Monday, July 12, 2010

Girardi's Damages Credibility With Choice Of Konerko

On Wednesday, Justin Morneau suffered a concussion after taking a knee to the head trying to break up a double play against the Blue Jays. The Twins' slugger has a history of concussions and as a result, he hasn't played since, so the injury opened up a slot at first base on the All-Star team. In this situation, the manger of the American League squad is responsible for picking a player to replace the injured one. And Joe Girardi chose Paul Konerko over Kevin Youkilis, who just barely lost to Nick Swisher in the Final Vote.

The first reaction that many have had is that the Yankees skipper didn't want to take a player from the enemy Red Sox. Girardi's justification? The numbers:
I’m looking at the numbers, the numbers are close and one guy’s numbers are a little bit better. I took the guy whose numbers are a little bit better.
But did he?

Konerko has a slight lead in the three most popular (and flawed) metrics - batting average, homers and RBIs - but Youk has him beat by a mile in on-base percentage and has outslugged him by a fair bit as well. And this is before you account for fielding, which isn't even a contest between the two - Konerko is marginal at best while Youk is one of the better defenders at first base in the league and is capable of playing third base as well.

I'm not going to shed any tears over Youk not being named an All-Star this year and I don't think that Girardi avoided picking him because he's on the Red Sox. As Joe Posnanski put it:
Now, look, Joe Girardi is not some 12-year-old looking at the back of 1978 baseball cards. He’s the manager of the New York Yankees, the defending World Series champion, the $200 million super team and the biggest brand in American sports. And you’re telling me he really looks at the numbers of Paul Konerko and Kevin Youkilis’ numbers and thinks Konerko’s are “a little bit better?” This is beyond ludicrous.
Later in that same article, Poz also points out that one of these guys is a complete creation of the home park they play in, and it's not Youkilis.

Joe Girardi, Northwestern Grad, Man of Many Binders, Certified Mananger By The Numbers®
either didn't bother to or can't do some extremely basic and fundamental comparative analysis. Seriously?

You don't have to get into WAR and wOBA to see that Youk is having a better year than Konerko - just look at their on-base percentages. Plus, Girardi sees Youk on a fairly regular basis, so you'd think he'd have more respect for how tough of an out he is and what he is capable of defensively.

It's not up for debate. If you know anything about objective baseball analysis, you can determine within about 30 seconds at either B-Ref or FanGraphs, conclusively, that Paul Konerko is not having as good of a year as Kevin Youkilis.

Lots of times, when Girardi makes a pitching change late in the game or calls for a maneuver that I disagree with, I'll think to myself "Okay, maybe he just has more (and better) information than I do. Perhaps he knows something that I don't". Well, in this case at least, it's the other way around.