Over at The Baseball Analysts, Patrick Sullivan and Rich Lederer invited Kevin Kernan of the New York Post to take part in an NL East preview. Player projections are presented, plus commentary and predictions from the three participants. Sullivan and Lederer provide some worthwhile objective insight, while Kernan generally tries to play up his role as New York media big shot. Here is the trio's take on NL East centerfielders:
Sully: It's rare that someone joins a big market team and then becomes underappreciated but is that what we are seeing with Carlos Beltran? After his ridiculous 2004 post-season, Beltran joined the Mets and save for a lackluster first season in Flushing, has been one of the best players in baseball. He's on a HOF track.
Rich: No contest here. Beltran is the man. He's the full package, a five-tool player capable of changing games with his bat, glove, arm, or legs.
Kevin: No one has more confidence than Shane Victorino and that cannot be undersold. Beltran says his knees are healthy again. For all the money the Mets spent on Beltran, they have one playoff appearance to show for it.
One of these responses is not like the others. Yes, Kernan's take is factually accurate, but the implication that Beltran is the reason for the Mets failure to make the playoffs the last two seasons is laughable. I'm beating a dead horse here, but for a writer of a New York publication with the country's 6th largest circulation it's some pretty sorry analysis. I suppose he's trying to uphold the New York media mantra of "win a championship or you're a bum", but seriously, how hard is it for a professional baseball writer to take a 30-second glimpse at Fangraphs or Baseball Reference to learn a player's value? Explanations of the excellence that is Carlos Beltran are supplied here, here, here, and here. I love Lederer's quote of "Beltran is the man". So simple yet so true. Here are a couple other gems from Mr. Kernan. This one is about NL East shortstops:
Kevin: Numbers don't tell the entire story of this position. Jimmy Rollins has an inner toughness that enables him to lift his game at the most vital times. This is the Division of Shortstops. Not a bad duo for Dominican team in WBC with Reyes and Ramirez.
The NL East is indeed the "Division of Shortstops", but please stop selling us the concept that Rollins is some sort of other-wordly clutch entity. His WPA was 0.53 in 2008, good for 6th on his own team. Is Rollins's "inner toughness" responsible for his .229/.289/.443 career postseason line? Here's Kernan on NL East first basemen:
Kevin: Over a 23 day span in September the revitalized Carlos Delgado slugged seven home runs and drove in 19 runs. Over that same stretch Ryan Howard hit 11 home runs and drove in 31 runs. Enough said.
I don't doubt that Howard is more valuable than Delgado, but the reasoning is pitiful. Let's reverse Kernan's statement, cherry-picking another 23 day span:
"Over a 23 day span from August 8th through August 30th, Ryan Howard slugged 5 home runs and drove in 16 runs with a .698 OPS. Over that same stretch Carlos Delgado hit 7 home runs and drove in 23 runs with an .864 OPS. Enough said."