All that glitters isn’t Gold by Bob Ryan

The ol’ expression “All that glitters isn’t Gold” holds true in the sports world  too…in fact…right here in the Lou…

…Yadier Molina is without question a hero throughout StL…his durability, his ability to call the correct sequence of pitches, his relationship with pitchers—especially young ones, his increased batting ability over the years…his “hero” status ranks right up there with Stan, Red, Lou, Ozzie, Dizzy, and others….but……with all those accolades being true….his receiving of the Gold Glove is due to his glitter …not his play in 2018 …..take a look at some actual statistics from Fan Graphs…not mine…that demonstrate that Yadi is NOT the premier “catcher” of NL.

Assists…Yadi is #19 in the MLB with 42 assists

The numbers of runs above or below that the catcher was worth to his pitcher based on framing …Yadi was +1 which was put him at #29 in the MLB

Total Fielding above average …Yadi’s numbers put him at #9 in the MLB

How many runners were caught stealing  31%…that’s # 35 in the MLB

The number of RUNS below the average that the catcher was worth based on baserunner kills or baserunner advances….Yadi was at -1…which was #87 in MLB

The number of runs below the average that the catcher was for the pitchers ERA…he was -3 which put him at #7 in the MLB

Total passed balls…4 …was #9 in the MLB….and a personal note here……Yadi must get all those PB on the road…at home, his handling of low pitches..  usually to the right of him that he needs to shift his feet, bend at the waist and keep in front of him….rarely happens….those seemingly are ALWAYS called Wild Pitches by the home town official scorer.

…..Yadi did earn and deserved many gold gloves….but not in 2018.

….Baseball writer and research expert, Bill James…..really threw the baseball players out  like they were only fools gold….not gold at all….when he said this week, “baseball  players are overpaid and, when it was suggested that some were underpaid, he sarcastically said “my heart bleeds for them.” He went on to say “If the players all retired tomorrow, we would replace them, the game would go on and in three years it would make no difference whatsoever.  The players are NOT the game, any more than the beer vendors are.”  ..do YOU think that’s true?

….not only did he have a golden career but a golden send-off…this is the tale of Joe Maurer.

He was born in Minnesota…attended a HS in St. Paul, was drafted #1 overall by the Twins in 2001. He played his entire career in Minnesota. Mauer appeared in 1,858 games, tallying 2,123 hits and 143 home runs, and posting a slash line of .306/.388/.439 not for 1 year….but his entire career. In 2006, Maurer became the 1st full-time catcher to win a batting title. Maurer won 3 batting crowns total in his career. He was named the league MVP in 2009….only Thurman Munson, Johnny Bench and Ivan Rodriguez have grabbed that honor as catchers. His golden sendoff was very touching…he started the game@ 1B and was greeted by his 2 daughters there. In his final AB, the ripped a double to left-center (he was a  left handed hitter) so this was so typical of his hitting style of hitting the ball where it was pitched throughout his career.  Then, for the last time, Mauer put on his catcher’s gear (first time in more than five years)  and caught one pitch from Matt Belisle before leaving  the game to a rousing ovation from the Twins fans. He has a very strong set of numbers to consider in 5 years when he becomes eligible for the HOF.  Despite the indifferent approach of most MLB fans to the Twins…. the HOF voters won’t ignore his accomplishments.  Best of all….in the “big picture”…Mauer’s  career will be remembered fondly. He was universally well-regarded by fans across the league, by his teammates, coaches, and ..even…. the media….as a consummate professional from day 1 to his final day! Congratulations to him! If there was a Stan Musial Award for professionalism, performance, gentlemanliness, plain ol’ goodness… he’d receive it.

….Coaches and organizations KNOW the golden superstars when they have one….about 46% of Pro Football HOF’ers played for just ONE team in their NFL careers!

