins follow the pattern of Falvey's old team and stress the development of a raft young pitchers as the prime motivator of a run at contention. The Twins' ballpark might be well-suited to this approach, but the volatility of young arms suggests a substantial amount of assumed risk in that strategy.

Or will Falvey shift gears and attempt to fix a player development program that has left talented young position players spinning their wheels in a constant revolving door between Minnesota and the minor leagues? Said another way, will Falvey's plan be to develop a core of talented young position players like the Cubs, and then buttress it with a pitching staff assembled through smart acquisitions and signings?

Of course, it's simply too early to know. What we'll learn about Falvey's roster construction approach first will be informed by the more mundane, familiar offseason questions: Which veterans are tendered a contract? How does the club approach and weather arbitration? What does the front office say about the 2017 roster?

But it seems worth discussing, in the (small?) window we have before things begin to take shape under Falvey's guidance, the merits and pitfalls of each approach, or how – and to what degree – we might like to see them applied to the organization. This is a pivotal moment in the existence of our favorite franchise. It's the first gust of truly fresh air through a front office that has been intellectually stagnant & compositionally fetid for over a decade, a front office that was working off a plan that traced its origin back to the mid-1980s and its conventions back to pre-integration baseball. The twenty-first century, it seems, may have finally arrived for the Minnesota Twins.

The clubs that concluded the World Series last night offer two compelling patterns. For the first time in a long while, there is an exciting amount of uncertainty around the Twins.

Top Twins Tater Tattooists

In honor of Brian Dozier joining Harmon Killebrew in the 40 homer club, here are the single season franchise leaders in HR by position, presented three ways because "most homers by a [position player] is a very squishy conversation.

50% of games at primary position

PosPlayerHRAgeYear
CMauer28262009
1bKillebrew46251961
2bDozier42292016
3bKillebrew49331969
SSSmalley24261979
LFKillebrew49281964
CFHall33251965
RFAllison35281963
DHDavis29311991
PKaat3251964

100% of games at primary position

PosPlayerHRAgeYear
CBattey26281963
1bKillebrew26361972
2bDozier28282015
3bGaetti34271986
SSVersalles20241964
LFKillebrew49281964
CFPuckett31261986
RFBrunansky27241985
DHThome25392010
PKaat3251964

as X position

PosPlayerHRGAgeYear
CBattey26145281963
1bKillebrew44160311967
2bDozier40135292016
3bKillebrew42150231959
SSSmalley23161261979
LFKillebrew49157281964
CFPuckett31158261986
RFAllison34140281963
DHDavis29150311991
PHMincher446261964
PHLecroy419282004

How Many Brians Dozier?

On a recent episode of Effectively Wild, the hosts were presented with the following scenario:

Let's say you run a team filled entirely with league-average players, and you're given the unique & magical option of replacing as many of those players as you like with Barry Bondses. How many Barrys do you take, where do they play, where do you hit them in the order, and how many games does the team win?

The hosts decided to answer the question three times: once for 2016 Barry Bonds, once for 1993 Barry Bonds, and once more for 2004 Barry Bonds. The hosts assumed that every starting position player & member of the rotation were roughly 2-win players, every bench player was slightly better than replacement level, and every reliever a 1-win player. Finally, they used the lineup analysis tool at Baseball Musings to generate a rough idea of how many runs their Bonds-fueled offense would score per game.

Let's substitute "Barry Bondses" with "Brians Dozier" and contemplate the scenario twice: once with full 2016 Brian Dozier, and once with post-17 June 2016 Brian Dozier. What are our answers?

On the full season, Dozier has posed a .349 OBP and .580 SLG. His value according to your preferred metric is 6.0 rWAR, 5.7 fWAR, or 4.7 WARP. Since 17 June, Dozier has a .369 OBP and .746 SLG. A league-average hitter across MLB would have a .322 OBP and .419 SLG, which is just about what Kurt Suzuki has managed this year (.319/.421). A lineup of store-brand Kurts Suzuki would score 4.510 runs per game.

