"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
December 29, 2011
POLITICS/POP CULTURE: On, Yes, Kelly Clarkson and Ron Paul
Sometimes you write the stories, and sometimes they write you. I awoke this morning to a big, blazing Drudge headline about Texan pop starlet and American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson having endorsed Ron Paul for president. As it happens, I'm probably the only conservative political writer in America who has taken Clarkson seriously at some length (see here, here and here; I still follow her on Twitter and Facebook and the like), while at the same time following my RedState colleague Leon Wolf's magnificant series on the lunacy of Ron Paul and his campaign (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for lots of gory details), and for that matter I've written about the intersection of music and politics with an exhaustive look at the culture and politics of my favorite musician, Bruce Springsteen, so this story has my name written all over it. There's actually some lessons to be drawn here, whether or not you have any interest in Clarkson per se.
The first point up is how Clarkson's tweets about Paul are revealing of the mindset of a lot of 'soft' Ron Paul supporters. Those of us who write about politics on the internet tend to assume that all of Paul's support comes from hard-core Ronulans, of the sort who will swarm you on the web with the kinds of barrages of talking points and - often - ALL CAPS and hate speech (or just rambling email manifestos) that carry an overpowering stench of political fanatacism. (This is a major reason why RedState has banned the Paul supporters for years; en masse, they make reasoned discourse impossible).* Even the more polite, otherwise reasonable people who support Paul in web discussions tend to be absolutely immovable in their support, to the point where there's no realistic chance they could support any other Republican.
But when you do polling and casual discussions with people not following politics all that closely, you discover a fair number of people who have gotten the whitewashed version of Paul and aren't aware of the full depth of his crazy - people I have to believe are still persuadable that Paul is toxic. And that's exactly what Clarkson sounds like here. It started with this tweet
I love Ron Paul. I liked him a lot during the last republican nomination and no one gave him a chance. If he wins the nomination for the Republican party in 2012 he's got my vote. Too bad he probably won't.
we shouldn't try & help/tell other countries how to solve their issues w/the poor when we can't even solve our own.
I am about progress. Ron Paul is about letting people decide, not the government. I am for this.
All of which sounds reasonable enough; Paul is certainly in favor of more liberty at home and a less vigorous American role abroad, and while I regard his brand of isolationism as deeply dangerous, the general concept of getting out of the UN and the 'world policeman' role is attractive to an awful lot of people who are not crazy. This is the sort of thing why I run into people - friends, family - who tell me "you know, Ron Paul has a lot of good ideas." It's also why some of the saner people in the GOP who have some overlap with Paul's ideas - from the more conservative types like Mike Lee, to Paul's son Rand, to the more libertarian types like Gary Johnson - might be better spokesmen for some of those ideas.
Unfortunately, you buy Ron Paul, you buy the whole batty package: the flirtations with 9/11 Trutherism and other conspiracy theories, the "we had it coming" view of anti-American terrorism, the anti-Semitism and pro-Palestinian bias, the racist newsletters, and whatnot, all of which you can find at length in Leon's posts. And Clarkson, with nearly a million Twitter followers and nearly 3 million Facebook fans and a prior record of trying to keep herself out of political controversies, got inundated with hostility she clearly wasn't expecting for backing Paul, ultimately complaining about the volume of "hateful" attacks. Thus, the backtracks:
(There's a longer story here, which Dave Weigel has covered, as to why Paul still has apologists among gay liberals despite the content of his newsletters)
Most entertainers tend towards knee-jerk leftism, and even the more thoughtful ones - like Springsteen, who as I've discussed is in some ways a culturally conservative figure in his music despite his leftism - are often hard-core liberals or leftists. And the exceptions are sometimes no better; John Mayer came out as a vocal, hard-shell Paul supporter in 2008, and in Mayer's case that seemed to dovetail with some of his own more unsavory characteristics. One of the reasons I like Clarkson, aside from her music, is that she thinks for herself and is frequently a lonely voice for sanity in the insane world of pop music. Her words on the death of Amy Winehouse was one example of this:
Sometimes I think this job will be the death of us all, or at least the emotional death of us all. Maybe that is why as a little kid in sunday school I learned that God didn't want false gods or idols. I thought it was terribly selfish of God as a child but I think I get it now. He didn't want us following people or things that are imperfect and not so much for the followers but for the gods and/or idols who will never be what everyone wishes or needs them to be because we are made imperfect. He knew we wouldn't be able to handle the pressure, the shame, the glory, or the power the spotlight brings.
