The State of the Job

Posted by Steve

With the baseball season just a week away (!), training for the job is starting to wind down, and we’re being tested to make sure we’re ready for the real thing.  One day this past week, we charted a game from 2008 and our results were compared with the actual chart done by last year’s interns.  Also, a couple times I had a full time employee sit next to me and watch me chart for 30-60 minutes at a time, which was a bit nerve-racking but seemed to go well enough.  I think we’re all pretty much ready for the season to start so we can see where we stand; plus, it is getting a bit old watching 2008 games all day.

I would like to make an amendment to a post from a couple weeks ago.  I was discussing which pitchers are difficult to chart, and I listed Dave Bush as the best example from the Brewers.  After charting a Manny Parra game, I can say with certainty that he is the toughest Brewer to chart–in fact, he’s one of the toughest pitchers to chart in the entire league.  It is pretty rare for a pitcher to have both a split-fingered fastball and a change-up, but Parra throws both, and it is extremely difficult to tell them apart.  He also throws a slider and a curveball, and when he throws the splitter towards the right-handed batters box it somehow looks a lot like a slider.  Full time employees actually had a meeting to discuss Parra’s pitches and how he should be charted, because it’s truly that difficult to tell.  I’d like to get as many Brewer games as possible at work, but I’d be fine without charting a Manny Parra game this season.

Since  we’ve been doing this and only this for a few weeks now, we’ve been finding other forms of entertainment within a game.  The other day we took a “Is this fan a man or a woman?” tally.  We gather around to watch every announcing train wreck or awkward moment, funny error or any other randomly funny event during a game.

One great example can be found here.  There is an awesome scrum of kids fighting for Josh Hamilton’s home run ball.  Unfortunately, this clip doesn’t do the entire event justice.  Keep an eye out for a kid in a pink shirt come running in from the right.  They change cameras in the highlight right as he takes flight, but I can assure you that kid went careening onto the pile with reckless abandon and a flying elbow.  I’d estimate we watched this about ten times. “Alright, here it comes, here it comes…  There he is… OOHHH!”  It’s really a shame they cut off that clip, because it’s awesome.

By now, I have a pretty good idea of the baseball views of most of the interns.  I’ve already mentioned the big stat-head of the group.  He has gotten into several arguments with guys who are less statistically inclined.  I got dragged into one of these arguments on Friday because it involved the Brewers.  He asked me why Baseball America ranked Alcides Escobar as the Brewers’ number one prospect over Mat Gamel.  He doesn’t think Escobar will hit in the pros (which I’m a bit concerned about as well, but not to the extent he is).  Meanwhile, a few other interns like Escobar a lot and were citing all the good shortstops who didn’t hit before the age of 22.

I have only been directly involved in one such discussion.  I’ll give you one guess which player it was about–and it wasn’t Ben Sheets.  Yeah, Rickie Weeks.  I was talking to the guy next to me about second basemen and I said, “I remember a few years ago when the big discussion was whether Weeks or Howie Kendrick would be the better second baseman.  They’ve both been a little disappointing, but I’d still take Weeks.”  A guy from across the room yelled, “Did I just hear you say you’d take Weeks over Kendrick?  No way!”  It was, as the kids say, on.

Weeks’ career line is .245/.352/.406, while Kendrick’s is .306/.330/.430.  Similar OPSs, but Weeks is OBP-heavy while Kendrick’s is slugging-heavy.  His main argument was that Weeks’ batting average is so low, but I of course pointed out that on-base percentage is more important.  I didn’t mention this at the time, but Weeks has a batting average of on balls in play of .302, while Kendrick’s BABIP is .360.  With only 997 MLB plate appearances, Kendrick’s .360 is almost certainly unsustainable.  

Alright, I’m done with that and truly sorry.  I promise no Weeks posts for at least a few weeks.

Many of the interns last worked for minor league teams, and are therefore much more knowledgeable on prospects than I am.  I’ve already learned quite a bit in this area, so I’m looking forward to learning more about that throughout the season.


One response to “The State of the Job

  1. It makes me feel good to know that while I’m sitting at my cube sorting through spreadsheets, there are people out there doing what you do for a living. Keep the dream alive.

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