Monday, November 7, 2016

At last! The 2016 Yankee team leaders in RAA, (yes RAA!) And what it means for a certain star named Starlin

The Best R.A.A. Yankees of 2016
First, a disclaimer. I generally despise obscure, overly complicated, wonky stats - charts and graphs put forth by pizza-fueled couch obesities in order to meet girls. Nobody has ever been able to explain to me the W.A.R. - Wins Above Replacement - at least how it is calculated. Frankly, I doubt anybody knows. It's just a meta-stat, wrangled from other meta-stats, with a bow tied on it to suggest meaning, sort of like pi, and cholesterol counts, and your credit rating.

But, fuck, here we are, with Today's Chartola!: the R.A.A.: Runs Above Average. It's supposed to show the number of runs that a player produces, compared to the league average at his position. It's supposed take into account fielding, base-running and hitting - the holy enchilada. I offer it with one sizable caveat: Maybe all these numbers show is that the R.A.A. is another crock of crapola.

The worst R.A.A. Yankees of 2016
So... here goes. These are the best and worst Yankee R.A.A.s of 2016. Generally, there are few surprises - though this stat clearly doesn't do well with small samples. (Chris Parmelee was a blip on the screen.) And frankly, I believe Gary Sanchez must still prove himself over a season. That pretty average just kept falling. We still don't know where it will level off.

On the down side, we knew that Tex, A-Rod and Aaron Hicks were utter disasters. (I sorta hoped Hicks might be carried by his fielding, but nope: he totally sucked - a complete waste of lineup space.) After that, one player leaps out here, and soon - like, now - we ought to start wondering about him.

I'm talking about Starlin Castro, who had three seasons in 2016. 1. He began hot, 2. went into a deep slump, and then 3. became a mini-slugger. He turned the DP with a Cano-like flair and - with Didi at SS - seemed to stabilize the Yankee infield for years to come. Right?

Well, I dunno. There it is - a minus 10. And it clearly stems from Castro's inability to draw walks. His On-Base Percentage was a measly .300, ranking him 18th - eighteenth! - among MLB second-basemen. Only two other starters did worse. He ranked 11th in HRs - (2B has become a power position) - and was 6th in strikeouts. He fanned way too often.

At the end, Castro was hitting third, forth or fifth, which - frankly - was shameful. Maybe he tried to become a cleanup hitter, and that's why so many strikeouts. I dunno. But all the talk about the Yankees finding their SS-2B combo - I think much of it was the usual Cashman-brown-nosing by the YES men. The Cubs sure didn't miss him. If he can't get on base more than .300, I'm not sure we would either.

Listen: I don't want to beat the drums for Castro to be traded, or to make him a scapegoat. On a good team, he'd be a nice cog. I'm just wondering where we are going with him. We have a bunch of highly rated middle infield prospects who could reach Trenton and Scranton this July. None would be ready in spring training. But one could make Castro next winter's Brian McCann. In fact, that's what we should be hoping for.

And if the 2017 lineup has Castro batting anywhere above seventh, we're in trouble. The R.A.A. has spoken!

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