Using the 1989-2002 model of the lineup tool, a lineup of eight full season Brians Dozier, plus a store brand Suzuki at catcher, would score 6.375 runs per game. A lineup of eight post-17 June Brians Dozier plus IGA Suzuki would score 8.177 runs per game.

Obviously you deploy a Dozier at second & shortstop, where he has significant experience, at DH, and at 1b (I mean, Ryan Howard plays there...). Dozier's roughly an average defender at second (Fangraphs has his UZR/150 at -0.9 over 5144 innings). At short he's a bit worse: -5.0 over 732.1 innings. But then it starts getting tricky.

Dozier has exactly 20 games at 3b in the pro level, none since he played 6 innings at third for New Britain in 2011. Reaction time is the big unknown and Dozier's limited range at shortstop becomes less important. Michael Cuddyer had a -8.1 UZR/150 at 2b over 532.1 innings and was -10.2 at 3b. Assuming Dozier's arm is weaker than Cuddyer's, but that he gets to a few more balls than his former teammate, we could say Dozier's probably in the neighborhood of a -3.5 defender at third.

Dozier has never played outfield in pro ball. Cuddyer was -8.1 over 7546.2 innings in right field. Cuddyer clearly made a deal with the SSS devil to get his 34.4 UZR/150 in 36 blessedly uneventful innings in center. Dozier is younger and more mobile than Cuddyer was, a plus for potential deployment in center, but his arm becomes more of a factor in the outfield. Frankly, your guess is as good as mine.

Since Dozier is a middle infielder you can relieve yourself of the burden of carrying a Denny Hocking on the roster to cover up-the-middle positions on the bench, but you probably need a backup catcher with Chris Herrmann's resume. Whether you carry eleven or twelve pitchers probably depends on your feelings about a bunch of 1-win relievers. Of course, you could elect to have a six-man rotation to give yourself one more 2-win starter.

So, how many Brians Dozier do you take – full season and post-17 June – to make up your team? Where do you play them?

Bull (Market) Dozier?

Brian Dozier is having himself one heck of a season. In the first 62 games (though mid-June), Dozier was OPSing below .700: .227/.325/.369, with only 7 HR & 12 doubles and a .250 BABIP. That put him on pace for this kind of season (pro-rated over 162 games):

GPAABH2b3bHRBBIBBSOHBPBAOBPSLGOPSBABIP
1627036091393201974311316.227.325.369.694.250

Here's what he's done since then:

GPAABH2b3bHRBBIBBSOHBPBAOBPSLGOPSBABIP
713222919320531253631.320.371.7421.113.308
1627356652134612715871443.320.371.7421.113.308

Take another look at that prorated home run pace. Since mid-June Dozier's been slugging the ball the way Bret Boone could only have dreamed.

But has he been hitting cheapies? According to Home Run Tracker, Dozier's average true distance this season is 397.7 feet, which is just below the AL average (399.2 ft) and his average speed off the bat is 103.7 mph, just a tick below average (103.9 mph). Only two of his homers have been hit to the right of dead-center (off Cesar Ramos in Arlington & Carlos Rodon in Chicago). Home Run Tracker rates 8 of Dozier's homers as "No Doubt" clouts, which ties him with the following players: M. Machado, E. Longoria, B. Harper, M. Trout, D. Ortiz, E. Gattis, M. Cabrera, C. Gonzalez, A. Duvall. Some notable names with No Doubt hits that don't speak as loud: J. Donaldson, M. Sano, A. Rizzo, P. Goldschmidt, K. Morales, P. Alvarez, J. Upton, A. Beltre. Dozier is tied with Adrian Beltre for 5th in "Just Enough" homers, trailing both Jay Bruce & Robinson Cano (and one ahead of his playfully mephitic fellow keystone slugger Rougned Odor). Draw what conclusions you will, but it seems that Dozier's been neither wildly lucky or Thor-like.

