Sunday, April 02, 2006

Dan Barreiro vs. Tuffy

[photo caption] Twins catching sensation Joe Mauer. Or, in Barreiro's world, embattled Twins catcher Joe Mauer. (photo courtesy TwinsFanatnicks.Blogspot.Com)

I have a guilty habit: I listen to talk-radio. A lot.

And much of the time I end up being disgusted in what I hear. The simple-minded, non-original logic used as well as the endless raping of the English language employed is killing my brain cells at a higher rate than my drinking in college ever did.

Whoops, I just dated myself.


This morning I arise to hear the sounds of the Tuffymutt crying to be let outside (followed soon after by the sounds of the Tuffymutt crying to be let inside and out of the rain).

Then, I logged-on to the computer, and I tuned-in the last fifteen minutes of the "Sunday Sermons" show on KFAN hosted by Dan Barreiro.

I didn't have to wait long for my brow to become furrowed, as Dan was railing (again) against Twins' catcher Joe Mauer, stating that "Mauer cannot be considered a great hitter until he drives in more runs (RBIs' in baseball parlance)."

Now we need to provide some history here. Dan Barreiro has been against Joe Mauer since the day the Twins drafted him directly out of Cretin-Derham Hall High on June 5, 2001 with the first overall pick in the draft. At that time, Barreiro was livid that the Twins had chosen Mauer ahead of University of Southern California pitcher Mark Prior.

To be fair to Barreiro, the prevailing thought at the time was that Prior would be a sure thing -- a perennial 20-game winner and the ace of a team's staff for years to come. Unfortunately for Prior, chosen immediately after Mauer by the Chicago Cubs, his career thus far has been something of a disappointment, suffering a seemingly unending string of injuries and never winning those 20 games in a season (though he did reach 18 in 2003).

Again, to be fair to Barreiro, it was also very clear that part of the reason the Twins selected Mauer was a flagrant attempt to raise attendance once Mauer, St. Paul's native son, reached the big leagues.

But Barreiro has never been fair to Mauer. Never.

Once Barreiro declared that the Twins made a mistake in picking Mauer and that Prior would end up having a far better career than Mauer would, Barreiro has failed to see the error of his ways. Even though Mauer has meet or exceeded all of the Twins expectations thus far -- and that Prior's long-term career outlook is in doubt -- Barreiro refuses to reassess his original statement from 2001, admit that he was wrong, and move on.

No one would fault Barreiro for doing so, but his immense ego will not allow him to fess up.

It has gotten to the point that Barreiro has turned into the boy who cried wolf -- a character who is so baseless in his proclamations about Mauer that no one takes him seriously on the subject anymore.

Fast forward to this morning, with Barreiro declaring that, "Mauer cannot be a great hitter until he drives in more runs."

This ridiculous statement forced me to send an on-air e-mail to Barreiro that read as follows:
You show your baseball ignorance when you disparage Joe Mauer's low RBI numbers. RBIs are largely a function of the batters in front of Mauer getting themselves on-base and into scoring position. Look into it.

Immediately coming out of the next commercial break, Barreiro responded to my e-mail on-air claiming that the ability of the batters in front of Mauer getting themselves on-base and into scoring position is not the only factor determinant of RBI production while also challenging me to come up with my own research.

Umm, isn't that your job, Barreiro? Or is your job simply to vomit up baseless proclamations?

But I'll take you up on your challenge. Here goes.

First, some baseline stats regarding Mauer's hitting prowess:
--Mauer's career batting average is .297
--In his first (injury-shortened) season in 2004, Mauer hit .308
--In 2005, his first full season, a 21 year-old Mauer hit .294
--Mauer's career on-base percentage is .371
--Mauer's strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2005 was 64/61, a near 1/1 ratio, which is incredibly rare in the major leagues
--Equally incredible, Mauer hit .364 with a 1.000 on-base percentage when he was down in the count 0 balls and 2 strikes
--And, evidence of the opposition's fear of Mauer, he was 4th overall in the major leagues last year in intentional walks, garnering 12

Now, admittedly, none of these statistics specifically addresses Barreiro's concern regarding Mauer's RBI production.

This stat does, however:
--Mauer's batting average with runners in scoring position in 2005 was .331 -- 37 POINTS HIGHER THAN HIS OVERALL BATTING AVERAGE!

Barreiro argued that Mauer's slugging percentage (the amount of bases gained per at-bat) was limiting his RBI output. So, let's look at that:
--Mauer's career slugging percentage is .440
--In 2005, Mauer's slugging percentage was .411

Comparing Mauer to other elite catchers, we find that Mauer's slugging percentage-to-RBIs were comparable in 2005:
--Joe Mauer (MIN): .411 SLG / 55 RBIs
--Ivan Rodriguez (DET): .444 SLG / 50 RBIs
--A.J. Pierzynski (CWS): .420 SLG / 56 RBIs
--Paul Lo Duca (FLA): .380 SLG / 57 RBIs
--Javy Lopez (BAL): .458 SLG / 49 RBIs
--Jorge Posada (NYY): .430 SLG / 71 RBIs
--Mike Piazza (NYM): .452 SLG / 62 RBIs
--Jason Varitek (BOS): .489 SLG / 70 RBIs

Again, Mauer's slugging percentage-to-RBIs statistics are comparable to the elite catchers in the major leagues. And note: I did not include the middling to poor catchers in the major leagues for comparison, whose numbers Mauer dwarfs.

Closed-circuit to Barreiro: Mauer is doing everything within his abilities to gain RBIs. The fact of the matter is that the batters ahead of him are not, themselves, getting in scoring position.

I did your job for you, providing you the research, and filling at least 20 minutes of your show time next week.

You're welcome.

Now, feel free to go back to your mindless banter.



Blogger T3 said...

you ever read Money Ball? good book...

anyway. i think RBI's are a dumb stat because of your points. most traditional stats are lame when you break them down. on base pct is ok but i think you have to add slg in to get the right effect.

but in dan b's defense - as a fellow non-native minnesotan - i have to admit it gets a little old when people here are so quick to anoint one of their own.

i mean it seems at time that joe's place in coopers town is a sure thing and they are already carving his bust. i mean, really...

i think he'll do really well and the HOF is probably in his future if he can keep healthy.

Sun Apr 02, 04:36:00 PM 2006

Anonymous Dan/Little D said...

Danny B is like an oratoricle train wreck. You don't want to listen but have to.


Sun Apr 02, 06:47:00 PM 2006

Blogger Pete said...

Your number crunching is reminiscent of a young Bill James. Well done.

Sun Apr 02, 07:45:00 PM 2006

Blogger AdamB said...

I think there's little doubt that, a priori, prior was a better pick. and he took them deep in the playoffs, which is more than you can say for mauer.

but it seems that the gamble has paid off well for the twins. the prior/woods combo is a mess, and mauer is just getting started.

Mon Apr 03, 12:09:00 PM 2006

Anonymous super rookie said...

mark prior is the biggest joke to hit chicago since I showed up exactlyy 6 months ago.

did you hear about the new movie based on the cubs pitching staff?

brokearm mountain?


my nuts compliment danny b's chin nicely.

Tue Apr 04, 07:20:00 AM 2006

Anonymous BB#1 said...

Solid work, Mr. Tuffy. BB#2 -made me aware of your article. It's not Gleeman-length, but very solid.

I mailed your bag today -sorry about the delay. Remember when you get it - the new messenger bag ('06) version is much more hipster-worthy - but you should get some use out of this.


Tue Apr 04, 10:08:00 PM 2006


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home