Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Contested Elections

It's All-Star time again. I haven't bothered to comment on this year's teams because (a) like Jim, I find it difficult to get that excited about the game any more and (b) there were no real groaners on either team this year.

Most of the time, the "debate" over the All-Star selections is along the lines of:

How could they [elect/name] [Fill in the Blank] to the All-Star team? Doesn't anyone realize [Personal Favorite] has more [wins/home runs/stolen bases/game-winning RBIs] than [Fill in the Blank]? It's an outrage, I tell you!

Unfortunately, these discussions are only mildly diverting at best. The current selection process pretty much guarantees that several deserving players will be hosed. It sucks if it's your Personal Favorite who gets the shaft, but it's gotta happen to someone.

Case in point: Carlos Zambrano. A lot of Cub Fans thought he should have won Baron Budhausen's latest publicity flim-flam...errrrr...internet fan voting. For the record, I didn't (I thought Young, Oswalt, and Webb were more deserving).

Ironically enough, MLB created a reverse Vortex of Armaggedon by putting Zambrano on the fan ballot, with several of our esteemed pundits speaking out against Big Z's inclusion. Dr. Phil said with a straight face that Jason Marquis should have been on the ballot instead of Zambrano.

And Fox Sport's Ken Rosenthal shows us once again how fun and easy it is to mislead readers with vague statistics:

Earth to NL: Zambrano had a 5.62 ERA on June 1. Since then, he has produced five straight quality starts. Guess that makes him an All-Star.

Yes, Zambrano's ERA was an ugly 5.62 on 1 June. But Rosenthal's crack about quality starts is highly misleading.

A quality start, as we all know, is one in which the starter allows no more than four runs while lasting at least six innings. And, as we all know from the pundits who claim quality starts aren't really quality, that works to a 4.50 ERA.

Zambrano has been a little better than that. Here's what a slightly more honest Rosenthal may have said:
Earth to NL: Zambrano had a 5.62 ERA on June 1. In his five starts since then, he has produced a 1.43 ERA. In 37 and two-thirds innings, he struck out 43, and allowed only 31 base runners. But All-Stars should be honored for their body of work over the whole season, not because of a few good weeks in June. If our standards are "What have you done for me lately?" the I guess that makes him an All-Star.
I agree with Rosenthal that Zambrano should not have been on the fan ballot. But he had enough ammunition to make his case without resorting to weasel words.

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