clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Sabersphere 1/23: Delmon Young, Brandon Phillips, and Whiffs

In today's edition of Sabersphere, we ask why anyone would ever want to pay Delmon Young to play baseball, wonder what makes a player "ideal", compare Josh Hamilton to Miguel Olivo, question the importance of salaries, and cast some pods, both new and formerly new.

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

Dave Cameron of Fangraphs analyzes the Delmon Young Signing: Phillies Sign Delmon Young

When trying to figure out what team would give Young a contract this winter, it basically boiled down to figuring out what organizations didn’t place a high value on the base on balls, favored traditional offensive metrics over the kinds of things we write about here on FanGraphs, and would see Young as still having the potential to be a good player. The Phillies check every box on the list, and were in search of a right-handed corner outfielder. This should have been an obvious match for a while.

Eno Sarris - beer connoisseur, fantasy guru, and today's podcast guest - considers the profile of the "ideal" player, and why it's ok that Brandon Phillips is not that, on Fangraphs: Ideal Players and Brandon Phillips

Not every player should be told to swing less and focus on drawing walks. Some should be told to be aggressive and get out in front of those strikeouts. Not every player will use great plate discipline to add value to their team. Sometimes you have to focus on what that player does correctly, and work to emphasize those parts of their game. Not every player has to live up to an ideal, cookie-cutter approach in order to be a star.

Scott Spratt of the Hardball Times discovers an astonishing similarity between one of the best hitters and one of the worst hitters in the game: Swings and Misses

Hamilton led all qualified hitters in swing percentage on pitches out of the zone, and he also had the third-highest swing-and-miss rate on pitches out of the zone. Since 2002, only one other player has had a season in the top-10 in both categories, and he was also in the top-5 in both of them. That player is Miguel Olivo in 2011.

Matthew Kory of Baseball Prospectus wonders if player salaries are really as big of a deal as they seem: Why You Should Quit Caring About Salaries

But most fans, most intelligent fans that do more than drink beer and scream at stuff (not that there is anything wrong with that) care because of the perceived impact that player salaries have on their team. We want our favorite teams to get the best players and spending dollars on one player means those dollars can’t be spent on another player. It’s true that acquiring players takes more than just money, but it definitely takes money. But here’s the thing: if you own a professional baseball team you can afford player salaries. Dave Winfield’s $2.3 million dollars a year seems quaint now. But more than that it seems antiquated. Do you think for a moment that the Red Sox or Dodgers couldn’t have paid Winfield $2.5 million a season back in 1980? I have no doubt that they could. But they didn’t. There are reasons for this, of course. Just because management can afford it doesn’t mean they should pay it (at least from their perspective). But no team is going broke because of player salaries now and none did, nor came particularly close, in 1980 either.

Finally, this is not an article, but David Temple of NotGraphs and The Platoon Advantage began a brand-new radio show called Stealing Home yesterday. The first episode was very well-produced and featured a lot of great guests, including Baseball Reference founder Sean Forman and FanGraphs editor/Leisured Gentleman Carson Cistulli. I strongly encourage you to check it out.

If you would like to submit an article for Sabersphere, send an email to

For today's BtB Retro, in honor of the first Stealing Home podcast above as well as the BtB podcast dropping today, here's the first ever Beyond the Box Score podcast, which happened to air almost exactly two years ago:

Podcast Episode 1: "Ontario, That Small Town in Toronto"