Her background ought to make her the kind of swing voter the GOP can reach: raised poor among strict Christian Texas Democrats, Clarkson is something of a stubborn holdout for decency and modesty in pop music, refuses to describe herself as a feminist, owns 9 guns and sleeps with a Colt .45 for protection, and is a self-described Republican but one who voted Obama four years ago:
I just want someone that's about change, and that's what [Barack Obama] campaigned on, and that's what I'm hoping happens. I'm very much a Barack fan.
A lot of people felt that way about Obama in January 2009, but the thrill is long gone, even in Hollywood.
Political coalitions, of course, inevitably involve picking and choosing positions that alienate some people you might otherwise reach. Ron Paul, now 76 years old, will be gone from the stage after this election, but the challenge of how to appeal to people who like some of the themes he projects but aren't fans of more conventional Republican ideas - people like Kelly Clarkson - will persist.
Read More »
* - We at RedState are by no means the only people in the political sphere to notice this. For a flavor from Twitter across every stage of the political spectrum of horror at the nuttiness of both Paul and his fans, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
« Close It
December 19, 2011
WAR: The Kim Is Dead
If you ever wondered who would be depraved enough to stick up for Kim Jong Il, your answer would be the U.N.’s World Health Organization. Because, of course, North Korea has "universal health care."
POLITICS: Why Newt?
As we all know by now, there's Good Newt and there's Bad Newt. If you want the full Good Newt experience, check out this speech he gave to the NRA convention back in April. If you don't have time for the full 26-minute speech, watch from around the 5:18 mark to about the 14:30 mark. It's spellbinding.
POLITICS: Doubling Down With Rick Perry
The faster this race gets down to three candidates (or three plus Paul and Huntsman), the better for Perry, who can lie in wait to consolidate the conservative wing of the party when and if Newt collapses. I continue to believe Romney cannot win a long two-man race against a more conservative opponent who has the money to go the distance.
December 15, 2011
POLITICS: The Newt Conversation
Let's imagine the primaries as a conversation between the conservative grassroots and the national media elite (including the conservative media establishment):
Elite: Time to find a new national standard-bearer, Republicans. But not somebody dumb, like George W. Bush.
Grassroots: We love Sarah Palin!
Elite: She's dumb. You can't have her.
Grassroots: We love Michele Bachmann!
Elite: She's dumb. You can't have her.
Grassroots: We love Rick Perry!
Elite: He's dumb. You can't have him.
Grassroots: We love Herman Cain! And you're not allowed to call him dumb!
Elite: He's...Ok, you got us there. But he doesn't know anything. He's ignorant.
Grassroots: So, you want smart, educated, knowledgeable, good in debates? That's your criteria?
Elite: Absolutely. Go find somebody like that. We have a pretty good idea what we have in mind.
Grassroots: You asked for it, bro. We love Newt Gingrich, Ph.D, historian and mad scientist! We love his debating style and his enormous head and his 24 books and his moon mining schemes! He's gonna lecture you guys until you beg for mercy!
[A few months later]
Elite: We give up! We can't take it anymore! Send us back that Perry guy! We have carpal tunnel from taking so many notes! We're sick of looking up obscure battles on Wikipedia and ordering out-of-print books on eBay to do fact checking! The pages of our thesauruses are falling out! We just want to ask a simple question without having our premises fundamentally challenged! Uncle!
December 14, 2011
POLITICS: Taking Newt Gingrich's Ideas Seriously
Ideas don't run for president; people do. That's as true today as it was four years ago. So, it is understandable that much of the press and blog coverage of the 2012 GOP primary race has focused on the personalities, experience and record of the candidates rather than their ideas. In fact, until you know the candidates by their actions, you cannot meaningfully judge what their words will mean in practice. Mitt Romney is the prime example of this, having so inconsistent a record that it's impossible to take seriously the idea that he's guided by any sort of coherent political philosophy.
