Hose Manning and Noodle Smith
Baserunner kills, dept.


Dr. D has some doubt that "hose" reads "arm" in Urban Dictionary.  So here is today's Retro Moment.  Hose Manning was the quarterback in Dan Jenkin's Semi-Tough novel.  We're more confident that the reader more quickly connects the term "noodle" with Johnny Damon, Dustin Ackley and PEYTON Manning.

Bill James Online is still a piddling $3 a month, or about one-twentieth of what Spec, Matty, Ben and I plan to charge for our Minor League Crop Circles shtick.  Is there anything in baseball, other than Jeff Sullivan, that is remotely as fun to read as Hey Bill?  Well, maybe Dr. D making a fool of himself on a nightly basis.  But otherwise.

In the arctic tundra of February baseball we're talking about outfield arms.  One excerpt from this week:


Hey, Bill, Vladimir Guerrero had a good arm, but he was charged with a lot of errors. Usually a rightfielder with a good arm will be a gold glover, but in the Vlad's case I see two problems that worked against him: since his fame spread around the league, runners stopped running on him, which made his assists totals unimpressive while the number of errors didn't go down... so a low total of assists combined with a high number of errors won't attract GG voters. Do you see some merit in my evaluation? Could his HOF candidacy be affected because of that?

Asked by: jbdominicano
Answered: 2/3/2015
The thing about "people stopped running on him" is 10% fact and 90% nonsense.
The game situation dictates when a runner must try to advance--where the ball is hit, what the score is, how fast the runner is, what inning you're in, whether the third base coach is aggressive or passive. The quality of the right fielder's arm is an ELEMENT in that decision, but just one element. It doesn't dominate the complex of factors that go into the run/don't run decision.
As to the errors. . .Clemente had a lot of errors. Mark (Hard Hittin') Whiten, who had a great arm, had A LOT of errors. I don't think that's unique to Guerrero. It's a complex, data-starved analysis, complex because there are a lot of moving parts in the question you asked, and data-starved because both errors and outfield assists have very low season norms--usually in the single digits--and ...
nothing that is measured in single digits can be measured with great confidence or great accuracy.


Couple of light bulbs there from Bill.  Here are several from me.  (ahem.)


Steve Mann once pointed out that --- > you might predict a young player's PWR from his outfield arm.  He did this with that Baltimore Oriole guy who hit a fluke 51 homers that one year.  Tom Brady?


Hm.  So major league runners don't worry too much about a "killshot" from a great arm?  Hey, I guess that's true.  The ML average on "holding" at a base is what, 42-45%.  The highest "hold" percentage they have brought up at BJOL is 50%, that by Jesse Barfield.

So if you got a guy with a big arm, he's free to sit out there in right field like Jase Robertson in a duck blind, and take all the potshots he wishes.  I didn't know that.  Didjoo?


Some of the most beautiful plays in sports are the majestic throws from outfielders.  Four of my favorites:

  • Griffey's rookie year, the whirl off the left-center fence to throw somebody out at 3B (Jeff Leonard in LF:  no, no, no .... yeah!)
  • Ichiro on Terrence Long, his rookie year
  • Jay Buhner one time ran over into the Kingdome pitcher's mound area, scowled, and fired a laser to 3B.  Cindy and I literally started crying
  • Bo Jackson one time threw Harold Reynolds (?) out from the LF corner on 0 hops


I like outfield assists, and always figured that a big lumbering right fielder got back 1/3, or 1/2, of the defensive runs he gave away with his lack of speed.


We got to wondering what the current M's arms are like.  Y'know, what we'll be watching for this next year.

Player Hold% Kill% Remark
MLB average RF (I think) 47% 2.3%  
MLB average CF 45 1.8  
MLB average LF 63 2.2  
Nelson Cruz, RF 49 2.2 Speed camouflages arm (gets there late)
Austin Jackson, CF 46 1.3  
Dustin Ackley, LF 67 0.0 Not a single outfield assist yet, incl. CF?
Seth Smith, RF 37, LOL 0.8  
Justin Ruggiano, RF 54, nice 0.0, though small data set
James Jones     about average in small data


Ackley, it seems, has never thrown out a runner in his life -- yet runners don't go on him.*  That's funny, and true, too.  Now that the stats bring it up, that's what it has looked like, hasn't it?

Seth Smith's arm won't matter a ton, but it will be funny to watch the carousel occurring in front of him.  SSI inside joke.  Let's kinda enjoy it, whattaya say.  Hose Ackley and Noodle Nelson, er, Smith.


Dr D

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