The Varitek All Star Selection

Figures.  I post about Tek’s intanigibles as a player, and lo and behold, he gets nominated to the All Star team this year.

The first comment I saw on this was from Joe Hammurabi of Baseball Digest Daily, who called it “a joke.”  Then while cruising thorugh the WordPress TAG surfer, I noticed a few more comments on this, a few calling it far worse than a joke.

Let’s set a few things straight here.  Varitek was elected to the team by the players, not chosen by Francona.  This in and of itself should be enough for fans.  Of course it’s not.  It’s also no worse, or better than any of the extra Yankee players who made the team when Joe Torre was managing the AL All Stars.  Every All Star manager tends to favor his own team for the bench guys, it’s just a fact of Base Ball.  But this was not one of those instances.  Tek was chosen by his peers to be there.  To my mind, that’s a far better honor than being popular among the fans.

Yes, Tek is having an awful year at the plate.  But the game is about more than just stats, as I pointed out in my last post.  Tek brings so much more to a team than his bat.  You can’t quantify what Tek does in a box score, or stats summary page.  How do you put how he calls a game, or manages a pitcher into a simple number in a column?  You can’t.  How do you reduce Tek’s presence in the clubhouse to a couple of digits?  You can’t.

Now, Tek wouldn’t have been one of my choices for the AS team.  More because the Sox were already well represented, and not having a 3rd catcher would have opened up a roster spot for another position.  Even so, I’m not offended by his presence on the team.  The fans have voted in starters who were far worse.

I guess AJ Pierzynski shouldn’t have been such an asshole to so many other players.  He might have gotten in otherwise.  Miguel Olivo?  His bad fortune that Dioneer Navarro is having a great season for Tampa Bay, who needed more representation on the AS team. 

So if you want to carp and complain about Tek’s being on the All Star team, blame the players.  Blame Pierzynski for being a twit.  Blame Tampa Bay for having the best record in Baseball.

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Real vs Fantasy in Baseball

As I watched the Sox rally against Mariano Rivera, and fall agonizingly short, a discussion between Tim McCarver and Joe Buck got me thinking.  They were talking about what the Sox were going to do with Varitek at the end of the season.  Tek is 36, and having a miserable year at the plate.  Rumor has it that he’s looking for Jorge Posada type money and deal (4 years).  But Tek isn’t around for his offense.  What he gives is bonus as far as the team is concerned.  It’s what he does calling a game, managing his pitchers, and how he controls the club house, or why he wears the “C” on his jersey.

So this got me to thinking.  I play Stratomatic Baseball, and have for almost 20 years now.  I’ve also been involved in several other Roto type leagues.  There is a definite disconnect from players of value in MLB, and players of value in fantasy leagues.  Sometimes the gap between the two is very, very wide.

Jason Varitek is a prime example.  He’s a bust in fantasy leagues.  Crap average, little power, no SB, few RBI’s.  Few owners of Roto leagues, and few Strat owners (especially those in leagues with a salary cap), will have him on their teams.  He’s just not worth it.  Yet in MLB, he’s invaluable for things that don’t translate into fanatsy numbers, or a Strat card.  It’s a “problem” of Fanatsy leagues and games, and often times skews fanatsy owners perceptions of players.

And yes, the converse is true as well.  There are players who would be a third stringer on a MLB team, yet get hyped up value on fantasy and especially Strat teams.  I’ve been in leagues where a bozo ripper, who had 60-75 AB’s, with a bunch of HR’s one way (against either left or right), gets drafted, yet an every day guy, who doesn’t have gaudy numbers one way, drops low in drafts, if he even gets drafted at all.

Call it the “Bill James Effect.”  Player performance and value distilled down to a set of numbers.  Sabremetrics.  Yes, these can be indicators of a players over all effectiveness, and thus value, but cannot always take into effect the intangibles a player may bring to a team.  Again, Jason Varitek is a prime exmaple.  How he calls a game, how he handles the guy on the mound, are all just as important, and sometimes more so, than the number of hits or HR’s, or RBI’s he produces.

Video games are even worse.  Take MLB The Show.  The trade AI is just nuts at times.  CC Sabathia for Willy Mo Pena?  Straight up?  Can you imagine the outcry in Cleveland if that ever happened?  Mark Shapiro would be strung up on the nearest lamp post, and Theo Epstein would be in jail for grand theft player.  But, the numbers indicate this would be a good deal, with Willy Mo’s power numbers (when he connects).  Tell me, who would you rather have on your team, CC or Willy Mo? 

I’m not even going to get into all the unrealistic aspects of the various fanatsy games for PC and Consoles.  I’ve sort of done that before, but I’ve got more details to use now.  Maybe that’ll be my next post.