But as it happens, we do have three candidates in this race who stand for a distinctive philosophical approach to domestic policy. One of those, Ron Paul, espouses a radical constitutionalism that exists on the periphery of the conservative movement. Rick Perry, while his issue stances are more conventionally (but not always uniformly) conservative, can best be understood through the lens of his guiding principle as a Texas nationalist - a belief that a significant amount of the powers now wielded by the federal government should be returned to the states. And then there's Newt Gingrich. Newt generates so many new ideas - he develops more firmly-held political convictions before breakfast each morning than Romney's had his entire life - that it's tempting to view them as essentially random. But there is a method to the madness. Setting aside for a moment Gingrich's personal attributes, let's look at his ideas, with particular attention to two recent interviews he did - one with Ben Domenech, Brad Jackson and Francis Cianfrocca at Coffee and Markets, the other with Glenn Beck. Both provide a keen window into how Newt views domestic policy issues. In the interests of length, I'll pass over one of the three pillars of Newt's worldview (his futurism and faith in new technologies), which has been written about extensively, and focus on two others: his gradualism and his revival of what I call "Reform Conservatism."
Read More »
I. The Gradualist
Newt's penchant for apocalyptic rhetoric, revolutionary slogans and promises to fundamentally rethink things tends to get him branded as an agent of bracing changes; even Jonah Goldberg frames the contest between Newt and Romney as a question of whether Republican voters are in the mood for radical overturning of the status quo. The DNC has echoed this theme by calling Newt "the original Tea Partier," suggesting - as it did in the 1990s - that Newt wanted to do too much, too fast in ways voters couldn't stomach.
But that's Newt's reputation and rhetorical style; it's not how he actually looks at domestic legislation. He is, in many ways, a gradualist, a temperamental conservative - not one who resists change for the sake of resisting change, of course (precisely the opposite, as I'll discuss below) but rather an ardent believer in the idea that policy proposals need to be modest and incremental enough to gain a large share of public support. In this regard, a Gingrich presidency would mark a departure from Karl Rove's "50 + 1" approach as well as from the bitterly divisive, passed-over-voter-objections approach to Obamacare. Going back to the Contract with America, Newt has long preached the value of "60% issues" or even more dramatically "80/20 issues," on which a politician can target his proposals to what a large majority of the public actually wants (thus, in the 1990s, welfare reform, congressional reforms, balanced budgets and a capital gains tax cut). In 2009, we had Newt's Platform of the American People, complete with Newt's view of the polling on each issue:
1. English should be the official language of government. (87 to 11)
Ditto Newt's philosophy of persuading the public, which dovetails with his "happy warrior" approach in this campaign:
1. Select positive messages.
Applying that approach to the great entitlement crises of the day, Newt has focused on the need to overhaul Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, but do so in a way that moves slowly enough to keep a nervous public on board. From the Beck interview, Newt explained why he supported the Medicare prescription drug bill (the first Newt quote is an earlier one Beck played; I've truncated these for space):
GLENN: ...You said if you are a fiscal conservative who cares about balancing the federal budget, there may be no more important bill to vote on in your career than in support of this bill. This was what you said about a new you entitlement, Medicare prescription drug program.GINGRICH: Which also included Medicare Advantage and also included the right to have a high deductible medical savings account, which is the first step towards moving control over your health dollars back to you. And I think is a very important distinguishing point. On the government, my position is very straightforward. If you're going to have Medicare, which was created in 1965, and was created at a time when practically drugs didn't matter. There weren't very many breakthroughs at that point....
Beck then asked about Paul Ryan's Medicare plan, and Newt responded by focusing on the political feasibility of doing it all at once:
GINGRICH: I think that that is too big a jump. I think what you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options, not one where you suddenly impose upon. I don't want -- I'm against ObamaCare which is imposing radical change and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change.
This is your basic boil-the-frog theory: introduce alternatives, let people choose, and - to use the notorious phrase Newt used in the 90s regarding Medicare - let the old system wither on the vine. (It's also Perry's approach to tax reform). And the gradualism is one of the lessons Newt undoubtedly learned, or learned better, from Bill Clinton. Newt closed by bringing this back to the issue of public trust:
GINGRICH: ...I also think you can reshape Medicare but I think you have to do it in a way that people find it desirable and that people think -- and that people trust you. I helped reform Medicare in 1996 in a way that saved $200 billion and we had no major opposition to it. And people concluded that we had thought it through and we were doing the right thing and they were comfortable with it.
In the Coffee and Markets interview, Newt criticized the tendency of some conservatives to want messy confrontations:
...they come back and say well, Gingrich still doesn't cut Social Security. Well, if I just fix it, maybe you don't need to. There's a book, this goes back to the '60s, there's a book called Change, Problem Perception, Problem Resolution by a group of anti-Freudian psychologists who said, instead of having you go through therapy what if we just fix your problems? Would that be okay, or would you miss not having gone through therapy?