Dozier's been just about as good on the road as he's been in Minneapolis:

SplitGPAABH2b3bHRBBIBBSOHBPBAOBPSLGOPSBABIP
Home683002727818319222513.287.343.585.928.288
Away652912526814219312554.270.356.567.924.272

Fangraphs' David Laurila wrote up Dozier's insight on his approach just last month (August 5th). Dozier had homered the night before (#22), "putting him on pace to match last year's career-high total of 28" as Laurila noted. The article's worth your time if you haven't read it already. I won't recap any of it here, other than to say I hope Dozier's philosophy is respected by the coaching staff & front office, and that he shares it more widely in the clubhouse. Last week Fangraphs' Scott Strandberg followed up on Laurila's interview with some analysis of Dozier's new swing mechanics. In a piece published at Fangraphs today, August Fagerstrom observes that Dozier currently is second on MLB leaderboards for two metrics: home runs (behind Mark Trumbo) and ISO (behind David Ortiz). What Dozier has done is truly historic. Fagerstrom: "[Dozier's] .298 ISO is the highest unadjusted figure in the expansion era (1961-present) for a second baseman and the highest by any second baseman not named Rogers Hornsby in baseball history (emphasis mine). Adjusted, Dozier is 6th since 1961, behind Joe Morgan ('76), Davey Johnson ('73), Bobby Grich ('81), Ryne Sandberg ('90), and Grich again ('79). A truly impressive list no matter which way you make it

That list also suggests something else: that Dozier's best days as a player may well be happening right now. Will the Brian Dozier we know right now – or, heck, even the Brian Dozier of 2014 & 2015 – be a solid contributor on the next great Twins team?

Dozier will be in his age-30 season next year. We all are familiar with the aging characteristics of bat-first second basemen, and if you figure Dozier's defense is about league average (as most metrics suggest), then the question begins to be shaped by forces outside of Dozier's control. Will the next great Twins team come before Dozier is a significant liability in the infield? Jeff Kent & Dan Uggla are proof that a team can trot out a mediocre defender at second base for a good long time if he averages 25+ bombs a season. If Dozier can keep that up, the answer two both questions is probably "Yes."

To finally get to the question raised in the title of this post: should whomever the Twins name as their new GM aggressively shop Dozier this winter?

Last season the Twins signed Dozier to a deal that has been very club-friendly to date: 4 years/$20 million. After this season Dozier is due $6 million in 2017, followed by $9 million in 2018. As the value of a win continues to rise (currently somewhere around $6 million $8 million per win), Dozier promises to offer significant value as long as he can stay on the field and manage at least the 2.4 rWAR/3.3fWAR he posted in 2015. By keeping him, the Twins have one major, veteran bat in their lineup for two more seasons. (With, I might add, a great approach to hitting, whether the front office appreciates it or not).

On the other hand, however, Dozier's contract and production could be extremely attractive to clubs looking to contend in 2017. The most appealing free agent second basemen this winter are probably Neil Walker, Chase Utley, and Kelly Johnson.

The major wrinkle in pursuing any trade is figuring out what teams might be looking to upgrade at the keystone next year. Of the obvious contenders, the Dodgers & Cardinals both make plenty of sense, but other likely first-league clubs are pretty well set at second: Cubs (Baez/Zobrist), Astros (Altuve), Rangers (Odor), Red Sox (Petunia), Blue Jays (Travis), Pirates (Harrison), Marlins (Gordon), and so on. Any non-Dodgers/Cardinals trade would probably need to happen with a team that is out this year but likes its chances next season.

So the question is, if you're the Twins' new GM, what do you do?

 

August 10, 2016: Fielder

For all the media talk about Prince Fielder's stardom, I thought this was pretty interesting:

Dude Seasons rWAR fWAR
Justice1440.540.4
Hrbek1438.437.6
D Lee1434.334.5
T Martinez1628.828.7
Konerko1827.623.2
Morneau1427.122.8
M Vaughn1227.031.1
Klesko1626.930.1
Fielder1223.826.8
Brunansky1421.823.3

I don't have any particular conclusion in mind (and I don't mean to diminish Prince's career), but I doubt many observers would have perceived Fielder's value to be as limited as it was – by whichever flavor of WAR you like. That contract was a disaster on more than one level.