Just received from ACTA Sports the Stat of the Week: Who are the best defensive teams of 2011 so far? It's free; just go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the best things Bill James, the original stat-head, did was shine a light on how important defense is to a winning team. Casey Stengel once said he did not want the player who would drive in two but let in three. The Ol' perfessor knew the importance of defense.
An article, Angst Over Jeter’s Hitting Is Off to a Robust Start, by Ben Shpigel in the New York Times 4/12/11 (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/12/sports/baseball/12yankees.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=ben%20shpigel%20angst%20over%20jeters&st=cse) does not mention Jeter's fielding, but it has been said that he has lost a step. He won a gold glove last year, which was a bad joke. He has always been a below average fielder, and fielding does not improve as a player ages. A baseball player does not usually improve in his late thirties, unless he uses a performance enhancing drug. Shpigel writes, "If his average improves, climbing under a barrage of line drives and settling beyond the .270 that taunted him last season, Jeter will have defied age and historical precedent."
I hate the Yankees. No, strike that, I loath and detest the Damn Yankees! It made me happy when the Yankess signed an aging shortstop to a multi-year contract during the offseason. Now they're stuck with an underperforming has been, having spent money that could have been better used on a younger, better, player.
My point was made by Sean Forman writing in the New York Times 4/15/11 in an article, Struggling Jeter Could Use Some Rest. (http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/keeping-score-jeter-may-benefit-from-rest/?scp=1&sq=sean%20forman&st=cse)
This is a fine article using a chart to illustrate what he calls 'The Jeter Slide'. He writes about the few other players who have played the demanding position of SS in the history of MLB in the late 30's. It does not look hopeful for Jeter, which is a great thing for Yankee haters!
The Phillies' Four Aces by Pat Jordan in the NYTimes magazine of 4/3/11 (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/03/magazine/mag-03Phillies-t.html?scp=3&sq=philadelphis%20phillies&st=cse) is an excellent article; a must read. What no one, though, seems to be writing about is how old, in baseball terms, are three of the four '#1 starters' on the staff. Players, especially hurlers, usually encounter difficulties as they near the mid 30's. The odds are against this staff turning out to be one of the best of all time for that reason. Barry Zito, said on the new San Francisco Giants Reality Series The Franchise, "It's still there somewhere. You've just gotta find a way to access it." I hope he can, but when your fastball drops to 84 mph I'm afraid you are not long for the Show. All big legue ballplayers probably think that it's still there, somewhere, after it's gone, never to return.
After reading the article, Vexing Rise in an Injury with Little Explanation, in the New York Times 4/12/11 (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/12/sports/baseball/12injury.html?scp=1&sq=vexing%20rise%20in%20an%20injury%20with%20little%20explanation&st=cse) I thought back to the time the Legendary Georgia Ironman and I went to the batting cages. It was twenty years since I put the bat down, and it showed. Tim put the pitch speed on the 'major league' setting, though it was no where near that caliber. I was swinging and missing, and it embarassed me considerably. It was obvious that I was not seeing the ball well, so I opened my stance dramatically. I could now see the ball much better, learning later that my left eye was much weaker than the right one; not good for a right-handed batter. I began to put wood on the ball, enjoying the sound of solid contact. Evidently others were too, as a crowd gathered around to watch. Reeling with the feeling, I continued to pound away at the ball with visions of my glory days coming back. It was a wonderful evening that I enjoyed immensely.
The next morning upon waking I could hardly breath. Although I tried taking a deep breath, it was too painful to complete. My ribs hurt like all get out! That whole day was torture! I was miserable; hurtin' for certain. Now I know the name of the muscles I strained. It took me a week to fully recover...