Let’s Talk About The 2014 Bill James Handbook, Since it’s Cold Outside, Mostly…

2014 Bill James Handbook, with 27-year-old Texas Rangers ace RHP,
Yu Darvish (209IP 2.83 SIERA / 277K / 3.46K/BB / 78 FIP- /5 WAR) pictured on the cover. If
only I'd taken a better photo!
Before beginning, I would like to first apologize to readers and co-bloggers(!) for my absence during this off-season as a contributor here at the Brewers Bar. The types of contributions I most commonly submit are drawings. As it turned out, and, though not at all planned, I really must have needed a break from drawing! I was spending so much time doing illustrations, often working on multiple drawings a day. Lately, I've been working on a lot more music. Not that it's all that relevant to this blog, but, I'm preparing a solo jazz album, so I've been trying to get my playing and my ideas moving along in that direction. When I get really excited about something, I sometimes can't do anything else, so…In any event, I'm happy to say I've started up the drawing again…In addition, I have not stopped following baseball happenings. Even though it's kind of depressing for a Brewers fan. Also, here's my one statement about the trade for Will Smith –or, at least the Will Smith side of it. I'll have plenty more to say about Aoki, both planned and by accident– and it comes in the form of music. Well, and, there is this:
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On Sunday, I went to a nearby book shop, and got around my fear of escalators. I got the 2014 Bill James Handbook, which first came out November 1st. It's something you just have to get your hands on. True, we can very easily get a lot of this material on the internet…or, no, no we can't. Not in this book's beautiful layout. Even if you sign up for Bill James Online (recommended!), it will not take the place of having this reference guide around. At least, I haven't been able to cobble together this exact guide using the James site and other reference sites. Or, maybe they would, but this publication is celebrating its 25th edition, and it's not going to celebrate fewer. Boom. First item of business…

Bill James drawing from last year. It
was also a convenient holiday greeting
card for a few people. The Red Sox sure
had a good season.
Manufactured Runs, Productive Outs and The Milwaukee Brewers
This isn't the first item I looked at, but, it is one aspect of the 2013 season so far that I've learned about in the book that I wanted to highlight over others as of right now, or I may never get through this actual post. In 2013, it just seemed like the Brewers were running into outs to the point where the outs were just looking for them. That's what it felt like. It pushed me to do things such as this, in order to save myself from myself. To be certain, the base running metric, UBR (ultimate base running, for those unfamiliar) had the Milwaukee Brewers at 5th worst in baseball, at -9.1. So, those miscues cost them very close to a game. From looking at the base running, I guess the last thing I would think is that the Brewers would be below maybe the top 5 in unproductive outs. Or, the top half. They definitely wouldn't have the least number of unproductive outs, right? Well, hold on…
The Milwaukee Brewers, at 629, produced the lowest number of unproductive outs in baseball this past season! Next in line in this category is the St. Louis Cardinals (630) In the category of productive outs, they were 5th in all of baseball with 290. In addition, as one might next guess, after seeing the productive and unproductive outs figures, Milwaukee fared well in manufactured runs. They were tied (with the Mets) for 6th most in baseball in 2013. This is all thanks in no small part to the work of Norichika Aoki, who was 10th best in baseball with 27 manufactured runs, 33rd in productive outs (with 30) on the leaderboards, and, on that 3rd leaderboard that you'd rather not see a player on, he does not appear! As maddening as it could be to see him make outs on the base paths (along with our beloved shortstop Jean Segura, even catcher Jonathan Lucroy), I think –and it's not as if I didn't, already, but this is reinforced after picking up the 2014 Handbook– that Royals fans should be really happy…I'm going to miss Aoki. That's right. He's not a Brewer. So, I guess I should continue on with current Brewers : ) <- smiley face because they're Brewers. : / <- sad face because of what I said before the sentence preceding the smiley face. Jean Segura contributed 23 Manufactured runs, 25th on the list, and Carlos Gomez was in at 40th, right behind Shane Victorino with 19. Jonathan Lucroy, in the Productive Outs category, was ten spots behind former teammate Aoki with 28 of them. Unfortunately, he also appeared on the next list with 71 unproductive outs. He had a -6.5 UBR, per FanGraphs, so this is not surprising. When you've got Ryan Braun injured and then suspended, and Corey Hart out for a season, along with no real first baseman(/men!) and Aramis Ramirez not around much, plus bad run prevention, it's tough to complain about these players and (sigh…the next part is controversial) the *manager* trying to squeeze out as many runs as they possibly can. In fact, I will be thinking about Roenicke's role, as I explore the book further and go into the manager-related studies/segments. Runnin' Ron is a polarizing figure…at least, on twitter and other discussion boards, you always see people saying 'fire him" and if a person were to go so far as to point out anything positive about RR, (or RRR), the person might even get blocked or unfollowed by some members of this faction. Maybe that's going too far. But, although I completely understand that giving away outs via the bunt is something that should by all means be avoided…and, just basically giving away outs (and sacrifice bunts in general) can we not maybe look at the team's apparent success in having the least amount of unproductive outs, and the decent number of manufactured runs along with the good showing in the "productive outs" category, and put away the pitchforks? Actually, what are we doing with pitchforks, anyhow? I'm not sure anyone has them. Twitter is just not the best place to be, at times. At least he's not Ned Yost…
Agh. Nori is stuck with Ned Yost…Aghh.
I miss you, Aoki! Thanks for giving the Brewers 6 years of a pretty nice bullpen piece (and, hey, maybe a left-handed rotation piece, if next spring were to be kind to the Brewers, and Will Smith's process improved due to Rick Kranitz becoming a guru, or whatever).
Next order of business…
I had a Prince Fielder & Cecil Fielder become best friends, again comic that actually sprang up from looking at the plus/minus section of the Bill James 2014 Handbook, and it was stupid. Now, I don't want to put it up. Because it doesn't make the amount of sense it did to me at the time. It was more that I got distracted and started drawing. It had a lot less to do with the Handbook, and John Dewan.
Oh, what the heck…I'll just put it up. Then I'll go away.
(This was all supposed to be under the assumption Prince Fielder had just looked at the Bill James 2014 Handbook at the '3-year Trailers' for First Basemen and been absolutely in disagreement. The latter part might have been true, though. Prince would probably disagree. Again, it was really just me getting distracted).
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Although, it'd be nice if they'd patch things up. This is kind of a cute cartoon. Well, and sad. And incomplete. Actually, it's sad.
Jess Lemont

About Jess Lemont

Jess is mostly an illustrator, here, providing occasional theme music. As her profile picture would indicate, she does not (or, may not) have a the skill required for flipping bats, so a drawing has replaced it. Really, you could also think of her as the photographer without a camera, in that regard. And, really...maybe it's best not to ask beyond this point.