That’s right I said it. My unhealthy obsession with baseball forces me to stomach far too much MLB Network. I watch MLBN constantly, usually driving me to the point of nausea, yelling at the television, and sometimes even poopie in my pants because of the idiotic things their “experts” blurt out. I will admit I enjoy a few of the analysts who appear on there frequently. Jon Hart usually has plenty of interesting things to add to their conversations and debates since he is a former GM and still is very involved in the Rangers front office. I also like Sean Casey quite a bit as he very rarely says stupid things and really seems like a genuinely nice dude who loves talking baseball. Kevin Millar is on there occasionally and he is at least funny. I also enjoy some of what the writers bring. Despite being a Red Sox homer, and therefore a douchebag, I’ve always been a fan of Peter Gammons. I only rarely have problems with the things said on air by Verducci, Rosenthal, and Heyman. Then, there is everybody else (I don’t include Yallof, Vasgersian, or Amsinger since they don’t do analysis and merely drive the show).
Unfortunately, the most common faces on the ‘Top 100 Players Right Now,’ ‘Top 10 Right Now,’ and ‘Hot Stove/MLB Tonight’ in recent weeks are the panel of former players. Almost all of whom are complete idiots. A recent discussion regarding MLBN programming on another forum led me to come up with this idea for a regular post. I intend to keep watching MLBN and write down the statements made that I have major problems with, and then critique them on this here blog. What follows will be my first attempt.
In the last week I was able to catch quite a bit of MLBN programming. Among the shows I watched were ‘Top 10 3B Right Now,’ ‘Top 10 Catchers Right Now,’ ‘Top Ten Shortstops Right Now,’ ‘Top 100 Players Right Now,’ and a lot of ‘Hot Stove’ shows. Here is a collection of the comments made by analysts on the show that pissed me off, and some quick comments, from me, about why. Be warned, it is going to seem like I am only picking on Harold Reynolds. I swear it is not on purpose, but he’s on every fucking show and he says the dumbest things. Also, I will not be debating the rankings the show put out for each segment, because they are beyond terrible and I could write a damn book about that. I will only be focusing on our hosts.
‘Top Third Basemen Right Now’:
Al Leiter and Kevin Millar both agreed that “Mark Reynolds needed to make adjustments very quickly because Buck Showalter will not tolerate his tendency to strike out”. They also both agreed that if he continued to strikeout at a 200+ pace, he would find himself on the bench.
Wow. Yes, you guys are correct. The Orioles acquired Reynolds having no idea that he was likely to strikeout a lot. News flash, boys! You don’t target veteran players in an effort to turn them into something they have never been before. It would be absolutely idiotic if Showalter or anyone else in the Orioles organization expected Mark Reynolds to come to the team and stop striking out.
‘Top 10 Shortstops Right Now’:
Al Leiter on Alexei Ramirez: “He is a great hitter who needs to learn how to defend better.”
Actually, Al, he is a slightly below average hitter due to his inability to get on base, but he is an excellent defender. (-2.2 Batting Runs vs. 10.8 Fielding Runs according to Fangraphs) Suck it.
Harold Reynolds, still talking about Ramirez: “He is really going to take off when his position in the batting order is established, this will also help him in the field.”
Harold’s “analysis” has always amazed me. It feels good to finally write it down. I would love for him to explain how this was possible, but he didn’t. He just slid past it as if it didn’t just come out of his mouth. I really want an explanation as to how much better a guy can get just by batting in the same spot in the order everyday, and to have that, in turn, effect the way he plays defense. How the fuck does that work, Harold? I think Alexei Ramirez could break out if he realized he didn’t have to swing at every fucking pitch thrown in his direction, but maybe that is just me.
Harold Reynolds on Jimmy Rollins being ranked 6th: “Totally missed it on Rollins. There are not 5 guys better than him right now, and when he is healthy there may not be 5 guys better in baseball.”
Harold Reynolds, ladies and gentlemen! The show is talking about “right now” Harold. Rollins’ 2010 was disastrous. Jimmy Rollins was ranked outside of the Top 10 in WAR among shortstops in 2010 AND 2009. It’s debatable whether he should even have been on this list at all. Calling him one of the best 5 players in all of baseball is just fucking ludicrous.
Harold Reynolds on Jeter being ranked 3rd: “Derek Jeter is the best bar none because he wins and the intangibles!”
ZOMG! Harold then went on to defend why Jeter is the best shortstop RIGHT NOW by citing plays Jeter made 5+ years ago!
“We get caught up in the numbers and don’t think about how many times he moved the runner over or when he bunts or how he is willing to move around in the order. He is a winner, he makes all of the plays, and he makes everyone else better”.