…..Many college football coaches are hired due to their “gold”…..but often it turn out only to be glitter… look at the University of Illinois football program and litter of coaches over the past 25+ years…When John Mackovic bolted Illinois for Texas in 1991 , he had taken the Fighting Illini to 4 bowls in 4 seasons and compiled a 30-16-1 mark at Champaign…some might say that he was the last “golden” coach @ Illinois…. Lou Tepper spent 5 years there, went 25-30-1 with 2 winning seasons and a 5-5-1 season; from 1997 -2004 (8 seasons) Ron Turner went 35-57 for his tenure which included gold seasons 10-2 and 8-4 (2 bowls: next came in Ron Zook for the 2005 season ..he went thru 2011, Zook posted a 35-51…he had 3 winning seasons of his 7 seasons…all three winning years resulting in bowls…2012 saw Tim Beckmann brought in …he went 12-25 in 3 seasons….Bill Cubit lasted just 1 season…. then with golden anticipation, Lovie Smith was hired.  In his first 2 seasons, Lovie has gone 2-10 and 3-9…. clearly since Mackovic left, the program….why do they call the football team a “program”.. there’s no Frosh team, soph team, JV team….just  1 team…anyway…the Illini have left the golden stage and now find themselves buried deep in the celler….all those “golden” coaches  were hired….all turned out to be glitter…btw…..MOST …if not ALL… of the former Illini coaches would have been fired after 2016-17 seasons ….Lovie’s NFL reputation has bought him “HOLD ONTO THE JOB card”…at least for the time being.

….on the other hand, the Lou enjoyed all the golden years of Vince Coleman.  Somehow… I thought that he had spent most of his career here in the Lou…..nope…only the first 6 years when he terrified the NL with his speed…..he won the Stolen Base Crown all 6 years. From 1985-1990 Vince stole 110, 107, 109, 81, 65, 77 bases…then he left St Louis…..surprisingly to me… Vince played 7 more years in the MLB!  He played for the Mets, Royals, Reds ,Seattle and Detroit in those next 7 years….but he was never GOLDEN like he was in St. Louis. Vince changed the game….pitchers began using “slide steps”…repeated throws to 1B….”holding the ball” longer to throw off the rhythm of the runner….it was exciting for me when he got on 1B, Vince knew what he was going to do, the opposing team knew, the fans knew, everyone knew…but he stole the base anyway…and it was golden.

….I had the opportunity to attend the Blues-Sharks game on Friday night.  It was really a “golden” game…the Blues checked constantly, skated hard..the Sharks ..to my recollection,  only had 3 or 4 times of long possessions and mild pressure on the Blues.  The Blues demonstrated some deft passing right in front of the net as the Blues players were moving while receiving or tapping in passes. Johnson was sharp in goal.  Beleaguered Blues defensemen found open teammates either horizontally or vertically to keep possession and make the transition from defense to offense smoothly. Only a few penalties… which kept the game moving along….and yes….we were in our cars by 9:40 smiling & happy over enjoying a golden Blues game…now it must be repeated…since ..we are what we repeatedly do (Plato).

…My “golden” NCAA rankings for this week….1) Bama  2) Clemson 3) ND   4) Michigan… it was brought to my attention last week that ND had beaten Michigan so how could Michigan be ranked higher….great point…so….I flip-flopped them back again. Catching my eye…but not necessarily in this order is Washington State, OU,  West Virginia, Georgia.

….Not real golden is the non-conference schedule for SEC teams. Texas A&M’s new head coach Jimbo Fisher had the pleasure of holding the mark as the toughest non-conference schedule in the SEC…..Opening up with his former team, Clemson, was a top notch game…. Then they “played” powerhouses like Northwestern State, LA-Monroe, Ala-Birmingham… and this is reportedly the toughest SEC non-conference schedule in 2018?  Much more glitter than gold in the schedules of these teams.

