As sportswriters, we are sent a hundreds of press releases per week. Some are useful (game notes from the M's, etc.) some are annoying (all soccer releases, well, at least to me anyway) and some are just downright strange (viagra, golf swing equipment and cheerleading injury studies), but today's press release for Bill James' new book "The Bill James Goldmine 2009" is something that needs to be shared.
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Whether you believe in looking at the game as James does or not, his research and his theories must be respected. As a baseball writer, I would be doing readers a disservice by not at least learning if not completely embracing what James has to say.
So here's a few snippets that James sent local Mariners writers from his book.
* "Although he's often overlooked, Adrian Beltre is one of the best third basemen in baseball. He is at the top of the list in fielding and below average in only one category, plate discipline. He has also been very durable, and his skill set is actually very similar to one of baseball's saints: Brooks Robinson."
* "The Mariners in 2006 drafted Brandon Morrow with the #5 pick in the draft, rather than local favorite Tim Lincecum, who went to San Francisco with the tenth pick. This is something that people talk about, but—just my opinion—in the long run, I don't think anybody is going to regret drafting Brandon Morrow. I think he's tremendous. Morrow had a 3.34 ERA last year, but there are several signals that he may be a better pitcher even than that. Batters hit .174 against him, which is Randy Johnson territory. He made a mid-season conversion from relief to starting, which probably didn't help his numbers any, and he gave up 10 home runs with just 47 fly outs. A ratio like that is probably a fluke, since the pitcher doesn't really control the percentage of flyballs against him that become home runs. He may not be a starting pitcher. In five starts in September he walked 19 men, which is too many; even Randy couldn't succeed as a starter issuing that many free passes. He m! ay have to go back to the bullpen. And I'm not saying he is Tim Lincecum, but...I think he's a guy who has Cy Young ability."
* "What happened to Yuniesky Betancourt's glove? His fielding plus/minus figures (the number of plays he makes above or below what an average defender at his position would have made) have dropped each of the past two years, and he was last among all major league shortstops in 2008. He has particularly lost range on groundballs up the middle."
* "Last year, we mentioned that Felix Hernandez threw his slider more often in 2007. In 2008, he changed his pattern again, throwing fastballs more often than anytime in his major league career, and de-emphasizing the slider and curveball."
* "The Seattle Mariners last year had a man on second base, no one out 116 times, and scored only 111 runs in those innings. They were the only major league team to score less than one run an inning when they had a leadoff hitter at second base. "