Newt took a similar approach to Medicare:
If what [Romney] is suggesting is a mandatory premium support plan, including people currently on Medicare, he is talking about a politically impossible proposal. Which of course he can't tell you about in detail because if he told you about it in detail AARP, and 60 Plus and others would end his campaign in about three days.
In short, a critical component of understanding Newt's approach is that for all his pie-in-the-sky futurism, he starts with the most conservative idea of all: taking the world as it already exists as the starting point, and needing to propose changes that can rest on a foundation of durable public support. Whether or not you agree with his judgments of what's feasible, that's a sound and canny basis for shaping legislative proposals.
II. The Reform Conservative
The second aspect of Newt's approach, and the one that explains a good number of his deviations from conservative orthodoxy, goes back to one of the great debates of the 1988-2008 period: what I referred to in 2004 as "Reform Conservatism," essentially the Jack Kemp school of thought. Newt Gingrich is nothing if not a Jack Kemp man.
There are four basic points on the political spectrum. At one end you have the progressives/liberals, who think that the government should run all sorts of things - education, healthcare, transportation, business and housing finance, etc. - and trust government employees to make the important decisions. The money goes through Washington, and the decisions are made by public employees. At the other end, you have conservatives who want government out of the picture as much as possible, and want private individuals, businesses and markets to make decisions. The money and the power both remain outside the government's control.
In the middle - aside from just status-quo moderates - you have two other groups. One is the neoliberals, who basically recognize that government isn't good at making these kinds of decisions, but tend to propose solutions (e.g., in the education world, things like merit pay and testing for teachers) that seek to hold government decisionmakers more accountable for results. The other is the group - whether you call them neoconservatives or Reform Conservatives or what have you - that essentially accepts the existing role of government in collecting taxpayer money for these various purposes, but wants to return the power over that money's disposition as much as possible to private individuals: school choice, private Social Security and Health Savings Accounts, etc., all containing moneys that orthodox conservatives would suggest not taxing or restricting in the first place.
As I noted in 2004, some of the reasoning behind these kinds of programs is tactical, dovetailing with Newt's preference for taking current reality as a starting point. And Newt would bring about real reductions in public employment with his "lean six sigma" plan to drastically cut civil service employment, a reduction in government's functioning that is one reason why - as he indicated in the Coffee and Markets interview - he doesn't see it as all that crucial that he or his running mate have executive experience:
The lesson of Harry Truman is that presidents are about leadership not management. Presidents hire managers. Lincoln had managed a two lawyer office with no clerks. That was the sum total of his management experience before he got to be President.
But it's clear that Newt actually believes in a role for government as tax collector for various domestic-policy purposes; he just doesn't trust the government to actually run anything. The Beck interview again:
What I'm against is the government trying to implement things because bureaucracy's such a bad implementer, and I'm against government trying to pick winners and losers....
You will not find this Hamiltonian view at any Tea Party rally you might attend. Newt's Reform Conservatism is on solid ground when it comes to tactics, and undoubtedly it involves fewer micro-level decisions about picking winners in the economy than liberalism does (with its attendant inevitable Solyndra-style abuses and corruptions) but at heart it still presents the basic problem that somewhere, someone has to decide what the "right" things are to subsidize so as to "creat[e] a better future." And it also presents tension with his desire to make real and meaningful cuts in taxes. And at bottom, it opens Newt to many of the same risks and criticisms that plagued George W. Bush's "Compassionate Conservatism."
In summary, Newt Gingrich's approach can't be fully understood with an easy caricature of big or small government, status quo or radical change. What Newt stands for, and intends to carry out if elected, is a series of major changes in how government operates - done step by gradual step, introducing more popular choice and control and reducing public employment, rather than focusing on making dramatic and immediate cuts to public outlays or public functions. Newt's gradualism is an attitude that's inseparable from both his training as a historian and his obsession with the future: Newt sees change as a constant and a continuum, in which the future is reshaped by the way in which incentives are altered and power put in the hands of people who will not willingly cede it back.
It is open to fair debate whether, in designing such an agenda, Newt is more realistic and more savvy in reading what is politically possible than more Tea Party oriented Republicans, or is passing up a unique historic opportunity to get the public behind razing big chunks of Washington at once. But either way, there is a distinctive philosophy at work that deserves as much attention in understanding his platform as Newt's personality, character and experience.