…All the Power 5 conferences want to dodge each other in early non-conference games…. they might lose 1!!  Shouldn’t a Power 5 team that tight  loses to another Power 5 team get more value than wins over teams from much, much less talented conferences? And…if they lose by a substantial amount…they probably shouldn’t be ranked anyway. A major part of the problem is that teams draw up their schedules YEARS…almost decades…in advance. Who’s crystal ball can tell them who’ll be “good” in 10 years?   I believe that the magical number of wins (6) to qualify for a bowl MUST be wins over Power 5 conference teams….no more counting wins over D-II teams , or NW Southern Alaska type teams, or any team from Division I-AA…a team may play those type of teams….but wins would not be “counted” towards the magical number of 6 to qualify for one of the ….is it 30 bowls? Btw…way, way TOO many bowls. I’m dreaming here…..wouldn’t it be phenomenal that all of the power 5 conferences and top teams outside those conferences to form an imaginary 6th conference for scheduling purposes agreed to keep open weeks 2 & 3 for non-conference games against each other? For example, the #8 team of one conference would play the #8 team of another…#7 v #7….etc …all the way up to #1 v #1. Each team would have 1 home and 1 road game.  After the 2 year cycle ..repeat process with conferences facing different conferences in the same manner. It won’t happen because the teams at the TOP don’t want to lose their grip on the control of the arbitrary voting procedures currently in use.

….Divisional Conference Championships seem to mean very little..if anything… any longer. In the Big 10, Northwestern is on top of the Big 10 West with a 6-1 league mark. Their overall record is 6-4. The Wildcats began the season 1-3 with losses to Duke, Akron (ouch), Michigan. They’ve won 5 of the last 6 games with their only loss to ND. Weirdly, this club is 4-0 on the road and 2-4 at home (guess they don’t’ schedule any cupcakes at home). They’ve won 4 games by 4 points or less soooo.. they arent’ piling up the points with the voters of the polls. It appears that they will win the West since Minnesota and Illinois are their last 2 opponents.  Another team winning their division ..and being ignored…is the Pittsburgh Panthers. Pitt is on top of the ACC Coastal Division with a 6-1 conference record. Overall the Panthers are 6-4, again it was their slow start…they were 2-3 with lopsided losses to Penn State and Central Florida. Since that time they are 4-1 with wins over Syracuse (ranked), #23 Virginia, and their only loss in that time was a loss to Notre Dame who beat them in the final minutes of the game.

…Back in the day….Don Faurot ….Head Mizzou Coach/AD from 1935-1956 put Missouri “on the map” by playing a golden schedule. He was 110-80 with those wicked schedules.  His immediate successors, kept the same attitude. Typically ALL of the non-conference opponents came from …what we now call…the power 5 conferences. According to one article published in Jan 2015 using the SRS method, the Top 10  Mizzou football teams in their history are listed below:

                                       Coach                                                 record             rank            SRS

1 1969 Dan Devine 9-2 6th 23.7
2 1960 Dan Devine 11-0 5th 21.9
3 2013 Gary Pinkel 12-2 5th 20.0
4 1968 Dan Devine 8-3 9th 18.9
5 1941 Don Faurot 8-2 9th 18.9
6 1973 Al Onofrio 8-4 17th 17.1
7 2007 Gary Pinkel 12-2 4th 16.8
8 1965 Dan Devine 8-2-1 6th 16.0
9 1980 Warren Powers 8-4 15.8
10 1978 Warren Powers 8-4 15th 15.3

 

 Soooooo….the “golden” way now…schedule at least 3 cream puffs ..preferably 4… in the 1st month of the season…..pile up big one-sided wins….dodge any top 25 teams in non-conference teams in your “pre-season”…lose 2 or 3 conference late in the season….don’t worry about winning you’re the division of your conference….so & so’s team is always “loaded” so how can you be expected to win it??…. and …you’ll be ranked, land in a bowl close to New Years, keep the alumni, students smiling because a win is a win…doesn’t’ matter who the sacrificial lambs were in September…and all that’s fine…..but how does it make you a higher ranked team than one who DOES play challenging non-conference games and then wins their division in their power 5 conference?

