Dejan’s McLouth pipe-dream; Top Prospects

I found it fascinating that Dejan Kovacevic spent so much time on his Nate McLouth article. Had I been the average fan, I would have walked away drooling. I mean, gee.. Bill James said this-and-that.. it must be true.. it must mean something.

But I’m not the average fan and Bill James is the one who taught me to think critically with stats.

Dejan indicated the Bill James Handbook said this about McLouth..

"Took 61.6 percent of the pitches he saw, eighth-highest in the league. Barry Bonds’ 67.2 was tops."

Sounds pretty impressive, huh? Unfortunately, taking all those pitches led to McLouth striking out one-in-five at bats – the 27th highest in the league for all batters with 300 or more AB. Maybe in 2008 he’ll actually learn to put wood on the ball?

"Had the league’s highest success rate in stealing bases, 95.7 percent. He stole 22 of 23, a year after stealing 10 of 11."

Here McLouth did a very good job.

"Scored 38 percent of the time he reached base, 11th-highest in the league."

This is another one of those wild statements.

You see, McLouth actually had one of the lowest batting averages in the league on balls in play at .287 (300+ AB) but was a tad better drawing walks (70th percentile). So, sure, WHEN McLouth reached base (50th percentile in the league overall in OBP), he did a fine job scoring. Most speedy guys do.

But thinking critically, since McLouth was so poor at getting hits on balls in play, if he reached, chances are everyone was reaching thus probably better explaining this.

"Had the league’s ninth-best on-base percentage, .360, when leading off."

Here’s another one of those lead-in, make you feel good statements that has the look of Dejan being paid to deliver PR for the team. Unfortunately, this one isn’t even true.

ESPN indicates Bautista had the league’s 9th best league OBP at .377 – not McLouth who was 16th of 45 players (65th percentile.. a tick above league average) and just behind Rajai Davis.

"Had the best on-base plus slugging percentage — the statistician’s dream offensive measurement — of any player in the majors when seeing a slider, at 1.242."

I won’t call out Dejan on this one because I assume he copied it from the Handbook, but I will state he should have done a better job researching this before making a claim like it really meant something.

Here is McLouth’s PITCHf/x data on sliders:

As you can clearly see, he put 11 of the 63 sliders he saw in play and only three of those went for a hit (red arrows).. one single, one double, and one home run.

Also, if you look carefully above you’ll see 25% of all sliders called balls were actually strikes McLouth let float past which also helps explain some of McLouth’s unusually high OBP on sliders.

There’s your best OPS in the majors on a slider statement explained.. plain old fashion luck in what you might say was McLouth’s breakout "now deal him" year.

I don’t want to take anything away from McLouth – he’s a fine fourth outfielder who should never play center at PNC with his below league average route running. But he does have some pop in his bat off the bench and that’s where he should be.. on the bench. If we deal Bay or Nady, he’ll be an excellent fill-in until Pearce makes the trip from Indy to Pittsburgh.

Fukudome’s projected line at Yahoo: .305/.390/.528

I’m sorry, but I don’t see it.

The Pirates are interested in Matt Clement? Naw.. makes no sense at all unless he signs a split contract at the minimum and then he’d be in Bradenton and then Indy for awhile to be sure his arm stays attached.

Kris Benson back in Pittsburgh? There is as much chance of Benson returning to Pittsburgh as there is Robert Nutting selling the team to Mark Cuban next month.

But if you want to lick your chops, here’s the remaining free agents and non-tenders still available. Notice how many of these cats were linked to the Pirates at one time or another.

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    Position Players Pitchers
    Sean Casey 1b FA Matt DeSalvo SP NT
    Tony Clark 1b FA Jose Garcia SP NT
    Julio Franco 1b FA Mike O’Connor SP NT
    Ryan Klesko 1b FA Darrell Rasner SP NT
    Doug Mientkiewicz 1b FA Josh Towers SP NT
    Mark Sweeney 1b FA Antonio Alfonseca rhp FA
    Eric Hinske 1b-of FA Tony Armas rhp FA
    Damion Easley 2b FA Armando Benitez rhp FA
    Ramon Martinez 2b FA Kris Benson rhp FA
    Jose Valentin 2b FA Shawn Chacon rhp FA
    Jerry Hairston 2b-of FA Roger Clemens rhp FA
    Russell Branyan 3b FA Matt Clement rhp FA
    Jeff Cirillo 3b FA Bartolo Colon rhp FA
    a-Pedro Feliz 3b FA Elmer Dessens rhp FA
    Corey Koskie 3b FA Octavio Dotel rhp FA
    Abraham Nunez 3b FA Josh Fogg rhp FA
    Royce Clayton ss FA Keith Foulke rhp FA
    Neifi Perez ss FA Freddy Garcia rhp FA
    Chris Woodward ss FA a-Livan Hernandez rhp FA
    Tony Batista 1B FA Jason Jennings rhp FA
    Marcus Giles 2B FA Jorge Julio rhp FA
    Aaron Miles 2B NT Byung-Hyun Kim rhp FA
    Morgan Ensberg 3B NT Jon Lieber rhp FA
    Andy Gonzalez 3B NT Kyle Lohse rhp FA
    Dallas McPherson 3B NT Rodrigo Lopez rhp FA
    Miguel Cairo inf FA Jose Mesa rhp FA
    Tony Graffanino inf FA Brian Moehler rhp FA
    Jerry Gil SS NT Russ Ortiz rhp FA
    Sandy Alomar c FA Chris Reitsma rhp FA
    Paul Bako c FA Rudy Seanez rhp FA
    Rod Barajas c FA Aaron Sele rhp FA
    Mike DiFelice c FA John Thomson rhp FA
    Mike Lieberthal c FA Brett Tomko rhp FA
    Mike Matheny c FA Steve Trachsel rhp FA
    Damian Miller c FA Jeff Weaver rhp FA
    Doug Mirabelli c FA Bob Wickman rhp FA
    Josh Paul c FA Jamey Wright rhp FA
    a-Mike Piazza c FA Jeremy Affeldt lhp FA
    Kelly Stinnett c FA Eddie Guardado lhp FA
    Johnny Estrada c NT Ray King lhp FA
    Mike Sweeney dh FA a-Trever Miller lhp FA
    Greg Norton dh FA Eric Milton lhp FA
    Barry Bonds of FA Mike Myers lhp FA
    a-Mike Cameron of FA Odalis Perez lhp FA
    Jeffrey DaVanon of FA Arthur Rhodes lhp FA
    Luis Gonzalez of FA Ron Villone lhp FA
    Shawn Green of FA David Wells lhp FA
    Bobby Kielty of FA T.J. Beam RP NT
    Kenny Lofton