Sunday, March 16, 2008

Said Earl Weaver - He's "lucky he's in f****** baseball."

Who remembered that as recently as 2003 Deivi Cruz (and his .269 OBP and 14 HR (career high!)) was the Orioles starting shortstop? I guess I blocked that one from my memory. Brook Fordyce was the #1 catcher and Tony Batista started at third that year and had 26 HR and 99 RBI to go along with his .270 OBP. Anyone still think RBI are important?

I found this out while doing a little bit of research. I read an article about how Terry Crowley shouldn't be the O's hitting instructor any more. His philosophy of an aggressive approach, and the poor results that followed, are usually cited as the reasoning behind a change. I completely agree that the offense hasn't been very good recently, and a better hitting instructor (one who preaches patience, working the count to get a good pitch to hit, and not swinging at every first pitch) should be found as soon as possible. Doing the same thing over and over again (keeping the Crow around) and expecting different results (an improved offense) is kid of crazy. The whole "aggressive approach" thing may not hold that much water, though. I went through the O's teams over past few years to check out the walk and strike-out rates of players that came over to the O's from other teams (and in some case, left again) or were here before and after the Crow. If Crowley is having a big impact on making the hitters more aggressive when they get here, it seems that such a thing would show up in their BB/PA and K/PA. I also took age into account, as players tend to walk more as the get older. There was no complicated math done - I just eye-balled the numbers to draw some conclusions. [I only picked players who were with the team for at least two years, which actually eliminated a lot of people.]

Ramon Hernandez: BB/PA improved a good deal but K/PA got a bit worse.

Kevin Millar: His BB/PA has been trending upward for years but it really went up after joining the O's. The K/PA is in the same neighborhood. He is getting older though, which is when this is expected.

Miguel Tejada: The BB/PA is about the same, but the K/PA (which had been improving) has started to regress some.

Corey Patterson: Corey's BB/PA is about what it was before, but he's been able to cut his K/PA a lot (if you can actually believe that).

Jeff Conine: The BB/PA worsened a little, but the K/PA got much better.

Javy Lopez: The BB/PA regressed a bit, but the K/PA was about the same.

BJ Surhoff (Crow became coach in his 4rd year in Baltimore): His BB/PA got worse (and then better after going to Atlanta and when he came back). The K/PA also got much worse at first, but imporved after going to Atlanta and coming back.

Tony Batista: As bad as he was for the O's, he actually improved both his BB/PA and his K/PA after joining the team.

Brook Fordyce: There was pretty much no change here.

Mike Bordick (Crow became coach in his 3rd year): His BB/PA dropped and his K/PA went up.

Delino DeShields: BB/PA went up with only a small increase in K/PA.

David Segui: Segui's BB/PA and K/PA both went up a good deal.

Albert Belle: His BB/PA was about the same, but he cut down his K/PA.

Cal Ripken Jr (Crow became coach in his 19th year): Cal's BB/PA and K/PA were both falling before 1999, but the BB/PA fell of a cliff and the K/PA went up. This was the end of the line for him, though.

Brady Anderson (Crow became coach in his 12th year): Like Millar, his BB/PA was already trending upward steadilly (about .010 BB/PA a year increase) which was not altered by Crowley. His K/PA only went up a little. [Speaking of Brady, Voros McCracken did some research to find the "flukiest" home run seasons ever (well, since 1920) - he compared a players career home run rate with their rate for their big season. Brady Anderson's 1996 50 HR explosion ranked #1. I remember being at school and hearing someone one the radio say that he had hit number 50. It was a very exciting time for the O's, as they made the playoffs that year (it was elementary school). At least they're not the Pirates, who haven't even had a winning season in 15 years (and that doesn't look like it'll end any time soon).]

Overall: This is certainly a small sample size, and it suffers by not identifying how much Crowley actually worked with each hitter. I would say that regular aging progressions are more responsible for the increased BB/PA and K/PA that is seen on average, and that while the Crow isn't particularly good at what he does, he isn't doing too much to harm the offense. It may just be a matter of getting better hitters on the team to improve the offense (duh). I would like a new hitting coach who may actually be a benefit, but I don't think it's that big of a deal. It is possible that Crowley's attitude contributed to guys like Jack Cust not being comfortable here and not getting much of a chance. If that's the case, then I think that that is the better reason to ship him out, as opposed to the bad offenses he has coached.

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