Well…Rome wasn’t built in a day….so neither are these “golden” suggestions.   

 

Comments

  1. You were right on target with Yadi’s fielding this year. He was OK, but not the golden glove caliber that he has been in the past. I believe you earn your first few gold gloves, but once you get the reputation, it almost becomes automatic until a newcomer clearly unseats you.

    I also hate that all the major college conferences schedule, as you called them, “cream puffs” in their first 4 games. Why not just allow the scheduling of one non conference game, almost like a pre-season game for a warm-up. That would then would shorten the length of the season, and allow a true playoff system with 16 teams taking place at the end of the season. They would still end up with 12 or 13 games played and that would make for more meaningful games throughout the season.
    RK

  2. Tim Miller says:

    Always good stuff!
    Yadi: Gold Glove is far too often awarded based on reputation/ past performance.
    I’m not a fan of his participation in the post season tournaments he plays in… just more wear & tear on his body. StL heat beats you down much more at 35 than it did at 25! Save something for the regular season!
    Bill James: The original sabermetric Guy… his impact was key in measuring more stats, shifting for hitters, etc. …all teams now being on board has reduced his impact/ relevance. Red Sox have all but walked from him.
    Joe Mauer: hometown kid made good!! On field performance, great teammate , active in the community. Smart getting out now… if HOF keeps guys out for character issues, Mauer should be a lock! A great role model with great career stats!
    JP

  3. Bob
    I love the theme…All you were missing Joe Montana the Golden Boy & Willie Wonka the Golden ticket. Thanks for the props on your college football rankings. I agree you 100% with ya. Roll Tide, Tigers, Irish and Blue.
    Joe Mauer reminds me a lot of my Hero Tony Gwynn in playing for ONE team, total professional
    & a great hitter. I have an auto pic of Tony & Stan I cherish that my mom got me for my birthday a long time ago.
    College football…Northwestern is a very good team and they gave Blue & Gold all they could handle. I forgot his name Northwestern has a great football coach..and he played for Northwestern.
    A very passionate coach and a Winner.
    Blues definitely don’t have a Golden Boy aka Brett Hull. Brett packed the barn in every HOME game. Taransanko is Talented but he is a very inconsistent player and he rarely plays D in my opinion.
    Lastly it was great to see Matt Kuchar & Lee Westwood BOTH class guys to WIN again on the same day like they did 4 years ago. Crazy stat. They are not going to catch the Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus in career wins but two great golfers who are top class guys.
    We need to for those families that have loss loved ones & their homes. I was surprised with the
    Air quality being so bad they played the football game last night. Good for Eli to get a needed W
    on the road to break G Men 5 game losing streak.

    MB

  4. I probably agree that Yadier doesn’t deserve a gold glove, but some of the stats you quote ignore that runners try to steal less against Yadier. That fear isn’t a myth, every other NL catcher who caught at least 700 innings (~half of games) had at least 25% more steal attempts against them than Yadier! The lack of steal attempts, particularly the lack of bad steal attempts, depress his caught stealing percent, his assists, and his baserunner kills. (I focus on NL catchers since that’s the competition for the gold glove.)

    If you want to look at how well a catcher is at suppressing the other team’s base stealers, a good measurement might be how many stolen bases does a catcher give up in an average inning that they catch (#of steals/#of innings caught). By this measurement, every other catcher in the NL (700+ innings) gives up at least 34% more stolen bases than Yadier (.023 for Yadier, .032 for J.T. Realmuto)! Sidenote, Yadier is #2 in the MLB in this stat, #1 is Martin Maldona at .018!

    Totally agree though his defense has gotten a bit sloppy so probably not gold glove caliber.

    Tl;dr Yadier is much better at suppressing the run game than those stats indicate, but yeah he doesn’t deserve the gold glove.

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