=== Throw Another Hog On the Barbie, Uncle Elmer ===
The Mariners hit 4 homers last night, the first game all year with more than a couple HR's. And on TV they riffled the mug shots across the screen like a Hold 'Em flop: Smoak, Peguero, Cust. All of them looked like football players. And it hit me.
It wasn't the UZR-vs-Runs conflict that had ever aggravated me so much. You know what it was? It was the fact that my fave ballclub had gotten so small.
Tonight, the second game of the year with 3+ homers. And in consecutive games? Is it the weather, or what?
Whose faces on the screen this time? Smoak, who always looks like he just threw down eight flapjacks, a dozen eggs and a pound'a bacon. And the thickly-muscled Miguel Olivo. And, okay ... Adam Kennedy the flier. But he is pretty big and strong, as 2B's go.
Bill James was asked off-the-cuff, "Hey, what's the difference between today's game and the 1970's?" He tapped his chin for a long while. Finally he said, "Well, the easiest thing to see is that in the 1970's, players were lean and fast and they could run. Today's player is much bigger, heavier, and slower."
I trust that everybody realizes that pro sports in America evolve forward. The 1967 Packers aren't going to be able to beat the 2011 Patriots. It's going to be opaque to sabermetrics, but position players need to be getting ever-more powerful. Not ever-more speedy. When I was a kid, only a couple of players weighed 240 lbs., like Nelson Cruz does.
miss the punch line? Cheap UZR is obtained by getting small, fast, 1970's players. The "invisible UZR advantage" of playing Jack Wilson types over Adam Kennedy types was never invisible. It was just obsolete -- twenty years ago.
It's hard to get our arms around fifteen arguments for UZR, fifteen arguments for RBI's, and twenty imperceptible facets of the baseball game that we don't yet know about. But the macro trend captures all of these things, the visible and the invisible, automatically, and provides us the answer without showing our work.
Baseball (and the NBA, and the NFL, and the NHL) has gotten bigger. Natural selection has already told us that little fast players lose to big powerful ones.
You've seen it the last two nights. Isn't baseball easier with power?
On Friday, we won 7-0. It seemed the Mariners had twelve hits. You look at the final line score and .... the Mariners had four (4) base hits on the night.
They won with homers, primarily, and with walks, not by stringing hits. Earl Weaver talked about a three-man LF platoon he had, that collectively hit an HR once every 14 at-bats. Earl snapped, "that means, once every fourteen at-bats those guys were doing a whale of a lot to win me a ball game."
You don't gotta hit three homers. With this rotation, start checking the ballclub's record when the Mariners hit one. Get a Palmer-McNally-Martinez type rotation and all of a sudden, hitting one ball out of the park will settle the evening's argument.