Around the Horn

Some Met and Yankee tidbits gleaned from the new Baseball Prospectus 2001, the bible of fans who bring programmable calculators to the bleachers:

  • New Yankee ace-among-aces Mike Mussina threw 110 or more pitches in 18 starts last year, his high pitch counts earning him a Stress level of 50.1. (Without getting into the arithmetic gymnastics, suffice to say that a Stress of 20 or greater has a high correlation with both short-term performance declines and future injury.) On the other hand, the Yanks led the league in Stressed starters last year, and no one’s arm has fallen off yet.

  • Al Leiter, ace-among-Trachsels in Flushing, had a whopping 65.9 Stress factor, and his arm has already fallen off once before. Kevin Appier was right behind him at 58.7 (easily Oakland’s most overused pitcher—think Art Howe noticed he was a free-agent-to-be?), and his arm was never attached to begin with.

  • Jay Payton seems like a nice enough guy, but the man’s 28 years old and had an EqA (Equivalent Average, the Holy Grail of Baseball Prospectus, which measures a player’s total offensive contribution, adjusted for league and park, in terms proportional to the familiar batting average scale) of .245, worse than characters like Luis Polonia and (ahem) Bobby Bonilla. Gary Sheffield‘s was .333—worth about three games in the standings right there—and he’s only four years older.

  • Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams were the best hitters in baseball at their positions last year by BP numbers. Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, and Paul O’Neill were all among the worst, if you don’t count guys like Charlie Hayes and Midre Cummings.

  • Brosius, at least, was the top-rated defensive third baseman in the AL. Derek Jeter, meanwhile, was dead last among Junior Circuit shortstops—as you already know if you’ve been following the brouhaha over Jeter’s glove in Rob Neyer‘s baseball column, which Neyer credited with getting him “castigated on the air by real-life Yankee broadcasters, thus fulfilling a long-standing fantasy.”

  • Chuck Knoblauch may be the worst-fielding second baseman in the league (he is), but according to BP formulas he only cost the Yanks about 14 more runs last year than an average fielder (say, Luis Sojo). That’s worth about a game or two in the standings. But if he hits like he did in 1999, generating 101 Equivalent Runs (BP‘s measurement of a player’s individual offensive output; more precise and specific than RBIs), that’s not a problem; if he hits like he did in 2000 (50 EqR), they might as well use Sojo.


For those still scratching their heads over the Yankees’ partnership with Brit soccer power Manchester United—just why would the Bronx Bombers sully themselves with that silly, low-scoring “game”?—our friends over at the Amateur Athletic Foundation have noted that in the deal, “the Yanks are the junior partner in almost every category: They are worth approximately $500-600 million, according to industry observers; the Red Devils’ market value is estimated by most analysts at at least $1 billion. The Yanks have a lucrative local TV deal; United has its own television channel (MUTV) and its games are viewed around the world. The Yanks have won four of the past five World Series; Man Utd has won the English Premier League title six times in the past eight years. Shortstop Derek Jeter is a heartthrob; United’s David Beckham married Posh Spice. Only in the category of player salaries do the Yanks win; Jeter just signed for $189 million over 10 years; the highest-paid Manchester player, captain Roy Keane, reportedly makes ‘only’ $3 million per year.” . . . • Ballroom dancing is slowly edging its way into mainstream athletic culture; its governing body, the International DanceSport Federation, now enjoys IOC-recognized status though the sport itself is not yet an Olympic competition. But still, ballroom dancing seems more closely related to the climactic disco scene in Saturday Night Fever than anything else (just check out late-night ESPN2 programming some time). This is only enhanced by the role personal ads play in the “game.” Those looking for partners often turn to the likes of Dance News magazine to scan the classifieds. One such entry: “Natalie Richmond, 13 yrs old, D.O.B. 21.6.86. 5’4″ w.o.s. [without shoes]. Hardworking & dedicated, seeks boy partner to continue junior B/L comps.”

Contributors: Neil Demause, Ramona Debs Sports Editor: Miles D. Seligman