« Close It
POLITICS: State of the Race
I've got a handful of essays on the 2012 primaries in the hopper if I can ever get them finished. For those of you who aren't following me on Twitter, here's the short summary of my thinking at present.
1. I'm still with Rick Perry, who would clearly be the best president and most reliable conservative in the race. Perry still has the executive experience and steady temperament best suited to the job (plus his service record and stable family life), and he still has the money and organization to go the distance if the primaries turn into a long slog, something candidates like Bachmann and Santorum lack. Perry has come from behind before - in his 2010 primary race against Kay Bailey Hutchinson he trailed by 20 points in some early polls, but he outworked and outlasted her. Obviously Perry is not a good debater, is prone to Bush-style gaffes and had some other missteps in reacting to the early onslaught of negative press, but he was also hurt by the dynamics of the race at that point - he's a better when given more time to speak (a problem on an 8-candidate stage), and Bachmann in particular has devoted most of her energies to running interference for Romney, which meant that when Perry emerged he had a stage full of people attacking him and nobody attacking Romney. Perry's virtues are more on display in this unscripted Veterans Day video he did for Ben Howe of RedState:
All that said, Perry's in a fairly deep hole at the moment, and realistically he may not be able to get out of it unless three things happen, none of which is all that unlikely individually, but running the table may be harder: (1) Newt implodes, (2) Romney fails to consolidate the support of the 75% or so of the voters who really don't want him as the nominee, and (3) some of the other candidates drop out so that voters are forced to look more closely at what's left.
2. I've been as surprised as anyone by the Newt boomlet, but it mostly comes down to the fact that Newt is an excellent debater, and there have been a whole lot of debates. I still think Newt 2012 is basically a bad idea, for a lot of reasons I've discussed before; I don't think he is really well-suited to be a chief executive, as streiff explains here. On the other hand, I've always liked Newt as an intellectual and rhetorical resource for the Right, and all things considered I have reached the point of having him as my second choice behind Perry, much as it astonishes me to type that. Anyway, much more on Newt to follow. If he's the nominee, he'll be a neverending smorgasbord for political journalism. The feeling may be mutual, as Ben Domenech has hilariously illustrated in the daily must-read Newt Judges You.
Newt's return from the political wilderness has some parallels to Nixon, Reagan, Churchill, De Gaulle, FDR...among others. But I think the best parallel is a guy I have seen for years as extremely similar to Newt, and that's Benjamin Netanyahu. Some conservatives may object that Netanyahu is awesome, but Newt would look pretty awesome from a distance of a few thousand miles as well. Closer observers of Israel know the flaws that come with Netanyahu's toughness, eloquence and deep patriotism.
The one thing Newt has improved the most since the 1990s is his demeanor. He's much more the happy warrior than the scowling bombthrower these days. Looking back, Rudy Giuliani's 2008 campaign suffered from the fact that he had mellowed with age; some mellowing, in Newt's case, may prove a great asset.
Newt is a whole lot of fun to watch do this, and for all my misgivings about him as the nominee, if that's what we come to, I intend to enjoy the ride.
3. One of the telling things to watch, previewed by his "$10,000 bet" debate line and Newt's broadside against his record at Bain, is how well Romney holds up to criticism of his wealth and business record. That's a theme Republicans have been - typically - hesitant to push too hard, but it will be the #1 avenue of attack by the Democrats, and as distasteful as that sort of thing is, we may as well see how he stands up to it now.
4. Not to lean too heavily on the work of my fellow RedStaters, but Neil Stevens explains why you should put no stock in the PPP poll showing Ron Paul within striking distance in Iowa.
5. Herman Cain's implosion will not teach the unteachable among us the perils of untested rookie candidates at the national level, but it should. I'd have gladly supported Cain for a governorship, but he was in over his head running for president.
