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Dispelling Some Myths

Doing away with some oft-cited bits of untruth that came to me over the course of the morning...

The Angels can't hit. The Angels have a 107 team OPS+ - better than our 106 - and that includes more than 300 at bats given to Shea Hillenbrand and Jose Molina. Their playoff lineup will feature exactly zero players currently below 101. Vlad Guerrero gets all the attention, but other than that precious little midget, there's hardly a bat on the roster that can't hurt you.

The A's can't hit. Since the beginning of May, this team has a .763 OPS in a cavernous ballpark. They're not intimidating, and they could probably use someone who hits for a little average, but they're light years ahead of their reputation.

The Devil Rays can't pitch. Read this. Tampa Bay has had one of the worst team defenses in recent history all year long, and it's just absolutely crippled the pitching staff. Going forward, they're in better shape than nearly every other organization in baseball.

The Yankees can't field. THT has them at 1 play below average on the season, Jeter and all. To date they've probably had one of the top five or six defensive outfields. The days of Jeter, Soriano, and Bernie being a bad joke up the middle are long, long gone.

The National League is pathetic. This one's true.

Jered Weaver is really good. He's not. He has a mediocre repertoire, spotty command (that's command, not control), big splits, and an entirely unimpressive set of peripherals. 4.66 xFIP in 2006, 4.78 xFIP in 2007. He's already taken a step backwards from what he was a year ago; there will be several more steps backwards in the future.

Jose Vidro is a good DH. An average player's BABIP - LD% is about .120. For Jose Vidro between 2002-2007, it's .107. This year, it's .154. Unless you believe that he's developed the unprecedented ability to hit the ball away from defenders, he's a .290 hitter who's overachieving. Other people doing the same thing this year: BJ Upton, Magglio Ordonez, Chase Utley, Matt Holliday, Ichiro, Vlad Guerrero. People who've had the opposite issue: Lyle Overbay, Richie Sexson, Ian Kinsler, Dan Johnson, Ryan Theriot, Andruw Jones.

Michael Young is a good player. If you can't recite this one from memory, you haven't been reading long enough.

Josh Beckett is far and away the best pitcher in the AL, and deserves to win the Cy Young. Beckett is 7th in ERA, 3rd in RA, 1st in FIP, and 3rd in xFIP. He's extremely good, but he's no better than Johan or CC Sabathia. Erik Bedard would've been the deserving candidate were it not for the injury. Prediction: Fausto Carmona doesn't get nearly enough support.

Lou Piniella got the Cubs turned around. The people who think Lou got the team on a roll seem to forget that the Cubs started the year 28-35 under the same manager. They also seem to forget that, through May, the team was seven games under despite a positive run differential. This isn't Lou - this is talent winning out over bad luck.

Alfonso Soriano is a superstar. Among left fielders with 450+ plate appearances, Soriano ranks 11th in EqA out of 17 at .279. Raul Ibanez is currently sitting at .278, Eric Byrnes at .281. Soriano's a fine defensive outfielder, but a superstar he is not.

Carlos Zambrano is an ace. He has both a FIP and xFIP in the mid-4's over the past two seasons, and a current ERA of 4.20 to go along with it. He's never been able to hit the zone with any consistency, and now his strikeout rate has taken a substantial drop from where it was in 2006. He's been durable, effective, and batshit insane, but he gets entirely too much attention for being something he isn't.

The Diamondbacks have a really talented young team. They're young, yeah, but that's about it. Webb is awesome, the bullpen's good, and the rest is no better than Pittsburgh. People get wide-eyed when they look at how much youth Arizona has on the roster, but they fail to take into consideration the fact that pretty much none of them can hit. I will never understand why this team is where it is.

Rafael Soriano is unreliable. His 68 appearances would rank second on the Mariners. His 69 innings are a career high, and he hasn't been on the DL all season. Last night he was throwing 96 in his fourth consecutive appearance (that's four straight days). He's allowed 63 baserunners, to go with 65 strikeouts. God, that trade was impossibly stupid.

The Giants have an awesome young rotation. Matt Cain, Noah Lowry, Tim Linecum, and Barry Zito are a combined 100 years old. Their xFIPs, in that order, are 4.69, 5.46, 3.89, and 4.99. None of them throw consistent strikes, and only one of them has shown the ability to miss a lot of bats. San Francisco badly needs a new wave of young talent to sweep away the old crap that Sabean's been collecting for the past 30 years, but Lincecum's probably the only guy here with any kind of respectable future ahead of him.

Prince Fielder is the clear NL MVP. Fielder has a 1.003 OPS, a 5.03 WPA, and a complete and utter inability to play first base. David Wright has a .966 OPS, a 4.03 WPA, and plays a mean 3B. Utley and Peavy also ought to get a ton of consideration of their own; Peavy might even be the best candidate in the pack, since the Padres would be absolutely nowhere without him.

Brandon Morrow will be a Major League-caliber starting pitcher in April 2008. I don't know where this is coming from, but there's no evidence of any truth. His biggest weapon - the 98mph fastball - will disappear as he gets stretched out, his offspeed stuff goes all over the place, and he has yet to have a single four-inning appearance anywhere at any professional level. Making Morrow our #4 or #5 out of ST next year has a great chance of turning into a disaster.

Florida has the best infield in baseball. Yeah, at the plate. With the glove, they're four absolute butchers, to an extreme that you wouldn't believe. Not a single one of them ought to be playing his current position.

Jon Papelbon is overrated. I'll be honest, I think LL is the only place anyone ever says this, and that's just because people are sick of how much more attention he gets than JJ. But Jon Papelbon is ridiculously awesome. 83 strikeouts in 55 innings? A 65% contact rate? Are you kidding? Papelbon deserves all the praise he gets.

A good bullpen is built on veteran experience. Of the top 20 relievers in WPA, Mariano Rivera, Alan Embree, and Jason Isringhausen are the grizzled vets. The rest are JJ Putz, Rafael Betancourt, Takashi Saito, Jon Papelbon, Joakim Soria, Heath Bell, Joe Nathan, Brandon Lyon, Carlos Marmol, Pat Neshek, Hideki Okajima, Peter Moylan, Tony Pena, Francisco Rodriguez, Joaquim Benoit, Manny Corpas and Rafael Perez. Bullpens don't need experience, they need talent.

There are a million more of these, but I should probably stop now before I get carried away.