You have to be fucking kidding me! I knew you wouldn’t let me down, Harold. This is the kind of shit that makes me soil myself instantly. Don’t get me wrong, Derek Jeter has been a great player. Despite my hatred for him I can admit that much, but this is hyperbole that would make ancient Egyptian pharaohs blush. Jeter is a winner because he has played his entire career on the New York Yankees. The Yankees could have had me at short for the last 10 years and they still would have won 90 games a year. Two-hundred million dollar payrolls will do that for you. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t think about moving runners over or bunting when I think of the best players in baseball. The best players in baseball put up numbers, Harold, and I think deep down you know this. If Jeter is the best shortstop in baseball when he doesn’t put up numbers (2008 and 2010) then he must have really been the bee’s knees in all of his other years. When Jeter’s career is over you will be citing those numbers to get him into the Hall of Fame, I don’t think you will be talking about bunts and sacrifices. Jeter has been a great hitter and a below average defender throughout his career. At his current age, he is no longer a great hitter and still a below average defender. If you ask me, him being number 3 on the list was generous. I would love to see how Harold Reynolds can make any case that he is better than Hanley Ramirez or Troy Tulowitzki RIGHT NOW. I think the present time theme of the show has escaped old Harold.
Harold Reynolds on Hanley Ramirez being ranked 1st: “He is way too high because he dogged it on that one play.”
While I agree that Hanley is too high (he should have been second to Tulo), he isn’t even close to “way too high.” Defending your position because he had one single instance of dogging a play…one time? Fuck you. Hanley Ramirez was worth 4.4 WAR last year, third among shortstops. He was first in 2009 at 7.1 and first in 2008 at 7.4. Reynolds went as far as to say Ramirez should be close to the back of the top ten. Ridiculous.
‘Top 10 Catchers Right Now’:
Sean Casey: “Brian McCann is one of the best hitters in baseball.”
No, Sean. He isn’t. If you would have qualified it with something like “best hitting catchers” I would have been on-board. Brian McCann was the 45th best hitter in MLB last year. Maybe your definition of “one of the best” is different than mine.
Sean Casey: “Kurt Suzuki should be in the top 5. He gets better every year.”
Kurt Suzuki’s WAR over the last 3 years: 3.0, 2.6, 1.6. Hmm, I don’t know, Sean. It sure looks like the opposite trend is happening to me. Kurt was also the 22nd ranked catcher in 2010. Do you know who Kurt Suzuki is?
Harold Reynolds: “Brian McCann is the best catcher in baseball.”
Joe Mauer is now going to miss all of the 2011 season and possibly die after eating his television. Way to go, Harold.
‘Top 100 Players Right Now’:
Al Leiter when asked to choose one of Nick Markakis, Justin Upton, or Mike Stanton: “Stanton, strikeouts are too much of a concern for Upton.”
Hey, Al? Justin Upton saw this show and gave me a call. He was pretty certain that he actually struck out less than Mike Stanton does and also was pretty sure that the main concern as Stanton came up through the system was contact. So, I looked it up. Mike Stanton has struck out in 34.5 percent of his at bats. Justin Upton has struck out in 29.5 percent of his at bats. He was relieved to hear this and wanted me to pass this along.
Harold Reynolds was talking about how Adam Dunn should be ranked higher on the list because he “provides protection to hitters like no one else”. He then talked about how much better of a hitter Ryan Zimmerman is when Adam Dunn is hitting behind him. He defended his stance by showing this graphic:
Really, Harold? You make my brain hurt. Just look at the sample size that Reynolds found adequate to jump to ridiculous conclusions. First of all, Harold, lineup protection doesn’t make nearly enough difference to justify the amount of time old timers spend talking about it. Aside from that, you used a scattered 14 game sample over the course of 2 and a half seasons to make a concrete conclusion. That is downright laughable and I hope most of the people watching this shit laughed as hard as I did. Seriously, 14 fucking games?
Harold Reynolds then went on to freak out about Derek Jeter being ranked in the 40’s and said he should “definitely be in the top 20-1”.
I will keep this short since I have already blasted Reynolds about his Jeter crush. Derek Jeter’s WAR ranking in 2010? 112.
Harold Reynolds on Ichiro being ranked 27th: “Ichiro is not ranked high enough. He should easily be in the top 10. Too much projection is being done with younger players and veterans are being passed over.”
That would be great analysis, Harold, if it were true. There was not a single unestablished young player on the list after Ichiro. As you may know, Harold’s beef is with the stat OPS, which he particularly voices when talking specifically about Ichiro. It’s a good stat, Harold, but even us “numbers people”, as you like to call us, understand that it doesn’t say everything. wOBA is much better as it puts the appropriate amount of weight on the on-base percentage part of OPS. By wOBA, Ichiro was the 78th best hitter in baseball. You can love batting average all you want, but that is all Ichiro provides. Even with a .315 BA, Ichiro only got on base at a .357 clip last year. In addition, since all he hits are singles, he doesn’t help you much in the second most important part of hitting…power. Ichiro is a great defender, which is why he still ranks 32nd by WAR, but saying he should be in the top 10 and that he is ranked too low at 27 is, well…stupid. You’re out to fucking lunch again.
In conclusion, Harold then went on to say that he “wasn’t big on Felix Hernandez winning the Cy Young with only 13 wins” and I counted 6 different times where he noted he thought players belonged in the top 5. Not surprising, of course, because Harold Reynolds has proven throughout his “baseball analyst” career that his is pretty much incompetent. If you need more proof, I offer you these links from the Holy Land.