6. Jon Huntsman has gotten a lot of second looks from desperate conservatives, partly because he's got the basics of a good resume with no obvious weaknesses (executive and foreign policy experience and a stable family as well as stuff like being tall and rich), partly because his policy proposals are really good and conservative, and his record is more conservative than people think. But we are ultimately imprisoned by our own choices, and Huntsman not only chose to abandon the domestic policy battles of 2009-10 to go work for Obama overseas, he chose to hire as his most visible political adviser John Weaver (the GOP-hating former McCain adviser who tried to get McCain to switch parties and whose termination in July 2007 coincided with the nadir of the McCain campaign) and to telegraph his disdain for conservative voters on a bunch of cultural and economic wedge issues, resulting in his candidacy attracting a vocal cheering section among people with the most poisonous of relationships with the primary electorate. (Huntsman's sneering unlikeability in debates hasn't been an asset either, nor his tendency to overrate his own sense of humor) He's the equivalent of a liberal blue-state governor launching a presidential campaign by touting his evangelical Christianity and mocking believers in evolution and global warming; that would go over like a lead balloon in a Democratic primary. The only way Huntsman could begin to repair that damage is by doing a fundamental reboot of his image, starting with sacking Weaver. His unwillingness to do that cements the suspicion that he's still at heart a rich guy from Palo Alto who doesn't much like the people whose votes he's asking for.
December 12, 2011
FOOTBALL: Money Talks
POLITICS: Old School
December 6, 2011
BASEBALL: Quality and Quantity
One of my longstanding hobbyhorses in baseball analysis is two related points: (1) durability/quantity of playing time matters and (2) because baseball is played in seasons, it matters to study how much a player contributed by season. For example, one of my points of disagreement with Bill James' argument in his first Historical Abstract for Lefty Grove over Walter Johnson as the best pitcher in MLB history is the failure to adjust for the fact that Johnson was frequently at or around the league lead in innings; Grove carried a less demanding workload by the standards of his own time, and won two of his ERA titles late in his career (with the Red Sox) as effectively a Sunday pitcher, starting less than 24 games a year.
How often have pitchers been the best in the league (by ERA+, ERA adjusted for park and league) and led the league in innings in the same year? It's rarer than you might think - there are plenty of guys like Roy Halladay who have led the league in both, but never in the same year. Most likely because those last few innings can sometimes bring diminishing returns.
What's even more impressive is pulling the feat multiple times. As it turns out, only two pitchers have done it more than twice: Greg Maddux (four years running from 1992-95, including tying Denny Neagle for the league lead in innings in 1995) and Grover Alexander in 1915-16 and 1920 (interrupted by his service in World War I, which cost him most of 1918. I discussed the monumental nature of Alexander's peak and workload in this 2003 essay. Maddux got his just a bit cheaply (1994-95 were strike-shortened schedules, in which he led the league with just under 210 innings pitched each year), but it's still a staggering achievement when you consider how far he stood above the league.
Five other pitchers have managed the feat twice. One is Walter Johnson, who led the league in innings five times and ERA+ six times, and synced the two in 1913 (when he had a 1.14 ERA and 259 ERA+) and 1915. The others were Randy Johnson in 1999 & 2002, Roger Clemens in 1991 & 1997 (the latter an IP tie with Pat Hentgen), Steve Carlton in 1972 & 1980, and Bucky Walters in 1939-40. The rest to do it once are below the fold
Read More »
Justin Verlander 2011
« Close It
Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:05 PM | Baseball 2011 | Baseball Studies | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
December 5, 2011
BASEBALL: Santo Goes In
The Veterans Committee elects the late Ron Santo to the Hall of Fame, almost a year to the day after his death. Here's my April 2010 column on the great 3B, which rated him #6 all time and unquestionably a worthy inductee.
BASEBALL: How to Score Runs, Part II
I cut off my examination of runs scored per times on base at 1920 because of the many ways in which the early game was different. But let's complete the picture with guys who reached base 3500 or more times and were active before 1920 (I went through the end of their careers this time, so the numbers for Babe Ruth are a little different here; Frankie Frisch's totals are different but the percentages are the same). The #1 man here, of the 24 guys who qualified, sure does stick out. I ran the numbers both with and without including homers, and ranked by the latter:
Just out of curiosity, I ran the same numbers over the whole 1871-2011 period for three groups of players with over 2000 plate appearances who seemed likely to score a lot: players who scored at least 60% of their times on base overall, players who scored at least 0.85 runs per game, and players who stole at least 30% as many bases as times on base. It will not surprise you that this list is dominated by guys from the game's very earliest days; Keeler sticks out a lot less on this list, when compared to contemporaries and teammates like Hamilton, Delahanty, McGraw, Thompson, Duffy and Brouthers. It's sort of disappointing that the all-time leader here is the obscure Ned Cuthbert, who retired in 1884 with a career .276 OBP, but the #2 man is the game's very first dominant superstar, and the #3 man one of the founding fathers of organized professional baseball:
Read More »
So yes, while the modern leader over a career with 3500 or more times on base is Kenny Lofton, both Vince Coleman and Miguel Dilone scored more frequently once on base.
