Howard Sinker, cherry-picker extraordinaire

19 Sep

The Strib’s Howard Sinker has recently submitted an absolute beauty of a column that attempts to defend one Delmon Young, far and away the most celebrated league-average player of all time. Let’s go through Howard’s praise of ol’ Twinkle Toes Young one by one. Warning: some mildly desperate “please agree with me!” pleading ahead.

Point number one:

A .300 batting average

Not even close to important.

A team-high 102 runs batted in.

Even more useless than batting average, and almost wholly team-dependent. How does a guy who watches as much baseball as Sinker not know that by now?

A .931 OPS (on base-plus-slugging percentage) with runners in scoring position.

It’s actually .913 as far as BR.com is concerned, but whatever. Score one for Delmon here.

A total of 59 extra-base hits

27th in MLB. Decent, but unfortunately this is where the (barely) legit argument ends. Commence with the glorious picking of cherries, Mr. Sinker.

A month of July (.434/.455/.736) when he pretty much carried the offense.

And “Mr. July” backed up that Super Clutch month with a white-hot .218/.239.318 August, and has been ripping the cover off the ball in September to the tune of .203/.269/.373. Awful point, Howard. One would think you’re better than that, but at least you stopped there.

Oh wait. You didn’t.

You don’t have to go far to find a debate over Delmon’s abilities, which is one of the most pointless discussions at a time when the Twins are 30 games over .500.

“Delmon is terrible in left field.” “Who cares, the Twins are awesome!” “I thought we were talking about the specific abilities of Delmon? Weren’t you the one to bring up this topic?” “Loud noises! Distractions! Conversation over!” You can read Howard’s sentence a thousand times and it will not begin to make any more sense than it originally seemed. Believe me.

He’s a free swinger who is getting a better understanding of the strike zone — and the pitches he can handle outside of the zone.

Career BB%: 4.1. This season’s BB%: 4.3. My word, this is some ghastly desperation from Sinker. But let’s give him his due: the man is on a roll. Let’s see how he brings this baby home.

Delmon has slumped for spells. Guess what? If you look hard enough, you can find a several-week stretch of 2009 when Joe Mauer had a .288 OBP. And Jim Thome strikes out a lot, too.

Delmon is awesome because…Mauer had a poor slump once last season? Howard: your “backspace” button called … just a friendly reminder that he still exists.

(And just so I have this straight … in Howard’s world, bringing up times when a player has done well: A-OK. Bringing up times he has sucked: bullshit low blow.)

Delmon struggles on defense. That puts him in a group with every Twins left fielder of the last 10 years — Jason Kubel, Lew Ford, Shannon Stewart, Jason Tyner, RonDL White and Jacque Jones. All of them had shortcomings in one way or another.

Again, man: the “yeah but other guys suck too!” is not scoring any points in your defendant’s favor. It is also frighteningly batshit. No more drunk-blogging for you, sir.

Let’s try another group, the crew of AL Central left fielders: Delmon, Juan Pierre, Johnny Damon, Ryan Raburn, Alex Gordon, anyone that Cleveland puts in left field.

Delmon: the best of a historically awful crop of AL Central left fielders! Someone put that on a plaque.

Delmon: .300/.333/.488. Jason Kubel: .254/.329/.454. Delmon 18 homers, Kubel 19 homers. Delmon 102 RBI, Kubel 85 RBI.

Delmon: marginally better in his very best season than Kubel in his worst! Someone take Howard’s blog away from him.

(Oh, by the way: Delmon’s rank this year in WAR? 150th. Beautiful)

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8 Responses to “Howard Sinker, cherry-picker extraordinaire”

  1. Robert September 25, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    I’m sorry… I didn’t know you were blogging.

    What a crappy reply to Sinker. I think I’ll not read this blog very often… see if you censor this comment!

    But seriously, the point Sinker is making is that defense in Left Field is just not that important, and over the course of this season Young has had a good year with the bat. And yes, a month batting over .400 is important and worth mentioning.

  2. Gates September 25, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

    The only point he’s making is that defense in LF is not important? Really? That’s the only point he’s making? I think you need to read it again Big Rob.

  3. Dan September 26, 2010 at 12:09 am #

    Yeah, when I read Howard’s post, I did think “boy, this is cherry picking a little bit, and admittedly ignoring his defensive shortcomings…”. But, the fact still remains that he carried the team offensively in July. And I do believe I’ve seen numbers supporting the fact that his strike-out rate is down and his contact percentage on balls out of the zone is higher (not that he should be swinging at them, but still).

  4. TryHarder September 26, 2010 at 6:24 pm #

    It’s a lot easier to rip something apart than it is to write constructive, cohesive analysis.

    Let’s see if you can do the latter.

    Or can you just rip others?

  5. mike in MN September 27, 2010 at 8:19 am #

    I agree with the blogger. Young had one good month. It’s cherry picking to ignore the other months. Clearly, Young was critical to the team’s success in July. But, he’s been awful other months this year. This post was a reply to Howard’s post. As for the writing, it is very FJM-like, a site I miss more than I thought possible (though it is not as good as their work…..).

  6. B. September 27, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    Dan – Plate discipline numbers can be found here: http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=2140&position=OF

    He’s swinging at even more pitches outside the zone, but you are correct: a big change is that he’s making more contact at those awful pitches, to a point where he is no longer one of the least-valuable players in the league. So that’s…something.

  7. Scott September 28, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    Your arguments are fine, and you have valid points, but your snarky and combative tone are really off-putting. Even though there are numbers to back up your argument, I’m still more likely to agree with Sinker just because he didn’t sound like a jerk. Tone is as important to an argument as the logic behind it and your tone is really nasty.

  8. B. September 28, 2010 at 8:58 pm #

    Fair point, Scott. I was just funnin’ around, though I understand my tone may not come across as such for those visiting the site for the first time.

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