PS - Take another look at that list and consider how many guys above 50% batted in front of Cap Anson - I don't know where Anson hit in the batting order in the 1870s (by the 1880s, before you had to announce lineups before the game, he was inserting himself whenever there were men on base) - Barnes, McVey, Dalrymple, Kelly, Gore and Sunday all come to mind.
« Close It
Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:05 AM | Baseball 2011 | Baseball Studies | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Signing With The Fishes
1) It's almost impossible to evaluate whether it makes sense for the Mets to decline to match the Marlins' offer. As I've been saying for months now, the one piece of information Mets fans most need to evaluate the team's moves is the one we don't have reliable access to: the true financial condition of the team. Without that, everything we say is speculation.
2) That said, given the size of the Mets' market compared to the Marlins', and given that Reyes was a popular, homegrown player with strong ties to the community and (until now) a great fit with the dimensions and layout of Citi Field, it's almost certainly the case that Reyes was worth a good deal more money to the Mets than to the Marlins. Reyes' loss is a grievous blow to the Mets, who will likely be unable to meaningfully replace him in a market so short on quality shortstops (count me still a skeptic about Ruben Tejada as a hitter; at best he'll be adequate). But he may, at the same time, be terribly overpriced for the Marlins if their spending spree and new ballpark don't turn them overnight into a team able to run big-market nine-figure payrolls on an annual basis. A team with a $125 million payroll can afford to pay $17.5 million to a dynamite player who averages 120-130 games per year (Reyes averaged 133 games a year overall from age 22-28, 98 a year the past three seasons); a team with a $65 million payroll can't, because it won't have the flexibility to build around Reyes (think of the Rangers pitching staffs during the A-Rod era). And the $60.4 million payroll the Marlins shelled out in 2005 was the highest in franchise history; the average Marlins payroll over the past 19 years has been $35.6 million. Maybe that was all a multi-decade poor-me act designed to get them to the current status of having a taxpayer-funded stadium (now under SEC investigation, see here and here), but only time will tell if Jeffrey Loria is now ready to run the kinds of annual payrolls needed to justify a luxury item like Reyes, the baseball equivalent of a high-end sports car that's often in the shop.
3) Evaluating how Reyes translates into the new park is more complicated. He hit exceptionally well at Citi Field relative to scoring levels at the park, but the Mets are - in light of his departure - remodeling the place, and the new park in Florida is untested.
PS - Using the metric I was playing with on Friday, Reyes in his career has reached base 1699 times as a Met, third on the team's all-time list behind Ed Kranepool and David Wright, and he's scored 43.3% of the time, or 40.4% of the time if you exclude home runs - a rate that would put him among the elite of all time. Among the Mets to reach base more than 1000 times, the only other guy above 32.5% (excluding homers)? Mookie Wilson at 38.8% (lowest was Jerry Grote at 19.7%, even below Rusty, Kranepool, Piazza and Keith Hernandez).
December 2, 2011
BASEBALL: How to Score Runs
What does it take to score runs? Well, getting on base is Job #1. But once you're on base, not everybody scores at the same rate. Among players who reached base (counting errors) at least 3500 times since the dawn of modern offenses in 1920, here's the 20 guys who scored most often:
There's no single common thread here. Most of these guys played on good offenses and/or in good offensive times, in particular in lineups with a lot of high OBPs. Many of them were excellent at getting to scoring position on their own, whether by power (Ruth, Gehrig) or speed (Rickey, Brock). Others, like Mickey and A-Rod, had both great power and, in their younger years, excellent speed. (Obviously, you could re-run this with adjustments for HRs and the like to see who scores from where they start).
Now, the bottom ten:
No surprise here: Rusty is the slowest of a slow lot, and only McCovey - who played in a low-scoring era - had great power in this group. This is why Rusty is not in the Hall of Fame, despite being arguably a good enough hitter to be in there, compared to other guys with similar longetivity. Here's the rest of the list:
Read More »
UPDATE: Here's the top 20 and bottom ten if you remove homers from both runs and times on base. Top 20, which drops the Babe way down the list:
Bottom 10, which puts McCovey and Harmon Killebrew below Rusty:
« Close It